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  • 19 Dec 2014 4:31 PM | Deleted user
    In the Dutch town of Vught, Federal Minister of Agriculture Christian Schmidt, his Dutch counterpart Sharon Dijksma and the Danish Minister of Agriculture Dan Jørgensen signed a declaration to this effect today. "The goal that unites us is to take animal welfare forward in the EU. We will pool our resources and work even closer together in the future to improve animal welfare", Mr. Schmidt said at the signing ceremony of the Declaration. Minister Schmidt campaigned for the widest possible support and invited more Member States to join the Declaratio

    Mr. Schmidt had already stated that animal welfare must not stop at national borders at the launch of the animal welfare initiative Minding animals - new ways to improve animal welfare: "There is an intensive exchange of livestock and animal products within the European Union. Many issues, such as the illegal trade in dog puppies, can be better solved at EU level than by purely national measures. My goal is to make high animal welfare standards the European trade mark. Animal welfare should also be an integral part of trade agreements and be taken into account by the WTO as a trade concern", said Schmidt.

    With Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, three of the leading European countries in animal production have joined together. In the Declaration the countries agree to henceforth work closer together at different levels to jointly improve animal welfare, namely with regard to animal welfare research, the improvement of husbandry systems and the exchange of best practice examples. The new alliance holds the view that the current animal welfare legislation of the European Union applicable to the husbandry, transport and slaughter of animals must be enforced in a stricter and more harmonised manner. The Declaration states: "The European Union must continue to put animal welfare at the forefront and it should actively develop greater awareness of the welfare of animals also at international level."

    In this Declaration, the countries welcome the measures the European Commission announced in its European Union Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012-2015. At the same time they call upon the Commission to go ahead with the promised examination into whether the EU statutory framework for animal welfare can be simplified, while ensuring that the simplification of the existing EU legislative framework does not result in a deterioration in the EU's animal welfare record. They also demand to review existing standards with respect to new scientific evidence and adjust them accordingly. Mr Schmidt also explained: "This applies, for example, to ending non-curative interventions on animals or to limiting the transport of slaughter animals. We think that travelling times for slaughter animals should in principle be limited to eight hours."

    Full story here:

  • 19 Dec 2014 4:29 PM | Deleted user
    In the last week, new outbreaks of avian flu have been reported in Germany, Italy, Canada, the US and Japan.

    In the last week, bird flu has returned to Germany. A turkey farm in Lower Saxony was affected, with the loss of almost 18,000 birds. The H5N8 virus has been confirmed, the same as previous outbreaks in another state, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

    The disease has also hit Italy for the first time. Again, the H5N8 subtype of the virus was responsible and turkeys were affected, this time almost 32,000 in the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy.

    The H5N8 virus has also been detected in wild birds in Japan, and 4,000 birds have been destroyed following an outbreak in the main poultry-producing area of the country, Miyazaki.

    In Canada, a further two outbreaks of the H5N2 variant have been confirmed, all in the same area of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, affecting 53,000 laying birds.

    And in the US, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) of the H5N2 and H5N8 variants has been detected and confirmed in Washington state.

    Full Story here:

  • 12 Dec 2014 4:24 PM | Deleted user
    With the holiday travel season in full swing, it's a good time to consider expert advice on how best to manage your itinerary. After all, Thanksgiving through New Year's spans some of the busiest days of the year for commercial flying in the United States.

    But for those whose family includes furry members, it's also a good time to consider whether four-legged loved ones should fly at all. It's an issue that has been back in the news in recent weeks, after passenger Frank Romano's dog was lost by Delta Air Lines in Los Angeles on Halloween, allegedly after chewing through a plastic kennel.

    Can some animals travel safely, either in the cabin or the belly of an aircraft? Yes. But it's a more complex issue than many pet owners realize, so a little research can be critical.

    Since I last addressed this issue here in 2009 with "What you need to know about flying with pets," there has been an increase in guidance from animal care experts. There also has been additional evidence of the dangers, with more robust government statistics on animals that have been lost, injured or killed while in the care of U.S. airlines.

    Some pets should not be flying at all -- ever. The American Humane Association advises: "As a general rule, puppies and kittens, sick animals, animals in heat and frail or pregnant animals should not travel by air." Furthermore, the Humane Society of the United States warns "air travel is particularly dangerous for animals with 'pushed-in' faces," such as bulldogs, pugs and Persian cats; some airlines will not accept them.

    In addition, during this holiday season, some regions of the United States will be too cold for pet travel, while other regions will be too hot, making the booking process quite difficult. Minimum and maximum temperature guidelines apply, and they also apply to connecting cities along the way. Last year I assisted some family members who relocated to Central America by shipping their dog to them; although it was a crisp fall day in Newark and not particularly hot at the destination, the airline refused to board the dog because the temperature was soaring in Miami, the connecting hub.

    In fact, there are so many dangers, concerns and nuances involved in flying with pets, three entire columns could be devoted to offering specific advice. So for detailed guidance, consider the experts who created these pages:

    • The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Air Travel Tips
    • The Humane Society's Travel Safely
    • The American Humane Association's Traveling
    • The American Veterinary Medical Association's Traveling with Your Pet

    All four of these organizations also provide advice for those who travel by alternate modes, such as car, bus, train and ship.

    It's important to note pet travel policies usually don't apply to service animals, and exceptions may apply for U.S. military and State Department personnel.

    Learning the rules

    First things first: Before you query individual airline policies, you need to review governmental restrictions. The U.S. Department of Transportation provides guidelines on Transporting Live Animals for both owners and shippers at its site. In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration features a Flying with Pets page; it includes critical information on security screening and rules for pets in the passenger cabin.

    For those traveling with pets in foreign countries -- or importing or exporting pets -- there are specific requirements, detailed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For a rundown on foreign rules, country-by-country regulations are provided by the industry's global trade organization, the International Air Transport Association.

    Once you've addressed all these issues, you'll need to learn the specific policies of the carrier you'll be booking, since they do vary. (So do the perks, such as frequent-flier mileage for four-legged friends.) Each airline has its own rules on which animals it will and will not carry, specific regulations for cabin and belly travel and policies on containers. Of course, in this golden age of airline "ancillary revenue," fees can vary for such services.

    Here are links to more information from the largest domestic carriers:

    US Airways*
    Virgin America

    * In this age of airline consolidation, it's worth noting American specifically states its merger partner US Airways has "different policies on pet travel."

    Grading the airlines

    So how do these domestic airlines perform when it comes to handling your furry fellow travelers? Thankfully, for nearly ten years now U.S. carriers are required to report all incidents to the DOT, and those reports are viewable to the public, though some animal lovers may find them tough reading.

    Although the DOT has been posting such records since May 2005, in the early years it did not summarize the annual findings as it does with all other airline performance categories, such as flight delays and consumer complaints. Currently the annual totals are summarized, and here is how the airlines stacked up in 2013:

    Alaska 0 11 8 19
    American 1 0 1 2
    Delta 0 3 2 5
    Hawaiian 1 0 1 2
    Horizon* 0 1 0 1
    United 4 0 9 13
    TOTAL 6 15 21 42
    * Operates on behalf of Alaska, American and Delta

    U.S. airlines not listed did not report any anomalies last year. However, what remains unclear is the total number of animals carried by each of the airlines, so consumers can't analyze these statistics on a proportional basis. But since the totals for Alaska and United are so significantly higher than for all other domestic airlines, it can be instructional to view the detailed incident reports linked above.

    A few last words ...

    The sites listed above can address most of your questions about flying with pets. But consider this:

    • The first step always is checking with your veterinarian to see if your pet is healthy enough to fly.

    • For those seeking to transport a pet without accompanying it, the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association offers pet owners advice on finding pet shippers, as well as warnings about pet scams.

    • By the way, some well-meaning sites suggest you book a "direct flight," not realizing that in airline-speak direct flights make stops en route; ideally, you'll want to book a "nonstop flight," though this may not be possible in many cases. It's also important to know if all legs of an itinerary will be operated by the same carrier or a codeshare partner, particularly since so many domestic routes today are serviced by regional partners.

    Full story here:

  • 12 Dec 2014 4:23 PM | Deleted user
    Lufthansa has offered a glimpse into its latest offering for wealthy, bird-loving clientele - an in-flight resting platform for falcons. It will allow passengers to fly right next to their precious, feathery companions.
    Falconry in Dubai

    It's called the "Falcon Master," and it's changing the way people - and birds - fly.

    On Monday, the German carrier Lufthansa's technology division announced that it had devised a contraption to transport falcons in the passenger deck of commercial jets. It is a resting platform for falcons that Lufthansa's engineers claim can be installed on folded-down seats.

    The construction of the platform would be such that surrounding walls, seats and carpets would not be harmed by whatever the birds would think of doing during flights. Plus, Lufthansa said, a lot of Airbus and Boeing aircraft would already qualify for the transport of falcons.

    The airline pointed out that falconry is an extremely popular activity in some countries, predominantly in the Gulf. Lufthansa's "Falcon Master" platform would enable a small, but no doubt affluent group of clients to take their birds on board and not lose sight of them during flights.

    And once the flight is over, the "Falcon Master" can be quickly disassembled and stowed away in lightweight containers.

    Full story here:

  • 12 Dec 2014 4:22 PM | Deleted user
    Five of Napier's last Marineland mammals have taken their one-way trip to Australia.

    Californian sea lions Dakota and Orion, New Zealand fur seals Iha and Ollie, and sub-Antarctic fur seal Mako flew out of Auckland on a commercial Air New Zealand flight yesterday morning.

    The historic marine centre's last eight animals began their 120-day pre-export quarantine period in August.

    Napier City Council staff prepared a thorough transport management plan and selected Mainfreight to co-ordinate the move.

    The mammals travelled from their Marine Pde home to Hawke's Bay Airport on Tuesday evening. They were boarded on to a New Zealand Airforce Hercules.

    The Airforce stepped in to help the council because no commercial flights from Napier were big enough to carry the animals' travelling crates to Auckland International Airport. A road trip would have added several hours to their journey, a council spokeswoman said.

    Four keepers accompanied the animals on their flight across the Tasman. The animals were given no food or water while in transit. All the animals can survive for up to several days without food or water but these animals went without for less than 24 hours.

    Senior keeper Regan Beckett was happy the animals were going to quality homes, and that they would be in "caring and capable hands".

    Iha is going to Melbourne Zoo, Ollie is going to Taronga Zoo, and the other three are headed for Sea World at Surfers' Paradise.

    "I don't feel we're saying goodbye to them, I'm sure we'll meet again as Australia isn't that far away. We look forward to hearing of how they are after our departure and in the future," Beckett said.

    The animals will spend 30 days going through Australian quarantine before they can go to their new homes. Each animal has been micro chipped so that blood tests for unwanted viruses and disease can be accurately recorded.

    Molly, Mr Bo and Pania are due to leave Marineland in March next year. Their trip has been delayed due to Sea World having commitments to other animal imports, and Melbourne only being able to quarantine one animal at a time.

    The flights will cost the council $47,000.

    Full story here:

  • 12 Dec 2014 4:19 PM | Deleted user
    The European Commission took action Dec. 8 that resulted in the ban of horse meat imports and meat products from Mexico.

    Effective Jan. 15, the commission has suspended a residue monitoring plan that tests for the presence of horse meat in other imported meat products, according to Aikaterini Apostola, press officer for health for the European Commission.

    "Such suspension results in a ban of the import of horse meat, meat preparations, and meat products from Mexico," Apostola stated in an email. "The measure has been taken after repeated negative outcomes of the audits carried out by the Food and Veterinary Office of the Commission's Health and Consumers Directorate General in Mexico, the last of them in June 2014. This last audit also showed that many of the corrective actions that Mexico committed to take following previous audits were not yet taken."

    A key issue for the 28-member commission was inhumane treatment of the horses being shipped from the United States to Mexican slaughterhouses.
    Michael Scannell, director of the Food and Veterinary Office, addressed the issue Nov. 30 at a European Parliament Intergroup meeting in Brussels.

    "In general, the worst contraventions we know are in relation to transport," Scannell said. "By way of example, we will publish a report in the next number of weeks in relation to Mexico where we saw animals which arrived dead from the United States or non-ambulatory, i.e., they weren't even able to stand."

    The transportation problem is also expected to affect slaughter operations in Canada, according to Scannell, who added the commission is close to imposing a "six-month" rule for Canada.

    "So, in both cases, this will make it a lot more difficult -- impossible in the case of Mexico, difficult in the case of Canada -- to continue importing horses from the United States for subsequent export of horse meat to the European Union," Scannell said.

    Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, called the decision "the biggest blow" to horse slaughter since his organization led an effort in 2007 to shut down three horse slaughter plants in the United States.

    "Mexico not only kills thousands of its horses for export to the EU, but accepts tens of thousands of American horses for slaughter and shipment to Europe," Pacelle wrote on his blog. "This announcement could prove to be an earthquake for the North American horse slaughter industry, since Belgium, France, Italy, and other EU nations are major consumers."

    Ineffective testing was another issue that led to the European Commission ban, according to Apostola.

    "The 2014 audit confirms that the reliability of the guarantees on horse identification, traceability, and medicinal treatment history remain very weak," Apostola wrote. "Due to these problems in the official controls, it cannot be excluded that unauthorized substances might be used in horses slaughtered in Mexico for the export of their meat to the EU."

    Scannell also noted in his presentation that the slaughtering process itself was "by and large acceptable."

    "It is quite a lucrative trade and the establishments concerned know that they are under an awful lot of pressure, and that they are being very closely watched," he said. "One of things they can control relatively well is slaughtering conditions, and by and large what we see is acceptable."

    Apostola noted the suspension could be reversed if Mexican authorities are able to provide sufficient guarantees.

    "A future FVO audit which has a satisfactory outcome will also be necessary before any proposal to lift the ban," Apostola wrote.

    Full story here:

  • 05 Dec 2014 4:17 PM | Deleted user
    Avian influenza has been detected at two poultry operations in the Canadian province of British Columbia, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reported.

    The affected operations include a turkey farm in Abbotsford and a broiler breeding facility in Chilliwack. The two farms are about eight kilometers away from each other.

    Preliminary tests show the virus found is of the H5 variety, according to Dr. Harpreet Kochhar, chief veterinary officer with the CFIA, but the exact serotype is not known at this time.

    The source of the avian influenza outbreaks has yet to be identified, said Kochhar.

    Of the nearly 11,000 turkeys at the Abbotsford operation, about half have died. The farm in Chilliwack is the home of about 7,000 birds, with an estimated 1,000 having died. Culling efforts will be conducted with the remaining susceptible birds at both properties, and quarantines have been established.

    The CFIA will also lead on required depopulation of birds, while the Province of British Columbia will provide technical support on required carcass disposal. Once all birds have been removed, the CFIA will oversee the cleaning and disinfection of the barns, vehicles, equipment and tools to eliminate any infectious material that may remain.

    The government entities, the owners of the infected birds, and the Canadian poultry industry are working together to manage the situation, stated Chicken Farmers of Canada. Both levels of government will work with the poultry industry to address issues as they emerge.

    Avian influenza has been a big source of concern for the global poultry industry in recent months, as outbreaks have also been confirmed in The Netherlands, U.K., Germany, India and Japan.

    Full story here:

  • 05 Dec 2014 4:16 PM | Deleted user
    The International Federation for Animal Health has launched a white paper on vector borne diseases and their impact on animal and human health, with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The paper, which aims to assist in combating vector borne diseases to promote the better health and welfare of animals for the greater good of protecting animals and humans globally, emphasises the need to understand the diseases and to spread awareness of the most effective ways of managing and preventing them.

    Vector borne diseases account for 17% of global infectious diseases with malaria the most deadly, causing an estimated 627,000 deaths annually. VBDs cause high human morbidity levels as well as large economic losses in animal production - trypanosomiasis accounts for losses of $1.2 billion a year in cattle production - and reduced animal welfare. Most statistics regarding the impact of VBDs are hard to track because cases predominantly occur in countries with little means of formal reporting or surveillance, poor diagnostic tools and consequently there is little accurate assessment of the economic impact of these diseases. The IFAH's paper looks to close the gaps in knowledge of VBDs and present solutions for combating the problem.

    Global animal health is set to be impacted for years to come as the IFAH reports the difficulties in combating diseases that are constantly changing, affected by climate change which influences vector spread and habitat change by humans introducing wetlands or changing their patters of the transportation of goods, humans, livestock, and companion animals. The most influential and dangerous factor limiting the prevention of vector borne disease is insecticide resistance and farmers must be aware of the need to manage the spread of VBDs through a combination of insecticides and physical barriers.

    Efforts to combat VBDs must understand that their eradication is not realistic; farmers must learn to prevent their spreading where they can through vaccinations and focus on controlling the spreading of the disease by efforts to reduce the populations of the vector and by making modifications to the environment that make it less conducive to the vector's survival. The establishment of effective surveillance systems and the collection of accurate data will also be important in moving forward to protect global animal health. Global animal health market

    Pharmaceutical companies wanting to develop products to help combat vector borne disease face a difficult market place. Governments and funding agencies are unwilling to invest in a market place with unproven necessity or success but the discoveries, screening and testing processes of treatments are all expensive and time consuming and the lack of support for pharmaceutical companies is not conducive to the need to focus on prevention of VBDs by vaccine, as outlined in the IFAH paper.

    The animal health market includes pharmaceuticals, vaccines and medicinal food additives and pharmaceutical companies are significant contributors to the health and well-being of food-production and companion animals. The management of vector borne diseases is vital to the protection of the global animal health market, and there must be an influx of funding to pharmaceutical companies if farmers are to be more successful at managing these animal-health-harming diseases.

    Full story here:

  • 05 Dec 2014 4:12 PM | Deleted user
    Feeding chicks while in transport is a controversial topic, but under certain conditions it can offer benefits, especially in terms of early survivability.

    Nature has provided for nutrients and water to be readily available for the newly hatched chick in the form of remaining egg yolk sac that is slowly absorbed in the first hours of life. The absorption of these vital nutrients is of paramount importance for the correct functioning and health of the gut, and it speeds up as the chick starts picking up normal feed from its environment. But, commercial practice often interferes with nature.

    As long as chicks are placed under brooders within 24 hours post-hatch, they can manage without any further help, assuming the pre-starter feed available is of suitable quality and it is readily accessible by all chicks. But, if chicks are to remain in their transport trays for a prolonged period of time, then the normal life cycle is impaired.

    As long as chicks are placed under brooders within 24 hours post-hatch, they can manage without any further help.

    Transporting chicks to long distances, especially under adverse conditions, will first dehydrate them and then deprive them of body energy reserves. In result, upon placement, they will be exhausted, and at best, they will take longer to pick up feed and water -- with subsequent negative effects on growth performance. At worst case scenario, mortality will spike.

    Thus, when chicks are to be kept in transport cases for too long, it is advisable to use some form of nourishment and hydration. Several methods of doing so are available:

    1. Provide a gel that sticks to walls and provides both water and some nutrients. The only negative side, apart from the cost, is that chicks farthest away from the gel will not benefit from it as much those close to the supplement.
    2. Provide a regular diet, in powder form, at the bottom of the tray. This ensures all chicks have access to feed, but it does not solve the problem of water, unless special trays are used to provide water; something seldom convenient.
    3. Provide a slice of watermelon or pumpkin in the transport box. This is an easy and inexpensive way of providing both nutrients and water, but it is not as practical as a ready-made commercial product. But, it works and it is used by small hatcheries.
    On placement, some experts advise keeping chicks on a water-only diet for a few hours. Adding some sugar and electrolytes in the water is considered beneficial, especially for dehydrated chicks after a long trip to the rearing facility. Certain other additives may be considered in hot climates, or if chicks are expected to be affected by certain enteric disorders. Following this gut cleansing diet that also rehydrates the birds, it is recommended to offer them a high quality pre-starter feed to help them catch up quickly.

    In general, for normal practices, when chicks are not expected to be kept long from placement, there is little if any benefit of doing anything in terms of early feeding. Normal procedures will suffice, or the extra cost will not be paid back by enhanced performance. But, when adverse conditions prevail, providing extra care and nourishment will help chicks withstand the rigors of transportation, and even if they don’t grow any faster, at least mortality spikes will be avoided. In most cases, this is enough to pay back for the extra investment in materials and labor. At the end, what works for each hatchery and rearing facility is a combination of actual procedures, available means, and above all cost over profit.

    Full story here:

  • 05 Dec 2014 4:10 PM | Deleted user
    The Jihlava zoo at last succeeded, on the fourth try, in delivering a rare snow leopard to a partner zoo in India today, after three unsuccessful attempts when the transfer was thwarted by unexpected obstacles, the zoo's spokeswoman Kateřina Kosová told ČTK.

    Fici, the three-year-old leopard male, was raised in Jihlava and he was to leave for Calcutta on April 9 to reinforce the snow leopard population in India's Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park.

    "Today we've been informed that the snow leopard has reached India at last," Kosová said.

    On April 9, Fici's planned departure from Jihlava was cancelled in the last moment over the Indian partner's refusal to take the animal over in the evening hours.

    Another date of departure was set for April 14, when a van with Fici set out from Jihlava for the Prague airport, some 120 km far westwards. However, the D1 motorway was jammed due to ongoing repairs, which delayed the van and Fici missed his flight.

    "On the third try, the leopard arrived in Prague but the air carrier's staff returned him to us because they disliked his transport box," Kosová said.
    She said Fici was traveling in a box which the zoo had used to transport animals many times before.

    Similar problems are a rarity in the Jihlava zoo, Kosová said, adding that Fici is not the first leopard the zoo has delivered abroad.

    Nevertheless, previously the animals have left mainly for European zoos, including Moscow, Poland and Britain. It is for the first time that one has departed for India, she said.

    The Jihlava zoo is the Czech leader in breeding snow leopards. It has kept the species since 1992, since when a total of 18 kittens have been born there. Now it has four adult and one young leopards.

    The snow leopard figures on the list of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), under which animals are exchanged between zoos and salvation centers free of charge.

    Read more:

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