Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cat physics

Scientists learn physics behind how cats drink water without getting wet
By Marc Kaufman

The Washington Post
Thursday, November 11, 2010; 2:43 PM

As all cat lovers know well, felis domestica is a marvel of balance, subtlety and other hidden elegances.

This Story
Scientists learn physics behind how cats drink water without getting wet
Taking the purrfect drink is all physics to a cat
Prepare to learn of another remarkable attribute: Four researchers have painstakingly filmed, analyzed and determined how it is that a cat can drink water while (unlike a dog) keeping its chin and whiskers pleasingly dry.

The answer involves an exquisite demonstration of physics - where the cat, in effect, balances the forces of gravity against the forces of inertia, and so quenches its thirst.

"What we found is that the cat uses fluid dynamics and physics in a way to absolutely optimize tongue lapping and water collection," said Jeffrey Aristoff, now at Princeton University but who was one of the four researchers who began their studies out of curiosity at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"Nobody had ever studied it before, so nobody knew how the water went from the bowl into the cat's mouth," he said.

As with most basic scientific research, the usefulness of this knowledge is uncertain. But it is not, the researchers say, hard to imagine some downstream applications, perhaps in robotics.

The route from water bowl to mouth is pretty magical, as described in an article released Thursday by the journal Science.

While dogs curl their tongues to collect the water and then pull up what they can, cats barely touch the liquid with the tips of their tongues. A slight backward curl of the tip encourages liquid to adhere to the smooth top of the tongue, but that's not how the water rises.

Rather, the water on the tongue, combined with the low pressure created by the slight-curled tongue moving back up, creates a momentary stream into the mouth. The cat then snaps its mouth shut and the water is captured before the countervailing force of gravity pulls it down. An average house cat, the team found, can make four of these ministreams per second.

Intrigued by what they were learning, the four researchers went to several zoos to observe and film larger cats, and even went to YouTube to find videos of bobcats and lions drinking in the wild.

They found the same basic drinking mechanism in all the cats, though the larger ones (with larger tongues) slowed down their lapping to best take advantage of the physics at play - that is, the balance between upward movement of the water set off by the cat's tongue (the inertia) and the gravity pulling the water down. A lion, Aristoff said, laps two or three times per second.

"In the beginning of the project, we weren't fully confident that fluid mechanics played a role in cats' drinking," said Sunghwan Jung, now an engineer at Virginia Tech whose research focuses on soft bodies, like fish, and the fluids surrounding them. "But as the project went on, we were surprised and amused by the beauty of the fluid mechanics involved in this system."

Aristoff explained the dynamics at work: You're in the shower and turn on the hot water. The steam starts to rise and that upward flow lowers the pressure levels at your knees. The result is that the inside of the shower curtain will billow in towards you, unless you have some weight attached to the curtain to stop it. That interplay of motion and pressure parallels the dynamic that quenches the cat's thirst.

Something as complex as a cat drinking water doesn't get unraveled and turned into a paper at the nation's top science journal overnight. It was almost four years ago that Roman Stocker, associate professor at MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, became interested in how his cat, Cutta Cutta (or "stars, stars" in the Australian aboriginal language), drank. His enthusiasm spread to Aristoff, Jung and Pedro Rios, a physicist who works on the mechanism of soft solids.

"Science allows us to look at natural processes with a different eye and to understand how things work, even if that's figuring out how my cat laps his breakfast," Stocker said. "It's a job, but also a passion, and this project for me was a high point in teamwork and creativity. We did it without any funding, without any graduate students, without much of the usual apparatus that science is done with nowadays."

While the work on cat drinking was done for professional pleasure and to answer a question, the researchers said that there could be useful implications gleaned from their "fundamental" research.

Engineers, for example, are moving into the field of "soft robots" and are working on the basic mechanisms of how non-metallic parts behave. Aristoff said there's great interest in creating robots that can walk on water, and this research could help.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/11/AR2010111104952.html?referrer=emailarticle

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cat Crisis

There's a 'cat crisis' at Twin Cities animal shelters

By Bob Shaw
Pioneer Press
Updated: 09/22/2010

Where's the love? That's what Minnesota's cats should be asking themselves, at the grim evidence that Minnesotans seem to be loving their cats less — and their dogs more.

In shelters, abandoned cats should be looking jealously at their canine colleagues — because cat adoptions are falling in Minnesota, even as dog adoptions increase.

"We have a cat crisis," said Deb Balzer, spokeswoman for the Animal Humane Society, whose five Twin Cities facilities are being engulfed by a river of 70 unwanted cats per day.

At the cat rescue group SCRAM, adoptions have plummeted by half in one year.

"Oh, the calls ... the calls ...," sighed SCRAM founder Laura Johnson, who talks with an endless stream of fed-up cat owners.

"People want to move, and the cats can't come with them. They ask for help with cat food or kitty litter," she said. "There are no jobs. Unemployment has run out. They can't get medical insurance."

The widening love-gap between dogs and cats is a national trend, said Nancy Peterson, the Cat Programs manager for the Humane Society of the U.S.

Nationally, there are more cats in shelters, while the number of dogs in shelters is remaining steady. Many shelters are being forced to convert dog kennels into cat cages, Peterson said.

Dog owners, like dogs, are more loyal. About 30 percent of dogs in shelters are reclaimed by owners, compared with about 4 percent for cats, according to the national Humane Society.

Pet owners lavish money on dogs (an average of $225 annually) more than cats ($203).
And now, dogs are finding more homes. In fact, Minnesotans are so eager to adopt dogs that the Animal Humane Society imported nearly 1,000 dogs from Oklahoma and Georgia last year.

"People want dogs. That is why we are able to help other rescue groups with dogs," Balzer said.

Why is there such a difference in human feelings for dogs vs. cats?

One reason is simple math. There are far more cats than dogs. Cats — nature's perfect breeding machines — can get pregnant at the age of 4 months and can have up to three litters a year.

About 42,000 kittens are born every day in the U.S., compared with 10,000 people, according to the group Spay USA. The feral cat population is about 80 million — with an estimated 480,000 in the Twin Cities.

Cats dominate shelters, accounting for 58 percent of the animals taken in by the Animal Humane Society in 2009.

That imbalance increases the urgency, Balzer said, of finding more loving homes for cats. Dogs don't have that problem.

"A puppy's face, people come running for. But cats have a different role in society," Balzer said. "This is a community problem."

With adoptions down, the Humane Society will have about 3,000 more unwanted cats to deal with this year.

Officials are trying to find them homes. The group announced this month that it has slashed adoption fees to $50 for a neutered, vaccinated, microchip-implanted cat.

And it is extending a two-for-one sale. The "Double the Love" program allows families to adopt two adult cats for the price of one — $50.

The Humane Society neuters thousands of cats each year and advocates for all owners to neuter cats. Because of such programs, it slashed euthanizations in 2009 by 9 percent to 11,000 animals — most of them cats.

But this year, it will be difficult to keep euthanizations down. Balzer wouldn't estimate how many more cats would be killed in 2010, but she did say, "Euthanasia is a reality."

"Does it break our hearts? Absolutely," she said. "Are we looking for any opportunities to help? Absolutely."

It's too soon to tell if the new programs will be enough to deal with the stampede of incoming cats.

Last July's cat adoptions at the Humane Society were down 15 percent. Adoptions in the two-for-one "Double the Love" program have dropped by 36 percent in one year.

For SCRAM founder Johnson, the stress of dealing with so many unwanted cats is grinding.

She was recently called to help one female cat in Blaine, abandoned when her owners moved. Johnson said the cat has been sitting by the back door for weeks.

"She cries and cries. The neighbor feeds her. And now she has had two kittens," said Johnson — the start of another feral colony.

"It makes me crazy," she said.

Bob Shaw can be reached at 651-228-5433.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Panda Therapy

It's no wonder the world has fallen in love with these animals.

Mum? Can you come and get me down now?

I'm not coming out. You'll have to come in and get me.

Kung Fu Panda...bring it on!

On the count of three.... lift!

Does this log make my butt look fat?

Oops! Slight miscalculation.

You go. I'll just stay here and rest my head a little bit.

I'll give you 2 seconds to get off me or I'm calling Mom.

Pardon me but do you have a napkin?

Dear Martha Stewart:
I have this brown stain on my nice, white, fluffy bottom ...

Shhhh! I'm reviewing....

I cannot believe that I'm stuck in this tree again.
What is the matter with me?

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned...

Absolutely nothing accomplished.
The perfect day for a panda...

DON'T YOU FEEL BETTER ALREADY?!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

No Kill Webinar: Reforming Animal Control

No Kill Webinar: Reforming Your Animal Control

Join us for a Webinar on October 22
Only $25

Nathan Winograd from the No Kill Advocacy Center and Mike Fry from Animal Ark and Animal Wise Radio will host this webinar, featuring a dynamic presentation by Ryan Clinton from Fix Austin. Clinton will share tips for moving your local animal control to the no kill model, whether or not they are on board with your effort.

Lear how Fix Austin transformed their city from a high-kill methodology to one that embraced the No Kill Equation, and learn what you can do in your community to achieve similar results.

Title: No Kill Webinar: Reforming Your Animal Control

Date: Friday, October 22, 2010

Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 AM CDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/268138184

Monday, August 23, 2010

SC: Dogs trained to attack chained, declawed, defanged bears

Activists' video shows SC hounds repeatedly running at chained, declawed bear
By MEG KINNARD , Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. - A declawed, defanged bear is chained to a stake as hunting dogs bark and snap, trying to force the bear to stand on its hind legs. The training exercise called bear baying is intended to make the bears easier to shoot in the wild and it's only allowed in South Carolina.

Armed with new undercover video of four such events, the Humane Society of the United States is pressuring state officials to explicitly outlaw the practice, which the organization says is effectively banned in every other state. Animal rights advocates say it's cruel to the nearly defenseless bears and harms them psychologically.

Hunters say the exercise popular in the state's hilly northwestern corner helps them train their dogs on what to do when they come across a bear during a hunt.

But John Goodwin, the Humane Society's chief animal fighting expert, calls it "bear baiting" — a centuries-old bloodsport that is more for spectators' entertainment than instruction for dogs on what to do when they encounter wild bears.

"This isn't about training dogs. This is a competition," Goodwin said a news conference in Columbia on Monday in conjunction with the public release of the videos. "If this is their idea of training a dog for hunting, then they're sending that dog on a suicide mission."

State law on the issue is murky. Statutes banning animal fighting have a specific exemption for dog training. And while South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster says animal cruelty laws prohibit bear baying, he hasn't prosecuted any cases.

On Monday, a spokesman for McMaster's office said prosecutors were reviewing the videos.

The videos, which were filmed with hidden cameras by activists posing as spectators, show an adult black bear standing on all fours, its back to a 4-foot high wooden fence, tethered to the ground by several feet of chain. Crowds of a few dozen line the dirt pen around it.

The bear rises onto its hind legs as three hounds sprint toward it, which is precisely the point: Hunters have a better chance of killing a bear swiftly with a shot to its exposed underbelly.

The unleashed dogs bark, show their teeth and swat at the bear, which lunges to the end of the chain, then backs up against the fence.

Moments later, handlers pull off the dogs. A new team of dogs — most of them Plott hounds weighing about 50 pounds — soon takes on the roughly 150-pound bear. Dozens more will follow.

"We really view this as a throwback to the days of the Roman Colosseum, when people filled an arena as spectators to watch animals pitted against each other," said Michael Markarian, the Humane Society's chief operating officer.

Animals regularly died bloody deaths during the ancient battles Markarian references. But the Humane Society's videos show no bloodshed. Handlers need their dogs healthy for hunting, and the bear is needed for more exercise sessions.

Along with staging activities such as dog races and field trials, hunting groups hold competitions in South Carolina to see whose dog team can most quickly get the bear to rise up on its hind legs, or "bay."

"It's just training," says Brian Kelly, a hunting enthusiast who organized a bear baying in Greenville County in February. "There's no dogs that get in any conflict with the bear, and the dog does not get hurt."

Kelly said the bear is kept in a cage while dogs on 3-foot leashes bark at it, with judges rating the dogs on how well they pay attention to and become accustomed to being close to the much bigger animal.

That description isn't backed up by the Humane Society's videos, which clearly show the dogs and bear swatting each other. The dogs aren't on leashes, and one of them was injured after the bear slapped it, Markarian said.

The only time the bear is shown in a cage on-screen is in the bed of a pickup truck, either before or after the baying.

Markarian said bear baying is illegal in all states but South Carolina, though a review of some of those laws shows the ban is by default. North Carolina, for instance, has a law against keeping black bears in captivity except for zoos or for scientific research, but have no explicit ban on baying.

South Carolina's ban on animal fighting has an exemption that allows bear baying, as long as there is no "repeated contact" between the animals. When the attorney general was asked to weigh in on the issue in 2008, McMaster issued an opinion saying he views the practice as illegal under the state's animal cruelty law.

Bear hunting is permitted for two weeks each October in only three counties in northwestern South Carolina. Last year, hunters bagged 92 bears — the most ever recorded in a season.

For a limited time in 2005, the state Department of Natural Resources issued 38 permits to keep bears for baying, all for bears that were already in captivity as pets or in small zoos. Fourteen of those bears have either died or been let go, leaving 24 permitted captive bears, according to regional wildlife coordinator Tom Swayngham.

At least eight of those animals are used for baying in the three counties where bear hunting is permitted, Markarian said. But the same bear showed up in all the events taped by the group's investigators, he said.

The man identified by the Humane Society as the owner of that bear did not return repeated messages left by the AP. State records show he has permits for five black bears.

Animal fighting has history in South Carolina, where the mascot of the state's flagship university is a "Fighting Gamecock" with metal spurs. The state's agriculture commissioner pleaded guilty in 2005 to extortion after admitting he took a bribe to protect a cockfighting ring.

That led to a heated legislative debate about cockfighting, deadly contests between two roosters that have been illegal since 1917 but remain fairly commonplace. In 2006, Gov. Mark Sanford signed legislation raising penalties for cockfighting and outlawing hog-dog rodeos — events where dogs maul and maim hogs to subdue them — and other animal blood sports.

State Rep. David Hiott of Pickens County, one of the counties that allow bear hunting, said it's unlikely the Legislature will revisit a ban on bear baying.

If the Humane Society strikes out with lawmakers, it will ask wildlife managers to effectively halt bear baying by revoking the remaining captive bear permits, Markarian said.

"They can put a stop to this cruelty immediately," he said.

___

Online:

Humane Society of the United States: http://www.humanesociety.org/

National Plott Hound Association: http://www.nationalplotthoundassociation.org/

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Feral Feline Freedom

FROM BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL SOCIETY:
Feral Freedom Success in Jacksonville

August 05, 2010, 8:4AM MT
By Mary Hudgins, Best Friends Network volunteer

Scott Trebatoski helps collaborative efforts and lifesaving program prosper.

“Cats are part of the landscape in Jacksonville, they are part of our community and that’s how we deal with them,” says Scott Trebatoski, division chief for Animal Care and Protective Services in Jacksonville, Florida. He believes this attitude explains the support for the Feral Freedom program in Jacksonville.

The program, begun in 2008, is a collaboration between the City of Jacksonville, First Coast No More Homeless Pets, the Jacksonville Humane Society, and Best Friends Animal Society. Feral Freedom has saved the lives of thousands of cats by using trap/neuter/return (TNR) to divert community cats from the animal control system.

Much of the credit for the outstanding success of the program belongs to Trabatoski.

“After working with Scott, we now have an excellent relationship and find that Scott has turned Jacksonville into a great partner in our mission to end euthanasia of dogs and cats in Jacksonville,” says Rick DuCharme, founder of First Coast No More Homeless Pets. “Scott is committed to finding innovative ways to save as many lives as possible.”

Trebatoski got into animal control through the backdoor. He was working in human resources in Ft. Myers where the county animal control agency had been without a director for 18 months. He stepped in, temporarily he thought, to work out some personnel issues.

As he says, “Animal control has such a broad scope, it’s infectious when you start working in it. It’s hard to not continue. So when I was done fixing stuff, I continued working there.”

He moved on to Jacksonville when Feral Freedom was in its infancy.

“He was onboard right away with it and has been behind it 100%,” says Danita Thompson, Jacksonville cruelty investigator.

In the Feral Freedom program, community cats who are humanely trapped by animal control are taken to First Coast for spaying and neutering. The cats bypass the animal control facility rather than becoming unfortunate statistics. First Coast then returns the cats to the area they were trapped.

“The staff’s behind the program and it has been a huge boost for morale,” Trebatoski says.

Before Feral Freedom, the shelter was terribly overcrowded, cats were kept two or three in a cage, which lead to sick cats and a high euthanasia rate. Thompson, who started with the agency working with the cats in the kennels, says, “Euthanizing dozens of cats everyday takes an emotional toll on anybody, especially somebody who is doing the job because they love animals.”

Because community cats are no longer being admitted to the shelter, overcrowding is a thing of the past, euthanasia rates for cats are down by 62 percent, owner surrenders are down by 31 percent and cat adoptions are up 40 percent.

There are no city funds involved with the program and Trebatoski estimates savings to the city “may be as much as $150,000 per year from a combination of not housing the cats for three to five days then euthanizing and disposing of them.”

Some components of the program have changed through experience. Trebatoski credits the city for writing the ordinance to allow for experimentation and thinking outside the box.

“We’ve had to make adjustments,” notes Trebatoski. “Things we thought were going to work didn’t work and other things we tried did work.”

In the beginning all the cats were microchipped. The idea was to identify cats repeatedly being trapped. Repeated trappings didn’t occur and so microchipping was dropped for substantial financial savings to First Coast - savings that can be used for more spay/neuter surgeries.

If animal control traps an ear-tipped cat, it is now released without being taken to First Coast. Experience also led those involved to let the results of Feral Freedom speak for themselves, rather than doing an extensive public education campaign. Jacksonville’s partnership with First Coast has evolved as well. Trebatoski feels that his agency is now a full partner in the program.

Trebatoski has fielded numerous phone calls and a dozen personal visits from representatives of other communities thinking of starting a similar program.

“He is somebody other animal control agencies can look to about how to address issues,” says Shelly Kotter, Best Friends’ Focus on Felines campaign specialist.

Rather than trying to copy Jacksonville’s program, Trebatoski believes every community will need to develop their own program to meet their own issues and needs. He suggests taking some ideas from Jacksonville and assembling a unique program that works for them.

One of the markers of the program’s success, Trebatoski believes, is the drop in kittens brought into the animal control system during “kitten season.”

From her days on the frontline Thompson recalls, “Prior to Feral Freedom, I would spend half my day picking up newborn litters of kittens and kittens less than two months old.” Most of those kittens were sick or too young to survive and were euthanized upon intake. Now she says, “We are seeing positive results in the numbers of kittens we are bringing in.” They are also see positive results in an increase in the number of kittens being adopted.

As Thompson says, “Feral Freedom has been a very positive change for the city, not just in terms of operation for animal control but in terms of the humanity involved.” All those who love cats heartily agree with her.


How you can help:

Your donation to the Florida Feral Freedom program will save lives.
Get more information about First Coast No More Homeless Pets.
Join the Best Friends Focus on Felines campaign and find out how you can help community cats in your area.


Photos courtesy of First Coast No More Homeless Pets and Scott Trebatoski

Monday, August 16, 2010

Deep Memories

FROM BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL SOCIETY:
July 28, 2010 : 2:43 PM ET
By Cathy Scott

A Best Friends “thank you” note, with a dog and cat pictured on the front, has prompted an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease to smile, laugh, and reminisce about her pets for the first time in years.

Moments like that had all but disappeared -- that is, until the card with Jeffrey the dog and Dido the cat arrived. “When she received your card with this adorable puppy/kitty combo, she fell in love,” says her daughter, Judy Lee.

Now, when 87-year-old Sarah Harrell looks at the card with the photo of a “happy, smiling puppy face and tiny kitten draped over its head, she becomes happy, animated, alert and close to being our old Mom again,” Judy says. “Because she so loves the photo, I have it in a frame, and she now keeps it on the table near where she spends much of her day.”

Sarah, who lives on the East Coast, was born and raised on a farm surrounded by animals. Some of her happiest memories -- and her late husband’s too -- were of time spent with the family’s pets. And one of her first pets, as a child, was a small duck named Dewey, and during her marriage, a dog named Wendy. Now, she shares those memories of animals like Dewey and Wendy with her daughters.

Still, it was a surprise when the photo of Dido perched atop Jeffrey’s head brought a smile to Sarah’s face. Then, to the delight of her daughters, Judy and Linda Gerecitano, Sarah began to speak.

The card, Judy says, has jogged her memory.

The family has lived with her Alzheimer’s for a long time, feeling as if their mother was slipping away. But today, Judy says, “There is something about this photograph that makes her instantly smile, laugh and often begin to talk about some of the pets she had over the years.”

Sarah’s reaction to the photo came as a pleasant surprise to another Sarah. As a Best Friends photographer, Sarah Ause, who shot the photo of Dido and Jeffrey, strives to create images that make an impact. “But helping to restore someone’s memory is really beyond anything I could have ever imagined,” she says. “I’m in awe, completely inspired and honored to know that such a small occurrence in my daily life could end up having such a significant effect on someone’s life.”

It is a photo that keeps on giving. “It is extremely difficult to accurately explain how this simple little photo seems to work a miracle time and time again,” Judy says. “It is even more difficult to express how much it means to my sister and me. This picture is doing more to ward off the ravages of this horrible disease than any pills.”

So, Aileen Walden, senior manager of Best Friends’ Donor Relations and Stewardship who first received a note about the card from Judy, had the photo enlarged, matted and sent to Sarah for her room. That too, brought a big smile to Sarah’s face. “Mom,” her daughter Judy says, “must have laughed for several minutes when she saw it.”

Photo by Sarah Ause

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Happy photos

I received this and wanted to share.

These pictures were taken immediately after birth. The mare laid down and the little one trotted around and crawled right up into her lap.

Mom, Dad, Uncle Jim ~~ ~~ ~~ DON'T MOVE YET!!

He's not my brother ~~ ~~ He's just HEAVY!!

I promise I won't do it again, Momma!

Just wait a couple'a years and try that again! YEAH!!

Come on, throw the ball, throw the ball, ~~ ~~ I'm ready ~~ ~~ yeah ~~ throw it!

Hmmmmm. I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I'm not sure that what you heard is what I actually meant!

We gotta get a bigger bed!

Hey, can I have a bite'a that?

HEY!! What's with this 'warm spot' ?

You woke me up to tell me THAT??

HIIIIEEEEEEYAAAAH!!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Feline Rescue's 2010 Book Fair

FELINE RESCUE'S 2010 BOOK FAIR

Feline Rescue’s 2010 Book Fair will be held Saturday and Sunday, August 14 and 15, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Feline Rescue adoption center, 593 Fairview Ave N in St. Paul (just north of University Ave.).

Donate an item!

Have you been spring cleaning? Feline Rescue would love your donations! Please keep Feline Rescue in mind and donate the following items that we can sell at the Book Fair:

Gently used books
Audio books
Music CDs
DVDs
VHS
Video games
We appreciate your donations, but we can't accept textbooks, computer manuals, magazines, or encyclopedias.

We will accept donations Monday, July 12 through Monday, August 9.

Please drop off your donations at the Feline Rescue adoption center during the following hours:

Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Please note that we will be unable to accept donations after August 9 - we won't be able to process the donations in time for the event.

How to prepare your items for donation

Since you know your books best, we kindly ask that you sort and label your donations according to the following categories (you may select more than one category):

Animals
Fiction, including Romance and Mystery
Non-Fiction
Biography and Auto-Biography
History
Sports
Science Fiction
Children and Teen
Self-Help
Religion / Philosophy
Cook Books
Arts, including Art & Writing and Arts & Crafts

This year we will feature Twin Cities author Audrey McClellan and her newly-released book, O’Leary, Kat and Cary Grant ~ Adventures with a Paranormal Cat. Meet Ms. McClellan at the Book Fair and enjoy her new book! Proceeds from the sale of her book will benefit Feline Rescue.

Other authors have donated copies of their books to benefit Feline Rescue!

Twin Cities author and U of M veterinarian Justine Lee’s It’s A Cat’s World … You Just Live In It
Debra Halborn’s Greetings from the Starcat Cluster ~ It’s the Place in Space!

Proceeds from this event will go to Feline Rescue, Inc. for food, shelter, and medical care for stray, abused, and abandoned cats and kittens.

How to make a financial donation

Would you like to make a financial donation? Donations by personal check can be mailed to:

Feline Rescue, Inc.
593 Fairview Ave. N.
St. Paul, MN 55104
Attn.: Donations

If you would like to donate online using a credit card or use our PayPal account, please find the yellow PayPal Donate button on our website at www.felinerescue.org.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Good news from Animal Ark

As anyone who has followed animal welfare issues knows, summer is the busiest season for animal shelters. Available funds are generally at their lowest point of the year and demand for services reaches a high as the temperatures climb. As a result, of the business of summer, I have saved up several important and fun announcements for one post. So here it is!

Twin Cities Pet Fix Program Expanding!

After years in operation, Minnesota's largest low-cost spay/neuter program is expanding. Historically, certificates for low-costs and, based on available funding, sometimes no-cost, spay/neuter certificates have been available at the Animal Ark Thrift Store and the Animal Ark Shelter. Within the next month, changes to the program will allow for increased certificate distribution at additional locations, including animal control centers, animal shelters and animal rescue organizations. If a nonprofit animal welfare organization or an animal control center is interested in distributing Pet Fix spay/neuter certificates, all they have to do is contact Animal Ark at (651) 772-8983 Ext. 51.

Wildcat Wednesdays Expanding!

Three years ago, Animal Ark began piloting a program with St. Paul Animal Control to help sterilize, vaccinate and release free-roaming cats in that city. Gradually, over the following years, the program was expanded and refined. In July of 2010, the program is now officially available to anyone seeking services for a free-roaming (i.e. not owned) feline. Each Wednesday, Animal Ark's mobile surgical hospital called "The Neuter Commuter" performs free surgeries, vaccinations and other veterinary services for area feral cats. More information about the program is available by downloading this brochure.

Animal Ark's Endowment Fund Established

More than 30 years ago, Animal Ark was built by a group of compassionate animal lovers in a grass-roots effort to establish Minnesota's first no kill animal shelter. Over the following years, many wonderful achievements have been accomplished. Yet, the long-term financial stability of Animal Ark was always a distant dream. Recently, that began to change with the first sizable donation into Animal Ark's endowment fund. Animal Ark's endowment fund is a capital resource that cannot be used for general operating or program expenses. Its purpose is to provide future income through interest, and, thereby, ensure our long-term financial stability.

According to Animal Ark Founder and President, the current endowment is a great start. However, she also states that ensuring the financial stability of Animal Ark into the future will require a substantial expansion of the endowment.

Animal Ark Cat Center Officially Named

Though relatively small, Animal Ark's cat center has been getting national attention for its creative and innovative design. It features many amenities, like floor to ceiling cat trees, ceramic tile, windows and more. It provides homeless felines with unmatched comfort. Now, it is getting a new name. The Animal Ark cat center is being named in loving memory of Lisa Richcreek Neiland. Lisa is survived by a loving family. Her love of animals - especially cats - will be remembered forever. Animal Ark's cat center will from now on be called the Lisa Richcreek Neiland Cat Center at Animal Ark. An official naming celebration and remembrance day of Lisa's life will be scheduled at Animal Ark, time and date to be announced.

National Speaking Tour Continues

As the national animal welfare movement continues to focus more attention on the programs and services needed to achieve no kill community-wide, Animal Ark is being called upon more frequently to consult with organizations and municipalities outside of Minnesota to help them achieve the no kill goal. We have recently presented in Nashville, TN, and Copperas Cove, TX. We have upcoming speaking engagements scheduled for Austin, TX, Miami, FL, and Washington, DC. Though this work adds to the demands on our time during the busy season, we are proud and privileged to be asked so share our expertise with others.

Animal Ark to Host Monthly National No Kill Webinars

Beginning in the fall of 2010, Animal Ark will be hosting a monthly series of webinars designed to help shelters and animal control centers achieve no kill community wide. The webinars will feature some of the top no kill advocates in the USA, each with proven track records of success. The projected cost per webinar will be under $15 per person. Keep an eye on the Animal Ark web site for additional details to follow.

--
Mike Fry
Executive Director of Animal Ark
Co-Host of Animal Wise Radio
http://www.animalarkshelter.org
http://www.animalwiseradio.com
Animal Ark Main: (651) 772-8983
Mike Fry Direct: (651) 964-3140
Toll Free: (888) 668-0687 Ext 99
FAX: (651) 304-6038

Friday, July 9, 2010

Oscar the cat gets "bionic" feet!

Cat amputee fitted with 'bionic' feet
By Dana Rosenblatt, CNN
July 8, 2010 9:00 a.m. EDT

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
A British cat has made a full recovery after being fitted with a new pair of artificial feet

The cat, Oscar, had his hind paws accidentally severed by a combine harvester

Vet: Fitting a cat with a prosthesis below its ankle had never been performed

Doctor believes cat's surgery could improve quality of life for human amputees

This cat, whose hind paws were accidentally severed, has been fitted with a new pair of artificial feet.

(CNN) -- If cats have nine lives, they may have just acquired a 10th -- thanks to a groundbreaking surgery that saved the life of a feline double amputee.

A British cat, Oscar, has made a full recovery after being fitted with a pair of prosthetic feet in November. The cat's hind paws were severed by a combine harvester.

The three-hour procedure, performed at an animal hospital in Surrey, England, by neuro-orthopaedic veterinary surgeon Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick, could serve as a model for human amputees.

Oscar's custom-made implants, ITAPs (Intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthetics), were modeled after deer antlers, which have a honeycomb structure that bones can grow through and skin can grow over.

By using computer-generated technology, a team of veterinarians and scientists designed a feline foot that mimics the way a cat walks and runs.

Oscar's implants were attached to his bones and then covered by hydroxypatite, which allows bone cells to grow onto the metal. Skin can then grow over the ITAP to form a seal against bacteria and keep infections at bay.

Custom-built paws were attached to the end of Oscar's prostheses, allowing him to run and jump like normal cats. One video of Oscar walking on his artificial feet has attracted more than 346,000 views on YouTube.

Fitting a cat with a prosthesis at the joint below the animal's ankle is a procedure that had never been performed, said Fitzpatrick, who waited seven months to announce news of Oscar's surgery because he wanted to see how the cat would recover.

The ITAPs, made from titanium aluminum, were first developed by a team of scientists at the University College of London, led by Professor Gordon Blunn.

Oscar's masters, Kate and Mike Nolan, were referred to Fitzpatrick by their local veterinarian in Jersey, England, after Oscar's accident last fall. They decided to proceed with the complicated surgery, knowing it could positively affect human medicine.

But first, Oscar's life-threatening injuries had to be treated and a course of antibiotics administered.

"We had to do a lot of soul-searching, and our main concern has always been whether this operation would be in Oscar's best interests and would give him a better quality of life," said Kate Nolan in a statement released by the animal hospital.

"Through our own background reading, we were aware that this sort of procedure is cutting-edge and also has an impact on human medicine," added Mike Nolan in a statement. "So knowledge about the way that Oscar's been treated can be carried over to human treatment going forward, so that's good for everyone."

While the surgery can benefit humans, Fitzpatrick said his decision to treat Oscar was made first and foremost to save the cat's life.

"He is the most remarkable cat. You can see that he desperately wanted to live," he said.

While many animals can live with only three limbs, it would have been impossible for Oscar to survive with only two limbs, Fitzpatrick said.

Although Oscar's life was insured for 4,000 British pounds (approximately $6,070), Fitzpatrick dedicated much of his time and hospital resources at no cost to treat Oscar.

Fitzpatrick believes the cat's prosthetic surgery could lead to similar advancements for human amputees needing artificial limbs.

"As long as it's in the interest of my patient, if everything works well, we can apply this to human victims," he said.

Oscar has adjusted well to his new legs, Fitzpatrick said, although he'll remain an indoor cat.

He may not chase mice like he used to, but he can still scratch up the furniture.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Animal Welfare inspection

FROM: Minnesota Humane Society [info@mnhumane.org]

In response to consumer complaints, media investigations and pressure from animal welfare organizations, the Inspector General conducted an audit of APHIS/USDA inspections of licensed breeding facilities. The audit was performed between 2006 & 2008, and the final report was released just this week.

The conclusions of the audit confirm what animal welfare organizations have long suspected. USDA inspectors are not adequately trained and are not enforcing the Animal Welfare Act. The audit report cites the following findings:

• The enforcement process was ineffective against problematic dealers. Education was the preferred action taken and no enforcement action was taken against violators.

• Violations were not cited or documented properly by inspectors to support enforcement actions.

• The monetary penalties assessed were not adequate to deter violators.

• The internet is a loop hole allowing an increasing number of large scale breeders to avoid inspections and these breeders are not being monitored to ensure the animals are being humanely treated.

APHIS/USDA has acknowledged the various problems raised in the audit report and is working to incorporate the recommendations of the Inspector General. Additionally, these findings could give leverage to the national legislation, Puppy Uniform Protection Statute (PUPS), which if passed would require:

• All breeders selling more than 50 puppies per year to the general public be federally licensed and inspected.

• Dogs at commercial breeding facilities must be given the opportunity to exercise for 60 minutes daily.

Help get the PUPS legislation passed. Please call your US Senator and Representative and urge them to vote in favor of PUPS. Below are links to access contact information for your US Senator and Representative.

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

http://www.house.gov/

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Red Lake Rosie's Rescue

Red Lake Rosie's Rescue is an organization near and dear to my heart. I have worked with many animal rescue groups but in my experience this one has the purest motives and greatest need. I write their blog (www.redlakerosie.blogspot.com), help with transports, clinics, and foster cats and kittens for them.

This video was created with photos from a clinic at Red Lake in March 2010 and includes an interview with Karen Good the creator and driving force behind Red Lake Rosie's Rescue.

The Animals at Red Lake Rosie's Rescue from JanetRoper on Vimeo.

Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue is an all volunteer, non-profit organization with a board of directors from the Red Lake Indian reservation, and operates a shelter on Red Lake Tribal land leased to Karen Good. Karen grew up in a large family on the reservation, left to get a college degree and returned to teach at the high school.

On March 21, 2005, a Red Lake 16-year-old killed his grandfather and his grandfather's girlfriend and then drove to the school where he shot and killed seven people on the school campus, including five students, one teacher and an unarmed security guard. Five others were wounded and the shooting spree ended with the boy committing suicide.

The day of the Red Lake massacre, Karen was driving home in a state of shock and horror. She noticed a skinny dog at the dump scrounging for food. On the spot, she decided she had to take some kind of action to make some kind of positive change. She took that dog home and that act ultimately resulted in the rescue which is named for the dog, Rosie.

Now animals are picked up routinely from the reservation dumps where stray animals go to find food or where their owners have abandoned them. Police, social workers and residents have come to know that the rescue will take the animals that may be suffering from malnutrition, injuries and exposure. Before the rescue, the only option was to shoot them.

Animals taken in by the rescue have been transported to nearly 50 different rescues across Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Prevention and education are the other main components of Red Lake Rosie’s mission. The rescue organizes several animal care clinics each year with Animal Ark’s Neuter Commuter, the Animal Humane Society’s mobile clinic, vets from Minnesota and Wisconsin and HSUS/RAVs (the Humane Society of the United States Rural Area Veterinarians). Hundreds of spay/neuter surgeries have been performed and animals receive shots and basic medical treatment.

Education of the animal owners about appropriate pet care is also a big part of the clinics and continues with school children. The very basic information about the need to provide shelter, water and food is the starting point and people are provided with buckets for water and food, as needed. Visits with animals are made to elementary classrooms and the last two years the children have saved their pennies to make a donation to the rescue. Some groups of high school students have been able to visit at the rescue or help at the clinics.

Finally, there is a metro support group for Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue that helps in a wide variety of ways. Some volunteers drive north to help at the rescue or a clinic or they transport supplies up and animals down. But, many volunteers help from home by raising funds, creating informational materials, fostering animals. Learn more at www.redlakerosie.org.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cockfighting in Lino Lakes, MN

Suspected cockfighting
ring busted in Lino Lakes

LINO LAKES, Minn. -- Nine people were arrested
after authorities discovered a suspected
cockfighting ring in Lino Lakes.

The Lino Lakes Police Department received an
anonymous complaint of a cockfight Sunday night at
a home on the 1400 block of Woodland Drive. When
officers arrived, they found several roosters that
appeared to be in poor physical condition with
several cuts and other evidence of cockfighting.

Animal welfare officers inspected the area Tuesday
and found hundreds of chickens on the property.
They removed 40 live game-cocks and seven dead
birds, as well as paraphernalia and other equipment
from the property.

All of the animals taken will be held in quarantine
pending a disposition hearing.

Authorities arrested a total of nine people. One was
arrested for felony permitting an animal fighting and
the others for attending an organized animal fight.
Some of those arrested admitted to being at the
residence to watch the fights. One suspect stated
that he had a $20 bet on a fight.

Animal Humane Society Senior Investigator Keith
Streff says this is one of the largest and most
sophisticated breeding, training and distribution
facilities he has seen since starting with the Animal
Humane Society in 1987.

Cockfighting is a felony in Minnesota and illegal in
all 50 states.

(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Government report on puppy mills

USDA fails to crack down on puppy mills, details horrific conditions and lax enforcement
By MARY CLARE JALONICK , Associated Press

Last update: May 25, 2010 - 11:51 AM

WASHINGTON - An internal government report says dogs are dying and living in horrific conditions due to lax government enforcement of large kennels known as puppy mills.

Investigators say the Department of Agriculture often ignores repeat violations, waives penalties and doesn't adequately document inhumane treatment of dogs. In one case cited by the department's inspector general, 27 dogs died at an Oklahoma breeding facility after inspectors had visited the facility several times and cited it for violations.

The review, conducted between 2006 and 2008, found that more than half of those who had already been cited for violations flouted the law again.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday that USDA takes the report seriously and will take immediate action.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Looking for love?

This has to be one of the best singles ads ever printed. It is reported to have been listed in the Atlanta Journal.

SINGLE BLACK FEMALE seeks male companionship, ethnicity unimportant. I'm a very good girl who LOVES to play. I love long walks in the woods, riding in your pickup truck, hunting, camping and fishing trips, cozy winter nights lying by the fire. Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand. I'll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me... Call and ask for Annie, I'll be waiting.....see below:



Over 150 men found themselves talking to the Atlanta Humane Society.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Stamps to the Rescue

Starting April 30, 2010 new postage stamps became available at the post office or online at www.usps.com that help to raise awareness of shelter pets for adoption and support a donation of pet food to shelters.

Learn more and order stamps at http://www.stampstotherescue.com/

I ordered enough for my 2010 Christmas cards!

Friday, May 14, 2010

McDuffy puppy mill closes in Morrison County, MN

Controversial dog-breeding business closes in Little Falls
By The Associated Press

ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- A dog breeder who opened a 500-dog facility near Little Falls three years ago has apparently gone out of business.

The St. Cloud Times reports Gary McDuffee canceled his U.S. Department of Agriculture license on March 16, according to agency records. A neighbor who fought the kennel in court says she no longer hears dogs on the property, and a Morrison County official says it's no longer being used as a kennel.

There was speculation McDuffee was leaving the dog-breeding business last fall, when hundreds of his dogs were listed in auction ads in Missouri.

McDuffee declined to comment to the newspaper.

McDuffee opened his kennel in 2007 after receiving a permit to have up to 500 dogs. That prompted protests and a lawsuit.


(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fundraiser for Red Lake Rosie's Rescue at Galleria, Thursday, May 13


Be alert to changes in pet foods

***Toxic Levels of Vitamin D found in Nutro Cat Food - specifically the Nutro Chicken Meal and Rice. If you feed any Nutro Cat Food, please read the information at this link: http://bit.ly/aOqK32

***Proctor & Gamble has acquired Natura Pet Food company, which sells products under the following brands: Innova, EVO, California Natural, Healthwise, Mother Nature and Karma. While no immediate changes in the formulas for these products is anticipated, those in the industry expect a lessening of quality. For those of you feeding these products, you may want to keep a close eye on the ingredients to see if they should change over time.

Other high quality grain free foods to consider: Wellness CORE, Halo, Nature's Variety RAW INSTINCT. Always beware of grains due to past problems with China adding melamine which proved fatally toxic to many pets.

For more information: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0520145720100505

Friday, April 30, 2010

Henry & Tink

FROM www.FIDOFriendly.com, JUNE 2010:
Meet Henry, the three-legged cat, and his dear friend Tink, the two-legged dog.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Minnesota photographer honored for nature photos

By BOB VON STERNBERG, Star Tribune

Minnesota wildlife photographer Jim Brandenburg has been honored by his colleagues -- in spades.

Four images captured by the Ely resident have been included among the 40 best nature photographs ever made in a ranking by the International League of Conservation Photographers.

Brandenburg, a longtime contributor to National Geographic magazine, had more photos selected than any other photographer. Others singled out for recognition were the legendary photographers Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.

On his website, Brandenburg is quoted as saying, "to have four of my photographs chosen by my peers as part of the top 40 nature photographs of all time is indeed the highlight of my career. I am honored beyond words."

His images include a gray wolf near the Boundary Waters and bison at Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne.

Brandenburg's photos can be seen on his blog.

All 40 photographs can be seen here.

Alaskan dog is a hero

Dog Leads Alaska State Trooper To Fire (VIDEO)
First Posted: 04-23-10 06:01 AM | Updated: 04-23-10 06:11 AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP)-- A dashcam video from the Alaska State Troopers shows a dog leading them through winding back roads to a blazing fire at his owners' property.

The video on the troopers' website shows the German shepherd running to meet the trooper's vehicle, then racing to the house on Caswell Lakes on April 4.

Troopers say Buddy and his owner, 23-year-old Ben Heinrichs, were in the family workshop when a heater ignited chemicals. Heinrichs told Buddy: "We need to get help."

The dog eventually found a trooper responding to a call about the fire.

The State Troopers are presenting a special award Friday to the dog. Buddy will receive an engraved silver-plated dog bowl in Anchorage.

Heinrichs suffered minor flash burns on his face. The workshop was destroyed, but only some window trim on the house was damaged.



ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP)-- A dashcam video from the Alaska State Troopers shows a dog leading them through winding back roads to a blazing fire at his owners' property. The video on the troopers' web...

Alaska dog gets his day as troopers honor pup for leading them to fire on owner's property
By RACHEL D'ORO , Associated Press

Last update: April 24, 2010 - 3:06 AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Buddy the German shepherd was hailed Friday as a hero for guiding Alaska State Troopers through winding back roads to a fire at his owners' workshop.

"Buddy is an untrained dog who for some reason recognized the severity of the situation and acted valiantly in getting help for his family," Col. Audie Holloway, head of the troopers, said Friday at a ceremony for the 5-year-old dog, who stood quietly before an adoring crowd.

Buddy, whose good deed was caught on a patrol car's dashcam video, received a stainless steel dog bowl engraved with words of appreciation from troopers for his "diligence and assistance."

Buddy also received a big rawhide bone, and his human family got a framed letter documenting his efforts.

"He's my hero," owner Ben Heinrichs said, his voice breaking. "If it wasn't for him, we would have lost our house."

The dashcam video shows Buddy meeting the trooper's vehicle, then dashing to their property about 55 miles north of Anchorage on April 4.

Heinrichs said he was working on parts for his truck when a spark hit some gasoline and ignited, lighting his clothes blaze. The 23-year-old man ran outside to stomp out the flames by rolling in the snow, closing the door to keep the blaze from spreading.

Heinrichs then realized Buddy was still inside the burning building and let the dog out. Heinrichs suffered minor burns on his face and second-degree burns on his left hand, which was still heavily bandaged Friday.

Buddy was not injured.

"I just took off running," Heinrichs said. "I said we need to get help, and he just took off."

Buddy ran into the nearby woods and onto Caswell Loop Road, where the dog encountered the trooper, Terrence Shanigan, whose global positioning device had failed while responding to a call about the fire. He was working with dispatchers to find the property in an area with about 75 miles of back roads.

Shanigan was about to make a wrong turn when he saw a shadow up the road. His vehicle lights caught Buddy at an intersection, and the dog eyed the trooper and began running down a side road.

"He wasn't running from me, but was leading me," he said. "I just felt like I was being led ... it's just one of those things that we're thinking on the same page for that brief moment."

The video shows Buddy occasionally looking back at the patrol car as he raced ahead, galloping around three turns before arriving in front of the blaze, which was very close to the Heinrichs' home.

From there, the trooper guided firefighters to the scene.

The workshop was destroyed and a shed was heavily damaged, but only some window trim on the house was scorched.

The Heinrich family said they knew Buddy was smart ever since they got him six weeks after he was born to a canine-officer mother and that he was brave, twice chasing bears away while Ben Heinrichs was fishing.

But saving their home beat them all.

"Downright amazing, I would say," said Tom Heinrichs, Ben's father. "Maybe there was some divine intervention."

Monday, April 26, 2010

MN House WILL vote on puppy mill regulation

Minnesota House WILL Vote on Puppy Mill Regulation - Urgent Action Needed
Contact your representative in the Minnesota House of Representatives and ask them to support the Benson Amendment to House File 2678

(Updated 4/26/2010)
After years of stalling, the Minnesota House of Representatives will finally have an opportunity to vote on puppy mill regulation. On Tuesday, April 27, House File 2678 will be heard on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives. When that happens, Representative John Benson will offer an amendment to that bill that will do some very important things, including:
• Close a loop hole currently being exploited by Minnesota puppy mills to avoid paying sales tax on the puppies they are selling;
• Generate at least $1.3 million in additional revenue for the State as a result of increased tax compliance;
• Ensure large-scale, commercial breeders of dogs and cats are in compliance with existing cruelty laws in Minnesota;
• Help to ensure that sick animals, which can pose a risk to public health, are not being sold and shipped nation-wide from Minnesota commercial breeders.

To help ensure this important amendment is accepted, we need you to contact your representative at the Minnesota House of Representatives NOW and urge them to support the Benson amendment to House File 2678. It is long past time for the Minnesota Legislature to deal with this issue. More information can be found at the links on the right side of this page. The Benson Amendment is virtually identical in language to House File 253.

THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR TAKING ACTION!

In addition to contacting your representative, please share this page with your family and friends!
Related Links

Find Your Representative

The Finances of Regulation

Special Interests and Puppy Mills

An Open Letter to the Minnesota Legislature

Friday, April 23, 2010

MN man who starved dogs gets probation

Probation for man who
starved dogs to death

AUSTIN, Minn. (AP) -- A Mower County judge has
sentenced a man to community service and
probation for letting two dogs die of starvation and
exposure to the cold.

Thirty-two-year-old Jacob Joshua McAlister of Lyle
was earlier found guilty of two felony counts of
animal cruelty.

Mower County sheriff's officials say a black Labrador
retriever and a chocolate lab were found dead in a
kennel on McAlister's property in April 2009. A
veterinarian determined the dogs died of starvation,
dehydration and exposure to the elements suffered
January through March.

The Austin Daily Herald reports Judge Donald
Rysavy ordered McAlister to spent two years on
probation and complete 100 hours of community
service.



(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights
Reserved.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Animal cruelty videos

Supreme Court voids law aimed at banning animal cruelty videos
By Robert Barnes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 20, 2010; 11:48 AM

The Supreme Court struck down a federal law Tuesday aimed at banning videos depicting graphic violence against animals, saying that it violates the constitutional right to free speech.
Chief Justice John J. Roberts Jr., writing for an eight-member majority, said the law was overly broad and not allowed by the First Amendment. He rejected the government's argument that whether certain categories of speech deserve constitutional protection depends on balancing the value of the speech against its societal costs.
"The First Amendment's guarantee of free speech does not extend only to categories of speech that survive an ad hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits," Roberts wrote. "The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the Government outweigh the costs. Our Constitution forecloses any attempt to revise that judgment simply on the basis that some speech is not worth it."
The law was enacted in 1999 to forbid sales of so-called "crush videos," which appeal to a certain sexual fetish by depicting the torture of animals or showing them being crushed to death by women with stiletto heels or their bare feet. But the government has not prosecuted such a case. Instead, the case before the court, United States v. Stevens, came from Robert Stevens of Pittsville, Va., who was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison for videos he made about pit bull fighting.
Animal rights groups and 26 states had joined the Obama administration in support of the 1999 law. They argued that videos showing animal cruelty should be treated like child pornography rather than granted constitutional protection.
But Roberts said the federal law was so broadly written that it could include all depictions of killing animals, even hunting videos. He said the court was not passing judgment about whether "a statute limited to crush videos or other depictions of extreme animal cruelty would be constitutional."
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. was the lone dissenter.
"The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, but it most certainly does not protect violent criminal conduct, even if engaged in for expressive purposes," Alito wrote.
David Horowitz, executive director of the Media Coalition, said in response to the ruling: "We are gratified that the justices soundly rejected the government's invitation to create a new exception to the First Amendment. As today's ruling demonstrates, if the Court were to rewrite the First Amendment every time an unpopular or distasteful subject was at issue, we wouldn't have any free speech left. We continue to believe that animal cruelty is wrong and should be vigorously prosecuted, but as the Court today found, sending people to prison for making videos is not the answer."
The Media Coalition is an association that defends First Amendment rights and represents U.S. publishers, booksellers and producers and retailers of movies, videos, video games and other recordings.
The Humane Society of the United States said it was disappointed by the ruling but found hope in the majority's statement that it was not deciding whether a narrow statute targeting "crush videos" might be constitutional.
"The Supreme Court's decision gives us a clear pathway to enact a narrower ban on the sale of videos depicting malicious acts of cruelty, including animal crush videos and dogfighting," Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement. "Congress should act swiftly to make sure the First Amendment is not used as a shield for those committing barbaric acts of cruelty, and then peddling their videos on the Internet."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Best Friends: Viva Las Vegas!

April 12, 2010, 7:51AM MT
By Sandy Miller, Best Friends staff writer

Best Friends Operation Casino Cats program proves to be a success in maintaining hotel-casino property feline population

It’s a win-win for both community cats and the Las Vegas hotel-casino property that they call home.

Seven months after Operation Casino Cats was first launched, the Best Friends trap/neuter/return (TNR) program at the hotel-casino is proving to be a huge success.

Best Friends staffers and volunteers have trapped, neutered and spayed, and then returned more than 85 cats to the property, says Shelly Kotter, campaign specialist for Focus on Felines, one of four Best Friends campaigns aimed at reaching the goal of No More Homeless Pets.

“We’re pretty confident we have 99 percent of them,” Kotter says.

Kotter doesn’t want to reveal the name of the hotel-casino because people might abandon their cats there.

There were a few bumps along the way, but the hotel-casino’s management worked with Best Friends to iron out the few problems that arose. For instance, pigeons were frequenting the cats’ feeding stations, so Best Friends covered the feeding stations with large bins with doors cut into them which were covered with a light-weight plastic. The cats could still access the food, but the pigeons had to find other places to dine.

“One of the things that makes me really happy is that we were able to work with hotel management on any issues,” Kotter says. “Management has been really great about coming to us with problems and working with us to solve them.”

Like many other businesses, the hotel-casino has discovered that TNR programs are the best way — and indeed the most humane way — to deal with feral and stray cats, or community cats as we like to call them. With TNR, the cats are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinary clinic — in Las Vegas it’s the Tropicana Animal Hospital — where they’re spayed or neutered and vaccinated. While under the anesthesia, a small tip of one of their ears is taken off to identify that they’re part of a managed cat colony. Then they’re returned to the area from which they came where caregivers continue to feed and watch over them.

“Best Friends volunteers are instrumental in helping me trap and maintain the colonies as well as reporting to me any issues or needs,” says Tami Simon, Best Friends’ campaign coordinator in Las Vegas. “Hotel employees also keep me informed of the goings-on — if they see any pregnant cats, kittens or newcomers.”

Simon called the program a big success.

“Considering how many kittens we have prevented from being born, it has been wildly successful,” says Simon. “The colonies are all healthy, but not reproducing. The management and employees have been extremely supportive.”

So successful is the program that Best Friends plans to present it to other hotel-casinos and large businesses in Las Vegas.

“The success of this program will help other businesses see that it solves multiple cat issues and is truly the most humane way of dealing with community cats,” Kotter says.

Focus on Felines

If we’re ever going to reach a day of No More Homeless Pets, we must keep cats from entering shelters in the first place. Seventy-two percent of cats who end up in shelters are killed, and only 10 percent to 20 percent of pet cats are adopted from shelters. TNR programs keep cats out of shelters and keep them from producing more cats. TNR programs are also cheaper to implement than trap and kill programs.

To find out how much your community could save by replacing trap and kill with TNR, check out Best Friends’ TNR Cost Savings Calculator.
Read more about TNR in Best Friends’ Focus on Felines campaign.
Read more about the launch of the Operation Casino Cats program and watch the video chronicling the successful process.

Photos by Molly Wald and hotel-casino employee

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

Free-Roaming Felines Fixed for Free

March 29, 10:24 AM
Minneapolis Pets Examiner
Mike Fry

A feral cat in a trap awaiting surgery at a Wildcat Wednesday event at St. Paul Animal Control.
Photo by Animal Ark

At many shelters or animal control centers feisty felines are simply killed. However, as March comes to a close, an innovative program is ramping up for its busy summer season. The program provides non-lethal control of Minnesota’s unsocialized, free-roaming felines, A.K.A “feral cats”.

Animal Ark’s Feline Feral Friends program operates through the spring, summer and fall and surgically sterilizes and vaccinates between 1,300 and 2,000 cats each year. Surgeries are performed in a large, mobile, surgical hospital called the Neuter Commuter, which is perfectly outfitted for the task.

Though the negative impacts of feral cats are frequently exaggerated, most people agree that leaving large numbers of intact domestic pets to roam wild is not a good thing. They also agree that the traditional “trap and kill” approach employed by most of Minnesota’s humane societies for nearly 100 years has failed to reduce the numbers of cats for several reasons.

Each female can have at least 3 litters of kittens in a year. The kittens themselves are able to reproduce at just 6 months of age. They are like breeding machines. With each breeding cycle, fertile, free-roaming felines breed kittens that usually do not survive due to various environmental factors that limit the population size. Because lethal approaches to managing free-roaming cats can never catch all of the cats, and because killing cats does not change the factors that limit population size, lethal approaches simply do not work. Another cat quickly replaces each cat killed at a humane society.

Instead of killing cats, the Feline Feral Friends program traps, spays or neuters and vaccinates them. The kitties are then returned to their home territory and managed.

Using this approach reproduction in a colony of cats can be halted. At the same time, fertile animals are prevented from moving into the area. The net result is a gradual reduction of the free-roaming cat population. Damage to wildlife is also minimized.

Animal Ark’s Neuter Commuter travels the State, visiting farms and industrial complexes where colonies of felines have become established. The largest of these colonies have been approximately 200 felines.

Additionally, in cooperation with St. Paul Animal Control, Animal Ark offers free services for feral felines found in that city. The first Wednesday of each month, St. Paul Animal Control hosts Wildcat Wednesdays, day-long spay/neuter events that allows St. Paul residents to bring feral cats in for services.

St. Paul Animal Control provides traps and instructions for trapping to residents of St. Paul free of charge for this purpose. The first Wildcat Wednesday of the season will take place Wednesday, April 7, with traps being made available a week in advance.

For more information about Feline Feral Friends or Wildcat Wednesdays, call (651) 772-8983 Ext. 21.

Friday, April 2, 2010

80 dogs & cats rescued from Waseca hoarder

No Kill Shelter Needs Help with Rescued Pets

March 30, 10:23 PM
Minneapolis Pets Examiner
Mike Fry

One of the rescued dogs when it arrived at Animal Ark.
Photo by Animal Ark

They are dirty, smelly and a little shy, but life for them is taking a turn for the better. Waseca Animal Rescue has saved dozens of animals from a large-scale situation many would typically describe as a “hoarder”. In total, about 20 cats and 60 dogs were on the property. According to local ordinances only 3 pets are allowed.

On Tuesday, March 30 the owner relinquished the animals to Waseca Animal Rescue that has been placing animals with other no kill rescue groups, including Animal Ark.

“We want to make sure that all of the animals are safe and well cared for,” said Marlene Foote, president and Founder of Animal Ark.

The first batch of animals arrived at Animal Ark at about 9:30 PM, met by a team of staff and a veterinarian to assess their condition.

“They are a little skittish,” said Mary Salter of Animal Ark of the first dogs to arrive. “But that will change quickly.”

Their other known issues are likely to change quickly, too.

“A little food, a couple of baths, some friendly play with people… that’s what these dogs really need,” Salter added.

You can help by becoming a foster home for one or more of the rescued pups. Simply fill out a foster application online. If you cannot foster a pet, you can donate to help with the rescue efforts.