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News and research

Dogs: General Articles


We've given you two headlines, the first (in blue) being the original, and the second (in red) aims to be a more informative headline, so you can gain an idea of what the article is about more quickly. The source is also given in case you want to track down the original article.

watercolour by David Simon, click for larger image

Bobbie, taking her human for a walk. Watercolour, painted by David Simon
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See also:
Dogs: Effect on human mental and physical health
Dogs: Health, disease and physiology
Dogs: Behaviour and training
Reviews of Dog books, including books on health and behaviour
Pet friendly holidays
Dogs: Evolution, links with wolves and breed characteristics

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One dog town

Shangai limits dog ownership to one per household

source: New Scientist vol 210 no 2813, May 21 2011 p5

Shanghai, China, has introduced a limit of one dog per household, in order to control rabies and the increase in pets in the city.

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Hundreds protest over alleged dog cull

Protest over alleged cull of stray dogs in Greece

Source: Independent January 13 2003 p8 There have been protests in Greece over claims that several dozen stray dogs were poisoned before an important European Union meeting in Zappelon Hall, Athens. The dogs lived in the gardens of the hall, where the European Commission president and EU officials met on the 11th and 12th of January 2003.

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Dogs 'traded in' for Christmas, says pound

Battersea concerned that owners may be dumping older dogs in order to replace them with pups

Source: Independent December 27 2002 p4

Battersea Dogs Home is concerned that people may be dumping older dogs in order to replace them with pups. The numbers of dogs being taken into Battersea rose to as many as 30 a day before Christmas 2002. People taking in older dogs may not tell the truth about why the dog is being given up.

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Golfer sues for one million pounds sterling over bite from dog

Professional golfer claims damages after dog bite

Source: Steven Morris
Guardian December 3 2002 p7

Andrew Raitt, a professional golfer, is suing the owner of a German Shepherd, called Zomba, which bit his little finger. Raitt claims that the bite has affected his grip, and so his chances of being a top golfer. The bite happened in 1995 when Raitt was with his dog at a golf club. Raitt's dog was attacked by Zomba, and Raitt was bitten when he intervened, with the injury leaving his little finger half a centimetre shorter. Raitt argues that his earning power has been affected, while the defence argues that the bite has not affected Raitt's grip.

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Quarantine rules that have dogged US pets are lifted

Cats and dogs can be brought to the UK from Canada and US with no quarantine

source: Michael McCarthy
Independent November 21 2002 p12

The UK government has decided to extend the Pet Travel Scheme to allow cats and dogs from North America to visit the UK, with no need for quarantine. This will allow diplomats and other people from Canada and the US to take their pets to the UK. The US embassy has been lobbying for this move for some time. The risk of rabies transmission from the US or Canada is judged to be low, according to UK Animal Health minister, Elliot Morley. The Pet Travel Scheme was first set up for Western Europe, and was then extended to Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Requirements for pets in the scheme include microchipping, rabies vaccinations, and anti-tick and tapeworm treatments prior to travel. DO,LW Quarantine rules that have dogged US pets are lifted Cats and dogs can be brought to the UK from Canada and US with no quarantine source: Michael McCarthy Independent November 21 2002 p12 The UK government has decided to extend the Pet Travel Scheme to allow cats and dogs from North America to visit the UK, with no need for quarantine. This will allow diplomats and other people from Canada and the US to take their pets to the UK. The US embassy has been lobbying for this move for some time. The risk of rabies transmission from the US or Canada is judged to be low, according to UK Animal Health minister, Elliot Morley. The Pet Travel Scheme was first set up for Western Europe, and was then extended to Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Requirements for pets in the scheme include microchipping, rabies vaccinations, and anti-tick and tapeworm treatments prior to travel.

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Attempt to change status gives LA dogs their day

Pet owners likely to be called 'guardians' in Los Angeles

source: Duncan Campbell
Guardian July 15 2002 p14

Pet owners are likely to be called 'guardians' in Los Angeles as part of a campaign to encourage people to be responsible owners, rather than seeing pets as disposable items of property. The campaign has been led by a group called In Defence of Animals, from northern California. The Animal Services Commission in Los Angeles has decided to use 'guardian' rather than 'owner' in its documents, and is considering whether to campaign for 'guardian' to be used in LA as a whole. Some dog breeders oppose the change, according to a campaigner, who explains this in terms of their seeing dogs as property. Some LA vets are also worried about pets being given new rights.

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Paris finally gets tough on dirty dogs

Tough measures introduced to tackle dog poo in Paris, France

source: Jon Henley
Guardian April 15 2002 p15

Tough measures have been introduced to tackle the problem of dog poo in Paris, France. Owners who do not clean up after their dogs may be fined the equivalent of some 300 pounds sterling. There are around 70 hygiene inspectors, who can impose on-the-spot fines. A further 1,400 city surveillance officers should soon be able to do the same thing. Booklets have been handed out to dog owners. The Paris council is also cutting down on its dog cleaning programme, which costs the equivalent of around 8 million pounds sterling annually.

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The loop

Iams staff still to be allowed to take dogs to work after office move

source: Independent on Sunday, Business section, July 7 2002 p2

Staff at Iams have been allowed to take their dogs to work. There was concern that this would change after a planned move to the Surrey offices of Procter and Gamble, which has acquired Iams. Many employees of Procter and Gamble were not keen on dogs being taken to work, partly due to fears that dogs could behave in insanitary ways. Iams employees are now to be permitted to take dogs to work, though not other pets, so long as the dogs remain on the ground floor at the Surrey offices.

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Councils 'not doing enough' over dog fouling

Keep Britain Tidy Group calls for more action over fouling by dogs

source: Independent June 17 2002 p4

The Keep Britain Tidy Group has called for stronger action by local authorities against dog fouling of footpaths, playgrounds and parks. An estimated 226,000 complaints relating to dog fouling have been made in a three year period to June 2002, and councils have prosecuted only 754 people for leaving dogs' poo, during these three years.

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More comments sought on hunting with dogs

Government seeks consultation on Hunting Bill for England and Wales

source: Veterinary Record June 15 2002 p734

The House of Lords rejected a planned Hunting Bill banning hunting in England and Wales, in March 2002, and the government has issued a consultation document, in order to draft a new Bill. The government is seeking facts on utility and cruelty, rather than opinions, according to Alun Michael, rural affairs minister. Michael also stresses that the June 2000 report of the Committee of Inquiry into Hunting with Dogs is the starting point for hunting debates. This report explains views of utility and cruelty, two key concepts for the government in formulating legislation on hunting, with cruelty seen as unnecessary suffering.

Some respondents argue that hunting should be divided into different categories, and claim that alternatives to some forms of hunting may involve more suffering. The debate on utility includes questions on how best to achieve pest control and conservation goals. Activities could be banned, regulated, or allowed with no changes made. There could also be exemptions for some activities.

Comments are invited by DFEFRA from interested parties, with a deadline of July 15 2002.

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Gone to the dogs

Concern over fate of hunting dogs if hunting is banned in UK

source: Justine Hankins
Guardian Weekend May 11 2002 p71

There is concern about the fate of hunting dogs if the government bans hunting throughout the UK., where there are some 20,000 pack hounds, bassets, beagles, harriers, and above all foxhounds. The RSPCA argues that hunts should control breeding, in case a ban comes into effect, while Vets for Hunting, a pro-hunting organization, foresees a ‘wholesale slaughter’. The RSPCA favours drag hunting, but hunts tend to oppose this.

A ban on hunting will be effective in Scotland from Aug 2002, and there are around 800 working hunting dogs in Scotland. Hunters claim that supporters of foxes will force them to kill their dogs. The SSPCA argues that hunts should take responsibility for their dogs, and it will only take on hunting dogs in an emergency.

The League Against Cruel Sports argues that dogs can suffer during hunts, for example being hurt on roads, or electrocuted when they cross railway lines. The Countryside Alliance claims that hunts aim to avoid such accidents. The Countryside Alliance’s own figures also give an estimate of some 3,000 hounds put down prematurely every year, and a spokesman states that hounds are kept while they are active and happy in a pack. Some older dogs can mentor young pups, but it is common for a dog to be put down following a six or seven year career as a hunter, according to a government inquiry.

Rehoming hounds has been debated. The National Canine Defence League is unsure whether foxhounds, used to living as packs in kennels and not housetrained, can become pets, though there have been successes with beagles. The League Against Cruel Sports does, however, see a future for foxhounds as pets, if owners can be found with enough patience and space. Even so, 20,000 hounds are a lot to rehome.

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The nutritional requirements of exercising dogs

Comparison between the nutritional needs of greyhounds and sled dogs

source: Richard C. Hill
Journal of Nutrition vol 128 no 12, December 1998
starts p2686S, 5 pages long

Most studies of dogs’ nutritional needs have tended to focus on dogs that do little exercise. There is a need for more research, both to prevent injuries (such as hyperthermia and infections from food) and to improve stamina, speed and strength.

Dogs have a unique metabolism, and dogs are better able to use fats than humans are, due to the type of muscle fibres that dogs have. Sled dogs and greyhounds have been the most common subjects of studies of exercising dogs. Results relating to greyhounds can also be useful for dogs doing other sprinting activities, like gun dogs and Frisbee chasers. Results from sled dogs can be useful for other endurance dogs, like search and rescue dogs and hunting dogs.

Greyhound trainers tend to use their own recipes, since there is not much information on their dogs’ nutritional needs. Only about 27% use proprietary dog food, and, of the remainder, all add other ingredients, like raw meat, buttermilk, vitamins and vegetables. Dogs feed too much raw meat can suffer calcium definiciency, though this can be corrected with 1 gram of bone meal per 50 grams of meat. Dogs can also suffer from infections from raw meat. ‘Alabama rot’ is a term used for poisoning by an E-coli H157:07 toxin, symptoms of which can include kidney failure. Cooking the meat destroys some nutrients, like creatine, but removes the risk of infection.

Hyperthermia can be fatal, and can affect exercising dogs when humidity levels and ambient temperature are high, and untrained greyhounds running afternoon races are especially at risk. Allowing dogs to drink water straight after races helps reduce the severity of this problem, as do cold baths. Dogs may also need intravenous fluids. Greyhounds are not usually given water prior to a race, and can become dehydrated. Sled dogs have an increase in water turnover during races.

Sled dogs that are not racing seem to need similar amounts of energy to other young dogs. Dogs need more energy input when it is cold, but this does not apply to sled dogs until the temperature is below about 0 deg C, whereas thin-coated breeds need more energy below about 20 deg C. Distances covered, rather than speed, affect energy requirements. Sled dogs run greater distances, and need almost eight times as much energy for a 490 km race lasting three days at between minus 10 deg C and minus 35 deg C, as they do when resting, whereas racing greyhounds need little more than other breeds.

Sled dogs need more fat, to boost their stamina and improve energy production, above 50% of their energy needs, and they also need high protein levels, accounting to between 30% and 40% of energy levels, to prevent anaemia. Dogs fed vegetable protein are also more likely to suffer from sports anaemia than are dogs fed animal protein. Adding beef to sled dogs’ diets can boost their fat and protein levels. The performance of greyhounds can be improved with moderately high fat levels, but an increase in protein in racing greyhounds’ diets seems to make them run more slowly, in contrast to racing sled dogs. Greyhounds may therefore be better performers with extruded food than with a meat-based recipe.

There is a risk that dogs fed vitamins supplements could receive too high levels. Exercising dogs may need less in terms of minerals and vitamins per joule, since they eat more food. Vitamins C and E may be especially important for exercising dogs, but not enough is known about the correct dosage. Sled dogs can suffer from scurvy if they eat frozen meat over a long period, and this can be prevented by giving them fresh meat.

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Gangsters, guns and unlicensed gambling: welcome to the world of hare coursing

Concern about hare coursing using lurchers in England

source: Steve Boggan
Independent January 5 2002 p3

There is concern about a growing trend of hare coursing in England, using lurchers. Hare coursing is legal, but those involved will often invade land, threatening landowners if they protest, sometimes with guns. Illegal gambling is also involved. Counties near London, such as Essex, Kent, Hertfordshire, and Thames Valley counties are especially affected. Gatherings may involve up to 50 men and their dogs, and the London underworld appears to be involved. Fines that can be imposed for trespassing if culprits are caught are too low to act as a deterrent.

Animal welfare groups have allied with rural communities to oppose illegal hare coursing. Land may be invaded despite restrictions to control foot and mouth disease. Farmers may kill hares themselves so that their land becomes less attractive to gangs. The Mammal Society is concerned about the number of brown hares in Britain, estimated at 700,000, while there are some 242,000 dogs active in hare coursing.

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Judge orders dog ‘used as weapon’ to be killed

Pit bull terrier to be destroyed after being classed as a weapon

source: Independent December 1 2001 p17

A pit bull terrier will be destroyed following a court decision classifying it as a weapon, used in a murder. The dog was owned by Spencer Sheppard, who was refused entry to a club. He returned with his dog, and friends and relatives, one of whom stabbed the doorman. The dog was called Colonel, and Sheppard owned another pit bull called Gadaffi.

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Racist gang breeds killer dogs from inside prison walls

Fighting dogs bred in California

source: James Palmer
Independent February 2 2001 p17

Investigators claim that two imprisoned members of the Aryan Brotherhood are running a breeding operation to create fighting dogs, despite being in prison. This claim follows the death of San Francisco teacher, Diane Whipple, killed by a cross-breed mastiff called Bane, which ripped out her throat.

Bane was a cross between an English mastiff and a preso canario, and belonged to the inmates’ two lawyers. Bane was raised with other dogs at a remote farm in the north of California. The lawyers have admitted that inmates are giving instructions on breeding dogs, but say nothing illegal is being done. The farm is owned by a prison visitor who says she was told to teach the dogs to be killers. She was threatened by gang members when she refused, according to a prison officer. A past lawyer of the inmates argues that the dogs were being bred to have their portraits painted, rather than as fighting dogs. Detectives are investigating a number of attacks to see if these dogs have been responsible.

Dog fighting has grown into an important business activity in California, despite being illegal. Pit bulls were initially used, but then fight promoters started to develop crosses between mastiffs and fighting dogs. These dogs are then trained to be aggressive by being isolated, praised for aggression, and having food withheld, while being taunted with prey animals they are sometimes allowed to catch and eat.

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Judge lets owner keep all nine ‘noisy’ greyhounds

Court allows dog owner to keep greyhounds despite complaints

source: Tania Branigan
Guardian May 17 2001 p9

A high court in London, England, has allowed a dog owner, Stephen Hitchman, with a smallholding to keep nine greyhounds, despite complaints from neighbours. The complaints had led planning officers to seek to impose an order for the dog owner to give up three of the dogs, or destroy them. Hitchman asked to be able to simply not replace his greyhounds after they died. The judge accepted this, and said that the order against Hitchman did not specify how many dogs he was allowed to keep. Supporters of Hitchman argued that he was an exceptional dog owner, and that racing greyhounds in the UK have few protectors after their careers are over. Most of the 10,000 racing greyhounds retired annually are destroyed.

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Postman dog-kick charge is dropped

Charge against British postman who kicked Yorkshire terrier is dropped

source: Michael Bristow
Independent Mar 22 2000 p9

A charge against a British postman who kicked a Yorkshire terrier has been dropped because of the postman's heart problems. The dog suffered a fractured skull and was put down. The postman, Billy Ace from Swansea, claims the dog had bitten him. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals decided to drop the case, despite believing that Ace was guilty of causing unnecessary suffering.

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Dog’s life is spared by order of the law lords

British court reprieves dog sentenced to die for barking

source: Michael Bristow
Independent Mar 22 2000 p9

Source: Paul Kelbie
Independent November 14 2001 p11

The High Court in Edinburgh, Scotland, has reprieved a dog which had been sentenced to death for barking. The dog, a West Highland terrier, was sentenced to death by a Scottish court in September 2001, after a neighbour had complained about his barking. A campaign to save the dog’s life was mounted, with 2,500 signatures on a petition to plead that the dog’s life be spared. The dog’s neighbour also supported the campaign. The dog has been retrained by an animal behaviourist. The High Court ruled that the dog cannot live with his owner, but has to be found somewhere to live by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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Battersea takes in dozens of abandoned pedigrees

Battersea Dogs Home, London, takes in abandoned dogs after Christmas

source: Severin Carrell
Independent January 5 2000 p 6

Battersea Dogs Home has taken in 238 dogs during the 10 days following 24 December 1999, with a high number of pedigree dogs. There was also an increase in pedigree dogs taken in during 1989, like 1999, a year of economic boom, when 23,000 dogs were dealt with. Battersea Dogs Home dealt with over 10,000 dogs in 1999, some 60% of which were rehomed, around 10% put to sleep, while 30% went back to their owners.

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Old pet, new pet

Traditional and modern dog care methods

source: Jonathon Carr-Brown
Independent on Sunday December 19 1999 p12

There are traditional and modern, fashion-conscious ways of caring for dogs. The traditional methods include feeding the dog reconstituted meat products from a chipped bowl, with supplements from the dog's raids on the dustbin. The dog sleeps outside and is hosed down when he smells too strongly. He has obedience training at classes as a church hall, and still frightens the postman and chases rats. The new methods include feeding the dog on organic food in ergonomic feeders, with herbal supplements that minimise dog breath and flatulence. A thermal mattress may be provided. The dog visits his grooming parlour several times weekly and is given bach flower remedies and other alternative remedies for his emotional and behavioural needs. He has individual training from a therapist and is encouraged to stretch himself using creative play.

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Doggy bag

Inventor designs restraining bag for dogs to travel safely in cars

source: Barry Fox
New Scientist Feburary 20 1999 p7

Geoffrey Brook from Lancashire, England, has invented a restraining device for dogs in cars. It resembles a straitjacket, with the dog zipped into a type of sack prior to travel. The sack is zipped round the dog's neck, and is fastened to a frame using buckles. The frame is in turn fastened to the car seat. The dog has freedom of movement within the sack, but cannot get out of it.

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Dog stew off the menu in Taiwan

Taiwan bans sale and consumption of dog flesh

source: Independent November 15 2000 p15

Dog stew was seen as a delicacy in Taiwan, but Taiwanese legislators have banned the sale and consumption of dog flesh. They argue that these are savage practices which should not be tolerated any more.

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Millions of cats and dogs 'killed for fur coats'

Concern that some coats sold in Britain may be made from dog or cat fur

source: Andrew Woodcock
Independent March 1 2000 p5

DNA tests are being carried out on fur coats purchased from a major UK retailer, due to fears that they contain cat or dog fur. The Humane Society of the United States has filmed dogs being killed and skinned. Over two million animals may have perished in this way. Furs may be exported from Far Eastern countries. It is not illegal to import cat and dog fur into the European Union. False labeling is used so that customers are not alerted, such as dog fur described as wolf or sobaki fur, and cat fur described as mountain cat.

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Woman's guard dog stolen

Burglars steal guard dog in England

source: Guardian March 21 2000 p6

A rottweiler dog called Satan has been stolen from the house of a woman in Middlesbrough, England. The woman had bought the dog after she had had her house broken into three times.

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Death of lapdog Leo relegates politics to the inside pages

Road rage killing of lapdog

source: Andrew Gumbel
Independent March 9 2000 p18

A pet dog has been killed by a driver who threw the dog into oncoming traffic in California. The crime has led to offers for a reward from wellwishers, and the media has given the story more coverage than political events. The dog, Leo, was travelling in a car with his owner, Sara McBurnett. A vehicle cut in ahead of her, which led her to knock the vehicle's bumper. The driver stopped and left his car to confront Leo's owner. Leo jumped into her lap, and was picked up by the driver, who threw him into traffic, before speeding away.

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