Top 10 pets stories of the year
Tribune Media Services
2009 was a doggone wonderful year, overall, for pets. Here are my top-10 pet stories of the year:
1. Iams Home 4 the Holidays: Arguably the most successful pet adoption campaign ever, finding homes for over a million pets in 2009 and another million in 2008, not to mention at least another million since the program's inception a decade ago. Founder Mike Arms, of the Helen Woodward Animal Center, Rancho Santa Fe, CA, maintains, "We've only just begun." Here's proof that not all news stories bring bad news!
2. Fighting Dogfighting: Over 300 dogs were confiscated in the grandest dog-fighting bust ever, encompassing eight states. It took federal, state and local officials making arrests on various charges of about 30 people in Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
"It's pretty shocking and sad that dog fighting is everywhere, but law enforcement is taking this felony more seriously than ever," says Ledy Van Kavage, senior legislative analyst at Best Friends Animal Society. Also, near Chicago, there was even a dog-fighting bust at a day care center.
3. Foreclosure and Evictions: When people lose their homes, pets do, too - and they often lose their lives. Having nowhere to move with pets, many families are being forced to give up animals to relatives, friends, or local animal shelters. Some pets are just dumped on the street. In some places, animal control reports more stray dogs than they've seen in decades. According to experts, foreclosures and evictions are likely to rise in 2010, and with them, the number of homeless pets.
4. Military Bases Bust Dogs: In January, 2009, the Department of the Army announced a new pet policy for families living on military bases: Pit Bulls (including American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers), Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chows and wolf hybrids are now banned, even if they're model citizens. The decision was made by the Residential Communities Initiative Consortium, made up of six private companies that manage on-base housing.
No one can argue that pets are family members. Michele Obama and Jill Biden both claim to be advocates for military families. I wonder why they haven't spoken out on this issue. It's also interesting that our government refuses to profile potential terrorists at airports but is profiling dog breeds.
5. Catnipped: This summer, a record was set for microchipping of cats. Over 59,000 cats now have permanent identification through the HomeAgain Pet Recovery Service. This is actually the second consecutive year HomeAgain sponsored a summer promotion encouraging microchipping of cats. Also, for each cat microchipped, HomeAgain donated $1 to Winn Felilne Foundation, a non-profit funding cat health research. Not only are thousands of cats now identified, but thousands of dollars will now help all cats.
6. FIP Hope: Many renowned researchers worldwide are engaged in a great race to save kittens from Feline Infectious Peritonitis, a fatal disease. Dr. Al Legendre, a professor, department of small animal clinical sciences at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine-Knoxville, is encouraged by a drug he's working on (Polyprenyl Immunostimulant), which he says is particularly promising for cats with dry FIP.
7. H1N1: Swine flu is on a list for pets because scientists were surprised when a pawful of pet cats caught H1N1 from their human families. Still, the number of feline cases of H1N1 is miniscule. No one knows what made these few cats susceptible. European ferrets are particularly susceptible to all flu bugs.
8. Fido's Flu Shot: While dogs aren't susceptible to H1N1 or any of the human seasonal flu strains, they are at risk to canine influenza. A new vaccine was approved for the dog flu in 2009. It is generally suggested for dogs who are social - those that boarded at kennels, visit dog parks, or even socialize with dogs on walks.
9. Vick Ticks: Convicted dogfighter Michael Vick has enjoyed quite the banner year. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Vick could play in the NFL if he showed remorse and a team picked him up (which the Philadelphia Eagles wasted no time in doing). Another mandate was for Vick to reach out to the community and provide education about dogfighting. Vick and Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, made a few well-orchestrated appearances. Who knows, maybe Vick has snuck into at risk neighborhoods without fanfare, but by all accounts, so far that's the extent of his concern.
Vick landed a gig to produce his own reality TV show on BET. In December, he received the Ed Block Courage Award, presented annually to an Eagles player who exemplifies commitment to the principals of sportsmanship and courage. Vick's response: "I've had a lot to overcome, more than probably one single individual can bear."
10. Senator Ted Kennedy's Final Legacy: A Dog Named Bo. The First Family's Portuguese Water Dog was a gift from 'Teddy.' From all accounts, Bo has fit into the White House very well. Arguably, he's more well-behaved than Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Certainly, Bo is better looking.
Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column. Write to Steve at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207 or send an e-mail. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is www.stevedalepetworld.com; he also hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend
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***Taken from the Toronto Star http://www.gadzoo.com/TheStar/Article.aspx?Id=92611