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Friday, June 17, 2011

Kathy's Sky

I took a photograph today. 

I was on my way to my exercise class, "Boot Camp", at 5:15 (central) this morning.  I saw the prettiest sunrise, so I stopped to take a photo.

I see beautiful skies often, yet I usually neglect to stop and take the time to capture the moment.  Usually I am in too much of a hurry to stop.   Life goes so fast, especially with two children in tow.  I was not sure why at this moment, I decided to capture the beauty. 

After class, I received a phone call from my sister.  At about the same time that I stopped my car on the side of the road to take this photo, my cousin was struck and killed by a car.  She was on her routine morning walk with a friend, safely up on the sidewalk when a car came up onto the sidewalk, taking something that did not belong to him...a life.  He took the life of a mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister, a cousin, a friend.

I can recall many times seeing her on her walk when I lived in Rhode Island years ago. She would be taking her long strides, as I made my daily rush to work, having allowed barely enough time for breakfast, never mind exercise.  I respected her dedication.

I just wanted to share this morning's photo...

Kathy's Sky
As beautiful as she was... and always will be.

Please send your love and prayers to her family...

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bring Hanah Home: Dog Missing after Joplin Tornado

A message meant for me was on a sticky note at work today.  I was immediately saddened when I read the words.

"Lost her dog in Joplin tornado and was told to contact us for possible insight on how to locate her dog."  A phone number followed.

I hesitated to pick up the phone, not sure how I could help someone 400 miles away after such a catastrophic event.

There was no name on the sticky note, so I called the number and announced who I was.  The woman introduced herself, and told me her dog was missing from the aftermath of the deadly May 22nd tornado in Joplin, Missouri.  This EF-5 tornado was the 8th deadliest tornado in U.S. history, the deadliest tornado in the past sixty years.

The family had already checked local shelters, and posted fliers.  I asked if Hanah had been microchipped.  She had not been microchipped.  I hated to ask such a negative question, but I wondered about whether her dog even survived the massive tornado.  How could she be certain that her dog did survive such a horrific ordeal?   She was given a photo of Hanah taken after the tornado, alive. Hanah looks stunned, and possibly injured, but she looks pretty good for a survivor of such a tragedy.

"The picture was taken at the location of 4224 E. 26th street in Duquesne, behind CFI/Conway trucking. The people who lives there had livestock. She was carried to the side of the house. When the sirens went off in Joplin the second night after the storm, the people left there house and she ran in some bushes. They called the humane society, when they got back she was gone. But she has NOT been seen at the shelter (if you go-LOOK FOR HER ALSO). The neighbors at a house 2 doors down and they said she was seen Saturday in the yard and yet again no one helped her!! There is a reward for her. Anybody with info can call Kari 417-529-8088 OR call Duquesne police as they are aware of the situation!!! PLEASE HELP BRING HANAH HOME!!!"

This is what is left of Hanah's home...

Hanah's Mom's main concern was the possibility that rescues from several other states ranging from Minnesota to Texas had come in to assist Missouri and rescued animals that were displaced following the tornado.  Unfortunately, there is no record of which rescue groups came in and which animals went where.  Joplin Humane Society is posting photographs of the animals they currently have on their website:

Dogs and cats that are both Found and still Lost, are being listed here:
Humane Society of Southwest Missouri is taking in dogs from the Joplin Shelter to aid them with the influx of homeless animals the tornodo has created.  You can view their adoptable pets here:

My advice is to:

1. Deliver fliers with photos to police, veterinarians, shelters, rescues, media in all towns potentially involved in the "rescue efforts". 

2. If you are able to,  go to the shelters yourself.  Do not rely on shelter staff to confirm whether your dog is there.  Your description of your dog or the breed of your dog may not be interpreted well over the phone by a stranger.

3. Comb , using the zip codes of all the towns listed as possible groups who had entered Joplin offering help. Petfinder does offer search options within different radii of your location, IE 50 miles, 100 miles, All.  I recommended she choose the "all" option.

4. Search for Hanah by varying the breed in the search parameters online and via telephone or other communications.  Hanah is an American Bulldog.  Even on the poster above, it appears as though she is listed as a Bulldog, with the word American written in small print in the corner.  She looks more like a Dogo Argentino to me, especially considering her massive size, but other people may consider her a Pit Bull, Am Staff, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull, American Bulldog, Bulldog, Dogo Argentino, Boxer, Great Dane, Lab mix, etc.  Interpretation of breed can vary greatly among "experts". 

5. Check breed specific rescues.  Often multi-breed rescues will send purebred dogs to breed specific rescues, freeing up a cage for another animal in need.  Again, Hanah's breed could be misidentified.  So check different breed rescues.

6. If spotted in the area, post signs, use live traps, make everyone aware of her face and your contact information.  IF you are going to put food down, make sure you place it in the same place. Also remember, if food is placed, and the enticement to go into a live trap is food, you may be keeping her alive, but hindering her capture. 

7. Remember, that after weight loss and dehydration, an animal looks much different than she does in her healthy happy days lounging on the couch.  Everything about her may look different, her face shape, body shape.  Look at her identifiable markings, ie eyes, and outline of her nose pigment to help identify her in photos and in real life.   This is another good reason to go identify an animal yourself if a shelter believes they may have Hanah.  My husband could not recognize our cat after catching her in a live trap after she was missing for almost two months.

8. In my experience with Hurricane Katrina, after surviving out on their own, animals turn almost feral with survival instinct.  She will likely resist capture.  Once she is caught, and fed, her old personality should come beaming through.

9. Check Craigslist Pet listings, and Petfinder Classifieds as well.  Remember your local paper Found Pets Classifieds.  List her here as lost with photos if possible.

10.  Wildlife cameras may capture evening movement, and help monitor areas where people are no longer residing.

11. Here is a story of a man who placed a tent at the site of his destroyed home following a Massachusetts tornado and awaited each cat's return.  All seven of his cats returned safely within five days.  Camping via tent or camper at the site following the event, if safe, will give the pet an opportunity to return "home".

If you live in the U.S, from Canada down to Texas, please check your local petfinder listings from home.  Her eyes and the outline of her pigmented nose are very distinctive characteristics that anyone can use to help identify her in photos.  She is just gorgeous.  See if you can find this beautiful girl and reunite her with her family. 

Here are some photographs and information from the Facebook page "Bring Hanah Home"

Desperately seeking a 5yr old 110# American Bulldog, white in color,2 different eye colors, may have red rash on rt underbelly. Missing from 4915 E27th st. Please call 1-417-529-8088 or 1-843-399-2199.

Hanah has been seen 2 times since the tornado hit. Once on E 26th street in Duquesne. Hanah lived on 27th st. before the tornado. There is no house there anymore but we think that's why she may be hanging around that neighborhood."

"A VERY generous donor has just called and INCREASED THE REWARD! We are determined to BRING HANAH HOME! We'll have a big ole' check printed up for the fabulous soul who brings our gal home. If she is found at a shelter, rescue or other organization we will donate the funds to them in Hanah's name. We are overwhelmed at the generosity expressed and the love for our Hanah. ♥"

I thought about sharing photos of the devastation created by this tornado to show you how desperate circumstances are after such a massive tornado.  I thought about sharing a video of the devastation caused by this tornado.  But I do not want people focusing on the photos of wrecked houses.  I want people to focus on Hanah's face.  I want you to look at this dog without distraction.  I hope you will note the small things that will help identify her... the freckle beneath her left eye, the fact that her eyes are two different colors, the identifying shape of the pigment of her nose.  These are the details that will reunite Hanah with her family.

Here is a video about Hanah:

Please share this blog.  Spread the word.  Post it on facebook.  Send it by email.  Check your local for a dog matching her description, regardless of where you live.

Hanah's family huddled together during the storm.   Hanah was torn from their arms by the devastating winds.  The photo of Hanah sitting on the rubble was given to the family after the tornado, proof that she survived, and the search began. 

To know that your dog survived a tornado, and still not be able to hold her must be absolutely heartbreaking.  Hanah wanted to go home, but her home is no longer there.  Her neighborhood is no longer there.  Hopefully she is in the care of a good Samaritan.  The more that Hanah's photos and story are shared, the more likely the person who has Hanah will see it and be able to bring her home.  Please, help Hanah find her way home by sharing her story with as many people as you can.

What if it is your SHARE button that brings Hanah home?  

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Monday, June 6, 2011

The First Scars: Early Wounds Take Longer to Heal

When I first decided that I wanted to become a veterinarian, wait...let me rephrase that...  When I first decided that I might be capable of becoming a veterinarian, I realized that I needed to gain some experience at a veterinary clinic.  I had been successful in earning very good grades in my first full year of college classes.  Prior to that year, I was not certain that I had "what it would take" to get the grades to make my way into veterinary school, but I had proven myself wrong at least for the first year.  So I now needed summer experience to help me decide if a veterinary career was the route for me. 

I went to several local veterinary clinics to inquire and leave a resume.  I ended up with three jobs that summer.  I worked full time Monday through Friday at a busy five doctor practice.  On Saturday mornings I worked at a smaller, two doctor practice, and Sundays were reserved for working at the pet store at which I had been employed throughout high school.

The job during the week was the same veterinary clinic my family had taken all of their pets to since I was a little girl, so I was very excited about this new opportunity.   This would be the veterinary clinic I worked at five days a week for the entire summer.  It was a busy clinic with a brand new modern building with five doctors, a large staff, fancy equipment, and a large clientele.  It was not the same clinic (physically or otherwise) as the one I recall visiting as a child.  The doctor and owner I remember was now retired, although he had agreed to come to the new clinic earlier that year when our dog, Sheba, was ill and he performed her euthanasia. He had been caring for her since she was a puppy, and she was 12 years old when we lost her.  The original building that I remember was now old and vacant.  The only thing about this clinic that remained the same since my youth was its name.  The clinic had been named after the retired doctor who originally opened it.

During the first few weeks of the job, I had walked to the back room to post a few notes for the doctors on the bulletin board.  I saw a small tan dog, with a brown nose sitting by the door.  His or her leash was hooked to the door knob.  I bent over and patted the dog.  He was a cute and friendly little thing.  His tail was wagging and he kissed my hands.  He was grateful for the attention that I was giving him.  I asked one of the veterinary technicians about him.

"The ACO (animal control officer) found it by the highway, hit by a car.  It has a broken leg."  The dog gave no indication of the pain he or she was suffering.  I could see now that he was holding his back leg close to his body.  Otherwise, he was happy, alert, and playful.  I told the little dog I was sorry about his leg, certain that he was in good hands, then went back to work.  He watched me walk away, tail wagging.  I shook my head and smiled at his animated gestures as I walked away.

I searched through almost 100 pages on to find a dog that resembles the image of this little dog that still lives in my memory.  I found two...and they are both available for adoption in shelters.

Available for adoption at

Mi Mi

My memory of the little dog is fuzzy in some areas, but I recall he or she resembled a miniature version of a Yellow Labrador Retriever, although I cannot recall the gender of the dog.  I am certain the dog was wearing a collar, with no identification tags, but I can no longer recall the color or style of the collar.  The thing I remember most about this little dog is its little brown nose.  The nose was not black like the licorice gumdrop nose found on most dogs, but brown like Mimi and Hope's noses above, and like my Dove's nose.  It was brown like a little upside down Hershey's kiss.

My Dove

Later that afternoon, I came back to post more notes, and the little dog was gone.  When I inquired as to where he was, the response was, "They put it to sleep."

I was not a doctor, but I could not help but silently wonder why they could not put a splint on the little dog.  What if someone was looking for him?  He was wearing a collar.  He was so friendly and absolutely adorable that someone must be missing him.  For weeks, each time I walked through that doorway, I gazed sullenly at the empty door knob and my heart would break. 

If I wanted to become a veterinarian, I had to get used to the idea that animals get put to sleep, even healthy ones.  Didn't I?  I just did not expect it to happen to such a cute and friendly little dog.  I was naive.   I went home that night, knowing more about the job for which I was striving, more than I wanted to know.

It is only as I write this story down that I realize something.  I generally do not consider brown nose dogs as cute as black nose dogs.  I can almost say that I had a mild aversion towards them.  I preferred the black noses.  Perhaps, all these years, I have been associating those brown noses with that moment, that loss, that pain.  Now that I have my own brown nosed dog, Dove, my opinion has only recently changed forever.

The next work day went on like any other at that busy clinic.   I stayed busy answering the phones, pulling charts, posting messages on the bulletin board, walking by that damn door knob.  Then the phone rang, and I, the new employee, was the one unfortunate enough to answer it.

On the other end of the line was a woman who was obviously crying.

"I was told my dog was possibly brought there.  She may have been hit by a car."

My heart sank.

"That is possible.  The ACO brought a small dog in yesterday from the highway." I responded.

"Can you tell me what she looked like?" she asked.

I confirmed for the woman the sex, and the color of the dog's collar (the details of each escape me now, twenty plus years later).  I continued, "She was a small dog, tannish in color, with a little brown nose."  Now I was starting to get emotional.

"Is she still there?" was said with a glimmer of hope.

"No, I'm so sorry.  She was put to sleep." The lump in my throat was almost unbearable.

"If I bring a photo in, can you identify her?" she sobbed still hopeful that it was not her dog.

"Yes, my name is Lisa.  Just ask for me when you come in."  I hung the phone up with tears in my eyes, a lump in my throat, and what felt like a truck on my chest.  I did not want to look at that dog's photo.  I wanted to just walk out the door and go home. 

That afternoon, the photo was handed to me.  The image on the photo was that of the little brown nosed dog.   The woman's worst nightmare was me.

A few weeks later, there was a litter of tiny kittens in an end cage in the kennel area.   I played with them during my break.  Kittens can just be so funny.  They are so animated and cartoon-like.  Later that day, they were gone.  I asked about them.  "They were all sickly with upper respiratory so they put them down."

I finished the job that summer, but I rarely visited the back rooms.  I never worked there again for many reasons that were "more important" than these two instances.  One of the doctors was very demeaning to the staff.  The clients just loved him.  I even watched one client give him a large cash tip and I laughed quietly over the irony.  I promised myself that if I was ever fortunate enough to be "The Boss" that I would never treat my staff the way he did, and I think I have kept that promise.  There was little staff camaraderie in this clinic.  Working in reception gave me little experience about what a veterinarian truly does for a living.  Being in the reception area only meant not seeing surgery, not administering medications, not viewing x-rays.  The educational benefits of this job that were meant to help me decide what I wanted to do with my future seemed limited...and yet, looking back now, they were limitless when you consider how this experience may ultimately have shaped my life.  Those two moments and others were and are still very much a part of me. 

My Saturday job at the small two doctor practice, provided me with my Mentors.  The tiny clinic without the fancy equipment and huge clientele introduced me to the Veterinarian and the Veterinary Technician that would shape my future work, cement my beliefs and fortify my ethics.  I stayed with them each summer for seven years until I graduated veterinary school. 

I sometimes wonder, "If that large busy clinic had been my only experience that summer, would I still have chosen to become a veterinarian."  I cannot answer that, but I am so grateful that it was not my only experience.

Thank you Mary Ann and Nancy.  I may not be the best veterinarian in the world, but I am still trying and still learning to be the best animal advocate I can be, thanks to you.

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

An Act of Dog

During one of my routine perusals of Facebook, I came across a picture.  Of course the picture is of an animal.  I am certain that does not surprise anyone who knows me or knows my blog.  But it is not a photograph, it is a painting.  The face is just stunning as it peers out from behind bars.

I look into the eyes of that dog, and even though it is hand drawn, and not a photo, the emotions seeping out of this dog are tangible.  This little dog should be in some one's lap, not locked in a kennel somewhere, homeless.   The picture had obviously grabbed my attention, so I clicked on the attached link.  Often, links like this will lead you to a story with a happy ending.  The dog was painted by a local artist, a story was on the news about the artist's work, and suddenly fifty people wanted to adopt the dog in the portrait.

After clicking, I came to a website: .  The gentleman, Mark Barone, is an artist and avid dog lover in Kentucky who has partnered with Marina Dervan, another animal lover and activist.   The portraits Mark paints are endearing, but not just because of the lifelike expression on the animals' faces.  The portraits are endearing because they are of dogs that were euthanized, dogs that were killed while awaiting a family in an animal shelter.

Each and every portrait, each face, each pair of eyes peering out from the canvas is a life lost, a love lost. 

The above portrait, the one that caught my eye, is of Pat. He was killed February 13, 2011, because no one chose to bring him home.

There are more faces put to canvas...

Petey, Killed 2/13/2011

Roscoe, Killed 10/21/2010

Bruce, Killed 12/8/2010

I know what you are probably thinking right now... "But Lisa, aren't these pit bulls?   We cannot save them!"  Perhaps you are uneducated enough to have succumbed to the idiotic stereotype that pitties are all vicious, and you would never take one home.  Or perhaps you are a rescuer, not unlike myself, that sighs when you see a pittie who needs a home because they can be difficult to place for SO many reasons that do not include their temperament.  So let us temporarily forget about the forgotten pit bulls.

Let's keep looking at this gentleman's artwork...

Perhaps a Schnauzer would be more to your liking?

Eli, Killed 11/23/2010
Or a Chihuahua that someone had fed very well prior to her arrival at the shelter...

Star, Killed 11/4/2010

A German Shepherd with a smile should be easy to place into a home...

Rocky, Killed 11/10/2010
Or a beagle whose shadow even scares him...

Roy, Killed 11/2/2010

How about a Miniature Pincher that is so scared of the shelter ID collar and tag around his neck he cannot even lift his Dumbo-like ears...

Juicy, Killed 11/10/2010
Or any mixed breed puppy...

Buddy, Killed 11/7/2010

How about another Chihuahua?  He comes with a harness that was probably put in place by his owner and has been worn for years...

Cole, Killed 11/4/2010
Or a Boxer who has obviously struggled to survive, just skin and bones, but did not survive his visit to the local shelter...
Sydney, Killed 2/13/2011

If none of these faces appeal to you, then perhaps my blog is not one you should be reading.  If you are shocked by the adorable faces you see, faces that needed someone just like you, faces that never left the shelter, then you should keep reading.

Dogs and cats are being routinely killed in local shelters everywhere!  There is something wrong with a system that finds death to be a more humane outcome than commitment and dedication to the life they hold. 

Think you cannot help?  "I don't have any spare time, or any money to spare... It is just too emotional for me." Then these faces should be what you see as you try to fall asleep tonight. 

There are SO many things you can do.  Need some ideas?  Visit our previous blog by clicking here: "Help Your Local Animal Shelter While on a Budget" 

Just like Mark Barone, anyone can be creative and help animals, it just takes some soul searching.  He is producing 5500 portraits, commemorating the 5500 dogs put to death each DAY in shelters in our United States.  Mark Barone is donating 100% of the proceeds from the sale of these portraits to organisations working towards a No-Kill-Nation.

Mark is painting portraits of love lost.  Each portrait is going to be displayed in an art exhibit.  Each face is going to be witnessed by hundreds or perhaps thousands of people.  If only a small percentage of these people become active in animal welfare, the benefits could be enormous!  If a small percentage of people learned to ask the right questions about their local shelter, the benefits would be amazing!  The faces seen in this two football field length exhibit, commemorate the dogs that die in one single day in shelters, shelters that are funded by our tax dollars and your donations to care for our lost and homeless animals.   Are you really okay with that? 

Before choosing which shelter or rescue to help, visit this article: What is in a name?  Know what questions to ask, before you write a check or donate your time.

If the benefits of this exhibit resulted in leaving a blank canvas, it would be the most priceless print in this collection.  It would be an Act of DOG.

Now I am going to shed 5500 tears...
"Imagine standing in an Exhibit that is ... two football fields long and over ten feet in height. These paintings represent less than 1% of what the actual exhibit will be. The final exhibition will be a haunting memorial and tribute to all of our beloved pets, who were needlessly killed and robbed of their right to life."  Mark Barone

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