Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How can anyone be so cruel--The story of Jack, the Heeler mix

Dispatch from the Espanola Valley Humane Society, March 25, 2011

On Thursday, a local police officer brought a Heeler mix he called Jack into the Espanola Valley Humane Society. The sight horrified those present, and the stench permeated the entire shelter grounds. Jack’s right front leg had been mutilated, and the injury was clearly not new. According to the officer, the dog had been hit by a car about six weeks ago, and he was now worried maggots would begin eating away at the infected limb.

I met Jack yesterday (Friday), after he’d already undergone the amputation surgery. He lifted his head just a tad to sniff my fingers before resting it again on the blankets, still groggy from the sedation. The shelter behaviorist and I sat with him a few minutes, trying to be of some comfort, but knowing the only real relief would come with time — and the strongest legal painkillers.

The photos taken of Jack at his arrival will likely be used as evidence in the court case against his owners. (The images are difficult to look at, but one is available here— view at your discretion.) From the socket hangs what looks like a partially-eaten chicken drumstick. In places, no skin, no cartilage, no tendons. Just completely exposed bone with a knob at the bottom where his paw turns under and a round, deadened area at the top connecting the leg to what was left of his shoulder.

In New Mexico, animal neglect is a misdemeanor. Outright animal cruelty is considered a felony, but like in many states, rarely prosecuted. No question this dog endured extreme neglect, but he was also a victim of outright cruelty. How does a person live day in and day out, for six weeks, with an animal in obvious excruciating pain? I’m not being flippant when I say that ignoring the sight and stench would have had to have taken more effort than simply asking for help.

So far, the Espanola sheriff’s office sees it that way too. A case is being made to prosecute Jack’s owner (if and when they can establish that the man who surrendered him was indeed his owner – the officer has since changed his story) on felony charges. A clip from the local news is avaliable here.

Espanola is not a wealthy community, and the actual shelter building reflects the area’s depressed economic conditions: cement floor, blocky brick walls, makeshift signs, and ramshackle shelving. What it lacks in beauty and warmth is made up for by an utterly devoted staff. When Jack arrived, there was no question they’d do everything they could for him, despite knowing his medical care would cost thousands of dollars. This dog would not be failed by humans again.

As I write this story on Saturday morning, the official update from the shelter reads: “Jack is awake today but having a hard time. We are working on getting him through this rough spot.”

Please consider helping. Donations can be made online at (in honor of Jack), over the phone at (505) 753-8662 or mailed to Espanola Valley Humane Society, 108 Hamm Parkway, Espanola NM 87532 (just put "Jack" in the check memo).

Read previous Shelter Dispatch
Read all Shelter Dispatches
Jack, recovering Saturday morning
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Monday, March 28, 2011

Family dog is not harmless, new study says

When I first read this article, I was really angry.  The last thing we need is "new research" that helps people to distrust pets and react by taking them to the shelters to be destroyed.  After thinking about this article, I think I am guilty of overreacting, myself.  This article simply states that pets and children need to be supervised at all times. 

It is true that the most common victim of dog bites is a child.  That's a fact.  But who thinks about the mental health issues of that dog that had to bite a person to stay safe?  Anyway, with this new perspective, I decided to post this article here and see if you have anything to add or an opinion to share about it.

After reading this article, please click over to my Squidoo lense about dog aggression and read the article there that I wrote entitled, "Dog Bites -- The Ultimate in Dog Aggression".  Leave me a comment there or come back here and tell me what you think.

As much as we write about the wonderful attributes of dogs and cats, we are sometimes reminded they're not always angels. 

This isn't really news to me, but Fido needs to be supervised around young children, according to a new study.

The study, done by Vikram Durairaj of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, found that dogs usually target a child's face and eyes and most often it's a breed considered "good" with children, like a Labrador Retriever.

"People tend to think the family dog is harmless, but it's not," said Durairaj, associate professor of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. "We have seen facial fractures around the eye, eye lids torn off, injury to the tear drainage system and the eyeball itself."

The study says the likelihood of a child getting bitten in their lifetime is around 50 % with 80 % of those bites involving the head and neck. If a dog bites once, it's likely to bite again with the second attack often more brutal than the first.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year and 885,000 require medical attention. The total cost is estimated at up to $250 million.

The study looked at 537 children treated for facial dog bites at The Children's Hospital on the University of Colorado's...[read more]

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Police use deadly force on dog; Owner wonders why

This story was posted on my Facebook and I really felt it needs to get as much exposure as possible, so I am posting it here also.  It is from the WLOX channel 13 out of Gulfport, MS.

This story is so sad.  I know there is probably more to this, but the fact is that this officer discharged her weapon in a residential area and a dog died.  There really is no excuse.  What if that dog was yours?  How would you react?  This man took his mortally injured dog to the vet for care and ended up euthanizing her.  Can you imagine his pain and anger?  I certainly can.

Please read the comments below this article on the original site.  There are some interesting facts there. 
Posted: Mar 22, 2011 3:26 PM CDT Updated: Mar 22, 2011 4:19 PM CDT

MelmoSamuel Lovato Samuel Lovato                         Melmo           
Click image to enlarge
By Doug Walker - bio | email
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Samuel Lovato is still in shock as he recalls the terrible moment when he lost his beloved pet, Melmo, in an instant.
Police were called to a possible break-in at the house next door in the Brentwood subdivision.
"I'm coming out of the house, I just got out of the shower, to go get my dog and I'm opening my door and I see a female cop. And she shot between five and six rounds at my dog," Lovato remembered. "I looked at her and I was shocked. And I said, 'I can't believe you just shot my dog,' and I proceeded to go back in the house."
Melmo was a big dog, more than 120 pounds, but the animal was on a chain in Lovato's back yard. Lovato questioned the use of deadly force.
"The officer was standing approximately right about here, about 30 feet away from where the chain ends."
After the shooting, the dog's obviously distraught owner brought the animal for treatment at the Gulfport Veterinary Hospital, but it was too late. The wounds were too severe and the animal could not be saved.
Dr. Jerry Spears is the veterinarian who treated Melmo.
"From the wounds that I examined, it looks like it had a spinal injury which paralyzed him from the hind legs," Dr. Spears said. "Profuse bleeding from his mouth, plus some internal injuries, both of which led us to euthanize the animal."
Police are looking into the incident, according to Lt. Craig Petersen with the Gulfport Police Department.
"First, we need to conduct our internal investigation," Lt. Petersen said.  "I feel really bad for the gentleman and the loss of his dog, but we'll conduct the internal investigation."
He also said that officers have to make life and death decisions in an instant, including assessing threats from animals.
"The officer has discretion in how to protect themselves in these situations, totally up to the officer based on the facts and circumstances of that particular case."
But this case has left a hole in Lovato's heart that won't heal anytime soon.
"I've had her for 11 years. Eleven years. She was a great dog, a good dog and she was just in her yard doing her job and just being a dog."
There is no timetable for when the investigation will be completed.  The officer involved in the shooting remains on active duty.
Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Here's an update on the cats.

 Here's KT.

Here's Ditto.
The two older black cats are doing well.  Both are fattening up with all the food I put out.  It helps them both to be fixed so their energy does not go into fighting and mating behaviours. 

Then there are the four kittens left on my doorstep by their mama cat.  I cannot seem to convince them that they do not belong here.  Every night they are sitting outside my door waiting for dinner.  They run the two bigger cats off if they can.  They sleep in my flower beds and flower pots and frequently turn them over.                                                                                                   
Although I don't want to keep them, I have named the two black and white kittens.  They are Tulip and Petunia because they are my flower garden this year.  The other two are all black and they hang back and stay at the edge of the activity.

Ditto and KT have started staying somewhere else when the kittens are outside my door.  Two of these kittens are getting brave enough to let me touch them, so they will soon be going to the vet to get fixed.  The other two I will have to trap, I think.  But if I can trap them, they too will be fixed.  I want no more babies at my door.  It worries me that these kittens and the cats live out in the parking lot of a busy apartment complex, but so far they seem to have learned how to avoid cars and trucks.

I'll try to remember to post on these cats sporadically.  Since, now, they seem to be a fixture in my life and in the family.
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Monday, March 21, 2011

Forget the Treadmill. Get a Dog.

This is an article from the New York Times, written by my favorite author, Tara Parker-Pope.  This article shows the health benefits of having a pet in your life.  I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did.  It's always nice to be validated, especially in such an authority place like the New York Times!


<b> UNLEASHED </b> Among dog owners who went for regular walks, 60 percent met federal criteria for regular moderate or vigorous exercise, a new study says. 
Kevin Moloney for The New York Times UNLEASHED Among dog owners who went for regular walks, 60 percent met federal criteria for regular moderate or vigorous exercise, a new study says.

If you’re looking for the latest in home exercise equipment, you may want to consider something with four legs and a wagging tail.
Several studies now show that dogs can be powerful motivators to get people moving. Not only are dog owners more likely to take regular walks, but new research shows that dog walkers are more active over all than people who don’t have dogs.
One study even found that older people are more likely to take regular walks if the walking companion is canine rather than human.
“You need to walk, and so does your dog,” said Rebecca A. Johnson, director of the human-animal interaction research center at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. “It’s good for both ends of the leash.”
Just last week, researchers from Michigan State University reported that among dog owners who took their pets for regular walks, 60 percent met federal criteria for regular moderate or vigorous exercise. Nearly half of dog walkers exercised an average of 30 minutes a day at least five days a week. By comparison, only about a third of those without dogs got that much regular exercise.
The researchers tracked the exercise habits of 5,900 people in Michigan, including 2,170 who owned dogs. They found that about two-thirds of dog owners took their pets for regular walks, defined as lasting at least 10 minutes.
Unlike other studies of dog ownership and walking, this one also tracked other forms of exercise, seeking to answer what the lead author, Mathew Reeves, called an obvious question: whether dog walking “adds significantly to the amount of exercise you do, or is it simply that it replaces exercise you would have done otherwise?”
The answers were encouraging, said Dr. Reeves, an associate professor of epidemiology at Michigan State. The dog walkers had higher overall levels of both moderate and vigorous physical activity than the other subjects, and they were more likely to take part in other leisure-time physical activities like sports and gardening. On average, they exercised about 30 minutes a week more than people who didn’t have dogs.
Does Your Pet Keep You Healthy?
Do you dance with your cat? Play Frisbee with your dog? Sing with your bird? Send us your videos showing how your pets keep you healthy.
Dr. Reeves, who owns two Labrador mixes named Cadbury and Bella, said he was not surprised.
“There is exercise that gets done in this household that wouldn’t get done otherwise,” he said. “Our dogs demand that you take them out at 10 o’clock at night, when it’s the last thing you feel like doing. They’re not going to leave you alone until they get their walk in.”
But owning a dog didn’t guarantee physical activity. Some owners in the study did not walk their dogs, and they posted far less overall exercise than dog walkers or people who didn’t have a dog.
Dog walking was highest among the young and educated, with 18-to-24-year-old owners twice as likely to walk the dog as those over 65, and college graduates more than twice as likely as those with less education. Younger dogs were more likely to be walked than older dogs; and larger dogs (45 pounds or more) were taken for longer walks than smaller dogs.
The researchers asked owners who didn’t walk their pets to explain why. About 40 percent said their dogs ran free in a yard, so they didn’t need walks; 11 percent hired dog walkers.
Nine percent said they didn’t have time to walk their dogs, while another 9 percent said their dogs were too ill behaved to take on a walk. Age of the dog or dog owner also had an effect: 9 percent said the dog was too old to go for walks, while 8 percent said the owner was too old.
“There is still a lot more dog walking that could be done among dog owners,” Dr. Reeves said.
And the question remains whether owning a dog encourages regular activity or whether active, healthy people are simply more likely to acquire dogs as walking companions.
A 2008 study in Western Australia addressed the question when it followed 773 adults who didn’t have dogs. After a year, 92 people, or 12 percent of the group, had acquired a dog. Getting a dog increased average walking by about 30 minutes a week, compared with those who didn’t own dogs.
But on closer analysis, the new dog owners had been laggards before getting a dog, walking about 24 percent less than other people without dogs.
The researchers found that one of the motivations for getting a dog was a desire to get more exercise. Before getting a dog, the new dog owners had clocked about 89 minutes of weekly walking, but dog ownership boosted that number to 130 minutes a week.
A study of 41,500 California residents also looked at walking among dog and cat owners as well as those who didn’t have pets. Dog owners were about 60 percent more likely to walk for leisure than people who owned a cat or no pet at all. That translated to an extra 19 minutes a week of walking compared with people without dogs.
A study last year from the University of Missouri showed that for getting exercise, dogs are better walking companions than humans. In a 12-week study of 54 older adults at an assisted-living home, some people selected a friend or spouse as a walking companion, while others took a bus daily to a local animal shelter, where they were assigned a dog to walk.
To the surprise of the researchers, the dog walkers showed a much greater improvement in fitness. Walking speed among the dog walkers increased by 28 percent, compared with just 4 percent among the human walkers.
Dr. Johnson, the study’s lead author, said that human walkers often complained about the heat and talked each other out of exercise, but that people who were paired with dogs didn’t make those excuses.
“They help themselves by helping the dog,” said Dr. Johnson, co-author of the new book “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound,” to be published in May by Purdue University Press. “If we’re committed to a dog, it enables us to commit to physical activity ourselves.”

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Satchmo had his follow-up wellness check-up today!

Today, I took the boy in to see his vet for a check-up.  Since the surgery, he has been getting stronger and acting more like himself every day and today we got to see how his liver function tests were doing.

The vet was pretty happy that his Alk Phos had dropped from 7000 to only 1000 (normal high is 200)
and she was pleased that he had gained 2lbs. since surgery.  Overall, he is eating well, drinking plenty and his bathroom habits are unchanged.

He is less crabby, but he still lets you know when he doesn't like what you are doing!  Anyway, I was very happy to see that liver level dropping.  We did find out that he has back problems called spondylosis (which is just a build up of calcium and bone in the area)  which is causing him some pain, so he gets to remain on his pain meds for now.

All in all, it was a great visit and my boy is having a great St. Patrick's Day.  He even gave his vet a shamrock pin to wear on her navy blue scrubs!
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Service dogs graduate from prison

Here's a really nice article about how dogs are helping with our prison population.  It seems that even when the humans think they are doing the work, the dogs are really the ones that give assistance to the humans.

I found this on the Killeen Daily Herald, out of Killeen, TX.  I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did.

By Colleen Flaherty
Killeen Daily Herald


GATESVILLE — Rhonda Lee spent seven years in the Crain Unit women's correctional facility for a drug-related offense. Her additional two-year parole ended Tuesday.

She celebrated her "freedom day" by returning to the Gatesville correctional complex in a much different role from that in which she'd arrived.

Lee is now employed full-time by the nonprofit, Rockwall-based organization Patriot Paws. She visited the maximum-security Lane Murray Unit to hand over Rockxi, the spunky black Lab service dog she's been training, to her new owner during a canine graduation ceremony.

"It gave me a chance to give back," Lee said following the celebration, which included a trick demonstration by current trainee dogs and their incarcerated trainers. "It gave me the confidence that I can do anything."

Lee began training service canines during her own incarceration. Patriot Paws dogs live 24 hours every day for a year or more with their trainers in their cells, with the exception of regular outings to avoid institutionalization. Once the dogs are assessed as ready for service, they are paired with a disabled veteran.

The dogs make the matches, Patriot Paws owner and chief executive Lori Stevens said.

"One of the keys is that we let the dogs pick the veterans," she said, "two to three days after meeting with them. We watch."

Three dogs graduated from Patriot Paws training during Tuesday's ceremony. Two disabled veterans and one disabled civilian with a chronic illness, an exception to the program's policy, traveled to Gatesville one week prior to meet and begin training with the dogs they'll take home today.

Over the course of that week, for example, Stevens said, a yellow Labrador retriever named Maverick "had the patience and curiosity to work with Juan."

Staff Sgt. Juan Amaris, currently assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, lost both of his hands and suffered severe burns during a truck explosion in Iraq in 2006.

Amaris, 29, applied for a dog a little more than a year ago and hopes that Maverick will help him regain some of his independence.

"If I drop something, I'm not going to have to rely on someone to pick it up," he said, adding that his prosthetics aren't particularly agile.

Patriot Paws dogs are trained to get help during emergencies; recognize and avert symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder; pick up and retrieve items; open and close doors; pull wheelchairs; help with chores, such as laundry; and take off shoes and shocks.

Maverick comes with one additional benefit, Amaris said. His kids, ages 6 and 11, can't wait for a dog.

LaQuita Davis, 27, can relate, she said. She's been incarcerated at Lane Murray since she was 16 for conspiracy to commit capital murder and passed a rigid application and interview process to become a trainer just six months ago.

Being with the dogs gives her something to focus on, she said, and she's planning to work as a trainer upon her eventual parole.

"This is something I want to do."

About 20 inmates are currently training puppies and dogs in Gatesville.

The women involved in the program have been successful due to hard work, Lane Murray head warden Melodye Nelson said.

Eleven women have been paroled since Patriot Paws began in 2006. Ten are working in dog-related fields, and the recidivism rate is zero, according to information from the organization.

The program is 100 percent publicly funded and looking for donations and volunteers, Stevens said.

"Freedom's not free," she said, "and we have to have people who do what they do."

For more information on Patriot Paws, go to or call (972) 772-3282.

Contact Colleen Flaherty at or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Would you like to help the dogs and cats of Japan?

Here is a link that you can use to send help to the abandoned, hurt, and lost pets on the island of Japan.  The pets will be the last to receive any help, if they ever do.  I understand that there are thousands of people and children in Japan in great need, but there are many helpless and frightened animals also.  I am giving to both groups and hope you will use this link to help the pets.  The Red Cross is a great place to give for the humans in need.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More about how our pets can help in Japan

 Here is an excerpt of an email I received and feel that I should pass along to you.  Our wonderful dogs can be of service to us during and after natural disasters.  Here is only one group that utilize dogs natural abilities to help find victims of this horrible disaster. 


By: : Janet Reineck, Search Dog Foundation Development Director


Six Canine Disaster Search Teams trained by the National Disaster
Search Dog Foundation (SDF) have arrived in Japan and will soon
be traveling to the devastated region where the skills of the
canines are critically needed to use find people still trapped in
the rubble.

The teams have their gear ready and are waiting to leave the
Misawa Air Base and head to Ofunato City on the North East coast
of Japan where they will be conducting reconnaissance and primary
searches. The group is divided into the RED team (Jasmine &
Cadillac, Eric & Riley, Gary & Baxter), and the BLUE team
(Bill & Hunter, Linda & Joe, Ron & Pearl).

The teams were called into action on Friday by USAID as part of
Los Angeles County Task Force 2. They traveled on a chartered
plane out of LAX together with Virginia Task Force 1 (America’s
other international Task Force). Some 75 tons of rescue equipment
and supplies for each Task Force were sent into the disaster zone
via military transport.

The teams flew by way of Alaska where the plane touched down to
re-fuel. An airport van shuttled the dogs and their handlers to
the snow so they could stretch their legs (and paws!). They
landed at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan on Saturday at
10:30pm PST. The group of 12 dogs did well on the flight over and
bedded down with handlers to rest after their long journey.

The job of the dogs is to find live victims, conscious or
unconscious, in the debris left by the earthquake and Tsunami.
All rescue personnel will be awaiting a “Bark Alert” from the
dogs, letting them know there is someone in need of rescue.
Everything the teams have learned during their intensive training
will be put to use in saving lives.

Since SDF’s founding in 1996, their teams have been part of 75
deployments—including the World Trade Center attacks, Hurricane
Katrina, and the Haiti disaster, where they helped bring 12
people to safety. Each time the teams deploy they come back with
crucial lessons that are shared with all Search Teams to sharpen
training techniques and tactics and enhance emergency response in
our country…and abroad.

SDF will train 21 new teams in 2011 at a cost of $15,000 per team
to be ready for the next local, national or international
disaster – at no cost to taxpayers or the government.

For more information about the Search Teams or to make a donation
to turn rescued dogs into rescuers, help form our new 2011 teams,
and provide the highest level training to our existing teams:
visit, and follow the teams on
Facebook and Twitter.
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Monday, March 14, 2011

The News in Japan gets worse and worse and the animals are left behind

As  someone who has lived near Japan before, I am very concerned for the well being and safety of all the dogs and cats on that island.  This culture does not provide any care for the animals that are now displaced by natural disaster.  There will be many lost animals who will starve to death or be killed by other starving pets.  This is not acceptable.  Please read this article and then reach out to help these poor beings.
You can read this article and others like it on Dogtime.
this is a featured post by a Dogtime blogger
Sherri, a friend of a friend of mine, lives in Japan and has volunteered for four years with ARK (Animal Refuge Kansai). Sherri reports that while her community has largely been spared fatalities due to the earthquake and tsunami, she's only about a six hour drive from major devastation.

Rescuers are attempting to gain access to some of the hardest hit areas, and ARK is currently preparing makeshift shelters to accommodate what is expected to be a massive influx of traumatized, injured, hungry and thirsty dogs and cats. (After the 1995 Kobe earthquake, ARK took in 600 animals.)

Animal welfare is virtually non-existent in Japan, according to Sherri, so the efforts of individual rescue groups and shelters make all the difference for animals in times of national catastrophes. I encourage you to check out the ARK website and help if you can.
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