Inside This Issue:

  • Keep Summertime Fun for Your Pets
  • After Mauling, LAAS Announces New Policies
  • Two Is Better than One: Elephant Twins Born in Thailand
  • What Happens to Trafficked Animals After They Are Confiscated?
  • For Many Poisonous Animals, Turnabout Is Fair Play

Special reminder: on June 27th, the CDC's Zoonoses Prevention and Import Regulations Team will host a webinar describing the updated importation regulations that go into effect August 1, affecting dogs being imported into the U.S.

  • When: June 27, 2024, 5-6 p.m. ET
  • Where: Zoom (register below)

Registration is limited and available through the following link:

Now back to your regularly scheduled newsletter.


Keep Summertime Fun for Your Pets

How hot's that pavement?

The first day of summer arrives in less than a week, and along with the start of summer fun, forecasts are also predicting a major heatwave for the eastern United States. We’re sure you know how to handle yourself in hot weather – and honestly, you probably know what your pets need for the heat, too. But we would be remiss not to post a friendly reminder about summer care considerations for your furry companions. So with that out of the way, are you ready? 

First off, staying hydrated is key to surviving summertime. Dogs and cats need clean, fresh water daily, often multiple times, to help thermoregulate when the temps begin to rise. To help your dog stay cool in the summer, ensure that they have access to shade, avoid over-exercising them during peak heat times, and consider using cooling mats or fans.

Regular grooming, especially for long-haired breeds, can also help them manage heat better. The same goes for our feline friends. And of course, don’t leave your pets in the car, even for “just a minute” (you’re probably sick of hearing this, so we promise to stop posting reminders as soon as people stop doing this. Sound like a deal?). Asphalt and concrete can become extremely hot and burn your pet's paws, too. Check the pavement with your hand before walking your pet on it. Offer cool (not cold) baths or dampen a towel with cool water and lay it out for your pet to lie on.

In case of an emergency, here are some tips to recognize heat stress: Be aware of symptoms of heatstroke, including excessive panting, drooling, lethargy, vomiting, and unsteady movements. In cats, signs can include rapid breathing and drooling. If you suspect heatstroke, move your pet to a cool area, offer small amounts of water, and contact a veterinarian. Use cool (not ice-cold) water to gently lower their body temperature. In addition, be mindful that summer can bring an increase in fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Use preventive treatments and check your pets regularly. Who knew summer “fun” could be so much work!



After Mauling, LAAS Announces New Policies 

Not the type of mental association anyone wants for shelter dogs.

Changes are afoot for Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS) in the wake of a horrific, widely publicized dog attack that left an employee critically injured. The employee was at an LAAS shelter, trying to show a "red list" dog to a private rescue, in the hopes the rescue would take the dog. Dogs on the "red list" are scheduled to be euthanized for behavioral or health issues within three weeks. The dog involved in this attack had known behavioral issues, raising questions about why the employee was allowed to go near the animal alone and why the shelter felt allowing the dog to become someone else's liability made for good policy.

In response, the LAAS is retiring its “red list,” and has replaced it with a much shorter 72-hour list. They will also be implementing a buddy system for handling “troubled” (nice euphemism!) dogs. As you might imagine, these policy changes aren’t a home run with anybody.

For the people who – bless their hearts – have never come across a dog that they felt was too aggressive or sick to rehome, this simply validates their suspicions about LAAS. They’ve long felt that LAAS was simply a “conveyor belt of euthanasia” that just loves killing dogs. This contingent of activists feels that pretty much any dog – with the right change of scenery, behavioral therapy, life-saving or extending medical procedures, etc. – is perfectly adoptable. And the new 72-hour list stands to them as proof that the shelter doesn't want to give these dogs a chance.

For the folks who view animal service through the twin lenses of animal welfare and public health and safety, these changes aren’t as offensive, but they still don’t fly. A buddy system could have prevented or reduced the injuries of the employee who was hurt, so that’s a good call. She had no help, and had to resort to hitting the dog with a brick to get it to stop biting her (yeesh!). The department is also promising to “prioritize” (another euphemism?) access to low-cost spay/neuter procedures (access to veterinary services is a huge issue for shelters right now) and to crack down on illegal breeding (whatever that means). If any of this actually materializes, it will help. But ultimately, if a shelter’s practices lead to dangerous dogs harming people or other animals, it doesn’t matter if a euthanasia list is 72 hours or three weeks – it has failed in its obligation to protect public health and safety.



Two Is Better than One: Elephant Twins Born in Thailand

They grow up so fast.

Fifty miles north of Bangkok lies the ancient city of Ayutthya, the former capital of the Kingdom of Siam. Steeped in history and surrounded by deep cultural ties, it is home to one of the most prominent elephant camps in all of Thailand. This camp, the Royal Elephant Kraal Village has been around for ages and was revamped in 2007 to become what it is today - a sacred ground dedicated to the memory of spirits, gods, and the elephants that live with and among the Thai people.

The kraal is a window into time of what a working mahout village would look like. Elephants and people are all over the place engaging in everyday activities. The combined expertise of their mahouts and other caretakers adds up to centuries. This is how it can boast one of the most successful breeding programs in the whole country. And now, they are celebrating a true once in a lifetime event: the birth of twin endangered Asian elephants!

Last Friday one of their dams birthed a healthy baby boy. Then, just shortly thereafter, a baby girl arrived, too! Without skipping a beat, the birth team got to work to provide hands-on care to the mother and her bundles of joy. Since the female calf was much smaller, all those years of expertise are coming in handy to help her nurse and bond to her mother, who was as shocked as anyone to see a second calf. Mom was so shocked, in fact, she initially attacked the unexpected second calf, breaking the ankle of a keeper who stepped in to invervene. Thankfully, they are all getting along now. Also, let's be thankful that there was someone on hand willing to put themselves in danger to help the calf! To be fair, mom's surprise was warranted: twins make up only one percent of elephant births, and when they do have twins, the calves are usually the same sex.

The mahouts will continue to stay by their side 24/7 to guide the introduction process. The babies will be named soon in an official naming ceremony with monks. Asian elephants and their respective subspecies are listed as endangered throughout their 13 range countries. A third of those live in some form of human managed care. These births will add to the success of the Asian elephant population for the future.



What Happens to Trafficked Animals After They Are Confiscated?

If you’ve been following the issue of animal trafficking, you know that the illegal buying, selling, and shipping of animals is a big – and booming – business right now. There is an insatiable demand: people want these illegal animals as food, pets, ornaments (e.g. jewelry), and medicine, and they’re willing to pay big bucks for them. Some drug cartels even use illegal wildlife as currency to pay for the materials they use to make drugs like fentanyl.

Given the huge number of animal trafficking busts that occur each year, you may be wondering what happens to the trafficked animals that are confiscated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). And this is a good question! After all, it’s not like you can just push forty confiscated box turtles out your front door at the end of your workday and then forget about them. The turtles probably won’t survive. And if they do survive, how can you be sure they’re not spreading diseases or eating native wildlife out of house and home? On top of that, these aren’t just animals: they are evidence! There is no scenario in which simply releasing these critters is the safe, responsible thing to do. And nobody wants to euthanize them – haven’t these animals been through enough already? So that means someone has to care for the animals. But who does the caring… and where?

To solve this conundrum, the FWS and Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) have teamed up to create the Wildlife Confiscations Network (WCN). The WCN initiative aims to partner the FWS with animal care facilities – zoos, aquariums, conservancies – that can provide immediate care and housing for trafficked wildlife. The network has enjoyed an auspicious start in Southern California and aims to expand throughout the country. Given the surge in wildlife trafficking we are currently experiencing, expansion couldn’t come at a better time.




For Many Poisonous Animals, Turnabout Is Fair Play

When life gives you lemons...

Despite what you may have been taught by The Princess Bride, Mithridatism – consuming non-lethal amounts of a poison over time in order to build up a resistance to it – is a dangerous and highly dubious endeavor. Generally speaking, even if you’re able to condition your body to better handle a poison, you still face the risk of long-term damage (see: alcohol) and/or it still won’t take that much to seriously harm or kill you (see: cyanide). That said, while we can’t recommend emulating Mithridate or Westley, it is possible for a population to develop resistance to toxins over the course of generations. The famous example is San Antonio de los Cobres, an Argentinian village with arsenic-rich water and residents with a mutation that helps them process the environmental toxin.

But as impressive as that is, such mutations are small potatoes compared to the abilities animals have honed over the course of millions of years. Research demonstrates that numerous animals have not only developed the ability to tolerate and process dangerous and deadly poisons, but also to defend themselves with those same toxins!

For example, we all know about the colorful poison dart frogs of South America. But did you know that these fantastically poisonous frogs don’t hatch as toxic tadpoles? Poison dart frogs actually seek out a diet of poisonous bugs, then store the insects' toxins in their own skin. This poisonous diet is perfectly harmless to the frog (and possibly quite delicious), but make the frog a dangerous, even deadly snack for would-be predators. This is why captive-bred dart frogs aren't dangerous to their owners – they aren't eating a steady diet of poison. Similarly, songbirds in the rainforests of New Guinea store toxins in their feathers, though in this case, it is thought the poison is more about effective pest control – lice, mosquitoes, etc. – than staying off the menu.

This phenomenon of co-opting toxins is undoubtedly annoying to hungry predators, though as you have probably already guessed, the evolutionary battle of wits is in a perpetual state of escalation. Still, what fascinating research, and what a fantastic example of animals turning nature’s lemons into lemonade!



Also in the News...

★     NAIA Welcomes Inclusion of New Animal and Public Health Protections in Farm Bill Framework (NAIA; Farm Bill; Dog Importation)
★     More animals coming to Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter (Shelters & Rescue Issues; A Call for Community Help with Strays)
★     Watch this lost dog's joy at finally reuniting with his owner after two years
 (Heartwarming Videos; Fantastic Argument for Permanent ID)
★     Oregon Coast Aquarium to receive $500K for Marine Wildlife Rehab Center (Wildlife Rehab & Conservation; Aquariums; Take the Whole Family)
★     Adoption fees will be waived Saturday at Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League (Shelters & Rescues; Adoption Opportunities)
★     Fire kills hundreds of caged animals, including puppies and birds, at famous market in Thailand (Disasters & Other Bad News)
★     Iceland permits whaling amid animal welfare criticism (Whaling; Culture Clashes, Legislation, and Trade) 
★     The Top 5 Animals Most Likely To Survive Global Disaster (Survival Horror Lists; Two Shoo-Ins, Two Surprises)

Click here to see what is happening legislatively

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