Tag Archives: pets

MoveOn, Humane Society launch ‘I’m with Purr’ push for Clinton

 MoveOn.org Political Action and the Humane Society Legislative Fund  teamed up to launch a new online ad highlighting Hillary Clinton’s record of animal protection and her “expansive” pro-animal campaign platform.

The ad was developed after MoveOn members said protecting animals is a key issue for them and the Humane Society Legislative Fund endorsed Clinton for president.

MoveOn.org represents millions of progressive members nationwide, according to a news release, and HSLF is a nonpartisan political advocacy organization that makes endorsements based on a candidate’s support for animal protection policies.

In their announcement for the campaign, the groups said: “During her eight years in the U.S. Senate, Hillary Clinton was a consistent supporter of animal protection policies, earning a 100 percent score in HSLF’s Humane Scorecard for the 108th Congress, a perfect 100 score in the 109th and an 83 in the 110th.”

In Congress, Clinton:

• Led efforts to stop the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals, which allow them to be crammed into overcrowded, stressful and unsanitary factory farms;

• Cosponsored legislation to prohibit the transport and receipt of horses to be slaughtered for human consumption;

• Cosponsored the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act  (S. 261) to prohibit the interstate transfer of animals for animal fighting;

• Cosponsored the Downed Animal Protection Act (S. 1779) to stop the processing of “downer” livestock;

• Cosponsored the Puppy Protection Act (S. 1478) to crack down on abusive “puppy mills” where dogs are treated like production machines;

• Signed letters requesting funds for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to step up enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and the federal animal fighting law

The statement from the groups said as secretary of state, Clinton led international efforts to crack down on wildlife trafficking and, through her work at the Clinton Foundation, she helped launch a major campaign against the illegal ivory trade and poaching of elephants.

Here’s the transcript of “I’m With Purr”: Humans aren’t the only ones with a stake in this election. Hillary has a bold platform to protect animals and wildlife.  She wants to:  Strengthen “puppy mill” regulations.  Reduce the overuse of antibiotics.  Pass the “Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture Act.”  Vote Hillary Clinton.  #ImWithPurr.

Dogs raised for meat rescued, find Oregon homes

Megan Watkins never wanted a dog until she met Florence, a Tosa mastiff rescued from a South Korean dog meat farm.

Watkins, who manages a Starbucks in Bend, Oregon, hosted a grand opening block party in August. She remembers stepping outside the coffee shop and happening to see Florence being walked by Humane Society of Central Oregon Outreach Manager Lynne Ouchida.

Watkins, an owner of two cats, knew she found her dog.

“I felt instantly connected to her,” she said. “She just had this really tough, sweet, calm energy.”

Watkins offered the dog a puppuccino, a small cup filled with whipped cream that Starbucks employees give to customers’ dogs.

“We say it was a match made over a puppuccino,” Ouchida said.

Rescued dogs

Florence is one of 28 dogs brought to central Oregon in March from a dog meat farm in Wonju, South Korea. All but three of the dogs have since been adopted, and two had to be euthanized, reported The Bulletin.

Humane Society International, a global animal protection organization, goes to dog meat farms and trades services and goods for the dogs. The group teaches farmers how to grow crops or offers rice and berries in exchange for the dogs.

A total of 250 dogs were rescued from the South Korean farm and sent to Humane Societies around the United States.

The Humane Society of Central Oregon in Bend took 17 dogs, and BrightSide Animal Shelter in Redmond took 11 dogs. The breeds vary with mixes including Labradors, mastiffs, Jindos and elkhounds.

Each dog had major medical and behavioral issues. The dogs had infections, orthopedic issues and broken teeth from being confined in small cages. Many were fearful at the Humane Society shelters and would hide in their kennels.

“These dogs were not raised with human contact. They were not raised in a social environment,” Ouchida said. “They were raised in wire cages. Their interactions with humans were extremely limited.”

Florence had two deformed legs from growing up in a small cage. She had surgery in September, paid for by Humane Society International. She is now recovering with her foster owner, Watkins, who will be able to formally adopt her from the Humane Society after she recovers.

“We came into her life through the worst of it,” Watkins said.

Two dogs from the farm remain at the Bend shelter; Owen, a 1-year-old Jindo, and Addi, a 2-year-old Tosa-Lab mix. Staffers continue to socialize and train the two dogs before they will be put up for adoption.

Jesse, a 1-year-old Jindo mix, is in foster care with the Redmond shelter.

Overall, 23 of the dogs have been adopted.

“This has been extremely successful for the dogs,” said Karen Burns, Humane Society of Central Oregon manager. “Yes, we have had some heartbreak along the way, but I would like to focus on all the positive we have done. These are success stories. These are dogs that are part of someone’s life and family now because of what we did.”

Changing the culture

Bend resident Debby Bever grew up in Taiwan, where it is common to see dog meat at the markets. She never got used to the sight.

“There were dogs at the market all the time,” Bever said. “There would be chicken, fish and then you would see a dog carcass.”

Consuming dog meat is a cultural tradition, Bever said, where some Asian people believe it will keep them cool in the summertime. The tradition is still popular among older generations, she said, but younger people are slowly changing the culture.

With the experience of seeing dog meat firsthand, Bever felt compelled to help the dogs that came to town in March.

She offered to be a foster owner for a Tosa mastiff puppy named Lana. After less than a month, Bever adopted the young dog.

Bever, who owns two mastiffs, said it has been fascinating to see how Lana interacts with her two large dogs. Lana almost immediately bonded with them, while remaining distant to any human contact. Over time, she has warmed up to Bever.

“They just attach to other dogs and don’t want to be by themselves,” Bever said. “All they knew were dogs and mean people.”

‘Part of the family’

At her home in Redmond, Watkins had a ramp, doggy door and outdoor enclosure built for Florence.

“She is part of the family now, and we set up the whole house for her,” Watkins said.

After meeting Florence at the block party, Watkins visited her at the Bend shelter for two weeks before bringing her home. During those two weeks, Watkins convinced her husband, Jason Watkins, they needed the dog.

He agreed, and Florence has fit into their family ever since.

“I just feel very lucky to have her in our lives,” Watkins said.

On the Web

Humane Society International.

Much ado about poo: Feces fuels Hawaii feral feline debate

Two wildlife issues have collided in Hawaii, pitting one group of animal defenders against another in an impassioned debate. The point of contention? Deadly cat poop and the feral felines that produce it.

Federal researchers believe feces from the legions of feral cats roaming Hawaii is spreading a disease that is killing Hawaiian monk seals, some of the world’s most endangered marine mammals. Some conservationists advocate euthanizing those cats that no one wants, and that’s got cat lovers up in arms.

“It’s a very difficult, emotional issue,” said state Sen. Mike Gabbard, chairman of a committee that earlier this year heard and then abandoned a proposal to ban the feeding of feral cats on state land after an outcry. “It struck a nerve in our community.”

The problem stems from a parasite common in cats that can cause toxoplasmosis, a disease that killed at least five female Hawaiian monk seals and three males since 2001, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“While eight seals may not sound like a lot of animals, it actually has pretty large ramifications for an endangered population where there’s only about 1,300 seals in existence at this point in time,” said Michelle Barbieri, veterinary medical officer for NOAA’s Hawaiian monk seal research program.

Scientists believe monk seals become exposed to toxoplasmosis by ingesting contaminated water or prey.

Felines are the only animals that can shed Toxoplasma gondii eggs, or oocysts. The parasites enter their digestive tract through infected prey then multiply in the small intestine and produce the eggs. Outdoor cats excrete the eggs in their feces, which researchers say washes into the ocean.

The eggs accumulate in invertebrates that live along the sea floor, where monk seals often feed. They can survive in fresh water, saltwater and soil for up to two years.

Any warm-blooded animal can become infected. California sea otters have died from toxoplasmosis, and it’s one of the major reasons the Hawaiian crow, alala, is extinct in the wild. Toxoplasmosis is rarely problematic for people with healthy immune systems, but it’s why doctors advise pregnant women not to handle kitty litter.

Many cities struggle with feral cats, but the problem is particularly acute in Hawaii because of its sensitive ecosystem and at-risk native species, experts say. Only two mammals are native to Hawaii: the hoary bat and the Hawaiian monk seal.

“Everything else here_ deer, sheep, goats, cats, mongoose _ they’re all invasive, they’re all introduced,” said Angela Amlin, NOAA’s acting Hawaiian monk seal recovery coordinator, adding cats have no predators in Hawaii to control their population.

Marketing research commissioned by the Hawaiian Humane Society in 2015 estimated some 300,000 feral cats roam Oahu alone.

Marine debris, climate change, predation and human interaction all threaten the survival of Hawaiian monk seals. But feral cats present their greatest disease concern, Amlin said.

“As conservationists, what we really have to look at is this is what Hawaii’s native ecosystem includes, and cats are unfortunately not part of that,” Amlin said. “When it comes to the feral cat population, there should be a program in place to bring in these animals, adopt the ones that are adoptable and humanely euthanize those that are not.”

Others take offense to that notion.

Classifying animals with labels such as native and invasive creates a “hierarchy in which the protection of certain animals comes at the suffering of others,” Hawaiian Humane Society President and CEO Pamela Burns wrote in a letter opposing the state Senate bill that would have banned cat-feeding on state land. She contended the 300,000 figure overstates the problem because the study looked at how many cats people were feeding and might have missed instances where multiple people fed the same outdoor cat.

Those who care for stray cats advocate trapping, neutering and spaying to help control their population.

The University of Hawaii’s Manoa campus, in Honolulu, started a feral cat management program _ with authorized feeders trained in tasks like trapping and feces disposal _ after the stench and mess from hundreds of cats prompted complaints, especially when children at a campus daycare center got flea bites, said Roxanne Adams, director of buildings and grounds.

The program started in 2011 and appears to have reduced the number of felines, she said.

Euthanizing cats is unacceptable unless they’re extremely sick, said Alicia Maluafiti, board president of animal welfare group Poi Dogs and Popoki.

“I totally disagree with the … generalization that cat people love cats more than these endangered species,” Maluafiti said. “What we just don’t advocate is the wholesale killing, the extermination, of one species … for one.”

92 cats, dead and alive, taken from Wisconsin home

Authorities have removed dozens of dead cats from the freezer of a home in southern Wisconsin.

Police confiscated 50 live cats from the residence in Monroe. Authorities say when they executed a search warrant, 35 kittens and six adult cats were found in a freezer.

They also found a dead cat in the garage.

WKOW-TV reports firefighters wore gas masks and oxygen tanks to enter the residence because of the smell.

Police Chief Fred Kelley says one of the 50 cats taken had to be euthanized because of its poor condition.

 

Off Abu Dhabi’s coast, an island home to cats seeks aid

The inhabitants of the desolate, man-made island off the coast of Abu Dhabi can’t be immediately seen among the breakwater rocks.

But as you draw close, their meows give them away.

A colony of stray cats has swelled on Lulu Island among its barren sandy hills and abandoned buildings that have fallen into disrepair, with the gleaming modern skyline of the United Arab Emirates as a background. The island has lain fallow and largely undeveloped since an ambitious plan by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer to turn it into a “leisure park” fell apart in the 1980s.

A volunteer group is trying to spay and neuter the island’s cats while caring for them in an abandoned modernist’s dream that seems to suit the Arabian Maus living there.

“The flora and the fauna all live in harmony with each other,” said Susan Aylott, who leads the aid group Animal Welfare Abu Dhabi. “Everything lives in harmony with the cats here.”

Lulu, which means “pearl” in Arabic, is a narrow island around 3 miles long running along the coast in front of Abu Dhabi’s downtown, protecting its shores from the sometimes choppy waters of the Persian Gulf. Niemeyer’s planned attractions, including an aquarium; conference center and marina were never built. A few other beach structures were built but lie unused and more recent plans to develop it never got off the ground.

In 2009, Abu Dhabi stopped ferries to the island amid an economic slowdown, and in theory it’s closed to the public, though sometimes people drop by on their own boats just to see it.

But sometime over the decades, cats made it across the narrow channel _ about a half-mile wide _ separating it from Abu Dhabi Theatre and the rest of the capital. Four years ago, they numbered 27, Aylott said. Now there’s over 165, mostly Arabian Maus, she said.

“You can’t just remove them,” she said on a recent visit to the 469-hectare (1.8-mile) island. “This is their home.”

So Aylott and others are working to neuter and spay the cats. On a recent day, a bunch of cats dashed out for the food set out by Aylott and her volunteers _ and some had docked ears, a sign they had undergone the procedure. But a short distance away, a kitten hid behind a water tank, meaning others remain fertile.

“We all want to help to make the vision of Abu Dhabi a better place — for the cats anyway,” Aylott said.

Yet there is always more work to do. Aylott’s brow at one point furrowed with a call to her mobile phone. Her group had plans to resettle a giant African tortoise at a local Abu Dhabi hotel because its owner, who kept it at home, is leaving the country.

“The tortoise is running late,” she said. “She’s dug a hole and is refusing to come out.”

 

On the Web

Animal Welfare Abu Dhabi.

Those puppy eyes can help a dog bond with owner

Oh, those puppy eyes.

Just by gazing at their owners, dogs can trigger a response in their masters’ brains that helps them bond, a study says.

And owners can do a similar trick in return, researchers found.

This two-way street evidently began when dogs were domesticated long ago, because it helped the two species connect, the Japanese researchers say.

As canine psychology experts Evan MacLean and Brian Hare of Duke University wrote in a commentary on the work, “When your dog is staring at you, she may not just be after your sandwich.”

The new work is the first to present a biological mechanism for bonding across species, said researcher Larry Young of Emory University.

Neither he nor the Duke scientists were involved in the study, which is reported in a paper from Japan that appeared in the journal Science.

The brain response is an increase in levels of a hormone called oxytocin. Studies in people and animals indicate this substance promotes social bonding, such as between parent and infant or between two lovers.

One experiment in the new research involved 30 owners and their dogs. Oxytocin levels in the urine of both species were sampled before and after the owners and their dogs spent a half hour together.

Analysis showed that owners whose dogs looked at them longer in the first five minutes had bigger boosts in oxytocin levels. Similarly, dogs that gazed longer got a hormone boost, too. That’s evidently in response to being touched by their owners during the session, one of the study authors, Takefumi Kikusui of Azabu University near Tokyo, said in an email.

No such result appeared when researchers tried the experiment with wolves. The animals were paired with people who had raised them, although not as pets. The difference suggests dogs started gazing at owners as a social strategy when they became domesticated, rather than inheriting it from their wolf ancestors, researchers said.

Another experiment with dogs found they looked at their owners longer if they were given doses of oxytocin, and that the hormone’s levels then went up in their owners. But these results appeared only in female dogs; the reason isn’t clear.

An oxytocin researcher not connected to the study said previous work had provided bits of evidence that the hormone plays a role in bonding between species, but that the new work is more comprehensive.

“It makes very good sense,” said C. Sue Carter, who directs the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University.

But Clive Wynne of Arizona State University, a psychologist who studies interaction between dogs and people, said he thinks the link to domestication is “barking up the wrong tree.” The study doesn’t provide convincing evidence for that, he said.

Emory’s Young, who studies bonding behavior, said the relationship between people and dogs is special. Human love can lose its initial exhilaration over time, he said, but he hasn’t seen that with the dogs he has owned for 10 years.

“When I come home from work every day, they are just as excited to see me now as they were when I got them,” Young said.

Ahead of ‘Finding Dory,’ consumers urged not to buy wild-caught fish as pets 

In advance of the release of Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory, animal protection and conservation groups are urging consumers not to buy fish like Dory, a blue tang, or other wild-caught fish as pets for home aquariums.

While many freshwater fish can be bred in captivity, most saltwater fish offered for sale for aquariums are captured in the wild and taken primarily from coral reefs in the Philippines and Indonesia, often using cyanide that kills coral and other animals. These fish have complex needs that cannot be replicated in home aquariums, resulting in high mortality rates.

The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International, the Center for Biological Diversity and For the Fishes welcome the awareness about marine species that Finding Dory will create but warn that a sharp increase in demand of blue tangs could have severe impacts on the species. Finding Dory is a sequel to 2003’s Finding Nemo, which triggered millions of consumers and moviegoers to purchase wild-caught clownfish. The sudden mass demand and subsequent capture of millions of clownfish from their homes decimated wild populations, causing irreparable harm to both the species and the coral reefs they inhabited. Many consumers were unaware that clownfish were wild caught from their native reefs at that time, not bred or raised in captivity.

Although clownfish are now able to be bred in captivity, blue tangs have not been successfully bred in captivity, and captive-bred blue tangs are not available for purchase for home aquariums. While blue tangs are sold as 1- to 2-inch animals, they reach 12 inches as adults and have difficult care requirements, making them unsuitable for most home aquarists. Species this size, and with natural wide-roaming behaviors on the reef, require a minimum tank size of 180 gallons, which is about the size of a small sofa and at least three times larger than the average home tank.

Disney recognized the potential unintended consequences of the film and developed educational materials to inform the public, including recommendations to “Always select appropriate acquacultured fish as a first choice for your home aquarium,” and that “Blue tangs, like Dory, do not make good pets. Instead choose appropriate acquacultured fish.” The HSUS and HSI commend Disney for its efforts to support responsible pet ownership and help drive the market toward captive-raised, not wild-caught, ornamental fish.

“We are already seeing a troublesome increase in the number of blue tangs offered for sale to unknowing consumers in preparation for the release of Finding Dory,” said Rene Umberger of For the Fishes, creator of Tank Watch, a free mobile app that allows consumers to find out if a fish is wild caught, and inappropriate as a pet, or captive bred.

Finding Nemo created appreciation for the diversity of marine life and prompted many people to realize the negative impact of keeping wild-caught aquarium fish,” said Teresa Telecky, director of wildlife for HSI. “Sadly, it also had the effect of prompting some consumers to purchase animals they are ill-equipped to care for. In the case of wild-caught marine animals, the majority of these creatures live only a fraction of their natural lives if they are kept in a home aquarium, if they survive being captured and transported.”

“People can literally love these beautiful fish to death and we don’t want to see that happen again,” said Nicholas Whipps with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Films like this can prompt people to buy wild-caught fish for their aquariums and have major impacts on sensitive coral reef ecosystems. Consumers should educate themselves before stocking an aquarium with wild-caught fish.”

All three groups filed a legal petition in March asking the U.S. government to test imported aquarium fish for cyanide poisoning and to urge the Philippines, Indonesia and other countries that use reef-damaging cyanide fishing to enforce their laws against the practice.

In a new critically acclaimed book, What a Fish Knows, Jonathan Balcombe, director of animal sentience for the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy, writes about the diversity and beauty of fish and how individual fishes think, feel and behave.

What the public can do:

• Never buy wild-caught animals, including blue tangs, as pets for home aquaria.

• Sign the pledge ‘Don’t Buy Wild’ — whether fish, birds or other wild animals.

• If you are thinking of purchasing a fish, download the free Tank Watch App hereand find out which are wild caught and which survive best in home aquaria.

• Spread the word on social media.