Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year Everyone!


(A picture postcard sent in from one of our friends in New England... Happy 2009 Coaty and Family!)

***

A favorite prayer:

May the poor find wealth, Those weak with sorrow find joy. May the forlorn find new hope, Constant happiness and prosperity. May the frightened cease to be afraid, And those bound be free. May the weak find power, And may their hearts join in friendship.


Treats on the Internets

For your reading pleasure...

Sports Illustrated has a cover story on the Vick dogs and they get it right.

KC Dog Blog has a foster dog from the OK abuse case and is looking for a name for the little cutie pie.

BAD RAP posts about the dogs they helped rescue in OK.

The LA Times writes about "Terrorism in the Name of Animal Rights"

Philosophizing about mutts, Obama, and everything at Columbia University Press.

A stray dog, victim of the terrorist attack in Mumbai, receives care - story at Red Star Cafe.

SmartDogs continues to follow the seizure of 300 dogs in Montana.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Faux Outrage du Jour: Rachael Ray

If you've blogsurfed recently, you may have run across folks getting their undies all bunched up over a "deadly dog food recipe" which appears on Rachael Ray's website and in Modern Dog magazine.  The recipe, which looks to make a few pounds of food, includes 1/2 of a medium onion, cooked.  Onions are on the list of toxic foods for pets.  

Rachael Ray's "pet friendly" recipes are described as food you can share with your pets and contain an advisory about checking with your Vet regarding which foods are safe for your pet.  Her personal pet is a Pitbull.

If we are to consider that I am not a moron (please, indulge me), we can possibly make the following assumptions:

1.  I know Rachael Ray is a cook, not a Vet, and that's prolly why she has that disclaimer on her recipes.

2.  I know Rachael's dog is a Pitbull which is a medium sized dog.  My dog, who I might prepare the recipe for, may be bigger or smaller than her dog and thus, I may have more or less concern about the ingredients.  Meaning, I understand a teaspoon of something toxic is a bigger worry when fed to a tiny dog than when consumed by a large dog. 

3.  I know I'm not going to make this recipe as the sole food for my dog's lifetime.  (The pet food corporations have failed to train me.)  I might prepare it on a special occasion but it's too complicated for regular feeding.

4.  I know my Vet is many good things but not a nutrition expert and so if I want to learn about foods appropriate for dogs, one of my resources is going to be The Google.  

Here's what my crystal-Google-ball reveals:

1.  2001 posting from a Vet:  

Dogs develop hemolytic anemia if they eat enough onions. I don't think that it matters too much whether the onions are cooked or not. The quantity of onions required is high enough that dogs can generally tolerate small doses of onions without any problem and moderate amounts of onion without clinically apparent disease, even though there may be measurable changes on lab test results. Cats are probably a little more sensitive to onion toxicity than dogs are. I can't find an exact quantity of onions required to cause toxicity problems in dogs, but there are several case reports of onion toxicity and they involve whole onions or sizable portions of chopped onions (like a cup or more).


2. Article from a pet supply vendor:
Onions in any form may cause anemia in dogs. Whether raw or cooked, fresh or dehydrated, onion seasoning or onion powder, a large enough quantity in comparison to the dog's size may create anemia.
[...]
A small quantity of onions may not create any serious illness in most dogs but, since there is no real need to feed onions to dogs, it is best to keep them away from your dogs.

3.  A bit from Dr. Patty Khuly:

Dogs and cats lack the enzyme necessary to properly digest onions and this could result in gas, diarrhea, or severe gastrointestinal distress. If large amounts of onion are ingested or onions are a daily part of your dog's diet, the red blood cells may become fragile and break apart. Severe anemias and even death can occur if the dog ingests lots of onions and receives no treatment.


I admit I had to cherry pick these findings from among the many Never-Feed-Onions-OH-NOES! warnings out there. I tend to discount hysteria when I come across it, but that's just me.

For an additional resource, I look at Juliette de Bairacli Levy's book The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat and I note that she fed her Afghans a small amount of raw onion on occasion.  

Now for the moment of truth:  what do I do with this recipe for Poison Stew?  I consider the size of my dog relative to the amount of onion in the portion of the recipe the dog will eat.  I consider how often I will be feeding this recipe.  And I make an informed decision based on my options.  I may choose to simply omit the onion from the recipe or I might feed the meal as-is to my big dogs and feed the little dogs something else.  That's what I did over the weekend when I made some potato pancakes (with onion) that didn't turn out as scrumpdillyishus as I'd hoped.  I fed the leftovers to the big dogs and gave the little dogs leftovers from Billy's breakfast (eggs and potatoes, no onions).

Now if you really want to get all frothed at the mouth over Rachael Ray, why not focus on the crappy dog food line she's hawking?  Cos her pet friendly recipes sound pretty good to me. 

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dinner at Chez Dog Tonight


I snagged a package of about-to-go-off-so-on-markdown chicken thighs at the grocery store yesterday and this afternoon cooked them up. After the chicken got cooking, I tossed in some other foods I had on hand - carrots, sweet potatoes, new potatoes and spinach. Remove chicken bones post cooking, toss meat back in pot, let cool and voila - dog dinner!

Pet Food, Seaweed Production and the World Economy

I thought this article on the price of seaweed in the Philippines was interesting (thing-I've-never-said-before alert!):

The price increased from from $3 per kilo to $12 per kilo for pet food carrageenan, $5 per kilo to $15 per kilo for food grade carrageenan and $8 per kilo to $24 per kilo for refined carrageenan.

[...]

Dakay projected a decline in the demand for processed seaweed or carrageenan due to the slowdown in the economy of major markets such as the US, Europe and Russia. 

He said the biggest drop was in the pet food market, which use an average of 50,000 tons of raw seaweed each year. 

The local processors have not received any orders for pet food carrageenan since October, Dakay disclosed. He noted that the pet owners have stopped buying wet pet food, which uses carrageenan, and have shifted to dry pet food. 

Dakay said this trend would spell bad news for the industry since, in the past, the pet food market alone required 50,000 metric tons of raw materials.

Apparently pet owners around the world have put the brakes on canned food and gone for kibble instead.  This is bad news for cats, since they really should not be fed dry food.

Good quality canned dog food is generally superior to kibble (it contains less grain for one thing) and I know many dogs will choose canned over dry if given a choice.  On the other hand, if feeding a pet kibble during tough economic times makes the difference between keeping the pet or having to surrender him to a shelter, I'm all for it.  And if you want to save even more money while offering better nutrition to your dog, you can add in some healthy table scraps too.  Seaweed optional.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

S & R Dog Saves Ontario Woman


A rescue dog turned Rescue Dog (as in Search & Rescue) found a woman (Donna Molnar, 55) who'd been buried 3 days in the snow in Ontario this week:

Alongside his search-and-rescue dog Ace, Ray Lau on Monday tramped through the thick, ice-covered brush of a farmer's field, not far from where Molnar's van had been found a day earlier.

He kept thinking: Negative-20 winds? This is a search for a body.

"Then, oh, all of a sudden, Ace bolted off," said Lau. "He stooped and looked down at the snow and just barked, barked, barked."

Lau rushed to his Dutch shepherd's side.

The fact that Mrs. Molnar was alive and conscious stunned everyone. In a good way:

David Molnar is calling his wife's survival his "Christmas miracle."
[...]
As for Ace, he's still awaiting his reward: a T-bone steak.

Ace says, "Shucks, I was just doin' mah job. And don't be stingy with the trimmings!"

What was Under Your Tree Today?


Apparently I was very good this year (who knew, right?) and Santa brought me some great pressies from my wishlist:

1. Redemption by Nathan Winograd

2. The Pit Bull Placebo by Karen Delise

Note: If you are wanting to pick up either/both of these books with some of that Xmas cash you got in your stocking, you can go to Caveat's site and find them on the left hand side. If you click thru to Amazon via Caveat, a portion of the sales go to the Banned Aid Coalition which is like getting a gift for yourself and giving a gift to a good cause at the same time.

3. A 14 oz. tub of dried liver treats which I'm going to pulverize in the food processor for use in dog treat recipes.

4. Two cookie sheets to make all those treats on (you don't want to know all the makeshift things I've been using to bake treats on - cookie sheets, your time has come!)

5. Pedipaws. (Nail grinder thingy you've prolly seen the commercials for on TV.) Now see, this is how much Billy hates nail clipping cos actually, he doesn't even do the clipping, I do. He helps hold a few of the dogs who require assistance (Emily requires "assistance" from a secure muzzle in addition to a steadier so she doesn't devour my face in Chihuahua sized bites while getting her nails trimmed). Anyway, he got us the Pedipaws so we'll be acclimating the dogs to it in the coming weeks (soon as we get the required batteries - doh!) and see how it goes. If I get any startling results, I'll post about it again. Congratulations Pedipaws on successfully marketing to Billy!

Please share your Xmas loot in the comments if you like.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Friends of the Blog - Holiday Edition

Echo, Izzy, Toby & Meadow


Magic, Seeker & Zorro


Oscar


Happy 12th birthday, Cedar!!

Cedar, age 12



It's all a bad dream.....it's all a bad dream

Cali (ha, ha!)



~Happy Holidays!~


If you'd like to submit a photo for the blog, you can e-mail, visit our group on Flickr or visit our new group on Facebook. All animal photos welcome. Even snakes. (No promises on using the snake pics.)


Some of the OK Pitbulls Saved

Of the 106 Pitbulls seized in OK, BADRAP says:

For now, we can tell you that many pit bulls were saved from this horrible situation and the rest that couldn't be saved were treated with compassion and kindness before they left.

I look forward to learning more details as they become available on this case.

Plays Well with Others

kitty petting parrot

Monday, December 22, 2008

Kittycat: Wake up yo!

Time lapse photography of one night in Hell:


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Most of the 100 OK Bust Dogs to be Killed

Of the 100 Pitbulls "rescued" in OK, it looks like most will be killed without individual evaluation on their temperaments by a qualified individual.  I had hoped for better for these neglected dogs but it looks like they will suffer the same unearned fate as the Houston Pitbulls, and so many others:

The adult dogs were so hungry and thirsty that at first they were not aggressive when officers and volunteers began feeding and watering them. But as they grew stronger, they began to grow more aggressive not only with the handlers but with the other dogs.

"I can't put them out with a family," the sheriff said.


Well no, you can't put them with any old family but you can place them with a well matched, responsible owner who understands the responsibilities of dog ownership.  Which are the same circumstances for placing any dog.  

Every dog deserves a fair evaluation.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What Happened in Houston?

When the Houston SPCA helped "rescue" 187 Pitbulls from a suspected dogfighting ring in Texas and then killed them all, I had questions.  I contacted the Houston SPCA directly but all they were interested in was getting info about me.  After a couple e-mails where I answered their requests for info about myself and reiterated my questions about the seized dogs, they sent me what appeared to be a form letter.  It referred me to other sources for info on the dogs.  So the total info Houston SPCA provided about the dogs was a big, fat ZERO.

One of the referrals was to the Harris County DA's office.  My e-mail inquiry to them was not answered.  I had better luck with the referral to the TX Department of Public Safety (DPS) Public Information Office (PIO).  Ms. Lisa Block tried her best to answer my questions although she stated up front that she was unsure why the Houston SPCA had referred me to her office, since the Houston SPCA had the dogs  and therefore would know the requested info.  When I explained that the Houston SPCA declined to provide any info, she made her best effort to help.  Ms. Block has given me permission to quote her directly from our e-mail correspondence (I abbreviated for clarity):

Q:  What were the estimated ages of the dogs killed - specifically were some of them puppies?

PIO - Texas DPS:  I do not know the ages of the dogs because the SPCA handled their medical evaluation. 

Q:  If the suspects have not had their day in court yet, how do we know for certain every one of them is guilty?

PIO - Texas DPS:  The suspects will have their day in court. The matter of what to do with the dogs was handled by a court judge.

Q:  If one or more of the suspects is ultimately found 'not guilty', who will advise them that their dogs were killed immediately after seizure?

PIO - Texas DPS:  I do not know because SPCA knows which dogs were put down.

Q:  Will any suspects determined to be innocent have any recourse over the killings of their dogs?

PIO - Texas DPS:  Like any person, who is determined to be innocent, they might have legal recourse to challenge actions taken by a court.

Q:  Why was each dog not given an evaluation by an independent canine behaviorist?

PIO - Texas DPS:  I know they were medically evaluated, but again, this was done by the SPCA, so I do not know if they were evaluated by a behaviorist. You might check with the judge that oversaw their case/cases.

In closing, I commented (and provided links) on the success of having individual temperament evaluations on the Vick dogs before placing some as family pets.  I hoped that Harris County would look to that case as an example in future regarding seized dogs.  Ms. Block responded:

I have heard of the success of placing some of the Vick dogs. Placement would be handled by the SPCA. I'm sorry that I do not know more, but I'm sure you understand that DPS is the law enforcement agency that worked to shut down the fighting operations. The SPCA is in charge of the evaluation of the dogs, and a judge decides the fate of the dogs. I do understand your concerns.

Let's be clear:  Putting an evidence-based end to suspected dogfighting rings and prosecuting the suspected abusers=100% good.  Killing all the seized dogs before they are individually evaluated for temperament by a qualified professional and without consent of the owners, who are innocent until proven guilty=100% bad.  It's one of those rare things in life that is so simple, even a kid could understand it.

There are rescue groups and dog lovers all over this country ready, willing and able to help with the dogs seized in abuse cases.  If your organization gets custody of a group of bust dogs, reach out to the community for assistance.  And when they reach out a hand to you, take it.  No seized dog needs to be killed for lack of help.  Use the available resources to get the dogs individually evaluated and keep detailed records.  Give all the relevant information to the judge in charge of the disposition of the dogs so that an informed decision can be arrived at with consent of the owners.    

The Houston SPCA doesn't get it.  And now they want to hide and get back to their "Animal Cops Houston" TV show on Animal Planet where they get to look like people who care about pets instead of people who kill them.  Sorry, not your lucky day Houston SPCA.  I'm not going to let this go.  I'm kinda loyal like that.  And if you don't know what that is, try looking into the eyes of the victims before you kill them next time - you'll see what I'm talking about.

Every dog deserves a fair evaluation.  

Solid Gold Canned Dog Food Recalled

Solid Gold has issued a recall Voluntary Product Withdrawal on their canned Turkey, Ocean Fish, Carrot, & Sweet Potatoes Formula for dogs:

Turkey, Ocean Fish, Carrot, & Sweet Potatoes Formula Canned Dog Food
13.2 oz
Cans – POP-TOP CANS ONLY WITH A 'USE BY DATE 01/02/2010' located on the bottom of can

[...]

Solid Gold has received several complaints regarding mold found in a batch of 13.2 oz canned Turkey, Ocean Fish, Carrot, & Sweet Potatoes Formula, with Pop-Tops.

This follows their October recall of moldy treats.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Recipe: Spinach and Cheese Biscuits


I've been trying different recipes to make green and red dough for dog biscuits. My raspberry biscuits did not turn out red at all but these spinach and cheese biscuits had a bright green dough which was very fun to work with. The final product was not nearly as green as the uncooked dough (the photo doesn't really capture the green tinge the biscuits have) but still smelled deliciously cheesy. Here is the recipe:

2 Cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 and 1/4 Cups whole wheat flour
1 Cup shredded cheese (I used a five cheese mix)
2 T oil (I used canola) - divided
3 Cups spinach leaves - divided
water sufficient for processing

1. Stir the flours and cheese in a bowl to blend thoroughly.
2. Put 1 and 1/2 cups of the spinach leaves in the food processor along with 1/4 cup water and 1 T of the oil and process until well chopped. Add half the flour/cheese mixture and another 1/4 cup water. Process until a ball of green dough forms. Remove dough, roll out and cut into desired shapes.
3. Repeat steps in #2 with the remaining ingredients to form a second ball of green dough.
4. Place cookies on greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees F for about 30 minutes.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Truth Sought Behind Secretive Shelter in Myrtle Beach

The animal shelter in Horry County, SC has been closed since Monday, apparently killing scores of dogs in response to a Distemper outbreak. A local news reporter is trying to find out exactly what happened:
News13 tried several times to speak with board members since Monday about the distemper situation at the county’s shelter, but none have returned phone calls.
[...]
The board oversees the Horry County shelter, which receives $536,316 in tax dollars each year from the county, according to Horry County’s public information office. However, the county contracts the operations of the shelter out to the Horry County Humane Society, according to county director of public safety Paul Whitten.

In trying to piece together a timeline of how the virus was discovered, there are conflicting reports:
Two confirmed cases of Canine Distemper Virus closed the Humane Society Monday and the closing is indefinite, according to society director Renee Macklen.
[...]
The first case was diagnosed by a Conway veterinarian on Oct. 27 after a family adopted a dog from the HCHS and took it to the vet the same day, where the doctor diagnosed the animal with “probable K-9 distemper,” according to HCSC records obtained by News13.
[...]

A second case was confirmed by the Clemson Veterinary Diagnostic Clinic in Columbia on Nov. 26 after doctors there found CDV in the animal that was sent to Columbia from the HCHS.

“When we read this, we thought this was an isolated case,” Macklen said of the Clemson confirmation.

Director Macklen told News13 that she was unaware of the Oct. 27 diagnosis and had she been informed of the incident, she would have ordered the shelter cleaned and addressed the problem.

The records News13 obtained contained the records from the Conway vet attached to the HCHS record of the animal, all of which came from the shelter.

Macklen also told News13 she was unaware of the Nov. 26 case, although Clemson faxed the form containing their findings to the HCHS and the document was attached to the animal’s record obtained by News13 from the shelter.

So where does the truth lie - in the shelter documents obtained by the reporter or in the words of the shelter Director who "declines requests for interviews with several media outlets"? Unless the shelter issues a statement declaring their own records are inaccurate, it seems hard to refute the documents as evidence.

Since Nov. 20, the Horry County shelter has euthanized 36 dogs, according to records obtained by News13, but that number isn’t alarming to shelter officials, “We don’t have additional kennel space,” Macklen told News13.

Oh sure, what's to be alarmed about? No space=kill. Distemper outbreak=kill. Media asking questions=hide.

Euthanasia is a means to end suffering in a medically hopeless animal or one who is a danger to people. It is not an answer to the problems of shelter crowding, disease outbreak or any other inconvenient challenge. We are a no-kill nation. It's past time for shelters to join us.

127 Dogs Seized in NC Dogfighting Raid

A suspected dogfighting kennel was raided by authorities in McGrady, NC on December 10:

A man believed to be the owner of the operation and two others were arrested. Each was charged with one count of felony dog fighting and baiting; additional charges are pending.

Authorities found suspected dog fighting paraphernalia on the property and seized 127 dogs. Several dogs had scars consistent with dog fighting.

The apparent owner of the operation, Ed Faron, was previously convicted of dog fighting and is reportedly one of the 10 most influential figures in the underground dog fighting circuit.

If this guy gets convicted of dogfighting again, let's hope he gets into the top 10 of some highly unpleasant category in prison. However, if it turns out that he is acquitted of all charges, let's hope the authorities haven't already killed all his dogs, a la the Houston SPCA and other so called "rescuers". And in any case, I hope the dogs can live out the remainder of their lives with appropriate training, discipline, affection, food and shelter provided by a responsible, loving owner. Cos that's what every dog deserves. But it's hard to hold on to that hope:
“If the state wins the case, the dogs will be euthanized, as called for under the county’s Animal Control Ordinance, based on the dogs being trained and used for fighting,” [Wilkes Animal Control Director Junior Simmons] said, adding that the dogs were therefore considered dangerous.
[...]
About half of the dogs were puppies.
Well crud.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What to Get Me For Xmas

Well maybe you weren't going to buy something for me but I bet there is someone on your list who would love a gift of a donation to help care for 100 Pitbulls seized in the OK cruelty case recently. Here's the info:

Send checks to:

110 S. Maple

Newkirk, OK 74647

Write "dogs" in the memo line.

The BAD RAP folks are heading to OK to help out. I hope I hope I hope this case has a good outcome for the victims.  The fact that the OK Sheriff asked for help with the dogs instead of simply killing them all immediately (I'm looking at you Houston SPCA) is an excellent start.  Let's keep the ball rolling by sending in a little cash.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Your Emotional Rescue Dog

Prolly not news to dog owners but now the scientific community is saying so:
Dogs are prone to complex emotions such as jealousy and pride, according to scientific research that sheds new light on their relationship with humans.
Canines do not like seeing their owners offering affection to other creatures, especially other dogs, and react negatively when their owners bring home new partners, the research found.
Check. And check.

Psychologists previously believed most animals lack the "sense of self" needed to experience so-called secondary emotions such as jealousy, embarrassment, empathy or guilt.
Sense of self? OH YES!  

CNN has an article on the same study:

Friederike Range and colleagues at the University of Vienna in Austria asked 33 trained dogs to extend a paw to a human.

The animals performed the trick virtually all of the time whether they were given a reward or not -- when alone or with another dog.

But the dogs' enthusiasm waned when they saw other dogs being rewarded but received nothing themselves.

Well duh.  Just having a guess that the researchers were NOT dog owners.

Biscuits for everyone!

Name That Animal


OK so it tells the name at the beginning of the video - but it's still interesting!  Here is the description that goes along with the vid:

Triops longicaudatus from Rodeo, New Mexico. These living fossils spend most of the year as dried-up eggs in the desert, and hatch when monsoon rains form large puddles. They grow quickly, eating fairy shrimp (also pictured in video), mosquito larvae, snails, and a variety of aquatic invertebrates. They attain a maximum size of about 4 centimeters before laying eggs as the puddles dry up. 
These animals have changed little in 70 million years. They swim with their many legs (up to 132 in large individuals) and possess 3 eyes. 
This species is an ally to humans because it eats Culex mosquitoes, carriers of West Nile Virus.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Over 100 Pitbulls Seized in OK

A self-described "dog lover" was arrested in Oklahoma Tuesday on 106 counts of animal cruelty and dogfighting:

Kay County Undersheriff Steve Kelley said his office followed up on an anonymous tip Tuesday afternoon and discovered 96 pit bull terriers in poor health at the property. The dogs were found tied to metal posts on 3-foot chains and in a barn on the property.

[...]

On Wednesday, officials searched a house on the land and found 10 puppies locked in dog carriers. One puppy died while police searched the house, and two others were taken to a local vet and euthanized.

Naturally, I'm wondering what will happen to all these abused dogs. Hopefully they won't get the Houston SPCA deluxe Pitbull treatment.

A veterinary board investigator is expected to evaluate the dogs today and give an opinion on what should be done with them.
Is this investigator a canine behaviorist, trainer or in some other way experienced with evaluating Pitbull temperaments? I'll go out on a limb and guess NO.

"The problem is not that these dogs are pit bulls,” said Kelley.

"It’s that these dogs are skin and bones and many of them have been taught to be aggressive.”

Right. That is exactly the problem - for the abuser. Because he's the one charged with the crimes here. The problem for the dogs is that they are in need of vet care and someone qualified to determine their suitability for adoption. I hope they get it. Every dog deserves a fair evaluation.

Toxic Teddy Treats


Nothing says I Love You like a sweet teddy bear stuffy holding some delicious chocolate. Unless that's [insert scary music here] MELA-CHOCOLATE! From the FDA:

Walgreens is recalling 173 teddy bears with chocolate bars sold in stores since late September 2008. Analysis by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that certain samples of the chocolate provided with the teddy bears were contaminated with melamine.

I guess those samples must have contained more melamine than the FDA (now) says it's A-OK for us to eat. Gee, if only some way, somehow, the FDA could have had some kind of heads up on this whole melamine issue before it hit our food supply.

Thanks for the stuffed bear but as for the chocolate, make mine Labrador please.

Pet Food Ingredient Breakdown - #3

A premium line of dog foods recently reformulated their products and, call me Suspicious Sally, but I know the country is facing an economic crunch and I wondered how the new ingredients would stand up to scrutiny. Here are the first ingredients listed in one of the new formulas:

Beef, brewers rice, whole grain wheat, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal, animal fat, whole grain corn, soy flour, soybean meal, dried beet pulp, fish meal, animal digest, glycerin

Beef - OK. Ideally this would be USDA inspected beef muscle meat, obtained from local, humane, sustainable farming methods - not feedlot misery. But yeah, I know I'm dreaming.

Brewer's Rice - Alcohol industry waste product which, if not bought by pet food companies, would otherwise end up in the trash bin. AAFCO allows this ingredient to contain "spent hops in an amount not to exceed 3 percent." Spent hops, when ingested by dogs, can be fatal.

Whole Grain Wheat - OK for some dogs but it is a common allergen

Corn Gluten Meal: Waste product from facilities manufacturing corn syrup, used in the extrusion process to bind kibble. Corn gluten is one of many known contaminated pet food ingredients to have poisoned pets in the past.

Poultry By-Product Meal: The bits that people won't eat (such as heads, intestines, and feet) but from what kind of poultry - anyone know? Does the manufacturer know? Apparently not.

Animal Fat - AAFCO describes this as fat from mammals and/or poultry. Dang, how would YOU like to have a dinner made from "mammals". Kinda horror flick like.

Whole Grain Corn - indigestible by dogs, another common allergen

Soy Flour and Soybean Meal - Soy is a common allergen in dogs. The flour is presumably used as a binding agent, while soybean meal is simply waste product of the soybean oil extraction process.

Dried Beet Pulp - Dried residue from sugar beets which is yet another ingredient used in pet foods which would otherwise be sent to the landfill. Pet food companies use it because it binds the stool and apparently as owners, we are so excited to see firm stool that we don't care if it's the result of some junk ingredient added to the food as opposed to an accurate reflection of good nutrition and healthy digestion. Gosh, we're dumb.

Fish Meal - What kind of fish is "Fish"? In order to comply with US Coast Guard regulations, all fish meal must be preserved with ethoxyquin. The pet food manufacturer need not list the ethoxyquin as an ingredient since they didn't add it themselves.

Animal Digest - Ick.

Glycerin - a waste product of the bio-fuel industry


Overall product ingredients review: *sounds buzzer* It looks like this company has cut corners even further in order to try and maintain profitability during the economic crisis. Too bad for the dogs who rely on this food as their main source of nourishment. To my mind, a diet of healthy table scraps would be far superior.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Kibbles n' Kitties

Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins reminds us of what types of foods cats should and should not be fed:

Diabetes in the cat is a man-made disease, which is completely preventable by avoiding the "kitty junk-food" that is dry kibbled cat food. Without question, it is the continuous, day-in, day-out consumption of this poor-quality, highly processed, carbohydrate rich "breakfast cereal for cats" that causes so many felines to become diabetic.

Many cats also become obese from such a terrible diet, but obesity does not cause diabetes, as some experts would have cat owners think. Rather, obesity and diabetes simply have the same cause, non-nutritious, high carbohydrate commercial cat food. To prevent both obesity and diabetes, we need only avoid such junk food when we feed our cats. Instead, we must feed the cat what it evolved to eat: meat. Fortunately, there are many canned and pouched cat foods, as well as many recipes for raw meat diets, that provide good quality nutrition of the obligatory carnivore that is the cat.

In other words, high-carb dry cat food OUT, low-carb canned/pouched or home prepared diets consisting primarily of meat IN. A couple sample recipes for home prepared raw cat food can be found here.

Also, a good reminder not to kill your cat while attempting to get him to switch foods which, being a cat, he may resist:
Letting a cat go without food is dangerous.

When cats don't eat, the fat in their bodies may start to accumulate in their liver. This is called feline hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver syndrome. Left untreated, the condition can be fatal.

Cats tolerate change poorly, which means stress and anxiety alone can trigger the onset of this problem. Household changes such as the absence of an owner or a move – or something as simple as a switch in food – can put a cat off.

Once the problem has developed, coaxing the ill cat to eat may not be simple. Fatty liver syndrome can lead to nausea and vomiting. Removing the stress may be too little, too late. Veterinary intervention is required.


So don't try to out-stubborn your kitty and figure he'll eat the new food when he gets hungry enough.

News Tidbit: A cat owner in Toronto started making her own cat food after the Menu recall in March 2007. Finding the results worthwhile but the task time consuming, she partnered with a personal chef! They now offer personal chef service for dogs and cats - oh and humans too.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Justice for Murphy

While Murphy, beaten with a sledgehammer and left for dead in an Atlanta park, receives treatment at a local vet clinic, authorities have made rapid progress on his case:

DeKalb police Wednesday charged a 48-year-old man with the sledgehammer beating of a dog in a county park.

Joseph Waters was charged with a felony count of animal cruelty, said county police spokeswoman Keisha Williams.

[...]

Investigators are looking for anyone who saw anything unusual at the park from 9 p.m. Monday to 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Witnesses may call 404-294-2818.

I hope that prosecutors will take this case seriously and, if the suspect is found guilty, punish him to the fullest extent of the law.

Donations for Murphy's care can be made at any Wachovia bank in the US under the "Murphy the Dog" account.

Will update this post with additional info as I come across it.

UPDATE, 12-4-08: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports today that Murphy is able to walk, which is great news. They also describe him as being 9 years old. I have a soft spot for the old dogs. I hope that however long Murphy has left in this life, he's just crazy-happy and surrounded by love.

UPDATED: Atlanta Authorities Seek Tips in Cruelty Case

A man walking his dogs in Murphy Candler Park in Atlanta, GA came across a dog that had been beaten with a hammer and left for dead:

Robert Kennedy found Murphy while walking his own dogs in the park.


He told Channel 2 Action News that the dog was wrapped in a blanket, but not far away was a hammer with blood on the handle.

"Whoever did this to a dog is just awful," Kennedy said.

The dog did not have a collar or a microchip. So the doctors at VCA Pets are People Too, an animal hospital about a mile from the park, named him Murphy for the park where he was found.

The hospital's Dr. Stephen Pope said Murphy has a fractured skull and will likely lose his left eye, but he is hopeful about his recovery. Provided Murphy is stable, he hopes to operate Wednesday.

If you have any information about Murphy, please contact Dekalb County Animal Control at 404-294-2996. Paws up to all the good samaritans helping to save this poor dog.

UPDATE: I got in touch with the good people at the vet clinic caring for this dog and they said the gentleman who found him has set up a fund for his care at Wachovia. Donations can be made at any Wachovia bank in the US, just specify the account: Murphy The Dog.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thoughts on the Houston Pitbull Killings

Harris County TX prosecutors are hoping to find more Pitbulls to kill. Cos 187 just ain't enough apparently. The plan:
...[A]uthorities will band together in January to launch a Crime Stoppers campaign cracking down on dogfighting.

The monthlong initiative — patterned after a similar effort in Chicago — will encourage callers to anonymously report illegal dogfighting to the Crime Stoppers tip line and will deploy a task force to investigate all leads. Crime Stoppers also will spotlight the crime on billboards across the county.

Great! What could possibly go wrong? Well for starters, authorities might kill every dog they "rescue" from any fighting operations. I am absolutely all for busting scumbag dogfighters and the freaks who like to watch. But as for killing every single dog "saved" without an individual evaluation by a qualified canine professional - not so much. Every dog deserves a fair evaluation.

And what about false tips they receive in the course of the investigation? Responsible Pitbull owners not involved in dogfighting may be targeted by neighbors who only know what Harris County and the Houston SPCA have taught the public about Pitbulls - that they are all evil and must be killed. What if those dogs get seized during the course of the investigation? Will they too be immediately killed without evaluation before any determination of guilt or innocence can be made in the case against their owners?

Which brings me back to the 187 Pitbulls killed by Harris County. The wheels of justice turn slowly. Have ANY of these suspects been convicted of a dogfighting crime yet? Cos I can't find any reports indicating they have nor can I imagine all 50 suspects having already had their day in court. Again, let me reiterate, if these people are found guilty of dogfighting, animal cruelty or anything in those realms, I absolutely agree their dogs should be confiscated by the authorities. In the meantime, the dogs should be cared for, individually evaluated and held until either the owners have been to trial, the owner signs the dogs over to authorities, and/or a judge issues an order releasing the dogs. At that point, the dogs belonging to anyone found 'not guilty' would be returned to their owners and the others would be released to rescue groups so the dogs can be rehomed.

I appreciate that when you get any large group of dogs in for evaluations, there may be some determined to be too aggressive to be handled. In the Michael Vick case, evaluations determined 1 dog out of the 50 seized had to be euthanized due to aggression. I am not advocating for every single shelter dog in the country to be adopted out. But every dog deserves a fair evaluation.

I further understand that even a normal, friendly Pitbull might have to be euthanized in a dogfighting case as this Vet points out:
"These animals really get chewed up and suffer greatly," Harkness said. "This is a point where death can be a gift."

I agree. If a Veterinarian determines the dog's case is medically hopeless and that dog is suffering, that's what euthanasia is for - to hasten the inevitable so as to avoid prolonged pain and misery for the animal. But that's not what anyone has said regarding the 187 dogs seized in the Houston case. They were killed due to "aggression" with no information provided on the individual evaluations each dog should have received. What are the odds of a group of 187 dogs each scoring an identical result on their evaluations - that is, too aggressive to be handled/recommended for euthanasia? I'd say it would be about impossible for all 187 dogs to receive the same exact determination. In fact, I am suspicious that evaluations were never performed at all, despite the reporting earlier in the case. If that is the case, then 187 dogs were senselessly killed without reason by those who "rescued" them. How is that significantly better than the situation the dogs were saved from?

I'm not asking for a blanket pass for any breed or any case. All I'm asking for on behalf of rescued dogs in shelters is a chance. Let's not pre-judge them because of who abused them or what they look like. Let's take each case, one by one, and judge the dog on his own merits. Is that too much to ask? Every dog deserves a fair evaluation.

Action: Contact the Houston SPCA and let them know, politely and respectfully, that the next group of dogs seized in a dogfighting bust deserves more than automatic death. If they need assistance, tell them to ask for it. The dog community rallies for causes every day. But we can never support senseless killing - not now, not ever. We are a no-kill nation. I hope the Houston SPCA and Harris County authorities will join us.

187 "Rescued" Dogs Killed in Houston

I am deeply saddened and disappointed to learn that all 187 dogs saved from the Houston dogfighting ring have been killed by their "rescuers". BAD RAP tells it like it is:
They did it. They went for the easy out: The most convenient, economical way to deal with an unwanted excess of abuse victims.

Thank goodness they don't "help" battered women, I guess. Read the entire post.

Info on Seized Dogs in Houston Still Sketchy - UPDATED

What has happened to the 187 Pitbulls and mixes seized in the Houston dogfighting ring case?  Does anyone know if the individual evaluations have begun?  Or if the reporting that the courts are to decide the disposition of the dogs is accurate?  If so, presumably the courts will need to review the temperament test results on each dog in order to help make a ruling.

I sent an inquiry to the Houston SPCA spokesman in order to try and clarify what appear to be conflicting internet reports on what is happening with the dogs.  I received two responses this morning but neither contained any info about the dogs.  It would be good to set the record straight and not let internet rumors run amok.  I'm sure everyone would be in agreement on that point.  Another point of agreement:  It's wonderful that these dogs were rescued from their abusers.  Hopefully now, they can go on to live the lives they were meant for - as man's best friend and family companion.  

So... anyone have any "on the record" information regarding these dogs? 

Every dog deserves a fair evaluation.

Added:  I also have a couple e-mails in to Houston newspapers requesting an update on the dogs.  Maybe they will have better luck on pinning down the status of the dogs.

UPDATE:  Harris Co Asst. DA Smith is quoted today in the Houston Chronicle as saying all 187 dogs were killed:

All 187 dogs seized in the large bust that led to the mass indictments last month, Smith said, were euthanized because of their aggression — an all-too-common end to a life of suffering.

It's hard for me to imagine how a canine behaviorist or other qualified individual came up with KILL as the bottom line finding on all 187 evaluations.  I have to wonder if the evaluations were performed by a knowledgeable, independent dog person.  Or were they performed at all?

This will not be my last post on this case.

Every dog deserves a fair evaluation.

 

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ultimate Smackdown Cage Match: FDA vs. Yellow-Bellies


Never fear: the FDA SWAT team is on da job. That's right, just when you were worried that eggs, baby formula, and other milk products were contaminated with the same toxins which killed thousands of pets in 2007, the FDA swoops in to save us all from the menace of [insert JAWS theme here] PET TURTLES:

On March 3, 2008, Strictly Reptiles Inc., a wildlife dealer in Hollywood, Fla., sold 1,000 baby yellow-bellied sliders and Mississippi map turtles to a souvenir shop in Panama City, Fla. The sale violated a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban on small pet turtles designed to protect the public from the disease-causing bacteria Salmonella. Turtles often carry Salmonella on their outer skin and shell surfaces, and people can get Salmonella infection by coming in contact with turtles or their habitats.

On July 14, 2008, the U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale convicted and sentenced Strictly Reptiles for its role in illegally selling, and offering for sale, live undersized turtles. The Florida District of FDA's law enforcement arm, the Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigated the case leading to the conviction, with help from FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.

OK well I guess the melamine contamination is not such a worry after all. In fact, the FDA has flip-flopped on the whole melamine safety issue. When we learned about the toxin being in pet food last year, the FDA said it had "no approved use in human or animal food in the United States" and there was no safe level of melamine in foods. I'm a layman but this made sense to me since melamine is the material they use to make things like dinnerware and the Magic Eraser. But after discovering melamine and cyanuric acid in human foods this Fall, the FDA created a safety level for the poisons, except for baby milk. Now in an Olympic medal worthy double flip-flop, the FDA has determined safe levels of melamine and cyanuric acid for baby formula. I'll have one Magic Eraser on an edible melamine plate TO GO and give me a kiddie meal of cyanuric acid on the side please.

But regarding the super-dee-duper dangerous pet turtles, the FDA really had to take a stand. Some things are too important to let slide (little turtle pun there - you're welcome). See, the FDA warns us:

Small pet turtles are of particular concern because children are more prone to handling the turtles without washing their hands afterwards, and even putting the turtles in their mouths.

OK I admit I didn't have a pet turtle as a kid. So perhaps it's not surprising to learn that I never put one in my mouth. I do remember having a mouse and surely at some point I put him in my mouth but apparently that memory has been blocked. But one thing I do recall trying is dog food. In fact, I think I tried it because all the other kids I knew had tried it and I didn't want to lose my status in the Nerd Society. Maybe you or your kid has put dog biscuits or cat food or dog kibble in their mouths too. Well I'm afraid I've got some bad news, May 2008:
A salmonella outbreak that swept 19 U.S. states in late 2006 has been a mystery, until now.
Nearly 200 consumers were sickened by what investigators believed to be tainted tomatoes, or other produce.

But now, the Centers for Disease Control says the apparent source of the 2006 salmonella outbreak was tainted dog food.

More bad news, September 2008:

[P]et food is being voluntarily recalled because of potential contamination with Salmonella serotypeSchwarzengrund.
[...]
Salmonella can cause serious infections in dogs and cats, and, if there is cross contamination caused by handling of the pet food, in people as well, especially children, the aged, and people with compromised immune systems.

Still more bad news, October 2008:

The Hartz Mountain Corporation is recalling one lot of its chicken-basted rawhide chips because of possible Salmonella contamination.
Even more-more bad news, November 2008:

Mars Petcare US is extending a recall of dry pet food after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported finding Salmonella in additional samples of the company's SPECIAL KITTY Gourmet Blend cat food.

The earlier recall, issued October 27, was for cat food produced at Mars' Allenton, Pa., plant on August 11, 2008. The recall is now being extended to cover all dry pet food produced at the plant with a "best by" date between August 11, 2009 and October 3, 2009.

Holy Bad Bacteria Batman - this is starting to look like a pattern! The FDA SWAT team response to all these Salmonella pet food issues? *crickets*

But before we judge the FDA too harshly for apparently protecting big business over American citizens, let us not forget their swift and decisive take down action on the pet turtle threat. I think we'll all sleep a little better knowing that there are some safety issues that really bring the FDA out of their shells. (You're welcome, redux.)

Saving Fight Dogs - It's Not Just for Celebrity Cases

Every Dog Deserves a Fair Evaluation. Does this include dogs seized in abuse and dogfighting cases? Most definitely because in those cases, it's the humans who are the criminals, not the dogs. And what do the humans get - a fair evaluation (trial by jury of their peers) to determine whether they should be rehabilitated (such as in a prison drug program) or just returned to function as a member of our society (if found 'not guilty' of the charges brought against them).

The dogs are the crime victims. They have been physically and emotionally abused, forced to fight in order to stay alive. Seized dogs from these cases are at least entitled to a fair evaluation (a behavioral eval performed by a knowledgeable and independent trainer) to determine whether they require rehabilitation (such as carefully conducted socialization exercises) or can just return to function as a member of our society (if the eval determines the dog needs no more than the basic training required by typical rescue dogs in shelters). If the latter, the dog must be appropriately matched to an owner who can develop a successful relationship with the animal just like every other shelter dog.

In following the story of the 187 Pitbulls and mixes seized in the Houston dogfighting case this month, I came across this piece at the Pet Connection. Many of the seized dogs are apparently being held by the Houston SPCA. The group's PR manager told a Houston newspaper:
...the dogs would be put through rehabilitation tests and the courts will decide what should be done with them.

[ Note:  Due to a formatting problem, the link will not post for the above quote.  It can be found here:  http://hcnonline.com/articles/2008/11/22/north_channel_sentinel/news/112008_nc_dog_fighting.txt ]

But this same spokesman is quoted just a short time later telling a Houston blog:
“These animals are bred from a long line of fighting dogs to be aggressive,” Houston SPCA spokeswoman Meera Nandlal told Hair Balls this morning. “We have made the decision that they will be humanely euthanized.”

Was the spokesman misquoted in one of the stories? Because the two definitely don't make sense together. Presumably the Texas courts are not run by the Houston SPCA who apparently has a policy against adopting out Pitbulls.

Perhaps the Houston SPCA hasn't heard but rescue groups like BADRAP and Best Friends have had great success with the dogs seized in the Michael Vick abuse/dogfighting case. Why couldn't a similar plan be implemented for the Houston dogs? I know it's not a sexy celeb case but don't these abused dogs deserve at least the same opportunity as Vick's abused dogs? Don't all seized dogs deserve a chance? I'm not advocating for some irresponsible set-them-free-they-are-all-great-and-don't-need-evaluations hare-brained scheme. All I'm saying is, let's build upon the success of the experience with the Vick dogs - not go backwards. Let's dump old-think policies that say all dogs who look like X or who were seized in cases involving Y must be killed. We are a no-kill nation, even if some of the supposed "rescuers" in the dog world haven't caught up with the times. Let's walk the walk.

Here is my challenge to my fellow dog bloggers. Let's shine a light on the Houston case - and keep it there until we hear some definitive answers. Let's make this case a celebrity case. And readers, there's work for you too. Let's contact the Houston SPCA and let them know politely and respectfully that Every Dog Deserves a Fair Evaluation. Remind them of the success of the Vick dogs (including Leo, now a therapy dog) and let them know the dog community and their donors are watching this case. And contact the Houston media (HCNonline here) to ask for continued coverage of the case, specifically what is happening to the 187 rescued dogs.

Let's be a voice for the Houston dogs. Every Dog Deserves a Fair Evaluation.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Orijen Dry Cat Food Problems in Australia: Answers

Champion Pet Foods, makers of Orijen, have posted a pdf explaining why the Australian cats developed neurological problems and some had to be euthanized as a result. In a nutshell, Australia required Orijen cat food to be irradiated at a very high level which knocked out the food's Vitamin A and caused the fatty acids to oxidize. The Orijen dog food coming into Australia is also irradiated but no dogs have been reported ill by their owners. Champion explains:
[C]ats require higher levels of vitamins than dogs (AAFCO 2008), and cats are highly
sensitive to changes in vitamins or oxidative by-products (such as occur from irradiation).
As a result, Orijen will no longer be shipped - cat or dog (since it's possible cats could eat the dog food) - to Australia.

I think this a good response from a pet food company faced with a recall in which pets, in this case cats, became ill and died as a result of eating the company's product. Imagine if other pet food manufacturers handled past, present and future problems reported with their foods in this same manner. Yeah, I'm looking at YOU Menu Foods and Nutro. ahem.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Orijen Dry Cat Food Linked to Illness/Death in Australia

A number of cats in Australia have become ill and some have died. Orijen brand cat food is apparently the only thing these cats have in common:
A cat neurologist, Georgina Child, has put down five cats over the past week and treated or consulted with other vets about more than a dozen others suffering from paralysis.
[...]
First symptoms included wobbliness or weakness in the animal's hind legs, which could then progress to the front limbs. The condition did not appear to be infectious, Dr Child said, nor typical of a nutritional deficiency.
I hope they are able to determine the cause definitively and I'll post more information as I come across it.

Michael Vick: Morally Bankrupt

According to a newly released USDA report on the Michael Vick case, a witness told investigators that Vick put family pets (the article does not indicate how the pets were obtained) in the ring with Pit Bulls trained to fight. Of course the pets were severely injured or killed but Vick "thought it was funny to watch" according to the witness. The report also reveals how Vick lied to investigators during a polygraph test, denying he had killed "underperforming dogs". (Those would be normal, friendly Pit Bulls who suffered abuse but did not change their true nature, even to save their own lives.):
The dogs were killed by shooting, hanging, electrocution and drowning, and in at least one instance, according to one of the witnesses, when Vick and Phillips killed a red pit bull by “slamming it to the ground several times before it died, breaking the dog’s back or neck.”

Vick is due to be released from federal prison in eight months. He is currently in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings, claiming assets of $16 million and debts of $20.4 million. Court records indicate lavish homes, vehicles and other spending by Vick for himself, his family members and friends. Among Vick's assets:
His real estate holdings include the homes in Suffolk and Hampton in Virginia where his mother and fiancee live, respectively, and vacant houses in Williamsburg and Duluth, Ga. Construction continues on a $2 million home in Suffolk where he and his fiancee plan to eventually live. [emphasis added]

Now don't get me wrong. I am all for paying one's debt to society and starting over with a clean slate. But can we inject a little bit of reality into this situation? Is it necessary for Vick and fiancee to build their own $2 million home? Could they possibly manage to live in a home someone else built, perhaps valued at something less than $2 million? I know nothing of the fiancee but Vick at least appears to be employable. In fact, he may get another job in professional football, although I hope not. But assuming he gets some job, why can't they plan to budget, repay debts, scrimp and save for the future, a little at a time? Vick claims to owe 20% more money than he has. Newsflash: There are many Americans in this same (or worse) situation. They are struggling to make ends meet, sometimes relying on help from family and friends. Couldn't Vick's family and friends downgrade their lavish cars, boats and homes in order to help Vick repay his debts? I'm not saying the guy has to live in substandard housing with no health insurance, eating Top Ramen. Although a lot of guys getting out of prison do just that. For that matter, a lot of Americans, guilty of no crimes, live like that. All I'm saying is that Vick's bankruptcy filing stinks to me. And yeah, maybe I'm influenced by images of Vick laughing while family pets are torn apart by his abused Pit Bulls. And maybe I'm not thinking as kindly of him as I might otherwise because I can't help picturing him torturing "underperforming dogs" to death. And maybe I'm wincing at the idea that Vick will probably be working in the NFL again soon, raking in the dough, driving his flashy cars and living in his $2 million dollar home while the dogs he killed rot in a landfill somewhere, their bones being a last testament to the fate Vick handed down to man's best friend.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Treats on the Internets

The FDA says people are getting scammed by callers identifying themselves as FDA agents. Can you imagine the poor sod who calls my number? Before he got a chance to try the extortion scam, I would have given him such an earful about food safety and the pharmaceutical companies' stranglehold on health, he'd be admitting he wasn't with the FDA at all and I'd probably think he was just trying to get off the hook. [Note: FDA officials - call me!]

In the UK, Catherine O'Driscoll calls out the pet food companies for their part in contributing to unhealthy pets. And I just like the title: Own a Fat Dog, Go Straight to Jail

A very cute dog gets some basic training at Life on the Leash

In Clover, South Carolina, the town council is considering a vicious dog ordinance and some are questioning the need to name specific breeds, such as pitbulls:
In a memo to council, Town Administrator Allison Harvey said she couldn't find any research proving that breed-specific legislation is successful.

Right. So why are we considering it again?

Susan Thixton asks: Is it ethical for Vets to recommend pet food?

Market Watch has a piece on how one pet food company has taken heed of consumers' desire for COOL on pet foods. Sounds good. Let's hope it's the beginning of a trend.

Don't It Make My Black Coat Blue?


I notice in the Fall and Winter, certain light makes the black dogs look almost blue in photos. OK yeah, just an excuse for me to show off a couple of my pesty pets: Randi, age 6 and Patty, age 2.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two More Reports of Police Killing Family Dogs

In Pennsylvania:
“There is no misunderstanding,” said Mangan. “He shot my dog maliciously."

Mangan said the deputy's story that Lincoln tried to attack him doesn't add up.

"The leash doesn't go past where he shot him at. He can't go any farther; he was in his own back yard, secure, on a leash," said Mangan.

The deputy said he couldn’t see the leash. [emphasis added]

Allegheny County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Joseph Rizzo said in a statement, "If, in any event, a Sheriff’s deputy goes to a house and there is an aggressive animal, they make every effort to get out of harms way. If a dog is going to attack the deputy, they have no recourse."

No recourse except maybe to outfit the officer with a pair of glasses. This story reads like perhaps the officer was too quick to shoot. I guess we'll know for sure when the police get done investigating themselves and determine if they acted appropriately. Stay tuned.


In Illinois:

Officer guns down family dog

Park Forest police chief says detective had no choice


There are many things a 10-year-old boy should not see. Police officers gunning down the family dog during a burglary investigation is one of them.

No kidding. These officers are not equipped with any means of fending off a dog other than a revolver? No pepper spray even? That sounds irresponsibly dangerous.

I want to support our public servants as much as anyone but honestly, when some officers conduct themselves in this Wild West manner, it's hard to stand by those kinds of actions. And although I haven't read about it happening yet (and I hope I never do), it certainly seems possible that one day, an officer might shoot the beloved companion of someone who is also a gun owner, quick to shoot, and in need of glasses. Or maybe a stray bullet from an officer's gun will miss the dog and hit a kid. I don't know but the police are contributing to a reckless environment when their position on dogs seems to be shoot first.

Monday, November 17, 2008

This is That Time of the Year

"The Holidays" are an annual excuse for all sorts of pet advice in the media. There are common sense suggestions, such as being watchful that pets don't slip out the front door amidst all the comings and goings of holiday guests, as well as good advice on preventing dogs from eating anything toxic, such as chocolate. But then you get your old "No table scraps" warnings which can range from the overly cautious (as in: your dog might get sick if he is fed leftovers from the plates of 27 Thanksgiving dinner guests - true, but does this really require a warning beyond "Duh"?) to the outright chortle worthy (as in: if you feed your dog anything more than a morsel of turkey, you'll soon find him writhing in pain from abdominal cramping while vomiting and having diarrhea - whoa, really?).

Let's get a few things straight. Healthy table scraps are good for your dog. As in all things, one must employ the higher brain functions:

  • Do not feed excessive amounts of any foods (general guide - if the amount of table scraps in the dog bowl is more than the amount of food normally in the dog bowl, das too much)

  • If you know your dog has a sensitive stomach, don't introduce a bowl full of new foods all at once. On the other hand, if your dogs are like mine and could eat their way through a landfill with tails-a-waggin', don't be afraid to offer a variety of healthy leftovers.

  • Use caution with bones - if your dog is not accustomed to eating bones, don't feed bones on a whim "because it's a holiday" - do your research, form an educated opinion and make an informed decision.

But EVERYBODY says table scraps are bad. OK then, what is "good" - dog food? Well guess what - dog food is made up of the scraps leftover from the human food industry. These are not your healthy table scraps, more like bits and bobs humans won't eat because they are undigestible, untested, unsafe, unknown, and/or un-whatever. If you picture a turkey processing plant, you can imagine what gets tossed aside because it can't be sold to people. That stuff gets bought by pet food companies and put into your dog's kibble. I'm still not sure how feeding your dog these turkey throw away bits as an ingredient in kibble is A-OK but feeding him wholesome leftover turkey from your plate will send him into convulsions. Help me higher brain functions!

Anyway, if you decide to feed your dog healthy table scraps at the holidays, and he likes it, and you like it, maybe you don't have to wait for another holiday to try it again. At our house, healthy table scraps are part of the daily dog diet and have been for many years. Every day is a holiday!

***


Graham offers her ideal table scraps dinner (actually her "ideal" involves a bottomless bowl built into her dog bed but this is a reasonable compromise):

1/3 protein - meat (including organ meat), fish, eggs, plain yogurt
1/3 veggies - broccoli, green beans, and sweet potatoes are some of her faves
1/3 starch - rice, oatmeal, potatoes

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friends of the Blog - Pet Photos






Because I never get tired of looking at pet pictures, and because I assume everyone else is exactly like me (Note: if this is not true, please do NOT e-mail me to advise, just let me continue being happy), I'm posting some photos from friends of the blog. Please feel welcome to send in your photos for future inclusion, since we all love it so much.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Usual(ly Ignored) Suspects

Let's say you wanted to smuggle something rilly illegal - say assault weapons with silencers - into a war zone - say Iraq. You come up with a plan to stash the weapons on pallets, surrounded by something legal, then shrink-wrap the whole deal. You know you'd have to get past US Customs and obviously, if they look at your pallets and suspect anything, all they have to do is slice the shrink-wrap, dig in and you're toast.

So the thing that you surround the weapons with - it's got to be some item that US Customs would never in a kajillion years care about inspecting. Hmm, what could that be - cases of bar soap maybe? No what if they think it's special soap for washing criminal behavior offa ya - they might check. How about crates full of hula girl bobbleheads? No the Customs agents might go catatonic, succumbing to the bobblehead trance and you couldn't get around their googly-eyed, frozen bodies. Got it: bags of dog food! US Customs will absitively posolutely not be inspecting those. That's just food for dogs, made from leftovers from the human food industry - no worries there. What possible need could there be to inspect dog food? And you know the US track record on inspecting dog food - as in, FAIL.

From ABC News:

Two other former [Blackwater] employees tell ABCNews.com they also witnessed the dog food smuggling operation. They say the weapons were actually hidden inside large sacks of dog food, packaged at company headquarters in North Carolina and sent to Iraq for the company's 20 bomb-sniffing dogs.


[Note: So did the bomb sniffing dogs actually get anything to eat after all?]

Larger items, including M-4 assault weapons, were secreted on shipping pallets surrounded by stacks of dog food bags, the former employees said. The entire pallet would be wrapped in cellophane shrink wrap, the former employees said, making it less likely US Customs inspectors would look too closely.

Last year, a US Department of Commerce inspector at JFK airport in New York discovered an unlicensed two-way radio hidden in a dog food sack being shipped by Blackwater to Iraq, according to people familiar with the incident.


A federal grand jury in North Carolina is looking into the matter.

FDA Blocks Chinese Milk Products

Finally, some action from the FDA regarding the Chinese mela-milk scandal:

The agency, in an alert posted Wednesday on its Web site, ordered the "detention without physical examination of all milk products, milk-derived ingredients and finished food products containing milk from China due to the presence of melamine and/or melamine analogs."

The agency listed dozens of products, including cereals, snack foods, cheese, ice cream, carbonated drinks, candy, puddings and pet foods as potentially contaminated with melamine, which is used in the manufacture of plastics and fertilizer.


I wonder how many people and pets have been consuming melamine tainted foods while the FDA dragged its heels. I also wonder if the practice of increasing profits by poisoning foods is isolated to the Chinese and melamine. Seems unlikely to me but since the FDA only conducts food safety testing on a tiny fraction of imports, I guess we won't find out until some other large group of people and/or pets get sick/die from eating toxic "food".

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nationwide Recall Of Infants' Mylicon Drops

I know I keep a supply of this product on hand for litters and other breeders do too. Here is what the FDA says:
Johnson & Johnson • Merck Consumer Pharmaceuticals Company (JJMCP) is voluntarily recalling approximately 12,000 units of Infants' MYLICON® GAS RELIEF DYE FREE drops (simethicone-antigas) non-staining sold in 1 oz. plastic bottles that were distributed after October 5, 2008 nationwide. The company is taking this action in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although the potential for serious medical events is low, the company is implementing this recall to the consumer level as a precaution after determining that some bottles could include metal fragments that were generated during the manufacturing process.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Kibble Suggestions?


As you might guess, I'm in the market for suggestions on a kibble I can use as a supplement to my home prepared food for the dogs. I would like a food produced by a company who provides specifics on where their food is made, what country they buy their ingredients from and doesn't try to hide behind the old "proprietary information" excuse. As far as I'm concerned, if they won't tell, I won't buy. I would like a food tested in feed trials, not tested by chemical analysis. The proof is in the dog, not in the test tube. Ideally, I'd like the first ingredient to be a specific type of meat (chicken, beef, etc.) and any subsequent meat ingredients to be actual meat (not meal). But I know I may not find this food.

Here's what I don't want: garbage ingredients such as unspecified "meat" or "meat meal", brewer's rice, corn gluten meal, by-products, animal digest, beet pulp, etc. I also don't want a food manufactured by Menu Foods. Menu lied while pets died during the 2007 recalls. My memory is long. Also it would be nice to find a food without mystery bits in it.

Again, I know I may not find this food (except possibly in Imagination Land.) But suggestions are welcome and appreciated - and I should say straight off that I'm feeding six dogs and not wealthy, which narrows the possibilities even further, I know.

And now for something completely different: My new neighbors have six Pitbulls (a couple are leftover pups from a recent litter apparently) and now a Chihuahua puppy. The highlight of my dog walk this afternoon was when one of the Pitbull pups came up to the fence for some lovin' and my dogs did not notice for like 2 minutes. I got in 120 undisturbed seconds of sweet Pitbull love. He was soooooooooooo cute. I want him! You see how I get into trouble? (Photo is just a sample cute Pitbull pup, not actual cute Pitbull pup.) Tomorrow we go to the no-kill shelter to drop off a bin of food so we might get even more Pitbull hugs and kisses - weeeeeeee! O yeah and the Chihuahua hopped right through the hog fencing to our yard and walked around sniffing my bitches like he owned the place with all my big dogs barking up a storm right in his face. Typical!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

You Must Be Joking: Chafing at the Chaff

OK, as you might recall, I have been unlucky with my recent kibble purchases - finding thingies in two different brands. And as I said, I don't buy kibble that often so two bags of kibbles-n-mystery-bits in a row seems odd to me. Yesterday, with some hesitation, I purchased a bag of Natural Balance Sweet Potato and Fish. Have you guessed yet? Bits. Again.







Honestly, I don't even know if I'm going to bother with contacting the manufacturer this time. The first bag, I contacted the manufacturer, they tested the food and basically said everything was A-OK, it was just grain chaff. Well that may be perfectly fine to them but I was not so excited to learn I was feeding my dogs chaff. Second bag, the manufacturer apparently didn't care about the info and didn't even want to see my photos or get a sample of the food. This third bag, I'm thinking if I contact them, I may be at risk of earning a reputation as one of those wacky people who make a living "falling down" in Wal-Marts and on slippery sidewalks in front of large hotels. I'm not planning on bringing any lawsuits. I would just like to know the honest answers to a few simple questions:

1. Is this just some type of coincidence or is this a symptom of a trend among pet food manufacturers? IOW, times are tough, ingredients are expensive and corners must be cut to maintain profits - thus, pet food manufacturers are bulking up their feeds with grain chaff.

2. Are these three manufacturers buying "ingredients" (if you consider grain stalks an ingredient) from the same source and thus the reason for the un-ground bits appearing in all three kibbles? Or is there some other explanation?

3. Since chaff is not specifically listed as an ingredient on any of these bags of food, are there any other ingredients the manufacturers would like to specify which perhaps they feel are covered under some other ingredient listing at present? Perhaps "chicken" is intended to include "feathers" or something like that, I don't know. But I'd like to know what exactly it is I'm paying for and feeding to my dogs. Is that too much to ask?