Saturday, January 29, 2011

Merrick mystery recall confirmed: Jr. Texas Taffy Pet Treats

In the fast-paced world of now-we-see-it, now-we-don't information, I was surprised this morning to find dead links when I clicked on a story that had been posted to Facebook about the recall of Merrick Jr. Texas Taffy pet treats due to possible salmonella contamination. As quickly as the link went up on the FDA's website, it went down, and eventually I saw this post on the Pet Connection with a link to a recall notice with an incorrect date of January 28, 2010.

According to the Pet Connection, Merrick eventually put out their own release about this recall, so we know that it is current.  Please do not feed the following products to your dogs:

Merrick Jr. Texas Taffy pet treat (ITEM # 27077, UPC # 02280827077, All Lots up to and including 10364).

If you have these products, please return them to the store at which they were purchased.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ohio: Support HB 14 to Stop Breed Discrimination

From Best Friends Animal Society comes this call to legislative action for Ohio:

Ohio is the only state that summarily deems a breed of dog “vicious.” Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Sylvania) hopes to end canine profiling in Ohio and has introduced HB14, which would strike the provision that calls all pit bulls vicious.

Sears explains that pit bulls aren’t the first to be declared vicious: "In the 1970s, it was the German shepherd. In the 1980s, it was the Doberman. In the 1990s, it was the Rottweiler. We shouldn't put something in permanent law that is a moving target.” Instead of targeting specific breeds, she says, the law should focus on reckless owners of dangerous dogs.

Full post here:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Art for a Cause

Project: Create a large mural to hang on the exterior of a building in the Canton, OH Arts District. The mural will have a focus of raising awareness about the connections between animal maltreatment, child abuse and domestic violence. The mural image will have a positive focus, featuring a child with a dog and a cat, serving to remind us of the riches we have in helping those who are most vulnerable in society.

The artist needs funds to complete the project.  Click here if you'd like to find out how you can help.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Minnesota Action Alert: Rabies Rule Planned

This just in from the Rabies Challenge Fund

MINNESOTA -- Action Alert The Board of Animal Health is planning a statewide rabies rule (please copy and paste links into browser if they do not work by clicking on them). Below is the letter faxed to the State Veterinarian on behalf of the The Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust.

What You Can Do to Help:

Contact State Veterinarian, Dr. Hartman 651-296-2942 and legislators requesting them to create a protocol requiring pets to be vaccinated according to rabies vaccine manufacturers' label instructions beginning at the age of 6 months and to include a medical exemption clause for animals too sick to be vaccinated. Ask all Minnesota pet owners to do the same.


January 17, 2011

Dr. Bill Hartmann, State Veterinarian
Minnesota Board of Animal Health
625 Robert Street North
St. Paul, MN 55155

RE: Rabies Vaccination Rulemaking for Minnesota Pets

Greetings Dr. Hartmann:

It has come to our attention that the Minnesota Board of Animal Health is in the process of developing a rabies vaccination rule for Minnesota’s dogs, cats, and ferrets to establish a consistent rabies protocol throughout the state.

The Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust respectfully requests that your Department consider drafting the new rule based, in part, on the language contained in Florida’s rabies statute, Title XLVI Chapter 828, and that initial vaccination be required at the age of six (6) months as in the protocols of Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, and West Virginia. Florida, along with the states of Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin all have medical exemption clauses in their rabies regulations for animals deemed by a veterinarian to be too ill to be vaccinated, and we request that Minnesota’s new regulation include a similar exemption.

Below is proposed language that The Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust asks that you consider in your deliberations:

(1) All dogs, cats, and ferrets 6 months of age or older must be vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian against rabies with a vaccine that is licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture for use in those species. The owner of every dog, cat, and ferret shall have the animal revaccinated 12 months after the initial vaccination. Thereafter, the interval between vaccinations shall conform to the vaccine manufacturer's directions. The cost of vaccination must be borne by the animal's owner.

(2) A dog, cat, or ferret is exempt from vaccination against rabies if a licensed veterinarian has examined the animal and has certified in writing that at the time vaccination would endanger the animal's health because of its age, infirmity, disability, illness, or other medical considerations. An exempt animal must be vaccinated against rabies as soon as its health permits.

(3) Upon vaccination against rabies, the licensed veterinarian shall provide the animal's owner and the animal control authority with a rabies vaccination certificate. Each animal control authority and veterinarian shall use the "Rabies Vaccination Certificate" of the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) or an equivalent form approved by the local government that contains all the information required by the NASPHV Rabies Vaccination Certificate. The veterinarian who administers the rabies vaccine to an animal as required under this section may affix his or her signature stamp in lieu of an actual signature.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please feel free to contact me.


Kris L. Christine
Founder & Co-Trustee
The Rabies Challenge Fund

cc: Dr. W. Jean Dodds
Dr. Ronald Schultz
Minnesota Legislature

Saturday, January 15, 2011

California: CVMA to campaign against unlicensed services

VIN News posted an interesting story last month:
The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is preparing a crusade against unlicensed veterinary medical activities such as anesthesia-free teeth cleaning for dogs and cats, ultrasound pregnancy testing of livestock and physical rehabilitation for animals of all sorts.

The planned campaign aims to warn animal owners and producers of the dangers of unlicensed veterinary care, as well as clarify and toughen regulations and sanctions against those who practice veterinary medicine without a license.
The campaign will target activities which, according to the CVMA, have the potential to harm pets when not done in a proper veterinary setting or by licensed professionals.  

In practice, the state is historically unenthusiastic when it comes to addressing these activities:
In California, the veterinary medical board can issue cease-and-desist letters to known violators and issue fines up to $1,500 for unauthorized practice. That’s where it ends unless the state attorney general's office, serving as the CVMB's legal counsel, prosecutes the case — a rare occurrence in The Golden State.

In the past six months, for example, the CVMB issued five citations involving the practice of unlicensed veterinary medicine, but could not convince a district attorney to prosecute a single case.
One might wonder whether this is a case of the CVMA taking a stand to protect pets, or taking a stand to protect veterinary income.   Dental hygiene, in particular, seems to be a longstanding thorn in the paw for the CVMA. These procedures, as performed by vets, are both expensive and risky, yet many owners are reluctant to perform daily dental care on their pets.

The rationale for targeting these hygienic procedures seems to be that dental hygiene sessions are opportunities for vets to find and treat oral disease:

Dr. Ronald Kelpe, a veterinarian in Rancho Santa Margarita, has particular concerns about anethesia-free dental care. Under California law, hygienists are allowed to brush and floss teeth but cannot use any other instruments such as scaling devices in animals’ mouths.

“In the last month, I have seen two dogs who came in whose teeth were spit polished, but mobile and painful," he said. "We took radiographs of the mouth and teeth, and in both cases, more than 12 teeth had to be removed.”

The problem, said Kelpe, is that dental conditions aren't being detected or managed properly by those who aren't trained to practice veterinary medicine.

“People feel that they got a good deal because the dog’s mouth looks clean and the breath smells better,” Kelpe said. “The (cleaner) got the obvious calculus on the crown removed, but it’s what’s under the gum line where the problem starts and finishes.

But is it fair to suggest that a fundamentally hygienic procedure only be performed under the supervision of a trained veterinarian? Using that logic, couldn't the CVMA extend this campaign out to, say, groomers, targeting them because they are not trained to diagnose and treat diseases of the skin and nails that might be observable during a grooming session, or because they use sharp instruments which may gouge the skin or cut into the nail quick?

Exactly when does a hygienic procedure become a veterinary procedure? Should the public have the right to an alternative?  What do you think?

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mississippi: Support bill to make torturing pets a felony

From the Mississippi Clarion Ledger:
Senate Pro Tempore Billy Hewes, R-Gulfport, is sponsoring legislation that would make the deliberate torture, mutilation, maiming or burning of a pet dog or cat a first-offense felony.
Under Senate Bill 2127, penalties are a prison sentence of up to five years and a maximum $10,000 fine.
Such a bill passed the Senate last year but died in the House Agriculture Committee.
Asked what might make the difference this session, Hewes said, "public passion. "I've been hearing from Mississippians everywhere about this legislation."
Mississippi is one of four states and the only state in the South with no felony law that punishes acts of cruelty against dogs and cats.

If you live in Mississippi and would like to voice your support for this bill, please go to the Mississippi State Legislature page and contact your representatives to ask them to vote for SB 2127.


Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Are flea control products slowly killing our pets?

Are the flea and tick products we use really safe for our pets?  How would we know?  If you or I ingest something toxic, we can complain about how we feel and maybe go to the doctor or ER if it's serious enough.  Our pets, however, rely on us to read telltale signs of distress that may not be readily apparent, or that may look like other problems.  They can't tell us if something isn't right.

Long term, low level exposure to toxic substances can weaken a pet's immune system and cause it to attack the healthy cells and organs in a pet's body.  This is called autoimmune or immune-mediated disease.  It can have many causes, but flea products, along with other toxic substances we put in and on our pets (like vaccines), are a leading concern.

There's an interesting article about flea products today in the, which describes the gradual nature of the harm that can be done by repeated use of flea and tick control products.
The problem is that ‘spot-on’ products may not harm or kill pets or humans with the initial exposure, or even after several exposures. Exposed in this way it takes longer for the negative effects – often due to and continual assault on a animal’s immune system - to reveal themselves. Vigilance is required because the health issues for flea and tick treatments are the same as with pesticide exposure to those living close to farmland, or those who use pesticides in their homes: small chronic exposures add up.

But because low dose exposures act like slow motion poison, the pesticide industry continues to mislead the public, and the government regulatory agencies, by insisting that there is no scientific proof showing a definite cause and effect link between pesticide exposure and illness in either pets or humans.

Read the full article here. 

For my own pets, I do use flea products, but I use them sparingly.  I treat--once--at the first sign of fleas, using a combination of spot products and a pill (Program) which work together; one kills the adult fleas that are living on my pets, and the other prevents adult and larval fleas in the environment from reproducing.  I've found this to be an extremely effective, double edged approach that eliminates the need for repeated exposure to these toxins.  Once I've treated my pets with these products, it takes about a month for all the adult and larval fleas to die off,  Once they do, we are flea free, and we stay that way for several years.  I don't treat again until the next time fleas appear.

UK: RSPCA calls attention to cat deaths due to antifreeze, seeks public support

Quoting from
"The animal welfare charity is calling on the public and all antifreeze manufacturers to ensure that this winter does not have fatal consequences for cats.
Following the tragic case of five cats dying in from antifreeze poisoning on the same day in Norwich on 30 December, the RSPCA is renewing its plea for the public to take extra care when using the product.
Every year, the Society picks up the pieces from too many cases where cats are believed to have been poisoned by antifreeze."
It's not just cats that can die from drinking antifreeze; dogs and wildlife are also killed by the substance, so much so that the state of Utah in the United States has mandated that antifreeze sold in the state contain a bittering agent to make it unattractive to animals.

Read entire article here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Petition: Tell Delta Airlines to take responsibility for lost pets

Delta airlines continues to lose pets in airports and elsewhere at an alarming rate, while obfuscating their role in these pet loss disasters.

Please consider signing this petition to tell them to take responsibility for these losses.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Researching advice: Why it's so important

Today being Sunday, I thought it might be appropriate to repost something I originally wrote for another blog back in September of 2010. The message is important enough to bear repeating, as it has to do with making sure the advice you are given by companies that sell pet foods and other products is sound advice.

Sometimes people overstep their capacity to advise, and we need to be cautious when seeking and following any advice, particularly when it comes from the untrained.


Sunday Pet Peeve

I just visited the Facebook page of a company that makes a premium dog food, of which I am quite fond. However, today I was dismayed to read a discussion there about feeding a variety of their products, which contain different protein sources, as a way to keep dogs interested in the food.

This probably isn't horrible advice in and of itself, but someone then asked about advice they'd been given by their veterinarian for their own dog, who is young but is beginning to show signs of food allergies (reacting to certain types of treats with hives and itching). She said she'd been told to stick with one kind of food and not to vary the dog's diet.

Here's the pet peeve part. The company spokesperson came on and told this person that a varied diet would be healthier for her dog.

I found myself compelled to post and express my dismay that a corporate spokesperson (whom I assume is not a veterinarian) would be giving veterinary advice to a customer, particularly advice that contradicts advice given by an actual vet. I then went on to explain that dogs who show allergic tendencies often end up needing to be fed a novel protein and the more proteins you expose them to while young, the more difficult it will be to find anything they can eat if the condition flares up. This is a common path to IBD in dogs, which is very serious and life-threatening.

Now, I'm not a vet myself, but I know this because I've had to deal with these issues in my own dogs (I have two that are atopic) and I know the horrors of trying to do an elimination diet trial with a dog that has eaten just about everything. Unless you want to be stuck feeding exotic proteins like venison or buffalo for the rest of your dog's life (and even those are not really novel to many diets anymore), you may want to stop and reconsider what you're putting on your sensitive dog's plate every day and what you and your sensitive dog will have to endure if you ever do find yourself on a search for a palatable protein.

The thing that really bugs me here is that the question was asked of a corporation, whose best interest is clearly served by getting you to purchase all their products, and that the corporation was all too happy to trot out the corporate line suggesting nothing could possibly go wrong as long as you feed THEIR products.

This is a company I've respected a great deal, whose products I have used and recommended. I still love their products, but I'm starting to believe that they've gotten a bit drunk with their own success.

Bottom line in this pet peeve of mine: If you have questions about your dog's health, and if you want an educated opinion, it's best to talk to vets, to do research on your own, and learn all you can about the condition in question in order to form your own, educated opinion using unbiased resources. We shouldn't be too trusting of those whose interests are served by providing a certain answer.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saturday Pet Blog Hop

Please take a look at some of these pet-related blogs.  We participate in the blog hop because networking is important if we're going to help make good things happen here.  I hope you will find some of these blogs interesting and informative enough to follow.

Tennessee: Aflatoxins found in grains used for recalled Kroger's pet food recently reported that elevated levels of aflatoxins have been found in the grains that were used to make the Kroger's pet food recalled in December, 2010. According to the site, a spokesman from the Tennesee Department of Agriculture stated, "We took finished samples and grain samples that were stored and used to make pet food. We did find some elevated levels in some grains stored there."

Aflatoxins are naturally occurring substances produced by fungi that live on grains, including corn. The toxins cause disease in the liver and can be extremely deadly.

One more reason to feed quality, grain-free food formulas to our pets, where possible.

More can be read about this story here:

and here: