Dog News November Round Up

Here's our round up of dogs making the news in the month of November 2010.

New App For Guide Dogs

Caroline Shields, Signature Events Manager for Guide Dogs said, 'this app will be the first of its kind for Guide Dogs (in Europe) and will make us one of the first UK charities to launch into such an important emerging channel.   It will help us target a new audience as well as build a community within the digital world.'  It will also drive awareness of the relatively new project go walkies for Guide Dogs, which aims to become the largest sponsored dog walk in the UK within the next three years. The app is simple to use and VI accessible, and there are no other apps that perform its main functions available in the UK.  Best of all it's FREE!

Anti-Puppy Farm Group Hits Out At RSPCA

The anti puppy farm campaign group, Puppy Love has hit out at what it perceives as a lack of action from the RSPCA in responding to reports of dogs being kept in conditions contravening the (heavily RSPCA backed) 2006 Animal Welfare Act.

The following is a transcript report from Puppy Love, detailing a disturbing event relating to reports of what appears to be a puppy farm keeping dogs in unacceptable conditions.

"On 27th Oct 2010 during our investigations following up a complaint made to us from a member of the public, we came across an unlicensed dog breeder in Ceredigion, South Wales. Approximately 70 plus dogs were being kept in appalling conditions on unattended property in Llanddeiniol .

Some dogs needed veterinary treatment for conditions which were clearly visible. The dogs had no food or water, some were living on top of months if not years of excrement. Not one dog had a bed to lay on and one shed housing dogs had no door so was open to the elements. There were also Labradors outside in a open run, living in their own excreta, with no inside shelter.

At 3-34 pm on Wednesday 27th Oct 2010 we called the RSPCA to report the conditions the dogs were living in and made it very clear they needed urgent help.

At 8.30am on the Friday 29th Oct 2010, having heard nothing from the RSPCA we informed the police that we had been to an abandoned property and that the owner maybe deceased inside the house. The police attended the scene and ascertained there was no deceased person but they were dismayed at the sight of the Labradors on the yard so the officer decided to inspect the rest of the premises and discovered the other dogs, he then took photographic evidence.

He returned our call at 10-35 telling us what he had found, during that call he informed us that while at the premises he had called RSPCA. we then confirmed that we had also called RSPCA but they had not attended our call. The officer agreed with us that what he had seen contravened every one of the Animal Welfare Act’s Five Freedoms . We re-rang RSPCA at 12-45 pm and informed them if they did not attend we would call in the media. At 1-16 we had a call from Barbara Pryce Jones, Ceredigion animal welfare officer, who informed us she was on her way to the premises as she had just had call from RSPCA asking her to attend .

On Saturday she went back to the site with a vet and we were told by phone that it had been decided that some dogs, not all, should be removed to another premises owned by Mr Davies. This premises has no planning permission for kennels, neither is it licensed.

Since that phone call our Welsh co -ordinator has spoken to Ms Pryce Jones again to be told the dogs that were removed are in a place of safety in licensed premises which is a complete turn around to her first statement. Also 40 dogs are still in the care of their abuser, how shocking is that? We asked if a prosecution for animal cruelty would take place but her response left us very doubtful.

So who do we turn to when we find dogs that need desperate help, we understand if the premises are licensed then its the local authority who should be informed but that if unlicensed then the RSPCA should be the first port of call. Well we tried and we and the dogs have been failed by the RSPCA and now it seems dogs may also to be failed by the council!

We are just a group of concerned volunteers who do our very best to raise public awareness to the plight of puppy farm dogs and to report what we find to the attention of those who are meant to help. If we cannot get support from the richest animal welfare charity in England and Wales where do we go? We run on a shoestring, they have millions of pounds at their disposal and yet for 3 full days they did nothing and to date have still not visited the scene . When they did act they handed the case on to a local authority who very rarely remove dogs to safety. The end result is that some dogs have been removed to who knows where and 40 dogs are still with their abuser . Thanks for nothing RSPCA, shame on you!!"

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Human-Dog Bond Initiative Launched

A new initiative, the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation (HABRI Foundation), was outlined during the Petailing 2010 Leadership Conference.

"The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation (HABRI Foundation), with the support of the initial HABRI Foundation Founding Sponsors, PETCO and the American Pet Products Association (APPA), is being formed to support federal research that will provide important scientific evidence of what we all recognize, that there are tremendous health benefits for humans from their relationships with their pets," said Bob Vetere, President, APPA and President of HABRI Foundation.

"The Founding Sponsors, APPA and PETCO, recognize that there is increasing research and interests of our customers across the country on issues and activities relating to The Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation," said Vetere. "HABRI Foundation is a broad-based coalition of organizations and entities that will create a central database of scientific research, under the leadership of Dr. Alan Beck at Purdue University, on the human health benefits of companion animals as well as educate and inform Congress of the important role that our pets play in human health," Vetere continued.

"Over the next few weeks, HABRI Foundation will be reaching out to a wide range of companies, education leaders and other organizations that have an interest in and are interested in supporting human-animal bond research and understanding. We will be actively seeking their support and leadership on these important issues," Vetere added.

"The HABRI Foundation will be a positive, constructive and cost effective way to support our industry, our customers and our future customers through substantive research and education. The Foundation will share the results of this research about our pets and how they improve our health every day," Vetere concluded.

Temple Grandin talks about the bond between humans and dogs.

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Investigation Launched Into Mystery Canine Killer

Scientists need help from dog owners to identify cause of Seasonal Canine Illness.

A mystery illness which has claimed the lives of several dogs in Norfolk and Nottinghamshire is being investigated by the Animal Health Trust (AHT).

Read more…

The veterinary charity is appealing to dog owners who have walked their dogs on the Sandringham Estate, in Thetford Forest, in Clumber Park or Sherwood Forest since the beginning of August 2010, to help with the investigation.
Peter Webbon, Chief Executive of the AHT, said: “We need the help of dog owners to gather information about this mysterious seasonal illness which is causing a number of dogs to become seriously ill.

“The illness comes on very quickly, usually within 24 hours, and causes vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy. We are asking dog owners who have walked their dogs in any of the four sites to fill in a questionnaire – regardless of whether your dog was taken ill or not.”

It is very important for the charity to also hear from owners whose dogs didn’t get ill following walks at the sites. This will enable the AHT to discount various factors and, hopefully, lead to the identity of the mysterious dog killer.

Peter Webbon, added: “Without the help of dog owners we won’t get to the bottom of this. We really need people to fill in these questionnaires as soon as possible.

“There were cases of this illness at this time last year which ceased once the weather turned colder. We need to get information from people now so we can try to be better prepared next year.”

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RCVS Postpones Disciplinary Decision On Vet

The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has postponed judgment on sanction for 12 months in the case of a Hampshire veterinary surgeon found guilty of serious professional misconduct for cumulative failures to provide adequate professional care, and insufficient regard for animal welfare whilst treating a dog.

At a hearing which concluded on Thursday (19 November 2010), Peter Ardle MacMahon MRCVS faced a six-part charge after working as a locum for Vets Now at North End in Portsmouth where, on the night of 14/15 July 2009, he treated Wilfred, a Cocker Spaniel who had ingested broken glass along with raw mince.

The Committee found that, having decided that surgery was an appropriate treatment, Mr MacMahon had not removed the glass identified on a radiograph. Nor had he even superficially searched the stomach contents he had evacuated to check that a large piece of glass he had previously identified on the radiograph had been removed. He had also not taken adequate steps to prevent contamination of Wilfred's abdominal cavity prior to the incision to the stomach.

Mr MacMahon admitted he knew there had been considerable spillage of stomach contents into Wilfred's abdomen. The Committee found that, with this knowledge, for Mr MacMahon to use only 250ml of fluid to lavage the abdomen was inadequate. This contributed to the Spaniel developing chemical peritonitis which might have developed into septic peritonitis but for a second operation the next morning, after the dog had been returned to the care of his usual veterinary practice. The Committee also expressed concern that Mr MacMahon had failed to effectively communicate the abdominal contamination to Wilfred's usual vets when he was handed back into their care.

Taken as individual allegations, these would not, in the opinion of the Committee, constitute serious professional misconduct. However, the Committee was of the view that, taken cumulatively, the charges was proved, and therefore the treatment given to Wilfred, fell far short of the standard to be expected in the profession.

When considering mitigating and aggravating factors, the Committee accepted that Mr MacMahon and the veterinary nurse assisting him were unfamiliar with the premises in which they were working, resulting in a difficulty in locating important equipment, and there were also multiple urgent cases during the evening the operation took place. The Committee also noted that 17 months had passed since the operation, and no further complaints against Mr MacMahon had been received by the RCVS.

The Committee further took into account that Mr MacMahon had little recent experience, having returned to practising veterinary medicine in January 2009, following almost ten years spent outside the veterinary profession. During this hiatus he undertook no continuing professional development (CPD), and completed only a five-week period of supervised practice prior to re-entering the profession.

"The Respondent placed himself in this situation: he knew that he had been out of practice for ten years, had not done any formal CPD during that time and chose to accept an appointment to work as a locum in a sole-charge out-of-hours emergency clinic," said Mrs Caroline Freedman, Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee. "A foremost aggravating factor is that animal welfare was adversely affected. A non-critical patient was placed at risk by the Respondent's failures."

The Committee reiterated that the purpose of sanctions was not to be punitive, but to protect animal welfare, to maintain public confidence in the profession and to maintain professional standards. "A postponement of judgment, with suitable undertakings from the Respondent, is the correct course of action," said Mrs Freedman. Mr MacMahon has subsequently signed undertakings relating to CPD in both surgical and medical disciplines, and the Committee has postponed for 12 months its judgment as to any further sanction.

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Electronic Collar Makers Lose Ban Appeal

Wales’ Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, has welcomed today’s judgement in the Royal Courts of Justice in favour of her decision to ban the use of electronic shock collars for use on dogs and cats in Wales.

The legislation to ban the use of such devices was passed by the National Assembly for Wales in March 2010, and was subsequently challenged by the Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association. A judicial review hearing was held in October 2010.

Mr Justice Beatson today handed down judgement which agreed that the Welsh Assembly Government had acted properly in introducing the Animal Welfare (Electronic Collars) (Wales) Regulations 2010.

Elin Jones said:

“I welcome today’s judgement, which confirms that we correctly used our powers under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to introduce a ban on the use of electronic shock collars.

“The decision to ban the use of these shock collars came after three separate public consultations and notification to the European Commission. Legislation to implement the ban was passed unanimously by the National Assembly for Wales on 23 March 2010 and came into effect the following day.

”Today’s decision vindicates our careful approach in making these regulations. In Wales, reward-based training and control of animals is acceptable. The use of collars which deliver an electric shock to a dog or cat is not.”

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Shelter's Longest Residing Dog Finds Home

She may only have one eye, but Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’s longest-standing resident has finally found a home with a retired dog-lover from Middlesbrough.

David Norton travelled 250 miles this week to meet Olivia the Staffordshire Bull Terrier after seeing her on Battersea’s website and hoping he could give her the loving home she desperately needed.

Olivia came into the Home on 15 July 2009 after she was found by a dog warden as a stray near Battersea. Poor Olivia had received an injury to her right eye, which later had to be removed by Battersea vets, and had clearly suffered from a broken leg in the past. Because she was very stressed by life in kennels she was placed in a foster home, where she has spent the last year and a half.

So after 16 months of waiting, Olivia caught David’s attention. He was keen to get another dog after his previous Battersea dog Cleo died eight weeks ago, but he was looking for another very special canine companion. His former Battersea resident Cleo had a cleft palette, one eye, three quarters of a nose and no top lip, and she was well known by Battersea staff, as David frequently travelled from Middlesbrough with her to attend the Home’s regular fairs and events.

David explains: “I wanted to get another dog like Cleo, who was in desperate need of a home. I’ve always taken on the dogs people think of as the worst cases, but to me they are the ones who most need a home. When I saw Olivia online and read she only had one eye and was being fostered I knew she needed a loving home.”

Explaining his thoughts when he first saw Olivia, he says: “I knew she was right for me, as she just jumped up and was a bundle of fun. I felt empty when I lost Cleo, but I am really looking forward to having Olivia to look after.”

Awaiting Olivia in Middlesbrough is her new bed, but David admits she’ll be welcome to sleep on his bed. She will also enjoy long walks in the surrounding countryside.

Battersea Rehomer Heather Wise said: “It’s fantastic that Olivia has finally found a new home. It is always wonderful when an animal finds a new owner, but we are all especially pleased for Olivia, because she has waited such a long time for the perfect match. David travelled a long way to meet her, and we are very proud to rehome animals all over the country.”

Battersea would also like to thank Luci Rochia and her family, who fostered Olivia for a year and a half, dedicating immense time and effort to her training and care.

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