Recently a friend shared the news that one of her dogs had tested positive for Lymes disease. She was completely devastated and felt awful that her dog had gotten it in the first place. I immediately felt the need to respond and reassure her. Why? Because one of my dogs had/has Lymes disease too.
Jasper was diagnosed with Lymes disease a few years ago. Although, I caught it fairly early, I was still devastated to know that he had gotten it in the first place. Had I missed a Frontline treatment>? Had I missed a day. I was pretty sure I had given all my dogs regular treatment, but somehow a tick had still gotten past it. Thankfully, Jasper was easily treated with antibiotics, but unfortunately it also left him with occasional flare ups. Something I still awful about.
When my friend shared her story, I expected to be the only one admitting that my dog also had also gotten Lymes. Instead, I was surprised to discover that not only was I not alone, but I was not even one among two or three friends. My jaw dropped open as friend after friend admitted that their dog(s) had also gotten Lymes.
To say I was shocked would be an understatement. It never occurred to me that so many people I knew would have dogs who at one time had had Lymes disease too. All this time I had kept my own sense of failure to myself, thinking I had somehow failed my dog, but as it turns out I was not even close to alone. The question is why? Are we all negligent owners? I find that hard to believe. Some people are more diligent than others in applying some sort of protection on their dogs. So, how is it possible that so many of us had dogs who had at one time had Lymes?
Maybe this story on a new study holds some answers: When Dogs Are Most Likely to Pick Up Ticks.
I encourage you to read the full story, but here is a brief synopsis of what was in the piece:
- Dogs are much more likely to pick up ticks when the temperatures rise.
- There are three species of ticks that are most common and each tends to flourish at different times of the year.
- Although the precise species of tick may vary with the seasons, dog owners need to pay attention to the possibility of ticks throughout the year, especially from March until November.
- Scientists discovered that the number of ticks per day on animals treated with an acaricide, either alone or together with a repellent, was not significantly lower than on untreated animals. Worryingly, the ticks were still capable of causing disease.
- Of the 90 dogs in the study, researcher Michael Leschnik was able to show that over half of them became infected with one or more of the pathogens during the study period. The chance of being infected did not seem to be reduced by the use of an acaricide.
- However, the researcher did mention that “the poor performance of the drugs in our study may relate to low owner compliance: many owners only applied the spot-on drugs after finding ticks and they did not use the drugs often enough. The efficiency is much higher under laboratory conditions, so we should try to raise the owners’ awareness of how to apply the products correctly.”
- Unlike on humans, where ticks tend to crawl to a warm and protected place and feed, on dogs ticks tended to largely confine themselves to a dog’s head, shoulder and chest, most likely latching on where they first arrived.
So is Jasper’s Lymes disease a result of my negligence? Or, were his chances of getting it just as likely as any other dog? I suppose I will never really know, but seeing this study, and knowing how many people I know with dogs who at one time had Lymes disease, makes me wonder. Maybe Frontline isn’t enough. Maybe checking each and every time we return from the park or from a walk is the only way to be certain. It certainly has me thinking.
Even though it may not feel like it here in Minnesota, spring is coming, and with it comes warmer temperatures. Many of us already know that leaving a dog in a hot car is dangerous. We have all seen the stories that usually accompany this time a year… “Two dogs dead after being left in hot car“, “Police sergeant rescues dog locked in hot car“, “Police Are Cracking Down on Dumb Dog Owners in Heatwave.”
But did you know that in several states it is illegal to leave your dog in a car? There are 14 states – Arizona, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia, that currently have statutes “that specifically prohibit leaving an animal in confined vehicle“.
The penalties range from monetary fines to being charged with a misdemeanor, and in some states, it even includes imprisonment. The Animal Legal and Historical Center website contains a list of the states with laws and what penalties apply. They even lay out what is allowed/not allowed in those states when it comes to rescuing an animal left in a car.
For instance, in Minnesota, the statute states:
“A peace officer, a humane agent, a dog warden, or a volunteer or professional member of a fire or rescue department may use reasonable force to enter a motor vehicle and remove a dog or cat which has been left in the vehicle in violation.
Don’t see your state on the list? That doesn’t mean there are no laws in your state. Many local city and county governments have ordinances covering this issue. Owners may want to know this information, not only for their own benefit, but also for those situations in which they see another owner’s dog in distress and don’t know what to do. You can read more on this issue here.
Just as a reminder on how hot a car can get, I am sharing this blog post by my friend by Julie at The Daily Dog Blog. She has a cool infographic that you can print out and share with your friends. I’m thinking I just may make a few copies and keep them in my car so I can hand them out when I see a dog left in a car.
Yesterday, I saw a story announcing the opening of a new center dedicated to helping fearful dogs. The center, located in New Jersey, is a project being led by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Now dogs who have lived their whole lives in puppy mills or have come from a hoarding situation or were victims of animal cruelty will have the chance to get help meant just for them.
If you have ever had a fearful dog, one who has had little exposure to the world or has been abused, then you know that rehabilitation takes time. Unfortunately, time is not always an option for them. Many are euthanized because the amount of time and dedication (and money) it takes to work with a fearful or traumatized dog is more than most shelters can give.
This center is a source of hope for these dogs and the people who rescue them. The Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, N.J. will take dogs from shelters across the country as well as those that come those animal seizures involving the ASPCA. Their first guests, Malamutes, are coming in from Montana in the next few days. These were the dogs who were seized from a breeder charged with animal cruelty (I wrote about them a couple of months ago).
Dogs who come to the center will stay on average about 6-8 weeks, but they are not putting a strict time limit on their stay. As anyone who has worked with a puppy mill dog knows, sometimes it can takes a year or more before a fearful dog can really function in their new environment. Knowing there is a center, and people, focused on helping these dogs is really encouraging. I hope that what they learn can be used to help more dogs in the future. I suspect Debbie Jacobs from FearfulDogs.com could tell them a lot, but I am hoping that more will be learned from their work that can be used by rescuers across the country to help dogs like these, like Daisy and Cupcake.
I’ll be watching to see what they learn. How about you?
Recently, I came across a news piece debunking common animal myths. I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about most animal myths (I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to animals), but it turns out I had more to learn.
For instance, did you know that touching a baby bird does not mean the mother won’t take it back? Or that porcupines don’t shoot their quills at a predator? You can read more about these common myths at Animal Facts & Myths Debunked By Wildlife Experts.
Reading some of the myths we have about wild animals made me wonder what kinds of dog myths I may have fallen for that turned out not to be true. So, off I went a-Googling to see what I could find. It turns out there are quite a lot of dog myths out there. Who knew? (Just kidding. Given how many myths there are in the dog training world, I had to figure there were a lot more myths about dogs.)
Here are some of the more interesting ones I found:
Dogs are sick when their noses are warm – It turns out this is a myth (one I actually believed). “The temperature of a dogs nose does not indicate health or illness or if they have a fever. The only accurate method to access a dog’s temperature is to take it with a thermometer. Normal dog temperature is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees F.”
Dogs like to be petted on their heads – Past experience has taught me that this is definitely a myth. While some dogs may not mind it, most dogs DO NOT like to be pet on the head. In fact, a hand coming at them over their head can be quite an intimidating thing to a dog and can be seen as a threat.
Happy dogs wag their tails – Another one that so many people think is true. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a wagging tail does not always mean a dog is happy. “A wagging tail can mean agitation or excitement. A dog that wags his tail slowly and moves his all rear end or crouches down in the classic “play bow” position is usually a friendly wag. Tails that are wagged when held higher, twitches or wagging while held over the back may be associated with aggression.”
Dogs eat grass when they are sick – Haven’t you always wondered why your dog eats grass? I know have. I actually believed this one was true. but according to Dr. Debra Primovic, “Dogs descended from wild wolves and foxes that ate all parts of their “kill.” This included the stomach contents of many animals that ate berries and grass. Many scientists believe grass was once part of their normal diet and eating small amounts is normal.”
Dogs destroy furniture and other items in the house because they are angry – This is actually one of my favorite myths. So many people believe that their dog takes out their anger on them when they are gone. How do they know this? Why their dog looks guilty of course! Afraid not. More and more studies are showing that the guilty look your dog gives you is in response to you (your tone of voice, body posture, etc.) NOT because they actually felt guilty for doing something they knew was wrong. You can read more about a study done in 2009 here.
You should never comfort a scared dog – This is one of those old myths I heard growing up as a kid. My dog Indy was fearful of thunderstorms and we were told to ignore the behavior or it would reinforce it. We did. It didn’t. Her fear just got worse with time. Poor Indy. Now I know better and I comfort Daisy when there is a thunderstorm or fireworks are going off in the neighborhood. Why? Because I finally met someone who understands and works with fearful dogs, Debbie Jacobs. According to Debbie, “One of the first things someone working with a fearful dog needs to understand is that it’s ok to comfort a dog that is afraid. It’s ok to give them a piece of cheese or take them away from what is scaring them.” Daisy is the lucky recipient of this wisdom and I am so grateful. So is Daisy.
Dog growling is always a bad thing – I used to believe this one until I got my dog Indy. Have you ever had a dog who was vocal? Well, Indy was and she loved nothing more than to growl when playing tug or wrestling with another dog. As shared by Eric Goebelbecker of Dog Spelled Forward, “Dogs have a very limited vocal range, and like reading body language, making a judgement based on a single indicator like a growl is a bad idea. Growling during play, such as a game of tug, is perfectly fine.”
Using head collars will cause neck/spinal injury – I recently came across this one when someone I know on Facebook admonished a foster mom for using a Gentle Leader on her foster dog. According to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), a well-recognized and respected dog-training association, “This is an oft-repeated claim that can be found all over the Internet. In fact there are no documented cases of dogs getting neck and/or spinal injuries from head collars. Proper use of these types of collars should have no ill physical effects on your dog.”
Dogs are descendents of wolves and therefore training should be based on how wolf packs interact with each other – Ah yes. The whole “pack theory” approach to dog training. You can read my friend Pamela’s post Why is the Dominance Theory of Dog Training Still So Darn Popular? but you may also want to read what APDT has to say on this… “Dogs are not wolves and there are many significant differences between dog and wolf behavior such that wolf behavior is completely irrelevant to how we live and interact with our dogs. Moreover, when wolf behavior is mentioned as a model for dog training, the understanding of wolf behavior used is often incorrect and based on studies that have long since been disproven by research scientists who study wolves extensively.”
Pitbulls have jaws that lock, thus making them more dangerous than other dog breeds – False. False. False. I wish I knew where these myths got started. Somewhere I imagine a dog fighter bragging to his dog fighter scumbag buddy that his pitbull has a jaw that locks. Can’t you just see it? According to the Pitbull Rescue Center’s (PBRC) Media Center page “there is NO SUCH THING AS “JAW LOCKING” IN ANY BREED.” And this, from several veterinarians who were consulted on this matter. The whole “pitbulls have a 1600 PSI bite pressure”myth is also false. PBRC shared some very interesting information on animals and bite pressure:
- Humans: 120 pounds of bite pressure
- Domestic dogs: 320 LBS of pressure on avg. A German Shepard, American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) and Rottweiler were tested using a bite sleeve equipped with a specialized computer instrument. The APBT had the least amount of pressure of the 3 dogs tested.
- Wild dogs: 310 lbs
- Lions: 600 lbs
- White sharks: 600 lbs
- Hyenas: 1000 lbs
- Snapping turtles: 1000 lbs
- Crocodiles: 2500 lbs
Pretty interesting isn’t it?
I look back at when I first became a dog owner and shake my head. What I knew then and what I know now are ages and ages apart. How many of these myths did I believe when I was younger? Probably all of them. It’s amazing what you learn as you grow as a person.
So what myths did you have as a kid that you have since learned were untrue? Did any of the myths listed above surprise you? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Over the past few days I have received several comments from people about Daisy’s weight. It’s not the typical “your dog is fat” comment. No. The comments from both family and friends have been “Daisy looks really thin.” or “Daisy is looking pretty thin.”.
How odd it is to have people tell you your dog is too thin. To be honest, it kind of made me a little paranoid to hear so many comments in such a short period of time. Was Daisy too thin? Was I not feeding her enough? Should I be feeding her more?
I started to feel bad. Was I being a bad dog mom?
When I first brought Daisy home, she was way too thin. You could see her ribs.
Having seen way (WAY) too many fat Labs in my life, I have always tried to keep Daisy at a healthy weight. When she was too fat, I got concerned about what that would mean for her joints and energy level. I didn’t want her to be one of those older dogs, waddling along, hardly able to go for a walk around the block. She’s 9 years old now and arthritis is a real possibility. Extra weight would not help her in this area at all.
But, all the recent comments made me wonder if I was keeping her too thin. Should I add some food to her dish each morning and evening?
This past summer I saw a body condition chart at a dog adoption event and I remembered wondering where my dogs fit on that chart. Surely I could find one online and see where Daisy fell on it, right?
It turns out there are several variations of the body condition chart online (see below), but Body Condition Score chart I like is one on the Hospital for Companion Animals.
So where did Daisy fall?
Using images in the first chart (above), I determined that she fell within the ideal weight category. On the second chart, she scored between a 2 and 3 – which falls anywhere from thin and an ideal weight. And, on the third chart, she scored as “moderate”. So is Daisy too thin? I don’t think so. She’s healthy and happy and looking like a dog at a healthy weight.
Is it possible that we have gotten so used to seeing overweight and obese dogs that our view of what a healthy weight looks like on a dog has been skewed? Maybe. It’s hard to know. But, to be sure, I am going to take her into our vet and see what she says. I think that will give me more peace of mind.
What about your dog? Do you get comments on their weight? Too thin? Too fat?
Seattle Dog Spot recently posted a story on their Facebook page (“Auburn Veterinary Hospital refuses to treat dying dog”) that left me shaking my head.
According to Seattle Dog Spot, a vet clinic refused emergency care to a dog that was in anaphylactic shock. after being stung by several bees. The owner, who had rushed his dog to this clinic because it listed itself as an emergency clinic on “prominently posted signs”, was told the vets were “too busy” to care for his dog. Thankfully, the owner was able to get his dog to his own vet and the dog was saved, but I couldn’t help but wonder what was going through the minds of the veterinarians and staff when they denied a dying dog care.
It brought to mind an incident that happened at my veterinarian’s office the last time I was there with Jasper.
We had arrived a little early only to be told, apologetically, that our appointment might be delayed because an emergency situation had come up. A family had come in with their seriously ill dog (if memory serves me right, they suspected the dog had ingested antifreeze while he had been lost) and my vet was trying to stabilize him so he could be transported to the University of Minnesota. Of course, I told the staff I could wait. I was more than willing to give her as much time as she needed. This sick dog needed her attention much more urgently than Jasper did.
A few minutes later, I watched as my vet and the staff carried the dog out to the owner’s waiting car to be transported to the U of M. Then, a few minutes later I watched as my vet and the staff rushed the dog back in the clinic when the dog crashed. I waited as they worked to save his life, but it was not to be. Thankfully, his owners were able to be at his side as he passed.
As I sat there in the office, I could not help but shed a tear for the owners, their dog, and my vet. How awful it must have felt to lose this dog after despite every attempt to save him. How sad it must have been to look into his owner’s eyes and say “I am so sorry.”
Reading the story from the Seattle Dog Spot, made me realize how much I really value my vet and her staff. I already know what awesome people they are, they provide such gentle care to my three fearful dogs, but what this story made me realize is how really fortunate I am to have a vet and staff who puts the dogs’ care first. Was it an inconvenience to me to have to wait while my vet tried to save another dog’s life. NO WAY. Instead, it was an affirmation that she is EXACTLY the kind of vet I would want for my dogs.
I can’t help but wonder how the clients of the Auburn Veterinary Hospital clinic feel today knowing their vet clinic turned away a dog in distress because they were “too busy.”
I am so thankful they are not my vet.
I am writing to you to express my deep disappointment in your company and, in my opinion, it’s clear lack of responsibility and concern for its customers and their pets.
On November 18th, I entered one of your stores with the sole purpose of purchasing some cat food and cat litter for my cat.
As I entered the store, I immediately noticed a colorful display featuring Christmas colors and decorations featuring chicken jerky treats made by Nestle-Purina. The bin containing the treats was huge (approximately 4′ x 4′ x4′) and had large signs posted all over it announcing a sale on the large bags of treats. It was conveniently located right behind the cash registers where people were bound to see it.
I am guessing that many an unsuspecting dog owner has been waiting in line and seen that conveniently placed large bin of treats and made a last-minute purchase for their pet, thinking it would be a nice “special’ treat to give them. Little did they know that in doing so they could be placing their pet’s life in danger. But, you did know, didn’t you?
I am embarrassed to say that I went ahead and got my cat supplies, instead of leaving immediately, and stood in line at the cash register, continuously looking at that bin of chicken jerky treats with disgust and disappointment.
I was so upset I even mentioned it to the cashier, telling her how disappointed I was that Petsmart was promoting a product that had been linked to so many dog illnesses and deaths. What she told me next was either a bald-faced lie or something she made up on her own. She said that the dogs who had gotten sick had only gotten sick because people were feeding them to their pets as meals and not treats. Seriously? Are you kidding me?
I was furious. I told her that she was wrong and that what she said wasn’t true. She didn’t respond any further, but I left your store absolutely fuming. What the hell???
I was so mad that I then posted this on my Facebook page:
“Wow Petsmart. Is that what you’re telling people now? The dogs that died from Chicken Jerky treats died because the owners were feeding them as meals. Really? Nice that you have them in a big sales display by the registers too. On sale. Ugh!!!!!”
I expected to have some of my dog blogging friends to comment on my post, but imagine my surprise when one of my friends mentioned she had been told the very same thing about a month before by another Petsmart employee in another state!
Kind of a strange coincidence don’t you think Petsmart? It makes me wonder… Are you purposely lying to your customers so they will spend money in your store regardless of the danger these treats pose to their pets? Or, are you selling these treats because you have some sort of contract with their maker that you must fulfill? Neither answer is a very good one for your customers is it? If they lose their pet, you still make money. If they lose their pet, the company making the treats still makes money too. But, is it worth losing a customer and their money?
Because you just lost me. You may choose to sell these products for the almighty dollar, but you will never see my dollars gracing your store again. You can choose to be honest with your customers and tell them the truth AND stop selling these treats, OR you can choose to put money before the pets you so actively claim to care about, but you can’t do both. I won’t support a company that tells its customers that the only dogs impacted by these treats were the ones who were fed it as “a meal.” You know it’s not true and so do I.
By the way…
That same day, another friend who also happens to be a pet sitter told me about a dog client who almost died after her client fed them to her dog. Luckily, my friend was aware of the dangers of these treats and alerted her client immediately. The dog spent a week in the care of university veterinarians and almost didn’t make it.
A week later, a friend contacted me because both her dogs were ill. They were throwing up, had diarrhea and were lethargic. My first thought was to ask her if she had given them any of these treats. She had. Imagine her horror at discovering the treats could have killed her cherished companions? Fortunately for her, her dogs recovered, but so many have not.
Your former customer
For Pet Owners:
Canadian Video Exposes the Dangers of Chinese Chicken Jerky Treats (Dog Food Advisor)
FDA Reports 360 Dogs, 1 Cat Dead After Eating Chicken Jerky Treats (NBCBayArea.com)
Dogs Still Dying of Chinese Made Jerky Treats, Enough is Enough (Steve Dale, ChicagoNow)
FDA warns about US-made chicken jerky pet treats (NBCNews.com)
For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by animal behavior. When I was a child I would sit for hours observing the Canadian geese that lived in the pond across from my house. I even took an animal behavior class in high school. Dog behavior is just one more area in which I am often fascinated. I love watching my dogs figure things out or adjust their behavior to a new circumstance or puzzle.
When my friend Debbie over at FearfulDogs.com shared this piece on Neophobia (fear of new things) in dogs, I immediately went to check it out. Not just because it was about dog behavior, but because it was one more piece to the puzzle in understanding my own dog’s behavior.
When Jasper was about a year old (I adopted him at 9 months), I took him to training class at the shelter where I volunteered. During our weekly training sessions, it soon became clear Jasper was frightened by everything new that was introduced into his environment. He refused to go near a dish full of food because he had never seen it before. He refused to go near any of the dividers or other equipment because they were something new he had not seen before. He was easily startled if something new was brought into class and would often freeze in fear or back up or look for an escape route to get away from it.
Unlike most puppies, Jasper was not curious about new things. In fact, he was outright fearful of all of them and would shut down as soon as they appeared. I remember our instructor, a friend of mine, mentioning that maybe he suffered from something called “brittle dog syndrom,” or neophobia, as a result of not being exposed to a lot of new things when he was a puppy. I had never heard of such a thing, but I now know she was right on.
So what is Neophobia?
Some of the behaviors dogs display when they are confronted with something new in their environment are:
- avoidance or attempts at escape when around new things (In Jasper’s case, he avoids and barks what I call his “chicken little bark.” The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Alarm! Alarm!)
Many dogs who display neophobic behaviors were not socialized as puppies. In Jasper’s case, he spent the majority of his early life in a puppy mill, and then in a pet shop store window. He was “rescued” from that environment at around 8 1/2 months. Before coming to our shelter and then to me, he had very little opportunity to be exposed to many new things, except people, which he has no fear of at all.
Some neophobic dogs can also be so as a result of genetics or breed disposition (i.e., some breeds appear to display it more than others). Although I have no expertise in this area, I would not be surprised to discover that Shelties are a breed who falls into this category. One only has to look at the number of lost Shelties who were lost, after they bolted in fear, to suspect this to be the case.
Since Jasper is a Sheltie and had little socialization as a puppy, he has two strikes against him. However, I have been able to manage his fear of new things by removing him from the object he fears and/or rewarding him with treats when he examines it with curiosity. It takes work, time and patience, but a neophobic dog can learn to live a fairly normal life, depending on how bad the fear is and how well you manage it.
If you have a dog you think may suffer from Neophobia, check out the great article on the ASPCA site. It’s definitely worth the read. My thanks to Debbie Jacobs for sharing it.
Here in Minnesota we have this unique thing called Give to the Max Day.
It’s one day
Thursday, November 15th (that’s today!)
for just 24 hours
thousands of Minnesota nonprofits come together to raise millions of dollars in just 24 hours. The idea is to bring attention to Minnesota non-profits while at the same time helping them to raise money so they can continue to give back to their communities (people and pets).
It’s also money that in many cases will help them operate for another year.
Non-profits have an added bonus for participating in Give to the Max Day… a chance to win matching dollars by winning one of the tiered grant prizes:
$12,500 prize grant*
$5,000 prize grant*
$2,500 prize grant*
$1,000 prize grant**
*Awarded to the top three nonprofit organizations which receive the most dollars during Give to the Max Day.
**Awarded to each nonprofit in 4th through 10th place.
This year there is one non-profit that is very much in need of your dollars and a chance at one of the grant prizes – Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR).
This organization is very near and dear to my heart. They walked with me, searched with me, supported me, and paid dollars out of their precious funds, to help me find my missing foster Sheltie, Cupcake. I cannot begin to tell you how much they were there for me throughout the 12 days she was missing. Do you know many rescues do that for their foster dogs? I can tell you from experience, not many.
But, MNSR has done much more than that.
In 2012, they rescued Shelties in need from across the country. They took in dogs left behind in shelters, strays found by strangers, and puppy mill dogs in need of a second chance. As a result, MNSR had some really huge medical bills this year. Through Oct. 31st, 2012, they paid out over $46,000.00 in veterinary costs – this was to cover spaying and neutering, teeth extractions, vaccinations, medicine, and special care for dogs with thyroid issues, seizures, and other more serious medical issues.
There has been a big increase in the number of older Shelties being released from breeding facilities (i.e., puppy mills) and, as you can imagine, most of these dogs have not been in good health. With the great generosity of past donors, MNSR had the funds to help these dogs in 2012, but now those funds have been used up.
We could really use your help.
Minnesota Sheltie Rescue is so very important to me. Won’t you help me to give back and help other Shelties in need?
You don’t have to be from Minnesota.
You don’t even have to give big (although we welcome big donations!) – $5 or $10 makes a difference – and on Give to the Max Day it makes even more of a difference because sponsors will double your donation.
It’s so easy to do too! Just click on any one of the photos in this post or click on this link: http://givemn.razoo.com/story/Minnesota-Sheltie-Rescue and make a donation today. Because…
It’s only one day
Thursday, November 15th
for only 24 hours
Cupcake says thank you!
Update: By an overwhelming majority of voters, North Dakotans chose not to make animal cruelty a felony. One can only hope they will not become the only state to think setting a cat on fire is only worth a misdemeanor, but as of right now they remain one of two states who do – the other is South Dakota.
Yes. Election politics is definitely in the air. It’s hard to miss it these days.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait until Wednesday when all the political ads will go silent for another two years. (At least I hope they do, otherwise, we will have entered a new level of hell.)
I think I am pretty well-versed on the political issues up for a vote in Minnesota on Tuesday, but recently I started to wonder what political issues might be pending that had to do with animals and animal welfare. Thanks to my friend Paul, I discovered there was one. In North Dakota.
Unlike Minnesota and Montana, neighboring states, North Dakota does not currently make animal abuse a felony. In fact, the most an animal abuser in North Dakota can be charged with is a misdemeanor, even in the most extreme cases.
This year, North Dakotans will have the opportunity to vote on Measure 5, which will make it a felony to maliciously and intentionally harm a dog, cat or horse. The question is, will they?
They currently regard all kinds of animal fighting, not just dog fighting, as a felony. Why not malicious and intentional animal abuse?
The answer may lie with state and national agribusiness groups. They are fighting like mad to make sure it doesn’t pass and it appears they may be succeeding:
About three weeks ago the Valley News Live Mason-Dixon poll found that 66% of people surveyed said yes to Measure 5. Which would make it a class c felony for extreme cases of animal cruelty. The most recent poll found a substantial drop, 44% supported the measure with 49% saying no.
So what are state and national agribusiness groups opposed to? Most likely, the involvement of the Humane Society of the United States. HSUS has poured a good amount of money into this fight, and for many North Dakotans, this rankles their fiercely independent nature.
But is there more to be concerned about?
Opponents of the bill list these two items as problematic:
- The language doesn’t cover the type of neglect or abuse most commonly seen in North Dakota – everyday abuse, neglect, and abandonment (Although, it appears they are covered by other state laws.)
- It doesn’t cover all animals, just cats, dogs, and horses (The bill was specifically designed to exclude hunting, trapping, fishing, agriculture, animal research, and protecting personal property or safety – something I would think most North Dakotans would approve.)
I assume that most abused animals are dogs, cats and horses, but maybe the opponents feel other animals should be included? Farm animals? Wild animals? It seems kind of odd that the special interest groups excluded from the measure (hunters, trappers, fishermen and farmers) would argue the bill is too limited and should include other animals, but what do I know? Maybe that really is what they want. Huh. Who’d have thunk it?
One thing I know for certain, there are a great number of strong proponents and opponents on both sides of this issue. The list of those opposed to the measure includes – Ag, Cattle, Deer and Elk Coalitions, farm groups, and veterinarians. The list of those who support Measure 5 includes many animal welfare and rescue groups, veterinarians and law enforcement officials.
So will Measure 5 pass on Tuesday? Will North Dakota voters support making an animal abuse a felony? I don’t know, but we will certainly know by Wednesday, November 7th.
- For more information on Measure 5 go to: Yes! In Measure 5 and Vote “No” on Measure 5
- Measure 5 spending tops $1 million
- Pending legislation on animal rights and wildlife issues (by state) can be found at VoteSmart.org
- 5 worst states to be an animal: Abuse laws lax (Please note: This report was done in 2010, since that time Idaho has made animal abuse a felony.)