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Tag: labs

Company seeks to put synthetic dogs in every veterinary school in the world

syndaver

A Florida company that makes synthetic humans for medical training has branched out to synthetic dogs — and it says it’s hoping to place packs of them in every veterinary school in the world.

If successful, SynDaver Labs says, the mission would save thousands of animals by preventing shelter dogs from being used in veterinary training.

SynDaver — a combination of words synthetic and cadaver — wants to raise $24 million to give 20 synthetic dogs to every accredited veterinary medicine college in the world. It says the schools will receive the artificial canines for free.

The company worked with the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine to develop the synthetic canine, which has a full list of functioning bodily systems, including a heartbeat and a circulatory system. It even bleeds when cut.

Speaking of bodily fluids, fans of the television show “Shark Tank,” may remember the company’s founder, Christopher Sakezles, appearing on an episode last year. Despite sweating profusely — unlike any of the sharks — he managed to persuade one investor to contribute $3 million to his company, in exchange for 25 percent ownership.

The deal later fell through, when Sakezles and investor Robert Herjavec disagreed over specifics. Conjecture is Herjavec wanted to replace the company owner with a new CEO, who would be a more profit focused than Sakezles.

That was last year. This year, the company has announced it will seek backers for the veterinary school program, according to WFLA.

syndaver2Currently, according to SynDaver, vet students learn surgical skills by practicing on live shelter animals. The animals are then euthanized.

“The product will immediately end the need for terminal surgery labs in veterinary medical schools and represents the beginning of the end of animal testing in general,” the company said.

The synthetic dogs have the capability to simulate customized diseases, illnesses and medical complications, the company says.

If more than $24 million is raised, SynDaver says it will start creating a synthetic cat, followed by a horse and cow.

The Tampa Bay Times described SynDaver as a small player in the $2 billion medical simulation industry, with about 150 employees split between offices in Tampa and Phoenix.

(Photos: SynDaver Labs)

LABRABLOOPERS: Is any breed more zany?

Are we laughing with these Labradors, or at them?

And does it really matter, as long as we’re laughing?

As long as nobody’s getting hurt, I say bring on the Labrabloopers.

Probably, we are laughing at them, but my hunch is — innocently and spontaneously goofy as their behavior can be — that’s exactly what they had in mind.

Supersize me: Americans turning to big dogs

SONY DSC

Big dogs — not that they ever left — are coming back.

In its annual report on breed popularity in the U.S., the American Kennel Club notes that, while the Labrador retriever is again the most popular dog breed, other large breeds are quickly moving up the list, including Dobermans, giant schnauzers and Great Danes.

According to the AKC, it could be a sign of an improving economy.

“Owning bigger breeds – an economic indicator of sorts – has been on the rise during the past five years,” said Lisa Peterson, AKC spokeswoman. “As the economy has improved, people are turning back to the big dogs they love, which cost more to feed and care for than the smaller breeds that saw a rise in popularity in 2007 and 2008.”

Labs took the top spot for the 23rd straight year, the longest consecutive reign of any dog in the annual ranking. The rankings are based on the number of AKC dog registrations across the country.

Here are the top 10, with links to their AKC profiles:

1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd Dog
3. Golden Retriever
4. Beagle
5. Bulldog
6. Yorkshire Terrier
7. Boxer
8. Poodle
9. Rottweiler
10. Dachshund

Comparing those rankings to the 2009 list, there’s evidence of a decline in small dog popularity — Yorkies dropped three places, from third, dachshunds dropped two, from eighth, and shih tzus fell out of the top 10 entirely.

Some smaller breeds saw a gain in popularity, like the French bulldog (now 11th). But far greater gains were made by greatly sized dogs: Doberman Pinschers rose from 22 to 12; Great Danes from 27 to 16; and Bernese Mountain Dogs from 47 to 32.

The AKC announced its rankings Friday, in advance of the upcoming Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Madison Square Garden.

Three new breeds will compete this year: rat terriers, Chinooks, and Portuguese Podengo Pequenos.

(Photo: Ash, a lab, or perhaps a lab mix (we didn’t ask for his papers), at play; by John Woestendiek)

Utah labs cease use of shelter animals

The University of Utah has announced that it will no longer purchase dogs and cats from North Utah Valley Animal Shelter (NUVAS) — or any other animal shelter — for use in medical experiments.

The decision was praised by PETA, which has waged a lengthy campaign against the practice.

“PETA is thrilled for the dogs, cats and people of Utah now that the University of Utah has stopped using animal shelters as dirt-cheap sources of living lab equipment, marking the complete end of pound seizure in the state,’’ said Kathy Guillermo, PETA’s vice president for laboratory investigations.

Until last year, animal shelters in Utah were required to sell cats and dogs in their custody to the university under a practice known as pound seizure. A change in state law made it voluntary for shelters to participate. The North Utah Valley Animal Shelter, however, continued to supply animals for research in the belief that it was helping to ease human suffering and advance medical knowledge.

NUVAS sold the university about 100 dogs and cats a year, Director Tug Gettling told the Salt Lake City Tribune.

The practice, over the years, saw hundreds of former pets and strays sacrificed for purposes of medical experimentation — though not all that were used in experiments were killed.  Last year, a pet owner who turned her dog, Sheena (above) over to the shelter was shocked to learn — when she called to see if she had been adopted — that the dog had been sold to the university for experimentation. Later, with help from PETA, she launched a successful campaign to get the dog back from the university and into an adoptive home.

According to the Tribune, the decades-old practice of buying animals from shelters was halted by the university in mid-January.

Thomas Parks, the university’s vice president for research, said the decision was aimed at bringing an end to the campaign against the shelter by animal welfare advocates. Parks said the university will instead obtain dogs bred for laboratory use by certified breeders — a costlier but less controversial method.

PETA’s Guillermo said she hoped the added cost of specially bred animals would lead the university to seek alternatives to using live animals in its experiments.

Parks said employees at the non-profit municipal shelter “have been suffering a lot of harassment” and that the shelter has received thousands of hostile emails and phone calls, several bomb threats and at least three public protests.

A Salt Lake Tribune investigation a year ago found that about 60 percent of all shelter animals the shelter provided to the university between 2007 and 2009 were killed after being experimented on, while the rest entered an adoption program.

When yellow Labs hit the slopes

Sure we had way too much snow this winter — though these two probably wouldn’t think so.

Here’s how yellow Labs keep their coats clean and have big fun at the same time.

Bench donated in slain dog walker’s memory

benchFriends, family and fellow dog walkers in Salem, Oregon, raised funds to have a new bench installed at a dog park in memory of Darrel Valentine.

Valentine, 74, who used to walk his dogs, Lady, Velvet and Nicky, in the park every morning, was attacked in another park while walking his dogs, and died in September of last year.

The bench was completed and unveiled Friday at Minto-Brown Island Park’s dog park, according to the Statesman Journal in Oregon. A plaque on the bench reads: “In memory of Darrel Valentine. Beloved dog park friend.”

“He was kind of an icon down here,” dog walker Deede James said. “He was down here about two hours every morning.”

Friends and family raised more than $1,000 for the bench. They gathered for its unveiling Friday afternoon, along with Carole Miller, Valentine’s sister, who brought Valentine’s two labs to the park as well. Two of the dogs, Lady and Velvet now live with her. A third, Nicky, was adopted after his death.

Valentine was walking his dogs early Sept. 12 near Santana Park in southeast Salem when he was attacked. A suspect was riding by on a bike and demanded cash from Valentine, who said he didn’t have any. The man attacked and beat Valentine, who died days later. No arrest has been made in the case.

Valentine, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, devoted most of his time to his dogs after retirement.

“I think it is wonderful that everyone came together to do this,” said Mark Valentine, Darrel’s son. “It’s really nice.”

Dogs, cats still commonly used in college labs

Despite easily available alternatives, more than half of American colleges and universities are using live and dead dogs and cats for teaching and training purposes — including animals that were once pets, according to a new report.

The report, “Dying to Learn: Exposing the Supply of Dogs and Cats to Higher Education,” is the result of a two-year investigation by the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS). The report was released today by Animalearn, the education division of AAVS.

You can download the full report, learn how to take action, and explore alternatives to animal dissection at the new AAVS website, dyingtolearn.org.

The report says 52 percent of the colleges and universities covered in the study still used dogs and cats to teach and train students in life science, veterinary, and medical education.

According to the report, former pets are also ending up in the mix — either obtained by universities directly from shelters, or sold to universities by an animal dealer. With more pets ending up in shelters due to the economic downturn, the likelihood of that happening is growing.

“The numbers of pets being relinquished to shelters is drastically increasing. This puts an ever increasing number of former pets at risk of ending up in labs,” said Animalearn Director Laura Ducceschi.

The report traces the route that sent dogs like Cruella, a shepherd-mix from Michigan to end up being used in a college laboratory. Once someone’s pet, she was purchased from a shelter and sold to a university. The dogs and cats are used for live surgeries and other procedures.

The reported looked at animal acquisition procedures at 92 public colleges and universities in the U.S.

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