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Tag: services

A dog park for the dogs of the homeless

A Seattle-area church that offers its parking lot and other facilities to homeless women has added a mini-dog park — so the dogs belonging to those women can romp off leash.

Volunteers with the non-profit group Fences for Fido put up the fencing Saturday at Kirkland’s Lake Washington United Methodist Church, KING5 reported.

The church runs a “Safe Parking” program, and 40-50 women and families a night sleep there in their cars.

The women, after registering with the program and getting a background check, can use the church’s kitchen, bathrooms and Wi-Fi, and if temperatures outside get below freezing the women can sleep inside on the church’s pews.

They also have access to food and toiletries donated by church members, community resource information and counseling services.

“We recognize that people who are homeless and have a vehicle face challenges in where to park their car without fear of tickets or harassment,” the church explains on its website.

“We also recognize that homelessness can be isolating and the benefits of community and relationships can be life-transforming. We at Lake Washington United Methodist Church offer our parking lot to guests as a safe place to park, sleep in their cars, and become part of our church community.”

Now the church has recognized that many of those homeless women also have dogs, which can often be a reason they haven’t found space in shelters.

The fenced-in dog run was constructed by Fences for Fido, a Portland-based non-profit that provides dog houses, spay-neuter services, veterinary care and fencing to families whose dogs are chained or tethered.

“The fact that the church has stepped up and is utilizing their facilities to help these women makes it even more important that we step up and help them keep their pets because their pets are their family and their friends,” said Michele Coppola, a member of the group.

One of the safe parkers, who identified herself as Cheryl, lives in her VW Jetta car with her dog, Shiloh. Her own health issues make it hard for her to see that Shiloh gets enough exercise.

She said it was a “huge deal … to be able to get her out of the back seat, to have her be able to romp and play and run free for a while.”

Rover.com gobbles up DogVacay

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The country’s largest online pet sitting and dog walking company has bought out the second largest.

Rover.com, based in Seattle, was already top dog, but by acquiring DogVacay, based in Los Angeles, it becomes one offering pet owners access to more than 100,000 “five-star” pet walkers, boarders and sitters across the country.

Together, the two companies generated over $150 million in bookings in 2016.

The combined company will keep the Rover name, and will remain based in Seattle, Geekwire.com reports.

Terms of the all-stock deal were not revealed.

According to the Los Angeles Times, 22 of DogVacay’s 100-plus employees will be laid off.

The combined company, which will have 250 employees, will be led by Rover.com CEO Aaron Easterly. DogVacay CEO Aaron Hirschhorn will join the board of directors

Both companies provide customers with access to independent pet-sitters and dog-walkers, and keep about 20 percent of the fees those contractors charge clients. Pet owners also pay a service fee of up to 7% with each booking.

“Rover and DogVacay are both made up of dog people on a mission to enable everyone to experience the love and joy of a pet,” Easterly said in a news release. “Together, we can accomplish our goals quicker and make an even bigger impact. Plus, this partnership will enable us to pick up engineering velocity, bring new products to market faster and invest even more aggressively in building the best tools for our sitters and dog walkers.”

Rapid Paws: A limousine service for dogs

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There’s a new taxi service for dogs in the nation’s capital.

Launched earlier this month, Rapid Paws will transport your pooch (or cat) wherever he or she needs to go — be it vet, groomer, day care, airport, or even to another state.

The on-demand limousine service for animals has a fleet of two climate controlled, high-roofed vans, and they’re even equipped with cams should you want to check in and take a look as your dog gets from here to there.

Customers can schedule a a door-to-door pickup and local delivery to anywhere in Washington and its burbs, and they can do that by phone, via the Rapid Paws website, or through a smartphone app.

While the service may sound over the top, owner Paul Ozner says it’s filling a need.

“It’s an excessive service for some, in terms of basic necessities. But some of the people in this area, they’re time-constrained, and they do have pets. So what are you going to do? You have to treat them right,” he told the Washington Post.

So far, he said, most clients are middle aged professionals too busy to take off work to run their pet to the vet, or disabled, ill or elderly pet owners seeking a little help.

Rapid Paws has teamed up with one real estate company to transport the dogs or cats of people who are relocating.

Ozner said he and his partners came up with the idea based on their experience with a company that delivered meals to schools and the elderly.

Fares typically run from $25 to $60, depending on the length of the trip.

A matter of Faith: Girl, 5, gets service dog


A family in northern Maine says it is “overwhelmed” by the generosity they saw from friends and strangers who donated enough money for them to get a service dog for their 5-year-old daughter, Faith.

Faith has spina bifida and experiences seizures. The new dog — a black Lab named Dandy — has been trained to detect when they might be coming.

Bruce and Beverly McNally, of Island Falls, took Faith in as a foster child, then as their adopted daughter. They quickly realized they needed help monitoring her for the seizures, which could be deadly if not addressed.

“The family became very worried, which is why they wanted to get the dog,” Michele King, Faith’s aunt, told the Bangor Daily News.

King is also the chief administrative officer for Brave Hearts, a nonprofit Christian home for young men in Island Falls, and that organization sponsored a fundraiser last month to try and raise the $2,500 that was needed.

King said that donations came from the more than 100 people who attended a benefit supper, and from people as far away as North Carolina.

“We just couldn’t believe it,” Beverly McNally said. “We eventually had enough money and we had to gently turn people away. We had to tell them that we had enough for the dog, but that we wanted them to donate the money to a charity of their own choosing.”

Dandy came from CARES — Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services — a nonprofit organization in Concordia, Kansas, that trains and matches assistance dogs with owners.

“Dandy has just been wonderful for Faith,” McNally said on Friday. “She picks up on a chemical change in the body when a seizure occurs. One day when we got back, Faith was very lethargic. She was in the chair with me and needed to be snuggled a lot more. And the dog got up in the chair and started whining. And I didn’t realize what was going on. And 45 minutes later, Faith had a seizure. Then I realized what the dog was trying to tell me.”

(Photo: Michele King)

“Nightclub” for dogs opening in New York

fetchclubManhattan’s dogs will soon have a place to enjoy a night on the town — the Fetch Club, a  3,000-foot indoor dog park/canine club offering spa services, homemade meals and a “doggie disco.”

Scheduled to open next month in a renovated former tobacco factory one block from the South Street Seaport, the establishment will also include a “high-end” boutique, and a lounge where humans can drink coffee, schmooze and Twitter while their dogs frolic.

The New York Post reports that permission to open the club didn’t come easy: After concerns about noise were expressed by neighbors, the  Department of Buildings issued a stop-work order in early April. The department reviewed Fetch Club’s permits and ruled the building wasn’t zoned for kennels — meaning it can’t board dogs overnight.

Owner Peter Balestrieri invested $50,000 in additional noise insulation for the club, adding about 8 inches of padding to his walls and ceiling.

While the club won’t board dogs overnight, Balestrieri says it will be the perfect stop for clubbing humans to drop off their dogs. He says he hopes to equip the doggie dance club with a disco ball.

“We’re serious about the well-being of animals, but we also want them to have fun,” said co-owner Jenna Lee, a former finance worker now taking veterinary courses.

Stray dogs get another day in California

shakespearedogAccording to the old saying — at least as old as Shakespeare — every dog has his day. 

In California they just got an extra one.

Interpreting a regulation that sets the “holding period” for a stray dog impounded in a public or private animal shelter at “six business days” (or, if certain exceptions apply, “four business days”), a state appeals court in San Francisco has ruled that Saturdays don’t count as business days.

The ruling  was the first to interpret a 1998 California law that increased the holding periods for public and private shelters, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The ruling will affect Contra Costa County Animal Services and all other counties and cities with similar policies.

The case goes back to 2006, when a miniature pinscher named Duke, was impounded at a county shelter in Pinole on a Thursday. The shelter held the dog until the following Wednesday, when another person took him. Duke’s owner, Veena Purifoy, went to the shelter the next day the following to find him gone.

She sued both the county and the new owner, who relinquished Duke in a settlement, Evans said. The suit against the county challenged its claim that the shelter had held the dog for the required four business days.

Overturning a judge’s ruling in the county’s favor, the appeals court said the state law did not define business days but was intended to increase holding periods from the pre-1998 law, which required a 72-hour hold.

Excluding Saturday as a business day serves “the legislative goal of access, because longer holding periods will often provide more opportunities for redemption and adoption,” Justice Martin Jenkins said in the 3-0 ruling.

(Photo from Cafepress.com)

Shelter conditions lead to firing in Memphis

memphisdogThis photo helped authorities in Shelby County, Tennessee get the search warrant that was used in a predawn raid that led to the temporary closure of the Memphis Animal Shelter two weeks ago.

The raid followed allegations of mismanagement, mistreatment of animals and improper euthanizations.

The mayor of Memphis, A C  Wharton, fired Animal Services Director Ernest Alexander Friday — a day after residents held a candlelight vigil at the facility.

“I am not an expert on (animal shelters), but I tell you what, I can walk in here and tell you whether it is clean or dirty,” Wharton said Friday during a news conference at the shelter. “I can tell you the difference between a pet that has been fed and cared for and loved and not loved.”

Wharton’s decision to fire Alexander came after shelter employees improperly euthanized a dog and preliminary results of a city investigation showed the facility had been mismanaged, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.

In addition to Alexander’s termination, three other shelter employees remain suspended with pay until the city investigation is complete.

Last week, Wharton established a committee to review the shelter’s operations and installed surveillance cameras that the public can access online. Members of the committee will monitor the shelter daily.

Public pressure for Wharton to take action at the shelter — long criticized by animal rights activists — has been building since Shelby County sheriff’s deputies raided the facility last week.

The puppy in the photo was admitted to the Memphis Animal Shelter Aug. 18, and died Sept. 4.  A necropsy showed the dog hadn’t eaten in at least 72 hours.