What a year it’s been! To honor 2013’s most compelling, interesting and adorable dog and cat stories, we’ve created a list of our top 10 favorites. Selected by ASPCA staff, each story captured national attention and illustrates the remarkable impact dogs and cats have on our lives.
In no particular order, here is a look at a few of the stories that truly touched the ASPCA family this year:
Heart-warming news In 2013, science proved what we’ve all known for years: pets are good for your heart. In May, findings from an American Heart Association study told us that having a pet is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, fewer heart attack risk factors and increased survival rates. Another reason to go out and find your new best friend!
Cat domination of pop culture 2013 was definitely the unofficial year of the cat. Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub reached epic levels of stardom and shined the spotlight on how amazing special-needs cats can be. Felines also invaded film festivals from Sundance to Cannes. And cat lovers even voted a kitty to be the new Monopoly game piece.
The journey to recovery begins The ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, N.J., opened in March and is the first center dedicated strictly to providing behavioral rehabilitation to canine victims of cruelty, such as those confiscated from puppy mills and hoarding cases. In June, a previously fearful troop of Dachshunds became the very first graduates of the center—all went on to be adopted by loving families.
On October 5, The New York Times published an opinion piece by Gregory Berns, a professor of neuroeconomics at Emory University, about his two-year study of brain activity in conscious pet canines. (Rest assured, no dogs were harmed: “We used only positive training methods. No sedation. No restraints. If the dogs didn’t want to be in the M.R.I. scanner, they could leave.”)
For Berns, who found that positive anticipation (of food or familiar people, etc.) stems from the same part of the brain in both humans and dogs, the study’s takeaway is “Dogs are people, too.” This leads him to question the righteousness of dogs’ current legal status: “[We] can no longer hide from the evidence. Dogs, and probably many other animals (especially our closest primate relatives), seem to have emotions just like us. And this means we must reconsider their treatment as property.”
This week the website huffingtonpost.com posted a great follow-up article that expands on the concept of “personhood” for animals and quotes the ASPCA’s own Stacy Wolf, Senior Vice President, Anti-Cruelty Group—read it here.
What Do You Think? We want to hear your take on this debate. Should dogs be given the same legal protections as people, or is it right to continue to categorize them as “property”? In what ways have your own dogs shown you that they have emotions? Have your say in our comments section, below.
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We loathe giving Aflac any more media attention than they have already received, but we can’t keep our mouths shut about the recent PR stunt they pulled. If you haven’t yet heard, Aflac recently let a duck loose into a busy New York City subway station and began tweeting about it, ruffling our feathers in the process! The duck, representing their famed mascot, drew quite a bit of attention—but at what cost?
NYC subway stations are noisy, crowded, and let’s face it, pretty dirty places. The hazards that could have harmed our small feathered friend are too numerous to count. We’re appalled that Aflac would pull such a stunt.
Do you think this PR stunt went too far? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
A disturbing new trend—“pet flipping”—has been getting a lot of attention this week.
Pet flipping involves a criminal picking up a pet, either by stealing the animal or claiming to be the pet parent of a missing pet, and then quickly selling the animal for a profit. Is your blood boiling yet? It gets worse!
According to Time, pet flipping is on the rise in cities including Kansas City, St. Louis and Indianapolis. The stolen dogs are often purebred and very valuable. In March, an Indianapolis man was arrested after a three-month investigation found he had been stealing dogs for years, mostly purebred German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Pit Bulls.
“Many of these pets are housed in puppy mill-like conditions until they can be flipped—no food or water, caged and sick,” Dawn Contos, of Indianapolis Animal Care and Control, said in an interview following the arrest.
Jack F. has accomplished a great deal for animals in his lifetime, and he is just in middle school! Over the past three years, this dedicated young animal-lover has worked to raise money for the ASPCA’s life-saving mission by hosting a lemonade and brownie stand each May, and has raised more than $600 for our cause. This past winter he also organized a towel drive—a much-needed supply at our Adoption Center in Manhattan!
We can’t express how much we appreciate Jack’s commitment to helping animals. His efforts are truly inspirational!