Saturday, July 31, 2010

Morris Animal Foundation Study Finds Veterinarians and Physicians Want More Dog Bite Prevention Training During Schooling

/PRNewswire/ -- Morris Animal Foundation (MAF), a nonprofit organization that promotes longer, healthier lives for animals through humane research, recently funded a study to determine how educated veterinarians and physicians are about dog bite prevention techniques. Only 21 percent of veterinarians and 5 percent of physicians reported that they had acquired most of their knowledge about dog bites from medical or veterinary school. Most interesting, the study found that the vast majority of those surveyed would like to have more information about dog bite prevention during their schooling.

"We hope the information from this study can be used to develop better curricula for medical and veterinary training programs," said Patricia N. Olson, DVM, PhD, president/CEO of MAF. "This curriculum could prove to be of benefit to both people and dogs alike, helping us to better live side by side."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has collected some eye-opening statistics on dog bites. Fifty percent of dog attacks involve children under 12 years old. The rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for children ages 5 to 9 years, and the rate decreases as children age. Almost two thirds of injuries among children ages four years and younger are to the head or neck region. Sixty-five percent of bites among children occur to the head and neck.

The CDC and other dog bite prevention experts offer these simple precautions to parents, veterinarians and physicians about the dangers of dog bites and how to avoid them. These precautions are particularly important during the summertime, when people and dogs are outside more and the bite rates rise.

Parents can take several precautionary steps:
-- Instruct your children never to approach and interact with dogs they
don't know.
-- Avoid contact with a chained dog unless the owner gives permission
that it is safe to approach the animal.
-- Never allow children to tease or pester any dog.
-- Adopt a zero-tolerance policy for any form of animal abuse, and
instruct children to treat all dogs in a humane and caring manner.
-- Teach your children how to interpret a dog's body language, such as
recognizing changes in posture or when a dog shows its teeth.
-- Never leave small children alone with a dog.

Dog owners can take steps to avoid potential dog bite situations:
-- Take your dog to obedience and socialization classes to decrease the
threat of biting.
-- Recognize the warning signs of aggression and act accordingly.
-- Choose a dog you are confident you can physically control.
-- Keep dogs that demonstrate strong predatory tendencies, such as
hunting and killing smaller animals, away from toddlers and young

Following these steps can help ensure that you have a fun, safe summer with your children, and it can also significantly decrease the number of dog bite accidents. For more information, contact your veterinarian or family physician/pediatrician. You can also visit us at or on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter for up-to-date information.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Zoo Atlanta: Giraffe calf takes first peek at the public

Zoo Atlanta officials announced July 28 that Atlanta’s first giraffe calf may now be spotted in her African Plains habitat. Lucky guests may be treated to sightings of the new giraffe calf, who has been confirmed to be female, during select intervals until she is on exhibit full-time.

Born July 13, 2010, to 3-year-old Glenda, the calf is currently exploring the savanna-inspired yard with her mother and her aunt, Glenda’s 4-year-old sister Mona. Future milestones will include introductions to her father, 4-year-old Abu, as well as to the exhibit’s other residents, including ostrich and zebra.

Stay tuned to for exciting updates on the calf’s progress.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Biggers & Callaham, LLC DBA Mice Direct Recalls Frozen Reptile Feed Because of Possible Health Risk

Biggers & Callaham LLC., D/B/A Mice Direct of Cleveland Georgia is recalling frozen reptile feed (mice, rats, chicks), because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can affect animals and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products. People handling contaminated pet food can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the product or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

The frozen reptile feed was distributed in all states, except Hawaii, through pet stores and by mail order and direct delivery.

Frozen reptile feed was shipped in plastic bags with the following product codes M-SP100, M-P100, M-PF100, M-F100, M-H100, M-W50, M-A50, M-JA25, R-P100, R-F50, R-PUP50, R-W50, R-S50, R-M20, R-L10,R-J5, R-C5, R-M3 followed by E9, F9, G9, H9, I9, J9, K9, L9 or A10, B10, C10, D10, E10, F10, G10 and whole frozen chicks in 25 count bags.

Human illnesses that may be related to the frozen reptile feed have been reported in 17 states. The recalled product should not be fed to animals, even after heating in a microwave oven, since the heating may not be adequate to kill Salmonella. The recall is based upon sampling by the FDA of frozen mice. The company continues their investigation.

Products shipped after 07/24/2010, will be irradiated in a similar manner as raw food for human consumption in order to address the Salmonella issue associated with these products.

Consumers who purchased reptile feed from Mice Direct are urged to contact Mice Direct by telephone at 888-747-0736 from 9:00a.m-5:00p.m EST Monday-Friday or by e-mail at for instructions concerning this recall and for credits towards replacement of unused product.

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Big Season For Georgia's Smallest Turtle

Drought in the mountains the past two summers dried up much up the suitable habitat for bog turtles, but thanks to wet weather, increased trapping and improved management efforts, 2010 is looking like a record season for the smallest of Georgia’s protected turtles.

Federally threatened and listed as endangered in Georgia, bog turtles are rare in much of their native range due to loss of habitat. Researchers know of only 67 turtles in the state, 16 of which were released from a “headstart” restoration effort. With increased trapping efforts this year, 40 percent of the known bog turtles in Georgia were captured and released during the monitoring season.

Trapping allows biologists to monitor populations, find new ones and collect egg-bearing females for the headstart program.

In the past, trapping was limited to 30 traps. Efforts were ramped up in 2010 when help from a State Wildlife Grant that provided funding for more traps and supported two bog turtle interns for the summer, Bryan Hudson and Theresa Stratmann. With the additional staff, Georgia Department of Natural Resources biologist Thomas Floyd was able to set 145 traps covering 12 sites in four counties.

“DNR’s recent bog habitat restoration efforts are a double-edged sword for bog turtle conservation,” Floyd said. While habitat improvements have been accomplished over the past three years, these efforts inadvertently made it harder to capture turtles that were previously concentrated in small pockets of suitable habitat. Yet, said Floyd, “The long-term benefits of these habitat improvements are well worth this added difficulty.”

Project Orianne joined the DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section in bog turtle conservation efforts this year. With 40 traps from DNR, staff at Project Orianne, an organization furthering conservation of eastern indigo snakes, trapped in multiple sites in northeastern Georgia.

There are three reasons for trapping bog turtles. Primarily, biologists trap in order to monitor known populations, collect data from individual animals on an annual basis and document previously uncaptured individual turtles. The second reason is to collect gravid females for the Bog Turtle Headstart program, which is why trapping is done from mid-May to mid-July. Turtles are also trapped to identify potential new populations.

One such population was discovered this year at a Union County wetland. The find demonstrates why bog turtles, which are typically elusive, often go unnoticed by landowners. The new site had all the characteristics of bog turtle habitat. But it took a month before a turtle was captured -- a lone male. Since bog turtles are not known to travel great distances and the closest population is approximately three miles away, biologists assume this turtle represents a new population for the area.

In addition, three new turtles were trapped in a Towns County site that had not been monitored since 1997 due to a lack of resources, along with three new turtles within a known population in Fannin County.

Another development this season is Georgia’s entry into a cooperative effort with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Biological Resources Division. Genetic samples taken from every bog turtle captured will be sent to the Leetown Science Center in Kearneysville, W.V. In doing so, DNR has joined all other states with known bog turtle populations in supplying genetic samples that will help biologists begin to understand the relatedness among populations of turtles across different states, as well as among and within local populations in Georgia. Information gleaned from these analyses is expected to help guide Georgia’s headstart efforts in determining an appropriate genetic source for establishing new bog turtle populations within the species’ range in the state.

Of the 21 turtles captured and released so far in 2010, three were gravid. Starting this year, the Chattahoochee Nature Center, a long-time cooperator in Georgia’s Bog Turtle Headstart program, agreed to receive gravid females during this and subsequent seasons. Gravid turtles were held in captivity until eggs were laid. Although the collection of gravid females from the wild is an important source of hatchlings, in previous years more hatchlings have been produced from captive stock than from wild-caught turtles. Beginning next year, Chattahoochee Nature Center will also be breeding some 15 captive bog turtles produced from previous years of the Bog Turtle Headstart program.
To learn more about bog turtles, watch a short video here or visit the DNR Wildlife Resources Division’s website,

Georgians can help conserve bog turtles and other rare and endangered animals not legally hunted, fished for or trapped, as well as native plants and habitats, through buying wildlife license plates featuring a bald eagle or a ruby-throated hummingbird. They can also donate to the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund state income tax checkoff or contribute online and by mail. These programs are vital to the Nongame Conservation Section, which receives no state general funds.

Visit for more information, or call Nongame Conservation offices in Social Circle (770-761-3035), Forsyth (478-994-1438) or Brunswick (912-264-7218).

Bog turtles are the smallest turtles in North America, averaging only 3.5 inches in length. Dark in color they are easily distinguished by a bright orange blotch on the head behind each eye. Like many turtles, they will bask in the sun when active but when it gets too hot these little guys burrow deep into the boggy soil to escape the sun’s rays. Females will lay two to five eggs and hatchlings emerge 52-60 days later, usually in mid-August.


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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

P&G Recalls Two Lots of Prescription Renal Diet Cat Food due to a Possible Health Risk

The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) (NYSE:PG), is voluntarily recalling two specific lots of its prescription renal dry cat food as a precautionary measure, as it has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella.

The following products are included:

Product Name
Lot Code
UPC Code
Iams Veterinary Formulas Feline Renal 5.5 lbs
0 19014 21405 1
Iams Veterinary Formulas Feline Renal 5.5 lbs
0 19014 21405 1

This product is available by prescription through veterinary clinics throughout the U.S.

No illnesses have been reported. A FDA analysis identified a positive result on the lot codes listed above. Lot codes can be found in the lower right corner on the back of the bag.

Consumers who have purchased dry cat food with these codes should discard it. People handling dry pet food can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with surfaces exposed to this product. Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may have decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, pets may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

For further information or a product refund call P&G toll-free at 877-894-4458 (Monday – Friday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM EST).

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IFAW, NSALA Save Unwanted Dogs From Canada 'Dog Shoot'

/PRNewswire/ -- IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) rescued 36 dogs from a "dog shoot" in Northern Canada that was scheduled to control the local dog population. IFAW worked with rescues and shelters across Eastern Canada to find homes for twenty-nine of the dogs. The remaining seven dogs will arrive at North Shore Animal League America (NSALA) in Port Washington, N.Y. today, where they will have a second chance at permanent homes in the United States.

IFAW's Northern Dogs Project team was in a remote Canadian community providing vital veterinary care and humane education when concerned community members alerted IFAW's team that due to concerns about the number of roaming dogs, unwanted dogs would soon be rounded up and shot. In many remote communities without access to regular veterinary care, this is often considered the only means of controlling the dog population.

"Once we heard about the dog shoot, we immediately collaborated with a vocal minority of community members who wanted to find a humane solution for these unwanted dogs," said IFAW's Canadian project manager, Jan Hannah. "It is a mark of tremendous progress for the community to move from dog shooting to considering transport as a humane alternative."

This community is one of eight in which IFAW has been working with since 2002, providing veterinary services, animal welfare education and outreach, assistance with animal control regulations and, in some cases, finding homes for unwanted dogs.

North Shore Animal League America's SVP of Operations Joanne Yohannan said, "The seven dogs that are being humanely relocated represent the hope for all of the roaming dogs in this area. It is an example that you do not have to shoot animals to combat an overpopulation problem."

In 2005, IFAW and NSALA teamed up during IFAW's Chinese dog rescue to find new homes for 30 homeless dogs from an overcrowded shelter in China, which could not be legally re-homed in Beijing due to local size and breed restrictions and strict dog ownership regulations. These high profile dogs helped raise awareness about shelter pets and led to increased shelter adoptions. To adopt a dog or cat, contact North Shore Animal League America at 516-883-7575.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

New Report Shows Sharp Declines in Populations of Wild Cats and Dogs

/PRNewswire/ -- The Fading Call of the Wild, a report released today by the world's leading wildlife conservation organizations, details the increasing threats and plunging populations of big cats and rare canids living in the wild. Faced with a striking loss of habitat and prey due to over-development of land and direct killing by poachers and others who see them as a threat, wild cats such as lions, cheetahs and snow leopards, and wild dogs like the Ethiopia wolf and bush dog face an uncertain future.

Eighty percent of all wild cat species are experiencing population declines, as are 25 percent of wild canids - the family of foxes, wolves and wild dogs. The report looks beyond the raw numbers and delves into the plight of 15 of these species that are considered ecologically vital, detailing their current numbers in the wild, changes to the population in the last ten years, and conservation solutions for improving their status. The 15 species were chosen because they are considered umbrella species that, if conserved appropriately, protect their corresponding landscapes and other species dependent on those ecosystems.

A snapshot of the report's findings include:

-- A century ago there were as many as 200,000 lions living in Africa,
today there are fewer than 30,000. Lions are now extinct from 26
countries that they formerly occupied. The single greatest threat to
lions is killing by people who own livestock. Herders and ranchers
shoot, trap and poison lions across their range.
-- There are fewer than 500 Darwin's Fox living today. The animal are
found only in Chile and their restricted distribution makes them
highly vulnerable to extinction. The gentle and curious canids are not
fearful of people which contributes to their endangerment, however
timber exploration and land development are the two biggest factors
that have pushed the animals to the brink.
-- There are fewer than 7,000 snow leopards in the wild today. Snow
leopard poaching is rampant with their bones and hides frequently
confiscated in illegal shipments of wildlife parts bound for markets
in China and throughout Asia.
-- Fewer than 500 Ethiopian wolves remain with more than half found in
the Bale Mountains. The highly social animals live in packs which
makes them especially vulnerable when their populations decrease.
Entire packs are wiped out by rabies outbreaks, while those that
survive face rapid loss of habitat.
-- One of the most ecologically and genetically unique animals, African
wild dogs exist in less than seven percent of their historic range,
and are extinct in 22 countries that they formerly inhabited.
Accidental snaring and rabies have decimated populations throughout
Africa, and fewer than 8,000 of the animals remain.

The report calls for increasing conservation resources and swift policy changes, specifically passage of the Great Cats and Rare Canids Conservation Act that would provide conservation assistance to the 15 species highlighted in the Fading Call of the Wild report.

"Great cats and rare canids are currently suffering from a variety of threats and the positive impact from their protection will no doubt benefit them and many other species," said Jeff Flocken, DC Office Director, IFAW. "The Great Cats and Rare Canids Conservation Act offers viable and valuable methods to ensure a safe future for these majestic animals."

First introduced in July 2004, and set to expire this year unless the Senate takes action, the measure would provide wild cats and canids the same type of conservation assistance presently supporting tigers, great apes, elephants, sea turtles and other iconic species through the Multinational Species Conservation Funds, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The funds were designed to conserve species deemed by Americans to be of special global value, but simultaneously endangered with extinction.

Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) are leading the charge to usher the bill through their chamber this Congress. The House passed the measure in April 2009 with a two-thirds majority and bi-partisan support led by Reps. Jay Inslee (WA-01), Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) and the International Conservation Caucus. The Act is supported by more than 80 scientific, animal welfare, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos and aquariums.

Actress Glenn Close contributed the foreword for the report and noted, "Whether it is the iconic African lion or the shy Darwin's fox, these animals hold an important place in the landscapes they occupy. They are all ecosystem guardians. As predators, they maintain healthy functioning places, and their absence negatively affects wildlife and people. Not only would losing these species have drastic ecological and economic impacts, I believe their loss will impact us in ways we aren't event able to yet articulate."

The report was authored by Panthera, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, in cooperation with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Canids and Cats Specialists Groups.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Alligator Quota Hunt Application Window Closes July 31st

The window of opportunity is closing for those interested in the 2010 alligator hunting season.  If you want a chance to hunt, you need to be sure to get your online quota application in before midnight July 31.  The 2010 alligator hunting season runs Sept. 4-Oct. 3 and 850 applicants will be selected to participate. 

Applicants should check their application status through their account after the deadline.  Selected hunters will receive a temporary harvest tag and information packet by mail in early August. Additionally, hunters have the opportunity to attend a voluntary training session during which wildlife experts provide information on safety, capture and handling techniques, processing and more.

In Georgia, alligators typically live south of the fall line (which roughly traverses the cities of Columbus, Macon and Augusta), occupying a variety of natural wetland habitats including marshes, swamps, rivers, farm ponds and lakes. Male alligators can reach 16 feet in length, while female alligators rarely surpass 10 feet. Large alligators could weigh more than 800 pounds. Opportunistic carnivores, they eat small mammals, aquatic insects, crayfish, frogs, fish, turtles, water birds and more.

For more information on the 2010 alligator hunting season, visit , contact a WRD Game Management Office or call (770) 760-3045.

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Follow us on Twitter:  @GAFrontPage Kicks Off Paws N'Doodles Show & Tail Contest to Benefit American Humane Association's Pets and Women's Shelters (PAWS)® Program

/PRNewswire/ -- To celebrate the launch of its online social and e-commerce networking community for pet lovers, is holding the Paws N'Doodles Show & Tail Contest. The contest, which solicits the best short story about a pet accompanied by a doodle illustrating it, will benefit American Humane's Pets and Women's Shelters (PAWS) Program, which promotes on-site housing of pets at domestic violence shelters. created the contest to help the PAWS Program raise awareness about the lack of domestic violence shelters that accommodate abused women with pets, and to help fund those accommodations at more shelters across the U.S. All net proceeds from the contest will go to the PAWS Program.

American Humane, the leading organization raising awareness about The Link® between animal abuse and other forms of violence, launched the PAWS Program in 2008. Because there are few options for safely housing pets from abusive homes, domestic violence victims often feel they have little choice but to stay and subject themselves, their children and their pets to further violence. In fact, up to 85 percent of women entering domestic violence shelters reported that a partner had threatened, injured or killed the family pet, according to a 1997 study.

How to Enter the Paws N'Doodles Show &Tail Contest

Entering the contest is simple and can be done online. Take a high-quality digital photograph or scan of your doodle, and save it in JPEG or PDF format. Save your story as a Word document or a PDF. Then fill out the Paws N'Doodles online entry form at and attach your artwork and story. The deadline for entries is midnight on Sept. 26, 2010.

Contest Entry Fee

The fee for a single entry in the Paws N'Doodles Show & Tail Contest is $5.00 U.S. per entry. You may submit as many entries as you wish, but each single entry must be accompanied by the corresponding $5.00 U.S. entry fee and a separate entry form. All entry fees will be donated to the PAWS Program.

First Prize

The first-prize winner will receive $500, and his/her artwork will be featured as the cover art of the Paws N'Doodles Show and Tail book to be published in 2011 to raise funds for the PAWS Program. A matching $500 donation with a framed copy of the first-prize doodle and short story will be presented to American Humane for the PAWS Program.


Entries will be posted at, and viewers can vote online for their favorite entries beginning Aug. 15, 2010, through midnight on October 22, 2010.

For more contest rules, as well as second and third place and honorable-mention prize information, visit

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

The HSUS and HSLF Praise U.S. House for Cracking Down on Cruel ‘Crush’ Videos

The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund commend the U.S. House of Representatives for overwhelmingly approving H.R. 5566 by a vote of 416-3 to provide law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on traffickers of animal crush videos.

This narrowly crafted statute, introduced by Reps. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif. and Gary Peters, D-Mich., with 263 cosponsors, will ban interstate and foreign commerce in obscene videos showing the intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, and impaling of puppies, kittens, and other live animals for the sexual titillation of viewers.

H.R. 5566 was introduced in response to the April Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Stevens. The Court ruled that a l999 law on depictions of animal cruelty was "overbroad" because it might criminalize some Constitutionally protected speech. The Court acknowledged the long history of animal protection laws in the United States and left open a pathway for Congress to pass a more targeted law aimed at extreme animal cruelty.

"By enacting H.R. 5566, Congress can provide a top kill to a merciless subculture of animal crushing videos that have bubbled up in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling on the subject in April," said Wayne Pacelle, president & CEO of The Humane Society of the United States.  "This legislation is narrowly tailored to address the Court's concerns, and the current legislation does not limit speech, but only conduct of the most abhorrent and vile kind."

"Violence is not a First Amendment issue; it is a law enforcement issue," Rep. Gallegly said. "Ted Bundy and Ted Kaczynski tortured or killed animals before killing people. The FBI, U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice consider animal cruelty to be one of the early warning signs of potential violence by youths. This bill is one step toward ending this cycle of violence."

"Animal torture videos are heinous, barbaric and completely unacceptable and we're going to stop them once and for all," said Rep. Peters. "It's hard to believe that this sort of thing even exists, and that a new law is needed to prevent it.  Animal torture is outrageously disturbing and common decency and morality dictates that those engaged in it shouldn't be profiting from it, they should be in prison."

 The HSUS and HSLF express their strong gratitude to Congressmen Gallegly and Peters for working to protect animals from malicious acts of cruelty. The groups also thank Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., Ranking Member Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Scott, D-Va., for their leadership in addressing this problem swiftly, and Congressmen Jim Moran, D-Va., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., for their long-standing involvement on the issue, along with all the members who cosponsored and voted for this important legislation.


In 1999, an HSUS investigation uncovered an underground subculture of animal crush videos in which puppies, kittens and other small animals are stomped, smothered and pierced to death, often by women wearing high-heeled shoes, to cater to those with a fetish for viewing this cruel behavior.
Legislation originally introduced by Rep. Gallegly and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1999 banned the creation, sale, and possession for interstate or foreign commerce of depictions of illegal and intentional maiming, mutilating, torture, wounding, or killing of a living animal.
Before the 1999 law was enacted, there were approximately 3,000 horrific animal crush videos available in the marketplace, selling for up to $300 apiece.
That market disappeared soon after Congress enacted the 1999 law with overwhelming bipartisan support, but since a federal appellate court declared the law unconstitutional in July 2008, crush videos have once again proliferated on the Internet.
The House Judiciary Committee's Crime Subcommittee took expert testimony at a May 26 hearing, and the full Judiciary Committee unanimously approved H.R. 5566 by a vote of 23-0 on July 23.

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Black Rhino Passes at Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta officials announced today that Boma, a 23-year-old male eastern black rhinoceros, passed away on July 22, 2010, despite two weeks of aggressive treatment by the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams.

“We are saddened by this loss. Bo was a special member of the Zoo Atlanta family for more than 20 years and was an important ambassador for a critically endangered species,” said Raymond King, President and CEO. “The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams exhibited extraordinary commitment and dedication to his care and treatment, particularly during the last few weeks as his condition declined.”

Boma had several periods of intermittent gastrointestinal problems that became severe earlier this month despite aggressive treatment. His condition went from guarded to grave since the week of July 12.

Born in 1986 at the Zoo Dvur Kralove in the Czech Republic, Boma has resided at Zoo Atlanta since 1989. He was considered part of the rebirth of the Zoo in the late 1980’s. Zoo Atlanta is also home to a female black rhinoceros, Andazi, 3. As is the case with all animal deaths, regardless of age, a necropsy will be performed at the University of Georgia through Zoo Atlanta’s partnership with the Department of Pathology in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
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Dogs need a little more love during mosquito season

(ARA) - As a parent, you would never consider sending your child to school without the proper vaccinations. But did you know that according to the American Animal Hospital Association, about 50 percent of dogs in the United States go without preventative treatment for one of the most common diseases among canines?

Many people consider their dogs to be part of the family. And with mosquito season in full swing, dog owners should consider the best way to protect dogs against heartworm disease. Mosquito bites may be just a simple nuisance to humans, but they can spread heartworm disease without pet owners knowing, and dogs are most at risk of becoming seriously ill from the disease.

Heartworm used to be relatively contained in the American southeast, where warm, humid temperatures create good breeding grounds for mosquitoes. However, longer warm seasons in northern states and increased pet travel throughout the country have led to dramatic growth in the spread of heartworm over the past decade. Veterinarians in regions that were once considered low-risk now report heartworm outbreaks in their clinics, and the parasite can now be found in all 50 states.

Recognizing heartworm infection can be tricky. Symptoms include chronic cough and fatigue, but often the disease does not show any signs until it reaches an advanced stage. Eventually, heartworm can lead to lung, heart, liver and kidney failure.

Fortunately, heartworm prevention is simple, cost effective, and the best way to save dogs from the long, difficult and expensive treatment required once infection takes hold. Here are a few ways to keep dogs safe:

* The American Heartworm Society recommends getting your dog tested annually for heartworm. During these visits, talk to your veterinarian about the best method of prevention against the disease.

* Protect your dog with a monthly application of a heartworm preventative medication. Some topicals, like Advantage Multi for Dogs (imidacloprid + moxidectin) Topical Solution, also kill fleas and treat intestinal parasites, such as hookworms, roundworms and whipworms.

* During warmer months, keep your dog inside as much as possible during early morning and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

Through annual testing and use of monthly preventatives, you can protect your dog from heartworm disease and help keep your dog healthy. If you haven't thought about prevention before, now is the time in the peak of mosquito season. For more information on heartworm prevention, visit

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Giraffe born at Zoo Atlanta

Glenda, a 3-year-old female giraffe at Zoo Atlanta, has given birth to her first calf. Born on July 13, the newborn stands around 6 feet tall and is estimated to weigh between 100 and 150 pounds. The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams will continue to monitor both Glenda and the calf, who will have an opportunity to bond indoors before exploring their African Plains habitat.

“We are extremely excited about the birth of the calf,” said Raymond King, President and CEO. “Giraffes have long been a very popular and charismatic part of the collection.”

As is typical of the species, giraffe mothers give birth standing up, and their offspring are usually born feet-first. Healthy calves are able to walk within two hours of birth.

The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams previously based their estimation of Glenda’s condition on weight gain and physical signs that she was expecting. “Glenda’s exact birth window remained uncertain. Giraffe gestation is 15 months,” said Dr. Dwight Lawson, Senior Vice President of Collections, Education and Conservation.

Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in October 2006, Glenda and her half-sister, 4-year-old Mona, arrived at Zoo Atlanta in October 2007. The females share their habitat with the calf’s father, 4-year-old Abu.

The world’s tallest living land mammals, giraffes are native to grasslands and open woodlands in east Africa. The species is not currently endangered, although wild populations face decline due to habitat loss.

Mother and calf will bond off-exhibit for two to three weeks; stay tuned for exciting details on the calf’s debut.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Alternative Evolution: Why Change Your Own Genes When You Can Borrow Someone Else's?

/PRNewswire/ -- It has been a basic principle of evolution for more than a century that plants and animals can adapt genetically in ways that help them better survive and reproduce.

Now, in a paper to be published in the journal Science, University of Rochester biologist John Jaenike and colleagues document a clear example of a new mechanism for evolution. In previous well documented cases of evolution, traits that increase an animal's ability to survive and reproduce are conferred by favorable genes, which the animal passes on to its offspring.

Jaenike's team has chronicled a striking example of a bacteria infecting an animal, giving the animal a reproductive advantage, and being passed from mother to children. This symbiotic relationship between host animal and bacteria gives the host animal a readymade defense against a hazard in its environment and thus has spread through the population by natural selection, the way a favorable gene would.

Jaenike provides the first substantial report of this effect in the wild in his paper "Adaptation via Symbiosis: Recent Spread of a Drosophila Defensive Symbiont," but he says it may be a common phenomenon that has been happening undetected in many different organisms for ages.

Aside from shedding light on an important evolutionary mechanism, his findings could aid in developing methods that use defensive bacteria to stave off diseases in humans.

Jaenike studied a species of fly, Drosophila neotestacea, which is rendered sterile by a parasitic worm called a nematode, one of the most abundant, diverse, and destructive parasites of plants and animals in the world. Nematodes invade female flies when they are young by burrowing through their skin and prevent them from producing eggs once they mature. However, when a female fly is also infected with a bacteria species called Spiroplasma, the nematodes grow poorly and no longer sterilize the flies, Jaenike found. He also discovered that, as a result of the Spiroplasma's beneficial impact, the bacteria have been spreading across North America and rapidly increasing in frequency in flies as they are passed from mother to offspring. Testing preserved flies from the early 1980s, Jaenike found that the helpful bacteria were present in only about 10% of flies in the eastern United States. By 2008, the frequency of Spiroplasma infection had jumped to about 80%.

"These flies were really getting clobbered by nematodes in the 1980s, and it's just remarkable to see how much better they are doing today. The spread of Spiroplasma makes me wonder how much rapid evolutionary action is going on beneath the surface of everything we see out there," Jaenike said.

He reasoned that the substantial increase in Spiroplasma infection was an evolutionary response to the recent colonization of North America by nematodes. As the nematodes invaded the continent, the bacteria proved to be a convenient and potent defense against the nematodes' sterilizing effect. Now, the majority of flies in eastern North America carry the bacteria, and the bacterial infection appears to be spreading west. Without any mutation in their own genes, the flies have rapidly developed a defense against an extremely harmful parasite simply by co-opting the genetic material of another organism and passing it on from generation to generation.

"This is a beautiful case showing that the main reason these Spiroplasma are present in these flies is for their defensive role," said Nancy Moran, the Fleming Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. Moran studies the role of defensive symbionts in aphids. "These heritable symbionts are a way for an animal host to acquire a new defense very quickly. One way to get a truly novel defense is to get a whole organism rather than mutating your own genes that aren't that diverse to begin with."

Jaenike's work could also have implications for disease control. Nematodes carry and transmit severe human diseases, including river blindness and elephantiasis. By uncovering the first evidence of a natural, bacterial defense against nematodes, Jaenike's work could pave the way for novel methods of nematode control. He plans to investigate that prospect further.

Jaenike's coauthors on the paper are Robert Unckless and Lisa Boelio from the University of Rochester, and Steve Perlman and Sarah Cockburn from the University of Victoria in British Columbia. The work was funded by the National Science Foundation.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Some of the Strangest Sights in the Animal World No Longer Live Only in Dreams

Editor's note:

...and it's not cloning.

It's just so hard to imagine how all these new hybrids are working out in nature or in captivity by breeders.  I just have to wonder about how a spider mixed with a goat really is an improvement in nature. 

It used to be fun using our imagination as we dreamed up fantasy animal combinations. 

This article from the Smithsonian caught the attention of our staff and we thought it might catch yours as well.  At least, it should catch your imagination.

Animal Hybrids: Ligers and Tigons and Pizzly Bears, Oh My!

Let’s face it. Centaurs, chimeras, griffins, the Little Mermaid, the Thunder Cats and all those cool hybrid creatures from Avatar: The Last Airbender are just legends and fantasies. And Peter Parker remains the only human, as of yet, to gain super-powers from a radioactive spider. Sigh.
Read more:

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What Does Your Dog’s Tail Say to You?

The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association is seeking entries for its Tales of the Natural Tail Dog Photo Contest. Dog owners or foster care providers are encouraged to submit photo entries that showcase the natural beauty or communication value of their dog's natural — as opposed to docked — tail. Entries can be submitted online through July 31, 2010.

The Tales of the Natural Tail Dog Photo Contest is part of the HSVMA's campaign to educate the public about surgeries performed on dogs and cats for cosmetic and convenience reasons. Those surgeries include tail docking and ear cropping of dogs, cat declawing, and devocalization of both dogs and cats to eliminate their ability to "speak." These surgeries are typically performed for aesthetic reasons or to solve what a pet owner perceives as a problem, such as barking or scratching. However, they aren't medically necessary and, like all surgeries, they carry some risk. HSVMA promotes solving behavior issues through training and other available alternatives.

"A dog's tail can illustrate every emotion from happiness to fear," said Dr. Gary Block, DVM, an internal medicine specialist who co-owns a veterinary clinic in Rhode Island. "It's an integral communication tool and our focus is to respect that natural canine attribute."

A panel of HSVMA judges will select a first, second and third place winner based on how well the photo and the caption illustrate the beauty and function of the tail. Judges include artist Ron Burns, author and radio show host Tracie Hotchner, and Dr. Gary Block, who serves on the HSVMA Leadership Council.

The three winners of the contest will receive gift certificates for $100, $50 and $25, respectively, to The HSUS's online store, Humane Domain. The store features a variety of pet products and gifts for pet lovers. Winners will also be presented with dog-themed prize packs perfect for any canine guardian. Winners will be announced in August and winning photos will be posted on the HSVMA website.

A flyer promoting the contest is available for download to post in veterinary clinics, animal shelters, adoption venues, dog parks and other locations frequented by dogs and their caregivers.

For complete photo contest rules and to access the online form, go to

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Snakes of Summer Cause for Awareness, Not Fear

Editor's Note:  Who knew that killing a snake in Georgia could be a misdemeanor?  Wow.  Good thing I always keep a wide berth!  No matter whether you adore the slimy creatures or want to shiver in distaste, it is most important to know how to identify a venomous species.  Take the time and learn-  after all, it could save a life!

As temperatures soar, don’t be surprised if you see more late-afternoon activity on your sidewalks and driveways, particularly activity of the slithering variety. Not to worry, though: Snakes can be a homeowner’s best friends, as long as you remember a few important tips.

First, snakes are best left alone. Most snakebites occur when a person tries to handle or corner a snake, prompting the animal to defend itself.

Second, of the 41 native snake species known in Georgia, only six are venomous. Although telling some species apart can be difficult, becoming familiar with the colors and patterns of venomous species can enable even novices to determine whether a snake is venomous or not, providing peace of mind.

The Georgia Wildlife Resources Division has several online resources intended to help the public identify venomous and non-venomous snakes and understand their natural roles. Some of these resources include the brochure “Is it a Water Moccasin?, plus the guide to Georgia and South Carolina snakes at There is also the excellent reference “Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia” available from the University of Georgia Press (

Non-venomous snakes such as the scarlet kingsnake and eastern hognose are sometimes confused with their venomous counterparts. Venomous snakes are often identified by their triangular-shaped head. However, many snake species flatten their head when threatened. Use caution when approaching any snake, and snakes in the wild should only be handled by an experienced person and after proper identification.

As reptiles, snakes are cold-blooded and rely on external sources to heat their bodies. In the fall and winter, you are more likely to see them warming themselves on rocks, sidewalks and paved roads. During summer, many snakes avoid open areas during the hottest part of the day and may become much more active during the evening.

About half of Georgia’s snake species give live birth. The young of all others are born from eggs, hatching within 40-80 days, depending on the species.

Newborn snakes can be seen from mid-summer to fall. Also, during summer, many snakes will leave their usual hiding spots looking for prey that may be found close to dwindling water sources.
Adults of many of Georgia’s smaller snake species are often mistakenly assumed to be newborns.

Although snakes in the state range from the eastern indigo, with recorded lengths up to 8 feet, 4 inches, to the crowned snake, which grows only 13 inches long, several non-venomous species commonly found in residential areas are small. These include worm, ringneck and brown snakes, which each average about 12 inches in length as adults.

All snakes are an essential part of Georgia’s wildlife resources. Fear or negative attitudes about snakes often stem from a lack of knowledge of their habits and role in the ecosystem. The majority of snakes found throughout the state are non-venomous, harmless and usually beneficial to man. A greater understanding of their importance as predator and prey often brings a greater appreciation for these admittedly not so “warm and fuzzy” animals with which we share our yards, gardens and forests.
If you spot a venomous snake in an area where it represents a danger to children or pets, you can contact Wildlife Resources for a list of private wildlife removal specialists.

Close Encounters
What to do when you see a snake in your yard:
  • Never attempt to handle any kind of snake. If you are unsure of the snake’s identification, keep your distance
  • A venomous snake will most often have a triangular-shaped head as well as elliptical pupils similar to cats’ eyes, rather than round ones.
  • Snakes are important predators that feed on rodents, insects and even other snakes. There is no need to fear a snake in your yard. Simply give them the space they need.
  • Despite the relatively low level of danger posed by venomous snakes many people consider their fear justification for killing snakes. In Georgia it is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail to possess or kill many of nongame wildlife species, including non-venomous snakes (O.C.G.A. §27-1-28).
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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Endangered Sea Turtle Nests to Receive Special Transportation

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is proud to announce that FedEx Corporation (NYSE: FDX) is joining the efforts to protect sea turtle nests and eggs from potential impacts of the oil spill in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The company will be donating resources to transport hundreds of nests containing thousands of eggs to Florida’s Atlantic Coast, and its logistics experts are working with the Unified Command and its partner organizations to implement this complex translocation. The relocation efforts are scheduled to begin in mid-July and continue throughout the hatching season.

“In light of the imminent threat to sea turtles, we felt it was important to help move this extraordinary project forward”

FedEx is working closely with Unified Command Wildlife Branch scientists to create a safe and secure transportation solution for the relocation effort. FedEx will take great care to protect the sea turtle nests and eggs, which will travel exclusively in its FedEx Custom Critical air-ride, temperature-controlled vehicles.

“In light of the imminent threat to sea turtles, we felt it was important to help move this extraordinary project forward,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director of NFWF. “Given our strong relationship with FedEx and our long-standing relationship with the federal agencies, we were able to move quickly to develop an effective plan. We’ll continue to work with all parties so that this relocation offers the best hope for sea turtles’ survival.”

NFWF is supporting a number of wildlife projects in the Gulf region and is helping to coordinate the work of federal agencies, biologists and others who will be involved in the massive transport effort. The Foundation, established by Congress in 1984, is a non-profit conservation organization that works closely with federal agencies and private sector partners to protect wildlife and natural resources.

The FedEx commitment to NFWF is in support of the company's EarthSmart Outreach efforts, in which FedEx contributes to the community in environmentally-focused ways. FedEx also provides logistics expertise, in-kind shipping and funding for disaster preparedness, relief and recovery, working with organizations including the Red Cross, Salvation Army and Heart to Heart International. A FedEx-sponsored Salvation Army disaster response unit is in use to support responders to the oil leak right now. In 2006, FedEx donated its transportation services to deliver more than 1.2 million pounds of medical and other relief supplies to the Gulf Coast area in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Infant Orangutan Passes at Zoo Atlanta

Sandar had been under round-the-clock care since birth

Sandar, a 3-month-old male Bornean orangutan at Zoo Atlanta, was euthanized on July 1, 2010, following multiple health complications since birth. The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams made the difficult decision based on a progressive deterioration in his condition over the last two weeks and no hope of improvement in his prognosis.

“The Zoo staff and the many dedicated nurses, doctors and specialists from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta went above and beyond the call in doing everything possible to combat Sandar’s many challenges and health complications. With his physical and developmental problems, he would never have survived this long in the wild,” said Dr. Dwight Lawson, Senior Vice President of Collections, Education and Conservation.

A critical care resident of the Zoo Atlanta Veterinary Clinic since shortly after his birth to 18-year-old Miri on March 30, Sandar had experienced a series of recurrent illnesses that left him reliant on supplemental oxygen provided by Cornerstone Medical and a nasogastric feeding tube. Despite round-the-clock care by Zoo veterinarians and nurses from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and ongoing efforts by pediatric specialists, Sandar’s prognosis had been recently downgraded from guarded to grave.

“The Zoo Atlanta family is saddened by the passing of Sandar, particularly given the daily acts of determination and commitment that went into his treatment,” said Raymond King, President and CEO. “The level of dedication and devotion that defined his care is unprecedented.”

Had Sandar’s condition improved, the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams were planning to reintroduce the infant to his parents, Miri and Sulango, and his brother, 6-year-old Satu. A future reunion with Miri or a surrogate orangutan parent would have been critical to Sandar’s development, as orangutan infants are entirely reliant on their mothers for critical life skills such as foraging and problem-solving. Orangutans have a longer dependent childhood than any other species, excepting only humans.

As is the case with all animal deaths, regardless of age, a necropsy will be performed at the University of Georgia through Zoo Atlanta’s partnership with the Department of Pathology in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

“Zoo Atlanta is deeply grateful to the nurses from Children’s, as well as to the specialists who devoted such energy and empathy to trying to help Sandar survive,” King said. “We are also deeply grateful for the support of the many members of the community who have followed his story.”

About Zoo Atlanta 
An accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoo Atlanta inspires value and preservation of wildlife through a unique mix of education and outdoor family fun. From well-known native wildlife to critically endangered species on the brink of extinction, the Zoo offers memorable close encounters with more than 1,000 animals from around the world. The Zoo’s newest attraction, Trader’s Alley: Wildlife’s Fading Footprints, featuring the debut of two new sun bears, opened in June 1010. Other highlights include the nation’s largest collection of western lowland gorillas, the nation’s largest zoological collection of orangutans and a global center of excellence. Zoo Atlanta is also proud to be one of only four zoos in the U.S. that giant pandas call home. The Zoo is open daily with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper talks, interactive wildlife shows, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, call 404.624.WILD or visit