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News: Guest Posts
Congress Bans Crush Videos
Bill awaits Obama’s signature

Animal rights advocates are urging President Obama to sign a recently approved bill that bans the sale and distribution of gruesome “crush videos,” which depict the intentional torture of puppies, kittens, and other live animals.

 

Congressional leaders in mid-November overwhelmingly passed the legislation—H.R. 5566, the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010—to halt what the head of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) calls “the most sickening cruelty” he has witnessed (this link includes a timeline at the end regarding debate over this issue).   The bill targets a seedy industry that profits off the sale of grisly videos containing graphic images of screaming and bleeding puppies, kittens and other animals deliberately tortured for the sexual titillation of viewers. According to the HSUS, crush videos often feature scantily clad women in stiletto heels crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling helpless animals. The “unimaginable torture” inflected on the animals is often prolonged for minutes or even hours, the organization said.   Lawmakers on Capitol Hill introduced the bi-partisan bill in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in April that overturned a similar, but “unconstitutionally overbroad,” 1999 law. The High Court ruled that law—the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act—was too broad and “therefore invalid under the First Amendment.”   The day after the court’s decision, federal legislators introduced a narrowly crafted bill designed to give law enforcement the tools needed to crack down on creation, sale, and distribution of crush videos.   Sales of those macabre videos have mushroomed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the HSUS said. One website, for example, had more than 700 crush video titles for sale, the organization said.   “After federal judges struck down the law banning the sale of animal crush videos, this horrible and cruel industry stepped into the legal void and resumed its commercial creation and peddling of these videos,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS.   He and other animal rights advocates applaud lawmakers’ efforts to shut down this abusive industry, which “all but disappeared” after Congress enacted the 1999 legislation.   They hope history will repeat itself.   “We need this law on the books to halt some of the most sickening cruelty I have ever witnessed in my life,” Pacelle said. “We urge President Obama to sign H.R. 5566 into law quickly.”   The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) echoes those sentiments.   “Crush videos depict an extreme form of animal cruelty,” Ann Church, senior director for the group’s Government Relations, said in a written statement. “The ASPCA is hopeful President Obama will voice his conclusive support for this important legislation.”   Anyone convicted under this new bill faces up to five years in prison.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Adopt a Senior Pet Month
November brings attention to homeless canine elders

This season, there are many things that I’m thankful for, one being the wonderful relationship I have with my dog, Nemo. 

Someone once told me that cute puppy eyes are no match for the deep, loyal eyes of an older dog. Nemo is my first dog and, for the longest time, I didn’t understand. How could anyone resist a puppy? But now that Nemo is almost six years old, I finally know what they meant. When I look into his eyes, I can see how much trust he puts in me and the wonderful relationship that we have.

Puppies have to be cute because they’re so much work! Young dogs are usually the first to be adopted from animal shelters, even though they’re not always the right fit for many families. To bring attention to those older animals, who are often overlooked, November has been named Adopt a Senior Pet Month.

There are so many positives to adopting a senior dog. Older dogs are easier to housebreak, they’re typically more mellow, and their size and personality are more predictable, making it easier for shelters to match families to their perfect dog.

Check out the ASPCA’s Top Ten Reasons to Adopt an Older Dog and add the Petfinder senior pet widget to find your perfect match.

 

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Ball of Fur
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! sponsors abandoned pup

I’ve heard a lot of inspiring rescue stories, but recently I read about a Poodle from Louisiana with a particularly incredible story, and the most amazing makeover I have ever seen. This tenacious pup could’ve given any of the Worlds Ugliest Dog winners a run for their money… until he got the second chance of a lifetime.

A couple weeks ago, a dog was found in a ditch, covered in insects and so matted he couldn’t walk or eat. Fortunately he was rescued by My Heart’s Desire, a local animal rescue group.

The poor pup was so matted that he had to be sedated in order to shave off all of the hair.  It took him one week to walk again. The rescue group named the Poodle Ripley after Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, since they could barely believe there was a dog under all of the mats.

When officials at Ripley’s Believe It or Not heard about their namesake, they were so inspired that they sponsored his care by making a donation to My Heart’s Desire. When Ripley is adopted, the company will be sending him home with a gift card to a local pet store for food, grooming, and toys.

Love for special animals is not new to the company. Founder, Robert Ripley, was a pet lover and even had a one-eyed dog named Cyclops.

After grooming and lots of love, Ripley the Poodle is now doing well and is looking for a forever home. My Heart’s Desire says that Ripley is a social butterfly and is constantly wagging her little stub of a tail. 

With her amazing turnaround, Ripley is a perfect example that you should never judge a book by its cover!

 

News: Guest Posts
Dangerous Dog Breed List Has No Bite
Daily Beast fearmongering should be muzzled

I don’t know how to break it to my family and friends, but there’s a Pit Bull mix and two Dalmatians in my house! According to the Daily Beast, I should be scared to death to live among the #1 and #11 most dangerous dog breeds, respectively.

Just because you don’t have one of the common banned breeds—Dobermans, Rottweilers, German Shepherds—you think you’re safe? Greyhounds, Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers, Old English Sheepdogs, Beagles, Golden Retrievers and Poodles all made the list of 39 dangerous dog breeds. Guess all of us dog lovers should run for our lives!

The irreverent online news digest (founded by former Vanity Fair and The New Yorker editor Tina Brown), attempts to persuade the reader at how much research went into creating its “39 Most Dangerous Dog Breeds” list.

Problem is, it relied on a faulty study—which had been discredited several years ago—as its main source. Not to mention, both the Centers for Disease Control and the American Veterinary Medical Association have stated that breed is not the primary indicator for a bite. As most dog lovers and professional dog trainers know, socialization, training and supervision are key to bite prevention.

When glancing through the photo gallery illustrating the 30 breeds, be sure to note the breed name as printed because the Daily Beast posted photos that do not match the breed listed. For example, the Bull Mastiff “pictured” is a Dogue de Bordeaux, and both the Australian Shepherd and the Collie feature photos of what appear to be Border Collies. Perhaps if the Daily Beast had focused more on finding accurate breed photos than digging up muzzled and mean dog pics, readers could take this pet project a little more seriously.

News: Guest Posts
Canada’s First Pet Store Ban
Vancouver suburb just says no

Months after San Francisco officials tabled the hot-potato discussion of shutting down the sale of puppies in the City by the Bay, the city council in Richmond, British Columbia, unanimously passed its own ban on the sale of pets from local stores. The move by the Vancouver suburb makes it the first ban of its kind in Canada.

            And the impact could be significant. “Fifty-one percent of British Columbians annually buy their dogs from a breeder, many via pet stores, rather than adopting, compared to the North American average for a municipality of 25 percent,” reports the Vancouver Courier. “In Richmond, the average number of residents purchasing puppies from breeders annually is 57 percent.” Shutting down stores will not only slow the demand for pet store puppies, it will bring attention to the issue of puppy mills and overpopulation, which will have a more lasting impact.   In a related and interesting twist, recent legislation in Victoria, Australia, outlaws the sale of animals to anyone under the age of 18.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Humane Leadership Degree
Duquesne University offers first online program

Educational opportunities are a reflection of what society considers important. Topics that have value are available for study. We see this phenomenon when schools must cut programs because of budgetary concerns, which is why it’s clear to anyone paying attention that music, art and physical education are, regrettably, at the bottom of our priorities as a society and are often the first to be cut.

  We also see what areas are of value when new programs and positions are developed. We saw it when Frank Ascione became the first professor of an endowed chair that was established to focus on the human-animal bond and animal-assisted therapies. And we’re seeing evidence of it in an exciting new program at Duquesne University. The Humane Leadership Bachelor’s Degree Program is the first online humane program in the country. Its courses are directed towards animal care and animal control professionals with a goal of teaching students in the program to become agents of change in their communities to improve the lives of animals. Enrollment is open for Spring 2011.   The courses in the program include: Animal Health and Behavior in a Shelter Environment First Strike: Cruelty to Animals and Interpersonal Violence Studies in Humane Education Compassion Fatigue Fundraising, Philanthropy and Resource Development Nonprofit Board of Directors Strategic Planning and Organizational Effectiveness Human Resource and Volunteer Management Marketing and Public Relations   As the value of humane treatment of animals continues to be recognized and even to grow in importance, more and more opportunities to learn about it will be developed. In recent years, programs to teach kids about animals and the compassion, respect, responsibility and kindness they are due have been developed for use in secondary educations in places such as San Francisco and New Jersey.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Voting for K-9 Rights
Tea Party against the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act

The Tea Party has been all over the news lately for all sorts of political reasons. But now the infamous party is organizing an opposition to the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act in Missouri.

 
Earlier this year, Lisa Wogan wrote about the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, or Prop B, which will be on the Missouri state ballot next month. The legislation requires large-scale dog breeders to provide sufficient food and clean water, necessary veterinary care, housing that protects dogs from the elements, enough space to turn around, stretch, and lie down, regular exercise, and adequate rest between breeding cycles. The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act will also limit the number of breeding dogs to 50 per facility. 

Yes Prop B will cut down on breeder profit, but it isn’t exactly asking for anything that they shouldn’t already be providing. Although the bill seems so basic, many groups oppose the legislation. Lisa talked about the argument that Prop B will make it more difficult for middle-class American families to have dogs. I hope she’s right that higher priced puppies may encourage more families to choose adoption. Also considering how many health problems puppy mill pups often have, I think that regulating breeding conditions may actually help make pet care costs go down.

Most recently, Prop B critics have gained the support of the Missouri Tea Party, which is holding a “Vote NO on Proposition B” meeting tomorrow. Tea Party advocate, Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher believes that the government should not limit the number of dogs a breeder can own, like the government would not limit the number of cattle a rancher can raise.

I wouldn’t exactly compare dogs to cattle, though I believe that all animals, whether bred as pets or as food, should be treated with humanity. Considering that these breeders have the dogs to thank for generating an income, the least they can do is meet the basic needs of these animals.  

Any reputable breeder knows that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to make a decent living off of breeding dogs in a truly responsible manner. Dogs deserve more than just their basic needs met, but puppy mill dogs don't even get that. Unfortunately, I don’t think that puppy mills will ever be shut down (though I would love to be wrong!), but hopefully Prop B will at least improve conditions for dogs across Missouri.

Visit the Missouri Secretary of State website to read the exact Prop B proposed statute.

 

News: Guest Posts
Tea Partiers for Puppy Mills?
Joe The Plumber fights reform

The Tea Party has finally crossed the line from an annoying fringe group who back incompetents for high office to one that can only be labeled insane. Here is all the proof you need: On October 5, a conservative outfit calling themselves the Alliance For Truth and led to the charge by the infamous Joe “The Plumber” (a remnant from the McCain campaign, whose name is not Joe nor is he a plumber, still plunging the remaining seconds of his 15-minute fame ride) picked up the backing of the Tea Party as they sought to prevent … wait for it … The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) from passing what they consider “radical anti-puppy mill legislation.”

  You read that right. The Tea Party backs puppy mills. With passage of the bill—“Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act”—the HSUS will eliminate as many as 3,000 puppy mills in the state of Missouri, a state that contains 30 percent of all the mills in America.   Now, if you’re even remotely close to a sane person, you would applaud this bill instead of putting on your spiffy Revolutionary War outfit and look to block its passage. And even if you had doubts as to whether the bill makes any sense at all, those would evaporate like morning mist soon as you heard the words of Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of the HSUS. “The measure would provide common sense standards for care of dogs,” he said in a recent Talking Points Memo article. “That includes sufficient food and clean water, vet care, regular exercise and adequate rest between breeding cycles.” The measure, he concluded, would only apply to “commercial dog breeding facilities that have more than 10 breeding females used for producing puppies for the pet trade.”   Seems like something we ought to be doing. If you’ve ever seen a puppy mill you would not even hesitate to put your stamp of approval on such a bill. So, what could possibly have the intellectual elites of the Alliance for Truth so agitated about this measure? Are you ready? Joe the fake-Plumper says that HSUS is “cowardly hiding behind animal cruelty, lying to our citizens and taking our constitutional rights away, one state at a time.”   Anita Andrews of the Alliance for Truth goes so far as to claim that the HSUS “don’t like animals.”   Perhaps these freedom-loving patriots should put down their muskets and get a taste of life in the real world. Puppy mills are cruel and evil places that do nothing but cause suffering and pain to dogs. The sooner we rid the country of them, the better off all pets will be. Pass the law, Missouri. Don’t waste a second listening to someone too incompetent to get a plumber’s license or a group of people with so much time on their hands that they are planning a protest march AGAINST puppies. It will be held at Coach’s Pizza World and will include members from the newly formed Mexico Tea Party. Yes, you read that last line correctly.   As the great writer George V. Higgins once said, “Life is hard. Very hard. It is harder if you go through it stupid.”   I hope Missouri ignores the rodeo clowns surrounding them and makes the bill law. It’s the smart move.   In truth, it’s the only move.

 

News: Guest Posts
AKC’s Mixed Message
Does it support all dogs or not?

Earlier this year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) invited mixed breeds to participate in select activities, such as agility, obedience and rally. But are mutts only welcome at AKC events if their owners pay for the privilege? That’s the message some mixed breed owners are receiving after the AKC said no to adoptable animals as part of its annual “Meet the Breed” event in New York City.

For seven years, the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) allowed the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals to bring homeless cats and kittens to its New York City Cat Show at Madison Square Garden. This generous partnership enabled the Mayor’s Alliance - a nonprofit coalition of 150 animal rescue groups and shelters – to find homes for hundreds of adoptable cats.

Last year, Madison Garden was unavailable, so CFA paired up with AKC’s “Meet the Breeds” event at the Javits Center.  CFA continued the tradition of inviting the Mayor’s Alliance to hold its Adopt A Cat program. However,  AKC said no adoptable dogs or puppies would be allowed.
 
On April 1, 2010, AKC officially opened some companion and performance programs to mixed breeds. A one-time $35 registration fee allows them to enter agility, obedience and rally trials. Each event requires additional entry fees. Apparently, the inclusion stops there. The nonprofit organization, whose mission statement includes “promote responsible dog ownership,” told the Mayor’s Alliance that no adoptable dogs or cats will be allowed at this year’s “Meet the Breeds” event.

In response, the Mayor’s Alliance and Best Friends Animal Society will present an adoption event  December 18-19 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. CFA will be participating.

News: Guest Posts
Meet Calendar Firefighters...
... and help dogs, Oct. 2, Miami

You know how the classic image of a burly fireman rescuing a frightened kitten from a tree is so familiar, it’s a cliché. Well, a crew of shirtless Southern Florida firefighters are breathing new life into the old idea by coming to the aid of animals in need.

  All thanks to radio/television personality Jade Alexander, who decided to think outside the box and connect two charities with whom she’s been involved over the years, often as an emcee at their events. She asked Lieutenant Luis Espinosa, who created the calendar, to include Friends Forever Rescue (a Florida not-for-profit working to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome homeless and unwanted dogs), as one of the charities to benefit from the sales of the calendar.   “Luis and Dee Chess (of Friends Forever Rescue) work tirelessly in helping the community in their individual efforts and I thought it would be a marriage made in heaven,” Alexander says. “Besides, can you imagine the cuteness factor of a firefighter holding a homeless dog? Of course, there’s the whole other audience that can’t resist a bunch of shirtless firefighters in bunker gear! Bottom line, the more calendars that are sold the more money we raise for abandoned and abused dogs.”   Details: Meet the South Florida Firefighters Calendar Men, Saturday, Oct. 2, from 11 am–3 pm at Petsmart, 13621 S Dixie Highway, Miami.

 

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