A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Oct 28, 2011

$100,000 For A Cloned Dog?

A man in New Mexico paid $100,000 to clone Old Blue, his dying dog. He sent Blue's, DNA to a laboratory in South Korea while he was still alive, where it was stored until the request came to proceed with the cloning. Blue, the new puppy is a genetic replica of Old Blue and appears to be his carbon copy.

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This is not yet an exact science and not without a physical price paid by laboratory dogs as well. Eggs have to be extracted from a large number of dogs; cloned embryos must then be implanted in other dogs so that, maybe, a couple of pregnancies might "take". Additionally, the resulting dog may look very similar to the original dog but not have the behavior, personality, and essence  of the original. There are not enough cloned dogs in existence to determine whether there are any long term health or medical issues attendant to this process.

I certainly understand the attachment and love one feels towards a dog. Yet, when I think about the millions of dogs in this country killed for no other reason than insufficient time to wait for a home, or all the wonderful dogs that we do find in shelters, I just can't support cloning.  When I think about each time I thought my dog was the most unique and wonderful dog in the universe, to only feel that way again about another dog, it taught me to accept death as a way of life and celebrate the differences in each of our pets.

Finally, when I think of those willing to spend $100,000. or more on a cloned pet, I see people who really loved their pet and would ask them to, instead, adopt one from a shelter and donate the remaining funds to help other pets find health, happiness and a home.

Oct 24, 2011

Allow Dogs On Designated Beaches

UPDATE - Oct 25th - Santa Monica city council passed a resolution which directs staff to work with the state of California to establish, on a pilot basis, an off-leash area for dogs on the beach and down to the waterline. Monitoring for environmental effects will be part of the pilot program. Your spcaLA was asked to and will be involved!

spcaLA, a corporation serving California since 1877, is urging the City of Santa Monica to permit off-leash beach zones for dogs and their human companions.
courtesy spcaLA

The human animal bond is cherished, strong, and enhanced by the availability of activities that humans and their pets can do together. Besides mutual companionship there are other benefits to allowing dog friendly recreation areas.

The off-leash area serves a social center which brings together people with common interests who can exercise and play together with their dogs. The care and maintenance of these areas is critical to their continued enjoyment which increases the peer pressure to abide by the rules and promote responsible dog and human behavior.  Concerns about water pollution, diseases, excessive poop and overcrowding simply have not proven credible either pursuant to scientific studies or from studies of existing dog beaches.

In recognition of the fact that many treat their dog as part of the family, more and more hotels, restaurants, parks and amusement areas have made major strides in accommodating pets so scarce leisure time can be spent all together as a family. 

We ask the City of Santa Monica to do the same and designate a place where dogs and their human companions can play, rest, and responsibly enjoy the beach.

The issue will be heard Tues. Oct 25 at the Santa Monica City Council Meeting. Please urge the powers that be to designated a place for dogs and their human friends at our beach.  Thank you.

Mayor Richard Bloom    richard.bloom@smgov.net
Mayor Pro Tempore Gleam Davis     gleam.davis@smgov.net
Robert Holbrook  robert.holbrook@smgov.net
Kevin McKeown   kevin@mckeown.net
Pam O'Connor     pam.oconnor@smgov.net
Terry O'Day         terry.oday@smgov.net
Bobby Shriver      bobby.shriver@smgov.net

Oct 19, 2011

Loose Wild Animals Gunned Down in Ohio

Wild animals, including lions, tigers, bears, and wolves, were turned loose from a private collectors' property in Zanesville, Ohio. It is believed that the owner of the site, Terry Thompson, turned the animals loose before dying from a self-inflicted wound. Schools were closed, and the public was directed to stay inside as there were reports of wild animals running loose outside the property. Approximately 50 animals were believed to live at that site. 
Lion Shot in Ohio - Courtesy of Associated Press

Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz issued the order to shoot to kill the animals in the name of public safety. Most of the animals were killed pursuant to Lutz's directive while a few were still being sought.

According to Lutz, about 40 of the animals were killed while still inside the property. Lutz justified this by saying they were short on daylight, they had no sedatives and were concerned about safety. It is unclear why they could not, instead, shut the fence, secure the perimeter, gather experts, supplies and create a plan to contain the animals inside, alive, until daylight while focusing on capturing the animals outside the perimeter that could actually threaten the public. 

The real problem here is the ease with which permits for captive and exotic wildlife can be obtained. Whether one simply wants a pet primate or wishes to house lions for canned hunts, exhibitions or circuses, they need only pay a permit fee. Enforcement of permit requirements and compliance inspections are often infrequently conducted if at all. Whether a lion is kept as a pet or rented out for television commercials etc., he or she is still a dangerous wild animal living in close proximity to people, ostensibly for commercial entertainment. Veterinary care, food and security are expensive which can result in inhumane treatment, substandard husbandry and housing structures, and, in many cases, escape.

In this case, numerous complaints regarding the Thompson compound ranging from animal cruelty to loose animals were lodged with the authorities in Zanesville and, according to Lutz "has been a huge problem for us for a number of years". Gunning them down in the compound solved that problem.

In the end, the animal always suffers. Whether improperly cared for in captivity or killed by a panicked sheriff without a plan, the animal always loses. And in every case, a wild animal will behave true to his or her nature.

There must be an immediate halt to the issuing of such permits, a re-evaluation of the status of current permit holders, and an investigation of Lutzs' handling of this case.

Now there are even fewer Bengal tigers in our world, or as Lutz called him or her "this thing".

Article first published as Loose Wild Animals Gunned Down in Ohio on Technorati.

Oct 2, 2011

Landlords - Stop Gouging Pet Owners!

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When the going gets tough, the tough gouge the vulnerable. In this case, the vulnerable are pet owners seeking to rent or lease homes and apartments. The trend is to charge pet owners extra rent in addition to a non-refundable pet security deposit over and above a standard security deposit. People are put in the untenable position of either choosing between a home and a beloved family pet or paying substantially extra to have both. Thus, the landlord benefits from the "haves" who can afford the inflated rates and the "have nots" who will sacrifice other needs so as not to rip a pet from the arms of a crying child. 

At a time when unemployment is raging and homes are being foreclosed in record numbers, this trend is particularly unconscionable and the pain caused is particularly acute. It further victimizes those already suffering severe blows to their lifestyle, but it also contributes to more pets being turned into shelters at a time when shelters are also struggling with a decrease in funding. In California, so many animals were simply abandoned in foreclosed homes that a law had to be passed to instruct and mandate realtors to arrange for those animals to be rescued. 

Notwithstanding the fact that in some states, like California, a non-refundable deposit is actually illegal, and the amount of a legal deposit is limited to twice or thrice the amount of a month's rent, the homeless apartment seeker or lessee often lacks the time and wherewithal to litigate the issue either at the beginning or end of the rental or lease period.

Additionally, pet owners who are willing to add to a legal, refundable security deposit should damage, beyond reasonable wear and tear, occur as a result of a pet, are being told that it is not enough despite the fact that such is the stated purpose of such a deposit. Likewise, where the free market would support a legal, higher "pet rent", landlords are still requiring additional "pet security deposits". 
Squeezing both a rent surcharge and an extra deposit from a tenant is simply gouging as it holds the pet owner hostage until a ransom is paid.

There is no shortage of this type of opportunistic pricing that occurs during disasters, crises, or when a fellow human being is in a bind. During fires we see cheap motels asking $600 a night to shelter those whose homes were destroyed, and a radio battery or a bottle of water sold to the highest bidder. And, now, we see landlords doing the same to pet owners, as they have realized that to many, giving up a pet is tantamount to a disaster.

I would remind the landlords that karma can be a bitch - no pun is intended.

Article first published as Landlords are Gouging Pet Owners on Technorati