Santas are learning a new trick of the trade—photos with pets

We always love to hear about polls showing Americans increasingly view their pets as family. And today’s Christmas cards leave little doubt about that, which of course also brings joy to us at Friends of Animals, The Washington Post even did a feature story on the phenomenon. The article points out that more than ever, Santas long accustomed to soothing crying children must also know how to handle wriggling pets — at animal shelter fundraisers, at mall photo sessions and at office parties that allow family members of all sorts, including the four-legged kind. Encounters with animals are now so common that Susen Mesco teaches a 45-minute workshop on the topic at her Professional Santa Claus School in Denver.










St. Louis bans declawing of cats

City officials in St. Louis Missouri have voted to prohibit the declawing of cats, according to the St. Louis-Dispatch. The measure also includes new provisions to protect pets in extreme weather. Friends of Animals has been advocating against the unnecessary procedure for years because it causes pain for the animal when their ligaments and tendons are severed; can lead to injury and can change their personality and temperament.












Massachusetts bans animal-killing contests

Hunters in Massachusetts will no longer be allowed to participate in contests that target fur-bearing animals like coyotes, according to the Associated Press.

The state Fisheries and Wildlife Board last week approved regulations prohibiting the contests. The board pointed to concerns that the hunting contests are unethical, contribute to the waste of animals and encourage indiscriminate killing that is at odds with conservation models.

Besides coyotes the new regulations also prohibit hunting contests that target bobcats, red foxes, gray foxes, weasels, minks, skunks, river otters, muskrats, beavers, fishers, raccoons and opossums.

Since 2014, four states — California, New Mexico, Vermont and Arizona — have approved similar prohibitions on hunting contests for coyotes and other fur-bearing animals.

The board said it reviewed the best available science, consulted outside professionals and held four public listening sessions around the state before making a final decision to ban the hunting contests.











Isle Royale National Park wolves thriving

Scientists say gray wolves relocated to Isle Royale National Park are adjusting nicely to their new surroundings and finding plenty of prey, according to a report in the Detroit News.

Officials released findings earlier this month from observations of wolves that were captured on the mainland and taken to the Lake Superior park during the past year.

Plans call for moving 20 to 30 wolves to Isle Royale to restore a population that had nearly disappeared because of inbreeding. The park’s current total is 17.