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Friday, December 25, 2009


Merry Christmas everyone!

We started the night with a late supper and baked monster cookies to leave for Santa.  I think next year we will go with trustworthy chocolate chip.  As the cookies cooled, we donned our winter outfits to go outside in the blizzard to sprinkle oatmeal (aka reindeer food) across the front lawn for those cold-hooved reindeer.  We hope it will give them the energy they need to continue tonight's journey.  I hope they head to Bermuda or somewhere warm from here!  Last year Miranda caught a glimpse of a red light in the sky that we just know was Rudolph leading the way for Santa's sleigh.  This year, the cloud cover obscured any chance of seeing that wonderful red orb in the sky.  We looked anyway but could not see it.  But we know it is there!

We got into our pajama's and read the Christmas Story, a Little Golden book from my youth about the birth of Jesus, then went downstairs to put Santa's cookies and milk in the appropriate place.  We came back upstairs, and then read "Peef the Christmas Bear".  A wonderful book previously mentioned in my blog.  I love the story and the artwork.  The rhyme seems a bit off at times, but we still enjoy the book.

I tucked the kids into bed expecting a tough night of going to sleep due to the excitement of Christmas.  I heard a few minor complaints from Miranda about Connor hitting her, then bamm, they were sound asleep.   Into the basement I go.

Tonight is THE night to be sneaky right?! Sneak downstairs and help Santa wrap the gifts and stuff them into stockings and pile them up under the tree...right? All without awakening any children of the house.  All without being seen by anyone.  Well let me say, it was tough tonight.

My husband has been putting in new flooring for about a month now. bang bang bang. Tonight he is finishing it. BANG BANG BANG!   Usually he is in bed, and the house is so quiet that I can hear if the Christmas mouse is stirring, never mind if the children have quit dreaming of sugarplums dancing in their heads and have stirred to see if Santa has arrived! Instead, Santa and I are hiding in the basement, unable to hear if a child is coming down the stairs to ruin any Christmas morning surprise, and let me say Santa was not in a mood to be discovered! He was not happy about the weather!  His beard was frozen solid!  Rudolph's nose is frostbitten and has lost some of it's brilliant glow as a result, and all of the reindeer are wearing mittens or socks on their hooves to keep them warm.  All of this combined has slowed down the evening's progress.  So we were both nervous about getting caught by the kids and trying to be extra fast!


Once we were done with the wrapping and the gift placement, Santa had two special gifts to leave for the kids that would not go beneath the tree.  He had a Spiderman teddy bear for Connor which we needed to dress into his Spiderman outfit before tucking it into Connor's arms while he slept.  I helped Santa dress the bear while he searched his bag for Miranda's special gift.  As I dressed the bear, I see this gaping hole in the crotch of the Spiderman outfit! 


Darn, I don't want to have to sew that up tonight!  I hope Santa has another one in his bag!  It is already getting so late!  Santa must be prepared for accidental breakage or damaged gifts, right? As I looked closer, I noticed that the hole was sewn on the edges, it is supposed to be there.   Gosh, I hope this teddy is not like those new dolls that poop or pees or something.  I want the name of the elf who came up with that brilliant idea!  A bear that potties and has a split in the crotch for just such an occasion is NOT my idea of a special gift!  HO HO HO!  Santa started to laugh!  The split in the crotch was for the teddy bear's tail to poke through.  Phew, crisis averted, no pooping teddy bear!


I finally got the body suit on the bear, and went for the mask, assuming it would have gaping tears for the ears to poke through.  Nope, nothing.  I stuffed the bear's head into the costume in time to see that Santa had pulled out a "Peef the Christmas Bear" teddy to slip into Miranda's arms as she slept. 

As I watched Santa slip those special gifts into the arms of my sleeping children, I realized how wonderful it is to be a mother.

What a wonderful night tonight has been. 

Even though I am exhausted and don't want to look at wrapping paper, scissors, or tape for another year, I wanted to wish a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

(Just an FYI... those of you who are Followers on this blog, thank you! Being a Follower does not do anything more than show me that you want to read it. If you want to receive the blog into your email inbox, you need to enter your name into the subscribe box on the upper right side of the page, wait for the blog to send you a confirmation email, then reply and you will receive the blog when it is published. Much easier than you going to look for it! Please, continue to follow and please subscribe! Thanks to all my readers for your support and your input!)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Peef? Really?? Peef?

I went to the local library today to get a Christmas movie for my children today.  With all the snow days we have had, I am a bit tired of watching the same Christmas movies over and over, even though I do love them!  As I went to check out the movie, I noticed this book on top of a shelving unit, "Peef, the Christmas Bear" by Tom Hegg.  My sister collects handmade and vintage teddy bears and I used to go to teddy bear shows with her, so I immediately noticed this book.  Adorning it's cover, is a handsome Santa holding an adorable multicolored teddy bear.  I whisked it off the shelf without taking any more of a look at it.  This was the book we should read before bed tonight.

And we read it. 

And I cried.

What a story!  I am not one for ruining the plot of a good book or movie, but it is all written here.  If you don't want to know the end, stop reading, and run to the children's section of your nearest library or book store!   It is a cute story about a teddy bear named Peef that Santa made for himself.  The bear is Santa's best friend for years, but Peef secretly longs for more.  The bear wants to be loved by a child, but never tells Santa this secret fearing it may hurt Santa's feelings.  Then one year, Santa decides to give his bear the gift that he knows the little bear wants, even though Peef has never told him. 

This Christmas story will really hit home with animal rescue people and shelter volunteers.  In rescue, we give our love to all of our dogs, the way Santa did with this little scrappy bear.  When it is time to give them to their loving new home, a piece of us goes with them.  We may not cry every time we adopt out one of our rescues.  We build up a level of strength so that eventually we pass them on with a hug and a knowing smile of how much love that little critter is going to get now that he or she is part of a happy and loving family.  But there are still those few that get the best of us, and we have a difficult time saying goodbye.

My daughter kept looking at me funny as I tried to finish the story.  As Santa prepared to pass on his favorite bear, his best friend, my voice was cracking, and tears were running down my face.  I am not sure she understood a word of the ending through my tears.  We agreed to read it again another night.

On my rescue group's adoptable pets page, there will surely be a rescued homeless huggable name "Peef" very soon. 

Perhaps he or she will find a new home by Christmas?

(Just an FYI... those of you who are Followers on this blog, thank you! Being a Follower does not do anything more than show me that you want to read it. If you want to receive the blog into your email inbox, you need to enter your name into the subscribe box on the upper right side of the page, wait for the blog to send you a confirmation email, then reply and you will receive the blog when it is published. Much easier than you going to look for it! Please, continue to follow and please subscribe! Thanks to all my readers for your support and your input!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

THAT WAS TOTALLY WICKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wicked.  That is a word we used a lot growing up in New England.  When the little boy in the Pixar movie "The Incredibles" witnesses his "superhero neighbor" saving the world, he screams out, "That was totally wicked!"  I LOVED IT!  How a single, simple word can bring back memories of growing up in New England.

Today is a snow day.  It is one of those days when you love it and you hate it.    Love the's so pretty!  Hate the's so heavy to shovel and awful to drive through!  Love that snow days are meant for family to lounge around, watch movies, and drink hot chocolate together.   I hate that snow days mean that as the boss, I have to leave my pajama and fleece blankey covered family and go to the clinic to care for the furry little friends.  I really don't mind the caring for the animals part, as I love the animals there, but leaving the family is bummer.  I remember when I was young, my Mom worked in a school so anytime that school was cancelled, we were home together all day.  Nothing to interfere with doing nothing.  It was great!

So here I am.  I only live a few blocks from the clinic, but I knew my car would present a problem.  The snowdrifts are so big I know I won't get my Dodge Caravan through them. I also knew that I did not hear a snow plow all morning so there were drifts at the end of our street as well as at the end of the driveway, and I am certain more drifts along the drive.  And the wind was SO bad that you could not see them coming until you were stuck in them. 

Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE facebook?  I do!  I really do!  I know more about what is going on in Jewell due to facebook than I do from any other source.  Facebook is where I found out school had been cancelled.  And it is where I found a friend blissfully passing his snow day playing games like Mafia Wars.  It suddenly came to me that he is a snowmobile guy!  AND he lives just around the corner from me!  I shoot him a question, "How much to get me to the clinic and pick me up in an hour?"  "Free" was the response!  His wonderful wife pops up on the chat screen, "Do you really need a ride?"  "Yes, I do."  "He will be there in 20 minutes!"  Wow, I couldn't have gotten better service from Acme Cab Company!  I changed my facebook status to "Getting an emergency snowmobile ride to the clinic.... a little nervous!"

He arrives on his snowmobile with my kids looking out the window watching, having never really seen a machine like that in person.  He gave me a helmet, gloves and his wife's ski pants to put on.   His skinny wife's ski pants.  Okay, really?  She is a skinny little thing, and me not so much, especially with 3 layers of pants on already!  I really had to choke those ski pants on!  I had no idea how I was going to get them off!  Can anyone say Jenny Craig?

My son waits at the door to see this tall guy dressed in snowmobile garb, all black with this big shiny black helmet still on his head.  I think my son thought he was a Transformer or Superhero!  My son starts running around acting like he is flying around the room, showing off for the obvious Superhero that is in our house and whisking his beautiful Mommy away! LOL!

After getting into those pants, we go outside and Iclimb onto the back of the snowmobile, or "sled", as the riders call them.  He takes off slowly, travels down the main roads, right to the door of the clinic.  Once I get in the door, off he goes, and I get to venture inside to take care of some of the cutest dogs and cats for the next hour! 

We have a group of eight dogs that were relinquished by commercial breeders to the  Peke N Chin Midwest Rescue group.  They are at my clinic for vet work.  Several Pekingese and several shih tzus and yorkie type mixes.  Very cute and fuzzy.  I would literally run the dogs outside, clean their cage very quickly, and run back out to get them.  The neighbors were probably laughing at me running stiff-legged in 4 layers of pants, snow boots, and what looked like just a long sleeve t-shirt only.   I had removed my sweatshirt and coat because I couldn't bend my arms to clean the cages!  ROBOT LADY CLEAN CAGE...not so easy!  The dogs were literally outside for a few minutes while I pulled the old blankets out of the cage, cleaned the cage, and threw new blankets into the cage.  I then ran back outside to grab them up again, their fur all snow covered, and I would run them back inside to their cage with extra food and water, and extra blankets and some donated little oval dog beds for them to curl up in, to keep them warm as they thawed from those few moments outside. 

As I am finishing up the dishes, in walks TransformerMan!  Perfect timing!  His wife is with him with her own snowmobile and transformer superhero suit...time for a ride!  Gulp and WOOOHOOOO!  I gather up my belongings.  We pick up the holiday wreaths that once decorated my clinic, but were now blown all around the parking lot by the still bombarding blizzard winds.  Off we go!  They drove me around the back roads of the clinic to the walking trail!  He thought it might be "more exciting".  The trail was all snow covered and full of drifts, big ones.   Periodically, he would look back to make sure his wife was still following us.  I know on motorcycles, you are supposed to lean with the other rider.  I forgot to ask if it was the same for snowmobiles.  Sometimes we leaned so far over I thought I might lean too far and  flop off into the drift and just wave as his wife rode by me or over me.  His speed kept increasing as he felt more comfortable that I was not going to panic and jump off!   By the end of the ride, we were hitting these drifts so big and so fast that my big fanny was leaving the seat (not an easy feat) as the snowmobile sailed through the air and not so gently landed back on the ground!  

After thanking them both for the help and the joyride, I went inside and thawed.  After a bit, I logged back onto facebook.  I posted a photo of my son wearing the Transformerman helmet with the caption "SpiderTransformerVaderMan".  I noticed that TransformerMan posted a message for me.  "Hope I didn't scare you too much!!!"  My response, "Nope, loved it! I just wished my arms were longer.  I thought I was going to bounce off a few times! LOL!"

 I then updated my facebook status to "THAT WAS TOTALLY WICKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  Do I dare tell him that I hope we get another blizzard tomorrow!

(Just an FYI...  those of you who are Followers on this blog, thank you!   Being a Follower does not do anything more than show me you want to read it.  If you want to receive the blog into your email inbox, you need to enter your name into the subscribe box on the upper right side of the page, wait for the blog to send you a confirmation email, then reply and you will receive the blog when it is published.  Much easier than you going to look for it!    Please, continue to follow and please subscribe!  Thanks to all my readers for your support and your input!)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Beware of Blog!

The last blog was controversial, and I knew it would be.  I posted all comments, the good, the bad, and the ugly and tried to respond to them in the best way I could.  But it seems my blogs have been featured in some pretty strange places.  It was mentioned in a Craig's List post and at a Listening Post almost two hours away from my home and my business. 

On Craigs List was the following anonymous post, "If you are giving away puppies free to good homes BEWARE.... I just happened to come across a blog written by a VET rescue that stated that they actually lie to get the free puppies to take to their shelters. The gentleman was approached by the rescue to get his free puppies and he said no, so they called him back pretending to be good homes so they could take 4 of his pups. ANY rescue that is willing to out and out lie about who they are makes me wonder what else they lie about. NOT MAking money on these puppies???? IF they really were doing rescue only for the love of helping then they would offer free spay and neuter programs to people and watch how that would help the pet over-population, after all she is a vet, right...If they want to be trusted they had better be trustworthy... "

I think BEWARE is a pretty strong term.  These pups are in a great place with this particular rescue, the only reason I discussed this issue was because I did know the quality of the situation that these dogs were going into.  There are rescues that are really covers for hoarders and collectors that are not good places for animals to go, but this blog was written about a certain group of pups, who went to a particular rescue, and are in a safe place.  I knew the topic of misleading a person, even if the breeding was irresponsible, to get pups into rescue would get some interest and feedback, and that is what I wanted.  I also wanted some insight into why this person would say no to this rescue.  This is a forum for discussion.  However, I would appreciate if the remarks would come as comments to my blog and not be posted on some other website where I cannot respond to the person's remarks.  How cowardly is it to post a remark like this and not put it where the person it is directed toward will find it and respond to it?  How cowardly is it to post a remark like this, hide it on another website, AND not sign your name to it?  Most of the harsh comments I get are from Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous.  Your words are there, but they mean less without a name or identity attached.

To address the "free spay and neuter programs" there are states that do programs such as this but they are usually funded by another source, sometimes governmental, and you have to qualify as low income to get your animal fixed in this program.  But to state that I should just do free spays and neuters is silly.  It costs money to do surgery, to own a building, and to operate a business, and the education cost a fortune!  You go to your boss and tell him or her that you love your job so much that you will work for free from now on.  That will show everyone how dedicated you are, and if you really love it, then you will do it.  Everyone needs money to live, like it or not.  A free spay/neuter program would be wonderful, and I would definitely support it, and hopefully be active in it, but it will not help with overpopulation in a state with over 400 licensed commercial breeders pumping out thousands of puppies and kittens every year.

I was sick this weekend so could not attend the Puppy Mill Listening Post in Carroll IA.  Apparently my blog was a topic of conversation.  If the only way local breeders can distract people from talking about the mass production of puppies and kittens is by taking shots at my blog or my clinic, then you are missing something very important.  The listening post is a place to voice your opinion about legislation that is being presented in the state house.  My clinic is not being presented in the state house.  This blog is not being presented in the state house.  This blog is my personal outlet, my toy, my addiction, my therapy, my fun, my monkey on my back...  Those who write blogs probably know what I mean.  I love writing it, love getting feedback, hate when I cannot think of a topic, hate when I cannot find time to sit down and write. 

If you don't like what I have to say, then don't read it, and certainly don't post comments on some other forum.   I have been supportive of the legislation, but have not villified any particular breeders.  So why are you targeting me?  I have not targetted you.   If I were to shut my doors tomorrow, it would not change the legislation.  And the legislation will only affect those at the bottom of the barrel.  If you are a quality breeder, let the legislation affect the sludge, and increase your sales by eliminating the low quality competition.

Those local breeders ranting about me are going to be upset when the bill passes and all they have done is shoot down my blog, rather than convince people that there are good quality breeding facilities out there and that they are among them.  That is what you should be doing.

http://www.globegaz articles/ 2009/11/18/ news/latest/ doc4b038852e4322 462418570. txt#vmix_ media_id= 7382064

Showing up at a discussion regarding a legislative effort, and ranting about me, my blog, my clinic, etc, is like going into a Victoria Secrets and having a fit because the tools you bought at Sears don't work...  You are in the wrong place and you just look silly.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Free to Good Home...

In animal rescue, we run into problems. Financial problems? We got those. Staffing problems? We got those. Volunteer problems? We got those. Shortage of homes problems? We got those. Overabundance of animals problems? We got those. Up to your knees in poop problems? We got those. People unwilling to give their "Free to Good Home" animal to a rescue problem? We got those!

When rescue people see ads for animals "Free to a Good Home", most rescues jump on them if they have room in their program. "Free to Good Home" pets are rarely given ONLY to good homes. If you walk in for a pup, you walk away with a pup, no reference checks, no applications, nothing. The owners are often just eager to get rid of the pesky buggars. No matter how cute they are, an entire litter of puppies or kittens can cause a lot of mess that needs constant cleaning. The owners just want to get rid of the issue, get rid of the mess, and clean for the last time.

I was working at another veterinary hospital, and we had a client that owned a commercial breeding facility. He is a very nice guy and we get along just fine despite my general concern for the quality of animal care in these commercial breeding facilities. He always got his animals checked out by a veterinarian, so I give him credit for that. He was biding his time in the waiting room looking at the bulletin board that has many flyers on it. He picked one off the board, and made a phone call. When I called him into the room for his appointment, he handed me the flyer and he said, "You can throw this one away. They are gone". I looked at the flyer and it said, "Two 3 month old schnauzer puppies Free to Good Home". If they had still been available, they would be in his care, and I don't care how wonderful his facility might be, the quality of life for those Free to Good Home pups would not be the same as being a house pet...sleeping on the bed at night, running to the door when you hear your owner's car return from work, chewing on slippers, etc.

Today I took in 4 adorable mix breed puppies from a rescue group. The rescue group had called the gentleman that was advertising 14 mixed breed puppies that were six weeks old Free to a Good Home. Yes, I did say 14! What a mess they must make! When they told the gentleman they were a rescue group and would make sure the puppies were vetted and cared for in experienced foster homes until a forever home was found, the gentleman said "No".

I do not understand why anyone would say no to that! Here is a group willing to take away your problem, all 14 of them in one big swoop. That rescue group is willing to pay a veterinarian for all the veterinary care including vaccines, deworming, flea protection, spay/neuter when they are old enough, microchipping, boarding expenses, any other necessary medical expenses, provide transportation from his front door to the pups' new foster homes, provide foster care for these puppies with a real family, not kept in a kennel like most shelters, and review applications thoroughly including home visits to prospective families for all 14 puppies. This is not an easy or inexpensive task, yet they were willing to do it for the sake of the puppies. They were willing to do it to ensure that the homes these puppies go to have had a veterinary reference checked. They are willing to do it to ensure that the adopting family does not live in a building that does not allow pets (yes, you would be amazed how many times this knocks out our potential adopters!). They are willing to do it to ensure that these puppies go to a home that understands what a puppy needs now, what a dog needs in the years to come, and what a senior dog will require in 10 years.

Financial gain? Does this gentleman think this group will run off and make a bunch of money on HIS puppies? This rescue group's adoption fee for puppies is $275. Go to your phone and call your veterinarian. Get an estimate for an office visit and exam, distemper combo vaccine with parvo and corona, kennel cough vaccine, rabies, fecal exam and deworming, monthly heartworm pill, monthly flea and tick treatment, pedicure, spay or neuter, and a microchip. I will bet you would lose money on that deal! Keep in mind that this rescue group is paying for boarding until transport is found to get these four puppies to their new foster homes. If these puppies are in foster care for more than three weeks, it means more vaccines, more deworming, more flea control, more heartworm pills, more medical expenses... Do you get my point?

These are mixed breed puppies, cute as they are (and they are cute) there is no "market" waiting for these puppies. People will say, "I have always wanted a...(enter breed name here)." This phrase rarely ends in "large mixed breed dog". In this economy, there is no guarantee that with large mixed breed dogs, even if they are cute little puppies now, that a qualified adopter will be found quickly. It is the sad truth.

But the gentleman said, "No". So where do we go from here. Another volunteer called the gentleman back, and said she was looking for some farm dogs for herself and for her sister. Voila, four out of fourteen puppies safe and sound...

Most of the other ten puppies will likely go to good homes, be well cared for, go to the vet, and get spayed/neutered. Because they are mixed breed dogs, they will not likely end up in a professional breeding facility. Some may end up tied to a tree in the back yard for their lifetime due to the lack of screening for "Good Homes". Some might end up pregnant or causing pregnancies because their unscreened owner neglected to spay/neuter a dog that was free anyway. So here we would have a puppy that was irresponsibly bred, that could have gone to rescue, but is now part of the pet overpopulation problem and producing more unwanted litters because one man could not see the benefit of sending a large unwanted litter of puppies into rescue.

There are those that judge us for the deceptive nature of a rescue mission such as this. I don't like that it occasionally has to be done this way. Most times we get an immediate "Yes" when we call. Sometimes we can convince the hesitant person that we are the best place for the animal. Sometimes, we cannot change whatever negative perception of rescue is clouding this person's mind. I am thoroughly confused by the fact that a person can be willing to give an animal away to anyone, but that same person is not willing to give the same free animal to anyone associated with a "rescue". This particular rescue group does not have any significant financial gain in the adoption of the pups. The adoption market is poor right now, new forever homes are hard to find in an economy where animals are constantly being relinquished due to job loss, housing changes, even marital changes.

As long as these four dogs are alive, if ever the new family is unable to care for them, these four puppies will be welcomed back into this rescue to be rehomed. They will be welcomed back whether they are four months old, four years old, or fourteen years old. Life situations may change for their owners, but these puppies have a type of life insurance policy that has been given to them by this rescue group and its team of volunteers, including transportation volunteers, foster home volunteers, volunteers that run the computer/communications, read applications, do home visits, recieve and return phone calls, open mail, pay bills, keep track of volunteer hours, monitor transports to make sure everyone meets on time and at the right place, fundraising volunteers, etc.

Who could say no to that?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Wish you were here!

So, I am not a farm girl.  I admit that.  As a result, vet school was a truly enriching and enlightening experience.  In freshman anatomy we had a pop quiz.  We were to identify a segment of the bovine penis as shown on the slide... yes slide, not computer...did I just date myself?  We used pens, pencils, and notebooks too, sometimes even a highlighter!  I thought I had answered the question correctly writing, "The sigmoid flexure of the penis of a cow."  When I received the quiz back, the teacher had written in big red letters, "Cows do not have penises!"  

For Halloween that year I bought a cow outfit complete with tail and udder.  I went to the Halloween party with some friends, and they looked at me and said my husband was there.  Being very single at the time, I looked to where their attention was, and there was a young man in my exact outfit, except he had performed a slight modification.  He had removed the utter and in it's place stitched in a pair of Holstein style testes that were white with black spots, and a stuffed spotted penis. Instinctually, I ran over to this verile and handsome bull yelling, "Honey, I'm home" and gave this complete stranger a big hug!  I never even got his name!

Eventually, vet students get to do palpation class, even those of us who have never been around livestock of any sort.  Those of you not familiar with large animal medicine, palpation in this context means we put our entire arm up the bumm of a cow to feel the ovaries, uterus, or whatever else might be medically important.  All I can think is, "Cow's kick, right?  That would hurt, right?"  I show up for class wearing my freshman year Halloween costume...with one slight modification.  I made a cardboard image of a traffic sign reading ..."DO NOT ENTER" and pinned it to my butt.  The student's loved it, but I will admit, I was a bit nervous about the professor's arrival.  He walked in and looked at me.  He said dryly, "Nice."  With a little smirk, he walked over to the countertop.  He pulled a plastic shoulder length glove out of a box, put it on and started chasing me around the room!  One of my classmates grabbed their camera, and yes, this photo ended up in our yearbook.  One of my proudest moments!  The day did not end there.

The humor took some of the nerves of what I was about to do away...but still, arm up a cow's bumm?  Cow's kick, right?  That would hurt, right?

The professor told us to put on the shoulder length glove (sleeve), which is a clear plastic like a sandwich bag, then put an exam glove/rubber glove over that up to our wrist.  If you have significant fingernails, the plastic sleeve could rip, and you could end up with cow poo in your fingernails. Nice.  So, I follow instructions.  My friend and I chose cows right next to each other for moral support because cow's kick, right?  That would hurt, right?   We put our arms up the alley,  and it was fine.  I mean cow poo doesn't smell like dog or cat poo.  That is good.  It is kind of sandy feeling and you could feel ripples of the colon contracting like a snake up and down your arms.  Interesting.  Then it happened.  My cow coughed or hiccoughed or something.  It startled me.  It startled me enough to make me try to pull my arm out...but it wouldn't come out.  The shorter glove had inflated with gas, yes cow toot inflated my glove so large that I could not pull my hand out of the cow bumm.  Now I started to panic, yelling, "Let me go, let me go, let me go!"  with my eyes closed, and I was stamping my feet like a three year old who didn't want to go into the doctor's office.  Then it occurred to me.  I hadn't been kicked, my cow wasn't angry with me, and my cow certainly wasn't constricting it's bumm in order to intentionally keep me from getting away!  I opened my eyes to see a row of other students, with their arms up cow bumms looking at me with the "I am about to die laughing" look on their faces.  My professor came over, reached into my cow and deflated my glove for me.  I was then able to pull my hand out of that vicious cow and it was over. 

My Christsmas card that year was a photo card.  One of me with my hand up a cow bumm and a simple heartwarming sentiment, "Merry Christmas!  Wish you were here!" 

My father received that card and was so proud that he took it to my sister's office at work.  She was a principal in a middle school.  She said, "Dad, I got one too."  He responded, "What a great photo of her...but why is she leaning on that horse?"

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Big Get Bigger, the little get ignored...

I am back! No I have not deserted you, despite the lack of writing for what, ten days?  I went on a three day vacation that took 3 days to get ready for and 5 days to catch up after!

I have a few things draining my brain tonight.  Things I don't necessarily understand, so that is why they sit in my brain, eating what few brain cells I have left, until I sit down, type it here, and let it go.

We applied for a Maddie's Fund grant.   I read this on their website, and thought, "WOW, is this group made for us!"  A quote from their website reads, "Guided by its mission to revolutionize the status and well-being of companion animals, Maddie's Fund® is devoting its resources to help build a no-kill nation. Towards that end, Maddie's Fund wants to support local coalitions that combine the talents and resources of adoption guarantee organizations, animal control agencies, and traditional shelters to end the killing of healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats in their communities within 10 years."

I applied for a grant with Maddie's fund on Friday morning.  Friday afternoon they called me!  Awesome!  This must be good news! Right?  The woman on the phone said, "We reviewed your application at our one hour meeting."  I am ready to scream with joy!  She continued with, "and we cannot give you any money. We only give money to communities with a population of 100,000 people.  There is just no way we can give you any funding."  All I could say was, "Okay", and I hung up the phone in disbelief.  Wow.  I didn't even have a few days of being hopeful as I eagerly awaited their response to our application.  It just came down on me within hours like a tornado in a trailer park.  Everything was gone at that point.  They didn't even try to learn more about us, and what we are doing.

We are PERFECT for their goals!  They fund spay/neuter programs, veterinary clinics, animal control, shelters.  They fund everything for other groups,that we provide for an entire county in Iowa that has no other form of humane animal control, but they won't help us !

NO OTHER FORM OF HUMANE ANIMAL CONTROL!  This entire county in Iowa, has a population of approximately 16,500 people.  Much smaller than Maddie's fund requirements of 100,000 people.  All I can say is that I was and am still stunned.  I am providing veterinary care to stray dogs and cats, owner relinquished pets during this terrible economy, puppy mill surrendered animals also during a terrible economy, and shelter transfer pets that were at high risk for euthanasia.  I am providing these animals with a temporary home (some more temporary than others), food and shelter, veterinary care, human and humane attention that some have never had before, and I am giving them a chance at finding that loving home they deserve, no matter how long it takes.  I am assisting in getting laws enacted to protect those animals in the care of commercial breeding facilities. Then I find a group that I am certain will fund my efforts if even in a small way, and they say, we are too small?  Tell that to the 600+ animals we have cared for, sheltered, rescued, and rehomed!  Not bad for a vet in a small town of only 1200 people, ey?  The good thing about this small community, is the limited overhead.  Yes, I could do this in Des Moines, or Chicago, nice big communities that will meet that population requirement, but I would have to put all the money I get into paying for the land and building!  Animal Rescue is certainly one place where size does not matter!

Looking at the Maddie's Fund website, I see a sweet picture of a Miniature Schnauzer, named Maddie, of course.  It is in her memory that this fund was started.  I think of the dozens of Schnauzers that went through my clinic in a weeks time.  They were puppy mill Schnauzers.  A friend of mine runs a spay neuter clinic and does animal rescue, APE and knew that these dogs were in dire need of dental care, something she did not have the equipment to provide.  So rather than just run them through her spay/neuter clinic and leave the dentals for the rescue groups to fund and provide (which would require being placed under anesthesia a second time, not the best idea for senior dogs), I did the vet work which included dentals at a significantly reduced rate.  These teeth were so bad the jawbones were also rotting.  They had oral infections like I had never seen.  Fur wrapped like Christmas lights around the base of their teeth.  When I removed the tartar, the teeth would fall out of the mouth.  The tartar buildup was the only thing holding these teeth in their sockets.  In one dog, the bone had rotted through from a tooth bed infection so far that it had created a fracture.  These dogs all went to a schnauzer rescue and have hopefully all found their first and forever homes.  I wonder if the rescue they went to qualified for a Maddie's fund grant?

Now, I am not trying to say that Maddie's fund is not a good program.  I am trying to say that judging a rescue group by their local population is NOT a good way to " help build a no-kill nation so that shelter dogs and cats can be guaranteed a loving home".  It is a good way to allow and propagate primitive animal control methods in rural areas that need the assistance the most.

Last weekend as we drove off on our vacation, we drove past a commercial breeding facility that has given us dozens of their retirees over the past few years.  We have not heard from them in a while, and I wondered if another breeder friend of theirs, who has written articles in the Iowa Pet Breeder Association newsletter telling other breeders not to give their retired dogs to rescue, had convinced them to cease giving us their retired dogs.  I recently testified at a senate committee meeting to encourage the passage of Iowa's puppy mill bill.  I also wondered and worried about whether this action would get any of our breeders to stop giving us their retired dogs.  As I drove by this breeder's facility, I could see fresh upturned circular mounds located in a corn field right behind the property.  I wondered if these were grave sites.  I wonder if this facility has gone back to shooting the unproductive dogs, something they openly said they did prior to our services.  I hope that I hear from them in the weeks to come, which will set my mind at ease, but I fear that I will not. 

The changes our small group is making are huge.  And we could do better if we could get some decent funding.  We do not limit ourselves to our 16,500 population county.  We have rescued animals from shelters and breeders from counties all over Iowa, from Missouri, from Nebraska, and from Illinois.  Our biggest clients for our discounted rescue vetwork are from Minnesota and Wisconsin, with some of the smaller repeat clients being from New Hampshire and South Dakota.    It is too bad that the folks at Maddie's fund see us as insignificant.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

A dog named Favre?

I am feeling extremely overwhelmed!  So many animals for adoption and so few adoptees!  I walk into the clinic and want to walk back out to hide myself from my current reality.  I get this panicky feeling every once in a while and my employees know it and they understand it, thank goodness.  But I hate when I feel this way.  I am not the one cleaning all these dogs' and cats' cages!  So it has nothing to do with being overwhelmed with the residuals of rescue if you know what I mean.  It has to do with, "How am I going to find these animals homes or rescues that will take them?  And what do I do if we cannot?"  I have a great, hardworking, underpaid staff.  I appreciate all of them so much despite the occasional drama that breaks out.  If you know them too, please extend a thanks and appreciation out to them.  They really do deserve more than what I am able to give them.  They bust their butts daily taking care of these animals, for the same reasons I do...for the love of helping them survive in a day when animals are disposable.

I am deviating from my normal blog topic to discuss something NOT about animals.  Okay, now don't click away all you animal lovers.  There is still a good point to make.

Brett Favre.  There, I said it.  Brett Favre.  I am a Green Bay Packer fan.  I learned it from my husband.  I am originally from Rhode Island, so I am also a New England Patriots fan.  I will always enjoy a good Green Bay game or a good New England game.  But I still like Brett Favre.  Now he wears purple.

There is much information about Brett and his "retirement/non retirement" out there and I don't claim to have any inside information, or to have a complete grasp of all the outside information about the situation that there is.  But I want to ask everyone a question.

If you did exactly what you love to do, and were really REALLY good at it, and got paid really REALLY well for it, how easy would it be for you to say, "Okay, I am going to retire and NEVER do this thing that I love so much again" at the ripe old retirement age of thirty something?  The man is in his mid thirties, and is asked if he is ready to retire FOREVER from a game he loves to play and has played since he was a kid. 

Granted, the game of football is very physical and demands an earlier retirement age than most careers.  Brett Favre is not throwing the same statistics that he was years ago, but he is still one of the best quarterbacks out there.  The flip flopping was annoying.  I admit it.  But I can understand it.  It may even have been an ego boost to have a team ask you not to retire.  And here is where some of you may feel that I am naive, I don't think Brett had a scheme to abandon the Packers.  I do believe that when he was not given the opportunity to return the last time, that he got angry and decided, "I'll show you".  Who could blame him?  I would be upset if I gave my all to a team for years, still played very well, and they decided not to take me back after I thought I was ready to give it all up.

If someone handed me a ton of money, and I no longer needed to "work" for a living, you bet, I would take a great vacation and buy a few things that I want for myself or my family, and pay off loans. But I can bet you that I would be back spaying and neutering animals at shelters, running TNR programs. I would still be actively involved in the rescue field. Not managing it, not monitoring it, I would still be right there in it as long as my hands allow me.  I may limit myself to a 4 day work week...well probably not...but it sounds nice!  So I can understand why Brett had such a difficult time deciding to end his career permanently at such a young and vibrant age. I feel as though I barely reached my potential in my thirties and in some ways am just reaching it in my early (very early) forties.  Wow, did I say forties?  Reality can hit like a brick!

This weekend Packers play the Vikings.  Is it possible for both teams to win?  Unfortunately not.  I will be wearing green.  And I know I will be happy no matter who wins.  (whisper...go brett)

Now go to my website and adopt a pet! 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

It's a Small World After All...

Is the world getting smaller?  I know when they invented television, they said the world got smaller because if you could not afford to travel, you could see exotic places and shows on the "boob tube".  Then along comes the internet... smaller still.  Instantly emailing people anywhere in the world without the envelope, stamp and lag time...priceless.  Shopping in distant places for things you probably wouldn't have bought, but since you found it and like it, woo hoo, whip out the credit card...may not be priceless, it definitely has a price,  but it is lots of fun!  (Don't share that one with my husband please...ebay ebay ebay...)  This world of ours seems to have gotten even smaller, at least for me.   My rescue world shrank with the addition of two important websites, one of which will not surprise you, but perhaps the other one will.   (I receive no benefits for talking about any websites, products, or groups...although I might consider it, so give me a call if you are interested...just make sure I like your product...LOL). changed my life. It allowed me to hold on to my animal hospital that I likely would have abandoned had Petfinder not made itself available.  Owning a veterinary clinic was my dream.  I work in a very small town.  1200 people live in my town.    Prior to my clinic's opening, some stray animals were taken to a veterinarian in another town, but they were often euthanized at the end of their required hold time.  Most animals were shot on sight prior to my clinic's opening.  I take in strays from my town and from several of the surrounding towns as well. There is no where else for the strays to go. We have no humane society, no dog pound.  My clinic functions as both.  Finding homes for the strays within the little town I live in is not a good situation.  Trust me, I have saturated the local market.  No one here wants another dog or cat!

With Petfinder, I am able to place my adoptable pets on this intangible internet.  As a result, people have adopted animals from me from all over the U.S. including Washington State, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, New Hampshire, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Connecticut.  These are all homes that would not have been available to my rescued pets without this wonderful resource.  I used Petfinder for several years until the Pet Adoption Portal became available.  I can be resistant to change so it took the constant nudging by a few friends for me to change websites.  I never left Petfinder really, as the Pet Adoption Portal uploaded all of my information to the Petfinder website as well as, and some other animal rescue websites as well.  I could reach more people with the same amount of work as I am used to doing in order to share my homeless huggables with the world.

Recently Petfinder decided to quit allowing Pet Adoption Portal to upload to it's website.  I don't know the reason for the change.  Bureaucratic differences I would assume.  But due to this change, Petfinder is creating more work for the rescue groups and shelters.  Any shelter that was using Pet Adoption Portal to instantly list their pets on multiple websites (last count is 23 different websites) will continue to do so.  It is too easy not to use it.  Will they continue to use Petfinder?  I know I will, but not in the same way. 

Due to Petfinder's split from Pet Adoption Portal, I have to upload each pet to 4 different websites in order to hit the same market as before the Petfinder split.  I have 3 different websites on Petfinder, so when they split from Pet Adoption Portal, this meant I needed to list one dog on 3 separate Petfinder websites, then on Pet Adoption Portal.  I have to copy and paste each pet's biography to make sure they are the same on each website.  So much more work than before, and very time consuming.  As a result, I will no longer use my Petfinder site for sharing my adoptable pets. I used my Petfinder website as my main adoption website for years. It was easy to remember, easy to share. It was on my clinic's website, on my business cards. It is no longer the link on my website, and when I order new business cards, the Petfinder site will not be on there. When Petfinder and Pet Adoption Portal work together, everyone benefits.  When these two groups, who share the desire, to help animals find homes, argue with each other, they are hurting the very people and animals they desire to help.

I am still very grateful to Petfinder for saving my animal hospital and helping me find my course in life as an animal rescuer.  If I did not have the Petfinder outlet for my adoptables, the only other options for the homeless animals at my clinic would have been euthanasia by me at my clinic, or dropping them off at a shelter that is always overloaded and underfunded and would likely result in euthanasia.  I hate euthanizing a healthy adoptable pet.  An animal who is severely injured beyond repair, an animal with a fatal illness, an animal with severe behavioral problems...  euthanasia can be a way to give these animals their dignity back.  But to euthanize a healthy animal simply for not having a home...well, damn, let's find it a home.  This is not a profitable way to run a business, but it gives me a good reason to wake up each morning.

The second website changing the animal rescue world is Now there is a lot of junk on Facebook.  Many of the rescue "groups" that you can become a member of on Facebook are just cardboard. Most of them are created by people who care about animals, start a Facebook group, invite members, sit back and just watch it grow.  They don't update, they don't educate, they don't activate their members.  It is a way of sharing your interests with people you know, but is not much more than that.

Some groups, however, are quite active.  I have two very active animal rescue groups on Facebook.  "Animal Alliance and Puppy Mill Rescue" and "Iowa Voters for Companion Animals".  Anyone is welcome to join either group.  I try to keep the Iowa group for Iowa voters, but it is open to anyone interested in learning more about Iowa's companion animal welfare laws.  You can visit their personal website at .   The Iowa voters group is not my creation, I just maintain the Facebook page.  The Animal Alliance group is my personal rescue group.  I have members from all over the world.  It is an active group, and members will receive messages that I feel are important to share. I lose a few members each time I send out messages.  The dormant people get annoyed by an active inbox and leave the group, and that is just fine with me.  I want people in my group that want to learn, want to share, and want to make changes for the better.

The reason I believe Facebook is helping to shrink the animal rescue world is because people share local happenings and it instantly gets transmitted to hundreds perhaps thousands of people within minutes!  For example, a local rescuer is trying to get some pet owner's to relinquish a dog that is chained outside all the time without food and water.  The police visited the property, and declared the dog a healthy weight, and told the owner's to give it food and water.  She posted this with photos on Facebook.   I can assure you that this small town is being bombarded with phone calls from everywhere.  Someone who responded to the call for help emailed, "Called the court house and they said he is fine. He (the dog) has been checked out… and asked me if I saw it on facebook ".  Really? 

Now, there is a down side to this publicity, too.  Perhaps several down sides. 

If you are in Puppyville, IA and you are getting phone calls from Kittyville, RI, are they going to take these long distance phone calls seriously?  If a person is steamed when they call, and sprinkles obscenities throughout the conversation, are they going to take these phone calls seriously?   When you read these postings, is it possible that you may not have the most current or the most accurate information about the situation? 

My advice to people who respond to calls for action is to be adult about the situation.  Learn as much as you can about the situation prior to taking any action, including talking to the person at the other end of the phone about the status of the case.  The more distinquished and mature you sound while discussing the matter, the more weight your opinion will hold.  The more human, and less tazmanian devil, you appear on the phone, the more respect your opinion will gain.  If after you gain the knowledge you desire about the situation, action is still called for, then take it.  Make the phone call, send the email, send the snail mail.  Do whatever you are capable of doing.

To make my point, I received another email about that outside dog stating, "i believe that someone from the Humane Society went out and checked on the dog...and the dog was not considered thin. the owners were told that food and water had to be made available and that they had until the 23rd to get the dog UTD on shots. this was posted on the FB page last night and she said that the dog had food and water now. the problem is that this is just another sad case of a dog chained 24/7 and that the codes of the city allow it. i told her that she needed to work to get the codes changed, gave her copies of the other town codes that we got changed, and that it would be a slow process but would ultimately help more dogs. instead, she's chosen to contact every rescue around to encourage people to contact the local HS, the city, etc. and just piss everyone off. the dog is not starving, now has food and water, and a crappy shelter, but there is nothing that can be done until the codes are changed. it sucks but pissing everyone off that she will eventually need on her side to get things changed is not the answer. i told her it takes time and education...and she took this route so i'm done."

Now all three of these people are in rescue to help the animals.  They all have many things in common yet here they stand, arguing with each other. They all have huge hearts, and devote more time and money than they have to rescue work.  I do believe that they all have a good point.  The dog should not be tied outside all the time without food and water.    It should not take the efforts of law enforcement to get the owner's to give the dog food and water.   The way to prevent this type of situation is to change the local codes.  This is not easy, and is very time consuming, but it is critical to preventing it from happening again.  The enigma here is what to do about this particular dog, since the owner's won't relinquish it, and law enforcement sees no reason to confiscate it.  I certainly would monitor the situation very closely because it is the dog that will suffer if you don't.  Monitor and document violations in the best way possible.  You have to attack the root of any situation or that ugly weed will keep popping up.  Get that code changed.  And here we stand with our rescue people at odds.  When they work together, everyone benefits. When they argue with each other, they are hurting the very people and animals they desire to help.

With the addition of these websites, and their siblings (ie pets911, myspace, etc.) people everywhere in the world can help and hurt a situation.  Thank you Petfinder for helping me to find my way.  Now open your eyes to the hurt you have caused by separating from the Pet Adoption Portal and work together.  To my rescue ladies, lets work together to monitor the case, ignore our differences, and change those codes together.  I think I will look into our own local codes as a preventative measure.

The increased knowledge of what is going on in places other than our neck of the woods creates a Big Brother scenario that will hold everyone up to the same bar, and hopefully keep people on their toes and motivate them to do right.

  "The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people."


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Just a Note to Say HI!

I asked a very old friend friend of mine that I was close with back in the 1980's a question, and at the end of his response was, "Hope that answers your question. By the way, a little note once in a while just to say hi would be nice."

In my spare time tonight, I responded to his statement with the following paragraph.  I am cheating tonight and using it as my blog because I find it amusing!

"Ok, here is my life in a nutshell. I am making little to no money but love what I do. I work endless hours at the clinic, I come home to Mommy two adorable kids, one being significantly more difficult than the other (let you guess which). I am actively trying to change legislation, and testified at the senate committee meeting regarding puppy mills. I am also trying to begin veterinarian coalition for animal welfare. i market on facebook, and putz around on facebook. i am writing a blog which I hope someday can be the notes i need to write a book. I am amazed that the people who supposedly care the most about me are the only ones NOT reading my blog, ironic because this is where i spill my guts about myself, what i do, my good days and bad days, and the people who miss me because i don't live close anymore don't care enough to read it. i love photography but find little time for anything more than photos of adoptable animals and candid shots of two adorable kids. i cannot find time to work out, and know how important it is that i lose this weight and learn to eat right for the sake of myself and my kids. i am on a bowling league, and finished golf league. i don't cook but want to try to find time to at least use the slow cooker for healthier meals for the family, but morning has even less time than the rest of the day for cooking. i want to start a petition to God to create an 8th day called Liserday, just for me to have even a few moments to myself but I would likely use that day to try to play catch up on all the things I feel so behind on... I am overrun at the clinic with adoptable animals because of a cruddy economy. If you know of anyone wanting to adopt a pet send them to my website, and if you dont know my website, shame on you.

That is it in a nutshell.

So, Dave, how are yoU? "

Now I have to go clean the house for the Halloween party my kids are having this Saturday...
Anyone want to help?

Monday, October 19, 2009

No shelter license? Okay, then just go away, and let these nice people clean up this mess...

This is getting a little out of hand.    I have seen at least three emails in the last week of commercial breeders getting rid of their dogs.  Puppy mills are liquidating their stock into rescues.  Whether they are downsizing or closing...who knows.  These dogs are usually the ones that the breeders are unable to sell to customers, or sell to other breeders. Sometimes they are just older pups, sometimes they are older breeding stock that are not performing, sometimes they have an illness or defect that makes them undesirable.  These are the type of dogs I get into my adoption program, as do most rescue groups who deal with breeder relinquishments.

Even hoarders are unloading.  A rescue friend of mine from Peke N Chin Midwest saw a car full of crates, and assumed the person was in animal rescue.  She starting talking to the person and discovered that she was a hoarder.  She was trying to get rid of her dogs in the best way she knew how.  My friend took four of them.  Some were fixed, some were not.  They are now!  We did them today.  Overall, they are a pretty healthy little group.  One little pekingese has an eye deformity that makes the eyes protrude too much from the sockets.  The nest the eye sits in is too shallow making it hard for the dog to blink well, and making the eyes more prone to traumatic injury, inflammation, and dry eye.  She has corneal pigmentation as a result which will impair her vision some...but she should do fine in the right household. 

I knew these four dogs were not from a breeder because the lady wrote down little detailed biographies of each dog to the best of her ability.  She must have written these bios up prior to leaving the house with the dogs.  She had notes of any veterinary care they did have, some had more than others. She discussed where she got them, and what their personalities were like.  She cared for the dogs in her own way. For some reason, she recently became aware she couldn't keep them.  Could she not afford the food?  Was she being evicted?  Was she being harrassed by animal control?  I don't know.  But thank goodness she ran into my friend.  These four fluffies are safe, and I hope the others she drove off with are as well.

 In the previous blog, I discussed a group of dogs in the shelter in Missouri.  A rescue call had gone out from a shelter volunteer stating that it was overwhelmed and had gassed 30 dogs the previous week, could someone please help with these dogs.  Looking at the few photos they had attached to the email, many of the dogs were small dogs and many were purebreds.  She had mentioned that there was an overwhelming number of shih tzu in the bunch.  I assumed a breeder had unloaded their stock on the shelter.  It happens all the time.   I found out later they had come from a hoarder.  I don't know if they were confiscated from the hoarder, or if the hoarder recognized her problem and relinquished the dogs...but all of the dogs that were in that shelter this week were rescued according to my source.  I hope she is right.    I took two shih tzu that should be arriving this Saturday thanks to the generous transport volunteers, and dozens of other dogs went to other rescue groups. 

Hoarding contains a group of people that, in my opinion, are mentally in the wrong place.  They are not always aware that they are doing harmful things.  They are not usually intentionally hurting the animals.  They convince themselves that they are rescuing animals, but they are not.  Their hearts are often in the right place, but due to either lack of mental ability, lack of education, lack of funds, their animals often suffer from lack of veterinary care, lack of socialization, illness such as infections, flea infestation, parasitism, and sometimes lack of routine care such as fresh food and water.  Hoarders don't usually make profit from their animals.  They rarely intend to get rid of them once they get them.  They usually don't adopt them out.  They just keep adding to the collection.  They often find themselves living with dozens of dogs and cats, making it impossible to keep the household clean.  They get overwhelmed, until they get discovered.  It is a type of mental illness that keeps them from seeing the damage they are doing.  Similar, I suppose, to anorexia?

Unfortunately, hoarding is very dangerous.  We experienced that locally.

A person in the next town called themselves a rescue and began taking in animals.  She took in stray animals from local small towns. She took in animals from people who no longer wanted them. These owners believed their pets would be safe in this rescue until their new homes were found.  Concerns started to arise, until it was discovered in February of 2008 that the dogs were going without food, without water, and were significantly underweight.  When action was finally taken,  many were found dead.   Here is a link to the case: . 

Local law enforcement did not prosecute.  A wonderful rescue person, fed up and frustrated,  hired an attorney to take action.  The case is active but keeps getting postponed.  A year and a half later, no action has been taken.  Because she had no rescue license, no charges could be pressed against her as a rescue in violation of rescue requirements.  If you are doing something that requires a license, and do not have a license, I don't understand how that is not prosecutable as a violation in itself.  If a person without a driver's license is driving, is that not punishable by law? 

Here are more links to the case.   Photos are graphic, so be aware:
No Animal left behind
Iowa Falls Times Citizen Online
Central Iowa Times

I am not sure if this case is a true hoarding case, or a person that is just incapable of caring about the animals she took in.  I know of many groups that took the responsibility of rescuing the remaining animals that were alive.
and many more!

But I have to wonder why it takes so much effort to prosecute the offenders in animal abuse or neglect cases.   These acts are are proven to be linked to child abuse and violent behavior. 

Why is it that it is okay to perform these illegal and unethical acts without punishment?

Here is another perfect example of a woman allowed to violate animal welfare laws and getting away with a slap on the wrist.  A Great Dane was Imprisoned in a Small Crate .  Fortunately, Animal Control followed up on the owner's previous violation, yes she had a previous violation, and discovered the large dog in a very small carrier.  Her punishment?  Community service at the animal shelter.  Some people think she should not be allowed around animals.  Small shelters are so overwhelmed, that heck ya, lets put her to work cleaning litter boxes and scooping poop under supervision.  But for this to be her ONLY punishment is not right.  Doing just this community service is not going to make her see her offense in it's true light.  I will say this.  She lost her job as a result of the cruel nature of these charges.  That's more than I can say for a lot of other animal welfare law offender's, convicted or not...

Are you listening Michael Vick?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Breed Specific Legislation or BS Laws?

I agreed to take in 2 purebred shih tzus from that overwhelmed shelter that I discussed in my previous blog. I don't know how many of the dozens of animals did or didn't get rescued... I keep asking, but no one is telling, so I just figure I do not need to know.  I am just going to concentrate on my 2 newbies when they arrive, and thank god that I could help them.

I made a new friend on my Des Moines Register blog.  He said that he is waiting for me to discuss pit bull bans in my blog.   I did not ask him what side he took on the subject, so I will be curious to see his response to this blog.  I am not an expert in that area by any means.  I do have an opinion I will share.

Pit bull bans fall under what we call Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). While I think that some BSL could be effective, I believe the majority of it is not.

BSL usually targets specific breeds, usually pit bulls, rottweilers, german shepherds, etc.  One of the problems with BSL is that for every dog that is aggressive and is allowed to experience an incident, there are dozens of the same breed that are not aggressive and never have an incident.  I see the good dog sitting at home on the couch next to the good owner, watching tv.  I see this dog as an old dog, that shared it's entire life with this owner, with no incidents of aggression.  I see this dog as a pit bull, or a rottweiler, or a german shepherd with a gray face, arthritis, and age related cataracts. I see this house being located in a community that has just enacted a breed ban within city limits.  This good owner is now forced to either give her best friend to someone not within the limits of this city, to move herself out of city limits, or euthanize her best friend of 8 years despite his good health and friendly demeanor in his senior years.

Is that dog a pit bull?  Being a veterinarian in a town that is surrounded by towns with BSL of some sort, I have had several clients come to the clinic asking me for a letter to be sent to their town officials stating the breed of their dog.  They have had notice put on their property by law enforcement officials, that their dog is considered vicious by definition in the law, not by actions of the dog,  and they must show proof of insurance.  Most of them have been purebred boxers, and boxers are not commonly listed as vicious dogs, despite the fact that they are commonly mistaken for pit bulls.  I am not an expert in breed identification, and I do not yet have confidence in DNA based breed identification, but I do know what a purebred boxer looks like, even if the general public and law enforcement officials do not.  I can remember as a kid, walking with my best friend and her boxer.  People would stop, and take a cautious step back, then inquire, "Is that a pit bull"?  It wasn't.  And when the person was told that it wasn't a pit bull, they would step forward and pet the dog.  The dog did not change in those few seconds, but the person's impression of the dog changed in those few seconds.

What is a pit bull?   There is a lot of ambiguity in the term pit bull. states, "Pit bull is a term commonly used to describe several breeds of dog in the Molosser family. Many breed-specific laws use the term 'pit bull' to refer to the modern American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and dogs with significant mixes of these breeds; however, a few jurisdictions also classify the modern American Bulldog and Bull Terrier as a 'pit bull-type dog.' The term can also refer to dogs that were known as 'bull terriers' prior to the development of the modern Bull Terrier in the early 20th century."  Ambiguity in a term within a law is generally not a good thing. 

I am going to challenge you to take a quiz.  It is located here... .  The quiz is described as, "Only one of the pictures below features the real American Pit Bull Terrier. Take the test to see if you can find it. To find the breed of a dog, click on the image. Note: there are no mixes or rescue dogs of unknown background whose breed could be debated. All dogs have been picked from breeders' websites and should be good representatives of their breed."  I would love if you would write in the comments section below, the number of photographs you go through before you "find the American pit bull terrier".  Perhaps you are better at it than I am, but it took me several tries to find it.  You can see why it would be difficult for anyone to say whether a dog is a pit bull or not.  The game did not include mixed breeds in the array of photos, which presents an even more difficult task to undertake.

Our shelters are overwhelmed with pit bull type dogs, and large black dogs, and neither one adopts out easily.  People don't often choose the black dogs, or the dogs they imagine are pit bulls.  The one scenario where I believe BSL could help is here.  All pit bull type dogs, and large black dogs including black labs and rottweilers should be mandatory spay/neuter.  Not because they are mean, but because they are significantly over represented in our nation's shelters.   If you do not want your dog spayed/neutered, then you must pay for a breeder's license which will be required to be maintained for the reproductive life of the dog.  Actually, I think this should be true for ALL dogs, but that is yet another blog. 

To be successful, BSL must address the behavioral history of a dog that has been involved in an incident.  Repeat offenders, regardless of breed, should be the dogs under scrutiny.  Bet you get lots of chihuahuas as repeat offenders!  I say that jokingly, but many small dogs do bite.  They are often not reported because their bites generally do not cause the amount of damage that a large dog's bite could.  Any law would be difficult to draft because violations could range from almost forgivable offenses to offenses that seem under punished  A situation where a 5 year old girl gets bitten after she falls on her chihuahua and breaks it's leg is much different than a 5 year old girl playing in her yard, and being bitten by two dogs that are running at large due to irresponsible pet ownership.  The same punishment for each dog and it's owner seems unfair in these two situations.

One way to help the pit bull breed would be to stop irresponsible breeding of the dogs, and to strictly enforce the laws regarding dog fighting.  Communities and law enforcement know where and when many of these fighting events take place but they do nothing to stop them. Lack of interest, lack of funds, lack of law enforcement personnel, lack of  facilities to care for the dogs once confiscated...whatever the reason or excuse is for not enforcing dog fighting laws, it is the wa bad  reason.  Martin Luther King once said, "“Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way."

I know the good owner of the good dog is the one that will reluctantly and heartbreakingly obey the BSL law.  I know the dog fighter with 50 pit bull type dogs will not.  And I know that the good dog with his grey face, loyal personality, and loving owner, because of it's breed, will not have a safe place to go.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

And a Schnoodle in a pear tree...

Okay, here it is... For those of you who read the previous blog... Humuhumunukunukuapuaʻa means "triggerfish with a pig-like short snout". , and is the state fish of Hawaii! Thanks for the entertaining guesses folks! I know this tidbit of information because I worked at a pet store throughout high school and we sold them there. Once they told me the name, it was something I never forgot because it is so fun to say! Also, there is a Looney Tunes cartoon where Bugs Bunny mentions it, too! One of those odd facts I remember! LOL!

Good news...I received two separate emails about two distinct commercial breeders going out of business in Iowa. Bad news, their dogs need to go somewhere! Just to give you an is a list from one of them!

Male Welsh Corgi born 6/1/04
Female Welsh Corgi born 5/31/04
2 Female White Toy Poodles 1 1/2 years old
Female Cockapoo 5 years old
Female Saint Bernard born 3/29/07
Female Weimeriner born 9/13/06
Male Weimerdoodle born July of 2009
Female White Miniature Poodle born 1/19/03
Male rat terrier born 2/14/08
Female rat terrier born 2/14/08
Male white toy poodle born 3/19/06
Male Collie born 5/12/08
Male Wheaton terrier born 7/17/05
Male Wheaten/cocker spaniel mix 2 years old
Shepard/chow/collie mix - age unknown estimated around 3 by owner
Male Yellow lab born 8/16/06

The other simply stated "10 Italian Greyhounds and some Min-Pins and Jack Russells".

I called about the italian greyhounds only to find out the breeder sold them all to another breeder... No life change for those poor dogs. It is very frustrating to send out a plea for an animal's life, only to lose those dogs back into the system.

I recently agreed to take a schnoodle (Schnauzer Poodle mix) that was found as a stray and taken to the local vet clinic. A plea similar to the above was put out for help. I called the vet clinic, told the vet who I was, and said I would take the dog into our adoption program. I put out a transport plea to get her from two hours away to my clinic. When I received generous offers to drive this little girl, I called the clinic to let them know when the dog would be picked up. They then informed me that they had given the dog to a client. I asked the vet if the little dog had been spayed prior to going home, he said she was spayed. He then asked if he could keep my name on file for other times they need rescue help.

Days later, I got a phone call from a shelter two hours away. The dog had been returned to the same vet clinic and was my offer to help still good. Of course it was. I got another transport going, and she was brought to my clinic by a kind volunteer. The vet clinic had said they ran a heartworm test on her, but did not send the paperwork. When we asked for a copy of the heartworm results to be faxed on their was never received. We did all of her veterinary care including microchip, distemper and rabies vaccines, deworming, flea control, heartworm test, groom, and guess what, she wasn't spayed. I made sure that got done right away. She is a young dog, around 1 year old, with no one interested in adopting her. And we cannot understand why. She doesn't photograph well. Her grey coloring makes her look like an old dog, but she is not. She is young, spunky, and vibrant. She has curly grey poodle fur, and a happy face. But no one wants her. Dogs like her are pictured all over these rescue 'pleas for help', and many are not fortunate enough to get rescued.

Shelters EVERYWHERE are overrun with homeless animals, even with the cutest most adoptable animals. One shelter plea stated, "last week they gassed over 30 dogs. There are soooo many Shih Tzus that will probably be gassed if not pulled and rescued. One is even freshly groomed, but there will be no room on the adoption floor when his hold time is up. Please crosspost to anyone and everyone you know..." The same shelter had photos of a cute collie mix pup, purebred poodles, purebred westies, a senior purebred chihuahua, purebred min pins and jrts! The purebreds are just everywhere...are more mills culling their breeding stock and leaving them at shelters???

For the past few weeks we have had no adoptions...but today the phone started ringing! Thank goodness. Our standard poodle is now adopted, and the two shih tzu mill dogs have interested parties...although we do not like to count our chickens before they hatch!

One of the down sides to rescue is the pleas like you read above, and not having room to take more animals in! When we cannot move the ones we have, even the cute fuzzy ones, we cannot rescue more cute fuzzies!

I wonder why the vet who sent me the schnoodle had no room to keep a small dog for adoption rather than euthanize it or hand it off to another group for rescue. I wonder why he could not donate the routine vet care when someone else offered to take the dog into their rescue. I wonder why a veterinarian would give away an intact dog, knowing what the pet overpopulation problem is like today.

I wonder why a shelter in dire need of rescue help, has so many purebred small dogs. I wonder why rescues continue to take in more homeless dogs and cats than they have room for, despite the emotional and financial impact it has on them. I wonder why rescuers accept responsibility for animals that irresponsible people and breeders abandon.

I don't wonder about any of these questions really. I know the answers. I just don't like the answers.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Humu Humu Nuku Nuku Apuaa!

Just so you know, writing a blog is not all it is cracked up to be! I love doing it but sometimes find it difficult to think of topics. Then, on other nights, I cannot narrow down which topic I would like to discuss. This night is one of the former...

We did have some wonderful things happen today...

A rescue group from Hawaii decided to make a very generous donation to the care of Sasha and Little Princess's medical needs after reading my previous blogs. They are both doing very well and are now listed for adoption on our website... on our adoptable animals page, then follow the link to .

The group from Hawaii is Starfire Companion-Animal Sanctuary or . They are battling a problem that cannot be handled in some of the ways we handle them here in the Midwest. If a Golden Retriever in Missouri or Iowa is in dire need because our own rescues are full, generous people pull the dog from it's current location and transport it to a breed rescue in another state like RAGOM so the dog is safe and another cage is open for the next stray. We are fortunate to share our problems when we need help, and to extend our hands when we can be of help.

In Hawaii, they are unable to move animals on to another state's group because of obvious geographical hurdles, they are surrounded by ocean! Their problem is local and will remain local until they can get a handle on it with assistance from grants such as Maddie's Funds, and hopefully with help from groups like the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (formerly RAVS Rural Area Veterinary Services). HSVMA is a group that travels to remote areas in the US and around the world to aid animal welfare movements via no cost spay and neuter programs. World Vets is another group they should consider for assistance. . I hope to someday assist these groups and travel with them when my children are older. I hope Starfire will look into these programs, and that one or both of these programs will consider helping them. I am not familiar with the qualifications for getting these groups involved, but hope Hawaii will qualify. I sometimes wish separate states did not require individual licensing. I would love to just fly to Hawaii at my own expense and volunteer to do spays/neuters there for a few days!

Starfire's donation means so much more to me knowing that they are working so hard in an area with limited resources. Yet they extend their paws across the ocean to help two of my homeless huggables in need. Thank you Starfire Companion Animal Sanctuary! We appreciate your kindness! Please visit the links page on our website to see a new link to our Starfire friends.

Another wonderful happening was the sharing of some new video and photos of one of our adoptees! A family who adopted a young pup from us last year read my previous blog and posted the following...

"We adopted Jack (Brady) this time last year, and I was checking out the website and saw your blog. We try to keep up to date on him and our cat through our youtube ( and photos ( We are so glad you found/rescued him because some days (when he's nice to the cat) we don't know what we would do without him!"

The videos are just adorable. Take a look at how Jack (formerly Brady) has grown! What a handsome guy, and a professional water drinker, LOL! One video has him drinking water falling from above his head! So funny! I just love stories that come back to us in this way! They rarely come to us in video format, so this is even better!

So many people forget to share their stories with us! We just love to hear them. We don't always respond to them due to lack of time. This is no excuse, but it is our reason. We so often feel overwhelmed. But, we always take time to read and share these updates amongst all of us. You will just have to trust us there. Some of them make us cry, some make us laugh, but most of all, they make us feel good. They make us remember why we are doing this.

When our days, as in recent months, have few adoptions, and many requests to take in more dogs and cats than we have no room for, we can get to feeling rather down in the dumps having to say no, and wondering where the animals we say no to end up going. These adoption stories keep us going. So thank you for sharing. (Read as: If you have room to adopt even just one more pet, please do so, now...hopefully from us?!)

One more thing about the confusing nature of "the blog". I have a program that measures how many people are reading "the blog" (sounds like some sort of primitive creature or old movie title, doesn't it?). It tells me that so few people read the blog. But I have so many responses from people locally that read it, and people not locally that read it (ie Rhode Island (Wallis), Illinois (Lisa), Georgia (Kim), Hawaii (Torun)) , that the numbers I am getting could not possibly be accurate. I sometimes feel like I am taking time to write a blog that few people read according to my "feeds". I need to focus on you, my readers, my "remarkers" to remember more than 3 people are reading this, and continue my efforts in educating, entertaining, and asking for the occasional assistance. Even if the number is only 4, thank you for listening.

Thank you all for making this blog fun!
Now, what is your take on the title??? No cheating, don't google it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Eyes Have It...

We have a pair of dogs relinquished by a commercial breeder, a Class A USDA licensed dog breeder, that have such severe dry eye that their vision is significantly impaired due to corneal scarring and pigmentation as a result of the disease. The dry eye is so severe that they have ZERO tear production and are on LIFE LONG medications. One of Little Princess's eyes is prone to rupture. They are both on medications that provide comfort and relief.

One medication helps slightly with tear production, but the ophthalmologist said the eyes are so bad, that there will be little to no improvement in natural tear production. Once the tear glands completely quit, there is little medically available to get them to function again. The other medications are for decreasing inflamation of the eyes which occurs because there is no lubrication in the eyes. Another is an artificial lubricant for the eyes, to do what the body can no longer do for itself. I discussed this pair of dogs several blogs ago and I bring them up for a reason.

At the suggestion of a friend, I went online to see what the USDA inspection reports say for the kennel from which they came. Here it is word for word:

"Inside of the facility at the main address during the inspection a strong ammonia odor was present in the facility to the point that it burned my eyes in parts of the facility (north end). Ventilation needs to be increased to minimize odors, ammonia levels, and moisture condensation and provide for the health and well-being of the animals. (Affects approx. 124 animals)"

Can you imagine LIVING in a place that burned your eyes constantly? Can you imagine living in a place with 123 other animals urinating and defecating in the room! They allowed five days to repair the problem, but no follow up inspection report is filed. The report from 2009 made no notes of cleanliness issues or ammonia odors, and it was the same inspector, so hopefully this means that kennel cleaned up it's act at some point. But how long did these dogs live like this. Long enough to make their eyes water so much that their tear glands quit working.

I noticed another problem. Inspectors do not announce their arrival as the inpections are supposed to be a surprise.

The annual surprise inspections for this kennel were performed on Feb 8 2007, Feb 13 2008, and Feb 12 2009. In late January 2010, I would start powerwashing, powergrooming, and getting prepared for the next SURPRISE inspection if I owned this kennel. Predictability is not good when it comes to surprise inspections.

I saw no posting of any follow up inspection reports between Feb 13 2008 and Feb 12 2009. Do inspectors follow up with their reports? Do they write up issues and just expect them to make repairs without any follow up inspection? Do they just wait the year out for the next annual inspection to see if the changes were made?

And who suffers when there is no follow up, or when the surprise inspection is expected?

Sasha and Princess did.

Some of my readers have sent us donations to help pay for Sasha and Princess to visit a veterinary ophthalmologist. The donations also helped us pay for their expensive medications, which we will need to buy more of soon. When these adorable dogs are placed for adoption, we will send updates to those of you who made those generous donations. Without you, these rescues are not possible. Without you, we could not do what we do.

It is time for a change in the regulation of these facilities. It is time for more oversight. The dogs in the worst facilities need to get help now...not next year.

Learn how you can help at