Saturday, January 3, 2015

Phil in the news

Phil is "in" the paper - featuring Leesha McKenny's dog Colin.
This week Phil’s genetic identity was revealed in the Sydney Morning Herald in an article about DNA testing of dogs by journalist Leesha McKenny. She was looking at the reasons people might use DNA testing – in truth there are many. In my experience, curiosity about a dog’s background is a common reason, but there are others: questions about the dog’s ideal weight, questions about expected behaviour based on breed, confirmation that the animal is a pure bred, confirmation it is not a dangerous breed, identification of dogs for council and civil matters etc.

DNA tests do not provide comprehensive answers to many of these questions and the tests are only as good as the technology they employ. Read more here.

Phil, a maltese, with the paper and Louis - a chihuahua. Both have domed heads and big chihuahua eyes, but in Phil's case that's apparently just a coincidence.
Whilst looking through the paper we found some other interesting companion animal related topics, such as the seemingly age-old question of whether native animals should be allowed as pets (see the article here).

In fact many species already are, but a license is generally required. Quite apart from the paperwork the bigger issue is whether being kept in captivity is appropriate for wildlife (we can forget that dogs and cats have been domesticated over thousands of years) and the fact that their husbandry and dietary requirements are very different for dogs and cats. Simply ascribing pet status to a wild animal does not automatically guarantee good welfare – in fact it may mean the opposite in some cases. So we need to proceed carefully. Such a move would also require substantial re-training of humans – just as we’ve domesticated pets, they’ve trained us.

If you were President of a country, what changes would you make? The President of Argentina ruled that people could carry small dogs on their laps on the national air carrier. I’m all for pets in the cabin, but it’s interesting that the article pitches this development against her other priorities. See what you think, the article can be found here.