What are you waiting for?

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For the past several months I have had a raffle fundraiser, the grand prize of a brand new top-of-the-line DC25 Animal Ball Vacuum, Dyson’s newest model for 2009. It retails for $549, comes with Dyson’s 5 year warranty, and will be shipped for free (U.S. only) to the winner’s door! We have had a Dyson Animal Vacuum for years and cannot live without it.

(You can learn more about this fabulous vacuum here.)

Please support our foundation’s work in providing cancer treatment grants for working dogs as well as funding research in comparative oncology. Ticket purchases are not considered to be tax-deductible donations due to merchandise being attached to the purchase.

Our drawing will to be held once we reach our 200 Ticket Goal. And, right now we have less than 50 tickets left to sell.

Want to support a favorite nonprofit? Just indicate the name in the order comments area. That way, folks can better the chances that a fellow group can win this incredible and truly helpful prize.

Buy your Tickets Today to Enter our Fundraising Raffle!

JUST CLICK HERE.

Why am I not surprised?

Pet food settlement stalled by appeals
By Edie Lau, for the VIN News Service, May 26, 2009

Payments in a $24-million settlement of claims spurred by the largest pet food recall in U.S. history remain hung up in court.Although the settlement was approved last November by U.S. District Court Judge Noel Hillman in New Jersey, two separate parties have appealed the settlement, effectively blocking payments indefinitely.

“This is holding it up for everybody,” said Lisa Rodriguez, a lawyer serving as liaison counsel for the 100-plus class action suits covered by the settlement.

Rodriguez said the appeals have barely advanced. “We’re just in a holding pattern right now. I don’t think there’s been a briefing scheduled yet. We’re still some time away from having the Third Circuit (Court of Appeals) even address it unless they try to deal with it summarily,” she said, referring to a quick dismissal.

A total 24,950 pet owners in the United States and Canada have applied for compensation under the settlement, according to Russell Paul, co-lead counsel for the class. Those claims are being evaluated by the accounting and consulting firm Heffler, Radetich & Saitta LLP in Philadelphia.

The claims arose from the widespread contamination of pet food by melamine and cyanuric acid, which was discovered in 2007. Investigators traced the problem to wheat gluten and rice protein made in China. Unscrupulous suppliers spiked their products with nitrogen-rich melamine, an industrial chemical not approved for consumption, in an attempt to boost apparent protein levels.

The tainted product was imported by the U.S. companies ChemNutra Inc. and Wilbur Ellis and supplied to numerous pet food makers.

The melamine, along with the chemical byproduct cyanuric acid, together formed crystals in the kidneys of dogs and cats that ate the tainted food, leading in some cases to renal failure and death.

The contamination forced the recall of more than 180 brands of pet foods and treats involving 12 different manufacturers and dozens of retailers. In all, more than 60-million containers of pet food products were recalled.

Pet owners whose claims are judged eligible may be reimbursed for expenses such as the cost of veterinary treatment, the cost of carpeting ruined by a sick animal, the cost of a dead pet or its fair market value and the cost of a new pet.

The plaintiffs who are appealing the settlement are Margaret Picus and Daniel Kaffer in one case and Jim W. Johnson and Dustin Turner in the second case.

Picus and Kaffer’s objection stems from separate legal suits involving the use of the phrase “Made in the USA” by pet food manufacturers who obtain ingredients from China.

According to court documents, Picus and Kaffer are concerned that the pet food settlement will release the manufacturers from the mislabeling claims.

Their lawyer, Kyle Nordrehaug of La Jolla, Calif., said he would not comment on pending litigation.

In the second case, the lawyer for Johnson and Turner, Jeffrey Weinstein of Tyler, Tex., reportedly contends that the settlement is not fair, reasonable or adequate.

Weinstein did not respond to telephone and e-mail messages requesting comment. However, he told the Malakoff News, a weekly newspaper in Texas, that the situation should not be handled in a one-size-fits-all manner. “Tainted pet food cannot be settled as a nationwide class because every state has different laws,” he was quoted as saying.

Because of variations in state law, he argued, plaintiffs should receive settlements based on their states’ laws. “It wouldn’t be everybody just gets the same thing,” he said.

Weinstein also said $24 million may not be enough to adequately compensate all individuals with valid claims.

Details of the settlement are posted at http://www.petfoodsettlement.com

Sadly Oiled, but now Rescued penguins are returned to ocean

Four weeks ago SANCCOB in Cape Town rescued 129 oiled African penguins from the Namibian coastline. These cuties made news when they successfully survived a 19-hour road trip from Luderitz in Southern Namibia. They had been ‘oiled’ in the waters around the islands off the Luderitz coast. A rescue team led by Jessica Kemper saved them from a certain death by rounding them up in boats, then getting them to the mainland where they were stabilized and washed. But, the hard part loomed ahead as the penguins then had to make the journey to Cape Town for extensive rehabilitation. Listen and watch below to learn more.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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With help from project staff and AVIVA volunteers, 84 of the birds are already healthy enough to be released. Watch as they began their long journey home on May 21st.

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Learn more about this special tale here.

Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals

Marc Bekoff, one of our favorite authors, is coming out with a new book on May 30th, Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals.

Scientists have long counseled against interpreting animal behavior in terms of human emotions, warning that such anthropomorphizing limits our ability to understand animals as they really are. Yet what are we to make of a female gorilla in a German zoo who spent days mourning the death of her baby? Or a wild female elephant who cared for a younger one after she was injured by a rambunctious teenage male? Or a rat who refused to push a lever for food when he saw that doing so caused another rat to be shocked? Aren’t these clear signs that animals have recognizable emotions and moral intelligence? With Wild Justice Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce unequivocally answer yes.

Marrying years of behavioral and cognitive research with compelling and moving anecdotes, Bekoff and Pierce reveal that animals exhibit a broad repertoire of moral behaviors, including fairness, empathy, trust, and reciprocity. Underlying these behaviors is a complex and nuanced range of emotions, backed by a high degree of intelligence and surprising behavioral flexibility. Animals, in short, are incredibly adept social beings, relying on rules of conduct to navigate intricate social networks that are essential to their survival. Ultimately, Bekoff and Pierce draw the astonishing conclusion that there is no moral gap between humans and other species: morality is an evolved trait that we unquestionably share with other social mammals.

Sure to be controversial, Wild Justice offers not just cutting-edge science, but a provocative call to rethink our relationship with—and our responsibilities toward—our fellow animals.

Read more commentary here, in the article, Animals can tell right from wrong.

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We have long touted Bekoff’s book, The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy — and Why They Matter.

Based on award-winning scientist Marc Bekoff’s years of experience studying patterns of social communication in a wide range of species, this important 2007 publication shows that numerous animals have rich emotional lives. Animal emotions not only teach us about love, empathy, and compassion, argues Bekoff, but they require us to radically rethink our current relationship of domination and abuse of animals.

Bekoff skillfully blends extraordinary stories of animal joy, empathy, grief, embarrassment, anger, and love with the latest scientific research confirming the existence of emotions that common sense and experience with animals have long implied. Bekoff also explores the evolution of emotions and points to new scientific discoveries of brain structures shared by humans and animals that are important in processing emotions. He goes on to emphasize their role in establishing evolutionary continuity among diverse species and presents new findings of non-invasive neurological research and detailed behavioral studies. Filled with Bekoff’s light humor and touching stories, The Emotional Lives of Animals is a clarion call for reassessing both how we view animals and how we treat them.

Any dog owner knows that her own pet has feelings, but what evidence exists beyond the anecdotal, and what does this evidence teach us? Bekoff, professor emeritus of biology at the University of Colorado, pores through decades of animal research—behavioral, neurochemical, psychological and environmental—to answer that question, compelling readers to accept both the existence and significance of animal emotions.

Seated in the most primitive structures of the brain (pleasure receptors, for example, are biologically correlative in all mammals), emotions have a long evolutionary history. Indeed, as vertebrates became more complex, they developed ever more complex emotional and social lives, “setting rules” that permit group living-a far better survival strategy than going solo.

Along the way, Bekoff forces the reader to re-examine the nature of human beings; our species could not have persevered through the past 100,000 years without the evolution of strong and cohesive social relationships cemented with emotions, a conclusion contrary to contemporary pop sociology notions that prioritize individualism and competition. He also explores, painfully but honestly, the abuse animals regularly withstand in factory farms, research centers and elsewhere, and calls on fellow scientists to practice their discipline with “heart.” Demonstrating the far-reaching implications for readers’ relationships with any number of living beings, Bekoff’s book is profound, thought-provoking and even touching.

For several years ethologist and author Bekoff (Minding Animals 2002; Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, 2005) studied communication in wild and domestic animals and gradually became convinced that humans are not the only animals that experience emotions. Here, Bekoff examines the concept of emotion in the lives of non-humans, the evolutionary advantages of emotions, and the neurological basis for emotions. The final sections focus on how to conduct scientifically rigorous research while addressing scientific rigidity on the subject of animal emotions, and the ethics of how we live our lives with animals. A readable book equally charming and challenging.

Courage Campaign – Being fearless in fight for equality

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Proposition 8 is unconscionable. In response, the Courage Campaign will hit the CA airwaves with a 60-second TV ad version of “Fidelity” — the above heartbreaking online video viewed by more than 1.2 million people (most-watched video ever in history of California politics).

The group is launching this TV ad in the spirit of Harvey Milk’s call to “come out, come out wherever you are” and proudly tell the stories of the people most affected by the passage of Prop 8 — in moving images set to the beat of Regina Spektor’s beautiful song.

If you want to help this ad air in Bakersfield, Fresno, LA, San Diego, Sacramento & San Francisco, click here.

Help save dogs from dying in hot cars this summer

MyDogIsCool.com, a site that heps folks save dogs from dying in hot cars, has some great tips and materials to help spread the word about how to be responsible pet parents during the hot summer months.

The “dog days” of summer can be dangerous for dogs — especially those dogs left inside hot cars. Every year, countless dogs die after being locked in cars while their owners work, visit, shop, or run other errands. These tragic deaths are entirely preventable.

Because many states allow only assistance dogs to be brought into stores or malls, some people take their dogs along on errands but leave them in the car. This can be deadly.

A little heat outside a car can quickly make it very hot inside. On a summer’s day of only 85 degrees Fahrenheit, for example, even keeping the windows slightly open won’t stop the inside temperature from climbing to 102 degrees in 10 minutes, and to 120 degrees in 20 minutes. A dog whose body temperature rises to 107-108 degrees will within a very short time suffer irreparable brain damage — or even death.

UAN’s “Don’t Leave Me in Here — It’s Hot!” flier has saved countless animals’ lives over the years. With its tips on prevention and treatment, the flier has proven to be a painless reminder that alerts someone of the dangers of leaving animals in the car while he or she is shopping. Whenever you see a parked car with animals inside, place the “Don’t Leave Me in Here — It’s Hot!” flier under the windshield wiper. (If you see an animal in imminent danger or a child left unattended inside a car, see the store manager or contact the police.)

Go print out your own flyers to distribute or buy some here.