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Weekly News Roundup 11/ 28 to 12/5

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Florida lawmakers consider bill requiring veterinarians to report animal abuse

Florida House Bill 621 would require veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty to authorities or be in danger of losing their license. It’s called Allie’s Law—named after a Boston terrier whose abuse was spotted but never reported by an Orlando veterinarian. The bill has bipartisan cosponsors. One of them, Representative Dan Daley (Democrat-Coral Springs), said, “Animal abuse is an indicator that a home is not safe and is usually correlated with family dysfunction including domestic, child, and elder abuse. I am honored to work on this bipartisan legislation this year . . . and intend on working to stop the unfair treatment of innocent animals and to break the cycle of abuse.” But some veterinarians have concerns. . . . more

Is it a dog or is it a wolf? 18,000-year-old frozen puppy leaves scientists baffled

The 18,000-year-old body of a near-perfectly preserved puppy has left scientists puzzled. Russian scientists discovered the body of the canine near Yakutsk, in eastern Siberia. Preserved by permafrost, the specimen’s nose, fur, and teeth are remarkably intact. Using carbon dating on the creature’s rib bone, experts from Sweden’s Center for Palaeogenetics were able to confirm that the specimen had been frozen for around 18,000 years, but extensive DNA tests have so far been unable to show whether the animal was a dog or a wolf. “It’s normally relatively easy to tell the difference between the two,” said a researcher at the Center. “We have a lot of data from it already, and with that amount of data, you’d expect to tell if it was one or the other. The fact that we can’t might suggest that it’s from a population that was ancestral to both—to dogs and wolves.” . . . more

Embattled dog-walking app Wag hit with new accusation

The beleaguered dog-walking app Wag—which has been accused of killing or losing at least 15 pets—has another controversy on its hands. Angela Composto, a 52-year-old Long Island native, told reporters she used the app last month to hire a dog walker for her eight-year-old Yorkshire terrier, Bella, and three-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Chloe—and the Yorkie ended up dead. “I couldn’t understand how a little dog goes out on a walk and comes back dead,” Composto said. Composto, who lives in Miramar, Florida, said she hired the dogwalker, only known as Hannah, through the app on October 20 while she was out of town. Hannah picked up Composto’s dogs from her house around 7:30 a.m. and returned at 8:18 a.m. with Chloe on a leash—and a limp and seemingly lifeless Bella in her arms, according to Composto’s home surveillance video. . . . more

Internet celebrity cat Lil Bub has died

Lil Bub, the feline internet celebrity who brought joy to millions of fans, has died. Her owner, Mike Bridavsky, announced her death on social media last Tuesday in a post celebrating her life and influence on animal welfare and research for special needs pets. She passed peacefully in her sleep at eight years old. Born as the runt of her litter with a form of feline dwarfism, Lil Bub’s genetic mutations gave her the unique features of looking like a permanent kitten. She’s been the subject of a genetic research campaign to better understand gene mutations, and helped raise more than $700,000 for animals in need. . . . more

He didn’t want to be a statistic. So he set off on a road trip with Grandma Joy

When Brad Ryan’s classmate at Ohio State University died by suicide in 2015, he knew he needed to get away from veterinary school for a while. Ryan didn’t know and had never spoken to the second-year veterinary student, but the man’s death still hit home. “I so deeply empathized with the depths of the pain that he must have been in that I felt just a lot of profound sadness that I couldn’t have had a conversation with him and make him see that there was some reason to stick it out, and that there are better things ahead,” Ryan said. So he called his then-85-year-old grandma, Joy Ryan, and asked if she wanted to accompany him to Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the North Carolina and Tennessee border. She had recently shared with her grandson that she had never seen a mountain, and he made it his mission to change that. . . . more