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Tag: standards

Recipients say agency’s diabetic alert dogs aren’t performing as promised

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.

The three families are among 30 that have filed complaints against Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, according to NBC 5 in Dallas.

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.”

Gov. McCrory shows his soft side

While he’s not viewed as particularly warm and cuddly by Democrats — at least when it comes to helping humans in need — N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory says he wants the public to adopt abandoned and mistreated dogs, and he and the first lady are opening up the governor’s mansion (or at least its yard) for an adoption event tomorrow.

McCrory is shown in this News & Observer video petting a pomeranian, seized in a recent puppy mill bust in Pender County.

Lexi will be among as many as 30 dogs — some coming from as far away as Greensboro and Charlotte to attend — who will be available for adoption at the event, which runs from 10:30 a.m.to 12:30 p.m. Saturday

While it seems odd protocol for an adoption event, anyone wishing to attend is asked to RSVP by today — by emailing eventrsvp@nc.gov.

The governor and first lady Ann McCrory are also promoting a bill to set minimum standards for breeding operations.

While the proposal isn’t too tough, relative to measures passed in other states, it sets standards ensuring that dogs have daily exercise, fresh food and water, shelter and veterinary care at breeding operations with at least 10 females.

The measure passed the House but didn’t get heard in the Senate before it recessed. The General Assembly reconvenes in May.

“I’m not going to give up on the bill,” the governor said at the press conference announcing the adoption event Wednesday. ”This dog issue is not a Democratic or Republican issue — it’s an independent issue for every one of us.”

The McCrorys have one dog, Moe, who lives at their Charlotte residence.

Puppy mill law, with boost from First Lady, passes N.C. House, heads to Senate

 A law requiring dog breeders to provide fresh food and water, daily exercise, veterinary care and sanitary shelter was passed by the North Carolina House Thursday, with help from the governor’s wife.

Ann McCrory, who normally leaves the politics to her husband, released a statement Wednesday supporting House Bill 930.

“… Passing legislation to establish basic standards of care for large commercial dog breeding facilities is a very important issue to me, and to people across our state,” she wrote.

“ … I hope you and other members of the General Assembly will continue to advocate for this bill, and other legislation establishing higher standards for commercial breeders. These policies increase our quality of life in North Carolina and ensure better care for dogs across the state…”

The bill sets basic standards of care for operations that use more than 10 females for breeding.

Many say it is a watered-down version of previous attempts to pass a puppy mill law, but add that the compromise is better than nothing in a state some breeding operations have been relocating to in an attempt to avoid regulation.

“North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast without puppy mill laws,” explained Caleb Scott, President of North Carolina Voters for Animal Welfare told Fox 8 News. “We are a puppy mill destination in North Carolina because we have no laws on the books. Puppy millers gravitate to our state.”

The minimum standards required by the bill, as it has been amended, would notapply to breeders of hunting dogs, sporting dogs, field dogs, or show dogs.

It now heads to the Senate.

WRAL described Ann McCrory’s letter as her “first foray into public advocacy” since her husband took office.

The McCrory’s have a Labrador Retriever named Mo.

(Photo: Erin Hull / The Daily Tar Heel)

Hungarian Vizsla wins best in show at Crufts

YogiOut 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.

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.

Banfield ceases docking, cropping, debarking

DSC03408Banfield, the largest network of animal hospitals in the nation, has announced it will no longer do tail docking, ear cropping or devocalization on dogs — unless medically necessary.

The announcement drew praise from the Humane Society of the United States, and other animal welfare groups.

Headquartered in Portland, Ore., Banfield is the nation’s largest general veterinary practice, with more than 730 hospitals and 2,000 veterinarians nationwide.

Tail docking and ear cropping have become increasingly controversial over the past few years, and last year the American Veterinary Medical Association passed a resolution opposing the procedures when done solely for  cosmetic purposes.

Banfield came out strongly against the procedures, according to USA Today.

“After thoughtful consideration and reviewing medical research, we have determined it is in the best interest of the pets we treat, as well as the overall practice, to discontinue performing these unnecessary cosmetic procedures,” said Karen Faunt, vice president for medical quality advancement. “It is our hope that this new medical protocol will help reduce, and eventually eliminate, these cosmetic procedures altogether.”

There have been numerous attempts in several states — opposed by the American Kennel Club — to outlaw the practices.

The AKC says that “as prescribed in certain breed standards, (they) are acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character, enhancing good health and preventing injuries,” and that “any inference that these procedures are cosmetic and unnecessary is a severe mischaracterization that connotes a lack of respect and knowledge of history and the function of purebred dogs.”

Tail docking involves cutting off the majority of a dog’s tail, generally within days of birth. It’s mostly done on terriers and hunting dogs. Ear cropping involves cutting a notch out of a floppy ear and bandaging it so that it heals in a more upright, “alert” position. It’s done on more than 50 breeds, including boxers, great Danes, schnauzers, Doberman pinchers and terriers.

You can read the full Banfield press release here.

Miami’s pit bull ban takes a hit

Breed specific legislation against pit bulls took another much deserved hit last week when a Dade County court ruled that Miami’s pit bull ban is too vague to be used as grounds for euthanizing animals.

The county ban applied to all dogs that “substantially conform” to American Kennel Club standards for  American Staffordshire Terriers or Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or United Kennel Club standards for American Pit Bull Terriers.

To determine if a dog conformed to the standards, the animal control department used a chart that lists 15 body parts, such as head, neck, lips, chest, eyes, tail and hind legs. Officers check off which characteristics of a dog conform to a pit bull. If three or more characteristics are checked, the dog is declared a pit bull.

The court ruling came in a case challenging the finding by Miami-Dade County Animal Control that a family pet named Apollo was a “pit bull” that must be removed from the county or euthanized.

Rima Bardawil, the attorney for Apollo, pointed out that the ordinance makes no mention of any chart or checklist, and that it is not clear what standards animal control is using in making its determinations or how valid they are.

Dahlia Canes, executive director of Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation, testified that animal control is “constantly” misidentifying the breeds of dogs. She told the court about one dog that was declared by an animal control officer to be a pit bull mix and ordered euthanized.  Canes arranged to have the dog re-evaluated and he was determined to be a mastiff mix. The dog was then adopted to a family in Miami-Dade County.  

In the case of Apollo, the animal control officer photographed the dog from several feet away, then used the photo to pick three body parts he said he thought conformed to pit bull standards.

It makes one wonder — how many of the dogs described by police, and characterized in headlines, as pit bulls really are of the breeds that fall under that catch-all term?

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