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How Are You Going to Celebrate “Take Your Dog to Work Day”? Mark the Calendar–June 20th

As most of you know, the American Kennel Club is concerned about the rise in pet theft. When I moved to Columbia County in the 1970s, the concern about stolen ( ?) pets targeted local medical research facilities. The allegation was that dogs and cats were mysteriously whisked away to become research subjects. That allegation, however, was never proven. When I was in medical school in New York state random-source dogs and cats were research subjects; their treatment and fate were enough to make me re-evaluate my career goal–especially when I was told to kill a cat by cutting off his head while he was still alive! Today, most research subjects are bred-for-purpose dogs and cats. At one time before the local medical research center was built, bred-for-purpose dogs and cats were brought into the area and boarded in local veterinary hospitals before being transported to the research facility. This was not common public knowledge and I doubt that anyone would confirm it today.

The kennels that breed and raise these dogs do so under federal regulations. These dogs are quite expensive and so usually rats and rabbits are commonly used subjects and a veterinarian watches over their health and welfare with great care. I have met some of these veterinarians and often wish they would go into private practice due to their compassion and alertness for any sign of pain or discomfort.

Returning to the concern about local animal theft, although the AKC suggests that pet owners implant a microchip to assist in the location of lost pets, the inner-thigh tattoo was the original marker signifying that a dog belonged to someone. Thanks to the National Dog Registry=s (NDR) efforts, medical schools and research laboratories all over the country helped pass a law making it illegal to use a tattooed dog as a research subject. Some of these institutions even worked with the NDR and set up free tattoo clinics for area pet owners. A tattoo is easily visible and in a disaster is probably the first sign the cat or dog is a pet. In Pennsylvania the tattoo is the license number of the dog and signifies a lifetime license. Since there is a substantial fine for possessing a dog with a tattoo registered to someone else, the tattoo should also help deter dognapping. Many dog owners also use a microchip as a back-up and when the new microchip is in place more and more dogs–and cats–will no doubt have microchips.

Have you ever noticed that headlines on both TV and newspaper list biting dogs as APit Bulls and/or Rottweiler-Pitbulls@? Yet if the story is about a home invasion or a stabbing, the alleged perpetrators are not identified as Whites or Latinos or African Americans! This “lumping together” of biting dogs under these terms is tantamount to canine racism! This may seem like a small point but such headlines and characterizations serve to fuel breed- specific legislation. In the Commonwealth there is an effort to allow towns and municipalities to pass laws that would circumvent the state dog law, which does not allow breed discrimination. The media must not be allowed to play the race card when it comes to dogs.

It is also important to note that the most recent study on dog bites published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) looks at neighborhoods as linked to dog bites. Thus, it is not the breed but the Ahood@ they live in–perhaps we should have a dangerous neighborhood list rather than a dangerous breed list!

Foster care is under scrutiny in dog law discussions about new regulations. However, while question and debate are necessary, it is now time to open your hearts and homes and consider being a PSPCA foster volunteer to care for kittens and puppies who need extra TLC. The PSPCA supplies bowls, litter, medical care and other supplies for animal care. Did you know that cats that live in a home with dogs visit the veterinary hospital less often than cats who live in a Acats only” home? Also, that there are no wellness guidelines for felines? If you are interested in becoming a PSPCA foster parent, contact the Director of Adoptions, Rescue, and Foster Homes rlittle@pspca.org

May 03, 2008 | Comments are off | Uncategorized, animal theft, foster care, microchip, tattoo