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Tag: rescue

Are dog rescue groups helping support big time breeders? It sure looks that way

auctionmichleashes1

Are animal rescue groups actually helping keep big-time dog breeders — both good ones and bad ones — in business?

That’s the question raised in this blockbuster report that appeared in The Washington Post this morning.

The newspaper’s investigation found that rescue operations, traditionally the nemesis of puppy mills, have been buying dogs from breeders at auction, using donations from their supporters to buy dogs in what it described as a “nationwide shadow market.”

The result is a river of rescue donations flowing from avowed dog saviors to the breeders, two groups that have long disparaged each other. The rescuers call many breeders heartless operators of inhumane “puppy mills” and work to ban the sale of their dogs in brick-and-mortar pet stores. The breeders call “retail rescuers” hypocritical dilettantes who hide behind nonprofit status while doing business as unregulated, online pet stores.

But for years, they have come together at dog auctions where no cameras are allowed, with rescuers enriching breeders and some breeders saying more puppies are being bred for sale to the rescuers.

Bidders affiliated with 86 rescue and advocacy groups and shelters throughout the United States and Canada have spent $2.68 million buying 5,761 dogs and puppies from breeders since 2009 at the nation’s two government-regulated dog auctions, both in Missouri, according to invoices, checks and other documents The Post obtained from an industry insider.

Most rescuers then offered the dogs for adoption as “rescued” or “saved,” and charge adoption fees that range from $50 to $1,000 per dog.

The article reports that it is likely the success of rescue groups in reducing the numbers of dogs needing adoption that has led to an increase in such organizations turning to buying dogs offered at auctions by commercial kennels: “As the number of commercial kennels has decreased, so has the number of shelter animals killed in the United States: A February 2017 estimate put the total for dogs alone at 780,000, a steep drop from estimates for all shelter animals that were as high as 20 million in the 1970s.”

One golden retriever rescue group turned to the auctions after seeing 40 percent fewer dogs coming in as of 2016. At the auctions, such rescuers describe buying purebreds and popular crossbreeds such as goldendoodles and maltipoos as “puppy mill rescue,” the article notes.

Some rescue organizations have paid more than $1,000 for a single dog.

Animal-welfare groups, including the ASPCA, HSUS, say rescuers are misguided in buying dogs at auction because the money they pay only encourages more breeding on a commercial scale.

While they may be keeping some individual dogs from being purchased by breeders for a life of breeding, they are also lining the pockets of breeders and helping to create a “a seller’s market.”

JoAnn Dimon, director of Big East Akita Rescue in New Jersey, says that buying breeding-age dogs at auctions makes it harder for commercial breeders to profit in the long run: “That breeder is going to make thousands of dollars off that [female dog] if he breeds her every cycle. I just bought her for $150. I just took money out of his pocket. I got the dog, and I stopped the cycle.”

The majority of the $2.68 million The Post documented was spent since 2013 at Southwest Auction Service, the biggest commercial dog auction in the country, with some additional spending at its smaller, only remaining competitor, Heartland Sales.

As the last remaining government-licensed auctions, they let buyers and sellers see hundreds of dogs at a time and are a legal part of the country’s puppy supply chain. They are regulated by the U.S. and Missouri Departments of Agriculture and open to the public.

“I’m not going to lie about this: Rescue generates about one-third, maybe even 40 percent of our income,” Bob Hughes, Southwest’s owner, told the Post. “It’s been big for 10 years.”

“I honestly think there are very good, responsible rescues that just love the dogs and want to get them out of the breeding industry,” he added. “And I think there are malicious, lying, cheating rescues that are in it for the money and the glory and the funding.”

Rescue groups generally are organized as nonprofit charities and raise money through fundraisers, adoption fees, grants and bequests. Shelters and rescue groups connected to the auction bidders have annual revenue that runs from $12,000 to $1.5 million.

Hughes told the Post that what happens at auctions shows that nobody has the moral high ground in America’s puppy wars.

“In their minds, the rescuers think they’re better,” he says. “The industry is all alike. We’re all supplying puppies and dogs to the general public in some form or fashion.”

(Photo: Dogs being sold at an auction in Michigan))

Perfectly imperfect: Picasso the dog honored for showing what beauty really is

Picasso, the rescued dog with a twisted snout, was honored by the Oregon Humane Society for showing the world how perfect one with an imperfection can be.

At a ceremony In Portland last week, the 2-year-old pit bull-Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix received a Diamond Collar Hero Award.

The awards honor animals and people who have acted to save a human or animal life in peril, performed services within the community with undying loyalty, or overcome incredible odds in order to survive.

Picasso and his brother were picked up as strays in southern California. They were on the list to be euthanized when Liesl Wilhardt, the founder and executive director of Luvable Dog Rescue, pulled them out and brought them to Eugene last year.

She later decided to keep both as her own, unwilling to let them be separated because of Picasso’s devotion to his brother.

picasso11Picasso and Pablo quickly became part of her extended dog family, and Picasso became an Internet sensation as well — both for his story of survival and his unique appearance.

“Picasso has overcome challenges that most dogs don’t ever have to, from surviving an assaulter to living on the streets. And he’s done it all with courage and grace,” Wilhardt says. “Picasso’s personality and temperament is just loving and accepting to all living things, despite what he’s suffered in the past.”

Pablo died in October from a brain aneurysm, according to the Eugene Register-Guard. Picasso, unlike his brother, was born with his facial deformity.

Picasso is now in training to become a therapy dog, but he has already touched many lives

“He really does touch people, especially those who look a little different like him,” Wilhardt said. “Whether they were born different or had an illness or accident that led them to looking different, he’s helped and inspired so many people.”

Those offering him praise and thanks include soldiers with disfiguring wounds and children coming to terms with looking different.

Picasso also has been nominated for a 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Award, an annual nationwide competition that searches out and recognizes “America’s Hero Dogs.”

People can see the nominees and vote for an American Humane Hero Dog Award at herodogawards.org/vote.

A little reminder from Jinjja and me

A friend came across this ABC News video from a year and a half ago, depicting more than 30 dogs rescued from a meat farm in Korea on their way to shelters in North Carolina to be put up for adoption.

As she guessed, the second dog to last dog shown in the video, is — though Jindos can look pretty similar — the one that now belongs to me, I think.

jindolJinjja is his name.

He has come a long way since this news footage (which I’d never seen) was shot — turning from a virtually wild dog scared of everything to a trusting and loyal companion.

I thought, with the 2018 Winter Olympics concluding, with the controversial dog meat trade having diverted only a little focus from the games, this would be a good time to remember that a small minority of Koreans eat dog.

Despite government efforts to suspend or at least better hide the practice, dog meat was still being served in restaurants in PyeongChang, and numerous dog farms are located within just miles of Olympic venues.

With all those inspiring moments of athletic achievement we watched, all those examples of humans trying to be their best, it was easy to ignore that harsh reality — that one to two million farm dogs are butchered each year in South Korea.

Some news media used the Olympics as an opportunity to remind us of it. Others, like NBC, barely touched on it — apparently not wanting to turns its spotlight from those inspiring moments of athletic achievement. Instead, it presented South Korea’s best side, and that best side is a truly great side.

But South Korea has a worst side, too, and yes, we just reminded you of it.

Some would say eating dog meat is part of Korean culture, and thus deserves to be free from criticism, but it doesn’t — not anymore than the tradition of slavery in America deserves to be excused, forgotten or forgiven.

gus-kenworthy-matt-wilkas-dogBefore the Olympics was a good time to let South Korea know, as many did, what the rest of the world thinks about the practice. During the Olympics was a good time too, and some Olympians even did.

In addition to the other Olympians who were planning to help a Korean farm dog get to the U.S., one, Gus Kenworthy, a member of the US. Olympic ski team, also took action.

Kenworthy, who brought home a rescue dog after the Sochi Olympics, visited a dog farm near PyeongChang in the process of being closed by Humane Society International and left with a puppy named Beemo, according to PEOPLE magazine.

He didn’t single-handedly rescue 90 dogs from the farm, as a Fox News headline shouted: “US Olympian Gus Gus Kenworthy rescues 90 dogs from Korean dog meat farm.” But he did assist Humane Society International in gathering up the dogs and arranged to adopt one of them.

Hyped as reports like that might be, photo ops that they might be, its good so see some attention on the issue.

If it’s one you feel strongly about, express that somehow. Comment here, or elsewhere, or sign a petition. Contribute to Humane Society International’s program that cuts deals with the dog farmers to close their farms, and brings the dogs to the U.S. and Canada for adoption. Provide a home to one of those who end up here.

You won’t get a gold medal for it. But you might keep one dog from ending up on a dinner plate or in a soup bowl. And for that you can feel proud.

(Bottom photo: Gus Kenworthy /Instagram)

Deaf pit bull gets job in law enforcement

A deaf and “unadoptable” dog in Florida is now working in law enforcement in the opposite corner of the country.

Ghost, a pitbull mix, was deemed unadoptable by animal control officials in Florida because of his deafness.

Ghostleashes1A Florida rescue group, Swamp Haven Rescue, assisted in having him moved to Washington state, where he was spotted by longtime dog trainer Barb Davenport, KING5 reported.

Davenport has been training drug search dogs for the state since the 1980s. She says Ghost is the first deaf dog that the state has used in law enforcement — and might be the first in the country.

On the job, Ghost’s handicap may serve as an advantage.

“It seems to make him even more focused,” said Davenport, K-9 Program Manager for the state’s Department of Corrections.

Ghost started searching for drugs inside state prisons and other secure facilities in January.

Already he has located drugs hidden in the prison, officials say.

(Photo: Washington state DSHS)

Few restaurants comply with official request to stop serving dog meat during Olympics


As the Winter Olympics got underway in PyeongChang, dog meat was still being openly served in most restaurants that offer it, despite attempts by the government to keep a lid on the practice.

The South Korean government had requested restaurants cease the practice and even offered subsidies to those that did, but only two of the 12 restaurants serving dog meat in PyeongChang complied, a county government official told AFP.

A minority of South Koreans still consume dog meat — most commonly in a soup called boshintang — many of them in the belief it leads to increased energy during the hot summer months.

Between 1 and 2 million dogs a year across the country a year are butchered and sold at markets and to restaurants.

Well before the Olympics began, activists stepped up campaigns to ban dog consumption, with protests in Seoul and online petitions urging boycotts.

In PyeongChang, the county government asked the restaurants with dog meat items on the menu to stop serving the food in exchange for subsidies.

“Some of them initially shifted to selling pork or things instead of dog meat only to find their sales plunging sharply. They then switched back to dog meat,” PyeongChang County government official Lee Yong-bae told AFP.

“We’ve faced a lot of complaints from restaurant operators that we are threatening their livelihood,” he said.

Signs advertising dog meat dishes such as boshintang, yeongyangtang or sacheoltang have been replaced with more neutral ones such as yeomsotang (goat soup) to avoid giving “a bad impression to foreigners” during the games, according to Channel News Asia.

South Korean authorities periodically try to persuade restaurants to change their menus or drop signs suggestive of dog meat during major international events hosted by the country, as was the case with the Summer Olympics in Seoul in 1988.

The tradition has declined as the nation increasingly embraces the idea of dogs as pets instead of livestock, and most younger South Koreans avoid it.

A Gangwon province official told The Associated Press there were no plans to relocate dog farms situated near Olympic areas. There is one farm near Pyeongchang; six near Jeongseon, where the downhill skiing course is located; and 10 in Gangnueng, the coastal town that will host events like figure skating and hockey. Gangwon has 196 registered dog farms, though most are closer to Seoul.

While NBC isn’t too likely to be showing us any of the during its Olympics coverage, USA Today provided a fairly expansive report on one such farm today

Hundreds of dogs have been removed from Korean dog farms by Humane Society International and sent to the United States for adoption, including mine, a Jindo named Jinjja.

The group assists the farmers in establishing new careers in exchange for closing down and surrendering their dogs.

duhamel2One Olympic competitor, Canadian figure skater Meagan Duhamel escorted two rescued farm dogs on a flight back to Canada after competing in a qualifying event last year in PyenongChang.

Duhamel adopted one of them, through the group Free Korean Dogs.

“Most of the time, he just wants to sit in everybody’s arms,” Duhamel said of the dachshund mix, named Moo-tae. “He doesn’t even care to play, he just walks up to everybody and wants to be held.”

Duhamel, a silver medalist in Sochi, is hoping to assist in closing a dog farm once the Olympics conclude. She, American skier Gus Kenworthy and American snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis have appeared in a public service announcement about the dog meat trade.

Duhamel has arranged to fly home another rescued farm dog when she returns to Canada, so it can be put up for adoption there, according to CBS News.

(Photos: At top, Park Young-ae, owner of Young Hoon Restaurant, arranges dog meats at her restaurant in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Associated Press; photo of Duhamel and Moo-tae, courtesy of Free Korean Dogs)

More mistreated greyhounds — in Spain

America isn’t the only country where greyhounds are exploited and mistreated.

We may have our racing tracks, and those blood farms, but there is some even more horrendous treatment of greyhounds going on in Spain, where more than 50,000 galgos, or Spanish greyhounds, are destroyed each year — most often in cruel fashion.

Spanish greyhouds come from different lineage than American greyhounds, but they are very similar and have the same shy, sweet and gentle dispositions.

In parts of Spain, they are used for hunting, but when they start to slow down, they are cruelly disposed of by some Spanish hunters, or “galgueros” — at a rate of about 50,000 per year.

Most of the dogs, called “galgos,” are used for one or two years and then discarded, and those who perform poorly are often tortured to death

The Spanish government has mostly ignored the issue, but perhaps an upcoming documentary, now in editing, will cause enough of a stir to lead it to take some action.

“YO GALGO is a feature film about life and traditions in the villages, about an invisible genocide taking place while the authorities look the other way,” the maker of the movie says on its website. “It’s about the tireless people working to rescue these dogs, and about the new and modern Spain versus the conservative and traditional one.”

Yeray Lopez Portillo describes the documentary as “an investigative feature film that paints a picture of the consequences of these hobbies for hundreds of thousands of galgos. It shows us a glimpse into human nature through the use of these dogs; the abuse, the tradition and the silence kept by people and institutions about it. A clash between the modern and old Spain.”

His kickstarter campaign explains:

“Every year healthy galgos are killed, beaten to death, drowned or abandoned when they no longer live up to their owners’ expectations. The breeders, the so called galgueros, breed hoping to end up with the fastest dog to compete and hunt the hare, but overbreeding leads to the ‘throwing out’ of thousands and thousands of galgos every year.”

Those who have proved to be good hunters are taken to shelters to be euthanized when they’ve lost their edge. Those who have not face being burned with acid, dragged behind cars, sacrificed to fighting dogs, skinned alive and buried alive.

The most famous torture is called the “piano dance,” which involves hanging the dog by the neck with the feet just touching the ground as it struggles to breathe until it is strangled to death by its own movements.

As explained in an article in The Dodo, the breeders and hunters maintain the torturing “washes away the dishonor” of having a dog with poor hunting skills.

Because the galgos are regarded under Spanish law as working dogs, they are excluded from the laws relating to pets.

The Spanish government did pass laws in 2004 concerning abuses and neglect, but they have not been used to prosecute anyone.

Hunting with greyhounds also takes place in Portugal, Northern Ireland and in the United Kingdom, but the cruelest abuses are in Spain.

For more information, visit galgorescue.org or the Yo Galgo Facebook page.

After a basset hound’s disappearance, donations enable town to purchase a drone

The small central Texas town of Hewitt will soon be purchasing its own thermal imaging drone — and they can thank a basset hound named Gus for that.

Gus is the greying basset who went missing last July and stayed on the run nearly 50 days before, with help from a loaned drone, he was tracked down, trapped and returned to his owners.

His disappearance led to a massive search and, once he was found, one of the organizers of Team Gus began a fundraising campaign to get the Hewitt Police Department a drone of its own.

Nikki Pittman presented a check for $6,000 to city officials during Monday night’s council meeting, KWTX reported.

“We desperately needed one here and we kept depending on Dallas, North Dallas to come down here with their thermal drone,” said Pittman. “It was just necessary for Central Texas,” she said.

gusleashes1The money was raised with donations and sales of Team Gus coozies and t-shirts. It will help pay for the Hewitt police and fire department’s purchase of a drone, and licensing and training.

Police Chief Jim Devlin thanked Pittman for her hard work. “While it was a team effort, it was kind of a mission of hers,” he said. “She really stuck to her guns and pushed this thing.”

Devlin said police and fire agencies in New York City and Los Angeles have entire fleets of thermal drones that they use for “all kinds of types of operations. Those can be just as applicable to Hewitt, Texas as anywhere else,” he said.

The drone would be used for locating missing pets and people, and helping firefighting crews by giving them an overhead view of how a fire is spreading.

“It kind of boiled down to – we need one in Central Texas,” Devlin said. Hewitt police are matching the donation.

He believes having their own drone would have cut down on the time it took to catch Gus.

“I’d never thought we’d get outrun by a basset hound, but I also think if we did have the drone we could have launched that, we could have had control with that, I think it could have made a pretty big difference in the amount of time that he was actually on the loose,” said Devlin.

Devlin said the department is researching the purchase, but could have a drone in the air within the year. Firefighters, police officers and animal control staff will be trained how to use the equipment.

Gus disappeared July 24th. Mutts & Mayhem, a Dallas are rescue group, joined the search effort, using its thermal drone for three different overnight surveillance missions. Those helped lead searchers to the area where, in September, they set a trap and caught him.