Philly Dawg buzz 9/25

A round up of animal news that has streamed into my email box...

We hear that Manor Care HealthServices in Yardley is forbidding its staff from feeding several stray cats who live on its property. We find this ironic, considering nursing homes and assisted living facilities exist to provide compassionate care to those who need it, not to mention many  have opened their doors to homeless cats and dogs - and residents have welcomed their addition. Sunrise on Connecticut Ave. in Washington D.C., where my mother lived during the last two years of her life, had a house cat and a dog - both rescues. My mother was able to keep her cat, Libby, in her room as other residents were too, providing them with a sense of home and a comforting presence. Libby was with mom until her death in 2006 and was adopted by a loving couple in the building. Later we found a home at another Sunrise facility for a stray cat found in my rural Pennsylvania community. We understand the national feral cat advocacy group, Alley Cat Allies is looking into the situation at Manor Care and we look forward to hearing how this situation is resolved.

A shoutout to fellow pet blogger George Carter whose Puppy Steps blog recently featured a visit to my alma mater, Oberlin College. George and his daughter Betsy, along with service-dog-in-training Sparkle, were touring the campus as Betsy scouts for colleges to attend. We take this opportunity to plug Oberlin, a college known for its legacy of academic strength, passion, creativity and commitment to being on the forefront of civil rights movements, be it the admission of women and African Americans to college in antebellum America or ending South Africa's apartheid regime. We wish them luck in their travels and best wishes in making the big college decision.

We offered nine questions for animal lovers and those charged with protecting them last week. A friend suggested I round out the number with this question: What happened to the $500,000 Treating Animals with Kindness (TAWK) program launched by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009 following the team's controversial signing of Michael Vick? We have an answer. The TAWK program is alive and well, reports Eagles spokesman Rob Zeiger. So far, $300,000 - in the form of 27 grants - has been dispersed to 21 organizations. The money has been used to help the Humane Society of the United States' End Dogfighting program, which has a chapter in Philadelphia, for medical treatment and rehabilitation facilities (we know the Berks County Humane's new mobile vet clinic to serve elderly and poor populations is in this category), spay/neuter efforts and training animals for protection services.

"We think it's an effective process with a steady stream of applicants," said Zeiger. "We are hearing back that it is helping make a difference." The team also has made players available to participate in animal events and held humane education programs in schools. Zeigler said for now the team will continue to review grants until the remaining money is depleted. He did not say what would happen after that. For more information on grants visit the TAWK website.

The animal rights watchdog group Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) held a press conference today outside the University of Pennsylvania to protest treatment of animals in its research labs. The group Physicians Committe for Responsible Medicine released a report last week detailing violations to the federal Animal Welfare Act at Ivy League institutions, which receive billions in federal research funds. Penn ranked number one for the number of violations, the severeity of violations and the number of repeated violations. "The criminal deaths at the University of Pennsylvania are part of a national pattern of negligence which has killed hundreds of animals and wastes millions in federal tax dollars every year,” said SAEN executive director Michael A. Budkie in a press release.

And then there was one - shelter outside of Philadelphia operated by the Pennsylvania SPCA. The PSPCA announced it was ending its management of its shelter in Centre Hall (that's near State College), the latest in a series of closures. The shelter will be run by a local nonprofit group that says it will be a "no kill" facility. The PSPCA once operated six satellite shelters statewide. Spokeswoman Wendy Marano said the PSPCA will continue to operate its shelter in Danville, which has space for horses and other livestock and will continue to provide humane law enforcement services to the areas where it once had shelters. The PSPCA is getting out of animal control in Philadelphia at the end of the year too with no firm word on what entity will take its place.  

Stunning news out of PennNational racetrack near Harrisburg where an injured horse lay suffering for more than an hour before veterinarian arrived to euthanize her. The Paulick Report, a horse racing blog, reports that last Sunday a filly named Langfurs Answer suffered a severe fracture in her lower leg as she was pulling up from a routine gallop. She lay their "whimpering and crying," her trainer said, until a vet got to the track to humanely destroy her. PennNational officials say they are only under obligation to have a vet at the track on race days. The PA Department of Agriculture - under which the Horse Racing Commission operates - begs to differ. A spokeswoman told The Paulick Report that racetracks have a responsibility to provide emergency veterinary care during racing and training time and it will be investigating the matter.

Canine star of big and little screen, Rin Tin Tin, is back in the news thanks to best-selling author Susan Orleans', new book, Rin Tin Tin, the Life and the Legend.  Rin Tin Tin was a real dog, found by American troops in the midst of a battle in France during World War 1 and was the name given to several extraordinary dogs who played him on film and later TV. NPR featured a look at the Rin Tin Tin tale yesterday and today CBS Sunday Morning devoted a feature segment to Orlean and the ten-year research project that resulted in the book.

Little known military fact: did you know the U.S. military recruited pet dogs during WW I and II?