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The Ruff Report: A cap of news about dogs Sept. 7 to 13, 2008

Week of Sept. 7 to 13, 2008

Pedigree recalls food due to salmonella threat

Mars Petcare, the manufacturer of Pedigree Dog Food, is voluntarily recalling fours brands of dry food because it potentially could be contaminated with salmonella.

According to the Franklin, Tenn., company's Web site, the recalled items are: Pedigree Large Breed Original (UPC 2310029158), Pedigree Mealtime Crunchy Bites Small (UPC 2310005104), Pedigree Small Crunchy Bites Beef (UPC 2310031483) and Pedigree Small Crunchy Bites (UPC 2310014719).

Dog owners who have purchased any of these packages should return them to the store where they purchased the food for a full refund, the company said.

Mars spokeswoman Catherine Woteki said the company has received no reports of dogs getting ill from the food. "We are taking this precautionary action to protect pets and their owners," she said.

Dog owners who have questions about the recall should call 1-877-568-4463 or visit

SlyDog retractable leashes recalled

About 223,000 SlyDog retractable leases are being recalled because the metal clasp that connects to a pet's collar can break, causing the leash to recoil and hit the person holding it.

The leashes, made in China and imported by Worldwise, were sold for $5 at Dollar General Stores throughout the United States from September 2007 through August 2008. SlyDog retractable leashes with a plastic clasp are not included in the recall. Worldwise has received five reports of injuries, including facial cuts, a broken tooth, displaced eye lens and a bruised collar bone.

Consumers should stop using these leashes immediately and return them to Worldwise for a full refund, including shipping costs, the company says. For more information, contact Worldwise at (888) 296-3807 or visit the firm's Web site at

Wrong way to leave an animal at a shelter

An Idaho animal shelter reports an increase in the number of pets being abandoned without food or water when the facility is closed.

Candice Billingsley of Rexburg Animal Shelter said some pets have been thrown over tall fences at the shelter while others have been tied to fences or put in tiny boxes or carriers, the Rexburg Standard Journal reports. "There's the right way and the wrong way to do it," Billingsley told the newspaper.

The shelter falls under the jurisdiction of the Rexburg Police Department, which helps with animal control. Officer Steve Buzzell said residents can call the police department to have an officer meet them at the shelter.

"That way we can make sure the animal is taken care of and given food, water and shelter," he said. "The more information we have on the animal the easier it is to find the owner or find the right home for it."

New York shelter pets come with ID microchips

Pets available for adoption at the Hempstead, N.Y., animal shelter will come with identification microchips.

Trained personnel at the town shelter use a syringe to insert the chip under the skin on the back of an animal's neck, Newsday of Long Island reports. The chip contains the owner's contact information, which goes into a national registry and can be updated as needed.

The lightweight Teflon microchips, about the size of a large grain of rice, are made by Kansas-based Bayer Healthcare and cost the town about $8.50 apiece.

Hempstead is the only town on Long Island to offer this service free for every adopted pet, officials said. Southampton, the only other town that places microchips in pets, charges a $15 fee.

More than 6 million pets go missing each year and end up in shelters, and only 22 percent are reunited with owners, Susan Fowler of Bayer Healthcare told Newsday. Just 3 percent of dogs and 2 percent of cats in the United States have microchips, she said, and only half of those owners complete the registration process.

Michigan teens help to train service dog

For nearly a year, Tori Price and her brother, Tucker, took their puppy everywhere them - like sports team practices, a volleyball tournament and out to eat.

The teens, who live in Geonoa Township, Michigan, took home Austin, a yellow Labrador, when he was 13 pounds and worked hard to raise and train him into a gentle, well-behaved 80-pound dog. But they knew the day would come when they would have to give up their pal.

And that time came Aug. 19, Livingston County Daily Press and Argus reports, when Austin was turned over to Paws With a Cause, a nonprofit group that trains and supplies assistance dogs for people with disabilities. The teens had spent the past year training Austin for the program. The dog is in final training with the organization and will be placed with a disabled person.

The Price teens volunteered to train Austin as part of a program at Maltby Middle School. The school hosts several programs to educate students about these dogs. The dogs help their owners pick things off the floor, bring them a telephone and even help them get dressed.

The teenagers said the time commitment was the most challenging part of the training. They sometimes took shifts caring for Austin. They trained him through repetition and took him to classes.

"We met a lot of good people," Tori Price said. She said people would stop them and tell inspiring stories about how these dogs had changed their lives.

Tori Price said giving up Austin was difficult, but it helps to know that he will be assisting someone. She hopes to meet Austin's owner someday.

Massachusetts artist has a pet project

A Massachusetts woman wants her art work to help organizations that raise and train service animals.

Jill Flynne, an animal lover and painter from Norwell, has founded New England Art for Animals, The Patriot Ledger of Quincy reports. She hopes to develop a network of artists, musicians, photographers and poets who create works for the organizations and donate a portion of each sale to the cause.

Flynne created the organization after watching a television report about service dogs used to help injured veterans. "You bring an animal into the room and everything changes," she said.

Fynne's first benefit project was a 2008 desk calendar containing her watercolor and charcoal depictions of animals. Her first gallery show to benefit the organization was held at South Shore Natural Science Center in Norwell.

For more information on Flynn’s organization, go to

Dog calendar benefits New Orleans rescue group

To commemorate the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a Texas woman will donate the proceeds from the sale of her 2009 dog calendar to a New Orleans animal rescue organization.

Cynthia Miller of Austin, Texas, a volunteer at Town Lake Animal Center in Austin, said she knew action was necessary after watching the hurricane's effect on pets and their owners, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans reports. "From the beginning, the stories about human-pet families being ripped apart just killed me," she said.

The "Lulu and Lolly Road Trip" calendar depicts Miller's Maltese dogs, Lulu and Lolly, on a cross-country road trip. It was a huge hit last year at the annual Texas Book Fair, and proceeds were donated to a local animal shelter.

To commemorate the third anniversary of Katrina, Miller is donating all the proceeds from the 2009 calendar through the end of September to Animal Rescue New Orleans. The 2009 "Lulu and Lolly Road Trip" calendar is available at

North Carolina county adopts pet-tethering ban

As of Jan. 1, 2010, tethering a pet in North Carolina's Durham County will be illegal.

Under the ban, chaining a dog outside will be considered animal abuse in most cases, WRAL-TV of Raleigh reports. Violators who leave dogs unattended will face fines and could lose their animals if they are unable to find another way to contain them. Exceptions include veterinarians who are treating an animal and those training hunting and police dogs.

County commissioners approved the ban after a two-year study found the majority of animal cruelty complaints were related to improper tethering.

Needy pet owners in Georgia get free food

A Georgia organization is giving out free food to help needy pet owners who are struggling with tough economic times caused by high fuel prices and foreclosures.

Daffy's Pet Soup Kitchen of Lawrenceville, Georgia, is spearheading the program, Fox5-TV of Atlanta reports.Tom Wargo said the nonprofit organization has a warehouse filled with donations of food and other pet supplies to help out needy pet owners.

Wargo said the assistance would result in fewer people being forced to give up their pets. "Keep more pets home with their families where they belong," he said.

Daffey's also works with veterinarians to offer health care for pets.

13 golf balls retrieved from Labrador's belly

Chris Morrison knew something was wrong when he heard a rattling sound coming from his dog Oscar's stomach, so the resident of Birch Grove, Dunfermline, United Kingdom, took the pooch to the veterinarian for a checkup.

Morrison was right on par about his concern, because his 5-year-old Labrador retriever had to undergo a one-hour operation to remove 13 golf balls from his stomach, the Dunfermline Press reports.

"It’s incredible, really," said Bob Hesketh, the veterinarian who performed the surgery. "We occasionally find things like bottle corks, but this is a bit different."

Oscar apparently ingested the balls during the past several months while on walks at a nearby golf course. "He normally picks up golf balls and brings them home, but must have been swallowing some all along, Morrison surmised.

Oscar now wears a muzzle during his walks along the golf course.

Persistence leads to California dog park

A California dog owner has proven that you can fight city hall.

Eight years after getting a citation for allowing her dogs to run off-leash at Paradise Beach, Jacki Kuhwarth of Sacramento is feeling a little triumphant now that plans for a 4-acre dog park near the American River are on the drawing board, the Sacramento Bee reports. The enclosed expanse for owners and their dogs is part of a $2 million building phase at
Sutter's Landing Regional Park near midtown.

Kuhwarth organized the Sacramento Dog Owners Group and waged a long civic battle for territory on the river where dogs can roam off-leash, plunge into the water and run through the wilderness.

Sacramento Vice Mayor Steve Cohn said any objections to the dog park have largely been addressed over the years-long process, and he anticipates little opposition when the city council considers the plan. The park could open by the end of 2009, he said.

Survey finds rescue efforts must include dogs

Fifty-five of the dog owners in the United States would refuse rescue assistance if it meant leaving their homes without their canine pals.
The 2007 survey by the American Humane Association also found that 72 percent agreed that formal evacuation plans should be made for pets.

The survey results show the importance of pet evacuation planning efforts such as those deployed before Hurricane Gustav, according to the American Humane Association, and reaffirms the strength of the human-animal bond.

"These findings really demonstrate the incredible power of the human-animal bond and make it clear that people believe animals should be considered in rescue efforts," said Marie Belew Wheatley, president and CEO of American Humane Society. "Now, we need to continue using this information to construct safe, fair and feasible plans for rescue situations."

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