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Where does a rescue or shelter’s responsibility end when it comes to a dog?

January 10, 2016 20 comments

Jack Russell Terrier SnarlingWhen you work in rescue, you encounter a wide variety of situations that you not only can’t anticipate, but for which you also don’t have an easy solution. Things are rarely in black and white. Answers aren’t always easy, and many times you second guess yourself.

There is no question that rescues are there to save every animal they can. No one wants to be the one to make the decision to euthanize an animal. When an animal is in pain and suffering, the answer is a little easier because you know that it will no longer need to suffer in pain. But when it involves behavior or genetics, it can be so much harder to know what to do.

I often struggle in this middle ground. I firmly believe that many animals are euthanized when they could have been saved. Proper training and dedication can help many a dog who is fearful or has fear aggression. But, I also believe that there are animals being saved who should not be. Many of these are animals are ones who but for the perfect owner, would be a danger to others, people or human. and dedicated and self-sacrificing that without said owner, they would be a danger to others, people or animal.

Perhaps my strong sense of what is right and wrong prevents me from seeing other possibilities and options, but in a world where mistakes can happen, where perfection is impossible, I just cannot see how saving a dog that is a potential danger to other dogs is the “best” decision.

Last year, I participated in a group discussion involving a dog who had killed an older resident dog in the foster home he was staying in. The foster mom had made an urgent plea for someone to please take the dog. Many in the group expressed their condolences. Many praised her for being able to see beyond her grief to want to save the dog despite him killing her dog. A few of us expressed our condolences and broached the topic of euthanasia. She was seriously considering it.

But then, the person who had originally rescued him was able to get the dog into a no-kill shelter just south of here and he was saved. That was a little over six months ago.

Since then, I’ve often wondered…

Was the shelter informed about the death he had caused? If the shelter was informed, did they plan on or did they tell prospective new owners about the danger (I am assuming they are legally required to do so)? And, if they have told prospective owners, and he was rejected on that basis, would he spend the rest of his life in a shelter?

I also wondered if he had been placed in a new home and if the new owner knew understood the risks involved if the dog were to get loose or live in a home with another dog. I wondered if his new owner was experienced with dogs with behavioral issues. I wondered if he or she was continuing to work a training and behavior modification plan with him, like his foster mom had been trying to do, and if the he had harmed another dog since being shipped across the border.

j0387553I hope he is in a home where he is the only dog, and that he is living with someone who knows how to work with him and will make sure he does not harm another dog again, but I will always wonder.

I fully support rescues and shelters transporting dogs to places where they can have a better chance at living in a real home. I also support trying our very best to help a dog who has behavioral issues rather than choosing euthanization first. So many dogs have been saved this way.

However, when it comes to dogs with serious behavioral issues (or a history where another animal in the home was killed) I wonder where a rescue or shelter’s due diligence and responsibility begin and end. Is it okay to pass on a dog who has serious issues as long as the receiving rescue or shelter is aware of it? Is it okay to simply hope that the receiving rescue or shelter will do the right thing and inform the new owner of the possible dangers? Is there a right and wrong decision when it comes to this dog? I don’t know. Maybe there isn’t, I just hope it wasn’t passing the buck.

What do you think? Where does a rescue or shelter’s responsibility end when it comes to a dog with serious behavioral issues?

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Lost dogs – Good photos are key

November 29, 2015 4 comments

Cupcake's Lost Dog Flyer #2Last week, I saw an image pop up on my Facebook page that sent me back four years. It was the image of a Lost Sheltie flyer, Cupcake’s Lost Sheltie flyer to be precise. It was from when she was missing in November 2011.

Cupcake was lost and found after 12 long days, and it was only because of many, many wonderful volunteers and a handy little thing called a flyer, that I got her back.

Cupcake’s lost dog flyer was placed everywhere – on grocery store walls and convenience store windows, in newspaper boxes and inside neighbor’s screen doors, on cars in a church and shopping store parking lots. Her image was seen by hundreds of people all over Eagan.

Foster Maggie

Taking a side view picture of your pet can give someone a better sense of her size, length and coloring.

I remember thinking how lucky I was to have taken so many photos of her. She may not have been my dog at the time (she was my foster dog), but I loved taking pictures of her, and that turned out to be a fortunate thing, because I was able to use so many of those pictures to make sure people knew it was her when they spotted her.

Seeing the flyer again made me realize that perhaps in all the educating being done on micro-chipping your pet, handing out flyers and getting the word out, we may have forgotten to mention that having a few good, current photos are essential too.

Too often, I see photos on the Lost Dogs Facebook pages that are too dark, out of focus, or don’t give viewers a full and complete image of their dog. These are the photos someone will use to (hopefully) identify their dog. A bad photo can make the difference between a dog that gets seen, and reported, and one that does not.

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A close up view of your pet’s face helps finders make a match based on facial features and coloring.

This is not to say that someone is a bad owner if they do not have a good photo of their dog (we all have bad photos of our pets), but it is a call for dog owners to start taking better photos of their pets “in case” they ever need to use it in a lost dog search.

I recognize that most people never expect their dog to go missing, but being prepared for the “what if” situation is easier than saying “if only I had…” So here are some tips on how to capture some great photos of your dog that you can use in a lost dog flyer, if you should ever need it:

  1. Take pictures of your dog in natural light or in a well-lit area. It not only gives people a better idea of what your dog looks like, but it can also show off any unusual features they may have, such as unusual colorations in their coat or face.
  2. Shoot pictures of your dog from all different angles – you want to get photos that show their front, back and sides, it gives people a better sense of their size, coloring, and length.
  3. Get a close up of your dog’s face – A close up shows searchers and shelters more of their facial features and makes it easier for them to make a positive identification.
  4. Take a selfie with your pet – Almost everyone has a cell phone on them these days. Why not take advantage of a moment when you are out with your dog to take a selfie? It will help people make a connection with you and your dog and it almost guarantees that you will have a more current photo with you, if you should ever need it in an emergency.
  5. Take an action shot of your pet – It will give a potential finder a better sense of how your dog stands or moves. This is especially helpful in the case of a sighting of your missing dog.

 

I hope you will never need to use one of these photos in a lost dog flyer, but if you ever do you will be much better prepared to provide one that will help searchers make a positive identification.

Note: If you find a lost dog, please do your best to take a really good photo that is in a well-lit area. It will help the owner find their dog so much more quickly.

Jasper prancing with his stick. #dogpark

An action shot of your dog can give searchers a sense of how your dog moves, making them easier to recognize while running.

 

Give to the Max Day is Thursday! Help dogs like puppy mill rescue, Maggie

November 10, 2015 6 comments

GTMD15LogoVerticalReverseThis Thursday, November 12, is Give to the Max Day! Are you ready?

MaggieNever heard of it?  The official description is below, but I can tell you that for Minnesota charities, this is the biggest day of the year. In this one event, charities can raise enough funds to keep them going for the next year. It means they can continue to help those in need, animals and humans alike, for a whole year.

About Give to the Max Day

Give to the Max Day was created in 2009 to launch GiveMN, a collaborative venture led by Minnesota Community Foundation and many other organizations committed to helping make our state a better place. That initial spark touched off a blast of online giving — $14 million in 24 hours. Since then, Give to the Max Day has become an annual tradition. Every year thousands of organizations and individuals generate donations and excitement for Minnesota causes that are working to improve the quality of life for all Minnesotans.

Give to the Max Day has become a national model for giving days.

Give to the Max is a competitive day of massive giving and fundraising. What makes it special is that ON THIS DAY ONLY charities have the chance to earn extra $$’s just by you giving.

  • Every hour a random drawing will give $1000 to a charity on each of the categories. This is called the Golden Ticket.
  • Two SUPER SIZE GOLDEN TICKETS of $10,000 will also be awarded to two charities.
  • In addition to that, top earning charities for each category will have the chance to win extra $$’s just by you keeping them in that top slot. Here is where Minnesota Sheltie Rescue hopes to be (small organization leader board):

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 The charity I am supporting is Minnesota Sheltie Rescue. If you haven’t been following me until recently, you should know that my dog Cupcake, and resident foster dog, Maggie, both came to me via Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR).
MNSR works so hard to help Shelties in need. When Maggie came to MNSR, she was in bad shape emotionally. She was terrified of everything – people, sounds, lights, and everything in a home. (Living in a puppy mill will do that to a dog.) Some organizations might have chosen to euthanize her immediately, thinking her unsalvageable, but not MNSR. They gave Maggie a chance. And as a result, she is now a great example of how time, commitment, patience and dedication can help puppy mill dogs like her.

Foster Maggie

Maggie has been with me nearly two years. It has taken her this long to start to come about and to become more like a real dog. MNSR never wavered in its commitment to her, or other dogs in need of longer foster care. They also haven’t balked at helping those Shelties who needed extra medical care, including dental care, surgeries, ongoing veterinary visits and treatments, and supplying the medicines that keep some Shelties alive and healthy. They help in lost Sheltie searches, promote other organizations who help pets (and people with pets) and educate dog owners on what to do to keep their pets. In other words, Minnesota Sheltie Rescue is more than just a rescue. It is an organization that helps dogs AND their community.
I hope you will help them to continue to help dogs like Maggie. I hope you will donate a few $$s to them this Thursday, so they can continue to help the community and the shelties in our community.
If you want to follow how MNSR does on Give to the Max Day, follow Minnesota Sheltie Rescue on Facebook.

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Wordless Wednesday #263 – Foster Maggie

October 27, 2015 6 comments

Foster Maggie

 

Favorite Video Friday – Life is better with you

October 9, 2015 8 comments

Yesterday, I got word that another pet sitting client and former MN Valley Humane Society dog (where I volunteered) had crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Zephyr was a sweet and precious thing who looked so very  vulnerable when she was at our shelter. I worried about her finding the right home, but fortunately, she had already captured another volunteer’s heart. She could not have landed with a better family. She had a great life and was very much loved. She was one of the lucky ones.

The number of dogs I know from our old shelter is getting smaller and smaller. So many of us lost when that place suddenly closed down. It was such a tight-knit community. Seeing so many of the dogs we adopted out now making that journey over the Bridge reminds us of the loss once again.

I have two MVHS dogs of my own, Daisy and Jasper, who will one day follow. This video and Zephyr’s death, is a reminder of how much they have made my life better. I cannot imagine my life without them.

Today’s video is a celebration of Zephyr’s life, and of the time I have had with Daisy and Jasper.

God speed sweet Zephyr.

Happy Friday everyone.

Puppy Rentals and Puppy Parties – The new puppy mill scam

September 21, 2015 14 comments

I don’t know if you have seen these headlines in your news feed lately, but if not, you are now on notice. Commercial breeders (a.k.a puppy millers) and the pet store industry (specifically, pet stores that sell animals) have found a new avenue in which to use and sell their wares (i.e., products, or in this case, puppies).

Yes. You are reading this right. Puppy parties.

For a fee, people can rent a whole litter of puppies for a birthday or bachelorette party.

Gee, what fun.

Puppy Wearing BowI suppose it really would be fun to play with a whole gaggle of puppies for a couple of hours. Who doesn’t love the smell of puppy breath? Unfortunately, what the “journalists” writing these stories, and promoting them on their television networks, failed to do was ask questions. They failed to ask where the party promoters and puppy rental operators were sourcing their puppies.  I suppose no one really wants to hear that something so novel and cute could have a shady backside, do they?

“We just want the feel good story ma’am.”

Fortunately, CAPs (Companion Animal Protection Society) asked the questions the journalists did not, and what they found, at least in one case, was deeply concerning:

What David Dietz, owner of PuppyParty.com and Puppy Paradise, is neglecting to tell the media and his clients who seek puppies for children’s birthday parties, bachelorettes parties and other events, is that Puppy Party puppies come from inhumane high-volume commercial breeding facilities known as puppy mills. These mills supply puppies to Dietz’ store, Puppy Paradise – the source of the Puppy Party puppies. If a party-goer happens to fall in love with a puppy, then he or she can purchase that puppy from the store.

Not only did CAPS discover that this puppy party rental business sourced from puppy mills, but that many (if not all) of the mills they sourced from had a history animal neglect and abuse. Just take a look at some of the puppy mills sourcing David Dietz’s pet store and puppy party business:

  • Gayle Duncan, of Gayle’s Country Pups in Oklahoma, was exposed by CAPS for having multiple serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations. One of her mill’s employees, Gayle’s brother-in-law Jeff, admitted to running over a dog with a four-wheeler on purpose because the dog had bit him after trying to escape the pen.
  • Kevin Street, one of the substandard and inhumane breeders who sold to Puppy Paradise, had a dog CAPS rescued that had signs of cattle prod burns and suffered from a painful growth that came from lying on an ongoing Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
  • Dwayne Hurliman, was found to have a thousand dogs and puppies (he claimed to have around 500) in dirty, crowded and collapsing cages when he was investigated by CAPs.
  • Maureen Butler, another horrible breeder, owner of PugPekinpoo-tzu in Missouri, kept her dogs in outside pens, exposed to extreme cold in the winter and hot sun in the summer. In one instance, she nonchalantly showed a CAPS investigator a puppy that had lost toes to frostbite, in what she described as a “cold day” in May.
  • Betty Mings, owner Bet-Ter Kennel in Missouri, exposed dogs to the harsh Midwest winters. CAPS investigators uncovered AWA violations and witnessed numerous cages with days of fecal accumulation. Mines said that her dogs have puppies every breeding cycle and added, “I got dogs nine to 10 years old, still have seven, eight puppies.”

I’m not sure when puppy parties became a “thing”, but I hope you’ll spread the word. Puppy mills and pet store owners are looking for new streams of revenue, and they’re counting on nobody asking them any questions.

If you come across someone looking to sell you a puppy party or is offering to rent you a puppy, ask some questions:
  • Where do you get your puppies from? (They will lie to you and say they only use reputable breeders. Ask them for actual names, locations and phone numbers.)
  • Can I speak with the breeder(s)? (They most likely will refuse this request, which should be a huge red flag, but if they do provide a number ask lots of questions of the breeder.
  • How old are the puppies you use? (Anything under 8 weeks should raise tons of red flags. Puppies should not leave their mother before 8 weeks and ideally, not before 9-10 weeks in age. A puppy that is shipped across state lines younger than 8 weeks is illegal.)
  • How long do you use the puppies in your puppy parties?
  • What happens to the puppies when they are no longer puppies? (They will most likely lie to you on this one, but my bet is many of them are sold at the puppy parties. Buying a puppy from one of these party promoters is supporting a puppy mill and the continued abuse of the mother and father. Don’t do it.)
  • How often are your puppies attending parties and how long are they exposed to a high-stress environment and forced to be handled? (This is something I would love to know. I suspect these puppies are getting overworked and stressed out frequently. A puppy that is not making money is a puppy that is of no use to these people.)

You can watch the full CAPS story here:

A Puppy Party from CAPS on Vimeo.

Wordless Wednesday #257 – Foster Maggie

September 15, 2015 12 comments

Maggie

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