Weekly News Roundup 5/25–5/31


Australia builds world’s longest cat-proof fence

A conservation agency has constructed what is believed to be the world’s longest cat-proof fence in central Australia to save native wildlife and vegetation ravaged by the feline predators. The Australian Wildlife Conservancy this month finished building and electrifying the 27.3-mile fence to create a predator-free area of more than 23,000 acres. Australia has the highest extinction rate in the world; its declining populations are affected by habitat loss as well as introduced creatures such as cats, foxes, and rabbits going feral and killing native species across the vast continent. Cats were first introduced to Australia by British immigrants in the late 1700s as domestic pets, but some went wild and spread across the continent over the next 100 years. Today, feral cats are believed to number between 10 and 20 million across Australia.

Michigan lawmaker wants to ban debarking

Michigan Representative Tim Sneller has owned dogs all his life, including his current rescue pet, Oscar, a miniature dachsund whose woof is always welcome. He wants to make sure that other pet owners appreciate that a dog’s bark is an essential, multipurpose signal—that they need to go out, eat, or provide a warning of impending danger—and prohibit veterinarians from performing debarking procedures. He’s introduced a bill that bans the procedure of removing tissue from a dog’s vocal cords in order to reduce or soften her bark. “That’s the way the dog communicates with us,” he said. “To have this done just because you don’t want to hear a dog bark is cruel and unusual punishment.”

Dog flu outbreak hits New York

Veterinarians in New York City are warning dog owners about a dangerous strain of the canine flu that is spreading in the area. Experts say the H3N2 virus has sickened about 500 dogs on the West Coast this year and is believed to be making its way east. Since April, three dozen cases of dog influenza have been reported in Brooklyn, and more recently, a few cases have been reported in Manhattan. Dennis J. Slade, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM), a staff member at AAHA-accredited Animal Medical Center in New York City, told The New York Times that the current strain of the dog flu virus is pretty infectious and would most likely spread throughout the city. Slade says there’s about a 10% chance that dog flu could lead to a secondary infection that could be fatal. But he says most healthy dogs should be fine.

First veterinarian elected to the US Senate dies at 93

John Melcher, DVM, a Montana Democrat and the first veterinarian elected to the United States Senate, died April 12 at his home in Missoula, Montana. He was 93. On April 19, the Senate passed a resolution honoring their colleague’s humility and integrity, devotion to his family and home state, and years of public service. Members of the veterinary community also celebrated Melcher’s life. “Senator Melcher was devoted to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the profession, agriculture, and Montana,” said Mark Lutschaunig, VMD, MBA, director of the AVMA Governmental Relations Division. Melcher earned a DVM degree from Iowa State University in 1950. He and his family moved to Forsyth, Montana, where he opened Yellowstone Veterinary Clinic, a mixed practice that he ran until his election to Congress in 1969. Melcher was first elected to the Senate in 1976, and was reelected twice.

How to make your pet an Instagram star

Social media stars with millions of followers are impressive, but most of them are just humans. It’s the pets with a big social media presence who are raking in the big bucks. Animal celebrities like Doug the Pug and Grumpy Cat who land endorsement contracts can make serious bank by posting for a leading brand. With the explosion of superstar pets in the past decade, many pet owners are wondering how they can get in on the action. That’s where special marketing agencies like #paid can help. Bryan Gold, the agency’s cofounder, shares some hot tips about how ordinary people with extraordinary pets can match them with big-name brands for money-making collaborations. Here’s a hint: A cute pet may get a quick glance, but compelling stories and a big personality count for more.

NEWStat Interesting/unusual