Friday, July 31, 2009

Mice Krispies

Lip Smacking Good

Name That Animal

(Answer contained in photo file name)

I can't help myself. I just love this little guy. The alien eyes, the sticky-out tongue, the disproportionately large digits... I can has kissy?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wrong and Wronger


The DoggieLoverDoll is a sex toy for male dogs.
Sorry, no vid.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Death for Underperformers?

Dear Michael Vick,

Is it ok to kill dogs if we feel they are in some way "underperforming"? Maybe a rescue dog underperforms in an evaluation, for example - exhibits fearful behavior during the test. Or maybe a competition dog underperforms in the venue of the owner's choice, for example - doesn't win.

Considering that you have never publicly expressed remorse nor accepted legal responsibility for the cruelty you inflicted to your dogs, and taking into account the USDA report on your criminal case, I assume your answer is an unqualified YES. To use your words, "They got to go".

But what are the best methods for killing dogs? I know you personally have employed hanging, shooting, electrocution, drowning and repeated body slamming to kill your dogs. But now that you've partnered with HSUS, I'm wondering if you still feel those are the best methods or if you've been influenced to believe that an injection is more appropriate? Or should I say, an injection after a dog has been given an unfair evaluation which determines he should be killed, preferably after farming the dog out to a third party so the blood is not on your hands?

If my assumption that you remain in favor of killing underperforming dogs is wrong, please let the public know in clear terms. And if that is the case, definitely get as far away from HSUS as you can, since their actions would seem to be at odds with your changed beliefs.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The NFL Straps Youth of America to Rape Rack

Michael Vick has been reinstated by the NFL. That is - the dog torturing, dog fighting, dog killing Michael Vick, who has never publicly expressed remorse for the horrific cruelty he inflicted upon his dogs, is once again primed to be in a position as role model to young people everywhere.

The NFL can suck it.

Let's Play Oddball

Dogman vid - now enhanced!

Female bear smarter than the average

Blind dog has guide dog

Should we impose a ban on canaries now?

Poacher's trap left baby elephant for dead but Cambodian rescuers saved him with a prosthetic foot

Oh honey, I do

Pet eagle not interested in your stupid human tricks

Dog translator comes with answering machine

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What is a "Puppy Mill"?

Although I'm not prepared to put as much thought into this post as would be required to answer such a question, I am ready to put down a few thoughts on the subject. I'm sure at some point I will add on to these and hopefully eventually come up with an answer, albeit a subjective one, to my own question. Perhaps this can be viewed as an installment series or some similarly lofty sounding endeavor.

To me, dogs are pets. What constitutes living a good quality life as a pet is interpreted differently by individual owners. For me, it means living in the house as part of the family, and receiving daily personal care, exercise, discipline, affection, and good food. I can however, understand how another owner, for example someone who keeps a dog to protect his sheep from predation, might specifically want his dog to live primarily outdoors. So long as adequate shelter is provided in conjunction with meeting the personal needs of the dog I mentioned previously, I can agree that this is good quality life for a pet, even though it's different from my personal choice. Similarly, I can imagine other variations outside my individual choices where the dog is ultimately treated as a member of the family and as such, I would agree that the dog has a good quality of life.

There are some practices though that fall so far outside my comfort level, I view them not just as different but as cruelty. In a broad sense, that would include any dog who is not treated as a member of the family. Specifically, a dog who spends most of his day to day life unattended in a cage or kennel, on a chain or roaming the streets. Keeping the area of confinement clean, while a good practice, does not make up for the dog's social deprivation. Nor does putting out a bowl of food for a dog allowed to roam the neighborhood - again, good practice to feed a dog regularly but that doesn't make the dog a family pet to my mind.

This is not strictly a numbers issue for me. I can envision a family with plentiful resources being able to provide a good quality of life for a large number of pets just as I know that an owner of a single dog can be neglectful. Put another way, where numbers come in is anytime there is neglect. If a family is neglecting some or all of their dogs, there is a problem. If a breeder is neglecting some or all of his stock or pups, it doesn't matter to me if that breeder produces 2 litters a year or 2 litters every 10 years - there is a problem.

What I think would be helpful:

Educate the public about responsible breeding and buying including the importance of having a personal relationship with the breeder and the benefits of getting a shelter dog.

Encourage more responsible breeding. The demand for responsibly bred dogs far exceeds the supply. This is the main reason people I know have turned to pet stores - they couldn't find the pet they wanted in a shelter and/or were turned down by rescue and/or didn't want to be placed on a lengthy waiting list with a responsible breeder with no guarantee of getting a pup ever. My vision is to increase the supply of responsibly bred pups while promoting the benefits of adopting shelter dogs. If we could convince the public that these are the two best ways to obtain pets, we could reduce (eventually eliminate?) the demand for pet store pups. It's not like it's a hard sell: going to a shelter saves a dog's life in many cases and buying from a responsible breeder means having a personal relationship with someone who cares about what happens to their pups enough to screen buyers and provide support for the life of the dog.

I know lots of people hate these ideas. Some people are stuck on the "don't breed or buy while shelter pets die" mantra. The reality is that, while we can and absolutely must do everything possible to promote shelter adoptions, some owners will not adopt from a shelter. Rather than ignore that fact or condemn those folks, I'd rather provide them with an alternative: buy a responsibly bred pup. Right now, there are not enough of those and so people turn to other sources. I'd like to increase the supply of responsibly bred pups.

Other people hate the idea of promoting breeding for pets. Breeders who compete with their dogs often consider the only justifiable purpose of breeding to be the production of more competition dogs with "pets" being a leftover effect. The reality is that most owners do not want competition dogs - they want couch snugglers, jogging partners, ball chasers, etc. Ignoring that fact or condemning those folks to wait indefinitely on your waiting list in case you have a "leftover" at some point in future drives people to other sources.

I often use a personal experience as an example. I once wanted a Papillon. In fact I'd still like to have a Papillon someday (in case you are reading Santa). I checked every shelter in my area for a Pap or even a Pap-ish mix - no luck. I applied to Pap rescue but the number of applicants far exceeded the number of available dogs and honestly, the process seemed humiliating to me. I am all for screening buyers but there has to be some reasonable limit on that. My experience turned into a competition - literally. I bowed out. I inquired to several responsible breeders but it was explained to me that Pap breeders are breeding to supply themselves with a new pup. Sometimes they make an agreement with the stud dog owner to give a pup in lieu of stud fee. As such, one or two pups from each litter were already spoken for. Since Paps have small litters and many breeders have just one or two litters per year, the best I could hope for was to be placed on a waiting list and perhaps in some future year, I might get a call about an available pup. I didn't want a Pap in some future year, I wanted one at the time it was appropriate in my life. Should I be condemned for wanting a Pap within a reasonable time frame? Should I be condemned for not taking a shelter dog instead? I know some people would answer "yes". For the record, I did end up adopting a shelter dog instead. But I know more than one person who has turned to alternate sources when faced with the situation I was in - they bought from pet stores or irresponsible breeders. Like me, they wanted to rescue a dog or buy from a responsible breeder but the supply fell short of the demand. I do not condemn them. Rather, I want to see the supply of responsibly bred pups increased in conjunction with education about the benefits of rescue.

OK obviously my random thoughts did not wind up answering my title question. Good thing I said that "installment" thing at the beginning. I'll try to answer my question eventually and I hope if you have some answers, questions, or random thoughts, you'll join in the discussion. I always enjoy hearing different views.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Emily's Cancer Returns

My little dog Emily is of unknown age but presumably "old". She had some tumors removed from her mammary chain in 2007 and recently a couple more have appeared. We took her to the Vet today and her blood work and chest x-ray looked pretty good. She has a heart murmur (Grade 2 or 3 of 6) but otherwise ready for surgery next month to get these latest lumps removed.

We had her blood glucose checked on suspicion of diabetes as she seems to be so hot all the time lately, drinking lots of water and urinating often. But that was normal, so that's good. I'm guessing that perhaps because she is now almost completely deaf, she is generally more anxious, causing her body temperature to increase, which causes her to drink more water and in turn, urinate more frequently. I noticed she is now scared of thunderstorms, which didn't used to bother her, and I attribute that to the hearing loss as well.

At any rate, she's still full of piss and vinegar and I always say about her, "Hate keeps you young".

Friday, July 24, 2009

HSUS + Vick, Up in a Tree

To be honest, I thought HSUS would back out of this stunt before it got off the ground. Apparently not:
"He's going to be contributing to our anti-dogfighting campaign next week." Pacelle said of Vick, who vowed to spread the Humane Society's anti-dogfighting message with inner city teens. Pacelle refused to elaborate on further details.

Refused to elaborate. Gee, what a promising start. I'm all like, filled with hope n' stuff now.

Although HSUS tried to set it up from the outset as a "no way WE can lose" situation, not everything is about HSUS. To me, this is about a pile of dead dogs. Dead dogs whose blood is on the hands of HSUS and Michael Vick and others who are directly responsible for killing dogs abused in fight rings. Vick tortured and killed dogs, HSUS has historically done it "cleanly" by going to court and "advising" shelters to kill bust dogs, even puppies still nursing from their dams.

Now that both Vick and HSUS have been busted for their dog killing (Vick by the justice system, HSUS by the court of public opinion), they want to say they've changed. And they're teaming up to stop dogfighting. Sorry but - cover your ears children - no fucking sale.

My parents taught me that the first step in righting a wrong is to make a sincere apology. Not a "sorry I got caught" apology but an unscripted "I'm sorry for what I did because it was wrong". I haven't heard anything of the sort from either Vick or HSUS. Vick offered a vague apology of sorts at the time of his guilty plea but there was no mention of the dogs he tortured and killed. HSUS of course - *crickets*. (Although they do have the audacity to demand Vick demonstrate sincere remorse.)

I am by nature a forgiving person. I think most people are. If I hear an apology from someone and it feels sincere to me, I am eager to forgive. That doesn't mean I forget, it means I am open to hearing whatever comes next. As of the start of these shenanigans with HSUS and Vick teaming up to stop dogfighting, I am so not there. All I can see is two remorseless peas in a pod, with dollar signs in their eyes and blood on their hands.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Treats on the Internets

LA shelter gets grant from the HSUS for a new death room

Go Senator Franken!

Rescue help needed for 400 dogs seized in multi-state dogfighting bust

Newspaper article examines the practice of shipping shelter dogs from the South to MN

Attorneys try to keep beach in La Jolla suitable for seals

Adoptable: Seems like he'd be a pretty good dog (Richmond, VA)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Has a Cute

I used to volunteer at the NE Aquarium in Boston. We had only male sea lions so I never got to see a baby. Obviously I missed out.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cleveland Co Animal Control Sux

A kitten in NC was recently rescued from a storm drain by AC:
Little “Lucky” will never realize how fortunate he really is.

Right. Because he's dead.

Backstory: After getting the kitten out the drain, AC slated him for death because of a bass-akwards policy which mandates the killing of any stray without proof of Rabies vaccine. That would mean definite death for "Lucky" who wouldn't be old enough to get a Rabies vaccine, even if he had an owner. And obviously most strays aren't carrying their proof of Rabies vaccines in their purses when picked up by AC. I guess that explains these sad stats:

Cleveland County Animal Control's annual report for 2007 through 2008 reads that out of 6,750 animals at the shelter, 6,249 were euthanized.

According to that report, nine animals were adopted from the shelter and seven were adopted by the [Cleveland County] Humane Society. While the numbers are low, Lockridge said animal vaccinations and the county's high rate of rabies are part of the reason.

Because of the publicity Lucky's rescue received, there was a public outcry over the idea that he would be killed. Authorities relented and granted him a six month stay in quarantine at the Cleveland Co Humane Society (CCHS). But Lucky never made it out of AC. He apparently became ill and was left to suffer in his cage until the President of CCHS came to pick him up:

“He was curled up in a box, kind of lifeless,” Mebane said, describing Lucky. “That poor kitten was just left there in a cage, all alone, dying. No animal should have to lay there, left to die. We went straight to the vet and he died at the clinic.”

The vet that examined the kitten found him to be dehydrated, with white gums and a dangerously low body temperature.


“He was so weak that he could barely stand up on his own,” [Veterinarian Deanna] Moseley said. The kitten went into respiratory arrest and died."

Since it presumably took several days for the kitten's condition to deteriorate so badly, I would think someone would be held accountable. But it looks like all the locals involved are expert players at passing the buck:

Moseley conceded the county is limited in what they can provide to animals taken into the shelter.

Mebane agrees.

“It's unfortunate that animal control isn't set up to provide veterinary care,” she said. “It's not their protocol.”

Sam Lockridge of Cleveland County Animal Control was unable to be reached for comment.

Moseley coined Lucky a “survivor,” but noted his story is just another scenario that happens locally on a daily basis.

No one person or group in particular is responsible for Lucky’s death, Moseley said.

So I guess that's that. No harm, no foul. Unless you mean Lucky, or any of the other 6249 pets killed by Cleveland Co Animal Control in recent years. In which case: meh.

Added, 7-22-09: The Rabies vaccine policy mentioned with regards to Lucky:
“Policy will not allow us to sell someone a stray, unvaccinated animal,” said Sam Lockridge, coordinator of health services with the Cleveland County Health Department.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Case Update: Walker Co Humane Society in AL

Couple of updates:

No gag order has been imposed in the Boost case but the surveillance videos I linked to previously have been removed. Thankfully we still have access to the truth here and here.

You're so lame, you probably think this blog is about you.

Someone who didn't pass creative writing in high school has made herself up a webbysite:
Walker County Law is a site dedicated to featuring attorneys located in Jasper, Alabama in Walker County, Alabama. Attorneys featured on this page are here because they have performed outstanding or noteworthy deeds in the recent past.
The attorneyS featured on the site amount to a grand total of one - the attorney representing Boost's owner. I think the page intends to discredit the attorney and his client. Hard to tell from the jumbled mess o' words (I'm still trying to work out "the Imoral Boost"). But what's really a funny coincidence is the page is a twin of looks kinda pretty much exactly like the Walker Co Humane Society website. I assume only high level staff have access to the shelter's web design. What are the odds, ya know?

HSUS Advises Shelters How to Kill

HSUS has a pdf for shelters titled "Selecting Animals for Euthanasia". It details 4 pages worth of guidelines. Let me repeat that: Four pages of guidelines on selecting shelter pets for death. On the plus side, I found a sentiment I can support:
Although euthanasia decisions should never be completely without subjective opinions and the ability to make choices based on individual animals, written guidelines provide some parameters for employees to work within.
As for minuses, there are many. HSUS lists the following as factors in euthanasia consideration:
Animals who are very young when they arrive at a shelter may not receive much needed developmental experiences and may not have the ability to fight off diseases that can exist in a multi-animal environment like a shelter.

So maybe it would be best to kill them? Alternate plan: shelter foster program.
For liability as well as ethical reasons, most animal shelters euthanize any animal who exhibits aggressive or dangerous behavior.

Aggressive behavior as determined by whom - the people doing the killing? Alternate plan: Attempt to retrain the pet under the guidance of a qualified individual or seek a sanctuary appropriate for long term care.
Non-aggressive behaviors, such as fearful actions or demeanor, destructiveness, or housetraining difficulties, can be a barrier to an animal staying in a lifelong home. These behaviors should be diagnosed to determine severity and should be discussed with potential adopters if an attempt is made to place the animal. There is no benefit to adopting out an animal who will just be returned to the shelter or resigned to a worse fate (i.e. a cat put outside because he doesn't use the litterbox).

A cat who isn't consistently using his litterbox in his cage at the shelter might be better off dead? Alternate plan: Place the pet up for adoption, offer litterbox counseling and ongoing support. Cat owners are pretty capable and so are cats. Maybe we could give everyone the benefit of a doubt before we start killing.

When determining adoption or euthanasia policies regarding certain breeds, it is important to evaluate your community for dogfighting-related activity and to ascertain which types of animals or breeds may be at risk for involvement.

The shelter staff is supposed to evaluate their community for "dogfighting-related activity" and decide if certain "types of animals or breeds" should be killed based upon this? I'm not at all sure shelter staff is qualified to make this type of assessment of their community. I suppose the potential for activity related to dogfighting (which is what, exactly?) might arguably exist in any community. How is that a justification for killing certain dogs? Alternate plan: Screen adopters appropriately and provide follow up support.

Animals who have been ordered for euthanasia at the direction of a judge, hearing officer, or other public official with such authority. [Euthanasia] is performed to comply with this ruling.

They left out the part about how the HSUS has historically wielded all possible influence to obtain those court orders for killing in the case of dogfighting seizures. Alternate plan: Use your powers for good, not evil.

Animals who are extremely shy, timid, high-strung, stressed, or distressed. [Euthanasia] is generally necessary due to an unlikely chance for successful adoption and/or adjustment into a new home.

Many pets in shelters are understandably stressed and not exhibiting their normal behavior. So it might be "necessary" to kill them instead of adopting them out and giving them a chance to live a normal life in a home? Seriously? Alternate plan: Get these pets into homes with normal people.

These guidelines indicate a 1999 copyright. Time for an update perhaps?

I am thankful for the option of euthanasia to end the suffering of medically hopeless pets. Killing healthy/treatable pets in shelters is not euthanasia to me. It's just killing. And it can't be rationalized, justified or guidelined - no matter how many pages HSUS devotes to it.

We are a no kill nation of pet owners who want shelter pets to be given every reasonable chance at adoption. We are the real humane society. Join us.

Update, 7-21-09: I received a tweet yesterday from someone apparently affiliated with HSUS thanking me for bringing this doc to their attention and stating it was outdated and they removed it. They haven't removed it as of this morning. I requested a link to the current version of the doc but haven't received a reply. Will update if any response is received.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Let's Play Oddball

Pet themed towel holders: thanks, but I'll pass

Ever look at an elephant and think, "I could totally take him in an eating contest"? Me neither.

I love bunnies too but this lady has a problem.

Boy in China can see purrfectly in the dark

Fairy Penguins get sniper protection in Sydney

Dog: Do not eat

Panda elephants

Rescued budgie had seaworthy ambitions

Adult version of "The dog ate my homework"

Fat pet rabbit wants to watch her stories

Little mama dog nurses baby red pandas

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Tigers Come at Night

Nathan Winograd dreamed a good dream about a statement from HSUS regarding the current multi-state bust dogs:
The Humane Society of the United States wants to assure everyone concerned over the fate of these dogs that we are doing everything in our power to provide unconditional love and the best care possible for the victims of these crimes. Their welfare is our utmost concern, and every action we take on their behalf will be guided by compassion for their plight, respect for the lives, and an unwavering commitment to ensuring we find them a safe, loving environment, in which to spend the rest of their lives. We know that rescue groups often have stretched resources. We know that shelters, like the Humane Society of Missouri, also have to care for the daily influx of dogs and cats in their shelter. So as the nation’s largest, richest, and most powerful animal protection organization, we are stepping up to the plate. If any rescue groups have the capacity to help, we’ll welcome it. But rest assured: we will not allow a single one of these dogs to lose their lives. However long it takes, however much it costs, we will save all the puppies. We will save all the dogs. And if any are aggressive, we will undertake a comprehensive rehabilitation. That is our pledge to them. And that is our pledge to you.

Maybe someday that dream will come true. I don't know but I'm open to the possibility. I would love it if it came true today for these dogs and for all the dogs seized in cases that haven't gotten so much media attention. They are not forgotten.

As I've said before, once HSUS has saved as many bust dogs as they've killed in the past, I'll consider them at zero. They will have, at that point, earned an opportunity to start the pendulum swinging in a positive direction. Right now though, they are in the hole. Deep. And talk is cheap.

[Note: Title is a lyric from "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables]

Boost Video

The Walker Co Humane Society Shelter Director kills friendly dogs and then lies to cover it up.

Surveillance video from the shelter documents the last minutes of the life of a friendly Boxer named Boost who was killed at the Walker Co Humane Society in May 2009. There is a view from the parking lot of Boost being taken out of a carrier, a view from the shelter lobby of him being walked inside, and a view of his dead body being wheeled out the back door in a shopping cart.

Boost's owner has filed a civil case against the lying Shelter Director. The Shelter Director's attorney is trying to obtain a gag order in the case to prevent Boost's owner from telling his story and to get the video proof removed from the web.

Not so fast.

Thank you to my friend John Sibley for editing together this video and helping to get the truth out to the public.

Tech notes: Embed code appears at end of vid. Size of the vid can be adjusted by changing the height/width numbers in the embed code. Keep same proportion for best results. (IOW reduce or increase both numbers by the same factor.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Case Update: Walker Co Humane Society in AL

You know how sometimes, whatever the reason, you come across something that leaves you feeling like you've been kicked in the chest?

You may remember the story of Boost, the Boxer who got loose and was turned in to the local shelter by good Samaritans in Walker County, AL. The shelter director killed him immediately and so the owner's heart was broken when he showed up promptly to redeem his pet. The shelter director's justification for the killing:

"The dog would not come out of the carrier so we had to use a capture pole. That is when he became aggressive.”

She further hinted that Boost tried to bite someone at the shelter.

Lies, damn lies and lying shelter directors who kill dogs:

  • Surveillance video from the parking lot shows Boost being taken out of the crate. (about 1:00 mark)
  • Surveillance video from the shelter lobby shows Boost being brought into the shelter (about 1:00 mark)
  • Surveillance video from the shelter kennel area - well it shows a shelter worker pushing a shopping cart containing a trash bag out the back door before turning out the lights for the day. [Insert run of curse words here.]

The video seems to confirm what the couple who turned Boost in to the shelter claimed - that he was not aggressive and no catchpole was used. It also might confirm my suspicion that the dog was brought in near the end of the day and the shelter director didn't feel like doing her job so she killed the dog instead of making a space for him. And then made up a story to cover her lying ass when the owner showed up to redeem his pet.

There is a legal case regarding this matter which I will continue to follow with interest. In the meantime, I can't help but wonder how many friendly dogs this shelter director is killing today. Or yesterday. Or tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Treats on the Internets

NY cat owner attributes pet's death to Nutro food

Dogs get your point

Ferris, TX Animal Control directed to kill, kill, kill

Cats and their whore-purr

Pet supplements: Buyer beware

Nathan Winograd explains why the rescued Pitbulls from the recent multi-state dogfighting bust deserve more than death

Veterinarian Q & A on canine influenza

Salt Lake Co Animal Services launches Bully Breed program in an effort to reduce killing at its shelter:
76 percent of all adoptable dogs that must be euthanized [at Salt Lake Co Animal Services] are pit bulls.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What's Going on at the Putnam Humane Society?

The Putnam Humane Society (PHS) in Carmel, NY has a sign on their building which reads "Kindness, Justice and Mercy to all Living Creatures". The shelter has been dealing with a legal battle regarding a dog named Hunkie whom the shelter Board voted to euthanize after two biting incidents. A shelter volunteer has taken legal action to adopt Hunkie in an effort to rehab the dog under a strict set of ground rules. The case is awaiting a ruling from a judge I think but it does bring to mind questions about whether the dog came to the shelter with aggression issues or developed them during his time at the shelter. I don't know the answer but it would be interesting to find out in light of another report from the same shelter regarding additional dogs with aggression issues.

In this case, the shelter requested a comprehensive shelter evaluation from Cornell University's Shelter Medicine Program. Among the report's findings:
  • The organization's by-laws and mission statement have failed to adequately define its "No-Kill" policy.
  • The shelter does not currently have definitions and guidelines for determining which animals are adoptable and unadoptable.
  • There is no formal behavioral assessment for dogs.
  • The shelter keeps dogs with severe behavior problems for prolonged periods of time.
Among the recommendations for the shelter, many are about killing pets:
  • [E]uthanasia will still be necessary for humane reasons for animals with terminal illnesses, severe behavior problems, or who pose a threat to the safety and/or health of people or other animals.
  • It is inhumane for shelters to refuse to euthanize an animal because of a "no-kill" policy if they do not have the resources available to provide appropriate treatment and ensure a good quality of life.
  • Adopt specific protocols to keep the number of unadoptable dogs entering the shelter to a minimum. (For strays: Unadoptable dogs should be euthanized following any legally required holding period[.] For owner-surrenders: Unadoptable dogs should not be accepted by the shelter.
  • Animals with the following conditions should not be accepted by PHS for placement. (List includes dogs with history of resource guarding, high prey drive, bite history to humans, and animals with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes)
  • Euthanasia is indicated for the following animals: (List includes dogs adopted and returned for aggression, dogs with history of aggression, resource guarding, high prey drive, and bite history)

Detailed instructions for killing aggressive dogs follow. There are also a number of pages in the report devoted to breaking up dog fights.

These recommendations are puzzling to me in that, to my mind, they reflect a philosophy the opposite of no kill. In fact, they seem far more in line with the antiquated thinking which has resulted in society becoming accustomed to the killing of healthy/treatable pets as the norm. That is, the wrong thinking which those committed to no kill strive to overcome.

As disturbing as it is to read recommendations made in a general sense, it becomes downright tragic when the report gets into specifics on the dogs at PHS:
  • Thirty-seven of the 47 dogs being housed at PHS during our visit had been there longer than one year. Of these, twenty-seven dogs had been housed for longer than two years, and 15 dogs had been housed for longer than 5 years.
  • The behaviors observed during our visit indicate poor welfare of many of the dogs housed at PHS.
Eight dogs are cited as exhibiting abnormal, repetitive behaviors such as severe spinning and another eight are characterized as extremely fearful/aggressive. One wonders how these dogs got to this unfortunate state. The report seems to answer that question by detailing how the dogs live their lives, day in and day out, year after year at the shelter (I'm paraphrasing this section):
  • 17 hours a day in a 6' X 4' run with almost no human interaction, 15 of those hours in total darkness
  • 7 hours a day in outdoor pens with some, but not all, dogs receiving occasional human interaction such as a walk
  • Behavioral enrichment and aerobic exercise: little to none
  • Most dogs can see other dogs at all times which increases stress
  • The high anxiety and abnormal behavior displayed by the long term residents negatively impacts new arrivals and is particularly hard on small dogs, perpetuating a cycle of stressed out dogs
Obviously this shelter is not set up as a sanctuary where dogs can live for years, having their daily needs for exercise and human interaction met. It's designed as short term housing for dogs on their way to foster homes, permanent homes, rescue or sanctuary. And yet these dogs not only don't seem to be going anywhere, they seem to be going crazy. The report's recommendations for all these dogs with behavioral issues seems to be: Accept no responsibility for how these dogs got to this point and just give up:
  • Behavior modification is unrealistic and inappropriate for the severity and duration of aggression exhibited by many of the dogs housed at PHS.
Couldn't we at least try? Bloody hell, aren't these dogs owed at least that much? There have been many dogs, notably the Vick dogs but others too, who have received substandard and/or abusive treatment for years and, when given an opportunity to live a normal life, take to it quite well. Why recommend the shelter give up on these dogs when it appears that the shelter has at least played a role in developing the behaviors? Perhaps an answer, from the report:
  • These dogs compromise the shelter's reputation and public image.

21 dogs are designated as having a bite history. I don't know how the bite history was determined for all these dogs but it doesn't appear clear that the individual dogs have each had an opportunity to be evaluated by a canine behaviorist. Presumably a behaviorist would make recommendations for behavior modification and a program implemented with periodic re-evaluations made on a case-by-case basis. I see no evidence of that. In other words, I see no documented efforts of any kind to help these dogs. The report basically states that any such efforts would fail and "disposition decisions" need to be made for these dogs. And I say, if that's your attitude, why are you involved in no kill?

I don't know what has happened or will happen to the poor dogs described in this report. There has been a recent change in the Board but I don't know what, if any, effects this change will have. In the meantime, I will be keeping a good thought for "Kindness, Justice and Mercy to all Living Creatures" at the Putnam Humane Society.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Treats on the Internets

Pet food rabble rousers (No biscuit!)

Lack of animal control in rural IN

A most excellent story about a "Seeing Eye dog for the mind" in WSJ

SC rescuer is a one woman show

NC Senate Bill 460 seems to have stalled

Friday, July 10, 2009

What's in a Name?

Just ask People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. See they get that you want to sound like you're a bunch of "people", not monsters, who believe in "ethical treatment", not killing, of animals. That's the way to reel in normal people and garner support for your "cause", not total pet extinction plan.

Unfortunately for local government officials in Mumbai, India who attempted to offer a kill solution to the city's stray dog problem, they failed to receive support for their mass slaughter plan:

The large building in Deonar, a suburb of Mumbai was built in 2000 as a “killing center” for the homeless dogs that live on the streets. Local government officials (BMC) had gone to the Bombay High Court to obtain an order that allowed the mass killing of these stray dogs. In preparation for an easy win in court, the BMC built the new facility ahead of time.

But in a surprise twist of fate, the High Court turned down the city’s plan and instead gave the center to an animal rights organization called IDA India with the directive to begin a comprehensive spay and neuter program.

The group moved into the "kill center" and instituted a massive TNR style program for the street dogs. And they've expanded their services with plans for continued growth.

Kinda makes me wonder if PETA's killing center in VA - where they kill nearly every animal they get their icy hands on - was renamed appropriately to reflect the actual work done there, would people still support them?

Welcome to the premiere pet slaughterhouse in the United States, home of Monsters for the Killing of Pets. Please follow me as we tour this state of the art kill facility. Afterwards, we'll have wine tasting outside the Piggly Wiggly dumpster walk-in freezer. Please leave your donations to help us further our efforts.

More on Large Scale Seizure of Suspected Fight Dogs

This article ups the number of dogs seized in the recent multi-state dogfighting bust to 378. And a dark cloud looms over their heads:
"It's just unclear what will happen," said Wayne Pacelle, head of the Humane Society of the United States. "I think it's pretty certain that a lot of those dogs will not pass a behavioral test."

Is there like, an HSUS crystal ball o' death? I don't know how such an outrageous statement could be made within days of the dogs being seized. They haven't even had a chance to get into a routine of full bellies and caring human interaction within their holding facility.

The Humane Society of Missouri, helping to evaluate many of the dogs, again makes an ominous sounding statement:
[Debbie] Hill, incident commander at the Humane Society of Missouri's emergency shelter, declined to discuss specifics from the ongoing case. But she recalled a dogfighting operation broken up in Stoddard County in October 2007. It was, in many ways, easier to deal with because it paled by comparison: three men arrested and 26 dogs seized. One beagle was adopted out. But of the remaining 25 pit bulls, about 12 had to be euthanized, Hill said.


Obviously, I'll be following developments with interest.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Let's Play Oddball

California's Dept. of Fish and Game partners with HSUS

Don't tase me bro!

Fore! (plus four)

Prairie Dogs: We laugh at your escape-proof habitat!

Proper Dog Grooming, including perfume

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Suspected Dogfighting Raids Yield 200 Seized Dogs

Raids conducted in Missouri, Illinois and Texas, per CBS News:
Authorities have arrested about 30 people and seized about 200 dogs in dogfighting raids Wednesday across three states, the Justice Department said.
The release from HSUS lists even more states (Iowa, Oklahoma and Arkansas).

The Humane Society of Missouri is helping in the evaluations for the dogs:

While they are being cared for, each dog will be evaluated by animal behavior experts from the Humane Society of Missouri and other organizations to determine their suitability for possible placement with rescue groups or individual adopters. The Humane Society of Missouri will make recommendations about each animal to the U.S. District Court which will make the final decision for each animal.

“We are committed to giving dogs who have come from such horrible abuse the absolute best chance for a good life,” said Debbie Hill, vice president of Operations for the Humane Society of Missouri and director of the temporary shelter. “It is a tragedy that because of mistreatment by humans for financial gain and so-called sport, many dogs used in animal fighting may not ever be able to be placed in a home situation.”

But not too "many", I hope.

Dangerous Dog Congress?

The Dangerous Dog Congress website is full of sensationalized images of "dangerous" dogs while promoting an event to be held in November in Toronto:
The most significant animal policy event of the century, delineating evidence-based peer-reviewed solutions to the problem of dog-human attacks

The keynote speaker at the event is Adam Goldfarb from HSUS and the host is a company called Dog-Trax which appears to sell some sort of dog bite tracking software. The folks at indicate the person behind Dog-Trax, Tamara Follett, is a dog breeder. In fact the Dangerous Dog Congress site says:
As a long-time owner and breeder of one of the most aggressive of the protection dog breeds, Tamara is uniquely qualified to assess the practicability and fairness of existing controls on dangerous dogs, and to propose additional controls which specifically target the source of the problem – not specific breeds of dogs, but any dog at high risk of attack, as well as irresponsible owners and breeders.
This seems to me to be saying Ms. Follett is an owner/breeder of a very aggressive breed of dog and that specific breeds of dogs are not aggressive. Make sense? *Head: Wall*

Anyone who can shed any light on this event or the folks involved, please share.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Case Update: Seized Pitbulls in AL

What has happened to the 45 Pitbulls seized from two locations in AL last month? It was reported that one of the men charged pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and resisting arrest. I haven't seen any additional information about the other owner's case. Since the one defendant's case is closed, and it was reported that he surrendered all 25 of his seized dogs, I made some calls to see if I could find out any information on their current status.

Good news: I was told by the DA's office that some rescue groups had contacted HSUS regarding the dogs and offered to take them in for rehab and adoption. And that the judge did not need to make a ruling regarding the disposition of the dogs since the owner voluntarily signed them over to the county and HSUS had custody of the dogs. The 20 dogs belonging to the second defendant are still being held, pending the outcome of the legal case.

At this time, I don't have any other sources of information on the dogs so if you have any details, please share. I will continue to follow the story as things develop.

Jane You Ignorant Slut!

A 10 year old boy was killed in Rusk Co, TX after being bitten by two Pitbulls last month. From what I gather reading the news stories, the area apparently had no leash law and the dogs were roaming unsupervised. A terrible and preventable tragedy.

The two dogs were killed by the county and charges are pending against the owners. As is often the case after such an event, things have spiraled out of bounds:
The family of Justin Clinton is now asking for tighter leash laws in Rusk county and trying to get pit bulls outlawed completely in Texas.
The family calls their mission "Justice for Justin." They're [sic] goal is get Texans to sign a petition that would outlaw pit bulls in Texas.
The notoriously biased blog has picked up the story and now the goal seems to have leaped from a statewide Pitbull ban to uh, America:
Among those attending the protest was Cynthia Kent, a Tyler attorney who served for several years as a district judge in Tyler.
She and others vowed to take the fight to ban pit bull dogs to the national level. Mrs. Kent said she would speak with U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Tyler about the prospect of national legislation.
The court also adopted a resolution calling for the banning of pit bulls throughout the nation.

Oh and they adopted a leash law for parts of Rusk Co. (in case anyone sensible is still reading).

Leash laws and humane confinement of dogs make sense. So does pursuing legal action against owners who violate those laws. Banning an entire breed because of the actions of some irresponsible owners and the tragic consequences which follow is illogical. Breed bans do not work.

If you live in the 1st Congressional District of TX and want to contact Rep. Gohmert, he has an e-mail form here. Hopefully he will hear from some folks educated on the issue. I'd hate to think the only person contacting him is Mrs. Kent.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Shelter Adoption: The Feel Good Hit of the Summer

The Poodle and Dog Blog has a good post about a man who turned in 5 puppies to a MN shelter claiming to have found them in a box on the road. The local news picked up the story and all the pups were quickly adopted. Turns out, the pups were his daughter's and he had brought them to the shelter from her home:
Since she lived outside the city limits, he was afraid the shelter would not take them.
The father confessed that he made up the story.
But I have to wonder at the fate of the puppies if there had been a non story of a man bringing in a litter of puppies that his daughter couldn’t find homes for.
Since there are obviously many people who want a dog if they know one needs a home, maybe shelters and local media could work together to find creative ways to market dogs when they don’t come in with an exciting story.

Good thinking. It seems like we often hear shelter staff berating the public in the media for failure to neuter their pets and thus, deflecting the blame for killing adoptable pets. And well intentioned rescuers regularly bombard e-mail lists and forums with dire pleas on behalf of shelter pets indicating they will be killed within X hours if no one steps up.

All this strikes me as negative, same old, same old, failed tactics that have gotten us to this point in time where it's become "acceptable" to kill healthy/treatable pets in shelters. The fact is, as illustrated in the story above, people want to help pets in need. The public doesn't want to be blamed, chastised or otherwise made to feel guilty - and even if they did, that approach is not working.

Pet owners need education and access to affordable spay-neuter services. They need help learning about low cost alternatives to providing "ideal" care for pets during hard economic times. They need to feel that their local shelter is a clean, safe, humane facility where they could bring their family to look for a pet or surrender one if it comes to that.

Although not every shelter pet comes with a dramatic rescue story, the public can and should still feel good about adopting. "Feel good" is built-in to any adoption story and shelters need to make the most of that. How shelters use the media to help get pets into homes is up to them. Seeing the overwhelming response from people wanting to help the box o' pups is encouraging. But clearly, the blame game is an epic fail.