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Rescue dog’s journey from stray to saviour

Article by James Gallagher, Health and science reporter, BBC News website:

dog

Katie’s start was as rough as they get. She spent a year as a stray in the Irish countryside and was seriously emaciated by the time she was rescued.

But now Katie is making a huge difference to people recovering from injuries in hospital.

They get better faster, out of hospital sooner and are less likely to need social care, according to the team at Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust in London.

So how is she doing it? And should every hospital have a pet pooch?

The first thing you notice is Katie is like a glamorous celebrity.

When she walks on to the ward at St Michael’s Primary Care Centre in London, the patients only have eyes for her.

Everyone here is having occupational and physiotherapy to help them deal with fractures, surgery, early stages of dementia or multiple sclerosis.

The sessions are aimed at increasing their range of movement – how far they can walk, how many steps they can make, how far they can reach.

KathleenKathleen is being helped to get back on her feet after breaking three bones

Kathleen Edwards is a charismatic 92-and-a-half-year-old with nerve damage and numbness in her feet.

She tripped and broke three bones. “I didn’t enjoy myself at all,” she told me.

When she’s not craftily sneaking mints to Katie – “she loves them” – Kathleen’s sessions are aimed at getting her on her feet again.

She said: “I just did some walking, and she [Katie] walked with me, she makes me feel quite happy, it’s just fun.

“She’s a beauty she really is, I just love her, we never had dogs, and she makes you feel ‘Aah.’

“I shall want to take her home.”

MartinMartin Ross strokes and brushes Katie to help his stroke recovery

Katie has a similar effect on Martin Ross, 58, who is regaining movement after a stroke.

His sessions are aimed at arm movement and reaching down, which will eventually help with putting on socks and shoes.

His sessions involve stroking and brushing Katie.

He said other recovery clinics were “more like work, and this isn’t as you’re actually enjoying yourself”.

He said: “I was stretching a lot more and not even realising what I was doing and just enjoying time with the dog.

“Spending time with Katie makes you happy.”

Kathleen and Martin illustrate the two main benefits Katie brings – she makes people happy, more social and makes them push themselves further.

Kavita Shastri, Sarah Hodges and Marianne Welsh with Katie the dogKatie is helping occupational therapists help their patients

Marianne Welsh, senior occupational therapist, said: “It’s lovely, we see a lot of physical improvements, but also you can see she lifts the mood.

“Rehab is hard for our patients, they’ve got pain and often anxieties about not being at home or they’re fearful for the future.

“She enables them to progress without realising, so they’ll spend more time reaching forward, bending down further, mobilising further because they’re focused on Katie.”

And this is important – recovering the movements that let them get washed, dressed, out of bed or go to the toilet allows people to live independently.

“That helps us reduce the referrals to social services for care,” said Marianne, who is also Katie’s owner.

Katie had needed a lot of tender loving care herself after she had first been rescued, but had also been a “very adoptable dog”, Marianne said.

And she had immediately thought Katie had the temperament to train for Pets as Therapy.

It’s a long journey from being a stray in Ireland and “when the patients hear her history, there’s a bit of an affinity there”, Marianne added.

Proof?

The personal experience of the medical staff suggests Katie is helping.

“Pet-assisted therapy has made a huge difference in trying to get patients out of hospital,” said Kavita Shastri, a senior physical therapist.

The clinic has been interviewing patients, and their answers also suggest having Katie around is boosting their recovery.

But what is still lacking is concrete scientific proof.

Kavita told me: “It’s unfortunate that the research around this is not that huge.

“Unfortunately in the UK there’s not a lot of randomised clinical trials and specific research to objectify this and I think that’s what’s really required.”

But at St Michael’s Primary Care Centre at least, they’re all convinced dogs could have a big role in NHS care.

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39383868

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Cat and eight kittens found dumped in a suitcase

Article by RSPCA teams, 14th March 2017:

We are investigating after a cat and her eight kittens were found abandoned inside a zipped-up suitcase on a disused railway line in Essex.

The black and white cat, now named Tarini, and her five week-old babies were discovered by a passing dog walker in a remote spot between Great Yeldham and Castle Hedingham in Halstead, Essex on Tuesday, 7 March. They were inside a navy blue case with a Polo logo.

We were called and rescued Tarini and her kittens, after the passer by picked up the case and took them home for safety.

It was pure chance they were found

RSPCA Animal Collections Officer (ACO) Donna Smith said:

It was pure chance that this woman happened to find these little kittens and their mum.

She was walking along the disused rail track when she wandered past a dumped suitcase, not thinking anything of it until her dog stopped and started sniffing it.

She took a closer look and heard tiny miaows coming from the case, so opened the zip a tiny bit – and was shocked to discover nine pairs of eyes peering back.

The mother cat and eight kittens had been just zipped up in the case and discarded. Who knows how long they had been there – it must have been terrifying for them. It would not have ended well had this kindly woman not come to their rescue – I have no doubt they would have suffered for days.

Tarini is recovering well with her kittens

Blue suitcase cat and kittens were found in © RSPCA

We’re urging anyone with any information about how the cats came to be in such a secluded spot to call us, in complete confidence, on 0300 123 8018.

The cats are now in our care. They were all very thin, and looked to not have had much food for a while. Tarini had to be put on a drip, and received intensive care at the vets as she was also very dehydrated. She’s since recovered well and is back at an Essex centre with her kittens.

The kittens have all been named after characters from Disney film The Aristocats:

  • Toulouse (male, tabby/white),
  • Tiny Tim (male black/white),
  • Scat Cat (male, tabby),
  • Berloiz (male, black),
  • Alli (male tabby),
  • Duchess (female tabby),
  • Marie (female, black),
  • Eve (female tabby).

It’s hoped they will soon be available for rehoming. Anyone interested in rehoming them, or any other cats in our care, should keep an eye out on find a pet.

Article taken from: https://www.rspca.org.uk/whatwedo/latest/details/-/articleName/2017_03_14_cat_and_kittens_found

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Scottish Natural Heritage review fails to consider a ban on snaring

The League Against Cruel Sports Scotland and OneKind are urging the Scottish Government to consider and consult on a ban on snares following a review of snaring in Scotland.

The findings of the review, commissioned by the Scottish Government and carried out by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), were published today (Tuesday). The charities have branded the findings “a wasted opportunity”, and have criticised the limited scope of the review. In 2010, during the passage of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act, MSPs voted for a regulatory regime for snare use in Scotland rather than an outright ban, but made provisions for a review to be carried out by December 2016.

SNH was tasked with examining the impact of the regulations and has published its findings. The report has found that snaring related incidents have reduced and made a number of recommendations for further small changes to the way which snares are regulated.

The limited remit of the review meant consideration of a ban on snaring was not included in the research, which both the League Scotland and OneKind say was a flaw from the offset. Both charities want to see snaring banned in Scotland on animal welfare and ethical grounds.

Robbie Marsland, Director of the League Against Cruel Sports, Scotland said: “Since the snaring regulations were introduced over five years ago animals have continued to endure needless suffering as a result of cruel and indiscriminate traps. This review was never going to resolve the problem, it was, sadly, a wasted opportunity.  Regulations are not a workable solution for something as crude and barbaric as a snare. In short, you can’t regulate cruelty.

“We have long argued that a ban is the only way to eradicate the problems associated with snaring. We will now step up our campaign to convince the Scottish Government to take the common sense approach and ban the manufacture, sale, possession and use of all snares once and for all.”

The League Scotland and OneKind have been critical of SNH’s approach to animal welfare which both charities say has been overlooked in the review process.

Harry Huyton, Director of OneKind added: “The review was an opportunity to assess whether the new snaring regulations had ended the suffering and indiscriminate capture caused by snares.  Yet it was destined to fail from day one due to a bizarre and inadequate remit which specifically excluded considering whether snares have a place at all in a modern Scotland. This, in spite of the fact that they are banned throughout most of Europe. By focusing on illegal snaring and ignoring the bigger question – whether the use of snares is justified in the first place, given the suffering they cause – this review fails to advance the debate.

“We are hugely disappointed that SNH has sought welfare advice on the use of snares from pro-snaring organisations such as the Scottish Gamekeepers Association and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation rather than independent expert evidence to assess whether the aspirations of the Scottish Parliament are being met. We remain convinced that the legislation has not been sufficient to prevent severe animal suffering and will continue to campaign for a complete ban.”

The League Against Cruel Sports Scotland and OneKind have worked together for almost a decade to expose the cruelty of snare use in Scotland developing considerable knowledge and expertise regarding the welfare of wild animals and impact of these primitive, indiscriminate traps over this time.

Mark Ruskell MSP, Environment spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said:

“This review does nothing other than maintain outdated and inhumane traditions. We need to be moving from a regulatory regime to an outright ban in the interests of animal welfare.

“Today’s response from Scottish Ministers appears to be yet another decision where they have listening more to organisations that want to persecute animals than those who have their welfare at heart.”

Alison Johnstone MSP, vice-convener of Holyrood’s cross-party group on animal welfare, said:

“Snaring causes indiscriminate killing and is hard to monitor. Banning it outright would mean no need for this flawed and barbaric practice. Scottish Ministers must rethink their response.”

Scottish Labour’s spokesperson for Animal Welfare and Environment Claudia Beamish MSP said:

“Scottish Labour called for a consultation on an outright ban on snaring in our Manifesto, because we believe you cannot regulate cruelty to animals.

“The SNP Government’s review was flawed from the start. SNP ministers should have been consulting on an outright ban, not tinkering at the edges on what sort of snares can and can’t be used and how to regulate use. That completely misses the point.”

Article taken from: https://www.league.org.uk/news/scottish-natural-heritage-review-fails-to-consider-a-ban-on-snaring

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Animal Abusers get reprieve as anonymous MP ‘objects’ to progress

Article by Tom Sheppard, League Against Cruel Sports, 28th February 2017:

On Friday, February 24th, there were two pieces of legislation due to be debated in the Commons: Animal Fighting (Sentencing) Bill and Animal Cruelty (Sentencing) Bill. Each had differences, but their essential aims were the same: increase the penalties available to courts for animal cruelty offences.

England and Wales currently have the lowest penalties in Europe for such offences. So it’s difficult to imagine an objection to increasing these penalties.

Some background explanation is important here: on Fridays, Parliament debates legislation introduced by MPs who are not part of the government – i.e. backbench MPs. Parliament sits for about five hours. If any legislation has not had a vote taken in that time, it goes to the back of the queue for debate, effectively meaning it will never be debated. If a bill has not been debated, it could still progress – unless one or more MPs raises an objection. The reasons for objecting could be simple or complicated, relating to the content of the bill – but any objecting MP does not have to explain. They simply have to ‘object’, and the bill does not progress.

Back to last Friday. Two bills had already been debated, and Parliament had run out of time for a debate. So, it came to the animal cruelty bills:

  • “Animal Fighting (Sentencing) Bill”, went the announcement
  • “Object”, came the response

And again for the next bill:

  • “Animal Cruelty (Sentencing) Bill”
  • “Object”

That was all it took. The objection came from the backbenches, a lone voice who decided that the bill should progress no further. Here was legislation which has the support of MPs from all parties. It is supported by not only the League, but also the RSPCA, the Dog’s Trust, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and the Blue Cross. A Minister from Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has acknowledged that courts say sentences available for dog fighting aren’t strong enough. The cross-party Commons Environment Committee has said that sentences aren’t strong enough.

And now animal abusers will continue to get away with their crimes. In Northern Ireland, when the smirking perpetrators of horrific acts of animal cruelty walked out of court, it sparked the Northern Ireland Executive to strengthen sentences to five years.

Anna Turley, Labour MP for Redcar in North Yorkshire, was moved to begin a campaign on this following an appalling case of animal abuse in her constituency. How many people, like in those cases, are getting away with a slap on the wrist for terrible crimes?

On Friday morning, the League held a photo-op at Westminster with explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and TOWIE star Chloe Meadows. But the real celebrity there that morning was Cupcake, a Staffordshire bull terrier rescued from dog fighting. Cupcake politely posed for pictures and took the affection of everyone there.

“Object”.

That was all it took for the bill to go no further, but it does not mark the end of the battle for tougher sentences. We don’t know who shouted it, but, unlike Laurence J Peters, we are not looking to attribute blame. Instead, we are beginning a battle – for Cupcake. Vulnerable animals like Cupcake cannot seek justice for themselves, so we do it for them. And we will not stop until we secure that justice.

Article taken from: https://www.league.org.uk/blog/animal-abusers-get-reprieve-as-anonymous-mp-objects-to-progress