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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Beginning of a New Life: A Puppy Mill Rescue

I tried something new.  We received another group of breeding dogs at our clinic.  This group included 4 shih tzus, 2 poodles, a schnauzer, a schnoodle, and 12 pomeranians.  One little shih tzu caught my heart because of her personality and unique markings.  I decided to videotape her progress for my own reference, but I will share it here.  I may do this again in the future, because looking back, I wish I had done a few things differently. 

Most of the dogs from this breeder come in with large animal ear tags tied around their necks with a chain.  This is how they were identified throughout their lives.  A few of the dogs had the chain tangled in their fur, but fortunately we have not seen one with injury due to the chain.

The little shih tzu that caught my heart I named Schnookie.  She was a cutie.  You can see the ear tag on Schnookie's neck in the previous photos.  I placed her under anesthesia for her spay, and on a whim decided to grab my camera and put the camera on video instead of photo.  The result is the first video.

You will have to forgive the fact that I did not plan what to say or how I was going to proceed in this process, or even what I planned to do with the video.  It was very much a random act.  But there it is.

Our routine procedures for these commercial breeding dogs include anesthesia, shave down, spay/neuter, and dental.  Dogs living in these facilities have teeth that are aged beyond their years. There is an article here about health concerns and teeth in these dogs. (ZKARYGNXBTU5)

The second video is of her teeth prior to being cleaned. My camera is not great at close ups, but we all know what color teeth should be.  Her teeth were caked with tartar.

Several days after the procedures were performed, I grabbed my camera one last time.  Here is Schnookie .
I consider this video to be dessert, because it is soooooo good!  Honestly, is there a cuter face???

After taking the third video, I really wanted to keep her with us.  There is an instant bond between Schnookie and I, even though I have not spent much time with her.  Her personality is just effervescent, like bubbles in a glass of freshly poured Sprite.  We could find her a home, after all, that is what we do, right?  Unfortunately, we cannot provide her with a temporary foster home to teach her what a family is. My assistants had to convince me that sending her to a rescue where a foster home was waiting for her.  This was the best thing for her. I knew that with my head, but my heart wanted to keep her here with us.

There are those occasional dogs that capture your heart more than the others. She was one of them for me.  Schnookie went to a rescue group who will provide for her a new experience.  That experience is the joy of living inside a home with a family prior to her adoption. We simply have no volunteers willing to be foster homes so we sent her where it would benefit her most.  

I am glad that we do not emotionally attach to all of our rescues in that way, but there is a piece of ourselves that go with each animal we rehome.  You cannot help but love them, even just a little, and some more than others.  In return, a piece of them stays here with us, and that gives us the passion to keep on going.

At the clinic we have created a tribute to the dogs we are rescuing by hanging the chains on a plaque on our wall. I found the plaque itself at a small second hand store.  It is probably a thread bobbin holder which now holds the remnants of old lives that have been left behind.  I wish we had started saving the tags from day 1 of our rescue work, but we already have quite a few since we started saving the tags.  When we look at the tribute, it says to us, "Thank you... for the gift of life, love, and family..."  I will see Schnookie's thankful eyes and the eyes of many others each time my eyes fall upon it.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Dog Gets Her Shots

I removed a lump on a dog's foot today.  She is a beautiful yellow lab named Maizie that we adopted to a wonderful family a month or so ago.  She is a young dog, so I didn't believe that the mass was likely of any serious concern, such as cancer, but it was between her toes on her right back leg and seemed to be causing her some discomfort.

At first, we put her on antibiotics, in case it was just the start of an abscess.  Perhaps she stepped on a sharp object and it punctured her foot.  The bacteria from the object gets seeded beneath the skin with a puncture.  The wound itself is usually small and heals up quickly.  The bacteria grow beneath the healed skin and the body starts to fight it off.  This reaction creates an abscess, which is quite literally a pocket full of pus waiting to rupture through the skin.  Not pretty, and likely not fun to have.

After the course of antibiotics was completed, the mass went down in size but was now firm, and still causing discomfort.  I thought it might be an interdigital cyst or perhaps a foreign body, so I decided it would be best to investigate the area surgically.  Sometimes an animal steps on an object that causes a puncture, a piece of that object stays inside the animal and rallies a constant reaction from the body that is fighting off that object. The object is not recognized as natural within the body which stimulates the immune system to fight it.  The simple treatment is to remove the object causing the reaction.

We anesthetized Maizie, and surgically prepared her foot.  Scrub and clean, scrub and clean.  As I made the incision, I could feel the object firm beneath the scalpel blade.  As it starts to become visible through the incision, I can see that the object is metallic. 

We have no real history on Maizie.  A friend was at an animal shelter near her house, and asked if I could take Maizie in because she was at risk for euthanasia, due to the high population of animals in the shelter at that time.  We took one look at Maizie's photograph online, and agreed to take her.  She was beautiful.  Maizie had puppies while at the shelter, but her puppies had all found homes, as she continued to sit in the cage waiting for her family.  Part of the reason she continue to wait is that many dogs while nursing and weaning their puppies drop their haircoat to the point of going bald.  Maizie is one of those lucky dogs.  Who wants to adopt a naked dog?

 At the time of the surgery, her haircoat is normal and flourishing.  The result of good nutrition, and the good love of a family.  We can no longer refer to her as "Baldy".

I grab a hemostat to grasp the object through the incision.  The smaller I can make the incision, the faster this girl will heal.  I am expecting a piece of nail, barbed wire, something of that nature to be at the end of my hemostat when I finally succeed in removing the foreign body.  As I pulled it out, I all but "guffawed" at the luck that this dog really must have.

Held tightly between the tips of my hemostats, sat a bullet.  Not a pellet, or a BB.  An actual bullet.  I of course relay my shock to my assistants by shouting, "You aren't going to believe what I just found!"  They both come running.

"What is it?"   "I think it's a bullet."  "Really?!"  "Pretty sure."

We called the local police officer, who later confirmed that the bullet was a 22 caliber.

I called the adopted guardian, to reveal the nature of the limping.  In her shock, she revealed that there were more lumps on her front left leg and shoulder that were small and hard.

Before Maizie woke up, I went to her front left leg, and removed two more foreign bodies.  These were two small pellets.

The revelation?  This dog has been shot at a minimum of two times.  TWO TIMES!  One of those times it was with a 22 caliber bullet!  They were not just trying to scare her away with that!

The idea of shooting at a dog or cat to me is repulsive.  I have never lived in a rural community until I moved here...and would not have believed that it is allowed.  But it is.  And with the lack of humane resources for many rural counties, I can see why people feel the need to resort to such inhumane action.

It is so important for people to put collars and tags on their dogs and cats to protect them visually, especially in rural settings.  In this circumstance, a microchip, while still very important, is not enough. 

In Iowa, you can shoot a dog on your property if it is your dog, or if it has no visible signs of ID or in self defense of yourself or your flock/herd. 

ID tags and microchips will not protect them from all harm, but being certain that you do all that you can to protect them speaks volumes.  You cannot be with them at all times.  You cannot easily prevent bad things from happening.  Knowing that you did all that you can do to protect them, may be your only point of relief if and when bad things do happen.

Maizie may have been dumped out in the country by an uncaring owner, or an owner who was turned away from overly burdened shelters, or by a desperate owner who had no shelter to turn to for help.  She may have been stolen then dumped or stolen then ran off.  She may have simply run off and was not found by her owner.  We will never know the true circumstances.    If her previous owner had known that would happen to their dog, I would hope that they would have made a different choice.

To know that she was shot at twice during her struggle for survival is heartbreaking.  But it was heartwarming to see her go home a second time with her new family.

I will have to remember to use the term "vaccines"  when it is time for Maizie to get her booster "shots"!

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Recovering Silky

Silky was one of nine dogs that came from an Iowa puppy mill, relinquished by the breeder to make room for new breeding stock.   She was the cutest of the bunch, and I thought she would adopt out quickly.  She has those adorable whispy hairs on her muzzle, petite head, and she was so shy yet gentle.  The other eight dogs have all been adopted, yet Silky sits, awaiting a new home.  She is completely vetted, and ready for her home, yet no one has chosen her.

Here is Silky's adoption video.
You can see she is fearful, but not aggressive, and she is slowly adjusting to us.
A family who had adopted from us before offered to foster her, with the potential for adoption.  We were thrilled.  She needed to experience home-life to get used to the routine movements and mild activities within a quiet household.  We often had her out of her kennel running around in the office area, but we are often in too big a rush moving about throughout the day for it to be a comfortable adjustment for her.

We did a home visit at the family's house. They had a completely fenced in back yard, nice house, nice family.  The environment seemed quite safe and conducive to rehabilitation of a dog that has never been outside of a cage. There were no obvious danger zones inside or outside the house to be concerned about and the fence was solid and well constructed.

Silky was on her way to family life for a slow and gentle adjustment.  The family was happy to have her.

Within 24 hours, we received a phone call.  Silky is missing.  The foster Mom had taken her outside in the fenced in yard to go potty.  She would closely monitor Silky on every potty and play trip to the great outdoors.  Silky was comfortable outside in the yard because it was similar to our fenced in area at the clinic.  This is the one place where she would play like a regular dog, rolling, running, frolicking.  The foster mom turned away for a moment, never leaving the spot she was standing, and when she looked back, Silky was gone!

The yard was completely and safely fenced in.  She couldn't possibly be far.  There was no way to escape that fence, was there?  After what seemed like hours of searching the back yard, the conclusion was that she had somehow gotten out. And she had.

We immediately started getting the word out about her escape in every way possible.  We printed 100 Lost Dog flyers at Copyworks, who graciously gave us a discount.  We started a facebook group and invited as many locals as possible to make them aware of the situation.  I changed my facebook status and photo to one of Silky and posted her last known where-a-bouts.  We notified veterinarians, police, sheriff, and anyone else who would listen.  Then we waited.

Tuesday we received our first sighting.  The sheriff's office called and said that she was seen outside a local retirement home but quickly ran off into the fields when spotted.  The foster parents spoke with people at the retirement home, and set live traps to safely catch her.  We normally bait the traps with canned cat food or tuna.   Then we waited.

We did not catch her overnight Tuesday into Wednesday.  We did not catch her overnight Wednesday. But there was another sighting of her in the same area on Thursday.  Traps were set again.    Then we waited.

We did not catch her overnight Thursday.  But another sighting was reported Friday morning.  The foster mom went out and re-baited the trap.  This time the foster mom put chicken noodle soup in the trap, and used small dishes filled with chicken noodle soup leading up to and into the trap.  It was like something out of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon.  Then we waited. 

Around three in the afternoon the phone rang.  "We caught her!" was shouted from the other end. 

 "You caught her?! Can you bring her in?!"

We eagerly awaited her arrival, which we caught on video.

She was slightly dehydrated after a week of life on her own.  We gave her some subcutaneous fluids to rehydrate her.  We gave her some dewormer, because who knows what she has been eating out there.  We pulled 11 ticks off of her little body.  We applied flea and tick prevention.  Overall she was in great shape for a little dog who has been through so much.

I did not realize how stressed out I was over Silky's adventure until she was found.  You convince yourself that you have hardened yourself a bit after years of rescue work.  You may not show your feelings to others.  What is more surprising is that you may not show your feelings to yourself.  But in situations like this one,  a situation that could have been bad but that actually resolved itself with a happy ending, it reveals to you the emotions that you try to hide.  The emotions are still there.

Just because we rescue many, when we lose one for whatever the reason, we still hurt.  When we have to turn a dog or cat away because we are overwhelmed, we still worry about where that dog or cat will end up, and that hurts.  We rationalize that these losses are not our fault, and they are not.  Yet we carry those burdens anyway, whether we want to or not.

Animal rescuers don't wear uniforms.  We don't wear a red cross on our hats.  Our cars do not have fancy flashing colorful lights. (Although there are times we wish they did.)  You don't know who we are when we walk past you in Walmart. 

But all of those people doing animal rescue wear a badge of courage that is not visible to most.  I wish to thank all those that help us in our rescue endeavors.  Those badges are worn by transporters, foster parents, volunteers, fundraisers, adopters, crossposters, and all those that donate time, space, items, or money.  Wear it proud because we wear it together.  The ones that see it, are the ones we help... with furry toes and a warm nose.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Petland in Wheaton, Illinois Goes Adopt Only With One Small Hiccough!

There has a been a small turn in the tide.  And the turn is a wonderful one in the right direction.  Petland in Wheaton, Illinois has decided to discontinue sales of puppies and kittens obtained from commercial breeders and begin an adoption only program with rescue groups. The breeder's puppies and kittens were cute in the pet store window, but their parents sit in cages without knowing the love of a home and family, or even the warmth of a touch or a hug.

This is an amazing change for the better.  4 million shelter animals are euthanized annually in the United States, yet commercial breeders continue to pump out mass numbers of puppies and kittens in their puppy mills each year.  One of their big supporters is Petland.  This one store in Wheaton has pushed it's nose above the water as they rescue animals rather than promoting mass breeding.  We can only hope that more Petland stores and other pet stores will follow suit. 

Here is an article about the store and it's new policy:

The only red flag I see in the article is that they are adopting animals out without having been spayed or neutered.  The adopter gets a free spay/neuter certificate, which is a nice idea.  Unfortunately, some people will not follow through with it.  The result is unwanted puppies and/or kittens.  Please encourage them to spay/neuter BEFORE the adoption is finalized.

I would like to encourage my readers to share their support for the store's change in policy, to adopt and rescue.  Don't forget to mention that they should spay/neuter BEFORE the adoption is finalized.
Please send a note of support to or call the store at:
80 Danada Sq West
Wheaton, IL, 60189
Facebook PAGE: 

Then ALSO let Petland Corporate know how happy you are with the change...I am sure the breeders are making their opinion on the matter known...
Petland Corporate
250 Riverside Street
Chillicothe, Ohio 45601
(740) 775-2464
(800) 221-5935

A letter or phone call is a small task for you to do, in order to assist in a big change. Please don't allow yourself to sit idle.  Encouragement can make kings of the weak.  Help by being a voice for the voiceless.  Make a phone call or write a short note.  A few minutes of your time, can change the lifetime of a dog or cat.

Thank you to Katie for opening my eyes to this store with her facebook group,!/event.php?eid=138273876182739&ref=ts

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Free Kittens...Free Older Kittens...Free Cats...Free Pregnant Cats?!

I took my kids to a festival held annually by a local town.  The kids are able to enjoy the rides.  Local crafters often have booths exhibiting their crafts.  There are various food booths to enjoy.  It is a grand event for a small town.  By coincidence, when I found an empty seat at a picnic table so we could eat, the family sharing that table belonged to my veterinary assistant, Jill.

We went to the petting zoo together to see some of the cutest animals.  There were baby goats smaller than my dog...okay my dog is very overweight, but she was still a very tiny goat.  They had donkeys, ponies, piglets, llamas, many animals that kids don't get to see very often if they don't live on a farm.

Then our eyes caught it.  A sign in the corner above a wire cage "Free Kittens. Parent must be present."  I give them credit for requiring parental consent.  I wonder how often a child is given a kitten or puppy free only to have Mom and Dad say, "Hell no!" 

As I look at the sign I cannot help but want to scream "SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR DAMN CATS!" at the top of my lungs! 

But I didn't. 

There were small children reaching into the cage, picking up the kittens and holding them.  There was a little bowl with dry food, and another one with water.  There was no solid cage bottom so they were on the grass huddled in a corner of the cage.  There were three orange tabby males, and one black male. 

One little girl put one of the kittens directly into the water bowl and started laughing.  Her mother, holding another kitten, was standing next to her and didn't say anything until her Grandmother yelled "pull that kitten out of there!" quite loudly and with passion!  I liked her!
Jill and I were just standing there looking at each other, then looking at the sign, looking at the kittens, then looking at each other.  It was a strange and silent cycle but it spoke volumes. 

We are overwhelmed with kittens and adult cats at the clinic.  Adoptions are SOOO slow right now, even for the smallest kittens.  But how can we just leave these four kittens there? Once you have laid your eyes upon them, it is so hard to say no.

We walk over, hesitantly, closer to the cage.  Jill pulls one of the kittens out of the cage, and it was obvious this kitten had an upper respiratory tract infection.  At that moment, the question mark disappeared.  We knew what we were going to do.  There was very little verbal communication between us.  We were just on the same page.

We walked out of the petting zoo in search of a box.  A lady in a food booth said, "My husband was saving it for something, but if it's for the kittens, you can have it."  Jill went into the petting zoo, and asked if she could have all four kittens.  A simple nod from the lady in the booth, and the deal was done.

Because of the heat, we had to get the kittens back to the clinic.  Carrying them around or leaving them in a car in this heat just was not an option.  Jill had her kids, and I had mine and the kids REALLY wanted to go on the rides!  We both turned and looked at her husband. 

He popped the kittens under his arm and off he went.  He transported the kittens to the clinic, put them in a cage, gave them canned food, dry food, litter, fresh water, and a blankie.  He texted us, "They were hungry."

I am still angry with myself for not taking a photo of the actual sign and cage! I am a blogger, I should think ahead, but I didn't. When I decided to write this blog, I searched online for a photo of a free kittens sign, and this one caught my eyes. 

This photo speaks volumes of what is going on right now, in every shelter and in every "free kitten" farmyard.  Even the cutest of little kittens are growing up without finding a home.  They sit there, and age before our eyes. 

In our rescue, Porthos and Athos have literally grown up in the clinic.  We also have the 6 kittens we took in and discussed in another blog entitled Six Degrees of a Rescue Nation.  That is ten kittens, plus one more kitten that does not have a blog tale, also for adoption.  That brings the total to 13 homeless kittens, without even a nibble of interest from a loving family. They are safe, but they are growing. Just the other day, a client asked about our adoptable kittens.  Jill handed her Porthos, and the client said, "No, it has to be tiny". 

Our kittens are completely vetted for their age, including vaccines, deworm, deflea, spay/neuter, leukemia and FIV test, microchip and registration, and any other medical care they need, and we are adopting them out for $25!  But people often see free kitten signs on their neighbor's farm and bring them into their household without knowing if they have any diseases that can be spread to their other pets or family members.

That night I went in to check on the kittens.  I had to give them more canned food.  They were hungry.  But what stunned me is that they were hissing and spitting and cowering from me.  They were feral, yet trapped in a cage with kids grabbing at them.  They did not bite or severely scratch anyone, but they must have been scared to death!  Over the next 48 hours, they realized we were their food-givers...we were safe... and they are complete lovers now...and still in need of loving homes.

If you want to add to your family, do it wisely.  There are two options:

1. Adopt from your local animal shelter!  This is the best and usually the most economically sound option.  Make it a cat rather than a kitten, and you get a big "WHOOP WHOOP" from me!
2. Bring your free kitten to your veterinarian immediately for Felv/FIV testing and an exam before introducing it to your family.

If you cannot permanently add another cat to your household, foster one for your local shelter or rescue.  They often pay for medical care, and you just have to provide the food and litter.  Even if you can care for that cat for a few months, it may open a cage to another cat that needs to be rescued.  You have just helped save a life!  (The same holds true for fostering a dog)

To those of you who have "Free Kittens" signs posted in your yard...


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Friday, June 4, 2010

Things to Consider BEFORE You Register your pet...

Owners of new puppies often receive paperwork with their new family member. One proud declaration at a first veterinary exam with a new puppy is, "She has papers!". There are now many groups that offer breed registration.  Having "papers" is not as informative or as qualitative a statement as it used to be.  Two of the more common registries in our area are the AKC and the APRI, although there are several others nationwide.

The AKC, American Kennel Club, has been around since the 1800's and for decades was the predominant registry.  If you had a dog that had "papers", they were AKC papers, and that was significant.  These papers meant that the purebred lineage of your puppy could be traced back several generations.  It might also hold championship history in the show ring.

The APRI, American Pet Registry, Inc, is a group that began around the 1990's and is owned by and for the pet industry.    "Pet Industry" is predominantly defined by large commercial dog breeding facilities, also known as puppy mills.

Registration of your puppy with either group is only important if you plan to show your dog in breed specific events sponsored by these groups.  If you want to show a dog in AKC events, your dog needs to be AKC registered.  APRI registration will not suffice.  If you bought Binky to be a house pet, then you do not need registration papers, so you might be wise to put your registration money into a new toy or bedding for your new family member.

There are some very important things to know about registering your dog with a breed registry. 

1.  It is not a microchip.  This registration does not identify this specific dog to you should your dog go missing.  It is not a microchip registration.  While your dog is described on the paperwork, there are thousands of other dogs of the same description.  Microchip is a permanent identification to that particular animal, while registration papers alone are not.  It is very important to microchip your pet, register that microchip with the microchip company, and to keep the microchip registration information such as your phone number and address current with the microchip registry at all times.  There could be little worse than losing your pet, having it be found, but you were not contacted because your old phone number now belongs to a complete stranger.

2. The AKC is vehemently opposed to any spay/neuter legislation.  You can read more regarding spay/neuter laws at Law Requires Dogs be Spayed, Neutered.  There are millions of pets being killed in shelters and veterinary clinics every day, simply because they do not have a home.  Spay Neuter legislation often requires pets to be spayed/neutered.  They often require breeders to obtain and maintain a breeding license.  When you register your dog with AKC, a portion of your money is going to be used to fight legislation that will assist in the fight of pet overpopulation. 

3. APRI is owned and operated by the pet breeding industry.  When AKC decided to mandate that frequently used male dogs were to have DNA testing performed, this meant an extra expense for the breeders using this registry.  Around the same time, the AKC began inspecting the breeders that use their registry.  Breeders with large numbers of commercial breeding stock, such as puppy mills, do not want more expenses, nor do they want more frequent inspections.  Commercial breeders often own several females, and few males, because one male can easily impregnate a dozen females.  To avoid DNA testing, and more inspections, the pet industry began their own pet registry on a whim.  Surely the pet owners would recognize the difference between the recognition of AKC papers, and this new APRI papers, right? 

But people bought into it, recognizing only that their new puppy had "papers" and not understanding much more than that.  The American people were naively duped into thinking their dog was "papered", not knowing what this actually meant, and a new registry run by commercial breeders developed and continues to spread it's wings today with great momentum.  It did not hurt the deception that another popular breed registry was just one initial different from APRI.  The American Purebred Registry was known as APR, so confusion of the two registries was frequent.

When you register your dog with APRI, your dollars are going to support the people that continue to breed in mass quantities despite the problems of severe pet overpopulation.  Your money is used to pay lobbyists to fight Breeding Legislation that is intended to make the industry more humane in their treatment of the animals in their care, and crack down on puppy mills.  Your money will be used to lobby for the inclusion of canine breeding stock as LIVESTOCK in some states in support of the puppy mill industry.  In Iowa, this recently came to a head and was defeated, but can and will likely be brought up again.  Livestock are not required to have shelter at all, and there are tax benefits to dog breeders becoming livestock producers.

 USDA Licensed Commercial Breeding Facility

USDA Licensed Commercial Breeding Facility

Is this where you want your money to go?

Rather than registering that puppy with either group, send that money to a local shelter, the smallest one you can find.  They need the money more than these groups do, and will use it much more wisely.  They will care for the six year old dog that was abandoned by it's owner... the dog that was purchased from a commercial breeder six years ago...

If you are looking to seriously breed a dog, I would advise consulting your veterinarian on the expenses for pre-breeding tests such as CERF testing for eye health, getting hips and elbows OFA evaluated at 2 years of age before breeding, brucellosis testing, DNA testing for breeds predisposed to genetic conditions, etc.  Breeding is a business that requires expenses, and you should make yourself aware of these expenses BEFORE jumping in! 

If you are serious about becoming a quality breeder, who raises dogs within the home, provides all recommended veterinary care, requires that sold puppies be spayed and neutered by contract, and screens the homes to ensure the quality of life for that puppy, then I would recommend AKC registration.  They are the oldest organization, they conduct routine inspections of kennels that utilize their registry, and despite my differing opinion on their spay neuter legislation, they do provide many good programs for pets and their people.  They have programs in which mixed breed, fixed animals can participate called AKC Canine Partners Program.     Programs that involve dogs and their people, provide quality time for dogs with their people.  Who would not support that?

|As a responsible breeder, make sure, if your puppies are sold as "pet quality" puppies, that the spay neuter contract is followed through as in your contract.  Follow up with a phone call and request a fax from their veterinarian to confirm that the spay/neuter has been performed. 

As a responsible breeder, you are responsible for the breeding dogs you own, but remember you are also responsible for those puppies, even after they leave your home.  Can you imagine one of your puppies months or years down the road, being euthanized at a shelter because the home you chose was not the right one, or because you neglected to make it clear that you would assist if the need arises to rehome that dog?

Before making that final decision to become a responsible breeder, visit your local shelter and tell the dogs and puppies in there that you are going to find homes for the puppies you breed, with families that may have considered taking one of them home from the shelter.  If you are wise and have a heart, you will bring one of those happy faces home with you... 

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Compassion in the Jungle...

I met a young man today.  I was on facebook, and received a chat message from a name I did not recognize.  I have many rescue friends on facebook through networking.  We share the same goals, but most of us have not met.

The message said, "Don't animals have a soul".  There was no question mark following the typewritten statement.  It seems he wanted me to answer a question, but he already knew the answer.  It was more of a statement.  He just needed affirmation.

The conversation continued, 
"I believe they do, yes."

 "ppl say they dont".

"ppl say a lot of things. you just have to let your beliefs and ethics guide you to do what is right"

I believe that if a being has the ability to love, it has a soul.  Heaven accepts all those capable of love.

The conversation continued, and I finally asked how old Josh was.

"12" was his response.  My jaw dropped.  I thought I was talking to someone much older than 12.  His dedication and passion comes through so strong for such a young age.

At the age of twelve, he already has a belief system that is making him feel as though he is swimming upstream.  His ethics and belief system tell him in his head and in his heart that animals are important.  He believes animals think, love, feel, and have a range of emotions that afford them the same respect that humans get, and that sometimes humans do not deserve.

Josh posted a note on his facebook wall..."  hi im josh i am only 12 years old i love animals people say i should work with them i got a big heart for animals i know alot of people that love and like animals some people don't care about animals they don't think they have a soul but yes they do you just know about it if u really love animals you haft to research them then you will know if they do or don't" 
At twelve years old, he is already feeling the need to educate people about the importance of animal care.  I hope that need continues into his adulthood.  Animals need strong voices like Josh to speak for them.

Josh shared a song with me "The Animal Song" by Savage Garden.  The lyrics read, "Animals and Children tell the truth, they never lie.  Which one is more human, there's a thought, now you decide. Compassion in the jungle, compassion in your hands.  Would you like to make a run for it.  Would you like to take my hand."

The song inspires thought.  Animals in the jungle do not harm each other for fun.  Animals do not kill for pleasure.  They hunt what they need for sustenance.  They protect and provide for their family.  They defend their territory.  There is no intentional abuse for the sake of demented personal gratification.  Abuse is a word intended only for describing human action.  Many of the worst words in the human language are intended for human action only, murder, slaughter, abuse, pervert, molest, destroy, assassinate, terrorize, mutilate... Which makes me wonder why the base of the word humane is human. 

We, as humans,  have the ability for "compassion within our hands", but we have a choice whether or not to utilize it.  Animals have compassion innately, and utilize it unless taught otherwise by humans.  Guard dogs are taught to dislike strangers.  Fighting dogs are taught to fight each other.  Given an opportunity, most animals in a natural state will flee from confrontations such as these unless trained not to flee. 

Should we not step up and utilize the gift of compassion, like Josh has done?  Should we not learn more from animals, like Josh states on his page? 

I thinks perhaps Josh has a lot to teach us at the ripe old age of 12. Perhaps we should all, "take his hand".

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