With an almost entirely Welsh cast and filming in southeast Wales, Australian actor Toni Collette found herself completely immersed in the culture in the new feel-good film "Dream Horse", but said she struggled with the accent.
"Wales had never been at the top of my travel hit list but having been there now, I'm telling you it's profoundly beautiful," she told Reuters from Sydney, Australia. "However, the accent is very particular and I was incredibly intimidated."
Collette joked she even considered breaking a limb to get out of having to play the part, worrying she would be despised in Wales if she got the accent wrong. Eventually, she overcame her fears.
"I forged on and by the end of the shoot, I wanted to start again because I felt so fluent with it and it was coming so much more easily," she said.
With the Welsh accent conquered, Collette was then concerned about working alongside a horse.
An adaptation of a true story, Collette plays Jan Vokes in "Dream Horse", a grocery store worker who decides to breed a racehorse with the help of her cash-strapped neighbors. The film is released on Friday in the United States.
The group then enter the horse, Dream Alliance, into races, usually the playgrounds of the wealthy, and it goes on to win the 2009 Welsh National.
Collette said she bonded strongly with the horse.
"I didn't want to leave him at the end. It was heartbreaking to say goodbye," she said.
Meeting the real-life Jan Vokes was also daunting, Collette confessed.
"It's a huge responsibility playing a real person. I don't want to let her down and also I was just so excited for her. She's just a normal woman and this is a film now being made about her. It's such a big deal," Collette said.
On Saturday May 22, India the tiger found roaming in Houston now living at Black Beauty Ranch, was released into his new large naturally-wooded ½ acre habitat at the sanctuary.
He arrived at the sanctuary on May 15 and was in a temporary enclosure until he adjusted and was ready for the larger space. The transition went smoothly, and he is doing well.
Noelle Almrud, senior director of Black Beauty, part of the Humane Society of the United States released this update on India:
“India is a confident boy, and in his large space he is relishing in his freedom, and acting like the curious, lively young tiger he is. He already found a large log that is clearly his favorite, and enjoys stretching, scratching and marking his scent. He bounces around the habitat exploring all of the new smells and stalking his toys in the thick tall grass, illustrating his wild instincts. He is having a great time in his pool, particularly batting at the waterspout, and spending time exploring the hills, platforms and other enrichment– including a big red ball he ambushes as he leaps from behind bushes to try to get it. He watches his new neighbors curiously - tigers and a black bear from afar in their own habitats. He continues to thrive and is eating well.”
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States said this in her blog when India arrived at the organization’s sanctuary:
“All across the U.S., tigers, lions and other big cats languish in basements, garages and tiny outdoor cages, straddling the boundary between wild animal and family pet, their freedom squelched and their biological needs unmet. In unaccredited breeding facilities, poorly run roadside zoos, traveling zoos, pseudo-sanctuaries and private menageries, in conditions ranging from barely adequate to squalid, tigers produce babies for private sale, cub petting operations and other businesses that exploit them. Deluded buyers treat baby tigers like domestic cats, but once those tigers hit maturity, they become extremely dangerous — in short order, the cute, cuddly oversized kitten becomes a massive, unpredictable predator. And that’s when the fates of tigers like India typically take a dramatic turn for the worse. When their natural predatory instincts kick in, they lose their status as beloved family “pet” and are suddenly locked up and often kept in isolation in dramatically inadequate enclosures where they cannot exercise any natural behaviors. Fortunately, this will not be India’s fate.”
The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund are working hard with members of Congress to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act to put an end to this suffering and danger.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, pet food shortages are starting to take hold across the U.S., according to a news report.
WTSP-TV in Tampa, FL, reports that some retailers are running low. Dana Brooks, president of the Pet Food Institute, said that “the shelves may be a little bit more bare.”
Apart from the pandemic, “transportation troubles and bad weather” are factors in the low supplies, according to WTSP.
Fortunately, the shortages aren’t as severe as those that occurred with other products, such as toilet paper.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. is once again urging Americans not to kiss or snuggle pet chickens and ducks after a multi-state salmonella outbreak linked to backyard poultry.
The CDC says kissing or snuggling backyard chickens and ducks, as well as eating or drinking around them, could spread salmonella germs to the mouth, potentially causing illness.
Children should always be supervised around poultry and adults shouldn't let children under five touch any backyard chickens, the CDC says.
The health agency also recommends washing hands with soap and water immediately after touching poultry or their eggs or using hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
Salmonalla symptoms general start within six hours to six days of swallowing the bacteria and usually include stomach cramps, diarrhea and fever. Most recover after four to seven days, but severe symptoms include prolonged or bloody diarrhea, a fever higher than 39 C and "so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down," the CDC says.
There have been 163 reported illnesses between Feb. 14 and April 25 in 43 states, which have resulted in 34 hospitalizations.
This isn't the first time in recent months that the CDC issued a notice like this. In December 2020, the CDC reported that backyard poultry was linked to an outbreak of 1,722 salmonella infections. There were 333 hospitalizations and one death reported in that outbreak.
Health agencies in Canada have offered similar advice. In 2017, Public Health Ontario issued a research brief, recommending procedures such as hand washing, wearing dedicated clothes and gloves for handling chickens, properly removing chicken manure and refraining from kissing or snuggling poultry.
The Alberta government in 2015 also published a guide urging chicken owners to wash hands before and after touching live birds and never allow children under five to handle chicks.
The last time the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) issued a public health notice over an outbreak of salmonella in relation to backyard chickens was in 2015. PHAC reported 61 cases of salmonella across four provinces and one territory linked to storefronts that sell live chicks for backyard flocks. PHAC also recommends refraining from snuggling or kissing live poultry.
Trillions of Brood X cicadas are now emerging throughout parts of the mid-Atlantic and Midwestern U.S.
Why it matters: Most immediately, because they can be as loud as a Metallica show when they're singing in concert.
- But the behavior of cicadas will provide important clues to how climate change and human influence are altering the environment, and preview a future where some insects — including many of the species that most threaten us — could swarm in ever greater numbers.
By the numbers: As soil temperatures 8 inches underground reach 64°F, it will signal to cicadas of Brood X that it is time to end their 17 years underground and burst through the forest floors and suburban lawns of their native territory.
- Beyond their clockwork periodicity — which some scientists believe evolved during ancient glacial periods — Brood X cicadas have two things going for them: size and sound.
- As a mass, Brood X cicadas emerge in such numbers that as many as 1.5 million can be found in a single acre, which helps enough of them survive predators during their four- to six-week lifecycle to mate, lay hundreds of eggs and start the whole process over again.
- To attract those mates, male cicadas produce sound via the tymbals on either side of their abdomens. When masses of cicadas in a small area all sing at once, the volume can be higher than 85 decibels — loud enough to potentially damage hearing over a prolonged period.
Aside from the annoying noise and the ick factor, cicadas pose no threat to human beings. But the reverse isn't necessarily true.
- Periodical cicadas thrive in forest edges, but they need trees to reproduce, which makes wider-scale deforestation a threat, one that's already taken a toll on other periodic cicada broods.
- Because cicadas are dependent on temperature cues to know when to emerge en masse, climate change can mess with their life cycle. Cicadas that emerge off-cycle are known as "stragglers," and there's evidence that some members of Brood X emerged years early, which puts them at greater risk from predators.
The big picture: Climate change and habitat loss have already been implicated in the decline of countless other insects, from wild bees to monarch butterflies to certain kinds of moths. But other insect species will thrive in a warmer world — to the detriment of the rest of us.
- While honeybees have been under well-publicized stress, beekeepers have been able to curb losses in recent years. But that's less true for native pollinators, which have suffered as their native habitat has been replaced by sterile lawns.
- In general, though, as temperatures rise, insect metabolism and reproduction rates speed up, which means more insects eating more.
- One recent climate model predicted that as a result, the crop yield lost to pest insects could increase 10–25% for every additional 1.8°F degree of warming.
- A 2019 study predicted that under the most extreme warming scenarios, an additional 1 billion people around the world could face their first exposure to a host of mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue fever and Zika, as hotter temperatures allow the insects to expand their geographic range.
- Suburban development in partially forested areas — as well as climate change — is increasing the threat from tick-borne diseases, with the number of counties in the Northeast and upper Midwest considered at high risk of Lyme disease increasing by more than 300% between 1992 and 2012.
The catch: Connecting climate change to insect-borne disease is tricky, in part because rising incidences of diseases like Lyme likely also reflect greater awareness and more meticulous tracking.
- Even with warmer temperatures, the spread of insect-borne diseases like Zika is still primarily a function of poverty. Yellow fever was once prevalent in the U.S. as far north as Boston, and the CDC's location in Atlanta is due to the fact that the agency's initial focus was the control of malaria, which was endemic through much of the South until the postwar era.
What's next: This month, British biotech company Oxitec launched the first field trial in the Florida Keys of mosquitoes that had been genetically modified to curb population growth and limit the transmission of disease.
- MIT geneticist Kevin Esvelt has suggested genetically editing white-footed mice to be resistant to Lyme, which would potentially disrupt the chain of transmission to human beings.
- In both cases, though, some experts worry about unknown side effects that could come with releasing modified animals into the wild.
The bottom line: Cicadas are a loud, if temporary nuisance, but more dangerous bugs aren't going anywhere.
The American Kennel Club (AKC®), the world's largest purebred dog registry
and leading advocate for dogs, is pleased to announce the winners of the AKC Agility Premier
Cup. The competition was held at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida on May 15.
“It was a thrill to see the Agility Premier Cup return this year and to see so many talented dogs
compete,” said Doug Ljungren, AKC Executive Vice President of Sports and Events. “These
canines are some of the best athletes in the sport and they put on the performances to prove it.”
Over 90 dogs and their handlers participated in this year’s championship. Dogs entered
competed in 8”, 12”, 16”, 20”, or 24” jump heights. In line with COVID-19 safety precautions, the
event was closed to the public and entry was limited to exhibitors, judges, production crew, and
event staff. Other safety requirements included social distancing, temperature checks, wearing
face coverings, and sanitizing stations.
$10,000 was awarded between the 5 jump height winners, $500 was given to the Reserve
Winner, and $1,500 was presented to the Winner from the finals round.
The AKC Agility Premier Cup broadcast premiered on ESPN on May 25th. Audiences can enjoy
an encore show on May 31st at 8pm ET on ESPN2.
The AKC Agility Cup Winners:
First place winners in each height division (08", 12", 16", 20" and 24” respectively):
08" - GCHS CH MACH3 Aerilee's Kitto Katsu MXC MJC OF BCAT CGC TKN (Kit Kat), a
Papillon handled by Lindsey Barrows of Greenbrier, TN
12" - NAC MACH4 Jib's Just Happy To Be Here MXC PAD MJB2 (Bliss), a Poodle handled by
Cassandra Schmidt of Lees Summit, MO
16" – CH MACH2 Jandale Making Sparks Fly RN MXG MJG MXF T2B (Swift), a Shetland
Sheepdog handled by Jennifer Crank of Pickerington, OH
20" - MACH2 Holly's Hope Goes Far MXG PAD MJG PJD MFS TQX T2B2 (Fargo), a Border
Collie handled by Kathy Wells of Southfield, MI
24" - MACH2 Tenspeeds Whiskey Bent And Hellbound MXG MJG MFS TQX T2B (Cephus), a
Border Collie handled by Sarah LeBlanc of Xenia, OH
Reserve winners in each height division (08", 12", 16", 20" and 24” respectively):
08" - AGCH MACH19 Croswynd Making Mavericks MXG5 PDS MJG5 PJG MFB2 TQX T2B6
CA THDN CGC TKP (Maverick), a Pembroke Welsh Corgi handled by Jeremy Gerhard of
Grand Blanc, MI
12" - PNAC MACH3 PACH Oak Knoll I Have A Dream MXG MJC MXP3 MXPB MJP4 MJPB
PAX NF (Dreamer), a Shetland Sheepdog handled by Abigail Beasley of Centerburg, OH
16" - MACH2 Lady Luck's Catch Me If You Can MXG PAD MJC PJD NF T2B3 (Vegas), a All-
American Dog handled by Gloria Krueger of New Market, AL
20" - MACH Cedar Shiver Me Timbers MXS MJB PJD MFS TQX T2B CGC TKA (Shiver), a
Border Collie handled by Nikki Hall of Morgantown, WV
24" - PNAC MACH PACH Mack's Strider MXB MJB MXPB MJPB PAX CA CGC (Strider), a All
American Dog handled by Hayley Mack of Hesperia, CA
The Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund and Sierra Club today petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore federal protection under the Endangered Species Act to gray wolves, after Idaho and Montana passed legislation aimed at drastically reducing wolf populations in those states. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cannot stand by while Idaho and Montana order the extermination of wolves to appease the livestock industry and trophy hunters,” said Nicholas Arrivo, managing attorney for wildlife at the Humane Society of the United States. “The agency must follow its obligation to reinstate federal protections, or risk wolves disappearing from the West again.”
“Idaho’s and Montana’s legislative directives to kill wolves by nearly any means possible seriously endanger wolf populations in the West,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should immediately return Endangered Species Act protections to these wolves to halt the impending statewide slaughters before it’s too late.” In May Idaho’s legislature passed Senate Bill 1211, allowing the state to hire private contractors to kill up to 90% of Idaho’s wolf population. It also allows hunters and trappers to kill an unlimited number of wolves, run down wolves with ATVs and snowmobiles, and trap year-round on private land across the state. Similarly, Montana’s Senate Bill 314 could lead to the slaughter of more than 85% of the state’s wolves. The law pushes the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to authorize hunters and trappers to kill an unlimited number of wolves through baiting, trapping and night hunts using night-vision scopes and spotlighting.
In addition, Montana House Bill 224 allows trapping-license holders to snare multiple wolves during the state’s trapping season, while House Bill 225 expands the wolf-trapping seasons by four weeks. Costs that wolf hunters and trappers incur during this prolonged season can be reimbursed under Senate Bill 267’s bounty program. Because the recent Idaho and Montana legislation calls for the near eradication of wolves, the petition explains that returning wolves to federal management is both legally required and necessary for these wolves’ survival and recovery.
“As a keystone species, wolves play a critical role in maintaining the health of ecosystems and in reducing the spread of wildlife diseases such as chronic wasting disease,” said Bonnie Rice, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club. “These extreme and unethical laws in Montana and Idaho aimed at killing 85-90% of the states’ wolf populations will not only reverse 50 years of wolf-recovery efforts but will unravel entire ecosystems. Endangered Species protections must be reinstated for Northern Rockies wolves now before it’s too late.”
“Time and time again the federal government’s pandering to special interest has resulted in the unwarranted deaths of thousands of gray wolves due to state mismanagement of this species,” said Keisha Sedlacek, director of regulatory affairs at the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “It is time for the Biden administration to fulfill its commitment to using sound science to protect imperiled wildlife and act swiftly to reinstate federal protections for gray wolves, especially those in the Northern Rockies.” In response to Idaho’s wolf-killing legislation, the Center earlier this month called on the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Service to disqualify the state from receiving federal wildlife-management funding under the Pittman-Robertson Act. The Center also urged the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to show restraint in implementing the new wolf legislation or risk being disqualified for those federal funds. In 2020 Idaho received more than $18 million in wildlife-management funding authorized by the Pittman-Robertson Act; Montana received more than $24.4 million. The Endangered Species Act requires the Service to respond to today’s petition within 90 days.
The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) and Beneath the Waves (BTW) and have launched the Caribbean Shark Coalition (CSC), an innovative, new platform to bring key stakeholders, researchers, governments, and funders together to better collaborate and scale the impacts of science and policy within the entire Greater Caribbean region.
Represented are over 45 new members from NGOs, governments, and local businesses from nearly 30 countries, which have formally joined the CSC to build capacity around research, policy, and education efforts for these threatened species in the region.
The Caribbean plays a key role in advancing the global target of protecting 30% of the worlds’ ocean by 2030. Under this vision, the CSC has three primary goals, which will be carried out through collaborative work and CSC-member projects. Firstly, the CSC will foster collaboration in shark and ray research, policy, and capacity building for conservation among stakeholders and provide opportunities for knowledge transfer and data synthesis. The CSC will also seek to explore ways in which transboundary protections can be made to better safeguard the long-term health of shark and ray populations. Finally, the CSC aims to promote a sustainable future for these species as well as the human livelihoods who depend on them by engaging local businesses, stakeholders, and private-sector corporations.
“This is a historic moment for marine conservation efforts in the Caribbean,” says Tadzio Bervoets, Director of DNCA and a founding team member at the CSC. “We have been calling for transboundary marine protections in these waters, as we know that these apex predators are connecting ecosystems, reefs, fisheries, and nutrients across Exclusive Economic Zones. The CSC will help us to find and address critical knowledge gaps around sharks and rays in the region and support collaborative research projects.”
Dr. Austin Gallagher, Chief Scientist of Beneath the Waves, shares, “Over the years we’ve had so many stakeholders from throughout the region express their interest in getting engaged in basic research or education around sharks, but a lack of resources or technical or operational expertise limited them from taking action.
He adds, “We hope The Coalition can play a role in creating that friendly, open, and supportive community those voices have been looking for.”
CSC members represent a collection of experts from NGOs, local communities, intergovernmental organizations and governments, academia, and policy institutes, and local businesses, working together to advance the study and conservation of sharks and rays found in the waters of the Greater Caribbean. The CSC will provide cross-disciplinary training, region-wide assessments and will issue grants to CSC-member projects. The CSC will represent the interests and goals of members and, more broadly, sharks and ray species of the Caribbean at the UN (UNEP-CEP and the Regional Activity Center for the SPAW Protocols of the Cartagena Convention), IUCN-Caribbean, CITES, CMS, CBD, and other international gatherings.
For information visit www.caribbeansharks.co
The American Kennel Club (AKC®), the world’s largest purebred dog registry and leading advocate for dogs, is honored to recognize K9 Kozmo of the Mesquite Police Department in Mesquite, TX with a posthumous 2021 AKC Paw of CourageSM award after he made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty this past April. The AKC Paw of Courage shows appreciation for the work that dogs do in the service of humankind. These awards recognize dogs who serve their communities honorably, making great impacts in the lives of their human counterparts.
“The American Kennel Club is deeply saddened by the news of K9 Kozmo’s passing,” said AKC Executive Secretary, Gina DiNardo. “He was an exemplary K9 police dog for the Mesquite Police Department, making the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. We are proud to honor him with an AKC Paw of Courage award to recognize his hard work and valor in the service of his community. May K9 Kozmo rest in eternal peace.”
K9 Kozmo was a five-year-old Dutch Shepherd mix who served the Mesquite Police Department honorably for more than four years with his partner, Officer Crawford. In late April 2021, the Mesquite Police Department was assisting a neighboring agency in a vehicle pursuit involving multiple armed robbery suspects. Two of the suspects were immediately apprehended and another two fled into a nearby wooded area. K9 Kozmo and his partner Officer Crawford were called in to track the suspects. During the subsequent search, K9 Kozmo was killed by one of the suspects.
“K9 Kozmo died while valiantly serving our community,” said Mesquite Police Sergeant, B. Meyer. “While we mourn the loss of our family member, we appreciate his sacrifice and know that his service has made Mesquite a safer place to live and work.”
When K9 Kozmo was not patrolling the streets, he was busy doing public demonstrations, educating and interacting with members of the Mesquite community. He was a loyal partner to his handler and a dedicated servant to the community.
Any dog is eligible to receive an AKC Paw of Courage; the award is not specific to purebred dogs. Paw of Courage awards can be presented to Police K-9s, Military Working Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Service Dogs and other canines that work to make the lives of the people around them safer, easier or just simply happier. To nominate a dog for a Paw of Courage award, visit www.akc.org
Dogs and cats in Australia are being poisoned in large numbers by rodent bait, leading many to require blood transfusions as a severe mouse plague blights the country's eastern states.
The magnitude of the problem is so great in worst-hit regions that some veterinarians fear running short of donor blood. Others have struggled intermittently with obtaining enough vitamin K, a clotting agent, to treat a flow of victims that started intensifying late last year and shows no sign of let-up.
At least hundreds, but more likely thousands, of pets are becoming ill after eating rodent bait or ingesting mice that have eaten bait, according to veterinarians contacted by the VIN News Service. Bait with anticoagulants impedes clotting, potentially causing victims to bleed to death if not treated within several days of ingestion.
Treatment options range from induced vomiting for cases caught early to the administration of vitamin K in moderate to severe cases. Plasma or whole blood transfusions are needed for the more serious cases. "We've done so many blood transfusions, it's hard to keep count," said Dr. Anne Cusack, a practitioner at a veterinary hospital in Gunnedah, in northeastern New South Wales.
Cusack estimates her clinic alone has performed roughly 100 blood transfusions since December, and other clinics in the region "are dealing with the same problem," she said.
Some 250 kilometers (155 miles) away in Dubbo, Dr. Caitlyn Tremble said the clinic where she works ran 244 clotting tests between January and April. The vast majority indicated deficiencies.
The clinic has gone through 65 bags of plasma in the past four months — using about one bag per patient, she said, while about 10 patients have needed whole blood transfusions. Plasma replaces clotting factors, whereas whole blood replaces clotting factors as well as red blood cells, which carry oxygen.
"We're pretty lucky in that we have an arrangement with a gentleman who has retired greyhounds, so we have them on standby as a blood supply," Tremble said.
Cusack and her colleagues in Gunnedah don't have that luxury, and are asking all clients who have larger dogs for blood. "It seems as soon as we've collected the blood, we've used it up," she said.
Practitioners are treating far more dogs than cats. Tremble suspects that dogs are more likely to eat bait and dead mice, whereas felines tend to chase live mice. Still, she's seeing an increasing number of sickened cats come into the practice in Dubbo, one of which was given a transfusion of dog blood.
Dogs experience higher levels of stress when separated from their owners during wellness exams. This is according to a study out of the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) in Canada, which found canines showed heightened levels of physiological and behavioral signs of fear and stress when examined alone as compared to having their owners in the room. These findings, researchers say, are particularly of note amidst the pandemic, as many clinics are asking owners to wait outside of exam rooms during appointments.
“We started this research before the pandemic because we wanted to see the impact of separating dogs from their owners, which we know happens often during veterinary procedures,” says the study’s coauthor, Lee Niel, PhD. “But these findings are particularly relevant now, given how many clinics are asking owners to wait outside for the visit.” The study looked at a sample group of 32 dogs, all of which underwent standard wellness checks that were conducted either with or without their owners in the room and recorded.
Researchers found dogs in the owner-absent group showed higher levels of physiological changes associated with stress (e.g. increased heart rate and temperature, trembling, shivering) and more vocalizations (e.g. growling, whining, barking) as compared to those in the owner-present group. Additionally, dogs without owners in the room demonstrated more behavior changes, OVC reports, including a head held low, ears pinned back, or tail lowered/tucked between hind legs. These stress responses, the college notes, were highest during hands-on aspects of physical examinations.
Researchers say clinics should consider these findings when implementing updated protocols amidst the “new normal,” as the challenges associated with handling stressed or fearful dogs can prevent these animals from being properly assessed during an exam. Further, some dogs may become aggressive when scared, which could put staff members at risk, OVC says.
“Negative experiences during a visit may make dogs more stressed the next visit, and the problem can compound,” says the study’s lead author, Anastasia Stellato, PhD. “We want to try to head off that cycle before it gets to the point where the dog might become aggressive.”
To help reduce stress levels, veterinary teams may want to consider holding appointments outside when conditions allow. Alternatively, if a clinic has large, well-ventilated exam rooms, owners could be permitted to stay in the room while their dog is being examined, even at a distance, OVC reports.
“Thinking outside the box for solutions, using minimal restraint handling, offering the dogs lots of treats and making the appointment as positive as possible—these are all good ways to reduce stress for our dogs,” Dr. Niel says. “Ideally, veterinarians should be using these techniques to reduce dog stress on a regular basis, but these efforts are particularly important when the owner is absent.” The research, which was performed at the Hill’s Pet Nutrition Primary Healthcare Centre at OVC with funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), has been published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
The United Kingdom is moving to ban the importation of dogs with cropped ears, amid an apparent surge in the practice driven by pop stars and other celebrities that prompted veterinarians to call for stricter rules. Britain's ruling conservative government this week said it will introduce the import ban as part of a range of measures designed to improve animal welfare, including the compulsory microchipping of cats and prohibition of electric-shock training collars. The new rules will be introduced for parliamentary votes via a series of bills, the government said. Ear cropping is banned in many locations, including Europe and Australasia, but is permitted in the United States.
Nine U.S. states regulate ear cropping, though none of them ban it, according to the AVMA. Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania prohibit ear cropping except by a licensed veterinarian. Washington allows it when considered a "customary husbandry practice." A number of states have rules about docking the tails of horses or cattle, but only two — Maryland and Pennsylvania — apply restrictions to docking dogs' tails, according to the AVMA. Lawmakers in New York have proposed bills to ban ear cropping and tail docking in dogs for cosmetic purposes, but none has made it over the line. Lawmakers there recently moved successfully against another controversial surgery. In 2019, New York became the first U.S. state to ban declawing in cats. Eleven major U.S. cities also ban the practice, according to the advocacy group Alley Cat Allies — the latest being Austin, Texas, in March.
Cat declawing, or onychectomy, is amputation of the third phalanx, or bone, of a cat's toes to stop scratching behaviors that could otherwise lead owners to abandon or euthanize the animal. The AVMA discourages declawing, which opponents of the practice say causes pain, lameness and behavioral issues, but the national group and some state-based veterinary associations stop short of advocating bans. Last month, a bill to prohibit declawing in California was withdrawn after it received pushback from the California Veterinary Medical Association, which called it an "inappropriate attempt to legislate veterinary medicine's scope of practice and interfere with clinical decision making made in the context of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship."
When it comes to ear cropping, Bentley, the practitioner in New York state, suggests that rather than targeting politicians, advocates for change in the U.S. could target breed registers and dog shows that still support the practice. The American Kennel Club includes cropping and tail docking in certain breed standards, such as for the Doberman pinscher, saying they are "acceptable practices integral to the defining and preserving breed character and/or enhancing good health." The AKC adds that "appropriate veterinary care should be provided." The Kennel Club in the U.K., by contrast, does not allow dogs with cropped ears in its events.
Dos Santos, the veterinarian in England, believes ear cropping does not belong within veterinary medicine's scope of practice because it does not pertain to animal health. "The reality is that it's an unnecessary mutilation with no medical benefits whatsoever — and rightly an illegal mutilation in this country," she said in a recent interview. On Wednesday, Dos described the government's commitment to change the rules in the U.K. as a "huge victory" for animal welfare.
A 10-year-old castrated male beagle was evaluated by the oncology service at the Animal Referral Hospital in Sydney, Australia, in June 2020 for a large subcutaneous mass on the left rostral muzzle. The mass was first detected by the dog’s owner in May 2020. Subsequently, they noticed a waxing and waning of the swelling before the mass was evaluated by their family veterinarian. In-house cytology had been performed by the veterinarian, and the cells were consistent with a mast cell tumor (MCT). Owing to its size, location, and extension into the oral mucosa, the mass was not considered to be surgically resectable, and the patient was referred to the Animal Referral Hospital for further assessment and discussion of treatment options.
On presentation, the patient was bright, alert, responsive, and hydrated. The mass measured approximately 5 cm in diameter and was subcutaneous, with a significant component extending into the buccal and labial oral mucosa of the left rostral maxilla, as manifested by erythema and swelling. The ipsilateral mandibular lymph node was mildly asymmetrically enlarged. Other aspects of the clinical examination were unremarkable.
A fine-needle aspirate of the left mandibular lymph node was performed, and the results of cytologic evaluation were consistent with metastatic MCT. A complete blood count and blood chemistry panel were performed, and all results were within normal limits. An abdominal ultrasound exam was then performed to complete staging; it was all clear. The patient was considered a good candidate for radiation treatment of the MCT, and the patient then underwent a CT scan for radiation treatment planning. A course of stereotactic radiation therapy was initiated to treat both the local MCT and the left mandibular node and was completed 2 days later. The mass received 3 × 9 Gy for a total of 27 Gy, and the mandibular node received 3 × 8 Gy for a total of 24 Gy.
When the treatment was completed, the patient was started on prednisolone 0.5 mg/kg once daily and continued on fexofenadine (Telfast) 180 mg twice a day. The prednisolone was weaned down over the next 3 weeks, but the patient remained on antihistamines throughout the course of treatment. Adjuvant chemotherapy with single-agent vinblastine was started 2½ weeks later and completed after 11 weeks. The patient received the first 4 doses (2 mg/m2) intravenously on a weekly basis, and the final 4 doses were administered every other week at the same dose. Restaging with abdominal ultrasound performed halfway through the chemotherapy regimen showed that the patient remained in clinical remission for local disease with no evidence of distant metastasis.
The patient tolerated the radiation treatments very well and showed no obvious acute effects at the time of completion of therapy. However, some effects did start to manifest in the subsequent 2 to 3 weeks with alopecia in the treated field and mild to moderate oral mucositis with mild sloughing of the oral mucosa. The mass went into complete clinical remission within 10 days following completion of the course of radiation therapy. The oral mucositis resolved within the next 3 to 4 weeks. A focal, 5 mm mucosal erosion persisted in the left upper lip for the next 3 months, after which it was completely healed. The alopecia within the field became more extensive and significant dermal hyperpigmentation in the left rostral muzzle also became evident and persists. The patient is in clinical remission and continues to do well 11 months after starting radiation therapy. ++++++++++++++++++++++++
A dog’s relationship with its owner can impact its long-term stress level.
This is according to a newly published study out of Sweden. As part of an investigation as to whether the stress levels of dogs are affected by the people they live with, researchers from Linköping University measured levels of cortisol in the hair of a sample group of 18 hunting breeds (e.g. Swedish elkhound, Norwegian elkhound, dachshunds) and 24 ancient breeds (e.g. Shiba Inu, Basenji, Siberian huskies), along with their owners.
In addition to these measurements, owners were surveyed about their relationship with their pet, including their interactions and emotional attachment to the animal, as well as the extent to which owning a dog gave rise to problems.
The findings suggest a correlation between a relationship a dog has with its owner and the animal’s stress level; however, this differs between breeds.
“The results showed the owner’s personality affected the stress level in hunting dogs, but, interestingly enough, not in the ancient dogs,” says Lina Roth, PhD, senior lecturer in Linköping University’s department of physics, chemistry, and biology. “In addition, the relationship between the dog and the owner affected the stress level of the dogs. This was the case for both types, but the result was less marked for the ancient dogs.”
These new findings build on a study previously completed by the same research team which determined dogs in herding groups experienced long-term stress levels mirroring those of their owners.
The study has been published in Scientific Reports.
Long-term obesity predisposes horses to health issues, including insulin dysregulation, metabolic syndrome, laminitis, overheating, even cardiovascular changes. For broodmares, excessive body condition has long been recognized as problematic. One recent study described specific ways that overconditioning may negatively affect reproductive efficiency of broodmares.* “Although widely known that excess body weight or condition is detrimental to health and fertility, obesity continues to plague the industry and appears to be worsening with time,” said Catherine Whitehouse, M.S., a Kentucky Equine Research nutrition advisor.
Among the negative consequences of obesity in broodmares is the increased likelihood of anovulatory hemorrhagic follicles. Under normal circumstances, a follicle containing an egg develops on an ovary. When mature, the follicle ruptures, releasing the egg into the oviduct, where fertilization occurs if the mare is bred. When the follicle does not mature properly or release the egg in a timely manner, such as in the case of anovulatory hemorrhagic follicles, the time between ovulations lengthens.
Anovulatory follicles and extended periods between estrus make it difficult to predict when the mare will ovulate again. Without being able to pinpoint ovulation, successfully breeding a mare becomes challenging, especially when using advanced reproductive techniques, such as artificial insemination and embryo transfer.
Obesity has also been cited for poor oocyte quality and altered embryonic development. In a recent study, embryos were collected from broodmares kept in both moderate and excessive body condition.* The embryos were then transferred to recipient mares. Scientists found the embryos flushed from overweight mares were more likely to succumb to early embryonic death.
According to the same study, overweight broodmares may have one advantage over their slimmer peers. Researchers found they have an extended period of annual cyclicity, which is the length of time from first ovulation in spring to last ovulation in the autumn. Extended cyclicity allows for more breeding opportunities, which can be helpful in settling subfertile mares.
Despite this potential benefit, veterinarians and nutritionists recommend broodmares maintain a body condition score of 5 or 6 at all times, though occasional mares may fall outside of this range. “Regular assessment of the mare’s weight and body condition is an important aspect of nutritional management and allows for timely diet modifications,” advised Whitehouse.
In terms of specific recommendations, Whitehouse said:
- Avoid overfeeding broodmares during early gestation by feeding lower intake, nutrient-dense feeds such as a ration balancer to ensure optimal nutrient intakes without supplying unnecessary calories;
- Do not underfeed broodmares during the last trimester when fetal growth and development is greatest and in preparation for the high demands of lactation; and
- Consider supplementing broodmares with marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids to support reproductive health, particularly in problem or aged broodmares.
The leaves of an Indian desert plant might soon help relieve horses across the globe from the discomfort of proud flesh.
Indian scientists have reported, for the first time, that excessive granulation tissue, also known as proud flesh, essentially disappears when treated with an extract from a common desert plant. Resistant proud flesh—sometimes more than a year old—became undetectable within weeks of treatment with the newly developed desert cotton leaf extract, said Ramesh Kumar Dedar, DVM, PhD, at the Bikaner Rajasthan Veterinary Medicine and Equine Production Campus of the National Research Center on Equines (ICAR), in Hisar, Haryana, India.
Horses can develop proud flesh over wounds—particularly those on the lower limbs due to the high tissue tension and mobility in these areas. Proud flesh affects the wounds’ ability to contract properly and grow new layers of skin, Dedar said. The tumorlike growths—which, unlike many tumors, lack nerves—are not only unsightly but also appear to cause discomfort and restrict movement. The desert leaf extract’s potency against proud flesh might be related to coping mechanisms that help the plant survive in a harsh environment, said study co-author Naveen Kumar, DVM, PhD, of the ICAR’s Veterinary Microbiology Department.
Able to withstand extreme temperatures and drought, the bushy desert cotton plant (Aerva javanica) probably produces a high level of “plant hormones”—known as ecdysteroids and flavonoid kaempferols—when faced with environmental stress, Kumar said. Previous studies have suggested that ecdysteroids can kill insects and reduce intestinal worm burdens in humans and livestock and that kaempferols can suppress tumor growth.
“So we wanted to try this product as an option to relieve horses of proud flesh, which is sometimes associated with parasitic infections of habronema (fly) larvae,” Dedar said.
Despite the encouraging results, the product must undergo further testing to gain approval from veterinary authorities in different countries, said Dedar. Even so, he remains hopeful that his discovery could lead to a win-win solution for horses and local farmers alike.
“The (desert cotton) plant grows on desert land managed by poor farmers in (southern) India, and it’s mostly useless because their livestock don’t eat it,” said Dedar. “However, it may have real value for horses, and this could provide an effective and low-cost solution for horse owners worldwide while providing an income opportunity for these desert farmers.