Saturday Wag, Vick dogs, doggie docket and more

Just 18 months after his release from prison, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is tearing up the gridiron, en route to, some say, the league's MVP honors this season. 

But Los Angeles Times writer Bill Plaschke reminds readers not to forget Vick's legacy off the football field, the dozens of survivors of his brutal dog fighting ring - particularly the severely traumatized black pit bull named Mel - who are still struggling to find their way to becoming dogs again.

From the doggie (and other animal) crime docket...the Humane Society of the United States undercover investigation reveals horrendous conditions at the nation's largest egg producer. The probe of Cal-Maine industries in Texas, which houses 1 million birds, showed most birds crammed in cages barely able to move, some of the birds laying eggs on top of the rotting corpses of dead cage-mates and others tangled in wires and left to die.

Perhaps the U.S. Department of Agriculture - and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture - should take a cue from a company that provides micro loans to impoverished women in Haiti. A New York Times report on Sunday detailed how micro loans are helping women feed their families and derive a small income from farm animals. In one case, the loan company, Fonkoze, withheld a monthly stipend from a woman who had not yet built a shed for her goat. Imagine if federal and state grant and loan programs held U.S. farmers to the same standards.  

A major victory in Congress for animal lovers yesterday. The House and Senate approved legislation (again) banning animal crush videos and the bill awaits President Obama's signature. The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 will ban the creation and distribution of obscene animal torture videos that show the intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling of puppies, kittens and other live animals for the titillation of viewers. In April, the Supreme Court overturned a l999 law on First Amendment grounds. The new bill was drafted to specifically target animal cruelty.

A Pennsylvania court has upheld nearly $168,000 in fines imposed by the state Department of Agriculture against convicted animal abuser and former kennel owner, Derbe Eckhart. Eckhart, who operated Almost Heaven Kennel in Emmaus, is serving a jail sentence on animal cruelty charges stemming from the conditions of dogs found his kennel during a 2008 raid by the Pennsylvania SPCA. Eckhart appealed the fines levied by the state for dog law violations, arguing the penalties were excessive. Commonwealth Court this week rejected that argument. The Morning Call of Allentown has more.

Another large kennel operator from northeast Pennsylvania heads back to court. A district judge in Berks County waived for trial in the Court of Common Pleas multiple counts of dog law violations against Bridget Rhoads, operator of Rhoads Kennel. Rhoads is scheduled to be arraigned on Dec. 14. Among the charges  filed under the new dog law were euthanizing (9) dogs without department approval. Until her license was revoked this year for repeated dog law violations, Rhoads operated one of the largest commercial kennels in Pennsylvania with more than 500 dogs on the property. Without a license, Rhoads had to downsize to below 26 dogs and the bureau says the kennel shipped 300 dogs to a breeder in Ohio. 

The Delaware County SPCA is open again after a ringworm outbreak. The shelter reopened last Saturday after declaring their war on ringworm won.

The hours will be the normal 12-7 pm Tuesday through Saturday and Sunday from 12-4. The animals available for adoption will be those that have cultured negative for ringworm, a fungal skin disease, and have also received preventative treatment for ringworm. The shelter has also been thoroughly sanitized and high-pressure steam cleaned.

The shelter also changed its intake procedure to include testing every animal for ringworm when they arrive at our shelter. Adoption contracts provide a 10-day veterinary treatment period should any animal show signs of any ailment post-adoptions, including ringworm.