Friday, April 29, 2011

Turning Tragedy Into Triumph, Remembering Bella

A year ago, Sean Austin, an animal control officer for Cabarrus County, NC animal control decided to shoot a non-aggressive dog twice because, well, hey it was just too much work to continue pursuing her. The officer was cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting death of Bella, the dog.

Bella was a beloved pet, a companion to her canine brother and human family. She did not deserve to die.

From her death, though, came change. Perhaps not amazing, miraculous change, but the normal kind, the kind that takes time and effort and commitment.

Bella's family and friends did not stray to the shadows, disappearing from public view. This often happens to people whose pets are killed by either police or, worse, animal control officers who, when faced with a fleeing, fearful dog pull out a gun instead of compassion.

Justice for Bella was established April 29, 2010, the day Bella was killed. National media picked up the story because of the dedication and persistence of Bella's guardian and friends. From a small facebook page to a community 23,000 strong.

And Jeff Daniels, Bella's guardian, did not just get the story of Bella into the spotlight, he did not just fight against the horror of shooting a nonviolent family pet...he fought, fights, for all the dogs of Cabarrus County. He showed up at hearings, shared his story, and expressed his indignation that the local shelter kills 80% of incoming animals. He championed the no-kill mantra and encouraged others to do so as well. He is one individual and by sheer force of will, he is showing that caring is great but doing is all that matters.

Sean Austin has never said sorry.

Bella should, by all rights, be alive. She should be doing doggie things with her family. Taking walks, playing tug of war, wrestling with her brother, kissing her human sister, getting touched and petted by her family. She should be gnawing on bones and eating biscuits and enjoying toys. While her loss has transformed into a victory for other dogs in the area, she should still be alive.

I wish you were here today, Bella. I would not know it, because I would not know of you. You would be one of the many anonymous Pit Bulls who are loved and alive today. You would be like Mina, curled up and snoring in some far off city, across the country. In and out, the ebb and flow of your would be existing and I would never know. That I know you ,Bella, at all is only because you suffered and died. Because your family pushed and shoved and demanded change. Because there was a great injustice perpetrated against you.

May Cabarrus County truly embrace no-kill. That will be the only light out of such needless tragedy.

How I Survived Child-Hood, I Have No Clue

You know those kids who sidle up to dogs of all shapes and sizes, oblivious to any possible dangers? They sometimes meander up aggressively, full of child-wonder and vivacity. Other times, they shyly approach, gazing inquisitively at soft wet noses and liquid brown eyes. And they never speak or talk to you or even ask to see if petting your dog is safe and okay?

Yeah, I was that kid.

My parents tried their best to teach respect. Ask before you pet a dog, they would opine. Please do not stick your hand in that car with the dog in it, they would say, an edge of urgency to their voice. Don't hug that dog tied outside of the liquor store...that would be in a parental voice of fear and anger.

All to no avail, really. I was probably the kid most of you would have found - depending on your dog's personality - either insanely annoying or quite endearing. There was no middle ground with me.

I have this picture somewhere. It captures me perfectly. I'm eight or nine. I'm walking happily up to this dog, who is off-lead at the time. She's a Brittany Spaniel and boy is she happy to see me. You can see it in her posture, and you can see it reflected in mine.

That's how most of my encounters with dogs went. I was happy. They were happy. Life was grand.

Not always, though.

I sometimes dream of two dogs in particular. Big Malamutes. White with soft browns and greys. Furry beyond compare. Big pointed ears and amber eyes. They looked live wolves and to my 9-yr-old self, that meant they were Perfect. I dream of my younger self, this person who I vaguely know but love fiercely...she's sometimes an alien to me, though.

The dogs were tied up outside a convenience store, sentinels that most likely reduced business if anything.

Please forgive me for what I did next. As my parents trailed far behind, I ran up to these dogs.

And. I. Hugged. Them.

I know, right?

One of them growled, and I did not understand. I stroked her chest in what I believed a soothing manner. She growled the whole time while staring deeply into my eyes. The male thought I was pretty neat and inspected my ear thoroughly.

My parents rushed over just as the guardian of the dogs exited.

He exclaimed, rather surprised, "Wow, I'm shocked you didn't get bit. The female hates people."

I don't know if my parents said anything. I was a bit confused on the whole matter. Who ties up dogs outside a convenience store looking like adorable, huggable, wolves knowing one of them hates people? Why did she hate people, I thought. I still think that sometimes, and while my adult brain can come up with a whole host of reasons, I still think of those dogs with the mind of a 9-yr-old, and it makes me sad that a dog could hate people.

So please be amazed I made it through my childhood unscathed and unbitten.

What were you like around dogs, as a child? (Someone has to have been like me!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Douche-Canoes Triumph

That's right, folks. The privileged, probably mostly white, racist douche-canoes have won. And we all let them.

But hey, now we can lay to rest what we already knew: Obama was born in the United States, because ZOMG! a black person CAN actually be born IN this country!!!! Massive freak-out, for reals.

This is unfortunate, because just like with actual terrorists, you don't negotiate with douche-canoes. I'm talking to you, Donald Trump.

What should have happened is everyone who said Obama was not born here should have been forced to wear a sign proclaiming, "I'm a racist idiot and a douche-canoe, throw rotten tomatoes at me." But instead they got their way. Uncool.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Californian Egg Farmers Are Concerned and Confused

Back in 2008, California voters overwhelmingly supported an initiative that would require hens on egg farms, calves on veal farms, and sows on pig farms be given enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around, and stretch their limbs/wings without touching the sides of their enclosure. This is not an unreasonable request. But if you ask egg farmers, the world might as well be ending (and maybe they're right, the Rapture is scheduled for May 21st of this year!). You don't hear the dairymen/women and pig farmers complaining, yo.

I'd like to address some of their concerns in the hopes of helping egg farmers comply with this apparently difficult to comprehend law!

I don't know what not touching the sides of enclosure means! Okay egg farmers, so you're in a bind with this whole "stretching her wings" and "not touching enclosure" business. I get it, this sort of stuff requires some fancy calculus equations, for sure. I'm going to leave that up to the experts at UC Davis and the egg industry to figure that out. However, I did set aside some time to hand-draw a diagram that might jump-start the more complex process of The Maths.

Let me explain. This hen is sporting a 32" wingspan. So to accommodate the rules of the law, I have drawn dimensions of a cage that is 32.01" in length, width and height. I chose 32.01" because, per the law, the cage has to be larger than the full wingspan of a hen, so she is not constantly bashing into the wire cage with her wings. Now, if you have hens with different wingspans, here's my suggestion: build your cages to the dimensions of the largest wingspan.
Complex maths may be required for MORE hens!
But, but, but giving room to hens will cause all family egg farms to go out of business! This is coming from Hohberg Poultry Ranch. Now I don't know about you, but when I hear "family farm", I'm thinking something like this:
Marin Sun Farms 82

Hohberg Poultry Ranch has two facilities I know of. And you won't see any chickens. Since I cannot get a shot of the birds on the farm; here's the Hohberg Poultry Ranch itself:
Can you see Mr. Hohberg?

A-ha! See a family lives in the house to the right! Family farm!
Now, Hohberg Poultry Farm IS a family farm, because it's run by the Hohbergs. But it's not the kind of "family farm" I believe most people think up when they hear the words. Egg farmers, stop messing with our minds on what a family run farm constitutes. Honesty = best policy. Scary, I know.

Not all family farms will go out of business. The farm where you can see the birds and go on tours is going to be fine, because they already comply with the law (and go beyond it, hello grass!). The family run farms, like Hohberg Poultry Farm, is going to have to do one of the following: get a loan, downsize their flock, convert their battery cage sheds to cage-free sheds, retrofit their battery cages to be larger, build more sheds, or I guess go out of business.

I mean it seems a little hyperbolic to claim you'll go out of business without bothering to see if you can actually comply with the law WITHOUT going out of business. You've had since 2008 to get the ball rolling, folks! Stop complaining, start figuring crap out.

The egg industry's future is on hold!
Whoa! Color me surprised! But that's just what Doug Kuney a farm adviser to egg farmers has said. First off, egg farmers, get a better farm adviser, this guy sucks! He just told us you have no future and, so far as I can tell, you're still selling the same number of eggs you did back in 2008 and you'll probably still be selling about the same number of eggs IN THE FUTURE of 2015. That's my prediction, anyways. See, change goes like so: CHANGE OMG SCARY! *change happens* CHANGE HAS NOT CHANGED MUCH OF ANYTHING! Plus in this case, better life for hens until we liberate them all and stop eating their eggs! Ha, ignore that last part, because this your second and third concerns will come true.

But really, calm down. Like look at JS West, which has installed a cage system that has enrichments in it. Instead of the 40% increase in production costs UC Davis fear-mongers experts claimed would happen, JS West has seen only a 20-25% increase in costs. So that's like if it cost you 0.16 to sell an egg, it's going to soon cost you 0.20. That is what we call a minor increase.

Of course you fools will have to figure out the whole enriched cage v. cage-free "which is cheaper debate"yourselves. I don't have time to figure EVERYTHING out for you, geez.

Alternatively, we could all go vegan and nip this problem in the buttocks! A girl can hope.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Shelters Doing Good

Things shelters or rescues are doing that other animal agencies could replicate! Some may be obvious, others may not. There is no reason to kill medically healthy animals, and these are some ways to reduce kill rates.

Sometimes the ideas are repeated. It takes seeing them at least three times for them to start having a sticking effect. Or so I'm told.

Create a volunteer program, ask them to help coordinate a fund-raiser: Volunteers love doing stuff for you, shelters. Take advantage of that and create a volunteer program to walk dogs, socialize cats, increase adoptions, foster animals, and also help with fund-raising events. The Pottawattamie animal shelter is benefiting from volunteers right this second! Too bad Council Bluffs also bans Pit Bulls.

Network for foster homes: Some dogs, like a Boxer named Cali, arrive at a shelter afraid and appearing "unadoptable". Wrong! Most of these dogs just need some rest and relaxation in a home environment and then bam! Super Amazing Adoptable Dog is ready for her debut. I'm not so keen on the Arizona Humane's Society foster program name SAFE (Saving Animals from Euthanasia) but it's catchy.

Ask your local paper to profile a "pet" of the week: For reals, newspapers love this shiz-nit. You can even write it for them and they'll be all "hells yeah, we love dogs and cats, let's get them adopted!" That's just fact. Take Darwin, for example who is available for placement through The Humane Society of Washington County, which just like Washington D.C. is not in the state of Washington.

Work with your local news media, host a telethon: The Terra Haute Humane Society raised more than $9,000 with its 5th annual telethon, hosted by their local NBC station.

Other ideas

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Curious Little Alien

I was doing a purge of photos at work when I came across this 2008 shot I took of Mr. Lenny, lamb-let extraordinaire. This isn't the actual shot, because I doctored it up a bit with some textures, but it captures the alien quality of gangly lambs.

Lenny was born at the sanctuary. His mom, Virginia, was confiscated along with two dozen goats and sheep from a live-market auction. These are places where people can pick out the animal they want and he or she is slaughtered onsite.

It's funny, actually - not in a good way - but when the animals were confiscated, many people were appalled. Folks were creeped out by the idea of picking out an individual animal, looking them in the eyes, and then having someone slit their throats. Since only 1% of the American population is vegan, I can safely presume these outraged peoples ate meat or used wool or drank milk. It struck me as comical, this outrage.

Which is not to say one cannot feel compassion for the suffering of nonhumans, despite eating them. I know this to be true - I loved animals when I was an omnivore, then vegetarian. But I soon discovered it was not the kind of love I wanted to share with others, since it involved the unnecessary taking of an individual's life.

Lenny has his own value and worth, outside of what we create for him. This value does not change when he is on an industrial feedlot or a small farm or a live-market auction or even a sanctuary. It exists, absent of us. We do our best at the sanctuary to nurture that value, to respect it and honor it. Sometimes we fail, because that is just part of being human. I hope that mostly we succeed.

Also, you should just respect aliens. They could decide to eat you.

Lenny the little alien

How to Act Like Killing the Family Dog is Okay!

Just emulate what officials in Weymouth, Dorset did to a family's companion dog.

Step 1: Wait for burglars to break in and enter, leaving the door open and allowing the super-vicious-did-not-bite-the burglars-dog to wander out.

Step 2: Wait for frantic calls from the public claiming a large dog is running around and maybe panting or baring teeth or just, you know, taking a jog.

Step 3: Rush to the scene and use a noose pole to capture the dog who is so vicious, he needs to be dragged along the pavement to a van.

Step 4: Kill the dog two hours after capture.

Step 5: Blame the dog and the guardians after the fact by presenting evidence that the dog had to sometimes be muzzled at the vet and CLEARLY, after killing him, this made killing him okay!

Step 6: Claim that a confined dog poses a threat to the public after sort of apologizing but not really (because that would require admitting you're a stupid asshat): " 'We wish to express our regret for the undoubted hurt felt by the family, but in this case we had a wider duty to protect the public.'

Does Dorset not have an animal shelter? Is the public deeply threatened by a dog safely confined at a veterinary office? Oh wait, sorry, I'm trying to act like killing the family dog is okay. Sorry, Dorset officials, carry on!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Strutting Home

Strutting Hen

Or so I imagine. She's actually just heading to the barn and some  food. And soon she will be heading off to her new home.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

According to a Blog and Humane Watch, HSUS Only Has Only 450,000 Members

Terrierman posted yesterday "The Vanishing Members of HSUS". It is basically a reiteration of a Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) 2010 post. (Information on CCF)

Terrierman - perhaps rhetorically - asks if anyone read the article from a May/June 2010 issue of All Animals, HSUS' membership magazine, in which Terrierman is quoted. Raise your hands up! *points to self* Look at me! I'm not even a member of HSUS! But Mr. Burns seems to think no one has read it. So to increase the readership of this article to >1 (me), here it is.

Onto the mathematical gymnastics of both Terrierman and CCF (HumaneWatch).

First, you should know something about nonprofits. I work for one, so I know a smidgen! Like, for example, each quarter, we print a magazine. It's small and totally adorbs, because there are cute farmed animals in it doing silly things like snuggling. Anyway, here are some magical numbers for you to ponder. Let's say our entire donor database says we have 18,000 active donors. These are folks who have given us money in the past year. There are 2,000 people who haven't given in 12.01 months. And another 1,000 who will get purged at the end of the year if they don't sell us their soul stat! So you could say we have 21,000 people in our donation database. If we wanted, we could even say we had a membership base of 21,000.

This of course does not include our members who support us through volunteering, follow us on facebook, twitter, through our e-news alert, etc. If I included those people, I could add, say, another 10,000 people to our membership base super easy-peasy.

But back to our print magazine. Let's say we mail it to our donors who give $20 and above in the past 12-months. Our donor database program can winnow down our mail list to just those who have given that amount in a year. Say of the 18,000 donors who gave in the past 12-months, 10,000 donated $20 or more. And of that 10,000, 9,500 want to receive our print newsletter. They get a newsletter. We print an extra 2,000 to mail to new donors who give $20 or more (until our next newsletter is printed, then we switch to the more recent version)and to hand out at events. Would you suggest that the number of magazines we mail out is indicative of our entire membership base? That would mean instead of a donor base of 18,000, we really only have 9,500. Does that make any sense?

That's the math Terrierman and CCF/HumaneWatch uses to convince readers that HSUS does not have 11 million members but it has 450,000 and, REALLY, it only has 45,000 because Terrierman estimates only 1/10 of the recipients of All Animals actually READS the magazine. I estimate that is 9/10th's bullshit. I mean, he could be totally correct, but it's just a number he made up, not an actual estimate of Real Readers of All Animals.

Reality check, folks. If HSUS prints 450,000 All Animals magazines and mails them only to members who donate $25 or more in a year AND who opt-in to receive the magazine...that does not mean HSUS only has 450,000 members. You saw above how I got to 9,500 recipients of our amazingly awesome magazine, right? To do so meant starting with a larger number of people and winnowing that list down for printing!

Now, according to their 990, HSUS receives 92% of its "income" from the public (apparently you only need 33 1/3 to qualify as a publicly supported non-profit!). Theoretically that means of the nearly 100 million dollars they received in 2009, 92 million of it was from public donations. Now maybe HSUS has only wealthy donors, but the only way for HSUS to make that kind of money with only 450,000 so-called members (and donors), those 450,000 people need to be giving $204 a year.

That is not impossible, of course, but it is not really that plausible, either, since I've already pretty well established HSUS has more than 450,000 people on existing donor list. But just in case I didn't well-establish that factoid - remember, the 450,000 excludes the people who donate less than $25/year and those who donate more but opt-out of print-mailings. I know a few people who donate to HSUS, and they don't give $204 a year!

If HSUS had 11 million members and that was defined only as people who donated, then the average donation would be $8 per person.

That is also implausible. Not impossible, but I would find it surprising, given what I know about non-profits. I know epic amounts of stuff about non profits. Just trust me on that.

The average donation given to any charity varies DRAMATICALLY. St. Jude's claims an average donation of just $35 for its 5 million donors, and it receives way more money than HSUS. The Salvation Army claims an average donation in 2009 of $195. They too receive a lot more money than HSUS. It is still virtually impossible for HSUS to have a membership base of only 450,000 because of all that stuff I wrote above, peoples.

I do not know how HSUS defines a member. I don't care, either. I'm just here to kindly refute the inaccurate and fallacious claim that HSUS only has 450,000 members because on their tax form they mailed out 450,000 magazines. And that CCF is smarmy and creepy. And that Terrierman is wrong, bam!

The end.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Where Are All These Fake Service Dogs?

It seems like every few weeks, I'm reading an article somewhere about how people are buying service dog vests online and bam! wreaking havoc upon the world with their "fake" service dogs.

This always leaves me wondering how on earth anyone knows how many "fake" service dogs are out there. Maybe someone could do a vaguely scientific survey or something, but so far all we have are panicked cries of foul play and no factual evidence that folks are buying up service dogs like I do cheap stuffed toys for my dogs (I buy a lot of them, btw). Such was the implication the Sun Sentinel put out earlier this month.

While there are myriad online certification services available, their mere existence may not indicate an upsurge in fraudulent service dogs. Equally possible, their presence could indicate a misunderstanding of what is required for a service dog in public. Certification is not one of those things. A vest is not, either. A dog could be in a pink tutu wearing a rhinestone collar and still qualify as a service dog. Humans will always take advantage of other humans, and if you read any of these "service dog certification" websites, you might be induced through scare tactics to play it safe and buy one of their packages. The problem isn't, by necessity, people who purchase through these vendors but the vendors themselves.

There are also parts of the article that make me sad. "Kutsukos, whose service dog helps with his seizures, said the fake certifications "make it difficult for people with legitimate service dogs to do things.""

No one should feel this way, but I understand why they do. Kutsukos should be at ease. The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has made life easier for those with disabilities, include those who work with service dogs. If a business reacts poorly to one incident with a "fake" service dog, by federal and most state laws, well, tough shiz-nit. They still cannot make life harder for other disabled persons with service dogs...not legally anyways. Businesses have to deal with different customer personalities each day. Somehow they manage no to transfer their annoyance with every woman in a red hat because one came in earlier screaming obscenities. Yes, it is unfortunate that there are people who take advantage of the ADA, but more disappointing would be a business' inability to understand that one "bad apple" is not indicative of all apples.  Also illegal.

Like this imaginary restaurant manager, "A restaurant manager, for example, might think twice about allowing a legitimate service dog inside because of a bad experience with a fake service dog that barked or misbehaved."

Tough. Restaurant manager can think fifty times, but s/he cannot actually disallow service dogs inside their place of business. Not unless they want to face the penalties for violating federal and state law. 

Further, even the nicest service dog may bark or misbehave. Per the ADA, a service dog handler can be asked to leave if their dog is not housetrained or out of control. A constantly barking dog or a misbehaving dog would fall under the latter.

But what gets me about this article is this piece of tripe, "The best way to tell if a service dog is legitimate is to observe its behavior, authorities say. Service dogs won't appear restless or jump or bark. They will obey the disabled owner's commands, perform tasks and lie down passively where instructed."

Wrong. There is no "best way" to tell if a service dog is legitimate. A service dog who alerts for seizures may in fact appear restless, jump or bark. At the end of the day, a service dog is a dog first. Ideally, they are comfortable in different settings, take a few years to properly train or settle into their new job, and are not anxious about everything going on. But sometimes they have bad days. When they are acting up, I am certain their handler and business owner can come to a compromise - getting the dog and handler to a calmer place, going outside for a few minutes to calm the dog down, etc.
Some service dogs do not perform obvious tasks. Perhaps they are simply there to add stability or support to a person with balance issues. Perhaps they alert to signs of possible insulin shock.

You cannot assume that because a service dog barks or stands attentively instead of lying down that they are not a service dog. By federal law,a business owner can ask a person with a service dog if their dog is required because of a disability and what tasks/services does that dog provide. If a person answers they provide emotional support, then  it is reasonable and fair to enforce the no dogs rule, as emotional support dogs are not considered - by the ADA - service dogs.

It is certainly appalling and unfair that there are people who would take advantage of what is an equalizing law and abuse it. Whenever possible, they should be penalized or educated on how harmful their actions are for people who rely on service dogs to literally make it out the door.

But I have yet to see any evidence that this is a significant problem, that the majority of service dogs are actually fake. Even then, I'm not sure what could be done. Persons with disabilities deserve the same equal access as anyone else. While I would expect reasonable steps to be taken to prevent miscreants from using the law to their advantage, I wonder if these types of articles create problems where there may not be any.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Vegan Cadbury Eggs Arrive

When I was vegetarian, I loved Cadbury eggs. Their commercials were always way stupid, and they're using the same one now they did twenty years ago, but the chocolate, the sweet creamy goodness creepily made to look like an egg could I resist?

Then I abstained - to the best of my abilities -  from consuming any animal product, including dairy and eggs...including Cadbury eggs, oh my gosh it was so tragic.

The Queen took this picture.
But no more. This year, I bought some vegan creme eggs, aka Vegan Cadbury Eggs. They just arrived today after a two-day jaunt through the postal service.

These "eggs" were made for me, not in some ginormous warehouse or on some large, anonymous piece of equipment. They were made by etsy user Queenbalch, and if I was going to buy vegan cadbury eggs, I'd like their creator to be a Queen, so this is perfect.

I have had one already, of course, and plan on having a second asap. It is my belief that Cadbury eggs were meant to be consumed in couples.

Now all I care about in a good Cad-egg is a creamy innard that is full of sweetness. These are certainly sweet, although not as dripping gooey as the non-vegan alternative. But! I remember getting really annoyed at the original Cadbury eggs when they would like ooze all over my fingers and get in my hair and eyebrows and ears and stuff. Just kidding, that never happened, because hello! Cadbury eggs go straight in the mouth, peoples. But they would get sticky goo all over my fingers, which would remind of real eggs and eww, that is just gross. The Queen's eggs have the right amount of cream:goo factor that keeps the innards in the egg and thus IN MY MOUTH.

The chocolate is not too dark, because I don't really like dark chocolate. Some people do. It's not the milky chocolate, either, it's more of a semi-sweet deal. It mixed perfectly with the uber-sweet center.

So if you ever wanted to try vegan cadbury eggs and have $10 to spare, please order some today! Tell me if you like them or what! And if you don't, mail them to me!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Let's Not Forget the Rats

Rats get a bum rap. These smart, resourceful creatures inspire a rather disproportionate amount of dislike from the general public. Most people who fear them have had no contact with an actual rat. Perhaps they would feel differently if they knew rats could learn their own name, be trained to do stupid tricks, navigate mazes, can form strong social bonds, experience pain, empathize, and learn complex tasks. Perhaps not - it is just so inconvenient to live in a world alongside rats, these wild little creatures who deign to share such intimate space with humans.

So people poison them. They use snap traps to kill or maim them. Glue traps are used to cause a slow and excruciating death. Even the seemingly kindest method, live trapping, has inherent problems. Moving a resident wild animal to a novel environment, especially one they may not be familiar with (like moving an urban rat to a forest) is most likely a death sentence.

Buying a lethal poison is made easy for us humans too. Slip into any hardware, feed supply or big box store and you'll find some of the most deadly poisons for both nonhumans and humans around, sitting innocently in the garden section. Gone are the days of warfarin, a poison that stops blood from clotting. It kills an animal very slowly and leaves their internal body cavity a sea of engorged organs and blood. Not a nice way to go. Its popularity has declined because of nature's adaptivity - rats have slowly, over time, become more resistant to the toxin.

So now there are wafarin derivatives, like D-con. The active ingredient in D-con is far more toxic than wafarin. It has a longer half-life too, meaning once the poor rat finally ends his death throes, it will take up to 156 days to be eliminated. If another animal eats that rat, they consume the D-con too...and it has additive effects, meaning the more poisoned animals they eat, the more like that predator/scavenger is to die from its poisonous affects as well.

Which is what everyone is up in arms about as cute fuzzy predator animals, like baby bobcats, are turning up dead from brodifacoum (or superwarfarin) toxicity. One poisoner opines on how awful it might have been that the owl he found dead might have suffered the same painful death as the rats he so easily disregards and kills. Nearly all the wildlife that researchers have tested for these rodenticides are showing up positive, because it is easy to get poisoned bait.

In 2008, the EPA instituted new regulations that would theoretically prevent kids from, you know, eating those poisoned baits that we so gleefully toss to other mammalian species. And now, come June, federal regulations will theoretically ban the sale of these rodenticides to the general public. You won't be able to buy it at Wal-Mart, but you'll still be able to stop on by the local feed store and get it there. That is kind of a glaring loophole.

While I appreciate the potential threats rats pose, the ease at which people can purchase deadly poisons is appalling. We know brodifacoum is deadly dangerous. We know it has an extremely long half-life. We know it inflicted unnecessary suffering on other species and continues to do so. Yet we spend so little time and energy doing what it takes to exclude rats and other "pests" from our living areas. We take the easy way out for us, the painful, permanent one for the targeted animals (and non-targeted animals as well).

I certainly don't have all the answers for all the so-called "pest" woes. And they aren't pests, not really. We use that word to make it easier to kill them; it reduces them to the class of "weeds", easy to dispose of them without much thought. It only seems reasonable, though, that we should try all other avenues of exclusion and deterrence before ever considering killing another living being. And if you're me, you won't even go that far unless me and my dogs wake up to a rat brandishing a knife.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Chloe Has Fled the Nest

Sweet, sensitive Chloe went to her new home today. She was excited and happy to go. This is such a far cry from the clingy, needy puppy I met a month and a half ago. With only a little effort on my part, Chloe has transformed into a confident, people-social puppy instead of a one-person velcro dog.

This parting was hard. I felt my heart crack a little when she trotted happily out the door. It's amazing how dogs can touch in such small but profound ways.

The household is calmer and more comfortable. Mina is back to her normal self, no longer cowed by a puppy with teeth. Celeste is happiest when it's just me and Mina.

I'm going to give myself time off until the next foster dog. But I will keep fostering. Chloe would have died, and if I can save the life of just one dog, I'll do it. As I continue to reiterate, fostering is selfish selflessness. I love that dichotomy.

I wish you the best, dear Chloe. You made me a kinder, more tolerant person. Have a good, long life.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

I love that there is a little community here...who love Mina. Thank you for the words of ninja-encouragement. They made me laugh and smile, which is exactly what I needed. It is comforting knowing there are other people out there who find Mina as neat and awesome as I do. : )

Watching a beloved companion age is painful and joyous. Their lives are so much shorter than ours, so knowing Mina will not live another 20 years hurts in a profound way. But I've watched her morph from a shy shadow into a confident face-licker these past nine years. And I expect at least another 5-7 years with this amazing dog.

Noble Pink Nosed Pit Bull

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mina is Cute, Tell Her She is Awesome Too!

That is pretty darn cute. You just have to ignore Celeste's SHE IS TOUCHING ME look. Mina dreams of these days, when she can rest touching with Celeste. I'm glad to see Celeste is finally accepting of Mina's Awesomeness.

Speaking of Mina, she has lumps. Some are regular "Old Lady Lumps" and some might not be. True to her  FIRE IN THE THEATER mentality, the vet was all "Yeah, they may be squamous cell carcinoma, or they may not..." which just sounds like "CANCER is eating your dog alive".

Now every time Mina acts off, I think she is dying of cancer. How lame is that? Even sadder is that I don't want to verbalize any of this, because I have the irrational fear that once you speak something aloud, it becomes a reality. So no cancer comments. All comments must be about how Amazingly Cool Mina is.

Next month, Mina is getting her "smooth bumps" removed. These are potentially malignant tumors that make you think they're nothing, but really their tendrils of evil are infiltrating your dog's body. They are nothing. That's what I tell myself. I go to sleep at night believing they are benign little buggers. I wake up thinking Mina's got the big C. I do not like waking up like that.

Think nice thoughts for Mina. I am being melodramatic, I know. Anything to do with Mina inspires a bit of extremism on my part.

Because seriously, she's a freaking ninja and will shuriken those cancer cells like whoa. Or something like that:

I am a sad ninja pit bull

Friday, April 8, 2011

Chloe Has Suitors

Before that news, a picture.

And why is Chloe wet? While I was showering, a little black-nosed puppy poked the door. I slipped it open, thinking no dog in her sane mind would just waltz right in. Thus an insane puppy pranced into the shower, lapping up the water, and soaking up the spritz coming from the shower head. I had to shove her out. Miffed, she rammed the door with her nose and huffed off.

Back to the title, Chloe - after more than a month of NO ONE interested in her - now has potential adopters up the wazoo. Two are meeting her on Sunday.

One woman can take Chloe to work. Weird thing is her last dog, who passed away in February, was also named Chloe and oh my gosh, please to not be trying to replace past dog with a new dog because she has the same name. I don't believe that is the case, because Chloe is super-awesome-adorbs and who wouldn't want to adopt a dog who jumps into the shower with you? Silly people, that's who. I like this adopter on paper a lot, because Chloe would get to go to work, interact with kids on a daily basis, and also get much-needed adult people socialization.

The second woman has a room-mate, so Chloe would always have someone around. She works 8 hours a day, though, so it sounds like it would be incumbent on the room-mate to commit to helping with Chloe. But she wants Chloe to snorgle in bed and Chloe has missed out on that due to my two miscreant canines not wanting to share the bed. She likes Pit Bulls and dislikes Malteses, so that's cool. Just kidding, I lurve me some tear-stained Maltese action jackson.

Chloe needs someone who understands dogs aren't perfect, that even 6-mos-old puppies have issues that need management and modification. Chloe needs someone who answers her nose bop at the shower door with a "come on in!" and who is ever so patient with the evening ritual of Run Away From You So I Do Not Have to Go to Bed Game. Even cookies don't always win her over.

And someone who wouldn't mind me visiting Chloe every now and then would be nice.

Hey, Chloe has suitors! Sing a song of praise that one of them is the perfect guardian for the Chloe-meister.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

No Mention of Breed in Article on an AKC German Shepherd Dog Attack

PK Shepherds photo, Rita at 6-mos-old
Take this story out of Middletown, Connecticut in which a man's dog keeps eating people! Just kidding, she doesn't eat anyone. She does maul another dog severely, then bites the animal control officer investigating the attack. The dog, Rita, already was supposed to be under strict control after she bit a woman in the leg, causing serious wounds.

There are no details in the article about how the dog attack on the other animal and the human occurred.

There are no details in the article on the breed of dog. But it was easy to figure out with a little google-fu.

Rita, an AKC conformation German Shepherd was killed.

At least one person immediately assumes,

"" That happened in my neighborhood, and they are Pit Bulls, mean nasty ones too!!! I've personally seen 3 pit bulls in his yard, but I think two of them were one of his friends dogs."

Several other comments clear up the situation - the dog was a German Shepherd.

Indeed, she was. In fact, the owner of the dog breeds German Shepherds.

Apparently all the dogs he owns have some sort of behavioral problem, if the comments are to be taken at face value. They have to be somewhat manageable, since they are taken to conformation events and generally it is unacceptable for dogs to be eating people then.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Saddest Office Buddy Ever

If you are not crying for Mina, you are an awful human being. FOR REALS!

Shelters Doing Good

Things shelters or rescues are doing that other animal agencies could replicate! Some may be obvious, others may not. There is no reason to kill medically healthy animals, and these are some ways to reduce kill rates.

Sometimes the ideas are repeated. It takes seeing them at least three times for them to start having a sticking effect.

Ask the community for help: The Durham Humane Society loves their new shelter but needs some help with the upkeep costs. So they are asking the community to participate in making the shelter last longer.

Reduce shelter fees and hold adoption events off-site: The Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach did both! They hosted an adopt-a-thon at a Sam's Club and cut the prices of adoption down!

Go with a theme: Okay, so they didn't actually do it but the Humane Society of the Black Hills SHOULD have marketed their half-price on adoptions as a way to be Green this St. Patrick's Day. Not that I celebrate, but the shelter is on St. Patrick's street so it seemed like an easy in.

Promote adoptable animals through local media: The Rome Humane Society encourages folks to adopt Rusty, an adorbs senior Dobie who is a big lug and whose adoption fee is cheaper but not because Rusty isn't full of very expensive love. He is. Which is why you should adopt him. Most papers will happily post about a needy dog or cat at your shelter.

Other ideas

Rooster on the Lam Takes Five Animal Control Vans to Catch

Happy Couple
All your trees belong to us! Not the actual rooster.
Oh geez, imagine if every animal control in the country put as much effort into saving the lives of dogs and cats as Okaloosa County Animal Services did in capturing one stray rooster.

They used five animal control vehicles to try and corral the wayward bird. In 20 minutes one officer had him captured. But it took like five months for them to even get out there and catch him.

Now, if anyone knows chickens, they know the best time to try and catch them is at dusk or night, when they are roosting. Chickens have HORRIBLE night vision. Trust me, I know this, having spent several nights in my past rounding up chickens from a cockfighting operation and a hoarding situation. You don't try and catch chickens when they're up and spunky. That's silliness.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mina Is A Patient Dog

I took all these videos, trying to capture Chloe so that potential adopters could see her in a home setting. While I may have some skill with still photography, video is not my strong suit. At all. I kept getting the angle wrong. There's this one video where all you see is Mina laying there, wagging her tail, staring at me and willing me to acknowledge her. It takes me forever and a day to get her message. She lays through the puppy bashing into her, chasing the ball, and getting cookies. She is the picture of an attentive, gentle soul. These are the moments when I cherish and love her fiercely.

Here is one of the videos. Chloe is a spaz and amazingly Mina is the picture of calm and centered.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Perfect Little Hen

Aurora is the tiniest hen chick. She shouldn't be, though. Aurora should be larger, but life didn't treat her so kindly. It started inside a home in Sacramento. The house was situated in a regular neighborhood. But the man who lived in the home was not so normal. He loved chickens...too much. And his love did not translate into a great life for the birds, who lived amidst their own feces, were over-breeding, and who faced deadly dangers from feral cats, rats and hawks.

Many of Aurora's siblings died from preventable diseases acquired at the hoarder's home. She was abandoned by her mom. When she finally found a new friend in Bertha, the best hen to have ever graced the sanctuary grounds, their bond was cut short when Bertha, plagued by painful arthritis and an unknown illness, died. Aurora mourns Bertha in a simple way - she perches on the same spot every night where she and Bertha shared warmth. She does this despite pecks from other hens and despite the fact the perch is a little higher than she prefers.

We want Aurora to be happy. It is always hard to watch a wonderful creature struggle to find her place. The other chickens are not keen on being friends with Aurora, but this has not stopped her from trying to be friends with them.

Lately Aurora has chosen to hang out with Lavender, a hen rescued from an egg farm (who would have been slaughtered at the young age of 2). Aurora loves to emulate Lavender.

Aurora Looking At You

Aurora and Friend

Aurora Likes to Copy

Friday, April 1, 2011

Around the Web

Dogs and Cats
  • A dog in Japan who survived the earthquake and tsunami was rescued in his now-floating home after 3-weeks at sea.
  • Tana, the French Bulldog puppy, is the first known of her breed to be a chromosomal XX female with cryptorchid testicles. 
  • Allergic to cats? Get vaccinated!
  • Fred and Ginger, two Labrador Retrievers, decided to go swimming in icy waters, only to find that that was a bad idea. Ginger was able to get out, but Fred was stuck, clinging to a piece of ice. Ginger barked and barked, alerting hikers to her buddy's plight. She then alerted her guardians. Rescuers pulled Fred safely out and - get this - the doofus guardians who somehow let their dogs get loose blame Fred for being stupid! RUDE!
  • Frenchies were domesticating dogs 15,000 years ago. They ate them too!
  • A policeman in Indiana rescued a woman from her burning home. Which is super cool, but what about the woman's beloved companion dog who stayed by her side the WHOLE time and only left when the officer was carrying her out to safety.

  • Whale and dolphin death toll during Deepwater Horizon oil disaster may have been greatly underestimated, because people suck.
  • Idiot humans strike again. Asian ladybugs are invading the UK, outcompeting native ladybug species. The insects are non-native, introduced for aphid control. Go team stupid!