Hard Times Hit Pups
Today, The New York Times reports on how layoffs and foreclosures continue to drive up the numbers of companion animals in shelters and, in turn, euthanasia rates. It's not a new story and it's something we've been watching here at The BARk but it does seem to be getting worse. One way to help out is by making contributions to the Humane Society of the United States' foreclosure fund, which will provide local shelters and rescue groups with grants to expand the number of foster homes, start a pet food pantry, or provide financial assistance for veterinary care.
Challenges for Backyard Rescues
As more citizens open their homes to foster shelter dogs and support small independent rescue efforts, conflicts with neighbors are bound to increase. The travails of a backyard rescue in Brookfield, Wisconsin, reveal some of the nuts-and-bolts challenges and consequences for activists -- and the electeds who regulate them.
One Final Batch of Tattoos
I haven’t posted any dog-inspired tattoos for awhile, though readers continue to share their body art with us. I've decided I'd to get a few more of these wonderful tributes up on the blog as a final chapter for our dog tattoos story (which originally ran in the March/April 2008 issue). Thanks to everyone for sharing their creations and stories with us. (Remember to click on the image to see an enlarged version.)
Heidi Patten wrote, “I’ve been a BARk subscriber for awhile now and was just recently telling my husband that I needed to contact you guys to inquire when you would be running a story regarding people getting tattoos of their pets. Then, voila, my April issue arrived with your story regarding tattoos.” Heidi got her tattoo in February 2006 for her 44th birthday. “Our Boston Terrier, Duke, came into my life during a very dark and critical time and pulled me back from the brink of hell. I collect gargoyles, so I appropriately turned Duke into my very own personal “demon chaser.” [Top, left.] My husband refers to him as ‘Heidi’s Prozac.’ What more can I say?”
Kathy Forslund of Danville, Virginia, was in her mid-40s when she “finally got up enough nerve to get a tattoo [top, second from left],” she says. “Being a dog lover of course I chose a puppy.” Christine Caplan of Portland, Oregon, got her tattoo in May. “I LOVE my tat SO much and couldn’t wait to share it with the world,” she wrote about her tattoo (top, right). “It represents the legacy of dogs in my life… all of whom I’m madly in love with."
Terrilynn Csorba from Albuquerque, New Mexico, also got a tattoo this spring of her 16-month-old American Cattle Dog–mix named Isaac (far left). A yellow Lab named Sadie (center left) is Cindy Lowry's best friend. They live in Buena Park, California, where Sadie is a certified therapy dog, certified narcotics detection dog and rides a jet ski with Cindy. "She is the love of my life. I say that she 'always has my back'" -- literally! A print from the right front paw of Crafty, a German Wirehaired Pointer, is tattooed on the calf of his 14-year best buddy, Penny Meister from Bend, Oregon.
Danielle Pickett of Albuquerque got a paw in a heart tattoo (far left) in memory of Shasta, a Pekingese who was her best friend for 14 years. David Binder, also known as PugDaddy, lives in Loganville, Georgia, where he and his wife are active in Pug rescue groups. They have four Pugs (three are rescues) and a rescued Boxer, and they are fostering a seven-month-old Pug-mix. The day after Thanksgiving 2007, they lost one of their beloved Pugs in a "tragic household accident." "Totally devastated" by the loss, David had a photographic image of PollyAnna (near left) tattooed on his chest "over my heart."
Feds Seize Food From PETCO Warehouse
Will the pet food industry ever get its act together? Yesterday, federal marshals seized allegedly contaminated pet food from a PETCO distribution center in suburban Chicago. The Food and Drug Administration inspected the warehouse in April and May and at both visits, found "live and dead rodents and birds on or around the pet food containers."
You'd think the third time would be the charm, but the food was again found to be stored in supposedly unsanitary conditions. PETCO vice president of corporate communications Kevin Whalen told the Associated Press the company has "acted aggressively to address each and every concern that was raised" at the government's last visit. Apparently, they need to do more.
This warehouse distributes food to Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. No one has reported any adverse effects in their pets after eating food from PETCO. However, if you live in one of these states, the FDA recommends you take precautions when handling the food. If your pet becomes ill, contact your vet immediately and alert an FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator.
Julia Kamysz Lane
Dog Thought Dumb Saves Boy
Jake clearly had something to prove. The Bailey family of Omaha, Neb., loved him, but thought the 4-year-old black Labrador Retriever lacked smarts. How else to explain his rock obsession or selective listening?
Well, his ears worked when it mattered most. Last Friday, 12-year-old Tony Bailey went for his usual dip in the Platte River. Unfortunately, the water was unusually high and the boy quickly realized he was in trouble. No one heard his cries for help, except for Jake, who came running to the rescue. He jumped into the water, swam to Tony and allowed the boy to hang onto him as he swam back to shore.
Just goes to show that you should never underestimate your dog. Good boy, Jake!
Julia Kamysz Lane
Trouble for Trouble
OK, so I thought it was totally absurd when Leona Helmsley left $12 million in her will for her nine-year-old Maltese. Imagine how many deserving dogs could have benefitted from all wampum? So you'd think I'd be overjoyed to discover that a judge ordered $10 million slashed from Trouble's windfall, funnelling it to a charitable trust and two otherwise high-and-dry grandchildren. Instead, I'm irritated. Obviously, Trouble can manage well on her estimated $190,000 a year but I don't like the idea of some judge making that choice. What if I create a will providing generously for my dogs and a disgruntled relative challenges those provisions as unreasonable because, after all, the beneficiary is merely a dog? This is food for thought and for conversation with an estate planner!
Horrific Dog-Walking Accident
Robert Machin had finished walking his two Boston Terriers in New York City when a passing street sweeper sucked in Ginger -- who was still on leash -- and killed her. (She's the dog in the middle of the photo posted here.) Machin says the driver was speeding. Let's hope the city Department of Sanitation takes this accident seriously and thoroughly investigates Ginger's tragic death.
Julia Kamysz Lane
Summer Safety Tips
Now that the weather is heating up, it's time to dig in the garden. Please do not use cocoa mulch around your plants as it is toxic to dogs who ingest it.
A few days ago, I was walking two of my dogs in my parents' suburban development and suddenly smelled the worst chemical odor. A lawn-care company was spraying a front yard that was a block away and across the street from us. If I could smell it that easily, I can only imagine how offensive -- and potentially dangerous it was -- to my dogs. You might not be able to control your neighbors' choice of fertilizer, but it's well worth looking into natural lawn-care options for your and your dog's health.
With all the rain we've gotten in the Midwest, I've been keeping an eye out for a natural dog toxin: mushrooms. Not all varieties pose a threat, but why risk it? I pick the 'shrooms while on poop patrol and now it's just a habit.
Lastly, please learn from my mistake and do not allow your dog to go swimming in a retention pond. This past week, my Dalmatian, Darby, got really hot during a sunny afternoon walk. Since she loves to swim and we were close to a retention pond, I decided to let her go in for a quick dip. She was only in there for two minutes when she came back to me lame, holding up a bloody front left paw. It was a deep, clean gash along the inside toe, so I suspect it was glass. My poor judgment call required an emergency trip to the vet, stitches and a $320 bill, not to mention poor Darby's pain and suffering.
In talking to other dog owners about my experience, I have heard other horror stories about dogs swimming in retention ponds. One woman told me her dog almost drowned because the suction of a drain was pulling her under. She hadn't been aware of the drain and was prepared to jump in to save her dog. Thankfully, her dog was large and in excellent physical condition, so she managed to make it back to shore. If your dog gets hot, fill up a little wading pool in the backyard or turn on the sprinkler. Your dog will enjoy it and you'll have peace of mind.
Julia Kamysz Lane
Humans, Dogs and Tap Water
It's weird how many times I'll read a report about dog health and end up learning something about human health. Take the recent tap water study by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The goal of this research was to determine if there is a connection between the long-term consumption of water treated with chemicals such as chlorine and canine bladder cancer. While the AVMA's study revealed no connection for pups (whew!), the situation for humans slurping tap water is not nearly as rosy (uh-oh).
Search Dogs to the Rescue, ASAP
There's an interesting story about search and rescue dogs in the current issue of The Forensic Examiner, the official journal of the American College of Forensic Examiners. (You never know where you'll find worthwhile canine news.) John Lechliter reports that studies frequently show search dogs are the most effective way to find missing people. That's probably not a big suprise to BARk readers. What is surprising is how often authorities hesitate or call in search dogs only as a last resort. Lechliter says dogs should be an early option and that volunteer SAR teams deserve greater visibilility and support. Hear, hear!