Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wise County Animal Shelter Riding the Failboat

You know why Chloe got adopted? It's not just because she was full of awesome-sauce. The adopter saw a picture of her and thought, oh my, what a gorgeous animal. It was a nice photo of Chloe and it reminded the adopter of her last dog and old family dog combined.

Photos are vital to any successful adoption program. Unless you're an amazing story-teller, people want visual images to accompany words. People suck at reading. I mean that kindly.

Wise County Animal Control in Decatur, Texas, seems to think they can adopt out more than 25% of their animals by prohibiting photos by the skeery public (including rescues) and only allowing shelter staff to take photos.

Problem is shelter staff aren't taking the time to keep photos updated nor are they actively disseminating those photos to rescue groups to share. Check out their Petfinder's page, it's sad. It's like they have all these great animals locked in an opaque box and they're hoping, really hoping hard, that someone will show an interest. Doesn't work that way, folks.

If there are problems with the types of photos being taken, then sit down with the rescue folk and request they take photos that enhance the dog's personality. Require photos be taken outside or in an open room with good lighting. Encourage photos that showcase the dog's likes, maybe catching a ball, rolling around in the mud, or sitting on someone's lap. But don't just tell rescuers to stop taking photos. All you say with that is you don't give a damn about the animals getting into a home.

Which might be true with Wise County...they don't even keep a running tally of how many animals they take in and adopt. But it sounds like they kill a lot more than they help - the Sgt. estimates about 25% get adopted. Ouch. Not something to be proud of and definitely a good reason to encourage rescues to come in and take photos.

The shelter, like so many others, also "rescues" farm animals. Then sells them at auction to be slaughtered. Sucks to be rescued and then eaten! Imagine if they did that with the dogs and cats. Whoa, uproar central.

What you can do:
Contact Sheriff David Walker and politely ask that he reinstate taking photos and set guidelines to rescuers about the types of photos of animals that should be publicized. Rules about locations of photos is way better than banning photos entirely.

Contact the Commissioners and ask that they allow rescuers to take photos.
Danny White
Kevin Burns 
Harry Lamance 
Terry Ross 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Wallinator


When I touch a turkey's head, I think this is what the brain must feel like. They wear it outside their head. When I stroke their wattle, that fleshy bit on their neck, I think this is what the intestine must feel like (and having held an animal's intestine, it does). Turkeys wear what's in, out. Some find it unattractive, but I find everything about turkeys beautiful. Their soft plumage, proud tail feathers waving to and fro. I love when they vibrate their feathers and fill their chest with air to look bigger. When a turkey is happy, he will let you know by changing the color on his head and neck, a little chameleon-emotion-gauge. (They'll let you know when they're mad too).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mortality, Mauling and Maiming by Vicious Dogs Part Two

Part One Here

The Problem with the AKC and the Problem with Pit Bulls

The authors' second paragraph brings up two points.

The first: the authors base their population of dogs on AKC registration numbers. This sets their entire premise for failure. Faulty statistics only lead to faulty conclusions.

  • There are no accurate dog breed populations. None. Nada. Zero. Zilch. There are estimates, perhaps based on extrapolated data or best guesses.
  • Between 1-2 million dogs are adopted from shelters. They cannot all be registered with the AKC.
  • The AKC is not the end-all on dog breed populations. For example, the Labrador Retriever, often has registration numbers of 130,000- 150,000 each year. This is one of the most popular dog breeds. It is unfathomable that there are only 140,000 Labrador Retriever.
The AKC is not an accurate source of dog breed population.

What Vegan Food Looks Like: Muhammara


Muhammara is not veganized, it just is. The dip originates from the Middle East and is still commonly consumed there as a dip for pita, chips, vegetables, kabobs...just about anything, because it's that damn good.

It is also very easy to make. The taste is so much more complex than hummus. It's a bit of sweet and hot and a zest from the garlic. I really love it and have been making it a lot recently.

I don't really follow a recipe for it, but there are plenty out there! I go by taste and texture.

Here is one recipe (my comments in parenthesis)


  • 2 roasted red peppers (if you want to, make 'em yourself. Otherwise, be like me, and just buy a jar). 
  • 1 T. water
  • 2/3 c. walnuts (I prefer raw but you can do toasted too)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 c bread crumbs (I make my own by toasting part of a baguette in the oven, breaking it into pieces, then running it through the food processor, adding in oregano, sage, thyme, whatever)
  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. agave nectar/rice syrup (you can generally find this in most supermarkets, it's honey equivalent, otherwise use molasses thinned out or maple syrup)
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
 Directions: Throw all that shiz-nit into a food processor and puree until smooth. Or chunky, if you like!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Story of Impatience

A woman decided that waiting behind traffic on a local highway was just too much. She swerved into the right shoulder lane and started passing drivers. In a frenzy, she then tried to re-enter the highway with the normal folks who had simply waited the few extra minutes it took to get to their destination. She was going too fast, ended up in the middle of the highway, over-corrected, and flipped her SUV several times. The car landed on its hood, trapping the woman's head and her arm between the asphalt and her sunroof. The jaws of life were required to extricate the woman. She will survive.

Her service dog, unbelted, was thrown from the vehicle and killed.

All because one individual was impatient.

This woman could have killed other people, herself. She killed her own dog because she just couldn't bear the thought of being late a couple minutes to her destination. Or whatever motivated her. That will certainly haunt her, I'm sure.

Slow down, folks. If you have companion animals, consider crating or belting them in. This is a reminder that I need to start that up again, having become complacent in recent years.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How to Scare a Hi-Kill Shelter and The City It Resides In

Be a persistent thorn in their collective asses...and then get served!

Keep up the good work, Shirley. Being the voice for the voiceless is terribly time consuming, heart-wrenching, and endlessly frustrating. But getting a letter to "cease and desist" raising funds for animals is priceless. Memphis Animal Control and its city government is watching, and they're scared of what they see - the awful public standing up for the animals in MAC's control (care is too nice of a word).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I am considering getting Mina vaccinated one last time against rabies, possibly distemper.

My preference would be not to vaccinate her any more. She is nearly 13.

However, I bring her to work. It's a public setting and there will always be times when Mina may interact with the public intentionally or otherwise. The likelihood of her eating someone is pretty darn near zero, but the liability of not vaccinating her is enormous. And it would not merely fall on my shoulders, it could fall on my employer's. I'm not keen on risking that.

Mina is a very healthy dog, overall.

If you had an older, healthy dog and could bring them to work, would you continue vaccinating them? Or would you go for the rather expensive titer?


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tattoo of Your Dog

Do any of you have a tattoo of your dog?

I'm considering getting one of Mina.

I'm hoping Jennie of Citty Pittie is reading this and is all YES I WILL MAKE YOU A SKETCH! You can see Mina in her header.

If yes: Pros and Cons?

If no: Have you ever considered it?

If I did get one of Mina, should I go with brown and white or black and white? Suggestions, yo.

What Vegan Food Looks Like

Tofu And Kale

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Fundamental Problem With This Story

This is Diva. Before you go all, OH MY GOSH SHE IS CUTE, she is dead. No one will ever get to see those totes adorbs socks or rub those clearly velvet soft ears.

Here's what happened. A year ago, Diva was adopted from the Balch Springs Animal Control animal shelter. ADOPTED! Someone was all, "Diva, you are awesome and I want you in my life!" and adopted her! This is what animal shelters want, dogs to be adopted into homes.

Now, as we all know, crap happens. Mistakes happen. And if you think you are magically exempt from the errors of life, then you have not actually lived much. Even great, wonderful people screw up royally.

Diva got out of her yard. She wanted to roam the streets a little, see what was on the other side of the fence.

Lo and behold, she was met by Balch Springs Animal Control officers. They brought her to the shelter.

Her guardian was frantic, as any good guardian would be. He called the shelter repeatedly. He hoped that Diva's id tag would lead him to her. Apparently an officer tried to call the number on the tag but dialed it wrong or was stupid or something because it didn't go through properly. (Balch Springs, train your officers how to dial a phone number, yo). So after putting in that monumental effort, this animal control officer just didn't pursue the matter.

Diva was senselessly killed after only a week.

On the day she was killed, her guardian called the shelter yet again, hoping to find his dog. He was subsequently lied to and told the dog was not present, even though the officer knew the dog was there but was now dead.

Now that animal control officer has been put on leave. Problem solved in the city's eyes. Heck, they went "so far"as to offer the grief stricken family a new dog from the shelter, free of charge. Well, gee, Diva was clearly a totally replaceable member of the family and hells yeah, just toss me a free dog and I'm set!

The shelter has offered him another dog at no cost, but the Balch Springs man says that only shows the city continues to not understand the problem.
"A dog is part of the family; it is not just property, and that's the way they're looking at it," McGowan said.
Here's the fundamental problem: Diva should never have been killed by her rescuers. Period.

No amount of backtracking, no amount of "free dogs your way", no putting an animal control officer on leave is going to change the fact that there was zero reason for a healthy Diva to be killed. Heck, it might even be expected that the extra mile would have been taken for this little lady, since she was originally from the shelter!

We've got a problem, people, and it isn't the likes of Diva's guardians. She had a tag. There was a phone number to call. They had done their due diligence - they adopted a dog and loved her dearly. And their unfortunate error or life's unfortunate error should not end in the needless death of an adoptable animal.

Is this the system we want to spend money on? Is this the system we want to be proud of? I don't think so. There are so many reasons to stop the killing. Diva is but one of them.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Would You Like a Mina, But in Boy Form?

Of course you would! Who wouldn't want the most fantabulous of dogs, the Mina-dog?

They're fiercely loyal. They have a confidence that will both stun and appall you. They are tenacious and dorky and challenging. But reap the rewards, people. REAP THEM! Mina-dogs will always look you in the eye when you're talking to them. When they love you, they love you deeply. They also really like food and some of them, like boy Mina-dogs, like flirt poles (sometimes a bit too much, that deep love can have its downsides, yo). Girl Mina-dogs could care less about flirt poles but love chasing the dogs who do. This is an evolutionary adaptation so that Girl Mina-dogs and Boy Mina-dogs would, you know, get it on and such.

But of course girl and boy Mina-dogs should be neutered at the appropriate age and time in their lives.

Anyways, there is a boy Mina-dog looking for true love. He is on the eastern side of this country and his name is Orion. He is being fostered by the most cool Jenni of City Pittie.

Check him out!  or email Jennie and find out more information!

Someone adopt him, stat. He deserves his forever home. You can even start a blog dedicated to him and Mina will leave all sorts of flirty comments! That's a promise, from one Mina-dog to another!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mina's Tooth and a New Vet

Now that I will never ever go to the Animal Wellness Center again, I recently was faced with the challenge of finding a new vet.

Mina decided, in her infinite wisdom and glory, to chew on her nylabone so hard that part of her upper, left canine abandoned ship, flying across my office and skidding to a halt in front of my file cabinet.

Seriously, Mina?

We take the sanctuary chickens and turkeys to the Animal Medical Center in Auburn, which is about 30 minutes from where I live. So I decided to try them out.

What a world of difference!

The front office staff - and I met several of them - were very kind, polite and respectful.

When Mina and I were led to the exam room, upon discovering Mina was 12.5 years-strong, the tech immediately swept out of the room and returned with a blanket for Mina. "We don't want our older dogs to sit on the hard floor with their creaky bones!"

Mina agreed and promptly sat down upon the blanket.

As the tech left the room, she looked at Mina and said, "Best. Breed. Ever." I heart you, is what my mind said. My mouth just said, yes.

Dr. Rich Johnson was the vet Mina and I saw. He immediately got on the ground with Mina and introduced himself. Mina thought this was fabulous and stared deeply into his eyes,  imploring more attention.

He looked at the tooth and laid out all the options. There was no "let's do this" or "this is the best", it was a "these are your options for scenarios a, b, and c." I liked that a lot. He was very happy to answer my questions and never gave me the impression he needed to rush to his next appointment (which is something that happened at the previous vet).

The nerve ending is not exposed in Mina's tooth, so I decided to monitor it and make sure the sharp edges were not cutting her and she wasn't showing any signs of pain. So far, so good. I prefer this immensely to either grinding or removing the tooth.

I did not go into detail about the experience I had at the last vet, but I did mention having a bad experience regarding Mina and her lumps. He made a point to state his availability, that the techs and office staff are pretty tenacious when it comes to getting him to contact a client, and that he takes very seriously the communication between vet and client.

He also likes Animal Place, treated one of our turkeys, and is hoping to stop by for a tour. So he is the man, in my book.

It also only cost $38. I have never left the Animal Wellness Center with a bill that cheap. Not even for a general check-up.

Oh, and he thought Mina was 8-9, and she has an athlete's heart. This inspired Mina to try and leap up into his lap. But he was too high, so she settled for the front paws and the deeply profound, baleful stare that would topple canine nations if canines ruled the world.

The only downside, so far as I can see is the waiting room and the hallway to the exam room does not lend itself to dogs with leash reactivity issues. But the pros far outweigh this manageable con.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mortality, Mauling, and Maiming by Vicious Dogs Part 1

A well-researched retrospective study includes a lot of caveats and limitations the authors themselves experienced in both cataloging and understanding the information at hand. Like if you read the actual text of this study, there is a whole discussion on the concerns with accessing past case histories of dogs who died at 27 veterinary teaching hospitals.

Studying the reasons for why dogs died at various veterinary hospitals does not generally result in too much controversy.

This is going to be a multi-part series, because I want to challenge you. I want to challenge myself! You might be surprised by some of my thoughts on the article.You might not.

Killing California's State Parks

Mendocino Cliffside

With more than 200 parks in the state, California has one of the richest and most diverse park system in the country. Name an ecosystem and you'll find it amongst our park system.

Now the state wants to close 75 parks. Shut them down. All in the hopes that somehow 22 million dollars will magically assist in the 15,000,000,000 deficit the state has. Give me a break.

I want to keep paying for my state parks. They are valuable gems of our state's heritage and natural beauty. They should be maintained and loved and treasured, not shuttered.

One of the parks is in Napa, the Bothe-Napa Valley. I can remember getting lost in the park, wandering around for hours, knowing I'd eventually find where I parked! But what I remember most is not the getting lost part, but the pure enjoyment I found in watching birds flit about, creeping upon deer grazing in verdant meadows, and the flowers! Oh, so many, so beautiful and vibrant. It was a place full of life and wonder.

Or the South Yuba of Nevada County, the only park in the state that has a wheelchair accessible trail. The wildflowers in this park during April are absolutely stunning, the variety is amazing. The river provides a cool respite on hot days after a long, sweaty hike. Dogs are welcome as well.

And then there's Jack London's home, the place where he wrote and lived and loved. I know most of you have read Call of the Wild and White Fang. This too will be lost.

What makes this so sad is that once these parks are closed, I feel as if most people just won't care. They won't notice it. I hope that is untrue. I hope more that the parks won't be shuttered, closed off to public eyes and canine paws. We appreciate nature so much more when we have "civilized" ways of enjoying it! Most of us aren't going to go backpacking in the backwoods, but we can still find isolation and joy and freedom in a well-loved and semi-maintained park. The nice thing about getting lost at Bothe-Napa was knowing I would soon be found, yo.

If you don't live in California, please take a moment to show your solidarity and support of preserving our state park system in its entirety.

If you live in California, there's a few things you can do:
  •  Visit this page and click on a park near you that is being closed, then click the "take action now" button and write your legislator, asking them to NOT close the parks.
  • It's an alternative that I think is a cop-out and unfair, but AB 42, introduced by Asm. Jared Huffman would permit qualified non-profits to take over care of a park on the chopping block. Find your Assemblymember here (Click on Find My District on left nav bar) and ask them to support AB 42.
  • Post a memory you have of a visit to a state-run park.

What I'm Reading Currently

What I Am Reading