Monday, March 28, 2011

Never Before Seen Evidence of Celeste Play-bowing to Chloe

Celeste and Chloe went on an off-leash hike at the sanctuary. Celeste is beautiful off-leash and generally tolerant of other dogs, although she can be a pill.

Much fun was had, including this never-before-seen photograph of Celeste actually play-bowing a dog other than Mina. Amazingness. The play-bow was actually deeper, but this was the only shot I got. Then they bounded off and chased each other. Everything is great when she is in motion, it's only when she stops that Celeste finds other dogs intolerable. :)

Mina Must Put Up With a Lot From the Puppy

Chloe Loves Mina. Mina does not feel the same way, but because Chloe is a puppy and Mina feels it is her Dog-ly duty to be nice to puppies, Mina puts up with a lot of crap from Chloe. Mina loved Sherman. They would spend endless moments cavorting together. Mina avidly avoids Chloe and when she is forced in close proximity, Mina will do her best to pretend Chloe is not actually there.

Even when Chloe is inside Mina's mouth.

This is how it starts. Chloe tries to get Mina to play by, OBVIOUSLY, biting her in the face.
 Mina responds by looking away and ignoring the puppy.
 This does not stop Chloe, who then wheedles her way into Mina's mouth.
 Mission accomplished, Chloe is pleased while Mina has given up, maybe on life, I dunno.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Why Won't Omaha Be Consistent?

Dear Omaha,

Now that Labrador Retrievers have taken over as the top human-eater in your town for two years in a row, are you planning on muzzling them?

I mean, that would only be logical, amirite? Like how you required Pit Bulls (defined as any dog you think looks strange) in 2009 to be muzzled, harnessed and their owners to have lots of insurance?

You can do the same with Labrador Retrievers!

Here is my proposed law to match your Pit Bull law. It should be easy to codify, since you already have language on the books. Just replace Pit Bull with Labrador Retriever and define Labrador Retriever in the same way you do Pit Bulls.

First, modify Section 6-163. to include TWO sections 6-163a. for the Pit Bulls and 6-163b. for the Labs.

Sec. 6-163.  Labrador Retrievers --Leash and muzzle required.
It shall be unlawful for any person owning, harboring or having the care of a labrador retriever to permit such animal to be outdoors unless confined in a securely fenced yard or unless the animal is under the control of a person 19 years of age or older, restrained securely by a harness and leash no longer than six feet and properly muzzled to reasonably prevent the animal from biting, provided that the harness and muzzle requirements apply only to those retrievers six months of age or older.
For purposes of this section, labrador retriever shall be defined as any dog that is a Labrador Retriever, Flat-coated Retriever, Golden Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Curly-Coated Retriever, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of the above breeds (more so than any other breed), or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of the above breeds. The A.K.C. and U.K.C. standards for the above breeds are on file in the office of the animal control authority.
Provided that a retriever which is a participant in an organized dog event approved by the authority shall not be required to be leashed and muzzled while outdoors and being shown or otherwise actively competing in such event.
(Ord. No. 38257, § 17, 9-30-08; Ord. No. 38867, § 2, 11-2-10)

You will see a magical reduction in Labrador Retriever bites almost immediately. And then whichever breed takes over the number one spot, well you can muzzle them too!!


Mina is a Genius

No duh, right? 
Mina goes to work with me, and several times a week I get coffee before driving to the sanctuary. On one occasion, Mina - who usually sits in the back - poked her head up front while I was paying for coffee, and discovered my breakfast bagel in my purse. She ate it, of course. I came back out and she was sitting in the driver's seat looking concerned. I thought she had hurt herself or missed me or had gotten annoyed with a dog she saw, so I fussed over her. Then I saw the wrapper and the crumbs and a piece of bagel stuck to Mina's chin.

You ate my bagel.
Don't be so stupid to leave it where I could get it.
But that was my breakfast!
Well now it's mine.

Clearly she was concerned about something other than breakfast thievery.

Since that one incident, she has made it her mission in life to find anything edible in the front seat, but only when I'm not in the car. Our routine now is that I lock my food in the glove compartment, and Mina tears a tissue or paper up in frustration. Probably to piss me off (truth). She is smug about it too.

But I did not think she would want anything to do with an entire container of Tofutti's vegan cream cheese. So I stuffed it in my purse and didn't think twice. Stupid, I know.

I come back out to her IN THE ACT, and she's like What? 

Mina, though, is a polite, neat thief. She had gently removed the top of the cream cheese and was licking it out. When I came upon the scene, she even went so far as to nose the top BACK onto the cream cheese. Like I wouldn't notice what with the cream cheese on her nose and her peanut-butter-style licking. 

I guess it's not so much that Mina is a genius (Celeste doesn't do it, because she is not evil) and more that I'm an idiot when it comes to food. This is a new thing too. For the past nine years, I could have left anything in the front seat and Mina wouldn't have touched it. But now that Mina is entering her thirteenth year, she says screw it! and is going to do whatever the hell she wants.

Maybe I just need to get a lock-box. I will call authorities if she picks it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I grow more and more attached to Chloe each day. She is so much softer than Sherman. Her teeth and claws aren't, of course, but her personality is a vegan buttercream frosting.

Sherman was an adorbs puppy with a big, doofy personality. But for whatever reason, I did not bond with him like I have with Chloe. And I wanted him out, out, out so much more than I do with Chloe. We have our routine, us four ladies, and it works for everyone - even Celeste.

Starting next week, when there aren't fat snowflakes ruining my life outside, I'm going to take Celeste and Chloe to the sanctuary and let them run free. Maybe they'll even bond. Probably not, but at the very least Celeste will associate Chloe with a fun event, off leash time.

Chloe when it is not snowing
Chloe goes well with grass


Chloe is available for adoption through A New Hope Animal Foundation

Confiscation Should Be Last Resort

I work at a nonprofit sanctuary for farmed animals. We get calls on a regular basis about cruelty or neglect to farmed animals. Sometimes we can go out to the farms or homes ourselves and just observe the animals - more often than not, they are not being neglected. Sometimes they are, and we will do our best to help those animals. In the first few years at the sanctuary, as the point person for these calls, my initial inclination was always to call animal control. Call authorities. Document the neglect, abuse, whatever, and pass it along. It's always been a punitive response to, in most cases, an unknown situation.

Now certainly there are situations in which intervention from authorities is absolutely necessary. Cases of extreme cruelty and neglect warrant confiscation of animals and possible criminalization of their guardians. Allowing an animal to slowly starve to death is a cruel fate and should be punishable.

But! In recent years, I have changed my tune. Part of my change comes from the reality that faces farmed animals confiscated from cruelty cases. There have been cases in which "rescued" animals were subsequently slaughtered or sent to auction for the shelter's profit. How can we be a humane society when we rescue animals and then literally slaughter them. Sometimes I thought the animals were better left at their previous location where they may not have thrived, but they would have survived alive in acceptable conditions. And sometimes the animals were humanely killed, although they were healthy and otherwise adoptable.

This did not sit well with me. We could not take in all the animals we tried to help, of course. And while we work tirelessly to place needy farmed animals into permanent homes, a neglected solution wheedled its way into my head. Why not work to keep the animals IN their homes? In the absence of neglect or cruelty, many people who call us about their unwanted farmed animals are just overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. Some are moving or being evicted, and for them, we network to find homes for animals.

A couple months ago, a woman emailed me about her friend. The friend had a lot of farmed animals on a small plot of land. There were goats, pigs and horses. The horses were in a lot of muck and mud. The goats were inbreeding and, in one case, a goat had retained a dead fetus and was slowly expelling it. The pigs were inbreeding and starting to become a problem, population-wise. It was a clear case of a person with too many animals, not enough money, and too little land to properly house them.

So I asked the woman who emailed me if she thought her friend was cruelly neglecting the animals or if she normally provided good care for the animals, and was "merely" overwhelmed by the sheer volume of animals. The return email indicated the latter.

Instead of encouraging her to contact authorities to remove some of the animals, I offered some suggestions. Find out if some friends were willing to go out and clean up the horses' stall and pasture. I offered referrals to vets who might be willing to come out and castrate some of the goats and pigs, to prevent future breeding. And we offered to assist in rehoming animals, if necessary. Since the woman was having a hard time selling the offspring, I suggested friends come out and build an extra enclosure to keep the males and females separate...and I discouraged breeding animals for profit, of course!

I didn't hear from her and, with everything else going on, ended up forgetting about the situation. But recently, the woman emailed me with an update. All those suggestions? They worked! The horses' stalls were cleaned up - no more mud to get stuck in. The baby goats were castrated (and while I oppose banded castrations, in these types of situations the pros outweighed the cons) by a vet who came out. Friends came out and built a separate enclosure for the adult male goats. While not everything was done that I wanted to see done, so many victories were achieved that made life much better for a lot of animals. It turns out the woman really cared about her animals, doing her best to make sure they were fed - sometimes to her culinary detriment - but the economic times made things tough.

But in the end, keeping those animals in that woman's care was the right thing for everyone. No messy court cases. No depressing interventions. No animals on their way to the auction yard and slaughter. No over-running a small shelter with a large "neglect" case.

So if it can be done with simple solutions for 50-60 farmed animals on one woman's property, I have great faith it can be done for individual dogs and cats. There are certainly times when confiscation is the best for the animals, but there are times when it is not. And there are times when dropping an animal off at a shelter is in the best interest of the animal and times when it can be avoided. Offering reasonable solutions to what may seem like insurmountable problems can mean the difference between life and death. Keeping dogs and cats in their current homes with a little verbal or small financial assistance can avoid the burden of sheltering that dog or cat, caring for that dog or cat, and trying to find a home for that dog or means fewer dogs and cats entering the shelter system. It means fewer dead animals. That is a good thing.

How Lives Are Saved

Imagine your home is on fire. You have eight dogs inside, most of whom have been rescued from horrible situations and are either your beloved permanent companions or your sweet foster dogs. You scream for them to run out the back door - only one does. It's too dangerous to brave the home yourself, and you are overjoyed when firefighters arrive to start dousing the flames.

If you are unlucky, maybe you get a firefighting team that wants to put out the fire first, before considering entering and getting the dogs. Or maybe you are lucky and your firefighting team cares a lot about dogs and enters the building to pull out all the dogs. But you are luckiest if you live in Gainseville, Florida where not only do your firefighters immediately access your home to rescue your dogs, but they have pet oxygen masks to revive the dogs.

That's what happened to Chris Carney, who fosters and rescues dogs.

Firefighters pulled all seven dogs from the burning home. One dog tragically died on-site, but the other six survived thanks to the availability of dog-specific oxygen masks. As you can see, one of those dogs was a Pit Bull type dog, another was a Boxer, three Retrievers, and a few muttskies. One of the Labs is still at the vet, but the others have all been released.

And how is it that all ten fire stations in Gainseville, Florida have these pet oxygen masks?

It's thanks to Don Taylor of Invisible Fence of Gainseville who donated $600 worth of oxygen masks to the stations as part of its program Project Breath, which works to get firefighters pet oxygen masks that are specifically designed for dogs and cats. And no matter how I personally feel about invisible fences, this company's efforts have saved lives. They are even offering to donate an invisible fence to anyone who adopts one of the rescued dogs.

See how easy it can be to save lives? Imagine if every proprietor of a pet supply store, veterinary office, grooming office, invisible fence or regular pet fence company decided to do what Don Taylor did and donate pet oxygen masks to their local fire house. It would be easy to generate local publicity, boost sales, work with the community and make the world a little safer for dogs and cats who might suffer from smoke inhalation.

The same can be true of getting dogs and cats into new homes. Heck, animal shelters could tie it into this program. Shelters could have a fire prevention awareness week in which they have a catchy gimmick or slogan. Animals at the shelter would have a reduced adoption fee and adopters would be told that if they paid the standard adoption fee, that extra would go towards buying pet oxygen masks for their local fire station so that if they are ever in the same situation as Chris Carney, their firefighters have tools necessary to revive unconscious pets. Good publicity for the shelter, more adoptions, and a ripple effect that will last years. Win-wins, we love them!

Pinellas Animal Control Should Probably Change More Than Just Their Website

A woman in Pinellas County, Florida needed to find a safe haven for her dog, Sunny. The dog was not allowed where his guardian lived. Now I firmly believe the woman should have contacted boarding facilities in the area and paid for a 2-day stay in lieu of what she did - took him to Pinellas Animal Services.

However, what she was told and what was stated on the organization's website led the woman to believe Sunny would be safe at the shelter for seven days.

""Surrendered or lost animals will be held for seven days for animal with ID, four days without ID, to give owners a chance to claim their animal. After the holding period of seven days, the animal will be evaluated for temperament and adoptability."

Instead, Sunny was killed within hours of arrival at the shelter because the dog was deemed aggressive. Nevermind that Sunny was in an extremely new and scary environment, and nevermind that most trainers worth their salt would NEVER try to ascertain the temperament of a dog who JUST arrived at a shelter. Yes, shelter workers should take safety precautions, but I know of too many shelters who have to handle aggressive court-case dogs and somehow manage to do so without killing the dog or getting themselves killed. A week of care to see how the dog adjusts is not asking much.

The woman, understandably, is upset that her dog was killed, as she had arrived 24-hours later to pick the dog back up and rehome him.

And yes, there is a fair argument that the woman should not have used the shelter as a boarding facility without finding out if that was even an option. But I think it is important to remind ourselves that human failures should not result in the potentially needless death of a living, feeling being. Sunny, through no fault of his own, had a right to live, and it is HIS life that was taken because of human failure (and I include both guardian and shelter in this regard). It is unfortunate he was not only failed by his current guardian but by an institution that is supposed to be the saving grace of unwanted animals. A shelter should be a place where animals go to find new homes, not a place to die.

The shelter decided to change the language on their website:

"There is no guaranteed holding period for an animal that is surrendered by its owner, or surrendered by the owner's designated agent. Animal Services Veterinary staff will thoroughly examine the animal(s) as soon as deemed possible for two very important things; health and temperament."

Which does not negate that there WAS a guaranteed holding period when Sunny was taken in and that the shelter did violate their own rule in this regard.

Pinellas Animal Services could do better. Sunny is merely a symptom of a broken system. This particular animal shelter has been unable to reduce its kill rate since 1996. In 2010, they killed 61% of the animals who entered their shelter system. They have not succeeded in increasing their redemption rates, either. In fact, owners reclaimed fewer animals in 2010 than in 1996. At the very least, their adoption rate has increased to a piddly 27%.

I hope Pinellas Animal Services does more than just change the language on their website. I hope they find creative ways to improve their adoption rate and, more importantly, STOP animals from entering their shelter system to begin with - starting by trying to convince current dog owners to keep dogs they may want to drop off at the shelter. A smidgen of effort can go a long way and prevent needless tragedies, like Sunny's death.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Grey Catbirds and Predation

According to a recent news article, roaming cats kill up to a billion birds a year. The article then cites a recent study involving Grey Catbirds and predation. In my opinion, the article does a better job of interpreting the data and other related data on cats versus wildlife than other stories. But whenever I read a story that cites a study, I always find it a pleasurable and fun experience to read the study myself, if possible. Thankfully, this study is free and available for all to read.

The Gray Catbird
This medium sized relative of the mockingbird enjoys cavorting amongst dense shrubbery and generally at ground level. They make a cat-like sound, hence their name. When they build nests, it takes about a week, and they are generally built 3-5' off the ground. Their behavior when threatened is different than, say, blackbirds who enjoy dive-bombing anyone who gets near their nests. Gray Catbirds, when threatened, hop on the ground and sometimes aggressively approach the predator.

The Nest Sites
The researchers studied three nest sites in suburbs of Washington D.C. Two sites, Opal Park and Spring Park were located in Takoma, Maryland. Another site was in Bethesda, Maryland.

The Predators
Researchers fully admit there are drawbacks to how they determined the type of predators. Predators were observed during a specific time frame during the morning on roads abutting the different nest sites. Nocturnal or more hidden predators therefore would be unaccounted for. They make reasonable assumptions about the kill style of the predators.

The predators they observed include: Gray Squirrels, Chipmunks, Domestic Cats, and American Crows. Predators that would, by their behavior, be difficult to observe include: Snakes, Owls, Rats.

The researchers make presumptions about density based on previous information, as they were unable to determined species-specific predator densities at each site.

The Study Goals
Researchers asked two questions: How do the nest and post-fledging survival rate differ in a suburban environment and how do intrinsic (sex/brood size) and extrinsic (predators) affect survival probabilities.

The Results
Researchers studied 68 nest sites for 791 days. Intrinsic factors did not affect survivability in this particular study (but authors note it has in others).

61% of individuals died before reaching maturity. Of that 61%, 79% were killed by predators. And of that, 47% were killed by domestic cats.

There were eight directly observed kills, almost all committed by cats. Eleven were presumed to be committed by specific species as determined by how the bodies were found. Fourteen of the predator deaths could not be attributed to a particular animal. Two birds died for unknown reasons, two were killed because of weather-related factors, two died during window strikes and three were found without obvious symptoms.

Gray Squirrels were most prevalent at two of the sites as were cats. Crows, jays and raptors are common nest predators, but they were not responsible for statistically more deaths. However, researchers note that the presence of Gray Squirrels and domestic cats were correlated with lower survivability. Researchers note that cryptic (rats) or nocturnal predators could not be reasonably accounted for and may also pose statistically significant threat to Gray Catbird juvenile survivability.

The researchers believe this study suggests domestic cats have a disproportionate impact on the survivability of Gray Catbirds.

The Possible Drawbacks
What is great when you can read peer-reviewed journal articles in their entirety is that each article includes a Discussion section, which highlights some of the possible concerns or drawbacks of the study.

One drawback is the small sample size.

The authors in this piece offer two possibilities in regards to cats. One is that we assume the effects of cats on Gray Catbirds is additive in nature and thus cats pose a significant threat to the population of the birds. The other is that cats fill in the role of absent predators and perform the same function, weeding out weaker individuals who might have survived without predators. They suggest future research on that issue.

They specifically acknowledge that this data is correlative, not causative. That is a big deal in science. Correlation describes the relationship between two things. Sometimes it is coincidental, sometimes the correlation is mildly strong, and sometimes it is strong enough to suggest a causality - that is the presence of one "thing" results in the presence of another. In this scenario, it is acceptable to suggest there is a correlation between the presence of cats and a lower survivability of post-fledging Gray Catbirds. It is not acceptable to state that cats cause lower survivability. As mentioned above, cats may be filling a niche that is necessary in an ecological sense. They could also be putting negative pressure on the local Gray Catbird population. Other predators may be causing higher death rates but the scope of this study prohibited learning that.

My guess is this study might be used, like those before it, as anti-cat propaganda. It is my belief all companion cats should be indoor-only with supervised outdoor access for lots of reasons. The issue of feral cats is contentious and complex, and not one I plan on addressing here (or probably ever). But I do believe this study highlights the need to try really hard and objectively analyze the data presented. It is in the best interest of the non humans to do so.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kill Shelter Fail, Enabled by its Supporters

In December of 2010, Hannah Saunders found a stray puppy and took him in. Now, by any reasonable standards, her efforts at saving the dog ended there and no one should have judged her poorly for turning the dog over to a shelter. After all, an animal shelter is supposed to be a safe haven in which displaced animals can be rehomed. But despite her apartment's strict no-dog policy Saunders took the dog to a vet, checked for a microchip, put up fliers and ads in craigslist, and called the shelters and rescues she could find. After weeks of no luck, she relinquished the stray dog to Indianapolis Animal Care and Control.

Saunders kept in touch with the shelter, offering to take the 8-mos-old puppy back if he was not adopted or about to be killed. She was told the dog had gone to a foster home and would be available in three months. Saunders was excited because she had found a home for Roger, the puppy, and arrived at the shelter to take him.

But alas, Roger was killed. Not recently, either. January 12th, 2011 Roger was killed because he apparently bit at a leash.

This story brings up a lot of issues from temperament tests to shelter response to negative publicity to what we expect of shelters and the public.

The Animal Shelter Response

The shelter had the following response to a comment left at their facebook page:

Problem solved, amirite? Am I being sarcastic? Yes. What bearing do testicles have on the discussion of Roger? Why would an invitation to volunteer be a solution to the problem of killing Roger? Hey, can I report Indianapolis Animal Care & Control's animal cruelty for killing a healthy, treatable pet? Or does that just apply to The Misinformed Masses?

Indianapolis Animal Care and Control "Aggression" Test
"As for their four-step aggression test, Rodriguez said the method is widely used and widely accepted across the nation, and that ACC employees are well trained before administering the tests."

Indianapolis Animal Care and Control uses the Assess-a-Pet temperament test. The shelter believes Roger's story is their chance to explain this widely used and sort-of-wildly (more like blindly) accepted pass/fail temperament test...TOTALLY distracting us from the fact they killed a perfectly  healthy dog less than a year old. Widely accepted does not mean good for the dogs. Training does not mean they are experts.

Read that. Read it thoroughly. Advice Time: Hey, Indianapolis Animal Care and Control - I got a way for you to increase adoptions immediately! STOP USING THIS TEST AS PASS OR DEATH.

Step One: See how dog acts in kennel. If he is stiff, growls, shows teeth, lunges or bites - death sentence.

There is so much wrong with this first step and its finality, I don't know where to start.
  • Dogs communicate differently than we do. We should understand that, not condemn dogs to death because of it. A stiff dog is not a man-eating dog. 
  • A growl is a great warning. Sometimes it results in an air snap, a bite, and sometimes nothing. I like a dog who growls way more than one who does not. Growling is normal canine behavior. It should never be a death sentence. A dog who shows teeth is giving a warning. Sometimes it is a submissive gesture. Showing teeth is normal canine behavior.
  • A dog who uses teeth on skin is also giving a warning, a very severe one - depending on the dog's bite inhibition. It too is normal behavior, albeit potentially dangerous to humans and nonhumans. Biting should be taken in context, judged based on bite inhibition and bite strength, arousal, and dedication to the bite. If a dog is resource guarding their territory, that should be taken into consideration as well. 
  • A dog who exhibits any of these behaviors should undergo thorough behavioral evaluations by two to three professionals. An animal control officer is not a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. 
  • If a dog is considered too much a liability because they exhibit this behavior, they should be signed over to a reputable rescue or an individual qualified to handle such a dog (and who signs liability waivers).
  • I am honestly not averse to killing an otherwise healthy dog who poses a significant threat to people. But I think very few dogs fit that description.
 Step Two: Manhandle the dog.

I've seen the Assess-a-Pet temperament test in action. I've seen hundreds of dogs fail and get killed (exceptions include small dogs and socially acceptable breeds). It is, in my opinion, one of the most deeply flawed tests, because it is widely accepted as a pass/fail. I would find it less reprehensible if it was a scaling system that ended with a game plan for the dog in lieu of a death sentence.
  • Hugging a dog can be perceived as socially rude, especially to a dog who does not know you.
  • Dogs can be in pain for a variety of reasons. IACC probably does not do thorough medical tests. A dog may have an abscess, arthritis, bruising, muscle pain, sprains, etc. that would make them reactive to touch. For example, Celeste had ehrlichiosis, a tick-born disease that left her legs painful to the touch. She would have failed this test because of a disease that is treatable with a 10-day dose of cheap antibiotics.
  • The Assess-A-Pet test relies on manhandling the dog, not gently touching the dog within her comfort zone. The handling is rough, at best, violent at worst. 
  • Dogs who are touch sensitive, recoil at touch, or react aggressively to touch should have a gameplan established for them. A complete physical exam with blood tests and x-rays/sonograms/whatever necessary. Corral your best volunteers and implement a socialization and desensitization program for dogs who are touch sensitive (obviously safety rules must be drafted for aggro dogs). Call your rescues. Find a good foster home.
Step Three: Expect the Unreasonable Around Food
  • The Assess-a-Pet test deems all dogs with any resource guarding issues as unadoptable and thus kill-able. This includes resource guarding around people and other animals. The former is more of a liability and more dangerous to the public, while the latter can be easily managed.
  • Resource guarding is difficult to modify, easier to manage. 
  • Dogs who resource guard around nonhumans should either be placed in single-animal homes (with a clear explanation of the dog's issues and how to manage them) or managed by an experienced/comfortable dog guardian. It's not rocket science - Mina and Celeste resource guard their food and high-value raw bones. Magical solution - they are fed separately! MIRACLE!! 
  • Dogs who resource guard around humans require a lot more work and their management is best undertaken in an experienced foster home with access to experienced trainers. 
  • I recognize a dog with resource guarding issues around human beings is a liability. I have seen the results of severe bites from resource guarders. When it is severe, it should be taken very seriously. I admit I would not keep nor would I probably foster long-term a dog with severe resource guarding issues (i.e. one who will not barter). But there are people who can and will. 
Step Four: Dog Must Like Other Dogs
  • The Assess-A-Pet test expects A LOT of dogs. It expect every dog tested to be the Mother Theresa of all dogs, to love and respect and adore all other dogs. 
  • Dogs are not robots. Dogs like some dogs. Dogs dislike some dogs. The nicest Golden Retriever on earth deemed Mina a hellhound and tried to eat her head. She probably stared at him funny and she probably deserved the reprimand, but in his ten years in existence, this dog had loved every dog he met. I never expect my dogs to like all dogs or other dogs to like them.
  • Dogs who are leash-reactive should not be expected to act like they would off-leash. The Assess-A-Pet tests I've seen done all rely on leashes, which sets dogs up for failure. Not saying let the dogs off leash but it is important to discern whether the reaction seen is because of barrier/leash frustration or animal aggression.
  • A dog with reactivity around other dogs should have a game plan. It should ascertain the degree of their reactivity, how easy it is to redirect them to other things (like eye contact with you or a toy or a game or the other direction), and a crew of volunteers to make this possible. So long as the dog does not redirect onto a person, a dog with dog-animal aggression is most assuredly adoptable. There are tens of millions of these dogs living in the country RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Chaos has yet to ensue.
The Assess-A-Pet test makes it VERY easy to kill a dog. Very easy. I've seen too many dogs killed because of this test. It's the very test Mina failed (not for any signs of aggro behavior, but for her sensitivity). It is nothing to be proud of and, if it is true that IACC killed Roger because he bit a leash, then they have a severe problem with how they manage the "results" of this test. Biting a leash should never be a death sentence.

The Enabling and Misinformed Supporter Response

Last time I checked, an animal shelter employee gets paid to enforce the law and assist in the rehoming of animals. Hannah Saunders does not. The public does not. Large shelters have access to a larger array of resources. Hannah Saunders and the public does not. One part of animal control's JOB - as in what they were created to do - is to take in unwanted animals and theoretically find them permanent placement. It is not Hannah Saunders or the public's job to do so (it's why our tax dollars are paying them!) If we are animal lovers or feel it is just and right to help dogs and cats, then it is reasonable to be asked to participate through volunteering, donation, policy change, legislation, education, adoption, outreach, fostering, rescue, and the like. But if Hannah Saunders had been allergic to dogs but found it cruel to leave Roger abandoned, Indianapolis Animal Care and Control is supposed to be the safe haven she could have brought the dog to to either reunite the dog with his guardian or rehome the dog.

Killing a health, treatable pet is not an option.

Indianapolis Animal Care & Control screwed up. I want to see shelters own up to these mistakes and make it possible that they don't happen again. I hate seeing shelters blame the Hannah Saunders' of the world - people like you and me who go that small extra foot for a dog - for not only doing their job but doing it better by not just killing the dog when they found him. I hate seeing shelters act like a magician and redirect people's attention to testicles, cruelty calls, volunteering and the big, bad, stupid public. I hate seeing shelters defend a policy of "temperament testing" that sentences a leash-biting dog to death. And I absolutely loathe seeing people defend these shelters. Step up, admit you were wrong, and make it better for the animals.

People should WANT to bring unwanted animals to the shelter. People who find a stray puppy on the side of the road should have their shelter on speed dial, because they know it's a good place. A community that embraces the philosophy and principles of no-kill will ensure that its shelter system does too. We are a nation of dog lovers, and it's time for our shelter system to reflect that compassion and kindness.

Roger did not deserve to die. He is remembered by Hannah Saunders and others. I will remember him too. He is yet one more victim to die in the name of "widely accepted"; that is, a shelter system that facilitates the needless death of thousands of healthy, treatable dogs and cats and treats it as normal. Shelter workers are not my enemies, and I wholly respect those who are stuck in this vicious system, doing the best they can with what they have. But the system needs to change, the paradigm needs to shift. And it can be done - it is too late for Roger, but it needn't be too late for the thousands of other dogs entering Indianapolis Animal Care and Control. All they need to do is make a few changes. Lives saved will be the heart-pleasing result.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chloe Has The Mange

I am not 100% sure about this, but it's not ringworm (I'm highly susceptible and there are non-round patches).

My preference is not to use the traditional western medicine treatment of mange. I looked through Dr. Pitcairn's, at the suggestion of a coworker who used an echinacea treatment with success on her dog, and found two options - twice daily compresses of echinacea for at least five minutes and a dilute of lavender oil painted on her spots.

I also wanted to avoid going to the vet, if I could. Chloe is slightly fearful, and I REALLY do not want to put her through the over-stimulation of a vet's office until she is ready. Or at least more ready than right now.

I was thinking of trying the lavender oil, since it's more accessible and does not take as much time. Chloe is not one to sit still for five minutes with a bunch of towels on her.

Anyone have success with other herbal remedies? Most mange goes away. I am not overly concerned about this development, but I do want to try and treat the exposed skin.

Plus, a photo of the mangy dog in question. Who would like to get adopted! SHE CHASES HER TAIL! I am working on getting her to do it on command so it does not appear as neurotic of a behavior. It's cute, no matter what.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Miscellanious Service Dog News

The revised definitions of a service animal have officially gone into effect. These include a modification on what constitutes a service animal - a dog or, in some circumstances, a miniature horse. These also include a clarification on whether service dogs who happen to resemble banned breeds of dogs in an area CANNOT be banned or restricted.

Andrea over at The Manor of Mixed Blessings has a must-read post on Service Dog Etiquette. While I'm not sure I'm on the same page with her shoe analogy, it's at least accessible to the general public. I think able-bodied dog lovers will have a harder time reading it than those familiar with service animals. It's like the first time a white person realizes we still live in a privileged, patriarchal, White-centered society and ouch! that sucks majorly. And no, persons of color don't want to hold your hand and guide you through your journey of self-discovery anymore than a disabled person wants to describe in vivid detail why on earth they need a service dog.

The take home point: Treat the disabled as if they are an able-bodied person without a dog. I know it can be hard for dog lovers - I relate to people with dogs on such a personal level, and I probably annoy those people by going straight for their dogs attention and not theirs. But Andrea, you will be happy to know that I do not stare or oogle or interact with people who have service dogs as if they are merely an extension of their dog. But my inner dog-lover is petting the dog IN MY MIND. The power of the mind, it wins.

It is a poignant reminder that we still live in an ablelist society that treats disabled people as abnormal entities worthy of extra-special attention. Last time I checked, most people - regardless of how able they are - just want to do normalized stuff - go grocery shopping, take a walk, drink a coffee at a cafe, enjoy an evening out. Help them out by treating them like people! I know, strange.

(When I think about it, part of why I feel so strongly about this is an experience I had as a teenager. An adult was talking to a person who happened to be in a wheelchair. She talked to this person in a slow, exaggerated voice as if the person was incapable of understanding. It was baffling - the person in the wheelchair was clearly in a wheelchair because he had a broken leg. And even if he had difficulties with his speaking skills, I've always found the best course of action is to STILL talk to everyone you meet the same way and, if modifications are necessary afterward, implement them. That image has stayed with me, more than a decade later.)

Part of the reason for the change in ADA definitions stems from concerns, not necessarily borne out in reality, that people were abusing the rules by having, say, a service iguana. Or service rat. Now me, if a service animal can perform the functions necessary to keep a person stable or sense seizures or whatever, then great. But I understand the concerns, even if I do not necessarily agree with them.

But there are people like Rhonda Kimmel whose sole reason for putting a service dog vest on her dog is so he can get exercise in air-conditioned malls. And just like an ableist person WOULD say, she didn't want to push her luck at the housing development where she lives because AND I QUOTE, "It's not like I'm blind or something." I can see how service dog advocates would be totally pissed off. I still believe Rhonda Kimmel is in the minority and the overwhelming majority of service dogs are providing a service to their person.

And that is my miscellany on service dog news.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why Should We Help Japan? Bill O'Reilly, Meet Your Foot

On a whim, born from boredom and an irksome throat cold, I paused on Fox News and the O'Reilly Factor.

He was discussing in his abrasive way why should we - as a government and as the public - help the people of Japan who are, in his words, a "first-world" country?

First, the idea of "first, second, and third world" countries is not just outdated, it's offensive. It stems from Cold-War nationalistic rhetoric that put America and its allies in the "first-world" category and our enemies, those scary commies, in the "second-world" category and everyone who didn't align themselves with us or them as "third-world". Better terms are more developed, developing, under-developed in terms of economic stability, literacy, morbidity, etc. ad naseum. It's a rub of mine, I know.

Second, nature does not care about how industrialized you are - it's a level playing field, in that regards. A natural disaster can dismantle infrastructure just as effectively in Haiti as it can in the coastal regions of Japan. We have seen the pictures, we know it is true.

O'Reilly is baffled why we would bother helping Japan because of how industrial and wealthy it is. Further, channeling selfish and self-righteous feelings, he asks - What has the world done for US in times of need? He claims that no one comes to OUR aid when disaster strikes. Because we are so rich, no one wants to help us, whine, whine, bitch, moan, whine.

He mentions specifically Hurricane Katrina and 9/11. Bill O'Reilly lacks google-fu. I have done it for him. I win.

After 9/11, several international search and rescue teams arrived to help find victims. Organizations helping the victims like The Children's Aid Society, received donations from overseas as well. While I could not find a long wikipedia entry, it would be silly of anyone to argue that we received no help from overseas private citizens or governments after the 9/11 attack.

After Hurricane Katrina, lots of countries offered aid. We were offered nearly a billion dollars in aid, of which we only used 5% - poor form! And scroll down to Japan. The Japanese people and their government donated or pledged to donate more than thirteen million dollars. Iran, which totally doesn't like us, offered humanitarian aid and crude oil (which I don't think we even accepted, gosh we are so stupid).We botched that entire disaster so majorly, I cannot even think about it without wanting to cry and rage at this country.

And even though we screwed up so much, the world was there to give us a helping hand. They gave because, like most of us, they saw their fellow humans suffering and they wanted to help. It did not matter that the United States is a wealthy nation. Perhaps, when they saw footage, they saw how awfully the government treated our people and couldn't help but donate! Or perhaps, like me, they saw the devastation, the destruction, the walking dead, stunned and afraid, and their heart ached.

Bill O'Reilly may not understand. For that, I am grateful he is not in charge of my tax dollars or my donations. I am glad he is not the chooser of what monies our country should give and what they should not. I am thankful he has no control over my pocketbook, no matter how stingy and scrooge-like he is with his.

For me it comes down to this image. I have not found a screen cap of it. But it is this. It is friends, family, neighbors struggling to get up a hill as a raging ocean trudges inland, carrying with it broken lives and homes. I can hear the ones video taping the incoming surge yelling, desperate with fear, to run! run faster! In that moment, with perhaps only a few seconds left to live, I could see people making choices - leave their friends and family behind, drop the leash of their dog, run ahead. But they don't. I watch, with the man behind the camera, as two pick up a grandmother or grandfather and run as fast as they can. I watch, with those who are seeing their world disappear, as a senior citizen holds tightly to the leash of her little white, dog. I watch with bated breath, with hope against hope - even knowing the video was taken days ago - that they all make it safe...realizing that several of them don't.

I am haunted by that image, of that struggle to survive, to help others survive. That video alone ensures I will donate (and I have), ensures that my breaking heart doesn't just splinter and wither, but that I do something, as minimal as it may be, as unnecessary as O'Reilly think it is, to help.

And I know that if something as disastrous and awful as Katrina strikes again in the United States that, unlike O'Reilly believes, the international community will help us. Even if we are wealthy, even if we *should* be able to properly handle the wreckage and aftermath, even if there is no Bill O'Reilly sanctioned reason TO donate...that people will. That people who don't even really like us, governments that wouldn't mind seeing us disappear, will still come to our aid. Because it is the just thing to do. It's that simple. These are the moments when we realize our universal humanity. I wish it held faster to us afterward.

I donated to Doctors Without Borders and the Search Dog Foundation (liberated half a dog from a county pound, yo).

When it comes down to it, I want to be like this dog (both of whom were apparently rescued).

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Farmed Animals

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Smoochy Cows


Tommy is the Angus steer on the left. He was being raised for slaughter but was especially small. The farmer did not feel it would be profitable to continue feeding him. Thankfully, horse people rescued him and kept him for a year while they tried to find a permanent the sanctuary!

Freedom is the Jersey steer on the right, giving Tommy a smooch. Male dairy calves are unwanted by-products of the dairy industry. They are slaughtered for veal or sold at auction for backyard slaughter. Freedom was sold for $3 at auction - he has a congenital defect that has left him tail-less and no one wanted to buy him. Lucky for him, it turns out! Now he is safe and sound at the sanctuary.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

California Legislation: AB 376 Shark Fins

Each bill I'm following will get its own post with related updates and background information.

AB 376: Prohibition of selling shark fins
Author: Assembly Member Fong and Huffman
Status: Will be heard in the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife

This bill would ban the possession, sale or distribution of shark fins in the state of California.

What You Can Do
If you live in California and support this bill, send a letter to Assemblymembers Fong and Huffman, thanking them for trying to preserve a dwindling apex predator.

Assemblymember Paul Fong
State Capitol
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0022

Assemblymember Jared Huffman
State Capitol
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0006

You can also email Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife committee members, asking them to support.

Background and Current Law
Shark finning involves capturing live sharks, rays and sharkfishes, cutting off the fins, and throwing the fully, conscious live animal back into the ocean. Sharks feel pain, and they suffer a prolonged, cruel death from finning. Shark meat is not as popular or lucrative as the fins, and so most of the 70 million sharks finned last year were thrown back live in the waters.

Finning sharks is technically illegal in American and E.U. waters. Loopholes exist, which the Pew Charitable Trust has been trying to close with the Shark Conservation Act, signed into law earlier this year. There are loopholes in the law. In the "high seas", there is no limit on shark finning. While shark finning is banned by federal and state law, the import and sale of shark fins is not.

In California, according to one survey, 1/3 of Chinese restaurants offer shark fin for purchase. I could not find data on how many shark fins (or weight) California imports on an annual basis. There is a vague reference of "thousands of pounds" here (in Singapore, about 2,500 tons are imported each year).

Shark Population Status
The only three species that has been offered worldwide CITES protection are the great white shark, whale shark and basking shark (the latter two are filtering sharks). Last year, CITES had the chance to add seven other shark species to their list, which would limit their slaughter at sea but added none. The scalloped hammerhead, white tip shark, great hammerhead, and smooth hammerhead are all vulnerable or endangered, primarily due to fishing, were not included. The porbeagle was added, then removed at the last moment.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is an environmental network with a mission of maintaining biodiversity. Thousands of scientists are members. The IUCN maintains a database of threatened species with their Red-List. It is considered to be one of most well-researched databases in existence.

There are approximately 248 species of shark on the Red-List.

Nine categories define the population viability of the species (defined here): Extinct, Extinct in the Wild, Critically Endangered (80-90% reduction in current or expected population in next decade, <250 mature individuals), Endangered (50-70% reduction in current or expected pop, <250 mature individuals), Vulnerable (50% reduction in pop size, 30% reduction in next ten years or 3 generations, <10,000 mature individuals or <1,000 mature individuals in subpopulation), Near Threatened, Least Concern, Data Deficient, Not Evaluated

Of the 248 species of shark on the Red-List, they can be broken down into the following categories:
Critically Endangered: 13 species
Endangered: 11 species
Vulnerable: 41 species
Near Threatened: 50 species
Least Concern: 68 species
Data Deficient: 64 species
Not Evaluated: 1

That means there are 65 species with populations that are threatened with a significant reduction in population size, number of mature individuals, or habitat availability either currently or within the next 10 years or three generations. Subtracting the data deficient and not evaluated species, since neither are useful statistics to this particular discussion, that leaves 183 species, of which 36% are vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. 27% of near threatened. And 37% are in the "least concern" category.

Breaking News: Chloe is Awesome

Celeste lovers, cover your eyes...but if Celeste wasn't in my household, I would keep Chloe in a millisecond. But for Celeste's sanity, I will not. Like it or not, I love Celeste and have committed to her awesome well-being for the next 10-15 years. If tomorrow, Celeste decides to love Chloe, I'm keeping her.

But that won't happen.

Chloe is sensitive. She is bright and alert and smart. While she is a bit more velcro than I prefer, she lights up when I enter a room, and she only goes potty if I am standing next to her. This should be annoying, but I find it endearing as sin. She is insanely intelligent. Scary, really. She learned sit in a minute, "watch me" in two, and "touch" (nose to hand) in five. She learned her name within 10-15 minutes. It hurts my heart to think her previous caretakers did everything they could - through ignorance or will - to kill this little dog's spirit.

What I love most about Chloe, though, is her energy. It is gentle and sweet; comfortable and comforting. There is something incredibly calming about her. Sometimes, when I'm working in the kitchen and I let her in the backyard (I can see her at all times), she will just sit - this small boned puppy - and stare off, ears up, a pose of contemplation.

I loved Sherman for all of his doofy puppy quirks. But I Love Chloe. Putting that into words is hard and probably just makes giving her up even harder. I shouldn't do that to myself. Or her. So we will enjoy immensely our time together, exploring the world and seeing everything through a kind, little puppy's eyes.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sharing Recipes and Being Vegan

I love to cook, but find everyday cooking difficult. About a month ago, I decided to make two recipes from my vegan/vegetarian cookbooks each week. I buy all the ingredients Monday (one of my day's off), usually prepare one recipe then and another mid-week. Since I'm cooking for one, most of these recipes last me several days...which means I get to enjoy cooking but not the frustration of trying to do it every day.

Plus I'm trying new things. I want to share what I make in the hopes you might consider trying some of these vegan recipes. So far I've made some interesting meals - pad thai (not so good, trying a new recipe this week), fajitas (yum), hummus and guac quesadillas (no cheese, surprisingly tasty) and cookies and cream cupcakes. This week, my two recipes are Ligurian Bread Salad and another Pad Thai recipe.

Liguria is a coastal region in Italy. The traditional ligurian bread salad has some fish element in it, from tuna roe to anchovies. Of course, this recipe from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen (one of my faves) contains only plant-based ingredients. I encourage you to check this cookbook out at a library or buy it online (it's only $12!)

Ligurian Bread Salad Vegan

24 1/4 inch-sliced baguette (I used a sweet french bread)
3 large cloves garlic, 1 halved, 2 finely chopped (I saved the halved one for the next couple of days)
1 tbsp plus 4 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp water
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil (grow your own!)
1/4 tsp dried oregano (I used ground)
1 cup frozen baby green peas, defrosted and drained (I excluded because I hate the texture of peas, 'cept in samosas)
2 tbsp drained capers
4 small vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
salt and pepper to taste
1 6-oz jar of artichoke hearts, drained and sliced
1 7.25-oz jar of roasted red bell peppers, drained and sliced
1 smll red onion, cut into thin slices, soaked in cold water to cover for 10 minutes
1 medium cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
8 tsp extra virgin olive oil (I didn't measure)
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. I cut up all my veggies while the oven was pre-heating. Arrange bread slices on ungreased cooking sheet and bake until toasted. Remove from oven and rub the top sides of the toasts with the halved garlic (or both sides if you're me!) Mix 1 tbsp of vinegar with 1 tbsp of water and drizzle evenly over toasted bread. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the basil, oregano and chopped garlic. In another bowl, combine the peas and capers. Set aside.

To assemble, place three bread slices at the bottom of a salad bowl. Add a single layer of the tomatoes, oregano/basil mix, peas mix, cucumber, peppers, onion, artichoke, and kalamata olives. Drizzle a bit of the red wine vinegar and olive oil. Add another layer of bread and vegetable ingredients. Let sit 15-30 minutes to soak up all the flavors.

The recipe says to toss the salad, then serve. I ate it like one would bruschetta, not with a fork. It was very flavorful (letting it sit is important) with a little hit from the garlic and onion.

All the ingredients for this meal cost me about $20. I estimate this meal will last me four meals - two lunches and two dinners. I'm a light eater, so for those who want a heartier meal, you might want to pair it with another dish or eat more. So for me, this recipe cost me $5/ meal with a lot of leftover ingredients I can use in other dishes. I work for a non-profit, a job that is heart-rich, I care about how much a meal costs me.

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mina Is Not Impressed With the Puppy

Chloe and Mina met this morning. I discovered Chloe has slight resource guarding issues around other dogs. Mina had to lay the smacketh down. Which just means I have to a) manage her issues and b) teach her to act polite with treats/food around other dogs (namely Mina). She is not a resource guarder with people.

But that first reaction has left Mina unimpressed with Chloe. The opposite of aggressive, though. Mina just wants nothing to do with Chloe. Point of fact, after I took these pictures, Mina refused to come in...even though it was raining. Mina hates rain, but she apparently hates Chloe more. This makes me sad. I had to carry Mina in. With Sherman, Mina enjoyed having him around 75% of the time. We could sit in the living room, the three of us and Mina would be relaxed and comfortable.

It's only the first few hours, of course, and Mina will relax a little more as the days progress.

Mina has a big head

Horrified Mina needs me to remove clingy puppy from her shoulders. Also, Chloe sporting her brand-new non-neo-orange collar!
Mina Not Impressed With Hug

I love Mina so much. I am sure she will settle down a bit and stop looking EXTRA-EMO:
Mina Best Dog Ever
Celeste hates Chloe. That was to be expected.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Things You Should Know About Chloe

Chloe has been at my house for a grand total of three hours!


Things You Should Know About Chloe's History
  • The previous custodians of Chloe called her Poncho. That, my dear readers, is something you wear when it rains, not something you name the most awesome of puppies. Chloe is something you name a cute cow, a species that happens to be number two on my most favorite species list. Chloe does not know her name yet, but as you shall see, she is practicing cow-hood.
  • Chloe likes to play. She is four months old. Her previous custodians left her alone with a tiny, baby bunny. She tried to play with the bunny. The bunny did not survive.
  • The previous custodians of Chloe beat her because of the rabbit incident. Chloe is a little concerned when you touch her bottom, where she was "spanked" repeatedly. Chloe also submissively urinates. On your pant leg, if you're me.
  • Chloe was dropped off at the shelter because of the rabbit incident. The shelter, by county law, was required to kill Chloe unless a rescue would take her. This is how I - who vowed NOT to do a puppy as my second foster dog - ended up with a puppy as my second foster dog.
Things You Should Know Chloe Likes to Put In Her Mouth
  • Toys = good!
  • Hands = bad!
  • Sofa cushions = omg stop!
  • Camera lenses = triple bad
  • Plants = bad unless being photographed
  • Those little cylindrical preservation devices that would probably kill a Chloe if she swallowed it
  • Dog food = excellent!
Things You Should Know About Chloe's Intelligence
  • She's super smart.
  • She learned "watch me"in like five minutes. No command connected yet, but she loves gazing deeply into my eyes for a cookie.
  • Chloe knows sit. She performs sit for EVERYTHING. Since I told her she was a good sitter, she has been offering me a sit every two seconds.
  • I'm sure there will be more smart things Chloe will do.
Things Chloe Likes to Crawl In or On
  • Cupboards - in.
  • Oven - in.
  • Counter tops - paws on.
  • Tables - paws on.
  • Sofas - whole body on
  • Laps - nestled in
  • Legs - paws on, then sit for attention
  • Gates - paws on, intentional grounding of said gate. Horrified Mina and Celeste run away.
Things You Should Know About Chloe And Other Dogs
  • Not much to know yet.
  • Mina and her sniffed noses. Mina is appreciative of puppy noses.
  • Celeste and Chloe sniffed noses. Wagging tail.
  • Celeste and Chloe sniffed noses again. Celeste growled. Chloe is all oblivious.
  • Chloe does not like gates separating her from dogs, so she will bark at the gate, scaring off other dogs.
  • Chloe, unlike Sherman, loves people a helluva lot more than other dogs.
Pictures of Chloe You May Gaze Fondly At:


Chloe trying to be a Pit Bull, because she knows how I feel about Pit Bulls.
Chloe trying to be a pit bull

Chloe trying to be a cow, because she knows how I feel about cows.
Chloe trying to be a goat

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Foster Dog Vests or Bandana

    Any suggestions on where to purchase customizable vests (like therapy/service dog ones) or quality bandanas that I can have embroidered or screened with "Adoptable" or something like that? I want to use it for foster dogs when they're out in public.

    I've found plenty of sites for bandanas, but I kind of like a vest better - it's a little flashier or noticeable? Anyways, any suggestions appreciated.

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    Wall-e Is Special, But So Are All Dogs Killed

    Wall-e is an adorbs puppy who arrived at an animal shelter in Sulpher, Oklahoma along with "about four or five" of his siblings. The puppies were deemed unadoptable because, hey, they were a smidgen thin. The veterinarian then decided the best course of action to deal with malnourished puppies was to kill them. Shelter system failure.

    Wall-e received an IV injection of euthasol, along with an intracardiac shot.

    Then the puppies received the Gold Star burial treatment by being thrown in the trash bin. In the morning, an animal control officer noticed movement in the trash bin and lo and behold, one of the puppies had survived the killing spree.

    The entire universe now wants to save Wall-e's life. His siblings, those sweet, precious, slender puppies, barely receive any mention. The idea that killing dogs who just need food to get better as being a bad idea is never discussed either.

    I hate these stories. Yes, hate. They are not real feel-good stories. Point of fact, they simply highlight the utter failure of our traditional shelter system. At a no-kill shelter, these puppies would have been taken to the veterinarian, assessed, and a plan of action would have been implemented. Rescues would have been contacted, foster homes would have been found, and all reasonable actions - like feeding the puppies - would have been taken to help these dogs survive. And then ALL SIX would have been adopted. Saved. Living the life Wall-e will get.

    The implication is made that those other puppies, all other dogs killed in this country by shelters, deserved to die. They didn't "fight" back. They received the "right" dosage of kill juice. Their bodies fill our landfills and crematoriums. It's so wrong.

    I am happy  Wall-e is alive. But he should have been anyways. He never should have been nearly murdered by people who were supposed to nurture him to good health.

    And to all the people who want a "miracle pup", adopt a needy dog at this shelter. Because if this is how they treat skinny puppies, it's a miracle any dog gets out alive.

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    Around the Web

    Top news: Hayden Panettiere is licked by a Pit Bull. True fact.

    Does the UK not have something similar to the ADA? Or is it totally cool that a dog who provides life-saving services, like noticing when a woman might die, be evicted? Fail.

    China going crazy with its one-dog policy. No dogs over a certain height are permitted, folks can only have one dog, and "large attack dogs" are prohibited, whatever that means. Good luck enforcing this one, folks!

    Very sad story out of El Paso involving a kind, homeless man who ended up being killed by stray dogs. He had chosen to be homeless and whatever wealth he garnered, he often shared with others. How he lived his life inspired a fast-food restaurant employee to become a social worker. 

    Out in Evansville, when a little Poodle causes minor fender-benders and wants to be fed Pop-tarts, that's just what animal control does. And thus a little rag-a-muffing cutie-pie is saved from being hit by a car or shot by police for stopping traffic.

    Illinois state representatives are channeling their stupid and proposing a law that would allow local communities to kill dogs and criminalize law-abiding citizens via breed specific legislation. 

    This article left me baffled by the title selection which includes the statement "attack nearly killed my pet" in which the "pet nearly killed" suffered scratches. Unless the offender was a cat and yeah watch out for cat scratch fever and shiz-nit - scratches does not qualify as "nearly fatal".

    Another interesting story in which "Toddler attacked by dog" is the title in which a toddler was not "attacked" but accidentally walked in the middle of a dog fight and was scratched by the family's whippet. Being only two, the laceration to the face caused some physical damage and required surgery.

    A really sad story out of the UK in which a Rottweiler named Roxy was stabbed to death in a valiant and successful bid at saving her young ward's life. The 13-yr-old guardian suffered one stab wound and is recovering in the hospital, but his family doesn't believe he is emotionally ready to handle the sad news that his best friend died. The knife attack is said to have occurred after the family's other dog got into a fight and the other dog's owner returned and attacked the child and Roxy.
    Apparently eyewitness testimony ain't good enough anymore. You have to wait months to videotape the beatings of a defenseless dog before anyone will do anything. While I appreciate the positive spin on this story, I think it absolutely sucks it took months of torture for the dog and the human witnesses for anything to get done. That dog is lucky to have survived.

    Oops, Philadelphia police raid the wrong house, piss off a dog and then kill the dog. Good job!

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    It's National Pig Day

    And here's a pig.

    If you met this piglet, you'd swear off bacon forevah and evah. TRUST ME YOU WOULD. She grunts and runs around like a fiend and is jealous of chicken feed. HOW CUTE IS THAT. How can you be jealous of cracked grain, it is silly, Sally! That's her name. Sally. People were going to eat her, but she was all "hells no" and escaped. Police rescued her, animal control told her owners - sorry, you cannot has the piglet to eats in the city - and so they signed her over. And now she is running rampant, wreaking great havoc upon the world. Good job, Sally. I celebrate you.
    Sally running off

    Oakdale, Ca Animal Control Trying to Reduce Kill Rate

    Oakdale Animal Control in Stanislaus County, California wants to reduce its kill rate. The shelter has increased the number of dogs and cats euthanized from 19% in 2009 to 29% in 2010.

    Animal control officials believe the increase is due in part to the poor economy, lack of identified dogs, and the cost of picking up a dog. The shelter charges a $20 pick-up fee for castrated animals and a $70 fee for uncastrated animals. There is an additional $5/day boarding fee and also a licensing fee of $10 of an altered animal and $50 for an unaltered animal.

    I appreciate Oakdale wants to see its kill rate go down. That is commendable. I love that they are working with local utility companies to include information about licensing/spaying in utility bills. That is creative, outside the box thinking. After all, most people get a utility bill!

    In addition to working with local agencies, there are other options available that can be easily implemented.

    Canvassing: Oakdale plans on canvassing neighborhoods. They are issuing citations for unlicensed and unvaccinated animals. This is not a good way to increase compliance or improve public relations. Some alternatives to this traditional method of canvassing:
    • Coordinate spay/neuter and/or vaccine clinics with local veterinarians and rescue agencies. These events should be within walking distance of canvassed neighborhoods and either the same day or the weekend following the initial interaction. 
    • Offer a sliding scale payment option for the vaccine and castration clinics. Most people, when given this freedom of choice (and a suggested payment) pay fair market value.
    • On the day of the vaccine/castration clinics, waive the initial license fee and license animals then and there.
    • Offer incentives - a raffle or a drawing for anyone who participates.
    • Citations are a last resort and should only be issued after two attempts at getting people to vaccinate or castrate their animals.
    Licensing Fees: If compliance rates are important, reconsider the traditional licensing fee structure AND accessibility of licensing forms.
    • Waive fees during pre-selected days of the year. Perhaps once a month, offer an amnesty day. Advertise in the media. Make it a fun event, inviting vendors (who can pay to help offset the costs) and other rescues. Promote adoptable animals as well!
    • Make sure licensing forms are EVERYWHERE! Work with local veterinarians to at least ask clients to fill out the licensing form when they get their dog vaccinated. Licensing forms should be available everywhere a person with a dog or cat might go: vet offices and pet stores are obvious. More readily accessible places, like supermarkets, are good places too. Include vaccine clinic times and locations.
    • Offer the initial form on-line.
    • Significantly reduce the licensing fee for unaltered animals, especially if there is concern that low-income persons would have a difficult time complying. 
    Improving compliance rates will increase the likelihood that well-loved pets enter the shelter system with identification already in place. More importantly, canvassing with the intent to community build, can create long-lasting, positive relationships with your constituents. When they next decide to get a dog or cat, they will be more likely to consider adopting one.

    These are two basic concepts that any shelter can implement with great success. Rethinking the traditional animal control paradigm will save lives and it sounds like that is something Oakdale cares about. I wish them the best.

    Memphis Animal Control: Mister Enters Shelter Alive, Killed Same Day

    The facts:
    • Thursday, February 24th, 2011 - sometime in the morning - a Memphis Animal Control officer picks up an unattended German Shepherd. A notice is left on the door near where the dog was found.
    • That same morning, a shelter veterinarian assessed the dog and determined he had congestive heart failure.
    • The dog was killed.
    • Thursday, February 24th, 2011 - four pm - the guardian of the dog's daughter calls the shelter to pick him up, finds out the dog was killed earlier in the day. Source and source.
    While Mister may not have actually had congestive heart failure, he did have heartworms that appeared untreated since July of last year. A previous veterinary statement indicated he had fluid buildup around his heart, either due to a heart murmur or from the worms.

    It is entirely possible he was suffering or uncomfortable. And it is possible that euthanasia might have been warranted.

    Many of you have had to euthanize a beloved companion animal. Working at a sanctuary, we are faced with that monumentally difficult task more frequently than most. Only in rare circumstances, as I'm sure is true with all of you, is the decision to kill an animal made within minutes or hours. Even when animals are in acute distress, all reasonable measures are taken to alleviate discomfort and ascertain what is causing those symptoms. Oftentimes, when it is acute, it is incurable and devastating and euthanasia is appropriate. Sometimes it is not and waiting those key moments, hours or days can literally mean the difference between life and death. For there is nothing worse than getting back a necropsy only to find a few doses of medicine, or some other treatment, could have reversed the symptoms and saved that animal's life. Trust me on that.