Rabies outbreak in Toronto

Reuters is reporting that a rabies alert was sent across Canada Monday after a puppy sold at a Toronto-area flea market tested positive, the first outbreak of rabies in the Toronto area in more than 20 years.

Toronto health officials said the eight-week-old border collie, which has died, was from a group of 12 puppies at the market. The other 11 dogs are under quarantine.

The mother of the border collie, from a farm in Eastern Ontario, has also died after contacting the virus from a rabid skunk.

Howard Shapiro, associate medical officer of health at Toronto Public Health, said at least 80 Toronto-area people, who came in contact with the animals, have had to get rabies shots. More than 900 people have contacted a hotline set up since the disease was found in one of the animals.

The scoop on poop

Swansea Council in Wales has bought 600,000 specially designed poop scoop bags which pet owners can use to dispose of their pet’s waste when out walking.

The Council says dog owners are more than welcome to use designated beaches all along the peninsula but they want them to use the scoops and help keep beaches clean for everyone.

Dog owners risk fines of up to a thousand pounds if they fail to clear up after their pet.

Riding in Cars

Doug and I just returned from a 10-day road trip to Florida and back to Kansas with three of his teenage girls. The journey to Florida was reasonably broken up into segments and we chose towns, hotels, and restaurants that would accommodate our diverse interests and needs. On the trip back we started talking about the next time we do this trip, when it’s just the two of us, we can drive down with our two dogs and rent a house near a beach on the Gulf somewhere.

When I read yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch story, “City aldermen loosen leash on dogs dining at restaurants” in FSnet, I added St. Louis to the list of places we can stop on that next trip. Taking a road trip with dogs, like kids, means special consideration about where and how long to stop, and what kinds of towns, hotels, and restaurants we patronize – especially in the summer when it is dangerous to leave the puppies in the car. Cities committed to rules for safe doggy dining make it easier for us to keep our dogs safe while we dine on the road.

Doggy Dining

Pictured: Restaurant in Nîmes, France

In France dining with your dog is a part of every day life.  Dogs go in restaurants, grocery stores, and even on trains with their owners.  The other night at dinner at a table next to us, a couple sat with their ‘tween son and a tiny doggy that they passed from person to person until the food came.  Then he was expected to sit calmly under the chair.  He started yelping quickly afterwards when a very big dog came wondering around the restaurant’s terrace looking for handouts (see above photo).

We are the owners of two dogs and two cats who live with us in Kansas.  Our lives would be more convenient if we could live like the French and both walk our dogs and sit in restaurants with them on the patio.  We used to be able to do this at one of our favorite restaurants in Manhattan, but the management there recently changed and they told us we would have to attach the dogs on the outside of the railing rather than have them at the table with us.  They even brought us cups of water for the pooches so they wouldn’t get too hot.  Sadie, who was a puppy at the time, dug up their herb garden, and we decided we’d better leave.

Around the same time that rule changed last fall, a reporter called Doug and asked what he thought about the doggy dining laws in Florida.  My reaction was that I would frequent a restaurant that allowed me to bring my dog, but if I were a restaurant owner, I would not allow dogs on the patio.  Beyond the liability issues of “What if a customer’s dog bit one of my staff or other clients?” I see people do all sorts of strange things with their pets.  I confess, I too am guilty of letting my dog lick my plate, but some people even share their food while they’re eating it.  As a restaurant owner, knowing I am liable if someone gets sick in my restaurant, and knowing that dogs do often eat poop and live to …err.. tell about it, I wouldn’t trust that a customer wouldn’t sue me for their E. coli poisoning if they got sick from their dog’s germs.  The U.S. has strict liability laws when it comes to food safety.  If I served the food with poop, I’d be hard pressed to prove where it came from.