Monday, March 9, 2015

Be Kind! Just Say Thank You!

I often read comments on social media of people asking why animal rescuers are so cranky, and we shouldn't be in the business of helping animals if we don't like it. In fact, one self proclaimed puppy mill expert often posts that "animal rescuers" should be polite and more willing to help people yet has never spent a moment in rescue herself. Of all the comments I read as a rescuer, the "cranky" one always hits a nerve with me, especially by people who are clueless to what we put up with on a daily basis.

I try and refrain from responding to those armchair experts, but today's telephone call hit the nerve which urged me to write a response. While I was polite (as I could be) on the telephone, I decided to share my after thoughts here.

First let's start with the telephone call. Man calls to "drop off" his 14 year old cat because he is moving. Asking questions is important to gain an understanding of the "full reason" this man feels the NEED to abandon the life of his 14 year companion simply because of a relocation. So after almost 30 minutes of questions, struggling to get an answer each time, it all boiled down to this:

Man is building a home. He sold his previous home. He is uncertain where he will be staying and is kenneling his dogs. He may have to live with a friend and can't have a cat with inappropriate elimination! BINGO! There we go. NOW we know why he wants to "get rid of" his pet. With a good ear, a little tolerance and a whole lot of patience, the truth always comes forth.

So the next part of the discussion is about getting to the root of the problem with the cat's inappropriate behavior. First suggestion is to see a veterinarian to rule out any medical issue. Won't do it, because the vet wants to run a lot of tests. Costs aren't the issue, we offered to help with the bills. The next 15 minutes of the conversation is about all the things he's tried that didn't work.

"First, I love this cat, that's why I'm looking for a no-kill to take it. I don't want it killed, but I can't keep it. We've tried "everything" including that special spray (turns out it's Feliway he tried), giving the cat a time out, and using a squirt bottle when we find potty outside the box. Nothing works!"

Since everything he mentioned was absurd, I swallowed hard and began the painstaking process of trying to provide a little education to the gentleman offering alternative solutions, only to be cut off with:

"Look lady! I don't need a lecture. I've tried everything! I just need a place to take my cat! I don't want it killed, but I can't keep it. If you can't help me, I'll find someone who can." (Yea, good luck with that one mister!)

Despite my effort to explain I wasn't trying to "lecture" but to provide viable solutions he simply didn't want to hear. Plain and simple. He wanted to dump his problem onto someone else! He doesn't want a KILL shelter because he doesn't want to be responsible for it's death. He doesn't want to spend money on the vet (even when we offered to help with the costs). He doesn't want to work on the behavior...He just doesn't want the cat. He doesn't want to hear about how a litter change might help, or scooping the box more frequently, or offering a second box. Nope! It's simple. The cat is 14 years old and it has served it's purpose in his life. His life is changing and the cat is now an inconvenience! No solutions, no suggestions, nothing was welcomed, except for "sure, we'll take it", which wasn't offered!

Now....that is ONE call today! Just one! There will be anywhere from 10-25 this week from pet owners who are inquiring about our "no-kill" services for their unwanted pet that they love more than life itself, (but not quite enough to do what it takes to keep it). So you tell me, how SHOULD we feel? After all, none of us are saints...or at least I'm not! I'm a human being who has a passion for the welfare of animals, and make daily sacrifices for them to help make the world a better place. It isn't a choice. It appears to be my calling. And most days, are like above, especially as a no-kill. It's NOT like the fluffy happy stories you read by those who profess to be animal rescuers but only participate in transports and adoptions.

As I ended the call as politely as I could, wishing him the best (since nothing we offered was good enough for him), I felt deflated and saddened, because I knew the cat's life would fall victim to this lazy uncaring ignorant human who is just seeking out a guilt free way to dispose of a beloved soul because it no longer fits in his life-style! And then I get a little frustrated because I know I can't save them all, but that this cat will most likely lose it's life because this gentleman not only knows it all, apparently has tried it all, and doesn't care to do any more for the animal. So he'll take it to his local animal shelter where it will be euthanized for him and he can walk away without the guilt of killing it himself. And the shelter will be all too happy to do it for him...because after all "they don't turn any animal away!" And so the cycle continues. Ignorance breeds arrogance and animals die! But not to worry...there will be another call like it tomorrow. And if the kitty (or puppy) is lucky, the owner will have a conscience that we can tap into and the animal's life can be saved.

I'm glad that I choose not to participate in the innocent killing of animals because our society has a disposable mentality. I'm glad to be part of an organization that has policies and procedures way above the state's required standard of care. I'm thrilled that the organization I'm a part of has chosen to be a leader in "successful" adoptions to eliminate these types of returns.

And I won't apologize because a person felt "lectured" when I was actually providing viable solutions with a little education on how to keep his beloved pet alive and well even if it wasn't what he wanted to hear.

So the next time you read, hear or feel that a person in animal rescue is cranky, take a moment and remember this ONE incident, and cut them a break! Instead of writing some nasty comment about them, why not show a little empathy and gratefulness for what they endure and realize that their crankiness might be more out of frustration and helplessness than intolerance and anger.

Because I'm certain that those of us who help save lives are doing it because many of you reading this don't want to! Just offer your support, either through your time, your services, your donations....and help them keep their spirit alive. In doing so, you provide them with a little hope that all the work they do DOES make a difference and that the world is made up of more animal lovers than animal dumpers!

Be kind and just say thank you!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


It's a dark and stormy night....well Ok, it was a gray and dreary day, but either way it added to my mood today. I just wanted to stay in bed. But I couldn't.

After a long day of running around I ended it with a trip to the local Walmart. It's new here. It's a super store.

What that really means is that my exercise is now a walk from the parking lot to the front door rather than from my house to the park. Same mile distance.

And I am grateful, I guess, that our planet is going to be taken care of by the energy saving lights that leave you in the dark when you walk in.

But the staff is excited, friendly and although it's a much bigger store than the old one, I found myself spending twice as much time in it trying to find what I needed in the new layout. Of COURSE the seasonal stuff is between auto and gardening! Why didn't I think of that. Oh, but wait, where's the seasonal candy? Well duh! That's on the OPPOSITE side of this giant store in the main aisle by the food. If only I would have brought my "hero" cape to fly from one side to the other.

So now I'm exhausted and I've only checked off 3 of the items on my list. As I browse the valentine aisle, I find myself cart juggling with two other women, who are cart juggling back as we try and check out the goods. All is peaceful until...

Blood curdling screams ring out, stopping just about everyone in the store. The three of us look around, but do not see anything, but you can hear the patter of feet running. The two employees at the craft center, take a peek down an aisle, but quickly return to the counter. Then the screams happen again. They were not alarming but they did break the sound barrier. That's when we saw them.

Two young girls, maybe 10 or 12 running up and down the aisles, chasing each other, screaming.

I looked at the other two ladies, one rolled her eyes, the other sighed. Then I did it! Yep, I spoke first. I said, "I have no problem saying something if they come close enough." Surprisingly, one of the ladies said, "neither do I!".

As the screams continued intermittently throughout the store, fading in and out, we went about our shopping. As I turned the corner to the main aisle, slightly ahead of me was one of the shoppers I had encountered. The girls zoom around the corner and dart in front of her cart, then I see them suddenly stop, turn around and look at her for a brief moment, then calmly walk ahead quietly.

I picked up the pace and walked up next to her, and asked, "Did you say something to them?". She replied, "YES I DID!" I smiled and asked, "What did you say?"

She replied, "I said LADIES! Act your age, you are NOT 3 years old! Now move on and behave yourselves.!" As we both smiled, I replied with "good for you...and THANK YOU."

She let out a grin and said, "Well, it's OK for me to do that...everyone knows Grandma's are grumpy!"

While this is amusing, the tragedy was that I ran into them shortly after doing the same thing. I wasn't as kind, but I was polite. I discovered that they were hanging out at the store, until their parents got home from work.

I just can't help but wonder if one time I won't see their sweet young faces on the WALL of Walmart next to the other missing kids, rather than INSIDE it! *sigh*

PLEASE...parent your children!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Humane CARE or CAREless Reporting

A recent news article on has a community of pet owners questioning an animal shelters practices and the integrity of the reporter who wrote it.

Co-Director, Kristy Gardner of Cedar Bend Humane Society shared with KWWL reporter, Danielle Wagner CBHS' annual statistics declaring that 12,000 animals were "handled" by the shelter and AC officers yet, the article only produces the intake, disposition and euthanasia for 5,171 of them leaving 6,000+ animals unaccounted for by a city/county run shelter.

That leaves 6,829 or 57% of the animals "handled" by CBHS unaccounted for.

CBHS website says that they annually care for approximately 10,000 domestic animals, not 12,000 but also state that they help "homeless animals from the smallest gerbil to the largest injured mastiff". Yet, no small animals or any other are listed, only cats/dogs.

In the beginning of the article Ms. Wagner reports:
The total number of cats and dogs actually entering the shelter last year was 5,171.
At the end of the article Ms. Wagner misleads the reader to believe there were even more animals saved with a breakdown:
Some other numbers for you from 2012 at the Cedar Bend Humane Society:
  • 1,031 "cats/dogs" were were surrendered by pet owners (20%)
  • 2,283 "cats/dogs" were strays brought into the shelter (44%)
  • 1,181 "cats/dogs" were brought in by Animal Control (23%)
  • 676 "cats/dogs" came in from surrounding communities (13%)
If you add up the numbers above, you will notice they total the exact same amount as reported in the beginning of the article: 5,171 which could lead a reader to believe that 10,000+ animals were saved. But instead it's a repeat of what is already posted still leaving 6,829 animals unaccounted for and 981 MIA.

Next, the breakdown of the disposition of those cats/dogs that DID make it into the shelter was:
  • 1,319 "cats/dogs" were adopted (26%)
  • 842 "cats/dogs" were returned to owner (16%)
  • 162 "cats/dogs" euthanized by owner request. (3%)
  • 1,867 "cats/dogs" were killed by the shelter (36%) Their breakdown is:
    • 453 injury/illness (9%)
    • 208 aggression (4%)
    • 629 feral cats (12%)
    • 577 "other (11%)
But that only totals 4,190 not 5,171. That leaves 981 animals reported entering the shelter, but no stats on what happened to them? Killed? Adopted? Mising? Simple math would have brought forth questions for clarification but apparently Ms. Wagner didn't ask them or cared to print it.

The intake/disposition numbers of the animals that entered CBHS' are not all that is in question either. Their euthanasia numbers are equally as troubling. And again, they are only providing stats for "cats/dogs" not the entire 12,000 that they handled. Those are still MIA!

If we start by defining the difference between the term "euthanasia" and "kill" you'll see why I keep using the word "kill".
"Euthanasia" by definition is:...the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.
"Killing" or to "Kill" by definition is: to deprive of life; cause the death of; to put an end to; to destroy the vital or essential quality of
Based on these defintions I'm certain that at least 50% probably more dogs/cats alone were "killed" not "euthanized". Questions that demand answers are:
  • What illnesses/injuries determine an animal untreatable or unfixable?
  • If the animal has a treatable virus/manageable disease/or fixable injury what does the shelter to prior to tagging it for euthanasia?
  • Who is trained or who does the shelter use professionally who has the training to properly assess if a dog has aggression issues, which type they are and whether they can be rehabilitated.
  • What programs are in place to help feral Cats and if so what are they?
  • Does CBHS or is CBHS working on a program whereas feral cats can be brought in, and given time to assess properly or do they have or are trying to have offsite facilities/barns for them to go. Does CBHS have a network of rescues/barns/sanctuaries who can assist them when they have colonies of cats to care for? If so, what are they?
  • Is CBHS aware that some FeLV cats that test positive never have the disease? And that FIV+ is NOT a death sentence but a very manageable virus whereas cats can live long happy lives? What programs are in place or are being put in place to offer these types of animals and what education is CBHS offering to end the mass killing of cats in these situations?
  • How does CBHS determine the difference between a "feral" cat and a "unsocialized" or "scared stray" if they are not allowing adequate time to assess them?
  • What determines "other" for any animal to be killed?
Most likely if you can get answers to these questions, you will find that CBHS has no plans or programs in place now or in the near future to do better at saving lives.

Summary: Out of 5,171 cats/dogs that entered the shelter:
    • 42% cats/dogs saved.
    • 39% cats/dogs killed. 
    • 19% cats/dogs status is unknown (981)
which means that:
  • Less than HALF of what CBHS "handled" was brought into the shelter and given a chance to survive.
  • Less than HALF of the cats/dogs that were brought in survived in their care.
  • Over HALF were killed and 50% or more of those didn't need to be
  • Less than 1/4 of cats/dogs disposition that entered the shelter is missing or unreported.
So even if these numbers are wrong, Ms. Gardner's pride in their organization's efforts is disturbing. That an above average paid shelter director of a city/county funded organization can't even save 50% of the animals in their community? Don't get me wrong, running a shelter is hard work, but I wouldn't be proud of killing more than I saved.

CBHS' mission is to provide humane care for all animals under their protection and yet 39% of the animals that wound up in their care were murdered with little explanation as to why.

In addition the reporter appears to be defending CBHS with her statement of:
You might wonder why other shelters can be no-kill. Those shelters often pick and choose which animals they take in. Cedar Bend doesn't have that option. It takes every animal that is brought in.
I was bothered more by the careless reporting with this comment than the ignorance behind the statement by Ms. Wagner. Perhaps she should actually visit or contact a no-kill organization before reporting such biased comments. But more recent postings from this writer clearly shows she is simply a stenographer for CBHS rather than a journalist for An abuse of the pen and an insult to it's readers.

So let me provide some clarification about no-kills:

The truth is that no-kill organizations receive more calls, save more lives and are making a larger impact on the animal world than the kill shelters spewing out large numbers deceptively getting the public to think they actually saved the lives of that many. Reasons pet owners contact no kills are:
  • Many pet owners have no idea who to call should their pet go missing or lost and contact the first listing they google. In many cases that's a no kill shelter or rescue because they are sought out for help more than kill ones. 
  • Shelters operating hours are primarily during business hours Monday through Friday and closed on weekends when most people are working. Stray calls tend to double in the evening hours between 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm and heavier on the weekends when the working population is out and about to take notice of the animals in need on our public streets.
  • Owners wanting to relinquish their pets seek out no-kills not kill shelters.
  • They have had bad experiences with their local animal control or kill shelter.
  • They have learned the truth that many of these organizations are more about profit than they are the care of the animals and saving lives.
Which brings up another issue, which in reality has backfired on the traditional shelters own practices.
  • Kill shelters have open admission because they claim that owners will abandon their animals if they have no place to go. Not true. Most people seeking a place for their animal don't have the heart to abandon their animal uncared for and consider it cruel. They seek out no kills as a guilt free solution. In many cases when confronted with euthanize your own pet or work to save it, they opt to save it, when viable solutions are offered. Some of these include:
      • Behavior counseling and training classes for behavior issues
      • Rehoming assistance (pet remains in the home until a new one is found)
      • Shelter/Rescue Networking can provide multiple solutions for a pet owner to keep their pet or if absolutely necessary, safely find new home for it.
      • Assistance with food, medical care, exercise, temporary housing and more.
      • Pet Loss Counseling. When all else fails and no viable solution is welcomed by the pet owner, then assist the pet owner as they say goodbye. It's not a shelter or rescue's responsibility to take responsibility for your pet and kill it for you.
      • There are many more solutions and there are extenuating circumstances that do justify the surrender of a pet...but in most cases, responsible pet owners, if given the knowledge and assistance will keep their pet.
  • Kill shelters have created and enabled a mindset that "pets" are merchandise and disposable and have contributed to the overcrowding in all shelters and rescues through their own actions such as:
    • Irresponsible adoptions. Not screening applicants thoroughly and properly increasing return rates.
    • Unaltered animals being adopted allowing "mistakes" or "oops" litters to happen.
    • "Specials" on adoptions (i.e. 2 for 1 cats.) These create a sale type purchase rather than a lifetime commitment mindset.
    • Easy disposal options. Accepting returns without counseling or problem solving with the pet owner to help keep the pet in their home when at all possible decreasing  kennel spacing for those who really need them.
    • Pets as Prizes: Numerous shelters have held lotteries for animals that are popular or in high demand.
    • Same Day Adoptions. Emotionally based adoptions have a 50% chance of being returned 1-3 years later.
    • Minimal screening of applicants. Adopting a pet for a lifetime requires more than signing a bill of sale (adoption form). It requires preparing the adopter in all aspects of being a pet owner from financial, to long term care, to understanding the breed/species they are adopting.
Open admission shelters criticize no-kill operations calling them "limited intake institutions that force them to kill" with the effort to get people to think that they are swamped with animals and saving their precious lives. And yet, CBHS doesn't have any of the viable programs in place that in fact, have proven in kill and no kill organizations across this county to save lives.

Regardless of how you feel about the "kill vs. no kill" debate, the stats published for CBHS in this article should prompt questions and demand clarification and answers by everyone who owns a pet, because it could be your companion that ends up in the hands of caretakers like these with a 16% chance of it being returned to you (even chipped and tagged) and a greater chance (39%) of it being killed. More disturbing is there is a 57% chance that you will never know what happened to your pet and from the lack of  a response seeking clarification they don't have any plans to tell you either!

The reporting by Ms. Wagner is equally disturbing and careless. This type of yellow journalism should bring equal disgust to anyone who reads it and people should ask to find people who can report without passion and prejudice bringing forth accurate facts and not personal opinions.

I'm certain that CBHS and Ms. Wagner have put themselves on the radar with animal advocates and only the public can make institutions and their staff be held accountable for their actions. Add your comments to the article or write KWWL and ask them to provide clarification for those comments that don't add up. Contact the Board of Directors at Cedar Bend Humane Society and ask the questions posed in this article and see if you can receive some clarification for the 6,000+ animals unaccounted for.

ASK! DEMAND! DO SOMETHING...If you don't, then people like this will continue to participate and facilitate in the killing of millions of animals across this nation. And those who give every minute they can to save a life from these types of institutions will become discouraged and quit. And that is exactly what places like CBHS are hoping for.

To learn more about the no-kill movement and all the alternative ways there are to save a life check out these resources:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

From Classless to Classic.

I love attending Garage Sales. Not just because of the good "deals" you might find, but because of the diverse personalities you'll meet. In most cases, people are very personable and elated to get rid of their junk and make a little money doing it. And there is always interesting and good conversations, especially when I'm with Joe.

On the flip side, I loathe the coordination and execution of one.

Each year I coordinate and put on a fundraising sale, with the help of volunteers, to raise money for a charity I strongly believe in. We spend weeks collecting donations and hours sorting through the donated items separating the salable items from the not-so-salable ones. We size and price everything, pack it away until the big day arrives. And then we spend two long days setting up for the three day sale.

Besides the long hours of bending, standing, lifting, toting, aching feet and sore backs, we have the stress of the weather.Will we have nice weather? Will our tents weather any storms that are predicted? Anyone who has ever hosted a sale has experienced the hard work, stress and sleepless hours getting prepared to make a few dollars.

At this year's annual Save Our Tail Sale, a benefit for the Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary & Rescue, I personally experienced two situations that were so polar opposite it had my emotions all in a whirl.

The first one was by a young woman (mid to late 20's) with a very young child (2 or 3 female). She wanted a beanie baby that was part of a collection series donated to us with the request by the donor that we sale them as collector items, not toys. She did not want to pay the collector price tag, and wanted us to split up the set to purchase just one of the items. My efforts to offer her alternative choices, including other beanie babies less valuable were refused. When I tried to explain to her the promise I had made to this donor, she replied, "I understand, but it really is OK. Do you really think they will ever know?". I responded to her with "I'LL know. I'll know that I didn't honor her wish, and that's NOT OK with me!". I then apologized and said she could purchase the collection to get the one item she wanted, or select one of the other not so valuable ones for her daughter to play with.

But she wanted what she wanted, and stormed away, angrily, muttering derogatory comments about me while she returned to her vehicle. Some people may not understand why I made that choice, but I gave my word to the woman who had donated over 100 of these collectible items (obviously important to her), that we would treat them with the same amount of love and respect she had for them. Even though I'm not a personal collector of beanie babies, my conscience wouldn't allow me to make a "deal" with this woman just to provide her a toy for her two year old to "play" with. But knowing I kept my promise, did not make me feel any better about the nastiness I just endured by what appeared to be a very selfish and spoiled young woman. It would bother me for the rest of the day.

On the flipside, later that afternoon, a fragile woman, feeble in step, and with a cane that barely helped her balance, approached our sale. She was obviously moving slowly due to pain and when she entered the sale tents her eyes immediately fixated on the craft table. While she sorted through ribbon and crafting miscellaneous, her eyes lit up on the obvious prize of the day: the pre-stamped quilt blocks ready for the handy work of any person who loves to do needlework.

They were donated by a very dear friend of my mother's. Having polio as a child, this woman struggled and endured pain with every step she took. Working long hours as the manager of a laundromat proved to be physically challenging for her, but she found a way to find humor in her daily journey through life. She then was diagnosed with a brain tumor whereas she would be forced to retire, without benefits, and live the remainder of her life on disability in a chair. She would persevere for 5 more years through pain and suffering, whittling away the long hours in her chair doing needlework. She then donated her completed projects to what she would refer to as "the less fortunate." Last year she lost her fight and spirit and passed, but she left a legacy of kindness and perseverance that I will not forget. She also left some unfinished projects behind, which were then donated for the fundraising sale.

The buyer asked how much for the whole box of quilt block patterns as she loved to do this type of needlework herself. As a volunteer began adding up the contents of the box, this sweet lady shared with us all the things she loves to do and what she does with her finished projects. Listening to all the people she has paid it forward to, I knew right then that she would carry on the legacy of the original donor's generosity. But I wasn't prepared for her reaction to my offer.

I told the woman I would give her the entire box, including the ribbon that caught her eye in the first place, (valued at over $75) for $35. I explained my reasoning as being the mere fact that what she had just shared with me regarding her daily challenges is exactly the type of person the donor was. Having 2 hip surgeries, 2 knee replacements and surviving breast cancer that resulted in a total mastectomy, she still had the heart to "give" to others.

She burst into tears, gave both me and the volunteer a huge hug, and clapped her hands as if she were a child, free of pain. And then she grabbed my arm and said, "I promise you I'll do right by your friend. I'll carry on her legacy with these. I'll give them to those less fortunate then myself...I'll do you proud."

Humbly, I hugged her back and as the tears fell down my cheek, I completely forgot about the "what's her name" that came before her. And I felt much better about my decision and my judge of character! Within a few hours, I had met all types of people, from the classless, to the classiest! It was a classic case of what some call the "me" generation...and I'm glad I wasn't born in it, raised in it, and will continue to not be a part of it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Sad Tail...

Nothing can send me into a frenzy quicker than an animal in distress. Remaining 'calm' through a crisis is much easier said then done, and last evening I once again had the challenge laid before me with my little Skipper Doodle!

After a long day of meetings and stress, I found myself on the telephone finishing up the day's business with a friend. Business conversation turned into our casual chat, which was after 10:30 of course, because that's when we have the TIME to catch up. Luckily for both of us, we keep the same nightly schedule.

I sat on the couch in the living room, chatting away, with animals all around me. Nothing is more soothing then sleeping companions next to you, that's for sure. Little Skipper quickly joined the ranks of sleepy time pets and settled in on my lap. That's when the call of nature hit.

Excusing myself I fulfilled nature's request. As I turned and shut off the bathroom light, I had my back to the hinged side of the door and began to pull it shut when I heard an ear piercing MEOWCH! As I quickly turned around I saw fur flying and cats running everywhere. Immediately I thought a cat had leaped on another cat. We have screamers in the house...for those cat lovers, you know that a screamer is a cat that never really gets touched but vocalizes as if he's being murdered!

As I rounded the corner to see "who" was yelling I saw a cowered little kitty, with tail whipping side to side and big black eyes staring right at me. I knew immediately that Skipper was hurt...something got him...something happened!

I quickly started towards him, but he zipped by me into the living room. My approaching energy set him into an escape motion, rather than a comforting one. I knew immediately I needed to take a big breath, calm down  or I wasn't going to get a hold of this cat to see what was wrong. In the meantime, we have the other cats picking up on this increasing energy level, and I didn't want an 'attack' to happen. Skipper was clearly in pain, and in defense mode.

I came into the room and once again was faced with a little cat, big pupils, arched back and tail a whipping side to side. I took a deep breath, and calmly said his name. "Skipper Doodle...what HAPPENED?" Everything from that moment on changed. He ran towards me, and reached up on my pant leg like he always does to be picked up. I swept him up in my arms and rushed him up the stairs to the bathroom, where I knew he'd be isolated and we could get him calmed down to assess him.

That's where I noticed the big bloody spot on his tail. And I knew he was in pain and confused.

We rushed him to the emergency clinic, where it was quickly decided he would need about 3" of his tail amputated. With bone protruding, they gave us the sad news, and we watched our little Skipper Doodle be carried back to the surgery area. I was torn between waiting there and coming home. I couldn't be with him, I couldn't hold him, comfort him...I could only sit in a waiting room and wait...and wait...and wait.

At 4:00 am we received a call from the hospital that he had gone through the surgery well and was waking up. They would call us around 7:00 am and let us know when he would be released. I frantically got a room ready for him while Joe went to pick him up.

By 9:30 Skipper was back home conehead and all. When we let him out of the carrier he went ballistic, thrashing about with the cone on his head, trying to back out of it all the while backing into walls with of course his wounded tail. When I asked why it wasn't bandaged, Joe quickly responded, "It was..for about 3 minutes!".

We removed the cone and decided someone will just have to be with him 24 hours until the healing process is over. He's a very active boy, and not someone who understands calmness. This makes the rehabilitation even more challenging, but we are getting through it.

I think the most important lesson here is about the power of the energy that we possess, and how we choose to use it, can determine the outcome of an event. I realize that if I remain calm, and don't get excited he will remain calm as well. He's extremely playful, despite the pain he is obviously in, but we will keep in on his pain meds, and remain calm. And hope that there is truth in the saying, "cats heal quickly".

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Entering the World of Twitter...

Nothing can challenge you intellectually then to try and keep up with technology. I'm finding it more difficult these days to figure out how to communicate with the world. Perhaps that is why I never want to go anywhere!

I finally become functional in facebook, and they go and change it. The new "timeline" version is suppose to be more effecient for users. Really? Well I'm a user and am not seeing what everybody else sees I guess.

I see a webpage full of columns and text with scroll bars surrounding photos. I don't see any of my friends stuff, and when I do go searching for it, I find it's easier to just visit their wall. I'm a simple sort of person I guess. I didn't MIND scrolling over and over and over to see today's newsfeed! I guess the best thing to do is to admit, I need a facebook course. Online tutorials would be nice, wouldn't they?

So I figure what the hey, jump in and try. People will let you know when you mess up. So now I'm a tweeter. Well, not really, because I haven't tweeted anything yet. I REtweeted something. But that's different than tweeting...I think. Not sure. I know that I spent one hour just signing up for it instead of working like I should have been. I'll reprimand myself later for it.

So I'm an official tweeter. Yep, got an ID and everything. My tweeter is @LRBlakely. My user name is Linda B. Seemed short enough. It's really hard to come up with these things when you have a name like "Linda". My mother gave me her word that the name wasn't popular back in 1958. But I'm finding out that simply isn't true. Afterall, there IS a Linda convention (or used to be). And there's a "short" convention, too. I qualified for that as well. And back on track...

So, if you are a twitterer? well you'll have to follow me because I have no idea how to begin to follow you. I think I"m going to observe for awhile. The online help for hashtags and tweeting really wasn't that helpful. I have lot's of tweeting friends, perhaps they will decide to jump in and save the day so I can join the ranks of the twitterers around the world. Until then, I'll try and keep in touch via "blogging", another enigma to me.

Whatever happened to the good old telephone, or lunch with a friend?


Friday, November 4, 2011

A Story about the Abuse of Power....

I was recently asked why I have such a distaste for an animal welfare organization in Des Moines, Iowa. It was by a friend, so I know that they were truly seeking an understanding of the situation. They know me well, and know that I take pride in finding both sides of an issue.  I have proven time and time again I'm able to work side by side with those I may disagree as long as we are both focused on the same goals at the end.

I've been told more than once that I have a "passion" for animals. That may be true, but it's not my passion for animals that causes me to speak out for the injustice that is happening to animals inside the animal welfare industry. I don't really care who you support as long as you are doing it knowledgeably. Statistics have proven that marketing and media is a very powerful tool. Too many people believe what they hear without researching the facts. If they would ask more questions, I know they would find the same discrepancies I did, which pulled me towards my advocacy for animals.

Being involved in animal welfare I have learned a great deal, that I never would have known as a single pet owner. I am a responsible pet owner, spay and neuter my pets, regular vet visits, and when that hard day comes, I hold my companions to sleep. Even in the hardest of times, surrendering my companion was never an option. From that perspective I would and did feel that the Animal Rescue League of Iowa was a reputable organization that cares about the animals. I was wrong!

It wasn't until I entered the industry when I realized how deceptive this organization really is, and how manipulative they are at tugging at the heart strings of pet lovers everywhere, professing their love for animals, when in fact, the animal is the last on their list to care for. This is not to say that there are not caring individuals inside the ARL or animal lovers. But the overall philosophy and practices of the ARL are NOT animal loving or even first in animal welfare in my book. Here's just one incident I can share with you from first hand experience...I hope if for nothing else, it opens your eyes that what you 'see' may not be what is by the ARL, and that you research more carefully before offering your support.

One Sunday this pass July, Josh Colvin from the Animal Rescue League of Iowa's Animal Control left a message on RVAS' answering machine regarding a dog, Stuart, that had been picked up by AC. The dog was microchipped and apparently the chip traced back to Raccoon Valley (an adoption prior to my days with the organization). The registered own on the chip did not match the person who was trying to 'claim' the dog from the ARL Animal Control Building. Josh was calling for our PERMISSION to release the dog to this unknown owner. While I appreciated the call for permission...I did not understand the next part.

Despite our repeated efforts and numerous emails and letters to the ARL giving them our emergency number for such cases, especially when we are closed to business, I picked up the message on Monday. I immediately telephoned Josh and told him that we did not want the dog released to an "unknown" owner, and that we would reclaim the dog since it was property of RVAS (the microchip was implanted and owned by RVAS). Josh refused to give us the dog. Apparently he would release it to an unknown entity, but not to a state licensed rescue where the dog's adoption originated? That doesn't make sense.

When questioned about his decision, at first, he stumbled around throwing out the "rules" and "regulations" of the AC department being contracted with the City of Des Moines. When asked what has changed because a couple weeks prior we had no problem having a "cat" released from them that was picked up with a chip that traced back to RVAS. There was no answer. When reminded that we have a contractual agreement between Tom Colvin and RVAS that we would respect each other's adoption contracts and return animals, when proof is available, to each other's organizations. He refused. Despite the many attempts to gain an understanding from Josh what the "new" rules were that he was making up on the spot, he became frustrated and hung up on me with the simple statement, "I"m not releasing the dog to you.!"

Whether his temper tantrum was personal or professional, I must admit that I chuckled at the behavior, even though I was extremely annoyed with his lack of concern for the dogs welfare. This is a man with one of the longest titles in the animal welfare industry, that for some reason, had the need to be in "control" of a situation, he truly had no control over. A simple and quick telephone call to Tom Colvin, Executive Director and Josh's father, explaining the situation prompted immediate release of the dog to RVAS. We then made arrangements for pick up. Needless to say Josh was extremely rude and annoyed that he had been over-ridden.

The mere fact that the dog, remained in the kennel 24 hours longer than it needed to, was released with kennel cough, because it had been there at least 5 days prior to Josh even calling us, and that the AC could not provide any vaccination or medical history upon it's arrival proves that animal care was last on Josh Colvin's or the Animal Control Services priorities.

In this situation, and many others, the ARL has proven time and time again to be uncooperative to those organizations that may not show the type of support they would like. They also have proven they do not know the difference between a "vicious" dog and an 8 lb scared chihuahua, a feral cat or a scared stray, and refuse to work with people they simply "don't like", despite their so-called credentials in the industry. To not be able to put your personal feelings aside for someone for the sake of the animal is more disturbing to me and clearly proves they are not "about" the animals, but instead about personal choices. This type of behavior hardly fits in my book as "professional" or "caring".

The bottom line. The ARL is a family run business, that in fact, has done some great things for animals. But their lack of transparency with their intake numbers, their plea for constant funding without disclosing what it is used for, the staff's high paid salaries, and the proof that animals are not their priority is why I no longer support the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. If animals WERE their priority, then Stuart wouldn't have been residing on a cement kennel, with no water for over 4 hours, and released immediately to the shelter with vaccination records and in good condition, not with kennel cough.

Instead, Stuart's life became at risk, because of one man's inability to deal with someone he doesn't "like". If this is the life-saving decision making that the Animal Control Executive uses than no wonder so many animals are killed in the hands of the ARL's Executives.

And by the way, the contract with the city had nothing to do with the reason Josh held and kept the dog from RVAS. Josh Colvin is known for his inability to work with women and many other shelter and rescue workers have had similar problems working with him. All I can say is that I'm glad that Tom Colvin had the sense to let that dog be released. Stuart has since then found a new home. And the owner that wanted to claim it originally? She inherited the dog after it was abandoned by the original owner. She loved the dog enough to save it's life, and even more to let it go to the right home. Stuart has a new home, where he can run off that high energy, snuggles with his owners and lives happily ever after!

But no person or organization should have to fight this hard for a life, especially when they hold the same credentials as the ARL. There was no excuse for Josh's behavior other than his own perception that he's something bigger than he is. His actions show the consistent abuse of power and control that the ARL uses towards other rescues (and individuals) to place themselves in a more supreme position, all at the cost of an animal's life.

That is just one small reason why I personally am not a supporter of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. I'm not fearful to speak out about my experience with an organization that makes no effort to make things right or admit when they are wrong. They can not hurt me, nor am I fearful that they may try. The only power the ARL still has are those animals that wind up in their care. If they continue to make life decisions for animals based on what people they like, they will continue to prove my point...and many others...that their concern for animal welfare is, at best, non-existent.

They have had numerous chances to make things right with me and with RVAS. I'm still waiting for an apology from Josh Colvin not only for bring rude, hanging up on me, but for his deceptive reasoning behind the release of Stuart. But I'm not holding my breath to get one....

In the meantime, I will speak out about my personal experience with a man that was unable to handle a situation professionally, instead resorting to rude behavior to justify his lack of respect for me and RVAS. What class!