Friday, July 22, 2011

Pets on the front lines of pesticide dangers - The St. John’s Telegram

July 21, 2011

The St. John’s Telegram

Pets on the front lines of pesticide dangers

by Glenn Redmond, Pet Connection

Growing up as a boy in Torbay, most of my chores centred on outside maintenance. I cannot recall ever cooking a meal or throwing in a load of laundry, but I have vivid memories of massive snowstorms and mowing the lawn.

With a standard snow shovel in hand, and without the aid of any motorized machinery, the four-car parking area outside the family home had to be cleared before I could enjoy more desirable snow activities.

The lawn, on the other hand, was both my nemesis and my best friend. The green area on back of the house was big enough to play baseball, complete with all four bases and an outfield. As a 12-year-old, it was still a job to hit a home run over the fence.

The problem was the bloody thing had to be mowed, which required six hours of tedious back and forth motions with a push mower that I felt really infringed on my social life.

My objective was only to keep it short and tidy. Its lustrous green utopian appearance was left in the hands of nature’s desires. I do not remember ever imposing any sort of chemical on the grass I both loved and hated.

As time went on, and more media and advertising came to fruition in the form of cable TV, lawns took on more of a leading role in the coiffed appearance so desired by urban professionals for their private home oasis. Ads even showed neighbours competing for bragging rights for the greenest and most perfect lawn. Nobody seemed too concerned over the chemicals and pesticides used to achieve the green, green grass of home.

Over the past decade, there has been increasing pressure to ban chemicals and pesticides that have been linked to human health issues. Last week, the Newfoundland and Labrador government joined Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island when it announced a ban on the use of cosmetic lawn pesticides that comes into effect in 2012.

The news has pet owners rejoicing, as pets are exposed to a higher concentration of pesticides than humans. They are smaller in stature, use their nose and mouths to explore and clean themselves and have continued direct contact to the ground.

Every year it is estimated that thousands of pets die or develop health issues by coming in contact with lawn chemicals. Whether it’s a fun game of fetch or a lazy roll under the heat of the sun, most pets spend more time than any other family member on the lawn.

And remember, it does not have to be your own lawn for pets to be exposed. A dog or a cat out for a walk has greater desires to use their nasal capacities sniffing grass than concrete. On the other hand, the person at the other end of the leash walks upright, sticking more to the paved road than interacting with neighbourhood lawns.

A common herbicide ingredient, 2,4-D (which is on the Newfoundland and Labrador government list of banned chemicals), has been linked to canine malignant lymphoma. According to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, dogs and cats exposed to 2,4D are dying of cancer at twice the normal rates.

As well, a study published in the American Veterinary Association found significantly increased risk of bladder cancer in canines exposed to lawn and garden pesticides. Other pesticides have been linked to thyroid problems in cats, as well as aggression concerns in normally docile dogs.

The summer of 2012 is still a year away. That means pesticide use is still alive and well and pets remain at risk. Avoid exposure by not walking your pet in areas that have been sprayed with pesticides. Be aware of standing water in and around lawns from which your pet may choose to quench its thirst. At the very least, try using organic alternatives on your own lawn to stop the chemical-laden cycle.

If you have any suspicions at all that your pet has been poisoned by pesticides, don’t delay. Seek veterinarian assistance immediately.

Glenn Redmond is an animal trainer and behaviourist, animal wrangler and stunt man. He lives in C.B.S. with his wife Tasha and cats Lou-lou and Bluey. Contact him at


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Glenn Redmond

Glenn Redmond graduated from Carleton University with a degree in Psychology and Sociology. He worked as a behavioral therapist for many years before turning his attention to animals. He attained the credentials of both Certified Obedience Trainer and Certified Protection Trainer from the North American Guard Dog and Training School in Langley, British Columbia.

Now a member of the IATZE film union, Glenn became involved in the television and movie industry as the head trainer for the popular family program, Animal Miracles. Having 85 head trainer credits for TV and film behind him, Glenn has also appeared on camera seven times as a stuntman. He has trained and coordinated shoots with domestic as well as exotic and wild animals such as alpacas, alligators and bears. Other film credits include commercials, the TV show Hatching Matching and Dispatching, and the feature film, Young Triffy Gets Made Away With.

Glenn has given seminars on Aggression for both the Vancouver Dog Association and the St. John's SPCA. He has been a guest many times on both radio and television as an aggression specialist on each side of the country. He is also actively involved in the SPCA Bite Free Program, educating children on how to be safe around dogs.

Glenn is an accredited Shutzhund Trial Helper and is currently a helper with the North Atlantic Shutzhund Club. He is also a Mentor Trainer for the Animal Behavior College in California. Having sold his business interests in Vancouver in 2002, Glenn now resides in Conception Bay South with his wife Natasha, dog Dakota, and cat Lou.
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St. John's Daily Spray Advisory

My Past Articles

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Above Articles available through Trancontinental Newsnet

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