Monday, November 24, 2008
As a rescuer, I have heard countless appalling stories from former volunteers of Capital Area Humane Society. One such story is of a kittens being euthanized by holding them up and sticking needles in their stomachs... and then allowing them to run around in agony for 20 to 30 minutes until the poison finally kills them.
If you are interested in learning more about the Coalition's claims against Capital Area Humane Society, please visit www.capitalarea.org.
Monday, November 17, 2008
My friend Jenny is the director of a dog rescue group. She learned of the need for Dalmatian rescue when the movie "101 Dalmatians" came out and so many people felt they wanted one of those cute spotted dogs only to learn later that they require a ton of attention and exercise.
They are a great breed, but they just are not the right dog for everyone.
Because of my friendship with Jenny, I felt that getting a dog from a rescue was the way to go. My husband went on a mission to find the right dog for us, one that desperately needed a forever home. He found Tanner, a two-year old Sheltie. Our house was his fourth home in two years. Tanner didn't tell us his sad story in words, but after he got comfortable in our house his behavior soon showed us that he came with quite a bit of baggage.
Tanner started out barking and acting crazy at other dogs in the neighborhood when I would walk him (if you could call it walking). His behavior got worse as time went on. He got out of control in the house when any person or dog would walk by. I had to stop taking Tanner for walks because he barked constantly, lunged at others, and tried to chase cars. It was a mess. I had to lock him in the bathroom if company was coming over.
The final straw was when my brother came to visit and Tanner jumped up and nipped his hand. Luckily there was no real damage, but I knew I could not trust Tanner around people, animals, or cars.
I tried working with him for three years, but all my attention and love wasn't helping and his behavior worsened. I thought there was just one thing I could do -- I had to put Tanner to sleep before he got hurt or he hurt someone. My youngest let me know his feelings right away. He thought I was taking the easy way out and that we needed to try and work harder for Tanner. I agreed to try harder to help Tanner, but I was out of ideas. Into the picture came my friends Anne and Jim.
I told them about my failure with Tanner. I didn't know it then, but Jim takes their dog to Columbus All Breed Training Club. He suggested I give them a call to see if there was a class that would be right for us. I found a person who has a strong understanding of how Shelties are and decided to sign us up for the beginners obedience class and give it a try.
That first class was nerve wracking -- Tanner is barking and lunging and circling and was just beside himself. I was nervous and embarrassed, but I had to at least stick it out for the eight week session.
I am so glad I stuck it out. It has been an amazing journey. I learned so much in that short time. I discovered it was me who was making Tanner worse. As I l earned the correct things to do, Tanner relaxed and began to enjoy going to the classes.
I was still wary, but it was Jim who changed my stance on letting Tanner close to anyone. He came in one night and just walked right up to us with his beautiful Belgian Sheepdog, Race. Tanner sniffed Race and Race sniffed Tanner. Oh my stars... that's the first dog that Tanner has been friendly with!
It's been a year since that beginner's class and oh how Tanner has changed for the better! I've continued with obedience classes going up to more advanced levels with Tanner rising to the challenge each time. We can enjoy a leisurely walk, he can take a ride in the car, and we can have company over. Tanner even knows when it is a dog school day, he just can't wait to get to class and hang out with his friends.
Tanner was 24 hours away from being put to sleep a year ago. Now I'm thinking about registering him for the AKC Obedience Trials next spring... Yep, obedience training saved Tanner's life.
Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.
As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.
As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.
She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship.
A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well. Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms. I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes. I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.
I rescued a human today.
Monday, November 10, 2008
to make history
…and got a Congressional bill proposed in her name
The public promise to adopt a rescue dog is unprecedented for a First Family, and has the potential to strike a crippling blow to one of the cruelest industries imaginable- dog breeding- an industry that costs taxpayers billions. Most Americans aren't aware that their hard-earned tax dollars are squandered to the tune of billions a year on animal control due to pet overpopulation, an epidemic perpetuated by the dog breeding industry. The economic crisis we now face demands that every sector be scrutinized for greed, mismanagement, and deception-not just Wall Street.
The houses-of-horror known as “puppy mills,” where breeding dogs are locked in cages 24 hours a day, spinning endlessly in circles as they go insane from lifetime confinement, never allowed to walk on solid ground, covered in their own feces and that of the dogs stacked in cages above them, maimed or diseased yet still forced to breed every heat cycle, is an industry that has gone unchecked and is nothing short of legalized torture. The scores of puppies churned out of these mills each year mean a death sentence for millions of homeless shelter dogs, who wait in vain for someone to adopt them, only to be dragged to the gas chamber. Every time someone buys a puppy from a dog breeder instead of adopting one of those deserving critters, it not only seals their sad fate, it costs you and me a bundle. And yet the dog breeders continue to churn out their cruel cash crop, an income that many brag is easily hidden from the IRS.
One survivor of these hellholes is a dog named “Baby” who found her way into the spotlight with then-Senator Obama. Known previously by a number, “94,” tattooed in her ear, this gentle creature had her vocal cords cut by the mill owners so they wouldn't have to hear her cries to be let out of her cage, and after her rescue had her leg amputated as a result of osteoporosis that is common among breeding dogs.
When I learned the shocking truth about the dog breeding industry, I vowed to adopt rather than buy a dog from one of these animal abusers, and to tell the country their dark secret. I enlisted my new Senator, Barack Obama, to help tell Baby's story to the world, and several of his colleagues, Republicans and Democrats alike, as well as celebrities from all walks-Judge Judy, the New York Mets, Steven Tyler, Bill Maher, even rabbis and priests who I contacted to weigh in on animal cruelty from a religious perspective. Those essays and portraits comprise the book, A Rare Breed of Love: The True Story of Baby and the Mission she Inspired to Help Dogs Everywhere (Fireside, an imprint of Simon & Schuster), which has sent Baby and me on a grueling cross-country tour the past several months, culminating in a proposed bill named for her that would ban lifetime confinement of breeding dogs. “Baby's Bill” (H.R. 6949/S. 3519) is co-sponsored by Representatives Sam Farr (D-CA), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Lois Capps (D-CA), Terry Everett (R-AL), and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), and would require that breeding dogs be let out of their cages for 60 minutes of exercise a day-a baby step as far as I'm concerned, yet one that's likely to be opposed by dog breeders, “Cruella de Villes” that they are.
I remember the photo shoot we did with then-Senator Obama, when he held Baby close, snuggled and kissed her, distressed to hear of her abuse, and an email he later sent to his Illinois constituents, telling them about her and his commitment to stopping all forms of animal cruelty. President-elect Obama has made history in so many ways, and now the incoming First Family has achieved another first that could not only end a cruel industry, but would also save taxpayers billions. The simple act of acquiring a family pet through adoption will undoubtedly inspire millions of Americans to follow their lead, meaning that millions of homeless dogs slated for death may instead find loving homes, drastically reducing the cost of animal control. The dog breeding industry will see their sales drop dramatically, and countless victims like Baby, locked away at this very moment, prisoners condemned to life behind bars, will be spared that nightmarish existence.
Like all the members of the House and Senate who posed with Baby for the book, Barack Obama understands that this kind of legalized cruelty must end. What the Obamas also see is a wonderful opportunity to teach their daughters a lesson in compassion and mercy by bringing a homeless pet into their family. One of the greatest ways to build character in our children is to encourage compassion toward animals, as the National Parent-Teacher Association states.
It was fitting that we chose the Lincoln Memorial as the backdrop for President-elect Obama's portrait with Baby. President Lincoln himself was an animal lover who once saved the life of a dog, a poignant story recounted in Baby's book. I believe the 16th President is looking down in approval upon our 44th, for so many reasons.
And little does a voiceless, 3-legged dog know, she has helped make history, too.
Jana Kohl, Psy.D. is a psychologist, animal welfare advocate, and author of A Rare Breed of Love: The True Story of Baby and the Mission she Inspired to Help Dogs Everywhere (Fireside, an imprint of Simon and Schuster). Having worked for the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies for many years, she has long been concerned with how cruelty becomes legally sanctioned by society. She is a member of the board of HumaneUSA.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Poor little Peanut is the victim of a brutal slaying by two vicious men. The 7-month old Fox Terrier pup was tortured, mutilated, and hacked to death in Mackay, Australia. Please sign the Care2 petition asking for the MAXIMUM penalty for this horrifying crime! They need 100,000 signatures and still have a way to go. Please sign the petition TODAY! Thank you!
Before you buy a puppy, Deborah Howard has created the following checklist to see if you are ready for the new member of the Family:
1. Did the companion animal you plan on bringing into your home come from a shelter, reputable breeder or from another location where you can trace its whereabouts?
2. Have you prepped the entire family for the new member of the family?
3. Who will be responsible for the dog’s socialization?
4. Who will be accountable for the animals care? Feeding? Walking? House training?
5. Have you calculated the cost of raising your animal? Vet bills? Food? Toys?
Many breeders and pet stores are often motivated by money and the holiday craze. Such sellers are not likely to cut into profits with pesky screening for genetic diseases, nor are they likely to care about the importance of socialization. These attitudes may cost you in the long run, both in dollars and in heartbreak. The most important rule of thumb is to realize that puppies are not toys. They are living creatures that need a lot of attention and essentially should be regarded as a new member of the family.
“One should never purchase or adopt an animal as a present to be given during the holidays. There is too much excitement and stress during holidays for an animal that has to adjust and adapt to being in a new environment and home. Instead, give a gift card stating that there will be an animal after the holidays. Don’t expect children, even teens, to provide consistent care for this animal. The responsibility is going to be with the parents. Don’t ever buy a dog at a pet shop or online. Most of these puppies come from puppy mills – commercial breeding facilities that mass produce dogs for resale to pet shops or individuals. Potential animal guardians can make a difference by adopting an unwanted animal from a shelter or rescue organization. Most shelters and rescue organizations are listed on http://www.petfinder.com/. ” – Deborah Howard
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. For more information please visit http://www.caps-web.org/.