Mixed Review for Animal Planet TV Show

I used to be a regular viewer of the Animal Precinct show but I had to quit watching it. I found myself thinking the words “DEATH PENALTY!” every time an animal abuser case came on. And I’m actually against the death penalty.

Now they have more shows along similar lines on the same network. I tuned in last night to catch part of an episode in Miami. It was wonderful to see an emaciated dog rescued, and to have a Veterinarian volunteer to perform the needed leg amputation surgery. After recovery, the dog was adopted by a couple whose other pet is a 3 legged cat. Thumbs up! But then my joy was greatly diminished when I saw an animal control officer dragging a pitbull in a noose away from his sobbing owner. The officer said he felt terrible having to do it, but the law in Miami-Dade County prohibits having as a pet “any dog which substantially conforms to a pit bull breed dog“.

I didn’t see the whole show so maybe there was more to the story. Maybe the owner was terribly irresponsible and let her dog roam loose and kill livestock, or some other such crimes. But from what I saw, it just looked like a woman’s pet being dragged away by the neck because of his genetically determined appearance. Thumbs down! I can not imagine being that woman. “Death Penalty!” would likely be the sweetest thing coming out of my mouth. Breed Specific Legislation sucks. Are there pitbulls who are dangerous dogs? Yes. Are there a number of other breeds and mixed breeds who are dangerous? Of course. Punish the deed, not the breed.

PETA In Their Own Words

PETA’s Agenda Regarding Companion Animals: The extermination of all pets and an end to pet ownership. When you combine their kill rate (PETA says they killed over 97% of the animals surrendered to them in 2006) with their stated goal of a “No Birth Nation” for pets, what other possible conclusion could there be?

Killing almost every pet they can get their hands on
no new pets born
an end to pet ownership.

None of your Business: Know who you are doing business with – these companies are PETA supporters (site is updated periodically).

You Can Fool Some of the People, Some of the Time: PETA operates a number of websites under other names – listing here.

Would You Kill for this Job?: From a job posting on PETA’s website for a Field Worker position:
Listed first under “Qualifications”:
“Basic animal-handling skills and euthanasia certification (on-the-job training will be provided)”

No kidding.

Call Me Crazy: PETA thinks animal killers need psychological help, jail time and should be stripped of their rights to harbor animals. That is, unless the animal killers are PETA employees. Regarding the 2005 charges against two PETA employees who were caught taking pets from NC shelters then killing them and dumping their bodies in a Piggly Wiggly dumpster, PETA stood by their man, maintaining that although their staffers “may have exercised poor discretion in dumping the animals behind the supermarket, they and other employees who did similar work were acting humanely when they euthanized animals removed from shelters.”

And Finally: Some testimony from the 2007 trial – this story is not one of the crimes PETA employees were charged with but just another example of their deceptive practice of getting owners to surrender pets with the hope of finding them new homes, only to have them killed by PETA immediately. In this case, an animal control officer was hoping to find a new home for one of his own pets.

Bertie County Animal Control Officer: “I knew that by talking to [the female PETA employee on trial] that she could possibly find a home for it, someone that was looking for a good dog. To my understanding, she found a home for it in Virginia.”

(Actually, the PETA staffer drove the dog back to PETA headquarters in Norfolk and killed him there, stopping along the way to take photos of the dog looking, as his name suggested, “Happy”.)

District Attorney: “How did these pictures get back in the possession of [the Animal Control Officer]?”
PETA employee on trial: “I sent them to him.”
District Attorney: “Why?”
PETA employee on trial: “I thought he would appreciate them. I knew that it was a very hard decision for him to give ‘Happy’ up.”
District Attorney: “And when you sent these pictures back to him, did you tell him that ‘I killed the dog in Norfolk’?”
PETA employee on trial: “No.”
District Attorney: “Why not?”
PETA employee on trial: “I didn’t think it was necessary.”
District Attorney: “Why?”
PETA employee on trial: “I don’t know.”
District Attorney:
“When he gave you this dog, and entrusted you to take it and adopt it, out, why did you not tell him that you killed it?”
PETA employee on trial: “No reason. I didn’t want to hurt [his] feelings.”
District Attorney: “If you didn’t want to hurt his feelings, why didn’t you leave the dog with him?”
PETA employee on trial: “I don’t know.”

If you have the stomach for it, you can read a complete account of the trial on PetaKillsAnimals.com

Beware of Animal Rights Activists Bearing Gifts

PETA believes euthanasia is the kindest gift to a dog or cat unwanted and unloved.” – PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, 2005 press conference

In fact, this statement is untrue. As proof, I offer the following:

Top Ten List of Gifts for Unwanted Dogs and Cats

10. Responsible, loving home
9. Human to pal around with
8. Bone/Catnip
7. Food bowl, preferably full
6. Whipped cream on the beater
5. King sized bed (occasional human occupant ok)
4. Sunshine, grass, fresh air
3. Spot beneath the highchair at kiddie’s mealtime
2. Pat on the head, scritches behind the ears, belly rub
1. Responsible, loving home (so nice, it listed twice)

Euthanasia is NOT a good gift for an unloved pet. It doesn’t even make the top ten.

PETA: Bite Me

I’ve voiced my feelings on PETA far and wide, including this previous blog post (Reader’s Digest version: I no likey). Thank goodness we’ve still got that First Amendment thingy. PETA’s lawyer may have slept through that lecture in law school though. He seems to think that bloggers who post their anti-PETA opinions (and back them up with facts) are going to be bullied by his threatening letters. Nice try PETA. Why don’t you go back to doing what you’re good at: fooling celebrities into thinking you care about animals.

Related Stories: Center for Consumer Freedom, Terrierman’s Daily Dose

Are You Going to Use Those Coupons?

I am not all that keen on processed pet food. Nor was I happy to find out that Pedigree may be discontinuing its food donations to shelters. I appreciate that shelters are not in a position to make, store and feed homemade fresh food. Many rely on donations of processed pet food in order to feed the animals in their care.
I noticed that there are always coupons for pet food and treats in the Sunday paper – some are even for free food. I decided to clip these coupons and as I can afford it, use them a few at a time at the grocery store to purchase food for donating to my local shelters. Maybe you like this idea and want to do the same – great! Maybe you like the idea but don’t see yourself following through on it – ok, here’s another suggestion: Send those pet food coupons to me! I will use them and buy food for donation to my local shelters. Seriously. Send me your coupons. You don’t even have to clip them if you don’t want, just send the whole page with the pet food coupons on it and I’ll clip them myself.
Highest priority: FREE pet food, then canned foods, dry foods, and lastly, treats. I have access to the following chain grocery stores (if you have coupons which must be redeemed ONLY at a certain store): Kroger, Publix, Piggly Wiggly, IGA, and Food Lion. It’s fine to send them once a month or so but please don’t hold on to them so long that I have only a week to use them before they expire. I’m doing this bit by bit and need to space my purchases out as best I can. Let me know if you need my mailing address.

I Heart Dot

Kitten is born with message to mama Kitty “Dottie” on its fur:  I Love You Mom!
If you don’t mind the commercial at the beginning, there is a video of the kitten here.

Nest Cam!

I have a thing for falcons. This one’s laying eggs today – watch!

Rabies Revaccination and the Law: Simply Complex

The CDC’s Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2007 states that dogs, cats and ferrets “should be placed on a vaccination schedule according to the labeled duration of the vaccine used.” Sounds simple right? Whoa Nellie.

In my state of South Carolina, there is a state sponsored effort each year to get pets vaccinated for Rabies by teaming up with Veterinarians to offer $3 shots. (If you are interested in this year’s clinics, set for April, please visit SC DHEC for a list of clinics by county.) Like most other states, and in accordance with the CDC statement above, South Carolina mandates that pets be revaccinated according to the vaccine’s labeling. That is, if your Vet purchases and administers the Rabies vaccine labeled for 3 years, your pet does not require revaccination for 3 years. However if your Vet purchases and administers the Rabies vaccine labeled for 1 year, your pet must be revaccinated annually. States which do not honor the manufacturer’s instructions for revaccination include AL, AR, CO, HI, LA, ME, MA, MS, NM, NC, OK, RI, SD, TN, UT and WV. In other words, if you live in or are traveling to any of those states, you will want to check with a government office regarding their Rabies vaccination requirements as they do not necessarily consider whether your pet was given a vaccine labeled for 1 year or 3 year immunity.

And it gets even more complicated. Vermont statutes for example, dictate “All vaccinations, including the initial vaccination, shall be with a U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved three-year rabies vaccine product” – which means if your pet had the 1 year labeled Rabies vaccine, you may not be compliant. Then there’s Kansas, which does not mandate Rabies revaccination schedules but leaves it up to city officials. So traveling from one city to the next in Kansas, you might encounter different laws on the books regarding Rabies vaccination for your pet.

In Ontario, Canada, there is confusion among pet owners and Veterinarians alike as to what constitutes compliance regarding Rabies vaccination. It certainly would not surprise me to find out there are other places where confusion exists. (Note: If you are traveling to Hawaii, Canada or overseas with your pet, you’ll want to research Rabies requirements in advance.)

Finally, I don’t know if it will simplify things (hope springs eternal!) but there is a Rabies Challenge Fund set up to determine if the existing Rabies vaccines actually convey immunity for longer than currently known. They are running two concurrent studies for duration of immunity – one for 5 years and another for 7 years. They are seeking contributions from supporters to fund their research. If they are able to prove the longer duration of immunity, it’s possible that Rabies revaccination protocols may be changed which would mean less vaccines required for pets.

My thoughts: Ask your Vet before having your pet vaccinated whether he is administering the Rabies vaccine labeled for one year or three year immunity. They are not “all the same”, even though many people think they are, because they are labeled differently. (I’m not a virologist so can’t comment on whether the vaccines contained within the differently labeled vials are actually different except to say that would be my assumption.) It will be important information to know in case you decide to take your pet to an area with a different Rabies revaccination law. Also, check with your state’s government offices to find out the Rabies revaccination requirements for your area. Your Vet may not have current, accurate information on the laws.

FDA’s "Public" Meeting is MIA

From January 4, 2008:

“FDA is announcing its intention to schedule and hold a public meeting early in 2008 to obtain input from stakeholder groups, including, but not limited to, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), veterinary medical associations, animal health organizations, and pet food manufacturers for the development of ingredient, processing, and labeling standards to ensure the safety of pet food.”

Attention Foxes! We’ve been mandated to make the hen house safer. Suggestions? Anyone?

“…FDA intends to hold a public meeting in the greater Rockville, MD area sometime within the first three months of 2008.”

Going, going… It’s March 18. Do you know where your FDA is?

“After the meeting, FDA will review all of the comments submitted to the docket…”

Right. Perfectly sensible. You wouldn’t want comments from the public to be reviewed during the public meeting. That would muck the whole thing up. Better just to keep it small and sociable – friends and family only.


The entire FDA notice, including instructions for how the public can submit their comments (to be read after the fact) can be found in pdf format here.

Isn’t It Ironic?

It’s been one year since the first round of massive pet food recalls in the US and some owners still feel concerned over pet food safety. What’s a worried owner to do – make your own pet food? Well, you know what comes next – “Consult your Veterinarian”. O the irony: Most Veterinarians I have met or otherwise come across in the media say basically that you’d have to be a rocket scientist in order to feed your pets using real foods from your own kitchen so you’d better stick with canned or kibbled pet food.

It helps to know that Veterinarians receive relatively little education on pet feeding in school and some are actually taught by representatives from Hill’s Pet Foods. In fairness, Vets have a very hard job. Their patients can’t explain how they feel, what weird thing they ingested, etc. And Vets are supposed to know everything about pets’ medical needs from treating skin conditions and parasites to administering anesthesia and performing leg amputations. It’s probably a relief for a Vet student to hear something like, “Don’t worry about feeding because the widely available pet foods on the market are perfectly balanced for a lifetime of reliable nutrition”. That’s good, you know – one less thing. But it doesn’t mean that’s an accurate statement (I’ll get to that in a bit) or that all pet owners are going to buy into it. So while I truly value and appreciate my Vet, I have no compelling reason to believe I should consult ONLY her on how best to feed my dogs. She’s a general practitioner who does not specialize in canine nutrition and I’m fine with that. But it means I’m going to consider other sources when seeking advice on canine nutrition.

Another bit of worn out advice that I wish I could delete from the universe: “Never feed human food to a dog”. When I look at the marketing done by pet food corporations, it seems they are trying to entice me to buy their products by showing me images of beautifully prepared meats, vegetables and grains. They want me to associate these fresh foods with the dried pellets inside their bags of pet food. Somehow they are hoping I will believe that the image of real beef stew has something to do with the product inside the can which actually contains squares of wheat gluten made to look like meat. But hello – aren’t meats, vegetables and grains actually human foods? Isn’t beef stew something I might prepare for a family dinner? (Again with the irony thing.) So if I take this one step further, do I assume that the folks manufacturing these pet foods are the equivalent of rocket scientists? That they know far more than I could ever hope to about how to feed a dog? Considering the pet food corporations have sickened and killed thousands of pets in 2004 and again in 2007 by selling tainted products – which they say they didn’t know were toxic – you’ll forgive me if I am skeptical as to their vast mental superiority.

Don’t get me wrong – unlike a few others, I’ve never thought pet food companies were intentionally trying to kill pets. I do believe that many of them count on the ability of dogs particularly to survive on low quality foodstuffs and fillers. I believe many of them use the cheapest ingredients they can find (such as meat deemed unfit for human consumption) in order to make a profit from a low quality product. I believe many have been deceiving us for years with their “Made in Grandma’s Organic Kitchen on our Vermont Farm” labeling when in fact they were using – knowingly or unknowingly (read: uncaringly) – untested, cheap ingredients from overseas. And I believe that many of them have financially profited from a “self-regulated” industry which was broadly exposed for the UNregulated industry that it is during the massive pet food recalls of Spring 2007.

Further, the AAFCO ‘Nutritional Adequacy’ stamp, which we were led to believe meant a dog food is ‘complete and balanced for all life stages’, does not mean that a food has been tested in feed trials over the lifetime of dogs. ‘Nutritional Adequacy’ indicates that, if the food was tested in feed trials, it was fed for 6 months (or less, depending on the life stage) to 8 dogs. Animals participating in feed trials are weighed and have their blood tested for a few basic levels. I’m not a Veterinarian but having a guess, 8 dogs could probably eat a pretty poor quality diet for 6 months and still pass the weight/blood tests with satisfactory scores to earn the seal of approval. The bottom line is, an AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy statement on the food does not mean that the food can be safely fed to dogs over a lifetime without any risk to their health. That information simply isn’t known since tests longer than 6 months are not performed by any third party organizations.

And, a little news item that I doubt would have been reported by the mainstream media if it hadn’t happened during the 2007 recalls: Iams received a letter from the FDA about an unapproved chemical found in six of its Eukanuba Veterinary Diets foods. Iams apparently didn’t think the chemical – chromium tripicolinate – was important enough to include as an ingredient on the food labels however the FDA describes the chemical as “genotoxic” – meaning it can alter DNA and cause tumors. Gee, I guess I see why Iams left it off the labels. There was no recall requested or offered regarding the affected foods but Iams said it would stop adding the chemical.

That got me wondering, how do we know what else they don’t list on the labels? How about other pet food companies – do they omit unapproved chemicals (or other things) from their ingredient lists too? If a pet ate this food and developed tumors somewhere down the road, how on earth would anyone make the connection between the pet’s medical condition and the food? As the recalls wore on, some companies issued statements recalling their products saying they contained possibly tainted ingredients not listed on the labels but “it’s not our fault” because they DID NOT KNOW what the manufacturers were actually putting into their products. So: What’s on the label isn’t necessarily what’s in the bag and don’t blame us!

OK pet food companies, I won’t blame you but I don’t trust you either. So I’m choosing to feed my dogs from my kitchen cupboard. No, I have not consulted my Veterinarian and Yes, I’m feeding human foods to my pets. In fact, I’ve been doing it for years and despite my lack of a degree in rocket science, everyone seems to be doing well. Really well. I’m not going to make any outrageous claims about the benefits of my home prepared diet but I will say that the dogs seem overall healthier and heartier than the kibble fed dogs I’ve had in the past. And that’s good these days because, you know – one less thing…


A few links for those interested in reading about feeding your pets at home:

From my bookshelf and recommended reading: Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative by Donald R. Strombeck, DVM, PhD

Mary Strauss has written extensively about home feeding and offers a variety of options for owners to consider

For the gourmet-inclined: One gal who deliciously combines the worlds of human and pet foods is Rachael Ray. Check out her recipes for pets and peeps!