Humane Society of Utah Says “No Thank You” to Food Donation from Pet Store

A recent news story from the Salt Lake Tribune will have animal advocates cheering for the Humane Society of Utah!   Like many animal welfare organizations, Utah Humane is opposed to pet stores selling puppy mill-bred animals for profit.  So, when they found out that a donated pallet of dog food came from a pet store called the Puppy Barn, they said “Thanks, but no thanks.”

According to the article, the Humane Society discovered that the donation came from a pet store after the owners of the Puppy Barn posted a self-congratulatory video of the food purchase and donation on their social media accounts.

Administrators at HSU promptly sent the pet store a check for $900 (the estimated cost of the food) and informed them that they do not accept donations from companies that don’t share their mission.  They also asked the Puppy Barn to take the video down.  A Humane Society employee accepted the donation, not realizing the donors were pet store owners.  After finding out, she was “upset” to have been shown in the video, thanking them for the food.

HSU notes that many animals sold as babies via pet stores often end up in animal shelters as they grow into adults, lose their cuteness, and become harder to handle for inexperienced owners.  As officials at HSU say, “We don’t want to promote buying puppies when we deal every day with trying to find them homes.”

 

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Video: Meet “The Dogist” – Instagram’s Most Popular Pet Photographer

Who doesn’t love browsing cute pet photos on the Internet?  If you love a good dog portrait, then chances are Elias Weiss Friedman, aka The Dogist, is your favorite pet photographer.  Elias has nearly 3 million followers on Instagram, as well as a website called The Dogist.  Elias has been traveling all over the world for the past several years, taking beautiful photographs of the dogs that he meets in cities on his travels.

Check out this video to learn more about the man who just might have the world’s best job!

 

Study Shows MRI Scans Help Find Best Service Dog Candidates

In the ongoing effort to understand what our pets are thinking, researchers have been performing MRI scans on dogs’ brains for the past several years.  A recent canine brain scan study conducted by scientists at Emory University may help determine which dogs will make the best service dogs.

43 service dogs in training with the organization Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) underwent MRI scans to determine what makes a successful service dog.  While all the dogs in the study had outwardly calm temperaments, the scans revealed that some of the dogs had higher levels of activity in the area of the brain associated with excitability.  These dogs were more likely to fail the training program.

Scanning potential service dogs early in the training process could be very beneficial for organizations like CCI, since it can cost as much as $50,000 to fully train one dog.  70% of dogs that start a training program will drop out due to behavioral issues.  Since there are always waiting lists for good service dogs, it would be efficient to weed out problematic candidates at the beginning.

Without the MRI scan, the early identification of dogs that would ultimately fail training had a 47% success rate.  With the scan, the predictability of failure went up to a 67% success rate.

How did researchers test the dogs?  While in the MRI machine, dogs were given hand signals for “treat” or “no treat.”  The successful service dog candidates did show activity in a part of the brain associated with rewards when given the sign for “treat” but they did not show excessive activity in the excitability area of the brain.  In contrast, the less successful candidates showed more excitability with the “treat” signal, including when signaled by strangers, a trait which trainers consider to be a red flag for service dogs.

Interested in learning more?  You can read the full text of the article on the website for Scientific Reports HERE.

 

Top image of some very good study participants:  Dr. Gregory Berns, Emory University.

 

Clear the Shelters Day is Saturday, August 19th!

It’s coming…the annual event known as Clear the Shelters Day is happening this Saturday, August 19th at animal shelters around the U.S.  Clear the Shelters is an event sponsored by local NBC and Telemundo television stations around the country to encourage shelter pet adoptions.  Many shelters will waive adoption fees on Saturday, so it’s the perfect time to open your heart to a shelter pet in need of a loving forever home.

Check out this map on the Clear the Shelters website to find a participating shelter in your community.  And here’s a cute video from sponsor VIP Pet Care to get you in the mood!

 

123 Yorkie-Mix Dogs Rescued From San Diego-Area Home

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Animal hoarding stories are always tough to hear about. A recent hoarding case in the San Diego County community of Poway has gotten a lot of attention recently. An incredible number of dogs were rescued from a hoarding situation…123 to be exact (the number grew after animal welfare workers found additional dogs that the owners had been hiding during the original rescue operation).

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In this sad case, an elderly couple had been hoarding these little Yorkie-mix dogs in their home, and the living conditions faced by the dogs were, as you can imagine, horrific. The dogs are now in the care of the San Diego Humane Society, and it’s been all hands on deck caring for these sweet pups. They’ve needed grooming, dental care, vaccinations, and other services.

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They soon will be made available for adoption. San Diego Humane has set up a special web page to help field the many inquiries about the adoption process for these Yorkies. If you live in the San Diego area, consider opening your heart to one of these special dogs. You can also watch a news video about the dogs HERE.