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Tag: texas

Former racing greyhounds to find adoptive homes after Texas blood bank shuts down

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That Texas operation that held retired racing greyhounds in captivity to regularly harvest and sell their blood is shutting down.

PETA exposed neglectful conditions at the blood farm this fall and has been campaigning hard for its closure — going so far as to put up billboards, engage in protests and even buy a share of stock in the company it sold blood to.

The Pet Blood Bank, located northwest of Austin, is one of several commercial blood banks in the United States with an in-house “colony” of dogs used to supply blood for veterinary treatments, according to the Washington Post blog Animalia.

An attorney for the blood bank said in a statement Thursday that the closing was a “business decision” made because the PETA campaign had “caused our long-standing customer relationships to be terminated.”

The National Greyhound Association and other dog-racing advocacy organizations said they were working with regional greyhound adoption groups and the Pet Blood Bank to place all of the 150 greyhounds now housed there up for adoption.

“We’re confident that every greyhound at the blood bank will be on its way to a loving new home within the next few days,” said Jim Gartland, the association’s executive director.”

Last month, PETA obtained photos and videos from a former company employee showing dogs confined in squalid quarters and, in some cases, left to suffer from painful injuries and dental disease.

The blood bank’s owner, Shane Altizer, denied the allegations.

PETA aimed its campaign primarily at Patterson Veterinary, the Minnesota-based company that the blood bank was a provider for. It held protests at the company headquarters and the home of the CEO of its parent group. It bought billboards, and one share of stock in Patterson Companies “to put pressure on the billion-dollar enterprise.”

Operations like the Pet Blood Bank sell their products to veterinary clinics or supply companies, and greyhounds — because members of the breed often have a universal blood type — are commonly used as donors.

The banks are not regulated by the federal government, and California is the only state that regulates them.

In a statement on Thursday, President Ingrid Newkirk said PETA would “work hard to get regulations passed to ensure all blood for emergency transfusions comes from real donors and not from imprisoned, miserable dogs.”

(Photo: PETA)

Did dog’s death actually break her heart?

meha

It’s a phrase we might all throw around a little carelessly — having a “broken heart” about something, or even dying of one — but the medical community is coming to suspect there’s something to it.

On top of loads of anecdotal evidence — such as one spouse dying unexpectedly soon after another — doctors are seeing more cases where what appears to be a heart attack turns out to more likely be spasms brought on by “broken heart syndrome.”

Now comes what doctors say is a solidly diagnosed case — of a woman in Texas who was grieving the death of her dog — featured in no less august a publication than the New England Journal of Medicine.

{A fuller and more layman-friendly account can be found on the Washington Post animal blog, Animalia.)

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, to use it’s official name, is a condition with symptoms that mimic heart attacks. And that’s what doctors at Houston’s Hermann Memorial Hospital say a Texas woman suffered after the death of her dog.

Joanie Simpson, after having chest pains, was rushed last year into the cardiac catheterization lab at Hermann Memorial where a tube was threaded into a blood vessel leading to her heart. One of her doctors, Abhishek Maiti, said they expected to find blocked arteries.

The arteries were “crystal clear,” Maiti said. Further tests indicated she had Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, a condition, most common in postmenopausal women, in which a flood of stress hormones “stun” the heart to produce spasms similar to those of a heart attack.

brokenheartThe condition is characterized by transient left ventricular systolic and diastolic dysfunction of the apex and mid-ventricle. That is Simpson’s to the left, upon the onset.)

Simpson, 62, was stabilized with medications, after which she told doctors about the recent stresses in her life, culminating with the recent death of her Yorkshire terrier, Meha.

She was sent home after two days, and, while still taking two heart medications, she is doing fine.

Doctors say the condition usually occurs following an emotional event such as the loss of a spouse or child.

Maiti’s said Simpson’s case was published in the journal not because it is the first involving broken heart syndrome and stress over a pet’s death, but because hers was a “very concise, elegant case” of a fascinating condition.

While it adds to the growing recognition the condition is getting, it also underscores how — just as having dogs can make us healthier — losing them can take a toll that surpasses the emotional.

Simpson said the death of her dog, 9 years old and suffering from congestive heart failure, was not a peaceful one. Simpson postponed an appointment to euthanize the dog, and Meha died the next day.

“It was such a horrendous thing to have to witness,” she’s quoted as saying in the Post. “When you’re already kind of upset about other things, it’s like a brick on a scale. I mean, everything just weighs on you.”

Simpson, who now lives about two hours northwest of San Antonio, says she wants to get another dog someday, but for now she has a cat named Buster.

Getting every last drop from greyhounds

As if racing their hearts out weren’t enough, some greyhounds are retired to dog blood banks where they live caged all day long, except for outings to get their blood drawn.

PETA last month exposed one such kennel, The Pet Blood Bank, Inc., in Cherokee, Texas, which houses about 150 retired greyhounds — solely for the purpose of extracting and selling their blood and blood products.

The products, PETA reported, are distributed by Patterson Veterinary Supply, Inc., which did about $3 billion worth of business in 2016.

After the the PETA expose and a story in The Washington Post, Patterson Veterinary Supply announced it would take steps to correct the horrible conditions they described.

bloodbankBut PETA says no steps have been taken, even after they had Paul McCartney send a plea to the company.

Patterson Veterinary Supply initially announced it would terminate business with the The Pet Blood Bank, Inc.

It also promised to support “efforts to ensure that the animals receive appropriate care.” Bu PETA says it has seen no evidence of any such efforts.

The whistle-blower was Bill Larsen, 60, a former employee of the blood bank who went back to work there and was horrified by how conditions had deteriorated.

Larsen, who took the incriminating photos, said he unsuccessfully sought help from local animal shelters and a state agency before contacting PETA. “I just like dogs,” he said, and “hate for any animal to get treated like that.”

The photos show kenneled dogs with open wounds, rotting teeth and toenails curling into their paw pads.

The blood bank was founded in 2004 by Austin entrepreneur Mark Ziller, who said he initially sought volunteers and used a bloodmobile. When that did not turn up enough dogs, the company began using retired greyhounds housed in a kennel on a private farm northwest of Austin, the Post reported.

Ziller said he sold the company in November 2015 to Shane Altizer, whose family owns the farm in Cherokee.

“The Pet Blood Bank had a noble mission: It provided blood for veterinarians to use in lifesaving transfusions,” Ziller tod the Post. After viewing the photos PETA obtained, he added, “To see the animals in that state is beyond depressing.”

Altizer did not deny that the images were taken there, but said they predated his 2015 purchase of the company or were “moment snapshots” unrepresentative of overall conditions now.

Blood banks help save thousands of animals a year, but they are also profit-driven and unregulated.

With more medical procedures being used by vets, transfusions are more often required, and animal blood banks struggle to meet the demand. Only one state, California, regulates such operations and requires annual inspections.

bloodbank2Greyhounds are considered especially desirable as donors because they typically have a universal blood type and have big neck veins that make drawing blood easy.

Veterinarian Anne Hale, former CEO of the nation’s first and largest commercial animal blood bank, said she visited the Pet Blood Bank this summer and was “pleasantly surprised” with conditions there. After viewing the PETA photos and video though, she said, “It appears that the facility was ‘cleaned up’ before our touring … I agree that this facility should be addressed. This certainly suggests that regional, state and/or federal regulation is warranted.”

Former Beatle McCartney, who wrote a letter on PETA’s behalf, wants to see all the dogs removed from the facility.

“I have had dogs since I was a boy and loved them all dearly, including Martha who was my companion for about 15 years and about whom I wrote the song ‘Martha, My Dear,'” McCartney wrote. “I join my friends at PETA in asking you to pay these greyhounds back, and to let them retire from the dirt-floored, barren conditions in which they are kept isolated and alone.”

(Photos and video from PETA)

Texas dog seems to have a good grasp of emergency preparedness, and his dog food

otis

It’s not clear where Otis was heading when he escaped during Hurricane Harvey and hit the road.

But it is clear he didn’t leave unprepared.

Otis was photographed by a stranger while he was at large — with a giant bag of dog food in his mouth.

Otis, a German shepherd mix, got loose Friday night from a screened-in back porch in Sinton, Texas, where he had been left in the care of 65-year-old Salvador Segovia.

otis2Segovia was watching the dog for his 5-year-old grandson Carter whose family had fled the city due to flooding.

Segovia noticed the dog was gone Friday night when he went to check on him on the porch.

“I kept yelling his name and yelling his name and he wasn’t around,” Segovia told the Houston Chronicle.

When he checked the porch again Saturday morning, he noticed Otis’ bag of dog food was also missing.

A few people in Sinton — a town of about 6,000 — had seen Otis walking down the street with a bag of dog food in his mouth, including Tiele Dockens, who saw Otis, snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook.

The photo of Otis went viral, and Otis himself was tracked down Saturday and is back with Segovia — happily, all before his young master, Carter, returned home.

otis3

The dog has comforted the boy after several hospital visits, Segovia says, and is well-known around town. Wandering the streets is nothing new for him, though this is the first time he has brought his own food along.

Segovia said Otis is the “only dog allowed to lie down in front of the county court house,” and that he sometimes goes to Dairy Queen for a hamburger.

Maybe Otis was trying to get himself, and his dog food, back to his home. Maybe he sensed an emergency had been declared, and wanted to be prepared. Or maybe he just wanted to go for a walk, and knew the DQ was going to be closed Friday night.

We’ll never know, but it’s fun to speculate.

(Top photo by Tiele Dockens, from Facebook; photos of Carter and Otis courtesy of Salvador Segovia)

Dumped dog finds a home in city hall

nuisance3

Rochester, Texas, is about three hours west of Fort Worth and about one hour north of Abilene — a small crossroads of a town (population, about 400) whose remote location has made it a common place for people to dump unwanted dogs.

How they fare after that varies, but one dog has made out OK, earning the unofficial title of “town dog,” spending summer days in the air conditioning of City Hall, and recently having moved into the home of the city manager.

“People are bad about dropping strays off here,” City Manager Gail Nunn told the Abilene Reporter-News. “We don’t know who left him, he was just dropped off as a puppy.”

He was originally spotted by resident Linda Short who gave him half her burrito and became a friend for life. Short had him neutered and vaccinated and he freely roamed the streets, often laying on the sidewalk outside the Hole In the Wall Café.

nuisance1Because he regularly seemed to patrol the street, she took to calling him Deputy Dog, but the name that stuck was Nuisance.

Not that the well-behaved dog is is too much of one.

In the summer, he spends much of his time inside City Hall, enjoying the air conditioning.

“During the day, he comes in and lays there,” Nunn said. “When he wants to get out and make his rounds, he’ll go to the door and tap on it for me let him out.”

Nuisance is a medium-sized, black and tan dog, and while he wasn’t causing too many complaints living on the streets, Nunn recently decided to take him home for his own safety.

For one thing, she didn’t want him to have the same fate of the previous town dog — Butter, a small yellow dog. “He got rattlesnake bit,” Nunn explained.

On top of that, stray dogs face other dangers, like coyotes, irate farmers, and speeding cars.

Nuisance is mostly adapting, but sometimes living up to his name by escaping.

Nunn said on a recent Sunday she drove her car to church — even though it’s right across the street — so the dog wouldn’t follow her.

Walking into the church, she looked down and saw Nuisance at her side.

nuisance2

He’s still living up to the Deputy Dog moniker as well.

He was recently seen trailing a shady character, dressed in black with a pulled-up hoodie.

“They think it was somebody fixing to rob something,” Nunn said.

He also reacts when someone drives through town too fast or too loudly, perking up his ears and rising, as if readying himself for pursuit.

“It’s the ones that come through racing their motors,” Nunn said. “He goes after them.”

(Photos: City Manager Gail Nunn and Nuisance, by Ronald W. Erdrich / Reporter-News)

Unusually bold attacks see wild cats enter homes to snag dogs

The more we intrude on what was their domain, the more likely we are to have run-ins of the unpleasant variety with wildlife — even inside the safety of our homes.

In the past two weeks, two homeowners say wild cats entered their homes in pursuit of their pets — a mountain lion in San Mateo County, Calif., and a bobcat Plano, Texas.

In the California case, the mountain lion snatched a woman’s dog at night as she, her child and the pet slept in her bed.

Both intrusions were seen as uncommonly bold for the species, and both have served to renew local and regional debates on how best to handle the kinds of predators that, despite development, can still show up in suburban and rural areas.

Some, like the bobcat-encountering woman above, say get rid of them entirely — as in wipe them off the planet, or at least our ritzy suburb. Others favor trapping, tranquilizing, killing, relocating, or poisoning (which can be problematic for dogs, too). Some might favor taking a look at whatever more reasonable steps could lead to a more peaceful alliance.

We’d note at at the outset that, in both cases outlined here, the homeowners had left doors opened — so perhaps for people living in areas where such animals are sometimes sighted, shutting the damn door might be a good and sound first step.

That would have prevented what was a real life nightmare for Vickie Fought, of Pescadero, Calif. She and her daughter awoke to see their dog, a 15-pound Portuguese Podengo sleeping at the foot of the bed they shared, snatched and taken away by what has since been confirmed was a mountain lion.

About 3 a.m., the woman awoke in her home to hear the dog, named Lenore, barking. She glimpsed the shadow of an animal walking through her bedroom, according to NBC

Fought got out of bed and used a flashlight to look for her dog, but saw only large wet paw prints at the entrance of her bedroom.

Officers from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office collected a drop of blood found on the floor, which was taken to a wildlife forensics laboratory in Sacramento that same day.

Testing showed Monday that the blood included DNA from a mountain lion, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Capt. Patrick Foy of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the small dog was apparently what the mountain lion was after. Foy said it was the first case he’d heard of a mountain lion walking into a home.

“This person had left the door open, so the animal got in. That problem is fixed,” he added. “They’re not sleeping with the door open anymore.”

Earlier this week, in the suburbs of Dallas, a woman watched as a bobcat chased her miniature pinschers through an open door and into her house.

Plano resident Pat McDonald says she heard a scream and turned to see her female dog, Precious, running in the door. Behind the little dog, she says, was a bobcat. “He came right in,” she said.

McDonald says the large cat raced through her home and jumped on top of a six foot tall display cabinet. It ran back out, but not before biting the dog on the neck. Precious is expected to recover, according to CBS in Dallas.

Officials say it was the first instance they recall of bobcat entering someone’s home.

A “dog mauling” that was anything but

herreraA San Antonio couple were arrested in connection with the assault of a young child after investigators determined their story about the girl being attacked by dogs was not true.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said deputies were called to a home on the morning of New Year’s Eve, where a couple told them that the girl had wandered out of the home the previous night and been attacked by dogs.

Doctors at the hospital where the girl was treated found the injuries were inconsistent with dog bites and that a sexual assault had occurred.

At a news conference Tuesday, Salazar said the girl had suffered “extremely serious and life-threatening wounds consistent with a brutal sexual assault and multiple stab wounds,” CBS12 reported.

“I can’t even begin to describe to you the level of depravity that went into this crime,” the sheriff said.

Deputies arrested 22-year-old Crystal Herrera, described as a relative of the child, and her boyfriend, 23-year-old Isaac Andrew Cardenas.

Cardenas has been charged with super aggravated sexual assault of a child. His bond has been set at $300,000. Herrera has been charged with injury to a child and serious bodily injury by omission.

The 1-year-old girl was in stable condition Tuesday. Upon her release she will be placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.

Initially, county Animal Care Services workers took several neighborhood dogs into custody.

None showed any signs of aggression and they were returned to the owners.

(Photos: Cardenas, left; Herrara, right, Bexar County Sheriff’s Office)