Monthly Archives: May 2015

Tails: There is a always a “flood.”

As so many have heard on the news, parts of Texas are underwater.  There is flooding everywhere and not a lot of dry weather in the picture.  Just like homes and businesses, animal shelters are finding themselves in trouble.  The Daily Dot published a story, “Texans are Adopting Dogs in Droves to Rescue Them from Flooded Shelters” which describes how so many of the people in the community have come to the rescue and are helping shelters find homes for all of the animals.

It is amazing to see so many people come out to help the shelter and to save the dogs.  The shelters are even waiving re-claim fees and adopting dogs out for free for a limited time – all to get the dogs out of the shelter and into safety.

No one wants to see the dogs suffer or die is what it comes down to.  Yet, every day in shelters across America thousands of dogs are suffering and dying – no flooding needed.

I don’t want to take away from the compassionate people willing to adopt dogs in Texas during a natural disaster.  I don’t want to lessen the generosity of people willing to temporarily house stray dogs until their owners can be found.  I don’t.  But, the truth is all animal shelters are flooding – with dogs.

Killing good dogs for space isn’t much different than letting them drown in flood waters, yet, most people are okay with it.  Well, they must be.  You rarely see droves of people coming out to animals shelters during a normal week.

Does there have to be a natural disaster for people to get involved and to care?

I know I sound cynical.  I saw the article on Facebook and as I read it tears streamed down my cheeks.  I was overwhelmed by the goodness in people.  Seeing the lines of people willing to help was miraculous.

However, within seconds I was angry because I know dogs die every minute in shelters because no one comes to adopt them.  If there can be lines of people during a flood, surely there can be lines of people on a sunny day.

Am I supposed to start praying for natural disasters, so that dogs can finally make it out of shelters alive?

I know there are shelters who often waive re-claim fees and make adoptions less or free on certain weekends.  Those shelters find themselves empty by Sunday.  Why don’t more shelters do this periodically?  It obviously works.

Yes, they are sacrificing dollars, but it costs money to care for dogs – hell, it costs money to kill dogs, so why not make it easier for people to adopt or to reclaim their lost dogs and empty the shelters?  If the goal is to get the dogs home and to safety, what are we waiting for?

I keep this blog short because the message is simple.  Every day is a flood of homeless dogs in shelters – Every. Single. Day.  Don’t wait for the storm – get in line today and save a life.

Tails: The truth is I am heartbroken

I went to the Chicago Animal Care and Control Commissions meeting yesterday and I left there a lot of things: angry, frustrated, confused. But, the truth is: I left there heartbroken.

Thousands of dogs will be killed today for no good reason, thousands will sit in their own feces locked in puppy-mills to never see the light of day, thousands will be relinquished by their owners to city shelters where they will never come out of alive, and thousands more will be beaten or neglected in their own homes. Thousands of dogs will suffer today.

And this is heartbreaking to anyone – especially to someone like me – who believes dogs are the most compassionate, forgiving animals on the planet.

However, beyond my sadness for the animals is my sadness for the entire animal welfare movement. I sat through the meeting. I furrowed my brow. I said nasty words under my breath when they said, “We can’t put dogs on the adoption side because we don’t have enough of them.”

Why do you need more then one? Why don’t you just start with one and see how it goes? When that one gets adopted, and it will, put another one in. You don’t need 10 before someone will adopt one.

I rolled my eyes when they said they can’t do field redemptions because of a whole bunch of bullshit laws. Isn’t it in EVERYONE’s best interests to return the dog to its owners BEFORE it ever steps foot in a shelter? Doesn’t that SAVE EVERYONE money?

I smirked when one brave person in the public forum wanted to know what happened to Missy, the dog left in an animal control van for 6 days without food or water… And then I gasped, when they told her they couldn’t say a word because it was under investigation. Not a word, huh? At least we know Missy is in rescue and no longer at the hands of city neglect.

I felt a lot of emotions as I sat in my chair and looked around. I felt hope seeing over 25 people from the public attend the meeting. Twenty-five people show interest. Twenty-five people stare at the board and question them on their actions. EVERYONE should be questioning them. They are killing dogs and cats every single day. Good dogs, adoptable dogs. Friendly cats.

I don’t just say this like some random blogger. My rescue took a dog out of there two weeks ago. A dog that was successfully treated for 3 weeks for CIV. We were told that if we (or some rescue) didn’t take him, he would be euthanized in 4 days. Pops is the best dog you could ask for. He doesn’t chew. He is potty trained. He doesn’t run away. He loves kids and other dogs. The list of his outstanding characteristics goes on and on. Yet, if no one could have stepped in, he would be dead right now. Instead, he is being adopted. Adopted by someone from the city, who could have just as easily adopted him from CACC.

But, what really breaks my heart is the conversations that take place AFTER the meeting. So many wonderful people with huge hearts trying to fight  to save the animals. All of them – not just the cute ones or the lovable ones – ALL of them. Yet, as I hear them talk all I really see is each of them fighting against one another.

The animal welfare movement suffers because they can’t agree on common ground.  Instead they focus on commentary like this:

 That rescue sucks because they board their dogs.

That person sucks because they steal dogs out of the backyards of abusive homes.

That person is crazy because she will only adopt to people who stay home all day.

 The list of unacceptable behaviors goes on and on. So much so, that when I left CACC, I wondered if there were any rescues getting it right, if there was one single person who was met with complete approval.

Hey, I would do anything to save a dog from euthanasia, but I eat meat. Another reason to disapprove of me as a rescuer.

I know, deep down, everyone’s heart is in the right place. I know from my very own perspective, that I judge people and scrutinize who is “good enough” to adopt. I have said things about some people and some rescues. Yes, I mean not nice things…

But, here is the kicker… if we cannot find common ground, if we cannot come together and agree on the basic fundamentals of rescue, we will never win this battle. One hundred individuals are not nearly as powerful as a united army of the same number.

This war we wage on city shelters is big. We are fighting politics and policies and unions. We are fighting things much bigger than any one of us. However, I don’t think it is bigger than all of us TOGETHER.

The question is, “Can we put our opinions aside and focus on the animals? Can we stop harshly criticizing each other just long enough to form a strong alliance?”

We need an alliance. Not just in Chicago, but anywhere we are fighting for change.

In Chicago we need an alliance NOT made up of only the players who actually sit at the CACC board table. We need people willing to stand-up and speak out AGAINST the horrors of CACC.

Thousands of dogs will die today. That is our common ground. Let’s forget the crap we use to hurt one another and reunite to actually make a monumental difference in the lives of not just one dog at a time, but all dogs once and for all.

Tails: What does AC stand for? Seems like Animal Cruelty these days

I am grasping to understand why citizens are not demanding more from their municipal animal shelters.  Is it because we have coined them “Animal Control” for too long?  Does that term somehow imply a reason for control instead of care?

In the last few hours, in only my Facebook feed, I have seen 2 petitions crying for justice for animals abused in local animal control facilities.  A petition asking to improve conditions at Hesperia Animal Shelter describes these scenarios, “An animal was dragged for hundreds of feet on a leash by an employee and caught on video.  Another dog was so scared in the PTS room and manhandled until the dog bit its own tongue almost clean off and alligator rolled (this is when the dog is at the end of the catch pole and it keeps rolling and spinning). It was left to perish in its own dirt. Nobody even tried to save this helpless dog.”

The other petition for Chicago Animal Care and Control is demanding justice for Missy and describes this scenario, “On April 24, 2015, police were called to Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) after it was discovered that an employee had left a dog in a small cage in a CACC vehicle for six days without food or water.”  As well, as two other scenarios in the last 12 months, “Nearly a year ago, a young mixed-breed dog named Chance was “accidentally” euthanized when a CACC employee failed to put a proper hold on the impounded animal. Also last year, it came to light that an employee choked a dog to death using a “catch pole” (a pole with a noose-like rope at one end that is commonly used to bring animals under control and prevent bites).”

Everyday on my Facebook feed I see pictures of dogs wrongly killed by city shelters across the states just like the one I featured in this blog.

We have paid, trained people killing and abusing animals everyday.  Yet, no one is taking action. What the officer did in Chicago, leaving a dog without food or water, locked in a cage for SIX days would warrant legal action in every possible scenario.  EXCEPT when committed by an animal control officer?  Dogs wrongly killed multiple times in a 12 month period and yet, NO action is put forth to investigate and arrest the people involved.

Dogs literally bleeding to death, surrounded by their own filth in GOVERNMENT run facilities and no one does anything?

We are no longer living in the dog catcher days.  Taxes are paying for the care of these animals.  People are trained to work with these animals.  This type of cruel and malicious behavior has to stop and it must be punishable.  If a citizen was caught leaving her dog with no food or water for six days, she would face criminal charges.  If a citizen strangled his own dog to death, he would face criminal charges.  Animal neglect and cruelty is punishable.  Why doesn’t the law apply to everyone?

Please get involved and demand justice.  As citizens, we must take a stand and stop the cruelty of animals in municipal shelters across the country.  INNOCENT dogs and cats are dying and being tortured every single day in America in the very shelters designed to protect them.  OUR tax dollars are being used to KILL dogs and cats everyday.  Is that what you want – your hard earned money used to kill your neighbor’s relinquished cat or even YOUR lost dog?

There are city shelters across the states making amazing strides at becoming No Kill.  Shelters with tiny budgets and little staff.  Don’t buy the excuses.  It isn’t all about money – it is about compassion and the desire to do better.

Try going to sleep tonight knowing that your very own tax dollars killed an innocent dog today.  He was 2 years old and relinquished because his owners had to move.  He was sweet and loving, but your shelter didn’t care, so they killed him… with your money.  YOU killed that dog because you didn’t care enough to sign a petition and take a stand.

Take a stand.  Be the voice.  It matters… they all matter.





Tails: A Dog’s Escape from Alcatraz (AKA: City Pound)

It was a crazy day yesterday.  The dog flu in Chicago has reached epidemic proportions and the city shelter, CACC, is struggling to move dogs out.  A rescue I volunteer for, NorthStar Shih Tzu Rescue, based in Minnesota, is always willing to lend a helping hand, but with a 14 day quarantine, and no Illinois foster homes, there wasn’t much we could do.

So, I posted to FB looking for foster homes and within minutes, my step-daughter wanted to do it!  Excited, I contacted Tina and, again, within minutes, there was a dog named Pops, a Shih Tzu mix of sorts, who needed a way out.  Juliette sent us his picture and we were all thrilled to know we could actually rescue him.

It sounds so beautiful and easy, but the logistics get so crazy.  I wanted to share the rest of the story today, so that people understand what all is involved in helping a dog escape the city pound.  I don’t think the average adopter knows what it takes to get a dog from point A to point B.  When you see Fido on petfinder in a breed rescue, unless he was an owner relinquish, there was a lot of effort by a lot of people to get him there.

Minutes after we got Pops’ picture, we learned that he tested positive for the virus on April 24th.  It made us cautious, but we weren’t giving up.  I called my vet to see when they could take Pops, only to learn that there was NO WAY they were taking a virus positive dog in our county.  He was adamant that we leave Pops in quarantine.

Sure, clinically, that made sense.  But, as a rescue person, your heart only sees an innocent dog with a death sentence.  So, I called Tina and Lindsey and advised them of the vet’s concerns.  We grew hesitant.  Wanting to save Pops, but not wanting to hurt the greater good.  Texts, FB messages, calls, took place over the next few hours.  What vet would take him?  Was it the right thing to do?

Lindsey didn’t  have any dogs and neither did any of her neighbors.  Getting Pops to her home made sense.  He could get out of the shelter and be quarantined safely in her home.  So, more phone calls, texts and messages to organize the transport.

Let’s step back for a moment and give credit to the backstory.  In order for us to even know about Pops, a person, probably a volunteer, has to evaluate him and notify a rescue partner with CACC.  In turn, they shuffle through their contact list looking for the right rescue organization to commit to taking him in.  In this case, it was us.

Now, Juliette is able to put a confirmed hold on him (more paperwork) and we are left to decide on the logistics of transport.  We started with Monday night, but after a few more texts and messages, have decided on Sunday afternoon.  So, Juliette will spring Pops from the shelter as well as get him his rabies vaccine and the appropriate paperwork for him to eventually cross state lines.  I will meet her in the city, and I will take him to Lindsey’s and help get him settled.

After 14 days at Lindsey’s, Pops will make a few hundred mile trek to Minnesota.  More than likely, his road trip will consist of a few drivers each taking a 2 hour leg of the journey.  Once Pops makes it to Minnesota, he will see our rescue vet and be evaluated for any veterinarian care he might need.  It is usually things like spay/neuter, dentals, grooming, etc.  Pops will be placed in a new foster home until the right adopters come along.

In the end, it will have taken at least a dozen people to help Pops find a home.  Not to mention hours of logistics planning.  And, of course, the love and compassion of at least two foster homes before he finds his forever one.

There are thousands of dogs like Pops looking to escape the city shelter and find comfort in a foster home.  And, fortunately, there are lots of people who are able to work the logistics of getting him there. What we don’t have enough of is foster homes.  Foster homes save lives… Please consider becoming a foster home and asking friends and family to do the same.

***Late yesterday, as our plans to move forward were in motion, we also learned that Pops’ latest test revealed that he was no longer positive for the virus!  Fantastic news!  To be cautious, he is still going to stay in IL for two weeks before making his journey “home.”***