Monday, October 31, 2011

Desiderata and a Book Tour

Hi, there, CindyLu here! A long time ago, I won a book from Kelly and her mom, Peggy, at Peggy's Pet Place. Mom says it's one of the most wonderful gifts she has ever received. With all the sad, maddening news about what happens to so many animals (and people) in the world, she likes to pull out the book and read it to me. It lifts her spirits, she says, and straightens her thoughts. The book is called Desiderata for Dog Lovers, A Guide to Life and Happiness. Desiderata is Latin for "desired things". That's Greek to me, but I do love to hear the words from the book.
Desiderata was written a long, long time ago by a famous poet, Max Ehrmann. He didn't get any credit for it, though, for a very long time. One of the best things about the book are all the pictures of dogs. They're really fun to look at, and while Mom thinks they're really cute, I'll just say they're almost as cute as me. BOL I do love when Mom reads me the book, though, and I want to share the words with you -

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Makes you feel warm and fuzzy, doesn't it? Just what we need sometimes. If you want to see the cute doggies, you'll have to get your own. It's a great book for snuggling, I recommend it to all doggies, and the kittehs that will sit still for it, to have their humans read to them. We also got a really cool bumper sticker, which looks quite snazzy on the back of the car, don't you think?
See what it says? Yep, that's right. I know someone famous! Kelly and her mom wrote a book, Dieting With My Dog, and now they're going on a tour for it. I'm going to be one of the stops on the tour! Be sure to check each day at Peggy's Pet Place, and follow the tour to see what Kelly and Peggy have to say about dieting together. If you have questions you'd like to ask them, let me know! They're very generous about that kind of thing. Peggy and Kelly are really two Women You Should Know. 

Petco's 2011 National Pet Food Drive

Our brutal economy has led to diminished donations at a time when the need couldn't be greater. With so many people still reeling from the devastating effects of recent years, there are less who feel they can afford to help others. At the same time, the number of those in need is simply staggering. In response, Petco and Hill's Science Diet have teamed up for the second year in hosting a national pet food drive.
Over the course of the next two weeks, you can find a collection bin at all Petco and Unleashed by Petco stores for dog and cat food, as well as cat litter. Hill's Science Diet will match all donations collected pound-for-pound, literally doubling all donations. Through November 13th, you can donate litter, dog and cat food bags and cans of any brand, any size. The donations will go to needy households, in the hopes of making the Thanksgiving holiday a bit better for both pets and their families.

There are still an astonishing number of people who have found themselves facing the excruciating decision of whether to relinquish their beloved pets or risk not being able to care for them. Shelters and rescues know firsthand what effect this economical climate has had on pets and the people who love them. The flood of pets coming in due to relinquishment or, sadly, being left behind or out in the cold is testament to the cruel realities people are now facing.
With help from those who can, many people might have the opportunity to keep their pet. During hard times, a pet becomes an even more crucial source of stability and comfort, making it that much more important to aid those who are having a hard time providing the nutrition their pets need. This help in providing needy pets the food they require will extend to lessening the impact on rescues and shelters, which are already brimming over capacity.

Remember, a little help can go a long way! Even if you can only afford to offer a small amount to the donation bins, with Hill's matching your donation you will be providing that much more. A few tips:
  • If you have unopened, unusable food or litter at home, things your pet will not use - donate them!
  • Clip coupons, BOGO offers, rebates - not only for the products you purchase, but also any other pet products - then either use them to save on purchasing at Petco for the donation bin, or give the coupons to your local shelter/rescue. 
  • You can find many helpful coupons and offers right on Hill's website.
  • Many of those caring for their animals are only able to offer, at best, the less-expensive products to their pets, so don't ever think you cannot donate simply because you can't afford the expensive ones. On the other hand, if you can afford them, there are always pets that will surely benefit from them.
  • Consider donating special-diet foods, for those with medical conditions or allergies.
  • Cat litter is essential for cats; those with financial difficulties often hesitate purchasing any - with unhealthy results for people and pets alike.
Don't forget treats!

"This year's goal is 400,000 pounds of pet food - and since 100 pounds of food can provide between 40 and 400 meals for one pet, depending on pet size, age and activity level - we have the potential to help a lot of pets. And, to help us along Hill's Science Diet will match, pound for pound, every bag of dog and cat food donated at Petco stores during the drive - up to 100,000 pounds!" - Petco

Our wish is for everyone to have a stress-free, food-filled and nutritious Thanksgiving holiday!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Suzie: One Puppy Mill Dog's Story

 This guest post is by Deanne Blenkle

 In January 1999, our dog Lassie died after being hospitalized for 5 days. Our other Scottie dog, Laddie, was lost without his friend. Two weeks later, my father-in-law passed away.  My husband went into a deep depression.

This is four years before we began volunteering in animal rescue. At the time, I knew nothing about puppy mills. All I knew was that my family was suffering from recent losses. I called local pet stores to see if anyone had a female black Scottie. On the fifth try, I contacted Pete's Petland in Addison. They had a female black Scottie.

I talked my husband into going to the store “just to look”. His heart wasn't in it, but he agreed to go. The store was dimly lit, and it smelled like dog feces. We went to look at the puppies. The dogs were barking non-stop in their cages. Many of the cages were soiled. We checked every crate, but did not see the Scottie pup anywhere.  

We asked about the Scottie pup, and we were taken to an aquarium tank. The top of the tank was wire mesh, and the top was held in place with a lava rock tank decoration. The proprietor of the store removed the lava rock and the wire top.  Inside the aquarium tank was an 8 week old Scottie puppy.

The puppy's water dish had a layer of scum on it. The food bowl was dried & crusty. We picked the puppy up. She smelled badly, but wanted to cuddle. We noticed a jagged scar on her belly. We could not leave her at that place. We bought her and took her home. We named her Suzie.

We made an appointment to bring Suzie our vet the next day. During the exam, we asked our vet about the scar on her belly. Our vet told us that it looked like Suzie was cut with wire from a crate. The scar was two inches long and jagged. The vet said that the cut healed on it's own without any medical treatment.

Our vet also told us that Suzie was bow-legged. Her front paws turned inward like a bull dog. We were told that Suzie would have medical problems in the future: arthritis, joint pain. The vet asked if the store we purchased Suzie from had a return option... she suggested we consider returning the pup. We told our  vet about how Suzie was kept, and the awful condition of the store. We would never bring her back to that place.

 Suzie was an amazing dog. She made us laugh every day with her antics. She got along great with Laddie, and she loved our cats. She had a great big personality for such a little dog. We had 10 wonderful years with Suzie.

Just as our vet told us, Suzie had health issues her entire life. Her front legs became more bow-legged as she got older. She developed joint problems and arthritis.  She was diagnosed with hip dysplasia at age 6, and walked with a limp the rest of her life. We gave her supplements daily to help with joint pain, and pain medication on bad days. She died at age 10 of bladder cancer. 

When we walked into Pete's Petland 12 years ago, we knew nothing about puppy mills.  Puppy mills are large-scale breeding operations that are focused strictly on profit. They are run by irresponsible breeders who care little for the health of the dogs in their care, and provide minimal vetting at best. Often overcrowded, dogs are kept in small cages and bred over and over. Genetic conditions like hip dysplasia are not screened, and the puppies are pulled from their mothers at a young age without proper nutritional care.

Puppies sold in pets stores usually come from puppy mills. It is not unusual for these puppies to have major health issues later in life like Suzie. Sometimes the puppies become ill and die right away. One time I was at an animal hospital, back in the surgery section, with a pet from our rescue. A very sick puppy was brought in. The puppy could not breathe. The doctor looked at the vet techs, and asked which pet store the puppy came from. He named two local stores, and was correct that the puppy came from one of them. At the time, I was shocked the vet knew just by looking at the condition of the pup that the puppy came from a pet store.  

Being in rescue, I know now that most vets can tell a puppy mill puppy just by the symptoms it comes in with. In rescue, we can always tell an adult dog that was rescued from a puppy mill. Most do not know how to walk correctly because they've spent their entire life in a tiny crate. They are not potty-trained, they do not know how to play, and many have no idea what grass is - they have never set foot on it. They also have health issues because they have never received proper medical care.

Knowing today what I know about puppy mills, I would have never supported the industry by purchasing a dog from a pet store. Although I felt that day like I saving Suzie, what I really did was open up a spot for another puppy mill puppy.

Guest post: by Deanne Blenkle
Deanne and Paul Blenkle
About the author: A lifelong animal lover, Deanne and her husband, Paul, have been intricately involved with their local pet rescue, Almost Home Foundation, since its inception in 2005. As the Cat Team Coordinators, they devote their days and nights, seven days a week, to ensuring the most cats are afforded the dream of a forever home, and to managing all the details of the cats and their foster homes with the organization. Paul is the talented eye behind the lens of the many images we feature here from Purr Photography. In her spare time, Deanne loves to cook, read, and devote her attention to their own dogs, cats, birds and fish. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Standing Together

A voice for the voiceless, An outreached hand, 
A clear mind willing to understand,
An open heart, ready to give
of love and compassion, that they may live.
In a world filled with suffering and great strife
EVERYONE can do something, large or small, 
to help save a life.

Photo credit: Purr Photography

If you can't adopt, foster.
If you can't foster, sponsor.
If you can't sponsor, volunteer.
If you can't volunteer, donate.
If you can't donate, educate, network and crossword.
EVERYONE can do something, large or small, to help save a life.
(source unknown)

Nickelback "When We Stand Together" Lyric Video from Po Prostu Maro on Vimeo.

Happy Weekend! It's once again the Saturday Pet Bloggers Blog Hop - co-hosted by Two Little CavaliersLife With Dogs and Confessions of the Plume - click through to enjoy!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Furry Friend Friday: Travolta

Quick - what do you think of when you hear the name "Travolta"? Yep, me too. Dashingly dark and handsome, mysterious eyes, a big heart and the sweetest soul, right? Meet Travolta, the canine version. This boy is A-mazing.


Travolta is a four year-old terrier mix, adopted a couple of years ago, only to have been returned now. The humans got divorced, and no one seemed to care enough to keep him. I can't help but think, no wonder there was a divorce! So now he sits in the kennel, without a home. Not even a foster home. Those are all full. This poor boy is not surviving the lonely kennel life very well. He needs a Thundershirt to help quell the anxieties that are overtaking him.

Why anxious? Travolta is a people-dog. Just like there are people-persons, dogs can be like that, too. He lives and breathes for the companionship of humans. It was humans who caused him to end up in a rescue in the first place, it was humans who adopted him, only to return him two years later. And yet, he is still full of trust and loyalty when it comes to his two-legged fellow creatures. This guy knows how to spell f-o-r-g-i-v-e!

Travolta loves when the volunteers come to walk the dogs and spend time with them. He gets depressed, though, when it's time to go back to his room, because he knows those people will be leaving - and won't be back for a few hours. Who knows, maybe he's afraid he's being abandoned yet again. All he wants is a little love. He offers everything he can in return. He's a good boy - leash-trained, housebroken, able to follow basic commands. He must sit at the kennel wondering what he's done wrong.

He'll need someone who will be with him when he goes outside, because he's a fence-jumper. He loves walkies, though, as well as playing with his toys. He gets along well with children and other dogs, doesn't need to be crated, and is an all-around good boy.

Up-to-date with vaccinations, neutered and microchipped, Travolta is more than ready to go Home. If you live in the Chicagoland area and would like to foster or adopt him, he is available through Almost Home Foundation.

I made a wish upon a star, I turned around and there you were.
And now here we are.

Fab Feline Friday: Amelia

Do  you believe in destiny? Karma? Divine intervention? Amelia ended up at a high-kill shelter, her fate almost doomed to "death row". Yet she was there for over a year. It must have been clear that she was meant to live, meant to have a future. Something very special about her must have radiated. Fate, aided by helping hands and kind hearts, changed her course. She was taken in by a rescue organization.
Now this beauty awaits her own forever home.

Take a look at this face. Imagine waking in the morning to see this angel by your side. The chance to make her purr in contentment, just by petting her beautiful, soft fur. The gratitude to you reflected in those golden eyes. The knowledge you would feel in your very heart and soul, that you were the keeper of her future, the eraser of her past.

Amelia is a stunning, yet gentile, three year-old girl with a gorgeous coat of white and grey fur. Understandably, she can be a little shy at first, but she warms up quickly. She would be best as an only pet; other cats seem to frighten her, and she has not had exposure to dogs. Although she is not fond of being held, she loves when you pet her. She will lay next to you on the couch while you watch TV.

Looking for a furry soul mate? Want the good in the Universe to surround you? Consider this peaceful, gentle, pretty girl. Amelia is up-to-date with vaccinations, spayed and microchipped, ready to go home with you. She's been given a second chance - if you'd like to be the one to fulfill her destiny, and you live in the Chicagoland area, she is available through Almost Home Foundation.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TNR: A Day With The Cat Man

I had the pleasure again recently of tagging along with Kurt Meyer, a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) expert, on one of his many missions. TNR is a practice whereby feral cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, marked for future identification by a procedure called eartipping, then returned to their original location. It has been gaining widespread support in many communities as the best approach in managing feral cat populations. Along with the dedication of a colony caretaker - someone who assumes the responsibility of ensuring the cats are provided with food, fresh water, and shelter from the elements if possible - it is the most humane way we can treat the strays that live in our neighborhoods with us.

Mr. October, AHA's "Hot Men of Compassion" 2009 calendar

In the midst of corporate buildings, a hotel and a myriad of townhome complexes sits an old farm property. Although no longer tilled and farmed, the owners fought off the harassing efforts of builders to retain their land and their home. I wish you could experience it. It's beautiful here - full of mature trees and shrubbery, flower beds, expansive lawns and even the old barn. It is a pure oasis of Nature tucked away in the jungle of concrete suburbia.

Many cats call this property home, too. Here they find peace and tranquility, and shelter from the elements as well as dangerous traffic and wildlife predators. The farm owners have always provided well for these cats, and over the years were able to trap many and have them spayed or neutered. But there still remained a few intact, and we know how well cats perform at multiplying themselves, given a chance.

The stage is set

So the Cat Man came to the rescue. Bringing his standard equipment, he was well prepared. Through experience, Kurt has found that the wooden drop trap system performs better than the usual Have-a-Heart metal trap cage. I, myself, having seen the use of both, also think this drop trap is superior. It is made with lightweight wood (think plywood) and wrapped with nylon netting - neither of which could accidentally cause harm to a trapped, frightened cat. It is extremely effective in getting the job done. To make one yourself, check out these instructions, or this Fact Sheet provided by Alley Cat Allies.

Note the string

The land owner/colony caretaker withheld feeding from the day prior, to increase the temptation of the food waiting inside the trap. Setting the stage is relatively simple. Placing the propped-up trap in the usual feeding location at the usual feeding time, and setting down just a bit of food at the far end of the trap, Kurt then runs a string from the trap's wood prop stick away to a distance where he can remain out of view from approaching kitties (but still be able to see the trap himself).
Then he waits.

Covering prevents frightening the cat

Once a cat enters the trap, becomes preoccupied with the food opposite the raised end of the trap, Kurt briskly tugs the string to pull the stick that props it up - dropping the crate over and around the cat. Should more than one cat enter at a time, space is no problem because this trap is large - both high and wide. And because the closing of the trap depends on Kurt pulling the string, he has complete control over exactly when the best time would be to activate the trap. With a Have-a-Heart trap, the metal trap door springs shut once the cat steps on the trigger.

Covered carrier for transport 

Immediately after, Kurt quickly wraps a sheet completely around the trap. When cats realize they are ensnared, they tend to freak out. Kurt explains that by enclosing them in the sheet, cats feel a sense of calmness and sit quietly. This makes the next step easier, and prevents a cat from causing possible self-injury from thrashing about.

Aligning carrier with door/passage

The next step is to align a covered carrier with the trap's "door". With the open end of the carrier snuggly against the trap, Kurt then slides up the "door", allowing the cat to run into the carrier. Then he quickly closes the carrier gate, and places it in the quiet seclusion of his car. Now it's time for rinse and repeat, until all possible cats have been trapped for the day.

Sliding up door/loose gate to enclose cat in carrier

Because many of the cats in this colony had previously been trapped and neutered, there were a few false catches. Checking their ears for signs of "tipping", where a TNR cat's ear is snipped to denote having been spayed or neutered, Kurt found that some had already been done. So he just released them at that point. Yes, they ran like hell!

I found it very interesting to learn why eartipping procedures have changed over the years. The cats we met that day were prime examples of why the vertical cut is no longer the standard. These were black cats, and some of them had longer fur. With all the dark fur on their ears, it was hard to see the vertical slits! The standard now for eartipping is to snip horizontally across the top of the left ear. This is much easier to see without close inspection (not always a possibility with skittish ferals). We certainly wouldn't want to unnecessarily put a cat through the trauma of a second neutering trip!

Plan B for reticent cats

Day turned to night as we waited to catch as many as we could. Kurt moved the trap to the driveway, where it would be more in the open, and hopefully more likely to be visited by those that were, so far, too wary to approach. He also added some strong-smelling canned food as an additional attractant. We waited further down the driveway in the car, watching with string in hand. The farm owner knew of one easily identifiable male that we really hoped we could trap. That male was, however, a smart little bugger. There was a possum that Kurt had to shoo away at one point, though - that little one was dying to get at the food!

Covering the trap after cat caught

Once finished trapping, Kurt takes the carriers home for the night. Keeping them in a quiet, non-threatening place, they rest for their big day. The following morning, he returned to the farm in hopes of trapping more, before heading to PAWS Chicago where the procedure is offered at greatly reduced rates for ferals. A large male and a female entered the trap together. When Kurt pulled the drop stick, however, the male jumped, hitting the top of the trap - and enabling the female to escape through the space provided by the momentarily lifted trap. The male turned out to be eartipped and Kurt released him.

After performing volunteer work at PAWS while waiting out the few hours, the cats were ready at 4 in the afternoon to be taken back home - where Kurt released them back onto the property they call home. This is the most important step in TNR; once trapped, the cats should be returned to their original location. The only exception is when a cat, or more likely kitten, is determined to have been socialized with humans or capable of it. These cats are taken into foster homes and become available for adoption. That weekend he successfully TNR'd four cats from this property. Each was examined, vaccinated, spayed  or neutered, and eartipped by a veterinarian at PAWS.

The Fall is a good time to consider TNR for neighborhood strays. Before the harsh winter sets in, you have the opportunity to rescue kittens and socialized cats. For the ferals, you enable them to remain in their home area while at the same time prevent future unwanted litters from adding to the local feline population.

Kurt volunteers with Feral Fixers, a local organization dedicated to TNR, the education, coaching and promotion of it, and all feral cats. Just this month, Feral Fixers celebrated having TNR'd 3000 cats in their short history, among their many accomplishments. He is also a volunteer of Friendly and Feral Cat Rescue and Almost Home Foundation, through which he fosters cats he has trapped that are deemed suitable for pets in homes.

Love Thy Neighbor
Stray to Extreme
Alley Cat Allies
Catch Me If You Can

Saturday, October 22, 2011

National Pit Bull Awareness Day 2o11

Like other breeds before them, pit bulls are the latest of dogs that were once revered, loved, trusted as family pets - and now vilified as the embodiment of aggression, danger and distrust. I've written before about the senselessness of society's current views of these dogs and the breed specific bans that now target them. BSL is like throwing the baby out with the bath water. It not only does not solve any problems, it creates new ones.

Aside from the fact that there is no such breed in the first place, or that we have no reliable way of determining the "type" of dog meant to be banned, the sheer lunacy of attempting to decimate a particular dog into extinction is obviously not a solution to what essentially is an attempt to control errant canine behavior. It's the owner, stupid, should be the rallying cry here. And a reminder that all dogs, just like people, are individuals. BSL is discrimination, period. We all know that is wrong when applied to humans; we need to realize it's wrong no matter who or what it is aimed at.

Today is a "day to encourage responsible guardianship of pit bull terriers and change misconceptions about America's dog" - from the
Best Friends Animal Society. The event was created by Bless the Bullys to do just as stated, to bring awareness to the realities of pit bulls. Our media tends to sensationalize, distort, even mislead the public regarding these dogs, and events like the ones going on across the country today are needed to counter the negative stereotypes that have portrayed these dogs as vicious, wild creatures. Fact over fiction, you might say.

Our favorite rescue organization, Almost Home Foundation, will be promoting the truths and highlighting all the positive qualities of bully breeds, as well as encouraging the public to meet and get to know the many pitties the organization has available for adoption. Almost Home Foundation does not shy away from taking on bully breeds; instead, the organization welcomes opportunities to rescue these dogs and find them loving homes.

Almost Home Foundation offers this flyer, which you can download from the link -
Almost Home Foundation

Help spread awareness, encourage humane treatment and consideration of dogs.

And please, before you sure to sign the petition (above, right) to tell Denmark to stop banning dog breeds!


Friday, October 21, 2011

Fab Feline Friday: Yarnball

I love cats. All kinds of cats. If I had to pick a favorite, though...well, it would have to be the talkative kind. Yes, often overheard at my house is someone muttering, "It's just Mom talking to the animals again." True. I do. Sue me. What is more fun than a cat who has conversations with you, I ask? Yarnball is just such a cat.


This boy is a full-size feline; not fat, not grotesquely big - nothing like that. He's just not a whimpy fluff of fur. He's a real cat. Solid, tough, full of play and devilish antics. And he loves to talk. Word is, he'll tell you about his day no sooner than your walking in the door after work. And you'd better listen to him.

Okay, so a cat that talks - and has an attitude. Can anyone say c-a-t? Meow. Yarnball is a playful boy, full of energy and a zest for life. Can you just imagine sharing your home, your day, with this guy? He's a handsome fella at that, too. A good-looking 2 year-old, that loves to play, explore, talk to you, greet your guests. He prefers to be the boss, so he'd be great as an only cat.

Looking for one cat to keep you company, make you smile, play with you? Consider Yarnball. He's available through Almost Home Foundation, if you live in the Chicagoland area. Yarnball is healthy, vaccinated and neutered, litter box trained, and ready to come home with you.


Only those who can handle furry different opinions need apply.

Furry Friend Friday: Vampire

B'wahaha...I vant you to take me home! Yep, I've got a timely name, just around the corner from Halloween. Am I anything like a vampire for real? Well...I will suck up a bunch of your time and energy - hey, I'm a puppy, that's what we're all about! But otherwise, I'm just a cute little baby with a scary name.


What do I look like to you? Give up? I'm a schnug! Pretty fancy, huh? Actually, that just means I'm pug and schnauzer. It's a pretty good combination, if I do say so myself. I'm all black, and I'm worried that no one will want to adopt me just because of my color. People get kinda weird about black pets. I'm just like CindyLu, though; a perfect little pup who just wants to be understood for who I am.

I need someone who can spend time with me, teaching me how to be a good dog and an upstanding member of the family. I'd better add that someone will need some patience, because as a baby I'm sure to make some mistakes before I get it all right. I really want to be a good boy, though, and try my hardest!

What do I have to offer in return? A little ball of fur full of excitement to greet you at the door, play with you, get you out of the house for walkies in the crisp Fall air, and snuggle with you on chilly nights. I can become your bestest buddy. You'll get a barrel of laughs watching me run zoomies in the snow this winter!

If you live in the Chicagoland area and would like to meet me, I'm available through Almost Home Foundation. All routine vaccinations, neuter and microchipping are covered.


B'wahaha....I'm vaiting for you!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Word Wednesday: Thank You Senator

From Senator Dick Durbin; if you live in my state and send an email, you'll receive this, too -

Thank you for contacting me to discuss the treatment of dogs in commercial “puppy mills.” I appreciate hearing from you and share your interest in this issue.
Puppy mills are commercial dog breeding facilities that place profits above the animals' welfare. Dogs that are bred or raised in these operations are often subjected to substandard conditions. The animals are given little or no human contact and may be warehoused in unsanitary wire cages stacked one on top of another. Proper veterinary care may be infrequent or nonexistent. Unfortunately, puppy mills supply hundreds of thousands of puppies to pet stores and families every year.
That is why, on March 31, 2011, I introduced the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act. Under the PUPS Act, breeders who sell dogs directly to the public, and sell more than 50 dogs per year, would need to obtain a federal license and could be subject to inspection. The bill also would require that dogs at commercial breeding facilities be given adequate space and opportunity for regular exercise.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General audited the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's handling of puppy mill investigations. USDA's Inspector General found several major flaws with these investigations, including an ineffective enforcement process for repeat violators of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the improper documentation of AWA violations.

The Inspector General's report also found that, due to a loophole in the AWA, many large puppy mills are able to escape licensing and inspection requirements by selling dogs over the internet. The PUPS Act closes this loophole and prevents puppy mill operators from bypassing the laws governing the safe and humane treatment of animals by selling dogs directly to the public.
I will keep your thoughts in mind as I continue to work to prevent the mistreatment of dogs and to ensure that USDA addresses the issues that have been identified in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's handling of puppy mill investigations.
Thank you again for your letter. Please feel free to keep in touch.

Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator

Ask your representatives to support this billClose Internet Loopholes for Puppy Mill Sales

Muddy Paws Shelter Owner Sentenced

"This was not a rescue, it was a torture camp for animals and the defendant was the prison guard," -Assistant State's Attorney Suzanne Willett.

Diane Eldrup, owner of Muddy Paws Shelter in Lake County, Illinois, was sentenced yesterday to 30 months in prison. Judge James Booris asked, "Why would she rescue them to death? It's beyond comprehension." This case has had people in the area shaking their heads, and many sick to their stomachs, for months.

Last December, after being alerted by Eldrup's estranged husband to a horrific situation at her property, investigators found 14 dogs, 3 birds and a possum dead amid an array of trash, scattered empty food and water bowls, urine and feces. 4 live dogs and 2 live cats were recovered. Garbage bags filled with excrement were found stashed, her 8 year old son had been sleeping right next to where dead animals lie, and the dogs in the kennel died locked in cages without food or water.

After the snow melted, an additional 8 to 10 carcasses were discovered. One of these was a chihuahua adopted by Eldrup, found just outside her son's bedroom window. Autopsies of a few of the dead animals concluded death by starvation and dehydration. At the time of her arrest, Eldrup claimed she had run into financial difficulties, and had been struggling to deal with an impending divorce, eventually shutting down emotionally.

Prosecutors pointed to the fact that she chose to take in the dogs, did not ask for help, intentionally hid the results of her neglect, and had at one time stated she resented the dogs for ruining her life. They brought Cindy Williams, animal control officer, to the witness stand, to narrate the photos taken of the carcasses found after the snow had melted and describe what she witnessed in the December investigation.  Also taking the witness stand was Earl Feldman, whose pit bull Rocky had been boarded at Muddy Paws for 12 days. He testified that when he returned for his dog, Eldrup handed him a urine and feces encrusted leash, stating that Rocky had not faired well. The dog had lost 23 pounds, had 11 wounds, a staph infection, developed a heart murmur, and required $7,000 of vet care to recover.

Photo credit: Paul Valade, Daily Herald

A jury convicted her of 18 counts of animal torture and 18 counts of aggravated animal cruelty last month. In considering sentencing, Judge Booris addressed the defense pleas that Eldrup suffered from mental illness - obsessive-compulsive disorder and depressive disorder, and from post-traumatic stress disorder due to previous abuse. He chose to balance the need to address the atrocities of the crimes committed with the contention that he believed Eldrup was sincerely remorseful and capable of rehabilitation; she was sentenced to 30 months in jail, concurrent with 30 months of probation, with "periodic imprisonment" provisions to leave during the day for work, counseling, community service of 1,000 hours (excluding any contact with dogs) and time with her son. He stated that it was important for a child to have a mother and a father. Currently, his father has temporary custody.

Eldrup tearfully acknowledged her guilt and remorse over her actions, although she also attempted to blame her ex-husband. Judge Booris stated that many people have problems as she did, but don't retaliate against dogs because they're upset with their husband. "It takes a certain mean spirit, a certain meanness of heart," he said, "She was running a concentration camp for dogs, taking those dogs in so she could kill them."

The surviving animals are now thriving, and have been adopted into homes. This was the longest sentence for animal abuse in the county's history.

Source: Chicago Tribune
          Chicago Sun-Times
          Daily Herald

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The PUPS Act Controversy

This week over at Be the Change for Animals, the featured cause revolves around the bill introduced in Congress by my own state's Senator Dick Durbin and Louisiana's Senator David Vitter - the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act (PUPS Act). I consider this a pivotal moment, when perhaps we could begin as a nation to address the atrocities enacted upon innocent dogs in the name of making a buck. State and local legislation regarding puppy mills has been inconsistent, heavily influenced by local interests, and has failed to curtail these monsters' horrendous treatment of animals in their care.

What initially provoked Senator Durbin and Senator Vitter to write this bill was the report issued after an investigation was done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Inspector General of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). I encourage you to examine this report, to fully understand the motivations of the proposed bill. This scathing report detailed severe deficiencies in the performance of the very agency entrusted with ensuring the health and welfare of animals.

In addition to the department deciding to take administrative steps to correct these deficiencies and improve their performance, the senators felt there was a need for clarification of some requirements and designations, as well as national regulation over commercial breeding businesses that have found a loophole to avoid the very regulations meant to restrict what can only be considered their devious, unscrupulous and inhumane behaviors. This loophole is a glaring one. While a breeder might be subject to inspections and subsequent penalties should they not manage their business in appropriate ways, that same breeder is under no scrutiny or restrictions if they sell their "product" (puppies) over the internet. Thus, the senators sought to close this loophole through national legislation.

Why is national legislation necessary? Sales via the internet represent a multitude of locations, and are therefore governed by interstate regulation; states alone cannot legislate or regulate general online activity, as it falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government, Congress, per the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Sales of puppies over the internet have not been under the scrutiny of inspections or enforcement of regulations - large-scale breeding operations have been able to circumvent oversight and licensing by selling online. Given the current propensity unscrupulous breeders have for internet selling, legislation is needed in order to close this loophole. The PUPS Act was thus born.

An overview of the problems associated with regulating puppy mills shed light on a few issues that APHIS has been inefficient or unable to enforce, and led to additional specifications in the bill. These are meant to strengthen and clarify the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act. The bill was created to provide guidelines for managing safe, sanitary breeding enterprises, with humane treatment of the dogs.

  • In summary:
    Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act - Amends the Animal Welfare Act to define a "high volume retail breeder" as a person who, in commerce, for compensation or profit: (1) has an ownership interest in or custody of one or more breeding female dogs; and (2) sells, via any means of conveyance, more than 50 of the offspring of such dogs for use as pets in any one-year period. Considers such a breeder of dogs to be a dealer. Requires dealers to include on licensing applications and annual renewals the total number of dogs exempted from exercise on the premises of the dealer in the preceding year by a licensed veterinarian. Requires the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) to promulgate requirements for the exercise of dogs at facilities owned or operated by a dealer, including requiring daily access to exercise that: (1) allows the dogs to move sufficiently in a way that is not forced, repetitive, or restrictive; and (2) is in an area that is spacious, cleaned at least once a day, free of infestation by pests or vermin, and designed to prevent the dogs from escaping. Allows an exemption if: (1) a licensed veterinarian determines that a dog should not exercise because of the health, condition, or well-being of the dog; and (2) such determination is reviewed and updated at least once every 30 days by the veterinarian, unless the basis for the determination is a permanent condition. Subjects such a determination to review and approval by the Secretary.
In short, if this bill is passed, anyone selling 50 or more dogs which are offspring of breeding dogs they own or co-own would be required to be licensed, subject to inspection, and required to provide reasonable exercise in a clean environment. Puppy mills would fall into this category; they would be required to provide space for the dogs to get exercise, excluding their usual "tricks" of considering forced-movement or repetitive-motion tactics as "exercise", and in a clean area. Puppy mills are infamous for allowing filthy, rodent and roach-infested surroundings for their dogs, and for not providing any opportunity for the dogs to stand on solid ground, let alone for running and playing free in a fenced or otherwise safely confined area.

Photo Courtesy of Purr Photography

The reason for considering a high-volume breeder a dealer? Simple. With the current provisions of the Animal Welfare Act, retail pet stores are exempt from regulation, on the basis and assumption that stores are supplied by licensed and regulated breeders. Wholesale breeders selling to stores are required to be licensed and regulated. With breeders now utilizing the internet to sell instead, a gap has become apparent whereby breeders are enabled to sell without being licensed or regulated. Large, commercial breeders with no regard to the health and welfare of the dogs they sell and a single-minded purpose of cashing in on those dogs, have taken advantage of this gap, circumventing legal licensing, regulation and inspection oversight, by selling directly online through attractive websites. These breeders of course being what we refer to as puppy mills.

So. Through enactment of this bill, breeders of 50 or more dogs per year would be required to be licensed, obligated to abide by the stipulated AWA regulations, and subject to inspection - regardless of whether they sell their dogs to stores, via the internet or classified ads, or in person. Through the inclusion of all heavy-volume breeders, APHIS will have the authority and means to regulate these breeders, and thus enforce humane treatment of the dogs being bred and sold. With this authority, APHIS will have the ability to perform the functions the department is intended to do. Dogs will have a better chance of being protected by law. Puppy mills will not have the internet to hide in.

Sounds good, no? Then one might have to ask, why is there such a loud, angry backlash regarding this proposed bill? There are breeders who have not had to be licensed in the past, but will now fall into the category of required licensing. These breeders are mostly responsible, respectable, humane dog enthusiasts, and this bill would place them under scrutiny they have not had to deal with in the past. Understandably, some are worried that they will be restricted in what they believe to be the best way to breed and raise their dogs. Any threat of governmental oversight and regulations can cause that. Some simply do not understand how the bill would translate to their breeding business, and fear the unknown.

Then there are the breeders who have followed their own set of rules, perhaps contrary to what experts and professionals advise, and now feel they will no longer have free rein in how they handle their dogs. This group is suspect; although some may just have novel ideas, many of these are haphazard, playing-around-with-breeding-to-bring-in-some-cash, "backyard breeders". Do we want them to be licensed and regulated? You betcha. A lot of damage can happen to dogs with this type of breeder, it's not only the puppy mills that wreak havoc on their dogs for the sake of profit.

Lastly, there are those who, knowingly or unwittingly, follow the piped-out messages promulgated by the infamous organization, Although it purports to represent the interests of animals, and animal rescues and shelters, it is in fact a political front for corporations and businesses that consider animal welfare issues as impediments to their profit-making potential. Quite craftily created, it pits animal-lovers against themselves, driving a divide between groups of people all working for the betterment of animals. This is a proven political tactic; divide and conquer. To understand the source and true intent of this organizational facade, please listen to Rachel Maddow as she explains:

You can read more information at

Whenever someone starts spouting about the HSUS, PETA, ASPCA, and throwing "facts" around about how these groups extort money for personal gain, you can pretty much be assured the person has at least fallen unwittingly under the influence of HumaneWatch. Not to mention, there are those who are working for the organization, paid to continue the spread of lies and deceit. Whenever an issue arises that involves animal welfare, particularly when it may impact how much someone or some business can profit, you can bet on these HumaneWatch spouters to appear. Their arguments have absolutely very little-to-nothing to do with the specifications of this bill, but they reared their ugly heads in the comment section of Be the Change for Animals. The crazy, rambling arguments against this bill don't even make sense.

That's okay. Because at the end of the day, what matters is doing what's right. And I trust that our country will not cave to these special-interests, not to mention the preferences of the sick people who run puppy mills. And Senator Durbin's bill is a sound one, one that will help eliminate much of the suffering way too many dogs currently endure at the hands of evil people. Dogs are man's best friend, and finally man is stepping up to behave like one.

Please join us in the fight against puppy mills; go to Close Internet Loopholes for Puppy Mill Sales and lend your voice to your representatives in Congress on behalf of the voiceless dogs.
Post to Facebook, Twitter, emails:
            Stop puppy mills from hiding behind the internet! #BTC4A

And spread the word, about the horrors of puppy mills, the sales of puppy mill dogs in pet stores like Petland, and the need for federal oversight on large dog breeding operations' sales via the internet. Above all, don't buy a puppy online, from a pet store or classified ad. Educate yourself and those you know.
Dogs are depending on you.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Love Thy Neighbor

Hello, October! Hello, Fall! What does this time of year bring thoughts of? Cooler days, less sunshine, apples, Halloween? This season is full of changes to our daily lives. It's also a reminder that Winter is on the way - and with it, for many of us cold, snow, and icy winds blowing.

Photo courtesy of Purr Photography

Now is a good time to consider your neighbor. No, not the humans in the house next door or across the street. The neighbor that lives in your area with no roof, no furnace, no shelter from those cold winds - your neighborhood stray cat.

Through Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR), you can ensure at least that the little furries won't be multiplying into litters of babies that can't survive the harsh elements of Winter. TNR works very simply; strays are trapped, transported to a place that will neuter or spay and "ear-tip" them for future reference, then taken back to their "neighborhood", the colony they've lived with.

By eliminating the possibilities of propagation, a colony of cats can be kept to a limited number - and thereby manageable for the people who take it upon themselves to ensure the kitties have food and a place of refuge. These people, colony caretakers, do us all a great service, but none greater than for the cats themselves that can't help it they were born outdoors.

The cats benefit by reducing hormones in males that lead to territorial fighting, and females that no longer endure pregnancy after pregnancy. TNR helps bring peace and harmony, and stability, to a colony. The nights are quieter, there is less urine-marking, and man lives with  nature rather than fighting against it.

Perhaps the greatest result of TNR is when a cat trapped is found to be quite docile, domesticated and fully capable of being someone's pet. When that happens, a cat is rescued off the street and placed in a loving home.

Now that makes my heart warm!

Happy National Feral Cat Day!

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