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Lenient animal control policies toward bully breeds were in background of four of five recent death-by-dog cases

             LOS ANGELES––Alex Donald Jackson, 31, of Littlerock, California, was on August 29, 2014 found guilty of second-degree murder for the pit bull mauling death of Palmdale resident Pamela Devitt, 63. The case was among at least five murder or manslaughter by dog cases recently before U.S. courts, all of them involving “bully breeds.” In three of the five cases, including the Jackson case, animal control agencies failed to impound the dogs after previous incidents. In a fourth case, an animal control agency waived shelter policy to permit a pit bull to be adopted without prior sterilization. Devitt suffered 150 to 200 puncture wounds and bled to death, according … [Read More...]


What’s a Dog For? The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy and Politics of Man’s Best Friend

by John Homans Penguin USA,  375 Hudson St.,  New York, NY 10014),  2012. 272 pages,  hardcover.  $16.00. Reviewed by Barbara Kay   Humans and dogs have travelled a long road together. Their story began thousands of years ago as two species living parallel lives in the same habitat. But with every generation, the gap between them has narrowed. For many westerners today, life without a dog to share it with is, emotionally, a barren prospect. The drive toward inter-species intimacy has always been entirely one-sided. Dogs need people for one reason only. Whether it’s leftovers at the city dump or the finest kibble money can buy, dogs survive and multiply because humans feed … [Read More...]

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Are skinned and dismembered rabbits “Whole Foods”?

          RICHMOND, California––Are skinned and dismembered rabbits “whole foods”? Whole Foods Market sells them, along with other meat, much to the disgust and outrage of SaveABunny Inc. founder and executive director Marcy Schaaf and House Rabbit Society president Margo DeMello. Schaaf and DeMello organize dprotests against the … [Read More...]

Field Mortalities in Wildlife Research: It’s Time for a Conversation

Preface by Merritt Clifton Jon Geller, DVM, whose guest column “Field Mortalities in Wildlife Research: It’s Time for a Conversation” appears below, is scarcely the first to call into question the ethics of wildlife captures for research purposes. While Geller’s critique focuses on capture techniques, why animals are captured and what happens to … [Read More...]

China’s largest bear bile producer is chickening out of the market

             HONG KONG––The Animals Asia Foundation on July 31, 2014 cautiously welcomed a report that KaiBao Pharmaceutical, the world’s largest maker of bear bile pharmaceuticals, has embarked upon a five-year-plan to develop synthetic alternatives using byproducts from poultry slaughter. Reality is that there are already synthetic … [Read More...]

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Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council hires former ASPCA president Ed Sayres

           WASHINGTON D.C.––The board of directors of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, the lobbying umbrella for pet stores and breeders, on August 20, 2014 “voted to offer the positions of President and CEO to Ed Sayres,” PIJAC announced two days later. The choice of Ed Sayres to lead PIJAC was immediately controversial both with … [Read More...]

A black-and-white issue that the humane community has yet to face

  Editorial by Merritt Clifton Reviewing the original edition of Shelter Medicine for Veterinarians & Staff in August 2004,  I noticed immediately and approvingly that it was "dedicated to Lloyd Tait,  VMD." Tait,  who in 1968 became the ASPCA's first director of shelter medicine,  "was everything one could imagine in a friend and … [Read More...]

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Tank,  pit bull euthanized after fatal attack.  (Miami-Dade Animal Services)

Four-year-old killed by pit bulls because Miami-Dade law was not enforced

        MIAMI, Florida––Javon Dade Jr., age 4, would not have been fatally mauled on August 13, 2014 if the Florida Department of Children & Families had known about the Miami-Dade County ban on pit bulls––and if Miami-Dade Animal Services had enforced the ordinance without allowing an exemption for “American bulldogs.” Javon Dade Jr. was killed by pit bulls in his father’s yard in Goulds, … [Read More...]

Cockfighting scene from Bollywood film "Rockin' Meera" (2009).

Madras High Court rules against temple cockfights

             CHENNAI––Striking at judicial corruption and moving to close the biggest legal loophole that has allowed cockfighting to persist in India, 54 years after it was nominally banned, the Madras High Court on August 21, 2014 ruled that lower courts may not direct police to permit temple cockfights, in contravention of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. Article … [Read More...]


Managing Community Cats: A Guide for Municipal Leaders

Humane Society of the U.S. Free download from: 33 pages, paperback. $10 if ordered from: Reviewed by Merritt Clifton Managing Community Cats: A Guide for Municipal Leaders is in most respects the endorsement of neuter/return feral cat … [Read More...]

Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla ) at Kadoorie Farm & Botanical Garden wildlife rehabilitation center,  Hong Kong.  (Kadoorie Farm & Botanical Garden photo)

Armor is not enough to protect pangolins

  LONDON––The International Union for the Conservation has elevated all four Asian pangolin species to “endangered” status and all four African pangolin species to “vulnerable” status. “All eight pangolin species are now listed as threatened with extinction,” Zoological Society of London conservation programs director Jonathan Baillie told Adam Vaughan of The Guardian on July 28, … [Read More...]