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Monday, December 17, 2012

Grief

When I first saw the news about the school shooting in CT, I was sitting in the courtyard at the public library watching children play around a fountain. The weather was perfect. I had checked CNN as I always do - I obsessively check the news when I am online. They said there was a shooting and I was upset reading that. I hoped that it was just some idiot who shot himself.. I hoped that if anyone else was shot that they would be ok. But, as we all know that was not the case.

I have taught art to elementary students before .. and I really enjoyed it. The kids were so amazing- so full of the belief that life is something to be enjoyed. Sometimes they ate crayons and there was some nose picking.. but, for the most part.. they were the coolest people I knew. I remember one day a young student ran up to me "Miss Mary! Miss Mary! I need to tell you something." He had to tell me about a song he had just learned  - a new song that he was sure that I had never heard before and that had my name in it called Miss Mary Mack.. and of course, I pretended it was the first time I had ever heard it. One time I talked to the kindergarteners about Da Vinci and how he was not only an artist, but also an inventor. I had them draw inventions .. some drew rainbow machines... one made a homework doing machine .. and there were a few magical pets and flying cars. One child drew a whole bunch of faces- each one the same and they all had glasses on. I asked him to tell me about the invention he was drawing and I was told they were magic glasses and the reason there were so many drawings is that there were so many types of magic in the glasses.

After watching the non stop news coverage of the shooting I just kept thinking back to the students that I taught.. and I could not fathom an entire class being murdered ... or even one. I cannot wrap my head around the kind of monster that would do what that monster did.

Today I was once again checking the news.. sitting in the same courtyard I sat in when I first heard the news..  and I came across one obituary. I want to share this one, because if you read this blog you most likely have interest and love animals... and you have something in common with a little 6 year old named Catherine Violet Hubbard.

"Catherine Violet Hubbard


Catherine Violet Hubbard, 6, born June 8, 2006, died December 14, during the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Her older brother, Frederick William; her parents Matthew and Jennifer; her grandparents Susan and Leo Sullivan and her great-grandmother Geraldine Russell Holden, all of West Chester, Penn.; Nancy and Earl Hubbard of Chatham, Mass.; and four uncles, four aunts, and nine cousins survive Catherine.

She will be remembered for her passion of animals and constant smile. Her family prays that she, all the students of Sandy Hook Elementary, and all those affected by this brutal event find peace in their hearts.

A wake is scheduled for Wednesday, December 19, from 4 to 7 pm, at St. Rose of Lima Church, 46 Church Hill Road, Newtown. A funeral Mass is scheduled for Thursday, December 20, at 10 am, at St Rose. Interment will follow the Mass, in St Rose Cemetery, Cherry Street, Sandy Hook.

In lieu of flowers the family is requesting donations be made to the Newtown Animal Center, PO Box 475, Newtown CT 06470.

The Honan Funeral Home, 58 Main Street, Newtown, is in care of arrangements.
The Newtown Bee                 Posted December 16, 2012"


The above is taken from the local paper the Newtown Bee their local paper. If you want a way to honor her you can give a donation in her name to the animal group in Newtown. It appears that it is a small volunteer group who works with fosters and has no physical shelter. I am sure that they can use any help that can be given to them to continue their work.. and I know that the family will appreciate anyone giving in the honor of their lost daughter.


"She had a passion for animals and a constant smile." 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bianca - the tale of a dog no one wants


Bianca had been to the shelter before. When I saw her post on the Urgent Dogs of Miami's (UDOM) Facebook page, it was in April and on the thread it was stated that she had already been at Miami Dade Animal Services (MDAS) 7 times before. In April she was adopted and in July she was already back at the shelter. Many dogs have the unfortunate experience of being returned to the shelter or of escaping and never being picked up by their owners. My own dog Beula Jenkins is a return and I know that the shelter is seeking ways to help alleviate their return rate. However, Bianca is a fairly unusual case in the high number of times that she has found herself back in the kennels of MDAS. Bianca was once again taken from the shelter in July- this time by a rescue, yet her life is not truly safe. Months after her rescue, Bianca is in limbo and needing help finding a quality rescue or adopter who can properly care for her. 

In the UDOM thread in July it was stated by an individual in PA that she wanted Bianca. The woman wanting her was several states away and saw the dog posted online and wanted to help her. She did this based solely on a picture. Another individual, also in another state (NC), was working to help get Bianca out of the shelter and transported to the adopted in PA. Neither of the women involved had met Bianca in person - they wanted to help her and were doing so based only on seeing her picture online and reading her story on social media. They were moved by her plight and wanted to do something to save her. 

Bianca's intake photo as taken from a screen shot on the posting site. You can see the original link by posting here. 



Bianca was pulled from the shelter by an approved rescue. An approved rescue is one who has met certain guidelines set forth by the shelter in order to take dogs from the MDAS and into their rescue. Rescues are able to take dogs at a discounted rate and the dogs and cats are given their shots, micro chipped and spayed or neutered. Bianca was rescued by one of the rescue groups and sent to a boarding kennel. I do not know if the rescue ever did any checking on the adopter of Bianca. I have no idea if there was ever an application done or a reference or home check done. What I do know is that the person in PA who initially wanted Bianca changed her mind and months later, Bianca was still in boarding. On September 3rd, I wrote about dogs in boarding and included Bianca's link to UDOM along with several other dogs left in boarding for extended periods of time. Not too long after that, she was sent to an adopter who did not want her because someone had told her Dogos are hypoallergenic (and they are not). She was then flown up to the woman in NC who had initially been helping the PA adopter. The NC individual was working as a foster- but, it has not worked out and Bianca needs help again.

An email first fell into my mailbox saying that Bianca was in need of a real rescue or would be taken to a shelter weeks after her being sent to NC - and later on other messages stated that her life was in danger. I decided then that I should give her some attention on here to tell her story.. and in doing so.. I reached out to the foster in NC. She referred me to her boyfriend, Jeff, and the following information I have been given is from him. Also please note- all photos from this point have been provided to me from the foster. All rights to them remain the property of the fosters. 

According to Jeff, Bianca was in boarding for nine weeks after being pulled from MDAS in July. There had been a flight to send her to the woman in PA early on, but it was cancelled and before a new flight was set to go she changed her mind about wanting Bianca. During the nine week stay in boarding, Jeff and his girlfriend Jill had a contact in Miami who was to go to help walk and care for Bianca. I was also told that when Bianca was taken into the boarding kennel she weighed about 75 pounds and for some reason there was a possible spay surgery on her- that simply showed that she was already spayed. (This concerns me since anyone working with the shelter would have known she was already spayed- but, I do not know all of the details on this)  Finally, an adopter was found to take her. The adopter was in Ocala- a few hours away- and she took her in on a Tuesday - that following Saturday Bianca was being sent on a flight with Pilots N Paws to NC. The Ocala adopter has allergies and was under the mistaken belief that Dogos are hypoallergenic - they are not… and Bianca may be part Dogo, but is not a full breed.

In September, Bianca finally reached NC to the home of the woman Jill (who had initially seen her online and wanted to help) and her boyfriend.  They happily took her into their home. After 9 weeks in boarding, it appeared that she had lost weight- about 12 pounds. She also arrived with urine stains on her rear end and at least one tick was discovered on her by the pilot who flew her in. As mentioned previously, it was stated to me that they had contact with someone in the Miami area to check on her while in boarding.. so I am unclear as to why the local helper did not do more to address the weight and cleanliness issue.. I have no idea who the person was.. and if they did bring it up to the boarding kennel - why it was not addressed and if so what if anything was done about it. That being said the doctor who gave the evaluation for her to travel gave her a perfect score of 5 on her body score prior to her leaving. The photo below does not appear to show her with ribs protruding, so I am not certain about what her body score would have been given had another vet asses her right upon arrival. You can see yellowing on her back legs and tail. 


Bianca arriving in NC after her flight. 


The couple has a basset hound named Melody and they appeared to get along the beginning. Bianca is a person loving dog more than a dog loving dog. They had taken her to the dog park and tried her there, but when surrounded by a large number of dogs she growled and the other dog owners did not want to see her back at the park. However, with her foster family she has been very eager to please. She needed some extra work with house training, but the foster understood since Bianca had spent so much time in kennels. At first she would actually go on the cement sidewalks instead of the grass since she was not used to going outside in the grass at all. She was not even used to sleeping in a bed and would sleep on the hardwood for the first few nights instead of the comfy dog bed they had gotten for her since she was not used to comfort. 
Bianca got along fine with Melody the fosters' basset hound at first. 

Initially, there appeared to be no dog aggression. 

Bianca and the fosters' dog Melody. 

I was told she knows basic commands and sill sit and has very good eye contact. Her foster says that she is good at the table and does not beg or whine. They say she has no food aggression and loves to be touched, takes treat gently, does well in the car, is crate trained at night, is not a barker and will sit patiently to be leashed and does not pull when walked. She also loves to run and I was told "My God, can she run! She gallops like a horse."
Bianca showing how well she knows 'sit" with her foster parent. 

She had arrived in NC from Florida in September and in October there were a few possible adopters. One of the potential adopters sounded great, but would not submit to a home visit or give the name of their vet. Another did not get a good reference from their vet and the rest fell apart for one reason or another. Finally, they were put in touch with a rescue out of state in Colorado who was going to be able to help take Bianca. As they were setting up the legs of her transport across the country, some very unfortunate incidents occurred and the offer from the rescue was removed.
Bianca enjoying a car ride. I have been told she does very well in the car. 

Bianca began to have issues with other dogs. The first incident was involving an unleashed dog who came running to her and that dog was bitten requiring a trip to the dog ER. After that, there were three incidents involving the fosters’ own dog Melody one of which required stitches for the basset.

Unable to keep Bianca in their home due to the issues with their own dog, they turned to a trainer who took her into a training facility where she is currently in Sanford, NC. The program is a 5 week program and ends this coming Friday 12-14. Once the program is up, there is nowhere for her to go. She cannot go into the home and there have been attempts to place her in rescues that the fosters are familiar with, but due to the dog aggression they have not been successful in finding one to take her.
The foster has told me she is very people oriented- she just needs to be the only dog. 

The foster tells me she is very affectionate and eager to please her people. 

Bianca thinks she is a lap dog. 

Bianca needs help – she needs a home with NO dogs or other pets and one that will know to keep her away from other animals. She is very people motivated and has appeared to do well in training. The foster said she has not shown any issues with children, but feels with her size and dog issues, it would be best to place her into a home with none. Bianca is loving and playful with people and needs a home that can give her a safe environment to live. She is only about 2 years old. Keep in mind, in her short life she has had very little stability.
Bianca relaxing in the home of her foster. She just needs someone who can give her a stable life for once- one where she is the only dog and one where her people will commit to her for life. Most of her life has been spent living in kennels- sleeping on cement floors with no or little bedding. It would be a wonderful thing to see her have her own chair one day in a safe and solid home. 

As of now, I was told by the foster that they have spent a massive amount of money on her between boarding, training, vet work and transporting. They just cannot do it any longer. They have tried – but, without being able to take her back into their home they are asking for a rescue to come forward or an adopter to take her. If she does not find a home, the outcome will not be good. If you can help please contact the fosters at If anyone out there has any leads/ideas for Bianca, please contact either Jill Fuller at jmflu@nc.rr.com (919-559-3352) or Jeff at jeffhmiller@nc.rr.com (919-607-2782). They are in Cary, NC.

Please keep in mind that when working to help dogs/cats using social media that it is imperative to work with a quality rescue. It is also very important to remember that a picture can only tell so much. I know this 100% - since I take pictures of shelter animals. A picture will NEVER tell you if the dog or cat will be a good fit- you must either go and meet them or have a quality rescue do a proper assessment. I have many fantastic pictures that I have taken of dogs in the shelters.. and I never posted them due to the dog having known issues.. because, I was afraid of this type of situation. A big heart can only go so far. A big heart can easily lead to an empty bank account without a proper rescue to support a foster. 

If you can help Bianca, please contact the foster family.. they need help NOW- Bianca needs help NOW. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Saving the forgotten pets.. one at a time.


My last post was about dogs in boarding with the focus on Miami dogs. I had also written a piece for Opposingviews.com regarding the issue… http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/animal-rights/rescued-shelter-dogs-left-profit-boarding-kennels

Now that you know there is a problem. I want to tell you about someone who is doing something about it.
The Forgotten Pet Advocates is a non profit 501c3 that was created to help the dogs and cats left in boarding that had no one to advocate for them. The group is in the Houston, TX area and they exist to help those who truly have been forgotten.
I was lucky enough to speak to Marlene Marino who formed the group. Prior to creating The Forgotten Pet Advocates, she worked with rescues and fundraising for multiple years. One day, she found out about a dog named Faith and Faith’s very best friend Robin. Faith had been in a boarding kennel for seven years and Robin had been there with her for five years. Marlene knew that was wrong and she set out to help them. She started to visit the duo and was visiting them three times a week over the course of a month working to get them used to her. When they were ready, she took them home. It took time and patience and now the girls are living with Marlene’s other rescues and spoiled rotten. I want for you to stop for a moment and think about how it must have been for those dogs. Waiting in a kennels for years. Can you imagine living in a cage for years?
“I only wish I could give them back their years that humans failed them.” – Marlene


Gwinn and Rowdy have been in a boarding kennel their entire lives- they have NEVER had a real home. They were put into the kennel as babies and have been waiting for 6 years for a real home. They are brother and sister and very bonded so they must be adopted together. You can read more about them here... and here.
All rights to the above photo belong to The Forgotten Pet Advocates
***** Please make sure to read the special note at the end of this about these two. 
After rescuing Faith and Robin, Marlene realized that there were no groups to advocate for the animals stuck in boarding. So, she did what only made sense to do- she created the Forgotten Pet Advocates. When she began, there were animals who had been stuck for extraordinarily long times in boarding and no one was helping them. One cat had been in boarding for 11 years and one dog had been stuck for over 8 years. Now the longest cat has been there about 3 months. There are many dogs still stuck in boarding that group is working to help now. The current longest has been there 8 years, there are two at six years, one at four years, one at two years, a few at about a year and others who have been there months. In the last year, the group has had over 70 adoptions. Progress is being made – the Forgotten Pet Advocates is making a massive difference in the lives of the forgotten and the adoptions- the true saves are what keep her going.

Willy is young and playful and wanting a home of his own. He was  dumped over the fence of the boarding kennel with his siblings. You can read more abut him here .. and here.
All rights to the above photo belong to The Forgotten Pet Advocates


Marlene works with boarding kennels owners who come to her because they want help. She says “Most kennel owners want help. If they didn't care, the animals that got dumped - they have every right to call animal control - to take them away - and allow the space for a paying customer. Some, however are paying customers, a rescue that pulled a dog and cannot get it adopted. I preach and preach - do NOT pull a dog and put it in boarding - that is NOT rescue. It is slow abuse - mentally - physically and emotionally on the dog! But, I will help the dog or cat - not necessarily the rescuer.”
Dogs and cats are left in boarding for multiple reasons. It may be due to lack of funds by the owner, irresponsible or uneducated rescuers, and sometimes animals are just tossed over the boarding kennel fence. The kennel owners take the necessary legal action against the owner of the animals or the rescue in order to have the animal become their property. Once legal ownership is taken over by the kennel owner, they can either legally drop the animal at animal control or adopt them out. The group works with the kennel owners to help pay for vetting and to network the animals for adoption when they are contacted to help. What the group is doing is preventing animals from being put back into a system where they may lose their lives in overcrowded shelters, keep them from being euthanized and to help them not spend the remainder of their lives stuck in kennels with no hope for freedom.


Billy has been looking for a home for 2 years. Billy was born in October of 2009. He loves people and loves to play. He is seeking an active family with a great yard for him. He is looking for a cat free home, but he loves other dogs and would appreciate a home with some children to play with. Please see his Facebook page here.  with more here. 
All rights to the above photo belong to The Forgotten Pet Advocates



Marlene tells me that it is harder to adopt out the animals stuck in boarding because people are under the false belief that they are safe. “…..and our animals are NOT safe and they are slowly being ripped apart inside. Day in - day out - they see the paying customers come and go...families happy to see them...and yet...no one ever comes for them....they wait and wait and wait....” People are paying more attention to the dogs and cats on death row since their needs are easily seen as immediate due to a possible end to life in a matter of days or hours.
When dogs are kept in boarding kennels for extended periods of time, problems do occur. Dogs are social animals and they want to be with others so leaving them in kennels can cause ‘kennel crazy’. The first sign is for dogs to spin. I have seen this in dogs kept in long term kenneling situations… it is sad. If you are not familiar with this – think about the last time that you went to a zoo. Did you see animals pacing? Walking in circles? They have nothing else to do so dogs will do repeated motions such as cage spinning. It is not a sign of mental well being to see that type of behavior. If you have a dog- just take a moment and imagine if your beloved pet was left in a boarding kennel – for so long that they began to mentally deteriorate. Imagine your own dog spinning in a kennel with no hope in site. It is upsetting isn’t it? 
Kaycee is about a year and a half. She is not a very large girl - weighing only about 20 pounds. She is very sweet and fully vetted. All she needs how is a good home. You can see her Facebook link here.  and more here. 
All rights to the above photo belong to The Forgotten Pet Advocates

Because the animals are left without the needed interactions for months and years, the group has needed to find a way to best work with them. What they do is have one volunteer per dog. The volunteers visit their dog and at first they go very slow. They have a big job in that they need to work with the animals to get them used to walks with leashes and car rides and all of the other normal things dogs deal with in normal home situations. They work up to the point where they can get them to adoption events. The process is slow because it is a one on one process – they do not have enough volunteers- but, what they are doing is working and they are getting results.

I asked Marlene about running a non profit dealing with this type of problem.  “A non-profit is a lot to keep up with, but rewarding. Yes, each community needs a group to represent the ones rotting in kennels and needs to educate the rescue community - this is not the way to go....but then again...you have heard of the rescuers with cages stacked to the ceiling in their homes full with dogs and cats...they turn into hoarders....themselves....”

Marlene understands that boarding kennels do have to be used at times with rescues. Sometimes a rescue might not have a choice when a dog is returned years after adoption and there is no open foster home. At times dogs may be returned and need to be the only dog so a boarding kennel makes sense in that a safe, proper foster home must be found. When boarding is used, the rescue needs to be working with the dogs. The rescue needs to be walking, visiting, working with and taking the dog to adoption events. This must be done while a dog is in boarding until that dog is adopted. The rescue must make sure that the dog has treats, toys and a good bed to sleep on as well as any and all medical care needed. Rescues who use boarding kennels for lengths of time need to be involved in the care of the dogs.

Chato is about five years old and around 65 pounds. He is  house trained and has been through obedience training.  He is a very sweet and smart dog. Chato might be ok with a female dog around his size, but otherwise would do best as an only child. You can see his link on Facebook here... and more here. 
All rights to the above photo belong to The Forgotten Pet Advocates

Dogs and cats are being left in for profit boarding kennels all over. This is not unique to the Houston area. When you see online rescue using boarding kennels you need to be asking questions. “And when rescuers post..need funds for boarding... I say for what? What is your plan? How long will they be there? Days turn into months, months turn into years. It can really make me angry..but I help the animal ...not the losers that do.” Those using boarding kennels need to be looking at where they are leaving their animals – and those who are not close need to be asking about the quality of places being used.  “If the kennel does not want you to see where they are staying - do NOT leave your dog there.” Above all,  “… do not pull a dog off of death row - toss into boarding - with no plan after that.” She also does state "Most animal rescuers have the best intentions and just get into jams. We have to remember quality not quantity."

I wish Marlene and her group the best and I hope that those reading will understand the repercussions of leaving dogs/cats in boarding. I also hope that those reading will be motivated to stop bad rescue and support those who work so hard to save the victims of it. If you are in the Houston, TX area and can help volunteer, please contact them. Please check out their website for available dogs and cats needing homes as well as ways to donate... and please help share the pictures of their dogs and cats needing homes.. by simply sharing a link on social media, you may help find a home for a dog or cat in need - that share button can be a very powerful tool. 

You can also like their Facebook page and help share the dogs and cats that they are advocating for.
https://www.facebook.com/theforgottenpetadvocates

****** I need to add to this post something VERY important. This morning I saw a Facebook post by The Forgotten Pet Advocates about someone using the story of Gwinn and Rowdy to gain donations. The ONLY group taking in funds for their care is The Forgotten Pet Advocates. Please ONLY give to them- they have been working so hard to find homes for the dogs - please, make sure that your donations only go to the true advocates of the dogs. Below is the post that is on their page...


Please ignore ANY donation requests from anyone other than
THE FORGOTTEN PET ADVOCATES for any of OUR pets.
We have been notified that someone is trying to set up a "Gwinn and Rowdy" fund. IT IS NOT US.

We have a "donate page" on our website. If you would like to donate to FPA, you can do so thru our site. We are a 501 (c)(3) and all donations are tax deducible. http://www.forgottenpetadvocates.com/donate.html

THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT!
https://www.facebook.com/theforgottenpetadvocates