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Tag: rescues

Half of Kentucky’s county animal shelters called substandard — and nobody’s watching

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One day after basking in the nationwide attention the Kentucky Derby brings, Kentuckians woke up to the reality of how another species of animal is being treated by the state.

The Lexington Herald-Leader presented a package of stories addressing the often poor conditions in the state’s rarely monitored animal shelters.

In a state most famous for racing horses — and doing so in manner that almost appears civilized, what with the all the elegant outfits, mint juleps and whimsical hats — many dogs are living far less regal lives, stuck in county-run shelters that, under state law, receive almost no scrutiny from state agencies.

Unlike most states, Kentucky’s animal-shelter law does not include any inspection or enforcement provisions, which means any actions taken against them such shelters must from citizens.

Not until 2004 did state laws even get written to lay down minimum standards for county-run shelters. Those new measures required each county to have access to a shelter and animal-control officer, and set out standards that include protection from the weather; basic veterinary care or humane euthanasia for ill or injured animals; adequate heat in winter; clean and dry pens with adequate room for animal comfort; construction with materials that can be properly cleaned and disinfected; available clean water; uncontaminated food provided daily; and public access to the facility.

Those laws didn’t outline how, or specify who, was responsible for enforcing those standards.

A measure in the 2017 legislative session called for a study of ways to better fund animal shelters and cited the need for a “government entity” to enforce the state’s shelter rules, but it died without consideration.

That lack of enforcement is a large part of the reason the Animal Legal Defense Fund has ranked the state last in animal protection laws for 11 years in a row.

A study by the University of Kentucky, done in 2016, found that of 92 shelters covering Kentucky’s 120 counties – some of them regional facilities – conditions at 57 percent violated three or more provisions of Kentucky’s animal-shelter laws.

More than a fourth were considered “very substandard,” and only 12 percent were meeting all the rules the legislature put in place in 2004.

“Current laws do not appear to be fully satisfactory at accomplishing the goal of providing good shelter animal care across Kentucky,” said the study.

skaggsWhile county-run shelters operate with relative immunity, independent nonprofit sanctuaries and shelters get no such free ride, as was the case last week when the state Department of Agriculture seized 14 dogs from a no-kill sanctuary called Eden.

Randy J. Skaggs, who operates the sanctuary in Elliot County through his Trixie Foundation, faces 179 misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty in connection with poor health and living conditions.

Skaggs defenders say he has devoted his life to caring for animals because so many public shelters in the region were substandard.

Skaggs says he is housing animals no one else wants, and that shelters would end up euthanizing. He refuses to let anyone adopt dogs because believes their best chance to live a healthy and happy life is at his sanctuary.

Skaggs believes the criminal charges against him are retaliation over his efforts to bring attention to Kentucky’s failure to adopt adequate animal protection laws, his criticisms of county shelters and his efforts to push for improvements.

(Photos: Will Wright / Lexington Herald-Leader)

Thief snatches trailer New Mexico rescue group used for adoption events

The theft of a trailer loaded with pet supplies Saturday means some dogs will wait a little longer for homes, and that an Albuquerque rescue group called the People’s Anti-Cruelty Association is going to have to rebuild.

The trailer was parked at a street corner where the nonprofit volunteer group holds adoption events every Saturday.

Sometime during the night, thieves hauled it away, along with the paperwork, leashes, pet food and other supplies inside, KOB in Albuquerque reported.

“When they stole our trailer it has greatly, greatly hindered our ability to (help animals) because if we can’t find it and its contents, we’re going to have to start all over,” said Arnielle Fernandez, a volunteer with PACA. “And that is very pricey.”

“Everything that was in the trailer was like crates that we set up for our dogs, our collars, our leashes, some dog food. Puppy pens, blankets, you know, towels – everything we need to function,” Fernandez said. “Ordinarily we, throughout the years, we have found permanent loving homes for thousands of dogs and cats.”

The group is now asking the public to keep an eye out for the trailer, which is white and has paw print decals, along with the PACA logo.

“Ask them to bring it back. That would be wonderful. It would be like Christmas in May,” Fernandez said.

While the group works to plan another event this weekend, Fernandez said it will be more difficult to pull off.

“Anybody that is in such a horrible state, on a personal level, that would do something like that to a non-profit rescue organization – they’re of very, very little character,” she said.

Happy ending turned bad, new one needed

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That blind dachshund and his pit bull guide dog we wrote about last week are both back in the Richmond animal shelter after the person who adopted them failed to keep her promise to keep the bonded pair together.

Richmond Animal Care and Control Shelter (RACC) proudly announced last week that the pair — surrendered by an owner who had become homeless — had been adopted together.

But a few days later, the happy story took a turn.

OJ, the blind dachshund, was found separated from his friend, about 100 miles away from where they were adopted in Richmond, WRTV reported.

The pair were originally surrendered when their owner became homeless, according to posts by Richmond Animal Care and Control. A picture of the two animals went viral on social media and they were quickly adopted.

OJ., the elder of the two, relied on Blue Dozer, the pit bull, and they would need to be adopted together, according to the posts.

After releasing the dogs to what they thought was a responsible owner, RACC got a call from the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center, reporting that OJ was in their custody after being brought in by someone who claimed to have found him as a stray.

Page Hearn, who runs the rescue group Virginia Paws for Pits in Augusta County, said OJ was found wandering and taken to the shelter, where his microchip was traced back to RACC.

The adopter, Hearn said, declined to take back the blind dog, and declined, at least intitially, to surrender Blue Dozer. Later she agreed to return the pit bull.

In an interview with WWTB, the adopter, identified only as Colleen, said she never intended to keep the dogs separated.

But, she said, OJ bit several people within the first two hours after she brought him home, leading her to ask a friend to temporarily take care of the dachshund.

She said she didn’t know OJ was missing from that friend’s home until the shelter called her.

RACC Director Christie Chipps Peters said in an email that they “are very upset over what has transpired.”

Robin Starr, CEO of Richmond SPCA, noted, “There is no shelter that doesn’t have an adoption not turn out well from time to time because people are not totally predictable.”

(Photo: Blue Dozer and OJ, from RACC Facebook page)

USDA considers closer regulation of rescues


A Washington Post investigation that revealed 86 rescue and dog-advocacy groups and shelters nationwide have spent $2.68 million buying dogs from breeders at auctions has prompted the U.S. Agriculture Department to issue a bulletin stating that those groups may need to be licensed under the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Traditionally, they are not, and thereby operate independently of any federal regulations — even though they are, in effect, buying and selling dogs all while characterizing that work as “rescuing” and finding dogs adoptive homes.

“Our job is to ensure the humane treatment of the animals we regulate,” Deputy Administrator Bernadette Juarez, who leads the department’s animal-care program, said in the bulletin, which cited “dog acquisitions from an auction for resale (including adoption) as pets” as a reason that individuals or groups may require federal regulation.

SONY DSCThe USDA announcement came just days after the Washington Post investigation was published, triggering a public response that the Post reported on yesterday.

The initial report cited cases of bidders aligned with rescue organizations paying more than $1,000 per dog, in one case $8,000.

Altogether, the 86 rescue and advocacy groups and shelters that have registered to participate in the two government-regulated auctions, both in Missouri, have spent $2.68 million buying 5,761 dogs and puppies from breeders since 2009.

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

National animal welfare groups reacted to the report with differing levels of concern.

The Humane Society of the United States — which in March sued the USDA, claiming it has failed to release breeding-kennel inspection reports in violation of open-records law — said the agency should instead do a better job of regulating breeders.

“BREAKING: the USDA is planning to scrutinize pet rescue groups and require many of them to become licensed — even as it fails to crack down on puppy mills and covers up their inspection reports,” the Humane Society posted on the Facebook page of its Puppy Mills Campaign.

“This is not rescue; this is enabling abuse,” wrote Julie Castle, chief development, marketing and communications officer for the Best Friends Animal Society. “Buying puppies from puppy mill breeders and selling them to the public is not rescue. It’s the pet trade and it needs to be exposed.”

PETA said some rescuers are “propping up the dog-breeding industry. Handing thousands of dollars to the very people who are exacerbating the animal-homelessness crisis allows them to keep profiting from animals’ suffering.”

Mike Bober, president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, urged a USDA investigation of the practice: “Federal regulators should require all organizations that operate as pet dealers under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) be licensed as such.”

While some in the breeding community cheered the USDA’s bulletin and said regulation of rescuers by the USDA was long overdue, others voicing an opinion said the federal government should leave rescuers alone and instead focus on what they call “puppy mills.”

“I will never donate to a rescue that buys dogs from an auction,” said one. “That article was an eye opener. I have never heard of such a thing, but will definitely check out the rescue I support to see if they do this. The rescues who do this should be closed down. The money spent to buy the dogs was astronomical and insane.”

Other animal lovers say rescuers are well-intentioned and above reproach:

“Why you would go out of your way to bash people for trying to help innocent animals is disgusting and idiotic!”

The Post’s investigation detailed the little-known business practice in which some rescue groups — mostly those dedicated to rescuing certain purebred breeds — buy dogs from breeders at auctions, then charge “adoption fees” to place them in new homes.

The rescue groups say buying auction dogs is necessary to remove them from the commercial breeding industry, while others said the practice just feeds money to the very breeders that rescuers often decry as puppy mills.

Nathan Winograd, founder of the No Kill Advocacy Center, which pushes for shelter overhauls, urged all sides to step out of what he called their ‘ideological straitjackets’ and instead take a reasoned approach to considering the facts.

Wrote one commenter, “I’m an executive director of a fairly large humane society in the South. . . . The premise of this story is that people are buying dogs at auction from breeders in an effort to ‘rescue’ them. This highlights the emotional problems you see in the rescue community, that blinds them to rational thought, or good judgment. If you think you are ‘rescuing’ dogs by buying them, in any way shape or form, you are in complete denial.”

The 86 rescue organizations named in the auction records reviewed by the Post are a tiny minority of the thousands of such organization in the U.S and Canada.

As one person commented on the Post article, “There are still a lot of dogs that need help, and a lot of good organizations trying to help them.”

Dogs as artists, dogs as art

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The idea, or so it seems, was to have dogs serve as artists — covering the canines with pet-safe paint and having them shake it off, creating Jackson Pollock type canvases in the process.

Pawsitive Ohio, a non-profit group whose mission is to end the euthanasia of dogs in Northeast Ohio shelters, was behind the effort to raise funds by auctioning off the resulting artworks at an event to be held in April.

But, at least from what has been revealed so far, it looks like the dogs — all seniors and all rescues — might have become the art, moreso than they became the artists.

Photographs of the dogs during their creative process turned out to be art in themselves, and they were recently posted on the Pawsitive Ohio website. None of the paintings the dogs created were.

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According to Cleveland.com, both the photos and the artworks will be on display at three upcoming events.

The dogs created their works in the photography studio of David Baio.

“David is a dog lover who graciously and patiently allowed our artists to create their art in his studio,” said Jennifer Harrington, director of Pawsitive Ohio. “We originally thought the canvases would be the stars of the show, but David’s photographs are incredible … the photographs alongside the canvases truly complete the collection.”

The photos show dogs dripping paint, shaking off paint and licking paint — made of corn starch and food coloring — from their snouts.

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Both the paintings and photos will be on display March 9-23 at the Massillon Museum, 121 Lincoln Way, Massillon. Then the artwork will be on display April 10-20 at the Canton Museum Of Art, 1001 Market Ave., Canton.

After that, the canvases and photography will be auctioned at the “SHAKE! Shades Of Gray” fundraising event on April 21 at the Canton Cultural Center For The Arts, 1001 Market Ave., Canton.

All funds raised will go towards Pawsitive Ohio’s mission of ending needless death of homeless dogs in Northeast Ohio. The organization raises funds for adoptions, spay and neuter programs and educational materials.

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)

Chloe 2.0: Woman adopts the dog that her family surrendered when she was a child

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When a Pennsylvania woman saw a pomeranian-poodle mix up for adoption in a Facebook post, the dog reminded her so much of her childhood dog that she decided to look into adopting her.

That’s when she found out it was her childhood dog.

Nicole Grimes said the photo of her dog, reminded of her beloved childhood puppy, named Chloe, who her family surrendered to a shelter seven years ago because she was too “yappy.”

It was until she met the 11-year-old dog, also named Chloe, that she began suspecting the new Chloe might also be the old Chloe.

The dog bounded over to her and began licking her face.

“Then I knew in my heart that she had to be the same dog,” Grimes told the BBC.

Grimes husband was skeptical, but a check of the dog’s microchip determined it was the same Chloe.

grimes2“We couldn’t believe it. It’s just crazy,” Grimes said.

Grimes got Chloe on her tenth birthday — a gift from her grandmother.

Four years later, though, after her father began working at home, he found the dog was too loud. Grimes remembers the day her dad picked her up from school with the dog in the back seat and they drove to the shelter.

Grimes said Chloe is toothless now, but “still loves to run around” and spend time with her four-month-old daughter, Violet.

“They love to play with each other. Chloe is very gentle with Violet and it warms my heart to see them together.”

(Photos: At top, Grimes with Chloe then and with Chloe now; Chloe with Grimes’ daughter, Violet; courtesy of family, via BBC)