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.

News: Guest Posts
A Few Legislators Cross the Aisle to Defeat Puppy Mills
Track and support the PUPS bill

While state legislators duke it out over efforts to regulate breeding, with the specific aim of shutting down puppy mills in states like Wisconsin, Missouri and Illinois, four U.S. Representatives are going after unregulated, large-scale commercial breeding operations on a national level. On February 28, two Democrats and two Republicans introduced H.R. 835, the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act.

  The legislation closes a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act that currently allows large, commercial breeders, selling more than 50 puppies per year online or directly to the public to escape licensing and regulation.   “Dog breeders have taken advantage of this Internet loophole to increase their profits at the expense of the health of thousands of dogs,” said Congressman Sam Farr, D-Calif. “The result of breeders’ ability to bypass regulations has led to widespread abuses of dogs that are crammed into small cages with no exercise or social contact. We have a responsibility to close this loophole, because it is simply unconscionable to allow this abuse to continue.”   Track the bill. Take action to support the legislation at the Humane Society of the United States.


Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Canine Corps Cares For Dogs of People Deployed
Free help to military families

Matthew Chapman, an explosives specialist in the military, and his wife Debbi were alarmed when they learned about a policy that could have a big effect on them. If they had to be evacuated from South Korea, they would only be allowed to take two dogs with them. That presented a huge problem because the couple has three dogs and tensions between North Korea and South Korea are increasing, making evacuation more likely.

  Unwilling to risk leaving a dog behind, they chose to foster one of their dogs with the Canine Corps at Paw Prints Dog Sanctuary. They delivered their dog Dehlila to the facility, which is in Pennsylvania and serves military families whose dogs need a place to live when they are deployed or otherwise unable to keep their dog with them. Including Dehlila, the facility has 13 pets belonging to members of the military. They care for these military pets until their guardians are able to come back for them.   The Chapmans asked how they could help the organization, which provides free care for the pets of military people from Pennsylvania. The founder of the Canine Corps, himself a veteran, answered, “Come home safely.”
News: Guest Posts
Twice Euthanized Puppy Survives
Once unwanted, now hundreds clamor to adopt Wall-e
shelter dog mixed breed adoption euthanasia rescue social media

I keep telling myself this is supposed to be a feel-good story. An animal control officer found a stray puppy. No one claimed him. No one wanted him. The shelter was full. Somehow, the puppy survived two euthanasia injections. When his incredible story was posted to a pet adoption website, he got a name (Wall-e), donations toward boarding and hundreds of offers to foster or adopt him.

  Wall-e beat the odds. What about all the other stray mixed breed puppies who are not so fortunate? If hundreds of people could be so easily moved to adopt Wall-e, how do we motivate them to adopt that unwanted puppy at their local animal control?   Last year, I posted a shelter dog in need on my Facebook page. She had puppies and they were in danger of being euthanized, too, simply due to lack of space at the shelter. One of my friends was horrified at the thought. “They don’t kill puppies,” she wrote.   They do. And before animal lovers start to vilify shelters or their staff, let’s think about the people whose job involves euthanizing unwanted cats and dogs. In reading Wall-e’s story, I was surprised to see the name of the animal control officer whose initial attempts to euthanize him failed. Even though it was a part of his job and he then spread the word about Wall-e’s remarkable survival to a community of potential adopters, the public will likely never see him as a hero.   I will never forget my friend telling me how it felt to euthanize a perfectly healthy kitten when she was on staff at a shelter. Normally, it was not part of her job. She was an “intake counselor.” The person who heard the most ridiculous excuses and sometimes tragic stories as the owner handed their cat or dog off to her behind the counter.   She was asked to help with this kitten because a staff veterinarian had stayed late and no one else was available to assist. In that split second, she almost told her no, toying with the idea of adopting her. But she couldn’t, for reasons with which we’re all familiar: our houses are full, too.  

If Facebook or Twitter had existed back then, and my friend had posted that kitten to her page, would she still be alive today? It's hard to say, because that kitten, and puppies like Wall-e, end up at shelters by the thousands every year. Are there really not enough homes for them all? Or are there thousands of untapped potential adopters who simply don't know that an unwanted cat or dog needs them?

News: Guest Posts
Risky Puppy Rescue
An illegal transport spread parvo, killed four puppies

Shelters and rescue groups transport adoptable dogs and puppies across the country every day in hopes of saving more lives. Sadly, in the case of four adult dogs and 12 puppies, what should have been a happy ending in new homes has become a nightmare.

  Earlier this month, the dogs and puppies had been gathered from various locations in the Midwest and placed together in a truck for travel to Massachusetts for adoption. Tragically, the rescuers did not follow interstate animal protocol. Per the Department of Agriculture, all dogs and cats for sale or adoption must be isolated for a minimum 48 hours then examined and pronounced healthy by a licensed veterinarian before transportation.   This oversight resulted in the spread of the highly contagious parvovirus, the suffering and death of four puppies, and an enormous burden on the staff and financial resources of MSPCA-Boston.   The shelter continues to care for the survivors, who remain in quarantine. Costs have already exceeded thousands of dollars. If you would like to donate or serve as a foster parent, please go to MSPCA.   You can also help by adopting a pet in your own community, so animals no longer have to be transported great distances in order to find homes. Please contact your local shelter or rescue group through Petfinder to find out how you can help.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Mass. Dogs Help Homeless Shelter
Pups find a foster home while aiding Bostonians

I think that dogs have an innate ability to bring out the best in us. Over the last year, I’ve written about dogs calming humans testifying in court, putting patients at ease in the doctor’s office, and even helping people meet new significant others. Now, dogs are helping residents open up to staff members at a Boston, Mass., homeless shelter, while increasing their own adoptability in return.

About a year ago, Barbara Davidson, head of a homeless shelter and support organization in Massachusetts called Pine Street, was working with a man who suffered from paranoia. He refused treatment, but knowing he loved dogs, Barbara began volunteering with him at the local animal shelter to help him feel more comfortable. He loved the work so much that he asked Barbara to let him bring one of the dogs back to Pine Street.  

Barbara soon found that having a dog at Pine Street helped residents to open up and build trust with the staff. Now, Pine Street fosters six dogs.

The residents at Pine Street can relate to the homeless dogs, developing a strong bond. They also provide the dogs with socialization and training, making the pups more attractive to adopters. A very cool win-win for all involved.

News: Guest Posts
Unrest in Egypt Leaves Many Dogs and Cats Homeless
Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals needs help

Headlines around the world have tracked the recent upheaval in many parts of the Middle East. What started in Tunisia spread like wildfire; demonstrations and protests have crippled many countries in the region.

  When demonstrations and clashes erupted in Egypt, chaos and disorder ensued. Looting, theft, violence marred the country, effectively putting an end to the tourism industry, damaging an already fragile economy, and pushing many expatriates to evacuate the country.   When faced with the decision of leaving or staying in the country at potential risk to their own safety, many expats were forced to evacuate, leaving behind their homes and, sometimes, their family pets. Dogs and cats were abandoned on the streets or euthanized as worried owners struggled with the burden of what to do next. Cairo is notorious for the numbers of stray cats and dogs that run the streets, but these animals stood out. Healthier and evidently well-fed, volunteers at the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA) were seeing many cats and dogs that had been abandoned.   ESMA is a non-profit animal rescue shelter based in the heart of Egypt, the capital city Cairo. It was founded by a few dedicated Egyptians and expatriates in response to mass shootings of dogs and cats in 2007 and has been fighting for the rights of animals in Egypt ever since.   These three weeks of unrest had a devastating impact on organizations, such as ESMA, which is in urgent need of help to provide food and shelter to an increasing number of stray cats and dogs. In the beginning of this year, ESMA’s shelter provided refuge for more than 600 cats and dogs. Run entirely on donations and volunteers, the rescue society relies on the generosity of others. This need today is greater than it has ever been.   During the period of unrest, ESMA volunteers picked up more than 26 abandoned cats and dogs left in the streets to fend for themselves. As the country works toward rebuilding its future, the future of these animals remains uncertain. To this day, nobody has stepped forward to claim the animals taken in by the rescue shelter, and ESMA struggles with the burden of feeding more than 600 cats and dogs on a daily basis.   “We are continually struggling to locate/buy food, medicines, pay the rent and the workers’ salaries, and even find detergents and disinfectants,” says Susie Nasser, a founding member of ESMA. “We are only able to offer our animals one meal, instead of the usual two meals per day.”   Animal lovers worldwide have banded together to help ESMA during their times of dire need. Donations from pet owners throughout the world have helped in keeping the rescue shelter afloat, but the light at the end of the tunnel is still far away. ESMA is sending out a plea for help from every dog, cat or animal owner throughout the world. Even a small donation can help to feed an animal for a few days.   For more information or to find out how you can help, please visit ESMA’s website at www.esmaegypt.org. In addition to general donations, ESMA offers sponsorships for specific animals. When you sponsor an animal, you will receive pictures of your furry friend and updates as they increase in strength and health.   From all of us at ESMA—both two-legged and four-legged—thank you for your consideration. We hope to welcome you all back to a better and brighter Egypt!  


News: Guest Posts
Rescued Pit Bull Loves Bunnies
A St. Louis stray recovers among chicks, lambs, rabbits and more.

As you can imagine, we get loads of fabulous dog images from Bark readers—handsome, adorable, funny and inspiring dogs of every stripe. But when Parfait arrived over the transom, we stopped in our tracks: Who is this recovering beauty with a harem of rabbits?

  A little more than a month ago, Parfait was a feral, starving dog living on the streets of North St. Louis, a neighborhood known for dog fighting. She was found trying to keep her newborn pups warm in the cold and snow; they had already frozen to death. She was also near death, due to an infection from an embedded collar that was strangling her.   “She was originally saved by Randy Grim of Stray Rescue of St. Louis. Randy has spent many years going out daily to feed and save the suffering street dogs in his city. I admire him greatly,” says Janice Wolf of Rocky Ridge Refuge in North Central Arkansas. “I named her Parfait because she needed a sweet name to reflect her nature, especially being a Pit Bull off the streets.”   Wolf continues, “I specialize in helping animals with special needs and medical [issues], and at the holidays I always try to take on a special case for another rescue to help them out. When I learned of Parfait … I offered to bring her to my refuge.” A friend volunteered to drive her the five hours to Rocky Ridge.   “She was initially quite shy, but soon came around with the help of my other dogs,” Wolf says. “She is a young girl, no more than 18 months old. She will have no handicaps really. She does have a severe neck wound with a lot of scar tissue there, and will never be able to wear a collar. Her voice is a little funny because of it too. If I can figure a way to get the funds, I am going to see about having the vet reduce and modify the excess scar tissue to make a smoother and less restricted skin area there. Otherwise a healthy, smart girl that will be up for adoption.”   For now, Parfait is keeping company with a menagerie. She met the bunnies a few days before Wolf took the photo she sent to us. She has also cuddled with lambs and chicks. Check out more of the multi-species healing at Rocky Ridge in our slideshow.   “I don't know that there is an 'advantage' per say in having all the species together, it just kinda has to be this way here due to lack of space to do it differently!,” Wolf told us when we asked about her crazy-mixed-up soup of a refuge. “I love that the many different species do form a family and look out for each other though. For the most part it works amazingly well and some odd relationships have developed.”   She is careful to respect individual boundaries and tolerances, and she doesn't expect every animal to automatically love every other critter. Some of her rescued dogs will not safely live with fawns or lambs or chicks, due to their breed prey drive or past experiences.   Wolf, who is writing a children's book about Parfait to raise money for her refuge, told us she’s been rescuing animals since she was a child. She says, “There’s nothing better!”   Visit Rocky Ridge Refuge’s Facebook Fanpage to learn more about the refuge and to follow Parfait. Also, check out Bark’s story about Gateway Pet Guardians, a grassroots rescue group caring for the strays of East St. Louis, across the Mississippi River from where Parfait was discovered.


News: Guest Posts
Rescuing a Rescue
Puerto Rico pup lost—and found—in Logan Airport during transport

Have you heard the story of Pedro, a Beagleish-looking former stray from Puerto Rico who escaped from his crate at Logan Airport in Boston last week during his transport to a shelter in Maine? Frequent Bark contributor Twig Mowatt, co-founder of All Sato Rescue, which helps find homes in the United States for Puerto Rico strays, including Pedro, told us the amazing behind-the-scenes story of his big adventure.

  “This dog has really had an ‘exciting’ life. He was hit by a car last year and lost one eye. We took him into our program, which is All Sato Rescue because a special needs dog wouldn’t have much luck finding a home in Puerto Rico. So, he arrived at Logan Airport Monday evening to be met by someone from a Beagle rescue group in Maine who has placed a lot of our dogs—and, thankfully, he’s pretty loose about his definition of ‘Beagle,’ as you can tell Pedro probably has some Jack Russell, and a little sausage-something in his stubby legs and long body. I was not at the airport when it happened, but I heard about it immediately and fortunately, I had the cell phone of the state’s most famous animal rescuer—Alan Borgal, sort of the Rooster Cogburn of the animal world. (If you’ve seen True Grit you’ll know what I mean.)   “Anyway, while we (me in Boston, our president in San Juan, and the head of the Beagle rescue group) were basically in little puddles of worry and anxiety, Alan was putting together a SWAT team. He has his own rescuers through the Animal Rescue League of Boston, where he works, but he also knows many people at Logan. He got in touch with the Logan police and then started reaching out to the construction workers and parking lot attendants at the airport. Pedro had—very scarily—made it out of the terminal, crossing a very busy road of buses and taxis and shuttles, and gotten into the central parking garage. It was freezing cold and he had just left 80-degree weather, so we were all terrified that he was going to freeze to death.   “We had one sighting of him Monday evening—about 9 p.m., and Alan was out there late into the night. We didn’t hear anything again until Tuesday afternoon, when we got a sighting of him in a parking area near Terminal B, where he arrived. I went out there after work Tuesday, and papered the garage with flyers, and also handed them out to everyone I could find—maintenance workers, taxi dispatchers, parking lot attendants—and everyone was so kind and concerned. But it was very scary to see where he might be hiding—as it was freezing cold and full of construction equipment and cars, of course, that might run over him.   “Alan said that he thought Pedro was finding cars of people who had just parked, so he could get under them for some warmth. He also said that he knew Pedro was in the area by the reaction of the resident cat who hangs out and catches rodents in the parking lot. Evidently the cat was quite put out.   “Alan told me that the construction workers were so worried that they checked his humane traps every hour all night! When Pedro was finally caught—not in a trap, by the way, but with a pole, I think—he had made it across two more busy streets into a garage quite far from where he was originally.   “It was just amazing to me how everyone got involved and wanted to help and came together for this little dog. The thought that he had been through so much on the streets of Puerto Rico and was finally getting a chance to find a loving, forever home--only to end up lost in Logan airport--was almost too much to bear. But, just seeing how everyone pulled together and helped make this happy ending, made it a really life-affirming experience. Moreover, judging from the looks of Pedro in the TV report, he is pretty unfazed by it all. Alan said that once he got by the initial shock of being caught, he began giving everyone kisses.   “At the moment, he is being held in quarantine at the Animal Rescue League in Boston. We are ready to send him on up to Maine to find his forever home, but, given his local celebrity status, if a highly qualified adopter shows up who wants to add Pedro to their home, we are all for making that happen. We just think it’s time to change his name from Pedro to Logan!”