Cat domestication traced to early Chinese farms

December 16, 2013

The earliest evidence for cat domestication comes from Chinese farms dating to 5,300 years ago, a new study confirms.

While ancient Egyptians loved their felines, it looks like China beat Egypt as being the first to discover the merits of cats. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pinpoint the early Chinese village of Quanhucun as being the likely ground zero for cat domestication

“At least three different lines of scientific inquiry allow us to tell a story about cat domestication that is reminiscent of the old ‘house that Jack built’ nursery rhyme,” study co-author Fiona Marshall, a professor of archaeology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, said in a press release.

“Our data suggest that cats were attracted to ancient farming villages by small animals, such as rodents that were living on the grain that the farmers grew, ate and stored.”

She continued, “Results of this study show that the village of Quanhucun was a source of food for the cats 5,300 years ago, and the relationship between humans and cats was commensal, or advantageous for the cats. Even if these cats were not yet domesticated, our evidence confirms that they lived in close proximity to farmers, and that the relationship had mutual benefits.

Marshall, study leader Yaowu Hu, and their colleagues analyzed eight bones from at least two cats excavated from the site. The researchers found that the cats were eating grain millet grown by the farmers. One of the cats was aged, revealing that it survived well in the village. Yet another ate so much human-grown grain that the researchers suspect it was fed.

The researchers also determined that farmers then were battling rodents, since they found an ancient rodent burrow into a grain storage pit and grain storage pots designed to be rodent proof. It probably didn’t take long for the farmers to figure out that the cats went after the rats and mice, so they were good animals to keep around.

Analysis of dog and pig remains found that these animals were also eating millet, but deer at the site were not.

Cats must have carved a successful niche for themselves in a society that thrived on the widespread cultivation of the grain millet.

The felines at this time descended from the Near Eastern wildcat, which might have been the primary ancestor of all domesticated cats alive today.

“We do not yet know whether these cats came to China from the Near East, whether they interbred with Chinese wild-cat species, or even whether cats from China played a previously unsuspected role in domestication,” Marshall said.

(Image: Phil Roeder, Flickr)

NEW MEXICO, State boarded abused horses with man accused of animal cruelty

NM: State boarded
abused horses with man accused of animal cruelty


By Colleen Heild / Journal Investigative Reporter |

New Mexico Livestock Board officials hired Southwest Livestock Auction of Los Lunas to care for four abused horses in September, at the same time its proprietor was facing animal cruelty charges filed as the result of a board investigation.

State records show the agency’s executive director approved a purchase order of $1,500 in late August for the auction operation to “feed abused
livestock” for the state.

A subsequent invoice shows the Livestock Board boarded four horses at theLos Lunas property for 13 days beginning Sept. 21, resulting in a bill of $260.

The four horses were seized by the Livestock Board as part of an animal cruelty case unrelated to the high profile charges auction owner Dennis V.Chavez was facing at the time…

…There’s also ongoing discussions about using a state Corrections Department property in Springer to board horses instead of relying on private contractors, he said.

“We don’t have a place to go with all these horses that we’re picking up,”he said. “What are we supposed to do? Put them in our parking lot?”

USDA/APHIS Lawsuit filed today 12/16/13


On December 16, 2013 a Lawsuit was filed in the Federal District Court in Washington DC that asks the Court to declare that the Retail Pet Store Rule is “arbitrary, capricious and inconsistent”  with law, and to remand the Rule back to the USDA.  The Lawsuit also seeks an injunction that would bar the USDA from enforcing the Retail  Pet Store Rule.  The “Complaint” in the Lawsuit was filed on behalf of 42 Plaintiffs that consisted of Dog and Cat Clubs, Associations and a Registry.  Those 42 Plaintiffs included nearly 19,000 breeders who potentially would be adversely affected by the Rule.  Those 42 Plaintiffs represent less than 1% of the more than 5,500 Dog and Cat Clubs in the U.S., which supports the assertion that the Rule potentially affects far, far, far more than the 4,640 breeders that APHIS stated was the maximum number of breeders who potentially would be affected by the Rule.  One of the cornerstone assertions in the Complaint is the fact that APHIS failed to document how it arrived at its figure of 4,640 breeders, which figure is exponentially below the number of hobby breeders who potentially could be affect by the Rule.

The Complaint also highlights deficiencies in the flawed cost analysis that woefully underestimated the cost of compliance.    Of note, was APHIS’s repeated use of the words “unknown,” “not known” and “uncertainty” in the mandatory Regulatory Impact Assessment and Cost Analysis that were prepared by APHIS.  In short, APHIS’s Regulatory Impact Assessment and the Cost Analysis are irrevocably flawed.  Another flaw that was cited in the Complaint included the fact that USDA redefined the definition of a “retail pet store” without any statutory authority to do so.

Additional assertions included the failure of APHIS to address a number of issues that were raised in the 1,000s of Public Comments that were submitted to APHIS.  Those issues included, but were not limited to, cost of compliance; privacy; increased risk of spread of deadly diseases; increased risk of harassment by Animal Rights extremists; potential degradation of gene pools and loss of rare breeds; and lingering confusion that necessitated “Webinars” after the effective date of the Rule; and National Security.

Prior to the  filing of the Lawsuit, a formal request was made to Secretary Vilsack to place a 60 day moratorium on the enforcement of the Rule, which was based in part on the following sentence:  “Moreover, APHIS’s hosting of two webinars after the effective date indicates that it concedes the requirements and scope of the Rule are not easy to understand.”   While it is unlikely that the Secretary will grant the request, the request was made to demonstrate an urgent need for injunctive relief.

In addition to the Lawsuit being filed, a Request for an Expedited Hearing will be submitted to the Court. 

We wish to take this opportunity to express our profound appreciation for the financial support of this endeavor by so many Clubs and Individuals.  Thank You!

We will continue to post up-dates on the status of the Lawsuit on this site.

TEXAS, HOUSTON, animal rights group files federal complaint about UH

December 13, 2013

By Carol Christian |

An animal rights group has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture against the University of Houston over a rabbit death and deprivation of water to monkeys.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now!, a research watchdog group, filed the complaint Friday.
In a news release Friday, the group referred to a USDA inspection last month that documented citations against the university over the two issues.

The Ohio-based watchdog group called for a third citation for inadequate veterinary care and the maximum federal fine of $10,000 per infraction, for a possible total fine of $30,000…..

NEW MEXICO, Appeals court. Horse slaughterhouses can reopen

December 13, 2013

Jeri Clausing, AP Business

Appeals court removes temporary ban on companies in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa.

Companies in New Mexico and Missouri could begin slaughtering horses within a few weeks after a federal appeals court removed a temporary ban that was preventing domestic horse slaughter from resuming for the first time since 2007.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver lifted an emergency injunction Friday that it had issued in November after animal protection groups appealed the ruling of a federal judge in Albuquerque. The judge said the U.S. Department of Agriculture followed proper procedure in issuing permits to Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, N.M., Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, Mo., and Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa. The appeals court’s order Friday said the groups “failed to meet their burden for an injunction pending appeal.”

Blair Dunn, an attorney for Valley Meat and Rains Natural Meats, said the order lifts the emergency status of the case, meaning it will likely be months before a final decision is issued.

Dunn said the plants are ready to open, although they could agree to remain shuttered if the plaintiffs agree to post a sufficient bond to cover the companies’ losses should they ultimately prevail…..

WYOMING, Cheyenne Animal Shelter Defends HSUS

December 13, 2013
Markley – email

A misleading report by was released Thursday stating that the Humane Society of the United States has contributed zero dollars to animal shelters in Wyoming.

While technically true, the job the Humane Society is not to donate money.Instead, they provide valuable services to animal shelters around the state and right here in Laramie County.
Cheyenne Animal Shelter President and CEO, Bob Fecht, says the Humane Society does a lot of good for them by providing valuable services such as training for their staff and sending lobbyists to Wyoming to fight for them on legislative issues.

KANSAS, Garden City to revisit breed discrimatory law

December 12, 2013

A Garden City attorney has asked the city commission to re-evaluate the cities breed discriminatory law, which was passed in 2002.
The current law labels the American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier, and mixed breeds that have “the appearance of being predominantly one of those three breeds” as automatically vicious.
This designation carries with it requirements that must be met if the dog is to be kept in the city. From the current city code:

“The owner of a vicious dog shall be subject to the following requirements:

(1)Confinement. All vicious dogs shall be securely confined indoors or in an enclosed and locked pen or structure upon the premises of the owner. The pen or structure must have minimum dimensions of five feet by ten feet and must have secure sides and a secure top attached to the sides. If no bottom is secured to the sides, the sides must be embedded into the ground no less than two feet. All pens or structures must be adequately lighted and kept clean and sanitary. The enclosure must also protect the dog from the elements.

(2)Leash and muzzle. The owner of a vicious dog shall not allow the dog to go outside its kennel, pen, or structure unless the dog is muzzled, restrained by a chain or leash not more than four feet in length, and under the physical control of a person. The muzzle must not cause injury to the dog or interfere with its vision or respiration but must prevent the dog from biting any human or animal.

(3)Signs. The owner of a vicious dog shall display in a prominent place on the owner’s premises a clearly visible warning sign indicating that there is a vicious dog on the premises. The sign must be readable from the public highway, street, or thoroughfare. The owner shall also display a sign with a symbol warning children of the presence of a vicious dog. Similar signs shall be posted on the dog’s kennel, pen, or enclosed structure.”

These things are also required of dogs, who based on their behavior, have been declared vicious. The request is to remove the breed based language from the law, leaving the vicious dog ordinance in place.
City officials have agreed that since the law had not been evaluated in over ten years that it would be worth evaluating now.
The city attorney is drafting changes to the ordinance and the changes will be brought forward at an upcoming meeting that has yet to be given a date.

Residents are encouraged to reach out to the commission to support a repeal. Please write to encourage the commission to remove the breed discriminatory language and to strengthen the breed neutral portion of the law to keep the community safe. There are ways in which the breed neutral portion of the law can be strengthened. For example, there is currently no definition of a potentially dangerous dog. A dog is either vicious or it isn’t. Having more nuanced categories allows officials to do something about a dog that may not be vicious but is not being kept in the safest way possible in the community. A reckless owner ordinance would also be a fantastic replacement for the breed discriminatory law, because it puts continued responsibility on the owner, even after they may get rid of a dog that has been declared vicious.

Be polite, factual and thank the commission for being willing to discuss the issue.,,,,

Filed under: Proposal to Repeal, Uncategorized