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San Diego at Large

Trying to Keep Holiday From Going to the Dogs

June 23, 1987|JANNY SCOTT

These are the times that try dogs' souls.

Independence Day, it seems, can be bad news for Bowzer--firecrackers exploding, fish hooks flying, half-eaten hamburgers descending from paper plates. There's heat stroke, indigestion and family-induced frenzy sufficient to push a once well-mannered pet over the edge.

So the San Diego County Veterinary Medical Assn. has chosen this year to champion the interests of pets, the Fourth of July victims of owners' misguided largess. Towards that end, the association is promoting the following pointers against inadvertent pet abuse:

- Resist the temptation to indulge your Akita with cheeseburgers and barbecue-flavored potato chips. Before lobbing a gnawed drumstick to your Pomeranian, remember the wreckage that can be wrought in a dog's gut by a splintered chicken bone.

- Avoid locking the Lhasa apso in the Volvo with the windows sealed shut. When fishing, keep your hooked catch away from your schnauzer's moist nose. Take the dogs inside before your pyrotechnic display, unless you're prepared to replace the French doors.

"That's always a big problem with dogs," Dr. Guy Tarvin, president of the association, confided this week.

" . . . We see at least one or two a year in emergency clinics where they jump through windows."

Finally, if your cat looks a little under the weather July 5: Skip the Tylenol.

Down With Radicals

Disgusted by continuing reports that everything is hazardous to your health? Irked by the news that even peanut butter can do you in? Check out the topic of this international confab scheduled for late June in San Diego:

The darker side of oxygen!

Yes, even good old "O" has its drawbacks--largely in the form of characters called oxygen radicals. Oxygen radicals are the charged part of a molecule with oxygen in it, we are told. They are highly reactive, attack other molecules and change them through chemical reactions.

These days, oxygen radicals are taking at least partial blame for such things as arthritis, effects of aging and heart attack damage. They are culprits in food spoilage, chemical damage to DNA and deterioration of transplant organs.

And then, there's Porcine Stress Syndrome.

It seems that years of pig in-breeding to capture commercially desirable characteristics such as fast growth have had some undesirable side-effects --specifically, a genetic abnormality in some pigs' normal defense systems against oxygen radicals.

So under certain stressful conditions, such as sex, some pigs develop Porcine Stress Syndrome. According to a spokesman for one of the conference co-sponsors, the stress results in skyrocketing body temperatures, tissue damage and even porcine death.

Unimpressed?

According to Michael Baum, a public affairs specialist with the National Bureau of Standards, which is co-sponsoring the weeklong conference at UC San Diego, an abstract from a team of researchers in Scotland pegs the cost of Porcine Stress Syndrome at "untold millions of dollars a year in the worldwide pig industry."

Not a Bosom Buddy

The man who calls himself George has a problem. He likes calling up women in San Diego to talk about breasts. His ploy entails pretending to be affiliated with UC San Diego Medical Center and offering free mammograms for detection of breast cancer.

Sometimes the man offers tips about underwear. Other times he leaves a phone number--where no one can be reached. On one occasion, he told a woman to appear outside the hospital on a Saturday morning. He, however, failed to show.

A half-dozen women have contacted the UCSD Medical Center Radiology Department in recent months, inquiring about George's free offers. Now the hospital and the police are encouraging women to hang up on George and contact instead the San Diego Police Department.

"They want to stress that women should use common sense," said Sheri Smith, a UCSD Medical Center spokeswoman. "If somebody's offering something that sounds too good to be true, think about it, because it probably is."

Go to 'Hed' of Class

County education officials convened a press conference Friday to trumpet the fact that high schools were meeting state standards. The categories included such things as science enrollment, dropout rates, standardized test scores and speling.

Uh, that's spelling.

In their press release touting the accomplishments of individual schools, they misspelled the name of one of their own principals. The school was Lincoln Preparatory High School, a school with largely minority and low-income students that met 15 of the 20 performance standards.

Principal Ruby Cremaschi-Schwimmer--whose students, for convenience, call her "Dr. C"--seemed accustomed to the error and took no offense. Forgiving, she mused later, "It's even hard for me to say."

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