Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Animal Place's Vegan Micro-Farm

This is one of the sunflowers at the sanctuary's vegan micro-farm. The flower is telling Important Business to some edible bachelor button flowers, probably that they are edible and should be concerned.

I don't live in New Hampshire, but if you do, walk on over (b/c everyone can walk to their destination in NH, amirite?) Lyman Orchards and enjoy their sunflower maze. I have been through corn mazes, but I feel sunflower mazes are more awesome because, hello! sunflowers!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Shelters Doing Good

When animal shelters are not doing all they can to find permanent placement for all adoptable dogs and cats, they should be called out on it. But when shelters are trying new (and old) techniques to improve live release rates, they should be called out on it too!

These are all programs and ideas ANY shelter can implement!

Christmas in July: For the month of July, the Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control facility is offering microchipped, vaccinated, castrated cats for FREE! Making it easier to adopt is always a good thing.

Reduce adoption fee: The Sonoma County Animal Care and Control facility in California is offering all dogs and cats for a $25 adoption fee through the month of July.

Specialize in Seniors: An animal control officer in Prince William County animal shelter created a non-profit to help find homes for senior animals. They work with the local shelter to pair dogs and cats over the age of 5 (hardly senior!!!) with senior citizens. The adoption fee is waived. It can be difficult to find homes for senior dogs and cats, so this is a great way to do so!

Get out in the community: The Pell City shelter in Alabama has increased adoptions by with a variety of easy-to-implement techniques - they partnered with Petsmart and have a Saturday adoption day, they created a "bonding" area at the shelter offering visitors a quiet area to meet dogs, and they are in the process of creating a foster program.



Smile! I don't mean Sophie, I mean you!

Sheep prefer smiling faces over angry or frowning ones. Researchers have studied this very important behavior.

Sophie is a "bummer lamb". These are lambs born to a mom who cannot care for them. Farmers rarely spend the time and money to hand-raise an abandoned lamb, so they are often left in the fields to dehydrate and die. Really, that IS a bummer.


Smiling is important, because sheep also remember faces. They can remember nearly 100 unique human faces for up to three years.

I don't know who came up with the theory that sheep are stupid. Probably someone who presumed that their flocking and following behavior is some magical sign of stupidity. It's actually pretty smart and rather selfish. Sheep flock so that each individual has a higher likelihood of surviving an interaction with a predator...and they will try and shove their way to the center of the flock to increase individual survival rate!

Carmen is a three-legged sheep rescued from a small farm that raised sheep for weed abatement. When Carmen broke her leg tripping in a hole, the farmer spent no money or effort on helping her. For two weeks, she hobbled around until a neighbor came to the rescue. After a week of intensive care, we decided to amputate the now dead leg.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Police Dog Shootings 7/22/2012-7/28/2012

7/28/2012 - A dog inaccurately described as a 100-lb Pit Bull (no Pit Bull, unless obese, should weigh that much) was shot and killed in Michigan for running towards officers. Those same officers "controlled" an unruly man by tasering him, and then killing his dog. Problem solved, yo.

7/27/2012 - During a shootout in Indiana, a police K-9 was shot and killed by officers after the German Shepherd attacked another officer.

 7/26/2012 - A Pit Bull was shot twice after he charged at an officer and "bared his teeth". The dog survived.

7/26/2012 - Goodness knows why Prince George County has waited four years and a lawsuit later to implement animal handling policies. Four years ago, the mayor of Berwyn Heights (he lived in Prince George County) was the victim of a no-knock SWAT raid that resulted in the tragic murder of his two Labrador Retrievers (one of whom was shot as he ran away from the officers), and the terrorizing of the mayor's family. No crime had been committed, but hey! That hasn't stopped no-knock "drug" raids. Now Prince George County has finally decided to train officers.

7/25/2012 - A woman in Ohio was attempting to put her dog, described as a Pit Bull, into an outdoor kennel when the dog bit her. Police arrived, separated the dog from the woman, and when the dog attempted to bite one of the officer, he shot the dog four times, killing him.

7/23/2012 - A homeless person's dog was shot twice when a police officer kept physically trying to wake up the intoxicated person. It is unknown if the dog survived.

7/20/2012 - A 3-yr-old Golden Retriever was gunned down by police serving a search warrant for drugs.

Sunny the one footed hen

Sunny the 1-legged hen

Did you know the modern hen bred for egg production lays five times more eggs than non production birds?

That's nearly 300 eggs a year.

When I am told veganism is "extreme", I want them to meet Sunny. And I would like for them to explain to me how artificially selecting for a trait that stunts growth and dramatically increases the risk of death by cancer is not extreme.

Really, if you think about it, all the things we want in animals raised for food production are exaggerated, extreme expressions of growth. We've normalized it, because we want to eat animals, their milk, and their eggs.

Sunny only has one foot, by the way. The egg farm she is from used plastic leg bands on the chicks when they arrived. They never took them off, and the bands became embedded in the hens' legs. All have scars and damage from this, but some were even less fortunate in that their entire foot fell off.

Despite that, Sunny is the sweetest hen on earth. She is the first to greet you in the barn, and the last to say goodbye.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Celeste telling me to move forward more, photo less #dogs
Celeste does not understand the documentation, "I was there", aspect of our walks.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kassie Begs Worse than Mina

Kassie wants to eat vegan too #vegan #dogs
OMG, guys.

And this is her being good!

Kassie usually climbs up on the sofa and then tries to "accidentally" fall onto my plate so she can eat it.

Telling her no is like telling a lamp to shut-up. Unless it's a talking lamp.

Anyways, she has zero manners, so that is something we need to work on. She's still pretty adorbs.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Holly, Motion Stilled

The sanctuary rabbits have access to a lovely outdoor pasture. Photographing the rabbits is like photographing wild animals. They have a pretty large flight distance and really don't like people up in their business.

I got some shots of Holly, but she looks more like a taxidermy rabbit than alive. Geez. I promise, she's alive!

Holly the rabbit
Holly rabbit

Morgan County Sheriff Mad About Facebook Page

Last week, a 3-yr-old Golden Retriever named Aubie was shot by Morgan County, Alabama police serving a search warrant for some marijuana.

You can see the results of that shooting death in this graphic photo album, which be forewarned includes photographs of the dead dog, Aubie...who was dispatched with a brutal shotgun blast to the chest. Officers claimed the Retriever was trying to maul the officers.

The Morgan County sheriff Ana Franklin is now all angry over a Facebook page, Justice for Aubie, which I encourage you to support if just to annoy Sheriff Franklin.

She is so angry that she is threatening to take legal action. For a Facebook page, people. She claims the page is inflammatory.

Also, she is angry that people aren't more concerned about the dangerous criminal masterminds she and her officers took off the streets. I mean, the guy was allegedly selling marijuana, which as we know, is a gateway drug to committing genocide.

Of course, there was also a handgun and drug paraphernalia, so I am pretty sure these guys were ready to take over a small country!

Gee, hope Sheriff Franklin doesn't try to threaten me with legal action, yo!

Look, there are totally times when it is absolutely necessary to defend yourself from an actual honest-to-goodness dangerous dog. One time I physically threw 70-lb dog a good five feet when she tried to eat my 25-lb spaniel mix (she had one eye, no one messes with Juju, fact). And when a Retriever went kennel crazy and tried to eat my hand and arm, I am not going to lie - I whacked the dog upside the head, because hello! I like to have ten fingers, thanks. The dog was like, what? And I was like, yeah, back off jerk. He did.

Somehow I managed not to bust out the shotgun! I know, I'm pretty amazing.

In other cities, do you know what happens when an officer shoots a dog or person? At the very least, they are  put on leave, often with pay (which is especially offensive when an officer shoots or kills an unarmed person). There is at least a pretense, as flimsy as it may be, that the shooting should be investigated (fox, guard hen house, please).

In Morgan County, you pose in a photo proud of your great accomplishment on the Sheriff's birthday...with no mention that during the execution of one drug raid, the execution of one family pet occurred!

I'm so sorry you died, Aubie. You appear to have been a well-loved family pet and even if it is proved in court that your guardian sold pot, you did not deserve to die nor did your family deserve to suffer this indignity.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Roosters Know Best

Every flock needs a good rooster.

Our flock's best rooster was this rooster's father, Arturo. The rooster pictured is Newman. I have known him since his mom hid a clutch of eggs, then proudly bestowed upon us six chicks! (We collect eggs daily, otherwise we'd have a bazillion chickens).

Arturo knew how to manage the flock. He knew when to break up fights between squabbling hens and other roosters. When another rooster became too aggressive with a hen, particularly while mating, Arturo was the one to interrupt and protect his flock (he did not interrupt the gentler roosters).

Arturo delegated duties, making sure there was at least one other rooster or hen on sentry duty. Sometimes, he'd take up the responsibility himself. When he found good food, he always called hens over. He was kind to all the birds. I really loved him.

After his death, no rooster filled his role. Chaos essentially ensued. The stability of the flock suffered with his absence.

Newman has finally come into his own. He used to be a brute of a rooster. Rude, pushy, aggressive. Not with people, but his own kind.

I feel like he is finally stepping into his father's tracks. He used to be very afraid of me, but now when I go into the poultry enclosure to take pictures, he follows me over to make sure I stay in line.

He still has a ways to go but I'm hoping to see more of his father in him.

And he takes great photos!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Turkeys! Again!

Another true story: This is what turkeys should look like!

White is an aberration. It is a genetic mutation that sometimes occurs in wild turkeys. Those wild turkeys rarely make it to breeding age, because hello! being white in the middle of the open plains and green/brown forests is a pretty poor survival technique.

Franny isn't a wild turkey, by the way. She is a single-breasted bronze turkey. Modern production turkeys - the animals people eat - are double-breasted. They cannot fly, perch, mate naturally, nor can they be fed a normal diet. Franny is lucky - she can express all the natural behaviors that our white-breasted turkeys desire but physically can't.

Why are turkeys white? Because people didn't like the bronze colored markings on turkey flesh. So turkey farmers took advantage of a genetic mutation that serves no survival purpose and artificially selected for white turkeys who get morbidly obese fast.

Franny is also a fan of photographs. This is just fact. When she saw me wander out to the pasture to take some photos of the chickens, she followed and planted herself in front of my camera. Then she basically yelled at me the whole time. Rude!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Shootings of Dogs by Police - 6/18/2012-7/22/2012

A 10-yr-old boy watched in horror as his pet Pit Bull was shot and killed by police, who claimed the had attacked a man unprovoked. The boy, and other witnesses, dispute this claim. They state that the boy was out walking his dog and was playing with him. The bitten man mistook the play for an attack and tried to "help" by beating the dog with a 2x4. The dog turned around and bit him. And then police shot and killed the dog.

I am not certain why the family had this dog euthanized, as he was only shot in the leg. The family claims their bull mastiff was not running loose, while police claim the dog tried to charge an officer. They show one photo, in which it is difficult to tell if the dog is loose or still on his chain.

This is a rather confusing story. A Pit Bull got loose. Police were called. A neighbor who recognized the dog was able to safely lead the dog back to his own yard, by the collar. For some reason, and this is where it is confusing, the dog was still loose and police were agitating him. Several police officers respected the dog's behavior and stepped away from the dog's territory. At some point, the dog jumped up on an officer, who then shot him in the head. The owner of the dog - and I cannot fathom this - REFUSED to put her supposedly "beloved" family pet into her own car, so police had to drive the dying dog to an animal shelter, while trying to arrange veterinary care. The dog died.



True story: Turkeys like music. You can find this out on your own, easily. Turkeys are talkers, male and female!

Another true story, but a lot creepier is why researchers were studying musical preferences in turkeys.

The modern turkey farm is more warehouse than pastoral setting. Turkeys are crammed into large sheds, often without windows or proper ventilation. Up to 10,000 turkeys may be confined in one shed. The turkeys are de-beaked without pain-relief, and the first digits of their toes are cut off as well. If they are male, the soft fleshy bit that falls in front of their beak (called a snood) is lopped off with scissors too.

All of these mutilations are done to prevent the side effect of intense confinement - fighting and frustration.

So researchers were trying to figure out other ways to reduce stress and improve growth rate without, you know, actually giving the birds meaningful welfare improvements like more space and less mutilations.

They discovered that playing music to turkeys reduced the level of fighting and stress amongst the birds. I cannot remember if it improved growth rate.

The turkeys studied preferred Mozart, by the way.

Willow, above, likes back scratches more than music.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Celste, Walks, Attention, Fostering

Celeste telling me to move forward more, photo less #dogs
Whenever I have a new foster dog, I have to make sure Celeste and Mina get extra attention and time. Celeste is rarely able to interact with the foster dogs, so it means a lot of dog juggling.

So I do my best to take extra special walks with Celeste. We have a local 900-acre park that is only 10 minutes away, with some great 2-4 mile hikes that are just perfect for me and Celeste.

She gets to feel special, and we both enjoy the outdoors together.

Mina just needs extra snuggle time. I am really not sure if Mina and Kassie will get along, but even if they do it will be awhile before they can meet.

Kassie's heartworm treatment doesn't officially end until the first week in August. They've both been giving each other the stink eye too.

But, I have hopes. Right now, all three dogs are in the same room. Kassie is chewing on something gross in her crate, and seven feet away, Mina and Celeste are just chilling. Everyone's calm and content.

The first time I fostered a dog with Celeste and Mina, it was such a nightmare adjusting to managing a 3-dog household. It would be one thing if Mina and Celeste had uber-awesome social skills, but I can NEVER have Mina and Celeste in the same room with another dog. One growl from Celeste, and Mina is on her like white on rice.

Many dogs later, and I have a system in place that works well, and that allows all dogs to get attention, exercise, and love. Kassie has been particularly easy in that she does not mind her crate at all.

I encourage all of you to consider fostering. It is literally a lifesaver for dogs who either come from hi-kill shelters or who cannot adjust at all to a kennel environment. Plus, it just makes them (hopefully) better canine citizens. I feel like if I can do it with my two dog-awkward canines, pretty much anyone can!! : )

Monday, July 16, 2012

Kassie the Foster Dog

Kassie Foster Dog
Kassie is one tough cookie.

The picture on the right is not of a snarling Kassie.

Instead, the "snarl" you see is the result of someone breaking Kassie's jaw. Evidence suggests she was kicked multiple times, in the face and chest (she also had several broken ribs and a chest contusion).

If that wasn't bad enough, Kassie has heartworms. This is why I am fostering her, at least temporarily.

She has a week and a half left in her treatment, and then she will be good as gold for adoption.

And let me tell you, she should have a line-up of people interested.

I am sure her less endearing quirks will emerge in the coming days (they always do) but Kassie is assuredly a gentle, soft, sweet-natured canine.

I believe she is 2-4 years of age, although the rescue thinks she is 1-2...maybe she is an unusually calm-natured teenage dog, I don't know!

Her breed is mutt. She is normally a medium-haired dog, but she has been shaved to help with itching (I think she has a skin condition that is a side effect of the trauma and effect it has had on her immune system). Her ears vacillate from perky and upright to pinned back and adorable. She has four white socks and a white chest. There is a really weird white ring on her tail too.

I think her optimal weight is more like 40 lbs, but I think she is around 45-50lbs right now.

She is a little camera shy, so I am going to have to work on getting a better shot of her colorized.

Here is a picture that makes her look like a tiny puppy:

Kassie Foster Dog

And one that shows her sweetness:
Kassie Foster Dog

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Breaded Baked Zucchini

Zucchini and I generally don't get along. I hate it raw, because it has a funny texture. And if you don't cook it well enough, it still has a funny texture. I feel this way about egg plant too.

At the sanctuary's vegan micro-farm, there are a lot of monster zucchinis. I felt compelled to try and make something with them, aside from zucchini bread.

So I made this! And it was delicious!!! Like, melt in your mouth good. Cook it long enough and you will not have any of the normal texture of zucchini.
Baked breaded zucchini is awesome #vegan
I got the recipe from here.

Baked Zucchini Sticks
(Adapted from this recipe at health.com.)
(for the vegan parmesan)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup walnuts
a dash of salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 medium-sized zucchini
1 1/2 teaspoons NRG egg replacement powder + 2 tablespoons warm water (or another egg substitute equivalent to one egg)
1/4 cup nondairy milk, plain
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (or unseasoned breadcrumbs, hand seasoned with your favorite spices – garlic, onion powder, salt, black pepper, etc. – to taste)
Cooking spray

1. Begin by making the vegan parmesan. In a food processor, combine the nutritional yeast, walnuts, salt, and olive oil. Pulse until well-blended and “crumbly.” Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 425F. Slice the zucchini into strips 3″ long and about as thick as a medium-cut french fry. Try to cut them as evenly as possible, so they all bake at the same rate. Set aside.
3. Prepare the wet mix: in a small bowl, mix the NRG egg replacer with warm water, whisking well. Add the milk. Set aside.
4. Make the dry mix: combine the parmesan and breadcrumbs in a wide, shallow bowl, mixing well. If using unseasoned breadcrumbs, add extra spices to taste.
5. Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray.
6. One by one, dip the zucchini strips in the milk/egg and then roll in the breadcrumbs/parmesan, giving them a quick, gentle shake in between the wet and dry mixes. Place them on the baking sheets, with a little space in between each zucchini stick. You can use a spoon to scoop the breadcrumbs on so it does not get so goopy.
7. Bake at 425F for approximate 30 minutes, or until golden brown. I made mine a little thicker so had to cook them longer, about 35-40 minutes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Empire Mine State Park

There are a lot of different hiking trails near my home, which is really great for Celeste.

I took Celeste to Empire Mine State Historical Park this morning for an easy 4-mile hike. Then I tripped over a metal bar exiting the park and my knee is sad.

If you are ever in Grass Valley, stop by this park. There is 840-acres of hiking trails and a neat historical mining museum that you can pay $7 to check out. I didn't, but you can.

I like the Union Hill loop.

Celeste does too:

Celeste at empire mine state park #dogs

I love going on walks with Celeste. She is just so happy. Also, she is not a freak on leash, unlike her older (not wiser) sister.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Perhaps the Shelter System Needs a Wake-up Call

I've been seeing this "letter" from an imaginary shelter director make the rounds again. You can read the whole thing.

I volunteered at Sacramento County Animal Care and Control for four years.

I worked the adoption area  (also contained intake, cat cages, temp test zone, entrance to bite kennels). I heard every reason for why a person would abandon an animal.

At the end of four years, I had an epiphany. It was not the people bringing animals to the shelter who were the entire problem. Rather, it was a system that chose to spend time blaming rather than acting. I saw too many adoptable dogs and cats killed. Not euthanized, killed, their lives stripped away for "space" or "cropped ears" or "feral" or "too young/too old/too fat/too skinny".

I recognized that the excuses hi-kill shelters were making to themselves and the public were not any better than some of the excuses people made to abandon their animals.

I understand the desire to express the anger and horror at what happens inside our dog and cat shelters, but I feel a lot of it is misplaced. Our shelter system can be optimized. Shelters are doing it now.

I want to address some of the recurring post:

"First off, all of you people who have ever surrendered a pet to a shelter or humane society should be made to work in the “back” of an animal shelter for just one day."

In an ideal world, the second you welcome a dog or cat into your life, you commit yourself to that animal's lifelong care.

Unfortunately people get sick, go to prison, die, fall onto hard times. Some of us have a network to pick us up when we fall down. Some of us are alone. I am not one to judge the hardship of a family member going to prison, someone going to a nursing home, or dying, losing all of one's belongings to a failed job or poverty.

Don't get me wrong; I've met people I would like to beat with a pillow (or bat, depending on my mood). They are people who see dogs and cats are material objects, akin to a car or chair. And these people suck.
Sherman wills mina to play
Instead of taking Sherman to the shelter, someone let this little puppy loose. Luckily, a police officer found him before he could get hit by a car. Mina says NOT LUCKY, because she then had to put up with his antics. Despite being one of those infamous BIG BLACK DOGS, he was one of the quickest of my fosters to be adopted, yo.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Francis the one-eyed cow

Francis, My Eye Side

Francis is a tiny cow with huge personality. She really does only have one eye.