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Monday, November 26, 2012

Talk with a donor.....

     With all of the talk about dogs in boarding I thought it would be interesting to talk with a donor who had donated to dogs who ended up in boarding. I met Elizabeth Lehman Jacobson on Facebook after she was voicing concerns over dogs that she was finding out where stuck in boarding. She was very concerned about the welfare of the dogs that she had helped donate to the care of and I asked her if she would be willing to talk about the situation from the viewpoint of a donor... she agreed.. and I thank her for that. I know that in the social media dog rescue world, people can be very quick to judge at times and many people do not feel comfortable talking about bad or questionable experiences for fear of being ostracized.

     I asked Elizabeth about how she first stepped into the role of being a donor. She explained that she  used to volunteer as a dog walker in New Jersey and loves dogs, but having a family meant that she was not in a position to give her time or to foster. Last April, she discovered the Urgent Dogs of Miami (UDOM) on Facebook and felt that she could make a difference in saving the lives of the dogs in the Miami Dade Animal Services (MDAS). UDOM is an all volunteer group who has spent countless hours posting the intake images from MDAS and using Facebook to promote the dogs for adoption or rescue. They offer an immense service to the dogs in helping them be seen to a wide audience. She would see the dogs that were in danger of being euthanized and would see people posting for help so then would often times pledge $200 to help save the dog. She said that she did this several times and said "I felt such a wonderful flood of emotion. I really felt like I was a part of something good."

     On the threads on UDOM and other pages that have since popped up, people will post pledges (offers to donate) and then the rescuers will often times post an online fundraiser called a Chipin. A Chipin is created through the site that allows someone seeking donations to create a page with a story and pictures with a running total of donations. The creator of the Chipin uses their Paypal account for the money to be sent with an easy to use donate button that links directly to pay them. It was when my images from my art project started appearing on Chipins that I first was introduced to them.  I wanted to know if the donors are only giving to the Chipins which can be easily traced or if they are being contacted and giving other ways. Elizabeth told me that the more she donated, the more she was being tagged on photos and the "sadder the stories get." She would get private messages as well as texts asking her to donate and that nearly all of her donations were sent to Paypal accounts "even when the groups say they are 501c3 rescues. I donate more for the injured dogs so they usually put the vet's number for those."

     As an artist who has taken the photo of and made art about some of the dogs in MDAS on UDOM and those that have had Chipins created to help them,  I have been disappointed in some of the results since some have ended up in boarding and some I have no idea of what truly happened to them. I wanted to know more about what a donor knows about the rescues of the dogs that they are giving money to save. Elizabeth said that once a dog was stated as being safe on a thread that meant that they are safe in a foster home and that meant that they were getting the needed care and support while they were in the foster home. When dogs were injured or sick there was more follow up on them following donations. She said that in those cases, she would get more follow up information including photos sometimes. The more that was donated tended to mean the more follow up information was given. She was becoming concerned when she wanted to see some happy post adoption photos of the dogs. Many times rescues will post those photos on their pages and she was not seeing them for dogs she had donated to. "I started wondering where the dogs I was helping were going, and I know rescues usually have a happy endings and a needs a home folder on their website, so I started looking for the dogs I had donated to and I never could find them on the page of the group that had taken responsibility for the dog. A few I know where adopted right away and a few I know needed long term rehab. But a lot, I have no idea what happened to and where they have gone. I emailed many of the people on the threads who seemed to be in charge of the rescue and some don’t answer and some say, oh yes they are with me (no pictures or anything) or oh, they went to so and so rescue. I never could find them being networked for adoption on these rescue sites, sometimes, but rarely. I didn’t think much of it honestly, I don’t know why, I am streetsmart, but it never occurred to me not to trust these “rescues”, never even crossed my mind."

     In June, Elizabeth received and email from a 'co-online' rescuer with a picture of a dog stating that the dog had been abandoned in a boarding kennel for a couple of months. She said the pictures upset her very much since they showed images of dogs with skin issues and they were sitting in crates in a hallway. She was told that some had been there for nine months. I want to also state that I saw some of the pictures and had posted one previously in my story about Madison the pitbull... because, she was one of those dogs. After seeing the photos, she said she felt ill and that she "probably unknowingly funded this type of thing." The donor felt compelled to look into things more closely. She had been donating now to the Miami dogs for three months now and wanted to know why dogs she had donated to save where sitting in crates in a boarding kennel when she thought that they were safe in rescue. 

     What Elizabeth discovered was that at least one rescuer "was a known felon .... and the dog was not listed on her sight as for adoption, so no one was even trying to find her a home. Then I found out rescues pull dogs out of the shelter for people not in their rescue and just leave them to that person, so they don’t take care of vetting them, they don’t set up foster homes.  And anyone can say they are a rescue, it doesn’t mean they are an actual group.  They just pull them and dump them. Then I found out what a business it could be, you get rescue discounts for pulling and transporting dogs, get the dog out unaltered so you can “charge” for the surgery, set up a chipin and collect all that money, set up a tab at the boarding places (who also transport and charge for bathing and other things) and eventually just leave the dogs or they disappear. Sick or injured dogs get more money as well as dogs with babies. This is what had happened in this case, the dog had 9 puppies and the puppies were adopted off and the mom was left to rot. We still cant find her and the rescue will not tell us where she is and she is not on their website or at their adoption events. Now it seems as if more are hoarder boarders than actual rescues and I deleted myself from all the web pages and blocked people that still tag me because I don’t trust anyone. I do rescue with one other person now, one dog at a time. I give the funding, she does everything else, including fostering and finding them a home."
The Chipin for a dog named Tamara. She was in MDAS with her puppies. You can link to the Chipin here however, most of the information has been deleted off of it. 

The initial Chipin stated that Tamara and her family was going to a rescue. You can see this in the smaller print of this screenshot at the bottom. I took this screen shot when I was asked about some puppies stuck in boarding. One of the babies had died before a reputable rescue took them into their care. The mother was still in boarding when her plight resurfaced on Facebook... the creator of the Chipin removed the information on the bottom stating she was going to a rescue (Helping Paws22 is the name of the rescue, on the Chipin it states the name of the woman who runs the rescue who many in online rescue are familiar with). I contacted the rescue and asked about the situation and was told that she never intended to take the dogs in and that they were to be taken care of by an independent rescuer named Maggie Rodriguez. The Chipin was created by and the email used appears to belong to a women in Orlando named Juliana Venturini Coimbra who often creates Chipins for Miami dogs. I do not know if the donators were told at any point that the rescue that the dogs were advertised to be going to - was not going to take them. I also do not know if the full amount given to the care of this particular family was given completely through the Chipin site. It is possible that more money was given if it were given directly to the Paypal site, boarding kennel or to a vet. I have been told by the independent rescuer (Maggie) who does have a rescue called Luv My Furbaby Sanctuary that Tamara was sent to a rescue who had a facility, but did not put her into the facility. It was later stated that she was adopted.. however, I have not seen any post adoption photos of her so I cannot say to any degree what condition she is in. 
One of the images taken from just one of the boarding kennels where MDAS dogs have been ending up for months. This is the picture that was sent to me from an anonymous source. In this picture you can the dog Madison (formerly Niky) who I have written about previously. I understand that the other dogs in the crates were also former MDAS dogs, although I do not know which dogs are in the crates. 

     Elizabeth does not know how many dogs that she has donated to have ended up in boarding or in non safe situations. She is unable to find the status of or the responsible party for a number of dogs that she has donated to. At the time I talked with her, she had donated over $6,000 to rescue dogs. She is afraid that she has helped fund "further torture and pain" for some of them. Of the dogs that she has donated for she was sure about the outcome on a total of four of them. One of the dogs that she had donated to she had given $250 to get him out of the shelter and the medical care that he needed. She gave $200 to a dog that was stranded in boarding by one rescue and then that dog was just sent to another boarding kennel. One dog that she donated to was one that she believed to be going to a rescue. Later, she was contacted by the boarding kennel asking to help find the dog a home since she was abandoned at the kennel - abandoned since no one was paying the fees any longer. She and others spoke up about that situation and a rescue named Heidi's Legacy stepped in to take the dog who was put into foster and adopted shortly after. The fourth dog she had paid the pull fees and had offered to pay ten days in boarding for quarantine on the condition that a foster was in place. She was contacted by a woman who said that she would get him out and foster so she called the boarding kennel and sent them money to pay for the quarantine and the transport of the dog thinking that a rescue was behind the foster. She then discovered that the woman who took the dog was not a rescue and that woman refused to disclose the name of the rescue used to pull the dog out of the shelter. She said that the woman also told her that she did not have time to find him a home and that there was no money for his vet care and no rescue supporting her to do home checks or promoting him for adoption. Since she was now much more savvy about what was going on, she knew that action had to take place for the sake of the dog. "I knew what was happening because of these prior incidents and I immediately took steps to find him a real rescue group. I claimed ownership and full financial responsibility for him and turned him over to a good rescue. He was taken to a real vet and a good boarding kennel where they actually walk him, but he is still in boarding, although he is being networked and I do trust the group to find him a real home."

     I knew that Elizabeth had been involved with a dog named Minnie that was pulled from MDAS. In May, Minnie was part of a group of six dogs that were being taken from the shelter and a $1,000 Chipin was created. Minnie looked to have been used for breeding and possibly fighting. She had scars on her body and her teeth appeared to have been filed down. Minnie was one of the dogs that she had received pictures of that were in the boarding kennel and she was told that the person who owned the kennel had taken her into his own rescue. (I did look and have not found a registered non profit rescue at the address of the kennel- however, if someone does have the information of the name of the rescue and a link to where it is registered in the state of Florida.. please let me know.) Minnie was taken out of the shelter by an approved rescue who is able to pull from MDAS, because the boarding kennel is not an approved rescue who can take dogs from the shelter. Basically, the rescue who pulled Minnie and others has put their reputation on the line in order for the dogs to be taken out under their name and I would hope that any rescue who allows this to happen is checking out the rescues that they are allowing their name to be used for pulling. I would also hope that the rescue who allowed this pull and others is truly looking out for the welfare of the dogs that they are allowing others to take using their name. 
Screen shot of the Chipin that Minnie was a part of. I was told that in the end $1,000 was collected .... if that is the case, some must have been given directly to the Paypal account(s) bypassing the Chipin site or given directly to the boarding kennel or rescue. 
This is Minnie's intake picture at MDAS that was used on the Chipin. 

One of the other dogs in the same pull and Chipin that Minnie was a part of. I do not know the fate of this dog or the others. I also am not sure why some pictures are missing. You can link directly to that Chipin

     Upon finding out that Minnie was living in a boarding kennel four months after being saved from MDAS, Elizabeth looked for help in getting her out of the kennel and into a true home. She provided financial assistance to a rescuer who was able to help Minnie. Elizabeth has told me that the boarding kennel and the approved pulling rescue felt they had done nothing wrong, but did not want people to know what had happened so she and the rescuer had to be very quiet about the re saving of Minnie. Once she was out and in their care, Elizabeth stated that she was not in the best of health. 

     "Once we got her she was taken to a vet. She had worms, a broken foot, three inch long nails, collapsed feet, had been eating rodents and was dehydrated. She was also bleeding vaginally and lactating. 2 vets said it appeared she had just had puppies but they could not prove it without the puppies. She was in boarding 4 months, enough time to get pregnant and wean a litter of puppies. No one will admit to any pitbull puppies. The foster got her healthy and found her a great home, she has been there a week and is making good progress. During this time the foster was threatened with legal action (stealing the dog) should she tell people what happened and constantly harassed via phone and email. I myself have never been threatened, and I attribute that to the fact that I am not from here and I am not a rescue with things to hide and potentially be uncovered..... " She has heard horror stories involving people who have spoken up, but seeing how this can be a business to some it is not surprising to her. I have not posted the name of the foster due to the issues stated - but, I do want to take a moment to thank them for helping Minnie. 

Minnie once she was taken from the boarding kennel and into a home. I was told she looks even better now. This was over 4 months AFTER being taken from MDAS. If you look at the sag of her underbelly and compare it to the intake picture above.... it does make me wonder how she appears to have more post puppy sag than she did while in the shelter. Did she have puppies once she left MDAS? 

Minnie now lives a very good life. She is no longer in danger of losing her life in a shelter or of losing her mind in a cage at a boarding kennel. 

     Now, before you start to think rescue is all bad. It is not. Not all boarding is bad. Boarding can be a very useful tool for rescues who need a short term place to keep a dog while arranging transport or to juggle fosters to find a home. Some boarding kennels do a great job in giving the attention to dogs that they need. Elizabeth has had some good experiences in donating to rescue. In the end of March she said she came across two dogs needing immediate help. She worked with another person to pay for the fees and some quarantine time in a boarding kennel. After a quarantine period. they were sent to fosters and were adopted before a month had even gone by. She had received pictures of the adoption and follow up pictures of the dogs in their new homes. She felt the whole experience was worth it and very happy with the outcome. Good rescues do happen and in truth, they far outweigh the bad.

     Because good rescues happen all the time, my intent on sharing this information is NOT to scare people away from donating to rescue dogs and cats in shelters. What I want people to get from this is that we all need to be careful and that we all need to the voice for the dogs and cats when they need us to speak up for them. To be silent is just wrong. In order to donate wisely and therefore safely for the dogs, there are things that can be done to do the best to ensure the best outcome for your donation money. When Elizabeth was online she would see posts by other people in the rescue community and it seemed to her that some were writing very critically of others at times. "I just figured it was because there are strong personalities in this type of work, but now I know it is because they all have dirt on each other and it is a complex political system having nothing to do with the well being of the dogs, but more to do with a persons name looking good or bad and maybe getting more money." One main thing I would suggest is that if you, as a donor, see this you may want to do some real research on the groups who are both being talked about and those who are doing the talking. You may find that it is just junior high antics, but there may be more to it. 

     "If you ask questions, it is frowned upon and you will be ostracized from the groups. In the beginning I asked several questions and made noise about this dog because I thought everyone would jump to action and be outraged, they should have been but not many people seemed to care, and people started emailing me privately to talk badly about others and then probably do the same about me, it was very immature and not the sort of thing I expected.  I called the news, I emailed shelter directors, UDOM admins, made up my own posts trying to find the dog a home and posted to crossposting sites. In my mind, I guess I expected police to be called, people to be banned from rescue, but no, turns out 2 months of solitary confinement in a cage is NOTHING. The woman in charge of the fake rescue did call my questions drama as did several others about other dogs I looked into. The rescues I have worked with before welcome questions and several (for example mookie and brandy) send updates about all their dogs and have great websites where you can see the dogs being networked. If there is a problem they will come right out and ask for help. I thought it was so strange that people were offended that I asked where the dogs were, now I know, it is an extremely touchy subject, you do NOT ask about the status of dogs because the people down here either are crooked or are OK but afraid of people starting rumors." This is another example of something to watch  out for. If you ask questions - a good, quality, honest rescue is not going to frown upon it. If a rescue does not answer your questions and instead states that you are causing drama - look to another rescue. A good rescue does not call drama on legit questions. Also good rescues will post updates on dogs. Not all rescues will have pictures and stories on every dog or cat that they adopt out- that would be impossible as not all adopters are going to share. However, good rescues WANT to brag about the positive life saving work that they have done. They WANT people to see the outcomes. Good rescue celebrates and shares - bad rescue hides the outcome. 

     A rescue that is the best of the dogs will ONLY take as many dogs as they can safely house and care for wether in their own facility or foster homes. Boarding can be used, but dogs should not be warehoused in boarding kennels - this is offsite hoarding... hoarding dogs on another person's property. Elizabeth's own dog is a rescue and was living at a doggie daycare prior to her adoption. She was in a quality facility and received the attention and good overall care and that is a very different from keeping dogs in cages for hours on end. As the saying goes 'there is a fate worse than death' and in Elizabeth's words "I really think it is more humane to euthanize an animal than to confine it in a crate for months on end with no walks, vet care, play, attention. I think that fate is far worse than death and it makes me sick to think of sentient beings living this way. Rescuing more dogs than you can afford or foster is irresponsible and I have no idea why it is not illegal and citable." When you give to a rescue make sure they are being responsible on the care, keeping, and adoption of their animals. If they are simply hiding dogs and warehousing them - look to another rescue to give to. 

     Give to those that you trust. Trust them because they are doing the right thing and they offer some transparency in how things are being run. You can and will become emotionally involved by following rescue on social media. Please keep in mind that if you become emotionally attached and just start to give money without research on who you are giving to - you may possibly be putting the dog in danger. The dog may end up abandoned in boarding or even end up being sold to a buncher for research,  breeding, fighting or a number of other things. Remember those that do wrong will want people who are emotionally involved to donate... it works to their benefit. If you find quality rescues to work with, you can take the dogs that you see in danger and send them links- offer to donate to the trusted rescue if they help that dog. They may not always have the room- keep more than one trusted rescue on mind and keep trying. The rescues are professionals at what they do and you should trust them to do the work. If you are wanting to financially support rescue - support trusted professionals - it is the best investment for your money. 

     Elizabeth says to donate to rescues who you trust and who you have been watching. She said to give to those who post the updated pictures and do their best to show and celebrate the victories. Also she says to keep records of all dogs that you donate to and to keep track of their progress. Remember, you cared enough to invest in saving their life... please remember to invest in their safety. 

     In Florida you can check to see if rescues are even registered as non profits in the state by using Look under document searches and under the first choice you can see to the right it will pop up with different ways to search. you can use that to search if the rescue's name is listed and/or if individuals are listed as running rescues. If you see one that is not active and not listed and they are saving dogs from the shelter and asking for donations - beware. Also, although everyone is new at some point, check to see when they first registered. If they are brand new and pulling dogs left and right - beware. If you live outside of Florida check with the state that the rescue is listed in. Not all rescues are 501c3 status. You can verify those that say they are by using the website of the IRS and searching for registered non profits. When you see Chipins being made check the Paypal address that your donation is going to. Is the email address the same as the rescue that is listed on the Chipin? If not- think long and hard about wether it is the right place to give to. (If the listed rescue is a 501c3, you cannot get a tax write off if you are donating to an individual rather than to the rescue directly.) Always check the website/Facebook/Petfinder etc. pages of the rescue to make sure they are posting their dogs/cats for adoption and posting updates on those that they say have been adopted. Check with the local shelters/animal control to see if the rescue is approved to pull from them and if not- you have to wonder why they cannot pull from their local animal control. If the rescue has a facility go and visit it- if they do not let you in- do not donate. Also, check out who is creating the Chipins.... is it the rescue who is taking in the money or someone else. If it is an individual ask why they are taking the money and if they are not local ask them why they are working in a different city and how they will be able to help dogs so far away from them if something goes wrong. 

     There is very little to no oversight on rescues. You have to be vigilant in doing your own research to make sure that you are supporting safe rescue for companion animals. Giving to rescue is so important, needed and rewarding if done with reputable rescues. I want people to donate - and I want those who do to be proud of what they do. Donations do save lives.... if given to the professionals... the real rescues.. the ones who know how to save lives and do it safely. Giving a dollar can save a life ... giving some time to make sure the rescue is done right will make sure the life saved is quality and worth living... I am sure that Minnie appreciates the follow up she got. 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

No myth here.

Image of a cat I created from photo taken at the Miami shelter - this cat was recently returned and is in need of a home. 

As I type this there are 368,464 pets listed on the site. Of those, 185,011 are dogs and 168,517  are cats. The numbers will most likely change by the time I am done writing this and most certainly will differ by the time you read this. The numbers are only a glimpse into the problem of homeless companion animals in our country. They do not give a full view of the true overall total of animals needing homes. These numbers are taken from a single page that promotes adoption and do not include the numbers in the shelters and rescues who advertise elsewhere. It also does not include the number of animals needing homes that individuals have listed on Craigslist or other want ad sites. In addition, it does not even begin to touch the numbers of companion animals dumped and living on the streets, those who are in need of saving that have no one to advocate for them, and those who are just killed before they even have a chance to be taken to a shelter for adoption. It certainly does not include the many dogs and cats in sanctuaries or rescues that will never be adopted for various reasons and it does not even cover those who are hoarding dogs and cats who have yet to be stopped.  We have a problem. Some are trying to sweep the massive and obvious numbers of animals needing homes under the rug. The fact is, we have an overpopulation of animals needing homes and a severe under population of people who care to adopt and can give them homes. We live in a society that treats our pets like disposable fast food containers – use them and toss them away. 

Image created from photo I had taken at the Miami shelter. 

Because of the mass numbers of animals entering shelters yearly --estimates put it at 6-8 million animals-- there are just too many. Of those animals entering shelters, it is estimated that around 4 million will be killed. Some will be put into gas chambers and suffer a horrendous death, while others will receive an injection and die from an overdose of a drug such as sodium thiopental. It is horrible and I don’t think there is anyone out there that would celebrate the mass numbers of animals dying in our shelter systems. However, there is movement that is playing on the emotions of those who find this an atrocity and use the horrible truth as a curtain to hide behind, while they seek to destroy the many groups who work to better animal rights and even those people who work in the shelters. One of the main mantras of  group called No Kill Nation, No Kill Advocacy Center and the man, Nathan Winograd, that inspired the movement, is that there is no pet overpopulation. Obviously, to believe that, a person must have never looked at the mass numbers listed on a site such as Petfinder or have never walked the halls of overcrowded shelters. Certainly, they have never visited rescues and sanctuaries that have animals that have been waiting for years to be adopted. I have. Unless we, as a society, start fixing our pets and stop breeding for just a moment- millions of animals will continue to die. Groups such as No Kill Nation need to stop the propaganda and start facing the fact that shelters and rescues are full. There are too many dogs and cats and it is about time we take stronger steps to fix animals instead of simply focusing on only the euthanizing of animals and using it as a divide in the animal rights movement. 

Longhaired Dachshund image from Miami Shelter.

The group that consistently spouts the idea that overpopulation is somehow a myth is completely in denial about the fact that people pick their pets not solely based upon their best fit, but oftentimes pick pets based upon look or desire to have a certain color, size, breed, etc. It is evident in the fact that shelters are so full that people are not being responsible in picking their companion animals and caring for them long term. Of course, we are in a terrible financial time and that makes it even more important to address the overpopulation from the start, rather than the end result. Shelters are simply a Band Aid for an overflowing problem of overpopulation. Shelter animals are mass victims of the financial crisis with people losing jobs and homes it contributes greatly to the intake in shelters along with the other various reasons that animals are put into shelters. So why continue to add to the numbers of dogs and cats knowing that millions die because not enough people want them and there is not enough room to house them? 
Yorkshire Terrier- image created from photo taken at the Miami shelter.

I am just sick to death of reading this group’s new mouthpiece who keeps posting anti-HSUS and anti-PETA articles on any site he can find to post them. If the group No Kill Nation and Nathan Winograd truly cared about the overall safety of the shelter animals, they would be attacking those who are contributing to the problem rather than large groups who work to put the problem into the light. Instead, they spend their days trying to convince people via social media that overpopulation is a myth and find people to write the articles to attack the large animal right’s groups in such a way that would make Rick Berman glow like the aftermath of a 3 hour orgasm. In a recent anti-HSUS post on the Huffington Post, they used the source of to help defend their attack on the use of donation money by the HSUS. However, the irony is that No Kill Nation and the No Kill Advocacy Center are not even listed on that site themselves. Based upon their own description on their own sites, they are advocacy groups. It is stated that donations go to education, reform and shelter reform initiatives – so is that not the same kind of group that HSUS, ASPCA, PETA etc. are? Are they not all advocacy groups of one form or another? So why attack one group for not giving all of its money to local rescues, if they themselves do not do it either? And why pretend that we do not have an overpopulation problem? Could it be because there are people behind the group that have a vested interest in seeing organizations who work to expose animal abuse and influence legislation be destroyed? Could that be the real reason that they want us to believe that overpopulation is a myth? Would it be of benefit to certain groups if people were to believe that there is no overpopulation? And worst of all why in the hell are they using the mere existence of puppy mills as some indication that there is no overpopulation problem - the defense of puppy mills is reprehensible. 

Beagle mix puppy- image created from photo taken at the Miami shelter. 
Just because there are homes wanting pets does not mean that every pet should be in those homes. In the shelter system, there is a disproportionate number of some breeds as well as colors and sizes. I have six dogs and I love them all dearly. Two of my dogs are very large and came from the Miami Dade Animal Services. I have spent a lot of time in that shelter taking photos for artwork that I make about shelter animals. In walking the halls, it is easy to see that there are too many large dogs. In talking to adopters, I have found time and time again that they most often want small dogs or puppies and most people are not interested in black cats at all. I love my big dogs, but I would be insane to believe that they are the kind of dog that would fit into most households. It is evident in the fact that I adopted the first (Sylvia Miami) as a baby. She was there with siblings who were adopted by other people. Months later, after they had time to grow to over 60 pounds each, one was returned. I had to adopt her, of course, and now Beula Jenkins is a part of the family. It is obvious that the initial adopter did not do their homework when adopting Beula Jenkins as a puppy. It happens all the time. Just because there is a home open does not mean that home is a good home. In Beula Jenkins’ case, she was lucky and now weighs almost 100 pounds and is loved every day. Not every home could handle a 100 pound dog. Because of that, large dogs die at alarming rates in shelters and sometimes sit for years in rescues waiting for homes. In Miami, there are even high numbers of dogs – mostly large dogs- sitting in boarding kennels after people have pulled them out of the shelter with no plan for them, so, of course the numbers of homeless animals don’t even begin to touch those poor souls. 

Pointer- image created from photo I had taken at the Miami shelter.
As I type this, there are currently full breed and mixes of 20,085 Pit Bulls, 4,932  Siamese cats, 8,153 boxers, 595 Persian cats, 30,736 Labrador Retrievers, 18,537 Chihuahuas, 105,064 domestic shorthair cats, and 3,679 poodles needing homes. To deny that overpopulation does not exist simply helps those that continue to contribute to it feel better. If the consumer believes there is no overpopulation, then it will benefit the income of those contributing to the mass numbers of companion animals needing homes. With 372,837 homeless companion animals listed on one single website - I would say that we do have a problem. Especially since that number went up by 319 in the time it took me to write this. I want no kill shelters- I just want to get there without the propaganda… the truth is enough. 

One of the many large dogs that fill the numerous kennels in the west wing. Image created from photo taken at the Miami shelter.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to mark your photos

I did a post last month about a despicable person who was using others' photos to collect money for dogs that she did not have and had nothing to do with. It is SO important that anyone posting images online of shelter animals mark them to help avoid slime balls from stealing those photos and using them for fraudulent fundraising or other nefarious activities. Below is a step by step process for doing a simple mark on your photos to help you keep your work protected. I am showing the instructions using Gimp because it is a free photo editing program that can be downloaded from the internet. (just google it) The steps are basically the same if one is using Photoshop.

Step one: Using your already saved image, choose "New Layer" under "Layer" - it will bring a box up and just hit ok. You will see a New Layer at the top of the layers box. If it is not at the top just use your mouse to place it there- otherwise it will be buried underneath the top layers. 

Choose New Layer from the drop down

You can see that you have a new layer to work with - the new layer shows on the top right 

Step two: Choose the Text Tool. It is in the toolbox and is the "A". Once you have clicked on it click on your image and the Gimp Text Editor will pop up.

A = the text editor

Once the text editor is chosen, just click on the image and the text editor box will appear. 

Step 3: Type in your text. I like to put my name and website. If you are taking photos at a specific shelter, you may want to put the name of the shelter - their website- your name.. anything that will help identify the photo. 

Typing in the box will appear on the image.

Step 4: Position the text on the image by using the guides. As you hover over the text on the image, you can choose to push the edges out and up or down or reduce the size of the box that the text appears in. 

Use the guides to put the text where you would like it to appear.

Step 5: Choose the size and color of the text in the tool box.

You can change the size of your text by using the up and down arrows next to the size. Make sure that you adjust your text box on your image accordingly. 

Change the color by clicking on the color section in the toolbox. A box pops up and you just choose which color you like best. 

Image with adjusted size and color for text.

Step 6: Choose opacity. You can decide if you want the text to be very strong 
of lessen it by making it less opaque.

With the opacity set at a lower % the text can still be seen, but does not disrupt the overall image.  

showing at 100% on opacity makes the text solid and easily seen, but can be distracting to the overall image. 

Step 7: Flatten and save. 

Choose Flatten under Image to combine the layers. 

Once the image is flattened, you will see only one layer showing in the layer's box 

When you save your image, notate that is the marked image so that you can easily identify it from the original version. 

This just a very basic way to do the marking of photos. You can actually design a logo or saved text to be added to the image. This is just an easy way to help people protect their photos and to help stop the criminals from ripping off the images online. The best way to get people to stop stealing is to make it harder for them to do so. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Madison the Princess Fairy Pit Bull

Once upon a time by the ocean in a magical palm treed land full of art deco and convertibles lived a pit bull by the name of Niky. Niky had a hard life from the start since she was born into the kingdom of Miami. In Miami, the people decided that they were scared of pit bulls and deemed them illegal. Poor Niky lived in fear since she was not legal to live in the city by the ocean. One day, while she was still recovering from her last litter of puppies, she found herself in a terrible situation. Niky was put behind bars in the dog jail where homeless, unwanted, and illegal dogs were sent after the people of the land of Miami did no longer want them. 
The door to dog jail that Niky was taken to. 

Dog jail was a very terrifying place – especially for Niky since she was illegal because of how she looked. Niky was put into a small cage where she cried and reached out to anyone who came near her.

The dog jail
 “Help me!” She cried out to anyone she saw “Please help me! I do not belong behind these bars! Being caged like this is so horrible and terrifying. Please let me out. I promise I will be good—please, just let me out!” Niky’s cries could be heard above all others in the room full of other dogs that also sat behind bars awaiting their fate. Not every dog made it safely out of dog jail and Niky knew that.
Niky in dog jail

Not too long after Niky found herself in prison behind cold stainless steal bars, the other inmates began to fall ill.  A horrible, deadly, and painful disease had made its way into the land.. it was brought into the prison by one of the poor dogs whose people had failed it and not given it a preventative shot.. but, many other dogs were failed as well.. and soon the deadly disease of distemper made its way through the building. One by one the dogs became sick, but not Niky. Niky felt strong and determined to live and dreamt that one day she would be free of her prison .. if only she could survive distemper she knew she could be free from living behind bars and in a home where she was loved and in a land where she would be legal.
Niky trying to show what a good girl she was by giving kisses
 Niky did not know it, but an artist had taken her photo one day and was very moved by the cries of Niky the illegal pit bull. The artist lived in a land where pit bulls were not illegal, because the people there knew not to be scared of them.. they knew better. But, the artist did not know what to do to help poor Niky. All she could do was to put her picture up on an enchanted online site called Facebook. She put her picture up and hoped that just the right person would see her and set Niky free from the prison that was sucking the poor pit bull’s soul dry. The artist was worried that the distemper had taken Niky, but she found out that Niky was a survivor and was very happy to know that.
Niky just asking "please save me?"

Niky looking at the artist

One day the artist went to the dog jail to visit the inmates when she saw something amazing… Niky was leaving the confines of her prison cell- she was free! The artist was so happy.. she thought Niky would have a wonderful life… but, she was wrong.
Niky saying hello to the artist's friend on her way out- and celebrating her leaving the dog jail.

Niky did not go into the arms of a waiting and loving family. Niky, instead, was put into a new cell.. behind new bars. She found herself in another kind of prison.. this one was called a boarding kennel. The fairy Godmother who was going to take Niky into her home and foster her until a real home came, was not able to do so. The artist did not know right away the fate of Niky, but when she did her heart broke. However, the artist knew that if she kept posting Niky’s picture on the enchanted site that one day just the right person would see her – and wisp her away from a life behind bars.

Many months went by as Niky waiting patiently behind bars. Each day she dreamt of the day she would be free to run and roll in the grass. She prayed for the day a person would come and save her from the confines of her prison. Each day she stayed behind the bars, she became more and more sad… each day she was there she found it harder and harder to stay positive.
Niky in dog jail #2 (I did not take this photo- not sure who did so am not sure who to give credit to) 

Even though they had only met briefly, the artist thought about Niky every day and she kept posting her picture each month with hopes that just the right person would see her and help. The artist would check in on her through the enchanted facebook messages and hoped each time that she would have been adopted. But, it never happened – each time she checked Niky was always still stuck in boarding. Just when the artist was getting very frustrated and angry, Niky’s new fairy Godmother saw her on the magical Facebook site and said four magic words that would forever change her life...

Niky hearing the most amazing words she had been waiting to hear "I will foster!" 
“I will foster her!” Exclaimed the new fairy Godmother. And so she worked to make all the right things happen and Niky was brought to her new fairy Godmother’s (and fairy Godfather’s) home. Niky arrived in her carriage to a land where pit bulls are not illegal. As soon as she crossed the border into the safe place, she could feel the breeze of the non BSL freedom flutter across her overly large ears. As she placed her eyes upon her new foster home for the first time, she could not believe what she saw. Grass! Niky loved grass so much and there was more grass than she had ever seen in her life. When she got out of her carriage, she jumped onto the grass and rolled and rolled. She was home.. and she knew it. She had been brought by carriage by the first fairy Godmother that had never been able to take her into her home- as she drove away, Niky waved goodbye to her and thanked her for all her help.
Niky enjoying her freedom on her new Fairy Godmother's grass. 

The New Fairy Godparents decided that Niky needed a new name to go with her new life. They renamed her Madison Star. Madison Star had new siblings to play with and a large yard to roll in. She learned how to walk on a leash and do fancy tricks like “sit” when asked. She learned all about how to use stairs and what a great thing long walks and car rides were. With good food and baths, Madison became a whole new dog! Madison Star became a fairy princess and had never been so happy in her life!

Her name is now Madison Star! 
Although Madison Star is now a fairy princess living in a castle in a land where she is free to roll in the grass and enjoy life- she is still missing one very important thing. Madison Star still needs a real home to call her own. She loves living with her foster parents and the adventures that they take her on.. but, she hopes that one day soon she will be seen by the family who will give her a home forever … treat her like the fairy princess she is… and make sure that she never ends up in dog jail again.. and has plenty of grass to roll in!
Now that Madison Star is free in a land with no BSL she likes to dress up as the fairy princess that she is. 

(This artist cannot wait to be able to end the story with .. ‘and she lived happily ever after in her new home’…. But, until that new home arrives.. her story will not end)
Artists rendition of Madison Star as a princess fairy giving the 'tongue' to BSL and dog jail. 

If you are interested in meeting and possibly adopting Madison Star- please contact her foster at