That’s one for us.

VilsackPresident-elect Obama was considering former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack for USDA Secretary of Agriculture. Vilsack has been an ardent supporter of Monsanto, genetically engineered crops, and corn and soy-based biofuels. Thanks to vocal opposition from thousands in the Organic Consumer’s Association (OCA) network, Vilksack’s nomination has now been withdrawn. Although Vilsack told the Des Moines Register he didn’t want to comment on why he had been sacked, sources at the Obama transition headquarters reported “a flood of calls and emails” from organic consumers opposing Vilsack’s nomination. The OCA office in Washington, DC is submitting a petition with 8,000 signatures to Obama’s transition team this week, urging Obama to take a strong stand in support of organic food and farming. Now that the OCA has eliminated biotech booster Vilsack from the nomination, there’s a list of candidates to head the USDA that Obama needs to be considering. Check them out here.

And, learn more about why organics are integral for both your 2 and 4-footed family members. Just click here.

Sunbear Squad Watch Tip of the Week: Nov 30th

The Sunbear Squad has resolved to make a difference for neglected and abused companion animals. They are transforming animal lovers into animal welfare defenders — with knowledge, tools, and inspiration.

Watch Tip: Watch for pets sickened by eating rich holiday leftovers or cooked turkey bones. Be a Good Samaritan for Animals.


Be Sunbear Squad Informed
5 Simple Things
Bill of Rights for Pets
Risk Factor List
Learn about Abuse
Action Guidelines

Be Sunbear Squad Active
Neighborhood Watch
YouNet FAQ
Start a Squad
Free Materials

Be Sunbear Squad Prepared
Wallet Card
Roadside Rescue Kit
Disaster Plans
Reciprocal Fostering
SCRAPS Breathing
Be Sunbear Squad Inspired
Roadkilled Blessings
Be a Good Samaritan
Inspirational Sayings
Avoid Dog Slang
Humane Awards

UT OH, all bets are off.

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Industrial chemicals such as melamine may actually be able to cross from the feed to the food chain. Truly, that is too scary to even imagine. And, it exemplifies why organic standards must not be altered or loosened, as such standards really provide the safety we all need.

An incredible diary from “Deep Harm” at Daily Kos revealed the following:

A blockbuster revelation in the melamine scandal arrived today in the form of a little-noticed statement by the world’s largest food company, Nestle, which announced that melamine discovered in its baby formula in South Africa was caused by “contaminated animal feed” fed to dairy animals.  In a May 7, 2007 diary, I  had warned about such a problem and urged FDA officials to test U.S. milk supplies after melamine was discovered here in corn gluten that is sometimes fed to dairy cows.

Today’s news follows an Associated Press report, on Wednesday, that the FDA had found traces of melamine or cyanuric acid had been found in U.S.-produced infant formula, prompting demands for a recall.

Melamine causes kidney stones and kidney failure. The Chinese babies who recently died all died of kidney and organ failure. So it comes as no surprise that doctors are now seeing a rise in kidney stones in US children as young as 5.

Can we really believe huge companies like Nestle as well as the FDA when they tell us that we all are safe? I certainly don’t. We need to be testing US dairy products for potential melamine contamination. And, we need to question the strength of the previous interim risk assessments issued by US food safety officials.  Public comments on the most recent assessment will be accepted through January 12, 2009.

Melamine contamination of human food is real. Its in (non-U.S.) coffee, Snickers, KitKat, M&Ms and Heinz products such as baby cereals and crackers. There is also contamination in eggs, which got there via tainted animal feed. This has caused United Nations officials to worry that it is also in chicken, pork, farmed fish and other meats.

Don’t Let the Bush Administration Cut Short the Debate on Organic Standards

For eight years the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has stood with organic family farmers in an effort to crack down on the handful of giant factory farms, each milking thousands of cows, that are misrepresenting themselves as organic. The USDA just put out a draft rule that would require mandatory pasturing of dairy cows during the full growing season, with a minimum of 30% of their feed  coming from pasture forage. The OCA and the organic community supports this tightening up of pasture and feed standards.

Unfortunately the proposed new regulation still includes a loophole that would allow large dairy farms to bring non-organic heifers, or young milk cows onto their farms, and then call them organic. The Bush USDA has allowed only a 60-day comment period from the public on this rule. More time is needed to mobilize consumers and farmers to close this loophole and decertify the
dozen or so industrial-scale dairy feedlots operated or sourced by large dairy corporations such as Aurora, Horizon, Rockview, and Shamrock, who supply cheap “organic” milk to Wal-Mart, Safeway, Costco and other chains
.

Please send a message to the USDA secretary asking for a 30-day extension to the public comment period so all farmers, including Amish families that don’t have e-mail, and consumers, have a chance to review this rule and make their views known.

Simply take 30 seconds to click here and a ready-made letter is all ready for you to send.

Demo of Inhalant Therapy for Osteosarcoma


Dr. Carlos Rodriguez of UC Davis’ Center for Companion Animal Health, part of the School of Veterinary Medicine, demonstrates how the aerosol form of gemcitabine was administered to dogs in a recent research study to see if tumors in the lungs could be eliminated completely or stopped from growing. The drug gemcitabine has been shown to kill osteosarcoma cells in tissue culture and in mice when administered as a breathable mist.

Baby Animals ….. oh my!

On this day of thanks, take some time to experience some baby joy. Almost 400 photos are in this wonderful slideshow . . . definitely major time cute overload.

Just click on the photo below to get started.

Orangutan Siti, left, holds her baby orangutan, Isalie, in the enclosure of the Munich Zoo, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008. Isalie was born in the zoo in Hellabrunn on July 14, 2008. AP photo.

Rational thinking and guidance …. so welcome, for a change

Everyday here, I provide a Daily Golden Thought, so exemplifying my own REBT training and life-living philosophy. Surely, without it, I would not be able to handle my current disabling condition.

So, it is refreshing to have Mr. No Drama Obama coming to the helm and to know that Valerie Bowman Jarrett, his senior advisor in the coming administration, is just as wise. Ms. Jarrett plans to arrive at the White House with a unique list of her 21 life lessons, and they are spot on. Not organized in any particular order, they are . . .

1. To thine own self be true.
2. All leaders are passionate about their beliefs, even the ones you don’t like.
3. Trust your gut after you have listened, studied and learned from those with a diverse range of opinions.
4. You never know who is watching, so work as hard as you can regardless of the assignment.
5. Don’t stay in your comfort zone too long.
6. As my grandmother would say: put yourself in the path of lightning.
7. Be flexible because opportunities rarely knock at the most opportune moments.
8. Take time to be kind to everyone.
9. Focus on your priorities.
10. In order to lead, someone must follow.
11. Effective leadership depends on your ability to connect and motivate people, not on your title, position or power.
12. Set high standards for yourself and your team (lead by example).
13. Take the time to develop personal relationships all along the way, and really cultivate those upon whom you depend. In order for them to help you, they must know you. And you must know what will motivate them. Nurture them so they can help you lead. They must believe in not just your ideas, but you.
14. Good will matters.
15. Women are particularly good at listening and studying their audience.
16. Have the courage to make tough decisions.
17. When you lead, not everyone will follow, and that’s okay.
18. You will fail. Don’t take your failures or your success too seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself. Trust me. It helps.
19. Affiliate yourself with worthy institutions, lead by good people who share your core values.
20. You can have it all, just not at the same time, and in the proportions you may want.
21. To those who much is given, much is expected.

New Guide Dog Africa has awful big pawprints to fill.

Michael Hingson getting hug from Guide Dog Roselle

Michael Hingson getting hug from Guide Dog Roselle

Michael Hingson has been a Guide Dog user for the past 43 years, his Guide Dogs all provided to him at no cost by Guide Dogs for the Blind. (You can learn more about guide dogs at our foundation site.)

Michael became world famous after the attacks on 9/11. His Guide Dog Roselle led him from the 78th floor of the World Trade Center and away from the collapsing buildings to safety. Roselle was asleep under Hingson’s desk during the terrorist attacks, and helped lead Hingson down all those stairs to the street through a hazy maze of debris and chaos.

Dickin Medal "For Gallantry"RoselleRoselle was inducted into the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association Hall of Fame, and received a number of awards for her teamwork with Michael. She was awarded the Dickin Medal from Britain for her devotion to duty. The medal is recognized worldwide as “the animals’ Victoria Cross” (in American terms, the animal equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor). Roselle was also awarded the Kennel Club 2002 Ace Award for Service Dog of the Year. Several years ago she developed a blood disorder and took an early retirement. Michael has no proof but is quite certain that the disorder is a result of the toxic fumes and dust she inhaled on that horrendous day in 2001.

Roselle has since retired and officially hung up her harness over a year ago, the San Rafael, CA based Guide Dogs for the Blind throwing her a huge retirement party, complete with a 21-gun salute. Today, Roselle is relaxing as a pampered pet in the Hingson home in northern California.

But, moving on, Michael has needed to begin a partnership with a new guide dog. Honestly, I cannot imagine how stressful that must be, for both the handler and the dog who now must understand that s/he does not get to be out and about as much, and needs to learn to accept a life of leisure rather than work. Roselle led Michael for 7 years and as he says “remains my friend, a member of my family and a hero to me and so many others”. But, his next guide dog Meryl, who had worked with him this past year and a half, had to be retired.

My sixth guide dog Meryl succeeded Roselle and has been my guide for the past year and a half. Unfortunately, Meryl has not been able to adapt well to the constantly changing demands of my active schedule. Last week, I had to retire Meryl to relieve her from the stress she was exhibiting while guiding.

For any blind person who has to retire a guide dog, the change associated with transitioning from one guide to another is difficult and sometimes can be very traumatic. For my part, I know that retiring Meryl was the best thing that I could do for her. She returned to Guide Dogs for the Blind for a complete evaluation, with the possibility that she be retrained and reissued to another blind person where she can be a better match. Meantime, I eagerly wait to see who my seventh guide dog will be.

Well, Michael brought home his newest Guide Dog, Africa, on November 13, 2008, and he has set up a wonderful diary to document his training with her. It is a marvelous insight into the world of guide dogs and their development. Just click here to learn more and travel a most unique journey with Michael & Africa.

Michael Hingson with new Guide Dog Africa

Sunbear Squad Watch Tip of the Week: Nov 24th

The Sunbear Squad has resolved to make a difference for neglected and abused companion animals. They are transforming animal lovers into animal welfare defenders — with knowledge, tools, and inspiration.

Watch Tip:Watch for pets along roadsides; they may be injured by vehicles during heavy holiday traffic. Be prepared to stop and call for assistance. Be a Good Samaritan for animals.


Be Sunbear Squad Informed
5 Simple Things
Bill of Rights for Pets
Risk Factor List
Learn about Abuse
Action Guidelines

Be Sunbear Squad Active
Neighborhood Watch
YouNet FAQ
Start a Squad
Free Materials

Be Sunbear Squad Prepared
Wallet Card
Roadside Rescue Kit
Disaster Plans
Reciprocal Fostering
SCRAPS Breathing
Be Sunbear Squad Inspired
Roadkilled Blessings
Be a Good Samaritan
Inspirational Sayings
Avoid Dog Slang
Humane Awards

Females and Baby Tiger Swim Pals – Video Update

Moksha Bybee swims with Balavan a 1-year-old tiger at the animal park in SC

VIDEO UPDATE
I recently posted this fascinating story about water-loving baby tigers. Here is a video I just discovered showing them in action.

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I had no idea baby tigers were water-lovers. And, to be able to work with human trainers is just amazing.

‘Tigers have a natural desire and ability to swim,’ said Dr Bhagavan Antle, who set up the tiger pool at his animal park in South Carolina. ‘It is rarely seen and we wanted to be able to present it to people so they could really get the feel of that incredible beauty and grace that a tiger has in the water.

‘Tigers have modified webbing between their toes that makes their feet like flippers and they are superior swimmers. ‘Because of those attributes we thought it was something people would love so we built this custom-made pool to allow people to experience this unique behaviour.’

The pool, which is filled with 100,000 gallons of water, has one side made of glass, allowing visitors a close-up view. Each tiger is introduced to the water a few months after they are born. But with the potential to grow to over 500lb and 8ft long, their time swimming with humans is limited.

The tigers are drawn to the water & have naturally webbed paws which help them swim.

By the time they are a year old, their handlers prefer to sit it out on the sidelines.

Together with their handlers, Moksha Bybee and Ragani Ferrante, tigers Balavan, Bali, and Oden display unusually close interaction between man and beast at the park which is called The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species, or TIGERS.

‘There are other pictures out there of tigers underwater but people have never been able to get this close to a tiger because it is so dangerous,’ said Dr Antle. ‘These are the only shots I have ever seen where people are swimming with tigers like this.’

Dr Antle has a 25-year career caring for threatened species and has about 200 animals in large enclosures at the TIGERS park. He said: ‘I started swimming with tigers about 25 years ago.

Animal trainers Ashley, Moksha, Julia, China & Rajini with 3 baby tigers in the pool

Read more about these fascinating tigers and trainers here.

Baby Cheetahs Make Debut in Ohio

Head nursery keeper Dawn Strasser plays with one of the cheetah cubs. The cubs will remain in the nursery at the Cincinnati Zoo, where visitors to the Festival of Lights exhibit can view them through the holidays. Associated Press / Al Behrman

Head nursery keeper Dawn Strasser plays with one of the cheetah cubs. The cubs will remain in the nursery at the Cincinnati Zoo, where visitors to the Festival of Lights exhibit can view them through the holidays. Associated Press / Al Behrman

These babies are too cute. Click here for some more great photos of these new kids on the block.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Golden Retriever Paws for Purple Hearts – Video Update

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We originally brought you this story in October 2007. Pictured above is Golden Gabe with his latest idea of how to help our veterans. Here at age 12, he was still making such an incredible contribution. Learn more about Paws for Purple Hearts by checking out the wonderful Fall 2007 newsletter from Dr. Bonnie Bergin’s esteemed Assistance Dog Institute.

under.jpgBergin University’s Paws for Purple Hearts (PPH) program is the only one of it kind in the world. Building on the time-honored tradition of veterans helping veterans, Paws for Purple Hearts engages servicemen diagnosed with PTSD in a mission to train service dogs as part of their rehabilitative therapy. Training service dogs provides a way for veterans with PTSD to practice emotional regulation and give their days focus and purpose. The dogs help to facilitate social relationships with members of the community since a critical element of training is properly socializing the puppies and practicing their training skills in public.

Paws for Purple Hearts replaces the brotherhood of the military unit in the field with the brotherhood of shared purpose and caring for their fellow injured soldiers.

The service dogs are trained to assist in activities of daily living by opening doors, retrieving dropped items and pulling wheelchairs. These are just a few of the many benefits that a service dog provides. Plus the dog also offers unconditional love and acceptance. The service dog accompanies their partner everywhere – home, work, anywhere their lives take them. In many cases, service dogs perform tasks that were previously performed by an attendant or family member; thus reducing the veteran’s dependence on other people.

Dr. Bonita Bergin invented the concept of the Service Dog to assist people with mobility impairments in 1975. At that time she founded Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), the first nonprofit to train and place Service Dogs. After leaving CCI In 1991, Dr. Bergin founded the Assistance Dog Institute.

Under Dr. Bergin’s leadership, ADI continues to break new ground in “Helping Dogs Help People” – founding the only college offering Master of Science and Associate of Science degrees in dog studies, creating the High School Assistance Dog program for at-risk teens, and researching how to teach dogs to read and how to train pups as young as three weeks.

The Assistance Dog Institute is doing such pivotal research work in the training of assistance dogs. I believe the future of this critical field lies in the new information that is being gleaned through the Institute.

Tonight Brian Williams did a MSNBC TV report on Paws for Purple Hearts.  Just click on the image below to see this wonderful program in action.

Meet Helping Paws of Minnesota

Helping Paws Of Minnesota, one of the many groups referenced at our foundation website, is a non-profit agency that breeds, trains and donates service dogs to people living with disabilities. This wonderful video describes their work and how important it is to those who volunteer, donate and receive these amazingly talented companion animals.

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Sunbear Squad Watch Tip of the Week: November 16th

The Sunbear Squad has resolved to make a difference for neglected and abused companion animals. They are transforming animal lovers into animal welfare defenders — with knowledge, tools, and inspiration.

Watch Tip: Watch for dogs and cats that are near or on railroad tracks. They may not hear or pay attention to oncoming trains and may be killed. Be a Good Samaritan for animals.


Be Sunbear Squad Informed
5 Simple Things
Bill of Rights for Pets
Risk Factor List
Learn about Abuse
Action Guidelines

Be Sunbear Squad Active
Neighborhood Watch
YouNet FAQ
Start a Squad
Free Materials

Be Sunbear Squad Prepared
Wallet Card
Roadside Rescue Kit
Disaster Plans
Reciprocal Fostering
SCRAPS Breathing
Be Sunbear Squad Inspired
Roadkilled Blessings
Be a Good Samaritan
Inspirational Sayings
Avoid Dog Slang
Humane Awards

Baby tigers monkey around

Two-year-old Chimpanzee Anjana cradling a white tiger cub, acting as surrogate mother.

Anjana has been looking after 23-day-old cubs Mitra and Shiva at TIGERS (The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species) in South Carolina, US. This surrogate role became necessary after the cubs’ mom had become aggressive, due to being spooked when Hurricane Hannah hit the Institute.

The two-year-old chimp has been helping keeper China York care for the 21-day-old cubs at The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (TIGERS) in South Carolina.

‘Mitra and Shiva, were born during Hurricane Hannah,’ said Dr Bhagavan, founder of TIGERS.   “During that time everything flooded in the sanctuary and they had to be moved into the house as their mother became stressed.

‘It was important for their safety that they were separated.’ Placed into the care of infant animal care giver China and her chimpanzee companion, Anjana, the cubs have become almost inseparable from their new motherly figures.

Feeding time: Anjana helps keeper China York care for the cubs.

Dr Bhagavan added: ‘China’s role means that she is care giver to hundreds of animals when they are born. ‘Anjana has been with China, side by side, ever since she was born and has joined her in caring and raising baby animals.

‘So she helped her and acted as a surrogate mother to these animals and she has done these same with these baby white tigers.

‘She gives them a bottle, lies with them and acts as a surrogate mother. She has a close contact and bond and gives them a nurturing.’

China has looked after Anjana the female chimpanzee since she was born, and they have been inseparable ever since.

Surrogate: Anjana helps care for the cubs

Learn more about Anjana, a wonderful chimp who has also raised leopards & lions.

Also, click here to see a beautiful slide show of Anjana with her cubs.

Seizure-Alert Dogs – Super Sniffers or not?

Colise Johnson, 42, spent two weeks in September at a canine training camp getting acquainted with Ben. Photo/CNN

We have a great new video on Seizure Alert Dogs, featuring a wonderful Golden Retriever named Ben.

Learn more about this unique application from our super Assistance Dogs with respect to the controversy about their use.

Preying on the most vulnerable

One-Time Westporter to Enter Prison in 9/11 Fraud Case

A one-time Westporter who claimed he and his dog helped recover bodies at the World Trade Center after 9/11 will enter prison Wednesday to begin serving an eight-month sentence after pleading guilty to fraudulently obtaining thousands of dollars in government relief funds. Scott Shields, shown in a 2005 photo addressing a Westport Historical Society children’s event with his dog Theodore, also addressed the Westport Representative Town Meeting in 2004. He said that his previous dog Bear was a regular dog who became a hero because of his upbringing in Westport where he could run on the beach and in Winslow Park off leash. More on Shields can be found here.

I only wish that Golden Retriever Theo had a better home. And, I wonder if New Jersey based Gold-Rush breeder Ann Johnson, knows where the pup she sold this impostor wound up.

I hope that Obama can fix the FDA.

The FDA has really suffered during the last 8 years given our non-regulatory loving administration. I do not trust much of what is out there, food-wise, and only do an organic home-cooked diet for Golden Alfie. I also try to keep him from being exposed to chemicals and to provide materials that are safe. For that reason, I only let him chew on organic toys and do not allow him to have any interaction with plastics (such as in toys, food dishes, etc .).

Look at the latest from the FDA on chemicals in plastics and you can understand why this is so important.

A scientific panel has issued a blistering report against the Food and Drug Administration, saying it ignored important evidence in reassuring consumers about the safety of the controversial chemical bisphenol-A.

The panel, in a report issued this week, did not draw any conclusions about the safety of the chemical, known as BPA. But it criticized the drug agency as ignoring crucial studies and using what it said were flawed methods in reaching its conclusions.

The agency’s evaluation of BPA “creates a false sense of security” and “overlooks a wide range of potentially serious findings,” the report said.

In a statement, the agency said that the report “raised important questions” and that more study was needed, but it did not back away from its claim that the chemical was safe. It will review the report on Friday.

BPA is widely used to make hard, clear plastic water bottles and baby bottles, and it is found in the lining of nearly every soft drink and canned food product. The chemical appears to have estrogen-like effects, and in animal studies it appears to accelerate puberty and pose a cancer risk.

While most worries about BPA focus on children, some reports suggest BPA may interfere with chemotherapy, and in adults the chemical has been tied to higher risk for heart disease and diabetes. The drug agency has said the levels of BPA to which children and adults are exposed do not pose a meaningful risk.