Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Transparency is a Good Thing

I'm all for government transparency and accountability. That's why I was glad to come across this bit from Best Friends:
Animal welfare advocates around the country shouted a collective “hallelujah!” last month when the unbelievable finally happened: USDA inspection reports were put online for all to see. Instant access.

It should have been the case all along, but previously, the USDA made the process of viewing breeders’ inspection reports so convoluted and time consuming that it was difficult for those in the know to get them, much less a curious potential puppy or kitten purchaser.

Reputable pet breeders have nothing to hide when it comes to compliance with the law. Now potential buyers can look at USDA inspection records with just a few clicks. And they can see what their tax dollars are paying for which is an added plus.

Be Seeing You MJ

Before we get too deeply mired in the legal fallout surrounding Michael Jackson's death, I just wanted to say a few things:

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Paws Down and Paws Up

One of my pet peeves is the nonsense about never feeding table scraps to pets:

Giving your pet table scraps isn't recommended for a couple of reasons. Pets like people food better than dog or cat food (who wouldn’t?), but human food is made for a humans dietary needs.

First the admission that no pet in his right mind wouldn't enjoy eating real food that humans eat more than a processed pet food product. Followed by the stunning conclusion that human food is made for humans. To my mind, food is food. Granted there are some foods consumed by certain species which would be inappropriate for other species (I'm thinking grasses for example). But regarding humans and their domesticated pets, food is food. If you watch TV pet food commercials or look at the packaging on some pet food products, you'll notice the images featured are those of beef, carrots, oats, etc. In other words, "human" food. And if you read the ingredient list on a pet food product, you'll find a list of "human" foods.

Furthermore, "human food" is not "made" - unless you are referring to highly processed foods. Beef that humans eat is simply cuts of meat from cows. Carrots are grown in gardens and oats grow in fields (often steam rolled after harvesting for human consumption). My point being that "human food" is basically edible stuff humans eat - and share with their domesticated pets. Which makes it just "food" then, doesn't it?


Unrelated: I read a nice article this morning that I could relate to and thought many of you might enjoy too:

How to not feel bad about once being a bad dog owner

Friday, June 26, 2009

Not ALL of the Good Ones are Taken

This precious 10 year old, 3 legged Pibble is currently accepting applications from prospective owners at Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta GA. My friend Melissa at the shelter says:
Good with people, kids and most dogs. Not sure about cats. In as a stray. We named her Vera. Free to GA rescues with AG paperwork. $85 to adopt. Will update all shots, chip, and heartworm test.

Vera's personal secretary can be reached at 404 794 0358.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Austin, TX Shelter: Babeh Kittehs R Skeery

Town Lake Animal Center (TLAC) in Austin, TX is a kill shelter:
Because the shelter accepts accept all animals, regardless of health or behavior, and because there is a significant problem of pet overpopulation in our community, the shelter does euthanize animals that have no other humane option for lifetime care.


There is no pet overpopulation problem in this country. There are a number of homeless pet related problems, mainly the killing of healthy/treatable pets by shelters, but pet overpopulation is a myth, debunked to my satisfaction by Nathan Winograd.

But I want to examine this bit: "...the shelter does euthanize animals that have no other humane option for lifetime care". "Euthanasia" is a means to end suffering of a medically hopeless animal, otherwise it's "killing". While there is much controversy surrounding the debate on whether pets deemed "aggressive" should be killed, my view is this: every adult pet deserves at least a chance at life. (If we can't all agree on that, what the hell are you doing advocating for pets?) And every puppy or kitten deserves a guaranteed spot on the adoption floor because there is no way anyone will ever convince me that an 8 week old pet is a danger to society.

If a pet possibly has aggression issues, get him evaluated by a qualified behaviorist and locate a trainer willing to work with the shelter/rescue/foster owner. IOW, give that pet a chance, at the very least. Maybe he's not really aggressive after all. Maybe he would develop nicely in a structured home environment. Maybe he could thrive in a home without other male dogs. There are lotsa maybes. But not if we kill every animal deemed "aggressive" by someone in a shelter.

Back to TLAC. The shelter director has a sad history of refusing to work with Winograd towards no kill, making my friend Christie's head explode, and killing pets while plenty of cages sit empty in the shelter. Winograd sums it up:
In Austin, by contrast, one person—the director of animal control—is saying “No” to foster care programs, “No” to offsite adoptions, “No” to TNR for feral cats, “No” to programs that would save animals, choosing instead to kill them. And in fact, since the director of animal control was hired, she has done that with ruthless efficiency: 97,000 animals have been put to death under her watch. That’s over 12,000 each year, 1,000 each month, 34 each day, 1 every 12 minutes the shelter has been open to the public.

A Day in the Death: I came across this page detailing TLAC's disposition of pets for May 30, 2009: 11 pets adopted, 48 killed. Breakdown on the 48:

  • 6 kittens weighing less than 1 pound each were killed because they were "0-4 weeks" old
  • 3 pets were "sick/inj" (presumably "injured")
  • 6 pets were "suffering" (including a 1.5 pound kitten)
  • 16 pets were "no pick" (including 4 kittens ranging in weight from .5 pounds to 3.75 pounds)
  • 2 dogs were "agg policy" (presumably "aggression" issues)
  • 15 cats were also "agg policy" (2 have no weights given and the remaining 13 kittens weighed 1-2 pounds)

A few thoughts: If you are running a shelter with an official "reason to kill" that says "0-4 weeks" of age, you need a foster care program and community outreach. Being born a homeless pet should not be an automatic death sentence at anyplace calling itself a shelter. Regarding the "aggression policy" - who is doing the evaluating? Because whoever that is needs to be immediately fired and prevented from ever working in animal sheltering again. 13 kittens weighing a pound or two apiece were all determined to be hopelessly aggressive in one day?! Ever hear of this thing called feeding? How about petting? I bet if you implement these new fangled methods into your kitten care program, you'll find most kittens respond positively to them. At least enough so they don't have to be, you know, KILLED. Forgive me if I'm skeptical on the other 2 cats (with no weights given) and 2 dogs who were killed for the same reason on this day.

Today, Hope: Winograd posts on his blog today:

A unanimous decision of a citizens’ advisory committee in Austin, TX has demanded that the shelter stop killing animals despite empty cages, model itself after successful programs in places like Reno, NV, implement the programs and services of the No Kill Equation, and even consider privatizing the shelter.

Town Lake Animal Control’s director tried to derail the vote, but was outnumbered by animal lovers on the Committee.

I hope, I hope, I hope.

Corrected: AL Man Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty

Correction: I misunderstood the article referenced in the post (see below quote) - and subsequently mistitled the original post. The plea was for animal cruelty and resisting arrest, not dogfighting.
Court testimony in the preliminary hearing was that when a dog was purchased undercover Alsabrook bragged on its fighting potential.
The post title has been corrected from "AL Man Pleads Guilty to Dogfighting" to "AL Man Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty". For additional background on the case, click here.

Original post:

Initial reports on this case indicated two men charged and 45 dogs seized. Today, there is an update on one of the men and some of the dogs:
William Alsabrook pleaded guilty Tuesday to five counts of cruelty to animals and one count of resisting arrest in a case involving a multi-agency investigation of his Newell dog breeding operation.

Mr. Alsabrook got 30 days community service, some fines, and surrendered his 25 dogs along with everything else seized in the raid (except his guns - he gets those back):
The fate of the dogs in the custody of HSUS is unknown but so far no organization or sanctuary that could house and possibly rehabilitate them has stepped up.

District Judge Patrick Whaley has not yet ruled on how they will be disposed of eventually.

The dogs are believed to have come from dog fighting breeding lines, which greatly affects the possibility of their adoption. Also, they must be kept out of the hands of people who may abuse them.
OK peeps, here are my demands expectations:
  • The HSUS had better get their reps into that hearing and plead for the dogs to get fair evaluations by qualified behaviorists and/or rescues with a proven history of rehabbing bust dogs. And when I say "plead", I mean that those reps need to do whatever it takes, just like they did in the Wilkes Co case, to influence the judge. The dogs deserve fair evaluations with due consideration given to the fact that they've been held in (presumably) a shelter environment.
  • The HSUS needs to reach out to the Pitbull rescue community (they supposedly know all the "major stakeholders", remember?) in order to spread the word that the dogs are in need of rescue. No waiting for a rescue to "step up" - rescues are often overwhelmed and may not even know about this group of dogs in need. HSUS has the responsibility to put the word out.
This is the first significant test of the new HSUS bust dog policy (still waiting to read details on that). I'll be monitoring developments in the case.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Homemade Pet Food - Getting Started

What's the difference between paying a consultant (veterinary or otherwise) for a recipe to feed your dogs real food and learnin' it up yourself? The former leaves your wallet lighter while the latter makes your brain heavier.

Here's my view: If you are the type of owner who doesn't feel comfortable making decisions regarding the care of your pets and you can afford to pay for a professional consultation to tell you how to prepare food - go for it. It will give you the peace of mind you require and allow you to confidently pursue a healthy diet plan for your pets. Bear in mind that there are all sorts of people hanging shingles along the information superhighway offering to take your money in exchange for nutritional advice. If I was looking for a consultant, I wouldn't go to anyone who hasn't had advanced training in pet nutrition. For example, my regular Vet, whom I trust to perform surgery on my pets, doesn't claim to be a nutrition expert nor do I regard her as such.

In my experience, learning proper pet nutrition is a readily achievable task for pet owners. For those who are so inclined, books on pet nutrition are available at the library and there are many websites offering advice as well. The usual caveats apply - some info out there is worse than useless so you'll need to use your judgment. If you run into the same principles repeated by multiple trusted sources, you can probably rely on that info. Stuff I tend to dismiss: Your dog will die if you don't follow diet plan X, your dog will suffer ill health effects if you don't buy supplement Y, or any other extreme sounding/snake oil type warnings.

The answer to many of the main concerns about feeding home prepared pet food is variety. By feeding a variety of foods and recipes over time, you don't have to worry about feeding too much or too little of specific nutrients. You can also take advantage of buying seasonal foods available at lower prices.

The best gauge for how your feeding plan is going is the health of your pets. If they look good and seem to feel good, you are probably doing a fine job. At my house, I noticed a significant improvement in the overall health of the dogs after switching from a kibble based diet to one based on fresh food. Not that I thought they were "unhealthy" before, rather I just thought it was normal to be at the Vet's office regularly for ailments such as ear infections, skin problems, etc. Our current "normal" is to visit the Vet's office rarely and primarily for routine care. The only thing that has changed is how I feed.

All that said, research for yourself in order to make an informed decision that you feel comfortable with regarding what to feed your pets. Don't take the recommendations of one person - even if they charge for their advice. Utilize multiple resources to gather info and see what might work for your pet's specific needs and your budget. Knowledge is power!

If anyone has a home prepared pet food recipe they like, please share in the comments. I never get tired of reading about how people feed their pets.

Related Reading:

Don't Forget the Calcium, Mom

Juliette de Bairacli Levy's Natural Rearing Diet for Dogs

AAFCO - The Pet Food Industry Fails to Regulate Itself

Monday, June 22, 2009

Treats on the Internets

While I've been mostly away from pet related news this past week, here's some of what I've missed:

Nutro still sux

A mother and adult son left 6 dogs in a vehicle in SC while they went into an unemployment office. All the dogs died, the pair were sentenced to 96 hours community service, and if the mother returns to the city of Hoquiam, WA, she will be arrested for outstanding animal abuse warrants there. Reader's Digest version: Six dogs suffered a horrible death at the hands of a serial pet abuser and a light slap on the wrist was administered. "Justice" served.

Another miscarriage of justice: Tulare Co, CA animal shelter staff had a money making scheme going on the side where they killed shelter pets and sold the remains to research facilities. Of the 3 men arrested and charged in the scheme, none were convicted of animal cruelty. More details and action item here.

25 year old NC man stole 2 Pitbulls and shot one to death

TX school district hassles 14 year old girl over her seizure alert dog

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Franklin, TN: Temporary Home of SCRAPPY

1. This sounds like a pretty good dog to have around the house.
2. I can not resist any dog named "Scrappy".

From e-mail:
SCRAPPY is a precious Lab/Pit mix who is eight months old. He has
been at Williamson County Animal Control since April 29. I am hoping
to find a rescue for him.

Scrappy is such a fun dog! He is a very energetic, happy-go-lucky
puppy! Scrappy runs right up to the front of the kennel to greet you,
tail wagging and entire back end gyrating with joy. He loves to go
for walks and enthusiastically takes you along! He is an affectionate
puppy who will stand up on his back legs to be hugged, and also gives
plenty of puppy kisses. He loves toys and treats!

Scrappy's happiest times are playing in the dog park. I took the
pictures listed below a few hours ago. As you can see, he is having a
fine time playing with the toys!

Scrappy is a bright pup who should be easy to train. He would be a
great running buddy. Sadly, he gets overlooked in favor of younger

If anyone can rescue Scrappy, HIS PULL FEE WILL BE PAID!

He is current on worming, distemper/parvo and Bordatella vaccinations,
plus worming. Scrappy is heartworm negative. Prior to leaving Animal
Control, he will be neutered, microchipped and given a rabies

I know it is a long shot, but maybe a rescue miracle can happen for
Scrappy. PLEASE CROSSPOST ON SCRAPPY'S BEHALF. If anyone can help,
please contact me at kmenzyk@yahoo.com.

Scrappy's page on Petfinder.

"Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly..."

President Obama swatted a fly. Always at hand for a chance at free publicity, PETA has condemned the swattage. CNN and a great many other MSM outlets have carried the PETA response but I have yet to see a single one mention the bitter irony that PETA actually kills - not euthanizes - kills thousands of homeless pets every year without making a single effort to find them homes. PETA doesn't even have a "shelter".* They just take in homeless pets and kill them. Immediately. From intake to freezer in 60 seconds flat. So forgive me MSM but you'll need to do a leetle better than simply running with the bullshit PETA hands you. Vetting, anyone?

You know at the end of Psycho when the full mental whackedness of Norman Bates is revealed and he decides not to swat a fly because police may be watching and he wants to mask his true murderous, psychotic nature ? I think of you PETA. I really do.

*From testimony at the 2007 trial of PETA staffers found to be taking animals from Vets with the promise of finding them homes, killing them in the PETA van and dumping the bodies in a Piggly Wiggly dumpster, Daphna Nachminovitch says:
PETA does not maintain an animal shelter. [...] We do not have a public facility that's open to the public where people can stroll through and pick an animal. That's not a service that we are able to provide.

You say it like it's a bad thing. Like the public is too unwashed to deserve to adopt pets from a shelter. As if PETA's plan for "helping" pets is to just kill, kill, kill. Got it.


A brief note on the lighter than normal blogging here for the past week: I have been immersed in following the events in Iran via Twitter. I hope to catch up soon and at least touch upon several pet related stories of interest that I normally would have blogged about but just haven't gotten to yet. In the meantime: Power to the people!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Evanger's Still in Trouble with FDA, Still Denying Food Problems

The most popular post on my blog right now seems to be this one from a year ago about the FDA telling Evanger's pet food company to get it together on the botulism thing (I paraphrase, heh). So an update is probably in order. Apparently Evanger's has not made satisfactory changes and the FDA (a government org which, inexplicably, lacks the authority to mandate recalls of anything but baby milk) has recently, in effect, shut the company down:

When the FDA announced its latest enforcement against Evanger's, the agency's Dr. Bernette Dunham said: "The FDA is stopping Evanger's ability to ship pet food in interstate commerce. Today's enforcement action sends a strong message to manufacturers of pet food that we will take whatever action necessary to keep unsafe products from reaching consumers."

Before Evanger's can resume shipping products, the FDA said, it must prove that corrective actions and processing procedures have been made to ensure the company's finished product will not present a health hazard.

Botulism is a toxin that affects the nervous system and can be fatal, the FDA said. Symptoms of botulism in dogs and cat include progressive muscle paralysis, disturbed vision, trouble chewing and swallowing, and progressive weakness to the body. Death is usually caused by paralysis of the heart or the muscles used in breathing.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dog Ownership for Poor People

I'm sure this article was well intended. It was perhaps written to remind potential dog owners that nothing in life is free - even a free dog - and that there are financial responsibilities that come along with dog ownership. That said, I must offer my low/no cost alternatives to some of the expenses listed in the article:
Basic supplies: Food bowls, a leash and toys can cost $35 to $50 even if you restrain yourself. Crates can cost an additional $50 to $150, depending on the size.

Food and water bowls can be picked up from the Dollar Store (they don't have to say DOG on them yo) or you can use something from your own cupboard. Washing bowls regularly is more important than paying for ones with fancy designs. A slip leash (the kind I prefer) can be purchased very inexpensively. Your Vet might even be willing to sell you one if they have adequate supply. Toys depend very much on the individual dog (you don't want the dog ingesting the toy) but a few ideas: empty plastic milk jugs (can be tied together), raw beef bones, knotted up socks or other old clothing bits, empty water bottles. If you need a crate, try checking your local paper or one of the many online resources (like freecycle or craigslist) where folks pass on used household items at no/low cost. Crates are easily cleaned so as long as the condition is good, there is no need to buy a new one.

Food: What you can expect to pay to feed your new pet will depend on the size of your dog and the quality of the food. A 15-pound bag of dry food from a well-known national brand should cost about $17 at a grocery store, and will last two to four weeks, depending on the size of your dog (an average of $225 to $450 per year). Canned, or wet, food tends to be more expensive.

Healthy table scraps help me save on food costs because I share much of what I eat with the dogs and therefore, almost nothing goes to waste. For example, I may not finish the entire carton of eggs before the "sell by" date, but when I see it's getting close, I can hardboil the rest for the dogs.
Health care: Expect to pay $200 to $300 a year for nonemergency vet bills, including an annual exam and preventive care for common problems such as heartworm, fleas and ticks.

Heartworm meds can be purchased at a far more reasonable cost than what the major brands go for, without a prescription, at your local feed store or online. HUGE savings right there.
Grooming: Professional grooming services are a necessity for certain breeds.

Two thoughts:

If interested, you can learn to do at least a passable dog haircut yourself from books at the library or by searching for "how to" pages online. I used to groom a Toy Poodle that showed up in our yard one day. He wouldn't have won any beauty contests with my grooming but it kept him from turning into the Shaggy Dog.

Alternately, if you don't have the desire to give regular haircuts at home (I feel ya), you can get a dog that doesn't need them.

Related Reading: Straight Talk on How You Can Keep Your Dog During the Economic Crisis

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Power of Failure

Ontario, Canada is going to keep on killing Pitbulls - legally. The Supreme Court will not hear an appeal seeking to overturn the province's breed ban. Pitbull advocates are going to keep going.

Loudoun Co, VA is going to continue legally killing Pitbulls too. The plaintiffs in the recent court case challenging the ban on Pitbull shelter adoptions testified as follows:
Puppy number 43063 was identified by the shelter as a pit bull mix. On the puppy’s pre-euthanasia report, the official reason for euthanasia is typed in as “breed.” Let me repeat that. The recorded reason for why puppy number 43063 was killed under current shelter policies was “breed.” That reason at some point was crossed out in ink and “behavioral observations” was written in its place. Behavioral observations. The shelter’s canine behavior assessment for puppy number 43063 notes that the puppy, “Approaches the front of the kennel seeking evaluator’s attention. Happily greets evaluator. Is sociable. Initiates gentle, physical contact. Wanted to be in evaluator’s lap. Moves closer for further attention. In evaluator’s lap playing. Wiggly. Leans against you. Bouncing around. Very lovey.

Read the rest on Winograd's blog. Read, weep and then - keep going. Failure is an option on the road to success. We can learn from these setbacks and strengthen our resolve to try again. We can continue our efforts to keep dogs from being killed based on nothing more than their (supposed) breed. Not only can we keep going, we must. In tribute to the memory of the dogs killed by the city of Denver, the Houston SPCA, the HSUS, Ontario, Loudoun Co and countless others - we must keep going. And in honor of the Pitbull victims currently sitting in shelters, awaiting death under these misguided laws - we must continue.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends - go forth and fail, because failure breeds success. We'll get there because we are the real humane society. Join us.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It's Kitten Season - Your Local Shelter Needs You

Shelters all across the country are in need of supplies such as canned cat food and kitty litter to help care for all the kittens who get turned in to shelters every Spring. This shelter in Myrtle Beach, SC is making a plea to the community for assistance:

The Grand Strand Humane Society in Myrtle Beach needs your help.

The shelter is asking for donations of cat food, kitten food, canned cat food and cat litter.

The humane society's executive director, Sandy Brown, says the shelter is caring for over 100 cats and kittens and every cage is full.

Your local shelter is probably in similar need. Remember that your local shelter relies on you for support. They likely receive little or no financial support from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) - even if your local shelter is named "Humane Society". The HSUS does not run any animal shelters, anywhere although they do offer to take their money (to the tune of a $4000 - $20,000 "consulting fee") if your local shelter needs "help".


Shelters in the Baltimore, MD area are teaming up in an effort to get 500 cats/kittens into homes this month by waiving adoption fees. See more info here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cincinnati Dog Shot by Police

What is the criteria for a police officer to use lethal force against a dog? I don't know the answer to this question but having a guess, I'd say something like "Threat of grave bodily harm or death". IOW, an officer trying to subdue a dog would first try some sort of reasonable approach, such as calling animal control, or if circumstances dictate he secure the dog himself, he might try a leash. If peaceful methods failed, I'm guessing some sort of improvised "out of the box" thinking might be employed. Depending on the size of the dog, the officer could possibly don some thick gloves or maybe drop a box over the dog for example. If things escalated to the point of "threat of grave bodily harm or death", I'd guess the officer might use a weapon such as a nightstick, taser or gun - whatever it took to prevent the dog from causing that grave bodily harm the officer believed was imminent.

All this is a long way of saying, I don't get wtf happened here:
A Blue Ash family is outraged after returning home to find their dog had been shot and killed by a police officer.

The dog was a Chihuahua-mix named “Jack” that Scott and Sharon Bullock had given to their 12-year-old son for his birthday a few years ago.

When the Bullocks returned home from a family member's funeral on Friday, they found blood and three bullets on their front porch – along with a note to call the Blue Ash Police Department about their dog.

The Bullocks were shocked to learn that Jack had gotten out of the backyard and two officers who tried to catch him, ended up shooting and killing him right on the family's front porch.

"He was cornered on the porch and scared," said Sharon Bullock. "The officer bent down bare-handed to pick up Jack, and Jack bit him."



The way the article reads, it sounds as if the gun was the first option once the officer deemed the dog was potentially deadly. I can't help but think that any number of alternate, non-lethal methods would have successfully subdued this dog. But here's my question, was the dog still a potentially deadly threat after the first bullet? And after the second? Cos that is truly hard for me to imagine.

I would suggest this officer take some lessons from his local shelter volunteers and staff who likely handle biting Chihuahua mixes regularly. I own one myself - a shelter dog - and I can't imagine the profound loss and outrage I'd feel if a public servant put three bullets in her because she bit a stranger trying to pick her up on her own porch.

Dude, Suck It

From FL:

A man was jailed on animal cruelty charges after officials reportedly found five sick and underfed pit bulls at his home.
[D]eputies saw two dogs in small wooden cages and others that were infested with fleas and parasites. One pit bull, Poncho, was hacking badly and suffered from heartworm disease.

All of the dogs were taken from Bowens [the owner], who told officials that he knew Poncho was sick but could not get him to a veterinarian because he recently was jailed on other charges.

First off, it takes years for heartworm disease to develop to the point of "hacking badly". Heartworm preventives are available for little cost, even for a group of dogs, without a prescription, and recommended year round by every Vet I've ever known for pets living in the Southeast. I have no idea how long this guy was in jail previously but indeed if it was many years, obviously he should have had someone caring for the dogs.

At any rate, the charges he faces now for the alleged years of neglect of his 5 Pitbulls are only misdemeanors. So he prolly won't be able to use the "But I was in jaaaaaaail" excuse next time.

If he is found guilty on these cruelty charges, I hope he doesn't get these dogs back. I also hope the dogs receive the treatment they need and can find permanent homes with owners who will take care of them.


Completely separate cruelty story here, but if these allegations are true, this guy - and anyone who watched this going on and did not report it to authorities - can suck it too.

Treats on the Internets

A bit more info on the case of Phoenix, the Pitbull set on fire in Baltimore while a crowd of onlookers stood by

Vet students willing to practice farm animal medicine in rural areas can get a sweet deal on student loans

BSL article at HuffPo

City of St. Petersburg trying to invade the life of a turtle owner

"Your American Animal Shelter" on Nathan Winograd's blog

Biographical type piece on Rich Avanzino, President of Maddie's Fund

Rescue Network is another online resource for getting pets into homes

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Things I've Learned from Cesar Millan

Seems like many online dog folks are Cesar Millan haters. Not me! I like to have lots of tools in the toolbox and enjoy learning from as many people as possible. I have one of his books and try to catch his TV show, The Dog Whisperer when I can.

Note: These are not verbatim quotes from Cesar Millan - just a few random things I have taken away from his show. It's certainly possible I have misunderstood or misremembered something over time. Enough of the disclaimers already.

1. Exercise, discipline, affection - in that order. It's his mantra and so basic yet so true. I keep it in mind every day and those three simple words have guided my approach to solving a lot of challenges.

2. Dog parks are not the place to go to release your over-anxious, under-exercised dog's energy. Instead, they should be used to allow an exercised dog who is in a calm state to socialize with other dogs. Since the majority of owners use dog parks as the former, I tend to stay away. Less potential for problems that way.

3. Allow dogs to meet you at their own comfortable pace. My friend Heather blogged about this in a great post yesterday.

4. Set the tone for whatever activity you are doing with your dog - walking, training, etc. Be calm and assertive and your dog will feel confident in following your lead. Again a simple idea but so helpful to keep in mind when interacting with your dog.

Shelter Worker's Dog Bites Two People in One Week

From WI:

A worker from the Door County Humane Society may need to sacrifice her pit bull after the dog bit a second person last week in Southern Door.

According to the Door County Sheriff's Department, Katie Miller of De Pere was running on Door County C on May 26 when a 3-year-old American pit bull owned by Amy Vlies, Brussels, came off the property and bit Miller in her left knee and right upper thigh.

Vlies was able to retrieve the dog, but it was the second bite reported within a week. The dog had shots last year but needed to be quarantined due to the previous incident. It was taken to the Door County Humane Society, where Vlies is employed.

I wonder if the shelter does a better job educating adopters about appropriate confinement for pets than it does educating its staff.

Who's really making the "sacrifice" here?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Charges in Baltimore Cruelty Case

But will there be justice for Phoenix? Two teens charged:

Two juveniles have been arrested in the burning of a pit bull, a case that sparked a furor over animal cruelty and a reward that topped $24,000.
A press conference is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at police headquarters to discuss the case.
I hope authorities take this crime seriously and recognize that next time, the target might not be a dog but a kid or some other easily victimized member of our society. I'll update this post if additional details are made available.

Update: News conference has been postponed.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Does HSUS Support SB 250 in CA?

A brief historical example of HSUS involvement in mandatory spay-neuter (MSN) in CA:

HSUS participated in crafting MSN in Sacramento Co, CA starting in 2004 (pdf). The ordinance was introduced in 2006 and passed in 2007.

  • In 2006, Sacramento Co killed 46% of their shelter pets while owners redeemed 9% and 15% were adopted, rescue accounted for 6% and foster for 2% (pdf).
  • In 2007, Sacramento Co killed 49% of their shelter pets while owners redeemed 10% and 15% were adopted, rescue accounted for 4% and foster for 3% (pdf).
  • In 2008, Sacramento Co killed 50% of their shelter pets while owners redeemed 9% and 15% were adopted, rescue accounted for 4% and foster for 2% (pdf).

In summary, the HSUS led coalition declared that MSN was the solution to Sacramento County's shelter killing problems in 2006, when the kill rate was 46%. After MSN was passed in 2007, the kill rate increased to 49% and increased again in 2008 to 50%. Rescue/foster save rates have dropped from 8% to 6% in the same period. Adoptions have remained stagnant at 15%.

To date, I would give this ordinance a big frowny-face "F".

Now to current MSN legislation in CA and the question of HSUS support:

Judie Mancuso, the animal rights activist behind CA's 2007 statewide MSN bill (AB 1634), is founder and President of Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL). SCIL is BFFs with HSUS (pdf of HSUS 2007 tax return indicating a $10,000 grant to SCIL, page 47). After AB 1634 went down in flames in 2008, SCIL went to work on SB 250 which is kinda very much like and eerily similar to and basically the same thing as AB 1634. SB 250 recently passed the state Senate and has been sent to the state Assembly for final consideration before it can become law.

Although to my knowledge HSUS has not taken an official position on SB 250, we know they are strong financial supporters of the bill's sponsor SCIL and historically they have worked to get MSN ordinances passed in CA. And since HSUS has not come out against SB 250, it's possible to my mind they are supporting it, perhaps through additional grants to SCIL and/or other means. Which is why this release from HSUS, dated June 4, surprised me:
On behalf of its nearly 1.3 million California constituents, The Humane Society of the United States yesterday appeared before the state legislative Budget Conference Committee to urge consideration of the serious and adverse implications of the Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to suspend the "animal adoption mandate," which would have the effect of reducing by three days the holding period for stray dogs and cats in the state's municipal animal shelters.

Indeed if HSUS is concerned about saving shelter pets in CA, why are they not campaigning against SB 250 which will have the effect of increased killing of shelter pets in CA? Note: Look at the Los Angeles MSN kills stats after 1 year on KC Dog Blog, and the disastrous effects of MSN in Santa Cruz Co on Save Our Dogs site.

I'll be watching the Save Our Dogs and PetPAC sites for news about the CA State Assembly's action on SB 250. And I'll be keeping an eye out for any "official position" and/or action by HSUS regarding the bill.

Related Reading:

Letter from former President of CA Veterinary Medical Association

American Veterinary Medical Association policy against MSN

ASPCA position statement against MSN

Alley Cat Allies (pdf) against MSN

Let's Play Oddball

Unbelievably hungry mouse

Goat waves to kids, also has nice teeth

From the AP:
Squirrel. Thief. Patriot.
Fish gives up watch too late

My Two Dad Penguins

Brilliant fisheye lens photos of animals around London (H/T Smartdogs)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Pitbull Adopter Denied at Lodi, CA Shelter

As usual, there are shades of gray in the story of a CA man who went to a shelter to adopt a Pitbull:
Al Hicks had found a 3-year-old dog at the shelter, but animal control officers turned him down because of two incidents involving loose pit bulls at his West Vine Street home. One time, a dog bit a mail carrier.

Hicks, 73, said the dogs had belonged to his former roommate, who left a gate open when Hicks was taking a nap. The dogs and roommate no longer live in Lodi, but Hicks had enjoyed having the dogs around so he decided to get a dog of his own.

Several months ago his roommate's dogs escaped and chased a mail carrier, and as the homeowner he ended up getting the citations.

"They wrote me a ticket when this happened, two citations, but I don't own a dog," Al tells CBS13.

So. Two citations. The potential adopter says he is not at fault and basically there is a misunderstanding as to his suitability as a home. My first thought is for the AC officers doing the screening to investigate the citations. Maybe those citations were written by a fellow AC officer, IDK. But it shouldn't be too hard to track down the recent paperwork. And considering the man's age, he may have a history of pet ownership which could be verified through Vets, neighbors, etc. There's no mention made that anything at all was done to sort out the misunderstanding. Does this shelter have so many adoption applicants that it doesn't bother trying to sort out someone's story? Oh no wait - that can't be right since the dog the man picked out was killed by the shelter.
"She seemed like a really friendly dog," says Al.

I'm sure she did. But see, it's all just a misunderstanding:
A shelter representative told CBS13 that this is all a misunderstanding, and that the dog he wanted, Cindy, wasn't ready for adoption. When she was tested she was too aggressive and had to be destroyed for safety reasons.

You can understand that, can't you? The shelter had a dog not ready for adoption on the adoption floor. After she was chosen for adoption, the adopter was denied and the dog was killed. Just a big ol' misunderstanding.
Al believes what this all boils down to us a bias against the breed.

"They don't want pit bulls in this town," he says.

The shelter asks for the public's understanding as to why this dog had to be killed and why she was on the adoption floor when she wasn't actually available. But when a potential adopter asks for understanding from the shelter regarding two previous AC citations? Not so much. I have no idea if the guy's story checks out cos you know, I don't have access to the local AC citations. But I know if a dog's life depended on it - a dog in my care - I'd sure as hell check it out. But then, I'm not one to put an unavailable dog on the adoption floor and most definitely not one to kill her based upon some kind of "test".

Every dog deserves a fair evaluation by a qualified individual to help determine what type of home environment and/or training is most appropriate for that dog. It's not a Pass/Fail and not an excuse for killing. And if you are in the business of killing pets, the very least you could do is check out a potential adopter's story if it could mean killing one less dog. Understand?

Mr. Hicks reportedly bought a Pitbull puppy off a flier at a pet supply store for $50.

What Does a Southern Shelter Have in Common with a Shelter in the Heart of Europe?

What I love about this article, which focuses on the legal debate regarding who is financially responsible for care of stray dogs in Prague, is that nowhere - not once - does it mention killing homeless dogs as a "solution" to the problem. Prague by the way has a population of 1.2 million. There are 10 dogs in the pound.

The court gets it:

According to the court, paying for dog food is more advantageous for the state than dealing with problems that would occur if people stopped giving their dogs to pounds.

The Supreme Court also stood against the appellate court opinion that by leaving a dog in a pound people automatically commit cruelty on an animal and could face prosecution.

"Such an interpretation would only lead to an increased frequency of inhuman treatment of dogs in the form of putting them to death, releasing them into nature, tethering them to a [tree] et cetera," the Supreme Court said.

Yes. That's what shelters are for - to care for animals in need.

Shelbyville Co, KY gets it too:

Shelby County Animal Control is the first in Kentucky to become a No-Kill facility. In order for the facility to earn the title that means they did not euthanize any of their adoptable animals for a year. No-kill isn't just about helping animals once they have arrived at their shelter, it is about educating people beforehand so that there aren't many animals going to shelters in the first place.
Shelby County Animal Control has a mission. Their mission is to find all of the animals in their care a home. "We don't exclude sick animals, injured animals, old animals," said [Kelly] Jedlicki. "Those are still adoptable."

Healthy/treatable=adoptable. Right on sister. But wait, there's more:
"We'll work. We'll keep working until we find the perfect home for those animals. It is our mission and we aren't turning our back," Jedlicki said.

Awesome. Another commitment to no kill right here in the South. We are a no kill nation and a humane society. Join us.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Dogfighting Suspect Arrested in UT

A report from Salt Lake City describes a police tip which lead officers to search the home of a suspected dogfighter in November 2008. The suspect was not arrested because "he fled once officers began to question him". So officerS (presumably 2 or more) were questioning the man and he ran away. How is this a satisfactory explanation? I'm guessing that police in SLC don't allow suspected felons to run away during questioning in most circumstances. So what were the circumstances here? I have to wonder if SLC police don't take animal cruelty cases seriously.

At any rate, Pitbulls were found at the home:
According to court documents investigators found "seven adult, male pit bull dogs, two of which were chained up without water, and a third which was crated in its own waste, again without water.

The Director of the Humane Society of Utah (a kill shelter in the state) provides some additional info in the article:
The executive director says the training methods used by clandestine dog trainers are particularly barbaric, "often there are bait animals that are used such as cats, rabbits, smaller dogs that are killed when this is done in the training," says Baierschmidt.
Here we go again with bait animal hysteria. Le sigh.

The suspect turned himself in this week and is awaiting a court appearance. The dogs sadly, have all been killed.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What's Going on in IN Dog Seizure Case?

The Indiana Attorney General's Office and HSUS "raided" a dairy farm Monday and seized 240 dogs on the grounds that the farm's owners had not paid taxes on the dog breeding operation. Squeeze me? Isn't there such a thing as an IRS audit or even some sort of warning letter? They say the owners haven't paid taxes so they just waltz in and take all the dogs? If I were the owners, I'd be wondering what the charges were:
No criminal charges have been filed, and the Garwoods [the farm owners] were not arrested.

Hmmm. No charges, no arrests and yet they seize 240 dogs. Oh and bonus: there are already plans to start adopting the dogs out shortly. Due process, anyone? Oh wait, the owners can't answer the charges against them because there are no charges. Clever clever. From the HSUS release:
Today's sales-tax-enforcement action took place under pre-existing law. A new law passed by the Legislature that takes effect July 1, House Enrolled Act. 1468, will give the state of Indiana additional enforcement authority against commercial dog-breeding operations. It requires that caged dogs be allowed out for exercise and increases the penalties for animal cruelty.
Puppy producers and brokers will be required to register with the State of Indiana, and that in turn could more readily trigger sales-tax investigations.

Oh glee.

I can't help but wonder if IN "puppy producers" aka breeders will want to register with the state, pay the annual fee (ranging from $75 - $500) and subject themselves to possible seizure of their dogs based upon allegations - not charges - of tax evasion. Some might think it's too risky and too great an infringement on their civil rights. In other words, some breeders may cease breeding altogether. Or maybe that was the point.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

45 Dogs Seized in Randolph Co, AL Dogfighting Bust

The ASPCA, HSUS and AL authorities have arrested 2 men and seized 45 dogs in connection with alleged dogfighting activity in 2 raids in Randolph Co, AL. The ASPCA release has some specific info on the dogs:

“These dogs definitely suffered abuse and inhumane treatment at the hands of dogfighters,” said Dr. Merck, senior director of Veterinary Forensics for the ASPCA. “So far, we’ve seen that one is unable to walk, another that is limping, and many that are injured, some severely. Our hope is that the forensic evidence collected will help us seek justice for all of these animals.”

Dogs were discovered on heavy chains and have scars, untreated injuries and wound patterns indicative of fighting. In addition, controlled substances, illicit drugs and other paraphernalia related to dogfighting have been discovered.

The HSUS release indicates that information received via its own tip line led to the raids. It also states:
The HSUS, according to its policy, will recommend that dogs seized in these raids be evaluated for adoption suitability.

This is significant because it's the first time, to my knowledge, that HSUS is publicly making such a statement in accordance with its new bust dog policy. The specifics of that policy, and what the actual outcome for the dogs seized in this case will be, remain to be seen.

Reward in Baltimore Cruelty Case Soars

From Unleashed:

The fund continues to grow for information leading to the arrest in the case of Phoenix, the young pit bull set on fire in Baltimore last week.

Just today the number has climbed from $3,000 to $6,000 to $8,500 -- it stands this moment at $15,500.

Here's where the money has come from:

BARCS: $7,000 (donations from individuals)

Animal Control: $1,000 (from one private organization)

Humane Society of the United States: $2,500

Baltimore Humane Society: $5,000

$15,500 reward for stepping up and telling the truth. Whatever has been preventing people with information from coming forward, hopefully the almighty dollar will inspire them to do the right thing now.

Elsewhere in the Baltimore Sun, the hero cop who saved Phoenix from burning to death in the street is interviewed.

The investigation continues.

Added, 6-4-09: Reward now at $23,500.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bird Group Watching TNR Colonies Like a Hawk

Apparently the American Bird Conservancy spies have infiltrated every TNR feral cat colony in the US. The spies each have a clicker counter (made to look like a rhinestone cat collar) to notify HQ about every bird that is killed by a TNR cat. And that count is accurate because you know, there is a code of honor among TNR cats about the birds they kill. The TNR Prey-O-Meter at HQ is about to go into overload, therefore the American Bird Conservancy has pronounced:

[A] feral cat management program called trap, neuter, and release is failing to substantially reduce cat numbers and is contributing to the deaths of millions of birds each year, including endangered species.

To publicize how rilly-super-real their numbers are, they even made a little video.


Debunking here. No Kill Advocacy Center has an informative pdf on TNR here.

Update on Case Against Walker Co Humane Society in AL

You may remember the story of the Boxer named Boost who was lost in AL and turned in to the Walker Co Humane Society by Good Samaritans where he was immediately killed before the owner could redeem him. The reason the shelter director gave for killing the dog was that he was aggressive - she implied Boost snapped at her while being dragged from a carrier via catchpole. The shelter director's exact words:
“The dog would not come out of the carrier so we had to use a capture pole. That is when he became aggressive.”

The couple [who turned the dog in to the shelter], however, disputes this.

“They put a leash on him and he jumped out and walked right in the place,” Dunn said. “It was a regular leash.”

[slams both feet on brakes]

Martin said he watched every move the dog made once unloaded at the Humane Society. From his account, Boost showed no sign of aggression.

“When they took it (pet taxi) off the truck they took a little old leash and put it on him,” Martin said. “He got out of the box and they went inside, walked down the hallway around in the back and that was the last I saw of him.”

Well ain't that somethin'? The director's lame excuse for killing the dog was paper thin at the outset anyway, but now *poof*


A lawsuit was filed May 26 against the shelter director and the Walker Co Humane Society.


There is an online petition to reform the shelter here.

I will post additional updates on this case as warranted.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Treats on the Internets

Cute: FL theater group holds auditions for Toto

Volunteers needed to help care for pets at shelters everywhere, including Montgomery, AL

Shelby Co, KY celebrates one year of no kill

Toronto Humane Society: Shame, and more shame

Animal Welfare Center in Tulsa, OK hit with proposed budget cuts which would turn over some animal control duties to police

Union, SC: 20 Pitbulls and 2 Rottweilers seized in conjunction with suspected dogfighting activity

Action Alert for CA residents from Save Our Dogs regarding SB 250 (MSN)

Sensory ataxic neuropathy (SAN) in Goldens caused by DNA mutation

Saving the best news for last, from Maddie's Fund