Monthly Archives: June 2015

Tails: How do we change apathetic?

Every single day I see sad stories of dogs falling through the municipal shelter system.  Good dogs killed due to absolutely NO fault of their own.  Good dogs of all breeds and ages.  Pure bred dogs.  Friendly dogs.  Lost dogs.

Thousands of dogs die every single day.  Dogs who, if found under different circumstances, would be loving companions.  Instead, they are shoved into cold, concrete kennels and left to suck it up.  One, small change in behavior and they are now “not adoptable.”

People, like me, shed tears each and every time we see a Facebook post showing the pictures of these happy dogs who are now dead.  64 in Georgia just a few weeks ago.

People like me get angry.  We scream for more to be done.  We beg for taxpayers to demand better.  We shake our heads and throw our hands up.  Yet, change remains slow and stagnant.

Today, I am sincerely asking, “How do we change apathetic?”

The truth is that while dog ownership is a billion dollar business, the reality is not enough people are adamant  about saving the dogs in shelters.  If we could take 25% of how people like me feel and implant that passion in the remaining public, I think we could accomplish great things.  But, how do we do that?

If the written word were my voice, I am certain I would be hoarse.  I spend time every day preaching about homeless dogs in city shelters.

I also spend a lot of my time and effort  convincing people of the relationship between pet stores and puppy-mills and, for whatever reason, I feel like that fight has gotten easier.  People seem to be getting that message quicker.  More people understand that puppy-mills are bad.

Less people appear to believe that anything positive can be done at city shelters.  The general public seems content with the crappy way shelters operate.  They seem at peace with the numbers of dogs being killed.  Why?

Seriously, why?

There are groups popping up all over demanding more transparency at city shelters.  Groups teaming up to save the dogs from being killed.  Groups coming out to protest city shelter actions and policies.  There is an upheaval on the horizon.  I am excited.

However, until people like me can get Joe Citizen to act, to care, to demand…I don’t know how much we can accomplish.

Like Kathy Pobloskie said in her blog about Joni, “As long as good dogs continue to die, I will continue to write about them,” but we have to do more.  We have to find ways into the heads and hearts of the common citizen.  We, animal people, are beyond passionate about city shelter killing, but what can we do to change the mindsets of ALL citizens.  What can we do to instill our passion and get taxpayers to truly demand change?

I believe that IS the key to No Kill.

Tails: When did the truth become unlawful?

For the last two weeks, I have sat quietly. I have observed quite a few things making me profoundly question the state of animal welfare in our country. I feel lost and yet, I feel outraged.

Two weeks ago, 64 dogs were killed in Clayton county, GA. They were killed because the county CHOSE not to treat their virus. The same virus numerous other county shelters ARE treating. Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) is making its way through the states. Right here in my home, Chicago, we have been battling it for months. Dog parks, grooming facilities, and shelters have all been plagued by CIV and forced to close doors and halt business.

But the illness is a virus and with proper medication, can be cured. The dogs can go on to live happy, healthy lives. We don’t kill people just because they get strep throat.

The irony is that the vet who killed the 64 dogs, happened to report that she told the county she would medically treat the dogs. The county chose to kill them anyway. 64 dogs who would have made amazing pets. DEAD.

Thousands of people have “liked” the facebook page honoring the 64 lives. Thousands of people are angry.

For fun, I googled, “atrocities in city shelters.” Instantly, my screen was filled with horrific stories of starvation, beatings, killings that went wrong. The stories were gruesome and ugly and quite frankly, the acts that had been displayed were illegal. Yet, only a few of the city shelters appeared to change. Only a handful, changed leadership.

Just a few months ago in Chicago, an animal control officer left a dog in a van without food or water for 6 days. The case is still under investigation and the officer is still working. If a citizen had done the same thing, his dog would be taken away and he would be facing sentencing.

Why are we, as a country, allowing municipal shelters to do whatever they want? As taxpayers, we own the city shelter. The employees work for us. We have a fundamental right to demand better.

Let me switch gears to another issue that is keeping me up at night. Recently, two things happened in the last few days that have left me wondering what the hell is wrong with people. Last Wednesday a group I know who works to educate people on the truth about puppy-mills was denied entry into a parade because they were deemed controversial.

Normally, this group enters into parades to peacefully hand-out pamphlets, walk dogs looking for homes and throw candy. They are never violent. They don’t hold signs or chant obnoxiously. They walk in the parade to educate and to find homeless dogs homes. How on earth is that controversial?

Another group I know, who protests as often as they can in front of a pet store who sells puppies from puppy-mills,  is being threatened by “a few” people who feel their protests should be considered unlawful.

Unlawful to peacefully protest? It is a civil right. Freedom of speech is a fundamental belief in America. I am fairly certain it is one of THE reasons people live here. One of THE reasons people flee their own countries to migrate here.

I think why I feel so angry is that these groups are simply exposing a TRUTH. They are not lying and yet, people want them to be quiet. People are willing to shut them up at the expense of a civil liberty?

The two issues I am grappling with are practically juxtaposed. On one hand I have government brutally killing innocent animals and no one holding them accountable. On the other hand I have taxpayers willing to gag people from exposing the truth. City governments willing to fight against freedom of speech simply because they are afraid of the truth.

What is it about the truth that people don’t want to hear? I get that no one wants to see dogs dying, or suffering, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

I am so angry at the ignorance in our society. I am so tired of the apathetic approach taken by people to such horrors in city shelters. People are so desperate that they are willing to take away fundamental rights and no one, besides animal people, seem to give a shit. (The Ag Gag bills in states are really no different. People are willing to deny the truth, to remain blinded, just to save their profits.)

 I started an animal rescuer, I became an animal advocate and I feel myself ranting like an activist.

My compassion always lies with the animals. But, my fire is now fueled from the desire to protect my basic rights – especially when I speak ONLY the truth.

Why is my advocating for the truth a detriment large enough to put civil liberties in jeopardy, while the actions of the culprits, the people mass breeding dogs and selling sick puppies for thousands of dollars, are no big deal?

When did the truth become unlawful?



Tails: We have the right to “play” too.

I went and saw the premier of Dog by Dog last night in Chicago.  It was good.  Truthfully, it was my book, Bark Until Heard, in documentary form.  It spoke of the puppy-mill rescues, the legislation, the AKC, and the pet store protests.  All of the things that I talk about in my book.  However, one area that it goes into a lot of detail about, an area that I did not, was the dirty politics that prevent bills from becoming laws to protect the dogs.

Legislative bills that are introduced to protect dogs are almost always put into agriculture type committees.  The USDA is the government body responsible for the inspection of puppy-mills.  The same inspectors who grade your meat.  In theory, it makes sense that puppy-mill bills are presented in this way, however, the reality is dogs are not an agricultural by-product.  They are man’s best friend.

In the world of agriculture there are some major players: Monsanto, Tyson, Cargill and Smithfield.  These specific ones spent millions of dollars fighting the Missouri puppy-mill bill.  Literally, paying off politicians out of fear that giving dogs humane treatment would eventually lead to stricter regulations on all of their factory farms, cutting into their profits.

The monies these businesses threw at the puppy-mill bill in Missouri, the convoluted behaviors they showed and the lack of integrity they displayed by lying to the citizens of the state is grossly beyond measure.  And, saddest of all, is after their sickening behavior, the dogs in Missouri were left to continue to suffer.  The dogs were left to sit in wire cages full of feces.  The dogs were left to rot, never to see the light of day or the gentle touch of a human being.

Interestingly, a friend sent me an email early this morning about the tactics of HSUS, The Humane Society of the United States.  They wanted me to read about how HSUS is not rescuing dogs with the donations they get.  They wanted to me to see that they are a political organization.

Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS, was in the movie a lot.  He spoke of the legislative fight and the tactics of the agri-lobbying groups.  There were two other HSUS employees in the movie who each talked about they dirty, greedy lies the agri-businesses told.  They all shared the hard, cold facts about the agri-business’ very aggressive attack against the bills which would have protected the dogs.

As someone who eats and breathes animal welfare, I guess I already knew that HSUS wasn’t really “rescuing” dogs anymore.  They have become a political lobbying group.  And, yes, sometimes they play what some might deem dirty games.  I. Don’t. Care.

Everyone envisions animal welfare as some warm and fuzzy operation.  The sad stories.  The helpless animals.  The beautiful stories of transformation.  Yeah, that stuff happens, but it is absolutely necessary to see the BIG picture.  It is important to fix the core of the problems and not just each individual broken dog.

There is a lot of bad shit is this country.  Puppy-mills are part of the bad shit.  Sure rescues can continue to take in the neglected dogs, fix them up and find them homes, but the goal is to get rid of the problem: puppy-mills.

If organizations like HSUS have to solicit money to lobby in the political arena, so be it!  If they have to go undercover to prove the hellacious conditions of a mass breeding facility, do it!  If they have to spend money to outplay the bullshit of agribusiness, I am all for it.

Why doesn’t anyone question the companies of the products they buy.  Why do consumers have to pay more for their meat, so that Tyson can spend millions to defeat a bill designed to protect man’s best friend?

Yes, HSUS is using your money to lobby, to fight the dirty tactics of agribusiness and perhaps, not to literally,  take care of Fido in a shelter.  Animal welfare needs an organization who can effectively compete in the political jungle.

Yes, we are warm and fuzzy animal welfare people.  We are compassionate beyond understanding, but we are sick and tired of the political games.  We have every right to play just as dirty and mean as they do.  We are trying to do what is right for the animals, the voiceless, gentle souls on Earth.  No matter how dirty we play, I know in my heart, our intentions are the right ones.  We aren’t doing it to get rich, we are doing it because animals shouldn’t have to  suffer in the hands of rotten people.