Saturday, January 30, 2010

Animal Photographer Harry Whittier Frees

Harry Whittier Frees (1879 - 1953) photographed live animals in costumes and elaborate settings without special effects. He is best known for his picture postcards which were a new and popular medium at the time. Frees' original photos are black and white, some were colorized after his death. I have read that he "rented" his subjects from breeders and pet shops in addition to using his own pets and those of friends.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Stray Dogs in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a little smaller than the state of Connecticut. Like some of the southern states, rescues in Puerto Rico send some of its stray dogs (known as "satos" locally) to the Northeast for adoption. Since shelters in the Northeast are short on dogs and Puerto Rico has an estimated 150,000 stray dogs, it makes sense to network on rescue efforts:
After nearly 15 years of Sato importation, New England is surely home to the highest concentration of these former strays of anywhere off the island. And they have a devoted following. Satos tend to be on the small side (under 30 pounds) and they come in many unusual combinations, just like Valiente [a Chihuahua/Border Collie mix]. Chihuahua genes are pretty common, as are enormous ear spans, stubby legs, and a penchant for sun bathing. Their gratitude at being given a second chance is often palpable.
Approximately 2000 stray dogs are rehomed in this manner every year in Puerto Rico. Which leaves us 148,000 more in need of help. The state is roughly 3500 square miles in size. If the estimate on stray dog numbers is accurate, that works out to approximately 43 strays per square mile. Think of a square mile in your neighborhood. Now put 43 stray dogs in there. Repeat the exercise times 3500 square miles and you can imagine the challenges and difficulties facing rescuers in Puerto Rico. I wonder if there is any access to low cost neuter in the state or if they even have any actual shelters. I wonder what more they need by way of assistance. Anyone?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Death of Innocents

I can't point to a specific reason why this story bothers me so much but it probably has to do with the Mother pushing the kid off that dark, point-of-no-return cliff called compassion:
As punishment for bad grades, a Georgia mother forced her 12-year-old son to kill his pet hamster with a hammer, police said.
The Mother has been arrested and charged with animal and child cruelty, along with battery. But the thing is, justice can never be served. What justice could there be? Obviously nothing can bring back the hamster but for the kid - well, this can't be undone. He's been violently and cruelly robbed of something intangible which no child should have to live without, and by his protector in this world - his Mother.

Treats on the Internets

TN taxpayers still paying the salaries of suspended Memphis Animal Shelter staff

KC Dog Blog: The False Solace of Vilification

SC Lt. Gov. Bauer finds himself in a hole, keeps digging

LAFD defends rescue of German Shepherd from L.A. River

Pet Connection: Do Animals Need Laws Protecting Them from Shelters?

Chicago requiring criminal background checks & fingerprinting for shelter volunteers

Anyone seen this movie? Netflix doesn't seem to have it and I'd like to see it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

No Help for Trapped Cat in Houston

If the power company called and asked if it was ok if they turn off your power briefly while someone rescues a cat stuck on a power pole, would you be ok with that? I would. Normally when my power goes out, it just happens - I don't get any advance notice. And I, like everyone else, deal with the situation until it comes back on. But in the case of a cat in need of help in Houston, no one even asked:
Lauren Kutac’s 8-month-old kitten spent 47 hours on the pole located in the backyard of her home in southwest Houston before she was electrocuted in the middle of the night.
The cat lover said she called several agencies including the Houston Fire Department, the SPCA, the Houston Police Department, and CenterPoint while she was sitting on the pole. They all declined her request for help.
“Not one person could help me,” she said.
CenterPoint Energy makes the decisions regarding the power pole. A company spokesperson said they could not turn off the power because it would affect several customers throughout the neighborhood.
I repeat: No one even asked.

The Houston SPCA spokesman, Meera Nandal, brings her usual fail:
“It’s a big misconception that [cats] should be free roaming and it’s OK for them to be outdoors, but actually, they need to live indoors,” said Nandlal.
kthx. So I guess it's the stupid owner's own fault the cat got stuck in the first place so the cat should just have to die. *cough*prevention-of-cruelty*cough*

The opportunity to help a pet owner in need, get some positive publicity for your shelter and educate the public while you're at it just got sucked into your vortex of pigheadedness. Thanks for playing.

I wonder where the owner will look when she's ready to get another cat? I'm guessing NOT the HSPCA, maybe not any shelter, after this experience.

You Learn Something New Every Day, Screwworm Edition

I'm not familiar with screwworms but apparently they are as nasty as they sound (pdf):
Screwworms are fly larvae (maggots) that feed on living flesh. These parasites infest all mammals and, rarely, birds.
Female flies lay their eggs at the edges of wounds or on mucous membranes. When they hatch, the larvae enter the body, grow and feed, progressively enlarging the wound. Eventually, they drop to the ground to pupate and develop into adults. Screwworms can enter wounds as small as a tick bite. Left untreated, infestations can be fatal. Screwworms have been eradicated from some parts of the world, including the southern United States, but infested animals are occasionally imported into screwworm-free countries. These infestations must be recognized and treated promptly; if the larvae are allowed to leave the wound, they can introduce these parasites into the area.
Haiti is one of the countries where screwworms have not been eradicated. There is some concern that refugees coming to the U.S. from Haiti might bring pets infested with screwworms. The state of WA addressed this concern (veterinary inspections required for dogs coming from Haiti) but I could not find anything for South Carolina. I did come across a mention of the subject regarding FL but no specific policies or protocols are provided.

Bonus: Humans can host the larvae too! The pdf linked above has lots more gory details, if you are so inclined.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Too Much of a Good Thing

Clarksdale, MS: We have space at our shelter for 60 pets but do you think we could make room for just one more?

(Repeat times 400 or so):

The ASPCA removed more than 400 cats and dogs from the Clarksdale, Mississippi shelter on Sunday, January 24, 2010.

Tim Rickey, the ASPCA's Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response, says many of the animals appear to be healthy, but some have medical conditions, including mange, as well as injuries and bite wounds from living in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions.

"What we've found," says Rickey, "are more than 400 animals living in a space designed for about 60. Our goal is to export as many of the animals as possible to other agencies where they can be placed up for adoption."

What's Stopping Us?

All aspects of the No Kill Equation are intertwined and it would be foolish to think we can single out one or two tenets and solve the problem of killing pets in shelters. Having said that, I sometimes think about doing something along those very lines. That is, I consider what single thing could happen today to bring us dramatically closer to being a no kill nation. The two most obvious to me are:
  1. All those killing homeless pets in this country simply stop. They adopt the no kill philosophy and begin to implement the changes needed in their communities. And in the meantime, they stop killing pets.
  2. We increase shelter adoptions a little bit. Nathan Winograd breaks down the math for us here.
Now of those two ideas, I think it's unrealistic to expect the first would happen today. Changing philosophies takes time. Especially when many shelters are still very far away from the no kill philosophy and consider killing to be a "kindness" they perform because they love pets or a "necessity" due to so-called pet overpopulation. As for the second, I think yes, that could happen today.


The first and most important point to my mind is to stop blaming the public. We don't want potential adopters to feel guilty for buying a pet from a responsible breeder by perpetuating the myth that a shelter pet must be killed for every pet purchased from a responsible breeder. There is room in no kill, and in fact a need for, responsible breeders selling pets to people. In addition, we don't want the public to feel guilty that animal shelters exist. For example, when we wag our fingers at owners who do not neuter their pets and state that they are the reason we must have shelters and in turn "must" kill pets, we demonize both potential adopters and the shelters themselves. More education, assistance and understanding - less judgment.

Secondly, let's recognize that there is a group of people in society who would like to add a pet to the family but are not sure how best to obtain one. This is our target market. If we can influence some of the people in this group to adopt from a shelter, we can make that giant leap toward no kill I dream about. The good news is that the potential adopters are out there and the pets are out there. The bad news is that there is a gap between the two preventing them from connecting. It is this gap we must bridge and everyone must pitch in if we are to be successful.

Shelters must make themselves as inviting as possible to the public by keeping pets and facilities clean, keeping their doors open when people are most likely to visit, getting pets out to high traffic locations such as pet supply stores, and maintaining reasonable guidelines for approving adopters. To meet these goals, high quality, committed leadership is essential and more volunteers will be needed:

Some pets will need more than a bath in order to look presentable. If you have basic grooming skills, your help is needed.

Other pets will benefit from some time in foster care to learn basic manners. For example, a large dog who has been taught not to jump up on people and not to pull on the leash is going to be far more adoptable than one who hasn't. If you have basic obedience training skills, your help is needed.

Orphaned kittens who need to be bottle fed around the clock in order to survive their first weeks of life arrive at shelters every Spring. If you have the ability to offer a temporary home to a litter of kittens in need of care, your help is needed.

Shelter cats who have been handled lovingly by humans are going to be more adoptable than those who haven't. If you have cat petting skills, your help is needed.

Dogs who have been walked are going to have less anxiety when visitors stroll through the shelter than those who haven't and as such, will be more appealing to adopters. If you have dog walking skills, your help is needed.

Sick or injured pets will require more veterinary care than healthy pets to make them adoptable. If you have veterinary skills, your help is needed.

Caring for pets costs money and shelters want to keep adoption fees as low as possible in order to encourage adoptions. If you can donate money to your local shelter, your help is needed.

Educating the public about the availability of shelter pets and how to responsibly care for pets over their lifetimes is essential. If you have a digital camera and know how to create a website to advertise shelter pets, your help is needed. And if you have good written and/or verbal communication skills and know how to make people feel good about themselves while learning something, your help is needed. (Lecturing finger-waggers need not apply.)

You get the idea: Your help is needed. If we all pitch in and work to bridge the gap between adopters and shelter pets, we could bump up shelter adoptions enough to make enormous strides toward becoming a no kill nation. It could happen today.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Humanity Fail, Courtesy of SC Lt. Governor

In case you were wondering why SC Governor Mark Sanford wasn't tossed out on his Appalachian Trail hiking ass, it's because our Lt. Governor, who would have been his replacement, is a freak. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination and as such, spoke at a town hall meeting last night on the subject of providing government assistance to those in need:
"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better," Bauer said.
Setting aside the equivalency Bauer draws between stray pets and poor people - yeah I know, that's a HUGE one to try and set aside - I can't help going back to the words "ample food supply". The idea that we would deny any living creature - mind you, Bauer was discussing kids who get free lunches at school - an "ample food supply" when it is within our power to give them access, well that's not the America I grew up in nor is it the South Carolina I have grown to love.

We feed stray pets for many of the same reasons we provide free school lunches to low income kids:
  1. We are a humane society.
  2. We have enough resources to share so that no living thing needs to go hungry in this country.
  3. We feel a sense of responsibility to those in need because they are members of our communities.
  4. We're not freaks.
Although there was no chance I would have worked to support Bauer's campaign before, I now have extra motivation to work for his defeat. Game on, dirtbag.

It is necessary to help others, not only in our prayers, but in our daily lives. If we find we cannot help others, the least we can do is to desist from harming them.
- Dalai Lama

Friday, January 22, 2010

Los Angeles Fire Department Heroes

The news hasn't been very good this week but it cheers me to know that there is still room in our hearts to make the saving of one dog national news. Thank you LAFD for rescuing this poor dog who had gotten himself trapped in the L.A. River. The heart stopping end of the rescue is on video here.

This is What Animal Shelters are for

I have no idea why Karen Erby of York Co, SC allowed her puppy to deteriorate to the point where she couldn't walk or even lift her head. Maybe she really was trying to nurse her back to health as she claimed when surrendering the dog to authorities and maybe somehow, despite the dog's deathly physical appearance, she actually believed she was making progress. Or maybe she just did not care very much about how long or how terribly the dog suffered. Or maybe it's some other reason.

Whatever the case, I can understand how someone - not necessarily Ms. Erby, but a dog owner in general - might find herself with a sick dog and no financial means to care for her. If this situation befell me, I would first take the dog to my regular Vet for an evaluation and ask if she'd would be willing to work with me on financial arrangements. Depending on circumstances, I might seek a loan from a family member to help pay for care. But failing all reasonable options, I would not leave a dog in the condition Ms. Erby's pup was in chained in my yard, pour motor oil on her and hope for the best. (Rubbing motor oil on mange does not cure the condition, despite whatever old wives' tales you may have heard.)

This is what animal shelters are for. They are a safety net for pets in the community who need help and have no one able to provide for them. It's tragic that so many people have come to regard shelters, rightly in some cases, as death houses. We need to change the public's perception of shelters but in order to do that, shelters must stop killing pets. Euthanasia is a kindness - a means to end the suffering of a medically hopeless pet. Animal shelters do offer this service but the overwhelming majority of shelter pets who die in this country are not euthanized - they are killed. Again, I have no way of knowing Ms. Erby's motivations but it strikes me as plausible that she, or others faced with a sick pet, might consider that a pet is better off in agony on a backyard chain than going to a shelter. This must change.

We are a no kill nation. Join us.

TN Dog Rescue Sticks to Dognapping Story

(See previous post for background.)

I have come across a couple postings from the owner of the facility the dogs were allegedly stolen from and they appear to be current. In short, the owner maintains the dogs were stolen but the stabbing did not take place and the robbery was not witnessed. If interested, read for yourself here and here. The first link also contains a slideshow of the dogs.

Added: A few more details on the case from a local TN paper.

NC Judge Rules Pitbulls Not Weapons

A NC Pitbull owner was charged with assault with a deadly weapon after his two dogs bit a 6 year old boy multiple times. The judge in the case ruled that Pitbulls do not fall under North Carolina's legal definition of "weapon" so the charges were dismissed. He also encouraged legislators to change that definition.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

TN Dognapping Story

I held up on posting about the alleged theft of a dozen rescue dogs from a dog training facility in TN because I couldn't shake the nagging question: Who would want to steal a bunch of rescues?
[T]here were nine Doberman Pinschers taken, one hound mix, one Black Lab, and one Miniature Pinscher. One dog had three legs, and another was blind. The dogs were all rescued, waiting to be adopted.
Not exactly loot you can take to the local pawn shop and turn over for some quick cash. But Twitter has been abuzz with pleas for helping to find these dogs so I've been following the story. Today I read:
Police report that Ashli Thomas, 24, of Newbern Drive, Johnson City has been arrested for filing a false police report.

According to the Johnson City Police, Thomas admitted she “made the story up because she had left the dogs unattended and had not been caring for the dogs properly.“

The owners of the business, Brad and Tamara Josselyn, along with Thomas, have been charged with eight counts of animal cruelty.

Now understand that this woman fabricated a story which included one of the dognappers stabbing her with a knife. So I'm assuming she had some sort of knife wound to show investigators. After learning that the whole robbery story was false, I can't help but wonder:

  1. What actually happened to the dogs and where are they?
  2. What could be so bad that someone would stab herself in order to offer a convincing story to the police?
I'll be staying tuned for further developments.

Don't Try This at Home

This snippet, taken from an internet posting on the subject of people breaking up fighting dogs, caught my eye:
When my two dogs fight I can put my hands or face right between them without the slightest fear of being bitten.
Let's assume that we are all in agreement that freedom from fear does not equate with actual safety. That aside, I interpret the sentiment to be one of "I know and trust my own dogs so well that normal safety measures do not apply in my interactions with them". While I can understand the sentiment on a certain level - after all, many of us feel that the bond we have with our dogs is special - I would offer that the feeling is misguided. It is perhaps akin to "I'm such a safe driver, I don't need to wear a seat belt".

Reality is comprised of each of our interpretations of life colliding. We think we can predict events based on past experiences or even a sense of faith. To some extent, this is not only possible but in fact useful. But nature - which includes animal behavior - has a way of upsetting the apple cart on a regular basis by reminding us of a basic truth: Life is uncertain.

Putting one's hands/face between two fighting dogs - regardless of any bond one feels with those dogs - is just bad judgment in my opinion. Humans may be top of the food chain but we can not control everything in life and certainly not dog behavior. For myself, I don't want to take too many chances - I've only got one pair of hands, one face and one, you know - life.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Treats on the Internets

Interesting write-up on stray dogs in Moscow

IL shelter charged with cruelty forced to turn over pets to other shelters

Consumer Freedom asks if there are many animals for HSUS to "save" in Haiti

Cesar Millan announces a Shelter Animal Physical Enrichment program

Seattle Humane Society offering free neuter and vaccines to Pitbulls

HuffPo argues that schoolkids deserve better than pet food - to which I would respond that pets deserve better than pet food

Video of kid showing her pig in competition

A glimpse into the world of hunting cottontail with Beagles

Monday, January 18, 2010

This Seems Wrong

Regarding a MN puppy mill investigated by a Boston TV station and others:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in its final decision and order, stated that [Kathy] Bauck is "unfit" to be licensed because she operated her kennel in a criminally improper manner.
And by "criminally improper" they mean:
[...] emaciated dogs, sick dogs and others being dunked in a tub of diluted but toxic insecticide that is only supposed to be used on swine.
The government is revoking Bauck's license to deal dogs based on her conviction of animal cruelty and torture in March 2009. The year before, she pleaded guilty to practicing veterinary medicine without a license. Both times Bauck spent time in jail.
OK so this all sounds pretty bad. And my first reaction was "Thank goodness the government finally did something to help these dogs!" But:
Bauck will still be allowed to keep her animals because they're considered her personal property.
And she can continue selling dogs online since the USDA doesn't regulate that. But she has to wait 2 years before re-applying for a USDA license so I guess that'll learn her. As for the dogs, well we can always hope the Boston TV station, the animal activists, the U.S. justice system and the USDA are all wrong and Ms. Bauck really takes great care of her pets.

Rescued Rescue Dog in Haiti

A Border Collie rescue, now trained for SAR, finds 3 girls in the rubble in Haiti.

Sidenote: I was watching a sad story from Anderson Cooper on CNN this weekend where a Mother was pleading for days for a team to look for her daughter in a toppled daycare center. The Mother had heard the girl apparently but by the time a SAR team arrived on site, there was only light tapping. Cooper reported that despite the high tech equipment and listening devices, SAR dogs were "the gold standard" when it came to looking for definite signs of life. Apparently ambient noise can cause false positives on surveillance equipment so the dogs' noses are the definitive determining factor in whether to continue rescue efforts at a site. In this case, multiple SAR dogs failed to alert so the team left in order to head to a site where dogs had alerted. Cooper reported the Mother stayed behind, hoping for a miracle.

Where Do You Stand?

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

Friday, January 15, 2010

Body Language: It's Important

I'm unable to hear the accompanying audio on this clip right now (I will later) but from the video, it's apparent that no one was heeding the dog's or the reporter's body language prior to the bite. Thankfully the handler took immediate control of the situation afterward so no further damage was done. But it would have been nice to see that kind of quick thinking as the situation escalated and before the bite occurred.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Before You Donate

HSUS has already begun rattling the disaster relief donation pan. Now HSUS can spend their money any way they like - although I take issue with their tax-exempt status - and that's their right. But in the interest of full disclosure, which HSUS seems to have a hard time with in general, anyone considering donating to HSUS to help animals in Haiti (or to help pets here at home even) should research exactly how the organization spends its cash. For example, direct mail services and lobbying. And it's a good time to review how HSUS performed with the last boatload of cash it received from donors during a natural disaster - Hurricane Katrina. Add to these their more recent deceptive fundraising ploys such as asking for money to care for Michael Vick's dogs when they didn't have the dogs and were actually lobbying for their deaths as well as the Fay debacle, then decide for yourself if you trust your donation will be used how you wish it to be used.

I always research before making a donation to any group - animal related or otherwise. There are unfortunately more than a few "charities" out there who exist to help only themselves.

Treats on the Internets

The pdf of the complete Petsmart survey results is available. I was particularly interested in the details provided on pages 10, 15, 18, 19, 30 and 42.

Smartdogs has an excellent, detailed review of the oft cited University of PA study regarding "confrontational training methods" and the negative responses evoked in dogs

KC Dog Blog looks at the kill numbers in Los Angeles after the city's second year of mandatory spay-neuter - not good, again

Neat vid of dog who heads for safety ahead of recent earthquake in CA

Alaskan wildlife photographer notes that lone wolf plays with dogs

PETA is reportedly yanking the ad featuring an image of FLOTUS used without permission

Veterinary drugs recall expanded

The AVMA has a summary of animal related legislation in the US for 2009

I always knew

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Help for Haiti

I will be updating this post with new info as I come across it. I haven't yet found any search and rescue dog teams indicating they are heading to Haiti so if you hear something, please post in the comments.

How to donate:

Text message:
  • Text "YELE" to 501501 - Charges $5 to your phone and sends that $5 to earthquake relief in Haiti via Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti org
  • Text “HAITI” to 90999 - Charges $10 to your phone and sends that $10 to Red Cross for Haiti aid

  • American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013
  • US Fund for UNICEF, 125 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038
  • Doctors Without Borders USA, P.O. Box 5030, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5030
  • Partners In Health, P.O. Box 845578, Boston, MA 02284-5578
  • Donations to the International Response Fund - 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish)
  • Unicef - 1.800.FOR.KIDS (1.800.367.5437)
  • Doctors Without Borders - 1-888-392-0392
You can evaluate a charity by using Charity Navigator. There is a list of highly rated groups involved with Haiti relief at Charity Watch.

The WSPA says it's heading to Haiti to treat injured animals.

USAID is responding to the disaster with personnel and 6 SAR dogs.

Discovery News has a piece on SAR dogs and handlers heading to Haiti from around the globe

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Breaking Down the Petsmart Survey

USA Today has a piece on the survey commissioned by Petsmart which asked 3000 adults questions about spay-neuter and shelter kill numbers. The article dives in head first on "pet overpopulation" which is unfortunate since there is no such thing. The longer we perpetuate that myth, the further we are away from having a real societal discussion on the inherent value of pets' lives.

The piece also focuses on how the public grossly underestimates how many pets are killed in shelters every year. I don't see this as significant because even though the numbers guessed by many respondents were significantly lower than the commonly reported estimates, they were still huge numbers - one hundred thousand, one million, etc. The public knows that many shelters are needlessly killing pets in this country, they just don't know the estimated numbers.

The important takeaways from the survey results to my mind are:
  • Roughly 7% of dog owners and 10% of cat owners reported unplanned litters: This is not a shocking response in my view. The survey did not delve into such things as whether the pups/kittens from these litters were placed responsibly with screened homes and lifetime return guarantees but then again, we know that not all planned breedings result in responsible placements so there ya go.
  • 24% obtained their pet from a rescue group or shelter: This is good! Granted this is a small scale survey in comparison to the entire pet owning country but if we could see 24% adoption rate in every community, we'd be in like flynn.
  • 31% didn't neuter their pet because of cost: The article mentions that there are many options for low cost neuter surgery. Apparently there aren't enough. Or if there are, why doesn't the general public know about them? The other important consideration which the piece doesn't mention is no cost neuter. There are some people who, out of the goodness of their hearts, will share what little food and warmth they have with a stray pet but can't afford to neuter that pet at any price. We need volunteers and subsidized programs in order to offer no cost neuter to that segment of the pet owning population. Now.

Recipe Requests?

I always enjoy attempting to come up with recipes for various types of dog treats (lots of attempting involved). And I take requests! Do you have a need for a recipe for a treat you haven't come across or maybe you have but it didn't turn out? Perhaps with certain ingredients included or excluded? Please let me know and I will do my best to produce something useful, or at the least edible.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

WSB-TV Obtains More Vick Dogfighting Docs

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:
”All of the pit bull dogs were destroyed after they lost a fight or refused to fight,” an unnamed confidential witness told investigators. “The dog that won the fight was the only dog that was allowed to live.”
In April 2007, Vick tested several dogs to determine if they had the predisposition to fight and if they were capable of winning. Vick ordered six or eight dogs destroyed because they did not meet his standards. The witness said Vick personally helped drown three or four dogs, a process that took two people to hold the animal’s legs while the dog’s head was held under water. Vick also hung dogs. The witness told investigators Vick, Peace and Phillips “seemed to get an ‘adrenaline high’ when killing the dogs.”

And although Vick reportedly invested huge sums of money in the dogfighting scheme, he apparently wasn't concerned about making any of it back:

“Vick never took portions of the winning wages,” according to a summary of an interview with one of the witnesses, whose identity was redacted from the records.

Witnesses said Vick, known as “Ookie” at the kennel, would bankroll bets for others but he didn’t claim any winnings. He also didn’t take the cash prize for the winning dogs.

Apparently Ookie didn't torture and kill dogs for the money, he did it for some nobler purpose.

Friday, January 8, 2010

It's Cold: Bring Your Dogs Inside, Part 2

Dogs in the southern US are freezing to death. From Texas:

Beaumont Police say a dog found dumped in a trash can died from the cold or starvation and animal control officers have seized three other dogs that appear to be malnourished and suffering from exposure to the freezing temperatures.

All four dogs are pit bulldogs.


"Three were chained to fixed objects in the yard. One had a wooden dog house and two others had plastic dog houses. They're alive but appear to be malnourished and suffering from exposure to the cold. One is in a dog house and won't come out. It's so cold it can hardly move."

There is a slideshow at the link of the dogs and their inadequate dog houses and poor conditions.

When Sadistic Freaks Get to be Their Own Boss

An Animal Control officer in Canton, Mississippi has been fired after authorities were led by a citizen tip to the remains of more than 100 dead pets in a creek. Alonzo Esco collected paychecks from the city for 3 years while he allegedly shot pets to death and dumped them:

Esco has not been charged with any crime as authorities consider their options for prosecution, Madison County District Attorney Michael Guest said Thursday.

The most Esco likely would face is multiple counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, which is punishable by up to six months in jail, Guest said.
[Canton Alderman Charles] Weems said Esco was the only person in animal control, a division within the Canton Police Department. As an animal control officer, Esco could kill animals, but only if they were maimed or a threat to the community, Weems said.

Let me guess what the defense will be. Or maybe, since it's just a misdemeanor, he won't bother. If the MS justice system doesn't take animal cruelty seriously, why should a murdering AC officer?
Esco also provided animal control duties for Madison County until the county's contract with the city expired at the end of 2008, Board of Supervisors President Tim Johnson said.
Attention Madison County: Check your creeks.
Canton police opened the investigation when a woman filed a complaint after a pet she wanted to adopt never turned up at the Mississippi Animal Rescue League.
Yeah, I bet.

It's Cold: Bring Your Dogs Inside

It's cold: Bring Your Dogs Inside

It's cold: Bring Your Dogs Inside

It's cold: Bring Your Dogs Inside

From Spartanburg:
Authorities accuse a South Carolina man of letting a pit bull and five puppies starve and freeze to death in his backyard.
Investigators said a combination of starvation and exposure to freezing temperatures killed the animals.
It's cold: Bring Your Dogs Inside

It's cold: Bring Your Dogs Inside

It's cold: Bring Your Dogs Inside

Oh yeah and feed them too. Nursing bitches living outdoors in Winter need much more food than normal. How much more depends upon litter size. But at the very least they need to be fed enough so they don't die.

CO Dog Stolen, Dragged to Death

In Colorado last month, 32 year old mom Melissa Lockhart allegedly stole 2 dogs from the bed of a pickup truck because she thought the dogs were "abandoned". A witness wrote down Lockhart's license plate number at the scene of the crime. One of the dogs ended up back home with the owners but the second dog, Buddy, was found dead at the CO National Monument.

Lockhart had reportedly taken Buddy to the home of her brother, 37 year old Steven Romero and told him to "get rid of the dog". Romero allegedly drove Buddy to the national park, tied him to the back of his truck and dragged him to death, dumping the remains at the side of a snowy road. Both Lockhart and Romero have been arrested. I'm guessing that because Romero tortured the dog to death in a national park, he may get sentenced to a term in federal prison. Lockhart will probably face a much lighter punishment for the theft of the dogs.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Treats on the Internets

This year's No Kill Conference will be held in Washington, D.C. on July 31 and August 1

Rescued Shar Pei gets an extreme makeover to prevent blindness

Ezra Klein on why dog owners make cities safer

PETA uses image of FLOTUS in an ad without permission

Carson Shelter in Gardena, CA temporarily short on space during remodel

Pet Connection has news of an online petition regarding Michael Vick's "courage" award

Bigfoot mystery finally solved?

Must see TV that never was: Poochinski

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

FL Kill Shelter Receives Needed Aid, Says Meh

Pasco Co Animal Services in FL kills approximately 60% of the dogs and 85% of the cats in their care. Now a group of area Veterinarians is trying to reduce the kill numbers by providing shelter management software, supplies and volunteering to perform surgeries and hold off-site adoption events. In addition, the group intends to apply for a $20,000 grant for TNR efforts. The county, instead of expressing gratitude, seems suspicious at best:

Assistant County Administrator Michele Baker said she needed more information about the tracking software to determine how it would benefit the department and to ensure there isn't a duplication of services.

"It's going to require close coordination to be effective," she said.

Baker expressed some reservations about the grant proposal, saying she wanted to make sure the department wouldn't be required to provide matching funds.

"We are open to any suggestion that could help us reduce the feral cat population," she said. "If there's no match required, then yay."

Read as: If they're really willing to do all the work for us and we don't have to lift a finger, then uh - yay, I guess.

The Vets are also encouraging the county to participate in the next Pet Adoption Expo at the FL State Fairgrounds where hundreds of homeless pets find new owners. The reason the shelter hasn't participated previously? "[T]hey can't send a staff member for the day." The Vet group will probably round up volunteers to work the booth, which the shelter could have and should have done on its own. But apparently they just keep their noses to the killing grindstone and can't really be bothered with much else.

The best laid schemes o' mice an' men

How an elaborate plan to prosecute animal cruelty in PA fell victim to politics:

On Oct. 7, a group of animal-welfare advocates and a veterinarian flew to the auction in southeast Ohio on a jet owned by a friend of a board member of Main Line Animal Rescue, based in Chester Springs. Their goal: Find sick animals among the nearly 400 purebred dogs from Pennsylvania that were to be sold by kennels downsizing or going out of business as a result of the state's more stringent kennel law.

After a veterinarian picked out 12 dogs she believed to be in the poorest health, the animals were purchased and brought back.


Cari Thomson, the vet who went to the auction, said that she had later examined eight dogs and that six had severe periodontal disease and several had serious skin and ear infections.

She said their conditions had constituted "gross neglect."

Main Line Animal Rescue racked up $30,000 in vet bills treating the 12 dogs, founder Bill Smith said.

The attorney for the dogs' breeders denies any allegations of cruelty and states the dogs were given a clean bill of health by a Veterinarian prior to auction.

Enter the political posturing:

The Pennsylvania SPCA charged six, all in Lancaster County, with animal cruelty.

Now those charges have been dropped, in a spat between the Lancaster County prosecutor and a PSPCA lawyer.

District Attorney Craig Stedman said the PSPCA had dropped the case after meeting Dec. 21 with one of his deputies.

Sue Cosby, executive director of the PSPCA, said Stedman had told her that, after a review, he decided he could not prosecute the cases and recommended that the PSPCA drop them.

Without his support, Cosby said, the organization had no choice, even though she believed the evidence supported the charges.


"They kept us out of the loop and surreptitiously filed charges," Stedman said in an interview Wednesday. "Bill Lamb is not a member of law enforcement and not a special prosecutor. The best way to handle cases is to work with our office. We're the legal experts."
And so, one jet plane, several animal advocates, and $30,000 later, we have a plan to prosecute cruelty and no results. I'm glad 12 dogs were saved from auction - which is a terrible way to sell a dog to my mind - but I can't help wondering if the extensive resources utilized in this failed scheme could have been used more wisely.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hell, Alaska

Warning: If you click the below link to read the full story at the Anchorage Daily News, you will see a photo of a dead dog.

We need animal shelters to care for our communities' lost and homeless pets until they can be reunited with their owners or adopted to new ones. The city of Dillingham, Alaska runs an animal shelter and apparently employs an animal control officer to care for the dogs. In early December, a city employee noticed the snow surrounding the windowless warehouse which serves as the dog pound was pristine - seemingly no one had been to the pound in some time. The employee got the police chief and drove to the shelter to check on the dogs.

Inside, they found the heat had been turned off. There was a 50 pound bag of kibble but no water. Trash and feces covered the floor and every single dog in the city's care - six at the time - was dead:
"I've never seen animals desecrated quite to this extent," said Jim Hagee, a Chugiak veterinarian who frequently practices in Dillingham. "The cannibalism is really what got to me."

Decomposed dog carcasses were in cages or curled on the plywood floor.

A black husky found inside a plastic bag was likely one of the first to go, Hagee told police in his report. A 14-week-old Rottweiler puppy wearing a pink camouflage collar was one of the last.

Hagee estimates the dogs were left to fend for themselves for four to six weeks.
As for the AC officer who was paid to care for the dogs:
City officials say the dogs had been in the care of Community Service Officer Travis Barnett. He has been suspended without pay.

Police wrote that Barnett admitted to "abandoning his duty to care for or humanely euthanize two dogs in his care," according to a Dillingham police report provided to Hagee.

Barnett said a third dog was left dead at the shelter and he didn't know where the other three came from, according to the report.

He didn't know where three of the dogs came from. Well let's see, maybe they heard your hellhole of a shelter was such a happenin' joint, they flew in from Hawaii to check the place out. Maybe they were left by aliens. Jesus Tap Dancing Christ.

The city opened its shelter in 2005. Prior to that, strays were kept at a local pet boarding business owned by Deanna Hardin:

[S]ince word of the dead dogs surfaced in a radio report in December, some people are reluctant to report strays to the city, Hardin said.
Yeah, I'd guess so.

Ms. Hardin is seeking a contract with the city to resume caring for the community's strays since the current "shelter" has been closed.

Whatever the outcome of the city's investigation and future shelter arrangements, it's too late for a Rottweiler puppy wearing a pink camo collar and 5 other dogs.

Treats on the Internets

The ice... is gonna break!

Lawrence Humane Society workers in Kansas now carrying concealed weapons

South Carolina: Clemson University kills squirrels after birth control attempt fails

Lassie Get Help: "Living on nothing but food stamps" - with dogs [and Western values]

The Pitbull who injured a SC girl has been euthanized due to the severity of his injuries. The girl's Father, who apparently owned the dog and left the kids home alone while he went to the store, may be charged with "keeping a dangerous animal or having an animal creating a nuisance". No word on child neglect charges.

Via this post on the Poodle and Dog Blog, I came across this debunking of New Zealand reseachers' claim that owning a medium sized dog is worse for the environment than driving an SUV.

TX exotics dealer who had tens of thousands of animals seized by authorities accuses an employee of intentional animal neglect in order to further his cruelty claims made as an undercover PETA investigator.

Amidst tragedy, a humane society stands together

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dinner at Chez Dog

A warm meal for a cold night:
  • Applesauce (pictured) - I often seem to have a bag of old apples. I don't know what else to do with them but make applesauce. I added cinnamon and some salt substitute while cooking.
  • Oatmeal - In warmer weather I usually just soak oats overnight in liquid but it's nice in Winter to actually cook them plus it helps warm up the kitchen!
  • Yogurt - I usually make this once a week, a gallon at a time and then use it by the quart for dinners. It helps to cool off the oatmeal which stays hot for a long time after cooking.
I added flaxseed meal and calcium before serving.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Dude - What?

The Danville Area Humane Society kills approximately 90% of the pets they get their murdering hands on and is under the direction of HSUS BFF Paulette Dean. Ms. Dean was recently named "Person of the Year" by the VA Voters for Animal Welfare. And if you're done swallowing that mouthful of irony, open wide:

The Danville Area Humane Society announced Monday that it plans to build a no-kill adoption center for Danville and Pittsylvania County next to the existing city animal shelter.

Executive Director Paulette Dean said she believes the new adoption center will help solve the overpopulation problem and decrease the need for euthanasia of animals.

*monocle pop* *spittake*

The slaughterhouse-shelter side by side design aspect is wonderfully convenient. So with one hand, Ms. Dean can fundraise for the no kill shelter while the other hand can reach across the way and keep killing pets by the thousands.

In most cases I would extend support to anyone claiming to adopt the no kill philosophy but in this case, there is obviously no one adopting even the most fundamental tenent of no kill - which is, actually to not kill pets. You can't run a pet slaughterhouse at 666 Main St. and open up a no kill shelter at 668 Main St. and expect no one to notice the hypocrisy. Instead of asking the public for 3/4 of a million bucks to build the new shelter, why not just stop killing pets at the existing place? Ask the public for help doing that, and then ask for more once you've proven you are committed to no kill. As things stand, sorry - no sale.