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AVMA Adopts Policy Against Raw Feeding

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AVMA Adopts Policy Against Raw Feeding

AVMA Adopts Policy Against Raw Feeding

In August 2012, the American Veterinary Medical Association officially passed a policy discouraging the feeding of raw or undercooked animal-source protein in cat and dog diets. According to the AVMA:

“This proposed policy is about mitigating public health risks, not about restricting or banning any products. Our policies are intended to present the scientific facts, which in this case are: 1) Scientific studies have shown that raw and undercooked protein can be sources of infection with Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium, E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and enterotoxigenic Staphylococcus aureus. These infections can sicken pets and pet owners alike, and can be life-threatening; 2) unless a raw protein product has been subjected to a process that eliminates pathogens that can make pets and people ill, it poses a significant public health risk to both pets and pet owners.” (1)

The AVMA states that their policy is “based on a thorough review of the scientific literature and are drafted by veterinarians with expertise in relevant fields (in this case, public health).” (1)

If that were the case, one would think they would instead be advising against the feeding of dry pet food and pet treats. After all, since 2009, there have been over 25 separate recalls for dry and canned pet foods, as well as treats, being contaminated with salmonella. Since 2007 (giving raw pet food 2 extra years to be recalled), there have only been 4 raw pet foods recalled for containing salmonella (2).

If the AVMA was so concerned with the safety of our pets and pet owners, one would think they would have referenced the recent Diamond recall, which involved 12 separate pet foods being recalled for salmonella. This recall also involved the Center for Disease Control reporting 49 people becoming ill, with 10 being hospitalized from the DRY pet food (3).

Moving on from Salmonella being the only concern for sickening our pets, in December 2011 there were 5 pet foods recalled for containing “above acceptable limits” of Aflatoxin. These foods include: Petrus, Arrow, Advanced Animal Nutrition, River Run, and Iams (4). Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by a certain species of mold commonly found in cereal grains. Apparently, there are actually “acceptable levels” of the toxin that is actually allowed in our pets’ food.

Other recent recalls involving dry and canned pet food include:

July 2012 – Dogswell Vitakitty treats were recalled for containing high levels of Propylene Glycol (a relative of antifreeze) found in the treats.

June 2012 – Select Pedigree cans recalled for containing small pieces of plastic that could pose a choking hazard

February 2011 – Select Wellness cat cans were recalled for not containing enough Thiamine (an essential nutrient for cats)

December 2010 – Select Kroger pet foods for containing Aflatoxin

October 2010 – Select Blue Buffalo pet foods for containing toxic levels of Vitamin D.

December 2009 – Select Premium Edge cat foods were recalled for not containing enough Thiamine (an essential nutrient for cats)

October 2009 – Select Wysong bags for possibly containing mold

September 2009 – Select Nutro pet food for containing melted plastic

Again, since 2007, there have only been 4 recalls for raw pet food, all of which were for Salmonella. Since 2009, there have been at least 38 separate DRY, Wet, and Pet Treats recalls for issues ranging from salmonella to aflatoxin to vitamin poisoning to choking hazards. This does not even touch on the massive recall of DRY and WET pet food in 2007 for melamine poisoning. If the American Veterinary Medical Association was truly concerned about the welfare of our pets, they need to take a good, hard look at the commercial pet food industry instead of attacking what appears to be the safer option for pet owners, pre-made or correctly researched and prepared home-made raw pet food.

(1) http://atwork.avma.org/2012/07/18/the-facts-on-avmas-proposed-policy-on-raw-pet-food-diets/

(2) http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/newpetfoodrecalls/

(3) http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/dog-food-05-12/index.html

(4) http://efoodalert.net/2011/12/28/fda-aflatoxin-and-pet-food-recalls/


Common Reason's Pet Adoptions May Fail

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A Helpful Blog by The Pet Rescue Center's Director of Operations

We are very involved in pet adoptions. We currently provide a temporary sanctuary for the Pet Rescue Center's rescue cats. This is a fantastic article to read if you are interested in adopting a dog or cat this summer. Prepare your home, family, and current furry babies for a new addition.

Caption 6"Adoption of a rescued pet is a noble and notable thing to do.  You are adding a beloved family member to your family. You are supporting Rescue.Rehab.Rehoming of homeless and at risk pets.  You are simply changing your life and taking a step to a new life with a furry new friend.
Casey’s Advice for Common Reasons/Problems we hear in the first few weeks of adoption.
We have many handouts on all of these "problems" new adopters may run into. It is important to reach out for help before these normal behaviors turn into problematic behaviors.  
Please contact The PRC if you are experiencing any of these problems with your new PRC Rescued Pet.  

The process of adoption review and approval is something we take very seriously. We take a critical look at the prospective adopter. We weigh all answers on the application, the personality and history of the dog/cat in question, and the meet and greet opportunity. Each step is essential for us to ensure we have thoroughly evaluated the potential adoption to make sure it’s a perfect match.

….but, sadly, sometimes adoptions fail. We are always sad when this happens. Our rescues have already been through so much by the time they come into our care. Patiently waiting for their forever family is sometimes hard to watch when the process fails or takes a really long time.
There are many reasons for a possible “failed adoption” and some are possible to work through, some are not.   Whatever the reason though, The PRC is ALWAYS here to help with resources, trainers, past experience, handouts, whatever is needed.
1.) Not getting along with the resident pets.

 It takes 4-6 weeks minimum to see how animals are going to get along with each other. Many adopting families give up in the 1st few weeks after adopting if the new pet is not "best friends" with their resident dog or cat. This is a big adjustment for both pets and should be handled with patience and knowledge on how animals interact. When there is another cat being introduced to a new dog the patience should exceed a couple months. Most cats and dogs will either learn to love each other through educated parenting or learn to tolerate each other as long as the dog is not overly aggressive towards that pet. Just imagine how human children would react to each other, the myriad of behaviors and emotions when thrown into a new situation is challenging to maneuver, but with love and patience a happy family will emerge.  

There are many informational sites reviewing how to introduce new pets that are very helpful. Sadly, these problems are usually not addressed until the owner has "had enough."
2.) Potty training
Potty training can be a huge problem when pets are introduced to a new environment. We always recommend crate training your dog no matter how well potty trained he appears to be at our facility. Entering a new home gives your new pet a chance to push new boundaries. If you are not strict from the beginning, and establish routine and boundaries, you may find yourself with a pet inappropriately eliminating indoors. 
A Brief How and Why....
Crate training creates a much easier way of showing your dog when and where they can go potty. When the dog is crated over night, you would wake him up in the a.m. and immediately take them outside to go potty. No good morning treats, just a "go potty!". When your dog is going outside, you give tons of praise which they will enjoy and know they did what you asked. This should happen any time you are leaving the house during the day as well. Crate training should happen at least the first 2 weeks before you give them full reign of the house.  This goes for cats too. The cats are living in a restricted space at our rescue, sometimes for many months. When you first bring your cat home, it is best to start in one small room (laundry, bathroom). Once you see that your cat is comfortable in that environment, then you can start slowly introducing he/she to the rest of your home. The room you start in should have, food/water, litter box, bed, toys, scratching post and everything he/she would need to be properly housed. 
3.) Aggression
 We have had pets returned for aggression. This happens even when the animal has never displayed aggression in our facility. Most common signs of normal aggression that can easily be fixed are, on leash aggression towards another dog, aggression when a guest comes to the house, and sometimes aggression with children. 
Again, your new pet has just been thrown into a new world.
 A new pet owner should be educated on how to properly socialize your dog so this does not end up happening. If a dog is kept away from meeting new dogs or new people, many of them will become territorial or protective of their owners. It is the owners job to teach the pet that they are in charge and the dog needs to not worry about any outside distractions. A dog with out worries will most likely love to meet and play with new friends. Aggression with children is almost always fear aggression. If a dog has never been around children before, they need to be taught what they're all about before an accident happens. Children do not know boundaries or proper pet affection etiquette. If a dog is unsure of an approaching child or uncomfortable, it is the job of the owner to assure them they are safe and that the child will not harm them. Or direct the child away form the nervous dog, to ensure no bites occur, until the initial nerves calm down.  When this "socialization" does not happen, dogs can growl, show teeth or even attempt to bite out of nothing other than fear of the unknown.
This is not a fault of the breed or of the dog!! As pet owners we need to teach our pets how to behave properly, and sometimes we need to learn how to set a good example.  
4.) Teething / Mouthing
This is a very common reason for returns with puppies and kittens as well as young adults pets. From 4-6 months, puppies are losing their baby teeth and growing adult teeth. It is very pleasurable for them to chew during these stages. If the dog is not given toys, rawhides and things to relieve this urge, they will want to chew on you, your shoes, or anything else you leave around the house. Cats also enjoy biting on hands and arms, as well as other house hold objects during these times. Many times, if a puppy/kitten is never taught that this is an unwanted behavior, mouthing and nipping can continue into adult hood and later be considered "biting". It is important to remember that dogs will mouth/nip at each other to engage in play when living in a pack. As a new pack leader, it is your job to teach them what they are allowed to chew on and what they are not. Positive reinforcement and the proper tools makes this learning process very easy, but consistency and patience is the key to success."


Casey Oliver - Director of Operations

The Pet Rescue Center


"MyBowl" For Pets

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I just found a very scary website. It is a website that attempts to educate pet owners on proper nutrition for pets. Great idea, but unfortunately, the site is promoted by Science Diet. I decided to try and give this new “nutrition center” the benefit of the doubt and check out their “My Bowl”, which essentially tells you what “in theory” should be in your pets dog food. My findings are as follows:

I found the “MyBowl” to be disgustingly inaccurate with the potential to greatly harm dogs if fed a food with the recommended ingredients. According to “MyBowl”, your dog should have 50% carbohydrates in their diet and roughly 25% protein and 25% fruits and vegetables. According to the “MyBowl”, some of the “good carbohydrate” sources you should look for are wheat and corn….um, no? The thing I find most fascinating is the fact that Science Diet is attempting to replicate the MyPlate idea by the USDA. However, the human MyPlate is actually fairly correct. Just by looking at the plate, the division of grains, proteins, fruits, and vegetables is fairly equal (it looks like grain slightly favor the protein food group, but it’s pretty close). This is a fairly accurate example of what should be in a HUMAN diet. We are omnivores and get a benefit from all of the food groups. What fascinates me, is that generally Science Diet refers to dogs as omnivores as well. Since that is the case, wouldn’t it appear logical that their “MyBowl” resemble the portion sizes of the USDA’s MyPlate? At least that would make some sort of sense. However, since Science Diet makes pet foods that have very little protein and sometimes over 50% carbohydrates, they have decided to try to “educate” the public on their food products and not on what a dog should actually be eating. This is disgusting!

The truth is, your dog is a carnivore. He is designed to eat meat, not carbohydrates. With so many foods out there that contain 50% carbohydrates, it’s no wonder so many dogs are overweight, have dental issues, and have diabetes. Even our own doctors (and the USDA) do not recommend we eat a diet that contains 50% carbohydrates, so why is Science Diet recommending it for our pets?

To see for yourself the gross misrepresentation of what should actually be in your pets’ diet, check out http://www.petmd.com/mybowl

To see the MyPlate version by the USDA go here: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/


Pet Obesity

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There is a growing trend in the United States and it consists of overweight and obese dogs and cats. The fourth annual Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Study found approximately 53% of cats and 55% of dogs were overweight or obese (1). While exercise is a very important factor in keeping the weight of our beloved pets down, it is not the only one. Considering that most people do not take their cats out on a walk and many strictly keep their cats indoors, there must be another factor contributing to the increased obesity in dogs and cats….that factor is diet.

What we feed out pets has a huge impact on whether our pets maintain a healthy weight. Unfortunately, about 90% of the foods available for your pets are really designed to make your pet gain weight. Don’t believe me…well, think about it this way, if you were to go to your doctor and tell him that all you ate every day was cereal, either in two separate meals or you just free feed on a box of cereal all day, he would look at you and say you were nuts. Furthermore, chances are you would probably be pretty sick too. That is equivalent to what is in many of the pet foods that are available on the market today. Granted, there are a few smaller companies that focus on making human-grade, species appropriate diets, but unfortunately they are few and far between. Most pet food manufacturers have absolutely no motivation to produce healthy pet food. What they are motivated by is the highest possible dollar amount that they can make on their products.

The nutrients available to your pets in many of the larger, more popular brands are not what your pets need to keep their weight low. Many of these foods are anywhere between 30% to over 50% carbohydrates (Hill’s W/D, the prescription diet for diabetes and weight loss in dogs consists of 50.6% carbohydrates…yes, Hill’s recommends giving a dog with diabetes a high carbohydrate diet…does anyone else see a flaw in this logic?). Many of the “Low Fat” and “Light” pet foods are the worse culprits with regard to their “method” of weight loss. These foods use the logic that by lowering the calories and fat and adding fiber, that your pets will loose weight. Unfortunately, by lowering the calories and fat and adding fiber, these foods are also raising the carbohydrate levels of the food and significantly lowering the meat protein levels. Just like in human food, the foods that are advertised as “low fat” are consequentially higher in carbohydrates. So, although your pets food may be low in fat, the high carbohydrate levels create extra calories that your pet will not burn, which will then be stored as fat (vicious cycle isn’t it?) (2).

The key to keeping our pets weights down is to feed them a species appropriate diet. While raw food may be too expensive for some pet owners, there are dry pet foods out there that attempt to get close to a species appropriate diet with their ingredients and protein, fat, and carbohydrate ratios (it’s not perfect, but for the cost it’s a viable option).

It is also important to watch the serving sizes that you give your pet. The guidelines on the back of a pet food bag are a great starting point, but some pets may require more or less than the recommended feeding guidelines in order to maintain a healthy weight. An example would be a dog or cat that is a couch potato, these pets will generally require less of the recommended feeding amount, as they will not be burning as many calories throughout the day.

Although exercise is not the only reason for pets to be overweight, it is a significant reason. While feeding your pet a species appropriate diet is a key component to keeping your pet at a healthy weight; exercise is a great way to help your pet build muscle mass, which will also help them burn calories by increasing their metabolism (2).

It is also important to watch the treats that you give your pets. I am not a huge fan of biscuits, since if you are already feeding a processed kibble it is better to stick with meat based treats. Freeze-dried meaty treats, dehydrated treats, and slow roasted meat treats are all great examples of ways to give your pets treats without upping their carbohydrate intake (which would be the case if you gave your pet biscuits). But as with everything, moderation is very important.

To wrap it up, the key to your pets maintaining a healthy weight is feeding a species appropriate diet (and watching serving size), exercise, and sticking to meaty treats (in moderation).


1)      Association for Pet Obesity – http://www.petobesityprevention.com/fat-pets-getting-fatter-according-to-latest-survey/

2)      Article by Dr. Karen Becker – The Skinny on Low Fat Diets http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/07/07/the-skinny-on-low-fat-diets.aspx


Salmonella and Pet Food

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On July 29th, Nestle Purina recalled a limited number of Purina One Vibrant Maturity DRY cat food bags due to a potential salmonella contamination. Now this got me thinking…for some reason, many veterinarians are concerned with consumers feeding their pets raw food, with the theory that the chances of coming in contact with salmonella is a lot higher in raw food than dry food. However, with just looking back over the recalls from 2010 – 2011, this logic seems to be significantly flawed.

From what I have been able to gather on-line, there appears to have been 13 recalls in the past year and a half for pet foods and treats contaminated with Salmonella. 10 out of the 13 recalls were from DRY pet foods and treats, and only 3 were from raw pet foods. These numbers also do not include the several other DRY pet foods that were recalled for mold (Wysong), plastic hat pieces in the bags (Nutro), Vitamin D Overdose (Blue Buffalo), Aflatoxin (Old Yeller, Kroger), and Low Thiamine levels (Wellness). It seems to me that there is a significant higher danger of your pets coming into contact with not only salmonella, but other much more serious recall issues from DRY pet foods than they ever would if they were eating a raw food diet. Below is the list of pet foods recalled for salmonella in the past year and a half.

1. Hartz Naturals Reel Beef Treats

2. Merrick Dog Food – Beef Filet Squares & Texas Hold’ems

3. P&G – Iams and Eukanuba Specialized and “Veterinary Formula” Dry Dog Food Recalls (Also Included Eukanuba Naturally Wild, Pure, and Custom Care Sensitive Skin)

4. United Pet Group – Pro-Pet Adult daily Vitamin Supplement for Dogs

5. Natural Balance Pet Foods Inc. – Sweet Potato & Chicken Dry Dog Food

6. Rollover Premium Pet Food Ltd. (Canada) – Pork Tenders Premium Dog Treats

7. Nature’s Variety – Raw Frozen Chicken Diets

8. Merrick Pet Care – Beef Filet Squares Dog Treats

9. Primal Pet Foods – Raw Chicken & Salmon Cat Food

10. Merrick Pet Care – Jr. Taffy Pet Treat

11. Several Pig Ear Companies (Merrick, Bravo, Boss Pet)

12. Purine One Vibrant Maturity Cat Food

13. Feline’s Pride – Natural Raw Chicken Cat Food

I would like to point out that the chances of a healthy dog or cat showing symptoms of salmonella poisoning is rare. Healthy dogs and cats have a very acidic stomach which generally destroys all pathogens. I found a great article by Dr. Karen Becker that discusses the truth about salmonella and raw feeding. She also discusses how to keep your family safe from salmonella infection. I encourage everyone to read this article, since as I have pointed out; salmonella contamination is not just localized to raw food (and is in fact more common in dry pet food).


Is All Pet Food Created Equal?

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I recently had a conversation with someone about the standards of pet food. This person worked for a very well known pet food company and claimed that all pet foods were relatively similar. Her argument was that since all pet food must pass AAFCO’s (Association of American Feed Control Officials) nutrient profiles, that they were all nutritious enough to keep pets healthy. After all, as long as the guaranteed analysis looks good, there is no reason to question the ingredients that make up that guaranteed analysis….right?

The interesting thing about the nutrient profile standards set up by AAFCO is that the nutrient profile in no way guarantees the digestibility or quality of ingredients in the pet food. All that is required is that a food meets a minimum or maximum percentage on the guaranteed analysis of a label. Pet food companies would like us to believe that the Crude Protein found on its guaranteed analysis label is coming from meat. This is not the case; in fact, Crude protein encompasses all of the protein found in the product (it does not have to come from any meat source at all)! Technically, as long as you were to throw a vitamin pack in the food, someone could make a pet food that passes the nutrient profile standard with car tires, leather boots, and horse tails. These three ingredients contain protein, fat, and fiber, and with the addition of a vitamin pack, one has created a pet food that passes the nutrient profile standards.

Below, I have compared two very different pet foods with the ingredients found in a common kid’s cereal. I believe we would all agree that it would not be healthy to feed kids cereal for every single meal, every day, for their entire lives. Yet, the ingredients in pet food #1 (a mainstream food found in your local supermarkets) are very similar to the ingredients found in the Kid’s Cereal. According to AAFCO, that’s fine, since Pet Food #1′s nutrient profile meets all of the minimum requirements for the nutrient profile set by the organization. Pet Food #2, in great contrast to pet food #1, contains a variety of meat sources. The ingredient panel is completely different from the one found on the Kid’s Cereal.

Bottom line, pet foods are not created equal. Your pet may be able to survive on pet foods that meet the minimum nutrient standards set by AAFCO, but that does not mean that your pet will thrive (or even live very long) on every pet food on the market.

Pet Food #1 Kid’s Cereal Pet Food #2
corn, soybean meal, beef and bone meal, ground wheat flour, animal fat (bha used as preservative), corn syrup, wheat middlings, water sufficient for processing, animal digest (source of chicken flavor), propylene glycol, salt, hydrochloric acid, potassium chloride, caramel color, sorbic acid (used as a preservative), sodium carbonate, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), choline chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), calcium sulfate, titanium dioxide, yellow 5, yellow 6, red 40, BHA (used as a preservative), dl methionine. While grain corn, sugar, corn meal, corn syrup, canola and/or rice bran oil, salt, tricalcium phosphate, Trisodium Phosphate, Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1, and Other Color Added, Natural and Artificial flavor, citric acid, malic acid. BHT Added to Preserve Freshness.

Vitamins and Minerals: Calcium Carbonate, Zinc and Iron (mineral nutrients), Vitamin C (Sodium ascorbate), A B Vitamin (niacinamide), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin monoitrate), Vitamin A (palmitate), A B Vitamin (Folic acid), Vitamin b12), Vitamin D3.

Fresh deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, russet potato, fresh deboned pacific salmon (a natural source of DHA and EPA), herring meal, sweet potato, peas, fresh deboned lake whitefish, fresh deboned northern walleye, chicken fat (naturally preserved with vitamin E and citric acid), chicken liver, salmon meal, fresh deboned turkey, fresh whole eggs, fresh deboned herring, sun-cured alfalfa, salmon oil, chicory root, dehydrated organic kelp, pumpkin, carrots, spinach, turnip greens, apples, cranberries, saskatoon berries, black currants, choline chloride, psyllium, licorice root, angelica root, fenugreek, marigold flowers, sweet fennel, peppermint leaf, chamomile flowers, dandelion, summer savory, rosemary, sea salt, vitamin supplements (vitamin A, vitamin D3, vitamin E, niacin, vitamin C, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12), mineral supplements (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, selenium), dried Lactobacillus acidophilus, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product.

Link to the FDA’s website about AAFCO’s nutrition standards:



P&G Buys Natura Pet Products!

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I am sad to report that Natura Pet Products, makers of EVO, Innova, Healthwise, California Natural, and Karma has been purchased by Proctor and Gamble, the parent company of Iams and Eukanuba.

Natura Pet Products was founded in 1992 by John and Ann Rademakers and Peter Atkins in Santa Clara, California. The company has always stressed the importance of animal nutrition and strived to make the best pet foods on the market. In contrast, Proctor and Gamble, a company that has been under pressure by animal rights organizations for their alleged cruel animal testing practices, is the parent company of Iams and Eukanuba, two foods that take a very different stance on pet food quality and animal nutrition.

I personally cannot see any good that will come of this acquisition. The one thing that set the Natura brands apart from many pet foods currently on the market was the fact that they were privately owned. They manufactured their dry food in their own manufacturing plant and expressed a genuine passion for improving the quality of our pets’ health through their natural foods. Proctor and Gamble’s business ethics have been continuously questioned and the quality of their Iams and Eukanuba pet foods leave little to be desired. While this may be a good financial move for Natura, it is a sad day for the many pet owners that stood behind that Natura brands and wanted to support a privately owned company who cared about the wellbeing of our pets.

News Links:




Natural Balance Recall!

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On Friday, June 18th, Natural Balance issued a voluntary recall of their Sweet Potato and Chicken, 5# and 28# formulas with “best buy” date of June 17, 2011.  The food is being voluntarily recalled after a test by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found salmonella in the batches.

For more information please view:


As a side note, Pet Country discontinued Natural Balance after the food was recalled in 2007 for Melamine poisoning.

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