Consumers are ready to spend more on their pets, a survey suggests.
They plan to increase their outlay on food, treats, supplements and hygiene products as well as birthday and holiday gifts, according to Vericast’s annual 2023 Retail TrendWatch. The research included more than 700 pet owners.
“Amid cautious spending behaviors, there is still a strong appetite to spend on pets,” said Taylor Coogan, pet industry expert and client strategist at Vericast. “However, external factors such as the end of the student loan repayment pause, a shifting job market and other factors may influence how a consumer thinks about pet spending later this year. With the holiday season approaching, now is an opportune time for brands to evaluate how they will communicate the value they provide to pet owners.”
About 78% of survey respondents are willing to spend more on pet food and treats in 2023 than in 2022, indicating an interest in higher-quality products, according to a press release.
Over a third of consumers (38%) are willing to spend more on health products like vitamins and supplements this year, and 38% of respondents also said they will spend more on pet hygiene products.
More from the release:
Vericast research also shows the way consumers perceive their pets impacts behavior.
Fur-ever family. Consumers overwhelmingly feel that pets are family.
Over three-quarters (76%) of pet owners view their pet as their child. Millennials felt most this way at 82%, followed by Gen X (75%), Gen Z (70%) and baby boomers (67%).
About 80% of pet owners commemorate pet birthdays and holidays with a special gift or treat.
41% of respondents refer to their pet as a support/service animal to gain special privileges of some kind.
Over 62% of respondents consider quality time with pets equally (47%) as important as time with a partner or even more important (15%) as time with a partner.
Almost one third (32%) of pet owners indicate they have a dedicated social media account of some kind for their pet.
Keep it purr-fessional. Hybrid and remote work impact spending.
About 62% of pet owners surveyed say that they’re spending more to keep their pets busy.
Of those that work fully remote, 74% plan to spend more on toys and activities to occupy pets during the day.
Extra purr-chases. Consumers will spend more on pets, especially when it comes to their health, but they’d like to save money where possible.
About 37% of consumers surveyed seek discounts for pet spending this year, and 28% are using loyalty programs.
According to Vericast’s 2023 Retail TrendWatch, a rise in holiday pet shopping compared to 2022 was found, with an 8%-point increase in owners shopping for pet gifts and holiday treats, bringing the total to 60%.
About 78% of survey respondents are willing to spend more on pet food and treats in 2023 than in 2022, indicating an interest in higher-quality products.
Over a third of consumers (38%) are willing to spend more on health products like vitamins and supplements this year, and 38% of respondents also said they will spend more on pet hygiene products.
Big paw-pportunity for retailers. Pet owners are shopping where they’re most likely to find discounts – pet specialty big box stores and retailers.
Almost one third (32%) of people shop for their pets at big brand specialty stores.
The next most common spot for pet purchases were other big box shops, with 30% of consumers shopping here.
Twenty percent of consumers preferred e-commerce shopping for pets, while only 13% of consumers said they are willing to shop at local, boutique pet stores.
According to the latest pet spending data from the American Pet Products Association, spending remains strong as economic uncertainty persists. Pet spending in 2022 was $136.8 billion in total industry sales, nearly an 11% increase over 2021. About $58 billion was spent on pet foods and treats, which was the highest spend category and the category with the biggest increase at 16%. To learn more about how consumers plan to spend this holiday season, view the 2023 Retail TrendWatch on Vericast.com.
Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, feels more like an ancient method of biblical punishment than a modern medical concern. After all, it’s been curable for nearly 80 years. But despite its age-old connotation, the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae remains a real and very present danger, with some 200,000 people in 120 countries reporting the tell-tale signs of the disease—chiefly skin lesions, lumps, ulcers, and loss of sensation. And the United States is a member of that unenviable list.
In the U.S., there are about 150 reported cases of leprosy every year, with many of the cases related to persons traveling to countries where the disease is endemic. But a new case report published this week by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the southeastern U.S., and especially central Florida, has become a particular hotspot for the disease.
“The number of reported cases has more than doubled in the southeastern states over the last decade. According to the National Hansen’s Disease Program, 159 new cases were reported in the United States in 2020; Florida was among the top reporting states,” the case report says. “Central Florida, in particular, accounted for 81 percent of cases reported in Florida and almost one fifth of nationally reported cases.”
But one of the more concerning statistics is that, in 34 percent of reported cases, the disease is thought to have been acquired locally. This means that leprosy could very well become an endemic disease in Central Florida. The researchers note that the disease is likely spread through prolonged human-to-human contact (via respiratory droplets). But it could also possibly be spread through zootropic methods—animal-to-human contact—as some native nine-banded armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus) contained the same leprosy strains.
Concerningly, this news arrives only a few months after the CDC also identified cases of locally acquired Malaria—in Texas and, once again, in Florida. Both malaria and leprosy are considered tropical and sub-tropical diseases, so Florida is a likely candidate to host such troublesome infections.
Although the resurgence of the disease in the U.S. is definitely bad news, leprosy isn’t as devastating as those ancient biblical reports may have you believe. For one, “leprosy” in ancient texts likely isn’t a description of modern Hansen’s disease (and no, your digits and limbs don’t just fall off). Also, 95% of people are naturally immune to the disease, meaning only a very small subset of people can be infected with the bacteria in the first place. Finally, the disease is relatively easily to treat with a multi-drug therapy, and once someone starts treatment, they can no longer spread it to others.
So, while true leprosy isn’t exactly “wrath of God” type stuff, warming temperatures due to climate change will only bring more diseases to the southern U.S.—and some may not be so easy to inoculate.
Bar K, a dog park company, is being acquired by Diversified Partners.
After the deal is completed, Diversified hopes to open 100 parks across the U.S. and Canada within four years, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Each Bar K location includes a bar, restaurant, event space and multiple dog parks. The company currently operates in St. Louis, Kansas City and Oklahoma City. PETS+ named Bar K its America’s Coolest pet business first-place winner in 2019.
Diversified is a commercial real estate brokerage and development firm based in Scottsdale, AZ.
Morris Animal Foundation on Tuesday announced a new call for research proposals using data and/or biological samples collected from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. This call does not include funding.
The Foundation is particularly interested in collaborative projects that leverage the longitudinal study design. Currently available samples include whole blood, serum, DNA, urine, feces, hair and toenails.
Launched in 2012, the Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is one of the largest, most comprehensive prospective canine health studies in the United States. A total of 3,044 dogs were enrolled and will be followed throughout their lifetime.
The primary goal of the Study is to clarify the incidence of, and risk factors for, cancer and other health outcomes.
Morris Animal Foundation and Revive & Restore have jointly announced funding for seven new projects focused on genomic sequencing and biobanking to protect and manage wildlife in vital kelp forest ecosystems. The selected projects are part of the Wild Genomes program. The program, which is co-funded by both organizations, along with grants from anonymous family foundations, is an initiative aimed at developing applied genomics tools for wildlife conservation.
“Kelp forests are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world and are heavily impacted by warming ocean temperatures,” said Dr. Kathy Tietje, Chief Program Officer at Morris Animal Foundation. “The collaboration between Morris Animal Foundation and Revive & Restore establishes a portfolio of projects focused on species conservation along our ocean coastlines.” Kelp ecosystems are integral to marine biodiversity, providing a home for myriad species, including sea otters, sea dragons and sharks. These animals rely on the stability of kelp forests for finding shelter, food, and protection from predators. Additionally, kelp forests support a wide array of fish species, such as herring and rockfish, which are vital for the food webs in these ecosystems. "The significance of kelp forests in supporting intricate food webs in the ocean cannot be overstated," emphasized Dr. Bridget Baumgartner, Director of Research & Development at Revive & Restore. "The selected projects hold great promise for conservation applications today and will demonstrate the value of genomic sequencing and biobanking for kelp forest restoration efforts." Grant recipients and their topics are:
Fabiola Lafarga de la Cruz, Ensenada Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education – This project will generate much-needed genomic data on surviving populations of black abalone to help with conservation of this endangered species.
Josefin Stiller, University of Copenhagen – Researchers will sequence the genomes of leafy and common sea dragons to better understand current population health status and improve conservation risk assessment of these kelp-dwelling fishes.
Stefan Prost, University of Oulu – The team aims to develop a rapid, relatively inexpensive genomic monitoring strategy based on the genomics of blue mussels to detect kelp forest ecosystems under environmental stress.
Filipe Alberto, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee – This team will study the genomic architecture related to temperature response in bull kelp to inform plans to mitigate climate change impacts on kelp forests.
Samuel Starko, University of Western Australia – This project aims to collect reproductive individuals for biobanking and support the sequencing and assembly of genomes from two Cystophora species of brown seaweed.
Terrie Williams, University of California, Santa Cruz – Researchers will sequence samples from sea otters to estimate inbreeding, construct a pedigree for this subpopulation, and create a high-quality dataset to inform future translocation efforts for this species.
Beekeepers in Georgia have raised alarm bells after an invasive species was spotted for the first time in the U.S.
A Savannah, Georgia beekeeper discovered the unusual-looking hornet earlier this month and promptly reported it to The Georgia Department of Agriculture, according to a statement release by the agency. The GDA, in partnership with the University of Georgia and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, identified the insect as an invasive yellow-legged hornet earlier this month, marking the first detection of the species in "the open United States."
The invasive hornet is described as a "social wasp species," meaning it is known to construct communal paper nests, often found hanging from trees or in tree hollows. Also known as Vespa velutina hornets or "Asian hornets," the wasps' nests are generally egg-shaped and can house up to 6,000 worker bees. The species could threaten honey production and native pollinators if it establishes a population, according to the GDA.
Vespa velutina, also known as the Asian hornet or yellow-legged hornet, is native to tropical and subtropical areas of Southeast Asia, though it has established a presence as an invasive species in most of Europe, parts of the Middle East, and parts of Asia, according to the GDA. The species constructs egg-shaped paper nests each year, with massive colonies of up to 6,000 peaking in size and activity around mid to late summer.
The yellow-legged hornet is sometimes mistaken for the Northern Giant Hornet, though it is generally smaller than the NGH. Workers can be as small as half the size of the NGH, whereas queens are a bit larger at 3/4 the size. Their most distinctive feature are legs that are mostly or partially covered in yellow, giving them their name. Body and head colors vary.
According to the GDA, the hornets feed on a variety of large insects and prey on honeybee colonies and other pollinators that play a significant role in the health of the U.S. ecosystem. In Georgia specifically, they pose a risk to agriculture, the state's main economic driver.
The GDA also asks that you include the following information with any form submission:
- Name and contact information
- Location and date of the sighting
- If possible, a photograph of the hornet. If not, a description of the size of the insect, the color of the head and body, and what it was doing
- Location and approximate height of the nest (if found)
- The direction the hornet(s) flew when flying away
On Monday, multiple dogs at a doggy daycare facility in Washington D.C. died when flood waters overwhelmed the structure, causing a wall to collapse. The tragic incident happened at the District Dogs business on Rhode Island Avenue.
At a press conference, EMS Chief John Donnelly said:
“The emotions, it’s hard to watch; it’s unbearable. This is losing a member of your family or being scared that you did.”
According to WUSA9 News, rescuers were able to save 20 dogs from the facility, but it is unknown how many perished. According to local news coverage of the tragedy, this facility has experienced flooding, including three times in one month last year.
Newscaster Lesli Foster said there are questions about how this happened from a “run-of-the-mill storm in August.”
Jacob Hensley, the dog daycare business owner, released a statement on Twitter:
“The District Dogs Family is heartbroken over the events that occurred at our Rhode Island Avenue location this evening. We appreciate the quick and heroic actions of our employees and first responders to rescue animals. We are focused on doing everything we can to support the impacted employee and customers during this difficult time. We have no further details at this time, while we continue to work with DC officials reviewing the incident.”
In Wake County, NC, two people are facing charges after a feline house of horrors was found at their residence on Cass Holt Road. As reported by ABC 11 News, investigators determined that Samuel Peri, 47, and Angela Honan, 52, owned the house where 22 ailing cats were living; 17 of those cats had to be euthanized. Investigators also found the bodies of 16 cats on the property.
Pair charged after feline house of horrors found in North Carolina
Dr. Jenn Federico, with Wake County Animal Control, said the surviving cats were “all hiding and terrified” when rescuers entered the residence. Federico described the squalid conditions inside the residence, stating:
“There were feces on the countertops and on top of the refrigerator. There was garbage on the floor.”
Peri and Honan were booked into the Wake County Detention Center; they are facing multiple charges, including cruelty to animals, abandonment of animals and failure to vaccinate against rabies.
In St. George, SC, a child, reported to be just nine years of age, is accused of intentionally shooting animals at a South Carolina animal sanctuary; killing one goat, two horses, and injuring two other horses.
The deadly incident happened at the Shangri-La Animal Sanctuary in Dorchester County on July 29. On July 30, the sanctuary made a public statement about the cruel incident, writing:
I’m sharing this here too. For those of you who haven’t heard, someone in our neighborhood has attacked the sanctuary and shot 4 horses and 1 goat. One horse, a 30 year old off the track thoroughbred was fatally injured, another horse here lost an eye, the other two horses have been severely injured.
Since the July 30 post, one of the injured horses had to be euthanized because of the severity of her injuries. Earlier this week, the sanctuary said that the three-year-old horse had died, explaining:
Run free again sweet girl! We did everything humanely possible to save you but failed. We will get justice for you, Charlotte, Pepsi and Millie.
Huck’s Downtown Girl, aka “Hooker” was humanely euthanized at the vet clinic last night due to severe complications from her injuries to her shoulder. Basically she dislocated the joint in her foreleg, near her withers, due to the impact and trauma of being shot.
A large social media page shared additional details about the cruelty case, claiming that the shooter is not being charged:
The shooter, a 9 year old neighbor boy, was found to be using these animals as target practice.
Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office has declined to press charges against the grandparents/guardians of the boy. The fact that this child obtained and used a weapon against defenseless animals that were in their pastures and the blatant cruelty to animals being dismissed is inexcusable.
People concerned about the lack of charges against the shooter are asked to contact the local authorities:
DCSO Sheriff L.C. Knight
212 Deming Way
Summerville SC 29483
In Detroit, MI, this week, the Detroit Zoo announced the death of a beloved Bactrian camel named Humphrey. According to the zoo, Humphrey, who was known as a “gentle giant,” lived at the zoo since his birth in 2014.
The difficult decision to humanely euthanize Humphrey was made because his mobility issues could no longer be managed and staff did not want him to suffer. The zoo said:
Humphrey started experiencing mobility issues a few years ago, which is when our animal care staff began providing diagnostic exams and veterinary treatments to pinpoint the cause of his discomfort and provide him with relief. Humphrey received expert care for as long as possible, but unfortunately, his condition regressed – and the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize him.
Though opting for euthanasia is never easy, the zoo said that their staff “took comfort” in knowing that Humphrey received the best care from their team throughout his entire treatment process.
Rest easy Humphrey.
In Baytown, Texas, a man is facing animal cruelty charges for doing something to innocent puppies so heinous that at least two defense attorneys have refused to take his case. The authorities have identified 44-year-old Justin Reilly Belton as the man who knowingly and intentionally cut off the paws and tails of at least four puppies on or around June 17, 2023.
Belton’s sadistic act resulted in one of the puppies being humanely euthanized, leaving the others “critically injured.” One of Belton’s neighbors told investigators they heard cries being heard at 3 a.m. with Belton walking outside and swearing. According to the police, the “Neighbor also alleged that [the defendant] has caused death to other animals.”
The allegations against Belton are so disturbing that a court hearing had to be moved because at least two defense attorneys refused to represent him.
The first court appearance was scheduled for 8/9/2023. Belton is charged with four counts of cruelty to a non-livestock animal; each count carries a bail amount of $25,000.
If you are sickened by Belton’s demented cruelty, please add your name to the petition today at www.animalvictory.org ! He must be put away for as long as possible.
We are petitioning for Belton to face the maximum punishment allowable by law for the four cruelty charges stemming from this sadistic behavior. At sentencing, we want to see Belton prohibited from owning or residing with animals and ordered to undergo extensive mental health treatment.
The American Kennel Club (AKC®), a not-for-profit organization, the world’s largest purebred dog registry and leading advocate for dogs, is excited to announce that the AKC Agility Premier Cup presented by YuMOVE, is set to premiere on ESPN on August 20th at 3pm ET.
This year’s AKC Agility Premier Cup took place on July 8th at the Historic Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH, the first stadium built for a Major League Soccer team in the United States. One hundred of the top Agility teams in the country gathered to compete in five height classes (8”, 12”, 16”, 20”, 24”) for $10,000 in prize money. Competitors include past AKC National Agility champions, AKC Agility Invitational winners, and members of the AKC World Agility Team.
“Agility is a fast-paced, thrilling event, and ESPN viewers are sure to be captivated by these stellar canine/handler teams,” said Gina DiNardo, AKC Executive Secretary. “We’re glad to be able to introduce a new audience to the wonder of dog sports.”
The broadcast will be hosted by noted sportscaster Carolyn Manno, Agility analyst Terry Simons, and ESPN’s Phil Murphy
The death and destruction on Maui also extend to our four-legged companions, many of which were still missing a week after flames tore through the historic town of Lahaina. One shelter is working overtime to house the pets of residents who lost their homes or are living in shelters until they can be reunited.
Rodnyl Toscana escaped the fire. His home is destroyed, but he and his pets are okay. Toscano is staying in a shelter, and his three dogs and rabbits are being taken care of at the Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation in Wailuku.
"They'll take care of them really really well here so we can get them back," Toscana said. The facility is getting ready for a hundred pets, including dogs, cats and even tortoises.
Dawn Pfendler, CEO of Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation, said taking care of pets gives residents fewer things to worry about. "Humans need the pets as much as the pets need the humans," she said. "So we're really not sure what to expect. So we're trying to prepare for a marathon, not a sprint." The foundation will care for the pets until their owners' housing situation is more stable.
An estimated 3,000 animals were missing on the island, Maui Humane Society CEO Lisa M. Labrecque said Monday. The group, which is working to reunite pets with their owners, has recovered more than 50 animals from the Lahaina area, including 12 that were hospitalized as of Monday. Eight animals had been reunited with their families.
For more than a century, scientists have tried to transplant the kidneys of animals into humans. For more than a century, they have failed to get those organs functioning. Now, researchers at the University of Alabama are claiming a first. They have taken the kidneys of a genetically modified pig and successfully transplanted the organs into a brain-dead patient with the permission of his family.
Scientists have tried this before with some success, but what sets the current case study apart is that the pig kidneys quickly made urine and cleared the patient's body of creatinine. Creatinine is a broken down part of a waste product produced mainly by our muscle cells and it can only be removed from our bodies via our kidneys through urine. So these are crucial measures of kidney function required to sustain life. No one had succeeded in providing reliable measurements to both before. When the organs of one species are transplanted into another, it's known as 'xenotransplantation'.
Historically, these surgeries have mostly failed, because the human immune system attacks the foreign tissue, even with immunosuppressive drugs. But if that animal organ is genetically modified to trick the human immune system into accepting it, scientists could theoretically prevent rejection. That proof of principle has now been carried out in a hospital with astonishing success. According to Toby Coates, a clinician scientist at the University of Adelaide who was not involved in the current case, the new xenotransplant was made successful using a 'key advance' in genetic modification.
The removal of four pig genes and the insertion of six human genes, he says, helped "prevent coagulation and 'humanize' the pig kidney". These human-like pig kidneys were functional for a week in the patient's body, but researchers now need to test whether these kidneys are temporary 'bridges' or 'destination therapies' for those with end-stage kidney disease. Either scenario would be extremely welcome. Today, in the US, roughly 40 percent of patients waiting for a kidney transplant die within five years of being listed. Each year, only 25,000 people receive a kidney transplant, and yet the nation is home to more than 800,000 patients with end-stage kidney disease. Unfortunately, one successful xenotransplant isn't enough to declare this solution safe or effective.
A few years ago, when some of the same scientists transferred two kidneys from a pig with 10 genetic modifications into a different brain-dead patient, it didn't go as well. The patient's body did not reject the organs, but the kidneys did not clear did not clear enough creatinine to reduce levels in the patient's blood or be detected in the urine, either. Some scientists remain skeptical that xenotransplants in bread-dead patients will translate to living patients. But extending these experiments to the latter group remains highly contentious.
If scientists were to start doing that, kidney xenotransplants would be the safest bet, as these organs can be removed from the body without causing death if immune rejection starts. Advocates for xenotransplantation research argue that we should tread cautiously but that these are potentially life-saving steps worth taking.
A Florida dog groomer who posed as a veterinarian has been arrested after a Chihuahua he performed a caesarean section on died post-surgery.
The illicit procedure happened on May 18, according to a Facebook post made by the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. The six-year-old Chihuahua, Sugar, was having difficulty delivering puppies when her owners contacted Osvaldo Sanchez, a man who had been previously been introduced to them as a veterinarian.
According to the post, Sanchez visited the owners’ home in his “mobile office, a converted ambulance.” He examined Sugar, spayed the six-pound dog, and then proceeded to perform a C-section to remove a stillborn puppy. Sanchez charged the owners $600 for the surgery.
Following the procedure, Sugar fell ill from infection and spent a week in the care of a licensed veterinary clinic, authorities say. The dog was described to be in “dire shape.”
On May 25, a week after the surgery, Sugar was taken to a 24-hour emergency pet hospital for an ultrasound. Doctors noted her “surgical incision was closed with string or thread and not the standard suture material,” which could have contributed to her infection.
Sugar returned to the veterinary clinic the same day and later died from multiple post-surgical complications.
According to the sheriff’s office, a doctor at the emergency hospital told detectives that “a C-section is not an uncommon surgery on pregnant dogs,” and “had a qualified veterinarian performed the procedure on Sugar, she likely would have survived.”
“Pets’ lives are at risk if unlicensed individuals perform surgery, prescribe medication, and claim to provide needed care,” Sheriff Rambosk of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office says. “Such individuals who believe they can operate outside the law will be arrested and held accountable.”
Approximately 50% of healthy racing thoroughbreds suffer from cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) when exercising despite being bred for athletic performance.1 To demonstrate the underlying triggers and substrate for cardiac arrhythmia in racing horses, at the 2023 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) forum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Laura C. Nath, BVSc, CertEM, FANZCVS, PhD candidate, with the University of Adelaide in Kew, Victoria, Australia, presented the e-poster “Histopathological evaluation of myocardial hypertrophy and fibrosis in thoroughbred racehorses.” The hypothesis of the study was that thoroughbred racehorses will have myocardial fibrosis, increased myocyte diameter, and a greater density of fibroblasts in relation to untrained horses.2
The retrospective research looked at thoroughbred racehorses, including 15 that experienced sudden cardiac death (SCD); 18 that died from other fatal injuries (OFI); compared to 10 healthy untrained (UT) wild horses.
In a post-mortem, cardiac tissues were sampled with the OFI and UT groups age matched to the SCD group. Two atrial and 3 ventricular sites were stained with Sirius red to look for presence of myocardial fibrosis and triple antibody stain (WGA, vimentin, and GS-IB4) looked for myocyte diameter and fibroblast density. To make measurements, a blinded operator utilizing automated analysis with commercial software was used. The results were tested for normality using the Shapiro-Wilk test and differences evaluated with 1-way ANOVA with various comparisons.2
It was revealed that the SCD group had a greater fibrosis proportion compared to the UT group at 4/5 examined sites.2 The UT group had reduced myocyte diameter at 5/5 sites compared to both SCD or OFI groups. There were no notable differences between SCD and OFI groups for either fibrosis proportion or myocyte diameter and there were no differences between any group for fibroblast density.
In conclusion, thoroughbred racehorses often suffer from histological myocardial hypertrophy. Myocardial fibrosis is significant in the SCD group, and this could be a substrate for arrhythmia. The lack of increased fibroblast density may infer underlying chronic fibrotic remodeling.2
A year of intense training to discern the difference between human and animal remains is a must for the specialised search dogs deployed to work on Maui following last week's deadly wildfires.
But it also takes a dog born with the particular personality needed for the job to find remains of the missing and help bring closure for anguished families, said Mary Cablk, an expert in detection and systems at the Desert Research Institute in Nevada, who has trained hundreds of canines, designed training programs for handlers and still goes out on dozens of searches a year with her own dogs.
"Dogs that really want to play, that are obsessive about their toy, that are confident and agile, that are not afraid of loud noises or weird surfaces, bring a lot to the table," she said. Cablk is not involved in the Maui recovery operation.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) urban search rescue teams had 20 dogs on the ground as of Monday supporting state and local officials combing through the ashes. Jeremy Greenberg, FEMA's director of operations, said on a call with reporters on Monday that the treacherous conditions on Maui meant that the search is difficult. Greenberg underscored that while searchers understand that families are desperate to know the fate of missing loved ones, they must "conduct that search in a safe and respectful manner."
Each cadaver dog, which can undergo a year of intense lessons before being ready for missions, can search up to a couple dozen homes' burned down "footprints" each day. That number varies depending on conditions. Hawaii's government has said that at least 2,200 structures were destroyed in the fires, 86 per cent of which were residential buildings.
Dogs that will work fire scenes are trained to detect burnt flesh - and can distinguish human remains from those of pets and other animals. In the aftermath of a fire, the dogs are taught not to become excited and run back and forth from remains they have found to a handler, which could damage a scene. Cadaver dogs working fires will simply lay down once they have found something, Cablk said.
Dogs are also now being trained not to enter the "footprint" of a burned down house at all, but to signal to handlers that they have hit upon remains without approaching them.
Just as teaching hospitals to use cadavers to teach medical students, Cablk said, trainers use human flesh and blood to train dogs. Some countries don't allow human remains in such training, and in those places dogs are taught using animal remains, making rescues more difficult.
Cadaver dogs are trained to associate the scent of human remains with a reward, typically a chew toy, Cablk said. If the dog successfully locates remains, it gets to play with the toy.
"That's the dog's paycheck," Cablk said. "Handlers will carry the reward toy with them, and many dogs, in fact, will come around to the back of the handler and check to make sure that the toy is in their pack."
Three people have died in the New York City area after getting infections from a flesh-eating bacteria that can be caused by eating oysters or swimming in the ocean, according to health officials.
One person died in Suffolk County on Long Island and two other victims were from Connecticut. A fourth victim fell ill but was later sent home from the hospital.
The Centers for Disease Control says that the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria is deadly and kills one in five people who contract it.
“While rare, the bacteria has unfortunately made it to this region and can be extraordinarily dangerous,” Governor Kathy Hochul said.
“As we investigate further, it is critical that all New Yorkers stay vigilant and take responsible precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, including protecting open wounds from seawater and for those with compromised immune systems, avoiding raw or undercooked shellfish which may carry the bacteria.”
The bacteria, which occurs naturally in saltwater coastal environments and can be found in higher concentrations from May to October when the weather is warmer, said the New York State Department of Health.
“We are reminding providers to be on the lookout for cases of vibriosis, which is not often the first diagnosis that comes to mind,” Dr James McDonald, the New York state health commissioner said in the statement.
“We are also suggesting to New Yorkers that if you have wounds, you should avoid swimming in warm seawater. And, if you have a compromised immune system, you should also avoid handling or eating raw seafood that could also carry the bacteria.”
Health officials say that anyone with an open wound or recent tattoo or piercing should avoid warm seawater or cover the wound in a waterproof bandage.
People with compromised immune systems are also told they should avoid eating raw or undercooked shellfish, such as oysters.
Alley Cat Allies, the global leader in the protection of cats and kittens, is working on the ground in Lahaina to provide emergency assistance to cats in response to the wildfires in Maui. An Alley Cat Allies response team is ensuring the delivery of vital supplies, building shelters and feeding cats and kittens in some of the most devastated areas.
"Cats are incredible survivors, and more will emerge in the fire zones over time,” said Coryn Julien, communications director for Alley Cat Allies. "Alley Cat Allies is providing our expertise and strategizing with local organizations to deliver even more immediate support as well as long term help for cats through the recovery work ahead.”
Alley Cat Allies is continuing to meet communicated needs for critical supplies including medication, cat food, and kitten milk replacement. Alley Cat Allies is also addressing everyday needs for companion cats and their families who were impacted, including litter and litter pans, food bowls and more.
Alley Cat Allies will provide updates to these disaster response efforts on its website, alleycat.org.