Monthly Archives: July 2015

Tails: The Tide Has Turned

I have been driving a lot in the last week.  Driving allows me to get in my head and really concoct some twisted ideas.  Let me briefly describe varying incidents that contributed to my concoction.

One day, while not driving, I found myself tuned into an older TV show, “Judging Amy.”  Without going into unnecessary detail, a part of the show portrays the Department of Children and Family Services.  A day later, I found myself in the Walmart parking lot watching as a police officer was called to the scene to investigate a dog locked in a hot car.  The woman who called was frantic.  She was getting water and trying to get the owner of the dog to give it to him.  The officer was attempting to explain to the woman how unsafe it was to leave the dog in the car.

On my next 100 miles, I had a “Aha” moment.  If you will humor me for the next few minutes and let me share my moment with you, I would love to further spur my idea.  I believe the tide has turned and we, as a society, no longer need government agencies like Animal Control or the Department of Agriculture to protect us, as human beings, from domestic animals.  (I am not suggesting the Dept. of Ag should give-up inspecting meat sources or farming)

I think that we have emerged as a nation who seeks to protect animals from humans and not vice versa.  That said, organizations like Animal Control not only portray inconsistency with society’s goal, they have become a deterrent for accomplishing it.  The Department of Ag walks into mass breeding facilities with the mindset of food inspection and not the goal of humane treatment.  The two main animal governing agencies no longer support the ideals of the country.  I think we need to change things completely.

Let me insert a disclaimer here… I am not an expert on government agencies.  I know little about how they are funded or how they are managed from a federal/state perspective.  I think we can all estimate that they are a mess like the rest of this country, so we can assume that my ideas are just as feasible as what we have today.

This is how I picture things changing… On a federal level we create, The Department of Domestic Animal Protective Services (DDAPS)  On a federal level,  we determine basic laws and regulations and make any necessary changes to the Animal Welfare Act.  We take money from the Dept. of Ag budget to accomplish this.  Currently, puppy-mill inspections are conducted under the Dept. of Ag.  In my opinion, not only has it been ineffective, it is the wrong mindset. We are not trying to eat dogs, we are trying to protect them.  Any monies designated for these types of inspections would now be going towards DDAPS.

DDAPS would be the governing body of the state level DDAPS facilities.  ANY city, county, or town who managed a municipal shelter would now use that funding to run DDAPS.  There would NO longer be any animal controls.  They would all be replaced by DDAPS.

When I say replaced, I mean replaced because I, personally, I am really tired of random government employees becoming the directors of Animal Control facilities.  DDAPS would be run by leaders in the animal welfare community, not the ex-manager of streets and sanitation.  DDAPS employees and volunteers would be vetted in animal care.  They would be people who are passionate about no kill and ending puppy-mills and starting TNR programs.  They would NOT be people buying time to get government pensions.

Let’s talk about the day to day functions and responsibilities of DDAPS.  They would run no kill shelters.  These would be open access shelters who also provide low-cost spay/neuter, low cost microchips and low cost vaccinations.  They would offer adoptable animals to the public and work with local rescues on animals who require additional care or have specific needs.

I emphasize local rescues because I also believe we need to get a better handle on shipping animals to other states.  Yes, certain demographic areas have larger stray animal populations, but there are animals dying needlessly in almost every state in America.  Shipping the animals around is not the answer.  I believe, if run correctly, DDAPS would allow each state to better manage its own animal population.

Each DDAPS facility would be responsible for inspecting area rescues, shelters, and breeding facilities.  There have been way too many hoarding cases and neglect cases among rescues and shelters in the last few years.  I believe that no one is exempt from giving proper care to animals.  These facilities would train both staff and volunteers to do inspections, all with the mindset of “protecting the animals.”

DDAPS facilities would also be responsible for community outreach.  They would offer school programs to educate children on animal cruelty and how to properly care for pets.  They would offer under-served areas the opportunity to provide for their pets by supplying leashes, bowls, food, etc.  They would promote Return to Owner programs and provide resources to help lost dogs get home.  If needed, they would have the power to step in and get the dog to the proper owner.

In each DDAPS facility, there would be trained officers who would manage bite incidents.  Anything having to do with illegal activity would be handled by local police, while the animals involved would be under the care of DDAPS.  Rabid bats would go to the health department.

I don’t know what you are thinking, but I am rather excited.  I realize all of this comes with a price.  Money the government says they never have.  I disagree.  No, I don’t know the exact numbers, but here is what I do know:

DDAPS facilities would be managed and ran by both paid and unpaid staff.  I truly believe that there is a HUGE population of people who would love to volunteer at the type of organization I am describing.  I know I would.  I long for the day someone hands me a checklist and an address for a puppy-mill and tells me to come back with an inspection report.

I believe that there is a large population who would privately support organizations like this by donating towards specific programs such as community outreach or veterinary care.  I think there are veterinarians who would do work at facilities like this pro bono or for little cost.

People are tired of the way things are.  People want to see things change for animals.  People want to be involved in protecting them.  People are tired of the current government agencies getting in the way of doing these things.  The systems we have in place today are antiquated.  They speak to days when people threw animals to the curb, when people thought most dogs were rabid, and when people didn’t understand TNR cats.  Today we spend billions on our pets.  Most people sleep with them in their beds.  People fly with their pets, dine with their pets and treat them like companions.

The tide has turned and it is time we re-create laws and governing bodies that uphold what we believe as a society.

I am ready and 100% serious.  Let’s do this!

…and if you are presidential candidate reading this – make this the top of your agenda and you have my vote!


Tails: I want to be a normal person

Today I want to take my three dogs and run away.  I want to disconnect from Facebook and Twitter and NEVER again hear of another dog in need.   I want to forget all of the horrors I have seen at dog auctions and erase my memories from working at Animal Control.  I just want to be a normal person again.

I am only 12 years into the profession of animal welfare.  I realized yesterday I am burned out.  I just spent all of last week surrounded by people like me.  People working towards a No Kill world.  People trying to dismantle breed legislation.  People yearning to “Save Them All.”  Sadly, even amongst them, I felt a sense of loss and uncertainty.  I think I have been surrounded too long.

No matter how many times I tell myself or how many times others (the normal people) tell me different, I do feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders.  I feel like if I don’t post that dog on death row, or blog about CACC, I am worthless.  I can’t walk by a dog without wondering, “Did they adopt or buy him at a pet store?”  I can’t buy dog food without having an anxiety attack wondering what food is the best.  I can’t drive by a municipal shelter without wondering what their live release rate is and what innocent dogs are going to die today.

Basically, I can no longer enjoy any aspect of dogs without wondering about all of the bad shit.  It is emotionally exhausting.  I am desperate to remember what it was like to be a normal person. To be content because I adopted three dogs and not feel the pressure to Save Them All.

I am beyond the concept of adopting more to make a difference.  I learned along the way that I, personally, cannot save them all by keeping 100 dogs at my house.  Yet, I still am under the impression, that I, personally, MUST do something(s) everyday to be a valuable human being.

I yearn to be the person who dresses up their Shih Tzu (I have one – I bought her at a mill auction.  4 1/2 years a breeding dog) and takes her to a fancy pet store to look for new clothes.  Instead, I am the person who blogs about her overused uterus.

I would love to be the person who goes to the dog park everyday to throw tennis balls.  Instead, I am the person educating everyone on how I rescued my dog from death row because he had 3 pelvic fractures and the municipal shelter was going to euthanize him.

Often I feel paralyzed by the overwhelming impact we each have on the world.  “Don’t eat meat.”  “Don’t go to the circus.” “Don’t wear leather.”

I was washing my car yesterday and noticed all of the dead bugs on the windshield.  It seemed the perfect analogy to me.  I feel like my life has gotten to the point where to save them all, I cannot live.  The only way I could have avoided killing all of those bugs (99% of them I never even saw hit the windshield) is to not leave my house and to not participate in life.

I realize that is an exaggeration.  Of course, each of us can live a full life while choosing to protect the animals, but at this moment, I feel too overwhelmed to figure it out.  I want to clear my head of all the crap I have seen – the dead animals, the bullshit animal welfare politics and start over.

I want to be a normal person who sees animals for the happiness they bring and not the one thousand horrific things I see, such as: death, despair, cruelty, and neglect.

Long before I wrote a book or found myself speaking to legislators, I wore old clothes, often covered in poop, and cleaned cages.  I spent hours sitting on concrete floors, cuddling shelter animals and telling them that they deserved a second chance.

My journey took me away from those experiences.  I have found myself involved on a much different level surrounded by politics and statistics and the day to day scrutiny of animal welfare practices.  Somehow along the way, it became more about “everything” and less about the two eyes with a tail staring back at me.

I want to be mesmerized again by merely hugging a shelter dog.  I want to find complete joy in brushing a homeless cat.  I want to re-ignite my passion for animals simply by sitting in a dirty dog kennel and feeling like I am saving a life.

I want to start over and be a normal person again.




Tails: I believe there are too many

The idea that there is an overpopulation of dogs is controversial.  There are actually people, whom I respect, who say there isn’t an overpopulation of dogs.  They say that if we could just find the right marketing techniques and educate the public better, all the shelter dogs would find a home.

Perhaps, that is true.

I am extremely passionate about two areas of animal welfare: puppy-mills and municipal shelters.  Having spent a lot of time studying them and immersed in their horrors, I, personally, believe that there is an overpopulation problem.  I think that if we stopped the mass breeding of dogs COMPLETELY, ALL of the dogs in city shelters WOULD be adopted.

I believe we need to limit people’s choices of dogs.  I realize that sounds unAmerican.  Like I am taking away a civil liberty, but the masses have demonstrated that they don’t know any better.  People continue to pass up the matted, scared Shih Tzu in the shelter for $80 and go purchase the same exact dog in a pet store for $1200.  They overlook the yellow lab bouncing in it’s shelter run for $65 and buy one from a breeder for $800, only to realize a few months later that their dog is now bouncing in it’s run at home.  They don’t even consider a mixed breed at the shelter only to go on-line and buy a “Shi-poo” for $1500.

I also believe that if we limited the number of dogs bred in our country, the Pitbulls and Pit mixes would stand a better chance of adoption.  If people had less to choose from, Pits would become more appealing.  And, if we spent less time dealing with an overpopulation of dogs, we could spend more time working on educating people on the breed.  Pitbulls have to be the most misunderstood breed of the century.

The truth is, if I were President, there would be a moratorium on breeding.

The 3 dogs pictured above are my dogs.  The tan dog, Jack, was saved by my rescue.  He was going to be euthanized at the city shelter because he had been hit by a car and no one wanted him.  The Shih Tzu and the Chinese Crested I bought at an Amish dog auction.  No one wanted them.  They spent their lives in boxes.  No one even knew they existed.

Yesterday, I posted their post-grooming pictures on Facebook.  Lots of people commented on what beautiful dogs they were.  How cute they were.  How lucky I was.

My dogs are all throw-away dogs.  Yet, now that they are living in a loving home and getting proper care, people think they are “special” that they are “worthy.”

My dogs are the very dogs people pass over at the shelter, yet go on-line or to pet stores to buy.  Dogs like mine come by the thousands to city shelters across the states.  Dogs like mine  are killed every day, simply because there aren’t enough homes to place them in.

Maybe it is about education and marketing, but the reality continues to stare me in the face.  There are too many dogs for people to choose from and that means there are way too many good dogs being killed in shelters.  Let’s stop the breeding until ALL dogs have a home.