Researchers at Emory University have published new research into canine cognition. Entitled Functional MRI in Awake Unrestrained Dogs, the paper outlines findings of research that required two dogs to remain motionless in an MRI machine.
Yes – that’s right. Motionless. The two dogs were outfitted with special ear muffs to protect them from the noise of the MRI and trained to rest their heads on a chin rest inside the machine. As the MRI took scans of the dog’s brain activity, hand signals were used to show the dogs whether there was or wasn’t a food reward.
This is a first-ever study on awake dogs, rather than those that have been sedated. Importantly, part of the animal ethics of the study was to ensure the dogs were willing participants.
The findings show a definite brain activity response when the hand signals indicated a food reward. Those dogs are paying attention!
The lead researcher, Professor Gregory Berns, says “We hope this opens up a whole new door for understanding canine cognition and inter-species communication. We want to understand the dog-human relationship, from the dog’s perspective.”
Professor Bern’s dog Callie in training in a mock-up of the MRI scanner (copyright Emory University)
Listen to Professor Berns talk about this project in the Emory University YouTube video:
Newspapers are reporting that Annabell Quor, the owner of the pomeranian who died in a car parked at The Palms shopping centre in December, has entered a plea of not guilty to a charge of reckless ill-treatment of an animal.
Ms Quor appeared in the Christchurch District Court this week; the charge was brought by SPCA Canterbury inspectors. Ms Quor maintains that the dog’s death was an accident, that she forgot to remove the dog’s muzzle, and that she had left windows open with a bowl of water for the dog to drink.
The case will continue on April 21 in a post committal conference. The charge Ms Quor is facing carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison, a fine not to exceed $75,000, or both.
The Winter Olympics in Vancouver officially were closed on 28 February 2010. Less than a year later, news has broken that 100 healthy sled dogs were brutally murdered because tourism had dropped off post-Olympics.
More shocking is that the murders have only come to light after the worker who shot and, in some cases slashed the throats of the dogs, filed a worker’s compensation claim for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Attorney Corey Steinberg told Vancouver radio station CNKW “It wasn’t always a clean, one-shot kill. Inevitably, (the employee) ended up seeing and having to put the end to some horrific scenes.”
Great news out today…SPCA Canterbury has laid a charge of reckless ill-treatment of an animal under New Zealand’s Animal Welfare Act against the woman responsible for leaving a Pomeranian to die in a hot car during the Christmas shopping season last month.
On 18 December, the dog was found dead in a parked car at the rooftop car park at The Palms Shopping Centre. It was harnessed to its seat and muzzled on a day when temperatures reached 33.4 degrees C.
The court date has been set for 17 February. Well done to the SPCA Canterbury for following through on this case.
For those of you in New Zealand, Paw Justice is an animal welfare organisation fighting for the rights of our pets. Their mission statement is:
“Listening and talking to pet owners about their problems and their pet’s concerns
And, until this day comes, Paw Justice will be seeking justice against those who hurt our animals.”
Paw Justice was successful in its attempt to gain signatures from around the country supporting tougher sentencing for offenders who abuse animals. They are now fundraising to continue the pressure on our society to treat animals properly. They operate a Facebook page and sell Paw Justice products on their website. You can also make a donation on their website.
Best of all, the folk at Paw Justice now have the Patch Up Your Pet campaign. For $10, you buy a Paw Justice tag for your pet. This has a unique identification code and you register your contact details against this number. If your pet is found with their Paw Justice tag, people can log onto the website to get your contact details and return your pet to you. When you register your pet against the number, you can also upload their photo to the Paw Justice website.
The idea is to grow the number of people supporting the movement and to keep pressure on to ensure animal abuse is stopped.
Daisy is now patched!
Show your support for Paw Justice by following this link:
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand