Monday, February 28, 2011

New South Wales Dog Attacks

In 2008, New South Wales required all councils to report dog bites within 72 hours. Every three months, a dog attack report is published. Four breeds of dogs are "banned" in New South Wales, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, Fila, Tosa, and Dogo.

New South Wales puts out quarterly bite reports here.

I've included the 2009 statistics as well. The reason for the significant disparity is that 2009 is the first year in which reports were issued and up to 40% of councils were not reporting their data. 2010 is probably a slightly better reflection of reported dog bites. As the years go by, the pattern and numbers will be even more statistically significant, although still based on eye witness reports and not on pedigree information as it pertains to the dogs themselves.

The data below represents dog-human bites. Data is available for dog-animal attacks, but I have chosen not to include that. You can find that information at the link, along with breed (based on eye witness reports) information as well.

The ultimate take home point, if you don't want to bother with percentages is this: Most dogs in New South Wales do not bite. When they do, they will more often than not cause you no harm. 

Cookies 'n Cream Cupcakes

feb 27 2011 cupcake sma
Vegan and tasty.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chickens, Chickens and More Chickens

The sanctuary has a neat program that works directly with egg farmers to take "spent" hens slated for slaughter and place them into new homes. Yesterday, we pulled 357 hens from a small egg farm. They will be adopted out into companion homes. Egg - laying hens are slaughtered at the young age of 2, even though they can live another 6-10 years, dependent on breed. Mass producing eggs causes enormous health problems for the birds, including osteoporosis from over-laying, ovarian cancer from over-laying, and if they are from caged operations, muscle atrophy, difficulties preening/eating from beak trimming/de-beaking, and behavioral problems from forced confinement.

These hens are called red stars. They are a sex-linked breed. Female chicks are one color, male chicks a different color (they are then killed). They are two and looking for some new digs to enjoy.

Hens from egg farm

We transport them via traditional poultry crates. They are stackable and end up being safer than dog crates.
Hens getting out of crates

Hen at Rescue Ranch

These hens,although from a very small farm, have been beak trimmed. It was done with a laser and only the very, very tips of the beaks have been cut off. It can still cause pain to the birds, but less likely to do so than traditional cauterizing blades.

It was a long day - 14 hours in total - but so worth it to save these hens from slaughter. They will get to enjoy the life I hope for any dog or cat: safe, comfortable, as free from suffering as possible (including unnecessary death), and loved. We've heard back from previous adopters and they just adore the hens adopted, naming them, bonding with them, and learning chickens can be as engaging as dogs and cats.

If you live in California and are interested in backyard chickens as companions, you can fill out an adoption form here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Luke Swanhart Changes Entire Article

On February 15, 2011, Luke Swanhart wrote (and I use that term loosely) an article about "rehabilitating fighting dogs" and how foolish it was. He did this on Sadly, I did not take screen caps, because he  promptly changed and edited large portions of the article, including some of the quotes I commented on here. The breedist bigots make their debut, cheering Swanhart for his super brave stance. Which is fine, if any of his information was based on actual facts.

I wonder if you can do that with the New York Times - post an inflammatory, inaccurate, irrational article, then change it the second it's questioned? And I am not talking minor edits to improve the grammar and syntax of the piece. That would have been appropriate (and much needed). I'm talking major edits.

Luke Swanhart's new article with the same link and title starts off with "What is wrong with mandatory spay/neutering of pit bulls and required registration." That's a question, not a declarative statement. His first article started out more along the lines of "PEOPLE NOW WORSHIP PIT BULLS OMG MICHAEL VICK."

Then he brings up cocaine. "The substance cocaine is illegal for a reason - it helps control the people who deal with it." Cocaine became illegal in the United States in 1970. And yet, as of 2008, in a survey of 17 countries, the United States was the leader in cocaine use with 16% of people surveyed stating they had used cocaine. No other surveyed country comes close (New Zealand was second with 4.3%). And guess which drug in 2001 was the number one reason for drug-related trips to the hospital? Cocaine. The percentage of inmates using drugs increased in the late 1990s. And the second most common drug, after marijuana, inmates used? Cocaine. Even after cocaine was criminalized, the percentage of users increased and has maintained a steady pattern in the past decade or so. And as of 2008, cocaine remained the second most common drug found in the system of inmates...those same people Swanhart claims should be controlled by its ban.

While I'm not arguing the decriminalization of cocaine would improve these statistics, Swanhart cannot claim that the criminalization of cocaine has "helped control the people who deal with it" while it remains the second most common drug sold and used in the United States.

I'm not touching the whole "animal activists = dog fighters" claim. That is so tired and worn and stupid, it doesn't deserve any more than that.

But I do want to touch on Swanhart's inaccurate use of the term "speciesism". " It has also created a nation of Speciesism - assigning more rights to one type of dog over another,"

Wrong. Speciesism. SPECIES. Assigning more right to one type of dog would be breedism. That is how BSL passes, because humans assign less value to a Pit Bull than to another dog. In some areas, BSL is classist and racist, because the humans implementing the law assign less value to poor people and people of color than to wealthier people and white people. That is the case, for example, in Lancaster's enactment of its mandatory castration Pit Bull/Rottweiler law. 

But BSL is always breedist. It is always discriminatory legislation. It is based on a popular belief that Pit Bulls are "more dangerous" and thus of less "value" than other dogs. There is NO reverse breedism in existence in this country. There are no groups championing the killing of Labrador or Golden Retrievers, even if they may be the top biters in some cities. To claim reverse breedism is as irrational and fallacious as it is to claim reverse racism or sexism is somehow a significant problem in this country.

Swanhart has eliminated his "bold-face makes it true" argument but re-worded it as such, "While millions of other dogs never involved with dog fighting-ever get any press--They get killed in pounds by the millions in the USA every year,  and nobody seems to care. They aren't pit bulls."

Which is ONCE again ALMOST too stupid to counter. The fact is they ARE Pit Bulls. I mean, who are the most killed dogs in shelters across the country? They're not Pointers, for cripes sake. There are so many needy Pit Bulls in shelters who have never been fought and who are not adopted, who are killed. If Swanhart is logical, he cares about those Pit Bulls too. But he is not, so my guess is he wants them dead too. Breedism for the fail.

Swanhart removed his telepathic ability to know what a dog thinks, but he might as well kept it in - it's still a bunch of illogical nonsense.

I've screencapped THIS article, just in case he decides to retrofit it once again!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Mirror Test

The mirror test is held up as the gold-standard for testing self-recognition in both humans and nonhumans. Infants do not react to a mirror until they are around 18-months-old, and so it is theorized that infants do not possess self-recognition until that age. Being able to comprehend "self" means being able to recognize others as unique individuals with different thoughts and ideas from our own. It means being able to separate "me" from "you".

Self-awareness was once touted as a uniquely human trait. If other species possessed it, scientists argued, it would be primates, specifically apes like chimpanzees.

So primates have been studied extensively. Chimpanzees and orangutans recognize themselves in mirrors. Three elephants presented with full-size mirrors appear to recognize their reflections and one of the three recognized a novel mark on their bodies. Previous studies with elephants used smaller mirrors and did not show self-recognition. Monkeys have also been heavily studied. For the most part, they ignore mirrors or react as if the reflection is another monkey. But one study, a result of an accident during another study, indicates rhesus monkeys may pass the mirror test. Who to believe? Decades worth of studies indicating rhesus monkeys fail or one study that indicates they pass?

The mirror test has been studied in non-mammals too. Results with European magpies indicate they have self-awareness. At least one pigeon has shown self-awareness as well.

Pigs were studied with a modified mirror test. Pigs, when presented with a mirror, are fascinated by it. They will spend a long period of time staring at themselves, turning their head side to side. The research pigs did not act as if the pig they saw was another pig. But they failed the mark test in which a novel marking is placed on the animal. An animal that passes the mark test will focus heavily on the mark and/or try to remove it. The researchers modified the test by hiding a bowl of food behind a wall. A fan dispersed the scent of the food. The only way the pigs could figure out where the food was located was by using the reflection of the mirror. Seven of the eight pigs did so.

Mirror tests are inherently flawed, though. They are based upon human awareness and understanding of mirrors and our highly attuned and advanced visual system. For example, people who have been blind all their life and regain sight, may not recognize mirrors or themselves initially. This is not because they lack self-awareness but lack the cultural and social experience of the mirror itself.

Which is why it's imperative researchers focus more on the sensory abilities of the animals they are studying (of course, not studying them at all would be fine by me, but that's a different topic). For example, dogs fail mirror tests. But dogs are not truly visual creatures. They have finely tuned motion-sensing abilities, but their visual acuity pales in comparison to other species, like humans and birds. What they lack in visual ability, they more than make up for in olfactory ability. Testing self-awareness in dogs should involve the sense of smell. I would argue that for pigs too - they rely heavily on their sense of smell, not sight, to survive.

Failing a mirror test does not mean an animal or species fails at self-awareness. Certainly not all species are self-aware, but I would wager more mammalian and avian species possess some measure of theory of mind and self-awareness than not.

What do you think about mirror tests and nonhuman self-awareness?

Breedists, Misdirection, Lancaster Revisited

Breedist and fear-mongering organizations hold up Lancaster, California as an example of BSL done right. The city requires the mandatory castration of Rottweilers and Pit Bulls. The law was implemented in January of 2009. Last year, the mayor of the city touted the law as the reason gang-related crime had been reduced. In a miraculous turn of events, gang members decided to take the straight and narrow path because Rottweilers and Pit Bulls in the city had their testicles and ovaries removed.

The Antelope Valley of southern California once had a record high crime rate of 395. That is, 395 crimes per 10,000 residents. The valley is primarily comprised of two demographically similar cities: Palmdale and Lancaster.

In 2007, the Sheriff announced his plans to set a goal of reducing that crime rate to 300 per 10,000 citizens within five years. They called the effort the Antelope Valley Crime Fighting Initiative and it was started in March of 2007.

A lieutenant was appointed for the job and the two cities' stations were enhanced by several teams, including those related to gang violence. Four deputy positions were added. The community was involved and by 2009, neighborhood watch teams expanded from 75 to more than 500.

For problems associated with gun violence, authorities noticed that most gun related assaults occurred at large parties. So they created a weekend "Party Cars" program with faster cars and a better partnership with CHP to better respond to problems.

And both Lancaster and Palmdale implemented a Ceasefire Operation program that works directly with gang members to reduce gang-related homicides. Gang related homicides started to decrease, prior to the castration law, from 21 in 2007 to 15 in 2008. In 2009, that number went down to 7. Now according to the Sheriff's Department, that is because of this coordinated, focused effort. According to the mayor, it's because of a Rottweiler's testicles.The power of the testicle extends even into Palmdale, which has not implemented a mandatory castration law. Does one make more sense than the other?

The Sheriff achieved his victory by the end of 2009, three years ahead of schedule. The crime rate in the entire Antelope Valley dipped below 300 by the end of 2009. The valley saw their biggest reduction in crime rate in 2008, prior to Lancaster's implementation of its sterilization law. But if the mayor of Lancaster is right, the Sheriff was wasting taxpayers money and time with all of his fancy-schmancy programs; he should have just offered free spay/neuter days to all Rottweiler and Pit Bull owners in Palmdale and Lancaster and BAM! gang-related crimes would all be solved. Oh, if only.

It is absolutely impossible, by the rules of statistics and physics, for a January 2009 general mandatory castration law in Lancaster, California to cause a specific drop in gang-related crime in the ENTIRE Antelope Valley. It is not possible.

So breedists, please stop using Lancaster as an example of effective discriminatory legislation. It is not. Crime rate has been reduced across the Antelope Valley, not just Lancaster. Lancaster has NOT seen a significant reduction in crime since January 2009 that is statistically different than Palmdale or other smaller cities in the Antelope Valley. Both Lancaster and Palmdale have, in the past five years, seen about a 40% reduction in their crime rates. That has happened ACROSS five years, including three years prior to Lancaster's 2009 castration law. And it happened in both cities.

In Summary: Removing testicles does not reduce gang-related crimes.

Last year's post on this issue: Correlation Does Not Equal Causation

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Paint Me Some Snow

I live at 2400 feet. I work at 1400 feet elevation. Snow generally does not hit below 2500 feet and even rarely below 1400, at least not where I live. But last night was an exception. This is the sanctuary festooned with a powdering of icy goodness.

Up the road

An ancient, decrepit chicken coop.
Lonely coop

This was outside my door at home:
Snowy branches

The perfect holiday tree
Snowy Tree

And one of the sanctuary denizens, Lenny, being tough and playing it cool:
Lenny in the snow

I was told by wise people that my sun-loving self would adjust to an environment that is, on average, 10-15 degrees cooler than where I used to live. And I have. It was 32 for most of the day and never got past 36. If this had been the temperature in my previous location, I would have cried and froze to death.

Not that I can say I like the cold. I'm just glad my body has adjusted, because otherwise I'd be even more miserable than I am (and I'm not really, miserable that is).

My preference still is 80 F all day, every day.

Why I Stand With Planned Parenthood

If that title offends you, stop reading. Just wait for dog posts and ignore this sadly politicized issue.

Your Opinion On Service Dogs Does Not Matter

A man in Grand Junction was denied entry into an IRS office because of his service dog. The video is located here.

Comments indicate the man is a "scam artist" and "crazy" as if those terms alone mean he can be denied access to a federal building with his service dog.

Here are things people should know about the federal Americans with Disabilities Act as it applies to service dogs.

Your Opinion On Service Dogs Does Not Matter

Bold-faced for the sake of Truth.

Service Dogs Don't Need Vests. Per the ADA, the only two questions a business or federal agency may ask about a service dog are the following: "Is the dog required because of a disability?" and "What tasks does the animal perform?" That's it. If person says yes and "alerts epileptic seizures"- done and done. A service dog does not need a vest, does not need to be walked with a flat-buckle collar. My opinion, your opinion, on whether a service dog should wear a vest is moot - it is not required by federal law. The second that man produced a doctor's note about his requirement for a service dog is the moment the IRS office should have sucked it up and let the dude in, no questions asked.

Service Dogs Don't Need to be a Specific Breed: Per the ADA, prohibiting certain types of dogs from being labeled as a service dog violates the rights of disabled persons. End of story.

Service Dog Guardians Can Be Asked to Leave if Their Dog Is: uncontrolled by the guardian or not housetrained.

You do not need to like how a small percentage of dogs are illegally labeled service dogs. It sucks.

But it has not nor will it make it any more difficult for persons reliant on service dogs to get by in the world. Trust me, the ADA is not going to become any more restrictive than it already is. That would defeat the purpose of ensuring equal access to all persons. There are always bad apples. Contrary to popular opinion, they do not ruin a bunch - bad applehood isn't contagious. Otherwise, we'd never eat apples. EVER.

It is so important to remember that the ADA levels the playing field a smidgen. It is the most basic of protections - offering equal access to all persons, regardless of physical or "mental" abilities. It ensures that a person in a wheelchair can shop alongside a person not in a wheelchair. It means a person with epilepsy can walk on a cement floor. It means a person with severe, "medical" anxiety can actually go outside in public. These are things I take for granted, that perhaps many of you take for granted. It is why no one's opinion on what constitutes a "service dog" matters. If a person answers yes to that one question and can quickly describe the "work" their dog does - end of story, no more questions allowed. And as long as the dog is not running rampant or peeing everywhere, end of story, no more questions allowed.

I feel this strongly about service dogs, not because I have any immediate personal connection to a service dog and their guardian. I feel this way because we live in an ableist society that values normalcy and encourages those who are "not normal" to just, I don't know, stay inside. That is wrong. And the ADA agrees.

The only real thing I'd love to see changed about service animals has to do with where the dogs come from - more shelter dogs, please!

Friday, February 18, 2011

California Animal Related Legislation

Today is the last day for California legislators to introduce bills. This is a general overview of the California legislative process and this is the 2011 legislative calendar.

As of 2/18/2011, these are the bills I plan on tracking for both personal and professional reasons. Some of them might interest my California readers. This post will be updated when it is time for bills to be heard in committee and the house/senate or when substantive changes are made to the language. I will include contact information for legislators when the time is appropriate. It's easy to be part of the legislative process. Remember, legislators understand that one letter from a constituent is not just one letter but represents thousands of other constituents who feel the same way. Your voice counts. Be involved.

Assembly Bills

AB 258 - Rabies Exemption
Introduced By: Assembly Member Hagman
What it Would Do: Would amend the Health and Safety Code to permit exemptions to the current rabies license law. It would allow an annual exemption of the rabies vaccine to dogs whose lives might be endangered by the vaccine, as determined by a veterinarian. It would require that any dog who is deemed exempt from a rabies vaccine be leashed at all times when off the home property and not have contact with any other unvaccinated dog or cat. Dogs exempted would be legally considered unvaccinated. The law would prohibit the license exemption from extending beyond a year, and an annual renewal would be required.
Status: Assembly Committee on Agriculture
What I Like: Provides options to guardians concerned about the negative health consequences of over-vaccination. Allows diseased or immunocompromised dogs the chance to live a longer life without aggravating their disease with a vaccine.
What I Don't Like: Criminalizes dog owners by forcing them to confine their dogs on leashes off their home property and essentially prohibits contact with other dogs and cats. Defines an exempted dog as "unvaccinated" - this is not necessarily a medical reality as far as antibodies are concerned. The language for the issuance of an exemption states that the local health officer may issue an exemption. That means they may not.
What I would Like to See Change: Change of the word "may" to "shall" or some other less vague legalese word. Elimination of the leashed requirements off home property. Elimination of language that claims an exempted dog is unvaccinated. Perhaps replace with language that requires titering and antibody levels BEFORE labeling the dog unvaccinated.
Position: Tentative Support

AB 376 - Prohibition of Shark Fin Sales/Possession
Introduced by Assembly Members Fong and Huffman
What It Would Do: Would add a section to the Fish and Game Code that would make it unlawful for anyone to possess, sell or offer for sale shark fins, as specified.
Status: Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife
What I Like: Sharks.
What I don't Like: Shark Finning
What I would Like to See Change: Nothing
Position: Support

AB 564 - Spay-Neuter Fund
Introduced by Assemblymember Cameron Smyth
What it Would Do: Requires tax preparers to notify taxpayers of volunteer contribution funds. Would add, if another fund option is removed, the Municipal Shelter SPay-Neuter Fund check-off.
What I Like: Shelter animals getting spayed and neutered.
Status: Assembly Revenue and Taxation, hearing 4/4/11
Position: Support

AB 606 - Use of Conservation Easements for Hunting and Fishing
Introduced by Assemblymember Gatto
What it Would Do: Require state-owned conservation easements to be accessible to hunters and fisherpeople.
Status: Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife, 3/22/11
What I Like: Shooting animals - WITH MY CAMERA.
What I Don't Like: Shooting animals - WITH MY GUN.
Position: Oppose

AB 1117 - Penalties for Animal Cruelty
Introduced by Assemblymember Cameron Smyth
What It Would Do: Requires a mandatory ban on ownership of animals for those convicted of a misdemeanor or felony animal cruelty/neglect violation (5-yr ban for the former, 10-yrs for the latter). Requires those convicted of animal cruelty relinquish ownership of animals, if they have paid for their care in the shelter.
Status: None
What I Like: Mandatory ban on owning animals after being convicted of cruelty to animals.
What I Don't Like: The livestock exemption. Lack of wording to ensure relinquished animals are rehomed, not killed.
Position: Support

AB 1162 - Poaching Penalties
Introduced by Assemblymember Wes Chesbro
Status: None
What It Would Do: Increases the maximum civil penalty for poaching from $10,000 to $40,000.
Position: Support

Senate Bills

SB 425 - Animal Fighting
Introduced by Senator Calderon
What It Would Do: Would require minimum fines for the following: persons found guilty of dog fighting, being a spectator at a prize fight, using caged live animals to train dogs, possession of paraphernalia related to cockfighting.
What I Like: To understand this bill requires understanding how difficult it has been implementing any change in the current animal fighting laws, especially cockfighting (which remains a wobbler law - misdemeanor first, felony MAYBE afterwards). Our prison system is severely overcrowded and costly. The legislature has, for the past several years, fought tooth and nail against any introduced bill that would change misdemeanors to felonies or increase prison times for existing felonies. This is one way of increasing penalties for animal bloodsports without increasing prison times.
What I Don't Like: Cockfighting should be a felony, period.
Position: Support

SB 917 - Sale of Animals, Animal Abuse Penalties
Introduced by Senator Ted Lieu
Status: None
What It WOuld Do: Ban the sale of animals in parking lots, carnivals, boardwalks, public right of ways. Would allow jail time for those convicted of cruelly treating animals.
Position: Support

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mina Braves the Snow

Mina Braving the Snow

The Dogs' Opinion On Snow Powder

Yeah, it sucks.

Shelters Doing Good 6

Things shelters or rescues are doing that other animal agencies could replicate! Some may be obvious, others may not. There is no reason to kill medically healthy animals, and these are some ways to reduce kill rates.

Ask for volunteers: The HUmane Society of NW Montana wants help! And they're promoting it through the local media, asking folks to come out for an orientation. Volunteering improves the lives of shelter animals and helps reduce the stress and strain on shelter staff.

Take dogs on hikes:Stray Rescue has a neat program wherein they take dogs at the shelter on hikes IN THE WOODS. Sometimes water. Whatever the dog wants. This gives the dog a break from the shelter and gives volunteers more of an idea on the dog's personality and behavior. You can read their blog here.

Appeal to sports fans: How about them Packers? I'm a fan for one reason: Aaron Rodgers, who the 49ers should have kept but stupidly didn't. STUPID HEADS. The Wisconsin Humane Society is offering a great deal - wear your Packers gear and get $10 off a dog, cat or rabbit through February 6th. Then dress your dog, cat, or rabbit up as AARON RODGERS and host an awesome Super Bowl party in which the Steelers are trounced! This works for all sporting events, except golf. Because that is not a sport, folks.

Do a lot of crazy stuff: Sangamon County Animal Control has seen an 82% reduction in their kill rate in the past five years. That is not a miracle, people, that is simply the result of being creative and taking common sense approaches to stopping the unnecessary killing of healthy animals. In 2010, they killed 192 animals for space purposes, down from 1,077 in 2006. Sadly, most of the dogs killed were Pit Bulls - people adopt them, yo. The shelter has a great volunteer program, works with other rescues and off-site adoption sites, promoting a spay neuter clinic. You can adopt an animal from the shelter or at ACE or at Petsmart or some place called Gander Mountain which I hope doesn't have a lot of geese.

I would love to profile shelters YOU know that are doing good. Feel free to email me here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Why Didn't Amazon Call Mina?

For reals. If you ever meet Mina, and you should, you will be licked by her. She is the Queen of Tongue Action. She will find a way to french kiss you. Remember what I said about bold-facing. It's actually quite true in Mina's case.

Now, I don't know if the kindle-zest licker is a Pit bull (but I bet she is part Pit Bull, especially the nose part), but she has a pinkísh nose, so that makes her pretty awesome in my book. Not as awesome as Mina who would have been PERFECT for that licking scene. They would only have to do it in one take too. That's how good Mina is.

Amazon, in the future, when you're not selling cockfighting magazines, please remember to call up your friendly pink-nosed Pit Bull Mina for all your kindle licking and/or actor/actress licking needs.

Her head-shot for your approval:
Mina Pit Bull Smile

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs is Foolish and Dangerous to Children, here I come! Turns out, anyone can write an article and call it news. Anyone, in this specific instance, is Luke Swanhart who works in the health care field but also fancies himself an expert on pet issues. He's a member of PETA and obviously they are the bastion of sane and level-headed...oh wait, nevermind.

Luke Swanhart is concerned about our nation's children. They must be protected from fighting dogs who apparently get flashbacks that send them into a rage.

Other Things Swanhart is Concerned About:

Anti-Hero Worshipping
According to Swanhart in his opening, "Pit bulls. The nation, including Florida,  has gone to pit bull worship based on the glory and fame of the NFL and Michael Vick."

I am unclear where Swanhart gets his information for this statement, but I guess he just starts his article with a false premise and goes from there.

Telepathy With Animals
"keep in mind - dogs - which are animals - can't talk. You may be able to correct the behavior but flashbacks do occur"

Dogs cannot talk but Swanhart has a direct line to their inner monlogue and knows that "fighting dogs" get flashbacks. I do not believe there is any peer-reviewed behavioral journal article entitled "Fighting Dogs - Computerized Model Depicts Violent Flashbacks". But perhaps Swanhart will start his own study, "Fighting Dogs - I Know What They Think", it will be a big hit, I'm sure.

Bold-Face Makes Me Right
 "Meanwhile the other dogs are sadly ignored and killed by the millions in municipal pounds everywhere-but they don’t count-they aren’t pit bulls. So in people’s minds they don’t even exist."

Bold-face makes it true. Bold-face makes it true. Just in case you didn't believe me the first time.

Racism, Classism Are My Friends
Lancaster, California is brought up. I fail anyone's breed-ban-support argument if they bring up Lancaster. It's like Godwin's law of BSL-discussion. The mayor of Lancaster believes "gang-bangers" (read: poor, not white people) are the only ones who own Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. Requiring the mandatory castration of Pit Bulls and Rottweilers will, in the mayor's mind, reduce gang-related crimes and keep those poor, non-white people in line, yo. On what planet is the removal of a dog's uterus going to reduce human crime? No offense to anyone who believes that crap (Swanhart!), but that is the stupidest attempt at causation I've ever seen made. Point of fact - gang related crime was declining two years prior to the mandatory castration, it was declining ACROSS the entire Antelope Valley, and it was declining in nearby Palmdale w/ no breed-specific castration and with similar demographics. You can read the details here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Arrogance of Colorado Aurora and Denver

I get protesting and making your voice heard for perceived injustice. That is something I wholeheartedly embrace, like watching Egyptians take back their country. Fighting oppression is awesome and amazing, I give accolades to anyone brave enough to do it (and it's easy to do, so kudos to anyone who's written a letter or protested or spoken up.)

But what I don't get is even considering fighting a federal anti-discriminatory law because your city is a whiny toddler who apparently thinks they are above federal mandate because, well, because waah, waah, the end of the world will happen!

 The Americans with Disabilities Act offers a modicum of protection to "disabled" people who want the same basic opportunities as anyone else. You know, the ability to live in the same housing and shop at the same stores. For people who rely on service dogs to maneuver this ableist world, it's imperative that accommodations and modifications are made so that they can engage their world in as "normal"a fashion as possible.

Is This A Chesapeake Bay Retriever?

On February 9, a 10-yr-old girl was severely injured by a dog described as a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Another girl suffered a minor bite wound.

Not much is known about the attack. The dog was let out of his kennel and apparently began attacking the 10-yr-old girl, whom he did not know.

The dog is 2-yrs-old and male.

This news story posts a video which includes Charlie, the Chessie. You can view it here.

So far as I know Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are not that common. I have met five Chessies. Three belonged to an animal control officer who loved the more reserved, more protective Chessies and rescued them anytime they ended up at the shelter. Two belonged to a duck hunter who used them for retrieving downed waterfowl. They were all affable dogs, and I liked them. But they were not quite so galumphy as other Retriever-type dogs I've met. Five dogs is not a statistically significant sample size, so just take those observations at face value.

Perhaps some Chessie or Retriever experts can offer their input - is this dog a Chesapeake Bay Retriever? The quality of the video isn't great, but I can't help but think this is either a REALLY poorly bred Chessie or not a Chessie at all.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Around the Intarwebz

Another rooster has decided to take on the human scum forcing him to fight. In California, a rooster stabbed a man in the thigh with one of the knives attached to his legs. The guy bled to death.

A woman is a little peeved after her 20-lb dog was tased by police. The dog, an overweight Chihuahua apparently chased down officers and was at risk of, I don't know, taking them out. So she was tased for five seconds, including a prong to the eyeball. The dog is now seizuring frequently and may have suffered permanent brain damage.

This story is so sad on so many levels. A 20-yr-old marine in Afghanistan needlessly lost his life from sniper fire. His bomb-sniffing dog, Eli, then crawled on top of his dying friend to try and protect him from further harm. It was too late. But now Eli has a new home with the marine's family. The kid (b/c at 20, you're still a kid and shouldn't be shot at, dammit, here or in Afghanistan) loved Eli so much and would even include "Eli kisses" on his correspondence to family. Be prepared to cry, if you have a heart that is.

A Labrador Retriever helps a little girl with diabetes avoid slipping into a coma. Dogs can be neat like that.

A Pit Bull in has been granted a reprieve from a death sentence over a 2008 incident involving a cat, in which the animal was killed. The dog has been on "death row" for the past two years. The dog finally gets to go home.

A nice opinion piece in the entitled "Pit Bull Ban: Hard Cases Make Bad Law".

A German Shorthaired Pointer saved the day by yelling DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER! or barking incessantly enough for her family to realize the house was on fire.

Springfield, Manitoba RM decides against banning Pit Bulls.

Haha, just kidding German Shepherd owner who let his dog loose outside a store to attack people, you thought you could get off without charges. Wrong. Sadly, the dog was killed, but at least the owner is going to be charged (previous reports stated he wasn't). Ontario, u r doin it so wrong!

The UK may not take dog bites seriously, but they do take abuse against dogs serious. A man who punched, kicked, and beat his Staffordshire Bull Terrier (WHO DID NOT EAT HIM BACK!) has been banned from owning dogs for life (with a five year appeal), has a curfew for 20 weeks (be home by 7 pm, yo), among other things. Tyson, the dog he abused, is chilling in a new home with people who pet him instead of hit him.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Why Is The ASPCA Partnering With Breedist Miami-Dade Animal Control

Miami-Dade, Florida banned Pit Bulls in 1989 after one attack.

Supporters of Pit Bull bans generally believe implementing such laws will reduce dog bites. For some, banning certain breeds will simply eliminate bites from those breeds and, in their view, reduce significant dog bites.

The decade prior to Miami-Dade's Pit Bull ban, the region saw a significant decrease in dog bites from 6,000 to 2,600. A normal person would view this as positive, as the population of humans AND dogs increased. From 1989 to 2007, dog bites continued to decline from 2,600 to 992. These are the years of the Pit Bull ban, and they saw the slowest decline in dog bites.

The ban has not reduced significant dog bites, either. Miami-Dade citizens are more likely to end up in the hospital from a dog bite than many other cities in Florida. It has reduced Pit Bull bites, but they still happen. One would imagine in a county with a 20+ ban on Pit Bulls, there wouldn't be any Pit Bull bites or any Pit bull confiscations. Breed bans, though, are not rational and do not follow a logical path of ban and subsequent elimination of banned dogs.

A hearing officer in 2009 deemed the identification portion of the law unenforceable, which has not stopped animal control from enforcing the law. If you are caught or snitched on for having a dog who resembles a Pit Bull, you face a $500 fine with a 20 day appeal. Your dog must be removed from the county or face execution. Your dog need only have 3 of 15 "characteristics" to be deemed a Pit Bull.

In 2008, the county confiscated 802 Pit Bulls and executed 650 of them. In 2009, the county confiscated 700 and executed more than 550. With a canine kill rate of 60% Pit Bulls have a 78-81% chance of being killed.

So while Miami-Dade continues to enforce an unenforceable and arguably cruel law, while they continue to kill 80% of the Pit Bulls they take in, they were granted another $139,000 by the ASPCA since becoming Partners with the ASPCA in October of 2010.

The ASPCA's vision: "The vision of the ASPCA is that the United States is a humane community in which all some animals are treated with respect and kindness."

Maybe animal control does not like the law. Maybe they have publicly condemned the law and tried their best to legally refuse to enforce it. Anyone? *crickets*

Animal control officials have largely been silent on the ethics of enforcing a law that criminalizes otherwise law-abiding citizens and unnecessarily kills healthy, family companion dogs. While I appreciate the tough position animal control officers are in having to fulfill the requirements set forth by the legislature or commission, even if they disagree with it, I am left unimpressed when no one at animal control speaks up on behalf of the dogs or their guardians.

The ASPCA made a conscious decision to work with Miami-Dade animal control, even though they are opponents of breed specific legislation. Yes, only a small percentage of the dogs killed are Pit Bulls. Yes, any shelter with a 66% kill rate and an interest in changing should be encouraged to do so. But I am not certain that the ASPCA is doing the right thing by endorsing a shelter with an archaic policy that is discriminatory and that results in the needless death of thousands of dogs.


Things You Should Know About Sherman

Sherman wills mina to play

He has left the house, headed off to his brand-spanking new home!

Things You Should Know About Fostering
  • It's hard work! This may seem obvious but it's still hard in reality.
  • Even after only 20 days of fostering a dog, you can in fact fall in love with them.
  • Managing a multi-dog household in which one resident dog hates all other dogs but her sister can be and is stressful. Adorbs puppies make this okay. So do dog-tolerant Mina-dogs.
  • It's fun showing off your foster dog and having everyone love him or her.
  • It's a selfishly selfless act that makes you feel good and helps save a life.
Things You Should Know About AFTER Fostering
  • You can sleep an entire night without letting the dog out, if he is a puppy.
  • You don't have to crate and rotate if you had to before.
  • You can go back to devoting all your time and energy to the resident dogs.
  • You feel happy and sad and then happy again, because really, it's a freaking win-win.
  • You will need a break before the next foster dog, because there WILL be a next foster dog.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's Super Funny When the Dog's a Beagle!!

Har-har, let's take this one to the bank, folks - a Beagle has attacked!!!

This news is so outlandish, so belly-chuckle funny that local news media consider the description of the attack as the best sentence they've seen, like ever. They don't tell us which sentence is the best, but I assume it is this one:

"As police arrested Dinah, Ronnie let go of a beagle he was holding on a leash and shouted, "Sic 'em, Ginger!"

Oh man, LOL. L.O.L. I'm laughing so hysterically right now, I'm relying on my mad typing skills to not screw up some words here. Tears are streaming down my face, I can barely see through the water works.

Nothing's funnier than a suspect releasing his dog to bite police officers. I mean, nothing's funnier than a suspect releasing Ginger the Beagle to bite police officers.

Like the Scene says, "they (suspects) could have vicious dogs like pit bulls ready to attack and defend". Yeah, PIT BULLS! Man, I would have been laughing even harder if it was a Pit Bull. It's so cliche too!

Anyways, back in the day, the Sac County shelter kept adopting out an ancient, ornery Beagle. And she kept being returned because she kept biting people. BUT SHE WAS A BEAGLE, YO! So they adopted her again, of course, and she ate the eye of a 3-yr-old girl. HA THAT WAS TOO FUNNY!! Good times, people, good times.

Nothing funnier than a dog biting someone. I mean, sometimes there IS nothing funnier, like when Sherman thought my shoelaces were edible and I practically had to perform the Heimlich to get them out of his throat. He could have engulfed my entire foot and THAT, dear readers, would have been hilarious.

On a serious note, dog bites are uncool, no matter who is doing the biting. Don't sic your dogs on anyone, even if your dog's name is Ginger. Or is a Beagle.

Casa Grande Animal Control You Have a Problem

In late January, 10-yr-old Jason Hamilton was walking home from the school bus stop when he was attacked by three dogs (erroneously reported as two Pit Bulls and one Rottweiler in this article). The dogs, one Pit Bull mix and two Rottweiler (mixes) severely mauled the child, leaving him with extensive facial, torso and leg damage. It took baseball bats to get all three dogs off the child.

The child is recovering but still suffers emotional trauma from the horrifying attack.

All three dogs have been killed, relinquished by their owner even though several community members offered to take on one or more of the dogs. The owner claims the dogs have never been vicious.

But how would she know?

The owner, and I use the term appropriately as this woman was no true guardian to these dogs, apparently rarely interacted with the dogs, except perhaps to breed them.

You can see that this Rottweiler bitch has had puppies before. Her wounds, which appear to include head injuries, are untreated as of the taking of this photo.
 This dog is underweight, although not egregiously malnourished. His/her wounds have apparently been left untreated as of the taking of this photo.
 This is the third dog, also underweight and clearly frightened, possibly wounded.
So who is this dog owner gladly relinquishing all three dogs for lethal injection?

Casa Grande's own animal control employee Leticia Flores. While sure, I don't expect all employees of animal shelters to be star citizens, I do expect them to provide legally appropriate levels of care.

She faces 12 charges. The dogs lived outside. They were not licensed (like, really? How hard is that, just go to work and get the license). Their entire yard was filled with fecal matter (remember, this woman has kids too). The dogs had no shelter. They had no water. And they had not been fed properly in awhile.

I don't know if Flores is still employed with Casa Grande - my call to them went unanswered, but if you have any better luck contacting them, let me know: (520)426-9300 is their number.

I think the step-father of the victim is being generous when he says that if only Flores had fed her dogs, this wouldn't have happened.

If only.

Really, if only Flores did not have dogs to begin with. Or, if only Flores socialized her dogs. Or, if only Flores fed, watered and provided shelter. Or if only Flores treated these dogs like family companions and not resident dogs. From day one, these dogs were set up to fail. Flores' failure cost these dogs their lives. It cost Hamilton a lot of unnecessary pain and trauma and suffering.

If only.

Mina is Bad-Ass

Mina is awesome

There are few dogs as bad-ass as Mina. Even when she isn't trying, she is too awesome for words.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why Do People Walk Away After Their Dog Attacks?

Many years ago, a Basenji punctured the throat of my much beloved Spaniel/Eskie mix named Juju. I approached the guardian of the Basenji and explained the situation. Not only did she not believe me ("my dog would NEVER do that" were her words), she up and left the dog park. I was left with a dog bleeding from several puncture wounds in her neck and the utter disbelief someone would just leave after their dog bit another.

At another dog park, I and other visitors watched in horror as a Labrador Retriever killed a Yorkshire Terrier. The small dog did not stand a chance against the 80lb dog - his neck was broken almost instantly. The guardian of the Lab gave false information and left the scene immediately, even though no one was attempting to harm either the Retriever or his owner.

Mina was once attacked by a Great Dane mix. The dog tore a quarter-sized chunk out of her head - you can still feel the scar and the hair never grew back properly, it has always been tinted a cream, sometimes pale yellow color. With adrenaline pumping, I managed to drag the dog off of a screaming Mina (it's one of two times I've ever heard Mina scream), even though she weighed more than me. The owners offered their apologies and then walked off. I was stupefied, standing there with a bleeding, trembling dog cradled in my arms...and later, a $500+ vet bill.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Around the Intarwebz

Colonoscopies, a thing of the past? I'm hoping by the time I need one, they will be! A recent study shows one dog trained to sniff out colon cancer had a 95% accuracy rating, just as good as a colonoscopy.

How a pair of dedicated dog guardians helped Lucky, the Chihuahua, get the life-saving surgery he needed.

When Mondo, an explosives detection dog used in Iraq, suffered a back injury, his fate was unknown. The 7 year old dog had bonded strongly with his human partner who wanted to make sure the dog was safe. If the dog wasn't adopted, he would be killed. The soldier's mother went the extra mile to help bring Mondo to his new home - with his human partner, of course.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Epic Media and Legal Bias

In Miami-Dade, if you have a dog resembling a Pit Bull, you may be charged $500 among other court fines. Your neighbors are encouraged to snitch on you. Your dog can be forcibly removed and either relocated out of county or killed. It does not matter the temperament of the dog or whether the dog IS a Pit Bull - you are a criminal for daring to welcome a domestic dog into your home who has certain physical characteristics the county has apparently deemed indicative of aggression, one of the silliest notions on the books.

But in Miami-Dade, if you have a Labrador Retriever mix and Golden Retriever mix who habitually get loose, despite your $6,000 in "kennel improvement" and purchase of random shock collars, you are gold. And if your dogs, illegally running loose, kill at least 11 legally loose cats, you are gold. Mind you, many of these cats were killed in their yards requiring the dogs to jump or dig under fences to access the animals. (Generally, I don't think any domestic animal should be running loose.)

In Miami-Dade County, you see, in order for a dog attack on a human or animal to be investigated, there must be a sworn affidavit presented. Unless you are just reporting a Pit Bull, then who cares, no affidavit needed!

The dogs - breeds mentioned once and on the second page - won't face an automatic death sentence, either, for killing 11 cats. If the dogs resembled Pit Bulls, that would be different. They would not even need to have bitten a cat in order to face death. Inconsistent, much?

The owner won't face any charges, either, except perhaps have two legally labeled dangerous dogs and all the court requirements that accompany that.

So while there are nonviolent dogs who look a certain way being killed and their guardians criminalized, these two dogs who have killed other animals and who may become involved in a human attack* and their owner is essentially getting a "pass go" card.

I'm sorry, are there still people who honestly believe there isn't a bias (breeds mentioned once on second page, nonviolent dogs killed versus violent ones)? Like, really? Planet earth, it is calling you back.

*Specifically, a redirected bite onto a cat or small dog owner who interferes.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Yesterday I saw a Labrador Retriever with a nylon muzzle secured over his face. Before I got a chance to advise the guardian that those muzzles can be deadly to dogs, prohibiting them from even panting properly, he had driven off.

But it struck me, this muzzled dog. Not literally.

The dog was in a car on a day that was comfortable for a dog to be in a car. Yet instead of making sure the windows were rolled up such the dog could not access anyone or thing, he was wearing a muzzle. Perhaps he was a legally labeled dangerous dog and supposed to be wearing a muzzle in which case, good on the guardian for following the law (which folks so rarely do in the case of dogs). I prefer this thought.

I have nothing against basket muzzles used on human aggressive or severely dog aggressive dogs with a history of teeth on skin. A muzzle can save a lives, human and canine.

But they still strike me as sad, as a prohibition against being. They stop a dog from using a most useful part of his body. While his nose gets to continue working, the dog can no longer explore his world through his mouth. With nylon muzzles, a dog can die - I would never advise using one, not even in a veterinary setting. Always a basket. Always.

There are people who believe all dogs should be muzzled. Which begs the question, why bother accepting dogs into our world? It speaks to the fear we have with dogs. It's primal. Dogs may be domestic animals, but they still channel instincts many of us find unpalatable. These instincts generally involve teeth and blood. Deep down, most of us know that dogs are predators. They just happen to sleep in our homes and sometimes walk politely on a lead.

Again, I am not anti-muzzle. I'd love a world in which all of us dog guardians could take our dogs on boats and airplanes and trains and buses and taxi cabs and just have to muzzle them for that temporary transition from point a to point b. I think that would be an acceptable use of a muzzle and it would expand the horizons for dog-human interactions and adventures. And I see no reason to avoid a muzzle if the use of one accompanied with training and management saves a dog's life.

But they still make me sad.

Muzzles - yea or nay?