Droning On

Droning OnThe Cumbre Vieja volcan0 on La Palma, Spain has been erupting since September. Dogs have been abandoned and are now trapped by molten lava.

Although permits are required to transport dogs by air in Spain, attempts are being made to air lift the weak and hungry dogs using drones.

The drones weigh 50kg and are equipped with wide nets. The drone operators have just 4 minutes to lure the dogs into the nets and another 4 to fly them to safety before the battery capacity is exhausted.

The world is waiting with baited breath to see if this first ever attempt to use this technique will succeed.

 

Hair Of The Dog

Hair Of The Dog Can you knit another dog from the hair that your dog sheds? Do you get through vacuum cleaners at twice the rate of your dog-less friends (if you have any)? Do you have take special measures to keep at least one suit of clothes free from dog hair?

I know how you feel, but nil desperandum – dog hair is not only useful for insulating and waterproofing dogs.

It appears that dog and human hair can be used for cleaning up oil spills. Speaking as a long-haired person who sheds almost as much as my dog, I find that quite cheering. The non-profit organisation, Matter of Trust, collects donations of human and canine hair to make mats and booms with recycled nylon tights (and I can ruin a pair of those just by looking at them, so it’s a win win for me). They particularly want ponytails that are 4 inches or longer (I draw the line there – my 18 inches are staying put). They even take donations of laundry lint.

Alabama hairdresser Phil McCrory invented the hair mat following the Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska and they have been used to mop up oil after many other incidents.

So don’t tear your hair out about your dog (or you) shedding – put it to good use!

 

The Canine Supply Chain

The Canine Supply Chain Got a dog recently? Do you know where from? Did you check the breeder’s licence? Do you know that you really saw the pups with their mother?

If you got a dog over lockdown or got a dog without waiting then the chances are that you got a dog from an illegal back street breeder or a puppy farm. 200 dogs were seized from a puppy farmer in Wales on September 17th. Some were fly-struck, 15 were seriously ill. In total there were 5 bitches nursing 18 puppies, 5 gravid bitches and 20 more adult dogs. Bichon Frises, Shih Tzus, Cockerpoos, Cavaliers, Labradors and Cocker Spaniels were all seized.

If you were expecting to get a dog in the next few weeks then maybe one of these was destined for your home.

Some of the dogs will be bale to find new homes but every time that ne of these dogs is sold or “rescued”, a space is created for another one.

There is an easy way to stop this trade.

Don’t expect to get a dog as if it were a click and collect item and think twice before going to a small “rescue”. That fashionable Cockerpoo that you got on demand was fuelling the abhorrent trade in dogs and you are as much a part of the problem as the criminals profiting from it.

Want advice on buying a dog or cat? Go to a qualified professional.

The Snip

Neutering dogs Vets in Greece have been on strike since last week in protest at the government’s proposal to introduce compulsory neutering for dogs and cats.

Greece has a serious problem with feral dogs and cats – or rather humans dumping dogs and cats when they can’t be bothered to look after them. TNVR programmes have failed elsewhere because they simply cannot keep up with the number of fresh abandoned and neutered animals and they have also been controversial in Greece. There is a legitimate argument that on its own, TNVR or TNR does nothing to improve welfare or social responsibility. Greece has attempted to remove large number of dogs from Athens with disastrous consequences. Athens alone is estimated to have 2 million feral dogs and cats, a population no doubt exacerbated by the Greek financial crisis. It also remains to be seen if Brexit cuts off the trade in street dogs that have usually been imported illegally into the UK under the Pet Passport scheme to fuel the current craze for owning a dog and to satisfy owners who won’t wait to get a dog from a breeder or who have been refused a dog from a domestic rescue.

The new bill proposes to introduce prison sentences and substantial fines for illegal trafficking of animals and theft of companion animals and penalties of up to €50,000 are stipulated for abuse including “poisoning, hanging, drowning, crushing and mutilation” of animals.

All well and good but it does seem that there is no provision for legitimate breeders to retain stud animals and there are fears for the preservation of local breeds such as the Cretan Hound.

The bill is due to be voted on following public consultation in June and the result could have implications for the many other countries that face similar problems.

Uber Alles

A landmark ruling in the USA holds out a ray of hope for the many people in the UK who are regularly refused access to hire vehicles when accompanied by their assistance dog.

Ride-share company Uber has been obliged to pay out $1.1M in compensation after a blind woman was repeatedly refused access by its drivers and even stranded short of her destination. Ultimately, she was sacked from employment following multiple cancelled rides. Uber used the same excuse that it has made in attempts to elude responsibilities towards its employees by claiming that the company itself is not able because the drivers are contractors. This was rightly rejected by an independent arbiter, the second time that Uber has been rebuked for such violations.

It is of course too late to repair the damage once appointments have been missed and jobs lost, but hopefully this ruling may serve as a warning to all drivers that they cannot use the excuse of anti-canine prejudice to run roughshod over the law.

Singing The Praises

Pepito New Opera West Humans are hard-wired to recognise patterns and sometimes, it seems that some things in life are circular.

I trained as an opera singer and it never occurred to me that as a canine and feline behaviourist and trainer, that world would re-surface and interact. However, my colleagues at The Bark magazine in the US alerted me to a new “dog opera” dedicated to promoting canine rehoming.

Pepito is a short work created by New Opera West, co-founded by Emily Thebaut and composer Mark Weiser as a non-profit for creating new work. It has been produced as an animation by Esperanza Guevara and Connor Jacobs and a live version.

Many New Opera West company members own or foster cats or dogs and composer Nicholas Lell Benavides was even inspired to adopt a dog after creating Pepito. The Company also worked with Muttville, an organisation that rehomes older dogs.

Taking on a dog is a massive commitment and a dog that has been through the rehoming process maybe multiple times is even more of a challenge. Pepito may be a resource helping to clear the shelters and may even introduce a new audience to the opera art form. Perhaps they might commission a work that will help to prevent the shelters filling up in the first place? Watch this space!

Paws For Thought

It is common for dogs to be refused access on the grounds of poor hygiene even when this is illegal. A survey by Guide Dogs found that 75% of assistance dog owners had been refused access to a restaurant, shop or taxi. 33% of assistance dog owners surveyed were refused entry to a minicab or taxi because the driver claimed an allergy but did not hold a valid medical exemption certificate. 20% of assistance dog owners surveyed said that a minicab or taxi arrived but the driver drove off without even speaking to them.

Owners of non-assistance dogs have experienced similar problems with access being refused unreasonably and often due to ignorance and prejudice.

So it is helpful that a new study from the Utrecht University found that 72% of dog paws were negative for Enterobacteriaceae compared to 42% of handlers’ shoe soles. They also had significantly lower bacterial counts. C. difficile, a concerning source of hospital-acquired infection, was found on the soles of one assistance dog user. 81% of the assistance dog users in the study had been denied access with their current dog once or several times for reasons of hygiene.

The study authors concluded “The general hygiene of dogs’ paws is far better than that of shoe soles…Thus, hygiene measures to reduce any contamination due to dog paws do not seem necessary.”

Lucy’s Loophole

Lucy's Law posterThe so-called Lucy’s Law which banned the third party sale of puppies and kittens in pet shops from April 6th, 2020 was greeted with some scepticism by canine professionals as being unlikely to have much impact on puppy farming.

The dubious sale of puppies and kittens had already largely been via websites and social media and now it seems that the puppy farmers have found a loophole enabling them to shift their animals via pet shops anyway.

A 2019 amendment to the 2018 Regulations permitted breeders to sell puppies under a pet sales licence instead of a breeders licence if a dog was bred “overseas” and thus not under the jurisdiction of English welfare legislation. DEFRA stated that this was to ensure compliance with European Union Directives and World Trade Organisation rules.

Private Eye magazine has highlighted the continuing problem of puppy farming in the six counties of Ireland and in Eire where thousands of puppy farmed dogs are being shipped to England for sale in premises owned by the very same puppy farmers who have managed to obtain 5 star ratings as licensed breeders in their English premises.

Business as usual – unless of course the source of the problem is dealt with, namely the people who buy these dogs in the first place.

A Priti Pickle

Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced that she will investigate the current spate of dog thefts and “go after” the thieves. Iain Duncan Smith has also waded in caller for tougher sentences for thefts of companion animals.

As argued previously here, there are dangers hidden in what might seem like a reasonable approach. If animals are treated as different to other forms of property, it could be the thin end of the wedge to legislating that they have “rights”, something that only a human can have. Biologists have historically described non-human animals by trying to define attributes and behaviours that are supposedly uniquely human. We are frequently finding that this is not the case as presupposed in several areas, but rights are different. Only a human can fight for rights and defend them. It is a vital distinction that humans should have legal responsibilities towards animals but that the animals themselves cannot have rights that they are incapable of comprehending or upholding.

The solution would be to treat animals as a special sort of chattel in the law; in other words, to recognise the difference between a sentient possession and a non-sentient one.

Patel stated “I’m not going to say a new law is on the way, I’m not going to promise something that not’s going to be delivered but I am looking at this right now.”

If the current statutes concerning dogs are anything to go by, “not going to be delivered” is the norm. The fact remains that owners are ignorant of the laws and even when informed, often carry on breaking them as they know that the chances of being caught are virtually non-existent.

It is easy for politicians to appeal to sentiment to gain a few positive headlines, but the fact remains that a great deal of dog theft could be prevented by owners not leaving dogs unattended, training good recall and actually paying attention to their dogs when out. Not buying dogs from puppy farms and back street breeders, often via web sites, and exercising due diligence before purchase would result in the market for stolen dogs evaporating.

…and in the meantime, if you want a Priti Pawtel dog or cat toy, contact Pet Hates Toys.

How Dogs Won The White House – and Georgia

We noted that dogs were coming back into the White House and that the Democrats made a witty add that could have been subtitled All The Presidents’ Dogs (with apologies to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein).

It seems that it was not just DC that scored by playing the canine card. Georgia was a surprise win for the Democrats and it seems that dogs played a part there – well, to be precise, a beagle called Alvin who doesn’t even belong to the successful candidate. It seems that political campaigns are rarely fought without smears and other dirty tricks these days but the US presidential election of 2020 caused even the hardiest of journalists and commentators to run out of superlatives.

Republican scare tactics against the black candidate were not pretty but the Democrats countered by setting up their man as being an apple pie regular guy, complete with borrowed dog.

Alvin must surely go down in history as being the lockdown dog par excellence and, in a country where more than half the population own at least one dog and where approximately 40% of the population are neither Caucasian or Hispanic, the numbers are clearly pro-dog.