Austin, Texas, is on the verge of becoming a lot dog friendlier — and in a way much more important than most of those measured by websites and magazines in assessing dog friendliness.
The Austin Police Department announced Tuesday that, effective July 1, there will be several changes to policies and training concerning how officers deal with dogs.
The new rules clarify that lethal force can be used only if there is “imminent danger of bodily harm” to officers or another human, not when a dog is simply acting aggressively.
It also suggests alternatives to deadly force, including firing a Taser or using pepper spray, or simply yelling at a dog.
Assistant Police Chief David Carter said dog shootings by officers will get increased scrutiny, and any officer using deadly force against a dog will have to explain why lesser force was not used. Each incident will be reviewed by the entire chain of command, as opposed to just the officer’s sergeant.
Other improvements include having dispatchers inform officers when they are going to homes that have histories of dangerous dogs being present. In those cases, city animal control officers will also be sent there.
In addition, cadets at the training academy will undergo a two-hour session on how to deal with dogs, including how to read a dog’s body language and judge whether it is dangerous. Current officers will complete training sessions online and before shifts, he said.
“It raises the stature” of dog shootings, Carter said. “We need to be as accountable for the shooting of a dog as any other force.”
The changes in Austin come in the wake of a backlash over the fatal shooting of a man’s dog in East Austin in April, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Officer Thomas Griffin was dispatched to a domestic disturbance in late April but was sent to the wrong address, where he shot a blue heeler named Cisco after the dog, according to his account, charged at him. Cisco’s owner, Michael Paxton, has denied that the dog was being aggressive.
Carter said the investigation into the case found no policy violations and Griffin received no discipline.
Since then, though, the department has been looking at the policies of other law enforcement agencies around the country to determine the best practices when it comes to dog encounters, Carter said.
“Quite frankly, we learned a lot from this process,” he said. “We learned a lot from the community, who had great concern about it.”
Paxton, meanwhile, has filed a complaint against Griffin with the police monitor’s office and has retained a lawyer.
“It’s sad that my dog had to die for this to happen,” he said.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 22nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggresive, animal control, animals, austin, behavior, cisco, dangerous, deadly force, department, dog friendly, dog killings, dogs, firearms, force, killings, law enforcement, lethal force, pets, police, policies, practices, review, shooting, texas, training
A company whose candy you’ll probably be handing out next week announced the introduction today of a genetic diversity test, aimed at allowing dog breeders to lessen the chances of bringing unhealthy pups into the world.
“Optimal Selection,” despite its somewhat eugenic-sounding name, is a first-of-its-kind tool that actually seeks to broaden the gene pool of various breeds, and thereby avoid the kind of purebred health problems that have become too common as a result of inbreeding closely related dogs.
With the new test from Mars Veterinary, a division of Mars Inc., breeders will be able to select the physical and behavioral traits that are important to them, then, through a DNA test on the blood of potential mates, compare chromosomal similarities and differences.
Based on those results, Mars said in a press release, “the breeder is given the opportunity to diversify the genetic makeup of their puppies and reduce the risk of recessive medical conditions.”
A story (written by me) on those risks and problems, and how, as an issue, they’ve never seemed to reach a tipping point in the American public consciousness, appears in the current issue of The Bark.
Pet products and tests are not new ground for Mars. In addition to pet foods (Pedigree, Whiskas, Sheba, Cesar and Royal Canin), Mars Veterinary was one of the pioneers in doggie DNA testing, coming out with a test to determine what breeds are in a dog, and later with tests to verify the heritage of purebreds and designer dogs.
For mutts, Mars Veterinary offers both a swab-based mixed breed test, called Wisdom Panel Insights, and a blood based test, Wisdom Panel Professional. The company says those tests can help predict a dog’s future health problems, based upon the breeds that are in him.
With the Optimal Selection test, though, Mars seems to have stepped beyond appeasing dog owner curiosity to actually addressing the kind of health problems that inbreeding has led to — from bulldogs with heads too big to be born naturally to spaniels whose brains outgrow their skulls.
“For centuries, dedicated breeders have worked to improve the temperament, conformation, and health of their purebred dogs,” their press release says. “However, this can cause a decrease in genetic diversity leaving the breeding community to contend with concerns such as smaller litter size, puppy mortality, and other health issues, in addition to a negative consumer perception around breeding practices.”
The analysis provided by Optimal Selection ($95) uses a scoring system based on the compatibility of the chromosomes of potential mates.
“We have leveraged our extensive knowledge of the genetic structures across breeds to closely examine the DNA of dogs within each breed and help owners take their breeding programs to the next level,” said Dr. Angela Hughes, Veterinary Genetics Research Manager at Mars Veterinary.
“Optimal Selection has the potential to transform dog breeding so that the genetic diversity within a breed or family line can be protected and maximized,” she added.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 24th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breeders, canine, chromosomes, designer dogs, diseases, diversity, dna, dogs, genetic, health, health problems, hybrids, inbreeding, linebreeding, mars, mars veterinary, mates, mating, maximize, mixed breeds, mutts, optimal selection, pets, practices, product, purebred, test, wisdom panel
Out of 22,000 dogs from 187 breeds, a Hungarian Vizsla named Yogi was chosen as Best in Show at Crufts.
The seven-year-old beat off competition from six other dogs in the finale of the four-day show.
Yogi is the first Hungarian Vizsla to win Best in Show, the BBC reported.
Handler John Thirlwell said his “wonderful dog” from Carlisle, Cumbria, will likely retire after the win.
Earlier in the show, during judging of the Gundog category, which Yogi won, a streaker interrupted the proceedings.
The dog show was broadcast on More4 this year after the BBC – which had shown Crufts since 1966 – announced it was dropping its coverage in 2008.
That decision followed a BBC documentary which claimed Crufts allowed damaging breeding practices that caused disease and deformities. Welfare concerns also prompted the RSPCA to withdraw its support in 2008.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, best in show, breeding, breeds, crufts, deformity, disease, dog, dog shows, dogs, gundog, health, hungarian vizsla, pets, practices, purebreds, standards, vizsla, yogi
“Pedigree Dogs Exposed, ” the controversial BBC documentary that shed some much needed light on purebred breeding practices and the horrors they have produced, will get its first airing in the U.S. tonight (Dec. 10).
Probably the single most important piece of dog reporting in the past decade, the documentary led to the BBC dropping its coverage of Crufts, the UK’s equivalent of the Westminster Dog Show.
The documentary looks at how many breeds have had their physical appearance so exaggerated they’re unrecognizable from a century ago, and it examines some of the breed-specific health problems that have resulted from breeders emphasizing looks over health when breeding dogs for shows.
The show, which led to some changes in Kennel Club and breeder policies and practices, airs at 8 p.m. tonight on BBC America.
The documentary revealed that dogs suffering from genetic illness are not prevented from competing in dog shows and have gone on to win “best in breed”, despite their poor health. It says physical traits required by the Kennel Club’s breed standards in the U.K., such as short faces, wrinkling, screw-tails and dwarfism, have led to inherent health problems.
This excerpt from the program shows a prize-winning cavalier King Charles spaniel suffering from syringomyelia, a condition which occurs when a dog’s skull is too small for its brain.
The documentary looks at other problems that have resulted from mating dogs who are close relatives, all for the purposes of accentuating certain physical features deemed desirable by the dog show crowd — boxers suffering from epilepsy, pugs with breathing problems and bulldogs who are unable to mate or give birth unassisted because their heads are so big.
While picked up here and there by the U.S. media, the story of shaping purebred dogs to fit arbitrary human standards of beauty — despite the health ramifications – remains best told by the BBC documentary. By all means, watch it.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 10th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bbc, bbc america, boxers, breeders, breeding, breeds, bulldog, cavalier king charles spaniel, crufts, documentary, dog, dog shows, dogs, expose, first, genetic, health, illness, inbreeding, kennel club, pedigree dogs exposed, pets, physical features, practices, premier, problems, pugs, showing, united kingdom, united states, westminster
According to a report in the London Telegraph, the researchers say the change has taken place over the course of just a few generations.
While 19th century dogs were selected for breeding based on their strength and skills — such as guarding homes, retrieving quarry or watching over livestock — today’s dogs are more likely to be chosen strictly for their appearance. As a result, the researchers say, the are less responsive to commands and not as alert or attentive.
“Modern breeding practices are affecting the behavior and mental abilities of pedigree breeds as well as their physical features,” said Kenth Svartberg, an ethologist from Stockholm University and author of the research report.
Dr. Svartberg tested 13,000 dogs on characteristics such as sociability and curiosity to help him rate 31 different breeds. He found that those bred for appearance, and especially for shows, displayed reduced ability levels. He also found that attractive appearance was often linked with introversion and a boring personality.
The worst affected working breeds were smooth collies, once a herding dog, and Rhodesian ridgebacks, which were used for hunting.
(Image from My Dog’s Brain, by Vermont artist Stephen Huneck)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 2nd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: agile, alert, appearance, attentive, breeders, breeding, breeds, dogs, dumber, looks, my dog's brain, practices, purebreds, research, scientists, skills, standards, stephen huneck, stockholm university, sweden, swedish
The Kennel Club in Great Britain — under fire for perpetuating breed standards and practices that critics say endanger the health of purebred dogs — announced yesterday that it will introduce strict new rules, including a ban on the breeding of close relatives.
The breed standards have been revised so that they will not include “anything that could in any way be interpreted as encouraging features that might prevent a dog from breathing, walking and seeing freely,” the Kennel Club said in a press release.
The club approved bans on mating father with daughter, mother to son and brother to sister, traditionally practiced by breeders to accentuate certain “desirable” physical characteristics.
“This will help to prevent the practice of exaggeration, where features that are perceived to be desirable, such as a short muzzle or loose skin, are made more prominent by breeders, and which can have detrimental effects on a dog’s health.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 14th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ban, bbc, breeds, characteristics, crufts, dog show, england, health, kennel club, peta, practices, purebreds, standards, usa network, westminster