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The Ruff Report: News about dogs Nov. 30 to Dec. 6, 2008

Nov. 30 to Dec. 6, 2008

Shelter IOU best way to give pet as gift

Those who want to give a pet as a holiday gift should instead consider giving the recipient an "IOU'' from a shelter, the American Humane Society says.

An IOU allows a family to make a decision about the breed, age and size of the pet during a less stressful and frantic time of year, the American Humane Society advises in a media release.

"There are millions of animals at local shelters that need homes," American Humane president Marie Belew Wheatley states. "However, giving a pet as a surprise gift is never a good idea, especially during the holidays."

The holidays can be stressful for families and pets, Belew Wheatley states. "By surprising people with a pet, you are assuming they have the financial, emotional and time resources necessary to care for an animal, as well as the desire to care for a living being for the long term."

Choosing a pet is a personal decision, so it should be made by the one who will take care of the pet, the humane society says. Pets, especially young ones, require time, energy and money for proper care, so a surprise pet can be overwhelming to a family.

The humane society advises those who want to pick out a pet for someone to consider:

  • Pets have different needs depending on their breed and age. The best pet for a family is a decision only the family can make.
  • Pets are family members. Dogs and cats can live 15 years or more, so it is important that everyone in the house is willing to provide a healthy environment for the pet.
  • Pets need a calm, safe place where they can feel comfortable and acclimate to their new surroundings. A less-hectic time of year is probably a wiser choice to bring a pet into a home.

AKC program helps pups become good citizens

The American Kennel Club is offering a new program to help owners raise and train puppies and teach them good socialization skills.

The objective of the program, called STAR (Socialization, Training, Activity and a Responsible owner), is to help puppies have a good life, AKC official Mary Burch states in a media release.
"Early training and socialization along with teaching the owner the necessary skills is the key to having a well-behaved, well-adjusted dog and ensuring that dogs don’t end up in shelters because of behavior problems," Burch states.

To enter the program, an owner must enroll a puppy in a basic training class that is at least six weeks long and instructed by an AKC-approved evaluator. Classes include tips for owners, such as how to house train, and lessons on practical skills for puppies, such as coming when called.

Puppies can be enrolled up until their first birthday and can begin training as soon as they have the necessary vaccines.

Upon program completion, the instructor will administer a test. Upon passing, owners and their puppies will receive a certificate, a puppy medal and a puppy handbook.

Visit for more information.

Ontario implements stricter cruelty law

People who abuse animals in Ontario now face stiffer penalties, including two-year jail terms, fines of up to $60,000 and lifetime bans on pet ownership.

The new law also allows humane societies to apply for custody of an animal victim while the case is still before the courts, The Observer reports. Previously, an animal could only be removed if an agent witnessed abuse as it was happening.

Humane societies are lauding the new law, which also bans animal fighting.

"It's fantastic news for us," Tami Holmes, manager of The Sarnia and District Humane Society, told the newspaper. "It's going to make it easier for us to do our investigations. In the past, we had to prove that distress was being caused willfully. Now we just have to prove that it's happening."

More than 300 cases are expected to be checked out this year by The Sarnia and District Humane Society, Holmes said.

Hugh Coghill, chief inspector for the Ontario SPCA, said, investigators respond to about 15,000 allegations of cruelty every year in the province. "This new legislation will allow us to be proactive and provide more education to animal owners rather than simply (being) reactive to cruelty reports," he said.

Killing of stray dogs in Iraq denounced

A campaign in Baghdad to eradicate the street dog population in some neighborhoods through poisoning and shooting is the wrong approach, Humane Society International says.

The organization, the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, has written letters to the Iraqi prime minister, the governor of Baghdad and the U.S. Iraqi ambassador to urge them to work with HSI to solve the problem, according to a media release.

"We encourage your good office to work with international animal welfare organizations, such as Humane Society International, to find better solutions to the stray animal issue," Andrew Rowan, HSI chief executive officer, states in the letter. "There are humane, effective and well-established alternatives available, and we are willing to help the City of Baghdad initiate these programs."

In the letter, HSI suggested implementing a program that includes surgical spay/neuter, education, legislation and a dog registration/licensing program. "The only program that clearly addresses the public health issues involved, and significantly reduces population numbers, is a holistic approach that encompasses these elements," the letter states.

The HSI also suggests that, when necessary, euthanasia be performed by "qualified and compassionate officials using humane methods and agents."

Gift helps humane society realize dream

The Humane Society of North Iowa must have had a premonition when it named its fund-raising campaign to build a new animal shelter in Mason "Making Miracles Happen."

A miracle of sorts happened during the society's efforts to raise $1 million in the form of an anonymous matching gift offer of $500,000, the Globe Gazette of Mason reports.

"We are excited to finally see our dream of a new shelter become a reality," Humane Society Board President Stacy Rooney told the newspaper. "As a nonprofit organization that relies solely on individual donations and grant dollars, this is a big moment for us."

The new shelter will adjoin the city of Mason's new stray animal shelter, which is managed by the humane society.


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