Alley Cat Allies, the global engine of change for cats, has provided $100,000 in funding and is teaming up with the Humane Society of Louisiana (HSLA) on a new joint initiative, “Stop Cruelty to Cats,” to address the crisis of cruelty against cats.
Each year, there is an increasing number of reports of extreme violence against cats from the entire state that go unprosecuted. Although aggravated cruelty is a felony offense, it is overlooked by law enforcement and the courts. Abusers are rarely ever charged or prosecuted.
HSLA will use the funding from Alley Cat Allies to expand its core animal crime fighting initiatives and to implement new programs. The multipronged initiative will include a broad-based No Cruelty to Cats Task Force, and build a coalition for new, statewide anti-cruelty initiatives.
“Violent acts toward cats are not isolated, and well-established research has identified the link between violence against cats and violence against humans,” said Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies. “It is important to help law enforcement understand this connection. Most importantly, cats have intrinsic value – they suffer and feel pain, and it is wrong to think otherwise.”
Robinson will join Jeff Dorson, executive director of the Humane Society of Louisiana, to announce the new campaign at a Westwego home where 14 cats were reported missing a few months ago. Despite efforts that were made to publicize their disappearance, none of the missing cats have been found, and no arrests have been made. Robert Sanders, the longtime caretaker of the animals, grieves their loss and worries that others that he cares for may face the same fate. (HSLA held an initial press conference in front of Mr. Sanders’ home at the time of disappearance.)
“It’s clear that these 14 cats, some of whom were elderly and in need of daily medications, did not simultaneously take up residence elsewhere, after many years at this location,” said Dorson. “Based on what we’ve uncovered, there is good reason to believe that there has been foul play, injury to the cats, or abandoned at another location, which is another criminal act.”
The nonprofit Companion Animal Parasite Council has released its 2022 Pet Parasite Forecast warning that vector-borne diseases – heartworm, Lyme, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis – will pose higher-than-average risks across much of the country this year. R
CAPC reports that heartworm disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, and tick-borne diseases Lyme, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis continue to spread throughout the U.S. Risks have increased due to rehoming of pets, as well as changes in:
- Distribution and prevalence of vector (mosquito and tick) populations.
- Wildlife populations and their incursion into newly developed and reclaimed areas.
- Short- and long-term changes in climatic conditions.
- Habitat due to natural or human-induced processes.
The forecasts are supported by research by parasitologists and statisticians in academic institutions across the U.S. They highlight areas where more should be done to lower the risk of companion animals’ exposure to disease vectors, such as mosquito and ticks, according to a press release. The foundations of these prevention strategies are recommendations that veterinarians and pet owners test their pets annually for disease and protect their pets with products that kill/or repel mosquitos and ticks, as well as year-round heartworm prevention.
For more information about the Companion Animal Parasite Council visit https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.capcvet.org/&source=gmail&ust=1646420629770000&usg=AOvVaw0x8Z9gRfoW1xKiydw3K13L">www.capcvet.org. To view local 30-Day Pet Parasite Forecast Maps and the daily Flea Forecast, visit https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.petdiseasealerts.com&source=gmail&ust=1646420629770000&usg=AOvVaw3P084kJ1CwatBsmbmXwZwh">www.petdiseasealerts.org.
There's nothing our furry pets love more than a treat, toy and a long walk, but which cities have the best spaces for taking your dog on a stroll?
A recent study by LawnStarter ranked the top 174 large cities based on walkability, environment, services and safety.
Walkability was judged based on the number of errands that could be done without the need of a car, and environment was based on the proximity of dog-friendly parks. The services category measured the availability of local dog-walking services, and safety analyzed the crime statistics and pedestrian fatalities.
Some cities scored high in walkability but poorly in safety and so on. While Orlando, Florida had the most dog-walkers, they also had the most pedestrian fatalities. New York ranked fifth for walkability but 168th for its pricey services. Portland, Oregon had the most dog-friendly parks, and the study highlighted San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles among the best cities for dog-walking. The study said dog owners would feel safest in the following cities: Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Port St. Lucie, Florida; and Frisco, Texas,
But where did your city rank?
Here are the top ten cities for best dog walking:
1. Portland, OR
2. San Francisco, CA
3. Oakland, CA
4. Las Vegas, NV
5. Boise, ID
6. Los Angeles, CA
7. New York, NY
8. Washington, DC
9. Colorado Springs, CO
10. Jersey City, NJ
These are the cities that ranked lowest:
165. Tulsa, OK
166. Laredo, TX
167. Fayetteville, NC
168. Macon, GA
169. Montgomery, AL
170. Memphis, TN
171. Garland, TX
172. Port St. Lucie, FL
173. Wichita, KS
174. Jackson, MS
An Australian state has adopted some of the strictest animal reproduction rules in the world, reigniting debate over the pros and cons of mandatory spaying and neutering. Meanwhile, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) is finalizing an animal desexing survey, destined for thousands of practitioners globally, as it works to create guidelines on what is fast reemerging as a hot-button issue in the veterinary community.
Western Australia, which comprises about 10% of Australia's population but a third of its landmass, in December passed a raft of laws that include a requirement that all new dogs be sterilized by age 2. The state also will establish a central registration system to hold information on dogs, cats and approved breeders. Pet shops will be turned into adoption centers that may sell only stray, abandoned or seized dogs.
The laws were proposed in 2017 during an election campaign by the left-leaning Labor government, touted as a means of stopping puppy farming. "Dogs are an important part of many Western Australian families and we should be doing what we can to make sure they're looked after and treated well," the state's premier, Mark McGowan, said when the legislation passed. Exemptions from the mandatory desexing requirement will be granted to people with a breeding license or a letter from a veterinarian certifying that sterilization could adversely affect the animal's health. Those caught breaking the mandatory sterilization rule could be fined AUD$5,000 (US$3,592).
Spaying and castration of house pets broadly is encouraged in many countries to prevent overpopulation and mass euthanizing. The community at large benefits because a proliferation of unwanted animals may pose safety and hygiene risks to humans. Sterilization can provide health benefits to the animals, such as a reduced risk of mammary and reproductive-organ cancers. Owners can benefit from less pet aggression, wandering and unwanted sexual behavior. At the same time, the new laws in Australia come as a growing body of research suggests that desexing, especially when animals are prepubertal, might pose health risks, too — such as developing joint disorders and some types of cancer, as well as more well-known risks, such as obesity.
Rhode Island, which mandates desexing cats, is the only state in the United States with a blanket compulsory neutering law, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. A few local governments in the U.S. also have introduced mandatory desexing — most notably Los Angeles county in 2008, of cats and dogs, according to the AVMA. Rules often are stricter for animals in shelters: 32 U.S. states, for instance, require sterilization or a promise to sterilize an animal adopted from a shelter or rescue, according to the AVMA. Many jurisdictions throughout the world also impose higher licensing fees for intact animals and mandatory sterilization of breeds considered dangerous, such as pit bulls.
Down Under, the state of Western Australia is not the first to require dog sterilization. The state of South Australia introduced a similar rule for all dogs and cats in 2018, while the Australian Capital Territory, a small jurisdiction that encompasses Australia's capital city of Canberra, introduced the same in 2001. At the other end of the spectrum, pet sterilization is uncommon in some parts of Europe, such as Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, where the procedures are widely considered to be a form of animal mutilation. Greece, however, reportedly is considering whether to introduce mandatory desexing to address a large problem with strays.
Healthy Pet Connect (HPC) released its new platform and ecosystem that includes IOS, Android, and web versions of its research-proven Fit Pets for Rescues (FPR) weight management system. It offers accurate, connected scales and a pet-personalized feeding system at no cost to each subscriber as a limited-time promotion.
According to a company release, the basic HPC app is an interactive pet health platform that enables pet parents to enter the type/amounts of food, treats, weights, exercise, pictures, videos, and an estimate of Body Condition Score (BCS), similar to BMI in humans. The app informs and encourages pet parents to provide good nutrition and exercise but does not monetize through any food recommendations.
"We created the app for all pets, as prevention of disease is part of our veterinary oath. The study showed us that educating pet parents, getting reliable information easily to a pet's veterinarian, saving veterinary team time, is vital to treating & preventing obesity as a disease,” said Ken Lambrecht, DVM, CEO and co-founder of HPC, and medical director of FPR.
“Everything in our ecosystem is dog & cat friendly and based on established peer-reviewed veterinary medical guidelines (AAHA, AAFP, DACVN),” he added.
According to the release, subscriptions also offer discounts on validated peer-reviewed products and services related to preventive care.
Follow-up weights are obtained at a veterinary practice or via HPC connected dog scales that will be offered at select locations where large amounts of dogs gather (eg, busy daycares, resorts/boarding, and larger rescues). This provides continuous monitoring and precise dog weights that relieve the need for clinic visits for accessing an accurate scale.
A Fit Pets for Rescues contest/boot camp pilot is planned for its first nationwide audience in late 2022 or early 2023. Pet food and treat recall services and a comprehensive nutritional diary are planned for the 2nd and 3rd quarters this year.
Heartworm, Lyme, and other vector-borne diseases are expected to pose higher-than-average risk this year, the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) reports.
The group has released its 2022 Pet Parasite Forecast and corresponding 30-day Pet Parasite Forecast maps, alerting veterinarians and pet owners of impending outbreaks across the U.S.
CAPC predicts instances of heartworm, transmitted by mosquitoes, will be higher than average throughout 2022, particularly along the Atlantic coast and Mississippi River, with increased risk in the southwest (including New Mexico and southern Arizona), large portions of Colorado and Kansas, and the northern Great Plains. Further, as reported last year, forecast of increased risk continues in parts of California, Idaho, and Montana.
Additionally, the geographic prevalence of Lyme disease, transmitted by ticks, continues to expand southward and westward with “hot spots” expected in portions of Michigan and Ohio, and heightened risk persisting in parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota. A higher-than-normal risk also continues in areas of North and South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, and Kentucky, with southward movement evident in the Carolinas and Tennessee.
Other tick-borne diseases expected to pose increased risk throughout 2022 include ehrlichiosis, which CAPC forecasts will be prevalent throughout Colorado, Wyoming, and the coastal Atlantic states, and anaplasmosis, which will pose higher-than-average risk in portions of Virginia, West Virginia, and Texas.
“Over the years, we’ve seen the risk for parasitic diseases increase and expand into areas that have had historically lower prevalence,” says the group’s CEO, Christopher Carpenter, DVM. “CAPC’s 2022 Pet Parasite Forecast is critical to alerting pet owners to the risks this year and reinforcing CAPC’s recommendation that all pets need to be annually tested and protected year-round.”
Writing in the journal Viruses, the scientists identified a domestic house cat, treated at Penn Vet's Ryan Hospital, that was infected with the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 subsequent to an exposure from its owner. The full genome sequence of the virus was a close match to viral sequences circulating in people in the Philadelphia region at the time.
"SARS-CoV-2 has a really incredibly wide host range," says Elizabeth Lennon, senior author on the work, a veterinarian, and assistant professor at Penn Vet. "What this means to me is that, as SARS-CoV-2 continues to be prevalent in the human population, we need to watch what's happening in other animal species as well." The find is the first published example of the delta variant occurring in a domestic cat in the United States. Notably, the cat's infection was only identified by testing its fecal matter. A nasal swab did not result in a positive test. "This did highlight the importance of sampling at multiple body sites," says Lennon. "We wouldn't have detected this if we had just done a nasal swab." Lennon and colleagues have been sampling dogs and cats for SARS-CoV-2 since early in the pandemic. This particular pet cat, an 11-year-old female, was brought to Ryan Hospital in September with gastrointestinal symptoms. It had been exposed to an owner who had COVID-19 -- though that owner had been isolating from the cat for 11 days prior to its hospitalization, another household member doing the cat care in the interim. Working through the Penn Center for Research on Coronaviruses and Other Emerging Pathogens and Perelman School of Medicine microbiologist Frederic Bushman's laboratory, the team obtained a whole genome sequence of the cat's virus.
Sequencing revealed the delta variant, more specifically, the AY.3 lineage. The researchers did not have a sample from the infected owner. Comparing the sequence to the database kept by the Bushman laboratory, however, the cat's virus was nothing out of the ordinary in terms of the sequences of SARS-CoV-2 circulating in the Delaware Valley region at the time. "When we looked at a random sampling of human sequences from our geographic area, there wasn't anything dramatically different about our cat's sample," Lennon says. "So, our takeaway was that the cat was not infected by a virus that was somehow highly different." Not all variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been equally able to infect a wide range of hosts. For example, the original Wuhan strain could not naturally infect mice; later variants gained that ability. Scientists began seeing infections in cats and dogs from the early days of the pandemic, presumably infected through close contact with their owners. "A main takeaway here is that as different variants of SARS-CoV-2 emerge, they seem to be retaining the ability to infect a wide range of species," Lennon says.
While this particular case does not raise alarms for the virus acquiring significant numbers of mutations as it moved between species, Lennon and colleagues, including Bushman and Susan Weiss of Penn's medical school, hope to continue studying other examples to see how SARS-CoV-2 evolves. Penn Vet's Institute for Infectious and Zoonotic Disease will facilitate this look at human-animal interactions when it comes to pathogen transmission. "We know that the SARS-CoV-2 is undergoing changes as it passes between to become more and more transmissible over time," says Lennon. "We saw that with the omicron variant. It's host-adapting to people. We also want to know, when other animal species get infected, does the virus start to adapt to those species? And for those viruses that may adapt to a different species, do they still infect humans?" ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
As we prepare for National Poison Prevention Week taking place the third week of March, we are addressing common myths about toxins that may lead pet parents down the wrong path when caring for their fur babies.
Renee Schmid, DVM, DABVT, DABT, a senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline, told us about a dog that had been given too much hydrogen peroxide after ingesting motor oil. Although the compound is often used to induce emesis in dogs, there is a maximum amount that should not be exceeded, she said.
In this case, the cure was worse than the disease: “The motor oil wasn’t going to be a large issue other than potential stomach upset or aspiration if vomiting occurred, but the hydrogen peroxide amount was excessive, and [the pet was] at high risk of developing gastritis and stomach ulcerations," she explained.
"So the pet had to go . . . [for] veterinary care because of the hydrogen peroxide, as opposed to the motor oil,” she continued, adding that such accidents are common in cases of poisoning, when people panic as they rush to do what they think is best for their pet.
Myth: Poinsettias are extremely toxic to pets.
Fact: Poinsettias are only mildly toxic to pets.
Myth: When a pet ingests something it “shouldn’t have,” it must vomit it, regardless of what that something may be.
Fact: Certain items should be allowed to pass through the pet’s gastrointestinal tract.
Myth: Salt may be used as an emetic.
Fact: Salt is toxic to pets, so if given in the amount often required to make an animal vomit, it can be harmful.
Myth: All lilies are toxic to cats.
Fact: Although many plants have “lily” in their name, only true lilies (those in the genus Lilium) and daylilies (Hemerocallis) cause renal toxicity and can lead to kidney failure in cats.
Myth: Human products are safe for animals.
Fact: Human products are often unsafe for animals.
The internet plays a major role in the spread of inaccurate information about toxins because online “anything gets picked up and can just spread like wildfire,” Schmid said. “One wrong word, 1 wrong statement can really spread nationally and even internationally. It can really be difficult then to...repair that misinformation.”
The Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) working with the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has been awarded a cooperative agreement from USDA-APHIS National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP) for $176,960. According to an organizational release, the federal grant is for increasing awareness of biosecurity and helping prevent the spread of infectious diseases in horses.
The EDCC says it will utilize NADPRP funding to develop tools to “improve disease recognition and practical biosecurity while communicating the importance of biosecurity to all horse industry constituents.” One of the projects the EDCC says it will work toward is creating user-friendly biosecurity information and procedures for distribution throughout the horse community. The EDCC also plans to provide ongoing sources of continuing education for distribution by veterinarians to their clients. In addition, the organization will work to assess the industry’s current level of equine biosecurity knowledge via a survey of horse owners and veterinarians.
“Dealing with COVID-19 has highlighted the need for biosecurity procedures to reduce risk of infection; however, most horse owners are still not fully aware of the threat to their horses from both endemic and foreign animal diseases either at home or when traveling,” said Nathaniel A. White II, DVM, MS, DACVS, EDCC director.
“We need to understand the gaps in biosecurity knowledge. Armed with that information, we will create specific plans for facilities and events, enabling the industry to react to domestic and foreign disease threats,” he continued.
The EDCC says its goal is for all facets of the horse industry (owners, producers, veterinarians, and allied industry) to benefit from the continuing education information and biosecurity templates created during this project. White and Katie McDaniel, EDCC’s communication manager, will work with the AAEP’s Infectious Disease Committee to create “how-to” plans and resources that will be available on the EDCC website. These tools will help owners and veterinarians decrease disease risks during horse shows, events, race meets, breeding operations, pleasure horse activities, and travel. Infographic designs for signage, visual aids, and presentations will be made available through the EDCC, supporting member organizations and allied companies.
“This is the first NADPRP grant awarded for an equine-focused project,” said Katie Flynn, DVM, and Kentucky State Veterinarian. “This is exciting news for the equine industry as the funding will dedicate resources to advancing biosecurity within the equine community. Promoting everyday biosecurity will have significant benefit to the health and welfare of our horses as well as ensuring the economic health of the industry.”
Veterinarians often assign blame to unsuitable diets and long-term obesity as primary causes for insulin dysregulation (ID). A new study shows, however, that lack of exercise is an important risk factor for ID, and that even light exercise appears to reduce the risk of this endocrine abnormality.*
In the study, 29 Finnhorses underwent testing for ID every other month for one year using the oral sugar test. Once recruited, each horse’s diet and exercise level were kept as consistent as possible for the duration of the study.
Researchers documented season and physical activity level during the study as well as various physical measurements, including weight, cresty neck score, body condition score, heart-girth circumference, neck circumference, and circumference of the widest part of the abdomen.
While each of these measures was considered potential risk factors for ID, only exercise level was found to be a statistically significant risk factor for ID. Seven of the horses were not exercised at all during the one-year study. The remaining 22 horses were involved in mild to moderate work, typically riding and driving, for an average of 72 minutes a day.
Horses that did not exercise were over 7.5 times more likely to have ID than horses that had some physical activity.
“The study also found that ID status in the tested horses varied throughout the year. No peak month was identified, suggesting that other management factors, such as diet or exercise, may have influenced ID status more than season,” said Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research.
These results also suggest that horses with physical traits indicative of EMS (obesity, cresty neck) whose ID test results fluctuate and appear “borderline” may benefit from repeat testing. In the study, these horses were referred to as “suspicious” animals.
“These horses could be pushed over the edge into full-blown ID and EMS with small changes in management, such as a decrease in exercise due to weather or injury, or a decrease in the owner’s time to ride,” Crandell explained.
The horses in this study exercised just over an hour per day, which suggests that regularity of exercise may be more important than a certain intensity level. In humans, regular physical activity reduces the risk of insulin resistance even without weight loss. Further studies evaluating the amount and intensity of exercise that benefits horses with or at risk of ID are warranted.
“Horses with ID are often easy keepers, so they do not require concentrated calorie sources. They should be supplemented with nutrients not found in all-forage diets,” Crandell recommends. “For these horses, a well-formulated vitamin and mineral supplement is a wise choice. Feed as the manufacturer recommends.”
Wounds often leave scars, hairless patches, and other unsightly blemishes. Traumatic wounds to the legs may result in proud flesh or excessive granulation tissue that can be difficult to manage. In a recent study, stem cells derived from oral tissues positively influenced the healing of wounds.* Exploring the use of stem cell therapy for wounds in horses has important clinical implications. Nonhealing wounds or those characterized by excessive granulation tissue may delay or limit a horse’s athletic career and are expensive to treat and manage. Until now, stem cells have been used primarily in the management of musculoskeletal injuries, such as tendon lesions.
“Wound healing involves a carefully orchestrated series of events involving growth factors, blood vessel formation, and a balanced production of fibrous tissue and collagen. Stem cells, such as those derived from oral tissues such as the cheek, exert immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, reparative, and regenerative properties,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research. Further, an increasing body of evidence suggests that stem cells also secrete a variety of paracrine factors, enzymes, and immunomodulatory cytokines known as the secretome. These molecules, released into the extracellular tissues in “extracellular vesicles,” may also facilitate wound healing and decrease reliance on using the entire stem cell.
In this study, oral mucosal stem cells were harvested from a tissue biopsy obtained from the inner cheek. Stem cells were isolated and multiplied in the laboratory. A hyaluronic acid-based (HA) gel was created that contained either the stem cells themselves or stem cells with secretome. This HA gel, either alone, with the stem cells, or with just the secretome, were applied to wounds on the thorax or front limbs of eight healthy horses. The HA-gel treatments were applied the day after wound creation. Wound healing was assessed visually and microscopically for 62 days. “Wounds on the thorax healed more quickly than wounds on the lower limbs. Full healing of thoracic wounds was achieved by day 26, whereas full healing of wounds on the limbs was not noted until day 60,” Crandell said. A significant decrease in the circumference and surface area was identified for thoracic wounds treated with HA-gel containing the stem cells or secretome. Only the gel containing stem cells (not the secretome) appeared to influence wound healing on the forelimbs. “We conclude from these observations that a beneficial effect can be obtained with these regenerative medicine treatments when used at an early stage of the wound-healing process,” wrote the researchers.
They suggested that a “therapeutic window” exists. If oral mucosal stem cells or the secretome are applied in the first phase of healing, amplification of the wound healing process may occur. In fact, the wounds on the forelimbs actually increased in size until day 23 before beginning to contract. Mild proud flesh was observed on the forelimb wounds in this study. The researchers felt this was due to bandaging the wounds for 16 days. Excess bandaging is a risk factor for proud flesh formation. Treatment was not implemented, and the researchers stated that all wounds healed without complications. “Given the complex nature of wound healing, high incidence of complications, and prolonged healing periods, every step should be taken to support healthy skin,” Crandell emphasized. “Dietary omega-3 fatty acids possess anti-inflammatory properties, can attenuate systemic inflammation, and may decrease susceptibility to wound infections. High-quality omega-3 fatty acid supplements support wound healing and benefit other features of skin and coat health,” she said. EO-3 is a palatable marine-derived source of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.
Since 2003, several cities have taken measures to make elective declawing illegal, including West Hollywood, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Austin. Thanks to the efforts of animal rights groups and growing education, state-level legislation is also becoming more prevalent.
In 2019, New York became the first state to ban elective declawing, with the procedure only being permitted if it’s “for a therapeutic purpose,” meaning it must benefit the cat’s health. Those who declaw a cat for any other purpose will be faced with a hefty fine of up to $1,000. Bills on declawing are also being considered in Arizona, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Maryland.
More cities and states are joining the cause to stop declawing.
The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the health of all dogs and their owners, announces a $60,000 gift from long-time corporate partner the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).
The OFA gift will extend their support of educational grants through CHF’s Clinician-Scientist Fellowship Program. To date, OFA has supported four fellows at esteemed institutions across the U.S. Most recently supporting Dr. Rachel Brady at Colorado State University, who began her fellowship this year to study cell models for cancers that impact both people and dogs, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and osteosarcoma (bone cancer). The gift will also help fund research into genetic mutations that affect a dog’s ability to break down commonly used anesthetic and chemotherapy drugs (CHF Grant 02529: Understanding the Genetics of Adverse Drug Reactions in Sighthounds: Phase II).
The OFA has donated more than $650,000 in support of CHF’s health research and educational grants since CHF was founded in 1995. The two organizations collaborated to create the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC), a centralized database of canine health information and DNA repository. This DNA repository provides a ready resource of canine samples for genetic studies funded through CHF.
“The OFA has considered CHF a valued partner since its inception. We are particularly pleased that this year’s contribution will support both ongoing research efforts as well as the next generation of scientists through the Clinician-Scientist Fellowship Program,” says Eddie Dziuk, MS, OFA Chief Operating Officer.
“We will always be grateful for the OFA’s support,” says Dr. Darin Collins, CHF Chief Executive Officer. “Through long-term, collaborative relationships such as the one shared between the OFA and CHF, we can really make a difference in the health of all dogs.”
CHF currently manages a $12.8M portfolio of 164 active studies and educational grants. Learn more about their funded research and educational grants at akcchf.org/research.
Conservation and animal welfare groups urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today to deny permits to hunters seeking to import elephant trophies into the United States from Zimbabwe and Namibia. Under a settlement with the Dallas Safari Club, the agency must decide on eight pending permit applications by mid-March following a multi-year permitting hiatus for elephant trophy imports into the country.
“With Africa’s elephants sliding toward extinction, the Biden administration shouldn’t give U.S. hunters the green light to import their heads, tusks and other trophies,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Obama started to curtail this practice, Trump was accused by trophy hunters of suspending it, and now Biden could finally end imports of the cruel trophies taken by killing these intelligent, imperiled animals.”
Today’s letter from the Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society International, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund noted an overall 30% decline in African savanna elephant populations and recent assessment of the species as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The letter urges the Service to deny all elephant trophy import permits because of elephant population declines; management, corruption and other concerns in Zimbabwe and Namibia; and legal concerns with the trophy trade under the Endangered Species Act.
“The compound threats of poaching, ivory trafficking and habitat destruction make this a simple ‘just say no’ moment for the Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Sarah Veatch, director of wildlife policy for Humane Society International. “It is impossible to imagine a policy more dangerous to elephants than one that drives demand for their parts by allowing these imports just to indulge trophy hunters seeking to hang a head on their wall. We count on our government to be a strong champion of elephants’ protection, not an enabler of pay-to-slay tourism that is driving them toward extinction.”
Trophy hunters sued the Service in December 2019, alleging that the Trump administration was “illegally no longer processing elephant import permits applications for any country.” The Biden administration settled the lawsuit in September 2021 and agreed to deadlines for either granting or denying pending permit applications.
The first deadline—March 16, 2022—requires the Service to act on eight applications for elephant trophy imports from either Namibia or Zimbabwe. Under the Obama administration, the Service had previously found it lacked sufficient information to permit elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
Scientists in the UK and Cuba are urging members of the public to vote for the ‘world’s most beautiful snail’, in an international competition to unravel its DNA blueprint – thus unlocking the key to its beauty.
The Cuban Painted Snails, which are only found in Eastern Cuba, are known for their eye-catching coloured shells, which come in a variety of colours, and their ‘love dart’ – a device they use to stab mating partners. They live in a wide variety of habitats, from xerophytic shrub woodland to rainforests.
Cuba is home to perhaps the world’s greatest diversity of snails, but none have shells with such a range of colours and complex patterns as the Painted Snail, or Polymita picta. Sadly, this makes them appealing to collectors and poachers, who sell the shells to tourists or trade them abroad. Their habitat is also under threat, meaning the species is now critically endangered (according to the Cuban Red list for invertebrates).
Now, Angus Davison, a Professor of Evolutionary Genetics from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nottingham, is collaborating with Professor of Conservation Biology, Bernardo Reyes-Tur at the Universidad de Oriente, Santiago de Cuba, to better understand how this snail evolved, and ultimately, provide guidelines for their conservation.
The Painted Snail is one of five finalists in a global competition - Mollusc of the Year 2022 - and if it wins, it will get is whole genome sequenced, so unlocking the secrets behind its colourful shell, and answering some key questions on its genetic makeup.
The competition is run by the Loewe Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG) based in Germany.
Molluscs are invertebrate animals with soft bodies; they include snails, shells and squids, and are the second-largest group of animals.
The aim of the competition is to raise the profile of molluscs from around the world and to make sure this neglected group of animals gets the attention they deserve.
Professor Davison says: “These snails are truly beautiful and the fact they are now critically endangered is very worrying. Getting a genome assembly would enable both research and conservation – from understanding the evolutionary origin of the snails and their vibrant shell colours, to their ecology. Moreover, as these Polymita snails are under threat of extinction, genomic resources would help guide appropriate conservation, ultimately protecting this iconic species and as an umbrella to protect other species in the same habitat.”
Professor Reyes-Tur says “We study the breeding behaviour, growth and ecology of these snails. The snails are ecologically important as a source of food for native and rare species such as the critically endangered Cuban kite. And also, by eating mosses and bark fungi, they also help keep trees healthy, including in coffee plantations.
“The snails have the potential to be a tourist attraction, bringing in much needed research funds, but if we want to save Polymita, we need to know more about them. Getting an assembled genome would be an excellent opportunity to stimulate research on this unique snail. My motto is a Cuban saying: We have the ‘no’, and therefore always have to look for the ‘yes’. In other words, there is always another way, if you keep looking – and this could be that opportunity.”
To vote for the Painted Snail – visit the website - https://tbg.senckenberg.de/molluscoftheyear-2022/