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Tag: animal shelters

“G-Force” could lead to surge in guinea pigs


Animal shelters, already swamped with dogs and cats, are bracing for an onslaught of guinea pigs as a result of the new Disney movie “G-Force.”

The movie depicts a squad of specially trained, guinea pig spies coming to the world’s rescue. But, says the Associated Press, it may end up being real-life guinea pigs who need rescuing.

Some guinea pig rescue groups, fearing a surge in guinea pig surrenders, already have posted pleas to the public to think twice before buying a guinea pig on the spur of the moment.

“I can tell you, every single rescue in the United States and abroad took a look at that movie trailer and said, ‘Oh, God, here we go,’ ” said Whitney Potsus, vice president of the Critter Connection in Durham, Conn.

The fears are based on past experience — from ”101 Dalmatians” sending thousands rushing to buy black-and-white spotted pups to surges in Chihuahua popularity after the moves “Legally Blonde” and “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.”

“We can only hope … parents will all do their research before bringing any critters home. Otherwise, when the novelty wears off, rescues everywhere are going to have their hands full with surrenders,” Potsus said.

Activists say there are several waves of worry ahead: during the movie’s run in theaters, when it comes out on DVD and when the novelty wears off.

About 795,000 homes have guinea pigs as pets, according to the American Pet Products Association.

Disney is aware of the power of the movies and works to promote a strong pet responsibility message, a studio spokeswoman said. For “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” Disney made sure most of the animals in the movie came from shelters and each was adopted when the movie was over.

For “G-Force,” a statement is posted on the movie’s website and on other promotional materials, advising viewers to  research any pet “to make sure that it is suitable for your particular situation” and consider adopting from a shelter.

One state’s toll — 118,365 euthanized dogs

Michigan’s animal shelters euthanized 118,365 dogs last year — some of them in outdated gas chambers which take as long as five minutes to accomplish the ugly job. 

“In a gas chamber, the larger dogs survive for four to five minutes — terrified and choking,” said Joe Sowerby, one of many animal advocates upset by revisions to a bill that would have prohibited the gassing of dogs.

A bill to require euthanasia be administered through more humane lethal injection was proposed in the Michigan legislature, but now it appears it will be watered down, allowing the process to continue in some counties, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Dogs injected with sodium pentobarbital lose consciousness in seconds and die within minutes. The method has also been shown to be less costly.

Despite that, Assistant State Veterinarian Dr. Nancy Frank said she wouldn’t favor limiting shelters’ options because not all facilities have the training for injections.

State legislators, including two from metro Detroit, say they plan to revise — and essentially weaken — bills that, in their original versions, would have outlawed the use of gas chambers in animal shelters.

“We’ll say whenever possible you should do injections because that’s the most humane,” state Rep. Fred Miller said last week. “But if you have the training and you’ve invested in the equipment to use gas properly, that’s allowed.”

Poison gas is no longer used at animal shelters in most of Michigan, including metro Detroit. But at least 10 counties in north and west Michigan still use it, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture.

State officials said Michigan shelters euthanized 53% of the animals brought in last year, but figures aren’t available on how many were gassed.

Cats are free in Baltimore in June

Baltimore area animal shelters have come together to make a life-saving offer.

Throughout the month of March, adoption fees on cats and kittens are being waived — at the Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter, the Maryland SPCA and the Baltimore Humane Society.

Like shelters across the country that are feeling the effects of a choppy economy, Baltimore’s are inundated, especially at this time of year with cats.

Every day, they’re dropped off by the boxload. At BARCS alone, 696 cats arrived at the shelter in May.

The Maryland SPCA, which put together this video, is swamped with cats as well.

The joint effort by the Baltimore Animal Welfare Alliance is being called “Baltimore 500: A Race to Save Lives” — an attempt to find families for 500 cats.  And if free isn’t cheap enough, consider this: Each cat comes with a free medical exam. Six local veterinary clinics are offering free exams to cats adopted from the shelters in June.

“We need everyone’s help in the community in order to save lives. This is the best time to adopt,” Jennifer Mead-Brause, Executive Director at BARCS said.  “You will get a loving companion who has been spayed or neutered, vaccinated for rabies and bordatella, de-wormed, Felv tested, and provided with a flea preventative, a general examination, a food sample, and even a month of free health insurance.”

Brother, can you spare a bone?

Call it a two-sided sign of the times, one that reflects the increasing regard in which we hold our dogs, and the increasingly hard times the economy is creating for us: food pantries for dogs.

Part of a movement to keep pets with their families, and out of overloaded animal shelters, pet food pantries are popping up across the country, according to ZooToo Pet News

“There are so many things that pet owners have to consider, like spay/neuter, boarding, and other types of vet care, but we are seeing that food is the primary concern,” said Ellen Gillmore, Best Friends Animal Society campaign coordinator. “There is such an immediate need for it that it jumps to the top of our list.”

Best Friend’s new program, First Home, Forever Home, which is aimed at helping families keep their pets, recently gave 1,215 bags of dog food and snacks to two food banks in the Atlanta area.

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No room at the shelter?

Across the country, animal shelters are filling up, looking for ways to find homes for more dogs and, in some cases, closing their doors amid an influx of abandoned pets caused primarily by the flagging economy.

Both public and private shelters are feeling the strain of too many dogs and cats and not enough homes that want them.

The Madison ARK animal shelter is just one of many that is telling people they just can’t take anymore.

Mandy Nabors, executive director of Madison ARK said that it’s currently housing about 70 animals and there is no more room, according to one MSNBC report.

People are still dropping them off, though.

“They began dropping them at our doorstep,” Nabors said. “We found a cat in the back in a carrier, a dog someone left for us in our outdoor fences, several litters of puppies left just in the yard — and we’re not going to turn them away. We took them in and we just have no more space. All of the rooms of the building are taken up and all the rooms have animals. Our supplies are running out very, very quickly.” Read more »

Tour de Dog rolls on

With thousands of miles behind them, David Sylvester and his mutt Chiva rolled into New York last week after a stop in their home state of Delaware.

Since leaving Seattle in March, Sylvester and Chiva, adopted from the Delaware SPCA, have criss-crossed Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario and New York, visiting animal shelters all along the way.

David does the pedaling; Chiva — a 50-pound husky-shepherd-boxer-chow mix — rides in a carriage he pulls behind.

Sylvester describes the tour’s purpose as “raising awareness about the challenges and problems animals shelters and control facilities face and improving their images and capabilities.”

Sylvester is a biomedical engineer and vaccine scientist who, after two years of working on a Bill and Melinda Gates Grand Challenge Project, shifted gears to follow his true passion in life: animal welfare.

The Tour de Dog — you can follow Sylvester’s travels on his blog — is part of the first phase of a project that hopes to raise funds to support shelters, increase public knowledge about their role and, eventually result in a documentary.

The Tour de Dog visit to New York kicked off at Bideawee, not far from where New York City, amid fears of rabies, once drowned dogs by the hundreds in the East River, submerging them by the cageful.

On Monday, Sylvester, joined forces with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, in honor of World Animal Day, and visted four animal rescue organizations: Bideawee, Humane Society of New York, ASPCA, Animal Care and Control of New York City.

(Photo: Sylvester rolls down the street he grew up on, in Delaware, from

“No-kill:” What does it really mean?

In light of complaints about the number of animals it euthanizes, the Escondido Humane Society in California has decided to stop calling itself a “no-kill” shelter.

Seems “no kill” really means “we only kill a few,” and officials of the Escondido Humane Society have decided they don’t fit either definition.

Humane society board Chairman David Knox, a veterinarian, said the board of directors decided about two weeks ago to change the designation, removing it from its literature, although the agency remains committed to limiting animal deaths as much as possible, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

“The definition of no-kill versus the public perception of no-kill are completely different,” he said. “We don’t want to seem as though we are portraying something that is not true.”

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