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JoAnna Lou

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

News: JoAnna Lou
Andy Murray Saves Dog En Route to Wimbledon
The Scottish tennis player stops traffic to rescue a runaway pup.
Andy Murray and one of his Border Terriers.
On Sunday morning, Olympic Gold Medal tennis player, Andy Murray, was supposed to be focusing on defending his Wimbledon title, but instead he was busy with something more important--saving a dog.

Andy was on his way to the All England Club for pre-Wimbledon practice when he spotted a Labradoodle running down the road towards oncoming traffic. Andy put all competition thoughts aside and pulled over to rescue the wayward pup. He walked onto the road to stop traffic and loaded the dog into his car. After calling a number on the identification tag, Andy even gave the pup a ride home to Oxshott, Surrey.

Mary-Elizabeth, the dog's owner, was overjoyed to be reunited with her pup Bode and surprised to see who came to deliver the runaway dog. She calls Andy "a hero."

Potentially missing practice was a no brainer for the canine loving tennis champion. One of Andy's Border Terriers, Maggie May, even has her own Twitter account with over 27,000 followers.

After his heroic actions, Andy made it to practice and went on to win his match against Belgian tennis player David Goffin in the first round at Wimbledon. Maybe thanks to the karma points Andy earned in the morning!

News: JoAnna Lou
Police Officer Adopts Abused Dog
Cleveland pup is adopted by his rescuer.
  Last week Cleveland police officers responded to a call for a man beating a dog in the middle of the street. Upon arrival they found the Pit Bull mix with a witness who saw the abuse and convinced the man to stop. The injured pup was then brought to a nearby vet hospital to be treated for injuries on his face, legs, and paws, but not before one police officer made a special connection wtih the chocolate and white dog.

Patrol Officer Brandon Melbar ended up fostering the pup and has since decided to adopt the dog he named Harvard. Photos released on the Cleveland Police Department's Facebook page show that Harvard looks very happy in his new home. After reading so many negative news reports involving police officers and dogs, it's nice to come across a story like this one.

Through Harvard's ordeal, I also learned about Badges for Bullies, an Ohio based organization that fosters the relationships between police, the animal rescue community, and the general public. They paid for the costs of Harvard's treatment and follow-up care.

Badges for Bullies was created after a dog fighting raid where 27 scared and neglected dogs were rescued. Volunteers came together from all parts of the community to help the abused pups. The Cleveland Police held a fundraiser to pay for the dogs' treatments and that's where Badges for Bullies was born.

If the day comes where we finally overcome dog fighting, overpopulation, and other persistent animal welfare challenges, it will be through an initiative like Badges for Bullies that brings the community together to fight a common cause. I hope that the Badges for Bullies movement spreads to other cities and towns across the country!

News: JoAnna Lou
Canine Retirement Home
Japan debuts long term care facility for pets
Japan has one of the highest average life expectancies and one of the largest pet populations in the world. So it probably comes as no surprise that the country is opening their first canine retirement home outside of Tokyo.

Although long term pet care facilities exist elsewhere in the world, Aeonpet, the company behind Japan's retirement home, is hoping to establish an industry standard and create the first chain with multiple locations. Aeonpet is already a fixture in the Japanese pet market with specialty stores, animal hospitals, and a luxury pet hotel.

Aeonpet's first location will care for up to 20 dogs at a time, charging about $1,000 per month. The price will vary based on dog breed and size. Amenities include an on-call veterinarian, a grooming "spa," a playground, and a swimming pool--enough to make any human jealous! Hotel rooms are also available for people to stay during their pup's last days.

Pet retirement homes play an important role in ensuring proper care as people get older or move into nursing homes that don't allow animals, but many people may not be able to afford the price tag. Aeonpet's facility comes at a good time for Japan, since they recently revised their Law on Welfare and Management of Animals. The updated legislation requires pet owners to take responsibility for their animals, either by taking care of the pets themselves or finding them a new home.

Making plans for the inevitable isn't fun, but I'm glad that pet retirement homes give us yet another option for how we can care for our pets if we are no longer able to do so.

News: JoAnna Lou
Police Officer Jumps in Lake to Save Pup
A dog is saved after his family's car ends up submerged
Last month Debra Titus accidentally drove her pickup truck into a lake near a retirement community in Carver, Mass. She was able to escape with one of her dogs, Stitch, but her Chihuahua, Moochie, was trapped in the submerged vehicle.

When the police arrived on the scene, Officer David Harriman knew there was only one thing to do when he learned Moochie was still under water. The police officer removed his holster and dove right into the murky water.

The conditions were so bad that Officer Harriman could barely see his hands in front of his face. But he was able to open the car door and save the poor pup. Moochie wasn't moving at first, but quickly regained consciousness after they got to dry land.

Officer Harriman didn't think twice about diving into the water, saying he was inspired by the love he has for his own 8-month old English Bulldog, Jax, who he considers to be a member of the family. Officer Harriman's colleagues describe him as an avid dog lover and we can certainly see why! 

News: JoAnna Lou
Graduation Goes to the Dogs
19 pups become official bomb sniffers in New York City.
Service dogs have recently been honored in high school graduations and yearbooks, but last week a group of pups had their own graduation ceremony in New York City's Grand Central Terminal. The 19 bomb-sniffing German Shepherds went through an intense 12-week training program, making up the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's largest class to date.

Instead of a diploma, the each dog received an official badge with a collar and full color guard honors. Following graduation, the pups will patrol trains and station platforms by day and will live with their MTA and NYPD handlers at night.

Adding to the inspiring event, each of the dogs were named after New York fallen heroes whose families were in attendance. Their names are Augie, Chief, Daehan, Foxy, Geo, Holland, Joey, Mac, Patriot, Sentry, T.J., Vinny, Blue, Boomer, Dante, Falco, Nox, Sentinel and Tank.

Michael Stack said knowing that Chief, his dad's namesake, will be patrolling subways and fighting terrorism means a lot to his family. His father, FDNY Safety Battalion Chief Lawrence T. Stack, died while rescuing a man in the North Tower on September 11th.

The MTA's canine unit is one of the largest in the country and consists of 50 dogs that are trained to track the origin of thousands of unattended packages each year.

MTA Chief Michael Coan says the canine team is invaluable and also credits their success to the support of the handlers' families who take care of the pups when they're not on the job.

Having an official graduation ceremony is a great way to honor fallen heroes and the group of dogs waiting to carry on their legacy.

News: JoAnna Lou
Almost Missed Connection
Shelter nearly didn't reunite a family and their pup.
A Maryland shelter missed two opportunities to reunite a family with their pup, nearly resulting in the dog being euthanized. Last month, the Turner family was devastated when their dog, Shayla, escaped from their Owings Mills, Maryland backyard and search efforts and calls to local animal shelters were unsuccessful.
Determined to find Shayla, Helen Turner, made a last ditch effort and posted a picture of Shayla on Facebook. She asked friends to spread the word and just one day later, someone contacted Helen with a photo of a dog that looked like Shayla at the Baltimore County shelter--one of the facilities she called several times.

Helen immediately went to the shelter with the picture from Facebook, but was told the dog wasn't there. Fortunately Helen decided to check for herself, and found Shayla within minutes of entering the kennel area. When signing Shayla's release papers, Helen noticed that Shayla would've been euthanized in four days if they hadn't found her.

Shayla is microchipped and has a spay tattoo from another local shelter, so besides the near miss during Helen's visit, the family should have been contacted when the microchip was scanned.

According to the Baltimore County Health Department, which oversees the shelter, their process is to scan all dogs once in the field, and then again during the veterinary exam. But sometimes microchips are missed.

Thank goodness Helen found Shayla before this story could have taken a tragic turn. The reality is, city shelters are swamped and microchips fail. Shayla's story is an important reminder to be as persistent as possible if your pet is lost. Put up posters, call local veterinarians, and visit shelters in person to double check for yourself. So happy that Shayla is now back at home, safe and sound!

News: JoAnna Lou
Just One Day
Campaign aims to save shelter animals on June 11
Dog trainers always talk about breaking down new behaviors into small steps. After all, you wouldn't expect a dog to stop barking at strangers overnight. This goes for humans too! So that's why I love Just One Day's approach to reducing euthanasia in America.

The Just One Day campaign is trying to change the United States into a "no kill" nation, starting with today, June 11. They are asking animal shelters across the country to take a pledge not to kill any savable animals for one day. Instead workers will focus on posting photos of available animals online, reaching out to rescue groups, and hosting adoption events. The No Kill Advocacy Center, Animal Ark, and Animal Wise Radio are teaming up to offer support and marking tools. Just One Day estimates that 10,000 pets could be saved today.

I found out about Just One Day because the Animal Care and Control of New York City is participating. Even one day will make a big difference for a shelter that euthanized almost 5,000 pets in 2013--a number that was already 30 percent lower than in previous years.

Outright eliminating euthanasia is sadly unrealistic in today's world, but this campaign is a great way to encourage shelters to think creatively about how to increase adoptions and to promote overall awareness of the overpopulation problem, even if it's only for one day.

Check out the web site to see if your local shelter is participating today.

News: JoAnna Lou
Canine High School Graduate
Service pups walks in a Michigan high school's graduation

At Freedom Christian High School in Hudsonville, Michigan, 35 students walked for graduation this year, joined by one very special service dog.

High school senior Desi has cerebral palsy and was home schooled until she got Walton, four years ago. The Golden Retriever's main job is to help Desi walk and steady her if he senses she's about to fall. Desi doesn't know how she functioned before Walton, but he now gives her the independence that other kids take for granted.

Desi gives Walton all the credit for helping her get through high school and wanted to honor him with his own cap and gown. During the graduation ceremony, both of their names were called and Walton even carried Desi's diploma in his mouth.

“I think it was a great thing for everybody else to see that he really is part of me and my accomplishments are essentially his,” says Desi. After all, he did attend all of the required classes!

Desi hasn't decided on post-graduation plans, but would love to work at an animal shelter or rescue organization. I wish this wonderful team much luck in whatever Desi decides to pursue next!

News: Guest Posts
Affordable Cure for Parvo
A new parvo treatment comes from an unlikely source
A scientist separates the yoke from a goose egg to make an antibody treatment.
Canine parvovirus is not only costly to treat, but it's also difficult to keep outbreaks at bay. Though parvo has a high survival rate if treated early, many shelters end up euthanizing pups with the disease because of these challenges. The highly contagious virus is a nightmare for shelters because it spreads so easily and can live on surfaces for months. Thankfully, a lower cost treatment may be on the way, thanks to a most unlikely source.

It all began about a decade ago when a mysterious disease--later identified as the West Nile virus--was killing large goose populations at the South Dakota-based Schiltz Goose Farm. A group of researchers, led by Dr. David Bradley, executive director of the Center of Research Excellence for Avian Therapeutics for Infectious Diseases at the University of North Dakota, discovered antibodies in the yolks of goose eggs that they could purify and put back into other birds as a successful treatment. The Mayo Clinic called their find "game changing."

Soon a company called Avianax was formed to explore whether the treatment could be used beyond geese. They found promising links between the goose antibodies and treatments for other diseases, including rabies, dengue fever, avian flu, and some cancers. Their first focus was on the parvo virus and initial trials on their ParvoONE treatment resulted in a stunning 90 percent cure rate in as little as two days.  

Avianax will be running more trials on ParvoONE through November, but if the U.S. Department of Agriculture gives the go-ahead, Avianax plans on selling the treatment next spring for $75 per dose. Avianax is also starting to work on a human application of the antibody treatment for other diseases.

News: JoAnna Lou
Humble Shelter Funded Online
A nine year old boy starts a rescue organization in the Philippines
Only nine years old, Ken has wanted to start an animal shelter for as long as he can remember to help the many stray dogs and cats in the Philippines. Ken talked about his dream so much that he was really starting to get on his dad's nerves. His father told him that only grown ups could raise enough money and that it would take 20 years to do so. Boy did Ken prove his dad wrong!

Ken started feeding the stray animals around his home and in February, pictures of his humble efforts were passed around on the internet. Soon donations started pouring in from all over the world. Ken used the funds to build a temporary shelter in his family's garage, purchase kibble, and pay for veterinary care. He named the makeshift shelter The Happy Animals Club. Two months later the three dogs he took in, Blackie, Brownie, and White Puppy, are healthy and learning to trust people. They will be up for adoption soon.

Now the Happy Animals Club will be able to help every more dogs and cats. Earlier this month, Ken used donations totaling 66,000 pesos ($1,500) to lease a 10,000 square foot lot for one year. 

  Now that a larger space has been secured, Ken's has set two goals for The Happy Animals Club. The main focus will be to rescue dogs from the city pound and to increase adoption rates. A local official recently said that most dogs there are euthanized because only 20-30 percent of the animals are claimed most people in the Philippines want pure bred pups.

Ken sounds like a mature and ambitious nine year old. I have no doubt that there are big things in store for Ken and can't wait to see the future of The Happy Animals Club develop!

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