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Tag: adoption

Photo of “death row” hug helps two Atlanta pups avoid getting put down

1deathrowhug

Here’s a picture that turned out to be worth much more than a thousand words.

When an Atlanta rescue organization posted this photo on Facebook of one dog hugging another — a shot taken at a shelter shortly before both were scheduled to be put down — it was only a matter of hours before they were taken in by a foster parent.

Along with the photo was this explanation from Angels Among Us Pet Rescue in Atlanta, written from the perspective of one of the dogs:

“I’m Kala. This is Keira. We’re so scared in here. The people working in the shelters see how scared we are but just told each other that today is our deadline.

“We have to have someone rescue us or we’ll be ‘next.’ Keira is black and not a ‘real boxer,’ just a mix. She’s so brave and tells me it will be okay no matter what happens. She tells me to be brave too but I don’t know if I can be.

“Can you see our faces. Keira knows what will happen. You can see it in her eyes. She’s putting on a brave face for sure but I can feel her heart beating fast while I’m clinging to her.

“If no one saves us, someone will take her away from me. I’ll see her as she goes down the hallway. She won’t come back and I’ll cry.”

Within a few hours, both dogs were taken into foster care by an unnamed veterinarian from the Atlanta area, according to MyFoxAtlanta.com.

The photo was shared thousands of times on social media, and received thousands of ‘likes.’

(Photo: by Malena Evans, courtesy of Angels Among Us)

Mayor: Rescuers should focus on local dogs

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Mayor Shelley Vana warned pet rescue organizations this week to stop bringing homeless dogs from other cities and states into Palm Beach County, saying the practice contributed to the deaths of local dogs in need of homes.

Finding homes for local shelter animals is made harder by well-meaning rescue groups that transport dogs and cats into the county for adoption events, the mayor said.

“How does flying or busing in puppies from other regions … help the dogs in this community?” Vana asked during a press conference at the county shelter on Tuesday. “How does it benefit dogs that are going to die here?”

The county’s animal shelter near West Palm Beach takes in about  15,000 dogs and cats a year. It manages to find homes for about 80 percent of the dogs (so far this year), and puts down the rest.

Included in that 80 percent of dogs who get a second chance, though, are dogs pulled from the shelter by rescue organizations — some of  the same organizations the mayor is being critical of.

In light of that, and the mayor’s very non-global perspective, her plea/warning/request strikes me as a little selfish.  It’s almost as if she’s saying Palm Beach’s bounties, beauties and kindness should be reserved only for natives.

What seems to be prompting the mayor’s push is the county’s quest to reach the admirable goal outlined in its 10-year “Count Down To Zero” program. Launched in 2014, the goal is to become a no-kill shelter by 2024.

The program calls for increasing spay-and-neuter efforts while encouraging more adoptions,  according to the Sun-Sentinel.

About 1,800 dogs and 8,300 cats were euthanized at the Palm Beach County animal shelter last year.

Because many rescue groups have “ignored” the county’s request that they stop bringing in outside dogs and cats for adoption, Vana went public Tuesday with her plea for rescue groups to focus on helping local animals.

The county wants rescue groups to stop bringing in outside animals — some from Broward and Miami-Dade counties, some from Alabama, Tennessee and other states — until the county shelter can find homes for 90 percent of the dogs and cats it receives.

The mayor’s concerns were echoed by Dianne Sauve, the county’s director of animal care and control, who agreed local dogs should be put first.

“These guys deserve a home,” Sauve said. “Let’s try to clean up our own backyard.”

Others think the mayor is going too far.

“It doesn’t matter where the dog is born, if the dog is need,” said Lauree Simmons, president of Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Wellington.

Simmons estimates that her group has 350 dogs from Palm Beach County, but it also has volunteer foster homes across the state that help find dogs in need. The group takes dogs from the county shelter and from other shelters across the state that would otherwise be euthanized, she said.

The Sun-Sentinel reports that Tuesday’s press conference was prompted by the actions of another local rescue group that, on Saturday, brought in 60 pets from Alabama for an adoption event.

According to the Palm Beach Post, local philanthropist Lois Pope worked with the American Humane Association to fly 60 pets from Greenville, Ala. Assisting Pope in that effort was part-time Palm Beach resident Beth Stern, wife of Howard Stern.

“I’m on a mission,” Pope explained. “I want nothing more than to save dogs from being euthanized in gas chambers. I want to take them from kill shelters and find them forever homes.”

Even if that means Palm Beach County might have to work even harder to reach the numbers it wants to reach, it’s hard to find any fault in that.

(Photo: Lannis Waters / Palm Beach Post)

Is Fox News biased (against big dogs)?

Of all the adoptable pet segments we’ve seen on local TV news, this one — featuring a large dog named Titus — might be our favorite.

Right off the bat, we’d say a dog who has been labeled as one who “needs to live alone” — code for not getting along with other dogs — probably shouldn’t appear on a live TV adoption segment with other dogs.

In the video above, Titus appears on the Fox morning show Good Day New York with animal activist Cornelia Guest and two other dogs — “little treasures,” as she calls them, named Arabella and Nonny.

An 8-year-old Saint Bernard, Titus “wants to be the only dog, he doesn’t want to be with other brothers and sisters,” Guest — a vegan, socialite, caterer and animal activist — explains, while holding the two smaller dogs, just a few feet away, in her arms.

Titus, though neither the show hosts nor Guest seem to notice, is sitting like a statue, entirely focused on the two small dogs as the hosts ask Guest what he likes to eat.

It’s right about then that Titus begins advancing in the direction of the smaller dogs — and Guest’s face, just for a moment, takes on the horrified look of someone who is about to be dinner.

Being a Saint Bernard, Titus is not to be swayed, and even though Guest tries to spin out of his way, he still manages to get in a good sniff of one of her little treasures, which is probably all he wanted in the first place.

After that, he’s tugged out of camera range by a stage hand, and remains out of view for the rest of the segment, in which Guest goes on to tout the other dogs — as well as the vegan chocolate chip cookies her company makes.

All this leads us to ask, did Titus get the respect he deserved when he appeared on Good Day New York? It seemed every remark the hosts made about him was based on big dog stereotypes. It seems he was rudely led off camera for merely wanting to satisfy his sniffer.

Might Fox News, in addition to all the others it so closely holds, have a bias against big dogs?

Compare and contrast the first video with how respectfully Titus was treated, and how calmly he behaved, in an earlier adoptable dog segment on New York’s CBS2. He was quiet and reserved — even though there, too, he was paired with another dog.

We won’t go so far as to suggest there is a different, more dog eat dog, more hate and fear mongering vibe in the Fox News studios, and that maybe Titus was picking up on that. (Woops, I think we just did.)

We’ll just say that this proves dogs, unlike Fox News folk, are unpredictable.

Perhaps I’m biased, and perhaps it’s mean to add this, but I definitely detect a higher degree of on-air air-headedness among the Fox hosts than their CBS counterparts.

I base this on their comments, such as:

She: “I hope Titus doesn’t take a bite of your … whiteus.”

He: “I’ve got a new name for him, Cujo.”

He: “This is a great big dog. I think it’s one of those St. Bernards that usually … they have whiskey and they find those stranded mountain hikers.”

He: “Oh, is he not supposed to go near that dog? He’s not biting them is he?”

All that said, and while admitting to our anti-Fox News bias, we think any network, station or news outlet that uses valuable time/space to showcase adoptable dogs can’t be all bad.

Titus is available for adoption at the Humane Society of New York, as are those little treasures, Nonny and Arabella.

Shelter mutts show their artistic side

It’s not every day that a group of shelter dogs has its own art exhibit.

This one opens Sunday in São Paulo and it’s aimed at raising awareness about the plight of Brazil’s stray dogs.

Shelter dogs from Procure1Amigo were used to create the 18 artworks by shaking off the paint (edible and non-toxic) that was poured on them.

The paintings go on sale when the exhibit opens Sunday at São Paulo’s Perestroika. Photos of the dogs shaking their way through the creative process, channeling their inner Jackson Pollock, will also be for sale.

And the artists will be available for adoption.

It’s part of campaign called “Canismo,” an artistic movement supporting the adoption of shelter animals.

canismo

“The shake of the paint reveals a remarkable exercise of freedom, where each drop of ink bears the stain of prejudice,” reads a statement on the Canismo website.

“The combination of different colors in the paintings shows the mixture of breeds, as random and as beautiful as each mongrel dog.”

The brightly colored paints were made using corn starch and food coloring.

(Photo: Courtesy of Canismo)

Yes, pit bulls can break through walls

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A dog belonging to a misunderstood breed has helped a boy with a misunderstood disorder show a previously unseen side of himself, and his mother couldn’t be happier.

Amanda Granados says her son Joey was diagnosed at age 7 with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism that contributed to his getting suspended from school six times — all while in kindergarten.

Joey couldn’t sit still. He sometimes struck himself. And he hated being touched by others. His mother says he had never let her hug and kiss him.

While he was a whiz at math and had a near photographic memory, Joey always had difficulty making friends.

“He has a hard time reading social cues or facial expressions, and there’s awkwardness around making friends, said Granados, a 36-year-old single mother of three boys.

Then, a few months ago, the family adopted a pit bull named Roxy from a Los Angeles shelter — and Joey suddenly had the kind of friend you don’t have to make.

As Joey, now 14, explains it, “I didn’t have too many friends growing up, but then we got Roxy and I’ve been able to make friends ever since. At home, I’ve been able to hold my mom’s hand, kiss her, hug her and do a lot of things that I hadn’t been able to do growing up. She’s opened up my heart.”

“I get emotional thinking about it,” his mother said. “For all those years, he wouldn’t hold my hand, he wouldn’t hug me — it was all part of the autism — but this dog has taught him how to give and show affection. He holds my hand now. He hugs me. The first time I got a kiss on the cheek was when Roxy came home.”

A photo on the Internet led Joey to his new best friend. Joey had been asking his mom for a dog, and she saw that the Best Friends Pet Adoption & Spay/Neuter Center in Los Angeles was planning an event where a shelter dog could be adopted for $10.

“We were looking through pictures online, and Roxy’s picture made us fall in love with her,” Granados told Today.com.

roxy2When they went to the adoption event, Joey and Roxy immediately connected.

“As soon as Roxy met Joey, she totally ignored me and his mother,” said adoptions specialist Denise Landaverde. (That’s her, Roxy and Joey in the photo to the left.) “Amanda was happily surprised to see Roxy go straight to Joey and watch them play together. It just sealed the deal for her.”

Granados said she initially had some qualms due to the bad things she has heard about pit bulls, but seeing her son and Roxy together made those concerns disappear.

“She is literally his best friend,” Granados said. “He can be in the foulest mood, and she comes along and it’s like a light. She doesn’t care about his differences — there’s no judgment with her — she just loves him.”

Joey agreed. “If I’ve been having a bad day, Roxy can hear a tone in my voice,” he said. “She runs up to me to give me a giant hug and lick me to death and do almost anything she can to make me happy.”

Studies have shown that dogs can give children with autism much-needed companionship and help them learn compassion, responsibility and even social skills, such as making eye contact.

What has happened between Joey and Roxy speaks louder than any of those studies, though — or at least it does to Amanda Granados.

Roxy, she agrees, seems to have opened her son’s heart, and she thinks part of it may be because of what they have in common.

“Kids with autism are looked at differently and misunderstood, and so are pit bulls,” Granados said. “I think that’s why they’ve bonded.”

(Top photo courtesy of Best Friends Pet Adoption & Spay/Neuter Center; photo of Joey and Roxy courtesy of Amanda Granados)

Please help my sick, dying, fat, abused dog

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It’s no secret that a sad dog story, properly promoted on social media, can bring in some pretty huge donations — for an animal shelter, a rescue organization, or an individual.

Whether your dog needs life-saving surgery, or even an intense diet regimen, you don’t have to be a nonprofit organization to ask the public for help — and you shouldn’t have to be.

But with the rise of social media, and online fundraising tools like GoFundMe, IndieGogo, and all those other I-would-like- some-of-your-money-please websites, there are likely more bucks than ever before being donated directly to individual dogs in need.

With all that unmonitored money pouring in, what ensures that it’s going to the rightful place — namely, helping the dog in question? What ensures any surplus won’t end up going to the dog owner’s kitchen remodel? What’s to guarantee that the sad dog story is even true in the first place?

In a word, nothing.

Just as the Internet has made us all published journalists, photographers and autobiographers, it has given us an easy route to becoming professional fund-raisers.

What gets lost in that transition is knowing who we can trust.

We can only cross our fingers and hope that those engaging in outright fraud get caught, that those soliciting funds to help a dog don’t get too greedy, and that money sent in by good-hearted people seeking to help a dog actually goes to helping a dog.

It’s a fuzzy area — legally and morally. What accounting, if any, does a private citizen raising money to help a dog owe those who contribute?

In Oregon, at least, the answer seems to be some, at least in the view of the state  Attorney General’s Office.

Since January, the office’s charitable activities section has been looking into how Nora Vanatta spent, and is spending, all the money sent in to help Obie — the 77-pound dachshund she adopted and whose weight loss program became a much-followed story.

obienowVanatta, a veterinary technician who lives in Portland, never purported to be affiliated with a nonprofit, but she did seek and accept thousands of dollars from people around the world who were inspired by Obie’s story.

Vanatta initially fostered Obie, after reading about him on the Facebook page of Oregon Dachshund Rescue.

After Obie’s story went viral, the rescue sought to get the dog back, and filed a lawsuit. The case was later settled, and Vanatta was awarded permanent custody. (Obie is down to 22 pounds.)

Meanwhile, money — Vanatta won’t say how much — continued to come in, $15,000 of which Vanatta says was spent on lawyers she hired to fight the custody battle. Some of it went to pay for $80 bags of specialty food Obie required, and a $1,500 skin-reduction surgery.

Since January, Vanatta has been answering questions from the Attorney General’s office, which began looking into the matter after receiving complaints about how she was spending the funds, and is now in the process of working out an agreement with her.

“They wanted everything – copies of every penny in, every penny out,” she told the Oregonian.

The Attorney General’s office won’t identify the source of the complaint, and it says no wrongdoing was found in how Vanatta has spent the funds so far. (Apparently, nobody in that office full of lawyers had any problem with all the money that went to lawyers.)

But the office does disagree with how she plans to spend the rest. (Obie’s PayPal account was closed last year.)

Vanatta says the office objects to her using the money to help individual  dogs with medical needs, which is maybe a little ironic given the money was raised to help an individual dog with medical needs. The Attorney General’s office frowned upon her giving $2,000 to a family she met at the Tualatin veterinary clinic where she works to help them pay for their dog’s back surgery. Instead, the office wants her to give the money away to established nonprofits, and wants to set a deadline.

The case raises lots of interesting questions, and some disturbing ones.

We’re all for the attorney general keeping an eye on such fundraising drives; slightly less for that office dictating what good causes should receive the remainder of the money, and when.

We agree with Vanatta’s reasoning on that: “I strongly believe you do not have to be a nonprofit to do good,” she said.

What bothers us most, though, next  to Obie’s previous owners letting him get so morbidly obese, is how much of the money donated has gone to lawyers — $15,000 on the custody case, another $11,800 for lawyers to represent Vanatta in the attorney general’s investigation.

Obie may be becoming a slimmer dog, thanks in part to donations from the public, but, as always, lawyers — gobbling up the bulk of the donations — just keep getting fatter.

Pit bull stabbed at adoption event in Georgia

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A pit bull being shown at an adoption event at a PetSmart outside Atlanta on Sunday got loose from her handler, attacked a smaller dog and was repeatedly stabbed by the smaller dog’s owner.

Clara, a pit bull who was being fostered and who was taken to the event in hopes of finding an adoptive home, was euthanized due to the severity of her injuries, the local humane society said.

The smaller dog, a West Highland terrier, spent a night in an emergency vet’s office and was released to her owner Monday.

As reported in the Times-Herald, Clara, who has been living in a foster home, had been brought to the event by the Newnan-Coweta Humane Society in hopes of finding her a permanent home. The Westie belonged to a customer in the store — one who, according to witnesses, had a low opinion of pit bulls.

Witnesses say the smaller dog growled at the larger one when they walked past each other inside the store. Shortly after that, Clara pulled free from her handler and ran at the smaller dog.

The Westie’s owner tried to pull the pit bull off his dog, kicked her and stabbed her several times with a pocket knife. While doing so, some witnesses said, he was repeatedly screaming, “F—ing pit bulls!”

clara“The guy was just screaming ‘‘f***ing pit bull, why are you even allowed to have these dogs?’” Teresa Reeves, who attended the adoption even with her fiance, Mike Wohler, told the Times-Herald.

Clara was holding the smaller dog by the scruff of her neck or ear,  and both dogs were still, Reeves said. “Clara wasn’t clamped down on the dog. Mike was able to put his hands in her mouth,” she said. “…They were just standing there. It could have easily been broken up.”

After the man started stabbing the pit bull, his son screamed for him to stop. Clara is believed to have been stabbed up to six times.

PetSmart staff also attempted to break the dogs up using air horns and spray bottles.

Sandy Hiser, with the Newnan-Coweta Humane Society, said that once the dogs were separated, Clara’s wounds turned out to be worse than originally thought. She sat back and was wagging her tail when it was noticed she was bleeding, and making a gurgling noise when she breathed.

Hiser said Clara’s injuries were “so extensive that if she did pull through, it would have impacted her quality of life.”

Police responded but no charges have been filed. Hiser said an officer told her that the man “had a right to defend his dog.”

The case is still being investigated by Newnan’s animal warden.

One witness said she heard the Westie’s owner complaining about pit bulls even before the attack.

Clara was being returned to the store from a trip outside when the man said, “If you bring that f***ing pit bull near me I’m going to stab it,” said Erin Burr, who was attending the adoption event.

According to a Facebook page set up in hopes of getting Clara adopted, she’d lived over half her life in a boarding kennel. It also notes she had problems being “dog tolerant.” Posts note that the page was started after she was banned from an earlier adoption event.

(Photos from the “Clicks for Clara” Facebook page)

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