With the Thursday update you learn about genetics, amazing women, and who you want in your corner when a cougar attacks
By David S. Greene
January 7, 2010
Brava Betsy Saul! I always love it when worthy people are not only recognized for their great work, but get wealthy in the process. Â Woman’s Day magazine released their list of 50 Women who are changing the world.Â The names include Oprah, Angelina Jolie and Billie Jean King.Â Best of all, Betsy Saul!Â Betsy’s the founder of petfinder.com, and of course, their work has been an unparalleled success over the years. Â The wealthy part?Â When Petfinder was bought by Animal Planet three years ago for $35 million. Â Further proof that you can do well by doing good! (thanks to Gina for the heads up on this)
Pets helping people: the genetics edition. The Boston Globe tipped me off to work underway to use the genomes of dogs to find cures for human conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder.Â The groundbreaking study, which is a partnership between the Broad Institute, the Cummings Veterinary School at Tufts University, and UMass Medical School, is analyzing dobermans with OCD issues, then looking for analogous “hotspots” in human and canine genetic maps.
â€œThis is exactly where we were hoping to get to,â€™â€™ said Elinor Karlsson, a postdoctoral fellow at the Broad Institute, a genetics research center in Cambridge, and coauthor of a paper on the subject. â€œThis is taking a disease that people have had a lot of trouble working with in humans, that seems to be a multigenic and complex psychiatric disease, and using a dog breed to look at something completely new about that disease – something we wouldnâ€™t be able to find in any other species.â€™â€™
This is a powerhouse alliance.Â When and if results are announced, I’ll report them here.
Fee waivers boost cat adoptions: Makes sense, right?Â If you make it more economically attractive to adopt a pet, more pets should get adopted.Â Guess what?Â It works.Â Â USA Today spotlights the trend, with examples from Maine to Walnut Creek, and Charleston to Salt Lake.Â Always reassuring to see common sense approaches triumphant.
Melamine in Chinese milk – again! I know, right?Â Just when you thought you’d read the last of melamine showing up in a food-related story out of China, Christie tipped me to a post from Dr. Marion Nestle, which includes a link to the New York Times story.Â Melamine was found in pet food out of China in 2007, artificially boosting protein levels.Â Â The next year, it showed up in infant formula in China. Now, a Chinese dairy which was previously implicated in 2008 has been shut down because of contaminated milk powder, found to have high traces of — yes, melamine. Â Optimism for long-term improvement may not be warranted yet, as Dr. Nestle points out.
Why?Â Maybe Chinese adulterators are getting a double message.Â Here are a couple of items I picked up off Chinese news sources on the Internet (Google the names to find the sites):
- Li Changjiang, the director of the inspection agency that failed to deal with the melamine problem, was forced to resign from the agency. He has overcome his disgrace, more or less.Â He was just appointed deputy head of a major anti-pornography group.
- Zhao Lianhai organized the parents of victims of the infant formula adulteration to try to get compensation.Â He was put under house arrest in November and formally arrested in December.
Sorry, but I’m afraid this problem isn’t going away quickly, and neither are controversies over a lack of government control related to it.Â Â Expect this to reappear in the future, somewhere.
A boy’s best friend, especially against cougars: In British Columbia, a cougar (the big cat, not um, you know) attacked an 11 year old boy.Â Â The family’s golden retriever Angel stepped in, distracted the cougar, and in fact took the brunt of the assault.Â And lived!Â Loyal reader (and my lead volunteer researcher) Snoopy’s Friend sent me a great link to a heart rending, but ultimately positive story.
The officer fired two rounds into the cougar’s rear end, but the cougar continued its attack.
The officer closed in to within five feet and shot the cougar again, killing it.
Even after it was killed, the cougar’s jaws were clenched on Angel’s face, Forman said.
Angel was silent for a few moments but then took in a big gasp of air and got up.
Best Friends weighs in on TNR for homeless cats:Â Â TNR (trap/neuter/release) might be one of the two or three most contentious pet-related public policy issuesÂ today.Â Â Â On the heels of a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge’s ruling that bars the city from nominally supporting a TNR policy (and therefore encourages more cats to be killed), Best Friends Animal Society weighed in with a press release, saying TNR helps bird as well as cat populations.Â Interim CEO Mike Castle slammed the judge’s decision, saying
â€œBest Friends believes that the needs of free-roaming community cats and the requirement that municipalities help care for them are best encapsulated in the term â€˜community cats,â€™â€ asserts Castle.
â€œThe effort to eradicate homeless cats is not only an inhumane, costly approach, it also is futile,â€ Castle continues. â€œIf killing community cats were the solution, free-roaming cats would be eliminated by now. In fact, catching and killing one group of community cats simply opens that niche for another group of cats.â€
Personally, I’m all in favor of an adult discussion on the issue. That’s not to say I’m optimistic it will happen, but it would be nice to give it a shot, right?
Have something to share? Drop it in the comments, or send me an e-mail.
Photo credits: Betsy Saul – Women’s Day.