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Animal Shelters

Incoherent definitions confound attempts to label dogs as “pit bulls”

Most animal shelters continue to assign breed descriptors to dogs whose origin they do not know[1], even though current university research has shown that breed identification based on visual inspection correlates poorly with DNA breed signature, and that observers will disagree with each other when examining the same dog. These difficulties are only compounded when the descriptor itself is subject to different interpretations. A study by researchers in the US and UK examines the question of whether animal shelter workers

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Canine Behavior

No single factor explains barking, growling, lunging and biting behavior in dogs.

Dr. Rachel Casey from Bristol University in the UK, and colleagues, recently attempted to estimate the number of dogs barking, lunging, growling or biting – the behaviors they grouped together under the term, aggression[1] — and to see if they could identify decisive causes of such behavior. Of more than 14,000 UK dog owners surveyed, 3,897 replied, answering questions about their dogs’ responses to family members, to unfamiliar persons away from the house where the dog lived, and to unfamiliar

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Breed-Specific Legislation

Maryland General Assembly Says No to Dog Owner Discrimination, Passes Effective Breed Neutral Liability

On April 3, 2014, the Maryland House of Delegates gave final approval to breed neutral dog bite liability legislation that would abrogate the 2012 Court of Appeals ruling in Tracey v. Solesky, which imposed “breed”-specific liability on dog owners, custodians, and landlords. From the beginning, Maryland residents and lawmakers have been in agreement that the Tracey v. Solesky ruling was not acceptable, but the House and the Senate disagreed on the appropriate standard for dog owner liability. This legislation, SB 247

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Breed-Specific Legislation

South Dakota and Utah to be the 17th and 18th states to preempt breed-specific legislation.

South Dakota has passed a bill to protect pets and people by preventing local governments from enacting legislation that regulates dog ownership based on a dog’s breed or breed mix. Governor Dennis Daugaard signed the bill on March 14, 2014[1]. The bill, SB 75[2], states that: No local government, as defined in § 6-1-12, may enact, maintain, or enforce any ordinance, policy, resolution, or other enactment that is specific as to the breed or perceived breed of a dog. This

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Law Enforcement Resources

“Police and Dog Encounters” Training Videos Released.

National Canine Research Council (NCRC) is happy to announce the release of “Police and Dog Encounters”, the law enforcement training series developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, NCRC, and Safe Humane Chicago. The training series was developed to help officers keep themselves, their communities, and the dogs they encounter safe. Hosted by retired Chicago police superintendent Terry Hillard, the videos feature police officers in situations they routinely encounter on duty and

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Ádám Miklósi of The Family Dog Project joins NCRC Advisors

Dr. Ádám Miklósi, head of the Ethology Department at Eötvös University in Budapest and one of the founders of the world-renowned Family Dog Project, has joined the NCRC group of advisors. Dr. Miklósi is a leading authority on the social competence of dogs, the mental abilities that make possible the unique relationship that is the human-canine bond. Or as the title of one of his recent papers puts it, “What does it take to become ‘best friends’?”  The mission of the Family

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Animal Shelters

Florida animal services agency strikes breed labels from kennel cards and website

Evidence has mounted in recent years that guesses as to a dog’s breed or breeds usually do not correspond with breed identification using DNA technology. Different observers, even those engaged in dog-related professions, frequently disagree with each other when looking at the same dog. Animal behavior and ethology studies have demonstrated that we cannot reliably predict the future behavior of a purebred dog on the basis of its breed or breed mix, whether or not we have documented the pedigree

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Canine Research

Neuroscience May Confirm What Many Dog Lovers Already Know

Dog owners regularly attribute emotions such as love and loyalty to their pets, and may be just as regularly dismissed for doing so. The Dog Project, being conducted by Dr. Gregory Berns, a neuroeconomist at Emory University in Atlanta, has detected canine brain activity suggesting that dog owners may have the last laugh. Dr. Berns studies “the neurological basis for individual preferences.” He uses functional MRIs (abbreviated as fMRI) to measure changes in key parts of people’s brains at a

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Canine Genetics

Cloning Shows That All Dogs Are Individuals

Britain’s The Telegraph newspaper is reporting that a Korean company will be offering one lucky British dog owner a chance to have his or her dog cloned for free.[1]  While the price is right – the Sooam Biotech’s customary fee for cloning a dog is just north of $100,000 – geneticists are cautioning that the resulting animal will not be identical to the original. Too many different factors operate on an individual, scientists caution, for two individuals to be carbon

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Animal Shelters

Assumptions about future behavior of shelter dogs seen as food aggressive are unfounded.

Animal shelters may conduct what they describe as behavioral evaluations of the dogs they receive, in order to discover what they presume will be problem behaviors when the dogs are adopted into new homes. Among the behaviors that evaluations are designed to detect are those labeled “food aggression.” The behaviors described by that term include growling, showing teeth, lunging, snapping or biting, when a person attempts to interact with the dog while it is eating, or to interfere with the

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