It might be a felony, animal advocates say By BILL VARIAN
Published February 20, 2007TAMPA – Participating in the latest marketing campaign from the folks at Checkers could get you charged with animal cruelty in the company’s home county.

As part of its “Rap Cat” campaign, the Tampa operators of drive-through restaurants is asking its patrons to do just that – wrap their cats in one of their to-go bags. The company is providing paper bags fashioned after a basketball jersey, with a No. 15, a mock gold dollar-sign necklace and slots to cut out for the legs and tail of the cat. The head would stick out of the bag’s opening.

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“Instruxions” on the bag encourage customers to submit “pics/vids of your cat keepin’ it real” to a promotional Web site.

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“Caution” the bag reads. “Not all cats will be down with wearing this bag. Do not harm or endanger any cat.”

The disclaimer is hardly good enough, say the folks at Hillsborough County Animal Services.

“We just don’t think that’s an advisable thing,” said Marti Ryan, a spokeswoman for the department that polices for such things as animal cruelty. “Cat scratches can be very injurious. Not to mention having cats perform tricks that they are not prone to do by nature.

“Are they only trying to sell their products to people who don’t like cats?”

Beyond that, Ryan said, forcing a cat into a paper bag could be considered “torment,” meaning it could open people who participate to a felon animal cruelty charge.

“This is not advisable for humans or the animals,” Ryan said. “It’s just not a good thing to do.”

A Checkers executive responded to a news release from the county with a written statement.

“When our Rap Cat commercials began airing last fall, they were an overnight success,” said Richard Turer, senior vice president of marketing for Checkers. “We received dozens of letters from our guests requesting Rap Cat merchandise. Our new Rap Cat Web site, cups and carry out bags are all in response to Rap Cat’s popularity and are intended only as a creative extension of our television campaign.”

Source: St Petersburg Times

“Often we take our opportunities and fortune for granted and focus on what we lack instead. This is tantamount to ignoring all the delicious food in a large buffet and complaining, “There is no spaghetti.” Instead of becoming depressed because we are ill, we can remember that we are also fortunate to have others who help us when we don’t feel well. Even if they don’t help us as much as we would like, they still are there for us, and we would be hard put if they weren’t. Something is always going well in our lives, and it’s important to remember those things that are. ”

Excerpts from Dealing with Emotions by Thubten Chodron

In other news …

February 21, 2007

Tualatin police cite resident for letting dogs loose & kill cat  

By Rick Bella for The Oregon, 20 February 2007

TUALATIN — Police have cited a Tualatin woman, accusing her of failing to control two large dogs that killed a cat while running loose last week.

Julie McCluskey, 32, was cited for two counts of failing to prevent running at large, two counts of failing to prevent acts of nuisance by dogs and keeping a dangerous dog.

Capt. Jeff Groth, Tualatin police spokesman, said McCluskey owns only one of the dogs. However, both dogs were in her custody when the incident occurred.

Groth said police received a report shortly after 12:30 p.m. last Wednesday that two dogs were killing a cat in the 22000 block of Southwest Pinto Drive.

When an officer arrived, the dogs still were with the cat, which already was dead. As the dogs moved though the neighborhood, police remained in their patrol cars in a “rolling containment” maneuver to ensure that the dogs did no other damage.

Police also contacted the department’s school resource officer to make sure no students or school buses would be in the area.

About 45 minutes later, Washington County Animal Services officers were able to capture the dogs.

$5,000 reward for information about cat mutilation

By Lindsey Collom for The Arizona Republic, 20 February 2007

The Arizona Humane Society and Silent Witness are offering up to a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest or indictment in the attempted castration of a feline.

An examination revealed the cat’s genitals were wound with rubber bands, inciting inflammation, infection and severe damage to its bladder and kidneys.

The animal was also emaciated and dehydrated, according to a Humane Society statement issued Tuesday.

Humane society officials said the 2-year-old male cat had to be euthanized.

“We believe that someone carried out this depraved act at least two weeks ago then turned the cat loose,” spokeswoman Angela Stringfellow said. “He suffered horribly before we rescued him. . . . And now, we are committed to finding his abuser(s) and bringing them to justice.”

An emergency animal medical technician found the animal near 32nd Street and Greenway Road after someone reported a cat being hit by a vehicle. Humane society officials do not think the cat’s injuries were accidental.

“It’s common sense that dogs and cats should only be spayed and neutered by a veterinary surgeon who will carry out the procedure under general anesthetic and administer appropriate pain relief and antibiotics,” chief veterinarian Nancy Brandley said. “There is absolutely no excuse for anyone to do something this heinous.”

Humane society officials urge anyone with information to call the Silent Witness at (480) WITNESS. Callers can remain anonymous.

The healing power of animals

February 21, 2007

Straits Times Interactive, Mind Your Body, 21 February 2007

Many animals from dogs and cats to horses and dolphins have played a role in the healing process.

Sigmund Freud, considered by many to be the father of modern psychology, once wrote to a friend of the sympathy his dog Jofi showed him while he was undergoing cancer treatment.It would be of no surprise to Freud that today, animals are used in therapy.

Mr Charlie Ho, the co-founder of Therapy Dogs Singapore, says that ‘dogs can do much more than us to help’.

Indeed, studies are now showing that to be true.

A study conducted in the United States at the University of California, Los Angeles, last year, showed visits by dogs to be more beneficial to patients with heart failure than visits by humans alone.

Patients who were visited by a dog and human showed a 17 per cent drop in epinephrine, a hormone produced by the body when stressed, after a 12-minute visit.

Those visited by a person alone showed only a 2 per cent drop in epinephrine levels after the 12 minutes.

Mr Ho has witnessed beneficial effects first-hand when visiting nursing homes, hospices and schools with volunteers and their dogs.

He tells the story of a lonely and depressed dementia patient who, having experienced business failure and family rejection, refused to talk to anybody.

But once they got the dog to do a few tricks the man started laughing.

Ms Kwok Yee Siang, an executive director at Bethany Methodist Nursing Home, adds that ‘some residents who won’t even talk to the person in the bed next to them will talk to the dogs’.

An unhappy woman at Peacehaven Nursing Home wept one day because she was moved to the common area to meet canine visitors.

But her ‘tears turned to joy’ when a friendly dog licked her face, says Ms Angeline Ng, leader of the Singapore Kennel Club pet therapy team for the Peacehaven Nursing Home.

Dogs aren’t the only animals that can be helpful.

At Riding For The Disabled Association of Singapore (RDA), the elderly and disabled have a chance to ride horses in a safe and secure environment.

Ms Bee Wee, the head instructor, recounts how the first word a mother heard her disabled child speak was the name of the horse: Fraggle.

And while not all riders bond as effectively with their horses, the act of riding the horse imparts benefits.

‘For a kid who can’t write an essay, to control a 2,200kg animal is a huge boost of self-confidence,’ says Ms Kathleen Weidler, a former teacher who’s been volunteering with RDA since September. ‘It’s something even their parents can’t do,’ she adds.

The same effect can be seen in mentally disabled children working with dogs, says Madam Girija Nambier, a volunteer management executive for the Asian Women’s Welfare Association educational services.

Learning how to walk the dogs boosts the child’s self-confidence, she says.

Riding a horse can also be of great help to the physically disabled by improving their core strength, muscle tone, coordination and balance, says Ms Wee.

Mrs Jodi Bonnette, a 48-year-old teacher at the Singapore American School, certainly thinks so. She says her son Zachary, a 12-year-old with Angelman’s Syndrome, a rare neuro-genetic disorder, can walk much better after having done horseback riding for a few years.

‘His posture’s better, as well as his stamina,’ she says.

Although he does physiotherapy a few times a week, she thinks that the RDA ‘has been the best programme for him’.

Learning to ride a horse can also help concentration.

Ms Wee recalls how a hyperactive autistic boy, unable to stay in one place, was sitting still on a horse by the end of the fourth session.

And if nothing else, working with animals makes people happy.

As Mr Ralph Haering, a 29-year-old RDA volunteer, puts it: ‘The children come in nervous and they leave happy.’

E-mail: shelaghm@sph.com.sg

The cat’s out of the bag

February 21, 2007

Straits Times Interactive, Mind Your Body, 21 February 2007

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Six cats under the same roof have provided a family with companionship and brought relief to a sick man. By Shelagh Mahbubani

Most people would think that six cats taken in by a loving family to be getting the better end of the deal.In fact, the Lu family feels that it’s the other way round.

The six cats that live with them have blessed them in more ways than they imaginable, said the Lus.

They are especially thankful of any blessings they have received since Mr Edgar Lu was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 1993.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a disease that causes the death of nerve cells and hence the paralysis of voluntary muscles.

In 2000, Mr Lu, 54 and a former IT consultant, became completely bed ridden.

Three years later, Mr Lu and his wife Gina got their first cat, Gandalf.

Though they bought Gandalf to help their son Kevin, who was going through depression, they found that having a cat helped everybody.

The cats also help Mr Lu deal with his condition.

He is unable to move, except to smile and speak in a voice incomprehensible to everyone but those who know him. He has to be constantly under watch, as there’s a risk of him choking on his saliva.

‘Prior to the arrival of the cats, he was more focused on his own problems,’ said his wife, Mrs Lu, 47, a systems analyst.

Now, Mr Lu can watch the cats while he lies on the bed placed in the living room.

It’s very comforting to have them lie on the bed, he said through his wife’s translation.

Aside from providing emotional comfort, they even help to reduce his physical pain.

A cat lying on his hip can be more effective at relieving the pain than a hot water bottle, said the Lus.

The cats have also helped the whole family bond in a way that they couldn’t previously.

Mrs Lu said that because of her husband’s illness the family wasn’t able to spend as much time together as they wanted.

As the two sons grew older, they had less in common to talk about.

‘The cats indirectly serve as a link for the family,’ said Kevin, 20, a student at LaSalle-SIA College of the Arts.

Perhaps most important of all, the cats have helped the rest of the family get through hard times.

They really are, in their own way, members of the family.

Having Gandalf around helped Kevin get out of his depression, which hit him just around his O levels.

Gandalf is like a pal to her son, said Mrs Lu.

Kevin prefers to call Gandalf ‘an animal version of a soulmate’.

‘We understand each other,’ he added.

Both mother and son say the cats understand orders.

‘It’s uncanny,’ said Mrs Lu. For example, they will go into a room if she asks them to.

And whenever they are asked to do something they don’t like, the cats will respond with an indignant look.

And while one would think that keeping six cats in the house would create a mess, Mrs Lu said the opposite is true.

‘They’re very clean and well behaved,’ she added.

All they need is for fresh water and food to be left around the house and their litter boxes cleaned. That’s not much to ask.

This new movement gives new meaning to the term “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

The term freegan is derived from the words “free” & “vegan”.  Freegans are not just vegans but they are against the corruption of capitalism of the economy. 

They prefer scavenge for food in dumpsters than to dine in a restaurant.

Read the article here.

Once upon a time, the King had a gardener who looked after his garden.  Animals from the nearby forest sometimes came into the garden.  The gardener complained about this to the king who said, “If you see any strange animals, tell me at once.”

One day, he saw a wind-deer.  Wind deers run like the wind but they are extremely timid and are very easily frightened by humans.

The gardener told the king about the wind-deer.  The king asked if the gardender could catch the rare animal.  He replied, “My lord, if you give me some honey, I could even bring him into the palace!”  So the king gave him as much honey as he wanted.

This particular wind-deer loved to eat the flowers & fruits in the king’s garden.  So the gardener smeared honey on the grass where the wind-deer usually came to eat.  Sure enough, the wind-deer began eating the honey-smeared grass.  Soon, it developed a craving for the taste of this ‘honey-grass’ that it would come to the garden to eat nothing else but the honey-grass!

Little by little, the gardener came closer to the wind-deer.  At first, it would run away.  But eventually, it lost its fear & came to think of the gardener as harmless.  He soon had the wind-deer eating the honey-grass out of his hands.

Meanwhile, the gardener had rows of curtains set up, making a wide pathway from the far end of the garden to the palace.  From inside this pathway, the curtains would keep the wind-deer from seeing any humans.

When all was prepared, the gardener took a bag of grass & a container of honey with him.  He began hand-feeding the wind-deer.  Gradually, he led the wind-deer into the curtained-off pathway.  The wind-deer followed him right into the palace.  Once inside, the palace guards closed the doors & the wind-deer was trapped.  When it saw the people of the court, it became very frightened & began running around, madly trying to escape.

When the king saw the panic-stricken wind-deer, he said, “What a wind-deer!  How could he have gotten into such a state?  My friends, how dangerous is the simple craving for a sweet flavour, or any other taste sensation.  See how this beautiful shy animal was trapped by my gardener who took advantage of its craving for taste.”

Not wishing to harm the gentle wind-deer, the king released it into the forest.  It never returned to the garden & it never missed the taste of the honey-grass.

The moral is: “It is better to eat to live, than to live to eat.”

A group of NUS students who have to complete a survey report as part of the fulfilment of one of the modules – Professional Communication.

For the survey report, they are gathering feedback on legalising the keeping of cats in HDB.

Our comments in the completing the questionnaire can help to influence the current HDB’s policy.

Please click here for more information & here to complete the questionnaire.

GUANGZHOU, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) — South China’s Guangdong Province, the first to report fatal SARS cases in late 2002, has enhanced surveillance on civet cats, found by scientists to be a major source of the SARS virus, to prevent possible outbreaks in spring.    

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The province mobilized nearly 7,000 health inspectors in the past month and examined 10,000 restaurants for civet cats, said the Guangdong Provincial Health Department.A live civet cat and several frozen ones were confiscated and 18 restaurants were fined in the latest campaign across the province, said Huang Fei, deputy director of the department.

A restaurant in Shunde, Foshan City was fined 30,000 yuan (3,800 U.S. dollars) for buying civet cats.

The province banned raising, selling, killing and eating of civet cats in January 2004.

But “the health departments have received increasing reports of illegal trade in civet cats since November,” said Huang.

During the campaign, restaurants were required to make a written commitment on no trading of banned wild animals like civet cats.

Those who fail to keep the commitment will get their licenses revoked.

“The possibility of a SARS outbreak still exists in Guangdong in spring,” said Luo Huiming, an official with the Guangdong Disease Control and Prevention Center.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, first broke out in Guangdong in November 2002 and spread to 24 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities on the Chinese mainland.

The outbreak caused alarm around the world, with infected cases reported in 32 nations and regions. The disease claimed more than 700 lives worldwide, including at least 349 on the Chinese mainland.

Source: China View

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We wish everyone plentiful joy & excellent health.  But of course, less sumo wrestling unless you are one of us 🙂

Happy Lunar New Year!