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Program Pairs Pets and Paramedics

The Richmond Ambulance Authority and the Richmond Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have developed a program that uses pets to relieve first-responders’ stress.

“I thought it would be great for both the animals and for the patients — and for us — if we could have a dog on an ambulance,” said Richmond paramedic Danielle Geronimo to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services recently.

Pets for Paramedics was conceived by Geronimo on a ride-along. Richmond SPCA will bring pets to RAA headquarters once a month for about an hour. The pets also benefit from the program, as it gives them an opportunity to socialize and search for a forever family.

“We see lots of things that most average people don’t see on a daily basis,” said Geronimo. “It’s going to be great for all of our providers to take a break from their day and to be able to give some love and maybe find these animals some good homes.”

Similar-spirited programs have brought pets together with veterans. Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation in Walnut Creek offers the Pets and Vets program that allows veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to train dogs to manage their anxiety and depression.

 

Bay Area Filmmakers Release Documentary

Pick of the Litter follows five Labrador retrievers from birth to their training as Guide Dogs for the Blind. Bay Area Filmmakers Dana Nachman and Don Hardy screened their latest film in September as part of the Sundance Selects releases in Berkeley, San Rafael, and San Francisco. The pups are a part of San Rafael’s Guide Dogs for the Blind program, which trains hundreds of puppies each year to become guide dogs for vision-impaired people, though not all the dogs make the final cut.

“My mom is a journalist in New York, and she did a series, following the dogs from birth,” Nachman told the The Mercury News. “So it’s stolen from Mom. We’re also fans of the competition genre, so it was the perfect opportunity to do both.”

CEO for Guide Dogs for the Blind, Chris Benninger, attended several screenings, and said the audience cheered, cried, and enjoyed the film. It has also been a critical success, earning a 100 percent ‘Certified Fresh’ rating from Rotten Tomatoes.

 

Arkansas Opens Animal Blood Bank

The Arkansas Animal Companion Blood Bank will be the state’s first blood bank for pets. A collaboration between Ozark Veterinary Specialty Care and the Animal Emergency Clinic of Northwest Arkansas, the blood bank will serve animals suffering from cancer, trauma, and other major illnesses.

Veterinarian Jarod Williams, who owns Ozark Veterinary Specialty Care, told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette that the blood bank will work like blood banks for humans, in which pets can receive blood or plasma. The blood bank is working on a donor drive, and Williams said the bank will start to collect blood by mid-October. There are many national blood banks for animals, and some regions have pet-specific blood banks.

 

Retirement Home Allows Pets

Castle View Windsor, in the heart of English city Windsor’s residential communities, will begin soon allowing its pet owners to have pets. Among the pet services offered by the retirement home are pet-grooming and dog-walking services.

“We know how important pets are in their owners’ lives,” Robin Hughes, managing director of Castle Retirement Living, said to The Telegraph, “which is why we want to offer a solution for purchasers who want to downsize, but also have a pet they don’t want to become separated from.”

 

Rein In Genetic Testing

Several scientists have written about the “untamed wilderness” of genetic testing on canines. Lisa Moses, V.M.D, D.A.C.V.I.M., Steven Niemi, D.V.M., D.A.C.L.A.M., and Elinor Karlsson, Ph.D., said in a recent issue of Nature that the canine genetic testing is growing more quickly than the research needed to prove its safety and usefulness. According to the scientists, at least 19 laboratories throughout the world market genetic testing products for pets, and at least one U.S. veterinary hospital chain recommends genetic testing for every dog.

“Pet genetics must be reined in,” Moses and her co-authors stated. “If not, some companies will continue to profit by selling potentially misleading and often inaccurate information; pets and their owners will suffer needlessly; and opportunities to improve pet health and even to leverage studies in dogs and cats to benefit human health might be lost.”

 

Asia Loves Pets

Market research firm Euromonitor projected that Asia’s pet-care industry will expand by 70 percent by 2022, reaching $21.1 billion in expenditures. China, Hong Kong, and Singapore lead the way in this burgeoning industry. Chinese pet owners are likely to spend almost 60 billion yuan on their pets by 2022. Owners in Hong Kong spent HK$1.3 billion on their pets last year, while Singapore last year spent $138 billion on their animals.

“Changes in consumer lifestyles and rising disposable income are driving acceptance for pets and boosting the entire pet-related industry along the way,” the study said.

The pet economy in Asia could be larger, as some items, such as pet insurance, canine massages, and pet hotels, are not counted in the global expenditure data Euromonitor analyzed. As these luxuries become more mainstream, it will push expenditures on pets to new heights.

 

Dogs Rescued

National Mill Dog Rescue in September saved more than 100 dogs from commercial breeding facilities, aka puppy mills, around the Midwest. Rescue crews placed the rescues in a shelter in Peyton, Colo. After volunteers have finished evaluating, naming, treating, and de-worming the animals, they will focus on finding the dogs forever families.

National Mill Dog Rescue forms relationships with breeders, convincing them to give up breeds with little commercial value for re-homing and adoption by National Mill Dog Rescue instead of breeders euthanizing them. The nonprofit has already saved, treated, and re-homed more than 13,000 dogs.

“The rescue side of our work is difficult. We spend long hours on the road, sometimes seeing unspeakable conditions. We work hard and we sleep fast,” the rescue’s founder and executive director, Theresa Strader, said in a statement. “We know how to work together; we are family.”

 

No Cats Allowed

Omaui, a small coastal village in New Zealand, has proposed a new plan that will phase out felines from its communities to save native wildlife. The regional council’s “pest plan” forces cat owners to register, neuter, and microchip their pet within six months, as well as bans residents from buying new cats when their old companions pass away. In an authoritarian turn of events, the plan also allows the government to confiscate cats from owners that defy the plan.

“We’re not cat haters, but we’d like to see responsible pet ownership,” John Collins, the Omaui Landcare Trust leader who supports the ban, told New Zealand’s Newshub news service, “and this really isn’t the place for cats.”

 

Rats, Man’s Best Friend?

A pet ownership survey by RightPet has found the most satisfying pet to own at age 15 is a rat, followed by cats, dogs, horses, and snakes. According to Jennifer Graham, D.V.M., at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, rats make good pets for children because they are small and easy to take care of.

“Rats can be calm, laid-back, not as nippy as other small mammals, and they can be handled a lot,” Graham told the magazine Parents.

Though hamsters, guinea pigs, and gerbils are more traditional options, small pets in general are great for young children to teach them responsibility, she said. RightPet founder and editor Brett Hodges said that rats are small, cheap, and, for those inclined, can be used to play some great pranks.

The results of the survey also found that women prefer cats to dogs, while men like dogs more than cats. People prefer larger dogs in general, and dog lovers are more curious and open to new experiences than cat lovers are.

 

Reptiles Go Wild

A new study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology found that inexpensive amphibians and reptiles that are sold as pets often end up in the wild. Ecologist Oliver Stringham said these pets that end up in the wild pose a problem for the native wildlife. His research suggested pet owners often misjudge the responsibility of owning these pets that can grow to large sizes and live for decades.

“It is difficult to unravel why an owner might release their household companion,” ecologist Oliver Stringham of Rutgers University said in a statement. “Impulsive buying decisions without proper research about care requirements could be a reason.”

Though these new residents can struggle to survive, these invasive amphibians and reptiles sometimes outcompete local species and bring new diseases. The Burmese Python ended up in Florida’s Everglades National Park and lowered local mammal and bird populations.

 

Seeking Shout Outs for Volunteers

In November, Bay Woof highlights volunteers who tirelessly help the local shelter and rescue worlds go round. Does your group have an amazing and indispensible volunteer you’d like to honor?

If you want to salute someone special, email 100-150 words to Editor@BayWoof.com about what the volunteer does plus a high-resolution image (300 dpi) by Oct 5. Include the subject’s name, city of residence, the organization’s name, and an explanation of what makes the person so important to the shelter and rescue operation. The author receives byline credit, and volunteers get the honor of recognition.