FDA proposes new regulations for pet food safety

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Under the category of “It’s About Time,” we have the news that the Food and Drug Administration is proposing new regulations for pet food and treat manufacturers.

NBC News reports the rules would fall under the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act. A public-comment period will run for 120 days, and will be in place 60 days after the comment period closes. Domestic and imported foods will fall under the new guidelines.

It is about time. But recent reports of dog deaths from eating imported food or treats from China has finally led to this step.

But I really don’t get the following from the NBC News piece:

FDA has always had rules in place that prohibit adulterants in pet food. That’s why the agency has issued company-initiated recalls for salmonella-tainted bird food, for instance, or dog food contaminated with aflatoxin, a naturally occurring mold by-product.

But, until now, there’s been no requirement that companies analyze the potential food safety hazards of their products or that they follow current good manufacturing practices, or CGMPs, that specifically address animal food.

So the FDA had rules, but there were no requirements for companies to actually check on their products or even follow good practices? WHAT?

And then Daniel McChesney, the director of the office of surveillance and compliance at the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine suggest the companies might have problems meeting the deadlines for compliance. Policies for the safety of their products should already be in place.



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Video: Abused dog gets a new home and a new leg

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The dog featured in this video, was abandoned and injured – before a new family adopted him. And he later received a new, prosthetic leg.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Reading between the lines – of the words from dog racing insiders

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Sometimes, the words we read sound like a particular writer is making a key point. But as we all know, reading between lines or behind the words can be revealing.

A letter to the editor of the WV Gazette, published September 24, offers a clear example. Gary Guccione of the American Greyhound Council wrote – “Nearly 95 percent of all registered racing greyhounds are returned to the farm or placed in adoptive homes when they retire.”

The greyhound racing defenders love to spew out this 95-percent line. But this twist is somewhat new – that the “retired” dogs either go to the farm or are adopted out.

The single sentence referenced above has a number of holes in it – obviously. How do they define “retire?” Is it only when dogs age out? And what does “returned to the farm” really mean? What happens to the dogs who are returned to the farm? Are many of them returned to the farm to die?

At this point, we won’t know the fate of these dogs.

And other insiders would suggest the ‘retirement’ numbers are not tracked at all. Even the database has holes in it. My wife has tried to search the industry’s database in the past and came up empty, trying to search ear tattoo numbers.


PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Local, online poll shows huge support for anti-puppy mill laws

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Online polls can be a bit unscientific, the numbers found in a local news station poll this week are incredible. WWAY in Wilmington, NC asked readers if they think North Carolina needs to enact tougher puppy-mill laws.

Just up the road from Wilmington, around 100 dogs were recently rescued in a raid on a rural puppy mill.

As of Friday morning, 762 people had voted in the poll, with 92 percent voting YES. While any reasonable person would vote this way, a few did go with NO or Don’t Know/Don’t Care.

Our nation is divided on many political issues and as we’re seeing right now, gridlock is the new norm. But our collective love for animals brings people of all political corners into agreement. Now we just need our elected officials follow the movement. To date, too many elected officials at the state and federal level have been caving in to special-interest groups, who regularly lobby against any and all breeding regulations and/or animal-welfare laws.

In its next session, the North Carolina General Assembly will take up a new anti-puppy mill bill, which has passed one house already.  Any puppy-mill regulations need to include regular, unannounced inspections; requirements for daily exercise and play time; regular veterinary care and standards for kennel sizes and construction.

Our current laws in North Carolina and at the federal level are far too weak. Don’t let anyone tell you current laws are good enough, if enforced. There are gaping holes in current regulations – especially for breeders – in NC and elsewhere.

Enforcement is one key area, but currently, law enforcement does not have the guidelines it needs. Conditions have to be reach extreme levels before police and sheriff departments can act. By that point, the suffering might have gone on for years. Without inspections, we’ve seen puppy mills operate undiscovered for years, if not decades. So many are operating freely right now.


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Arizona Department of Racing wants ban lifted on steroid use in dog racing

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The City of South Tucson rightfully banned the improper use of steroids in racing greyhounds five years ago. And Tucson later joined in after it was found that dogs were transported just beyond the South Tucson limits for injection.

But the Arizona Department of Racing recently sent a request to South Tucson, asking for a lift on the steroid ban for racing dogs. The letter suggests the “law interferes with its power and authority to regulate the industry and the property on which the races are conducted…”

Translation: The ADR wants to allow the improper use of steroids and doesn’t want anyone else trying to protect dogs from harm.

Clearly, steroids should only be prescribed by veterinarians, for medical conditions. The racing industry there in Arizona claims the use of the drug (PED – wink) is for birth control (wink,wink). How about separating the females from the males. Or how about ending the abuse and shut down dog racing forever.

The Arizona Daily Star published an editorial Wednesday rightfully supporting the ban on steroids for racing dogs and the other provisions in the local ordinance, which “prohibits the use of 4-D meat, the standard racing industry feed that gets its name from the dead, dying, disabled or diseased animals it’s made from.”

The editorial also reports on the health risks of long-term steroid use – including liver damage, genital infections and death.

And Karyn Zoldan has the issued covered in her Tucson Tails blog.


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Michelle Duggar fails on understanding population boom

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Human population growth is clearly taxing the planet. We are seeing rampant deforestation and habitat loss and a huge strain on resources in many areas of the Earth. And many species of wildlife are being wiped off the face of the Earth, a trend that can indeed be traced to human activity and greed.

But apparently Michelle Duggar of “19 Kids and Counting” fame is unaware of these obvious trends.

In a article by Us Weekly posted today at Today.com, Duggar is asked about overpopulation, something she said she doesn’t believe in. Let’s make sure we get this quote right. She told Celebrity Baby Scoop –

“We have studied it and I believe that there is a misconception about overpopulation. I think that the whole mindset of overpopulation is really overrated.”

She doesn’t believe in overpopulation. It’s like stating you don’t believe there’s a sun in our solar system. It’s like saying you don’t believe in sunburn. It’s like saying the crime rate in Chicago is no big deal or having a job is overrated.

It’s like not understanding the phrase – exponential growth.

Look – I don’t want to pick on Michelle. She seems like a really nice person. But she said she studied overpopulation and yet she came to this conclusion. I couldn’t let that pass.

Again, overpopulation is putting a huge strain on wildlife populations, habitat and the planet’s resources. If anything, the problem is underrated and receives too little attention from the media or governments.


PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Dog rescued from puppy mill learns to trust people

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The ASPCA video below tells the story of Zack, a little dog the organization rescued from a Michigan puppy mill earlier this year. Zack was very afraid and it took some time and compassionate contact to allow him to understand that not all people are evil.

I will be writing very soon about some new research being reported, which offers further scientific proof that animals did experience emotions. Stay tuned.

But there really are no doubts remaining on this topic. Animals like dogs, cats, pigs, horses, elephants, monkeys and many, many more do experience emotion. Anyone who denies this fact – from scientists or others – is simply WRONG.

Zack’s video clearly shows his emotions. Now some on the other side would claim I am wrong because I am basing my findings purely on observation. – WRONG. This would be like telling an emergency room doctor he was incorrect because he was basing his conclusion that a patient had been shot by merely observing the wound.

Or would these same folks on the other side suggest we needed to toss out any mental health care for trouble people because doctors could only base a diagnosis on observations and what the patient was telling them? WRONG.

We really do know that animals experience emotion and can therefore suffer both physically and emotionally and can on the other end, experience happiness and joy. We see the positive end of the emotional spectrum when we come home to great our pets.

So it’s time to put what we know as facts to work and ramp up animal-cruelty laws across the nation and across the planet, to better protect animals from abuse.

Again, stay tuned to the blog for much more on this topic. Thank you for reading.


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A scary headline about adoption – but underneath is not so bad

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I ran across a troubling headline on the Raining Cats and Dogs blog on the Chicago Now website. The headline: “Why you should think twice before you adopt a dog.”

My first reactions included: ‘What? – They prefer you purchase a puppy?’ and ‘Oh no – they’re anti-adoption.’

But the body of the blog post offers more in the way of a primer for people who want to add a furry family member. And it seems to be an effort to make sure fewer homeless pets are returned to shelters, because some people might go into the decision with blinders on.

But the writer is not suggesting people go out and buy puppies.

It is important to note that people can be better assured of matching a dog or cat to their families if they adopt – as opposed to buying a pet. This is one myth often promoted by supporters of breeding and breeder groups.

But those who buy from a breeder before they’ve fully researched the operation and before they have taken a full tour of the breeding facility, are taking the risk of not knowing what the outcome will be. And those who purchase puppies who are younger than 12 weeks are making a risky choice. In both cases, it’s risky for the puppies and the breeding dogs.

So the best choice is to talk with the volunteers at local rescue groups, who have fostered or otherwise cared for the homeless pet you might want to adopt. Often, they have a clear picture of the pet’s behavior and health and how well they might get along with other pets and children.

In every way – including the fact that a life is being saved – adoption is the best option.



PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Pack News Wire: The good, the bad and the ugly

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The last week of news has featured some real ugliness and evil and clueless behavior, mixed in with some touching stories of compassion.

Lets start with clueless, mixed with ugly.

New York plea bargain lets animal abuser off the hook

A man in Nichols, NY was offered a plea deal last week, after being charged with several misdemeanor charges and one count of felony aggravated animal cruelty. The Daily Review reports he was charged with “overdriving, torture and failure to provide sustenance; inappropriate shelter for animals; and harboring unlicensed dogs.”

One dog was found dead and frozen to the ground. A necropsy found the dog died of starvation. But despite all of this, the deal will allow the man to walk free, with about a $400 fine and a ban on having animals for 10 years.

How any court system could believe this level of punishment for these crimes is acceptable is beyond reasonable and beyond clueless. In this case and other similar cases, it’s called the Criminal Injustice System.

The Good: Afghan animal shelter reuniting dogs and cats with soldiers

Louise Hastie, a former British soldier , is working with team of Afghanistan citizens to operate the nation’s only official animal shelter, according to a NBC News article.

Over the last six years, the shelter has transported over 400 dogs and cats over to the United States and the United Kingdom where they were adopted by former soldiers.

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PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

A prediction we hope comes true – the closing of six greyhound tracks

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A new report indicates six greyhound race tracks could shut down if the coupling effort is successful in Florida. The state legislature has been debating for some time the possibility of dropping the requirement that casinos there hold a set number of races each year.

Decoupling would end this requirement, which has been an ongoing effort from racing insiders to gain a level of protection no other industry enjoys. The state has for a long time required greyhound racing to exist. It was a horrible move when it was enacted and it continues to be horrible.

But thankfully, both race track owners and animal-welfare groups such as Grey2K USA are supporting the effort to decouple. It is the breeder groups and others and some members of the state legislature who are still holding on.

The News Herald article includes a wildly inaccurate statement from Mark Hess, associate manager of Ebro Greyhound Park:

“I mean there are millions of tourists that visit Panama City Beach every year, and they come from states that don’t have greyhound racing, and they really enjoy coming out and watching the dogs run.”

That’s quite a stretch, since every photo I’ve seen of late from any US dog track shows more dogs on the track than bodies in the stands. Attendance is down and betting on racing is down and dog racing is a money loser. But despite these facts and despite the suffering and death for the dogs, the state of Florida is still offering this disappointing and uncaring protection for the industry.

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