Archive for March, 2014

Primary Elections: & We’re Going to Tell Others What’s Transparent?

March 28, 2014

Yep.  It is  March 2014, and we’ve had a primary election in Illinois.    That means folks voted on who their parties are floating as candidates for the general election  in November.  We had a  less than 15% voter turnout in my  precinct. That’s right:  of 690 registered voters (that has to be just about every adult in the precinct, which is about a  6 block area), 107 turned out.  I think about  20 voted absentee.  Not really sure. We did get the ‘early voter’ list (hello!  we all had 2 weeks to early vote, every day, 9—7…you could vote anywhere in the city at a time & day convenient  for you), but obviously, lots of people did not vote.

Here’s why:  those  with  the cash and political backing, who got enough signatures to file petitions to be on the ballot didn’t really connect with a lot of voters.  A Republican  running for governor,  Bruce Rauner, is known to be rich.  He talks a good game,and,  has spend thousands of $$$ on TV ads.  Pat Quinn, the  current governor & Democrat, has been a disappointment:  he is not very pro-active, and refuses to address a bloated budget. Our state is in the hole for  around a trillion $$$.  As I’ve stated before,  we  do not have enough Department of Agriculture inspectors, we have a huge make-work project in the  Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity/International  Trade Division (with at least 10 overseas offices duplicating what our federal government does), and  highly paid people  in charge of  overseeing amateur sports.  It’s ridiculous—especially  when we still have the pension fund crisis voted FOR three legislatures ago (meaning money was diverted from the pension funds for public employees—to  poorly thought out programs—& lets ask why  teachers were  never paying  into Social Security—really stupid—especially if your whole career is not spent in 1 school district).

Yep—that’s the mess we have in Illinois—or at least part of it.  Uh, so why do people not vote in primaries?  Aside from having to declare yourself (you have to declare a political party—tho you can declare unaffiliated & vote just in the referendums), lots of people don’t understand that taking a ballot is votingYou don’t have to vote for anyone you don’t know or don’t want.   That sends a message (however—shocking that the  media editors don’t publicize how many people took ballots and  don’t vote the candidates).  I was reprimanded by Democratic poll watchers in the last general election for reminding ballot takers of this fact. They don’t want people  to know that you don’t have to  vote all the races—or any of the races.  In fact, the way the ballot machines are set up, they will tell you you UNDERVOTED and spit out the  ballot—& you have to request an override & acceptance of an ‘undervoted’ ballot.

So much for democracy.

Let me start with  early voting  in nursing homes, however.  Sure, people  confined to nursing homes (& hospitals, actually) should be able to participate and cast their ballots.    But this is not exactly transparent.  What used to happen (as recently as 20 years ago) is that  someone from 1 of the parties would come in as a voter registrar and sign up EVERYBODY to vote  and nursing home administrators would vote all the ballotsWhy?  Often nursing homes have code and care violations (we’re talking Chicago—but I am sure this happens  most places) Our ‘dominant’ party in Chicago is the Democratic party.  Here’s how it works: you vote your residents the  party ticket, and we ignore your violations.

Things have changed a bit.  I am a Project LEAP (Legal Elections in All Precints) trained  judge.  LEAP no longer exists, but at one time they got money to train election judges the stuff  to watch out for that  the Chicago Board of Elections  (CBOE)  did not.  & there are still  problems that come up that  the CBOE  hasn’t trained judges to address.

What went wrong?  You are supposed to get to the nursing home by 8:45 a.m. to start the election at 9—but the board doesn’t send out their employees with supplies until after 8…so they are stuck in rush hour traffic and might not get to the home until 10.  You —nursing home judge—are paid a flat feet for the day…but considering this  has been the problem year after year, you’d think they’d send out the supplies the afternoon before—or starting at 5:00 a.m.?  That’s what they do for the general election. What are we missing?

We have over 100 people in the nursing home I was assigned to who requested absentee ballots. That means some  registrar went in their & got signatures.  Statistically, there is no way he could have gotten  legal signatures for all who applied—as  a huge  per centage are  demented/addled/confused—and were unable to sign their application for ballot.  They  are not blind.  They all ask for assistance. The only reason you can LEGALLY give assistance (and then, it has to either be someone the voter has requested— or a judge from each party) is that they can’t read/write/or speak English, or have a PHYSICAL DISABILITY.  Since when is confusion a physical disability? But those are the choices you are given on the affidavit.  That adds so much paperwork.  I am shocked that the news media  constantly ignores this issue.  So much vote fraud  is in nursing homes. But does the CBOE want to hear from ME, an experienced judge? No.

We experienced judges ask the NURSING HOME ACTIVITIES DIRECTOR (she is in charge of getting voters down to the  voting)  how many people are NON-AMBULATORY (meaning bed ridden). She told me there were 3—and the investigator from the state’s attorney’s office heard her tell me that.  Meanwhile, at this nursing home, we were assigned 10 judges!.  Only 4 had been to training, the rest had no idea what they were doing & just got in the way.

Now,  the Activities Director knows her residence. she knew how many would need assistance, and she  just didn’t arrange to have aids available.  When we have to assist (& remember–most  residents are ‘confused’), we have to read the entire ballot, slowly, to every resident—including all the judges running for office.  This takes  about 10 minutes or so per voter.  You might be able to remind them that taking a ballot is voting, and ask if they want to vote for judges, but  most do want to vote for judges.  Now, most regular, lucid  voters have no idea who the judges are.  As I do court watch, I at least have an inking of who  the judges are. This is how we get bad judges &  other bad  politicians.    Anyways….at about 11:45 a.m., when we should have been ready  to do all paperwork and turn in a report, the  Activities Director tells us that  about 2o envelopes remaining were from NON AMBULATORY RESIDENTS. Remember, I had asked first thing—& she had said 3. When I  confronted her & told her, “You told me there were just 3!”   She just smiled and turned around. These people were on  4 floors.  We had to send 2 teams of judges—and  personnel from the CBOE  and the State’s Attorney up with us.  We  judges each took 2 floors. Thankfully, nobody asked for assistance (keep in mind,  even though we judges explained to each resident how to do this—in front of the CBOE employees and the State’s Attorney investigator), the fact is, most  people  spoiled their ballots by not being able to follow instructions—which the  board will ultimately find out and toss). The CBOE  employee and state’s attorney lawyer agreed with me—that the Activities director screwed things up and added 90 minutes to our day.

Wait—there’s more!  It seems, remarkably, that our  local politicians forget an election is coming up.  I knew in January  that this primary was coming up, and started posting on Facebook and my listservs that judges were needed.  If you were interested in being a judge, contact the Chicago Board of Elections, as you would have to go for training. We had early voting for 2 weeks, but the weekend before the election, March 15 & 15, our alderman & committeeman for the Democratic party started posting on  our neighborhood listserv that there was a need for REPUBLICAN JUDGES. WTF? Why would Democrats be recruiting REPUBLICAN judges—and 2 days before the election?
The response? 
They were needed!  They were needed to be recruited in January and all through February!  If the Republican committee woman needed help, she should have asked.  Insane!  & I asked  about training, and the alderman said  the CBOE was doing training, Interesting—as I took the last training day I was offered.

Now, as I said, I work a precinct with  generally experienced judges. We have to be at the polling place to set up at 5:15 a.m.  They tell you this when you go for training, and it’s in the judges manual–the polls open at 6:a.m.  Yet we had an inexperienced judge who didn’t show up until 7.  She didn’t pay attention in class, nor did she read he manual.

We also had new equipment:  an electronic pollbook. .  Supposedly, every voter in the city had their data entered in—except, I guess, for 3 who came out, who were in our precinct, had voter registration cards, who were on the printed poll sheets, and  were in the printed application for ballot book (which the CBOE told us not to use).  The printer for the  electronic  book malfunctioned several times when we had voters waiting, as  did the  cards to activate voting on computer.   We of course, had to  plug stuff in to extension cords, but  the  main one doesn’t have an indicator light  to show whether it is off or on—and that caused problems.  Now, we were experienced, and the board assigns a student familiar with the equipment, and we got things  working ok without too much  confusion…but I know (from the poll watchers traveling around) that most precincts did not.

Then—at the end of the day, we are  supposed to CONSOLIDATE the  ballots—the printed ones from the  ballot counter with the  data from those who voted on the computer (the computer is  not just supposed to  diminish paperwork—which it does—but  the data is much easier to see and change—-so if you make a mistake when you are voting, you just go back, you don’t have to ask for a new ballot).  I have never been able to consolidate the ballots on the first try,  and sometimes  we can’t transmit, sometimes it is because of being in a basement, sometimes, it’s because we are too close to Lake Michigan (about 500 feet away—there are no transmitting towers), but this time,  while another judge was in the process of transmitting, another judge accidentally  turned off the power strip,and then we got a computer error when we attempted to restart it.

No matter…been there done that…I said we just take what we have to election central and they can  figure it out. We can’t. that meant the ‘form 80’—the  election results for our precinct which could not go to every political party—was  not totally filled out, Oh, well.

Because we had to schlep so much back to  ‘election central’ (we volunteers have to deliver  supplies and results) it turned out we were not the only ones who ‘forgot’ to bring the electronic book/peripherals, etc., and had to go back for it. I asked, “How about putting a day glo stick on this that says THIS GOES BACK?”  Of course, the judges laughed and agreed with me, but the poll watchers & the CBOE  employees laughed and  responded, “BUT IT’S IN THE MANUAL!”

So we don’t really know who  our precinct voted for.  With all the early voters and  people voting by absentee ballot—  including the nursing home voters,  and such a low voter turn out do you think  the snafus were statistically significant? I  hope you remember when George Bush beat Al Gore.

Boarding Kennels: Choosing a Good, Humane Place to ‘Store’ Your Dog

March 21, 2014

Things have changed since I started grooming.  It used to be, if the owner didn’t live on site, the kennel manager and his family did.  The best kennels were booked up  six months or more in advance.  Boarding kennel owners were usually  hobby breeders who showed dogs. Sometimes, they were veterinarians or professional (AKC) dog show handlers. Once the kennel was full, that was it.  They didn’t set up extra crates so store dogs in just to make extra money.

I blogged last year  about how to choose a boarding kennel: about touring  the kennel and having your dog stay in a suite or kennel run while you  you toured, asking if there was staff  24 hours;  if there was a lot of barking, or an odor;  who owns the kennel and  are they on site, or are they absentee?  Are the owners involved in dog sports at all, or is this  just a  business to them?

Unfortunately, more and more,  dog businesses are owned by  people who want to own a dog business, but who aren’t necessarily ‘hands on’.  They are  rock stars at business networking events…indeed, anywhere they go and where people ask them what they do.  People have a fantasy in their heads about  what it means to  operate a dog business. But dogs are not their lives. That’s just how it is.

Many  kennels/dog daycare and grooming businesses are owned by  refugees from other industries.  Showing, training, or breeding dogs are not their hobbies.  They know nothing about animal husbandry and  know that most government agencies charged to do inspections are broke or  so understaffed that they will never be inspected—at least not by any inspector who  knows what he is looking at.

I have worked at kennels that were  reasonably run—not well run, but not dangerous…when   it wasn’t vacation season or a major holiday like Thanksgiving or Easter.    At holiday times, when the  kennel was full—and the owner or manager had the option of stuffing more dogs in—it was a nightmare. The fact of the matter is that  in order to capitalize on the opportunity of  idiot dog owners who wait until the very last minute to make boarding arrangements for their dogs, they often charge more for these impulsive types, and  set up crates for  these extra dogs.

Kennels used to be set up where a dog was housed in a kennel pen attached to an outdoor  dog run.  They were set up this way to prevent dog fights.  While it was true that dogs didn’t get a lot of exercise, they got some, and most kennels also had paddock areas  for exercise.  The advantage  of the traditional kennel  is that you don’t have to handle  dogs once they are in the kennel pen:  you have a guillotine door, and you could put food down, or clean, without having to interact with the dog.    Why would you want a boarding kennel set up this way?  Many dogs  don’t like strangers, and the stress of being  in a strange place  stresses them out more, and they lose their bite inhibition.  The set-up is great for these dogs, and intact dogs, or dogs that don’t want to play or who are bullies.

I worked for a hobby breeder who had  inside pens for her dogs, and she had to walk all her dogs out to an outside exercise area. She  purposely set her kennel up this way so she’d have to touch her dogs  several times a day. Something to think about.  Why would you not want to touch your dogs every day?

More and more, the businesses that run  dog daycare, run packs of dogs.  The  dogs usually have to be neutered if over a certain age, and must be social. It is very labor intensive to accept non-social dogs, but because the kennel owners aren’t hands on, they  tend to discount the disruption.  They won’t be honest about nonsocial dogs getting enough  exercise or attention.    Some have  side yard paddocks for these nonsocial dogs, so the nonsocials  can see the pack, but can’t directly interact with them.  This is ok…until the kennel gets busy.  The nonsocial dogs are going to be short changed.

This would not be so bad, but kennel owners who are not hands on  rarely add on adequate personnel. In my state, the law says you are supposed to have  one person for  every six unrelated (this means from  separate household—not genetics) dogs  who are run in a pack.  This NEVER happens.  Some people feel comfortable  with a 10 dog pack, but over that, you are playing the odds that one dog won’t offend another.  It’s dangerous—and in a  space where there isn’t an average of 10 square feet  per dog, no play occurs:  it’s just dogs milling around, possibly looking for a ‘friend’, possibly looking for a place to just hang out and not be bothered.  Is this what you have in mind for your pet?  One of the places I work currently  runs 35 dog packs with 1 person attending.  Another close by has over 50 dogs in their pack, and 2 teenagers  supervising.  Not safe.

But getting back to the busy kennel at holiday time. The manager  sets up crates.  The crates aren’t all Great Dane size, they are different sizes, and if you don’t  know how big your dog really is, your dog may not be able to stand up to his full height or stretch out.   That is the minimum USDA standard—but since nobody’s inspecting, you have to RELY ON THE INTEGRITY OF THE OWNER AND STAFF. Feeling lucky?

Because of the extra dogs, many of whom  have never come to this  place, many of whom  have never been in daycare and run with a pack, and most of whom are stressed out, they won’t be on a regular schedule.  Even is there is one kennel attendant per 20 dogs, it is not enough for all the dogs to  be let out, make sure they all potty, and clean up.    A lot of dogs are going to eliminate in their crates due to stress, and the time that might have been spent on play is taken up with cleaning.   Try to look at it from your dog’s point of view:  why did his  family leave him  in an animal shelter? He doesn’t know you will come back if you haven’t toured and  left him for a few minutes and picked him up. Then, there are the dog owners—our neighbors—who lie about their dog’s health:   their dog  NOT having diarrhea, ear, eye, or skin infections, parasites…. not a pretty picture.

I really don’t want to be prejudiced, but  it’s true:  the kennel owner manager who is likely to be involved in dog performance training and exhibition  is  more likely to take the risks seriously.  My experience has been that the people who just want to say they own or manage a dog business are more likely to  take all comers and  not  care that all the dogs are stressed.

So, how do you find a well run kennel?  Believe me, your veterinarian, unless  involved in dog performance, has no idea. Lots of them  work with puppy mills or own poorly managed kennels and  make money off of stressed pets.  You really have to  network with dog trainers and groomers  who know.  It’s a difficult  position to be in as a dog owner.  What do I do?  If I haven’t  worked in the kennel, I  ask for a tour, and ask all the questions I addressed at the top of the page—-including being allowed to leave my dog in a kennel suite.  I ask dog club members and fellow dog groomers for suggestions. I have also had care givers come to my home to just feed my dogs and let them out if I didn’t have a trusted friend to do so.

If you have doubts about  a kennel or care giver, this is  what you are doing to your dog. Your dog will forgive you if he lives.  I am asking you to be mature, act with integrity, and  plan ahead.

When Your Friends Turn out to not be Friends

March 14, 2014

What actually happened here would be very amusing were it not personally offensive, and hadn’t destroyed several friendships.

We accept our friends the way they are.     Or so I thought. the good outweighs the bad. Some consistently make bad decisions, or decision we would not make ourselves, but what we get out of  our interactions with these people usually out weighs what is annoying about them….right?

Back around September, after my roommate had returned from a business trip,  he resumed getting bitten by insects.   He’s always getting bitten.  This had been going on  for weeks, and I felt it was because he had not changed his linens.    I think it’s a ‘guy’ thing.  I blogged about this (Roaches, Bedbugs, Fleas, and Biostatistics….Dec.13, 2013).   I was getting bitten,  but no more than usual.  I suspected possibly fleas, or spider mites.   However, he had  returned days earlier, and decided to capture some specks on his cushion.  He sleeps on the couch ( long story— there is too much stuff on his bed).  He had been doing some research as he had heard that bedbugs were a  epidemic in Chicago. Indeed, living in an inner city neighborhood, with much multi-unit housing, you see furniture put out on the street all the time—sometimes with  signs taped to them:  BEDBUGS.  We live next to a large multi-unit building that I know has an ongoing problem.  Why ongoing?  With that many people, you can’t  make them get rid of ALL UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE.

In any case, roommate captured  these specks with tape.   I put them in a bag, and I gave them to a friend (Elaine) who volunteeers at the Field Museum of Natural History.  They have insect experts there.  Unfortunately, they turned out to be  Bedbug nymphs—immature bed bugs. We never found an adult.

I informed my roommate, who immediately stripped not just the bedding, but the slip covers off the  couch, and threw them in the wash.  Then, we  put everything in the dryer. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.  Washing—even in hot water, kills nothing.  It does not disinfect, and the amount of bleach you’d have to use would tear up the fabric. YOU MUST  PUT THE STUFF IN THE DRYER AT 140 FOR AT LEAST  HALF AN HOUR.

We also steam cleaned the rugs & floors, took down the curtains, and I bombed the room as well—afraid it was also mites. The dogs never scratched.  My other friend, Karen, who owns a 6 flat that did have a bedbug problem, gave me  names of several exterminators, and I did some research on my own.  All the exterminators said they’d do  VISUAL INSPECTION.  No black light (which is what a veterinarian will do when you think a dog might have external parasites).  They all said they would just look at the walls, look at the folds in  the  furniture upholstery, and that’s how they’d determine if we had an infestation.  I did not feel we had an infestation. They also suggested putting all out clothes and all our linens in the dryer for at least 1/2 hour.  We did not have tenants in out lower flat when all this was occurring.  It was empty.

Having had a dog die of lymphoma due to pesticide exposure about 15 years back (sighthounds—-with no body fat—are very susceptible),after spending $3000 on chemo to try to  get him onto remission,  I  wanted to be conservative.  I had no trouble spending $1000 if we had an infestation, but  I didn’t think we had.  I felt we had taken appropriate action. Things were tense for a few weeks. I asked my roommate at least once a week if he was still getting bitten. After 4 weeks, he felt  sure he was not, that his  itching was from old bites.

I get together with Elaine—and Karen—- who has the 6 flat that had an infestation—- about  twice a month—-at Elaine’s apartment.  Karen, was  relentless and obsessive, but  I would not discuss it with her. I felt I had taken  appropriate action.  We were not getting bitten.  It did not affect Karen.  It was my building.

I clean my  apartment once a week, and I was also in the process of rehabbing my kitchen. I had wanted to host Thanksgiving, for all our friends, but the kitchen was not totally finished. Karen  decided SHE wanted to host Thanksgiving…but her motives were selfish:  Not just was my kitchen not finished:  she, apparently, did not feel safe coming to my apartment due to the bed bug issue.  She hosted Thanksgiving—and  my roommate and I were invited— but she wanted us to put our coats & shoes in a bag if we came over to her house. In fact, she told me that many of our mutual friends were not comfortable with me. Yes:  she gossiped about me and the bedbugs.   None of our ‘mutual friends’  asked me  what was really happening.  I have no idea who she  discussed this with. My roommate was insulted and refused her hospitality, and asked me how I could be friends with Karen.

I had often asked myself this:   Karen is manipulative  in so many ways. We had a break years before.  She’d call ME to make plans to get together, & suggest we talk closer to the date…and when I’d call to finalize logistics, she tell me the plans were tentative and she had something else to do. Many times.  I finally  just stopped calling.  She will often just disregard others feelings.

This was not on my mind at all. My other friend,  Elaine will proudly tell you she never bathes, and she doesn’t own a vacuum cleaner.     She has also gotten kicked off medicare several times for not paying  the monthly  bill—but she  won’t allow automatic withdrawal from her account.  Another ‘friend’ has taken the time to get her reinstated several times. You accept your friends the way they are. Why should this bother me as long as I can’t smell her and I don’t have to spend time  fixing her laziness and immaturity?

I went to Viet Nam  on vacation the last  two weeks in February.   My roommate picked me up at the airport. I asked how things were, as  right before I left, the washing machine had broken and I had also needed car repairs.  Just the day-to-day stuff that affects the lives of people living together, and…”While you were gone, Elaine and Karen came over and asked me to schedule the bug sniffing dog, They said they’d pay for it,” roommate told me, matter-of-factly.

What?

Yes.  Apparently,  both Karen and Elaine had been bothered by this lack of financial proof (i.e. a receipt) that we did not have bedbugs, and  hadn’t felt comfortable socializing with me   since  before Thanksgiving, even  though we had gotten together—gone out for brunch, in my car or Karen’s car, and socialized at Elaine’s at least  four times since Thanksgiving. Worse, it came out, Elaine had gotten bitten by something in her apartment. That’s right–the lady who doesn’t bathe. She was so angry with me, and took the sample of whatever bit HER to the museum, but as soon as she was told that what bit her was not bedbugs—-a miracle occurred, and  she stopped getting bitten.  So, they decided—while I was out of the country, to preserver OUR FRIENDSHIP, they would ask my roommate to do this and pay for it.  Generous of then, right?

& guess what? No bedbugs.  I have a receipt (and roommate has a photo of the dog!).  & Karen, who owes money on her credit cards, is,with Elaine, out $175.    Is this about bedbugs?

Karen’s cat died  of old age several weeks ago, and she had told us all she was not sure she wanted another pet.  She  was getting old and didn’t want to clean the litter box.  I understand. When my Saluki died last year, it really made me think about getting another large dog.  So I did not.  Then, suddenly, Karen reports that a friend of hers who volunteers for a  pet rescue brought over a cat (surprise) for her to foster…no warning.  “Did you  ask her how long the average pet stays in foster?”  I asked Karen.  “No—but that’s a good question.”  End of discussion…. except I guess that Karen thinks because she allowed someone else to take advantage of HER, it was ok to make a decision for me.

If I laugh this off—it never ends.   It’s like me saying, “I am sorry I  do not meet your high standards.  Please run my life and fix my life for me. I am immature and irresponsible”.  & in fact, the friend whom I  went to Viet Nam with told me I was too old to look the way I looked, and I needed a makeover.   Never mind her tenants haven’t paid rent in two months, and she’s admitted to over $50,000 in credit card debt.  I need a new hairstyle and better clothes.   Yes—-all these ‘friends’ think they are  telling me I need to change—for my own good—or because  they can they feel they’ve accomplished something.

I feel like  3 people whom I  spent the most time with have died.  I had such a good time with them, but they, apparently were not having such a good time with me all these years:  I  aggravated them by not doing  what they wanted me to do:  getting  my car detailed, my hair cut, getting a different job.  All sorts of things.  Oh, well, I guess that’s life.

More on Fake Rescues —let the kind hearted beware!

March 7, 2014

While I was out of the country for the past 2 weeks (more on that in future blogs),  several of my posts have gotten a tremendous number of hits.  Now, I am not ‘Style Rookie’, or  one of those blogs that has that many regular followers. At this point, I think there are only about 30 subscribers.  However, on the topics that strike a nerve, I know the links get forwarded frequently by how many titles get hits every day.

The subject of Wright-Way Animal Rescue struck a serious nerve among many people, because so many have adopted animals with serious health issues from them.  There are several  issues that concern me, and that should concern anyone concerned about animal welfare and solving not just the  pet over population problem, but the animal abuse problem in general.  I will attempt to tie this all in.  I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I do want to give you all something to think about.

Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a No-Kill animal shelter.  They pick & choose the pets they save—and even then, because they don’t educate themselves about animal husbandry or think they deserve a pass due to their ‘good intentions’, they  end up  euthanizing a  significant per centage of the  pets they pull from OPEN ADMISSIONS SHELTERS AND POUNDS. Who holds them accountable?  Good question!   Purrs From the Heart  was a cat shelter started by a cat loving couple (I believe the  husband was a fire fighter) in the western suburbs of Chicago within the past  two years. They requested donations-in-kind on Craigslist.  Since I do whatever I can to help shelters and rescues,  and I always have stuff  others can use, I gave them several hundred dollars worth of ‘stuff’.  I knew they were going to use some of the things in their shelter, and some they were going to try to resell to raise money.   They gave me a receipt for tax purposes. Since I am not really a cat fancier and have enough on my plate in general, I didn’t stay in touch with them.  Then,  about 8 months later, via the ChicagoNow/Raining Cats and Dogs blog, I learned they  were being audited as  they had taken over 90 cats from Chicago Animal Care & Control  (CACC) and could not account for any of them.    No records at all.  Who did they go to? Hoarders?  Single families?  Renters?  Did they get released in forest preserves?  How many died?  At this point, nobody knows.  It is only because they got their cats from a legitimate animal pound—Chicago Animal Care & Control—that any inquiry is being made at all.

In Chicago, there are so many  animal rescues.  Many post on PETFINDER, some do not.  Many of the breed specific rescues do not ‘advertise’ at all, and you find them via networking.  They manage with this type of model because the dog breeds they deal with are rare and rarely end up abandoned—- or they  save very few dogs.  One recently legitimized rescue is Famous Fido’s, owned by Gloria Lissner.  I believe she has a board of directors.  Most of her dogs come from the open access CACC, but she gets some from private parties relinquishing control.  I have to give Gloria some respect, but those of us who have worked for her know that she has been shut down by the IRS several times in the past…for not paying taxes. She is  just not a good record keeper.  I have worked for her twice, and quit twice. It was bad enough she had no records on dog grooming clients, and I had to guess about how to groom every  dog.  She also bounced paychecks,  But more:  before the IRS nailed her, she regularly  bought  puppies to resell, and often boasted that she, personally, INVENTED the ‘Teddy Bear’ designer dog (some sort of Shih Tzu cross).  Then she ‘got religion’ and started ‘saving dogs’.  But she still does NOT keep records.  I would guess, via social media, she ‘saves’ between  10—-30 dogs a year.     I don’t know what her adoption rules are.  She is typical of many of the rescues in the metro Chicago area.

She is no better and no worse than PAWS Chicago or any of the other  ‘no-kill’ groups–except that PAWS publishes an annual report and is  somewhat transparent.  Yet…..a group I volunteer with (which  provides humane education  and monitors  animals in the court system) would not agree to  be hosted in their (PAWS)facility because many of us—who volunteer at CACC—have put ‘holds’ on dogs we wanted to adopt and have the holds taken off by PAWS…& that $65 dog was suddenly going to cost us $250 if we qualified to adopt from PAWS.  Why would a group do this? Why  ‘poach’ a dog you know has been spoken for?  I can only think it’s greed.  And—even though CACC still has to euthanize several thousand perfectly healthy and sweet dogs every year, we find PAWS, Wright-Way, and many other local ‘no-kill’ groups ignoring these dogs in favor or either younger, smaller, or other purebred dogs from  out of state:  pulling from Kentucky & Tennessee.  When I’ve ask volunteers for these organizations why they do this,  the retort is always “So how many dogs do YOU rescue every week?”

None.  That begs the question. This is not about what I rescue—it’s about why YOU pass over adoptable dogs.  We know the reason:  NOBODY WANTS THEM.  Given the choice, if people can get younger, cuter, smaller…or purebreds  that are not Pit Bulls or Pit mixes, and say they RESCUED THE DOG (as Oprah Winfrey did with her brown cocker pups), why should they accept any dog in need of rescue?  Yet, these very arrogant people have the chutzpah to question  why I bought a dog who was returned to his breeder.

Meanwhile…the people causing this surplus of dogs, in some cases puppy mills, but in actuality, ‘backyard’ breeders—are not addressed at all.  Nobody would dare confront these  very  stupid—or should I say ignorant, desperate for money BREEDERS and tell them the dogs they breed are going to be killed  or tortured to death before they die of old age.  No joy in that. The joy is in ‘rescuing’ a cute, cuddly puppy!

I have recently learned that  puppy ‘adopters’ responding to this  blog (the original post on Wright-Way),  thought Wright Way (or name any no-kill group)  was OPEN ADMISSIONS, and although they found it odd that all they had was (puppies, small dogs, purebreds…) they thought  that was what  was being given up. They didn’t realize these  were being CHOSEN and older, blacker, larger adoptable dogs were being passed over.

When you  have an idea in your brain, and  don’t have any skepticism, you  start to think the idea you hold is the truth.  You also think that everyone views integrity the same way you do. America is a ‘free’ country. What that means is you can do business pretty much any way you can get away with.    If something is not specifically ILLEGAL   —it is legal. If you want to say you are non-profit when you are not, it’s legal until you get caught.  If you want to call yourself a rescue when you actually buy dogs from puppy mills to resell and call it adoption—(Google Italian Greyhounds…. Rescue Our Mill Pups), you’re free to  do so.  If you  call yourself private rescue, you don’t need a board of directors, nor will you be audited. This is legal. Is it ethical?  I think not, but that’s for you to decide.   One of my friends defended this, saying that at least (the  owner of ROMP) was rescuing, and not everyone  could afford a  well bred Italian Greyhound…which could cost over $2000 from an ethical hobby breeder who  does OFA and CERF clearance on her breeding dogs—which makes those pups more expensive and more valuable.  But, when you buy a cheaper ‘rescued’ IG for  $400 (let’s say), and as that pup matures, the veterinarian tells you the reason it is limping is that it has luxated patellas, and  repairing each knee will cost at minimum $2000…. how do you feel now?  Could you afford rescue?    & was it a rescue when ROMP bought the pregnant dam. and will do so again—as the puppy mill is still in business?  So many  of these puppy adoptors  have told me they didn’t want to support a breeder, when so many puppies die…but did you really plan to support this? Was it honest for the rescue to not inform you of the possibility of genetic defects, which is statistically very high?

Several of these NO-KILL groups have adopted out puppies with parvo.  An immediate $1000+ expense.  Yes, sometimes a bad breeder, who shows dogs but  doesn’t keep a very clean environment, sends out a dog with giardia, or  parvo, but this is why you  have to ask  for references from their veterinarians,  as well as their dog clubs. Yes—an ethical hobby breeder will usually be a member of a ‘parent’ club.  In fact, even the American Kennel Club—a huge supporter of puppy mills—-will only refer people to breeders who are members of their parent clubs!  How ironic is that?

How would you know this?  Chances are, you wouldn’t. The American Kennel Club spends more  money helping commercial puppy mills than it does  marketing ethical hobby breeders to the public.

So, now that is too late for so many people, and your hearts are broken,  what to do?  In Illinois you are entitled to compensation due to a law passed  this year. For more information on this, contact Cari Meyers at The Puppy Mill Project.  She  just recently had a HUGE SUCCESS partnering with Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza to ban the sales of puppy mill/commercially bred dogs in Chicago pet shops. This will  shed a lot of sunlight on how non-profit rescues operate as well.

1. Ask any ‘rescue’ if they are registered with their state as a bona fide non-profit with a tax exempt number;

2. Ask  if they publish an annual report, and/or a list  with contact information for their board of directors;

3. Ask who their veterinarian is;

4. Do they  post on PETFINDER?

5. How long have they been in existence?

6.  Who are their fosters?

7. How many animals do they adopt out in an average year, and how do they follow up on spay/neuter?  What assistance do they give if your dog develops a genetic health issue?  Do they state this in writing?

8. Where do they get their animals?  If not from an open access pound,  why not?  If so, why do they go out of state if they do that?

Finally, ask yourself why YOU aren’t going to the local open access pound.
And why , since you want to rescue a dog that needs a home, you don’t look at the oldest, blackest, largest dogs who have  sat there  for over 6 months. Ans  ask yourself if you have the time to work with this dog and start taking this dog to obedience classes next week. Finally, don’t  expect others to have more integrity than you have.  We see horrible acts perpetrated by people who proclaim  a religious or spiritual ‘calling’ all the time.