If you’re wondering why you’re hearing so much about spaying and neutering your pets these days — everything from low-cost clinics to fund-raising ”SPAY-ghetti” dinners — it’s because this is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month.
February will see a host of events across the country, all leading up to World Spay Day on Feb. 26, which promotes working together to bring an end to the euthanasia and suffering of homeless companion animals, feral cats and street dogs.
This year, PetSmart Charities is providing grants, under a program called “Beat the Heat,” to 61 clinics, aimed at spaying and neutering 15,500 cats. The Doris Day Animal Foundation is awarding a $75,000 grant to fund spay/neuter programs for pets in 16 towns and cities in 14 states.
The HSUS is partnering with the ASPCA to host a low-cost spay/neuter event for pets in East Harlem in New York City on Feb. 23. The Iowa Humane Alliance plans to host “Twenty Bunny Monday” on Feb. 25, a day reserved solely for spaying or neutering twenty rabbits. East Tennessee Spay Neuter hosted “Hunka, Hunka Furry Love” — featuring a singing dog named Melvis — over the weekend to sign up low-income clients for pet spaying and neutering.
And here in what’s my home base for now, Winston-Salem, N.C., scores showed up — including the young couple above doing their best Lady and the Tramp imitation — at a “SPAY-ghetti” dinner yesterday to raise funds to reimburse veterinarians who offer low cost spaying and neutering.
The dinner at the West End Cafe was sponsored by Humane Solution, an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that believes spaying and neutering is the key to reducing pet overpopulation and reducing euthanizations.
Humane Solution is a coalition of area shelters, including the Forsyth Humane Society, that relies solely on donations, grants, and fundraisers to make the low-cost spay/neuter program possible. The organization also sponsors rabies and microchipping clinics several times a year that help fund the program to help pay for spay/neuter surgeries.
As part of Forsyth Spay Day, on February 23, the organization will be handing out vouchers for spaying and neutering to qualified applicants at six different locations.
World Spay Day got its start as Spay Day USA in 1995, sponsored by the Doris Day Animal League. It now includes participants in 45 countries. Events include low and no-cost spay/neuter clinics for under-served communities, fundraisers to benefit spay/neuter programs and educational campaigns.
Since Spay Day’s inception, it is estimated that more than one and a half million animals have been spayed or neutered in conjunction with the campaign.
Its partners include The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, the Doris Day Animal Foundation, the ASPCA, the House Rabbit Society, the Humane Alliance, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, Petfinder, and PetSmart Charities. World Spay Day 2013 is sponsored by Abaxis. To find a World Spay Day event near you, visit worldspayday.org.
“Sterilizing dogs and cats is the best way to stem the overpopulation of cats, dogs and other pets, and to prevent homelessness and suffering,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “World Spay Day allows caring people the world over to come together and raise awareness about the life-saving benefits of spaying and neutering …”
The HSUS is hosting a World Spay Day 2013 online Pet Pageant. Participants can upload their pets photo until March 19, and all proceeds will benefit local U.S. non-profit organizations participating in World Spay Day.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 11th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, aspca, awareness month, cats, clinics, dogs, doris day animal foundation, events, forsyth county, forsyth humane society, funding, grants, hsus, humane society of the united states, humane solution, low cost, neuter, north carolina, overpopulation, pets, petsmart charities, programs, rabbits, spaghetti, spay, spay day, spay day usa, spayghetti, vouchers, west end cafe, world spay day
After enrolling fewer than two dozen of a planned 230 dogs in the study — all paired with vets with PTSD — the VA has announced that the study has been suspended, and that, from now on, service dogs will only be paired with veterans with visible disabilities.
The new policy goes into effect today.
For the 400,000 veterans diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder, that means dogs — despite all the positive effects that have been reported — will no longer be part of their treatment and recovery.
Among those blasting the decision is the American Humane Association.
Just days before its second annual celebration of hero dogs, the organization took time to put together a petition, calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to reverse the new policy.
“Our focus on animal-assisted therapy dates back to 1945 when we promoted therapy dogs as a means to help World War II veterans recover from the effects of war,” the AHA said. ”We know from years of experience that the human-animal bond is a source of powerful healing, whether they are children suffering from cancer or military men and women who have suffered the stress of battle.
“Service dogs, in particular, are an amazing, positive resource for assisting our nation’s best and bravest though their physical pain and mental anguish. We call on the VA and the United States Congress to stand up for our veterans…”
Specifically, the new VA policy ends the program that reimbursed veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder for their use of service dogs while in recovery.
“It’s of the utmost importance that we provide our vets with every option available to treat service related ailments,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), who was also shocked to learn of the new policy.
“Especially as the wars are winding down, and more and more soldiers are returning home with mental trauma, the VA must continue to allow their doctors and mental health professionals to provide benefits to veterans who need mental health service dogs,” he said.
Congress mandated that additional scientific study be conducted on the impact of service dogs paired with PTSD vets several years ago. But apparently that study never got off the ground — at least not as ambitiously as planned.
Launched in June 2011, the study planned to follow 230 PTSD vets and their service dogs, tracking them and their families through 2014. Only about a tenth of that number were registered for the study, though.
The study was halted, according to reports, because of concerns about dogs biting children, dirty and cramped living conditions, and faulty record-keeping.
According to the VA, there are about 400,000 veterans currently in treatment for PTSD, and that group has higher than normal rates of divorce, substance abuse, unemployment and suicide. There are 32 to 39 suicide attempts daily among vets with PTSD, about half of which result in death, according to a column by the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Dale.
Dale’s column looks at the benefits of programs such as those provided by Paws for Purple Hearts – an improved quality of life, fewer flashbacks and nightmares. Vets paired with dogs are said to be more likely to find jobs; less likely to become recluses.
“One hallmark of PTSD is avoidance (of going outdoors and socializing with others),” says Robert Porter, executive director 0f Paws for Purple Hearts. “That’s hard to do with a 60-pound dog who just wants to go out and play.”
The study was a chance to prove, beyond the anecdotal, just how much therapy dogs could help vets with PTSD. But, for reasons that make little sense, both the study and the concept were canned.
Most of the dogs in the study were from Guardian Angel Medical Services of Williston, Fla., and its founder and director, Carol Borden, says there were no biting incidents reported.
Borden says that in the organization’s history, veterans with PTSD nearly always benefit from having a dog. Some patients have been able to cut their medication in half, or stop taking it altogether, she said.
That has raised questions among some about whether pharmaceutical companies lobbied for the new VA policy. That’s conjecture, of course — conjecture being something that tends to occur when no logical explanation is given.
The VA owes vets, not to mention Congress, an explanation.
And we all owe veterans afflicted with PSTD a chance to get past it, or at least cope with it. Ruling out dogs and dropping the study is an oath broken, a promising avenue bypassed, and a slap in the face to veterans.
“We’ve not experienced a single suicide attempt as far as we know,” Borden said of vets paired with dogs under the Guardian Angels program. “I have letters from wives thanking us because the husband has returned, and it all happens because of a dog who provides unconditional love.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aha, american humane association, animals, benefits, ceased, charles schumer, congress, department, disabilities, divorce, dog, dogs, dropped, drug abuse, employment, funding, guardian angel medical services, halted, paws for purple hearts, petition, pets, post traumatic stress disorder, programs, promised, ptsd, ptsd dogs, reimburse, reimbursement, senator, service, study, suicide, terminated, therapy, va, vet, veterans, veterans affairs
Or maybe an entire pack of them.
School districts being bureaucracies, though – often quicker to look for reasons why they can’t do something, rather than actually trying something new — that doesn’t happen too often.
But in Bucks County, Pa., dogs are turning up in more and more classrooms, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
At Holland Elementary School in Bucks County, a 140-pound Rhodesian ridgeback named Kicho shows up regularly as part of a reading program.
“Sometimes, I get jittery inside when I read, but not with Kicho,” 9-year-old Conner Weinberg said. “He’s very kind and calm. He’s my friend. I think of him as my own dog.”
Kicho is one of a several dogs that have become beloved classroom companions, in Council Rock, three other Bucks County school districts and a private school, according to the Inquirer report.
The program was founded five years ago by Wendi Huttner, a Bucks County trainer and breeder of Labrador retrievers, and Deborah Glessner, a retired Council Rock School District librarian. Their nonprofit organization, Nor’wester Readers, now fields 34 teams of dogs and handlers who make weekly visits to classrooms in the Council Rock, New Hope-Solebury, Pennsbury, and Bensalem districts and to the Center School in Abington.
The basic idea of the reading program — much like the one Ace took part in with Karma Dogs – is to give children “positive reinforcement; they get the affirmation of these big brown eyes, a wag of the tail, and a kiss on the cheek,” Huttner said. Children who may feel shy about reading in front of teachers or peers can open up to a dog.
“When you are reading to your teacher, your parent, your uncle, or your librarian, and you don’t know the right word or you mispronounce a word, you are corrected,” Huttner said. Dogs, however, “are not judgmental,” she said. “There is a child in just about every class that nobody else can reach, but a dog can. They have magic. . . . It’s a wonderful thing to see.”
At Council Rock’s Richboro Middle School, Jillian, a retriever (pictured above) and her handler, Nan Muska, visit children with severe cognitive deficits who are getting training to help them cope with daily living, along with some others who have multiple disabilities and are largely nonverbal.
“My students light up,” said Tim Qualli, the school’s multiple disabilities support teacher. “They really enjoy being with her.”
(Photo: Tom Gralish / Philadelphia Inquirer)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 4th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bensalem, bucks county, cognitive, council rock, dog, dogs, holland elementary school, kicho, learning, new hope, nor'wester readers, pennsbury, pennsylvania, pets, programs, reading, reading to dogs, rhodesian ridgeback, richboro middle school, school districts, schools, solebury, students, teaching, therapy, wendi huttner
A TV network just for dogs?
One part of me asks why? One part asks why not?
Dog TV – which offers programming not about dogs, but for them – is a fledgling project, now airing only on a trial basis in San Diego. But there are plans to make it available, at a fee of $4.99 a month, across the country by the end of the year.
Add one more exhibit to the growing pile of evidence that dogs are turning into humans. (It’s when they get their own cell phones, and start putting us on hold, that I’ll really begin to worry.)
In all fairness, given the number of channels for humans that allow us to watch people cooking and redecorating, shooting and stabbing, courting and breaking up, or just generally making fools of themselves, shouldn’t dogs get at least one … on which to watch other dogs … generally behaving in a far saner manner?
I think my opinion on Dog TV depends entirely on the programming — that’s a sample of it above — and whether it can somehow manage to operate on a higher plane than human TV.
I’d hate to see dogs subjected to all the evils of television — its addictive nature, its intellect-lowering content, its reality shows. I’d hate to see dogs become couch potatoes. I’d hate to see dog owners start relying on the television as babysitter, or as a substitute for attention.
But the folks at Dog TV, which is based in Israel, seemed to have done at least some of their homework, and put together some footage that — while not exactly edge of one’s seat stuff — does actually have some redeeming value, unlike, say, “Jersey Shore.”
The programming — now being enjoyed only by dogs who subscribe to cable through Time Warner or Cox Media in San Diego — falls into three categories.
“Stimulation” programs show exciting animations, moving objects and frolicking animals, with camera movements and sounds and frequencies aimed at encouraging dogs’ playfulness, even when they’re sitting home alone.
“Exposure” programming aims at getting dogs used to those noises and situations they may face in life — crying babies, ringing doorbells, thunder, the mailman, riding in a car. It doesn’t bombard the dog with those things, but works them into the plot lines, or what there is of them.
“Relaxation” content — the example at the top of this post — is designed to relax the dog, reduce stress levels and keep him calm through soothing music, sounds and visuals.
The idea, founder Gilad Neumann explained in a Bloomberg report about the new network, is to give dogs something to watch and do while their owners are gone.
“Veterinary associations like the Humane Society and the ASPCA have been recommending for dog owners to leave the TV or radio on when they leave their dog home alone for many hours,” said Neumann. But that, he says, could lead to your dog watching something inappropriate, such as fireworks or gunfire.
Dog TV, which calibrates the colors of video footage to suit dogs’ limited vision, went on the air Feb. 12 after four years of dog-market research. Jasmine Group, the Israeli production company behind it, hopes to expand across the United States by the end of the year and then internationally.
“We’re constantly doing … focus groups … for dogs,” said Neumann. “We’ve noticed, for example, that dogs are not thrilled about barking on the channel, so we’ve removed almost all barking.”
The programming is inexpensive to produce, with the video shot either in San Diego or Israel and there being no actors to pay. The content is scheduled so that dogs can watch soothing videos, followed by stimulating ones.
The channel’s creators are planning to attract advertising to their website, but say they aren’t yet sure how to integrate it into their programming, since humans aren’t really expected to watch it. (As we reported earlier, advertisers, too, have been experimenting with commercials aimed at dogs.)
One of Dog TV’s veterinary advisors, Nick Dodman, of Tufts University, says it’s unlikely dogs will be riveted to the set when Dog TV is on.
“One thing that people shouldn’t expect is for their dog to sit, as we do, in front of the TV and stare at the screen for hours and hours,” he says.
In other words, they’re smarter than that.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 7th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alone, animals, attention, babysitting, behavior, cable, calming, channel, conditioning, cox, dog, dog tv, dogs, dogtv, exposure, Gilad Neumann, home, humans, israel, jasmine group, network, nick dodman, pets, programming, programs, san diego, soothing, stimulating, television, time warner, tufts university, video, viewers
In case you missed it, Glenn Close gave viewers of the Oprah Winfrey show an inside look last week at Puppies Behind Bars, and that organization’s latest initiative — providing service dogs for wounded veterans.
Under the new program — “Dog Tags: Service Dogs for Those Who’ve Served Us” — prison inmates train and raise puppies to become service and therapy dogs for wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
“It’s totally a win-win situation,” said Close “On one hand, the inmates … are given a chance to give back to society and learn invaluable skills that will prove vital if they ever re-enter life outside prison. On the other, wounded soldiers are given a chance to rebuild their shattered lives — to be released from the prison of their wounds. What unites both inmate and soldier is the love, loyalty and talent of a Puppies Behind Bars dog…”
FetchDog, a Portland-based pet supply company Close helped start and writes a blog for, is helping support the program by donating $1 from the sale of each of its new “Chewy Shoe” dog toys. Vibram Pet Products, which manufactures the toy, will also donate a dollar of each sale to the cause, according to a press release.
The toy is available for purchase at FetchDog.com.
Puppies Behind Bars was founded in 1997 to raise guide dogs for the blind. Since then it has worked with prison inmates to train explosive detection dogs and dogs to assist the disabled and autistic.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 19th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: afghanistan, chewy shoe, dog, fetch, fetchdog.com, glenn close, irag, oprah winfrey, prison, programs, puppies behind bars, rehabilitation, service dogs, therapy dogs, train, training, veterans, war
Abdul will be helping Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance, Petco, and independent pet stores raise awareness and money for guide dog organizations across the country, according to Dogchannel.com.
Her role involves getting the word out to the public about the time and effort that goes into training a potential guide dog puppy — an18 to 20 months process, followed by another six months in formal guide dog training school. After about six months of school, the dog gets matched with a blind person. For 28 days, more training takes place at the guide dog facility so the person can learn how to handle their dog.
Learning about the amount of time and money it takes to train these dogs inspired her to join the nonprofit side of raising awareness so that more guide dogs are made available. Abdul said. “I have always been amazed at how it transforms people’s lives.”
Posted by jwoestendiek March 29th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american idol, awareness, blind, campaign, celebrities, chihuahuas, dick van patten, guide dogs, natural balance, paula abdul, petco, programs, training