Protesters woof at proposal to reduce kennel inspections

Dog owners support more frequent kennel inspectionsState lawmakers in Nebraska could almost hear the growl of local dogs as they considered a proposal on Monday that would have decreased inspections of commercial pet breeding facilities.

The Agriculture Committee of the Nebraska Legislature eventually voted 7-0 to dismiss a state bill that would have diluted a 2007 law which required dog kennels and other pet-breeding outlets to be inspected every two years, the North Platte Telegraph reports.

The unanimous decision was in part influenced by protesters from the Nebraska Human Society and from citizens around the state who balked at the idea of weakening pet care laws and barked in supported of their four-legged companions.

State senator Tom Carlson had proposed reducing the regular inspections to save money, following the state’s projected budget deficit of about $334 million. Inspections would have been preformed only following complaints.

Judy Varner, CEO of the Nebraska Humane Society, told the news source, "No one ever goes to a lot of puppy mills – everything is sold over the internet." She added, "Nobody would ever know the conditions" if the inspections weren’t regularly performed.

According to the U.S. Humane Society, there are about 74.8 million owned dogs in the country. ADNFCR-2720-ID-19453352-ADNFCR

Synthetic pheromones can help pets chill out

New synthetic pheromones can reduce stress in petsIt’s not a rare occurrence for a professional to return home from a long day at work and pour themselves a glass of wine or drop of scotch. For some people, the end of the day cocktail has become a ritual, allowing the laborer to calm themselves, fall into a state of relaxation and reduce irritability. Now, some pet care companies are offering the pet cocktail – an array of animal pheromones that can reduce the animal’s perception of stress and curb behavioral problems, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Pheromones are chemicals dogs and cats are able to sense via the vomeronasal organ at the back of the nose, some of which contain substances that calm the pets. The chemicals are used for communication among animals of the same species to suggest alarm, locate food, or express sexual interest.

According to animal behaviorist Gary Landsberg some pheromones calm cats that are being introduced to a new environment, and work well to reduce furniture scratching and to soothe the pets on long car trips.

As far as dogs go, a study of a puppy training course found that dogs who were introduced to a synthetic version of a pheromone released by mother dogs to calm puppies were better socialized and adapted faster to new situations.

Retailers such as Feliway are selling the pet-soothers in spray bottles for about $50.

Teacher’s pet, teacher’s pet!

Diploma mills have cats becoming experts in all sorts of fieldsIn times of economic distress, some families will do anything to gain a little extra income. Some households may cancel magazine subscriptions or spring into a coupon-clipping frenzy. The truly enterprising family, however, may sign their pets up for an MBA degree in hopes of getting some free investment advice. The news blog has reported that a new page of the online reference guide Wikipedia keeps track of dogs and cats who were awarded fraudulent degrees from diploma mills, en route to exposing the company’s scam.

According to his application to the online college, Trinity Southern University, Colby Nolan is a part-time babysitter who has worked at a fast-food restaurant, maintained a paper route and completed several courses at community college. In reality, Colby is the housecat of a Pennsylvania deputy attorney general.

In 2004, Colby was awarded an MBA degree by the Texas-based diploma mill in exchange for $299. The cat, according to a Trinity transcript, had achieved an amazing 3.5 grade point average! A year later the fraudulent company was ordered to cease operations and was assessed hefty fines.

Other pets who received similar degrees include high-school graduates Kitty O’Malley and Oreo Collins and the expert in neuro-linguistic hypnotherapy known as George the cat.

Fire departments help pets breathe easy

Fire departments help pets breathe easyLosing one’s home to a fire can be a devastating experience for a family to endure. Most Americans buy insurance plans for their houses and family members to guarantee a measure of safety, should bad luck raise its ugly head. Since – according to the Human-Animal Bond Survey by The Hartz Mountain Corp – about 75 percent of pet owners consider their animals a member of the family, new steps are being taken to protect the safety of our four-legged friends as well.

This week, fire departments in Chicago and south suburban Matteson, Illinois, secured new ways to help save the lives of pets threatened by house fires, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Oxygen masks developed specifically for pets will be distributed to the departments, and firefighters will be trained in their proper use. The masks are cone-shaped, and designed to fit over the snouts of pets, including dogs, cats and some birds.

Prior to use by these fire departments, the masks had been used by veterinarians for assistance in pet care.

According to the Tribune, about 150,000 pets die in fires each year, mostly due to smoke inhalation.

Defraying the costs of sick puppies

Customers who buy sick animals from pet stores have legal recourseLemon laws have long been in place to protect consumers who may be duped into purchasing a product with a polished appearance that belies its functional drawbacks. When the product is an everyday commodity like a used car, consumers can leverage the law to cover refunds and additional expenses; but what happens when the "lemon" is a new pet?

According to some animal welfare advocates, animals bought in pet stores are more likely to have health problems than those purchased from shelters and independent breeders.

Several options have emerged for pet owners trying to foot the bill for vet services required by their store-bought sick puppies. Many states have adopted pet owner protection laws, like New Jersey’s Pet Protection Act of 2000, which stipulates that if a veterinarian certifies a sick animal was unfit for sale with two weeks of the purchase, the owner may be reimbursed for the pet, or for expenses associated with veterinary pet care, the Atlantic City Press reports.

Pet warranties, issued by companies like Household Pet Protection in Colorado, and veterinary pet insurance plans have also become common in defraying pet health costs.

The U.S. Human Society estimates that up to 4 million puppies were bought in pet stores or over the internet last year.

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