Long-Term Health Effects of Wildfires on Cats

Veterinarians at the University of California, Davis have been studying the health of cats affected by the recent California wildfires.  They have found that cats who suffered burns and smoke inhalation developed a high incidence of cardiovascular problems.

Researchers examined 51 cats referred for veterinary treatment after wildfires in 2017 and 2018.  More than half of the cats had serious cardiovascular problems.

Specifically, a high incidence of heart muscle thickening and blood clot formation (or the risk of blood clot formation) was found in many of the cats.  Six of the cats in the study had to be euthanized for cardiac problems.

The researchers report that humans who have experienced burns are also at risk for cardiovascular issues, but they found a higher incidence in the cats, even among those who had only moderate burns.

They note that further research into animals impacted by fire can translate into a greater understanding of how human health is affected.

“We also know that these cats inhaled smoke in a very urban environment, exposing them to toxicants,” said one of the researchers. “These cats could be the canary in the coal mine, letting us know what might happen if more people are exposed to these types of wildfires.”

They recommend that veterinarians screen for cardiovascular issues in cats who have been treated after wildfires.

You can read the full text of the study HERE.

Top image:  Rob Warren/UC Davis


Animal Legal Defense Fund Ranks U.S. State Animal Protection Laws

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) recently released its 14th annual U.S. State Animal Protection Laws Ranking Report for the year 2019.

The ALDF assesses each state’s animal protection legislation and ranks them from strongest to weakest.  For 2019, Illinois ranked first, followed by Oregon, Colorado, Maine, and Rhode Island.

At the bottom of the rankings, Mississippi has the weakest animal protection laws, followed by Iowa, New Mexico, Kentucky, and Wyoming.

New Hampshire and Montana are the most-improved states, thanks to recent legislation to ban animal fighting paraphernalia and to remove animals from abuse and neglect situations.

The banning of animal fighting objects and instruments is a trend in several states.  Also trending are state laws that prohibit people convicted of animal abuse from owning (or living in the same household with) an animal.

You can click on their interactive map to see how your state ranks, and you can download the full ALDF rankings report HERE.


Video: Man Plays Violin for Shelter Dogs

This heartwarming video from the ASPCA is sure to make you smile!

Martin Agee is a professional violinist who also happens to volunteer with the ASPCA, rehabilitating abused shelter dogs.  He knew that reading to dogs soothes them, so he decided to try playing them classical music.

The music has a calming effect on the dogs.  They stop barking and go to their beds to watch and listen to him play.  Some of them even “sing” along!

Watch the video below and click HERE for more information on Martin and the rehabilitation program, including some adorable photos.


Shelter Euthanasia Rates Drop with Increases in Spay/Neuter and Adoptions

The New York Times recently shared some good animal welfare news:  companion animal euthanasia rates have fallen an impressive 75% since 2009.

The Times collected animal shelter data from 20 US municipalities.  They found that shelters in many cities are reporting significant drops in dog and cat euthanasia rates.

Why has there been such a decline in recent years?  The Times points to several factors, including:

  • Increased animal welfare activism
  • Changes in shelter management approaches
  • Shifting cultural attitudes about stray and homeless animals

Some large US cities with open-intake shelters (municipal institutions that are required to take in animals) have gone from euthanizing hundreds of animals per day to around 10.

Two of the biggest factors in the decline in euthanasia rates are increased spay/neuter (especially for community cats) and the growing public perception that owning a rescue animal is a “badge of honor.”

There’s also an increase in interstate relocation of homeless animals, generally from the southern US to northern states.

Shelters are still facing many challenges, including overcrowding and the spread of contagious diseases.  But the overall of trend of more adoptions and less euthanasia is welcome news for all animal lovers!


Video: NFL Star Raises Awareness About Dogs Left Outside in the Cold

Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu has teamed up with PETA to create a public awareness video on the dangers of dogs being kept outside in freezing cold weather.

Tyrann stepped into a walk-in freezer to experience what it must be like for dogs left out in the cold.  He pointed out that their food and water also freeze solid when left outdoors in the cold.

Tyrann lasted about 20 minutes, but some dogs are left outside all day and night.

PETA recommends talking to your neighbors if you see that their dogs are left outside in the cold.  You can also see if your local government has a policy on chained dogs.

Check out the full video below and click this link for helpful tips on keeping pets warm in cold weather.