Canine News from Near and Far, August 2009


German Dog Fetches Live Grenade

A woman out walking her dog in the West German town of Erkrath called police when she recognized the rusty object her pet had retrieved as some kind of weapon. It was identified by local munitions experts as a live U.S. hand grenade apparently buried since World War II. It was successfully defused with no harm done. Authorities report that “leftover” bombs and grenades from the World War II era are still frequently found in various parts of Germany.


Canine Cancer Drug Approved

On June 3, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first canine cancer drug. Previously, all drugs used to treat veterinary cancer were approved for human use but never specifically approved for animals. This will remain the case for most cancer cases, but Palladia, developed by Pfizer Animal Health Inc., is now available to treat a fairly common and potentially life-threatening type of canine skin cancer.

The approval was heralded as “an important step forward for veterinary medicine” by the director of the FDA’s center for veterinary medicine. As with most oncology drugs, however, side effects are common. For Palladia they can include diarrhea, loss of appetite, and lameness. 


Fluoride in Food

Eight out of ten dog food brands tested by an independent laboratory commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) contained fluoride in amounts up to 2.5 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) national drinking water standard. This suggests that many dogs are ingesting a very high level of fluoride. 

Although no studies have been conducted on the health effects of high fluoride levels in dogs, the chemical has been associated with a deadly form of bone cancer in humans. According to EWG, the current incidence of this cancer in the U.S. is 10 times higher in dogs than in people. 

High levels of fluoride in pet food come from chicken by-product meal, poultry by-product meal, chicken meal, and beef and bone meal. Any dog food with animal meal in the ingredients list contains pulverized bones, a cheap filler that makes dog food more profitable.  

More details at


9/11 Search Dog Cloned 

BioArts International, a company that claims to have the sole worldwide license for the cloning of dogs, cats, and endangered species, has produced five puppies cloned from a 9-11 search-and-rescue dog. 

Retired Canadian policeman James Symington says he took his German Shepherd, Trakr, to New York in the wake of the World Trade Center collapse to help look for victims buried alive in the rubble and that they found at least one survivor.

Last year, Symington entered a BioArts essay contest aimed at locating the most “clone-worthy” dog. “Once in a lifetime, a dog comes along that not only captures the hearts of all he touches but also plays a private role in history,” he wrote in his winning entry. The prize: having Trakr cloned for free.

Trakr died this past April at age 16. Symington, who now lives in Los Angeles, has said that if any of the pups has Trakr’s abilities, it will be trained for search-and-rescue work.


Big Dog-Fighting Raid

On July 8, a coalition of federal and state authorities and humane organizations implemented what is believed to be the largest coordinated dog fighting bust and rescue operation in U.S. history. It spanned six states; charges were filed against 22 individuals in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. More than 400 dogs were transported to secure facilities for health and behavior evaluations. The FBI and the U.S. Department of Agriculture worked on the investigation for 18 months, in conjunction with various humane groups and state agencies. Under the 2007 Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, which made dog fighting a felony, each count could carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000.


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