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The Ruff Report: A recap of news involving dogs Aug. 24 to Aug. 30, 2008

Week of Aug. 24 to Aug. 30, 2008

Still time to file food-recall claim

Dog owners whose pets who became ill or died from eating food that contained a contaminated ingredient from China have until Nov. 24 to file a claim against the pet food manufacturers.

USA Today is reporting that nearly 6,000 claims have been filed so far in a class-action settlement stemming from the recall in 2007.

A $24 million cash fund to compensate pet owners whose cats and dogs became sick or died after eating the contaminated food has been set up by food-makers and retailers as part of a settlement.

Claims are reviewed by an independent administrator. Claimants may receive a 100% cash payment for all documented expenses deemed reasonable, including veterinary bills and burial costs. They may receive up to $900 for undocumented expenses. Under the terms of the settlement, most claims are likely to be paid next year.

For more information about filing a claim, visit or call the claims administrator at 800-392-7785.

Menu Foods, other pet-food makers and retailers agreed in May to set up a $24 million cash fund to compensate pet owners whose cats and dogs became sick or died after eating food that had a contaminated ingredient from China.

The Food and Drug Administration never identified how many pets were affected, but it received more than 17,000 complaints.

The recall, the largest ever for the pet-food industry, began on March 16, 2007, with Menu Foods, a maker of many wet pet-food brands. Eventually, the recall grew to involve 12 pet-food makers and 180 brands of pet food and treats.

Toy ball for dogs poses choking hazard

Dog owners who have purchased Pimple Ball with Bells are being warned to take the toy away from their pets because of a choking hazard.

Four Paws, a pet-toy maker in Hauppauge, N.Y., says some versions of the toy have a manufacturing defect, the company announced on its Web site. The company is no longer shipping the toy to outlets and retailers have been told to take them off the shelves.

The company says the toys affected are item numbers 20220, 20225, and 20227 with UPC numbers 045663 20220 0, 045663 20225 5, and 045663 20227 9, respectively.

Consumers can return the toy for a replacement to: Four Paws Products, Pimple Ball with Bell Return, 50 Wireless Blvd., Hauppauge, N.Y. 11788.

For more information, the company can be reached at 1-800-835-0909.

Paralyzed pound pooch to get wheelchair

A paralyzed pound pooch has new hope of being adopted and leading a normal life thanks to the donation of a custom-made wheelchair that will help him get around., an Amherst, New Hampshire-based company that offers products for special needs animals, will donate the wheelchair to Willy, a 5-year-old Pomeranian who has no use of his legs rear legs, The Daily News of New York reports.

Willy was taken in by Sean Casey Animal Rescue after recently being found abandoned at a park in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Willy's lack of mobility would have prevented him from getting adopted, animal rescuer Sean Casey told The Daily News. The dog's incredible upper-body strength and ability to drag his hind legs to get around means he has likely been paralyzed for some time, Casey said.

Mark Robinson created in memory of his Keeshond, who was euthanized before her time because of disability. "It used to be that when a dog couldn't walk it was a catastrophe, often marking the end of a dog's life," Robinson said.

The wheelchair market has been growing at about 10 percent per year in the past five years as more pet owners learn about the carts. The standard rear-wheel carts range in price from $250 to $500.

To inquire about adopting Willy, go to

Vermont police dog killed on the job

A Vermont police dog has been killed in the line of duty.

King Luther, a 3-year-old German shepherd that had with the Rutland, Vt., police department, had been a member of the department for about a year, The Associated Press reports.

Police dogs have been used in Vermont for nearly three decades, and King Luther's death is believed to be the first killed in the line of duty, said Robert Ryan, the canine training coordinator at the Vermont Police Academy in Pittsford. "It's just like losing a family member or another police officer," Ryan told The Associated Press.

King Luther was killed by a state police cruiser after jumping out of an officer's stopped cruiser along U.S. Route 7, attempting to aid his handler. His handler was trying to stop a fleeing vehicle carrying four men believed to be involved in a shooting.

Virginia church allows pet burials

A Virginia church will allow cremated pets to be interred in its columbarium along with their owners.

Brian Pritchard, senior warden at Church of the Epiphany in Norfolk, said he and the vestry voted unanimously to approved the policy, The Virginian-Pilot reports.

"It's a great idea, because a lot of us are as close to our pets as we are to many people," Pritchard told the newspaper.

Pritchard and his wife, Junie, owns four cats, a Norwegian Elkhound and a Leonberger, a large dog breed. "I'm looking at my Leonberger, and I can't imagine not having him with me when I'm gone," Pritchard said. "Our dogs, to me, are probably closer to being Christian than a lot of people."

Pritchard noted that Epiphany's yearly blessing of the animals service is well attended. "We have a pretty full congregation, plus a large variety of animals: birds, cats, dogs." He said he has heard no opposition at the church to the new interment policy.

Epiphany built the columbarium two years ago in its churchyard. The Rev. Richard O. Bridgford expects to inter his beloved dog, who was cremated five years ago. "This particular dog was given to me at the church when I was installed," he said. "I thought, 'I got her there, she should end there.' Her ashes are waiting to go in."

The church, which built the columbarium two years ago, also set a niche aside for PC, the parish's late cat. "He guarded the church from rodents; he was there, gosh, about eight years," the Rev. Bridgford said. "His ashes are waiting, too. I need to get the markers."

Dog saves Ohio owner from intruder

An Ohio woman who was stabbed 32 times by an intruder is alive thanks to her pet dog.

Gracie, a small Labrador-beagle mix, came to the assistance of her master, Virginia Buckley, 27, who was being attacked in her Springfield home by the intruder, the Springfield News-Sun of Ohio reported. The 2-year-old mutt grabbed the intruder by the back of his leg and began shaking him as hard as she could after Buckley, bleeding from the stab wounds, kneed the man in the groin.

"He got up and ran out the door with her attached to his pants," Buckley told the newspaper. "And she stood at the door growling, daring him to come back."

Buckley was asleep in her bedroom when she awoke to noises downstairs. When she went to check, she found the intruder, who pushed her down and attacked her with a knife. Many of the wounds are crisscrossing cuts across her chest, stomach, thighs and defensive wounds on her forearms.

Dogs rescued from West Virginia kennel

Nearly 1,000 dogs living in squalid conditions have been seized at a kennel in West Virginia by humane society officials.

The dogs, confiscated at Whispering Oaks Kennel in Parkersburg, were taken to a temporary warehouse and will go to humane societies across the country, the Charleston Daily Mail reports.

No charges were filed against Sharon Roberts, 72, who had owned and operated the kennel since 1961, because she agreed to give up the dogs and get out of the breeding business.
The Humane Society of Parkersburg removed the dogs with the help of The Humane Society of the United States, United Animal Nations, Best Friends Animal Society and the Humane Society of Missouri.

The dogs were kept in wire mesh enclosures, most about 3 feet by 3 feet, resembling rabbit hutches, Carrie Roe, the Humane Society of Parkersburg's board president, told the The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register of West Virginia. She told the newspaper that dogs who have lived their lives on wire mesh often have difficulty learning to deal with other surfaces.

Finding homes for the dogs will take time because the dogs have to be acclimated to people, Roe said. "These dogs have had very little human attention, they fight for it. Dogs from puppy mills typically don't do well with other dogs. These dogs have never been on a leash," she said.

Hills Science Diet has donated dry and wet food for the dogs; PetSmart Charities has donated supplies; and the South Parkersburg's Wal-Mart donated tarps, hand sanitizer, 100 cages and crates, pallets of water and Gatorade, puppy formula, office supplies and cleaning supplies.
U.S. Humane Society officials say the dogs will be sterilized and then be placed in permanent homes.

South Carolina town gets pet oxygen masks

The five fire stations in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, now have specially made oxygen masks for dogs and cats.

Fire Chief Herb Williams told the The Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C., that pets often get frightened and hide in a house during a fire, making them more susceptible to smoke inhalation.

Fire departments in the the South Carolina communities of Spartanburg, Bluffton and Hilton Head also are equipped with the masks.

Louisiana shelter plagued by disease reopens

A Louisiana animal shelter that had its entire animal population euthanized because of an unknown disease has reopened.

The Tangipahoa Parish animal control shelter, which was closed for nearly two weeks, has been repainted and has constructed a new examination room, with the help of a $30,000 grant from the state and the Humane Society of the United States, The Advocate of Hammond, Louisiana, reports.

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