- 1. ASPCA Helps Launch Baltimore Anti-Cruelty Task Force
- 2. Record-Breaking Dog Fighting Raid Leads to Nearly 500 Rescues
- 3. ASCM Photo Contest Winners Announced—Vote for Your Favorite!
- 4. Muddy Dog Runs Causing Canine Illness
- 5. ASPCA Happy Tails: Undercover Snuggler
1. ASPCA Helps Launch Baltimore Anti-Cruelty Task Force
In late May, a two-year-old Pit Bull named Phoenix was doused with gasoline and set on fire in the streets of Southwest Baltimore, MD. Although the flames were extinguished by a heroic police officer, the dog suffered burns to 98 percent of her body and eventually had to be euthanized. (Two 17-year-old brothers have since been arrested and charged with the crime.)
The incident received extensive news coverage in Maryland, including a letter to the editorpublished in the Baltimore Sun from ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Group Senior Vice President, Laura Maloney. Amidst public demands for justice, Governor Martin O'Malley requested that the state attorney general review Maryland’s animal cruelty laws to determine if they are strong enough to both deter and adequately penalize such horrific abuses.
Baltimore’s proactive response to Phoenix’s tragic death hasn’t ended thereout of this appalling act of animal cruelty, something positive has been born. On July 8, Mayor Sheila Dixon held a press conference to announce the formation of the Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force, a committee that includes among its 14 members Dr. Randall Lockwood, ASPCA Senior Vice President of Anti-Cruelty Initiatives & Training. “The ASPCA was horrified to learn of what happened to Phoenix,” says Dr. Lockwood. “We have long recognized the dangerous potential for animal cruelty to lead to more serious crimes and look forward to working with the City of Baltimore to help put a stop to these violent injustices against animals.”
The Task Force will submit a report to the mayor on ways to prevent and prosecute animal abuse, including dog fighting, in the City of Baltimore. The group convenes next week to begin forming its recommendations regarding issues such as:
ways to stop animal abuse in the City of Baltimore
legislation that will protect animals and prosecute abusers
training/techniques for law enforcement on the humane handling of animal cruelty cases and evidence collection
ways of increasing awareness of animal cruelty laws
whether an ongoing Anti-Animal Abuse Board should be created, and if so, an outline of its function and mission
“The protection and safety of animals in the City of Baltimore is an important concern,” says Mayor Dixon. “This is more than a legal issue. This is a community issue. If you improve animal welfare in a community, you improve public safety for everyone.”
Read more about Baltimore’s Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force at ASPCA.org.
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2. Record-Breaking Dog Fighting Raid Leads to Nearly 500 Rescues
Last week’s multi-state dog fighting raid, the largest federal and state agency crackdown on dog fighting in U.S. history, has resulted in the rescue of nearly 500 dogs, most of whom are Pit Bulls. At the Humane Society of Missouri (HSMO), which is housing more than 400 dogs, 14 puppies were born last week, adding to the overall number of dogs seized.
The operation spanned eight statesMissouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska and Mississippiand news reports indicate that a total of 26 arrests have been made. Because dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states, if convicted of animal fighting charges, those arrested each face up to five years in prison.
According to the ASPCA’s Dr. Randall Lockwood, Senior Vice President of Anti-Cruelty Field Services, who was on-site in Missouri, not all dogs seized in raids have been used directly in fights. “Some are breedersthey do not fight, but produce litters of fresh fighters. Others are bait dogs. They lack the bloodlust and so serve as punching bags in training fights. Such dogs often get the worst of it.” Although the task of evaluating all of the seized dogs will be enormous, Dr. Lockwood notes, "At the very least, we're honoring these animals by caring for them.”
The dogs are being sheltered in a secure St. Louis facility under the direction of HSMO’s Animal Cruelty Task Force. Each dog has been examined by a veterinarian and has received an individual medical plan. All have been microchipped and treated for parasites and continue to receive nutritious food, fresh water and a safe place to sleep.
Meanwhile, additional aid is desperately needed. HSMO is actively seeking rescue groups who can take in some of the dogs. During the next several weeks, a team of pet behavior experts, including HSMO behavior staff, Dr. Lockwood and other ASPCA experts, will evaluate each dog to determine suitability for possible placement with qualified rescue groups or experienced individual adopters.
A complete veterinary and behavior report for each dog will be submitted to the U.S. Attorney’s office, which will provide information to the courts for the final determination for each animal.
Check HSMO’s website for rescue group qualifications. Interested groups should call HSMO at (314) 802-5712.
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Photo: From past ASPCA cruelty investigation. Current raid photos cannot be shown as they are being used as evidence in the case.
3. ASCM Photo Contest Winners Announced—Vote for Your Favorite!
This June, in celebration of Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month, we put out a call for photos of cats caught in the act of “cat-ercising”and as always, we knew we could count on you. We received amazing pics of kitties burning off their favorite treatsfrom a petite puffball who can bench press his own weight to a high jumping feline with perfect form. Our top ten favorites are featured on our website in all the glory thattrue gold medalists deservenow we want to know who YOUR favorite is. Vote for the kitty who most tickles your fancy and keep a lookout for the results!
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4. Muddy Dog Runs Causing Canine Illness
June’s near-constant rains may have helped make dogs in New York City critically ill. In recent weeks, several otherwise healthy dogs are believed to have died from leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that occurs worldwide and is transmitted in several ways: through bites, contact with the urine of an infected animal, or exposure to contaminated soil, food, or bedding.
“Leptospirosis crops up periodically all over the country,” says Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. “It’s more prevalent in wetter regions and less of a risk in cool, dry areas.” Outbreaks increase during periods of heavy rainfall because the Leptospira family of bacteria thrives in stagnant or slow-moving water. Dog runs with poor drainage that also lack a source of fresh drinking water create ideal conditions for catching the disease.
The ASPCA urges dog owners to be on the lookout for the following symptoms: fever, vomiting, poor appetite, lethargy, coughing and labored breathing. Infected dogs may become jaundiced (yellowing of the eyes and skin) or stop urinating if disease is severe. Leptospirosis is treatable with antibiotics, but prompt medical attention is vital as the disease can be fatal and is transmissible to humans.
Fortunately, there is a leptospirosis vaccinetalk to your vet about whether vaccinating is good idea for your dog. “Like other vaccines, there may be a higher rate of adverse reactions in small-breed dogs,” says Dr. Murray. “The vaccine should be administered separately from other vaccinations and in two stagesone shot followed by a booster two or three weeks later.”
Furthermore, “when outdoorswhether at the dog run or by a ponddog owners must be vigilant about not letting their pets drink stagnant water,” warns Dr. Murray. “We recommend the leptospirosis vaccine, but don’t allow it to make you lax. Because there are many strains of the disease, vaccination does not guarantee absolute protection. Always bring fresh drinking water when you take your dogs on outings.”
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5. ASPCA Happy Tails: Undercover Snuggler
This past February, New Yorker Violaine Esnault came to the ASPCA Adoption Center with a special Pit Bull on her mind. Spud had been rescued from a neglectful home by ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Agents and had been made ready for adoption by our anti-cruelty veterinarians and adoptions staff. “I saw Spud’s video on your website and fell in love with his ears and facial expressions,” Violaine recalls. “When I saw him in person, sitting in his glass enclosure with those super expressive eyes, I just had to play with him.” Meeting Spud in a play room sealed the deal. Spud eagerly ran into Violaine’s arms without a moment's hesitation.
The one-year-old pup was a little confused when arriving at his new home, but never veered from his sweet disposition. “He was excited and nippy, but in a loving way,” Violaine explains. Now he’s gotten so laid back that couch potato is a more apt description. “We were told he would be very high maintenance, which at times he is,” Violaine admits, “but what surprises me is that more than anything else, he likes to snuggle up with me on the couch.”
In fact, Spud makes great efforts to maintain his snuggling schedule. Says Violaine, “Spuddy knows that he’s not supposed to sleep in our bed―he’s got his own. But every morning, he wakes us with this low-pitch whimpering that just gets louder and louder. We end up letting him into our bed, where he just falls right back to sleep. Who knew?”
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