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Talkin' Pets News

July 25, 2020

Host - Jon Patch

Co-Host - Dr. Anne Lampru - Animal Alternatives

Producer - Kayla Cavanaugh

Network Producerr - Darian Sims

Consultant Social Media - Bob Page

Special Guests -Carol Kaufmann author of "97 Ways to Make a Cat Like You" will join Jon and Talkin' Pets 7/25/20 at 5pm ET to discuss & give away her new book

Dr. Mike Heithaus, Marine Ecologist, will join Jon and Talkin' Pets 7/25/20 at 630pm ET to discuss this year's Sharkfest and his role in Sharkcano and Raging Bull Shark

 

For over 35 years, Southeastern Guide Dogs has provided extraordinary guide and service dogs free of charge to people with visual impairments and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other disabilities, thanks to the generosity of private donations.

Now, in addition to providing these superbly trained dogs, Southeastern Guide Dogs can say that long-term canine care is no longer a financial concern for its graduates.

Thanks to many generous veterinary practices, and individual donors, Southeastern Guide Dogs is now the only guide dog school in North America to ensure that guide dog and service dog graduates across the U.S. can receive premium dog food, monthly preventatives, vaccinations and yearly wellness visits free of charge. This one-of-a-kind program is saving guide and service dog handlers an estimated $1,000-plus out-of-pocket per year.

“We are deeply grateful to the veterinarians, corporate and private donors who are making it possible to offer these benefits to nearly 600 alumni,” says Southeastern Guide Dogs CEO Titus Herman. “The people we serve tend to experience a high level of unemployment and limited, fixed incomes, so these benefits are making a significant difference in the quality of their lives.”

Guide dog graduate Rachel Weeks has first-hand experience caring for her guide dog, Plum, and a personal understanding of the value and impact of this new set of alumni benefits. She is applying her knowledge to overseeing the administration of the program at Southeastern Guide Dogs.

“This is an amazing gift,” Weeks says. “I know exactly what it is like to walk into the vet office hoping the bill will not derail my budget. It is important to put food on the table for a family and also imperative for Plum and other dogs like her to receive top-of-the-line care. Our graduates can now go forward confidently to the highest level of independence and freedom.”

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All but a few polar bears in the Arctic will likely be gone by the end of the century, a new study suggests, unless measures are taken to reduce the production of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

The bears' habitat of sea ice is predicted to decline to such an extent that the animals will be deprived of food. 

"Ultimately, the bears need food and in order to have food, they need ice," Péter Molnár, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough and one of the authors of the study, told CNN. "But in order for them to have ice, we need to control climate change."

Polar bears rely on sea ice to hunt, and when the ice is absent, they are forced onto land where they cannot find food. As Arctic sea ice declines in response to warming temperatures, polar bears must fast for longer periods. 

Prolonged fasting periods have been linked to reduced body condition, reproduction and survival in some polar bear populations, the study found. Continued sea ice loss ultimately threatens polar bear survival Arctic-wide. 

"Previously, we knew that polar bears would ultimately disappear unless we halt greenhouse gas rise. But knowing when they will begin to disappear in different areas is critical for informing management and policy – and inspiring action,” said the University of Wyoming's Steven Amstrup, who conceived the project and is a co-author of the study. 

Amstrup is also the chief scientist at Polar Bears International, a conservation organization dedicated to polar bears. 

The authors modeled polar bear survival under a high greenhouse-gas emissions scenario, which, if it occurs, would mean that all but a few polar bear populations would collapse by 2100, the study found.

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane are produced from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal. 

"Showing how imminent the threat is for different polar bear populations is another reminder that we must act now to head off the worst of future problems faced by us all,” said Amstrup. 

The study was published in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature Climate Change. 

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Public health officials have announced that a squirrel in Colorado has tested positive for the bubonic plague. The town of Morrison, Colorado, in Jefferson County, which is just west of Denver, made the startling announcement saying that the squirrel is the first case of plague in the county. “Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, and can be contracted by humans and household animals if proper precautions are not taken,” officials from Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) said. It is possible for humans to be infected with the bubonic plague through bites from infected fleas and by direct contact with blood or tissues of infected animals such as a cough or a bite.

Jefferson County Public Health said that cats are highly susceptible to the plague from things like flea bites, a rodent scratch or bite, and ingesting an infected rodent. Cats can die if not treated quickly with antibiotics after contact with the plague. Officials also said that dogs are not as susceptible to the plague as cats are but still may pick up and carry plague-infected rodent fleas. “Symptoms of plague may include sudden onset of high fever, chills, headache, nausea and extreme pain and swelling of lymph nodes, occurring within two to seven days after exposure. Plague can be effectively treated with antibiotics when diagnosed early.  Risk for contracting the bubonic plague is extremely low as long as the proper precautions are taken and JCPH published a list of them including eliminating all sources of food, shelter and access for wild animals around the home, not feeding wild animals, maintaining a litter and trash-free yard to reduce wild animal habitats, having people and pets should avoid all contact with sick or dead wild animals and rodents, using precaution when handling sick pets and having them examined by a veterinarian, consulting with a veterinarian about flea and tick control for pets and keeping pets from roaming freely outside.

“All pet owners who live close to wild animal populations, such as prairie dog colonies or other known wildlife habitats, should consult their veterinarian about flea control for their pets to help prevent the transfer of fleas to humans,” JCPH said. According to the CDC, even though there is no vaccine for the plague, it can be treated successfully with antibiotics if caught within 24 hours of exhibiting symptoms. “Arguably the most infamous plague outbreak was the so-called Black Death, a multi-century pandemic that swept through Asia and Europe,”  killed an estimated 25 million people, almost a third of the continent’s population. The Black Death lingered on for centuries, particularly in cities. Outbreaks included the Great Plague of London (1665-66), in which 70,000 residents died.” However, the CDC says that there is now only an average of seven human plague cases per year and the WHO says the mortality rate is estimated to be between 8-10%.   --------------------------

The lions, kangaroos and elephants at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom are ready for their closeups.

A new television show about the residents and caretakers at the animal-themed park in Florida is being produced by National Geographic and will start streaming this fall on the Disney+, Disney officials said in a blog post this week.

“The Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom” will give viewers a behind-the-scenes look of the animal care and veterinarian facilities at the theme park resort.

Disney owns the theme park resort and the streaming service. The television and media arm of National Geographic is a joint venture between Disney and the National Geographic Society.

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Houston ranks as the No. 1 city in the country when it comes to the most dog attacks reported by mail carriers, the U.S. Postal Service said in a press release.

The Bayou City recorded 85 dog attacks in 2019 while Dallas, ranked No. 5, recorded 51 attacks. Texas ranks second overall with a total of 491 dog attacks statewide.

Nationwide, dog attacks fell to 5,280 in 2019, which is 200 lower than 2018 according to the release.

These are the top cities with the most postal worker dog attacks in 2019:

  1. Houston (85)
  2. Los Angeles (74)
  3. Chicago (54)
  4. Cleveland (51)
  5. Dallas (40)
  6. Columbus, OH (35)
  7. Philadelphia, PA (34)
  8. Toledo, OH (32)
  9. Denver, CO (30)
  10. San Diego, CA (29)

USPS said they are working to improve mobile technology to reduce potential attacks and safely deliver mail to residents. Devices include handheld scanners and Informed Delivery notices to notify customers of their arrival if an animal is present in their home.

“Even during these difficult times, it’s important for our customers to understand that letter carriers are still coming to homes daily and need to deliver mail safely,” said USPS Safety Awareness Program Manager Chris Johnson. “We are confident we can keep moving the trends of attacks downward, and ramping up overall awareness for everyone is the best way to do that.”

USPS provided these safety tips to secure your dogs if a mail carrier arrives on your property:

    • If you receive mail at your front door, place your dog in a separate room before retrieving the mail.
    • Remind children and other family members to not receive mail when a family pet is present.
  • Postal carriers who feel threatened by an animal may be unable to deliver the mail. USPS can hold your mail at your nearest post office.
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A heavy-lift Long March-5 roared off a launch pad on Hainan Island Thursday, carrying China's hopes for its first successful Mars mission – an ambitious project to send an orbiter, lander and rover to the red planet in one shot.

If everything goes according to plan, Tianwen-1 will be China's first successful mission to Mars, after a previous attempt failed in 2011 — gaining it membership in an elite club including only the U.S. and Russia, of nations who have successfully landed on the planet. (Even so, the Soviet Union's Mars 3 lander, which touched down in 1971, transmitted for mere seconds before contact was lost.)

Thursday's launch of Tianwen-1 took place at about 12:40 p.m. local time (12:40 a.m. ET) from Wenchang Spaceport on Hainan in the South China Sea.

Within 45 minutes, launch commander Zhang Xueyu announced to a cheering control room that the spacecraft had "accurately entered the scheduled orbit."

Earlier this month in Nature Astronomy, members of the mission team detailed their objectives for the spacecraft.

"Tianwen-1 is going to orbit, land and release a rover all on the very first try, and coordinate observations with an orbiter. No planetary missions have ever been implemented in this way," they said.

The goals of the mission are to map surface geology, examine soil characteristics and water distribution, measure the Martian ionosphere and climate and study the planet's magnetic and gravitational fields.

The package of multiple spacecraft will take the next approximately seven months getting to Mars. The lander is scheduled to touch down in April in the planet's largest impact basin, Utopia Planitia – the same general area where the U.S. Viking 2 landed in 1976.

The solar-powered rover will be deployed sometime after that. It is scheduled to spend about 90 Martian days (each about 40 minutes longer than an Earth day) exploring the surface.

The launch of Tianwen-1 comes days after the United Arab Emirates launched its own probe to Mars – a first for the Middle Eastern country. Within the next few weeks, the U.S. — which has more than 20 successful missions since its first attempt to reach Mars in 1964, will also launch another mission to the red planet, called Mars 2020, carrying its latest rover, Perseverance.

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The first thing to know about a new comet that has appeared in the evening sky is that it's one big ice ball: about 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) across.

"Just to put it into context, about 65 million years ago there was an asteroid or a comet that was thought to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs," says astronomer Amy Mainzer. "That object is thought to have been about 5 to 10 kilometers across."

Mainzer is principal investigator for a NASA mission known as NEOWISE that is seeking to spot comets and asteroids that could wipe out life as we know it on Earth.

And NEOWISE did spot this comet in March.

And 2020 has been a terrible year so far. But don't worry, she says: "It's definitely not going to hit the Earth."

Instead, the comet, known officially as C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) — or just comet Neowise for short — is providing an unexpected bright spot in the lives of quarantined astronomers. It came from a dark part of the solar system known as the Oort Cloud — an icy graveyard billions of miles out that is filled with ancient comets and asteroids. It shot into the inner solar system, and astronomers watched as it passed the sun at a distance closer than the planet Mercury.

It's definitely not going to hit the Earth.

"Of course, the question we asked was, 'Will it survive? Or is the sun going to melt it like an ice cube on a Tucson summer day?' " says Amy Mainzer, a professor at the University of Arizona.

It did survive, thanks in large part to its size, and is now passing near Earth. Mainzer says the wanderer appears to be very rich in carbon, making it almost sooty in appearance if you were up close. But the sun's rays are making it visible, even to the naked eye.

"It looks at first like a little fuzzy dot, and then you'll notice that it has this long streaky tail sticking off of it," she says.

Until this week, the comet was visible only to early birds willing to rise before dawn. But now it's appearing in the evening, mainly in the Northern Hemisphere. To find it, go outside just after dark and look to the northwest, below the Big Dipper. It appears close to the horizon right now, but it will start to rise higher in the sky in the coming days.

Mainzer says she can't predict how long the comet will remain visible. Its brightness depends on its distance from the sun and Earth, as well as its composition. But while it's here, she finds it to be comforting to look at.

"In spite of the really difficult times right now, it's a reminder that we're part of a bigger universe," she says. "And there are some really wonderful and beautiful things in it."

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Pinpointing why some dogs get cancer and others do not is the focus of Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.

To that end, researchers are seeking healthy “golden oldies”—golden retrievers older than 12 years old—to help determine potential risk factors that may lead to the development of cancers common in the breed.

The study’s research team aims to compare the genetics of dogs that died from cancer with the DNA of older golden retrievers that successfully avoided the disease.

“These older dogs will allow us to expedite our process so we can share meaningful results faster with veterinarians, dog owners, and researchers,” says Morris Animal Foundation’s chief scientific officer, Janet Patterson-Kane, BVSc, PhD, FRCVS. “Just one veterinary visit from each of these ‘golden oldies’ could make a world of difference to their breed and potentially every dog around the world.”

Specifically, the genetic comparison between the two groups will help identify regions in the canine genome that may contribute to cancer susceptibility, allowing the team to start analyzing study cancer samples sooner, Morris Animal Foundation says.

The information learned could help lead to genetic screening tests and targeted therapies for treatment, as well as recommendations for informed breeding to help reduce cancer rates over time.

While researchers will primarily be examining the dogs’ genetics, consideration will also be made regarding their environment (i.e. if they lived in a rural, urban, or suburban habitat) and lifestyle (i.e. whether they were primarily a working or companion animal).

Participating dogs must be purebred golden retrievers from the continental U.S. and preferably registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC). For DNA extraction, each dog will have a blood sample drawn by their family veterinarian.

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Now more than ever, it is imperative veterinarians ensure their patients are properly protected from parasites.

This is according to a new study conducted by Oklahoma State University (OSU) in cooperation with Elanco Animal Health and IDEXX Laboratories, which saw at least one dog test positive for intestinal parasites (i.e. roundworm, whipworm, Giardia, or hookworm) in 85 percent of sampled parks located in 30 major metro areas.

Of the more than 3,000 samples in the study, one in five had parasites. Further, of the estimated 76 million domesticated dogs across the U.S., more than 15 million could be unintentionally spreading parasites into the environment on any given day, Elanco reports.

“Veterinarians can help dog owners understand how to help manage the risk of parasites, both at home and in public,” says the study’s director, Susan Little, DVM, PhD, DACVM. “In the case of internal parasites, prevention is the key to protection—for both pets and people. This includes routine fecal testing and monthly use of a broad-spectrum parasiticide, as well as picking up pets’ feces and disposing of it properly.”

The data, Elanco says, align with the findings of a June survey of more than 1,000 U.S. pet owners, conducted by TRUE Global Intelligence, which showed humans had developed an increased reliance on their companion animals amidst the global pandemic.

Specifically, dog owners:

  • are 10 percent more likely to work from home and 11 percent more likely to take their canine more places as compared to pre-pandemic levels as restrictions begin to ease across the country; and
  • have spent more time with their dogs during the pandemic, with 68 percent adding their pets have become more of an emotional companion.

“Pets are more mobile than ever, and wherever they go, so go the worms,” Dr. Little says. “The results of this study confirm our suspicions that, as pets become more integrated into our daily lives and public spaces, so do their parasites.”

While intestinal parasites were present nationally, there were regional differences discovered in the study. In the South, for example, 90 percent of dog parks had at least one positive dog present at the time of collection, representing regional statistics higher than national results.

“Today, pets are wherever people are,” Little says. “From airports to shopping centers, restaurants to parks, you don’t have to look far to find dogs living life alongside their owners—and that is exactly how we want it to be. We love our dogs. Appropriate parasite detection and prevention efforts guided by veterinarians can help us continue to safely include pets in our daily routines.”

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Reducing aggressive behavior and minimizing health risks in cats are at the heart of the Feline Fix by Five Months campaign.

Launched in 2016, the movement, which promotes the early sterilization of cats in the interest of medical, behavioral, and community wellness, has been formally endorsed by state veterinary medical associations in Maine, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

In voicing support, the groups join national organizations American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP).

“When state veterinary associations embrace and endorse the recommended best practice of spaying and neutering cats by five months of age, it amplifies our message that the benefits of ‘fixing by five months’ are numerous and impactful to the health and welfare of cats, and to the problem of overpopulation in communities across the country and around the world,” says Feline Fix by Five’s program director, Esther Mechler.

While the recommended age for spaying/neutering cats is usually six months, performing the procedure earlier offers faster recovery and fewer unwanted litters, as well as a range of health and behavioral benefits that can help reduce the number of cats relinquished to shelters by their owners, Feline Fix by Five Months says.

Specifically:

  • for females, the risk for mammary cancer (which is fatal in more than 85 percent of diagnosed cases) is reduced by 91 percent if a cat is spayed before her first estrous cycle;
  • for males: neutering lessens aggression and urine marking, as well as roaming behaviors, which can result in serious injuries, diseases, and death; and
  • in general: cats sterilized before puberty are less likely to exhibit undesirable behaviors secondary to sex hormones.

“Cat owners who may be unsure of when to spay or neuter their pet, or who wait until they are six months of age, are often faced with the dilemma of what to do with an unexpected litter of kittens,” says the campaign’s veterinary medical advisor, Philip Bushby, DVM, MS, DACVS. “Ironically, the problem is not always the result of owners refusing to spay or neuter their cat—they simply did not know performing the surgery before a cat reaches sexual maturity has benefits beyond just preventing ‘surprise’ litters.”

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In response to the news that a coyote was spotted on the National Mall in Washington, the Humane Society of the United States has just released the following statement:

According to Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States:   “Coyotes have been in the D.C. area for many years often right under our noses, venturing out in public places.  This is actually not all that unusual or surprising to the Humane Society of the United States.  They are a part of this city as much as any other native wildlife and important to our urban ecosystems. If you are walking on the mall or anywhere else and you see a coyote, you should not act intimidated and shrink away. Overtime they can learn from that and become more bold.  The best course of action is to make yourself as big and loud as possible by clapping your hands and waving your arms. Keep walking where you are headed.  They will move along and learn that this is your space.” 

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Hog farmers are facing economic hardship after COVID-19 outbreaks forced meatpacking plants across the Midwest to close.

“Due to the packing plant shutdowns and not running at 100 percent capacity, our hog markets have been severely affected,” say’s Wanda Patsche, a Minnesota hog farmer and Minnesota Pork Board member. “We are losing US$30-40 per pig right now.”

COVID-19 has hit meat packing and processing plants throughout the Midwest, infecting over 32,000 workers, according to the Food and Environment Reporting Network. This has created a hole in the food supply chain as some plants are closing and others have limited their workforce.

After Smithfield’s Sioux Falls, South Dakota plant and others shut down, the entire hog market saw a drop in prices. The Smithfield plant is one of the largest meatpacking plants in the country.

Patsche stresses that she wants and needs plants to prioritize safe working conditions for workers. But the plant closures still came as a terrible blow.

There is a tight time frame between when a pig is born and when it is mature and ready for slaughter as compared to poultry and cows. This means that hog farmers feel the effects of plant closures before other livestock farmers. According to the National Pork Producers Council, the hog industry is expected to lose US$5 billion in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Farmers can try to wait to sell their pigs, but if the pigs grow too big, they will become unsellable. Instead, Patsche says farmers can attempt to adapt to the changing market by selling hogs privately, using slow-growth feed, finding other housing options for hogs, and, as a last resort, euthanizing hogs they are unable to sell.

Patsche believes the processing plant closures will have a long lasting effect on hog farmers and that the industry will never be the same after COVID-19. 

“The way the majority of the way the hog industry operates results in affordable food prices, but we have seen through COVID how fragile our system really is.” For more information visit foodtank.com.

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After years of growth, lobster populations in the Gulf of Maine are declining due to warming waters, according to a study by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. Fishers are looking to kelp farming to support their livelihoods and the environment. “We have seen the lobster population just grow and grow [in past years],” Chris Townsend, a commercial fisher on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, says. But, he continues, “A lobster is very sensitive to temperature. As the water warms, they cannot come back to their traditional grounds where they drop their eggs off.” 

The Gulf of Maine is the fastest warming body of water, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, gradual warming initially contributed to a boom in lobster populations, but warming waters, coupled with shell disease – a condition that makes lobsters susceptible to mineral loss – is already resulting in a decrease in lobster stocks

Townsend has been working along the New England coast for 37 years. He now sells his catch to local fish markets, runs eco-tours, and continues to fish commercially. “You used to be able to go lobstering all the way down to South Jersey. Now the southern limit of lobsters is basically Rhode Island,” Townsend states.  With 80 percent of lobster in the United States coming from Maine, the dip in lobster populations threatens the state’s economy. In 2018, lobsters’ value contributed US$500 million to Maine’s economy and provided more than 35,000 jobs throughout the industry. 

“The lobster industry is strong, but our coast’s dependence on a single, wild species, particularly in the face of climate change, makes our coastal economy incredibly volatile,” says Briana Warner, CEO and President of Atlantic Sea Farms. Some fisheries are adopting conservation efforts to keep fertile female lobsters in the Gulf longer to increase lobster stocks; others are diversifying into marine aquaculture, the practice of breeding, raising, and farming species that live in oceans or estuaries. 

Kelp farming, a form of aquaculture, produces commercial goods and restores habitats, according to Meg Chadsey, an expert on ocean acidification from the University of Washington.  Kelp farming offers lobsterers a means to sustain their business and support the Gulf’s ecosystem.  “[Lobstering and kelp aquaculture] are symbiotic,” says Warner. “Kelp helps to locally mitigate some of the effects of climate change by removing carbon and nitrogen from the water and reducing ocean acidification. Kelp farmers are, in essence, improving the oceans and helping lobster populations thrive.”

With the lobster season in summer and fall, and the kelp farming season in the winter and spring, diversification allows coastal fishermen to supplement their income, says Warner.  Once kelp is harvested, companies like Atlantic Sea Farms buy what their farmers produce and process it into products such as seaweed kraut, kimchi and salad. 

Kelp’s combined industrial and consumer value projects to contribute US$2.2 million by 2028 with an exponential growth rate.  “In order to remain who we are and keep our maritime heritage, diversification of coastal incomes is essential,” Warner says. “Lobstermen are some of the best environmental stewards out there. There is tremendous opportunity for Maine’s aquaculture industry to grow—and for fishermen to be the leaders of this growth.” -------------

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