Thursday, August 23, 2007

Guest Blogger - In Whose Yard the Dog Sits

Animal lover or not, it would take someone with a heart of stone to read the details of the crimes Michael Vick committed against the pit bull dogs in his “care” and not feel sick. While the media talk about how much “time he’ll do” and whether or not he’ll ever play in the NFL again, there is one vital piece of information missing from the equation…this isn’t about Michael Vick, it’s about the dogs.

Michael Vick is not the only dog fighter in the United States, not the only man who has made money off the dog' backs while feeding his own warped ego. Not the only one who has tortured and killed innocent dogs on a regular basis. Michael Vick
is just symptom, a blip on the radar screen, of a cancer in desperate need of a cure. While the Pundits debate and the NFL Public Relations Machine wrings its hands, thousands of other "Michael Vicks," black and white, rich and poor, in neighborhoods urban and rural, are committing the same crimes against pit bull dogs that Vick did. The question remains, will the Feds come for them too or will the presently very public fight against the crime of dog fighting end with Vick? And if they do continue, who will speak for victims who can not speak for themselves, the dogs? What will become of them? Will their lives be better for our intervening on their behalf or will it be more of the same. Death, not death in the pit, but death on the end of a snare pole perhaps, death without compassion, death just the same. Will all of the dogs continue to be victimized twice? Killed by their masters because they wouldn't fight, killed by those who rescued them because they might? The dogs are left with nowhere to stand, pawns in a cruel game of guilt by association.

So I ask you, when does the dog in the fight, the innocent pit bull dog who has not asked for an
y of this, when does he finally get to win? When does he get the same care and compassion as any other pet? When does the pit bull dog, get be to be viewed as simply what he is, a dog, who like all canines, desires a warm hearth, plenty of food and a person to call his own?

Michael Vick’s story and the tragic story of his dogs will reach its not-so-fairy tale ending in due course. But what of the stories of all of the nameless, faceless victims of the crime of dog fighting whose masters don’t play in the NFL? What of those dogs? Who will say this doesn’t end here? Who will ensure that their stories have a happier ending than that of the Vick dogs?

I look at both of my pit bull dogs, but particularly my dog Isaac who was left to die in a dumpster, and think there but for the grace of god go they. It occurs to me that the only difference between their lives and the thousands of pet pit bulls like them and the lives of all of the pit bulls suffering in dire circumstances, is the hands into which they fell. A cruel twist of fate or a blessing from above, depending on in whose yard the dog sits.

Best regards,

Kate Fraser
Foundation Director
Animal Farm Foundation

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Adopt A Senior Dog

There is nothing more heart-wrenching for me than seeing a senior dog in a shelter. The cloudy eyes and gray muzzle are telltale signs of a judicious past and the inevitable end. The odds of a senior pit bull being adopted are zero in a shelter over-crowded with much younger dogs. But, no senior dog should have to die in a shelter filled with stress and surrounded by unfamiliar faces.

Folks pass up the old dog because, "We want a playmate for our kids, other dogs, etc.," or "We want a puppy so we can raise her right," and "We just lost our dog of 12 years, we don't want to adopt a new dog only to have it die in 2 years." I understand the rationale for adopting a young dog over an old one, but want to put down some thoughts on the benefits of adopting a senior.

In my experience, senior dogs are nice dogs and make wonderful companions. A dog doesn't live to be a senior if he's mean or nasty. Senior dogs are calm and well-mannered and are often obedience and house trained. Senior dogs are unassuming and demand nothing; they are content with a soft bed, one square meal a day and an occasional pat. Seniors are often deaf, so they sleep soundly and rarely bark. Seniors require very little exercise and are never destructive. Senior dogs express their gratitude daily with loyalty and devotion, regardless of how they were treated in the past. They are wise beyond their years.

Senior dogs can require more veterinary care than younger dogs, and may bring a history of neglect with them. However, they embrace the future, graciously, and have earned the right to a healthy, comfortable, peaceful existence. We may only have a few months or a few years with a senior dog, but I believe they are the best years of that dog's life. And, our life is made better with them in it.

Bring a senior dog into your heart and won't regret it!

~ Sanya

Author's acknowledgement: I thank Mia, Amey, Joey, Granny, Debbie Dog and Thor for their contributions to this entry. They were 6 senior dogs I had the pleasure of adopting over the last 12 years and, though they've all passed on, each left life lessons and indelible paw prints on my heart.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

PBRC Medical Tip

Pit Bull type dogs are more prone to become infected with Babesia gibsoni than any other breed and are more likely to suffer clinical infections of Babesia canis than other breeds. Here's what you should know.....

What is Babesia and what is it doing to your dog?

There are many species of Babesia, but those of most concern to Pit Bull owners are Babesia canis and Babesia gibsoni. While any dog can become infected Babesia organisms, infections are most commonly found in Greyhounds and Pit Bulls. Although there are Babesia species found all over the world, in the United States B. canis and gibsoni are more prevalent in southern states. However, the transient nature of families and the transfer of dog ownership due to rescue from natural or manmade disasters, there is no state that is unaffected. Some countries do require pre export negative Babesia canis and/or gibsoni test results prior to allowing entry.

How does this happen?

An infected tick must feed on a dog for 2-3 days to transfer the babesia organism. Once this transfer occurs, the babesia organism continues to develop as it moves from the blood stream into red blood cells (rbc). When the organism matures in the rbc, that cell will rupture and release the organism in the blood stream to infect additional rbcs. The body’s own immune system will also detect the infected red blood cells and destroy them. Although Babesia is considered a tick bourne disease it can also be transmitted by dog bites, blood transfusions, contaminated needles or surgical instruments and from mother to pup.

What Babesia does?

The destruction of red blood cells can result in anemia (lack of red blood cells). Lab results may show this anemia (low rbc count), low platelet count, and other values suggestive of liver disease (hypoalbuminemia, and bilirubinuria). Initially, the anemia appears to be nonregenerative, but later is regenerative anemia. Clinical symptoms such as weakness, pale color, fever, anorexia, enlarged lymphnodes, depression, enlarged spleen, rapid pulse may be exhibited by some dogs. In dogs that have had a spleenectomy (spleens removed) or have an auto immune disorder the disease can be devastating. While many normal healthy dogs will have no outward symptoms at all, these dogs are carriers and will spread the disease to other dogs via dog bites and infecting ticks. During times of stress, due to other disease process or mental situations these dogs may also have a relapse of the disease and exhibit clinical symptoms. Dogs diagnosed with Auto Immune Hemolytic Anemia should have babesia on the list of rule outs as to the cause. Also dogs that are having liver issues and/or undiagnosed liver disease should have babesia on the list of rule outs.

How is Babesia diagnosed?

Babesia organisms can be seen on a blood smear, especially a freshly drawn blood taken from a capillary source (ear, toenail). If Babesia organisms are found, the patient is definitely infected. However, the organism can be hard to find and may rarely be found in samples from chronically infected dogs or carrier dogs that aren't showing symptoms of the disease. Due to this there are other, more ideal methods for testing. Indirect fluorescent antibody
(IFA) testing is performed on serum or plasma and is used to establish antibody titers to B. canis and gibsoni. However, if it is early in the disease process or in an animal that is immune suppressed, antibodies may not be present. A titer is a measurement of the amount or concentration of antibodies in a blood sample and can be helpful in determining medical
treatment. Generally the higher the titer, the greater the infection. IFA testing is available through specialized diagnostic laboratories, such as Protatek Reference Laboratory.

Molecular diagnosis of Babesia spp. infection in dogs and cats via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of whole blood has become available. This is an extremely sensitive test that can be used to diagnose Babesia and distinguish between the different species. However, it does not help establish the level of infection and there have been issues with false positive/negative results. To avoid this, blood samples should be collected early in the course of clinical disease,
before medications have been started and submitted to an experienced, quality lab.

When to test?

Food for thought is routinely screening Pit Bulls. One of my own dogs was negative for B. canis several years ago. Recently she tested positive. No tick exposure, no contaminated needles/ instruments, no blood transfusion. What did happen in the time in-between was an accidental fight with another of my dogs (who is positive for B. canis). Neither of my positive dogs (I also have 1 dog that has tested negative, who also has had accidental fights...) have clinical or laboratory results that indicate they have the disease. But I know that it is there and if they do have other medical or stress issues that could allow the Babesia to become a problem I know to watch for it. Any dog blood donor should be tested prior to joining a donor program and periodically during their blood donor career. Any dog intended for breeding should be tested prior to entering into a breeding relationship (both male and female) any dog with liver disease. Dogs with AIHA. Dogs exhibiting clinical signs.

How to treat?

Treatable but not necessarily curable (meaning can reduce eliminate symptoms, but may still test positive and should always be considered a permanent carrier). B. canis is easier to treat than B. gibsoni. *note* there are other treatment options available in different areas of the country and currently under development in the US

Doxycycline (DO NOT GIVE WITH DAIRY PRODUCTS)and Clindamycin are affordable,
generally well tolerated treatment option for dogs with low to moderate titers and no or little symptoms.

In the US the "big gun" treatment is Imidocarb Dipropionate A single dose is usually effective for Babesia canis but 2 injections (given 2 weeks apart) are needed for Babesia gibsoni and depending on the infection of Babesia canis may be given. Side effects can include, but are not limited to: muscle tremors, drooling, elevated heart rate, shivering, and fever, facial swelling, tearing of the eyes, and restlessness. The injection is expensive, painful, should be given deep into the muscle, given with supportive care and only by doctors experienced with it. Pre-treatment with an injection of atropine helps palliate these side effects. In dogs that are
asymptomatic, this treatment is not worth the risks and side effects.


  • Tick control. Carefully remove ticks asap.
  • If blood transfusion is needed confirm that blood is from a babesia negative dog. (as well as other tick bourne diseases).
  • Avoid dog to dog bites, fights.
  • Avoid situations that involve contaminated needles/surgicalinstruments

Other things to consider:

  • First evident within rbcs on blood smears in approximately 1 to 3 weeks post initial infection.
  • Although clinical disease may resolve, infections often become chronic. Even after appropriate therapy, infection can persist forthe life of the dog.
  • Babesia canis and B. gibsoni are not known to infect people.
  • People can become infected with other Babesia species, dogs are not involved in the transmission.
  • A babesia vaccine exists, although it is not currently available in the US.

Educate yourself and talk to your veterinarian!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Guest Blogger - Straight from the Woof Report

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Ohio Supreme Court's Devastating Decision

In an unbelievable move today, the Ohio Supreme court rendered their decision in the Tellings v. Toledo case. Their decision has dog owners across the USA stunned in disbelief as they decided against Tellings and supported Toledo.

Back in April when the case was presented to the Justices I, like hundreds of you, sat and listened to testimony. While Tellings' attorney was lacking in knowledge regarding the dogs, Justice O'Conner seemed to not only understand arguments but greatly assisted our side in presenting arguments against another Justice. After all was said and done, I spoke with some fellow very well respected BSL fighters and we all felt good about the case and its outcome.

Then, some 3 months later, we were shot down. Shocking given the evidence and prior court cases. Heck, they had ruled in 2 other cases non-pit bull specific that laws based on breed were unconstitutional. So why the change? All of the scientific evidence supports our position, all of the national canine organizations support our position, and there are several cases that support our position. What is wrong with the Ohio Supreme court?

As for Justice Maureen O'Connor, she concurred in judgment only, and entered a separate opinion expressing her "disapproval" of the provision of state law classifying all pit bulls as "vicious dogs." She wrote that data cited by the trial court regarding pit bull attacks did not reflect inherent violent characteristics of the breed but rather arose from deliberate efforts by some owners, including drug dealers, to increase a dog's aggression and lethalness through abuse or aberrant training."

What is that? If you stand against something, don't believe it to be right why would you vote for it? Very disappointing.

~ The Woof Report

If you would like to read the written decision, you can by clicking here.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Thanks to the Mayor of Mt Vernon, NY

Thank you Mayor Ernest Davis! Thank you for taking a stand against dogfighting, and for letting Floyd serve as your spokesdog during your news conference.

Wounded pit bull shown as Mount Vernon mayor condemns dog fighting

(Original publication: August 4, 2007)

MOUNT VERNON -Floyd, a gentle older pit bull who is blind in one eye, sat next to Mayor Ernest Davis at City Hall yesterday as the star of his own news conference.

The dog was found Tuesday critically injured and abandoned in the middle of a Mount Vernon street. And though he couldn't speak for himself, his supporters said it all for him.

"If you are that inhumane to a dog, you will be that inhumane to a child, a person, an adult," said Paula Young, director of the Mount Vernon Animal Shelter. "It's like taking your grandmother and throwing her out in the middle of a war."

Davis, who is running for re-election this year, described Floyd as a victim of "the horrible culture of dog fighting," which he warned is spreading thanks to celebrities such as Michael Vick, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback recently indicted on federal dog-fighting charges. Vick pleaded not guilty.

The mayor is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest of those who caused Floyd's vicious wounds. Tips can be called in to 914-941-7797.

Heidi Steinman and Carlos Vernia found the dog on a side street off Columbus Avenue. Steinman said she saw the dog about 5:30 p.m., lying with a cup of water next to him. Vernia, who owns a business near where Floyd was found, also is offering a reward for leads in the case.

Sean Dabise of the Mount Vernon Animal Shelter carefully held the dog throughout the news conference. Dabise was the first official to respond to the scene. He said Floyd was paralyzed when he first got to the dog. After he rolled the dog up in a blanket, he said, Floyd "gave him a little look" that told him the animal had the will to live.

Floyd's namesake is heavyweight boxing champion Floyd Patterson, but the dog did not receive his wounds from fighting, officials said. The dog was what Ken Ross, chief of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' humane law enforcement division, calls a "big dog," one used as bait to train the "money dogs" to fight.

Young said this is not her first encounter with a dog injured in this way. Five to six injured dogs come in a month, she said, some with red or silver tape on their tails identifying them as targets in the training of other fighting dogs.

Ross said the SPCA has found "discarded bodies, chewed-up bodies" on the street. Organized fights, or "scratch matches," can offer bets of $5,000 to $15,000, discounting side bets, he said. "Pickup fights" -unorganized matches - are on the rise on the street, he said.

Davis said that kittens recently were stolen from an animal shelter and that the thieves might intend to use them in place of dogs as bait.

Reach Marc Epstein at 914-694-5077 or