Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Why drugs are bad for fish, dogs in real estate and another reason not to leave your dog in the car

Juvenile chinook salmon in Washington's Puget Sound tested positive for cocaine, antidepressants and other drugs.

Today’s leading story is less to do with companion animals and more to do with wildlife and ecosystems, but it is fascinating. A recent study found that fish in Puget Sound, Washington, have high levels ofcocaine and antidepressants in their systems.

Human medications in the water have all sorts of ramifications. High levels of oestrogen from contraceptives may be associated with greater numbers of intersex fish; while anxiolytics like alprazolam (known to many as Xanax) and diazepam (known to many as Valium) can alter fish behaviour. These fish were more likely to eat faster (impacting the local ecosystem) and expose themselves to predators (impacting the fish population).

This points to a dire need to improve treatment of waste water before it is released back into the environment, but also serves as a reminder for those who do dispose of drugs by flushing them down the toilet – don’t. Take them to a pharmacy instead.

Do animals give some properties the edge?

In a community desperately short of animal-friendly accommodation, at least one real estate agent is claiming they do. Queenslandreal estate agent Tracey Ashley takes her dog Tiffany to work. Tiffany’s “job” is to pose in real estate photos. Ashley claims this is a point of difference. It’s certainly a nice way to draw attention to the fact that a property might be suitable for companion animals, and one that the rental market might use to its advantage.

Another reason not to leave dogs in cars

Leaving animals (or humans, for that matter) unattended in vehicles risks heat stress. Last week a presumably unwitting Labrador highlighted a lesser-known hazard of leaving the dog in an idling vehicle while you duck out for an errand: knocking that vehicle into gear.

In this case the vehicle happened to be a semi-trailer, which once engaged ploughed through a tree and a car before a fast-thinking bystander jumped into the cabin and put the brakes on.