Inside This Issue:

  • Successful Embryo Transfer: Hope for the Northern White Rhinoceros?
  • Rescued Dogs Re-rescued from Unlicensed Kennel Operation
  • Legislation Regulating Breeders Would Also Overturn Pet Store Bans

Successful Embryo Transfer Brings Hope for the Northern White Rhinoceros

Two rhinos doing rhino things.

How do you get a northern white rhino pregnant? No, we’re not setting you up for a punchline, this is serious business – how DO you do it? The northern white rhinoceros is a species so critically endangered, only two remain alive, and both rhinos are female (and not to mention, under 24-hour armed security). If what we learned in high school biology is true, it would seem the species is doomed.

A reproduction technology nonprofit may have an answer, though. In September, a team of scientists and conservationists managed to successfully transfer an in vitro-produced embryo into a threatened, but not-critically-endangered southern white rhino mother. This was the first time an embryo had been successfully transferred into a rhinoceros (side note: it was only a few decades ago that the southern white rhinoceros was on the brink of extinction, too). On Wednesday, they announced the pregnancy is moving along, and the embryo is now a well-developed male. The mother and embryo are still not out of the woods – white rhino pregnancies can go on for as long as a year and a half. Yikes! – but this is an auspicious start, and it brings hope. If this technique proves successful, it can be refined and attempted with the southern white rhinoceros. We don’t want to count our embryos before they, uh, erm… hatch, but how fantastic would it be to bring this species back from certain extinction. What inspiring work!

World's first rhino IVF pregnancy could save species that has only 2 living animals remaining

★     (2022) Return of the rhino: can we bring the northern white back from extinction?
★     Southern White Rhinoceros


Rescued Dogs Re-rescued from Unlicensed Kennel Operation

Do you know where your dogs are staying?

Lifeline Animal Project, an Atlanta-based animal welfare organization, is having to rescue some familiar animals… from a former rescue partner. The organization works with rescue partners to help ease overcrowding, but in this case, several dogs ended up in an unlicensed kennel operation under the care of a woman who is now facing cruelty charges for “tormenting and depriving more than 20 dogs of necessary sustenance.” Now, these dogs are coming back into the organization’s direct care.

The kennel that these dogs ended up in was already suspect, as a couple’s dog had died there recently, and the owner had been fined for refusing to respond to the North Carolina Agriculture Department in 2023. As is often the case when dog kennels go sideways, people who knew the owner and had visited the facility in the past commented that conditions seemed good, and that she didn’t seem to have any wicked intentions. She also had worked consistently enough with rescues to be trusted with keeping animals.

Assuming these recollections are correct, and we have no reason to believe they aren’t, they really speak to how quickly an animal care operation can go from “good” to “neglectful” to “dangerous.” It really doesn’t take much time at all, even for a kennel operating under normal conditions. So, while it is vital to have foster and rescue help, this is a reminder that it is just as important to really know the people involved – and that they are both willing and able to properly look after the animals in their care. Otherwise, those animals might have to be rescued again.

Lifeline Animal Project working to rescue dogs from ‘illegal kennel operation’

★     Youngsville kennel owner at center of controversy was previously fined, under close watch by state
★     Owner charged after months-long investigation into Youngsville kennel; couple searching for answers after dog dies




 Legislation Regulating Breeders Would Also Overturn Pet Store Bans

A proposed Indiana bill seeks to regulate high-volume breeders while also preventing legislation that would force pet stores to source dogs and cats exclusively from shelters (this legislation is typically referred to as a “pet store ban”). Predictably, this is causing a lot of fur to fly.

The bill’s champions argue that regulating care standards while ensuring compliance through inspections and enforcement is the best way to improve animal welfare. This is NAIA’s view. It is important to acknowledge that when it comes to something consumers don’t merely want but feel a strong emotional urge for – like puppies and kittens – banning certain types of sales won’t magically make bad operators stop breeding animals or improve animal welfare conditions. It merely dictates who is eligible to sell puppies and kittens, while sending ever more pets to the black market, where there are no regulations or inspections, and zero accountability. Also, not to be snarky, but let’s not pretend rescues and shelters – the only source of pets activists want available to pet stores – are a well-regulated source with a sterling animal welfare record. 

The bill’s opponents claim it is a deceptive product of the “puppy mill industry.” This is entirely expected, given that pet store bans are a current favorite cause in animal activist circles and the animosity many of these people feel toward breeders. We, of course, disagree with the bill’s opponents, though we understand why bans hold a surface level appeal for those who haven’t explored the issues more deeply. Pet store bans present a villain, an underdog (or cat), and offer a simple solution – who could say no to that? But as is so often the case, it’s not a black and white issue, and one must look to the tradeoffs, consequences, and beneficiaries of such legislation to get a clearer picture.

Bill regulating dog breeders would overturn local bans on puppy sales

★     Pet stores in NY state banned from selling dogs, cats, rabbits
★     Clark County bans sale of popular animals at pet stores




Also in the News...

★     This plant and these animals could be added to the Endangered Species Act (Lists I: Possible ESA Additions)
★     Rabbit gets confiscated from UF fraternity brothers following Barstool video (Inappropriate Pet Care; Know Your Fosters; No Longer an Animal House)

★     A Pig's Brain Transcended Its Body, Surging to Life on Its Own. Humans May Be Next. (An Impressive, yet Somewhat Horrifying Achievement)
★     Pima County doctor facing animal cruelty charges (Neglect & Cruelty; Unsanitary Conditions; Unlicensed & Illegal Surgeries )
★     Recent wildlife attacks around Tucson prompt rabies warning (Skunks, Foxes, and Bobcats; Bites & Scratches)
★     Microbes that gave rise to all plants and animals became multicellular 1.6 billion years ago, tiny fossils reveal (Life, Uh... Found a Way)
★     Camouflaged animals are hiding in every one of these photos — can you spot them all? (Lists II: Hide & Seek; Gotta Spot 'Em All)

Click here to see what is happening legislatively

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