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Dog's Life: Lifestyle
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.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
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.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
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.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
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.

 

 

 

News: Guest Posts
Animal Cruelty Registry
NYC suburb makes offenders’ identities public

In February, we wrote about California legislators’ efforts to create a statewide animal abuser registry, along the lines of sex offender databases. Although this effort stalled, probably over funding, Suffolk County, N.Y., has created an animal cruelty registry that will be the nation’s first.

  “The law was prompted by a number of animal abuse cases in recent months,” reports The Huffington Post, “including that of a Selden woman accused of forcing her children to watch her torture and kill kittens and dozens of dogs, then burying the pets in her backyard.”   The idea is that a registry will not only keep offenders in check but also provide for the future protection of animals and maybe people, since violence against animals is often a precursor to violence against humans.   I sympathize with the impulse to mark these often dangerous people with a scarlet letter but at the risk of drawing your ire—last time around, Bark readers’ general consensus about the registry was a hearty thumbs-up—I have to wonder where we draw the line in creating public, online databases. If we list all the people convicted of animal cruelty, then why not list those convicted of domestic abuse, or arson, or robbery? Why not create neighborhood maps that reveal where every felon lives? I also wonder if the registry might not have a negative impact, taking away offenders’ incentive to reform since they've been publicly flagged. Why not create an easy-to-use, searchable database with access limited to law enforcement, employers in animal-care related fields and shelters and rescues?   Honestly, I don’t know where I land on this, but I do think it’s important to move beyond fear and anger to consider the potential consequences of registries of this kind.

 

News: Guest Posts
Deadly Force
Police shoot another dog

Imagine coming home to a note from the police explaining that while you were away they responded to a false alarm and in the process shot your beloved dog. The Hallock family of Oakland know the terrible truth of it. Three shots from a 40-caliber Glock handgun ended the life of their dog Gloria last Thursday. In addition to dealing with their grief, the family is having a hard time believing that the arthritic, 11-year-old, tail-wagging yellow Labrador Retriever invited deadly force.

  According to news reports, the officer has not been identified or put on leave—although the department has apologized and says it will review the matter.   Meanwhile do we just have to accept that protecting dogs isn’t part of the equation—even if they are hanging out in our backyards not hurting anyone? I hope the police give the incident serious consideration that includes a greater awareness that for many of us, our dogs, cats, and other companion animals are family members and part of what we want to protect with our alarms and our tax dollars.   Unfortunately, this shooting isn’t the only recent case of police shooting dogs. In August, an off-duty officer in a Maryland park shot a dog at a private off-leash park. And on Sunday, police shot a dog during a Washington DC street fair.

 

News: Guest Posts
Stray Dog Caught After 3 Years
Community that cared for him glad he's safe

Rusty, aka Mr. Windyface, was the dog no one could catch. For three years, the Chow-Sheltie mix eluded animal control officers, police and the concerned  residents of Woodside Estates, the development in Oak Brook, Ill., that Rusty called home.

This implies that he was shy and rarely seen, but he was spotted nearly every day, often following people walking their own dogs through the neighborhood. In fact, he was rather social. One resident even videotaped Rusty playing with his dog.

Employees of nearby Follett Higher Education counted on regular Rusty sightings. My husband – who works for Follett at a different location - recalls seeing him two years ago when he stopped at the Oak Brook campus  one afternoon. He was worried about the loose dog in the parking lot, but his colleagues assured him, “Oh, that’s just Rusty.”

A few weeks ago, Rusty must’ve decided that he didn’t want to go through another Chicago winter on his own. He waited at the gate to play with his buddy, a rescued mix named Milo, and Milo’s owners let him in then quickly closed the gate. Finally, Rusty was caught and safe.

He is now at the Hinsdale Humane Society, where he is being treated for heartworms and growing more comfortable with people. Thankfully, there is no shortage of potential adopters and donations to his medical care fund.

For updates on Rusty’s health and home search, friend him on Faeebook where he goes by the name “Steve Arfenbarker.”

News: Guest Posts
Fourmile Canyon Fire
People, pets evacuate during Boulder’s worst-ever blaze

I’m in Boulder, Colo., visiting my sister for a few days before attending the BlogPaws West Convention in Denver. Monday morning, we sat and watched, as a brown cloud covered the blue sky and blotted out the sun. We thought, storm cloud. Then, dust cloud. Then, walking into the backyard, which had an eerie pink hue, we smelled the smoke—a brushfire in the foothills, not far, as the sparks fly, from my sister’s home.

 

All day high winds fed what is being called the Fourmile Canyon Fire. Smoke waxed and waned over our heads and filled our nostrils. Yesterday and this morning, the blaze continued—reportedly, zero percent contained. More than 7,000 acres and nearly 100 structures are confirmed destroyed. Thousands of people have been evacuated. A man in the latte line with me this morning lost his home. I couldn’t believe how calm he was about it.   And, of course, there are the animals: Horses, dogs, cats and more—mostly successfully evacuated. But, over lunch, a friend tells us about one man, trying to return to his Gold Hill home to save his dog, being turned away by emergency personnel. It is for the man’s safety, but it’s too painful to contemplate.   The Boulder Humane Society has been providing temporary shelter for dogs, cats and small mammals displaced from their homes but it is now full. The shelter has requested cat litter, towels, blankets and cash donations. Donate online or give $10  by texting PROTECT to 50555. Nearby, the Longmont Humane Society has been providing backup—taking in 30 animals so far—but will soon reach capacity. Some livestock have been evacuated to the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont.   The central shelter at the Boulder YMCA is allowing evacuees to bring their dogs, although they are kept in a separate area. In other cases, private individuals are offering to house and care for pets needing temporary refuge while their people stay with friends or in hotels.   The situation serves as a terrible and vivid reminder to be prepared. Make a disaster plan that includes your pets. I live in Seattle, an earthquake zone, and I realize that I haven’t taken all the steps I need to protect my dogs, Lulu and Renzo, should I be unable to get to my house in a disaster. When I return home, I plan on arranging a backup plan with my neighbors—who also have a dog and probably need a backup.   Here's a pretty stunning video from among the many shot in and around Boulder over the last few days:

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