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Top 5 Dog Breeds That Live The Longest

Posted on: January 12, 2015
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Most dogs seem to generally share a common lifespan, bringing us roughly 10-13 of the best years we’ve ever had. But some breeds make the list for having an abnormally long life expectancy. In fact, there are records of dogs living well past 20-years-old. Although this list of the longest living dog breeds doesn’t contain the Australian Cattle Dog, the world record for the longest living dog is an ACD named Bluey. Bluey passed away in 1939 at the ripe age of 29-years-old! Pretty amazing when you think about it, and it makes us wish all of our dogs lived that long.

Curious to see what other breeds hold records?

#1 – Chihuahua

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Chihuahuas are one of the longest living breeds, and perhaps because they’re also one of the smallest. With an average lifespan of 15-20 years

#2 – Yorkshire Terrier

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Yorkies are one of the most popular breeds around, and lucky for their owners they live an average of 17-20 years!

#3 – Pomeranian

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These fluffy little dogs have an average life expectancy of 12-16 years.

#4 – Dachshund

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These lively characters are another long-living breed with a lifespan of 12-15 years. However, a Dachshund named Chanel lived to be 21-years-old!

#5 – Miniature Schnauzer

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This feisty breed has just as much energy and trainability as it’s larger counterpart. Miniature Schnauzers live an average of 12-15 years, giving you plenty of time to tackle the various dog sports they’re seen competing in!

Dogs help sniff out ovarian cancer

Posted on: August 9, 2013
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Researchers trying to develop a diagnostic tool for ovarian cancer are hoping dogs’ keen sense of smell will lead them down the right path.

An early detection device that combines old-fashioned olfactory skills, chemical analysis and modern technology could lead to better survival rates for the disease, which is particularly deadly because it’s often not caught until an advanced stage.

Using blood and tissue samples donated by patients, the University of Pennsylvania’s Working Dog Center has started training three canines to sniff out the signature compound that indicates the presence of ovarian cancer.

If the animals can isolate the chemical marker, scientists at the nearby Monell Chemical Senses Center will work to create an electronic sensor to identify the same odorant.

“Because if the dogs can do it, then the question is, Can our analytical instrumentation do it? We think we can,” Monell organic chemist George Preti said.

More than 20,000 Americans are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. When it’s caught early, women have a five-year survival rate of 90 percent. But because of its generic symptoms — weight gain, bloating or constipation — the disease is more often caught late.

About 70 percent of cases are identified after the cancer has spread, said Dr. Janos Tanyi, a Penn oncologist whose patients are participating in the study. For those women, the five-year survival rate is less than 40 percent, he said.

The Philadelphia researchers will build on previous work showing that early stage ovarian cancer alters odorous compounds in the body. Another study in Britain in 2004 demonstrated that dogs could identify bladder cancer patients by smelling their urine.

7587dd0eadd1f51a390f6a706700e649Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, said while the canine concept has shown promise for several years, there haven’t been any major breakthroughs yet.

“We’re still looking to see whether something could be developed and be useful in routine patient care, and we’re not there yet,” said Lichtenfeld, who is not involved in the study.

Cindy Otto, director of the Working Dog Center, hopes to change that with the help of McBaine, a springer spaniel; Ohlin, a Labrador retriever; and Tsunami, a German shepherd.

“If we can figure out what those chemicals are, what that fingerprint of ovarian cancer is that’s in the blood — or maybe even eventually in the urine or something like that — then we can have that automated test that will be less expensive and very efficient at screening those samples,” Otto said.

Ovarian cancer patient Marta Drexler, 57, is heartened by the effort. Drexler describes herself as a textbook case of the disease not being detected early enough because she had no symptoms.

After two surgeries and two rounds of chemotherapy, Drexler said she didn’t hesitate when Dr. Tanyi, her physician, asked her to donate tissue to the study. Last week, she visited the Working Dog Center to meet the animals whose work might one day lead to fewer battles like hers.

“To have the opportunity to help with this dreadful disease, to do something about it, even if it’s just a tiny little bit of something, it’s a big thing,” said Drexler, of nearby Lansdowne.

The ovarian cancer detection study is being funded by an $80,000 grant from the Madison, N.J.-based Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation.

Via: Yahoo News

Dolphins can problem solve like humans

Posted on: August 9, 2013
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03c2fb30ae33f71a390f6a706700290cA dog may be man’s best friend, but dolphins can imitate human actions, and even how they solve problems.

When a dolphin has one of its senses blocked, it can use other senses to mimic a human’s movements, according to a recent study.

A bottlenose dolphin named Tanner was blindfolded and instructed to mimic the actions of a trainer in the water with him. When Tanner wasn’t able to use sight to figure out the movement, he switched to another technique: emit sounds, listen to the echo and interpret the resulting sound waves. This ability — known as echolocation — allowed Tanner to replicate movements by the trainer, such as spinning in the water.

The study, conducted at the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys, expands on previous studies looking at how dolphins are able to imitate other dolphins while blindfolded. To see if a change in sound would affect their imitation, researchers used humans instead of dolphins to make the movements in the water.

Dr. Kelly Jaakkola, research director of the nonprofit marine mammal center, said researchers were surprised by Tanner’s use of echolocation.

“He outsmarted us,” Jaakola said.

She explained that dolphins must decide when to use echolocation, “and that’s problem-solving.”

Janet Mann, a professor of biology and psychology at Georgetown University who was not involved in the study, said the results were not surprising in that they were consistent with how dolphins act in the ocean.

“Of course they would use their echolocation to get more information. Dolphins have to solve problems all the time in the wild,” she said, adding that dolphins use echolocation more at night as well.

During a recent demonstration in an enclosed lagoon in Grassy Key, a Florida island where the Dolphin Research Center is located, trainer Emily Guarino got Tanner’s attention by asking, “Are you ready to play? Let’s play the research game.”

Guarino indicated to Tanner that he was supposed to imitate, and placed latex eyecups over each eye. Another trainer in the water was then shown a clipboard with a written behavior to perform. Wordlessly, that trainer began to spin in the water with his arms wrapped across his shoulders. Tanner then did a similar spin.

For the study, published online in the scientific journal Animal Cognition, researchers tested a dozen behaviors that Tanner already knew, including bobbing up and down, blowing bubbles underwater, swimming like a shark with the tail — or feet — moving side to side and floating on top of the water. Each behavior was tested twice at random, with and without the blindfold, as researchers recorded echolocation sounds underwater.

Tanner was just as accurate at imitating a human — blindfolded or not — as he was at imitating another dolphin, researchers determined. The study included six sessions spread over a nine-day period.

That kind of flexibility with imitation is more commonly associated with humans. But humans and dolphins are separated by about 90 million years of evolution, and their imitation skills likely evolved separately. So exploring imitation in those species “has the potential to give us clues into why imitation ever evolved at all,” Jaakala said.

Further testing is needed to see if other dolphins can imitate as well as Tanner.

“But we have no reason to believe that this dolphin was just an Einstein dolphin that did this,” she said.

Via: Yahoo News

Laboratory Beagles Overcome Blizzard on Road to Freedom

Posted on: March 4, 2013
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beagles1It’s freedom day for 10 laboratory beagles.

The land of the free is Valley Village where the dogs put their paws on the ground for the first time ever Wednesday. Remarkable, in and of itself, but their journey to the Southland is even more so.

A laboratory employee in the Midwest heard about the Beagle Freedom Project, a small group of people in Southern California with a very large reach. The 2-year-old project is dedicated to taking in beagles from labs around the world.

“In the United States alone, 75,000 beagles are test subjects for everything from household products to medicine every single year,” founder Shannon Keith said.

The dogs’ mortality rate is 100 percent, unless somehow, someway they’re freed. With Wednesday’s rescue, the project has taken in 106 dogs so far, admittedly a tiny amount of the beagles tested upon.

But Keith considers every dog rescued a victory.

“Not only do we get to save these individual lives and give these dogs a chance at being a real dog, but we also get to educate the world through their rescue,” she said.

These latest dogs are the project’s 11th rescue. They range between 5 and 9 years old. In the world of laboratory beagles, Keith said they’re amazing since most die at a much younger age. The 10 beagles that made it to Southern California Wednesday are apparently very good at beating the odds.

Not only did they survive for years in cages as test subjects, the lab doing those tests decided to release them – incredible news for the Beagle Freedom Project.

There was just one problem. How to get them here?

The lab is 1,500 miles away, the farthest rescue ever for the project in the United States. But when freedom calls, you don’t hesitate.

So Keith hired a professional transportation company (which ended up being one person in a large van). After loading the 10 beagles into crates, she drove head-on into the blizzard that has paralyzed the Midwest for days with heavy, wet snow. It was a treacherous journey made even more so when her defroster gave out. She actually had to use a handheld heater to defrost her windows.

Those dogs left the frozen Midwest on Monday. On Wednesday, they stepped out of their crates and into a sun-filled 72 degree afternoon in Southern California.

“We have a challenge ahead of us. These dogs have lived their whole lives in cages. They’ve never been on a leash. They’ve never had a toy, really no interaction,” Keith said. “We’re looking for fosters who can help us bring these boys out of their shells.”

So what happened to these dogs all those years in the laboratory?

“We’ve been told they’ve undergone years of oral gavage – tubes put down their throat and into their lower esophagus or stomach; but, otherwise we don’t know what sort of experiments they were used for,” Keith said.

Don’t ask for the laboratory’s name. The only way the project is able to attain the few dogs it does get is by promising anonymity to the labs.

Next up for these now former laboratory beagles? The veterinarian, then the slow integration into the big, big world.

Foster families will have the job of transforming these laboratory test subjects into loving animals ready for adoption and their brand new life as man’s best friend.

For details on how to adopt or foster rescued beagles, click here.

Via: NBC

The Sea Shepherd returned once more into the southern ocean

Posted on: March 4, 2013
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news-130304-121129-A-EM-03-Steve-Irwin-03-300x200The Japanese whaling fleet are now acting like a serial killer in a bad horror movie – when the heroes turn their back and the credits are about to roll, the killer rises up again, this time with harpoon in hand to kill another defenseless whale.

The retreating Japanese fleet has turned around and are heading South again.

When the Sea Shepherd ships broke away from the northbound whaling fleet, they did so in order to conserve fuel for the long trip back to Melbourne. But before parting ways, Sea Shepherd crew members placed a tracking device on the Sun Laurel to monitor their progress northward.

The Sun Laurel has now turned around and is heading south again and this can only indicate that the Nisshin Maru has also turned and is heading south. Although there are very few days left in the whaling season, there is still the possibility that the Nisshin Maru can refuel and return for a few days of whaling; although they will not be able to kill many whales, the death of even a few is of grave concern to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Therefore the Sam Simon will transfer fuel to the Steve Irwin and the Sam Simon will head to Fremantle instead of Melbourne to refuel.

The Bob Barker was intending to transfer fuel to the Steve Irwin but they will now retain that fuel to resume the pursuit of the whaling fleet.

After refueling from the Sam Simon tomorrow, the Steve Irwin will follow the Bob Barker back to the Southern Ocean to intercept the whaling fleet.

The Bob Barker has changed course and is once again in pursuit of the whaling fleet.

Operation Zero Tolerance has been resurrected. It looks like another ten days of high seas pursuits in an ocean becoming colder and more hostile each day.

“It appears that the Japanese whalers have been ordered south to kill a few token whales so as to not be totally humiliated this season,” said Bob Barker Captain Peter Hammarstedt, “so it is once more back into the breach. We know where the Sun Laurel is and we intend to intercept them once again.”

The Steve Irwin will take fuel from the Sam Simon at Heard Island before returning to the Southern Ocean to assist the Bob Barker.

“It is still three days back to the whaling grounds with no more than a week left to kill whales and the weather is getting progressively worse,” said Captain Siddharth Chakravarty of the Steve Irwin.

“It is not economically practical for the whalers to return at this late date,” said Sea Shepherd Australia director Jeff Hansen. “But this is no longer about whaling. It is about the Japanese government not appearing weak. They have been humiliated by Sea Shepherd. They are returning to the Southern Ocean so they can claim they were not chased out by Sea Shepherd, even though it is very clear they were. It looks like we will have to chase them out of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary once more”

With the weather deteriorating, the seas becoming rougher, with the plankton blooms dispersed so also have the whales become dispersed, the conditions are no longer easy for whaling operations.

The Bob Barker is not far from the returning whaling fleet.

Via: Sea Shepherd Australia

Story of Japanese fisherman after renouncing to his vocation

Posted on: February 25, 2013
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ishiiOver the past couple months hundreds of conscious and concerned citizens have reached out to me since I began writing some of the gruesome details of the ‘War Against Nature.’ I was particularly touched by the request of a young lady from Temecula, Calif., who asked me to write about a Taiji dolphin hunter named Izumi Ishii. One morning he woke-up, had an epiphany and renounced his vocation.

Ishii realized that dolphins are the creatures that humans would have been had we not left the water. Here’s why:

Like humans, dolphins are exceptionally tactile creatures and their skin conveys different levels of information or signals to each animal. Excellent sight enables them to see in the dark, while their range of hearing is 10 times that of humans. They keep the kids in line: Adult dolphins disciplinetheir misbehaved juveniles by driving them to the ocean floor and momentarily holding them there.

Dolphins are individualists. Each animal has its own signature whistle, which is used to keep in contact with its peers.

Dolphins constantly send out noises called ‘click trains‘ which sound, to the untrained ear, like old creaky doors. These complex series of sounds are the most sophisticated, advanced forms of sonar, called echolocation, and are unrivalled by anything on the planet–man-made or otherwise. As the sonar waves move through water they encounter objects, bouncing back shapes and contents to be deciphered by the dolphin’s large brain (which is bigger than a human’s). Sometimes the sonar is so potent it actually stuns its prey.

Dolphins, it turns out, are a well-rested bunch, sleeping as much as one third of each day. But how do they do this when their predators are always hunting them? The answer is teamwork. Dolphins usually rest in groups that bunch tightly together. One lazy eye per dolphin remains open and, although asleep, their slow methodical echolocatory clicks scan their environment for sharks and other predators. The group essentially forms a sensory integration system of relying on each others’ sonar system to detect any trouble while they rest.

Izumi Ishii was born into a dolphin hunting family in Futo, Japan. Today he’s a self-proclaimed advocate for stopping the dolphin hunt and live trade of dolphins and whales to dolphinariums.

Hardy Jones and Ted Danson co-founded the ocean conservation institute Blue Voice and Jones produced an emotive documentary called ‘When Dolphins Cry.’ It was based upon Ishii’s experience recalling how when he slit the throats of dolphins their eyes widened, tears appeared as they screamed to death.

For turning over a new leaf, speaking out against the brutality and senseless slaughter ofcontaminated dolphins – he’s been ostracized by his community and all Japanese fisherman.

Today, instead of hunting dolphins he earns his modest and peaceful living by providing a splendid eco-tourist, dolphin-watching service on his boat ‘Bright Sea.’ Ishii writes and speaks on the atrocities taking place against dolphins still today in Japan even after the Academy-award winning documentary The Cove exposed the Taiji dolphin slaughter.

Ishii believes like all animal activists, including myself, that citizen’s from around the globe must continue to apply pressure (by emailing the Japan Tourism Agency and telling then that you will not visit Japan because they are destroying dolphins and whales).

Japan will respond to pressure exerted from citizens and their respective countries – and they will be shamed into change or ‘Gaiastu‘ because that’s what works in their nation. We are all required to come together and continue in unison to call for a worldwide ban on dolphin and whale hunting, and live trade of these exquisite aquatic mammals. Refuse to purchase tickets to anydolphinariums or parks with captured marine mammals.

On Friday February 22 (2013) in Los Angeles hundreds of people protested outside the Consulate-General of Japan: The crowd chanted ‘Stop the Whale Hunt in the Great Southern Ocean Sanctuary;Stop the Dolphin Hunt in Taiji and Stop the Trade of Live Dolphins and Whales for Dolphinariums.’ My friend, recording artist, actor, producer and tireless animal rights activist Dyan Kane posted her feelings on Facebook: ‘The demonstration was powerful and very moving!’

All of us in our respective communities and countries are required to stand up for Nature, sign online petitions, send protest emails and organize and attend demonstrations. All critters, like the100,000 mega-pod of bottlenose dolphins recently spotted off San Diego are entitled to their habitat and the right to life on our blue planet.

Lastly, please support the conservation work of Blue VoiceSave Japan DolphinsOcean Preservation SocietyAnimals Australia and Operation Infinite Patience – Sea Shepherd.

Via: Huffington Post

Activists Target Tokyo 2020 Olympic Bid and IOC to End Dolphin Hunts

Posted on: February 25, 2013
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Edinburgh_small_297984831Just a week ahead of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission (EC) visit to Tokyo to assess the city’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games, animal activists gathered in 42 cities across 21 nations Friday in an international effort to end the annual dolphin drive hunts in Japan.

Demonstrators from Sydney to Seattle, Durban to Dusseldorf, across six continents are urging the IOC to deny Tokyo the opportunity to host the Olympic Games until the dolphin hunt is stopped and the Japanese government addresses international concerns about the issue.  Receiving widespread media attention, the dolphin hunt issue became mainstream after the movie “The Cove”, a documentary about the Taiji hunt, won a 2010 Academy Award.

Shona Lewendon, a working single-mother from Glasgow, Scotland launched a petition in January asking for signatures of people who want the IOC to deny Tokyo’s bid for the Olympics until the Taiji Dolphin Drive Hunt is abolished.  It now has over 270,000 names.

“It was a light bulb moment,” Lewendon told GamesBids.com as she described hearing about Tokyo’s bid book handover in Lausanne on January 7th, around the same time she saw a documentary about the hunt.  She decided there was a window-of-opportunity to act by leveraging Tokyo’s bid and the IOC and pressuring the Japanese government to take action.

Along with the petition, she put together an international team to help organize the simultaneous peaceful demonstrations worldwide.

She also sent letters to the IOC including President Jacques Rogge and head of the 2020 Evaluation Commission Sir Craig Reedie, as well as various National Olympic Committees.

Outlining her concerns in the letter, Lewendon says that by awarding the Games to Tokyo, the IOC would be ignoring its own charter.

“It … does not comply with the Olympic charter’s mandate of the host country having a responsible concern for environmental issues,” she wrote.

“The methods used to hunt the dolphins are cruel and inhumane, as is the method of slaughter.”

In a short response to Lewendon’s letter, Reedie said “The IOC is aware of the issue you have raised.”

“The visits of the Evaluation Commission to candidate cities is co-ordinated with each city and is an intense programme of presentations and site visits. If a meeting with the Commission is requested this should be done with the co-operation of the Tokyo Candidature Committee and considered in light of the very busy programme.”

Lewendon says efforts are being made to organize a meeting with the IOC in Tokyo during the EC visit, which is scheduled between March 4 and 7.  The IOC typically does make time to meet with organized opposition groups when reasonable requests are made.

Lewendon hopes to attend the meeting make her case.

“I want to explain to them in basic terms that this doesn’t make sense,” she said.

“They cannot be considered to host an international Games, they can’t be the world stage while they continue to do these hunts which are internationally condemned.”

Activists demonstrated at Japanese embassies and consulates, and one group made their point at Seaworld in Orlando, Florida.  Among the cities hosting gatherings were London and Rio de Janeiro – 2012 and 2016 Olympic hosts respectively, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Sydney, The Hague, Edinburgh, Mexico City and Toronto.

Demonstrators in Rome were reportedly invited into the Japanese Embassy to plead their case and leave a letter to be sent to Tokyo.  In Ottawa, activists said the Ambassador exited the consulate from the back entrance – avoiding any confrontation.

The Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee had no comment on the issue.

In Tokyo’s bid book, a response to an IOC question explains that there is no “major movement” against the bid.  However, the bid book was published prior to the organization of Lewendon’s cause.

In July, the IOC will publish an evaluation report outlining the pros and cons of Tokyo’s bid.  That document, along with a final presentation will be used by IOC members in September to decide whether to elect Tokyo, or one of the city’s two rivals – Istanbul or Madrid – to host the 2020 Games.

Activists are already planning further demonstrations on June 29th, just ahead of important presentations by Tokyo 2020 to the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Via: Gamesbid.com

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the dogs

Posted on: February 20, 2013
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animalcontrolIn a case coming from Liberty County, Florida the standards imposed on drug-sniffing dogs to permit a constitutional search of a vehicle was brought into question. The Supreme Court unanimously threw out the strict standards imposed by the Florida court and ruled the dog in question’s sniff as “up to snuff.”

The case, Florida v. Harris, involved police dog Aldo. When Officer William Wheetley stopped Clayton Harris because of an expired license plate Harris acted very nervous and refused Wheetley’s request to search his truck. When Aldo was brought out the dog alerted to the smell of something. Wheetley used this alert as probable cause to search Harris’ vehicle. The search led to the discovery of the ingredients used for making methamphetamine.  Aldo had not been trained to detect these.

The Florida Supreme Court has reversed Harris’ conviction finding the search to be unconstitutional. The cited evidence of dogs often making mistakes and being influenced by their handlers and questioned Aldo’s reliability. The Florida Supreme Court said the state must introduce the dog’s training and certification records, field performance records, information on the handler’s training and any other objective evidence known to the officer about the dog’s reliability.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Florida Supreme Court had gone too far with its checklist requirements to prove Aldo’s reliability. Dog-sniff evidence needs to be treated like any other inquiry into probably cause. “The question – similar to every inquiry into probable cause – is whether all the facts surrounding a dog’s alert, viewed through the lens of common sense, would make a reasonably prudent person think that a search would reveal contraband or evidence of a crime,” said Justice Elena Kagan. Under this test Aldo’s search was constitutional.

The Supreme Court will again rule on a drug-sniffing dog from Florida in Florida v. Jardines, this time involving a dog named Franky. In Franky’s case officers acting on an unverified tip brought Franky to a private resident. Once there Franky alerted for contraband. The Florida court had also ruled this search as unconstitutional. This decision has a more likely chance to stand since the court traditionally gives greater protection to privacy rights at home. At oral arguments in October for the case there was considerable more debate between the justices than in Florida v. Harris. The Supreme Court may rule on this case as early as Wednesday.

Global Taiji Action Day for Dolphins

Posted on: February 15, 2013
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imagesOn February 22nd 2013, protesters will be outside Embassies & Consulates of Japan on simultaneous protests at 37+ venues globally around the world involving thousands of people, in major cities in Canada, North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Africa, UK, Ireland.

The protests directly relate to the cruel and unsustainable annual dolphin hunt that occurs in Japanese waters, most notoriously in the town of Taiji, Wakayama prefecture. A permit is issued by the government to hunt and capture over 2,000 dolphins of mixed species in this town alone. The methods used to hunt the dolphins are cruel and inhumane, as is the method of slaughter. The vast majority of these animals traditionally are processed as meat for human consumption, even though it has proven to be toxic with dangerous levels of Mercury. Some of these dolphins are bought and shipped live around the world, mostly within Asia for the marine mammal entertainment park industry for large sums of money. Many alternatives and offers of help for Taiji have been put forward including tourism and dolphin watching.

This practice does not have a place in the modern world and is both barbaric and unnecessary. It does not agree with the Olympic charter of having a responsible concern for environmental issues. It is strongly believed that this globally condemned practice has no place in a host nation providing a world stage to the Olympic Games. The Japanese claim that this practice is ‘culture’, yet have gone on record at the International Whaling Commission as saying these animals are a direct threat to commercial fisheries as they are consuming too many fish. When did culture include the supply of the captive trade? 

In the spirit of the Olympic Charter which states in the IOC’s Role & Responsibility: #13 ‘to encourage and support a responsible concern for environmental issues’  the IOC can ignore this issue and the global protest is evidence of the fact that the world is watching. This protest is not an attack on Japanese citizens or worthwhile positive Japanese culture. The only hope is to see the authorities taking a more responsible approach to the conservation of these species, if Japan is to be considered for a Host Nation status.

Hopefully, during the IOC evaluation commission’s visit to Tokyo on March 4th the IOC will challenge Japan on the issue of the dolphin hunts and protesters respectfully request that the IOC DOES NOT consider Tokyo as a host city unless the Japanese Government makes the practice of hunting and killing dolphins illegal permanently. Should Japan be awarded the 2020 Olympic Games then the slaughter will continue until the migrating dolphins have been exterminated.

If you are interested and would like to unite to this cause you can write to us and we will send you more information on participating cities. 

February is National Responsible Pet Owners Month

Posted on: February 13, 2013
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images (1)During this month everyone’s mission should be to decrease the number of homeless and euthanized pets in the United States. Approximately 3.7 million animals are euthanized each year due to overcrowding and poorly-funded shelters. Therefore, spaying and neutering is the best way to prevent this.

Dr. Pol will be holding a Twitter contest beginning on Valentine’s Day and ending on February 27th 2013, which marks National Spay Day, to promote and encourage responsible pet ownership techniques. The winner will win a care package of animal friendly swag and Givebones will make a donation on behalf of the winner to The Humane Animal Treatment Society (HATS).

Join in and show your support!

Younger generations of Japanese are speaking out against whaling

Posted on: February 13, 2013
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images Recently, a newly formed Japanese grassroots group marched in protest against its country’s whaling policies. It was the first open resistance from within Japan itself. Digital Journal spoke with Action for Marine Mammals’ (AMM) leader, Satoshi Komiyama.

Each year the Japanese government authorizes the killing and capture of thousands of whales and dolphins — either for meat or to sell animals to the captive marine industry. Yet so far, resistance to the annual whaling and dolphin drives in Taiji, Japan, has primarily been an external affair.

For various reasons, few Japanese citizens ever speak out against the hunts and many remain oblivious to their nature. In a country that encourages conformity, being outspoken or questioning the “norm”, is strongly frowned upon.

But this all changed last November 24, when Japan’s first open opposition group, ‘Action for Marine Mammals’, protested against the country’s whaling practices at the busy Shibuya Station intersection in downtown Tokyo.

The march was both coordinated and peaceful until a group of around 30 Nationalists appeared at the demonstration to protest the protesters. Seeking to impose their own views, Nationalists attempted to disrupt the march by screaming ”Go Home!”, and even in some cases, spitting on the participants rallying for the dolphins and whales.

Despite the animosity posed, Tokyo police managed to maintain order and with dignified restraint, the pro-dolphin and whale march continued unabated. It was heralded a tremendous success by the international activist community and was recognized as a welcome first step in tackling small and large whaling from within Japan.

Digital Journal recently caught up with the leader of AMM, Satoshi Komiyama, to ask about future plans for the group. The conversation that followed was kindly translated by Toshiaki Morioka, the AMM’s Sub leader and public relations section chief.

So how was the group formed, when it was formed and who are the main people who oversee the group and its activities?

SK: ‘Action for Marine Mammals’ (AMM) is created by a grassroots movement. The leader is myself, and the sub leader is Toshiaki Morioka. We have several core members.

Was the group involved in an anti-fur rally first? Did you receive more resistance for the anti-whaling march than the anti-fur march?

SK: AMM did not organize “No Fur” demonstrations, but many members are also animal rights activists who are active and often participate in the “No Fur” demonstrations. By the way, No Fur demonstrations are not rare in Japan. But we, AMM, gather to demonstrate against dolphin and whale hunting. Both No Fur demonstrations and the Anti Dolphin and Whale Hunting demonstration received some responses.

I understand the Nationalist group that attempted to disrupt the anti-whaling march spat at your group?

SK: Yes, as you asked, some participants spat on pro-dolphin protesters.

However, it was the first demonstration for the anti-dolphin and whale hunting, so we do not have any past examples to compare. We just hope that we will not face this kind of disrespect in the future.

What is next for the group moving forward, and what do you hope to achieve in the future?

SK: AMM will proceed to protect marine mammals by protesting or demonstrating at the appropriate places, to the appropriate people, and work to protect marine mammals. We will use the Internet, flyers, brochures, etc., to provide the right information about marine mammals including their behaviors and their current environment.

We will try to protect marine mammals by using any other effective means. We always seek the best possible ways to protect them. We will do all of the above and try to improve marine mammal life and fight against the deprivations of their quality of lives.

Up to now, there have been many discussions about the pros and cons of dolphin and whale issues in Japan. However, they were not done by the majority of Japanese, but done by a rather smaller number of people who have an interest in the dolphin and whale issue. And even during these discussions, the number of dolphins and whales keep being killed. Arguments and discussions do not save dolphins and whales. Now, we think ACTION is important, not discussion! We have not much time left. We have to hurry before whales and dolphins (and other marine mammals) go into extinction!

Many Japanese do not have accurate information about dolphins and whales. Some think dolphins are fish, or some think dolphins become whales as they grow up. There are many Japanese who are not aware of the fact that dolphins are eaten in some areas.

If you cannot believe this, please ask the following questions to a Japanese person on the street. What is the biggest fish on this planet? The expected answer would be a “whale”. When did you eat whale or dolphin meat last time? “Several years ago” or “Never”. Have you eaten whale or dolphin meat? The expected answer from many young people is “No”.

Believe it or not, you will hear those answers above. This is the current Japanese awareness. Therefore, we would like to send “accurate” information about dolphins and whales.

What important facts would your group like Westerners and Japanese people to know?

SK: Many Japanese do not agree with dolphin and whale hunting, nor ‘research’ whaling. We would like to tell this fact to the world. Also, to Japanese, we would like to give correct information about dolphin and whale behavior, their surrounding environments and circumstances, such as dolphin hunting, research whaling, and the current situation of aquariums and delphiniums.

How difficult is it for your group to oppose something within your own culture?

SK: When we think deeply about dolphin and whale hunting done by Japan, the main cause seems to be from handful of fishermen or hunters, but really the fundamental causes are ignorance and indifference of Japanese citizens and the Japanese government.

Regarding the ignorance and indifference of Japanese citizens, we can see the bright side when we hear peoples’ reactions to dolphin hunting in Japan. Many peoples’ reactions are “unbelievable … unforgivable … so cruel … wasting of our tax money”, etc., we take this as a huge potential for mind shift of Japanese people.

Our toughest issue is how to take action or protest to Japanese government effectively.

Have there been any difficulties since the demonstration?

SK: At this moment I can say that we are a newborn group and there are so many things that we need to learn. First, we should learn about these issues as much as possible, as fast as possible. Later we will start working out more concrete problems and cultural challenge. This is all I can tell you now.

Is there anything else that you would like us to know?

SK: I was born in 1980 and have never eaten whale/dolphin meat. I have never seen any at the dinner table at my house nor at school lunch. This is true for the majority of my generation. Based on this fact, we do not understand why so many dolphins and whales keep on being killed every year. Japan has so many stocks of whale meat.

We are in an age of plenty now. Not only animal activists, but also all the Japanese should think about the meaning of hunting wild animals. Japan is a nation of dolphin hunting and whale research with government permission.

Therefore, we need to start a Japanese movement.

Many foreign groups come to Japan and are active in protecting dolphins. However, since they are not permanent residents of Japan, I assume that there are various limitations and difficulties for their activities in Japan.

However, AMM consists of Japanese people, therefore, we have the potential to work on these issues where foreign activists may find it difficult. Also we are Japanese communicating in the Japanese language therefore we expect to receive different responses. We will create a new movement for the dolphin and whale issue in Japan.

Via: Digital Journal

Disabled military veteran fights to keep his service dog alive

Posted on: February 11, 2013
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images (1)If your dog bites someone, what do you do? Put them down immediately or fight for their life? What if you knew your beloved pup, a service dog no less, was being beaten when he turned the teeth on his attacker?

Iraqi war veteran Jeremy Aguilar claims that’s why he’s fighting to keep his 4-year-old dog, Dutch, from court-ordered euthanasia. According to Dog Heirs and a host of other animal sites, Dutch has been accused of biting a woman who admitted to animal control officers that she was beating him at the time of the alleged attack. But his owners say that hasn’t swayed a judge who says the registered service dog and certified AKC Canine Good Citizen needs to be put down.

It’s a tough call. As a dog owner, the last thing I want in my house is a vicious dog. Our pets are part of our family and we shouldn’t be scared of members of our family. Especially not when you have kids.

The dog can attack my daughter’s toys if she leaves them out, but if he comes anywhere near my daughter, you know which one is gone!

Then again, it’s hard not to be moved by the Aguilar story — especially not when you look at pictures of his little boy lying on the dog. He hardly looks vicious and a dog shouldn’t be beaten. Period!

Aguilar says he is putting up the fight of his life to keep Dutch alive. And that’s saying something. After all, the retired Army veteran fought in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and his Oklahoma National Guard unit was among the first to respond to Hurricane Katrina. He knows from tough battles, and he’s going at this one fully armed.

There’s already a Save Dutch petition online, and a Save Dutch Facebook page. Aguilar says he’ll even put Dutch through a special rehabilitation program to satisfy the judge that he’s not a danger.

So how about you? What would you do in their situation? Would you fight to save your dog or would you agree to have them put down?

Via: The Stir

Dog missing for 10 months is reunited with family

Posted on: February 11, 2013
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bonzhomeA dog that has been missing for 10 months has now been reunited with his Colorado Springs family. The twist is how the dog was found.

BonZ, an adorable little Pomeranian, is happy to be home again after he was lost for a long time.

“He really hasn’t left my side too much, he’s kind of clinging,” said Jill Bass, BonZ’s owner.

BonZ has been missing since last April. Jill Bass and her family did everything they could to find him, even posting a Craigslist ad.

“Sometimes I would just sit in my car and start crying,” said Bass.

Then just a few days ago, BonZ was brought into the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region as a stray dog.

One of their employees from customer service, Melinda Lawson, recognized the dog from his picture on the Craigslist ad.

That’s when the Lost and Found Coordinator, Tamara Egley, got to work and tracked down the family.

“It’s awesome for us, it reminds us why we are here. We worry about these dogs, we know they’re missing for long periods of time, and it just brings us a lot of joy to reunited these animals and see how happy the animals are and the owners are,” said Egley.

“I couldn’t even believe it really. But at the same time somewhere inside we knew he was gonna come back,” said Bass. “It’s just such a blessing to have him home.”

Jill and her family adopted BonZ a few years ago from a puppy mill. They adopted him through the National Mill Dog Rescue Association.

So in a way, their faithful family pet has now been rescued twice.

Bass can’t thank everyone at the Humane Society enough, and all the people who helped them along the way to bring their BonZ home.

“Just that a little 10 pound dog can bring so much happiness, and togetherness, and just human kindness,” said Bass.

The humane society said they quickly found the dog’s owner thanks to a lost report the family filled out with them, and the dog’s microchip. They encourage all owners to take the same steps.

Via: kktv

Dog breed popularity driven by lifestyle and pop culture

Posted on: February 11, 2013
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41009-falcon-0021Help wanted: One trained, easygoing, low-maintenance dog that will work for next to nothing. It was the classified ad that Matthew VanFossan wrote in his head after going blind.

His Labrador retriever, Achilles, “will guide me across busy streets for nothing more than a pat on the head or ‘Good boy,’” said the 31-year-old writer-counselor from Los Angeles. “He loves every bit of attention, but he can also go without it. He’ll let out a low groan if he’s getting too bored.”

The breed’s friendliness, intelligence and love of physical activity helped make it the most popular dog in America for the last two decades, according to American Kennel Club data released last week. Labrador retrievers are widely used as search and rescue, guide, therapy and service dogs, and they’re also perfect for active, outdoors-loving families with children, said club spokeswoman Lisa Peterson.

Labrador retrievers (22 years), cocker spaniels (23) and poodles (22) have been the most popular purebred dog breeds in the United States for a total of 67 of the 128 years the AKC has been counting. The data from the AKC, the country’s only nonprofit dog registry, comes from paid registrations by breeders and owners of purebred dogs, and makes the dog eligible for AKC events such as dog shows. More than 40 million purebred dogs have been registered since 1884, Peterson said.

Some critics, like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States, argue that owners mistake club registration as a sign of responsible breeding. “Registry with the AKC simply indicates that a dog had two parents of the same breed,” said Cori Menkin, senior director of ASPCA’s Puppy Mills Campaign. Menkin added that breed popularity can often yield breeders who are trying to meet public demand and don’t care about inbreeding or humane conditions.

The AKC acknowledged that registration does not guarantee the quality or health of a dog but condemned irresponsible breeders.

Factors, including Hollywood, pop culture and the economy, help drive changes in breed popularity. For instance, the yellow Lab featured in the bestselling memoir and the subsequent movie “Marley & Me” help the breed’s popularity skyrocket, Peterson said.

Likewise, the popularity of other breeds has soared thanks to the beagle Snoopy in Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comics, “Lassie” for collies, and cocker spaniels from “Lady and the Tramp.” Snoopy has been one of the biggest influences, Peterson said, and is the only non-dog to be issued an AKC registration certificate.

But “the No. 1 thing that drives changes in dog popularity is people’s lifestyles,” Peterson said. In New York City last year, larger breeds such as the Labrador retriever and German shepherd jumped over the smaller Yorkshire terrier. Peterson attributed to the economic recovery, saying “people are going back to larger dogs.”

The short-haired dogs are easier to groom, easier to walk and to exercise than the smaller, more time-intensive dogs, she said. She believes smaller dogs became popular because of the recession because that trend started in the 1990s.

Another popular breed, the cocker spaniel, has owners coming back for its friendliness. Carol Bryant, a blogger from Forty Fort, Pa., travels frequently and uses her cocker spaniel Dexter as a networking tool. Dexter is so good that he has his own business cards, she said.

Of the breeds that made most gains in popularity, the most noticeable has been the bulldog, said Peterson. It has inched up the last five years, most recently to No. 5 nationally in 2012, she said.

She attributed some of that to “great visibility. It’s the mascot for the U.S. Marines. Think of all the colleges that have bulldog mascots. The Mack truck has a bulldog on the hood. And Tillman and Beefy are real bulldogs who skateboard.”

Celebrities such as Brad Pitt, rapper Ice-T and athletes Michael Phelps and Sean White have bulldogs, she added, which could partly explain why the breed is No. 1 in celebrity-driven Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Bulldogs “have such great temperaments, they are adorable puppies, they are sturdy and compact, and they have the wrinkles and the eyes. They don’t require a lot of grooming or exercise and they love to stay in the house and be with you or if you like the outdoors, they love that, too,” Peterson said.

The small, sturdy breed also is compatible with owners of all ages, she added, making it ideal for multi-generational families. That comes in handy as the economy forces more adult children to return home.

When it comes to America’s top dog for the past 20 years, practicality beat being fashionable. The Labrador retriever’s intelligence earned high marks among owners who sought out the breed.

VanFossan, who lost sight in both eyes by age 22, has owned two Labs. He tried using a cane for six awkward months, then got a guide dog — a Lab named Gilly. Their time together became a book in January — “Through Gilly’s Eyes: Memoirs of a Guide Dog” — and his second dog is Achilles.

“Achilles is a little more sensitive but is better at remembering. It’s incredible. I can go to a new place just once or twice, and he’ll have the route memorized. Sensitivity has its advantages,” VanFossan said.

Linda Markley, a mother of three in Los Angeles, returned to the breed after her first Lab — a shelter find — died. When the rescues turned up none, she went to a breeder to buy Riley.

Markley said she loves Riley for dozens of reasons, but is most impressed with her memory for human vocabulary and street smarts.

Via: The Star Press

Reading with dogs- new program for kids!

Posted on: February 11, 2013
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imagesDid you know you could help your child to develop his/her reading skills with the help of a furry friend? Well, there is a new program called Paws to read which helps build a child’s self-esteem and confidence, as well as creating a pleasant experience for reading. Kids practice oral fluency while spending time with a friendly dog and have fun. It is wonderful and has demonstrated excellent results!

 

Genes behind dog’s facial features

Posted on: February 11, 2013
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tumblr_m33q01BGZV1qakzugo1_1280 Thanks to human breeders, dogs exhibit an impressive variety of skull shapes. Studying the genes that determine these shapes could provide insight into human skull development and craniofacial disorders, scientists say.

In a new study, scientists detail the biological and historical origins of dog skull shapes, highlighting some of the genetic developments that gave rise to different breeds.

“Sometime during the Paleolithic,” the researchers write in the February issue of the journal Genetics, “a remarkable transformation occurred. Small numbers of gray wolves adopted a new pack master — humans.” Over the years, dog fanciers and breeders have tinkered with those canines so much that more than 400 dog breeds exist today worldwide.

Much of the variation is in skull characteristics. “Dogs can serve as a model for skull growth and shape determination, because the genetic conservation between dogs and humans makes it highly likely that craniofacial development is regulated similarly between both species,” study co-author Jeffrey Schoenebeck of the National Institutes of Health said in a statement.

From the “pushed-in” face of a bulldog to the elongated snout of the Afghan, dog craniums run the gamut. Skull shape genetics is complex, and multiple genes are often involved. Researchers have begun to pick apart the genes that are responsible for shapes that resemble human conditions such as brachycephaly (a flattened head) and dolichocephaly (an elongated head).

Researchers also have studied traits that fit neither description, such as the Chihuahua’s rounded skull or the bull terrier’s downward angled muzzle. By comparing genetic variations among these skull shapes, the team can tease out which genes may be responsible for a flattened head, for instance.

While the researchers note wryly, “the dog model is young in human years,” they say that understanding these genes and their interactions might help explain craniofacial defects in humans.

Via: science.nbcnews