Archive for November, 2012

Regarding fake pet rescues: so how many dogs have YOU rescued?

November 29, 2012

I am updating this blog, as well as the original.   Wright Way now also has adulot dogs on their web-site—but continues to feature puppies in their ads, and dioes not take local owner surrenders.

I got a lot of flack for suggesting that Wright -Way rescue, in Niles, Illinois, was just this side of ethical. Seems many of their supporters do not believe  that  they’ve turned away dogs they’ve adopted out that are no longer wanted.  The sad fact is,  there is no way you can save every dog bred…and  when you deny there is a problem, and  believe that  NO-KILL—or, rather, actually PICKING  CHOOSING WHO YOU SAVE FOR  ANOTHER DAY is the way to go, you are denying what the problem is:  that too many irresponsible, unethical  BREEDERS, no matter what they call themselves when they own the ‘mommy’ dogs—are deciding to allow YOU to  decide who lives.

The livestock breeders..as this is what irresponsible breeders are…whether they  own a pet  or 50 breeding dogs don’t,  really care about the dogs they don’t sell. It’s a crop. As long as we, as a society, don’t address this fundamental issue, all the No Kill pet rescues will continue to pat themselves on the back & not really make a dent.

Am I hard hearted?  I see dogs every day that owners don’t take care of. It’s not quite so bad now as fewer  people can afford to own a non-shed type of dog, but I’ve seen dogs with maggots, fish hooks imbedded in their skin,  rubber  bands & collars imbedded in their skin , gangrene, horribly infected, painful ears, and heard every excuse for this neglect.  These dogs should have never been born…but it’s a free country, and  totally legal  to breed pets as livestock & not be responsible for them.

Now—how many have I RESCUED?  Well, when I was rescue coordinator for the Afghan Hound Club of Greater Chicago, I think, out of over 50 dogs offered, we ‘save’ 4 , but only  2 found permanent homes.  I took a 15 -year-old Poodle that the owner didn’t know whether to have groomed or put to sleep (her words)–he lived 3 more years.  There was then about a 12 year lull.  I returned from Peace Corps service, and  got back my 13-year-old whippet, who had been purchased as a pup. When he died, I  bought (well, he was just $200, and the owners would have kept him, but  they knew me) my champion Saluki.  He died of cancer 4 years later, and by then, there  were enough rescues you could find on the internet, that via rescue (as there were none in rescue), I was put in touch with  a hobby breeder who had a young adult male she felt was not show quality.  Turned out, he was.  He was not an obedience, field, or agility dog, but  he lived to be 15 years old.  Meanwhile, I had been on the Whippet  rescue list for 4 years, and  they finally called me  and told me they had  a young male.  His owner had died.  He is still with me.

In that time, the economy squeezed me. Having never carried any debt except for my house, I  knew I would probably never again be able to afford to  show or compete with a dog, nor could I house more than 2, but I could support the  rescues.  I do this  by screening prospects,  publicizing dogs in rescue, grooming, and offering other support services.  I do what I can.  I don’t want to keep a pack of dogs, I can not give individual attention to more dogs.

Why purebreds?  I have written about  this before,  I don’t like surprises.  I knew the possible temperament  issues with the breeds I chose.  I got what I expected.    You don’t have to let irresponsible backyard breeders choose the dog you get. You can choose  what you want. You just have to be patient.

That said—I have never seen a Scottish Deerhound  go into  ‘rescue’, and the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America does a very good job making sure none of them can be snatched up by  someone who thinks they are going to make a fortune breeding them.  I keep looking for an Ibizen, but   have never seen one in rescue.  The fact of the matter is—in some breeds, THE CULTURE IS that you have to be responsible for the dogs you breed, and protect the breed.  Look at what breeds you see on Craigslist;  Pit bulls, Cane Corso, American Bulldogs, Chihuahuas. The breeders of  these breeds really don’t give a shit about protecting the breed.  They cheapen it, & don’t care if there really is a market for those dogs—but many of the no-kill groups avoid those breeds, instead, going for the ‘cute’ ones.  If they were taking  proportionally  the types of dogs that get dumped, over 3/4 of the dogs in no-kill  rescues would be Pit bulls. That is not the case.

If all the do gooders would spend as much time harassing their elected officials to  make the  state departments of agriculture  do a better job of inspecting—and fining or taxing pet breeders (with the help of humane activists answering the ads & sending the inspectors out) we could solve the problem of surplus pets in less than 3 years.  Think about it.

Book review: Coming of Age With Elephants; a memoir. by Joyce Poole

November 22, 2012

I am a sucker for  any book by anyone who works in the field of animal behavior or ecology.  This book was published in 1996, and I found it at a book swap.

Dr. Poole’s father just happened to work for Peace Corps in Malawi, in the early days. After spending time ‘back home’ in the USA, she was committed to returning to Africa, and staying in Africa, and  became fascinated with observing animals, particularly elephants.
Due to  connections, she was able to work on Cynthia Moss’ team.  Cynthia Moss wrote the ground breaking book, Portraits in the Wild:  Behavior Studies of East African Mammals, published in 1975.

The book is very readable.  Poole is clear,  addresses  how friends, mentors, and  her location influenced her life.  She was very dedicated to learning about  how elephants communicated with each other, and what  influenced their social dynamics.  She really dedicated her life to  knowing elephants, and thus,  helping people to understand  them.

Probably most compelling, however,  is the fact that elephants are a huge tourist draw, and a major money maker for Kenya.   A serious problem  was  the  amount of poaching (for ivory) that was decimating herds.  In fact,  though this book was published in 1996, the herds have not recovered as poaching is still ongoing. The Kenya government, while desperate for foreign exchange, has not the political will to dedicate resources to protecting their main money  earners. How short sighted!  It is now estimated that all wild elephants will be  gone in 20 years, due to the demand for ivory in China!

In any case, if you are interested in animal behavior, or know of a young adult who might be, this book would be a fantastic gift.  If you can’t find it among the used books at a local independent bookstore, try Amazon.com

If you want to help African Wildlife, google the African Wildlife Foundation.  http://www.awf.org/

Elections & sausage….a judge’s perspective.

November 13, 2012

I have been a judge of election for about 30 years. I became an election judge because I was working part time, &  a non-profit group , Project LEAP (Legal Elections in All Precincts) was recruiting.  They claimed that the training that the Chicago Board of Elections provided was  insufficient.  My, how things have  evolved in  3 decades.

LEAP was  extremely effective in getting their trained  citizens to staff election sites. Unfortunately, they were not effective in getting enough funding to keep going.
They had to fold.  Yet, in that time,  we  got Harold Washington elected as mayor, and things started to change for the better.

In fact (not sure how it is done in other cities,  we’ve had ‘early voting ‘ in nursing homes as long as I can remember..) it used to be that nursing home administrators  voted all their patients’ ballots. No joke…. And they all voted Democratic  straight tickets.  Then,  because of the poll watchers, we  were asking residents who were obviously not totally lucid (yes—it remains a question of who  registered these people to vote) if they needed help,  this year, the trainers at the board of elections made it extremely clear that  election judges could not ask people if they needed help. The request for help had to come from the voter. That, of course, prevented many people from making  uninformed choices….but…you will   see…they are no different fro  the lucid voters in the general population.

I tell everyone taking a ballot that—  just by taking a ballot, they are voting. They don’t have to vote for anyone they don’t know. The ballot still counts for the people they did voted for.  Many people don’t  know this—so they vote for people they don’t know—& as a result, not only do we have  bad legislators, but horrible judges. Would you believe, someone  called the Board of Elections & complained about me telling people that? We also tell them if they make a mistake, to bring the ballot back.  We will give them a new ballot.

The Board of Elections  gives us so many posters to hang up, instructing voters, but not a single posted tells any voter that they don’t have to vote in all the races. Why? Neither  party wants  people to know that.

In Chicago, for the past several years, we’ve had early voting. It’s publicized on TV, the radio, in newspapers. You can go to 1 of any  20 or so sites, no matter where you  live, and if you are a registered voter, you can vote via computer, and your vote will automatically be tallied  at the correct precinct & ward when  the vote is consolidated.    This also means  that  if you moved, if your registration expired, anything not right— you will find out early enough to correct this.

Now… My Fellow Americans…we have a census every 10 years, so  the government can get an idea of where populations are  to provide services. Within about 5 years, there is a redistricting of political boundaries.  You  can’t graduate from 8th grade without learning this, because you get a Constitution test. Same after 4 years of high school, and if you graduate from a public university.  Yet, ask the typical American to name the  3 branches of government, & he draws a a blank. He knows who Kim Kardashian is, but not his  representative in Congress.

The point?  your polling place may have changed since the last time you voted.  It  certainly changed if you moved!  Yet, even though they had over 2 weeks—including Saturday afternoons, to  vote, a statistically significant number of would be voters waited until after 3:00p.m. on voting day to  try to figured out where  to vote, & have regular citizens (we are  contract workers to the Board of Elections)  help them figure out where and how to vote.

Now, I don’t know if this is true, but I have been told that in some places, the place you go to vote is on your voters registration card!  It would be really really helpful to also print on the card: this card expires xx/xx/20xx &  has to be renewed!!!!

I know that some day we will vote on the internet, and these same people will wait until 6:55 p.m. to cast a vote that has to be in by 7:00p.m.

We had to keep reminding people that they had been challenged in a canvas, by other regular folks who  were contract workers for the Board of Elections, and because they either did not have their name on their mail box or door bell, they were challenged as to their right to vote.

And—even in this age of computers, this was done  about a month before the election, and had they voted early, they would have learned of this.

Remember, in this country, we have representational  government, and there is a difference between that and good government.

I have been an election judge in Bosnia, and Americans go all over the world with several USAID & USIA funded agencies that monitor elections in other countries. We really need that here. Who would I pick to monitor us?  The Norwegians.

Fake Animal Rescues & other Scams

November 8, 2012

This blog, as it is very popular and well read ( meaning it gets a lot of ‘hits’ every day—so it is being forwarded) is updated as of Dec. 15, 2013.

Most of us who are humane activists, and who flag the  animal sellers who audaciously use Craiglist  to sell baby animals ( particularly Yorkies, Maltese, Bulldogs, Siberian Husky pups, and recently , Bengal Kittens), and claim they are missionaries or Peace Corps Volunteers,and the climate is not good, and all they want is the shipping, yadda yadda….are familiar with the scam. Surprisingly, many  people  are clueless.  Of course, there is no animal. People wire  $100 (this is still happening) & are shocked that they never hear from these missionaries/Peace Corps Volunteers ever again.

How can this happen?  People  are stupid (what other reason can you figure for middle America  going for Mitt Romney, who had stated he didn’t care about them), and believe that  people posting  pets on the internet are inherently honest.  No joke.  The naive among us believe everything they read on the internet.Well, the scam doesn’t always work, so…there are a few new ones.

One is—(same Africans), claiming they were called  to a family medical emergency, and just had a litter of puppies, and the pups  are with a (friend, veterinarian, family member) in (name a state)—or the breeders are in the military in (not the state they have posted in) and have to  go on assignment, & just had a litter of (the breeds named in the first paragraph), and  please contact so- and so, always REVEREND so & so and “we just want to make sure all the pups go to good homes…”

Now, you would wonder why they don’t just post in their HOME STATE…but this scam seems to work.

Another –extremely frequently now, is “we just rescued a litter of…” (Great Danes, Mastiffs, or  any other breed) and they have been ‘vetted’ (what does that mean, exactly?) …& we just want what we put in…”  but frequently it is, “We just rescued this  3 year old (somewhat rare breed….recently it was a Newfoundland) from an abusive  situation, but we can’t keep her. She is not spayed. We want her to go to a good home.”  Dog brokers…all.

The scammers know people want rescued dogs. & hey, if Oprah Winfrey can tell the director of a major No KILL shelter in Chicago, that if they ever get  purebred brown cocker spaniel pups, she will adopt them, & , lo & behold, the shelter does find a dumped litter of purebred brown chocolate cocker spaniel pups, not two months later (what are the odds), then people  really believe so many purebred puppies are dumped and available for adoption.

Sickening enough,  several  toy breed rescues  frequently get puppies. The   livestock breeders, which we know as puppy mills, need to SELL them as soon as they are weaned, and if they are not shipped off, they start going down in value.   Or, if they have luxated patellas or liver shunt, they  may be unsellable, so they get dumped in pounds, & the breed  rescues  grab them up, do a pretty good job of screening, & manage to find them homes with people who can afford to care for them. This is not easy, as many of the rescues ask so many questions  they seem intrusive. However, they make it clear that  the pups  entered rescue because there was no market for them.  Now dog brokers, looking for a new angle, are also buying up entire litters and claiming they were  RESCUED from a puppy mill. They may go with shots, they  may be wormed, but neutering is NEVER included  in their fees. Sometimes, they tell adopters the pup must be neutered by a certain date, & sometimes they refund a neutering deposit, but this is rarely true of fake rescues.   Nor do they do  any kind of screening, You have money–you get a puppy.  They never provide  feeding, grooming, or housebreaking information, and, of course, unlike the bona fide rescues, they don’t take the puppy back if it doesn’t work out.

We have an actual ‘bona fide’ rescue in Niles, Illinois (Now in Morton Grove—update), started by a former student who attended college   in southern Illinois, that doesn’t take back the pups the  offer for adoption (they have told me they do, but enough  people have had to bring unwanted pets to other shelters—this is an update). .  At least that has been the  experience of several adopters , who’ve posted on Craigslist & claimed that if they didn’t ‘rehome’ the dog, it would have to go to a KILL  (that would be an OPEN ADMISSIONS)SHELTER.  It’s called Wright Way Animal Rescue.   Volunteers claim this could not possibly be true, but  having heard this from several  people, I wonder if a volunteer has been acting in an executive capacity &  giving out wrong information to several people

  It looks like  possibly Wright Way has changed their ways and  they now have adult dogs.—this is an update.  They still IOMPORT dogs from out of state & do NOT take owner surrenders.
UPDATE: Again, I have to ask:
1.  With so many     ADOPTABLE (PitBull—& Chihuahua-x) dogs at Chicago Animal Care & Control, Animal Welfare League, and Orphans of the Storm…why do they have to go to Kentucky to  get dogs?  Is it because they know there is a specific market for them up here?
2.Why do they continually feature  puppies  in their Craigslist posts, & not adult d0gs?
3.  What are they doing to  address the problem of irresponsible breeding?
These are questions we can ask all the private rescues.
Good intentions are not enough, and although their retort/response may be, “How many dogs have YOU rescue?” (or why would I go to a breeder…), my response  has to be, “I don’t want the  meth addicts,  people with credit card debt raising pets as livestock, & thugs deciding what breeds i should own.  As it is, they’ve already  decided the terminology of the pet marketplace.

They get a lot of dumped puppy mill puppies down in southern Illinois at their pounds, so the student started bringing them up to  Niles to adopt out.  Which would be ok, except they rarely have adult dogs. They only take puppies to save, and if an ‘adopter’ (you’d have to call them BUYERS at this point) can’t keep a puppy, Wright Way will not take the pup back–claiming they don’t have the space. The adopter has to either RESELL THIS RESCUE, or bring it to an OPEN ADMISSIONS  shelter.

Many of us think this is unethical.   Yeah, it’s legal—but is this rescue?   No bona fide rescue buys a litter from some hillbilly farmer because he kept them out in the yard with no food or water, or shelter, & , instead of demanding the state department of agriculture or a local humane group get after the guy, buys them to resell.  & not give any information about training, or housebreaking, or, how do you plan to handle this if you work outside your home?  I know bad breeders do this, but it is unconscionable that a rescue would.

We hobbyists and fanciers are failing to get the message out.  People  tend to think that puppies are bred, they need homes, and they may as well buy the pups, even  if they are  rewarding bad behavior  and unethical activities. They have convinced themselves they are saving a life.  Yet, most of these  pairings of pet and owner fail within 6 months. Why?  People  did not get what they expected, and  they don’t have the time for the pet.  so much for  rescuing a pet.

How Puppy Mills Get Dogs of Rare Breeds

November 1, 2012

For the first time ever, a purebred Portuguese Water Dog, intact & with AKC papers, was offered on Craigslist in Chicago…for $300.  The owner told me the breeder did not want the dog back, but would help finding a home…so…we know the breeder was not a member of the Portuguese Water Dogs Club  of America—& managed to get full ownership of an unspayed (breedable) bitch, and also find someone to provide stud service.

Who knows why the dog needs a home?  Owners bored with the dog, lost a job, divorcing, kids are now grown, dog has too much energy, etc…

In any case, they don’t want the dog, he is intact, and he comes with registration papers.

I contact the PWDCA, and they told me they were working on getting the dog—for this very reason:  any  commercial breeder could get the dog, &  start breeding—breeding to labradoodles, poodles, whatever… and forge AKC papers, and cheapen the breed.

With the economy so bad, many   breeds are in crisis. the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America demands genetic tests for dogs entered in their specialty shows, and many breeders won’t breed to dogs without those tests…but it is now too late for Cane Corsos & Neopolitan Mastiffs:  the thugs have gotten them, & are breeding the CCs to the Neos,and to Pit bulls. the irony is, while these are large dogs, they are not fighting dogs, but are being sold as fighting or guard dogs, and they are being dumped in droves.

We see a lot of miniature Schnauzers that are  parti-colored, and everyone knows they are not purebred dogs, but the  buyers really don’t care. they just wanted pets.  The trouble is, many of these dogs carry CJC—genetic early onset cataracts—blindness. is that what  buyers really want?  In fact now, in many breeders, ther are  more than 1 distinct types;  the  show lineage,and the poorly bred  puppy mill types that have AKC papers,  might resemble the breed in color, coat type, or size, but that’s it—and many carry  crippling genetic defects.

The AKC does not care.  It’s shameful. they have put money into selling  dog stuff; toys, collars, even harnesses, and are not returning any value to the fancy:  the people who are the stewards of their breeds.

Anyone interested in  if this is an issue—please check out http://www.dog-play.com   This is an excellent informational website.  Also, check out the breed club of the breed you are interested in.  We are not doing effective enough marketing among those looking for purebred dogs.