A little peace, and quiet, and love, and attention — they’re all any of us really want in life.
And maybe even more so when death is on the way.
For humans, hospice care is now big business, but the opportunity for sick and elderly dogs to die in peace and dignity isn’t always there.
And often, their last days are less than peaceful — especially for those whose owners, hoping to avoid the expense of veterinary care, abandon them to shelters or worse.
Seeing that happening too often — seeing them get abandoned at the time they need someone the most — a northern Michigan woman started the Silver Muzzle Cottage, a rescue and hospice for homeless old dogs.
The Detroit Free Press on Sunday took an in-depth look at the organization and the woman behind it, Kim Skarritt.
Silver Muzzle Cottage takes in dogs left behind either by owner choice, or by circumstances, as when a dog’s owner suddenly dies and no one else can care for it.
In two years, she has cared for more than 70 of them. It remains the only such hospice in the state, and one of the few in the country.
“They don’t ask for much when they’re really old,” said the 56-year-old former auto engineer. “They want to be loved and cared for, they want food and they just need a warm place to lay their head at night.”
Five years ago, Skarritt opened a dog boarding and fitness center called Bowsers by the Bay. Through that work, she noticed the pattern of elderly dogs being abandoned in their final days. After calling animal shelters throughout the state, she estimated there were about 900 senior dogs within 500 miles of Elk Rapids needing a home.
Skarritt researched the issue, finding many area shelters were taking in old dogs whose owners had surrendered them, sometimes just leaving them tied outside the shelters at night.
“I kept seeing these 14-year-old dogs and 13-year-old dogs in shelters and needing homes, and I’m going, ‘What is that? Who does that?'”
So she bought an empty storage building next door to her business and opened Silver Muzzle Cottage as a nonprofit rescue just for elderly dogs, which she defines as age 10 or older, or terminally ill but not suffering so much they need to be euthanized.
The Free Press described the inside of the rescue as a “big living room with couches, throw pillows, a fake fireplace with decorations atop the mantle, end tables with vases and a coffee table with a thick photo book about dogs atop it. It looks like a normal house, except there’s a bunch of dogs lounging on the couches like they own the place.”
The dogs aren’t caged at night, which means someone has to be there at all times. Skarritt moved into a small bare bones room adjacent to the living room and sleeps there at night.
About 100 rotating volunteers visit the dogs, take them for walks and car rides and pet and play with them.
Despite their old age, many get adopted — both by volunteers and by those among whom Skarritt works to spread the word about both the plight old dogs face, and the joys of having them around.
If you ask me, the world could use more places like this — for dogs and humans; places that aren’t about being poked, and prodded and prolonged but about being treated with some love, dignity and compassion when the end is near.
Silver Muzzle Cottage is at 201 Industrial Park, Elk Rapids, Mich., 49629. For information, call 231-264-8408, or visit the Silver Muzzle Cottage Facebook page.
(Photo from Silver Muzzle’s Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 18th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, adopt, adoption, animals, compassion, death, dignity, dog, dogs, dying, elderly, elderly dogs, elk rapids, hospice, kim skarritt, michigan, old, old dogs, pets, rescue, sanctuary, shelters, silver muzzle cottage, surrendered
Los Angeles County Supervisors voted unanimously yesterday to call on the Chinese and South Korean governments to stop slaughtering canines for human consumption.
With the annual Yulin dog meat festival approaching, the supervisors added their voice to the growing international chorus of opposition to the 10-day celebration of dog meat in the Guangxi region of China and to the dog meat trade in general.
“Los Angeles County is home to millions of people who care deeply about preventing animal abuse and suffering,” Supervisor Hilda Solis wrote in her motion. “On behalf of our residents, I ask the Board of Supervisors to join me in condemning the Yulin dog meat festival, and the rampant abuse and torture of dogs and cats for human consumption in both China and South Korea.”
The festival, which has faced growing protests, takes place in June.
The resolution is similar to one passed last year by the Berkeley City Council.
In January, a resolution was introduced at the national level by Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) that asks the U.S. government to condemn the festival.
“My legislation condemns the festival and calls on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to impose a ban on the killing and eating of dogs as part of Yulin’s festival, enact anti-animal cruelty laws banning the dog meat trade, and enforce China’s food safety laws regulating the processing and sale of animal products,” Hastings said.
An estimated 10,000 dogs are skinned alive during the 10-day Yulin festival, then butchered and eaten as a way to mark the summer solstice. Some of the animals are pets that have been lost or stolen.
An estimated 2 million dogs are slaughtered and eaten each year in South Korea.
“Anything you can do to help us fight this … most people don’t know about it,” Valarie Ianniello, executive director for the Sherman Oaks-based Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation, told the supervisors. The organization is one of several that work to raise awareness about and help rescue dogs from farms and festivals in China, Cambodia and South Korea.
“It’s important for everyone to get involved in the anti-animal abuse and torture movement,” Solis said in an e-mailed statement Monday. “This isn’t about a cultural difference. This is about pets being stolen and slaughtered in an inhumane way.”
Posted by John Woestendiek March 29th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, asia, china, condemn, consumption, dog, dog farms, dog meat, dog meat festival, dog meat trade, dogs, eat, eating, festival, korea, los angeles county supervisors, meat, pets, rescue, resolution, save, shelter, supervisors, yulin
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.
The 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)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 14th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: acreage, adopt, adoptions, animals, county commissioners, davidson county, davidson county animal shelter, dogs, exceptions, guard dogs, hunting dogs, kennel, kennels, laws, limit, n.c., north carolina, petition, pets, planning, regulations, rescue, rescue groups, ruff love rescue, show dogs, sue rogers, thomasville, zoning
Police and witnesses say Jacqueline “Jackie” Watts, 33, was found in the Flatrock River, where she was last seen chasing a poodle who had gone missing a few days earlier.
The poodle, named Ringo, was also found dead along the river.
Watts dropped her own pets off with a friend in Columbus Friday in preparation for a trip to Washington. Likely, she spotted the missing dog on her way home.
Her car was found with its flashers on and her purse inside, leading to a search of the area along the river.
Crews found her body Saturday morning on a sandbar in the Flatrock River in Columbus, just north of Noblitt Park.
Police say they don’t suspect foul play.
An autopsy completed Monday established that the cause of death was accidental drowning, according to the Bartholomew County Coroner’s Office.
The family of Ringo had posted on social media about his disappearance. They said the poodle had cataracts and was almost deaf.
After finding the body of Watts, police found the body of a small white dog on the river’s banks, just south of Noblitt Park. Police confirmed that it was Ringo with the animal’s owners, according to the Indianapolis Star.
Watts, an esthetician, served as teaching assistant in Indianapolis Public Schools and was known as an animal lover.
“The bottom line is we lost a very special person,” said Columbus Police Lt. Matt Harris. “It’s my understanding that Jackie was the type of person that when there was an animal that was sick, she would take that animal in and provide hospice care… That she was trying to help a lost dog and sadly appears (to have) lost her life doing so, that doesn’t seem out of character for her.”
Family members says she fostered dogs and rabbits. She volunteered with Kentuckiana Boxer Rescue and Indy Claw Animal Rescue.
“She cared deeply about the well-being of animals. If she believed she could help an animal in need, she was going to do so without hesitation,” the family said in a statement. “We know that Jackie gave her life for what she believed in.”
Posted by John Woestendiek March 7th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: catch, columbus, death, drowning, Flatrock River, indiana, indianapolis, indy claw animal rescue, jackie watts, jacqueline watts, kentuckiana boxer rescue, lost, noblitt park, poodle, rescue, Ringo, river, sandbar, save
Like the subjects of his namesake’s paintings, Picasso the dog has a face that seems to exist on separate planes.
The lower half of his snout lines up just perfectly under his hopeful brown eyes, but the upper half, due to a facial deformity, veers drastically to the right, making his drooping nose look like it’s about to slide off.
Picasso, due to his lopsided appearance, was put on the euthanize list.
Last month, an Oregon rescue group pulled Picasso and Pablo from the shelter in hopes of finding them homes.
And not long after the first photo of Picasso hit the Internet, he became a celebrity of viral proportions.
Since their Feb. 11 arrival, Picasso and his brother, 10-month-old pit bull-terrier mixes, have become the stars of the rescue’s social media feeds — and hundreds of people have inquired about adopting them in the last few days.
The rescue is insisting that, because of their bond, they be adopted as a pair.
For now, the brothers are staying with several other dogs in a communal living-style cabin operated by Luvable Dog Rescue.
The rescue says that, while they’re accepting applications, they’re still working to address Picasso’s medical needs, including removing a tooth that’s digging into gums.
That’s not going to alter his unusual appearance, but judging from the response his lopsided mug has received, that’s not going to matter.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 6th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animals, appearance, california, crooked, deformed, deformity, dog, dogs, eugene, facebook pinterest, luvable dog rescue, oregon, pets, photos, picasso, picasso the dog, porterville, porterville animal shelter, rescue, shelter, snout, social media, twitter, viral
If some of the bulging biceps, shaved heads and never-ending tattoos you see on Animal Planet’s new series, “The Guardians,” look familiar, that may be because they are.
The Guardians, when it comes to both personnel and concept, is a reincarnation of Rescue Ink, the National Geographic Channel program that featured burly and biker-esque “heroes” rescuing dogs in need.
Rescue Ink, the rescue group on which the old reality show was based, underwent a splintering about six years back. Its website remains in existence, but, on TV, it exists only in reruns.
Guardians of Rescue, put together by former Rescue Ink co-founder Robert Misseri, formed not long after that, and now it’s the focus of a six-episode Animal Planet series. It premiered last month, and airs on Saturdays at 10 p.m.
As was the case with Rescue Ink, its members seek out the most heart-wrenching of animal abuse and neglect cases, and do whatever it takes to correct the situation, making sure the cameras don’t miss a second of it.
As with Rescue Ink, some of the tales they tell seem to get a little embellishment — in the name of dramatic license, or, to take a cynical view, evoke more financial support from viewers.
In the video above, for example, the Guardians of Rescue say the Long Island dog they are so dramatically freeing of its chains, is being freed for the first time in 15 years.
Once released, he doesn’t behave too much like a dog that spent 15 years on a chain; instead he trots up and happily greets those who are watching.
Still, this being reality TV, we have to take their word for it.
“The poor dog had spent his whole life attached to a heavy chain,” Misseri told the New York Post.
The dog, a Lab-chow mix named Bear, is now at Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue in Port Jefferson Station, waiting to be adopted.
According to a New York Post feature earlier this month on the group — one that strangely makes no reference to its roots in Rescue Ink — the Guardians of Rescue is a slightly more diverse collection of animal lovers.
“The Long Island-based group counts ex-military personnel, retired police detectives, carpenters, electricians and even former convicts among their unpaid volunteer ranks,” the Post reported.
Rescue Ink’s members spawned a TV show, a book, and some criminal charges.
Member John Orlandini, who ran the Long Island shelter they took over, was charged with grand larceny and accused of personally profiting from public donations. In 2014, though, a grand jury decided there wasn’t enough evidence to go to trial.
Some of those questioned whether the group was more focused on achieving fame and fortune than rescuing dogs.
A lot of those concerns show up on this Facebook page, created to inform the public that the group — even though people are continuing donating to it — is no longer in existence.
The group fractured in 2010, with about half of its members leaving, including Misseri.
“(Rescue Ink) was an organization I started,” Misseri told a blogger for Newsday. “I was against doing a TV show at the time, but there was another guy who was the face of the show and it got to his head. I refused to go on and subsequently National Geographic shut it down…”
Clearly, he had no objections to a TV show this time around.
Animal Planet is billing the show this way:
“Though they may be an eclectic team – ex-military personnel, retired police detectives, former FBI investigators, carpenters, electricians and even former convicts and gang members – they unite in their passion and dedication for animal advocacy. With this group, first impressions are not always what they seem. When an animal is in need, their tough facade washes away and clients see their true love and compassion come forth.”
Let’s hope, this time around, the pack of tough guys with hearts of gold stay out of trouble, keep the hype and exaggeration to a minimum, cool it on the self-promotion and portray what they do with some honesty.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 2nd, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abuse, animal, animal planet, bear, chained, dog, dogs, guardians of rescue, national geographic, neglect, rescue, rescue ink, rescued, robert misseri, series, television, tethered, the guardians, tv, unchained, video
The 200 dogs freed in the latest closure of a Korean dog farm continue to arrive in the U.S. — and for one of them, it has meant learning a new way of sleeping.
Harriet is one of more than a dozen dogs brought to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, where the staff quickly noticed she never laid down — not even to sleep.
Apparently, having spent her life in a cage too small to lay down in, she’d learned and grown accustomed to sleeping in a sitting position.
“Harriet had no idea what a bed was,” Sherry Silk, CEO of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, told WFLA.
Harriet was one of about two dozen dogs to arrive in Florida from Korea recently. In the weeks and months ahead, more will be arriving in other cities in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
They’re coming from the sixth farm that Humane Society International has closed by cutting deals with their operators to release the dogs and find other occupations.
The dogs — raised, like livestock, to be slaughtered for their meat — are being relocated to other countries for adoption in part because there is little interest in them in Korea, where many prefer small dogs and have the misconception that “meat dogs” don’t make good pets.
Additionally, HSI hopes the program will raise awareness about the dog meat trade and increase pressure on Korea to ban it.
The dogs most recently shipped will likely be up for adoption in the next few weeks.
About a week ago, after 14 of them arrived in Orlando, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay posted a video on its Facebook page of Harriet falling asleep while in the sitting position, which they theorized was because she’d never had the space to lay down.
They’ve also learned that one of the Korean arrivals is pregnant.
Staff worked to show Harriet how to get in a laying down position, and she now regularly curls up on her bed.
To see all our stories on Jinjja, my Korean rescue dog, and the dog meat trade, click here.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 31st, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animals, behavior, dog, dog farms, dog meat, dog meat trade, dogs, florida, hsi, humane society international, humane society of tampa bay, jindo, korea, korean, korean dogs, meat, orland, pets, rescue, sitting, sleep, sleeps, socialization, south korea, standing, tampa bay