Saturday, January 31, 2009

Action Alerts for Seized Dogs in Wilkes County

The owner of the 127 Pitbulls seized in Wilkes County, NC in December did not meet a January 15 deadline to pay a $53,000 ransom boarding fee imposed by authorities and therefore forfeited rights to his dogs. Wait, there's more:

There are more than 127 dogs now, because several of the dogs have had litters. The dogs are being held at undisclosed locations because authorities say they are valuable evidence in a criminal investigation.

If the dogs' owner is found guilty, the dogs that were seized will be euthanized, county officials said. County officials said they have never had puppies born to dogs that were seized. They will ask for a court ruling on the disposition of the puppies and the other dogs.


Even if Faron [the owner] is acquitted, the dogs would still belong to the county if he doesn't meet the deadline.

Nice little scheme you're running there Wilkes County. Did ya think that up all by yourself?

The raid capped a three-year investigation by the Humane Society of the United States, in cooperation with Wilkes County authorities.

Oh. I see. So I suppose the HSUS will be providing some sort of guidance on what to do with these dogs?

John Goodwin, the manager of animal-fighting issues for the Humane Society of the United States, said yesterday that he couldn't recall a case in which puppies were born to dogs after the dogs were seized. Still, he said, such puppies would probably be euthanized if the owner is convicted of dog fighting.

"It's kind of tough with the puppies, because the characteristics that the dog fighters want are selected for by breeding," he said.

He said that the Humane Society uses an expert who could evaluate the dogs and puppies if the county decides to have them evaluated.

Gee, thanks HSUS. From your previous record on Pitbull killing rescuing and the statements you've made regarding this case, I think we can kinda guess how your "expert" would evaluate these dogs. I assume the methods employed would be similar to those used by the Houston SPCA. That is: kill secretly, kill quickly, keep asking the public for money to "help" pets.

There is one hope to save some of the dogs. Best Friends has reached out to Wilkes County authorities:
Ledy VanKavage, Best Friends Senior Legal Analyst, has been in touch with North Carolina County Attorney Tony Triplet and Animal Control Director, Junior Simmons, to offer help and discuss alternatives to euthanasia. Best Friends is willing to send a certified applied behaviorist out to evaluate the dogs and puppies. Of those who do well, Best Friends will fund their sterilization and transportation to responsible rescue groups.
They've also got an action item:
Please contact each of the following individuals and respectfully ask them to accept Best Friends' offer to arrange for behavior evaluations of the dogs, assistance with spay/neuter surgeries and placement of dogs that pass a stringent behavior evaluation.

Wilkes County Board of Commissioners
110 North Street
Wilksboro, NC 28697
Phone: 336-651-7346

Wilkes County Attorney Tony Triplett
Vannoy, Colvard, Triplett & Vannoy
922 C Street
P.O. Box 1388
North Wilkesboro, NC 28659
Phone: 336-667-7201
Fax: 336-838-7250

District Attorney Tom Horner
500 Courthouse Drive Suite 2022
Wilkesboro, NC 28697
Phone: 336-667-6361or 667-2994
If you are a Wilkes County resident, please attend the Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, February 3 at 5pm. Voice your concern, politely and respectfully, for the seized dogs and regarding the law requiring them to be killed. Remind the Board that every dog deserves a fair evaluation.

HSUS Continues Efforts to Eliminate Pets

Well, this sucks:
If you sell someone a puppy and for whatever reason that person is not happy with their new little fluffy bundle of joy, YOU can be turned in to the HSUS!!! Yes, folks, the HSUS has now appointed themselves "breeder watchdogs"...All a person has to do is download the 6 page form (count 'em **6** pages of forms), fill them out with their name and contact information and supply the BREEDER'S contact information, then submit copies of the packet (with all contracts, registration, medical records, etc) to the following:
Once this form is complete and additional documents have been attached make six copies of your packet. - Send one copy to Puppy Mills, The Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20037.
- Send one copy to the Department of Agriculture in the state in which the breeder does business.
- Send one copy each to the Attorney General of the state in which the breeder resides and to the Attorney General in your state.
- Save one copy and all originals for your records.
How is it that the HSUS keeps roping in unsuspecting donors, year after year, making out like they are the Upright Pet Loving Citizens Brigade? The HSUS actively works to get law enforcement involved in the private lives of Pitbull owners. The HSUS actively works to seize Pitbulls from dog owners they have accused of wrongdoing. The HSUS actively works to have these seized Pitbulls killed before the owner gets his day in court. And they use your donated money to do it.

Don't support the HSUS. Tell a friend.

Related HSUS shenanigans here.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dinner at Chez Dog

Billy cooked up some ground turkey for the dogs last night and put it in the fridge. This afternoon, I tossed some leftover veggies (carrots, radicchio and broccoli) in the food processor and cooked some rice. Since the turkey was cold, I put it in the bottom of the dog bowl. Then added the warm rice and spooned the grated veggies on top. So it looked like this:

Then I mixed everything up so all the food would be room temperature (see how s-m-r-t I am?). It looked like this:

The humans got to eat too and of course the dogs got leftover salmon and risotto afterward:

Graham got a PB jar for dessert:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Owner Suspects Tainted Peanut Butter Killed Dog

In addition to the human death toll in the current peanut butter recall, a dog owner in Atlanta who shares his food with his pets believes there may be a link between the Salmonella tainted peanut butter and his dog's sudden death:

Bert Kanist says his dog Ozzie became sick after eating two packages of Austin brand peanut butter crackers, two days before the snacks were recalled because of the salmonella outbreak.

Ozzie died the next day.

Naturally the owner has questions but in typical secretive corporate fashion, the companies involved with the product are not terribly interested in helping:

"All I get is the same runaround. 'We can't talk to you. We'll take your name number,' and they pass me another phone number," he complained. "All I want is a straight answer from somebody."


Monday, January 26, 2009

Delusional BSL Proposal in DC

D.C. Councilman Graham has a philosophy on legislation to ban Pitbulls:  Propose, FAIL, Repeat.  

“I’ve introduced the pit bull legislation every session, and I am continuing in that determined pattern,” he said. “In case you are thinking I am deluded, I also introduced the lead paint hazard bill every session, and it passed last December. Every dog has its day.”

Every dog except Pitbulls, if the Councilman has his way:

The pit bull measure bars the possession and sale of the breed in the District. It requires current owners to register their pets with animal control, sterilize the dogs and tag them for quick identification. Any pit bull that doesn’t meet those requirements must be impounded and euthanized.

Councilman Graham, did you ever consider that perhaps your proposal keeps failing because people understand that breed specific legislation doesn't work?  

Contact Mr. Graham and let him know, politely and respectfully, why you do not support his BSL proposal and what some alternatives might be to keeping people and dogs safe in the community:

Jim Graham - Councilmember (Ward 1) 
e-mail:  jgraham@dccouncil. us
Tel: (202) 724-8181 Fax: (202) 724-8109

The complete D.C. Council contact info is available as a pdf here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

SC Shelter in Need Gets Help from Near and Far

Hundreds of pounds of kibble and blankets were flown in to save the day for the Anderson County Animal Shelter in SC:

The food and blankets, airlifted in by volunteer pilots from as far away as Pennsylvania and brought in by concerned area residents from as far away as Greer, were the answer to a call for help from the Anderson County Animal Shelter.

According to shelter officials, the facility is housing between 400 and 500 animals, including more than double the usual number of dogs for this time of year.


“The response from Animal Rescue Flights and concerned citizens in and around Anderson has been completely overwhelming,” she [Michelle Shead, the shelter’s adoption coordinator] said while she counted cash, checks and gift cards dropped off by concerned citizens.

One of the donations was $40 from an 11-year old boy.

“His parents said he’d saved up his money and wanted to donate it to help with the animals,” Shead said. “He will never know how much that means to all of us at the shelter.”

Volunteers with the ROTC of Westside High School in Anderson and cadets of the Anderson Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol loaded roughly four truckloads of dog food and blankets, Shead said, and more than $2,200 in cash donations had been received as of 2 p.m. Saturday.

I love community based efforts, especially when they aid the non-voting and otherwise voiceless members of the community. And in this case, a successful fund raising effort drew support from out of state donors as well. I'm glad to know the pets in the Anderson Co. Animal Shelter will have full bellies and blankies to sleep on tonight. It's been cold lately!

Video here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Transparency and Organization Still Lacking at Secretive SC Shelter

Last month, I wrote about a shelter in Myrtle Beach, SC (run by the Horry County Humane Society) which closed to kill dogs en masse after a Distemper outbreak. The apparent attempts by the shelter director to mislead/hide from the media regarding the handling of the disease outbreak got her sacked not long after the story hit the local news. The shelter reopened after a month long closure (how long does it take to thoroughly clean a facility which should be thoroughly clean to start with?) but now Board members are jumping ship:
There are currently 8 members on the HCHS board with seven seats unfilled.
One of the 8 occupied seats was just filled this past week:

The board voted Wednesday to appoint Carol Bourne-Hunt to the HCHS board after Hunt was voted off the Grand Strand Humane Society’s board days ago.

Hunt told News13 she spend 13 years as a member of the GSHS board, but lost a re-election bid in January after the Myrtle Beach animal shelter staff campaigned for another candidate.

I couldn't find any available facts regarding the failed re-election bid but it doesn't take a genius to realize if the staff at this lady's former shelter campaigned for her ousting, they must have had a reason. Shelter staff are generally the hands on people who try and help the animals in their care within the limitations set for them by the Board of Directors. They see the day to day effects that board room decisions have on the lives of shelter pets. I tend to give their opinions significant value. At any rate, the Horry County Humane Society (half) Board won't be writing their own ticket indefinitely:

Some members of Horry County council cited the seemingly high turnover at the agency’s shelter and board as reason to take a closer look into the shelter’s management and finances.

The county’s Public Safety Committee voted on Jan. 14 to conduct an investigation into the shelter’s finances.

The HCHS received $535, 613 in county tax dollars to run the shelter in a contract with Horry County.

Yeah I'd like to know what exactly this (half) Board is doing with that half-a-million in taxpayer money too. I mean besides adopting out dogs during a known Distemper outbreak, killing dogs in their care and bringing on board someone who just got the boot from her own shelter staff. Accountability, anyone?

Friday, January 23, 2009

PETA and Vick: Pitbull Killing Freaks No Longer BFFs

Although it seemed like a match made in Scumbag Heaven, PETA and Michael Vick have had a falling out. Too bad because they both apparently think that killing Pitbulls is great and both seem to enjoy raking in the millions but alas, the honeymoon is over. Their planned television PSA about dogfighting [beverage spew warning - doh! I'm supposed to say that first, huh?] has been sent to PETA's walk-in freezer:
The organization said Wednesday that an agreement was reached with Vick's representatives to shoot the spot, but that Vick's attorneys sought assurance from PETA the group would support Vick's return to the NFL.
PETA is urging that Vick undergo a brain scan and a full psychiatric evaluation.
Right backatcha baby!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Peanut Butter Products Recalled

In case you haven't heard, it seems like a long list of processed foods containing peanut butter as an ingredient (crackers, ice cream, dog treats, etc.) are being recalled due to Salmonella contamination. From the FDA:

Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), is expanding the recall of peanut butter and voluntarily recalling peanut paste made at its Blakely, Georgia facility because the products have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
The recalled peanut butter and peanut paste were distributed to institutions, food service industries, and private label food companies in 24 states, the province of Saskatchewan in Canada, Korea and Haiti. The U.S. states are the following: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia. In addition, affected product was used as an ingredient in other products that may have been distributed in other states.

None of the peanut butter being recalled is sold directly to consumers through retail stores by PCA.

PCA is not the only peanut butter manufacturer involved in this recall so you might like to take a look at all the recent FDA alerts. For now, they are saying that regular peanut butter on your grocery store shelf is not affected. As someone who eats a lot of peanut butter, I hope they are telling us the whole story.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Treats on the Internets

This is the Oh My God edition. Check back in future for the Return to Reason edition. I hope.

Blue Dog State posts about a turn-in-your-neighbor-win-big-prizes program in FL which encourages citizens to phone in "tips" about people who own Pitbulls. Cos you know, they might be dogfighters. But what exactly happens when the red Pitbull phone goes ringy dingy?:

When Floridians dial that HSUS dogfight tip hotline number, the one that Attorney General McCollum thinks is such a great thing, they won't get the Attorney General's office. They won't get a public servant at all.

Persons wishing to make anonymous accusations of felonious activity will be connected to an individual employed by a for-profit, private security company employed by the Humane Society of the United States.

The for-profit private security company employed by HSUS will take the ball from there.

And guess whose instructions they'll be following.

Well I certainly hope it's not the kill-all-pitbulls-before-the-owner-gets-his-day-in-court HSUS. It's not them, is it? In the words of Hellboy: Oh, crap.

Blue Dog wisely notes:
I have a problem when private corporations like the Humane Society of the United States -- ones with zero public responsibility -- get into the law enforcement biz. Out of control private warriors operating in the Middle East are a national disgrace.

Do we really want private contractors operating in the domestic sector, too?

:::waves hand vigorously::: Pick me! I know the answer!


In South Carolina news, the state legislature is working on a bill that basically says a sheriff can deputize someone from an animal group (such as the SC SPCA) to arrest citizens on suspicion of animal cruelty. The group can then seize their pets and demand payment for their "care" in minimum increments of 30 day periods. If the owner can't come up with the cash, the group can rehome or kill the pets as they see fit. What about people who end up being found not guilty by the time they get their day in court? Well for those who couldn't produce the green, sorry your dogs are dead or otherwise disposed. Thanks for playing. But for those who were able to put up the funds, you may be entitled to a partial refund if the group "caring" for your animals hasn't withdrawn every last penny from the account already. Wow - bonus.

Contact Governor Sanford and let him know, in a respectful manner, how you feel about this bill and why he should not sign it into law.

Governor Mark Sanford
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12267
Columbia, SC 29211

Fax: 803-734-5167
Phone: 803-734-2100.


Smartdogs has all the horrible details on the neglect and abuse charges against the English Shepherd breeder in Montana. It's way worse than the initial reporting seemed to indicate. Do not read while eating.


Pet Connection calls out a popular Pediatrician for the dispensing of ancient myth advice: if you're pregnant, dump your cat or he'll steal your baby's breath in the night. Dude, what?


And we gotta have one GOOD Oh My God. Courtesy of Lassie, Get Help. Thank you Captain Sullenberger and crew, cool headed passengers and awesome first responders for the feel good hit of the Summer. In January.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Big One That Got Away

Heard an interesting discussion on NPR's Science Friday yesterday:
Research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that predation by humans through hunting, fishing, and gathering has had significant influences on the rate of evolutionary change in a wide variety of species. Traits such as body size and first reproductive age shift significantly in species that are 'harvested,' the authors say.

"Fishing regulations often prescribe the taking of larger fish, and the same often applies to hunting regulations," said Chris Darimont, one of the authors of the study. "Hunters are instructed not to take smaller animals or those with smaller horns. This is counter to patterns of natural predation, and now we're seeing the consequences of this management." Darimont and colleagues found that human predation accelerated the rate of observable trait changes in a species by 300 percent above the pace observed within purely natural systems, and 50 percent above that of systems subject to other human influences, such as pollution.

So basically, by removing the biggest animals from the population (of fish, Bighorn Sheep, etc.), we are speeding up evolution within those populations. It could be said we are managing the breeding programs of these animals through artificial means and causing them to select for unnatural traits. Which is kinda what has gotten us into the genetic mess we are in with purebred dogs. Granted there are very different methods and motivations at work but there is a similarity to my mind. I am not against hunting game or breeding dogs but I do think we can do both more responsibly, with an eye for the big picture. Because focusing on a set of trophy horns for the wall or winning a ribbon at a dog show seems to be leading us down the wrong path toward a dead end future.

Listen to the podcast of yesterday's Science Friday show here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pitbull News Roundup

B-More Bulldogs has more on the seizure of 127 pitbulls in the NC raid. The kennel owner, who has not yet had his day in court and has admitted no wrongdoing, is being forced to come up with more than $50K to pay the county for 60 days worth of "care" for his seized dogs. If he doesn't fork over the cash in 5 business days, the dogs will be turned over to the county and, in accordance with county law, eventually killed. This is what's passing for "justice" these days? Oh and thanks so much to the HSUS for "helping out" on this case. Helping to get more dogs killed that is.

Terrierman posts about proposed breed specific legislation in Montana.

In MA, animal control rescued dozens of pitbulls from an apartment without electricity/heat where they had been left in filthy crates. These dogs will be put up for adoption.

The man accused of cruelty in the OK case, where most of the dogs were killed by authorities with some saved by rescue groups, is out on bail. He is due in court next on January 16. BAD RAP has an update on some of the saved dogs.


My neighbors, who own 6 Pitbulls, have a little boy who sometimes comes to the fence with his dogs. His two pups are so lovable and they both know I am a pushover for all the scritches they can manage through the hog fencing (their heads fit through easily). The other day when I was loving on both the pups, I told the kid how sweet they are. He replied, "Yup, I trained these two good." Right on, kiddo.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Recipe: Sweet Oat Bars

I usually try to have one or two meat-free days for the dogs each week. Instead of using meat or fish for protein in their meals, I might feed eggs, yogurt, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, buttermilk, or some combination of these type of foods. I still use my rough guide for the overall meal: 1/3 grains, 1/3 veggies/fruits, and 1/3 protein. Often with the meatless meals, I will include soaked oats but for a change, and because I go a little bake-crazy in Winter, I've been making oat bars for the dogs. These could also be fed as treats if desired. Here is the recipe:

6 Cups rolled oats
1 Cup flaxseed meal
1 Cup raw wheat germ
4 eggs
1/2 Cup oil (e.g. olive, canola, safflower)
1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons honey
1/4 Cup molasses
1 Cup milk

Mix all ingredients together. Pat onto well greased cookie sheet(s) and bake at 325 degrees F for 30 mins. Turn off oven, crack door and let cool. Break or cut into desired pieces.

Variations: I will often sprinkle some cinnamon into the mix, just because I love the smell of a cinnamon kitchen. You could also add in a can of pumpkin or some mashed bananas. Those smell great baking too and the dogs love the taste.

Note: If you are wanting to use these as treats instead of including them as part of a meal, I would suggest possibly replacing the flaxseed meal and wheat germ with equal amounts of whole wheat flour. That will help the bars stay together better for storage and handling.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dinner at Chez Dog

Tonight's theme: Simplicity.

Boneless chicken breast (BOGO!), boil in pot. Remove meat and chunk. Boil green beans in same pot using same water. Remove to cool. Boil potatoes in same chicken-y, green bean-y water. Remove to cool. Combine, add calcium and oil, serve. Try to get Billy to wash pot.

Friday, January 9, 2009

SC No Kill Shelter Targets Black Pets for Adoption

You may have heard of Black Dog Syndrome - black dogs (and cats) being more difficult to adopt out than other rescue pets. The general public seems to be put off by black pets perhaps because they appear intimidating or have a "generic" look to them. My local no-kill shelter, the Animal Protection League (APL), examined this problem at their own facility:

Over the years, a variety of unaddressed problems resulted in too many APL kennels being occupied on a long-term basis by Black Pearls with nowhere else to go. The APL adoption rate was declining annually.

APL offers some of the contributing factors to the problem , including:

  • Indiscriminate and out-of-control breeding of rural pets, with dogs being mostly lab/chow mixed
  • High numbers of abandoned or straying animals
  • Uneducated pet owners
  • Superstitions regarding black cats
  • Low per-capita income leaving rural families little or no resources for spaying, etc.
  • Limited resources within the organization
  • Remote shelter location
  • Formation of other pet organizations that handled small- and medium-sized pets
  • Formation of breed rescue clubs
  • Growing apartment communities wanting smaller pets
  • Turnover of uneducated staff
  • Lack of public awareness
  • Untrained rescued animals

These and other factors resulted in a challenging situation:

The APL shelter population began to mirror the rural pet population. Large, middle- aged, mixed-breed black dogs and solid black cats occupied available space for much longer periods of time because they were passed over for adoption while younger, more interesting, lighter colored pets were chosen.

APL's solution was to create a Black Pearls Program specifically targeting these black pets for adoption. This included staffing changes and education, community outreach, and a rotation program so that all pets had a chance to be seen by the public at off-site adoption events. In the one year period following implementation, APL reports that 79% of their black (or mostly black) cats were adopted and 42% of their black (or mostly black) dogs. In addition, they report a "ripple effect" resulting in more pets being adopted overall due to interest generated by the Black Pearls Program. Their success even earned them grant money so they were able to help still more pets!

How's that for thinking outside the box to get pets into homes? Certainly beats the blue-needle-solution offered to pets who might be slightly more challenging to adopt out by so-called "rescue" groups like the Houston SPCA and is most definitely superior to PETA's kill-them-all solution.

Innovative thinking and action on the part of shelters are both important means to achieving a successful no kill community. If a rural shelter in the South can do it, we can do it all over the country. We may not have our own phony baloney TV show to make us look like heroes, and we may not have celebrity endorsements and millions of dollars, but instead of lying to the public and trying to come off as something we're not, we can quietly walk the walk and get shelter pets into homes. Yeah, we can do that.

Black Pearl: Former APL resident Thor in his forever home

Thursday, January 8, 2009

PETA: Take Your Endorsement and Shove It

When the BBC aired the documentary "Pedigree Dogs Exposed", there was much speculation on dog forums and mailing lists that the film was funded by, or otherwise affiliated with, animal rights extremists. Never one to miss an opportunity for free publicity, PETA has now gotten on board:

“I am horrified that PETA is using the film to further its own, warped agenda,” says Jemima Harrison, of Passionate Productions, which made the film for the BBC. “Our film is about animal welfare, not animal rights.

“PETA’s animal welfare record is appalling. It kills 97 per cent of the dogs that come to its shelters and admits its ultimate aim is to rid the world of what it calls the “domestic enslavement” of dogs as either pets or working dogs.

And if that ain't clear enough, Ms. Harrison adds:

“PETA is a bunch of crackpots who do not care about anything but publicity and making money."
I guess that answers that.

On balance, one must admit that PETA is a bunch of crackpots who are very good at publicity and making money. Hey, I gotta be fair.

H/T to Terrierman.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pink Iguanas Want Their Own Parking Space in the Animal World

Think of them as the "Hello Kitty" of iguanas.  Their scientific name is rosada and they're pink.  From the BBC:

A spectacular pink type of Galapagos iguana promises to rewrite the family's evolutionary history in the islands. 

Rosada was missed by Charles Darwin during his 1835 visit, but appears to indicate the earliest known divergence of land animals in the archipelago.

Unfortunately, their population is tiny - less than 100 animals - so their future is uncertain.

Dr Gentile's team is now preparing a formal description of the animal, and will be asking the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), the body that adjudicates on such matters, to rule that it is separate and distinct.

 See a cute pink iguana head here. (Another thing-I've-never-said-before.)

Aflatoxin Kills 1300 Shelter Dogs in Taiwan

China View reports:

On Dec. 22, 2008, the agricultural authority received a report which said more than 300 dogs died at two shelters in Taipei county. 

Staff with the shelters said the dogs were extremely weak, jaundice, and had blood in their urine. The symptoms are typical of liver damage. 

According to Taiwan media, another 1,000 dogs, with the same symptoms, reportedly died in Yunlin, Tainan and Kaohsiung counties. 

The agricultural department did not give any details on when any of the dogs died or how many others might be affected by the tainted food.

Gee that has a familiar, FDA-ish ring to it.  Apparently "Peter's Kind-Hearted Dog Food" was made "with 1,500 tonnes of moldy corn which was imported from Pakistan last November".   The way this is written, it could be interpreted that the company knowingly bought moldy corn (which is known to carry aflatoxin)  to make their dog food.  I would hope that's not the case.  The company offered a vague reassurance that all the dog food had been accounted for and none was exported.  But where did the rest of said moldy corn end up?:

Ji-Tai also produced 1,450 tonnes of pig food with the moldy corn However, Yunlin county authorities found no toxic pig food in spot tests. 

It is unknown whether any of the pig feed was exported off the island.

Vaguely UNreassuring.  Particularly for those who buy pig feed and/or eat pork.  But no worries, I'm sure the FDA's got your back.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cruelty on Video and the US Constitution

Is animal cruelty - itself a crime in the US - on video still illegal or does it fall under "free speech"?  The New York Times explores this complicated issue:

So, in 1999, Congress made it a crime to sell “crush videos” and almost all other depictions of unlawful cruelty to animals. 

The conduct itself is disgusting, of course. But the law does not criminalize the cruelty, which was already illegal in all 50 states, only its depiction. By making such expressions illegal — adding a new category of speech to the very few that are entirely unprotected under the First Amendment — the law raised profound constitutional questions about whether and when the government can decide that some sorts of information have no social value at all. 

The Supreme Court is likely to address those questions soon in the case of Robert J. Stevens, a Virginia man sentenced to 37 months in prison under the law for selling videos of dogfights.

In July, by a vote of 10 to 3, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia, reversed Mr. Stevens’s conviction and struck down the law, saying it violated the constitutional right to free speech.


The law does contain an exception for materials of “serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical or artistic value.” But Eugene Volokh, a First Amendment specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the exception was small comfort. “What constitutes serious value,” Professor Volokh said, “is very much in the eye of the beholder.”

No kidding.  So what are the boundaries and guidelines to be considered when legally determining if cruelty on video is protected by the Constitution?:  

Judge D. Brooks Smith, writing for the appeals court majority, said animals did not experience shame and other psychological harm. “While animals are sentient creatures worthy of human kindness and human care,” he wrote, “one cannot seriously contend that the animals themselves suffer continuing harms by having their images out in the marketplace.”

But don't they?  Don't all animals suffer when one suffers?  Maybe I am speaking from the heart and not by the rule of law but shouldn't the two be intertwined?  In the famous words of John Donne:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Southern Shelter Needs Pet Food

Shelters across the country are being hit with increased surrenders and decreased donations as the economy tanks. If you can, please consider donating your time, gently used pet supplies, or money to your local no-kill shelter.

The Shelby Humane Society in Columbiana, AL is making a plea for assistance after losing the wholesale deal they were getting on pet food. Can't another pet food vendor or local store step up and at least offer the shelter a discount on food? It's not like they are saying they won't pay for it. But hey, if somebody wants to help out with some free food, I'm sure they'd gladly accept that too.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Dinner at Chez Dog

I've got lots of extra potatoes (on sale, didn't get around to eating) so tonight boiled up some reds and some russets for the dogs. I carved out the sprouted "legs" - which is what I always called them as a kid, they terrified me - but left the skins on. After they cooled, I stirred them up with some veggie & herb puree that I made yesterday (from various leftovers) for use in dog biscuits. The puree didn't turn out to be the consistency I needed for the biscuits unfortunately so it's off to the dog bowls with that. For protein, I opened up some canned sardines in tomato sauce. I always keep those in the cupboard - as an economical convenience food and something to provide variety and essential nutrients. Dr. Strombeck recommends them in his book and that's where I got the idea originally.


Free Shelter Adoptions

Maybe you can provide food, vet care, and other essentials to a pet but can't quite manage the adoption fee. If so, January 24 may be your lucky day. Hill's is sponsoring a program where the first ten pets adopted at participating shelters are free on Saturday, January 24. Click here to put in your state and see what shelters in your area are participating. The list of participating shelters for SC is here.

We don't want to encourage anyone to adopt on a whim of course, but for those who are prepared to put in the time, effort, and love in exchange for a lifetime of companionship, go for it!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Where are They Now: Mayor Set-Them-Free and Murphy

I wanted to follow up on a couple of cruelty cases I followed in recent months.

Starting with the Arkansas Mayor who found his town's shelter dogs annoying and so ordered them "set free" in the National Forest:

In June, he said he was faced with a dilemma as the city was trying to deal with a stray-dogs problem while residents complained that a dilapidated shelter at the city's sanitation department was inadequate.
Yeah so obviously any reasonable person would deduce that the solution to the problem of dogs being housed in filth at the dump is to turn them loose in the forest. Sounds like a swell plan, except that it's a crime. Oh snap.

In December, the US Forest Service slapped the Mayor (lightly, on the wrist) with a $300 fine and ordered him to pay $1600 in restitution to the group who rescued the dogs - that is, the dogs who didn't get shot by an area resident.

Then there was Murphy, the Australian Shepherd whose owner allegedly bashed his head in with a sledgehammer and left him to die in an Atlanta area park. Robert Kennedy was walking his own dogs when he came upon Murphy and brought him to a local Vet. Against all odds, and down one eye, Murphy recovered well enough to join Mr. Kennedy's family:

He will move into the home —- with a fenced-in yard —- that Kennedy shares with his 25-year-old daughter and two 2-year-old golden retrievers.


Nearly 600 people have given to a trust fund that Kennedy set up to help defray the more than $6,000 vet bill so far. Kennedy initially intended to pay the bill himself, but set up the account after being inundated with offers to help from as far away as Puerto Rico and Canada.

“I’m just overwhelmed by the generosity of people, and I’m going to make sure that generosity is justified,” he said.

Dude, it's justified.

Mr. Kennedy volunteers with a local Golden Retriever rescue which was scheduled to take part in a parade on New Year's Eve and so:

The Australian shepherd will walk with the Golden Retriever Rescue of Atlanta as part of the 1.25-mile parade from the Georgia Dome to the World Congress Center.


Kennedy at first though he would have to wheel Murphy, who remains somewhat wobbly after the attack but did not suffer permanent brain damage. But Kennedy has taken Murphy on hikes with his other dogs, Stella and Charlie, and the injured dog has managed even longer walks than the parade route.

As for the manly-man who needed a sledgehammer and a loyal pet to demonstrate his superior testosterone:

Murphy’s former owner, Joseph “Joe” Waters, 48, is free on $25,000 bail on a felony count of animal cruelty.

If convicted, I hope this scumbag gets some time behind bars to show off his macho skillz.