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Tag: street dogs

UK vet tends to street dogs in Sri Lanka

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There are an estimated 3 million street dogs on the island of Sri Lanka, and a veterinarian based in the UK is trying to provide medical care to as many of them as she can.

UK vet Janey Lowes was backpacking around Sri Lanka in May 2014 when she was confronted with the plight of the street dogs. Every year, an estimated 26,000 are injured in traffic accidents, and thousands more get sick and die due to a lack of vaccinations and veterinary care.

Her first instinct was not to get them off the streets. Most of them are not true strays. They have humans who feed them, and they are pretty much accepted in Sri Lankan culture — just not housed.

What they truly needed more than anything else was veterinary care.

whatsapp-image-2018-08-07-at-16-26-43-548a“I felt so helpless,” she told Metro.co.UK. “As a vet (and I’m sure many vets can relate) it was frustrating to be skilled enough to help but in another country with no equipment or supplies with me, or any idea of where to start with seeking help for dogs in need.”

Back home, and still thinking about how she could make an impact, she sought advice from her boss in the UK, who gave her £10,000 to set up a charity.

WECare Worldwide was born.

janey-and-bella-01062-fae9-e1533546995401In 2014 she went back to Sri Lanka and teamed up with local vet Dr. Nuwan, a local volunteer named Malaka, and a tuk tuk driver, Chaminda, who she paid to drive them around looking for sick and injured dogs. Some she treated on the side of the road, others she brought to her home in Tallalla on the south coast for treatment.

“I started by working out where we could be the most helpful and have the biggest sustainable impact, which is hard when you are surrounded by need everywhere.”

By the end of the year, her organization was offering neutering and vaccination services to local villages.

By 2016, Janey’s house was overflowing with dogs and she rented an old school in a nearby village to continue her work.

A year later, though, money was running low and Janey was giving some thought to giving up.

Then WECare was featured in a BBC documentary and donations surged, allowing her to slowly build the clinic she works from today, which is one of the best equipped vet hospitals on the island.

Janey now has has 10 full-time and 12 part-time local staff, and also helps train other local vets, to improve vet standards across the board.

eddie-0014WECare treats dogs across the Southern Province, and also runs programmes in Arugam Bay on the east coast.

Locals can also bring their pet dogs in to the clinic for treatment at a reduced rate.

Neutering and vaccinations are free for both street and owned animals.

Janey sees a big distinction between street dogs and strays.

“There’s this generalization that people think it’s cruel for dogs to be on the street, that they don’t have cuddles every night, they don’t eat steak for dinner, they don’t get to go to doggy daycare – but it’s just different over here,” she explained. “They’re not stray dogs, so it’s not like in England where pet dogs are dumped on the street and left to die … These dogs have been on the streets for generations and generations, so to take them in to homes – to even take them indoors, most have never been indoors – is really quite stressful for them once they get to a certain age.

“They’re so happy beause they have their freedom. You can see them when they’re charging up and down the beach chasing each other, or when they’re on a mission in the morning to the nearest roti shop, you can see the joy in their eyes … We don’t believe in scooping up three million dogs to put them in a shelter because for street dogs, that’s like prison. Our job is to provide veterinary care and to let dogs be dogs.”

She admits that her mission a never-ending one and she sometimes gets disheartened. “But then you take a step back and look at how many dogs you’ve helped – which is about 6,000 dogs so far … I just go look at all the street dogs we’ve helped and remember that they would potentially have had a really slow, painful death if we hadn’t been around.”

WECare Worldwide operates on donations.

(Photos: Courtesy of WECare Worldwide)

Strays swept up before World Cup in Russia

russianstrays

Animal rights activists fear history will will repeat itself in Russia as cities hosting the World Cup attempt to purge their streets of stray dogs — just as Sochi did prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Earlier this year, Russia’s deputy prime minister, Vitaly Mutko, met with animal rights activist to discuss their fears that stray dogs would be exterminated ahead of the event. He pledged to stop all cruelty, and said new shelters for strays would be built.

But activists say the effort by cities to put their best face forward during the event is continuing to result in culls in which the lives of strays are ended via methods less than humane.

“If you put it in plain Russian, they said ‘sod off, we’re going to carry on killing’,” Yekaterina Dmitriyeva, the head of the Foundation for the Protection of Urban Animals, told The Guardian.

The Guardian reported that there are about two million strays in Russia’s 11 World Cup host cities and it has been estimated that local authorities will spend up to £119 million on catching, caging, sterilizing and euthanizing animals this year.

Activists say they fear the private companies the government contracts with to carry out the sweeps will resort to shooting and poisoning strays — both of which were reported in the weeks leading up to the Olympics.

In protest, some Olympic athletes adopted Sochi dogs and took them back to their respective countries.

In addition, local animal lovers opened makeshift shelters to try and house all the collected strays and help them avoid being euthanized.

In many Russian cities, large numbers of strays peacefully co-exist with human populations, living off their handouts and even riding the subways.

“Russia’s street dogs are perhaps more lovable than most. They have drawn admiration for their intelligence and resilience,” Chas Newkey-Burden, UK author and journalist, wrote in a commentary piece in this week’s Guardian.

“Many of them commute into the cities each morning on the trains. They know to get on the train’s front or back carriage for the least crowded journey, and they know where to get off for the best food. When they beg for food as a pack, they move their youngest and cutest member to the front, knowing this will melt the hearts of passers-by. On busy streets, they’ve even learned to obey traffic lights and cross when it’s safe, trotting alongside pedestrians.

“These are the sweet, abandoned creatures who are being exterminated in the name of the beautiful game … Lives silently snuffed out because they don’t fit the image the authorities want to present.”

Officials say their focus is to move dogs into shelters. But those are so crowed that euthanasia becomes the easiest option.

Russian parliament member Vladimir Burmatov recently visited a shelter in Yekaterinburg and discovered a “very painful” scene, with “malnourished dogs and conditions that you couldn’t even call satisfactory.”

The shelter is run by a rubbish collection and disposal firm.

Newkey-Burden urged soccer stars to follow the example of Olympic athletes who went home with dogs from Sochi.

“In this money-spinning game, the influence of these superstars is immense. Here’s their chance to show they really love dogs.”

(Photo: From The Telegraph)

Dogs help heal wounds in war-torn Uganda


Eleven years after a civil war in Uganda, many are still coping with the scars it left — inside and out — and some are finding that a dog can help them do that.

That was the case with Francis Okello Oloya, who in 2015 started The Comfort Dog Project to help people in Gulu town, especially those who were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.

At age 12, Okello was blinded by a bomb blast as he worked in the family garden. At a boarding school for the blind, Okello found it difficult to find the toilet at night.

“I had to navigate my way from the sleeping quarter to latrine and that was not easy,” he told the Voice of America. “And these dogs came to know that I needed help. And they began the practice of helping me from the sleeping quarters to the latrine.”

Now 29, he’s in charge of a program that matches street dogs with war’s victims, providing comfort to those victims, homes for those street mutts, and adding to a growing recognition in Uganda of what dogs are capable of.

Traditionally, dogs have mainly been used for hunting in Uganda, or for security.

The Comfort Dog Project is an offshoot of Big Fix Uganda, a nonprofit working to improve the lives of dogs and people in the impoverished and war-torn country.

As explained on the Comfort Dogs website, dogs in need of homes are rehabilitated by a team of trainers, temperament tested and spayed/neutered. They are then placed with war trauma survivors who agree to care for the dog for its lifetime and go through a week of training.

uganda2After graduating, the dog-guardian teams become project ambassadors — visiting villages and schools to
educate others about the importance of being kind to animals, teach them to use positive reinforcement training techniques and “serve as testimony of the healing power of human-dog bonds.”

In the aftermath of the civil war in Uganda, tens of thousands of people still struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and mental health practitioners estimate that seven in 10 people in Northern Uganda were traumatically affected.

Philda Akum, 35, is one of the 29 beneficiaries of the project, Voice of America reports.

In 1997, she and her four brothers were abducted by those rebelling against the government and taken to Sudan.

One brother was captured and killed, Akum says. Another brother was selected to go to the battlefront and was fatally shot. Two days later, her youngest brother contracted cholera and died.

She returned home and joined group therapy, which is what led her to be assigned a dog.

The Big Fix operates the only veterinary hospital in northern Uganda and works to achieve a sustainable population of dogs and cats and control the spread of rabies and other diseases.

(Photo: Francis Okello Oloya, founder of The Comfort Dog Project, with Binongo; Philda Akum, a former war victim, with her dog; by H. Athumani, Voice of America)

Turning stray dogs into crime fighters

Strutting down the street together in their matching vests, these Thailand dogs look a little like an alliance of superheroes — and that’s the idea.

The nonprofit animal welfare organization Soi Dog has teamed up with an advertising agency in Thailand to develop a program that will turn Bangkok’s stray dogs into crime fighters.

The plan is to outfit strays with camera-equipped vests. The cameras activate when a dog wearing the vest barks aggressively and the video is transmitted to police agencies or anyone else who wants to watch via a mobile phone or commuter application.

Stray dogs are abundant in Bangkok and other Thai cities — and they are often looked down upon or abused.

smartvestThe “smart vest,” according to those refining the prototype, could help their public image, protect them from foul play and provide more eyes on the streets and alleys of Thailand’s big cities.

In that way, the dogs often viewed as nuisances would become guardians angels on the crime-ridden streets and alleyways where they live their lives.

“It will make people feel that stray dogs can become night-watches for the communities,” Pakornkrit Khantaprap, a member of the creative team that came up with the idea at the Cheil advertising agency, a subsidiary of South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, told Reuters.

The project began in March this year and took about five months to reach the point where it could be tested.

The developer says a lot more tests are needed before the vest can be introduced into communities for trial runs.

Martin Turner, managing director of the Phuket-based Soi Dog Foundation, which works to save stray dogs and cats across Thailand, welcomed the initiative.

Turner says there are many cases of cruelty against street dogs in Thailand, despite the introduction of the country’s first Animal Welfare Law in late 2014.

The long-term goal of the project is to create a more harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship between strays and their communities.

“Our aim is to get people to perceive stray dogs in a better way and ultimately, solve the stray dog issue in the long term,” Pakornkrit explained. “The stray dog issue is becoming more crucial in Thailand. This issue leads to a bigger problem of animal cruelty and dog meat trades. We do not want to see that.”

(Video and photo from Reuters)

Thailand’s new military government taking steps to crack down on dog meat trade

(Warning: The videos accompanying this article are graphic and disturbing)

Street dogs in Thailand can end up in stew, served as jerky, and even worn as golf gloves (made from the skin of their testicles), but those behind Thailand’s brutal dog trade could be finding it harder to conduct their business.

Thailand’s military government, which seized power from an elected government in May, is considering a law that would ban the dog meat trade, and it has intensified enforcement of laws that ban slaughtering and transporting dogs without a license, the New York Times reported yesterday.

The change comes partly as a result of changing attitudes, partly at the encouragement of animal rights activists, partly from increased scrutiny from news media inside and outside the country, and partly, the Times suggests, for political reasons.

The newly installed military government may see cracking down on the dog trade as a way to enhance its image internationally.

National police have intensified a crackdown begun two years ago on the dog trade, setting up sting operations in the forests where dogs are slaughtered and shipped, often to Vietnam and China, where dog eating is more prevalent.

While most of the dogs are strays, family pets often end up among the mix.

Police have stopped trucks carrying as many as 1,000 dogs bound for Laos, Vietnam and China, where, in addition to selling the meat, dog traders sell dog skin, which is used to make drum skins and gloves.

Inside the country, members of Watchdog Thailand recently met with senior military officers in the junta and urged them to pass an animal rights law that would outlaw killing dogs for meat.

Foreigners are playing an important role in trying to eradicate the dog meat trade, the Times article notes.

British celebrities like Ricky Gervais and Judi Dench were featured in a video posted on the Internet last month condemning it. And the animal welfare group Soi Dog receives much of its funding from the United States and Europe.

“It’s not about cultural difference or anything else,” said John Dalley, a co-founder of Soi Dog. “It’s a horrendously cruel business from start to finish. The dogs are crammed into cages, and it’s not unusual that live dogs are thrown into pots of boiling water.”

Can you spot Dalmatian Man?

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He doesn’t have 101 — not yet — but Nelson Vergara, a.k.a. “The Dalmatian Man,” has 42 of them as of the latest count, all living in the back yard of his modest home in Santiago, Chile.

The unemployed 55-year-old man, who says he was inspired by the movie, has a soft spot for dogs, and Dalmatians in particular. So obsessed is he with the breed, he has painted black spots on his white van.

“It all started because of that film,” Vergara is quoted as saying in an Associated Press story that appeared on ElSalvador.com.

Vergara says he wants to raise awareness about the millions of stray dogs in Chile.

He feeds and cares for the Dalmatians and other breeds as well through donations.

“I wanted to help – not just the Dalmatians but all dogs, because in Chile we need a solution to the canine problem. Every day you see news of abandoned dogs roaming, but no one does anything about it. If we had a shelter, we wouldn’t have these kinds of problems,” he said.

As you might guess, his neighbors are none too thrilled with his altruism.

The article reports that neighbors constantly complain about the noise and smell coming from his home and he and his dogs risk being evicted.

(Photo: ElMercurio.com, via ElSalvador.com)

Rescued from a pit — tonight on DogTown

 

Dumped into an underground death pit, two homeless dogs named Haley and Hana are rescued and rehabilitated on tonight’s episode of National Geographic Channel’s “DogTown,” proving once again that dogs are a lot more forgiving than us more “intellectually developed” humans.

The dogs are believed to have spent two months in an underground cave in Ethiopia where locals periodically dispose of unwanted dogs, unfortunately while they are still alive. With no food or water, they may have survived by consuming the bodies of other dogs that died in the cave.

Best Friends Animal Society behavior consultant Sherry Woodard works with the former street dogs to help them overcome their fears and improve their social skills.

Also on tonight’s episode are the stories of Hugo, a 100-pound bloodhound, returned to DogTown after seriously biting a family member, and Ava, a golden retriever whose paw has been ripped apart by a coyote trap.