Weekly News Roundup 2/7 to 2/13

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Service animals in the lab: Who decides?

Before they enter the research lab where they spend most work days, Joey Ramp outfits service dog Sampson with his own personal safety gear: goggles, a lab coat, and four boots—one for each paw. If Ramp, Sampson’s owner, has her way, service animals like Sampson will become a much more common sight in university and professional laboratories. Ramp is a former horse trainer and a current researcher at Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A traumatic horse-training accident in 2006 left her with lasting physical and psychological trauma. She now uses a service dog to help her balance while she’s walking, pick things up for her, and assist in situations that might trigger her PTSD. . . . more

New FDA policy allows lab animals to be adopted after experiments

Lab animals used for research by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have a new lease on life. A recent policy change by the federal agency now permits the adoption, transfer, and retirement of healthy animals to shelters and sanctuaries after they’ve been involved in lab experiments. Animals were previously euthanized after being used in experiments. The policy took effect in November, but had not been previously disclosed by the FDA. Species affected by the rule change include common pets such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs, as well as some farm animals. . . . more

Researchers study canines’ influence on children with autism

One Purdue research study is sending kids diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) home with dogs in hopes of discovering how they affect their day-to-day lives. “From what people tell us, it seems like they think that their child is able to be more comfortable in social settings (because of the dogs),” said Maggie O’Haire, PhD, a project coordinator and associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine. The Purdue Canines for Autism Research Study, a two-year Purdue study that launched last fall, will follow how service dogs impact not only children with ASD but their families as well. The research looks at how the service dog affects the child’s autism symptomatology by analyzing how exposure to the service dog alters the child’s saliva, which contains the stress hormone cortisol. . . . more

Siba the standard poodle beats out fan favorite Daniel for Westminster crown

For the first time in nearly three decades, a standard poodle has earned the right to adorn her leash with Westminster laurels. Siba, with her elegant sable locks, walked away with Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday night. To manage the feat, Siba, owned and bred by Connie S. Unger, had to outlast some 2,500 competitors representing 204 breeds across three days. Her triumph makes her the fifth standard poodle ever to win the top prize at the 144-year-old competition and the first of her breed to do so since a powerhouse pup by the name of Whisperwind on a Carousel did it in 1991. . . . more

Strange and furry photographs from the world of dog shows

For New York City–based photographer Dolly Faibyshev, the world of dog shows such as the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and the American Kennel Club National Championship is a world filled with humor and irony around every corner. For years, Faibyshev has been a fixture at dog shows across the country, capturing the canine divas and their colorful characters in her unique and vibrant style of shooting. Faibyshev’s new book, Best in Show, brings together these pictures in a surprising look into these competitions. . . . more

Denver just voted to end its 30-year ban on pit bulls

The Denver City Council has voted to reverse its 30-year ban on pit bulls, dogs who have long divided local governments, housing authorities, and military bases over what experts say is a misconception that they are predisposed to be violent. The ban, first enacted in 1989, was lifted by a vote of seven to four. A new law that permits but still regulates pit bull ownership within the city limits will take effect in 90 days, pending approval from the mayor. In Denver, the path to pit bull ownership will begin with a breed-restricted license, which registers the animal with the city and requires proof that the dog has been microchipped, vaccinated for rabies, and spayed or neutered. . . . more