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Tag: rspca

Beloved BBC dog Mabel passes away

After 14 years on the world’s longest running children program, Mabel, a border collie mix, has died.

Seen by millions of children on “Blue Peter,” Mabel was the BBC program’s first rescue dog.

“She was dearly loved and that’s a credit to her quirky character. She’ll be sorely missed by the presenters and viewers alike,” said Helen Skelton, one of the program’s co-hosts.

Mabel, who retired last year, was the second-longest serving dog on the show. Another, named Petra, appeared on the show for 15 years.

Her death came barely a month after the death of her canine co-star Lucy, according to the Daily Mail.

Mabel was originally featured on the program in 1996 when then presenter Katy Hill met her while making a film about the RSPCA. She joined the show a month later. Her name came from the letters MAB1 which were written on her RSPCA kennel.

Mabel, who was thought to be 16, was notable for her different colored eyes – one brown, one blue – and a folded-over ear. She starred alongside 14 different presenters in hundreds of studio shows.

After retirement, she lived with a former member of the show’s production team

The BBC show’s presenters announced the news about the border collie to viewers last night.

Wales bans electric shock collars

ElectricityElectric shock collars have been banned in Wales.

Under the ban — the first in the UK – owners who zap their dogs for misbehaving face a fine of up to £20,000 or six months in prison.

Around 500,000 electric collars are in use in the UK, including some 20,000 in Wales, the Daily Mail reported.

Pet welfare groups, including the RSPCA and the Kennel Club, say the electronic devices cause unnecessary pain and suffering, and that they’d like to see the ban extended across Britain.

Proponents of the collars say they can improve the behavior of dogs that would otherwise be put down, train excitable pets to stop running into traffic and stop them from worrying sheep or inflicting other damage. Banning the collars, they say, could lead to shelters being inundated with unmanageable pets.

The RSPCA counters that, rather than using pain and punishment to train dogs, pet owners should use rewards such as treats and balls. It called The Welsh Assembly’s decision  “a historic day for animal welfare.”

“‘Wales has proven it is truly leading the way,” Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko said, “and we hope the rest of the UK will follow by example to outlaw these cruel and unnecessary devices.”

Report calls for changes in breeding practices

An independent investigation launched after a BBC documentary raised concerns about purebred breeding practices concludes the health of many animals is being put at risk by some breeders.

Britain’s Kennel Club and Dogs Trust funded the inquiry, which looked at puppy farms, inbreeding, and breeding for extreme features.

Cambridge University professor Sir Patrick Bateson, who is president of the Zoological Society of London, said the report concludes that conditions of some puppy farms was “not good” and “probably in breach of the Animal Welfare Act”.

Also, the report says, some  breeders were responsible for “too much” inbreeding, creating “all sorts of health problems,” such as the “very big head of the bulldog” that necessitated about 90% of them giving birth through Caesarian section, according to the BBC.

The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust funded the independent inquiry after concerns highlighted in the 2008 BBC documentary, “Pedigree Dogs Exposed,” which reported that breeders, in an attempt to meet Kennel Club standards and win dog shows, exaggerated the features of breeds at the expense of dogs’ health.

The BBC report, which led the Royal SPCA to pull out of Crufts, said many physical traits called for by the Kennel Club’s breed standards, such as short faces and dwarfism, led to inherent health problems.

The Kennel Club, which runs Crufts, changed many of its breed standards in January 2009 to exclude ”anything that could in any way be interpreted as encouraging features that might prevent a dog breathing, walking and seeing freely.”

Specific changes included calling for leaner, less wrinkly bulldogs; shortening the forelegs of German shepherds which, through breeding, had gotten overly long and weak; and less fluffy coats on chow chows so they wouldn’t become distressed in hot weather.

Judges at licensed dog shows were instructed to choose only the healthiest dogs as champions, and expel any dogs that showed signs of ill-health from the Crufts show.

Sharpei loses his wrinkles — to keep his sight

sharpeiRoland, an abandoned sharpei, has had a face lift.

While sharpeis are prized for their wrinkly skin — and dog show breed standards deem it desirable — it can also lead to a condition called entropion, in which the wrinkles cause a dog’s eyelashes to turn inward and rub against the eyeballs.

For Roland, found as a stray and taken in by the RSPCA, the condition likely would have led to blindness, and it lessened his chances of finding an adoptive home.

The solution, according to the Daily Telegraph, was a double eye lift and full face lift.

“What we have done is made him adoptable,” RSPCA chief vet Magdoline Awadshe said. “It is not uncommon in this breed, it is a congenital problem.”

Roland’s 90-minute surgery eye lift surgery and excess face wrinkle removal cost almost $1000.

It’s not uncommon for sharpeis to undergo the procedure, in which a swath of of skin from across the animal’s forehead and between his eyes is removed, and the remaining skin is pulled together and sewn with stitches. Chow chows, bulldogs, pugs and other breeds are also prone to the condition.

The RSPCA says Roland is one of growing number of sharpeis turning up at animal shelters. Members of the once rare breed are often abandoned after owners realize the costs of correcting their congenital health problems.

(Photo: Daily Telegraph)

Woman sentenced for abandoning 99 dogs

A dog breeder who abandoned 99 St. Bernards to go on vacation has been sentenced to 18 weeks for animal cruelty.

Mary Collis, 51, admitted to seven counts of causing unnecessary suffering to 85 dogs and failing to meet the needs of 14 dogs at an earlier hearing, according to a BBC report.

Collis, a trained veterinary nurse, was also banned from keeping any animals for 10 years.

One of the 99 St. Bernards had to be put to sleep the night they were found, nearly a year ago. Another died the following day at a vets. Twelve more died after that, as a result of their abandonment, according to testimony. The remaining 83 dogs have since been adopted after a campaign by the RSPCA.

Collis, who had declared bankruptcy in 2007 and was facing eviction, abandoned the dogs to go on vacation with her partner. RSPCA inspectors and police went into the kennels five days later, after receiving public complaints.

Dogfighting sees big surge in England

dogfightA new wave of dogfighting is sweeping England, resulting in a 12-fold increase in dogfights since 2004.

And most practitioners — about two of every three — are youths, the Royal SPCA says.

A BBC report quotes RSPCA officials as saying a ban on four breeds, including pit bulls, has done little to slow the spread of dogfighting, or dogs biting people, and that a change in the law is needed.

The new wave of dog fighting, known as “chain fighting” or “rolling,” involves fights held in inner city public parks, on private estates and even in apartment elevators where  ”young people, often gangs of young people … put two dogs in a lift at the top of the block of flats and will press the button and let the dogs fight until they get to the bottom,” the RPSCA’s Claire Robinson told BBC News. Read more »

Three convicted in England dogfighting case

Three people have been convicted for their roles in one of Europe’s largest dog-fighting syndicates — offenses brought to light by a BBC program called “Panorama.”

Claire Parker, 44, from Lincolnshire, Mohammed Farooq, 33, from Birmingham, and a 17-year-old boy were convicted at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court, the BBC reported.

The RSPCA said it was one of the biggest cases of dog-fighting it had prosecuted. Read more »

Trial opens in Britain for accused dogfighters

rspcadogGrisly testimony was heard yesterday in the trial of a woman accused of being a member of one of England’s biggest dog fighting gangs.

 The case was brought against Claire Parker by the Royal SPCA after Steve Ibinson, an undercover investigator, infiltrated a dog fighting gang called the Farmer Boys in Northern Ireland for a BBC Panorama program.

The busted dogfighting ring had links to Northern Irish paramilitary organizations, according to the Times of London.

Parker, a 44-old breeder of Boston terriers, denies being present at a dog fight, using her property for fights and owning three pit bulls.

Parker is on trial with 33-year-old Mohammed Nasir Farooq,  who it is claimed acted as the “time keeper” during the Lincolnshire fight in May 2007.

At the opening of what’s expected to be a two-week trial, the Lincoln Magistrates Court heard how some of the gang made the dogs train on treadmills and in swim tanks, used lunge poles with dummies hanging on them, electrocuted dogs, and used “rape harnesses” to force female dogs to mate.

RSPCA raids also uncovered weighing scales, ’break sticks’ for parting the animals once their jaws had locked on to each other and veterinary products to treat wounded animals.

Ibinson, a former SAS operative who had lived in fear of his life following the investigation, uncovered links between the gang and dog fighting fanatics across the United Kingdom. His identity was revealed after his death, from natural causes, earlier this year while serving as a security guard in Afghanistan.

Statements he made are being given as part of a case that has seen five people from across the North of England already admit various dog fighting offenses.

In a secretly recorded video, Gary Adamson, a 38-year-old welder, is shown standing next to three reinforced pens in his yard boasting about how his pit bull, Pablo, suffered a “real good ragging” during a 26-minute fight held in the garage of  Parker’s home in Lincolnshire.

In his statement, Ibinson said that Adamson was a representative of the Farmers Boys, from County Armagh, and aspired to be for pit bull fighting what Don King was for boxing.

(Photo: Courtesy of the RSPCA)

Police dogs, vet’s dog die in cars in England

Colleagues laid floral tributes in honor of the two police dogs who died last week after being left in a car by their handler on one of the hottest days of the year.

Animal welfare experts said that, while it’s not known how long the two German Shepherds were left in the car, parked outside Nottinghamshire Police headquarter, they could have died in as little as 20 minutes.

Their handler, who has not been named, has been interviewed by an RSPCA inspector and could be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act, according to the Daily Mail.

The dogs were found dead in the handler’s private car last Tuesday – the hottest day in three years.

The Sunday Times said at least 10 dogs died last week after being left in vehicles, including one that belonged to a veterinarian.

Does your dog need a coat? Probably not

Animal welfare experts in Great Britain are warning that the trend toward outfitting dogs in clothes — especially winter coats — may be causing the animals to overheat.

The RSPCA has gone so far as to compare the practice to leaving dogs in cars during hot weather, and says it may consider prosecuting those who are putting their dogs at risk.

Some experts say that, except for small, short-haired and hairless breeds, clothing is unnecessary and interferes with a dog’s ability to regulate its own temperature, the London Telegraph reported over the weekend.

And a few question the growth of “canine couture” – dressing dogs in “fashionable” clothing – saying it is demeaning to the animals and could even encourage bad behaviour.

“There are very few occasions when an animal needs a coat, even in the recent cold weather, Mark Johnston, from the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, told the Telegraph.

“Dogs have developed a very effective coat of their own, which will protect them from the elements. It is adjustable so they can raise the fur to control their temperature. Dressing them in a coat diminishes the animal’s ability to regulate their own body temperature and could be detrimental if the animal gets too hot. Read more »

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