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Sunday, August 30, 2009

All across America

I inferred a few blogs ago that every weekend amazing things transpire that rescue hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs all over the country. This was something I was completely unaware of until I moved to Iowa. In this country there are areas that are more overwhelmed with pet overpopulation than others. The south and midwest seem to suffer. Don't take that the wrong way, the problem is significant everywhere! Everywhere in the US, dogs and cats are put down simply for not having a home to go incurable illness, no severe behavior problems, healthy with no where to go. Here in the midwest, we have commercial breeders putting out thousands of puppies in a year's time. Iowa alone has over 400 commercial breeders! We also have backyard breeders that go out and buy a dog or two, mate them, and think they can make a quick buck. Then we have the mentality that a dog should not be spayed or neutered and that no vet care is given because it is unnecessary. Cats fall victim to that even more than dogs. Cats are ratters and nothing more, if they overpopulate (which they will of course), you downsize by shooting.

Anyway..many of the rescue groups I work with are local, within the tristate area. There are animals that are rescued by pulling them from overpopulated shelters, purchased at puppy mill auctions, owner relinquished, or fall victim to breeder shut down. I am refering to mixed breed dogs as well as purebreds. These dogs are pulled into a rescue group and transported by volunteers who drive them an average of 75 miles to the next transport rescue volunteer. They leapfrog this way to the final destination which is usually a foster home that will provide medical care, love, and training to the new arrival. Now this may not sound overly amazing... For instance, the majority of these transports that I follow go from Missouri to either Minnesota or Wisconsin. This trip can often be done in a day. Still a spectacular feet when you consider the organization involved ie where do we meet, what time, how many dogs, where are they going (which with multiple dogs or cats on board, there are often multiple destinations...and when you consider the cost of gasoline...voila Angels on Wheels). Here is what really gets me. We have a rescue (and I know there are many more), that routinely rescues from the midwestern states, ie Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, gets the dogs COMPLETELY vetted prior to their transport including recovery time if a surgery is involved...then transports them... now get this, all the way to New England! That is a full 2 day transport with a dozen or so volunteers, around 1200 miles in donated travel, time, and gas, including an overnight stay at some caring volunteer's house. Did you ever think that this occured on a national level every weekend? As we watch our soccer game, or enjoy our cookout, people are creating an underground railroad of sorts to provide a life for animals that would likely otherwise be euthanized. I have links to my rescue friends on the links page of my website .

If you have interest in participating in transports such as these, let me know, I can try to send you in the right direction depending on where you live.

I have learned a lot since moving to Iowa. Wonderful things, like the joy (and stresses) of small town living, the fascination of watching miles of crops grow and be cultivated. And I have learned about heartbreaking things, like when senior/retired puppy mill breeding dogs enter my clinic through rescue for what is likely their first veterinary experience with health care. If I focus on their previous life experiences too much, if I think too long about the kittens we bottle fed and didn't make it, if I focus on the senior rescue that only survived another 8 months after rescue as its body failed from old age and wear and tear from a life of abuse and neglect... I could drop my stethoscope and scalpel, walk out the door and never look back.

BUT, if I look at the senior dog whose last 8 months were full of hugs, kisses, walks on the grass, playing with a doggie sibling or enjoying the love of a human family...I know those last 8 months, and the people that gave those 8 months of love, have benefitted greatly. I know that for the first time in its life, that dog experienced joy and love even if the experience was brief. The dog wanted it's owner to return from work, not to just throw a steel bowl full of kibble into it's cage and walk away, but to grab the dog in their arms in welcome and enjoy the warmth that a human is capable of sharing. It has experienced what should be normal for every dog.

When you look into your dog's eyes tonight, ask yourself where your dog's parents are. 95% of puppies sold on the internet and in pet stores, are the offspring of parents who live their lives in a cage that is only required by the Animal Welfare Act to be 6 inches longer, wider, and taller than the dog that resides within it for a lifetime. Pick up the nearest book and hold it 3 inches from your nose, allowing the other three for butt room. How comfortable is that? Now imagine your entire life that way.

Do you think it is time for a change?

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Joe Benji and a dog auction

Tonight I met one of my favorite dog stars, and gained a new mentor. Joe Camp and Benji were at the Des Moines Animal Rescue League for a fundraiser. Now, perhaps the fact that I am such a big fan dates me a little. Those of you my age remember those movies fondly. This was a horse fundraiser, as Joe has a new affection for horses, and adopted one from the ARL, but he brought along little Benji. Visit his website for more .

Okay, so I KNOW that this Benji is not the Benji I grew up with... he would be in his 30's! But it was still Benji! She was a sweet little thing with the softest fur, rescued from a shelter in Mississippi! She wore "the nametag"... those of you who have seen the movies know what I am talking about. The little round brass tag with her name imprinted on it. What a thrill, and I was a total dork, shooting photos, oohing and aaahing over every move the little dog made. But there was an even bigger thrill about the evening.

Joe is a very mild mannered gentleman with an enthusiastic love of animals...all kinds. At times he was like a kid talking about his new horse...and at times he cried reminiscing the first time his horse trusted him. There is no "famous hollywood persona" about him. It probably helped that during the presentation, Benji opted to NOT listen to commands. Oh did we laugh. She started scratching during his horse speech regarding his new book, " The Soul of a Horse". He reached over, gently stopped her paw, and said, "Stars don't scratch..."

Talking to Joe, was like sitting on your front porch, drinking lemonade, and talking to your best friend or favorite cousin. He was in no rush, didn't brush anyone off to get through the line of autograph seekers quickly, just sat patiently signing books, and honestly became engaged in any conversation these strangers brought up. Now, being a vet, when I am at a party, and John Doe, whom I have never seen in my office, starts telling me how his cat is sneezing, I admit, I have a tendency to want to crawl away or just turn my ears off, and to a degree I probably do those things. Okay, so I sit and listen, but I don't believe for a second that I engage in the conversation the way Joe does. He treats you as a close friend. And when you leave, you think to yourself, "I will see him at the local diner tomorrow, or at soccer practice for another round of good talks!" I feel as though I left there with a new friend, and I hope I did.

Back to the dogs...
Today was an auction in Missouri. They are known as puppy mill auctions. I do believe they are illegal in Iowa, thank goodness. Puppy mill auctions are where commercial breeders send their retired stock, pups that aren't selling, any dog that for any reason they no longer want in their inventory. I have friends who have paid as little as a dime for a dog at these auctions. The rescue group that went planned to bid on 15 dogs. Sometimes the bidding gets too high for rescuers, and other breeders get the dog for a price. Back into another commercial breeding facility these dogs go. Not a heat cycle left unfertilized... Well the group won 5 dogs. Not sure what the breeds are. Will talk more about it tomorrow. These dogs often come to us with teeth rotting out of their is not uncommon for these dogs to have such bad teeth that the jaw is broken at the base of the tooth due to softening from severe infection. They are often matted, flea infested, chronic ear infections, hernias. I have had a few that when I spayed them, their uterus was scarred down to other organs within the abdomen making a routine spay, a difficult surgery, for both the surgeon and the patient...

I am anxious to see the new send them on to their new lives, for however long they have left. I plan to someday attend one of these auctions... it is just a difficult thing to commit to.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More Pomeranians...

A commercial breeder is closing down, and we have already taken in 6 adults and 2 pups from her. On Monday, we are getting 7 more of her adult dogs, all pomeranians, and all black. Black dogs don't adopt well, even the small ones...sigh. But we are hopeful, and we have had a few other rescues willing to pay us discounted rates for their vetwork and get them into their group so they can find happy homes for their retirement years. If you know anyone interested in adopting a black pomeranian, send them our way! They are all 2005 models, around 4 years old.

Here's the thing.
We are also getting 10-15 dogs this Sunday from another group for just vetwork! Weeks like this make me VERY anxious...HOW AM I GOING TO GET ALL THIS DONE?????? We always seem to get through it okay, but boy, that is a lot of work to do in one week. Funny thing is, then we have several weeks of not much going on! When it rains, it pours! I am not complaining by any means, but wow!

So, my latest conversation with the gentleman who is monitoring my blog to make sure I am getting all the correct info out to you... here is his latest post, "Sorry I did not send my message more than one, nor did I receive your response. I just did a quick check of the Iowa law and it is similar to the law they tried to pass here-a BS law. Here are some links that people need to read about the Humane and Just to let you know I will be following your post, to make sure the real story about what this legislation is really about-you should be ashamed to call yourself a vet."

Now really, was this necessary??? Here is my response, "You are quite a judgemental person, aren't you? I should be ashamed to call myself a vet, because you disagree with a law that provides increased oversite of commercial breeders? Wow. Ok.Well,Why don't you tell me what YOU find to be flawed in the Iowa puppy mill bill..." And here is the link...

Dr. Phil says it takes 1000 "Atta girls" to make up for one bad criticism... I agree. How it is that someone as insignificant as this guy can perturb me, is just silly. I know it, but it still gets to me. Why, I dunno. I know there are people out there that think I am part of a wonderful movement to help and rescue animals... and really, all that matters is that I, deep in my soul, know that what I am doing is right, and that this is the reason I am here, doing what I do. But remarks from people like this resonate. I need to just learn to turn it off. There. All better.

OK, I still need to talk to everyone about all sorts of stuff on my list, so come back often. I hope everyone is getting the email notice that the blog is updated.

Oh, do me a favor. Just so I know I am not only talking to myself, can you just post a quick hello! Thanks!

Amy, I know you are there, and thanks for your feedback!!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gosh, lots to say!

Hello friends!
The two rescue dogs with eye problems went to the eye doctor today! Yay, they are not any worse for wear. Seems my diagnosis was correct, another yay. I didn't really doubt that, but feared there may be more going on...and there is but nothing too terribly serious. They both have inflamed corneas, the clear outer "windshield" of the eye. They both have a degree of vision impairment, but should see well enough in good light to be comfortable in their environment. This is to be expected if you aren't producing enough tears to keep the eyes well lubricated. So they are on drops for that. We ordered new tear production medicine, and I got some new drops that just lubricate the eyes artificially from favorite supply store...not big on their clothes, but you cannot beat their prices on things that we FLY through like paper towels, kitty litter, pet food, bleach, etc. This is going to be a lifelong condition, so when they find homes, the new family will have to care for their tender eyes.
They are spending the night at our wonderful volunteer's house, and returning to the clinic tomorrow. Hope they do fine. These dogs who have spent their ENTIRE LIVES in a cage, are not used to any change. And they have had alot of change lately! All for the better.
Check out our website for pics of these two sweeties, and keep in mind, that once they are cleared for adoption, they both need new families!
Thank you goes out to ALL of those who helped us get these dogs the care they needed.

Then two controversial happenings....happened, so I am emotionally strung out right now!

1. A friend of mine visited craigslist, and found a thought provoking and emotional note from an animal lover stating that a local commercial breeder (from my neck of the woods) brings their older pups, and non-successful breeders to another local vet to be euthanized. The pups she brings in are either too old and aren't selling, or have the "wrong" colored eyes. The note had ALOT more detail than I will go into here. Apparantly, the author's friend is one of the employees at this other vet clinic, and she has to partake in the euthanasia of these animals as part of her job, and hates doing so. I wish I could find out who wrote this letter, it was flagged almost immediately (not fast enough for me to have printed it out though...tee hee) and you can no longer reply to the writer. I would like to get her to help me in my efforts in the next year.

And then

2. I am posting this blog ( a few days behind) on the des moines register website...and I got a comment from a reader who claims that I support a North Carolina puppy mill bill that, in his eyes, was flawed. I know nothing about this North Carolina bill. I would be lucky to pick North Carolina out on a map, the way my memory is lately! I prefer to work only in Iowa right now, thanks. So I deleted the comment, but replied to him privately. So he sent the same comment back to me two more times! I read other conversations he has had with other people ie politicians and such, and they all have been heated and somewhat hard to follow. His writing style is not very clear. Anyway, I posted his comment on that blog, so he would quit sending it to me. His comment includes a criticism of the Humane Society, which I assume he means the Humane Society of the US (HSUS). There are hundreds of humane societies in the US that are not affiliated with the HSUS, so if he was refering to one of them in East Japippy, again, I am not up to par on it. I replied to it in the only honest way I could. We will see what happens. From what I can tell, this guy likes to just dig in and stir the pot.

And tonight I was planning to educate you on an astonishing volunteer effort that saves hundreds of animals and occurs almost every weekend! I guess that will have to wait until tomorrow!

Good morning everyone!

Just a brief note before my day starts. If you are a follower, you are not getting email updates regarding my blog updates. All you have to do is sign up for email updates is enter your email address where the page says "Enter your email address SUBSCRIBE Delivered by feedburner". This will notify you so that you no longer need to check the site daily...

It took me two days to figure out how to add that silly little button...should be included on all blogs I think. It's just one of those things that proves my main computer skills are ebay and petfinder! Have a great day, and I look forward to updating tonight!

Thank you for reading, and if you enjoy it, remember to share it with your friends...

Monday, August 24, 2009

What a day...

Today was fairly mild... Not crazy busy, but busy enough. Sat around with Brandy, the timid puppy mill rescue pomeranian, in my arms or on my lap again. She seems to accept being held, but is still spooked by movements that are sudden and especially movements that come toward her. She feels all of them are a danger. Poor thing. We let her stay up front and out of her cage for the afternoon, hoping that if she sees us moving around without any aggressive tendencies, she will get used to us. She seemed to enjoy herself. I would try to pet her, but she would always back into a corner before reluctantly accepting the affection. She is going to be one of the tough ones to break through to, but we will do it. She likes to bark, and the white poofy tip on her tail looks like a spark or star or firework twinkling above her head as she barks. Very cute.

There are so many topics I want to discuss on the blog, ie Michael Vick and the Eagles, Puppy mill bill for Iowa 2010, sometimes I sit and just think about things to write, and this list is so long in my head... Then I get here, and voila, other things come out.

We made an appointment for our other two rescue dogs, Sasha and Little Princess, to see a veterinary ophthalmologist tomorrow. A volunteer is going to bring them to their appointment. These two dogs are just the sweetest. Sasha is a 4 year old Pom, and Little Princess is an 8 year old Shih tzu. Both are retired breeders. You can see one of the previous blogs for more info... but both are going to adjust very well to being beloved family members, once their eyes are better and we clear them for adoption. Hope we get good news.

Summer is coming to an end. I am glad it was not a terribly hot one, but sad that it is almost over. I don't believe I would do well in a year round warm climate, as I actually look forward to the change in clothing options. It will be nice to throw a nice pair of jeans on, or a shirt with a fleece vest. Is that weird? Shorts and tees get kind of old for me.

Off in the distance, I hear "Lisa, are you almost done?" And we all know what that means. This blog is coming to an end...

Tomorrow is my day day off will consist of me going into work... the joy of business ownership. Well, this way I will be there to send our eye girls off to the doctor. Makes me feel good to be the one to wish them well. They will have a sleepover at the house of our volunteer so they need their luggage packed. Hope I can find all 8 of their slippers!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday morning

Ahhh, the sweet sound of a Sunday when the kids can rise out of bed whenever they happen to wake up, and I can stay in bed until they do! And the hubbie is golfing, which means the tv channel is on whatever station is MY choice! at least until the kids get up... Gotta love it.

Tomorrow, we have a busy day planned. Surgeries, appointments, getting eye appointments for our two pups that need them. Installing brick type pavers under a donated kennel 6' X12' that is outside to make it easy cleanable and sterilizable. Spreading grass seed to keep our play yard "lush". Lots of our work is in maintenance and of course cleaning of our facility. We also try to make it a nice addition to our local town, Jewell IA. We have created POOCH PARK out of what used to be a gravel parking lot to the north of our building. Still needs a little more work, perhaps next spring. Check it out at . People can stop and rest while on a walk with their dogs. And I think the name give it something to remember. I want to get another retired fire hydrant to pain to look like a dog, and I want to also paint paw prints on the side walk by pooch park... Lots of plans, and too little time.

I do believe in a week or so, we are getting 10-15 dogs in for vet work from a rescue in Wisconsin. Most of their rescue dogs are from other shelters or most likely from puppy mills when they come in this quantity. THey usually originate in Missouri or Southern Iowa. Peke N Chin Midwest rescue them. Great group. They transport them to my place, we take care of their medical needs, then they go to Wisconsin area for foster homes and their first taste of love. Happy to help them prepare these lost souls for their new adventure into FAMILYPEThood. What a way for these guys to retire.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Help Needed

Okay, just had to do two of those things I hate to do. 1. Ask for money. 2. take a patient to another vet.
We have two retired puppy mill dogs that are suffering from eye issues. I think they are based in lack of tear production but neither is responding as well as I had hoped. Both are better but not great. The shih tzu has much corneal scarring. I think God would be wise in helping me win the lottery, because we all know where my money the dogs, so to speak. I guess God would have to buy me a ticket too, since I don't do that. Perhaps that is why my chances of winning are so slim???
Asking for help with money, then asking another vet for help is very humbling. Almost belittling. It is not a good feeling. The money thing is obvious, no one likes to ask others for is just embarrassing. But asking another vet to help one of your "patients" is like announcing that you are inadequate in some way. I know I shouldn't feel that way. That IS why people specialize in such things... especially eyes... but what if he asks me a question that I haven't thought about since vet school, and I cannot answer it! LOL! Maybe it makes me feel like a kindergartener again... seven layers of the retina??? UMMMMM.......
Ah well, their info is all at . I will continue the saga of taking my dogs to another vet as the experience unfolds. And I am sure other new experiences will arise as well.
Thanks for listening!

Friday, August 21, 2009


So ends the first day of my blogging experience. I'm no Julie and Julia, but I do like it. As my kids fall asleep, I am often on the computer sharing our adoptable pets on facebook, recruiting people into my rescue groups ie animal alliance and puppy mill rescue on facebook or . But tonight I am blogging. I stay on here until the husband says, "Lisa", my interpretation, "you've been on that computer too darn long, dear." Truth is, I probably have. There is always just one more thing I need to do or can do to help get the word out about animal get people more active...and less ambivalent. Did you have any idea how important a few minutes worth of letter writing can be when it comes to puppy mill legislation? It doesn't matter if you are a lawyer or a garbage man writing the letter...if you vote, write the darn letter! I learned that lesson last year. Another venture this year of getting puppy mill bill passed... follow our efforts here...or at any of my other sites...this one will be the most fun, I think. And off in the distance..."Lisa"...
Goodnight fellow rescuers. You can learn more tomorrow.
So, I have a few minutes between appointments. I am sitting here with a small female brown and white pomeranian that we got in from a puppy mill. She is so scared that petting her causes her to tremble, panic and want to bolt from your arms. So I have her dressed in a brand new collar, her first (and a much better fit than the wire with the pig ear tag dangling from it that she wore when she got here). Her collar is connected to a leash, which is connected to my belt. Tether of love...

She is slowly accepting sitting on my lap, and accepting the petting. I know if I tried to move, she would panic again, so we sit here and we type. I think her thoughts in this blog would be "I feel much safer in a cage, since I have spent my entire life within one, can't you just put me back into one?" and my thoughts are "sometime soon this poor dog is going to accept and LOVE hugs and kisses, run towards her owners instead of away from them, sleep on a bed, and walk in the grass." You can see her bio at her name is Brandy.

Introduction to me...

Someone once told me, " Lisa, there are veterinarians that do a little bit of rescue work, (ie giving discounts to rescue groups, or finding a home for the occasional stray that comes through the door). You are not one of those vets." I was shocked, I thought she knew how much rescue work I do. I thought perhaps she appreciated what I did... Thought perhaps she was going to say that I do more? Then she said, " You are an animal rescuer, that just happens to be a veterinarian."

I do believe this is one of the highest compliments I have EVER received. I roll that statement around in my head alot...on those days when what I pay people in salary seems to be more than the income for the clinic, or on a day when an adopted pet is returned to us, or on a day when we have no room to take in any more homeless pets, and we wonder what will happen to that pet now...

The unfortunate part is that while rescue work is spiritually rewarding, it is not financially rewarding. But I have come to grips with that. I love what I do. Not to say we don't have hard days, or trying times, depressing moments, we most certainly do. Rescue sounds so...glamourous and ego boosting, put a big R on my chest for "Rescuer" and don't wrinkle the cape please... but there are issues involved in rescue that are emotionally traumatizing, physically draining, and just plain exhausting!