Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ill Conceived Pet Legislation - More, More, More

HSUS to the dog breeders of Delaware:  Weer in ur stayt, writin' ur loz:

House Bill 95 - This bill adopts the recommendations of the Humane Society of the United States regarding restrictions on the large-scale for-profit dog breeding operations commonly known as “puppy mills.”

Bill includes dog limits, how often breeders must take their dogs to the Vet, age restrictions, Vet approval required to breed, no back-to-back litters and more.  

Individual judgement of the responsible, experienced breeder?  86 that.  We're going with the HSUS!  True, they're not dog breeders or even a veterinary organization but surely HSUS knows so much about ethical dog breeding (by magic!) that its recommendations should be made into law.

Additional reading:

The Monthly National Legislation Report (alphabetical listings by state)  - March 2009

American Sporting Dog Alliance - "179 Animal Rights Anti-Dog Bills Introduced In 34 States"

Monday, March 30, 2009

Treats on the Internets

The article is titled "Fighting birds didn't have a chance" and describes the killing of gamecocks by authorities at a NC residence. One way to interpret the piece is that fighting Pitbulls are regularly saved (uh, no) but fighting birds are not:

When federal officers busted up former NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s dog-fighting ring, many of the pit bulls were saved by animal lovers patient enough to work with the abused and violent dogs.

No such salvation awaits fighting birds after a big-time bust. The morning the birds were discovered, three Moore County animal control officers worked for six hours, shooting each bird in the head with a .22-caliber pistol.

Was even a single phone call made to any rescue organization in an effort to save any of the birds? Cos it doesn't sound like it. The reason the birds "didn't have a chance" had nothing to do with lack of effort by animal lovers and everything to do with the immediate killing of the birds by police.

Also, which of Vick's rescued dogs were "violent"? Obviously not all of them, but the statement could be taken that way.


An otherwise nice story about a rescued Pitbull in Santa Barbara is marred by HSUS commentary on saving bust dogs:

Humane Society officials are wary of all the publicity generated by the Michael Vick pit bull matter. Yes, many of the dogs were turned around to live happy, normal lives, but the effort cost a lot of money. Most pit bulls taken from a fighting situation end up getting the needle.

“You don’t hear so much about the abused and neglected dogs that get euthanized,” said Adam Goldfarb, a pit bull expert with the Humane Society of the United States. “Not all dogs are able to recover from traumatic circumstances.”

Yeah they aren't able to recover too well when the HSUS kills them either. (Note to journalists: Asking the HSUS for info on saving bust dogs is about as reasonable as asking Jim Jones for punch recipes.)


A "spinning" technique for tick removal - I'm going to try it on the next unlucky tick that latches on to one of the dogs.


When fire breaks out in family's home, they sleep through smoke alarm so Pitbull gets on the job of waking the family up! 


The Iditarod killed 5 dogs this year and people are talking about it.


Sentry dogs on patrol at Idaho prison

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Action Alert for SC Pet Owners

The SC Legislature is continuing to work on S0223 - a bill which amounts to extortion of pet owners accused (not convicted, mind you) of animal cruelty in the state. A few changes have been made to the language since I first blogged on it, but the substance remains the same:
Anyone charged with animal cruelty or dogfighting (Note - this latter is a presumption on my part. The bill states "Chapter 24 of Title 16" but there is no such Chapter. Chapter 27 of Title 16 is the Animal Fighting and Baiting Act and since dogs are routinely seized in those cases, my guess is that "Chapter 24" is a typo.) and whose pets have been seized can be charged a monthly fee by the organization housing the pets. Specifically:
The court shall set the amount of funds necessary for thirty days' care after taking into consideration all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including the need to care for and provide for the animal pending the disposition of the litigation, the recommendation of the custodian of the animal, the estimated cost of caring for and providing for the animal, and the defendant's ability to pay.
For each 30 day period the case remains unresolved, the fees are automatically renewed. The defendant must pay the court determined fees every 30 days.

  • If the defendant can't come up with the money each month, he loses rights of ownership to his pets. The custodian is then allowed to adopt them out or kill them as they see fit.
  • If the defendant's case eventually results in a not guilty determination, he still has to pay all the fees, current through the day he was cleared of charges. (If the custodian hasn't withdrawn every last penny from the account, the defendant can get a refund of any leftover funds.) If he can't come up with the money, he loses his pets. The custodian is then allowed to adopt them out or kill them as they see fit.
  • And of course, if the defendant is ultimately found guilty and has been paying the monthly fees all along, he loses rights of ownership to his pets. The custodian is then allowed to adopt them out or kill them as they see fit.
Wait, there's more! Now how much would you pay?

Any person violating the laws in relation to cruelty to animals may be arrested and held, without warrant, in the same manner as in the case of persons found breaking the peace.
And as a special bonus:

Individuals from humane type groups can be deputized with the power to arrest without warrant, seize animals and take custody of those animals. Then you gotta pay 'em.

For an idea of what the courts deem a reasonable fee for seized dogs, we can look at the recent Wilkes Co, NC case where 127 Pitbulls were seized. In that case, the fee for 60 days worth of "care" for the dogs was $53,000.

I'm not sure where the bar has to be set these days in order to motivate pet owners to take action but this bar's in the dirt. Contact your elected representatives and let them know, politely and respectfully, that this bill is wrong for South Carolina:

Members of the House

Members of the Senate

Senator Lourie
601 Gressette Bldg.
Columbia, SC 29201

e-mail: JBL@scsenate.org
Phone: (803) 212-6116

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Illinois Breeder Bill Gone Wild

Lawmakers in IL have proposed a bill to regulate dog breeders. Emphasis on regulate:

Under "Definitions":

"Sanitized" means [...] Washing all soiled surfaces with appropriate detergent solutions or disinfectant products followed by a clean water rinse that removes all organic material and mineral buildup.
How do I know if I've removed all mineral buildup? How will the inspectors determine if I've removed all mineral buildup?

"Unaltered dog" means any dog that is not spaded or neutered.
Dude, really? SPADED? Before you attempt to write a law that will impact the lives of IL citizens, you might want to, oh I don't know, figure out what the hell you're talking about.

So who needs to apply for a license?

Any person who maintains 3 or more female dogs for the purpose of the sale of their offspring must be licensed under this Act.
OK that will include most all breeders. Way to not make anyone feel left out. What does the application for the license involve (besides the non-refundable fee, natch)?
The Department must require information from the applicant that, in its judgment, will enable the Department to determine the qualifications of the applicant for license. Such information must include the location of all facilities to be used, description of facilities to be used, present and previous business connections and experience, bank and professional references [...]

Wow - that's a lot of personal information for me to hand over to the state. I hope there isn't much more. I mean, I'm not a puppy mill, I just own 3 or more intact bitches and breed a litter once in awhile.
Applicants for licensure must have their fingerprints submitted to the Illinois State Police in an electronic format that complies with the form and manner for requesting and furnishing criminal history record information as prescribed by the Illinois State Police. These fingerprints must be checked against the most current Illinois State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal history record databases. The Illinois State Police may charge applicants a fee for conducting the criminal history records check [...] The Department may require applicants to pay a separate fingerprinting fee [...]
ZOMG! This sounds kinda like I'm under arrest. And they're charging me for the privilege...

Every year the Department must conduct at least one unannounced inspection of the licensee. An inspection fee may be set by rule.
IL hearts fees.

There's lots more in this bill including how often you must take your dogs to the Vet, inability to use your own judgment on breeding (Vet's approval required, age limitations set) and provision for inspection even if you don't apply for the license but authorities say you should have applied. I interpret that to mean if animal control thinks you have 3 intact bitches, they can bust down your door and demand access to your "facility", records, dogs, etc.

Read the whole ill-begotten thing here.

IL residents can find contact info for members of the House and Senate and let them know their opinion of HB0198. The bill's primary sponsor is Rep. Fritchey and the complete list of sponsors can be found here.

Friday, March 27, 2009

County Fails to Convict Alleged Dogfighter, Goes After Property

In AZ, Pima County is trying to seize property belonging to Emily Dennis:

Dennis was arrested in February 2008 as part of a major investigation by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office and the Humane Society of the United States into a multi-state dog fighting ring. Officers raided four separate properties, seized hundreds of dogs and arrested six people, including Dennis.
But Dennis and her partner Mahlon Patrick were acquitted by Judge John Leonardo in November. 

Acquitted.  So what up with the land grab?

County officials said that just because Dennis was acquitted of the charges doesn't mean she wasn't breaking the law.

Deputy County Attorney Kevin Krejci said there is nothing unusual about pursuing civil forfeiture of assets, even when a defendant has been acquitted of criminal charges.

Now I didn't go to law school but as I understand it, acquitted=not guilty.  If  county officials think someone is guilty of violating the law, there's a remedy for that.  It's called prosecution.  How it goes (on TV at least) is the county conducts an investigation, collects evidence, obtains an indictment, presents the case in court and asks the judge or jury to accept the case as having been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  If the prosecution fails to convince a judge or jury of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant will be acquitted.  

I appreciate there are two sides to every legal case and that one side will inevitably be unhappy with the outcome.  And I understand that a civil case is different from a criminal case.  But I am a strong supporter of individual property rights in our country and I  get concerned when government appears to be attempting to subvert our 4th Amendment rights.

The defendant response:

Thomas Higgins represents Emily Dennis.


According to court records, the Pima County Attorney's office is pursuing a civil forfeiture case against two pieces of property. One of them is located in Picture Rocks, just west of Tucson.


These empty kennels are where the more than one hundred pitbulls taken last year used to live.

Note:  All but a handful of the dogs were killed before the owners had their day in court.  

Back to the attempted property seizure:

Thomas Higgins says the state will have a hard time proving the property has illegal ties. "I sent them an extensive packet of the money trail about where the money came from to buy it."

I don't like the idea of government failing to make its case legally and so pursuing property seizure in civil court.  It gives the appearance of our government attempting to use its resources (our resources) to pursue individual citizens whom they were unable to obtain legal convictions against and strip them of their property rights.  To my mind, if the government is conducting an investigation into criminal activity like dogfighting, they should take the time to do it right and present a solid, evidence based case in court.  I am all for convicting and punishing scumbag dogfighters to the full extent of the law.  

I've always held our government to the highest possible standards because we the people demand it.  I want to respect our government officials and to be treated with respect by them.  By necessity, that includes respect for our rights as property owners. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Let's Play Oddball

No, it's not the start of a bad joke:

Police say a naked 14-year-old boy taking a walk with a large white poodle has assaulted a woman in Michigan.
If only he would have been walking into an adult drinking establishment...

Hero parrot gets award

Indonesian fruit picker killed by Komodo Dragons

China feeds abortion pills to plague of gerbils

Dog's art pretty good akshully

Predator X - I want one for a pet, if only for the name

PETA's Lucky 7

Seven pets somehow escaped PETA's slaughterhouse alive in 2008. Good for them. Tragically, 2200+ pets were killed by PETA last year. More discussion on the topic:

Terrierman has an action alert

The Poodle and Dog Blog

Pet Connection

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Foaming at the Mouth

Update on the dogs seized in a Washington, GA alleged dogfighting bust from Washington Police Department Lt. Joe Nelson:

“‘Was it scary?‘ Yes, yes, these dogs were vicious. These dogs were bred to kill. They were foaming at the mouth, they were ready to attack,“ says Lt. Nelson.

Police arrested Tavaris and Lawanda Ramsey and seized the pit bulls, drugs, and other valuables. But, authorities say this ring is far-reaching and expect to make more arrests.

Walking with us Monday, the lieutenant found a pregnant pit bull in the woods near the house and says if Animal Control hadn’t taken it, a litter of killer dogs was inevitable.

So they just fall out the birth canal snarling, snapping and ready to eat people?  By gosh by golly, that sounds skeery.

It’s a heart-wrenching situation for any animal lover, including those at Washington-Wilkes Animal Shelter where the dogs are being held. “Our efforts are put forth trying to save the dogs, do the best we can for them. But that’s the key, to do what’s best for the dog,“ says Gloria Wheatley.

The shelter says it’s looking for a sanctuary for the six puppies, in case they can be saved. They say the three adult pit bulls will have to be put down. As for the pregnant pit bull they took Monday, it was very skittish, but they say they’ll monitor it and decide what to do with the puppies forthcoming.

What about what to do with the dam?  Or is she doomed for death without qualified evaluation like the other adults?  Sorry but you people don't sound too heart-wrenched.  Are you familiar at all with the term "animal shelter"?

And where are you HSUS?  Why is there no publicity for getting these dogs individual evaluations in accordance with your supposed "interim" policy on bust dogs?  I know it's not a glamorous case like a chimp mauling someone or a circus elephant or chickens in cages but come on - even the unsexy cases should get a share of those donated funds.  It will cost money to provide these dogs with quality care while the legal case is sorted out and to bring in a trainer experienced with rehoming bust dogs to perform individual evaluations.  And the local authorities will need to be educated and influenced to do the right thing.  Legal action may be necessary to try to save these dogs.  HSUS can do all those things.  In fact, they've done those things in order to get bust dogs killed, like they did in Wilkes Co, NC.  Here's an opportunity to put your money where your "interim" mouth is in Wilkes Co, GA and save these dogs from being killed without qualified evaluations.  

Every dog deserves a fair evaluation.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pitbull Bite in PA: The Wrong Debate

In Pennsylvania, a Pitbull dam who had just whelped a litter bit a 7 year old neighbor girl in the face:
Princess had recently delivered a litter of puppies when Dunn came over to visit Gasch's Homestead duplex Thursday morning.
Gasch told WTAE Channel 4 Action News that while she was stuffing school supplies in her son's backpack, Jenna -- who has played with Princess often -- went into the bedroom with Gasch's son. According to her son, Jenna knelt down to play with one of the puppies, at which Princess became protective."
Jenna asked me to see the puppies multiple times. I told her, no, she cannot see the puppies she cannot go in my room don't go upstairs do not even play on my steps," said Gasch.
But Dunn said Gasch's son invited her upstairs to see Princess while his mother was sleeping.
Dunn's family said the attack is enough to warrant the dog being put down.

The article discusses the debate over whether the dog deserves to be killed. To me, a more appropriate debate might include any of the following:

  • Is the dog's owner well suited to have a dog? She has multiple violations for letting previous dogs roam loose, including one incident where her dog was shot by a neighbor.
  • Was the dog's owner asleep or getting her son's backpack ready for school when the incident occurred? How did the kids get into the room in either circumstance?
  • Were the 7 year old girl's parents aware that "Princess" had just whelped a litter? If so, why did they allow her to visit the house unattended?

Kid left unsupervised with dogs=bad idea.
Kid left unsupervised with a neighbor's dog=worse idea.
Kid left unsupervised with a neighbor's dog who had just whelped a litter=*sounds buzzer* Sorry, thanks for playing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We All Need Somebody to Lean On

I saw this couple's story on Headline News this weekend and was very touched:

Weeki Wachee, Florida - During this recession, many people across Tampa Bay have been forced to give up their pets.

But despite losing his job, Ted Koran of Weeki Wachee vows he'll keep his cast of critters, which includes two horses, three ducks, five dogs, two pot-bellied pigs, two parakeets and more.

Koran has always been an animal lover, but his love for pets has taken on a whole new meaning.

Koran believes some of his pets can predict and stop his wife's seizures. Karen Koran is a severe epileptic and has been diagnosed with four types of epilepsy.


Because she's epileptic, Karen can't work. And since she's never been able to work, she does not qualify for disability.

Even though Koran recently lost his job as a heavy equipment operator, the couple refuses to let their animals go.

It costs about $100 a week to feed all of their pets. Koran is now down to eating just one meal a day, so that he can afford the animal feed and pet food.

"We're worried that things are going to get tight [and that] we'll lose our home," Koran choked out through tears. "It'll break our hearts if we lose our animals."

I contacted Mr. Koran to inquire if there is any way we in the pet community could give them a "hand up" to hold them over until they get back on their feet. He sent me a kind response and I have included part of it here:

Nothing will be wasted and WILL be accounted for. Our address is 10396 Snowbird Ave., Weeki Wachee, Fl. 34614. Our phone is 352-584-8724. Our local feed store is Ranch Hand Feed Depot in Brooksville, Fl. and their phone is (352) 796-4186 for feed, hay and pet food. These donations can go directly to our animals. Let me know and I can pick the feed up. Because of scams I have asked the reporter, Janie Porter, who did the story to keep track of everything we do with the donations. We don't want people to think we are gold diggers.

I don't think that Mr. Koran and I know you'd rather be working. Many of us are struggling in this economy and indeed pets do bring us a quality of life that you can't put a price tag on. Thank you for sharing your story and allowing people to help. Those of us who can, will.

Donations can be mailed to:
Ted and Karen Koran
10396 Snowbird Ave.
Weeki Wachee, Fl. 34614

Feed, hay, and pet food can be purchased at:
Ranch Hand Feed Depot in Brooksville, Fl.
Phone: (352) 796-4186

If you aren't in a position to make a donation at this time, please keep a good thought for the Korans and for all the pet owners struggling and sacrificing to keep their pets in these challenging times. We'll all get through this, together.

9 Pitbulls Seized in Washington, GA

Dogfighting bust news from Wilkes Co, GA (video at link):

WASHINGTON, Ga.---Evidence of dog fighting and drugs were found earlier this week at a home in Wilkes County.
When the Washington Police Department went in with a search warrant on Tuesday they were shocked at what they found. Cocaine, marijuana, almost a dozen dead animals around the property and nine more pit bulls...trained to kill.

Well they sure made that assessment fast. I wonder how they got a qualified trainer in for individual evaluations so quickly. Or is that just the TV people being dramatic and no one has been in to give these dogs fair evaluations yet?

"When we found nine dogs chained up, viscous put bulls -- these dogs were scarred up every last one of them," says Lt. Nelson.

Another nine animals, dogs and cats were found dead, some badly decomposing on the property. They could have been the bait.
Investigators believe some of the dead animals and some of the pit bulls may have been family pets that were stolen.

"We feel some of those animals that were recovered might have been family owned pets because we've had a lot of complaints here of missing dogs or stolen dogs," says Lt. Nelson. "I mean, these dogs I don't think could be anybody's pet again.

Well that is one possibility, another one being: Maybe they could be pets again. Maybe we need a canine behaviorist experienced with rehoming bust dogs to come in and individually evaluate these dogs before we make determinations like that.

The nine pit bulls found are at the humane society in Washington. They are currently trying to get custody of those dogs.

The shelter believes the three adults will have to be euthanized but that there may be hope for some of the puppies that they believe had just begun training. They are not up for adoption.

Right. For one thing, the owner has not been proven guilty in a court of law yet so he is still the owner. For another, if he chooses (or is forced by the courts) to sign over custody of the dogs to the shelter, it sounds as if they've already got at least 3 pink needles lined up.

Seems to me, this would be another good opportunity for HSUS to mobilize its vast resources and get on the horn to educate this shelter and local law enforcement about their new "interim" policy recommending individual evaluations for bust dogs. If necessary, they could help with funding to bring in an outside behaviorist for the evaluations and to cover expenses in providing quality care for the dogs. Just a(nother) suggestion...

I'm guessing this is the shelter trying to obtain custody - and apparently planning to kill at least some - of the dogs: Washington-Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter.

Every dog deserves a fair evaluation.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

State Pet Laws: Who Speaks for You?

Here is a sampling of proposed legislation affecting pet owners around the US. All bracketed additions are mine. Our representatives are elected to speak for us, their constituents. If you find the bills they are considering to be misrepresentative of your view of fair, reasonable and necessary legislation, I suggest you speak for yourself. Find your state representatives and contact them with your polite and respectful opinions.

Arkansas, Senate Bill 864 (pdf)
Sponsor: Senator Madison
An owner of twelve (12) or more dogs, cats, or any combination of dogs and cats shall annually obtain a license issued by the Arkansas Agriculture Department.
[Cost of license=$250]

Twenty-four (24) or more dogs, cats, or any combination of dogs and cats is one thousand dollars ($1,000).

An official of the department, a public health or safety official, and an officer employed or appointed by an agency of the state, county, municipality, or other governmental or political subdivision of the state that is responsible for animal control operations in its jurisdiction, upon receiving a complaint or upon his or her own motion, may investigate a violation of this section during daytime hours.
The investigation may include the inspection of the dogs or cats on the premises and any place where dogs or cats are kept or maintained.
This bill allows for warrantless searches of owners' kennels and/or yards and/or homes.

Maryland, House Bill 495 (pdf)
Sponsors: Delegates Smigiel, Ali, Barkley, Bartlett, Barve, Beidle, Bronrott, Cardin, Dumais, Frush, Gilchrist, Glenn, Hubbard, Hucker, Impallaria, Kelly, Kipke, Kramer, Lee, Manno, Mathias, McComas, McConkey, McDonough, Minnick, Montgomery, Ramirez, Shewell, Stein, Valderrama, and Waldstreicher


What if the "enclosure" you provide for your dogs is your home? What if you know how to use a treadmill responsibly for occasional, directly supervised exercise of your pet? What if your boss says you have to work late and you don't manage to get in the full 2 hours for each dog that day? Who is going to monitor and enforce these regulations? I have questions!

Nevada, Senate Bill 241 (pdf)
Legislative Counsel’s Digest:
Section 4 of this bill prohibits a person from breeding cats and dogs for sale in Nevada without first obtaining a license as a breeder from the State Department of Agriculture and makes a violation of the licensure provision a misdemeanor. Section 4 also imposes an annual $500 licensing fee on breeders. Section 5 of this bill: (1) sets forth the qualifications a person must meet to be issued a license as a breeder, including good moral character and a lack of any convictions of violating a provision of chapter 574 of NRS relating to cruelty to and care of animals; (2) requires the license to be renewed annually [...] Section 11 of this bill sets forth the duties of a breeder, including ensuring that cats or dogs he breeds and sells have all their necessary immunizations, that no cat or dog is bred for more than two litters, that each cat or dog is implanted with a microchip before it is sold and that the breeder registers each litter with the Department.
So the state of Nevada is going to determine which breeder applicants have "good moral character"? Huzzah!

New York, State Assembly Bill A05507 (summary)
Sponsor: Ball (MS)
[...]change the definition of a "pet dealer"
to mean any person who engages in the
sale of more than five animals (rather than
nine) per year directly to the consumer.
The definition of "pet dealer" is also
amended such that a breeder is considered a
pet dealer if he or she sells directly to
the consumer fewer than ten animals per
year (rather than twenty five) that are
raised on the breeders residence.
This bill is supposedly designed to regulate "puppy and kitten mills" but the definition changes seem to include just about anyone who breeds dogs or cats.

Tennessee, Senate Bill 0258 (summary)
Sponsors: Senators Jackson, Ketron
A "commercial breeder" is a person who possesses or maintains at least 20 female dogs in order to sell their offspring as companion animals.
An application for a license as a commercial breeder would be made to the commissioner on a form provided by the commissioner. Each application for a license must be accompanied by a license fee based upon the following:

(1) Possessing or maintaining 20-40 adult companion animals per year, $500; or
(2) Possessing or maintaining 41-75 adult companion animals per year, $1,000.
A license would not be issued to any commercial breeder who possesses or maintains more than 75 unsterilized companion animals over the age of six months.
This bill requires each commercial breeder to file semi-annual reports containing the following information:

(1) The number of dogs or cats in the possession of the commercial breeder on the date the report is filed;
(2) The number of dogs and cats sold during the reporting period and the names and addresses of the persons to whom they were sold; and
(3) The number of dogs and cats received by the commercial breeder during the reporting period under circumstances other than purchase and the names and addresses of the persons from whom they were obtained.

The premises of a commercial breeder must be made available to the commissioner for inspection at all reasonable times. The commissioner would make or cause to be made such inspections or investigations of the premises and records as considered necessary.

This bill also contains the "good moral character" requirement for applicants. Again, I'm seeing warrantless searches and there is a provision for animal seizure as well. Turning in the names and addresses of buyers to the state seems excessively intrusive to me. Why do they want that information, how will the state use it and what steps will be taken to protect the privacy of buyers? Or will buyers' names and addresses become public information?

Additional bills affecting pet owners:


Chicago, IL - Mandatory Spay-Neuter
HSUS support for Chicago MSN
Vote delayed due to opposition - March 23, 2009

North Carolina

Additional info:
Pet-Law - state list

HSUS and Anti-Pet Laws
HSUS Legislative Agenda 2009 (pdf)

Friday, March 20, 2009

NC Woman Charged with Animal Cruelty Plus

A NC mother of four is being charged after investigators uncover animal and child abuse:
Jennifer Lytton of Statesville faces one misdemeanor count of assault on a child under 12, one felony count of cruelty to animals, and two misdemeanor counts of instigating cruelty to animals.
The article states she put out a cigarette on her 5 year old's nose. When confronted by DSS about it, the mom tried the old switcheroo and blamed the DSS worker for the injury. Denial FAIL. Authorities then found the skeleton of a dog she had apparently starved to death in her yard, along with 2 Pitbulls she was still working on starving:
Detectives say the 5-year-old is now living with a relative and doing well. The dogs are now at Iredell County Animal Services.
The woman is out on bond. If she is found guilty, I hope the judge takes the animal cruelty charges seriously since there is often a connection between abuse of animals and violence against people. And in this case, the mother is allegedly already on that path.  Cruel people who prey upon the weak, the defenseless and the young they are charged with protecting need to be dealt with in an appropriately grave manner.  In addition, if the owner relinquishes or loses her rights to the canine victims, I hope they are given the opportunity for individual evaluations and rehoming, if appropriate. Every dog deserves a fair evaluation.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What's Going on at the Charleston, MO Dog Pound?

Lots of online chatter about this story as well as a local news piece:

A local animal rescue group says their eye-opening investigation could put Charleston City leaders in the hot seat.

In the wake of that investigation, Charleston Police shut down the city pound.


Here's what members of the group say about conditions inside the pound:

"They were horrendous. They were soaking in their urine, two small dogs were in the cage together covered in feces."

Alanna Downey heads the group, and says she posted the photographs she took online, raising cries of protests from animal lovers across the country. 

"There were multiple slabs of meat in the large dogs cage. Raw meat. They had a bluish purple tint to some of them," Downey said. 

"We feed the dogs dog food. But we have been giving them raw meat on and off for years as a treat," Police Chief Robert Hearnes said. 

For now the pound is empty, shut down pending an investigation by the Missouri Department of Agriculture. 

Authorities there say the city did not have a license to operate the pound and that is a violation of state law. 

Another Charleston resident says it's about time someone's stepping up to speak up for the animals. 

He says he found his dog in a pit, one day after the animal went missing. 

"He had been shot," Jesse Alexander said. "You could see scratch marks where they throwed the dog in the hole and shot him." 

Chief Hearnes said earlier in the day the city buried the dogs they shot. However he would not return calls to confirm if the junk pit Heartland News found is where the dogs are tossed into, but we did spot two partially burned dog carcasses inside.

What is shocking to me about this situation is the apparent casual stance the police chief has regarding the allegations.  I don't see any denials, just sort of a vague *shrug*.  Presumably an officer of the law is familiar with the law and aware that it applies to him too:

Authorities at the Missouri Department of Agriculture say once they wrap up their investigation it will be up to the Mississippi County prosecutor to decide whether to file charges against the city. 

Under Missouri law, those who operate shelters, pounds, kennels must euthanize animals under guidelines governed by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The law says they also have to provide their animals with proper shelter, food and healthcare, as well as pay an annual license fee and be subject to inspections at least once a year.

They must also hold the dogs for at least five days before deciding what to do with them.

More blog coverage here and a Craigslist posting here.

If these allegations are true - and again, I'm not reading any denials - what part of "animal shelter" does this police chief fail to comprehend?  Stray pets are completely reliant upon the human caregivers who get them off the streets to provide them with quality care, food, clean and safe shelter as well as every possible opportunity for adoption into a loving home.  Homeless pets are part of the community we pay you to protect and to serve.  Personal responsibility, anyone?   

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Let's Play Oddball

Worker falls into dog food ingredient (some form of wheat) tank:
City firefighters rescued a man Monday at a pet food factory in the Lower Valley who was in danger of suffocating inside a tank containing a dog food ingredient.

Fire Lt. Mario Hernandez said eight units, including the Fire Department's special rescue unit, were dispatched around 11:19 a.m. to extricate the 49-year-old employee who was trapped "up to his shoulders."

Soooo - are they still gonna use the (now) man-less wheat in the dog food? Jes' wundrin'.

Sheepdogs assist with a little promo for Samsung

UK Wildlife Clinic that cares for a hairless squirrel now has a hedgeless-hog as well.

Swiss Zoo says baby Hippo not for tiger dinner

Man paralyzed for 20 years gets bitten by a brown recluse spider, walks again

Not quite up to Dune snuff, but giant sand worm fossils still interesting

Bird does your standard pet tricks and more

Arranged marriage for frogs in India with hope for rains

Oh crud, one of my pets got loose again

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SC Bill Helps Battered Women and Their Pets

When faced with a crisis, it seems normal to me to cling to our family/loved ones and our home. But when staying at home becomes part of the crisis, some pet owners hold on to their loved ones - including their pets - even more. We saw this during Katrina when some owners refused to evacuate because the shelters would not accept their pets. Lesson learned and many emergency shelters set up during post-Katrina storms allowed pets. The reasons battered women stay in their homes are more complex but similarly, they sometimes don't want to go to a shelter which requires them to leave their pets in a violent home. A South Carolina bill addresses this issue:
Under the bill, abused women seeking temporary restraining orders against abusive husbands, boyfriends and fathers of their children could ask a Family Court judge for custody of a pet, even if the abuser owns the pet.


“It’s something I feel we’ve needed for years,” said Nancy Barton, executive director of Sistercare, an organization that offers a variety of services for battered women and their children in the Columbia area. “We hear from women who say, ‘I need to leave, but if I do, I know he’ll kill my dog or my cat.’”

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 71 percent of pet owners entering domestic-violence shelters report that their batterer had threatened, injured or killed family pets.

Maine, New York and Vermont have enacted legislation to strengthen domestic-violence protective orders to include pets.

The bill being considered in South Carolina would apply to all kinds of pets, including horses and livestock.


“If there’s anything we can do to help lower the barriers that prevent women from seeking help, let’s do it,” [Vicki] Bourus [director of the S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault] said. “We’re not reaching enough of them as it is. Many of them just won’t leave those pets. And think of how helpless an animal is in the hands of an ill-intended person.”

Nationally, an increasing number of shelters for abused women have added kennels or created animal foster care programs in an effort to protect victims.

Read the full article here and don't miss the comments underneath from Idiot McStupidTalk and Friends.

If you are a SC resident, contact your representative to voice support for House bill 3117:

Sponsor: Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter

SC House of Representatives

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Long Arm of HSUS in NC

Although there was much coverage of the HSUS puppy mill raid and seizure of roughly 300 dogs in Wayne County, NC last month, a similar HSUS raid 3 weeks later in Lenoir County leaves some questions unanswered:
Rescuers have removed 50 dogs from a Lenoir County breeding facility after the owner was convinced that he had to shut it down.

A statement from The Humane Society of the United States said the dogs were living in substandard conditions in outdoor pens throughout the property.

Local officials inspected the property after receiving an anonymous complaint and found no evidence of intentional abuse, but the unidentified property owner voluntarily surrendered the animals.

The statement said the property owner signed a contract with local officials barring him from breeding any dogs in the future.

What I'm reading here is "anonymous complaint", "no evidence of intentional abuse", and I guess we are supposed to take the word of the HSUS regarding the "substandard conditions". And the owner was "convinced" to "voluntarily" surrender the dogs. Yes, I have questions.

In trying to find additional information, I came across this piece on WNCT but it was written by someone from the HSUS. In fact, all the articles I came across regarding this raid seemed to be taken from the HSUS statement. So does the HSUS raid NC "puppy mills" (what exactly is a "puppy mill" in legal terms?) and then report on their activities for the local news in NC now? At least they don't have their hand in legislating the rules dog owners of NC have to live by - oh wait a second:

"We will soon introduce legislation that will help to crack down on the cruel puppy mill industry in our state." [said Amanda Arrington, North Carolina state director for The HSUS.]
How soon is now?
North Carolina doesn't have a law regulating puppy mills – breeding facilities that mass produce puppies for sale. Legislation backed by Sen. Don Davis, D-Wayne, could be introduced next week, however.

Davis said the bill is still being drafted to make sure it is fair for reputable breeders, but the Humane Society of the United States, which organized Thursday's meeting, said the legislation could require oversight and a license for breeders with 20 or more adult females.

Here is a pdf of HOUSE DRH10581-RF-9. Excerpts from the House version:
  • "Commercial breeder" means any person who, during any 12-month period, maintains 15 or more adult female dogs for the primary purpose of the sale of their offspring as companion animals.
  • Prescribe the manner in which animals may be transported to and from registered or licensed premises.
  • Commercial breeders shall not breed female dogs less than 18 months or more than eight years of age and shall provide adequate veterinary care to the female adult dogs and their offspring. An adult female dog shall not be bred without an annual certification from a licensed veterinarian that the dog is in suitable health for breeding.
  • Commercial breeding operations shall be subject to inspection by duly appointed employees of the Department or by local animal control officers. In conducting such inspections, the Department employee or local animal control officer may inspect the records of the commercial breeder, the premises where animals are bred and maintained, and any animal used in the breeding program or their offspring. Denial of access to the commercial breeding operation shall be grounds for revocation of the commercial breeders license."
Senate Bill 460 (same bill) was introduced to the NC Senate earlier this month - pdf here.

This bill sounds alarmingly vague and intrusive. I most assuredly care about protecting dogs from cruelty but as in all things, we must respect the civil liberties we are entitled to as US citizens. We must not allow a so-called "Humane" Society to overly influence our local law enforcement agencies, our local free press and our state lawmakers. We the People are a compassionate, no kill nation of pet owners who neither need nor want a nanny state created by a fundraising group of direct-mailers. We are the real humane society.

Contact Senator Davis and let him know how you feel about this bill (current status: Referred to Commerce) and the apparent overreaching involvement of the HSUS in NC law enforcement, press, and lawmaking:

Senator Don Davis, NC Senate
300 N. Salisbury Street, Room 525
Raleigh, NC 27603-5925



Sunday, March 15, 2009

Update on Georgia Dogfighting Case

July 2008
The Appalachian Circuit District Attorney's office raided Mountain Swamp Kennels in Blue Ridge on Thursday morning, finding 22 pit bulls along with three dogfighting pits and "suspected dogfighting paraphernalia."
Information regarding White's kennels was initially provided to the Humane Society through its tip line, established by Norred & Associates in the wake of the Michael Vick dogfighting case. The tipster will receive $5,000 if White is convicted.

March 2009:
Epworth resident Glen Albert White will serve 10 years in prison followed by another 10 years on probation after entering a negotiated guilty plea to a number of charges including dogfighting, animal cruelty and sexual offenses.
The charges to which White pleaded guilty were 25 counts of dogfighting, 21 counts of cruelty to animals and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon contained within the first indictment; three counts of child molestation contained within the second indictment; and three counts of child molestation contained within the third indictment.

I'm assuming, although I don't know for certain, that with the guilty plea, the dogs are now owned by the authorities, if they weren't already. Since the guilty plea was entered on March 5, which was after the HSUS (sort of) announced its "interim" policy recommending individual evaluations for seized dogs in fight cases, I'm hoping the HSUS has been working with authorities to get these 22 dogs individually evaluated by someone experienced in rehoming bust dogs. I haven't found any information on the seized dogs nor any updates on the case on the HSUS website. If anyone knows what happened to these 22 dogs, please share whatever info you have.

It's great to put dogfighters behind bars (and in this case, a freakin' child molester to boot) but I still want to know what is happening to the dogs seized in these cases. Whether the defendant turns out guilty or innocent, the dogs should not be killed simply because of the crimes of which the owner is accused. Every dog deserves a fair evaluation.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Let's Play Oddball

I feed my addiction and you get to watch. Or read.

Buy couch, get cat free

Moose on roof in North Dakota

Dumbass in Myrtle Beach, SC has his pet Hyena "Bubbles" seized by authorities

Dead mailman's body misdelivered to pet store

Zoo chimp stockpiles weapons of minor destruction

Thai pachyderm procures peg leg

Eagle crashes through windshield on highway, everybody survives

Terrierman has Martha Stewart's unfortunately timed Tweets

This week's "There's a website for everything" link

Kid Safety and Dogs

I love this!

From Be-A-Tree.com:

Check out their website. It's full of great stuff.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Irish Court Orders Man Convicted of Cruelty to Fly Right

Often I lament the lack of follow up stories in the media because I am one of those who wonders how things turn out.  This case in Ireland does not lack for follow up but there appears to be inconsistent reporting (different outlets) on the fate of the dog. 

December 17, 2007 - an injured Pitbull was found in the trunk of a man's car at a checkpoint in Ireland. The dog was seized and the man charged with cruelty.

October 16, 2008:

A 51-YEAR-OLD man has pleaded guilty to cruelty to a pitbull terrier, which a judge believes had been involved in an organised dog-fighting ring.

Gary Griffin, Raheen Park, Ballyfermot, Dublin, appeared before Carlow District Court yesterday.

Mr Griffin claimed the dog had been used for fox hunting. However, Judge William Harnett said he suspected that the dog had been "engaged in animal fighting".

November 13, 2008:

The dog badly wounded in a case of animal cruelty in Carlow last September is to be put down. 

Carlow District Court ruled this week to grant the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal’s humane disposal of the dog because his injuries were so severe.
“I looked in the back of the vehicle and saw a dog which appeared to be a pit bull. He was very badly wounded, there were lacerations to his body and there was blood. He appeared to be in distress. I asked Mr Griffin if he was the owner of the dog. He said he was. I told him the dog appeared to have been badly treated and was in distress and that he needed to be seen by a vet,” she told the court. 

Gda Ruth said she seized the dog and brought him to a vet to be treated. The dog has not recovered well from the incident. 

Mr Griffin’s solicitor, Eoin O’Connor, said his client had instructed him that he had been hunting foxes with his dog and that had brought about the dogs injuries. 

“I would have the suspicion that he was engaged in dog fighting,” said Judge Harnett.

At first I wondered if this was a different dog because the date of the incident ("last September") does not coincide with the December 17, 2007 date reported elsewhere.  However, all the other details are the same so I figured it must be the same case with a date discrepancy.

March 13, 2009:

A man has been fined and ordered to behave or face jail for cruelty to a pitbull terrier which a judge believes had been used in a dog-fighting ring.

Gary Griffin (51), Raheen Park, Ballyfermot, Dublin, appeared before Carlow District Court yesterday.

Judge William Harnett also barred Griffin for life from ownership of any dog.

Garda Fiona Ruth said the dog was in a distressed state but was now in the care of the ISPCA.

So was the dog put to sleep in November or is he still living at the shelter?  At any rate, I'm glad the owner is not allowed to have any more dogs but not so sure about the good behavior IOU.  How well do those things work I wonder?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

HSUS Dogfighting Tip Line Busts in GA - Where are the Dogs?

December 29, 2008:
The HSUS’ animal fighting tip line was first established in the wake of the Michael Vick case so Georgia residents can easily report illegal animal fighting to authorities. Since its inception in January 2008, the Georgia tip line has received more than 1,000 calls, leading to seven raids and 11 arrests.
And the seizure of at least 92 dogs. My question is: Does anyone know what happened to these 92 seized dogs?

March 2008

The dogs —11 adults and five puppies— were seized this week by members of the Marietta-Cobb-Smyrna Organized Crime Intelligence Unit, Cobb police and animal control officers. Two men, Michael Sweeney, 45, and Erik Vann, 28, have been charged with 16 felony counts of dog fighting.

The tip that led to their arrests came through a toll-free number established in January by Greg Norred, founder of the Atlanta private security firm Norred & Associates.

"I'm just passionate about animal rights," Norred said.


He started the phone line with the Humane Society of the United States, which offers an award of up to $5,000 to callers whose tips lead to a conviction.

Does anyone know what happened to these 16 dogs?

July 2008

The Appalachian Circuit District Attorney's office raided Mountain Swamp Kennels in Blue Ridge on Thursday morning, finding 22 pit bulls along with three dogfighting pits and "suspected dogfighting paraphernalia."
Information regarding White's kennels was initially provided to the Humane Society through its tip line, established by Norred & Associates in the wake of the Michael Vick dogfighting case. The tipster will receive $5,000 if White is convicted.
Does anyone know what happened to these 22 dogs?

Johnny Stewart Johnson Jr. is charged with eight counts of felony dogfighting, said Capt. Mike Benner of the Madison County Sheriff's Office - one count for each of the seven pit bulls deputies seized Thursday morning and one count for having dogfighting paraphernalia.
Benner said Thursday's raid was the culmination of a two-month investigation into Shake Down Kennels. The investigation began when officials with the Humane Society of the United States called the Madison County Sheriff's Office about an anonymous tip the society had received.
We know that the dog owner was granted the return of one of the dogs but authorities quickly changed their minds in February 2009:

Madison County authorities again have seized a pitbull from a Danielsville man accused of dog fighting, overruling a citizen board's recent decision to return the dog to its owner until he goes to trial.

The county government confiscated seven dogs at Johnny Stewart Johnson's Shake Down Kennels on July 3, but the newly formed Madison County Animal Control Board voted in December to let Johnson have one of his dogs back.

The board's decision drew the ire of the Humane Society, which had investigated Johnson's operation for two months before the raid.

Does anyone know what happened to these 7 dogs?

August 2008

A Gilmer County, Georgia man faces charges in connection with an alleged dog fighting operation.


Officers seized 11 dogs, some with scars consistent with fighting.

Information was first provided to the Humane Society of the U-S via its tip line[...]

Does anyone know what happened to these 11 dogs?

October 2008
In Canton, Cherokee County deputies detained Randall Thaxton, 44, after a morning raid turned up “a significant pit bull breeding operation.” Roughly 30 miles north, Gilmer County officials arrested Ray Beavers, of Ellijay, for his reported involvement in the same dogfighting ring.

Two other Gilmer men may also face charges, said John Goodwin, manager of animal fighting issues with the Humane Society of the United States.

“We believe they’ve been involved for years,” he said.

The three raids Tuesday turned up 30 pit bulls, all of whom had scars consistent with dogfighting, said Greg Norred, who does the bulk of the investigative work on dogfighting — gratis — for the Humane Society.


Information leading to the latest arrests was provided to the Humane Society through its tip line, established in the wake of the Michael Vick dogfighting case.

Does anyone know what happened to these 30 dogs?

December 2008
A Floyd County man has been charged with felony dogfighting and misdemeanor cruelty to animals after six pit bulls were seized by animal control on Dec. 23, police said.
Police were notified by Floyd County Animal Control officers who had been called to the scene at 51 Jones Road. An agent of a private investigations firm, hired by the Humane Society, had done surveillance of the residence after he received a tip about possible dogfighting at the Jones Road address.
Does anyone know what happened to these 6 dogs?

Are these 92 dogs still alive? Who are the legal owners of these dogs? To my knowledge, no convictions have been made in connection with these cases so perhaps the dogs are still being held as evidence. Is the HSUS contacting authorities involved with the cases to advise them about their new "interim" policy recommending individual evaluations for seized dogs?

Treats on the Internets

Sports Illustrated has a new article on Michael Vick's possible return to the NFL.  Paws Up for including a bit on Leo but Paws Down for including PETA, who wanted Leo killed.

NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine is conducting a course in small animal nutrition in Raleigh on March 28.  I wish I could attend.  I never get bored of talking pet nutrition.

Opinion piece in the Winston-Salem Journal on the killing of the Wilkes Co dogs (scroll down)

AKC has an alert on a breeder regulatory bill in NC.

A kitten killer in Nova Scotia received a $5 fine which made me think of the kitten killer in NJ who got 5 years in prison.

A Texas man with previous convictions (unrelated to dogfighting) received a 7 year sentence when police broke up a staged dog fight on his property.  The two seized Pitbulls were killed.

Action alert:  Dogsbite.org is seeking tax exempt status with the IRS.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The No Kill Movement and Pet Population

This is not so much a commentary piece as it is a collection of excerpts designed to explore certain aspects of the No Kill movement. I hope it will inspire some readers to read and learn more about this important issue.

The Myth of Pet Overpopulation:

[Nathan Winograd] authored a book called "Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America" that challenges the very foundation of nearly every theory and principle of shelter management in this country: The idea that there are more pets dying in shelters each year than homes available for those pets.

In fact, with between 4 and 5 million dogs and cats being killed in shelters nationwide every year, denying the existence of pet overpopulation seems ridiculous. If there aren't more pets than homes, why are so many animals ending up in shelters in the first place?

Conventional wisdom tells us it's because of irresponsible pet owners who aren't willing to work to keep their pets in their homes. It's a failure of commitment, of caring, and of the human/animal bond. If fewer pets were born, there would be fewer coming into shelters. If people cared more about their pets, they wouldn't give them up so easily, would spay and neuter them so they wouldn't reproduce, and wouldn't let them stray.
But Nathan Winograd asks us to take a fresh look at these issues while keeping in mind one fundamental premise:

Winograd's argument is simply this: Based on data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, and the latest census, there are more than enough homes for every dog and cat being killed in shelters every year.

He breaks down the numbers further in the comments section here:

Current estimates from a wide range of groups indicate that between 4 million and 5 million dogs and cats are killed in shelters every year. Of these, given data on the prevalence of aggression in dogs in society (based on dog bite extrapolation) and save rates at the best performing shelters in the country from diverse regions and demographics, about 90% of all shelter animals are “savable.” The remainder are either hopelessly ill or injured or vicious dogs whose prognosis for rehabilitation is poor or grave. That would put the number of savable dogs and cats at roughly 3.6 on the low end and 4.5 on the high end of the spectrum.

But even at the high end, it means that we only need to increase the market for shelter pets by 2-3% in order to eliminate all population control killing. Today, there are about 165 million dogs and cats in homes. Of those, about 20 percent come from shelters. Three percent of 165 million equates to 4.9 million, more than all the savable animals being killed in shelters. This is a combination of what statisticians call “stock” and “flow.” In layman’s terms, some of the market will be replacement life (someone has a pet die or run away and they want another one), some of that will be expanding markets (someone doesn’t have a pet but wants one, or they have pets but want another one). But it all comes down to increasing marketshare (where they get their pets from).

These same demographics also tell us that every year about twice as many people are looking to bring a new dog into their home than the total number of dogs entering shelters, and every year more people are looking to bring a new cat into their home than the total number of cats entering shelters. On top of that, not all animals entering shelters need adoption: some will be lost strays who will be reclaimed, others are feral cats who need neuter and release, some will be vicious dogs or hopelessly ill/injured and will be killed, and so on.

Specifically addressing Southern shelters with our notoriously high kill rates, Winograd has this to say:

Building the capacity to save lives, after years of failing to do so, may take time, but that does not obviate the fact that shelter killing is a result of shelter practices and not "pet overpopulation." Furthermore, the argument that success in the South is precluded by some peculiarity of lack of caring is not only wrong, elitist and mean-spirited; it is simply another example of excuse making. It ignores success in rural Tompkins County. It ignores tremendous success being experienced in Charlottesville, Virginia, a community in the South. It goes against a study by a South Mississippi humane society that found 69 percent of people with unsterilized pets would get them spayed/neutered if it was free, a fact which is not surprising for a state with some of the lowest per capita income levels in the United States.

That is ultimately why the question of public vs. private shelter, urban vs. rural, or South vs. North is not relevant. The only relevant inquiry is whether the shelters are staffed by truly compassionate staff who are working tirelessly to rigorously implement the programs and services that save lives. And that is why any argument that "every community is unique" or its residents are particularly-or peculiarly-"irresponsible" is simply excuse making. The only relevant inquiry is whether the shelters are rigorously implementing the only national model which has achieved success-The No Kill Equation.

And for those who remain unconvinced, something:

But let’s put this aside. Let’s assume “pet overpopulation” is real and insurmountable. To do that, we have to ignore the data. We have to assume that groups as diverse as the AVMA, AAHA, APPMA, Animal People, the No Kill Advocacy Center, even HSUS who fundamentally agree on the range of numbers are all wrong. This is a stretch given that we disagree about most everything else. We also have to ignore the experiences of successful communities. We have to pretend they do not exist. How does this change the calculus?

Shelters nationally are killing roughly half or more of all incoming animals. That puts us at the 50 yard line. And although the evidence is fairly overwhelming to the contrary, let’s say the Naysayers are right and we can never cross the goal line because of “pet overpopulation.” What is wrong with getting, say, to the 20 yard line or 10 yard line? If all shelters put in place the programs and services of the No Kill Equation, the model which brought rates of shelter to killing to communities from San Francisco, CA to Ithaca, NY; from Reno, NV to Charlottesville VA, and points in between to all time lows, we can save millions of lives nationally, regardless if we ever achieve a No Kill nation. Even if you do not believe that a No Kill nation is inevitable as I do, that is worth doing and worth doing without delay. Because every year we delay, indeed every day we delay, the body count increases.

Additional reading:

Nathan Winograd's book "Redemption"

NAIA's "Redefining Pet Overpopulation"

"Pet Underpopulation" by Loretta Baughan

"What are animal shelters for?" on Pet Connection

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

HSUS Understands Birds; Dogs, Not So Much

What's the difference between fighting dogs and fighting birds seized by law enforcement? The HSUS is willing to let some of the seized birds live, based upon their age and gender.

The day after HSUS posted about the Wilkes County Pitbull seizure, they wrote about some birds seized in a cockfighting bust:

The birds' journey to a Texas sanctuary was as unusual as it was fortunate. Fighting birds seized from raids, both hens and roosters, are typically euthanized because of the difficulty of finding proper placement.

Like fighting dogs, birds bred and raised for fighting are too aggressive to be placed with other animals or in a community. Sadly, such was the case with many of the birds seized in the Ramsey raid, and all of the full-grown fighting roosters were euthanized.

The females, chicks and juvenile males were saved with the help of rescue groups.

Obviously birds and dogs are not the same animals. So it is not necessarily appropriate to compare them as far as adoptability. In general terms, dogs have been domesticated to be companions and in some cases, provide services (such as herding livestock) to man for thousands of years. They are commonly referred to as "man's best friend" due to their friendly and loyal disposition. Dogs are highly trainable, intelligent, adaptable and possess a strong desire to please - qualities which are used by trainers of formerly abused dogs in order to acclimate them to new lives as family pets. Dogs readily accept their human owner as their pack leader so long as the owner provides common sense training, discipline, and boundaries. None of these generalizations can be applied to birds used for fighting so to my mind, the dogs clearly have the advantage when weighing adoptability in these cases.

The HSUS takes a completely opposite stand however and is willing to let some of the seized birds live while recommending death for all the seized dogs - even the pups born after seizure, still nursing from their dams at the time the Wilkes Co case went to court. Rescue groups had offered assistance with the dogs and Best Friends specifically had offered to accept responsibility for the dogs, neuter them and evaluate them for possible adoption. The HSUS sent two representatives to court to make sure that didn't happen. They lobbied for the deaths of all the dogs.

There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding when it comes to HSUS and the disposition of seized fighting animals. How else could one explain the "rescued" animal treatment HSUS deemed appropriate for fighting cases reported just one day apart? If the HSUS does change their policy on bust dogs to mandate (not "recommend") individual evaluations by a qualified trainer, I will welcome it. But you'll have to excuse me if I call for the HSUS to stand aside as far as those evaluations go. Cos they don't seem to look at dogs the way I do. You know, as pets. As family members. As sentient beings deserving of compassion and care - not death. Maybe HSUS would be good at evaluating seized birds, I don't know. But clearly, they have no clue about bust dogs. Thankfully there are many people who do.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Let's Play Oddball

Trolling for bizarro animal related news stories is a total timesuck and yet, I can not stop...

Interesting story about an accident victim turned bird rescuer:
A US fireman who lost his power of speech in a traffic accident has been taught to speak again by parrots.

File this one under "...or are you just glad to see me?":
An Australian man was arrested after he was caught trying to bring two pigeons into the country hidden in his trousers.
And oh yes, there's a photo.


Cell battery dead? Never fear! All you need is 1000 hamsters in tiny jackets running on wheels.


Proof that there really is a website for everything.


Sad to report that the jaguar found and collared in AZ has died.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

SC BSL Proposal: Buttinsky Neighbor vs. Those Meddling Kids

Last month, I blogged about someone in Florence Co, SC who doesn't like her neighbor's "Pitbull type dogs" and so is requesting a breed (what breed?) ban. The Nosy Neighbor was scheduled to speak at the Florence Co Council meeting on March 5th but apparently bailed at the last minute and the issue has been rescheduled for the next meeting on April 2, 2009. The middle school students who were prepared to present a case opposing BSL have moved their presentation to April 2nd as well. It sounds like the kids have done their homework (ha) and will have a good anti-BSL argument while encouraging responsible pet ownership and education. Yay meddling kids! I'm rooting for you.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

SC: 10 Pitbulls Seized in Suspected Dogfighting Ring

According to this report, police in Darlington Co, SC found $5000 in crack and cash in a mobile home last week. Four suspects were arrested and they face drug related charges. Police are investigating if they might be involved in a recent drive-by shooting as well. All this seems pretty straightforward until you get to the part about the police seizing 10 Pitbulls from the property and calling it a suspected dogfighting ring. I'm expecting to read the standard fare: the dogs were evaluated by a Vet who described their injuries as being consistent with dogfighting, the suspects had "dogfighting paraphernalia" on the property, etc. But no, hang on to your hats:
Although the dogs are in good condition, investigators believe they were being bred to fight because of the conditions on the property and because they were being fed high-quality, high-protein food, [Darlington County Sheriff’s Sgt. Charles] Wright said.

Holy Boing-oing-oinging Eyeballs Batman!

I have no idea what "conditions on the property" refers to as the only conditions described were related to drugs. Maybe they had a fighting pit, bloody carpeting and a rape rack and police didn't reveal that, I don't know. But honestly, I hope it takes more than your dogs having a Hi-Pro Glow to get you busted on suspicion of dogfighting these days.

As always I want to reiterate, if these guys or anyone is involved in dogfighting, you are dead to me and believe me, you'll be thankful I'm not presiding over your case.

My problems with the seizing of dogs in suspected dogfighting cases are many:
  • The dogs are often housed in terrible conditions for extended periods while they are held as evidence
  • The owner often forfeits his rights to his dogs before he's had his day in court
  • The dogs usually end up being killed because groups like The InHumane Society get involved
  • If the owner is eventually cleared of dogfighting charges, he is left with no recourse unless he can afford an attorney to pursue the matter
We sometimes see questionable "evidence" of suspected dogfighting in these cases with common items such as treadmills, garden hoses and break sticks being cited. (Break sticks are common in homes with multiple Pitbulls and are used responsibly, in case of emergency, by many caring Pitbull owners who don't fight dogs; treadmills and garden hoses - well, duh.) This case is the first time I can recall the "evidence" of suspected dogfighting being dogs described as "in good condition" and being fed good quality dog food. Perhaps there's much more to the case that police are not releasing at this time but will be used in court. I don't know. I only hope these dogs aren't dead by then.

SC Shelter Kills Dog to Test for Distemper

Horry Co shelters seem to be continually closing due to Distemper outbreaks. The latest:

The Grand Strand Humane Society shelter in Myrtle Beach will remain closed to the public indefinitely as officials seek to ensure no more dogs contract distemper.

One pup of three that showed symptoms last week was euthanized so a brain-tissue sample could be sent to Clemson University for analysis. The results received late Wednesday showed the 3-month-old St. Bernard-mix turned in by a good Samaritan did have the airborne disease that shuttered Horry County's shelter twice and resulted in a mass euthanization at that facility.

But the other two pups, about the same age, seem to be recovering, Grand Strand shelter Executive Director Sandy Brown said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.


"They are so much better you can't even tell they were sick," she said.

Distemper is treatable, but there is no test for it that doesn't require a brain-tissue sample.

*sounds buzzer* Vets diagnose and treat Distemper all the time without killing the animal for a brain tissue sample. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, "the typical clinical case is not difficult to diagnose" and blood tests are used for diagnosis.

A Vet speaks on the recurring outbreaks:
Frank Murphy, vice president of the S.C. Animal Control and Care Association, a voluntary association that reviews best practices of shelters and makes recommendations for better operations, said last week when the Horry County shelter reopened that cleaning and disinfecting should take care of the virus. The Horry County shelter remained closed and empty for more than 30 days the first time it had an outbreak, and Murphy said the distemper virus could not have survived those conditions, even without cleaning.
Horry Co shelters seem to be able to kill everything but Distemper. I hope the animals - both the sick and the healthy -who rely on them for care fare better in this outbreak than in past.

Friday, March 6, 2009

HSUS Record on Dogfighting Bust Puppies

In 2006, 139 adult dogs and puppies - mostly Pitbulls - were seized by authorities in a Florida dogfighting bust.  Nineteen were killed on the spot.  Most were taken to Polk Co Animal Control in Winter Haven where twenty-four more were killed the next day.  Dozens of people called the shelter, wanting to adopt the dogs:

State law was clear about what would happen to the adult dogs. If they had been fighters - and the sheriff was saying they had been - they had to be put down. 

There was no policy for dealing with the puppies. [emphasis added]

There was some hope that once custody of the dogs was given to Animal Control, at least some of the puppies might be saved.  Six bitches had whelped litters since the seizure although most of the pups died on their own.  By the time the hearing on the disposition of the dogs went before a judge, the youngest pups were two weeks old.  Custody was granted to authorities:

Dogs that had been fighters had to be euthanized under state law. Only the puppies had a realistic chance.

A kennel staffer pleaded with her boss to allow a Pitbull rescue to take the pups.  At the very least, she asked if just one pup could be saved.  The Pitbulls were immediately scheduled for death:  

Friday morning came. They would go through the day and start the killing after the shelter closed.

A decision had been made about the puppies. Lt. Oakman had talked to Dr. Ertel, who had talked to the Humane Society of the United States, whose advice was straightforward: No fighting dog should be adopted out, at any age. 

There were several reasons, beyond the potential for aggression. For one thing, shelters were so overcrowded with pit bulls that only the best of the breed should be adopted out. For another, there was a chance dogfighters would recognize their potential and try to adopt or steal them. Euthanasia, the Humane Society said, was the kindest option.

So that was the policy the shelter adopted. [emphasis added]

The nursing pups were removed from their dams and sedated before syringe needles were stuck into their hearts so euthanasia solution could kill them.  They suckled on the shirt of the supervisor charged with killing them as they died.  Not one Pitbull was spared.  The supervisor had adopted one of the seized dogs, a Chihuahua, which she kept as a pet.  Read the detailed article here.

This case was in 2006.  In 2009, HSUS was instrumental in getting 146 seized Pitbulls - adults and pups, 19 of them born after the seizure - killed in Wilkes Co NC.  HSUS was asked about the pups who were born after the seizure and whether they might be spared.  Their memory is short:

John Goodwin, the manager of animal-fighting issues for the Humane Society of the United States, said yesterday that he couldn't recall a case in which puppies were born to dogs after the dogs were seized. Still, he said, such puppies would probably be euthanized if the owner is convicted of dog fighting.

"It's kind of tough with the puppies, because the characteristics that the dog fighters want are selected for by breeding," he said.

My memory is long.