Saturday, January 31, 2009

Salix, LLC Recalls 6" Peanut Butter Filled Shank Bone Because Of Possible Salmonella Health Risk

Salix LLC of Deerfield Beach, FL a manufacturer of rawhide dog chew products, is voluntarily recalling its Healthy Hide 6” Peanut Butter Filled Shank Bone because it contains peanut butter made by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). PCA is the focus of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation into potential salmonella contamination of peanut butter and paste. This product therefore has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. While the risk of animals contracting salmonellosis is minimal, there is risk to humans from handling these products. People handling dry pet food and/or treats can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the chews or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, 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. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

The voluntarily recalled peanut butter-filled shank bone was sold through National Retailers in the U.S.

The product comes in a clear plastic bag with attached header card and the name Healthy Hide is on the front. The package is a 1-count 6” Peanut Butter Filled Shank Bone and the Universal Product Code is 0-91093-33479-0. All packages are marked with one of the following lot codes: between CP 20081508 and CP 20012209. This code can be found on the backside of the package.

Salix is not aware of any reported cases of illness related to this or any other products.
Customers who purchased the recalled dog treats should discontinue use immediately and can return the product to the retail store where it was purchased for a complete refund or exchange. Customers can contact individual retailers with questions.

No other products or flavors are included in this recall.

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World's Largest Collection Of White Alligators

(NAPSI)-What's more than 40 feet long, has blue eyes and 328 razor-sharp teeth? To see the answer up close, you need to travel to the "Alligator Capital of the World" in Orlando, Fla.

On display for a limited engagement, four of the world's largest white leucistic alligators are residing at Gatorland. Ivory in color, the large reptiles are each 10-to-11-plus feet in length, weigh over 800 pounds and have reflective blue eyes that are believed to have the ability to command good fortune to those lucky enough to make eye contact with them.

No one knows why Mother Nature produced only one nest of these incredible white alligators to roam the planet. Vulnerable to many predators, because of the lack of skin pigmentation, depriving them of natural camouflage, they likely would have never survived in the wild.

Collected from deep in a Louisiana swamp, the ivory reptiles with attitude were part of a clutch of 17 infants recovered by workers from the Louisiana Land and Exploration Company while surveying the area. The group later brought the hatchlings to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans where only a few of the rare reptiles survived.

Now located along the theme park's main walkway, the cleverly designed 2,500-square-foot exhibit allows guests the opportunity to view these amazing reptiles from just a few feet away. The swamp-themed exhibit features rustic cypress walkways, glass viewing and softly lit enclosures that help protect the massive reptiles from direct sunlight while highlighting the unique features of the alligators.

"People are awestruck when they see them, and just one look into those icy, blue eyes will give you chills," says Mark McHugh, president and CEO of Gatorland. "We're excited to bring these thrilling animals to Florida."

And there's good news for anyone who wants to wrestle a hungry alligator: Gatorland is launching its 60th Anniversary celebration with a hunt for wild and wonderful photos, postcards and souvenirs commemorating the theme park's exhibits and shows since 1949. This one-of-a-kind contest offers something for everyone. For more information, log on to www.gatorland.com.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Smithsonian Scientist Helps to Solve a Deep-Sea Mystery

For decades scientists have known about three different fishes called tapetails, bignose fishes and whalefishes. A team of scientists, including Smithsonian ichthyologist Dave Johnson, however, have recently discovered that they are actually all part of the same family. The team’s findings were published in the journal Biology Letters by the Royal Society in London last week.

The mid-depths of the ocean between sunlit surface waters and the bottom, known as the bathypelagic realm (1,000-4,000 meters), constitute the largest yet most poorly studied ecological area on Earth. Recently captured deep-sea fishes and older museum specimens have enabled scientists to solve a decades-old puzzle, uniting three previously recognized families as one. Johnson and the team studied the DNA and the very different body structures of the tapetails (Mirapinnidae), bignose fish (Megalomycteridae) and whalefish (Cetomimidae) and found that the three are actually the larvae, males and females, respectively, of a single family: Cetomimidae. The scientists have documented a remarkable combination of developmental transformations and sexual dimorphism (the difference in appearance between males and females) that is unparalleled among vertebrates. The solution involved detailed analyses of changes in the anatomy of specimens in transition from larvae to females and larvae to males and DNA analyses of all three life stages.

“This is an incredibly significant and exciting finding,” said Johnson, from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. “For decades scientists have wondered why all tapetails were sexually immature, all bignose fishes were males and all whalefishes were females and had no known larval stages. The answer to part of that question was right under our noses all along—the specimens of tapetails and bignose fishes that were used to describe their original families included transitional forms—we just needed to study them more carefully.”

A molecular clue and fresh specimens spurred Johnson and co-author John Paxton, of the Australian Museum, to look more closely, and then came the fortuitous capture of a transitional female in 2007 by co-author Tracey Sutton of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. With that, the Japanese team, led by Masaki Miya of Chiba University’s Natural History Museum and Institute, analyzed DNA from additional specimens, and it all fell into place. “This is the sort of puzzle solving that a scientist dreams about!”

Morphological transformations of whalefishes involve dramatic changes in the skeleton, most spectacularly in the head, and are correlated with distinctly different feeding mechanisms. Larvae have small, upturned mouths and gorge on small crustaceans called copepods. Females have huge gapes with long, horizontal jaws and specialized gill arches allowing them to capture larger prey. Males, on the other hand, lose their stomach and esophagus after transformation and so, do not eat; they rely instead on a huge liver to support their search for females. Whalefishes, which are not whale-like in size (females grow up to 16 inches and mature males are no larger than 2.5 inches) are named for the shape of their body. The approximately 20 known species of whalefishes are found throughout the world’s open oceans.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The HSUS Calls on the Whigham, Ga. Community Club to End Rattlesnake Roundup

The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, is calling on the Whigham Community Club to end the annual rattlesnake roundup in Whigham, Ga. and instead follow the compassionate lead of other communities by hosting an event that will celebrate, rather than destroy, rattlesnakes and promote stewardship of Georgia's wildlife and ecosystems.

"The Humane Society of the United States strongly opposes rattlesnake roundups," said Cheryl McAuliffe, Georgia state director for The Humane Society of the United States. "These senseless events are not only detrimental to threatened species and the environment, but they also perpetuate false, negative myths about rattlesnakes and other reptiles."

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake, the federally threatened indigo snake and other animals live in the burrows of gopher tortoises — also a federally threatened species. In the months prior to these events, hunters are known to use gasoline and other toxic substances to flush rattlesnakes from burrows, injuring and killing rattlesnakes and a variety of non-target animals in the process.

"Gassing" is illegal in Georgia, but because the law is difficult to enforce, state wildlife officials admit that gassing is still the primary method of collecting snakes for roundups. Not only does gasoline harm animals in the burrow, it also makes the burrow uninhabitable to other animals in the future. In addition, gasoline may contaminate the soil and nearby groundwater.

Following capture, the snakes are typically piled on top of one another and left in crowded crates or trash cans without food or water for weeks or months. As a result, many snakes are crushed to death or slowly suffer and die from overheating, starvation or dehydration prior to these events.

For these reasons, The HSUS urges the Whigham Community Club to accept its offer to work with event organizers to transform the roundup into a community festival designed to raise revenue for charitable causes while promoting appreciation for rattlesnakes and other native Georgia wildlife.

Facts

Community organizers in Fitzgerald, Ga. and San Antonio, Fla. have successfully transformed their traditional rattlesnake roundups into festivals that promote co-existence and wildlife stewardship.
Rattlesnakes play a vital role in Georgia's native ecosystems. These animals keep rodent populations in check and are an important source of prey for raptors and other animals.

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Salix Voluntarily Recalls Dog Treat Due to Possible Health Risk

Salix, a manufacturer of rawhide dog chew products, is voluntarily recalling its Healthy-hide Deli-wrap 3-Pack 5” Peanut Butter-Filled Rawhide dog treats that contain peanut butter made by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). PCA is the focus of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation into potential salmonella contamination of peanut butter and paste.

The voluntarily recalled peanut butter-filled rawhide treats are sold at PetSmart, Target and Wegmans Food Stores throughout the U.S. and Canada. Although Salix is not aware of any reported cases of illness related to these products, it has issued this voluntary recall as a precautionary measure. The UPC of the voluntarily recalled product is 09109333354.

The product comes in a clear plastic bag with attached header card and the name Deli Wraps on the front. The package is a 3-count of 5” chew treats and the Universal Product Code is 0-91093-33354-0. All packages are marked with one of the following lot codes: A 08 208, A 08 212, A 08 232, A 08 234, A 08 263, A 08 264, A 08 268, A 08 275, A 08 276 or A 08 277. This code can be found on the backside of the header card.

Customers who purchased the recalled dog treats should discontinue use immediately and can return the product to the retail store where it was purchased for a complete refund or exchange. Customers can contact individual retailers with questions:

PetSmart: 1-888-839-9638
Target: 1-800-440-0680
Wegmans: 1-800-934-WEGMANS ext. 4760

No other products or flavors are included in this recall.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Carolina Prime Pet Announces Nationwide Recall of Dog Treats

Carolina Prime Pet, a manufacturer and distributor of dog treats, is voluntarily recalling four of its dog treats that contain peanut butter made by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). PCA is the focus of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation into potential salmonella contamination of peanut butter and paste.

Salmonella is an organism that can potentially be transferred to people handling these pet treats, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products. Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, 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. Well animals can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

The recalled treats are sold at various retail establishments in the U.S. and Canada. Although Carolina Prime Pet is not aware of any reported cases of illness related to these products, it has issued this voluntary recall as a precautionary measure.

The recalled products include only the following types of Carolina Prime Pet treats in single unit packages with lot date codes between 081508 and 010909:

* 6" Beef Shank Peanut Butter, UPC 063725542007
* 2pk Hooves Peanut Butter, UPC 063725542000
* 4" Rawhide Bone Peanut Butter, UPC 063725542003
* 6" Rawhide Bone Peanut Butter, UPC 063725542005
* 6” Healthy Hide Beef Shank Peanut Butter, UPC 09109333479

Customers who purchased the recalled dog treats should discontinue use immediately, and return items to the purchase location for replacement or refund.

No other products or flavors are included in this recall.

Further information call Carolina Prime Pet at 1-888-370-2360.

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Progress Made Towards Mitigating Sea Turtle Bycatch in Coastal Net Fisheries

Growing evidence is indicating that small-scale artisanal fisheries may be the largest single threat to some sea turtle populations. These fisheries use gill nets, pound nets, large fixed fish traps and other static gear that inadvertently catch, tangle and drown the turtles. The three-day Technical Workshop on Mitigating Sea Turtle Bycatch in Coastal Net Fisheries, which concluded Thursday in Honolulu, made significant strides towards addressing this threat.

“Large numbers of turtles, especially North Pacific loggerheads, are caught and killed each year by pound nets and gillnets,” explained Kitty Simonds, executive director of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, which convened the workshop. “Transferring new gear technology and other mitigation measures from net fisheries where progress has been made to address this problem to similar fisheries in other regions was one of the major objectives of the workshop.”

Pound nets are used extensively around the coastal waters of Japan and other parts of East Asia, while gillnets are employed around the Pacific Rim and in the Pacific Islands. The workshop looked at promising solutions from the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans to minimize turtle catches in both types of gear. For example, while many fisheries use pound nets that have submerged catch chambers in which captive turtles drown, other pound nets have an open catching chamber where turtles can reach the surface to breathe.

The workshop provided the first opportunity for experts from multiple relevant disciplines to share information from 20 gillnet and pound-net fisheries worldwide. Participants reviewed the assessment status and mitigation activities of the fisheries; shared information on effective, affordable gear to mitigate sea turtle capture and injury in coastal net fisheries; identified research priorities to advance turtle-friendly gear and fishing methods; and explored the range of tools available to assess, mitigate and manage sea turtle bycatch in artisanal fisheries.

“The meeting fostered new partnerships and has effectively advanced the transfer of best practices for bycatch mitigation in artisanal coastal net fisheries,” said Eric Gilman, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) marine science advisor.

The workshop is the latest in a decade long series of initiatives by the Council’s Protected Species Program to recover Pacific sea turtle populations. The workshop included 49 participants from 17 countries, representing intergovernmental organizations, fishery agencies, national fishery management authorities, environmental non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, fishing industries and donor organizations. It was co-hosted by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), the Indian Ocean–South-East Asian Marine Turtle MoU (IOSEA) and the US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Southeast Fisheries Science Center.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Celebrating America's Love Of Mixed-Breed Dogs

(NAPSI)-There's a brand-new playing field for mixed-breed dogs, and it's offering their owners a long-awaited shot of pride.

The American Mutt-i-grees™ Club (AMC) is giving 50 million mixed-breed dogs the voice and the status they deserve. With its own Web site, AMC is committed to changing the perception of mixed breeds and promotes adoption as the responsible way to obtain a pet.

The site was created by the Pet Savers Foundation, the developmental arm of North Shore Animal League America (NSALA), the world's largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization. With Kathryn Erbe, co-star of TV's "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," serving as spokesperson, AMC registers and provides personalized certificates to mixed-breed dogs.

"People are incredibly proud of their mixed breeds, and the time is right for there to be a way for them to communicate, share ideas and celebrate their choice," says J. John Stevenson, president of NSALA and managing director of the foundation.

Mutt-i-grees "occupy a very different space" from the existing registries and clubs, says Stevenson. "We want to rally the 25 million mixed-breed dog owners, many of whom own more than one dog, to raise awareness and promote regulation to diminish the stronghold of puppy mills and irresponsible breeders."

Stevenson believes AMC will not only be appreciated, but will change, over time, the way many view mixed-breed dogs in general. Mixed breeds make up more than three-fourths of the dogs that enter shelters and are the majority of the more than 3 million dogs euthanized in shelters every year.

The AMC Web site offers expert pet advice, dog adoption referrals, shopping, community and other member benefits. There's also a Mutt-i-grees Clubhouse where kids can log on with an adult and find ways to get involved with the program, even if they don't own a dog.

The Yale University School of the 21st Century is also involved with AMC in developing a Web-based school curriculum concentrating on humane education programs delivered in the context of core subjects, and will extend to community-based preschool and after-school programs.

For more information about American Mutt-i-grees Club, visit www.muttigrees.org.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

One Look and It's Love

AAG Note: It's a great day to fall in love. Perhaps you have room in your heart and home for these cuties?


JAZZY Meet Jazzy the Jazzerciser!!!!!!! I mean really, how fast can her tail wag.....she’s such a happy and exuberant dog. Jazzy loves to play with other dogs and people. But with people she’s also fond of giving kisses and sitting in laps! After finding Jazzy running in the street, we soon discovered Jazzy’s “owner” had a new puppy and had discarded Jazzy to fend for herself. Fortunately for Jazzy, that has turned into a good thing since she will now get to be a loved and wanted member of a family. She so much wants a person to love. Until we rescued her, Jazzy had spent all of her time as an outside dog but she is now crate trained and enjoys being in the house. She also loves running and playing in the yard and would thrive with another dog to play with or a person who could engage in activities to keep her busy! Jazzy would do best with a male dog or a submissive female dog. She seems to not like little dogs but is good with cats. Jazzy is not hyper or destructive. According to her former owner, Jazzy is a small boxer that has not been docked or cropped. We know Jazzy is good with older kids as she was “taken care of” mostly by two boys 9 and 12 years old. Jazzy minds well but we believe for her safety she should have a fenced yard. She is around two years old, spayed, up to date on shots and his heartworm negative. Perhaps you have a place in your heart and family for Jazzy?

SASHA There’s no greater joy for Sasha than being with the people she loves and trusts. She really will melt your heart with her affection, attention and love. Sasha likes to go for rides in the car, walks in the woods or take naps with you while you are “watching TV.” We discovered Sasha when we stopped at a house (shack) that had a sign in the yard….free puppies. Sasha was the chained momma dog with 3 remaining pups. We rescued the pups but had to leave Sasha. A month later we had Sasha fully vetted and spayed. About six months later, we were finally “allowed” to take Sasha away from that dangerous environment….and she has just blossomed ever since. She would do well as a single dog or with a male companion/playmate. She’s fine with children and cats. No idea about her breed mix……we fondly say she’s a mix of yummy and sweetheart. Sasha is micro chipped. She is crate trained. She weighs between 35 and 45 pounds; is between 2-3 years old, spayed, up to date on shots and is heartworm negative. We’re looking for someone to love Sasha as much as she will love them…could you be the lucky one?

For further information contact: Cheryl @ 678-877-1948 or Jill @ 770-599-1942
or email whiskerj@comcast.net

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Give Your Pet the Perfect Valentine -- A Healthy Smile

(ARA) - What’s a great Valentine’s Day present for your pet? Candy is definitely out -- chocolate is poisonous to dogs and cats, and hard candy can cause bowel obstructions. Ditto with flowers -- many are poisonous to cats and dogs. Instead, why not give your pet a healthy smile?

February isn’t just the month celebrating Valentine’s Day, it’s also National Pet Dental Health Month. While the American Dental Association estimates that about 80 percent of us brush our own teeth at least twice a day, most of us completely neglect our pets’ teeth. The fact is, animals have teeth that must be maintained, just like our own teeth. And just like us, dogs and cats can suffer with gingivitis or periodontal disease.

"There are many symptoms of dental disease to watch out for, including bad, almost putrid, breath," explains Dr. James Cook, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. "Your pet could be in a lot of pain, and you might not realize it. For example, if you see your pet approach a bowl of food then back away, that could be a sign of tooth pain. Your animal can’t tell you he or she is suffering or in pain, so it’s important to get your pet’s teeth checked by your veterinarian."

Here are six Valentines to give your pet during Pet Dental Health Month:

* Brush their teeth.
Specially made toothpaste in flavors like chicken, seafood, beef and mint and soft, pet-friendly toothbrushes are available at pet supply stores or from your veterinarian. With some training (visit www.avmatv.com for a 5.5 minute instructional video) pets can learn to tolerate or even enjoy a daily brushing.

* A dental checkup.
If you’ve never had your veterinarian check your pet’s teeth, your pet is long overdue. Schedule an appointment today. Veterinarians recommend at least an annual checkup of your pet’s teeth. If periodontal disease is found, your pet can be sedated for teeth cleaning.

* Give a rawhide treat.
Rawhide is that piece of raw leather your dog looks forward to so much, but it also helps scrub plaque off your pet’s teeth. A small daily treat that makes a dog so happy could save money at the veterinarian years from now and save your dog’s teeth. Check with your veterinarian to make sure rawhide is an appropriate treat for your dog.

* Wrap up a rope toy.
Rope toys for dogs and cats help keep plaque and gingivitis at bay. Just carrying a rope toy in their mouth helps to keep an animal’s teeth clean, and playing with it does an even better job.

* Try dental treats.
Specially made dental treats are available at pet stores and at your veterinarian’s office. These treats are made to be difficult to chew and swallow, and are shaped to help scrub teeth as they’re consumed.

* A pet food present.
Consider feeding your pet a specially formulated pet food designed to improve dental health in pets.

For more information on pet dental health visit www.avma.org or www.avmatv.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy Tails and Shoppers Valu Brand Multi-Flavored Dog Biscuits Recalled as Part of Nationwide Peanut Corporation of America Recall

Shaw's is voluntarily recalling Happy Tails and Shoppers Valu multi-flavored dog biscuit products because they may contain peanut butter that has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. The precautionary move follows a nationwide recall issued by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) of peanut butter and peanut paste produced in its Blakely, Georgia processing facility.

According to the FDA, 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. Well animals can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

The products were sold at Shaw's stores. The identified items have not been directly linked to the salmonella outbreak. However, because the safety of customers, and in this case their pets, is a top priority and out of an abundance of caution, Shaw's has voluntarily recalled the products.

This product recall includes all:

Product Name and Description: Happy Tails Multi-Flavored Dog Biscuits, 26 oz

UPC#: 41163-42406

Product Name and Description: Happy Tails Multi-Flavored Dog Biscuits, 4 lb

UPC#: 41163-42403

Product Name and Description: Shoppers Valu Multi-Flavored Dog Biscuits, 4 lb

UPC#: 41130-30507

Customers who purchased the recalled dog biscuit products can bring the product back to a Shaw's store location for a full refund or exchange.

No other products are currently included in this recall. Based on information from the FDA at this time, the peanut butter for sale in Shaw's stores is not affected by the recall issued by Peanut Corporation of America.

Customers with questions can contact SUPERVALU Inc. at 877.932.7948. Customers can visit the FDA Web page at www.fda.gov for more information and updates on the situation.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Conservationists Fighting To Save Entangled Right Whales

Another entangled North Atlantic right whale was spotted off the coast of Georgia this week. This is the third entangled right whale to be spotted off the coasts of Georgia and northern Florida since the beginning of December. During the winter months, the waters off the southeastern U.S. are a calving ground for North Atlantic right whales. In a typical calving season, only one to two entangled right whales are sighted over a five-month period.

An aerial survey team from Wildlife Trust spotted the entangled right whale Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. about 18 miles to the east of Brunswick, Georgia. It was immediately apparent to the survey team that the whale was entangled due to the large amount of gear around the whale’s head and trailing behind the whale.

“We could see from the plane that the whale was smaller, only about 40 feet in length, and yet it was dragging five body lengths of line behind it as it swam through the water,” said Patricia Naessig, right whale aerial survey coordinator for Wildlife Trust. The whale has since been identified as a six-year-old juvenile born in 2003. Adult right whales are known to reach 45 to 50 feet in length and can weight up to 55 tons.

As the aerial survey team tracked the whale, a boat based disentanglement team consisting of biologists from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Wildlife Trust headed out yesterday afternoon in hopes of possibly removing some of the gear from the whale.

Once the disentanglement team arrived on the scene, they quickly noted that there were multiple lines going through the whale’s mouth that twisted together on the left side of the whale’s head, with three trailing lines each extending about 200 feet behind the whale. Of particular interest was an orange buoy wrapped tightly into the entangling gear. If the buoy can be retrieved at some point, it will give biologists a better idea of where the whale first became entangled.

Just before sunset, the disentanglement team was successful in cutting off nearly 175 yards of synthetic rope approximately ½ inch in diameter. They were also able to collect a biopsy sample that may be used to determine the sex of the young whale. Additionally, a tracking buoy was attached to the remaining trailing line on the whale. The tracking buoy will allow for the whale to be located again for further documentation and disentanglement attempts.

“For now the whale appears to be in pretty decent condition,” said Clay George, a biologist with the DNR Nongame Conservation Section. “However there are significant cuts from the gear and it will more than likely deteriorate without further intervention.”

Last seen off the coast of Florida near Jacksonville, the case is being assessed by NOAA and other agencies to determine further action. An aerial survey team and boat based team from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) set out today from Florida to attempt to photograph the whale. It is hoped that further documentation of the entanglement will allow researchers to determine the best plan of action to help the whale.

“While we don’t know at this time what type of gear it is, we do know that it is consistent with what has been previously found on the other two whales this season and in the past,” George said. “More than likely we will find that it is not gear from the southeast.”

Previously recovered gear including lobster traps and long-lines has been traced back to the northeastern waters of New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces.

“We are seeing right whales off of Georgia and Florida that have dragged lobster pot ropes over one thousand miles,” said Brad Winn, Program Manager for DNR Nongame Conservation Section. “A number of these whales are critically entangled, and will ultimately die from being wrapped and cut by the lines. This is a serious and chronic issue that needs to be addressed if this species is going to continue to exist.”

NOAA will be conducting an investigation going forward.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Georgia Feline Friend License Plate Unveiled Today

State officials unveiled a new license plate today benefiting Georgia’s spay/neuter program. The new license plate depicts a black and white tuxedo cat. Proceeds from sales of the Feline Friend license plate will directly benefit the Dog and Cat Sterilization Program, which provides spay/neuter subsidies to Georgians statewide and performs educational outreach on this healthy choice.

The Feline Friend license plate joins the Program’s two other designs, the Buddy and Animal Friend license plates. Since November 2003, almost $2.9 million has been earned to specifically fund subsidies and education. In addition to license plate sales, which provide the Program’s primary funding source, the State Income Tax Checkoff is another means of supporting the Program’s critical efforts.

“By adding the new Feline Friend license plate we hope to appeal to cat lovers throughout Georgia to help us with this important program,” said Commissioner Irvin. “We hope that everyone goes out and buys this tag for their vehicles.”

Unlike other spay/neuter programs, the DCSP has no income requirements. Any Georgia resident may benefit from the program. Interested residents should contact their local veterinarians to confirm program participation. More than 41,000 spay/neuter surgeries have been performed on animals in all 159 Georgia counties. To date, 1,004 veterinarians currently participate in the Program. For complete Program information and to find a participating veterinarian in their area, Georgians are invited to contact the Program by visiting www.agr.georgia.gov or by calling (404) 656-3667.

Georgians may purchase any of the Program’s license plates for their vehicles from county tag offices throughout Georgia for a $25.00 one-time fee. More than $22.00 from each license plate sold directly benefits the DCSP. These funds are allocated only for spay/neuter procedures and educational outreach on this healthy choice. Georgians may also contribute to the DCSP in honor or memory of a loved one. Contributions are 100% tax-deductible and provide much-needed funding to help curb the epidemic of pet overpopulation in our state.

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American Kennel Club Reveals Atlanta's Top Dogs

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Kennel Club(R) has announced the "Top 10" most popular AKC(R) registered breeds in Atlanta, Georgia for 2008.*

The AKC also announced their nationwide registration statistics which revealed that for the 18th consecutive year, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular purebred in America. But, while more than twice as many Labs were registered last year than any other breed, making it a likely leader for many years to come, the Bulldog continues to amble its way up the list. It made news last year by returning to the AKC's Top 10 for the first time in over 70 years and now has jumped 6 percent, advancing two spots to land in 8th place.

Here's a look at Atlanta's Top 10 breeds as compared to the rest of the country:

ATLANTA 2008 NATIONWIDE 2008

1. Labrador Retriever 1. Labrador Retriever
2. Golden Retriever 2. Yorkshire Terrier
3. Boxer 3. German Shepherd Dog
4. German Shepherd Dog 4. Golden Retriever
5. Yorkshire Terrier 5. Beagle
6. Dachshund 6. Boxer
7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 7. Dachshund
8. Shih Tzu 8. Bulldog
9. Doberman Pinscher 9. Poodle
10. Bulldog 10. Shih Tzu


* Registration data pulled from Atlanta zip codes as specified by U.S. Postal Service

"The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel which saw increase popularity in 2007 moving from seventh to fourth most popular breed, took a small down turn returning to seventh most popular breed in Atlanta for 2008," said AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson. "The Bulldog, a national favorite, edged its way into Atlanta's Top 10, moving from eleventh place."

Dog lovers can see and learn more about all of their favorite breeds on Saturday, January 31, 2009 when the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship -- where country's top dogs compete for $225,000 in prize money and the title of "National Champion" -- airs on Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel from 8-11 p.m. (ET/PT). Highlights from the AKC Agility Invitational will air on Animal Planet on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009 at 8 p.m. (ET/PT).

Visit http://www.akc.org/reg/dogreg_stats.cfm for information on other cities and the complete list of national rankings.

The American Kennel Club proudly celebrates its 125th Anniversary in 2009. Since 1884 the not-for-profit organization has maintained the largest registry of purebred dogs in the world and oversees the sport of purebred dogs in the United States. The AKC is dedicated to upholding the integrity of its registry, promoting the sport of purebred dogs and breeding for type and function. Along with its nearly 5,000 licensed and member clubs and its affiliated organizations, the AKC advocates for the purebred dog as a family companion, advances canine health and well-being, works to protect the rights of all dog owners and promotes responsible dog ownership. More than 20,000 competitions for AKC-registered purebred dogs are held under AKC rules and regulations each year including conformation, agility, obedience, rally, tracking, herding, lure coursing, coonhound events, hunt tests, field and earthdog tests. Affiliate AKC organizations include the AKC Humane Fund, AKC Canine Health Foundation, AKC Companion Animal Recovery and the AKC Museum of the Dog. For more information, visit www.akc.org.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

PetSmart Voluntarily Recalls Grreat Choice® Dog Biscuits

PetSmart is voluntarily recalling seven of its Grreat Choice® Dog Biscuit products that contain peanut paste made by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). PCA is the focus of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation into potential salmonella contamination of peanut butter and paste made at its Blakely, Georgia facility.

Although PetSmart is not aware of any reported cases of illness related to these products, it has removed these products from its store shelves and website and is conducting the recall as a precautionary measure.

The recalled products include only the following types of Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits sold between Aug. 21, 2008 and Jan. 19, 2009:

* Small Assorted 32 oz., UPC 73725702900
* Small/Medium Assorted 4 lb., UPC 73725700601
* Small/Medium Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700605
* Small/Medium Assorted 10 lb., UPC 73725702755
* Large Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700638
* Extra Large Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700779
* Peanut Butter 4 lb., UPC 73725700766

Customers who purchased the recalled dog biscuit products should discontinue use immediately and can return the product to any PetSmart store for a complete refund or exchange. Customers can visit www.petsmartfacts.com for more information or contact PetSmart Customer Service at 1-888-839-9638.

No other products or flavors are included in this recall.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Comment Sought on New Invasives Species Plan

A draft plan that targets more than 180 invasive species threatening Georgia’s rich variety of native wildlife is available for public comment.

The Georgia Invasive Species Strategy describes the complex scope of problems posed by non-native plants, animals and disease-causing organisms and proposes ways to lessen the impacts in a state ranked sixth in the nation in biological diversity.

Jon Ambrose, assistant chief of the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division’s Nongame Conservation Section, said the strategy provides a framework that will help communicate and coordinate invasive species management priorities.

“There are a lot of organizations that are active in this area. The Invasive Species Strategy is intended to provide a picture of where we are now and where we want to go in the future,” Ambrose said.

Copies are available at www.georgiawildlife.com (click the “Conservation” tab to reach the link) or from the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division office in Social Circle (770-761-3035). A public comment meeting is set for 5:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Wildlife Resources Division’s Conservation Center in Social Circle. For directions, go to www.georgiawildlife.com.

The deadline to submit comments is Feb. 16. Send written comments to jon.ambrose@gadnr.org or Jon Ambrose, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, 2070 U.S. Highway 278 S.E., Social Circle, Ga.30025.

Invasives are plants and animals accidentally or intentionally introduced outside their natural ranges and which cause harm to the environment, economy or even human health. For example, laurel wilt, a fungal disease spread by an ambrosia beetle that is not native to the U.S., is killing redbay trees and related species in the Southeastern Coastal Plain. Redbays are a food source for birds and deer, and a critical host plant for the Palamedes swallowtail butterfly.

Cogongrass, another priority invasive species, is an aggressive, colony-forming grass that chokes out native plants and is spreading across the region. The Georgia Forestry Commission has established a statewide Cooperative Weed Management Area and Task Force to help control cogongrass.

The draft Invasive Species Strategy, compiled by an advisory committee representing about 30 public agencies and non-governmental organizations, summarizes what is being done to combat invaders, identifies gaps in current programs, and recommends improvements. Objectives are aimed at guarding against the influx of more non-native species and minimizing the threat of those already here.

The Georgia Invasive Species Advisory Committee listed 51 invasive or potentially invasive plant species, 107 animals and 30 disease-causing organisms.

Next steps could include funding for an invasive species coordinator, development of new educational materials and formation of a rapid response plan for priority species.

The overriding goal of the work started in August 2007 is enhancing collaboration among invasive species efforts statewide, which will increase effectiveness and options for funding.

The Invasive Species Strategy follows on the heels of a related document that deals with aquatic exotics and was also compiled by the advisory committee. The Georgia Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan is being reviewed by a federal task force before being finalized.

Both plans build on current efforts of groups such as the Georgia Invasive Species Task Force to identify high-priority species, assess impacts and threats, implement control methods, and educate the public about the environmental and economic impacts of invasive species.

Georgia’s Wildlife Action Plan, the conservation blueprint for the state Department of Natural Resources, rates invasive species a major threat to biodiversity and lists development of a statewide plan to monitor and control them as a high priority. On a national scale, the economic losses and environmental damage caused by exotic species total approximately $120 billion a year.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Project to Trap, Track Godwits Means Long Day at the Beach

Cannons firing, people running, adrenaline pumping: no, it is not war; it’s banding birds – marbled godwits, to be precise.

The marbled godwit is a large migratory shorebird that nests in the grasslands of the Plains states and central Canada, as well as in Alaska and, in small numbers, eastern Canada. Godwits winter on the West, Gulf and East coast, including in Georgia. The birds will stay here until late April or early May, with a few juveniles remaining throughout the summer.

The marbled godwit is in decline, at least in part due to habitat loss, and listed by the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan as a high-priority species. Understanding the connections between winter habitats, nesting areas and migration stops for the various populations is vital to managing habitat for the species. The connections are also the focus of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service project encompassing North America.

On this chilly December morning, a group headed by Brad Winn, coastal nongame program manager for the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, has spent most of the last several hours setting a trap to capture and satellite-track these cinnamon-colored birds with the upturned bills.

As part of the continent-wide project, small transmitters attached to the godwits will help biologists determine where the birds migrate and nest, what their movements are throughout winter, and other general location data. The marbled godwit is listed as a high-priority species in the State Wildlife Action Plan, a comprehensive strategy guiding Wildlife Resources and Georgia Department of Natural Resources efforts to conserve biological diversity.

The site is carefully chosen based on tide levels and bird sightings from the previous day. A trench is dug in the sand and the net laid. Two 4-by-6-inch blocks of wood with round metal pipes attached serve as cannons. They are filled with gunpowder and half buried in the sand after being attached to each side of the net with rebar. A wire attached to the fuses winds across the long stretch of beach to where the researchers are hiding … and waiting.

When it comes to catching birds, timing is everything.

After the trap is set, everyone sits back and waits. A variety of birds have begun to congregate in the target area, including American oystercatchers, long-billed curlews and, of course, marbled godwits. The hope is that as the tide comes in, the birds will move into the “net zone.”

Concentration and constant communication are crucial. Farther down the beach, Winn watches with a scope and radios. Chris Depkin, a wildlife biologist, is hiding in a different spot and holding the fuse.

“Not yet, just a little more,” says Winn, quietly urging the birds to move.

The window for capturing the birds is narrow. As the tide rises, they slowly move onto the sand bar and into the capture area. If the birds are not captured before the tide begins to recede, the chance will be lost, at least for today.

Sometimes they need a little help. Winn makes a call and two young men with a kayak soon come walking down the beach. Both have done this before and need little direction. Ben Morrison, a naturalist for Little St. Simons Island, pushes off and cautiously paddles towards the birds. The situation looks good, but anything can still go wrong.

If the birds become too wary, they will flush. If the kayak is too slow, the tide will come in and the birds will leave. Either outcome means everyone packs up and goes home for the day.

The kayak does its job. The birds scuttle almost imperceptibly to the right. Perfect.

What happens next seems like orchestrated chaos. Winn completes the countdown, the cannons are fired and then everyone is running toward the birds struggling in the net. Looks like a good catch.

Researchers work quickly to secure the trapped birds. Each is carefully removed and placed in plastic bins for carrying to the staging area where they will be measured, weighed, banded and examined. A few lucky birds will also receive the satellite transmitters.

When all have been sorted by species, the birds are secured under a large tarp, which shields them from the sun and helps them stay calm. Now the real work begins.

The team forms an assembly line of sorts to work faster. Winn and Depkin are in charge along with Scott Coleman, ecological manager from Little St. Simons Island. Starting with the godwits, they weigh each bird to determine if it is large enough to carry the 9.5-gram transmitter. They must weigh more than 300 grams to qualify. Two birds are selected.

The bird’s bills and a portion of their legs referred to as the tarsus are measured. Three feathers are plucked, two from the breast and one from the wing to be used for analysis. Tests that measure the ratio of stable isotopes can determine what the bird was feeding on when it grew the feather, giving researchers a more accurate picture of migration habits.

Wings are stretched to check for molting, which helps indicate the age of the bird, and then each leg receives both a metal band and a plastic band for identification. After a quick swab to test for avian influenza, volunteers photograph each bird and then finally it is released, its ordeal over.

The team works long into the evening, finishing as temperatures begin to drop into the 30s. The catch includes 11 marbled godwits and 44 American oystercatchers, a species listed as threatened in Georgia. Six of the oystercatchers and one godwit are re-captures, or birds previously banded. The re-captured oystercatchers include one from Virginia and one from North Carolina. The re-captured godwit had been banded in Georgia.

The Wildlife Resources Division has been banding marbled godwits and American oystercatchers since 2001. But researchers began the godwit transmitter project in Georgia last fall, thanks to a grant from The Environmental Resources Network, or TERN, the nonprofit advocacy group for Wildlife Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Soldier Takes Love of Animals to Job in Iraq

Army Spc. Jessica Opper has been taking care of animals since she was a child growing up in Cleveland and is continuing that tradition while deployed to Iraq.

As a child, Opper gladly took care of her family's horses and cats. At a young age, she even volunteered at a local stray animal clinic alongside her mother and brother.

While helping at the clinic, Opper took on jobs such as feeding, bathing and making sure the animals exercised. These tasks ultimately led her to decide to be an animal caretaker. Little did she realize that her dream would come true, and she would be taking care of specialized search dogs on the other side of the world while lending her support in the fight against terrorism.

Opper first joined the Army Reserve to work with the 4211th U.S. Army Hospital in San Diego, where she served as an animal care specialist, or veterinarian technician. After serving in the Reserve, Opper decided to re-enlist for active duty in 2007.

Opper's first assignment was at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where she took part in caring for specialized search dogs as part of the 94th Engineer Detachment (Canine). The detachment is attached to Multinational Division Baghdad's 890th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade.

Soon after, Opper found herself in Iraq doing her part to maintain the health of the animals whose jobs are vital to the success of the mission. The specialized search dogs are trained to locate hazards such as roadside bombs and weapons caches.

When the dog team goes out on missions, it is her job to take care of the animals at a moment's notice. Generally, dog handlers have a first-aid bag with the necessary tools to maintain the health of their partner dog. If for some reason handlers can't provide aid, they alert Opper for anything that requires immediate medical attention beyond their control.

"My job is to maintain the health of the dogs and to assist if there is a medical emergency," Opper said. "I've got a job where I play with dogs all day. I'm proud to say that I love my job.

"At a veterinarian clinic, you can do this all of the time," she said. "To have had the experience that I have managed to gain through this deployment is really good to have under my belt when I decide to do this type of work as a civilian veterinarian."

An ordinary day for Opper starts by making sure the dogs have the proper equipment before heading out. Checkups are a regular procedure, and if a dog needs a shot, Opper is the person to do the job. She said she enjoys her routine of playing with the dogs to help them relax before doing the exams.

Once the dogs have left for a mission, Opper helps with supplies and dispatching vehicles for her fellow soldiers. Her time also is occupied when she assumes full responsibility for a dog when its handler is on leave.

"You tend to get attached to the dogs, even if you're just keeping them until their handler comes back -- that can be a bummer. I love my job and being an animal lover just makes it that much better," Opper said.

On her downtime, Opper said she likes to relax by taking online classes to further her education in hopes of becoming a veterinarian. She also has taken an interest in learning to speak German because her grandfather is native to Germany, which Opper hopes to visit.

"Spc. Opper has done a great job in taking care of our beloved dogs," Army Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Harmon, the division's kennel master, said. "They are soldiers, too. Her knowledge and the fact that she truly enjoys her job really shows and truly contributes to our mission success."

(Author Army Sgt. Carmen Guerrero serves in the Multinational Division Baghdad's 890th Engineering Battalion, 926th Engineering Brigade public affairs office.)
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UGA Study may Give Hope that Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers Still Around

Until credible sightings popped up three years ago, the scientific world was in agreement that ivory-billed woodpeckers had gone the way of the dodo. A new study conducted by University of Georgia researchers reveals that the ivory-billed woodpecker could have persisted if as few as five mated pairs survived the extensive habitat loss during the early 1900’s. A new paper published in the online journal Avian Conservation and Ecology by researchers at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources adds another angle to the ongoing debate about modern existence of the birds.

Crow-sized and native to America’s ancient southeastern bottomland forests, the ivory-billed woodpecker was thought to have gone extinct following indiscriminate logging in the 1940s until reports began surfacing in the flooded forests of eastern Arkansas in 2004. Crisp photographic or genetic evidence continues to evade eager seekers, however, and controversy has raged about whether there were even enough of the woodpeckers left to keep the species going through the latter part of the 20th century.

“It doesn’t prove that they do exist,” said Warnell Professor Michael Conroy. “It just shows that they could have persisted.”

Conroy is one of several scientists on the team who conducted a population viability analysis, which was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Also on the team are Warnell post-doctoral students Brady Mattsson and Rua Mordecai, Warnell professors James Peterson and Robert Cooper, and Danish researcher Hans Christensen.

The ivory-billed woodpecker—nicknamed the “Lord God Bird” for its impressive physique and bold black and white plumage—has been the subject of intense debate among bird researchers. James Tanner, the only scientist to have studied this woodpecker intensively, estimated that only 24 breeding pairs remained in the 1930s. Although there have been credible sightings of the birds in Arkansas, Tennessee and the Florida panhandle, undisputed evidence of the woodpeckers has eluded ornithologists since the work of Tanner in the early 1900s. This lack of solid documentation has led many to question whether the ivory-billed woodpecker could still exist.

To find out, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ordered a multi-state, intensive search effort for the elusive bird and a population viability analysis, which, among other things, assesses the population size and other factors required for the population to persist over specified time frames.

Mattsson, a former doctoral student working with Cooper, took the lead on the modeling project by constructing the population model and conducting the analysis. Based on information gleaned from the literature and unpublished sources on closely-related species of woodpeckers, Mattsson considered plausible ranges of initial population size, reproduction rates and adult survival rates to play games of “what if” with simulated woodpecker populations. What he found was that as few as five breeding pairs of these large woodpeckers could have ensured the persistence of ivory-billed woodpeckers in wooded swamps of the southeastern U.S. to this day.

He said his model is not meant to prove their existence, but “it gives people involved with the research team hope that they’re still out there,” and shows that sufficient levels of reproduction and survival are as important, if not more important, than large numbers of individuals for ensuring persistence of the species.

Cooper said that initially it was thought that the ivory-billed woodpeckers had a very small chance of persisting through modern times, but he believes Mattsson’s analysis shows that the probability is larger than originally suspected.

Conroy is optimistic about implications from their findings for similar species thought to have blinked out of existence.

“I think it gives us hope that remnants of [species] out there that we thought were extinct are still out there,” he said.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Whale Rescue Attempt off Georgia Coast

A crew of whale "first responders" from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday rushed to the aid of a right whale entangled in fishing gear......More

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Save A Pet While Surfing The Web

(StatePoint) Something you and your family do frequently now can help save local pets in need of help. Simply by searching the Internet you can lend a paw to dogs and cats in communities nationwide.

Tough economic times are hitting even the smallest creatures, as animal shelters struggle with rising populations and shrinking financial contributions. Now, online searching and shopping is being put to use to help pets in local communities. Looking for a creative way to help pets in need, Dogpile.com has launched the Search & Rescue program to raise money for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Dogpile.com, a search engine that pools results from all major search engines, is donating a portion of revenues from searches conducted on the Dogpile.com Web site to the ASPCA. And the giving doesn't stop there: Consumers can continue to give without spending a penny of their own money by using a downloadable Search & Rescue toolbar.

Dogpile.com's Search & Rescue program has a goal of raising $1 million through the end of 2009 by inviting consumers to do what they already do: search the Web.

A study of current giving trends conducted by Dogpile.com found that Americans who typically give to charities are cutting back on donations by nearly half from last year, and animal charities are among those expected to suffer most compared to other organizations and civic causes. The situation is compounded by the fact that many of those surveyed have had to give up a pet -- or know someone who has -- due to financial hardship. As a result, animal shelters around the country are struggling with rising populations and shrinking contributions.

"We know that like us, most Americans have their hearts in the right place when it comes to animal welfare, but many don't have the means to give at this time," said Stacy Ybarra, senior director of Corporate Giving for InfoSpace, Inc., parent company of Dogpile. "Programs like Search & Rescue can change the way corporations and consumers approach charitable giving. You search and. together, we rescue -- it's as easy as that."

Eighty percent of people surveyed agreed that if they knew there was a way to donate money to charity through their actions -- instead of actually spending their own money -- they would do it.

"Tough times call for creative ideas and committed partners," said ASPCA President and CEO Ed Sayres. "We appreciate the support of Dogpile.com and consumers everywhere who use the site to search. Working together, we can all help animals in need."

Since Dogpile's Search & Rescue program launch last November, Dogpile.com users have raised more than $200,000 to help pets in need. For more information and to view a live counter tracking Search & Rescue donations raised to date, please visit www.dogpile.com/rescue.


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Thursday, January 15, 2009

FDA Issues Final Guidance on Regulating Genetically Engineered Animals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today issued a final guidance for industry on the regulation of genetically engineered (GE) animals under the new animal drug provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). The guidance, titled "The Regulation of Genetically Engineered Animals Containing Heritable rDNA Constructs," clarifies the FDA's statutory and regulatory authority, and provides recommendations to producers of GE animals to help them meet their obligations and responsibilities under the law.

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 is 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.

“Genetic engineering is a cutting edge technology that holds substantial promise for improving the health and well being of people as well as animals. In this document, the agency has articulated a scientifically robust interpretation of statutory requirements," said Randall Lutter, Ph.D., deputy commissioner for policy. “This guidance will help the FDA efficiently review applications for products from GE animals to ensure their safety and efficacy."

The FDA released the draft guidance in September 2008 with a 60-day public comment period, and received about 28,000 comments. The agency has summarized and responded to these comments on the Web site listed below.

The FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has been working with developers of GE animals on both early stage and more mature applications.

“At this time, it is our intent to hold public scientific advisory committee meetings prior to making decisions on GE animal-related applications" said Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of CVM.

The FFDCA defines “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 is intended to affect the animal's structure or function meets the definition of an 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 any new products expressed from the inserted construct are safe for the health of the GE animal and, if they are food animals, for food consumption.

The guidance also describes the manufacturer's responsibility in meeting the requirements for environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act.

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Ultralight-led Whooping Cranes Winging Toward Southwest Georgia

Fourteen endangered whooping crane chicks and their surrogate parents – four ultralight aircraft – are headed toward southwestern Georgia on their 1,285-mile migration from Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin to Chassahowitzka and St. Marks national wildlife refuges along Florida's Gulf Coast.

These majestic birds, the tallest in North America, began their migration from Necedah on Oct. 17. In Georgia, the planned route will take them from Clay County almost due south through Decatur County in the coming days. Stopovers are scheduled in both counties. The cranes and crew landed in Pike County, Ala., on Monday and will move toward Clay County at the Alabama/Georgia state line as weather allows.

There are 68 migratory whooping cranes in the wild in eastern North America, thanks to the efforts of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, an international coalition of public and private groups that is reintroducing whooping cranes in the species’ historic range.

Mike Harris, Nongame Conservation Section chief for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division, said the impressive work is bringing back an eastern migratory population of the imperiled cranes “from scratch.”

Harris said historic records show whooping cranes used to migrate through Georgia, possibly even wintering here. “Once the population is restored, we hope we’ll have places where they stop regularly during migration.”

The ultralight-led flock from Necedah National Wildlife Refuge has made its way through Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee. For the first time, the route went through southern Illinois and Alabama, clipping the corner of Georgia instead of cutting north to south through the state as before. Increased weather delays and safety risks with crossing the Appalachian Mountains prompted the ultralight migration team and project partner Operation Migration to develop the more westerly route that goes around the mountains instead of over them. Last year’s journey lasted 97 days.

In addition to the 14 birds being led south by the ultralights, six other birds were released in the company of older cranes in the hope that they can learn the migration route from the more experienced birds. This is part of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership’s “Direct Autumn Release” program and is conducted by the International Crane Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The International Whooping Crane Recovery Team has set the target for this reintroduction at 125 birds, including 25 breeding pairs. Once these numbers are reached the population could be considered self-sustaining. With 68 birds in the wild and another 21 scheduled for release soon, the effort has passed the halfway point and “whoopers” are again migrating over eastern North America after a 100-year absence.

Whooping cranes, named for their loud unison calls, were on the verge of extinction in the 1940s. Today, there are only about 350 in the wild and 500 in existence.

Aside from the 68 Wisconsin-Florida birds, the only other migrating population nests at Wood Buffalo National Park in the Northwest Territories of Canada and winters at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas coast. A non-migrating flock of about 30 birds lives in central Florida. The remaining 150 whooping cranes are in captivity in zoos and breeding facilities.

The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership asks that anyone who encounters a whooping crane in the wild please give them the respect and distance they need. Do not approach on foot within 200 yards, remain in your vehicle if possible and do not approach in a vehicle within 100 yards. Please stay concealed and do not speak loudly enough that the birds can hear you. Finally, do not trespass on private property in an attempt to view the cranes.

Each fall, Operation Migration pilots lead a new generation of whooping cranes behind their ultralight aircraft to wintering grounds in Florida. The cranes will make the return flight on their own to the upper Midwest in the spring.

The birds are tracked and monitored year-round. They live and breed in wetland areas, where they feed on crabs, clams, frogs and seeds. They are distinctive animals, standing 5 feet tall, with white bodies, black wing tips and red crowns on their heads.

Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership founding members are the International Crane Foundation; Operation Migration Inc.; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and National Wildlife Health Center; the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin; and the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team.

Many other flyway states, provinces, private individuals and conservation groups have joined forces with and support the partnership by donating resources, funding and personnel. More than 60 percent of the project’s budget comes from private sources in the form of grants, public donations and corporate sponsorship.

Go to www.bringbackthecranes.org for more information on the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. A map of the route is at www.operationmigration.org/mile_makers.htm#map.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Canine Cancer #1 Fear of Dog Lovers, Web Exclusive by Morris Animal Foundation Provides News on Latest Breakthroughs - Crucial Facts for Dog Owners

/PRNewswire/ -- Dog owners and lovers in the United States view canine cancer as the greatest health threat to their beloved pets. They are correct. One in four dogs die of cancer. Cancer is the number one cause of death in dogs over the age of 2.

Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) has posted on its Web site, www.MorrisAnimalFoundation.org, a canine cancer exclusive of special interest to dog owners and dog lovers everywhere. The MAF canine cancer Web exclusive features information and insight from two of the world's leading colleges of veterinary medicine and canine cancer research centers, Colorado State University and Cornell University. View the presentation at: www.MorrisAnimalFoundation.org/ccexclusive. The MAF exclusive includes a question and answer session conducted by three veterinary oncologists from the Colorado State University Animal Cancer Center - the largest facility of its kind in the world. Questions have been submitted from owners whose dogs are suffering from cancer, animal lovers, as well as dog breeders, boarding kennel managers and others.

The Web presentation also includes canine cancer facts and updates from the Sprecher Institute for Comparative Cancer Research at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. This prestigious institute is at the forefront of research benefiting both animals and humans. Links are provided to Cornell's "Pet Owner's Guide to Cancer" and other cancer educational sites.

Also at the MAF canine cancer presentation Web page are links to many of the leading veterinary and canine cancer centers in the United States and the United Kingdom. Dog owners/lovers can learn about and access the excellent resources closest to their home.

MAF launched an unprecedented global campaign to raise funds to cure canine cancer in the next 10 to 20 years, and while seeking the ultimate cure, will develop more effective treatments for dogs suffering from cancer today. MAF is funding canine cancer research at many of the top veterinary colleges in the world. Learn more about the campaign at www.CureCanineCancer.org.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

National Zoo Has a New Baby Gorilla

A baby western lowland gorilla was born January 11 at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Staff estimate the baby was born at approximately 1:45 p.m. to 26-year-old female Mandara and 16-year-old Baraka. The newborn represents the seventh successful gorilla birth for the Zoo since 1991. This is the sixth offspring for Mandara. The newborn joins siblings Kigali, Kwame and Kojo, as well as group member Haloko at the Great Ape House. All of the Zoo’s gorillas will remain on exhibit.

Both mother and baby appear to be doing well. The baby’s sex has not yet been determined.

“We began monitoring the baby as soon as it was discovered and will continue to do so for the next couple of weeks,” said Don Moore, associate director for animal care. “This is a very critical time for the survival of the infant, and all precautions must be taken to ensure that Mandara and her baby are in an environment that is comfortable, safe and controlled. Mandara is a very experienced and competent mother, and we’re confident that she will properly care for and bond with her baby.”

The gorilla birth is significant for the National Zoo. Western lowland gorillas, which are native to tropical forests of West and Central Africa, are listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species, primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation and poaching. They are also a focus of the Zoo’s participation in Species Survival Plan, in which North American zoos collaborate to encourage the development of a self-sustaining zoo gorilla population, helping to ensure the survival of this endangered species. Each SSP manages the breeding of a species in order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

Mandara, born at the Lincoln Park Zoo in April 1982, is owned by the Milwaukee Zoo. She came to the National Zoo in October 1985. Baraka was born at the Zoo in 1992 to Haloko and Gus. He went to the Henry Doorly Zoo in March 2004 and returned to the Zoo in late 2006.

For more information about the Zoo’s gorillas and its conservation efforts, visit www.nationalzoo.si.edu.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Rookie Shelter Pups Open their Playbook for Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl V

/PRNewswire/ -- If your favorite team's season went to the dogs this year, Animal Planet has some new recruits that are ready for their chance to conquer the pigskin -- or a chew toy -- in PUPPY BOWL V. The yearly canine competition is back as a new cast of pups takes the field for another year of dogged defense, puppy penalties and fido first downs. The action takes place on the grand gridiron of Animal Planet Stadium, where an all-star, all-"adoptable" lineup of rambunctious pups is ready to compete in the ultimate puppy showdown. This year, every puppy featured in PUPPY BOWL V is recruited from a local shelter, so these pooches are free agents looking for a good home. Plus, while the big guys are listening to "The Boss" at halftime, PUPPY BOWL has once again enlisted the help of some frisky kittens for an all-new edition of the KITTY HALF-TIME SHOW. Make your fantasy picks now because PUPPY BOWL V premieres Sunday, February 1, from 3-5 PM (ET/PT).

Straight from local shelters, this year's puppy starting line-up is filled with hustling huskies and tackling terriers that are ready for action as they vie for the title of MVP (Most Valuable Puppy). Returning to give viewers a play-by-play commentary is world renowned Harry Kalas, voice of NFL Films and the Philadelphia Phillies, whose legendary voice brings even more intensity to this already feisty rivalry. And in recognition of Puppy Bowl's fifth anniversary, we look back on some of the best puppy plays through the years.

"Super Bowl fans are used to cable cams and slow motion instant replays," says Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet Media. "But only Animal Planet viewers can get up-close and personal with our adorable puppy players through our innovative water bowl cam. And they may have 'The Boss,' but we have 'Pepper the Parrot' and the KITTEN HALF TIME SHOW for our entertainment."

PUPPY BOWL V cameras catch all of the exhilarating action as the puppies pounce and play against one another, mimicking the rough-and-tumble moves of the NFL. However, with all the excitement, players sometimes can get out of line, which is why PUPPY BOWL is equipped with instant replays and "puppy penalties" doled out by our veteran PUPPY BOWL referee, Andrew Schechter. He knows the puppy rules like the back of his hand, and he's not afraid to assess penalties when the players commit an infraction. This year, he even has to reign in an overzealous puppy fan that "streaks" the field.

"I think we all have a calling," says Andrew. "Some of us are firemen; some are policemen. I am a ref. I referee little, cute, adorable puppies pretending to play football for people's enjoyment. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it."

To kick start this year's sports extravaganza is "Pepper the Parrot," singing a unique rendition of the National Anthem. Then at halftime, the frisky felines are back for the KITTY HALF-TIME SHOW. The lively kittens once again show off their moves on a glittery stage while swooning fans enjoy their rocking halftime performance. These tiny tabbies and cuddly calicos prove that watching curious kittens bat around a toy mouse is all the entertainment you need.

All of the charming canines featured in PUPPY BOWL V come from regionally based shelters, including Furry Friends Network, Paw-fect Match Rescue and the SPCA of Anne Arundel County (Maryland). Viewers who are interested in adopting from a shelter in their area can visit PETFINDER.COM, the best online resource for finding adoptable pets.

To learn more about PUPPY BOWL V, visit our electronic press kit for videos on the training regimen and history of our referee Andrew Schechter: http://press.discovery.com/ekits/puppybowl2009/. Plus, fans can visit AnimalPlanet.com for a list of the top five PUPPY BOWL moments and a chance to vote for this year's MVP (Most Valuable Puppy).

PUPPY BOWL V official sponsors include Pedigree, Bissell, SC Johnson and Disney's Space Buddies.

PUPPY BOWL V and the KITTY HALF-TIME SHOW are productions of Discovery Studios. For Discovery Studios, Rob Burk is the executive producer. Melinda Toporoff is the executive producer for Animal Planet.

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Sharing Life with a Poodle: A Loving and Hilarious Portrayal of the Human Side of Dogs

AAG Note: Sometimes, a lighter look at animals is in order. This book sounds like a fun read, in addition to providing good tips.

/PRNewswire/ -- People love to pamper their pets, and their pets love to be pampered. Author Kate Reynolds, the indulgent owner of a French poodle puppy, has written a humorous take on fellow pet owners and the corporations whose advertising keeps the owners' closets full of pet supplies. "The Time Marches on Dog Book" (published by AuthorHouse -- http://www.authorhouse.com/) is a parody of promotional literature for dog-care products and an endorsement of items sold by "Barkgent," a fictional dog-product vendor.

Much like dogs romping through a whimsical park, "The Time Marches on Dog Book" is a romp through an alternate canine universe in which dogs long for Armani suits and Versace gowns, study foreign language tapes, and imbibe in wines sporting labels such as "Canine Cabernet."

Depicting the action after the dog and his owner have downed a few glasses of before-dinner wine, Reynolds writes, "So what's for dinner? You don't have a clue, neither does your pooch. You have opened your Barkgent's ALL NEW FRENCH COOKBOOK for you and your dog. You cannot see the page; you had planned on filet mignon with Bearnaise sauce, but your dog ate it raw this morning. He may need more TUMMYTUM YUMS. What about the Welsh rarebit? Your dog adores this! You can't stand it, but, oh well, you'll make it for him because you love your dog."

Then, after a series of antic mishaps including an oven fire and fire-extinguisher foam sprayed in the kitchen: "You reach for a bottle of Milquebonz Merlot to get your strength back. Maybe you need two due to the circumstances. Now what will you replace that burned Welsh rarebit with?"

"The Time Marches on Dog Book" includes professional-quality color photos starring Dr. Sam, the author's comical-looking poodle puppy, humorously illustrating outlandish doggy-doings. The zany world of high-level canine care comes to life through Dr. Sam's antics.

Serious subjects are also covered in "The Time Marches on Dog Book," such as the importance of exercise, the value of being present if it becomes necessary to euthanize your pet, and the need to microchip pets to aid in locating them if lost.

About the Author: Kate Reynolds graduated from Chestnut Hill College in Pennsylvania and worked for several years in television with Dick Cavett, Jack Parr, and Marlo Thomas. Her writing muse lay dormant for many years until she awakened it by writing "The Time Marches on Dog Book." The author and her dog, Dr. Sam -- who inspired the book, live seasonally in South Florida and Quebec, Canada.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bill to Protect Sharks Introduced in Congress

The Humane Society of the United States and its global affiliate Humane Society International applauded Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam) for reintroducing the Shark Conservation Act, H.R. 81, in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill provides increased protection for vulnerable shark species from the disgusting practices of "finning" and overfishing.

"Each year, tens of millions of sharks worldwide have their fins cruelly cut off at sea and are then thrown back overboard to die a lingering, painful death," said Patricia Forkan, president of Humane Society International. "Shark finning threatens the survival of essential marine species, and we commend Congresswoman Bordallo for addressing this cruel and wasteful practice."

Although shark finning was banned in the U.S. by the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000, enforcement is complex and a major loophole allows circumvention of the law. Last summer, the U.S. Department of Commerce implemented regulations in the U.S. Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico requiring that sharks be landed with fins naturally attached to their bodies, the only sure way to prevent shark finning. However, the Pacific Ocean has no comparable regulation, leaving these expansive waters wide open to abuse.

Last year, the previous version of the Shark Conservation Act (H.R. 5741) passed the House in the 110th Congress, but did not advance in the Senate before the session was adjourned. The new legislation contains the same language closing a loophole that currently permits a vessel to transport fins that were obtained illegally as long as the sharks were not finned aboard that vessel. The act also requires that all sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached to their bodies, creating a clear enforcement mandate applicable in both oceans.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Four, Three, Two, One . . . Pterosaurs Have Lift Off!

Pterosaurs have long suffered an identity crisis. Pop culture heedlessly — and wrongly — lumps these extinct flying lizards in with dinosaurs. Even paleontologists assumed that because the creatures flew, they were birdlike in many ways, such as using only two legs to take flight.

Now comes what is believed to be first-time evidence that launching some 500 pounds of reptilian heft into flight required pterosaurs to use four limbs: two were ultra-strong wings which, when folded and balanced on a knuckle, served as front “legs” that helped the creature to walk — and leap.

Publishing in Zitteliana, Michael B. Habib, M.S., of the Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, reports his comparison of bone strength in the limbs of pterosaurs to that of birds and concludes that pterosaurs had much stronger “arms” than legs. The reverse is true of birds.

“We’ve all seen birds take off, so that’s what’s most familiar,” says Habib. “But with pterosaurs, extinct 65 million years and with a fossil history that goes back 250 million years, what’s familiar isn’t relevant.”

A supersized glitch is inherent in the traditional bipedal launch model, Habib notes: “If a creature takes off like a bird, it should only be able to get as big as the biggest bird.”

Birds use legs to launch, wings to flap. They don’t get launch power from wings or flight power from legs. In fact, when a bird is aloft, its legs become payload, or cargo. The muscle on the two back limbs that provides the power to launch must be carried and therefore limits size. Released of that handicap by employing all four legs to launch, giant pterosaurs could fly despite the fact that they were roughly the same size and shape as modern-day giraffes.

“The difference between pterosaurs and birds with regard to critical mechanical properties is very, very large,” Habib says, especially when you’re talking about the big pterosaurs; as the size gets bigger, the difference gets bigger too.”

For example, the wings of these fantastic hairy reptiles, most notably those of Quetzalcoatlus northropi, which spanned to an impressive 35 feet when the creatures were aloft, propelled the creatures into the air during take-offs that Habib describes as leap-frogging long-jumps: “Pterosaurs had long, huge front limbs, so no partner was required. Then, with wings snapping out, off they’d fly.”

Using computer scans to obtain cross-sectional images and geometric data for 155 bird specimens representing 20 species, Habib calculated the strengths of bones in bird limbs and compared these to three species of pterosaurs, the bones strengths of which he calculated using measurements from previously published sources. Structural strength, taking into account length and diameter, among other things, is a measure of how much force a bone can take before it fractures.

Habib also spent time crunching the numbers using the old, bipedal launch model and simply couldn’t find a mathematical solution that would enable the largest of the pterosaurs — using hind legs alone — to launch at all.

“But using all four legs, it takes less than a second to get off of flat ground, no wind, no cliffs,” he said. “This was a good thing to be able to do if you lived in the late Cretaceous period and there were hungry tyrannosaurs wandering around.”

It stands to reason that a large-bodied animal needing to produce lots of power at take-off would use four legs instead of two, Habib says: “We put V8 engines in our biggest, heaviest cars, not V-4s, like the one in my Camry.”

Assumption and convention — rather than reason or data — held sway for centuries, ever since the classical bipedal model of pterosaur take-off was first championed, he notes.

The research was funded by the Jurassic Foundation. Habib, of Johns Hopkins, is the sole author of the paper.

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Pet-Friendly Hotels Reach Niche Market During Tough Economic Times

/PRNewswire/ -- For the millions of pet owners, who prefer to travel with their pets, the hassle of finding places that will accept them is over. The staff at BringYourPet.com (www.bringyourpet.com) does all the scouting around necessary to find the best pet-friendly places in the USA and abroad, thus creating an excellent travel resource for pet owners. Pet-friendly hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, condos, cabins and resorts are able to better generate incremental revenues. BringYourPet.com has put into place a unique plan that takes all the work out of finding pet-friendly properties.

Although pet-friendly lodging has been an increasingly popular trend in the past decade, it still takes time and energy for pet owners to locate places available to them for travel. That time can be better used by visiting www.bringyourpet.com and having instantaneous solutions at the click of a mouse. No longer are travelers subject to second-rate accommodations. BringYourPet.com makes every effort to list upscale accommodations for both travelers and their beloved pets.

BringYourPet.com is a valuable tool in planning a successful pet-inclusive travel experience. The site lists high quality, pet-friendly lodging state by state. The staff at BringYourPet.com has combed the entire country to compile this comprehensive database of such pet-friendly properties as bed and breakfasts, hotels, motels, condos and resorts.

Spokesman Brian Bailey said, "Our staff of pet lovers and pet owners has worked very hard to find caring, affordable and high quality places to accommodate pets. It's our mission to locate and evaluate safe, pleasant places for pets and their owners. We intend to continue working to add all kinds of helpful services to our Web site for both the pet owner and the pet as well as for our advertisers."

Featuring color photos, complete descriptions, amenities and rates, www.bringyourpet.com is an all-inclusive, up-to-date Web site containing detailed area information that maps out locations and announces promotional discounts and last minute specials. Users simply select the state or they are interested in and the information pops up. BringYourPet.com brings millions of pet lovers and pet servers together into one giant pet-friendly travel community.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

The HSUS Offers Reward In German Shepherd’s Death, Dismemberment in Gwinnett Co, GA

he Humane Society of the United States is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death and dismemberment of a German shepherd found behind Party City in Duluth, Ga.

The Case:

The Gwinnett County Police Department gives the following account: On Dec. 17, a Gwinnett County Animal Control officer found a dismembered, dead dog behind Party City, at 1630 Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth. The animal's body was taken to the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Center where a necropsy was performed. Dr. Melinda Merck, Senior Director of Veterinary Forensics for the ASPCA, determined the dog died from a stab wound, but could not tell whether the dog was dismembered pre- or post-mortem. The dog was a male German shepherd, about 1 year old.

Animal Cruelty:

Getting the serious attention of law enforcement, prosecutors and the community in cases involving allegations of cruelty to animals is an essential step in protecting the community. The connection between animal cruelty and human violence is well documented. Studies show a correlation between animal cruelty and all manner of other crimes, from narcotics and firearms violations to battery and sexual assault.

"Those who abuse animals can be dangerous to people," said Cheryl McAuliffe, The HSUS' Georgia state director. "Americans have no tolerance for violence against the creatures who share our world."

The Investigators:

The Gwinnett County Animal Cruelty Unit is investigating. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 770-339-3200.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Fish Species Discovered in GA River by UGA

While surveying fishes in Georgia's Flint River, Byron and Mary Freeman noticed that a certain darter fish had a striking orange color in its fins--much different than the Blackbanded darter that is prominent in the southwest Georgia River. The University of Georgia researchers had indeed come across a new species: the Halloween darter or Percina crypta.

"The Halloween darter is a great example of 'cryptic biodiversity' -- species that have gone unrecognized because they look a lot like other species that are known," explained Mary, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and the UGA Odum School of Ecology. "Ichthyologists have documented many new fish species in the southeastern U.S., showing that despite nearly 100 years of scientific study of fishes in this region, there are still surprises."

The newly discovered Halloween darter is less than five inches long and upon analysis, was found to have a host of differences from the Blackbanded darter. The fish is common to only a few areas of the Chattahoochee and Flint River systems because it requires habitats with swift water currents over rocky areas--shoals. Findings were reported in a recent issue of prominent zoological journal Zootaxa.

According to Mary, there are far fewer shoals today because of the rise of dams on rivers and streams, as well as the removal of rock shoals to improve rivers for navigation. The discovery of the Halloween darter has definite implications for conservation strategies.

"Keeping track of the status of the Halloween darter, along with other species that require shoal habitats in the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers, will provide information on how shoals as ecological systems are responding to changes in land use, water management and climate," said Mary.

In addition to the Freemans, the research team included Noel Burkhead of the U.S. Geological Survey and Carrie Straight, a Ph.D. student at the UGA Odum School of Ecology.

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