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The Ruff Report - A recap of news about dogs Aug. 31 to Sept. 6

Week of Aug. 31 to Sept. 6, 2008

Dog heart medicine research results promising

A cardiac medication made specifically for dogs is nearly doubling the survival time for pets suffering from congestive heart failure, a study has found.

Dogs with heart failure caused by valvular insufficiency, the most common type, live on average 267 days versus 140 days longer when treated with Vetmedin compared with ACE inhibitor benazepril hydrochloride, another common treatment option, the research found.

Results of the three-year study, called Quality of Life and Extension of Survival Time, can be found in the September/October 2008 issue of the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.The research involving 260 dogs studied in 11 countries was conducted by a team of 32 independent veterinary cardiologists from Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

"Dogs treated with Vetmedin live on average nearly twice as long as those on benazepril," said Adrian Boswood of the Royal Veterinary College, London, a veterinary cardiology specialist and a lead investigator in the study. "It is now time for us as veterinary cardiologists and practicing veterinarians to look again at how we are treating our patients suffering from this serious condition."

"The study provides compelling evidence that dogs with the most common form of heart failure should be receiving Vetmedin as an essential part of their treatment regimen," said Michael O'Grady of Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, another lead researcher.

Congestive heart failure caused by valvular insufficiency most commonly affects older, small breed dogs, including Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Poodles, Chihuahuas and Dachshunds. Symptoms include coughing, reduced tolerance for exercise, anxiety and restlessness during the night, and labored breathing.

Dog's ID chip helps return toddler to home

A Florida toddler has been reunited with her mother thanks to her dog's ID chip.
Two strangers driving by spotted Annabelle Fabrizio, 2, wandering and following a tan dog into the street in Port St. Lucie, Fla., the Palm Beach Post reports. The child was only wearing a diaper.

Police called the animal control officer, who found that the dog had an ID chip and gave the information to authorities.

The information helped police trace the dog to Melissa Fabrizio, who lives just a few doors down from where the toddler was spotted. Police went to the home and found a 16-year-old who was babysitting Fabrizio's two children.

The baby-sitter said he thought Annabelle was sleeping in her room. Police found a sliding glass door left open.

Dogs bring comfort to S.C. patients on the mend

Patients at nursing homes, hospices and rehabilitation centers in South Carolina are getting a little extra cheer from some furry, four-legged friends.

Ten dogs, whose owners are members of a local Pet Pals chapter of Therapy Dogs International, regularly visit patients at the facilities in the Florence area, the Florence Morning News reports.

Jennifer John, a handler of one of the visiting dogs, says the rehabilitation process can be long and exhausting for patients "They need other interaction besides therapy," said John, who is an occupational therapist.

John said her dog Jessie, a golden retriever, helps to lift the spirits of the patients.
"When they see Jessie, they miss their dogs," she said. "It's nice that you've made their day by bringing back memories of the home they're ready to go back to."

A visit from a therapy dog can lower blood pressure and ease the anxiety that comes along with recovery, said Elizabeth Docherty, handler of Toby, a sheltie-border collie mix who has been a therapy dog for about five years.

"A lot of people in nursing homes don't have visitors," Docherty said. "The dog is sometimes the only company they get."

Dogs in the program complete certification training.

New Jersey pet shop says no to price fixing

A New Jersey pet shop has decided to side with consumers and say no to a manufacturer that was trying to fix prices for dog food.

Morris Sussex Pet Supply of Succasunna, N.J., received a letter from Old Mother Hubbard Dog Food Co., complaining the pet shop was selling 30-pound bags of its Wellness Chicken Super5Mix at 20 cents below the minimum $39.99 price, The Associated Press reports. Old Mother Hubbard threatened to stop shipping the brand to the store for as long as six months if the price-cutting continued.

The pet shop retaliated by placing a billboard in front of its store urging customers to "Boycott Wellness Pet Food for Price Fixing" and steered customers to alternative dog food.

"Our suppliers can set pricing policies all they want - but it's their loss, not ours," said Nancy Ruiz, the store's manager.

Morris Sussex persuaded 85 percent of its Wellness customers to switch to another brand, Ruiz said, and now sells only a few Old Mother Hubbard products.

Old Mother Hubbard, which is based in Massachusetts, declined to comment.

Disabled Wash. woman ordered to remove dog

A Washington woman who says she is disabled is vowing to appeal a ruling denying her to keep four dogs at her home, one above the limit allowed under a city ordinance.

Rebecca Temple of Moses Lake was told she failed to meet the city's definition of disabled and must remove one of the dogs, The Columbia Basin Herald reports.

A city ordinance allows a maximum of three pets, but the council can grant permission for a fourth pet if it is determined to be a comfort dog for a disabled person.

Temple said she has contacted the American Disability Association and legal counsel for assistance in understanding the ordinance and keeping all her animals. "We are definitely going to fight," she said. "I was not happy with the outcome."

Temple, who has rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and two titanium hips, says she is disabled but still works. She says all the dogs provide her with comfort - one helps her stand up while the others alert her to intruders.

"I do believe it would cause me great detriment to take them away from me," Temple told the council.

But her request for a fourth dog was denied. Council member Richard Pearce said Temple failed to meet the definition of disabled in the council's opinion and letters written by neighbors complained of the dogs barking and leaving fecal matter in the yard.

"I don't come up with the feeling at all that Mrs. Temple falls into the definition we had in mind for someone in need of a comfort dog," Pearce said.

New Mexico pet blood bank benefits donors, too

A blood bank for pets in New Mexico is proving to be a success for the donors, their owners and sick pets.

Albuquerque Animal Emergency Clinic, which has started Albuquerque's first and only blood bank for pets, already has about 75 dogs and 12 cats donating, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

Amanda Caster, a veterinary technician in charge of the animal clinic's blood program, said the program is always looking for new dogs and cats to donate, because the demand for blood locally often stretches the supply pretty thin.
"We could definitely use more donors," Caster said. "We go through (the blood) so quickly."

The clinic has been supplying blood to other clinics in the region for more than two years. The idea is to get a steady supply of blood to all the state's veterinary clinics available for less money than charged by national suppliers.

The program also benefits the pet donors and their owners, Caster said. Donors get free testing for diseases and a checkup once a year, plus free blood for transfusions for the total amount of blood a donor has given.

The pets are sedated before they donate. They usually give a half liter or just more than a pint per dog and less for cats or smaller dogs.

Oregon to allow pets in campground cabins

Dogs and cats will be allowed into campground yurts and cabins in Oregon on a one-year trial basis beginning next May.

The program will be limited to one yurt and three cabins in the entire state parks system, The Associated Press reports. Up to two pets will be allowed in one yurt or cabin, for an extra $10 fee, said Chris Havel, a spokesman for Parks and Recreation Department. The money will be used for cleaning and maintaining the pet-friendly units.

If the program proves successful, Havel said he expected 5 to 10 percent of the state's 190 yurts and 77 cabins to be made available for campers with pets.

The state has had a no-pet policy in cabins because it has to consider people who have allergies, cleanliness, and wear and tear from pets, Havel said. People who are allergic to dogs and cats will be able to ask for a yurt or cabin that has not been used by pets, he said.

A 2007 survey found support for allowing pets in yurts and cabins, and many owners complained about not being allowed to take their pets into the yurts and cabins.

"I camp a fair bit," Havel said, "and what I see about Oregon is that one-third to one-half of the campers bring an animal in with them."

Arizona police dog killed in tragic accident

A police dog in Arizona was shot and killed by his handler in what is believed to be a tragic accident.

Sgt. Chris Coffee of the Scottsdale police shot Striker, a 6-year-old Czech shepherd, while they were searching a home that had an alarm going off, the Arizona Republic reports. Striker and Coffee were called to the house by officers who had discovered an open door, police said.

"Certainly, we don't think it was intentional," police Sgt. Mark Clark said.

Police Chief Alan Rodbell said Coffee was devastated. "You can feel the sadness in the hallways here at headquarters," the chief said. "This is a loss not just for our police department, it's a loss for our city government. It's a loss to the community."

Coffee, who has been with the department for 10 years, has been in charge of the canine unit for two years. Striker had been in the unit for four years and was one of six police dogs.

"Anyone that has pets and has lost a pet can imagine how this man is feeling," Rodbell said. "They live together, they play together, they train together, and they spend their entire tour of duty together. They're best friends."

This was the first time a police dog has died in the line of duty in the department's 45-year history, Rodbell said.

Georgia Bulldogs introduce new mascot

A 3-year-old Bulldog named Loran’s Best has been officially introduced as the University of Georgia football team's new mascot.

Sonny Seiler, the dog’s owner, said Loran’s Best - whose mascot name is Uga VII - was one of three bulldogs considered for the gig, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

This bulldog won out because "he had all the qualities physically," said Seiler, whose family has owned the continuous line of mascots since Uga I took up the mantle in 1956. "He had the demeanor. He’s the spitting image of his father."

At 56 pounds, Uga VII succeeds his father, Uga VI, who died of heart failure in June. He is second only to Uga VI as the biggest mascot in the line.

"We think the fans will be pleased," Seiler said. "A lot of them were expecting to see a little ball of fur, but we didn’t want to do that."

Swann Seiler, Sonny’s daughter, said Uga VII likes to play with his toys, has a black kitty and loves his backyard. "He’s already a family pet," she said. "He’s what a bulldog should be. He’s a good dog."

Pets sheltered during Louisiana hurricane

Unlike during Katrina, owners with pets got special attention as they left the Gulf Coast to get away from Hurricane Gustav.

About 160 climate-controlled vehicles operated around the clock in New Orleans to whisk pets and their owners inland and out of the hurricane's path, and at least a half dozen shelters throughout the Louisiana quickly filled with pets of all shapes and sizes, National Geographic News reports.

"This is the first time in history that pets have been a priority in an evacuation," said Ana Zorrilla, CEO of the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, based in New Orleans.

Now that the danger from Gustav has passed, pets from New Orleans will be sent from a huge shelter at the Shreveport, Louisiana, fairgrounds back into the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals facility, where the animals will be housed until owners retrieve them.

During Hurricane Katrina three years ago, many owners refused to leave their Gulf Coast homes because they were unable to take their pets to shelters while owners who did leave were forced to leave their pets behind.

"Part of our mission is to rescue pets that are left behind," said Amy Maher of Noah's Wish, which operates a pet-friendly Red Cross shelter in Covington, La. But if you don't have to leave them behind, that makes everyone a lot safer, healthier and happier."

100 rescued W. Va. dogs taken to Washington

The Washington Animal Rescue League has taken in more than 100 of the 1,000 dogs recently removed from a kennel in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

"It will take all of the league’s resources to evaluate the dogs’ health, treat any conditions they might have and find them homes," Gary Weitzman, the league’s director, said in a statement on the organizations' Web site. "It is a big task."The dogs are mostly dachsunds, but also include Yorkshire terriers, King Charles Cavalier spaniels, shih tzus and Lhasa apsos.

The dogs, confiscated at Whispering Oaks Kennel on Aug. 23, were reportedly living in squalid conditions.

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 taken to a temporary warehouse and are being placed with humane societies across the country.

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.

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