Sunday, October 28, 2007

Frenchies at halloween

Gator & Mariah got to greet the trick-or-treaters last night during Beggar's Night while being dressed as a dinosaur and a spider. They were very scary, as was witnessed by the screams heard behind the snickers as their spider legs and dinosaur tail bobbed happily behind them. It was as good a dog night as it was a kid night!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Help our local dog shelter win a makeover!

The fun site ZooToo offers a great way to support your local dog shelter!

For anyone wishing to join the site, it would be great if you would follow the instructions below so that I get referral points to help our shelter earn more points!

1. Go to the website:

2. Register, confirm your email address.

3. Now click on "volunteer" on the website header.

4. At the bottom of the page, click something (anything!) from section 1, and click add.

That's it! You've just earned the shelter some serious points. Now have fun with the news reviews, the product reviews, etc. Upload pictures of your pets utilizing the products you've reviewed! After each review or upload, you should see a message flash on the screen telling you how many points you've earned. Don't click on anything until you see this acknowledgement. I'm trying to work with them right now to recover another 100 points that should be showing for me!

The Clark County shelter is trying to accumulate enough funds to be able to expand their property. Right now, there is no good area for isolation. At some point in the future, they would even like to host a low cost spay/neuter clinic which would really help this area tremendously. Please take a look and write a few reviews to help either our shelter or yours. Thanks for investing the time!

Pet trusts?

All too often pets are left homeless when their owners die and haven't made preparations for their care. More and more owners are turning to trusts to care for their beloved pets after their passing. However, most trusts are expensive to set up, maintain, and amend. Meet PetGuardian LLC, a company that specializes in setting up trusts. In specializing, they are able to create and maintain trusts for much less than the average attorney fees. Setup fees for a simple trust run $1000-2000 through an attorney but cost a minimal $500 through PetGuardian LLC. For more details, visit their website:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

AMVA Evacuation Disaster Preparedness Plan for Animals

In light of the fires in California, it reminds us all to have an emergency plan in effect, especially where our pets are considered. The AVMA has written an excellent guide outlining many of the aspects of emergency management where pets are concerned. Definitely worth bookmarking!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mutts & Moms Rescue

The recent situation exposed on the Ellen show (Ellen adopted a dog with a signed contract not to rehome the dog, but return it to the rescue and she gave it to her hairdresser's family), many questions have come into light regarding rescue organizations. Some are more strict, some are more lenient. This particular organization has a rule about no small pets with children under age 14. Realize that many dogs in rescue have issues with children because of prior mistreatments, and only the rescue knows where the best placement for these dogs would be. However, it would have been nice if they would have been in a position to truly evaluate that particular family, the interaction of the children with the dog, and base their opinion on that.

We have been involved with personal and family rescues and with humane societies, and we do our best to help animals find loving homes, but it is not always easy. The rescues write the rules based on where they have been burned before. Like the dog who had multiple surgeries and months of recovery in the home of a foster to be placed with a nice woman in a nice home. The woman later sold the dog for $100 to a family who had no regard for the animal's health or well-being and the dog was eventually returned to the rescue malnourished, hair matted badly, and with serious dental issues and low state of health. If the dog had been returned to the rescue per the contract, then a more suitable home and the dog could have avoided that dark period of time.

Here is a cross-post relative to this situation that might help someone understand, in part, the daily frustrations of a rescue worker.

Hello: You have reached 555-5555, Tender Hearts Rescue. Due to the high volume of calls we have been receiving, please listen closely to the following options and choose the one that best describes you or your situation:

Press 1 if you think we are veterinarians and want free medical advice.

Press 2 if you know we are a rescue organization but want to save money and have us give you free, untrained medical advice anyway.

Press 3 if you make $200,000 a year but still want us to pay to spay the "stray" in your yard (house).

Press 4 if you have a 10-year-old dog (or cat) and your 15-year-old son has suddenly become allergic and you need to find the dog a new home right away.

Press 5 if you have three dogs (or cats), had a baby and want to get rid of your pets because you are the only person in the world to have a baby and pets at the same time.

Press 6 if your dog (or cat) is sick and needs a vet but you need the money for your vacation.

Press 7 if you just got a brand new puppy (or kitten) and your old dog (or cat) is having problems adjusting so you want to get rid of the old one right away.

Press 8 if your little puppy (or kitten) has grown up and is no longer small and cute and you want to trade it in for a new model.

Press 9 if you are elderly and want to adopt a cute puppy (or kitten) who is not active and is going to outlive you.

Press 10 if your relative has died and you don't want to care for their elderly dog (or cat) because it doesn't fit your lifestyle.

Press 11 if you are moving today and need to immediately place your 150 pound, 8-year-old dog or your 16-year-old cat.

Press 12 if you want an unpaid volunteer to come to your home today and pick up the dog (or cat) you no longer want.

Press 13 if you have been feeding and caring for a "stray" for the last three years, are moving and suddenly determine it's not you r dog (or cat).

Press 14 if you are calling at 6a.m. to make sure you wake me up before I have to go to work so you can drop a dog (or cat) off on your way to work.

Press 15 to leave us an anonymous garbled message, letting us know you have left a dog in our yard in the middle of January, which is in fact, better than just leaving the dog with no message.

Press 16 if you are going to get angry because we are not going to take your dog (or cat) that you have had for fifteen years, because it is not our responsibility.

Press 17 if you are going to threaten to take your ten-year-old dog (or cat) to be euthanized because I wont take it.

Press 18 if you're going to get angry because the volunteers had the audacity to go on vacation and leave the dogs in care of a trusted volunteer who is not authorized to take your personal pet.

Press 19 if you want one of our perfectly trained, housebroken, kid and cat friendly purebred tiny dogs that we have an abundance of.

Press 20 if you want us to take your dog that has a slight aggression problem, i.e. has only bitten a few people and killed your neighbor's cats.

Press 21 if you have already called once and been told we don't take personal surrenders but thought you would get a different person this time with a different answer.

Press 22 if you want us to use space that would go to a stray to board your personal dog (or cat) while you are on vacation, free of charge, of course.

Press 23 if it is Christmas Eve or Easter morning and you want me to deliver an eight week old puppy (or kitten) to your house by 6:30 am before your kids wake up.

Press 24 if you have bought your children a duckling, chick or baby bunny for Easter and it is now Christmas and no longer cute.

Press 25 if you want us to take your female dog (or cat) who has already had ten litters, but we can't spay her because she is pregnant again and it is against your religion.

Press 26 if you're lying to make one of our younger volunteers feel bad and take your personal pet off your hands.

Press 27 if your cat is biting and not using the litter box because it is declawed, but are not willing to accept the responsibility that the cat's behavior is altered because of your nice furniture.

Press 28 if your two year old male dog (or cat) is marking all over your house but you just haven't gotten around to having him neutered.

Press 29 if you previously had an outdoor only dog (or cat) and are calling because she is suddenly pregnant.

Press 30 if you have done "everything" to housebreak your dog and have had no success but you don't want to crate the dog because it is cruel.

Press 31 if you didn't listen to the message asking for an evening phone number and you left your work number when all volunteers are also working and you are angry because no one called you back.

Press 32 if you need a puppy (or kitten) immediately and cannot wait because today is your daughter's birthday and you forgot when she was born.

Press 33 if your dog's (or cat's) coat doesn't match your new furniture and you need a different color or breed.

Press 34 if your new love doesn't like your dog (or cat) and you are too stupid to get rid of the new friend (who will dump you in the next month anyway) instead of the pet.

Press 35 if you went through all these presses and didn't hear enough. This press will connect you to the sounds of tears being shed by one of our volunteers who is holding a discarded old dog (or cat) while the vet mercifully frees him from of the grief of missing his family.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Storytime - Mariah

Whenever I yell for the dogs, they always come running and whenever my dog partner Tony yells for them, they scatter to run under the bed or under the office desk. They figure he's either going to crate them or they're in trouble for something - lol. So when I'm gone I'll ask how things went and he'll tell me who he could and couldn't catch - lol.

Anyway, the other day I took Ellie out of her crate and I knew she had to use the bathroom, but I wanted to check her to be sure she's not coming into heat yet. As I was reaching for a paper towel with the other hand, she got away from me and ran toward the bedroom. I'm yelling "Elle Mae, darn you, get back here" and running after her because I'm scared if she goes that direction, she's going to wet on the carpet and I just shampoo'ed it. So I get to the bedroom in enough time to see 5 little tails going underneath the bed, including Mariah. Shoot, I thought some of those were too big to fit their hineys under there anymore, but they sure did.

So I sighed, went to the door, opened it and yelled, "who wants to go outside." I see those huge ears pop around the doorway of the bedroom horizontally like a kid spying. She was the ambassador sent to see if it was a trick or not so the others could remain safely under the bed. She realized the door was open and she starts her feet moving like the road runner in the cartoons, then all of a sudden they catch traction and she's off and running. The rest followed her outside and I didn't have any messes on my carpet!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation

This is a book review by an contributing author for the San Francisco newspaper. The review can be found here:

Is pet overpopulation a myth? Inside Nathan Winograd's "Redemption"
By Christie Keith, Special to SF Gate

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

In the still-heated debate over reducing shelters deaths in California, there is probably no more polarizing figure than Nathan Winograd, former director of operations for the San Francisco SPCA.

At first glance, Winograd has all the credentials any animal rights activist or shelter professional could ask for. He's a vegan. He left a lucrative career as a prosecuting attorney to devote himself to helping animals. Last year, his income was only $35,000. He has spearheaded the No Kill Advocacy Center, a national organization aimed at ending the killing of pets in animal shelters. While director of operations at the San Francisco SPCA, he worked with then-president Richard Avanzino to implement a wide variety of animal livesaving programs, and then went on to achieve similar success as director of a rural shelter in upstate New York.

But Winograd isn't making a lot of friends in the shelter industry these days. That's because he authored a book called "Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America" that challenges the very foundation of nearly every theory and principle of shelter management in this country: The idea that there are more pets dying in shelters each year than homes available for those pets.

In fact, with between 4 and 5 million dogs and cats being killed in shelters nationwide every year, denying the existence of pet overpopulation seems ridiculous. If there aren't more pets than homes, why are so many animals ending up in shelters in the first place?

Conventional wisdom tells us it's because of irresponsible pet owners who aren't willing to work to keep their pets in their homes. It's a failure of commitment, of caring, and of the human/animal bond. If fewer pets were born, there would be fewer coming into shelters. If people cared more about their pets, they wouldn't give them up so easily, would spay and neuter them so they wouldn't reproduce, and wouldn't let them stray.

That is exactly what I always believed, too, for the nearly 17 years I've been writing about pets. And yet, after reading "Redemption," I don't believe it anymore.

Winograd's argument is simply this: Based on data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, and the latest census, there are more than enough homes for every dog and cat being killed in shelters every year. In fact, when I spoke to him for this article, he told me that there aren't just enough homes for the dogs and cats being killed in shelters. There are more homes for cats and dogs opening each year than there are cats and dogs even entering shelters.

He's not suggesting this is really nothing but a numbers game, though. "When I argue that pet overpopulation is a myth, I'm not saying that we can all go home," he said. "And I'm not saying that there aren't certain people who are irresponsible with their animals. And I'm not saying that there aren't a lot of animals entering shelters. Again, I'm not saying that it wouldn't be better if there were fewer of them being impounded. But it does mean that the problem is not insurmountable and it does mean that we can do something short of killing for all savable animals today."

There is probably nothing Winograd could say that would more inflame the shelter and humane society establishment than calling pet overpopulation a myth. But Winograd doesn't just stop there. In "Redemption," Winograd lays the lion's share of the blame for shelter deaths not on pet owners and communities, but on the management, staff, and boards of directors of the shelters themselves.

"If a community is still killing the majority of shelter animals, it is because the local SPCA, humane society, or animal control shelter has fundamentally failed in its mission," he writes. "And this failure is nothing more than a failure of leadership. The buck stops with the shelter's director."

Redemption makes the case that bad shelter management leads to overcrowding, which is then confused with pet overpopulation. Instead of warehousing and killing animals, shelters, he says, should be using proven, innovative programs to find those homes he says are out there. They should wholeheartedly adopt the movement known as No Kill, and stop using killing as a form of population control.

Mike Fry, the executive director of Animal Ark Shelter in the Minneapolis area, was one of those who had a problem with Winograd's analysis. Interviewing Winograd on his radio show, he said, "I was one of those people, when I saw the title "The Myth of Pet Overpopulation ..." the hackles kind of went up on the back of my neck. This is a problem we're struggling and fighting with literally day in day out in the animal welfare community."

Winograd, who has been in the same trenches himself, responded with some specific examples of the buck stopping at the shelter director's desk. "Let's just look at various animals dying in shelters around the nation today," he said on Fry's radio show. "If ... motherless kittens are killed because the shelter doesn't have a comprehensive foster care program, that's not pet overpopulation. That's the lack of a foster care program.

"If adoptions are low because people are getting those dogs and cats from other places, because the shelter isn't doing outside adoptions (adoptions done off the shelter premises), that's a failure to do outside adoptions, not pet overpopulation.

"And you can go down the list. If animals are killed because working with rescue groups is discouraged, again, that's not pet overpopulation. If dogs are going cage-crazy because volunteers and staff aren't allowed to socialize them, and then those dogs are killed because they're quote-unquote "cage crazy," because the shelter doesn't have a behavior rehabilitation program in place, once again, that's not pet overpopulation; that's the lack of programs and services that save lives.

"And you can say that about feral cats being killed because a shelter doesn't have a trap-neuter-return program. You can say that about shy or scared dogs because the shelter is doing this bogus temperament testing that's killing shy dogs and claiming they are unadoptable. It goes on and on and on."

Winograd's not just talking about something that could happen, but something that has already happened many times in a number of American communities — including San Francisco, which in 1994 became the first city in the United States to end the killing of healthy dogs and cats.

Of course, the San Francisco SPCA was not the first no-kill shelter in the United States. There have always been individual shelters and rescue groups that have not used population control killing. What San Francisco did was to institutionalize No Kill on a county-wide basis, guaranteeing that animals would not be killed simply for lack of shelter space. The SFSPCA promised to take all adoptable, treatable, and rehabilitatable pets that came into San Francisco's municipal shelter, and find homes for them if the city shelter could not.

"If you look at what San Francisco did between 1993 and 1994, the number of deaths didn't decline by one percent or two percent," Winograd said. "In the case of healthy animals it declined 100 percent. In the case of sick and injured animals it declined by about 50 percent." Nonetheless, instead of adopting similar programs for their own communities, most observers of the time shrugged it off, saying that it wouldn't work anywhere else. San Francisco, they said, is special.

As a fourth-generation native, I'm the first to admit my city is special. But the reality is that No Kill has worked in a wide variety of communities. Winograd later left California and took over the SPCA in Tompkins County, N.Y., which held the animal control contract for the region and has an open admissions policy. One of the most compelling sections of "Redemption" tells how Winograd walked into the shelter and, literally overnight, ended the practice of killing for shelter space:

"The day after my arrival, my staff informed me that our dog kennels were full and since a litter of six puppies had come in, I needed to decide who was going to be killed in order to make space. I asked for 'Plan B'; there was none. I asked for suggestions; there were none."

He spoke directly to his staff, saying, "Volunteers who work with animals do so out of sheer love. They don't bring home a paycheck. So if a volunteer says, 'I can't do it,' I can accept that from her. But staff members are paid to save lives. If a paid member of staff throws up her hands and says, 'There's nothing that can be done,' I may as well eliminate her position and use the money that goes for her salary in a more constructive manner. So what are we going to do with the puppies that doesn't involve killing?"

The story of how Tompkins County stopped killing for population control and started sending more than 90 percent of the animals that come into its animal control system out alive may be one of the greatest success stories of the humane movement. It's certainly one of the most compelling parts of the argument laid out in "Redemption."

Because, although it wasn't always easy, these programs worked, and not only in San Francisco or Tompkins County. "In Tompkins County, we reduced the death rate 75 percent in two years. In Charlottesville, Va., they reduced it by over 50 percent in one year. And Reno, Nev. ... has reduced the death rate by over 50 percent," Winograd said.

"If all shelters not only have the desire and embrace the No Kill philosophy, but comprehensively put into play all those programs and services that ... I ... collectively call the no-kill equation, then we would achieve success."

The issue of pet overpopulation is only one piece of the story told in "Redemption." Within its pages, readers and animal lovers can find the blueprint not so much for our failure to save the animals in our communities, but for our ability to start doing so today. It challenges us to demand more of our shelters than the status quo, to insist on an end to the use of killing as a form of animal population control, and tells us to stop allowing our tax dollars and donations to support shelters and animal control agencies that refuse to implement programs that have been proven in communities across America to work to end the killing.

Bay Area residents will have the chance to hear Winograd speak on "Redemption" and the No Kill movement. He'll be at the Women's Community Building at 3543 18th St. in San Francisco on Thursday, Nov. 8, at 6 p.m. The event is free, and space can be reserved at There is also more information, and a list of speaking dates in other parts of the country, at

Christie Keith is a contributing editor for Universal Press Syndicate's Pet Connection and past director of the Pet Care Forum on America Online. She lives in San Francisco.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Diet Coke & Mentos Experiment

Reminder - keep artificial sweeteners away from your pets, especially xylitol!