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Talkin' Pets Radio

March 19, 2022

Host - Jon Patch

Co-Host - Jillyn Sidlo

Producer - Devin Leech

Network Producer - Ben Boquist /Kevin

Special Guest - SEASON 3 PREMIERE CRITTER FIXERS: COUNTRY VETS ON 3/26 AT 9/8c, AND HEARTLAND DOCS SEASON PREMIERE on 4/23 AT 10/9c Listen for the Critter Fixers as they join Jon and Talkin' Pets 3/19/22 at 5pm ET

No one can keep the Lab down! The American Kennel Club (AKC®) announced at a virtual press conference today at the AKC Museum of the Dog that the ever-popular Labrador Retriever is the nation’s favorite dog for the 31st consecutive year.

While the loveable Lab remains a constant at the top of the charts, the Poodle has pawed its way back into the top five, bumping the perennial favorite Bulldog out for the first time in almost a decade. The Bulldog has been a fixture among the top five most popular breeds since 2012. This is the first time the Poodle has been back in the top five since 1997.

“The versatile, family-friendly Labrador Retriever has solidified itself as America’s dog,” said AKC Executive Secretary Gina DiNardo. “With their loving, outgoing personality and eager-to-please attitude, it’s no surprise that the Lab has been able to continue its record-breaking run as the most popular breed in the U.S. As always, we encourage people to do their research to make sure they are not just getting a purebred dog, but most importantly a well-bred dog from a responsible breeder.”

Other movers and shakers in 2021 include the Flat-Coated Retriever, which jumped 10 spots year over year (#103 in 2020 and #93 in 2021). Making a comeback over the past decade are Cane Corso (#68 in 2011 and #21 in 2021), Wirehaired Pointing Griffons (#93 in 2011 and #60 in 2021), Giant Schnauzers (#96 in 2011 and #65 in 2021), Xoloitzcuintli (#156 in 2011 and #119 in 2021), Beaucerons (#145 in 2011 and #121 in 2021) and Sealyham Terriers (#164 in 2011 and #139 in 2021).

Enjoy dogs on Instagram? Here’s where some of social media’s favorites fall on the list: Pembroke Welsh Corgi (#11), Yorkshire Terrier (#13), Siberian Husky (#19) and Pug (#33).

See below for AKC’s top 10 most popular breeds in 2021, along with the 2020 comparison:

2021 Most Popular Dogs in the U.S.

2020 Most Popular Dogs in the U.S.

1. Labrador Retriever

1. Labrador Retriever

2. French Bulldog

2. French Bulldog

3. Golden Retriever

3. German Shepherd Dog

4. German Shepherd Dog

4. Golden Retriever

5. Poodle

5. Bulldog

6. Bulldog

6. Poodle

7. Beagle

7. Beagle

8. Rottweiler

8. Rottweiler

9. German Shorthaired Pointer

9. German Shorthaired Pointer



Get social with the AKC! Join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


The Romanian Red Cross and Humane Society International have launched an unprecedented agreement to get vital pet food into Ukraine to help tackle a worsening animal welfare crisis.

Hundreds of animal shelters, veterinary clinics and rescue centers, as well as thousands of families with pets who remain in Ukraine, are struggling to find food for the animals in their care and providing veterinary care for injured or sick animals is increasingly challenging as supplies are at risk of running out. In recognition of the clear desire of people in Ukraine to care for the animals caught up alongside them in the war, the Romanian Red Cross will, for the first time ever, add life-saving aid for animals to its humanitarian aid transport. Humane Society International has donated the first ton of pet food to the Romanian Red Cross, which the agency will take into Ukraine and distribute according to need. 

Raluca Morar, executive director Romanian Red Cross in Sibiu, says: “In times like these, we at the Red Cross know that our most valuable resource is kindness and compassion. Our humanitarian convoys will deliver not only supplies to people in desperate need, but also hope that help in on the way. In times like these we know that not only people, but also animals need help. We are happy and honored to have Humane Society International on our side, making sure that much needed pet food will also reach Ukraine with our convoys. The first ton of dry pet food has reached our loading point in Sibiu, and it will be delivered to Ukraine within the next days.”  

Kitty Block, CEO of Humane Society International, said: “As we respond to the crisis in Ukraine, it's clear that the plight of people is often inextricably linked with the plight of animals. Whether it's refugees fleeing with beloved dogs and cats in tow, or those staying behind to care for animals in shelters, rescue centres and veterinary hospitals, these people need help, and through our vital partnerships we are able to provide it."

You can help by making a donation to HSI’s emergency response for Ukraine and other life-saving efforts.


The Senate approved legislation Tuesday that would make daylight saving time permanent in the U.S. starting next year.

The bill, called The Sunshine Protection Act, was passed by unanimous consent, meaning no senators opposed it. If it is enacted, Americans would no longer need to change their clocks twice a year.

“We got it past the Senate, and now the clock is ticking to get the job done so we never have to switch our clocks again,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said on the Senate floor. “So I urge my colleagues in the House to act as swiftly as the Senate — let’s get this bill on President Biden’s desk and deliver more sunshine to Americans across the country.”

Daylight saving time started in the U.S. in 1918 to create more daylight hours during warmer months. It was extended by four weeks starting in 2007. States are not required to follow daylight saving time — Hawaii and most of Arizona do not observe it.

Under the legislation, states with areas exempt from daylight saving time would be permitted to choose standard time for those areas.

"It’s time for Congress to take up our bipartisan legislation to make Daylight Saving Time permanent and brighten the coldest months with an extra hour of afternoon sun," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a co-sponsor of the legislation, said in a tweet.

Whitehouse reintroduced the measure last week with Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., James Lankford, R-Okla., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Ed Markey, D-Mass.

The bill now heads to the House, where passage would send it to President Joe Biden's desk. Daylight saving time began Sunday and lasts until Nov. 6.


Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-04) called on the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass his legislation that would ban the use of M-44 lethal predator devices on federal public lands, or Canyon’s Law. The devices are used to kill species like the endangered gray wolf. This comes on the fifth anniversary of the death of Canyon Mansfield’s dog, Kasey, who experienced a cruel and painful death following the accidental detonation of a cyanide bomb on Bureau of Land Management property near their home. 

“Sodium cyanide is a deadly toxin used in M-44 devices that has resulted in countless deaths of family pets and innocent wildlife, and caused injury to humans as well,” said Rep. DeFazio. “We should not be deploying these inhumane devices in the name of so-called predator control, and certainly not on public lands where people and pets wander and play freely. Today, on the fifth anniversary of the death of Canyon Mansfield’s beloved companion, I am calling on my colleagues to cosponsor Canyon’s law and pass the bill.”

Sodium cyanide is contained within M-44 devices, which are spring-activated ejectors that deliver a deadly dose of poison when pulled on. The top of the ejector is wrapped with an absorbent material that has been coated with a substance that attracts canines. When the device is activated, a spring ejects the poison. The force of the ejector can spray the cyanide granules up to five feet.

Canyon’s Law would ban the use of M-44 sodium cyanide devices for predator control efforts on public lands. The bill is supported by Predator Defense, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Center for Biological Diversity, Animal Welfare Institute, and the Western Watersheds Project.


A Florida man arrested after kicking a puppy in the face at a beach on Monday told police that he was upset with the pup for eating food that didn’t belong to it, authorities said.

Multiple witnesses at Clearwater Beach also saw 20-year-old Noah Counts drag the 3-month-old puppy by its leash and throw the small dog over a wall, Clearwater police said.

When officers confronted Counts, police said they found a charcoal grill, which is illegal at the beach, and two open containers of alcohol, which violates a city ordinance.

Police said that having a dog at the beach also violated a city ordinance.

Counts was taken into custody and booked into the Pinellas County Jail on a charge of cruelty to animals, police said.


Tiger cubs rescued from a Ukraine animal sanctuary are safe and resting at a Polish zoo after a grueling journey across the border, footage shows.

The six tiger cubs were evacuated from the Save Wild Animal Sanctuary, near Ukraine's capital city Kyiv, to Zoo Poznań, which is based in western Poland.

The sanctuary started evacuating animals following reports of heavy artillery fighting in the area as Russia intensified its attack on the country. The tigers were evacuated to Poznań with other wild animals from the sanctuary including six lions, two caracals, and an African wild dog.

A video posted by the zoo on Facebook, shows the young tigers exploring their new enclosure. Some of them huddle under a shelter while others look around and nuzzle each other.

The tiger cubs were transported to the zoo over two days and arrived safely after a grueling journey.

As the truck set off from Ukraine towards the Polish zoo, Zoo Poznań said it had almost lost hope after finding out the truck had been surrounded by Russian tanks. However, it eventually managed to make its way past the checkpoint.

Chodyła previously told Reuters that the truck had to turn back many times in order to avoid blown up roads full of holes that were "impossible to pass."

Now, the zoo said the tigers are resting after their "travel difficulties." They have recently undergone veterinary tests and will remain in isolation for a few days. A few of them will eventually be transferred to other facilities in Western Europe, and some will stay in Poznań.

A press spokesperson at the zoo, Małgorzata Chodyła, told Newsweek that the zoo is busy working on more emergency shipments.

"We are trying to pick up another transport in the coming days," Chodyła said. The rescued tigers are mostly young cubs Zoo Poznań

A Facebook post from the zoo showed pictures of zoo staff packing a van full of supplies that will head to "wild animals in need" in Kyiv. The post read: "They packed [the van] quite literally until it was bursting at the seams, with food... they set off on a very dangerous return trip." Animal welfare organizations for both domestic and wild animals have been working to rescue animals in the country ever since the war broke out.

On March 5, the White Rock Shelter near Kyiv asked for emergency assistance to evacuate its resident bears after the area became increasingly dangerous. The bears were immediately taken to another bear sanctuary in Domazhyr, a village in Western Ukraine that appears calmer than other cities in the country.


The Cuban Painted Snail has won an international competition – and will now have its DNA blueprint unravelled and the key to its beauty unlocked, potentially helping to protect this iconic species from extinction. Scientists in the UK and Cuba have been campaigning for the eye-catching snail to be crowned winner of the Mollusc of the Year 2022 – an international public vote led by the Senckenberg Nature Research Society, the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG) and the Worldwide Society for Mollusc Research.

There were five finalists in the competition  - three snails, one mussel and a tusk shell or scaphopod. The Painted Snail won with a staggering 10,092 votes, taking 62% of the total votes overall. As a reward for winning, its entire genome will now be sequenced at the LOEWE Centre TBG in Germany. 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).

Professor Angus Davison, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nottingham, joined forces with Professor Bernardo Reyes-Tur at the Universidad de Oriente, Santiago de Cuba, to campaign on behalf of the Painted Snail. The duo hope to better understand how this snail evolved, and ultimately, promote their conservation.

The pair will now be able to get the snail’s entire genome sequenced, which will enable both research and conservation – from understanding the evolutionary origin of the snails and their vibrant shell colours, to their ecology. As these Polymita snails are under threat of extinction, genomic resources will also help guide appropriate conservation measures, ultimately protecting this iconic species and as an umbrella to protect other species in the same habitat.

Professor Davison said : “Thanks to everyone who voted. I am so delighted that this most beautiful snail has been crowned “Mollusc of the Year 2022”. Snails don’t always get the attention that they deserve, even though they are important ecologically and as molluscs are part of one of the most diverse groups of animals on earth. The prize – an assembled whole genome sequence – will enable us to begin research on understanding the snail’s biology.

“Unfortunately, Cuban Painted Snails are at risk because of habitat loss, and illegal trade to shell collectors and tourists. The prestige of the win will draw attention and give further impetus to conservation efforts.” Professor Reyes-Tur says: “When I found out that Polymita had won with over 10,000 votes, I felt so grateful to the people who helped us win, both in Cuba and overseas. Our research team is not only happy, but so grateful to each person who voted. “We hope that the genome sequencing of the Cuban Painted Snail will benefit the conservation of these amazing snails and the other nearly 1400 Cuban land snail species.

“The genome sequencing could help resolve some intriguing questions. For example, how many species of Polymita are there, and are there really five subspecies of Polymita picta? Getting this basic taxonomy is crucial for conservation. Why is the shell so variable in this species and a similarly colourful European snail, Cepaea nemoralis? What are the genes involved in making the colour? Why do both species stab ‘love darts’ when they mate? The genome sequence will be a golden opportunity to answer some of these questions, promote conservation, and collaborate with research teams around the world.”

"We are pleased that the Cuban painted snail was selected. Its genome will be able to provide us with important information about the genetic basis of the colour variations of its shell," jury member Dr Carola Greve, laboratory manager at the LOEWE Centre TBG, said.  "In the case of molluscs, there are so far only a few species whose genome has been completely sequenced – and this despite the fact that they form the second largest animal phylum after arthropods," adds Dr Greve. ++++++++++++++++

 Veterinarians and scientists from BSM Partners, the largest pet care research and consulting firm, and the University of Missouri, published an analysis of a retrospective survey that evaluated the annual incidence of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) diagnosed by veterinary cardiologists across the United States, along with previously unknown information regarding the growth of grain-free pet food store sales.

The peer-reviewed article, which appears in Frontiers in Animal Science, includes data that did not indicate a significant increase nationally in DCM incidence over time, from 2000 to 2019, while grain-free pet food store sales grew 500% between 2011 and 2019. Researchers also found no significant correlation between the national DCM incidence rate in relation to the grain-free pet food sales.

Researchers received information on more than 68,000 total canine cardiology cases from veterinary cardiology referral hospitals, diagnosed between 2000 and 2019. The average incidence rate of DCM, amongst these referral cases seen in participating hospitals during the survey period, was 3.9% (range 2.53-5.65%). They also analyzed data regarding grain-free pet food store sales provided by the Nielsen Company, which showed a 500% increase in sales from 2011 to 2019.

"Based on the data we received from veterinary cardiologists across the United States, we did not observe a significant increase in DCM incidence rate over time, which included the recent period when grain-free pet food sales grew exponentially," said Dr. Stephanie Clark, PhD, CVT, PAS, CFS, Dpl. ACAS of BSM Partners, an article co-author and a board-certified companion animal nutritionist. "The existing scientific literature indicates that nutritional factors can lead to the development of DCM, but we did not find a correlation in the DCM incidence rate to grain-free pet food sales."  

Dr. Stacey Leach DVM, DACVIM, an article co-author, and Chief of Cardiology and Associate Teaching Professor of Cardiology at the University of Missouri's Veterinary Health Center, noted, "This work is unique because we only examined cases of canine DCM diagnosed by veterinary cardiologists and is a significant addition to our understanding of DCM."

BSM Partners is the largest full-service pet care research, consulting, and strategy-to-shelf product innovation firm. BSM Partners' research professionals collaborate with hundreds of clients ranging from the largest companies to the smallest upstart companies to formulate, review and advise on the development of hundreds of new products each year, including grain-free and grain-inclusive dog foods, treats, and supplements.


A pet dog in Hong Kong was first. Soon, tigers and lions at a zoo in New York City were involved. More recently, hippos in Antwerp and hamsters in Hong Kong made the news.

Today, two years since Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, the list of nonhuman species that have tested positive for the notorious coronavirus is 19 long.

A tally by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) shows a menagerie of animals throughout the world — in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas — contracted documented SARS-CoV-2 infections.

The good news for these species is that the novel coronavirus has, on the whole, caused only mild to moderate illness and few deaths.

"It definitely primarily impacts people most severely, versus anything else," said Dr. Andrew Hennenfent, a public health veterinarian in Iowa and a consultant at the Veterinary Information Network, an online community for the profession.

"From a disease standpoint, it's been pretty benign for the animal world," said Dr. J. Scott Weese, a University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College expert in emerging infectious diseases and also a VIN consultant.

Ever cautious, Weese added pointedly: "So far. We never know if that might change with new variants."

Early on, anything seemed possible with the brand-new virus, which the latest studies continue to suggest jumped to people from wildlife at a market in Wuhan, China. (What type of animal remains unknown.)

In brief

* Infections of SARS-CoV-2 have been documented in 19 nonhuman animal species: binturong, cat, coatimundi, cougar, dog, ferret, fishing cat, gorilla, hamster, hippopotamus, lion, lynx, mink, otter, puma, snow leopard, spotted hyena, tiger and white-tailed deer.

* In almost all cases, indications are that the animals caught the virus from people.

* Mink and hamsters have been found in limited instances to have transmitted the virus to people.

* Humans are by far the most susceptible animal to the novel coronavirus.

"For something that started as a spillover from animals, it's not surprising that it would infect a variety of species," Hennenfent said.

Scientists girded themselves from the outset. According to a review of the literature on SARS-CoV-2 infections in animals, published in October 2020 in the journal Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, experimental studies had demonstrated infection and transmission in cats, ferrets, hamsters, bats and nonhuman primates.

In time, individuals of all those species — except bats, as far as we know — became infected naturally. There's "no doubt," Weese said, that more species are likely susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection than the 19 on the OIE list. It's a matter of which ones happen to be in proximity to people and, therefore, tested.

That said, visit for a roundup of the 19:


Dog. A Pomeranian in Hong Kong was the first nonhuman animal in the world to have a documented natural infection, in late February 2020. More cases in dogs followed elsewhere in the world. While a few died, including the Pomeranian, which was 17, Covid wasn't necessarily the cause, and most cases apparently were mild.

Of note, a veterinary cardiology team in the United Kingdom noticed a correlation between myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, and Covid infection in some patients. The findings were published in the journal Vet Record in November. Since then, the team has seen a few more cases but doesn't plan to make another published report, the lead author, Dr. Luca Ferasin, said. "I think Covid-related myocarditis is still a concern but hopefully not for long," he told the VIN News Service last week by email. "We will see how the removal of all restrictions in U.K. will change the pandemic curve."

Cat. Cats were the first pets in the United States to have confirmed infections, manifesting as mild respiratory illness. Cats with Covid may also lose their appetite, become lethargic, vomit and have diarrhea. The virus isn't necessarily highly contagious among felines: There have been instances in which only one cat in a multi-cat household tested positive. At the same time, false negative results can occur. A study published last month in the journal Viruses found evidence of infection in the feces of a cat whose nasal swab was negative.

Tiger, lion, puma, cougar, lynx, snow leopard. In zoos, big cats have been the hardest hit. That members of the Felidae family would be vulnerable was anticipated: An article in the journal Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health in July 2020 describes how a cell receptor called ACE2, which the coronavirus's spike protein attaches to, is similar in cats, ferrets and people, but not in dogs, pigs, chickens and ducks. (In the realm of food animals, cattle, too, were found in other studies to be unlikely to catch Covid.)

More data coming on Covid in pets

By Lisa Wogan

The picture of Covid-19 in cats and dogs is coming into sharper focus as researchers wrap up regional studies on SARS-CoV-2 transmission from humans to their pets.

"The takeaway is that these household animal infections are not uncommon," said Dr. Sarah Hamer, speaking about her research at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. "But the good thing for veterinary medicine is that they don't seem to be having much of an adverse impact on the pets' health."

That conclusion is reflected in Texas A&M's research and echoed in studies from the Ontario Veterinary College and University of Guelph in Canada, as well as a collaborative effort between the University of Washington Center for One Health Research and the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Washington State University.

Testing animals in households where at least one person was positive for Covid, the teams found a substantial number of pets tested positive for the virus, antibodies or both. They also found pets were unlikely to get very sick, and their infections cleared within days.

The studies further aligned on the finding that reducing close contact between infected people and their animal companions could reduce risk of transmission.

University of Guelph researchers also tested animals in shelters and low-cost spay/neuter clinics, and found much lower infection rates than in cases where exposure was known.

In a surveillance study that began in late March 2020, researchers at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine have tested for virus or antibodies in more than 4,000 animals from 68 different species, but mostly dogs and cats, in the Northeast. In the majority of cases, the Covid status of the humans in the household was not known.

"The bottom line is that we see serological evidence of spillover to dogs and cats pretty consistently at 3% to 5%," Dr. Jonathan Runstadler, who heads the research, said by email. Spillover in this case refers to the transmission of the coronavirus from humans to animals on a broad population basis.

Some studies are published, and more are coming:

 * Texas A&M published preliminary reports last spring on 76 pets and the first cases of the B.1.1.7 (alpha) variant identified in a cat and dog. A report on the full 580-animal study is pending.
* The Washington state team posted in February a preprint of its study involving 176 dogs and cats.
 * Guelph researchers last week submitted their study on 107 household pets and 150 stray animals for publication.
 * The Tufts team is working on a manuscript that summarizes the entirety of their data.

Hamer and her team in Texas continue to track antibodies in a subset of phase 1 animals to determine how long immunity lasts. They recently started a phase 2 study that includes testing and tracking both humans and pets in households where a human has tested positive. 

In late March 2020, a 200-pound Malayan tiger named Nadia at the Bronx Zoo developed a cough and lost her appetite. Following testing, she became known as the first documented nonhuman Covid patient in the U.S. All told, that outbreak encompassed five tigers and three lions. (One tiger had no outward signs of illness.)

As the pandemic raged forward, lions and tigers at other zoos in the U.S. and worldwide also became infected, as did an assortment of other big cats.

Scientists in South Africa reported an infection in a puma that occurred in July 2020 at a private zoo in Johannesburg, where three African lions also were sickened, one with pneumonia. While the animals tested positive for up to seven weeks, they ultimately "cleared the infection completely," the scientists said.

The first cougar in the U.S. to test positive was reported in early 2021 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The cougar was among several animals that were coughing and wheezing at a wild animal exhibit in Texas.

In December, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium recorded the first case in the U.S. of a Canada lynx catching Covid.

Some cases have been fatal, at least one as recently as this year. In January, an 11-year-old snow leopard named Rilu died from Covid-induced pneumonia at Miller Park Zoo in Illinois. Two months earlier, three snow leopards died from the virus at Lincoln Children's Zoo in Nebraska.

Mink. Raised by the millions on farms for their fur, mink have been the nonhuman animal most devastated by SARS-CoV-2. Once it became apparent that they could become ill from the virus, sometimes fatally, and — most significantly — transmit the bug back to people, their fate was grim. By mid-November 2020, outbreaks on mink fur farms had been reported in the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Sweden, Italy and the U.S., according to the World Health Organization. The response was to kill farmed mink en masse.

Ferret. Following a case in Slovenia, the first recorded occurrence of Covid in a ferret in the U.S. occurred in Florida last September. The pet was tested because it was sneezing and coughing, according to the USDA.

Scientists had previously studied ferrets as an animal model for the disease. However, subsequent research documenting a case of 29 ferrets living closely with two people who had symptomatic disease found low risk of natural infection in the pets — none got sick. The research was part of a pet surveillance study at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

Binturong, coatimundi, fishing cat. An outbreak at Brookfield Zoo near Chicago last fall added three exotic species to the list of Covid-positives. One was a binturong, a mammal with a bearlike face and catlike body sometimes called a bearcat. A member of the viverrid family, the binturong is also known as civet cat. The second unusual animal was a coatimundi, or coati, a relative of raccoons. The third was a fishing cat, a type of cat that, in the wild, is found in wetlands.

Also affected in that outbreak were a tiger, a lion and two snow leopards.

Gorilla. One of the fears for the animal world when the pandemic began was that fellow primates would be at risk, especially animals like the endangered mountain gorilla. But it's been so far, so good on that front. In fact, the University of California, Davis, reported last month that wild mountain gorillas in Rwanda not only have not tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, they've had fewer outbreaks of any respiratory illness. The probable reason: Ecotourism was suspended early on, and other precautions were adopted to reduce gorillas' exposure to people.

Gorillas in zoos are another matter. Three at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in California had the distinction of being the first of their kind in the U.S. to be confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2, in January 2021. Others followed, for example at Zoo Atlanta and the Kansas City Zoo.

After the outbreak in San Diego, a variety of primates at that zoo received vaccinations against Covid. Zoetis, which developed a vaccine for animals, subsequently donated 11,000 doses to about 70 zoos and wildlife sanctuaries around the country, CNN reported.

Otter. The Georgia Aquarium reported last spring that its "geriatric" Asian small-clawed otters were sneezing, coughing, mildly lethargic and had tested positive. In the summer, a pair of otters in a zoo in Orange County, Florida, also caught the virus.

Spotted hyena. Two spotted hyenas at the Denver Zoo last fall became the first in the world among their species to develop documented cases of Covid.

White-tailed deer. One of the more attention-getting and potentially concerning finds last year was that wild white-tailed deer in parts of the United States were found through antibody testing to have been infected at high rates (although they did not appear to be sick). A few months later, evidence of the virus was found in deer in Canada, too.

A study, not yet peer-reviewed, from Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences demonstrated that captive white-tailed deer can catch Covid and transmit it to other deer.

That the virus should show up in the wild in a species as abundant as deer raises worries that the animals could serve as a reservoir for SARS-CoV-2, enabling the virus to readily spill back into the human population.

That would be a bigger worry if deer were found to have a new variant. So far, that's not the case, Hennenfent said: "To date, the strains match exactly what's in people, so it doesn't appear that it's taking on a life of its own."

Hippopotamus. Runny noses were the clue that led the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium to test a pair of hippos for Covid late last fall. According to a BBC report, "The hippos' noses are usually wet, but vets at Antwerp Zoo decided to test the pair after they noticed they were 'expelling snot.' "

Hamster. Authorities in Hong Kong ordered pet hamsters by the thousands to be turned in for culling early this year after an outbreak in people was traced to a pet store. Public health officials tested more than 100 animals at the pet store and another 500 at a warehouse that supplied the store, according to a news story in the journal Nature. They found viral RNA or antibodies to the virus in 15 of 28 Syrian hamsters. Dwarf hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and mice were negative.

Research on the incident, posted as a preprint that is not yet peer-reviewed, points to infections in two people coming from the infected hamsters. One of the people went on to infect others in their household.

That makes the hamster the second known animal, after mink, to transmit the virus to humans.

Perspective and outlook

Asked if any of the outcomes have come as a surprise, Weese said: "Pre-pandemic, I wouldn't have had zoo animals so high on my list, but it makes sense in hindsight. Hamsters as a source of human infection was a bit surprising. In terms of overall susceptibility, a good surprise has been the low susceptibility of food animals. Deer have probably been the biggest surprise. They weren't on my radar at all at the start."

The pandemic isn't over, of course, so what's true today may be different tomorrow. As humans venture back out into the world, the opportunities for more contact between people and other animals will increase, including through previously restricted activities such as ecotourism, Weese pointed out. "Human-animal contacts have inherent risk, and the more we have, the greater the risk," he said.

Big picture, Covid illustrates a consequence of humanity's heavy footprint on Earth. "The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 speaks to how humans are changing our biodiversity," observed Dr. Radford Davis, an associate professor of public health at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and a VIN consultant in zoonosis and public health.

"Deforestation for growing crops and grazing livestock, along with human encroachment into these previously intact ecosystems, bring exposure to new pathogens," Davis said.

SARS-CoV-2 is just one.


The Romanian Red Cross and Humane Society International have launched an agreement to provide essential pet food into Ukraine to help combat a worsening animal welfare crisis. "In times like these, we at the Red Cross know that our most valuable resource is kindness and compassion. Our humanitarian convoys will deliver not only supplies to people in desperate need, but also hope that help in on the way. In times like these we know that not only people, but also animals need help,” said Raluca Morar, executive director Romanian Red Cross in Sibiu, in an organizational release.1 “We are happy and honored to have Humane Society International on our side, making sure that much needed pet food will also reach Ukraine with our convoys. The first ton of dry pet food has reached our loading point in Sibiu, and it will be delivered to Ukraine within the next days,” she added.

According to the release, it has been challenging for hundreds of animal shelters, veterinary practices, rescue centers, and the thousands of families with pets still in Ukraine to find food for the animals in their care and provide veterinary care for injured or sick animals as supplies are continuously depleting.1 Therefore, for the first-time ever the Romanian Red Cross is adding life-saving aid for animals to its humanitarian aid transport. Humane Society International has donated the first ton of pet food to the Romanian Red Cross, which they will bring into Ukraine and distribute according to need.

“There are large numbers of pet dogs and cats roaming the streets who have become separated from their families; they are bewildered, traumatised and in need of help. The tragedy of war doesn't differentiate between two legs or four, and together with the Red Cross we will get aid to those people in Ukraine desperately asking for help to keep their animal friends alive in this crisis,” said Andreea Roseti, Humane Society International/Europe's Romania director, in the release.1

Additionally, Humane Society International is collaborating with other local animal welfare groups in Germany, Italy, and Poland to help Ukrainian refugees with companion animals fleeing the crisis. With a donation from Mars, Incorporated, the refugees will be supplied pet food, blankets, and veterinary care at refugee reception points. According to the release, those accessing these resources display their relief of being able to save pets who offer comfort amid these horribly stressful circumstances, especially for traumatized children.1

Particularly in Germany, Humane Society International is partnering with animal welfare group—Berliner Tiertafel—to offer pet food and veterinary treatment. Across Berlin more than 30 veterinarians are already supporting the efforts so animals receive essential veterinary treatments in addition to required vaccinations and microchips.

"We have heard from refugees we're helping in Berlin that the loyal companionship of their pets has kept them and their families going on the arduous journey to safety. For children especially, their pets are an enormous source of comfort to help them cope with the trauma of war,” remarked Sylvie Kremerskothen Gleason, HIS’s Germany director. “These refugees are frightened and exhausted, so being able to help them care for their pets means they have one less thing to worry about at a time when they need help the most,” she continued, in the release.1


Federal legislation designed to boost the U.S. economy by pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into the domestic development of technologies to counter China's dominance in areas such as semiconductor manufacturing has touched off concerns in the veterinary community.

The reason? Buried in the 3,610-page America Competes Act of 2022, passed last month by the House of Representatives, are new restrictions on the importation of non-native but common animal species and a ban their transport across state lines. 

The restrictions, contained in amendments to a federal conservation law known as the Lacey Act, are intended to control damage caused by invasive species. But veterinarians and pet owners say the legislation as written would make it more difficult to access veterinary care for exotic pets and possibly inadvertently worsen problems of non-native species in the environment. 

Dr. José Arce, president of American Veterinary Medical Association, said in a written statement provided to the VIN News Service: "Although well-intentioned, the AVMA opposes the Lacey Act language that was quietly included in the America Competes Act [that was] recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. … We have serious concerns about the legislation as it may impact access to care for wildlife and exotic animals, as well as create regulatory barriers to care through additional permitting of research institutions."

The legislation is in the process of being reconciled by a conference committee with the 1,200-page U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, passed by the Senate in June. There are hundreds of differences between the two compendiums of trade and industrial policy; among them are changes to the Lacey Act, which are not in the Senate bill.

For more on this story and the Lacey Act visit


Unpacking the Lacey Act

In brief

* Pending federal legislation puts new restrictions on the importation of non-native but common animals and bans their transport across state lines.

* The proposed changes are intended to limit the impact of invasive non-native species on the environment.

* But a consequence of the legislation, which would amend existing conservation law, could be that owners of exotic animals might have a harder time accessing care, veterinarians say.

Enacted in 1900 and since amended, the federal conservation law prohibits trade in wildlife, fish and plants via state-by-state blacklists that are enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Interior.

The blacklists deem more than 200 species of mammals, birds, fish, mollusks, crustaceans and reptiles as "injurious," meaning they could harm the health of humans, agriculture, horticulture or forestry and the welfare and survival of wildlife indigenous to the United States. Blacklisted species are prohibited in the U.S.

Any species not listed is allowed to be imported, sometimes with permit or health certificate requirements. The list is ever-changing. By way of example, an amendment to the Lacey Act in 2012 banned the importation and interstate transport of three species of python and the green anaconda due to their impact on the Florida Everglades.

The effects of invasive species illustrate the need for more restrictions, according to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, sponsor of a separate bill to tighten the Lacey Act that was introduced to the Senate in March. "Sadly we have seen first-hand how ecologically devastating invasive species can be," he stated in a press release. "Invasive species threaten to decimate Florida's native plants and animals, and we must do what we can to prevent the introduction of new, injurious species." 

Photo by Dr. Andy Anderson

Dr. Andy Anderson, holding a veiled chameleon, is concerned that proposed language in the America Competes Act prohibiting exotic animals from being transported across state lines would make veterinary care for such animals difficult to obtain.

That requires limiting the importation of species before they're tested for invasiveness, and restricting their interstate commerce, he said. Both conditions are components of the America Competes Act's version of Lacey Act changes, which were added as a rider to the bill just before the House passed it on Feb. 4.

The lawmaker who inserted the conservation law amendment into the America Competes Act has not been publicly identified. There is no attribution on any of the bill's 3,000-plus pages. Rubio, a senator, was not involved in crafting the House legislation.  

Impact of proposed changes

Language in the America Competes Act calls for replacing the Lacey Act's blacklist system with a yet-to-be-made whitelist of animal species that would be legal to import to the United States. Rather than excluding only those with a track record of being a problem, such a system would place the onus on importers to prove that their species aren't invasive or otherwise harmful.

In other words, all birds, reptiles, aquatics, invertebrates, arachnids and other types of exotic animals kept as pets could no longer be imported into the U.S. or be transported across state lines unless such species are cleared via an administrative rulemaking process that deems them to be of low risk to the environment.

"That means they can label any animal as injurious, and ban it within 24 hours, and there's no [appeals process]" is how Dr. Andy Anderson, a practitioner in New Jersey and owner of exotic animals, sees it.

If the Lacey Act changes make it through the conference committee and are enacted, Anderson fears repercussions to his practice, where some of his clients are owners of exotic pets in the neighboring states of New York and Pennsylvania. Because the proposed law restricts transport across state lines, he said, those clients would no longer be able to seek care at his practice.

"I think there should be a blanket veterinary exclusion," Anderson said. "I think anybody who owns, within reason, avian species, reptiles [and the like] ... should be allowed to take them to the vet."

He added that he suspects lawmakers don't "realize that people take these animals to the vet."

Anderson, who's kept boa snakes and tarantulas most of his life, envisions a variety of possible outcomes if the legislation passes as written. "If people can't get their animals to a veterinarian, I think they'll just start dumping them and making the problem worse," he speculated.

Another possibility is that people ignore the ban, which would effectively prohibit exotic-animal keepers like him from moving with their pets to another state. "Are they really going to stop people from moving state-to-state? Probably not," Anderson mused. "People aren't going to stop keeping stuff, even if they can't do it legally. A lot will just go underground, and we'll see more poaching and brown-boxing of animals," he said, referring to unlabeled direct shipments.

Should the Lacey Act stipulations survive conference committee negotiations, both the House and Senate will have to vote on the compromise deal in order for the initiative to pass. The process is expected to take weeks, setting up the final bill for passage this spring.


Rife with nutrients, high-quality pasture provides horses with many essential minerals, especially when grown in rich soil. Nutrient deficiencies in soil, however, can lead to pasture grasses with mineral shortages. A classic example involves low-selenium soils giving rise to low-selenium forages. Deficiencies can then carry over into body tissues. Researchers evaluated the calcium, copper, and zinc concentrations in soil and pasture and then compared them to concentrations found in the hoof capsules of foals.* Sampling of soil, pasture, and hoof capsules occurred in two periods. The first happened in summer and fall when all foals, between one and six months of age, were still nursing their dams; the second occurred after weaning when foals were nine to 12 months old. Forty-one foals were used in the preweaning period, 28 in the postweaning period. All foals used in the study were Criollo, a South American breed revered for its tractability, soundness, and stamina under saddle. Mature height tends to be between 14 and 15 hands, and most are considered easy keepers. Foals were born and raised on five farms in Brazil. Mares and foals grazed native pastures consisting primarily of bahiagrass, kaimi clover, blanket grass, dallisgrass, and bermudagrass, though hundreds of other pasture species were likely part of the grazing landscape. They received no concentrate or mineral supplementation. Prior to sampling, hooves were scoured with a mineral free-detergent and dried with anhydrous ethanol. Using a hoof rasp, 2-g samples were collected from the front of the hoof wall, about 1 cm below the coronary band. At the same time as hoof sampling, researchers collected pasture samples. Seventeen 1-kg samples were collected every season from the pastures grazed by mares and foals. Soil samples were also collected from each of the five farms.

In the end, researchers observed that the “levels of calcium, copper, and zinc in the hoof capsule during the preweaning and postweaning stages are influenced by the season and different physiographic regions.” More specifically, researchers found no association between calcium concentration in the hoof walls and in pasture from different regions. Contrarily, the copper concentration of the hoof and pasture in preweaning and postweaning, as well as zinc in preweaning, were positively associated. In regard to season, calcium and zinc were higher in both hoof and pasture samples in summer and spring, respectively, yet in autumn the concentration of copper increased. The lowest concentration of these minerals in hoof samples were observed in winter. “While this study investigated the mineral concentration of hoof samples collected from pasture-raised foals south of Earth’s equator, hoof health is a concern for horse owners the world over, no matter the breed, age, or use,” said Catherine Whitehouse, M.S., a nutritionist at Kentucky Equine Research. “This research emphasizes the importance of a properly balanced diet in the formation of resilient hoof tissue even at a young age.” A well-balanced diet often confers all of the nutrients needed for healthy, strong hooves. Whitehouse knows well, nevertheless, that some horses benefit from supernutritional hoof support. “Walk in any boarding or training barn that places high importance on nutrition, and you’ll likely find hoof supplements. But, as a caveat, selecting the right supplement is imperative.” The “right supplement,” according to Whitehouse, is one that contains not only biotin, the nutrient most notably aligned with revamping weak hooves, but also other important nutrients: the amino acid methionine, organic zinc, and iodine. Look for high-quality hoof supplements that are manufactured by reputable companies, especially those with an active research program.“Even high-quality supplements are not a panacea for all horses,” Whitehouse explained. “While the hooves of many horses respond to supplementation, others don’t, but it’s the only avenue of investigation after other potential causes of poor hoof health are ruled out, namely mistakes in farriery and ration formulation.” +++++++++++++++++++++++++

A child had to be airlifted to hospital after been attacked by a kangaroo on a property in north-west New South Wales.

The three-year-old girl suffered serious lacerations to her head, back and arm yesterday around 5.30pm.

A kangaroo was seen on the back porch where the child was before she was injured.

NSW paramedics treated the girl on scene.

"The young patient had suffered a number of deep lacerations, including a wound to the side of her head as a result of this attack," inspector Brian Lakin said.

"There is no doubt this would have been a terrifying ordeal for the little girl, who appeared to be in shock when paramedics arrived."

"This is a reminder to everyone about how unpredictable wild animals can be."

Ambulance inspectors stabilised the toddler before calling for The Westpac Rescue Helicopter around 6pm.

The girl and her mother were airlifted to John Hunter Hospital in a stable condition for further treatment.

The attack comes after a Victorian teen was seriously injured when a kangaroo jumped onto her dirt bike.

Jemima Song, 14, and her sister Isabel were riding on a farm in western Victoria when the animal sprung from the trees and into her front wheel, throwing Ms Song off her bike.

Jemima Song spent ten days in hospital.

with ruptured organs and a fractured spine.

Doctors expect she will make a full recovery by the end of April.


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