Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Fear of Testicles

Why is the animal community afraid of testicles? And to a lesser extent, ovaries and the uterus?

Every time I see a male dog with nuts, I hear the sound of scissors in my head. It's a reflex. I'll sometimes verbalize, "That's a beautiful dog, but he needs to be snipped yesterday!"

I am working on re-training my reaction.

It is hard, though. I have been taught by the animal shelter community that castration is the end-all, be-all way to stop dogs and cats from being killed in shelters.

And while I am a fan of neutering at the appropriate age or triage castration for areas with actual street/semi-feral dog problems, I have had to evaluate why I feel the way I do about castration.

I have been taught to feel this way. By college professors, by supervisors, by an entire dog-rescue/shelter community, dog trainers, and even veterinarians. They have all said castrating a dog before the age of 6-mos is not just appropriate, but absolutely necessary for the health and well-being of the dog.

Which is untrue. Or it is only partially true. Or, it is only true in some circumstances. But it is not True.

When Mina had to have a canine tooth extracted and a silver dollar sized lump removed from her chest, I agonized over the surgery. It was not a simple procedure. She, at the age of 10, would be completely sedated and heavily medicated with analgesics afterwards. The surgery would take nearly an hour. It was not that it would cost me more than a $1,000, but the anesthesia and surgery itself that I fretted over. Was it necessary? Would she survive the anesthesia? How would the tooth extraction affect her eating?

The veterinarian was pleased with my questions, answering them with patience and enthusiasm. It was never implied I would be a bad person if I waited on the surgery or did not have it, although it was discouraged for Mina's future health.

I went ahead with the surgery. The benefits - elimination of a rotted tooth and a potentially cancerous tumor outweighed the risks. Her lifespan will be longer without that tooth and, while the tumor was benign, it was growing.

Contrast that with Mina's spay. I had asked if it would be appropriate to wait to spay when I started fostering her. She was 25 lbs underweight and had a major tapeworm infestation. The shelter was willing to wait, since I was a long-time volunteer and trusted. The veterinarian, though, assured me it was in Mina's best interest to spay her now, right now, and that waiting was bad. She could go into heat any moment and make spaying her riskier. The shelter staff agreed, even if they were willing to wait. So I relented, and she was spayed while malnourished, parasitized and unthrifty. It is not something I would ever repeat.

And afterward? After she had her ENTIRE reproductive system removed, sliced open for the world to see and stitched back together...the vet was not planning on giving her analgesics. I know Mina is stoic. Also, I know being cut open hurts. Given the choice between no pain meds and pain meds, mammals and birds self-medicate when they hurt. I paid for the pain meds, even if the veterinarian thought I was silly.

That was nine years ago and times have changed. Many veterinarians provide post-op pain relief to dogs who are spayed and neutered. Some still do not. I still contrast the surgeries. The spay was far more painful for Mina by objective medical standards, yet it was treated as if Mina was having a toe-nail clipping rather than invasive surgery.

Castration does have some health benefits for the animals in question. For male dogs, it will eliminate some forms of cancer. Since the procreative drive, an incredibly powerful force, is eliminated, male dogs are perhaps offered some stress relief (no drive to procreate and guard such a powerful resource). For female dogs, it will eliminate pyometra and other forms of cancer. Pyometra rarely kills bitches, but it does affect nearly a quarter of intact female dogs. By far, castration is probably most appealing because it is far more convenient for us humans to deal with neutered dogs than un-neutered ones.

On the other hand, castration is a serious surgery that we take far too lightly. For females, it is not just serious, it's highly invasive.

Neutering too soon in giant-breed dogs, particularly males, causes bone growth problems. Spaying a female dog after she has gone through estrus or pregnancy increases the risk of incontinence. Mina suffers from spay-induced incontinence. It is easy to treat but requires her to be on medication for the rest of her life. Spaying also triples the risk of hypothyroidism in females, another condition Mina has, also requiring life-long medication. Other forms of cancer, like prostate, are more common in neutered male dogs than intact ones. It is suggested bone cancer is more likely in early-neutered dogs, male and female.

I think this overview of the cost-benefit of castration in male and female dogs is useful.

I am not advocating everyone stop castrating dogs and cats.

But uteruses and testicles have served very important functions - and not just reproductively - for a very long time. Their removal causes a cascade effect of hormonal changes. They are not accessories. Their absence is felt for the lifetime of the animal's life.

Which is why I think removing them should be considered a major surgery and that risks should be evaluated with a cost-benefit analysis for the animal first, the human second. Veterinarians should not scoff at the notion someone might not want to castrate their dog nor should animal shelter officials deny adoptions based on the reproductive status of another animal residing with the applicant.

Stop fearing balls and ovaries, but especially testicles (they're so visible, dangling there), and start thinking - really thinking - about what spaying and neutering does to our dogs and whether the risks outweigh the benefits for each dog in question. I appreciate the sensitive position animal shelters are put in, when few people actually follow through with spay-neuter vouchers. It can be heart-breaking seeing a dog you adopted out returned with a litter of puppies in tow.

Still, there must be a middle ground in which shelters can ethically and appropriately advocate for castration of most shelter animals while allowing that testicles and ovaries are a) useful and important and b) perhaps medically necessary for some dogs. If I ever end up with another dog not from a shelter (rescued in another manner), I would take castration far more seriously. I might modify the age at which neutering occurred. I might even *gasp* consider not castrating a male dog. I just don't know, but I will put more thought into it than I did with Mina.

On my part, I will work on not judging every pair of testicles I see on a dog as unnecessary and in need of permanent removal.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Humane Society of Southwest Missouri - U R Doin it Wrong

Say you are an adoption coordinator at a shelter with 400 animals needing homes. You have a lot of kittens and cats who are in desperate need of placement. A really great family comes in, eager to adopt a kitten. They've found the perfect one, and their application is really great...except for one thing.

Their dog is not spayed.


If you are the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri, you say no. 

Who knew unspayed dogs and spayed kittens could INTERBREED thus contributing to the unwanted doat or kitog population.

Now if it was me? I'd ask about why the dog was not spayed. Maybe she has health problems. Maybe they do not have money to spay her. Maybe she is only 3-mos-old, and they want to wait. Maybe they are "reputable" breeders of dogs. Maybe they do not believe in removing the entire reproductive system of their dog. There are a lot of reasons not to spay a dog.

Our shelter system unfortunately reveres castration more than adoption. Or at least that is what HSSM is implying by denying an adoption based on the intact status of an unrelated species of animal.

If the dog guardians seemed interested, I would find a way to help them get their dog spayed. If they are not, then so what? All animals exiting the shelter are castrated, so even if they wanted an un-neutered male dog, it's not like he'd be getting down and dirty with the female dog at home.

To increase adoptions means letting go of outdated reasons not to adopt. Find more ways to adopt. Adopting castrated animals into responsible homes with intact animals is one way to do that. This is not unreasonable.

Around the Intarwebz

Dog Attacks - none of which were reported by anti "dogs I don't like" zealots over at
A little boy is still recovering after a savage mauling from a Border Collie in September. He's had several surgeries. 

A woman in the UK was killed by a mastiff owned by another renter. The dog was housed in the garden and has a history of aggression. The owner is being charged with manslaughter.

An 11-yr-old boy in the UK underwent 5 hours of surgery after being attacked by a stray Shar-Pei the family had taken in days earlier. It is unclear what instigated the attack. The dog was euthanized.

A loose mixed breed dog weighing about 100 lbs attacked three boys in Alabama.

 Two St. Bernards who were going to be rehomed by their owner are instead being euthanized after their third attack on a child.

A Labrador Retriever bit a child, causing 32 stitches worth of damage. When the dog was released back to his owner, the father of the child walked to the woman's property with a gun, approached the dog who was confined in a vehicle, and shot the dog three times, killing him. He is now facing animal cruelty charges.

Dear Mr. President

I will be writing in my dad for President in 2012. Bob for President. It has a nice ring to it, really.

Now, I was not planning on voting for you anyways, due to your inability to keep paltry promises and stick up for yourself and me, the disappearing middle class.

BUT, then you had to go and call up the Eagles owner and let him know it was super cool of him to re-hire a sociopathic dog killer! Nail, meet coffin.

I am a football fan. In order to be consistent, before I endorse a player, I now look up their criminal records (publicized ones, that is). If you choke, electrocute or beat dogs to death, I dislike you. If you kill people, I dislike you. If you rape people, I dislike you. Those are the three big no-no crimes in my book. I check up on players I like  here to find out if they have burned and pillaged anything lately.

Anyway, Mr. President, I hope you call up every football team's owner and thank them for hiring and paying exorbitant salaries to people who drive drunk (but feel sorry afterwards!), kill people (but get charges dropped and donate to charity later on!), rape women (but say it was consensual, so in your face, victims), and who have to be fished out of canals for swimming under the influence (it was hot!). Don't just limit yourself to near-MVP quarterbacks who fought dogs, gambled, and killed under-performing dogs with his bare hands but who now claim redemption and plans on owning another dog!


Disappearing Middle Class Personhood

PS: Disapproving Pit Bull Disapproves

Monday, December 27, 2010

Vegan Sugar Cookies

I'm visiting my parents for the holidays. My mom and I made some vegan sugar cookies today. Enjoy!

Pics by moi!

This makes about 36 cookies. We made two batches.

1 cup margarine
1 cup white sugar
2 egg replacers (Ener-G)
3 3/4 cup all purpose-flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup vegan cream cheese (Tofutti, Follow Your Heart)
1 tsp vanilla extract


1.  In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar. Stir in the egg replacements and vanilla. Gradually add the flour, baking powder and tofu cream cheese. You may have to use your hands at this point to finish the mixing. Form the dough into a long loaf and wrap in cellophane. Refrigerate for a couple hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease the cookie sheets or use a non-stick foil.
3. On a lightly floured surface (we taped down a sheet of non-stick foil to our countertop instead), roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place about 1 inch apart cookie on sheets.
4. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes in the preheated oven, until bottoms and edges just start to get light brown. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire racks. Store in an airtight container.


Yum! They were the perfect texture. The sourced recipe also has a vegan icing recipe, which I'm sure is tasty too (we used a mix). 

How Celeste Helps to Bake

She is ready to offer assistance during any point in the cookie making process.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Go out and adopt a dog or cat for christmas

That's right! If you have the space and time to fit a super awesome pound pup or cat in your home - DO IT. Do it now. If your shelter is open Christmas - and they should, in my not so humble opinion - go there and get yourself a dog or cat.

I'd say pick out the least attractive, the oldest, the one with three legs or one eye or smelly breath. Nab the senior cat with snaggletooth and a grumpy personality. Pick out the one sitting quietly in the corner or maybe the one front in center molesting his cage bars. Just pick one.

In several months, after some help from a trainer, I plan on fostering dogs again. Or at least try. If the bitchy dynamic duo don't screw it up for me (I'm looking at you, Celeste).

But if you can do it now. Do it.

To help inspire you, I have picked some of the saddest dogs and cats I could find on Petfinder. If these animals do not make you run out to get one of your own, SHAME ON YOU, YOU HEARTLESS PERSON!



Ha! I stole Russel's Chuck, because that is how I roll. It does not matter that I am actually 30 miles away, I have the power of tele-ball-nesis. My name is Archie and I am probably the most handsomest of dogs you've ever seen.

I am at a sad, hi-kill shelter, which means I am sad and at risk of being hi-killing. I do not know what this means, but I have Chuck with its superpowers of death-prevention. So, adopt me today so that I can continue to steal the Chuck's of the world from the Russel's of the world. You could even adopt me AND Russel. Except he talks in all caps, which is just rude.

Give me the gift of eyes, mkay, thanks!

I was born in Egypt 3,000 years ago as a Pharaoh's cat.

Now I have decided to try urban life in northern California.

If you are prepared to devote your life, sofa, and $10,000,000 in cash, I am ready to rule your world.

Apply today. I may decide to take over a small island nation.

Also. My name is not Klause. My name is not pronounceable.

 Yes. Well. I see I have ended up in a place that believes cuddling and blue jangly collars are all the rage.

They are not. Anywhere, actually.

Please save me from my saviors. They clearly do not know much about cats.

If these pictures and heart-warming stories don't make you rush out to nab a shelter dog or cat, I do not know what will.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

A 7-yr-old Golden Retriever was shot to death by a police officer who cut through the yard where the dog lived. In another case, an officer responding to a call shot a German Shepherd in the face after the dog charged at him.

Dog Attacks - none of which were reported by Anti "dogs I don't like" zealots over at
A Labrador Retriever-Chow Cross attacked a child and his father. The father choked the dog to death. A more recent story highlights the dog was on her property when the attack occurred.

Two Labrador Retrievers running loose attacked a leashed Jack Russell Terrier and then mauled the guardian of the JRT when she tried to help.

A 5-yr-old boy allowed to play with a neighbor's Labrador Retriever was bitten by the dog. His finger was bitten off but recovered.

Two Labrador Retrievers were found attacking sheep, ripping out one's throat.

Why these kids were playing football in a dog park is unknown. The football hit a dog in the head. The Labradoodle responded by biting one of the ball's thrower in the thigh, causing 15 stitches worth of damage.

A toddler suffered 300 stitches worth of damage from a Maremma sheepdog used as a guardian dog. The dog was alone with the toddler when the attack happened and will be killed.

A Belgian Malinois police dog bit a child multiple times in the face while visiting the child's school. The child was the last one to interact with the dog.

A Great Dane tore a 6-mos-old child from her mother's arms, causing significant injuries.

A Bull Mastiff inflicted massive injuries on a 4-yr-old boy under unknown circumstances.

A German Shepherd mix running loose attacked a Lab and then the owner.

A German Shepherd running loose attacked a small dog and when the owner intervened, the GSD mauled her.

Four Huskies running loose severely mauled a 7-yr-old girl.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Softer Side of


She's a white leghorn, bred for egg production and the most common breed used in the egg industry. She is bred to produce 250-300 eggs/year, 5 times more than normal.

Her beak has been cut off, a painful procedure that leaves her with difficulties eating and preening.

That does not stop her from enjoying a close-up! Ethel stopped to sip some water from a puddle, then paused so I could get this shot of her. 

Ethel Shades her Side

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to Save a Fallen Prius

My boss somehow backed her vehicle off her driveway and got it stuck. So of course I took pictures of the car's rescue.

The scene:
 Trying to push the vehicle up. Just kidding, it was just for the shot.

 Trying to tip the vehicle over, just to scare the boss.
 And the grand finale!

The most exciting part of the rescue was trying to turn the car on. I should say, most embarrassing. We had to bust out the manual (the boss wasn't present). Once we figured it out, it was smooth sailing from there. Keyless keys are silly, and I am glad Ford did not do such a dumb thing with my hybrid, Henrietta the Ford Escape.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Anatomy of a Rooster Fight

I am not talking the bloodsport. The normal kind. Fighting amongst roosters is absolutely normal and rarely injurious or fatal. Birds achieve great rank and can lose it in a day - nothing in the poultry hierarchy is stable and permanent. Their social world is in constant flux.

Most of their "fighting" is posturing. Roosters will offer every chance at avoiding a fight.

The beginning of a potential fight starts with the "I'm just pecking at the ground." Frost is the large white rooster on the right, Chaucer is the sporty fellow on the left. Frost used to be top rooster by sheer size alone. Chaucer is a jerk and loves to fight. Recently, Frost has fallen in the ranks. He is trying to get higher up, so he'll start a challenge with Chaucer (even though no one really likes to start something with Chaucer).

I've had visitors think roosters exhibiting this pre-fight behavior were being cute, unaware that inevitably a sparring session would occur. I don't know the root cause of this pre-fighting behavior. It's almost exactly like a food-call to hens. In fact, some roosters will vocalize like they would to hens. Showing off how great they are at finding resources?

Further Evidence Celeste is a Little Bonkers

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Pups Feel Better

Thanks for all the advice and suggestions! Mina and Celeste are feeling a lot better.

Celeste is nutsCeleste has an ongoing ear infection. After three different treatments, I am trying a food elimination diet. I think she might be allergic to rice. So now she is on unmentionables (animal products) all the time. She thinks this is great. I am also using a tea-tree oil* based ear wash. I think the ear is starting to look a tiny bit better. She is not shaking her head as often, and there is not as much gunk. I know elimination diets can take up to 6 weeks to work. She's been on it for two weeks. It's nice to see her be in less pain.

In other Celeste news, she is being a real bitch to Mina. I don't know how Mina takes it. Mina has been wanting desperately to play with Celeste. The puppy-no-more is not having any of that. What is wrong with her? Mina is a perfect play mate and is also supremely adorable. Celeste needs to realize this and just get over herself.

This is what they should be doing together:

Mina and Celeste tug

*A word of caution - Never use undiluted tea tree oil, it is toxic and caustic. Do not ingest tea tree oil. Consult a homeopathic veterinarian before making your own tea tree oil ear wash. It has to be diluted properly and at the right level to not cause hearing loss while also killing bacteria. If you buy a commercial brand, check with the company and find out the diluted percentage and their quality of standards.

Around the Intarwebz

Denver is all fuck you, federal Americans with Disabilities Act and fuck you "disabled" persons, we don't wanna, we don't have to!

Grab a happy tissue, because here's a sweet story of a family adopting two adorable Pit Bulls.

Charlie the pit bull, rescued from a dogfighting operation, is in his new home. RE bait dogs...sure, I am certain they exist, but I'm betting Charlie was a fighter, not a bait dog. Either way, he deserves a chance at a normal home life.

Shelters Doing Good 4

These are more ideas and suggestions for shelters to improve adoptions, reduce kill rates, and create community support and participation.

The Humane Society of Camden County expanded their volunteer base by opening up opportunities to teenagers. More volunteers means more exercised animals and more people to assist in adoption.

Like many shelters, the Calaveras Humane Society has a thrift store and offers gift certificates for times like the holidays.

I've mentioned this one before, but the Humane Society of Silicon Valley is trying to reduce its dog and cat population by offering a "Set your price" deal where adopters decide on the adoption fee. You'd be amazed by how many people pay the traditional fee and then some!

Humane Society of Tom Green County will be setting up shop in a mall with a storefront. This is a great way to reach out to people who may not have considered adoption AND community build with microchip and vaccine clinics.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Dogs Are ill

And not in the cool way.

Mina's rear end is on revolt.

Celeste's ear and stomach are engaging in a coup.

Can a dog be given pepto? I am too lazy for google-fu, internets, tell me the answer!

Celeste is also farting a lot. Some dogs are mortified when they fart. Mina, for example, blames it on me. Seriously, she stares at me when she smells her own farts. Or, sometimes, she stares at her butt in confusion. Other dogs, like Celeste, could care less about scenting the entire room AT WORK with rank odor.

That is all from the land of gross, sick dogs.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

DMV Employee Works for the Devil

Did you know that a government employee disclosing your personal information to extremist churches and mailing a letter to your home address, telling you you will burn in hell, is according to the government agency in question a personal matter? Last time I checked, bunions were a personal matter...violation of privacy and sexual discrimination by a government employee were not. CALL ME LUDICROUS. But you cannot, because I am right.

A transgender woman went to the DMV to change her gender from male to female.

The employee who did the change then stole her private, personal information, shared it with a freaky hater-mongering Church of The Evilness and mailed her a letter about going to hell and stuff.

This is the second time the employee has directed his fear and hatred towards a transgender individual.

The DMV isn't letting anyone know if the dude in question is still employed. We have a large pool of unemployed people, many of whom are not creepy bigoted assholes. One of them can take his place. That's my advice, anyways. I know firing government employees is hard, but two incidents of violating the law SEEM like reasonable grounds.

In addition to not disclosing if the man in question is employed, the DMV is also not apologizing. This is probably because the DMV never apologizes. Ever. The DMV would run you over with a car and would not apologize. That is how the DMV rolls. Get it? Rolls. Yes, I did that. Just kidding. I imagine The Apology is slowly working its way up through the chain of DMV command and we will hear about how sorry they are five years from now. Government remorse for the win.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Snuggling on the Sofa Leads to Cuteness

Before I go to bed, I must report upon the new Level of Cute the dynamic duo exhibited this evening.

Picture this: You are sitting on the sofa. The old lady Pit Bull dawg stares at you from - according to her - the improper vantage of on the ground. So you invite her up, and she is glad.

Then the not-so-little-muttskie Celeste gets in on the action. She too is curious as to why she is sitting neglected and forlorn on the ground. THE GROUND. Ignore the cushy rug.

So you invite her up too.

The old lady Pit Bull dawg proceeds to put her head on your leg, curling up as close to you as is canine-ly possible. The not-so-little-muttskie Celeste drapes her rear leg over one of yours, contorting herself into the corner of the sofa. And then, the coup de grace (minus the death part) - old lady Pit Bull dawg leans over and flings herself, gracefully, on top of Celeste...and Celeste is happy with this. You are happy too, because you are watching that awful 4th season episode of the Private Practice and OMG XANDER WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? And you need that dog love.

Moments like these make me ever so happy I kept Celeste (original plan = foster). Everybody touching, everybody contented, everybody just being. Plus, the cute factor.

Mixed Feelings

When I read this letter, I had a lot of sympathy. It seemed unfair, to keep this man's dog at a shelter because he could not afford multiple bail-out fees.

And then when I read today's update, my feelings - fair weather friends - changed a bit.

It turns out this is the third time animal control has dealt with this man and his dog. The first time, the dog was left tied up to a spigot, seemingly abandoned, while the man went shopping. The second time, the dog was loose and animal control returned him. And this is the third time, in which the dog got out of a backyard and was found by a good Samaritan.

Is what's best for the man best for his dog?

I won't judge this man's economic status. It is my belief a person's ability at caring for his dog has little to do with income. What makes for a responsible dog guardian does not, by necessity, require a lot of money.

And for someone who relies on emotional support from his dog, keeping them apart borders on cruel.

Still, I cannot help but give pause. In the nine years I have had Mina, she has gotten out once. A gardener left the gate open and Mina explored my parents' neighborhood. Since I am anal-retentive when it comes to checking on Mina, it was 30 seconds from the time she waltzed out to when I discovered her gaping absence. I called to her and behold, she came running. The horrifying things that could have happened made me even more ridiculous about Mina's safety. Celeste has never gotten out.

Granted, I have never endured this man's situation which involved living in a vehicle for a period of time. I try to keep that in my mind - it is easy for me to say a million and one things about this guy's ability to care for his dog, but I have never been in dire financial straits without friend or family to lend me their homes, paychecks, whatever.

Do I think this dog would thrive in a different, more stable environment? Yes. I really do. I believe he would do better in a home that could provide a secure housing situation, consistent opportunities to exercise and explore the world. To be honest, I think he should have been given that chance, but that is not coming from a place in which I switch the dog with Mina (because hell no!)

So I am happy (sorta) he has been reunited. He has a person who loves him, even if he does not offer the most stable of homes for this dog. But the dog is alive and with someone who loves him.

What do you think? What's fair for the dog and the man?

Celeste is a Bad Dog & Anime List

Due to the fact she just took 1/2 my bagel covered in chocolate peanut butter off my desk and was gnawing on it like she owned it. Wrong.

Now she is staring at me from her crate with a WHAT THE FREAKS LADY? look on her face.

Celeste logic - if you are not there to see me take the bagel off your desk, IT NEVER HAPPENED.

Also, list of anime I am currently watching. You don't care. I am just using this space for selfish reasons. That is how I roll.


Monday, December 6, 2010

8 Dogs Attack, Only Pit Bull Gets a Mention

Another "mythical" example of media bias. Those who engage in anti-pit bull zealotry would have you believe there isn't a bias in how dog attacks are reported. Anyone who is familiar with journalism, especially 21st "journalism", knows this is bull-crap. There are biases in the media for a whole host of other subjects, why on earth would dog attacks be any different?

In Crawford County, a man was out jogging when he was swarmed and attacked by eight dogs.

Guess which breed is the only one mentioned? Out of the eight dogs, it's only the Pit Bull mix who gets a breed shout out. Yet all eight dogs participated in the attack.

You can see in the video that the woman owns a whole host of dogs, ranging from Labs to Pointers to Pit Bulls to mixed breeds.

The jogger is recovering, and I wish him the best. I hope he does not suffer any permanent physical or emotional trauma from this frightening attack.

And maybe someone can tell this "rescuer", she needs to fence in her dogs, yo.

Shelters Doing Good 3

These are some good/unique/innovative things shelters are doing. This does not mean each individual shelter is perfect or ideal, just that they may be offering alternatives to the traditional animal shelter model. These ideas and tools can be a great resource for other shelters and animal lovers, to encourage a transition to a no-kill model.

For the second year in a row, the Calvert County Sheriff's Animal Control Office will be offering animal licenses at a reduced rate of $3.00/castrated animal and $10/intact animal from December 20-23. Amnesty license events are a great way to improve licensing and offer a low-cost alternative to those who may be enduring economic strife.

Sudbury, Ontario is offering a unique incentive to register your dog and cat - if they are caught wearing the 2011 registration tag and found running loose, no $125 fee for the first offense! Ouch to the citation if you don't have a tag, but yes to the incentive AND to the wide availability of tags, which will be sold in citizen service centers, public libraries, pet food stores, animal clinics and the Sudbury shelter.

Petfinder has a nice holiday program called Foster a Lonely Pet. This holiday open up your home to a needy dog or cat, giving them the best gift ever - a safe home for the holidays! Participating shelters are listed. The Henry County Humane Society Geneseo Chapter is participating and hoping some foster homes step forward for the 80 cats in their care.

During a crisis, it's especially important to make adopting animals incredibly easy. The Humane Society of South Mississippi recently took on 121 cats from a home (and I question if the animals were healthy and in good condition, why ALL of them were removed, but that's for another post). It's nearly impossible to move animals out of the area, so they're relying on the local community to step up and help. Which is why they are waiving adoption fees and asking for donations instead...the amazing thing about this is folks generally pay as much, if not more, when given this option!

The Hawaiian Humane Society is doing the same, offering a "pick your price" option up until Christmas eve on cats. With shelters overloaded with cats, this is an easy way to increase adoptions and get media attention! Also, the Hawaiian Humane Society is doing what every shelter should do to increase adoptions - stay open 7 days a week and include hours of operation for those who work. They are open until 7 pm on weekdays.

Having a responsible nonprofit take over your local government run facility can mean the difference between life and death.I've already profiled the St. Louis city shelter being taken over by Stray Rescue and the great things that have happened there. The same thing is happening in Collinsville in which Partners for Pets Humane Society took over running the Warren Billhartz Collinsville Animal Shelter. In September and October of last year, 79 animals were killed...with the nonprofit at the helm? Only 8.

Working with a pet store business that does not sell animals can be a great way to boost adoptions and improve life for the animals at the partnering shelters. In Rome, Georgia, Pet$ense - a pet supply store - only offers rescued dogs and cats for adoption in their store. This holiday, they are also putting a tree with adoptable animal names on tags - people can grab a tag, buy supplies, and donate them to the partnering shelters. Coolness.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Evidence Celeste Sorta Snuggles

Once upon a time there was a puppy who hated touching other dogs. She even disdained touching butts with her big, bestest, non-sister, Mina. This was a travesty, because Mina would have loved snorgling her not-so-little-not-sister. Mina never took offense. She also stopped caring about Celeste's opinion on Sharing the Sofa. If Celeste wanted to sit on the sofa, she would have to deal with Mina in all her warm, emo glory.

Finally, after many years, the puppy-who-is-not-a-puppy decided it was best to give in and snuggle...just a little bit.

But she would do it with a horrified face:
Celeste SORT OF snuggling

And Mina would try VERY hard not to just plop her head on Celeste's butt.
Mina playing it real cool
Must. Resist. Putting. Head. On. Butt.

Thus, the puppy became an adult. It only took her 3.5 years.

Around the Intarwebz

A man and woman driving by a canal noticed a dog struggling in the water. They immediately pulled over, got out, found a ladder, and pulled the 2-yr-old Lab to safety. He had clearly struggled in the water and was suffering from hypothermia, but survived.

A former sex offender living in a group home was savagely beaten by three men while walking his dog. The man was in a group home for former sex offenders. The three men attacked the man because they "didn't want sex offenders" in their neighborhood. When the man's dog started barking, I guess the three men decided they didn't want Pomeranian-Chihuahua's in the neighborhood, because they kicked the dog multiple times, killing her. Way to go vigilante justice. Sarcasm there.

A German Shepherd in Evans, NY fell nearly 100' off a cliff, suffering extensive injuries. Rescuers braved the cliffside to rescue the dog...who may be euthanized because his family cannot afford the cost of repairing the damage. I don't have any info on donating to help or if the dog has already been killed.

Burning a bridge vs building one or how punitive neighborhood sweeps do not help guardians or dogs/cats.

HSUS coordinated the rescue and housing of 100 dogs rescued from a commercial breeding operation. They worked with several other groups to help the dogs. In addition, HSUS is suing Perdue farms, one of the largest producers of chickens, for their false labeling claims that confuse consumers about the care chickens at Perdue facilities receive.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cover the Nose

Mina is jealous of Celeste's feathered tail. Celeste can use this tail to cover her nose. Mina tries, but her tail is whip-like.

Mina uses her paws. She will first try her front paws, placing them on either side of her face, curving over to that beautiful pink-nose. Then its her back paws, the outer one fitting perfectly over her snout.

It's never good enough.

Celeste drapes her feet over her nose too, but she has the ultimate nose protector in her tail.

And tonight, Mina finally took advantage of Celeste's newfound tolerance of snuggling. There I was, watching The Walking Dead, minding my own business when BAM! cuteness overload. Mina's nose under Celeste's tail. It was a thing of beauty, that it was.

Destiny Dog Supposed to be Killed Instead of Target War Hero Dog

Remember Target, the war-hero dog who was accidentally killed by Pinal Animal Control. She was mistaken for another dog who was supposed to be killed.

The other dog who was to be killed? Still alive.

And friendly. So shouldn't have been killed, anyways.

She's supposedly going to be a spokesdog for "Target's Law", which entails what, I'm not sure.

The person who killed Target has been fired.

This is scapegoating. The officer should not have been fired - they were doing their job. Remember, a perfectly, friendly, adoptable dog was going to be killed...and instead an "owned" perfectly, friendly, adoptable dog was mistakenly killed. These people are paid to kill healthy animals. Making mistakes at a hi-kill shelter is absolutely unavoidable.

The problem is killing nice, friendly, healthy dogs to begin with. By my standards, if this shelter wanted to be consistent, they'd fire their entire staff, re-organize their board, and implement a policy of low-kill/no-kill immediately.

And the idea that Destiny, the supposed-to-be-dead dog, was fated to live while Target was fated to die is total and utter bull-puckey. Neither dog should have been killed. Period.

This is the problem with our traditional animal control model. It's not The Problem, but it is one of many.

I wish Destiny much luck in life. I hope Pinal Animal Control implements some significant changes that doesn't penalize workers (like firing them) but creates meaningful change for the dogs and cats in their care. First step, find a way to stop killing healthy, adoptable animals! It is all smooth sailing from there.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Shelters Doing Good 2

I want to profile more good things shelters are doing, because I think they give all shelters and the public useful alternatives to killing animals. Plus, positive is always more productive than negative...tragically less memorable! This will be a continuing series.

The Humane Society of Bergen County is offering pet food to those in need. It's first-come, first-serve and not a prolonged program, but it is a short-term idea that can offer help to less fortunate folks.

Main Line Animal Rescue has a program taking temperamentally sound Pit Bulls and having them visit blind people. The dogs bring some joy to the people, and the program helps individual Pit Bulls get good, positive attention. It was featured on the Today Show.

The Butte Humane Society is encouraging adoption through their "take me home for the holidays" adoption drive, a far less stingy "coal in your stocking" approach to the "getting companion animals during the holidays is the sinful".

The Asheville Humane Society had 72 cats needing homes. A lot of shelters are facing a crisis of cats...some are coming up with other ways to get them homes rather than killing them. Last Friday and Saturday, they offered cats for free, resulting in 49 cats being adopted, woo-hoo!

Remember the St. Louis shelter's success with Stray Rescue taking over operations? Here are some pictures of the initial transfer from the old city shelter to the new shelter, taken in July of this year by someone who participated in that transport.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Celeste Has Become Perfect

There is a moment in every dog's life when they become Perfect. For some dogs, this is when they are born. For example, Mina. Other dogs take longer to achieve a peerless state. For example, Celeste.

This is all subjective, of course. Celeste embodied perfection when she was born. All dogs do. So when I say Perfect, I mean by my standards. Unfair and egregiously anthropocentric. This I know.

When Celeste entered my world, I met her with resistance. Here was a puppy capable of learning the bathroom rules in two days. It took Mina two weeks. As an adult. Embarrassing. Celeste explored the world with gusto and inquisitiveness. Mina thought all were out to get her. Not Celeste.

How fascinating, Celeste was the ideal dog, but for me, she was a mystery. So unlike the Gold Standard of Mina. Mina, sassy. Mina, leash reactive. Mina, dog selective. Mina, deep gazer. Mina, ultimate thinker. World on her shoulders, Mina. Woe, Queen of.

And there was Celeste, happy. Exploratory. Confident. Socialite. Decision maker.

I never disliked Celeste. I never DIDN'T love her.

But I never felt she was Perfect.

Humans are good at unfair.

Dogs don't care.

Celeste Hates Halloween
See? Perfect!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Shelters Doing Good

The traditional shelter paradigm is sad and depressing. After all, it results in the deaths of healthy, treatable dogs and cats each year. So here are some ideas, programs, things shelters are doing that help dogs and cats.

Live in Wisconsin? Have an iphone? Want to adopt a dog or cat? There's an app for that, yo. The Wisconsin Humane Society created an app to check out the adoptable animals at their shelter. Animal adoptions for the 21st century.

The Edmonton Humane Society is overrun with cats, adopt some now! There's 400 of them, whoa! Some of these cats will not thrive in a home environment and instead of killing them, the shelter is offering them for FREE (OH NOES, the fear of free, peeps!) as barn cats. You still gotta give them food and water, but in return they'll growl at you and maybe eat some mice (run away, mice, run away). So it's a win-win, especially for the cat.

Some shelters are bucking the "pets don't make good 'gifts'" trend and encouraging people to thoughtfully and responsibly consider adopting a dog or cat this holiday season. Adoption tip - try and avoid creating a reason to AVOID adopting animals, not when you don't have to!

It's not just privately funded shelters doing some good stuff, either! Fort Worth Animal Care and Control doubled their adoption rate this year by hooking up with PetSmart, which spent all the money to build an adoption center inside their store and donates $15 to the shelter for every animal adopted. PetSmart benefits - what happens when a person adopts a dog or a cat? THEY BUY THEM STUFF!

Concern for Animals Kills Them in San Bernardino County

In early November, 3 of a man's dogs attacked another one of his dogs. Animal control was called out and, per the traditional animal control paradigm, they confiscated the three dogs and killed them.

They gave the man a citation for an illegal cattery and told him he had to reduce the number of animals on-site. The article leaves much to be desired - did they give him access to spay/neuter clinics? Adoption assistance? What, in addition, to a citation did they offer this man with the illegal cattery and clearly way too many animals?

A week later, they came back and gave him a second citation. And told him, you know, reduce the numbers.

Something happened to the man that led him to relinquish all 114 animals to the county.

And, so far as I can tell, all of the dogs and cats were killed by their rescuers.

The animals were divided amongst four different shelters.

Yucca Valley Animal Shelter is the only shelter mentioned that says what they did with their new charges. They took in 38 cats and 7 dogs. And according to them, every single one of them couldn't keep their food down, and thus has to be killed. I find this highly implausible. The animals may very well have been sick, including animals who may have been irremediably ill. But the San Bernardino county region kills between 61-70% of the incoming animals. I could not find specific details for Yucca Valley Animal Shelter.