Military Dogs

Top 10 Animal News Stories of 2011

Camp Bow Wow, a dog day- and overnight-camp with locations throughout the United States and Canada, compiled the following Top 10 breaking animal news stories of 2011.

--The Animal Rescue Team of the Humane Society saved 1,673 dogs from puppy mills in 2011.

--A fallen soldier's family brought a dog they named "Hero" from Iraq to their home in Michigan. A social worker in Michigan went to great lengths to get her brother's two pet dogs out of Iraq after he died in December 2008. He had saved the stray Labrador and her pup in Baghdad.

--When illness forced vets in the United Kingdom to remove a Great Dane's eyes, her canine pal Maddison, also a Great Dane, stepped in and became a guide dog. The pair have been inseparable for years but were looking for a new home together after their owner could no longer care for them. When the Daily Mail featured the heartwarming tale of the dogs, more than 2,000 dog lovers offered to take them. The dogs now live with a couple in Cheshire.

--Jack the Cat was found after he went missing for more than seven weeks in the American Airlines baggage check area at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. Jack the Cat's whereabouts became a social-media phenomenon. Sadly, the cat died nearly two weeks later, a result of malnutrition that occurred while he was lost.

--Willow, a cat, disappeared from her home in Boulder, Colo., five years ago. She turned up recently in Manhattan, 1,800 miles from where she was last seen. A microchip implanted when she was a kitten helped track down her owners.

--When Louie York, a French bulldog, flew cross-country on Sept. 15, from New York to Los Angeles, his 18-hour travel route included stops in Chicago, Omaha, Denver and Phoenix, followed by a seven-hour drive home to the San Francisco Bay Area. French bulldogs have been banned from most commercial airlines -- not for their bark or bite but because so many have died in flight.

--Dozens of animals were killed after they had been freed from their cages at a 73-acre private reserve in Ohio.

--Insurance fraud has reached a new low in the United Kingdom, where authorities discovered a rise in claims on pet insurance policies. According to the Association of British Insurers, last year, $3 million was collected in pet insurance compared to $667,842 in 2009.

--More than 150 diamondback terrapins crossed an active runway recently, disrupting air traffic at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York so that they could continue their mating season.

--A dog lost in the tsunami was found alive three weeks later floating on a roof at sea near Japan.

Drug-Sniffing 'Tebow' the Dog
Catches Cocaine Smuggler
By Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY

Tebow-mania continued over the weekend even though Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos lost to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

A drug-sniffing dog named "Tebow" helped cops catch a cocaine smuggler at Orlando International Airport.

The crime-fighting canine sniffed out out a kilo of cocaine that was secretly stuffed inside a children's toy, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Details:

Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation agents told the paper the dog, named for the Denver Broncos quarterback, sniffed out what turned out to be a cocaine-stuffed toy in a bag picked up by Morales Castro, 20, on Dec. 8. Castro initially claimed the suitcase was not his, though he later told police he was paid to take it to someone, according to the report. He faces a federal charge of selling or distributing a controlled substance, according to the paper.

Pet Owners Happy with New Rule Allowing
- Again - Burying Human Ashes
with Beloved Animals

HARTSDALE, N.Y. — Life is good again — and death is looking better — for animal lovers in New York who want to be buried with their Persians, Pomeranians or potbellied pigs.

The state Division of Cemeteries has issued regulations that once again permit pet owners to have their ashes interred with their beloved animals in pet cemeteries.

In this Jan.19, 2011 file photo, headstones marking the graves of pets are spread throughout the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in Hartsdale, N.Y. The New York State Cemetery Board has proposed regulations that will once again permit pet owners to have their ashes interred with their beloved animals in pet cemeteries.

“My wish has been granted and I will be able to be with my furry family forever,” said Rhona Levy of the Bronx, who has planned for years to have her ashes buried with her dog and four cats at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in the New York City suburbs.

“This was one of the best moments of my life,” she added.

Under the new rules, approved Thursday in Albany, the interment of human ashes at pet cemeteries is permitted under certain conditions.

The pet cemetery must not advertise that it takes human ashes, and may not charge a fee for doing so. The cemetery also must tell customers who ask about human interment that they would be giving up some protections, such as mandatory record-keeping and restrictions on removal.

The 115-year-old Hartsdale cemetery has been adding human ashes to pet plots since 1925, and an estimated 700 people have joined the 70,000 animals there. But on Feb. 8, the cemetery division ordered a halt to the practice. Three days earlier, Hartsdale, 20 miles north of Manhattan, had been featured in an Associated Press story about the increase in human burials in pet cemeteries around the country.

The ban was issued statewide in April. The state said then that only not-for-profit corporations can take in human remains, even if cremated, and charging a fee violated not-for-profit law.

The state’s declaration angered some animal lovers, especially those who had prearranged their burials at pet cemeteries.

“Suddenly I’m not at peace anymore,” Levy said at the time.

Hartsdale asked the state for permission to at least accommodate those who had prepaid.

Taylor York, an attorney and law professor at Keuka College in Penn Yan, went further. She undertook to persuade the Cemetery Division that since pet cemeteries are private, they’re not covered by nonprofit corporation law.

York’s uncle, Thomas Ryan, had died in April. He had arranged — and prepaid — to join his wife and their two dogs, B.J. I and B.J. II, at Hartsdale. But the state ruling prevented that, and Ryan’s ashes remained in a wooden box at the home of his sister, York’s mother.

The Cemetery Division’s new ruling means Ryan can finally be buried, and York said a ceremony is scheduled for Friday.

“This new compromise gets my mother what she wants and my uncle what he intended,” she said. “It’s a Christmas gift of a kind, but this was agonizing and it’s a real shame that the state leaped before they looked.”

Just as the Hartsdale cemetery was the first to be told it couldn’t accommodate humans, it’s the first to get permission to resume the practice. The state and the cemetery signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” that permits the immediate burial of human ashes at Hartsdale. The cemetery resumed human interments Friday.

Ed Martin Jr., president and director of the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, said Monday he has no qualms about the restrictions. He said the cemetery dropped the $235 fee it used to charge to open an animal’s grave for its owner’s ashes.

“It’s not that it was a big moneymaker. It was a courtesy more than anything else,” he said.

York said she took some satisfaction that during the meeting last week, Cemetery Board Chairman Dan Shapiro acknowledged using private property as a cemetery himself.

“I spread my uncle’s ashes under a peach tree in my backyard,” Shapiro said.

Lost Dog Will Be Home for Christmas

TAMPA, Fla. -- No one knows how exactly how Addison the dachshund got from Kansas City to Florida recently, but at least she'll be home for Christmas.
When the affectionate, plump wiener dog arrived at animal services in Tampa this month, workers suspected she'd come from a loving home. A scan of her implanted microchip revealed she belongs to a family in Kansas City.
Local dachshund lovers stepped in to help get her home. An elementary school teacher donated her frequent-flier miles and bought a seat on an airplane for the dog and herself. They flew out Monday.

Addison's family adopted her when she was a puppy. No one seems to know how she got to Florida, but animal services workers suspect she was living with someone here until she got lost.

As we close out 2011, there is so much to be thankful for. We are thankful for you and the compassion you have shown the animals at Keepers of the Wild. I am writing you today to tell you about some of the lives you have helped change this year. Please take a moment to hear what your support has done.

Thanks to the help of committed supporters like you, over 175 animals call Keepers of the Wild home. Most of these innocent animals were rescued from lives of neglect and abuse but can now live the remainder of their lives being cherished and well cared for.

New arrivals and longtime residents all benefit from quality care on a daily basis. We ensured all animals on our grounds have had fresh water, nourishing food and supplements, medical care, enrichment toys, comfortable shelters and spacious natural habitats-- and their contentment shows!

Your support also enabled us to rescue twenty-three animals this year and eleven indigenous wild animals were rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

Most of what I described above couldn’t happen without gifts of time and money from supporters like you.

Thank you and we wish you all a happy, healthy holiday season!

Your on-going support is crucial to maintaining the animals at Keepers of the Wild. If possible, we hope you and your family will make your best year-end gift to ensure KOTW can continue our life-saving mission.

Every gift is appreciated and every gift makes a difference.

Please send your check or money order to:
Keepers of the Wild
13441 E. Highway 66
Valentine, AZ 86437

Veterinary Q&A: Itchy Skin and Hair Loss in Cats
Posted by Neena Pellegrini -

Dr. Stephen White, a professor of dermatology at the University of Califorina, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, answers this week's question.

Question: My cat has been losing hair in abnormal amounts for six months. She either tugs at it or licks it. I changed her dry food to grain free, but it hasn't seemed to make a difference. It isn't fleas. What can I do to provide her some relief?

Answer: There are a number of reasons why a cat is uncomfortable enough to pull out its own hair.

This may be caused by allergies (flea, food or environmental, such as allergies to house dust mites or pollens) or to certain parasites or fungi.

The most common cause of this discomfort (the medical term is pruritus, or the sensation of 'itch') is a flea allergy -- the more allergic a pet is to fleas, the LESS likely the owner is to see fleas on the pet; only a small number of fleas biting the animal will continue the allergy (which is from the proteins in the flea's saliva, injected in to the pet while feeding).

However, if we assume that either fleas are not the problem or that the owner has the cat on good quality flea control, then the next step is twofold:

-- Have the veterinarian scrape your cat's skin for parasites and perform a fungal culture to rule out a dermatophyte ('ringworm') infection.

-- Start a hypoallergenic diet trial. Unfortunately, there is no intrinsic value of the 'grain free' diets.

A hypoallergenic diet must be performed using a protein source the pet has not eaten before. These diets are best obtained through a veterinarian's office; most of the diets marketed for allergic pets in pet stores or supermarkets contain a number of different proteins.

Such a diet should be the only thing fed (plus water) for two months, without any treats, chewable medications, flavored toothpastes or flavored toys.

It is important in cats to monitor the palatability of the diet, as cats that refuse a new diet for several days can become seriously ill.

To avoid these problems, the old diet can be mixed in with the new one for the first week. After two months, the pet should be fed its old diet again. If the itching/pulling out of the hair decreases on the hypoallergenic diet, and becomes worse on being fed the original diet, than the pet has a food allergy.

If not, and if all skin scrapings and fungal cultures have proved to be negative, most likely the cat has environmental allergies and should be referred to a specialist for further evaluation.

--Dr. Stephen White

Dog Days: Bo's Whereabouts Spark
 Latest White House Controversy
By Peter Nicholas -

President Obama shops for Christmas presents with his dog, Bo, at PetSmart in Alexandria, Va. (Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images / December 21, 2011)

Reporting from Honolulu—

We live in a world of conspiracy theories -- where nothing is as it seems, where even a politician's benign photo op might have a titillating back story.

Which brings us to the Obama family dog, Bo.

Bo was last seen in the company of the president, who took him to PetSmart in Alexandria, Va., on Wednesday as part of a holiday shopping excursion.

So far, so good.

The rest of the Obama family, as we know, has already started vacationing and is in Hawaii awaiting the president's arrival.

Was Bo with them?

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported on Sunday that a neighbor spotted Bo on a walk in the tony neighborhood where the Obama family is staying.

Is it possible? Could the image-meisters at the White House really have insisted that Bo be flown back to Washington for a quick photo-op with the home-alone president?

That would raise pretty valid questions about whether taxpayers paid for the flight.

We asked First Lady Michelle Obama's office and quickly got an answer:

"Bo has been in D.C. this whole time."

Dog with Three Legs Captures Hearts
By Rob Klindt -

Recovered from a severe injury, lost dog gets a new home and second chance

Humane Society Silicon Valley officials are celebrating the adoption of a special dog this week. Brownie is a young Miniature Pinscher that has just three legs.

He came to the facility’s Milpitas campus earlier this fall in bad shape. He had a severely injured leg and foot, most likely from being hit by a car.

After extensive evaluation, veterinarians working with the Humane Society decided to amputate Brownie’s injured left rear leg. The decision was partially based on past experience staff members have had in other cases where dogs did quite well with just three limbs. And Brownie, otherwise healthy and with a good disposition, seemed to be a good candidate for the procedure.

The decision paid off.

Staff members were amazed to see Brownie bounce back from the surgery in just 36 hours. They reported that less than a week later he was playing, running and jumping in the on-campus dog park.

Brownie even starred in a Humane Society Silicon Valley YouTube video that showed him energetically playing with volunteer staff members who eventually let him off-leash to chase balls and run free in the grassy dog park.

Soon Brownie was greeting visitors and meeting potential adoptive families at the center. It wasn’t long before the right match was made and Brownie found a new home.

While Brownie is a unique animal, Humane Society workers say his success story is not. Staff members credit success stories like this to the strong support, commitment and financial donations the center receives from the community. The donations allow the staff to care for animals like Brownie without hesitation and offer them a second chance at a full life.

The Humane Society Silicon Valley operates its Animal Community Center at 901 Ames Ave., Milpitas. The facility includes animal care services, community education, adoptive services, a dog park and pet store. Adoptions are available every day. For details, visit their website at

Are Americans Crazy for Treating Our Pets Like Kids?
By Sharon L. Peters, Special for USA TODAY

Stocking stuffers: Teacher Susan Sallee shops with her basset hound, Gerdi, during one of their routine visits to IncrediPet Select pet store in Lexington, Ky. David Stephenson, for USA TODAY

The season of giving inevitably prompts pet lovers (53% of dog owners and 38% of cat owners) to gift their animals, often lavishly, says a survey by the American Pet Products Association.

Obsessed with pets: When is it a problem?

Are some people over-the-top — in an unhealthy way — about their animals? Probably, says Waco, Texas, psychologist Julia Becker. But the number, she believes, is extremely small.

There may be a problem if a person:

-Perpetually neglects other relationships to give excessive time and attention to pets.

-Uses pets as an excuse to get out of doing other activities.

The most common issue:

People who insist on taking badly behaved or ill-trained pets to inappropriate places where they’re not welcome. But that’s not generally a sign of mania; that’s self-absorption, probably evident in non-pet-related actions. “It’s always unfortunate when people aren’t respectful of others,” says Becker, especially when it might fuel negative stereotypes about pet owners.

It also prompts the question: Is there something, well, weird about that?

According to a Kelton Research survey commissioned by Milo's Kitchen pet treats:

•81% regard their pets as full members of the family.

•58% call themselves their pets' "mommy" or "daddy."

•77% buy pets birthday gifts.

•More than half say they talk about pets more than politics or sex.

Well, grinches, here's what mental health professionals have to say about all this pet-loving goofiness: The blatant puppy love much of America is displaying does not spell the end of society as we know it, and the pet-obsessed are not pathetically off-kilter humans in need of intense therapy.

"What's the harm?" says Stanley Coren, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of British Columbia and a Psychology Today columnist on human-pet interactions. "Someone may go spend $20 on a rhinestone collar. That's pretty much the worst that will happen."

"Most people recognize, whatever endearments they use or actions they might take, that their pets are not furry humans," he concludes. But emotionally healthy humans have the "need to nurture," and pets are the perfect recipient. They return the favor of all the love, care and baby talk with their innate ability, proven in scientific studies, to reduce stress, speed healing, and improve humans' fitness and social-interaction levels.

It must further be noted, Coren says, that people's relationships with their pets generally have none of the "conflict that probably exists" in their relationships with humans. "Who can't use more of that sometimes?" he adds.

Although many think treating pets as family is brand new, it's centuries old, Coren says. In the 1700s, Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, was deeply devoted to his dogs, and when his greyhound Biche died, he wrote wrenchingly of his heartache: "It is best to be too sensitive than too hard." Playwright Eugene O'Neill didn't get along with his kids but adored his Dalmation Blemie, who had an Hermes raincoat and a four-poster bed. In Julius Caesar's time, women toting small bejeweled dogs about Rome was quite the rage.

"We tend as a society to be very contemporary-centric," believing the current population has invented every pattern of thought and deed, Coren says. The way he sees it, this magnificent obsession "is not a sea change, it's merely a trend."

Treating pets like family is "especially pervasive … among empty nesters, singles and/or childless, and the homebound," says Waco, Texas, psychologist Julia Becker. Those groups are growing because we're living longer, and also because so many people aren't having children. Her feeling about pet obsessions: "It's fun for the people who do it. There's nothing wrong with it."

Lexington, Ky., teacher Susan Sallee is unapologetic about her affection for her basset hound, Gerdi. She threw a party for Gerdi's first birthday in January, sends her to doggie daycare when she works late, and displays puppy photos at work. "Some people may think that's ridiculous," she says with the lack of defensiveness of a person confident in her choices.

Athough Sallee has a rich, full life, she's warmed by Gerdi's presence. She'll gift her at Christmas — probably new squeaky toys, gourmet holiday doggie cookies and possibly a new bed.

"It's my responsibility," Sallee says, "to give her a good life." And if what Gerdi has is beyond merely a "good life," Sallee sees that as tit for tat. "Gerdi gives so very much."

Military Dogs:
Yuma Proving Ground Trains Dogs for Deployment
By Mara Knaub -

Capt. Emily Pieracci, left, checks the vital signs of Liam, a 1-year-old Belgium Malinois, during a check up and physical exam at the Yuma Proving Grounds veterinary clinic in Yuma, Ariz. Liam and his handler Sgt. Tudor Lundreth, right, are part of the Tactical Explosive Detection Dog unit that will be deployed to Afghanistan in the coming months.

YUMA, Ariz. — Aster, a 1-year-old long-haired Labrador Chesapeake, had an upset stomach and threw up in the examining room of the Yuma Proving Ground’s veterinarian clinic.

The dog is one of several dozens that just arrived from Indiana, where they embarked on a military working dog training program. At YPG’s Mine Detection School, the dogs will train in detecting explosives in buildings, vehicles, buried in the roadway or somewhere in the field, probably in Afghanistan.

Aster is a “spare,” a standby dog in case one of the others doesn’t pass the medical exam or training. If the playful and energetic dog passes the medical exams, it will take part in “rigorous training” as they learn to sniff out mines and explosives.

“A lot of the teams don’t make it. They’re cut,” said Mark Schauer, public affairs specialist at YPG.

Capt. Emily Pieracci, veterinarian officer in charge, gave Aster an antibiotic. “They can get the travel bug, just like people do,” she explained.

On Thursday YPG veterinarians conducted the physical exams and laboratory tests.

“The dogs will be examined to make sure they are healthy and medically fit to start training,” Pieracci said.

“Just like us, if we don’t feel good, if we have the flu, we don’t work as good as we could. It’s their job to keep the handlers alive and the handlers’ job is to keep the unit safe.”

The dogs already spent four weeks training in Indiana. After their training at YPG, they will be deployed to Afghanistan in early January.

Each year YPG prepares hundreds of dogs and handlers for deployment overseas, as well as trains K-9 units for civilian law enforcement agencies, according to Schauer.

YPG has eight different programs from multiple branches of the military, each managed separately and with a unique mission.

Schauer pointed out that in Afghanistan, “American forces have to contend with an estimated 10 million legacy mines from past conflicts, as well as new devices placed by insurgents. YPG has the expertise, facilities and geographical features working dog units need to train realistically.”

Sgt. 1st Class Harry Franco, non-commissioned officer in charge of the program, pointed out that YPG’s environment is the closest to Afghanistan’s available in the continental United States.

“A standard combat engineer would take hours to extract a casualty from this minefield,” Franco said. “We train these teams to do it in 45 minutes.”

“Dogs are able to detect odors nearly 100 million times faster than humans can, a feat that the soldiers are counting on to save them from danger,” Schauer said.

The dogs are rewarded with a tennis ball and praise whenever they find hidden explosives.

Going off into the field, the work is life and death, Schauer noted.

Outside the clinic, Spc. Ryan Denton and Koma, a 1½-year-old German shepherd, awaited their turn for an exam. Denton said he chose to enter the working dog program because he loves dogs and wants to be an asset to the Army.

He’s already bonded with the dog. “They don’t like to be out of our sight,” he said.

Also waiting for their turn were handler PV2 Thurwin Lane and his partner, Bartje, a 1½-year-old Belgium Malinois.

“They gave me the option. I said yes. It’s an opportunity to try something new,” Lane said when asked why he’s participating in the program.

He pointed out that he also likes dogs. “I actually have a couple of sheepdog back home (in Rock Point, Ariz.).”

For Staff Sgt. Matthew Satterlee, who works with Satan (he pointed out the dog was named before working together), a 1½-year-old German shepherd, working with these dogs means “being able to find explosives and save lives.”

Satterlee noted that Satan stays in a kennel until it’s time to work. “They’re not pets. But you do build a bond, and that’s what gets the dog to work for you.

“It’s fun for them, it’s a game. Their reward is a tennis ball if they do their job.”

Merry Christmas
 and Happy Holidays !!

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