Thursday, December 31, 2009

Memphis Animal Shelter Claims Another Victim

The lethal Memphis Animal Shelter added another sad story to its archives this week:

Rita Leone picked out a 10-month old Golden Retriever mix at the shelter December 26.

"He was very sweet, very friendly easy-going, calm dog," said Leone.

But when she showed up, cash in hand to take him home this morning, he was gone.

"I went to the cage," said Leone. "The door was open, no dog, the bed was flipped over, I said 'Oh my God!'"

Her dog had mistakenly been euthanized.

"I said what you did was wrong unacceptable, you have enough dogs in here that are homeless nobody wants. I'm willing to adopt this dog and you euthanize it?" said Leone.

Or, put another way, "You have enough unadopted dogs here to sate your thirst for killing and yet you gotta kill mine too?"

This poor dog who, for whatever reason, had an unlucky start in life, was fortunate enough to be adopted from a torture hole masquerading as a shelter. This should have been his best day ever. Instead, the shelter killed him.

I say again: This place needs to clean house and toss every employee who was not a whistleblower out on their asses. To quote Tiger: Huge.

Paws Up for Gwinnett Co Jail in GA

This is exactly the kind of program we need in the South:
With a sharp decline in inmate population over the past month, Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway plans to devote a portion of the county jail to save dogs' lives.

The jail will serve as a foster home for the Society of Humane Friends, a licensed pet rescue agency.

With six open housing units that can accommodate up to 72 inmates, the sheriff is devoting one ground unit to the program. He will assign a dog to each of the 10 inmates in the unit.

The dogs will have access to a fenced grassy area for exercise, Conway said, and trainers will come in to work with the inmates on grooming and training the animals. The program will begin as soon as he puts up the fence.

Yes, yes, yes! More proof that each of us can do a little something. And when we do, it adds up to a big something.

Ten dogs is not that big of a deal in terms of jail space, Conway said, adding that he is keeping 20 rescued dogs at his home.

No county money will be spent, and the Society of Humane Friends has already agreed to donate food and veterinary care, he said.

"I'm committed to either paying for it out of my pocket or through donations," Conway said. "This is great for the inmates. It will socialize the inmates as well as the dogs."

Dennis Kronenfeld, president of the local chapter of the Society of Humane Friends, said the program is already in correctional facilities in 17 states.

Everybody wins.

Thanks to reader Valerie for mentioning this story to me.

Kitteh Vids

I'm not a huge consumer of videos so I miss a lot but wanted to share these two:

Cat bowl
Tickle Me Kitten

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

I know it's customary to review the year, or in this case the decade, at the end but I'm not really a look-backer. Suffice to say that I hope every year is better than the last and ultimately I guess I see them as being that way either on their own merits or out of an abundance of optimism.

I hope we can save more pets in need in 2010 and I hope that fewer pets need saving. I hope more shelter workers embrace the idea of sheltering and trample the idea of killing underfoot. I hope owners who keep their dogs chained 24/7 make a space in the laundry room with a cozy old blanket for their dogs to come in at night and during bad weather. I hope every dog gets more walks and every cat gets more lap time. I hope more people get to experience the special bond between humans and pets. I hope we all have enough to eat and that we share our healthy table scraps with our pets. I hope the sick can be well again or at least have their spirits lifted by a shaggy head resting on the side of the bed. I hope we can love unconditionally, judge less and understand more.

I think 2010 is going to be the best year ever.

*Title quote attributed to Oscar Wilde.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dinner at Chez Dog

OK I made this awhile back and never dl'd the photo off the camera so here's what I think I put in this dish:
  • Manicotti stuffed with ricotta cheese, cottage cheese and carrots that had been put through the food processor, topped with shredded fresh mozzarella
  • Roma tomatoes, olive oil, and italian seasoning
It was my usual use-all-leftover-bits type meal and I remember I needed to use the manicotti because I was emptying the weevil cupboard.

Survivor: N. Augusta

I've got an idea for a reality TV show: Let's leave kids home alone with a dog and see what happens. It's already going on, so why not film the fun?

A pit bull attacked a 5-year old girl in the backyard of a North Augusta [South Carolina] home Monday, sending her to a local hospital.

It happened on the 200 block of Ashley Circle in North Augusta while the girl was playing in the backyard with the pit bull dog, when things turned violent.

The girl's 10-year-old step brother went outside and hit the dog multiple times trying to get the dog off the girl, but it didn't work.

When it didn't work, he went inside and grabbed a knife before coming outside and stabbing the dog multiple times in the back, according to Sgt. Dave Myers from the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

The dog didn't come off the girl, so the boy went next door to Ricardo Hill's home to get help.

"The boy next door told me the kid was attacking his sister," Hill said. "So when I got over there the pit bull was on top of the baby. So my first instinct was to get him off so I got a folding chair and hit him."

The dog then let go of the young girl's neck and ran out into the street bleeding, Hill said.

From another story on the incident:

The two were at the home on Ashley Circle and briefly without adult supervision when the attack occurred, deputies said. The adult at the residence had gone to the store, [Sgt. Dave] Myers said.


Officials said the girl is recovering and doing well.

The dog was picked up by Aiken County Animal Control.

At this time, the animal has not been put down, according to officials.

I can't wait to see what happens in next week's episode!

Worth repeating: Unsupervised kids=bad. Unsupervised kids + dog=also bad.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Garland Animal Shelter Gives Up Gas Chamber

Garland, Texas has an animal "shelter" that kills a lot of pets. Sometimes they admit pets directly into the gas chamber which is the killing method they prefer, since it saves 4 pennies per dead pet. There has been a struggle between the shelter and community to get rid of the gas chamber. The community has now gotten its wish and a local newspaper columnist is less than enthused:

Starting Friday, lethal injection will replace carbon-monoxide gas as the city's primary method of euthanasia.
But what a lousy victory. Because either way, almost 6,000 dogs and cats, puppies and kittens will still end up dead and in the city's garbage dump this year.
Right. That sucks. And while we can be happy that the gas chamber will no longer be used as the primary killing method, what we need to focus on now is how to decrease the killing. At least with the gas chamber issue resolved, we don't have to be continually sidetracked with the tired old arguments about how the AVMA hearts gas chambers.
Contrary to misimpressions you may have gotten, Garland has always been using a euthanasia method fully endorsed and approved as humane by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Oh geez.

In fact, as I talked to Garland city officials about this situation, they seemed eager for me to actually witness the gas-euthanasia process. And so I did.

Mention of carbon-monoxide euthanasia creates images of a crude hose-and-tailpipe contraption. In fact, the city uses a commercially built system – a stainless-steel box about five feet on each side, attached to industrial-type bottles of CO.

Oh well I didn't realize it was a commercially made gas chamber. That sounds lovely. Does it sparkle?

Animals are placed in separate cages (up to four at a time) and rolled into the box. I watched as a single animal – a 55-pound pit bull – was rolled in.

A glass door makes the whole process highly visible. And it doesn't take long.

The dog sat docilely, looking back at me looking at him. The gas quietly hissed. And in about a minute, the dog suddenly wobbled, his eyes lost focus and he toppled over.

It was sad, quick work. And I wished that this dog's lousy owner could have been forced to watch.

Since the column notes that the dog was picked up for roaming and was well fed and wearing a harness, how can you be so sure the owner is "lousy"? True, the owner did not reclaim the dog but then, this shelter does have a history of gassing pets within minutes of admission. I don't know how long this dog was held but in the absence of sufficient evidence to the contrary, I'm not ready to label anybody "lousy". Maybe the owner is in the hospital or maybe he doesn't know where to look for his dog. Maybe he is avoiding looking at the shelter because he knows it only as a place that kills 6000 pets a year.

The column's author watched this dog die and wished that the owner could have seen it. You know what I wish? I wish the dog could have been adopted out by the shelter, relocated to a shelter in another area where he could have been adopted or released to a rescue group. I wish he could have been lovingly cared for by those charged with sheltering the community's lost and homeless pets until a permanent situation could be found for him. I wish that he was, you know, not dead.

We've got to find a way to wake up irresponsible pet owners. Sentencing them to a day of death-chamber duty might be a start.
Blaming the public for the killing that goes on at the local shelter has never helped anyone. Yes there are irresponsible pet owners just as there are irresponsible Mothers, drivers and gun owners. They are part of our society but the ones who are willfully irresponsible are, I believe, a small minority. With education, public outreach and access to community services, many "irresponsible owners" will do the right thing by their pets. They just need a hand up. Less judgment, more understanding.

We are a humane society of people who care about pets. Join us.

Monday, December 28, 2009

When Will We Achieve No Kill?

I received as a Christmas gift the book Disposable Animals - Ending the Tragedy of Throwaway Pets by Craig Brestrup. I've only just started it but already I've come across a concept I wanted to discuss regarding who is to blame for the killing of shelter pets. So pull your chairs in a circle book club members, turn to page 17 and read along with me:
"The truly guilty, being the source of the problem, are those who choose to have animals without choosing to do so in a morally responsible way. That way would be to recognize the value inherent in the life of an animal and to actively respect it, to take charge of its reproduction, to recognize that to take in an animal is to take on a relationship of commitment for his or her lifetime. When we achieve that vision, the killing simply stops."
I try very hard to keep my mind open when I come up against ideas my brain hates. On the one hand, I can hardly disagree with the idea of people owning pets "in a morally responsible way". (While we're at it, how about everyone consuming the Earth's natural resources in a morally responsible way. And raising children in a morally responsible way. Etc.) But on the other hand, I have to ask if there is one widely agreed upon morally responsible way to own pets. I don't think there is. In fact, one of the tragedies of life is that every one of us believes he is a pretty good fellow all around. (I could say almost everyone if you want to include the rare few who know their actions are evil but choose to be that way.)

If we look at the specifics of the morally responsible way to own pets offered by the author, we are faced with many questions.
  • "Recognize the value inherent in the life of an animal" - This will clearly mean different things to different people. A farmer raising a pig for food will regard that animal as having value, as will a dog fighter regard his dog, and an apartment dweller regard his cat.
  • "Take charge of its reproduction" - In the case of someone who breeds his dogs as often as physically possible for the purpose of selling the puppies - he has taken charge of the reproductive aspects of the animals. Likewise with the owner who neuters his dog before the animal ever reproduces. Perhaps the intended meaning will become clearer later in the book, I don't know.
  • "Take on a relationship of commitment for his or her lifetime" - Does this mean every owner must keep every pet he takes on, even if his life circumstances change so significantly as to make keeping the pet impossible? If the owner screens prospective buyers and rehomes his pets when necessary, has he failed to meet his moral obligations?
Finally, the conclusion reached by the author "When we achieve that vision, the killing simply stops" seems, at best, unlikely to me. The idea that if we had a utopian society, everything would be swell sounds fine, but how is that applicable to reality? In real life, we will always have a need for shelters. Even if we sprinkle magic moral responsibility dust over all of humanity, we will still need shelters. People move/lose jobs/die unexpectedly. Pets slip out doors and dig under fences. Some pets end up living as ferals while others are born into it. Life is untidy. Just as there will always be a need in society to look after homeless/orphaned/lost children, the elderly and the handicapped, so will we need to look after pets.

And someone will work at one of those shelters and believe it is a "kindness" or a "necessity" to kill a healthy/treatable pet. When we have replaced all of those shelter workers with compassionate people who embrace the idea of no kill, when every community has implemented the No Kill Equation, when we stop blaming the public for the atrocity of killing shelter pets, when we learn to judge less and understand more - then the killing will stop. Not in a fantasy world but in real life. Not in some distant future but in our lifetime. It could happen today. We are a humane society and a no kill nation of pet lovers. Join us.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Lying about No Kill on the Web: A Tutorial

How to spread myths about no kill shelters on the internet:
  1. Compile a list of the most common lies spread by those opposed to the no kill movement
  2. Turn around and list them as facts
  3. Frame your article as if you are "dispelling some myths" when you are actually perpetuating them.
  4. Voila - Mission Accomplished!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

One of My Fave Xmas Songs

Wiki entry

Hector Rules

Hector, a rescued Pitbull formerly owned by that courageous hero Michael Vick, visited school kids in MN this week to help educate them about the breed. The article doesn't tell a whole lot but the accompanying photo is worth a thousand words. Maybe next week, Hector can teach the Eagles about real courage.

If Only in My Dreams

I hope one Christmas to be thinking about all the shelter pets in this country who are waiting for their future families to find them because we don't kill homeless pets anymore, we adopt them out. But that won't be this year.

From North Carolina:
When Brunswick County Health Department officials began considering whether to buy a new gas chamber to euthanize animals the county couldn't adopt, they knew they wanted one large enough for the shelter's largest animal cages.

A small chamber, Health Director Don Yousey said, would mean that at least some of the animals would have to be forced into the enclosure with a choke stick, a situation that would have been unnecessarily traumatic for both the condemned animal and the person charged with ending its life.


The need to euthanize animals because there are no homes for them is an unpleasant reality, but a reality nevertheless.

The "unpleasant reality" is that shelter pets are needlessly killed due to a widespread myth of pet overpopulation.

The Brunswick County animal shelter, for instance, takes in about 6,000 dogs and cats a year, Yousey said. Of those, about 5,000 must be euthanized because they are sick, injured, vicious, feral or just can't find humans to adopt them before their waiting time runs out.

That's an 83% kill rate. I believe Brunswick Co has forfeited its right to call its pet killing facility a "shelter".
The shelter uses both lethal injection and carbon monoxide poisoning, depending on the age of the animal and its physical condition as well as the potential safety risks to shelter workers. Puppies and kittens don't die well in gas chambers, and animals with respiratory problems might suffer needlessly there, so they get lethal injections, Yousey said.
Puppies and kittens don't die well in gas chambers. How annoying of them.
"A lot of animals we get down there, they are terrified with you being around, just because you're human," said David Stanley, the health department's director of environmental services[...]
Maybe they're terrified of you because you're not human. Maybe they are frightened by the stench of death in your slaughterhouse "shelter". Maybe they have seen their neighbors get dragged by "choke sticks" into the gas chamber and heard them scream as they struggle against the carbon monoxide.
"It's a horrible job," he said. "It's a thankless job. [Shelter workers] hate it."
You want to be thanked? Try directing your resources toward saving the pets you are supposed to be sheltering and not toward buying a super sized gas chamber.

We are a humane society of pet lovers. Join us.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pet Gifts: All I Want for Christmas is You

In my morning reading, I came across a Veterinarian offering a list of Christmas gifts for pets and astonishingly, there's more than one that involves giving money to Veterinarians. There's also the obligatory taboo on "people food" which is a pet peeve of mine. There is no such thing as "people food". There is food. We all eat it.

At any rate, I offer my own list as an alternative:
  • Bring your outside dog in from the cold or provide a warm outdoor shelter for him.
  • Prepare some homemade meals or treats (more recipes here and here). Most dogs love home prepared food. With cats, your mileage may vary but cat owners usually know at least a couple things their kitteh likes.
  • Spend some extra quality time with your pets. They don't care about presents really, it's your presence that matters to them.
  • Drop by your local no kill shelter and donate some canned food or your time. Shelter pets appreciate visitors.
  • Ask your local no kill shelter if they have a foster program for the holidays. Many shelters do and if you have the ability to care for another pet for a few weeks, you'd be giving a shelter animal the opportunity to get out of his cage or kennel and into a home. Even if it's temporary, it's a gift you can't put a price tag on.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Treats on the Internets

The No Kill Advocacy Center honors six no kill advocates with the Henry Bergh Leadership Award

Follow-up: The NY woman accused of torturing pets to death with her kids and charged with misdemeanors is now likely to be indicted on felony charges and as such, is being held on $100,000 bail

Oh, South Carolina!

Sad story in TX of the killing of an emotional support dog who belonged to a war hero - as is often the case, I doubt the penalty will fit the crime

Someone in MN thought it would be funny to glue a cat's paws to the highway

Action Alert: Some seized Pitbulls in a NM case have been reclaimed by owners, others have not and may be killed

FL high school kids make dog beds to get shelter dogs up off the floor


Not pet related: Snowflakes up close

Saturday, December 19, 2009

No Kill Action Alert for MN Residents

From my inbox, sent by the Animal Ark Online Community:

Following a report that the Animal Humane Society is violating Minnesota law by failing to hold all stray animals for the required 5 day period, Minnesota residents are being asked to contact members of their city councils to demand they enforce the law.

The Animal Humane Society contracts with nearly 2 dozen cities in and around the Twin Cities metro area (complete list is here). Furthermore, the Animal Humane Society accepts stray animals from private citizens whether or not they are the designated impound center.

Documented cases of have shown that Animal Humane Society will kill stray animals, without scanning them for microchips, without listing them in their lost & found system, and without providing possible owners any opportunity reclaim their pets. In one documented case, a heathy stray kitten was killed within 5 minutes of arrival at the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley.

In another case, the guardian of a group of cats arrived within hours of them being brought to the Animal Humane Society shelter in Woodbury. But the cats were already dead.

Residents are urged to contact the members of their city council and demand that they enforce the law. Additionally, everyone is asked to share this story with other residents in MN.

So long as Animal Humane Society continues to violate state, none of our pets are safe.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chicago Police Officer Charged with Animal Cruelty

Richard Kleinpass, a Chicago police officer, is being charged with seven counts of cruelty to animals after authorities seized five dogs and two birds from his weekend home:
[Kleinpass] called the charges against him an overreaction. The animals were safe and secure, he said.
Safe and secure in urine and feces apparently:

"I've never smelled anything like it," [investigating officer Joe] Manges said. "They were living in their own urine and feces."

Some of the dogs' teeth were rotted, and the animals are now on soft-food diets, Manges said. Others were suffering from skin diseases and were emaciated, he said.


Manges said police made several attempts to contact Kleinpass. After four days, police got a warrant to enter the property and rescue the animals, which they said were left without food or water. The home wasn't heated, and the temperature dipped to about 30 degrees at night, Manges said.

Kleinpass has forfeited the pets and they will be rehomed or taken to a no kill shelter. Kleinpass is under investigation for another matter by Internal Affairs and has been stripped of his powers as a police officer. He is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing next month.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Danville Area Humane Society Kills Pets, Wants More

Do you read/watch interviews and want to butt in to the conversation and question the answers given by the interviewee instead of just letting them slide? I do. This is possibly why Larry King never calls me back.

Michael Markarian, President of the Humane Society Legislative Fund has an interview posted on his blog with Paulette Dean, shelter director for the Danville Area Humane Society (DAHS) in VA who lobbies for anti-chaining laws:
About 10 years ago, we strengthened our adoption guidelines. We knew that it would be a controversial move since we have a high euthanasia rate, but we also knew it was the right thing to do. We were laying a foundation for the future. Adopted dogs cannot roam and be chained, and adopted cats must be kept inside.
*butts in* How "high" is your kill rate?

From the data provided on the shelter's website for the year 2008:

Intake: 2005 dogs, 3666 cats, 94 "other" pets
Returned to owner: 140 dogs, 26 cats
Adopted: 243 dogs, 142 cats

By my math, that makes the totals: 5765 pets in, 551 pets out.

Although no numbers are provided for how many pets killed, if we make an assumption that the pets who were neither returned to owners or adopted were killed, that works out to an approximate kill rate of 90%. So yeah, I guess I'd have to agree that the shelter's kill rate is "high", if by "high" you mean "insanely cruel". I can see why you'd want to restrict and thus discourage adoptions.

And the shelter director spends her time lobbying for anti-chaining ordinances? From the shelter's site:
The Danville Area Humane Society is thrilled to tell you that an ordinance was passed unanimously by Danville City Council tonight that bans the constant tethering of companion animals! As of July 1, 2010, it will be illegal to:

Tether a companion animal for more than 4 hours in a 24 hour period,
Tether a companion animal when the temperature is below 32 degrees
Tether a companion animal under 4 months old
Tether any sick or injured animal
Tether any companion animal to a fixed point. (specifics to be made public at a later date)

Well hurrah. I guess the shelter will take in even more pets after this ordinance takes effect. And presumably most all of those will be killed. How "humane".

The shelter's website is full of rhetoric against no kill and reads like a blame-the-public manifesto. The director admits in the interview that Danville "has the highest unemployment rate in the state, and also struggles with low education and high poverty rates." Knowing that, is it truly helpful to restrict pet ownership further by imposing ordinances many owners will be financially unable to meet, especially when seizing those pets means they will most likely be killed?

My feeling is that 24/7 chaining is cruelty and should be prosecuted as such. But chaining for 4 hours or to a "fixed point" (?) is something many responsible pet owners do who can't afford a fence. As long as quality shelter and clean water are provided, I'd certainly rather see a dog chained for part of the day by an owner who loves him than to see the dog in a garbage bag at the DAHS. That is, if we have to choose. And apparently, according to this shelter director, we do.

Treats on the Internets

You gotta have Faith

A USDA licensed exotic pets warehouse in TX was raided by authorities this week, more than 20,000 animals seized

Bo steals the show as he shows off his training during Oprah's visit to the White House

Article on TNR in IL and another on an effort to neuter feral cats in the UK and put them to work as critter control on farms

Small study indicates no difference in how much owners love cats adopted for free from shelters vs. cats adopted for a fee

Morris Animal Foundation survey finds cats suffer from a bad reputation

I just loop my leashes through the handle in order to dispense with the need for a collar so I'm not sure how useful this leash would be for me

I hate to hear about young dogs dying of cancer - this one was a successful crime fighter

Proposed "Caring for Animals" license plates in AR will cost extra but the money will go toward a spay-neuter program for low-income residents

OR program to send senior rescue dogs to live at youth correctional facility

Monday, December 14, 2009

Report on GA Shelters Reveals High Kill Ratios

Thank you to reader Valerie for pointing me to the Georgia Voters for Animal Welfare (GVAW) Survey of Animal Services in Georgia. The purpose of the survey was to obtain statistics from shelters and make the results available to the public. Valerie has posted the report in full on her blog. I will post some excerpts.

The main challenge to the collection of data was apparent apathy or refusal to participate on the part of animal control organizations and shelters in GA:

The primary limitation of this study is that, despite the enormous amount of time, energy and expense invested, GVAW is unable to produce a complete data set, a testament to the need for state-mandated collection of and public access to comprehensive shelter data. For example:

· 45 counties (28%) of the total 159 surveyed did not respond;
· 63 animal control units and/or shelters (32%) did not respond;
· 5 animal control units and/or shelters refused to complete the questionnaire citing
O.C.G.A. 50-18-70(e); and,
· 19 animal control units and/or shelters did not provide intake and/or euthanasia numbers.

In all, 84 animal control units and shelters either didn’t respond at all or didn’t provide intake and exit numbers as requested.

They did receive responses from 162 GA animal control units and shelters. Based upon those responses:
· 50 counties (31%) have no form of animal control;
· Total number of 2007 shelter admissions reported was 245,034;
· Total number of 2007 euthanasias reported was 152,297, representing an overall 62% kill rate;
· Based on the average number of animals killed per shelter, GVAW estimates there were at least an additional 105,000 animals killed in the non-reporting shelters, for an estimated total of 260,000 animals killed in Georgia shelters in 2007

The report loses focus on the need for mandated shelter statistics reporting by veering into the "pet overpopulation" myth and anti-tethering issues but the conclusions regarding the relevant shelter pet numbers are interesting:
Georgia is killing more than its share of companion animals in “shelters” that are funded by taxpayers. National figures on shelter kill rates are reported as low as 4 million and as high as 11 million per year. Using 2008 Census Bureau statistics, Georgia’s human population represents 3.2% of the national population. Factoring Georgia’s estimated annual kill rate of 260,000 shelter animals into a nationwide per person equation, Georgia’s pro rata share is 128,000 animals. Using this formula, Georgia is killing twice the national average.

Just to be clear, from where I'm sitting, even if GA was able to halve its kill rate of shelter pets, that would still suck for 130,000 animals a year. But it would be better than where the state, and much of the South, is at now. I hope GA shelters can get the ball rolling and start saving more of the pets they are charged with sheltering.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

SC: Robbers Steal Kids' Presents and Pet

Do not pass go, do not collect $200, just go straight to hell:
Amanda Henderson did not weep when she talked about the items someone took from her home, including the Christmas gifts she had purchased for her 13-year-old son.

But she wept when she talked about the 2-year-old family dog, a pit bull named Mala, the thieves had taken along with everything else.
Now what makes Mala so special, above and beyond the many stolen items?
Henderson, a U.S. Army staff sergeant, said that of all the possessions taken, the family pet matters the most.
Henderson, 33, said she and her husband, Patrick, purchased Mala in 2008 while the two were stationed in Nacogdoches, Texas.

Mala is special, she said, because within two months of the time they bought her, Patrick was gone.

"He passed away in September 2008," she said. "Because of that, Mala is beyond special to me and my son."
So to recap, these thieves broke into the home of a military family serving our country, took their stuff including the kid's Christmas presents - a kid whose father died just a year ago - and stole the family pet, whose sentimental value can not be measured.

The scumbags did leave two things behind that they brought with them so hopefully that will aid police in their investigation. Beyond that, to quote John Lennon, "Instant karma's gonna get you".

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Food Porn, Part Five

Thank you to reader Jess who turned me on to this addicting page on the historical feeding of Hounds. Lots of great excerpts to read from various sources and I will include a few.

From Stonehenge on the Dog (published 1887):
If Indian meal [corn meal] is employed, it must be mixed with water or broth while cold, and then boiled for at least an hour, stirring it occasionally to prevent burning. If it is intended to mix oatmeal with the Indian meal, the former may be first mixed with cold water to a paste, and then stirred in after boiling the latter for three quarters of an hour; then boil another quarter, reckoning from the time that the contents of the copper came to the boiling- point a second time.
Wheat-flour should be boiled from fifteen to twenty minutes, and may be mixed with the oatmeal in the same way as the Indian meal.
The flesh with the bones should be boiled for hours, until the meat is thoroughly done; then take it out and let it hang till cold, cut or strip it from the bones and mix with the puddings or stirabout according to the quantity required. The broth should always be used, as there are important elements of nutrition dissolved in it which are absent in the boiled flesh. It is, therefore, necessary to make the puddings or stirabout with it or to soak in it the biscuit, when this is the food selected. The bones should be given for the dogs to gnaw, together with any others from the house which can be obtained, but taking care to remove all fragments small enough for them to swallow whole.
Proportions given are two third puddings or biscuit to one third cooked meat, but the amount of meat should be reduced for growing dogs which have not much exercise. "Most people prefer a much smaller proportion of meat, especially for hounds, pointers, setters, and spaniels, which depend on their nose, this organ being supposed to be rendered less delicate by high feeding." It is also suggested that dogs which are fed two thirds pudding to one third meat require a great deal of green vegetables, which should be given once or twice a week during the summer to prevent their becoming overheated and getting skin eruptions. "Green cabbage, turnip-tops, turnips, nettle-tops, or carrots, as well as potatoes, may all be given with advantage boiled and mixed with the meal and broth, in which way they are much relished."

From the Kennel Gazette, November 1927, an exchange of letters regarding new-on-the-market "dog biscuits" (what we would call kibble now) vs. meat.

From the meat purveyor, seeing a business opportunity to sell meat to dog owners:
Dog biscuits doubtless have their merits, but meat is, without a doubt, a vital foodstuff in the diet of any animal whose digestive organs are of carnivorous design.
[I]f dog owners are being educated to the fact that dog biscuits constitute the best food for dogs, it stands to reason that the feelings of dog owners towards meat will shortly become more distant than ever.
From the dog breeder, in response to the meat purveyor's letter:
[T]he carnivorous appetite can be appeased by means other than the giving of fresh meat.
"For many years now, dog biscuits in one form or another have come to be considered the staple diet of a dog. There is good reason for the acceptance of this theory - or shall I say 'this truth'. Firstly, whether meat is a necessity or not, the most ardent advocate of meat will not deny that meat alone, no matter how much a dog likes it, would sooner or later become nauseating to the dog himself. A cereal food must accompany meat so as to provide the dog with a balanced ration, i.e. a ration complete with its complement of carbohydrates and protein, without which life itself cannot function on normal lines.
[A] dog biscuit is to a dog what bread and meat are to man - only more so! The cereal part of a biscuit includes most, if not all, of the wheat berry and other nourishing cereals. Added to these is an adequate quantity of sterilized meat. To feed a dog on biscuit, therefore, is to give a concentrated 'cereal-meat' diet, in easily digestible form. It does more. The hardness of a biscuit compels mastication and so ensures the dog using his teeth and jaws, and incidentally,the act of mastication releases saliva and other vital digestive juices, so facilitating thereby the process of digestion and assimilation. Meat is just meat - beef, mutton, or 'what not' are all more or less the same to a dog. Variety is lacking, and once again, this is where a biscuit holds the advantage.
"There are numerous varieties of biscuit foods. Some are for puppies and young dogs only; others are specially made for the adult dog. Some contain meat, others are plain. There are the square or round biscuits, and there are the broken kinds, commonly known as hound or terrier meal. From among the assortment available, there is no difficulty whatsoever in catering for any and every breed of dog and puppy.
"If meat must be fed, then see to it that a goodly percentage of the daily feed includes biscuit. I hold no brief for this or that biscuit, and the only reason I have for writing at length on a dog's food is to warn dog owners against the use of too much meat. There is meat in dog biscuits, and it is sufficient.

Previously in this series:
Food Porn (Part One)
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pig Ears and Cow Hooves Recalled

Due to possible Salmonella contamination:

The recall includes all pig ear products packaged under the brand names Doggie Delight, Pork Tasteez and Pet Carousel. The affected beef hooves were packaged under the brand names Choo Hooves, Dentley's, Doggie Delight and Pet Carousel.

All of the recalled products were distributed nationwide in both bulk and retail packaging for sale in pet food and retail chain stores. The company said all sizes and all lots of the pork ears purchased on or after Aug. 16, and all beef hoof products purchased on or after Sept. 16, are included in the recall.

Pet owners who have purchased any of the recalled products should take them away from their pets and return them to the place of purchase. Consumers with questions can contact the company at 800-231-3572.

Carrie Underwood Donates $200,000 to HSUS

What will Carrie Underwood's $200k be spent on?

It could almost cover the annual salary of HSUS' CEO/President ($207,000 per 2008 tax return) or could likely cover the salaries of either the Executive VP of Operations ($191,850 per 2008 tax return) or the Senior VP, International Prog. ($190,900 per 2008 tax return).

Unfortunately, Carrie Underwood's donation will fall well short of covering some HSUS expenses such as "Production Services" (Mersey Masala Inc was paid $278,555 by HSUS per 2008 tax return) and "Online Fundraising" (Donor Digital was paid $222,111 by HSUS per 2008 tax return). And $200,000 is merely a drop in the bucket for HSUS' "Direct Mail Service" expenditures (National Outdoor Sports Advertising Inc was paid $1,840,839 by HSUS per 2008 tax return).

Ms. Underwood made the donation because she reportedly cares about animal rescue and getting pets into homes. I'm sure she'll be delighted with the results of her donation.

Chit Chat

Random ramblings...

I watched the US premiere of the BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed last night. Did you? What did you think? I began coveting Cavaliers when I got to know one who boarded at the vet clinic where I worked 20 years ago. I've never met one since that seemed to be anything less than perfectly lovely. Unfortunately the health problems plaguing the breed have kept me away. As Billy asked me last night, "Do you think someone would ever consider breeding them specifically for good health?" I hope that there are indeed Cavalier breeders already doing just that. Of course I'd expect them to be blackballed by many breed fanciers and so perhaps hard to find. It seems a terrible shame that such a sweet and gentle dog should have fallen into the hands of people who care more about dog show ribbons than they do pain and suffering of the dogs.

Speaking of gentle creatures victimized by man, manatees are concentrated in the warm waters of the FL coast in November through March. If you are boating this winter, watch out for them.

Feeding dogs a vegan diet vs. a raw meaty bones diet - this article is not long enough to go in depth, but it brings to light the argument of cruelty on both sides.

If you enjoy the drawings of famed animator Chuck Jones, you'll want to check out his pet gallery on exhibit in San Diego this Sunday.

That's about all the chit I've got in my chat at the moment. Please feel welcome to chime in with your own randomness.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

VA: Beagle Shot and Killed by Animal Control Officer

I have a 10 year old Beagle. She is a great pet. Luckily we don't live in Chesterfield, VA:

Chesterfield police say an Animal Control officer was in the area and in the middle of putting a pit bull in his truck when Clifford [10 year old Beagle] came up to the officer. Davis [the Beagle's owner] said her dog has never bit a person or an animal. But Chesterfield Police Captain Steve Neal said Clifford was aggressive and attacked the pit bull. Attempts to separate the two said Neal were unsuccessful.
"He pulled the gun out and shot the dog. Shot him in the hip. The dog fell in the street. He couldn't get back up and then bent down, and put the gun to the dog's head, up against his head, and pulled the trigger," said Davis.

So I guess, after the first shot, which apparently left the senior Beagle unable to get up, the AC officer perceived him as a continuing threat to the Pitbull and felt compelled to shoot him in the head too. Right in front of the family, including a 13 year old girl who had grown up with the dog.

[A]n internal investigation is underway to determine whether the Animal Control officer [...] followed the law and procedure.

Well gee, I hope not.

TV Program Alert

Pedigree Dogs Exposed will be aired in the US for the first time tonight on BBC America channel. Check your local listings.

"Here lies one who loved us and whom we loved."

If you've ever loved a dog, or a kid, you should read this story from the Dogkisser blog.

Title from Eugene O'Neill.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Treats on the Internets

From the FDA: Pet Health & Safety widget for your site

Study finds turmeric and pepper compounds helpful in fighting cancer

Giant tortoise dies at French zoo, he was 146.

WI Greyhounds in need of homes due to racetrack closing will not be killed, contrary to online rumors

Some legal rulings in the ongoing battle over the BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed

Interview with the author of the book Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms

Video of Ray, a former Vick dog, doing agility and CGC work at Best Friends

Cow born without dollar sign on head

Richmond SPCA reports that Merial is doling out heartworm drug to those it deems most needy during shortage

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wayne Puts the Smack Down

You guys! Oh my god you guys! I heard from Brent that over on the Wayne's World blog, Wayne posted a note that he was passing around Mrs. Pigglewiggle's class in 4th period. And in that note, he says that Marcie has a big butt - AHAHAHA! I mean, he doesn't actually say Marcie by name, in case Mrs. Pigglewiggle would have gotten hold of the note you know, but it's totes obvious he's talking about Marcie. And not only that, but you know how Marcie is so uppity and all "I'm Class President" and stuff? Well Wayne's now saying that he's the Class President and he thought of the whole idea of having a Class President and he's gonna get us beer at the prom! Isn't he teh awesome?
OK Code 9. G2G.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Beef Recall Due to Salmonella

From CNN:

Beef Packers Inc., based in Fresno, California, recalled 22,723 pounds of ground beef products produced on September 23, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said in a statement. The labels on the beef include the establishment number "EST. 31913," the agency said.

The beef was repackaged at a distribution plant in Arizona, then sold under different retail brand names, the agency said. The agency's statement did not identify brand names.

Right. We wouldn't want to reveal brand names because that might hurt business. If only consumers had a government agency to look out for them the way corporations do.

The products were sold in Arizona and New Mexico, said Mark Klein, spokesman for Cargill Inc., which owns Beef Packers, Inc. Consumers in those states should check with stores where they purchased meat to determine if they bought the recalled beef.
Good old Cargill.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

No Kill Gift Giving: Outside the Box

My local no kill shelter, Animal Protection League of SC, has a wonderful gift idea for the pet loving friends and family on your Christmas list. From their newsletter:

Honor Loved Ones This Holiday Season with a Black Pearl Gift
Make a donation in someone’s honor or memory, and we will send your gift for you.
The APL holiday sponsorship program is focusing once again this year on our Black Pearls—those beautiful, lovable black dogs and cats who end up in shelters across the country in disproportionate numbers and who are statistically more likely to be euthanized than their brown, gray, orange, white, or mottled counterparts.
The APL has worked for years to draw attention to the plight of our own Black Pearls. In 2007, we even won a grant from Maddie’s Fund for dramatically reducing the black cat and dog population at our shelter through adoption.
By giving Black Pearl gifts this holiday season, you can honor or memorialize a loved one, bring attention to the plight of these precious animals, and support the mission of the APL—all at once!
This year, we have two Black Pearl gift options: for a donation of $50 or more, we will send your honoree either a two-toned cotton tote bag (19" x 15" x 6") with the Black Pearl logo printed on both sides or a shirt, black or white, with an embroidered Black Pearl logo in the contrasting color. Each gift comes with a letter explaining the Black Pearl program.
To honor or memorialize someone, fill out the sponsorship form and mail it in along with your donation. Order by December 19 to ensure local delivery by Christmas. Out-of-town deliveries may take longer.

Another swell gift idea comes from Pets Alive, a no kill shelter in NY:

Want to give someone the gift of a dog this holiday season, without the responsibility of feeding, walking, and cleaning up after the dog? Did you know that shelters fill up in January with puppies and kittens that have been abandoned by people who can't handle the responsibility of caring for them?

We have the answer. With GiveADog you can give someone you love the joy of following one of our rescued dogs on his or her journey from being alone in a shelter or foster home to the Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary facility to his or her forever home.

The person who receives your gift gets a thank you card and when they choose their dog, a beautiful certificate announcing that they have saved that dog.

They also get an account at GiveADog where they can go to follow the progress of their dog. Once or twice a week they will get email updates about their dog as he or she embarks on the journey to a forever home. Their personal page has the current status of their dog, pictures of their dog, notes about their dog and a place to communicate with us about their dog. They can even see videos of their dog.

I love hearing about innovative ways no kill shelters help pets all year round. If you hear of others, please share.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

HSUS Relies on Bloggers for Moral Compass

"The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest and most effective animal protection organization...". And by "effective" I assume they mean "morally bankrupt".

  • In 2007, HSUS doesn't realize it's wrong to ask donors for money to care for Michael Vick's dogs - which they did not have in their possession - while simultaneously advocating to have all the dogs summarily killed. But when called on the carpet about it online, they quickly 86'd the money seeking campaign.
  • For years, HSUS doesn't realize it's wrong to use their influence and money to get all bust dogs killed. But after the dog blogs erupted in protest earlier this year over the killing of the Wilkes Co, NC dogs and public outcry rose to a level which threatened their donation stream, HSUS turned around and changed its policy on bust dogs to include evaluations.
  • This week, HSUS doesn't realize it's wrong to use images of Fay, a rescued bust dog whose bills are being paid by someone else, to ask donors for money so HSUS can "save thousands of animals like her". Let's be clear - HSUS didn't spend one red cent on helping Fay, they just used her to try and get money for themselves. I call that a swindle. But when bloggers raised a stink over the deceptive fundraising plea, HSUS pulled an "Oops, don't expose us as frauds again and make our donors aware - here have some money".

Each time HSUS gets exposed for their swindling, they hit back. Remember the lengths they went to trying to quash the expose done by ABC News in Atlanta?

So I ask, do they truly not realize what they're doing is wrong when they do it but only see the light after bloggers make a fuss? Or do they know what they're doing is wrong but go forward anyway figuring that bloggers can't catch them on everything and they'll continue to rake in the cash from unsuspecting donors in the meantime?

Is one scenario worse than the other? I can't decide. But for myself, I can't afford to donate to every animal cause out there so I have to choose carefully when it comes to who gets my support. I choose my local no kill shelter. I visit them in person with my donations and spend time with the dogs while I'm there. I can see first hand the kind of care the dogs get and I don't worry that they are just photos on a flyer being used to sucker me into sending a donation. They are real pets, being cared for by real people, and I feel good about making a small contribution toward their care. I wish I could do more. But at least the shelter workers there know the difference between right and wrong without repeatedly having to be called on the carpet for their shady practices. I wish I could say the same about the country's "most effective" animal advocacy group, HSUS.

We are the real humane society. Find your nearest no kill shelter here.

Added: KC Dog Blog weighs in on HSUS throwing money at the Fay debacle.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Treats on the Internets

Oregon DA surprised that a judge gave a woman convicted of starving her horses 30 days in jail because usually there is no jail time for animal cruelty

HSUS up to its usual deceptive fundraising shenanigans

From Our Pack - article on helping a dog develop good dog manners

Christmas related:

Today only: Dogswell offering a stocking stuffer treat for your dog

Fun online dog themed advent calendar

The idea of getting shelter dogs into homes for the holidays is becoming more popular

Gift ideas for your No Kill friends and family

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Just Sayin'

If you've ever tried to engage a religious zealot who knocked on your door to convert you in a reasonable discussion of the "Live and let live" principle, you know the meaning of pointless. They are driven to show the world that everybody else is wrong, they're right and good news, you can - and absolutely must - join them (unless you want to burn in the eternal fires of hell).

You know what group reminds me of those people? Cesar Millan haters.

If you think Cesar Millan is Satan incarnate, yippy damn skippy for you - have a balloon. Whatever. You don't have to watch his show, read his books or say anything nice about him ever. But seriously, if you feel compelled to go frothy on every e-mail list, forum or blog post that mentions the man's name, you might want to consider changing the channel in your brain once in awhile. This is getting really old.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What is there a sale on jumper cables?

At one of his HSUS sponsored whitewashing engagements, Michael Vick says he would like to have dogs again, "more than anything in the world":
He said he's hopeful one day he'll have a dog again. "I don't know when that day is going to come. It's up to my judge at his discretion," he said.

Maybe the HSUS will recommend to the judge at some point that Vick should be allowed to have dogs again, I don't know. But it wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Added: Apparently Vick denies electrocuting dogs, despite evidence to the contrary.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What's So Funny 'bout Peace, Love & Understanding?

What's so scary about not killing shelter pets?

Unless a pet is medically hopeless and suffering, I don't understand why considering alternatives to death is such a difficult concept to embrace. It's true that some dogs will be deemed dangerous by shelters but even for those dogs, sanctuary options may exist - why not seriously consider those options when death is the only other card left in play?

Why do so many of us seem to be stuck in old-think even as we say we support new ideas?

Old-Think: There is a pet overpopulation problem in this country.
New Idea: There are enough homes for all the shelter pets in this country and pet overpopulation is a myth.
I refuse to consider this New Idea: Fine then - any objection to at least trying to improve matters and kill fewer pets?

Old-Think: Breeders and irresponsible owners are to blame for pets being killed in shelters.
New Idea: Shelters do not have to kill pets in their care. Instead of laying blame, they can reach out to the community to improve the situation by offering low/no cost neuter services, TNR programs and adopting out pets.
I refuse to consider this New Idea: OK so how is the Blame Game working out for you so far - any improvement in kill ratios?

Old-Think: There are a limited number of spaces in shelters, rescues and foster homes for homeless pets so some pets must be killed in order to make room for others.
New Idea: The no kill community is growing, not remaining static. New spaces will continue to open up for pets in need as we continue to expand our movement.
I refuse to consider this New Idea: Change=life. Absence of change=death. If you're living, your world is changing. Join us.

Old-Think: Dogs deemed "dangerous" must be euthanized.
New Idea: Many people (myself included) are not qualified to determine if a dog is truly dangerous. A qualified individual should conduct a fair evaluation of a dog in order to determine the next step in rehab training. Evaluation is not a pass/fail, life/death test. It is a step in the process of helping a dog.
I refuse to consider this New Idea: Well hopefully you will at least network with rescue groups and release the dog to a qualified rescue if such an offer is made. No one wants to kill a dog when a reasonable alternative exists, right?

Title hat tip to Elvis Costello:

(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding

As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin' for light in the darkness of insanity.

I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
There's one thing I wanna know:
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?

And as I walked on
Through troubled times
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
So where are the strong
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.

'Cause each time I feel it slippin' away, just makes me wanna cry.
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?

So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.

'Cause each time I feel it slippin' away, just makes me wanna cry.
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?