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Archive for March, 2008

Getting too much stimulation? Go find a tree.

My friend Brian is an old-school philosopher and he has a simple yet complicated way of looking at life as most philosophers do. It’s the nature of the beast.

Take a look at this e-mail Brian just sent me. (Yes, even philosophers know how to use computers.)

Now is a great opportunity to go out in the open space or a park and just sit under a tree in the morning or evening to just watch what is going on.

See who is picking up nesting material and where they are going with it. See how many nests are being built in the area. What kind of material are the birds using to build their different nests?

Since we are used to so much stimulation these days, it’s a little difficult for us to sit in one place for an extended period of time. Nature works at it’s own pace which we have trouble adjusting to.

This exercise in sitting and watching develops your skills in seeing things in more detail. As you acquire those skills it’s a gift you can carry with you wherever you go and it will add to the enjoyment of great vacations because you have taught yourself to see so much more.

I’m going to be sitting around with 1600 mm of lens and taking photos of what I see this weekend. (Brian, Walnut Creek, CA)

See what I mean? Be sure you pick the right tree. Mine is in my own backyard. You don’t have to go far to see great things. /Gary

Posted on Monday, March 17th, 2008
Under: Animals, Nature | No Comments »

New pet ownership costs: How much is that doggy in the window?

When you get the urge to adopt an animal, have you ever thought about how much that new pet might cost, and for how long? It could be a lot more and for a lot longer than you think.

The ASPCA in New York has just released an updated guide to pet costs to help new pet parents plan and budget for their futures. (See below)

A large dog, for example, will likely require an average yearly food allowance of $225, while a bird’s diet is sparse in comparison, costing only $75 per year. Rabbits and guinea pigs like fresh bedding, which totals a whopping $415 per year, versus a fastidious feline, whose litter costs a modest yearly average of $165. (Assuming it uses a litter box.)

Recurring medical expenses such as yearly exams and vaccinations can range from $210 to $265 for dogs and $160 for cats. Pet insurance coverage varies, but some policies will cover spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations, and heartworm medication. Rates for dogs are an average of $225, while owners of healthy cats can find insurance coverage for approximately $175 per year.

In return for the gift of companionship, you may choose to spoil your new pet with toys and treats. It doesn’t take much to provide a fish with some extra stimulation, but a pet guinea pig can consume $30 annually in toys and treats. Expect to spend $25 to $75 per year on cat and dog goodies.

It’s a good idea to take a close look at your budget when you adopt a pet. If you live modestly, consider adopting a pet that won’t strain your wallet. Another alternative is fostering a pet or volunteering at your local animal shelter or pet rescue organization to get your furry fix. (I know, it still isn’t the same.)

You can find out more about how to adopt the right pet for you and your budget at

For more information about the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) visit

Now go hug your dog or cat and be sure to tell it what a wonderful and expensive pet it is! /Gary

Posted on Friday, March 14th, 2008
Under: Birds, Cats, dogs, Pet Costs, Pets | No Comments »

Canada to kill 275,000 baby harp seals. Man faces charges for killing opossum

Reuters says the Canadian government has announced, “Hunters will be allowed to kill 275,000 baby harp seals on Canada’s ice flows this year.”

Meanwhile, an Associated Press wire story from The Orange County Register reports that police said a man and his 12-year-old son could face charges related to animal cruelty after an incident that left a mother opossum and four of her babies dead. Witnesses told police they saw the father and son pushing an upside-down bucket down the street with the mother opossum inside.

When they lifted the bucket and the opossum jumped out, the boy began beating it with a shovel. Kind of like the seal hunters beat the baby seals with clubs.

There is a slight difference, however.

The father was arrested and released on bail. The 12-year-old was detained and released to his mother, pending further review, according to police.

The seal hunters, on the other hand (club?), will be able to continue killing baby harp seals and selling their skins for clothing and the seal oil drained from their bodies (hey, it contains omega 3 fatty acids!) for a LOT of money.

What a strange little world we live on.

We seem to care about the deaths of a mama opossum and her babies on the one hand, while we’re clubbing to death 275,000 baby seals with the other.

Does caring about the death of the opossums mean there’s hope? Hum. /Gary

Posted on Thursday, March 13th, 2008
Under: Animal Cruelty, harp seals | 18 Comments »

Did you know Easter lilies can be fatal to cats?

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offers springtime safety tips for pet parents.

As spring showers give way to fragrant flowers, it’s time to remind you that one of the season’s most popular plants, the Easter lily, can result in tragic consequences for our feline friends.

“All lilies belonging to the plant genus Lilium are considered highly toxic to cats,” says Dr. Steven Hansen, board-certified veterinary toxicologist and director of the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center. “The consumption of small amounts can produce a life-threatening situation.” According to Dr. Hansen, certain species of the daylily genus Hemerocallis are known to produce similar toxic effects.

Some examples of common lily varieties that are dangerous to cats include:

** Easter Lily

** Tiger Lily

** Rubrum Lily

** Japanese Show Lily

** Daylily (certain species)

Within only a few hours of ingestion, these plants may cause a cat to vomit, become lethargic or develop a lack of appetite. Without prompt and proper treatment by a veterinarian, a cat may develop kidney failure in 36 to 72 hours. “Time is of the essence for treatment,” according to Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. “If an owner suspects that his or her cat may have ingested any part of a lily, he or she should seek medical care immediately.”

The ASPCA also suggests leaving lilies out of Easter baskets or Mother’s Day bouquets destined for homes with cats, or using safer flower varieties as a substitute. Safe alternatives include Easter orchids, cacti, and daisies, as well as roses and violets.

If your dog or cat accidentally ingests any potentially harmful flowers or plants, please call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 (please note there’s a consultation fee for this service), or visit

For more information on having a safe springtime season, visit

March 16-22 is National Poison Prevention Week. Check this out:

Posted on Wednesday, March 12th, 2008
Under: Cats, Poisonous plants | No Comments »

Best use for a San Diego beach? Nursing harbor seals or kids?

The Associated Press reports that a federal appeals court issued an emergency order Monday allowing the city of San Diego to replace a rope barrier at a beach in La Jolla to protect nursing harbor seals. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the barrier can stay up until the breeding season ends in May while it considers whether it should stay permanently.

The picturesque cove has lately been a battleground between animal rights activists and residents who argue the rope barrier violates a 1931 deed requiring the city to preserve the beach for human use as a children’s pool.

According to A.P., two state court judges and two state appellate courts have ruled that the rope illegally interferes with the public’s access to the beach, known as the Children’s Pool.

San Diego has been under court order to evict the seals and dredge the sand to make it safe for children. Right! Evict the seals. That’s like telling deer they can’t eat grass in a meadow, so kids can play soccer there instead … or evict birds from the sky so there’s more room for kids to fly kites.

The San Diego-based Animal Protection and Rescue League has challenged those rulings in federal court. The group argues the rules of the state trust governing the cove are trumped by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.

And as of Monday, it looks like the harbor seals have won this particular battle for the moment. I’m sure the war isn’t over. In fact it looks like it is only beginning.

Pro-seal activists sell seal T-shirts, stuffed animals and picture books on the sidewalk above the beach — and monitor crowds to make sure no one bothers the seals.

Earlier Monday a La Jolla resident was arraigned in federal court on charges of threatening one of the group’s volunteers with revenge from biker gangs after she videotaped people dressed in scuba gear apparently harassing the seals.

See what I mean?

Seems like this debate has gotten waaay out of hand, as these things always seem to do. So why not compromise (there’s that nasty word again!) and come up with a solution that works for the harbor seals and their pups AND the little human kids whose parents want them to come play at the beach whether they like it or not? Seems pretty simple to me.

Let the seals have the beach during breeding and pupping season … and the kids and their parents can play on the beach for the rest of the year. It’s usually too cold to go to the beach while the seals are raising their pups, anyway. So what’s the problem?

Things have gotten totally out of hand when we start suing Mother Nature to keep wild animals from living in their own natural environment. Think about it.

Besides, you know what they say: “It’s not nice to mess with Mother Nature!”

One of these days Mother Nature’s going to lose her temper and do something really nasty, like create global warming, or something. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, March 11th, 2008
Under: Mother Nature, Seals | No Comments »

Our dogs and cats — our pets — are getting old. Where did the time go?

I received many interesting responses to a column I wrote on March 2 about my cat Tut getting old. You can read it here:

I printed some of those responses in my March 5 column:

And more on March 9:

I’m printing the rest of the e-mails and letters below because they all say something special about pets and about getting old. If you have even MORE to say about it, please add your special words under “comments” at the end of this blog. Thanks! If you have a pet that’s getting old, reading these letters should help you deal with it. /Gary


** When you talk about your beloved Tut the butt is looking like a little old man, I think about the bony little butt that male cats get when they age. It’s a real heart breaker to see their sleekness develop the rough-edged curves, the bones sticking out, but, looking somehow smaller than you realized, and, somewhat less elegant.

That reminds me of a joke my dad told me. He said, “I have furniture disease.” And, I said, “What’s that?” And, he said, “My chest is falling into my drawers.”

All joking aside … I really noticed how I had to really keep my eyes open for my kitties when they got older. They got easier to accidentally kick or step on. They once were so good at moving quickly out of the way or wandering over and melting into my leg. Now, I felt this fragile being, who I could knock over like a feather if I didn’t slow my pace for a minute as he sauntered over to me. The pace was slower and less steady. I remember finding that especially touching and sad.

Yeah … It’s tough. Specially when you have a special cat with attitude plus. You remember my big boy, Eddie? Watching his once proud form disintegrate before my eyes was real hard to take. I still cry when I look at the tuft of fur that I saved from him from his special sweet smelling spot on his neck. I remember Eric’s big cat, Thunder, feeling as light as air when I picked him up in his last year of life. He was all fur. My 11 year old cat, Rocky, has always been my baby. I notice he’s just starting to get a hint of a bony butt. He’s all fluffy; so, it’ll hide in his lush white fur for a while.

But, I’ve got that little pistola, Daisy. She’s 19 and looks absolutely marvelous, darling! She’s still got attitude; but, has finally accepted that retirement in the indoor villa isn’t so bad after all. She has her special spots and doesn’t take crap from Rocky or the dogs. Every now and then she appears next to me and asks for a chin scratch. She’s my wash and wear kitty. Never asked for much. Some food, a chin scratch now and then. She’s had very few medical problems; but, because she’s Manx, I’ve had to clean her up in the back end area more than I’d like. But, other than that. She’s been great!

Tut the butt. What a great tag. We don’t mind if he softens a little with age. He’s earned his rep and we all love him for it. And, we love you for sharing it. Hoping your final year(s) with Tut will bring you more joyful memories and not too much pain. (Paulette Kenyon, Pleasanton)

** Your column on Tut getting older prompted me to write to you. We rescued a kitty in April of 1990, the year before we married. She was about a year old, malnourished, abused. She will be approx. 18 yrs. old next month and has outlived many cats along the way. We started noticing changes years ago when she got down off our balcony and couldn’t get back up; she got up the oak tree and couldn’t get down.
My husband had to rescue her on both occasions and that was the last time she asked to go outside. She doesn’t get around like she used to as her back legs are weak so we put a chair next to the bed so she can get on the chair, then on the bed. She gets a prescribed food for older kitties. She sleeps a lot on a towel we put on the couch, but she is still the boss and gets what we call the “kitty force” in her once in a while. She runs around, but it doesn’t last long, then she has to nap.

We pamper her, take special care of her, and protect her. We think she may not hear or see quite like she used to, but she’s a such a great cat and a member of our family. We love her very much. (Jackie in Pleasant Hill)

** Thanks Gary for your column on Sunday! I also have an aging animal — my dog Topaz. She is 14, has arthritis in her hips, kidney disease and probably dementia, yet she still wags her tail when I get home from work. Last week she was trying to celebrate spring by rolling around on the grass, but her wiggle was not very energetic. It made me sad knowing that these joys are slowly going away for her. I just hope that I know when her time is up so that I am not selfishly keeping her alive when she is in pain. Animals are a blessing, and I have enjoyed reading about Tut (and Isis) over the years! Thanks for your stories. (Teri Steig, cyberspace)

** Reading your column about Tut aging brought tears to my eyes. Not only because (through your columns) I feel like I know him personally, but because of my own little furballs. I lost Mandy (she was 18) in December & had had her since she was a kitten. She was run down physically, but it was the kitty dementia that was the hardest to watch.

My dog (Ember is almost 15) has had Cushing’s for almost 6 years, Diabetes Incipidus for about 4 years & numerous other ailments that creep up on all of us. In spite of it all, my vet says she’s in great shape. Then a couple months ago, she started to get lost in the house. (I live in a very small house.) She couldn’t get up on the couch or bed anymore, and didn’t even recognize my son when he came in one night. Sound familiar? I’m so sorry you guys are going through this. Where did the time go? Hug Tut for me and tell him that someone in Antioch is thinking about him. Being a typical cat, he won’t care less, but it will make me feel better! (Pat in Antioch)

** We love all animals, and we are a real kitty family. Upon moving up to the East Bay from So. Cal. in the very early 80’s, I was delighted to find your column in the Times, although that discovery may have been a couple of years after our move. I remember reading of Isis so very well in many your early columns as she went through her daily life with you and your family. I read and still have your book, “Isis,” and I remember very well your loss when it was time for her to go. I grieved for you and your family, as did all of your readers.

I remember when you acquired Tut and then later Newman. It is so hard to watch our friends age, and our animal friends seem to age so very quickly, and we’re never ready for it. And now I read about Tut, and I am so sorry for what he and you and your family are going through. Our family is going through this very process right now with our 15 year old “Gus,” a wonderful 16 lb. white flame point “whatever” cat, he is slowing down by the day. He sleeps most of the time and only seems to get up to eat and have a drink once in a while but always makes it a point to spend his evenings with the family, his arthritis makes it hard to jump and climb much anymore.

We all love our animals and must enjoy the times we have with them, the good and the not so good. And Gary, thank you for sharing your family with us over all these years. (Paul from Hercules)

** We are so sorry to hear that old age has caught up with Tut. We all cherish our cats and wish that they could live longer lives than they do. My Mother-in-law had a Siamese cat that lived to be 21 years old. We have 4 cats of our own. Two of them are 16 years old. Mitzi our Calico Lady seems to be taking everything in stride. She asks for massages from me every day and so far that has helped her. The other 16 year old is Penny our gray cat. She is very arthritic and we give her a natural treat called Hip Action with glucosamine/chrondrotin plus vitamins and minerals. It has helped her because she appears to hobble less than she did and gets around better. Our other two are Maine Coon brother and sister 5 year olds. Their names are Sonny and Cher. Both of them love Penny and take care of her constantly almost like she was their Mother. Mitzi of course stays pretty much to her self as any Calico does.

Tut may be slowing down for his old age but as long as he doesn’t have any medical issues he should be with you for a few more years. Just love him and reassure him more and more each day that you are there for him and will always be. Also don’t forget to call him for dinner which appears to be the highlight of his day.

When we were first married 37 years ago we adopted a cat whom we named Melody. She was a wonderful lady and gave us 7 beautiful kittens. She lived to be 19 years old and for a few years was unable to jump up any more and you could see she was slowing down but it still wasn’t her time to go and we knew that she would let us know when that time would come and she did. She was my husband’s treasured lady. Give Tut a big hug and kiss from us and tell him to hang in there for a while longer. (Barb in American Canyon)

** I was so sorry to hear about Tut’s aging. I have enjoyed so many stories about him over the years and I know it is never easy to watch a beloved pet grow old. I have had that experience with both a cat and several dogs . Right now my family is mourning the loss of our beloved German Shepherd, Holly, who lost her three year battle with cancer two months before her tenth birthday. She was sweet, loving and courageous to the end and it will take a long time to get over the pain of losing her. Her sister also misses her. We will hold good thoughts for Tut. (Nancy Schick, Moraga)

** Your tribute to Tut mentioned him growing thinner. Have you had his thyroid checked? Indoor cats have epidemic levels of hyperthyroidism, due to PCB’s as fire retardents on furniture (at least that is the current theory). My girl Tasha ended up blind from hypertension (causing her retinas to detach) a side effect of the hyperthyroidism. I have also found a vet who just sees cats. Makes all the difference in the world, because cats are really much different than dogs as far as diseases and the best approach for treatment (Dr. Melissa Matthews, Altamont Cat Hospital, Livermore). The treatment is as easy as rubbing a little cream in the ear 2 times a day. (Christine, Livermore)

** Jennifer was 2 years old when she came to us. She was all white, blue, blue eyes and deaf. Her “owners” were moving and could not take her. She was our 1st pet together. She was so much fun. Great personality and Christmas was her time of year. We have picture after picture of her running through the wrapping paper as we opened presents. We always plopped a bow on her head and got that year’s picture. She loved menthol. Heaven help you when you were sick and put Vicks on your chest. She was right there on top of you. Was great with the greasy Vicks and long white cat hair. I smoked (back then) menthol cigarettes and she was always in my purse ripping the pack open. The Jennifer stories go on and on.

She lived to 23. Healthy and active until 22. One day I just looked at her little puckered up, old lady face and said “Jennifer, when did you get old?” Her last year was very quiet. She was never sick and died very peacefully in her sleep.

We now have several house cats, we feed the hungry that come to our porch and help friends of animals with foster care during kitten season but there will NEVER be another Jennifer. She has been gone for years now and I am still crying as I write this letter. If Jennifer is listening, thank you for the 21 years of pleasure you gave us. You will never be replaced. Thank you for letting me share. (Ruby Waderich, Vallejo)

** I recently lost my dear cat Sheba. She too was 16 years old. It was a very hard time for me. Just as I was able to start wearing mascara again, I read your column about Tut getting old and it showing. Your writing was my story exactly My beautiful Russian Blue once had so much bounce in her playful step but as the years passed she began to slow down and become less tolerant of her brother cat and his antics. She sometimes needed help up or down the stairs until around January when she didn’t even want to go downstairs anymore. She was losing lots of weight and quickly.

Then suddenly she stopped eating all together and 3 days later passed away. We kept her as comfortable as possible in one of her favorite spots in our bedroom. We talked softly to her and stayed with her during her last few breaths. It is very hard losing a cherished pet but knowing that you gave them the best possible life and lots of love makes the situation a little easier to handle. So when you go home today, tell Tut how much we all love him and care about him. And know that our hearts are with you and your family during this difficult time. A grieving cat mom. (Carol in Oakley)

** Saw your column concerning Tut’s aging. Our gray tiger stripe, Quasimoto (unusual spelling, long story) amazed me more than once. When young (maybe 1 or 2) he jumped off of a balcony rail, over 2 stories from the ground, landed fine, shook the dust off and walked away without a care. When 16 he would still climb a redwood deck support to greet us on the balcony rather than go inside and come up the stairs. He even showed up with a captured Robin in mouth at about age 20, though we figured it must have been stunned from a window collision.
He made it to 23, outliving a succession of adopted/rescue dogs in the household and feeling very smug about it from all appearances, though we’re sure he lived that long because the dogs kept the yard clear of the feline competition. The dogs never bothered Quasi though, even in the yard, they knew the difference. (Paul, from San Ramon)

** I, like they all say, don’t usually write to the paper but your article about your wonderful cat Tut brought back many memories. I too had a cat that stayed with me through many years. I first got Muffin when I had broken up with a man that I had dated for many years. She saw me through meeting a new man, whom she hated, (she was a true calico) that I married. She was there through the birth of my three children and was the baby-sitter for my first child.

Many times in her life she would bring her treasures into the house and I would have to somehow get rid of them. My husband would always know when I was getting home from work because she would run to a window and start meowing until I opened the door. As the years went on Muffin started moving slower and slower. People said I should put her down but I could not bring myself to do that because she would still run to me when I would arrive home or when my children when get home from school.

Unfortunately the horrible day came. She was 19 years old, deaf and blind, and I was in a hurry to leave for work. I guess she was sleeping behind my car when I drove out of my drive way. My husband and oldest daughter took her to the vet and they said that because she was so old and led a great life that it was her time to go. It was a horrible day and my daughter still remembers it. Some good did come out of it a couple of months later I received a letter from UC Davis thanking me for donating the cat for research. I guess even in death she is still helping people.

Thank you for listening to my story, I love reading your column daily it gives me great pleasure hearing about what goes on in our animal world. (Kerry, another great animal lover from Concord)

** Our 19 year old Garfield suffered from a kidney disease that is very common in older male cats. For several months we had to insert several ounces of glucose into his little body in order for him to continue to live and he had a pretty good life, though he was not real fond of the procedure, but as a result we enjoyed his company for another 6 months. He also needed to take glucosamine for his achy joints/bones.

As he neared his end it became very apparent he was no longer enjoying a quality of life, we prepared to have him euthanized but he had a massive stroke before we were able to get him to the vet’s office. It has been 7+ years and it is still painful to recall his last minutes. This last September we adopted another kitty who looks very much like our beloved Garfield and now we are sorry we waited so long before adopting. Our new Gigi is absolutely delightful. (R. Schuette in cyberspace)

Posted on Monday, March 10th, 2008
Under: Aging, Cats, dogs, Pets | 2 Comments »

Did U.S. Marine toss puppy off cliff in video? See for yourself

This is from a press release I found in my e-mail this morning from the ASPCA in New York:

The ASPCA condemns soldiers involved in animal cruelty video and urges swift action by U.S. Military.

“Thursday. the ASPCA urged the United States Marine Corps to release the findings of its investigation of a video clip recently seen on several social networking sites wherein a member of the U.S. Military — seemingly a Marine — can be seen apparently committing a heinous act of animal cruelty, flinging a live puppy off a cliff.”

This video caused a huge — make that HUGE — public outcry earlier this week after news reports circulated condemning the soldiers responsible for the act. Many have wondered whether the video is simulated or real.

You can decide for yourself. The video can be seen at

NOTE: This video is EXTREMELY upsetting and shocking, so think carefully before you look.

To add to the nastiness:
According to the Associated Press, Pro golfer Tripp Isenhour was charged Wednesday with cruelty to animals and killing a migratory bird, misdemeanors that carry a maximum penalty of 14 months in jail and $1,500 in fines.

An AP story says the 29-year-old player became angry on Dec. 12 at the Grand Cypress Golf Club in Florida when a squawking red-shouldered hawk a few hundred feet away was making noise while he tried to film a TV show. He drove closer to the bird in his golf cart and started hitting balls at it. After numerous attempts, witnesses said he hit the hawk. The bird, a protected migratory species, fell to the ground bleeding from both nostrils and died.

AP says Isenhour quickly apologized Thursday (yesterday) and said he was only trying to scare the hawk away and didn’t mean to kill it. “Quickly apologized,” eh? And only 85 days after he killed the hawk. The dude is fast. (The bird had been buried at the golf course and later dug up by Florida investigators.)

AP quotes Jethro Senger, a sound engineer at the filming, who said hitting the bird was “basically a joke to Isenhour.”

None of the 15-person crew at the filming with Isenhour tried to stop him from killing the hawk … which in my humble opinion makes them just as guilty of killing the bird as he was.

Doesn’t anyone want to take responsibility for anything these days?

Today marks the end of a rather sick work week. /Gary

Posted on Friday, March 7th, 2008
Under: Animal Cruelty, Puppy | 11 Comments »

SPAIN: Tough new law, restrictions for pit bulls & other “dangerous dogs”

A reader forwarded this little story from SUR, a newspaper in Southern Spain.


Law reiterates and clarifies dangerous dog restrictions
A. Nogues

“The new law also includes a long chapter devoted to the ownership of potentially dangerous dogs. In this section the Junta de Andalucia has included all the breeds listed in the national legislation (Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Rottweiler, Argentine Dogo, Fila Brasileiro, Tosa Inu and Akita Inu) and has added the Doberman.

“Furthermore the dangerous dog category can also be applied to any dog that has been trained to attack or that has been certified as potentially dangerous by a vet due to its weight, size and aggressive character.

“These animals will have to undergo a training course and must be walked on a lead of no more than one metre and wear a muzzle, says the regulation which also bans this type of dog from areas such as children’s playgrounds. More than one dog of this kind must not be walked by any one person at the same time and documents to prove the animal is correctly registered must be carried at all times.

“Owners of dogs classed as dangerous must obtain a license from their local Town Hall and register their pet on the Andalusian Animal Identification Register (RAIA) through authorized vets. The owner must be over the age of 18 and able-bodied, pass a psychological test, be free of convictions of serious offenses and take out a civil responsibility insurance policy with cover of at least 175,000 euros.” (That equals $266,017 U.S. dollars)

I did a little checking on the Internet and discovered that the dangerous dog regulations in the story above also contain some interesting laws for other types of “dangerous pets” in Southern Spain.

For example:
“Under the new system, large reptiles, poisonous insects and large primates will not be allowed in Andalucian households and people who flout the law could be hit with a fine of 115,000 euros ($174,811 U.S. dollars). People living in the region who already own such pets will be given a six-month period to take the forbidden animal to their local city hall and hand it over … “

Owners of dogs, snakes and other “interesting” pets would probably be wise not to share this little story with their local animal control department, humane society, or SPCA. You might give them some silly ideas. /Gary

Posted on Thursday, March 6th, 2008
Under: Animal Laws, Doberman, dogs, Insects, Pets, pit bull, Snakes | 12 Comments »

New book by 60 Minutes’ Mike Wallace says pets will be uncommon in 50 years

Mike Wallace has written a new book, ”The Way We Will Be 50 Years From Today: 60 Of The World’s Greatest Minds Share Their Vision Of The Next Half-Century.” It will be in bookstores on April 15.

Here’s some information from the press release I just received:
Mike assembled some of the world’s brightest, imaginative and forward-thinking individuals, including 15 Nobel Prize winners, to share their thoughts on what the future holds in this book. Fifty years is merely a blip in time, but in that blip can come incredible changes.

Just a few of those contributing essays in this insightful and thought-provoking book include: Vint Cerf of Google, known as “Father of the Internet”; Nobel prize winning astrophysicist George Smoot, who helped solidify the Big-Bang Theory of the Universe; Norman E. Borlaug, Nobel peace Prize winner and “father of the Green Revolution”; Astronomer Steven Beckwith, Director of the Space Telescope Institute at John Hopkins Univ.; Richard Dawkins, FRS, is an evolutionary biologist at Oxford.

Check out these 3 samples of the 60 predictions in “The Way We’ll Be 50 Years From Today”:

** Each of us will have a copy of our own complete DNA sequence, incorporated into a highly accurate electronic medical record and accessible from anywhere in the world. Visits to the doctor may seem a bit like Star Trek, with sophisticated imaging capabilities that allow precise assessments of any problems in any organ system (Francis S. Collins, MD, Ph.D., a geneticist who led the Human Gnome Project)

** Researchers will have discovered how to prevent breast cancer and heart disease will be no longer. (Nancy Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Louis Ignarro, Nobel Prize winner and Professor, UCLA School of Medicine)

And this is the one that REALLY caught my eye:
** Schizophrenia and bipolar diseases will be well understood and treatable, and will be known to be caused by infectious agents combined with predisposing genes; children will be vaccinated against them before they become exposed. What will be surprising will be the discovery that many of the infectious agents causing diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, MS, some cancers and other chronic diseases are transmitted to humans by animals. Pets such as cats, birds, hamsters and others will be uncommon due to the danger of the infectious agents they carry. (Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, a research psychiatrist specializing in schizophrenia and manic-depressive illnesses)

Anyone want to see if those of us with not-so-great minds and no Nobel Prizes can come up with our own predictions of how it will be 50 years from today?

I’ll start it off:
I think pets play a much BIGGER roll in our lives than Dr. Torrey obviously does. I don’t think “pets such as cats, birds, hamsters and others” (dogs?) will be uncommon 50 years from now. Pets are too important to our lives and if it is discovered that they carry infectious agents, then a way will also be discovered to resolve that problem without getting rid of the pets. And $50 billion dollars in annual sales of pet food and pet-related products may also play some slight role in this. (Gary Bogue, fumble-fingered blogger and daily pet and wildlife columnist)

Anybody else game for this? Let’s hear your predictions. Nobel Prize winners and great minds will also be allowed to participate if they feel so inclined.

Just leave your comments below:

Posted on Wednesday, March 5th, 2008
Under: Birds, Cats, Pets | 9 Comments »

California Animal Legislation for 2008

Animal bills for 2008 as of March 3

Many of the following bills have not yet been assigned to committee or set for hearing. More bills may be discovered. We’ll let you know if they are.

This information has been compiled by Virginia Handley of Paw PAC, PO Box 475012, San Francisco, CA 94147, 415-646-0622. See their Web site,, write or call for a copy of the 2007 Voting Chart.

To see actual copies of these bills go to


AB 1634 by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine re: Spay/Neuter. SUPPORT.
Requires six month old dogs/cats to be spayed/neutered. Exempts show and hunting dogs, research, law enforcement, search/rescue, service dogs, dogs/cats too old or sick. Breeders have to have permits, but allows one dog litter for one year.
Next Hearing: Senate Local Government. Maybe April.
Write: Senator Gloria Negrete-McCloud, Chairwoman. Tell her that pet overpopulation costs cities/counties millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of animal lives.

AB 2098 by Assemblyman Paul Krekorian re: Downed Animals. SUPPORT.
Strengthens the existing law prohibiting auctions and state inspected slaughterhouses from accepting or dragging downed animals.

AB 2233 by Assemblyman Bill Maze re: Dogs in Cars.
Prohibits having a dog, or any animal, in your lap while driving.

AB 2281 by Assemblyman Pedro Nava re: Dog Fighting. SUPPORT.
Strengthens existing penalty for attending a dog fight from a misdemeanor to a felony.

AB 2291 by Assemblyman Tony Mendoza re: Spay/Neuter. SUPPORT.
Adds a check off on state income tax forms to finance low cost spay/neuter programs.

AB 2602 by Assemblyman Cameron Smyth re: Hunting. SUPPORT.
Declares the intention of the Legislature to prohibit schools from funding or supporting the hunting or trapping of wildlife.

AB 2785 by Assemblyman Ira Ruskin re: Wildlife Corridors. SUPPORT.
Requires the Wildlife Conservation Board to designate and protect wildlife corridors. AB 828 of 2007 on the same subject was vetoed.

AB 2911 by Assemblywoman Lois Wolk re: Oil Spills. SUPPORT.
Among many provisions, strengthens protection against oil spills (as does AB 1806 and AB 2912, not listed in this alert) and provides for the better use of volunteers to rehabilitate wildlife.
Hearing: Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife. No date set.
Write: Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, Chairwoman. Thank her for introducing AB 2911. Wildlife rehabilitation is dependent on the volunteers to act quickly in emergencies.

SB 685 by Senator Leland Yee re: Pet Trusts. SUPPORT.
Strengthens pet trusts for animals in wills to provide for their care and provide oversight of the money. Mandates care for animals for their lifetime even if over 21 years, such as parrots and horses.
Next Hearing: Assembly Judiciary. No date set.
Write: Assemblyman Dave Jones, Chairman. Tell him animals deserve the care and protection their people provided for them in their wills.

SB 1121 by Senator Carole Migden re: Cloned Animals. SUPPORT.
Requires animal products from cloned animals be labeled. SB 63 of 2007 on the same subject was vetoed.
Next Hearing: Senate Health. No date set.
Write: Senator Sheila Kuehl, Chairwoman. Tell her that consumers/public have a right to know the origins of animals in the agriculture industry.

State Budget re: Fish and Game Wardens, Shelter Mandates. OPPOSE.
Among many cutbacks, the budget reduces the number of Fish & Game wardens. Also, the State Analyst has recommended that the unfunded state mandates (longer holding periods, shelter vet care) of the Hayden law be removed which have already cost the State well over $100 million.
Write: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Tell him our wildlife is dependent on the enforcement of laws against poaching and protection of habitat. Wardens are already understaffed and underpaid. Also, tell him that animals in shelters need veterinary care and the opportunity to be reclaimed or adopted.


“California Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act.” Mandates pregnant pigs, veal calves, and egg laying birds (chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, guinea fowl) have room to stand up, turn around, lie down and extend their limbs. Does not include dairy calves who replace dairy cows. Over 600,000 signatures have been gathered and the initiative will be on the November 2008 ballot. Info:

“California Farm Animal Protection Act” (07-0058). Put in by the agriculture industry to counteract the Calif. Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. Mandates compliance with industry standards which are much lower than those in the California Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. It has not yet qualified for the ballot.

Sponsored by opponents of AB 1634 initiatives 07-0056, 07-0057, 07-0059, 07-0060, 07-0062, 07-0063 have been submitted to prevent any future legislation to require spay/neuter or micro-chipping. Declares animals are property under the Constitution. They have not yet qualified for the ballot.

Looks like it’s going to be a VERY interesting year of squabbling in Sacramento. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, March 4th, 2008
Under: Animal Laws, Animal protection legislation | 9 Comments »