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Tag: spca

Sarah smiles: The plight of the Doberhuahua

First, back in the 1990s, she wrote and recorded songs that left our hearts in shreds.

Then, in the 2000s, she teamed up with the ASPCA to make heartstring-tugging public service announcements about abused and neglected animals — ads expertly aimed at opening and emptying our tear ducts and wallets.

Now, just when she was starting show up a little less often on TV, Sarah McLachlan is back with another heartfelt plea – to save the Doberhuahua.

The Doberhuahua?

Obviously, that would be a mix between a Doberman and a Chihuahua. I’m sure — given our proclivity for tinkering with dogs, and dogs’ proclivity for overcoming any size disparities when it comes to messing with each other – some might really exist.

doberhuahuaIn this case, though, it’s a monstrous, fictional canine hybrid with a giant head and a tiny body, created to sell cars, specifically, the Audi.

Audi enlisted McLachlan to engage in a little self-satire, as can be seen in this teaser for its Super Bowl ad — a plea by the singer to help save the misunderstood animal with “a heart as big as its head.”

It’s not clear how funny the ad itself will be, or whether it will make anyone want to buy an Audi. But seeing McLachlan lighten up is, to me, worth all $4 million or so Audi is spending to air the ad during the Super Bowl.

My guess is, when it comes the images of Audi, the Doberhuahua, and McLachlan, the ad is going to best serve that of McLachlan.

It should be pointed out here that, just as I don’t personally know any Doberhuahuas, I don’t know Sarah McLachlan. I just have this possibly faulty perception of her — based on what I’ve seen and heard, her beautiful and often sad songs, and her plaintive ASPCA ads — that she overflows with angst, carries the world’s problems on her shoulders, goes to bed crying every night, and thinks you should, too.

It’s equally possible that she, in real life, is a laugh-a-minute, happy go lucky kind of gal, and that the image I and others have of her in our heads is totally off the mark and entirely underserved — hammered in by having seen her countless times over the past decade in ads filled with crippled dogs and one-eyed cats.

Speaking out, tongue in cheek, for the the misunderstood “Doberhuahua” shows McLachlan can laugh at herself — an attribute not always evident in singer-songwriters, or animal welfare advocates. Both can get a little sanctimonious, a little heavy-handed with their messages.

As with Dobermans and Chihuahuas, there’s no reason animal welfare and sense of humor can’t unite now and then. But they rarely do.

In both cases, we think the offspring would be more cute than monstrous.

How this ad plays with animal lovers remains to be seen. They can be a pretty sensitive group, and they can be easily offended, as was the case with last year’s Super Bowl ad that highlighted greyhound racing, the one with the French bulldog that outraced them all because he was wearing Skechers.

Will Doberman fans object to the Audi ad, based on how it might stereotype their breed as all befanged and snarly? Will the ad rub pit bull fans the wrong way? Will the fictional plight of the Doberhuahua somehow detract from the very real plight of unwanted and abused dogs? Is it worth getting worked up about a fictionally engineered dog when there’s so much other real and disturbing dog engineering going on?

Time will tell. Meanwhile, I’m just glad to see Sarah smile.

Feed the hungry … dogs

Mention the idea of food stamps for dogs and you’re likely to get one of two reactions:

Those touchy-feely animal lovers (such as me) will say it’s a great idea that could help keep dogs from being surrendered to shelters, abandoned, or worse, by owners who can’t afford to feed them anymore.

Those “It’s-just-a-dog” types will say its ludicrous, that they’d hate to see their tax dollars used for something like that, and that, if you can’t afford a dog, don’t get one in the first place.

When the idea does float to the surface, there’s usually some quick debate — then it vanishes as quickly as a bowl of kibble.

Now, in a way, the concept is back, and it’s being carried out on a national scale — with no involvement from government, and no use of tax dollars, it should be noted. It’s the mission of a nonprofit organization formed by a New York man who describes himself as a stockbroker, journalist, entrepreneur and business consultant — a frightful combination if ever there was one.

The organization is called Pet Food Stamps, though no stamps actually appear to be involved. Instead, low income individuals can submit applications, which, if approved, lead to six months worth of deliveries of dog food from Pet Flow, an online pet food store. It’s all to be funded through private donations, founder Marc Okon says.

Pet Food Stamps and Pet Flow announced their “exclusive partnership” in February:

“Pet Food Stamps aims to provide pet food for pets of families receiving public assistance and for food stamp recipients who otherwise could not afford to feed their pets. Based in New York City, the program is open to anyone in the United States. More than 80,000 pets have already been registered …”

Okon, 36, said the idea was inspired in part by a friend going through some economic hard times who told him “she sometimes fed her cat before herself,” Wall Street Journal columnist Al Lewis reported. Also, he says, doing something philanthropic helps remove the bad taste that remains from some of his previous employment experiences in corporate America.

Okon says he briefly worked for a firm that sold dubious medical benefits to seniors in the South. “Their whole corporate philosophy was to manipulate seniors who didn’t have any type of insurance,” he said. “I could only do that for about a week and half,” Okon said. The article calls him “a man so disgusted with the lack of ethics he witnessed in private enterprise that he founded a nonprofit to hand out dog food.”

While many a humane society operates similar programs on the local level, Pet Food Stamps says it has been swamped with applications — 45,000 in the first two weeks alone, according to a press release.

Okon says the applicants often describe how they’ve lost their jobs and homes.

“Millions of pets are surrendered to shelters each year and euthanized because their owners can’t afford to feed them,” he said.

Okon says he isn’t against the idea of the government providing food stamps for dogs, but that it’s not part of the current picture.

“We’re not looking for government funding at this point,” Okon told ABCNews.com. “Should the government be willing to provide assistance further down the line, we will look into it.”

It seems a noble idea, and we hope it’s nobly carried out — with enough transparency that dog lovers who make donations know exactly how much money the organization is receiving, how much of that is going to buy and ship dog food, and what profits, if any, the private dog food company is making.

We’d point out, too, that people unable to afford to feed their pets can check with their local humane society or SPCA to see what programs might be available in their area. Some food banks distribute dog food and cat food, and some chapters of Meals on Wheels deliver pet food, too.  In 2006, Meals on Wheels started the We All Love Our Pets (WALOP) initiative after finding some of their clients were sharing their meals with their pets because they couldn’t afford pet food.

For a state by state list of programs offering free and discounted services — from food to veterinary care — check out this Humane Society of the United States link.

Court affirms that piercing cats is cruelty

Piercing kittens is cruel, a panel of Pennsylvania judges has affirmed.

Three judges of the Superior Court upheld a conviction for animal cruelty of a dog groomer who had offered “gothic” kittens for sale on eBay.

An investigation into the pierced kittens began in 2008 when a citizen saw the animals being offered for $100 each on eBay, inquired about them and reported it to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Luzerne County, according to the Times Leader in Wilkes Barre.

A citizen tipped off PETA, as well, which conducted an investigation of its own and passed on information to the SPCA.

Accompanied by state police, SPCA officials visited Pawside Parlor, located at the home of Holly Crawford in Sweet Valley, Pa. They removed three kittens and a cat. While at the home, police also found a dog with pierced ears.

A jury found Crawford guilty of animal cruelty, and last year she was sentenced to six months of home detention and electronic monitoring, followed by probation.

In her appeal, Crawford argued that Pennsylvania’s cruelty statutes were too vague, and pointed out that many accepted veterinary procedures like declawing cats and cutting a dog’s vocal cords could fall under the same category she was being prosecuted under.

The law forbids “acts that maim, mutilate, torture or disfigure the animal.”

This week, the Superior Court panel upheld the lower court’s findings, the New York Times reported.

In a 19-page opinion, Judge Kate Ford Elliott wrote that “metal protruded from the kittens’ small bodies, pierced through their ears and necks, and at least one of these kittens also had an elastic band tied around its tail, an attempt at docking …”

Crawford, who was described in the opinion as being “enthusiastic about piercing,” had admitted to piercing the kittens without anesthetic.

“Appellant’s claims center on her premise that a person of normal intelligence would not know whether piercing a kitten’s ears or banding its tail is maiming, mutilating, torturing or disfiguring an animal.” Judge Elliott wrote.  “We disagree.”

100 slain sled dogs to be exhumed this week

With spring’s thaw, forensic experts will begin exhumation this week of a mass grave in British Coumbia as part of an investigation into the slaughter of 100 sled dogs last year.

Details of the killings last April surfaced in January after sled dog tour operator Robert Fawcett filed a disability claim saying he suffered post-traumatic stress from shooting and slitting the throats of about 100 dogs, under orders from his bosses.

The dogs were dumped – some still alive — in a mass grave north of Whistler.

The British Columbia SPCA announced Sunday it would begin a week-long investigation aimed at finding out whether the dogs were killed inhumanely, said Marcie Moriarty, the society’s animal cruelty investigation manager.

“The scope of this investigation is unprecedented in North America,” Moriarty told The Province. “We owe it to those 100 dogs buried in that grave to ensure that this kind of tragic incident never happens again in B.C.”

Exhuming the dogs wasn’t possible until now because of frozen ground.

Eight forensic experts will take part, including veterinarians, archaeologists and anthropologists from across North America,  many of whom have volunteered their time for the effort, Moriarty said.

After the mass killing was reported, a provincial task force was formed  to review the incident, leading to recommendations for tougher animal cruelty penalties and new regulations that required the sled dog tour industry to establish humane euthanization policies.

Moriarty said all the dogs would be given a respectful and humane burial after the investigation.

Maryland SPCA’s March for the Animals

Over 5,000 animal lovers and their four-legged friends are expected to attend the Maryland SPCA’s 16th Annual March for the Animals at Druid Hill Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Participants, whether they are hiking the 1.5-mile walk-a-thon or checking out vendors and entertainment, will be helping to support homeless animals in the Baltimore area.

For the walk-thon, registration opens at 9 a.m. and starting line ceremonies will take place at 10 a.m. 

The event also features a demonstration by Mid-Atlantic Disc Dogs, pet training tips, an agility course for dogs, low-cost micro-chipping, a “flea-less” market of pet friendly vendors, musical chairs for dogs, and a pet costume contest judged by celebrity guests, food and entertainment.

Prizes will be awarded to the top fundraisers, including a grand prize trip to the Bahamas. Participants will receive a special “doggy bag” that includes treats, corporate giveaways and other gifts. Dog bandanas will be given to those who raise at least $30, and the 2011 March for the Animals t-shirt will be given to walkers who raise at least $40.

Killing 100 sled dogs gave him nightmares

About 100 dogs were gunned down execution-style in British Columbia when a company that offers sled dog tours apparently decided that, due to a downturn in business, it could no longer afford to maintain them.

The shocking revelation of the mass killing (the industry prefers the term “culling”) surfaced through the British Columbia Worker’s Compensation Board, where a company employee filed a claim saying that killing the dogs, on April 21 and 23 of last year, caused him post-traumatic stress disorder.

The SPCA in British Columbia has launched an investigation into the incident.

“Culling” – or thinning the “herd”  — is apparently not an uncommon practice among sled dog companies, according to the SPCA, either in the U.S. or Canada, where the sled dog tour industry is largely unregulated.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone engaged in the illegal killing of sled dogs in either country. 

The 100 dogs – used in sled dog tours operated by Outdoor Adventures — were gunned downed while tethered. The employee, acting under the orders of his boss, began shooting dogs as other dogs watched. Some of the dogs panicked and attacked him as he carried out the task, he said.

“By the end he was covered in blood,” the workmen’s compensation review board noted in its Jan. 25 decision, which ruled the employee did develop PTSD in connection with the incident. “When he finished he cleared up the mess, filled in the mass grave and tried to bury the memories as deeply as he could.”

The full report from the board was obtained by The Vancouver Sun.

In addition to sparking an SPCA investigation into allegations of animal cruelty, the report has led to a suspension by Tourism Whistler of reservations for dog sledding excursions by Outdoor Adventures.

Outdoors Adventures, which also offers snowmobiling, snowshoeing and horseback excursions in the Whistler area, said in a statement that there are now no firearms on site and all future euthanizations will be done in a vet’s office.

Marcie Moriarty, head of the British Columbia SPCA cruelty investigations division, said the employee, who was the general manager of Outdoor Adventures, could and should have denied to carry out the orders from his boss.

The employee said he has suffered panic attacks and nightmares since the culling.

“I’ve no doubt he has suffered post traumatic stress but there’s a thing called choice,” said Moriarty. “I absolutely would not have done this and he could have said no … I don’t feel sorry for this guy for one minute.”

“The way this employee describes it — it’s a massacre absolutely … These dogs were killed in front of the other dogs that were all tethered up on the compound.”

The order to kill the sled dogs came after a veterinarian declined to euthanize healthy animals, and some attempts were made to adopt out the dogs, the employee told the review board.

SPCA officials say the incident sheds some needed light on the industry.

“There is a problem with the sled dog industry in general,” Moriarty said. “People see these 20 sled dogs, an idyllic setting with snow in the background and think how great. But what they don’t see is the 200 dogs tethered and sleeping out back, chained to a barrel.”

Maryland SPCA holds “Wine & Wag” Friday

This Friday (June 25), the Maryland SPCA is celebrating National Take Your Dog To Work Day with a “Wine and Wag” Happy Hour from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Cylburn Arboretum in Baltimore. 

Participants can relax after work — pets at their side — and enjoy light refreshments including hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine.

Activities include “musical sit” with your dog, paw painting, bobbing for hot dogs and a canine pool party.

Guests are also welcome to tour Cylburn Arboretum.

Tickets are $10 per person in advance and $15 at Cylburn. Dogs are admitted free. Only one dog per person is permitted and all dogs must be leashed.

Tickets can be purchased online at mdspca.org. All proceeds benefit the Maryland SPCA.

Additional “Wine and Wag” Happy Hours will be held through the summer, with the next scheduled for July 23 at Cylburn.

Dragged dog “Buddy” removed from shelter

Buddy, the dragged dog in New Jersey – not to be confused with Buddy, the dog dragged to his death in Colorado — has been removed from the Burlington County Animal Shelter and taken to an undisclosed location by the New Jersey SPCA.

“We took him out because outside intervenors who have no business with the dog, who were very opinionated, were putting a lot of pressure on the shelter,” state SPCA spokesman Matt Stanton said. “We’re focused on Buddy. We don’t care what people have opinions about. Buddy’s in a good place. Buddy’s doing well and will continue to do well.”

That remark was an apparent reference to animal rights advocate Charlene Pedrolie and others who have called for placing the dog in a foster home immediately. Pedrolie, of Monmouth County, has said she would pay thousands of dollars to help fund such a stay.

The SPCA has funded Buddy’s $4-per-day stay at the Westampton shelter since October. Assistant Camden County Prosecutor Victoria Shilton tried to adopt Buddy, but it was not permitted because of the dog’s aggression issues, the Camden Courier-Post reported.

In addition, the dog’s owner, William Jefferson, still hopes to get the dog back.

On Sept. 5, Buddy was dragged a half-mile behind Jefferson’s car, according to the SPCA. Prosecutors say Jefferson closed the car’s trunk on the dog’s leash.

Jefferson, 63, faces a pretrial hearing this month on charges of fourth-degree animal cruelty. The charges carry a maximum penalty of up to 18 months in jail, five years probation and fines.

A is for Angel … Dogs from A to Z

YukiPortrait1

 
From Angel to Zeb — with 24-plus dogs in between (including Yuki, above) – author/photographer/dog lover Pamela B. Townsend has put together a  book of her dog photography that, in addition to spanning the alphabet, provides a heartfelt look at the bond between dogs and their humans.

“A is for Angel, A Dog Lover’s Guide to the Alphabet” is the second book by Pam, who is also vice-president of the SPCA/Humane Society of Prince George’s County in Maryland.  Her first was “Black is Beautiful: A Celebration of Dark Dogs.”

A dog-lover since childhood, Pam’s goal is to  pay tribute to the animals she shoots. “I try to capture both the outer beauty and inner spirit of each subject, preferring to photograph them in their own environment rather than in a studio for more natural images. The results, I hope, will make viewers smile, remind them of animals they have known and loved, and increase their appreciation of nature’s beauty and diversity.”

In “A is for Angel,” Pam features at least one dog for each letter of the alphabet (Xander, in case you’re wondering, represents X),  along with essays written by their owners.

G1527_Townsend_pageMy favorite is Y — for Yuki, whose human, Tracy Long, penned this (reprinted with permission) entry:

Yuki is the antithesis of the description, “What you see is what you get.” She has taught us that there is so much more—to her and life in general—than meets the eye. Wonder is waiting around every corner. Each smell and sight and sound contains worlds within it. And if you stare into the pools of Yuki’s eyes—those windows to treasure houses of mischievous love—I think you’d see, as we have, a small child laughing.

Yuki loves life! For her, its daily routines are events to be anticipated and celebrated. She has taught us the beauty of welcoming every moment as if it were a gift…even the moment in the car when, without warning, she looked right at us…and pooped in the back seat.

There are times we’re convinced she’s hoarding stubborn wisdom in the folds of her skin, the kind of wisdom that—like Yuki—may not come easily or quickly, but if asked and sought for will eventually come…the kind of wisdom that says, “Don’t be afraid to contain multitudes.” Yuki certainly isn’t.

She is Shar-pei, she is shepherd, part terror, part teacher. Her lessons: forgive often, love well, and dig it all! Though she is undoubtedly one of the clumsiest dogs I have ever seen, sometimes when I see her running towards me—those ears floppin’ and that skin flappin’ as she barrels clumsily into me, licking my face—I think I am witnessing pure grace.

What a gift it is to be given the opportunity, every day, to love Yuki and have her love us back.

The book — available at Paws Pet Boutique in Annapolis, The Big Bad Woof in Takoma Park, and The Grapevine in Frederick — can also be ordered from Pam via email (spcadogsmom@gmail.com).

To see more of Pam’s work, visit her website, digitaldoggy.com.

(Photo courtesy of Pamela B. Townsend)

(To see ohmidog’s archived coverage of dog books, visit our “Good Dog Reads” page.)

Walk for the animals in Anne Arundel County

The SPCA of Anne Arundel County is having their 19th annual Walk for the Animals on Sunday, May 2, from 8 a.m. to noon at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis.

The  SPCA has been helping animals and the community since 1920.  The SPCA holds the walk to raise money to care for the thousands of homeless animals brought to their shelter each year.

Walkers can collect money between now and May 2. Incentive prizes are given to all walkers who collect at least $30.00.  To qualify for prizes the money must be turned in the day of the walk. 

Brochures and pledge sheets are on the AACSPCA website.

Walkers have several options — with 1 mile, 2.5 mile, and 5 mile courses, all of which are wheelchair and stroller accessible.  Pets are welcome but you don’t have to have an animal to walk.

Adoptable animals will be showcased on the SPCA’s Waggin’ Tails Mobile Adoption Unit, and, in addition to vendors and animal welfare and rescue groups, the  Anne Arundel County Police K9 Unit will give a demonstration.

For more information, call 410-268-4388.

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