Saturday wag, oldest dog, dog-fighting, Ag Dept. news










(Ex fighter Yukon Cornelius, HSUS's Wayne Pacelle, PSPCA's Sue Cosby/Inquirer Charles Fox photo)

The Humane Society of the United States launches its End Dogfighting campaign in Philly. The program, already underway in Atlanta and Chicago,  is aimed at giving at-risk young people positive alternatives to dog fighting and teaching them how to humanely treat animals. The program was made possible through a grant from the Philadelphia Eagles, which took on animal welfare as a cause after the team's controversial signing of Michael Vick in 2009. More from my colleague Kia Gregory here.

New evidence unearthed recently shows that dogs were domesticated nearly 10,000 years ago. The Associated Press reports that researchers from Maine found a sliver of dog bone in human waste dating to 9,400 years ago in Texas. The researchers say the find proves that dogs were part of humans' lives as companions ,protectors and as a food source.

Can sleeping with your dog or cat kill you - or at least make you sick? New research suggest in some cases - infreqent thought they may be - it can.  In a study to be published next month in the Centers for Disease Control publication, Emerging Infectious Disease, the authors report that the risk of transmission of zoonotic (animal-to-human) agents by close contact with pets such as bed sharing or kissing is real and potentially life threatening. The main source of illness is parasites and fleas. Problem is more than half of us sleep with our pets. Now, how many are going to kick our companions out of bed? More from AOL news here.

Turnover at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Russell Redding has stepped down as secretary of agriculture and is being replaced - at least temporarily, by Michael Pechart, a deputy in the agency. The agriculture secretary post is one of five cabinet positions yet to be filled by newly-sworn in Gov. Tom Corbett. In other recent changes in the agency, Carly Wismer has taken over as the department's attorney handling dog law cases. She replaces David McKenzie, who left after two years to start his own law firm. I was told Wismer's title is "assistant counsel in the office of chief counsel "- not special prosecutor for dog law. A Google search shows she is also handling legal issues involving horse racing. What we don't know is at what point the special prosecutor for dog law - as designated by Gov. Rendell who created the position in 2006, morphed into a general attorney for the Department of Agriculture or what that means for future prosecutions of dog law cases.

Lancaster County attorney Leonard Brown - whose firm, Clymer, Musser Brown, has fought vigorously to try to overturn the state dog law and defended many individuals charged with animal abuse -  is running for county judge. Brown is one of two candidates seeking the Republican Party endorsement for the opening on the county Court of Common Pleas at its meeting next month. More from the Lancaster Intelligencer here.