DEAR DR. FOX: Some of my friends and I have adopted dogs from shelters and dog rescue organizations, and it seems like they are making a lot of money bringing puppies and grown dogs up from Southern states.
There are enough local dogs and pups needing homes around where we live, so what’s going on? -- T.L., Fargo, North Dakota
DEAR T.L.: You are raising what some would call an impertinent question. In the eyes of critics, many shelters -- the most notable where I live being Minnesota’s Animal Humane Society -- and some in-state dog rescue organizations have essentially become brokers for dogs brought at little cost from shelters in Southern states.
The Southern shelters do all neutering and vaccinating, and contribute to transportation costs. Recipient “nonprofit” organizations charge $400 and more per dog put up for adoption. In many instances, which I have documented, they have released such dogs for adoption carrying heartworm, hookworm and giardia, putting other dogs (and people) at risk. These groups also often release neutered cats to fend for themselves in communities across the country.
It is virtually impossible for a concerned citizen to make any headway in questioning such activities. City councils and state public health authorities, along with the Better Business Bureau, need to take a closer look at the operations and income of local animal shelters and rescue organizations. Also deserving of scrutiny are those selling dogs and pups online, many of whom pass on traumatized adult breeding-stock dogs and too-old-for-sale pups from the commercial puppy mill industry. For dogs’ sakes, these groups cannot continue to be a law unto themselves.
DEAR DR. FOX: Our chocolate Labrador retriever wore a fence-line triggering shock collar for two to three years of her life, and developed laryngeal paralysis around age 10. -- S.J., Springfield, Missouri
DEAR S.J.: Your communication is appreciated. I will put the word out to alert dog owners and veterinarians to consider the possible connection, as detailed in an earlier column, of laryngeal paralysis with fence-line triggering shock collars. This may or may not be the case for your dog, but we should not throw caution to the wind.
NOVEL TREATMENTS FOR DOGS
-- A company in Connecticut is developing personalized veterinary cancer vaccines, based on deactivated cells and tissue from the animal’s own tumors, to stimulate the immune system to recognize specific tumor-associated antigens and kill cancerous cells.
Veterinarians who want to try the experimental vaccine for solid tumors can request a collection kit and send a sample of the excised tumor to the company, which will return the personalized vaccine in 72 hours for weekly administration over a three-week period. (American Veterinarian, July 2)
This news item brought to mind a circa-1960 report from the Soviet Union that made exactly the same claims, and may be well worth pursuing in these times of increasing cancer incidence in dogs.
-- Injections of stem cells from the dog’s own fatty tissue improved symptoms of osteoarthritis within one month in 78 percent of dogs participating in a clinical trial, researchers reported in Stem Cells Translational Medicine. And 88 percent showed improvement after six months. Researchers harvested the dogs’ adipose tissue using a minimally invasive, one-step procedure; injected it into the arthritic joint; and saw improvement with no major adverse effects. (HealthDay News, Aug. 2)
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