Sunday, February 28, 2010

Treats on the Internets

The keys to canine longevity: Play with dogs your own size, socialize with people, get your owner to share his meals with you

Brampton, Ontario hires slick lawyers in hopes of winning the right to kill 2 nice dogs

A New Zealand man who fed 5 kittens to his Pitbull gets sentenced to 7 months in jail

The remains of 14 dogs were found this month in garbage bags in a wooded area in Houston

Since 2007, a FL couple with 4 Pitbulls has received dozens of citations for roaming dogs and attacks on animals and people. Authorities say the couple has not only ignored the citations but also refused to pay the accompanying fines. The county is taking legal action to declare them unfit owners. Sort of a twist on "punish the deed, not the breed" although I don't know what will happen to the dogs if the county wins their case.

At the age of 4, a sled dog in Canada went blind so her owner followed veterinary advice to retire her. The dog stopped eating and drinking and the owner ended up letting her return to sled pulling for another 5 years before retiring her due to old age. (video)

Dr. Patty Khuly has a short Q & A on feeding basics: "Fat pets need less food; too-skinny pets need more."

One of my pet peeves is the idea that you need to get a recipe from a professional in order to feed your pet regular food that doesn't come in a bag with a picture of a hi-pro glow goggie on it. Research yes, "expert consultant", not necessarily. Here's one animal health consultant's take on home made cat food: Vegan meals.

Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS) has an ongoing campaign against pet stores who sell dogs from puppy mills. A photograph inserted in their latest article on the subject includes a BFAS protest sign which reads "Pet overpopulation is NOT a myth". I'm hoping they'll clarify their position on that issue. It's one thing to simply have outdated rhetoric on your website but this sign seems particularly targeted, shall we say?

Friday, February 26, 2010

What Will Sea World Do Next?

After the death of a killer whale trainer this week (most excellent commentary here), Sea World has been thrust into brand crisis management mode:
After decades of cultivating a corporate image around one of the ocean's greatest predators, SeaWorld managers must reassure visitors that a killer whale's fatal mauling of its trainer doesn't mean the parks aren't safe.
Marketing and public relations experts say what the company does in coming days will be key to preserving its image.

Glenn Bunting, managing director for the Los Angeles-based crisis management firm Sitrick and Co. said SeaWorld needs to respond promptly and proactively.

"They need to review every safety precaution," he said. "They need to explain how it happened, why it happened and make sure it doesn't happen again to reassure the public."

I wonder how they will "make sure" this whale (Tilikum), or any other whale that gets ridden around on for park visitors' viewing pleasure, won't kill someone else.

Larry L. Smith, president of the Institute for Crisis Management, in Louisville, Ky., defended SeaWorld's response.

"They've not overreacted. They've not gone into a stall. They're not ducking the media," he said. And, he said, they had the advantage that the attack occurred the same day the head of Toyota testified before Congress about his own company's public relations crisis and broke down crying.

Oh that is lucky! Some people have been killed in runaway cars and this trainer lost her life when the media was distracted by the investigation. Everything fell into place so nicely.

Smith said the attack could actually drive up attendance of at least one demographic — teens and young adults.

"It's not going to draw families necessarily or older people who would typically visit there, but there is an age group that gets excited about the risks and the potential for drama and it may attract some of those folks," he said.

It's like the X-Games but with whales instead of skateboards. Awesome! Sea World may have hit the jackpot here.

For now, the killer whale shows have been suspended. As for what Sea World will do next, I would love it if Sea World announced it was letting all its marine mammals go free. They won't, I know. Tilikum in particular has been a prolific sire for their captive breeding program. He's worth a lot of money. And that, I'm guessing, will continue to be the guiding light for Sea World.


News conference scheduled for 1pm Eastern.

Update: A summary of the news conference here.

Florida's Pythons to Face 'Crowd' of Hunters

The state of Florida is apparently at the end of its rope in terms of how to deal with the python population explosion in the Everglades:
Local authorities tried all kinds of population control. They captured females, implanted them with the snake equivalent of LoJacks, then released into the wild—tracking them to their love lairs, in hope of snagging the lurking lotharios. There was a brief attempt to train a beagle named Python Pete to track the snakes. Sen. Bill Nelson, the Florida Democrat, has introduced federal legislation to ban the importation of nine big snakes into the country, including the Burmese Python. And the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tried government regulation—imposing licensing requirements limiting the sale of pythons and other scaley nuisances. Authorities say there are only 137 licenses statewide—a figure that grossly undercounts the number of snakes in homes. There’s even a yearly amnesty day, when owners of illegal or unlicensed exotics can turn in their pets—no questions asked. In its fifth year, a few dozen pythons, measuring three to 10 feet, have been handed over.
There are an estimated 30,000 pythons roaming around southern FL. Last year, the state gave out 19 licenses to hunt pythons but that didn't make a dent in the population. (They thought it would?). This year, it's open season:
On March 6, they’re declaring open season on the giant pythons, opening up 736,000 prime snake-hunting acres to any Floridian with a hunting license. People from as far away as Australia want in on the action. For six weeks, an expected crowd of hundreds will get to take their best shot at bagging the beasts.

Sioux City Threatens to Kill Wiggles

What goes around, comes around - that's the saying that came to my mind when Sioux City, IA councilman Aaron Rochester's Labrador Jake was declared "vicious" and condemned to death. Mr. Rochester had successfully campaigned for a Pitbull ban in Sioux City not long before Jake bit someone and was taken to the animal shelter. Mystery of mysteries - Jake was sold by Mr. Rochester (for $1) while at the shelter and then - uh, stolen. So Jake never got his day in court, so to speak.

Now the same law that would have killed Jake is set to kill Wiggles, a Shih-Tzu accused of biting a neighbor kid who came into his fenced yard. According to a posting on Facebook, the neighbor kids had taunted and physically hurt Wiggles for a long period of time prior to the bite. Wiggles is not owned by a city councilman and has been stuck in the shelter since January. No one has - uh, stolen him. A closed door hearing to determine his fate is due to announce a result today. Wiggles is the first dog to come up for a hearing under Sioux City's vicious dog ordinance. I will update this post when I hear something on the case.

Update: No news reports yet but the Facebook page has been updated to say Wiggles is going home.

Update Deux: Wiggles is home and the owner has posted on Facebook:
The first thing Wiggles did when he got home was run to the door. When we got inside he made a dash around the house, came up to me, gave me a big kiss, and then made his rounds running around the dinning room table" he runs around the table to tire himself out" then he layd down next to me and sighed and took a little nap! I am so happy! Thank you all!!!!!! He is too! NOW EVERYBODY SAVE SPORK!!!!!!!!!!
In addition, the owner vows to continue fighting until Sioux City's vicious dog law is changed.

The Sioux City Journal has an article about Wiggles' death row pardon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Press Releases in the Spork Case

Snippet from a press release (pdf) from Donald Dodge, owner of Jasper Animal Hospital - the vet clinic Spork is scared of:
The bite was serious. Our technician required immediate medical attention. [...] When an animal bites a person who seeks medical care, it is normal procedure for the hospital to alert animal control officers. This is what happened here.
The veterinary technician then made an individual decision to pursue charges. I supported that decision, because when an animal causes serious injury to a person, there should be a public record of that fact in case there are future incidents involving that animal.
He goes on to say that just because the tech is pressing charges doesn't mean the clinic wants the owners prosecuted or the dog killed. Maybe they thought "pressing charges" meant that everyone has tea and a biscuit and goes home early, I don't know.

Response from the lawyer for Spork's owners:
Jasper Animal Hospital is responsible for the hiring, training and supervision of its employees. Further they are responsible for the development and implementation of hospital procedures to protect their clients, their animal patients, and their employees.

While the Walkers are perplexed by the City of Lafayette’s aggressive pursuit of the charges against them, they are also distressed by the veterinary technician’s desire to further this case. While they have been very upset and concerned about the injuries suffered by the tech, the Walkers are surprised that a trained veterinary professional would put an animal in her care in this position. In the police reports, it is clear other clinic employees were aware that Spork was distressed at the time of his visit. He was shaking and defecating in his owner’s arms. Given the visible state of Spork’s anguish, the Walkers are shocked that this veterinary technician, given her years of experience, would put her face anywhere close to Spork’s face. What is even more curious to the Walkers is why a trained tech would aggressively urge criminal charges in the matter when veterinary technicians are trained to handle animals, and there is an assumed risk that comes with the job. Colorado State Statute §18-9-204.5(6)(b) specifically exempts veterinary health care workers for this very reason.

Of all the points made in my previous post and the comments, I am most curious about this last bit. The bite happened in August 2009. Since the law specifically exempts veterinary staff from filing charges related to dog bites, why is this case still being pursued? To my mind, the fact that it was ever even opened was a mistake. The city should have told the tech from day one, "You are exempt and can not press charges". Forcing the owners to spend all this time worrying and all their savings on lawyers is totally ridiculous. And the Vet is supporting these shenanigans? Even knowing there is no legal standing for these charges whatsoever?

Hey Lafayette pet owners: Jasper Animal Hospital doesn't know how to handle scared pets and if you go there, they may give your name and address to the city and file charges against you. Maybe there's another vet clinic in town? Or, if Lafayette is determined to invoke "home rule" to avoid compliance with this sensible state law, I'd say it would be well worth it to go to a vet clinic outside the city.


There is also an e-mail posted online that is purported to be from the city of Lafayette regarding the case. The city thinks we should all be grateful they don't have breed bans and didn't seize Spork immediately.

CO Vet's Office FAIL

The city of Lafayette, CO has declared a 10 year old dog named "Spork" to be vicious and filed charges against the owners. Based upon your knowledge of these type of cases, have a go at these multiple guess questions:

What specifically did this "vicious dog" do?
  • Kill livestock?
  • Bite a neighborhood kid?
  • Attack someone's pet?
How about the owners - what are they accused of doing?
  • Allowing their dog to roam loose?
  • Leaving the dog on a chain for his entire life?
  • Failing to supervise their dog around a toddler?
If you guessed "None of the Above" (oops, I forgot to include that choice), you are correct. The owners of the vicious Spork (yeah I'm loving that name) are accused of taking their Miniature Dachshund to the Vet for routine care. Like many dogs, Spork is scared at the Vet's office. Very scared. He shakes. He loses control of his bowels. Vets see dogs like this regularly and usually know, or should know, that with these type of dogs, the owner can never hold the dog during examination. These dogs are not in a balanced state of mind during their Vet visits. And when an owner holds a dog, the owner becomes a physical extension of the dog. If that dog is already in an unbalanced state, the potential for a bite is very high.

So when the owner was told at the Vet visit to hold her dog and the technician put her face up to Spork's, he bit the technician's chin. State law in CO exempts veterinary workers from filing charges regarding dog bites. Somehow, the city found out about the incident (I think we can safely guess the owners did not contact the city about it) and served the owners with a citation. The owners hired a lawyer and are going to trial in April in an effort to save their dog:
The Walkers' attorney says the charges should be dismissed. "It'll put a scare, a fear into people with animals, that they can't bring their dogs or cats to health care facilities in the city of Lafayette for fear of criminal charges and fear their family friend will be euthanized," says Jennifer Edwards of the Animal Law Center.

The Walkers say they'll do anything to make sure their dog isn't euthanized. "Not everyone would spend their life savings protecting a 10-year-old dog, but we feel we need to."

I am hesitant to make generalizations about biting dogs but I'll go out on a limb here: Little dogs bite. Unlike big dogs, they can not physically resist something that makes them feel uncomfortable. They scream when they're panicked and they bite as a last resort. Those are their defenses in a world where everyone is bigger than they are and they can be picked up, held down, or inadvertently knocked over and trampled at any moment. Anyone who works in a Vet's office should know that a little dog presents a bite risk while at the office. Even more so for a dog who's scared. And still more for one who is overly scared and being held in the arms of his owner as you stick your face into his/their personal space.

From the information I've read about this incident, it seems like the Vet's office mishandled the situation which resulted in a staff member being bitten. Instead of using it as a learning experience, they (I'm guessing) reported the bite to the city, causing the owners terrible emotional and financial hardship. Ultimately, the dog may be locked up or killed.

At the Vets' offices I worked in (many moons ago), we had a box full of muzzles of all sizes and we placed a muzzle on any dog who was "questionable". Has Spork's veterinary office heard of these things? When I take my Chihuahua mix to the Vet's, I bring along her muzzle from home. She's never bitten anyone and I hope to keep it that way. I'd rather be safe than sorry - especially if sorry means the city might take my dog. Although I doubt my Vet would ever mishandle a situation so badly and then try to get authorities to kill my dog over their mistakes.

Spork does not deserve to be punished. Neither do his owners. I feel for them.
The idea that Spork is vicious is something Spork's owners have a hard time accepting. "Every night I tuck him into bed. If he doesn't have a blanket on him, he starts crying, I have to get up and make sure he's covered," Kelly Walker, Spork's owner says.
I hope that the city will come to their senses and drop this whole thing. I bet there are probably actual irresponsible owners in Lafayette who deserve citations. And I hope that Spork gets to spend many more nights in his bed, covered up by his blankie.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Buckets of Blood

Today, additional information on the dogfighting bust in York Co, SC which included the discovery of a fighting pit in a wooded area. Three men were charged with dogfighting and thirteen Pitbulls were seized:
The trail through the woods led to a pit. Among the branches of the surrounding trees, temporary lights had been strung.

The base of the wooden pit was stained with blood, and buckets of blood rested beside the pit.

Some 100 feet from the pit, a pack of pit bulls were confined, scars apparent on their bodies.


Officers also found a paddle used to separate dogs during a fight, [Lt. Mike Baker] said.

The pit bulls weren’t badly injured but had signs of being hurt in fights in the past, Baker said. The animals’ living conditions didn’t meet county standards.


Deputies destroyed the pit with chainsaws so it can’t be used again.

From there, the news gets even worse:

This is not the first time at least one of the men charged has been in trouble for something like this. Antoni Orr was sentenced to two years probation for torturing, fighting and baiting animals in March of 2000.

Golly gee willikers, seems like that non-punishment for animal fighting didn't teach Mr. Orr any lessons. But wait - there's even more bad news:

The men willingly turned over 13 pit bulls to authorities. The dogs are now being housed at York County Animal Control and all have scarring consistent with dog-fighting.

"We do know they are aggressive to other animals which is why they are being housed in separate cages," said Chris Peninger with the York County Animal Control.

The pit bulls take up nearly 1/3 of Animal Control's available space. Unless they are returned back to the owners, they will have to be destroyed.

It's not the dogs' fault they are taking up 1/3 of the shelter's space. Nor are they to blame for having been abused. Every dog deserves a fair evaluation.

Naked Photo Shoot in a Piggly Wiggly Dumpster

Playgirl wants Michael Vick to pose nude for the magazine and is willing make a $1 million donation to PETA as payment. Just imagine how many more pets PETA could kill with an extra million bucks! That notion probably has a dog torturer like Vick all hot and bothered. A Playgirl spokesman says:
"It’s kind of a win-win situation.”
Yeah, kind of. Unless you're a dog. Then it's more of a lose-lose.

One Thing Leads to Another

Humane Watch has a full page ad in the New York Times today about HSUS. The ad reads, in part:
The Humane Society of the United States is NOT your local animal shelter. In fact, it gives less than one-half of one percent of its $100 million budget to hands-on pet shelters.

It's always good to research any group before making a donation. Learning how your money will be spent goes a long way toward providing that peace of mind we seek when donating to a charity. To that end, users can explore HSUS relationships in detail by clicking on this interactive map. Some may be interested to explore these relationships further.

For example, the lobbying firm Hogan & Hartson lobbies/d Congress on behalf of many clients in addition to HSUS (which is a tax-exempt organization). Those clients include a number of farm related groups such as American Farmland Trust, International Dairy Foods Association, and National Chicken Council. There are many household name corporations including Wal-Mart, General Electric, Pepsi, American Express, Citibank, and Amway. Big auto is on the list as well with Ford Motor Company and General Motors. The insurance industry clients include Aflac, Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA, and Health Insurance Association of America. There are many clients from the pharmaceutical industry such as Bristol-Meyers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Graceway Pharmaceuticals, Guilford Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, PHRMA, and SmithKline Beecham. Other clients of interest include Monsanto Co and National Renderers Association.

According to HSUS' 2008 tax return (pdf - page 19), they spent over $4 million on lobbying activities for the year. In the 2008 "Annual Filing for Charitable Organizations", HSUS stated the following:
Contributions are used to produce publications including educational materials, which are sent on a regular basis to members and the general public. The society investigates cruelty in the transportation, handling and sale of animals at pet shops, zoos, circuses and animal shelters. The Society also uses contributions for animals in the wild including wildlife refuges, predator control and people/wildlife problems.
I don't see anything about spending millions on lobbying in there but hey, I'm not a tax professional. Maybe this is A-OK.

Related Tidbit:

On February 16, a federal lawsuit was filed against HSUS (and others) by the parent company of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus under RICO. The lawsuit alleges the defendants are using such crimes as bribery and money laundering in an effort to "unjustly enrich themselves" while working to ban elephants in circuses.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Trapped in the Closet: Dog Park Edition

Well, this should result in something great:

Things have been scary on a neighborhood list serv this week. There was a report of a large dog -- one post says it's a puppy, about 70 pounds -- that was attacked in Elysian Park by a loose pit bull and badly hurt. The pit bull was described as a brindle, its owner as looking a bit like Danny Devito. According to the puppy's owner, the pit bull's owner basically fled the scene, walking away quickly and leaving the injured puppy without asking questions or giving his own contact information. The puppy's owner has asked for help in identifying the pit bull and its owner.

The attack quickly led to an extended song of fear on the list serv: Dog owners who fear for their safety and the safety of their dogs. One woman says she has a .22 and is considering bringing it with her to the park so that she can shoot a dangerous dog if it tries to attack one of her four dogs. Another woman says she already carries a stun wand. Someone asked where to get one. At least two maybe three say they pack pepper spray, but one person says it's hard to use.

I feel sorry for anyone at that dog park with a brindle dog of any breed or who looks remotely like Danny Devito. In the dark. At a distance. With a hat and sunglasses on. Or anyone who has a dog that looks like a Pitbull. Which you may have to judge as the dog runs past and you're fumbling in your purse for your gun.

Yep, something good is going to come of this. It always does.

13 Pitbulls Seized in SC Dogfighting Case

Note: This is a breaking story so hopefully more information will become available as the case progresses.

Thirteen Pitbulls were seized over the weekend in McConnells (York County), SC and three men have been charged with animal fighting and baiting:

The York County Sheriff's Department received an anonymous tip on Saturday, February 20 about a dog fight that was in progress behind a home at 1350 McConnells Highway.

When sheriff's deputies arrived, they followed a trail behind the house which led into the woods. At the end of the trail, the deputies found a dog fighting pit with lights. There was lots of blood in the pit and buckets surrounding the pit, according to the sheriff's office.


Most of the dogs had scarring consistent with having been in a fight.

Each of the above links contains a small photo of a dog seized in this case (two different dogs). Very hard to tell much from one small picture, but neither one struck me as looking particularly Pitbull-ish. Hopefully we'll see more photos that show the condition of the dogs. They are being kept at York County Animal Control.

Matthew Pepper, New Director of Memphis Animal Shelter

Matthew Pepper is set to become the director of the Memphis Animal Shelter (MAS) on March 1st. He worked his final days as head of the Caddo parish shelter in Louisiana last week. He had been there for almost two years:
More than anything, parish leaders and nonprofits credit Pepper with improving the department's public relations campaign[...]
Mr. Pepper was reportedly hired by MAS due, in part, to his clean-up job at the troubled Caddo shelter. MAS probably thinks it could do with a spit-shine too.

Notable Numbers:

  • Mr. Pepper's base salary at Caddo: about $76,000
  • Mr. Pepper's starting salary at MAS: $92,000
  • Caddo's kill rate for 2009 (Mr. Pepper's only full calendar year there): over 70%

The Caddo shelter admits thousands of pets every year. When you're killing that many animals, there are bound to be some oopses:
Lost in the system, but found in a freezer. That's what happened to a little puppy accidentally killed by Caddo Animal Services.
The puppy had an adopter but never made it out of the shelter to his waiting family:
Director Matt Pepper says as unfortunate as it sounds, the puppy somehow got lost in the system. Pepper says it's one of many regrettable issues he's addressed since he's taken over. He says he's already implemented new practices that will hopefully keep this from happening again.
One of the problems with killing as a means of shelter population management is that when mistakes are made, pets get dead. Mr. Pepper knows this, first hand. I will be following his work at MAS with interest.

Treats on the Internets

A candlelight vigil was held last week in memory of the 146 Wilkes Co Pitbulls who were killed by HSUS one year ago. Photos from the event here.

Before you get a pet, watch this vid.

Memphis Police Department reportedly shoots a lot of dogs (for example, this dog). The new director of the Memphis Animal Shelter is hoping to work with police to get them additional training on the issue.

Two Boxer mixes remain jailed in Brampton, Ontario on the grounds that they are Pitbulls. The community has rallied in support of the owners and their pets.

A Granny in North Dakota has started a petition to ban Pitbulls in her town. Her grandson owns 3 Pitbulls. German Shepherds may be tossed in as well. Her daughter owns 3 German Shepherds. Rottweilers are on the hit list too although the article doesn't say who in Granny's family might own 3 of those.

Yellow Tail wine will make its donations elsewhere in future after backlash from $100k donation to HSUS

Reader Valerie sent me a link to the gloriously named PETApotty (yes, we're all 9 years old)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Changes at Marion Co Animal Shelter in SC

Some of you may remember when a South Carolina politician, Kent Williams, adopted a German Shepherd bitch from the Marion Co Animal Shelter in order to breed her (in violation of state law). In 2008, after the bitch was left to roam the streets regularly and while in heat, she became pregnant and Senator Williams decided he didn't want to deal with the problem he created so called Animal Control to pick her up when she was due to whelp. As this story unfolded, it shed light on the terrible conditions at the shelter.

A group called Paws to the Rescue took over the shelter from the county in October 2008:
Before Paws to the Rescue took over for the county, the shelter had no heat, animals turned in to the shelter were disappearing and often, they were left with no food or water.


The group has installed heaters in the dog runs and cat room, improved the living conditions for the animals turned in and provided medical care such as vaccinations and spaying and neutering of all cats and dogs adopted from the shelter. All dogs are tested for heartworm, and emergency care and treatment can begin right at the shelter if local veterinarians’ offices are closed.

Adult dogs and puppies are now kept separately to help guard against the risk of illnesses such as Parvo. The adult dogs are also allowed outside to play in large grassy areas while their kennels are cleaned every day.

“Mentally that’s very good for the dogs,” [executive director Jen] Nall said. “It keeps them from going cage crazy.”

The group also keeps male and female dogs separated to guard against fighting and more unwanted puppies.

Paws to the Rescue has also been able to team up with several rescue groups through out the county to transport dogs to shelters that have adopters waiting to provide homes for the unwanted animals. This weekend they will transport 20 dogs and puppies to rescues in the Northeast.

Volunteer Irene Miller uses Web sites such as and Facebook to spread the word about the animals available for adoption from the shelter.
“I Facebook, I Tweet, I foster dogs,” Miller said. “I’ll do anything I can.”

All sounds good. But the article also goes over the shelter's 2009 kill numbers:

“We brought in 2,700 animals last year, which is two and one half the amount we thought we’d bring in,” Nall said. “We were able to get 750 either adopted or to rescue.”

That's a kill rate of roughly 73%. I hope the community works with the shelter in 2010 in order to dramatically decrease the kill rate. So many positive changes have taken place already but if the end result is that nearly 3 out of every 4 pets entering the shelter wind up in the landfill, that's not "change we can believe in".

As for Senator Kent Williams, he won re-election in 2008 and his current term ends in 2012.

Be Seeing You, Daddy

Daddy, Cesar Millan's beloved Pitbull, has died at the age of 16. This is a time to pay respects to a truly awesome dog, the human-canine bond that was so evident to everyone and all the good public education Cesar and Daddy did for the breed. Shame on those who are using Daddy's death to take jabs at Cesar Millan's training techniques.

Thank you Cesar for sharing this special dog with us. Be seeing you, Daddy.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Seeking BFF

I was just checking back on NC's Alexander Co shelter site to see if the senior dog who looked like she had just whelped a litter was still listed. She isn't although the 2 puppies still are. I wonder what happened to her.

While browsing the listings, I came across this dog (pictured) who is listed as a "Hound mix" but looks like a Pointer to me, albeit an emaciated one. He was picked up as a stray and put up for adoption on February 17 after no one claimed him. I bet he'd be a nice pet.

Friday, February 19, 2010

You Can't Reject the Internet

Mike Fry received a heads up in January that the Spring issue of The American Dog Magazine contained an article addressing no kill and mandatory spay-neuter:

After reading the article in question, I requested an opportunity to write a rebuttal in the next issue. The publisher agreed and the rebuttal was written. Upon submission, however, the article was rejected, with the publisher simply stating this was not what they had agreed to publish.

You can read the rebuttal here.

Another Cat Killer Gets No Jail Time

Remember this guy's name. I think we'll be hearing from him again.
Raymond Bagaybagayan [...] pleaded guilty in Rolling Meadows [IL] branch court to animal torture.
The 22 year old man beat 2 cats so severely last year they had to be euthanized. A third cat "suffered injuries after he sprayed a lime dissolving liquid in its face". The sentence? Probation and community service. As I say, we'll be hearing this name again - probably sooner rather than later.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Shelter Pets - What's Your Goal?

This is a continuation of the discussion in the following posts on KC Dog Blog and One Bark at a Time:

No Kill Communities vs No Kill Shelters -- and why confusing the two endangers the movement

No-kill: it can't be impossible if someone's already doing it

I want to live in a no kill nation.

Sounds like a simple enough statement. But of course it isn't because - it seems like lately anyway - nothing is.

To achieve a no kill nation, we would need the cooperation of every community in the country. These will include such diverse groups as Animal Control outfits who routinely shoot homeless pets in secret, pet haters who would prefer to see every pet in the country killed rather than one homeless pet saved, and animal advocates. It's that last group that may be the most challenging.

Even if we eliminate the wingnuts like PETA, who claim to be animal advocates but actually operate a pet slaughterhouse, there is a lot of disagreement about how to move forward. And unlike the previously mentioned groups, it is animal advocates whom we must rely upon to do most of the heavy lifting which makes cooperation essential. Animal advocates must do much more than simply stop standing in the way - we must act as a cohesive force. That doesn't mean we can't have different views and employ a variety of methods. But it does require a basic agreement on the core principle: We do not kill healthy/treatable pets - we save them.

So what do I mean by "save"? Those opposed to no kill are quick to say that we would stuff every pet in America into a cage and leave them in an abandoned building until they die. But this is just flash talk to distract people from the truth - no one wants any pet to live his entire life in a cage. When I say save, I mean that ideally, I'd like to see that pet in a home, living as a family member. And I further recognize that not every pet is going to get a home, for various reasons. So to my way of thinking, we are still saving those pets if we can provide them a reasonable quality of life which includes adequate shelter, daily human interaction, outdoor exercise (for dogs), appropriate veterinary care and sufficient food.

Some pet advocates are opposed to the term no kill and prefer to use "low kill". It's important to define what we mean by the word kill with regard to shelter pets. To me, if we humanely end the suffering of a medically hopeless pet by the gentlest method veterinary medicine offers, that is euthanasia - a kindness we offer to our pets. If we end the life of a pet who is not suffering and medically hopeless, that is killing - and I'm opposed to that. By those definitions, I am not for "low kill" because that means some adoptable shelter pets are being killed. I am for no kill and on that point, I can't see any compromise. My goal is to save every healthy/treatable shelter pet. Every single one.

If you are an animal advocate, please share your goals and principles with regard to shelter pets. I'd really like to hear and hopefully generate some brain food for thought.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I didn't watch Westminster on TV so I don't know if this made the live broadcast or if it happened during a commercial break but:
Two protestors from the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals were hauled out of the center ring and charged with criminal trespass, according to The Associated Press, after interrupting the main event by holding up signs reading "Mutts Rule" and "Breeders Kill Shelter Dogs."
Breeders don't kill shelter dogs. PETA does. I'd like to put the number of shelter pets PETA has killed in the last 10 years on a protest sign and get on national TV but I doubt I could hold up such an immense sign.

Treats on the Internets

Kansas City dog advocate goes door to door to educate and help owners

KC Dog Blog on why you can't pick and choose which pets get saved if you are a no kill shelter

Three captive wolves "set free" in MN by criminals - they are unable to survive in the wild

If this dog really weighs 115 pounds, it's not a Pitbull

I guess it's World Cat Day - which makes some people hungry

Political cartoon about Lady Justice and Chem Nutra

On the heels of the Westminster dog show, a little food for thought by way of King Tut, whose parents were close family members: It turns out, the boy king was only made to look pretty in statues. In real life, he was disabled, frail and probably had a weak immune system. The takeaway: "Inbreeding is not an advantage for biological or genetic fitness."

Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome

Emily was an adult dog of undetermined age when we adopted her from a local shelter. She was old enough to have so much build-up on her teeth that a canine fell out when I gave her a turkey neck but no one seemed to be able to assign her an age. She is some sort of Chihuahua mix with a terrier coat. Over the years, she's had a few "episodes" (possibly seizures) which leave her disoriented and shaking for a few minutes after but then she seems to recover fully. She had one such episode last week during dinner (they always seem to occur when she's eating). Since they only happen once every year or two and she is healthy in other respects, I've never pursued the issue with my Vet.

This week she was eating dinner in a room by herself (I separated her from the group dinner after her episode last week to make sure she had a quiet, private area without a bunch of big dogs stalking her food bowl) so I didn't see if she had another episode but after dinner, she had a head tilt and difficulty with her balance. I took her to my Vet the next day and she was diagnosed with "Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome". The Vet thinks the head tilt and the seizure type episodes are unrelated. An x-ray of Emily's skull revealed no abnormalities but her blood work showed she was dehydrated. The other abnormalities on the blood work didn't overly concern the Vet since they could be a result of the dehydration. The Vet suggested we hold the water bowl up to her to get her to drink. I had noticed at home that she was having a hard time drinking. Although we've been following the Vet's suggestion, Emily refuses to drink when assistance is offered. That's just her personality. She is very willful and independent and - how shall I say - actively discourages any help from us. We tried a syringe of water but she just growled and bit the syringe. So I've been adding water to her food and I'm hoping she might drink something while no one is home.

We've been giving her meclizine at the Vet's suggestion (I take this myself for vertigo) but I haven't noticed it helping. Her head tilt is worse this morning and in fact when I let her out to potty at 5 a.m., she didn't come back so I had to go out and look for her. I found her spinning in circles. The Vet says we just have to ride it out and as long as Emily doesn't get too dehydrated, she doesn't have to be hospitalized. We're crossing our paws.

Emily is the first dog I've had that has gone through typical old dog problems like hearing loss and decreased vision. My previous old dogs have all been Flatcoats and typically cancer kills them before they get very old. Provided we get through this, I wonder what Senior Adventure Experience awaits us next.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Don't Make Me Turn This Car Around, Anti-Fur Activists!

Personally, I am anti-fur. You know why I think more people are not anti-fur? Cos we can't even broach the subject in our society without bringing the Batshit Crazy:
[U.S. Olympic figure skater Johnny] Weir was criticized by animal-rights activists after he donned a costume in nationals with white fox fur on the shoulder.
[H]e received threats from anti-fur activists that made him fear for his safety, causing him to scrub any plans to stay at a hotel while in Vancouver for the Olympics.

"I felt very threatened," he said Saturday. "I'm not allowed to say how everything got through, but my agent got letters and faxes and e-mails. I got letters at the ice rink, somebody found my phone number.

"All these crazy fur people. Security-wise, to stay in a hotel would be very difficult. There have been threats against me. I didn't want to get hurt."

Gee, I wonder how receptive Weir will be in future to education on fur farming. I'm guessing slightly less than zero. It would have been a good opportunity to share an opposing view without condemnation but that's probably lost now. And it's a shame because I have no doubt he will be a huge fashion designer one day soon. So thanks all you death threat mailing, bucket of red paint throwing, creepy stalker types - way to help your cause.

Also, do not mess with Johnny Weir. I luvs him.

Craigmont City Council Jonesing for a Dog Killing

Although this story seems complicated, from what I can tell, these are the basics:
  • A Pitbull called Butch somehow escaped from his Craigmont, ID home when the owner wasn't there and ran up to a 3 year old boy in August 2009.
  • The kid happened to be the son of the town's "dog catcher".
  • The owner talked to the Mother of the kid the day the escape occurred and was told the boy had not been bitten.
  • At some point later, allegations of biting and "bad acts" were made against the dog (I'm not clear who made the accusations but it doesn't seem as if any proof was offered).
  • The city council took custody of the dog and held a closed hearing on the matter which they did not record. They did not provide the owner with information in advance and refused to hear all of the owner's evidence. The council ordered the dog killed in September 2009.
  • The owner has been fighting in court to save Butch since then and is now taking her case to the ID Supreme Court.
  • Butch is still in the custody of the city council.
Is it just me or does this whole thing stink of small town politics? I'm guessing this isn't the first time a loose dog has "charged" a child in Craigmont so how has the council handled these cases in the past? Have they killed the dogs after holding closed hearings of which there are no records? Or is Butch being treated differently because he's a Pitbull and because the kid he ran up to is the son of the local dog catcher? I don't know anything about Craigmont but that city council is stinking up the joint something awful.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Oldies are Goodies

This is a posting from Alexander County Animal Shelter in North Carolina:

This female Pit mix came in as a stray from the area of Polk St. Animal # 10157.
Interested? Call: 828-632-1199 or Email Us
Shelter is located off Hwy 16 N near the National Guard Armory.
116 Waggin Trail
Taylorsville, NC 28681
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 8:30 am - 12pm, 1pm-4:30 pm

The posting indicates she was added January 7. From the photo, she appears to be a senior dog and to have a litter on the ground. Elsewhere in the shelter's listings are a couple of "Pit mix" puppies, 5 weeks old, added February 8. I am guessing these are two of her pups. There is a posting on Facebook indicating she passed a temperament test but will be killed tomorrow if unadopted although I have no confirmation on either of those things. I hope someone will be willing to take her home and give her a snuggly blanket and tasty food for whatever time she has left in this life.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Begins at Home

A couple who visited the Memphis Animal Shelter last year (prior to the raid by authorities) took home three dogs including an "injured and bleeding dog that had not received any veterinary care". This was the beginning of their "Streetdog Foundation" rescue which is currently caring for a dozen dogs. They have been boarding dogs, paying their Vet bills and fostering a couple at their home - all out of their own checkbook.

I would love to do something like this except I'd like to do it at our house. I'm willing to do the work and frankly, even if we had terrible luck finding permanent homes, I would be happy to keep a small group of dogs for their entire lives if necessary. It's that checkbook thing that is holding me back. Maybe someone reading this post has been thinking, "I have the money to fund a small no kill shelter and I'd really like to help some dogs but I'm not able to do the work". Hey - you got your chocolate in my peanut butter!

Dinner at Chez Dog

Yellow Gold Potatoes starting to grow legs so after a quick wash and trim - into the dog pot. Carrots getting whiskers so likewise with them. Chicken on markdown at the grocery store and voila! Dinner.

South Carolina Snowpocalypse!

Most years, we don't see snow. In fact this is the first snow my two youngest dogs, Linus and Patty, have ever seen - and they will be 4 next month. We all had a lot of fun in the white stuff today so please indulge me in a buncha dogsinsnow pix:



Patty & Charlie patrol the fence for all things abominable


Charlie managed to find a tennis ball, natch.



Friday, February 12, 2010

News from Athens, Alabama

Does this sound like a news story to you?

A lady was walking her dogs on leash when a loose Poodle ran up to her, knocking her down. The local mailman picked up a stick to go after the Poodle with and a neighbor came out to show solidarity. The Poodle wandered off and the police were called. They located the owner and returned the dog who had escaped from his fenced yard.

Maybe if you're in a reeeeeeally small town and it's a reeeeeeeally slow news day - nah, not even then. But wait - what if it's not a Poodle but a Pitbull? News story!

In fairness, the article does mention that the AVMA "says there is little scientific evidence to support the claim" that Pitbulls are more likely to bite than other breeds. The lady who got knocked down wonders what might have caused the loose Pitbull to run up to her. Just having a guess:

Donna Wheat of Athens said she was walking her dogs — a little white Maltese named Mollie and a brown and tan Yorkipoo named Reece — on North Beaty Street on Saturday morning, when her small dogs began barking at a pit bull terrier on the loose.

As Wheat’s dogs worked themselves into a frenzy, they wrapped themselves around a tree, leaving Wheat to try to untangle them while, at the same time, keeping her eyes on the pit bull.

If only we could teach li'l yappers to be a tree when approached by a strange dog...

Treats on the Internets

Fired Animal Control officer Alonzo Esco, accused of shooting pets and dumping them in a MS creek, will likely face charges

AKC lists most popular AKC registered dog breeds for 2009 - Labs, GSDs, Yorkies, Goldens and Beagles are tops

Residents of Chatham Co, NC can get their Pitbulls neutered for free this month

Legislation allowing TNR of feral cats in Idaho has been introduced - two commenters claiming to be Vets respond to the article negatively

Memphis, TN news:

Memphis Animal Shelter (MAS) is behind on responding to calls from the public - about 800 calls behind. The new director starts March 1.

Supporters of fired MAS director say the raid and abuse photos were all a set up

Local group working to get a free spay-neuter program established in Memphis

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Berkshire Eagle Publishes Letters About No Kill Shelters

Did you know that no kill shelters are places where "enslaved" pets are kept alive for our pleasure? Me neither but that's what one reader wrote in a letter to a MA newspaper:
Folks, put yourself in their position. Wouldn't you rather be dead?
God but I hope I don't get this guy on my insurance company "death panel".

Another reader wrote a letter in response:
No-kill shelters aren't there to just keep any old animal around to pawn off on some unsuspecting soul who thinks they want a new pet. They take much time and effort to work with the animals and the adopters to ensure that the animal will go on to live a long and healthy life with their new forever home.
OK, whew. For a second there I thought...

A Simple Request for Widget Makers

If you sell a product - be it lipstick, soap, or pet food - is it too much to ask for you to list clearly on your label's ingredient list "dogs" or "cats" if in fact you use dogs and/or cats to make your product? I have a thing about reading labels and specifically ingredient lists. Call me wacky but I really like to know what it is I'm buying before I buy it. And I don't want to have to slog all over the internet to figure out what it is you're talking about when you slap a "cruelty free" label on the package either. Just print up your ingredient list in plain language. Instead of "hydrolyzed collagen", just say "dogs" if that's what it is. kthx.

Click for graphic video of D & D Disposal/West Coast Rendering grinding and boiling pets into "protein meal"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ernest Alexander Waives Extradition

The fired Director of the Memphis Animal Shelter will be returned to TN to face felony animal cruelty charges after waiving extradition in NM. Albuquerque police arrested Ernest Alexander last week on a fugitive-from-justice warrant and he has been held without bond since. He is presumably being given food and water and therefore in much better shape than the pets he was paid nearly $100,000 a year by TN taxpayers to protect.

A commenter at the article linked above had this to say:

I have personally stood in the back "general population" kennels with Mr. Alexander as he relayed to me their need for a new facility and his desire to obtain successful adoptions rather than euthanasias. I have no idea how much of that was lip service or not, but I do know that the dog we originally went to get was already put down by the time we got there, and that the dog we did get came to us with pneumonia and ulcers on his gums, weighing 19 lbs. instead of a more appropriate 25-30. I only have a BA in Art History, but I can figure out how to not put a 4 mo. old puppy in with a 4 year old German Shepherd and expect them to share their food. Suffice it to say, Mr. Alexander knew what was going down.

Treats on the Internets

American Humane Association responds to shooting of shelter pets in Houston, AK

NYT article: A Neuroscientist Studying the Structure of Dog Brains

February 23 is Spay Day, originally started by Doris Day Animal League, now run by HSUS

NY man who killed 5 of his girlfriend's cats gets no jail time

Basic physiological explanation of the roles of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in a dog's diet

SC police officer tases a 25 pound dog twice, leaving coils embedded in dog

Also in SC, a terrier mix dog who had been shot in the head showed up at the doorstep of a no kill shelter employee. The shelter is offering a reward for information on the case.

NAIA Trust has an update on the Murder Hollow Bassets case for those who've been following

One of those polls designed to make pet owners look bad, no matter how they answer (Who thinks up these stupid things and why do they keep doing it?)

"I'll go to jail for my dog"

A low income family in New Zealand took their puppy, who had been hit by a car, to the local Vet. The Vet diagnosed a broken leg and gave the family a quote on repair as well as a less expensive option - amputation. Since the family could afford neither cost all at once, they offered to pay a small amount each week but the Vet declined. The Vet then refused to return the puppy saying he needed to be killed if they weren't able to pay for treatment up front.

The 19 year old son could not allow his dog to be killed so he stole the puppy from the clinic. New Zealand's SPCA threatened him with prosecution for cruelty but he decided he'd rather go to jail than have his dog killed.

I think we can all understand this feeling. No one wants to see a dog suffer and this puppy probably was in a good deal of pain. No one wants to kill a dog who is suffering from a treatable injury. And no one expects Vets to give away services because if they did, how could they afford to keep their doors open? On the other hand, the Vet was never asked to give away services - he was asked if he could allow a lengthy payment plan.

Any guesses as to how this situation was resolved? After the story made the news, the community rallied to save the dog and donations came pouring in. I am reminded, once again, that we, including our neighbors around the bend in New Zealand, are a humane society of pet lovers. We want to save pets, not kill them. A little less judgment and a little more understanding goes a long way toward helping us achieve that goal.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cruelty is Not a Color

Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton is campaigning for Congress. It was on his watch that the Memphis Animal Shelter abused and starved pets to death. But he thinks the indictment of 3 former shelter employees on cruelty charges is just dumb. And besides, they only got indicted because they're black:

He referred specifically to Friday’s word that three Memphis Animal Shelter employees, including former shelter director Ernest Alexander, had been indicted on state animal cruelty charges. Alexander, a Herenton appointee, was the first administration casualty when A C Wharton Jr. became mayor in October.“This so called justice system of ours – they are about to send three black people to jail about some dogs,” Herenton said.

And to clarify, when Herenton says "about some dogs", he means dogs that came in to the shelter healthy and waggy and ready for new homes but left as skin and bones in trash bags. And Herenton used taxpayer money to pay the shelter staff to do it. But yeah, the skin color of those involved is totally relevant.

Punching the Clock

I used to think guarding grain silos from the starving masses in a third world country would be the worst job ever. Standing between human suffering and the means to relieve that suffering while threatening violence seems like misery defined. But as much as that job would suck, it is a fact that distributing food without proper order merely hurts starving people more while local organized crime thugs gain power. So there is a valid reason the grain silos must be guarded instead of simply letting people have at them. And it's actually a humane reason, intended to do more good than harm in the long run.

Now I think the worst job in the world, for me, would be working in an animal shelter where I'd have to kill a pet. No matter how much good I might be capable of doing, I know I could not kill a pet I was supposed to be protecting. Even if, in my hypothetical shelter job, I was able to save 99% of the pets my shelter took in, I could not kill a pet. Note that I am not talking about euthanasia which to me, is the humane act of ending the suffering of a medically hopeless pet. I have done that. I'm referring to killing healthy/treatable pets.

One might argue that with all the good I'm doing in my hypothetical shelter job, I should just accept that I can't possibly save every single animal that comes through the doors. That I should focus on the positive and think about all the good my shelter has done. That I have to work within the system in order to change it and accept the fact that there is no magic wand. Perhaps those arguments make sense in my head but in my heart - no. I could not justify killing 1% or 1/2% or one healthy/treatable pet at my shelter. So my head is on some level grateful that we have people out there in shelters doing good, working for change, and improving save numbers all over the country. But my heart knows that shelter pets are completely at our mercy, that without our compassion they have no hope and that there is no humane reason to kill even one. And it breaks my heart to think that the shelter workers out there who are working hard to save more pets are sometimes the same people forced to kill pets.

There are enough homes for every pet in this country. Getting them all into those homes is a multi-faceted and challenging community task. But it is achievable. We are a humane society. Join us.

It's time.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Treat Recipes

In answer to the recipe requests I received, I offer the following (this fulfills the request for a soft treat and for one without eggs or cheese):

3 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C oats
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 C milk
1 T blackstrap molasses
1 1/4 C peanut butter
1/4 C unsweetened applesauce

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and roll dough out as desired. Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees F. When cool, store in fridge.

Note: This makes a soft, cakey type treat.

On the carob brownies - the ones I made were really really awful. I mean, the dogs liked them fine but they were totally ptooey to me so I came up with a goose egg on that one. In its place, I'm offering a completely un-carob recipe for anyone who might like to try it:

1 1/4 C oats
5 - 6 T butter
1/2 C hot water

Step 1: Pour the oats into a mixing bowl and add the hot water. Melt the butter and drizzle on to the oatmeal. Stir to mix.

Step 2: Add the following ingredients to the bowl and stir thoroughly to combine:

1 C cornmeal
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 C flaxseed meal
2 T blackstrap molasses
1 egg

Step 3: Roll out on to a small cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Turn off oven. Roll through with pizza cutter to create desired sized treats and return to oven for several hours.

Legal News

Nye Co, NV:
[Animal Control officer Tim] McCarty was able to convince the owners of FLOCK (For the Love of Cats and Kittens) to surrender ownership and custody of the some 700 or more cats to the county which, in turn, placed the animals in the care of a rescue organization, Best Friends Animal Society.
Nye County then filed charges of animal neglect against FLOCK for failure to provide food, water and veterinary care in violation of Nevada Rev. Statutes §574.100.
That was two years ago. The case comes up for trial this week.


Holly Crawford, who inspired outrage in legions of animal lovers when her Pennsylvania home was raided and several pierced animals were seized in late 2008, has been convicted of animal cruelty.

Crawford, a dog groomer by trade, had been marketing so-called "gothic kittens" -- with piercings in their ears and necks -- for sale on the Internet auction site eBay.

Ms. Crawford was found guilty last week of animal cruelty. The prosecutor will seek a prison term of 12 - 18 months. Sentencing is scheduled for March 31.


Proposed legislation in NY called Oreo's Law, supported by many animal advocates but opposed by the ASPCA, has a website which includes responses to claims made by ASPCA in their opposition:

Oreo’s Law is based on nearly identical California legislation which has been in effect for over a decade. Despite similar dire predictions [that dangerous dogs will be released into communities] in California, there is no evidence this has occurred.


To oppose a law with such vast lifesaving potential for all animals entering a shelter based on dire predictions about aggressive dogs which have not materialized despite 11 years of experience in California is unethical and indefensible.
There is also an action page on the site with contact information.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Eight Beheaded Dogs Found in IN Creek

A grisly discovery in a creek in Madison Co, Indiana:

Sheriff Ron Richardson says, "Possibly Greyhounds. There are eight animals in the water. It looks like none have heads. Heads have been removed. We'll know more once we get them out of the water."
It's unclear how long the dogs were in the water. Blood still appears to be around the carcasses. And there may be more dog carcasses downstream.

I hope they can more definitively ID the breed because that will be useful to the investigation I would think. The Sheriff's Department is asking anyone with information on the case to contact them.

Memphis Animal Shelter Director News

Out with the old, in with the new:
Former Memphis Animal Shelter director Ernest Alexander was arrested on animal-cruelty charges at his Albuquerque apartment Friday night.

He had been reported to be on the lam most of the day following his indictment the previous day.

Police in New Mexico found Alexander at about 6:45 p.m. Central time after the Shelby County Sheriff's Office tracked him to his native state, said sheriff's office spokesman Steve Shular.

Shular said it was unclear whether the former director was in hiding, but he "was not surprised. He knew officers were looking for him, and he confirmed that when he was arrested."

Mr. Alexander will be returned to TN to face charges after extradition proceedings.

The shelter will finally get a new Director in a few weeks:

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton has named Matthew C. Pepper the new administrator of the troubled Memphis Animal Shelter.

Pepper, currently director of Caddo Parish Animal Services in Shreveport, La., will fill the post effective March 1.


Before Pepper took over Caddo in 2008, that shelter's director, veterinarian and two others were terminated amid accusations of mismanagement.

Government officials and animal-rights supporters at Caddo say Pepper was able to increase adoption rates and reduce euthanasia rates through community outreach programs.

Sounds promising. We'll be watching.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Slap on Wrist for AC Officer Who Pleaded Guilty to Killing Dogs

Hoosick, New York: [Note: one click only for free, after that subscription required]

As animal control officer, [Matthew] Beck should have taken loose or stray dogs that he picked up to a local animal shelter. Instead, Beck killed the dogs, disposed of their remains and then forged state documents and filed false reports to cover up.

And to be specific, he picked up dogs, shot them & tossed their bleeding bodies in a manure pile on his farm.

The good news: He was charged by authorities for his crimes and pleaded guilty. The bad news: Apparently he wasn't cruel enough to warrant any felony charges so he's getting off with two weekends in jail for misdemeanor offenses. So we're straight, I want to clarify that this man was paid to pick up loose dogs and take them to the shelter so they could be reunited with their owners or adopted by new owners if they had none. He was their only chance at life. Instead of doing his job, he shot these pets to death and tossed them in a shitpile. They never had a chance. I think I could have argued for the felony charges.

He ended up getting caught because one of the owners whose dogs he picked up complained to authorities:

The investigation of Beck began after Hoosick resident April Stevens accused him of stealing her dogs, two four-year old Golden Retriever-Rottweiller mixes, Abby and Ginger. Her dogs were never found.


Stevens said that Beck had told her he had picked up two dogs after a woman reported finding them but that they were of a different breed than hers and that he had returned them to their owner. The woman said that she had found the dogs in her barn where they had apparently sought shelter but that they had no collars or identification. She called the police who in turn called Beck. He picked up the dogs.

Beck’s story fell apart when the woman who had found the dogs saw a flyer with the dog’s pictures that Stevens was circulating in her efforts to find her dogs.

As part of their ongoing investigation, State Police executed a search warrant at Beck’s Eagle Bridge property and found the remains of dogs.

I'm sure Mr. Beck thinks it's totally stupid that he has to give up two weekends for shooting the pets he was paid to protect. Sadly, Ms. Stevens has to give up every weekend - and every weekday - with April and Ginger, who themselves had to give up everything.

Fugitive Alert for Former Memphis Animal Shelter Director

Ernest Alexander, the former Director of the troubled Memphis Animal Shelter has been indicted on six counts of aggravated animal cruelty after shelter dogs starved to death on his watch. He is on the lam and anyone with information as to his whereabouts is asked to contact the Fugitive Squad:
To contact the Shelby County Sheriff’s Fugitive Division, call 901-545-5625.
Brave enough to kill dogs but too scaredycat to face the music.

Also indicted was Tina Quattlebaum, an administrative supervisor at the shelter. She's been collecting weekly paychecks of $780 for the past three months while on suspension. Veterinarian Angela Middleton has been indicted on the same six counts of aggravated cruelty. She's been drawing a weekly paycheck of $1663 during her suspension. Both women turned themselves in and bonded out. The Mayor says he can now fire the suspended employees.

Meanwhile the investigation into the shelter's shady practices continues:
In addition to animal abuse and neglect concerns, authorities have been investigating the shelter's finances and whether euthanasia drugs are missing.

A June 2009 city audit found that the shelter "had no written cash-handling policies and procedures to safeguard cash and checks and ensure continuous accountability for cash and checks."

Dinner at Chez Dog

This is a meal I fix a lot - oats soaked overnight in buttermilk or yogurt. Before adding the dairy, I mix in flaxseed meal and coconut (pictured) or almond meal or other ground nuts, depending on what's in the cupboard. I usually stir in applesauce too but in this case, I had some leftover dried dates to use up so I added those instead. This is a convenient, one bowl meal and I just add calcium before serving.

Treats on the Internets

KC Dog Blog on Killing Animals with Homes

Smartdogs on giving a dog a treat when he sits and how that's different from what Josef Mengele did to Jews at Auschwitz

HSUS launches a vegan dog food product called "Humane Choice" (first ingredient is organic ground canola seed)

NYT posts a Q & A with a Vet as a follow-up to their story on debarking

Sloth slideshow - I love sloths and I think the world would be a better place if we all tried to be more like them

10pm Eastern - tonight: Online chat with the Director of the Nevada Humane Society, Bonney Brown

Thursday, February 4, 2010

To the Animal Control Officer Who Said No - Thank You

The ironically named Animal Protection and Safety Shelter in Houston, Alaska had 4 dogs and 4 cats in need of homes, until this week:
Some of the four dogs and four cats had been unclaimed at the facility since November, and the city wasn't prepared to keep them forever, said department head Sgt. Charlie Seidl, who shot them.
"We stretched out as long as we could," Seidl said. [...] "And like I said, we can't hang on to them indefinitely."
Right. You stretched it out as long as you could, maybe you should get a medal.
No one at the Houston city offices seemed prepared to take credit for directing the action. Several involved parties, including Seidl, said Mayor Roger Purcell ordered the animals put down.
The chain of events recounted by [Evelyn] Rohr [a shelter volunteer] also included an order from the mayor to police to kill the animals after an officer at the shelter -- who could not be reached for comment Tuesday -- refused to do it.
Amidst the horror of this betrayal and brutal killing of helpless shelter pets, I want to say one thing that might otherwise be overlooked. Someone whose job it was to care for the shelter's residents was told to shoot them all. That person said no. He or she might be at risk for losing his or her job over this, I don't know. But I know it's easy to flap our gums and type our blogs about how we would all do the right thing if faced with similar circumstances. It's not so easy to actually stand up and do that thing. In this economy. In a small town. In a remote state. But this person did it. Whoever you are, I say thank you.

Why Don't Residents Bring Strays to Local Animal Shelter?

Residents of Barnwell Co, South Carolina are reportedly concerned about the high number of stray pets in the area. There is an animal shelter so I wonder why people don't take strays there so they can be cared for until they find permanent homes. Maybe it's because they know that's probably not what will happen to pets admitted to that shelter. Standard operating procedure at the shelter apparently includes a local Veterinarian who comes by on Fridays to kill pets for space but the shelter fills up again by Monday.

Anyone else see the insanity here?

The community should feel confident that any pet taken to a shelter will be sheltered and, in most cases, properly cared for until adopted by a new owner. That's what animal shelters are for - to temporarily care for lost and homeless pets until they can be reunited with their owners or new, permanent homes can be found.

A weekly shelter cycle of death and despair serves neither the pets nor the residents of the community and obviously isn't helping with the local stray problem. So why would we continue funding such an enterprise? Wouldn't the limited available funds be better spent saving animals' lives and offering more low cost neuter clinics? There is already a team of community volunteers in place - let's not squander their good faith investment by putting them to work on killing pets instead of saving them. I'm sure that's not what they signed up for when they agreed to donate their time.

The answers to the area's stray problem lie within your grasp, Barnwell County. Reform: It's a good thing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Your Opinion Please: The Debate Over Debarking

It seems like the debate over whether debarking a dog is cruel often comes down to this:
“You may think it’s horrible,” she said. “But if I had to give up my dog or get the surgery, I would choose the surgery.”
It's a hard point to fault. Most owners are aware when they get a dog that the dog will bark. But some dogs turn out to be really, really good at it. And while the owner cycles through various remedies, the dog just keeps barking. Eventually someone complains and the owner must make a decision: Give up the dog or give up the dog's vocal cords.

What do you think? If the owner has made meaningful efforts to curb the barking and it comes down to a choice, would you rather see the dog rehomed/surrendered to a shelter or have debark surgery?

Dogs Illegally Seized in SD

In September of last year, a group called Second Chance Dog Rescue, along with HSUS, seized 172 dogs from a breeder in Turner Co, South Dakota. The entire investigation and seizure was riddled with problems - of the U.S. Constitution variety - and a pdf detailing the case can be found here. A judge ruled this week that the seizure was illegal.

At the time of the seizure, HSUS stated it was "collecting evidence" and removing dogs. Now that the raid has been deemed illegal, HSUS appears to be walking back its involvement:
"The request that was made to us was specifically for handling animals and so that is what we come in under was that an actual request for physically handling those animals, and not developing the case," Senior Director of the HSUS Puppy Mills campaign Stephanie Shain said.
Anyone have an HSUS decoder ring to figure out exactly what they are saying here?
Tuesday, the HSUS told KELOLAND News it was simply asked by Second Chance to help with the removal of Christensen's 172 dogs and did not have any involvement in the case, obtaining the warrant or making sure what they were doing that day was legal.
I'm not a lawyer but don't all of us, including HSUS, have an obligation to make sure what we're doing is legal every day? I mean, even if we're just walking down the street, we're supposed to make sure we are complying with the law and especially if we are entering someone else's property and taking their dogs.

If someone is allegedly committing animal cruelty, I am 100% in favor of conducting a legal investigation and, if that investigation yields criminal charges, prosecuting to the full extent of the law. But these kind of shenanigans? Oh hell no. If we allow illegal searches and seizures, what will faux law enforcement animal groups like HSUS do next? I don't want to find out and I'm glad the law is being upheld in this case.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Treats on the Internets

Baltimore Co police documents portray dog groomer as a "nurse" to dogs used in alleged dogfighting ring

18 year old in NC charged with dogfighting, aspired to be the "next Michael Vick"

21 dogs seized in VA from man with previous cruelty convictions in and out of state

Owner of a dog who died at ASPCA veterinary hospital files suit after allegations the Vet kicked the dog

AVMA threatens Veterinary Information Network News Service with legal action over investigation

VA businesswoman produces raw food products for pets with ingredients from local farms

Lovely piece in the NY Times about two dogs who lived in an apartment building on the Upper West Side