Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Federal Court Restores Gray Wolves to Federal Endangered Species List

In a victory for the gray wolf, a federal court today overturned the federal government's controversial decision to strip wolves of all protection under the federal Endangered Species Act and turn management over to the states of Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed by The Humane Society of the United States, Help Our Wolves Live, Born Free USA and Friends of Animals and Their Environment.

"This is a great day for wolves in the Great Lakes region, and a crushing blow for wealthy trophy hunting groups like the Safari Club and the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance who were champing at the bit to take part in the planned slaughter of these magnificent creatures," said Jonathan R. Lovvorn, vice president of animal protection litigation for The Humane Society of the United States.

The court ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to carve out and delist the cluster of gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region was not clearly supported by either the language or purpose of the ESA, and thus ordered the decision vacated. In July, a federal judge in Montana overturned a similar decision stripping wolves of all federal protection in the Rocky Mountain region, thus preventing Idaho, Montana and Wyoming from implementing wolf hunts as well.

Prior to today's decision, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan had all authorized the killing of wolves, and their management plans would collectively allow nearly a 50 percent reduction in the region's wolf population. Those plans were scuttled by today's decision restoring federal protections for wolves in the region.

The plaintiffs are represented pro bono in the case by Faegre & Benson LLP.

Copies of the decision in HSUS et al. v. Kempthorne, No. 07-0677 (D.D.C. September 29, 2008) are available upon request.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Should You Prepare Home-Cooked Meals For Pets?

(SPM Wire) With so many pet food recalls over the past couple of years, the idea of home-cooked pet food has grown in appeal to some pet owners.

The experts at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) warn that pets have very unique nutritional needs. Most importantly, the AVMA advises against feeding them table scraps or human food in lieu of commercial pet food. Many foods that humans love to eat can be deadly to pets.

Gravies, meat fats and poultry skin can cause stomach upsets, and even lead to a life-threatening condition in dogs. Bones will splinter when chewed and cannot be digested. Chocolate can be poisonous to them, but tastes good so pets will eat it.

The AVMA does not recommend that people prepare home-cooked meals for pets. If you are certain you wish to cook for your pet, the AVMA recommends you consult with your veterinarian and do research on appropriate diets for your pet. Only consider recipes that are developed for dogs or cats by veterinarians or trained professionals in animal nutrition.

Dr. Tony Buffington, an Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine professor, recommends www.petdiets.com as one the best Web sites on home-cooked pet diets.

But Buffington cautions it is hard to match the balanced diets provided by commercial pet foods in home-cooked meals, because commercial foods are formulated by veterinary nutrition professionals.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fayette County's Newest Preserve Hosts Bird Walk October 4

Join fellow nature lovers on a fun and informative Bird Walk on Saturday, October 4th, 2008 at 9 am. Expert bird caller David Cree will lead the guided walk at the Sams Lake Bird Sanctuary, Fayette’s newest preserve just opened to the public by Southern Conservation Trust.

Sams Lake, donated to the Trust by the Sams family, is the site of a wetland restoration project recently completed by the City of Atlanta. Already the shallow ponds draw many native and migrating bird species, including green and blue heron, egrets, and hawks. You may also see wild turkey, deer and beaver.

Southern Conservation Trust is a local conservation organization that owns, manages and protects over 1300 acres of environmentally sensitive land in the Southern Crescent. As a community land trust the Trust also works with willing property owners to protect their land with a conservation easement that may provide significant tax benefits.

Saturday’s participants should bring binoculars and meet at the Sams Lake Preserve parking lot on Old Senoia Rd south of Fayetteville, between Harp and Hawn Roads, at 9 am. For more information about community conservation and Southern Conservation Trust, call 770-486-7774, email info@sctlandtrust.org or visit the website www.sctlandtrust.org.

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Bluebird Numbers Plummet in 2008

24-7 -- The soft, plaintive cries of the bluebird were eerily silent this past summer. Mountain bluebirds seem to have taken a population nose-dive all across Alberta. People monitoring bluebird nest boxes reported a marked reduction in nesting pairs. This is significant for a species that was once declared 'at risk' and has since made a great recovery. At this point in time, there are no definitive answers or explanations from the scientific community and no one can estimate how long it will take them to rebound.

Many wild species fluctuate from time to time, either in yearly or multi-year cycles. A look at any given set of population statistics generally shows increases and decreases in a random pattern and any number of environmental or human-caused factors can account for them.

So the question remains, is this year's decline in mountain bluebirds a natural occurrence? If so, how serious is it and will they soon recover? Ultimately, what factor or factors might account for it?

Other cavity nesters seem unaffected.

Like the mountain bluebird, tree swallows are cavity nesters, capitalizing on holes in trees created by the aging process, by woodpeckers, by insect damage, and so on. They also rely heavily on artificial bird houses constructed and placed by people. Sometimes those houses are single adornments erected in an urban yard, sometimes they are part of a 'bluebird trail', literally miles of nest boxes attached like lonely sentinels to fence posts in farmers' fields. In 2008, trail monitors reported normal tree swallow numbers, and for other cavity nesters, such as wrens and chickadees, the story seems to be the same, no significant difference from previous years. So what's happened to the bluebirds and should we be alarmed?

It's not news to anyone that wildlife is declining all over the world. Many of these trends can be directly attributed to human activity. Songbirds are susceptible to pesticides, outdoor cats, window strikes, and a myriad of other human factors that scientists say claim the lives of millions upon millions of wild birds each year. Birds are also threatened by natural causes such as weather anomalies and disease, though it should be noted the latter can also be exacerbated by human activities. For example, some studies link toxoplasmosis in perching birds to feral cats.

What makes the summer '08 picture so alarming is the historical demise of North American bluebirds that occurred in the last two centuries. Forest clearing across much of their range resulted in the loss of critical nesting sites but the biggest threat came from the invasion of two non-native songbirds: the house sparrow and the starling. Both species are cavity nesters - brought to North America from England and Europe - that compete aggressively for appropriate cavities. Starlings are very early migrants and take advantage of the best nest spots early in the breeding season. House sparrows, also known as English sparrows and English weaver finches, don't migrate at all so they are also able to dominate nesting spots early.

By the 1960's and 70's, bluebirds had reached all-time low numbers due to this invasion. Youth groups, birding societies, and naturalists, were among those who built huge numbers of nest boxes and placed them in rural locations to assist the bluebird's return. This program was hugely successful, bringing bluebirds 'back from the brink'. Decades later, people are still buying and building bluebird houses in great quantities and several species are making great use of them. Nest box plans can be very sophisticated as repeated trial and error studies have defined exactly what makes the best bird house in order to maximize survival of the young.

Is the '08 decline a one-time incident then? Will fewer bluebirds return next spring or will their numbers rebound in 2009 and 2010? Is there anything that can be done to help?

You bet there is. Bluebirds are insectivores so we can reduce or eliminate pesticide use and let birds take care of the insect control business. We can protect both bluebirds and pet cats by keeping the latter indoors. We can also erect ornithologically-correct bird houses and provide proper maintenance for existing bird houses.

One particular biologist in Alberta has been working hard for two decades, educating people about hazards for wildlife that are created by human activity. Long time director of the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation, Dianne Wittner noticed an apparent shortage of bluebirds as early as March, the month they return from the south. As summer progressed, the nest boxes normally occupied by bluebirds remained vacant.

Wittner suspected the cold, snowy spring may have impacted bluebirds which nest earlier than swallows, though she also noted that unfavourable spring weather is the norm in Alberta. "Year after year, we see bluebirds forced to abandon nests when sudden cold weather affects food supply (insects). Inspection of bluebird houses during these events often reveals frozen eggs and starving adults." Furthermore, bluebirds are able to produce two clutches per season if conditions are right, which has not been the case in recent years. Wittner speculates several bad springs in a row may have caused gradual population reductions. However, she is quick to add no one really knows for sure what is going on. "It could be several factors working together, but whatever it is, I hope it's only temporary. Bluebirds are so incredibly beneficial, not to mention how beautiful they are. Like all songbirds, they battle a host of natural factors, let alone those imposed upon them by people."

It will be interesting to see if other species of bluebirds show a significant decline across the continent. All three species have suffered setbacks since the introduction of the house sparrow and the starling and all three have been assisted with the advent of artificial nest boxes. The true test will come next March when bluebirds return.

In the meantime, when Wittner is not saving wild lives, she is busy encouraging people to erect bird houses for a variety of species. Through a website called Northern Bird Houses, Wittner and her team offers information on proper placement of species-specific nest boxes and ledges to help offset habitat loss. "There is no substitute for habitat conservation," she says, "But everyone can help wildlife in their own yards with a few simple steps. One of those is the addition and maintenance of a good bird house. You will be rewarded year after year by this very simple act and who knows how many wild birds will benefit?"

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Time for Wildlife to Have Their Annual Feeding Frenzy

AAG Note: Some tips from the HSUS as the wildlife in Fayette County becomes more visible this fall.

Autumn is here which means a wild feeding frenzy for wildlife in preparation for their long winter ahead. Deer, turkeys, squirrels, mice and raccoons are among the animals busy feasting on fallen acorns.

Laura Simon, field director of urban wildlife for The Humane Society of the United States explains, "These animals need to fatten up for winter, whether they are true hibernators like woodchucks or whether they merely hunker down and remain inactive during cold spells like raccoons. If wild animals do not go into winter in good condition, their chance of surviving times of minimal food and extreme cold lessen significantly. And, acorns are the hottest item in town! Even deer are leaving shrubs alone this time of year if they can get their acorn fix."

While this frenzy can sometimes mean frustration for homeowners, The HSUS has some tips for co-existing with the four most common human "side effects" of the season:

Problem 1: Holes in house siding

Woodpeckers drill mightily on house siding, looking for rotted wood and insects beneath. On cedar, this loud sound -- and resulting damage -- can be alarming.

Solution: Mylar

Attach silvery Mylar bird tape or balloons above where the drilling occurs, to scare the birds away.

Problem 2: Holes in the lawn

Squirrels are burying acorns and other nuts in the lawn.

Solution: Do nothing

Do nothing! These holes are merely cosmetic and do not hurt the lawn.

Problem 3: Garbage raids

Mammals like raccoons may tip garbage cans and skunks, opossums, crows and gulls may join in the feast.

Solution: Put garbage cans out in the morning of trash collection rather than leaving them out all night for nocturnal opportunists to tip. Use cans with secure lids to keep birds out or purchase an Animal Stopper™ garbage can which keeps the trash secure by holding the lid in place.

Problem 4: Porch visitors

People who feed pets outdoors are shocked by the appearance of opossums, skunks and others waiting for the free buffet.

Solution: Limit food

Feed your pets indoors only, or pick up and remove any uneaten food after 20 minutes of offering it outside.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Georgia Aquarium Welcomes Manta Ray

The Georgia Aquarium announced late last month the addition of a manta ray to the 6.3 million gallon Ocean Voyager gallery, built by The Home Depot. The addition of the female manta ray, Nandi, makes Georgia Aquarium the only aquarium in the United States to ever house a manta ray and one of only four aquariums in the world to display this species. Nandi will join four whale sharks and thousands of other animals in the world’s largest aquarium exhibit.

“As the Georgia Aquarium grows as a tourist destination, our opportunity to promote conservation and education grows,” said Mike Leven, chief executive officer of the Georgia Aquarium. “The addition of Nandi, who inspired hundreds of thousands of people in South Africa, gives us the opportunity to elevate her as an ambassador for her species. Millions of people who may have never had the chance to see a manta ray will now have that chance at the Georgia Aquarium.”

Nandi, who measures more than nine feet across and weighs approximately 456 lbs, flew 9,000 miles on a chartered 747-200 aircraft from Durban, South Africa through Cape Verde, Africa, to Atlanta. The manta ray was under the care and supervision of Georgia Aquarium and uShaka Marine World professional staff and maintained by a highly advanced marine life support system.

“The Georgia Aquarium’s success in moving whale sharks across the world gave us confidence that this was the right thing to do,” said Dr. Mark Penning, executive director of uShaka Marine World. “We see this as a perfect opportunity to create an international partnership and continue Nandi’s incredible story, raising worldwide awareness about manta rays.”

Nandi was rescued from shark nets off the coast of Durban, South Africa, in April 2007 and rehabilitated by uShaka Marine World, the largest marine park in Africa. She has lived in uShaka for the past year, educating and inspiring conservation in more than 500,000 people.

Manta rays are the largest rays in the sea, but Nandi was young when she was rescued, measuring just more than eight feet across and weighing around 245 lbs. She had since outgrown her 580,000 gallon exhibit. In order to raise worldwide awareness about manta rays, Georgia Aquarium and uShaka created an international partnership to bring Nandi from South Africa to Georgia Aquarium.

“No one has ever done this before,” said Leven. “Flying the world’s largest ray, a manta ray, from one side of the world to the other and housing it in a U.S. aquarium for the first time is incredible. Having the opportunity to work with this animal and grow our understanding of this strange yet gentle giant will be an opportunity of a lifetime.”
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Monday, September 22, 2008

Pooch Mooch 2008 to Benefit Atlanta-Area Pets

PRNewswire/ -- You can hear the howls of appreciation all around metro-Atlanta as "clients" of Atlanta-based Pets Are Loving Support, Inc. (P.A.L.S.) celebrate the news that Pooch Mooch 2008 will help raise necessary funds to keep them and their owners together. Presented by Wunderkind Public Relations, an Atlanta-based communications strategy and services company, Pooch Mooch 2008 will aid P.A.L.S. in its mission to provide pet-care, such as free food and basic veterinary care, to the companion pets of critically ill, disabled and elderly Atlanta residents. The event, which features a silent auction, will be held November 16 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at the King Plow Arts Center in West Midtown.

"This is a tough economy for non-profit organizations and we could not continue our services without the generous support of friends like Wunderkind Public Relations," said Kevin Bryant, executive director, Pets Are Loving Support. "We anticipate an increase in the demand for our services through next year due to rising healthcare costs, and the funds raised through Pooch Mooch 2008 will help cover our ever-growing operating expenses, including delivery of pet meals to the homebound, pet food supplies and veterinary costs."

Hundreds of pets each year are surrendered to family members, friends or animal shelters because people with chronic illnesses, disabilities or the aging cannot afford to take proper care of them due to rising medical and living expenses. P.A.L.S. provides the basic needs of companion animals of Atlanta's critically ill and senior citizens, who might face health issues such as cancer or Alzheimer's alone, if it were not for their pets. Already this year, the non-profit organization has helped more than 700 pet clients stay where they belong - in their own homes with those that love them most.

"As a company with animal advocacy as our charitable platform, we are thrilled to present Pooch Mooch 2008, which acknowledges the healing bond between humans and animals," said Steve McAbee, president and founder, Wunderkind Public Relations. "We expect the evening to be filled with fun, friendship and giving, and a rousing success for our beneficiary."

Event Sponsors and Donations for Silent Auction Needed

Pooch Mooch 2008 is seeking sponsors for this year's event. Interested parties should contact P.A.L.S., palsatlanta@palsatlanta.org, or email info@poochmooch.com for more information.

Pooch Mooch 2008 will feature a silent auction of more than 100 items. Already, private and corporate donors have contributed items such as vacation stays at resorts around the world, roundtrip airline tickets, gift certificates to cooking school, cosmetic services, weekend mountain getaways, custom artwork, pet-related products and services, and much more. Visit the event website to preview auction items and stay up to date on the latest additions. To donate an item, contact auction@poochmooch.com or visit the website for more information.

Tickets are $25 in advance. For event information and to purchase tickets, visit www.poochmooch.com.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Benefits Of Growing Up With Pets

(NAPSI)-A pet can be more than a warm, furry or feathered friend that greets you when you return home. Growing up with pets can be good for a child’s health and development.

Research has shown that interacting with pets can contribute to a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. A positive relationship with a pet can help a child learn about responsibility and develop compassion. Children who own pets tend to have more empathy, be more cooperative and be more likely to share.

Most children view pets as special friends and may unburden secrets and cares to pets by talking to them.

Pet ownership has been associated with better grades in school, while interacting with pets may help children develop better social skills, which are also valuable at school.

A recent study at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash., found that children who helped care for a puppy in preschool were more popular and better able to understand other students’ feelings.

All in all, experts find that owning a pet can help a child develop in several positive and meaningful ways.

There are some not-so-positive aspects to growing up with pets, but parents can take a few easy steps to prevent and minimize these consequences.

• First, choose a pet that is right for your family, your home and your lifestyle. Before making a commitment, ask yourself how hard the pet is to care for. How aggressive is the pet? If you have small children, is the pet used to the roughhousing small children engage in?

• Make sure your kids are not playing too rough with or abusing the pet. While very young children may not know when behavior is too rough, children should not be allowed to harm animals.

• There are five key parasites that pose a threat to your dog’s health and some of them can transmit disease from pets to children. They are heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and fleas.

However, with effective parasite preventives, good hygiene and common sense, you can keep your pets and your family safe and healthy. Ask your veterinarian about a convenient monthly oral treatment that targets flea eggs and larvae, and controls common intestinal parasites as well. For more information, visit www.growingupwithpets.com.

A pet can bring a lot to any home and help children develop in many healthy ways. Keeping your pet healthy can protect the health of your child.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Passing the Buck . . . and the Doe and the Fawn

Deer are a common sight on the cart paths of Peachtree City.
Photo ©2007 AS Eldredge. Used with permission.

AAG Note: Whether you live in the rural area of Fayette County or in the cities of Fayetteville,Peachtree City or Tyrone, most citizens have a tale about deer. It's common to hear stories of waiting for the deer to leisurely cross the cart paths or see them scamper alongside the path. There are even eyewitness accounts of deer jumping over people in the parking lot of Kroger in Peachtree City. They are beautiful creatures, even if they do like to snack in our backyards.

(ARA) - Sipping coffee on your back deck on a beautiful fall morning, you look up and gasp -- there in your suburban oasis stands a small herd of deer. For a moment you pause, enchanted. An instant later, as the deer begin to munch on your landscape, you realize they’re just not as awestruck by the encounter as you are.

You don’t have to be a wildlife expert to know that after generations of dwelling in close proximity to humans, modern deer aren’t afraid of us anymore. What’s more, they no longer fear many of the traditional repellents some homeowners still use to protect shrubs, trees and landscaping. So when cool weather comes along and the natural landscape dies, deer have to start foraging for food sources. And they aren’t afraid to walk right into your yard and help themselves to your well-watered, well-established evergreens.

Even just a few deer can cause significant damage to your landscaping. “A single whitetail deer can consume, on average, 8 to 12 pounds of foliage a day,” says James Messina of Messina Wildlife Management. “In many areas of the country, deer overpopulation is a serious problem. With nowhere to go and not much left to eat in the dead of winter, deer can wreak havoc on shrubs, trees and gardens, and destroy new buds and leaves before they have a chance to grow, ruining your prospects for any spring growth.”

Hungry and bold, deer move into residential areas in the winter, and the damage they do in the cold weather will affect your landscape's health next spring. Traditional animal repellents are also less effective than they were decades ago, Messina notes.

“That’s because those repellents rely on a bad smell -- like the stench of a rotting carcass -- to fool animals into thinking a predator’s kill is in the area and the predator may be returning for it,” he says. “But the number of predators has actually declined, and deer know it. They’re less afraid of predators, so relying on scare tactics has a greater tendency to fail over time.”

Some wildlife has also built up a resistance to chemical deterrents. Plus, increasingly eco-conscious homeowners prefer not to put potentially harmful chemicals into the environment. Other more lethal alternatives are not only inhumane but illegal in most parts of the country.

More homeowners are turning to organic alternatives, like Deer Stopper, a repellent formulated from plant extracts. This organic option works because it confronts deer by using their natural repulsion to certain plant smells and tastes rather than relying on fear.

“We know that deer will eat over 500 different types of plants,” Messina says. “Normally, they’re quite discriminating. But in fall and winter, when food is harder to find, they become less picky and much more of a threat to suburban landscapes. Still, like many wild animals, deer rely on taste and smell to judge if a food may be harmful to them. If your backyard foliage tastes or smells unpleasant to them, one bite and they’ll move on.”

An effective taste deterrent, Deer Stopper is 100 percent organic and completely safe for use on all types of plants -- from vegetables to trees, flowers to shrubs. The Organic Materials Review Institute lists it as approved for use by organic growers. The smell- and taste-based technology also eliminates the need for a foul odor, so Deer Stopper actually smells good to humans. Lightly mist vegetation once a month, even during the cold and snowy winter to keep deer away all season long. To learn more, or to find retail locations, visit www.messinawildlife.com.

“In the early 1900s, there were probably only about half a million deer spread out over the country,” Messina says. “Today, there are more than 15 million. Deer, it turns out, adapt quite well to life in suburbia. Keeping them away from residential and commercial landscaping can help everyone -- deer and homeowners -- co-exist more happily together.”

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Federal Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Crack Down on Abusive Puppy Mills

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund commend federal lawmakers for introducing bills that will crack down on abusive "puppy mills" in the United States — where breeding dogs are often stacked in wire cages for years to produce litter after litter. The legislation will close a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act that currently allows large, commercial breeders who sell puppies online and directly to the public to escape licensing and regulation.

The legislation — known as the "Puppy Uniform Protection Statute" (PUPS), or "Baby's Bill" in honor of rescued puppy mill survivor Baby who is the subject of Jana Kohl's new book A Rare Breed of Love — was introduced in the House of Representatives yesterday as H.R. 6949 by Reps. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), Lois Capps (D-Calif.) and Terry Everett (R-Ala.). A companion bill, S. 3519, was also introduced in the Senate by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.).

The bills also require that dogs used for breeding be removed from their cages for exercise every day. Female breeding dogs in puppy mills are typically forced to live their entire lives in small cages with no opportunity for exercise, no socialization, and little human interaction.

"Dogs are not livestock, and they shouldn't be treated like a cash crop," said Michael Markarian, executive vice president of The Humane Society of the United States and president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. "We are grateful to federal lawmakers for introducing this legislation to curb the worst abuses in the puppy mill industry. It's a much-needed upgrade to our nation's laws that protect man's best friend from cruelty and harm."

Facilities that breed dogs for commercial resale through pet stores are required to be licensed and inspected under the federal Animal Welfare Act. But thanks to a gaping exception in the law, puppy mills that sell directly to the public are exempt from any federal oversight whatsoever. Unregulated Internet sellers and other direct sales facilities sell thousands of puppies a year to unsuspecting consumers. Due to improper care, their puppies are often sick, leaving outraged consumers with frail, sometimes dying puppies and high vet bills. Meanwhile, the breeding dogs at these facilities often spend their entire lives in constant confinement and deprivation.

"Sadly, finding your puppy online may well increase the chance that you'll be buying from a puppy mill," said Sen. Durbin. "Our bill simply requires that breeders obtain a license from the USDA if they raise more than 50 dogs in a 12-month period and sell directly to the public and sets forth reasonable standards of care for commercial breeders. Responsible dog breeders are not the target of this legislation, but hopefully it will put the puppy mills out of business."

"My work supporting puppy mill regulation goes back to my time in the California Assembly where I championed California's puppy mill law," Rep. Farr said. "I think it's very important that Congress take the time to address issues like animal welfare. These are the kinds of issues that really demonstrate who we are as a society."

"I'm proud to join with Congressman Farr and representatives of The Humane Society of the United States today as we continue our efforts to ensure that commercial dog breeders are appropriately regulated," added Rep. Gerlach. "Our bill, the PUPS Act, will close a loophole in current law that allows large breeding operations avoid any and all oversight. I am confident that this bill will not hinder the operation of reputable and responsible breeders. Instead, it is aimed at protecting dogs and making individuals who are motivated by profit over the fair and humane treatment of dogs accountable for their actions."

The legislation will close the loophole in the AWA that allows thousands of commercial breeders to go unregulated. It will require the following changes to the AWA:

All dog breeders who sell more than 50 puppies per year directly to the public will be federally licensed and inspected; and
Dogs at commercial breeding facilities must be given the opportunity to exercise for 60 minutes a day.

The bill will not affect small breeders and hobby breeders who sell fewer than 50 dogs per year directly to the public, but is crafted to cover only the largest commercial breeding facilities.
Public concern about the inhumane conditions typical in puppy mills is at an all-time high, due to coverage on national television and several large-scale cruelty investigations and rescues from puppy mills this summer that The HSUS and local shelters spearheaded. Earlier this year, the Farm Bill passed by Congress included a new provision to ban the importation of puppies under six months old from puppy mills in China, Russia, Mexico and other foreign countries.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Christ Our Shepherd to Bless Animals October 5

Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church (Hiway 54 at Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree City) will offer a Blessing of the Animals Service on October 5, 2008, at 2:00 p.m. All are invited to bring pet(s) to the annual service, which is held each year on the Sunday closest to the feast of St. Francis. Pets of any size, shape, or type are welcome … even a pet’s photo can be blessed if it is not possible to attend in person. All pets should be properly leashed or in carriers for their safety. All are encouraged to invite fellow pet owners to the celebration!

FDA Issues Draft Guidance on Regulating Genetically Engineered Animals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, today released for public comment draft guidance on the regulation of genetically engineered (GE) animals. The guidance document is intended to clarify the FDA's regulatory authority in this field, as well as the requirements and recommendations for producers of GE animals and products derived from GE animals.

The comment period for the draft guidance, titled "The Regulation of Genetically Engineered Animals Containing Heritable rDNA Constructs," runs for 60 days and closes Nov. 18, 2008. The 25-page document is available online at http://www.fda.gov/cvm/GEAnimals.htm.

"Genetically engineered animals hold great promise for improving human medicine, agriculture, the environment, and the production of new materials, and the FDA has long been involved in their scientific evaluation," said Randall Lutter, Ph.D., deputy commissioner for policy. "Our guidance provides a framework for both GE animals and products made from them to reach the market."

Genetic engineering generally refers to the use of recombinant DNA (rDNA) techniques to introduce new characteristics or traits into an organism. When scientists splice together pieces of DNA and introduce a spliced DNA segment into an organism to give the organism new properties, it's called rDNA technology. The spliced piece of DNA is called the rDNA construct. A GE animal is one that contains an rDNA construct intended to give the animal new characteristics or traits.

GE animals can be divided into several classes, based on their intended use. They include animals that produce human or animal pharmaceuticals (biopharm animals); animals that serve as models for human diseases; animals that produce high-value industrial or consumer products, such as fibers; and food-use animals with new traits such as improved nutrition, faster growth or lower emission levels of environmentally harmful substances (such as phosphate in their manure).

Genetic engineering already is widely used in agriculture to make crops resistant to pests or herbicides. In medicine, genetic engineering is used to develop microbes that produce drugs and other therapeutic products for use in humans. In food, genetic engineering is used to produce microorganisms that aid in baking, brewing, and cheese-making.

Using the animal drug provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has been working with developers of GE animals to make them aware of their responsibilities to ensure that food from these animals does not enter the U.S. food supply unless the FDA has authorized such use.

The FD&C Act classifies "articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals" as drugs. An rDNA construct that is in a GE animal and intended to affect the animal's structure or function meets the definition of a new animal drug, whether the animal is intended for food, or used to produce another substance. Developers of these animals must demonstrate that the construct and/or any new products expressed from the inserted construct are safe for the health of the GE animal.

Under the draft guidance, in those cases in which the GE animal is intended for food use, producers will have to demonstrate that food from the GE animal is safe to eat. The FDA will review this information as part of its food safety assessment, consistent with that recommended in the recently adopted Codex Alimentarius Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Animals. Codex is a worldwide food safety organization sponsored by the United Nations.

The draft guidance also describes a sponsor's responsibility in meeting the requirements for environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Depending on the species of animal and its intended use, the FDA will coordinate with agencies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and with other federal departments and agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, in regulating GE animals. The draft guidance indicates the areas in which the FDA will be working with those agencies to develop a coherent policy under the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology. USDA has published in the same issue of the Federal Register a "Request for Information" that seeks input on what types of actions and approaches it should consider under the Animal Health Protection Act (AHPA) that would complement FDA's guidance. The AHPA gives the Secretary of Agriculture authority to take specific actions to prevent the spread of diseases and pests of livestock.

"This is a cutting-edge technology that has significant implications, including real benefits, not just for human health, but also for animal health, such as developing disease-resistant animals," said CVM Director Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D. "We look forward to the public comments to help refine our thinking and approach."

The draft guidance describes how the FDA may exercise enforcement discretion, that is, not require premarket approval, for some GE animals depending on potential risk, as we did after reviewing information about Zebra danio, aquarium fish genetically engineered to glow in the dark. For example, the draft guidance states the FDA's intent to exercise enforcement discretion for laboratory animals used for research and kept in confined conditions. The agency does not expect to exercise enforcement discretion for animal species traditionally consumed as food and expects to require approval of all GE animals intended to go into the human food supply.

The draft guidance describes how the FDA regulates heritable rDNA constructs, that is, constructs inherited from one generation to the next. Non-heritable constructs, such as those used for gene therapy to treat individual animals, may be the subject of a subsequent guidance.

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As Summer Winds Down, Yellowjacket Season Ramps Up

BUSINESS WIRE --Although early fall is typically marked by the return of packed schedules and back-to-school activities, it is also marked by the annual, though far less popular, return of yellowjackets. During this season, yellowjacket colonies are fully matured and begin to prepare their queens for starting new colonies during the winter months. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) warns that yellowjacket activity, especially during this time, will become increasingly aggressive and continue to pose a major health threat.

Yellowjacket colonies typically live in large nests underground or built in deep, hollow areas such as eaves and attics. Yellowjackets are a resilient pest and if a nest is removed improperly, it is likely that members of the colony will not only survive but quickly rebuild their nest. Further, these pests feed on sweets and proteins, which make them common invaders of outdoor activities where food and beverages are present.

“When a yellowjacket nest is disturbed or threatened, hundreds of yellowjackets will swarm to defend the nest,” said Greg Baumann, senior scientist for NPMA. “These types of attacks can pose a serious threat and, in fact, are responsible for a significant number of the 500,000 ER visits every year due to stinging insects. It is critical to not only prevent infestations but also to take the necessary action of calling a licensed pest professional if a nest should appear in or around your property.”

If you suspect a yellowjacket infestation in or near your home, the NPMA offers homeowners these tips:

* Do not attempt to remove the nest on your own or swing/swat at yellowjackets as this can cause an aggressive reaction and/or cause repeated stinging.
* Keep windows and doors properly screened.
* Promptly remove garbage and store it in sealed receptacles.
* If stung and you have a reaction, seek immediate medical attention as reactions can be severe.

For more information regarding yellowjackets or to find a local pest professional, please visit: www.pestworld.org.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Georgia Aquarium to Celebrate Sea Otter Awareness Week

Guests are invited to join the Georgia Aquarium in celebrating Sea Otter Awareness Week Sept 21 – 27, 2008. The Aquarium, along with sea otters Oz and Gracie, will educate visitors regarding conservation efforts and facts about sea otters through exciting activities, interactive storytelling and educational information.

Throughout the week, Oz and Gracie will be profiled, highlighting their unique personalities and journey to the Aquarium. Guests will learn about the Aquarium’s rehabilitation efforts and 4R Program that is designed to positively impact the health and well-being of aquatic life from around the world. Additionally, biologists will be on-hand to conduct training and enrichment sessions with the sea others.

As a keystone species, sea otters play an integral role in the ecosystem and health of our oceans. They help maintain the balance among thousands of kelp forest inhabitants. Sea otters also act as an indicator species, meaning that their high rates of disease may be a warning for both marine ecosystems and human health. In order to help the plight of the sea otter, public awareness and education is imperative. Currently, they are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List and are protected by the Endangered Species Act and The Marine Mammal Protection Act. By becoming an advocate for sea otters and other aquatic life, individuals can make a difference by protecting and saving the marine environment that sea otters call home.
Daily activities for Sea Otter Awareness Week include:

· Arts & Crafts – Guests can create their own sea otter mask!
· Animal Interpreters – On-hand to educate guests about sea otters.
· Conservation Carts – Sea otter pelts and replica otter skulls will be available to touch and examine.
· Plus biologist sessions and enrichment activities with Oz and Gracie, storytelling, videos and more!

For additional information on Sea Otter Awareness Week please visit the Aquarium’s Web site at www.georgiaaquarium.org/visitUs/seaotterweek.aspx or call 404-581-4000.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Whale of a Time in the Channel on September 15

On a return crossing from Biscay through the Channel September 15, 2008, passengers and researchers were beside themselves with excitement when a Humpback Whale was spotted near the Channel Islands. Humpback Whales are amongst the most familiar to people and yet this sighting in such a busy shipping area is unprecedented, considering how rarely they are observed in the eastern Atlantic.

Humpback Whales are known to be highly migratory, traveling between breeding and feeding grounds annually. They are found throughout the world's oceans, but numbers were decimated by whaling. Whilst the whales seem to be making a recovery in certain areas, sightings remain few and far between around the UK and mainland Europe. Sporadic sightings are reported annually in the Irish Sea, the North Sea and the waters off western Scotland, but there has not been a report of a Humpback Whale in the Channel in recent history.

The whale was initially detected as it created splashes on the surface by members of the Spanish research organization AMBAR. This species is known to be quite acrobatic often engaging in breaching - where the animal leaps clear of the water or crashing its massive tail and large pectoral fins on the waters surface. This particular whale was engaging in such behaviour and was photographed. Biscay Dolphin Research Program (BDRP) on board Wildlife Officer John Arnott, was able to confirm the sighting as a Humpback Whale.

John Arnott commented: "The photographs clearly showed the distinctive dorsal hump characteristic of this species. Many passengers were delighted, having witnessed the blows and splashes from their vantage point on deck 11 of the ship."

BDRP Chairman Clive Martin said: "Our first thought was for the whale's safety and we have alerted the coastguard to its presence and exact location. Being such a busy shipping area, the whale is at risk of ship strike and it is important that vessels are aware and therefore able to take extra care in this area".

It is likely that the whale is undertaking its annual migration from Northerly feeding grounds to warmer equatorial waters and has entered the Channel en-route. It may have been following its fish prey or could have become confused and entered the Channel through the Western Approaches by accident.

BDRP will continue to monitor the Channel for further sightings of the whale, keeping the coast guard informed of its movements.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Georgia Heartland Humane Society's Pet Overpopulation Initiative Update

AAG Note: Earlier this year, the Georgia Heartland Humane Society entered a pet into the Humane Society of the United States Photo Contest for Spay Day 2008. Below is a tidbit from Georgia Heartland Humane Society as they acknowledge the wonderful readers and benefits of the Fayette Front Page.

The Georgia Heartland Humane Society rescues abandoned and abused animals to be placed in forever homes. Since its inception, the GHHS adoption contract has specified that the adopter must have the animal spayed or neutered within a specified time period. That condition was not negotiable. But now, GHHS no longer puts the onus on the adopter. In February 2008, GHHS launched their Pet Overpopulation Initiative.

The decision to launch a Pet Overpopulation Initiative coincided with Spay Day USA 2008, sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States. Being a small organization, GHHS started small. The first seed money came from HSUS. Buster, the Kitten, their entry in the HSUS photo contest, came in 8th in the nation. His winning pot of nearly $700 was the seed money. Fayette Front Page was instrumental in Buster’s victory. They displayed his photo prominently, encouraging readers to vote for him. Candy sales, donations, and a successful bake sale at the Adoptathon have added to the funds reserved strictly for spay/neuter.

To read the entire story, click here.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Safe Handling Advice for Pet Foods and Treats from the FDA

Consumers can take steps to help prevent foodborne illness, including Salmonella -related illness, when handling pet foods and treats. These products, like many other types of foods, can be susceptible to harmful bacterial contamination.

Salmonella in pet foods and treats can cause serious infections in dogs and cats, and in people too, especially children, older people, and those with compromised immune systems. Salmonella in pet foods and treats potentially can be transferred to people ingesting or handling the contaminated products.

FDA has stepped up its efforts to minimize the incidence of foodborne illness associated with pet foods and treats. Pet owners and consumers can also help reduce the likelihood of infection from contaminated pet foods and treats by following safe handling instructions:

Buying

* Purchase products in good condition, without signs of damage to the packaging such as dents or tears.

Preparation

* Wash your hands for 20 seconds with hot water and soap before and after handling pet foods and treats.
* Wash pet food bowls, dishes, and scooping utensils with soap and hot water after each use.
* Do not use the pet's feeding bowl as a scooping utensil—use a clean, dedicated scoop or spoon.
* Dispose of old or spoiled pet food products in a safe manner, such as in a securely tied plastic bag in a covered trash receptacle.

Storage

* Refrigerate promptly or discard any unused, leftover wet pet food. Refrigerators should be set at 40º F.
* Dry products should be stored in a cool, dry place—under 80º F.
* If possible, store dry pet food in its original bag inside a clean, dedicated plastic container with a lid, keeping the top of the bag folded closed.
* Keep pets away from food storage and preparation areas.
* Keep pets away from garbage and household trash.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mars Petcare US Issues Voluntary Recall of Everson, PA Plant Dry Pet Food Product due to Potential Salmonella Contamination

Today, Mars Petcare US announced a voluntary recall of products manufactured at its Everson, Pennsylvania facility. The pet food is being voluntarily recalled because of potential contamination with Salmonella serotypeSchwarzengrund. This voluntary recall only affects the United States.

Salmonella can cause serious infections in dogs and cats, and, if there is cross contamination caused by handling of the pet food, in people as well, especially children, the aged, and people with compromised immune systems. Healthy people potentially infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. On rare occasions, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Animals can be carriers with no visible symptoms and can potentially infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

The company stopped production at the Everson facility on July 29, 2008 when it was alerted of a possible link between dry pet food produced at the plant and two isolated cases of people infected with Salmonella Schwarzengrund.

Even though no direct link between product produced at Everson and human or pet illness has been made, Mars Petcare US is taking precautionary action to protect pets and their owners by announcing a voluntary recall of all products produced at the Everson facility beginning February 18, 2008 until July 29, 2008 when we stopped production.

The company is continuing to work collaboratively with the FDA to determine the nature and source of Salmonella Schwarzengrund at the Everson facility. Since it has not yet identified the source of the Salmonella Schwarzengrund at the Everson facility, Mars Petcare US does not plan to resume production out of a commitment to the safety of our pet owners and their pets, customers, and associates.

The top priority of Mars Petcare US has always been and continues to be the health and welfare of pets and their owners. Consumers can continue to have confidence in the quality and safety of the products produced at other Mars Petcare US facilities. Only those products which were produced at the Everson facility are impacted by the voluntary recall.

Many of the brands involved in the recall are national brands produced at multiple facilities. A chart for all products is below. For example, PEDIGREE® is manufactured in numerous facilities throughout the country, and Everson represents a very small portion of the manufacturing base – 2.7 percent of total PEDIGREE® production.

Mars Petcare US will work with retail customers to ensure that the recalled products are not on store shelves. These products should not be sold or fed to pets. In the event that consumers believe they have purchased products affected by this voluntary recall, they should return the product to the store where they purchased it for a full refund. Specific product details and other information can be found at www.petcare.mars.com

Please find recalled pet food UPC information below.

The products listed below are made at our Everson facility on behalf of a variety of retailers. All code dates, with the exception of PEDIGREE®, are listed in a similar format as noted below:
Consumers should look for “17” as the first two digits of the second line. Sample:
Best By Feb 18 09
17 1445 1

For PEDIGREE® the Everson code date format is as follows:

Consumers should look for “PAE” on the bottom line – the sixth, seventh and eighth digits. Sample:
PEDIGREE ® Small Crunchy Bites
Best Before 02/2009
808G1PAE01 12:00

In an effort to prevent the transmission of Salmonella from pets to family members and care givers, the FDA recommends that everyone follow appropriate pet food handling guidelines when feeding their pets.

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Beaked Whale Research off the Coast of Spain

24/7 - A group of Europe's leading marine conservation and research organizations joined forces to carry out crucial research into some of the rarest and most elusive marine animals on the planet - beaked whales. The research program, called "Diver 2008", after these animals' deep diving ability, ran during July 2008 off the northern coast of Spain, within the Bay of Biscay - an area with a number of deep water canyons which is renowned for sightings of these mysterious marine mammals.

The research was important and timely because beaked whales are known to be very sensitive to certain sub-sea noise and there have been numerous cases of mass strandings of these animals which have been linked to concurrent use of military sonar.

Dr Kelly Macleod, Project Coordinator of the Diver surveys and Chairperson of the charity ORCA (Organisation Cetacea), commented: "The team worked extremely well together during the research and had a number of opportunities to investigate these rare whales at close quarters. This has provided the opportunity to really correlate sightings of the whales with underwater features and will help map their preferred habitat".

This was a highly successful trip. During the study program, the research team recorded 120 sightings of whale and dolphins, including nine definite Cuvier's Beaked Whales, seven of which were photographed for future identification purposes. Other species seen included a pod of 13 Sperm Whales, globally endangered Fin Whales, many dolphins and another rarely seen beaked whale species - the Sowerby's Beaked Whale.

Jos Antonio Vázquez Bonales, Sightings Coordinator for AMBAR, said "We were able to take a number of high quality photo-identification images of the whales we encountered which will form part of a catalogue. The distinctive patterns of scratches and marks on the fins and bodies of these whales make each photograph like a fingerprint for that particular animal and will aid identification of the same animals should they be sighted again".

Analysis of the data is still proceeding and a full report will be generated later in the year. However, the top line results demonstrate the success of the project, providing a robust foundation to help underpin future conservation measures for these vulnerable animals.

Dr Tom Brereton, Marinelife Research Director, commented "Through the Diver 2008 project, we have made an important step forward in identifying the range and movements of Cuvier's Beaked Whales. This data is vital if we are to devise effective conservation strategies for these fascinating deep water animals."

The data collected through Diver 2008 will add to the knowledge base on beaked whales developed by Ambar, Marinelife and ORCA which is obtained through surveys on commercial ferries in the region. All three groups share this data and collaborate with other ferry researchers, through the Atlantic Research Coalition (ARC).

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

The HSUS Warns that Young Bats Can Take a Wrong Turn into Your Home

AAG Note: This recently happened to one of our staff members. A young bat flew into the house. After the screaming had stopped, the young Fayette County bat was safely removed to the outside and flew away into the darkness.

While bats are widely recognized for the positive environmental benefits that they provide with their insatiable appetite for insects — and a starring role in a blockbuster movie — they still can cause fear in people, especially when they make their way into your home. And no one wants to be surprised by a chance meeting in the house, including the bat.

According to John Griffin, director of The Humane Society of the United States' Humane Wildlife Services, "These incidents often occur this time of year when young and newly weaned bats get lost trying to make their way out of an attic for the first time to join the rest of their colony in nocturnal foraging for insects."

Attics are the ultimate hang-out for bats because they provide the high temperatures and undisturbed environments that bats need for resting, giving birth and rearing young. Baby bats are born in late spring and become mobile and interested in braving the great outdoors around the end of summer. The young bats can sometimes take a wrong turn and end up flying into the living areas of your home.

Griffin explains, "There are two issues that homeowners are faced with when it comes to an accidental intrusion. First, the humane removal of the wayward bat and second, making sure that the home interior is sealed up properly so that unexpected visitors from the attic don't intrude again."

Removal of a wayward bat in your living space:

When a bat or any wild animal is inside, local animal care and control agencies usually respond with immediate help. Some homeowners may take matters into their own hands and capture the bat themselves. To do this as safely as possible, make sure that you do not come in contact with the bat by using a container (e.g. a plastic food container or shoebox) and placing it over the bat when he or she is at rest on drapery or the wall. The lid is then carefully slid underneath to contain the bat. Heavy gloves MUST be used to do this. NEVER try to handle a bat with bare hands or cotton gloves. Once contained, the bat can be safely released outside, but be sure to put the bat on a tree limb or wall since they cannot fly from the ground up.

If there is any chance that the bat was in the room of a sleeping or intoxicated person or young child, health authorities mandate that the bat be captured and tested for rabies — even if there's only a slim chance that the bat could have bitten someone without their knowing it.

Humane exclusion of the colony:

This is almost always a job for professionals, who can determine where and how the bats are getting inside the structure and properly install the appropriate exclusion material and one-way doors (or "check valves") that let them out but not back in. Bats can enter attics through openings as small as a nickel and an experienced eye is best in determining where they are coming and going from.

Some bats will leave buildings to fly to sites where they hibernate over winter, and others will overwinter. An experienced and professional installer can determine which species of bat is present and how they are using a structure and plan a humane exclusion strategy accordingly.

Bats help to control insects and pollinate numerous plants we depend upon. If you have a colony excluded from your house, or simply want the incredible benefits they provide, The HSUS recommends putting up a bat house outside to give the bats alternative roosting quarters.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Georgia Sea Turtle Center Selects Founding Visionary As New Director

PRNewswire/ -- The Georgia Sea Turtle Center, located on historic Jekyll Island, Ga., has selected Dr. Terry M. Norton to be its new director. Dr. Norton, who assumed his new position effective September 5, has been integrally involved in planting and nurturing the idea for the center since 2001. He has been the director of veterinary services for the organization since it opened on June 16, 2007, and he will continue to serve in that capacity.

Dr. Norton comes with impressive credentials that include a Bachelor of Science degree from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Tufts University in Boston, and more than twenty years of experience working with zoos, aquaria, and free-ranging wildlife.

"Dr. Norton was an integral part of the early success of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center," said Jones Hooks, Executive Director, Jekyll Island Authority. "He helped create the shared vision that began this great work, and now we're thrilled that he will lead the Center into the future."

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC) provides rehabilitation treatment for injured sea turtles and other wildlife; conducts research and professional training in wildlife medicine, husbandry, biology and education; and offers educational programs for the public.

Since the Georgia Sea Turtle Center opened, more than 110,000 visitors have toured the $3 million, 10,000-square-foot facility. A restored 1903 brick building that once supplied power to the famous Jekyll Island Club hotel houses an exhibit area, retail space, and state-of-the-art rooms dedicated to surgery, digital radiography (X-rays), and long-term treatment.

"It's an interactive educational environment," explained Dr. Norton. "Visitors to our center really get engaged. For example, our treatment room has a window so that visitors can actually watch us work on our patients, and we can discuss the particular animal's life history, medical problem, and treatment or surgery. A walkway through the rehabilitation area allows them to see the turtles we are nursing back to health, with the goal of releasing them back into the sea. Our center is the first of its kind in Georgia, and as far as I know, it's the only one in the country that comprehensively integrates rehabilitation, interactive education, professional training, and veterinary research."

An Emphasis on Education and Research

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center's rehabilitation work to protect and preserve sea turtles is just one important aspect of its mission. The center also conducts research and provides educational and awareness programs for the public.

In a twelve-month period approximately 5,000 students from close to 100 different schools and scout groups visited the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. In addition, the center takes its educational programs into numerous schools. At the same time, GSTC is conducting groundbreaking research to develop diets and nutritional supplements to promote sea turtle health and healing. This research could benefit aquaria and rehabilitation institutions all over the world.

Leading the Way for Others

"Our vision extends beyond our immediate region," said Dr. Norton. "We want our research, conservation, preservation, and educational activities to benefit organizations in other parts of the country and the world. We have already developed training programs for veterinarians and veterinary students from across the United States, the Caribbean, Panama, and other places."

In the spring of 2009, GSTC plans to host an International Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Workshop in partnership with many other institutions, including Ross University in St. Kitts; the Georgia Department of Natural Resources; St. Catherines Island Foundation; the Jekyll Island Authority and Foundation; the University of Florida and the University of Georgia Colleges of Veterinary Medicine; the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet, Florida; the Marine Life Center in Melbourne, Florida; the Turtle Hospital in Marathon Key, Florida; and possibly others.

"My long-term vision is to expand the scope of our mission," said Dr. Norton. "In the future we'd like to develop health-related programs for a wider variety of native wildlife and promote ecosystem health locally and internationally, while at the same time increasing our efforts on behalf of turtles."

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Dog Owners Pursue Howl-istic Health

(NAPSI)-Maybe having your health go to the dogs isn't so bad after all.

Wellness gurus say a new survey reveals the dawn of "howl-istic" practices among dog lovers nationwide. In fact, 92 percent of adults who have a dog agreed their pups' emotional health is as important to them as their physical health. Additionally, 86 percent of adults who have a dog said they value their dog's health as much as their own.

This is in keeping with trends that suggest pet lovers are adopting progressive outlooks on canine health and happiness that mirror their own outlook on personal wellness. Indeed, a growing number of dog owners now sniff around the Web looking for holistic health advice for their four-footed friends.

They often find Dr. Jodi Smith, a practicing veterinarian and popular pet expert from JustAn swer.com, the largest expert-advice provider on the Internet.

"I'm always encouraging pet parents on- and offline to strengthen their bond by tapping into their dog's energy and staying active together," says Dr. Smith. "Combine active play with eating wholesome foods and you will unleash a wealth of physical and emotional benefits." She suggests these tips:

1. It's More Fun With Fido--Integrate your pup into your personal wellness plan. Most dog lovers (86 percent) say they are happier when they take a walk with their dog(s) than when they walk alone. Plus, more than three in four acknowledge that their dog's energy is contagious, encouraging them to stay active.

2. Quality Nutrition and Great Taste--Be careful when reading dog food labels and focus on products such as new Kibbles 'n Bits Wholesome Medley. The great-tasting food is made with poultry meal, brown rice, apples, peas and carrots, offering 100 percent complete and balanced nutrition. It's also wheat-gluten-free and has no artificial flavors or preservatives. The food helps power your dog's energy level throughout the day.

3. Preventative Measures--Apply basic safety rules to both you and your dog: Don't exercise on full stomachs, keep hydrated, stay out of nasty weather and remember to stretch.

4. They're All Ears--Dogs soak up praise and terms of endearment. They are great listeners and will patiently hear out the story of your whole day in return for a belly rub or scratch behind the ears.

For more information, visit www.wholesomemedley.com.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Dog Owners Beware-- Dog Toys Pulled from Market after Tongue Amputation

AAG Note: We knew our readers would want to know. Please click to read the whole story as presented by Consumer Affairs.

by Lisa Wade McCormick
ConsumerAffairs.com

September 5, 2008

A New York company is pulling its entire line of rubber balls for dogs and warning consumers to immediately take these toys away from their pets.

The action by Four Paws manufacturing company of Hauppauge, New York, comes on the heels of a freak accident that led to the amputation of a dog's tongue......

Read the story.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Plan for Your Pets in Case of Emergency

AAG Note: With all the hurricane threats upon us, please remember to plan for your pets in case you have to evacuate. Here are some tips from the Humane Society of the United States.

The HSUS urges residents to check their local Web sites such as the Florida State Agricultural Response team, flsart.org, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, gema.state.ga.us, North Carolina State Animal Response Team, ncsart.org and the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, scemd.org for updated information. Availability at shelters can be limited and residents are strongly urged to be self sufficient in caring for their families, including their animals.

The failure to plan for your pets' safety can lead to tragedy. Luckily, many lessons were learned after Hurricane Katrina where residents were forced to abandon dogs, cats and other animals by the tens of thousands. Early planning and coordinated evacuation plans avoided a repeat of Katrina during Hurricane Gustav. You can take simple steps to ensure that your pets will not be left in a dangerous situation.

A pet disaster kit should include:

· A three-day supply of food and drinking water, as well as bowls, cat litter and a container to be used as a litter box.

· Current photos and descriptions of pets.

· Up-to-date identification, including an additional tag with the phone number of someone out of the area in the event the pet becomes lost.

· Medications, medical records and a first aid kit stored in a waterproof container.

· Sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers to transport pets safely as well as blankets or towels for bedding and warmth. Carriers should be large enough to comfortably house your pet for several hours or even days.

Evacuation planning for large animals should include:

· Evacuate animals as soon as possible. Be ready to leave once the evacuation is ordered. In a slowly evolving disaster, such as a hurricane, leave no later than 72 hours before anticipated landfall, especially if you will be hauling a high profile trailer such as a horse trailer. Remember: Even a fire truck fully loaded with water is considered "out of service" in winds exceeding 40 mph. If there are already high winds, it may not be possible to evacuate safely.

· Arrange for a place to shelter your animals. Plan ahead and work within your community to establish safe shelters for farm animals.

· Contact your local emergency management authority and become familiar with at least two possible evacuation routes well in advance.

· Set up safe transportation. Trucks, trailers, and other vehicles suitable for transporting large animals (appropriate for transporting each specific type of animal) should be available, along with experienced handlers and drivers.

· Take all your disaster supplies with you or make sure they will be available at your evacuation site. You should have or be able to readily obtain feed, water, veterinary supplies, handling equipment, tools and generators if necessary.

· If your animals are sheltered off your property, make sure they remain in the groupings they are used to. Also, be sure they are securely contained and sheltered from the elements if necessary, whether in cages, fenced-in areas, or buildings.

· Place horses' Coggins tests, veterinary papers, identification photographs, and vital information—such as medical history, allergies, and emergency telephone numbers (veterinarian, family members, etc.)—in a watertight envelope. Store the envelope with your other important papers in a safe place that can be quickly reached.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

UGA Vet Students to Host 2nd Annual 5K Run for World Rabies Day September 20

The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine’s Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association is hosting a 5K run on Saturday, Sept. 20, in support of World Rabies Day. The course winds throughout the UGA campus, with the starting and finish lines at Stegeman Coliseum. Proceeds from the race will benefit the Alliance for Rabies Control, an international organization dedicated to the prevention of human rabies and eradication of rabies in dogs worldwide.

“Rabies impacts human as well as animal health and welfare,” said event organizer Zack Yasin. “It is completely preventable through vaccination, yet at least 55,000 people—mostly in underdeveloped countries—die annually. Our hope is to raise more awareness locally to support worldwide education efforts and help eradicate this deadly disease.”

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. the day of the race, with the shotgun start beginning at 9 a.m. Awards for top male and female overall winners will be given, as well as for masters and the top three male and female runners in each age group. Registration cost is $20 the day of the race. The cost for pre-registration by Sept. 17 is $15. Each participant receives a t-shirt, complementary bananas, bagels and water. Leashed dogs with current rabies tags are welcome to join owners in the race.

For more information and to pre-register for the race, visit www.vet.uga.edu/SCAVMA.

by Tracy Giese
University of Georgia

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Life is Rosy for Rosie

Special to the Fayette Front Page

Since the beginning of the year, Georgia Heartland Humane Society has placed 125 abandoned animals in permanent loving homes. All pets are special to the volunteers of Georgia Heartland Humane Society; but special needs animals underscore what GHHS is all about. Committed to end the suffering of companion animals, GHHS helps needy animals who may not survive without their help.

Rosie is just one of those special-pets, abandoned by someone special, saved by special people and finally adopted by very special people. No one knows Rosie’s history. But GHHS volunteers agree that the person who tied Rosie to the dock of the Newnan Petsmart wanted Rosie to have a good life, one they could not provide.

GHHS volunteers were setting up for their regularly scheduled adoptions at the Newnan Petsmart when they heard Rosie’s muffled whimpers. Activities stopped as volunteers strained to catch the faint cries.

Christine looked at Barbara, a look which said, “Something is wrong.” They dropped what they were doing and walked toward the storage room. The cries became more distinct. Barbara rushed to the heavy door leading to the loading dock. The door stuck. They both pushed and nearly flew out as the door gave way, crashing loudly against the adjacent wall.

Rosie lay almost directly at their feet, but she didn’t move. At first, they thought she was injured. But as they moved into her sight, Rosie jumped up, gratefully and happily acknowledging their presence. Barb knelt before her. As Rosie licked her face, Barb whispered, “She’s deaf.” Then they saw the sign which had blown off the loading dock. The owner who loved her left a note which read: “I’m homeless and I’m deaf. Please help me.”

GHHS relies on foster homes to care for rescued animals until they are adopted. Foster homes are few and generally at capacity. Such was the case the day Rosie was found. All foster homes were filled. Barb and Christine, both leaders in GHHS, knew there was no room for Rosie. Nevertheless, the trio exuded confidence as they returned to the adoption center, Rosie between them. It was a time of joy. It was a scene of triumph. Rosie was rescued!

Cell phones appeared out of pockets and purses. Volunteers began calling potential foster homes, previous foster parents, and known animal-lovers, anyone who could and would meet their foster home criteria. An hour later, a volunteer’s shout signaled victory: I’ve found a home for Rosie….at least for awhile.”

Cheers rang out. Rosie didn’t hear a thing, but noting the excitement of her new friends, she wagged her tail until her entire body wiggled with delight. Relieved laughter rose from the group of volunteers. This was one of those days when everyone would go home feeling good about humanity.

Her foster parents, known by GHHS to be good, loving people, arrived at the end of the day. Leash in hand, Debbie and Larry stooped to meet their new ward. Instinctively, they knew to gently touch her flank to get her attention. Rosie turned to face them. And so started a love affair.

Larry and Debbie had Rosie one week. As all foster parents do, they committed to bringing Rosie each Saturday for possible adoption. When they arrived, volunteers read their faces and knew something was up. They weren’t dropping Rosie off to be adopted. They had come to adopt her. In one week, they had become a family. Lucky Rosie had found a home.

In a note to GHHS, Debbie wrote “Last weekend we purchased several toys that we thought Rosie would like, but when we offered them to her she didn't seem interested in anything. The next day she began tossing the toys, playing fetch, and generally having a ball with all of the toys. She constantly surprises us with how smart she is. Rosie seems very happy here with us (and the cats). She is quite entertaining at times and is better than TV. If you touch the leash, Rosie is ready to go for a ride."

Debbie and Larry see beyond the Rosie’s limitations. And although their commitment deserves praise, they are quick to reject it. If praise is to be given, they shower it on Rosie, who brings a new dimension to their lives.

GHHS is a non-profit, all volunteer organization which rescues abandoned and abused pets. They do not own a facility. Rescued pets live in foster homes until they are adopted. While the animals are cared for in the foster home, they have an opportunity to recover from any cruelty they have experienced while developing proper house manners. Most important, they learn to trust again. Foster parents learn the animal’s individual personality and habits, which enables GHHS volunteers to help the potential adopters choose a pet which will best fit into their family. The public is invited to visit these rescued pets at the Newnan Petsmart on Bullsboro Drive every Saturday between the hours of 10:30 am and 4:30 pm. Photos of the pets may be seen at their website www.gaheartland.com.

Although donations are always welcome, GHHS is most in need of loving foster homes. All medical care, food, and supplies are provided by GHHS. The foster family agrees to treat the pet as a member of their family and to bring the pet to Saturday adoptions. If you would like to foster a pet, please call GHHS at (770) 830-2820.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Giving Transcends Species in Yerkes Study

Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, have shown capuchin monkeys, just like humans, find giving to be a satisfying experience. This finding comes on the coattails of a recent imaging study in humans that documented activity in reward centers of the brain after humans gave to charity. Empathy in seeing the pleasure of another's fortune is thought to be the impetus for sharing, a trait this study shows transcends primate species.

The study is available online in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Frans de Waal, PhD, director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes Research Center, and Kristi Leimgruber, research specialist, led a team of researchers who exchanged tokens for food with eight adult female capuchins. Each capuchin was paired with a relative, an unrelated familiar female from her own social group or a stranger (a female from a different group). The capuchins then were given the choice of two tokens: the selfish option, which rewarded that capuchin alone with an apple slice; or the prosocial option, which rewarded both capuchins with an apple slice. The monkeys predominantly selected the prosocial token when paired with a relative or familiar individual but not when paired with a stranger.

"The fact the capuchins predominantly selected the prosocial option must mean seeing another monkey receive food is satisfying or rewarding for them," said de Waal. "We believe prosocial behavior is empathy based. Empathy increases in both humans and animals with social closeness, and in our study, closer partners made more prosocial choices. They seem to care for the welfare of those they know," continued de Waal.

de Waal and his research team next will attempt to determine whether giving is self-rewarding to capuchins because they can eat together or if the monkeys simply like to see the other monkey enjoying food.

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