Archive for April, 2008

Hunters 1 – HSUS 0

This just in from the United States Sportsmen’s Alliance:

The leadership at Meijer, a Michigan-based regional chain of retail superstores, has responded to the concerns of the sportsman community and ended its partnership with the anti-hunting group, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), in an online pet photo contest.

Meijer initially refused a U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) request to abandon the partnership, which according to information on the Meijer website, called for the company to donate $1 for each person that entered the contest, up to a maximum of $5,000, to the HSUS Foreclosure Pets Fund.

On Friday, April 25, the USSA sent out a call to action for sportsmen to voice their concerns over these donations to the biggest anti-hunting organization in the world.  Sportsmen immediately took action, flooding the retailer with phone calls, faxes and emails. 

Thanks to this action by sportsmen, Meijer has now eliminated the portion of the contest that included a donation to HSUS.

“Our program was an outgrowth of our history of supporting local humane societies.  We were not aware of the concerns that exist among hunters about HSUS.  As you know, we have strongly supported the hunting community over many decades,” said Meijer vice president of corporate communications and public affairs, Stacie Behler.  “We have discontinued our donation program as a result of the feedback.  No new funds will be collected.  The funds that were collected will be used exclusively for their Foreclosure Pets Fund, which is a grants program for animal shelters, non-sheltered rescue/adoption groups and animal care and control agencies to establish, expand, or publicize services or programs that assist families caring for their pets during the current economic crisis.”

Kudos to USSA for their work.  HSUS recently lobbied against dove hunting in my home state of Minnesota.  In a nice bit of editorial work Tori McCormick of my local paper, the Republican Eagle, noted that:

I’m not one to cry foul when an anti-hunting group fires one of its patented rhetorical bombs about the cruelty of hunting and how it isn’t justified in modern-day society.

 If I did, I’d have to spend every waking hour trying to set the record straight.

 Our nation was founded on the broad shoulders of free speech, and I strongly believe that everyone has the right to express their opinion, whether I agree with it or not.

After that insightful little volley where she acknowledges their right to free speech (but not to spew volumes of inane propaganda) she follows up with:

Fact is, hunters waste too much energy worrying about the antis when we should be firing back in their face a simple question: What have you done for wildlife and wildlife habitat? Nothing, that’s what. At least nothing meaningful.

When’s the last time they’ve fought for wetlands protections, healthy forests, farm bill conservation programs, sustainable fisheries and other land and water stewardship initiatives?

The anti-hunting movement has been AWOL, while hunters and anglers, historically and today, have been on the front lines slugging it out.

But when an anti-hunting group wages an anti-hunting campaign based on misinformation, lies and propaganda, a campaign whose ends would comprise conservation and science-based wildlife management, I believe the public record must be corrected.

Amen sister.  While the whiney losers at HSUS and PeTA sit around on their fat, donation-supported asses accomplishing nothing more than spewing lies and promoting bad laws; groups like Ducks UnlimitedPheasants Forever, the National Wild Turkey FoundationQuail Unlimited, the Ruffed Grouse Society, Trout Unlimited, the Masters of Foxhounds Association of North America, and the Sierra Club support hunting AND work actively to conserve wild lands.

So, if habitat conservation and the preservation of wildlife are really important to you…. where should YOU donate?

April 30, 2008 at 6:03 am 2 comments

PeTA’s Goal

This just in from Newsweek:

“Since 1998 PETA has killed more than 17,000 animals, nearly 85 percent of all those it has rescued.”

Yup.  It’s true.  PeTA kills animals.  Pay no attention to the photos of sweet, sad abandoned pets hyped in their print and media ads.  PeTA is NOT in the business of saving animals — at least not pet animals.  In fact, one of their goals is the extinction of domestic cats and dogs.

“Instead of zero kills, PETA claims to be shooting for zero births.”

 To control pet populations, the folks at PeTA and their allies at the Humane Society for the United States (not to be confused with the folks who run your local humane society) have chosen to focus on increasing deaths and decreasing births.  And its not enough for them to recommend the spaying/neutering of all pets and measures that encourage shelters to kill very high percentages of the animals taken in — both groups are also actively lobbying to have these kinds of measures legislated in cities and states across the country.

The sad truth is that these measures are not needed to control pet populations.

According to Nathan Winograd, author of “Redemption” as quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Based on data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, and the latest census, there are more than enough homes for every dog and cat being killed in shelters every year. In fact, when I spoke to him for this article, he told me that there aren’t just enough homes for the dogs and cats being killed in shelters. There are more homes for cats and dogs opening each year than there are cats and dogs even entering shelters.”

More homes than pets?  Whassup with that?  If it’s true, why are we being bombarded with print and media ads publicizing the plight of MILLIONS of homeless dogs and cats doomed to languish and then die in shelters across the country?

In “Redemption,” Winograd lays the lion’s share of the blame for shelter deaths not on pet owners and communities, but on the management, staff, and boards of directors of the shelters themselves.
Redemption makes the case that bad shelter management leads to overcrowding, which is then confused with pet overpopulation. Instead of warehousing and killing animals, shelters, he says, should be using proven, innovative programs to find those homes he says are out there. They should wholeheartedly adopt the movement known as No Kill, and stop using killing as a form of population control.

In fact, in many urban areas there are now not enough shelter dogs (especially small, young dogs) to fill existing demand.  According to the National Animal Interest Alliance:

In many US cities today, campaigns to end ‘pet overpopulation’ have been so successful that the demand for dogs far outstrips supply. In fact, shelters in many of these cities would have a significant percentage of empty dog runs were it not for the mushrooming practice of moving dogs around from one region to another and from one shelter to another within regions, an activity known somewhat euphemistically as humane relocation.  Humane relocation began as a common sense method for helping animals to get adopted through cooperative efforts among city shelters. It made no sense for the humane society to euthanize dogs for lack of room while the local animal control agency had the space and resources to help get them adopted. Over time, as the number of surplus dogs in some cities continued to drop, they began taking in animals from greater distances.

Faced with fewer small dogs and puppies to offer the public, a handful of shelters and organizations have swapped their traditional mission for a new bottom line strategy aimed at filling consumer demands. Simply stated, they have become pet stores. Some are importing stray dogs across state lines and from foreign countries to maintain an inventory of adoptable dogs.

Despite all this, PeTA and HSUS still want to take your pet (and working) dogs away from you.  By force if necessary.  Here it is in their own words:

“In the end, I think it would be lovely if we stopped this whole notion of pets altogether.” Ingrid Newkirk, national Director, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA), Newsday, 2/21/88

“I don’t have a hands-on fondness for animals…To this day I don’t feel bonded to any non-human animal. I like them and I pet them and I’m kind to them, but there’s no special bond between me and other animals.” Wayne Pacelle, of the Humane Society of the United States, quoted in Bloodties: Nature, Culture and the Hunt by Ted Kerasote, 1993, p. 251

So, if you really want to help homeless dogs in a meaningful way, donate to your local humane society or a no kill shelter.  Adopt a dog from a local shelter and make sure that that dog was NOT imported from Puerto Rico, Mexico or from another state. Do NOT donate money to PeTA, HSUS or other animal rights organizations. 

(added 4/29/08 at 9:30 am Central)
This comment from Audie’s Gramma is so important that I’ve taken the liberty of posting it here so that no one misses it:

FOSTER a dog for a shelter or rescue. Turn him around, help him get adopted, take a break, and then FOSTER another one.

Every animal being cared for in a foster home is one more space free at the shelter.

An aggressive foster program, where animals are socialized, evaluated, rehabbed and trained by the foster humans, is one of the cornerstones of a good shelter program.

It’s one more way we can fight the reflexive use of the term “euthanasia” for a practice that is really “convenience killing.”

April 29, 2008 at 5:07 am 4 comments


“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”

The most difficult thing about dog ownership is deciding when to send the animal you love so deeply on that unrenegable journey to the afterlife.

There’s often no avoiding it. And it can be a gut-wrenching decision even in the most clear-cut of situations.

With advances in science, there is now a small ray of hope to be gained in some of these heart-breaking situations.  Canine DNA is now being studied by many institutions in experiments that are providing insights on new modes of detection and treatment for numerous diseases.

If your dog has cancer or suffers from a chronic disorder, consider donating blood, saliva or biopsy samples to a program that is studying the disorder.  Saliva samples are simple and absolutely painless to collect.  Blood samples can be collected in conjuction with regular screening tests (such as those used to test for lyme disease, heartworm or to screen for metabolic disorders).  Biopsy samples can be collected during scheduled surgery — or post mortem.

If your dog has been diagnosed with cancer or another chronic disease check with your breed club, the Canine Health Information Center, the Broad Institute, UC Davis, vetGen, Cornell University and do a web search to find out which groups are studying the specific health problem your dog has.  Then please consider donating blood and tissue samples from your beloved companion to help diagnose, prevent and cure disease.

We eased the pain of Zorro’s passing by donating samples and diagnostic information to the Broad Institute for their osteosarcoma study, to UC Davis for research on Leonberger Polyneuropathy and the University of Minnesota to study canine epilespy.

April 28, 2008 at 4:26 am 1 comment

Life Less Complicated

My life became less complicated today.

I don’t need to take extra time to make sure that I’ve place non-skid rugs in strategic locations around the house.

I don’t need to make daily checks of four or more medications to ensure that the proper types and dosages are given.  I don’t need to make sure that I have syringes on hand and I don’t have to carefully monitor everything my dogs eat to prevent allergic reactions.

I don’t have to be hypervigilant in looking for early symptoms of seizures, allergic reactions and other health crises.

We don’t need a ramp at the front door anymore.

An awful lot of the responsibilities (and expenses) that have weighed me down for the last six months vanished in just a single afternoon.

And my heart is broken.

Zorro, who’s been my friend and working partner of the last nine years, was released today from the pain of one too many health problems.  He cheerfully survived epilipsy, Addison’s disease, laryngeal paralysis and Leonberger polyneuropathy only to be taken down by osteosarcoma.  Bone cancer.  The evil scourge of giant breed dogs. 

Zorro had an utterly indomitable will.  He was the most joyful — and the most driven dog I have ever known.  This made him both the most difficult and the most entertaining dog I’ve ever owned.  When he really wanted something, nothing would hold him back.  His fire burned white hot.

Even though I’ve known for a while that this was coming, it still feels like a sudden shock.  He had such an enormous presence….  the house just echoes with emptiness.

Its going to take a while to get used to these simpler, and much less colorful, times without my old friend.

April 26, 2008 at 12:25 am 7 comments

The Key to Early Disease Detection

Finding diseases, injuries and parasites early is the best way to keep your dog healthy and happy.  When you discover these problems early, you can avoid an expensive visit to the vet or reduce your dog’s pain and suffering by getting him necessary veterinary treatment as quickly as possible.

Going over your dog’s body on a regular basis also gets him used to being handled and will make visits to the vet and the groomer easier and less stressful for him and for you.  Knowing what your dog’s normal condition is also makes it much easier to recognize something that isn’t normal. 

Start at your dog’s head.  Make sure his eyes are bright, clear and don’t have any unusual discharge.  Every dog’s eyes are different.  Get to know what’s normal for your dog.  Look at his nose.  It’s a myth that a dog’s nose is always supposed to be cold and wet – get familiar with what your dog’s nose looks like on a day to day basis and you’ll notice any unusual discharge or coloring much sooner.  

Feel around the ears and neck.  Get deep into the fur and search for ticks, foxtails or other parasites or foreign materials.  Check your dog’s ears for excess gunk, parasites or foreign materials.  Sniff them too.  One of the first signs of an ear infection is often a bad odor in the ear.  Remember, your dog’s ear is L-shaped instead of straight like ours.  An infection can begin deep in the ear where it’s out of sight – but not out of scent.

Check the mouth carefully, especially if your dog is not used to be handled here.  It may take you a few weeks to get him used to this, so take it one step at a time.  Get to know what color your dog’s gums are when they’re healthy, look for signs of periodontal disease or chipped teeth.

Feel all over your dog’s body.  It is usually easiest to start at his shoulders and work outward.  If he is uncomfortable with being touched, don’t push it and turn the exam into a wrestling match or a stressful event.  If he starts to act nervous or aggressive, move back and touch the dog in a place that he is comfortable with and end the exam there on a positive note.

As you examine the body, feel for ticks, lumps, bumps, foxtails, thorns, mats, cuts, scrapes and tender spots.  Pay close attention to areas where his fur is longer or thinner as these are favorite places for parasites to attach.  If you find a cut, scrape or bump pull the hair aside and examine it closely.  If it’s not serious, make a mental note to check it regularly until it heals.  If you think it might be serious, call your vet.

Examine the dog’s paws carefully.  Most dogs spend their entire lives going barefoot on all kinds of terrain.  Look at the pads first and see if there area any cuts, thorns, cracked skin or other problems.  Check the areas between pads carefully.  These sensitive spots are a common problem area.  Look at his toenails and see if they are split, cracked, chipped or need to be cut.

Check the tail, belly, anal and genital areas too.  Look for any unusual redness, swelling, discharge, lumps, bumps, mats or other problems.

Check your dog’s pulse and respiration.  Heart rate and respiration rate vary widely in healthy dogs.  If you become familiar with your dog’s normal pulse and respiration you’ll be much more likely to notice when they are not normal.

Keep track of your dog’s appetite and his elimination habits.  One of the best things about picking up your dog’s poop in a timely manner is that it keeps you aware of loose stools, constipation, foreign matter and other potential problems.  Keep track of your dog’s weight and consider his current weight and level of activity when you feed him each day.

If your dog has a chronic health issue like epilepsy or diabetes, consider keeping a health diary.  Use the diary to keep track of symptoms, diet, supplements, vet visits, information on the medications he takes, and other information that may help you and your vet treat your dog more effectively.

If you’d like to get detailed instructions on how to complete a “Snout to Tail Assessment” consider ordering this great little book from our friends at PetTech.  The booklet also includes tips on emergency preparedness, poisoning, pet insurance and detailed information on assessing your pet’s vital signs.

April 19, 2008 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment

Help Win $10K to Fight CA AB 1634!

Our friend Nemo has been helping PetPAC defeat AB 1634 by meeting with Legislators. Today he is asking for your help on behalf of PetPAC and all pet owners.

Nemo has been entered into the Bissell Company’s MVP contest (Most Valuable Pet). The grand prize is $10,000 donated to a pet cause of the winner’s choice. If he wins, Nemo is going to donate his prize to PetPAC’s lobbying efforts to defeat AB1634.

Please click on the photo below to vote for Nemo.

It costs nothing and only takes a few seconds. With your vote for Nemo today, you will help us raise awareness on PetPAC’s mission of a grassroots organization dedicated to protecting the rights of pets and their owners.

Assembly Bill 1634 is a disastrous piece of legislation that will force nearly all family dogs and cats in California to be surgically sterilized before they are six months old.

Authored by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, AB 1634 will create a convoluted maze of government permits, hefty fees and punitive fines that will not decrease animal shelter populations or euthanasia rates. It will, however, take scarce funds from caring for animals to pay for an overreaching bureaucracy that will be expensive to administer, impossible to enforce, and is guaranteed to fail.

The stated goal of AB1634 is to control unwanted animal populations in California.  However, current data shows that as the human population of the state grew from 20 million to 36 million over the past 30 years, the number of animals impounded at shelters has dropped by over 37% in that same time period.  Pet populations traditionally increase along with human populations, so this data suggests that existing spay and neuter programs and public education have had a positive impact in reducing the number of animals sent to shelters. Here are a few more important points to consider:



  • AB 1634 is modeled after a similar law in Santa Cruz County where mandatory spay/neuter was enacted in 1995. Since then, the County’s animal control expenses have more than doubled – up 109%. And while shelter intakes were reduced by 22%, the statewide average reduction was 26%.
  • In Monterey County, MD, more than 10,000 licenses for unaltered pets were issued the year before mandatory spay/neuter was adopted, and only 743 licenses the year after it took effect. The law has since been repealed.
  • In the year since the City of Los Angeles enacted a mandatory spay/neuter law, the dog and cat shelter population has increased for the first time, reversing a 5-year downward trend. Shelter expenses have also increased.

April 18, 2008 at 8:17 pm 3 comments

Boarding Kennel Mix-Up

Here’s a story from our “Yikes! I’m sure glad that didn’t happen to me!” files:

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. – Ken Griggs finally brought the right dog home. More than two weeks after he claimed a boarding kennel returned the wrong dog to him after spring break; he and his family were reunited with their black Labrador named Callie.

Callie shared a kennel with another female black Labrador named Dixie and when Griggs came to get Callie on March 30, he somehow ended up with Dixie instead. He said that he knew something was wrong when the family cat, who enjoys Callie’s company, hissed at the dog.

He returned the dog to the kennel where the kennel owner contacted the owners of the other eight black Labradors that stayed there that week. The woman who owns Dixie (who shared a kennel with Callie) told kennel owner Allison Best that her dog seemed to have undergone a personality change, but still insisted she had the right dog.

Best arranged for both owners and their dogs to meet anyway.

Griggs arrived at the kennel before the woman who had the other dog. When he arrived a black Lab became excited when he and his children approached. The kids declared the dog was Callie, and family returned home with her. The dog they took home turned out to be the same one they had just returned.

The kids were happy but Griggs was still convinced he did not have the right dog, so he took her to his regular veterinarian who confirmed through X-rays that the dog lacked the surgical marks Callie should have.

Callie’s been with our family for seven years,” he said. “We’ve had her since birth. I’ve got five kids who have grown up with this dog, and she’s part of the family. We just want to get our dog back.”

Neither dog has an identifying microchip or tattoo.

The Doppelgangers

“Mr. Griggs kind of lost his credibility with me the second time he came into the kennel with his family and reclaimed the same dog,” the kennel owern said. “If he can’t recognize his dog, I don’t feel I can be any help.”

The case was finally resolved after media reports prompted a call to the kennel owner from an acquaintance of the woman who had Dixie.  The called told her that “Dixie was not Dixie.” After receiving the call, Best visited the woman’s house and examined the dog. Her examination revealed that the dog was probably Callie and she told the woman she needed to meet with Griggs.

The Griggs’ were reunited with the real Callie on Wednesday. Griggs commented that “I’m happy and relieved and just want things to get back to normal.”

Best told The Oregonian newspaper she had no comment about how the confusion might have occurred. “We tried to do everything we could, and it’s really unfortunate we had two customers who couldn’t identify their dogs,” she said.

Referring to the mixup, “I was very concerned when that happened,” said Allison Best, the kennel owner. “I’ve been in business 10 years and I’ve never heard of anything like this happening.”

The mix-up may have been prevented by the use of identifying collars, but the kennel did not allow dogs to wear collars because it considered them dangerous.

Since the incident, the Tail Wag-Inn has started using paper identification collars that list each dog’s name and owner, Best said. The kennel previously did not use any collars for fear they could get caught on fences, the paper collars, however, break away for safety.

Callie also will get new identification, she has an appointment today with her veterinarian to get a microchip.

What You Can do to Prevent This:

  • Have your dog tattooed or microchipped — especially if he or she is a breed where many dogs have a similar appearance.
  • Be familiar with your dog’s identifying marks and check them when you pick the dog up.  If Griggs had checked the dog’s dewclaws, the problem may have been recognized much sooner.
  • Before you board your dog find out exactly how kennel staff will handle and identify your him and ask what procedures they go through to check a dog out to its owner.
  • Don’t let a facility keep your dog in the same kennel or cage with a strange dog — especially one that is of the same breed and color as your dog!
  • Teach your dog some unusual tricks.  Have him do a few before you take him home.

April 18, 2008 at 7:28 pm 4 comments

Peregrines and Propane

Our house and the adjacent training center are both heated by propane-powered radiant heat systems.  Boilers heat water that’s piped through the floor of both buildings.  The floors then act as very large, low-temperature radiators.  Its a simple and energy-efficient way of heating.  We live in a rural area and purchase our propane from a local agricultural cooperative.

With the recent spring melt, the ground soft and muddy.  Since both of our propane tanks are hidden in the edge of the woods behind each building it can be a bit difficult to fill them this time of year.  So I shouldn’t really have been surprised to see a man snooping through the woods there yesterday.  But our place is located at the end of a quarter-mile long driveway so ANY time I see a person wandering around here I think its prudent to investigate.

I recognized our regular propane delivery man when I was halfway out to greet him.  As we chatted about dogs, propane and the weather, he mentioned that the co-op had installed a bird-cam to monitor a peregrine falcon nesting box located near the top of the down-town elevator. 

I checked out the webcam and saw that Husker and her mate are currently caring for a clutch of three eggs.  According to local papers, Husker has been nesting at this spot since 2000 and has successfully raised 18 eyasses (baby falcons) in that time.

Caution!  The webcam appears to be highly addictive.  Not long after I logged into it for the first time the smaller male returned to trade places with his mate.  I watched as they greeted each other, she took off and he settled himself over the eggs.

Click on the screen shot below to access the webcam.  You’ll need to install an activeX control to watch the video. 

April 17, 2008 at 8:43 pm 1 comment

Happy Birthday Zorro!

Today is the Z-man’s 9th birthday. The old man is a bit grey and lame – but still full of life.  Here’s to many more old friend!

He’s a Party ANIMAL!

Good dogs, cake for everybody!

April 16, 2008 at 11:10 pm 5 comments

Which Humane Society?

The media gets it wrong again…

From yesterday’s Rochester Post-Bulletin:

Minnesota‘s struggling economy is starting to trickle down to man’s best friend, and the cats they love to chase.

And as more people are forced to give up their pets to local shelters, fewer are looking to adopt. Whether it’s too expensive or people are moving into apartments that don’t allow pets, the adoption rate has dropped about 20 percent, Fry said.

Similar stories are being told across the country as people deal with home foreclosures, layoffs and reduced wages.

The number of unwanted pets dropped off at some Humane Society shelters has increased more than 125 percent, according to Humane Society of the United States spokeswoman Nancy Peterson.

Each year the Humane Society takes in 8 million animals nationally. Half of them are put to sleep, Peterson said. Locally, 25,000 of the 36,000 animals dropped off at Humane Society shelters were adopted or placed in other rescue programs, said Laurie Brickley, spokeswoman for the Animal Humane Society in the Twin Cities.


What?  Animal shelters operated by the H$U$?  This quote comes from their website:Although The HSUS does not operate animal shelters, we work closely with them in a variety of ways. We also assist members of the public with their questions and concerns about sheltering issues.”So, is this story an example of careless journalism?  Were representatives of HSUS and the Animal Humane Society misquoted?  Does this reporter simply have poor grammatical skills?  Or is there an hidden agenda here somewhere?

There’s a BIG difference between “a humane society” and The Humane Society of the United States.  The problem is, most average Americans aren’t aware of this.  So, when they see ads from HSUS with photos of sad puppies and kittens asking them to help any way they can, they send in donations mistakenly believing that their dollars are going to help homeless pets in local shelters.

Sadly, not only does this subterfuge confusion likely result in decreased donations to local shelters (most of whom desperately need funds) but it also results in a situation where the pet-owning public ends up financing one of its chief enemies.

From the folks at

Its main actions divide into: (a) Promoting laws to restrict use/ownership, (b) propaganda in support of such laws, and (c) fundraising/self-promotional actions. You will look in vain for an HSUS action that makes animal use or pet ownership easier, more common, more fun, or more successful.”

Please, when donating your hard-earned dollars to charity, do a bit of homework and find out exactly where those dollars will be spent.

April 16, 2008 at 9:35 pm 4 comments

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April 2008