Saturday, July 31, 2010

Veterinarian Turns Away Dog Shot With Arrows

This incident highlights the importance of my last post - put your strong feelings about an issue into action!

Jeremy Williams just returned from Iraq, as a member of the national guard. As such, he does not have an income and is currently on unemployment. After enjoying a nice dinner with friends, he returned home to find his home had been burglarized.

Inside his home, he found that both of his Pit Bulls had been attacked by the thieves. The female dog suffered minor injuries, but the 9-yr-old male dog was not so lucky. He had been shot twice with two different types of arrows, once in the shoulder and once in the mouth.

When Williams did the right thing by rushing his dog to an after-hours veterinary office, he was turned away.

Turned away! Standing before them was a dog in distress who needed immediate veterinary care and they turned him away! I just cannot get over that. I understand veterinarians need to make money, and I know they get burned when a client doesn't pay or follow through with monthly payments. But to turn away a dog in obvious distress and who may die without proper care is unconscionable.

Mr. Williams thought he would have to watch his dog die.

Instead, he called the local news station. I'm very glad he didn't do what one commenter suggested, which was to ask the veterinarian to kill the dog for free instead of treat him. The dog wasn't at death's door, people. Anyway, the station aired his story and two people came through. One woman was so generous that she drove out to the veterinarian, met the dog, and left a blank check with the hospital. Another person donated $100 toward the surgery.

Now Toby, the dog, is back home. He'll have permanent damage to his face where the arrow was lodged, but he'll recover. It appalls me to think he would have died b/c Mr. Williams couldn't afford expensive veterinary surgery.

Why Is Putting Your Compassion Into Action Condemned?

On Tuesday, a heavily pregnant cow was chased down by an SUV and shot 11 times, mainly in the side. The cow and her calf died. This wasn't a random act of violence but a coordinated effort to deal with a frightened cow. She was part of the California State Fair's live birth exhibits, in which heavily pregnant animals are transported from farms, confined and put on display. The cow escaped - the fair wasn't open, so the public wasn't in imminent danger. UC Davis veterinarians were on-site and after only 90 minutes of trying to corral the cow, their solution was to allow the state fair police harass, intimidate and then gun down a pregnant animal.

I know we live in an apathetic world. We complain on line, in person, on television. We opine that no one is doing anything. This is fine and can be quite cathartic. But when something strikes at your heart - whatever it may be - what on earth gives anyone else the right to tell you that doing something, standing up, acting out, is wrong? That's it's just a cow  or it's just an animal or do something better with your time.

And, of course, this is coming from people on their way to eat deep fried twinkies.

Okay, I should back up.

I work with and for farmed animals in a sanctuary setting. I'm familiar with cows and other large mammals. I've dealt with frightened animals, including 1,500 lb Holsteins. I've interned at dairy facilities and mucked out barns and spent hours snuggling - yes, seriously - 800 lb pigs. I've read books while curled up next to a 2,000 lb steer. I love farmed animals (it's why I don't eat them) and care deeply about what happens to them in this world.

When I heard about the shooting and saw the video, my heart ached. I thought of the skittish Holstein who lives at the sanctuary, a cow who if she were a dog would be on the same level as Mina. That is saying something. She's my "heart cow", as silly as that may sound to some. I love her dearly for being her.

I busted out letters to the editor and when another animal protection group planned a protest, I drove more than an hour and went. I stood outside of the state fair for an hour and a half on Tuesday and then another hour and a half on Wednesday. I went to the state fair board meeting yesterday and spoke on behalf of the sanctuary I work for and, of course, the cow and her calf who died.

While a lot of the people walking by to the state fair and driving by were sympathetic, there were enough "it's just an animal" comments that made me, well, they made me sad and disappointed. Here are these people who take time out of their day to attend a freaking fair, to stray amidst the masses under the hot sun, to ride rides and play games, yet they have the audacity to condemn people who stand up for what they believe in. They'll take the time to make a nasty comment but probably wouldn't do the same thing for an issue they believed in...if they did, man, we could get anything accomplished!

For me, "it" is...wait, "it" is not an "it" to begin with - SHE is not just an animal. She was an individual cow with intelligence and feelings. She had preferences and wants of her very own, all of which were ignored. She was pregnant and scared. And in her final moments, she was petrified, dying a painful, awful death. She damn well deserved a few people to stand up and speak out.

I do hold on to the quiet, thoughtful "thank you" from an employee of the fair. He was a young man and was present during the shooting. He described the horror of it, the outrageous level of response from the state fair police. It was something he would not soon forget, and he appreciated greatly that we were out there. He couldn't, but we could, and in that moment it was right.

Please do. Not just say, do. When there is something that hurts your heart or angers your soul, do. It can be simple - write a letter to the editor, blog about it and encourage others to do the same, write your council/commission members or legislative representatives. Contact the media, plan a protest, speak up.
Ignore the naysayers. If your passion is non humans, remember, they have no voice. They cannot write or protest. Their welfare is contingent upon our actions. They're not just animals, they are beautiful, wonderful additions to this world, and their needs and desires should be important to us all.

I leave you with this photo I took at one of the protests. This little girl helped draw these pictures. In her little way, she did more for this cow than those who were outraged but did nothing and certainly more than those who made snide remarks but do nothing for things they are passionate about. And it's just plain true - this pregnant cow was scared, and she deserved so much better.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

A young girl walking a Golden Retriever or Golden Retriever mix lost control of her dog. The dog then savagely attacked a much smaller dog. The owner of the smaller dog was bitten by the larger dog during the scuffle. The smaller dog is expected to survive, even though he suffered extensive bodily wounds.

The cruel bloodsport of bullfighting has been banned in Catalonia!

A woman walking on the beach was attacked by an off-leash Boxer (who was supposed to be on leash). She needed 20 stitches.

A "normally nice" dog is being hailed as a hero after he attempted to attack a knife-wielding intruder. This is another example of our bizarre relationship with dogs. Had this been a "normally nice" dog biting a screaming, but non-threatening, person, the dog would have been labeled dangerous. But in a different setting, he is a hero. We seem to want to believe dogs are capable of discerning when it is and is not appropriate to engage in aggressive behavior...and they do, but to their own standards, not ours. Regardless, glad Bear was around!

A newly adopted Labrador Retriever attacked the family's daughter, causing 13-staples of damage in the child's head.

Man who slashed his friendly dog's throat (she survived) doesn't show up for his court appearance (no surprise).

A Rottweiler running loose was shot and killed. He did not bite anyone.

An off-leash Akita attacked a woman's collie and ended up biting her as well. The owner left without assisting either the woman or her injured dog.

A vicious dog hearing is being planned for a Corgi who bit a 7-yr-old on the calf severe enough to require a hospital visit and puncture wounds.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Department of Justice to World: ADA Encompasses All Breeds

Denver and Aurora, take heed! The Department of Justice (DOJ), on the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has issued its final statement on enforcement accessibility standards, including the issue of forcing those with disabilities to comply with state or local laws prohibiting certain breeds.

It's an epic read, so here are some highlights:

"Conversely, if an individual uses a breed of dog that is perceived to be aggressive because of breed reputation, stereotype, or the history or experience the observer may have with other dogs, but the dog is under the control of the individual with a disability and does not exhibit aggressive behavior, the title II entity cannot exclude the individual or the animal from a State or local government program, service, or facility."


"The Department does not believe that it is either appropriate or consistent with the ADA to defer to local laws that prohibit certain breeds of dogs based on local concerns that these breeds may have a history of unprovoked aggression or attacks. Such deference would have the effect of limiting the rights of persons with disabilities under the ADA who use certain service animals based on where they live rather than on whether the use of a particular animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others."

While not directly related to breed, this may apply to a few legal cases occurring in parts of the country in which the definition of a service dog is in question. Some have argued an emotional support dog is not covered, and this missive agrees...but it clarifies that a dog who "grounds" a person with psychiatric disorder is included in the definition. Not all commenters agreed that an emotional support therapy dog should be excluded but, as of yet, they are.

"It is the Department´s view that an animal that is trained to "ground" a person with a psychiatric disorder does work or performs a task that would qualify it as a service animal as compared to an untrained emotional support animal whose presence affects a person´s disability. It is the fact that the animal is trained to respond to the individual´s needs that distinguishes an animal as a service animal. The process must have two steps: recognition and response. For example, if a service animal senses that a person is about to have a psychiatric episode and it is trained to respond for example, by nudging, barking, or removing the individual to a safe location until the episode subsides, then the animal has indeed performed a task or done work on behalf of the individual with the disability, as opposed to merely sensing an event."

Hat tip: ADA and BSL

Rottweiler Shot...ABC News Confuses Dog For Pit Bull

Police: Pit bull let loose on officers; dog shot - ‎9 hours ago‎
When police tried to break up the disturbance, someone at the party let a pit bull loose on the officers. According to police, officers were forced to shoot ...
The dog wasn't a Pit Bull, nor was she let loose on police officers. The dog was a Rottweiler and was already loose when police responded to a disturbance call. 
The dog became aggressive when an officer with a K-9 unit arrived. When she charged, the officer shot the dog twice.

This article has a little more information.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

An Akita allowed to be loose inside of a commercial business operation exited the business and attacked a Dachshund.

A Boxer may be euthanized after he bit a man multiple times. The bite occurred without witnesses and on the dog's property. The dog is normally not aggressive.

A police dog who attacked a Schnauzer is back on the job after a "suspension".

Officers shoot a "Lab/Chow mix" after the dog lunged at them.

Puppy farms to blame when dogs finally bite back.

Delta, BC officials are mulling removing BSL from their law books. "We're asking how we can justify a breed-specific bylaw when there is no empirical evidence to suggest that any one breed of dog has a higher propensity to bite," says Delta Coun. Robert Campbell.

An Akita in Warren, NJ was euthanized three months after attacking a child. The dog inflicted 700 stitches worth of damage.

Two Rottweilers, who have bitten one person and a dog and whose owners have more than 15 complaints against them, have been spared death if their owners can find an out-of-town kennel and training center to modify or mitigate their behavior.

Enforcing their breed specific legislation may prove difficult for Lynn, Mass. Their budget was cut and they have only one animal control officer.

Fresh Corn On The Cob

My mom and I planted a gorgeous garden this year. I can't wait for my own garden at my new home. For the first time, we tried out corn. I think it was a success!

Corn from garden

The proof will be in eating it, of course.

Anyone gardening? What are you growing? My mom's garden includes corn, melons, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes by the droves, green beans.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pit Bull Mix Named Elkhart County Canine Hero

Last month, Thor persistently pawed and then nipped at his owners to get them out of their burning house. He even grabbed the baby's bassinet and started dragging it to the doorway.

The family lives in a mobile home. Most trailer parks prohibit Pit Bull/mixes and other breeds of dogs. Instead of taking the easy way out and giving Thor up, his family took a month to find a park that allowed Pit Bulls. I'm sure they thanked their lucky stars for that decision.

All their possessions were lost, but the community really pulled through. People donated clothes and other household items. Someone even kindly donated a trailer, but in an ironic twist, the family is now having a hard time finding another mobile home park that will accept Pit Bulls. Even heroic ones.

That fact did not stop the Elkhart Humane Society naming Thor the Canine Hero of Elkhart County. Nice job, Thor!

(While Thor may be the Canine Hero of Elkhart County, the county seat, Elkhart, tried to ban dogs like Thor. The city council tied in their vote, which defeated the proposed ordinance.)

Mina the Beggar

Begging is Serious Business

This is Mina mid-beg. She generally starts to fall asleep. She is the worst beggar.

How does your dog(s) beg?

Cyrus the Face-Biting Shih-Tsu is Spared Death

Cyrus attacked a kid. He bit the child on the arm and the face, requiring 10 stitches to fix.

All the commenters think this is a laugh riot. It's so funny when dogs who weigh less than twenty pounds attack children. We might as well make it a reality television show - Teacups Attack Tots. It would be a sensation, I'm sure.

The dog's owner thinks the kid is lying. He thinks Cyrus just knocked the kid off his motorized Jeep and THAT'S when the kid's face plowed into some wayward dog teeth lying dangerously on the ground. After all, the only two witnesses were the kid and Cyrus (who was running loose at the time). Dogs never lie, and while Cyrus has much to say (he's quite the furious fear-barker), no one can translate.

I'm not unhappy Cyrus is being spared death. I happen to believe if someone is willing to take on the responsibility and liability to manage an aggressive dog (even if just infrequently), then the dog should be given a reasonable chance at placement. Cyrus can apparently function without biting everyone in sight, so I wish him and his rescuers the best. Just keep him away from 5-yr-old kids on motorized mini-Jeeps.

But what irks me to no end, what points out the inconsistent attitudes when it comes to dog attacks is the response people have. From the dog's owner to the dog rescue agency to the comments, it's all a big game, a joke. The only people who appear horrified are the kid with stitches and his mom. Everyone else seems to believe that a "dog so ugly he's cute" cannot possibly be dangerous. It's as if people have a mental block - if the dog is small, he cannot be a menace. It's impossible. This dog's no Pit Bull or Rottweiler, he doesn't have magical locking jaws or the strength of an elephant.

Thus we should not take him seriously. We should mock his victim and claim he is lying. We should put forth every unreasonable effort into saving his life. We should sally forth and defend this dog's honor.

I don't think there is anything funny about a dog biting a child, no matter his size. My suggestion to you, public and media, is to at least be consistent. If a biting 20-lb dog is funny, so should be a biting 100-lb dog. If 10-stitches is a laugh riot, so should be 100-stitches. If a bug-eyed dog launching an attack on to a child is the stuff of comedies, so should each and every dog attack.

Please don't be selective in your mockery of a dog-attack victim's suffering. Be fair. Find them all funny.

Cyrus, good luck in life. Don't run loose and don't bite kids. That will win you many fans, including me.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Trees Getting Damaged? Arrest the Pit Bull!

Unless I am confused, Pit Bulls are not legal or moral agents. They do not actually stand trial, hire a defense lawyer and plead their case. They are not free agents capable of voting or buying a lottery ticket. They cannot purchase alcohol when they turn 21 or drive when they turn 16. They do not take themselves to the vet or pay the food bills. They do not leash themselves and go on walks nor do they make the bed or clean the clothes. While they are most assuredly deserved of moral consideration, they are incapable of creating and maintaining a legal or ethical system of behavior or thought. No offense intended, but Pit Bulls are dogs, not some complex alien species that can build airplanes and skyscrapers.

Which is why I'm baffled by this news article title, "Pit Bulls blamed for Fair Haven tree damage" in which Pit Bulls are accused of chewing on trees.

Of course, no one has seen the Pit Bulls bite the trees or the swing set. They've just heard about it. Failure to fact find at its most absurd.

The Pit Bulls, if they are the ones responsible for chewing on trees (TREES, not people), did not make a conscious effort to seek out these particular trees to chew on. If they were loose, it is doubtful they made a conscious and active choice to single out these precious trees and mutilate them. If they were leashed, it is unlikely they made a beeline for the trees, thinking to themselves, "I am Pit Bull, how may I fuck up your day? Ah! A tree, that should do it!"

No, IF the dogs chewed on the trees, they were under the control and the responsibility of some legal agents called human beings. The people are responsible for the actions of their dogs, not the dogs themselves. A dog sees chewing on a branch or tree as a game, something fun and enjoyable. They don't understand that the branch or tree might be important to some human being. If they are encouraged by the people they respect/love/fear, they care even less about the tree-huggers who will eventually only accuse the dogs of a human crime.

And with the journalistic integrity of a nematode (no offense to the 'tode), the editors of this article thought it fine and dandy to frame the discussion such that the dogs are accused of a crime, that it is dogs who are responsible for the destruction of the trees and neglect to mention that someone owns those dogs. That the dogs won't stand trial for destruction of property and tree murder.

Insights and Cinnaholic

My mom and I had a tarot reading done today at Insights and Foresights in Oakland, CA. The entire reading resonated with me beautifully. I like when that happens. If you are curious about tarot, feel free to peruse this website. It's hard to find tarot websites that don't look quirky and this one is no exception. Try to see past that.

After the reading, we headed to Berkeley for some vegan cinnamon rolls. Life cannot get better than that. Cinnaholic just opened last weekend and serves only vegan cinnamon rolls with more than a dozen varieties available. I had a cookie dough one and a caramel coated one. Super delicious. A little on the pricey side ($4.00 for "old school" and $5.00 for a special) but so worth it for us vegans who crave an animal friendly version of cinnamon rolls. Also worth it for non-vegans. True fact.

Evidence of their awesomeness:

Caramel Cinnaholic Cinnabon

Caramel Cinnamon Roll

These Were Not Pets

A companion dog lives in your home or at least spends a good portion of his time with you, when you are home. They sleep in your house, sometimes in your room (on or off the bed). A companion dog is a treasured member of the family and pack. They are not relegated to the backyard or garage. You do not have five of them, only to spend a minimal amount of time with them individually. If you have five of them, you do not keep three in the garage, two out in the backyard, and then bring one at a time out in the front yard unleashed.

A companion dog can manage to get along with the family. If that is not possible, a companion dog is taken to obedience training or a behaviorist and the whole family is involved in the dog's training and modification. If a companion dog's behavior is so dangerous that he or she poses a risk to the family's smallest residents, then a serious discussion should take place on whether that home is the right place for that particular companion dog.

A companion dog is not merely a dog who is given a roof over his head or food in her belly. It requires more effort to create an environment in which a dog goes from resident to companion. A companion dog can be one who is showered with ridiculous expenses, and a companion dog can live in the most impoverished of places. What makes a dog a companion is how they are perceived by the humans around them and how they are treated.

The dog(s) responsible for the death of a child in the SF Bay Area were not companion dogs. And no matter how much the owners of the dogs wish to foist blame on the non-humans in the equation, no one is more at fault than he. When you take five dogs, four of them intact males, and sequester them in garages and backyards, and when you have at least one dog who is aggressive towards children, you are doing nothing but a disservice to both dogs and humans. And even though the owner "adopted" the female dog, who was pregnant, that does not make that dog a companion dog...not when she is confined to the garage for the better part of her day.

Four of the dogs are less than 2 years of age. They are the puppies of the only truly adult dog. At six months of age, one of the dogs aggressed against another dog in the household, a Chihuahua. He killed the dog. The same dog, since he was young, was never allowed to be around children. He wasn't to be trusted. That is a red flag, not a case of hindsight. Around the same time this dog started showing aggressive behaviors, the owner of the dogs allowed his family to move in, bringing with them their two children (his grandsons).

Nothing was done to mitigate the clear fear and aggression issues at least one of the dogs exhibited.

Nothing was done to mitigate the aggression towards children at least one of the dogs exhibited.

And now. Now the owner blames my dog. He foists all of this heartbreaking tragedy onto dogs. DOGS. I give him this - amidst his pain and suffering, he is trying to cope with his own irresponsible behavior. He is creating a shell of denial, blaming my dog and other nonviolent dogs, for his inability to manage four adolescent, intact male dogs and one spayed female. I do not begrudge him this.

It will not bring back his grandson. It will not rectify his own mistakes, so grievous that a child will never become an adult.

The euthanasia of the five dogs is not helpful, either. We know nothing about their true personalities or behavior. We do not know if only one dog, the one who never really liked kids, was the only one who participated. We do not know if, in his final moments, another dog tried to intervene or just looked on. We only know that two innocent dogs and three potentially guilty dogs were subsequently killed. Their owners will, at the very least, receive a trial.

I don't know how to rectify these problems. They are not the result of a dog's inability to deal with the world. They are not because a dog looks a certain way. They exist because people choose to bring in dogs but then neglect to treat them as companions with all the significant responsibility that entails. You can't put two intact companion, adolescent, male dogs out in the backyard 24/7. You can't stick two intact male, adolescent companion dogs and one spayed female in a garage 24/7. You can't ignore the aggressive behavior of a companion dog, because that companion dog is in your home, around your friends/family/children.

But you can do that with a resident dog. You can deny them normal social interactions. You can put them in situations where they are cornered and feel as if they must bite, bite, bite to deal with the matter how mundane that threat is. You can chain them, keep them in garages and backyards. You can ignore their training, because a resident dog requires none. You just need to put out the dish every day and hope that, like millions of other resident dogs, they won't react in deadly ways to what should be a fun interaction between a dog and a child.

What a sad, sad, preventable story.

We Love Labels

Wendall and Mina At The HeaterThe presence of a foxtail in a dog's nose is obvious. It starts with the snuffles and turns into sneezing, eye squinting and oftentimes blood. The first time Mina was introduced to the new sanctuary property, she left with a $150 fox-tail up her nose.

So when my friend's dog started snuffling at work, I knew what it was. Because she is the animal care manager, finding time to drag her dog to work would be difficult (she would do it, of course), so I offered to take him. He is my 3rd favorite dog, after all.

When Wendal and I arrived at the veterinarian, I was asked to fill out the new client form. I filled in the information to the best of my abilities. When it came time to ascribe a breed, well, I couldn't. I wrote what I felt was the most accurate description of Wendal's breed: mixed. In the physical description section, I was more detailed - white dog, brown patch on right side of face, black nose.

Wendal is from Mexico, just like Celeste. He was a starving, mange-ridden street dog before being rescued. There is no telling what breeds created him.

But the veterinarian and staff were not pleased with my idea of breed. They wanted to call him something, even though there was nothing to call him. One woman was so adamant we put down a breed that she spent a good 3-5 minutes staring at Wendal.

She decided on Dalmatian mix. I decided to smile politely and nod my head. People who confuse Wendal for a Dalmatian should be handled with care.

Another vet on staff firmly believed Wendal was an Australian Shepherd mix but with a weird coat.

The experience reaffirmed my belief that veterinarians and their staff aren't any better at identifying breeds than the rest of us. While I'm okay with identifying Wendal as a mixed breed, it seems I'm in the minority. The same is true of Celeste. To me, she is a mexi-mutt, a mixie-mutt, a canine of dubious pedigree. Sure she has coloration found in certain breeds, and yeah she has some fancy blue eyes and a curly-over tail.

But she's not a German Shepherd mix or a Husky mix so much as she is just a mix. Don't get me wrong. I like to think about who her parents were and what they might be genetically. I'm not so different from everyone else. I'm just not so set on identifying her lineage such that I'd put a particular breed down on a sheet of paper. She's a 40 lb black, tan and white dog with blue eyes, prick ears, a curly black tail. She likes to grin submissively, clack her teeth in a friendly manner, growl at other dogs, and sidle up to people with great hopes of love.

I will grant you that that is far more difficult to say than she's a German Shepherd mix.

For you muttskie guardians, do you get annoyed with breed guesses, fascinated, have fun with it? Do you put down breed for certain documents or just leave it simple w/ "mixed"?

Celeste running with a smile

Friday, July 23, 2010

Comment Threading Now Available

One of the downsides I've seen with Blogger is its lack of integrated comment threading. People can comment but comment threading is unavailable.

I think debate is encouraged when you can respond directly to someone.

So I have installed IntenseDebate, which is a widget that permits comment threading. It was easy to integrate the code into my template and now all new posts will have comment threading.

I hope you will find it easy to use and useful. Please let me know if you have problems commenting on new posts.

Cows Are a Lighter Note

Let it be known that if I were to rank my all time-favorite species of animals, cows would be in the top five.

Most people think cows* are boring and without individual personalities. This is as far from truth as one can get. I learned this interning at a dairy farm. I watched in fascination as individuals made selections on who would be their best friends and who would not. It was obvious cows had preferences, could make conscious choices on who to groom and who to ignore.

Cows also hold grudges. While this was scientifically "discovered" in 2005, I've known it to be true for longer. At the farm, I fell in love with a Guernsey cow. She was a small cow with a brown and white patched coat. There were only two on this farm, along with eight Jerseys and more than a 150 Holsteins. I used to sneak her grain with molasses. Not a healthy food but she really loved it. If I forgot, I got the silent treatment. If I tried to give other cows a treat, I got the silent treatment and sometimes, she'd even pointedly walk up to me and turn her back. I learned my best "silent treatment" techniques from this cow.

While I was vegetarian at the time, I still drank milk. The farm was at an agricultural university and offered an okay life. Not great, by bovine standards, but not awful. I quite drinking milk the day I helped a mother become childless and a child motherless. I pulled a baby calf from a straining mother and watched, horrified, as he was carted away to be killed. She knew it was wrong and though she was weak from labor, she struggled to stand and bellowed. I will never forget that keening sound. It was grief and sorrow and pain and suffering. The baby cried back. That was the day I learned cows grieve and in profound ways.

At the sanctuary, there is a small herd of cattle - 8 in all. Three Holsteins, one Charolais, and four Jersey monsters. This morning, Nicholas was grooming Summer. They paused when I stopped by the fence. Summer lifted his head up over the bars and presented his neck. This behavior always makes me feel honored - it is trust embodied. Cows who have had good experiences with people tend to show it, more so than cows who have not. Summer grew up here. While his start in life was tough (he was a discarded male dairy calf shuffled to the auction yard), he could easily forget the cruel treatment he experienced early on.

I scratched his neck and waited for that moment when, as he always does, Summer would lift his nose to mine and breathe deeply. Friendship. These are the seconds I cherish. Although I am a transient member of the herd, a member I am nonetheless. I am greeted as if I never left.

Here's Freedom, one of the Jersey monsters at the sanctuary:

Freedom Gazing Off In the Distance

Elsa, a 15-yr-old Jersey monster who lived on a very small farm and, when she stopped producing babies, was going to be sent to slaughter.
Elsa Chewing Cud

Sadie is a Holstein, a former dairy cow. She turned 12 in March. She is the best cow ever, I love her greatly.
Sadie Looking Curious

*I understand cows refer to the female of the species but is used colloquially in reference to both males and females. The root of "cattle" is "property" so I try and limit my use of the word. Please know I understand the correct terminology but am making a conscious, linguistic choice to abstain from the constant use of a word that, at its core, implies ownership (something I have ethical qualms with).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

A woman entered Costco to shop for pet supplies...while her pet, a Labrador Retriever, was left for over an hour in the hot car. The dog died. When the woman discovered the dog dead, she went back into Costco and returned the pet supplies. Costco employees called police, and she was eventually discovered when she dropped the dead dog off at the animal shelter. It was more than a 130 F in the car, 104 F outside.

I am not certain why the owner of this dog is being required to comply with dangerous dog rules. His dog was chained on his property when a neighbor's child entered the property and was attacked. The child had to be airlifted but is in good condition. The dog is a hound mix.

Rodenticides are nasty, nasty killers of feeling, sentient beings. Don't use them, is my advice. In the UK, the use of rodenticides has resulted in the deaths of many red kite chicks. After being fed poisoned rodents, the chicks died deaths as horrible as the rats and mice.

A Jack Russell Terrier leaped over a fence and attacked a boy in the face, causing wounds that could not be closed with stitches and will cause permanent scarring. The dog has attacked a child before.

A child who accidentally stepped on the tail of a Labrador Retriever was mauled in the face by the animal.

Let the media frenzy begin

I wonder if this will be like 2005 and San Francisco all over again. The dogs in 2005 were American Bulldogs, by the way, but they're forever known as Pit Bulls...that did not stop SF from a) attempting to ban Pit Bulls and b) getting state legislation passed to permit BSL in the form of breed-specific castration laws.

My heart goes out to the child's family.

And yes, it goes out to those dogs too.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Minor Interruption

To let you know that I found a tick on my head courtesy of the Yuba River. It was attached to my skull. Unacceptable is what I told the tick, to which he replied by wriggling his legs in a "neener-neener" fashion. Ticks have no social skills.

Back to your normal schedule.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Heat is Not Your Dog's Friend

My friend and I took our dogs to the Yuba river for some splashing fun. Mina nearly swam, except I learned she is a little bottom heavy and nearly sank. Next time, I will try her with a life jacket and see if she'll head out to deeper waters. We kept the dogs cool and hydrated. But it was pretty hot, and we cut the hike short as it became obvious Mina wasn't handling the heat well. She is slightly brachycephalic, having a shorter nose and a flatter face than the two other dogs.

We brought them back home and went out for lunch and book shopping.

As we headed to the book store, we passed a large, white truck with a Labrador Retriever puppy. She was full of teh cute.

It was 94 F and the truck was parked in the sun with the windows halfway rolled down.

The pup was not heat stressed yet. We decided to go to the book store, give the owner a few minutes to retrieve their puppy and then head back to check on her again. When we came back, the pup was still there. She was panting but not heavily. We waited another 10 minutes. By that point in time, 20 minutes had passed and while the puppy was not heat stressed, she was getting close to the early stages.

We checked in at a local business and asked if they knew who the owners of the truck were. The woman was helpful and wanted to check on the puppy. We all agreed if the owners didn't do something, we'd have to call police or remove the dog from the truck. The truck belonged to a man who had gone into an upstairs building. We all traipsed up there and lo and behold the man was there with his infant and family. He immediately headed downstairs to bring the puppy inside. Problem solved, puppy happy.

The puppy was quite happy to get out of the hot car.

What gets me is that when we left the book store, the truck was still there. The puppy wasn't in it, of course, but had we not noticed or not intervened, that puppy would have spent well over an hour in 94 F outside weather. The puppy would have died.

Please don't hesitate to be that person. The nagging, not-minding-your-business, busybody. Be the person who stands outside in 95 F weather, waiting for police or animal control to arrive and bust down some windows. Be the person who walks into a store and pages the owner of the car. Because if a dog's owner isn't going to be their dog's advocate, someone else has to be. Assume that person is you, because assuming it's someone else will only kill the dog.

If you are ever unsure of whether the temperature inside a car is hot or not, err on the side of caution. Even if the ambient temp is in the 70's and even if the window is open, the inside of a metal vehicle can be 20-40 degrees hotter. If the temps are in the 80/90/100's, there is NO reason for a dog to be in a parked vehicle, windows open or not.

Van Buren County Going Door to Door Checking Licenses

Authorities in Van Buren County, Michigan will begin going door to door, looking for dog license violations.

I know not everyone appreciates this method of improving licensing rates, but it has proven to be effective when done properly. I personally think it can be a great method of increasing compliance AND building good community ties. Again, when done properly.

For example, Kern County has seen a dramatic increase in licensing and after only six months of implementing their new program, they have paid it off for the year. Two staff members were hired to run the program. Door-to-door licensing checks and requests were organized around low-cost rabies clinics. The funds from the program pay off the staff members and the excess goes towards funding low-cost spay/neuter programs. People whose dogs are not licensed are NOT penalized the first time around. They are instead directed to the rabies vaccine clinics, given a license form to fill out, and given time. If they don't comply, that is when the citations are brought out.

Van Buren County should take a page from both Kern County and Calgary (a city that relies on door-door compliance). Right now, Van Buren County is planning on issuing citations to every person who has an unlicensed dog. The fines are up to a $100. This is not good business nor is it good public policy. We want people to like animal control. Further, we want people to continue paying their licensing fees. People are more likely to pay a $10-30 annual licensing fee than they are a $100 citation.

If a city wants to see an increase in licensing, here are a few proven suggestions:
* Make getting a license super easy. Calgary offers license forms everywhere, including the supermarket. They also do not require a rabies vaccination which is, unfortunately mandatory in most of the United States.
* Do not criminalize dog owners if their dogs are not licensed. Instead of issuing citations if a dog isn't licensed, provide low-cost options with a re-check requirement.
* Arrange rabies clinics in conjunction with door-to-door checks. And make sure those clinics are within a 15-20 minutes walking distance of those houses. Don't expect everyone to have easy access to transportation or a veterinarian. Make sure the rabies clinics are low-cost.
* Have a license form online.
* Arrange low cost spay/neuter clinics around the same time as door-to-door checks and encourage people to castrate their adult animals.
* And always, be friendly. These are your constituents, not your enemies or "problems". They are people who will surprise you with their willingness to comply with your law, if given a fair chance to do so.

Don't expect miracles. Calgary's success didn't happen overnight. Even though Kern County has paid off its program in six-months, it will take a much longer time to see a great increase in licensing compliance.

The AVMA Supports Mis-Use of Antimicrobials

Howie heading outThe FDA has recently suggested that livestock producers only use antimicrobials (like antibiotics) for the treatment of disease. If that sounds reasonable, well then you must not be the livestock industry or the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association). Both believe the use of antimicrobials are integral to both human and animal health.

The AVMA testified in front of legislators that "the AVMA is committed to providing consumers with the safest food possible and to protect human health against the current risks without compromising the health of food animals".

In fact, the AVMA has a FAQ to help dispel "myths" about antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and the use of antimicrobials in the livestock industry.

From their FAQ: "They are most commonly used to prevent or treat disease and infections due to microorganisms."

This may be true in the context of companion animals, but it is a false statement in regards to livestock. The overwhelming majority of antimicrobial use in livestock occur for the following reasons:
* Growth: Antimicrobials, including antibiotics, increase the rate of growth, reduce economic loss due to extra feed, and reduce the age at slaughter while increasing weight at slaughter
* Disease caused by management practices: In lieu of treating individual animals, producers must treat entire herds and flocks because of housing techniques and feeding practices that increase the risk of disease. For example, 83% of feedlots raising cattle administer subtherapeutic levels of antimicrobials or use antibiotics to treat diseases caused by an improper diet (diarrhea from grain consumption, an unnatural food product for ruminants) and housing (respiratory illnesses brought on by close confinement and dust) or as a growth promotant. Cattle on cow-calf operations, which are traditionally free-range breeding operations, do not have such a problem and do not use antibiotics so freely.

It is not profitable or economically feasible to administer individual treatments of antibiotics. If you have a turkey who is ill in a shed with 10,000 other turkeys, are you going to a) treat the whole flock; b) not treat the individual; or c) isolate the individual for a 7-10 course of antibiotics? If you are most producers, you are going to do a or b. Doing a is not a judicious use of antibiotics, no matter how you cut it.

Nearly all the feed that chickens (on both broiler and egg laying farms) and turkeys consume contain antimicrobials. These act as growth promotants (hormones cannot be given to chickens) and reduce the risk of coccidia, a common problem amongst intensely confined poultry.

It is disingenuous, at best, for the AVMA to claim that the majority of antibiotic use in the livestock sector is to treat individuals. It is not. While there may not be accurate data on how many pounds of antibiotics are used, estimates range from 30-70% of antibiotics are used in the livestock sector and primarily as growth promotants rather than therapeutically.

AVMA: In fact, the vast majority of antibiotic classes are used in both humans and animals, so there really is no such thing as "human drugs used in animals."
Ava eyeing the camera
This is a diversionary tactic by the AVMA. They are sidestepping the actual question. Should we be using antibiotics approved for humans in non humans to make them grow faster, gain weight quicker, or be cured of disease brought on by standard management practices? I wager most of you who care one iota about the integrity of our antibiotics would answer no. This affects us all - even if you avoid consuming animals fed antibiotics, you cannot avoid the side effects of their mis-use. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria do not care; they'll kill you dead just the same.

Recently, a five year study in France revealed that the cows there are rife with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  52% of recovered Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni) and 88% of Campylobacter coli (C. coli) were resistant to tetracycline. 70% were resistant to fluoroquinolone (at the start of the study, that number was 29%). Campylobacter is the most common case of gastroenteritis in the world. Guess what antibiotics are used to treat its infection in humans? Tetracycline and quinolones.

The AVMA is technically correct: we have legally sanctioned the use of similar (and the same) antibiotics in humans and non humans (and primarily subtherapeutically in non humans). So let me ask you this: If you have gastroenteritis, do you want the tetracycline and fluoroquinolone used to treat your disease also used en masse in non humans who harbor tetracycline/quinolone-resistant bacteria?

AVMA: Current science doesn't really prove what causes the types of antimicrobial resistance that create public health risks.

Smoke and mirrors! It's true, current science doesn't prove all the causes of antimicrobial resistance. We know that humans have improperly used antibiotics, prescribing them as a preventative measure rather than a response to disease. This is poor health management. We know that the use of antibacterial soaps increases the risk of antimicrobial resistance the same way the overuse of ANY antimicrobial increases the risk. We know bacteria can undergo genetic modification regardless of the use of antibiotics.

And we know that the use of antibiotics in livestock - 50 billion of them worldwide - increases the potential of antimicrobial resistance.

How we wish to parcel out the blame is certainly up in the air. It is, however, inexcusable to claim that the rampant use of antimicrobials in livestock isn't playing a role. A parachute may slow your descent, but it doesn't stop gravity from bringing you to earth. Let's be realistic and honest, AVMA.

I mean, here is a short list of organizations that believe the use of subtherapeutic and inappropriate therapeutic use of antibiotics in non humans is causing human problems:
* The World Health Organization
* The don't-do-much-FDA
* The American Medical Association
* The Union of Concerned Scientists
* Center for Science in the Public Interest
* The Pew Institute
* John Hopkins School of Public Health
* 357 human/animal health/welfare, etc. organizations

Who sits with the AVMA in opposition? The National Pork Producers. The Cattlemen's Association. Tyson Foods (which settled a lawsuit about it's false advertising claims of "raised without antibiotics" while raising chickens with antibiotics). Just about all the factory farmers who will see a massive economic hit if they can't slip millions of pounds of antibiotics to their diseased, suffering, confined animals. Not exactly great bedfellows, if your end goal is good human and decent animal health.

Antibiotics should ONLY be used to treat disease in the individual human or non human. Period. End of story. Antimicrobials that may lead to the increase in antimicrobial-resistant bacteria or fungi should only be used to treat disease in the individual human or non human. Period. And if the way we raise animals results in 50-80% of them getting sick enough to require the use of antibiotics, then we are doing something wrong.

It's fine if the AVMA wants to take this position. They should just be honest about the fact they care more about livestock producers than about the pigs, cattle, chickens, turkeys themselves OR about the mounting evidence that some antibiotic-resistant bacteria exist because we mis-use and without discretion administer large amounts of antibiotics to animals.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

A man who felt threatened by a loose Labrador Retriever decided to shoot the dog in the face with a shotgun. The dog is expected to survive.

A judge has ruled that an Alaskan Malamute who attacked a child can be killed. The child was bitten after he screamed at a party. The dog jumped on him, biting him on the face and neck. It took several people to wrestle the dog off the child.

Deer and horses top this unofficial list of animals most likely to kill you. Bovines and canines are far behind on the list.

One of the most violent rodeos, the Calgary Stampede, has killed 6 horses this year and injured several visitors (and one rider, whose horse had a heart attack and fell on her). Last year, four animals were killed. How on earth can anyone support such an event when death and injury is an absolute guarantee every single time the event occurs? Rhetorical question, folks.

SOMEPit! provides Pit Bull education in Bangor, Maine.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mina Has a Meadow

There should be no doubt about Mina's Awesome Quotient. It's in the kajillions, people.

But just in case there WAS doubt, here is further evidence that Mina is one Cool Dog - she has her own meadow.

july 17 2010 mina sma

Yeah, she bad. A few months ago, the farmed animal sanctuary where I work moved from 60 to 600-acres. It was a long process, and as a reward for the staff who facilitated the move, we each got a pasture or a road sign. I chose a pasture, and of course, to honor the Dog Before All Other Dogs (Big Paw Prints to Fill), I picked Mina's Meadow.

Mina's Meadow isn't actually a meadow, but it is the dog yard before you get into the education center (the white house). Mina has to share, which is so not her, but she's dealing with it well. ;)

Also, please note that Mina is not a ginormous dog. That is not a 10' fence with a 5' dog in front of it. It's like a 5' fence with a 17" tall dog in front of it.

Oh, and just to show she is not THAT impressed:

Mina Has a Meadow

Mina yawns. Or laughs maniacally.

Around the Intarwebz

A recent study suggests what most vegans/vegetarians already knew - people who consume meat tend to diminish the consumed animal's ability to suffer.From the article, "Our research shows that one way people are able to keep eating meat is by dampening their moral consideration of animals when sitting at the dinner table."
That is to say, people will discard their moral considerations and thought in lieu of modifying their behaviors. Instead of simply refraining from consuming the flesh and by-products of suffering beings, people cope by denying cow, pigs, chickens, turkeys, sheep, goats, rabbits and others can suffer...or that their suffering is somehow less so than that of a traditional "companion animal" (in the United States, primarily dogs and cats).

A Galena Park animal control officer was sentenced to five days in jail and 120 hours of community service after he picked up a loose puppy, shot the dog and dumped his body in a dumpster. Nothing says punishment for killing a puppy like five days in jail!

Yet another example of our schizophrenic relationship with Pit Bulls. This Pit Bull mix was doused with gasoline and set on fire. Hundreds of people are wishing her well and donating money for her care. Comments are in support of the dog. No one seems to be clamoring for they dog's death based on her breed.

An Akita and German Shepherd will be euthanized after killing several lambs and sheep.

A Border Collie Lab Mix and a Labrador Retriever were tracked down after biting a boy. The dogs were running loose when they bit the child (or one of them did).

The Value of Ear Skritches to Dogs

The city of St. Louis health department suggests animal shelters should be a pet guardian's 10th choice for relinquishment. In reality, it should be the 1st, because we should be an enlightened society where unwanted dogs and cats can fine permanent homes through area shelters. And we should continue to work toward that goal. (I can't help but cringe to see craigslist as an option higher than the shelter with an apparent 80% adoption rate...)

An Australian Shepherd lunged for a ball and instead tore into the face of a 1-yr-old child in what authorities are calling an accidental "play" bite. The child suffered serious facial wounds and is currently at the hospital.

Providence Animal Control Kills 21 Pit Bulls to "Control" Virus

This is Tiger. He's the featured pet for Providence Animal Control.

As of this morning, his petfinder page is still available here.

Tiger is a 2-3 year old Pit Bull. He is friendly and energetic, and he really loves rope toys and fetchy games. Wouldn't he make a lovely addition to the family?

Too bad that Tiger was killed by Providence Animal Control (PAC). He and 20 other Pit Bulls were all "euthanized". The shelter claims it was to confine an outbreak of parvo, but appears to me that the PAC  wanted a reason to kill the 21 Pit Bulls at their shelter.

All the non Pit Bull dogs are still in quarantine. They are still alive. There is still a chance that they will get to play fetchy games with a family...unlike Tiger.

Maybe PAC will prove me wrong by providing veterinary statements for those 21 Pit Bulls who were all killed. Maybe they all had a highly virulent form of CPV2 and were all symptomatic and at death's door. Maybe they did try supportive therapy, like fluids, to help rehydrate the dogs, only to find the dogs were all too far gone.

But my guess is they did not. My guess is they did not ask for supportive care treatment from area vets. My guess is they did not ask for donated fluid bags to at least TRY fluid therapy. My guess is they didn't get a lot of diagnostics done to ascertain the severity (the less severe and more common form of CPV2 has a 90% survival rate).

I'm okay being proven wrong on this one. I like to think shelters are there to help animals and will go the extra 1/4 mile to see that they survive. I like to think they don't go around killing treatable dogs based solely on their breed. So please, please prove me wrong Providence Animal Control. Please explain how 21 Pit Bulls are dead but 10 non Pit Bulls are still alive, even though they shared the same kennel space and breathed the same air as those 21 Pit Bulls.

Tiger, I'm sorry our shelter system failed you in the worst way. You deserved another 10-12 years of fetchy games and rope toys. You didn't deserve this.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Queensland's BSL Strikes Again

In April of this year, a Queensland man lost a court fight in which his pedigreed American Staffordshire Terrier's life was on the line. Queensland authorities determined the dog was an American Pit Bull Terrier and, as such, should be dead. Pit Bull Terriers and several other breeds (but not ASTs) are banned in Queensland. The man who fought the court case invested thousands of dollars in overturning mis-identification of other people's dogs. Turns out Queensland authorities aren't that great at picking out the actual APBT.

Well, Queensland has struck again. Since May of this year, two dogs have been languishing in a shelter system as their owners fought for their right to live. These are two, friendly pets. They are not biters. They have never bitten anyone nor have they exhibited aggressive behaviors. As luck would have it, they are owned by a family who refuses to give up. In fact, while the father of the family is in Melbourne for work, the mother and children remain in Queensland until they get their dogs back.

While Gold Coast, Queensland authorities spend tax-payers dollars to care for the dogs and fight the case, the family went out and got DNA testing done.

Now, I don't believe canine DNA testing is highly accurate. It's in its infancy and is contingent upon the markers used and the breeds/diversity available. There is no genetic marker for American Pit Bull Terriers. And even if they were, it is unbelievably sad that DNA testing would be used to determine whether a dog lives or dies.

That said, the DNA test showed the two dogs in question are a Golden Retriever/Boston Terrier cross and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier/Boxer cross.The family submitted the reports to the council.

What's next? Well, no worries. /sarcasm. The council will get back to the family in two weeks. Geez louise. Here we have a case with two nonviolent dogs, a family who loves them, and a chance to get a couple friendly dogs OUT of Queensland, and the council's going to take two weeks to decide whether the DNA test is enough evidence to release the dogs? It's not the best evidence, but it isn't better or worse than using a 22-point visual identification process.

Like a scratched record you just have to break, BSL is a cracked, failed system of addressing canine aggression. It does not work. It never will work, not unless we develop a breed of dog who is toothless, nail-less and incapable of exhibiting aggressive behaviors. Until then, no matter how many breed restrictions we set forth, public safety will not improve, nice dogs will die, and millions of tax-payers money will be wasted. What a sinking ship.

Man Fears Rabies After Vaccinated Dog Causes One Puncture Wound

I don't know how else to describe this story except hyperbolic.

A man was picking up a car on a friend's property. It was next door to a house where a Pit Bull lived. The dog jumped over the fence and approached the man aggressively. The man whips out a knife and stabs the dog in the chest.

According to the man, he's bleeding profusely from what sounds like fifty million bite wounds. Except he wasn't even bitten during the "attack" - he was jumped on and he reacted by stabbing the dog.

He goes next door to report the "attack" (also know as not-biting) and when the door is opened, he starts swinging wildly at the dog who bites him once.

His wounds?

Well, according to the man himself, he was gushing blood (b/c he's on blood thinners) and when he showed the wound, it was one puncture wound. Superficial, at best.

The owner was cooperative when animal control arrived and presented the officers with updated license and vaccination information. He brought the dog out, who appears to be a pretty calm, confident dog, not a rampaging menace to society.

I'm not going to say the dog wasn't being aggressive. He was. But he showed incredible self-restraint in the face of a biped who was willing to jam a knife in his chest. He showed incredible bite restraint when he bit down once- the wound was so minor, the man doesn't need a band-aid to cover it. This is not a dog who bites uninhibited. He is not a dog who goes around mauling people. He is a dog who reacted to a threat inappropriately, but in such a manner as to cause the least amount of physical damage.

Yes, the dog should be re-trained on how best to interact with irate or highly emotional people. It behooves all of us dog guardians to encourage appropriate behavior, even in the face of inappropriate human behavior. But this dog is not the crazed beast the irate "victim" wants him to be. And, for once, animal control and police recognize that.

Yet Another Reason to Avoid Aquariums

A wild-caught dolphin made an attempt at escape during a show in Japan. The dolphin survived. Her group-mates stay by the side of the enclosure during most of the "rescue" attempt.

There is no other purpose for these types of shows than entertainment. That is not sufficient reason to catch, breed and exploit a group of animals.

Around the Intarwebz

Concord, NH police are finally investigating a dog attack involving one of their K-9 units. They only did so after the victim's father pushed for it. The German Shepherd was on a drug investigation and off-lead when the dog attacked a Labrador Retriever Mix and then the 13-yr-old owner trying to protect her dog. She was bitten several times on the arm before being put under control.

Researchers observe wild cats mimicking the calls of their prey.

A Pit Bull or Pit Bull mix named Mitzu is credited with saving a family from a devastating house fire in Australia. The news outlet chooses not to mention the breed of dog.

The Sacramento SPCA is taking in 150 small dogs from a rescue agency. They are not calling it a hoarding case instead saying it is a "situation where a well meaning rescuer got in over her head and needed assistance with the animals in her care". That sounds a lot like a hoarding case to me.

Laureldale, PA police chief doesn't see any reason for the town to ban Pit Bulls or Rottweilers just because some citizen is concerned about a couple nonviolent, friendly dogs. The city averages one dog bite a year.

Police are ruling the death of a 5-yr-old boy a "homicide" after the child was found mauled to death by one or both of the dogs living there. One dog is a medium sized black cross breed, the other is a mixed breed w/ husky/wolf/german shepherd or something or other.. The child was put to bed around 10/11 pm and was killed during the night - he had been dead several hours before being discovered.

A man shot and killed a dog who was fighting with his dog. Both dogs were on-leash - one was a Boxer, the other a Lab/Chow mix. The owner of the Boxer shot and killed the Lab/Chow mix and also accidentally shot the owner of the other dog. Classy.

A cosmetics company went bankrupt and left 55 dogs and monkeys alone in a warehouse. The owner of the dogs, all Beagles, unsuccessfully filed a suit to prevent the dogs from going to homes. He wanted the dogs to go to another cosmetic lab and inhale caustic chemicals for cosmetics. The Beagles have been given to dog rescue agencies for placement. I'm not sure what happened to the monkeys.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Celeste Can Run

Celeste running

UK Police Officer Wants to Kill Friendly Pit Bulls But Not Her Vicious Dog

Julia Pendry is in charge of "cracking down" on vicious dogs in the United Kingdom. Vicious is defined loosely. The Dangerous Dog Act cares little about behavior and more about a) what kind of dog is biting/being walked/existing and b) where that bite occurs. If you are attacked by a non-banned breed of dog on private property and, say you loose an arm...well, sucks to be you - your attack isn't covered by law. If you walk a friendly Pit Bull down the street, prepare to be criminalized and your dog confiscated and killed - your non-attacking, friendly pet IS covered by the law.

In fact, Julia Pendry would gleefully confiscate your friendly pet and happily kill him. More specifically, she is quoted as having said, "it would be absolutely fantastic’ to kill the thousands of illegal breed, dangerous dogs confiscated by police." Absolutely fantastic!

But Julia likes to be exempt from her own rules. She lets her aggressive dog run loose and maul unsuspecting Airedale terriers. Her dog is a German Shepherd and is not covered by the Dangerous Dog Act. The victim's only saving grace is that the aggressive German Shepherd was in a public place when she tried to disembowel her dog. Technically, that's covered by the Dangerous Dog Act.

No need to worry, Julia says she'll pay some of the vet bill and will keep her dog muzzled. Nothing screams responsible ownership like partially paying for your dog's mauling of another dog. Sure, both dogs were off-lead, but the Airedale terrier was under voice control, next to her owner, and just standing there. The German Shepherd, however, was not under Julia Pendry's voice control, was far away from her owner, needed to be rugby-tackled (which wasn't sufficient, the dog escaped Pendry's grasp and attacked again), and kept trying to eat the screaming terrier. I say she pay in full.

If these are the people enforcing the Dangerous Dog Act, no wonder nothing is getting done. They'll happily kill nice, friendly dogs while letting their mean, aggressive ones run free. Ineffective law for the fail!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

To Kill a Mockingbird Turns 50

As a child, I fell in love with Scout and Atticus Finch. Scout for her curiosity and innocence, Atticus for his true adherence to non violence and humility. I may not have comprehended the nuances or messages of the novel then, but would fall even more in love with the novel in later years.

This weekend, I'll pick up my well-read copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and celebrate its 50th birthday. I hope you do the same or, if you've never read it, go to your library or book store and get a copy!

Happy Birthday, Scout! 

America's Favourite Novel Vital After 50 Years
To Kill a Mockingbird 50th Anniversary Quiz
To Kill a Mockingbird: Enduring, Endearing at 50 Years

Have you read the book? Is it one of your favorites?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Another Scare Where Media Has Misled Us

Drowning is the second leading cause of death for kids under the age of 15 and the half drown within 25 yards of an adult or parent.While dogs kill 30 adults and children a year, approximately 750 children under the age of 15 will drown this year. Water is sometimes taken seriously but often treated as a benign entity - it's all around us. Dogs are too, but they manage to abstain from killing 750 of our children annually.

When you think of a person drowning, what is the iconic image that comes to mind? Splashing, waving arms, screaming, violent attempt to grab attention.

This is what we see on television. It is absolutely false.

If you become distressed in water, you retain a modicum of control over your bodily functions. You can scream. You can wave your arms frantically. You can kick in the water as well. It's called aquatic distress and while it should be taken seriously, it is not actual drowning.

Drowning is silent. Your ability to control movement diminishes. In fact, there's a term for it called the Instinctive Drowning Response. Things you cannot do when the instinctive drowning response kicks in?
* You cannot speak - you are too busy trying to take in air
* You cannot wave for help - your arms instinctively stretch out in an attempt to keep you above water
* You cannot swim or move towards rescuers - your body remains vertical

When a person enters the instinctive drowning response, you have less than 60 seconds to help.


Public service announcement bit: "Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning.  They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck.  One  way to be sure?  Ask them: “Are you alright?” If they can answer at all – they probably are.  If they return  a blank stare – you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them.  And parents: children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why."

Friday, July 9, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

A UK woman has received a second citation after her Doberman Pinscher escaped and attacked several sheep.

California Governor Schwarzenegger signs into law a bill that requires eggs imported from out of state comply with California's standards, as set forth by the passage of Proposition 2 in 2008. This means all eggs imported into California must house hens in a way that allows the birds to stretch their wings/limbs, turn around, lie down, stand up without touching the sides of their enclosures. This shuts down the whines from egg farmers who claimed that all eggs would come out of state and all the farmers would flee California. Of course, it doesn't make much difference for the hens - they're still going to be slaughtered at 1-2 years of age (they can live 7-10) and their brothers are still going to be ground up alive or suffocated when they are sexed. It probably won't eliminate de-beaking, either, as beak trimming occurs on cage-free and large free-range operations as well.

King County animal control is being sued by the owner of a dog who died in the shelter's care. The dog was being quarantined for a bite. The shelter put the dog in a kennel with another dog, a violation of the rabies quarantine. The dog contracted kennel cough which may have exacerbated some other underlining condition. Although the shelter provided antibiotics to the dog, they did not get bloodwork done nor did they notify the owners of the dog's significantly deteriorated condition. At the end of the quarantine, the owners were shocked by the dog's condition and brought her home. She died the next day. King County animal shelter is blaming Des Moines animal shelter who brought the dog in (they contracted w/ King County). Blame game for the fail.

An Akita mauls a small spaniel, had to be wrestled off the dog in the UK.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

ID Tags

What company do you use for your pet id tags? I need to get new id tags for my dogs and want a tag with some longevity behind it. I'm tired of tags scratching off and becoming illegible. HomeAgain has a nice metal tag that I like, but I want something cheaper than $25/tag.

Suggestions, please!

Who Needs Enemies When This Person is Your Spokesperson?

A lot of this is due to the differences in behavior Campbell says is related to breed. "Pit bulls are bred to fight" Campbell said "in the same way retrievers are bred to retrieve." While many of us know pits we adore, Campbell says the instinct to attack is in the breed's nature the same way herding is in even the most urban sheepdog's DNA. 

That's Deb Campbell, San Francisco Animal Care and Control's spokesperson who is also apparently a canine geneticist. The first, by the way, to discover the "attack instinct" gene. Color me impressed.

Campbell is not a breed expert. She was a volunteer coordinator at the shelter and apparently she's also their spokesperson. For Pit Bulls, it's a bit like an unrepentant drunk driver being the spokesperson for MADD.

Not all Pit Bulls are bred to fight. I'd wager most are not. Most are bred to produce puppies for people to sell at a cheap price for profit. Most Retrievers are not bred to retrieve, most are bred to produce puppies for people to buy.

True fact: Very few dogs are bred to perform their original function.

There is not a genetic marker known to experts that, when knocked-out, eliminates the "instinct to attack".  Aggression is not a single-variable trait, there is not a 1:1 ratio between gene expressed and attack behavior. People still debate some of the more nuanced expression of coat color, and aggressive behavior is far more complex.

Which is why, if you are a spokesperson for an agency that is supposed to protect animals, you should not espouse lies as if they were truth. It is a huge disservice to an already exploited and discriminated against dog and their guardians.

Couple Nice Stories

A Staffordshire Bull Terrier has posthumously received the animal equivalent of the George's Cross for her heroic behavior two years ago. Machete-armed burglars entered her owner's home, nearly severing the husband's hand. One of the intruders raised the machete over the head of the wife, and that is when the dog jumped into action. Although she was cut by the machete, she survived. She died in March from cancer.

A Pit Bull is being hailed as a hero after he alerted the family that a fire was rapidly spreading through the house. In fact, this dog went so far as to try and drag the bassinet out of the house, in an attempt to save the baby. Everyone survived, including the dog, but tragically their house did not. The Red Cross is helping the family. Elkhart officials attempted to ban Pit Bulls but lost by one vote earlier this year.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sanctuary Hens Available for Adoption

July 7, 2010 -Source: (or the place where I work-ify).
Last month, 200 hens arrived safe and sound from a small egg farm. They are the very first residents of Animal Place's Rescue Ranch, a 60-acre farmed animal adoption and placement center located on the former site of the Animal Place sanctuary.
The hens arrived with leg trauma. When they were young, the farm manager attempted a new   identification system- plastic-coated, wire leg bands. Unfortunately, while the legs of the hens grew, the bands did not. More than 90% of the hens had deeply embedded leg bands, some to the bone.
It has taken almost two weeks of intensive care for the first group of birds to be ready for placement.
The manager will not be using these identification bands anymore.
We are placing the hens into permanent homes. Check out the adoption information below.

 How to Adopt Hens

These hens are all commercial brown layer crosses. They have been bred to produce an amazing 250-300 eggs a year - 5 times more than normal. When their production decreases, they are generally sent to slaughter. They are 1.5 years old and can live another 6-7 years.
All the animals received by Rescue Ranch will be placed into permanent homes. Those who cannot be placed will be sent to the 600-acre sanctuary in Grass Valley, CA.
All of the rescued hens are available for adoption. If you are interested in adopting, please contact Marji Beach at or 530-798-5114. You will be requested to fill out an adoption form and, if approved, pick-up of birds will be arranged.  Adoption fees are to be paid upon pick-up of birds. The fees cover the care of the birds and allow us to continue our life-saving work. Any additional donations are greatly appreciated!
The adoption fees are as follows:
1-4 hens: $10/each
5-11 hens: $7/each
12+ hens: $5/each

About the Farms

Animal Place's Rescue Ranch is unique in that we work directly with farmers to provide an alternative to slaughter for a small percentage of hens in the egg laying industry. There are more than 15 million hens raised for eggs in California. Most will never find true sanctuary. The farms we work with range from small, pasture-based operations to larger facilities.
Animal Place is honest - we are a vegan organization promoting compassion to all life. We may never see eye to eye with farmers on some issues, but we hope to find common ground in order to save as many lives as possible. Toward that end, we keep all information about cooperating farmers private, and they reciprocate by not using Rescue Ranch as a tool to promote the consumption of their eggs.  We do not bring cameras or recording equipment into the farm and both parties sign confidentiality agreements. Again, Rescue Ranch's goal is save as many lives as possible without compromising the integrity of our organization.

Around the Intarwebz

A Labrador Retriever who bit a child a week earlier, attacked a girl over the 4th of July. The dog picked the child up by the head, severing part of her ear and leaving bite wounds on her head and neck.

A muzzled Cattle dog "attacked" three people through telekinesis, or that's my best guess for how the muzzled dog "attacked" people.

A Border Collie has been ordered killed after attacking a child in Belfast.

A K-9 has been "suspended" after he bit the wrong person during a foot chase. I'm not clear why police (or people, in general) seem to think dogs come equipped knowing who is the correct person to chase and who is just an innocent bystander. They're smart, but not that discerning.

A woman is surprised after she entered private property and was attacked by the property owner's guard dog, a German Shepherd. While I appreciate her argument, she should have notified the property owner of her presence, end of story.

An Akita was allowed to run off-leash in the UK and attacked a young boy, inflicting several bite wounds on the boy's leg.

Thankfully, a Greyhound rescue has stepped up to take custody of a Greyhound who bit a child twice. The dog was put in an unfair situation after his owner took in a coworker and her son, until she could find a home. During that stressful time the dog, afraid of children, was set up to fail. Now the dog will have a chance at life in an appropriate home environment.

A German Shepherd is allowed to remain at his owner's home after attacking a teenage boy, causing 24-stitches of damage on his chest and arm. The dog had attacked another boy previously, biting the child in the face.

A German Shepherd Mix is holding up mail in Springfield, MO neighborhood. The dog hasn't bitten any mail carrier but chases them. The owner seems to think it's fine to let the dog loose on the porch.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Difference A Breed Makes

People's response to dog attacks can vary dependent solely on how the dog is portrayed.

For example, here are two reported dog attacks that occurred over the 4th of July.

The first involves a Pit Bull who inflicted minor bite wounds on a 5-yr-old child.
Some of the 14 Comments include:
Why would the police put the dog back instead of 6 slugs to the head...????
so, maybe the attacks might have something to do with the irresponsible owner, but why do MARONS chose to have a pit?
so when the baby is around you'll be reading about another tragedy with the same ole same ole sing song..
Only fools have pit bulls and stupid people call it a pet. You and your family deserve what you get and shall recieve no sympathy from me.
Ban them like any other dangerous animal.
pit bull's have a bad rap...but there are more reports of humans attacking humans each day than dogs vs humans. 
Can't wait to hear from all the pit owners about how gentle they are. This is the third or forth pit attack of the summer already. Has anyone ever heard of another breed attacking with such frequency?

The second involves a Labrador Retriever who inflicted moderate-major bite wounds on a 2-yr-old child's head, including a severed ear and neck trauma from the bites. This is the dog's second bite.
Some of the 27 comments include:
he innocent dog, reacting to a small child, will now probably lose it's life because you, the owner, didn't use common sense.
OMG, what a beautiful dog...! And how unusual for a lab to do something like this...most of them are sooooo gentle and they love kids! 
When I saw the headline I thought for sure it was going to be another pit bull. I was very surprised it was a black lab. I've never encountered a mean Black Lab.
Prove that a lab has the jaw strength and vicious nature to PICK A CHILD UP like that. Rotties do, pitbulls are too short but have the jaw strength and tenacity. Labs...uh-uh.
It's unusual to see a mean Lab, but it is possible and until they find out what's going on in that house, is the dog being abused or what.
Crappy dog owners can lead to dangerous dogs, regardless of breed.
The dog deserves a better home, with someone who make sure his socialization process starts immediately
BTW, the dog in the photo looks to be 1/2 lab; the shape of the face is not characteristic of a full lab.
You all seem yo have fallen in line with the article stating that it's a Lab... Take a close look... It has the build of Pitt Bull, and face of a Pitt... Probablly a Pitt-Lab mix.

It's amazing how, when faced with the reality right in front of them, people will gladly defend the dog who doesn't resemble a Pit Bull while gladly suggesting death for the dog who does. And if the reality does not mesh with their preconceived notions, then make them align by claiming the dog in question cannot possibly be a - in this case - Labrador Retriever and must therefore be a Pit Bull Mix.

And no one questions it when a person states that most Labs are nice, because "nice Labrador Retriever" fits in their world view of what constitutes a family dog. It does not matter that most Pit Bulls are nice, "mean Pit Bull" fits into their world view of constitutes a dangerous dog.