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Tag: north carolina

NC dog rescue group fighting to stay open

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Zoning laws often lack logic, but this one, in Davidson County, N.C., seems especially bone-headed.

A rescue organization in Thomasville that shelters dogs while trying to find them homes has been told that county ordinances allow kennels to have no more than 10 animals per five acres.

Exceptions to the rule are made for those who keep show dogs, those who keep hunting dogs, and those who keep or train guard dogs.

But for an organization like Ruff Love Rescue that saves dog’s lives and tries to find them adoptive homes? Sorry. Up to now, no exceptions have been made, and the county has threatened to shut them down.

ruffloveThe Winston-Salem Journal reported yesterday on the rescue, the problems it is facing, and how it is attempting to surmount them.

While the nonprofit rescue has been operating for nearly 20 years, the county issued it a zoning violation in 2015, saying, as a kennel, it is subject to rules limiting the number of animals to 10 for every five acres.

The notice followed an investigation that was prompted by a neighbor’s complaint.

The rescue’s owner, Sue Rogers, appeared before the county’s planning and zoning committee last week to again seek an exception. The committee voted in favor of allowing the rescue to have more than 10 animals as long as Rogers adds trees or other sound barriers.

That still requires approval from the Davidson County Commissioners. They are scheduled to discuss the proposal on April 11.

Rogers has argued that the rescue should receive the same exception that owners of household pets, and trainers of guard animals, show dogs and hunting dogs receive.

“So you can have 71 hunting dogs or 71 show dogs or 71 pets, but because we are a rescue, that’s a problem?” Rogers said. “What are those ‘exceptions’ doing for Davidson County? I’ll tell you what we’re doing, saving a heck of a lot of lives.”

She has a point. Shouldn’t a rescue get at least the same break that the county has granted to the owners of show dogs, guard dogs and hunting dogs? Since when is grooming dogs for beauty contests, or training them to hunt, or teaching them to get aggressive with intruders more important than saving their lives?

Given all the shortcomings over the years at the Davidson County Animal Shelter, shouldn’t the county be appreciating Rogers efforts, instead of punishing her?

The county shelter was one of the last in the state to stop euthanizing animals in a gas chamber. It has had traditionally low adoption numbers. Even after it’s operation was turned over to a nonprofit group, it had its license revoked in 2015 when investigators found, among other things, that sick and injured animals were going untreated.

Rogers started her independent rescue in her 5-acre backyard in the late 1990s. In 2015 she took in about 400 dogs. Last year, she took in 220 dogs, most of which were adopted.

The rescue regularly pulls dogs from the Davidson County shelter and other county shelters.

“I take the dogs that don’t have a chance because no one wants to invest the time and money to get them better,” Rogers said. “A lot of the dogs I take in have medical issues, like broken femurs or fractured pelvis, and would be euthanized otherwise.”

She estimates she has spent $50,000 on legal fees to keep the shelter open.

“It’s been a hard fight, but I’m not giving up,” she said. “This is my passion, this is my life, this is what I do.”

An online petition to keep the rescue open has received 1,400 signatures in a week.

(Photos: At top, Ruff Love Director Sue Rogers loads toys, treats and food donated at an adoption fair Saturday; lower photo, one of Ruff Love’s dogs is greeted at an adoption fair in Greensboro; by Allison Lee Isley, Winston-Salem Journal)

Magdalene comes back … as Dixie

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I was visiting the Forsyth Humane Society yesterday when word came back to the administrative offices that “Magdalene was back for a visit.”

Everyone rushed out to the lobby to see the dog who, before she was adopted about four months ago, had become a staff favorite (at least among those who admit to having a favorite).

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The name rang a bell, and when I saw her I remembered that I was among those she had impressed — to the point where I was considering adopting her.

About the time I became the humane society’s volunteer archivist, Magdalene had entered the shelter. And I — who took the position partly so I could visit dogs — must have gone back to see her four or five times, each time leaning a little closer to taking the big step.

DSC06165She is half white, half black, with each side of her face having seemingly chosen a completely different color, and ears that somehow couldn’t decide and came out speckled.

Big and gangly, she’s a classic mutt, who, while playful, seems to have the peaceful temperament that often goes along with a mix.

Alas, I (as I’ve done once or twice before in life) spent too much time thinking about it.

My dog, Ace, died last spring, and by the time fall came around, I was just about there, but apparently not quite.

One day, Magdalene wasn’t around anymore.

I adopted my new dog, Jinjja, about a month later from the Watauga Humane Society.

Magdalene went home with Amber Fuller, of Mocksville, who renamed her Dixie and, judging from her Facebook posts, couldn’t be happier about the dog she ended up with.

She was visiting Winston-Salem with Dixie yesterday and stopped by the shelter, where the staff seemed thrilled for a chance to see her again. And vice versa.

DSC06135 (2)She greeted everyone, curled up under the feet of the front desk receptionist for a while, and gladly submitted to some belly rubbing.

Fuller reports Dixie is doing great. If the video below is any indication– the humane society posted it on its Facebook page — Dixie is pretty relaxed in her new setting.

Bemis and Kelly together again

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A former Army medic flew from California to North Carolina last weekend to reclaim the dog she lost more than six years ago.

Kelly Accettola reunited with her Italian greyhound, Bemis, on Saturday, according to the Gaston Gazette.

Accettola flew from San Diego, where she now lives, to Charlotte to get the dog that went missing while she lived in Norfolk, Virginia.

It’s unknown what happened with Bemis during the six years he was missing, but somehow he ended up 300 miles from Norfolk.

He was spotted on the streets of Gastonia by Tracy Tucker as she drove to work and taken to Wilkinson Animal Hospital.

“I opened up the car door and he just hopped right on in,” said Tucker, who says she often rescues and fosters animals in the area. “Right after work we came here and found his chip and everything.”

Accettola was notified last week that Bemis had been found.

Bemis is in good shape, but needs about $1,200 worth of dental work.

To help pay for her travel and veterinarian bills, Accettola started a Go Fund Me page, which has raised $575.

According to the Gazette, American Kennel Club Reunite, a Raleigh-based organization which helps connect lost animals with their owners each day, matched his microchip to an address in Sacramento, California — Kelly’s mother-in-law’s home.

The American Kennel Club has offered to pay for all of Bemis’ veterinary bills, the newspaper reported.

Bemis disappeared after being let out into the back yard one night, Accettola said. “I went out to the backyard to see what was going on and sure enough he wasn’t there. It was just like he vanished without a trace,” she said.

She adopted the dog about nine years ago while living in upstate New York with her husband, Donavon Both were in the military, Kelly was a combat medic in the Army and Donavon was a nuclear engineer in the Navy.

Upon reuniting with her dog, Accettola cried: “Oh, my gosh, Bemis. Hi sweetheart. You look just the same.”

“You know, you hear these miracle stories about people who get their missing pets back after years apart and you think, ‘That’ll never happen to me,'” she said later. “But my God, it has.”

(Photo: NBC26, Scripps Media, Inc.)

The 12 days of Jinjja

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On the first day of Jinjja, he came home in a crate with me, from the Watauga Humane Society.

On the second day of Jinjja, he peed twice in the house, still was very fearful, but otherwise he acted quite friendly.

On the third day of Jinjja, I left him home alone, only for an hour, he didn’t cower, and he didn’t destroy anything.

dsc05557On the fourth day of Jinjja, I gave him his new name. Jinjja’s Korean. It seemed to fit him. That’s where he came from. Translated, it means “Really!”

On the fifth day of Jinjja, he was still shaking his past: Raised on a dog farm, tied up or crated, little human contact, headed for slaughter, and destined to end up as meat.

On the sixth day of Jinjja, he started coming to me, not when I called him, of his own volition, just for affection, maybe a butt scratch, gave me some face licks, and not only when I dangled yummy treats.

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On the seventh day of Jinjja, he faced another test. It was Thanksgiving, I left him for two hours, stuffed myself with turkey, made off with leftovers, came home and found him, despite all my worries, behaving absolutely perfectly.

On the eighth day of Jinjja, I tried once again, to get him in my car. He can’t be lifted, try and he’ll nip ya, bribed him with turkey, made a little headway, he put his front paws there, didn’t make the leap though, still apparently not quite ready.

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On the ninth day of Jinjja, he spent the night in my room. First time he’s done it, not in my bed though, won’t jump there either, or up on sofas, I know he can do it, seen him in in my courtyard, when he thinks I’m not looking, gets up pretty high too, every time he sees or hears a squirrel.

On the tenth day of Jinjja, this Jindo dog of mine, continues to impress me, no inside peeing, tearing up nothing, stopped fearing TV, eating much more neatly, barking somewhat less-ly, mellow for the most part, friendly to strangers, be they dogs or humans, or anything other than squirrels.

On the eleventh day of Jinjja, he’s much better on the leash, much much less tugging, stops when I tell him, still trips me up some, but fewer collisions, and he finally got into my Jeep, with help from a stepstool, and lots more turkey, enjoyed a short ride. It’s a very, very major victory!

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On the twelfth day of Jinjja, as I composed this piece, I realized it goes on … just a little too long … sure the song’s beloved … but the beats a little humdrum … keeps on repeating … makes me quite sleepy … Jinjja, too, I thinky … He’s dozing at my feet, see … Still, there’s a meaning … in this song that I’m singing … about a dog who would’ve been eaten … My point is every day with him’s a gift.

Forsyth County passes tethering ban

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Leaving dogs tied up for extended periods is now, with a few exceptions, flat out illegal in Forsyth County, N.C.

By a 4 to 3 vote, the county commissioners approved a ban on tethering this week, replacing an existing law many considered toothless and unenforceable.

Under the previous version of the ordinance, tethering per se was not illegal, but it could lead to additional penalties in cases of animal cruelty.

Under the new one, tethering is illegal except when it is being used for hunting, camping or other recreation where tethering is required.

Commission Chairman Dave Plyler, Everette Witherspoon, Walter Marshall and Ted Kaplan voted for the ban. Commissioners Richard Linville, Gloria Whisenhunt and Don Martin voted against it.

The vote was met with applause and cheers by animal welfare advocates attending the meeting.

Keith Murphy, Co-founder of Unchain Winston, said, “We’re really happy that it’s finally passed, we’ve been working on it for many many years.”

“When we started this in 2010 there were only 12 communities in North Carolina that had a tethering ban, now, luckily, Forsyth County has become the 26th in North Carolina to have a ban.”

“I started this the first time I was on the animal control advisory board 10 years ago,” said animal-welfare advocate Jennifer Teirney. “The people and animals of Forsyth County won this one. I’m glad to see us move forward in a progressive way.”

The old ordinance, adopted in 2011, didn’t go into effect until 2013, and many felt it didn’t go far enough.

The new ordinance allows for a grace period of one year.

If a resident violates the ordinance during the grace period, a warning ticket will be issued and the violator will receive information on the new ordinance and organizations such as Unchain Forsyth and Unchain Winston.

Those organizations build fences for families who need help unchaining their dogs.The organizations have built about 150 fences and 200 dog houses for residents.

(Photo: Fairfaxcounty.gov)

Off the menu and into your hearts: 31 Korean farm dogs come to NC for adoption

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(Second of two parts)

Their eyes said yes, their feet said no.

All four of the dogs at the Watauga Humane Society — each being held in individual quarantined kennels after their trip from Korea — initially reacted the same when I stepped inside.

They’d take one step forward, their bright eyes shining with what seemed to be excitement, anticipation or maybe curiosity; then they’d take three steps back.

It was understandable. They’d come from a farm in South Korea — one of more than 1,000 such farms there where dogs are raised as livestock and sold as meat, where they’re often mistreated and neglected and have little human contact.

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Murphy

In the weeks since they were rescued from a farm in Jongju, quarantined and, along with 27 others, shipped to the U.S., the four dogs have grown a little more sociable by the day.

Yet clearly, they were still torn between the fear they had learned from experience and that innate something — call it resilience, goodness of spirit, or that seemingly limitless and often unexplainable love for our species — that all dogs are born with.

With dogs, that innate something, given a chance, almost always wins out.

That has been the case with rescued fighting dogs, puppy mill dogs, and those raised as meat. They’re willing, despite whatever mistreatment they endured at our hands, to give our species a second chance.

We sometimes return the favor.

Since the beginning of 2015, Humane Society International has worked with Korean animal activists to remove 525 dogs from Korean dog farms and ship them to the U.S. and Canada to find new homes as pets.

The organization works to persuade dog farmers to forfeit their canine livestock and move on to new careers, often providing financial incentives for them to do so.

The latest shipment was a smaller one — 31 dogs from Jonju, and they’ve been distributed among five different North Carolina humane societies and shelters that serve as emergency placement partners for HSI and HSUS.

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Lucy

All four of the dogs who came to Watauga Humane Society were Jindos, a breed known for their loyalty that originated on the island of Jindo, off the southern coast of South Korea.

The breed has been designated by the Korean government as a national treasure.

Yet they — especially the white and yellow ones — are commonly seen in cages at outdoor meat markets, waiting to be sold, slaughtered and butchered.

At the farms, the dogs spend most of their lives in cages, treated like livestock, at best — and sometimes worse than that.

How does a dog raised in those conditions go on to be a family pet?

In small and hesitant steps, not overnight, and not without some work and patience.

But the proven fact is, they do.

That has been the case with the the four previous batches of farm dogs who have been rescued from Korea and gone on to find adoptive homes in the U.S. and Canada.

“I can give you hundreds of stories of wonderful adoptions that have taken place with them,” said Kelly O’Meara, director of companion animals and engagement for HSI.

The four Korean dogs that came to the Watauga Humane Society had been there three days when I visited. In the quarantine area, I walked into each of their kennels and took a seat on the floor.

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Princess

One sat in the outside section of his kennel and — no matter how much I gently coaxed — would take more than a step or two inside.

Another trembled in the corner, venturing a little closer after 10 minutes passed, but only close enough for a quick sniff.

One came within a few feet of me and retreated, before lingering long enough to allow herself to be petted.

The fourth would come close, then fall back, finally coming close enough to sniff my hand, and allow it to pet him. He decided he liked it.

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Jindol

“Every day gets a little better,” said the HSI’s O’Meara. “You’ll hear from the shelters, ‘He gets closer, he sniffed me today.’ It’s a big deal for a dog that wouldn’t come within five feet, and now its coming up and licking your hands.

“Some take months but they do get there and when they do, they’re wonderful companion dogs,” she added.

The four are expected to get out of quarantine next week. Then they’ll be taken to Asheville to be spayed and neutered. Depending on how the dogs react to that, the Watauga Humane Society could start taking applications from people interested in adopting them the last week in October.

Details will be announced on their Facebook page.

At the Cashiers Highlands Humane Society, applications are already being taken for the 11 Korean dogs they took in, though the dogs won’t be able to be taken home until after Nov. 7 when they are spayed or neutered.

Other dogs that were rescued from the farm in Jonju — an illegal one because the farmer didn’t own the land he was using — are at Paws of Bryson City, Moore Humane Society in Carthage, and Outer Banks SPCA in Manteo

Laurie Vierheller, executive director of the Watauga Humane Society, said helping the dogs find a home is rewarding in itself, but the benefits to a shelter go beyond that.

Taking in the dogs strikes a chord with the dog-loving community members whose contributions keep local humane societies afloat. It brings traffic to a shelter, and often those who come to see the dogs rescued in a high-profile case end up going home with one, or adopting another resident of the shelter.

The HSI’s O’Meara says some shelters and humane societies avoid getting involved as emergency placement partners because they want to focus on finding homes for local dogs in need.

But those who do take part, she said, have noted “a spike in adoptions, for all dogs, when they receive these dogs…One shelter, within two weeks of the dogs arriving, every dog in facility was adopted out.”

“It highlights the work they do in their communities. These homeless animals come with an incredible story. That brings in traffic, and brings in people who would provide wonderful homes.”

(Part one of this series can be found here)

(Photos: Jindol, at top, and the other Korean farm dogs soon to be available for adoption at the Watauga Humane Society; by John Woestendiek)

A funny — and life-saving — thing happened on the way to the slaughterhouse

jindolThe four new arrivals at the Watauga Humane Society, a no-kill shelter nestled in the hills outside Boone, N.C., started adapting to their new lives not long after they were removed from a farm south of Seoul, Korea.

They continued to grow a little less timid and fearful of humans while they were quarantined in a sanctuary there, flown to the U.S., driven hundreds of miles to five different shelters and quarantined again.

Soon, they’ll be making the final step on the way to becoming pets, instead of meat.

twopartsThe four are among 31 dogs from Korea who arrived at no-kill shelters in North Carolina last week to be put up for adoption.

And those 31 are among 525 who have come to the U.S. and Canada since the beginning of last year, when Humane Society International added a new strategy to its campaign to bring an end to dog farms in Korea — closing them down one farm at a time.

Representatives of HSI, working with local animal activists in South Korea, have succeeded in shutting down five farms since then — usually by negotiating deals with the farmers and persuading them to pursue new, less brutal livelihoods.

One dog farm became a blueberry farm. Another switched from raising dogs to growing chili peppers. One dog farmer agreed to stop dog farming and, with help from HSI, started a water delivery business.

It’s only a small dent, given there are thousands of dog farms in South Korea, some with 1,000 dogs or more, all being raised to be sold for their meat.

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They are commonly abused and neglected and spend their lives in crates before being sold to markets, where things get even crueler.

Farm dogs are sometimes boiled alive, sometimes beaten before slaughter under the belief that it makes their meat more flavorful. Their meat is sold to individuals and restaurants at open air markets, where you can pick a live one for butchering.

It’s all a perfectly legal tradition under laws in Korea, where a minority of the population still eats dogs, and many believe the meat offers health benefits, particularly in the summer months.

That minority is shrinking more as younger Koreans turn away from the practice, a fledgling animal welfare movement grows and the perception of dogs as family members becomes more widespread.

Perhaps, South Korea will, in time, outgrow the practice. Perhaps the Olympics coming to Seoul in 2018 — as it did in 1988 — will lead government officials, who did their best to hide it then, to take more meaningful steps.

Until then, animal activists — locally and globally — do what they can.

My first exposure to dog farms was seven years ago, when I went to South Korea to research a book I was writing on dog cloning. On the road to achieving that “feat,” researchers regularly bought and borrowed meat dogs from farms, using them for experiments, to help clone the first canine and to clone the dogs of pet-owning customers once the practice hit the marketplace.

I ended up at Moran Market — and quickly wished I hadn’t.

Images of what I saw then still pop up in my head, unasked. I’ll spare you the graphic details.

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It is estimated that more than 2 million dogs are slaughtered for human consumption in South Korea each year.

Add in those consumed in China, Vietnam and other Asian countries, and as many as 30 million dogs a year are killed for their meat.

South Korea is the only country where the practice has been industrialized. The New York Times reported in May that government data show there are more than 17,000 dog farms.

The Humane Society program is an attempt to shine a light on the issue, while also giving at least a few of the dogs a chance. On top of that, it strives to show that farm dogs, stigmatized in Korea and often perceived as different from pet dogs, are one and the same.

In one of the largest agreements brokered so far, this past May, a dog farmer in Wonju turned over all 260 of the dogs he was raising — mostly on discarded scraps he collected from restaurants — in exchange for certain considerations.

The particulars of the deal weren’t announced, but HSI offers incentives to farmers — $2,000 to $60,000 depending on the number of dogs involved — who agree to forfeit their dogs and get out of the business.

That farmer, Gong In-young, told the New York Times that many of the dogs were just weeks away from being sent to the slaughterhouse.

Gong, in addition to his farm dogs, had a pet dog, too. Asked about the difference in the lives of his farm dogs and his own dog, a spitz named Snow White, he described it as “the difference between heaven and hell.”

The most recent batch of dogs transported to the U.S. by HSI was small by comparison.

The dogs lived on a small farm in Jeonju, about 120 miles south of Seoul. A Canadian organization, Free Korean Dogs, was tipped off about it by local activists and, upon further investigation, learned it was an illegal operation.

While dog farms are legal, this farmer and his dogs were squatters, occupying land that didn’t belong to him. Law enforcement authorities were contacted and ordered the farmer and the dogs off the land.

That left the farmer willing to negotiate, and he eventually agreed to turn all 30-plus dogs over to a sanctuary at the end of July.

HSI, working with Free Korean Dogs, then took steps to have them shipped to the U.S., making arrangements for them to be taken in and adopted out by no-kill shelters who participate in the Humane Society’s Emergency Placement Partners program.

Those who participate in the program accept dogs the Humane Society has rescued — from everything from puppy mills to natural disasters.

All 31 farm dogs, after their flight and a few days in Maryland, were brought to shelters in North Carolina.

In the parking lot of a shopping center in Cary, the dogs were turned over to volunteers from local humane societies and shelters in the state, the News & Observer reported.

Those shelters included Cashiers Highlands Humane Society, Paws of Bryson City, Moore Humane Society in Carthage, Outer Banks SPCA in Manteo, and the Watauga Humane Society in Boone.

I visited the four who went to Boone last week.

I wanted to take some photos. I wanted to see how anti-social and fearful of humans they might be, or if that resilience dogs are famous for was already becoming apparent.

I wanted to understand how hard it might be for them to shake the past. Many who have adopted them say they’ve gone on to make greats pets — as has been the case with many of Michael Vick’s fighting dogs, puppy mill dogs and other dogs who have seen and suffered from the worst in humans.

And in the back of my head, which is also where those images of meat market dogs linger, I was thinking I might like to have one.

(For part two of this story, click here.)

(Photos: From top to bottom, Jindol, one of the four Korean dogs now at the Watauga Humane Society, by John Woestendiek; caged dogs at a South Korean dog farm, by Jean Chung for The New York Times; dogs awaiting butchering at Moran Market in Seoul, by John Woestendiek)