Thursday, September 30, 2010

Do You Ever Wonder? Mina Never Does.

Mina was about three years old when I started fostering her.

These are the things I know about her.

1. She lived somewhere without much sun.

2. She was not socialized around people properly.

3. She was running loose with a 4' belt, three inches thick wrapped around her neck.

4. She had not eaten well in at least 2 weeks.

5. She was not licensed, collared, or microchipped.

6. She was not spayed, and she had had puppies.

Dynamic duoI know number one because the first thing Mina did when I let her out in the backyard was splay herself, sensuous and languid on the dirt. Within a day of her sun-worshipping, freckles appeared on her white belly. They have remained, a constant reminder to me that sunscreen isn't just for people. So I know that, for the first 2-3 years of her existence, she lived somewhere without meaningful access to sun.

For some reason, this hurts the most. To think of Mina isolated or locked up, kept from her sun, her people, her world...that makes the ache in my heart set aside just for Mina flare up and fling great tendrils of sadness throughout my body. To think of ANY dog kept socially isolated during their most socially sensitive period of initial existence...but Mina, Mina especially. She has spent the past 9 years making up for that denial of warmth.

I honestly do not believe Mina was physically abused. Even though she shied away from wild movements. Even though brooms and vacuums and bats made her cower in fear. I really don't think anyone hit her. What I do think is something even sadder, in some ways - a total denial of her existence. I think whoever had her first saw her as a means to an end, a way to make money off of her offspring. I believe they kept her in the garage, and that they didn't do much with her except feed, water and breed her. I don't think they saw her as a friend, companion, confidante, beautiful, perfect, sassy or meaningful. When she was young, I doubt they took her on walks or introduced her to as many people as possible. She lived in a small, dark, isolated world.

STOP TAKING MY PICTURE!!I know this because when I first met Mina, she was socially stunted. There was this innate desire to submit herself to people, and an even more intrinsic desire to want people to be nice to her. But it took her time, because that was all that had been given to her. Time. Endless hours of isolation. I think of her in those days, lying on cement, gazing up at locked doors, hoping against all hope that someone - anyone - would lay down beside her and just be.

It took her a week to approach me through chain link, to wedge herself between two large, needy dogs. It took 45 minutes for her to crawl - with a great sense of relief - into an animal control officer's lap during her (failed) temp test.

But what I remember most about her idea of time was how long it took for her to playbow to me in my room. The first day I brought her home under the sweet, but naive notion of "fostering" her, I invited her up on the bed. She looked confused, appalled, unsure. But when she climbed up, one leg after the other, she whirled around to face me. In that moment, I saw a light, a spark, a promise of difficult, amazing things to come. And in five seconds flat, I saw her very first playbow. She dug her paws into my comforter, butt high in the air, tail gently flagging back and forth. I could not admit to myself - not yet, it was too soon - that this was my heart dog, that this dog would teach me so much about unyielding love, overwhelming frustration. Mina knew, though. She knew with all her canine heart that she had found Home.

No matter her Before Me years. No matter the stupid, inane people who did not see Mina as an absolutely divine addition to their family. No matter the spiteful, mean animal control officers who wanted to see her dead (and a big MATTER to the one who didn't). No matter the tapeworms and the 15 missing lbs. No matter at all. She had arrived and was here to stay.

I don't want to paint Mina as perfect. She is The Most Difficult Dog I have ever welcomed into my life. When she dies - never, by the way - I will foster or adopt the easiest, goofiest, dorkiest, senior dog on earth. S/he will be laidback, non-reactive, confident and cool. Celeste will love them like she loves Mina, and that is saying something. I will give this senior dog a nice, happy, perfect end of their life. I don't know if they will fill my heart like Mina, or comfort me like Celeste, but I don't care. I will give and they will take, and that is 100% okay.

PUT THAT THING DOWN!But until that long-distance future, I will worry about lumps and goopy discharge. I will watch brown shift to gray, bleach to white. I will cringe when legs stop supporting tight turns during play-time in the backyard. I will continue to provide a helping hand when joints buckle. I will inhale her perfect, dog scent and wish her to live forever. I will wonder when she might go deaf, stop hearing jangling dog tags and fence fighting Jack Russell Terriers. For the twilight years ahead, I will watch as she ages with grace and utter ignorance of her weakened state. In return, she will rest her muscular head over my heart, breathe in time with me, accept my foibles, grace me with kisses and comfort me in the way she knows best. She will love. I will love. We will be perfectly different beings resting, breathing, hoping together.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Adopt These Former Research Dogs and Cats

Do it, you know you want to!

Professional Laboratory and Research was a normal laboratory that did normal experiments on normal dogs and cats. Experiments that involved normal flea products, for example, that you buy for your dogs and cats in the store or from your vet. One experimental treatment left cats vomiting, having seizures and bleeding from their noses...and it's a flea product that is sold in the store!

I don't use traditional flea products anyways, but I'm for sure not going to in the future. Not when that product is carried by hundreds of tortured, dead dogs and cats who deserved a whole lot better than humanity dosed out to them.

PETA went undercover. I don't give a flying monkey squirrel what you think of PETA. So don't be bashing them in the comments, because this is about the dogs and cats, not the PETA. You can see the video and violations here.

More than 100 dogs, cats and rabbits were killed to cut costs. Before they could be rescued, all the rabbits were killed. Around 200 dogs and cats, however, were lucky enough to find a fate better than the laboratory - the shelter!

The SPCA of Wake County took in 35 animals. One cat, an awesome looking one at that, has been adopted! The remaining 34 would like to sit in your lap now, please! Or ignore you. Or just stare balefully at you. Whatevs, they get to do whatever the hells they like now.

I like Marsha, personally, because she is Mina in coonhound form. Look at that face, it is so emo, I bet you're crying just looking at it! While I am concerned it might be because people were assholes to her, my gut feeling is she will look like that forever and ever, because she knows - DEEP DOWN - it is the look that is SUPPOSED to get her cookies and pats. Just because it didn't work for the past five years does not mean it won't work now. Point of fact, I just tried to shove five cookies into my computer screen. Damn you, Marsha!

Now, I'm totally not a cat person. They claw you randomly and bite you and also don't care if you are happy or sad or mad or glad. They are in their own world and it is population CAT.

But Martin. He's handsome and round-faced, and I have a suspicion that he would love to curl up in my lap and meow feline words of affection. AND THEN CLAW ME. He is a cat, after all.

Triangle Beagle Rescue also took in dogs. BEAGLE DOGS. These are Snoopy dogs, why the hell are we testing anything on them? Crazy, I know. They're raising funds for the care of the doggies they took in, if you care to know. And you do. IF you can't adopt, give money. Wake County SPCA is raising money too, but they have a lot more than that little 'ol Beagle rescue.

Anyways, if you can't adopt one of these lab animals, adopt one from your local shelter and make up a harrowing tale for them.

Mina Smiles

In a month, Mina will turn 12. She will have shared 9 of those years with me. I like to think, if she could express her thoughts on the matter, they would involve a lot of smiling. So please enjoy some Mina smiling through the years.

Mina Pit Bull Smile

Mina prances

Featuring a young Celeste!

2010 World Clock

A lot of neat statistics.

Of course, I find the "food" section to be very provocative and tragic. All those deaths, all mostly needless. You can click "now" at the top to see how many animals are killed worldwide - in 10 seconds, more than 15,000 animals have been slaughtered.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Atheists Know More About Your Religion Than You Do

The poor Pew Forum's server was not made to handle the interest garnered after a recent New York Times Article, "Atheists Outdo Some Believers in Survey on Religion". It has collapsed under the pressure. Wait, it's back - here's the more detailed look at responses.

If you are really devout and really religious, you perhaps should not read my post. I am not religious. Like at all. I believe there is a universe and it is WAY bigger than me, and it's made of energy and matter that keeps getting recycled. I do not believe in the big G-man or G-woman or heaven or hell or scripture. You may believe for me, though, and save me from eternal damnation. I believe mockery is the highest form of flattery. Just kidding, I made that up because it sounded cool.

You have been warned. (As an aside, I support your right to believe in whatever makes you feel safer, happier, guiltier, whatever-er in this world...I just encourage people to do it with an understanding of that belief/faith/religion, not blind acceptance based on family, society or culture).

When I was attending Catholic middle school, then high school, every now and then I was forced into sitting through a mass. Participation wasn't mandatory, presence was. I sat in the row with my friends who all happened to be unbelievers or believers of something other than Catholicism. When most of the class got up to receive eucharist, it turns out 45% of them (nearly half!) didn't know that they were literally eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ. I knew, but I wasn't Catholic. But isn't that amazing? One of the core beliefs that differentiates Catholicism from the rest of Christianity is that you're cannibalizing Christ every Sunday...but nearly 1/2 of Catholics don't know it!

Now if we got into our wayback machine to the 1500's and cared about a dude named Martin Luther and his super inflammatory writings, especially that one he nailed to a church door, then we would know he is one of the reasons for this thing called the Protestant Reformation. And if we analyzed that name closely, really closely, we would know that that is how we got Protestantism and a belief that we should just be faithful and follow the Bible verbatim and BAM! heaven is ours! Well, 53% of Protestants don't even know that Martin Luther's crazy antics are one reason they exist (the Protestants, not the antics).

America claims to be a pretty religious country, and religious really means Christian. So it is unsurprising that only 47% knew the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist (a Tibetan one, to boot!) and only 27% of those surveyed knew that the primary religion of Indonesia is Islam, you know, the country with the largest Muslim population in the universe! And even though it seems like much of America hates Islam and some crazy preacher in Florida wanted to burn their holy book, only 54% of Americans knew the Koran IS their holy book.

Overall, most people scored a 50%. Atheists got a rocking 65%, which on this curve, is practically an A! The Jews and Mormons come in second and third, respectively.

To me, these are unsurprising findings. I would be surprised if "religious" people scored better. My impression is people are religious mostly because it's something they are used to, not necessarily something they are knowledgeable about. I mean, people believe Pit Bulls have locking jaws, not because they know anything about the skeletal structure of a dog's skull and jaw, but because they have been told it is so. We believe so many lies, we remain willfully ignorant of so many truths, simply because that is how it has been done. And when we shed that ignorance, it isn't shocking some stop believing, or believe something different, or at the very least, find a sort of comfort that they had it right the first time.

I think it is beautiful and wonderful when a person, through faith and grace and understanding, realize a certain religion or denomination is perfect for them. I think it is beautiful and wonderful when a person, through faith and grace and understanding, realize they believe in not believing or just aren't sure or want proof. I don't think people come to be atheistic or agnostic because they are wearing crisp, white lab coats or think religion is goofy or whatever stereotypes there are of atheists, but because they have faith that there isn't something out there, grace to choose a different path, and understanding of the inner-workings of their own mind and heart. And I don't think people come to be religious, truly so, because of what their parents said or priest said or because it's just part of their culture, but because they have faith in something bigger, grace to commit to that "bigness" and understanding of the inner-working of their own mind and heart.

But I would not bemoan the day religion ceased to exist. Blasphemous, I know.

Going Vegan: Animal Friendly Body Products

Veganism is a way of life, not just a diet. It seeks to reconcile what I believe is our inherent compassion with our actual behavior. I believe it is a lifestyle that the majority of the world can commit to with ease, and that it fits in nicely with the ideas of kindness, respect, sustainability, and good health.

I know it's scary. Anything different holds unreasonable power over our rational thought. Veganism is not seen as mainstream (b/c it's not!) and the stereotypes associated with vegans aren't always nice (and always ironic when I hear it come from people who fight against BSL, heh). But veganism is nonviolence. It is peace. It is a paradigm of healthy living and a sustainable future.

So, if you are at all interested in reducing your harmful (unintentional or otherwise) impact on animals (and by extension, the environment), I thought it would be nice to do a series of posts about veganism. And because I think body products are the LEAST controversial way to approach veganism, I thought I'd start with what I use and what you can use that doesn't harm animals or the environment. Or, that at the very least, reduces our negative impact on non humans and the planet.

Almost all of these products are available in supermarkets, at least in the United States. Yes, some are more expensive than other products, but many are priced comparably. And some stores offer their vegan generics right alongside the name-brands, so good deals are available.

Shampoo & Conditioner
I use Shikai color reflect shampoo and their spray-on conditioner. It's about $5.00 for one shampoo. You can find their shampoos in most supermarkets, like Safeway, and also in pharmacies, like Rite-Aid and CVS. They are also sold at Whole Foods and natural food markets.

Their products are not tested on animals nor do they contain animal ingredients. They use primarily organic ingredients as well.

Jason has dandruff shampoo as does Avalon.

Other products that are animal friendly and commercially available include: Jason, Alba (some products contain honey), Nature's Gate, Avalon, Giovanni, Dr. Bronner's (just get past the weird text on their products). Trader Joe's has their own line of really cheap vegan and organic products too!

Target sells Alba, Avalon, Nature's Gate, Giovanni and Dr. Bronner's. Wal-mart sells Avalon and Giovanni. No excuses if they sell it at these two stores!

I use Jason toothpaste, because it "foams" up nicely. Some natural toothpaste doesn't get thicker while brushing, which I don't like but some people don't mind. I get mine from Raley's, a large supermarket chain.

Tom's of Maine, which was purchased by a large corporation, has mostly vegan products (some have bee products) and their toothpaste is generally vegan. They are one of the few animal friendly products sold alongside their not-so-animal-friendly counterparts.

All of the brand names mentioned under shampoo also make soaps, facial cleansers, toners, etc. I use Giovanni's chocolate sugar scrub. I work hard to avoid eating it, because while it smells delicious, it probably does not taste so great. I use Dr. Bronner's soap and Avalon's facial scrub. Kiss My Face has a great line of shaving cream that lather really well.

It is REALLY easy to veganize your body products. With most readily available at places like Target, it can be affordable too. Since many use organic ingredients, you are pledging to put pesticide and insecticide free products on your body. These companies generally have higher ethical standards that ensure humans, as much as non humans, are treated with respect and compassion. They are not tested on animals, which is most assuredly unnecessary in the world of body care products, and they do not contain animal parts (excepting some that include bee products, which I easily avoid).

So next time you need to restock on shampoo, toothpaste or soap, why not decide on the kinder, more sustainable product? It's not going to break the bank. It's not going to turn you into a tree-hugger, even though hugging trees SHOULD be a national past-time. It's not going to fix all the world's woes. But it will mean less suffering, a healthier planet, and a great statement to the stores that sell it. Nothing in this consumer-driven world is more powerful than voting with your dollar, and the more you do it with compassion and sustainability in mind, the more readily available these products will be. If they could, the animals would thank you. Since they can't, I will!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

BadRap Talks About the Missouri Bust

BadRap has a post over at their blog discussing the recent revelation that Missouri police and the Humane Society of Missouri bought and used 40 dogs to make an enormous fight bust across multiple states and involving at least 500 dogs. Read the comments; it's a good discussion, I think.

I wrote about this three days after I read the extensive article earlier this month detailing the subpar treatment the "investigation" dogs received (few survived the aftermath) and how the Humane Society of Missouri and the Missouri law enforcement agency endorsed and funded the purchase of 40 dogs from a breeder and then fought them. It is not an easy read, by the way. You can't do anything but ache for those dogs. They weren't heroes. They were victims, but victims of a shelter who should have protected them and tax-payer funded investigators who, in my view, should have come up with something else. And most were killed afterwards, so poorly were they's a bad sign when dogs from non-sanctioned dogfighters are better treated and more behaviorally sound than the "investigative" dogs.

I've been waiting for the rescues involved to talk about this issue. It was surprising that they didn't, because it seemed such an important topic of discussion for any rescue that takes in fight-bust dogs.

So I asked about it in the comments, because I admit to not knowing the logical reasons for not talking.

From Donna, "gag orders come along with working on any case, federal cases especially. We talk when the time is right." and Tim, "The opportunity to help these dogs comes at the eleventh hour with no previous knowledge of a game plan. With the dogs' best interest in mind we have said yes in these cases, however legally, we cannot speak in public about the particulars of the individual dogs we have taken on. Be certain though that we have not remained silent outside of the public arena as it pertains to this "questionable" practice."

Which makes me eternally grateful to newspapers like the Riverfront Times for publicizing this issue which, so far as I can tell, hasn't been given much play in larger or more national papers (combined, the two articles in the Riverfront Times and the New Times has about 30 comments, that's pitiful!) The fact that it's public means groups like BadRap can open up a dialogue. And they should - they should be leading the discussion!

I certainly hope all rescue groups and agencies involved with the rescue and placement of these dogs come out firmly against this practice. If we can fly to the freaking moon, we can figure out a way to infiltrate dog fighting rings without torturing dogs. If we can transplant hearts from one human to another, make life out of death, we for sure can divine fascinating and intriguing tactics to rid the world of dog fighters. We are smarter than this, and as a society, we have taken a firm stance against dog fighting. No exceptions given!

Interesting Comment

I'm used to the irate, the rude, the downright nasty comments I sometimes get on this blog, but a comment I read yesterday struck me as interesting. The comment was in response to a suggestion made that the dog pictured was not a Pit Bull but perhaps a Lab Mix.

I happen to think Parrot is a Pit Bull mix, but that's just me - a random internets person - making a guess. So is the person who suggested Lab Mix - she could be right, we could both be wrong (or right).

 The response was interesting, though. Someone wrote that the dog couldn't possibly be a Lab mix because "Parrot has a a small dip in the middle of his cranium, a common trait in most pitbulls."

So far as I can tell, these skulls - one belonging to a Pit Bull, the other to a Labrador Retriever - both have dips in the middle of their cranium.In fact, all dogs do. That's just sort of the nature of skeletal development in the canine.

It highlights, though, all the strange ways we humans come up with to differentiate breeds within the same species of animal. We don't do this with cats, not really, but with dogs in the United States, it is almost sinful, dirty maybe, to call a dog a mixed breed.

If you don't know the parents or siblings or uncles, aunts and lineage of a dog, it's a bit silly to try and conjure up a genetic profile of a shelter dog or a dog with unknown parentage. It's even sillier to dismiss a guess on breed by stating it can't be that breed b/c of one of the most common, inherently canine traits in existence - a dip in the skull. Besides, all of that is moot - you don't always get what you expect when you buy or adopt a "purebred". It's much easier to just look at the dog, the sum of all his traits and quirks - that is his essence. It's not the dip in her skull or the number of wrinkles she has.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

An off-duty Kentucky animal control officer saved 13 animals after her apartment complex caught on fire. She went door-to-door pulling animals of various species from apartments.

New research shows kids exercise more when a dog is around.

A goat farmer is found guilty of animal cruelty for last year's shooting death of a Labrador Retriever. The dog was loose and was acting aggressively at the trailer where the goats were located. The dog did not bite or attack any goat, nor was the dog loose inside the goat trailer or pasture. This man has killed three dogs in the past.

A Border Collie was no match for a bear, but the dog's owner flung a garden-variety zuchhini at the bear, scaring her off.

A Pit Bull must be spayed after getting loose and getting into a minor squabble with another dog (the dog did not require any veterinary treatment). In a nearly identical case, another dog is facing death for the exact same situation. The dog, a Labrador Retriever, got loose and got into a fight with a smaller dog who suffered no injuries nor did the owner complain (until a month later, interestingly). Officials are making it as hard as possible to defend the dog, requiring a $2,500 fee to appeal the decision to kill a healthy dog without obvious or significant behavioral problems. And just to show how inconsistent we are with dogs, a Rottweiler that savaged a small child is being spared death.

Dog Attacks
An elderly man is bitten by a German Shepherd in the UK, where Pit Bulls are banned.

A girl in Pennsylvania was bitten multiple times by a Labrador Retriever Mix after she stepped off a trampoline. She was playing with other children in the yard where the dog was kept. The owner's other dog has bitten people in the past as well.

A 9-yr-old German Shepherd with a history of biting people was running loose when he bit a man and a child. When police arrived, the dog bit them too. The dog was not shot, though, but was corralled into the back of a police cruiser and then tranquilized. He has been returned to his owner who now owns a Potentially Dangerous Dog.

A dog described as a Border Collie was running loose when he attacked a woman walking her dog. The woman suffered puncture wounds. This is the UK, where Pit Bulls are banned.

A family is filing a lawsuit against the St. Croix Sheriff's department for a dog bite incident involving a K-9. The victim, a teenager, had been told to run from a home where he and his friends were being threatened by the armed homeowner. He did so. When police told him to get to the ground, he did so. At that point, the police dog attacked him, causing significant injuries to his arm. It was not easy getting the dog to release his grip.

A loose Husky attacked and mauled a Jack Russell Terrier.

A Goldendoodle mutt attacked and bit a woman on the thigh, causing puncture wounds and bleeding.

A Kelpie in Australia attacked a Jack Russell Terrier and the dog's owner earlier this year. The owner of the Kelpie claims it was just a "minor" injury and, gee, why should anyone care?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Somewhere, A Dog Contorts

Somewhere out there is a mexi-mutt contorted into an impossible position on a hardwood floor, and her human caregiver does not have a camera to document it.

That somewhere is here.

Celeste does not violate the laws of physics often. She prefers to lay it all open, stretch out. Not right now. Right now, she is attempting a pretzel position, and it is comically scary.

If I could show a picture, it would say "Don't try this at home."

Which is probably good I don't have a picture. No doubt some silly dog out there would do the opposite of the caption. Silly dogs are like that.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

A German Shepherd saves his owner from an attack.

After an undercover investigation revealed horrid conditions in a vivisection lab, the lab has shut down pending an investigation (that apparently should have been done sooner, way to go USDA) and is relinquishing their tested upon victims. Lots of shelters are stepping up to the plate to help these animals, as that is their actual job to do so.

Dog Attacks
A mixed breed (described as a black husky mix) savagely mauled a little girl, in Lawrence County, PA causing 150 stitches worth of damage to the child's face.

A Jack Russell Terrier needs 20 stitches after an attack by a German Shepherd. The shepherd was leashed while the terrier, who is 15 and partially blind, was not.

A sheepdog (Border Collie mix) in the UK attacked a horse. The horse received minor lacerations and was able to run off safely. The dog was off leash when the attack happened.

A broken fence neither neighbor bothered to repair has resulted in one dead dog and another injured. The neighbor's Great Dane and German Shepherd attacked two Dachshunds, killing one. The owner of the smaller dogs was also bitten.

A dog who escaped from a burning home ended up biting an officer when she turned her back on the "seemingly friendly" dog. The officer of course shot and killed the dog.

A German Shepherd broke into a neighbor's yard and killed her miniature pinscher.

An Akita bit a child in the face, causing 50 stitches worth of damage. The dog was alone with the child in the kitchen when the child tried to pet him.

Bay County Michigan Plays Blame Game, Wastes Money on Billboards to Play Blame Game

Bay County animal control in Michigan is perpetuating the paradigm of the animal shelter blame game.

Let's be honest, the root problem of animals in shelters is pet ownership/guardianship itself. No pets, no animals being dropped off at shelters or killed. The elimination of dogs/cats as companions isn't going to end soon, and if *I'm* honest, I'll admit to not wanting it to. A world without Mina-dogs? Pshaw, not worth it!

Okay, root problem not fixable right now.

Bay County Animal Control blames irresponsible people for them killing dogs and cats. Irresponsible people are, according to the shelter, people who don't castrate and license their animals. They want you to know this so badly they're plastering the "spay/neuter" message on billboards! Taxpayer's dollars being used to tell taxpayers they're a problem.

That's not helpful. As understanding as I am of the frustration felt by shelter employees, the blame game modus operandi hasn't been great for dogs and cats, it's time we try something else out.

Here are a few suggestions for Bay County Animal Control:
* If you want to display billboards, encourage adoption not spay/neuter.
* Work with local grocers, veterinarians and pet supply stores to offer easy-to-understand, affordable licensing forms for folks to fill out. Add a coupon for dog food or vet services to boot! Put it online.
* Accept Visa and debit cards.
* Open your shelter up on Saturdays and Sundays. Change your week-day hours of operation from 11-8 pm rather than 9-6 pm. If you have to be closed two days, do it during the week, not weekends.
* Fund or coordinate low-cost spay/neuter clinics with local vets. Coordinate it with low-cast vaccine clinics too.
* Post and promote all your animals on Petfinder. Right now, Bay County has 7 animals listed. Seven!
* In addition to ads, work with your local television station and ask to do a weekly "adoptable animal" psa.
* Go door-to-door with information on licensing and spay/neuter. Don't criminalize anyone, don't hand out citations. Coordinate efforts to occur when there are spay/neuter and vaccine clinics and go to neighborhoods within walking or public transit distance.
* Actively encourage fostering and volunteering on your website and at your shelter. 

* Stop blaming people. Just stop. Being positive and pro-active will do more for animals in one month than the blame game has done in the past 30 years. 

Bay County Animal Control, you can make a difference for dogs and cats. YOU can! You'll feel so much better by focusing on all the awesome, great things you CAN do rather than what you can't do. You can't make people do much of anything, but you can encourage them to do things they know will be beneficial to non humans and, well, themselves. You can create a more compassionate, kinder world by implementing a few changes in how you run a shelter.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tommy the Steer


Beautiful Tommy is the newest bovine resident at the sanctuary. He is an Angus, bred to grow fast to be slaughtered young. It takes up to 5 years for most bovines to reach full size, yet beef cattle are killed when they're only a little over 2 years old. Pretty young.

Tommy's small stature saved him. His "owner", a woman who saw him only as a commodity and an ideal marbled specimen, was too embarrassed to bring him to her butcher. He was too small, she said! Instead, she planned on sending him to auction but a kind-hearted horse lover stepped up and took him in.

He spent a year growing up wonderfully perfect. And now, he's ready to meet his new cow friends. He'll stay in his personal pasture for the next week and then it's off to meet the rest of the herd. They have already had long conversations across fence lines and are looking forward to the introductions.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Parrot, The Dog - A Picture Says it All

Please note: The shooting death of Parrot occurred in September of 2010. The police officer responsible was never prosecuted.

Pictures capture moments, seconds actually. They freeze time, keep it still for all eternity. Sometimes what they convey is true, sometimes photographs mask the big picture truth. But pictures, in their raw grittiness, never lie. They do not coddle or help you sleep at night.

This is a sliver of truth. This is a dog struggling the oppressive and painful subjugation by a human he doesn't know. This is a dog pinned to the concrete floor, scruffed by his neck, forced into an unnatural, uncomfortable position. This is a dog torn from his guardian who stands by, hand-up, perhaps pleading, perhaps just trying to encourage calmness.

This is the last photo of a dog well-loved by a lot of people. This is the last moment the world will see of a dog who was subsequently thrown down a flight of stairs and shot to death.

I know this story would be different if the dog in question wasn't a muscular, short-haired, blocky-headed dog. I know that had this picture shown the shaggy-haired likeness of a Retriever, that the world would not hesitate to demand action, demand the officer be held accountable for brutalizing and abusing a restrained dog. They'd be appalled that the officer remains actively on-duty, out there in the world, armed with a gun, ready and willing to subdue dogs and then toss them down a flight of stairs when the mood strikes.

No matter, most people are rightfully outraged by what transpired.

They are, in my view, feeling that way because of this one photo. It speaks to them. It says that the dog is down, he is not a threat, that in that very moment, he was safe from harming others and safe from harm. At least that is how I feel. That is what the picture conveys.

With the collective wisdom of all those legs present, all those big men with their big guns, the best solution they could come up with is to fling a dog down a flight of stairs and shoot him? Wisdom clearly is not their strong suit.

Rest in peace, Parrot. You deserved a lot more than this. You deserved a catch pole. A leash muzzle. Heck, you deserved a stun gun or taser first. You deserved being tossed into a crate, the back of a police cruiser. You deserved to be given a lot more chances than the short-sighted, narrow-minded cruel shot to the head you got.

The police report.

Around the Intarwebz

Pit Bull News

A Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the UK came to the defense of "her" infant human baby sibling when a large bull mastiff began attacking the stroller the child was in. The dog was attacked but survived. The dog was egged on by his juvenile owners who also beat the dog before the actual attack.

A Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the UK protected his owner when she was pistol-whipped by invading burglars. The dog was also hit by the pistol but was able to bite and chase the men from the home.

A UK Staffordshire Bull Terrier has been reunited with her owner after going missing for two years. The dog had been stolen but thanks to a microchip, animal wardens were able to bring together the dog and her owner.

A UK tv personality adopted a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, saying that it's the only breed for him and his family.

A woman in the UK is really concerned about "fighting dogs" in her neighborhood after two Staffordshire Bull Terriers killed a loose cat. She was SO concerned about these dogs that she brought them into her home, then her car and drove them around, trying to find some authority figure to take the dogs. They were SO dangerous, SO violent, that they sat placidly for candid photo shoots and car rides. Talk about fear-mongering.

Dog Attacks

Five mixed breed dogs fatally attacked several zoo animals in China. Zookeepers then proceeded to beat three of the dogs to death.

A Labrador Retriever with a history of running loose has bitten a 17-mos old child. Authorities are looking for the dog and his owner.

Police and animal control once again show their ineptitude in Sioux City while dealing with a loose llama. The llama was shot and killed after a prolonged chase.

Screw pacifiers, dead bats are the go-to teething ring for babies in Salt Lake City.

A dog missing for seven years after being stolen in 2003 was reunited with his owners after being dropped off at a shelter and scanned for a microchip, which luckily was traced back to his previous guardians.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Camera Play Time With the Dynamic Duo

This flash has been sitting, waiting for me to use it, really use it. Admittedly, I find it to be an imposing piece of equipment. Also, I have no clue how to use it properly. I am the kind of person who loves reading instruction manuals, but I just haven't done that yet with this flash. Any decent shot is the result of luck, really.

I do not lack subject matter when it comes to the dogs. Both are willing participants. Err, sort of.

These photos are probably not the best example of photography out there. Excuse all the extra stuff in some of the shots, I was too lazy to properly clone out crap or alter any settings. What you see is what you get sort of deal. The only thing I believe I did correctly was to bounce the light and use a diffuser to alleviate some of the harsh lines a flash produces. That ended up being the extent of my skillz.

Also, there is a really embarrassing shot of Mina that I must decide whether to share or not. She rarely takes bad photos, and this one isn't horrible, per se, but it's not all that flattering.

Until then, please enjoy these shots of the dynamic duo.

Here, Mina is concerned. Celeste is wondering why Mina is concerned. Stuffed dog toy is stuffed. Back to Mina - is that face not kissable, that entire being not huggable? She is cuteness embodied.

Mina is uber bored
When pleading stare does not work, Mina tries stress yawning. Celeste goes back to sleep. Camera bag is camera bag.

Mina is noble times two
Yes, I am that person who commissions an artist to paint portraits of her dogs. Here Mina demonstrates the accuracy of said portrait. Noble Mina times two. Crazy Celeste is bonus.

Mina and Celeste tug
No letter shaped dogs but proof that my dogs do like each other enough to try and share a toy. 'Cept neither really share toys. Mina wins this bout and this is Celeste's response:

Celeste is nuts
This shot truly encompasses the nuttiness of Celeste. I love her for it.

Officer Shoots and Kills Two Restrained Dogs who Attacked a Loose Dog

Here's a more detailed article, which indicates that the officer shot before even attempting to separate the dogs.

Two leashed dogs were being walked when a blind, unleashed dog ended up approaching them. The dogs got into a fight. Remember, two of the dogs were leashed, so I'm not sure why on earth no one could get them apart. It's not rocket science, people.

Instead of dealing with the loose dog, a police officer busts out his service weapon and kills the two dogs. Who were leashed.

The impression given is that not much time passed before a lethal weapon was brought into play.

The two leashed dogs were a Cheasapeake Bay Retriever and Rottweiler.

How many dog fights involving two leashed dogs and one unleashed dog have you witnessed in which the ONLY solution available is shooting two dogs twice, killing them?

Either we're missing some significant information or we might be looking at a case of a trigger-happy individual shooting the only two restrained dogs in a fight against an unrestrained, unleashed dog.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ruby Rubicon, Sitting Piglet of Doom

Ruby is growing up fast. She has graduated from a puppy harness to a big dog harness. Soon, no harness will contain her. Her favorite past-time continues to be sitting and begging for food.

Ruby Sitting Pretty

Behold, evidence! I know it's not the dynamic duo making letters on my bed, but she's pretty adorable. Ruby will grow up to be a big, beautiful pig. Her days will be full of porcine adventures. Not once in her life will she know the feel of a captive bolt gun or a knife to the throat. No one around her will gaze into Ruby's eyes (when those floppy ears perk up) and see her as "food". Loved, respected, cherished...all for being Ruby. Pretty cool deal.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

Pit Bull News
Six friendly rescued Pit Bulls are ready for adoption at the Palm Beach shelter.

Former dogfighters, many of them quite young, now work with their dogs to achieve obedience certificates instead of fighting.

An abandoned, malnourished Pit Bull is on her way to a rescue and a chance at life in Indiana.

Ruby, a Pit bull mix immortalized in a "rags-to-riches" book, is signing paw-to-graphs .

The Marshall County animal shelter in West Virginia is looking for volunteers to help with their Pit Bull Task Force, which will be set with the task of educating about Pit Bulls and getting more adopted from the shelter.

Dog Attacks
Another attack that once again dispels the myth that only Pit Bulls "attack the face/neck and cause serious damage". This one is out of the UK, where Pit Bulls are banned. A toddler was petting a Border Collie when the dog launched a savage attack. The dog caused 200 stitches worth of damage and it took several people beating the dog off to stop the attack. The child will be scarred for life, although he is at least alive.

A Boxer in the UK, where Pit Bulls are banned, attacked a girl, causing 18 stitches worth of damage.It took two men and more than five minutes to get the dog to let go of the child's leg.

A goat was severely attacked by an Alaskan Malamute who had escaped from his yard.

A loose bullmastiff in the UK, with a history of aggression, attacked a Springer Spaniel puppy, nearly killing the dog.

A German Shepherd being walked by a 14-yr-old girl broke free from his lead and attacked a small dog, causing moderate injuries.

A loose Dogue De Bordeaux attacked a Beagle, and then severely bit a man in the arm as he tried to protect his dog.

A recently adopted, elderly mastiff mix who was constantly kept on a chain was left alone with the family's children. At some point, the female child tripped and possibly kicked the dog on accident. The dog attacked her, causing significant wounds. The dog was killed.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Crossroads of Mina and Celeste

Celeste and Mina are forming a T with their bodies.

When Celeste was young, she hated when Mina tried to make T's with her. Only through great persistence and ignoring offended sighs did Mina achieve victory. These days, Celeste and Mina will sometimes make infinity, never-ending contours of sinewy muscle and feathered tails.

Mina is a touchy-feely dog. She leans deeply into you, as if by fitting the contours of your body, she might find her own solidness. When I first adopted her, she only did this to people she trusted. I don't know the day this changed. Years passed by, I know that, in which she carefully, ever so carefully, selected the people she'd let into her circle. Now, everyone is fair game. Even when she is unsure, when she pulls away, there is a part of her body always reaching out. Sometimes it's her nose, stretching as far as her neck will let her. Other times, it's her paw moving forward. In every movement, she is hoping for physical contact and if at all possible, a chance to nestle deep in your lap, lean heavily against your chest, and stare deeply into your eyes.

Celeste is a selectively touchy-feely dog. She rubs up against you, a feline stuck in a dog's body, spreading her scent across your legs, itching herself the easiest way she knows how. Her greetings are flighty, intense but fleeting. Sometimes they are painful, bashing of canine ribcage against human legs. Even in her quiet moments, when all she wishes is to drape herself across your lap, there is a tautness, an ever-present readiness to move. One shift of the leg, one deep intake of breath, and she's off to something else. At times, she is other, a wildness creeps into her eyes, filters through her slender frame. The world stands still and she is the world, present and perfect and then quickly gone.

Mina and Celeste aren't different sides of the same coin. Their currencies are from two different nations. They are bound by the most basic of things - home, family/pack, food, play. In any other circumstance, they would never be friends, never connect, their orbits would never touch.

But here and now, on this warm bed, they are a T.

Around the Intarwebz

Two Malamutes savagely attack a 12-yr-old boy walking to bus stop. The dogs were in a fenced yard when they escaped and began circling the child. Their owners tried to call them back but to no avail.

A boy in Australia suffered 30 stitches to close a wound inflicted by a police dog during a search of the home. The boy didn't know what was going on and ran into the house looking for his mother. The dog latched onto his leg and wouldn't let go.

An Akita inflicted 100 stitches worth of damage to a girl's face as she played in her friend's yard. Pit Bulls are banned in England.

A large mixed breed dog bit a woman on the face, requiring a flight to the hospital. The woman lived in the same house as the dog.

In the UK, a Border Collie being pet by a child was bitten in the face by the dog, causing 25 stitches worth of damage to her face. (Why do people keep assuming only Pit Bulls bite the face/neck area?)

Two dogs originally identified as Pit Bulls, but were actually a Boxer and American Bulldog, attacked a man. The man suffered lacerations and no significant injuries.

A Labrador Retriever attacked two Beagles, going for their throats. The dog knocked over the Beagles' owner, causing head wounds.

A small brown dog in the UK bit a child on the legs, causing enough injuries for a trip to the hospital.

A mixed breed dog dug under a fence and attacked a young girl, leaving her with several bite wounds. She was able to run to a neighbor's for help.

A man was fined in Australia for a savage dog attack that occurred last year in which his Greyhound mix escaped the yard and mauled a woman, leaving her hospitalized for several days.

Two New Zealand boys were attacked by French Mastiffs after one of the boys slipped on mud and fell into the dogs' backyard. He suffered severe wounds during the attack.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Whitley County Dog Killer Is Told Bad Officer, Bad!

Whitley County is showing the entire universe how serious they take shooting healthy dogs multiple times by issuing a written reprimand to the officer who killed a dog.

As a reminder, the dog in question was a stray dog who had a woman willing to take the dog home with her in lieu of shooting and killing the non-aggressive dog.

Now I don't want to seem like I'm questioning authority here, but hey, someone probably should. If you want to reprimand someone who has done wrong in a manner that is construed as taking the matter seriously, a written reprimand is probably not the way to go.

The officer should be fired. Yeah, that's my opinion. It's how I feel about people in positions of authority who abuse and take advantage of their power. The woman who watched this dog die, who offered to pay fines and take the dog, could do nothing - short of accidentally being shot or arrested for assault - to stop this animal control officer from murdering a helpless dog. The dog certainly could do nothing, no one wants to consider him a legal and moral agent. The only person onsite who should have stopped him is the police officer called to the scene who, upon seeing the dog not eating anyone and ascertaining the dog had placement, should have told the animal control officer to cease and desist.

No one did those things, though. A dog suffered pain before his death needlessly.

Again, here is the only contact information I could find for persons of supposed leadership in Whitley County:
County Clerk's often report information to the board of commissioners: - Kay Schwartz
Lawrence Hodge (county sheriff): 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Fighting Dogs to Bust Dog Fighters

In 2009, the largest dogfighting raid netted more than 500 Pit Bulls, of whom about 250 were saved from death. The raid occurred after the Missouri State Highway Patrol began an undercover investigation in 2008, with the assistance of the Humane Society of Missouri.

The undercover agents did the following:
* Purchased dogs from a renowned Pit Bull breeder and dog fighter
* Purchased acreage to house 40 dogs and puppies the same way dog fighters do
* Took their dogs to fights and fought them
* Were involved in at least one prolonged fight that resulted in the death of their dog

That is to say, the state of Missouri and the US federal government sanctioned the creation of a dog fighting operation in order to stop a dog fighting operation. That would be like me trying stop child prostitution by selling the body of my neighbor's 7-yr-old daughter. Doesn't sound so nice when you put a human face on the victim instead of a dog's, does it? It's awful and, unless I'm missing something, pretty wretched, no matter the victim's species.

Reading this article is difficult. I think of those 40 dogs and puppies, of how they were bought like commodities, treated like commodities, trained like commodities, fought and died like commodities on our dime.

Is fighting a dog, allowing him to inflict pain on another dog, to have pain inflicted on him permissible, circumstance depending? Is watching two dogs tear each other apart, watching people electrocute and murder their failed fighters okay, circumstance depending?

That's the message here, at least what I'm getting. That it is okay to fight dogs if your trying to "save" dogs. It's okay to watch people kill dogs, so long as the ends justify the means.

To me and those dogs, the ends don't justify the means. Find another way, folks. Don't be a dogfighter to stop dog fighting. Just don't. The dogs don't deserve that.

We are better than that. If we're not, how sad and tragic is that? What does that say about us as a society and species? Nothing nice, that's for sure.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Polk County Animal Control - New Policy Says We'll Kill Surrendered Animals Quickly

Polk County Animal Control is changing their policy about immediately killing animals.

No, they aren't going to STOP immediately killing some animals. Instead, they'll just let you know it might happen.

The "honest killing" policy change occurred after a woman dropped off 6-week-old healthy kittens at the overcrowded shelter. She was told the kittens would have 7 days before being put up for adoption. The woman told them she would take the kittens back if, after 7 days, no one claimed them or they were going to be killed.

Instead, the shelter killed them immediately, because taking 7 days to care for a few healthy kittens was a monumental task for the shelter.

This isn't a novel policy. Every shelter in California, for example, is legally permitted to kill healthy puppies and kittens who are without a mother and under the age of 8-weeks. I'm sure there are situations in which incoming puppies and kittens are egregiously unhealthy and euthanasia is what the name implies, a good death.

But this wasn't one of them, and I find it implausible that there wasn't a foster home available, adopters ready to take in cute kittens after the hold period, or a radio or television personality ready to publicize the plight of the kittens or other animals at the shelter.

Honesty can be a great thing. Still, it boggles my mind that instead of changing to a policy that doesn't needlessly kill healthy animals, no matter their age, Polk County Animal Control instead chooses to just tell people they might kill animals the moment they step paw through the door.

I get they may be under-funded and under-staffed. I appreciate this greatly. Still, I have faith people can do better than this, that we can create a kinder, more compassionate world with just a smidgen of effort. That is all I ask of places like Polk County - put in a tiny bit of effort, go that extra foot, and feel good knowing you saved lives, gave opportunities for permanent placement, rather than cut short the lives of healthy kittens.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Around the Interwebz

Pit Bull News
A Pit Bull who was involved in a biting incident involving three arguing family members has been spared death in Calgary.

Denver may change it's Pit Bull ban to accommodate the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. First hearing is in September.

Animal activists' start-ups help pets, inspire people.

For the love of pit, former fighting dogs now live as family pets.

Dog Attacks
A child recently mauled by a Husky is recovering. He suffered collapsed lungs, 45 puncture wounds and severe internal injuries. Other dogs can inflict severe damage on humans.

An English Bulldog (that a 911 caller identified as a "Pit Bull") attacked and killed a neighbor's Maltese in an apartment complex.

Two dogs thought to be Scottish Terriers were allowed off leash. They ran up to a baby in a stroller and immediately began to attack him, leaving him with puncture wounds. The owner of the dogs leashed them up and strolled away. Class act.

Sarge, the German Shepherd shot six times by his "owner", who bit two people at the Toledo Humane Society, has bitten another person and must wait another 10 days before heading off to Best Friends.

Three Boxers attacked a man who was out jogging. The dogs were running loose. He needed more than 30 stitches to close the wounds.

People Being Nice
Cheerleaders raising funds and donations for their local humane society (not to be confused with the Humane Society of the United States).

Since 2004, 500 dogs who would have been killed have gone onto new homes through Green River Correctional Complex in Central City's Death Row Dog's program.

A 12-yr-old girl started her own group and is donating proceeds from fundraising events to the local humane society, she's raised more than $250 so far.

While trying to get recognition by the Guinness Book of World Records for most haircuts in 72-hours, the hair stylist offered free trims and donated all tips and donations to the Kansas Humane Society, raising $1600.