Weekly News Roundup 10/18 to 10/24

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At Hunter College, the New York City dog is leading science

How can you tell how smart your dog really is? It takes a lot of baloney. Researchers at the new Thinking Dog Center at Hunter College in Manhattan are using baloney, stuffed animals, chew toys, and plenty of other treats to test the cognitive abilities of New York’s furriest friends. In her lab a few blocks off Times Square, Sarah-Elizabeth Byosiere, PhD, MS, said her center’s focus on questions such as whether dogs are susceptible to optical illusions could help us better understand our pooches and possibly unleash their full potential as humankind’s best friends. During one recent experiment, a six-year-old cockapoo named Maury was given an optical illusion test to see how dogs’ brains operate in comparison to humans’. . . . more

The University of Arizona wins AVMA approval to launch veterinary college

The University of Arizona (UA) got the green light from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to open its long-awaited College of Veterinary Medicine. On UA’s third attempt for accreditation, the AVMA Council on Wednesday sent the school a letter of reasonable assurance, which allows UA to begin enrolling students in the state’s first public veterinary medicine college. The university will be eligible for a provisional accreditation once the first class of students is enrolled, and for a full accreditation once they graduate. The first class is expected to enroll in fall 2020 and graduate in 2023. Unlike most programs, the UA concept calls for training veterinarians in three years instead of four by having them attend school year-round instead of taking summers off. . . more

Woman found living with more than 300 pet rats in her van in upscale San Diego community

What began with just two pet rats quickly ballooned to more than 300 rodents living inside a van parked near a convenience store in one of San Diego’s more upscale communities. Now, 140 of those van-reared rats are up for adoption. The San Diego Humane Society said it received a call on October 8th from a woman living in her van near a convenience store in Del Mar, saying that the number of pet rats under her care had gotten out of control and she needed help. A Humane Society official said the woman was not hoarding the animals and that it was not a case of cruelty—just an owner asking for help after the number got too large. . . . more

Researchers testing early detection, prevention for deadly canine cancer

The goal of the Shine On project is to develop an effective way to detect and prevent canine hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels that often affects the heart and spleen. Researchers use a blood test to look for the cells responsible for establishing the disease then follow up with an experimental treatment that attacks those cells and prevents a tumor from developing. The work is led by Jaime Modiano, VMD, PhD, professor of oncology and comparative medicine in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at the University of Minnesota. “This project began because of our relationship with the Golden Retriever Club,” Modiano said. “Members of that organization aren’t looking for another treatment option like chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation that might extend a dog’s life, they want a transformational cure.” . . . more

House unanimously passes bill to make animal cruelty a federal felony

Lawmakers in the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a bipartisan bill that would make animal cruelty a federal felony. The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or PACT Act, would make it easier to prosecute those involved in the gruesome killing of animals. Specifically, the bill prohibits the intentional acts of crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling or otherwise subjecting animals to serious bodily harm. Those convicted would face federal felony charges, fines and up to seven years in prison. The bill aims to close a loophole in the 2010 Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which only punished abuse in videos. . . . more