Ivory destroyed in New York

ivoryIvory waiting to be crushed in Times Square.
US Government raise awareness of illegal ivory trade

Over one ton of illegal ivory has been destroyed by the US Government before crowds in New York, sending out a clear message that the nation will not tolerate wildlife crime.

The event, which took place in Times Square, was organised by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC). It was also supported by a host of other wildlife and conservation organisations.

John Calvelli from the Wildlife Conservation Society said: “Crushing ivory in Times Square – literally at the crossroads of the world – says in the clearest terms that the US is serious about closing its illegal ivory markets and stopping the demand.
“We applaud the Fish and Wildlife Service and DEC for their efforts to close this deadly trade that is currently decimating Africa’s elephants at the rate of 96 each day”.

Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund, added: “Today the United States sent a strong message that it will not tolerate wildlife crime.

“For Africa’s vanishing elephants, these are the most desperate of times and more needs to be done. Just last month, China – another major consumer market for wildlife products announced it would end its ivory trade. The US must do the same urgently”.

Thousands of supporters watched on as ivory tusks, statues, jewellery, trinkets and other decorative items were crushed by an industrial rock crusher.

It was the latest in a series of actions by the Obama administration designed to address both supply and demand that feeds international poaching and wildlife trafficking rings.

Much of the ivory destroyed was confiscated from an art and antiques dealer in Philadelphia, who was sentenced in 2014 to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay just under $160,000 in fines. Because the ivory was illegally traded, it could never be sold in the US market.

Client care for blind or partially sighted people

guide dogsAt the first ever congress dedicated to veterinary receptionists, delegates heard an inspirational and useful talk from guide dog owner Judy Taylor, who explained how to provide a positive customer experience for blind and partially sighted clients.

Judy has had guide dogs for nearly 60 years, having lost her sight due to measles at 13 months old. Now aged 80, she is working with her seventh dog, a golden retriever called Elsa.

Speaking at the Cx Congress in Derby  (20 June), Judy had delegates laughing one minute and crying the next with her inspiring and poignant story.

At the age of 16 she knew she wanted to become a teacher in a state school, not a special school for blind children, but at that time, no blind person had done this before. Undeterred, Judy was eventually accepted onto a teacher training course two years later, which meant moving to London and getting around by herself.

After her first year she applied for a guide dog, but due to the long waiting lists at the time, it was more than two years before she got her dog, shortly after she began teaching at a small school in Rugby, Warwickshire.

Moving most of the audience to tears, Judy described what having a guide dog has meant to her: “I think that dogs are not only the best guides that a blind person can have, but a dog – whether it’s a trained dog or not – is the very, very best friend in the whole world that a human being can have.

“I owe so very, very much for the almost 60 years that Guide Dogs has given me the wonderful gift of independence.”

In order to help understand what it’s like to be blind or partially sighted, a number of delegates volunteered to put on eye masks and be led into the conference room by Guide Dogs’ staff. All delegates were then asked to wear eye masks for as long as possible during Judy’s talk.

While she said she has had only positive experiences with veterinary practices, she gave examples of a number of small steps staff can take to make it easier for blind or partially sighted clients.

These included:

• Never leave a blind or partially sighted person standing in the middle of the surgery or consultation room, as it is easy to lose balance – ensure they are near a table top, wall or chair back, for example.

• Never assume somebody needs help – different people have different capabilities. Only 2 per cent of people registered blind in the UK have no sight at all.

• Some people will accept help graciously whether they need it or not, while others may refuse it as they are determined to be independent. Don’t let this put you off or hurt you.

• Explain what is going on in the room, for example if there is somebody else in the room so the person is not shocked when they hear a new voice. Lightly touch the person’s shoulder or arm and use their name so they know you’re speaking to them.

• Guide dogs are always on the person’s left, so when you ask if they would like to take you arm to guide them, always offer your left arm.

• When guiding someone to a chair, put their hand on the back of it to help them guide themselves into it.

Suspected tumour turns out to be shoelaces

shoelace catVets shocked to discover a tangle of items in cat’s stomach

Brighton vets got a shock when they performed exploratory surgery on a cat with a suspected tumour, only to find an assortment of shoelaces, hair bands and plastic in his stomach.

Curious cat Garry had been taken to PDSA’s pet hospital in Brighton for his annual boosters, when vets became concerned by a large mass in his stomach. Garry’s worried owner, was told to expect the worst, as a life-threatening tumour was suspected to be the cause.

During emergency surgery, however, PDSA vet Jess Maguire discovered a tangle of objects in Garry’s stomach. She commented: “We often see dogs who have eaten odd things, but it is quite unusual for a cat to eat so many different items.”

Garry’s owner said: “Garry is a very cheeky little chap who has always preferred playing with human things instead of cat toys. But we had no idea he was actually eating them.

“I’d washed some laces from my trainers, which went missing. I never for one moment thought that Garry was the reason why!

“When I first heard it may be a tumour, I was devastated. My two boys and I all adore him. So although I was absolutely shocked to find out what the mass was, we were relieved to hear the good news that it wasn’t a tumour.”

The items could have caused a fatal blockage if left undetected. Vets suspect they had been eaten over a period of time and said it’s surprising the cat had not suffered any symptoms.

Garry’s owner said the mischievous moggie will be under close scrutiny now to put a stop to his bizarre snacking.

Thinking of getting a dog……..

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Chocolate Bunnies for Easter not real ones !!!

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Lily Toxicity

Lily toxicity

Couples advised to draw up ‘pet-nups’

pet nupsCouples are being advised make plans for their pets in case they divorce.

One-in-four divorces involve a dispute over pets

Family law experts are advising couples to put together a plan in case the worst should happen.

Whether a cat, dog or a rabbit, couples preparing to get married or set up home together are being urged to draw up a pre-nup for their animals.

Whilst it may not be the most romantic of conversations, family law experts believe that having a ‘pet-nup’ for sharing ‘custody’ of the pet and other details, such as cost of veterinary treatment, will provide peace of mind for both partners.

“Solicitors are usually the first port of call for people who are divorcing so perhaps we are a little on the cynical side- but we see the problems caused when relationships break down – and it’s usually costly, stressful and emotionally draining for both parties.

Pets are part of the family so it makes sense to think about their welfare.

Many pets are taken to re-homing centres following a relationship breakdown. Cats and dogs are the most fought over pets, followed by rabbits, guinea pigs and horses.

Alyson Jones, re-homing development manager at Blue Cross, said:  “At our re-homing centres we deal with some very upsetting situations when pets are brought to us following relationship splits. It really is devastating for everyone involved – including the pet. One partner will sometimes bring a pet to us for re-homing without the other’s knowledge.

“Our pets are not just material goods; they are often at the heart of our home lives, so it is a good idea to agree on your pet’s future in advance to make a difficult situation easier. It makes sense to agree up front who will keep your pet so that they don’t get dragged through the courts or end up in our re-homing centres.”


Rabbit welfare survey highlights concerns

rabbit welfareOver 60 per cent of rabbits were not reported to be calm when their owner was handling them.

A quarter of rabbits may be being kept with unsuitable companions

Findings from a new study have reinforced concerns that the welfare needs of many rabbits in the UK are not being met.

Researchers from the University of Bristol, who carried out the survey, say the results have highlighted a number of issues. For example, the number of rabbits living alone or with unsuitable companions, with lack of access to exercise and showing fear over loud noises and anxiety when owners are handling them.

Rabbits are the third most popular pet in the UK, with around 1.7 million being kept as pets. However, little is known about their quality of life, though they have often been dubbed the UK’s most neglected pet species.

A questionnaire was completed by a cross-section of 1,254 rabbit owners in Bristol, North Somerset, Manchester, the Wirral, Norwich and Eastern Norfolk. As well as some expected results, researchers say they found some surprises. 

The key findings, published in BMC Research Notes, were:

  • Sixty per cent of rabbits are kept alone
  • Around a quarter of the rabbits kept with another pet were found to sometimes fight with or avoid each other. Some may be natural but frequent and/or intense fighting could indicate the animals do not make suitable companions
  • While 98 per cent of owners did feed their rabbit hay, 10 per cent did not do so on a daily basis, which could be a cause for concern
  • Most rabbits had access to exercise areas, but this access was often irregular and not always at the times of day when rabbits are most active – early morning and evening
  • A high percentage (61 per cent) were not reported to be calm when their owner was handling them, and 58 per cent showed signs of fear at loud noises. These findings could be a significant concern for the species
  • Dental problems were reported in 12.2 per cent of rabbits, eye problems in 12.9 per cent, digestive problems in 11.5 per cent and parasites in 11.3 per cent

Dr Nicola Rooney from the university’s School of Veterinary Sciences said: “Many pet rabbits were found to be in good health, had compatible companions and were provided with enriched living areas. However, we also found numerous unrecognised welfare issues that affect large numbers of pet rabbits.”

Further work is needed to prioritise the issues highlighted and to find out if problems have been under-reported. Researchers say their findings will help with developing education resources to improve rabbit welfare.

Lawn Vets Swindon – Wise Vets for Special Pets


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Geese ride ‘roller coaster’ to navigate Himalayas

geese“It is generally more efficient to reduce the overall costs of flying by seeking higher-density air at lower altitudes.”

Decreasing air density at higher altitudes reduces bird’s ability to produce lift

Geese adopt a ‘roller coaster’ strategy during high altitude flights across the Tibetan plateau and Himalayan Mountains, a study by Bangor University has revealed.

Led by Dr. Charles Bishop from the School of Biological Sciences, the research team used custom-designed data loggers to monitor pressure derived altitude, body accelerations and heart rate of bar-headed geese during their southern migration from their breeding grounds in Mongolia to their wintering grounds in South-Easter Tibet or India.

The study showed that geese perform a sort of roller coaster ride through the mountains, essentially tracking the underlying terrain – even if it means repeatedly shedding altitude only to have to regain height later in the same or subsequent flight.

The scientists say that the birds adopt this strategy as flying at progressively higher altitudes becomes more difficult, as the decreasing air density reduces the bird’s ability to produce the lift and thrust required to maintain flight.  The birds are also faced with a reduction in oxygen availability as the atmospheric pressure falls from 100% at sea level to around 33% at the top of Mt. Everest.

Robin Spivey, the Research Officer on the project and developer of the data logging equipment, said: “We have developed two independent models to estimate changes in the energy expenditure of birds during flight”.

“One based on changes in heart rate and one based on the vertical movements of the bird’s body. These indicate that, as even horizontal flapping flight is relatively expensive at higher altitudes, it is generally more efficient to reduce the overall costs of flying by seeking higher-density air at lower altitudes.”

The paper, ‘The roller coaster flight strategy of bar-headed geese conserves energy during Himalayan migrations, by Charles M Bishop et al’, is published in Science.