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Talkin' Pets News

February 18, 2023

Host - Jon Patch

Co-Host - Jilly Sidlo - Celestial Custom Dog Services, Roan Mt. TN

Producer - Devin Leech

Network Producer - Ben Boquist

Social Media - Bob Page

When mink at a big farm in Galicia, a region in northwestern Spain, started to die in October 2022, veterinarians initially thought the culprit might be SARS-CoV-2, which has struck mink farms in several other countries. But lab tests soon revealed something scarier: a deadly avian influenza virus named H5N1. Authorities immediately placed workers on the farm under quarantine restrictions. The more than 50,000 mink at the facility were killed and their carcasses destroyed.

None of the farm workers became infected. But the episode, described in a paper in Eurosurveillance last week, has reignited long-smoldering fears that H5N1 could trigger a human pandemic. The virus is not known to spread well between mammals; people almost always catch it from infected birds, not one another. But now, H5N1 appears to have spread through a densely packed mammalian population and gained at least one mutation that favors mammal-to-mammal spread. Virologists warn that H5N1, now rampaging through birds around the world, could invade other mink farms and become still more transmissible.

“This is incredibly concerning,” says Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London. “This is a clear mechanism for an H5 pandemic to start.” Isabella Monne, a veterinary researcher at the European Union’s Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza in Italy, where the samples from Spain were sequenced, calls the finding “a warning bell.”


On Feb. 3, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game unveiled its draft of a Wolf Management Plan which outlines how they will attempt to slash the state’s wolf population by 60% by 2028.

This dangerous plan will guide wolf management across Idaho for the next six years (2023-2028). To accomplish their proposed drastic population reduction, IDFG aims to cut the wolf population by 37% each year through 2028, primarily by incentivizing and promoting wolf trophy hunting, trapping and snaring. Scientific studies demonstrate that killing wolves can actually exacerbate currently rare conflicts with livestock and significantly harm wolf families and population dynamics. Policies that promote wolf killing can also decrease social tolerance and increase wolf poaching.

Amanda Wight, program manager of wildlife protection for the Humane Society of the United States, released this statement following this news:

“Idaho seems determined to finish first in a race to the bottom by proposing a wolf plan propelled by severe misinformation, rather than science or public values. Trophy hunters and trappers are already killing entire wolf families in their dens, strangling wolves with neck snares and collecting bounties for dead pups. This new plan will significantly harm wolves and is an embarrassment to the state following years of international outrage at Idaho’s egregious wolf policies. It is more important than ever that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service restore federal protections to wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains.”

In response to petitions filed by the Humane Society of the United States and our allies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently deciding whether or not to reinstate federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains under the Endangered Species Act. The release of this alarming plan is further proof that Idaho cannot be trusted to manage wolves and that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must protect wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains before it’s too late. Members of the public can voice their support for federal protections at


China is constructing giant towers with dozens of stories to farm pigs, The New York Times reports, in a massive drive to get the country's animal supplies caught up with demand and stabilize prices in the country.

The small rural town of Ezhou in central China, for instance, constructed a behemoth 26-story pig tower with the goal of producing over a million pigs per year.

The animals' food is carried to the top floor via a conveyor belt. Feeding troughs then automatically dispense perfectly sized meals based on how mature the pigs are.

Other parts of the country are also resorting to building pig condos. For instance, a newly-constructed pig tower in the Yaji mountains was designed to breed over 1,200 pigs on each of its 12 floors, as The Guardian reported in November.

Pork is a huge deal in China. In fact, according to the NYT, the country consumes half of the world's pig meat.

Yet "China’s current pig breeding is still decades behind the most advanced nations," Zhuge Wenda, the president of Hubei Zhongxin Kaiwei Modern Animal Husbandry, the company behind the Ezhou farm, told the newspaper. "This provides us with room for improvement to catch up."

Meanwhile, trade disputes and disruptions are making it difficult for the country to keep up with its food supply and agriculture.

And as residents move to cities, they're no longer raising pigs in their backyards. The number of pig farms has plummeted 75 percent since 2007, the NYT  notes.

As a result, the country's pork industry has seen several boom-or-bust cycles over the years.

And that's where the vertical pig farms come in. With a stockpile of available pork, industry leaders are looking to stabilize the market in a very big way.


A devastating fire at New Zealand's largest egg farm has resulted in the loss of approximately 50,000 hens, causing concern over a potential exacerbation of the national egg shortage. This report follows the news of a massive fire that destroyed a //">U.S. manufacturing plant on the same day.

The fire broke out at a Zeagold farm and took several hours to be contained, according to a company spokesperson. Twelve workers on site were reported unharmed but deeply disturbed by the incident. The company initially estimated that around 75,000 hens had died but later revised the number to 50,000.

The impact of the fire could extend beyond the loss of the hens and potentially exacerbate the already existing nationwide egg shortage. New Zealand has experienced a shortage of eggs since the beginning of the year, largely due to the ban on battery farming.

This ban had been in the making since 2012 and, over time, battery hens accounted for only 10% of total egg production.

Despite the gradual decrease, the ban's implementation in January caused significant disruption to the egg supply chain, resulting in empty supermarket shelves, limited tray purchases, and disappointment for breakfast enthusiasts.

The egg shortage has become a contentious issue. A small-town supermarket was forced to ban a cruise ship crew from buying more eggs after they wiped out their stock. In response, newspapers have provided guidance on egg-free baking and alternative breakfast options like tofu scrambles.

The SPCA also issued an advisory in January, cautioning New Zealanders against impulsive purchases of backyard chickens, due to worries that inexperienced owners might not provide proper care.

Prior to the Zeagolds fire, farmers predicted that they would need to raise an additional 300,000 hens before the shortage could be resolved.

In the United States, a similar crisis is unfolding.

In the past two years, the //">price of eggs has doubled, and multiple egg farms have //">burned down in massive fires.  Since President Biden took office, //">over 100 food processing plants have experienced unexplained explosions, resulting in //">millions of livestock losses.  Concerns have also been raised about commercial chicken feed potentially //">preventing hens from laying eggs.

Are these incidents that have occurred at facilities crucial to the seamless operation of the worldwide supply chain merely coincidences, or could there be something more to the story?


Just weeks after announcing Spike as the world’s oldest dog living, Guinness World Records have received evidence of a (much) older dog. In fact, Bobi is not just the oldest dog living; he’s the oldest dog ever.

Bobi was 30 years, 266 days old as of Feb. 1. He has lived his entire life with the Costa family in the village of Conqueiros in Leiria, Portugal.

Bobi is a Rafeiro do Alentejo, which is a breed of livestock guardian dog with an average life expectancy of 12 to 14 years.

The Portuguese pooch has broken an almost century-old record; the previous oldest dog ever, Bluey (1910-1939), was an Australian cattle-dog who lived to be 29 years, 5 months.

In 1992, Bobi was registered with Serviço Medico-Veterinário do Município de Leiria (Veterinary Medical Service of the Municipality of Leiria), which confirmed the dog’s birth date.

Bobi’s age has also been verified by SIAC, a pet database authorized by the Portuguese government and managed by the SNMV (Sindicato Nacional dos Médicos Veterinários; National Union of Veterinarians).


Hundreds of fish were discovered dead in a stream running through East Palestine, Ohio, after a Norfolk Southern Railway train derailed more than a week ago.

Officials decided to conduct a controlled burn of the toxic chemicals contained within the train cars to prevent an explosion that could potentially cause more harm. The burn released an ominous plume of black smoke in the air. Five of the train cars contained vinyl chloride, a human carcinogen.

An evacuation order has since been lifted, but residents are still recognizing the devastating effects of the derailment, specifically the impacts on wildlife. Two days after the controlled burn began on February 6, Pittsburg news station KDKA reported that hundreds of fish were found "belly up" in the Leslie Run stream.

KDKA shared a clip of Ohio officials speaking at a press conference, where one official admitted that there were impacts to wildlife after the chemical spill. "The impact to the fish—yes, there was an impact to those," he said. The official went on to say that groundwater was safe to use, but environmental mitigation tools were being used to sift out any potential chemicals that made their way into the stream.

The fish aren't the only animals fatally impacted. One wildlife rescuer's fox died in his arms after the chemicals plumed into the air, and another fox broke its leg when fleeing after the train derailment caused a loud noise.

Taylor Holzer, who lives near East Palestine but keeps his foxes and other exotic animals at a property inside the evacuation zone, told Newsweek that he was unable to evacuate the animals in time. He brought four of the sickest foxes to the vet. One has since been released. Holzer said that other animals have been impacted as well, such as coyotes and wild birds.

Many residents took to social media to learn the detrimental effects of vinyl chloride burn. Norfolk Southern Railway Regional Manager Hazardous Materials Scott Deutsch defended the decision and said by burning the chemicals during the day, fumes could "disperse more quickly" according to If the rail cars had exploded, debris would be unable to be controlled and could cause more harm, according to Deutsch.

Officials monitored the air quality and eventually lifted the evacuation order. However, residents are posting on social media saying they are concerned about the lingering effects and are unsure if they should trust government officials when discussing water quality.

University of Notre Dame Associate Professor Kyle Doudrick told Newsweek that the extent of the harmful effects depends on how much vinyl chloride was released. "Vinyl chloride is mobile in water, which means if it does enter the ground or surface water that it can easily move downstream," Doudrick said, noting that vinyl chloride has a short half-life in the atmosphere, so much of the concern will be regarding short-term impacts rather than long-term. "Both the aquatic life and atmospheric impacts would depend on the amount that was spilled," he said.


In response to a lawsuit by animal protection and conservation groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finally agreed to a June 2027 deadline to determine if leopards warrant increased protection under the Endangered Species Act. Increased safeguards would ensure closer scrutiny of African leopard trophy imports and help boost funding to counter suspected population declines.

Humane Society International, the Humane Society of the United States and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition in July 2016 requesting additional protections for leopards. The groups sued in November 2021 after the Fish and Wildlife Service missed its legal deadline for responding to the petition and failed to even set a timeline for its response. As part of the settlement, USFWS agreed to the new, binding deadline.

“The leopard is being driven to extinction by so many human-induced threats already, and U.S. hunters who kill these magnificent animals only to satiate their selfish desire for macabre trophies to display in their homes or to take selfies with their kills are only exacerbating their decline,” said Sarah Veatch, wildlife policy director for Humane Society International. “It is critical that this iconic species receives the full Endangered Species Act protections they so desperately need before it is too late.”

Wild populations of African leopards are thought to be declining because of habitat loss and fragmentation, human persecution, illegal wildlife trade, ceremonial use of skins, prey decline and poorly managed trophy hunting. The United States is the world’s biggest importer of African leopard hunting trophies. Between 2014 and 2018, U.S. hunters imported trophies of 1,640 leopards, more than half of those globally traded.

The leopard is legally protected as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, but the animals are currently exempt from the ESA’s strictest limitations on trophy imports. The lax existing provisions facilitate the outsized role the United States plays in driving trophy hunting of the species.  

“The government left imperiled leopards to languish in legal limbo, but now we’re hoping for decisive action to protect these beautiful animals,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These iconic big cats are tanking. While we have the legal tools to help them, the government hasn’t acted. With an extinction crisis looming larger than life, we need proactive wildlife protection from the Biden administration to save life on Earth.”

The heightened protections sought in the petition would ensure closer scrutiny of African leopard trophy imports, making it more difficult to import them into the country.


If your dog is exposed to marijuana – by ingesting it or inhaling secondhand smoke – they may display these symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Dilated pupils or glassed over eyes
  • Loss of balance
  • Whining
  • Breathing problems
  • Agitated behaviour
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Tremors
  • Body temperature too high or low
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Signs of possible toxicity show up anywhere between five minutes to 12 hours after exposure. Depending on the amount of marijuana the dog has been exposed to, symptoms of poisoning can last from 30 minutes to multiple days.

Size plays a major role in how exposure to marijuana affects your dog, with smaller dogs being at greatest risk because of their faster metabolism.

Please keep pets away from your weed and that includes discarded weed butts.


The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is requesting public comments for changes on the standards for handling captive wild and exotic animals. The organization is requesting comments for strengthening environmental enrichment for all regulated species as well.

According to an organizational release,1 APHIS is asking for comments in these 3 areas:

  • Public handling of wild and exotic animals at licensed exhibitors
  • Training of personnel who handle wild and exotic animals at licensed facilities
  • Changes to all regulated animals’ environments to promote their psychological well-being

The public may submit comments at and all comments must be received by March 10, 2023. APHIS will carefully review and consider all comments before developing a proposed rule.

“Wild and exotic animals may endanger themselves, their handlers, and the public when they are in direct contact with people,” Betty Goldentyer, DVM, deputy administrator of APHIS’ Animal Care Program, said in the release. “With public feedback, we are working to strengthen our current standards and better protect animal welfare and public safety.”1

The changes being considered from the public would aim to ensure all animals are covered under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) with the humane handling and treatment of exhibited animals. The AWA sets basic standards for humane care and treatment for certain animal species that are used in exhibition or research.2

According to an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) article,2 there are currently 1,970 active class C licenses for exhibitors. Roughly 70 to 145 new licenses have been approved each year since 2019. Under the current federal regulations, licensees who maintain wild or exotic animals must demonstrate adequate experience with and knowledge of the species they maintain.

According to the AVMA, “In light of the concerns regarding interactions between wild or exotic animals and the public, the lack of specificity regarding the requirement to demonstrate ‘adequate experience and knowledge’ in the species being maintained, and the lack of requirements for environmental enrichment of all regulated animals, APHIS is contemplating amendments to the regulations.”2


Canine influenza has been hopscotching around the country of late. Since December, the highly transmissible respiratory disease has been confirmed in dogs in Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and possibly other states.

Keeping track of infections that crop up hither and yon can be challenging. Neither the United States nor Canada has an active surveillance system for canine flu.

To address the data vacuum, Dr. J. Scott Weese, an infectious diseases veterinarian at the University of Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College, launched in December a one-man mapping initiative.

Weese invites veterinarians to report any laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of canine influenza or case of acute respiratory disease in a dog that has had direct contact with a laboratory-confirmed case. He collates reports in an interactive map

The map "is useful for talking to clients and facilities (for example, day cares) about risk and mitigation (such as vaccination)," Weese said in an email to the VIN News Service. "It also helps us know the degree of clinic risk that can be present, since flu can be spread in vet clinics."

Canine flu is caused by influenza viruses known to infect dogs but not humans. There are two recognized strains. The first, known as H3N8, originated in horses and was first detected in the U.S. among Florida greyhounds in 2004. 

Most recent cases in the U.S. have been caused by a second strain, H3N2, which sparked a large domestic outbreak in 2015. Evolved from an avian influenza virus in southeast Asia, H3N2 has been repeatedly carried into North America, primarily from dogs rescued from the meat trade. 

After the 2015 outbreak, canine flu became sporadic. Once that happened, Dr. Steve Valeika, a veterinarian and epidemiologist in North Carolina, said he stopped routinely recommending the flu vaccine. "However, I always lamented not having real-time info about whether cases were reported close by," he said. "If it continues to be sporadic, a good mapping system can help guide vaccination recommendations."

The virus can cause signs in dogs similar to those in people, including coughing, which generally is mild. In severe cases, dogs might become feverish, short of breath and cough up blood — signs of hemorrhagic pneumonia.

Mortality rates are estimated to be around 2%, with deaths most often reported in older dogs or dogs with underlying diseases. Vaccines can help prevent severe illness but do not prevent a dog from becoming infected or shedding the virus.


The Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) has successfully released a record 12 manatees back to their natural habitat, Blue Spring State Park, in a single day. This vital warm-water manatee habitat is among the largest winter gathering sites for the species in Florida, following their successful rehabilitation.

According to an organizational release,1 most of these manatees were rescued as orphaned calves during the ongoing unusual mortality event (UME), which currently, has left thousands of animals malnourished and starving. The animals were cared by expert MRP partners—including Aquarium Encounters, Brevard Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Walt Disney World Resort, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Miami Seaquarium, Save the Manatee Club, SeaWorld Orlando and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—and spent the last several years rehabilitating at these facilities.

“Over the past several years, we have been called upon to rescue an alarmingly high number of injured, sick and starving manatees off the Florida coastline,” expressed Monica Ross, chairman of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership and director of Manatee Research and Conservation for Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, in the release. “Through the efforts of the MRP partners, I am thrilled that we were able to return the highest number of manatees to their natural environment in a single day.”1

Each manatee will wear GPS tracking devices so researchers can monitor their movement and ensure their adaptation to their natural habitat for the next year. The information collected through routine behavior monitoring is key to understanding how orphan manatees acclimate to the natural habitat and find warm water for winter survival without the skills they should have acquired from their mothers. Additionally, monitoring will be critical to the further understanding of how manatees are adjusting to the fluctuating habitat conditions they need for survival and enable animal care specialists to ensure young animals are learning migration routes. It will also help improve treatments for animals suffering from malnutrition or starvation because of the UME.


Thousands of Brits may be hit with a fine, as more than a million dogs in the UK have not been microchipped despite it being a legal requirement.

Experts from have urged pet owners to microchip their dogs and register them on a national database in order to make it easier to track down lost or stolen pups.

The microchipping law was put in place April 2016 for dogs and will soon be made mandatory for cats as well.

Owners are legally required to make sure their pooch is fitted with a microchip by the time they’re 8 weeks old, unless they have health conditions that prevent them from the procedure.

Owners are also responsible for updating their contact details and the dog’s microchip information on the database, as failing to do so could land them another fine.

As well as being microchipped, dogs are still legally required to wear a collar with the owner’s contact details when out in public.

Not only does microchipping help identify and return dogs to their owners, it also helps to decrease the growing number of strays on the streets and alleviates the strain that many animal shelters are under.

Charities and local authorities can save millions of pounds in annual savings by not having to feed and home dogs who have gone missing, when they can instead just easily scan the chip and find the owner.

Additionally, microchipping is crucial since without it pet insurance is not an option, as insurance providers can invalidate the policy if the pup goes missing without a microchip.

The microchipping process itself is quick and painless and can be done for free in Blue Cross and Battersea rescue centres, or for a small charge at a vet or local council. “It’s also important to remember to update the details for your dog’s microchip when there are changes, for example, if you get a new phone number or move.”

Under the Government’s flagship Action Plan for Animal Welfare, the microchipping law will soon be extended to cats as well.

The number of stray cats is a rising issue, as recent research reveals that 80% of cats coming into Cats Protection’s centres are not microchipped, making it very difficult to reunite them with their owners. Under the new law, the fines for cat owners who are caught not having microchipped their kittens will be the same as for dogs, however cats need to be chipped by the time they’re 20 weeks old.


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