What is HELP FIDO?

Humane Education Leads to Progress
For Informed Dog Owners

Vision Statement: We envision a society free from discrimination, where responsibility, education, love and compassion allow humans to fully respect and understand man's best friend.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Dogs of HELP FIDO

(admin note: This is the first in a series of stories about the dogs who belong to the members of HELP FIDO. These stories will help you to understand why we do what we do. If you would like to share YOUR story - please send it to helpfido@gmail.com !)

Sasha's story:
Around November 2005, my job was managing a cancer genetics counseling program at OhioHealth. The counselor (Susan) who worked for us had a friend (Liz) who worked as a teacher in a low-income part of town, nicknamed "the bottoms" because of its propensity to flood. Liz sent this email and a bunch of photos (including this one) out to Susan and some others:
"She was tied up outside of an abandoned house down here by the school and I think that this caused her to have some separation anxiety. She likes to be by your side at all times. She probably would do best in a home with another dog or dogs . . . She is so smart it is scary and somewhat headstrong so she needs someone with alot of patience and knowledge of puppies. If I didn't already have 2 dogs, I would keep her. She really will make a loyal, loving pet for someone. "
Brian and I had another dog, Maggie, a Catahoula who we had adopted from Capital Area Humane Society. We were starting to think about getting another dog and had looked around a little but hadn't taken the steps to venture to CAHS because we knew... once we went we would surely come home with a dog! So Susan forwards this email to me...and I forwarded it to Brian. And both of us basically fell in love at first sight with that big goofy face. Over the next couple of days we learned more we learned more of her story. . . she was initially given to a young woman who ran an unofficial daycare and Liz saw all these kids running all around, hanging on Sasha and pulling on her (as kids will do). . . she weighed less than 20 pounds . . . although she was putting on weight quickly.

Liz brought Sasha by and she and Maggie got along great so we decided to keep her. Maggie was not aggressive but she definitely had enjoyed being queen of the house. Her BFF was a black lab named Madison who, while older and wiser, submitted to whatever plans Maggie had for playtime. Now here her parents are bringing in this young little upstart with endless energy...let's just say it took some work but they quickly became inseparable.

On our first weekend with Sasha, while taking a group dog-nap at a cabin in Hocking Hills, Sasha urinated in her sleep. This happened many times over the next few weeks. We called our vet (at the time -shall remain nameless) and he put her on a drug called phenylpropanilamine (PPA) for incontinence. It sorta worked - but not really.

On New Year's Day we came home from dinner with family. Brian and I each disappeared to change into comfort clothes leaving the pups unattended. I came in to find Sasha had pulled the PPA bottle off the counter and eaten an uncertain amount. Terrified, we called the ASPCA poisen control hotline. They instructed us to have Sasha drink hydrogen peroxide (which she did quite easily!). She regurgitated about 20 tablets...all about half their normal size. Meanwhile the ASCPA folks were still on the line with me and as I was talking with them Sasha's entire body turned bright red and every hair stood straight out. They told us to leave for MedVet immediately. As we rushed in they immediately took her back. If you have ever been in this situation you know the terror of sitting in the waiting room...filling out paperwork through crying eyes...not knowing what is taking place. It is awful and we felt awful! Eventually they came out to tell us that they had used charcoal and gotten whatever else might be left in her stomach - however her blood pressure was still sky high. This was complicated by the fear that when it dropped it could plummet so quickly as to send her into a coma. So they would actually have to keep her pressure elevated at least overnight. We were allowed to see her briefly - still beet red and a little crazy eyed at this point. They sent us home with assurances that they would call us with any changes. Early the next morning I called to check on her - no real changes. We went in and she LOOKED much better. As the day went on her pressure normalized and they kept her one more night for observation but released her the following day with some gentle urgings to find a new vet (which we did!). Thankfully, she recovered fully.
Sasha looked very "bully" to us and others and we were immediately faced with people's instant discriminatory looks and fears. Many people assumed she was a pit-bull. Many people acted frightened of her without getting a chance to know her. This too, provided challenges. When Sasha and I completed an all breed obedience class though, with about 20 other dogs, she was the unanimous choice for most improved! But that experience gave us a taste of what so many bully-type dog owners must face all the time.
We had about one whole year together with Maggie and Sasha. About 9 months after adopting Sasha, our dear sweet Maggie was diagnosed with kidney failure. The photo at the right was taken about 2 weeks before one of the hardest days of our life for our little family. After Maggie's passing, Sasha became depressed and was starting to get grouchy (that is the only way I can describerher). I began searching for a new addition to our family and found Sparky....but that is a story for another day!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Senior Dogs - Part One

Hello all! My last post was about puppies, so I thought I would balance it out this week and talk a little bit about the other end of the spectrum....senior dogs.

As dogs age there are many things we need to think about in terms of their well being.

What things should I expect as my dog ages?
Each dog is different and ages differently. Larger breed dogs age more quickly than smaller breed dogs. But there are some things you will generally see as every dog gets up there in years.

Slowing down - As your dog gets older you may see him/her start to slow down a bit. Generally you may notice subtle changes in how s/he gets up, lays down, and uses stairs. Is there any hesitation or stiffness? Does a change in the weather (rainy, cold) make it worse? Your dog could be suffering from arthritis. Arthritis is common in dogs as they age, particularly large breeds. Arthritis can occur in any joint, most commonly the legs, hips and spine. There are many prescription medications and joint supplements that can be given to your dog to help ease the pain and symptoms of arthritis. Discussing the problem with your veterinarian will help to determine which drug or combination of medications would be best for your best friend. Your veterinarian may recommend simple blood tests to determine if your dog is able to take certain arthritis medications.

Another potential cause of slowing down is hypothyroidism, an endocrine disorder common in dogs where the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone for your dogs metabolism to work properly. This condition is easily diagnosed with a blood tests and can be treated with proper veterinary care.

Graying around the face, muzzle - Dogs commonly show a bit of gray around the face, or muzzle, at middle age (about 5-6 years depending on the dog). Fortunately, there are no detrimental effects of this color change.

Reduced hearing - As with aging humans, it is common for dogs to lose their hearing to some degree. Sometimes they do become completely deaf. Is your dog hard to wake up after sleeping or does s/he become startled easily if you approach from behind? Does s/he not respond to their name being called? Hearing loss or deafness may be a reason for this. There isn't a lot that can be done for age-related hearing loss, but a veterinary exam should be done to rule out other medical problems, such as an infection, tumors or masses, or foreign objects in the ear. If your dog does experience hearing loss, be sure to protect him/her from hazards, such as cars, children or other animals that s/he may not hear (or see). Dogs can learn to respond well to hand signals. It is a good idea to get your dog used to using these signals when s/he is young so that if hearing loss is a problem later in life these signals can be used instead of verbal commands.

Cloudy or "bluish" eyes - As they age, dog's eyes often show a bluish transparent "haze" in the pupil area. This is usually a normal result of aging caused by the lens of the eye changing shape and is akin to changes that humans experience as they age. Our response is holding the newspaper farther away from our face to see the print. Since dogs cannot read, their response is different. You may see your dog have trouble navigating in the dark, or s/he may not be able to see things well in the distance. The medical term for this is lenticular sclerosis. This is NOT the same as cataracts. Cataracts are white and opaque and can be caused by some disease processes like Diabetes. Vision CAN be affected by cataracts. If you think your dog's eyes look different or cloudy in any way, make an appointment with your veterinarian to investigate this further.

Muscle atrophy - Mild loss of muscle mass (thickness), especially of the hind legs, may be seen with old age. Some muscle atrophy, notably on the head and the belly muscles, can signify other potentially serious diseases. Sometimes a decreased muscle thickness is noticeable when a dog has arthritis in a certain limb or in the hips. If you notice any change in your dog's muscle mass, contact your veterinarian to determine if there is a more serious reason for these changes.

Well that's all for now! Next week part two on our older "furry kids"...until then remember, people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Friday, July 25, 2008

New source for No Kill community

Happy Friday! I first heard about the new website http://www.thenokillnation.com/ on KC Dog Blog. Also, I recently finished reading Nathan Winograd's book - "Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Movement in America". What an amazing book! It tells the history of animal shelters in America and how many of the shelters that were started to be a safe haven, have instead become the place where many animals simply go to be killed. I know that sounds harsh but calling what many shelters do to animals "euthanasia" is not, in fact, euthanasia. It is killing, pure and simple. Thankfully, there is a solution and Mr. Winograd does an excellent job explaining what went wrong and how we all can participate in changing the status quo. I encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this book, available through Amazon and other places on his website.

The No Kill Nation website describes its vision as: " ... to create a portal for an online community of caring people who are working to see a day when no savable animal is senselessly killed in an animal shelter. Each and every person who cares about companion animals has a role to play in helping our nation reach this goal." It's a fantastic gathering place of contributors from various organizations around the country and a place to share ideas, etc.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Verizon's new ad

Hello everyone - haven't posted in a while, thanks to others in HELP FIDO for keeping up with the blog. You may have heard about this but Verizon Wireless has a new commercial out that shows a guy climbing a fence into a junkyard to get his cell phone and trying to avoid two pit bulls. You can see the video here. Personally, I find it outrageous and have contacted Verizon about this. Thankfully, a lot of dog owners are upset about this and the story has made the advertising magazines. To send your own views to Verizon management - here's a page with the Corporate bigwigs.
Admin edit: Marni Waldren is the regional President of the midwestern area. You can email her directly. Please make sure to let her know if you are Verizon customer. Also - BAD RAP has some nice postcards you can print out and mail in.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Puppies and Kids

Hello all. Dr M here again with more helpful tips.

Getting a new puppy when there are human kids in the house can be a very joyful and stressful situation all at once. Here are a few tips that can help to make the transition a smooth and safe one.

- First and foremost DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Think carefully about what breed of dog you want, research that breed very carefully (this is extremely important!!) to make sure it is a good fit for your family and lifestyle, decide whether you want to purchase a pure bred dog from a breeder or if you want to adopt from a shelter/animal rescue/humane society, do you want an adult dog or a young puppy, will you have the time to train a young puppy, can you financially afford a new puppy/dog, can you obtain the proper veterinary care this new member of your family needs, if you rent a home/apartment are dogs allowed and are there any restricted breeds, are there any restricted breeds in your city/state and are there any specific home owner insurance requirements for specific breeds of dogs. Do NOT impulse buy!! This is a pitfall I have almost fallen into myself. It is very easy to walk into a pet store and fall in love with every puppy. These are all very important things to think about before going out and getting that little furry bundle of joy.
- Talk to your children about dogs and puppies. You can even get a few children's books about getting a new puppy. Discuss how fragile puppies are and how important it is to train them properly and how much responsibility it is to have a dog/puppy. Involve the kids in the entire process!
- Ask children not to give their food to the puppy and not to feed him/her from the table. This is difficult with smaller children as it is common for bits of food to fall from a highchair but do your best to get this point across.
- Explain that it is very easy for a small puppy to get hurt and there are things that they should not do to and with the puppy. Small breed and "toy" puppies are VERY fragile and can be very easily injured. It is common for me to see small puppies in my office with broken legs because they were dropped or roughly handled by a child. This can be a very painful and stressful situation for the puppy and is usually a very costly experience for owners. So think twice before getting very small or "toy" dogs if you have toddlers.
- Tell children not to pull on puppy's tail, ears or legs and discourage them from touching or bothering the puppy while he/she is sleeping.
- Show kids the correct way to handle/hold/lift the new puppy. Start with small steps like allowing the child to hold the puppy in their lap while sitting on the floor or in a chair.
- Remind children that the puppy is not a child, and as such, cannot engage in certain play activities that they do like going down a slide, riding on a swing or jumping into a swimming pool.
- It is of course also important to involve the kids in the process. Give children small puppy care chores that they can easily manage. For example, filling the puppy's water dish, hanging up his/her leash after a walk, or putting the puppy's toys away at the end of the day.
- Understand that it is the adults in the household that ultimately are responsible for all of the puppy's care and overall well being.
-Teach kids to respect the puppy's "privacy" when he/she is making potty and when the puppy is in its crate.
- Always, always, always supervise children when they are interacting with a dog/puppy. This will insure that both puppy and child are safe and happy.
By following these simple tips, having a new puppy or dog in your house can truly be a joyful experience for all!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

When It Comes to Dog Laws....Everyone is the Expert

For those of you who think 'beyond' the hype of the six o'clock news....our friend Brent Toellner over at KC Dog Blog has a very elegantly written piece about the pitfalls and pratfalls of legislators and legislation. In light of the recent events in Whitehall it holds particular merit with those of us here at HELP FIDO. Check it out here and if you don't have his blog bookmarked - you should!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dr. M's Whitehall Meeting Adventure

Hello all! These are the basics of the testimony I gave on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at the Whitehall City Council meeting in response to our old friend Jackie Thompson's comments concerning "outsiders" running the city of Whitehall. She made her comments at the previous meeting on July 1st. Here goes.....

I would like to take this opportunity to address some comments made by Councilwoman Thompson at the last public meeting.

I am obviously not a resident of Whitehall. I am what Ms. Thompson refers to as an "outsider". I am, however, a Veterinarian working in Whitehall. I am the Veterinarian mentioned by Ms. Thompson during her butchered, self-edited reading of a post she found on a "pit bull" website. I have quietly sat by watching what has unfolded during meeting after meeting of this council. I have come here with many others, taking time out of our busy schedules, taking time away from out families because of our concern for the citizens and animals of Whitehall. Many of us have friends or family in Whitehall. As for me, a large majority of my clients and patients live here. That makes what happens here very important to me. At first, I attended the meetings so that I would be more aware of the situation for the sake of my clients and patients. However, as I learned more, I wanted to get involved. Living most of my life in NYC, and practicing there for several years, afforded me the opportunity to work with many "pit bull" type breeds and as such, I thought I could help to make some positive change here in Whitehall. I must say that I am very pleased with the passing of the new ordinance. But, I know that we have a long way to go with enforcement.

Although many council members expressed that it was what Whitehall citizens said to them that swayed them to vote "yes", I think that what the "outsiders" did in public and behind the scenes was also very important.

I also must say, Ms. Thompson, that you yourself have many times in this forum quoted information and statistics obtained from "outsiders", and mentioned incidents that occurred in "outside" communities when it suited you to support your point of view. However, you vehemently scorned "outsiders" when you addressed the public at the last meeting. I find this the epitome of hypocrisy.

I have spoken to many members of the Whitehall community regarding BSL, and although many are opposed to it, they are reluctant to come forward in public to the council for fear that they may become direct targets for Ms. Thompson and her supporters. This is a downright shame that people should have to feel this way. As a result, many of us "outsiders" thought it would be the right thing to step forward and assist Whitehall citizens in having their voices heard, as well as to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves...the animals.

Also, what happens in Whitehall does not necessarily stay in Whitehall. Individuals from other communities are interested in what happens here because they do not want BSL to come to their municipality.

Aside from my clients and patients residing in this city and my overall concern for them, I also pay Whitehall taxes. So, whether or not you like the fact that I live elsewhere, that alone should make my opinion matter to you.

In addition, I think that Whitehall residents, council and most importantly the MEDIA should be less concerned with "outsiders" who are trying to make positive changes and be more concerned with impostors who are touting imaginary credentials and posing as "experts". Just because someone gives themselves a title does not make it so. Before believing what a person says and taking what they say as gospel, or better yet, putting what they say in print and reporting it to the public as fact, please do your homework and check into their background. Whether they claim to be a veterinarian, behaviorist, an animal rescuer, or what have you.

I think that now that this animal ordinance has passed, EVERYONE needs to work hard to put it into practice to make Whitehall a safer place for its citizens. My hope is that Whitehall will become a model for other communities to follow when it comes to bite prevention, safety, public education and proper animal care.

Thank for your time.

Well, that's it folks. I also have a couple of side notes to add. During my reading of this statement as well as while other individuals (like our own Adam, and a Whitehall citizen who has been very active in the recent events) were reading their own statements, Ms. Thompson donned her familiar smirk and folded arms and occasionally whispered to fellow councilwoman Leslie LaCourte. She was her usual disrespectful self. She then accused the public last night of attacking her and continued on her tirade against "pit bulls", the Whitehall city budget, etc. UNTIL....city attorney Mike Shannon left quietly (I'm not sure if that was in response to Ms. Thompson's comments) and then THE MAYOR pretty much stormed out without a word during her usual anti "pit bull" escapade, followed by the city auditor Kim Maggard. That cut Ms. Thompson short as she seemed quite embarrassed. I never thought anything could stop her ranting...but this pretty much did it! Overall a very entertaining meeting. That's all for now!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Genetics and Dogs or…HELP FIDO’s DNA Study

This week there has been quite a buzz in the news about a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania on canine aggression. Brent Toellner over at KCDogBlog did a great write up on it that, if you haven’t read, you should do so now! A major problem that I have with the whole story, as covered by the media, is that the study has yet to be published. As far back as May of this year you can find references to it being published “this week” in the Applied Animal Behavioral Science journal. However, I have access to journals and I can tell that even in the upcoming August edition it does not appear. I am a HUGE believer in reading the actual science article in a peer reviewed journal before I form an opinion. Unlike many of our elected officials…I believe in getting my facts from the source and not from a media account.
But I digress.
From what I can discern from the limited information available so far about this study, it shores up what many anti-BSL advocates have been saying for a long time…you cannot create policy based solely upon the breed of a dog because breed means little. You MUST evaluate each and every dog on its individual behaviors. Genetics has always fascinated me. In my former “day job” position at a Columbus healthcare system I managed the Cancer Genetic Counseling program. Being a young cancer survivor, I was tested early on for a genetic mutation associated with breast cancer. I tested negative, however because I had great counseling I understand that this does not mean I don’t have some sort of familial condition that might have put me at risk. In other words, as much as has been learned about genetics…the unknown is far greater. That is how I came to be interested in canine genetics and the various breed tests and mixed breed “panel” tests that are currently being marketed.
Then a story aired on “60 Minutes” about human genetics and ancestor discovery. A key point made in this story is that you don’t have to go back very far in your own pedigree to see that one individual can have multiple influences such that it is nearly impossible to nail down where you “came from.” For every generation your DNA sources double: 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, 16 great great-grandparents, 32 great great-grandparents…you get the picture. In case you don't - if you go back just 20 generations you have more than one million grandparents!!
Along those lines, HELP FIDO has embarked on a research study looking at breed identification subjectively and with DNA. The hypothesis is that, absent a pedigree, one cannot determine with any consistent accuracy the predominant breed of any one dog. Therefore, it is unconscionable to set policy based on a breed rather than behavior, because the penalty of being wrong is a death sentence for the dog in question.
We are doing this by collecting DNA results, photos, and narratives from owners of dogs of any breeds (with a focus on those dogs determined to be bully breeds). One outcome of this project will be to analyze how DNA results correlate with previously put-upon breed determinations. A perfect example of this comes from Jennifer Thomas over at happypitbull.com. She posted a story about her DNA test results for Dozer and I commented back about our study, shamelessly soliciting for her results, which she has generously supplied. Reprinted here with her permission is some fascinating information about what Dozer has been labeled:

"Dozer is usually somewhere between 80 and 87 pounds (he should be 80 lbs at healthy weight) and stands about 26 inches at the shoulder. Though it’s hard to tell in the photos, Dozer’s body is really not very wide or muscular; it reminds me more of a Lab’s body than a pit bull’s body.When we adopted him (as a little puppy), the shelter said he was a purebred pit bull, and told us he wouldn’t get larger than about 50 lbs. We went for a second opinion when he was about 8 months old, and a pit bull rescue group worker said he was not a pit bull at all—he was a Dogo Argentino. Though everyone at our vet office has generally acknowledged he’s a pit bull mix… Another vet .. said he was obviously a 'Lab mix of some sort.' And one time, a really clueless stranger at Petsmart marveled at our 'white Rottweiler.' "

And Dozer’s DNA results? According to his Mars Mixed Breed Panel test “Dozer ancestry contains distant traces of American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier, Bulldog, and Dalmatian. There are also faint signals from other breeds which are not strong enough to identify.” And yet in some cities in our country Dozer would be banned because he might possibly have some physical characteristics matching those of a pit bull.
Another outcome will be to develop a test using photos and DNA results. This test will then be taken by animal control officers, dog wardens, veterinarians and techs, animal rescue workers, and lay people. The test will be on one’s ability to determine the predominant breed of a dog based on the physical characteristics (photos) alone. Unlike the “Find the Pit Bull” tests which give you a 50% chance of guessing correctly, this test will ask the subject to determine the dogs’ predominant breed. We will then analyze the results looking at consistency associated with training, background, education level, etc. versus the DNA results.
If you would like to participate or have further questions about the study, please contact us at helpfido@gmail.com.
Fascinating stuff!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Shame, Shame, Shame

A local apartment complex will be added to the Wall of Shame.

Two days ago I received an urgent call for help. A man disabled by mental illness is facing immediate eviction. Is he being evicted because he is a disruptive tenant? No. Is it because he doesn't pay his rent on time? No. The reason for his eviction - his 9 1/2 year old prescribed, emotional service dog looks too much like a pit bull according to the complex manager. This dog wasn't identified or evaluated by any animal professional in order to make this determination. In fact, the dog's Vet states the dog is nothing more than a mutt. The complex manager has made this determination which will greatly impact the life of this man and his dog.
(Perhaps I should ask her to do the locking jaw test)

The details of this situation makes it that more shameful. This man has lived in this apartment for NINETEEN years. The dog, who is recovering from mammary cancer and spends her days laying on the couch watching tv, has been living in this apartment for nine years. In nine years there has never been any type of aggression issues with humans or animals.

When this gentleman renewed his lease in November 2007, he thought he was renewing the same lease that he had signed for the past 18 years. The manager pointed out the changes in monthly rental fees but never mentioned the newly added breed restrictions or that his dog would be considered one of the disallowed breeds. Instead, seven months later, he is slapped with an eviction notice.

What is even more shameful - the Department of Fair Housing allows this type of treatment of disabled tenants.

Shame on you CSC Apartments and shame on you Department of Fair Housing.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cleaning up after the Councilwoman

I am sure many of you are familiar with the lunacy we have been dealing with in Whitehall in the form of Jackie Thompson. Apparently Jackie has found a new website to cozy up with on those long, lonely nights and it is inspiring her to send out more letters to the editor filled with twisted statistics and false information. The following letter is to once again correct her inaccuracies and mistruths that were published in the July 3rd issue of The Other Paper.

Response to Councilwoman Thompson

It is always interesting to read the opinions of those who rely on news snippets and inaccurate data to drive their fear. I would like to correct some of the inaccuracies and add a bit of clarification.

The pit bull is not a breed of dog, but instead the term has come to be widely used to describe a dog that has an appearance similar to an American Pit Bull terrier or American Staffordshire terrier. Since other breeds of dog physically resemble these breeds, mistaken identity is frequently made and consequently numbers are inflated for the number of attacks involving so-called "pit bulls". Further, correct breed identification becomes more problematic when the dog involved in an attack is a mixed-breed. Hence, ambiguity exists when using the term "pit bull". Note that other data collection techniques (animal control reports, police reports, witness observation) used for breed identification purposes in dog attacks may also be flawed for these reasons. Recently genetic DNA testing has become available to help with breed determination. Preliminary DNA studies have found that approximately 1 out of every 10 dogs identified as “pit bull” actually has any bully breed DNA at all. This potentially means that 90% of these dogs are misidentified.

Ms. Thompson states that "The American Temperament Test Society argument does not stand up to close scrutiny. The ATTS was not set up to score house pets. It was devised to test dogs for police and guarding type work." Actually, according to Thomas Szebenyi, the Chief Tester of the ATTS, “The test was created to help breeders remove dogs from their breeding stock that have bad temperament. The test is open to all purebred dogs and spayed/neutered mixed breed dogs.” The ATTS tests dogs on a number of behaviors to determine the temperament and stability of a dog, not specific to suitability for police or guarding dogs. A dog that is fearful or overly timid when facing specific stimuli is not a sound, stable dog. Aggressiveness when facing stimuli would be another indicator temperament issues. This test is to determine if the dog has the correct, healthy response to the stimuli.

Ms. Thompson also states that the UK Dangerous Dog Act names the pit bull terrier but not the Staffordshire Terrier or the American Staffordshire Terrier in the Act, thus giving dog owners a loophole. While she is correct in that the Act only specifically lists the pit bull terrier, the UK Dangerous Dog Act classifies dangerous dogs by "type" not by breed label. This means that whether a dog is prohibited under the Act will depend on a judgment about its physical characteristics. To highlight this fact the UK even distributes brochures with pictures and descriptions of the prohibited breed "types."

Ms. Thompson further states that she would like to see bite incidents reported by severity. On this we can agree. I would like to take it a step further and have the dog owners’ responsibility placed in the report, as in the recent incident in New York when the angry boyfriend kicked out a window air conditioner and tossed a frightened dog into a room of children. I would also like to know how many prior incidents the owners have had regarding animal control violations.

To correct Ms. Thompson's belief that there has not been a pit bull related death in Ohio since BSL was enacted. There was a pit bull related death in 1992. Additionally, since BSL was enacted in Ohio, a Husky and a Chow killed a 7 year old, an American Bulldog killed a 5 year old, a Wolf-Dog killed a 5 year old, a German Shepherd and a mixed breed killed an infant, a Rottweiler killed a 54 year old woman and a Rottweiler killed a 40 year old man.

Ms. Thompson also brings up fatalities in the state of Texas. Texas which is the 2nd most populous state had the highest rate of fatal dog attacks in 2007, which were not limited to pit bull type dogs. There were some commonalities. All of the dogs were intact and most were chained, outside dogs, not "family dogs" as it was claimed. Ms. Thompson attributes the higher rate of fatalities in Texas to their lack of BSL. However in 2007 there were 44 states with no pit bull fatalities that did not have BSL enacted.

She also brings up Council Bluffs, Iowa as a success story. Of course pit bull bites are going to decrease if you decrease the population. What she fails to mention is that while there were fewer bites by pit bulls due to the decreased population, attacks by other breeds increased. The question shouldn't be "did pit bull bites go down", but "did public safety improve?" The answer would be a resounding, no.

It also needs to be pointed out that there is no difference between the injuries inflicted by a pit bull versus any other breed of similar size. For nearly two decades the National Canine Research Council has investigated and analyzed fatal dog attack injuries. It is important to note that NCRC has researched EVERY fatal and/or severe attack for which data is available. No other individual or group has even approached the volume of information that NCRC has collected and analyzed. The NCRC states that it is impossible to determine the breed of dog by reviewing an autopsy report or photo, as no breed of dog has a particular method of attack or inflicts an exclusive type of injury. It is virtually impossible for anyone to match the breed of dog with the fatal injuries - as such - claims that one breed of dog inflicts injuries unlike other breeds have no merit.

Any time anyone is hurt by a dog it is an unfortunate situation that should have never occurred. I do know that the “pit bull lobby”, as Jacquelyn Thompson likes to call those of us who are pushing for stronger laws requiring responsible ownership of all breeds, reached out to a recent victim of a local dog attack to be certain that the victim had the appropriate care and assistance while recovering from injuries. I personally have been pushing for much harsher penalties for owners of animals which have attacked as well as pushing for stronger regulation of dogs which have shown threatening tendencies. I have no tolerance for irresponsible people that allow their animals to hurt others and I believe Ms. Thompson would be quite surprised at some of the measures I would like to see taken. In fact, I invite Ms. Thompson to meet with me to discuss these ideas.

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July Safety Tips

Hello all! Dr. Mandi here with some 4th of July safety tips for our furry canine friends. Independence Day celebrations can be great fun for us humans, but the noise, visual stimulation and multitude of BBQ leftovers and table scraps can be traumatic and harmful for dogs. By being aware and following a few simple tips, EVERYONE can have a wonderful holiday experience.

DOGS DO NOT LIKE FIREWORKS - Simple enough! Bangs, explosions, bright and flashing lights, screams of delighted children and other 4th of July noises can create confusion and fear for our furry friends. Dogs can occasionally run away from home during these festivities because they are fearful. A dogs sense of hearing is much more acute than a humans - more than 10 times as sensitive! So imagine how scary fireworks can be for them. Also, there is the possibility that some dogs could mistake fireworks for toys and attempt to run after them causing them serious injury. So it is important to KEEP DOGS INSIDE during the festivities for their protection.

KEEP DOGS AWAY FROM DOORS - Because dogs can be under significant stress during this time of year they could possibly cause unnecessary injury to visitors and could also dart out of the door and get lost. Also make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations (especially Rabies) and has a current tag or license on his/her collar, or are microchipped in case any of these situations occur.

CREATE A SPECIAL AREA WHERE YOUR DOG FEELS SAFE - Dogs are den animals. This means they will feel safe in a kennel (dog crate) or small enclosed area like under the bed. This is why dogs hide in places like this when they are frightened. Introducing your dog to a kennel (crate) will create a feeling of safety for them and calm them. I know that my dogs feel much better during the 4th of July or thunderstorms when they are in their kennels with their toys and some fresh water. Also, it is important to try to not make a big deal about the fireworks/noise. When you treat your dog differently during these events you inadvertently reinforce fearful behavior.

KEEP TV OR RADIO ON - This will reduce the noise and bright flashes from scaring your dog.

NO TABLE SCRAPS/BONES - Although it may be tempting to share our Independence Day goodies with our furry friends this can cause some serious harm to them. Bones area ALWAYS a no-no as they can puncture internal organs or cause intestinal obstruction which can lead to serious illness or death. Any type of "human food" treats that are outside a dog's usual diet can cause vomiting and diarrhea which can lead to dehydration, low blood sugar and other serious complications, especially in small dogs. Keep a handful of your dogs treats nearby to give him/her instead of table treats.

CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN - If your dog is so fearful that he is causing himself injury or becoming ill, please call your veterinarian. Your vet may want to prescribe medication/sedative to help your dog cope with their fearfulness.

Following these simple steps can help everyone to have a safe and happy Independence Day. Everyone have a wonderful 4th of July!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Legislation Passes In Whitehall

Hello all. Dr. Mandi here to fill everyone in on what happened at the July 1st meeting of the Whitehall City Council. So, first things first...VICTORY. Amendments to Chapter 505 of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Whitehall entitled "Animals" were finally adopted. There was only ONE vote against the ordinance and it came from our old friend, you guessed it, Jackie Thompson. Councilwoman Leslie Lacorte surprisingly voted "yes" and added something to the effect that she hopes this doesn't come back against "us".

What does this mean for HELP FIDO and our supporters you might ask? Well it's really just the tip of the iceberg. Now our real work will begin! Getting the legislation passed was only round one. Enforcement is going to be the hard part. Mayor Wolfe will need to get to work on appointing an appeals board, enforcement decisions will need to be made, and word needs to get out to the Whitehall community that there are programs to help them comply with the new laws and to help them to be responsible pet owners. At HELP FIDO we will make ourselves available to help with all steps of the process.

The passing of the revised ordinance wasn't the only notable occurrence at the meeting. As usual, Ms. Thompson was very vocal concerning her opinions on BSL as well as her opinions on HELP FIDO's involvement in Whitehall. She quoted a letter written to a Pit Bull website concerning the drafting of the new legislation which mentioned that a majority of HELP FIDO members were active in helping to re-write existing Whitehall animal laws and that we did not reside in Whitehall. She said that she was "outraged" and "never thought she would see the day when outsiders would come in and dictate how we should live here in Whitehall." What Ms. Thompson doesn't understand is that what happens in Whitehall doesn't stay in Whitehall. The legislation that is passed in that community has the potential to affect all of the surrounding communities. So if BSL is passed in Whitehall, many surrounding communities may consider following the same path. In fact, Ms. Thompson was trying to follow the path of Bexley and Reynoldsburg, and in doing so would not have been a doing a thing to help citizens and instead punishing good responsible members of the community.

It seems funny how Ms. Thompson uses examples and "facts" from communities and municipalities outside of Whitehall when it suits and supports her arguments, however, she is reluctant to let "outsiders" voice their opinion. Isn't that being a bit hypocritical? Hmmmmm Ms. Thompson?

Ms. Thompson also mentioned an "altercation" that occurred at a Whitehall music in the park event a couple of weeks ago. Again she failed to get her facts straight before preaching to the council. She made it sound like there was an incident between several "pit bulls", when in fact the altercation mentioned was between the dog owners and the dogs NEVER got involved. In fact, they never misbehaved or showed aggression in any way. IT WAS THE OWNERS. As usual owner irresponsibility caused the problem and the reputation of the breed suffers as a result.

She also explained that Whitehall is in their "current mess" because previous leaders made poor decisions and the passing of the new animal legislation is, in her opinion, another one. Now here's a question...if Ms. Thompson is so concerned about making poor decisions and is worried about the safety of "her" community wouldn't she have voted yes to the new ordinance hoping that it would at least provide for some increase in safety and quality of life of the residents of Whitehall? Hmmmm.........

There was also some concern by several council members regarding a letter in the Whitehall News that many thought was slanderous towards Ms. Thompson. Here's the link http://tinyurl.com/3z6mhx . Read the letter and decide for yourself but I think it wasn't slanderous at all. Calling for the removal of Ms. Thompson from the city council is simply one person's opinion, nothing slanderous about that.....we live in a democracy where free speech is a right....GOD BLESS AMERICA. Ms. Thompson takes advantage of expressing her opinion about lots of things every chance she gets.....she gives opinions about BSL, about "outsiders", about other city council members, "pit bull" owners (or should we say evil doers)..... Slanderous Ms. Thompson? You know what the say, "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones", I hope you have a lot of Windex Ms. Thompson to clean all of that glass.

Well, that's all for now folks. Onward and upward to continue helping HELP FIDO to fight the good fight in ALL communities.

These are the dogs of HELP FIDO...our dogs...this is why we are here...