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WebClawer: Original Labradoodle breeder regrets his role in 'designer dog' craze; gray whale spotted in Israel; animal rights advocates decry mouse pain study

May 12, 2010 |  6:23 pm


-- The man who bred a poodle with a Labrador retriever and called the resulting puppies Labradoodles now says he regrets his role in starting today's "designer dog" craze that includes Labradoodles, goldendoodles, puggles, Cavachons and other often highly-priced hybrids. Wally Conran, now 81, bred his first Labradoodle litter in 1988, when he was employed as the manager of the Royal Institute of the Blind's puppy program. When a client expressed a desire for a leader dog but was concerned about aggravating her husband's dog allergy, Conran decided to breed puppies that retained many of the behavioral traits of a Labrador but had the shed-free coat of a poodle. The rest, of course, is history. "But now when people ask me, 'Did you breed the first one?' I have to say, 'Yes, I did, but it's not something I'm proud of,' " Conran said. "I wish I could turn the clock back." Many members of the pet-rescue community share that sentiment. (The Australian)

-- A gray whale that has recently been spotted off the coast of Israel is a long way from home, and its presence there "has been described as one of the most important whale sightings ever," according to Israel Marine Mammal Research and Assistance Center chairman Dr. Aviad Scheinin. Gray whales once occupied the region, but the population there is believed to have died out centuries ago. Scheinin suspects the whale -- a 39-foot, 20-ton adult -- probably ended up in Israeli waters through the Northwest Passage. "The question now is: are we going to see the re-colonization of the Atlantic? This is very important ecologically because of the change of habitat," Scheinin said. "It emphasizes the climate change that we are going through." Although it ended up off course, the whale seems to be none the worse for wear. (Telegraph)

-- Animal rights advocates are outraged by a new study out of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, in which researchers injected mice with substances like acetic acid and mustard oil to create a scale of pain reactions determined by the animals' facial expressions. According to the researchers, the fact that mice demonstrate a range of facial expressions in relation to pain -- a "mouse grimace scale" -- much like humans do has the potential to improve both medical care for humans and veterinary care for animals. But Dr. Ned Buyukmihci of the group British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection says he sees no benefit for animals in the study. "These mice were subjected to atrociously painful situations without any pain relief," Buyukmihci said. "This study was not intended to improve the welfare of mice, rather just to find a new way of determining if a mouse is in pain. This institutionalizes experiments where pain is caused in mice." (Metro U.K.)

-- Missouri-based dog advocates say they have collected nearly 200,000 signatures on a petition to place a ballot initiative called the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, which would impose new restrictions on large-scale dog breeders, on state ballots this fall. Missouri election officials must determine by Aug. 3 whether the proposed measure they champion will qualify to appear before voters in the fall election. The measure is designed to crack down on approximately 3,000 large-scale dog breeding facilities its supporters say are currently operating in Missouri. "We're tired of being known as the puppy mill capital of the country," said Missourians for the Protection of Dogs campaign manager Barbara Schmitz. "We're tired of having dogs being treated in such a substandard and cruel way." If approved for the ballot and passed by voters, the measure would limit to 50 the number of breeding dogs a person could own and require that female dogs be bred no more than twice in an 18-month period, among other restrictions. (USA Today)

-- A proposed statewide ban on bestiality in Florida has failed to pass despite widespread bipartisan support among state legislators. Bestiality was among the sexual acts prohibited by an 1868 state law, but a 1971 state Supreme Court decision struck down the law on the grounds that it was too vague. There have been numerous efforts to again outlaw bestiality in the years since the Supreme Court decision, but none has been successful. Some lawmakers have suggested that tackling the issue of bestiality is tricky because they don't want to be seen as wasting time addressing a crime that is relatively rare when Florida faces more pressing economic problems. Another reason for the proposal's failure to pass: Some legislators didn't want to address the unpleasant topic of bestiality at public sessions that are sometimes attended by children. Palm Beach's Rep. Mary Brandenburg said by way of summarizing the issue: "It is yucky." (Miami Herald)

-- A Minnesota man who left the scene after he crashed his car into a power pole later told police that he'd lost control of the vehicle when his dog vomited on him. A police deputy confirmed that vomit was found during an examination of the car. The pole was not badly damaged and the driver was cited for not having a Minnesota driver's license or valid insurance. (Winona Daily News)

-- Lindsay Barnett

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Photo: Labradoodles play during a "doodle romp" playtime session in Chicago. Credit: Erik Unger / Chicago Tribune

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