Posts Tagged ‘Pet News’

Does the breed make the dog? Or, is there more to the story?

September 7, 2015 5 comments

Sad Looking Chocolate LabSpend any time at all at a dog park or dog-centric event and you will find yourself starting to form opinions about dogs (and their owners). How a dog behaves may be a reflection of the owner, but often we assume a dog’s behavior is based on their breed.

For example, we might say the following:

  • Labrador Retrievers are great family dogs and love kids.
  • Golden Retrievers are friendly with everyone.
  • Terriers like to dig.
  • Hunting dogs, like German Shorthair Pointers and Vizslas, love to go hunting.

But, are these assumptions correct?

Science Friday, often heard on National Public Friday (NPR), explored this very topic this past February. Animal behaviorist James Serpell, was their guest. He discussed our common assumptions on dog breeds and how much of our dog’s behavior is dependent on us, their owners.

He also discussed C-BARQ, a Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire, designed to provide dog owners and professionals with standardized evaluations of canine temperament and behavior.

Take a listen. I think you will learn that breed is only part of the equation.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Puppy mills: The livestock argument

December 10, 2014 17 comments

puppy mills 1Long ago and far away, when crop yields were low and the American farmer was struggling to make ends meet, a government organization looked for a way to help them out. The government agency was the USDA. Their solution? Encourage farmers to raise a variety of livestock that could then be turned into a cash crop and allow them to thrive.

The “livestock” the USDA encouraged them to sell were dogs, cute and cuddly, little purebred puppies that could be sold to an ever-growing American middle class, who had begun to see the dog as a part of the American dream (a house, a fence, two kids and a dog).

What we couldn’t know then, but know now, is that this industry would grow and spread across the United States, and it would increase in scope and size and numbers. It would become a burgeoning industry that made farmers money and would feed an ever-growing American need for a dog – a purebred dog, a designer dog, an -orki and an -oodle, and every other kind of combination of dog possible.

Farmers, including the Amish, benefitted from this cash crop in tough times. They found  this type of farming appealing and one that could supplement their incomes and help their families. To them, dogs really were livestock. They were just like cattle or sheep, only smaller and cheaper to raise. They could be kept in cages and bred and their offspring could be sold to pet stores across the country. The adults could be harvested for their pups, and when too old to produce, could be sent off to the slaughterhouse, much like a dairy cow, only in their case the slaughterhouse was out back of the mill, the one in which they had lived for their whole life.

IMG_2486For years, the argument has been made that dogs raised in puppy mills are livestock, not pets. They are bred for one purpose, profit, and thus should not be afforded the same kind of care as a dog raised in home. Viewing puppy mill dogs as livestock and not as companion animals, allowed farmers (a.k.a. puppy millers) to argue that they should be treated the same as a farmer raising beef cattle. It allowed them to argue that additional regulations should not apply to them since it did not apply to farmers who raised cows and sheep.

And this argument has worked, for a very long time (and continues to do so, if you live in Missouri).

But in Minnesota, there is reason for hope. There is reason to believe that this argument (that puppy mill dogs are livestock) may be changing.

Recently, a dog breeder, Dayna Bell, was convicted for animal cruelty. And this year, she tried to make the argument that her breeding stock of dogs were not companion animals or pets, but in essence “livestock,” and thus she was not subject to the state statutes that were used to convict her of felony animal cruelty.

Unfortunately for her, the Minnesota State Court of Appeals disagreed.

You can read the full background and history on the case against and the conviction of Dayna Bell and the recent Minnesota State Court of Appeals opinion on the Animal Folks MN site, but here is an excerpt from the court papers.

….Under Bell’s interpretation, so long as her subjective “enjoyment” of a dog at her kennel amounts to use of the animal as a vessel for conceiving, birthing, and rearing puppies that would be sold as pets, the breeding dog would not qualify as a “pet or companion animal” under Minn. Stat. Sec. 343.20. We presume that the legislature does not intend results that are a “absurd, impossible of execution, or unreasonable.” Minn. Stat. 645.17(1)(2012). Just as a farm cat that is kept in a barn to kill mice or a hunting dog that is used to retrieve game can still be a pet, some of Bell’s dogs may have served incidental roles that imparted some economic benefit. But these animals continue to qualify as pet or companion animals under Minn. Stat. 343.20, subd. 6. In every objective sense, the dogs and puppies that Bell “enjoyed” at her kennel were small-breed, household dogs raised to be and treated as domesticated pets, and Bell sold many of them as pets. Each of these dogs, colloquially referred to as “man’s best friend,” qualifies as a pet or companion animal under the non-exhaustive definition of Minn. Stat. 343.20, subd.6, which is sufficiently definite such that “ordinary people can understand what conduct is prohibited.” State v. Newstrom, 371 N. W.2d 525, 528 (Minn. 1985) (quotation omitted).”

Puppy mill dogs are not livestock. They are pets and companion animals, and yes, man’s (and woman’s) best friend.

Do they look like livestock to you?

Silly dogs.

Former puppy mill breeding dogs – Daisy and Maggie

Dog Bite she said/she said: How would you have handled this situation?

June 25, 2014 15 comments

I was kind of going to take a pass on a blog post today, but then, a friend sent me this… Tevlin: Rain or sleet can’t stop your mail, but a tiny dog can  (Star Tribune, dated June 25, 2014, by Jon Tevlin). Seriously. I’m not even kidding.

Here is a quick synopsis of the story:

  • 11 lb dog gets loose from its leash while out on a walk.
  • 11 lb dog runs to mail carrier and jumps up on her and barks.
  • Owner apologizes profusely and gathers dog up (one added detail) and she apologizes profusely.
  • The mail carrier does not react or say anything to the owner.
  • Next day, Minneapolis Animal Control visits owner and reports mail carrier claims she was bitten on inner thigh and has several puncture wounds.
  • Mail carrier claims to have gone to Urgent Care for treatment, but no photos can be provided.
  • Owner agrees to get dog trained and to keep her on a short leash and to keep dog inside when mail is delivered.
  • Next day, mail delivery is stopped for the entire building where the owner and dog reside.
  • Post office manager notifies residents that they can either get a P.O. box or get rid of Nano (the dog).
  • Post office manager refuses to respond to resident’s calls to discuss the issue.
  • Now owner must move out or euthanize her dog. (Her agreement with Animal Control forbids her from giving the dog away.)

Jack Russell Terrier SnarlingI can think of all kinds of cuss words I could use to describe how I am feeling about this story, but really, all I can think of is “Where the hell is the adult in this story?” I mean I read this and all I can see is a lot of miscommunication, lack of communication and just plain old poor communication. I don’t see a whole lot of negotiation or reasonable boundary setting. I don’t even see proof of the actual bite being shared.

So here is what I would love to do today. Instead of posting this story and having a bunch of people angry people post negative and hateful comments on my blog, I would love to have you, the reader, offer ideas of how this could have been handled differently. How would you have handled this if you were one of the adults in this story? 

Feel free to rewrite it in a way that you think it could have gone if people had communicated effectively. How could it have been handled in a way that was better for all involved? What would you have done if you were any one of the parties involved in this situation?

I really look forward to hearing your ideas.


Forbes Exposes Puppy Mills and Pet Stores

February 28, 2012 17 comments

I don’t know about everyone else, but when I first saw this article linked in a Facebook posting, my jaw dropped. Not because it was about puppy mills, or even that it was about the link between pet stores and puppy mills, but because both those subjects were being discussed in Forbes Magazine.

Forgive me, but when I usually think about Forbes it’s in relation to their lists of the richest men, richest women, most highly paid movie stars,etc. Not a story about the fact that pet store puppies come from puppy mills. Wow.

Of course, it was an interview with a CEO (in sticking with the Forbes readership), but who cares? This CEO just happened to leave his job for over a year to film a documentary about puppy mills (You have to love someone who would take time away from his job to bring attention to something so important even though he may never get paid for it… ever.).

Kudos to Andrew Nibley for taking time off to make the film, Madonna of the Mills, AND to Forbes and Allen St. John, for making the puppy mill problem and the pet store connection more public. I recommend you read it if you haven’t it’s quite good and very interesting.

Where *Not* to Buy a Dog: The Pet Store Connection to the Business of Puppy Mills

My thanks to Allen St. John for his comment below and for reminding me that he has other stories on this issue (he’s doing a series, so check them out if you can) and an upcoming one with Ian Dunabar (awesome!). I noticed one of the links was broken in his piece from above, so I’ve included it below. I think you will find them equally as interesting.

Westminster, “Show Dog,” and the Battle Over Purebred Puppies

How Much is that Doggie in the Window? The Surprising Economics of Purchasing a Purebred Puppy

I including this last little piece just because I loved it so much, especially the last paragraph. I totally agree with his sentiments. (Funny enough, we also raised chickens in my 5th grade class, from egg to chicken, and when it was time we took them home with us until my Aunt Sheila could take them home to live with her chickens. Funny coincidence huh?)

How Do You Turn a Chick into A Puppy? The True Story of Our Special-Needs Chicken

Wednesday Winner: Alltop (All the top Pet news)

August 19, 2009 Leave a comment

I’ve been meaning to make Alltop a Wednesday Winner for some time, but I just haven’t had the time.

Alltop is “is an ‘online magazine rack’ of popular topics.” They update stories every hour and they have a wide variety of topics to choose from. Of course, my personal favorite is the Alltop Pet news page, but you could just as well choose Politics or Do It Yourself. It’s a great resource for anybody in a particular business or with a particular interest, like Astronomy or Crafts.

Alltop is a great resource and very easy to use. The problem is knowing when to stop reading and go to bed!

Alltop also has one more thing going for it. Excellent customer service! When I was having some issues with how my blog was appearing on the page I was able to get help right away and the person even went out of their way to fix a problem even though it wasn’t really Alltop’s fault. AND, the person helped me locate a information related to a site that was stealing my blog material and presenting it as their own. Not even an Alltop issue at all! Seriously, don’t we all love customer service like that? If the product itself didn’t sell me, then the customer service certainly did.

So, today’s Wednesday Winner is Alltop!

Ocean + Sharks + Island + 4 months = One Amazing Dog

April 8, 2009 Leave a comment

I’ve been coming up a bit dry in the blogging department this past week. When I mentioned this to friends on Facebook they responded with a few topic suggestions.

This one (Thanks Kakie!) struck my fancy because it is a perfect example of the things we can learn from our dogs – if we just pay attention.
Things like…

Never giving up or in
Adjusting to a changing environment (i.e., flexibility)
The importance of family

What messages do you see in this story?

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