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Wednesday, September 12, 2012


     I am trying something new. I have started going to my local shelter in Naples, FL. The shelter is far less overwhelming than the Miami shelter and so much less stressful. I had been driving two hours each way to the Miami shelter... and cannot afford to do that anymore. It made sense to go to my local shelter .. so I did. In Miami they take in over 30,000 animals per year. Collier county is a much smaller place so the intake numbers are dwarfed in size- but, still too large- way too large. They take in over 6,000 animals each year.. that is too many. Between the two shelters- on each coast of the state of Florida - they take in close to 40,000 each year. I believe that is just about double the entire population of people in Naples. Something has to stop.. things have to change... they must.

     One of the things that is very different in Naples versus Miami is the overall shelter design and it makes a massive difference. They have a cage free cat room. I cannot tell you how nice it is to just sit down in a room and snap photos of cats playing -- instead of trying to take photos of crying cats reaching through bars. In the Collier shelter, when I am in the cat room-- I am often covered in cats.. I just sit in there taking photos while little furry bodies climb all over me purring... it is nice.. and sometimes I find myself forgetting-- that they all may not leave to go to homes-- but, they are happy and comfortable as I sit with them.

     Another huge difference is that the dogs are out - a lot. Collier has an amazing and hard working group of volunteers. Some people come everyday just to walk dogs. One wonderful thing that the shelter has is they have multiple outside yards for the dogs- some are open and in the grass and others are under a cover.. but, they have toys and pools ... and room for the dogs to play. It is a much better experience for the potential adopter to meet their potential new family member in one of those outside areas than it is to try and meet them through the chain link.

     My work is changing because of how things are in this shelter.. and I have also been working to make images that are less emotionally dark. I am working to make more images that show the dogs and cats playing and relaxing and just being themselves. I am also working to not just post straight photos, but to post digital pieces-- sometimes a mix of a photo - sometimes the whole thing has been altered... I am just trying to find new ways for people to truly see the shelter animals... to understand them better- to catch the eye of people who want a family member .. and not just someone reacting to a sad photo..

     In working these new images, I decided that there is more that I can do. I want to have a show in the shelter eventually.. it will take so much work.. but, until then I am now starting to offer prints to adopters. I am very limited in funds... so I am working to do one print each month.. to an adopter of someone who takes a dog or cat who has been there a little longer than the others.. one who needs a little more exposure. The first dog is named Champ.. I hope so much that someone comes for him.. I want so badly to be able to hand over a piece of my art to his new family... I hope what I am doing will help.
I will give Champ's adopter a signed print of him.. he is a good dog.. he takes a little bit to warm up, but
once he does he is a very friendly and wonderful dog. He deserves a great home who will
make sure that he never ends up in a shelter again. 

Monday, September 3, 2012


Niky in her cage at MDAS. She was in an area that is not as
readily available to the public. She was crying and
reaching through the bars just wanting to be touched. 
     I'm not a rescue.. I am just an artist. However, not being a rescue does not mean that I should not work to help those that I make art about.  I have fostered and done transports and a number of things on top of the art ... and I try to network the animals that I meet and photograph. I do my best to follow their paths online and through emails - it is just amazing when I get to meet someone who adopted a dog or cat that I took a photo of.. Sometimes I get to meet the fosters who cared for them or people involved with a rescue group who took one in-- it really is amazing to me how hard some people work to save the many dogs and cats who end up in the shelters... it takes a lot of hard work. However, there are times when I meet a dog or cat and in following their path.. I find that they never did find a real home.. some of of these dogs are still waiting - and they are not as safe as some think.

     Until I came to South Florida, I had never heard about the fact that some people will pull dogs out of shelters and put them in boarding.. some dogs stay in boarding for a very long time... some dogs just get forgotten. People can sometimes get so caught up in the moment-- they get that rush of the save-- they sometimes don't ask the right questions of potential adopters or rescues... and then find out later that the dog doesn't really have a place to go.. so they sit in boarding... waiting for the right adopter to come along.. or a responsible rescue to open their doors for them... this is a common occurrence in South Florida. So many dogs just sit waiting and waiting in boarding kennels -- sometimes the bills are not even paid on the dogs and the kennel operators take losses because of that. Some dogs have gotten sick and passed away in boarding- never finding a real home. Sometimes, a rescue will allow someone to use their name to pull a dog- yet, when that dog gets stuck in a kennel-- that rescue is nowhere to be seen-- and sometimes those same rescues allow it to happen over and over again.. sometimes the same people fill up the boarding kennels with dogs simply to save them-- with no regard to how a life stuck in a kennel or crate will truly affect those they 'saved'. I refer to that as "offsite hoarding".
Niky on her way out of MDAS. We were all
so thrilled! She could not stop giving kisses. 

     Along with the great stories in rescue that I have been able to see unfold in front of my eyes-- there are the disappointing stories as well-- whenever I see a dog stuck in boarding .. to me, that is a disappointment. The picture above is of a dog named Niky. Niky is a pit bull and I met her at Miami Dade Animals Service in January of this year (she was illegal due to BSL). I fell in love with her-- she was reaching out and crying- so many do that- yet, something about her really struck me. I snapped a bunch of photos and hoped for the best. Someone did take her out of the shelter - in fact, the day she left I got to see her again on the way out the door.. .. as you can see-- Niky loves people... she hates being a cage.. she needs to be with people.. so I was so happy to see her on her way out and to be going to a foster home... but, I celebrated a little too fast.


Niky in boarding?- this photo was sent to me anonymously-
 I had no part in taking this photo. 
Since January, Niky had been in boarding. She had been waiting for a home this whole time.. it was not fair to her at all. I tried my best to get her image out- to post her. I check in with the foster- who never had been able to take her into her home- yet, told me she had been paying the boarding bill this entire time (she paid over 2k in boarding bills- there was no help given by any rescue) - and every time I checked-- Niky was still waiting for a home- or even a temporary home with a foster. I could go on about what happened and I could give a scathing critique on the events that occurred- but, I want to use this post to talk about the dogs.. to show Niky and to show other dogs-- in hopes that someone out there will see one and be able to adopt or foster... and turn a disappointing stories into a success... and hopefully learn from what is going on.

    I wrote this entry about Niky being stuck endlessly in boarding, but then stopped. I stopped because someone came forward to say they could foster Niky.. in a real home. After waiting on pins and needles for a week- Niky finally was delivered to her foster home. But, the story will not end with her now- Niky is out-- but, the work is just beginning. She is terrified of other dogs to the point of feeling that she needs to defend herself- she is not used to getting enough exercise- and she needs to learn basic obedience. It will take time before she is truly available for a home... but, she is out of boarding- she went from living in a crate- to now living in a real home... and that is a pretty huge accomplishment-- especially for a dog who has been waiting for 7 months or so in a boarding kennel. When she is truly able to be adopted- I will post that.

Niky taking her freedom roll in the grass as she meets her
foster family. She got a much needed bath and they are
already hard at work training her. 
     Besides Niky, there are a number of dogs in boarding at the moment who really need homes or fosters. Below, I will do my very best to post them- since they are so far from me I cannot go personally to visit the kennels -- the information that I have is solely based upon what others give. At the time I post this- I am sticking with dogs that are posted on two Facebook sites dedicated to dogs in the Miami shelter. Again, I could go on about how each one got there - but, for this post - I want just to show some faces who are waiting..  thought to be safe.. are not really.. and I hope that someone might see them.. and be able to help... because, as they say 'rescue does not end with the pull'.

 Please click on links provided for more information on the dogs. (all photos below are taken from the Facebook pages linked to them- most are the original intake photos from MDAS.)

Lucky has been in boarding as long as Niky had been- months- you can find the FB thread on him by clicking here  
Diesel has also been in boarding for months- 6-7 at this point. He is high energy and still fairly young- so the last place he needs to be is in a kennel-- he needs to be in a home with a yard and someone who will teach him obedience. You can learn more about him by clicking here.
Bianca has been in and out of MDAS several times- on her thread someone has stated that she is to be flown to them- but, has she been sent off yet? I am not sure. Please, for more information on her click here. 

Tear Drop has been in boarding for very long time- and is possibly having some medical care. For more information on Tear Drop- and/or if you can help with a home - please click here. 

Salsa has been in boarding since May and needs a real home. If you can help Salsa, please click here for more information. 

Coco is in real need- Has been in boarding since June and appears to have some behavioral issues-- being in a boarding kennel is not the best environment for that.. click here for more information. 

Saibr has been in boarding since June and really needs out!! Please click here for more information or if you can help this little one be free.  
Spike has been in boarding since July with the possibility of being shipped off to another state to an adopter who just appeared on Facebook- I am not sure of the fate of this little dog- but, if you can help please click here. 

Ty has been in boarding since July and desperately needs out and into a real home. Please click on his Facebook link here if you can help him. 

Seuss now called Hayden - appeared to have a foster, but it did not work out. He looks so much better now, but boarding is not the best place for any dog. He has been out of the shelter since May- I am not sure how long he has been in boarding- but, I understand he will need some training. Click here to find out more. 

Kathy has been in boarding since June- if you can help her - please click here.  
Oscar has been in boarding since June and I understand he is a very nice little dog. He needs a real home or a real rescue to take him in. You can learn more about him by clicking here 
I hope this one is wrong. Cindy is just a little baby- and if this is true and she is in boarding.. that means that someone took a dog that had been fostered and then rescued her and put her in boarding. Boarding is NOT a safe place for any baby. But, I am just going by what is listed... I am hoping this is wrong. But, you can see her link here. 

Girl has been in boarding for a long time! It looks like she was in MDAS back in March. I do not know the full story on her, but if she has been in boarding this whole time- that could not be good for her! You can learn more about her on her Facebook thread here. 
Minnie really needs a home! She was pulled out of MDAS back in April.  A chipin was done and there was said to be a plan, but I don't think leaving a dog in boarding is really a plan. I am not sure what happened, but she is needing either an adopter or a truly responsible rescue to take her. You can read more about her on her original thread here. 
Diamond is in boarding and looking for a real home- please click here for information on her. 
Mimi has been in boarding for some time. She really needs a home. You can learn more about her by clicking here. 

I KNOW there are more dogs- but, at this time.. I am sticking solely with the ones who are currently posted online as being stuck in boarding. If you know firsthand of any others- please feel free to add links to them in the comment section.