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Archive for June, 2007


Many state animal protection laws we work so hard to enforce are under attack in Congress.
I just received this letter (below) from Mike Markarian, executive vice president, of The Humane Society of the United States. Please take a moment to read it carefully.

Once again, special interest groups are rearing their ugly heads. What Mike has to say applies to us all … and all the things we care about. /Gary

Dear Gary,
Some of our most important victories for animals have been state laws barring cruel practices — such as horse slaughter, confining young calves and breeding pigs in crates so small they can’t even turn around, and force-feeding of ducks and geese to make foie gras. Should Congress be able to block all such laws? Tell your federal legislators NO!

The federal government shouldn’t be able to trump the will of the states when it comes to animal welfare. Yet that’s exactly what legislation now making its way through Congress would do. A small provision — Section 123 — tucked into the pending Farm Bill would prohibit states and localities from banning activities they deem to be contrary to public health, safety, or morals. It’s an outrageous power grab that would undermine the democratic process and deny citizens the right to pass state or local laws on issues of humane treatment or food safety.

If passed, this provision would nullify bans on horse slaughter in states including Illinois, Texas and California, bans on gestation crates in Florida and both gestation and veal crates in Arizona, and bans on foie gras in California and Chicago. Tell Congress not to mess with state and local animal protection laws!

Please take a moment to make brief, polite phone calls to your federal legislators about this issue:

** Representative Ellen Tauscher at 202-225-1880

** Senator Barbara Boxer at 202-224-3553

** Senator Dianne Feinstein at 202-224-3841

Making a phone call is easy. You will speak to a staff person who can take your message and pass it along to your legislator. You can say:

“Hello, my name is (your name) and I’m a constituent from (your town and state). I’m calling to urge (your legislator’s name) to oppose any effort to preempt state and local laws through the Farm Bill. I’m very alarmed about Section 123 of the pending House Farm Bill, which would prevent states and localities from passing laws to protect animals from inhumane treatment and to protect food safety. When citizens decide a practice is too cruel or dangerous to allow in their state, Congress has no business forcing them to allow it. Thank you.”

After you make your calls, please send a follow-up e-mail to further encourage your legislators to keep this dangerous provision out of the Farm Bill.

Finally, please tell your friends and family about this important issue and ask them to help. We need lots of calls and letters flooding Congress right away to stop this awful legislation.

Thank you for all that you do for animals!
Mike Markarian, executive vice president, The Humane Society of the United States

You can find out more about The Humane Society of the United States and its many programs to help animals at

Thanks for caring. /Gary

** While you’re here, you might like to read an update about the City of Martinez beavers on CCT political editor Lisa Vorderbrueggen’s political blog at:

Posted on Monday, June 11th, 2007
Under: Animal Laws | No Comments »


New contaminant found in more pet food
A story in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on June 5 reported that a Texas laboratory found varying levels of the pain reliever acetaminophen (found in Tylenol) in dog and cat food samples submitted by worried pet owners and pet food manufacturers. Brand names of the contaminated pet food are not yet available. Keep an eye on the ASPCA’s Pet Food Recall Resource Center (link is below) for updates on this story and hopefully some brand names.

ASPCA discusses toxicity of acetaminophen — reminds pet owners to stay alert
NEW YORK, June 6 — With reports that acetaminophen has been found in brands of cat and dog food not included on the Menu Foods recall list, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals today reminded pet parents that vigilance is the key to keeping their pets safe and healthy — coupled with a strong dose of common sense.

“Though reports of dogs and cats poisoned from the Menu Foods recall seem to have abated, this news is extremely worrying,” said Dr. Steven Hansen, a board-certified toxicologist and senior vice president with the ASPCA, who manages the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), located in its Midwest Office in Urbana, Ill.

“Our data show that if an average-sized cat ingests as little as one extra-strength acetaminophen pain-reliever caplet and is not treated in time, it can suffer fatal consequences,” continued Dr. Hansen.

“At this point, we have very little information as to the actual level and concentration of this reported contamination, so it’s extremely important to be able to recognize any potential warning signs of this kind of poisoning.” However, early information on this contamination suggests that concentration levels are not high enough to have an adverse effect on most dogs; cats are more at-risk.

** NOTE: The most common effects of acetaminophen poisoning in cats include swelling of the face and paws; depression; weakness; and difficulty in breathing. “We also see a condition called ‘cyanosis,’” said Dr. Hansen, “which is literally when their gums and tongue start turning a muddy color due to the lack of oxygen.”

Until more information is provided by the U. S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the ASPCA urges pet parents to keep an eye out for any signs of illness in their pets, and also report any changes in dietary consumption or behavior to their veterinarian immediately.

You can read this complete article on the ASPCA Website at:

The ASPCA continues to monitor the pet food recall situation, and is providing regular updates and advice for pet parents at its Pet Food Recall Resource Center at

If you are thinking about preparing home-cooked meals for your pets, the ASPCA recommends that you do so in consultation with your veterinarian.

You can also visit the “Pet Care: Nutrition Tips” page on the ASPCA’s Web site at:

Posted on Friday, June 8th, 2007
Under: Pet food | No Comments »


Summer fun can be fatal to your pets
The California Veterinary Medical Association sent me a copy of these handy tips to help keep you and your pets from getting into trouble this summer when playing around water at local parks, the beach, or in the swimming pool in your own back yard.

Please take a moment to read them. It may help save your pet’s life one day. /Gary

The California Veterinary Medical Association says “Make water safety awareness a top priority:
As summer arrives, pet owners will be traveling to beaches, lakes and rivers and preparing their pools for the coming heat. While fun is anticipated, pet owners should be cautious about their animals’ safety around these open-water areas. Pets, most often dogs, can drown, get severely hurt and, in some cases, die from exposure to open waters.

Dangers around water areas come in many forms, and pet owners need to take a few simple measures to avoid a tragedy. Animals, like children, need to be taught how to enter, swim in and exit open waters.

Owners should never throw their pets into the water, as some animals have a hard time swimming or don’t know how to swim at all. Owners should get in the water first and call to their pets. If the animal likes the water, it will come in and start to swim toward the owner. Let it move at its own pace.

“Americans love the water; we have many beaches, lakes and pools to enjoy this summer. Just remember to take care of your pet’s safety when having fun,” says Ron Faoro, DVM, president of the California Veterinary Medical Association. “Taking a few extra precautions can make all the difference.”

Exiting water areas can be dangerous for a pet. Climbing up ladders can be difficult for animals because they often don’t know how to use them to exit a water area. Dogs have a hard time exiting swimming pools because their paws cannot grip ladder rungs. The same caution should be considered when taking your pet out on a boat. Owners can teach their pets to use a ladder by showing them, either physically or by example, how to climb up and out of the water.

Consider purchasing animal exit devices for your pool and putting a life jacket on your pet when you take it to a lake, river or the ocean. Rivers and oceans present the additional danger of strong currents, which can sweep an animal away.

“Flotation devices are a great alternative for pets new to the water or that are getting old. Pets may not be strong enough to swim on their own, so a little help would allow them to escape the heat without being in danger,” Faoro added. “Of course pets, like children, should never be left alone in the water — even if they are wearing floatation devices.”

Pools may pose chemical dangers to animals. You should rinse all animals exposed to chlorine with fresh water after swimming in pools. Be sure your dog knows how to get out of your pool — teach him or her where the steps are, starting when he or she is a puppy.

Ocean water also poses a danger to your pet while you’re at the beach. Drinking the salt water can be dangerous to your pet’s health. Bring fresh water to the beach for your animal to drink when it’s thirsty.

“Pets can play safely around open water if pet owners act responsibly, “ Dr. Faoro says. “Pets and their owners can both have fun if the owners follow these few precautions.”

Posted on Wednesday, June 6th, 2007
Under: Pets | No Comments »


My friend Pat Keeble of Martinez sent me this fascinating little story from the Times of London:

“Birds are picking up discarded cigarette butts at a railway station and using the smoke to fumigate their wings of parasites.

“The rooks (members of the crow family; they look like crows) have been seen swooping on to the platform and tracks at Exeter St. Davids in Devon to collect fag ends. Commuters have watched as the birds place their (open) wings over the smoke collecting the fumes underneath.

“The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said that the animals are using the smoke to fumigate themselves and clear their wings of insects (parasites).”

Like members of the crow family everywhere … those rooks are definitely adapting to urban and suburban life.

Knowing the cigarette companies, they will soon be out with a new brand of cigarettes:

“FUMIGATORS,” preferred by parasite-ridden rooks everywhere.

Meanwhile, yet another reason to smoke — to fumigate your lungs.

Posted on Tuesday, June 5th, 2007
Under: Birds | No Comments »


On-call vets to treat injured animals at rodeos
I just received this letter from my friend Eric Mills of ACTION FOR ANIMALS, who is the sponsor of AB 1614. Eric has been working hard for ages to try and make sure veterinarians are always present or on-call at rodeos so they can treat the animals that are frequently injured at such events. He has done a good job on this legislation, but needs to get one more little bill passed (AB 1614) so that charreadas (Mexican-style rodeos) will also be included in the veterinarian requirement.

Here’s what Eric has to say on the matter. He also asks for some letter writing support at the end of his letter. If you care about the welfare of animals, please take a few moments to write one of those letters. It will REALLY help! Thanks. /Gary

Dear animal person:
Anyone concerned about the welfare of animals used in rodeos and charreadas (Mexican-style rodeos) will be pleased to learn that Assembly Bill 1614 recently passed the Assembly floor by a 60:7 vote. If signed into law, the bill would amend state rodeo law (Penal Code 596.7) so as to include charreadas, now exempt by definition. The main purpose of the law is to provide for an “on call” veterinarian to treat injured animals. Seems little to ask, no?

This humane legislation, introduced by Assemblywoman Audra Strickland (R-Moorpark), is co-authored by Assembly members Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys), Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Joe Coto (D-San Jose). Mr. Coto is also chair of the 26-member Latino Caucus.

It is rare in Sacramento politics for an animal welfare bill to enjoy such bipartisan support. In the 5/24 floor vote, with one abstention, all members of the Latino Caucus voted in favor of the bill, as did the majority of the Republican Caucus. Heartfelt thanks to them all. As the late Cesar Chavez wrote to me on 12/26/90, “Kindness and compassion toward all living things is a mark of a civilized society.” Words to live by.

AB 1614 now goes to the Senate, and people are urged to write their own State Senator in support of the bill. All state legislators may be written c/o The State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814.

Eric Mills, coordinator, ACTION FOR ANIMALS, and sponsor of AB 1614

Posted on Monday, June 4th, 2007
Under: Animal protection legislation | 2 Comments »


Your questions about homemade pet food diets
I checked with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York. They have been monitoring the pet food recall situation VERY closely ever since it started.

The ASPCA has also received numerous inquiries from concerned pet caretakers regarding the safety of homemade diets. People are concerned about using commercial pet food because of the continuing recall situation.

In response to your questions, ASPCA toxicologists and veterinarians are urging you to fully research homemade diets before pulling out the chef’s hat. You can find more on the subject of homemade pet food at:

The ASPCA continues to encourage all pet owners to regularly visit the ASPCA Pet Food Recall Resource Center for the latest updates on the on-going crisis. Yes, things are unfortunately still happening on this front.

There’s LOTS of information at the Pet Food Recall Resource Center at:

Posted on Friday, June 1st, 2007
Under: Pet food | No Comments »