Monday, August 31, 2009

Zoo Atlanta Hosts Larger-than-life Announcement

We’re all panda fans – now on a grander scale. On August 20 in Atlantic Station’s Central Park, Zoo Atlanta hosted an unveiling of five eye-catching nods of support for the campaign to keep giant pandas in Atlanta. The 10-foot panels, each bearing the words “I’m a panda fan,” depict giant photos of Atlanta Falcons Owner and CEO Arthur Blank; Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin; Ambassador Andrew Young; V-103 Celebrity DJ Frank Ski; and Zoo Atlanta President and CEO Dennis Kelly, all wearing black-and-white bear masks. The panels are a creative demonstration of the building momentum of the Give So They Stay campaign launched on June 17.

Prior to the unveiling, Doug Childers and Molly Dana, organizers of the recent Pints for Pandas fundraiser, presented Zoo Atlanta with a donation of $6,500 generated by the sellout event, hosted by SweetWater Brewery on August 14. Rich Chey, owner of HomeGrown Restaurant Concepts, Inc., presented a donation of $1,500 collected by the Dine Out for Pandas series hosted by local venues in July. As of August 20, the Zoo had raised a total of $80,900 toward the initiative.

“Zoo Atlanta is honored by the show of support from Arthur Blank, Mayor Franklin, Ambassador Young and Frank Ski, and we’re very excited by the success of grassroots efforts like Pints for Pandas and Dine Out for Pandas,” said Marcus E. Margerum, Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Zoo Atlanta. “The community clearly has the power to make a difference to the future of the Zoo’s giant panda program.”

Located in Atlantic Station’s East District adjacent to Z Gallerie, the celebrity panels will be displayed for the remainder of the Give So They Stay campaign, which continues through December 31, 2009.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Reward Offered in Columbia County, Ga. Alligator Killing

The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for illegally killing an alligator in Columbia County, Ga. The alligator was found dead on private property behind Brown Feed and Seed on Washington Road in Evans, Ga. the morning of Monday, Aug. 24.

The Case:

According to the Department of Natural Resources, the animal was found with more than half of his body missing. His head was sawed off from his front legs forward, and his tail was severed from his body. The owner of Brown Feed and Seed explained to media sources that the alligator, called "Big Boy," was well-liked since he took up residence in the pond four years ago. The alligator reportedly weighed more than 200 pounds and was dragged out of the water before being killed.

"The callous poaching of this alligator is a serious crime and shows the disregard some individuals have of wildlife," said Cheryl McAuliffe, Georgia state director for The HSUS. "The HSUS applauds the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for thoroughly investigating this incident."

According to media reports, local CPA firm Hall, Hall & Associates is also offering a $500 reward for information and First Saturday Crew, a group that works on cleanup projects on the Augusta Canal, is offering $200 in restaurant gift certificates. With the $100 reward offered by Turn in Poachers for information on any wildlife taken out of season, this brings the total reward to $3,300.

If caught, the person or persons responsible could face a number of poaching charges, including trespassing, killing an animal out of season and possession of illegally taken wildlife. The person or persons could also face animal cruelty charges.

Poaching:

Every year, thousands of poachers are arrested nationwide; however, it is estimated that only 1 to 5 percent of poachers are caught. Poachers kill wildlife anytime, anywhere and sometimes do so in particularly cruel ways.

The Investigators:

Anyone with information about the case should call the Turn In Poachers 24-hour hot line at (800) 241-4113. Tips may remain anonymous.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Celebrities Use Twitter To Save Shelter Pets' Lives

/PRNewswire/ -- Adopt-a-Pet.com, North America's largest non-profit pet adoption web service, announces the official launch of TwitterACritter, a new social media campaign that uses Twitter to spread the word about adoptable pets in shelters.

On the campaign web site, www.TwitterACritter.com, pet lovers can select one of the 130,000 homeless dogs, cats, and other pets listed on Adopt-a-Pet.com and tweet a link to that pet's information.

"TwitterACritter is a fun, easy way for people to actively save the life of a shelter pet, even if they can't adopt one themselves or afford to donate," says Abbie Moore, executive director of Adopt-a-Pet.com. "Homeless pets are powerless to promote themselves to potential adopters, so it's up to those of us who love animals to lend a hand, and a set of thumbs, and tweet about them. In these difficult economic times, when so many pets are being relinquished to shelters, they need our help more than ever."

Already the campaign has gotten a boost from several celebrities who have participated and encouraged their Twitter followers to do the same. Since the TwitterACritter feature became available two weeks ago, Kevin Nealon, Alyssa Milano, Denise Richards, Kristin Chenoweth, and several other celebrities have taken up the cause and tweeted links to shelter pets listed on Adopt-a-Pet.com. According to Moore, "In each case, immediately after the celebrity's tweet, hundreds of their followers tweeted homeless pets as well. . . and their followers tweet, and so on and so on. The celebrities create an avalanche of compassion."

"The bottom line is that if enough people see a shelter pet, that pet gets adopted. There is no better way to expose shelter pets to as many potential adopters as possible than through Twitter," continues Moore. "It's no exaggeration to say that a single tweet can save a life. Imagine the impact it would have if everyone tweeted just one critter a day!"

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

This October, Be a Superhero and Rescue a Shelter Dog During American Humane's Adopt-A-Dog Month (R)

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- You can save the day for a homeless dog -- and find a faithful companion who will be at your side for all of life's adventures -- by adopting a dog during American Humane's Adopt-A-Dog Month (R) in October.

As a result of the tight economy and rising tide of home foreclosures, U.S. animal shelters are becoming even more overpopulated by furry friends in need of loving homes. While no national statistics exist, shelters across the country are receiving dogs every day from displaced homeowners. With more dogs than adopters, shelters are facing a tragic scenario: the possibility of having to euthanize healthy, adoptable dogs.

"Adopting a dog from your local shelter is a simple, yet heroic deed," said American Humane President and CEO Marie Belew Wheatley. "By providing a home to an animal that didn't have one, you can help reduce the regrettably high number of homeless pets in this country. And you'll be rewarded in so many ways, as you experience the joy of building an invincible bond with a loving and faithful companion."

Dogs provide companionship, improved physical and emotional health, social interaction and devoted love. They also encourage people to exercise, enhance family and other relationships, promote laughter and act as a nonjudgmental audience. However, it is important to remember that adopting a dog is a long-term commitment; dogs need exercise and daily attention and are completely dependent on their owners for all of their needs.

Dog adoption isn't something to take lightly, but it is an extremely rewarding, life-changing experience, and possibly a life-saving experience for the dog. To learn more about the adoption process, visit American Humane's Web site at www.americanhumane.org.

Be a superhero! Rescue a shelter dog and gain a loyal, super sidekick for all of life's adventures!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Don’t forget your pets in a disaster

AAA Note: Now that the hurricane season is gearing up, remember to plan ahead for your safety and for your pet's safety.

(ARA) - When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Richard Colar’s neighborhood was flooded with 13 feet of water. He lost his home and lived in a FEMA trailer for over three years following the storm. Even more devastating for Colar was that he was forced to flee without his beloved pet, a Siberian husky named Princess.

Miraculously, veterinarians located his lost dog weeks after the storm. The dog had been evacuated to Delaware. Due to the work of many volunteers, Colar and his family were among the lucky Katrina survivors who had their pets returned to them.

“It was so important to me to get my dog back, and I was so thankful,” he says. “Veterinarians saved my dog. I never knew that there were so many animal lovers in the world.”

Colar’s story illustrates why it’s so important for people to be prepared for natural disasters. This means planning an evacuation, not just for you and your family, but also your pets, livestock and horses.

The American Veterinary Medical Association offers a brochure on the subject, Saving the Whole Family, as well as an informative video with helpful instructions to help people evacuate with their pets in a disaster.

“During disasters it’s not unusual for hundreds of thousands of pets and livestock to be displaced. Many times this is the result of the fact that the owners have not made a thorough evacuation plan,” explains Dr. Heather Case, head of disaster preparation at the AVMA. “That’s why we urge everybody to make disaster plans today that include every member of the family, including those with four legs or wings, fur, scales or feathers.”

Case explains that in order to evacuate with an animal, pet and livestock owners need to have something in which to carry the animal. With pets, this would be a pet carrier that is large enough for the animal to spend a few days in comfortably. Even if you relocated to an emergency shelter that is willing to accept a pet, the animal will have to spend most of its time in that carrier or cage. For cats, the cage will have to be big enough for a small litter box.

If you are a livestock or horse owner, you’ll need access to a livestock carrier that can be towed by truck. Many times, farms will form cooperative evacuation networks as a cost effective way of ensuring that everybody’s animals are evacuated.

The AVMA also recommends that pet and livestock owners put together emergency kits. These kits should include enough food to last a week, any medications the animal requires, written prescriptions and other documentation, a photograph and identification information for the animal and, most importantly, a telephone list of feed suppliers, family members and veterinarians in the area where you expect to end up.

Proper identification is another important consideration. Consider preparing disaster tags for your pet’s collar. These should include your cell phone number, but also the telephone number for an out-of-town family member or friend, and perhaps the name of a hotel where you expect to evacuate. With this information, rescue responders will have a better chance of locating you if they rescue your pet.

The best kind of identification is imbedded microchip identification. Even if you put an informative tag on your pets collar or your horse’s halter, if it becomes separated from your animal the results can be disastrous. Microchips are embedded under the skin of an animal between the shoulder blades or on the neck and can be read with a scanner, ensuring the animal is never without ID.

For more information on this and other issues, visit www.avma.org or www.avmatv.org for a disaster preparation video.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Five Tips To Help Keep Fido And Fluffy Fit

(NAPSI)-If your pooch is portly or your tabby is tubby, you're not alone. According to an Association for Pet Obesity Prevention survey, over 44 percent of dogs and 57 percent of cats are now estimated to be overweight or obese. Obesity is a major health concern that contributes to health problems in pets, just as it does in humans, so it's important to be watchful and responsible as a pet owner.

"Cats don't get as much exercise as dogs and a dog's metabolic rate can decrease by up to 30 percent as it ages," said Darlene Frudakis, president and COO for PetAg, Inc. "Those facts, combined with the issue of owners overfeeding and overtreating their pets, add up to weighty challenges for pets," she added.

The current market leader in pet health and wellness products, PetAg, now offers CatSlim® and DogSlim™, the first all-natural, nutritional food supplements designed to jump-start a well-managed weight-loss plan.

The company's products are complemented by a full line of nutritionally oriented products for pets in all life stages. Functional treats such as DogSlim™ Low-Calorie Bites, antioxidant-filled functional treats with real pumpkin and green tea, provide a nutritious treat that won't add to the dog's waistline.

Based on research by the nation's leading veterinarian organizations, Frudakis has compiled five ways to help maintain a pet's healthy weight for life:

1. Work with a vet to determine optimum weight.

Every pet is different, so work closely with a trusted veterinarian to determine a pet's optimal weight. Rapid, unexplained weight gain may be a warning sign indicating a number of health issues, ranging from excess fluid retention due to kidney problems, to a hormone imbalance caused by any number of medical conditions. Obesity contributes to diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disorders, osteoarthritis and more.

2. Feed treats responsibly.

According to the American Pet Products Association, 88 percent of dog owners and 65 percent of cat owners give treats to their pets. Many treats are filled with fat and empty calories. In pets, much like humans, extra calories contribute to excess weight and obesity that affects overall health. The calories in treats add up quickly, with many ranging between 50 and 100 calories each.

While owners are showing their love and affection with treats, these nibbles are largely expendable calories.

3. Substitute fruits and vegetables.

These high-fiber substitute treats are also packed with nutrients good for cats and dogs, but remember to cut in portion sizes that are suitable for a pet's size. Refer to vets' guidelines regarding the specific garden favorites that can be served to dogs and cats. Grapes and raisins, for instance, are not recommended and can be harmful. Healthy treat options that feature the goodness of real apple fiber, strawberries or carrots include PetAg's DogSlim Fruit and Veggie Bites-oven baked, all natural and high in dietary fiber.

4. Move!

Exercise is key when trying to help a pet lose or maintain its weight. Move food dishes for cats to higher levels so they'll have to jump to reach them. Take dogs on an extra walk each day. Keep in mind, however, health-related issues that might affect a pet's ability to exercise (e.g., a cat with joint problems might need steps to climb up to dishes and a dog with the same challenge might only go for an amble on warmer days outside). High in protein and low in fat, all-natural Rawhide Brand® Safety-Knot™ chews can provide hours of calorie-burning chewing activity and enjoyment for dogs.

5. Stop sharing table scraps.

Dogs and cats have different nutritional and digestive needs, so while they may enjoy lapping up leftovers, those same treats contribute extra calories to their diets and can add to their expanding waistlines. Studies show that a pet living on a lean diet can live up to two years longer than a pet that is constantly overfed.

For more information, visit www.petag.com.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Caring Hands for Kiawah

"We've got a stranded loggerhead," came the word from Kiawah Island on March 28, 2009.

Rushing to the scene were Joe Pezzullo and other members of the Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol. The juvenile loggerhead first appeared dead, but then it moved. Quickly, the Sea Turtle Hospital of the South Carolina Aquarium was contacted. The sea turtle was moved to the hospital and was now in the caring hands of Kelly Thorvalson, Sea Turtle Rescue Program Coordinator, and the other staff and volunteers.

Named for the location at which it was found, "Kiawah", the young loggerhead was diagnosed with hypoglycemia and dehydration. The barnacles on its body indicated the prolonged state of lethargy the turtle had experienced.

Pezzullo said, "We got it at the right time." Pezzullo has been part of the Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol since 1996 and has been approved by the state for strandings since 1998. "Most stranded sea turtles don't make it," he said.

On July 26, the day of "Kiawah's" release back to the ocean from the beach on Kiawah Island, there were 119 loggerhead nests on the island. Seven nests had already hatched and Pezzullo was looking forward to the peak time of nests hatching.

"A very small number of hatchlings make it," Pezzullo commented. Pezzullo recalled several years ago someone from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources told him that the low survival was nature's way. Otherwise, the ocean would be full of nothing but sea turtles with no resources available for other species.

"Kiawah" had gained sufficient weight for the release July 26. Weighing in at about 100 pounds, "Kiawah" and the two Kemp's ridley sea turtles release was witnessed by over 500 spectators.

"Kiawah" was escorted home by interns Courtney Boggs and Sarah Dale. After carrying the turtle for several feet and putting it gently down on the sand, the loggerhead would raise its head, look around, sniff, and then start the journey to the sea. Dale, with a smile on her face, commented the loggerhead was heavy during the walk. Both Boggs and Dale agreed it was great to have the honor of escorting it home.

As each turtle was released, the crowd cheered and clapped.

Standing proudly at the side of "Kiawah" as the aquarium staff prepared for the release, Pezzullo said, "It gives me great satisfaction."

Indeed.

Sandy Toes
Goes to Kiawah

This is the second in a series written by Sandy Toes as she spent time this summer learning more about sea turtles. Look for more articles and videos soon.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Atlanta Braves Final Bark in the Park of 2009 is Sunday, September 6

The Atlanta Braves are inviting fans to bring their "best friends" to the ballgame on Sunday, September 6 for the season's final "Bark in the Park." Fans must pre-register at www.braves.com/bark by September 3. Tickets are $25 and include one "human ticket," one "dog ticket" and a donation to benefit non-profit organizations that help animals in need. Additional "human tickets" are available for $12. Tickets will not be available on the day of the event, and fans should register soon, as space is limited.

WAG-A-LOT, Atlanta's first doggie-day-care center, will be on hand to help ensure all animals enjoy their time at Turner Field. Braves Coca-Cola Sky Field will be transformed into a doggie-paradise, complete with on-site veterinary services, doggie pools, cool water misters, and plenty of watering holes for the pets to stay hydrated.

More than 7,000 Braves fans and 3,500 dogs have attended "Bark in the Park" days at Turner Field since the first Bark event in 2006.

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Scratching the surface of canine allergies

(ARA) - Most people consider their dog to be more than just a pet. Dogs are true members of the family. So when your dog is itching uncontrollably, it is frustrating not to know what’s wrong. Once owners rule out the possibility of fleas, they are often left with questions unanswered. One problem frequently overlooked is a skin disease caused by environmental allergies.

Like humans, dogs can be hypersensitive to common airborne allergens such as pollen, mold and dust mites. But instead of showing symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes and a runny nose, dogs present symptoms on the skin that they try to relieve through constant scratching, licking and gnawing. These symptoms are typically signs of an allergic skin disease known as canine atopic dermatitis.

More than an itch
According to Kadence Research, canine atopic dermatitis affects about 16 percent of the canine population. As with human allergies, symptoms are often seasonal but can develop into a year-round problem if not properly treated. Dogs with atopic dermatitis usually start showing signs of the disease between the ages of 6 months and 3 years old, but some will show signs later due to changes in their environment.

Atopic dermatitis is characterized by intense scratching or chewing of the skin, hair loss and a foul odor resulting from the nonstop chewing and licking. The continual scratching can be bothersome to owners when their dogs are restlessly itching. It can also make the dog lethargic because they are unable to sleep due to constant irritation.

“Sam has had allergies for five or six years,” said Marj Voorhees, owner of Sam the Siberian husky. “He was doing lots of scratching, licking and itching. He lost a lot of hair around his face, eyes and ears.”

Voorhees tried using traditional medications and shampoos, as well as immunotherapy and zinc supplements in attempts to end Sam’s suffering. Sam’s therapy made him hungrier than normal and he gained 20 pounds. He also continued to itch.

There are numerous methods used to try to control the symptoms of canine atopic dermatitis. Veterinarians regularly try everything from antihistamines to steroid injections to keep their clients’ dogs from itching.

“Symptoms range from mild to severe,” said Steve Milden, VMD. “But the quality of life for a dog with atopic dermatitis can be diminished if the symptoms go untreated.”

Without a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, dogs with atopic dermatitis will continue to live in pain and discomfort; they won’t simply “grow out of it.” Anyone with active allergies can attest to how miserable life can be with an itchy throat, clogged sinuses and red eyes, so one can only imagine how unhappy dogs are when they have unstoppable itching. Luckily for dogs and their owners, there is a solution for the symptoms of atopic dermatitis.

Not your average backscratcher
The solution for dogs with atopic dermatitis comes in the form of a prescription product called Atopica (Cyclosporine capsules, USP) MODIFIED that specifically targets the immune cells involved in the allergic reaction. Similar to humans taking allergy medicine year-round to prevent flare-ups and misery, the same concept can be applied to treating dog allergies.

“I’ve been prescribing Atopica to dogs for about five years,” said Milden. “My clients couldn’t be more pleased. Their dogs seem to be happier now that they don’t itch all the time and their owners are thankful to have finally found relief for their best friend.”

Like Milden’s clients, Voorhees was able to find relief for her dog. Once Voorhees’ veterinarian prescribed Atopica, Sam was completely different.

“It made a tremendous difference almost immediately,” said Voorhees. “All of his hair grew back. It took care of the itching, too. He’s noticeably more comfortable.”

Owners should speak to their veterinarians if they think their dog may be suffering from allergies. The veterinarian will be able to answer questions and recommend a proper treatment. For more information on canine atopic dermatitis and ways to treat the disease, visit www.atopica.novartis.us or the Novartis Animal Health home page at www.petwellness.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Georgia Puppy Caravan Welcome Celebration & Premiere Party

David York & The Barking Hound Village invite you to "The Georgia Puppy Caravan Welcome Celebration & Premiere Party" on Friday, August 21 from 7 to 9 p.m. at The Foundry at Puritan Mill.

Celebrating one of the largest pet rescue missions in Georgia's history, meet the cast and see the word premiere of National Geographic Channel's highly anticipated new series, "Rescue Ink Unleashed," that follows a group of New York-based tattooed, motorcycle-riding tough guys who save helpless, abandoned and abused animals.

For more information and to purchase $25 tickets to the event, please visit: http://fultonanimalservices.com/

The "Georgia Puppy Caravan" will roll through Atlanta on August 19 - 23, bringing hope and bright futures to countless area pets. Originating in New Jersey, the Caravan of up to 200 cars, vans, RVs and even airplanes will travel down I-95, stopping in cities along the way to pick up large donations of pet food and other much needed supplies currently being collected for Georgia area shelters. They will then depart Atlanta carrying hundreds of shelter animals who have already been adopted by caring families in other states.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Suggestions for Humane Disposal of Horse Remains

The Humane Society of the United States Releases List of Humane Options for Disposal of Horse Remains


The Humane Society of the United States released a national list of humane resources for horse owners making end-of-life arrangements for their equine companions.

"Providing a humane, dignified death for your horse is simply responsible horse ownership," said Keith Dane, The Humane Society of the United States' director of equine protection. "No one likes to think about the death of a beloved companion, but planning ahead is key to understanding your options. This resource list gives horse owners the information they need to plan effectively."

The list includes state-by-state information on low-cost euthanasia programs, equine crematories, horse cemeteries, rendering facilities and landfills. State agriculture and veterinary contacts and state regulations are also included.

A recent survey of equine veterinarians and carcass disposal service providers indicated it costs about $300 for humane euthanasia and carcass disposal. In most parts of the country, this cost is equal to or less than the cost of one month's care. With proper care, horses can live well into their 20s and 30s. The latest available data shows there are more than 9 million horses in the United States, making this resource a valuable tool for the millions of Americans involved with horses.

The Humane Society of the United States is providing this list because, due to variations in laws and the availability of services across the country, horse owners often don't know their options when it comes to disposing of their horse's remains. With hundreds of listings for service providers across the country, this tool will ease the burden of seeking out disparate sources of information. It is expected that the list will grow over time, as the public and service providers become aware of this resource. Vendors who wish to have their information added to the list should contact Marika O'Brien at mobrien@hsus.org.

This resource is part of The Humane Society of the United States' Horses: Companions for Life program. The program aims to educate the general public and new, prospective and current horse owners about responsible horse ownership and companionship. Published last year, "The Humane Society of the United States Complete Guide to Horse Care" is the keystone of the program.

State of Georgia
Note: This list is not exhaustive and will change over time.

State Veterinarian: Dr. Lee M. Meyers, lmyers@agr.state.ga.us
USDA Cooperative Extension Service: www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/

State Regulations:

Ga. Code Ann. § 4-5-5. Methods of disposal of dead animals
Methods which can be used for disposal of dead animals are burning, incineration, burial, rendering, or any method using appropriate disposal technology which has been approved by the Commissioner of Agriculture. Disposal of dead animals by any of the approved methods must be completed within 24 hours after death or discovery. Dead animals that are buried must be buried at least three feet below the ground level, have not less than three feet of earth over the carcass, and must not contaminate ground water or surface water.

Euthanasia Programs:

University of Georgia
Veterinary Teaching Hospital
Athens, GA 30602
706-542-3223
www.uga.edu

Equine Cemetery Services:

Equine Cremation & Burial Services-Deceased Pet Care
2691 Harbins Road SE
Bethlehem, GA 30620
770-995-8862
www.deceasedpetcare.com/equine-cremation-services.html

Equine Crematory Services:

Ashes to Ashes Pet Cremation (serves the Continental U.S.)
22331 590th Street
Pomeroy, IA 50575
712-358-2600:
www.ncn.net/~scottdev

Equine Cremation & Burial Services-Deceased Pet Care
2691 Harbins Road SE
Bethlehem, GA 30620
770-995-8862
www.deceasedpetcare.com/equinecreamations.html

Memorial Pet Care (serves the Continental U.S.)
654 E. King Street
Meridian, ID 83642
208-887-7669
www.memorialpetcare.com

Rendering/Carcass Disposal:

Equine Carcass Removal & Cremation Services
2691 Harbins Road SE
Bethlehem, GA 30620
770-995-8862

Griffin Industries
4413 E Tanners Church Conn
Ellenwood, GA 30294-2365
404-363-1320

Landfills that Accept Equine Carcasses:

* Waste Management ® accepts equine carcasses at some but not all locations. To find out if your local Waste Management location will take horse carcasses, please contact them: www.wm.com; 800-963-4776

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Male or female? The chicken industry cares

Chickens, like most animals, typically produce equal numbers of males and females. But this natural sex ratio doesn’t always work in the poultry industry’s economic favor. A University of Georgia researcher is working on ways to skew the chicken’s sex ratio to help the industry streamline production and make more money.

Chickens are big business in Georgia, worth $4.9 billion in 2008, or 41 percent of the state’s total agricultural value. The industry is split into two areas: meat production and egg production.

Chickens raised for meat are called broilers. For this part of the industry, the females of this breed are less profitable. On average, male broilers weigh half a pound more than females at market age, and they eat 5 percent less feed.

For the egg-laying breed, females are prized over males, obviously, because males can’t grow up to produce eggs.

Kristen Navara, a poultry scientist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is trying to determine how to control avian sex ratios.

“In nature, it is a necessary strategy to adjust offspring sex in relation to the environment,” she said. “Humans, rodents, birds all skew sex ratios. It is clear females need the ability to adjust offspring for the environment where they will be born or hatched into.”

Navara has recently studied skewed sex ratios in hamsters and humans in relation to day length. She is now looking for the mechanism that can control the ratios in poultry and finches. She’s using hormones, particularly corticosterone, to find that mechanism.

Injecting female birds with a burst of corticosterone just before ovulation produced a sex ratio skewed toward males, or 81 percent.

She believes she can flip the ratio to favor males or females using hormones or aggravates, which stop the secretion of corticosterone.

Sara Beth Pinson, a graduate student in Navara’s lab, is coordinating studies to determine the optimal dose of corticosterone to produce the desired result. They are also testing different durations of the hormone treatment to determine how long-term treatments affect offspring sex. Research results could be available in six months.

Focused on species survival, Navara is also looking at sex ratios in zebra finches. “This is where it started, in an ecological context,” she said. “We are really interested in how a species survives. If we could figure out how to adjust the sex ratio of avian offspring, it could really help in conservation efforts.”

This research “is something the industry has been looking for for years,” said Mike Lacy, head of the CAES poultry science department. “The U.S. poultry and egg industry funded Dr. Navara to do this research because it is something the industry is very interested in.”

It is important to note that no chickens used for food are given hormones. Navara’s research is only using hormones to discover the mechanism. “Broilers are not treated with hormones. The industry does not treat with hormones and never will,” Lacy said.

“So far, the hormone injections seem to work, but what we want to do is find the mechanism the hormone is working through and then produce a non-hormonal treatment for the birds. That is the optimal way to go,” she said.

By April Sorrow
University of Georgia

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Preparing for a Sea Turtle Release with the South Carolina Aquarium




It was a beautiful day at Kiawah Island in South Carolina on July 26. There was hardly a cloud in the sky as teams of yellow shirt volunteers swarmed Beachwalker County Park. They were there to prepare for the release of three sea turtles who had been patients at the Sea Turtle Hospital at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston.

The excitement began to build as those playing and sunning on the beach realized they were about to witness this special event. For over an hour, over 500 people stood quietly as they waited for the arrival of the honored guests. Volunteers generously spent time talking to the crowd and answering questions about turtle rescues and nests.

Finally, the arrival of Wadmalaw, Kiawah, and Winyah created a flurry of activity and much cheering.

Wadmalaw, a Kemp's ridley, had been a patient for over two years after being caught by a fisherman.

A loggerhead, Kiawah, was lucky. She was found in March 2009 with low blood sugar and was quickly rehabilitated.

The third release, a spunky Kemp's ridley named Winyah, had been found comatose after being caught in a shrimp net last September.

Thank you volunteers and staff of the South Carolina Aquarium. This was truly a rare treat!

See you later,

Sandy Toes

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series about the recent sea turtle release. Be sure to stay tuned as Sandy Toes reveals her impressions on the release of the turtles, comments from volunteers, a special donation by a young Canadian, and a tour of the Sea Turtle Hospital.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

The Truth About Snakebites

(NAPSI)-Even when it's dead, a venomous snake can still bite you. And we're not talking about the snakes in Congress or on Wall Street.

We're talking those scaly, legless reptiles-of the subfamily Crotalinae-that bite about 8,000 people annually across the country. And contrary to popular belief, they're the last thing a doctor wants to see you walk in with if you're one of those thousands.

"We don't want people bringing a snake into an ambulance or hospital, since they still have a bite reflex for a short time after death," says Erica Liebelt, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine.

In fact, it turns out there are a lot of myths about snakes that need debunking before you head out to enjoy the great outdoors. Here are the four most prevalent ones:

Myth

Snakes only live in the wild.

Fact

Have you not seen the news about snakes turning up in abandoned, foreclosed houses? They also live in parks, yards, gardens and other unexpected spots, too. Extreme weather sometimes drives them to populated areas in search of food.

Myth

A bite victim should try to identify the snake that attacked him.

Fact

Doctors don't need to know that to provide treatment, and there's always the danger of being bitten again-by the same live snake-if you try to chase it down. Instead, get to a hospital ASAP. "The longer you wait, the more tissue damage sets in, and-although only about 12 people die a year from snakes in the U.S.-the greater the risk of death," says Dr. Liebelt.

Myth

Hollywood is spot-on when showing movie characters sucking the venom out of a snakebite.

Fact

Sucking on or cutting the skin around a bite can worsen tissue damage. Don't use a tourniquet or ice compression either-that will only make things worse. If you can't immediately get to a hospital, call the local poison center at (800) 222-1222. Also, wash and immobilize the bite area and keep it at, or just below, your heart.

Myth

Snakes attack unprovoked.

Fact

Most people are bitten because they try to handle or get close to a snake. Stay safe by avoiding reeds and tall grass where copperheads, rattlesnakes and cottonmouths often live. And be cautious when gardening or picking up rocks and firewood.

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sandy Toes Goes on the Scene with Sea Turtles Series

Can you identify this gorgeous sea turtle?

This adorable 97 pound or so Loggerhead is currently a patient at the Sea Turtle Hospital at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston and has a remarkable story to share.

Join Sandy Toes on recent adventures with the South Carolina Aquarium in July as three sea turtles were released and for a private tour of the Sea Turtle Hospital at the aquarium in Charleston.

See you soon!
Sandy Toes


Editor's Note: Our own Sandy Toes was invited to join the South Carolina Aquarium on Kiawah Island for the recent sea turtle release and to spend time at the hospital with Sea Turtle Rescue Program Coordinator Kelly Thorvalson. After our staff can pull our eyes off the wonderful videos, we'll be releasing several short videos and articles so our readers can also learn more about these amazing animals.

Many thanks to Kelly for her generous time talking about the program and each turtle.


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