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Archive for March, 2007

Pet Food Recall

I wondered when something like this was going to happen

When we had last September’s E. coli breakout with the spinach, I figured it was going to only be a matter of time until something similar happened with pet food. Unfortunately, I was right.

In a front page story in Sunday’s Times by Associated Press writer Matthew Verrinde:

Menu Foods, the Ontario-based company that makes wet food sold under many top pet food brand food names, “said Saturday it was recalling dog food sold under 48 brands and cat food sold under 40 brands, including Iams, Nutro and Eukanuba. The food was distributed throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico by major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Kroger and Safeway.”

An unknown number of cats and dogs suffered kidney failure and about 10 died after eating the affected food, the company said. “The recall is limited to ‘cuts and gravy’ style pet food that was sold in cans and pouches.”

The story said, “A complete list of the recalled products along with product codes, descriptions and production dates is available from the Menu Foods Web site, www.menufoods.com/recall.

The company designated two phone numbers that pet owners can call for information: 866-463-6738 and 866-895-2708.” I tried both these numbers repeatedly this morning and they were always busy. I suspect they’re getting a LOT of calls.

The complete story in Sunday’s Times can be read at http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/16929669.htm

I’ll immediately update this blog with any new information on this as soon as I get it.

If anyone has anything to add to this, please click on “Comments” below.

Posted on Monday, March 19th, 2007
Under: Food recalls | 5 Comments »

200 dogs killed in drive against strays in southern Indian city

Millions of stray dogs live on the streets of India, forming packs that attack people.

You think we have dog problems in suburban and urban communities in the U.S.? Think again.

I spotted this story by Associated Press writer Gavin Rabinowitz on the Associated Press wires last Tuesday:

“NEW DELHI — Authorities in the southern city of Bangalore have killed more than 200 strays in a bid to rid the city of dangerous packs of dogs, officials said Tuesday.

“The killings of the animals in India’s high-tech hub have sparked protests and allegations of animal cruelty.

“Officials launched a drive to round up strays last week after a young child was mauled to death by a pack of street dogs, the second such deadly incident in three months, Municipal Commissioner K. Jairaj told The Associated Press.

“More than 1,300 dogs were captured in five days and more than 200 that were identified by veterinarians as diseased, rabid or aggressive were euthanized, Jairaj said.

“The drive, however, has been suspended until more animal shelters can be built.

“Animal activists also have protested, saying dogs were being indiscriminately killed and cruelly treated.

“Millions of strays live on the streets in India. Some, particularly in areas near garbage dumps or butcher shops, form dangerous feral packs that have attacked people. Rabies is also rampant. … ”

There’s lots more, but I had trouble getting past the part about millions of stray dogs living on the streets, and uncontrolled rabies. This is probably a good place to remind you that rabies is a fatal disease.

What if we were talking about California?

Think about it.

(You can read the rest of the story at Yahoo News: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070313/ap_on_re_as/india_dogs_1)

Posted on Friday, March 16th, 2007
Under: Stray dogs | No Comments »

Watch Frida & Diego Barn Owl raise their family

Take a look! Frida has now laid four eggs and is incubating them in her nest!

Frida and Diego Barn Owl live in a nest box in the Benicia Arsenal. Their every move is monitored by a video camera (webcam) and you can observe the results live, 24/7, on the Internet. Just dial your computer to http://www.TheOwlCam.com and enjoy.

Posted on Thursday, March 15th, 2007
Under: Barn Owl | 1 Comment »

Victory for child safety, birds and other wildlife

EPA to put limits on toxic rat poisons

According to an American Bird Conservancy news tipsheet dated March 13:

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed mitigation plan for rat poisons in the Federal Register that should greatly reduce accidental poisonings of kids, birds and other wildlife. This is an important victory that ABC has sought for many years following the deaths of thousands of birds of prey, including great horned owls, golden eagles, and bald eagles and up to 15,000 poisonings of children each year.

“EPA will restrict the use of three rodenticides targeted by ABC — brodifacoum, bromodialone, and difethialone — to certified pesticide applicators. These three chemicals have the greatest potential for poisoning wild birds and scavenging mammals that eat poisoned rodents. In addition, all over-the-counter sales of other rodenticides will now have to be in tamper-resistant bait stations. The new regulations will limit the indiscriminate use of these highly toxic chemicals, and the tamper-resistant bait stations will also help prevent accidental child poisonings.

“EPA will be accepting public comments until May 18, followed by a review of comments, and then a final rule. The federal register notice is available at EPA’s Web site, www.epa.gov — docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2006-0955.

“For more information, contact Michael Fry, ABC’s Pesticides and Birds Program Director, mfry@abcbirds.org.”

While it’s wonderful that the EPA is finally getting around to restricting these pesticides, it always amazes me how long it sometimes takes them to do things like this. Especially when “up to” 15,000 children are poisoned annually. That’s totally unacceptable.

When I was Curator of the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, Calif., back in 1967-1978, while caring for and rehabilitating injured and orphaned wild animals, we regularly treated red-tailed hawks that were suffering from secondary poisoning after foraging on the carcasses of ground squirrels that had been killed by rodent poisons. Some of these birds were saved by our creative and quick-thinking veterinarians, but most of the raptors died.

Finally, almost 30 years later, it looks like a governmental agency may finally do something to (hopefully) keep these beautiful raptors, and lots of other predators and wild scavengers from dying.

Cross your fingers and dwell on that thought.

American Bird Conservancy works to conserve native wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. For more information see www.abcbirds.org.

Posted on Wednesday, March 14th, 2007
Under: Pesticide | No Comments »

Survey of Humane Voters

Did you know nine in 10 humane voters will be likely to cross party lines to vote for an animal-friendly candidate?

I just received the press release below from the Humane Society of the United States. I think you’ll find it to be VERY interesting.

I’ve always wondered if humane, animal-friendly people could become (or already are) a political force in elections and other situations.

Finally … somebody … in this case, the Humane Society of the United States … has decided to take a look at this very thing.

The next big question — how do all these nice people get organized?

Survey of Humane Voters Reveals Bipartisan Support for Animal-Friendly Candidates
WASHINGTON (March 12, 2007) — While the 2008 election is still 20 months away and presidential hopefuls are starting to hit the early primary states, the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) today announced the results of a national survey of humane voters showing broad-based interest and concern for animal protection issues from Americans of all major political affiliations.

Among the survey’s highlights, nine in ten humane voters across all party affiliations said they would be likely to cross party lines to vote for an animal-friendly candidate. A majority of these voters also said that animal protection was a more important priority to them when selecting candidates than any other top issue of the day, including the environment, health care, education, jobs, the economy, and immigration.

“This survey confirms what we have long known: that people who care about the humane treatment of animals are becoming a powerful political force, and are so passionate about the issue that they will cross party lines to select a candidate who is better on animal welfare issues,” said Michael Markarian, president of HSLF. “Lawmakers should realize that support for animals is not just good public policy, but also good politics.”

Drawn from a large sample of animal welfare donors and advocates, nearly 2,300 respondents answered questions related to their party affiliation, their political activities, and their knowledge and relative importance of animal protection issues when selecting a candidate. The survey was conducted by the Seattle-based Humane Research Council.

Results from the national survey include:
** Humane voters “get out the vote” and make their voices heard. Nearly every one of the respondents has voted in national or local elections (94 percent), and 86 percent have contacted an elected official.

** Animal protection is an important electoral issue. Overall 82 percent of respondents rated animal protection as a 5, 6, or 7 on a scale from 1-7 where 7 means “very important”; when voting. Of these, half rated animal protection issues a 7 when voting (41 percent of the total sample).

** Animal protection issues resonate with voters across all party affiliations. Nearly half of respondents reported themselves as Democrats (46 percent), a fourth (24 percent) as Independents, 17 percent as Republicans, and 13 percent answered “none of the above.”

** Humane voters will cross party lines to support a candidate strong on animal protection. A strong majority (60 percent) of respondents report they would be “very likely” to vote against their usual party affiliation for an animal issue, with another 29 percent reporting they would be “somewhat likely,” yielding an overall proportion of nearly nine in ten (89 percent) who are likely to vote against their usual party affiliation for animals. More than half of Democrats (55 percent) and Republicans (58 percent) and seven in ten Independents (71 percent) reported being “very likely” to cross party lines over animal issues.

** Among humane voters, animal protection issues rate above other top-tier policy and political issues in terms of both knowledge and relative importance. On a scale of 1-7, with 7 being “very knowledgeable,” two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) rated their knowledge of animal protection issues as a 5, 6, or 7. By comparison, 64 percent rated their knowledge of environmental protection similarly, 58 percent for health care, 54 percent for education, 52 percent for jobs and the economy and 45 percent for immigration. With respect to relative importance, more than half of respondents (57 percent) ranked animal protection as the first or second priority. Nearly the same number (51 percent) rated environmental issues among the top two concerns. All other issues ranked significantly lower — with 39 percent ranking health care, 26 percent ranking public education and 20 percent ranking jobs and the economy — among the top two priorities.

** Among animal protection issues, problems plaguing pets continue to be of paramount concern to humane voters, followed by animal fighting, factory farming, and other issues. Nearly three-fourths of respondents (72 percent) rank pet overpopulation as one of the top two issues facing animals. By comparison, 46 percent ranked animal fighting among the top two concerns and 40 percent said the welfare of farm animals is a priority. An even number of respondents ranked hunting, trapping, and fur issues (21 percent) and urban wildlife conflicts (21 percent) among the top two animal issues facing policymakers.

** Humane voters are willing to increase their level of political activity on behalf of animal protection issues. Compared with political activities they have taken in the past, humane voters are likely to increase their engagement. Approximately half (53 percent) have contributed money to political candidates or campaigns in the past, compared with 85 percent who report they are likely to do so in support of animal protection issues. While about a third of respondents have volunteered their time to a political campaign (36 percent), posted a political campaign sign in their yard (33 percent), or put a political campaign bumper sticker on their car (30 percent), twice as many are willing to do so to advance animal protection issues (73 percent, 65 percent and 61 percent, respectively).

More about the Humane Society Legislative Fund at www.hslf.org

More about the Humane Society of the United States at www.hsus.org

Posted on Monday, March 12th, 2007
Under: Humane voter survey | No Comments »

Has Spring finally sprung?

A friend and I were hiking on Diablo last Saturday. We went from Mitchell Canyon to Eagle Peak to Prospector’s Gap and returned via the Falls Trail. Baby blue eyes were in bloom on Bald Ridge and a fire road below Prospector’s Gap. Since we were at over 2,000 feet, I’d say this could be a sign of spring. (Bob Solotar, Richmond)

Posted on Friday, March 9th, 2007
Under: Seasons | No Comments »

California Animal Legislation as of March 8, 2007

Here are the latest animal-related bills that are trying to become laws in Sacramento. Got a problem with one of them? Would you like any of them to become laws? Let your Assemblyperson or Senator know how you feel. Address for all legislators is: State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814.

Many thanks to Virginia Handley of PawPAC* for compiling this information.

*PawPAC is California’s Political Action Committee for Animals. You can reach PawPAC at 415-646-0622; info@pawpac.org; http://www.pawpac.org.

You can obtain official legislative information by going to this web site: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html. By entering the number of the bill, you can access the bill text, status, committee analysis and roll call votes.

ASSEMBLY BILLS
AB 31 by Assemblyman Kevin DeLeon re: Urban Parks.
Increases the number of counties who can apply for grants under the Urban Park Act of 2006 by lowering the definition of “heavily urbanized county” from a population of 500,000 to 350,000, thus increasing wildlife habitat.

AB 64 by Assemblywoman Patty Berg re: Emergencies.
Enacts the Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act, including licensed veterinarians and vet techs from out of state, to allow them to practice in California during emergencies. AB 64 can help to implement last year’s AB 450 to include animals in disaster plans.

AB 222 by Assemblyman Bill Emmerson re: Undomesticated Burros.
Authorizes the capture, removal, and relocation of undomesticated burros from private land at the request of the landowner if the burros are at risk of injury from dangers such as traffic or insufficient habitat. The burros may not be sold for slaughter but may be moved to a sanctuary.

AB 594 by Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally re: Farm Animals.
Mandates farm animals must be able to stand, lie down, get up, move their heads freely, rest, turn around, and extend all limbs and wings by 2013. Exempts farm animals in transportation, research, rodeos, fairs, 4-H, slaughter, vet care, and 7 days prior to pigs giving birth.

AB 667 by Assemblyman Cameron Smyth re: Police Dogs and Horses.
Increases the penalty for anyone who strikes, beats, kicks, cuts, stabs, shoots, poisons, or in any manner seriously injures a police horse or dog from 16 months in jail to three, five or seven years.

AB 670 by Assemblyman Todd Spitzer re: Animal Bites.
Requires an owner of an animal who has bitten someone to provide the person who has been bitten his/her name, address, telephone, name and breed of the animal, and proof of rabies vaccination. The bite need not to have broken the skin.

AB 777 by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine re: Elephants.
Prohibits bullhooks, chaining unless for medical treatment, and mandates enrichments, seven feet deep pools, soft flooring, and the ability to walk five miles a day. Requirements on enrichments, pools, flooring, and space do not apply to existing facilities unless they expend capital funds.

AB 815 by Assemblyman Tom Berryhill re: Hunting/Fishing.
Prohibits any city or county from enacting a local ordinance that affects hunting or fishing unless it endangers human life. AB 815 could inhibit Boards of Supervisors from prohibiting anterless deer hunts.

AB 821 by Assemblyman Pedro Nava re: Hunting with Lead Shot.
Enacts the Condor Preservation Act to prohibit lead shot within condor habitat and, as funding is available, provide hunters with free non-lead ammunition.

AB 828 by Assemblyman Ira Ruskin re: Wildlife Corridors.
Requires the Wildlife Conservation Board to determine what areas are most essential as wildlife corridors and utilize the California Comprehensive Wildlife Action Plan to protect those corridors.

AB 912 by Assemblywoman Nicole Parra re: Hunting.
Creates a mentored hunting program that allows anyone to hunt small game, upland game birds, and waterfowl without a license for a year if accompanied by a qualified mentor.

AB 923 by Assemblywoman Lois Wolk re: Wildlife Action Plan.
Requires the Department of Fish and Game to create an advisory committee to implement the California Wildlife Action Plan to protect and conserve nongame species not covered under the Endangered Species Act.

AB 939 by Assemblywoman Nell Soto re: Teachers.
Prohibits the hiring of any teacher who has been convicted of a felony for cruelty to animals.

AB 1016 by Assemblyman George Plescia re: Race Horses.
Allows race horse breeders, trainers, boarders, to sell any horse worth less than $4,000 to pay for unpaid bills without having to go through a court.

AB 1066 by Assemblyman John Laird re: Global Warming.
Requires local governments to consider the impacts of climate change when preparing a coastal program for Coastal Commission approval and requires the Commission to assist them in obtaining grants to defray the cost of mitigating the impacts.

AB 1143 by Assemblyman Bill Maze re: Endangered Species.
Makes a nonsubstansive change to the endangered species law. Amendments should be expected.

AB 1347 by Assemblywoman Anna Caballero re: Pet Shops.
Declares the intent of the Legislature to establish standards of care for animals in pet shops. Amendments should be expected.

AB 1614 by Assemblywoman Audra Stickland re: Rodeos.
Lowers the definition of rodeo from four events to three in order to cover more rodeos, such as charreadas, under existing law requiring a veterinarian, or a vet on call, to treat injuries to animals.

AB 1634 by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine re: Spay/Neuter.
Requires any four month old dog or cat to be spayed or neutered unless he/she is a purebred registered with one of several purebred organizations such as the American Kennel Club or International Cat Association.

SENATE BILLS
SB 353 by Senator Sheila Kuehl re: Restraint Orders.
Authorizes the court to add animals to restraint orders to protect them from possible harm from domestic abuse.

SB 863 by Senator Leland Yee re: Horse Racing.
Expresses the intent of the Legislature to encourage horse breeding to ensure a sufficient supply for horse racing in California.

SCR 9 by Senator Darrell Steinberg re: Spay Day 2007.
Declares February 27 as Spay Day 2007 and encourages spaying and neutering to combat pet overpopulation.

SCR 19 by Senator Gloria Negrete-McLeod re: West Nile Virus.
Declares April 23 to 29 as West Nile Virus Awareness Week. West Nile Virus causes meningitis, encephalitis, and death to horses, avian species, wildlife, and humans.

CALIFORNIA FISH & GAME COMMISSION
1416 – 9TH St., Sacramento, CA 95814

Hunting and Trapping Regulations
The Commission has voted to consider banning lead shot In the condor habitat. They also plan to increase “hunting opportunities” for junior hunts, archery hunts, and trophy hunting. Next Hearing: April 12 or 13, Bodega Bay. Write: California Fish & Game Commission. Ask them to include requirements for the humane trapping and handling of “nuisance” wildlife. Support a ban on lead shot, the leading cause of condor mortality.

Turtles and Frogs in Live Animal Markets.
The Commission voted to “go to notice” to pass a regulation to prohibit the importation of turtles and frogs for the live animal markets. But no action has been taken to submit any regulation. Write: California Fish & Game Commission. Tell them to protect our native wildlife from non-native turtles and frogs who are imported by the hundreds of thousands and commonly released depleting populations of native wildlife such as the Western Pond Turtle and the Red Legged Frog.

Siskiyou Mountain Salamander. Oppose
The timber industry wants to delist the salamander as a threatened species. Next Hearing: April 12 or 13, Bodega Bay. Write: California Fish and Game Commission. Tell them the salamander has a limited range and clear cutting is their greatest threat.

Advisory Committee on Humane Treatment of Wild Animals.
The Committee advises the Department on inspection procedures to enforce permit requirements including minimum standards for wild animals in captivity. Next Meeting: April 25, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 1416 – 9th St., Room 1206, Sacramento.

Marjorie Davis Resolution
Marjorie Davis, 86, of Wildlife Fawn Rescue received a Resolution from the Legislature presented by Assemblywoman Patty Berg in appreciation of her decades of work in fawn rehabilitation and for her authorship of “Leap to Freedom” a compilation of true stories. Write: Wildlife Fawn Rescue, PO Box 5, Kenwood, California 95452. Congratulate and thank her for all she has done for wildlife.

For copies of bills: www.leginfo.ca.gov.

List compiled by Virginia Handley. 415-646-0622 or 415-474-4021; info@pawpac.org.

** Your donation to Paw PAC, PO Box 475012, San Francisco, California 94147, helps makes this alert possible. **

Posted on Thursday, March 8th, 2007
Under: Animal protection legislation | No Comments »

It’s harbor seal pupping season at Point Reyes

The ASPCA Poison Control Center’s Top 10 Calls of 2006 are just below this piece, under March 5, 2007.

Drakes Estero is closed from March 1 through June 30 to protect the harbor seals during this sensitive time of year when they are giving birth.

Point Reyes National Seashore has the largest mainland breeding colony of harbor seals in California. Resting and pupping harbor seals come onshore in various parts of the park particularly in Tomales Bay, Tomales Point, Double Point, Drakes Estero and Bolinas Lagoon. Several hundred seals congregate within the Estero and numerous seals assemble near the mouth of Tomales Bay on tidal sand bars off Dillon Beach.

The closure applies to kayak and canoe usage but is applicable to surfers, windsurfers, abalone divers, and other water sport users around harbor seal colonies in the area. The National Park Service asks park visitors to avoid disturbing seals to ensure a successful pupping season. Research at Point Reyes has demonstrated the harbor seal populations rapidly decline when disturbed during the breeding season.

You can find out a lot more about these interesting marine animals and the beautiful seashore where they live, at the Point Reyes National Seashore Web site at http://www.nps.gov/pore

Even better, pack a picnic lunch and go walk on the beach some Sunday afternoon with someone you care about. There are plenty of spots where you can watch the harbor seals and their pups and the many other marine species that live there. It’s wonderful!

Have you ever seen pelicans diving into the surf after fish? It’s hilarious!

Posted on Wednesday, March 7th, 2007
Under: Harbor seals | No Comments »

ASPCA Poison Control Center’s Top 10 Calls of 2006

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals just released the top 10 calls of 2006 for its Poison Control Center. A MUST read for all pet owners. These are emergency calls received from frantic pet owners whose pets are in trouble. You may be surprised to learn that this list reveals a significant increase in calls pertaining to common household items such as ingestion of human medication.

Here is more information on the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center. http://www.aspca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pro_apcc

Top 10 calls of 2006:
1. Human Medications: For several years now, this category has been number one on the ASPCA’s list of common hazards, and 2006 was no exception. Last year, more than 78,000 calls involving common human drugs such as painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants and dietary supplements were managed by the Center — a 69 percent increase over 2005. “Pet parents should never give their pet any medication without the direction of a veterinarian — just one extra-strength acetaminophen can be deadly to a cat, and just four regular-strength ibuprofen can lead to serious kidney problems in a 10-pound dog,” says Dr. Hansen. To avoid inadvertent poisoning from medications, store them in a secure cabinet above the counter and out of the reach of pets.

2. Insecticides: The APCC handled more than 27,000 cases pertaining to products used to kill fleas, ticks and other insects in 2006, up more than 28 percent from 2005. According to Dr. Hansen, “A key factor in the safe use of products that eliminate fleas, ticks and other pesky bugs, is reading and following label instructions exactly. Some species of animals can be particularly sensitive to certain types of insecticides, so it is vital that you never use any product not specifically formulated for your pet.” It is also a good idea to consult with your pet’s veterinarian before beginning any flea and tick control program.

3. Veterinary Medications: Surprising as it may seem, last year the APCC managed more than 12,000 cases involving animal-related preparations such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, heartworm preventatives, de-wormers, antibiotics, vaccines and nutritional supplements — a 93 percent hike in volume. “Although these products are formulated for use in pets, it is very important to always read and follow label directions for use exactly,” says Dr. Hansen. “As with flea and tick preparations, many medications are intended for use in certain species only, and potentially serious problems could result if given to the wrong animal or at too high a dose.”

4. Plants: The number of cases involving plants also shot up by more than 111 percent in 2006 to more than 9,300. Some varieties that can be harmful to pets include lilies, azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, kalanchoe and schefflera. ”Just one or two sago palm nuts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and even liver failure,” says Dr. Hansen. “Also, lilies are highly toxic to cats — even in small amounts they can produce life-threatening kidney failure.” While poisonous plants should certainly be kept away from pets, it is also a good idea to discourage animals from nibbling on any variety of plant, as even non-toxic plants can lead to minor stomach upset.

5. Rodenticides: Last year, approximately 8,800 calls about rat and mouse poisons were received by the APCC, representing an increase of more than 27 percent over 2005. Depending on the type of rodenticide, ingestions can lead to potentially life-threatening problems for pets including bleeding, seizures or even damage to the kidneys or other vital organs. “Should pet owners opt to use a rodenticide around their home, they should make sure that the bait is placed only in areas completely inaccessible to their animals,” says Dr. Hansen.

6. Household Cleaners: In 2006, approximately 7,200 calls pertaining to cleaning agents such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants were received — up 38 percent from the year before. Says Dr. Hansen, “Depending on the circumstances of exposure, some household cleaners can lead to gastrointestinal irritation or even severe oral burns for pets.” Additionally, irritation to the respiratory tract may be possible if a product is inhaled. “All household cleaners and other chemicals should be stored in a secure location well out of the reach of pets,” recommends Dr. Hansen, “and when cleaning your pet’s food and water bowls, crate or other habitat, a mild soap such as a hand dishwashing detergent along with hot water is a good choice over products containing potentially harsh chemicals.”

7. Chocolate: Always a common food-related call, more than 4,800 chocolate calls were received by the APCC last year, an 85 percent increase from 2005. Depending on the variety, chocolate can contain large amounts of fat and caffeine-like substances known as methylxanthines, which, if ingested in significant amounts, could potentially cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity. In severe cases, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures have been noted — and it could even be fatal. “Typically, the darker the chocolate, the greater the potential for poisoning,” says Dr. Hansen. “Baking chocolate contains the highest amount of methylxanthines, and just two ounces could cause serious problems for a 10-pound dog.”

8. Chemical Hazards: A newcomer to the top 10 category, this includes such harmful items as volatile petroleum-based products, alcohols, acids, and gases. In 2006, the APCC received more than 4,100 calls related to chemical hazards — an astronomical jump in call volume of more than 300 percent. “Substances in this group can cause a wide variety of problems,” Dr. Hansen explains, “ranging from gastrointestinal upset and depression to respiratory difficulties and chemical burns.” Commonly-used chemicals you should keep your pets away from include ethylene glycol antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners and pool/spa chemicals.

9. Physical Hazards: While not necessarily all toxic, items in this group consists of objects that could pose a choking hazard, risk for intestinal obstruction, or other physical injury, and in 2006, the number of physical hazard calls grew a staggering 460 percent to over 3,800. “We’ve managed cases involving the ingestion of several common objects — from pet collars and adhesive tape to bones, paper products and other similar items,” says Dr. Hansen. “It is important to make sure that items which could be easily knocked over, broken, chewed up or swallowed are kept out of the reach of curious pets.”

10. Home Improvement Products: In 2006, approximately 2,100 cases involving paint, solvents, expanding glues and other products commonly used in construction were managed by the APCC — up 17 percent from 2005. While the majority of water-based paints are low in toxic potential, they can still cause stomach upset, and artist paints sometimes contain heavy metals that could be poisonous if consumed in large quantities. In addition, solvents can be very irritating to the gastrointestinal tract, eyes and skin, and could also produce central nervous system depression if ingested, or pneumonia if inhaled. “Prevention is really key to avoiding problems from accidental exposures to these substances,” says Dr. Hansen. “Pet parents should keep pets out of areas where home improvement projects are taking place, and of course label directions should always be followed when using any product.”

There’s a moral here, folks. Our pets are like little kids. Always keep an eye on them. /Gary

Posted on Monday, March 5th, 2007
Under: Pets & Poisons | 1 Comment »

“Elephant Killing Weighed” in South Africa

As South Africa’s fast-growing pachyderm population fills parks, an official offers a plan, including mass culling as a last resort.

There are an estimated 690,000 elephants in the wild. The vast majority are in Africa, where the larger species are threatened but not endangered, as are their counterparts in Asia.

You can read the entire story by Michael Wines of the New York Times.

Meanwhile, local reader Michael Shatto of Concord also has a few words to say about elephants:

Gary:
The Contra Costa Times began March with the report: “Elephant Killing Weighed” (March 1 Times, page A17), a clever headline sure to provoke. Actually, the story is even-handed and accurate, surprising considering what the New York Times has been publishing, but I digress.

Facts:

Culling elephant herds has gone on since Colonial times and probably back into the mists of time.

Too many elephants causes extreme over-grazing, erosion, lack of food for other animals and habitat destruction.

Too many elephants conflict with man. They destroy crops, sometimes villages. Why? Humans taking over habitat. Farmers have killed more animals than all the poachers and legitimate hunters combined. No, Virginia, not just evil modern city building man, this has gone on since Lucy.

Elephant meat is delicious. None of the culled elephant is wasted. Even if people didn’t eat any of the culled elephant, there would only be a few bones left in less than a week.

Shadow thoughts by (Michael Shatto, Concord)

Anyone else have anything to add to this?

I’ll bet you do … just click on “Comments” below while I go hide under my desk …

Posted on Friday, March 2nd, 2007
Under: Elephants | 7 Comments »