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The Ruff Report: A recap of news about dogs (September 28 to October 4, 2008)

Sept. 28 to Oct. 4, 2008

California will allow driving with dog in lap

A California lawmaker's proposal to forbid motorists from driving while holding pets in their laps has been vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Bill Maze, a Republican assemblyman from Visalia, says a restriction is necessary to protect people and their pets, The Sacramento Bee reports.

"You've got a live animal that has a mind of its own," Maze told the newspaper. "It can get tangled in the steering wheel or pinned between your knees. It can create a real hazard for yourself and everyone else."

A traffic collision at 40 mph can hurtle a 25-pound dog through a vehicle with the force of a 1,000-pound object, according to a legislative analysis of the bill.

California Highway Patrol statistics show that four people were killed and 346 others injured in collisions from 2001 to 2007 because of driver inattention caused by an animal. No breakdown exists of how many were in their owner's lap.

California law allows drivers to be cited if their vision is obstructed or a distraction causes them to violate a rule of the road - but not simply for holding an animal. Pets must be secured in the back of a pickup but can roam freely inside a vehicle.

Maze said he made the proposal after seeing a woman driving with three dogs on her lap. "One had its feet on the steering wheel and the other two were leaning over her left arm," he said.

Violators would have faced a base fine of $35, which could have risen to $150 with state and county fees.

Opponents of the measure called it government intrusion and an attempt to regulate personal behavior that should be left to common sense.

"Next thing, they'll say we've got to have seat belts for the dog," said Kurt Reiswig of Sacramento.

Nationwide Mutual Insurance found in a 2006 survey that 8 percent of drivers had held a pet while behind the wheel.

Displaced Texas hurricane dogs still need help

Nearly a month later, dogs and humane societies from Texas to Indiana are still feeling the effects of Ike.

The storm, which pounded Texas with hurricane winds and coastal storm surge and brought flooding rains to the upper Midwest, has kept animal shelters busy trying to accommodate displaced dogs.

The Dane County Humane Society of Wisconsin - even though it has run a $300,000 deficit in the last two years - has taken in six puppies and 13 dogs from a Houston-area shelter no longer able to provide care because of lack of space, WISC-TV of Madison reports.

The pooches made a 25-hour trip from Texas to Wisconsin in a horse trailer. The animals are getting vaccinated and spayed or neutered and should be available for adoption.

In northwest Indiana, humane societies are finding shelter for pets displaced by flooding, the Post-Tribune of Merrillville reports. Several residents displaced by flooding who had brought their pets to a shelter at the Boys and Girls Club in Lake Station were told their pets would have to stay in makeshift cages outside.

But Betty Clayton, director of the Humane Society of Northwest Indiana in nearby Gary, came to the rescue. Lake Station has no humane society, so Clayton offered help. Clayton and a Lake Station animal control officer transferred 10 dogs, four cats, birds and various small animals to the shelter in Gary.

The Southeast Texas Humane Society has been busy reuniting dogs with their owners, the Beaumont Enterprise reports. More than 400 animals were rescued from Orange and Jefferson counties in the days following Ike's landfall and about 200 have been reunited with their owners.

"We all get a little emotional," said Janell Matthies, lead volunteer with United Animal Nations, which is assisting the Southeast Texas Humane Society with pet recovery and care. "We get attached to these pets, and while we are thrilled when they go home, we are sad to see them leave."

Lou Guyton, director of the southwest regional office of The Humane Society of the United States, told the newspaper that many of the unclaimed animals would get a fresh start - some even in a new state.

"At least 85 dogs and a number of cats from the Beaumont shelter are going to Tampa, Fla.," Guyton said. "Tampa has an exceptionally good adoption rate."

California store scrutinized after puppies die

Two customers say they were sold sick puppies that eventually died by a pet store in California.

Matthew Garrison of Poway bought a Maltese and Jennifer Calabrase of Escondido purchased a Bijan Frise from California Pets, San Diego News 6 television reports.

Joe Shamore, owner of California Pets, told the television station that he would work with Garrison to replace his dog and pay for medical bills.

The pet store is waiting for a necropsy to determine how the Maltese died, but a San Diego County veterinarian's preliminary tests show the dog tested positive for coccidia, a parasite commonly found in puppies. Calabrase said that her dog Bailey was also being treated for coccidia.

Online, several other customers also made complaints about California Pets, alleging, the popular pet store buys animals from puppy mills.

Shamore defended the business practices of California Pets, which sells about 10,000 dogs a year at its stores in Carlsbad and Escondido. He said he visits the breeders that supply the pets at least once a year.

"(The dogs) do not come from mills, and they are not sold sick," he said. California Pets' dogs are examined weekly by veterinarians and come with a three-year warranty, Shamore said. "If we were sincerely having sick puppies coming through our store, we would not be in business," he said.

Craig Mohnacky, a veterinarian with Mohnacky Animal Hospital, which has a contract with California Pets to cares for its puppies, said "a majority of the animals that we see from [California Pets] are healthy, happy animals."

But Veterinarian Michael LaPorte, who examined Garrison's dog, thinks these are not isolated incidents. "Owners need to be a little bit cautious when purchasing puppies," he said. "These puppies appear normal, and five to seven days later come down sick."

Florida man saves dog from clutches of shark

One moment, all was normal as Jake, a 2-year-old rat Terrier, took his daily swim retrieving soaked coconuts at the beach in Islamorada, Florida.

The next moment, the 14-pound pooch, was in the jaws of a 5-foot shark about to be eaten.

But thanks to his owner, Greg LeNoir, 53, of Islamorada, the little guy will swim again. LeNoir dove into the water and fought off the shark.

"I clenched my fists and dove straight in with all my strength, like a battering ram,'' LeNoir told the Miami Herald. "I hit the back of the shark's neck. It was like hitting concrete."

The shark let go of Jake, who swam to shore trailing blood from punctures in his abdomen, chest and back, LeNoir said. Jake is expected to fully recover.

LeNoir and his wife, Tessalee, adopted Jake from an animal shelter. "We have no children," LeNoir said. "Jake became our child. When I saw the shark engulf him, I thought, 'This can't be the end.' ''

Chihuahua movie prompts warning about adoption

The movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua featuring Chloe the dog may be enjoyable to watch, but the American Kennel Club is warning people against rushing out and adopting a Chihuahua.

Prospective dog owners should make careful, educated decisions when considering adding a dog to their home, the AKC says in a press release on its Web site.

Bruce Shirky, president of the Chihuahua Club of America, urges those who become interested in owning a Chihuahua after seeing the movie to educate themselves on responsible dog ownership and all it entails.

"Chihuahuas are very delicate as puppies and can be inadvertently injured by being dropped, stepped on or having a small item fall on them," Shirky states in the press release. "For this reason, we recommend that families with very small children perhaps consider a larger breed."

Owning a Chihuahua is a longtime commitment, AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson said. "Chihuahuas are also known for longevity - so remember, before you add a new member to your family, dog ownership can be a 15- to 20-year commitment for the life of your dog," she said.

Survey: Labrador Retriever most popular pooch

The Labrador Retriever is the most popular insured breed, according to research by the largest pet health insurer in the United States.

Veterinary Pet Insurance of Brea, Calif., made the determination after analyzing its 2007 database.

"Labrador Retrievers have a strong reputation as loyal, obedient dogs that do well with children and adapt easily to their surroundings," said Carol McConnell, VPI's vice president and chief veterinary medical officer.

The Labrador Retriever was the most popular by far, the research found, with 38,591 listed in VPI's database. The Golden Retriever was a distance second at 19,313 and the Yorkshire Terrier was third at 14,074.

Rounding out the top ten are: Shih Tzu, 13,149; Boxer, 10,281, German Shepherd, 8,829; Chihuahua, 8,581; Maltese, 8,064; Pug, 7,404; Cocker Spaniel, 7,187.

According to registration data from the American Kennel Club, the Labrador Retriever has also been the most commonly registered breed for the past 17 years. The breed is the only one to occupy the top position on both the VPI and AKC lists.

Iams' goal is to get one million dogs adopted

Actress Felicity Huffman knows first-hand the rewarding experience of adopting a dog.

Huffman, who adopted Tucker, a black Labrador mix, as a puppy from a Los Angeles rescue group in 2006, has found the experience so rewarding that she is teaming with the Iams Home 4 the Holidays program which hopes to help get one million dogs adopted from shelters worldwide by Jan. 5, 2009.

"When our family decided to get a new pet, we chose to adopt, and now, Tucker is more than a wonderful pet, he's part of our family," Huffman explained.

Iams Home 4 the Holidays was founded by Helen Woodward Animal Center of Toronto in 1999 and coordinates with nearly 3,000 animal organizations worldwide to raise awareness about pet adoption.

In the past nine years, the program has helped more than 1,047,000 dogs, 962,000 cats and 66,000 other animals, such as rabbits, reptiles and birds find homes.

"Last year, our pet adoption drive found homes for nearly 500,000
animals, and this year, we've doubled our adoption goal," said Dan Rajczak, general manager of P&G Pet Care in North America.

For more information, visit

AHA makes urgent plea to adopt dogs

The American Humane Association says its annual October adopt-a-dog program has taken on new urgency this year because hard economic times in the United States are forcing many people to give up their dogs to animal shelters.

Shelters across the country say they are receiving dogs every day from displaced homeowners, said Marie Belew Wheatley, president and CEO of American Humane Association.
"Shelters are literally packed with obedient, loving, trained dogs right now," Wheatley said. "By adopting a dog from a shelter this October, or at any time, people can save the lives of these precious animals and give them much-needed, loving homes."

Shelters are facing the prospect of having to euthanize dogs that in the past would be adopted, according to the association.

"Economic times are tight," Wheatley said. "Now, more than ever, there is a real need and a great reason for people who want a dog, to get it from their local animal shelter or rescue group."

This year's American Humane Association Adopt-A-Dog Month is being sponsored by

$6 million Ohio animal shelter has all the perks

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has opened a new $6 million shelter in Ohio that features a dog-obedience training room, meeting rooms, outdoor exercise areas and an animal art gallery.

The shelter in Sharonville provides more space than an antiquated shelter it replaces that was built in 1964, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Each dog has its own kennel instead of sharing space, and the kennels have glass doors instead of chain-link fence fronts.

"It doesn’t look like a doggy jail," SPCA president said Harold Dates told the newspaper.
"This place is nice. It’s more elegant looking," said Camille White of South Fairmount, whose family adopted a 2-month-old Beagle.

White, her husband, Eric, and children, Erica, 14, and Cameron, 11, bonded with the dog after spending time with the puppy in one of four "get-acquainted rooms" at the center.
"I’m glad we were able to take him aside and have a chance to look at the personality of the dog in private," Camille White said.

Michigan creates pet spay and neuter hot line

Michigan started a statewide toll-free hot line to direct pet owners to affordable spay and neutering services, one of only 13 states to offer such a program.

The program, called Spay Michigan, is run by All About Animals Rescue of Warren, a nonprofit organization that adopts out dogs and cats, and sponsors spay-neuter and vaccination clinics, according to a press release.

"We believe that most pet owners want to be responsible," said Amber Sitko, president of All About Animals Rescue. "However, for many, it is a financial burden to do so. We are hoping that the Spay Michigan hot line provides a way of reaching out to those pet owners who could use a hand."

Twelve other states have spay-neutering hot lines hot lines, according Esther Mechler, founder of SPAY/USA, a national leader in promoting pet sterilization awareness and education. They are Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

The Michigan hot line is staffed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The number is 888-5SPAY-HELP.

Russia goes dog-gone crazy

The Moscow International Dog Show featured 198 breeds, but the Borzois, East European Sheepdogs and Russian Black Terriers stole the show.

Everybody wants one of the "patriotic breeds," the London Times reports.

"We have seen that Russian dogs are the most beautiful, now you will see that they are clever and well trained," one breeder at the show told the newspaper.

Russia has become a land of dog-owners, with a third of households owning a canine. Not since Laika the husky was ordered into the Sputnik satellite in 1957 has there been such excitement about dogs. Even Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has a St. Petersburg-bred black Labrador Retriever called Connie.

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