“Street Sales” Banned in CA
In late July, Gov. Jerry brown signed into law a bill banning “street” sales of puppies from irresponsible breeders and increasing penalties for animal neglect, up to one year in county jail and a fine of $20K.
SB 917 was sponsored by Senator Ted W. Lieu, arguably the greatest animal advocate in the state Legislature, and co-sponsored by several state and national humane organizations.
A spokeswoman for The Humane Society of the U.S. had this to say about the Governor’s action: “With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Brown has significantly improved animal and consumer protection in California.”
The measure takes effect on Janury 1, 2012.
Pet Thefts Rising
According to figures compiled by the American Kennel Club (AKC), dog thefts in the first seven months of this year are up by almost a third from the same period last year. The AKC compiles its numbers from media reports of stolen dogs and calls to its Companion Animal Recovery service.
As of the end of July, the AKC database indicated that 224 animals had been stolen nationwide so far in 2011, compared with 150 during the same period last year. The total for the entire year in 2010 was 255. Large-breed dogs, especially Pit Bulls, are more likely to be stolen than smaller dogs.
Thieves nab the dogs from homes during burglaries, from vehicles, from pet stores, and sometimes from public places. The motive in all the thefts is money, says the AKC. Some dogs are sold to new owners, some to laboratories, and some are put in the fighting ring, the group claims.
The California Biomedical Research Association debunks what it calls the “Pet Theft Myth,” however, and says the animals used in research laboratories are specially bred for this purpose.
World’s Smartest Dog
In case you missed the Nova special on PBS (and Herb Canine's wry comments about it a couple issues back), we bring you Chaser, a seven-year-old Border Collie considered by many to be the world’s smartest dog. She and her human, retired psychology professor John Pilley, have been together since Chaser was 8 weeks old. Over the course of three years, Pilley painstakingly taught the dog to distinguish between more than 1,000 objects.
Pilley’s research was published in the journal Behavioral Processes and advances the notion that canines possess faculties akin to human intelligence. In four different experiments, Chaser demonstrated that she knows the names of 1,022 stuffed and plastic toys. Not only can she find each one in a big random pile of toys, she also understands the nouns Pilley uses in directing her. For instance, when he says “Find Sugar,” Chaser digs a particular stuffed animal out of the pile. When he says, “Paw Lamb,” she touches the toy named Lamb with her paws.
The most amazing part of the film footage is when Pilley asks Chaser to find a toy with a name she has never heard before. To see if Chaser was capable of something like deductive reasoning, he put the strange toy in amongst the others and then told Chaser to “Find Darwin.” Chaser had never seen the toy, but after a short time searching amongst the toys, she fetched the toy named Darwin. Pretty impressive.
Many other delightful dogs and fascinating facts are featured in the Nova program, entitled “How Smart Are Dogs?” It initially aired in February. Check www.pbs.org for any scheduled re-runs, or to order your own copy.