Friday, January 28, 2011

What are we going to do about it?

I came across this video (it references Australia, but the video was taken in the U.S.). It is extremely hard to watch and depicts how dogs and cats are routinely killed at U.S. shelters (and this is more humane than most.) It also shows the pain of daily life as a euth. technician and reminds us- it is not their fault- its OURs.

The only thing that makes looking at the remains of the dogs in this video seem a little tiny bit more humane is that these animals finally no longer can feel pain. Thank goodness they are no longer hungry or beaten by irresponsible owners. It is disgraceful that this is really the best we can do by the animals we claim to love and care for.

What are we going to do about it?

See the article & video about Overpopulation.

Spay and Neuter.
Ban puppy mills and back yard breeders.
Rescue from a shelter.
Love your dog with all your heart.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Amazing what love can do...

I am really inspired by this before/after picture I came across on facebook of this brave dog named Nico.

Now Nico has his very own facebook page :)

Nico is deaf and his cancer has returned since his rescue, but now lives the good life with his sister (who is also deaf and white) in the Midwest.

If you would like to be a part of continuing to save Nico's precious life, you can donate to his cancer treament here.

Here is Nico's article from the LA Times:

"From the LA Times Article on September 1, 2010:
Remember Nico, the defeated deaf white Dogo Argentino at South Los Angeles animal shelter -- who moved so many people with the sad photo of him first posted on Facebook? Nico, the forlorn animal who evoked the agony and utter defeat so many discarded animals must experience? Well, it's a joy to update you on Nico's life.
Things have worked out well for Nico SwanGarris. That's his new name and he lives now with his two moms and new sister, Brisby, a pit bull mix who is also deaf and white, in Indiana. He still loves balls, baths and life as a major couch potato, says Bridget Swan, who, with her partner Melissa, adopted Nico in November 2009.

Last August, Southern California animal rescuer Nikki Audet first posted Nico's photo on Facebook, and Kelley Gibson, a rescuer and animal transporter based in a San Diego, helped get him to the Hamilton County Humane Society in Indianapolis. Nico likely didn't know how lucky a hand he'd been dealt.

He quickly went through training to help him with issues resulting from his deafness and teach him how to navigate in a world of sound. His bumps and nicks and battle scars were attended to. He was happy and safe when Bridget and Melissa decided they wanted to adopt a dog, and Bridget's friend said she should see this dog at the local humane society.

Swan remembers that, at first, the animal agency was a bit wary of her adopting Nico. She didn't understand why until she was clued in by shelter staff that Nico was a bit of a celebrity and they wanted to make sure she was adopting him for the right reasons.

These days Nico walks in parades with his new moms, “loves to sit up close on your feet so he knows when you are walking away,” says Swan, and “in general is 100% low-key. He'll get a wild hair in him once in a while, but he's a mellow guy, and he deserves it after all he went through back then. He just loves people -- despite whatever was done to him -- and gives lots of kisses. He's very generous and free with his kisses. He's just so dependent on us, and he likes to hang with you 24/7.”

Nico has had one setback: A cancerous tumor was discovered and removed shortly after his adoption. Recently, Swan and Garris learned that the cancer has returned, but they remain optimistic about his future. "We are attempting a holistic approach so that we can hopefully avoid an ear amputation," Swan says. "We know that he will beat this just like all the other terrible things he has put up with in the past. He is a loving fighter and is strong."

According to Swan, finding toys for Nico can be a bit of a problem, as he loves and chews up Kongs, bones and anything he can wrap his canines around. He also has hundreds of fans on Facebook who hear about his daily happenings and send him messages of love and support.

Asked what Nico might say now that he's safe and sound, Swan replies: “The main message is this: Just because it's a cute small dog or puppy doesn't mean it'll be your best companion. Go for the downtrodden, defeated dogs, look at the underdog, because they will give you all their love and gratitude and forever be grateful you literally saved their life.”

So this soulful, special dog, once full of sadness, now lives out the good life in the Midwest. It's the happy story ending all dog rescuers wish for but often don't always see -- though every animals deserve nothing less. We're wishing Nico a happy, healthy and cancer-free future!"

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Find Your Better Half Contest!

The Find Your Better Half Contest urges us dog-bloggers to find our dogs' dopplegangers-- opposite sex versions of our dogs on petfinder available for adoption! This is great because it brings awareness to the adoptable dogs in our areas. (Oh and it is so fun to sort through all these adorable pitties on Petfinder). Here are Winnie and Brunos' "Better Halves" :)

Winnie's, two adorable boys named Nevada and Paris in Brookhaven, NY

and Bruno's, a sweet girl named Honey in Mount Vernon, NY and this girl, Princess in Bridgewater, NJ

Friday, January 21, 2011

The OTHER victims of dog-fighting

Dogs are not the only victims of dog-fighting. In fact, because in many states simply watching a dog-fight is a felony, young boys in the inner-city are increasingly losing their chance at a successful life because they have allowed themselves to get involved in the sport.

Philadelphia, PA has a serious problem with young men getting involved in dog fighting. Three years ago, only 300 cases of dog-fighting were reported in Pennsylvania. That number has shot up to 1,200 cases anually.

In particular, since Michael Vick signed with the Eagles, the number of animal fighting investigations in Philadelphia rose from 245 (in 2008) to 903 (in 2009).

Some believe Michael Vick has encouraged dog fighting:

"By hiring Michael Vick, the Eagles brought clear attention to a very awful thing that's done to animals," said Tom Hickey Sr., founder of the Pennsylvania advocacy group DogPAC. "But also by hiring him, they also said it's OK to do this kind of stuff."

George Bengal, the PSPCA's Director of Law Enforcement, said that "Philly's always been a Mecca of dogfighting, but after Vick it exploded. [...] He's an idol."  Bengal mentioned that he has arrested dogfighters as young as nine. 

The penalties are increasingly severe; which is a good thing for the dogs, but a bad thing for these young men. Some men make a living off of gambling on dog fights and if you are growing up in a rough neighborhood with the wrong crowd, it is easy to get involved.

For that reason, Shawn Banks, a former drug dealer and dog fighter, who used to bet thousands of dollars a week on dog fights, has joined up with the Human Society to work with inner-city youths to stop dog fighting in Philly. The End-Dogfighting Campaign actually helps kids train their dogs in a postive way. Human Society President and CEO, Wayne Pacelle said, "Rather than just say, 'Don't fight dogs,' we say, 'Love your animal. Train your animal.' And we will provide a setting to give them a new experience with their pit bulls." He continued to say it causes them to have real pride in themselves and their animals, and the program has actually been successful in Chicago and Atlanta.

Read more:
Watch sports videos you won't find anywhere else

Also, If you want to be aware of dog-fighting convictions in your area, you can do so here:

Lobby for Change

If you are a resident of NYC or concerned about the shelters here, please consider sending your thoughts to the City Council members who may just hear us, if they receive enough emails.

This summary of Tuesday's ACC Board Meeting was helpful to me in understanding where the ACC thinks it is succeeding, but is really failing. (For example, intake and euthanasias have gone down, but that is actually because the ACC stopped picking up stray cats.)

This is what I sent today, please feel free to copy the email list below to send your own message:

Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2011 10:27:47 -0500
Subject: Shame on NYC ACC

I rescued our dog on the day he was to be put to sleep FOR A COUGH and he only needed antibiotics and a week to recover out of the filthy shelter environment. We are writing to today, to plead for your assistance. NYC is killing it's homeless animals for reasons such as merely having a cough. Is this the example we want to set? We need to be a model for the rest of America, not an embarrassment. The NYC ACC is in shambles. The budget has been slashed to levels that are unheard of. We need reform yet every elected official is turning a blind eye. We want to see change come for the animals in NYC, no.... WE DEMAND IT! Other cities have already gone No Kill. Why is NYC not able to do the same? These animals deserve more and we hope that you will take a stand for those that have no voice. They need you now. Will you help them?
In addition, New York City has to recognize its problem with Pit Bulls- back yard 'for-profit' breeders need to be stopped- either trough mandatory breeding licences or fines for refusing to spay or neuter pit bulls. These animals are coming into the world only to live 6 months to a year, provide profit for the 'breeder' and overwhelm the shelter system with unwanted dogs. The real enemy here is the back yard breeders that are making money off of innocent lives and the New York city taxpayers that pay to support the shelters that they fill with unwanted dogs. Please help legislate to stop this or at least educate people about the problem.
Thank you,
Resident, Battery Park City, Manhattan

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why are we killing babies?

UPDATE- Simon and Champ were put to sleep today at the Brooklyn ACC, poor babies.

The ACC has taken to killing babies- How young is too young?
Well, as you probably know by now, 1 year olds are regularly put down, which translates to putting down a 7 year old human child.
Today the ACC plans to put down 19 pit bulls, 17 of them under the age of 2 (all younger than teenagers in human years).
Four of the dogs are under a year old- I'll include their age in dog years and human years below- I think this helps put into perspective how little life these dogs have been given a chance to live and how much more they still need to develop to reach their full potential.

 10 month old Simon (almost 6 in human years) -RIP
 9 month old Dutch (5 years old in human years)
 7 month old Champ (4 years old in human years) - RIP
6 month old Gunther (only 3 1/2 years old in human years)

Why is this happening? Well its certainly not ACC's fault that so many young pit bulls come through their shelter, its irresponsible backyard breeders and owners who refuse to spay and neuter their dogs. There are great spay and neuter organizations, but the price of a pit bull puppy in the inner city is still way higher than the price of a 6 month old. As you can see, a puppy on the internet can go for anything from $200 to $2,000, while a 6 month old at ACC will go for $0-$20 to anyone willing to take it.

Part of any responsible rescue campaign has to get at the root of this issue to lessen the number of unwanted animals; does anyone have any ideas on how we can stop backyard breeding?

This article suggests petitioning the government to control breeders and require liscences. When you think of it, it doesn't make any sense that we make barbars have liscences to cut our hair, but don't require people to have liscences to protect animals. When you think about it, it would be much cheaper from the governments perspective-- people would have to pay for liscences and Animal Control would be less expensive.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How does your state compare?

The Animal Legal Defense Fund published a study that ranked states based on their Animal Cruelty Laws.
I am dissapointed to see that my home state of New Jersey ranked #47.
The worst states are in the Bottom Tier because they lack basic anti-cruelty laws and mandates such as Mandatory forfeiture of animals upon conviction of cruelty, and refusing to classify cruelty, neglect, abandonment or sexual assasult of animals as felonies (among other things).
How does your home state stack up? Does this chart seem to make sense based on your experiences?

Read the full report here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Upcoming Lecture

If you are in New York City and interested in Pit Bulls, I suggest attending this lecture which I heard about through the excellent Animal Farm Foundation website.

JANUARY 26, 2011
Fordham University School of Law
Join the National Canine Research Council for their presentation, The Pit Bull Placebo: Media, Myth and Politics of Canine Aggression at Fordham University.
Fordham University School of Law
140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023

Monday, January 10, 2011

Yellow Dog Certified

This past weekend I became certified to walk "yellow dogs" at Animal Haven Shelter in Soho, NY. I learned a lot about the shelter in the process.

Dogs at Animal Haven are labeled "Green" when any volunteer can walk them- meaning they are small,  or easy to walk. They haven't (YET) developed any bad habits that would make walking them difficult.

Yellow dogs have some issues- sometimes they are just larger than the average dog, but often they are hard to control and volunteers have difficulty getting their harnesses on or controlling them around other dogs or people.

I have a lot of experience controlling Bruno on walks. Winnie is very easy to walk- she stays by your side unless she sees a fun child or person or dog she can go wiggle up to. Bruno on the other hand, I have to watch constantly. Case in point- today he was walking so well on his new Gentle-Leader (a small head harness I got from Animal Haven after I saw how great it worked on Cha Cha), and was on a short leash, when all of a sudden he jumped up at the lady walking behind me! She was not pleased.

Anyway, I have a lot of experience, but I learned a lot more about how professional trainers want things done and how vital it is, not just to make it easier on you or the people on the street-- but for the good of the dog.

Apparently, as Katrina (Animal Haven's Intake manager and Trainer) said, being in the shelter actually causes dogs to "degenerate," meaning they lose skills they had and begin to learn bad habits. The Yellow-dog training is most important because it gives the dogs consistent reactions to bad behaviors no matter which of the many volunteers is walking them.

Katrina and Animal Haven only use positive reinforcement and never punish the dogs for bad behavior. She explained that jumping, biting and barking is all done to get human contact and attention. Even negative attention is a good thing to medium-to-large adolescent dogs with limited exercise. So apparently, Georgie-Girl, a large rambunctious lab-mix at the shelter, will even get egg-ed on if you turn the other way when she jumps on you, and she enjoys turning you back and forth while you are trying to get her leash on!

Basically, ignoring dogs can go a long way, because they realize very quickly that their behavior gets not results. We have always tried this on Bruno and Winnie, but apparently verbal ques should even be shunned. Dogs, don't pick up on verbal ques very well and shouting "No!" can feed into their desire to get you to play.

After my yellow training and before my yellow-evaluation (walking a dog around the block with Katrina watching), volunteers gathered to see Cha Cha, a wonderful Pittie/Shepherd mix, show off her training. Cha Cha has been at the shelter since we got Winnie six months ago (I remember them bringing her out to us) - This had been right after Cha Cha had given birth to her puppies, who have all since been adopted. But Cha Cha- for no fault of her own, has not been adopted yet. Since many dogs lose skills and gain bad behaviors in a prolonged stay in a shelter- Animal Haven has worked really hard with her to keep her socialized and well-mannered. We were all so impressed with her and I (and everyone else at AH) want to help her find a home as soon as possible.

I also learned that Animal Haven as a shelter is dedicated to temperament testing-- Basically any animal that comes through the shelter must be well-behaved and show no agression to humans. This leaves quite a few dogs at AC&C out of the running, but as my boyfriend put it-- you have to go after the low-hanging fruit first. I completely agree. Katrina said, as long as she does her job right and the dogs are testing as they truly are- they will have no "Red Dogs" (dogs that can only be walked by staff).

I think I'd like to have a pittie rescue where only friendly dogs are rescued too- at least at first, because unless you have excellent trainers and adequate resources, you can't commit to rehabiliating a dog that may be genetically aggressive. Best Friends in Utah is wonderful because they commit themselves to a dog for life, whether or not it is adoptable, but I think I'd like to save all the sweet dogs I can before I commit myself to rehabilitations. Animal Haven likes to get the dogs out of the shelter as soon as they can to keep them healthy and well-socialized, and the longer a dog stays there because they are aggressive- the worse they will get. I found this all very valueable information. Hopefully I'll get to learn much more as I continue volunteering.

THIS is the face of the ACC

UPDATE- Roxy is being pulled by a Rescue group and placed with a foster parent. Hopefully with a couple weeks of antibiotics and a warm bed she will get all better (just like Bruno did).

This is what a stay at Animal Care and Control will do to a dog.

This is a photo of Roxy, happy and alert.

Roxy has been at the shelter only 11 days and has caught a severe case of Kennel Cough.

She is about to be put to sleep today because of her illness, which she caught in the shelter.
In addition, the strain of KC in ACC is extremely virulent and has reduced poor Roxy, who 11 days ago was home with her family who had to give her up due to expenses, to a scared sick animal who is going to die alone.

This is a video taken by a volunteer, you can see how sick and lonely Roxy has become in the shelter environment.

Please someone save her, nurse her back to health and give her the future she deserves.
Roxy's URGENT Page.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Send Obama a Message

Thanks to T-2's comment, I found out that there is an effort to send as many of Jim Gorant's Book The Lost Dogs to the White House. See the original blog post from Bad Rap here.

I am going to send a copy with a photo of Bruno and Winnie on the inside cover. Hopefully he will see that the damage dog-fighting does is not something that can be so easily forgiven.

Here is their address:
Mr. President and First Lady Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

If you can buy from this Amazon link, some of the money goes to help Bad Rap.
I can't wait to hear what the White House is going to do with all these books!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pit Bull photo Contest!

Last month I submitted a batch of photos of Bruno and Winnie to a pit bull photo contest to raise money for  PittieLove Rescue in Massachusetts. Turns out one of our photos won 2nd Place!

Original Photo Contest Info and Prizes!

Our Photo on the Homepage of The Pit & the Pug

First Place
Second Place (Ours!)

Third Place

Monday, January 3, 2011

A special plea for Missy

UPDATE: Missy is safe- she has been saved by a rescue and will hopefully find a good home in time.

This special dog really touched my heart and after all she's gone through in her life, I would hate to see her live out her few remaining days lonely in her cage, only to die cold and alone at the shelter. What really got to me was that Missy had clearly been so neglected that, as the volunteer decries below, she had simply given up.
If her story touches you too, you can adopt her through a rescue group, and you can find such a rescue group by leaving a comment on her facebook page: (Urgent Part 2: Missy)

Here is Missy's description from Animal Care and Control:

Reason STRAY
Intake condition NONE Intake Date 12/20/2010, From NY 10458, DueOut Date 12/30/2010,

Medical Behavior Evaluation MILD

A VOLUNTEER WROTE: 13 month old Missy is a very special dog looking for a very special adopter. This person should be looking for a family member, as Missy is extremely loving and devoted to the people who show her kindness, but they should also realize that the best kind of love is the love that heals--the kind of love that tells a helpless animal "it's okay. You are home now". Missy is barely out of puppyhood, but she has already seen too much suffering. She was found in the Bronx-- filthy, distended nipples, with dried blood on her coat. She sits in her cage with her back to you most days, as if she has already given up on trying to compete with the other dogs. She looks exhausted, even sleeping. When I opened up her cage and offered her the leash, she turned to look up at me, questioning. "Do you mean me?" her eyes asked, and I used every cell in my heart to send her assurance that I did. Out on the walk, she brought tears to my eyes because she was so happy, so content, and walked a pony trot with her mouth wide open in a smile , and when we came back she was so different, so alive and so grateful, licking my fingers and wagging her tail. Since that night, I've thought a lot about how little dogs like Missy need to be happy, and how absurd and unfair it is that an animal this wonderful could be denied such a small patch of security and love in a world so big and abundant. Can it really be that no one wants this shining soul? Missy was originally placed on an observational hold, but can be released to a rescue now---a somewhat noteworthy triumph, because it means someone thought she was worth a second chance. I hope you agree. Please save Missy today! A bath, a warm bed, and some time will yield a fantastic animal who worships the ground you walk on.

See her Video here.

Medical Summary
Weight 42.0

Are you kidding me Obama?

Its been a busy few weeks withthe holidays and work (us underlings have to work through the holidays while the offices are next to empty!) But one thing occurred that couldn't go without mentioning.

Obama made a comment while on a phone call to Eagles owner, Jeffery Lurie, praising him for giving a convict (Vick) a second chance.

For a full description, read the ABC news story here.

Now, I am all for second chances for criminals. In fact, I even wrote my senior thesis in Economics on the effects and causes of imprisonment of young black males. (A full copy of my senior thesis has been published and can be found here. Recently, the US has really stepped up the incarceration rate and that rate is at its highest for young, uneducated black males. Statistics show that this has had damaging affects on children. Those who have been to prison certainly have a hard time finding work, making them more likely to return, and I fully support any program that helps to rehabilitate criminals that come from poverty and keep them out of jail and in work. In this respect, I support Obama's message.

However, that being said, Michael Vick is by no means your average down-on-his-luck criminal. Most people end up in jail, I believe, because they did something they felt they had to do either to survive or to fit in in their communities (ie- gang or drug activity). Vick is a sadistic man who fought breathing living animals for sport and slammed them against concrete when they wouldn't perform. He did so happily, he was not forced to do anything he did.

Vick would like to have you think they he simply "operated" the ring and is sorry for what he "allowed to happen to the dogs," while first hand accounts from Jim Gorrant's book "The Lost Dogs" confirm that Vick murdered dogs himself. He is a ruthless killer.

This man now thinks having a dog would be therapeutic for him. As an outraged commenter posted on a blog that I follow, "This man does not have the right to own a HOUSE PLANT."

The fact that he feels he can say a thing like that tells me the support from his fans (AND of the president of the US) has gone to his head.

Apparently he feels (as does Obama) that 19 months in jail was "sufficient time" to learn his lesson and pay his debt to society. I say bull s*it. Not only have I boycotted the Eagles, but I want to boycott the entire NFL for allowing criminals to become celebrities. Vick is not a common criminal who deserves a job at the local grocery store to pick himself up out of poverty. He is a man who has been given everything in life because of his athletic skills, including scholarship to college and millions of dollars a year. He has no excuse for his crimes and has not done nearly enough time for me to consider him "repentant." I would start with at least a year in jail for every single skeleton they found laying in the dirt in his backyard.

It is my belief that the praise he is getting is damaging because it is teaching children that as long as you 'do your time' you can have everything you ever wanted, and regain the life you had before you committed a crime. Essentially, Vick got away with this. His celebrity has embolden him to say he wants a dog- something Pit owners everywhere should never ever allow.

So basically, all I have to say to Obama is- Are you kidding me?
I'd like him to read Gorant's book about this criminal and his dogs, and issue an official appology.
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