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Tag: lab

A modern day Dr. Frankenstein?

A controversial neurosurgeon in Italy said this week that he and his fellow researchers may be able to conduct the first human head transplant next year.

We suggest they start with their own.

Dr. Sergio Canavero has been compared to Dr. Frankenstein, and called a nut, but that hasn’t stopped him and members of his consortium — from China, South Korea and the U.S. — from severing the spinal cord of the beagle above (just so they could try to reattach it) and doing the same with numerous mice.

If that’s not weird enough, Canavero and team say that before they attempt a head transplant on a live human, they will conduct some experiments on human corpses, and then reanimate them with electricity to test his technique.

We can only assume they will do so in the basement laboratory of a castle, during a thunderstorm.

canaveroCanavero is director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group. He released three papers this week, and the video above, showing how he and his collaborators had successfully reattached the spinal cords of the dog and several mice.

Canavero also claims that researchers led by Xiaoping Ren at Harbin Medical University have already performed a head transplant on a monkey – connecting up the blood supply between the head and the new body.

Canavero’s short term goal is to successfully transplant a human head. His long term goal, he admits, “is immortality.”

What’s an acceptable number of dogs to torture in a quest of that nature?

We’d say none.

Canavero says the experiments on animals prove the technique used — known as GEMINI spinal cord fusion — incorporates a chemical called polyethylene glycol, or PEG, to encourage neurons to grow toward each other and connect.

He suspects it will also work in humans to fuse two ends of a spinal cord together, or to connect a transplanted head to a donor body.

He made the claims in a series of papers published in the journal Surgical Neurology International.

The claims have been met with widespread skepticism, according to New Scientist.

Canavero first announced his plans to conduct a human head transplant in 2013 and established the ead Anastomosis Venture, or HEAVEN, project to develop the techniques needed to carry out such an operation.

His collaborator in South Korea is Dr. C-Yoon Kim, a neurosurgeon at Konkuk University in Seoul who partially severed and reattached the spinal cords of 16 mice. Five of the eight mice who received PEG regained some ability to move. The other three died — as did eight who were in a control group.

In another experiment the South Korean team nearly severed the spinal cord of a dog. While the dog was initially paralyzed, three days later the team reported it was able to move its limbs and wag its tail.

South Korea is also the birthplace of dog cloning and up until this summer — when an American company cloned a dog for a customer — it was the only country cloning dogs for profit.

It’s probably not too outlandish — given all the bizarre turns medical researchers are taking — to wonder if surplus canine clones in South Korea end up being used for other wacky experiments by mad (or at least overly zealous) scientists.

In fact, if you look at its history, creating dogs for medical research use was one markets mentioned by the developers and marketers of dog cloning.

Could it be that some of the ideas initially presented in science fiction might ought to remain in the realm of science fiction?

Canavero’s research papers don’t indicate how many more dogs might have their necks snapped or heads severed by his research team as they boldly and single-mindedly stride toward their goal.

But, again, we’d argue that — no matter what medical gains it could lead to for humans — it should be NONE.

NY law will require educational institutions to find homes for dogs used in research

Dogs used in scientific research would need to be considered for adoption before they can be routinely euthanized under legislation passed this week in New York.

The measure — focused on beagles because they are most commonly bred for research use — has been sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be signed into law, WGRZ reports.

The Research Animal Retirement Act — also referred to as the “Beagle Freedom Bill” — would require all educational institutions that use dogs or cats in research to establish adoption programs.

The law would mandate that a veterinarian determine whether a beagle or other animal that is no longer useful to researchers is medically suitable for adoption. If approved for adoption, the animal would then be shipped to a shelter or given to an interested owner.

Similar laws have been passed in Nevada, California, Minnesota, and Connecticut.

“This bill, once it is signed into law, will mean that research animals will have a chance at a second life,” said one sponsor of the legislation, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan.

“All animals, being freed of their testing responsibilities, should be afforded the opportunity of a loving, forever home to live the remainder of their days,” said another, Sen. Phil Boyle, R-Suffolk County.

The The Beagle Freedom Project — whose work is featured in the video above — has mounted campaigns in several more states to get the law passed.

The New York law requires publicly-funded higher education research facilities to take reasonable steps to provide for the adoption of dogs and cats when they are no longer being used for scientific research.

While federal laws regulate animal research, they do not protect dogs and cats from being euthanized when their services are no longer needed.

Some research facilities, however, have instituted their own adoption programs.

“These dogs and cats deserve to live normal lives as companion animals once their time in the laboratory ends,” said Brian Shapiro, New York state director for The Humane Society of the United States.

“People who have adopted former research dogs and cats can attest to the resilience and affection of these animals once they are given the chance to flourish in a home environment,” he said.

After flunking out as a service dog, a black Lab named Dagger turns to an art career

Having a gallery opening and appearing on the “The Rachael Ray Show” show in the same week would be quite the accomplishment for any artist.

But this one has only been painting a year.

And he has no hands.

Dagger II burst onto the art scene in March, when Newsday published a story about the paint brush- wielding, three-year-old black Labrador.

dogvinciYesterday, in light of his growing fame, there was a follow-up story in Newsday recounting his recent achievements.

Dagger II and his human, artist Yvonne Dagger, met Rachael Ray last month and demonstrated the dog’s skills. Dagger II, wearing his trademark red beret, was said to have hit it off especially well with Ray’s co-host for the day, Regis Philbin. The episode airs Friday.

Friday also marks the gallery debut of Dagger II — also known as DogVinci. His works will be on display at Long Island Picture Frame and Art Gallery in Massapequa Park.

Dagger II and his owner have partnered with that business to sell both original works and limited edition prints of his creations.

Ten percent of proceeds will go to Forgotten Friends of Long Island, a Plainview-based animal rescue and rehabilitation group.

Yvonne Dagger adopted Dagger II after he flunked out of service dog training. It was discovered he had a fear of going up and down stairs.

After laying at her feet as she painted, he attempted his own foray into the art world.

sunny-day-1-lLast Summer, Yvonne Dagger said, the dog who had always quietly watched as she painted began nudging her. She asked him if he wanted to paint and he began wagging his tail. She set up an easel for him, made a brush handle out of a paper towel tube and duct tape, and taught him some commands.

Yvonne helps him load the brush with non-toxic paints.

“Brush,” she tells Dagger to get him to take the makeshift brush in his mouth. “Paint,” she says to get him to apply brush to canvas.

His original paintings are selling for up to $325.

You can learn more about Dagger II, and view more of his works, at his website, DogVinci.com.

(Photos: DogVinci.com)

Dog’s ashes mixed with ink for tattoo

treotattooWe thought we’d heard of every way there is to immortalize a beloved canine companion — from taxidermy to cloning, from turning ashes into jewelry to inserting ashes into a stuffed animal —  but this is a new one on us.

A British ex-soldier has paid tribute to the dog he served with in Afghanistan by getting a tattoo on his leg, made from ink mixed with the animal’s ashes.

Treo, a bomb-detecting black Lab, moved in with his handler after the two left the Army at about the same time.

Treo died in October at the age of 14, and now Dave Heyhoe, an ex-sergeant, wears a tattoo on his calf of Treo’s pawprint and 80 words relating to how the  dog loyally served his handler.

“The tattoo completes me,” the former serviceman from Cheshire told the Daily Mail. “People might think it’s strange, but Treo was like a son to me, and his death has knocked me for six.

“Over the years we have seen gunfire, death and bomb scares together – I’ve been lost without him. Now it feels like Treo is by my side – where he’s supposed to be.”


During his service, the black Labrador is said to have prevented the deaths of dozens of British troops. He was awarded the Dickin Medal in 2010 for his service.

That tattoo is not Heyhoe’s only tribute to the dog.

He also wrote a book about him, “It’s All About Treo, Life, Love and War with the World’s Bravest Dog.”

(Photos: SWNS/Daily Mail)

Allergic to humans? There’s a cure for that

adam1A rescued black Lab mix whose skin condition was so bad a local shelter considered putting him down has found a permanent home after having his mysterious ailment diagnosed.

The dog — named Adam, ironically enough — is allergic to humans.

Adam was pulled from a shelter by Lucky Dog Rescue in Indianapolis last July, but it took a while for vets to determine what was causing his fur to fall out.

“When we first saw him, he looked just absolutely miserable,” Lucky Dog president Robin Herman told ABC’s Good Morning America.  “He felt like Vaseline. Reddish-pinkish fluid would just ooze out of his skin.”

The rescue center, which was working with Indianapolis’ Animal Medical Center, originally believed that Adam, who was one-a-half at the time, had flea dermatitis.

Months went by — he spent at least six of them wearing a cone — and his condition didn’t get better.

But in late October, Dr. Rachel Anderson, a veterinarian from the medical center, ordered some allergy tests, and was shocked by the results.

“It was a really interesting phone call,” Herman said. “She was like, ‘You’re not going to believe what he’s allergic to! It’s really remarkable, he’s allergic to humans the same way some people are allergic to dogs and cats.”

Specifically, the blood tests showed Adam is allergic to human dander, as well as cat dander, some plants, walnuts and some insects like houseflies and cockroaches.

After news first broke about Adam’s condition, people from as far away as Australia and the U.K. contacted the center either with adoption inquiries or donations, Herman said.

But Adam ended up finding a permanent home with the center employee who spent the last year caring for him, Beth Weber, who now makes sure he gets the proper medications and gives him baths every three days with a different kind of soap every other time.

He’s also seeing a specialist at the Animal Dermatology Clinic in Indianapolis.

“He’s come such a long way,”  Herman said. “… All his fur is back except for a little spot on his butt and tail. Though he’s going to be on medications for the rest of his life … he’s now on the road to full recovery and health.”


(Photos: Lucky Dog Rescue’s Facebook page)

Seattle dog takes the bus to the dog park — by herself

Eclipse knows where she wants to go. And she knows how to get there.

So maybe the fact that the black Lab-mastiff mix regularly boards a Seattle city bus — by herself — to get to the dog park shouldn’t be that surprising.

But, damn.

The 2-year-old dog often jumps on the bus alone — most of the drivers know her by now — roams the aisles, greets her fellow commuters, finds a seat, and watches for the bus stop near the dog park, where she gets off, about four stops later.

“All the bus drivers know her. She sits here just like a person does,” commuter Tiona Rainwater told KOMO as she rode the bus through downtown Monday. “She makes everybody happy. How could you not love this thing?”


Local radio host Miles Montgomery is among though who were dazzled when they figured out what the dog was doing.

“It doesn’t really appear to have an owner. The dog gets off at the dog park. I just look out the window and I’m like, ‘did that just happen?'” Montgomery asked. “She was most concerned about seeing out the window, and I couldn’t figure out what that was. It was really just about seeing where her stop was.”

As it happens, Eclipse does have an owner, Jeff Young, who lives with her in an apartment near the bus stop at 3 Ave. W. and W. Mercer Street in Belltown.

They started off going to the park on the bus together. Then one day, when Young was finishing up a cigarette, the bus pulled up and Eclipse ran and jumped aboard without him.


That has happened numerous times since — Eclipse being a somewhat impatient dog, and Young being a man who likes to finish the cigarettes he starts, apparently.

Apparently, too, the duo is not big on leashes.

“We get separated. She gets on the bus without me, and I catch up with her at the dog park,” said Young. “It’s not hard to get on. She gets on in front of her house and she gets off at the dog park, three or four stops later.”

“She’s been here the last two years, so she’s been urbanized, totally. She’s a bus-riding, sidewalk-walking dog,” he added. “Probably once a week I get a phone call. ‘Hi. I have your dog Eclipse here on 3rd and Bell,'” he recounted. “I have to tell them, ‘no. She’s fine.’ She knows what she’s doing.”

(Photos: KOMO)

Idaho officer violated policy when he shot dog through van window, review says

arfee2Two investigations have concluded that an Idaho police officer used unnecessary force when he shot a dog who lunged at him as he snuck up to a van’s partially open window.

Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said an internal review found that the shooting of Arfee by officer Dave Kelly — the bullet went through the window glass —was unjustified.

A separate Use of Deadly Force Review Board unanimously concluded that Kelley’s actions “were in violation of the department policies reviewed.”

Officer Kelly remains on duty, though, and city officials aren’t saying what disciplinary action, if any, he might face, according to the  Associated Press

“An argument can be made that Officer Kelley’s decision to shoot was reasonable when the dog lunged through the partially open window mere inches away from his face and throat,” White said. “However, given the totality of the circumstances, the use-of-force reviews found Officer Kelley’s use of force to be out of policy in this incident.”

The department initially reported that an officer shot and killed a “vicious pit bull” that lunged at him from inside a van on July 9 — but later corrected the breed. Arfee was a lab mix. Kelly was not identified by name by the department until last week.

The dog’s owner, Craig Jones, had left Arfee parked in the shade with the windows partly open while he went to a coffee shop.

City Attorney Mike Gridley declined to comment on whether any disciplinary action would be taken against Kelley, who has 17 years of law enforcement experience, the last seven with the Coeur d’Alene Police Department.

Officer Kelley, in an incident report filed immediately after the incident, said the van was being checked due previous reports in the area of a person in a similar van trying to entice children. He said he drew his weapon as he approached the driver’s side door of the van.

“I was at the driver’s side door/window, when suddenly I saw a black dog’s head and neck lunge through the open window,” Kelley wrote. “The dog was aggressively barking and growling, and its mouth was within inches of my face. I had the split second thought that this dog is going to bite me, and bite me immediately.”

The use-of-force investigation said that, even if Arfee’s head was outside the window, Kelley’s response — firing a bullet, that went through the window glass — was not reasonable.

“Officer Kelley, a seasoned officer of over 15 years of experience, was in an open parking lot with an open business, in the middle of the day, with citizens around and (another) officer … on the other side of the van. This was a case where Officer Kelley did not have anything behind him to prevent him from gaining distance,”  police Lt. Robert Turner wrote in the report.

Police Chief White said the shooting has shaken the community’s confidence in the police department, but added, “… The relationship between our community and our department will ultimately be strengthened as a direct result of how we respond to the situation and how we improve our agency to prevent similar situations from occurring.”