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  • 28 Aug 2015 4:37 PM | Deleted user

    GONZALES, La., Aug. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Precisely ten years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, disaster response experts from around the country gathered in Gonzales, LA for an intensive animal rescue boot-camp. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) joined member agencies of the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC) to conduct the trainings.

    The International Fund for Animal Welfare helped rescue, care and transport 7,000 animals following Hurricane Katrina. (C) IFAW/S. Cook

    "We see it in the U.S. and increasingly all over the world, the importance of keeping pets and farm animals safe during disasters has never been stronger," said Shannon Walajtys, IFAW Disaster Response Manager.

    "This week is about commemorating the brave efforts to save animals during Katrina and reinforce the rescue skills needed when we're called to help."

    In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many residents refused to leave their homes and seek safe shelter. An estimated 44% of those who refused to evacuate did so because they could not bring their pets with them. More than 200 animal groups worked together on pet rescues and IFAW assisted in the rescue, care and transport of approximately 7,000 animals including cats and dogs, farm animals, reptiles, and birds.

    The following year, the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, which calls for agencies seeking FEMA relief to include animals in emergency plans, went into effect.

    Boot-camp participants are recreating hands-on water rescue scenarios using animal mannequins, boats and specialized equipment. They are also refreshing their skills on pet first aid, animal handling, sheltering, and fire rescue.

    IFAW has rescued and treated domestic and wild animals in more than 30 of the world's worst disasters including the recent earthquakes in Nepal, flood response work in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, Hurricane Sandy in the U.S., and the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis in Japan.

    Full story here:

  • 28 Aug 2015 4:33 PM | Deleted user

    MEXICO CITY  – Mexican environmental authorities loaded eight lions, two lynxes, a puma and a coyote aboard two military planes for a trip to a Colorado wildlife sanctuary on Wednesday, after the animals were found mistreated or abandoned.

    The flight aboard two Mexican Navy transport aircraft was the second instalment in an airlift that will eventually take about two dozen animals to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg.

    Biologist Ignacio Millan said it was the first time Mexico’s Navy had participated in the animal relocation effort.

    Millan said the lions, lynxes and puma had been taken from private homes, zoos or circuses where they were often mistreated.

    The coyote had been used in witchcraft ceremonies.

    Millan said that nine tigers still remain to be transferred to the 720-acre (291-hectare) sanctuary, where animals can roam.

    Mexico’s recently enacted ban on exotic animal performances in circuses is expected to increase the number of animals that are either abandoned or left in bad conditions, because many circus owners say they can’t afford to maintain non-performing animals.

    Full story here:

  • 28 Aug 2015 4:30 PM | Deleted user

    New year-long study aims to collect hard data on the condition of animals and find ways to improve transport practices.

    Animal welfare during transport is a hot topic, and so Alberta Farm Animal Care is conducting a cattle benchmarking project that will track the condition of animals arriving at auction marts and abattoirs.

    “There’s a lot of talk around transport and what’s happening with animals,” said Angela Greter, the organization’s executive director. “We hear a lot of anecdotal comments from people off the cuff, but we don’t know what is really happening.

    “So we need to do a proper study about that, rather than just listening to stories. If we can really see that there are problems, then we can address them.”

    The study aims to identify shipping conditions that may be detrimental to animals and establish a baseline that can be improved upon.

    “We’re also looking at associated risk factors, so we’re looking to capture how long an animal is in transport, what kind of truck they were travelling in, the weather and other factors,” said Greter. “We will then try to relate those potential risk factors to the conditions we’re seeing so we can get a better picture of what’s going on.”

    The study is being led by Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lethbridge, and will build on her recent study on animal transport and compromised cattle.

    “This project is almost like a followup on that one because what she didn’t capture in that was the arrival of animals at auctions,” said Greter.

    Data collection will begin later this month or in early September and will continue for a year to capture data in all seasons. Final results should be available in about a year and a half.

    Ottawa contributed $268,000 to the project, and additional support came from Alberta Beef Producers, Alberta Milk, the Alberta Cattle Feeders, Alberta Auction Markets Association, the provincial government, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

  • 28 Aug 2015 4:25 PM | Deleted user

    Aug. 22--A well-meaning bulldog that almost caused a plane crash ended up inspiring a flying animal-rescue organization.

    When pilot Brad Childs of Upper St. Clair was transporting 90-pound Monte as a favor to a friend in 2006, the dog broke free from his harness and jumped onto Childs' lap in the middle of the flight. The plane nosedived, but Childs straightened it out in time. He found the dog, on its way to a new adoptive family, to be endearing.

    After that incident, Childs talked to his friend and fellow pilot Jonathan Plesset about the idea of a flying mission to help transport all of the animals out there in need -- securely restrained, of course.

    They did some fundraising for animal causes -- like answering a call to help provide pet food to Georgia shelters that were running out of it -- and, in 2012, formally created the nonprofit Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team, which will have a social fundraiser Aug. 22.

    "We've found the greatest thing," says Plesset, 40, of Shadyside. "We're both passionate animal lovers and lovers of aviation, and what a great way to mix these two passions. It just puts a smile on our face every time we do this. ... It's an addiction.

    "It's blossomed into this giant thing," Plesset says of the animal-rescue team. His main business is owning Shadyside Inn All Suites Hotel, while Childs is one of the owners of Eyetique. "We can't believe we're moonlighting as 501.c3 (nonprofit) directors."

    Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team's crew of nine volunteer pilots, including co-founders Plesset and Childs, transport animals in their mostly single-engine planes like Cessnas. They usually fly hundreds of miles outside of Pittsburgh to and from places like West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia and New York City. The pilots pick up pets -- mostly dogs, but also the occasional cat or other animal -- and transport them to shelters that can take them.

    "We'll get a call that there are seven to 10 dogs that someone pulled from a rural area ... and will be euthanized, and a ground crew isn't available on time," Plesset says. "It's really for the convenience of being able to mobilize quickly and get in and out quickly."

    Some of the organization's nearly 40 volunteers also work as "ground pilots," driving large vehicles to transport 40 to 60 animals in one shot.

    Shelters usually contact the organization, which acts as a go-between. Many shelters are overwhelmed and just don't have the space or resources to deal with the volume of animals they get, and they have no choice but to euthanize pets -- unless they get either adopted or rescued and moved elsewhere, which is where the rescue team comes in, Plesset says.

    "Our mission ... is, we want to prevent that problem," he says. Often, "all dogs need is a lift to another place."

    The team has saved 1,594 animals, and Plesset hopes that by the end of next year, the group will have saved more than 5,000 animals.

    The volunteers are very devoted, he says.

    "People take vacation time to go drive 1,200 miles over two days to do these missions," Plesset says. "These people are beyond dedicated."

    The Aug. 22 event is a key fundraiser in its second year. Last year, it drew 500 people -- more than organizers expected -- and this year, they are hoping to break 1,000 attendees. Held in the Allegheny County Airport's Main Terminal, the event will include entertainment, an auction and pets available for adoption from the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society.

    "We are proud to have Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team as our partner in saving lives and are excited to have our animals at the Dog Days of Summer event," says Joy Braunstein, executive director of the North Side group. The shelter also will recognize Childs and Plesset at its Best Friends Ball on Sept. 13.

    Cindy Szczudlo -- manager of rescue services for North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, Long Island, N.Y. -- said the people of the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team are amazing. She recalls a time when they flew six puppies and six dogs to the no-kill shelter.

    "It was just such a wonderful experience," she says. "We knew right away we had to start working with these guys. They are really great guys who truly do care about animals."

    Full story here:

  • 28 Aug 2015 4:23 PM | Deleted user

    For years people have been aghast at the inhumane way animals are transported. A notification of the road transport ministry will change that

    Finally, chicken are being accorded some 'dignity in death'! Instead of being crammed inside a small cage with a dozen others of the same ilk, chicken will now get an exclusive 40 cm sq of travel space while being transported from the poultry farm to the stall. This is one of the new livestock transportation rules that will come into effect from January 1.

    Not just chicken, decent space while being transported has also been defined for cows, buffaloes, horses, mares, sheep, goats and pigs. This has been done to prevent maltreatment of animals during transportation. A notification of the ministry of road transport and highways has been recently passed to the effect after amending Central Motor Vehicle Rules — 1989.

    The amended rules categorically state that "motor vehicles carrying animals shall have permanent partitions in the body of the vehicle so that the animals are carried individually in each partition where the size of the partition shall not be less than the following: for cows and buffaloes - 2 m sq, horse and mares - 2.25 m sq, sheep and goats - 0.3 m sq, pigs - 0.6 m sq and poultry - 40 cm sq."

    The rules also state that vehicles carrying livestock shall not be permitted to carry other goods. The central government has directed all regional transport offices to issue special licences for vehicles meant for carrying animals on the basis of vehicles modified in accordance with these rules.

    Animal right activists hailed the new rule, with one saying, "It is a good move and upholds animal rights," while transporters have cried foul and say that the move will have huge financial implications.

    RTOs will do regular checking

    The higher ups in the transport department say that RTOs in the city are doing regular checking of trucks carrying livestock. Transport commissioner Rame Gowda said, "As per the existing rules we are taking action against those who break rules while transporting animals. A few days back, we had issued instructions to all RTOs to look into the issue as people complained about animals being transported without proper space in the vehicles. RTOs have taken action in many cases. About the new rules, we will follow the instructions as the government directs."

    Full story here:

  • 21 Aug 2015 4:20 PM | Deleted user

    Bird flu’s deadly march through parts of Iowa cost the economy $1.2 billion, according to a study released Monday.

    The tally includes about $800 million in lost egg, chicken and turkey production, along with the goods and services needed for production, and $400 million in lost wages to workers and taxes to federal, state and local governments, said Spencer Parkinson, executive director of Decision Innovation Solutions.

    The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation commissioned the Urbandale firm to study bird flu’s economic impact study.

    “It’s really astounding that we could lose half of our poultry flock in a couple of months,” said Dave Miller, Farm Bureau’s director of research and commodity services. “Recovery from this outbreak which devastated Iowa egg and poultry farms will not be swift.”

    In May, Iowa and Minnesota experts estimated losses from avian influenza at about $1 billion.

    Nationally, about 50 million birds were lost to the disease hitting more than a dozen states, including about 9 million chickens and turkeys in Minnesota.

    Iowa will lose about 8,500 jobs directly and indirectly from the bird flu outbreak that hit 77 Iowa farms, according to the Decision Innovation study.

    That include jobs lost directly at the poultry barns and jobs lost through the businesses that provide supplies and services to the industry.

    “In addition to the lost revenue to producers,” the study says, avian influenza “also has many other adverse consequences on economic activity ... such as lost business for feed suppliers, veterinarians, truck transportation, financial institutions and decreases in government tax revenues.”

    The report also says that facilities might have difficulty finding new workers in counties hard-hit by the virus.

    “Once employees are laid off from working in the egg or turkey industries, they may choose to move to other employment, which in many cases may be outside of the immediate area, effectively removing them and their skill-sets from the local labor pool,” the report states.

    “Significant effort will need to be expended to find, train and retain suitable replacements for those laid off as a result of the outbreak,” it said.

    Miller said farmers — and consumers — will face continued challenges.

    “Egg prices are likely to peak out this summer, but the ‘elevated’ price for eggs is likely to linger for a minimum of 12 months and could last for two to three years,” he said.

    Prices for consumers have more than doubled since the disease hit Iowa, the nation’s top egg producer, in April.

    And the industry is bracing for the possible return of the disease this fall with migrating waterfowl such as ducks and geese. They’re the source of the disease that can be spread on workers’ boots, equipment, carried on dust, wind or by small birds or rodents.

    “The entire industry is reviewing all of their biosecurity protocols, but since about 16 percent of all wild water fowl are carriers of avian influenza, the potential for exposure is difficult to eliminate,” Miller said.

    “Farms are working to minimize contact of their birds with wild birds, but it is very difficult to keep out sparrows, starlings, and everything that migrates over these barns,” he said.

    Full story here:

  • 21 Aug 2015 4:17 PM | Deleted user

    Statewide Iowa — State Ag Secretary Bill Northey has just allowed unrestricted traffic in the handful of remaining quarantine areas established around poultry facilities struck by the bird flu.

    “We’re now distant enough from the last parts of that outbreak that we’re able, today, to release the last of those control zones,” Northey says. “And that is very helpful not only for the folks that were affected, but for those folks that were very near those that were affected that still had to go through that permitting process.”

    Travel and transport of goods and animals in a 10- kilometer or six-point-two miles zone initially was restricted around the 71 poultry facilities in Iowa that were hit by bird flu. The number of control zones was reduced to just eight by the beginning of August. Northey says as of this week, just over half of the impacted poultry facilities have completed the cleaning and disinfecting process.

    “We have 11 sites out of those 71 that have completed clean, disinfecting and testing and are eligible to be able to restock in their facilities,” Northey says. “We have four that have restocked — one that’s turkeys and three that have chickens in them — and we see that number growing significantly over the next few weeks.”

    Northey spoke at a news conference this afternoon (Wednesday) held in front of the “Turkey Grill” at the Iowa State Fair. Representatives of the poultry industry who also spoke at the event say it’s going to be difficult to repopulate all the empty poultry barns because there’s a shortage of pullets –which are chicks that are less than a year old. Ross Thoreson, the president of the Iowa Turkey Federation’s board of directors, says one-quarter of the turkey farms in Iowa were hit by bird flu.

    “We anticipate all farms affected by this disease to be repopulated by the middle of December of this year,” Thoreson says, “so you can see there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”

    Dave Rettig of Rembrandt Farms in Rembrandt had to lay off 200 of his 900 workers when his operation was hit and he’s just started rehiring.

    “It was a tsunami that came in,” Rettig says. “Over half the egg production in the state of Iowa was wiped away over the course of three weeks and what took our company 25 years to build, half of it was wiped away in that period of time, so we’re coping with a series of unprecedented situations and all doing the best we can.”

    With the threat bird flu might return this fall when wild birds start their migration south, U-S-D-A officials have announced plans to acquire a stockpile of vaccine, with the goal of delivering those vaccines within 24 hours to any poultry producers near an infected flock. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad says the industry wants the vaccine now, as a precaution.

    “I think the big concern is to get release, to be able to use it, instead of waiting for another outbreak,” Branstad says.

    Poultry producers say without the protection of the vaccine, it would be a severe blow to have restocked their barns, only to have to kill the young birds if the outbreak returns this fall.

    Story from Radio Iowa

    Full story here:

  • 21 Aug 2015 4:15 PM | Deleted user

    AT AgQuip in Gunnedah this week, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Duncan Gay encouraged regional councils to participate in the NSW Livestock Loading Scheme, on the back of recent findings of an independent review.

    The review found the Scheme could save producers up to $10.2 million a year in livestock transport costs and reduce more than 7,000 annual truck trips on regional roads and highways if it was taken up by a greater number of shire councils.

    "The NSW Government introduced the Livestock Loading Scheme in 2012 to boost regional productivity, help stimulate more jobs in agriculture, and reduce the number of smaller truck movements on state and council owned roads," Mr Gay said.

    "The Livestock Loading Scheme has enabled the use of safer and more productive freight trucks, helping to reduce 'wear and tear' on local and regional roads.

    "Since March 2013, more than 800 professional livestock carrier drivers have also benefitted from practical driver training courses, which go a long way to improving safety on our roads.

    "Drivers are provided with information on rules for operating under the Scheme as well as learning about how to prevent truck roll-overs by better understanding how the loading of livestock impacts the centre of gravity of a laden vehicle.

    "Feedback from industry and local councils through the independent review has confirmed the positive impact of the Scheme for businesses and regional communities."

    The Livestock Loading Scheme was developed in consultation with meat and livestock industry groups as well as local government. It allows for slightly increased weight limits for livestock trucks contingent on the adoption of additional vehicle standards, safety measures and driver training.

    "Sensible truck weights result in increased levels of freight productivity and fewer truck movements, which in turn means 'less wear and tear' on our roads and highways. To date, 21 regional councils have enrolled in the Scheme," Mr Gay said.

    "The Scheme is yet another example of the NSW Government's commitment to improving freight productivity for the agricultural sector in regional NSW.

    "Since 2011, we've invested almost $1.9 billion in grants to help councils build and repair local roads, including our $43 million Fixing Country Roads initiative.

    "The Scheme has the potential to deliver considerable productivity gains for the entire livestock production sector as well as improving safety, animal welfare and the overall condition of regional roads and highways.

    "The evidence is in for the benefits of broader take-up and it will be our task now to ensure councils are aware of the Scheme's value to regional businesses and economies."

    The Review of the NSW Livestock Loading Scheme summary is available online at 

    Full story here:

  • 21 Aug 2015 4:12 PM | Deleted user

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture is the primary agency responsible for policing the exotic animal trade. But other state and federal agencies play a role. 

    Understate law, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources only regulates native species — which cannot be removed from the wild — and several species that have been deemed too “harmful,” including wild and feral swine and bears, according to DNR communications director Jim Dick.

    The agency issues captive wild animal farm licenses to those who wish to keep native wild animals such as skunks, cougars and wolves. The USDA allocates licenses for non-native species.

    Other agencies are responsible for regulating the interstate and international transportation of animals.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcesthe Lacey Act, which prohibits the import and interstate transport of “injurious species” such as Burmese pythons, mongooses and fruit bats, and restricts the transportation of captive-bred big cats, according to Tina Shaw, public affairs specialist for the Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest region.

    The agency also enforces the Endangered Species Act, which prohibits interstate sale and transportation of species listed under the act including the gray wolf, American alligator and whooping crane. However, there are some exemptions for institutions like zoos, which are able to donate and move the species among themselves, Shaw said.

    The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection lists several species — prairie dogs and tree squirrels among them — that may not be imported into Wisconsin because they are known to carry highly contagious diseases.

    In addition, the department requires people transporting an animal across the Wisconsin border  — even a pet dog — to have the animal inspected by a veterinarian, who completes a certificate of veterinary inspection.

    If the animal is a common household pet such as a dog, cat or ferret, the veterinarian makes sure the animal is up to date on all vaccinations. That certificate is then sent to the state veterinarian of the origin state, the destination state and every state that the animal passes through, said Bekah Weitz, a humane officer for Monroe County.

    In theory, the requirement for animal owners to obtain such certificates creates a paper trail to track animals crossing state borders. But Weitz said the illegal, undocumented transportation of animals across state lines happens “more often than we’d like to admit.”

    “I can pretty much guarantee that most agencies and most individuals don't (obtain certificates),” Weitz said. “I mean, when I take my dog on vacation to Michigan I don't do that.”

    She added, “I think there's probably a lot more transportation of animals, exotic or otherwise, than we have any idea of, and being that Wisconsin is a state where there is no regulation for the keeping of exotics, I would imagine that it's probably ... pretty attractive to certain people.”

    Full story here:

  • 21 Aug 2015 4:09 PM | Deleted user

    The French Ministry of Agriculture has consulted the industry stakeholders: ranchers, veterinarians, as well as non-profit organizations.

    France noted axial guidance in animal welfare to 2020. Although animal welfare is already strongly regulated by both the European Union and the French Legislations, the French Agriculture Ministry has gone one step further by issuing an ambitious strategy for animal welfare, considering that it is an essential component of sustainability in agriculture.

    This five-year strategy has been developed with the aim of better integrating the issue of animal welfare into agricultural practices. To this end, the French Ministry of Agriculture has consulted the industry stakeholders: ranchers, veterinarians as well as non-profit organizations.

    The different objectives of the 2015-2020 Animal Welfare Strategy:

    To develop and share knowledge while stimulating innovation. A National Reference Centre will coordinate research and develop a technical expertise on the subject.

    To involve stakeholders at all levels of the strategy; especially ranchers, veterinarians as well as employees of animal transport companies, and slaughterhouses

    To pursue the efforts towards more humane practices at every stage of animal production: during farming, transportation and at the slaughterhouse

    To prevent and address animal abuse

    To communicate on the progress of the program

    Better understanding of animal behaviors and enhanced estimations of non-specific risk factors in animal health became integrated to the conception of farm buildings. More specifically when new barns are built, the geographical exposure takes into account the climate and the dominant winds considering the fact that the cattle can’t bear airstreams. Moreover, a natural air flow is set up above the animals in order to renew the air and avoid the condensation of water on the animals– thus reducing the risk of respiratory diseases. Natural light also is a critical factor to animal well-being and is provided to animals thanks to transparent materials and skylights. Not only is this practice good for the animal’s comfort, but long photoperiods also improve reproductive functions and milk production.

    In addition to “on farm practices”, good practices in specialized animal transportation and at the slaughterhouses have been developed for cattle. “ The on-going efforts that are being led by the different agricultural sectors are consistent with the French Strategy for Animal Welfare 2015-2020 that will provide a back up to these actions.

    Full story here:

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