Home
news
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Breed Specific Adoption Incentives
N.Y. town provides financial reward for Pit Bulls

Sometimes it seems like as much as 90 percent of the dogs at my local animal shelter are Pit Bulls. Unfortunately this stigmatized breed is often the last to be adopted because of the bad publicity they get.

The Brookhaven Animal Shelter in New York has been overwhelmed with Pit Bulls in recent years. Currently they have 140 available for adoption, far more than they can realistically adopt out.

Because of the shelter’s overpopulation problem, town officials have teamed up with Help the Animals Fund Inc. to create the Brookhaven Bully Alliance. The program will pay other shelters and rescue organizations $250 for each Pit Bull or Pit Bull mix they take out of Brookhaven’s shelter and commit to placing in a forever home.

I think it’s great that Brookhaven is dedicating money to getting Pit Bulls out of their shelter, though in some ways they’re just shifting the dogs around. Certainly moving Pit Bulls to new shelters or rescue groups may lead to their adoption, but the Brookhaven Bully Alliance program doesn’t get at the root of the problem—improving the Pit Bull’s reputation and promoting responsible ownership. Instead, I’d love to see the money go towards positive Pit Bull PR, responsible ownership education, or a crackdown on dog fighting.

What do you think would help Brookhaven's Pit Bull overpopulation problem?

News: Guest Posts
Sled Dog Massacre
British Columbia tour company kills 100 dogs

As most of you who read this blog regularly know, I have a rescue sled dog. So I have a special fondness of these working dogs of the north, but it doesn’t take any special kinship to be sickened by the story of 100 sled dogs slaughtered in British Columbia, Canada. According to the story posted on HuffPo, a tour company near Whistler ordered the killing of 100 of its 300 dogs due to a downturn in the economy.

  I understand that times are tough but did they try to place the dogs with other families, mushers even? Shouldn’t that be required of companies that make their money on the backs of dogs? I learned a lot about the dark side of sled dog ownership researching a story on a woman who rehabilitates sled dogs in Fairbanks. And I’m not saying every musher is cruel or even that most are cruel, but there are plenty who see dogs as machines and treat them accordingly. Add to that the profit motive and things get really sticky.   I also know that sometimes killing an animal is better than abandonment, but abandonment shouldn’t be an option. And if the reported details of these killings are accurate—some dogs “were repeatedly shot and had their throats slashed before being dumped into a mass grave,” others were tossed into the grave while still alive—it's a simple case of extreme cruelty and should be treated as a serious crime.   Meanwhile, the role of mushing for entertainment has to be examined. Can it be pursued humanely? How do we ensure the dogs are kept safe? What do you think?

 

News: Guest Posts
Jack LaLanne, Early Raw Food Devotee
Old TV show video reveals Happy's diet

I was saddened to read that fitness visionary Jack LaLanne died over the weekend—at the impressive age of 96. Even though I wasn’t really his target audience (housewives), I loved his exercise-in-your-living-room program, and one of my favorite aspects of the show was Happy, a sleek, sweet German Shepherd.

Reading about LaLanne over the past few days, I discovered he was a pioneer of more than fitness and juicing; he was an early raw-food-for-dogs advocate. Check out this clip where Happy struts his stuff and LaLanne reveals that his dog eats 6 pounds of raw meat a day. It’s another great example where healthy dog equals healthy owner.

Thanks Jack for being such a fine example of living healthy and taking great care of your dog—way before it was cool. Oh, and thanks for rocking that jumpsuit!

News: Guest Posts
Risks of Board and Train
Alleged animal abuse against dog trainer

When Californian Regina Collins picked up her 12-week-old puppy, Chance, after being boarded and trained at Ridley K9 Academy, he was afraid to come to her. She demanded that owner/trainer Garrett Ridley tell her what he had done to her puppy; she was informed that she shouldn't approach him because he was "in trouble."

A vet examination revealed that Chance was covered in urine, dehydrated, and his eyes were hemoraging. The latter is usually caused by being restrained at the neck or high pressure around the neck.

This is why it's so important to interview potential boarding facilities. What kind of training methods do they use? Can they give you client references? Ask to tour the facility and see the staff engaged with the dogs. How are the dogs responding? Do they seem relaxed, stressed, scared?

Of course, if you are not welcome to visit behind the scenes, you are better off boarding elsewhere. Better yet, find a petsitter so your dog can relax in familiar surroundings and take a training class with your dog when you return so you can both learn and strengthen your bond.
 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Chihuahua Survives Owl Attack
His winter coat may have saved him

Chico the Chihuahua survived an attack by a great horned owl. In one sense, he was very lucky because a four-pound dog is easy prey for large owls that are capable of killing and eating much larger animals, such as skunks and raccoons. On the other hand, Chico was unlucky, because owls are usually deterred from attacking small dogs by the frightening presence of a human, and Chico’s guardian was right there with him during the attack.

  George Kalomiris was walking Chico on leash when the owl swooped down and attempted to grab Chico. Kalomiris reports that he yelled and lunged at the owl, which had gotten tangled in Chico’s leash. After a few seconds, the owl flew off—without Chico.   Chico was treated by a veterinarian for a puncture wound that was, remarkably, enough, superficial. In all likelihood, the winter coat that Chico was wearing saved his life. It prevented the owl from getting a good grip on the dog. George’s wife Dana said, “Now I feel vindicated for buying dog clothes.”   Have you had a dog who was threatened or injured by a wild animal?

 

News: Guest Posts
Bo Obama’s Trainer Dies
Champion for positive-reinforcement, Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz will be missed

Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz, 52, who trained dogs for the late senator Edward M. Kennedy and trained first dog Bo (known to her as Charlie) before he went to live in the White House, died Jan. 12 in Virginia. According to The Washington Post, she had been leading dog training classes days before her death. After being admitted to the hospital, for reasons that were not stated in the obituary, she went into a coma and died of respiratory distress.

  A champion of positive-reinforcement training methods, many of which she detailed in her book, The Love That Dog Training Program (written with Larry Kay), Sylvia-Stasiewicz will be missed by all of those who have been touched by her message of loving and respecting dogs, and teaching them as we would our children.   In a recent interview with Bark, Sylvia-Stasiewicz was asked why training mattered. Her answer stuck with me: “Training opens up communication; it’s a language that helps our dog understand us, and vice versa,” she said. It’s a true sentiment beautifully and simply expressed. We train not simply to keep our dogs off the couch but to develop our relationship with them.   Bark interviewed Sylvia-Stasiewicz shortly before she died. That interview, which will appear in our February issue and in a longer form online, was apparently her last. Dawn’s family has requested that tax-deductible contributions be made to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) Foundation to further her work in researching, developing and promoting best practices in positive reinforcement dog training. Dawn’s mentor and APDT Founder, Dr. Ian Dunbar, is presiding over the fund.   Details on a memorial and opportunities to pay tribute can be found at lovethatdogbook.com.

 

News: Guest Posts
Kindness of Strangers, Plus Luck
Heartwarming reunion story

This time of year “Christmas miracle” stories fill the air like snowflakes, and most fail to live up to their billing. But the story of a little white dog reunited with his owners after a terrible car accident on the Elkhart County toll road in Indiana, deserves the title. Fair warning: When you watch the video in the link, you’ll want some tissues nearby.

News: Guest Posts
Walking the Walk
President Obama scoops poop

If you thought being president might be a way to avoid scooping poop, think again. We're guessing Queen Elizabeth never cleaned up after her many Corgis. It’s good to see someone lead by example.

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?

 

Pages