Friday, June 27, 2008


LA Animal Services is suggesting pet owners get their pets licensed and micro-chipped before the 4th of July. More animals are lost during the 4th of July celebrations than at any other time of the year. Loud noises from fireworks frighten animals due to their heightened senses of hearing, and they will do anything to escape the noise. This behavior is usually unpredictable and out of character, and it may include chewing through a leash, jumping through screens and glass windows, digging under a fence, jumping over a wall, bolting away from the owner, and running into traffic.

The good news is that there are many things you can do to help ensure your pet's protection. Just follow these six simple guidelines to make July 4th a great holiday for both of you!

· Don’t take your pet to fireworks displays. The explosions of the fireworks are loud to the human ear. Imagine how loud it sounds to your dog, who can hear sounds up to 60,000 cycles per second -- that's three times greater than the human ear can even register.

· Do not leave your pet in the car. With only hot air to breathe inside a car, your pet can suffer serious health effects, even death, in a few short minutes. Partially opened windows do not provide sufficient air, but do provide an opportunity for your pet to be stolen. This practice is also illegal in the state of California.

· Keep your pets indoors in a sheltered, quiet area. Some animals become destructive when frightened, so be sure you've removed any items your pet could destroy or may be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leave a television or radio playing at normal volume to keep him company while you're attending 4th of July picnics, parades, and other celebrations.

· If you know that your pet is seriously distressed by loud noises like thunder, consult with your veterinarian before July 4th for ways to help alleviate the fear and anxiety he or she will experience during fireworks displays.

· Never leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a chain. In their fear, pets who normally wouldn't leave the yard may escape and become lost, or become entangled in their chain, risking injury or death.

· Make sure your pets are wearing identification tags so that if they do become lost, they can be returned promptly. Animals found running at-large should be taken to the local animal care center, where they have the best chance of being reunited with their owners. Two forms of ID are always best when it comes to protecting your pet. If an individual finds your pet, the first thing he or she will look for is an ID tag. In LA, if your pet is taken to a shelter, he/she will be scanned for a microchip. LA Animal Services micro-chips pets for $25.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

AB 1634 Approved by California Senate Local Government Committee

An amended version of AB 1634 was passed through the Senate Local Government Committee yesterday with a 3-2 vote. The original bill required spaying and neutering of most pets in the state, with many common sense exceptions (similar to the ordinance we approved earlier this year here in Los Angeles). The bill now specifically targets dogs and cats who are the subject of complaints to animal control, fine-tuning enforcement, spay/neuter and penalty requirements.

Although the amended version of the bill does not go as far on spay/neuter as the previous version, supporters feel it certainly is a step forward for the state as a whole. Keep in mind that there are parts of California where the shelter kill rates approach 80% and the local political dynamics seem certain to prevent the passage of an ordinance even half as strong as what we now have in Los Angeles. Taking this big picture into account, and noting the enormous fiscal and emotional toll such kill rates take on both animals and people in California, even a small step in the right direction can be a big step.

Thanks are due to both Senator Gloria Negrete-McLeod and Assemblymember Lloyd Levine for working together to find common ground and allow this important bill to continue its journey towards law.

While having undergone significant changes as it moved through the legislative process, AB 1634 remains an important tool to help reduce the escalating cost of animal control in cities and counties throughout the State of California. This legislation will also alleviate some of the emotional distress caused by pet overpopulation.

AB 1634 now provides local animal control agencies useful discretion to resolve many of the vexing animal related problems we face and, for the first time, allows the local agency under certain circumstances to require the sterilization of animals being redeemed from public shelters by their owners.

The vast majority of the animal complaints we receive involve intact animals, including serious bites and attacks. AB 1634 has been transformed into a more finely tuned response that will help us target those animals that are clearly and indisputably a problem in our communities.

AB 1634 wisely allocates any funds collected under this law to be expended for the purpose of humane education and programs for low-cost spaying and neutering of dogs and cats.

The current version of the bill is a compromise, hand-crafted in the true political sense to provide some measure of relief from the pet population crisis in our communities without infringing on legitimate, responsible commerce, hobby breeding and pet ownership. Author Lloyd Levine believes it will prove to be the foundation for more statewide spay/neuter reforms in the future, and after a year-and-a-half of hard, often frustrating work, that’s progress.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

AB 1634: A Good Compromise by Dr. Allan Drusys, DVM

It has been many months, and this is not the draft anyone envisioned, but AB 1634 is back in business.

Wednesday, we will witness the bill's re-emergence after it was stalled in a Senate committee. Its rebirth may not please those who favor mandatory spay-and-neuter legislation, but who can find fault with the latest version?

It appears that Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Sherman Oaks, and the Senate co-sponsors, Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, and Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, have now fashioned the bill to reflect proven provisions originally set forth some nine years ago in SB 1785, known as the Hayden bill.

No longer will we waste time arguing over the appropriate age for pet sterilization and who can be a breeder. AB 1634 has been completely rewritten, and this version provides for an increasing series of fines resulting in possible pet sterilization upon the second cat impound or the third impound of a dog.

The fines ($50 and $100) are approximately twice what the existing Hayden bill calls for, yet the initial fines can be waived if the pet is sterilized within 14 days. On its third impound, the offending dog will not be released to the owner until it is spayed or neutered.

Another section of AB 1634 addresses complaints. Here the authors provide an identical fine structure for owners who do not abide by existing state and local animal regulations. Eventual sterilization of multiple violators (the pets, not the owners) is also called for.

Why is this a good deal?

Well, only those owners who do not take care of their animals will be subjected to the provisions of AB 1634. Most will have no one to blame but themselves if they do not have a kennel permit or if their animals are picked up while unlicensed.

Please, do not think the fines will revert to the state. Any funds collected under this law shall be expended for the purpose of humane education and programs for low-cost spaying and neutering of dogs and cats.

In contrast to mandatory spay and neuter, described as draconian by some groups, this approach places the burden solely where it belongs: on the pet owner.

AB 1634 is not ideal, but it is a workable compromise, hand-crafted in the true political sense, to provide some measure of relief from the pet population tsunami without infringing on commerce, hobby breeding or pet ownership.

Allan Drusys is chief veterinarian with Riverside County's Department of Animal Services.

Monday, June 23, 2008


A recent edition of “Oprah” focused national attention on the unfortunate phenomenon called the “puppy mill.” A puppy mill is a dog-breeding operation intended to provide a non-stop supply of often purebred puppies to a public that seems to have an insatiable appetite for them, an appetite that has created a situation ripe for abuse.

Puppy mills force dogs to produce litter after litter just for profit. These dogs and their puppies are often plagued with suffering, resulting from disease, malnutrition, and loneliness. Oprah Winfrey’s intrepid investigative reporter found bitches who, when rescued from these unconscionable conditions, could barely walk after living a life of immobilized confinement. Most people don't know that when they buy a puppy from a pet shop, a newspaper ad or from the internet, they are often supporting a cruel and inhumane industry. We owe these dogs the favor of educating ourselves and others about the reality of puppy mills.

No matter what kind of dog we desire, we can’t let ourselves be duped. We must resist buying a puppy from a pet store, newspaper ad or website, where dogs from puppy mills are typically sold. Still, the temptations are difficult ones.

It’s easy to gaze into the sad eyes of the puppy in the pet store window and want to "rescue" the lonely pooch...

Or you read an ad in the newspaper, and the couple seems so trustworthy, with their decades of experience breeding dogs...

You find a website with photos of green hills and beautiful puppies that insist the "little darlings" and "bundles of joy" were born in paradise and will only be sold to "loving families"...

But watch out! A cruel, mass dog-breeding facility could hide behind each of these scenarios. Even if you missed Oprah’s exposé, most likely you've heard about these puppy factories. Puppy mills frequently house dogs in shockingly poor conditions, particularly for the "breeding stock" animals who are caged and continually bred for years, without human companionship, and then killed, abandoned or sold to another "miller" after their fertility wanes. These adult dogs are bred repeatedly to produce litter after litter, without the prospect of ever becoming part of a family themselves. In addition to an abused mother (and we’ve occasionally seen heartbreaking examples of abandoned overbred females come into the City shelters), the result is hundreds of thousands of puppies churned out each year for sale at pet stores, over the internet, and through newspaper ads. This practice will end only when people stop buying these puppy mill puppies.

Buyer Beware!

If you want a dog in your life, please don't buy a puppy mill puppy. Unfortunately, avoiding them requires discipline and awareness. Pet store clerks and other sellers will never willingly admit their dogs come from puppy mills, despite laws that require retailers to clearly and accurately identify the source of the animals they have for sale so that customers can take it into consideration. How do you separate fact from fiction? Here are the facts:

1. Pet stores cater to impulsive buyers and consumers seeking convenient transactions. Unlike responsible rescuers and breeders, these stores don't interview prospective buyers to ensure responsible, lifelong homes for the pets they sell, and the stores may be staffed by employees with limited knowledge about pets and pet care.

2. A "USDA-inspected" breeder does not mean a "good" breeder. Be wary of claims by pet store staff that they sell animals only from breeders who are "USDA-inspected." The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) enforces the federal law called the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which regulates commercial breeding operations. But the act doesn't require all commercial breeders to be licensed, and the USDA establishes only minimum-care standards in enforcing this law and its inspection team is chronically understaffed. Breeders are required to provide food, water, and shelter, but not love, socialization, or freedom from confining cages. Sadly, many USDA-licensed and inspected puppy mills operate under squalid conditions with known violations of the AWA. But federal law constrains state and local authorities from blocking the shipping and sale of these animals across state lines, and current efforts to regulate their importation from overseas leave something to be desired, placing that much more of a burden on the customer to make the right choices.

3. Many disreputable breeders sell their dogs directly to the public over the Internet and through newspaper ads. They often sell several breeds of dogs, but may advertise each breed in a separate place and not in one large advertisement or website. These breeders are not required to be inspected by any federal agency and, in many states, are not inspected at all.

4. Reputable breeders care where their puppies go and interview prospective adopters. They don't sell through pet stores or to families they haven't thoroughly checked out.

5. Purebred "papers" do not guarantee the quality of the breeder or the dog. Even the American Kennel Club (AKC) readily admits that it "cannot guarantee the quality or health of dogs in its registry."

6. Puppy mill puppies often have medical problems. These problems can lead to veterinary bills in the thousands of dollars. But pet retailers count on the bond between families and their new puppies being so strong that the puppies won't be returned (though the law requires them to accept returns). And guarantees are often so difficult to comply with that they are virtually useless. In addition, poor breeding and socialization practices at many puppy mills can lead to behavioral problems throughout the puppies' lives. In the event a puppy purchased from a store does experience medical problems, the buyer should file a Pet Seller Complaint Form.

I can’t say this enough: If you’re looking for an animal to join your family, you should not buy from a pet store, and you should be very wary of websites and newspaper ads. Above all, don't ever buy a dog if you can't physically visit every area of the home or breeding facility where the seller keeps the dog.

Puppy mills will continue to operate until people stop buying their dogs. Putting them out of business should be a goal of every dog lover (and we should be so fortunate as to be faced with the dilemma of what to do with the mothers and puppies left to deal with if and when we succeed). We urge you to visit your local shelter or to do business with a respectable rescue individual or organization. You are likely to find a wide selection of healthy, well-socialized puppies and adult dogs—including purebreds—just waiting for that special home—yours.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cats as Pets

Interview with Leslie Lyons Associate Professor, School of Veterinary Medicine UC Davis

Mike Carruthers:
Cats have now equaled and in some places now surpassed dogs as the most popular house pet - and they are fascinating creatures.

Leslie Lyons:
Whether it's a tiger or whether it's a little house cat they still mark the house the same way, they'll use their claws the same way, they roll over in the sun, how they interact with one another is also very similar. So your house cat is like having a little wild individual in your own home.

Leslie Lyons, Associate Professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis, is featured on the National Geographic channel's explorer program called Science of Cats, which debuts Tuesday June 10th.

Well I think really to stand back and look at a cat, one realizes what a nearly perfect animal this is. They have a wonderful sense of hearing, actually at higher ranges than dogs do. Their sense of smell is also very keen but they also have a very keen sense of eyesight. So they have a very excellent balance of all their senses.

And here's something interesting to remember; the next time you see a brown cat...

That cat is not brown at all. If you actually pull out some of the cat's fur, the fur is banded black, yellow, black. And so all of the cats you look out there and see that are brown - they really don't have brown pigment at all, they're an optical illusion.

At I'm Mike Carruthers and that's Something You Should Know.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Police dogs are civil servants, Norwegian supreme court rules

Thu Jun 5, 12:26 PM ET

Police dogs should be considered civil servants and any acts of violence against them therefore merits the same punishment as attacks on human police officers, Norway's Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

"The police officer and dog work ... as a single unit and ... an attack on the dog must be viewed in the same manner as an attack on the officer," the court said in its ruling.

The case dates back to May 19, 2007, when a man breaking into a house in the western town of Bergen was chased down by police dog Vera. Once he was on the ground and was being placed in handcuffs, he struck the German Shepherd.

The man was found guilty of attempted burglary, but was freed in two lower courts on charges that he had attacked a civil servant. Those verdicts were overturned by Thursday's ruling.

"Resorting to violence against a police dog being used to assist in an official operation in the line of duty, and who is under the immediate control of the officer, clearly falls under the article" 127 of the Norwegian penal code protecting civil servants, the court said.

The defendant, whose name was not given, thereby risks up to three years behind bars.

The Supreme Court did not hand down a sentence, but ordered the Appeals Court to re-examine the case.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Dutch government to lift 25-year ban on pit bulls

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP); The Dutch government says it will lift a long-standing ban on pit bulls because it did not lead to any decrease in bite incidents.

Agriculture Minister Gerda Verburg has informed parliament of the decision, which follows the advice of a commission of experts appointed to review the policy.

Instead, the country will focus on enforcing local leashing laws and owner education programs.

Spokesman Koen Geelink said Monday the ministry hopes to have a new policy in place by year-end, in which dogs that have displayed aggression will be tested by an expert.

The country banned the breeding and possession of pit bulls in 1993, after three children were killed by the dogs.