Top 10 Pet Stories of 2009

Vladimir Negron
Dec 23, 2009
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PetMD looks back at the year in pet news


December 22, 2009

#10 The Teacup Pig Craze

When the potbellied pig craze reached fever pitch in the '90s, tens of thousands of pigs were bought by unsuspecting suburbanites as pets. The only problem, the cute little piglets eventually grew up -- some weighing as much as 300 pounds once fully matured. This caused many owners to dump their potbellies into pig sanctuaries, where some estimate as many as 250,000 pigs ended up. Pig breeders, however, refused to let go of such a lucrative opportunity and continued to try to engineer smaller and smaller porkers. Then in 2009 demand soared for the new, so-called teacup pigs, which breeders claim typically weigh between 30 and 65 pounds. Suddenly posh celebs such as Paris Hilton and David and Victoria Beckham were buying teacup piggies to add to their animal collection. Critics warn the idea of miniaturizing a pig is a zoological contradiction and may lead to another wave of abandoned piggies by unscrupulous animal craze fanatics.

#9 HAPPY Act Proponents Seek Tax Deductions for Pet Owners

The Human and Pets Partnered Through the Years (HAPPY) Act introduced by Rep. Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan in July brought much praise and controversy. If approved, H.R. 3501 would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow an individual to deduct up to $3,500 for "qualified pet care expenses." Those who disapprove of the bill argue there are more important issues facing the country today and better use of taxpayer dollars, but as the unemployment rate continues to rise and the state of the economy remains relatively unchanged, proponents of the act insist that pet owners should also see some relief from the government -- just as banks, investment firms, and the auto industry have received theirs. To many pet owners, their animals are more than just household additions -- they are members of the family. The bill is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee and should be addressed in 2010.

#8 Animal Cruelty Case Reaches U.S. Supreme Court

The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America protects our right to free speech, except when dealing with certain inexcusable subjects, such as animal cruelty. So when pit bull breeder Robert J. Stevens of Virginia was sentenced to three years in prison for selling videos containing graphic footage of organized pit bull fighting, his representatives argued that his case was based on a statute that was too loosely defined: the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Law. While many cases based on this statute have surfaced since it was enacted in 1999, United States v. Stevens is the first of those cases that has reached the Supreme Court. Many U.S. citizens are now torn between the sanctity of the First Amendment and the horrors of animal cruelty.

#7 First Cancer Drug for Dogs Approved by FDA

Veterinarians everywhere were thrilled when the first U.S. drug developed specifically for the treatment of canine cancer was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June. Palladia, chemically known as toceranib phosphate, helps by killing canine mast cell tumors (the second most common tumor type seen in dogs, according to Pfizer) and/or by cutting off blood supply to the tumor. Prior to this approval, veterinarians had to rely on human oncology drugs, without knowledge of how safe or effective they would be for dogs. Palladia will be available for use in early 2010.

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