Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Beagle Freedom Project

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Did you know that today, across the United States, there are nearly 65,000 dogs (most of them beagles) sitting in cages being used to test cosmetics, pharmaceutical drugs, household products, and academic curiosities with little to no hope of getting out alive.  These tests are often very painful, and frequently result in the death of the dog.

Did you know that over 95% of the dogs in lab testing are beagles, one of the top 5 most popular family dog breeds in America? Beagles are popular with families because of their sweet and docile nature. Sadly, it is these same qualities that make research facilities consider them to be ideal test subjects.

Beagles are the most popular breed for lab use because of their friendly, docile, trusting, forgiving, people-pleasing personalities. The research industry says they adapt well to living in a cage, and are inexpensive to feed. Research beagles are usually obtained directly from commercial breeders who specifically breed dogs to sell to scientific institutions.

If you knew how many of the products you use every day are tested on animals, you would be shocked.  Testing done on beagles in university and other research facilities includes medical/pharmaceutical, household products and cosmetics.

 The Beagle Freedom Project is a mission to rescue beagles used in animal experimentation in research laboratories and give them a chance at life in a loving forever home.

 When they are no longer wanted for research purposes, some labs attempt to find homes for adoptable, healthy beagles. Working directly with these labs, Beagle Freedom Project is able to remove and transport beagles to place them in loving homes. All rescues are done legally with the cooperation of the facility. Find out here how to foster or adopt one of these rescued dogs.

Anyone interested in fostering or adopting a lab beagle should be aware of the challenges these dogs have. They will not be accustomed to life in a home and will not have experience with children, cats, or other dogs. They will not be house-trained and accidents will happen, although they learn quickly. Many have gone directly from a commercial breeder to the lab, and have never felt grass under their feet or even seen the sun. They will have been fed a special diet formulated for lab animals and may be difficult to adjust to new foods. They will be unfamiliar with treats, toys, bedding and may never have walked on a leash. They will have lived in cages with steel wire floors and may have inflamed or infected paws from the pressure. They may be fearful of people initially and may have phobias from a lifetime in confinement or from being restrained. They are likely to have been surgically de-barked by the breeder and have an ID number tattooed in their ear. Please also be aware that although these beagles are considered healthy, you will be given very little information about the beagle’s medical history, and you will not be told its origins or what kind of testing they may have been used for.

With time, patience, play, companionship, love – and most of all, freedom – these dogs will learn how to become dogs, and their transformation will be amazing.

The hope is that they can encourage more research labs to release animals and give them a chance at life, instead of destroying adoptable pets.

There are many things you can do to get involved.
The link above gives a list of ways to participate in the project.  

One very important thing you can do is sign the Beagle Freedom Bill.

Beagle Freedom Project’s important legislative push to enact laws that would ensure research facilities can give dogs used in laboratory testing a chance at a life after research.

Finally, follow the Beagle Freedom Project on social media and share, share, share!


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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Risky Mistakes Pet Owners Make

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Letting Your Dog Walk You

A poorly trained dog can pull you over while you’re out for a stroll. According to the CDC, tens of thousands of people end up in the ER every year because of pet-related falls. Many of these falls occur during walks -- either when a person trips over a dog or is pulled or pushed by one. Experts say obedience training is the best way to make sure your pooch doesn’t take you down during the morning walk.

Overlooking Ticks

After a walk in the woods, you check yourself for ticks, right? Don't forget about your dog. Tick bites put your dog at risk for Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and a handful of other diseases. They can also cause serious illnesses in cats. If your pet has infected ticks, this puts the rest of the family at risk. If you find a tick, remove it carefully with tweezers, being careful to get all of the head and not to crush it. Ask the vet about tick control.

Ignoring Ringworm

If your pet has a round bald patch, ringworm could be to blame. Leave this fungus untreated, and you're putting your family at risk. People can get ringworm from dogs or cats by touching their skin or fur. Ringworm usually causes a reddish, ring-shaped rash on the skin or bald spots if it infects the scalp. If your pet has hair loss, take him to your vet to see if it could be ringworm.

Not Bothering to Deworm

Roundworms are common parasites in both dogs and cats. They cause diarrhea and vomiting and may lead to serious illness. But many people don't realize these worms are a threat to humans, too. An infected pet can contaminate soil or sand with tiny eggs. Kids may ingest the eggs by putting dirty fingers in their mouths. When the worms hatch inside people, they can cause blindness and other tissue damage. Ask your vet about regular deworming.

Skipping Flea Medicine

Skip your pets' flea medicine, and they aren't the only ones who will pay the price. Fleas will quickly set up shop on untreated pets, particularly in summer and fall, and fill your house with their eggs and young. Some people wind up covered in itchy sores.  Fleas can also transmit serious diseases to people including bubonic plague.  Ask your vet about long term flea medication and put a routine reminder on your calendar.

Not Spaying or Neutering Your Pet

Millions of cats and dogs live on the street or end up euthanized because of unwanted litters. Still, many people are reluctant to spay or neuter their pets. The fact is, spaying and neutering is a healthy choice for your pet. It reduces the risk of breast cancer in females and testicular cancer in males. Neutered males are also less likely to run away from home, mark their territory, or exhibit aggressive behaviors.

Keeping the Food Bowl Full

With the best intentions, some people keep their pets' food bowls full at all times. This is one of the most common mistakes pet owners make. The problem is that cats and dogs often eat more than they need. If food is constantly available, they will take in too many calories and put on too much weight. To avoid this, follow the suggestions on the pet food label or ask your vet for guidance.

Providing Too Little Exercise

Just like people, pets need exercise to stay healthy. Couch potato pets are prone to obesity, which raises their risk of respiratory problems and joint problems. The right amount of exercise for a dog depends on the breed and size, but vets recommend at least a half-hour each day. Taking brisk walks with your dog can help you get in shape, too.

Misreading Body Language

Sure, you love your dog. But do you really understand him? If you think a wagging tail is always a good sign, you could be in for a nasty surprise. When a dog wants to threaten someone, he may hold his tail high and wave it stiffly back and forth. Mistake this warning for a sign of playfulness and you could get bitten. To avoid misunderstandings, learn about your pet's body language.

Providing Too Little Attention

Just like children, your pets will get bored if you don't play with them. And boredom can lead to troublesome behaviors like chewing, digging, barking, and whining. Bored cats may resort to scratching and excessive meowing. Fight boredom by hiding treats for your pets to find around the house. Provide toys your cat can chase. Teach dogs to play fetch, tug-of-war, or hide-and-seek.

Not Socializing Young Pets

It's important to provide puppies and kittens with positive human interaction during their first seven weeks of life. This includes handling and play that fosters trust in people. Reputable breeders will begin this interaction, and you can continue the process when you bring your pet home. To develop a strong bond, play with your new puppy or kitten every day.

Leaving a Dog Alone Too Long

Spending 8-10 hours alone in a crate, tiny laundry closet, or even outdoors is too much for most dogs. It can lead to separation anxiety and destructive behaviors including chewing, soiling, digging, and nonstop barking or howling -- even depression in a timid dog. Better choices are doggie day care, a mid-day visit from a pet sitter, or a canine companion. Adult dogs can go 4-5 hours in a crate but need exercise before and after.

Setting No Rules

Some people expect their pets to know right from wrong without being told. But human etiquette does not come naturally to dogs and cats. You need to make it clear that jumping up on people, scratching the furniture, and peeing on the carpet are unacceptable. Be consistent about the house rules, and reward your pets for good behavior. If you need guidance, consult a trainer promptly. 

Scolding Pets for "Accidents"

If you come home to find a puddle of pee on the floor, you may have the urge to yell at your pet. But animal behavior experts say this will do no good at all. The transgression took place in the past, and your dog or cat won't know why you are yelling. A better strategy is to praise your pets immediately when they do their business where they are supposed to.

Leaving Young Kids Unsupervised

Most children adore animals, but sometimes their enthusiasm can lead to someone getting hurt. Young kids may play too rough, pushing a dog or cat to strike out in self-defense. Be sure to supervise play time when a new pet joins the family. Set rules for how children should treat the pet and teach them to recognize the signs that a dog or cat wants to be left alone.

Letting Dogs Eat Spoiled Food

Your dog may be tempted to rifle through the neighbor's garbage in search of a treat, but don't let her! Food gone bad is no healthier for pets than it is for people. Dogs who eat garbage are at risk for bacterial food poisoning or irritation of the pancreas. Spoiled food may also contain toxic mold, which can cause vomiting, severe tremors, seizures, and death.  

Giving Bones to Dogs

We may think of bones as a wonderful treat for dogs, but the FDA paints a different picture. The agency warns that chewing on bones can injure the teeth, tongue, or mouth. Bones can also get stuck in the digestive tract, where they will have to be removed with surgery or an endoscope. If your dog likes to chew, ask your vet about safer alternatives.

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