When you’re homeless, you can run into a lot of Catch 22’s — those can’t-win situations that, even when you’re taking steps to improve your life, tend to make things appear even more hopeless.
Having a dog is a perfect example.
To a homeless person, having a dog (or, in the case of our Monday post, a cat) can have numerous benefits: Protection, for one. It can instill a greater will to survive and succeed. It can provide some self-esteem, emotional security, and companionship for sure — the kind that comes without judgment.
While some segments of society may be repulsed by the sight of you, your dog will always be thrilled.
But having a dog when you’re homeless can also be a tremendous obstacle — keeping you from being admitted to homeless shelters, finding the money to feed it, and making already problematic chores, like going to the bathroom, even more problematic.
Still, it’s not unusual that, when given a choice between shelter and their dog, the dog often comes first — as has been the case so far with a recently homeless woman and her boxer mix, named Cow, featured in a two-part series in the Toledo Blade this week.
“She is my whole world, my rock. I don’t know what I’d do without her.” 51-year-old Diann Wears said of her dog.
Wears, who in earlier stages of her troubled life worked as a prostitute and was addicted to crack, said it is her first time living on the streets.
“It’s totally new to me and totally scary, I’m not gonna lie,” she said. “But Cow and I, we have each other, and she gives me a lot of love and support.”
She says she tried to find an apartment that her Social Security and Supplemental Security Income would cover, but “they either turned me down because of Cow, or because I don’t make enough money.”
She has no intention of parting with Cow, she said.
Toledo’s homeless shelters — like most across the country — do not allow pets, and she was rejected, she said, by a YWCA shelter that provides haven for women fleeing domestic violence and their pets.
“They don’t think I’m in danger from my ex,” Wears said.
So Wears and Cow remain without shelter — unless you count the overhang of the bus station’s roof.
Having a dog, Wears noted, makes simple tasks, like attending a free meal, more difficult. She either has to leave Cow outside, leashed to her shopping cart, or find a friend she trusts enough to watch him.
Sometimes, she says, it’s hard to simply find a place in the shade to rest — without being told to leave, either because of the dog or because she is loitering.
She often sits on the grass at St. Paul United Methodist Church, where the pastor allows her to stay as long as neither she nor Cow causes any trouble, the Blade reported. (You can find part two of the series here.)
“We don’t bother anybody, but people judge us anyway because we’re homeless,” Diann said. “Or they’re afraid of Cow, even when she’s just lying there.”
Wears said Cow provides her some protection during the night.
Unsure as she is of the future, she is committed to two things — keeping Cow by her side and not going back to her abusive boyfriend.
“It’s hard out here, but I’m away from that at least I’ll take my chances out here. I have my dog and we’ll survive one way or the other, some kind of way.”
(Photo: The Toledo Blade)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 21st, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abuse, animals, benefits, boxer, catch 22, choice, cow, diann wears, dilemma, dogs, homeless, homeless shelters, mix, obstacles, ohio, paradox, pets, shelters, toledo, toledo blade
A dream decades in the making — one that is said to date back to the early 1900’s and a dog who rode a streetcar to deliver lunch to his owner — became a shiny new reality yesterday.
The Forsyth Humane Society opened its new shelter on Country Club Road in Winston-Salem — one with double the old shelter’s capacity, lots of space for dogs to romp and more than 10 times as much parking.
Even so, the new parking lot was overflowing within an hour of the grand opening, and FHS reported on its Facebook page that 26 animals were adopted before the day ended — 21 dogs and six cats.
The landmark day began with a flag raising, and saw a non-stop stream of visitors — some there to adopt, some there to check out what, thanks to a $3.8 million fundraising drive, the humane society had turned a former seafood restaurant into.
For 75 years, the Forsyth Humane Society has acted as an advocate for unwanted and uncared for dogs and cats.
It owes its start to money left in a will by Lydia Schouler for the purposes of establishing a fund in the name of her husband, department store owner D.D. Schouler, that would help prevent cruelty to animals.
The Schoulers wanted to honor the memory of their dog, who would catch a streetcar every day to bring Mr. Schouler his lunch.
The facility is the third to house the Forsyth Humane Society, which first took up residence in an old house, then built and moved into a larger building on Miller Street in the 1980’s.
They soon found themselves cramped there, and about five years ago began looking at raising funds needed for a new shelter.
“This has been a dream of the Forsyth Humane Society for decades,” Sarah Williamson, the center’s executive director, told the Winston-Salem Journal.
The new shelter has space for up to 100 animals. There’s a new, more accessible intake center, storage space for food donations and a gift shop named “Re-Tail,” that features Forsyth Humane Society labeled clothing.
It is named in honor of longtime donors Chris and Mike Morykwas, who helped fund the construction of the new building. The old building, after the family helped fund its expansion, was named in honor of their two bassett hounds, Franklin and Peabody Morykwas.
It’s intriguing how so many of the good things done for dogs can be traced back to dogs — and the inspiration they provide.
It is to me at least. That’s one of the reasons I’m teaming up with the Forsyth Humane Society, in a volunteer capacity, to serve as their historian and archivist.
As it steps into the future, I’m going to dig up what I can about its past.
You’re invited to help. Please contact me if you have any documents, memorabilia, scrapbook entries, photos, memories or reminiscences about its history — especially its early years, and that lunch-toting dog.
The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 24th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adopted, adoption, animal welfare, animals, archivist, bus, cats, d.d. schouler, dd schouler, dogs, dream, facility, forsyth humane society, future, historian, lunch, lydia schouler, morykwas, new, north carolina, opening, opens, past, pets, rescues, shelter, shelters, streetcar, true, winston salem foundation, winston-salem
The Olympics provide us regular folks with a lot of inspiration — whether it’s to chase a big dream, get off the couch and start exercising a little bit, or simply come up with a name for a new dog.
Meet Leah Smith, a pit bull mix at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society who has been named after the gold medal-winning swimmer from Mount Lebanon, Pa.
Leah Smith, the human, returned home this week with a gold medal for the women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay and a bronze medal for the 400-meter freestyle.
And one of the first things she did was meet Leah Smith, the dog.
The humane society posted these photos of the meeting — during which the dog got to try on the Olympian’s medals — on its Facebook page
KDKA in Pittsburgh reports that the one-year-old pit bull came to the humane society as a stray.
Given how often they have to name dogs, it’s not surprising that an animal shelter would turn to athletes, historical figures, or names in the headlines, for some fresh and innovative monikers.
I haven’t fully researched it — because I’m on the couch, watching the Olympics — but I’m sure that over the years plenty of dogs have been named after Olympic athletes.
There are bound to have been both canines and felines who went through life named Carl Lewis, Peggy Fleming, Greg Lougainis, Mary Lou Retton and Nadia Comaneci. There is bound to have been a spitz or two named Mark.
This year, the possibilities are pretty endless — given all the U.S. winners, and all those who captured our hearts without winning.
(On the other hand, you might want to hold off a few days on naming your dog Ryan Lochte.)
Still, there are plenty of good names available. It’s just a matter of picking the appropriate one.
Michael Phelps, or Katie Ledecky (or, if you prefer, Lickedy) would work for a water-loving dog, like a retriever or Newfoundland. Simone Biles would be a fitting name for a Jack Russell terrier or other acrobatic breed.
While it’s a lot of syllables, Dalilah Muhammad (gold medal winner for the 400 meter hurdles) might make a good name for an ultra-agile border collie; and what greyhound or whippet wouldn’t appreciate being called Usain Bolt?
Personally, my idols have more often come from the world of journalism — even though journalists, according to Donald Trump, are “the lowest form of life.”
I’m thinking of naming my next dog Morley, after Morley Safer. That would allow me to write a book called “Morley and Me.” I also have a name picked out for his sister: Leslie.
As for Leah, the pit bull mix, she goes up for adoption tomorrow.
(Photos: Western Pennsylvania Humane Society)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 19th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2016, adopt, adoptable, adoption, animals, athletes, dog, dog names, dogs, gold medals, inspiration, katie ledecky, leah smith, michael phelps, mount lebanon, names, naming, olympian, olympics, pets, rescues, rio, shelters, swimmer, swimming, western pennsylvania humane society
In most big city animal control departments, dogs who are brought in often don’t come out alive.
But here’s a story with a different twist — of a dog in Philadelphia who was brought into animal control by a good Samaritan, but apparently given away by staff before he got much past the front counter.
If you need some idea before you continue of whether this is going to have a happy ending, be advised, yes, sort of. The pit bull mix who was given away before he was fully taken in is still alive, but slightly the worse for wear.
Most fingers are pointing at the front desk staff of the city’s Animal Care and Control Team, which apparently decided to make an exception to its 48-hour hold policy.
Chris Ferraro, 30, was walking his dog near his home in Manayunk when a pit bull mix wandered up. He played with Ferraro’s dog, but when no owner showed up, Ferraro took him to the city’s animal control office.
As columnist Stu Bykofsky explains in the Philadelphia Daily News, Ferraro was filling out the necessary paperwork to turn a dog in when another man approached the desk and asked if Jake was his dog.
When Ferraro said no, the other man asked if he could have him.
“No,” Ferraro replied. “He’s someone else’s dog.”
An ACCT kennel attendant interrupted the exchange, and told the man he could have the dog — after the owner had a chance to reclaim him.
By policy, the office holds dogs 48 hours before allowing them to be adopted.
But, as Ferraro watched, and protested, that policy was apparently violated. The second man’s information was taken by ACCT and Jake — who had no tags or microchip — was later allowed to leave with the man.
Meanwhile, Jake’s owners, Vickie and Mark Remolde, were working to find him. They’d checked with the Montgomery County SPCA, and put up fliers when he disappeared July 13.
On July 15, Mark went to ACCT, looked for Jake among the animals sheltered there and left some fliers.
As it turns out, that visit was within the 48-hour window for owners to reclaim their dogs. But Jake was long gone — given to that other man, who from the sound of it, was not too thoroughly vetted.
It wasn’t until a few days later that the Remoldes heard that Ferraro had turned a dog that looked like Jake into ACCT, made contact with him, and returned, twice, to the animal control office.
ACCT staff, this time, was able to locate the man who had Jake and, unable to reach him, went to the address he had provided.
He wasn’t there.
“I started crying,” said Vickie. “This guy took him for purposes that were not good, and how could you give my dog to a man in the lobby who was there to intercept dogs?”
Several days later, the man brought Jake in.
According to Vickie Remolde, “Jake is 10 to 15 pounds lighter; he had a red rash on his neck; and something was wrong with his tail … It was black, like charcoal.”
ACCT executive director Vincent Medley told the Daily News that Ferraro had left before completing the intake form. Ferraro denies that and says he was told he was no longer needed.
The new owner’s form was being processed when he left, Ferraro said.
Medley said that if Ferraro was uncomfortable with the proceedings, he should have asked for a supervisor.
Spoken like a true bureaucrat, right?
Rather than shift the blame and cover its butt, ACCT should be investigating that second man, and what happened to Jake, and why staff didn’t follow the agency’s own policy.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 4th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 48 hour, adopt, adopted, adoptions, animal care and control, animal control, animals, dog, dogs, hold, holding, intercepted, jake, owners, period, pets, philadelphia, pit bull mix, shelters
Diggy was adopted by Michigan musician Dan Tillery, and a heartwarming photo of the two of them with big smiles on their faces (left) has been shared widely on social media.
But once Tillery brought the dog home to Waterford Township, they were met with a frown.
The township bans pit bulls, and when police received “several complaints” about Diggy — not based on any bad behavior, just based on his looks — police officers visited Tillery’s home.
“Based on their observations, it was determined the dog was part pit bull/pit bull terrier,” Police Lt. Todd Hasselbach said.
Listen more closely to his remarks and you can hear they are oozing something very close to what, in the human community, we’d call racism.
He confirms that Diggy is being judged based on looks alone. He says any percentage of pit bull in Diggy — no matter how small — makes him a pit bull. And he says Diggy can’t be permitted to live in Waterford Township because of the “zero tolerance” ordinance, which has been “in effect for many years.” As if that makes it right.
Sounding like a lawman from the old west, or maybe more like a 1960’s sheriff from the deep south, went on to say Diggy has three days to get out of town.
And he may not be.
Diggy was picked up as a stray earlier this year by Detroit Animal Care and Control, which classified him as an American bulldog.
Detroit Dog Rescue, the only no-kill shelter in the city, later pulled Diggy from the facility and put him up for adoption, according to ABC News’ local affiliate WXYZ.
Tillery and his girlfriend adopted Diggy after seeing a photo posted on the nonprofit rescue group’s Facebook page. In that post, Diggy — then named Sir Wiggleton — was described as a “2 year old American bulldog/pit bull mix that loves the water and is just a big goofball.”
In the week after his adoption, Diggy became an internet sensation after Tillery posted a photo of him smiling with his new dog.
Owning a pit bull in Waterford is an ordinance violation that can carry a $500 fine. Police didn’t cite Tillery but told him he had until today to relocate the dog to another town.
Waterford police said if a veterinarian deems Diggy to be an American bulldog or another permitted breed, with no pit bull in him, then he can stay — but they say it has to be a vet of the police department’s choosing.
Kristina Millman-Rinaldi, executive director of Detroit Dog Rescue, said the organization already had a vet deem Diggy an American bulldog, and called the Waterford Township city clerk’s office beforehand to make sure there were no restrictions on that breed.
Waterford Township defines pit bulls as dogs that “substantially conform to the breed standards established by the American Kennel Club” for American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, or American Staffordshire terriers.
And the ordinance allows police officers to make that call — based on the dog’s looks and their previous experience with pit bulls.
An online petition to lift the dangerous dog ban in Waterford has garnered nearly 40,000 signatures.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 13th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, american bulldog, animal control, animals, appearance, ban, breed, breeds, dan tillery, determination, detroit, detroit dog rescue, diggy, dogs, identifying, looks, michigan, petition, pets, photo, pit bull, pit bull ban, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, pitties, pitts, police, shelter, shelters, smile, smiling, smiling dog, viral, waterford township
For years, there were only two ways for an unclaimed pit bull, Rottweiler or chow to get out of the Guilford County Animal Shelter in Greensboro, N.C.
One was for a rescue group to step in, take custody of the dog and find it an adoptive home.
The only other alternative was euthanasia.
Due to “liability concerns,” the shelter had a policy against allowing pit bulls, Rottweilers and chows to be adopted — instituted by the non-profit group that managed it for 15 years.
That group was ousted last year, and last week the Guilford County Board of Commissioners reversed the long-standing rule.
The old policy was established under the United Animal Coalition, a Greensboro-based nonprofit that ran the shelter until last year — when its licensed was revoked after an investigation into charges of animal cruelty. The county assumed management of the shelter.
Last Thursday, the Board of Commissioners voted to change the policy that prevented the adoption of certain breeds, according to the Greensboro News & Record.
According to the shelter’s director, Logan Rustan, about 8 of every 10 dogs in the shelter at any given time are pit bulls.
“A lot of our cages stay empty because I cannot put these three breeds on the floor, and that’s most of what we get,” Rustan told the commissioners. “If I can have this approved … I guarantee when I get back today I can fill the adoption floor, fill it full, with adoptable animals.”
Rustan said the shelter had worked with area rescues to find pit bulls, Rottweilers and chows adoptive homes, but was often left with adult pit bulls that could not be placed.
The change in policy is in keeping with recommendations from the state Department of Agriculture, which has urged the shelter to give more consideration to a dog’s temperament than to its breed when assessing its adoptability.
(Photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 11th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoptions, animal shelter, bans, behavior, board of commissioners, breed, breeds, changed, chows, greensboro, guilford county, north carolina, pit bulls, pitbulls, policy, rottweilers, shelter, shelters, united animal coalition
What, if you’re a shelter, do you do with a dog who has been returned by seven different adopters, a dog who keeps running away from every home he’s placed in, a dog whose behavior — though never aggressive — makes him, to say the least, a handful?
If you’re the Charleston Animal Society in South Carolina, you conclude — after 11 tries — that maybe the shelter is where he wants to be.
Gumby, a 7-year-old hound with well-documented skills as an escape artist, has become a permanent resident of the no-kill Charleston Animal Society.
They view it not so much as giving up as giving in — to what Gumby seems to want.
A look at his record seems to support that view.
His first visit to the shelter came after he was picked up as a stray in September 2014.
He was adopted and stayed at his new home three days, before ending up at the shelter again. His second adoption lasted only six days.
His third adopter seemed committed to keeping him, but Gumby kept running off and was brought back to the shelter as a stray — once by a citizen, once by animal control. His third adopter surrendered him back to the shelter, worried that the dog’s continued escapes might lead to injuries or worse.
That adoption lasted four months, but ended when Gumby was brought back in as a stray.
In August of last year, he was adopted a fifth time.
But less than two months later, he showed up at a another shelter, about 30 miles away.
His sixth adoption didn’t last long, either. He was returned due to his irrepressible personality, to put it nicely.
In December, he was adopted a seventh time. In January he was returned to the shelter, according to a report in Barkpost. The adopter told staff that, on top of being difficult to housebreak, Gumby had escaped 3 times in less than a month — once running through the owner’s screen door.
Adding it all up, Gumby had been returned to the shelter 11 times and lived in seven different homes — all in less than a year and a half.
It was starting to seem that Gumby didn’t want to be anywhere but the shelter.
Not that his behavior has always been exemplary there.
On March 5, Kay Hyman, the director of community and engagement for the Charleston Animal Society, posted a photo of Gumby on the shelter’s Facebook page
He’s pictured lying contentedly next to a former feather pillow — one that he must have felt needed further investigation.
Staff at the shelter say hounds are known for having stubborn streaks, and often those raised as hunting dogs become bored when they have no hunting to do. It’s not unusual for those that haven’t made the grade as hunting dogs to be abandoned and show up as strays.
Given his record, the shelter finally decided in March to just keep Gumby. He seemed to adore the staff. He was good with other dogs. And it was the one place from which he hadn’t repeatedly tried to escape.
Staff members hope that Gumby, as a permanent resident, can continue to have a calming influence on new arrivals — especially fearful ones.
Donya Satriale, a behavior team leader at the shelter, may have put her finger on what was going on with Gumby.
Gumby, she suggested, might see the shelter as a place where “he knows he has work to do.”
(Photos: From the Charleston Animal Society Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 5th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adopted, adopters, adoption, animals, charleston, charleston animal society, difficult, dog, dogs, escape, gumby, hound, humane societies, pets, placements, rescues, returned, shelter, shelters, south carolina, stray