Wednesday, February 17, 2010

ASPCA Rescues 25 Dogs from Horrific Conditions in Georgia

/PRNewswire/ -- The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), under the authority of the Washington County, Ga. Sheriff's Office, today removed 25 alleged fighting and breeding dogs from a 25-acre property near Sandersville, Ga.

Working in conjunction with teams from United Animal Nations and Sumter DART (Disaster Animal Response Team), the ASPCA's Field Investigations and Response team removed 25 dogs from the property at 1750 Ohoopee Church Rd., approximately 130 miles southeast of Atlanta. At least 25 emaciated dogs were discovered, chained to tire axles and posts that dotted the property, and another 27 were found dead and in various stages of decomposition.

"It's bad enough that these dogs were treated cruelly and raised in horrible conditions," said Tim Rickey, the ASPCA's Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response. "But to leave them like this to starve is incomprehensible and speaks exactly to the kinds of heinous crimes the ASPCA fights day in and day out."

Washington County authorities intend to arrest the caretaker of the animals, who claims that the original owner of the dogs did not provide them with adequate food and other necessities. Other arrests and animal cruelty charges are anticipated.

"This has been going on for much too long," said Washington County Sheriff Thomas Smith. "We are committed to fighting animal cruelty in all its forms."

"We are grateful to be able to respond to this situation, and for the agencies assisting us," said Deputy Lynn Schlup of the Washington County Sheriff's Office, who contacted the ASPCA approximately three weeks ago for assistance. She said none of the dogs were current on vaccinations.

The dogs were transferred to an emergency shelter at an undisclosed location in Washington County provided by Vanguard Associates. They will be triaged by ASPCA veterinarians Dr. Melinda Merck and Dr. Robert Reisman, along ASPCA veterinary technicians, and assisted by Dr. Jason Byrd, Associate Director of the Center for Forensic Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The dogs will be cared for at the temporary shelter by volunteers of United Animal Nations until a forfeiture hearing.

All of the dogs are emaciated and undernourished; some are suffering from untreated injures, respiratory problems and open wounds. Tethered by log chains, the dogs were discovered without food, water or adequate shelter, shivering in the freezing temperatures.

Authorities believe that the dogs rescued were used for fighting. "They bear the battle scars consistent with those of fighting dogs," Rickey said. ""Being on log chains 24/7 is no way to live," he added. "These dogs have lived a miserable life, and are just as starved for human contact."

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Rare Rhino Pregnancy Gives Hope to Species

/PRNewswire/ -- Conservationists across the world are celebrating a pregnancy in one of the world's most endangered species, the Sumatran Rhino. The pregnancy of female Ratu, born in Indonesia, and male Andalas, the first of only three Sumatran rhinos born in captivity in more than 112 years, is giving hope to international rhino biologists. The breeding occurred at Indonesia's Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) in Way Kambas National Park following months of gradual introduction by scent, sound, sight and physical proximity. The calf is expected to be born in May 2011.

This is no ordinary pregnancy. Ratu wandered into a village just outside Way Kambas National Park in 2006; Andalas was born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2001, raised at the Los Angeles Zoo and then transferred to SRS in 2007. With help from Dr. Robin Radcliffe of the International Rhino Foundation's (IRF) Rhino Conservation Medicine Program, the then-5 1/2-year-old Andalas journeyed more than 10,000 miles on a 63-hour trip by plane, truck and ferry.

"A combination of sound science, international collaboration among government, non-profits, and zoos, as well as timing and personal chemistry, has led to this groundbreaking event," said Dr. Susie Ellis, IRF executive director. "Sumatran rhino numbers have decreased by more than 50 percent over the last 15 years in the wild."

The Sumatran rhino population is estimated at approximately 200 individuals in the wild and 10 currently in captivity worldwide. Ratu's pregnancy represents the hope for a future generation.

Dr. Terri Roth, director of Cincinnati Zoo's Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) and vice president for IRF's Asia programs, has used her extensive training in reproductive biology to produce three Sumatran rhinos beginning with Andalas in 2001.

"Sumatran rhinos are very solitary by nature and aggressive towards one another except when a female is in estrus," said Dr. Roth. "Through science, we can determine when the female is ready to ovulate so she is paired with a male at the right time and fighting is minimized while the likelihood of conception is optimized. It is wonderful to see the science developed at CREW help our Indonesian colleagues achieve success in Sumatra."

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

For Pet Owners, Share Valentine's Day Love With Hugs, but Skip the Hearts and Flowers for Fido and Tabby

PRNewswire -- On Valentine's Day we profess our unconditional love to those who mean the most, lavishing them with affections and confections. For animal lovers, expressions of adoration and devotion can easily extend to our pets.

However, there are some pet hazards associated with the traditions of the holiday, explains veterinarian Dr. Kristie Souders of North Shore Animal League America, the world's largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization. Dr. Souders offers these tips on how to keep pets safe from potential Valentine's Day hazards.


The number one belly ache for pets on Valentine's Day is chocolate since it's so readily available. Depending on the amount ingested, chocolate is potentially poisonous to many animals. A good rule of thumb to remember is the less sweet the chocolate, the more toxic it could be. These particular chocolates contain theobromine, which is a substance similar to caffeine. Even in small, non-toxic doses, chocolate can still cause stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, hyperactivity, dehydration and seizures. It's best not to tempt fate with tempting chocolates. Leave the sweets for your human sweetie.

Candy and Gum

Many sugar-free candy, gum and baked products today contain xylitol. Xylitol is a sweetener found in plants that is used as a sugar substitute and is highly toxic to dogs, so be sure not to leave these snacks where your pet can find them. Dogs ingesting significant amounts of gum or candies solely or largely sweetened with xylitol may develop a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures and even liver failure. Symptoms come on very quickly. If you suspect that your pet has ingested any amount of xylitol, call your veterinarian immediately.

Plants, Flowers and Candles

Many flower and plant varieties are poisonous or harmful to pets. Different plants and flowers have varied effects. Some of the more popular varieties that may be found around Valentine's Day are: Baby's Breath, Chrysanthemums, Daffodils, various Lilies, Ferns, Hyacinth, Hydrangea, Impatiens, Lily-of-the-Valley, Rubber plants, and Tulips. Cats, especially, find grass-like plants irresistible and have access to just about everywhere. There are many more flowers and plants that can cause upset and even death to your pet, so please be aware to keep all varieties of flora and fauna away from them. Candles are also popular on holidays. Be mindful that pets, especially cats, can be attracted to the flicker and have the potential for being burned or knocking over a candle that could cause a fire. Keep burning candles out of reach and never leave them unattended when your pet is in the area.

Pamper Your Pets This Valentine's Day

While traditional Valentine's Day goodies are not good for animals, there are plenty of pet delicacies you can use to pamper your pet so he doesn't feel left out. An extra long walk or a special brushing can be just what Cupid ordered. Exercise and grooming have infinite benefits for both of you. Treats of the non-edible kind are equally as satisfying. A new bed, toy, catnip or bone can help express that special place in the heart saved for our furry friends.

This Valentine's Day, if you are an animal lover, think about opening your heart and home to a shelter animal. You will be saving a life. If you don't have a pet, consider the Valentine's gift of sponsorship. For more information on pet safety and well-being, to learn more about North Shore Animal League America, or to send a Valentine's e-card visit .

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Will the Year of the Tiger Be Good for the Tiger?

PRNewswire-- February 14 marks the arrival of the Chinese New Year -- the Year of the Tiger. While communities around the world celebrate this auspicious year on the lunar calendar, IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) warns about an upsurge in illegal trade in tiger parts and products, that is driving this endangered species, already on the brink, towards extinction.

"Wild tigers once numbered around 100,000 across Asia, today there are fewer than 3,500," said Grace Ge Gabriel, IFAW's Asia Regional Director. "Tigers face threats from loss of habitat and prey. But the greatest threat to wild tigers is poaching to supply an illegal trade driven by the demand for tiger parts and products."

With a listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) all international commercial trade in tigers and their parts is banned. As a range and a consumer state, China also has a domestic ban on the use of tiger bone.

"These bans are 'toothless tigers' in the face of a growing illegal market for tiger parts fueled by a few large scale tiger farms that speed-breed tigers for commercial trade of their parts," said Gabriel.

Recent investigations in China have found an increase in the illegal sale of products claiming to contain tiger parts from these farms, both online and in stores. While there are fewer than 50 wild tigers left in China, tiger farms collectively have over 6,000 tigers and boast an annual reproduction rate of 800. Operated also as safari parks for tourists, these tiger farms openly sell products such as 'tiger bone wine' as health tonics.

"Any reduction of demand for tiger parts in China thanks to the government's trade ban is undermined by this illegal trade," warned Gabriel. "These tiger farming businessmen are cultivating a new demand for dead tigers, fueling the illegal trade in wildlife and stimulating the poaching of wild tigers."

A total of 175 countries will have the opportunity to vote for improved protection of wild tigers at the upcoming CITES meeting in March, by supporting an EU proposal urging for strengthened control of the tiger trade and stopping the farming of tigers for the trade of their parts and products. Visit for further information.

To make the Year of the Tiger an auspicious year for the tiger, IFAW urges all governments and especially consumer countries to reduce demand and prevent any trade in dead tigers from any source, and focus on protecting live tigers in the wild.

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Georgia Aquarium to Debut Four Harbor Seals

Animals will reside in the Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest Gallery

The Georgia Aquarium will soon add four new harbor seal pups (Phoca vitulina), two males and two females, into the Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest Gallery. Beginning Saturday, guests will be able to see the harbor seals at the Georgia Aquarium.

These unique looking animals range in color from silver-gray to black or dark brown and can double their weight in four to six weeks. The new pups, born last year, are between 3.5 - 4 feet in length and weigh between 86-114 pounds. Harbor seals, known for their large size and prominent face whiskers, can detect their prey in low light conditions by touch, vibration or water movement.

“We are thrilled to have four new harbor seal pups residing at the Georgia Aquarium,” said Billy Hurley, senior vice president of husbandry and chief animal officer. “The new additions add a unique and diverse experience for guests. Everyone will love them.”

Harbor seals spend about half of their time in the sea and half on land. They are born with oil glands in the skin that help waterproof the fur and can remain under water for 40 minutes. Harbor seals are the least vocal of their kind, primarily “talking” to each other underwater. Predators of the harbor seal include sharks, polar bears, killer whales and eagles.


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Friday, February 5, 2010

Fulton County, Ga. Explosives Detection Canine Helps Miami Prepare for Super Bowl XLIV

/PRNewswire/ -- Not everyone participating in this year's Super Bowl is a football player. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have fielded their best players to help prepare for a safe and secure Super Bowl XLIV. These pros include ATF K-9 explosives detection teams that have been deployed to Miami from around the country. The K-9 teams are working side-by-side with other federal, state and local law-enforcement officers to keep the football teams and fans safe throughout this event.

"The K-9 teams that are here in Miami for the Super Bowl are the best of the best," said Hugo Barrera, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Miami Field Division. "Like the football teams that will be playing in the Super Bowl, these handlers and their K-9 partners have been training and preparing all year for this event," Barrera further stated. "We are proud to say that the only thing the fans have to worry about is whether their team wins or loses."

One of the K-9 teams working in Miami is ATF Canine Handler Sergeant Kirk Markham and his black Labrador retriever, "Mokey." Sergeant Markham and ATF K-9 Mokey have been partners for six years and are detailed to Miami from the Fulton County Sheriff's Office. This is their fourth trip to the Super Bowl. Sergeant Markham and Mokey routinely work together in criminal investigations and at high profile security events where their expertise is needed detecting the presence of explosives, firearms and ammunition. Word has circulated in the law enforcement community about how adept Mokey is at detecting shell casings, weapons, and other evidence. Many investigators from other agencies in Fulton County regularly request the assistance of Mokey and Sgt. Markham at major crime scenes. They were called to assist at this year's Super Bowl to help locate any type of explosive, which may be in close proximity to the Sun Life Stadium or any other venues relating to the big game.

ATF has used its explosives detecting canines at other special events including the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, the Presidential Inauguration, the G-8, the World Series, NASCAR, the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and of course, the Super Bowls.

ATF's program, which began in 1986, uses only Labrador retrievers. The dogs are supplied by the Guiding Eyes for the Blind, the Guide Dog Foundation, and Canine Companions for Independence. These specialty canines attend a 10-week training program with their handlers that are conducted at the ATF Canine Training Center in Front Royal, Va. Upon completion of this course, the canines are trained to detect a variety of explosive compounds and materials that could be used in an explosive device. The canines can also detect firearms and ammunition and are used in the more traditional protective search and sweep operations. Once the canine and the handler complete the ATF basic training course, they begin their field work and continue to train on a daily basis.

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And She’s Off!

Mei Lan, a 3-year-old female giant panda from Zoo Atlanta, departed for China on February 4, 2010. Transportation for the world-famous bear was generously donated by FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX).

Zoo Volunteers and Docents lined the sidewalks of Cherokee Avenue for a parting glimpse as the FedEx truck transporting Mei Lan left Zoo Atlanta at 6:30 a.m. Her vehicle was escorted by an Atlanta Police motorcade on the trip to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Mei Lan’s aircraft, a custom-decaled FedEx Express 777F christened the FedEx Panda Express, was waiting at the airport for its precious cargo at 7:00 a.m. Officials loaded an enormous FedEx box packed with farewell cards signed by hundreds of fans as Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed; Mike Ducker, Chief Operating Officer, FedEx Express; former Zoo Atlanta President and CEO Dennis Kelly; and Ben De Costa, General Manager, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, delivered opening remarks. The jet received a ceremonial washdown salute before taking off at 8:15 a.m.

The FedEx Panda Express was en route to Washington’s Dulles International Airport to retrieve Mei Lan’s fellow passenger, 4-year-old male Tai Shan from Smithsonian’s National Zoo, for a nonstop flight to Chengdu, China. Mei Lan is accompanied by Zoo Atlanta Giant Panda Keeper Heather Roberts, who will spend the next 10 days with her at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.

“This is a bittersweet moment for the Zoo Atlanta family and for fans around the world, but it’s a wonderful moment for giant pandas,” said Zoo Atlanta Curator of Mammals Dr. Rebecca Snyder. “We’re very proud to have shared Mei Lan’s life to the point where she can now begin making her own contributions to the world’s population of giant pandas.”

Thousands of local, national and international fans paid tribute to Zoo Atlanta’s firstborn giant panda cub during her last weeks in Atlanta, even braving a particularly cold and rainy Saturday to attend her Farewell Celebration on January 30. Following an exclusive raffle drawing offered during the celebration, Zoo Atlanta Docent Lynne LaVallee won the coveted opportunity to witness Mei Lan’s final exit from outside the giant panda building Thursday morning.

Mei Lan’s many admirers can find updated information about the pandas’ journey at As they become available, updates on Mei Lan’s progress in China will be posted on

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Anheuser-Busch Answers the Call of the Wild

/PRNewswire/ -- Encountering an alligator or black bear on work property may be unusual, but employees at several Anheuser-Busch locations find such animal encounters completely normal. In fact, many look forward to seeing their wild neighbors when enjoying the wildlife sanctuaries Anheuser-Busch developed to promote conservation to employees and residents in the surrounding communities.

Anheuser-Busch's efforts to conserve the lands around its facilities have once again been recognized by the Wildlife Habitat Council's (WHC) Wildlife at Work(SM) certification program. In total, eight Anheuser-Busch operating facilities received this certification for various projects creating a healthy and biodiverse natural world.

"One of the responsibilities of being a good corporate citizen is protecting the natural habitats of the plant and animal species that call our facility lands home," said Peter Kraemer, vice president Supply for Anheuser-Busch, Inc. "This includes animals such as the peregrine falcon that built a nest on the top of the malt house in Manitowoc and the bullfrogs creating entertaining sounds at the Baldwinsville brewery."

The following Anheuser-Busch operations became WHC-certified Wildlife at Work(SM) programs.

-- Jacksonville Brewery and Nutri-Turf Farm (Jacksonville, Fla.) -
certified since 1997
-- Elk Mountain Farms (Bonners Ferry, Idaho) - certified since 1998
-- Manitowoc Barley Malt Plant (Manitowoc, Wis.) - certified since 1999
-- Ft. Collins Brewery (Fort Collins, Colo.) - certified since 2006
-- Ft. Collins Nutri-Turf Farm (Fort Collins, Colo.) - certified since
-- Cartersville Brewery (Cartersville, Ga.) - certified since 2004
-- Merrimack Brewery (Merrimack, N.H.) - certified since 2007
-- Baldwinsville Brewery (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) - certified since 2008

"The Wildlife Habitat Council believes collaboration among all stakeholder groups is critical to addressing the complex issues facing the sustainability of the planet," said Robert Johnson, WHC President. "WHC members take a leading role in connecting community stakeholders through wildlife habitat enhancement, community outreach and conservation education. Congratulations to Anheuser-Busch for their commitment to a healthy natural world and connected communities."

Three Anheuser-Busch facilities also maintain certified Corporate Lands for Learning(SM) (CLL) programs. CLL facilities serve as educational resources for local educators and wildlife researchers. CLL certified Anheuser-Busch facilities include:

-- Cartersville Brewery - certified since 2006
-- Fort Collins Brewery and Nutri-Turf Farm - certified since 2007
-- Jacksonville Brewery and Nutri-Turf Farm - certified since 2008

Since 1990, WHC has certified 560 programs worldwide, of which 113 have been designated CLL programs. The certification program recognizes outstanding wildlife habitat management and environmental education efforts at corporate sites, and offers third-party validation of the benefits of such programs. Certification requirements are strict and require programs apply for periodic renewal.

The Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) is a nonprofit, non-lobbying organization dedicated to increasing the quality and amount of wildlife habitat on corporate, private and public lands. WHC devotes its resources to building partnerships with corporations and conservation groups to create solutions that balance the demands of economic growth with the requirements of a healthy, biodiverse and sustainable environment. WHC-assisted wildlife habitat and conservation education programs are found in 48 states, the District of Columbia and nine other countries. To learn more, visit

Based in St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch is the leading American brewer, holding a 49.2 percent share of U.S. beer sales. The company brews the world's largest-selling beers, Budweiser and Bud Light. Anheuser-Busch ranked No. 1 among beverage companies in FORTUNE Magazine's Most Admired Global Companies list in 2009. The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the leading global brewer, and continues to operate under the Anheuser-Busch name and logo. Anheuser-Busch is a major manufacturer of aluminum cans and one of the world's largest recyclers of aluminum cans. For more information, visit

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Nominate a 'Kind Kid' in American Humane's Be Kind to Animals(R) Kid Contest

/PRNewswire/ -- The American Humane Association is already preparing to celebrate Be Kind to Animals Week®, which will take place May 2-8, 2010. A highlight of the event is American Humane's Be Kind to Animals(TM) Kid Contest, which recognizes humane leaders of tomorrow by honoring kids who make a difference for animals today.

The Be Kind to Animals initiative began in 1915 to recognize and promote compassion, empathy and the bond between people and animals. The event is the oldest animal-related event in the nation that fosters humane principles by encouraging adults and children to maintain compassionate attitudes toward animals.

American Humane is seeking nominations of kids, ages 6 to 17, who are working hard in their communities to improve the welfare of animals. The 2010 winners will be announced during Be Kind to Animals Week®, May 2-8, 2010.

During the first week of May and always, American Humane urges people to be kind to animals. Suggested activities include:

-- Volunteer at a local animal shelter or support a shelter financially.
-- Get informed about policies and legislation that can impact the
animals in your community and throughout the country.
-- Register to receive legislative Action Alerts from American Humane at -- and speak out for animals with just the
click of a mouse.

Anyone nominating a young person for the Be Kind to Animals(TM) Kid Contest must be 18 or older and the child's legal guardian or have written permission from the child's guardian. No purchase is necessary. Contest rules and nomination forms can be found at Nominations must either be submitted online or mailed and received between Feb. 1 and April 15, 2010. Nominees must be between the ages of 6 and 17 at the time of nomination and will be divided into two age groups: 6 to 12 and 13 to 17. One Grand Prize winner and one runner-up will be selected from each group. Grand Prize winners will each receive $1,000. All winners and runners-up will be featured in American Humane press materials and on American Humane's website. Winners will be announced during Be Kind to Animals Week®, May 2-8, 2010. For more ideas about celebrating Be Kind to Animals Week® and for the complete contest rules, visit

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