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Dog's Life: Humane
Animal-Kind International
Act Locally and Globally

According to the 2013 World Giving Index, an annual survey conducted by the Charities Aid Foundation, in 2012, the United States topped a list of 135 countries as the world’s most generous nation. As director of Animal-Kind International (AKI), a nonprofit that supports 10 (soon to be 11) existing animal-welfare organizations in poor countries, I was thrilled to read these statistics. But do they apply to animal welfare? Have animal welfare advocates moved beyond national borders to support animal protection efforts wherever they are needed? If not, why not?

Thanks largely to social media and international travel, interest in and awareness of global animal welfare issues are certainly growing. These days, I less often hear, “Why should we help over there when we have so many animal problems here in the U.S.?” Rather, I meet people like Maritha, an AKI supporter, who has traveled to Jamaica and who designates an AKI partner organization, Kingston Community Animal Welfare, for her donations. Maritha’s reason for donating to an organization thousands of miles away? “A dog is a dog, and it doesn’t matter which country he comes from. Where the help is needed most and where you know you can make an impact, that’s where you should put your money.”

Even though awareness and interest are growing, my AKI experience tells me that animal welfare advocates have yet to wholeheartedly join the trend of donating beyond borders. Certainly, U.S.-based animal welfare organizations deserve our support, but if American dog- and cat-lovers knew of the tremendous strides animal welfare organizations in poor countries are making (and their tremendous needs), and if they knew that their donated funds were well accounted for and were making a difference, the boundaries to giving would break down.

AKI fills those knowledge gaps: We report on our partner organizations’ successes and challenges. We provide details of how these donations are used. We do the due diligence to ensure that our partner organizations spend funds only for animal welfare purposes. And we send 100 percent of all donations to our partner organizations, all of which were started and/or are now run by local people who deeply care about animals.

It’s an exciting time to be involved in international animal welfare; things are happening so quickly! In the past few years, Pilar, who runs the AKI partner organization Helping Hands for Hounds of Honduras, noted that “people now take their dogs to the vet for vaccinations and when they are sick (although often they wait too long due to their financial situation). They also buy dog houses, and dogs are less often chained and left out in the sun and rain with no shelter. People are now buying dog food (often the cheap kind) instead of giving them old, moldy tortillas. Many people now bury their pets when they die instead of throwing them in the trash.”

Our AKI partner organizations do so much with so little; they are often the only animal welfare organization in the country. They work in countries where donations to animal welfare are so hard to come by, and where American expertise, lessons learned and generosity can have a huge impact. It’s not about us v. them; it’s not a matter of local v. global. We all have something to share.

News: Editors
Rosie, a stray Pit Bull, and her pups are rescued
Technology and human kindness saved the day

I just learned about three inspirational rescue organizations in Southern California: StartRescue.org, that offers transport for dogs from shelters in LA to other areas, HopeForPaws.org and TheDogRescuers.c­om. They all had a hand in a heartwarming rescue about Rosie the stray Pit Bull and her 5 pups, and how these organizations made it possible for all of the dogs to find loving families. The first video, in a series, shows Rosie’s “capture” and how using an iPhone and an amazing amount of kindness and patience, helped, in more than one, to save the day for her and her pups. There are a few other videos that follow, the pups growing up, how one overcomes what seems like an insurmountable obstacle, and a joyous family reunion with mom and the “kids.” All the videos are accompanied by music, so you might want to mute the sound if viewing while at work!

See how they are all getting on now:
Pups growing up in foster home http://youtu.be/GvMEtJyoNWY

Family Reunion http://youtu.be/bNQTBnHDHWY

Rosie with her new family http://youtu.be/krPA8OIG1Wo

Dog's Life: Humane
Homeless People and Their Dogs

We've all seen them, the transient with the loaded backpack thumbing a ride with a cardboard sign or hanging out at the park and sleeping in cars with all their worldly belongings. Many of these people have dogs and in some cases are even homeless because of their dogs. People who have lost their homes or are unable to find pet friendly rentals are often forced to choose between giving up their beloved pet and homelessness.

As an animal control officer I've dealt with more than my share of homeless peoples dogs. In some cases these dogs lead a better life than dogs whose owners have plenty of money but no time for them. Other times the owner's lifestyle results in harm to the dog. I've been called to pick up homeless peoples dogs after the owners arrest, illness or death. Sometimes the owners are unable to provide veterinary care or other needs and we try to help them out. We do low-cost or even no-cost spay/neuter surgeries and vaccines whenever possible.

In many cases the dog is a homeless persons only friend and protector in a scary world. I was once called to check on a dog barking and howling beside a freeway overpass. I found a tent tucked back in the bushes and when I approached a black and white Pit Bull began barking at me. I didn't see anyone nearby and the dog was tethered to the tent stake. He retreated inside the tent as I came closer and I peered inside as he growled a warning. The tent was spotless clean and judging from the articles inside I guessed that the resident was a woman. The dog was in excellent weight and condition and wearing a coat. His reaction to my intrusion was appropriate given the circumstances. I posted a notice on the tent and left the dog where he was. The owner later called and confirmed that she had just been out looking for a job and was back with her dog.

I was once flagged down by a man walking with a darling older yellow Lab. He was disabled and had recently lost his job and his home. He was unwilling to go to a shelter because dog weren't allowed but the colder weather had his dog suffering outdoors too. After a brief discussion I agreed to house his dog at the shelter for a period of time while he explored his options. He had tears in his eyes as he lifted his beloved companion into my truck. I promised to take good care of her and drove away with a lump in my throat.

The dog was given a cushy bed on a heated floor in the kennels and I tried to spend a few minutes with her whenever possible. I wondered if she would ever be able to go home. We could have found a home for her, she was darling girl, but I know she would be happiest with her person. The man kept in touch and after nearly a month he found a place to live where he could have her. It was wonderful to see the reunion when he came for her.

There is a well known homeless character in my area who hangs out in the town square with his dog. He's older and wears layers of bright colored clothing with bits of yarn, feathers and other prizes tucked into it. The dog is an obese white mixed breed and he refuses to put a collar on her but leads her with a strip of rags around her waist. I stopped to talk to him one day and asked him how long he had lived like this. He turned his wrinkled face toward me and said “since I dodged the Viet Nam draft.” He then went on to tell me that he loved his life. He nodded toward the dog and said “I've got her, clothes on my back and enough to eat. What more do I need?” And I believe he meant it too.

 

News: Guest Posts
Wisdom Has Gone to the Dogs

This past weekend, I attended the Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco. A conference described as “4 Days, 2,000 People, 1 Question: How Can We Live With Wisdom, Awareness and Compassion in the Digital Age?”

The answer is simple. Dogs.

That sounds like a biased answer coming from the president of Humane Society Silicon Valley. Except it didn’t come from me.

During the opening session, Wisdom 2.0 founder Soren Gordhamer highlighted how individual attendees answered the question, “What Most Inspires You?” When the words ‘my dog’ popped up on the big screen, more than a few knowing chuckles came from the audience.

And the evidence kept mounting.

·   Facebook Director of Engineering, Arturo Behar, launched his presentation of ‘Putting Wisdom into Practice’ by showing a picture of Churro, his Siberian Husky puppy. The 2,000 people in attendance responded with a collective ‘Awwwww.’

·  Instagram Director of Product, Peter Deng, discussed ‘Applied Mindfulness’ and said, “If you want to insert mindfulness into your busy life, the best way to start the day is with a cute dog.”

·  Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh wanted to deliver more happiness to employees at the new Zappos campus. He solicited employees for their input during construction. Some asked for an onsite gym, others an onsite library, some even requested an onsite pub. But the biggest request, by far, was onsite Doggy Daycare.

·  Google VP of People, Karen May, interviewed Eckhart Tolle, one of the most influential spiritual leaders of our time. May originally met Tolle a few years ago when seated next to him at a dinner. She figured that since Tolle is so spiritually lofty, he couldn’t possibly carry a technology device like the rest of us. And then he whipped out his iPhone to show her a picture of his dog. “That’s when I knew he was human,” she said.

Tolle continued to discuss why being overly absorbed in our minds keeps us from enjoying life. We get so wrapped up in our thoughts that we miss the moment. He warned that if we allow our connection to technology to take over, we could become completely disconnected to the life within us and around us. If we keep our minds so preoccupied with the next email, the next text, the next Facebook post, we will never be present for one another nor ourselves.

That would be such a tragedy! Because being present is a wonderful gift. When we give pure attention without any intention, it creates true relationship because intuitively, we know that we are not being judged. That’s where dogs (and cats) come into the picture. Tolle also talked about why so many of us love animals, and how it’s not necessarily the reason most of us think—the unconditional love they provide. When you look into the eyes of a dog or cat, you feel really alert. For a moment, it frees you from your mind. You not only sense the beingness; you recognize it. The real reason we love dogs and cats is that we love the consciousness that shines through. And when we acknowledge that consciousness, it arises in us. 

And we become present.

Which brings me back to the original question asked by the conference description. How do we live with wisdom, compassion, and awareness in the digital age? From the sessions I’ve highlighted, I think it’s fair to say, that for many people, having animals in our lives is part of the answer.

And I couldn’t agree more! Animals, for those of us who resonate with them, are an entry point to living in the moment. And in the face of technology and the multitude of devices that are constantly pulling us out of the present—and out of our lives—dogs (and cats) are one of the few ways we can easily be pulled back in.

See Humane Society of Silicon Valley

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Making Friends
With a Stray Pup

I sat down in the grass, leaned against a post in the sunshine and took a deep breath. It was easy to relax here. Other than the occasionally distant cry of a bird, it was utterly quiet on the remote ranch. A slight breeze tickled my skin and I felt peace descend over me. The reason for my being there lay quietly watching me from 10 feet away. He was a fuzzy-faced mutt of uncertain lineage and completely adorable. I had been called to pick up a stray on the ranch and was told that no one would be home but that the dog had been hanging around the barn for a few days. He seemed friendly but no one had been able to get a hold of him. Sure enough, the dog ran up wiggling his whole body and thrilled to see me but afraid to be touched. I offered cookies and he took them and then darted away.

I had to change my initial demeanor from one of capture to one of friendship. Dogs are often so good at reading our body language that sometimes they pick up on the subtlest of cues that we aren't even aware of. After I allowed myself to totally relax, I could see him start to relax too. He lay down near me and we both gazed over the surrounding hillsides. He glanced at me occasionally, and studied my face briefly before turning away. I watched him out of the corner of my eye. If I reached toward him he scooted away. Every few minutes he would get up and approach for a cookie before retreating again. He sniffed my outstretched legs and boots, studying them thoroughly for clues to my suitability as a friend. Each time he would check me out for a few moments and take a cookie before his fear overcame him and he would retreat again and lie staring into the distance. It was as if he wanted to contemplate the situation for a while before deciding what to do.

Each time he returned he came a little closer. I rewarded every overture of friendship with treats and finally he let me tickle his chin while he ate his cookie. Over the next 20 minutes or so we progressed to stroking behind his ears and scratching his neck as he tilted his head back and blissfully closed his eyes. A couple of times I moved too fast and he shot away from me. Don't be a rookie, I reminded myself. I was starting to feel the pressure of spending so much time on one call but I knew that a few minutes of patience would be more likely to be rewarded with success.

Finally the time came when I was able to stroke his whole body as he cuddled as close as he could get. When he climbed into my lap and leaned his head into my neck and closed his eyes and sighed I knew we were friends. After another moment or two of the love fest, I slowly, carefully eased a slip lead over his head. He panicked and fought the leash until I scooped him up and soothed his fears while stroking his sweet whiskery face. “It's ok hon, you're gonna be ok.” I crooned. A glance at his teeth showed him to be a baby of about 5 months or so. It always frustrates me to find dogs like him who are unsocialized and have obviously never even had a leash on. The good thing was that at this age he would likely come around quickly. He certainly had delightful temperament.

The pup wasn't claimed and he passed his temperament and health evaluations with flying colors. He was vaccinated, wormed and neutered in the shelter clinic and it was no surprise that he was adopted quickly.

I would love to hear reader's experiences with coaxing scared dogs or taking in a stray in need. How long did it take them to feel safe and what made the difference?   
 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Pit/Great Dane mix with an Unusual Start

A late night call on standby had me driving my animal control truck across town in the dark to the scene of a vehicle accident. I hadn’t been given many details and hoped it wasn’t a fatality. When I arrived, I found a truck wrapped around a telephone pole and several police cars and a tow truck at the scene. An officer led me to his patrol car where he pointed to the back seat.

A big black puppy stared back at me, his glossy coat highlighted by the flashing blue and amber lights of the emergency vehicles. I opened the door and called to him softly “hey buddy, what are you doing here?” He wagged and wiggled closer and I scooped him up. He looked young but his feet were massive and he was all heavy bone and knobby knees. I studied him in the headlights of the patrol car for a moment. Black Lab? No, the coat was too short and sleek and he was bigger than a Lab. He looked a bit like a Pit Bull but he was too big and his ears were too droopy for that. He may have even had some Great Dane or Mastiff in there, but either way, he was gorgeous.

I was told that the accident occurred after some gang members were involved in a high speed police chase. The chase ended when they wrecked their truck and fled the scene. When officers arrived, they found drugs, guns and one black, knobby-kneed puppy in the wreckage.  I was amazed that he wasn’t injured and he didn’t even seem upset by his predicament.

The suspects were later apprehended on serious charges and the puppy was never claimed. A local wildlife rescue worker, Danielle, fell in love with him and adopted him. She named him Morrison and he has grown to be huge, muscular bundle of fun and love that delights everyone who meets him. He goes to work with Danielle every day and lives the life every dog deserves.

Did your dog have an interesting or unusual start? Share it with us.

News: Guest Posts
Rufo's Story

This video is the story of Rufo, a pit bull mix who, though loving and sweet, could not get adopted. He was deposited at a muncipal shelter at age one. For the next six years he lived in a cage twenty two hours a day.

Now adopted and one of our Smiling Dogs in our new issue. Rufo has many reasons to be smiling now.

 

News: Guest Posts
Shelter Reseacher Needs Your Assistance

Bark Readers input needed – animal shelter adoptors, shelter volunteers, shelter leaders & employees –www.surveymonkey.com/s/animalshelteringstudy

As 2013 comes to a close, my husband and I, along with our new dog, Cuddles, are enjoying a week at the beach. Tybee Island, Georgia, is our favorite get-away with plenty of pet-friendly shops, restaurants and dog walking lanes but our vacation this year is bittersweet. We always take our Chihuahua, LeStatt staying in a pet-friendly cottage on the beach but this year is different. We lost our little boy to heart disease several months ago and considered cancelling our plans because it was so difficult to go without him. Then a lost dog wandered into our yard and though we managed to find her owner, Joe and I came home with a Pomeranian named Cuddles. Our vacation experience has been so much more special because we are sharing it with our new dog. I’m sure many Bark readers feel the same way about their companion animals but sadly, many homeless dogs and cats aren’t as lucky. For healthy homeless cats and dogs in shelters across the U.S., the number one cause of death is euthanasia and to help address this problem, I have focused my graduate sociological research on companion animals held in shelters. My current research focuses on gender and leadership in animal sheltering and the impact it has on euthanasia rates. Here is the part where YOU can help me gather data nationwide. I'm looking for animal shelter directors, employees, volunteers and people who have adopted a shelter pet to complete an online survey. If you have a few minutes, read through the information below and click (or copy and paste) the link which will take you to a survey where you can help build this important database!

Leadership in Animal Sheltering Organizations

Be part of an important animal sheltering research study

  • Are you older than 18?
  • Are you a current or former animal shelter director, current or former animal shelter employee or volunteer or have you adopted an animal from an animal sheltering organization?

If you answered YES to these questions, you may be eligible to participate in an online survey on animal sheltering research study. You may also consent to take part in an in-depth interview beyond the survey if you so decide.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/animalshelteringstudy

The survey will take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete. No names or organizational names are requested unless you wish to be contacted for an individual telephone or internet interview. The purpose of this research study is to examine leadership in animal sheltering organizations and the impact on policies in the sheltering organizations.

This study is being conducted at University of Louisville, Department of Sociology, Louisville, KY 40299.  Please call Jennifer Blevins Sinski at 1-502-852-8046 for further information or email jbsins01@louisville.edu

 

Bark Magazine understands the importance of research and data and provided me with the wonderful opportunity to learn more in my capacity as an intern this semester. They work hard to bring their readers the most recent, important research on our canine family members (and our feline friends as well).

What a wonderfully busy and productive semester this has been! The highlight of my experience was attending Best Friends Shelter’s “No More Homeless Pets” conference held in Jacksonville, Florida in October. I'm happy to say that I'm not the only data nerd out there. Judging by the number of sessions held during the NMHP conference that focused on improving data collection for animal sheltering organizations, animal welfare groups understand that data can make or break efforts to “Save Them All.” Granting agencies want to see strong programs that are mission lead, well organized and able to prove effectiveness by data-driven measurement. Organizations like Maddie's Fund, PetSmart Charities and others are working to develop common measurements, assessment and quantitative analysis that can be used throughout the animal welfare community. Community wide collaborative efforts which marry public and non-profit private organizations require a shared data language that can allow all agencies involved to clearly measure effectiveness. 

In my own home of Louisville, Kentucky, Louisville Metro Animal Services joined forces with the Kentucky Humane Society and Alley Cat Advocates to develop shared efforts to significantly reduce euthanasia rates of companion animals.  This shared data language allowed the community partners to successfully write and fund a major grant awarded by the ASPCA. Now the agencies work together, sharing data and adjusting programming to help move Louisville towards the goal of 90% live release rate.

Learning data speak isn't easy and when saving them all takes most of our time, sometimes data collection isn’t the first thing on our to-do list. But conferences like Best Friends Society's No More Homeless Pets provide opportunities to demonstrate ways to become data guru's and who better to learn from than an organization that truly understands the importance of data speak.

My passion about animal sheltering data was ignited after a truly eye opening experience I had last summer. As part of my research, I submitted open records requests to each of the 120 counties in Kentucky asking for the data that they were mandated to keep by a 2004 law passed in Kentucky. While I found that some counties worked hard to maintain current, accurate records, others struggled to accomplish this. Not because they didn't care but because they hadn't learned the how-to's of data collection. Conferences like 2013 NMHP provide a wonderful opportunity to learn from others in the field; a chance to make connections with organizations that will help develop an industry wide set of "best practices" for data collection.  While data isn't as cute and fuzzy as kittens or smell as sweet as puppy breath, it will help to save the lives of puppies and kittens daily. 

Thank you for your help with my research!

Jennifer Sinski  email:  jbsins01@louisville.edu

 

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
AniMeals on Wheels
Helping vulnerable people feed their dogs

Low income means tough choices. Should I buy medications or heat my home? Do I pay my rent or buy shoes? Who gets to eat—me or my pets?

It’s this last question that inspired volunteers with Meals on Wheels to add pet food to deliveries for seniors and disabled individuals who are at risk of hunger. People who were taking food to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities noticed that many of them were doing without the food they desperately need in order to make sure their pets had something to eat.

As dog lovers, this is no surprise to most of us. Many of us have a “my dog eats before I do” mentality in the event of economic stress, but not all of us have had to act on it. Once volunteers became aware of this new threat to adequate nutrition for the people they serve, they became enthusiastic partners with a program called AniMeals on Wheels.

This program allows volunteers to deliver pet food along with the meals they bring to human clients. It relies on donations and volunteers for all pet food and deliveries and involves collaborations with a number of pet programs in multiple states. Despite the popularity of the program and the huge amount of food donated, the need is even bigger. They are never in a position where they don’t need more donations of pet food.

AniMeals on Wheels is one of many programs nationwide that seek to address the problem of hunger in both people and dogs. It’s important to understand that until there is enough food for their pets, the problem of hunger in low-income seniors and the disabled will not be solvable.

News: Editors
Baby Squirrel and His Dogs

A wonderful pictorial story of a very unique animal rescue—amazing how the dogs took to this little baby squirrel.

 

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