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News: Guest Posts
Michael Vick Wants a Dog
To help with his “rehabilitation”

The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback who went to prison for his involvement in dog fighting and animal cruelty said in an interview that he and his children miss having a dog and that bringing one into his home would be a good thing for his rehabilitation. Unfortunately for Vick, his sentence includes on ban on his ever owning a dog.

  Ever since Vick was charged we’ve been following his story, and since he left prison, blogging about his many “second chances”—returning to the NFL, starring in a reality show, working with the Humane Society of the United States. We’ve also followed the fate of the “Vick dogs,” many of whom have miraculously and through the intervention of committed people, such as Donna Reynolds and Tim Racer at BAD RAP, landed on their paws.   But this bit of news makes me queasy. On the one hand, I believe in second chances. I believe that if you serve your time, you should be given the opportunity to reenter fully into your life. And I believe that the loving and compassionate example of a dog is a force for good in most lives. But I can’t shake my concerns about what could happen to another Vick dog when no one is looking. I suspect Vick’s reformation has more to do with endorsements and pro contracts. This is the place to hold the line. This is the price he pays for brutally torturing and killing dogs—never again.

 

News: Guest Posts
Taking Your Dogs to the Grave with You?
Protect your pets with a plan

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around Diane Mapes’ story on MSNBC.com about folks who request their dogs be euthanized and buried with them when they die. It sounds a little crazy, and I think in many cases it’s probably selfish and self-absorbed. But, as hard as it is to face, in the case of old or sick cats and dogs for whom the guardian can’t guarantee a home after they die, it may be the more humane option. As senior dog rescue veterans have told me, a shelter for these animals is often devastating and many times leads to euthanasia anyway.

  The story serves as a reminder that we have an obligation to our animals that might extend beyond our lifespan. I have a home where both my dogs will be welcome in the unlikely event my husband and I should predecease them. And we’ve set aside money for their care. Someday, I hope all our remains will be together—but the  timetable is not mine to set.   Have you made plans for your pets?

 

News: JoAnna Lou
Accidental Euthanasia
A canine war hero is PTS by mistake

Last week I was heartbroken to find out that the story of an amazing canine war hero ended in tragedy. 

In February, Target, a Shepherd mix, and two other stray dogs captured the hearts of animal lovers all over the world when they confronted a suicide bomber and saved the lives of dozens of soldiers in Afghanistan.

After much media attention, the Puppy Rescue Mission raised thousands of dollars to bring two of the dogs, Target and Rufus, over to the United States in July. The dogs were met with much fanfare and even appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Target was adopted by Sergeant Terry Young, an Army medic that was among the soldiers saved by the dogs. 

Living in Arizona was an adjustment for Target, who wasn’t used to being confined, and two weeks ago he escaped from the Youngs’ yard. Target ended up in Pinal County’s animal control without identification tags or a microchip. Tragically, by the time Sergeant Young got to the shelter, Target had been euthanized by accident.

Unfortunately, these types of mistakes are more common than we’d like to think. Human error is inevitable, so shelters often have multiple checkpoints for identification, like microchips.  

Who knows if Target would’ve been saved if he had identification tags or a microchip, but it’s important to take every precaution possible to ensure our pets will find their way home.

A candlelight vigil is planned for December 3rd to honor Target. Visit his Facebook page for updates.

 

News: JoAnna Lou
The Danger of E-Fences
Texas dog picked up by animal control despite e-fence

I’m not a big fan of electronic or underground fences, though I realize some people may not have a good alternative. Besides the potential for being shocked, these containment systems come with several other risks. 

Some dogs learn that putting up with a brief electronic shock can result in freedom if they run through. And even if the fence keeps your dog contained, it doesn’t do anything to prevent dangerous animals or people from coming into your yard.

Earlier this month, a dog was picked up by Dallas animal control when someone complained that the dogs were running loose. It turns out that the Springer Spaniels are enclosed by an invisible fence. Whether or not the fence was malfunctioning (this was a point of contention in the case), the fact of the matter is that leaving your dogs in an open yard unattended can put them at risk.

What’s your take?

 

 

News: JoAnna Lou
City Shelter Budget Cuts
NYC’s Animal Control no longer able to search for lost pets

These days, it seems as if every aspect of our lives has been touched in some way by the recent economic downturn, and that includes our pets. The economy has increased the number of animals that end up in shelters and has decreased the amount of money that families can spend on vet care. In New York, the economy is now affecting missing pets.

 

In the last two years, the number of animals taken in by New York City’s Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC) has steadily gone up, while the group’s budget has been slashed by $1.5 million.   

With more than 40,000 intakes last year, the CACC, which is responsible for the city’s municipal shelter system, has been pressured to reduce operating costs. Their latest cutback is to the call center, which handles inquiries regarding missing pets. 

In the past, New Yorkers could call the CACC to have city workers search the three main shelters for lost pets. This service is crucial considering stray dogs and cats only have a couple of days to be identified. Legally, unclaimed animals can be euthanized in as little as 48 hours. 

Now, New Yorkers must visit all three shelters in three different boroughs to search for their furry loved ones. They can also check the CACC website, which is updated regularly, but not all of the dogs listed have photos. And nothing can replace having a live person who works in the shelter help search for a missing pet.

It’s certainly unfortunate that the CACC’s budget was cut, but today’s reality is that everyone is facing severe budget constraints.

At this point, the best thing to do is to prepare as much as we can to help our pets get back to us in the event that they become lost. It’s important to make sure your pet is wearing a collar and identification tags, and is microchipped for added security. While the CACC is no longer allowed to take lost animal calls, they will take every measure possible to reunite animals with identification.

The CACC website also has a resource page on finding a lost pet and provides tips on how to systematically search their facilities to check if your furry family member is there. 

News: Guest Posts
Bedbugs Bite Back
Detection dogs’ alerts are challenged

It’s raining cats and dogs at The New York Times. Today’s front page features stories about how cats lap milk (actually pretty cool and weirdly complicated; dogs’ methods are described as “crude” by comparison) and some new wrinkles in the crusades of bedbug-sniffing dogs.

  We’ve written a bit about bedbug detection in The Bark. As the bitey mites have wreaked havoc, especially in New York and New Jersey, dogs have been brought in to detect the “moving needles in a haystack.” Everyone was been singing their praises until a series of possible false negatives led to cranky customers and lawsuits. The jury appears to be out. There are many reasons the dogs may alert when no evidence of bedbugs is confirmed—the most insidious scenario is that dogs are encouraged to alert so homeowners, coop boards and landlords are forced to pay for full exterminations.   Lesson? We can train dogs to sniff out nasty critters, but not scammers.

 

News: JoAnna Lou
ATV Kills Local Pup
An illegal ATV strikes a dog out on an evening walk

Earlier this week a dog named Lucy was struck and killed by an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) in my local park. The pup and her family were out for an evening walk on the bicycle paths in Tibbetts Brook Park, where ATVs are banned.

I live in a fairly urban area, so I had no idea people even owned ATVs around here. However, I’ve since learned that illegal ATV use is quite common in parks and even streets.

Most states ban ATVs from being driven in the street since they are fast, noisy, and not designed to be ridden on asphalt. ATVs are designed for off road use, so they are difficult to control on pavement, such as the bicycle path in Tibbetts Brook Park.

In Lucy’s case, while the police were sympathetic, unfortunately it’s unlikely the ATV rider will face any serious charges. He will lose his vehicle, but that’s a small penalty for killing someone’s family member.

The next time I go to the park with the pups (or even to ride my bicycle), I will be extra vigilant about the possibility of illegal ATV riders. It’s important to protect your crew and help maintain the safety of our parks by reporting any vehicles you see. Hopefully in the future we can avoid a tragedy like Lucy's.

Visit the About.com ATV web site to look up your state’s ATV laws and regulations.

 

 

News: Guest Posts
Dogs in China
Things are looking up for pups in Beijing

Where international pressure and petitions failed to end the practice of eating dogs in China, prosperity may turn the tide. A recent New York Times story described the rising tide of dog-love in prosperous Chinese cities such as Beijing—where treat boutiques, dog swimming pools and dog-friendly cinemas and bars are thriving. Meanwhile, the practice of eating dogs is becoming less socially acceptable.

  An intriguing point in Michael Wine’s story is how the one-child policy may have fueled the passion for pets. “Many owners also say China’s one-child policy has fanned enthusiasm for dog ownership as a way to provide companionship to only children in young households and to fill empty nests in homes whose children have grown up.” It makes sense and it’s good news if the end of dog-meat is an unintended byproduct of the policy.

 

News: JoAnna Lou
SAR Teams Come From All Backgrounds
NY based team is honored with the ACE award for their work

Earlier this month I saw the local Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence recipients honored at the American Kennel Club and Cat Fanciers Association’s Meet the Breeds event in New York. In the past, many search and rescue dogs have been honored with the ACE award, but this year I was inspired by one team in particular--Cassius and Peter Taft.

Cassius was a Milwaukee shelter dog destined for euthanasia. Fortunately someone recognized the German Shepherd’s potential and brought the special pup to train at Seattle’s Northwest K9 Academy to become a search and rescue dog.

Peter Taft came from the other side of the country--New York City. Taft is a fashion photographer and self-described “art geek.” Although he eventually became a trained paramedic, Taft never thought he was capable of search and rescue work until he met a friend’s SAR dog. Taft’s decision to become involved was solidified after 9/11. Taft then discovered Cassius at the Northwest K9 Academy and an unlikely team was born.

Since finishing their training, Cassius and Taft have traveled to Haiti after the earthquake, Sri Lanka following the 2004 tsunami, and New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, searching the rubble for survivors.

Search and rescue work may seem like something limited to professionals, but Cassius and Taft’s story shows that any dog and any person, no matter what background, can become involved in an important mission to help others.

 

News: JoAnna Lou
Positive Pit Bull PR
National Awareness Day united Bully lovers

This Saturday, October 23, marks the fourth annual National Pit Bull Awareness Day. The dedicated day was started as part of the larger National Pit Bull Awareness Campaign by Bless the Bullys, a Pit Bull rescue and education group.

Far too often the media portrays Pit Bulls as dangerous killers while neglecting to report on stories that show this breed in a positive light. This perception has led to a bad reputation with more and more cities considering breed specific legislation.

Bless the Bullys introduced the nationwide day to create positive press for these misunderstood dogs. This year the day also aims to make a stand against breed specific legislation.

National Pit Bull Awareness Day is a great way to dispel negative stereotypes and bring together breed clubs, rescue groups and individual bully lovers to unite in a common cause.

People all over the nation are organizing a variety of events to celebrate--rallies, walks, festivals, and educational workshops and demos. For a full list of events, visit the Bless the Bullys website.

 

 

 

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