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Tiger With an Injured Paw Gets an Upgrade

Lea Lomas

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Wherever crushing poverty and rare, endangered animals are in close proximity- you’re going to get poachers. In Chandrapur India, the perfect conditions for a thriving poaching trade exist within the local black market. Increasingly, rare Bengal tigers are being decimated by the poaching industry. The result is an ugly underground meat market that is patronized by unscrupulous, rich and powerful people all over the world who are willing to pay top cash for the beautiful fur, claws, teeth, eyes, and organs, of a Bengal tiger- and sometimes even a living tiger.

In 2012 the seven-year old Bengal, Sahebrao, was rescued and taken into the care of the Wildlife Rescue Center. For a tiger living in the wild, seven is a ripe old age. So Sahebrao came with a number of health conditions that went unnoticed until they manifested.

Sahebrao developed arthritis and had a number of surgeries to replace joints and repair ligaments. During the course of these surgeries, Sahebrao’s doctors noticed an enormous number of scars all over the animal’s body. A number of the scars were easily attributable to confrontations with other animals such as wild boars, snakes, and other big cats. But a handful were clear indicators that Sahebrao had fought poachers on a number of occasions and apparently emerged victorious since he was found still living in the wild.

However, even the mightiest creatures cannot resist the ravages of time. Sahebrao’s injuries had taken a serious toll on him, and in his old age- his resistance to disease had been badly diminished.

During one of his later surgeries, Sahebrao’s doctors found that an abrasion on his foot had become gangrenous and would need to be amputated. With their long experience caring for animals in the region, Sahebrao’s doctors knew that removing a foot would lead to a sedentary life that would almost certainly degrade the tiger’s health and mental state very rapidly.

So they decided to equip Sahebrao with an experimental prosthetic foot. The foot was designed by researchers at MIT to provide a cat like Sahebrao with the ability to remain properly upright during his waking hours. The prosthetic, like those fitted to the famous South African runner, Oscar Pistorius- would flex under Sahebrao’s weight, and spring back- giving him the benefit of supporting his gait in a nearly natural way.

Dr. Babhulkar told The Indian Express “I wish to see him up and walking normally, like a human with a prosthetic leg, for the rest of his life.”

The leg has taken some getting used to for Sahebrao. He will never be as powerful as he once was, due to age, his many previous injuries, and the surgery. While the leg attached to the prosthetic was healing, Sahebrao had to be kept under partial sedation so that he would not attempt to stand on his new foot before it was fully bonded to the bone.

Today, Sahebrao is able to move freely around within his sanctuary as well as can be expected for a 14 year old tiger with a history like his. He is much healthier and freer than any tiger his age could possibly be in the wild- outside of extreme and exceptional circumstances.

Visitors can observe Sahebrao through a one-way glass. But it has been observed that tigers do not enjoy being viewed from a confined space. They find it inherently threatening. For the most part, Sahebrao is kept away from the public to allow him to live out his latter years in comfort.

Researchers will continue to observe Sahebrao’s condition to collect data on animal prosthetics for use in similar projects.

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Animals

Who Rescued Who?

Mackenzie Freeman

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Susan Luong first discovered the power of dogs helping a patient heal, as a young child, when she was treated, in the hospital, for juvenile polymyositis. After volunteering her time at various shelters, Susan came to understand the challenges that exist with dogs who are left behind due to medical or behavioral issues. Susan’s time at the shelter taught her about patience, care, and training behavioral issues out of dogs to make them more adoptable. Her time at the shelters also fueled her desire to rescue dogs with medical, or behavioral issues–especially corgis.

Susan and her husband eventually adopted a corgi of their very own. The seller failed to tell them the corgi they adopted was not as advertised. Told the dog they were adopting was a 2-year-old corgi with no health issues, they later discovered the dog they adopted was almost a senior citizen! In addition, the dog they adopted, Oliver, was far from healthy, with a cost of nearly $2,000 for just his medical issues alone! In addition to his medical concerns, Oliver had aggression issues with Susan and her husband, other dogs, and strangers, too! Friends and family tried talking Susan and her husband into giving Oliver up, but instead, they upped their training.

Eva came to them almost two years later with similar behavior issues. Like Oliver, Susan and her husband trained Eva until they eliminated all of her aggressive behaviors. Amazingly, they trained both dogs so well, they each obtained an American Kennel Good Citizenship Award! Having successfully rehabilitated both Oliver and Eva, Susan founded Queen’s Best Stumpy Dog Rescue (QBSDR), a non-profit focused on rehabilitating corgis. Each dog that comes to the shelter is tested against her own dogs to determine its temperament. The results of that test become the foundation for each corgi’s personalized training to make the dogs more adoptable.

Adoption events, monthly hikes, community events, and even a special beach day just for corgis are sponsored by Queen’s Best Stumpy Dog Rescue. Corgi Beach Day is one of two annual events designed to educate prospective adoptees about corgis and the potential health or behavioral ailments that may occur down the road. Approximately 800 corgis hit the beach running at each of their two Corgi Beach Days — one for Northern California, and one for Southern California. Anyone wanting to adopt one of the corgis must go through a very-detailed five-part process: complete an application with as much detail as possible; answer any additional questions that QBSDR has about the application; submit to a home inspection designed to ensure no safety issues exist; come to the QBSDR facility with current pets and all household family members; and, once approved, receive whichever adoptable corgi that QBSDR feels will best suit the corgi’s needs, and the people’s personalities and lifestyles. This level of detail is very important to ensure the best possible fit between the corgi and its forever parents.

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California Sets the Pace on Store-Bought Puppies from Mills

Mackenzie Freeman

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Imagine you had your heart set on an adorable new puppy you spotted at your local pet store. They give you those charming eyes and irresistible body movements that win you over, except no matter how set you are on ‘buying’ a new dog, you need its history and background. Every pet store has to provide the origins of the pup, their breed mix, and any additional facts and information about the dog.

Full disclosure is now becoming mandatory for pet shop owners when selling any puppies that have not been born or bred in puppy mills. California is setting the pace for this practice, and hopefully more states will follow the mandatory law. When Governor Brown was still in office in 2017 he signed a bill to prevent the practice of acquiring new pups from inhumane situations be sold at their stores. The law went into effect in October of this year, 2019.

What are the details?

The large-scale operations where most of the pet store puppies arrive from are less than humane. For instance, conditions at most puppy mills are so unsanitary that dogs sit in cramped cages, their treatment is borderline abusive, and its sad. Most breeders are concerned about one thing: profit. They push out dog after dog in an effort to increase their bottom line, only to have the original mother of the pups overwhelmed and possibly contracting illnesses. 

Every breeder is different. Oftentimes, their intentions to sell high quality dogs to people are sound and true, yet once they decide to attract the pet store owners with the “reject” puppies, the pet shop receives the undesirables and tries to sell them at top dollar. Instead of placing the extra or unwanted pups in a shelter, the breeders go straight to the pet stores.

Well, all of that is changing in California. No longer will one of the estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the United States be able to sell to pet shop owners. The ban is now in effect. Every dog, cat, rabbit, or other exotic animal sold in pet stores must be obtained from shelters or rescue organizations.

It’s a giant step forward for animal activist groups, who have been pushing for this measure for several years. The Humane Society, PETA, and the national ASPCA support the bill and its verbiage. Banning breeders is not without controversy however, as the Pet Industry Advisory Council (who opposes the bill) feels it may put several breeders out of business altogether. Their worry is how the new legislation may put well-intended breeders in an evil light, also claiming the bill removes consumer protections.

Where do we go from here?

Since California tends to set the tone for many environmental causes and issues people mostly care about, the new law has pros and cons for all concerned. If there are responsible and humane private breeders willing to comply, they’re also able to continue selling puppies to private citizens desirous of a healthy breed and who doesn’t believe the price tag is over their budget.

A direct sale of puppies to pet stores isn’t in the offing anymore, and those breeders who have amassed a multi-dimensional business have to go elsewhere to direct their sales. California is the first state to enact this law, however more states are beginning to follow suit. Eliminating puppy mills within its borders is a celebration for shelters and rescue organizations as well. 

If the trend continues, no longer will puppies have to sit for days on end in awful conditions. They are saved!

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Animals

Popular Mini Horse Cheers Up Children at Local Children’s Hospital in Michigan

Leslie Tander

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Nobody enjoys being in the inpatient unit of a hospital and for children, this experience can be downright scary. Fortunately, there are lots of volunteers who donate their time to help children make this experience just a little bit easier. Some volunteers dress up in costumes to help children who are having a rough time. Others might show up bearing gifts that can help children get through their stay. Other volunteers play musical instruments, trying to cheer up the kids. Sometimes, help comes in the form of a popular animal. Kids love animals and Fred the Mini Horse is one of the most popular guests at the local Michigan Children’s Hospital.

Horseback riding is a great activity both recreationally and competitively; however, even being around a horse can place a smile on someone’s face. This is what happened from Fred the Mini Horse showed up at the local Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fred the Mini Horse was instantly the star of the show when he arrived. This tiny horse belongs to an organization called Little Horses Big Smiles. This is a nonprofit organization that operates out of Fremont, MI. This organization is dedicated to training and providing mini horses for a variety of purposes. In this case, Fred the Mini Horse is training to be a dedicated service animal who can help people all over the pace. Fred the Mini Horse did exactly that when he made his way around the floors of the local children’s hospital. The nonprofit organization has already spent a lot of time with the children’s hospital, knowing that there are lots of patients there who could use a little bit of extra love and attention. It turns out the animals from this organization, such as Fred the Mini Horse, make appearances about once per month. Those who work at the nonprofit also love their work. They say there is nothing better than putting a smile on the faces of children who need it most. Fred the Mini Horse is happy to provide this opportunity.

Fred the adorable Mini Horse makes his way around the floors in a great costume. He wears shoes over his hooves in an effort to protect the floors from harm. In addition, Fred the Mini Horse also wears a vest that clearly marks him as a therapy animal. Fred the Mini Horse is about 14 months old, which is about the same age as many of the children he sees at the hospital. Parents and children from all over the hospital echoed these sentiments, knowing that Fred provides an opportunity for kids to put their illnesses on the backburner for just a few minutes as they interact with the loving animals. Even the parents enjoyed meeting Fred the Mini Horse. The parents go through a difficult time in the hospital as well. The opportunity to leave the room and be interactive is a welcome break for many families.

In addition to the children’s hospital in Grand Rapids, Fred the Mini Horse also makes visits to other local children’s hospitals in the surrounding area. There are lots of children who are going through a hard time and could use a lift. This is the goal of Fred and the other animals at this local nonprofit. In the future, other animals might also visit the hospital as well. This isn’t just a welcome break for the children. The hospital staff often interact with the animals as well, looking for a quick break from their demanding jobs.

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