Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Fear of Testicles

Why is the animal community afraid of testicles? And to a lesser extent, ovaries and the uterus?

Every time I see a male dog with nuts, I hear the sound of scissors in my head. It's a reflex. I'll sometimes verbalize, "That's a beautiful dog, but he needs to be snipped yesterday!"

I am working on re-training my reaction.

It is hard, though. I have been taught by the animal shelter community that castration is the end-all, be-all way to stop dogs and cats from being killed in shelters.

And while I am a fan of neutering at the appropriate age or triage castration for areas with actual street/semi-feral dog problems, I have had to evaluate why I feel the way I do about castration.

I have been taught to feel this way. By college professors, by supervisors, by an entire dog-rescue/shelter community, dog trainers, and even veterinarians. They have all said castrating a dog before the age of 6-mos is not just appropriate, but absolutely necessary for the health and well-being of the dog.

Which is untrue. Or it is only partially true. Or, it is only true in some circumstances. But it is not True.

When Mina had to have a canine tooth extracted and a silver dollar sized lump removed from her chest, I agonized over the surgery. It was not a simple procedure. She, at the age of 10, would be completely sedated and heavily medicated with analgesics afterwards. The surgery would take nearly an hour. It was not that it would cost me more than a $1,000, but the anesthesia and surgery itself that I fretted over. Was it necessary? Would she survive the anesthesia? How would the tooth extraction affect her eating?

The veterinarian was pleased with my questions, answering them with patience and enthusiasm. It was never implied I would be a bad person if I waited on the surgery or did not have it, although it was discouraged for Mina's future health.

I went ahead with the surgery. The benefits - elimination of a rotted tooth and a potentially cancerous tumor outweighed the risks. Her lifespan will be longer without that tooth and, while the tumor was benign, it was growing.

Contrast that with Mina's spay. I had asked if it would be appropriate to wait to spay when I started fostering her. She was 25 lbs underweight and had a major tapeworm infestation. The shelter was willing to wait, since I was a long-time volunteer and trusted. The veterinarian, though, assured me it was in Mina's best interest to spay her now, right now, and that waiting was bad. She could go into heat any moment and make spaying her riskier. The shelter staff agreed, even if they were willing to wait. So I relented, and she was spayed while malnourished, parasitized and unthrifty. It is not something I would ever repeat.

And afterward? After she had her ENTIRE reproductive system removed, sliced open for the world to see and stitched back together...the vet was not planning on giving her analgesics. I know Mina is stoic. Also, I know being cut open hurts. Given the choice between no pain meds and pain meds, mammals and birds self-medicate when they hurt. I paid for the pain meds, even if the veterinarian thought I was silly.

That was nine years ago and times have changed. Many veterinarians provide post-op pain relief to dogs who are spayed and neutered. Some still do not. I still contrast the surgeries. The spay was far more painful for Mina by objective medical standards, yet it was treated as if Mina was having a toe-nail clipping rather than invasive surgery.

Castration does have some health benefits for the animals in question. For male dogs, it will eliminate some forms of cancer. Since the procreative drive, an incredibly powerful force, is eliminated, male dogs are perhaps offered some stress relief (no drive to procreate and guard such a powerful resource). For female dogs, it will eliminate pyometra and other forms of cancer. Pyometra rarely kills bitches, but it does affect nearly a quarter of intact female dogs. By far, castration is probably most appealing because it is far more convenient for us humans to deal with neutered dogs than un-neutered ones.

On the other hand, castration is a serious surgery that we take far too lightly. For females, it is not just serious, it's highly invasive.

Neutering too soon in giant-breed dogs, particularly males, causes bone growth problems. Spaying a female dog after she has gone through estrus or pregnancy increases the risk of incontinence. Mina suffers from spay-induced incontinence. It is easy to treat but requires her to be on medication for the rest of her life. Spaying also triples the risk of hypothyroidism in females, another condition Mina has, also requiring life-long medication. Other forms of cancer, like prostate, are more common in neutered male dogs than intact ones. It is suggested bone cancer is more likely in early-neutered dogs, male and female.

I think this overview of the cost-benefit of castration in male and female dogs is useful.

I am not advocating everyone stop castrating dogs and cats.

But uteruses and testicles have served very important functions - and not just reproductively - for a very long time. Their removal causes a cascade effect of hormonal changes. They are not accessories. Their absence is felt for the lifetime of the animal's life.

Which is why I think removing them should be considered a major surgery and that risks should be evaluated with a cost-benefit analysis for the animal first, the human second. Veterinarians should not scoff at the notion someone might not want to castrate their dog nor should animal shelter officials deny adoptions based on the reproductive status of another animal residing with the applicant.

Stop fearing balls and ovaries, but especially testicles (they're so visible, dangling there), and start thinking - really thinking - about what spaying and neutering does to our dogs and whether the risks outweigh the benefits for each dog in question. I appreciate the sensitive position animal shelters are put in, when few people actually follow through with spay-neuter vouchers. It can be heart-breaking seeing a dog you adopted out returned with a litter of puppies in tow.

Still, there must be a middle ground in which shelters can ethically and appropriately advocate for castration of most shelter animals while allowing that testicles and ovaries are a) useful and important and b) perhaps medically necessary for some dogs. If I ever end up with another dog not from a shelter (rescued in another manner), I would take castration far more seriously. I might modify the age at which neutering occurred. I might even *gasp* consider not castrating a male dog. I just don't know, but I will put more thought into it than I did with Mina.

On my part, I will work on not judging every pair of testicles I see on a dog as unnecessary and in need of permanent removal.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Humane Society of Southwest Missouri - U R Doin it Wrong

Say you are an adoption coordinator at a shelter with 400 animals needing homes. You have a lot of kittens and cats who are in desperate need of placement. A really great family comes in, eager to adopt a kitten. They've found the perfect one, and their application is really great...except for one thing.

Their dog is not spayed.


If you are the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri, you say no. 

Who knew unspayed dogs and spayed kittens could INTERBREED thus contributing to the unwanted doat or kitog population.

Now if it was me? I'd ask about why the dog was not spayed. Maybe she has health problems. Maybe they do not have money to spay her. Maybe she is only 3-mos-old, and they want to wait. Maybe they are "reputable" breeders of dogs. Maybe they do not believe in removing the entire reproductive system of their dog. There are a lot of reasons not to spay a dog.

Our shelter system unfortunately reveres castration more than adoption. Or at least that is what HSSM is implying by denying an adoption based on the intact status of an unrelated species of animal.

If the dog guardians seemed interested, I would find a way to help them get their dog spayed. If they are not, then so what? All animals exiting the shelter are castrated, so even if they wanted an un-neutered male dog, it's not like he'd be getting down and dirty with the female dog at home.

To increase adoptions means letting go of outdated reasons not to adopt. Find more ways to adopt. Adopting castrated animals into responsible homes with intact animals is one way to do that. This is not unreasonable.

Around the Intarwebz

Dog Attacks - none of which were reported by anti "dogs I don't like" zealots over at
A little boy is still recovering after a savage mauling from a Border Collie in September. He's had several surgeries. 

A woman in the UK was killed by a mastiff owned by another renter. The dog was housed in the garden and has a history of aggression. The owner is being charged with manslaughter.

An 11-yr-old boy in the UK underwent 5 hours of surgery after being attacked by a stray Shar-Pei the family had taken in days earlier. It is unclear what instigated the attack. The dog was euthanized.

A loose mixed breed dog weighing about 100 lbs attacked three boys in Alabama.

 Two St. Bernards who were going to be rehomed by their owner are instead being euthanized after their third attack on a child.

A Labrador Retriever bit a child, causing 32 stitches worth of damage. When the dog was released back to his owner, the father of the child walked to the woman's property with a gun, approached the dog who was confined in a vehicle, and shot the dog three times, killing him. He is now facing animal cruelty charges.

Dear Mr. President

I will be writing in my dad for President in 2012. Bob for President. It has a nice ring to it, really.

Now, I was not planning on voting for you anyways, due to your inability to keep paltry promises and stick up for yourself and me, the disappearing middle class.

BUT, then you had to go and call up the Eagles owner and let him know it was super cool of him to re-hire a sociopathic dog killer! Nail, meet coffin.

I am a football fan. In order to be consistent, before I endorse a player, I now look up their criminal records (publicized ones, that is). If you choke, electrocute or beat dogs to death, I dislike you. If you kill people, I dislike you. If you rape people, I dislike you. Those are the three big no-no crimes in my book. I check up on players I like  here to find out if they have burned and pillaged anything lately.

Anyway, Mr. President, I hope you call up every football team's owner and thank them for hiring and paying exorbitant salaries to people who drive drunk (but feel sorry afterwards!), kill people (but get charges dropped and donate to charity later on!), rape women (but say it was consensual, so in your face, victims), and who have to be fished out of canals for swimming under the influence (it was hot!). Don't just limit yourself to near-MVP quarterbacks who fought dogs, gambled, and killed under-performing dogs with his bare hands but who now claim redemption and plans on owning another dog!


Disappearing Middle Class Personhood

PS: Disapproving Pit Bull Disapproves

Monday, December 27, 2010

Vegan Sugar Cookies

I'm visiting my parents for the holidays. My mom and I made some vegan sugar cookies today. Enjoy!

Pics by moi!

This makes about 36 cookies. We made two batches.

1 cup margarine
1 cup white sugar
2 egg replacers (Ener-G)
3 3/4 cup all purpose-flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup vegan cream cheese (Tofutti, Follow Your Heart)
1 tsp vanilla extract


1.  In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar. Stir in the egg replacements and vanilla. Gradually add the flour, baking powder and tofu cream cheese. You may have to use your hands at this point to finish the mixing. Form the dough into a long loaf and wrap in cellophane. Refrigerate for a couple hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease the cookie sheets or use a non-stick foil.
3. On a lightly floured surface (we taped down a sheet of non-stick foil to our countertop instead), roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place about 1 inch apart cookie on sheets.
4. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes in the preheated oven, until bottoms and edges just start to get light brown. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire racks. Store in an airtight container.


Yum! They were the perfect texture. The sourced recipe also has a vegan icing recipe, which I'm sure is tasty too (we used a mix). 

How Celeste Helps to Bake

She is ready to offer assistance during any point in the cookie making process.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Go out and adopt a dog or cat for christmas

That's right! If you have the space and time to fit a super awesome pound pup or cat in your home - DO IT. Do it now. If your shelter is open Christmas - and they should, in my not so humble opinion - go there and get yourself a dog or cat.

I'd say pick out the least attractive, the oldest, the one with three legs or one eye or smelly breath. Nab the senior cat with snaggletooth and a grumpy personality. Pick out the one sitting quietly in the corner or maybe the one front in center molesting his cage bars. Just pick one.

In several months, after some help from a trainer, I plan on fostering dogs again. Or at least try. If the bitchy dynamic duo don't screw it up for me (I'm looking at you, Celeste).

But if you can do it now. Do it.

To help inspire you, I have picked some of the saddest dogs and cats I could find on Petfinder. If these animals do not make you run out to get one of your own, SHAME ON YOU, YOU HEARTLESS PERSON!



Ha! I stole Russel's Chuck, because that is how I roll. It does not matter that I am actually 30 miles away, I have the power of tele-ball-nesis. My name is Archie and I am probably the most handsomest of dogs you've ever seen.

I am at a sad, hi-kill shelter, which means I am sad and at risk of being hi-killing. I do not know what this means, but I have Chuck with its superpowers of death-prevention. So, adopt me today so that I can continue to steal the Chuck's of the world from the Russel's of the world. You could even adopt me AND Russel. Except he talks in all caps, which is just rude.

Give me the gift of eyes, mkay, thanks!

I was born in Egypt 3,000 years ago as a Pharaoh's cat.

Now I have decided to try urban life in northern California.

If you are prepared to devote your life, sofa, and $10,000,000 in cash, I am ready to rule your world.

Apply today. I may decide to take over a small island nation.

Also. My name is not Klause. My name is not pronounceable.

 Yes. Well. I see I have ended up in a place that believes cuddling and blue jangly collars are all the rage.

They are not. Anywhere, actually.

Please save me from my saviors. They clearly do not know much about cats.

If these pictures and heart-warming stories don't make you rush out to nab a shelter dog or cat, I do not know what will.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

A 7-yr-old Golden Retriever was shot to death by a police officer who cut through the yard where the dog lived. In another case, an officer responding to a call shot a German Shepherd in the face after the dog charged at him.

Dog Attacks - none of which were reported by Anti "dogs I don't like" zealots over at
A Labrador Retriever-Chow Cross attacked a child and his father. The father choked the dog to death. A more recent story highlights the dog was on her property when the attack occurred.

Two Labrador Retrievers running loose attacked a leashed Jack Russell Terrier and then mauled the guardian of the JRT when she tried to help.

A 5-yr-old boy allowed to play with a neighbor's Labrador Retriever was bitten by the dog. His finger was bitten off but recovered.

Two Labrador Retrievers were found attacking sheep, ripping out one's throat.

Why these kids were playing football in a dog park is unknown. The football hit a dog in the head. The Labradoodle responded by biting one of the ball's thrower in the thigh, causing 15 stitches worth of damage.

A toddler suffered 300 stitches worth of damage from a Maremma sheepdog used as a guardian dog. The dog was alone with the toddler when the attack happened and will be killed.

A Belgian Malinois police dog bit a child multiple times in the face while visiting the child's school. The child was the last one to interact with the dog.

A Great Dane tore a 6-mos-old child from her mother's arms, causing significant injuries.

A Bull Mastiff inflicted massive injuries on a 4-yr-old boy under unknown circumstances.

A German Shepherd mix running loose attacked a Lab and then the owner.

A German Shepherd running loose attacked a small dog and when the owner intervened, the GSD mauled her.

Four Huskies running loose severely mauled a 7-yr-old girl.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Softer Side of


She's a white leghorn, bred for egg production and the most common breed used in the egg industry. She is bred to produce 250-300 eggs/year, 5 times more than normal.

Her beak has been cut off, a painful procedure that leaves her with difficulties eating and preening.

That does not stop her from enjoying a close-up! Ethel stopped to sip some water from a puddle, then paused so I could get this shot of her. 

Ethel Shades her Side

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to Save a Fallen Prius

My boss somehow backed her vehicle off her driveway and got it stuck. So of course I took pictures of the car's rescue.

The scene:
 Trying to push the vehicle up. Just kidding, it was just for the shot.

 Trying to tip the vehicle over, just to scare the boss.
 And the grand finale!

The most exciting part of the rescue was trying to turn the car on. I should say, most embarrassing. We had to bust out the manual (the boss wasn't present). Once we figured it out, it was smooth sailing from there. Keyless keys are silly, and I am glad Ford did not do such a dumb thing with my hybrid, Henrietta the Ford Escape.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Anatomy of a Rooster Fight

I am not talking the bloodsport. The normal kind. Fighting amongst roosters is absolutely normal and rarely injurious or fatal. Birds achieve great rank and can lose it in a day - nothing in the poultry hierarchy is stable and permanent. Their social world is in constant flux.

Most of their "fighting" is posturing. Roosters will offer every chance at avoiding a fight.

The beginning of a potential fight starts with the "I'm just pecking at the ground." Frost is the large white rooster on the right, Chaucer is the sporty fellow on the left. Frost used to be top rooster by sheer size alone. Chaucer is a jerk and loves to fight. Recently, Frost has fallen in the ranks. He is trying to get higher up, so he'll start a challenge with Chaucer (even though no one really likes to start something with Chaucer).

I've had visitors think roosters exhibiting this pre-fight behavior were being cute, unaware that inevitably a sparring session would occur. I don't know the root cause of this pre-fighting behavior. It's almost exactly like a food-call to hens. In fact, some roosters will vocalize like they would to hens. Showing off how great they are at finding resources?

Further Evidence Celeste is a Little Bonkers

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Pups Feel Better

Thanks for all the advice and suggestions! Mina and Celeste are feeling a lot better.

Celeste is nutsCeleste has an ongoing ear infection. After three different treatments, I am trying a food elimination diet. I think she might be allergic to rice. So now she is on unmentionables (animal products) all the time. She thinks this is great. I am also using a tea-tree oil* based ear wash. I think the ear is starting to look a tiny bit better. She is not shaking her head as often, and there is not as much gunk. I know elimination diets can take up to 6 weeks to work. She's been on it for two weeks. It's nice to see her be in less pain.

In other Celeste news, she is being a real bitch to Mina. I don't know how Mina takes it. Mina has been wanting desperately to play with Celeste. The puppy-no-more is not having any of that. What is wrong with her? Mina is a perfect play mate and is also supremely adorable. Celeste needs to realize this and just get over herself.

This is what they should be doing together:

Mina and Celeste tug

*A word of caution - Never use undiluted tea tree oil, it is toxic and caustic. Do not ingest tea tree oil. Consult a homeopathic veterinarian before making your own tea tree oil ear wash. It has to be diluted properly and at the right level to not cause hearing loss while also killing bacteria. If you buy a commercial brand, check with the company and find out the diluted percentage and their quality of standards.

Around the Intarwebz

Denver is all fuck you, federal Americans with Disabilities Act and fuck you "disabled" persons, we don't wanna, we don't have to!

Grab a happy tissue, because here's a sweet story of a family adopting two adorable Pit Bulls.

Charlie the pit bull, rescued from a dogfighting operation, is in his new home. RE bait dogs...sure, I am certain they exist, but I'm betting Charlie was a fighter, not a bait dog. Either way, he deserves a chance at a normal home life.

Shelters Doing Good 4

These are more ideas and suggestions for shelters to improve adoptions, reduce kill rates, and create community support and participation.

The Humane Society of Camden County expanded their volunteer base by opening up opportunities to teenagers. More volunteers means more exercised animals and more people to assist in adoption.

Like many shelters, the Calaveras Humane Society has a thrift store and offers gift certificates for times like the holidays.

I've mentioned this one before, but the Humane Society of Silicon Valley is trying to reduce its dog and cat population by offering a "Set your price" deal where adopters decide on the adoption fee. You'd be amazed by how many people pay the traditional fee and then some!

Humane Society of Tom Green County will be setting up shop in a mall with a storefront. This is a great way to reach out to people who may not have considered adoption AND community build with microchip and vaccine clinics.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Dogs Are ill

And not in the cool way.

Mina's rear end is on revolt.

Celeste's ear and stomach are engaging in a coup.

Can a dog be given pepto? I am too lazy for google-fu, internets, tell me the answer!

Celeste is also farting a lot. Some dogs are mortified when they fart. Mina, for example, blames it on me. Seriously, she stares at me when she smells her own farts. Or, sometimes, she stares at her butt in confusion. Other dogs, like Celeste, could care less about scenting the entire room AT WORK with rank odor.

That is all from the land of gross, sick dogs.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

DMV Employee Works for the Devil

Did you know that a government employee disclosing your personal information to extremist churches and mailing a letter to your home address, telling you you will burn in hell, is according to the government agency in question a personal matter? Last time I checked, bunions were a personal matter...violation of privacy and sexual discrimination by a government employee were not. CALL ME LUDICROUS. But you cannot, because I am right.

A transgender woman went to the DMV to change her gender from male to female.

The employee who did the change then stole her private, personal information, shared it with a freaky hater-mongering Church of The Evilness and mailed her a letter about going to hell and stuff.

This is the second time the employee has directed his fear and hatred towards a transgender individual.

The DMV isn't letting anyone know if the dude in question is still employed. We have a large pool of unemployed people, many of whom are not creepy bigoted assholes. One of them can take his place. That's my advice, anyways. I know firing government employees is hard, but two incidents of violating the law SEEM like reasonable grounds.

In addition to not disclosing if the man in question is employed, the DMV is also not apologizing. This is probably because the DMV never apologizes. Ever. The DMV would run you over with a car and would not apologize. That is how the DMV rolls. Get it? Rolls. Yes, I did that. Just kidding. I imagine The Apology is slowly working its way up through the chain of DMV command and we will hear about how sorry they are five years from now. Government remorse for the win.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Snuggling on the Sofa Leads to Cuteness

Before I go to bed, I must report upon the new Level of Cute the dynamic duo exhibited this evening.

Picture this: You are sitting on the sofa. The old lady Pit Bull dawg stares at you from - according to her - the improper vantage of on the ground. So you invite her up, and she is glad.

Then the not-so-little-muttskie Celeste gets in on the action. She too is curious as to why she is sitting neglected and forlorn on the ground. THE GROUND. Ignore the cushy rug.

So you invite her up too.

The old lady Pit Bull dawg proceeds to put her head on your leg, curling up as close to you as is canine-ly possible. The not-so-little-muttskie Celeste drapes her rear leg over one of yours, contorting herself into the corner of the sofa. And then, the coup de grace (minus the death part) - old lady Pit Bull dawg leans over and flings herself, gracefully, on top of Celeste...and Celeste is happy with this. You are happy too, because you are watching that awful 4th season episode of the Private Practice and OMG XANDER WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? And you need that dog love.

Moments like these make me ever so happy I kept Celeste (original plan = foster). Everybody touching, everybody contented, everybody just being. Plus, the cute factor.

Mixed Feelings

When I read this letter, I had a lot of sympathy. It seemed unfair, to keep this man's dog at a shelter because he could not afford multiple bail-out fees.

And then when I read today's update, my feelings - fair weather friends - changed a bit.

It turns out this is the third time animal control has dealt with this man and his dog. The first time, the dog was left tied up to a spigot, seemingly abandoned, while the man went shopping. The second time, the dog was loose and animal control returned him. And this is the third time, in which the dog got out of a backyard and was found by a good Samaritan.

Is what's best for the man best for his dog?

I won't judge this man's economic status. It is my belief a person's ability at caring for his dog has little to do with income. What makes for a responsible dog guardian does not, by necessity, require a lot of money.

And for someone who relies on emotional support from his dog, keeping them apart borders on cruel.

Still, I cannot help but give pause. In the nine years I have had Mina, she has gotten out once. A gardener left the gate open and Mina explored my parents' neighborhood. Since I am anal-retentive when it comes to checking on Mina, it was 30 seconds from the time she waltzed out to when I discovered her gaping absence. I called to her and behold, she came running. The horrifying things that could have happened made me even more ridiculous about Mina's safety. Celeste has never gotten out.

Granted, I have never endured this man's situation which involved living in a vehicle for a period of time. I try to keep that in my mind - it is easy for me to say a million and one things about this guy's ability to care for his dog, but I have never been in dire financial straits without friend or family to lend me their homes, paychecks, whatever.

Do I think this dog would thrive in a different, more stable environment? Yes. I really do. I believe he would do better in a home that could provide a secure housing situation, consistent opportunities to exercise and explore the world. To be honest, I think he should have been given that chance, but that is not coming from a place in which I switch the dog with Mina (because hell no!)

So I am happy (sorta) he has been reunited. He has a person who loves him, even if he does not offer the most stable of homes for this dog. But the dog is alive and with someone who loves him.

What do you think? What's fair for the dog and the man?

Celeste is a Bad Dog & Anime List

Due to the fact she just took 1/2 my bagel covered in chocolate peanut butter off my desk and was gnawing on it like she owned it. Wrong.

Now she is staring at me from her crate with a WHAT THE FREAKS LADY? look on her face.

Celeste logic - if you are not there to see me take the bagel off your desk, IT NEVER HAPPENED.

Also, list of anime I am currently watching. You don't care. I am just using this space for selfish reasons. That is how I roll.


Monday, December 6, 2010

8 Dogs Attack, Only Pit Bull Gets a Mention

Another "mythical" example of media bias. Those who engage in anti-pit bull zealotry would have you believe there isn't a bias in how dog attacks are reported. Anyone who is familiar with journalism, especially 21st "journalism", knows this is bull-crap. There are biases in the media for a whole host of other subjects, why on earth would dog attacks be any different?

In Crawford County, a man was out jogging when he was swarmed and attacked by eight dogs.

Guess which breed is the only one mentioned? Out of the eight dogs, it's only the Pit Bull mix who gets a breed shout out. Yet all eight dogs participated in the attack.

You can see in the video that the woman owns a whole host of dogs, ranging from Labs to Pointers to Pit Bulls to mixed breeds.

The jogger is recovering, and I wish him the best. I hope he does not suffer any permanent physical or emotional trauma from this frightening attack.

And maybe someone can tell this "rescuer", she needs to fence in her dogs, yo.

Shelters Doing Good 3

These are some good/unique/innovative things shelters are doing. This does not mean each individual shelter is perfect or ideal, just that they may be offering alternatives to the traditional animal shelter model. These ideas and tools can be a great resource for other shelters and animal lovers, to encourage a transition to a no-kill model.

For the second year in a row, the Calvert County Sheriff's Animal Control Office will be offering animal licenses at a reduced rate of $3.00/castrated animal and $10/intact animal from December 20-23. Amnesty license events are a great way to improve licensing and offer a low-cost alternative to those who may be enduring economic strife.

Sudbury, Ontario is offering a unique incentive to register your dog and cat - if they are caught wearing the 2011 registration tag and found running loose, no $125 fee for the first offense! Ouch to the citation if you don't have a tag, but yes to the incentive AND to the wide availability of tags, which will be sold in citizen service centers, public libraries, pet food stores, animal clinics and the Sudbury shelter.

Petfinder has a nice holiday program called Foster a Lonely Pet. This holiday open up your home to a needy dog or cat, giving them the best gift ever - a safe home for the holidays! Participating shelters are listed. The Henry County Humane Society Geneseo Chapter is participating and hoping some foster homes step forward for the 80 cats in their care.

During a crisis, it's especially important to make adopting animals incredibly easy. The Humane Society of South Mississippi recently took on 121 cats from a home (and I question if the animals were healthy and in good condition, why ALL of them were removed, but that's for another post). It's nearly impossible to move animals out of the area, so they're relying on the local community to step up and help. Which is why they are waiving adoption fees and asking for donations instead...the amazing thing about this is folks generally pay as much, if not more, when given this option!

The Hawaiian Humane Society is doing the same, offering a "pick your price" option up until Christmas eve on cats. With shelters overloaded with cats, this is an easy way to increase adoptions and get media attention! Also, the Hawaiian Humane Society is doing what every shelter should do to increase adoptions - stay open 7 days a week and include hours of operation for those who work. They are open until 7 pm on weekdays.

Having a responsible nonprofit take over your local government run facility can mean the difference between life and death.I've already profiled the St. Louis city shelter being taken over by Stray Rescue and the great things that have happened there. The same thing is happening in Collinsville in which Partners for Pets Humane Society took over running the Warren Billhartz Collinsville Animal Shelter. In September and October of last year, 79 animals were killed...with the nonprofit at the helm? Only 8.

Working with a pet store business that does not sell animals can be a great way to boost adoptions and improve life for the animals at the partnering shelters. In Rome, Georgia, Pet$ense - a pet supply store - only offers rescued dogs and cats for adoption in their store. This holiday, they are also putting a tree with adoptable animal names on tags - people can grab a tag, buy supplies, and donate them to the partnering shelters. Coolness.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Evidence Celeste Sorta Snuggles

Once upon a time there was a puppy who hated touching other dogs. She even disdained touching butts with her big, bestest, non-sister, Mina. This was a travesty, because Mina would have loved snorgling her not-so-little-not-sister. Mina never took offense. She also stopped caring about Celeste's opinion on Sharing the Sofa. If Celeste wanted to sit on the sofa, she would have to deal with Mina in all her warm, emo glory.

Finally, after many years, the puppy-who-is-not-a-puppy decided it was best to give in and snuggle...just a little bit.

But she would do it with a horrified face:
Celeste SORT OF snuggling

And Mina would try VERY hard not to just plop her head on Celeste's butt.
Mina playing it real cool
Must. Resist. Putting. Head. On. Butt.

Thus, the puppy became an adult. It only took her 3.5 years.

Around the Intarwebz

A man and woman driving by a canal noticed a dog struggling in the water. They immediately pulled over, got out, found a ladder, and pulled the 2-yr-old Lab to safety. He had clearly struggled in the water and was suffering from hypothermia, but survived.

A former sex offender living in a group home was savagely beaten by three men while walking his dog. The man was in a group home for former sex offenders. The three men attacked the man because they "didn't want sex offenders" in their neighborhood. When the man's dog started barking, I guess the three men decided they didn't want Pomeranian-Chihuahua's in the neighborhood, because they kicked the dog multiple times, killing her. Way to go vigilante justice. Sarcasm there.

A German Shepherd in Evans, NY fell nearly 100' off a cliff, suffering extensive injuries. Rescuers braved the cliffside to rescue the dog...who may be euthanized because his family cannot afford the cost of repairing the damage. I don't have any info on donating to help or if the dog has already been killed.

Burning a bridge vs building one or how punitive neighborhood sweeps do not help guardians or dogs/cats.

HSUS coordinated the rescue and housing of 100 dogs rescued from a commercial breeding operation. They worked with several other groups to help the dogs. In addition, HSUS is suing Perdue farms, one of the largest producers of chickens, for their false labeling claims that confuse consumers about the care chickens at Perdue facilities receive.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cover the Nose

Mina is jealous of Celeste's feathered tail. Celeste can use this tail to cover her nose. Mina tries, but her tail is whip-like.

Mina uses her paws. She will first try her front paws, placing them on either side of her face, curving over to that beautiful pink-nose. Then its her back paws, the outer one fitting perfectly over her snout.

It's never good enough.

Celeste drapes her feet over her nose too, but she has the ultimate nose protector in her tail.

And tonight, Mina finally took advantage of Celeste's newfound tolerance of snuggling. There I was, watching The Walking Dead, minding my own business when BAM! cuteness overload. Mina's nose under Celeste's tail. It was a thing of beauty, that it was.

Destiny Dog Supposed to be Killed Instead of Target War Hero Dog

Remember Target, the war-hero dog who was accidentally killed by Pinal Animal Control. She was mistaken for another dog who was supposed to be killed.

The other dog who was to be killed? Still alive.

And friendly. So shouldn't have been killed, anyways.

She's supposedly going to be a spokesdog for "Target's Law", which entails what, I'm not sure.

The person who killed Target has been fired.

This is scapegoating. The officer should not have been fired - they were doing their job. Remember, a perfectly, friendly, adoptable dog was going to be killed...and instead an "owned" perfectly, friendly, adoptable dog was mistakenly killed. These people are paid to kill healthy animals. Making mistakes at a hi-kill shelter is absolutely unavoidable.

The problem is killing nice, friendly, healthy dogs to begin with. By my standards, if this shelter wanted to be consistent, they'd fire their entire staff, re-organize their board, and implement a policy of low-kill/no-kill immediately.

And the idea that Destiny, the supposed-to-be-dead dog, was fated to live while Target was fated to die is total and utter bull-puckey. Neither dog should have been killed. Period.

This is the problem with our traditional animal control model. It's not The Problem, but it is one of many.

I wish Destiny much luck in life. I hope Pinal Animal Control implements some significant changes that doesn't penalize workers (like firing them) but creates meaningful change for the dogs and cats in their care. First step, find a way to stop killing healthy, adoptable animals! It is all smooth sailing from there.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Shelters Doing Good 2

I want to profile more good things shelters are doing, because I think they give all shelters and the public useful alternatives to killing animals. Plus, positive is always more productive than negative...tragically less memorable! This will be a continuing series.

The Humane Society of Bergen County is offering pet food to those in need. It's first-come, first-serve and not a prolonged program, but it is a short-term idea that can offer help to less fortunate folks.

Main Line Animal Rescue has a program taking temperamentally sound Pit Bulls and having them visit blind people. The dogs bring some joy to the people, and the program helps individual Pit Bulls get good, positive attention. It was featured on the Today Show.

The Butte Humane Society is encouraging adoption through their "take me home for the holidays" adoption drive, a far less stingy "coal in your stocking" approach to the "getting companion animals during the holidays is the sinful".

The Asheville Humane Society had 72 cats needing homes. A lot of shelters are facing a crisis of cats...some are coming up with other ways to get them homes rather than killing them. Last Friday and Saturday, they offered cats for free, resulting in 49 cats being adopted, woo-hoo!

Remember the St. Louis shelter's success with Stray Rescue taking over operations? Here are some pictures of the initial transfer from the old city shelter to the new shelter, taken in July of this year by someone who participated in that transport.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Celeste Has Become Perfect

There is a moment in every dog's life when they become Perfect. For some dogs, this is when they are born. For example, Mina. Other dogs take longer to achieve a peerless state. For example, Celeste.

This is all subjective, of course. Celeste embodied perfection when she was born. All dogs do. So when I say Perfect, I mean by my standards. Unfair and egregiously anthropocentric. This I know.

When Celeste entered my world, I met her with resistance. Here was a puppy capable of learning the bathroom rules in two days. It took Mina two weeks. As an adult. Embarrassing. Celeste explored the world with gusto and inquisitiveness. Mina thought all were out to get her. Not Celeste.

How fascinating, Celeste was the ideal dog, but for me, she was a mystery. So unlike the Gold Standard of Mina. Mina, sassy. Mina, leash reactive. Mina, dog selective. Mina, deep gazer. Mina, ultimate thinker. World on her shoulders, Mina. Woe, Queen of.

And there was Celeste, happy. Exploratory. Confident. Socialite. Decision maker.

I never disliked Celeste. I never DIDN'T love her.

But I never felt she was Perfect.

Humans are good at unfair.

Dogs don't care.

Celeste Hates Halloween
See? Perfect!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Shelters Doing Good

The traditional shelter paradigm is sad and depressing. After all, it results in the deaths of healthy, treatable dogs and cats each year. So here are some ideas, programs, things shelters are doing that help dogs and cats.

Live in Wisconsin? Have an iphone? Want to adopt a dog or cat? There's an app for that, yo. The Wisconsin Humane Society created an app to check out the adoptable animals at their shelter. Animal adoptions for the 21st century.

The Edmonton Humane Society is overrun with cats, adopt some now! There's 400 of them, whoa! Some of these cats will not thrive in a home environment and instead of killing them, the shelter is offering them for FREE (OH NOES, the fear of free, peeps!) as barn cats. You still gotta give them food and water, but in return they'll growl at you and maybe eat some mice (run away, mice, run away). So it's a win-win, especially for the cat.

Some shelters are bucking the "pets don't make good 'gifts'" trend and encouraging people to thoughtfully and responsibly consider adopting a dog or cat this holiday season. Adoption tip - try and avoid creating a reason to AVOID adopting animals, not when you don't have to!

It's not just privately funded shelters doing some good stuff, either! Fort Worth Animal Care and Control doubled their adoption rate this year by hooking up with PetSmart, which spent all the money to build an adoption center inside their store and donates $15 to the shelter for every animal adopted. PetSmart benefits - what happens when a person adopts a dog or a cat? THEY BUY THEM STUFF!

Concern for Animals Kills Them in San Bernardino County

In early November, 3 of a man's dogs attacked another one of his dogs. Animal control was called out and, per the traditional animal control paradigm, they confiscated the three dogs and killed them.

They gave the man a citation for an illegal cattery and told him he had to reduce the number of animals on-site. The article leaves much to be desired - did they give him access to spay/neuter clinics? Adoption assistance? What, in addition, to a citation did they offer this man with the illegal cattery and clearly way too many animals?

A week later, they came back and gave him a second citation. And told him, you know, reduce the numbers.

Something happened to the man that led him to relinquish all 114 animals to the county.

And, so far as I can tell, all of the dogs and cats were killed by their rescuers.

The animals were divided amongst four different shelters.

Yucca Valley Animal Shelter is the only shelter mentioned that says what they did with their new charges. They took in 38 cats and 7 dogs. And according to them, every single one of them couldn't keep their food down, and thus has to be killed. I find this highly implausible. The animals may very well have been sick, including animals who may have been irremediably ill. But the San Bernardino county region kills between 61-70% of the incoming animals. I could not find specific details for Yucca Valley Animal Shelter.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What the Traditional Shelter Model Means for Dogs

Sunday I posted about what the new no-kill paradigm means for the dogs of St. Louis after their city shelter was taken over by a nonprofit...instead of killing 50% of all incoming dogs, the nonprofit has killed a grand total of 3 in the past six months. Instead of adopting out a measly 300 dogs in a year, the nonprofit has adopted out 120 dogs a month. I profiled a few of the dogs available for adoption who would not be alive under previous management.

This is not pie-in-the-sky naivete. The no-kill paradigm can be made a reality for nearly every single shelter in this country...if we want it to be.

As a contrast, here is what the traditional shelter model means to dogs. In Sacramento County, more than 60% of the dogs who enter the shelter don't come out alive. On a dog rescue listserv, a rescue group posts all the dogs who have come into the shelter in the hopes other rescue agencies will pull dogs. The list also includes dogs who don't make it...they are all given the "Unfortunately, this animal was euthanized." tag line, as if it the taking of another life is just unfortunate happenstance.

This is what the traditional shelter paradigm is doing to dogs. Warning, it's not pretty.

All dead.

Now maybe a few of these dogs have irremediable health problems. But my guess is most were the wrong breed with the "wrong" temperament and failed the most basic and pathetic of behavioral temperament tests. They were probably shy or food aggressive or maybe dog or cat reactive. Maybe they were outright aggressive. But none were given a chance at behavioral modification.

Sacramento County's shelter is far larger than St. Louis' city shelter. They take in around 15,000 animals a year, compared to around 2,000 in St. Louis' city shelter. They have been the recipient of exceedingly harsh budget cuts, but I imagine many shelters have been on the budgetary chopping block as well. They moved to a new 22-million dollar facility...I can't help but wonder if significant improvements could have been made to their previous one for half the price with the other 10 million going towards aggressive outreach/adoption events, aggressive volunteer and foster recruitment, aggressive ad/media campaigns increasing adoptions, etc. ad naseum. I love the new shelter, really I do, and it was desperately needed (when I used to volunteer there, the shelter housed 4-6 dogs in kennels made for 1-2 they have space for up to a 1,000 dogs and cats), it's just hard to reconcile with the current economic situation.

But if Sacramento County (the shelter, the SPCA, the city shelter, the citizens, rescues, etc) really wanted to do what Stray Rescue is doing St. Louis, Sacramento County could do it. I don't think the success would be quite as instantaneous, for a variety of reasons, but I think it would be quicker than the current model.

Sac County is trying, but it's hard when you read articles like this, all about the killing of healthy, adoptable animals because of the erroneous claim there aren't enough homes. Animals are being killed for treatable problems, and that is not just or right.

So when you think about no-kill versus the traditional animal control model, think of those dogs above who, in two days, were snuffed from existence because all of us aren't rethinking the role of the animal shelter in the 21st century. There is no excuse for this, only impetus for change. I don't spotlight Sac County because I think they are bad or animal control officers are horrible. But I do think the mentality, as expressed in the above article, focuses too much on what the shelter "can't" or "isn't" doing rather than on uniting the animal welfare community and moving the shelter system into a more compassionate and sustainable future.

Where My Feathered Friends At?

I have two bird feeders out in my yard. There's not a lot of foliage in my yard, except for several tall silver maples and pine trees...they don't provide a lot of coverage for birds, though.

One feeder is hanging outside my window. There are several trees close by, and one small bush right under it for added hiding spots. The other is in a bad spot, hanging from a maple tree (these are 40-50' trees, so their leafy branches are up high), with no hiding spots.

How can I convince the birds to come visit? Are they just missing the feeders? What the heck am I doing wrong?

The feeders have been out for two weeks now, am I just being impatient?

Help, I need to have data for Project FeederWatch and cannot do so without some birds to watch!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What No Kill Means to the Dogs of St. Louis

It means they aren't dead!

There is an emerging trend, albeit not a new one, for non-profit agencies to take over control or contract with government run animal control agencies. Some take over completely, meaning they use donations/grants from the public and grantmakers to run an animal control agency in lieu of taxpayer dollars. Some take over adoptions or the running of a shelter while animal control officers are paid via tax-payers funds to enforce laws.  I have mixed feelings on this, but that's not what this post is about.

The city of St. Louis used to kill more than half of all dogs entering their shelter. Those are horrible odds. In 2009, that meant 1,033 dogs were unceremoniously killed. In July of this year, a nonprofit, Stray Rescue, took over adoptions at the shelter.

And since then, they've killed three dogs - two for medical reasons, one for extreme aggression.

Last year, the city adopted out a grand total of 300 dogs.

Since the nonprofit took over - they've adopted out 120 dogs a month.

Amazing what a bit of ingenuity, well-managed funds and tenacity can mean for dogs.

So what does that mean for the dogs?

This is Sam. He is 8-yrs-old which, for a large-breed dog, like a Rottweiler, is getting up in the years.

Can you believe if he'd arrived six months ago, he'd already be dead? Wrong!! Now he rocks a green bandana and is looking for a retirement home where he'll be given butt massages and also be told how awesomely uneven his ears are - perfection!

Carlos here is a 3-yr-old mush-head. He would have been killed because he's a Pit Bull mix with an ugly, painful ear cropping. Oh, and he was scared of the world. Being afraid is often a reason why dogs are killed.

Now he's looking for his permanent digs where he can wag his butt at you and opine on the state of the world, like why do cats watch birds on tv, are they stupid or something? Stuff like that.

Brinx is a 4-yr-old mixed breed who has taken the WOE IS ME look to a whole new level, maybe the zenith of woeness.

Brinx would have been killed because she was sick and skinny when she arrived and her two puppies probably would have been killed too.

Now she gets to manipulate bipeds the world over with her sad doe-eyes and unusually large ears.

For these three dogs, no kill means BEING ALIVE. Such a simple pleasure, this being alive business. Not only that, but these three dogs will never be snuffed out because of space or treatable illnesses or because they are a bit shy. They, like all dogs entering this new shelter, will be evaluated as individuals, treated when it is reasonable and feasible to do so, and trained to be functioning members of human society. Most of these dogs are in foster homes and those that aren't receive extensive attention in the form of volunteers and trainers.

We should let dogs decide if they can handle a kennel environment before we cry "u r being mean", before we take a dog's life. That's permanent shit and it should damn well be avoided until all hope is lost. We don't need to "warehouse" dogs to provide them long-term care, and we don't need to create fear when none need exist.

Because these three dogs are alive. ALIVE! Six months ago, they wouldn't have stood a chance, but now they do. And that's what no kill means to the dogs of St. Louis. What it can mean for all dogs.

Please Do Not Pick Up Snakes

On Pit Bulls and Parolees a parolee tried to grab a snake thinking he was a gopher snake. You never do this unless you know the snake is a gopher snake. Assume the snake is a rattler, until proven otherwise.

It is not hard to discern a rattlesnake from a gopher snake if you are familiar with both species. Most people are not. I've only had the privilege of learning the difference because I worked in a high-snake area for several years. We would catch and release between 15-30 rattlesnakes a year.

Gopher snakes are constrictors, that's how they kill their prey. I've personally experienced their strength when I was forced to hand-catch a 4' gopher stuck behind the chicken's hose. When I pulled him out, he wrapped himself snugly around my arm, requiring another staff member to prise him off so we could place him elsewhere. Not generally how I handle snakes (which is to say, I avoid it).

Gopher snakes act like rattlesnakes, though. This gets them killed. People are afraid of rattlesnakes and instead of respecting them as integral aspects of a healthy bio-system, they kill them. I find this unfortunate. Gopher snakes are killed because they coil up like a rattlesnake and rattle like them too. Some of the more aggressive gophers will strike. It's a good predator deterrent, except in the case of humans.

You can see the difference between gophers and rattlers here.

Gophers have very narrow heads, while rattlers have broad, triangular shaped heads. The safest way to tell them apart is to just leave them alone. :)

Rattlesnakes will avoid biting you for as long as they can. Most want nothing to do with you - it's us who seem hell-bent on wanting something to do with them. Like gophers, they have a key role to play in their environment. Yes, it is important to remove them from the vicinity of animals, for the safety of the snakes, you and your companion animals. Call a professional who does not kill the snakes or consider learning how to safely catch and release a snake from an expert.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

This story will make you cry, if not, you are not human! Last year, a 15-yr-old boy died during a four-wheeling accident.The dog he rescued after a car accident three years prior is lost in grief, often visiting "her boy's" grave. Sad.

Whale sharks are MATHEMATICIANS

OMG, people are so stupid cruel - rabbits should not be abandoned in recycling bins out in snowy weather. Rabbit handling for the fail. Luckily, the rabbit was found by a family who was all RABBIT YOU ARE CUTE AND NOT RECYCLABLE, and saved her. The rabbit is currently in the lagamorph witness protection program.

Otters are going insane in Miami. Just kidding, they're just getting tired of idiots who think otters are ZOMG SO CUTE. Witness this child of dubious intelligence who decided to chase after an otter to film him, then screamed like a banshee when the otter got tired of swimming lazily in the pond, got out and bit the him.

Dogs have bigger brains because they are more AWESOME than cats. Or more social. Whatevs.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day to the Turkeys

Margaret is a turkey with 'tude and who is grateful in her own avian way to be alive.

I'm celebrating Thanksgiving today with 20 friends and not one ounce of turkey or any other animal product at part of the meal. A vegan Thanksgiving FOR the turkeys!

I do hope your day is full of good company and gratitude.

Margaret Turkey is Cool

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Missed the First Snow

I grew up in the Bay Area which means the most snow I ever saw was the one time in college in which an 1/8th of an inch of the white stuff fell on the ground. We called it a Snow Day and didn't attend classes, that's how un-snow-like I am. I did go to Tahoe once when I was eight but we nearly plowed off a 5,000 ft cliff and I haven't been back since in the winter.

Now I live near the 3,000 ft level in the Sierra Foothills. It's not like we get a lot of snow, maybe a foot per year, but still that's a lot more than I'm used to.

This weekend, I was visiting my parents back down in the Bay Area.

And at home, the weekend storm dropped snow and tree branches in my yard.

For those of you living in colder climates, you don't get to make fun of me. At least not on my blog. ;)

This 30' branch from the adjacent maple tree decided to take out a part of the fence and land in my neighbor's yard. In fact, every single one of my maple trees revolted and each shed a branch - three of the seven even made it into my yard, the rest in my neighbor's. And yes, I will be cleaning it up.

This is all the snow left from the storm, on my roof.

I'm kind of glad to have missed the storm - it knocked over my bird feeder that still hasn't attracted any birds and cracked it. Damn you storm.

Still, I would have liked to been there for the first snow of the season. There will be more, which I will complain about in an epic manner, you have been warned.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Avoid Irrational Fear, Peoples

In Margaret Atwood's dystopic novel The Handmaid's Tale, a conservative extremist group creates a culture of fear that leads to a totalitarian state. When what seem like minor "rights" are removed, few complain. It's in the name of nationalism, of protecting a broken society. The stripping away of rights and privileges adds up, though, until no one is really free anymore.

I'm not saying that is exactly what's happening in the United States. I don't think we'll see women  unable to open bank accounts or "handmaids" raped trying to populate a dwindling population.

But every time we accept the stripping of rights as a "necessary protection" against terrorism or some other irrational (or unavoidable) fear, we move ourselves closer to that dystopia. When we do it without protest or voicing our opinions, we enable those in charge to keep going like its normal and okay.

Which is why I support the elimination of full body scans at airports and the cessation of "enhanced pat downs", which in any other circumstance, would be considered aggravated assault.

The Business Travel Coalition has this to say:
"The deployment of full-body scanners without a formal public comment process and sufficient medical and scientific vetting is one of the worst TSA abuses of authority since its creation," stated BTC Chairman Kevin Mitchell.
"The overly aggressive pat-downs represent citizen-mistreatment in the extreme, especially if used as 'punishment' when passengers opt out of full-body scans," he added.
Safety is important, no one is arguing against being safe. Are nearly pornographic body scans and physical assaults the way to improve it? While it's certainly my opinion that they are not, the TSA didn't even bother to ask, skipping out on public comments and input from professionals and experts.

If you want more information on the national opt-out day, check out

And the problems with scanners, pat downs and opting out?
TSA pat-down leaves man covered in urine when agents "accidentally" rips out the seal on his urostomy bag; Breast cancer survivor and flight attendant forced to remove prosthetic breast; A portend for things to come, a 2002 case strikingly similar to the current horror stories emerging;  Rape survivor devastated during public enhanced pat down; Woman not told the details of the enhanced pat down, traumatized when TSA agent touches her breasts and vagina; Woman inappropriately groped twice at airport because of "billowy" skirt; Boston Globe columnist's superb piece on his groping experience that left him traumatized; Another woman is groped because of her skirt; A young boy is strip-searched; A man recently recovering from invasive surgery is left feeling further traumatized after three invasive enhanced pat downs...the list goes on. 

This is not freedom. This is not creating a safer America. This is criminalizing us, law-abiding citizens for daring to pay money, take off shoes, wait in line and eat crappy food. Thanks a lot, government. I'm sure the 80-yr-old with the fudge is a serious threat to national security.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

A little dog with giant bat ears pressed a medic-alert button multiple times, which saved his owner from dying of an asthma attack.

A combat veteran suffering from crippling depression is now getting his dog back, the therapy a doctor prescribed for his depression. The dog was accused of nipping the guardian's neighbor and was going to be killed because the veteran couldn't afford it. But donations poured in and now the man has his dog back.

Nearly 40 dogs confiscated from a property in which a young boy was killed by a chained dog were killed by their rescuers, even though they did not participate in the attack and many were friendly. Authorities killed the dogs after 72 hours because some of them - get this - had ear mites.

A woman is fighting for her son's right to have a seizure-alert dog present at his school. The child suffers from epilepsy and also has autism. His service dog helps calm him and can alert when a seizure is about to happen. Apparently the Collier County School District hates seizure-alert dogs.

Seven Pit Bulls were rescued from a Baltimore dog fighting operation and are now recovering at the humane society. The shelter is hoping some will be redeemed and adopted out once custody is granted to the shelter.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Coat for a Cow

Sadie is an older bovine at the sanctuary. She is arthritic, especially in her back left leg, which was damaged when UC Davis students loaded her improperly into a chute. Her stifle fractured and we were unsure if she'd ever be able to recover - she was already 5-7 years old, and a leg injury is far more devastating for a 1,200 lb animals than even a 100 lb one. But she  recovered, and although she walks with a permanent limp, she keeps up with the rest of the cattle.

As she gets closer to 13, the wear and tear of that damaged leg has taken its toll. A lot of her energy reserves go toward accommodating that awkward leg and gait. She is much more slender than any of the other cattle, including other former dairy cows. While she'll never be as robust as Howie, the charolais, or Tommy, the angus, she is more underweight than we like to see. So she gets a large daily ration of sweet grain, and she's already foraging on rich clover and other grasses.

But she didn't develop the nice thick coat cows grow for winter. She is a little fuzzier but not more more so than her summer sheen. She has no fat pads to speak of, unlike the rest of the herd. And where we are, it's getting down into the 30s in the evening and will probably be colder as winter progresses.

So we got her a coat. A blanket made for horses. It's not heavyweight, we don't want to overheat her rumen or her, but it's waterproof and provides enough warmth for a skinny cow.

Sadie is not a social cow. She hasn't ever really gotten over her treatment on the dairy farm - she was tail-docked without anesthesia at a year of age (imagine putting a rubber band on the tail of a 2-yr-old dog) and she suffered from untreated mastitis, a painful udder infection. It's taken her time to adjust to us, but slowly she's come to the point where one or two of us can go out and pet her, give her massages.

I wasn't sure how she'd react to the coat, so I started slow. Every time animal care staff went out to give her grain, I'd tag along with the large blanket. I let her sniff her and then just started massaging her wounded leg and hip, something she loves for us to do. After a few days, I started rubbing the blanket against her. And a couple days ago, I draped it over her body. For her, this blanket came with food and probably felt warm and comfortable. She didn't balk or freak out over the blanket. Today, she is wearing it like a pro. She will be monitored, of course, to make sure her range of motion is not limited with the straps - cattle and horses are not built the same and what may accommodate the movement of a horse may not with a cow.

Plus, she just looks adorable

Sadie Showing off her New Coat

Horse Coats Not Just For Horses!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

RCMP: Oops, But We're Not Sorry

You're out running errands and decide to return home with your bag of legally purchased loot. Upon arrival, you notice a bunch of dudes in your backyard looking all official like. You wonder to yourself, self, what is going on in my backyard? So you approach the backyard that is owned by you and suddenly find yourself flat on the ground with a dog dangling off your shoulder. Ouch, right? You're like, what did I steal that pack of peppered tofurky deli slices? Was my soy milk actually not on sale? WHAT THE HECK, RCMP?

No, you were just in your backyard and accused of a crime that didn't occur. Heck, you're one of FOUR people wrongly arrested for a crime that never happened.

And if you are Jared Shram, you don't even get an apology. Your mauling by an aggressive police dog, even though you had complied with officers' requests to lay on the ground, that was just "regrettable".

This isn't a story about a police dog "wrongly attacking" someone. It's about an entire police force wrongly arresting four innocent individuals for a magically disappearing crime and not saying DUDES, WE ARE SORRY. Is that hard to do, apologize?

Shram is filing a complaint. We can only hope the RCMP get their act together and issue a formal apology to the four wrongly arrested people. Which won't help with the damage done by the errant police dog or the loss of faith in the justice system (WAS THERE FAITH?) but it would be something.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Either This Picture Is Wrong of Someone Needs a Lesson on Breed ID

The caption of this article indicates these are two dogs responsible for attacks.

They are labeled as a Rottweiler and a Bull-mastiff. I do not believe anyone familiar with Rottweilers and Bull Mastiffs would label either dog as such.

But perhaps the picture caption is wrong and these are just a pair of unknown dogs.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Heroic War Dog 'Accidentally' Killed at Arizona Shelter

In July of this year, seven dogs made their way from Afghanistan to the United States. Target and Rufus were two of three dogs who stopped a suicide bomber from completing his mission at an American base in Afghanistan. The third dog, Sasha, perished in the bombing but saved the lives of countless humans and other dogs.

Target survived a war, a suicide bomber, and a long airplane ride to the states. She survived a pregnancy and  even survived Oprah!

But she couldn't survive our animal shelter system.

Monday, November 15, 2010

She Picked Me!

Every evening after work, Celeste and I traipse through 600-acres owned by the sanctuary where I work. Life is bigger here in the Sierra Foothills. Trees are 50-100' tall, not the tallest, but no small saplings. Coyotes weigh up to 50 lbs, highly unusual. Mountain lions are fat and healthy, and the black bear are too. Deer are big with a lot of healthy, older males. Even the turkeys are larger than the wild turkey I'm used to seeing.

Celeste believes this is paradise. Watching her on our walks and jogs reminds me she is a predator. She spends the entire time pouncing and leaping, trying her best to "hunt". Channeling her inner wolf or, as I call it, her inner dingo, Celeste lets loose completely off-leash and free. I love watching her. Love.

She has chased a couple deer. While I don't mind keeping the protective fear alive in the deer, I am cognizant of the very real threat Celeste poses to the deer and the deer to her. When she notices I'm not partaking of the cave-dog chase, Celeste pounds back to me, a deranged and happy grin on her face. It's as if she wants to ask why am I not helping her out?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Neighbor's Dogs Are More Annoying Than Mine

My neighbor has two Jack Russell Terriers who LOVE to fence-fight. They're absolutely serious about it too.

Celeste barks a bit but is really more confused with their behavior than anything.

Mina is a terrier too, so she is pretty firm in her belief that fence-fighting is a dog-given right.

But she has met her match with these two dogs. They are dedicated, obnoxious, and serious. Mina isn't really serious. If the two dogs made their way to my yard, the worst thing that would happen is Mina would paw them. She generally doesn't eat invading dogs. I can't say the same for these two terriers. I'm pretty sure they want to rip Mina's throat out.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rosie Shot Multiple Times By Des Moines, WA Cops

On November 7th, Rosie - a 2-yr-old Newfoundland - got out of her backyard. While she was microchipped, she was not wearing a collar. Someone saw her running loose and called authorities. They probably regret bothering with police.

When police arrived, everything they did was a message of "fear me" to Rosie. They chased her - she ran away. When they wouldn't leave her alone, she barked. That was the extent of her aggression. When they tried to snare her with a catch-pole, she escaped and ran again. When they tasered her, she probably yelped and ran away yet again. At no point did she charge at officers. At no point did she try to bite or attack officers. She ran away and barked.

Police cornered her in a backyard. Any reasonable person might suggest backing off and closing the gate. The dog is safely confined, she no longer poses the HORRIFIC threat of being barked at to death. Explain the situation to the home-owner. Give the dog some time, try to see if her behavior changes with time to calm. Net her, catch pole her if you have to. The world will not end if police give this dog a few minutes to calm down.

Instead, they shot her four times and killed her. Remember, the only two behaviors Rosie expressed were to run away and bark. (And as an aside, clearly the officers made Rosie A LOT bigger than she actually was by labeling her a 200 lb behemoth, even though she only weighed 120 lbs).

There will be a vigil tomorrow in her memory.

The Seattle Humane Society is condemning the shooting and encouraging Des Moines authorities to fully investigate it and also modify the way they handle loose, non-aggressive dogs.

Around the Intarwebs

Ontario's stupid BSL law strikes again! A dog is on death row for an attack she did not start. She was attacked, while muzzled AND leashed, by another unleashed dog. The dog attacked so hard that s/he ripped off the muzzle. As both owners were separating the dogs, the attacking dog's owner was bitten by one of the dogs. Now the leashed, muzzled, didn't start it dog is on death row because she is a Pit Bull. Lame! Calgary is offering to take Ginger, because Calgary is not made of the stupid.

A few Pit Bulls rescued from a "drug bust" are learning how to be pets in Pittsburgh, including one chunky boy named Ferdinand the Bull.

Spay/neuter clinic celebrates its 20,000th spay!

Panic ensues when a dog runs around! This is news because the dog is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. It is such epic news that more than 400 words are dedicated to the story. Nothing happened, by the way. The dog literally just ran around. No biting, no scratching (he did jump enthusiastically on some kids). Yes, frightening experience for kids unfamiliar or scared of dogs but not news.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Please Show Common Sense

I'm in the parking lot of a grocery store with Mina in the front seat, window rolled down a smidgen. I'm not going in the store but picking up an order from a natural foods distributor. A guy approaches and notifies me that Mina wants to drive. This is a lifelong dream of hers. He then proceeds to stick his hand in the car. I'm like, woah there buddy. To which he replies, is she friendly? Well dude, ask that before you go sticking your fingers in her face. I feel progress has yet to be made re sensible thinking with dogs. DO NOT STICK YOUR HAND IN A WINDOW WITH AN UNKNOWN DOG!

Mina doesn't eat hands, so far as I know (if she does, she keeps it a secret), so she was super stoked to get a head-rubbing. But geeze, what if she was a man-eating she-beast from the depths of slor?

Then he asks if Mina is six months old. Mina is impressed with this and nods her head in agreement. But I ruin it by telling the truth about her 12-dom status. He is duly impressed. Mina is horrified.

Anyways, always ask before petting someone else's dog. Probably avoid petting dogs in cars, they are sometimes jerks in their vehicle (due to the fact that NO ONE lets them drive EVAR and they have now developed a complex). Dogs who head bump you as you exit your vehicle may be excepted if they are stupid and friendly, as happened to me yesterday in the parking lot.