SoulPaws Recovery Project: Animal-Assisted Therapy Helps People with Eating Disorders

We’d like to share a bit of news about a project close to the heart of FACE’s very busy Humane Educator Annie Petersen: the SoulPaws Recovery Project. Besides the work she does with FACE to educate young people in our community about pets and animals, Annie has also worked with other organizations like the San Diego Humane Society and the Zoological Society of San Diego.

Annie, who holds an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Management, has also served as the President of the Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies. Currently, Annie works closely with an amazing organization called the SoulPaws Recovery Project, which she co-founded with Shannon Kopp. The mission of SoulPaws is to offer therapeutic support (including animal-assisted therapy) to those affected by eating disorders.

SoulPaws is dedicated to rescuing shelter animals and utilizing animal-assisted therapy to support sufferers of eating disorders. SoulPaws works with certified therapy animals as well as shelter animals. They also use other therapies like yoga, journaling, and art therapy. Their work was recently featured on the Huffington Post website. Be sure to check out the article and the SoulPaws website to learn more about this great non-profit.

We are very grateful to have such an amazing advocate as part of the FACE team. Thank you for all you do for the animals…and people…in our community, Annie!

 

“Humane Puerto Rico” Initiative Gears Up to Save Animals

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The Humane Society of the United States recently announced the creation of their new “Humane Puerto Rico” initiative. Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the U.S. and according to HSUS, there are many dogs, cats, and other animals there that are in urgent need of help. Did you know that the euthanasia rate for shelter dogs and cats is 95%, and that many thousands of homeless pets roam the streets of this island?

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What will the initiative do? There will be a multi-faceted effort to improve the lives of the animals of Puerto Rico in several areas, including:

  • Training law enforcement officers and prosecutors on animal cruelty crimes.
  • Donating law enforcement evidence-gathering kits.
  • Cracking down on puppy mills.
  • A humane education program that will reach every K-12 public school student.
  • New tools and technology for animal shelters on the island.
  • Partnering with Humane Society International on low-cost spay/neuter programs.

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Puerto Rican government officials signed an agreement pledging their cooperation to help solve critical issues such as animal cruelty, the street dog population, and the euthanasia rate. HSUS notes that many tourists visiting Puerto Rico have been struck by the number of homeless animals in poor condition wandering the streets, and have contacted various organizations to see what can be done.

Interested in learning more about the HSUS Humane Puerto Rico initiative? Click HERE for the original story.  For an update on what’s been going on lately, including a contraception program for the free-roaming horses of Vieques, and the launch of the Sister Shelter Project, in which shelter professionals from several states will provide assistance to Puerto Rican shelters, click HERE.

 

Dogs and Chocolate Marijuana Edibles: A Toxic Combination

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A recent report in The New York Times highlights a dangerous and increasingly common health threat to our pets (especially dogs) – eating recreational or medical marijuana…and chocolate desserts that contain marijuana. Most pet owners know that they should keep chocolate, a known toxin, away from their animals. But if that chocolate brownie also happens to contain marijuana, your dog could be doubly at risk.

According to the article, consuming marijuana can cause symptoms like lethargy, unsteady gait, urinary incontinence, excessive salivation, and sensitivity to noise, light, and movements. But the ingestion of marijuana alone is rarely fatal. Your vet will induce vomiting and provide extra hydration during recovery. New York City’s Animal Medical Center reports that it treats several cases of pet marijuana poisoning every week.

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Consuming marijuana alone can be harmful enough, but if your dog consumes a chocolate marijuana edible like brownies, the effects could be life-threatening. The director of the ASPCA’s poison control center reports that any canine deaths from marijuana ingestion pretty much always involve the dog consuming chocolate as well.

The toxic component of chocolate, a compound called theobromine (combined with the chocolate’s caffeine) can cause vomiting, diarrhea, thirst, restlessness, increased heart rate, and excessive urination. In serious cases, dogs can experience tremors, seizures, and heart failure. Older dogs with underlying heart conditions can die. As with marijuana poisoning, your vet will induce vomiting and give extra fluids.

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It’s important to keep all forms of marijuana and chocolate out of your curious dog’s reach. When the two are combined into one edible, be especially careful to make sure your dog cannot access this tempting but potentially deadly food.

Rachel Bloom’s Rescue Dog Wiley Has Her Own Talk Show!

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Are you a fan of the show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? Then you’ve probably seen some commercials during the show featuring Rachel Bloom and her adorable little rescue dog Wiley. Wiley just happens to talk in a voice that kind of sounds like Rachel’s…and when Rachel drops her off at doggy day care, Wiley hosts her own doggy talk show. Here’s a recent video of Wiley doing a show on pet supplies…because sometimes we just need a good laugh!  Enjoy!

 

How We Read a Dog’s Facial Expressions Says a Lot About Us

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Many animal lovers are guilty of assigning meaning, including human emotions, to a dog’s facial expressions. We’ve all done it…sometimes it looks like a dog is smiling and happy, other times they might look guilty, or those raised eyebrows make them look worried. How much meaning we assign to a dog’s facial movements—and if those meanings are accurate or just wishful thinking—is a topic that has been studied by scientists for years.

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A new study out of the University of Helsinki and Aalto University sheds some light on how your perception of a dog’s facial expressions may say more about what kind of person you are than what the dog is feeling. It turns out, people who are emotionally empathetic tend to assign more meaning to a dog’s facial expressions than others who are less empathetic.

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The researchers note that people with strong emotional empathy are actually very good at evaluating the feelings behind other humans’ facial expressions, but warn that when it comes to dogs, we over-interpret their emotions when we just look at their faces. They point out that a more reliable way to asses what’s going on inside a dog’s head is to look at their overall body language.

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As an example of the tendency of empathetic people to assign greater meaning to a dog’s face, the researchers point to a study that shows dog trainers tend to rate a dog’s “happy” expression as happier than people who don’t work with dogs.

Interested in learning more? Check out the full study HERE.