Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Panhandling Dogs
Cruelty suspected outside of NY baseball stadiums

Working in Manhattan, I see a number of homeless people sitting on the sidewalk asking for money. One man I see regularly uses a cat and a dog to encourage passing people to hand over their change. The animals are not on leash, but seem to be trained to sit in their assigned spots. However, every time I see them, I worry that the animals might get startled and dart into the busy city street.

Recently, a pandhandler has been setting up in front of the Met and Yankee baseball stadiums with a dog named Coffee. This dog sits for hours dressed up in team gear, wearing sunglasses and holding a pipe in her mouth. The worst part is Coffee wears a shock collar that concerned fans claim is used to keep the poor dog from lying down.

After receiving several calls, the ASPCA sent a team of agents from its Humane Law Enforcement department to Yankee Stadium last weekend during the popular rival Subway Series between the two New York teams. Unfortunately, Coffee wasn't present and the ASPCA doesn't have any evidence that any NYS animal cruelty laws have been violated. The ASPCA is continuing to monitor the situation and urges anyone who sees the dog to call their Humane Law Enforcement department at 212-876-7700, ext. 4450, or email enforcement@aspca.org.

Concerned baseball fans have created a Stop Abusing Coffee Facebook page.

Have you seen any panhandling dogs?

News: Guest Posts
Maddie’s Matchmaker Adoptathon: No Pet Left Behind
This year, seniors and animals with health conditions get a boost

Last year, Bay Area animal shelters—fueled by the generosity of Maddie’s Fund—joined together to find homes for nearly 2,000 dogs and cats in a single weekend, with some organizations saving more pets in those two days than in the previous two months. The success of the adoptathon was not only unprecedented in terms of the number of animals who found homes, but it proved to be the largest collaboration of Bay Area shelter/rescue organizations in history.

Now with the second Maddie’s Matchmaker Adoptathon (June 4–5), shelters and rescue groups in Alameda and Contra Costa counties aim to shatter that record.

Like last year, Adoptathon adoptions will be free for qualified adopters, thanks to Alamada-based pet rescue foundation, Maddie’s Fund, which will donate a minimum of $500 to the adopting organization for every pet who finds a new home that weekend. To make sure no pet is left behind, the fund will double that figure in the case of every dog or cat older than 7 years of age or  diagnosed with one or more treatable medical conditions. For an animal that is senior and has a health condition—shelters will receive $1,500.  

Maddie’s Fund has set aside $2 million for this year’s Adoptathon—double what it spent last year—to cover this ambitious goal.

Maddie’s Fund was established by Dave Duffield, founder of Workday and PeopleSoft, and his wife Cheryl to help create a no-kill nation where all healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats are guaranteed a loving home. To date, Maddie’s Fund has given $96 million to animal shelters and rescue organizations across the U.S.

⇒ Look for Christie Keith from Maddie’s Fund, she’ll be our special guest at Bark’s June 1 open thread a few days before the big event!

News: Guest Posts
Muttville Celebrates 1,000 Senior Dog Rescues
Party for older pups on May 10 in San Francisco

It ain’t easy finding homes for senior shelter and rescue dogs. That’s why there are people who specialize in this particular population. They understand the joys and challenges of placing an older dog in a new home—and know how to connect the right people with these special pups.

  So we were thrilled to hear that Muttville, a Bay Area senior dog rescue, clocked its 1,000th rescue (in four years). It’s a big accomplishment, and even San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee recognized the breakthrough by proclaiming May 10, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue Day.   Muttville volunteers and supporters, as well as fans of canine golden oldies and San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, will celebrate the milestone with an informal senior dog parade on May 10, 6 to 8 p.m., weather permitting, at Civic Center Plaza across from City Hall.   Of course, the rescue is also pretty big news for number 1,000—a sweetheart named Maxwell. The perfectly healthy nine-year-old was dumped in a Martinez, Calif., shelter because “his family outgrew him” and “the baby was afraid of him.” No actual problems or challenges were identified in the documents of his surrender. (Sigh.) And, according to his Muttville foster mom, he has impeccable manners, as well as eyes that shine with love and trust. We hope he finds his forever home soon.


News: Guest Posts
Missouri Continues to Battle Over Puppy Mill Reforms
Will 11th hour compromise save key provisions?

Agriculture and animal rights groups in Missouri may have a reached a compromise in the heated debate over a measure voters approved last November to stop the inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills.

But the clock is ticking on lawmakers’ approval of this brokered deal and not all parties support the proposed agreement.   “We have concerns about what is being proposed,” Barbara Schmitz, Missouri state director for The Humane Society of the United States, told Bark today. “We think what is being proposed falls short and does not meet the will of the voters to protect dogs. We’re disappointed.”   At the heart of this dispute is Proposition B, a voter-approved initiative that required large-scale breeding operations to provide dogs in their care with basic food and clean water, adequate shelter from the elements, necessary veterinary care, enough space to turn around and stretch, and regular exercise.   The measure pitted animal rights groups against many in the state’s agricultural communities.   Missouri lawmakers fueled the fiery debate last week when they approved a bill that animal rights groups say “gutted” Proposition B and ignored the will of the voters. Supporters of SB 113, however, said the new measure strengthened requirements and inspections of licensed dog breeders in Missouri and cracked down on the estimated 1,500 unlicensed breeders in the state.   The bill reached Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s desk on Monday—giving him 15 days to either veto the measure or sign it into law.   Proposition B supporters urged Nixon to veto the bill; agricultural groups and other Proposition B opponents called on the governor to sign the measure.   As the controversy continued to swirl, parties on both sides of the debate announced late Monday they had reached a compromise. Representatives from six agriculture and animal rights groups hammered out a new bill, which they say protects dogs and the state’s agriculture interests.   The so-called “Missouri Solution” includes provisions from Proposition B and SB 113. For example, it keeps the provision that dogs must, at a minimum, be examined at least once a year by a licensed veterinarian. But it changes the requirement that dogs must receive prompt treatment of “any illness or injury.” The new measure states dogs must receive prompt treatment of any “serious illness or injury.” The compromise bill also removed a key provision in Proposition B that limited breeders to no more than 50 breeding dogs.   The groups supporting this new measure—including the Humane Society of Missouri and the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners—sent a letter on Monday about the agreement and the proposed legislation to Gov. Nixon and the state’s General Assembly.   “Today, we are pleased to submit for your consideration legislation that upholds the intent of Missouri voters concerning the treatment of dogs and incorporates legislative revisions necessary to ensure proper implementation,” the letter stated. “The agreement we have reached strengthens requirements for the care and treatment of dogs and protects Missouri agriculture.”   Specifically, the groups said the proposed measure will strengthen:
  • Standards for veterinary care that must be provided to dogs in breeding facilities;
  • Standards concerning the living conditions for dogs in breeding facilities, including access to sufficient food and clean water;
  • Standards regarding the amount of space that must be provided for each dog. It also gives the industry sufficient time to meet these new standards;
  • State enforcement.
“Missouri voters clearly stated that they want stronger protections for dogs, and this agreement upholds that intent,” said Kathy Warnick, president of the Humane Society of Missouri. “Our agreement also allows responsible, professional breeders to continue to operate in Missouri. This agreement is a significant step forward.”   Gov. Nixon, who helped broker the deal, also applauded the compromise.   “Over the past week, my administration has been working closely with folks on every side of this issue to reach an agreement that respects the will of the voters, protects dogs and allows responsible breeders to earn a living in our state,” Nixon said in a prepared statement. “People with good minds and good will have come together to develop a Missouri solution to this Missouri issue, and together, we have made significant progress.”   Missouri lawmakers, however, will have to move quickly to pass the compromise measure. The legislative session ends on May 13.   “That’s a pretty tall order to get this done by the end of the session,” said Senator Mike Parson, who sponsored SB 113. “It’s a huge mountain to climb to fast-track something through the system. We still have the budget, redistricting and a lot of other issues to address.”   What if the legislature doesn’t approve this latest measure?   “We’ve still got SB 113 to deal with,” Parson told Bark. “If the governor vetoes that bill and the other (compromise) language doesn’t get through, then we’re back to Proposition B. And if that happens, we’ll end up in court. I’m sure there will be constitutional challenges to Proposition B.”   Another issue complicating the debate is the 15-day clock that is ticking on SB 113. Gov. Nixon now has until May 3—10 days before the Missouri legislature convenes—to sign or veto the bill.   “The governor has not indicated what he will do in regard to SB 113,” spokesman Scott Holste said today. “He is focused on getting this agreement through the legislature. We’re encouraged by that fact that these groups came together and worked out their differences to arrive at this agreement. And we hope that the legislature moves forward quickly. There is a short amount of time for things to happen.”      Animal advocates or others concerned about SB 113 or Proposition B can contact Gov. Nixon through his website or at (573) 751-3222.   More information about the compromised agreement can be found on the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s website. A copy of SB 113 is available on  the Missouri Senate’s website.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Canine Wedding To Raise Funds
Plus, it will be “off the charts” cute

In Cork, Ireland, a wedding between six-year-old Bull Mastiff Sophie and two-year-old French Mastiff George will serve as a fundraiser for the Cork Dog Action Welfare Group (DAWG). The charity is raising money in preparation for its move to a new location. The rescue dogs will exchange vows on Tuesday, April 19.

  The bride’s outfit will include lace frills, while the groom will wear a fitted vest. Both dogs will don bows. The ceremony will be a simple affair so as not to cause any stress to either dog. Witnesses will have to watch the ceremony to learn if it concludes with kisses or with licks.   The dogs know each other very well and are great friends, which bodes well for their future harmony. I know of no canine divorces, so I think their odds of a happy life together are far greater than for humans tying the knot. Best of luck to George, Sophie, and DAWG.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
NYC Clothing Store Sells Puppies Amid Protests
Unpomela illegally uses puppies to attract customers

Sometimes, I feel like we’re making a lot of progress against puppy mills and pet store dogs—PetCo and PetSmart have in-store adoption centers; puppy mill exposes have been featured on Oprah and Nightline; and celebrities, such as Katherine Heigl, regularly promote rescue pups.

However, last week I was discouraged after hearing that Unpomela, a New York clothing store is selling puppies from their display window. My guess is that their operation will be shut down soon, since they don’t have a license to sell animals (although they did post a ‘not for sale’ sign after a local shelter employee pointed out this fact). But it was shocking nonetheless that a clothing store would even think this was a good idea.

Sure puppies are probably quite effective at luring people into a store, but I wish Unpomela thought about teaming up with a local rescue group instead. Macy’s in San Francisco did this last holiday season, attracting hordes of shoppers and facilitating in the adoption of hundreds of animals. A win-win for all involved!

In Unpomela’s case, a negative public outcry is helping to ensure this doesn’t happens again anytime soon. Local shelter Animal Haven organized a protest last week and many people have already expressed their views on the customer ratings web site, Yelp.

How do you think we’re doing in the fight against puppy mills?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Retired Sled Dogs for Adoption
Outdoor Adventures is working with a rescue group to rehome unwanted pups

Earlier this year, dog lovers were shocked to learn that Outdoor Adventures in Whistler slaughtered 100 sled dogs due to a downturn in the economy. When Lisa Wogan covered the story, she wrote that inhumane treatment of sled dogs isn’t as uncommon as we might like to think. 


With all of the bad press that came out of the mass euthanasia, Outdoor Adventures is now looking for foster or adoptive homes for 35 dogs that they are retiring. If you can help, contact Paula at the Whistler Animal Shelter: pdelbosco@whistlerwag.com or 604-935-8364.   It’s important that people only respond with offers to help and refrain from attacking Outdoor Adventures. Sled dog advocates want to encourage more companies to work with rescue groups to adopt out unwanted dogs. What happened earlier this year was a tragedy, but thankfully Outdoor Adventures has learned to be more humane in how they treat their retiring dogs, whether they were forced to or not. Given the media attention that this tragedy has garnered, I hope that treatment of sled dogs will improve and that more companies will follow Outdoor Adventures’ example.


News: Guest Posts
Harness Flower Power for Senior Dogs
Spring fundraiser brightens gardens and old dogs’ days

We love us some old dogs here at Bark. (Evidence #1: Febuary/March issue.) Several of us share our homes with aging pups, and all of us have been touched by a senior dog somewhere along the way. But we also know homelessness hits this population hard—shelters often can’t afford the medical care, such as expensive dental work. Cold and concrete kennels can be especially tough on arthritic dogs. For these pups, foster care and senior-specific rescues fill an especially critical role—keeping dogs well-cared for while they await appreciative, loving families or, in some cases, live out their last days in comfort.

  Among the organizations working on behalf of these grand old dogs is Grey Muzzle, which provides direct support, via grants, to senior dog programs nationwide. In addition, Grey Muzzle works to raise awareness and educate the public about senior dogs.   You can support Grey Muzzle, and by extension a variety of senior dog programs, and leap into spring by shopping for lily, dahlia, daffodil and dozens of other spring bulbs at the Grey Muzzle Flower Power for Senior Dogs online boutique through April 29. It’s a perfect twofer: Find gifts or brighten up your yard at the same time you contribute to this important cause.
News: Guest Posts
Time to Adopt a 40 mph Couch Potato?
Celebrate National Adopt-A-Greyhound month by supporting Greyhound rescue or adopting a retired racer of your own

A total of 10 Greyhound racing tracks have closed in the United States since the end of 2008, displacing an estimated 500 to 1,000 Greyhounds with each closure. Add Greyhounds that have been retired from still-existing tracks across the country and you have thousands of wonderful, vibrant dogs being cared for by adoption groups as they wait to be adopted into permanent homes.

  In anticipation of National Adopt-a-Greyhound Month, Yvonne Zipter of Chicago-based Greyhounds Only Adoption and Rescue, talks with Michael McCann, president of The Greyhound Project, about the Greyhound adoption awareness campaign and the future for the breed.   Yvonne Zipter: More than two dozen racetracks have closed since 2000—how many tracks are still left in this country and, if they continue to close (a situation that many, though not all, Greyhound advocates see as a good thing), what do you suspect the long-term fate of these dogs will be for the people who love them? Michael McCann: There are twenty-three tracks, still. Thirteen of them are in Florida, and then also in West Virginia, Texas, Iowa, Alabama and Arkansas. The industry is really struggling, with so many other venues where people can spend their gambling dollars—Indian casinos, riverboats, and so on. It doesn’t look good for the industry.   Will the dogs die out, then? I had heard that American Kennel Club Greyhound bloodlines were growing thin and they were thinking of breeding them with racing dogs ... AKC dogs are already mixed with NGA [National Greyhound Association] dogs. They are all from the same stock, from Ireland and England. They were brought over in the 1800s to reduce the rabbit population on farms. There are still some Greyhounds that are completely unregistered that hunt coyotes and rabbits. But the pet population will be dramatically reduced with these track closings. Ironically, in the 1970s the Humane Society said that Greyhounds didn’t make good pets. Shortly after that, adoption groups started popping up all over. [HSUS President John Hoyt supported the humane destruction of retired racing Greyhounds as late as 1983 in an interview with Turnout Magazine.]   I have a long list of why Greyhounds make wonderful companion animals, but what would you tell someone who isn’t familiar with retired racers—why are they such great companions? They’re not for everyone. If you’re looking for a dog to play catch with or for your kids to roughhouse with, a Greyhound is not for you. But if you’re looking for a dog you can take walks with, and then come home and settle right down—we call them 40 mph couch potatoes—then a Greyhound might be right for you. They’re not going to run twenty miles with you—they’re sprinters. Greyhounds really can’t be trusted off leash: A loose greyhound is often a lost Greyhound. So we recommend that if they’re not in a fenced-in yard, they be on a leash.They’re quiet dogs, so if you want a watchdog, you don’t want a Greyhound. They may seem aloof at first, but once they know they can trust you, they will follow you everywhere.   As a poet and a Greyhound owner myself, I can’t help noting that National Adopt-a-Greyhound Month is also National Poetry Month—was that by design? Well, I guess it was a coincidence, but Greyhounds are poetic dogs, so why not April?   What sorts of events are lined up for National Adopt-a-Greyhound Month and how would an individual find out what their local Greyhound adoption group has planned? The best way to find out about events is to go to the Greyhound Project website at adopt-a-greyhound.org. You can go to a list of adoption groups there, and find one in your community. Different groups are doing different things, like some are doing meet-and-greets at local stores and some are having reunions for all of the hounds that have been adopted out. There are over 300 groups in the United States, and all of them are listed there.   And is the Greyhound Project doing anything special itself for National Adopt-a-Greyhound Month? Our focus is on educating the public, which we do through our magazine Celebrating Greyhounds and our calendar. We also have six television commercials running at different places around the country. Right now they are running in the Midwest, the East, and the West, but you can also find them on YouTube. Cal the Greyhound, who is looking for a long-term relationship, is a popular one. You can find him on the first page of our website. There is just such a great need for homes, with all of the track closings that have happened.   And for people who don’t have an adoption group in their communities, how can they help or participate? There are adoption groups in nearly every state, but you can also help with funding—all groups need funding to help care for the dogs until they find permanent homes. And volunteers. They all need volunteers—to help with kennel cleaning and walking dogs and to do meet-and-greets at pet stores. 
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Determination Comes on Two and a Half Legs
The amazing story of a rescued pup from Mexico

New Yorker Mary Hammett found the perfect running partner in her adopted dog, Joyce. The split-faced pup manages to be incredibly fast, despite having only two and a half legs. If it weren’t for her physical limitations, you might never know about Joyce’s early hardships in life. She has an unbridled enthusiasm and is an inspiration to everyone that she meets.

Last year the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) rescued 40 dogs from Cozumel, Mexico, who had been evicted from their home at the local garbage dump.

Mary found out about the “Dump Dogs,” as they were nicknamed, through an IFAW e-mail. She wasn't actively looking to adopt another dog, and certainly not one from thousands of miles away, but there was something special about Joyce.

As it turns out, Joyce was in dire need of veterinary care. The trauma she had experienced put her at risk for a bone infection and time was running out.

Mary and her boyfriend debated about rescuing Joyce when there were so many local animals in need.  But one look at Joyce, and the huge cast on her back leg, and the decision was made.

"We cannot save them all,” explains Mary, “But Joyce, against all odds, had come to our attention from far, far away. She captured us, and truly, there was no more debate. Joyce was our dog, and the sooner we could get our arms around her, the better.”

There were many challenges during the first few months, but Joyce had an extraordinary determination. She was on a full battery of medications and went through many different wheelchairs and harnesses before Mary could find one that worked for Joyce.

But in just eight months, Joyce has made incredible progress and is nearly unrecognizable from the dog in the IFAW e-mail.

"Joyce is a rock star,” remarks Mary. “She is fierce, funny, smart, sweet, and intense. She can cruise remarkably fast on her two and a half legs and, with a little assist from me and a back-end harness, she has become my running partner. Joyce has a lot more endurance than I have!”

Joyce has also become somewhat of an ambassador for rescued pets. Mary says that people are drawn to Joyce. "It’s an incredible experience to witness the collective compassion of people that respond to her.”

One of IFAW’s founding principles is that the interests of humans and animals are not separate and that we are truly interconnected. I think that Joyce’s story really embodies that special relationship that we have with dogs and just goes to show how much we have to learn from them.