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Are we rescuing? Or, are we passing the buck?

August 10, 2014 21 comments

Jack Russell Terrier SnarlingReading the latest news on Steve Marwell, owner of the Olympic Animal Sanctuary (OAS), made me realize once again how few of us have actually spent time asking how this all came to be in the first place.

How did a man who had never registered his charity with his state, and who collected donations but never made any of the required disclosures needed to maintain his good standing as a rescue or sanctuary, able to fool so many rescues and animal shelters into sending their unadoptable dogs to him?

How did no one know about all the dogs living in crates and kennels and in extreme conditions, with little to no food? How did this place pass as a sanctuary and continue to receive dogs for years?

The whole awful and disturbing story brought to mind a blog post I had read back in 2012. Written by Jessica Dolce, How I Failed as a Rescuer: Lessons from a Sanctuary, was a sad, but very insightful look into something that happens so often in rescue – we push it on down the line.

As Jessica wrote:

We all keep pushing down the chain. Individuals reach out to shelters, shelters plead with rescues to pull dogs, rescues can’t place all the dogs, so they board hard-to-place dogs in sanctuaries.

We’re all begging for someone else to give us the happy ending we so desperately want for the animals we love. If people deny us, we lash out that no one will help. If a shelter isn’t no-kill, we refuse to donate to them. We keep pushing and pushing until someone will take this painful, difficult situation off of our doorstep.

We all push until we find sanctuaries who say yes. (How I Failed as a Rescuer: Lessons from a Sanctuary by Jessica Dolce, Notes from a Dog Walker, July 21, 2012)

But the responsibility isn’t the person on down the line is it? No. The responsibility is ours, the rescuer’s, and we should be taking it more seriously.

I wonder… Are we asking the right questions when we decide to pass a dog off to someone else? When we choose to ship a dog off to a sanctuary to live out their lives, do we do our due diligence? Do we ask around for references? Do we go visit the facility ourselves? When we choose to save a dog that cannot be placed, are we really “saving” the dog? Or, are we just making ourselves feel better?

Sad Looking Chocolate LabRecently, I said NO to someone who wanted help in finding a home for an unwanted dog. The dog had an extensive bite history (with several owners) and was scheduled to be euthanized in three days. The person wanting to “save” the dog could not take the dog herself, but wanted desperately to find someone else who would. I could not help but be angry. She wasn’t willing to take in the dog in herself, but she wanted someone else to take on that risk? Really? It very much felt like she was passing it on down the line, leaving the dog for someone else to deal with it, all the while patting herself on the back for saving a poor dog.

I won’t lie. I recommended the dog be euthanized. With so many dogs out there in need, and so many of them without a bite history, why would we save this one dog? Why save this dog who has bitten several former owners in the past? 

Desperate to save the dog, the woman ended up taking the dog where? A sanctuary for difficult dogs.  God only knows if it is a “good one” or it it willbe one that we will one day see in the news, like OAS. I can only hope it is a good one and the dog is receiving great care, and hopefully, some retraining. I can’t help but wonder if the “rescuers” have bothered to check in to see how the dog is doing since they “saved” her? I would bet the answer is no, which is precisely the problem. Out of sight, out of mind.

What happened at OAS should never be allowed to happen again. And yet, I know it will.

As rescuers, we need to get better at doing our due diligence. We need to visit the places we send our unadoptable dogs. We need to inspect, ask for references, ask questions (lots of them) and follow-up regularly. But most importantly, we need to stop passing dogs (who cannot be re-homed or who are unsafe in a normal home) down the line.

We need to be honest and ask ourselves if euthanization wouldn’t be a better solution in these types of situations rather than passing the dog off to a sanctuary where they could suffer unimaginable cruelties for years on end. 

Because the truth is, that kind of solution is not rescuing, it’s passing the buck.  It’s contributing to animal suffering, not saving them from it. 

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Let’s pretend you’re a rescue, who would you adopt to? (Polls included)

April 23, 2014 22 comments

Let’s face it. Rescues often get a bad rap from people looking to adopt. People find their restrictions limiting, their paperwork daunting and their process somewhat convoluted and exhausting. I get it. Everyone wants to meet a dog and be able to adopt it right away. Waiting is hard.

I also get the frustration people often have with some rescues, who are so rigid in their adoption qualifications that nobody could possibly live up to their standards. In some cases, I believe this to be valid, but not in all. There are good reasons for some of the strict adoption qualifications rescues have in place. For instance, Shelties tend to be a much higher flight risk than many other breeds, so in most cases (not all) a fenced yard is a must for our rescue.

I recently participated in a discussion where people shared the restrictions some rescues had for qualifying adopters. As people shared their experiences, it suddenly occurred to me that almost everyone in the group was looking from the outside in. They had never had to make the difficult decision to place a dog with someone. It set my mind to thinking. Was there a way to let people play at being a rescue and share their own insight into how they would run things if they were adopting the dog out to someone? Hmmmm…. Maybe.

This is my attempt to let you, the adopter/potential, play at being the rescue. What follows is a description of the dog, it’s known history, and a series of choices you get to make as head of the rescue in selecting the dog’s new owner. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Meet Jenny. Sad Looking Chocolate Lab
Jenny is a stray that was rescued from a kill shelter. She is shy, nervous, and frightened of men. When she came into your rescue, she had mange and had to be treated before she could be adopted out. She also had to be spayed and vaccinated to ensure she would not get sick or get other dogs sick. She has been living in a foster home for the past two months and is now ready to find her forever home.

Keep Jenny in mind as you think about what you would do if you were a rescue.

 

As head of the rescue, you have a specific process that you like to follow when matching a dog with a potential adopter. These process includes the following (pick all that you would include in your process):

 

As the head of the rescue, you also have a certain set of criteria you use to weed out potential adopters who are not a good match for a dog in your rescue group. People you would automatically weed out of the adoption process include those who…

 

 

Three potential adopters have made it through your process and all three are interested in Jenny. Which one would you choose for her?

So what did you think? Was the process easy? Difficult? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What you don’t see when you buy your puppy online

November 26, 2012 24 comments

Thanks to the media, celebrities, and numerous animal advocates, the message about pet stores, and the puppy mill dogs that supply them, is starting to reach people. More and more pet stores are being shut down or have stopped selling puppies. It’s encouraging to see the tides of change coming.

However, there is another front in the fight against puppy mills that people don’t often think about – the internet. 

The internet is a relatively new marketplace for puppy mill owners, but they love it.

  • It’s an easy way to sell their puppies. Create a website, tell a great story about how much you lovingly care for your puppies, post a few cute puppy pictures, and you’re in business.
  • It also increases a puppy miller’s profit margins – no middle man to take a cut of the profits. They just ship the puppy directly to you.
  • The other attractive feature in using the internet is that it’s safer than selling your puppies to pet stores. Online sellers of animals are not subject to  USDA inspections. No licensing. No inspections. It’s a relatively safe way to hide those skeletons while preying upon the unwitting puppy lover.

What most people don’t realize is that puppy millers are some of the best grifters out there. They know how to build trust, tug on your heart-strings, and reassure you they are on the up-and-up, all in one phone conversation or email exchange.

The sweet stories they are telling you online is not what’s really going on behind the scenes – animal cruelty, abuse, starvation, minimal, if any, medical care, and no socialization for the dogs.

Using the internet allows them to fool you into thinking they are a wonderful family who breeds dogs because they love them so much. Of course, they will be sure to let you know all of their breeding dogs are “family dogs” and live inside with them as a member of their family. How sweet. How could you not trust someone like that?

It’s so easy for them to fool people.

One example came to light recently that I thought was worth sharing.

Example: Pedigree Pets

Such a cute picture of a sweet little puppy isn’t it? Such a beautiful website. Simple, but how can you resist that puppy?
Pedigree Pets-1

What a sweet little family. You can tell they care so much for their dogs and puppies. It’s so sweet that their grandchildren play with the puppies. And, I love how they “deliver each and every one of the puppies themselves.” I wonder how they do it with such loving care?

Pedigree Pets-2

 

Oh wait. What happened here? A raid? 241 dogs seized? What happened to that nice little family with the grandchildren that loved to play with all their cute puppies? The puppies they personally delivered by hand?

Examiner article-Pedigree Pets

I know it’s hard to believe, but that cute little family story puppy millers put on their website is just that, a story. Or, as I like to say… B.S. According to the sheriff, veterinarians and the Ohio SPCA, the dogs were starving, had no water and were in bad shape. At least those are the allegations. The owners plead Not Guilty today, so we will have to wait to see how many of the 723 charges they will  be convicted on. I’ll leave you to check out the video of the raid on Pet-Abuse.com and make your own judgement.

Here is an excerpt of the story from Examiner.com:

Pedigree Pets was raided on Saturday, November 17, 2012 after an investigation by Deputy Cami Frey. Dogs and puppies were found living in horrid conditions and many were found to be ill, injured and emaciated. Several of the dogs had to be treated for wounds and infections.

The local sheriff that was involved in the raid on Pedigree Pets says it best…

“Online puppy mills are notorious for depicting their kennels as being wonderful places. In reality, they are massively breeding and housing dogs in cages and hutches for their entire lives”.

Don’t be fooled by those cute little websites featuring cute little puppies with fanciful stories of their wonderful families and family life. Buying a puppy online is just as bad as buying from a pet store.

Please Don’t Shop (not online or in a pet store), Adopt.

My sincere thanks to the Ohio SPCA for their hard work in saving these dogs and in seeing to their immediate care. Pedigree Pet’s breeding dogs, and their puppies, are now in the care of 22 wonderful Ohio rescues. The money it costs to care for all these dogs is not a minimal amount. Many puppy mill dogs are sick, undernourished, full of worms and have eye and dental issues. This case is no different. I am listing all of the rescues here. If you an donate to help with the care for these puppy mill dogs, please do so. It takes a village to help these dogs. One dollar is more than nothing. Please give what you can.

Peace for Paws (on Facebook)

Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue (on Facebook)

WolfSpirits Toy Breed Puppy Mill Rescue (on Facebook)

Chihuahua Rescue and Transport (on Facebook)

Mid-Ohio Animal Welfare League (on Facebook)

Dachshund Rescue of Ohio

Great Lakes Westie Rescue (on Facebook)

Star-Mar Rescue

SICSA (Society for the Improvement of Conditions for Stray Animals)

Columbus Cockers (on Facebook)

Central Ohio Dog Rescue League (on Facebook)

Marilyn’s Voice (on Facebook)

Paws Ohio (on Facebook)

Stormy’s Place (on Facebook)

Lost and Found K9 Rescue (on Facebook)

Thirdtyme Rescue (on Facebook)

Ohio Fuzzy Pawz Shih Tzu Rescue (on Facebook)

Measles Animal Haven (on Facebook)

Silky Rescue (on Facebook)

Lucky Star (on Facebook)

Colony Cats (on Facebook)

Ohio Basset Rescue (on Facebook)

Permission to share this photo was granted by the Ohio SPCA.

Wordless Wednesday #115

November 13, 2012 18 comments

Norah

The “Lady” has a secret.

October 15, 2012 29 comments

Hi everyone!

It’s me! Your delicious, scrumptious, sweet little Sheltie friend. Remember me? I was lost for 12 days last year and lived to tell you about it.

Oh. I didn’t tell you about it? Are you sure?

Well, maybe some things are better of left unsaid.

Let’s just say I am very happy to be back home. 🙂

In an unusual moment of insanity, Mom has decided to let me take over the keyboard today. I have to tell you, she’s a bit reluctant to let me do so. She knows why I want to write today and she’s a bit nervous about the whole thing.

But, I convinced her it was important. I told her it was time.

“Time for what?” you ask.

Well, it’s time to reveal my little secret.

It’s something I have keeping from you for some time now. Something that only those closest to me know.

Lady is not my real name.

“What?” you ask, “What do you mean Lady isn’t your real name?”

I know. It’s a shocker (almost as shocking as who shot J.R. in Dallas).

Lady is a really great name. I prance around like a lady, I look as beautiful as a little lady and I often clean my paws at the end of a good meal (what lady wouldn’t?). But, such a serious name can also be so limiting. After all, how can one be silly if they are expected to act like a Lady all of the time?

I am sworn to secrecy about the reasons behind my public name change, but I can tell you that the reason for the change was a good one. I was in the Witness Protection Program for Dogs.

What? You’ve ever heard of it? Ask your dogs. I am SURE they have heard about the WPPD (Witness Protection Program for Dogs). Every dog knows about it. It’s our last resort when we get into trouble. “Contact the WPPD if you ever need help.” That’s what all dogs say to one another.

And you thought you knew everything about us. Ha! Did I also tell you about our secret society? No? Well, maybe I should leave that one for another day. 🙂

I can tell you that I am now out of the WPPD (thanks to my mom). Getting a forever home meant I could leave the WPPD. And now that I am safe, I can come out of the dog house.

Oh. You can still call me Lady if you want. I won’t mind. I just prefer mom call me my real name. (To be honest, I think she’s  having a hard time trying to keep the two names straight. She often forgets and calls me by my real name in public. I hear that humans have trouble remembering things as they get older.)

So what is my real name you ask?

Let’s see if you can guess.

My name is….

Still not sure?

No. My name is not Birthday or Candle or Happy Birthday.

It’s…

Cupcake, a.k.a. Cuppers, a.k.a. Cupperdoo

It’s okay to be nervous when first adopting or fostering a dog

July 16, 2012 26 comments

Lacie is a beautiful, loving young Sheltie mix girl who will make a wonderful companion for that special someone. Through no fault of her own, she’s been shuffled around quite a bit in her young life. This little girl is a sweetie.
Lacie is 3 years old and will need to be on a diet and exercise regimen. She is really, really sweet!
Lacie is available through Minnesota Sheltie Rescue http://www.mnsheltierescue.org/available

Have you ever felt the stress that comes with introducing a new dog into the family? Reading my friend Amanda’s post the other day, Post-Puppum Anxiety Disorder, brought back so many memories for me.

As I read about Amanda’s nervousness and stress in adding two additional dogs into her home and her life, I couldn’t help but feel all the same feelings I had when I adopted my first dog, Indy. I fell in love with Indy the moment I met her. She literally was surrendered one day and adopted by me the next. At the shelter, I have been so certain she was the dog for me. But when I got her home I started to worry. What if she turned out not to be a good fit? What did I REALLY know about her anyways? Indy was so nervous that first night (understandably so), that I started to have second thoughts. Maybe I had made a mistake.

Thankfully, Indy adjusted and so did I. The more we learned about each other, the more we just clicked.We learned to trust one another. Indy turned out to be one of the best, most well-behaved dogs I had ever met, a discovery I never would have made if I hadn’t given her, and me, the time to get to know one another. She was quite a special dog. I have never regretted adopting her.

As I have added more rescue dogs into my life, I have learned that being comfortable with being uncomfortable is a part of the process when one fosters or adopts a new dog. Being nervous and having second thoughts are normal. It’s working past those fears and emotions, and being dedicated to working with your new and existing dog, that makes all the difference. Time can also make a big difference too. It takes time for everyone to get used to each others’ personalities and to adjust to the new routine. If you can get past those first few days (and sometimes weeks) the rewards can be great.

This is not to say that sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes it doesn’t. But knowing this, and being willing to make every attempt to work through it first, can bring about a surprising results.

I’d like to say that over time I have gotten past the butterflies in my stomach, the sinking feeling that maybe I’ve made a mistake, or the worry that I might somehow neglect one dog when doling out the love and attention, but I haven’t. Not once. Even when I boarded dogs as a part of my pet sitting business, I felt all the same nerves as I had when I fostered and/or adopted each of my dogs. It comes with the territory.

Fostering or adopting a dog is such a rewarding experience, but having the confidence to do so and to work through those initial worries and fears is the key. Trust yourself enough to know that change can be good. In fact, it can be life changing – for both you and your rescue dog.

I posted this on my Facebook page, but thought it worth sharing here as well – Fostering: Drive in the slow lane for dog/dog intros. I thought this post on the Bad Rap blog provided some great tips and ideas on introducing a new dog into your family. Granted, the foster parents had a more challenging situation than most adopters, but still some great ideas.

Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation. ~ ~ George Washington (1732 – 1799)

I am Winston. I am told that I am just the cutest little thing to come along in a long time. I am now learning to deal with two very bossy diva foster sisters (who are Shelties like me) and some cats, but we all get along really well. It would be more fun, however, if the cats would run every now and again – oh a good chase would be so great!
Winston is 8 years old and a mellow fellow most of the time, but he would love a friend who would love to play with him!
Lacie is available through Minnesota Sheltie Rescue http://www.mnsheltierescue.org/available

Here is what I know about dog people…

June 11, 2012 27 comments

Update:

I am happy to report that Elicia and her dog, Tobie, were reunited this morning! Here is how they were reunited in Elicia’s own words from the Help Elicia Find Her Dogs! Facebook page.

For those who didn’t hear how Tobie was reunited: we saw her running towards the cows this morning. Anita Grady and her husband mike flew a plane to help sight tobie with cows Several friends were driving below the plane for sighting directions. Susie fain and her guardian angels were on the way to help find tobie. She passed tobie walking on the eastbound i-10 shoulder heading in and out of traffic in the opposite direction. Nicole and I received a call from Susie about the sighting on the freeway. We chased her across the median onto the south side of the freeway and into the ravine. The plane then flew over to locate her in the ravine. The communicator with whom we were working got her to stop. She then was able to recognize who I was. Ran to me like we had just finished an agility run and gave me a hug.

More details to come.

Also good news. Being discharge from ER now (on good pain meds). Punctured lung healed and ins of bruising. But Alive and grateful for life!!!

What a wonderful dog community we have in this world. People from across the world (and I am not kidding) offered to help in whatever way they could. Prayers, good thoughts, money, planes, horses, campers, etc – all were offered to help reunite Elicia and Tobie. Such an amazing event. Truly a miracle.

One last update on Elicia and her dogs:

Thank you ALLl for EVERTYTHING !!! I am so grateful for all of your love, support and generosity!! Your unending and unconditional support is what I believe made the miracle of reuniting with Tobie alive!! Just left the vet office – thanks to veterinary specialists of tucson- all dogs are stable. Ice is having hardest time from the banging around in the car. Amazingly tobie is intact with some . Destiny only hasI have so much I want to say but am on my way to the ER for my follow up Care, now that everyone has been stabilized at the vets. I am so grateful!!

One last note from me: I know that the gal from Wilcox Animal Shelter was out helping Elicia look for Tobie and Nika for hours and on into the late evening. She also cared for some of Elicia’s dogs when she settled down for the night. If you feel the desire to give to this small shelter, please do.

From Elicia:

A huge thank you to Wilcox Animal Shelter 1525 E Stewart rd Willcox Az 85643 520-384-0163. FB City of Willcox humane shelter. The shelter cared for ice and destiny while breesea helped in the search for tobie. Thank you Kelly and Vicki for taking dogs to shelter and destiny to the vet, and helping in searching for missing tsunami, nika and tobie.

******************************************************************************************************************************

Here’s what I know about dog people. They are giving and kind and resourceful  and generous, and they are willing to help another dog owner when they need it most. They are exactly the type of people Elicia Calhoun needs right now.

At approximately 5:20 PM Monday night I saw a post on Facebook (by Leslie at Johann the Dog) that a well-known agility trainer had been in a terrible car accident along with her six agility dogs. Sadly, one of her dogs, Tsunami, died at the scene and Elicia was rushed to the hospital while some of her dogs were rushed to a vet. Two of her dogs are still missing in the Arizona desert.

Immediately, dog people (agility people, veterinarians, dog lovers, truckers, farmers, horse people, etc.) began to mobilize from across the country and in Canada to try to help. In the four hours since I first read about Elicia’s ordeal, a Facebook page, Help Elicia find her dogs!, was set up go provide updates and mobilize search teams, a Paypal site was set up to collect donations for the search and to pay for Elicia and her dogs’ care (nearly $8,000 raised by 10:50 PM Central). People shared her story on Facebook and Twitter, some made fliers and posted them and shared them, some gave them to truckers and anyone near the crash site (which is near Wilcox, Arizona, at mile marker 351). Others offered to ride out on horseback or to donate a helicopter or to search on foot. Many just offered prayers and words of support and encouragement. In almost 4 hours, 2100 people had joined Her Facebook page.

I know that the dog community contains some amazing people, having experienced it firsthand when Lady was lost, but I still can’t help but be impressed by the groundswell of support for Elicia and her dogs. Dog people are amazing people. Big-hearted, amazing people. I am so proud to be a part of this special group. When we put our heads, hands and hearts together we can do almost anything.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I hope and pray that it will be good news for Elicia. In the meantime, I know the dog community will continue to rally around her and to show their support for her and her dogs. I hope you will send your good thoughts and prayers to Elicia and her lost pups. She needs all the support we can provide right now.

Update: Sadly, Nika was found shortly after Elicia left the hospital to go search for her two missing dogs. She was hit by a car and did not make it. However, the search for Tobie continues. I hope and pray she is found soon.

Update (6:25 AM CST): Tobie was not found overnight, but the search continues this morning. They believe she has been traveling between the accident sight and where Nika was hit. Please pray that she is found today. I received an update last night that the three dogs who were taken to the vet are being cared for locally until Elicia finds Tobie. To read the latest on the search and how you can help, go to the Facebook page.

Elicia’s Agility Dogs

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