Mention the idea of food stamps for dogs and you’re likely to get one of two reactions:
Those touchy-feely animal lovers (such as me) will say it’s a great idea that could help keep dogs from being surrendered to shelters, abandoned, or worse, by owners who can’t afford to feed them anymore.
Those “It’s-just-a-dog” types will say its ludicrous, that they’d hate to see their tax dollars used for something like that, and that, if you can’t afford a dog, don’t get one in the first place.
When the idea does float to the surface, there’s usually some quick debate — then it vanishes as quickly as a bowl of kibble.
Now, in a way, the concept is back, and it’s being carried out on a national scale — with no involvement from government, and no use of tax dollars, it should be noted. It’s the mission of a nonprofit organization formed by a New York man who describes himself as a stockbroker, journalist, entrepreneur and business consultant — a frightful combination if ever there was one.
The organization is called Pet Food Stamps, though no stamps actually appear to be involved. Instead, low income individuals can submit applications, which, if approved, lead to six months worth of deliveries of dog food from Pet Flow, an online pet food store. It’s all to be funded through private donations, founder Marc Okon says.
Pet Food Stamps and Pet Flow announced their “exclusive partnership” in February:
“Pet Food Stamps aims to provide pet food for pets of families receiving public assistance and for food stamp recipients who otherwise could not afford to feed their pets. Based in New York City, the program is open to anyone in the United States. More than 80,000 pets have already been registered …”
Okon, 36, said the idea was inspired in part by a friend going through some economic hard times who told him “she sometimes fed her cat before herself,” Wall Street Journal columnist Al Lewis reported. Also, he says, doing something philanthropic helps remove the bad taste that remains from some of his previous employment experiences in corporate America.
Okon says he briefly worked for a firm that sold dubious medical benefits to seniors in the South. “Their whole corporate philosophy was to manipulate seniors who didn’t have any type of insurance,” he said. “I could only do that for about a week and half,” Okon said. The article calls him “a man so disgusted with the lack of ethics he witnessed in private enterprise that he founded a nonprofit to hand out dog food.”
While many a humane society operates similar programs on the local level, Pet Food Stamps says it has been swamped with applications — 45,000 in the first two weeks alone, according to a press release.
Okon says the applicants often describe how they’ve lost their jobs and homes.
“Millions of pets are surrendered to shelters each year and euthanized because their owners can’t afford to feed them,” he said.
Okon says he isn’t against the idea of the government providing food stamps for dogs, but that it’s not part of the current picture.
“We’re not looking for government funding at this point,” Okon told ABCNews.com. “Should the government be willing to provide assistance further down the line, we will look into it.”
It seems a noble idea, and we hope it’s nobly carried out — with enough transparency that dog lovers who make donations know exactly how much money the organization is receiving, how much of that is going to buy and ship dog food, and what profits, if any, the private dog food company is making.
We’d point out, too, that people unable to afford to feed their pets can check with their local humane society or SPCA to see what programs might be available in their area. Some food banks distribute dog food and cat food, and some chapters of Meals on Wheels deliver pet food, too. In 2006, Meals on Wheels started the We All Love Our Pets (WALOP) initiative after finding some of their clients were sharing their meals with their pets because they couldn’t afford pet food.
For a state by state list of programs offering free and discounted services — from food to veterinary care — check out this Humane Society of the United States link.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 6th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aid, animals, assistance, cat food, dog food, dogs, food banks, food stamps, food stamps for dogs, help, humane society, marc okon, new york, pet flow, pet food, pet food direct, pet food stamps, pets, shelters, spca
Grey, creaky and 18 – pretty darned old for a black Lab mix of his size — Bear Dog is hanging around a little longer.
But then he’s always been a persistent sort.
Bear Dog is pretty well known around Castle Rock, Washington, at the western base of Mount St. Helens. For almost two decades, he has hung out at the town’s riverfront, the ball park — just about anywhere his owner, Don Caulfield, went, and a few places he didn’t.
At the North County Recreation Sports Complex, near Caulfield’s mobile home, there are signs, posted by the city, that read, ”No pets allowed inside baseball complex or on soccer fields, except Bear Dog.”
Since 1996, the highly social dog has been befriending workers — including those who built the sports complex — as well as tourists, hikers, students and fishermen.
Whenever anyone walked by Caulfield’s mobile home with a fishing pole, Bear Dog wanted to join them. He’d also swim out to fishing boats, leading anglers to drop what they were doing, haul him aboard and bring him ashore.
At the ball fields, Bear Dog would meet Janice Vinton, the concession stand manager, in the parking lot, walk her to the concession stand and then sit and wait for a hot dog. He’d always get one, at least until he had a heart attack and Vinton decided he should avoid them. When Vinton would close the concession stand at night, Bear would wait for her and walk her to her car.
At Caulfield’s home, visitors would frequently drop by to take Bear Dog for a hike on the trails, or drop off treats and presents. A Seattle man brought short ribs to him every weekend.
“How he got so popular, I don’t know,” Caulfield, a 62-year-old retired trucker, told the Daily News in Washington. “He done that himself.”
About two months ago, though, sightings of Bear Dog became more rare. His back legs had stopped working, and the only way he could walk was by Caulfield using a towel as a sling to lug him in and out of the house. Even as an invalid, Bear Dog still wanted to go out and meet any visitors that stopped by.
Given the dog’s age and condition, Caulfield’s veterinarian advised him it was time to put Bear down, but Caulfield didn’t have enough money to cover the $150 euthanization fee.
He went home and cried, and then he started digging a hole in the yard.
“I knew what had to be done,” he told the the Daily News, which published an article Sunday about Bear Dog.
But Caulfield couldn’t bring himself to shoot Bear, and when he called friends to ask they do the deed for him, they all declined.
Bear Dog was living out what appeared to be his final days until one day he dragged himself outside and promptly fell down the porch steps. Caulfield heard a pop and feared his dog had broken his back. Instead, Bear Dog got up, walked, and even tried to chase a rabbit.
“Every time I think it’s time, he bounces back somehow,” said Caulfield. “I don’t know how he does it.”
We have a theory: Maybe it’s because so many people are pulling for him — and even more since the newspaper story.
Since the article on Bear Dog appeared, he has received a slew of visitors, gifts and phone calls, the Daily News reported in a follow-up article.
Caulfield returned from church Sunday to find people parked in front of his trailer. One offered a new fishing pole. Another man brought over a top sirloin steak, a roast and a tub of dog bones for Bear. And one woman promised to pay for any medical treatment Bear needs, as well as – if and when it becomes necessary — the cost of putting him down.
“He’s quite the legend out there,” Castle Rock Mayor Paul Helenberg said last week of Bear Dog, who became the sports complex’s unofficial mascot by virtue of hanging ot there so much when it was being built.
Some dog-owning residents don’t understand why Bear Dog gets special privileges at the complex, and their dogs don’t, but Helenberg said Bear Dog is something of an institution. He even spoke of building a monument to the dog once he passes away.
“It’s going to be real sad,” the mayor said. “We’ll do something special.”
From the looks of things, Castle Rock, and the friends of Bear Dog, already have.
If you’re going to honor a dog, that’s really the best time to do it, before he’s a memory – not by building a sculpture when he’s dead and gone, but by pitching in and helping out and making him happy while he’s still alive.
Which is not to say a statue of Bear Dog isn’t appropriate — only that one honoring the friends of Bear Dog might be, too.
(Photo: Bill Wagner / The Daily News)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 28th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 18, animals, ball park, bear, bear dog, black lab, castle rock, concessions, daily news, dog, dogs, don caulfield, euthanasia, euthanize, everybodys dog, fishermen, friends, grey, help, helping, hikers, honor, honoring, institution, labrador, lame, mayor, memorial, money, north country recreation sports complex, old, paul helenberg, pets, put down, retriever, sick, statue, support, trucker, washington
We love it when a distressing dog story turns into an uplifting one — as is often the case, it seems: Some lowly human mistreats a dog; some angel-like human comes to that dog’s rescue.
We hate it when a feel-good dog story turns bad.
That appears to be the case with the tale of the photographer in California who helped a man get his dog out of a city shelter.
The woman who took the touching photos of Dave Thomas after he learned he didn’t have enough money to retrieve his dog, who posted them on Facebook, and who raised enough money to help him, now says she’s had a falling out with him.
That’s according to KABC in Los Angeles, which helped the photographer find Thomas after the photo went viral and funds started coming in.
Maria Sanchez says she used about half of the donated funds to pay for the dog’s shots, neutering and kennel fees so Buzz Lightyear, a 2-year-old pit bull mix, could go home with Thomas.
Thomas wanted the rest of the money, as well.
Sanchez says she originally planned to let Thomas have the money — but not in cash. Instead she was going to apply it to his unpaid traffic. Thomas asked for all the cash, though. And Sanchez decided to refund what remained to the donors, or use it to help other animals.
That led to an angry voice mail from Thomas, which Sanchez posted on line (click on the video above).
Thomas was arrested last Friday, and animal control picked Buzz up and placed him in the San Bernardino City Animal Shelter.
When Thomas, upon his release, went to the shelter, he was told he needed to pay $400 in shelter fees to get Buzz back. Sanchez, who regularly visits the shelter to take pictures of adoptable dogs and post them on the Internet — in hopes they will get adopted before their time is up — came across Thomas, who had only $6, as he visited his dog.
When she posted the photos of a sobbing Thomas and his dog on her Facebook page, donations started coming in to help him get his dog back — more money than was needed.
In the view of Thomas, apparently, he deserved that money, too.
That adds a sour note to an otherwise sweet tale. But even though the previously sympathetic character at its center turned out to be something less than gracious, maybe even greedy, it still has a shining one, Maria Sanchez.
Not to mention Buzz Lightyear, who we’d guess is enjoying his newfound freedom, and doesn’t care a whit where the extra money goes.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 21st, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, biting the hand that feeds you, Buzz, buzz lightyear, california, dave thomas, dogs, facebook, funds, help, maria sanchez. photographer, more, pets, photography, raised, reclaim, san bernadino, shelter, spay-neuter, video, voice mail, wants
Heartworm and a cancerous tumor have delayed snout surgery for Kabang, the Philippine dog that lost half her face when she stepped between two children and an oncoming motorcycle.
A veterinarian at the University of California, Davis, says both could be potentially fatal if not treated.
“Fortunately for Kabang, her disease is not very advanced,” Dr. Jane Sykes, a UC Davis infectious disease specialist, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “She has a good prognosis.”
Sykes said veterinarians will have to treat the two ailments — including chemotherapy for the tumor — and that it could be as long as six months before her snout problems can be addressed.
Donations from 20 countries financed Kabang’s trip to the U.S. Vets at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital plan at least two surgeries, one focusing on dental work and the other to close the gaping wound on her face, which, left open, could lead to infection.
But before that can happen they need to treat the heartworm and the cancerous tumor, which vets say was sexually transmitted.
Sykes said more than 90 percent of such cases are cured with chemotherapy.
Both the tumor and the heartworm are common ailments in tropical regions where dogs run loose, as in the Philippines.
Kabang was originally found in a swamp near Zamboanga by a man who planned on feeding her to his family. But the dog bonded with Rudy Bunggal’s 11-year-old daughter and his 3-year-old niece and last year stepped between them and a motorcycle, shearing off her snout.
Kabang disappeared for two weeks after the motorcycle accident, but was greeted as a hero when she returned to Bunggal’s home.
She delivered six puppies at a local dog pound in April of this year, apparently having become pregnant during her two week disappearance.
Sykes said Kabang is “a pleasure to work with … It is wonderful that people have seen how wonderful dogs can be to human lives. … I think we owe her a service in return.”
While missing the top of her snout, Kabang is able to lap up food and water with her tongue, Sykes said, and may still be able to smell some things.
Vets are also seeking permission from her owner to spay Kabang.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bunggal, cancerous, care, children, davis, delivered, dog, dogs, donations, half, heartworm, help, hero, kabang, motorcycle, pets, philippine, philippines, pregnancy, pregnant, pups, saved, sexually, snout, surgery, transmitted, tumor, university of california, veterinarians, veterinary
An 81-year-old man is crediting his Lhasa Apso with saving his life after he fell from a ridge into a deep pool of mud and clung to a bridge rail to keep from sinking as his dog ran for help.
Derek Ramsden was on vacation in Wales and taking his dogs for a walk when he fell.
He says his 18-year-old terrier mix took no action, but his seven-year-old Lhasa Apso, Toby, ran for a quarter of a mile and, just like Lassie, barked at park officials until they followed him back to the scene.
“I managed to get hold of a railing on the bridge. It was frightening. I could not get out and you can’t hold your grip for long at my age,” he told The Telegraph. “I was scared that I was going to tumble down the bank. I don’t like to think what would have happened if not for Toby. He definitely saved my life.”
“Toby is dedicated to both of us and I think he is a hero,” said Ramsden, from Halifax, West Yorks. “He’s my very own Lassie. He saved my life and I’m very grateful.”
Ramsden’s wife, Ada, who had not gone along for the walk at Bryowen Holiday Park, said she went searching for him after an hour and found him as he was being pulled to safety by park staff.
“He was covered in mud from head to foot. If he had let go he could have slipped down further. Toby saved him,” she said.
“The dog knew what it was doing. It ran past apartments through bushes and alerted security,” said park maintenance manager Ben Thompson. “The dog was leading the way and without the dog we would not have known he was there. That dog certainly has something about it.”
(Photo: Ross Parry / The Telegraph)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 27th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, barked, Bryowen Holiday Park, cliff, derek ramsden, dog, dogs, fall, fell, help, hero, lassie, lhasa apso, life, mud, owner, pets, ran, rescues, saves, sinking, toby, vacation, wales, walking
A 57-year-old Las Vegas grandmother was struck and killed by a car when she stopped to help an injured dog.
Valerie Roberts was struck Wednesday night while in the middle of Boulder Highway, where she was helping another motorist who had gone to the dog’s assistance.
Her family and friends told News 3 in Las Vegas they’re not surprised her final act was trying to save a life.
Roberts, who worked taking care of the elderly and disabled, was also known to take people in to her home, rent free, to help them get back on their feet.
Roberts had two daughters and three grandchildren.
Las Vegas police say the Roberts had stopped her car and gotten out to help another person who was assisting the dog.
Authorities say the driver of an approaching car swerved to avoid hitting the stopped car and hit Roberts. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
We couldn’t find any news reports indicating whether the dog survived.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 1st, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, car, dog, dogs, good samaritan, grandmother, help, injured, killed, las vegas, pets, road, stopped, struck, valerie roberts
The Maryland Court of Appeals opinion declaring all pit bulls — and conceivably any dog with any pit bull in it — “inherently dangerous” shouldn’t be interpreted as outlawing the breed.
It applies only to litigation, and law-abiding pit bulls and their owners should have nothing to fear, those who see reason in the opinion will point out.
But there’s a lot to fear. Even though the opinion directly affects only those who get sued, it indirectly affects everyone — in the form of pets being abandoned, overcrowded shelters, difficulty finding rental property and giving Maryland a reputation as a state where beings are judged, discriminated against and persecuted, all based on looks.
It’s definitely a step in the wrong direction, fraught with connotations of racism, or its canine equivalent; and, like most exhibits of intolerance, it shouldn’t be tolerated.
B-More Dog, a group that’s been fighting on behalf of pit bulls for a few years now, is among the organizations offering advice to pit bull owners, aimed at better understanding the opinion, undoing the damage it did and dealing with its after-effects.
The same case that led to the court opinion played a role in B-More dog forming. In 2007, 10-year-old Dominic Solesky was bitten by a pit bull that escaped from its yard. Not long after that, a Baltimore County councilman introduced legislation that would have required pit bulls to be muzzled in public, among other restrictions.
At a rally to protest the proposed law, the founding members of the organization met, went on to fight the legislation and formed B-More Dog to promote responsible dog ownership.
The Solesky family, meanwhile, filed a civil lawsuit in 2008 against the owners of the pit bull and their landlord. In 2009, the Circuit Court for Baltimore County ruled that the landlord, could not be held (monetarily) responsible for the dog bite because there was no way she could have known that the dog was “dangerous”.
The Solesky family appealed this decision to the Court of Special Appeals which found in favor of the Solesky family. Then, the landlord’s insurance company asked the Maryland Court of Appeals to hear the case. Its opinion last week, saying in, effect, that all pit bulls are dangerous and owners and landlords should know that, is the one that has sent some pit bull owners into states of near panic.
“B-More Dog has been in touch the best and the brightest people, both locally and nationally, who fight breed discrimination,” the organization said in a newsletter this week. “We remain confident that breed discrimination laws will be defeated in Maryland and we are preparing for the marathon battle ahead.”
B-more Dog isn’t the only organization that’s working to inform pit bill owners of the court opinion’s implications.
The Animal Farm Foundation put together information for pit bull owners that you can find it here. The Humane Society of the United States has some advice for renters and others that you can find here.
Those organziations and others are also looking at legal options, including the possibility of the Maryland General Assembly passing a law to undo the court decision. More information on this possibility can be found on this HSUS Facebook Page.
B-More Dog is planning a “Rally to Support Dog Owners Across Maryland,” and has scheduled some other events as well.
They’ll be on hand May 12, handing out stickers and more at the Baltimore Humane Society’s Paws on Parade event this Saturday (May 12).
Next Saturday (May 19), they’ll be holding ”Pins for Pits, a family-friendly bowling fundraiser at Country Club Lanes, 9020 Pulaski Highway in Baltimore, from 5-7 p.m.
And on Sunday (May 20), they’ll be holding their regular “Pit Bulls on Parade”
walk at Rash Field at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, starting at 11 a.m.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advice, animal farm foundation, animals, b-more dog, breed-specific, breeds, court, court of appeals, discrimination, dogs, events, general assembly, help, hsus, implications, inherently dangerous, law, litigation, maryland, mixes, opinion, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls
Attention humans: Today’s lesson comes from Tanner and Blair — two hopeless cases that, together, found some hope.
Tanner is a two-year-old Golden Retriever who was born blind and with a seizure disorder. When Sooner Golden Retriever Rescue was unable to find him a home, he ended up at Woodland West Animal Hospital.
Blair is a one-year-old black Labrador mix brought to the same hospital after she was shot while living on the streets. While recovering physically, she was timid, nervous, and unlikely to find a forever home, either.
“One day they were exercising in a play yard together and they got together,” said the hospital’s director, Dr. Mike Jones. “Blair all of a sudden seemed to realize that Tanner was blind and just started to help him around.”
Seeing the connection, hospital staff began to board Tanner and Blair together, with amazing results.
Tanner began seizing less; Blair came out of her shell.
“His seizure disorder was really, really bad and nothing — no medications — seemed to be helping,” Jones told ABC News. “Anytime he [Tanner] seizes he expresses his bowels.”
Tanner had been seizing almost nightly, Jones said, but after two or three weeks with Blair, “we realized Tanner wasn’t seizing anymore. He’s not completely seizure free but it’s not constant anymore.”
If Tanner has a leash on, Blair will pick it up and guide her friend around. Tanner, meanwhile, has had a calming influence on Blair, making the former street dog — now that she has a mission – less timid and anxious.
Now the hospital and Sooner Golden Retriever Rescue are trying to find the two dogs a home together.
“They absolutely have to be adopted together,” Jones said. “But it’s going to take a special home with someone who understands their special relationship plus understands seizure disorder and is ready to take on the responsibility.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 1st, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, adoptable, animals, black, blair, blind, cure, disorder, dogs, each other, golden, help, hope, ills, lab, oklahoma, pair, pets, rescue, retrievers, seizure, shelters, shooting, shot, sooner golden retriever rescue, tanner, teamwork, woodland west animal hospital
Oreo, a 4-year-old, 140-pound harlequin, had collapsed.
“It was so fast and we were so upset, that all I could think of was to tell her we have to call for help,” Randy Lakey told Fox 2 in St. Louis.
When an ambulance arrived, a paramedic, upon seeing the patient, threw her arms into the air and said “It’s a dog, are you kidding me?” Rose said. “Then she turned and walked away. Then she started yelling out to the policeman, ‘it’s just a dog.’”
Another paramedic administered oxygen to the dog, and, along with police, helped the Lakeys get Oreo into the car.
It was too late, though, and Oreo died by the time they reached the emergency animal clinic.
The next day the Lakeys were charged by police with filing a false report. They’re due to appear in municipal court in O’Fallon next month. At worst, they face a fine.
Rose says she originally told the 911 operator she was calling about a dog, but that she might have referred to Oreo as her daughter at some point.
(Note to emergency officials: Many dog owners feel that way abour their pets, and even refer to them that way. Also, they don’t appreciate phrases like “just a dog.”)
Oreo was once featured in a front page photo in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (above), marching in a pet parade while wearing a pink tutu.
The Lakeys have two grown daughters, and say they thought of Oreo as their third. They didn’t purposefully mislead authorities, they said.
Said Randy Lakey, “You know, it was not intentional. We didn’t mislead anybody. We just needed help. There’s nothing false about that,” Randy said.
(Photo of Oreo by Gabe Hartwig / St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 26th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 911, ambulance, animals, big dogs, call, dog, dogs, emergency, false report, filing a false report, great dane, health, help, just a dog, medical, missouri, ofallon, oreo, pets, pink, police, randy lakey, rose lakey, tutu, veterinary
A basset hound named George, while no one was home, became entangled in a telephone wire, started choking, and somehow managed to dial 999 (the UK’s version of 911).
Hearing his gasps, emergency operators sent police to the home in West Yorkshire, where he was freed.
We’ll point out this report appeared in The Sun, a troubled tabloid that not everyone considers the UK’s most reliable source of news.
And we’ll point out that when we said dialed, we meant dialed. It was one of those old dialy phones that George, in his desperation, somehow mastered.
(You can click on the link above to see some copyrighted photos of George, and the telephone. The basset in the photo above is Mac who lives in Texas and, despite his outfit, does not have super powers.)
The Sun reports that George, about two years old, knocked the phone to the floor and got entangled in the wire, managing to get it wound around his neck.
“And he panicked so much he incredibly managed to ring 999 as he pawed at the phone trying to free himself.
“The emergency operator alerted police who dashed to the empty home of driving instructor Steve Brown and his daughter Lydia, 18 on Saturday night.”
A neighbor, Paul Walker, also went into the home and “ripped the phone apart to wrench the wire from George’s throat.”
“Incredibly you could see where his paw print was on the phone to ring 999 — he literally saved his own life,” Paul is quoted as saying.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 911, 999, alone, animals, basset hound, britain, choked, choking, dialed, dials, dog, dog dials phone, dogs, emergency, entangled, george, help, home, neighbor, news, news media, pets, phone, photos, safety, strangling, telephone, the sun, uk, west yorkshire, wire