Monday, June 29, 2009

Animal Shelter. Volunteer Work. Time and Effort. Animal Welfare.

Yesterday was a busy Sunday afternoon at the shelter. I am usually there in the morning, but the afternoon crew was shorthanded and I was asked to help out. As it turned out, only two other volunteers worked the shift aside from myself and one of them spent most of her time at the cattery. That left me and this newly minted volunteer to work the dogs. He plans to be a vet tech in the future, and so he is doing volunteer work for experience. All dogs have to be walked, watered and some of them fed a second time in the day. The scrubbing and washing of the kennels is the morning crew's job. With approximately seventeen dogs at the shelter, we had some work to do ourselves.

As always, the entire dog population throws up a cacophony of barks, howls, and plaintive cries as we led one dog after another for their walk outside. Everyone wanted to get out, but they had to wait their turn. This is typical. When I walk a dog, I don't just go one trip up and down our walkway and access road. I take the dogs several trips along this route, and sometimes into the woods. They are cooped up for hours in their kennels and they truly need to unwind and work off some pent up energy and frustration. I include a visit to our fenced-in yard where I let them loose, one dog at a time. It pleases me to see them run free and loose. All these things take a lot of time and attention.

Complicating the routine are potential adopters, and there were several of them yesterday. They arrived at the shelter and they wanted to see a certain dog, or any dog we have up for adoption. Not all dogs at the shelter are up for adoption, by the way. Some are slated for medical treatment before adoption, and some dogs are not yet legally ours. The latter group comes from our animal control officers, cases of divorce and foreclosure, and strays coming out of the woods or out on the roads whose owners---if there are any---haven't been identified yet. Showing one dog could take from 15 to 20 minutes. I take the dog out for a walk with the people. I take them to the yard where they can play with the dog. The dog's history is discussed. Questions are answered. I showed four dogs yesterday from which two will probably get adopted ( the people filled out application forms).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

George Custer. Dogs of War. The American Civil War.

George Armstrong Custer. Who does not recognize the name? His grave is a must-see for me at West Point. That was pre-9/11 when people could freely tour the academy in their own car. The cemetery is some ways up from the main grounds, and there you can visit the graves of many heroes. Custer, himself, was a graduate of the academy (1861) just in time for the war between the states. And, as always cited in many treatises upon his life, Custer graduated number thirty-four in a class of thirty-four.

Here are three photographs of Custer, two during the war and one taken during a hunting trip after the war. It seems that the gentleman was a dog-lover, but not a complete animal-lover according to our modern terms. I found a photograph of him with a bear he shot dead. I despise hunting and hunters, but I realize that Custer was a product of his times. The ASPCA wasn't in existence yet and the concept of organized efforts directed at animal welfare would be analogous in impertinence to our concept of martians in flying saucers. Imagine, women didn't have voting rights yet at that time.

I like the army staff group photo the most, notice the dog. The men consists of the staff of Gen. Fitz-John during the Peninsula Campaign in 1862. Obviously, Custer had not yet attained his brevet rank of General at that time. The dog seemed very familiar and trusting of Custer, and Custer had his reassuring hand on the dog. These photographs tell us that almost definitely dogs traveled with the U.S. army during the civil war, at least with high ranking staff. And perhaps the same can be said about the confederate army. The Dogs of War? Well, yes. But not in the same sense as Frederick Forsyth meant. They were the dogs of war, literally.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Northern New Jersey. Dog for Adoption. Box. Shepherd Mix.

Good boy, Box, good boy. I have become better friends with Box in the last few weeks, and I know that when he is adopted he will not be returned. There's not a bit of aggression in him, and he's not hard-headed at all. Box constantly sniffs around when walking, and that's probably from his days as a tethered backyard dog. One of our shelter volunteers, probably our President, saved Box from a life of misery and loneliness. I heard that he lived in a " box " that was inadequate in providing shelter and warmth. Well, Box is getting a lot of socialization and care at the shelter nowadays. He's a medium-sized dog although he looks big in the photo. Box has been with us for approximately two months now, and he's ready to go.

Bloomingdale Animal Shelter Society

Kentucky. Fawn. Animal Rescue Breaks the Law. Kindness vs. the Law.

It's another case where human kindness ran afoul of the law. Transporting wildlife across state lines is illegal, so they say. Obviously, somewhere in labyrinths of the law, there have been exceptions made because we know that the cruel Barnum and Bailey Ringling Bros. Circus does it all the time. I hope something more humane could be worked out for both the rescuer and the fawn. This fawn looks so sweet that euthanizing it ought to be against the law. The authorities are going to kill it to check for diseases. Why not just quarantine the fawn, and then release it back to the wild?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Jersey. A1669. Bowhunting on Sundays. Gov. Corzine Signs A1669 into Law.

This bulletin from the NJARA arrived last week, but I haven't had the time to cross-post it until today. If you have followed the course, you would know by now that Governor Corzine signed into law A1669, allowing bowhunting in Sundays. Do I feel betrayed? Yes, I do. Many pro-animal rights citizens including an equestrian organization have contacted his office about vetoing this bill. But in the end, the governor was unswayed. There truly is no other way to understand this but to accept that the governor believes another day of hunting and killing animals is fine. Well, I certainly will remember Jon Corzine on election day. The fight isn't over because for animal rights advocates the fight is never over. There have been comments made at this site by pro-hunting people on the signing of this bill, but I have not published them because of their celebratory nature. Joyous comments on the killing of animals have no place here. Below is NJARA's bulletin:


When Governor Corzine signed the Sunday bowhunting bill, A1669/S802, into law on May 4, we all felt betrayed by the legislative process. We knew from polling the Senate and Assembly that there was strong opposition to the bill. However, we also learned that A1669/S802 was part of a power struggle launched by South Jersey legislators beholden to the National Rifle Association, the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and several low level, but high-bluster, pseudo-conservation, anti-environment, and anti-animal organizations in New Jersey. So, a bill that languished in the state legislature for more than 10 years was signed into law. Environmental lobbyists called the Sunday Hunting legislation "a dirty bill." What's next? No more "dirty bills."

First, we intend to preserve the threatened 450 foot bow safety zone. S976/A595, which may be posted for a Senate floor vote at any time, breaches the current 450 zone and reduces buffers to a mere 151 feet - without the homeowner's permission. Often deer take refuge close to houses and in fact many people feed deer during hunting season specifically to keep them safe. By allowing hunters to move in 299 feet closer to homes, more deer will undoubtedly be killed. In fact, this is the reason the hunters and Fish and Wildlife are giving legislators for passing this bill. They’re repeating their widely believed fabrication that killing more deer will reduce the population.

As our members and supporters know, we are persistent. We've launched several proactive initiatives to continue in our fight to protect wildlife, the public interest, and the integrity of our legislative process. To that end, we've met with strategists, attorneys and legislators. Make no mistake: this will be an uphill battle, but action is crucial and still needed - by each and every one of you.

Campaign to Keep Safety Buffers
NJARA has created a high-profile billboard campaign and a website ( to bring S976/A595, into the open, before the public. (See the billboard at You can do your part by helping us promote Forward the link to everyone you know. Discuss it with your neighbors. If you know other organizations that would like to join the SafeBackYards coalition, please have them write to:

Members in key districts will receive postcards in the mail with further instructions. We have a comprehensive plan that involves a lot of work, but we know we can count on our members to do what is needed. In the meantime, please visit to find out more about what you can do right now. If you would like to help fund more billboards, send a donation with SafeBackYards billboard in the memo.

Our sincere thanks to everyone who met with their local Senators, called your legislators and wrote to Governor Corzine.

Finally, there are a lot of exciting things happening that will change the course of animal protection in New Jersey. Please stay tuned.

Angi Metler,
Executive Director

Saturday, June 13, 2009

New Jersey. AB 3803. Say No to Excessive Tethering of Dogs.

My fellow New Jerseyans, there is an assembly bill introduced by Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone that addresses the plight of tethered dogs in our state. This bill is known as AB 3803, and it seeks to limit the amount of time a dog can be tethered in a 24-hour period. Specifically, a dog cannot be tethered between 10pm and 6am, or for more than an hour outside of those times. When tethering is allowed, additional provisos include disallowing choke-type tethers, tethers that are less than ten feet long, tethers that are heavier than 1/8 of the dog's weight, prohibiting more than one dog per tether, and prohibiting the confinement of a 6-month or older dog to a permanent enclosure that is less than 150 square feet.

So far, so good for me. The rationale behind this bill centers on the relationship between tethering and the hostility it engenders in dogs. Dogs, because they are social beings, do not react well to excessive tethering. After prolonged tethering, what was once a nice dog is now a growling, unsocilaized, would-be biter. Heck, you don't have to convince me. I see the end result of prolonged captivity all the time. Without inquiring about the history of the new arrivals at the shelter, I can tell who is a backyard dog with a few exceptions. It's like being at a round table where it is easy to discern who has a happy disposition from those who have long faces. You don't have to be Dr. Phil to spot a troubled sentient being. And I wouldn't say " Only God knows what these dogs went through " because we---the shelter volunteers---know what chaining/tethering can do to a dog. Believe me, the anger and hostility is easily recognizable. It's like reading a newspaper. The fine point here is that the bill still allows the tethering of dogs for reasons relating to the dog's own safety, the safety of individuals in the immediate area, conducting law enforcement, grooming and veterinary procedures---things like that. But excessive tethering? Days-long chaining? Forget about it. That's creating a monster. If you want a permanent fixture in your backyard, get a statue.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Dog Rescued, Rehab, Rehomed. Hagrid. Mastiff. Philippine Animal Welfare Society. June 2009.

Here's a story of rescue, rehabilitation, and adoption that will surely warm your heart. Coming out of the Philippines, this is the story of Hagrid, a mastiff abandoned by his owner on the street.Of course, he was left there to fend for himself and ultimately to die from hunger and apathy. Fortunately, a member of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society ( PAWS ) chanced upon him and took action. I don't want to sound like a bitter, cynical man but sympathy isn't enough. Sympathy usually makes OUR conscience feel good, but action makes the abused animal feel better.

This is a wonderful story, and so don't be afraid to read through it. I won't regurgitate. Instead, I am reposting the article that appeared last week in the animal welfare advocates forum. The article is unsigned but I am almost sure that it was written by the Director of PAWS, Anna Cabrera.


He was found in an advanced state of malnourishment along Katipunan Avenue.

The massive dog hardly had any fur left on him and flies feasted on his stinking body. He had sagging skin and discharge coming from his eyes. Someone had left him there to die. What other reason could there be for someone to leave a sick English mastiff on the sidewalk of Katipunan?

Hagrid was weak from hunger, he could barely stand up when a PAWS officer saw him
The PAWS officer who stopped to ask passers-by about the dog was informed that a jeepney driver "owned" the dog. The same driver quickly denied ownership and said that the dog was given to him by an unknown man when PAWS started asking him questions.

The Shelter took in the gentle giant and PAWS Adoption Head, Liza Umayam , a Harry Potter fan, aptly named him "Hagrid".

For months, Hagrid stayed in the dog quarantine area, always wagging his tail and greeting visitors with crinkled noses : the sticky discharge from his mangy skin would fill his kennel space with a smell that could drive a skunk away. To test a new volunteer's mettle in cleaning kennels was to assign him or her to scrub THE KENNEL and to give THE DOG a bath.

Many baths later, after completing tests and vaccinations, our shelter vet said that it was safe for Hagrid to be mixed with the other dogs of Dog Run 1.

So late March 2009, Hagrid timidly stepped into an enclosure where ten average-sized native dogs quickly huddled away from him in one corner of the run.

It was a day of 'new things' for these shelter dogs - a portable kiddie pool had just been brought in so that they can cool off in the hot weather..and now, this giant hulk being made to join them!
"They rescued a pony and brought him in with us!" or so we thought we heard the dogs say.

For a few awkward minutes, Hagrid ran around the pool trying to make friends with the frightened PAWS shelter dogs. Parvati, the brave (white) one, was the first to assess that Hagrid was nothing more than an oversized puppy. Once that was established, everything went back to normal in Dog Run 1. =)

But inwardly, shelter staff and volunteers feared whether the curse of "big dogs" would continue and whether we would indeed be able to find Hagrid a good home.

Large breeds are among the most difficult to place, requiring owners with plenty of yard space, time and a fair bit of experience with dogs. Memories of Buck, the shelter's Great Dane, who died unadopted in the shelter, were still clear in volunteers' minds

Our fears evaporated when Doris Cruz started walking Hagrid in April 2009.

It seemed as if it was love at first sight. Our long-time shelter patron and dog-rescuer, Doris, and our gentle giant, Hagrid - definitely a match made in heaven!
Last June 1, Doris Cruz took Hagrid home. She sent us the photo below yesterday.

Is it our imagination or is that the biggest doggie smile ever?

-The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Tengteng in Art. Animal Abuse. The Apotheosis of a Stray Animal.

There are innumerable cases of animal abuse, and surely there are scores of them being enacted right at this very moment in various places around the globe. But some of them stand out for one reason or another---the locale, the time, the identity of the abuser, their relevance to a greater issue presently pressing upon the world, or the level of inhumanity. If you haven't heard of Tengteng, the month-old kitten stomped to death by a university student named Joseph Carlo Candare, you can read about her tragedy HERE. Since the petition went online, thousands of people from all walks of life have become familiar with her short life and death. She's become one of the standard bearers for defenseless and abused animals. I urge you to sign the petition and send your very own stinging email to the school authorities who have decided to act as Mr. Candare's defense team rather than the prosecution.

Janette Ramos, a self-declared neophyte digital artist, took Tengteng's photo and transformed it into an ethereal image that panders to our best wishes and heartfelt prayers for Tengteng in the afterlife. Ms. Ramos' effective portrayal of a murdered stray kitten turned angel soothes our pain and our collective sense of loss. With no humans to wait for at the rainbow bridge, Tengteng is seen under a heavenly glow, with angel wings and a cavernous ear turned towards the reader, as if waiting for the news that justice has finally been served. The painting is aptly named,
Elysium. Tengteng is gone, but her month-long life on Earth has become emblematic of the hideous cruelty that humankind heaps on defenseless animals.

Monday, June 01, 2009

New Jersey. Dog for Adoption. Jasmine. Bloomingdale Animal Shelter.

Oh Jasmine. Why art thou still at the shelter? It has been approximately three months since you arrived. I know that there are people already interested in you, but you should be given as much exposure as possible. You are sweet and behaved. I love the way you lick my face when I hug you. And you sure love the way I rub your chest and back. We don't train dogs to jump on our laps, but you can always put your paws on my thighs while I jingle your ears and run my thumb across your cheeks. You're one of the sweetest dogs I have ever met at the shelter. A home, we shall find you.

Bloomingdale Animal Shelter Society