Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The End of Rats?


As much as my friends love to hunt rats, the world would be a much better place if rats were eradicated from our cities and farms.

The good news is that this day may soon be at hand. As The Guardian notes, the work of remarkable American researcher Loretta Mayer, who went back to school at age 46.

Solving the rat problem by putting them on the pill sounds ridiculous. Until recently no pharmaceutical product existed that could make rats infertile, and even if it had, there was still the question of how it could be administered. But if such a thing were to work, the impact could be historic. Rats would die off without the need for poison, radar or coyotes.

SenesTech, which is based in Flagstaff, Arizona, claims to have created a liquid that will do exactly that. In tests conducted in Indonesian rice fields, South Carolina pig farms, the suburbs of Boston and the New York City subway, the product, called ContraPest, caused a drop in rat populations of roughly 40% in 12 weeks. This autumn, for the first time, the company is making ContraPest available to commercial markets in the US and Europe. The team at SenesTech believes it could be the first meaningful advance in the fight against rats in a hundred years, and the first viable alternative to poison. Mayer was blunt about the implications: “This will change the world.”


The article goes on to note that the The Pill for Rats was an almost accidental outcome that came out of working on a better solution for studying the effect of heart disease on women. It seems Mayer was working on a way to push rats and mice into early-onset menopause when she was contacted by a colleague.

Three years into her efforts, Mayer was contacted by Patricia Hoyer, a colleague in Phoenix, who said that she had stumbled across a chemical that seemed to make mice infertile, without having any other effects. Together, Mayer and Hoyer synthesised a new compound, which they called Mouseopause.

Shortly after Mayer and Hoyer published their work on Mouseopause in 2005, Mayer received a telephone call from a veterinarian in Gallup, New Mexico, who had read about her research. The Navajo reservation where he worked was overrun by wild dogs. There were too many to spay and neuter, so he was euthanising almost 500 a month. “If you could do for a dog what you can do for a mouse, I could stop killing dogs out here,” he told her.

Mayer describes herself as “extremely connected to animals, dogs in particular”. When she arrived in Gallup and saw the piled corpses, she agreed to test Mouseopause on an initial group of 18 reservation dogs. “I held up that first puppy, who I called Patient Zero,” she told me, “and I said, ‘I don’t know what this is gonna do to you, but you will live on a satin pillow the rest of your days.” The injection made the dogs infertile, but left them otherwise happy and healthy. (Mayer brought home all 18 dogs and built a kennel in her yard to house them until she could find homes for them with families she knew personally. Patient Zero, renamed Cheetah, lived with her until she died of old age – though the pillow was fleece.)

So the chemical that makes mice and rats sterile can work on dogs too? Fantastic! But how about if you are not injecting the drug, and simply feeding it to female rats? It turn out that when delivered in food, it was not as effective on a larger animal. But then something remarkable happened.

Eventually, out of a mix of curiosity and desperation, she fed it to both males and females. The result was dramatic. It turns out that the triptolide destroyed sperm – the males became sterile almost immediately after ingesting the formula. This was a total surprise: no one had ever tested triptolide on male rats before. It was “stunning”, Dyer told me. “Totally unpredictable.” Test after test: no pups. She sighed. “Man, you should have seen the No Pup party.” After three years of research and development, they had a product that worked and did not harm other animals. (The active ingredients are metabolised by the rat’s body in 10 minutes, which means that any predator that eats it is not affected, and the compound quickly breaks down into inactive ingredients when it hits soil or water.)

ContraPest, the finished product, is viscous and sweet. Electric pink and opaque, it tastes like nine packets of saccharine blended into two tablespoons of kitchen oil. “Rats love it,” Dyer said. “Love it.” Mayer, who taste-tested every version during the development process, could not say the same for herself.

In 2013, New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) reached out to Mayer after hearing about SenesTech’s early trials to ask whether the company would test ContraPest in New York’s subways as part of a citywide effort to find new, more successful alternatives to poison.

...Mayer dispatched two of SenesTech’s youngest scientists, women in their 20s, to New York in order to test whether the formula was appealing enough. Would New York rats prefer ContraPest to water or pizza? Wearing their best approximation of hazmat suits to protect themselves from the filth, the scientists patrolled the subway’s trash storage rooms under Grand Central Station. They planted bait boxes filled with feed stations of ContraPest and then stood nearby, counting the rats that came in and out with clickers in order to track how many rats were taking the bait. For six months, they baited and counted, washing their suits at the end of each day in bleach.

The two young women went home to Arizona with good news: not only did the New York rats drink ContraPest, the drink actually worked on them. The test confirmed the highest hopes of the company – there was an alternative to poison that would work, even in New York City, and they had found it.

So is this the end of rats? Not yet. This stuff will have to get FDA approval, but it's pretty clear that this stui\ff is a game changer, and maybe not just for rats, but for feral dogs too. Could it work on feral cats? How about deer in areas where they are overcrowded? How about feral pigs and horses? How about people?

The mind reels at the wonderful possibilities.

The Wreckage that is the AKC


Good Lord! Look at the bloodhound that STARTS this AKC promo. This dog has completely WRECKED eyes. Apparently, so too does the AKC.

Monday, September 26, 2016

This is How You Win


Hillary has failed where both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump excelled: She has not framed the debate.

Facts don’t matter if you have a frame, even if the frame is a lie. Donald Trump knows that.

Trump has no facts and, in fact, he has a complete contempt for them.

But Trump has a frame, and that alone has been enough for him to close the gap.

Trump’s frame is that America is weak, failing, impotent, and sliding down hill.

He tells us that the American Dream is dead, and he bangs on the strings of fear, especially the fear of lower middle-class white men who suspect that their era of assumed entitlement is over.

America is in decline?

It’s complete nonsense, of course -- the kind of lie the Russians and the Chinese used to spin in order to try to erode American influence overseas.

But who needs Russian or Chinese propaganda machines now that Donald Trump is on stage?.

Putin has found his sock puppet, and the fact that is has orange hair and orange skin does not seem to matter.

Someone needs to ask Trump what military is better? What economy is better? What country does Donald Trump wish he lived in rather than the United States, and can we buy him a one-way ticket to that destination?

U.S. unemployment has never been lower, and the stock market has never been higher.

More Americans have health care than ever before. More Americans are going to college than ever before.

But none of this matters, because Trump has ginned up a frame of fear, and a lot of Americans like to be scared -- they pay extra money for that kind of thing down at the amusement parks.

The obvious antidote to fears based on lies is American pride based on honest facts, but the political Left has never been very good at patriotism, and it shows at the moment.

Is everything in America perfect? Of course not.

We are Americans and we will always seek to improve.

But is a lying, narcissistic, Putin-loving, hate-mongering gas bag the way forward? It is not.

American needs control of its borders, but it does not need to fan the flames of hate to do that.

America needs to balance its budget, but it does not need lessons from a bankrupt tax cheat who depends on federal subsidies and bailouts.

America needs a coherent foreign policy that stands for free markets and free people, but it does not need an apologist or a cheerleader for dictators in Russia or North Korea.

Most of all, America needs someone who is not an emotional cripple who can be baited into intemperant action with a tweet.

A lot of Americans want to "shake things up," but the wrong way to do that is with a 20-megaton nuclear bomb.

Donald Trump, quite literally, does not understand that. At his national security briefings, he kept asking why he could not just use a nuclear bomb whenever he wanted.

The exasperating part of all this is that Bernie Sanders had a frame. All that Hillary had to do was to reach out and embrace it.

Fight corporate corruption.

Go after the fraudsters, liars, and gilded CEO's who pay their workers peanuts while jetting around in corporate jets with their name on it.

Trump is a perfect example of the type -- a made for TV villain who is sticking it to taxpayers and construction workers, small businesses, and working mothers.

He is a New York effete; a rich kid with a gold-plated bathroom who has never walked a farm field in his life, and who has never loaded anything -- not even groceries into the back seat of a station wagon.

Hillary could be making mince-meat of Trump if she embraced Bernie's frame. The problems is that Hillary does not really believe in Bernie's frame.

It's not that she's in love with corporate liars, cheats and theives; it's that she **knows** so many of them. It's not an accident that she and Bill were both at Donald Trumps's wedding -- this is the crowd she has hung with for the last 30 years. Hillary and Bill may intellectually and emotionally care about Americans at the bottom of the US economic ladder, but they also do not want to paint with too broad a brush when it comes to corporate corruption and profiteering.

And so, instead of painting with too broad a brush, she has not painted with any brush at all.

What will Hillary do to the banksters? To the pharmacy phraudsters?

Who knows? More to the point, who believes?

It's getting pretty late in the day for Hillary to give us a reason to vote for her.

Right now, her message seems to be "I'm not Donald Trump," but it's not clear that's going to be enough to win. To win, she needs to embrace a simple frame, and that frame needs to be patriotic and the OPPOSITE of Donald's Trump's twisted puffery for the KBG's Vladimir Putin.

America is great right now. Love it or leave it Donald Trump. Here's an open airline ticket to go fly anywhere else in the world that will have you.


If she was smart, she would have the ticket bought and paid for, and hand it to him on stage.

That's how you win.

The Drug Expiration Scam


Are you throwing money down the drain? Most of the common antibiotics prescribed for humans are exactly the same as the ones used for dogs, and the pill, capsule and gel-caps versions of these antibiotics are good for many years past their expiration date. T

The fact that expiration dates on pill antibiotics are a marketing fraud has been widely know for years. In an article entitled "Drug Expiration Dates - Do They Mean Anything?", The Harvard Heath Letter summarizes a 20-year study done by the FDA for the U.S. military:

It turns out that the expiration date on a drug does stand for something, but probably not what you think it does. Since a law was passed in 1979, drug manufacturers are required to stamp an expiration date on their products. This is the date at which the manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug.

Most of what is known about drug expiration dates comes from a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration at the request of the military. With a large and expensive stockpile of drugs, the military faced tossing out and replacing its drugs every few years. What they found from the study is 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.... So the expiration date doesn't really indicate a point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use.... Is the expiration date a marketing ploy by drug manufacturers, to keep you restocking your medicine cabinet and their pockets regularly? You can look at it that way.

The Wall Street Journal put this story on their front page a few years back. But don't take my word for it: You can read the article, in its entirety, right here.

Do drugs really stop working after the date stamped on the bottle? Fifteen years ago, the U.S. military decided to find out. Sitting on a $1 billion stockpile of drugs and facing the daunting process of destroying and replacing its supply every two to three years, the military began a testing program to see if it could extend the life of its inventory. The testing, conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, ultimately covered more than 100 drugs, prescription and over-the-counter. The results, never before reported, show that about 90% of them were safe and effective far past their original expiration date, at least one for 15 years past it.

In light of these results, a former director of the testing program, Francis Flaherty, says he has concluded that expiration dates put on by manufacturers typically have no bearing on whether a drug is usable for longer. Mr. Flaherty notes that a drug maker is required to prove only that a drug is still good on whatever expiration date the company chooses to set. The expiration date doesn't mean, or even suggest, that the drug will stop being effective after that, nor that it will become harmful.

Medscape has posts here and here (PDF).

The U.S. Department of Defense has a post here.

The AMA has noted that antibiotics are good for years past their shelf life and has raised questions about how much medicine is being tossed down the sink.

So how come so few veterinarians seem to know this?

The answer, I think, is illuminating.

You see, on some important issues, veterinarians are often taught very little. The entire "course" given on canine nutrition, for example, may be a single lecture from a dog food salesman. The lecture on flea and tick remedies may be a lecture from a Merial salesperson who will detail "the spread" to be made from selling non-prescription Frontline as if it were a prescription drug (hint: it's not).

As for antibiotics, vets will learn by heart the branded and generic names of various drugs, and what they treat, but they may not learn other essential information.

And, as alarming as it may sound, that's true for many human doctors too.

Pharmacist and U.S. Army Colonel George Crawford, who used to be in charge of the Department of Defense's pharmaceutical Shelf Life Extension Program (SLEP) notes :

"Nobody tells you in pharmacy school that shelf life is about marketing, turnover and profits."

Right. Apparently no one does in veterinary school either.

You would think veterinarians and doctors might learn about this stuff in a Continuing Medical Education (CME) course, right?

Except there is a little joker in the deck.

You see, those CME courses are heavily subsidized by drug and vaccine makers, who help pay the speaker fees and travel costs for many of the lecturers.

Drug and vaccine makers make money when people throw good medicine down the drain, and they make money when dogs are over-vaccinated.

The business of canine health care is business, and good health and integrity often take the hind post.

Everyone in the system -- vets, pharmacies, and manufacturers -- profit when dogs are over-vaccinated and non-expired medicines are thrown down the drain.

Billions of dollars are wasted every year as a consequence.

The problem with over-vaccination and flushing good medicines down the drain is more than money, of course.

Throwing good antibiotics down the drain unnecessarily adds to the antibiotic load in our sewers, streams and rivers -- the very kind of thing that can help establish a beach head for real pathology in our own communities.

For those looking for information on antibiotic type and dosage to treat simple flesh wounds, urinary tract infections, and ear infection on your dogs, see this link on the main web site.

For those looking to obtain antibiotics without prescription, simply look in almost any dog supply catalogue in the country (see here, here, here, here for example) or simply go to Amazon.com (see here) and order. 

Antibiotics without prescription have been sold to treat common farm and kennel ailments for years, and they work fine with a few caveats:  know what you are dosing for, know how what you should be dosing with, know how much to dose, and know how long to maintain the dosing regime.   A barbed-wire flesh wound or cut foot is a pretty simple thing to diagnose, but some others are not.  If you are in doubt about what is going on with your dog, go to a vet.
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Your Lawn Has Been Invaded by Foreigners


The dandelion is a foreigner, first imported to the U.S., from Europe, on the Mayflower.  Dandelions were seen as both a food crop and a medicinal cure-all. The leaves and roots are a relatively powerful diuretic that replaces the potassium and other trace minerals usually lost with the use of a diuretic.  The roots can be roasted to make a poor coffee substitute, and the young leaves can be eaten as a salad or pickled.  The name is French, and means "teeth of a lion" in reference to the serrated leaves.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

How Did Dog Shelters Become Slaughter Houses?


 From the December 2011 edition of Dogs Today.  Illustration by Kevin Brockbank.


Why do we call places that kill dogs ‘shelters’ or ‘rescues’?

Like so many things, the answer goes back to the Victorian era.

The goal back then was to eradicate rabies, and the most obvious place to start was to round up all the stray dogs and kill them as quickly as possible.

Pet dog owners were instructed to always have their dogs muzzled, and to never have them off leash, which meant any dog found un-muzzled or off-leash was fair game for the dog catcher.

In the U.K. and in the U.S., dog catchers and dog pounds were subsidized by taxpayer funds, and budgets were always thin. Pound operators were told to keep overhead costs low or risk cutting salaries, and the simplest way to do that was to rush dogs to their death, thereby lowering food and staff costs.

And so, within a week of being caught, most stray dogs were summarily shot, gassed, clubbed, or drowned in wire cages shoved off the dock.


SELLING DEATH FOR 100 YEARS

The good news is that rabies was eradicated from the U.K. by 1903. The bad news is that by then dog pounds were institutions with budgets, employees, real estate, and a fully developed ethos. Animal welfare had become a social cause and a business, and while improved treatment of horses and cattle was a concern, it was the plight of dogs and cats that really opened up the purses.

Of course one had to treat the issue gingerly! One could not be raising money to help subsidize a canine slaughterhouse, and so a new term was coined – a ‘shelter’ or “rescue’. Let people guess what actually happened there!

It should be said that from the beginning the ‘humane movement’ and the Kennel Club had a detente.

The Kennel Club did not decry the movement for pocketing taxpayer money for killing hundreds of thousands of healthy dogs, while the humane movement did not criticize the Kennel Club for encouraging the breeding of pedigree puppies. Both groups recognized that they were trying to milk the same group of upwardly mobile middle class and high-value donors, and both found it convenient to pitch their messages along class lines. Better people had pedigree dogs, while loose mutts and cross-breeds were the unfortunate canine flotsam cast up by the actions of the ignorant and the lower class.

In fundraising appeals, the humane movement always suggested that more money could ‘save’ a dog or a cat down at the ‘shelter” or ‘rescue,’ but the mechanics of such an operation were always vague, and for a very good reason; only a small percentage of money was ever spent on dog and cat welfare. Instead, the large humane organizations became almost pure legislative and political organizations. Stray dogs and cats? That was the job of the City pound, and never mind if that job involved endless killing.

If a consumer actually wanted to get a dog from the pound, of course, he or she had to cross the railroad tracks, pass by the town dump, and go down a dirt road or trash-strewn street to a nondescript building. There they would find a double row of cages filled with barking dogs. Each of these dogs had only a few hours or a few days to live before they were to be shot, gassed, drowned, or injected. If you wanted a particular dog, it was best to take it with you now!

Of course, the average person looking to get a pet for their child never considered subjecting them to the horror of such an experience. Instead most picked up an all breed book, flipped through the glossy pictures and romantic canine descriptions, and then thumbed through the local newspaper and dog magazine advertisements to find a breeder. Then, on a Saturday afternoon, the family headed off to a house or farm where cash was exchanged for a wiggling eight-week old package of fur.

What about the dogs at the pound, which had now been rebranded as a ‘shelter’? Out of sight and out of mind, they were dead and on the land fill.


THE GOOD NEWS IS THINGS ARE CHANGING:

The good news is things are changing.

In the last decade or so, the world of dog shelters has changed, and it is still changing.

To start, people have come to understand that the big direct mail organizations do very little at the local level to help shelter dogs and cats. If you are interested in helping those animals, stay clear of the national organizations and give to a local shelter where you have some chance of knowing where the money actually goes.

Second, the shelters themselves have come to realize that they need to be in the ‘sales” business. To that end they are creating more “store front” rescues and shelters which are less depressing and more attractive to young families with children.

Third, the social cues we now give each other about pedigree dogs and about cross-breeds have changed. While pedigree dogs were once seen as a sign of an upscale and informed consumer, the message going out now is that pedigree dogs are more likely to be expensive, inbred health messes, and ownership of such dogs is more likely a sign of pretension than sophistication.

Fourth, more and more people are spaying and neutering their dogs, and fewer unaltered dogs are running around at large. As a consequence, the number of unplanned litters has dropped remarkably in the last 20 years.

Fifth, the Internet has made it easy for shelters and rescues to post pictures and descriptions of available dogs online, where people are free to look through them without the terrifying emotional pressure of going to a shelter and choosing one among a hundred to save.

All of this is terrific news, and a true sea-change in the world of dogs.


THE BAD NEWS ABOUT STAFFIES

The bad news is that while things are generally looking up for shelters dogs, that is not true for ‘Staffordshire Bull Terrier types,’ -- what we in America call ‘Pit Bulls’.

More Pit Bulls are killed in U.S. shelters every year than ALL dogs registered by the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club combined.

But it's not just an American story is it?

Last year the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home put down more than 800 "Staffordshire Bull Terrier types".

That's more dead dogs of a single type at one shelter than the total number of Neopolitan Mastiffs, Pekingese, Chinese Cresteds, Portuguese Water Dogs, or Boston Terriers registered by the Kennel Club that same year.

And why are so many "Staffordshire Bull Terrier types" put down?

Simple: Because no one wants them.

And yet these dogs are still being bred by people who say they love them, and they are still being acquired by people who say they want them.

What happens next, however, is all too predictable: about half of these dogs end up on death row because they prove to be too much for their owners.

What is the dog writing community, saying about all this?

Not much.

The silence is pretty deafening.

And why is that?

Mostly it’s because folks who talk about “the Staffie problem” end up being aggressively bullied whenever they raise the issue.

"Blame the deed not the breed" the apologists for death wail.

But they don't mean the deed of actually breeding these dogs for cash, do they?

No, that's a sacred cow.

Talk about a ban on advertising these dogs for sale, and suddenly there is no concern at all about the dogs.

Now it's all about property rights. Now it’s all about business.

The dead dogs?

They offer up no solutions for them.

In the world of Staffies, at least, it’s capitalism that is being defended, not the dogs.
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Wrangling a Few West Coast Rats.


"No animals were harmed in the making of this movie."

Richard Reynolds and Jordan Reed wrangle a few West Coast rats
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Coffee and Provocation


Probably Not Armed or Dangerous
There are a heck of a lot of guns in the U.S., but a lot of them are in the hands of gun fondlers. It turns out half of all the guns in the United States are owned by just three percent of American adults, and 78 percent of Americans do not own a gun. Some 7.7 million Americans own between eight and 140 guns each.

A Very Tough Water Bear
The world’s hardiest animal has evolved a radiation shield for its DNA

New National Park in Maine
President Barack Obama has created what could be the last large national park site on the East Coast. Located in Maine, the new national monument, to be managed by the National Park Service, is 87,000 acres of land donated by Roxanne Quimby, the co-fouder of Burt's Bees. A deep and ever-lasting thanks goes out to the late Ms. Quimby, and her son, Lucas St. Clair, who has been a champion for the park's creation. Some gifts are good forever. Give the mountains; God isn't making any more of those.

New National Park Under the Sea
President Barack Obama has set aside a Connecticut-sized deep ocean area as a new national monument, the first in the Atlantic.

Do They Ever Need Glasses?
Pigeons can be taught to read?  No, not really.  Good for a headline though.  Imagine if there had been real news!

Irony and Hate
The sack of crap that is known as Donald Trump Jr. sent out a "Skittles" meme on Twitter to explain why the U.S. should not admit any Syrian refugees. Not said: that the meme originated with a Nazi propagandist who was hung at Nuremberg for war crimes, including spreading hate using exactly this same kind of trumped up story. Ironically, Dump the Younger posted this bit of hate to Twitter using an iPhone, which was created by the son of a Syrian immigrant -- Steve Jobs.

Drinking Far from the Maddening Crowd
You don't have to drink alone at these 10 bars at the end of the world.  They have Antarctica, Pitcairn, and Tristan Da Cunha, but somehow missed the great watering holes on Easter Island, and the drinking spots of Machu Pichu


Leash Pressure

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Some Wounded Warriors Have Three Legs



 A retired U.S. Marine dog
has been honored with the PDSA Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, which is the highest British military decoration awarded for valor.  This is the first time an American dog has received the medal. Lucca, a German shepherd, received the award after completing 400 missions in six years of active service with allied troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and losing a front leg to an IED on the battlefield.

Quick Wit



The reaction of Lord North
to a stray dog that had made its way into the Houses of Parliament (May 1811). Thanks to Helen M. on Twitter for this one!  Here in the U.S., we have fox at the Supreme Court.

Time for BRACH-XIT?


In the UK, vet are warning people against buying 'flat-faced' dogs:

Pugs, bulldogs, French bulldogs, shih-tzus and cavalier King Charles spaniels have become sought-after in the UK, despite wide-ranging health problems.

Their appeal is attributed to having "squashed" faces and wrinkled noses.

The British Veterinary Association said the surge in popularity of these dogs had "increased animal suffering".

Sean Wensley, president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), said: "Prospective owners need to consider that these dogs can suffer from a range of health problems, from eye ulcers to severe breathing difficulties.

"We strongly encourage people to choose a healthier breed or a crossbreed instead."

The warning has been echoed by the PDSA, the Royal Veterinary College, the RSPCA and the Kennel Club.

...A recent survey by the Royal Veterinary College suggests many owners of brachycephalic dogs are not aware of the common underlying health problems.

Caroline Reay, chief vet at Bluecross Animal Hospital in Merton, said: "Most owners - and some vets - think airway noise, and consequently reduced activity, is normal, so the problems are rarely discussed.

Killing Predators on Islands is the Way Forward


Over at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, (PNAS), they note that invasive predators are implicated in a great deal of global biodiversity loss:

Invasive mammalian predators are arguably the most damaging group of alien animal species for global biodiversity. Thirty species of invasive predator are implicated in the extinction or endangerment of 738 vertebrate species—collectively contributing to 58% of all bird, mammal, and reptile extinctions. Cats, rodents, dogs, and pigs have the most pervasive impacts, and endemic island faunas are most vulnerable to invasive predators. That most impacted species are insular indicates that management of invasive predators on islands should be a global conservation priority. Understanding and mitigating the impact of invasive mammalian predators is essential for reducing the rate of global biodiversity loss.

I have noted the problem before. Back in 2004, I noted that rats have been responsible for more extinctions than anything else. Other predators such as feral cats, wild dogs, fox, and pigs have also hammered island endemics, as have feral goats.

The good news is that there is now a concerted campaign to kill off island predators, and it is resulting in a massive environmental turnaround where it is being done. Some examples:

  • Seven islands in Baja Mexico were wiped clean of goats, rats, cats, rabbits, and burrows. Wildlife has roared back.

  • On Ascension Island cats were eradicated and birds have roared back.

  • On Saint Nicolas Island in California, cat eradication has resulted in the return of seals.

  • On Cliperton Island, off of Mexico, feral pigs were shot out and the birds have returned.

  • In the Galápagos Islands, feral goats have been wiped out and vegetation is growing back, and tortoises and birds are thriving as a result.

  • In the Catalina islands, moving golden eagles and killing feral hogs has been a fabulous success for native Island Fox.

It's All About the Size of the Fight in the Dog

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dr. Seuss Birds

Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill

Rhinoceros Hornbill

White-crowned Hornbill

It's All About the Accessories



From PetaPixel:
Photographer Mark Cowan has been honored with Special Commendation at the 2016 Royal Society Publishing photography competition for this remarkable wildlife photo, titled “Butterflies and caiman.” It shows a caiman in the Amazon wearing a crown of butterflies on its head.

The butterflies were gathering on the caiman’s head to collect salt, Cowan tells the Royal Society. He saw and captured the scene while on a scientific expedition to the Amazon with researchers from the University of Michigan.

Coffee and Provocation


Easter Island Soil May Make Dogs Live Longer
Rapamycin, a macrolide compound produced by the bacterium Streptomyces hygroscopicus, and first found in soil on Easter Island (aka Rapa Nui), gave us  Rapamune, which helps organ transplant patients survive organ rejection.  It turns out that Rapamycin also gave us some understanding of the TOR pathway, which stands for “target of rapamycin.”   Getting a better handle on how the TOR pathway works may be key to dramatically extending the life of dogs, humans, and other life forms.

A Massive Medicare Irony
The greatest irony ever is that the GOP wouldn’t be a national party today if Medicare weren’t keeping fear-based senior citizen racists and sexists alive.
If it weren’t for Medicare, the GOP would likely have no chance of winning the White House ever again.

Just Another Slaver?
Did you know that Beyoncé pays just 64 cents an hour to seamstresses in Sri Lanka who make clothes for of her trademark Ivy Park brand, even as she preaches the power to women.

The Continuing Crisis
The skeleton of teenage girl confirms cannibalism at Jamestown colony.

Not Just Another Hard Shell
A 100-year-old Galapagos giant tortoise named Diego has fathered an estimated 800 offspring, thereby saving his species from extinction.

Mother Nature Does Not Like Inbreeding
A new study finds inbreeding may cause birds to sing off-key—hurting their chances of mating.

Closing the Man-Made Ozone Hole
Researchers reported the first clear evidence that the ozone layers above Antarctica are replenishing. They expect the current ozone hole, which was created by the use of now banned chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), to close by 2060.

The Camera in the i-Phone 7 May Drive Sales
The iPhone 7 Plus camera may kill a lot of DSLR cameras sales. http://slate.me/2cYwFlm

An Amusing Scientist
John B. Calhoun, the mouse god of Pooleville, Maryland, named his daughters "Cat" and "Cheshire"

Bear Spray or Gun to Stop a Bear?
Bear spray is the winner.  It works really well. And, apparently, goat spray is a pretty good human repelant.


Monday, September 19, 2016

This Land


This land is your land. You own it. Never forget it.  Always protect it. Public lands are a public good.

Outlaw Dogs Behind Bars



When bar dogs are outlawed, only outlaws will have bar dogs.

From The New York Times:
[T]here is still a place in this city where a permanent fur coat is no obstacle to entry: the speakeasy underworld of the dog bar...

They run from quiet watering holes where dogs are welcome as long as they are discreet, to a few rowdier establishments where the dogs do everything but play poker.

At one of those brazen places, a canine circus was in full effect that same Thursday night. A burly pit bull and a big tan mutt wrestled on the floor as the music blared. A dachshund named Leroy stood in his owner’s lap with his front paws up on the bar, barking loudly. “He wants another drink,” his owner said. When Leroy went to the back yard for a bathroom break, a schnauzery-looking dame named Mia took his place on the bar stool.

"Discover Animals" Is About Covering Over Abuse


"Discover Animals" is the latest bit of web site fakery and disinformation coming out of the front group called the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA).

The NAIA is a front group for those who capture, kill, breed, and exploit animals for profit.

Board members include those who exploit animals in circuses and rodeos, those who breed, poison, and kill beagles, monkeys, and other animals for laboratory experiments, and people who serve as apologists for the race horse industry where animals are overbred, and routinely abandoned, and where leg-shattering injuries are as common as rain.

But will you learn about that on "Discover Animals"?  Don't count on it.  This is a web site designed for low-information gullibles.  It's chief reason-for-being is to paper over the holes in the for-profit world of animals.

Instead of pictures of lions and tigers shoved into small circus cages or penned in parking lots, you may soon see pictures that show them in nature -- the exact opposite of what the circus actually provides.

Instead of old race track horses in the kill pens, and monkeys and beagles shoved into metal laboratory boxes, you may soon see pictures of monkeys in the rain forest and puppies rolling on fresh cut grass -- the opposite of the puppy mill economics these folks actually advocate.

I say "may see" because right now the site is incredibly devoid of content.  Their biggest chunk of information is nothing more than a laundry list of pared-down AKC breed descriptions which carefully leave off all health and cost concerns.

That's hardly surprising as this Potemkin Village of a web site appears to be mostly funded by folks from the rapidly failing AKC.

To review:  the American Kennel Club requires that the dogs they register be bred under rules that they KNOW guarantee a rise in disease, defect, and dysfunction.

And what about the dogs that are so deformed that they cannot mate or whelp on their own? Not a problem! On the board of the NAIA are experts on artificial insemination, and vets whose trade association members make big bucks ripping dogs in half in order to do cesarean sections.

Defective dogs as business plan!  Hump and dump breeding as a vocation! Lions and tigers being ripped from one small cage to another and carted from asphalt parking lot of train and back? Perfectly natural!


The strap line on the web site says: "Working Together to Save Our Animals," but nothing could be further from the truth.

There are more dogs in the U.S. than ever before, and fewer AKC registrations because no one wants the defective, diseased, deformed, and dysfunctional product that the AKC has to offer.

Get a lesson on healthy dogs from English Bulldog man Julian Prager, who sits on the board of the NAIA? It is to laugh! Get a lesson on sensible and sane breeding from Patti Strand who spent decades derailing outcross Dalmations? You must be joking.




If you want to "save animals"
(whatever that means), then go down to the local pound to get your pet dog or cat, stop paying money to see animal spectacles at circuses and rodeos, and start giving money and voice to those who are working to preserve habitat and encourage human family planning.

But suit up with lobbyists for the abuse industry at the "National Animal Interest Alliance," and their web-based front group? Please!

"Discover Animals" really should be called Discover Abuse.  That's what these folks are trying to get you to NOT think about.

Stop thinking about animal abuse!  Stop it!

Stop thinking about the horses with broken legs at the race track.  Stop it.

Stop thinking about the deformed dogs that need a rape rack to mate.  Stop it.

Stop thinking about the laboratory beagles that never see grass.  Stop it.

Stop thinking about the elephants, tigers, horses, bears, and zebras that are jerked down one railroad track after another.  Stop it.

Stop thinking about intentional breeding of dogs for defect and deformity. Stop it.

Stop thinking about the fact that the AKC is dependent on puppy mill dollars. Stop it.


Americans Who Dream of Fascism



The meme, above, was posted to Facebook by a friend from the dog world.

I thought about simply moving past it, but I did not.  Instead, I wrote and challenged the premise:

My kids are not selfish, disrespectful brats. Are yours? I bet not. Took God out out schools? You are free to pray in any school at any time. You can pray anywhere at any time and learn about any religion too. And guess what? You can pray and be a Muslim (they pray five times a day!) or a Jew, or a Christian, Mormon, or even not pray because you are not religious (that's most Americans, far and away). Choosing to pray or not pray is the FREEDOM we all enjoy.

And discipline our kids? Not a problem. BEAT your kids? Yeah, that might be a problem. Is that the only way any of us know how to discipline? I bet not! I do not beat my dogs, but they are pretty well disciplined! My kids are too. Bet it's the same at your house.

Posts like this are written by people who hate America and spread alienation and fear. They paint a picture of a country that never existed, and we do not want to live in. If you want a country where it is mandatory to salute the flag and pray, and where you are free to beat your kids, then you may want to try Iran or some other terrified country ruled by despots in the developing world. That's never been the America I lived in, and it's not one you have ever lived in either, as we are about the same age.

Look around at the wonderful country we have and REJOICE.

Our water and our air are cleaner than when we were kids. We have more public forests and fields to hunt in than ever before. We have more guns, more dogs, and bigger bag limits than ever before. We have more deer, more wolves, more fox, more geese, lion, bear, and ducks than any time in the last 100 years.

Want a free Bible or a copy of any Shakespeare play or sonnet? It's on your cell phone in your pocket. Our cars are safer, and we have 100 channels on TV. Our medicine is better, and we are living longer and healthier than ever before. I make more money than my father, and I bet you are doing better than your father too; how many cars and trucks were parked in the driveway of your childhood home?

More kids are going to college than ever before, and unemployment has almost never been lower. The stock market has never been higher, and we can jet almost anywhere, and most of us have the money to do so at least once or twice in our lives.

Rejoice!

Complain about the America we have, and dream about a fascist state that never was?

Not me!

I love America.

How about you?

When Dog Rescue Becomes a Business



Over at Small Dead Animals they go over the economics of some pet rescues:

I took this picture and wandered down closer. Crates stacked floor to ceiling, most had multiple dogs in them. Dozens of people walked dogs ohhing and awwing. The transport owner stepped in front of me and asked what I wanted. I looked in the trailer and said really? If a breeder ever had that many dogs packed into crates like like they'd be crucified. Someone said "he's not a breeder, he's a rescuer!" I said how much to transport? He said I only charge $185 a dog. I said no you're not a dog breeder, you're a dog trafficker.

I started to walk away and he stepped in front of me and wouldn't let me pass. I said please get out of my face. He screamed at me "I'M IN YOUR FACE", with a lovely spray of spit. I probably should have called the police right then but I must tell you crowd was getting rabid. One woman screamed at me I was an asshole and I should get my head out of my ass. If they had rocks, I think I would have been pelted.

Boy, people are losing their heads and brains when it comes to this nonsense. My educated guess on his take for this transport? At least 150 dogs in this trailer. A neat $27,750. It's just a damned shame people don't get this concerned about hungry, poor children in this country than they do about this supposed load of these poor Texas dogs heading to the Northeast for adoption.

This is a nice story, but it's pretty much bullshit.  Think I'm wrong?  Awesome!  I am going to let you prove that I am wrong. Read to the end.

Let's start with a basic point: dog rescue transports are a good thing, and the costs are not free.

Of course, this is a values judgement.  I am for transport and spay-neuter, rather than gratuitous killing. Maybe you aren't. Maybe you are for killing 2 billion healthy dogs a year, most of whom are guilty of no crime other than having an idiot as a first-time owner. As I said, this is a values judgement.  I find a lot of dog breeders are cheering squads for gas chambers and the blue solution of death for any dog that might stand in the way of a few dollars of their profit.  These breeders will tell you that killing is very low cost and that no one (except them) should ever be able to recover their costs, or make a small living, in dogs. Dog breeder profits that pay for travel across the country and MASSIVE RVs at dog shows are absolutely fine, but rescues that are actually self-sustaining and recover their costs are horrible.  Right.  As I said, a question of values.

In my opinion, the question with dog transports is price-point.

I could put 8 small dogs in small carriers in my SUV.  Would it get the dogs from rural Georgia to New York city  cheaper and safer after gas and hotel (and the dangers of of heat and cold) are factored in? I'm not sure. If you add in the cost of my time at even minimum wage, and wear and tear on the vehicle, I suspect not.

As for the fellow who runs this massive dog rescue carrier truck. Here is this person. Yeah, I know, he's a real monster. The Today Show thought so too.




But hey, I have an idea.  If trucking rescue dogs from Texas to Los Angeles is so darn cheap and easy, how about you make a rescue run yourself, and document it all for us?

Tell us about your vehicle wear, the gas, the potty stops, the hotel costs, and the welcome locations and families that waited for all those dogs that you transported?  Here at Terrierman, we are only too happy to detail your actual experience after you have moved 20 dogs.  We'll make an entire post about it!  Are you on the East Coast?  Fantastic.  I know a shelter in Georgia that would love to have you move 20 or 30 dogs North, and do it every week or two.  All you have to do is find northern families or organizations that want those dogs.  Go for it!  Because it's as easy as pie, right?

A 5-Minute History of Pure Bred Dogs

An 80,000 Year Old Tree


The picture, above, is of a clonal grove of quaking aspen in Utah's Fishlake National Forest. Technically, this is one tree.

The grove, called "Pando" from the Latin word for spreading, is among the oldest organisms on Earth, at an estimated 80,000 years. Over 47,000 trunks and stems cover more than 105 acres and weigh an estimated 13 million pounds.

Clonal aspens aren't very good at regular reproduction because they have three sets of chromosomes instead of the usual two.

Aside from fire, the biggest threat to this grove is from deer which eat almost all of the young shoots.

The Continuing Crisis


Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Stain on the Nation

Are Pigeons as Smart as Trump Voters?

Don't Buy Dog Food from Hank Petchow

Back in 1995 or 1996, long before there was the kind of "Fake News" we now see everynight on Comedy Central, Saturday Night Live ran a fake dog food commercial starring Will Ferrell.

The visuals were a killer (pun intended) and showed a huge bag of kibble with an emormous picture of Shep the Huskie, and the words "PetChow" written in large letters underneath.

In very small letters, underneath that it said "Rat Poison."

The video is not embeddable, but you can see it here, and read the transcript below:


[Open on Hank Petchow running through the snow with his dog Shep ]Hank Petchow: Come on, Shep! Here we go!

Voiceover: Like most dog owners, I really enjoy playing with my dog.
[ cut to interior, Petchow household ]
Hank Petchow: Hi! I'm Hank Petchow. I love my dog, and I love taking care of him. But as much as I like feeding ol' Shep here every morning, there's some animals I'd rather not feed - rodents, mice, rats. I hate them. That's why I developed this. Petchow Brand Rat Poison. Petchow's the only rat poison deadly enough to carry my name - Petchow. And Petchow's the most powerful rat poison on the market. In fact, it's so strong, it could easily kill an animal much larger than any rat you'll ever see - instant. And rats love Petchow's big meaty pieces. [ Shep jumps up to the bowl of rat poison ] Whoa, no, Shep! That's rat poison! [ moves Shep ] Just add water for a hearty poison gravy that no rat can resist. He'll be dead on the spot. Right, Shep? [ Shep barks and moves closer to the rat poison gravy ] Whoa, Shep! Down, boy, that's not for you! [ laughs ] So, if rats are your problem, choose a name you can trust. Petchow. Just look for the rat poison with a picture of ol' Shep on it.

[ show two dogs sitting on each side of the Petchow package ]

Jingle: "Petchow. Arf arf. Petchow. Arf arf. Petchow. Arf arf. Rat poison."

Announcer: Petchow. The one they can't resist.

Trump Says Dog Food Should Be Unregulated



Donald Trump says dog food should be entirely unregulated. The FDA should should be able to put anything they want in there.

Poison? Fine!

Trump also says he wants to eliminate “farm and food production hygiene,” food temperature regulations, and “inspection overkill”.

In short, Trump is fine with all of us, including our dogs, eating shit and dying, so long as it turns a profit for some business tycoon. Hillary Clinton knows some dogs eat shit, but she thinks they can do better, and that you can too.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Look Outside Tonight



It's a Harvest Moon.

Woodstock Better than the Original



This duo is Swedish.
I would give them a visa and a record contract. We need more of this.

There Is No Wall


So many Republicans hate America as it is. So many reactionaries revere a facile authoritarianism. These are people terrified that white male voters don't decide everything. These are the same folks who didn't want women to vote, and who embraced poll taxes and Jim Crow laws. They have worked hard to preserve discrimination and overt hate against gays and Muslims, Mormons and Jews, Native Americans and women.

It is a great disappointment to me to see people embrace fascism and to wink at race-baiting hate mongers. So many of these people profess to be Christians, but Christ did not speak English, was not an American, was not a Christian, was not white, and preached a gospel of love. Christ did not celebrate violence, explicitly said to pay your taxes, and never said a word about gays.

If you embrace hate and gun violence, discrimination and bigotry, xenophobia and fear, that's on you. Don't wrap yourselves in the Gospels or the Constitution. Don't tell me you are a patriot and a believer in small government when you believe there should be laws to enforce public displays of patriotism. That's what authoritarian governments do, from North Korea to Russia.

We are Americans. Free and diverse, tough without a gun, and of many faiths and cultures, recipes, and traditions. All people are equal and all citizens have a right to vote. We believe men have equal status with women and love is love. We believe everyone should pay their taxes, because that is the cover charge to keep this great place going. If you don't like that, you are free to leave; there is no wall keeping you in.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Deer at Pre-Columbian Population Levels



A historical analysis, summarized in the figure above, shows that the population of white-tailed deer in the US returned to pre-European settlement numbers by the year 2000.

Fish on Friday



The northern snakehead
, an invasive fish native to Asia, and which first showed up in local waters in 2002, has broken out of the Potomac River and is now found in the Rappahannock River as well.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Leash Pressure


God Spelled Backwards

Terrier of the Tiger Tower

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The Tower of London once housed a menagerie or "bestiary" with a fantastic assortment of creatures, ranging from wolves, lions and leopards to giraffes, monkeys and tigers.

The "Tiger Tower" stood for over 600 years (beginning in the 1230s), and was located where the gift shop at the Tower of London is now situated. This precursor to the London Zoo provided London residents with a glimpse of the fauna to be found in the larger world.

Among the famous who visited were Samuel Pepys, William Blake (who illustrated his poem The Tyger" after sketching the animal from life at the Tower), and one Geoffrey Chaucer who worked at the Tower for two years (1389-1390).

A terrier features prominently in the closing of the Tiger Tower. By the early 1830s, the close quarters and poor condition of the animals kept at the Tower had become a minor issue. Exotic animals expired with some regularity. They were difficult to replace, and their death made for poor public relations.

Things came to a head on April 29, 1834, when a "large and furious" wolf managed to slip out of his cage inside the Tiger Tower. The wolf immediately headed for the interior of the Tower across a short moat, but he was thwarted by a keeper - one Sergeant Cropper - who quickly shut a door to prevent the wolf from gaining further access.

Cropper's small terrier, always at his side, rushed in to do battle with the wolf. The terrier quickly realized it was over-matched, however, and it raced up the stairs into Cropper's little residence where his wife and daughter were located. The wolf, of course, followed close on his heels, and the battle continued inside the apartment. Once can only be imagine the carnage and sound that ensued, but the battle interlude gave the woman and girl time to flee, though it surely cost the terrier its life.

The wolf was eventually recaptured, but the Tiger Tower was closed the next year and the animals transferred to the newly opened London Zoo in Regent's Park.

In 1852, the Tiger Tower itself was destroyed, although the "Lion Gate" remains. This tale can be found in The Tower Menagerie by Daniel Hahn.

This post was written in 2004.
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With Dogs at Home

Leash Pressure