Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or treat: NOT

I am in the process of hiding in my computer room with both my dogs asleep on the floor and all the lights in the house off.
My dogs don't like Halloween and I have come to also dislike this holiday. Too many people bring carloads of teenagers to my neighborhood to try and get as much candy as possible before driving away.
What happened to the cute little kids who wore sheets as ghosts and dressed up like gypsies and pirates with their parents waiting at the end of the driveway for them?
I guess we all grew up, now hide in our offices with our dogs and pretend no one is at home.

Understanding animal behavior

One of the biggest mistakes most people make when dealing with companion animals is attaching a human thought to the animal.
Companion animals do not use human thought processes, although many people believe they do. They don't and they can't. They are animals.
The field of animal behavior, especially companion animal behavior is one of the newest in the studies people are using in the fight to end euthanasia. There are even veterinarians who specialize in this study.
If you talk to most people, they think they know animals, but in truth, they don't. They have not been exposed to many of the behaviors shelter animals exhibit, because they have never been around shelter animals.
It is a grand thought to believe we always know how an animal is going to act or react to stimuli. They truth is, many act differently. Why will one animal sit contentedly in a kennel, wagging its' tail as people pass by and another bark? Why does one totally ignore people and another act as if they want to rip your arm off?
Studying these different reactions can sometimes mean life or death to an animal. Understanding why they react differently is the interesting part. Do they do this with everyone, or only fat people? Do they like women, or are they only aggressive with men? What about children? Do they like kids, or was a child mean to them at some point in their life so they growl at each one that walks by?
Studying animal behavior brings more and more questions. Unfortunately for some, decisions may be made by people without proper knowledge without all sides being examined. This is when the animal loses.
Perhaps if more people were concerned about animal behavior and ask the questions before a judgement was made, more animals could be saved from certain death because of ignorance. It is something we in animal welfare should all strive for.

Special kittens in Englewood

Meet Strawberry and Blueberry. These two little kitten sisters are so lovable. You can meet them and all the other kitties up for adoption at Puffy Paws Kitty Haven - Open House, every Saturday between 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. at 270 Lakeview Lane in Engelwood or call 941-473-5406.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

How long must they wait?

I wonder sometimes, what goes through our dogs' minds when one by one, they see new dogs come and go quickly.
I know some of them become depressed, sitting in a kennel all day, watching others pass by their kennels going to a new home.
My Mutt Mutterer, Cappy, has been a guest of the shelter since March. He faced the long, hot summer with his thick chow coat and never showed anything but wagging tails when we would take him out for his walk.
Dolce, a medium-sized dalmation/terrier mix has spent almost her whole life with us. She has been with us since April and is just now a year old. How sad she must feel sometimes to have spent her puppyhood in a kennel, with numerous playmates, only to have them be adopted one by one and she stays behind.
Maybe Deva Raja, a husky mix, who was turned in to us because she didn't like the new puppy they brought home. She is an ambassador and goes to all the offsite events in hopes someone, sometime, will see her and fall in love.
Jasmine, who is a beautiful black lab mix and loves to sit in chairs, or maybe BlackJack, another black lab mix who loves soft toys and to be brushed. Our pudgie girl, Lady, pictured here, who has lost 5 pounds and has a new playmate, Droopy, to help her work even more weight off
They all have the longing look in their eyes, just waiting and wondering when their time will come. Could it be this weekend? Do you have enough love in your heart and space in your home? Please consider adoption as your only option. There are thousands of animals who need homes in this area. Contact the HSSC at 2331 15th Street in Sarasota, 955-4131 or your local shelter.
Take one look in their eyes and you will know what I am speaking of.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Beds and toys needed

The Humane Society of Sarasota County is asking for donations for old used blankets and dog beds plus dog toys.
Our linen closet is becoming bare and with the approach of cooler weather, our pups need a warm blanket to snuggle in until they can find a new home.
We are also running short on dog toys. Soft and squeeky ones. We have plenty of tennis balls but need those squeeky and soft ones for our younger and older residents.
If you have anything you would like to donate, please drop them off at the Humane Society of Sarasota County, 2331 15th Street in Sarasota. Questions? Call 955-4131.

Sarasota dog for Obama family?

Since Senator Obama is visiting Sarasota tomorrow morning at Ed Smith Stadium, wouldn't it be cool if he dropped by the Humane Society of Sarasota County? They are just around the corner. He could pick out a dog for his daughters and meet some working people. They would make him feel welcome.
Just think of all the exposure Sarasota would get if he found a dog there. We might find homes for all the dogs and cats. Wouldn't that be a nice way to end a Thursday?
Oh well, a girl can dream can't she?

Perpetual dog care

I see so many animals come into the system when their owners must go into assisted living or nursing homes or even pass away. They mistakenly assume someone in the family will care for their beloved pet after they no longer can.
This is a great site with several options on things you can do to make sure your trusted companion is taken care of if you are no longer able to.
There is a lot of good information on different options. If you care about what happens to your pet, you should check this out.

Happy tales

One of the advantages of knowing everyone at the shelter is I get to hear all the happy stories that come in from people who have adopted animals from us. Sometimes the stories have been submitted for one contest or another and are posted on a website somewhere, so I can post the link and you can read them, too.
I guess and Bissell were working together on something called Happy Tails and this submission, from the Bissell website tells the story of Jack, who was adopted from the HSSC.
Check out the story here.

Tampa joins the foreclosure reports

About a year ago, major media began reporting on the effect foreclosures and the economy were having on companion animals. Big stories in the Washington Post, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times all had the same depressing news.
Yesterday I gave you the link for a story in the Herald-Tribune and today it is News Channel 8, which reports the same thing happening in Tampa.
Although this influx of animals has been happening too regularly in this area for over a year, our local news is finally catching up.
My question to them is, "What took you so long?"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hypnosis show to benefit the HSSC

Wow, talk about a fun time and a way to help the animals.

On Tuesday, December 2 at 7:30 p.m., McCurdy's Comedy Club is hosting The Rich Guzzi, Psycho Hypnosis Show to benefit the HSSC.

MuCurdy's is located at 3333 North Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. Tickets are $15.00 and 100% of the ticket sales benefit the shelter.

Stop by the HSSC, 2331 15th Street or call Cherie at (941) 955-4131 ext: 121

The economy and the animals

If you haven't seen the story in the Herald-Tribune this morning, check it out here. The photos are great. Thanks, Elaine. Those are nice shots of great animals who need homes.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Special Labrador available for adoption

Hi folks! My name is Sadie, a friendly gal, 6.5 years of age, with a nice yellow coat.

You can see me swim in my own video ...yes I am a star. I enjoy playing, walking with my leash, and snuggling. My tail wags whenever I'm with people and I love other dogs.

I'm sharing the pool with other pups but honestly if you take me to the beach once in awhile I would love that too. So please know that there is no pool required.

I am looking for that loving family that will give me the loving and stable life I so desire. Come visit and lets play frisbee or go for a walk. I am sure we will get a long great!

If you are interested in meeting or adopting Sadie or one of our other labs please contact Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida by visiting our website or call 1-866-464-LABS. You can also check out Sadie's video here.

LRRoF has all our labs microchipped, spayed or neutered, up to date on shots and each adoption comes with a 30 day pre-paid pet health insurance plan. All applicants will have a home inspection and vet reference (if applicable).

Corrections officer arrested for stealing dog

HEMET, Calif. (AP) -- An officer at a San Diego County correctional facility who had complained about the barking of her neighbor's dog was arrested after being accused of stealing the animal and abandoning it 15 miles away. Diane M. Brown, 42, was arrested on suspicion of felony possession of stolen property, Hemet police Sgt. Kevin Caskey said. She was booked Thursday and released on $5,000 bond. Brown had filed multiple noise complaints about Spike, a white Maltese, who lives next door to her home, Riverside County Animal Services officials said. On Monday, Spike went missing, but Brown was spotted unloading the dog from the trunk of her car outside a water district building in the town of Beaumont, Animal Services Sgt. Lesley Huennekens said. A surveillance camera captured Brown when she returned to the scene to remove to dog's collar. Two water-district employees took Spike to a veterinarian, who located the dog's owners by scanning a tracking chip embedded under the animal's skin. The dog was unharmed.

Bees injure woman and kill 3 dogs

In Riviera Beach, which is a subdivision of Palm Beach, it is being reported that a swarm of bees attacked a woman and have killed 3 dogs. Here is the story from the Associated Press:
RIVIERA BEACH - A swarm of bees that terrorized a Palm Beach County neighborhood killed three dogs and injured a 70-year-old woman.
Authorities say crews removed 50 pounds of honeycomb from the side of a Riviera Beach home after Friday's attack. The hive has been contained.
The bees swarmed Nancy Hill and her two dogs, killing the animals. The bees also attacked two other dogs in the neighborhood, killing one and sending the other to the hospital. Hill was treated at a hospital where the stingers were removed.
Lab tests would be needed to determine whether the bees were Africanized bees. Their stings are no more potent than an ordinary bee, but they are far more aggressive and attack in swarms. Experts believe they can be found throughout the state.

Pit Bull Awareness Day

In the daily fight to educate people about the most maligned dogs in the country, I totally forgot to mention this past Saturday was "Pit Bull Awareness Day". This may have been because a) I was working and totally exhausted when I got home and b) because I am beginning to sound like a broken record about this breed.
The truth is, most educated people know about this breed. They know about their loyalty and what smart dogs they are. They also cannot believe the reputation after either knowing a pit bull or owning a pit bull. It is the uneducated I am after, and they don't tend to read anything that is positive about the breed. But, if I can convince only one person to give these dogs a chance, that is one more life saved.
I had the pleasure of meeting the board of directors from the Humane Society of the Nature Coast this past spring at the HSUS Expo in Orlando. It seems from this column by their executive director, we are on the same path. (click on the headline to go there)
It has a lot of the same information I have been posting for the past two years. Check it out and have all your friends do the same. It is an educated, researched article and I am glad to see a semi-local newspaper (the Tampa Tribune) allowing a humane society to run a column, especially one on pit bull dogs.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pros and cons of spay/neuter

There are now and will always be people who will not spay and/or neuter their animals. This is a fact that cannot be disputed. Unfortunately, many of the animals born to these people's pets will be killed, because there are simply not enough homes for them.
Then I read this report from MSNBC about the health risks of doing early spay/nueters. It seems even the veterinarians cannot agree. These studies are because of several municipalities trying to pass laws for mandatory spay/neuter by 4 months of age.
Although at the end of the article it does state the benefits of having your pet spayed or neutered far outweighs the risks, people who don't believe in altering their animals are going to take these studies and run with them.
It is estimated in this country, the United States of America, we kill between 5 and 8 million companion animals a year in this country. This figure is down from 20 million animals 20 years ago. 5 to 8 million animals die each year due to irresponsible pet owners.
I would ask each person reading this article to volunteer with their local animal services and see what happens to these unwanted animals.
Is spay/neuter the answer? It is a start. I wish I had all the answers.

The emotional well-being of animals

In the last couple of years, I have had discussions with many people about animals and their emotions. Do they know love, sadness, happiness and so on. People who have and love animals all agree; they do have emotions. People who don't have or love animals feel they don't experience human emotions because they are animals.
In dealing with my own pets, I have seen them grieve over the loss of a playmate. I have watched tails wag as I come through the door. Mention the word "walk" in my house and my dogs dance with excitement.
These emotions may not be a complex as human emotions, as some people think, but they are there.
Working with dogs every day makes me even more aware of the complexity of animal emotions. Confronted with being dropped off at a shelter, they are confused and scared. When you see an animal who refuses to eat, constantly pacing and looking to you for guidance, you know they don't understand.
Kreed is a beautiful purebred GSD, who came to the shelter when his owner could not longer care for him. He paces. He doesn't eat. He is losing handfuls of hair due to stress. Is he emotional? You bet. Is it obvious? Absolutely. Would someone who didn't understand animals see this? Probably not.
Darla is a little 3 year old, black labrador mix. She jumps on the kennel and tries to get in your lap. She is not eating. She has the look of lost confusion in her eyes. She knows you are being kind to her, but she wants your lap to crawl into. A cold, concrete kennel is not her home. Where is her family and who are these strangers who put her in this cage?
Do they have emotions? I am more convinced than ever. I see it every day.

Scooping poop and leash laws

We all have leash laws. Unless you live in an uncorporated area, most municipalities have some sort of law about keeping dogs on leashes.
I know Sarasota County does. Dogs are not supposed to run at large. Period. No question, no discussion.
We also have poop scoop laws. You are supposed to, by law, clean up after your pet.
I know about poop. I clean kennels 40 hours a week. I empty garbage cans filled with poop. I own two very large dogs who poop regularly who I must clean up after. I don't mind. I do mind picking up after neighborhood dogs.
I also know about leash laws. I own two big dogs who most people are frightened of, just because of their sheer size. If I let them run out my door and poop in the neighbors' yards and aggravate the neighbors' dogs, I would have the county called on me so fast it would not be funny.
But I am a responsible pet owner. My dogs are never off leash and I am meticulous in cleaning up after them.
So tonight, while I was in the kitchen doing dishes and heard the dogs going absolutely ballistic, I thought a gang of thieves was attempting to enter my house. Lo and behold, it wasn't theives, but the puggle who lives on the corner.
The puggle's owner, a young man who lives in his mother's house, has no control over this dog at all. We have had several discussions about his dog running loose in the neighborhood and pooping in my front yard, which by the way, the young man never picks up.
It seems the puggle decided to run loose, come up to my windows and create havoc in my house. The young man was chasing the dog, calling the dog and chasing the dog some more, with no luck in catching it. My dogs wanted the dog and the young man to leave their yard which caused a cacophony of noise in my living room.
The puggle then promptly pooped in my yard, and ran home with the young man walking calmly behind.
I don't want to be a bad neighbor and I really don't want to call Animal Services on the dog, but maybe, if I called and complained, they would do something to convince this young man what his responsibilities as a dog owner are. But then again, I am not sure.
What was the number of Animal Services? I think a call is in order.

3 Strikes: Isabella's story

Cute puppies come in all shapes and sizes. They can be obnoxious, funny, irritating and adorable all in the same 5 minute time period. They get away with it because they are puppies. I tend to stay away from puppies because I don't worry about them. Their endearing puppy quality ensures them a home.
Then I met Isabella. Isabella came to the Humane Society of Sarasota County along with several other dogs as surviors of Hurricane Ike, which hit the Galveston, Texas area. She is the only one we have left. This means at 3.5 months of age, she survived a hurricane, was picked up by the HSUS, transported to Florida and ended up at our shelter. Strike One in her life.
She is the cutest puppy I have ever seen and I have seen some cute ones, but she has ears that stand straight, almost bigger than her head. She is white, with black spots on her ears. One of her eyes is blue, while the other is brown. She is a wiggly, squirmy, adorable puppy who is a pit bull mix. Strike two. (Don't tell her though, she doesn't know it)
Then, as she waited in our holding area to be put in adoption, she was on the other side of her kennel, with her back to me. I called her and she didn't respond. Until I flicked the leash and she saw the movement out of the corner of her eye, she had no idea I was there. Our behaviorist tested her and discovered she can't hear. Isabella, in all her cuteness, is deaf. Strike 3
Now, she doesn't know she is a hurricane survivor, or her breed is disparaged, or that she is deaf. She only knows kindness and beds, good food and hugs with lots of playmates all around.
She is smart. In one session she mastered the hand signal for down, sit and good girl.
She needs a home. One where her breed, deafness or place of birth doesn't matter. An owner who is willing to have the patience and time to teach her all she is willing to learn. She plays well with other dogs and has been exposed to kids, but we are recommending a no kids household because of her disability.
Training is essential so she doesn't become what is known in the shelter world as a boomerang dog. One who leaves and comes back several times simply due to a human error in training.
Are you up for the challenges Isabella presents? She has 3 strikes against her, so let's not have her strike out. Call 955-4131 and speak to them about Isabella. She is going to make someone a fabulous pet. You can also check out this website for training deaf dogs.

Pocket pets: Pickle and Peanut

Pickle is a 2 year old male Guinea Pig who is black with gold and Peanut is a 2 yr old female
Guinea Pig who is brown with gold
Peanut and Pickle were brought to us because their owner no longer could financially care for the pair.
These two are adorable. Pickle is handsome and Peanut is beautiful .
Guinea Pigs are great starter pets for teaching kids the responsibility of caring for a pet. They are also great pets for folks that have a busy life style and just want a friend for companionship. They love to cuddle and do they love to talk to you! Ours are no exception!
Peanut and Pickle are all set to go home so please come by and meet these two little cuties!! The adoption fee for each is only $10.
You can visit them at the HSSC, located at 2331 15th Street in Sarasota or call 955-4131. You can also check out all their animals available for adoption here.

Mutt Mutterings: What goes on Sunday

You know, I am beginning to think like my old pal Slimmer in that I hate Sundays. Sundays for us shelter animals are long and boring. We get to see people early, but then we are just stuck here, no people, no walks, no grass, no fun.
I am the senior of this bunch and I still miss fun. Fun is having someone brush you for hours, or romp in the backyard, or simply tell you what a good dog you are.

My last owner got sick and couldn't take care of me anymore. I am glad I am here and not dumped out somewhere, but I have been here since March and no one comes to see me. The volunteers all love me and the staff, too, and they are my family for now, but I would love my own. One I didn't have to share with anyone else. Okay, pity party's over now and I will get down to business.

My girl, Deva Raja, led the Howl-o-Ween parade downtown yesterday and I heard she was holding her head up high. She got to meet lots of people and had a really good time. Well, she's not really my girl, since we have conflicting personalities, but I am glad she got to go. She is a little younger than me, only 9, and she is, from what I hear, a nice dog. (our kennels face one another so we see each other all day long)

Two members of the 2nd Row Club got to go home yesterday: Brahma and Holly. Both went home to acreage to run in and new families. Both will be the only dogs but Holly will have a miniature horse to play with. See, there are families out there who only have one dog. How I would love to find one.

The 3rd Row lost Trooper, who was still a youngster. He even had a broken toe and someone adopted him. This means that Minnie, a little mutt who has no hair lost her play buddy. Well, she actually has hair but is being treated for demodex so now it looks like she has a Rays' mohawk running down her back. She is quite cute though, and should find a home quickly because she is young.

The 2nd Row Club lost 2 and gained 1. Darla, a little black lab mix who is 3 years old and seems okay, but I have had a chance to really scope her out yet.

Well, the morning is young and I need to go prepare myself for the opening cleaning and feeding. They have me on a diet and I tell you, it is no fun.



Friday, October 24, 2008

Special dog in Sarasota

Trooper is a Pit Bull/Chow Chow mix who is 10 months old and weighs 53 lbs.
Trooper is great youngster. He was originally found when he was about five months old. The person that found him then turned around and abandoned Trooper. A family member brought him to us so we could help this nice guy find someone who would give him forever.
Trooper has lived with other dogs but likes to be the one to call all of the shots with his canine pals. Our pal is a happy-go-lucky guy. He is very playful and loves to go outside and play with the K-9 coaches.
Trooper knows several commands. He does well when he gets to go for a car ride, too. His previous owner told us that Trooper was good when left alone but he does like to chew on his toys.
Trooper is a real lover boy and a great kisser too! He also loves a good belly rub and should do well with kids. This is a good boy and he really deserves to have a home of his own.
If you think you could provide that home, please stop by 2331 15th Street in Sarasota or call 955-4131. You can check out all his friends here.

Special cat in Englewood

Meet Scooter. He is a 2 year old male.

He is a rather shy guy. He is a lovable kitty that needs that special someone.

You can meet him and all the other kitties up for adoption at Puffy Paws Kitty Haven - Open House, every Saturday between 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. at 270 Lakeview Lane in Englewood or you can call 941-473-5406. Check out all the cats available here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

For a special dog

This email circulates every so often and if one person who reads this blog thinks before they dump another animal at a shelter, it is worth it to run it again. It always makes me cry.

A letter from that unwanted dog
When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was "bad," you'd shake your finger at me and ask "How could you?" - but then you'd relent, and roll me over for a belly rub.
My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams,and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs," you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.
Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.
She, now your wife, is not a "dog person" - still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement.I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a "prisoner of love."
As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch - because your touch was now so infrequent - and I would have defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.
There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered "yes" and changed the subject. I had gone from being "your dog" to "just a dog,"and you resented every expenditure on my behalf. Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision for your "family," but there was a time when I was your only family.
I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said "I know you will find a good home for her." They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with "papers." You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar as he screamed "No, Daddy! Please don't let them take my dog!" And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too.
After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked "How could you?" They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you - that you had changed your mind - that this was all a bad dream...or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.
I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood. She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago.She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured "How could you?"
Perhaps because she understood my dog speak, she said "I'm so sorry." She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself - a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my "How could you?" was not directed at her. It was you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of.
I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.
The End
A note from the author:If "How Could You?" brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly owned pets who die each year in America's shelters. Anyone is welcome to distribute the essay for a non-commercial purpose, as long as it is properly attributed with the copyright notice. Please use it to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all spay & neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals. Thank you. Jim Willis Director, The Tiergarten Sanctuary Trust, accredited member of The American Sanctuary Association, and Program Coordinator, International Society for Animal Rights.

Why do we?

I read an interesting editorial piece by a reporter from CNN who covers the war. He asks several questions in the article but makes no judgements. The main question is, "Do people care more about animals than humans?" This statement is based on the amount of mail he receives after one of his stories runs.
He always gets lots of mail when an animal is involved. The interesting thing about this is reading the comments after the story. Most cite the innocence of the animals. They are caught up in a situation they have no control over. Humans are who have made the decisions.
People who don't love animals accuse animal lovers of not caring. I think the innocence is exactly why we do care.

Attaching human emotion to your pet

Economy, economy, economy. That seems to be the only word coming out of humans today. It is one of the main reasons given for the abandonment and relinquishment for so many animals in this area. I will say my animals are taken care of. As long as I have money to make my house payment, the rest seems to fall into place.
I did go out and buy orthopedic beds for both of them, but after Gypsy's cruciate ligament thing, and with both having arthritis, I want them to be as comfortable as possible.
According to this report I read on MSNBC, many people, even in this economy, are stopping at nothing to spend hundreds of dollars of their animals. This is what we call attaching human emotion to an animal.
The pet who lives in your home has no idea his food bowl is decorated with crystal, or his dog biscuits have cute little designs on top. We should all just admit we do it to make ourselves feel good. It has very little to do with the pet.

Mutt Mutterings: watching them come and go

Hello animal lovers,
It has been a couple of weeks since my last report and a lot has happened since then. Several of my mates here at the shelter have found good, positive new homes. I, of course, am still here and still waiting.
China, who was a pretty little thing, went home with a nice man who said she was sweet. Brahma, who is a pointer mix in the next kennel to me is getting some extra special treatment. He had heartworms. His previous owner did not make sure he was protected and now he gets extra loving from one of the vet techs. She says she is going to take him home. I wonder why she doesn't like me?
Cleopatra, who is also a senior like I am, got adopted on Tuesday. See, some people do like seniors. I also heard a rumor the two shelties, who are 12, are going home together today. Both of them together have more hair than me. So what is wrong with me?
We also have two puppies. I can hear them yapping. Once they go, it will be a little quieter, but not by much. Gracie is the reason for that. Gracie is a big, black labrador mix who is also a senior. She was pretty pitiful, let me tell you, when she came through our door. So skinny and neglected. She is filling out quite nicely now and except for a couple of minor things, is a pretty nice female. Did I tell you I like the girls? The boys I could do without, especially if they get in my face, but that is because they have no respect for my elder status.
Did I also tell you I am on a diet? Who in the world decided that? The is just no accounting for what some people will do. Did they not consider I am stuck in this kennel at least 23 hours a day? I mean, what else is there to do? At least it is a big kennel so I can turn around.
Okay, so what is the economy? What is a nursing home? I have been here since March and still have no answers.
I am going back to bed now. There aren't many people asking to meet me. Will you be the one? I am really a nice guy. I always go outside and don't chew things up. You can call 955-4131 and ask about me. They would be honored to have you do that.
Better yet, stop by my home at 2331 15th Street in Sarasota and ask for me, Cappy, on the 2nd Row Club. I will be patiently waiting. Just don't make it too long.

Click for the animals

This morning I added a clickable ad at the bottom of the blog. You can click on it once a day to provide food for homeless animals.
They are also sponsoring a favorite shelter contest and the winner gets $25,000. Please click on the link today and help out the animals and your local shelter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

HSSC Pet food bank

The Humane Society of Sarasota County, a non-profit animal welfare agency that shelters nearly 4,000 abandoned pets each year, recently created a food bank to help area residents who can no longer afford to feed their pets. The food purchase was funded by HSSC board members, who donated about $2,500.

Nearly one ton of food was purchased. During its initial distribution, HSSC provided 54 families with food. The families, who came from throughout the Sarasota/Manatee county area, owned a combined total of 196 pets - 95 dogs and 101 cats.
HSSC also provided pet food to Wellspring International Church, which distributes food to between 50 and 100 families each week.

Business and individuals are being asked to donate food to continue the program. The goal of
the food bank is to help families in financial crisis keep their pets, rather than surrendering them to a shelter and losing the unconditional love and companionship that is so essential, especially in difficult times.

Above, HSSC board members Jodie Smith, Susan Rothfuss and Jan Oppenheimer unpack some of the food.

When in doubt, don't

I would love for all the homeless animals in the area to find a home this week. Wouldn't it be fantastic if all the people in the area decided to take on a pet, or a second or third?
The truth is, this will not happen. It will not happen this weekend or next. Or next month or year. There are simply too many animals and not enough homes.
I don't want just any homes, either. I dream of good homes where pets are treated as family and are taken care of with food, shelter and vet care.
What will happen is some animals will find the perfect home. They will be loved and cared for the rest of their lives. Many will find a home, but will then prove they are not the perfect pet.
One of the things I have learned in dealing with shelter animals and the public is the public, much to their credit, try and do the right thing. Unfortunately, this doesn't translate to good homes. Some people visit shelters because they feel guilty, or sad or are being pressured by another family member. This doesn't bode well for the animals. These are the animals which are returned time and time again because they aren't working out.
We ran into that situation just this week. The dog in question needs a home. She is a good dog, but the person who was thinking of adopting her had lots of reservations and in the end, she was advised to not adopt the dog. Because of the doubts she had, she would have questioned herself time and time again, and in the end, the dog would have been returned. I have seen it happen many times.
If you are ready for a new pet, please make sure you are comfortable with your decision. If you need to think about it, go home and think about it. If there are doubts in the back of your mind, whatever those doubts may be, then don't adopt the animal.
This will help you avoid the anguish you and the animal would suffer if you had to return it. Anguish which could have been avoided if you had just listened to that little inner voice.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Only in Florida

It is no wonder people think the south is made up of stupid, ignorant rednecks. I just read a blog item from Miami about the ClayCounty Sheriff's Department.
It seems they locked a dog in a car to try and simulate the death of another dog they had locked in a car. What? Are they that ignorant? Sometimes I am ashamed of being southern when I read stories like this. Especially when PETA is the one calling for the investigation and I am not a PETA fan.
Read the item here and respond to the Clay County officials if you would like to comment.

Michael Vick plea bargains

I really wish I had not seen this story. It is being reported Michael Vick is going to plead guilty to the state charges against him to reduce his sentence on the federal charges.
I say to the state of Virginia, this is not enough. He should serve time in Virginia after he finishes his federal time.
The dogs he owned who were killed and fought, had no one watching out for them. We need to make sure he pays heavily for what he did.
You can read this story in the Miami Herald. (Smoke is coming from my ears)

Dewey, the library cat

I found this great story on CNN about a kitten, left in a book drop box and adopted by the library in small town Iowa.
A book has now been written about this cat and is becoming a bestseller. The name of the book is "Dewey, the Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World," by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter.
Check out the story here and then go buy the book. You don't want to miss out on this bestseller.

Royal dog out of favor

It seems the Pekingese has fallen out of favor as China's royal dog. Funny, they are now legal in China and they cost around $1.40. Other breeds are much more expensive.
I have known 2 of this breed of dog in my life. Ping and Ming. Both were my mother's spoiled rotten lap dogs and Ming was the only dog who ever bit my son.
I wouldn't own one, but those that love them, really love them. You can read the story here about the Chinese and their new dog buying habits.

Old companions and best friends

Regular readers know about that big, soft heart I have for senior pets. I am saddened every time an animal enters the system after living a nice life in a nice home with a nice owner. We receive animals many times whose owners have passed away or been put in a nursing home or assisted-living facility and can't take their pets with them.
I try to feature a senior pet every other week or so and many of them find great homes with the people who live in this area. Cleopatra, who I featured last week, went home today with an alumni of the HSSC who is also now a senior.
The number of people who are willing to give homes to seniors, knowing they may not have them for a long time is a very unselfish act of love for animals.
Fortunately, the shelters in this area do not automatically euthanize for age, as many shelters do and many also offer reduced funds for those willing to give a senior pet a home.
There is a fund at the HSSC called Jessie's Fund, which sponsors all the senior animals, 7 years and older who come through the doors. In order to keep this fund going, we must raise money every so often so we make sure all the seniors can be accommodated. I am now asking you for your help to raise this money.
All donations to Jessie's Fund are tax-deductible. Any amount is appreciated. You can send a check, marked for Jessie's Fund to HSSC, 2331 15th Street, Sarasota, Florida 34237 or you can pay by Paypal on the HSSC site also marked for Jessie's Fund.
You can also just drop by the shelter. Just make sure you let them know it is a Jessie's Fund donation and they can write you a receipt.
These animals have had homes. Let's make sure we keep enough in the fund so we can continue to sponsor them for their next one. The animals appreciate all you do and so do I. Thank you.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Georgia Canine Camp trains seizure dogs

According to a report on CNN, "'Dr. Gregory Barkley, a neurologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, and an adviser for the Epilepsy Foundation of America, believes nearly a quarter of the people who suffer from frequent, severe seizures might be helped by a canine companion. He said the dogs have "an unqualified devotion to their master" that may offer important mental health benefits.
The dogs are sometimes credited with powers they really don't possess, Barkley said. "The dog does not predict a seizure," he said. "It may respond to the earlier stages of a seizure."
Canine Assistants in Alpharetta, Georgia, was founded in 1991 and has placed over 1,000 dogs adults and children.
You can read the full report here and check out Canine Assistants.

The world's first known dog

According to a report on MSNBC, scientists have discovered the world's first known dog. In a cave in Belgium, prehistoric remains were found that lived 31,700 years ago.
They believe it looked much like a Siberian husky and ate large animals like horses. You can read the report here.

When it is hard to be nice (and you have to)

Humans are such individuals with different thoughts about different things. Sometimes when you meet a person who is so opposite of you, it is very hard to bite your tongue (mine stays bloody quite alot) and just keep going about your daily business.
Meeting people who are animal lovers offers the same kind of challenge because everyone is an expert. Whether they have owned one pet, or a dozen, many people will not listen to what you are trying to explain to them. Then are dismayed several weeks later when the pet they adopted is exhibiting a behavior they have never seen before. Some are in a panic because they don't know what to do.
I remember a young man several years ago who came looking for a dog. He met several and the dog he chose had not been neutered. I explained to him the animal would be fixed before he could take him home. His response was, "Why on earth would you want to maim this beautiful animal that way? If you plan on cutting his balls off, I don't want him."
Of course, the hair went up on the back of my neck but I calmly explained to him the reasons shelter animals are spayed/neutered before leaving the shelter, the first of which it is Florida state law. I also explained to him about the other 50 odd dogs on the adoption floor who were there because an irresponsible owner had not taken care of fixing their own animals. They were not wanted and sat in a kennel, day after day, waiting for someone to want them.
What I really wanted to do was shake this young man's body until his teeth rattled and maybe some common sense would then have space in his gray matter to reside.
The young man ended up leaving without adopting a dog and the dog ended up finding a new home with another couple.
I wonder if young people who feel this way were required to volunteer at a shelter and see the numbers of unwanted animals who pass through the door because of irresponsible owners or backyard breeders would help this misconception?
Maybe, but maybe not. I guess the tongue will stay bloody a little longer.

Is it really the economy?

Over the last year, I have been in contact with several different rescues and shelters. The ebb and flow of animals entering the animal welfare system is high, but I don't believe from my observation, it is any higher now than a year ago.
This may be because euthanasia rates are up, but once again, shelters and rescues, even those classified as no-kill are not going to release that data unless they are public, because they don't have to.
Because of this, the public has no real knowledge of just how many animals come in the system, or how many go out. One thing I have learned over my many years of dealing with business is numbers can and are manipulated so things either look worse than ever, or better than ever.
I believe the economy is being used as an excuse in many cases. Now, don't misunderstand what I am saying, I do see animals coming into the system who have been abandoned by their owners. I see them come into the system in such bad shape from neglect, I wonder why people even own pets to begin with. The thing is, most people I have seen, would not part with their companion for any reason short of death.
I have heard the moving excuses and the ones related to allergies, excuses about boyfriends or girlfriends, divorces and size. Now people have another excuse to add, the economy. I can't afford the food, or the shelter or the medicine, or some other reason and the dogs end up in a shelter.
I believe shelters should be exactly what they are: a temporary home for an unwanted animal. the key word here is temporary. When a person dies, or goes in a nursing home or a true case of affordability are all valid reasons to give up an animal. The nuimbers show that is not the case for most of these animals. Shelters and rescues become a dumping ground where people can drop off discarded companions and use any excuse which makes them feel less guilty.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Special Labrador for adoption

Hi! Rusty here. I am a 15 month old 64 pound yellow male who is really least that what my foster mom tells me!
I am looking for that special home with all the love that will come my way. You see my last family just disappeared. I was dropped at the vet and left. Oh well, they must have had important business somewhere else.
I am looking for a stable home that will give me lots of love and attention. I am proud to say I am crate trained, I walk okay on a leash, I know how to sit and shake with one paw but I could still use a basic obedience class.
I am still young so I like to be an active boy. If my new home likes to walk, jog or even takes me swimming, I know I would love all those fun activities. I get along with other dogs and I am fine around children. My favorite sport now is to chase lizards, insects, and cats!
If you are interested in meeting or adopting Rusty or one of our other labs please contact Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida here or call 1-866-464-LABS. LRRoF has all our labs microchipped, spayed or neutered, up to date on shots and each adoption comes with a 30 day pre-paid pet health insurance plan. All applicants will have a home inspection and vet reference (if applicable).

When an emergency arises

I have always wondered why pets seem to get hurt on the weekends. Every time one of my dogs was hurt or injured, it was a night, weekend or holiday and my regular vet's office was closed.
The first time I had to use an emergency vet clinic was 16 years ago. The clinic was in the same place it is now, off of Bee Ridge Road in a little strip mall and not easy to find when you are driving from Anna Maria Island at 10 p.m. on Saturday night.
Jasper had escaped an open fence and been hit by a car. We, at first could not find him and then he came slowly walking down the road. At the top of the steps he collapsed and a hysterical mom (me) call the clinic where they advised me what to do and to get him there as quickly as possible. He ended up staying all weekend with a collapsed lung, broken pelvis but they patched him back up and on Tuesday when I picked him up, he was good to go. Had they not been there, I would have lost him.
The second time I had to make the visit was not on a weekend, but rather 5 a.m. on a weekday when I awoke to find my 2 year old rottweiler lying in a pool of blood and diarhea. My neighbor helped me get her into the back of my truck but by the time we made it to the clinic, which is now 10 minutes from my house, she was gone. The were so gracious and compassionate at a very sad time and I was glad they were there.
This morning I had no plans to rush Gyspy to the emergency clinic. I had plans to do lots of other things which all got interrupted when she could not walk on her back leg. Her foot was swollen and painful to touch and she growled at me. So I knew she needed to see a doctor because she was in pain.
Between myself and my son, she was loaded into my truck (she is now on a diet) and taken to Sarasota Veterinary Emergency Hospital, where they believed she would need x-rays. X-rays on a large dog require anesthesia so they will be still.
When I returned to pick her up the news was good. No dislocation, no bone cancer, nothing glaring on the x-rays except severe arthritis of the spine and a swelling around her cruciate ligament. The doctorr believes there may be a slight tear and she is on meds and rest for a least two weeks.
While I was there, they were treating a bassett hound who kept vomiting, a black lab who had tried to jump a fence and ended up with a huge gash across her stomach and a schnauzer/terrier mix who had jumped out the window of her owner's car and been hit by the car in back.
I believe all of us were more nervous and upset than any of the dogs were.
Hopefully, you will never have to use their services, but if an emergency arises with your pet, they are located at 7517 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. Their phone number is 941-923-7260 and you can check out their website here.

Watching human minds work

I am a great people watcher. I love to people watch while sipping on a hot cup of coffee outside the local Starbucks. What is going on when they are frowning? Is it a true frown or are they simply concentrating? What about when they are smiling? Are they happy or thinking about a happy occasion? Is the smile a clown smile? Happy on the outside but sad on the inside?
I also do this when I am watching people adopt an animal. Why do they chose one over the other? What is it about the animal that makes them fall in love?
Is it the look, or the sad eyes? Is it a long-haired dog or short? Is it a big dog or small? Are they timid or rambunctious. A lap dog or a ball fanatic? In most cases you can watch their minds at work, weighing everything about the dog from size to coat, to personality.
This all happens within a few minutes. Even when you think you know what they are thinking, you don't.
I have seen people come into the shelter looking for a small to medium dog with short hair and leave with a large dog and long hair. I have also seen the opposite. What is it about a particular dog which captures our minds and changes our decisions? The mysteries of human minds continue to facinate me.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Make it a super adoption day

Today is Saturday, which in most places is the most popular day to adopt a new pet.
If you are thinking of bringing a new pet into your home, please visit your local shelter or rescue group.
Sarasota County Animal Services is having an adoptathon from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. and many groups, including the HSSC have begun their IAMS "Homes for the Holidays" promotions.
Many of these animals are victims of the economy and deserve to live out their lives in a proper home.
Let's make this a winner for the animals and see if the tri-county area will come through once again, for companion animals.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Special needs dog needs a good home

I know a dog who needs a good home. He is special needs and will likely have to remain on medication the rest of his life. He has spent most of his time outdoors and is fine with that, but is also housebroken and would make a good inside pet.

If you have an interest in knowing more, please contact me off the blog at and I will send you the particulars. Thanks and have a great day.

"Today" is having a dog show

The Today Show on NBC is looking for America's best dog and is running a dog show which began last week. People are invited to send in video of their dog to join in the running.
Check out the article here to find out how to enter.

Special senior dog in Sarasota

Cleopatra is a spayed 59.6 pound hound/retriever mix who is 12 years old.
Cleopatra was surrendered to HSSC because her owner went into a nursing home. They felt someone would be there for her but when the time came no one was willing to give her a home.
Cleopatra is a sweetheart. When she looks at you it will melt your heart. We have made sure she is up to date with all of her vaccinations.
An easy going home with be the perfect match for Cleo. This is a great dog who really deserves to spend her senior years in a loving home. Please come by and ask to meet Cleopatra. As always with our senior animals, Cleopatra’s adoption fee is being sponsored by Jessie’s Fund.
The HSSC is located at 2331 15th Street in Sarasota. You can call 955-4131 and ask about her or check her and all her friends out here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Insurance company wins again

The arcane insurance industry we all subscribe to has been blasted by me several times over the past couple of years. I am going to blast them again. Since when, in the history of the country, does a huge conglomerate get to decide what kind of dog I can own? They do it in Florida all the time, and now California is being struck by the same.
This link from a vet in California speaks of a dog who lost his life simply because he had an owner too scared to stand up for her rights. Anyone who knows me, knows this is one of my pet peeves. I believe homeowner insurance companies will do whatever they want to, whenever they want to, with no regard for who is paying the bills.
If you think it will not happen to you, think again because it can and it will as long as we, the voting American public allow it to.
Insurance companies, who for the most part go by looks of an animal, are telling you what you can and cannot own.
In my opinion, they are the criminals, not the animals who are killed. You can pay your premiums every year, but they can cancel you at any time, for any reason and if you don't like it, too bad.
When we, as the voting public, finally get fed up with this BS, maybe something will get done. Until then, expect more of the same, only next time, it may be your dog.

Pocket pets: part 5, rabbits

Some 40 odd years ago, I received a white rabbit from my first boyfriend for Valentine's Day. His family lived out in the country and he presented me with a small bunny I promptly named Snowball. (original, I know, but I was 11 at the time)
Our family dog, Blackie, would not allow Snowball to live in the house so my father built a hutch and I was responsible for feeding and exercising Snowball, who had the whole backyard to play in every afternoon. She grew to be a fat and healthy rabbit and I loved her dearly.
When my father received orders for his last tour before retiring, we had to move and my parents made the decision that I could not take Snowball with us. They contacted my boyfriend's parents, and Snowball went back to Evans, Georgia to live out her life at his house. I cried and cried, but kept in contact with Mike through the years and she lived a good life and is buried on his property.
Rabbits make great pets, can be litterbox trained and are simply adorable creatures. They need to be handled and exercised though, and not kept in a hutch for days on end. Parents should not let children sway their decision to buy a rabbit, because just like any other pet, they need care. There are rabbit rescues all around if you decide this is the pet you want. You can check out the list here along with tips or visit your local humane society.

Special dog in Sarasota

Tyson is a 6 year old labrador mix who weighs 73.6 pounds.

Tyson wasn’t feeling well so his owner took him to their veterinarian in February, 2008. His owner never came back for him. His vet has been trying to find him a new home since, but had no luck.
They gave us a call and asked for our help. Tyson is a good guy but wasn’t always comfortable with everyone he met. The staff at the Vet’s office knew he had it in him they just needed some extra help to make him feel that he can trust people.
Tyson has been with us for just about a month. The vet had neutered him and got him up to date with all of his vaccinations. He is now on monthly preventatives for fleas, ticks and heartworm. He is now microchipped.
This fellow is very affectionate, outgoing, gentle and truly has a very sweet nature. The volunteers are finding that he really, really loves a good belly rub. He does well walking on his leash. Tyson is house broken.
Tyson has been well cared for these past seven months but we all know that living in a kennel or at the vet’s office is not the same as being a part of a loving family. This special boy is really hoping that his next owner is going to be able to care for him for the rest of his life and that he won’t ever have to go through all of this again.
If you are interested in helping out a great dog , come by the shelter at 2331 15th Street in Sarasota and meet Tyson today! You can call 955-4131 or check him and all his friends out here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Special dog in Port Charlotte

Onyx has not been missing any meals prior to arriving at the shelter.

This 12-year-old spayed female Labrador mix weighs about 102 lbs.

Onyx is a loyal couch potato who is a relaxed, laid back kind of dog who enjoys long naps, and loving her new owner.

The Animal Welfare League of Charlotte County is located at 3519 Drance St. in Port Charlotte. You can call 941-625-6720 for more information or check out Onyx and all her friends here.

Watching the old friends

I was watching my seniors last night while I was watching television. Both were sleeping on the couch together, snoring and I thought about how special they both are.
Although I have had Junior since he was a pup, Gypsy only joined my family a few months ago. Seniors are the way to go for busy households, or for any households as far as I know.
They greet me in the morning with wagging tails to go outside, and greet me in the afternoon with wagging tails to go outside.
They sit patiently waiting to be fed and in Gypsy's case, follow me around the house with a constantly wagging tail.
There is no chewed furniture or urine-soaked carpet. In fact, the only time Junior has ever gone in the house was when we first moved in and he dutifully marked his territory. It only happened once but the unfortunate part was his choice of rooms. My son, who had stacks of LP's for his dee jay jobs, did not think it was funny. (I did)
Both of them are over 10 now and although I could lose them at any time, the love I have for them and they for me will never be replaced. Unfortunately, but fortunately for me, there are a wide choice of senior dogs, 7 years and older at most humane societies. They seem to value the elders much more than humans do.
If you don't want the hassle of training and would like to give some senior pets a loving home for however many years they have left, contact the HSSC at 955-4131 and ask about their senior program. They have lots of dogs and cats, 7 years and older available who would love to come home with you.

Crackdown on puppy mills

Last week Pennsylvania passed the most stringent law governing puppy mills. The new law imposes strict standards on commercial kennels, including at least twice-a-year veterinary exams, larger cages and exercise requirements.
Due to the exposure on Oprah Winfrey's show and the involvement of the Humane Society of the United States, Pennsylvania became known as the puppy mill capital of the world. The governor hopes the new bill will rectify this. Three other states: Arizona, Louisiana and Virginia have also passed legislation to curb this problem. I hope Florida follows.
You can check out the story here.

$24 Million settlement in pet food case

Pet owners who used pet food tainted with melamine finally got their day in court. A federal judge approved a $24 million settlement for owners of dogs and cats who were sickened or died after eating the food.

Some owners have objected to the settlement because it does not compensate them for loss or pain and suffering.

You can check out the story here.

Doing the best you can

I came across an interesting story that happened in Alabama. It seems a woman, who had 32 cats, found out she had cancer and had little time left.
She crated her cats, along with detailed information about each one and systematically dropped them off at various veterinarians in the county with a note, "DO NOT KILL."
The clinics where the cats ended up have found homes for most of the animals. She was a pretty smart woman. Check out the story here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Special cat in Sarasota

Swirl is a stunningly marked 4 year old neutered male Maine Coon mix who is hoping to find a calm quiet home because his previous family included children that frightened him terribly.

Swirl is very affectionate with adults, particulary women, and comes running for attention as soon as you walk into the room. Men and loud noises still upset him though, so a mature household would probably be the best environment for him.

When he was dropped off at the Shelter we were told Swirl was "aggressive with the other cat in the household." However, oddly enough, he is now housed in our free roaming room and living peaceably with up to a dozen other cats.

If you think Swirl might be the right kitty for you stop by soon for a little visit. He would be so happy for the chance to meet you. The HSSC is located at 2331 15th Street in Sarasota. You can check out Swirl and all the cats here or call 955-4131.

Oprah's show today

Wayne Pacelle, who I had the honor of meeting at the HSUS Conference in Orlando last spring, will make an appearance on Oprah today at 4 p.m.
He will be discussing the passage of Proposition 2 in California in the November election. According to Mr Pacelle, Proposition 2 is "a measure on the ballot in California that The New York Times endorsed last week. Prop 2 will end the practice of cramming farm animals into cages and crates so small the animals can’t even turn around, lie down, or extend their limbs. If passed, it will be the biggest victory for farm animals in U.S. history."
The New York Times article is here along with Mr. Pacelle's blog item.
I am not vegan or even vegetarian, but believe crate farming by huge agribusiness must be better controlled.

Hope for the homeless

I am asked all the time why I dedicate so much time and effort into rescued animals. People say, "There are so many other worthwhile groups out there and you give your time to animals."
I say to them, "There are lots of groups for humans, children and adults alike. There are groups for artists, and art students; groups for alternate lifestyles; groups for addicts, and the list goes on." These groups are not sentenced to death by the system. Homeless animals are.
They are sentenced to death every day in this country, because of breed, or temperment or age. They are hauled off to gas chambers in some parts of the rural south. Many are given a shot they never wake up from.
They are then hauled to a county landfill somewhere, or dumped in a crematorium. When was the last time you visited a county dump and saw the mound of animals piled eight or ten feet high with companion animals no one wants? It is easier to pretend this doesn't happen. Dinner conversations don't revolve around homeless animals.
It is easier to put your head in the sand and say it is not your problem. Therein lies the problem. You give that control to other people because you don't want to be bothered with it. You don't spay and neuter your pets. You don't keep your animals contained to your home.
You don't have to hear them cry at night after you have left them. You don't have to see the look on their face as they are given a death sentence or hold their bodies while life goes away. You have made it someone else's problem.
These are the reasons I do what I do. These are the reasons most animal welfare workers go to work every day for little pay. You won't receive a death sentence if someone doesn't want you. These animals don't have a choice. It has already been made for them.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Special cat in Engelwood

Meet Goldie. He is a 3 year old male that was rescued from Indian Mounds Park. He is such a sweet boy and would make a great best friend forever.

You can meet him and all the other kitties up for adoption at Puffy Paws Kitty Haven - Open House, every Saturday between 1 pm - 5 pm.(270 Lakeview Lane - Englewood) You may go here or call 941-473-5406

Special cat in Sarasota

Sylvia Mae first came to the HSSC in October 2007 as a youngster who had been found by a family who could not keep her.

She is a very pretty short hair black & grey tabby with expressive almond-shaped green eyes. Sylvia Mae was adopted in February '08 but that adoption only lasted for 3 weeks due to conflicts with the other pets in the home. However, she has adapted quite happily to sharing space with up to a dozen cats in Woody's Wing, the Shelter's free roaming room.

Sylvia Mae is hoping she is one of the lucky ones who will be in a forever home for the Holidays! Someone who knows Sylvia Mae thinks she is so deserving of that home that they have prepaid her adoption fee!

If you would like to visit with Sylvia Mae, the shelter is located at 2331 15th Street in Sarasota or you can call 955-4131. You can visit all the cats online here.

The value of volunteers

Because I now work in an area of animal welfare, I have first hand experience of the value of volunteers. The number of hours people dedicate to working with shelters and rescues is high. Many people walk dogs or cuddle cats.
This decreases the lonliness of an animal who lives in a kennel situation. Some animals, who have a mistrust of humans since being dumped off, begin to look forward to visits from volunteers, and begin to trust again.
Cats, who are used to having a lap to curl up in, find a willing volunteer who will sit for hours stroking stroking. Dogs, who need a good game of fetch, or work on basic manners, begin to receive that attention from volunteers.
Volunteers answer phones, act as foster parents, stuff envelopes, work with the animals, and smile. They smile because they are doing something they love and helping the most needy, those who cannot speak for themselves.
Due to the number of animals in shelters today, were it not for the volunteers, staff could easily become overwhelmed with the daily tasks which must be done when caring for animals.
This is my salute to all the volunteers. You give of your time, which is precious, to care.
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact your local rescue or shelter. They are always in need and appreciate everyone who walks in the door.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What is in a name?

As I walk down the kennels at the shelter and see the looks in the dogs' eyes I wonder why people give up their pets. The next question is why you would tell us a particular breed when nothing is that obvious.

The term "mutt" or "heinz 57" would classify 75% of all shelter dogs. People don't use those terms anymore. According to the dictionary, a mutt is a mongrel dog and a heinz 57 would be a dog with 57 varieties all mixed in. When I see people who have labeled an obvious mutt a pit bull, I cringe.

I cringe because just the name will send people running in the other direction. They won't even look at an animal who has pit bull associated with it in any way. They do this because they have never heard anything good about the breed, have never, in most cases, seen a pit bull, and are terrified based on what someone else may have told them.

There are several different breeds of dogs who have short, stocky bodies and large heads. There are also several breeds of dogs who have large, stocky bodies and large heads. These are not all pit bulls, but are known collectively as bully breeds. These can include Am Staffs, Bull Terriers, Presa Canerios, American bulldogs, English bulldogs, French bulldogs, Dogue de Bordeaux, Mastiffs, bull mastiffs and the list goes on and on.

The picture I have attached is of a pit bulldog. As you can see, the photo looks nothing like most people picture and when dogs are turned in to a shelter with that particular label as their breed, many are served with a death warrant that is undeserved.

With doggie DNA available now, I wish a benefactor would fall out of the sky so we could test the dogs and label them properly.

As Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet: "What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet"

I could say the same about naming dog breeds.

The championship road

Stories are written all the time about shelter dogs who do wonderful things. Many of these animals become therapy dogs or work in rescue and have proven time and time again what love and patience can do with even the most challenging of dogs.

I met Jazz several years ago when I first began volunteering at the HSSC. She was a wild child and had been returned several times to the shelter. At about the same time, I met Jazz's mom, Stacy, who was also a new volunteer.

In July of 2006, while I was still working for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, I wrote a story on training the shelter dogs which featured a great photo of Jazz giving Stacy a kiss during a class. Jazz's obedience was on the money but she still didn't have a home.

Stacy and her husband, Galen along with their first dog, Gizmo ended up adopting Jazz and giving her a forever home.

Stacy began working with her in flyball. Today I got a note about Jazz's accomplishments this weekend at a tournament in Lakeland. This is what Stacy had to say: "This afternoon Jazz earned her Flyball Master Title at the Tropic IX Tournament in Lakeland Florida. Flyball Master (FM) is achieved by accumulating 5000 points in flyball races. It's the 6th title earned and is the first "big" title recognized by the North American Flyball Association with an official certificate and a pin that Jazz will receive (and I will wear).

Jazz has worked really hard to earn this title. She also got a big rosette with the title on it. She will get a photo on our "Flyball Master" wall at the Sarasota Obedience Training Center as well. Attached is a priceless photo of Jazzy with her rosette, goofy grin, and happy handler."

Thanks for the story Stacy. Another happy ending for a supposedly unadoptable dog.

Problems with photos

I apologize to everyone who looks at the blog to see the critters up for adoption. It seems several different rescue sites are now locking their photos once they have been posted as a .art instead of a .jpg. Although most photo programs will change the .art to a .bmp the photo is then corrupt and I can't use it.
Unless the person sending me the photos sends me an original jpg or imbeds the photo in the email, it is not useable. I am trying to contact all my rescue groups now to make them aware, but that is why there has been an absence of rescues this week.
I am working on the problem.

Messing with Mother Nature

The old saying, "Birds of a feather, flock together" holds true with animal lovers. We all tend to stick to each other like glue and the major topic of conversation always ends of being about animals.
I have a friend who communicates with animals. Twice this week she has run into situations where people try and do good things, that end up badly.
The first was a small baby squirrel. She saw him outside her office and watched him while a co-worker was talking on the phone. The baby squirrel kept trying to run up to the person and was terrribly confused. He didn't understand why the man was not paying attention to him.
He had obviously been raised by hand by someone, and then turned loose to fend for himself. The problem was, he was very bonded to humans, so was looking to them for guidance. I can only hope he finds his way with the other squirrels. This is one of the reasons wildlife rehabilitators discourage picking up baby animals, especially when you have no idea what you are doing.
The second case had to do with feral cats. Now, we all have our own ideas on what should happen with ferals, but someone removed 2 newborn kittens from outside where a feral cat had hidden them. Thinking they were doing the right thing, they took them home and tried to care for them. Newborn kittens are a lot of work, and in the end she had to find someone else to take them to try and keep them alive. I say, she should have left them for the feral mom to care for, contacted ARC and their volunteers on helping set a trap and gone from there.
There used to be a commercial on television when I was a kid and the punch line was, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature." I agree.

Special Labrador for adoption

Hi! I am Blake. I have heard my foster parents say that I am an adorable 2 year old black Lab. But that is so embarrassing. I am just me. A 64 pound medium-sized bundle of fun.
I love to cuddle and people are my favorite companions. I have been told that I am a very affectionate boy that seems as loyal as they come but that comes with my loving personality. I get along with everyone and I am curious about cats.
I am gentle and charming but remember I am only 2 so I like to be playful and since I am a Labrador Retriever I like to carry things in his mouth. I am crate trained and I am very interested in my surroundings. I guess that means I am nosey! Since I have never had a consistent home and I am young, I know I would benefit from an obedience class and a loving family that will help me understand proper behaviors. Please come visit and lets play...maybe we can strike up a life long love and friendship. If you are interested in meeting or adopting Blake or one of our other labs contact Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida or call 1-866-464-LABS.All applicants will have a home inspection and vet reference (if applicable).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Updates and news from the HSSC

Crowded. That is the name for it at the Humane Society of Sarasota County.
As the economy continues on a downturn, the animal companions of those affected seem to be the most disposable.

Saturday will prove to be a good day for some of these castoffs. My hope is many of them will find homes. The HSSC is also the new home for some of the homeless animals from Hurricane Ike in Texas.

Two new residents, Hannah, a gorgeous, sweet little collie type mix who is about two years old and Ricky, a little fox terrier. Those are the first two available so stop by tomorrow and check them out.

Of course, we still have our senior gentleman, Cappy and our longest female, Dolce. Dolce is a dalmation/terrier mix who is full of energy and needs to go home with a full of energy person.

Or maybe Buddy Holly, a corgi/JRT mix, also a high energy little guy. Or how about Amelie, pictured here, a little black lab mix who is sweet, sweet, sweet.

On a more laid back scale we have Tyson, a black lab mix who is 6 or maybe Deva Raja, who is a 9 year old husky mix.

The numbers are large and so is the variety. Stop in tomorrow and check these dogs out. You can call 955-4131 or check them out on the website. You may just find your new best friend.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mutt Mutterings: the new guy

Okay, so I am going to do this because I was forced into it. If it helps me to get a home, so much the better. I understand there were others who were very anxious to have this spot, but my seniority and good looks won out and here I am.
My name is Cappy. I know I have been on this human contraption before, because my friend tells me everything. This time though, I am doing the talking and she is simply writing my thoughts down. I don't have thumbs, you see. I have wisdom and age, have been know to talk in dog speak, just no way to write.
I am a senior (my friend is partial to us old guys), I reside on the 2nd Row Club, Slimmer's old hangout and I am just a pretty laid-back mellow sort of dog. I am the longest resident dog here at the HSSC and I know pretty much what goes on everywhere.
Six months is a long time to not have a home and a comfortable bed. I wait patiently, but have only been looked at seriously a couple of times. They said, or I guess whisper, it is because I have chow in me. I have no idea what chow is and always thought it was food, but I guess I have some more to learn.
My old owner was very good to me and loved me but got very sick and told me I must come here. I trusted him, so I came and am still here. I am very housebroken and keep my kennel spotless. I am also trained to sit and stay and walk like a gentleman on the leash. I am not particularly fond of small dogs so I might do best as your only canine companion.
We have been pretty busy here so I know people are adopting animals. Just not looking my way as of yet. I also heard through the grapevine we are very crowded. When we are crowded I don't get as much attention. At least we have no yapping puppies though. No one would look my way if puppies were in the house.
I also loved to be brushed and need it because of my thick coat. I think I must have some yellow labrador in me because I am a pretty tall guy.
Well, that kind of sums me up pretty well. I don't have lots to report because I had no idea this was going to be my turn, but Princess Raja only lasted for one week after she became the Mutt Mutterer, so I am hoping this will change my luck around.
I would never stoop so low as to lick a person I didn't know, so I will leave you with a wag of my tail. Here's hoping to see you later.


Dog slaughter forum

BSL or breed specific legislation comes to the forefront of the news only when a local area decides to enact laws against a breed of dog. When Puerto Rico rounded up all those dogs and killed them, the world, especially the United States were appalled and called for the arrest of those responsible.
In 1989, when Denver, Colorado enacted a law which removed and killed almost 2,000 dogs from residents, many of these family pets, no one was up in arms. It didn't even make many newspapers.
Now Best Friends, which is a wonderful organization has stepped up to the plate and taken on the needless slaughter of specific dog breeds. Thank God. If the brainpower behind Best Friends can somehow bring more common sense and education to this issue, it can only benefit the dogs and the humane movement in American.
This article from the Best Friends website is an excellent read. Be sure you check out the other wonderful things this organization is doing.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Special Labrador for adoption

Greetings, folks! Trooper here. I am a friendly guy, 6 years of age, with a thick yellow coat.
I was with a family and then I was at the shelter.....don't know why but I was really concerned. Then along came Labrador Retriever Rescue and now I am secure once more. They are great folks and I love my foster family but sure would like to find a new family of my own.
Here are my plus points: 1. I enjoy cuddling with everyone, 2. I get along very well with other dogs, 3. I lived with cats, 4. my foster family has children and I like them too, 5. I am a gentleman inside the house, and 6. did I say I like to cuddle!
If you are looking for that special "Super Trooper" then I am your guy. Come visit and we can cuddle and play with the tennis ball.....two of my favorite things.
If you are interested in meeting or adopting Trooper or one of our other labs please contact Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida by visiting our website or call 1-866-464-LABS. LRRoF has all our labs microchipped, spayed or neutered, up to date on shots and each adoption comes with a 30 day pre-paid pet health insurance plan. All applicants will have a home inspection and vet reference (if applicable).

Free food for your pet

Can't Afford to Feed Your Pet?
For those in need - one bag per household plus, info about HSSC's low-cost spay/neuter & other programs
Saturday, Oct. 11 from 9 a.m. - noon
Humane Society of Sarasota County, Inc.
2331 15th Street, Sarasota, FL 34237
In the Education Center
For more information check out their website or call (941) 955-4131

Mark your calendars for Labrador Rescue

Mark your calendars.
On October 19 Paw Wash Plus will present New Port Richey and Trinity's 1st Annual Barktoberfest.
Located at Paw Wash Plus, Century 21 Plaza, 2318 Seven Springs Blvd in New Port Richey, there will be fun, food, pet photography, pet contests and a silent auction.
This is a free event and will benefit Labrador Rescue of Florida, the American Cancer Society and Small Paws Rescue.

Unselfishly letting go

The death of a cherished pet can be one of the most traumatic events in your life. Most of us would wish our pets would live long and happy lives with us and when the time comes for them to die, we would acknowlege the sadness and the pain and let them go.
Animals live in the here and now. They have no concept of a year, next week, or even tomorrow. When an animal is in pain and suffering, they must look to their human to let them go. As painful as that can be, we must be unselfish.
Quality of life is bandied about quite frequently in the animal welfare world. What is the kindest thing to do? Many people have discussion and they light up the internet with opposing opinions on when an animal's quality of life is gone. Are they suffering? In pain? Are they eating and drinking? These questions are asked by people day in and day out all over the country when faced with letting go.
The same questions are ask of animals coming in to shelter situations. How do you judge and how do you know? Unfortunately, by the time they reach us, some after years of neglect, it is simply too late. When faced with the same questions, the same decisions must be made. We have to unselfishly let them go.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The best kind of tired

So, regular readers know I lost my job a month or so ago and then found a new one. I thought it was the perfect job for me, but I was wrong. Luckily, I figured that out early and then embarked on a new hunt.
It didn't take long and I began my new job today. It is, as I had hoped, in the animal welfare field. It is also an entry level job, which means the money is little, the hours are long and the work is hard. Physically hard and after being behind a computer for most of my working life, it is a change for me.
But just in case you are thinking on how terrible it is I had to take this job, STOP, don't think that. I love it. I am tired right now, my feet hurt and I used muscles today I had forgotten about but I am not complaining.
One of the things my parents taught me was if you are going to do a job, any job, do it to the best of your ability and be proud of what you have done.
Today, I did that and will return tomorrow and do it again. It will take me a couple of weeks I am sure to work all the kinks out of these unused muscles, but the satisfaction I am feeling in doing something I am passionate about makes this the best kind of tired. I haven't felt that way in a long time.
Thanks you guys. You know who you are.

Making a commitment

Commitment: a pledge or promise to do something; dedication to a long-term course of action, engagement or involvement.
Sometimes, people use the term commitment in an inproper fashion. This happens with too much frequency in the world of animal adoption. It even happens when people do the wrong thing and buy a dog or cat.
I find it interesting that long-term means different things to different people. To some it means until the new wears off. Others believe it means for the life of the animal. Still others think commitment only lasts until the next change happens in their lives.
Many of us in the animal welfare world see this happen on a daily basis. We see animals leave, with wagging tails and shiny coats and then come back two or three years later with matted fur, covered in ticks with cataracts in their eyes. When we ask what happened, there is no explanation, simply excuses. What happened to the commitment made to the animal?
Fortunately, we see the other side. Where the commitment was made and the person followed through to the best of their ability.
One of my favorite shelter dogs of all times was an English Bulldog/Pit bulldog named Munson. I have written of him often and saw him returned time and time again (4 times in all) to the shelter because although the people adopting him made a commitment, they didn't keep it.
His new Mom, Pam, made that commitment. He has been gone for almost a year now. He lives down south with a German Shepherd named Sere and spends lots of time at the dog beach. His life if good now as you can see by the contented way he is sleeping.
Munson never let the lack of commitment on a human's part get him down. He still loved people. He never lost that. The last time he was returned we wondered would he recover. He did and several of us made our own commitment. If he was ever returned, one of us would take him. He deserved that.
When you make a commitment to own a pet, please follow through. Pets need that stability in their lives. They may not all turn out to have a happy ending like Munson did.