As America’s first quarantined dog of an Ebola patient, Bentley’s fame may be spreading as fast as the deadly virus he may or may not have.
So much so that we suspect the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is receiving more attention, donations and expressions of support — at least online — than his sick human, Dallas nurse Nina Pham, who contracted the disease while caring for the first Ebola victim to be diagnosed in America.
This being America, a dog-crazy land, that wouldn’t be too surprising.
That funds are being raised in his name isn’t too surprising either.
That he already has a “wish list” set up on Amazon? That’s a little surprising.
As soon as Bentley was moved Monday to the undisclosed (at least initially) location he’s being quarantined and monitored in, the campaigns to raise money in his name began — ostensibly to help pay for his care, in reality for much more.
“Poor Bentley the Dog Needs You to Buy 67 Items From His Amazon Wish List,” reads the headline on a Dallas Observer blog post.
We’re sure he doesn’t truly need a $239 Lawn Boy lawnmower; or a Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener, in black and chrome; or a thermal label printer; or a $299 microchip reader; or a Bluetooth portable GPS navigator.
But between the news media delighting in tugging our heartstrings, and some savvy sorts at Dallas Animal Services who know a fundraising opportunity when they see one, that’s the way the story is coming across.
It started where all things start, or at least end up — on Facebook.
Dallas Animal Services posted a picture (left)) wih a list of ways people could help support Bentley while he is in quarantine. The post pointed out that any extra donations — of paper towels, pee pads, toys and rawhide chews — would go to other dogs awaiting adoption.
It’s a pretty common practice among animal shelters — seizing upon the case of one sympathy-inducing dog to raise funds for more than just that one dog. It’s not an evil practice. It’s well-intentioned. While it may be a tad deceptive, it’s effective.
And given the total lack of foresight, knowledge and protocol when it comes to Ebola victims and their pets (we’ll talk more about this Monday), such fundraising techniques could prove highly necessary in the months and years ahead.
Bentley has served as a wake-up call — as, in a way, did Excalibur, the dog of Spain’s first Ebola patient. Excalibur was quickly destroyed, even though there’s no proof dogs can get Ebola or pass it on to humans.
While Dallas Animal Services is overseeing the care of Bentley — now sequestered at a decommissioned Naval air base nearby — the Dallas Fire Department’s Hazmat Response Team is doing the hands-on (and gloves on, and hazmat suits on) work, feeding and cleaning up after the dog.
Dallas Animal Services is continuing to keep the public posted on Bentley, mostly through its Facebook page, but its campaign to seek donations in his name apparently was toned down, if not halted, at least temporarily.
CBS in Dallas, which reported on the campaign, later reported that Dallas Animal Services has suspended its request for donations and pulled the Facebook post. Whether that’s because someone deemed it deceptive or exploitative isn’t known. No reason is given.
As for that Amazon “wish list,” it’s still up, but, just to be clear, those are items Dallas Animal Services need — not exclusively for the care of Bentley.
At the end of last week, a more formal funnel for donations helping the dogs of Ebola victims was set up. The city teamed up with Dallas Companion Animal Project, a nonprofit organization, which has created the Dallas Pet Emergency Transition Services fund to help pay for the care of pets affected by emergency events, including Ebola exposure.
(Photos: Dallas Animal Services)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 17th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amazon, animal shelters, animals, cavalier king charles spaniel, dallas, dallas animal services, dog, dogs, donations, ebola, ebola dog, exposure, facebook, fundraising, health, nina pham, pet emergency transition services, pets, public, publicity, quarantine, shelters, support, transmission, wish list
Buttercup can thank dog for being alive.
The Key West cat received a blood transfusion from a dog last month — not an unknown procedure, but a pretty rare one.
It’s called xenotransfusion, and according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine only 62 cats have been known to undergo the procedure.
On Sept. 16, Dr. Sean Perry from the Marathon Veterinary Hospital pumped the blood of a greyhound into an orange tabby, in hopes of increasing the cat’s red blood cell count.
Veterinarians decided to use dog blood they had on hand after learning that suitable cat blood could take weeks to receive.
“It’s a situation where you can’t give type A blood to a type B blood cat because it’ll cause a severe immune reaction,” Perry said. “It was actually safer to give the cat dog’s blood.”
Buttercup’s owner, Ernie Saunders, brought the cat to the vet after it became lethargic, ABC reported.
After a few tests, veterinarians learned Buttercup’s red blood cell count was down to 7 percent. Cats should have a red blood cell count of at least 35 percent, Perry said.
“Cat’s blood is a little harder to come by and not as available as dog’s blood,” Perry said. “We had greyhound blood packs that we get from a blood bank that has red blood cells separated from plasma. Buttercup showed no signs of rejection during the transfusion.”
Perry said as far as veterinarians know, cats are the only animal that accept transfused blood from dogs, and that after it is done once it can’t be done again.
Since the procedure, Saunders said Buttercup has been more active.
In addition to learning about xenotransfusion, Saunders learned something else from the vet visit.
Buttercup, who he thought was a female, is a male.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 15th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, blood, buttercup, cat, cat blood, dog, dog blood, florida, health, key west, marathon, medicine, pets, transfusion, veterinary, xenotransfusion
Bentley, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel that belongs to Ebola-stricken nurse Nina Pham, won’t be euthanized, according to Dallas officials.
Unlike in Spain, where that country’s first Ebola victim saw her dog killed and incinerated — despite no confirmation that the pet was carrying the virus, despite pleas from his owner, and despite an international outcry — officials in Dallas say they will go to great lengths to ensure that Bentley lives on.
“If that dog has to be the boy in a plastic bubble … We are going to take good care of that dog,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said.
Pham, the first American to contract Ebola while in the U.S., was part of the team that cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian citizen who died of Ebola after traveling to Dallas.
Pham, 26, was reported in stable condition Monday at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where she works.
Dallas officials haven’t outlined specific plans for her dog, but they’ve confirmed he has been removed from Pham’s apartment and is being kept in isolation at an undisclosed location.
Pham, 26, graduated from Texas Christian University’s nursing program in 2010.
Bentley remained alone in Pham’s apartment through the weekend, and was brought food and water.
On Monday, Dallas Animal Services confirmed that Bentley was safe and posted images on its Facebook page of the operation to move the dog from Pham’s home, NBC reported.
But where Bentley will reside; how much, if any, contact he’ll have with humans and other dogs; and how long his isolation might last are questions public health officials aren’t answering — primarily because they don’t have those answers.
“This was a new twist,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told USA TODAY. He said the dog will be cared for until his owner recovers. “The dog’s very important to the patient and we want it to be safe,” he said.
While there are no documented cases of Ebola spreading to people from dogs, at least one study suggests dogs can get the disease without showing symptoms. Experts say they are uncertain what risk that poses to humans.
Richard Hill, spokesperson for the Dallas’ Office of Emergency Management, said the dog would be held in isolation from other dogs and people and will likely be monitored for signs of the virus for 21 days, the same period used for people who may have come into contact with the virus.
“Wherever Bentley ends up, whatever [sort of facility] he’ll be in, he’ll be by himself,” he said.
In Spain last week, the Madrid regional government, facing its first case of Ebola, euthanized Excalibur, the mixed breed dog of a nursing assistant diagnosed with the virus.
(Photo: Pham and Bentley, provided by family)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 14th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bentley, dallas animal services, dogs, ebola, ebola virus, epidemic, euthanasia, excalibur, health, isolation, madrid, nina pham, nurse, nurses, pets, pets of ebola victims, spain, texas health presbyterian hospital, virus
Excalibur, a 12-year-old dog who belonged to an Ebola-infected nurse in Madrid, was destroyed Wednesday, despite uncertainties over whether he had the virus, and whether dogs can transmit it.
The nurse’s husband pleaded with authorities to spare the dog, and protesters and animal rights activists surrounded the couple’s home in opposition to the decision to put the dog down.
Some chanted, “Assassins!” and scuffled with police.
Madrid’s regional health agency said in a statement that Excalibur’s corpse was “put into a sealed biosecurity device and transferred for incineration at an authorized disposal facility.”
In the United States, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that studies had shown that dogs can have an immune response to Ebola, meaning that they can become infected.
But there have been no reports of dogs or cats developing Ebola symptoms or passing the disease to other animals or to people, he added.
Spokesman Thomas Skinner told the New York Times that the centers were recommending that Ebola patients with dogs or cats at home “evaluate the animal’s risk of exposure” — how likely it is that the animal has ingested bodily fluids like blood, vomit and feces from the patient.
Skinner said the CDC was working with the American Veterinary Medical Association to develop guidelines for the pets of Ebola victims in the United States.
The nurse’s husband had pleaded publicly with officials in Madrid to spare the dog. He told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo that there was no indication that Excalibur had been infected with Ebola. The nurse, identified as María Teresa Romero Ramo, was the first person to become infected outside West Africa.
She was diagnosed on Monday with the virus, believed to have been contracted when she treated a victim who came from Sierra Leone.
More than 390,000 people signed an online petition to save the dog’s life — more than twice the number of people who have signed a petition urging the Food and Drug Administration to fast-track research on a potential vaccine and treatment for Ebola.
Nearly 4,000 people in West Africa have died during the current Ebola epidemic. The only case diagnosed in the United States has been that of a Liberian man who had traveled to Dallas. He died Wednesday.
In a 2005 study of dogs in Gabon after an Ebola outbreak in 2001-02, researchers found that dogs can be infected with the virus, but that they show no symptoms.
(Top photo by Andres Kudacki / AP; photo of Ramos and Excalibur from Reuters)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 9th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cdc, destroyed, dog, dogs, ebola, ebola victims, excalibur, exposure, health, incinerated, killed, madrid, nurse, online, petition, pets, plea, protest, risk, spain, studies, transmission, virus
Based on tests with dozens of dogs — some from homes, some from shelters — researchers found that, when it comes to interacting with humans, dogs seems to prefer physical contact to anything you might have to say, praise included.
One possible exception — verbal pronouncements that dinner, or treats, are about to be served.
Two scientists from the University of Florida, who in a previous study determined dogs prefer eating food to being petted, have published the results of another research project, showing dogs prefer physical contact over verbal praise.
Neither conclusion seems that surprising to me, but one has to bear in mind that scientists prefer having their work published to having their bellies rubbed, dinner at a five-star restaurant or even verbal praise: “Good scientist. Yes! Yes! You’re a very good scientist.”
“I spend half my day talking to my dog,” study co-author Dr. Clive Wynne, who is now professor and director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, told The Huffington Post. “She always looks like it’s valuable to her. It’s quite a shock to discover that what we say to dogs doesn’t seem to be rewarding to them after all.”
For one part of the study researchers observed 42 dogs as they interacted one at a time with two people in a room. One person petted the dog, while the other praised the dog verbally. The researchers measured how much time the dog chose to spend interacting with each person.
Next, 72 dogs were, one at a time, placed in a room with just one person and their behavior was observed as the person spent time petting or praising the dog, or not interacting at all.
Dogs showed the most interest in people who were petting them, while they seemed to show no more interest in spoken praise than in having no interaction with the human at all, according to the study, published in the journal Behavioural Processes.
“I was surprised that when only one alternative was available, dogs still did not engage with the human for vocal praise,” said study co-author Dr. Erica Feuerbacher, now assistant professor of anthrozoology at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. She conducted the research while earning her doctorate degree at the University of Florida.
The scientists say dogs never seem to tire of getting petted, and they note that previous studies have shown a dog being stroked, like the human who is stroking him, reaps some health benefits, including a lowering of heart rate and blood pressure.
We won’t go so far as to suggest dogs realize that petting is a more honest form of interaction; that words can be less sincere, or even deceptive; or that words can even be annoying — like when they go on too long, are ridiculously repetitious, or they’re uttered in that high-pitched baby talk tone some of us use when talking to our pets.
But we won’t rule it out, either.
For his part, researcher Wynne says that, even if his own dog doesn’t fully appreciate all he verbally passes on to her, he’ll probably keep talking to her anyway. ”I just recognize better that I’m doing it more for my benefit than for hers,” he said.
(Photo: Ace seeking some physical contact in Kanab, Utah / by John Woestendiek)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 10th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attention, benefits, blood pressure, cognition, contact, dogs, health, heart rate, humans, interaction, pets, petting, physical, praise, psychology, science, shut up and pet me, study, talk, talking, touch, verbal, vocal, words
It would be easy to blame the disappearance of Fluffy on Craigslist. Too easy.
Fluffy’s owner deserves some of the blame — for leaving her four-year-old shih tzu-Maltese mix with a woman who responded to her Craigslist ad for a pet sitter, without ever visiting the home her dog was going to be staying in.
But the real culprit, police in Florida say, is the woman they are now looking for — the one who identified herself as Keyana Morales when she responded to the pet owner’s ad, and who was hired after meeting with Fluffy and her owner a couple of times in a local park.
Fluffy’s owner hired Morales to care for Fluffy while she and her family were on vacation out of the country. When she returned from vacation, Fluffy — and Morales — were nowhere to be found.
Her phone calls and emails went unanswered, and the address the pet sitter gave her turned out to be a vacant house, Local10 reports.
Police in Boynton Beach say Morales’ name was phony as well. They are now seeking the woman they believe absconded with the dog after posing as a pet sitter – Shamari Patrick, 23.
Police say Patrick lives out of her car, a burgundy Grand Marquis. (Anyone with information about Patrick or Fluffy is asked to call police at 561-742-6135 or Palm Beach County Crime Stoppers at 800-458-TIPS.)
Police say they believe stealing Fluffy was Patrick’s intent from the start, which, unless she was paid up front, doesn’t make much sense, and doesn’t explain why Patrick, as Morales, stayed in touch with the pet owner during her trip, and emailed her photos of Fluffy.
We don’t know if police are jumping to conclusions, but Fluffy’s owner sure did before leaving on vacation in July when she decided to hire a pet sitter without exercising hardly any of the diligence that was due.
Maybe that’s why she’s seeking not to be identified by name. News reports refer to her as Fluffy’s owner, or “the victim.” Perhaps she’s a little embarassed about having done so little homework before entrusting her dog to a stranger.
Craigslist, and the Internet, make everything seem so quick and easy that we no longer see them as what they truly are — crapshoots, unreliable and dangerous, in large part because they make us think answers and solutions are just a click away.
Craigslist, and all the rest of the Internet, should be seen as a starting point, from which to move on to further research. Otherwise they can lead to endings that, as could be the case for Fluffy, are not at all happy.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 18th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, craigslist, dog, dog sitter, dogs, find, florida, fluffy, health, hired, internet, maltese, pet sitter, pets, safety, shamari patrick, shih-teese, shih-tzu, stolen, theft, vacation
Three North Texas families say the diabetic alert dogs they received from a Virginia-based nonprofit aren’t alerting them to anything, and have turned out to be nothing more than expensive house pets.
Each of the three paid up to $20,000 for what they were told were specialized service dogs trained to alert them to spikes and drops in blood sugar and help them manage Type 1 diabetes.
Mindy Guidry said the dog she received to help her daughter manage her diabetes has failed to detect any blood sugar spirals. On top of that, the dog is afraid to go out in public.
“I cannot take her out in public at all. Even in our own household she’s scared,” Guidry said.
Krista Middleton told NBC 5 that her dog doesn’t alert her when her blood sugar is dropping dangerously low.
“And then I’m passing out. I’m going into comas. My kids are finding me in seizures,” said Middleton. “It gets to the point where, as a mom, I wanted to make sure my kids weren’t the ones to find me convulsing.”
Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers says it offers a one- to two-year training program with initial in-home sessions of up to five days, long-distance training and education and up to seven more multi-day visits.
Middleton and Guidry both failed to complete the training program, a spokeswoman for the agency said, and both still owe the agency money.
Middleton said when she informed the non-profit her dog wasn’t working, she got no response.
But Warren Retrievers spokeswoman Jennifer Bulotti told NBC 5 when a dog isn’t working “instant intervention and training is provided.”
Dan Warren, founder and president of the nonprofit, was convicted of passing forged documents in 2008, before he started his service dog agency. While working at a car dealership, he had someone prepare phony tax returns to help customers get loans for cars, NBC 5 reported. He was sentenced to five years’ probation
Tax records from 2012 list his salary from the service dog agency as $157,411.
The Virginia Attorney General’s office has received 30 complaints against Warren Retrievers, but declined to discuss the details of any of them.
Providers of service dogs operate relatively free of government regulation or required standards, and some think it’s time for that to change.
“This is an industry that’s fraught with fraud,” said Brent Brooks, president of The Diabetes Alert Dog Alliance (DADA). “It angers me to have to say it but you have to be skeptical.”
Posted by John Woestendiek July 2nd, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alert, alerting, animals, blood sugar, complaints, dallas, diabetes, diabetic, dogs, health, industry, investigation, nbc 5, news, pets, regulation, report, service dogs, spikes, standards, virginia, warren retrievers