What has become one of my favorite events of the year was held this past weekend – the annual Minnesota Sheltie Rescue Reunion. What a day!
Adopted Shelties came from far and wide to spend their Saturday afternoon with us (one group even came down from Fargo, ND!). It was so wonderful to see so many of the Shelties that have been adopted this past year, and in years past. I loved seeing some of the same people I had first met in the adoption process now with their new dogs and looking so happy.
The attendance was amazing this year. Probably one of the largest attendance crowds ever!
The day was chock full of things to do, including Sheltie games where dogs and owners could compete for prizes in the shell game, peanut butter lick off contest, pooch a smooth, egg walk and agility activities. Attendees could also get their professional pictures done, Ask the Trainer a training question, get a massage for their doggie and Speak with an Animal Communicator. There was an auction with some pretty awesome items up for bidding (I nabbed the cutest Sheltie flag on a pole that can be stuck in my garden.) and people could purchase fun games for their pups from Dog Prodigy and homemade jerky treats from Four Paws Gourmet or find out more about Top Dog Country Club, our sponsor for the event.
But the highlight of the day was the Sheltie Parade. So many Shelties took the walk with their new families. It was great to see them so happy. I saw a lot of pride and joy on Saturday as Shelties pranced alongside their owners.
I thought I would share just a few highlights of the day with you. I have to give full credit to my friend Cindy Dahl Smith for the majority of these pictures. I forgot my camera and all I had was my iPhone (all the fuzzy pictures are mine). Thanks Cindy!
The first time I saw Jasper, it was here…
He was in impound with his sister, waiting to be examined by one of our vet techs before being fostered or put up for adoption. I fell in love with his handsome little face right then (I also fell in love with his sister). I practically begged to foster them…just for a little while. But I should have known then, he wouldn’t be leaving. He was home the moment he walked through my door.
The first time I saw Daisy, she was cowering in a kennel much like the one Jasper was in. She was terrified as hell and my heart broke when I saw how she cowered and flinched when people came near her. I knew then that I would foster her. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I worried someone inexperienced would adopt her and place her in a situation where she could be further damaged.
But it wasn’t until two weeks later, when I picked her up after being spayed, that I knew that she was mine. Her vulnerability drew me in and captured my heart. She needed me. She needed someone who understood her. There was no way I would give her up to someone who didn’t understand her needs for space, time and patience. She was home.
Cupcake was different. She had already been living in a foster home and was more than likely going to be adopted soon. Besides, I had already had a talk with myself about how I would not be falling in love with her. Two dogs was more than enough thank you. I couldn’t possibly take on another. I was sure she would be moving on to her forever home soon and then I would foster yet another dog in need of help.
But then, one fateful night, she went missing, and I was distraught. I was a complete wreck. I imagined all sorts of awful things happening to her. I worried she would be killed by a coyote or would starve to death or be hit by a car. It wasn’t until she was found and finally started to recognize me again that I started to have an inkling that she would be staying. At that very moment when she recognized me and sighed and leaned into me, I knew. There was no way Cupcake would be leaving my home to go to another. She already was home. She had been all along. I think she knew before I did.
I suspect that most everyone has had that moment, the one where you just KNOW that this dog is “the one.” With each of my dogs it was different. Jasper was love at first sight (he had me at “Hello”). With Daisy it was much more gradual. It started as a strong sense of responsibility towards a dog in need and slowly grew into something much, much more. With Cupcake, it took a traumatic event to make me realize how much I loved her. Like I said, I think she knew she was home before I did.
So what was your moment? When did you KNOW that your dog was “the one?” Was it love at first sight? Or, did it take time to bond? I would love to hear your story.
Recently, a friend shared a website with me that left both of us pretty disturbed. As animal welfare advocates we often see and hear things that can be pretty disturbing – puppy mills, animal abuse, animal neglect, etc. but this was one that seemed pretty wrong, at least on the surface.
It left us asking a lot of questions, including:
- How can a rescue or shelter claim to be saving dogs when it is breeding dogs and selling their puppies?
- How does a rescue or shelter legitimize the fact that they are selling dogs when there are so many dogs already in sitting in shelters needing to be rescued?
- If a rescue or shelter breeds dogs and sells their puppies, can they really be a rescue or shelter?
- Can a breeder claim to be a rescue or shelter, but really just be a front for selling dogs?
- How can a rescue or shelter breed a 7-year-old dog and still be considered a shelter or rescue?
- How can a state allow a breeder to be registered as a no-kill shelter too? Isn’t that some sort of state law loophole?
I can’t help but think something is wrong here. It doesn’t pass the smell test. But, I thought I would let you, the reader, weigh in and share what you think. Below are some screen shots of the website in question. I would love your thoughts on this.
What do you think? Is this a puppy mill or a shelter? Or is it a breeder masquerading as a shelter?
Their Mission Statement begins with…
These are the quality that Have a Heart dog homes has to improve and care for the homeless and unwanted of the No-Kill shelter that they live on.
The breeding and puppies that come from these AKC dogs pay to build buildings, pay large electric bills and fence the 10 acres that is needed for all that are here.
They also say “This shelter has no choice but to breed some to support the many that never leave.”
Their puppies are sold on Puppyfind.com and Next Day Pets (Next Day Pets is a well-known website for selling puppies. Many puppy millers use this site to sell their puppies.)
There were only 3 dogs listed on their Adopt a Dog page. Here are two of them.
The majority of the website was focused on the breeder dogs and their puppies, including 7-year-old Angelique (who just had her last litter) and Cabella (no age given).
Clicking on the Breeders tab provides you with some additional information:
We will have more Goldendoodles and Golden Retriever puppies
in the spring.
Please call or email to reserve.
Also puppies seen on Puppyfind.com and Next daypets.com
AKC bred Standard Poodle puppies ready now.
Although the site had a spot for you to Adopt a Cat, it appears there were no cats available – yet.
Their Happy Adoptions page features quite a few customer comments, but it appears many of the “adoptions” are puppies from the breeder dogs. In fact, I couldn’t find one picture of an adopted dog that wasn’t a Golden Retriever, Goldendoodle or Poodle – all puppies and all the same breed or breeds as the breeder dogs.
According to their About Us page they “are now licensed per state laws as a No-Kill with breeders through the DATCP.” which is the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Is it possible that they would provide a breeder with a shelter license? It seems so. Their last inspection was just this past month.
Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time of year. It’s a time to pause and reflect. A time to feel gratitude for all that we have in our lives. For some, it might not be much, but for all of us there is at least one thing we can all be grateful for in our lives, whether it be a our children, our pets, our friends and family.
I am thankful for quite a lot this year. I have a job, a house, three lovely dogs (safely at home and not wandering throughout Eagan), a wonderful family and some really awesome friends.
I am also feeling grateful for all of you, my new friends, who have added so much to my life. You laugh with me, cry with me, question me, challenge me and support me. You also share your very own personal stories – many of which have moved me to tears. When I started this blog it was to share information with my pet sitting and dog walking clients. I never expected it to become a place to make friends. To have such wonderful people like you reading my words (as good or bad as they may be some days) is something I never expected. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, but above all for sharing your very own stories. I love reading them.
As I was thinking about what I wanted to say this Thanksgiving Day, I realized that there were two groups of people I wanted to say THANKS to this year.
To the volunteers and staff with Minnesota Sheltie Rescue I say thank you for all you do. Thank you Karen, Estelle, Susan, Mary, Heather, Cindy, Francine, Pat, Kathy, Judy, all the foster parents and volunteers I may have missed. Most people don’t realize all that is involved in saving dog’s lives, but I do – transporting, vetting, fostering, conducting home visits, calling potential adopters, answering inquiries from people wanting to surrender their dogs, helping people with lost Shelties, – you do all of this and more. Thank you! (A special thank you to Estelle and Susan who spent their Thanksgiving last year helping me find Cupcake. I hope you actually get to enjoy your holiday this year!)
To the volunteers and staff at Animal Folks MN,thank you for your continued work and dedication to bringing attention to the puppy mill situation in our state. Nancy and Ann – you have worked tirelessly to bring about change in Minnesota. We may not have the most puppy mills in this state, but we do have some of the largest facilities in the country. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your hard work and dedication in leading the charge to change how breeding dogs and cats are treated in this state. Daisy thanks you too!
May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. May the blessings be great and the connections deep.
For 161 Malamutes in Montana it took a while for that tide to turn, but turn it did.
On October 18, 2012, the owner of the dog breeding facility (i.e., puppy mill) in which these dogs were kept, Mike Chilinski, was convicted of 91 counts of animal cruelty.
According to Jefferson County district attorney Mathew Johnson said the dogs were “were in serious poor health from lack of adequate nutrition”. Four veterinarians testified during the trial and said most of the dogs were severely underweight, and had scars and parasites.
I can’t help but be happy on behalf of the dogs that suffered and/or died under his care. Here in Minnesota, we are lucky to get an animal cruelty conviction for dogs suffering under similar conditions. Let’s face it the laws suck here.
That’s right. I’m not mincing my words today.
A many of you know, it is my never-ending plea that people stop buying puppies from pet stores or over the internet. I have shared the following information over the past few years, but it bears sharing again.
USDA-licensed does NOT mean they are not a puppy mill.
Mike Chilinski does not appear to have been a USDA-licensed breeder, but that is not too surprising these days. Most puppy millers are choosing to forgo the USDA license to avoid inspections. Without the USDA license they cannot sell to pet stores, but they CAN sell over the internet as Mr. Chilinski did.
“This case should open people’s eyes to the fact that even people who advertise alleged ‘show-quality’ dogs may actually be operating puppy mills,” she said. “It’s easy to hide the truth behind a professional-looking website that seems to say all the right things.” (Gina Wiest, executive director of the Lewis and Clark Humane Society)
Having a dog with an AKC certification means nothing. Puppy mill dogs can also be AKC certified.
“Being a breeder that often breeds over seven litters a year puts me automatically on a list for AKC inspections,” he said under oath. “Having had two recent inspections by AKC representative Gene Brennan, I felt confident I was obeying all laws and the stricter AKC rules. The police were aware of the fact the AKC had inspected me because I often would remind them that the expert from AKC had found no health or care issues.” (testimony of Mike Chilinski)
Responsible dog breeders do not sell their dogs to pet stores or over the internet
“I have shipped dogs for 30 years and have never had an incident. I have dogs in Australia and on every continent.”(testimony of Mike Chilinski)
Puppy mills are cruel and horrible places where dogs are kept in deplorable conditions because it’s not about the dogs, it’s about the money.
Bill and Carole Peterson of Nye, provided a deputy with photos of what they suspected of being a puppy mill. The couple went to the residence in mid-September to purchase a Malamute puppy and say they were horrified by the conditions of the dogs, which were living in kennels full of feces with little to no water. (Puppy mill and illegal pot operation busted in Jefferson City, Independent Record, 10/14/2011)
I found it a bit ironic that Mr. Chilinski was convicted without the USDA Proposed Rule Change being in place since he was opposed to it. You can see his name signed here (petitioner #2509):
His comment on the petition?
I’m guessing he still feels his 3rd amendment rights were violated, but it didn’t take the USDA to convict him, just his own cruelty caught on film. One more puppy mill closed down.
Don’t shop, Adopt.
Don’t buy over the internet, Adopt.
An update on the Malamutes rescued last October:
The dogs are now being transitioned to the care of Malamute rescue groups around the country who have offered help in placing the dogs in permanent homes. Lewis and Clark Humane Society says that the finalization of the adoption process will have to wait until after sentencing, in about two to three weeks.
Potential adopters can email the American Malamute Assistance League (AMAL) at firstname.lastname@example.org to get on a list to adopt one of the malamutes.
Back in May, I shared a study released by Banfield on the state of our pets’ health. It was quite an eye-opener when it came to pet health trends (pet obesity being the most concerning of all). But there is another study I found just as interesting and even more concerning from the perspective of animal welfare. I read it a year ago, but for some reason forgot to share it. It’s still worth sharing now.
Among the objectives of the study were:
- Measure awareness of pet adoption and spay/neuter problems in the U.S.
- Gauge whether perceptions of and attitudes toward pet adoption and spay/neutering problems differ by geographic region in the U.S.
- Identify the drivers for using pet adoption and spay/neuter services
- Determine the barriers to pet adoption and spay/neuter services
What I found the most surprising (and yes, shocking) was the lack of knowledge and understanding people (especially people in the 18-34 year old category) have about the pet overpopulation problem, and how much it is impacted by choosing to spay or neuter a pet. Granted, this study was done in 2009, so maybe attitudes have changed since then, but I suspect they haven’t changed all that much.. Social media certainly has helped to educate people on the pet overpopulation problem, but there is clearly so much more work to be done.
I encourage you to read the full report yourself, but here are just some of the statistics I found interesting:
- 62% of 18-34 year olds and 47% of people over 55 thought the number of pets euthanized each year was under 1 million. (Estimates place euthanization rates somewhere between 4-5 million a year.)
Acquiring a pet
- Between 10 and 20 percent of dog/cat owners have had a litter (53% of dog owners and 54% of cat owners said it “was an accident.”)
- The largest percentage of people got their pet from a family member (25%) or an adoption organization or animal shelter (24%).
- For those that acquired their pet from a breeder/local pet store, the primary driver was they wanted a specific breed/purebred.
Spaying/Neutering a Pet
- More than 1 in 3 recently acquired dog/cat owners have not spayed or neutered their pet. (Younger adults and those living in the South were least likely to have their pet spayed/neutered.)
- Many owners are confused about “when” to spay or neuter their pet, with men having the most misconceptions about when is a good time to spay or neuter.
- Among the top reasons given for not spaying or neutering a pet were – young age of the pet, cost and time, “Haven’t gotten around to it”and “Did not feel it was necessary…”
- Those who chose not to adopt listed these top 5 reasons – did not have the type dog or cat they were looking for (17%), wanted a purebreed (13%), don’t know what you’ll get with shelter animal (12%), don’t know much about pet adoption (10%) and adoption process is too difficult (10%).
- “Saving an animal’s life” is the key motivation for pet adoption.
I’m a little tired tonight, but for a very good reason. I spent the majority of my Sunday picking up and transporting a beautiful Sheltie-mix from Minneapolis to Hinckley, Minnesota. Her name is Norah.
Norah came from a shelter in eastern Ohio where she was listed as a stray. She was facing certain death until a friend made the plea to save her life. I posted her picture on Facebook as did my friend, from there the effort took on a life of its own.
It’s amazing how everything came together to bring Norah and several other dogs to Minnesota. It never would have happened if not for The Way Home Alliance volunteers who did the pulling, vetting, and arranging to get her and other dogs out of the shelter, the numerous volunteers who offered to transport and house them along the way, Midwest Animal Rescue who helped arrange part of Norah’s journey, and Last Hope Collies who offered to help her find a new home. You know, it really does take a village to save a dog.
Despite the long journey (12 legs), Norah managed to be sweet, loveable and affectionate. She even rolled over several times so she could get a belly rub!(My personal thanks to Dawn, Lady’s former foster mom, who helped me so much during the transfer!)
Even though this was my first time, I would consider doing it again. It was a rewarding experience. My thanks to Gail and Estelle, who got the ball rolling, and to Ellen, who gave Norah a safe place to land.
Whoever gets this beautiful girl will be very lucky. She is a wonderful little dog.
Can’t foster a rescue dog? How about offering to transport one to a new home?
Yesterday I took the dogs to the dog park for a long walk. It’s been the first day that it’s been cool enough to take them for any length of time. As we were walking, we ran into a woman we ad seen a few times before and we stopped to chat. Towards the end of the conversation, she said “You foster all these dogs right?” I laughed. “No.” I said, “but they were all fosters at one time.” We chuckled for a second and then she said, “I could never foster.”
I couldn’t help but feel sad. I hear that one a lot along with:
- I could never foster because I would fall in love and keep the dog.
- I could never foster it would be too much work.
- I could never foster and then give them up.
I used to hear similar things from friends and acquaintances when I used to volunteer at an animal shelter:
- I could never do that because I would be sad.
- I could never do that because it would break my heart.
- I could never do that because it would be too hard to leave them there.
Maybe it’s true. I’m sure not everyone can foster, nor can everyone can volunteer at an animal shelter. But, these aren’t the only things that rescues and animal shelters do.
Are you good at organizing events? Help a rescue or shelter to plan their annual fundraiser or volunteer recognition event.
Are you good with talking to people? Offer to make calls to newly adopted pet parents to follow up on progress or offer to go to pet adoption events and share more about your shelter or rescue with people.
Great at writing? Rescues and shelters need help rewriting their informational brochures and packets all of the time. They could use your help.
Great at taking pictures? Offer to take pictures of their available dogs and cats. We now know that good pictures, pictures that show a dog or cat’s personality, makes all the difference in how quickly they get adopted.
Can’t commit too much time? Offer to donate supplies or money. If there is one thing both of these organizations need it’s money. I know it’s not sexy or quite as personally rewarding as “doing” something, but it is the one thing you CAN do that will absolutely make a difference in the life of one dog or one cat. Rescues often pull these animals from kill-shelters. By donating money, you are enabling them to save one more dog or one more cat.
Maybe you are considering fostering and just can’t quite get up the nerve to try. Ask a rescue if you can speak with some of their foster parents about what they do and some of the things to expect. Ask a friend who fosters. Look up one of the many online blogs that shares their fostering experiences.
Fostering can be so very rewarding. Without foster homes, rescue pets would have no chance.
To those of you who have already fostered or continue to foster – Thank you. You are truly the unsung heroes of animal rescue.
You are the ones who say I CAN.
Do you remember Daniel’s story?
Daniel was the dog who went into a gas chamber in Alabama and was still standing with his tail wagging when they opened the door. Because he survived the gas chamber he was given a chance at life. He was transported by Pilots N Paws to a rescue in New Jersey.
What a long way he has come since that story first hit the internet. Daniel now has a new family in New Jersey and several sisters and brothers to play with. He is also working to end the use of gas chambers to kill animals in the United States.
Who could have ever guessed that his survival would lead to such a wonderful ending? Or that it would motivate his owner, and others, to take action?
Daniel’s story made me realize how much my own dogs have changed my life.
When I chose to adopt Daisy, my Lab, I did it to protect her. I didn’t want her to go to a home or family that might not understand her special needs. Even with my limited skills and knowledge, I knew I could provide her with a better home than someone who had never had a dog before or who had never had a shy and fearful dog.
Never once did I think adopting Daisy would lead me to get educated about puppy mills or to share that knowledge with others. I never expected sharing Daisy’s story might help others with puppy mill dogs. She has changed my life and what is important to me. She motivated me to get involved.
Knowing Jasper came from similar circumstances only made me more motivated to learn more about the connection between the pet stores who sell puppies and the puppy mills that provide them. (Yes. 99% of all pet store puppies really do come from puppy mills.)
Lady changed my life too. Losing her for 12 days not only taught the importance of giving back and helping others (because lord knows I received an amazing amount off help and support while she was missing), but it also motivated me to want to share what I learned with others. Without Lady, I never would have gotten involved in helping people find their lost pets or sharing their missing pets’ pictures and stories with others.
I don’t know if you have had the same experience, but having Daisy, Jasper and Lady in my life has changed me. They have given me causes to rally around. They have motivated me to get involved in ways I never expected.
So I was wondering… How has your pet changed or motivated you? What have you done or gotten involved in as a result of your pet? I’d love to hear your story.