Maddie's Pet Project

3 animal websites that will add value to your life

By Mark Robison

Mark Robison

Finding animal stories I like to read online can be a challenge. Often they are too cutesy, seem to be promoting a product, or are horrific. All of those types of stories have their time and place, but with my busy day, I'm picky. Below are three I find consistently valuable – please share with me animal blogs or sites you like, and I'll consider them for a future column.

Companion Animal Psychology: Zazie Todd is a dog trainer with a PhD in psychology who lives in Canada and started Companion Animal Psychology in 2012. The blog is aimed at exploring the ways evidence-based information can improve the way we care for our pets.

It has a book club that gives great ideas for books to check out, even if I never acquire and read the books in time to participate in the club. The latest selection is “Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet” by John Bradshaw.

To give a feel for the blog, below are the subjects of three recent posts.

• Animal books that changed your life – She gets responses from readers and colleagues on animal books that changed the course of their lives. One book on the list is “The Culture Clash” by Jean Donaldson (which I coincidentally am reading now) about how the way pets are portrayed in popular culture harms our ability to train our own animals. And another is a children’s book called “Mustang, Wild Spirit of the West” by Marguerite Henry; the person who recommended it says the book inspired her love of horses and showed her the power that one person – in this case, Wild Horse Annie – has to make positive change.

• Interesting pet-related stories around the web in the past month – this is a recurring feature.

• A look at a study about how dogs’ personality traits – such as aggression – change as they age.

SkepVet: This blog is written by a practicing veterinarian who casts a skeptical eye at alternative medicine and anecdotal treatment recommendations for pets. Posts are infrequent but almost always worth the wait. Below are three recent post topics.

• “A Detailed, Evidence-Based Response to Petco’s Ban on ‘Artificial’ Food Ingredients” – 204 footnotes!

• A look at herbalists trying to achieve recognition as a medical specialty from the American Board of Veterinary Specialties. The blog’s author notes, “Very few herbal remedies have been properly tested scientifically, so there is an insufficient foundation of knowledge to justify a specialty.”

• “Don’t give raw milk to your pets!” – which looks at a recent advertisement for a new pet product made of raw goat milk.

Faunalytics: This nonprofit organization and website isn’t aimed at pet owners but rather at those who advocate on behalf of animals. It rounds up research – about farm, wild and companion animals – to help people be better advocates by knowing what the research really says about claims they might make.

Faunalytics sends out a monthly email distilling its blog posts. Below are three recent articles.

• A look at recent research on the long-term effects of human expansion on wildlife.

• A monthly Harper’s Index-like roundup of numbers related to animals, such as 3.4 to 4.4 times (the factor by which sexually intact cats are more likely to be relinquished to shelters) and 82 (the percentage of U.S. adults who have given money to a companion animal charity).

• What is being done to create more empathy in large-animal veterinarians, who were found in a survey to consider freedom from pain and distress less important for farm animals than other animals.

Mark Robison lives outside Reno and is co-executive director of Maddie's Pet Project in Nevada. Reach him at mrobison@humanenetwork.org.

CAPTION: Mark’s cat Lokie helps him at the computer.

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