A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Jun 27, 2010

A Dog Dyed Any Other Way Is Still A Dog

What is the obsession of decorating live animals about? Painting turtle shells, and dyeing Easter chicks (illegal in California) are practices that have fallen out of style and/or been outlawed as cruel and wrong. After many years of humane education and the evolution of a society more inclined towards the protection of animals, I fear we may lapse. China is featuring dogs fully dyed and painted to look like other animals, or to look like nothing else. In other words, for a few hundred dollars your dog can be a panda or a psychotic hallucination.  http://bit.ly/b2SbZJ  My fear is that the fad will catch on here with dire results. Uses of toxic dyes, untrained practitioners, and children "trying it at home", will, of course, result in pain, illness and blindness to pets. An ancillary consequence would be the devolution back to the idea that pets were things and at our disposal to paint, manipulate and harm as we so please. This would be a giant step backward in our collective sense of morality and ethics.

I am not a fan of excessive and constant regulation or of legislating behavior to our lowest outliers. I do not want to have to deal with this on any level because someone wants to have a unique "toy" i.e. a dog that looks like a giraffe.

So please - We said "yes" to China when they gave us melamine in pet food, "yes" to lead paint in  toys, and "yes" to cheap and often unsafe products. Let's say no to dyeing pets and dying pets. Instead, let us export our condemnation of this fad along with specialty pet clothing for those times a pet must stand out.

Jun 20, 2010

The Heartbreak of Heartworm Disease

Heartworm - a disease potentially fatal to dogs and cats - is now a local problem as more and more cases have been contracted in our area. It is a worm that embeds in the pet's heart or lungs and is spread by the Western Treehole Mosquito. Endemic to humid and tropical climates more hospitable to the breeding and thriving of mosquitoes, California, a desert, has been relatively free of this problem. Consequently, we do not consider Heartworm testing and prevention as part of our routine veterinary care for our pets. This has to change. Originally, hurricane Katrina was blamed for the local cases as many of those rescued pets had the disease or were carrying it. This is only partially true. When spcaLA accepted Katrina animals we knew to test and treat for it so as not to accidentally put an infected pet into the population. The better explanation for recent cases is simply, that, people travel with pets, import them, or buy them via the internet, to and from places where Heartworm resides, and bring the problem here.

Heartworm can afflict both dogs and cats and is fatal if not treated in time. Lethargy, weakness, respiratory difficulties, coughing, gagging, and vomiting are some of the typical symptoms. Testing,  preventative drugs, insect repellents, and common sense precautions can prevent the illness. Start by talking to your veterinarian about what is right for your pet. Then - keep your environment free of mosquitoes by being mindful of standing water, using repellents, and window screens.   As mosquitoes do come inside, indoor pets are also at risk!

Prevention and early detection are your best friends in keeping your friends for life healthy and safe.

Jun 13, 2010

The Gulf of Tears

The spill in the gulf is ripping my heart out. I stare for hours at the gusher video feeling alternately helpless and enraged. I watch as turtles, sharks, birds, marshlands, reptiles, fish, and mammals die every second.  I weep with the families of the 11 dead workers as I stare at that watery grave.

It feels as if the oil flood was avoidable had laws been followed and enforced. It feels as if things are disappearing in the dark of night like dolphins and business records. It feels as if energy is being spent posturing, laying blame, theatrical apologies and calculated rage. It feels like death by ensanguination.

Extinct species, dissolved coastlines and fragile wetlands don't return. There could be ramifications by way of pollution, chemical poisoning, dead ecosystems, and toxic food for decades to come. Of course, the politicians, CEOs, bureaucrats and the like will have moved on to other jobs as their tenure and brief era of responsibility will have passed. The story will become a footnote or game show question - and the ocean will continue to fight for its life unless we seize this opportunity to find alternative energies that will preserve our planet and protect its species- including us. Some politician suggested nuclear energy. Really?  Given the management fiasco we are witnessing now - what could go wrong with that?

P.S. spcaLA's elite disaster unit has been asked to stand by and be ready to respond if needed. Rest assured - we are and will.

Jun 6, 2010

Say no to a Great Dane and I don't mean Hamlet!

While "to be or not to be" ranks as a great philosophical question for the ages - in my world, it is always answered "to be" by unscrupulous breeders and puppy mills. These opportunists are already cranking out Great Dane puppies to answer the demand of those who must have their own Marmaduke. Like Collies,(Lassie) Dalmatians, (Pongo) Chihuahuas, (so many films), and Portuguese Water Dogs, (Bo, the first dog) the Great Dane breed is about to be exploited and likely decimated.

Great Danes, though wonderful, affectionate and loyal, have problems associated with the breed, such as hip dysplasia heart disease, tumors and digestive issues that must be carefully monitored by accountable breeding and attended to by conscientious pet owners.Those that simply breed to supply the demand of a fad exacerbate those weaknesses and bring additional recessive negative traits forward. The result is a slew of sick dogs, unhappy children and a surge in the number of dogs turned into animal shelters.

How about we just enjoy the movie and not create the demand in the first place by saying no to the impulse to have a family Marmaduke. It is much easier to explain to our children why we won't get the dog in the first place, than to explain why the dog we acquired died or had to be relinquished.

To be responsible or not to be responsible? That is the question.  What do you think!