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The Ruff Report: A roundup of news about dogs October 5 to 11, 2008

Oct. 5 to 11, 2008

A new leash on college campus life

Life on college campuses is going to the dogs as many universities across the United States are now allowing pets into dormitories.

Many college administrators believe that pets help reduce stress and can make it easier for students to adapt to campus living.

"The pet owners really like it, of course, and those who don't have pets like the interaction," Mike Robilotto of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., told USA Today.

The college has allowed pets in a few dorm rooms for decades and now has more than 40 pets in three residences, Robilotto told the newspaper.

Eckerd defines pets as cats, dogs under 40 pounds, rabbits, ducks and ferrets, the St. Petersburg Times of Florida reports. Leashing and registration are required. The college also allows students to have reptiles, birds, snakes up to 6 feet, fish, hamsters and rats.

"Animals are born and die on this campus," the Rev. Mona Bagasao, university chaplain, told the newspaper. Eckard recently held its fifth annual blessing of the animals.

At Washington & Jefferson College near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kristina Durkoske lives in her dorm room with her family's dog, Vinny, a 6-year-old Bichon Frise. The dog has traveled with her to Mexico, Canada and Italy.

"When I graduate, he'll go with me to wherever I get a job," Durkoske told USA Today. "That's just the way it is."

Stephen Zawistowski , an official with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, says the organization "cautiously supports pet-friendly campus policies.

"We know kids will have pets anyhow … and it's probable that if the college has a good program that's well-structured" with regular monitoring, it works to the animals' advantage, he told USA Today.

But the Humane Society of the United States warns that pets require a commitment of time and money that lasts 15 years or more, and many students fail to think that far ahead. Just food and routine veterinary care care can cost hundreds of dollars a year, and if a pet is hurt or sick, the tab can be thousands.

According to UWIRE, a leading provider of student-generated content, other colleges with pet-friendly policies are:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, which allows cats in four of the school's 11 undergraduate dormitories.
  • Stephen's College, a women's college in Columbia, Missouri, which allows many household pets, including dogs, provided they are vaccinated and under 40 pounds.
  • SUNY at Canton in New York, which has a designated "pet wing," home to a variety of small caged animals and cats since 1996.

New Brunswick bans cosmetic surgeries

The New Brunswick Veterinary Medical Association has passed a bylaw that bans cosmetic surgery on animals.

Under the ban which takes effect in six months, veterinarians no longer will be allowed to perform cosmetic surgeries such as docking the tails of horses, cattle and dogs; ear cropping in dogs; and declawing non-domestic cats, the Moncton Times and Transcript reports.

"From a veterinary point of view, this really is a welfare issue, and we cannot justify cosmetic surgery from a welfare view because there really is no benefit to the animals," Jim Berry, a veterinary association member, told the newspaper.

The Canadian Kennel Club is concerned that the New Brunswick ban will force breeders to go outside the province for the procedures. "We also acknowledge and express concern that unskilled individuals may perform these surgeries and cause significant harm to their animals," the club said in a statement.

Lori Carson, a breeder of Boxers, says medical reasons exist for some procedures such as tail docking. "I've seen some [boxers] with the long tails, and they're easily broken because they're long and whippy," she told the newspaper.

Carson said she would take her animals to Nova Scotia to have the procedures done and expressed concern that some breeders might try to perform the surgeries themselves.
Many dog shows allow animals with natural ears, but Carson said she prefers the cropped-ears look.

But Berry said that breed standards can change and some shows in Europe no longer allow cropped ears.

Certain breeds are more likely to have their ears docked, a surgery performed when the animals are puppies, including Boxers, Great Danes, Doberman Pincers, Schnauzers and Pit Bull Terriers.

Conn. dog survives being ensnared in bear trap

Taylor evidently has a strong will to live.

The 9-year-old Siberian Huskey got her foot caught in a steel bear trap, spent two nights howling for help and when no one came, she somehow walked to safety with the trap still on her paw, The Republican-American of Waterbury, Connecticut, reports.

"Taylor proved to have nine lives," Roger Theriault Jr., whose son owns the dog, told the newspaper.

Taylor's harrowing experience began when she went out for a stroll around the neighborhood one evening and failed to return. Theriault searched hours for her that night without success.

The next day Theriault and his son, Roger, resumed the search - again without success.

On the following day, Theriault found Taylor walking a couple of blocks away from his home. Taylor had managed to get up enough strength to try to limp home. Theriault pried open the trap, setting free Taylor's right paw. Taylor was taken to a veterinarian. The trap was not serrated, and the dog suffered no broken bones or breaks in her skin, so she was sent home with medication. She is expected to make a full recovery.

Theriault learned later that neighbors reported hearing shrieks and howls. The police were called, but they were unable to determine the source of the noise."No one did anything about it," a dismayed Theriault said.

Police told Theriault that a neighbor had set traps in a garden to capture wild animals like coyotes that frequent the neighborhood. It is legal to have traps on residential properties, but the trap that ensnared Taylor failed to meet regulations and police are trying to determine who set it.

Fla. dog goes from sitting around to therapy pooch

Gizmo spent the first nine years of his life as a full-time lap dog.

Now, the Pekingese works part time helping to charm and calm patients in a psychotherapy office, The Sun-Sentinel of Florida reports.

"Gizmo is a natural," Alice Amos, a licensed mental-health counselor and owner of the Center for Creative Counseling in Boca Raton, told the newspaper.Amos uses animal-assisted psychotherapy to calm her patients. "It's a source of comfort to children and adults," she said.

Gizmo walks around the clinic waiting room and greets patients, Amos said. During consultations, adults stroke and hold him and children walk him.

Gizmo became a therapy dog by passing a 10-part test from the American Kennel Club and earned his Good Citizen Certification, said Mark Brilliant of West Boca Raton, the dog's owner. "He passed it on his first try," Brilliant said.

U.S. health agency issues rabies warning

A puppy brought to the United States after being rescued from Iraq has been found to have rabies, prompting the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a national health warning.

Crusader, an 11-month-old black Labrador mix, had to be euthanized, the New Times reports.

The dog, adopted by a soldier while serving on a military base in Baghdad, was among 24 dogs and two cats that arrived on a flight to Newark Liberty International Airport on June 5, according to a CDC report. The flight was part of an international rescue operation intended to reunite American soldiers with pets they had adopted while in Iraq.

By the time the rabies had been detected, the other animals had been shipped to 16 states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Texas, Virginia and Pennsylvania, according to the federal report. Federal and state authorities tracked down the animals. They were vaccinated and are being held for six months in quarantine, where they are being monitored for signs of rabies. So far none have become sick. Thirteen people have been advised to get preventive treatment for rabies.

The rescue mission, known as Operation Baghdad Pups and organized by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International, has been bringing Iraqi strays to the United States since 2007.

Dog recognized for saving California master's life

Three years ago, Adrian McKee was in danger of dying from a condition that causes her potassium levels to drop dangerously low and leads to heart failure.

Today, the resident of Big Bear City, California, is doing well because her dog, Pearl, a trained service dog, used the phone to summon emergency crews and guide paramedics to where an unconscious McKee lay inside her home, The Press-Enterprise of Riverside reports.

"She has been a good companion and a good helpmate her entire life." McKee told the newspaper. "She's just a very loving, warm dog."

Pearl's "extraordinary determination" to save McKee has been recognized by the Humane Society of the United States. Pearl is the runner-up in the group's first Dogs of Valor contest, which drew about 120 nominations from across the country.

"We all have a story about why a dog is a hero to us each and every day," Humane Society official Colin Berry said. "(This award) is about a singular act of extraordinary heroism where a dog steps beyond that typical bond and goes on to save a human."

That is exactly what Pearl did three years ago when McKee, 60, whose health had been deteriorating, needed emergency help. McKee, who also has trouble with her mobility, balance and eyesight, was on the phone when she fainted.

Pearl, a boxer mix, then sprung into action, just like she was trained to do. She knocked the phone receiver off the hook and stepped on one of the large emergency buttons to dial the 9-1-1 operator. Pearl then opened the door and ran to the gate to greet rescuers.
"She opened the door and let them in, then came and sat by my head," a proud McKee said.

Every dog has its day with God in Mass. church

A Massachusetts church is holding a service each week at which dogs are invited.

The "Woof ’n’ Worship" service at Pilgrim Congregational Church in North Weymouth is held at 5 p.m. Sundays, The Patriot Ledger of Quincy reports.

"People are really struggling in everyday life, and the animals that we have are something that give us joy every day," the Rev. Rachel Bickford told the newspaper.

The idea for the service stems from the Bible, the Rev. Bickford said. "One of (the psalms) talks about letting all living things praise the Lord," she said.

Dogs must be leashed and all, even pit bulls, are welcome. The church decided to pay a little extra for its insurance policy to allow them.

A cheesy way to lose Frisbee-catching title

Wallace loves playing Frisbee, but he apparently likes eating cheese even more.

The pit bull, the defending Frisbee-freestyle champion, lost his chance at retaining his title at the 11th annual Purina Incredible Dog Challenge in Gray Summit, Missouri, when he swallowed the tip of a plastic spatula while eating some cheese, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports.

"It was like, 'Ummm, cheese,' then whoops! Down the hatch," Andrew Yori of Rochester, Minnesota, the dog's owner, told the newspaper.

Veterinarians tried to extract the spatula tip through endoscopy, but that failed and Wallace had to have surgery, Yori said. The dog was withdrawn from the Frisbee-catching contest, and ordered to rest for two weeks.

Maryland law set limits on tethering of dogs

Dogs can no longer be tethered outside for more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period in Frederick County in Maryland.

Under the new law, pet owners face a $50 fine for a first violation, $75 for a second and $100 for a third and subsequent violations, The Frederick News-Post of Maryland reports. Animal control officers also can seize dogs.

"There are many many options that people can seek for removing them from a chain so they are not tethered," Animal Control Division Director Harold Domer told the newspaper.

Dog owners can build an appropriately sized outdoor enclosure, keep adult dogs in a crate while they are out of the house or find a suitable indoor space like a room with a linoleum floor, Domer said.

The ordinance requires a minimum of 100 square feet for a single dog in an outdoor enclosure. If the dog weighs more than 75 pounds, the law requires an additional 50 square feet. Pet owners who have more than one dog will need 75 square feet for each additional dog.

Lady, Bear are most popular dog names

The most common dogs names in the United States are Lady and Bear, America Kennel Club registration statistics show.

"Traditionally names based on a puppy's physical appearance or personality, such as Spot or Sassy, have been popular with dog owners," AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson said in a press release. "Today, we are seeing human names, such as Jack and Molly, and names that reflect a pet's stature in the home, such as King and Princess, gain in popularity as more people consider their dog a valued member of the family."

According to the survey of 2007 AKC registrations, the top-10 male names are Bear, Blue Max/Maximus/Maxwell, Duke, Buddy, Jack, Prince, King, Bailey and Rocky. The top-10 female names are Lady, Belle/Bell/Bella, Princess, Mae/May, Rose, Daisy, Grace/Gracie, Baby, Molly and Maggie.

Pa. facility linked to tainted pet food to close

A Pennsylvania pet food manufacturing plant involved in two salmonella scares will be permanently shuttered

Mars Petcare has notified the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry that it has decided to close the plant in Everson, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

In September, Mars announced a voluntary recall of cat and dog food made at the plant because of potential salmonella contamination. Officials said they had stopped production in July and would not resume manufacturing until the source of the salmonella had been determined. The same plant had been closed for a cleaning in 2007 after salmonella had been found in bags of dog food produced there.

Pet food brands affected included Ol' Roy, Pedigree, Retriever, Wegman's and Red Flannel, according to a Mars news release. The company said it has received no reports of pets becoming ill from food made this year at the Everson plant.

Green pet food gaining in popularity

More pets are being feed so-called green foods - such as broccoli, spinach and wheat grass.

A study conducted for Rock Growers of San Marcos, California, a supplier of green nutrition pet products, found 79 percent of American dog and cat owners say they would like to include green nutrition more often in their pets' diets.

The study also found that 65 percent would choose a treat that includes green nutrition over a non-green treat, depending on the price. Twenty-five percent would be willing to pay more for treats with green nutrition.

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