Thursday, July 31, 2008

Creative Help for Rescuers

I was recently informed that a new organization of volunteer creative professionals was created to provide services for animal welfare organizations.

If you have a rescue organization that is need of professional creative services -- such as web design, writers, logo design, photographers, editors -- be sure to read Linda Formichelli's note below:

I recently started an organization called Creative Professionals for Animal Welfare (creativePAW). The organization's mission is to help animal welfare organizations find creative professionals (such as writers, editors, illustrators, photographers, and web designers) who are willing to do volunteer work to help with the orgs' marketing, education, fundraising, and PR efforts. These creative professionals help animal welfare organizations publicize their causes and educate the public about homeless pet issues. Our volunteers can create newsletters, websites, logos, brochures, press releases, and more. (Note: Our volunteers typically work remotely over the Internet and are not available for in-shelter work.)

I announced the new website in mid-February, and we already have more than 600 volunteers -- writers, web designers, videographers, editors, illustrators, photographers, PR people, and even actors and voice talent. If you could use the services of any of these volunteers, please sign up (it's free) to search the volunteer database. Before you sign up, please read our 'How We Work' page to learn more about how we can help you. creativePAW's website is

If you do end up contacting a volunteer through creativePAW, be sure to mention to the volunteer how you found him or her. Also, please keep creativePAW updated on any volunteer projects so we can post about them on the site!

Linda Formichelli *

Animal Transport Webinar

For those rescue volunteers that transport, PetSmart Charities is offering a free, two-part educational webinar on rescue transporting. For more information, read below:

From PetSmart Charities...

We are really excited to bring you a two-part series on Animal Transport. Part 1 is currently open for registration and you can register at

How to Safely and Humanely Transport Dogs
Presented by: Marlene Walsh, Executive Director, Humane Strategies

  • Monday, August 18: 1-2:30 p.m. pacific / 2-3:30 p.m. mountain / 3-4:30 p.m. central / 4-5:30 p.m. eastern
  • Tuesday, August 19: 9-10:30 a.m. pacific / 10-11:30 a.m. mountain / 11-12:30 p.m. central / 12-1:30 p.m. eastern
  • Wednesday, August 20: 4-5:30 p.m. pacific / 5-6:30 p.m. mountain / 6-7:30 p.m. central / 7-8:30 p.m. eastern
There are many things to consider before starting an animal transport program, or becoming a participant in an animal transport endeavor, as well as ways to evaluate your current transport program if you are already involved. Some of the things to consider in your program are:

• Where are your animals going?
• Have you visited the shelter?
• Have you met the people who will be receiving your animals?
• Do you know their adoption policies?
• Who pays for what?
• Should money exchange hands?
• Do we need a formal agreement between organizations?
• Between transporter and shelters?
• Who will be transporting your animals?
• In what type of vehicle?
• How long is the drive between your facility and their destination?
• How far is too far?
• What will be used to transport the animals?

Marlene Walsh, Executive Director of Humane Strategies, which is the operator of PetSmart Charities' Rescue Waggin, will give you all the information you need to know to transport your dogs safely and humanely. You'll also learn how to prepare animals the morning of transport, rules of the road for the day of transport, and what to do when the animals reach the destination shelter.

Watch for Part 2 of this webinar in September. Dr. Sandra Newbury will be discussing health related issues, for pets and shelters, associated with transporting dogs.

• How can we identify good candidates for transport?
• What precautions can we take to prevent infectious disease spread as a source and a destination shelter?
• What health management systems can we put in place when we know transfer is an option?
• How can we keep everyone healthy while we wait for pick up?
• And how can we best ensure safety during the trip?
• Registration for Part 2 should open for registration towards the middle of August.

If you aren't sure how webinars work or would like to schedule a test run to make sure that your computer is set up and ready to go, please feel free to contact Suzy Hayton at shayton@petsmartcha

Thanks, and we look forward to "seeing" you online.

Robin Mason
Manager Technology & Education
PetSmart Charities
Phone: 623-587-2487 for FREE online seminars

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Lion Named Christian

Many of you might have seen this already. If you haven't, get yourself a tissue. It's a beautiful story!

Black Dog Syndrome

Most of the general public is not aware of how doomed black dogs are. When black dogs are brought to a pound, particularly black labs or lab mixes, they are euthanized at a horrifying rate because people pass them up for lighter colored dogs. If you are thinking about adopting a dog, please don't overlook black dogs. They are just as loving and wonderful as lighter colored dogs!

Protest Verizon's Pit Bull Commercial

This post is a contribution from fellow rescuer Doreen in Michigan:

Hi Everybody,

Most of you have already seen this commercial from Verizon, where the two chained vicious pit bulls race for the cell phone and they reach the cell at the same time but the guy gets there just in the nick of time seconds before the dogs. This commercial is in such bad taste in so many ways, but for sure two, 1, for having chained up dogs, and 2, for portraying our beloved pit bulls as vicious, as they are already getting such bad press.

I'm asking along with hundreds already to please go to the link and sign it and let's let Verizon know we are NOT happy about their chosen advertisement. They could have just as easily used a cobra as someone else pointed out. Why a pit bull?? I want and hundreds of others want this commercial pulled. I'm checking on Monday to see about changing my service.

Thank you very much for your support.


Verizon corporate office number is 212-395-1000 in New York. Please call and ask them to yank this commercial.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Saving the Puppy in the Window

(Greater Boston, MA) In 1989 when Deborah Howard noticed the cramped and unsanitary conditions at a Docktor Pet Center in Atlanta, one of more than 300 franchise locations, she became enraged. A tiny yellow Labrador puppy was pressing an open cut against the wire bars of its cage. As she held this puppy, she wondered about his origins. To her horror, Ms. Howard discovered out that almost all pet shop puppies come from “puppy mills,” commercial breeding facilities that mass produce dogs for resale. She knew she had no choice but to take action.

Every year, more than a half-million purebred puppies, destined for pet shops across the United States and Canada, are born in crowded and usually squalid conditions at Midwest, New York and Pennsylvania puppy mills. Unfortunately, these puppies become part of a society that routinely destroys millions of unwanted dogs and cats a year. The parents of these puppies spend their lives in wretched confinement, exposed to the elements, only to often encounter a cruel death at the end of their reproductive years.

At pet shops, puppies sleep on wire grates in small, poorly ventilated, and sometimes dirty cages. These puppies suffer from a plethora of illnesses and disorders as a result of inbreeding, inadequate shelter, dirty and overcrowded living conditions, transportation stress, exposure to random source animals, and improper veterinary care.

Many unknowing consumers cannot resist the cute puppy in the pet shop window of the local mall or shopping center. After purchasing the overpriced dog -- payment plans are often available -- they may then discover their puppy has a medical ailment that requires veterinary care. Pet shop warranties usually preclude reimbursement for veterinary expenses unless there is a state lemon law. The standard recourse for customers who have purchased a sick puppy is to return the puppy for credit toward another dog. Most customers, however, become emotionally attached to their puppies and will not return them. Tragically, some pet shop puppies may die or become so sick or aggressive they must be euthanized.

Ms. Howard contacted several national animal protections organizations, but none wanted to take on the pet shop issue. She decided that the best way to address this issue was through her public relations experience; she contacted “20/20” and discovered they had been thinking about doing a story on the pet shop/puppy mill issue but didn’t have the necessary documentation and video footage.

Steadfast and tenacious, she heard of a young man that had taken a job at one of the Docktor Pet Centers merely to help the animals. She provided him with a camcorder so that he could document conditions for the “20/20” expose. He also made copies of numerous store records. Through this groundbreaking news story, she me Robert Baker, then the foremost puppy mill investigator in the country. Mr. Baker is now a CAPS board member.

Ms. Howard also used her organizational skills obtained through years of working for political campaigns and causes, to organize pet shop protests the weekend before Christmas in 30 – 40 cities across the United States and Canada from 1990 to 1993. The producer at “20/20” even agreed to air an update story the night before the protests in 1991. The new CEO of Docktor Pet Centers claimed in his interview for this piece that the company did not buy from puppy mills; Mr. Baker’s footage proved otherwise.

Ms. Howard, a former radio news reporter, lawyer and PR professional, formed CAPS in 1990. The nonprofit became a 501(c)(3), in 1992. As a result of CAPS’ efforts, Docktor Pet Centers, Inc., who refused to do business without the sale of puppies, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in February 1993.

Ms. Howard has generated publicity on the pet shop and puppy mill issue with the following media: CNN, “Dateline,” “20/20,” (three times) “Hard Copy,” Life, People, Reader’s Digest, Detroit Free Press, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Tulsa World and numerous local television news stations and newspapers.

The Companion Animal Protection Society is the only national nonprofit dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals, CAPS' foremost concern is the abuse and suffering of pet shop and puppy mill dogs. Founded in 1992, CAPS actively addresses this issue through investigations, education, media relations, legislative involvement, puppy mill dog rescues, consumer assistance, and pet shop employee relations.

Friday, July 18, 2008

In Thanks To Pet Rescue Volunteers

This video was sent to me by email and is a tribute to all the WONDERFUL people who selflessly volunteer their time, money, and their hearts and souls to savings the lives of animals. Enjoy!

The Truth About Pit Bulls

Here's another FANTASTIC YouTube video called "The Truth About Pit Bulls".

WARNING: Some of the images in this video are graphic!

Saving Lives One at a Time

Here's a beautiful YouTube video that I found that is truly touching. Enjoy!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ohio Puppy Mills

This is a FANTASTIC editorial that appeared in the Sunday, July 14, 2008 issue of The Columbus Dispatch. BRAVO!!!

Legislators should put end to Ohio's
national reputation as haven for puppy mills
Ohio lawmakers still have time to liberate the state from the shame of being the nation's No. 2 haven for puppy mills, where inbred, sick dogs are forced to produce litter after litter of inbred, sick puppies in miserable conditions.

Why House and Senate members have failed to act on bills to reasonably regulate dog breeding, introduced in each of the past two sessions, is a mystery.

Even an unsolicited letter of support in April from Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel -- one of Ohio's prime celebrity endorsements, surely -- didn't sway them.

The current measures, House Bill 223 and Senate Bill 173, have languished since being introduced in May 2007.

Lawmakers, headed off on a long election-year break, still could pass these bills -- either in a special session before the November election or in the lame-duck session after it.

The proposed law would do nothing to impede anyone from breeding dogs under humane conditions.It certainly would inconvenience those who profit from misery, as they confine dogs in tiny, filthy cages, breeding them over and over, with little rest or veterinary care, and no social interaction with humans.

The law would create a division of the Department of Agriculture that would set minimum standards for living space, food, water, daylight, time out of cages and medical care. The rules would apply to kennels where nine or more dogs are bred per year. Those who buy and sell breeding dogs at auctions and sell them to pet stores would have to be licensed and would be required to keep records of their transactions.

Pet stores either would have to provide a veterinarian's certification for each dog sold, stating it is healthy, or offer customers a 21-day money-back guarantee for dogs that are deemed by the buyer's veterinarian to be diseased or injured.

Some legislators have opposed the bill out of a general dislike of government regulation of business, but such mindless adherence to this principle is harmful to consumers and downright brutal to animals. Beside the moral repugnance of the puppy-mill trade, leaving it essentially unregulated allows unethical breeders -- and there are lots of them -- to foist sick and badly bred puppies onto unsuspecting buyers. That doesn't promote good business in Ohio.

Those who oppose the bill because it would limit the puppy-mill industry that thrives particularly among the Amish in Holmes and Geauga counties should consider that the right to pursue a profit isn't a license to be cruel to animals.

Ohio, with more than 11,000 known breeders, is second only to Missouri in the number of puppy mills. Clearly, the state is tolerating an unsavory business that other states have seen fit to limit.

Ohio lawmakers should muzzle this awful business.

Vick's dogs win hearts, homes

Here is a WONDERFUL article that appeared in the Sunday, July 13, 2008 edition of The Columbus Dispatch. To view the article with photos, please click here.

Vick's dogs win hearts, homes
Half of football star's fighting pit bulls were fit for fostering

By Brigid Schulte
The Washington Post

When football superstar Michael Vick pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to run a dogfighting operation, we knew he had kept about 50 pit bulls on his 15-acre property in rural Virginia. We knew the dogs were chained to car axles near wooden hovels for shelter. And we knew the dogs that didn't fight were beaten, shot, hanged, electrocuted or drowned.

But we didn't know their names. Headlines described the dogs as "menacing." Some animal-rights groups called for the "ticking time bombs" to be euthanized as soon as Vick's case was closed and they were no longer valuable as evidence. That's what typically happens after a dogfighting bust.

Instead, the court gave Vick's dogs a second chance. U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson ordered that each dog be evaluated individually, not judged by the stereotype of the breed. And he ordered Vick to pony up close to $1 million to pay for the lifelong care of those that could be saved.

Of the 49 pit bulls animal-behavior experts evaluated, only one was deemed too vicious to warrant saving and was euthanized. (Another was killed because it was sick and in pain.) More than a year after being confiscated from Vick's property, Leo, a tan, muscular pit bull, visits cancer patients as a certified therapy dog in California. Teddles takes orders from a 2-year-old. Gracie is a couch potato in Richmond, Va., who lives with cats and sleeps with four other dogs.

Of the 47 surviving dogs, 25 were placed directly in foster homes, and a handful have been or are being adopted. Twenty-two were deemed potentially aggressive toward other dogs and were sent to an animal sanctuary in Utah. Some, after intensive retraining, are expected to move on to foster care and adoption.

How can this be? Reports of gruesome pit bull maulings make international news. Pit bulls are one of the few canine breeds thought to be so dangerous that they are banned in some places. The answer, says Frank McMillan, a veterinarian who is studying the recovery of some of the Vick dogs, is that we don't know. "We've assumed all pits are the same, and we've never let this many fighting dogs live long enough to find out," he said.

Classic fighting pit bulls, part bulldog and part terrier, were bred to be friendly to people and aggressive with other dogs. Their ability to withstand great pain and keep fighting is a quality prized as "gameness."

But with an explosion in urban street fighting, some pit bulls are being trained to go after animals and people. Evaluators said that when they walked into the kennels where the Vick dogs were being held, they weren't sure what to expect.

"I thought, if we see four or five dogs that we can save, I'll be happy," said Randy Lockwood, an animal behaviorist with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Instead, they found dogs with behaviors that ran the gamut. Some would lick human hands but lunge at other dogs. Some almost immediately went into play mode with other dogs, wagging their tails and crouching down on their front legs in a play bow.

Some of the dogs were scarred. All were sick and malnourished. Once it became clear that the dogs might be allowed to live, evaluators gave them names: Iggy, Zippy, Cherry Garcia, Hazel, Little Red, Uba, Squeaker, Big Fella, Handsome Dan.

"One of the things that struck us immediately was that these dogs were more like the dogs we see rescued from animal-hoarding situations," Lockwood said. "Their main
problem was not aggressiveness but isolation." Loud noises startled them. A light coming on made them jump. All that the dogs seemed to know about people was that they were to be feared.

We don't know what names Vick, who is serving a 23-month prison sentence in Leavenworth, Kan., called most of his dogs. One of the few names that appeared in court papers was Jane, one of the first pit bulls Vick bought in 2001 to start Bad Newz Kennels.

Jane is now called Georgia. Her jaw is crooked, having been broken at least once, and her tongue sticks out. She is covered in scars, and her teeth have all been pulled. By court order, she will live out her days in Dogtown, at the Best Friends Animal Society's 3,700-acre sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. So will Lucas, a tail-wagging, 60-pound dog who evaluators suspect was Vick's grand champion fighter.

They are two of 22 dogs who were deemed worth saving but who showed enough animal aggression that they could be held only in a tightly controlled sanctuary. At Best Friends, McMillan, the veterinarian, has developed an "emotional rehabilitation plan" for each dog and measures how they exhibit such traits as aggression, fear, calmness or friendliness. All but two of the Vick dogs are on "green collar," meaning they are open and friendly to human visitors. The remaining 25 Vick dogs were given to seven animal-rescue organizations, which placed them in experienced foster homes. A number have since passed the American Kennel Club's 10-part Canine Good Citizenship test. Many are being adopted.

Sharon Cornett, a member of the Richmond, Va., Animal League's board, agreed to foster Gracie and is adopting her. "I adore this dog. She is just a love bucket. She loves people and animals unconditionally," Cornett said. She has four other dogs. All of them sleep together at night. "Gracie is not what the public perception has been of a fighting pit bull."

Still, Cornett and other pit-bull rescuers say that they never leave the dogs unsupervised with other animals. And rehabilitating a fighting pit is not for everyone: You have to know what you're doing, they say.

John Goodwin, a dogfighting expert with the Humane Society and a proponent of euthanizing fight dogs, is skeptical of the emerging reports of the Vick dog recoveries. Fighting is in their blood, he said. "The behavior is bred into them," he said. "These groups are not rehabilitating these dogs. They're training them to behave in a more socialized manner. But these pit bulls should never be left alone with other dogs, because you never know when that instinct to fight another dog is going to surface."

Tim Racer, one of the founders of Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit bulls, or BAD RAP, who before taking in 10 Vick dogs had evaluated and retrained 400 pit bulls over the past 10 years, disagrees. Yes, there are pit bulls who have attacked other animals and people. But so have other breeds. And incidents almost always have been traced to negligent or abusive owners, he said.

Racer said it is not surprising that many of the dogs get along so well with other dogs. Just as the urge to fight is in their blood, so, too, is the need to get along. "You have 150 years of man trying to produce an aggressive dog. But you have tens of thousands of years of Mother Nature preceding that," he said. "Dogs are pack animals. They survived because of their pack. … It's hard-wired into their genes that they do no harm to each other."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Adopted Your Dog Today

I adopted your dog today
The one you left at the pound
The one you had for seven years
and no longer wanted around.

I adopted your dog today
Do you know he's lost weight?
Do you know he's scared and depressed
and has lost all faith?

I adopted your dog today.
he had fleas and a cold,
but don't worry none.
You've unburdened your load.

I adopted your dog today.
Were you having a baby or moving away?
Did you suddenly develop allergies or was
there no reason he couldn't stay?

I adopted your dog today.
he doesn't play or eat much
He's very depressed, but
he will learn again to trust.

I adopted your dog today.
And here he will stay.
He's found his forever home
and a warm bed on which to lay.

I adopted your dog today.
And I will give him all that he could need.
Patience, love, security, and understanding.
Hopefully he will forget your selfish deed.

-Author Unknown