Friday, January 28, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rat Cake

Apparently this is meant to be a possum cake, but I know a rat when I see one.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hartz Collar and Lead Combo

ALL IN 1 COLLAR & LEAD COMBOI would like to sound a note of caution about the Hartz Collar and Lead Combo, which I see is know stocked in quite a few supermarkets and grocery stores.  I use this product myself for a single purpose.  Every time I pop out to the mail box or laundry room my dog wants to come with me.  He walks at heel but there is a leash requirement within the apartment building, so I keep this by the door.  I can put it on and take it off one handed easy than a leash with a latch.

That said, I would never use this as a leash for going on a walk more than the twenty meters or so to my mailbox and back.  I would not use it outside and never with a dog that would pull.  In the package you could mistake this for being a budget-priced collar and leash.  But actually it is a single nylon rope with a hand loop on one end and a noose style arrangement with a metal sliding ring on the other (see picture). This style of slip or kennel leash is rarely sold in retail stores because it isn't a great idea to use them other than for short, indoor transfers of animals.

A small leather tab is provided but the illustration on the package suggests this is intended to stop the noose end from opening far enough for the dog to slip out, not (as I had assumed) to stop it from closing too tight and choking the dog.  It is not very effective for either function. 

In my opinion the Hartz All in 1 Collar & Lead Combo should not be used in place of a normal collar and leash for dog walking due to it presenting a potential choking hazard for the dog. This lead should certainly never be used as a tether. It seems to me that the fine print disclaimer on the packaging is in no way sufficient when it comes to make the limitations of this product clear.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sisterhood is Powerful

This is just too cute.  A same-sex, mixed-species househoud wear a bantam hen is helping to raise baby rabbits.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Previous Appearances

  • May, 207: What a Rat Knows: Rat Cognition ad its Implications for Environmental Enrcihment. QUAD AALAS 
ABSTRACT: "Cognitive enrichment" is a topic that is currently experiencing  a resurgence of interest, but is rarely a systematic part of rodent enrichment programs in the laboratory. Enrichment options that include all parts of the operant "three term contingency" have special benefits in that they exploit the animals species-specific form of intelligence to create positive states of anticipation and promote an "optimistic" orientation.  Examples include properly designed examples of free operant training, foraging, nest building, exploring/investigation, social contact and positive handling protocols.
  • July 28, 2014: Environmental Enrichment for Companion animals--from lab to lap. AVMA Annual Convention.
  • May 16, 2013: Reporting of Suspected Animal Abuse by Veterinarians . The Chicago Bar Association 
  • May 21-22, 2013: Companion Animal Welfare
    Of Pugs, Pigs, and Pandas: Animal Welfare at Home, Farm, Lab, and Zoo
  • June 5-6, 2013  Beyond the Human-Animal Bond
    Zoo Animal Welfare: Innovations & Future Directions  
  • October 28, 2013: Animal Welfare within the AVMA. 64th AALAS National Meeting.  
  •  October 30, 20132013 AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals. 64th AALAS National Meeting.  
  • March 18, 2013: Update on the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Panel on Euthanasia.  2013 Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) Conference
  • September 4 2012, at Veterinary Assistant - Continuing Educations, Harper College. On the topic of The Human-Animal Bond.
  • August 4, 2012, at 2012 AVMA Annual Convention. On the topic of: Institutionalization Of Neglect And Abuse how Does It Happen?
ABSTRACT: 'Animal abuse' is a term that describes any act that causes suffering or death of an animal and is not socially acceptable. Increasing, acts of abuse occurring in a workplace (e.g. farm, laboratory, breeding facility, shelter) have been recorded and widely publicized. Theories relating to workplace violence help to illuminate the multiple causes of workplace animal abuse and suggest strategies for reducing risk, and areas in need of further research.  
  • March 20, 2012, at PRIMR  2012 IACUC Conference. On the topic of: Update on the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia.
  • February 12, 2012, at Bioconference Live. On the topic of: Beyond environmental enrichment--providing good environments for experimental animals. [Full details here].
  • August 22, 2011, at the the 8th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences. On the topic of: Sensitivity of animals and application of the Three Rs (presented by Marylin Brown). 
  • July 31 - August 4, 2011, at the annual meeting of the International Society for Applied Ethology. On the topic of: Animal Abuse and Cruelty: An Evolutionary Perspective.
  •  April 14, 2011: the Third Annual MSMR Enrichment Symposium "ALL CREATURES BIG AND SMALL ...Animal Enrichment in a Laboratory Environment"--Horizons of Enrichment: the History, Accomplishments and Aspirations of Environmental Enrichment. 
  • January 20th, 2011: Animal Law Committee of the Chicago Bar Association--Animal Abuse, Mandatory Reporting and the Veterinarian.
  • October 16th, 2010:  KVMA Fall Conference--Animal Welfare, Animal Rights, and the Role of the Veterinary Profession.

Business Cards

In the end I went for something simple and fairly traditional:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Break with "Breaking"

"Breaking" is an archaic term for training and animals, specifically "to train (an animal) to adjust to the service or convenience of humans" [Merriam-Webster]. But it is time to put this term to bed.  Not only does it has connotation of damage and violence, it is out of tune with modern ethics that both human and animal should benefit from living or working together.

This obsolete term jumped out at me from a Chicago tribune report today.  The article was covering the prosecution of Muddy paws Dog Rescue owner and operator Diane Eldrup.  Eldrup clear succumbed to some kind of 'break down' herself in allowing at least eighteen dogs and three birds to starve to death in their cages.

Four dogs were recovered alive and are being carefully rehabilitated, including feeding them back to a healthy weight and house-training them.  A wonderful activityy that is jarringly referred to as: "house-breaking".  As if these dogs have not already been sufficiently 'broken'. Locked in a enclosure and not even given food and water in return.

Now they are being prepared a home, care and love.  A contract which in turn requests that they be calm and defecate outside the house.  An agreement based on co-operation, commitment, and a promise that--this time--should not be broken.

Upcoming Appearances

June 24, 2017: Vehicular heatstroke in dogs: a case of cognitive error. International Society for Anthrozoology Conference. Davis, CA.
Abstract: Leaving dogs inside vehicles during hot weather can cause them to suffer from heatstroke, which is often fatal. While public campaigns have raised awareness of this issue, incidences continue to occur. An analysis of over 200 media reports of occurrences of fatal vehicular heatstroke in dogs revealed that the dog owners involved differ from those that carry out other kinds of animal abuse. They are frequently experienced and highly-bonded dog owners or in dog-related professions, but nevertheless chose to leave their dog in a high risk situation (high temperature, extended time periods). Publicity campaigns around leaving dogs in cars have to date have emphasized the suffering caused to the dog, including reporting of how temperatures can increase in parked cars; videos of people reacting to the heat in a parked car; graphic images and videos comparisons of a parked car to an oven; and public shaming via social media. These campaigns have had good penetration and their major messages are well-known in the dog owning community and may already have significantly reduced the incidence of at risk behavior. The authors include a psychologist and communications expert who developed profiles of the types of people, dogs, and situations implicated in recent fatal canine vehicular heatstroke events. They identified a mismatch between the likely motivations of these offenders and the fear/threat-based publicity campaigns currently used to discourage this behavior. A theoretical framework was drawn from “Protection Motivation theory” and its application in other situations where the more experienced and competent people in a target population are paradoxically exposed a greater risk of adverse events. Evidence from a range of public health campaigns shows that messaging emphasizing the severity of the adverse event may be rejected, while increasing the perception of the probability of that event and the efficacy of a protective response is more likely to motivate people to adopt safer behavior patterns.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Book Project

I am working on a new book proposal and things are going pretty well.  I am about half way through the first sample chapter.

I know the subtitle of the book will be something like: PSYCHIC DOGS AND THE PEOPLE WHO STUDY THEM.

But I am completely stuck on what to use as title.  DOG PSI? THE DOGS OF WOO? PARANORMAL POOCHES?

 Any ideas?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Animal Welfare Group: Linked In

If you are on LinkedIn and involved in animal welfare you might want to join this group. Having a few spare minutes I whipped up a basic logo for them (right).  I bet someone out there can come up with something better.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Rainbow Bridge

One of the most common euphemisms used for the death of a pet is 'crossing the rainbow bridge'.  I must confess that I generally find this kind of imagery cloying.  I had long been considering posting a blog about letting those of us with a more 'matter of fact' approach, do things our own way.  The rainbow and angel imagery of pet loss can become rather cloying for some people.

But then I heard this 'pep talk' given by one of those motivation-slash-management experts.  He was addressing a room full of veterinarians and related one of the most meaningful things he experienced in a veterinarian's office.  It was after he and his wife has their beloved ailing old dog euthanized, and someone in the clinic gave them a copy of 'the Rainbow Bridge'.

I guess it helped me realise that what might seem like trite imagery to a cynic like me can be genuinely helpful to people in a time of need.  And sometimes sentimental image hits exactly the right note.  So I shall try and be less 'bah humbug' about the rainbow bridge from now one.  The full text, author unknown, is as follows:

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.

There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Open Source Exploitation

Since leaving the halls of academia, but not the activities of science, I certainly have come to miss having access to university subscriptions to peer-reviewed journals.  And while not a whole-hearted convert, I do appreciate open source journals.  So when I received  an email announcing that reputable journal publisher SAGE was launching an open source journal, I was quite enthusiastic.

Until, that is, I got to the line that said "$195 introductory author acceptance fee (discounted from the regular price of $695)."

I understand that if the reader is not monetising the system, something has to. But I absolutely reject the idea that the gap can be filled by moving to a vanity-publishing model where the scientist has to not only come up with money to do the research, and to make a living... and then even more to get the research published.  A vanity model of publishing undermines the value of the the research and undermines the neutrality of the journal's editorial standards.

Not only will I not be submitting to SAGE Open, I won't be reading it either. If SAGE cannot support this activity as a public service I would suggest that they investigate securing a sponsor, donations, grants or advertisers rather than loading yet more cost onto researcher. If Open Source journals simply cannot exist without contributor fees, then maybe they shouldn't exist at all.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

BF Skinner

I recent uncovered thiscollage, from the days when I was working on my PhD.  BF Skinner gets a lot of bad press, but I think people fail to see everyhting he contributed to the study of behavior.  Every paradigm has strengths and weakness, and every person gets to use, recombine and adapt these archetypal approaches. Learning not to idolise or demonise entire philosophies is part of growing up as an academic, and taking responsibility for your own intellect.