Saturday, December 18, 2010

PENNSYLVANIA: Rabies Medical Exemption Action Alert! Please contact your legislators now and ask them to support this bill!

PENNSYLVANIA: Rabies Medical Exemption Action Alert -- Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf will reintroduce SB 1454 in an effort to get a rabies medical exemption clause inserted into the Pennsylvania Rabies Code in the January session. Below is a copy of The Rabies Challenge Fund's letter faxed to the Pennsylvania State Veterinarian.

What You Can Do to Help:

Contact your legislators immediately and ask them to co-sponsor and support this rabies medical exemption bill. You can find your legislators' contact information at this link , and please ask every pet owner you know who may concerned about this to do the same. If no other legislator is willing to Co-Sponsor this bill, it will fail. E-mails for the entire Pennsylvania Assembly are listed at the bottom of this message.


June 29, 2010

Dr. Craig E. Shultz
State Veterinarian
Department of Agriculture
2301 N. Cameron Street, Room 410
Harrisburg, PA 17110

RE: Medical Exemption Clause for Pennsylvania’s Rabies Prevention and Control Code

Greetings Dr. Shultz:

On behalf of The Rabies Challenge Fund and the Pennsylvania pet owners who have contacted us requesting assistance, we respectfully request that you, in your capacity as State Veterinarian, initiate medical exemption legislation waiving the rabies immunization requirement in Chapter 16, Subchapter C., §16.43 of the Pennsylvania Code for the small number of animals whose veterinarians have determined their medical conditions preclude vaccination.

The states of Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin all have medical exemption clauses for sick animals in their rabies immunization laws, and a bill is currently pending in the California legislature to include a waiver in their statutes.

The labels on rabies vaccines state that they are for “the vaccination of healthy cats, dogs…,” and there are medical conditions for which vaccination can jeopardize the life or well-being of an animal. A medical exemption clause would allow Pennsylvania veterinarians to write waivers for animals whose medical conditions (such as those with cancer, kidney/liver failure, hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, grand mal seizures, and chronic autoimmune disorders) would be exacerbated by rabies vaccination. The State of Maine inserted such an exemption into their 3 year rabies protocol, 7 M.R.S.A., Sec. 3922(3), which became effective in April 2005 -- not one rabid dog has been reported in the more than 5 years since that date. Colorado’s data reflect the same -- there have been no rabid dogs reported in the state since passage of their medical exemption clause in July 2008.

Maine’s exemption language is as follows:

A. A letter of exemption from vaccination may be submitted for licensure, if a medical reason exists that precludes the vaccination of the dog. Qualifying letters must be in the form of a written statement, signed by a licensed veterinarian, that includes a description of the dog, and the medical reason that precludes vaccination. If the medical reason is temporary, the letter shall indicate a time of expiration of the exemption.

B. A dog exempted under the provisions of paragraph 5 A, above, shall be considered unvaccinated, for the purposes of 10-144 C.M.R. Ch.251, Section 7(B)(1), (Rules Governing Rabies Management) in the case of said dog’s exposure to a confirmed or suspect rabid animal.

The Rabies Challenge Fund strongly urges you to request legislation be submitted on behalf of the Department of Agriculture amending Chapter 16, Subchapter C., §16.43 of the Pennsylvania Code to include medical exemption language for unhealthy animals for which rabies vaccination would compromise their well-being.


Kris L. Christine
Founder, Co-Trustee

Friday, November 5, 2010

Home Again's Microchip implicated in cancer

Pharmaceutical giant Merck is being sued. The lawsuit alleges that Merck's HomeAgain pet microchip induced cancer in a cat.

Dr. Katherine Albrecht, a consumer advocate and expert on implantable microchip reactions, said that, "Based on the alarming number of microchip-linked cancers we're discovering, I predict this lawsuit will be just the tip of the iceberg."

Chip Me Not reports that there are:

"... [A] growing number of adverse reactions to microchips, including the chip-related cancer deaths of two dogs within the past year."

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

The reason why this is an important issue is that many predict there will be a massive push by government authorities to microchip humans. Not only will this be a mistake for privacy reasons, but it appears that there are also serious health consequences.

Fortunately, our pets are serving as canaries for this health challenge and providing us with an early warning alert as to what would happen if we choose to get these microchips.

Most humane societies and rescue organizations now require that adopted pets be microchipped, and many veterinarians recommend the chips as well. In all it's estimated that about 5 percent of U.S. pets have microchips, along with countless farm animals, laboratory animals and wild salmon (used to track their movement).

About the size of a grain of rice, pet microchips contain a radio transmitter, an antenna and a computer chip that is read by a scanner, allowing animal control, vets or shelters to obtain owners' information in the event a pet gets lost.

The benefit, of course, is that a lost dog or cat without tags that is picked up by a shelter has a better chance of finding its owner if a microchip is present and scanned. But there are potentially serious drawbacks as well, and chief among them is a concerning number of cases linking the microchips to cancer.

Do Pet Microchips Cause Cancer?

Pharmaceutical giant Merck is being sued over claims that its HomeAgain pet microchip caused cancer in a cat. Two years after the chip was implanted, the cat developed a cancerous tumor at the implant site. The tumor was removed surgically, and the microchip was found embedded in the tumor.

As reported, the cat's veterinarian wrote in the medical record, "The microchip was found at the center of the mass."
This is far from an isolated case.

In 2007, Dr. Katherine Albrecht released an in-depth analysis of animal studies involving microchip implants and found a "clear causal link between microchip implants and cancer in mice and rats," as well as an association with cancer in dogs.

In mice and rats, between 1 percent and 10 percent of the animals developed invasive cancers surrounding or attached to the implant. There have also been two confirmed cases of dogs developing cancer surrounding or attached to the microchip implant.

Dr. Albrecht noted:
"Foreign-body-induced tumors can pose serious threats to animal health. Researchers report that most tumors arising from foreign bodies are malignant mesenchymal neoplasms with a rapid growth rate, killing the animal in a matter of weeks.

Many of the study animals with microchip-associated tumors died prematurely due to the masses. In addition, many of the tumors metastasized, spreading cancer to the lungs, liver, stomach, pancreas, and other organs."

You can read dozens of case histories of dogs, cats, horses and other animals developing tumors at the microchip implant site at
Pet Microchips Don't Always Work as Advertised
When deciding on any medical procedure, it's wise to weigh the risks versus the benefits. In the case of pet microchips, there appears to be a serious risk of cancer that is still emerging, while the benefit is increasing your chance of finding your pet if they're lost.
But that benefit may be a bit misleading because of the way the chips operate. There are four main brands of microchips used in the United States, and generally each brand requires a different type of scanner to be read. If your pet winds up at an animal shelter without a compatible scanner, the chip cannot be read.

Likewise, the chips must be read at a very close distance of 3-12 inches. Normally the microchip is implanted between the shoulder blades, but on occasion they can migrate under the shoulder blade, up to the back of the neck -- or even all the way down to the belly.

This means that if your pet's chip has migrated, there's a good chance the scanner will not pick up the signal.

Assuming the chip is read, it's imperative that you have kept your contact information updated correctly (if you have moved, changed phone numbers, etc.) with the chip's registration site, or else the chip will again be useless.

What About Microchips Proposed for People?

As mentioned previously, subdermal microchips are being developed for numerous human uses, ranging from keeping tabs on your kids to implantable credit and debit cards, allowing customers to make purchases by scanning themselves with special readers at store checkouts. Many of these chips, such as one variety that grants people VIP access at nightclubs, are already in use.

One such brand, VeriChip, is even developing implantable virus detection systems for humans.

These biosensors can allegedly detect viruses such as swine flu, bird flu, SARS, and other biological threats such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The technology will be combined with VeriChip's implantable radio frequency identification devices (RFID) to develop "virus triage detection systems."

According to a white paper published by VeriChip on May 7, 2009, this triage system will provide "multiple levels of identification." The first level will identify the agent as virus or non-virus, the second level will classify the virus and alert the user to the presence of pandemic threat viruses, and the third level will identify the precise pathogen.
To some this may sound like a good idea, but to me this seems like it could be a prescription for massive government intrusion, loss of personal freedom and, as in other animals, potentially increased cancer risks.
As Dr. Robert Benezra, head of the Cancer Biology Genetics Program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, said in Dr. Albrecht's paper:

"There's no way in the world, having read this information, that I would have one of those chips implanted in my skin, or in one of my family members … Given the preliminary animal data, it looks to me that there's definitely cause for concern."

Dr. George Demetri, director of the Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, further noted, also in Dr. Albrecht's paper, that research underscored "certainly real risks" in RFID implants, adding that the tumors can be "incredibly aggressive and can kill people in three to six months."

Stay Informed Before Getting Microchipped

It may be some time before implantable microchips become commonplace for humans, but it will likely become a "wave of the future" well within our lifetimes. Many are already here and in use, but before deciding to take part be sure you are completely aware of all the potential risks posed.
For pets, the microchips are already being widely used and heavily promoted. If you're a pet owner, you'll need to weigh the benefits versus the risks carefully …

For more information, veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker recently reviewed this topic in depth. I highly recommend watching her video to make an educated and informed decision.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Can the toys your dog plays will cause cancer?

Unfortunately some can!

Vinyl and plastic dog toys contain a chemical compound, DINP, that is under investigation by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission due to possible cancer risks in humans. DINP (di-isononyl phthalate) is used to make hard PVC plastic softer. In 1998 Health Canada issued an advisory warning about the dangers of mouthing soft plastic toys by small children, and some countries, have already phased out DINP for use in children's toys. But, dogs have not been give the same consideration. So we need to especially careful of what we buy especially considering that dogs chew on their toys for extended periods of time and in some cases may even ingest them.

According to, "almost all soft plastic toys contain PVC," so avoid these types of toys all together!!

Below are some links to help you find safe PVC free dogs toys!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Types of cancer cancers

Dogs have 35 times as much skin cancer as do humans, 4 times as many breast tumors, 8times as much bone cancer, and twice as high an incidence of leukemia. The only types of cancer that are more frequently seen in humans than in small animals are
not surprising: lung cancer is 7 times higher in humans, and stomach/intestinal malignancies are 13 times more frequent in man than in dogs and cats. It is clear that the higher incidence of lung cancer in man is due to the human habit of smoking---but the cause of the higher incidence of gastrointestinal malignancies in man is not so clear.

Bladder Cancer - Bladder cancer occurs in dogs with some breeds at higher risk than others (West highland Terriers for example). This is a slow developing cancer and pets may not show symptoms for 3 to 6 months. Once symptoms occur, urinary obstruction and bleeding is common.

Brain Tumors - Tumors in the brain may occur in dogs as primary or as metastatic tumors. Epileptic-like seizures or other extreme behavioral changes may be the only clinical signs. CAT scanning will allow precise localization of these lesions. Surgical excision followed by radiation therapy is the indicated treatment if the tumor is in an accessible portion of the skull. Radiation therapy alone can control some inoperable tumors.

Mammary Carcinoma - Female dogs are at high risk for developing malignant mammary tumors. Mammary tumors are the most common types of tumors in non-spayed female
dogs. While 50 percent of these tumors are malignant, complete surgical removal is sometimes curative if the cancer has not metastasized.

Mast Cell Tumors - A common malignant tumor in dogs is the mast cell tumor. Mast cells are immune cells that are responsible for allergies. Mast cells can be found in all tissues of the body but typically form tumors on the skin in close to 20 percent in the canine population. MCTs range from relatively benign to extremely aggressive, leading to tumor spread and eventual death. Particular breeds of dog are at risk for the development of this tumor, indicating a role for genetic factors.

Malignant Histiocytosis - Malignant histiocytosis (MH), while rare in people, occurs frequently in certain breeds of dogs including Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers, Flat-Coated Retrievers and Bernese Mountain Dogs. There is no reported effective therapy for this disease. Recent work suggests Lomustine (CCNU) is helpful in extending dog survival. It occurs with high incidence in Bernese Mountain Dogs, Rottweilers, Flat Coated Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and sporadically in many other breeds. Histiocytic sarcomas occur as localized lesions in spleen, lymph nodes, lung, bone marrow, skin and subcutis, brain, and periarticular tissue of large appendicular(limb) joints. Histiocytic sarcomas can also occur as multiple lesions in single organs (especially spleen), and rapidly disseminate to involve multiple organs. Hence, disseminated histiocytic sarcoma is difficult to distinguish from MH, which is a multi-system, rapidly progressive disease in which there is simultaneous involvement of multiple organs such as spleen, lymph nodes, lung, bone
marrow, skin and subcutis. Response of histiocytic sarcomas and MH to chemotherapy is at best brief.

Squamous Cell Carcinomas - Squamous cell carcinoma is one of the most common cancers found in dogs. Common sites are the mouth and the toes (nailbeds). Early detection and complete surgical removal is the treatment of choice and fewer than 20% develop metastatic disease. SCC of the tonsil and tongue are quite aggressive and fewer than 10% survive 1 year or longer despite treatment measures.

Head & Neck - Cancer of the mouth is common in dogs. Signs to watch for are a mass on the gums, bleeding, odor, or difficulty eating. Since many swellings are malignant, early, aggressive treatment is essential. Cancer may also develop inside the nose of dogs. Bleeding from the nose, breathing difficulty, or facial swelling are symptoms that may indicate cancer and should be checked by your veterinarian.

Hemangiosarcoma is an incurable tumor of cells that line blood vessels (endothelial cells). Although dogs of any age and breed are susceptible to hemangiosarcoma, it occurs more commonly in dogs beyond middle age, and in breeds such as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs, Portuguese Water Dogs, and Skye Terriers, among others. Hemangiosarcoma develops slowly and is essentially painless so clinical signs are usually not evident until the advanced stages when the tumors are resistant to most treatments. Less than 50% of dogs treated with standard-of-care of care for this tumor (surgery and intensive chemotherapy) survive more than six months. Many dogs die from severe internal bleeding before there is an opportunity to institute treatment.

Lymphoma is one of the most common cancers seen in dogs and probably occurring 2 to 5times as frequently in dogs than in people. Although there are breeds that appear to be at increased risk for this disease, lymphoma can affect any dog of any breed at any age. Most of the time, lymphoma appears as swollen glands (lymph nodes) that can be seen or felt under the neck, in front of the shoulders, or behind the knee. Occasionally, lymphoma can affect lymph nodes that are not visible or palpable from outside the body, such as those inside the chest or in the abdomen. In these cases, dogs may accumulate fluid in the chest that makes breathing difficult, or they may have digestive problems (diarrhea, vomiting, or painful abdomen). Lymphoma is generally considered treatable. Multi-agent chemotherapy consisting of L-asparaginase, vincristine, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and prednisone, is the standard-of-care for this disease. However, there are various subtypes of lymphoma that exhibit different behaviors, and some of the more aggressive types are unresponsive to any available treatment.

Melanoma occurs commonly in dogs with pigmented (dark) skin. Melanomas arise from pigment producing cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for coloring the skin. Any dog can be affected, but Gordon Setters, Standard and Miniature Schnauzers, Doberman Pinschers, and Scottish terriers, among others, are at increased risk to develop melanoma, suggesting that this disease may have a hereditary component. Melanomas can occur in areas of haired skin, where they usually form small, dark (brown to black) lumps, but can also appear as large, flat, wrinkled masses. Melanoma of the haired skin in dogs is usually a benign tumor, although it can cause severe discomfort. In contrast, malignant melanoma, which develops in the mouth or in the distal limbs (usually the toenail beds), is an incurable disease. These tumors have very often spread to distant parts
of the body (metastasized) by the time they are first noticed, making complete surgical removal impossible. Radiation therapy can help extend the lives of affected dogs, but also is ineffective against tumor cells that have metastasized. Chemotherapy is also not considered capable of adequately controlling canine malignant melanoma. Melanoma seems to be uniquely responsive to immune-based therapies, and various novel approaches are under development to treat this disease.

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of primary bone cancer in dogs, accounting for up to 85% of tumors that originate in the skeletal system. Although it is mostly a
disease of older large or giant breed dogs, it can affect dogs of any size or age. Osteosarcoma may be found in many areas, but it most commonly affects the bones bordering the shoulder, wrist and knee. The first sign an owner usually sees with this disease is lameness in the affected leg. They may also notice a swelling over the area or their dog may seem painful at the site. The tumors are very aggressive and metastatic, so it is a fair assumption that at the time of diagnosis the disease will have already spread beyond the primary site. For this reason, the standard-of-care for bone cancer includes surgery to remove the primary tumor, followed by chemotherapy to attack the cells that have left the site. In dogs, approximately 50% survive one year with standard-of-care, less than 30% survive 2 years, and less than 10% reach 3 years.

Testicular - Testicular tumors are common in dogs, especially those with retained testes. Most of these cancers are preventable with castration (neutering) and curable with surgery if done early in the disease process.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

1 year...

It's been one year that we're without our sweet Dozer. Our lives still aren't the same without him...never will be. He was such a special boy. So sweet and fun and just plain wonderful. He fit into our family so perfectly. It's been so difficult without him for all of us. My 4 year old daughter still cries over him. It's hard to see her so upset yet I also think it's amazing they had such a strong bond. He loved her so much and she felt the same.

Our hearts are still broken and we miss him terribly...

We love you Dozer!!