Monday wag: pet food banks, Obama signs pro-animal bills

For some, a little donated kibble can make the difference between keeping a pet and having to give him up. Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Prospect Park, Delaware County serves 15,000 people. Now the pantry - one of a growing number in the region - is opening its shelves to struggling pet owners too. My colleague Mari Schaefer reports on their good deeds here.

In Washington, President Obama has signed two pro-animal bills that were closely watched by animal welfare advocates. He signed the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, requiring that all animal fur trim be labeled by species and country of origin. The bill was prompted by a series of investigations by the Humane Society of the United States that revealed that major retailers and manufacturers were selling fur-trimmed garments that were unlabeled, incorrectly described as faux fur, or labeled as the wrong animal. It was more than a decade ago that The HSUS discovered the killing of millions of dogs and cats for their fur, which was then sent to western markets as trim.

Also this month, Obama signed the new law banning so-called "crush videos." The original  - more broadly written - animal cruelty law was overturned by the Supreme Court as an unconstitutional violation of free speech. The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act criminalizes the creation, sale, and marketing of these specific kinds of videos, which lawmakers had labeled as "obscene."

"By cracking down on the creation and distribution of crush videos, this bipartisan law effectively protects both animals and free speech," said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, one of the co-sponsors of the bill.

Time was when farmers bought Border Collies to herd their sheep. Now owners of these energetic (and highly intelligent) dogs are buying - and sometimes renting - sheep to occupy their dogs.

More from the Wall Street Journal here.

As many of us humans prepare to make our New Year's resolutions to drop a few pounds, veterinarians are cautioning that the American obesity epidemic isn't just a people problem anymore.  Obesity is one of the fastest-growing health problems seen in dogs today. In a 2008 study, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimated that 44 percent of U.S. dogs — about 33 million — were overweight or obese. Now vets are seeing related health problems that were virtually unheard of in animals 20 years ago, among them, diabetes, osteoarthritis and heart disease. (Perhaps if more dogs took up cardio-herding..). Read more from the El Paso Times here.