Monthly Archives: March 2015

Airport’s secret weapon for clearing birds from runway has 4 legs

Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Mich., has a furry, 6-year-old secret weapon to solve its runway bird problem: Piper the border collie. After a loon crashed through the cockpit window of a landing plane, it became clear that additional measures were needed to protect planes beyond the usual sirens, pyrotechnics and other tools. Piper’s work has already made an impact, and Piper’s handler says the dog enjoys the work. (Michigan) (free registration) (3/30)

Veterinarian patents spinal brace for dogs

Veterinarian Mark Besancon designed a spinal brace for dogs after repeatedly dealing with patients who had a similar need. “Surgery is the treatment of choice, but financially it’s not the right option for everyone,” Besancon said. He worked with veterinary supply distributor Jorgensen Labs of Loveland, Colo., to develop the final design, which has been patented. Victoria Advocate (Texas) (3/26)

Washington State narcotics dog dies after methamphetamine exposure

During a drug bust that yielded 44 pounds of methamphetamine and $225,000, Tacoma, Wash., police dog Barney inhaled some of the drug after alerting his handler to its presence on Tuesday. The dog suffered seizures and a rise in body temperature to 109 degrees. Barney showed some improvement Wednesday but died that night. “Barney will be remembered as a dedicated member of our department, who without a doubt made Tacoma safer by virtue of his work and his service,” Police Chief Donald Ramsdell said. The Olympian (Olympia, Wash.) (3/26), The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.) (3/25)

Before you ever consider PETA as a humane organization read this


A Virginia bill signed into law this week may force PETA to greatly change the way it operates its only “animal shelter” in Norfolk, VA.

The legislation states that a private animal shelter is “a facility operated for the purpose of finding permanent adoptive homes for animals.”

While most would consider that simply stating the obvious, PETA operates differently.
For years, nearly every cat and most dogs collected by PETA are killed.  In 2014, PETA euthanized 2,454 of its 3,369 cats, dogs and other animals. Just 23 dogs and 16 cats were adopted.

PETA lobbied strongly against the Virginia bill. Nevertheless, the legislation received broad bipartisan support and will go into effect in July.  Still to be drafted are regulations to guide the implementation and enforcement of the law.

The Huffingon Post has a lengthy article on PETA’s claims that it operates in the best interest of the animals in its care, and the pushback on that assertion by several other animal advocates.

The article’s author, Huffington Post’s animal welfare editor Arin Greenwood, posted another excellent article about PETA’s practices in February that includes this observation by “no-kill” animal advocate Nathan Winogard:

“How much money did PETA take in last year from unsuspecting donors who helped pay for this mass carnage? $51,933,001: $50,449,023 in contributions, $627,336 in merchandise sales, and $856,642 in interest and dividends. They finished the year with $4,551,786 more in the bank than they started, after expenses. They did not see fit to use some of that to comprehensively promote animals for adoption or to provide veterinary care for the animals who needed it.

“By contrast, the Lynchburg Humane Society, also in Virginia, took in about the same number of animals as PETA but saved 94% and without PETA’s millions. Seagoville Animal Services in Texas took in 1/3 of the numbers (about 700 animals) but only 1/20th of 1% of the amount of money that PETA did, saving 99% of them on a paltry $29,700 budget. In fact, hundreds of cities and towns across America are saving over 90% of the animals and doing so on a fraction of PETA’s wealth.”

Marine mammal experts overwhelmed by sea lion strandings

A record number of sea lion pups have been stranded this year off the West Coast, with 1,800 pups seen in three months. That’s more than the total stranded in all of 2013, another outlier year. Staff at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, Calif., are working long hours to care for the pups, many of which enter the facility in critical condition and in need of round-the-clock care. It’s not clear why the pups are stranding, but weather patterns have been to blame in the past and are the likely culprit this year, experts say. National Public Radio (3/20)

Opossums could be a source of universal antivenin

Following up on tests that began in the 1940s, researchers found that a previously identified peptide chain that renders opossums immune to snake venom affords the same protection when given to mice. They hope the findings will lead to a universal antivenin that will also be useful against other animal and plant-based toxins. CNET (3/22)

I would hope this leads to domesticating the opossum. That species likes human attention and takes to captivity well – if gotten as pouch babies and hand reared. Nobody is breeding them in captivity but that could be next.