Transparency is a Good Thing

I’m all for government transparency and accountability. That’s why I was glad to come across this bit from Best Friends:

Animal welfare advocates around the country shouted a collective “hallelujah!” last month when the unbelievable finally happened: USDA inspection reports were put online for all to see. Instant access.

It should have been the case all along, but previously, the USDA made the process of viewing breeders’ inspection reports so convoluted and time consuming that it was difficult for those in the know to get them, much less a curious potential puppy or kitten purchaser.

Reputable pet breeders have nothing to hide when it comes to compliance with the law. Now potential buyers can look at USDA inspection records with just a few clicks. And they can see what their tax dollars are paying for which is an added plus.

Be Seeing You MJ

Before we get too deeply mired in the legal fallout surrounding Michael Jackson’s death, I just wanted to say a few things:


Paws Down and Paws Up

One of my pet peeves is the nonsense about never feeding table scraps to pets:

Giving your pet table scraps isn’t recommended for a couple of reasons. Pets like people food better than dog or cat food (who wouldn’t?), but human food is made for a humans dietary needs.

First the admission that no pet in his right mind wouldn’t enjoy eating real food that humans eat more than a processed pet food product. Followed by the stunning conclusion that human food is made for humans. To my mind, food is food. Granted there are some foods consumed by certain species which would be inappropriate for other species (I’m thinking grasses for example). But regarding humans and their domesticated pets, food is food. If you watch TV pet food commercials or look at the packaging on some pet food products, you’ll notice the images featured are those of beef, carrots, oats, etc. In other words, “human” food. And if you read the ingredient list on a pet food product, you’ll find a list of “human” foods.

Furthermore, “human food” is not “made” – unless you are referring to highly processed foods. Beef that humans eat is simply cuts of meat from cows. Carrots are grown in gardens and oats grow in fields (often steam rolled after harvesting for human consumption). My point being that “human food” is basically edible stuff humans eat – and share with their domesticated pets. Which makes it just “food” then, doesn’t it?

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Unrelated: I read a nice article this morning that I could relate to and thought many of you might enjoy too:

How to not feel bad about once being a bad dog owner




Not ALL of the Good Ones are Taken

This precious 10 year old, 3 legged Pibble is currently accepting applications from prospective owners at Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta GA. My friend Melissa at the shelter says:

Good with people, kids and most dogs. Not sure about cats. In as a stray. We named her Vera. Free to GA rescues with AG paperwork. $85 to adopt. Will update all shots, chip, and heartworm test.

Vera’s personal secretary can be reached at 404 794 0358.

Austin, TX Shelter: Babeh Kittehs R Skeery

Town Lake Animal Center (TLAC) in Austin, TX is a kill shelter:

Because the shelter accepts accept all animals, regardless of health or behavior, and because there is a significant problem of pet overpopulation in our community, the shelter does euthanize animals that have no other humane option for lifetime care.

*bristles*

There is no pet overpopulation problem in this country. There are a number of homeless pet related problems, mainly the killing of healthy/treatable pets by shelters, but pet overpopulation is a myth, debunked to my satisfaction by Nathan Winograd.

But I want to examine this bit: “…the shelter does euthanize animals that have no other humane option for lifetime care”. “Euthanasia” is a means to end suffering of a medically hopeless animal, otherwise it’s “killing”. While there is much controversy surrounding the debate on whether pets deemed “aggressive” should be killed, my view is this: every adult pet deserves at least a chance at life. (If we can’t all agree on that, what the hell are you doing advocating for pets?) And every puppy or kitten deserves a guaranteed spot on the adoption floor because there is no way anyone will ever convince me that an 8 week old pet is a danger to society.

If a pet possibly has aggression issues, get him evaluated by a qualified behaviorist and locate a trainer willing to work with the shelter/rescue/foster owner. IOW, give that pet a chance, at the very least. Maybe he’s not really aggressive after all. Maybe he would develop nicely in a structured home environment. Maybe he could thrive in a home without other male dogs. There are lotsa maybes. But not if we kill every animal deemed “aggressive” by someone in a shelter.

Back to TLAC. The shelter director has a sad history of refusing to work with Winograd towards no kill, making my friend Christie’s head explode, and killing pets while plenty of cages sit empty in the shelter. Winograd sums it up:

In Austin, by contrast, one person—the director of animal control—is saying “No” to foster care programs, “No” to offsite adoptions, “No” to TNR for feral cats, “No” to programs that would save animals, choosing instead to kill them. And in fact, since the director of animal control was hired, she has done that with ruthless efficiency: 97,000 animals have been put to death under her watch. That’s over 12,000 each year, 1,000 each month, 34 each day, 1 every 12 minutes the shelter has been open to the public.

A Day in the Death: I came across this page detailing TLAC’s disposition of pets for May 30, 2009: 11 pets adopted, 48 killed. Breakdown on the 48:

  • 6 kittens weighing less than 1 pound each were killed because they were “0-4 weeks” old
  • 3 pets were “sick/inj” (presumably “injured”)
  • 6 pets were “suffering” (including a 1.5 pound kitten)
  • 16 pets were “no pick” (including 4 kittens ranging in weight from .5 pounds to 3.75 pounds)
  • 2 dogs were “agg policy” (presumably “aggression” issues)
  • 15 cats were also “agg policy” (2 have no weights given and the remaining 13 kittens weighed 1-2 pounds)

A few thoughts: If you are running a shelter with an official “reason to kill” that says “0-4 weeks” of age, you need a foster care program and community outreach. Being born a homeless pet should not be an automatic death sentence at anyplace calling itself a shelter. Regarding the “aggression policy” – who is doing the evaluating? Because whoever that is needs to be immediately fired and prevented from ever working in animal sheltering again. 13 kittens weighing a pound or two apiece were all determined to be hopelessly aggressive in one day?! Ever hear of this thing called feeding? How about petting? I bet if you implement these new fangled methods into your kitten care program, you’ll find most kittens respond positively to them. At least enough so they don’t have to be, you know, KILLED. Forgive me if I’m skeptical on the other 2 cats (with no weights given) and 2 dogs who were killed for the same reason on this day.

Today, Hope: Winograd posts on his blog today:

A unanimous decision of a citizens’ advisory committee in Austin, TX has demanded that the shelter stop killing animals despite empty cages, model itself after successful programs in places like Reno, NV, implement the programs and services of the No Kill Equation, and even consider privatizing the shelter.

Town Lake Animal Control’s director tried to derail the vote, but was outnumbered by animal lovers on the Committee.

I hope, I hope, I hope.

Corrected: AL Man Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty

Correction: I misunderstood the article referenced in the post (see below quote) – and subsequently mistitled the original post. The plea was for animal cruelty and resisting arrest, not dogfighting.

Court testimony in the preliminary hearing was that when a dog was purchased undercover Alsabrook bragged on its fighting potential.

The post title has been corrected from “AL Man Pleads Guilty to Dogfighting” to “AL Man Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty”. For additional background on the case, click here.

Original post:

Initial reports on this case indicated two men charged and 45 dogs seized. Today, there is an update on one of the men and some of the dogs:

William Alsabrook pleaded guilty Tuesday to five counts of cruelty to animals and one count of resisting arrest in a case involving a multi-agency investigation of his Newell dog breeding operation.

Mr. Alsabrook got 30 days community service, some fines, and surrendered his 25 dogs along with everything else seized in the raid (except his guns – he gets those back):

The fate of the dogs in the custody of HSUS is unknown but so far no organization or sanctuary that could house and possibly rehabilitate them has stepped up.

District Judge Patrick Whaley has not yet ruled on how they will be disposed of eventually.

The dogs are believed to have come from dog fighting breeding lines, which greatly affects the possibility of their adoption. Also, they must be kept out of the hands of people who may abuse them.

OK peeps, here are my demands expectations:

  • The HSUS had better get their reps into that hearing and plead for the dogs to get fair evaluations by qualified behaviorists and/or rescues with a proven history of rehabbing bust dogs. And when I say “plead”, I mean that those reps need to do whatever it takes, just like they did in the Wilkes Co case, to influence the judge. The dogs deserve fair evaluations with due consideration given to the fact that they’ve been held in (presumably) a shelter environment.
  • The HSUS needs to reach out to the Pitbull rescue community (they supposedly know all the “major stakeholders”, remember?) in order to spread the word that the dogs are in need of rescue. No waiting for a rescue to “step up” – rescues are often overwhelmed and may not even know about this group of dogs in need. HSUS has the responsibility to put the word out.

This is the first significant test of the new HSUS bust dog policy (still waiting to read details on that). I’ll be monitoring developments in the case.

Homemade Pet Food – Getting Started

What’s the difference between paying a consultant (veterinary or otherwise) for a recipe to feed your dogs real food and learnin’ it up yourself? The former leaves your wallet lighter while the latter makes your brain heavier.

Here’s my view: If you are the type of owner who doesn’t feel comfortable making decisions regarding the care of your pets and you can afford to pay for a professional consultation to tell you how to prepare food – go for it. It will give you the peace of mind you require and allow you to confidently pursue a healthy diet plan for your pets. Bear in mind that there are all sorts of people hanging shingles along the information superhighway offering to take your money in exchange for nutritional advice. If I was looking for a consultant, I wouldn’t go to anyone who hasn’t had advanced training in pet nutrition. For example, my regular Vet, whom I trust to perform surgery on my pets, doesn’t claim to be a nutrition expert nor do I regard her as such.

In my experience, learning proper pet nutrition is a readily achievable task for pet owners. For those who are so inclined, books on pet nutrition are available at the library and there are many websites offering advice as well. The usual caveats apply – some info out there is worse than useless so you’ll need to use your judgment. If you run into the same principles repeated by multiple trusted sources, you can probably rely on that info. Stuff I tend to dismiss: Your dog will die if you don’t follow diet plan X, your dog will suffer ill health effects if you don’t buy supplement Y, or any other extreme sounding/snake oil type warnings.

The answer to many of the main concerns about feeding home prepared pet food is variety. By feeding a variety of foods and recipes over time, you don’t have to worry about feeding too much or too little of specific nutrients. You can also take advantage of buying seasonal foods available at lower prices.

The best gauge for how your feeding plan is going is the health of your pets. If they look good and seem to feel good, you are probably doing a fine job. At my house, I noticed a significant improvement in the overall health of the dogs after switching from a kibble based diet to one based on fresh food. Not that I thought they were “unhealthy” before, rather I just thought it was normal to be at the Vet’s office regularly for ailments such as ear infections, skin problems, etc. Our current “normal” is to visit the Vet’s office rarely and primarily for routine care. The only thing that has changed is how I feed.

All that said, research for yourself in order to make an informed decision that you feel comfortable with regarding what to feed your pets. Don’t take the recommendations of one person – even if they charge for their advice. Utilize multiple resources to gather info and see what might work for your pet’s specific needs and your budget. Knowledge is power!

If anyone has a home prepared pet food recipe they like, please share in the comments. I never get tired of reading about how people feed their pets.

Related Reading:

Don’t Forget the Calcium, Mom

Juliette de Bairacli Levy’s Natural Rearing Diet for Dogs


AAFCO – The Pet Food Industry Fails to Regulate Itself

Treats on the Internets

While I’ve been mostly away from pet related news this past week, here’s some of what I’ve missed:

Nutro still sux

A mother and adult son left 6 dogs in a vehicle in SC while they went into an unemployment office. All the dogs died, the pair were sentenced to 96 hours community service, and if the mother returns to the city of Hoquiam, WA, she will be arrested for outstanding animal abuse warrants there. Reader’s Digest version: Six dogs suffered a horrible death at the hands of a serial pet abuser and a light slap on the wrist was administered. “Justice” served.

Another miscarriage of justice: Tulare Co, CA animal shelter staff had a money making scheme going on the side where they killed shelter pets and sold the remains to research facilities. Of the 3 men arrested and charged in the scheme, none were convicted of animal cruelty. More details and action item here.

25 year old NC man stole 2 Pitbulls and shot one to death

TX school district hassles 14 year old girl over her seizure alert dog

Franklin, TN: Temporary Home of SCRAPPY


1. This sounds like a pretty good dog to have around the house.
2. I can not resist any dog named “Scrappy”.

From e-mail:

SCRAPPY is a precious Lab/Pit mix who is eight months old. He has
been at Williamson County Animal Control since April 29. I am hoping
to find a rescue for him.

Scrappy is such a fun dog! He is a very energetic, happy-go-lucky
puppy! Scrappy runs right up to the front of the kennel to greet you,
tail wagging and entire back end gyrating with joy. He loves to go
for walks and enthusiastically takes you along! He is an affectionate
puppy who will stand up on his back legs to be hugged, and also gives
plenty of puppy kisses. He loves toys and treats!

Scrappy’s happiest times are playing in the dog park. I took the
pictures listed below a few hours ago. As you can see, he is having a
fine time playing with the toys!

Scrappy is a bright pup who should be easy to train. He would be a
great running buddy. Sadly, he gets overlooked in favor of younger
puppies.

If anyone can rescue Scrappy, HIS PULL FEE WILL BE PAID!

He is current on worming, distemper/parvo and Bordatella vaccinations,
plus worming. Scrappy is heartworm negative. Prior to leaving Animal
Control, he will be neutered, microchipped and given a rabies
vaccination.

I know it is a long shot, but maybe a rescue miracle can happen for
Scrappy. PLEASE CROSSPOST ON SCRAPPY’S BEHALF. If anyone can help,
please contact me at kmenzyk@yahoo.com.

Scrappy’s page on Petfinder.

"Why, she wouldn’t even harm a fly…"

President Obama swatted a fly. Always at hand for a chance at free publicity, PETA has condemned the swattage. CNN and a great many other MSM outlets have carried the PETA response but I have yet to see a single one mention the bitter irony that PETA actually kills – not euthanizeskills thousands of homeless pets every year without making a single effort to find them homes. PETA doesn’t even have a “shelter”.* They just take in homeless pets and kill them. Immediately. From intake to freezer in 60 seconds flat. So forgive me MSM but you’ll need to do a leetle better than simply running with the bullshit PETA hands you. Vetting, anyone?

You know at the end of Psycho when the full mental whackedness of Norman Bates is revealed and he decides not to swat a fly because police may be watching and he wants to mask his true murderous, psychotic nature ? I think of you PETA. I really do.

*From testimony at the 2007 trial of PETA staffers found to be taking animals from Vets with the promise of finding them homes, killing them in the PETA van and dumping the bodies in a Piggly Wiggly dumpster, Daphna Nachminovitch says:

PETA does not maintain an animal shelter. [...] We do not have a public facility that’s open to the public where people can stroll through and pick an animal. That’s not a service that we are able to provide.

You say it like it’s a bad thing. Like the public is too unwashed to deserve to adopt pets from a shelter. As if PETA’s plan for “helping” pets is to just kill, kill, kill. Got it.

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A brief note on the lighter than normal blogging here for the past week: I have been immersed in following the events in Iran via Twitter. I hope to catch up soon and at least touch upon several pet related stories of interest that I normally would have blogged about but just haven’t gotten to yet. In the meantime: Power to the people!

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