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Tag: retired

Getting every last drop from greyhounds

As if racing their hearts out weren’t enough, some greyhounds are retired to dog blood banks where they live caged all day long, except for outings to get their blood drawn.

PETA last month exposed one such kennel, The Pet Blood Bank, Inc., in Cherokee, Texas, which houses about 150 retired greyhounds — solely for the purpose of extracting and selling their blood and blood products.

The products, PETA reported, are distributed by Patterson Veterinary Supply, Inc., which did about $3 billion worth of business in 2016.

After the the PETA expose and a story in The Washington Post, Patterson Veterinary Supply announced it would take steps to correct the horrible conditions they described.

bloodbankBut PETA says no steps have been taken, even after they had Paul McCartney send a plea to the company.

Patterson Veterinary Supply initially announced it would terminate business with the The Pet Blood Bank, Inc.

It also promised to support “efforts to ensure that the animals receive appropriate care.” Bu PETA says it has seen no evidence of any such efforts.

The whistle-blower was Bill Larsen, 60, a former employee of the blood bank who went back to work there and was horrified by how conditions had deteriorated.

Larsen, who took the incriminating photos, said he unsuccessfully sought help from local animal shelters and a state agency before contacting PETA. “I just like dogs,” he said, and “hate for any animal to get treated like that.”

The photos show kenneled dogs with open wounds, rotting teeth and toenails curling into their paw pads.

The blood bank was founded in 2004 by Austin entrepreneur Mark Ziller, who said he initially sought volunteers and used a bloodmobile. When that did not turn up enough dogs, the company began using retired greyhounds housed in a kennel on a private farm northwest of Austin, the Post reported.

Ziller said he sold the company in November 2015 to Shane Altizer, whose family owns the farm in Cherokee.

“The Pet Blood Bank had a noble mission: It provided blood for veterinarians to use in lifesaving transfusions,” Ziller tod the Post. After viewing the photos PETA obtained, he added, “To see the animals in that state is beyond depressing.”

Altizer did not deny that the images were taken there, but said they predated his 2015 purchase of the company or were “moment snapshots” unrepresentative of overall conditions now.

Blood banks help save thousands of animals a year, but they are also profit-driven and unregulated.

With more medical procedures being used by vets, transfusions are more often required, and animal blood banks struggle to meet the demand. Only one state, California, regulates such operations and requires annual inspections.

bloodbank2Greyhounds are considered especially desirable as donors because they typically have a universal blood type and have big neck veins that make drawing blood easy.

Veterinarian Anne Hale, former CEO of the nation’s first and largest commercial animal blood bank, said she visited the Pet Blood Bank this summer and was “pleasantly surprised” with conditions there. After viewing the PETA photos and video though, she said, “It appears that the facility was ‘cleaned up’ before our touring … I agree that this facility should be addressed. This certainly suggests that regional, state and/or federal regulation is warranted.”

Former Beatle McCartney, who wrote a letter on PETA’s behalf, wants to see all the dogs removed from the facility.

“I have had dogs since I was a boy and loved them all dearly, including Martha who was my companion for about 15 years and about whom I wrote the song ‘Martha, My Dear,'” McCartney wrote. “I join my friends at PETA in asking you to pay these greyhounds back, and to let them retire from the dirt-floored, barren conditions in which they are kept isolated and alone.”

(Photos and video from PETA)

For retired racing greyhounds prison can be the path to adoption

prisongreyhounds2

Prisons and greyhound tracks are, in many ways, pretty similar beasts and, whether you’re a person or a dog, you don’t want to spend too much time in the belly of either.

Both can be cold and institutional. Both require spending a lot of time caged. In one, you are encouraged to run; in the other, that’s not advisable. Whether you’re a greyhound living at a track or a human serving a prison sentence, your liberties are taken away, you do what you are told to do, and day to day life can be bleak.

Going from living at a greyhound track to living in a prison may not seem a step in the right direction, but for hundreds of greyhounds it has been.

For retired racing dogs, prisons are increasingly coming to symbolize, of all things, freedom.

Thanks to groups like Prison Greyhounds, featured in an article in this week’s Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel, racing dogs deemed to have lost their edge on the track, are learning the manners and behaviors they need to be successfully adopted.

prisongreyhoundsHeadquartered in Indianapolis, Prison Greyhounds is an all-volunteer organization that accepts dogs retired from Daytona Beach Racing and Card Club and places them with specially selected inmates at the Putnamville Correctional Facility in Greencastle, Indiana.

The dogs spend two months being trained and sleep in crates next to their assigned inmate’s bunk.

As with other prison programs that work with shelter dogs, the greyhound program — one of a handful across the country — provides benefits to the prisoners, and the prisons, as well.

The inmate handlers, who have been coached on dog training, gain job skills. And the presence of the dogs provides a calming effect on the entire prison population.

A team of two inmate-handlers is assigned to each dog. Prison Greyhounds covers the costs of veterinary care, bedding, leashes and other supplies.

Once the dogs graduate they’re ready for adoption, for a fee of $275.

(Photos from PrisonGreyhounds.org)

Knicks present veteran with service dog

Retired Army Sergeant Luciano Yulfo was invited to a New York Knicks game Wednesday to receive a personalized Knicks jersey as part of the team’s Hoops for Troops program.

Before you make any “36 years in the army and all I got was this stupid shirt” jokes, though, keep watching the video above, because at the end Yulfo gets what he has been waiting 18 months for — a service dog to help him cope with injuries he received in Afghanistan in 2014.

During a break between quarters at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night, the Knicks honored the retired sergeant first class — the latest in a series of veterans to be recognized during games in the days leading up to Veterans Day.

Yulfo was injured on duty in Afghanistan in 2014, and was stationed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center before retiring this past April.

He’d been on a service dog waiting list for 18 months.

Then, the Knicks, Budweiser and Paws of War came through with Murphy, a golden retriever presented to him Wednesday, according to Fox Sports.

The Knicks have honored several military members during games as part of their Hoops for Troops program. In addition to the on-court recognition, honorees get to attend a practice to meet players.

Paws of War trains and places rescued dogs to serve and provide independence to our United States military veterans who suffer the emotional effects of war.

Oink in Advertising: The Chase pig

As those who regularly tune in for our “Woof in Advertising” features know, there’s no animal — with the possible exception of the scantily clad human female — that advertisers turn to more often to sell their products than the dog.

It’s because of the special connection we have with the species, because of the qualities they have come to represent (like loyalty and trustworthiness to name two), and because they are, generally speaking, the cutest things ever.

oinkPercy James, the miniature pig featured in this ad for Chase bank, may give dogs a run for the money in that last category.

Sure, pigs are associated with fatness, laziness and sloth (not traits your average bank would want to equate itself with), but those are the big farm versions that often become ham, pork chops and bacon. Not to mention wallets.

The miniature pig, while maybe not a whole different animal, symbolizes, well, we’re not sure what, but in this ad it represents independence, maybe mixed with a little streak of rebelliousness.

In the ad, a confident looking retired couple (we can only assume they have a nice nest egg) are taking their unique pet “Percy James” for a walk in the park.

“You live life your way,” a narrator says. “We can help you retire your way, too. Financial guidance while you’re mastering life. Chase … so you can.”

The song? It’s “Boombastic,” by Shaggy.

(Click on this link for more Woof in Advertising posts.)

The K-9 kiss-off: Friends with no benefits

Izzy was a police dog in Longmont, Colorado until an on-the-job injury led to his retirement. Now, more than two years later, he’s in need of surgery — related to that injury — that could cost $6,000.

That the Fraternal Order of Police in Longmont is turning to the public to try and raise that money is noble.

That they are forced to is wrong.

“He worked for us for nine years and he did a lot of good work in those nine years,” Detective Steve Schulz, president of the Longmont FOP, told the Longmont Times-Call.

As I see it, Longmont owes Izzy for that.

A police dog that serves his city — like a soldier who serves his country — deserves to be taken care of by that city, especially when his injuries are related to that service.

And he deserves to be taken care of FOREVER.

Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. Retired police dogs in some jurisdictions are euthanized when their service is complete. Others allow them to retire and remain in the care of their partner/handler.

At that point, as with Izzy, the city cuts off any assistance with care, feeding or veterinary bills.

As Izzy’s handler, Detective Bruce Vaughan pointed out, in the city’s view, dogs are “equipment.”

Izzy was injured while helping catch a suspect in April 2007.  After crashing his truck in a high-speed chase, the suspect ran. Izzy chased him down. In the fray that followed, the dog was flipped over and suffered an injury to his spine, which Vaughan said has been diagnosed as a ruptured disk.

The suspect, who had led police on two previous chases,and reportedly had pointed a gun at the head of two different women, was convicted in December 2007 on menacing and drug charges and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Other than the injury, which makes it difficult for the dog to use his hind legs, Vaughan said, Izzy is healthy. “He still has a puppy face. He’s got a lot of energy,” he said.

Donations for the surgery, estimated to cost $6,000, can be made to FOP No. 6 K9 Fund, in care of Guarantee Bank and Trust, P.O. Box 1159, Longmont, Colo. 80502.

Dog-lovers, I suspect, will likely come through for Izzy.

It’s a shame that city he served did not.

Greyhounds Reach the Beach

The butt-sniffing has begun in Dewey Beach.

About 4,000 greyhounds are converging on the Delaware beach this weekend, where — butt-sniffing aside — they generally behave far more civilly than the humans who normally converge there in summer.

The Greyhound Project Inc., a nonprofit organization that promotes and helps the adoption of retired racing greyhounds, is the main sponsor of the event, which began when three women got together on the internet to talk about their greyhounds, then decided to meet in person.

They were only able to find one motel that would allow their dogs — the Atlantic Oceanside on Route 1 in Dewey. “Greyhounds Reach the Beach,” which has grown to atrract thousands and is now in its fourteenth year, has been held there ever since, according to Delmarva Now.

The five-day event include seminars for greyhound owners, greyhound inspired art shows and a Mardi Greys Costume Ball. To learn more, visit the Greyhounds Reach the Beach website.