A new study has revealed that the number of pedigree dogs at risk of often painful and debilitating inherited diseases is being dramatically reduced by responsible breeders.
The research, carried out by scientists who work for the Kennel Club and the Animal Health Trust, examined the long-term impact of dog breeders using DNA tests to avoid producing puppies affected by inherited conditions. The study specifically examined DNA tests for eight diseases in eight breeds. Researchers discovered that approximately ten years after each DNA test became available, the gene mutations that caused the diseases had decreased in each breed by a staggering 90 per cent or more.
The study examined data for diseases such as progressive rod cone degeneration (prcd-PRA), an irreversible and blinding condition that cannot be treated; Spinocerebellar ataxia, a neurological condition that leads to incoordination and loss of balance in puppies and primary lens luxation, a painful and blinding inherited eye condition.
The breeds analysed in the study were the Labrador Retriever, Parson Russell Terrier, Gordon Setter, Irish Setter, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Miniature Bull Terrier, Cocker Spaniel and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Similar previous studies, that investigated the frequency of disease mutations over time, analysed smaller and more restricted datasets than the current study. This unique study was able to take advantage of the way that the Kennel Club records DNA test results in its registration database.
Currently the Kennel Club records and openly publishes the results of DNA tests for over 70 different inherited diseases, representing approximately 10,000 DNA tested dogs each year. In some cases, the Kennel Club is able to use DNA test results from a registered dogs’ parents to determine whether the offspring carries the specific mutation associated with a particular disease. This enables a breeder to know a dog’s “hereditary status”, a process that is carried out for around 60,000 dogs a year. It is these data that has allowed this newly published research to investigate the previously unseen impact tthat breeders can have on the health of a breed.
Dr Tom Lewis, Quantitative Geneticist & Genetics Research Manager at the Kennel Club, who co-wrote the study, said:
“The Kennel Club and the Animal Health Trust have a long history of working together to develop and promote vital new DNA tests for breeders. Our research shows the sizable impact that responsible breeders can have, and have had, not only on the dogs that they breed, but also on the generations of dogs that come after them. It emphasises the importance of continued research into inherited conditions and shows the impact a simple DNA test can have.
“Testing for genetic diseases is already common practice for many responsible dog breeders. These DNA tests reveal to breeders a dog’s genetic make-up, helping them to avoid unintentionally producing puppies with known painful and life-limiting diseases from mating two unaffected parents which are both ‘carriers’ of the disease causing gene variant.
“Our research highlights the fantastic work that has already been carried out by those breeders and breed clubs that have been utilising and promoting DNA tests for years, while similarly demonstrating why those who haven’t been health screening should be doing so. It also stresses why puppy buyers should only buy puppies from breeders who appropriately test their dogs, such as Kennel Club Assured Breeders, not only for the immediate health reassurances, but also for the health of the wider dog population.”
The owner of a diabetic dog has appealed to other animal owners not to give up on their pets after research revealed 1 out of 10 diabetic pets are put down at diagnosis.
Rebecca South, 40, from South Yorkshire, a Senior Account Manager at MSD Animal Health, has been managing her 16-year-old terrier Lottie’s diabetes since she was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 10 in 2012. Lottie has since been kept under close supervision with a managed diet and insulin and is otherwise a healthy, happy dog.
Recent findings from the Big Pet Diabetes Survey (Neissen et al, 2017) have revealed more than 10 per cent of diabetic cats and dogs are euthanised at diagnosis, despite the fact that they can live normal, healthy lives – and some diabetic cats can even achieve remission.
Rebecca is sharing Lottie’s story in a bid to inform other pet owners that their animals can go on to live happy lives following a diabetes diagnosis, whilst also urging pet owners to check in with their vet if they spot any signs of diabetes, including weight loss despite increased appetite, excessive thirst, vomiting or lethargy.
Rebecca said: “When Lottie was diagnosed with diabetes the vet advised me that she would need some lifestyle changes and insulin treatment for the rest of her life. If I chose not to treat her, the condition would rapidly progress and I would have to put her to sleep. The thought of putting Lottie down just wasn’t an option. She is an important member of the family, and I wanted to do everything I could to keep her with us.
“Six years on, and managing Lottie’s diabetes is second nature. In fact, very quickly we got into a routine and it is normal for us now. She has twice daily feeds with a specialised diabetic diet, followed by twice daily injections of insulin with a pen.
“It does sometimes take more organisation than with a non-diabetic dog, as they have to be fed and dosed at roughly the same time every day. A few of us in my household know how to use the insulin pen, so if I’m not at home, we are able to be consistent with her treatment. She has a check up with her vet every six months and sometimes a blood test to check she is still stable and I monitor her at home for the signs that she may be becoming unstable. Consistency with diet, medication and exercise is the key to a happy, stable diabetic.”
According to Blaise Scott-Morris MRCVS, MSD Animal Health’s vet advisor for diabetes, further education is needed amongst pet owners to raise awareness of diabetes in pets and the importance of an early diagnosis to achieve better treatment.
She said: “Rebecca and Lottie’s story proves that pets can go on to live a fulfilling life after a diabetes diagnosis. To help ensure the long-term health and well-being of our diabetic pets, successfully managing the various facets of the disease and treatments is critical.
“Often animals are put to sleep as owners don’t feel they can cope with the medical side of injecting their animal every day. There are ways to make this much more manageable for clients, including the use of insulin pens similar to those used in the treatment of human diabetes.
“While 90 per cent of humans use an insulin pen to facilitate insulin injection, less than 20 per cent of diabetic pets are treated in the same way, which indicates an opportunity to improve pet diabetes management.
“MSD Animal Health has also launched a Pet Diabetes Tracker app to make the disease far easier to manage for pet owners. It’s an incredibly useful tool that enables owners to use a smartphone or tablet to track water and food consumption, exercise levels, glucose levels and insulin injections. It also allows reminders to be set for vet appointments and medication timings, providing charts and trends that owners can share with their vet. Blaise is urging pet owners to check in with their vet if they spot any signs of diabetes, including weight loss despite increased appetite, excessive thirst, vomiting or lethargy.
She added: “We will hopefully see an increase in the number of owners opting for treatment and a drop in the number of unnecessary euthanasia cases if we can succeed in educating pet owners about pet diabetes management.”
Two cats named after a famous comedy duo hope today’s launch of a new movie could aid their search for a new forever home.
Stanley Laurel and Oliver Hardy are brother cats, and currently based at the RSPCA’s Bryn-Y-Maen Animal Centre at Upper Colwyn Bay.
The siblings’ search for forever home happiness comes as a new film Stan & Ollie, starring Steve Coogan and John C Reilly, hits UK cinemas today.
Stanley and Oliver came into the RSPCA’s care in June 2018 as kittens – having been rescued from a Wrexham property, where multiple animals were being kept in filthy conditions.
Oliver is a black domestic shorthair, who can be shy with strangers but is very affectionate once he gets to know somebody. Meanwhile, Stanley, a tabby domestic shorthair crossbreed, is a shy guy, but comes out of his shell to play and chase toys.
Animal centre staff would consider either rehoming the cats together or separately, depending on the set-up of any prospective new owner.
Chris Butler, of the RSPCA Bryn-Y-Maen Animal Centre, said: “Film go-ers across North Wales will be flocking to cinemas to watch the return of Stanley Laurel and Oliver Hardy to the big screens.
“But we’d also urge people from across the region to come and meet our very own Stan and Ollie too – here at the Bryn-Y-Maen Animal Centre.
“These two beautiful cats have been in our care for a number of months – and we’re really hoping their famous new names, and the launch of this film, will help showcase what amazing pets these cats can be.
“Our centre is open every day of the week except Wednesday – between 11am and 4pm. We’d urge anyone eager to meet Stanley Laurel and Oliver Hardy to get in touch.”
The pair are not the only Laurel and Hardy-inspired cats to have been based at an RSPCA adoption centre.
In January 2017, Roger and Diane O’Brien of Thornhill in north Cardiff took home a loving pair of sibling cats from the RSPCA Newport Animal Centre on Hartridge Farm Road – and duly named them Stan and Ollie!
Roger and Diane said: “We’re big fans of the comedy show, and can’t wait to see the new film. The names Stan & Ollie seemed so perfect for our cats, as they are just hilarious and have really lit up our lives since we brought them home from the RSPCA Newport Animal Centre.
“We’ve always had rescue cats, and really hope to see the Bryn-Y-Maen-based Ollie & Stan find their second chance of forever home happiness, too!”
For centuries, dog has been a man’s best friend, showering their owners with companionship and loyalty. In fact, 67% of dog owners named their pooch their best friend according to new research by Asda Money.
And it seems the special bond with our four-legged friends has grown closer than ever before, with UK pet owners admitting to putting their dog’s dietary needs before their own when it comes to mealtimes.
Further research has revealed that when choosing what type of pet food to purchase, over half (62%) of UK dog owners place most importance on health and nutritional benefits, with other factors such as brand (33%) and cost (38%) being less of a priority. Yet, when it comes to our own food intake, flavour (59%) impacts our decision making the most.
As a dog loving nation, it’s no surprise that 55% of owners strongly agree that a healthy diet is extremely important for their canine companion. However, it seems we’re not as good at taking care of ourselves, with just over a third (39%) of people placing the same importance on their own health, when it comes to their diet.
Alistair Ball, Head of Pet Insurance at Asda Money, said: “The results from the research we conducted have shown the lengths that pet owners will go to, to ensure they have a happy and healthy pet. With the majority of people putting their dog before themselves, it’s not surprising that we have a nation of pampered pets. 53% of people admit to feeding their dog before themselves, even if they’re hungry, that is true canine love!
“Caring for your pet, through a nutritional diet, regular check-ups with the vet, and making sure you have the right level of pet insurance so you’re covered for all eventualities, is the best way to keep those tails wagging with joy.”
The research also highlighted some potential areas for concern, such as a disconnect between providing healthy meals and treating dogs to human foods. Over a third (38%) admitted to feeding their pooch chocolate and cheese, which in some cases, can be extremely toxic. Rather worryingly, 68% only claimed to know ‘some’ of the food items which are dangerous for dogs to consume. So, are we potentially spoiling our canine companions to the point of causing unnecessary harm?
With obesity on the rise, in both humans and pets alike, it’s no surprise that there has been a rise in people opting for a ‘free-from’ diet recently. And it appears the trend has extended into the canine world too, with 60% of dog owners also considering their dog’s dietary requirements when browsing the pet food aisles.
Alistair, continues: “It’s clear people want to treat their dogs, with 36% giving them daily treats. Yet, staggeringly, 87% of people actually shun healthy homemade dog treats, having never tried to create them at home before. To encourage healthy, easy eating, we’ve launched ‘On Your Marks, Get Set, Bark!’. This campaign encourages people to make healthy treats by showcasing simple-to-make doggy recipes.”
For further tips and advice on how to keep your dog healthy, and create your own nutritional doggy treats, please visit Asda Money for recipes, which includes simple to make how-to videos by leading food blogger, Ciara, from ‘My Fussy Eater’.
Tilly the Tibetan Terrier went missing whilst on a walk with her family on the 15th September in Long Hanborough, Oxfordshire
Despite over three months of extensive searching to find Tilly, there have been no confirmed sightings of her since the day she went missing. It is now presumed that she has been stolen and has been reported to the Thames Valley Police.
Tilly is such an important member of her family and they are absolutely devastated that she didn’t make it home in time for Christmas. Whilst this photo is a very recent image of Tilly, the family are urging people to keep an eye open for any dog that looks like Tilly as she may have been groomed to disguise her appearance. Tilly is microchipped. Were you sold a dog who looks like Tilly since mid- September? If so, we understand that you may already be very attached to her but her family miss her terribly.
Teddy, a chocolate brown Cockapoo went missing whilst out for a walk with his family near Ellesmere, Shropshire on 28th September 2018. Despite significant searching and an active social media campaign, Teddy still hasn’t been found. Teddy could now be anywhere in the UK and may also have been groomed to disguise his appearance. His family are pleading with anyone who knows anything, even if it’s not the good news they want to hear or has Teddy to please get in touch; their days are painful without their best friend and they are hoping for a New Year miracle that brings their beloved Teddy home. Teddy is microchipped and has been registered as missing with the chip company.
Willow, a female Sprocker escaped from her back garden in Much Wenlock, also in Shropshire with the other family dog on 17th September. The other dog reappeared in the family’s front garden but sadly Willow did not and Willow’s family are absolutely heartbroken. It is now believed that Willow could potentially have been found and kept as despite significant searching by the local community, no trace of Willow has ever been found. It is a legal requirement that any dog found, is reported to the local Dog Warden and the police. Willow is very much part of the family and went everywhere with her mum; it’s like her shadow has disappeared. The family are also asking for anyone with information to come forward and help reunite Willow. Willow is microchipped, which have been registered as missing/stolen and is spayed.
Not-for-profit organisation DogLost, helps reunite dogs with their owners. Started in 2003, after the founder Jayne Hayes lost her French Bulldog, it has assisted over 80,000 dog owners, helping reunite them with their pets. It is the UK’s largest lost and found dog service and best of all it is free!
DogLost assists with the search of missing and stolen dogs by putting details onto their website and then sending e-alerts out to their national network of supporters and volunteers to help search for the missing pet. Each area has a volunteer regional coordinator, who is on hand to offer practical and emotional support to the families.
DogLost actively works in collaboration with four
police forces currently and is in the process of working with other
forces in the same way.
More than 1m calls are made to the RSPCA each year to report animals in need of help – here the charity reflects on some of the most surprising and unusual!
RSPCA officers never know what they might face when they are called out to help animals in need – whether it’s a cat in a sofa, a snake in a dishwasher or a squirrel in the loo.
Here, we look back on some of the animal charity’s most surprising rescues of 2018…
1.‘Help! I’m wheely stuck!’
A fox cub who got his head stuck in the hole of an abandoned car wheel was rescued by the RSPCA with the help of vegetable oil! A local spotted the struggling cub on 16 June in Leyton, London, and RSPCA Inspector Kate Ford arrived to lend a hand. She said: “This poor little fox cub was in a complete pickle. He had somehow managed to jam his head through the hole in an old car wheel and was stuck fast. He was beginning to panic and I knew we needed to work quickly. I tried to ease his head back through the hole, but it just wouldn’t go. He clearly needed some lubrication, so I used some cooking oil which the animal-loving resident had retrieved from his house – and that did the trick! Happily, he was none the worse for his ordeal and soon ran off, hopefully to be reunited with his family.”
2. Urine trouble!
An RSPCA officer was feeling flush after rescuing a distressed squirrel who had found himself stuck – in a toilet! Animal collection officer Kirstie Gillard was called on May 13 by worried students in a shared house in Southwark, London, when they found the squirrel stuck in their toilet. The plucky rodent gripped onto a mop handle and was lifted out of the toilet before being cleaned off, dried and released. She said: “Fortunately the squirrel wasn’t injured at all and I could release him back into the wild where he belongs. I think he must have come into this house through the roof and slipped into the toilet. It was certainly one of the most unusual rescues I’ve ever carried out – I’m sure it’s one the squirrel ‘walnut’ forget in a hurry!”
3. Paw pooch
Verity O’Neill woke with a start on 27 March when she heard the cries of her eight-week-old Yorkshire terrier puppy Ringo Starr. She rushed downstairs to find the silly pup stuck with his head in a wooden TV cabinet! When Verity couldn’t free the stricken dog she called in help from RSPCA Inspector Anthony Joynes who rushed to the home in Birkenhead, Merseyside. He said: “Poor Ringo Starr was very uncomfortable and panicked, but the hole was fairly tight and I wasn’t able to free him at first, so with his owner’s permission we quickly grabbed some vegetable oil from the kitchen to gently rub around his neck to help loosen him, and with some very careful maneuvering, Ringo’s head slid out of the cabinet and he was free.” The took the pup to a local vet for a check-up and bath but the plucky pooch was fine and was soon home with his owner again.
4. Cornsnakes for breakfast
A man had a fright when he sat down to eat his breakfast – and a snake slithered out of the cereal box and into the dishwasher! RSPCA animal collection officer Katie Hetherington was called to the man’s home in Sheffield, Yorkshire, to rescue the snake on 19 May. She said: “I think he was expecting to have Cornflakes for breakfast – not Cornsnakes! The poor chap was absolutely terrified – I think it was the last thing he expected to find in his kitchen!” The 3ft-long snake, believed to be an escaped pet, was taken to a specialist centre.
5. Curious cat
A family had a shock when they found a stray cat wedged inside their reclining sofa. The curious puss wandered into the home in Bristol and hid under the sofa but she got stuck in the mechanism when the children reclined the chair and her tail got caught. RSPCA Inspector Simon Coombs was called to lend a hand on 19 January. He said: “The sofa was electric, the kids sat on it and pressed the button to move it not knowing the cat was underneath. The tail was obviously resting on the mechanism and, as the spindle started rotating, the fur became trapped. The homeowner had the right tools and set about dismantling the sofa while I helped keep hold of the cat and keep her calm. Luckily, we were able to free her and she was absolutely fine, if a little shaken up.” The frightened cat dashed outside and the family agreed to keep feeding her.
6. For fox sake!
A fox found himself in a spot of bother after falling into an enclosed garden – and getting his head stuck in wooden trellis panelling. RSPCA Inspector Karl Marston was called out to a home in Loughton, Essex, on 1 March to help the fox who had fallen off a 7ft-high wall and couldn’t find his way out of the courtyard. “The outdoor space was surrounded by 7ft walls with 2ft of trellis on top so it may well have been tricky for the fox to have escaped on his own – especially because of the snowy and icy conditions. It was extremely cold and the fox was quite young so would have been vulnerable if he was left stuck there, exposed to the elements.” But as he tried to catch the fox, the youngster panicked, scaled the wall and got stuck in the trellis! Luckily, this made it easier for Inspector Marston to catch the fox, free him and release him nearby.
7. Oh deer!
A young muntjac deer needed a helping hand from the RSPCA when he became trapped upside-down between two walls in Bedworth, Warwickshire. Animal Collection Officer (ACO) Adam McConkey was called out to the house on 13 March.
He said: “The poor little chap looked very uncomfortable and was probably disoriented. We think he somehow climbed up onto the garage roof, but then lost his footing and fell off the edge. We found him upside-down and stuck tight between the garage wall and the house. It was such a narrow space, he couldn’t move an inch.” Using a grasper, ACO McConkey managed to ease the deer out of the space. Thankfully, apart from a minor graze on his leg, he wasn’t injured and was released in some nearby woods.
8. Purr-fect rescue
A pretty puss ended up in a tight spot after wandering into a hotel to escape the cold and rain. Staff at Premier Inn, in Luton, Bedfordshire, called the RSPCA on 28 March as they were concerned the cat was stuck in a gap between two electric doors. Animal collection officer (ACO) Kate Wright, who rushed to the scene, said: “He had crawled into a narrow gap between the two automatic glass doors and plonked himself down. I’m not sure whether he was actually trapped or whether he was just trying to find someone safe to rest. He was soaking wet and freezing cold and had been trying to find somewhere warm and dry to curl up – unfortunately he chose a rather hazardous spot!” She managed to pull the cat – nicknamed Lenny by staff – free and took him to a local vet for a check-up before setting about to find his owners.
9. Are you kidding?
It was a baaaaaad day for a goat who got her head stuck between the bars of a metal fence. A member of public spotted the distressed goat in Norton, Stockton-on-Tees, in County Durham, on 12 May and contacted the RSPCA for help. Animal collection officer Emily Welch said: “The goats were kept in an enclosure but had somehow got out twice in one day and, the second time, this poor goat managed to get her head stuck in the metal fence. She was struggling to free herself and she had her kid with her who was also very distressed.” By digging the dirt underneath the fence, she was able to make enough space to carefully push the goat free. The animals were moved to another enclosure so they couldn’t get into trouble again!
10. Greedy does it
A greedy badger ended up in a bit of an embarrassing predicament after climbing a tree to nibble on some fruit – before slipping and getting wedged between branches. A man spotted the stricken badger in Harefield, London, on 16 August and called in RSPCA Inspector Callum Isitt. He said: “The badger was in a walled garden full of vegetable plots and fruit trees so it must have been very tempting for him. I suspect he’d been trying to climb the plum tree to get to the ripe, juicy fruits when he slipped and trapped his front leg in the ‘v’ where the two small branches met about 3ft off the ground. He was left dangling there and was obviously in some distress.” Inspector Isitt managed to free the badger and took him to the RSPCA’s Putney Animal Hospital for treatment for an injured leg.
11. Horny hedgehogs
Two frisky hedgehogs needed help after falling into a cattle grid while mating! A woman spotted the hogs when her dog alerted her to them. She called the RSPCA for help on 9 May when she couldn’t reach them to free them. Inspector Nicky Foster headed to Harbury, in Warwickshire, to help. She said: “The gaps between the metal grid bars were too small for me to pull the hedgehogs free so I contacted Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service who were able to use their specialist equipment to bend the bars so I could pluck the hogs to safety. We gave them both some food and water and checked them over. Luckily, they hadn’t been injured so we were able to release them into the bushes there and then. Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service area commander Dave Pemberton said: “We are hopeful that the hedgehogs will have learnt from their ordeal and that they won’t hog the limelight again any time soon!”
12. One life down…
A ginger puss used one of his nine lives after falling onto metal railings in London. The cat was found in the early hours of the morning on 9 March impaled on the 8ft railings in Cricklewood. RSPCA Chief Inspector Nicole Broster rushed to the scene, fearing the worst. She said: “When I took the emergency call about a cat impaled on fence posts, I was extremely worried and couldn’t believe that the cat was still alive. When I got there I was incredibly shocked – in all my years with the RSPCA I have never seen anything like it. This poor cat literally had two metal posts protruding through his body.” She called the London Fire Brigade for help and they used their specialist equipment to cut the railings and transport the cat – still impaled on the spikes – to a nearby vets where he was rushed into emergency surgery. Miraculously, the railings had narrowly missed his vital organs. After extensive media coverage, his owners were found and were reunited with Skittles.
13. Wheelie embarrassing!
A Somerset couple had a shock when they discovered a badger in their bin as they took the rubbish out! RSPCA animal collection officer Clara Scully was called on 6 September to Crewkerne to help the badger. “The bin was in the couple’s garden,” she said. “There was garden equipment that had been knocked over behind the bin and it was stored beside a shed so I think the badger had run along the back of the shed and, searching for food, either fell into the bin while following his nose or tried to climb down onto it and slipped! I think they had quite the fright when they peered in and saw him staring back up at them, covered in waste!” She took the badger to West Hatch Wildlife Centre, in nearby Taunton, to be assessed and prepared for a nighttime release.
A fox was found wedged in a front car grille more than 12 hours after being hit in an accident. The poor fox was spotted on 9 September – a day after the motorist hit something while driving in Hertfordshire. RSPCA animal collection officer Amy Reiter was called to Letchworth Garden City to help the stricken fox. She said: “The lad had hit a fox during the early hours of the morning and thought it went under his vehicle. He hadn’t realised the fox had survived the accident and had no idea it had, in fact, got stuck in the car. The following day, when he went to check his car for damage, he found the fox alive and wedged in the car grille! The fox didn’t want us to go anywhere near him and I couldn’t wrap him in a towel due to how he was stuck so I had to use my grasper to get hold of him – without getting bitten! – and carefully pull him free. As if by miracle, he had no serious injuries!” He was taken back to the area where the accident happened and released at a safe common nearby.
15. Sting in his step
The RSPCA got called out to deal with an unexpected guest who turned up at a Birmingham hotel – a scorpion! The creature was spotted scuttling around the third floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, in Birmingham, by a guest on 13 September. Brave staff carefully captured the scorpion – nicknamed Pepe – in a glass and called the RSPCA. Animal collection officer Vic Hurr went to collect the critter and transport him safely to a specialist. She said: “The scorpion was only small but he was a feisty little thing. We think he must have come out of some luggage and probably travelled thousands of miles so he certainly had an adventure.” The scorpion is believed to be a mildly venomous.
A kitten called Spock got his head stuck in a small hole in the back of a kitchen cupboard and had to be rescued by the fire services and RSPCA. The 15-week-old male tabby kitten got stuck on 19 September at his home in Bolton, Greater Manchester. His owner Heather Shiels said: “I went downstairs and I could hear meowing. I opened the cupboard next to it and realised he was in there. I could only see his backend as his head was stuck in a small hole in the back of the cupboard where the plug for the dishwasher goes. I will never know how he even managed to get his head through, the hole is only about 2 or 3ins wide.” They tried to free him but he was very distressed so they called RSPCA Inspector Angela Paxton-Taylor for help. They lubricated his neck with margarine and oil before contacting the fire service who were able to cut him free after two hours firmly stuck!
17. Snake and chips
An elderly couple were shocked when they went to cook some chips in their oven and were greeted by a 3ft-long snake! They called an RSPCA but the snake was nowhere to be found. Two days later, on 28 September, they went to cook again and the African brown house snake appeared again! Inspector Andy Harris went to the home, in Stockport, Greater Manchester, and found the non-venomous snake. He said: “I managed to coax the snake from the oven and was able to safely get hold of it with specialist equipment and then contain it securely. It must have squeezed through a wall cavity of this couple’s home and there is a hole at the back of the oven where the gas jets come up so was probably attracted by the warmth. It was lucky the couple didn’t pre-heat the oven first.” The 82-year-old resident, who doesn’t want to be named, said: “When I opened the oven door and saw it I got the shock of my life. I have recently had a cataract operation and was wondering if my eyes were deceiving me – but my husband saw it too. We are big animal lovers and just wanted to make sure the snake was safe so we were pleased that he was rescued by the RSPCA. I gave the inspector a big hug and a cup of tea afterwards but I went off the idea of oven chips so sent my husband to the Fish and Chip shop instead!”
18. I’m a hamster, get me out of here!
A hamster who found himself wedged in a tiny pipe for almost a week was freed thanks to an ingenious invention by an RSPCA officer. Jamie was stuck fast after escaping his cage in Bridgwater in Somerset. Animal welfare officer Alison Sparkes was called in to help on 15 November – with a tiny hand-crafted ladder she created especially for Jamie’s rescue! “Jamie was being looking after by a friend of his owner when he escaped and went down a 10cm-wide pipe that housed the water pipes,” she said. “We knew he was ok as they’d been dropping food down and could hear him eating so I went home and cut a 1m-long ladder from some old wire mesh, then went back, fitted it in the pipe and that evening he emerged. Very thirsty, but ok.”
19. Ruff day!
A Welsh bulldog had a ruff day after getting stuck in a back garden between a wall and fence! RSPCA officers Julie Fadden and Ellie West were called to help the stricken pooch on 20 November in Heol Cleddau in Waunarlwydd. The rescue was caught on camera as Roxy was freed and checked for any injuries. Animal collection officer West said: “Poor Roxy was unable to move free – but she was very calm, and seemed remarkably pleased with herself to have got into such a pickle! Thankfully, we were quickly able to get to her, securely pull her from the tight gap, and return her to her very relieved owners.”
20. Butterly crazy!
An RSPCA officer had to think on his feet and use everyday kitchen objects to free a curious cat who got wedged inside a tumble dryer air vent at her home in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, on 6 December! The black and white puss got stuck after crawling inside the 6in-wide pipe. RSPCA animal collection officer Glenn Baird had to use butter to free her. He said: “I put butter inside the pipe using a lolly stick, removed the vent cover with my hammer and pushed her. Luckily, she slid right out!” Thankfully, the cat wasn’t injured and her owners were relieved to have her out.
These are just a handful of the thousands of animals the RSPCA has helped throughout the year. The charity’s inspectors will be working 24/7 across the Christmas period – to help them continue to rescue all sorts of animals in need, support the RSPCA’s campaign Delivering Kindness at Christmas at www.rspca.org.uk/giftofkindness.
When you walk past a homeless person and their dog, do you question or judge their relationship?
86% of people think pets can be just as much a companion as another person, but over 60% judge those who struggle financially and also keep an animal.
New documentary series ‘Home is where their dog is’ sets out to challenge that judgement.
Mayhew animal welfare charity has partnered with internationally acclaimed production company Iconoclast, to challenge public perceptions of homeless pet ownership with a brand new series of short documentary films – which readers can watch below.
“Home is where their dog is” follows the lives of three homeless men and their dogs, and give an unrivalled
insight into the unique supportive bond they share.
A spokesperson for Mayhew said: “We are in the grips of a growing homelessness crisis. Two thirds of Londoners agree that animal welfare issues and social issues are linked – and so do we.
“By showing the life-saving emotional support pet dogs have on a homeless person’s physical and mental well-being, we hope ‘Home is where their dog is’ will inspire support and empathy from the public, and change the way homeless people and their four-legged companions are viewed.”
Man in court for causing unnecessary suffering to puppies
A man has been disqualified from dealing in dogs after 23 were found in poor conditions at a pig farm in North Yorkshire.
James Featon (DoB: 19/01/1968) of Roughaw Road, Skipton was due to stand trial this week at York Magistrates’ Court but, on day one (Thursday 14 December) of the two-day trial, entered guilty pleas to three offences of causing unnecessary suffering to dogs.
RSPCA officers and North Yorkshire Police visited an old pig farm in North Duffield, near Selby, on 7 October last year where two adult dogs and 21 puppies were found living in pig pens.
RSPCA Inspector Alice Cooper, who led the investigation, said: “Some of the puppies were in very poor condition; thin and lethargic with swollen, distended abdomens. Three Jack Russell terrier puppies had collapsed.
“Police seized all of the dogs and we rushed them to the vets where a number of the pups were diagnosed with parvovirus – a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease.
“They were all hospitalised and needed intensive veterinary treatment but, unfortunately, we lost four because they were so incredibly poorly.”
Eighteen dogs – including spaniels, lurchers and crossbreeds – pulled through and were taken in by RSPCA centres while the investigation was ongoing.
Inspector Cooper added: “Our investigations established that Mr Featon was buying in dogs from Ireland and elsewhere in England, and then selling them on to the public.
“However, he was keeping the dogs in disgusting conditions and had categorically failed to provide veterinary care to those that had fallen ill.”
Featon was fined £130, ordered to pay costs of £300 and a victim surcharge of £30 and was disqualified from dealing in dogs meaning he can own dogs as pets but isn’t to be involved in commercial activity involving dogs. The court returned two adult pet lurchers to him.
PC Sarah Ward of North Yorkshire Police said: “I’m very pleased with the result and thankful that we found the puppies when we did, saving them from more suffering. They were kept in cold, damp conditions without their mums and most of them were very ill with a number needing urgent veterinary attention. Sadly, some did not make it.
“We urge members of the public to only ever buy puppies from reputable dog breeders or adopt a rescue dog from a known charity.”
The dogs – which have all been in RSPCA care during the investigation – were signed over this week and can now be rehomed. They will be available after Christmas.
“Unfortunately this sort of thing is something we see all too often at the RSPCA,” Inspector Cooper added. “Breeding and selling puppies is big business and with certain breeds selling for hundreds if not thousands of pounds there are a lot of people trying to cash in.
“Sadly, some sellers like Mr Featon will put profits ahead of the health and welfare of the dogs. This is completely unacceptably.
“We’d urge anyone thinking of getting a dog to consider rescuing from a charity such as the RSPCA. We have thousands of dogs in our centres this Christmas waiting for new homes.”
If like most dog owners, you sometimes have to leave your precious pooch home alone, and would like to find out what they’re up to, this nifty pet tech from Furbo is for you. Or rather, we say, your dog will love the Furbo Dog Camera!
The Furbo Dog Camera lets you tune into your very own ‘channel dog’ to find out if your fur baby is behaving well or is bored when you’re away from him. But, and what’s majorly exciting, is that the Furbo is not principally for you – oh no, it’s for the delight and delectation of your pooch, for it dispenses treats on demand….
Hang on, but won’t said pooch turn into portly pooch? No, because, this gadget is controlled by you via an app on your phone. And you’re a responsible owner. Great, eh?
The Furbo is now compatible with Alexa, ramping up the fun even more!
The HD super-wide image offers a 160-degree view of the room in which you place it. It features night vision and a high quality two-way microphone, so you can hear your dog and your pet can hear you. There is a capacity to hold around 100 small treats, so your dog won’t get bored easily. The Furbo is now also compatible with Alexa, which means it’s voice activated, ramping up the fun up even more.
Furbo can detect your dog’s barks, and will send an automatic push notification to your phone. You can then decide, whether to remotely dispense a treat, speak to your dog, or even sing to him, if that’s his bag!
Mimics Clicker Training
Remarkably, Furbo has been programmed to mimic clicker training, which is something that most dog owners attending dog training classes literally anywhere will have come across. Furbo makes a “clicking” sound before tossing a treat. This helps your dog establish a positive feeling towards Furbo. You can finally play with your dog and reward them remotely.
Cleverly, Furbo uses the colour spectrum that dogs can see – i.e. Yellow and blue. The device’s status indicator changes from yellow to blue to attract your dog’s attention; yellow being sleep mode and blue meaning that the gadget is ready to dispense tasty treats, or hear your voice.
The Furbo looks sleek as well, and will fit in seamlessly with other high-tech gadgets in the home. It’s also sturdy enough to withstand the attentions of the most boisterous dog; so you can rest safely in the knowledge that you won’t arrive home to find it in pieces with its contents strewn all over the floor, or, worse still, in your dog’s distended tummy!
Where can I buy the Furbo Dog Camera?
The Furbo is available online at Furbo and, if you act quickly, there is a substantial discount on the camera, which is currently priced at £129.00 until 23rd December.
This is a Sponsored Post. All views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
Two formerly obese dogs have been named joint pet slimmers of the year in 2018’s PDSA Pet Fit Club competition – after both shedding a quarter of their bodyweight – an incredible 18.8kg (equivalent to a Beagle*)!
Every year vet charity PDSA helps the UK’s fattest pets battle the bulge in a six-month diet and exercise challenge, specially tailored and overseen by its vets and nurses.
Once-obese Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Borris, initially weighed-in at a whopping 28kg(4st 6lb) –85% over his ideal weight (12kg/2st 13lb). After losing 25% of his bodyweight he’s now a trimmer and healthier 20.9kg (3st 4lb) figure.
Borris’ owner Annmarie Formoy (46) admitted that the family had fed him too many treats in the past, but said his loveable nature meant that even complete strangers would give him titbits.
His love of food also led to several mishaps over the years – including once raiding a cupboard full of chocolate Easter eggs, which could have poisoned him. He also once even ate Annmarie’s dad’s false teeth!
But after six months on his Pet Fit Club diet, Borris is like a completely different dog.
“I’m delighted, completely over the moon,” said Annmarie.
“Borris’ weight loss has been amazing. In the past his belly used to be touching the ground and he would refuse to walk. Now he loves his walks – even when it’s raining which he used to hate.
“The best part was the first time that I saw Borris taking his first few running steps, it made me want to cry, I was so happy. He hadn’t run in years!
“It has also helped show me just how bad his life must have been before with carrying around all that extra weight.”
An unexpected side effect of the weight loss has been the change in dynamic with the Formoy’s other pet, cat Charlie.
Annmarie added: “Before, she used to creep up and hit Borris with a paw and he was too fat too fight back. Now she thinks twice about it as he will chase her up the stairs.”
Borris’s weight-loss has been supervised by Louisa Carey, Head Nurse at Margate PDSA Pet Clinic.
Once-lardy Labrador, Sadie, weighed-in at a whopping 42.2kg (6st 9lb)–41% over her ideal weight (30kg/4st 10lb). She’s lost a quarter of her bodyweight, wowing Pet Fit Club judges with her 31.5kg (4st 13lb) figure.
George Chaplin (75), from Grays, Basildon, said back in May that Sadie’s unrelenting appetite and lots for leftovers led to her sumo size.
George said: “PDSA has given us the help we desperately needed to kick start the change, there’s no way I could have done this myself.
“She’s a totally different dog now and is so much happier. Before I would have to pull on her lead to get her on a walk but now she waits for me by the door, and she’s got so much more energy. She loves playing with a ball and toys too, which she wasn’t interested in before.
“We go on two walks a day with a group of dog walkers, at the beginning of her diet she would waddle at the back of the group but now she bounds ahead and that’s great to see.”
But the competition has not been without its struggles. “There’s been times where I have been tempted to give Sadie treats,” says George “but I didn’t and I’m really glad about that now because our determination has paid off!
George is delighted that Sadie has won the competition, but said it was never about winning for him. He is simply thrilled that his much-loved pooch is now healthier and happier.
Sadie’s weight-loss has been supervised by PDSA Vet Nurse Kerry Griffith from the PDSA Pet Hospital in Basildon.
PDSA Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan, who helped to judge the competition, added: “It has been hugely rewarding to see our Pet Fit Club pets’ weight decrease over the last six months thanks to their new diet and fitness regimes. Their success is testament to the hard work of his owners and our PDSA veterinary teams across the UK.
“Pet obesity is a growing issue that affects millions of UK pets. Around 40% of dogs and cats in the UK are estimated to be overweight or obese.”
PDSA Pet Fit Club – The Results
Overall, this year’s Pet Fit Club finalists lost 28.5kg (4st 7lb). Their vital stats:
TOTAL WEIGHT LOST
% WEIGHT LOSS
Since its launch in 2005 Pet Fit Club has helped 85 dogs, 42 cats, 8 rabbits and two rats lose over 75 stone!
Find out more about this year’s pet slimmers and register your interest for next year’s competition at www.pdsa.org.uk/petfitclub.
Borris and Sadie’s owners have won pet-friendly holiday courtesy of Sykes Cottages and a year’s free pet food from Dechra Specific.