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The Ruff Report: A recap of news about dog (Sept. 21 to 27, 2008)

September 21 TO 27, 2008

Owners urged to vaccinate dogs against parvo

Isolated outbreaks of the potentially deadly parvovirus are being reported across the United States, and veterinarians and health officials are warning dog owners to make sure their pets are vaccinated.

Increased incidences of the virus have been reported in California, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Oregon.

Puppies and elderly dogs are especially susceptible to the highly contagious virus that causes acute intestinal inflammation and leads to severe diarrhea, vomiting and lethargy.

Ronald Schultz, a professor in the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine's pathobiological sciences department in Madison, told ABC News that dogs should have a series of parvo vaccinations when they are puppies. "We believe that every puppy should receive what we call the core vaccines, and parvo is one of the cores," he said.

Parvovirus is most often spread by fecal contamination, Schultz explained. A dog can walk over the infection while playing outside, lick its paws and become infected. The virus can live in soil for at least a year.

Puppies should have a minimum of three vaccinations with the last one coming between 14 and 16 weeks of age, Schultz said.

The United States has one of the highest rates of animal vaccination in the world, Schultz said, but shelter data shows that only 50 percent of puppies have been vaccinated.

The cost of the vaccine is about $20 while the cost of treating an animal with the illness can range from $1,000 to $2,000, veterinarians say.

"Parvovirus is a devastating disease for your pet and is frustrating, difficult and expensive to treat," Dr. Nandini Jayaram, who practices at Capeway Veterinary Hospital in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, told

Jayaram urges people to clean up after their dogs. "A sniff, a lick of the nose and your dog is potentially exposed to a deadly virus," she said. "I've counted dozens of stools in the three miles that I often walk."

Locations were dogs have been reported with parvo virus include:

  • The animal control shelter in Rochester, Minnesota, where five dogs have died since Sept. 11. The shelter remains closed and dogs have been quarantined, the Post-Bulletin of Minnesota reports. Fifteen dogs at the shelter have been vaccinated and the shelter is being disinfected.
  • A dog park in Escondido, California, where a stray dog died. The park has been shut down and will reopen after it is disinfected, KFMB-TV News 8 in San Diego reports.
  • A section of southeastern Massachusetts, where Capeway Veterinary Hospital in Fairhaven says it has treated 11 cases since January, reports.
  • Lane County in Oregon, where three cases have been seen by animal services control and five cases at the Emergency Veterinary Hospital in Springfield in the past month, The Register-Guard of Oregon reports.
  • Bristol, Indiana, where The Humane Society of Elkhart County reports 25 dogs dying in the last two months, ABC News reports.
  • Upstate New York outside of Buffalo, where the Dunkirk Animal Clinic has had five cases in the past two months, ABC News reports.

Arthritic dog gets stem-cell treatment

A 9-year-old German shepherd mix dog who suffers from debilitating arthritis of the hips may get a second chance at a normal life because of an experimental regenerative stem-cell therapy treatment.

The treatment on the dog, named Mandy, involved a minor surgical procedure performed at All Creatures Animal Hospital in Stuart, Florida, reports.

"Some dogs run around like puppies again," veterinarian Rich Bressman said.

The procedure involved making a 1-inch incision to remove a small amount of the dog's fat tissue. The tissue was then shipped overnight to Vet-Stem, a southern California stem-cell laboratory, where the stem cells were isolated and shipped back. Bressman then used an ultrasound-guided needle to inject the cells into Mandy's hip joints.

Mandy should be able to have an easier time walking within a few weeks to a few months, Bressman predicted. He said some of the worst arthritic cases often experience the best results.

Mandy's owners, Bobby and Michelle Amor of Stuart, had been giving their dog joint supplements and anti-inflammatory medications, but their dog reached a point where she was struggling just to make it up and down the stairs.

The Amors had considered hip-replacement surgery for Mandy, but the treatment would have required two major operations costing nearly $7,000. Stem-cell therapy has a minor period of recovery and will cost the Amors roughly $2,500.

Stem-cell treatment for arthritis more common

A California veterinary clinic has been added to a growing list of animal hospitals using stem cells to treat dogs with arthritis.

Santa Cruz Westside Animal Hospital recently treated a dog with an arthritic elbow, the Mercury News of San Jose reports. The dog was able to put most of his weight back on his arthritic elbow within days after undergoing the regenerative surgery.

Cooper, a 2-year-old Bernese Mountain dog, can now leap in and out of an F-150 Ford pickup truck with the tailgate still up. "He's like a whole new dog," owner Crystal Myers told the newspaper.

The procedure costs about $2,500 to $3,000.

"This is the coolest thing I've ever seen in veterinary medicine," Westside Animal Hospital president David Shuman told the newspaper. "All of the dogs that have been treated by us are doing unbelievably well."

Shuman said his clinic has treated seven dogs. He estimates 150 to 200 veterinarians are certified to do the stem-cell treatment in the United States; 40 of which are within 100 miles of Santa Cruz.

Stem-cell treatment requires the veterinarian to collect a small fat sample from a dog's abdomen, Shuman said. The sample is sent to a lab where the fat is spun down and the stem cells collected. The sample is shipped back the following morning and the cells are injected into the affected joints or connective tissues.

Bionic leg helps London dog live normal life

A year ago, Coal had his left paw amputated because of cancer and was on the verge of being put down if his other three legs were unable to support his body.

Today, the 8-year-old bulldog is running around London like a puppy with the help of a bionic leg.

"Now he has an absolutely normal quality of life, which he wouldn't have had before," Reg Walker, the dog's owner, told the Daily Mail of London.

Walker paid nearly $20,000 (10,000 pounds) to fit Coal with a bionic leg, which was designed to be compatible with Coal's own tissue. The titanium alloy used mimics animal hide, allowing the skin and the bone from above to seal the metal implant below without it being rejected by the body. The operation was the second performed on an animal using a technique performed on a survivor of the London 7/7 bombings.

"This is unique in that it's the world's only implant into which skin and bone grow," veterinarian Noel Fitzpatrick told the Enfield Independent. "It is the holy grail of research."

Idaho family rescues dog from mountain lion

An Idaho family is holding out hope that their 13-year-old Maltese can lead a reasonably normal life after being attacked by a mountain lion.

Tom and Tracey Brightman of Parker Gulch, who have owned Piglet since she was a puppy, say the dog was bitten in the head and neck during the attack and lost an eye, the Idaho Mountain Express reports.

Piglet, who got her name from being only 1.5 pounds at birth, is being treated at St. Francis Pet Clinic in Ketchum.

"The biggest thing I'm worried about is are we going to get her eyesight back," veterinarian Karsten Fostvedt told the newspaper. "She's out of shock. ... I think she's going to be fine in every other way."

Piglet was in the Brightman's backyard when the big cat attacked. The mountain lion probably jumped a 4-foot fence into the backyard, grabbed Piglet by the head and jumped back over the fence, Tracey Brightman said.

Brightman heard the commotion and she and her border collie, Daisy, confronted the big cat. "(The mountain lion) had her on the other side of the fence," she said. "Why he didn't run away with her, I don't know. We were making a lot of noise."

Tom Brightman heard the commotion and joined Tracey and Daisy. "I think it was when I came outside that the cat saw it was up against three large animals and may have decided this is not such a good idea," he said.

Mass. support group helps grieving pet owners

Doreen A. McDonald knows first-hand the pain of losing a beloved pet to death.

The West Springfield, Massachusetts, woman came home from work one day and found her cat, Byron, had suffered a heart attack. Bryon died later that night at an animal hospital. Only four months later her elderly cat, Iris, died of kidney failure.

To help pet owners like herself, McDonald is starting a pet loss support group, The Republican of Springfield reports.

A support group is a "safe place where people don't have to be ashamed or judged for their grief," McDonald told the newspaper. "They won't be told, 'Get over it, it's just an animal.' "

McDonald, a former counselor at Everywoman's Center at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, was surprised to find that Western Massachusetts had no support groups for people whose companion animals have died. She spoke to her veterinarian and called 15 other veterinary offices, asking for advice about starting a support group.

"People need a place where they can cry very openly," McDonald said. "They need to talk about what it's like to go home and not see the animal there. They need to talk about seeing animals on TV and bursting into tears."

For more information on the pet loss support croup, call 413-732-0373.

Animal-lovers come to Arkansas shelter's rescue

Residents of Benton County, Arkansas, have shown they have an big appetite for helping pets.

When the Bella Vista Animal Shelter made a plea for assistance because its food supply had dwindled to just three days, the outpouring of donations from citizens was so generous that the shelter actually had enough food to supply other financially strapped shelters in the region, the Benton County Daily Record reports.

"We have been extremely blessed that our community has stepped forward, and we have seen extreme donations with everyone bringing dog food and cat food. It has just been car after car," shelter executive director Dee Dee Knight told the newspaper.

Shelters in the region were were facing food shortages because their usual pet-food donations from companies like Wal-Mart needed to be rerouted to help displaced pets in the hurricane-plagued Gulf States.

Several corporate sponsors also came to the shelter’s rescue. Pedigree donated three pallets of dog food and one pallet of cat food, with Purina, Signature Bank, Sam’s Club, Dog Watch and Wal-Mart also making food donations.

Watching the community band together to care for homeless pets is heartwarming, Knight said. "Sometimes with all of the bad things we see with animal abuse, to know that when there is a crisis like this that the community will stand behind us affirms our belief in the community," she said.

Pennsylvania merchants get ruff with customers

Some business owners in Pennsylvania are using their dogs to help attract customers.

Many merchants in downtown Lewisburg are taking their dogs to work with them because they say it helps customers feel more comfortable, the Standard-Journal of Milton reports.

"It makes customers feel so at ease when they’re in the shop," Lisa Wilson told the newspaper. "It often causes people to stay longer because they want to pet the dog and shop."

Wilson has been bringing her "sweet and laid back" 2-year-old German short-haired pointer, Randi, to her store since the dog was 8 weeks old. "It makes customers feel so at ease when they’re in the shop. It often causes people to stay longer because they want to pet the dog and shop," she said.

According to a survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, store owners who take their dogs to work have reported increased sales. Of those businesses surveyed by the organization, 96 percent said pets created positive work relations, while 100 percent said they would continue to have pets in the workplace.

Jenny, another German short-haired pointer, goes to work nearly everyday with Brian Vargo of Vargo Outdoors. "She’s our official greeter. A lot of people say she’s better than the greeter at Wal-Mart," Vargo joked.

Vargo said his dog attracts customers. "We have our regulars, certain people that come by with their dogs. We have a courtyard, and we let the dogs play and stuff," he said.

Other Lewisburg area businesses where pets frequently can be seen scampering about include Campus Cycle and Fly Fishing, the Bradley Shoemaker Gallery, West Branch Rent All, the Rug Outlet and Creative Images Plus.

W. Va. Habitat for Humanity goes to the dogs

A Habitat for Humanity chapter in West Virginia celebrated its 20th anniversary by holding a doghouse-building contest to help raise money to construct more homes for people.

Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam County, which has helped 120 families realize the dream of home ownership, sponsored The Great Doghouse Blitz - a contest to build the fastest, best and most attractive pooch palace, the Charleston Daily Mail reports.

"When people think of Habitat, they think of hammering, nails, sawing and the whole house-building thing," Shawn Means, executive director of the local group, told the newspaper.

The doghouses will be sold in Habitat's ReStore, which carries used and surplus building materials, furniture and office equipment, Means said.

Five teams competed in the big dog division (the best doghouse built in the fastest time) and the show dog division (the most attractive doghouse).

The winning work in the big dog division was a 24- by 36-inch doghouse which was built in about two hours. The "schoolhouse" had red paint and stenciled letters of the alphabet and numbers.

The doghouses had to pass a tough inspection. Judges were City Building Commissioner Tony Harmon and Jo Kerr, an associate professor of interior design at the University of Charleston.

New York humane society event raises $33,000

A New York humane society's annual walkathon drew a record crowd and surpassed its fundraising goal.

Participants in the 16th annual Wiggle Waggle Walkathon at Sherrillbrook Park in New Hartford raised $33,000 for the Stevens-Swann Humane Society of Oneida County, the Observer-Dispatch of Utica reports.

Jerry Kraus, a humane society official, said the organization had hoped to raise $25,000. The money will be used to care for "our animals, which are the homeless, abused animals of Central New York," he said.

The humane society relies on events like the two-hour walk and donations because it receives little government aid, Kraus said. The walkathon is one of its largest fundraisers, he said, second only to the annual telethon that takes place in January.

In addition to walking their dogs, owners also could enter their pets in contests, including a dog/owner look-a-like contest and a talent show. Vendors sold dog toys and pet products and free items were distributed from sponsors such as PetSmart.

For more information about the Stevens-Swann Humane Society or to make a donation, visit

Online database created for hurricane pets

An online database has been created to help reunite owners with pets lost during Hurricane Ike.

The Disaster Response Pet Portal - established by the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Pethealth Inc. and Pets911 - can be accessed at or at, the Galveston County News reports.

Owners who recognize a lost pet on the Web site can call a hot line at 713-435-2990, and their information will be attached to the animal at the shelter, expediting reunification.

The latest scoop regarding DNA

Towns in Israel and Italy are creating dog DNA databases that will help track down owners who fail to clean up after their pets.

Officials in Vercelli, a town of 45,000 in northern Italy, and Petah Tikva, a suburb of Tel Aviv, will use the DNA databases as evidence against pet owners that may lead to fines.

"If signs and invitations aren't enough, we'll try genetics. I want a clean city," Antonio Prencipe, councilor in charge of the environment in Vercelli, told the daily newspaper La Stampa.

In Petah Tikva, the city's chief veterinarian, Tika Bar-On, came up with the plan. Dog owners have reacted positively to the initiative so far, she said.

"[Residents] are co-operating because they want their neighborhood to be clean," Bar-On told Sky News.

Tainted pet vitamins prompt lawsuit by Hartz

Hartz Mountain Corp. is suing a pet vitamin maker because of a recall.

Hartz of Secaucus, N.J., is seeking $1 million in damages from UFAC (USA) Inc., the New Jersey Journal reports. The Georgia-based manufacturer sold several shipments of dog and cat vitamins to Hartz in 2007 that were contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.

Hartz recalled nearly 3,700 bottles of cat vitamins, the lawsuit says. The FDA also found salmonella in Hartz's inventory of dog vitamins, but those were quarantined by the company before they reached store shelves.

"There are no reports of any animal ever being sickened from the recalled product," Hartz spokesman John Mullane said.


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