One dogs contem....contemp....con-tem..pla-tions on daily life........oh, stop rolling your eyes already and give me break, I'm a dog, for Gods sakes...

Helping dogs to stay healthy

By Michael P. McConnell, Daily Tribune Staff Writer

MADISON HEIGHTS — Most people have heard of the swine flu that affects humans, but there is also a relatively new canine flu that afflicts dogs and spreads rapidly in shelters and rescue operations.
Pooches at the city animal shelter, which also operates Hazel Park's animal control program, last week got their first round of flu shots to protect them against the canine influenza virus referred to as CIV.
The Madison Heights Animal Shelter was one of many organizations nationwide to get the vaccine for free from the Foundation.
"This is the first time we've gotten vaccines like this," said Suzette Gysel, head of the city's animal shelter. "It was given to four dogs here and five at the Hazel Park facility."
Gysel said the vaccines were sent to the shelter's veterinarian, who administered the shots.
The shelter got 130 doses of the vaccines which are good through July, she added.
Dog flu is a growing problem nationwide and has turned up in 35 states over the past several years, according to, an online animal adoption website affiliated with thousands of animal shelters and rescue groups.
"Canine flu can be a real problem for shelters, where one sick dog can cause an outbreak through an entire facility," Liz Neuschatz, director of the Foundation, said in a statement.
Most dogs have not built up immunity to the flu and can get the disease from exposure to infected dogs and drinking from their bowls or playing with toys touched by the virus.
Nearly all dogs exposed to the virus contract the disease and start coughing, experts say. Sometimes the virus leads to more serious infections such as pneumonia, which can be fatal.
Gysel said current funding levels don't allow the animal shelters in Madison Heights or Hazel Park to purchase flu vaccines.
"We're really happy to get this from Petfinder," she said. "We've had several dogs come in over the last six months with influenza symptoms. It's a lot like when people get the flu. There is vomiting and diarrhea; we want to prevent as much discomfort for the dogs as possible."
Dogs with the flu typically have a cough, nasal discharge and loss of energy and appetite that can last for several weeks.
Petfinder teamed up with Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health which makes Nobivac Canine Flu H3N8 vaccine for the grants to thousands of shelters and rescue groups. The plan is to distribute up to 1 million doses of the vaccine.

Sacramento's first dog is on cloud canine

Sutter, Gov. Brown's 7-year-old Pembroke Welsh corgi, is a bona fide celebrity in the Capitol. He's even become a fixture at budget negotiations.

Reporting from Sacramento—

Hollywood can have Schwarzenegger. Sacramento has Sutter.

In a company town with little pizzazz but lots of lawmakers squabbling over the state's financial mess, Gov. Jerry Brown's 7-year-old Pembroke Welsh corgi has become a bona fide celebrity.

For months, California's first dog has starred in feverish blog posts and front-page news stories. Legislators and lobbyists fawn over the stocky little brown-and-white canine. He's become a fixture in budget negotiations — actually sitting at the bargaining table once — and a people magnet on his daily walks.

"Everybody knows him," Brown boasted last week as he trailed his wife and Sutter in the park that surrounds the Capitol. "He's a cut above most of the other mutts he encounters."

From Nixon's Checkers to Obama's Bo, political pets have long fascinated the public. Sutter, with some help from the Brown administration, is a tech-age phenomenon, with a sizable social media following and growing chops as a political animal. Even hardened legislators melt when he's around, if only for the relief he provides from budget talks and the way he softens the sometimes-prickly governor.

The dog belonged to Brown's sister, Kathleen, a Goldman Sachs executive who moved from San Francisco to Chicago last year, and the governor had been reluctant to adopt him. Brown's longtime pet, a black Lab named Dharma, died last year — and by comparison, the governor said, Sutter resembled "half a rat."

"I don't like small dogs as a general rule," Brown said.

But Sutter has grown on him as the dog has enlivened the suite of gubernatorial offices known as the "horseshoe" because of its shape. The dog has the run of the place — literally.

When staffers eating lunch hear jingling, they know Sutter is sniffing out snacks, particularly his favorite: bacon. They've been so happy to oblige him that the Browns had to issue an internal memo: No more feeding Sutter.

Meanwhile, the Capitol press corps, hungry for news on the new administration, had started blogging about Sutter. Steve Glazer, Brown's political advisor, fed the appetite by posting Twitter updates: "No accidents — yet, good at finding old candy behind desks, only barks when people knock on doors." One post included a photo of Brown and Sutter with famed primatologist Jane Goodall.

Last month, Brown's wife, Anne, christened Sutter as California's first dog in an impromptu ceremony on the Capitol steps, attracting a throng of reporters and photographers and creating at least as much buzz as the state hiring freeze her husband declared that day.

The San Francisco Chronicle ran a column written, with a wink, from the dog's perspective ("Wags say that Dad can be too cerebral …. But everyone loves me"). The Sacramento Bee ran an editorial giving Sutter advice on navigating the halls of power ("Don't be a yapper.…If he catches you barking out state secrets, it could be straight to the doghouse for you").

Not everyone appreciated the publications' humor.

"Dogs dogs dogs," one reader wrote in a letter to the Bee. "… All the newspapers had dogs on the front page today for various stupid reasons."

A recent picture on Sutter's Facebook page showed him with a completed NCAA basketball bracket (he correctly picked Gonzaga over George Mason). The site, maintained by the governor and first lady, lists his religion as Zen Jesuit, "although I am not burdened with dogma (but I do like dog bones)." His political affiliation is Whig: "practical and not carried away by the barking constituencies."

An anonymous admirer gave him an unofficial voice on Twitter, where he trades notes with Brown staffers and promotes a line of merchandise, ostensibly to help close the state's budget deficit. Among his more than 1,300 followers are the governor and his wife, legislative aides, political consultants and lawmakers — including Republicans who have little in common with Brown.

"I dig the corgi," said one of those followers, state Sen. Doug LaMalfa, a Richvale Republican. "Sutter might be a good ambassador here to keep conversations from breaking down."

The leader of the Senate's minority Republicans, Bob Dutton, is a dog-lover from Rancho Cucamonga. He's so fond of Sutter that he carried the canine to a GOP caucus meeting last month. Earlier, Sutter had parked himself at Dutton's feet while the lawmaker and Brown discussed the budget.

"He's a cute little guy," Dutton said. "These are not real pleasant times for anybody. Sutter kind of makes you feel like it will be all right."

Some lobbyists apparently agree. While Sutter was taking a walk last week, Paula Treat, an energy and tribal lobbyist, squealed at the sight of him and crouched down to pet him.

Like a seasoned politician, Sutter was unmoved until she dangled something he wanted. She broke out a bag of fat-free liver snacks, and Sutter was soon on his back, basking in a belly rub.

With Brown still seeking Republican support for his plan to put billions of dollars in tax extensions on the ballot, he joked about Sutter's early years on an Idaho farm, herding cattle.

"He likes to make sure everybody's together," Brown said. "He's a role model for more collaborative living."

The governor has also suggested other ways for the corgi to pass the time.

When the California Republican Party challenged Brown recently to debate anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist at its convention, the governor declined.

He offered to send Sutter instead.

Animal 'Hoarding' Often Tied to Mental Illness

As many as 250,000 animals a year may suffer unintentional abuse, neglect in U.S., experts say

FRIDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- A small army of animal welfare workers spent nearly 10 hours removing hundreds of sick and dying animals from a rural North Carolina property in one of the United States' larger animal-hoarding cases.
More than 400 animals -- 17 species in all, ranging from ducks and rabbits to dogs and cats -- had been living in squalor with a middle-aged couple claiming to be animal rescuers. Yet these would-be saviors provided little, if any, food, water, or medical care.

"Every section of the property inspected was just more deplorable and just more hideous than the last one," recalled Shelley Swaim, an animal welfare inspector for the state, who was on the scene that day three years ago.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of cases of animal hoarding are believed to occur each year throughout the nation. While hoarders tend to be women, the compulsion to possess large numbers of animals beyond the ability to properly care for them crosses all age, gender, professional and financial boundaries.

Some of these hoarders suffer from significant mental health issues, and the phenomenon is as much a people problem as a pet problem.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, a California-based animal rights law organization, believes hoarding is the number-one crisis facing companion animals today because of the sheer number of animals affected (an estimated 250,000 annually) and the degree and duration of their suffering.

What separates animal hoarding from other types of cruelty is that the chronic neglect usually is unintentional. The vast majority of hoarders love the animals and try to care for them, but often have very limited insight into the nature and extent of their problem, explained hoarding expert Gail Steketee, a professor and dean at Boston University School of Social Work.

"This is one of the more disturbing aspects of their behavior," she said. "They can look at a group of animals who are sick and emaciated and declare that they are taking good care of them."

While this might be a defensive response to threats made by authorities to remove the animals, she said it seems more deeply rooted. "Once the number of animals has overwhelmed their ability to provide adequate food, shelter and veterinary care, they cannot admit the need for help," said Steketee.

Steketee and colleagues recently interviewed animal hoarders for a study and found that many came from chaotic childhood environments and had problems with early attachment experiences with the parental figures in their lives. They also had more mental health concerns and dysfunctional relationships as adults.

"It is a sad situation because they began with the best of intentions and have failed to meet these," said Steketee. "They deserve our concern, not our wrath, unless they are among the few who are actively cruel toward animals."

Some social workers and veterinarians hope the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, slated for release in May 2013, will include an entry on hoarding. Recognition as a distinct disorder in this reference book will give the mental health community a better understanding of the problem and spur more treatment and resources, these advocates say.

With millions of unwanted pets nationwide, amassing large numbers of dogs, cats, and other sentient creatures isn't difficult. Experts say some hoarders develop a reputation as someone who will accept unwanted pets, or the animals they already own breed year after year. Others actively seek animals from shelters and individuals by perusing print and online classified ads and adoption websites.

Some hoarders also create websites to masquerade as reputable rescue organizations in order to obtain animals, said Gary Patronek, veterinarian and vice president for animal welfare at the Animal Rescue League of Boston.

"There are cases where people are engaging in very formal, large scale efforts and they're actively recruiting to get more and more animals in, when they can't care for the ones they've got, so that's a disturbing trend," Patronek added.

To combat the problem of animal hoarding, a few communities, including Kern County, Calif., and Lee County, Fla., have established task forces to bring together the necessary agencies, including animal and child protection organizations, law enforcement, social services and public health departments.

Trained disaster response teams, run by at least four national animal welfare organizations, are often dispatched to hoarding cases to assist in the rescue and rehabilitation of animals.

Still, many communities struggle to handle these very complicated cases, said Patronek.

"If someone suspects children are not being cared for properly, we certainly don't wait until they're living in absolute filth, or starving, or sick with disease or dying before we go in and do something," Patronek said.

But, that's what happens to animals, he points out, because cruelty laws are crafted to punish people for committing crimes. So if a hoarder is unwilling to co-operate, he said, authorities must wait until a crime takes place, meaning the animals are abused enough or neglected enough, before taking action.

"None of the laws were written to really address this kind of problematic behavior where people accumulate vastly more animals than they have the capacity to care for," he said.

Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others


Mark Bittman on food and all things related.

It’s time to take a look at the line between “pet” and “animal.” When the ASPCA sends an agent to the home of a Brooklyn family to arrest one of its members for allegedly killing a hamster, something is wrong.

That “something” is this: we protect “companion animals” like hamsters while largely ignoring what amounts to the torture of chickens and cows and pigs. In short, if I keep a pig as a pet, I can’t kick it. If I keep a pig I intend to sell for food, I can pretty much torture it. State laws known as “Common Farming Exemptions” allow industry — rather than lawmakers — to make any practice legal as long as it’s common. “In other words,” as Jonathan Safran Foer, the author of “Eating Animals,” wrote me via e-mail, “the industry has the power to define cruelty. It’s every bit as crazy as giving burglars the power to define trespassing.”

Meanwhile, there are pet police. So when 19-year-old Monique Smith slammed her sibling’s hamster on the floor and killed it, as she may have done in a fit of rage last week, an ASPCA agent — there are 18 of them, busily responding to animal cruelty calls in the five boroughs and occasionally beyond — arrested her. (The charges were later dropped, though Ms. Smith spent a night in jail at Rikers Island.)

In light of the way most animals are treated in this country, I’m pretty sure that ASPCA agents don’t need to spend their time in Brooklyn defending rodents.

In fact, there’s no rationality to be found here. Just a few blocks from Ms. Smith’s home, along the M subway line, the city routinely is poisoning rodents as quickly and futilely as it possibly can, though rats can be pets also. But that’s hardly the point. This is: we “process” (that means kill) nearly 10 billion animals annually in this country, approximately one-sixth of the world’s total.

Many if not most of these animals are raised (or not, since probably a couple of hundred million are killed at birth) industrially, in conditions that the philosopher Peter Singer and others have compared to concentration camps. Might we more usefully police those who keep egg-laying hens in cages so small the birds can’t open their wings, for example, than anger-management-challenged young people accused of hamstercide?

Yet Ms. Smith was charged as a felon, because in New York (and there are similar laws in other states) if you kick a dog or cat or hamster or, I suppose, a guppy, enough to “cause extreme physical pain” or do so “in an especially depraved or sadistic manner” you may be guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals, as long as you do this “with no justifiable purpose.”

But thanks to Common Farming Exemptions, as long as I “raise” animals for food and it’s done by my fellow “farmers” (in this case, manufacturers might be a better word), I can put around 200 million male chicks a year through grinders (graphic video here), castrate — mostly without anesthetic — 65 million calves and piglets a year, breed sick animals (don’t forget: more than half a billion eggs were recalled last summer, from just two Iowa farms) who in turn breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria, allow those sick animals to die without individual veterinary care, imprison animals in cages so small they cannot turn around, skin live animals, or kill animals en masse to stem disease outbreaks.

All of this is legal, because we will eat them.

We have “justifiable purposes”: pleasure (or, at this point, habit, because eating is hardly a pleasure if you do it in your car, or in 10 minutes), convenience — there are few things more filling per dollar than a cheeseburger — and of course corporate profits. We should be treating animals better and raising fewer of them; this would naturally reduce our consumption. All in all, a better situation for us, the animals, the world.

Arguing for the freedom to eat as much meat as you want is equivalent to arguing for treating farm animals as if they could not feel pain. Yet no one would defend Ms. Smith’s cruel action because it was a pet and therefore not born to be put through living hell.

Is it really that bad? After all, a new video from Smithfield, the world’s largest pork producer, makes industrial pig-raising seem like a little bit of heaven. But undercover videos from the Humane Society of the United States tell quite a different story, and a repulsive one. It also explains why we saw laws proposed by friends of agribusiness in both Iowa and Florida in recent weeks that would ban making such videos: the truth hurts, especially if you support the status quo.

Our fantasy is that until the industrial era domesticated animals were treated decently. Maybe that’s true, and maybe it isn’t; but certainly they weren’t turned out by the tens of thousands as if they were widgets.

We’re finally seeing some laws that take the first steps toward generally ameliorating cruelty to farm animals, and it’s safe to say that most of today’s small farmers and even some larger ones raise animals humanely. These few, at least, are treated with as much respect as the law believes we should treat a hamster.

For the majority of non-pets, though, it’s tough luck.

Visit my blog, where you can find out more about my columns, or what I just cooked. You can also join me on Facebook or Twitter.