Inside This Issue:

  • Reptile and Pet Store Owners Saved by the Legislative Bell
  • Tennessee Bill Takes Aim at People Claiming Fake Service Dogs
  • Major Animal Smuggling Bust at Bangkok Airport
  • Pets Improve Our Mental and Physical Health
  • Major Increase in Owner Surrendered Dogs Reported. Usual Culprits, Plus a Few Others Named.

Reptile and Pet Store Owners Saved by the Legislative Bell

A bill to ban the sale of green iguanas, cats, and dogs failed to make the deadline for a hearing in the Florida House. The legislative session for the Sunshine state ends this Friday, March 8th, and there is no carryover to 2025. Florida has been battling with invasive species for years now and in reaction to that, wildlife officials created a black list: prohibited animals that could not be bred, bought, sold, or possessed within the state.

The hope was to curtail the spread of environmentally deleterious reptiles like large pythons and lizards and the havoc they wreak on Florida’s natural resources and native species. While those are good intentions, the implementation of these intentions often punish responsible pet owners, dealers, and breeders. For now, Floridians can breathe a sigh of relief for their iguanas. This bill’s language also included a ban on retail pet sales, so as luck would have it, that is dead for this year too.

Florida reptile and pet store owners survive yet another close call as legislators run out of time

★     USARK: Florida Ban on All Iguanas
★     Florida HB 1033


Tennessee Bill Takes Aim at People Claiming Fake Service Dogs

Oh really?

The headline reads “Paws off table: Tennessee pushes forward with bill to ban service animals from restaurants,” and instantly the blood pressure rises. How could they? Don’t Tennessean legislators know that banning service animals violates the Americans with Disabilities Act? Why would anybody want to make things more difficult for people who rely on service animals? And what kind of jerk actually has a problem with these amazing animals?!

When one reads the article, however, it becomes clear the bill isn’t about banning service animals at all. Have we been clickbaited? Ugh. The bill, SB 1595, says that it “prohibits emotional support animals that are not trained, or being trained, to perform tasks or work for a person with a disability from indoor areas of food service establishments,” which is quite a bit different. Assuming the details are hammered out in a fair and sensible manner, this is just common sense. Given the issues dining establishments and their patrons have had with fake service animals over the last decade or so, a bill like this provides lawmakers some delightfully non-partisan low-hanging fruit.

OK, rage stroke averted. Normally, we'd go back to harping on the misleading headline, but it looks like everybody in the comments section has that covered.

Paws off table: Tennessee pushes forward with bill to ban service animals from restaurants

★     New Texas law imposes a $1,000 fine for fake service animals
★     (2019) Cracking Down on Fake Service Dogs


Major Animal Smuggling Bust at Bangkok Airport

Please stop, thanks.

Every week, we hear a new story about animals being smuggled across the US border, in and around China, or through the Middle East. Thailand is also a hotspot for smugglers. Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok is a huge hub for travelers in SE Asia – and criminals. Last October, a woman flying out of Thailand attempted to sneak baby otters and dozens of other animals into Taiwan, and last month a man was caught trying to smuggle Komodo dragons, pythons, and fish. This week? You guessed it: another bust. Six Indians were caught trying to leave Thailand with almost 100 endangered and exotic animals. Destined for Mumbai, the animals, which included monitors, parrots, and even a red panda, were slated to be sold on the black market.

The trade of exotic animals and their products has been illegal in India since 1972, but the country's illegal exotic pet trade is estimated to be worth $134 million, and it has a strong, symbiotic relationship with other forms of organized crime, so it is easy to understand why it persists. The law has been amended to include harsher punishments for animal cruelty and black market deals, but wildlife officials are waiting on formal government guidelines to be published.

Endangered red panda among 87 live animals seized from smugglers at Thailand airport

★     Mongolian Arrested Trying To Smuggle Komodo Dragons, Pythons Out Of Thailand
★     Woman accused of smuggling 33 live animals onto flight


Pets Improve Our Mental and Physical Health

Researchers have found that interacting with animals and keeping pets provides substantial mental health benefits. Not only that, our desire to care for animals can even outweigh our instinct for comfort or self-preservation. For example, homeless people with pets often opt to remain homeless if the only housing they are able to find is not pet friendly. And it isn’t just dogs. Horses and cats also provide both physical and mental health improvements. Overall, people with animal-rich lives find marked improvement with symptoms from anxiety, depression, hypertension, and even heart complications. Perhaps all that unconditional love is what keeps our bodies and minds in good shape… so we can open the treat bag, of course!

Animals Improve Our Lives

★     How to Stay Healthy Around Pets and Other Animals
★     The heartfelt benefits of pet ownership



Major Increase in Owner Surrendered Dogs Reported. Usual Culprits, Plus a Few Others Named.

Could poor early socialization and training be contributing to owner surrenders? 

After decades of progress, Denver Animal Shelter, Denver’s only open admission, full-service shelter, is reporting a 92% increase in owner surrenders. Yes, they said 92%! Euthanizations are also at a ten-year high, and the shelter has been forced to put dividers in kennels to accommodate its additional dogs.

Shelter director Melanie Sobel cites a litany of all-too-familiar triggers for these increased numbers, most tied to inflation and housing. Being open-admission (which we strongly support!) no doubt brings great additional pressure to the shelter, too. It also can't help that local rescue dogs are forced to compete with the tens of thousands of dogs Colorado shelters import into the state each year (25,672 dogs in 2022*).

Sobel also posits two additional causes, both tied to COVID-19, that aren’t covered as often: owner inability to properly socialize and train pets, and reduced access to low-cost spay/neuter services. The first issue may sound wild, even like a copout, especially since lockdowns and militant social distancing are ancient history for many of us. But if you think about it, puppies that missed critical periods of social development are no doubt still feeling its effects – and now they are fully grown with a long and frustrating record of problem behavior. Maybe Sobel is just spitballing here, but… it does kinda make sense.

Further, while procuring veterinary services is no longer the nightmare it was during summer 2020, it’s still rough, and there are fewer low cost spay/neuter options available than there once were. Pet owners may be shocked to discover long wait times for their pet’s “most important procedure”; it may even cost more to spay Ginger than it did buy her! As far as hard data goes, we don’t have anything but price tags and wait times to go on, but you don’t need to be Cassandra to predict the outcome of pet owners kicking spay/neuter procedures ever further down the road.

Believe it or not, this isn’t all gloom and doom. Denver Animal Shelter also reports adopting out more animals than they have in 10 years, and they are working aggressively and proactively with their community to adopt out even more. On top of that, and perhaps even more importantly, they are heavily focused on pet retention: providing pet owners with the resources they need to properly care for and keep their pets. We think this is a great, forward-thinking approach. A good animal shelter saves lives by placing pets in new, loving homes. A great animal shelter finds ways of making sure pets remain in their current, loving homes.

* This is a number we can easily locate and report thanks to Barbara Reichman, our tireless and intrepid Shelter Project Director. Thanks, Barb!

Denver Animal Shelter sees highest intake of animals in 10 years, 92% increase in owner surrenders

★     Opinion: We are here to care for the animals “no-kill” shelters turn away
★     NAIA Shelter Project: Dogs Imported into Colorado State, 2008-22




Also in the News...

★     Former central Illinois dog groomer sentenced on animal-cruelty charges (Cruelty & Neglect; 12 Dogs in a 110 Degree Shed)
★     April's total solar eclipse will bring a surreal silence and confuse all sorts of animals (Science Sheds Some Light on the Situation)
★     Animal rescue group abandons dozens of dogs at California kennel (Dogs in Crisis; Rescue Gone Wrong)
★     Groceries are expensive, but without these furry predators they could get even pricier (Ecosystems & Climate; Nature's Pest Controllers)
★     Is this your pet? Pics of more stolen animals found in Queens houses of horrors released
 (Cruelty, Neglect, and Theft)
★     Local leaders discuss response to rabid animals following controversial raccoon video (Wildlife Response; Public Health, Safety, and Accountability)
★     You've Never Seen Animals Look Like This (Education & Outreach; oVert 3D Reconstructions)
★     How animals are adapting to the rise of wildfires (Evolution in the Pyrocene)
★     Animals of the ocean depths (Implosively Deep Lists)

Click here to see what is happening legislatively

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