Companies fined for leasing dogs to their owners

Brian Niemietz

A pair of financial companies that were leasing dogs to Massachusetts pet owners will waive the remaining balances owed on dozens of animals, according to the Massachusetts attorney general.

Nevada based companies Credova Financial, LLC and Nextep Holdings, LLC will reportedly forgive $126,000 in balances and give full ownership to dog owners who took out a lease to buy their family pet. Leasing dogs is legal in some states, though Massachusetts, where Thursday’s case was settled, isn’t one of them. Those two companies also agreed to pay $50,000 to the state.

According to the AG’s office, some pet stores allow owners to take out leases to finance a dog, much the same way some people purchase cars. If a payment is missed, the dog can be repossessed. Such loans are said to often come with high finance charges.

In announcing the settlement, attorney General Maura Healey said dog ownership is a big investment for families, both financially and emotionally.

“When the dog is used as collateral in a lease, the end result can be expensive and heartbreaking,” Healey said.

Artist creates amazing polymer clay art depicting landscapes, animals, and figures

Alisa Lariushkina holding one of her framed polymer clay art

This artist from Gothenburg, Sweden, uses polymer air-dry clay to make the most mesmerizing art pieces.

Alisa Lariushkina’s works of art are inspired by famous painters such as Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh. Using Japanese air-dry clay, Alisa makes depictions of landscapes, animals, flowers, and more.Instagram

Considering how excellent her works are, you would be surprised to know that Alisa is actually a self-taught artist. She has been working with air-dry polymer clay for about six years now using her own technique.

Alisa Lariushkina’s polymer clay art

“Each piece of clay I form with my hands and then glue the pieces together,” she tells Modern Met. “I make figures, ornaments basically in animal theme, and also recently I started making framed landscapes.”

Instead of strokes on a plain canvas, Alisa uses her sculpting tools to shape colorful polymer pieces into wavy and swirling lines. She then packs these elements together, creating a dense layout full of texture.

Some of her framed landscapes are based on well-known paintings. The rest are her original designs inspired by natural surroundings and photography.

Alisa has an exceptional talent for transforming real-life scenery into textured dreamscapes. She recreates outdoor places using her signature style, where clouds become solid white dollops and flowers become coils of clay.Instagram

This artist regularly shares her art and how she makes them on her Instagram, and her fans just couldn’t get enough of her genius. Here are some of the comments they left on her posts.

“So beautiful Alisa!! I’ve never seen anything like this before, and I absolutely love your process videos, they’re so relaxing to watch.”

“I came across your page yesterday, I am in awe of your work it is ALL just breathtaking.”

“I ADORE your technique and concept on your pieces!!”

Luckily, you can own one (or more) of these gorgeous creations.

Alisa’s artworks are available for purchase in her Etsy shop. In a recent announcement on the platform, she said she tries to update her shop with at least one new landscape per month.

Alisa’s schedule is jampacked as she is currently busy working on custom orders. So if you want to order one, you’d have to wait until July.

She wrote: “If you’d like something similar to my previous works and request a custom order please come in July. Due to the amount of work and the fact that I’m moving soon I recommend everyone to come in July! Thank you!!”

Check out the gallery below to see more of Alisa’s beautiful clay art.

Starry Night

Alisa Lariushkina’s polymer clay art


Two Sparrows

Alisa Lariushkina’s polymer clay art


A Pearl On The Beach

Alisa Lariushkina’s polymer clay art


Ornament Trio

Alisa Lariushkina’s polymer clay art


Underwater Scenery

Alisa Lariushkina’s polymer clay art


Cat Brooch

Alisa Lariushkina’s polymer clay art


Pastel Landscape

Alisa Lariushkina’s polymer clay art


Van Gogh’s Cypresses

Alisa Lariushkina’s polymer clay art


Blues And Greens

Alisa Lariushkina’s polymer clay art


Swirling Clouds


Alisa Lariushkina’s polymer clay art

Keep up to date with Alisa Lariushkina’s latest projects by following her on Instagram, Pinterest, and DeviantArt.

Pennsylvania’s climate normals

Fracking Increases Risk of Heart Attack: Study

Chemical Free Life

As we have reported many times over the years, there is a growing body of scientific research linking fracking to serious adverse health outcomes* (scroll down to see a list of some of those scientific findings**). The hydraulic fracking process involves the use of fracturing fluid products—water combined with a cocktail of toxic chemicals—to extract gas and oil from shale rock deep beneath the earth’s surface. A number of toxic chemicals commonly used in the fracking process have been linked in scientific research to chronic toxicity, teratogenicity, developmental neurotoxicity and carcinogenicity***.   Now, scientists have uncovered a link between living near fracking activity and an increased risk for heart attacks. 

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New research compared the health impacts of fracking on either side of the New York and Pennsylvania border and found that people who live in areas with a high concentration of fracking wells are at higher risk for…

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Popular Dog Treats Removed from Stores | Dog Food Advisor

Zukes Mini Naturals Dog Treats Package

April 30, 2021 — Zuke’s has voluntarily removed its popular Zuke’s Mini Naturals Dog Treats from retail stores due to “a potential quality issue”.

In an online letter to customers, the company states this is “not a recall” and that the cause is “not a food safety issue”.

Dog Food Advisor has requested and is awaiting a company response. We’ll update this page as soon as more information is available.

Company Response

In response to our request for more information, Zuke’s replied:

“At this time, we are proactively and voluntarily removing our Zuke’s Mini Naturals products from sale due to a quality issue.

“Zuke’s is a natural product, which uses a natural preservation system. We have identified a product quality issue during recent production with instances where the natural preservation system may not be working as effective as it should. While not a food safety issue, we are proactively and voluntarily removing Zuke’s Mini Naturals from sale because we want pet parents to continue to have the best experience with our products.

“Since this step is being taken due to a quality issue, we are not asking pet parents to return the product. If you are not completely satisfied with your Zuke’s purchase, we are always happy to issue a refund. Please reach out to our Pet Parent Relations team here.”

Which Products Have Been Removed?

The following dog treats are affected by the company’s action.

Zukes Mini Naturals Dog Treats Affected by Withdrawal

What to Do?

For more information, consumers may contact Zuke’s Customer Service.

Zuke’s has asked pet food retailers to immediately remove all affected products from sale.

And to “promptly dispose of all Zuke’s Mini Naturals products in a safe and lawful manner that ensures the product does not re-enter the marketplace”.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to the FDA’s “Report a Pet Food Complaint” page.

New York Court of Appeals Agrees to Hear Landmark Elephant Rights Case | Nonhuman Rights Project

Today, the New York Court of Appeals—one of the most influential state courts in the United States—agreed to hear the habeas corpus case of our elephant client Happy, an autonomous and cognitively complex nonhuman animal who has been imprisoned at the Bronx Zoo for over four decades. This marks the first time in history that the highest court of any English-speaking jurisdiction will hear a habeas corpus case brought on behalf of someone other than a human being.

In 2018, the Nonhuman Rights Project brought a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on Happy’s behalf, seeking recognition of her fundamental right to bodily liberty and transfer to an elephant sanctuary. Happy became the first elephant in the world to be granted a hearing to determine the lawfulness of her imprisonment. Following several days of hearings, the trial court “regrettably” denied Happy’s petition because of prior court decisions, which will now be examined for the first time by the Court of Appeals.

Happy’s case has been supported from the start by leading scientists, philosophers, habeas corpus scholars, legal experts, theologians, and the wider public throughout the country and the world. Having begun the fight for nonhuman rights in New York eight years ago, we are thrilled the Court of Appeals has recognized the urgent public importance of Happy’s case and hope she will soon become the first elephant and nonhuman animal in the US to have her right to bodily liberty judicially recognized.

To learn more about Happy and her court case, click here. To join the over one million people who’ve signed her petition, click here. To make a donation to help ensure the legal fight for elephant rights is as strong as it can be, now and until all elephants can live freely, click here

Rescuers build custom barge to save 9 critically endangered Rothschild’s giraffes from sinking island

A young giraffe

Rothschild’s giraffes used to wander across Kenya, Uganda, and southern Sudan in massive herds. But that was three decades ago.

The situation looks a lot different now, as the Rothschild’s giraffe population has dropped by around 80% in the last three decades.

Because of this, experts say they’re “arguably one of the most imperiled giraffe subspecies.” Sadly, only about 3,000 of them remain in Kenya and Uganda today.Facebook

A small herd of Rothschild’s giraffes has lived on Longicharo Island in Lake Baringo, Kenya, since 2011. However, as climate change worsens, the lake’s waters continue to rise, causing the island where these giraffes live to slowly start to sink.

This cuts the herd off from food sources and leads to repeated flooding in their habitat.

Animal activists knew they needed to act before these critically endangered animals further dwindle in numbers. So, 15 months ago, Save Giraffes Now, the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Ruko Community Conservancy, and the Northern Rangelands Trust came together to craft a rescue plan.


Their brainstorming resulted in creating a customized barge known as the “GiRaft,” which is a barge with very tall walls that would be kept afloat by 60 empty drums and towed by boats.

Of course, the giraffes had to get acquainted with the barge first to make the relocation process easier. So, rescuers filled it with treats and left it afloat on the shore for days, allowing the mammals to get comfortable walking in and out of the barge independently.

Then, they started luring over the giraffes one by one and trapping them aboard. After securing them into the raft, the animals are floated 1 mile across the lake toward the Ruko Community Conservancy, a 44,000-acre sanctuary located on higher ground.Facebook

In December 2020, a female giraffe named Asiwa made the journey to her new home.

Gradually, seven giraffes were brought to the sanctuary. The last pair left was a mother named Nkarikoni and her calf, Noelle, born on the flooded island around Christmastime. The rescuers waited until she was strong enough to make the trip.

Finally, on April 12, 2021, the rescue mission came to an end when mama giraffe and her little one were floated to their new home!

Save Giraffes Now shared the happy news on their Instagram:

“We are thrilled to announce that all 9 #RukoGiraffe have been floated safely to the mainland! They are safely off their flooding island and at their new home, a 4,400-acre sanctuary at Ruko Community Conservancy, where they have been reunited and will live happily ever after!”Facebook

Efforts like these are crucial if mankind hopes to save endangered species like the Rothschild’s giraffe.

According to Save Giraffes Now president David O’Connor, giraffes are going through a “silent extinction,” so each one that can be saved matters.

This rescue operation is also significant because it united two communities in Kenya—the Njemps and Pokot—that have been locked in conflict for generations. Despite their differences, they were able to work together toward the common goal of saving the Rothschild’s giraffes.

Now, rangers say the giraffes are looking happy and healthy in their new habitat.

A Rothschild giraffe in a custom barge on a lake

“The management of Ruko Sanctuary, in collaboration with the local community, has done a commendable job in efforts to conserve this rare species. Indeed, Ruko Sanctuary is a model conservation initiative worth replicating elsewhere,” said Dr. Isaac Lekolool, senior veterinary officer for Kenya Wildlife Service.Facebook

According to Dr. Lekolool, this project also marks the reintroduction of these giraffes to the mainland for the first time in 70 years.

A Rothschild giraffe in a custom barge on a lake

The long-term goal of the rescue group is to introduce other Rothschild’s giraffes from other places in Kenya to those living in the Ruko Community Conservancy. This will help create a genetically healthy population of giraffes that can eventually be released into another environment outside the sanctuary.

A Rothschild giraffe hopping out of a barge

If you want to learn more about Save Giraffes Now and its partners in this rescue operation, you can visit the organization’s project website.

Please share this story with your family and friends.