Discussion: Lost CA Sheltie Adopted by New Owners

An elderly couple whose lost Sheltie got picked up by Stockton Animal Services in December was pulled by a rescue group then adopted while the owners were still searching for her.  The new owners, who had Tipsy for around 2 weeks by the time Mr. and Mrs. Robinson found out what had happened to their pet of 8 years, are refusing to give her back.

[Sharon] Robinson was 10 days too late, and the new family was already in love with Tipsy.
“I just want… I want her back,” she said.
She’s heartbroken and has even offered the new adoptive family a refund for Tipsy’s adoption fee. They have declined.
“They’ve loved her for a little over two weeks. I’ve loved her for eight and a half years.”

Mrs. Robinson still has the pedigree that came with Tipsy when she was a puppy. She searched for her to the best of her knowledge and ability, even when she was sick. She is heartbroken and can not talk about Tipsy without crying. Although it’s impossible to know how Tipsy is feeling, it would be hard to imagine she is not missing the only family she ever knew.

Setting all this aside for the moment, I found this troubling:

We also reached out to the city of Stockton’s Animal Services. They declined an on-camera interview. The animal services department is now investigating Tipsy’s case to see if the proper protocol was followed.

The pound doesn’t know if proper procedures were followed? And they won’t discuss the case? Not good.

Back to Tipsy’s ownership:  On the one hand, Mrs. Robinson certainly presents a reasonable case that Tipsy was well cared for and loved by her family.  I don’t think the new owners would have any worries about her quality of life if Tipsy was returned.  On the other hand, the new owners had a Sheltie who died recently and found Tipsy, whom they were told was a stray and that no owner had claimed her.  They adopted her in good faith and instantly fell in love with her, something I think we all can relate to.  Getting a new pet helps some owners in the grieving process and perhaps Tipsy has been providing much needed comfort to the new owners.

What would you do if you had adopted Tipsy under these circumstances?  Mrs. Robinson says she may hire an attorney.  That might not be a bad idea, especially considering that the pound doesn’t know if proper procedures were followed (which opens up the possibility that Tipsy was not held for the legally mandated holding period and therefore not eligible for release to the rescue group in the first place).  I would hate to see a lengthy court battle in this situation, or any pet custody situation really.  What other options might exist for the Robinsons?

(Thanks Anne for the link.)

Lost Pets in Michigan Lose State Protection

The distressingly bad and wealthy Michigan InHumane has been trying for years to get legislation changed to reduce and eliminate mandatory holding periods for lost pets in shelters.  (And when MHS hasn’t gotten its way, it just blatantly ignores the law.)  Its current proposed bill is terrible.

mi hb4915

Portion of terrible HB 4915 in Michigan.

Unfortunately, the state department of agriculture recently caved on the issue and announced it will no longer enforce the law regarding mandatory holding periods in shelters.

Meanwhile, Michigan rescue groups continue to import shelter pets from the south, citing “no pressing need” to help locally.

If you are a Michigan resident, please take action to protect lost pets from being abandoned or killed by your local shelter before their owners have a chance to find them.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Merry Christmas!

Celebrating the human-animal bond with photos and captions submitted by readers:

xmas anne s

This is a photo of my daughters and our pit bull Trixie, having a sleepover in the living room. Trixie was a stray living in a vacant lot. Wiley, she was able to evade all efforts to capture her until she spotted my husband with the word “sucker” written across his forehead and trotted right on up to him. And that’s how we got a third dog. – Anne S.

xmas amd.JPG

This is of happier times. Left to right Kathryn with Roxie, Paul with Sidewinder, Shane with Paige (daughter) and Beethoven. – Anne Marie

xmas lisa

Lisa and Sir Digby Chicken Caesar. Digby came from the Rowan County, NC, pound. He’s the kind of impulsive, over-exuberant dog who jumps all over potential adopters and gets labeled a “behavior problem” at many pounds. Fortunately for Digby, he ended up jumping on the right person, and now he’s in training to be an agility and flyball dog. – Lisa

xmas cr

A girl and her dog. R.I.P., Rosie, May 8, 2002-March 23, 2015. A very good dog. – Claire

xmas leslie

Gladys, a 15-year-old deaf cat owner-surrendered to the shelter, embracing my arm shortly after joining my family in August. Any time I pet her, she grabs my arm like this. – Leslie in San Lorenzo, CA

xmas susanne

Harry whom I rescued from certain death at Worcester County Animal Control, is the most lovable and dignified soul. He loves to snuggle and be carried around in a sling while you do chores. I love him so much. – Susanne

xmas susanne2

My son Zak and my rescued pit bull type dog Jenny. I pulled Jenny from animal control where I vol to save her from being killed in July 2011. I intended to foster her but failed as a foster and adopted her myself. She is one of the loves of my life! – Susanne

xmas jenn

Here is a photo of me saying “see ya later!” to a shelter dog on his way to a rescue foster home. I put out a call for help (as a shelter volunteer) for this little guy, now named Rocco, as he was getting overlooked at the shelter and his spirit was dying. Rocco was adopted by his foster family because he immediately deeply bonded with the husband. They adore him and send me pictures of him often. I love this picture of us! – Jenn

xmas stacey

SPCA of Brazoria County (Texas) shelter employee Sam feeding an orphaned kitten. – Stacey

xmas bobbie

This is Justus, a would be Black and Tan Coonhound, probably Doberman mix, and I think he has Poodle in there somewhere. When his rescue didn’t want to keep him because he wasn’t a B&T, I adopted him at cost. He is my traveling companion and my big bud. He is a “Whineramer,” because he whines, and a Guy Magnet, because when my girlfriend kept him while I was in the store, 4 guys came up to see him…..Justus also still considers himself a lap dog. In this photo, he is lending support to my back. – Roberta

xmas eu

Bertie Woofster & Eucritta in Northern California.

xmas jane

This photo is of my son, Zach with former foster dog Milkshake. – Jane

xmas karen

Vera at her nursery in Seattle with Bruce. – Karen F.

xmas danielle

Sometimes Indy insists on holding hands when we snuggle. – Danielle S, GA.

Thank you to everyone who sent in these truly lovely photos for this post. And thank you to all my readers for sharing part of your day here all year long. I appreciate you and everything you do to help animals in need. Pets are family.

PETA Can Shove Its Fruit Basket Up Its Walk-In Dead Pet Freezer


When PETA got caught on surveillance camera trying – and failing – to lure an owned Chihuahua named Maya off her porch last year, ultimately stealing and killing the beloved pet, the group sent the cranks back to the scene of the crime.  They knocked on the door, told the family they had killed their dog and gave them a fruit basket.

As it turns out, the heartbroken owners didn’t feel PETA’s basket of crazy was fair compensation for killing a member of their family.  Wilber Zarate and his daughter Cynthia are now suing PETA and the two screwballs, seeking more than $9 million:

Cynthia was distraught after Maya was killed, Zarate said of his daughter in the lawsuit.

“She cried for weeks, became lethargic, lost sleep, refrained from eating and lost weight,” he said. “Maya was irreplaceable.”

Apparently a fruit basket did not make it all better.  So weird.

Before anyone has a sad because PETA may have to cough up $9 million, let’s remember that PETA collects that amount many times over every year from donors.  Some donors are probably honestly duped into believing the group does the opposite of things like operating a pet slaughterhouse, others are willfully ignorant but eager to congratulate themselves on their charitable giving.  I tend to toss celebrities with deep pockets and small brains into that latter category.

The money won’t be a problem for PETA.  The lawsuit, and the media attention it will hopefully attract, will be.  Look how many people had their eyes opened by the press coverage of PETA’s 2007 Piggly Wiggly dumpster trial.  Any opportunity to shine a light on PETA’s pet killing is worthwhile.  Nothing can bring Maya back, but by suing for such a large sum of money, her family is sending a clear message bound to garner widespread attention:  Pets are family.  PETA kills pets.

(Thanks Laura.)

A Sense of Belonging

Some of you may remember the story of a Boston man who was walking his dog in January when he was struck by a school bus.  The dog was killed and the man was seriously injured.  Many people were touched by the tragedy and the students on the bus were met by counselors when they finally arrived at school that day.

Today, the Boston Globe reported the rest of the story including background on the man, Jeff Schwartz, his dog Buddy, and the numerous obstacles Jeff has faced since losing his leg in the accident.  You might be tempted to skip the article for fear of it being too depressing but I would encourage everyone to read it.  It is a harrowing tale to be sure but it is peppered throughout with inspiration and hope, revolving around the special bond we share with our pets.

Pets are so many things to us.  Pets are our motivation to battle adversity, our source of comfort, and our sense of home.  When Jeff awoke from his month-long coma, he was unable to speak but could hold a pen, although writing was difficult.  He wrote down two questions for his wife who was at his bedside:

Where do we live, and did Buddy survive?

In that moment, Jeff’s sense of home was so limited that he could not even remember where he lived.  But he remembered Buddy.  Perhaps it was because memories can be dodgy in patients who awake from a coma but possibly there was something more at play:  a house is a physical structure which keeps the wind off, a pet is part of your identity.  A missing limb can be inquired about later.  Pets are family.  We belong.

Due to the physical limitations and setbacks which occurred during Jeff’s lengthy recovery, he was unable to care for a new dog as soon as he wanted one.  Amidst progress and despite the challenges, he and his wife recently decided to go ahead and adopt a dog from an area rescue which pulls pets from southern pounds.  Her name is Mandy.  Jeff has a walking partner again.  And so much more.

Mandy is reportedly shy and doesn’t like most men.  She would make a likely candidate for killing at many pounds based on those traits alone.  Or she might have been killed for space or because her mandatory holding period had expired or any other arbitrary reason.  But it is Mandy’s natural birthright to live.  And it was her destiny to help provide a sense of identity to Jeff.

For anyone working in a so-called shelter to violate Mandy’s right to live and rob her of her destiny should be a crime.  Instead it’s standard operating procedure at far too many public facilities.  That needs to change.  Lives are at risk – precious lives of all varieties interwoven with one another.  The fact that these needless killings are happening by the millions each year diminishes our collective identity.  The sense of loss is palpable.  What is needed though, in spite of the horror, is for it to be motivational too.  Start here.

Lost, Microchipped Pets – Emphasis on LOST

In theory, microchipping your pet is an excellent way to help get him back home should he ever get lost.  In reality, microchips are useless if the organization taking in lost pets doesn’t scan for them or contact the registered owner (and the alternate contacts, if necessary).  There have been a spate of stories recently involving microchipped lost pets being found and the owner not being contacted.

A Pennsylvania family who left their microchipped German shepherd Sophie with a relative while they went on vacation this month only found out she had gotten lost on July 4th after they returned home on the 13th.  They immediately called the HS of Westmoreland Co and learned their pet had been impounded on July 6 and adopted to a new owner six days later.  The HS says it tried to reach the registered owner (whom the family obtained the dog from) listed on Sophie’s microchip but the voicemail at that number was not set up.  After the 48 hour holding period elapsed, they offered the dog for adoption.  The original owner disputes the shelter’s claim about her voicemail.

Either way, if a chip’s first phone number doesn’t yield results, there are always the alternate contacts as well as registered mail and good old knocking on door.  But I guess that sounds like work.  The HS claims the adoption is legal and that the family never legally owned Sophie anyway because they hadn’t licensed her.  So stuff it, basically.

***

In Sonoma Co, CA, a lawsuit has been filed by the original owner of a 10 year old tuxedo cat who was microchipped at the time he went missing several years ago.  The current owner, who says she bought the cat 5 years ago from a rescuer she met through her veterinarian, only found out the cat was chipped last year when she took him to a new vet who scanned him.  She attempted to register the chip in her own name, prompting the chip company to contact the original owner.  The original owner says she bottle fed the kitten from birth, searched for him extensively when he got lost and still wants him back.  The current owner loves him too and doesn’t want to give him up.

Had either the rescuer or the first vet scanned the cat at the time he was found, he could have been returned to the original owner.  Now two people are heartbroken over the matter and a cat is caught in the middle.

***

The city of Alton, IL recently eliminated funding for its ACO position, turning those duties over to police.  This week, Alton police responded to a call about an injured dog in a store parking lot.  The 15 year old dog, called Buster, had wandered away from home and apparently hurt his rear leg.  His owner had filed a missing pet report with the police department including a description of Buster and his microchip information.

A witness says she saw police coax him into their car with bologna.  State law requires the officers to take the dog to a vet’s office to be scanned for a microchip.  Once the chip’s information had been read, the owner could have been contacted.  Instead, the officers reportedly drove the dog to the AC facility where one shot him twice with a .12 gauge shotgun and the other put two bullets from his .40 caliber Glock 23 into the pet.  After Buster was dead, a chip scan provided his owner’s information and the owner was notified of his pet’s killing.  Oh and the police love animals:

“We know what our protocol has been up to this point,” said Emily Hejna, public information officer for the Alton Police Department. “We were presented yesterday with some law saying something that might contradict what what we have been using as practice.”

Rather than task the police department with figuring out how to work compliance with some law into their protocol, the city voted to reinstate the ACO.  Hopefully the ACO has – and uses – a chip scanner.  While animals are still alive.

***

(Thanks to everyone who sent me links for this post.)

Shelter Sold Owned, Microchipped Lost Dog to Strangers While Owner Searched

Jingle and Toby, a pair of Schnauzers owned by Anita Sloan in Bedford, Texas, wandered away when someone accidentally left a gate open at the family’s home.  Ms. Sloan raised the pair from pups and considers them family.  She began searching for them immediately, hoping the microchip she had implanted in Jingle would help the family get reunited.

Ms. Sloan visited Bedford Animal Services but did not find her pets.  She was given a lengthy list of shelters to search.  She dutifully visited each one although there was some confusion about the two shelters in Keller:

Sloan explains she visited all but one shelter in Keller. The number printed for the shelter on the list she has, got her nowhere.

“The person you are trying to reach is not available,” a recording says when she dials the number.

The city apparently has two shelters:  Keller Animal Services and Keller Regional Adoption Center.  As it turns out, Jingle and Toby had been picked up by police and left at Keller Animal Services.  The city says it checked both dogs for chips but found none.  After the mandatory holding period, the dogs were transferred to the Keller Regional Adoption Center which is run by the HS of North Texas.  Staff there did detect Jingle’s chip but sold the dogs to a new owner anyway.  Because it’s not their job to return dogs to owners:

“At that particular facility we don’t handle lost and found animals. We just handle adoptions,” says Whitney Hanson, Director of Development & Communications.

Hanson explains that the facility would have only been looking at finding homes for the pets since Keller Animal Services had already processed the animals.

[…]

The Humane Society of North Texas says there is no existing system that allows all municipalities to communicate.

There is no existing system which allows all municipalities to communicate.  Fair enough.  But the HS knew Jingle was chipped.  Finding that chip should have prompted the HS to check the transfer paperwork and see if Keller Animal Services had followed up on the chip and what the outcome was.  The HS had an obligation to verify that the chip was a dead end before proceeding.  A statewide communication system is not required for that – just a phone call or email to Keller Animal Services to ask about the chip’s status.

And while it may not be the Humane Society’s job to return animals to their owners, common sense would dictate that a pair of schnauzers, typically a professionally groomed breed purchased from a breeder, aren’t walking the streets because they are homeless and just happened to meet each other in an alley and decided to pal around.  There would be every reason to suspect Jingle and Toby were owned, likely by the person who registered the chip, whom the HS never bothered to call.

Jingle and Toby are now living with people in Houston.  The HS of North Texas says that “according to Texas law, the schnauzers are the legal property of their new owners”.  The situation has been explained to the new owners and Ms. Sloan has offered to reimburse them for any expenses if they would return her family members.  They are reportedly considering what to do with the dogs.

Keller Animal Services failed to detect a lost dog’s microchip.  The HS of Texas detected the chip but made no effort to find out if Keller Animal Services had attempted to reach the registered owner.  The city says no one is at fault.  The situation looks bad.  It looks like the first shelter is either incompetent or lying and the second shelter is a money-grubbing doggie retail outfit where no one could be bothered to slow down in the rush to sell a bonded pair of little purebred dogs.

It’s 2015, Keller.  Time to step outside the Only This Thing is My Job and I Do Only This Thing box.  You may not have a statewide shelter communication system but I’m guessing there is such a thing as phone service in Keller.  Shame on everyone involved in the needless break up of this family because apparently no one at either shelter knows what the right thing to do is when it comes to pets.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Discussion: How Have Pets Helped Make Your Community Better?

SnoopyA recently published study in Australia found that pets help connect people within communities:

“We found that people who had a pet were more likely, than those who didn’t own a pet, to get to know people in their neighbourhood that they didn’t know before,” says [Associate Professor Lisa Wood from the University of Western Australia’s School of Population Health], adding that people from all walks of life were brought together.

“The great thing about pets is they are a really great leveller.”

And it went beyond pets breaking the ice and leading to a simple wave or a chat.

“Having a pet can actually lead to more meaningful relationships between people,” says Wood.

She and colleagues found 42 per cent of pet owners received practical or emotional support from others they had met through their pets.

And a more tightly knit community benefits everyone:

If you’ve got a street where dog owners help each other, they may be more likely to keep an eye on others in the street as well, whether they own pets or not, says Wood.

“There seems to be a ripple effect.”

What are your experiences?  Have you received support from someone in your community whom you met via a pet?  Do you perceive a ripple effect within your community stemming from relationships established via pets?  What other community benefits have you observed which you believe originated from the presence of pets?  Does your local shelter maintain a strong presence in the community in order to protect and promote animal welfare and the subsequent benefits to people?

The Irresponsible Public Comes Through When Pound Manager Fails to Protect the Human-Animal Bond

Last year the Everett Animal Shelter in Washington “rescued” 110 cats and kittens from a 32 foot trailer and killed them all.  And the response to panleukopenia at the facility has been mass killing.  It’s not a good place for cats.

Kali, as pictured on the website of the Everett Herald.

Kali, as pictured on the website of the Everett Herald.

Lisa Shelly, an area resident, has been struggling to keep her family together.  Her husband suffers from some very serious medical issues and she has been unable to find work.  The family lost their apartment 2 years ago along with most of their personal possessions.  They’ve been living in week-to-week motels and do not have a car.  At Christmas, all Ms. Shelly’s 9 year old son Ronan wanted was a kitten.  His Christmas wish came true and he named her Kali.

Kali recently got out through an open window and Ms. Shelly began looking for her immediately.  She eventually learned that Kali had been impounded by the Everett Animal Shelter.  Ms. Shelly went to the pound to reclaim Kali but was told she’d have to pay $205 to get her pet back.  She didn’t have the money:

“I had to come home without her,” Shelly said, and tell her son she couldn’t get Kali back. “He cried so hard.”

When contacted by the local paper, the pound manager was all about the law:

Dee Cordell, the operations coordinator for the Everett Animal Shelter, said $165 of the fee is charged by Snohomish County, because Kali came from an unincorporated part of the county. The remainder covers the shelter’s costs of getting the cat spayed, vaccinated and tagged with an identification chip.

“By law cats need to be licensed. Since the cat was not spayed and not chipped, the fee is $40,” Cordell said.

A local blogger pointed out that under the Everett municipal code, the manager is “authorized to reduce or waive any fee” except the licensing fee.

But since the manager was apparently uninterested in getting Kali back with her boy, Ms. Shelly enlisted the help of a friend to set up a donation page for the redemption fee.  After the story ran in the local paper, people began donating.  And they continued to give, long after the $205 was raised.  Because irresponsible public.

Thank you once again to the unwashed masses for protecting the human-animal bond, getting a beloved pet reunited with her family and for generally being an alright sort.  Now if Everett taxpayers had some people like that working at the shelter, the community might really shine.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Detroit AC: Quit Focusing on the Dog You Love and Just Get Some Other Dog

Detroit ACOs, whom you may remember from such exploits as Dragging Dead Dogs Whose Guts are Falling Out in Front of Neighborhood Children, are once again dazzling the kiddies with their animal handling skills.

Jenga, as pictured on freep.com.

Jenga, as pictured on freep.com.

Last week, local media reported that a friendly stray dog who was beloved by children and teachers at the school where the dog had been hanging out, was captured and hauled away by Detroit ACOs while the kids pleaded for the dog they named Jenga to be spared.  The incident was so upsetting to everyone who witnessed it that a fifth grade class is writing a letter to Detroit AC to express their feelings.

Teachers at the school immediately began making calls to various city offices to try to keep Jenga from being killed but all they got was the runaround.  One teacher offered to adopt Jenga outright or at least place her name on the dog as an interested party but AC refused, citing the 4 day holding period.  And she won’t be allowed to adopt Jenga from the pound after the holding period either:

[Harry] Ward [head of AC] said the department must keep stray dogs without identification for four business days. If they are unclaimed, animal control evaluates the dog. Dogs fit for adoption are made available to the Michigan Humane Society; the rest are put down.

The Humane Society visits Detroit Animal Control weekly and decides which dogs to accept into its adoption program, Ward said. The animal control department does not run an adoption program, he said, conceding that an outdated website says otherwise.

Oh swell.  Also, shame on those kids and their teachers for falling in love with a stray dog and caring what happens to her:

Ward suggested those concerned about Jenga’s fate adopt a dog from the Humane Society to make room for more dogs in the adoption program.

“Do something for all the dogs, instead of getting focused on the one dog,” Ward said.

[…]

“I know to the world this one dog is important. I want the world to know there are 38 other dogs that will come in over one or two days,” Ward said. “People need to pull back and look at the bigger issue.”

The bigger issue is that the head of Detroit AC doesn’t understand that dogs are not interchangeable widgets.  Pets are family.  Humans bond with them.  It’s actually the kind of thing AC should be encouraging, especially with children.

Unfortunately for Jenga, her only hope at this point seems to be a transfer to another pet killing facility.  Perhaps media attention will help save Jenga from the fate of so many other stray dogs in Detroit whom rescue groups say they try to help but must battle AC in order to do so.

(Thanks Clarice and Karen for the links.)

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