If you believe in the positive influence of pets in people’s lives and the importance of honoring the rescue, care and well-being of animals you’ll want to listen, watch and read our interviews. We enjoy sharing the insights and experiences of animal advocates with our online audience.
As you’ll see, we are interested in people from all walks of life who make animal welfare a priority. Rescues, shelters, artists, authors, manufacturers, businesses – we love exploring their worlds and sharing how they make a push for the betterment of animals’ lives.
You can get our audio interviews as a podcast.
In partnership with aginginplace.org, we would like to publish this great article today. You can find the original post on http://www.aginginplace.org/seniors-and-pets/
Are you wondering how you are going to care for your pet as you age in place? Are you wondering if you should adopt a pet as you age in place? This guide will help you decide on the best choice for you. Studies have shown that owning a pet can be physically and mentally beneficial for people of all ages. In the case of senior citizens, “just 15 minutes bonding with an animal sets off a chemical chain reaction in the brain, lowering levels of the fight-or-flight hormone, cortisol, and increasing production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. The result: heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels immediately drop. Over the long term, pet and human interactions can lower cholesterol levels, fight depression and may even help protect against heart disease and stroke” (Byrne, 2015).
If you are mostly immobile, a cat may be the best option because you don’t have to walk them. A small dog that uses pee pads or a caged animal may also be a good option. Senior dogs and cats are better for the elderly because they are more calm, quiet, and less maintenance. Be sure to have the pet checked out by a veterinarian. A pre-existing illness or disease could drain your bank account or make you sick. For those seniors who want a dog, there are many reasons to be wary of jumping into pet adoption too quickly. The lack of mobility and inability to drive to and from the vet, groomer, or pet store worries them. The initial costs are usually high. They also worry that if and when there comes a point when they can no longer care for the dog, that the dog might be taken to a shelter and eventually euthanized. Many seniors feel like their worsening health condition is a burden, and a pet might possibly add to that.
Top 6 Reasons Seniors Should Adopt a Pet
There are numerous reasons for adopting a pet. From companionship to security, pets can provide seniors a better quality of life and improve aging in place. Finding the right pet for you or your family member is easy, and the benefits can be far-reaching
Matching Older Dogs with the Elderly
Pets for Seniors in Illinois created an adoption program that matches senior dogs and senior cats with senior citizens. They worked out solutions to the issues that seniors have with pet adoption, and the program is very successful. The program pays for most of the adoption fee, chooses calm and housebroken older dogs, and provides support every step of the way. If the animal is not a good fit, the organization will take back the pet and refund any fees. Other humane shelters around the nation are trying to replicate this model.
Pet Therapy for Seniors
Those who work caring for the elderly say that pets pull withdrawn seniors out of their shell, provide mild activity and cardio through walking and grooming the pet, and offer a way to feel needed and connect with the world. Pet therapy can also help with Alzheimer’s Sundowners Syndrome. Nighttime can be very confusing and disorienting for folks with Alzheimer’s disease. This is when some Alzheimer’s patients try to run away or leave their home. A pet can prevent this issue by keeping those with Alzheimer’s connected and occupied.
“Animals’ non-verbal communication and profound acceptance can be soothing for those with difficulty using language; some may even connect with memories of their own treasured pets”
“Animals’ non-verbal communication and profound acceptance can be soothing for those with difficulty using language; some may even connect with memories of their own treasured pets” (Byrne, 2015). Pet therapy has shown to improve appetite, social interaction, brain stimulation, and tactile activity. The unconditional love of a dog brings healing and meaning to a sometimes lonely stage in life. Ask your doctor, physical therapist, or social worker about any pet therapy programs in your community. Just because you give away a pet or choose not to take one into your home, it doesn’t mean that you can’t visit with other family pets or receive pet therapy. There are pet therapy home visit services all over the country. Alliance of Therapy Dogs and Therapy Dogs International are volunteer-run organizations with outposts all over the world. A local volunteer will come to your home and bring a trained service dog that is very well-behaved. The dog can play, cuddle, and perform commands during a half-hour or one-hour session.
Service Dogs for Seniors
For seniors with disabilities, a service dog might be the best option. “The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 2011 defines service dogs as those trained to do work directly related to a person’s disability. Emotional support animals and dogs used as crime deterrents are excluded from this definition. A service dog is expected to accompany a person with a disability at all times” (Wang, 2013). Service dogs go through extensive training to remain calm and help their owner with mobility issues.
Service dog skills include: opening doors with a strap, pushing doors closed, helping their handler dress and undress, helping those in wheelchairs sit up straight & place feet and arms on footrests and armrests, preventing falls, and retrieving wheelchairs and walkers. It’s amazing the tasks these dogs can do! In an emergency situation, service dogs are trained to perform life-saving tasks, like retrieving medication, calling 911, opening the door for EMT and first responders, running to get help or barking for help after identifying an emergency and laying down on their handler’s chest to help them a cough or breath better. For hearing impaired owners, service dogs are trained in alerting their handlers to the presence of other people or particular sounds, retrieving dropped objects, carrying messages, and warning that an unseen vehicle is approaching. For visually impaired owners, service dogs are trained in avoiding obstacles like moving vehicles, signaling a change in elevation, locating objects on command, and retrieving dropped objects.
Find the right service dog for you. Pets often increase the amount of exercise pet owners get versus non-pet owners. More exercise isn’t always a good thing for older people with injuries and susceptibility to falls. There are also some nonprofits in existence that will help elderly folks care for their pets when walking their dog multiple times a day or cleaning out the litter box is too burdensome. Look to see if there is one in your area.
In 2012 I wrote an article about Toni Eakes and her rescue and she threatened to sue me and I had to take it down.
I left this short post up to let people know why I took the previous post down.
For whatever reason, maybe because the universe wants it, this post ranks #1 in google when you search for “Toni Eakes” and I receive countless emails, phone calls and blog comments from people seeking help with all kind of issues revolving around Toni Eakes and her rescue “A wish for animals”
I never worked with her or met her, but due to this overwhelming flood of people and authorities looking for help or information about her, I felt the urge to publish some of the emails sent to me without publishing names.
You decide whether you want to work with her, adopt from her or volunteer for her. I’m just helping the public and the animals in sharing these emails.
Hello, I tried reading your blog but looks like it was taken down. I fostered for Toni 2 years ago in October of 2013. It was the worst experience of my life. I was wondering what your blog had said. I’d love to know that I wasn’t the only one who got screwed by her then harassed and threatened Thanks
Toni Eake’s facility is actually located at 5930 jasmine St in Riverside. Its a hell hole.
I worked for her and stayed at her property. Animal control was there the day I took these pics and did nothing. I’ve called everyone and sent these pics. Police and animal control don’t seem to want to help. Dogs with mange ticks injuries and illness. What more do they need to see? The matted dog was aced and shaved by a volunteer. Toni asked me to do it and I told her to have him anesthetized and groomed by a vet. Instead she bought ace promazine and had a volunteer do it. The last pic is what he looked like before they attempted to do anything. He came to the kennel clean and developed the mats over months in her care. Last Tuesday the director of services, Frank Corvina told me he sent officers to the property the previous day to check on a litter of five week old puppies that were dehydrated to the point where the volunteers were giving sub cutaneous fluids to them. A volunteer informed me AC never even came.
I would like to get a copy of your article. I have been in rescue for many years and known that she was bad but i need to show others occasionally . Thanks
Hi. Can you please tell me more about Toni Eakes? A Wish for Animals has been pulling dogs with high pledges from southern California shelters. And most recently one of the dogs was deemed aggressive. The foster can no longer keep the dog and the rescue isn’t cooperating in taking the dog back. Any insights would be much appreciated. Thank you.
To whom it may concern,
Good morning, my name is L. and I am a proud Pitty adopter for the second time. In doing research on google about a Wish for Animals I found your post about having to take down the article about Toni Eakes. I unfortunately made the mistake of adopting a rescue from her and it may turn into a legal issue. What should be a joyous and happy event has turned into one of the worst experiences I have ever had. I was wondering if you could help with some information and or any help in dealing with this group. Thank you.
Hello, a woman has asked us for help with a foster she has had that belongs to Toni Eakes. This woman has paid for EVERYTHING for this dog. Toni has given her $0 towards the dog. She has had him over a year now. She must move & contacted Toni.Toni won’t take the dog back. Toni told the foster that she is in breach & is abandoning the dog. I always thought the rescue is the owner! When the foster said she would re home the dog Toni told her that’s illegal cos she owns the dog. Whatever! I need some info so I know what to do to help this foster.
Hi, I hesitate to write to you because quite frankly, the woman scares me. However, I couldn’t agree more that she shouldn’t be involved in animal welfare. I have a long sorted story regarding my experience with her and since it isn’t over, I would rather not go into details about it in this email. In fact, I would be much more comfortable talking about it, than writing it since I want to avoid a retaliation from her. Once my involvement with her is over, I would like to help in whatever way I can, as well as sharing my story on your comment board. In the end, there needs to be a way to get the word out about her.
Hi thank you for responding. I recently adopted a dog with Toni and it turned into a nightmare. The dog was nothing like the dog that they described when I adopted him. He was not neutered, vaccinated, or microchipped. I was told that’s what the $350 paid for but Toni never returned my calls when I tried to contact her about getting these things done. Toni never responded to any of my communications. He got aggressive around my 5 year old and all other dogs. He also bit my parents docile elder dog on several occasions. When I contactedToni saying this wasn’t the right home for the dog she got so defensive that she turned it all around on me. Verbally attacked me and said I had made the dog act that way and that I had put the dog in danger. She insisted that I return him by the end of that day. She was unwilling to refund my $350 so I could adopt another dog. I I cannot believe she gets away with it. I have been told to take her to small claims court but not sure if I will win because she says what I paid was a donation to a non-profit organization. Very frustrating. Thank you for the info!
Hi, I am very concerned and discouraged after working withToni on Saturday. I would appreciate a phone call or and email with any information that can be provided.
Hi, Thank you for putting an article together about Ms. Toni Eakes. I thought her lawyer might have contacted you and that is why I could not read the article. I met Ms. Eakes two years ago and the experience was horrible. I have a dog that is now, in decent health this is of course spending over 15,000. The story is a long one and I ended up going on a mission because of her crueltyto animals to get her shut down and I had no luck. I appreciate you taking the time to write an article and hope one day she will be stopped.
Thank you for sharing. I was the one that called animal control on her in 2010 for the place in Laguna Hills. I had a report on her from Orange County Animal Control over 500 pages. I followed her for a awhile and called animal control at her home which again, animal control stepped in. I also got threats from her lawyer and my lawyer wrote her letter then, I never heard from her again. I was lucky my lawyer is an animal advocate. I am sorry, that this behavior of Ms.Eakes has continued for so many years. It is truly sad for the animals involved and the community. My hope is that her cruelty someday stops.
Thank you for emailing me back so quickly. On Saturday, my ten year old and I met Toni and several of her dogs at a Petsmart in RSM. I filled out paperwork, which I assumed was to foster a dog. Before we left she had me sign it. Since I have a King Charles at home, I asked about his vaccinations, worms and flea/tick medicine. She assured me everything was up to date. With all the excitement, I did not get a copy of what I signed. Huge mistake!!! In fact, I did not bring home one piece of paperwork. The next day (Sunday), I called her and asked for a copy of what I had signed and proof of his vaccinations. She was rude and said that I was only fostering and did not have rights to the vaccine records. She also informed me in an email later that night that what I signed was not a foster agreement, but an adoption agreement. She said she had crossed out adoption and put foster on the form (without my knowledge) and asked me to sign it. She still refuses to give me a copy or any records on the dog I brought home. She has been extremely unprofessional and is insisting I sign the foster agreement. The foster contract holds me liable for neutering (which was done by someone already) and that “I must provide proper care (proper food, water & shelter), including necessary medical care, regular checkups and vaccinations as necessary.” It also states that, “I promise and agree to be solely responsible for these animals and to indemnify and hold harmless A Wish for Animals from any and all claims of liability for the conduct of this animal while in my/our home and care. THIS IS A BINDING CONTRACT ENFORCEABLE BY CIVIL LAW.” I find this unacceptable, especially since I am being refused any of the records. I am happy to train, provide a good environment for him to grow in and am in a situation where this would benefit the dog. Her website says foster parents will receive everything from medical care to food at no cost. I found that contradicting and concerning. In addition, on Monday night, two nights after bringing him home with my son and King Charles, I found out the dog had tape worms and fleas. She told me it was easy to take care of and all available at Petsmart. I did not know it would cost me $91. It had only been two days since I had brought him home! I should not be responsible at such an early stage for those costs. When I emailed her (I do have copies of these emails if you want to see them) about reimbursement, and contract concerns, plus I gave her updates on the dog, she refused to pay for the de-worming and flea meds and said I should have waited until this coming Sunday (which would have been 7 days later.) She said she could not afford it. This of course was not an option with my other dog. I didn’t want fleas all over my home or risk getting worms. She didn’t answer any other questions concerning the contract and just stated I needed to sign it. When I brought the dog home she told me he was a lab mix. After researching online, I discovered he is a Rot/Pit Bull Terrier mix. She had no response about my questions on that either. I was informed after bringing him home that he was about 1 1/2 years old and was a shy dog. Then after speaking with her trainer I was told he was most likely a puppy mill dog and knew no life except a cage. Toni was so rude when I asked questions. The dog seemed fearful of people, sounds and cowered like he had been beat. Toni said he had never been beat or aggressive. She treated me like his behavior was my fault. She then very rudely proceeded to lecture me about what I had to do to care for the dog, including which collar I had to use (which slipped right off his head). Not once has she shown gratitude, compassion, appreciation or excitement about the progression of this dog. The trainer who was keeping him for two weeks left him in a large backyard with her 6 Mastiffs. The trainer said a week ago he could not even be pet or walked. When I brought him home, he was clueless what affection was, did not know how to play and still could not be walked. He was nervous about being pet. He has never been in a home environment and was scared to death when I showered and washed dishes. I have worked so hard with him. I hate to give him back to her, but I do not feel like I have a choice. This is a good dog that has an opportunity to grow and be trained, but he is not ready to go into any home. He needs time to learn what home life is and be appealing for adoption. I do not want to make this about me or her. I just am floored by the legal stand point, her demands and unprofessionalism. I fear in the end the dog is going to suffer. I do not know what you recommend. There is more to my story, but those are the main points. I also have the emails as proof. I am an honest, loving, moral divorced mother of 1. I hate drama and avoid it at all costs. This has had a huge impact on me because I have not seen anyone behave so irresponsible, controlling, unethical, dishonest and rude as she is. It is truly disturbing. I have made great progress with the dog. He walks on a leash very well, has learned how to play, smiles, is potty trained, affectionate and discovering what being loved feels like. The progression is unreal. All she seems to care about is herself and money. Thank you for any insight or support you can give. I am very discouraged right now. I also filed a complaint with the BBB. She has had 3 other complaints and her record is an F with them.
‘Oh, that one, he’s not going to be adopted anytime soon, he’s deaf’. This is what a worker at one of the rescues where I have volunteered said, when I asked her why a particular dog wasn’t being shown to the public. ‘Nobody wants to deal with a deaf dog, they all want ‘perfect dogs’.
Some dedicated dog rescue organizations show that this statement is simply not correct — and we’re glad we can introduce our audience to one of them: Deaf Dogs Rock.
Through my volunteer work at different animal rescues I was always amazed by the deaf dogs at the shelters. I always wanted to learn more about their personalities, ways of communication and why some dogs are born deaf or become deaf with time. After we interviewed Blind Dog Rescue Alliance last year, I always had it in mind to find a reputable organization to add to our ongoing serious of interviews. Fortunately, we found a wonderful rescue dedicated to deaf and hearing-impaired dogs.
Deaf Dogs Rock is dedicated to helping and advocating for deaf or partial hearing-loss dogs by rescuing dogs in shelters, assisting deaf dog owners, and educating the public about these wonderful, capable animals. Deaf Dogs Rock is a non-profit corporation in the state of VA run by a group of dedicated volunteers. We had the great pleasure of interviewing Christina Lee, the founder of Deaf Dogs Rock, and learned a lot of important facts about deaf dogs.
How did your adventure in dog rescue begin? It all started with my first deaf dog Nitro. A friend of mine worked at the City of Salem Animal Shelter here in Salem, Virginia. The AC officers spotted an 8 week old skinny white deaf boxer puppy at the Salem River. They knew they could not adopt it out to just anyone so they called me and asked me if I would adopt this pitiful little deaf puppy. I told them I would ask my husband but I thought it would be a long shot. We already had 3 dogs and we weren’t really looking to adopt another dog, especially a “special needs” puppy. When I asked Chris what he thought after showing him a photo of the puppy he said “yes” and I was shocked.
We ended up adopting our Nitro the next day but we ended up staying up most of the night learning as much as we could about ASL and training deaf puppies. What we discovered was most of the information on the internet was slightly outdated so we ended up going into training for the first year at Field of Dreams Training Center in Vinton VA. Although they had never had a deaf puppy in their classes they were pleasantly surprised how well Nitro excelled in all of his classes. Before long the local TV station did a story on him and it went National and my email box started filling up with questions and deaf dogs in need of homes so Chris and I decided to launch Deaf Dogs Rock to help others to have one site to go to and feel like part of a special community who can help with deaf dogs and the challenges they face, and to also list deaf dogs up for adoption.
Why did you decide to help deaf dogs in particular? What continually fascinates you about them?
I adopted Nitro and when I realized most shelters put deaf dogs to sleep the minute they walk into the shelter, then it sort of hit me like a brick. I would look at Nitro and just think about all the deaf puppies and dogs just like him that were never ever given a chance so I knew Nitro and I had to do something to change people’s perceptions about them. They are not hard to train, just different to train.
You have many cute dogs on your website available for adoption. Approximately, how many dogs in total do you have listed on your website?
Right now we have about 125 deaf dogs listed. We have had as many as 200-300 listed at one time (in the beginning). We are getting a lot more traffic these days so a lot more dogs are being adopted because of our Deaf Dogs Rock Website.
Approximately, how many dogs have been adopted through DDR? It’s hard to say at this point because I only stared keeping track (the best I can) about six months ago. Six months ago I added an “Adopted Deaf Dog” section so I could start moving our adopted deaf dogs over to the Adopted Deaf Dog section so I would at least get some idea of how many are adopted off our website. On a good month, 30 deaf dogs are moved from our available for adoption to our adopted section. This month right now I think we are right at 24 for the month of May. For 2013 I estimate the number will be between 250 and 300 deaf dogs going to new homes from being listed and networked from our website.
What happens to dogs that don’t have the chance to be adopted?
If they are at a reputable rescue they can remain in foster care for years. We have one listing Ziggy who has been with his foster mom now for 3 years. If it is an Animal Control center then they usually get put to sleep. If a puppy is at an Animal Control many times through our network of rescues we will sponsor the puppy to be pulled, and also we help get the puppy transported to a rescue where we know the puppy can learn basic training, but also a rescue is going to have very strict guidelines for potential adopters looking to adopt a deaf puppy.
How do you locate and rescue dogs?
Ha! How do I find them, well I don’t, they find me! Deaf Dogs Rock has such an amazing group of deaf dog followers and rescue organizations that if a deaf dog is networked on Facebook, I can almost guarantee DDR will be tagged in a deaf dog listing. Once DDR is tagged then I send the organization a message with guidelines of what they need to send me to get the dog listed on Deaf Dogs Rock.
How can I ﬁnd out if my dog is deaf?
What are the indicators? They sleep deeply and don’t wake up to noise. A person can pull up in your driveway and they might not notice although they do feel the vibration sometimes. Once they are asleep if you jingle your car keys and they don’t wake up that is a very good indicator. If you call your dog and he doesn’t turn around to make eye contact then that is another strong indicator your dog is either deaf or partially impaired.
Why are mostly white dogs affected?
The most common cause of congenital deafness in white dogs is pigment related. If there is un-pigmented skin in the inner ear the nerve endings die off or atrophy and die off in the first few weeks of a white puppies life resulting in the pups inability to hear anything. Sometimes it happens in both ears which is called Bilateral Deafness and sometimes it happens in only one year which is called Unilateral Deafness.
What are the most common reasons people give up their deaf dog?
It depends. Sometimes it is life change like having a baby so a family might worry about a deaf dog being startled by a baby. Sometimes a family thinks they can raise a deaf puppy without fencing so when the puppy comes to live with them and has nowhere to safely run and exercise the high energy deaf puppy resorts to chewing and destroying furniture. Some folks don’t realize how much of a time commitment training a dog or a deaf dog in general takes. Many times a family will adopt an 1 or 2 year old deaf dog and the resident hearing dog at home protests by attacking the deaf dog so the deaf dog is the one who has to go. I do get puppies from breeders who don’t feel right about selling a deaf puppy to anyone because they know a potential adopter needs to be someone special willing to go that extra mile to raise a deaf puppy.
What can people expect from a deaf dog, compared to a hearing dog?
The two are very much the same because when we train a puppy we are teaching them our communications skills. With a hearing puppy we teach them verbally but with a deaf puppy we teach them through visual hand signs. The main focus when training a deaf dog is to make sure the dog is looking directly at you. For this reason we start off all dog and puppies on a leash or a tether so we can tap them, teach them the “watch me” sign and then start teaching them commands through hand signs.
Your website is very informative and a great resource; you give tips and answer many questions. For newbies, can you tell us in a nutshell what are the most important things to know in terms of training and handling your deaf dog? How do dog owners communicate with deaf dogs?
To read up on positive reinforcement clicker training and substitute the sound of a clicker with a visual sign like and open flash of your hand . I start signing “watch me” and every time the puppy makes eye contact I give them an open flash of my hand to mark the correct response to my sign and then treat as a positive motivator. I start by signing for everything I do with the dog. So the first step is learning the simple signs or you can make up you signs but make sure you are consistent by using the same signs for the same commands. We do feature a short video on DeafDogsRock.com by Alisha McGraw where her video can teach you most of the signs you need to know. Also I highly recommend “tether training” you deaf dog the first week you have it because it bonds you to the dog and it also teaches then a lot in a short time. You can go to our Training Blog on Deaf DogsRock.com to learn more about deaf dog tether training.
Can dogs lose their sense of hearing with time or are they mainly born deaf?
Absolutely they can lose their hearing as they get older (senior dogs) or they can lose their hearing from infection or blunt force trauma to their head.
Who is the perfect adoptee and how is your adoption process?
Someone who can offer a safe and loving environment for the dog. Someone who is patient and will not ever punish the deaf dog with his hands but always redirect with a toy or treat. A home where the dog lives inside with the family but has access to secure fenced yard. A person or family willing to step up and be the deaf dog’s advocate. What I mean by advocate is help the dog become the best Canine Good Citizen he can be by taking the deaf dog out and socializing the dog. Also by enrolling in positive group clicker training classes (we use a visual marker instead of the sound of a clicker to mark the correct behavior) or at the very least for them to do their research on how to properly engage and train a deaf dog themselves. If you look on DeafDogsRock.com and go to our Deaf Dogs Rock Canine Good Citizen (CGC) and Therapy Dog Wall of Fame those are the kind of adoptees our friends in rescues look for when it comes to potential homes for deaf dogs.
If I already have a deaf dog and need help with general questions, can I contact you?
Yes I do get a lot of emails and I try to help as much as I can. I usually will direct a person with a problem or challenge to post their question on our Deaf Dogs Rock Facebook page because we have the most amazing Deaf Dog owner community. We have 12,000+ followers on FB and many of these deaf dog owners are very experienced and have been through years of training and raising deaf dogs. Whenever a question goes up within a couple of hours there will be anywhere from 30 to 150 comments under a particular question.
Can you describe a rescue experience that has moved you?
There are so many but one of my favorites is Indy’s Story. I got a message from one of our followers that a deaf boxer puppy had been returned to the shelter because it was deaf just after only 24 hours. I was going to list the puppy on my website but I had a FB friend who had been following DDR since day one and she had white boxers. She had mentioned a few weeks earlier she had learned all the signs and she really wanted to adopt a deaf boxer so instead of listing the puppy I sent her a text.
It was her day off and she was going to sleep in until she received my text I had the perfect deaf boxer for her but I needed her to get out of bed and drive from Ohio to Hamilton Co Indiana. Her head was spinning.
She tried getting the shelter to hold the dog for her to make the long drive but they don’t hold dogs. When I told our DDR FB followers what was going on they took it upon themselves to flood the Humane Society of Hamilton County with messages to “please hold the puppy for Vicky until she can get there”. The Humane Society’s phones were also ringing off the hook from our followers asking the staff at the shelter to hold the puppy for Vicky. One lady who lived near the shelter in Hamilton Co somehow saw what was going on and she took off work early to go “sit on the puppy” until Vicky could arrive from Ohio.
All of our followers in Australia, England, Texas and all over the country waited in anticipation for the outcome. After a few hours the shelter placed a photo on our DDR FB page and asked us to “call off our dogs” that they would indeed hold the puppy until Vicky could get there to get her new deaf puppy.
Vicky did not get home until 1am in the morning so everyone on FB had to wait for an update until the next morning. We had folks all over the world waiting on pins and needles but we had a huge FB Celebration the next morning when we all got news. We also had one of Vicki’s friends keeping us all updated throughout the day through text messaging. It was one of the most heartwarming adventures that it felt like we all went on together. You can read Indy’s Happy Tail in detail under our Deaf Dogs Rock Happy Tails section.
What are the biggest challenges your rescue center faces?
We are not a rescue center in the conventional sense of the word. We are a website which advocates for deaf dogs through education, networking, sponsoring deaf dogs, paying for neuter/spay surgeries/medical, transporting deaf dogs out of a bad situation into rescues we work with all over the country and even in Canada. Deaf Dogs Rock also provides training resources, inspiration through our Happy Tails and CGC – Therapy Dog Wall of Fame and we list deaf dogs in need of foster homes or forever homes.
What do you need most for your mission, and how can people get involved? In general, why should people adopt from a rescue?
Every community needs volunteers to either walk the dogs, go play with the dogs or even clean kennels. Most of my rescue friends put in 60 to 70 hours a day and they can only do so much. The dog need to be stimulated and given affection so they don’t go crazy being locked in a kennel until the right family comes along. If a young person can just commit to maybe 2 hours a week that makes a huge difference in a rescue dogs life while they are waiting for their forever home.We need people to consider fostering deaf dogs. Many of the rescues and shelters are over flowing with dogs so every family willing to sign up to be a foster family will save a life one dog at a time. People should consider adopting from a rescue because the only chance these dogs have is if families open their hearts and their homes to them. Deaf dogs may not be able to hear with their ears but they can certainly hear and know love through their hearts.
Do you have any upcoming events you want to share with our community?
We just got back from the National BlogPaws Conference in Tyson’s Corner, VA. Last year we won the Halo Foods Nose to Nose Social Media Award for the Best Cause Blog so we got to go back this year and we were awarded $2000 to go to our favorite Service Dog Foundation which was Saint Francis Service Dogs. Nitro and I came back and we presented the check to them today so that was very exciting. This weekend we will be at the 7th Annual Woofstock Dog Festival in Downtown Roanoke. My husband built the most amazing Deaf Dogs Rock kissing booth so we have some of our followers with well trained dogs coming into do meet and greets.
[PP: CONGRATS ON YOUR AWARD!]
If you could give pet owners one piece of advice, what would it be?
Give up your Starbucks everyday and put the money you save towards Positive Reinforcement Group Training Classes. My best advice is when you adopt a deaf (or hearing) puppy if you spend the first year of your deaf dog’s life doing consistent training and socialization, then you will have an amazing deaf dog you will be proud to take anywhere for the next 10 or 12 years.
What makes rescue so rewarding? What keeps you going?
Knowing that I can change people’s perceptions through advocacy, education and inspiration. If I can change how shelters view deaf dogs, I can buy the deaf dogs time to get a rescue or foster to make a commitment. I will never ever forget the day I saw a listing in the Philly PA Craigslist with the title “Deaf Dogs Rock” where the Philly Animal Control put an add up for a deaf pit bull which said “If you don’t believe a deaf dog rocks then just click here” and the link went back to our website. Can you imagine an animal control officer giving a deaf pit bull in Philly a chance at adoption? Somewhere someone at the AC of Philly saw our site and had an “Aha” moment. All I have to do is look into Nitro’s eyes and I know in my heart he would want me to do this for all the dogs out there just like him. My Nitro is my heart dog and deaf dogs like him deserve a chance at a happy life.
Do you have pets of your own?
Yes I have two deaf white boxers Nitro and Bud. I also have three hearing dogs Tallulah, Lexi and Bailey. I have three horses also and we live on a farm in Virginia with all of our animals.
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Would you like to experience an all-new vegan shopping experience? Do you want to buy or sell animal-friendly products? We found something you might find very interesting… forAnima.com is the place to join. This brand new concept is an animal-friendly community marketplace where animal-friendly brands can create their own stores, decide how they wish to ship their products and offer promotions. In addition to a “one-stop shop” for eco- and animal-friendly products and services, we also offer “groups” for animal lovers and vegan businesses to communicate about the green movement. forAnima is created to provide vegans with a place to virtually hang out, but also to appeal to mainstream shoppers and show that there is no need to shop in way that harms animals or the environment. The foranima.com team is a caring group of vegans who have been animal rescuers their entire lives, and animal activists for the past 10 years.
We had the great pleasure of talking to forAnima founder Sarit this week and found out what inspired her to create this exciting marketplace, why she became vegan, how she wants to make an impact on animals’ lives with forAnima.com and how you can join this platform or get involved with their mission. Listen and enjoy an entertaining and informative interview.
If you liked the interview please share it with your community or feel free to leave a comment. Thank you for making an impact! We are humans, so if you see any typos please send us an e-mail to email@example.com – Thank you!
I saw a link on a website which transferred me to another website and then another website. I lost track of what I was actual looking for, and somehow I ended up on http://www.sockdogs.com. This is one of the cutest hand crafted ideas I have seen this year. “Original Sock Dogs”… the name says it all. Artisan Stacey’s idea arose after a visit in Taiwan where she met a stray dog. In honor of this special dog. and to support her local Humane Society Organization, she started making original sock dogs from scratch.
Read our interview with Stacey, the founder of Original Sock Dogs, and see how an individual can make a difference in animals’ and people’s lives, by doing what she loves to do.
Original Sock Dogs by Stacey
Specializes In: Handmade Collectible Plush Art
Interviewee: Stacey Hsu – Kansas City, Missouri.
How and when did the idea for your business with handmade sock dogs come about?
Every year, my local shelter, the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, holds a silent and live pet-themed art auction called Art Unleashed. In the past, I donated small paintings and illustrations, but I wanted to make something different in 2005. I found a great book called, of all things, Stupid Sock Creatures (John Murphy). Instead of making “sock monsters” I decided to make sock dogs to fit with the pet-themed auctions.
What is your background as an artist?
I’ve always enjoyed writing and drawing. When I was 8, I sat in my room and practiced drawing Garfield and Snoopy day and night—mostly to impress my friends and family. I enjoyed drawing so much that I kept up with it, and eventually branched out to other art forms like sculpting, character design and animation. I have a degree in Advertising, but chose to follow a different path, and worked as an editor, producer and director at Hallmark Cards for 10 years. Now I’m taking care of my kiddos and running my own business from home. (Thank you, Etsy!)
Can you describe to us the material you use for the sock dogs, and the work that goes into making them?
They really are made of socks! (All brand new socks, I might add. I’ve been asked!) Most Original Sock Dogs’ noses are made from big black buttons—there’s just something about those big dog noses! Lately, most of the dogs I’ve been making are customs based on people’s pets. Each one is a new adventure! I learn a little about the dog before I start (personality, etc) and take a good long look at their photos. In a way, I suppose I meditate on all of that before I begin sewing. I want each custom Original Sock Dog to represent the real dog not just in appearance but also in spirit.
What do you love most about handcrafting sock dogs?
It’s so exciting to see a bunch of raw materials transform into a real character. Although the basic elements are the same on many of the sock dogs, they each take on their own shape and attitude. I can’t wait to add the finishing touches and see them spring to life.
Do you also create other animals?
I do! I’ve made seagulls, bunnies, bears and cats out of socks. I also make collectible artist bears from mohair and plush when time allows.
I checked your picture gallery on www.sockdogs.com and your etsy shop on http://www.etsy.com/shop/originalsockdogs. You are an amazing artist – every single sock dog is unique and absolutely adorable (smiling puppy faces)! I have already found my personal favorite. Do you have a favorite sock dog?
I don’t have one single favorite, but there is something really meaningful to me about the Sock Pit Bulls I make. I’ve worked with quite a few Pitties while volunteering at the shelter and they are really amazing, devoted, loving dogs. I’d like to think that I’m helping to soften their image a little, for people who fear or misunderstand the breed.
You offer many different sock dogs as well as custom dogs. If I want you to create a sock dog of my dog, what do I have to do?
To order a custom, all you need to do is visit my etsy shop, purchase a custom listing and email me photos of your dog. All customs are $85 plus shipping.
On your Facebook page people can follow your sock dogs/cats. I read you are fully booked for Christmas 2012 – and congrats! – but you can still do some of the itty pitties, right? And what are itty pitties?
Yes, I can still work in a few itty pitties! They are small (3” high) needle felted Pit Bull puppies that are posable and of course, each is one of a kind. Needle felting is a process of using a very sharp needle to poke and shape wool and other natural fibers. The end results are so cute, I don’t even mind occasionally stabbing my fingers while making them!
For a unique holiday idea, you offer gift certificates. How long does it take to finish a single custom sock dog and how much does it cost?
From start to finish, a custom can take anywhere from 4-12 hours. It depends on the complexity of the markings, the type of coat the animals has (long or short) and other distinguishing features or special requests. The time it takes to have it ready for a customer also depends on how many orders are already on the schedule—it’s first come, first served!
What is the secret of your success? Do you have any ideas, tips or advice for the next talented artist who might want to start a business like yours?
You have to love what you do. If you don’t have a huge passion for your craft, you just won’t stick with it. I have a 5 year old, a 2 year old, a husband and 4 pets that need me, and even when I’m dead tired at the end of the day, I still look forward to heading into my studio and designing and sewing the dogs. If you have a love of what you do and make, it will show in the finished product. You might also consider donating a portion of your sales to a non-profit or mission that is close to your heart. It keeps you going, knowing that you are helping someone other than yourself!
You are an animal rescue supporter, you volunteer at your local no-kill shelter, and you donate 10% of your sock dog sales to the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City. Why are volunteers important for animal shelters and what have you learned through your work at the Humane Society?
Volunteers are absolutely essential to shelters. They are the glue that holds all of the shelter efforts together. They help coordinate events, help garner donations, take dogs out for adoption days, and spend one on one time with cats and dogs that need socialization, love and affection. I started volunteering to get my “dog fix”—I didn’t have any at the time. Now I have two dogs and two cats—all from shelters. So if you decide to volunteer, get ready to fall hopelessly in love with the animals you meet.
I saw the cute Johnny Justice Sock Dogs on your Facebook Fan Page. Can you tell us a little about “Johnny Justice”?
Jonny is one of the Pit Bulls rescued from Michael Vick’s dog fighting kennels. He was adopted by a loving family and has been certified as a service dog. He has worked in libraries, helping kids learn to read, and is a goodwill ambassador for his breed.
Can you describe an experience that has particularly moved or inspired you?
During a trip to Taiwan in 2004, my husband and I came across a stray black dog with an injured front leg. She was being bullied by the other strays—chased away from food scraps, snapped at, it was awful. She basically attached herself to me and followed me around all morning. My heart seriously broke that day.
I wanted so much to just fold her in my arms and take her with me. But we were traveling by train, and not knowing the country or the language very well, I felt helpless about the situation. We bought her a warm meal at a street vendor and sat with her while she ate, to protect her from the other dogs. I cried the whole way back on the train, and for days after. I vowed to do something to help other dogs like her when we returned to the states, and that’s why I started volunteering. I’ve always loved animals, but I think that sweet girl gave my compassion levels a huge boost—ever since I’ve been dedicated to finding ways to help the animals, through sharing my time and my art.
In general, why should people adopt from a rescue?
If you are looking for a companion, someone to love who will love you back unconditionally—please adopt from a shelter. There are so many animals waiting in shelters for loving homes. And every time a dog or cat is adopted from a shelter, space opens up for another homeless animal who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to find a forever home. I also believe that shelter animals know they have been “rescued” and possess a special kind of gratitude toward their people.
If you could give pet owners one piece of advice what would it be?
Love them while they are here. Their lives are so short—never take them for granted.
Do you have pets of your own?
My two dogs, Lolly and Ava are both from the shelter where I volunteer. They are black dogs, which are very often overlooked in shelters. They are also two of the most loving, devoted, goofy, wonderful girls ever. Our two cats, also from shelters, think that they own us!
Which websites or pet-related books would you recommend to PackPeople?
I would definitely recommend that everyone check out their local shelter or rescue’s web site. Get to know what they are about, what they need, and how you can help out. There are so many ways, big and little, to pitch in and make life better for these wonderful dogs and cats. I’d also recommend taking a look at bestfriends.org and gentlebarn.org.
In terms of print publications, I am a big fan of The Bark Magazine. Great articles and a pro-rescue point of view.
Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, Diana Dors, Rita Hayworth… once posted in the lockers of G.I.s during World War II, today Pin Up Girls are taking new directions and themes. One of these exciting new directions comes from an organization I discovered a while ago. It’s Deirdre “Little Darling” Franklin’s organization, Pinups for Pitbulls, Inc., founded in 2005. I stumbled upon ‘Little Darling’s Pinups for Pitbulls’ 2013 calendar cover picture on Facebook and I loved the art work, and of course, the dogs. After browsing through the pictures and reading the mission and vision of this organization I wanted to learn more about it and contacted this terrific, creative non-profit group. They got right back to me and were pleased to participate in our ongoing series of interviews.
I have never met Deirdre in person, but can say that she is a pleasure to work with and a lovely person. She is a dedicated animal lover, an advocate with the mission to reestablish the defamed reputation of Pit Bull-type dogs as America’s premier companion animal, war hero, and therapy dog.
Pinups for Pitbulls, Inc. works to educate the public about the history and temperament of the American Pit Bull Terrier and pit bull type dogs, to raise awareness about Breed Specific Legislation and Breed-Specific abuse. Read the interview and see for yourself how Deirdre started her non-profit charity, learn about Pit Bulls, and don’t forget to order your 2013 Calendar early and support these beloved bully-breed friends. Shipping will begin at the end of this summer.
We also want to mention that Carla Lou, Deirdre’s beloved 18 year old Pit Bull (cover pic) passed away from cancer last week. RIP and thank you for your service.
How did the idea for Pinups for Pitbulls come about?
I was frustrated by all of the pit bull-type dogs that I witnessed being pulled from the streets of New Orleans/Baton Rouge post-Katrina. I was there doing animal search & rescue work with the HSUS and In Defense of Animals. I realized that since I had a great following of my Pin Up modeling work and those same people helped me raise money to pay for my flight to New Orleans to do my rescue work that I could do something with the attention I had and the faith that people had in me.
What is your background?
I have a B.A. in Film Production and Screenwriting and am nearly finished with my Masters of Science in Public Policy at Drexel University in Philadelphia. I’ve worked in various fields of employment from burlesque performances to credit counseling and foreclosure mitigation. I have an eclectic resume for sure!
What do you love most about educating people about Pitbulls?
I love watching the wheels turn in people’s minds and seeing how things start to make sense, especially for those people who truly believed the negative stereotyping. Once people understand that pit bulls are dogs and that all dogs are individuals that can only be judged by their individual behavior, it helps quickly transform the ignorant into the converted. We can’t change everyone’s minds but it is really gratifying when we can. Knowing those people are going to share the knowledge that they gained means we can get closer to removing the stigma attached to the term “pit bull.”
You and your team of dedicated volunteers and animal advocates are active in over 20 states in the U.S. What does a regular seminar organized by Pinups for Pitbulls look like?
We have only held one seminar thus far, but have been invited to speak at Law Schools in Philadelphia and New York. In the seminar that we hosted, we had Drayton Michaels (Pitbullguru.com) and Don Cleary of National Canine Research Council present. At our gala last November, we had Katie Bray (Legislative Attorney for Best Friends) and Anthony Barnett (Founder of Game Dog Guardian) present to our guests. We do our best to keep our approach positive and focused on the dogs. We are submitting our first round of grant applications so that we can bring our seminar series on the road. In the meantime, we’ll continue to speak from our table at various tattoo and comic conventions. We can reach broad spectrums of people in both arenas and have great success educating the public at both.
You also offer an annual calendar with beautiful girls and dogs, posing for a cause. Who is in this year’s calendar — and would you give us a sneak peek about your calendar for next year?
I can provide the cover image of the 2013 calendar. This year’s calendar features Pin Up girls from all over the U.S. Each year we host a contest that includes an essay and this year, we have many girls who won that contest and will be featured. Although the calendar has been shot entirely, we are still laying it out. The theme this year is the human-canine bond celebrated through the Norman Rockwell and Gil Elvgren’s styling. The calendar was shot exclusively by Celeste Giuliano Photography that included her make up and hair team, Kirsten Sylvester and Raina Frank Clarke. Our new Pin Ups are from CA, FL, NC, GA, and many other states. We are excited to have new energy on our team in these regions and beyond.
Why Pitbull-type dogs? And how would you describe the temperament of a Pitbull?
I personally had two pit bull-type dogs. One recently passed away from cancer at the age of eighteen. I’ve had her for nearly 17 of her eighteen years. Baxter Bean is my other pit bull-type dog, he’s 7 now. I never thought I’d become a pit bull advocate, I just fell in love with my own dog, the late Carla Lou and knew I’d have to defend her good name for the duration of her lifetime. Insurance companies, landlords, people of all kinds discriminate against them based on fear and media reporting, and I wanted to make sure I could keep her and her kind safe. They are our family and I know they are the family to everyone who advocates for them. They deserve to live as much as any other kind of dog.
The temperament of a “pit bull” is not an easy answer to supply. For starters, there is no such breed as a “pit bull” which is why I refer to them as pit bull-type (meaning AmStaff, American Pit Bull, and these days, shelter mix). However, most pit bull-type dogs are typically physically strong, emotionally tuned into their people, and are nurturing much like the majority of dogs out there. They just want to be loved, fed and feel secure, like any other dog (and lets be honest, just like people want as well). I would describe them as gentle, noble and devoted dogs but they are still individuals first.
What should people know before adopting a Pit Bull? Is there a “perfect candidate” to adopt a Pit Bull?
People should be aware that dogs are individuals. If they’re adopting a rescued pit bull-type dog, they are getting a mixed bag genetically, but 80% of what they will get out of their dog will be what they put in. Some are high energy and some are extremely lazy, many will be in-between. What you should have is the ability to tolerate negativity from ignorant people who will make assumptions about your dog and you will need the inner fortitude to represent your dog and others like your dog in a positive light. People need to know that all kinds of people love these dogs and all kinds of people will be positive role models. Screaming at a stranger on the street who crossed over the road because they were fearful of your dog is not going to help advance our cause.
What are the most common myths about Pit Bulls?
There is no such thing as a locking jaw. There is not truth behind the theory that pit bull-type dogs can tolerate pain more than others. There is no truth in the idea that all pit bull-type dogs will react a certain way to another dog, a person, or a bunny rabbit. Some will adore cats and others might not. Treat them as individuals and train them with positive reinforcement methods.
What do you think are the reasons that this breed is so misunderstood in the U.S.?
I know that the reason is largely due to media hype and the excitement and fear that people feel when they talk about “pit bull” stories in the media. Studies have shown that if the words “pit bull” are used in a story that the story will circulate 300 more times than if it merely says “dog” or another type of dog. It’s ridiculous and it costs almost 6000 pit bull-type dogs their lives in shelters every day.
Pit Bulls and many other innocent dogs get euthanized every day. I read that 200 Pit Bulls are killed every day in Los Angeles County alone. In your opinion, what should, or has to, change?
A lot needs to change. I can tell you that it has to be more than 200 killed per day, but perhaps not. 1 being killed a day is upsetting enough, but the amount killed each day across the U.S. is an embarrassment. I believe that No Kill is something that can be achieved and after talking to Nathan Winograd about how to achieve No Kill in my case study, I can tell you that it will take a long time and a great deal of fortitude. Dogs have a marketing issue. People do not typically think “lets go to the shelter” to find their dog, they still seek out breeders. People who do go to a shelter may have pre-conceived ideas about the types of dog they do or do not want to bring home. It certainly doesn’t help that they are singled out on many leasing contracts for renters. All of this adds up. We do a decent job on our Facebook wall to advocate daily for dogs across the country that are in need of a home. We have gotten dogs adopted weekly, nowhere near in the numbers that we would hope, but saving one does help. We are so grateful to the people who follow our page and circulate these dogs in need. We are happy to have many successful adoptions through our page, especially since we are not even a rescue.
You also collaborate with rescue groups and support pet adoption. In general, why should people adopt from a rescue?
People should adopt through a rescue or through their local shelters. We believe that supporting the people who are giving these dogs a chance is ideal for many reasons. Adopting through a rescue can allow you to get history on a dog who may have been in foster. Rescue groups will often take back a dog if the adoption does not work out. It’s hard work being in rescue or shelter work, and it’s noble work. I have the utmost respect for people who give their personal time to help advocate for all creatures.
What do you need the most for your mission — and how can people can get involved in Pinups for Pitbulls’s efforts?
We need funds and events to be hosted across the globe. Additionally, we need street team volunteers who are willing to receive a packet of fliers/info from us and post it wherever they go, especially places like coffee shops and restaurants with the ability to post information. This helps get out word out to people who might not be looking for our kind of group or who may feel helpless and really want to help support a cause, but may not know where to begin. We love when our volunteers can feel the personal satisfaction of knowing that they are affecting change, and we try to make it easy for that to happen. We’ve done all of the legwork (literally).
What kinds of things do you do to raise awareness about your organization and your work?
We have tables at tattoo and comic book conventions, we host fundraisers, and we have resources available through our website and Facebook page to help people advocate on behalf of dogs in their own time. I’ve also recently lobbied Washington, D.C. for the first time in my life and was successful in getting Representative Andrews (NJ) to co-sponsor the amendment to H.R.2492 — Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act of 2011. We are actively seeking grants to help us further our mission through hosting seminars across the nation, and eventually the globe.
If you could give pet owners one piece of advice what would it be?
Do not shock, choke, or use prong collars on your dog. Please use positive reinforcement methods and an easy walk-type harness with a martingale collar. Keep your dogs safe and never set them up to fail. Ok, that was more than one piece of advice…
Do you have pets of your own?
I just lost the love of my life and the reason I started Pinups for Pitbulls, Inc. this week. Her name was Carla Lou and she was eighteen when she passed. She was buried on Monday in a pet cemetery amongst K-9’s who died in the line of duty, WWI & WWII dogs, and more. She is in good company.
I also have a pit bull mix named Baxter Bean (7), a Harrier named Zoe (12), and a Lab/Shepherd mix named Lexi (12).
Sticky Fingers’ Sweets: 100 Super-Secret Vegan Recipes by Doron Petersan
(Doron is a “pit bull” mom, an amazing baker and is on our board)
Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love Wallace: The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls–One Flying Disc at a Time by Jim Gorant and soon to be a book about Carla Lou’s legacy
Debby Hartten has created a platform to educate and inform the public about opportunities in animal welfare and rescue: Generation Wags. I met Debby through PackPeople and I liked her unique ideas of getting people engaged in pet rescue. Debby is a dedicated animal lover, and the founder of several programs supporting animal rescue, including the education of children to get involved and take responsibility. Her motto is:
Opening doors and minds for rescues through education, awareness,
Her website contains tremendous information about projects, health, care and safety tips. We want to introduce her new business idea ‘Generation Wags’ to our online audience today, and share her thoughts regarding pet overpopulation and more.
How and when did your personal adventure with animal welfare begin?
My personal adventure with animal welfare began a few years ago, although I have had rescue dogs most of my adult life. As a real estate agent I incorporated rescue related efforts into my business through donations to rescues for transactions, along with a holiday drive Warm Hearts Happy Paws. WHHP will be entering its fourth year, and donation boxes are placed a number of pet supply stores and veterinary offices to gather needed items for numerous rescue groups in my area. Limited in what I could do as a realtor I started an online store Adore That Dog and other initiatives in the past year to make more strides. Generation Wags, my new e-zine, will hopefully serve as a place for dog and cat lovers to gain helpful information, along with learn about the issues along with fabulous efforts taking place nationwide to affect change. While there are so many challenges before us, it is encouraging and inspiring to learn about how many people are working daily to make a difference.
Your children’s program, WAGS kids, help kids make a change and learn about responsible pet ownership. How do you encourage children to make a change in animals’ lives?
I encourage children to get involved in helping in a variety of ways. My program Read For Rescues is a reading based program where kids get pledges for books they read (hopefully including some about pet rescues), and then use some/all of the money to donate to a rescue group they choose. While I sell a starter kit it is not required. I designed it so any child, anywhere can support any rescue. Read for Rescues is really a jumping off point for kids to get engaged in other ways from holding drives to collect blankets and toys to actually making toys for shelter pets or drawing pictures for shelter kennels, etc. Older kids can get involved with advocacy and even think about careers related to animal rights and more.
You also offer opportunities to companies to become a corporate WAGS Paw Pal. Tell us a little more about it.
My Wags Paw Pal program is a way to encourage companies to take even small steps to help support rescues. Most companies have staff who are pet owners, but most don’t give a second thought about how they can help improve the future of rescues. Companies can use this to their advantage to create team building activities such as volunteering for rescues, having donation drives in the office, adding rescue messaging to their email signatures, dedicating holiday parties to raise funds for rescues, or even have matching sustaining donations to rescues.
In general, why should people adopt from a rescue and what are the benefits?
The benefits of adopting a rescue are phenomenal! What better feeling is there than to give a loving home to animal that, through no fault of its own, is homeless. What most people don’t realize is that even if you are seeking a puppy, or a purebred, you can still find a rescue that matches what you are looking for, although you need to be patient finding the right one. And also people need to be aware that shelters and rescue groups have different adoption rules, so find one that works for you! But find one.
Can you share your thoughts on pet overpopulation in the U.S., and euthanasia?
Education is the key to getting control on overpopulation. Spay and neuter is essential, and we must find a way to get that message to communities and governmental bodies to help tackle this issue. Unfortunately, many areas where overpopulation is of the greatest concern are ones that are not finding humanitarian ways of dealing with the strays and surrendered pets. Many people don’t realize that gas chambers for example are still being used in areas to put animals to death. And that there are shelters that have one way tickets in. We can do better and we must! Euthanasia I believe is an unfortunate reality but should only be used in circumstances where an animal is dangerous and can’t be rehabilitated, or instances of injury or severe illness. It should not be a form of population control. There are regions in our nation that actually have a shortage of rescue pets for adoption. While there are issues to be overcome, we must find a way to work on a national level to get rescues in need of homes to those who are open to adopting them.
If you could give pet owners one piece of advice what would it be?
Realize that pet ownership is a big responsibility, but well worth it. Respect the life that you have taken into your home, add love and nurturing. You won’t regret it!
What is your personal goal?
To make a real difference in helping to raise awareness about the issues leading to homeless and abused pets and get people ENGAGED in creating change. Even as a lifetime dog owner I wasn’t fully aware of them myself. We need to get creative in tackling the problems. So much is being done, but so much more must take place. I believe we are seeing positive momentum of rescues groups becoming more organized and coordinated in their efforts which will go a long way.
Do you have pets of your own?
I have a rescue mixed breed dog (of course), and a purebred Pomeranian that my daughter purchased after a run of having several older rescues that had major health conditions that we had lost over time. A rescue will always be part of my life.
Pilots N Paws is a non-profit organization founded in 2008 by animal lover Debi Boies and pilot Jon Wehrenberg, an online platform created to provide free plane transport for shelter and foster animals and rescue organizations – served by volunteer pilots. I remember last year when I was looking desperately for safe transportation for our little kitty “Thursday”, now “Luna”; her new family was in Florida and we were in Los Angeles. It was not an easy task to get Luna safely to her new family, but we were able to organize her transport by car. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about the great services of Pilots N Paws at that time, and it took Luna 3 days to reach her family (read Luna’s story).
I heard of Pilots N Paws from a rescue friend and was thrilled that a non-profit organization was offering this free service of transporting animals by plane. I browsed through the website’s blog, stories and pictures and spent an hour looking at them and reading the happy stories. Pictures really do tell the story!
If you are looking for an opportunity to get your pooch, kitty, rabbit or piggy from one destination to another and don’t know how, you should visit Pilotsnpaws.org and request a flight (no long-distance flights). Today, a dedicated formation of 2466 pilots volunteer their time and donate free flights for Pilots N Paws furry or non-furry pawssengers. Animals can experience safe, fast and comfortable travel with experienced pilots. Flights are not scheduled, and there are no costs involved:) for participating groups.
Debi Boies and Pilots N Paws have received honors and awards from all over the country, including the Broadway Barks Award/Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore, the American Dog Magazine’s 1st Annual Humanitarian Award, the Pets and Heroes award from the Amazing Grace Foundation and many more. She is listed as one of the top “25 Pet People of 2010” at Petside.com.
We had the great pleasure of talking to Debi, Co-Founder and President of Pilots N Paws and finding out more about this wonderful organization. Debi is the winner of the Pet Hero Award 2012 and her organization is Rescue Organization of the Year. Congratulations!
Please listen, learn and share how you can benefit from Pilots N Paws’s services, how you can join the organization, how you can request a flight and how the organization makes an impact on the plight of homeless animals. Debi also shared with us her special moments, and why she founded Pilots N Paws. Kudos to all volunteers, Debi and her team for their wonderful efforts!
We have 2 beautiful brindle Greyhounds in our building and every time I meet them I catch myself staring at these majestic-looking gentle dogs. I know that one of them is a veteran female race dog and I just love her; the other one is our neighbor’s dog on the same floor. Tall and slim, with deep chests and the walk of a proud aristocrat, greyhounds are known to be calm and relaxed. They make very well-mannered and loving family dogs. Modern Greyhounds are descendants of an ancient identifiable breed that goes back to the Egyptians and Celts. While they love physical activity and love running, they are unfortunately exploited in an industry for human profit and abused for dog racing.
How did I meet Christine from GREY2K USA? We started a petition a while ago on change.org and one of Christine’s petitions popped up on my news feed. She is collecting signatures for different petitions including an end to dog racing. At that time it was her goal to encourage people to sign her petition to boycott Skechers for promoting dog racing during the Super Bowl. Sketchers filmed a commercial at Tucson Greyhound Park showing greyhounds racing (and losing) against a smaller dog wearing the company’s shoes. I signed her petition, along with 125,000 other caring animal advocates.
I connected with Christine, the co-founder, president and general counsel of GREY2K USA and wanted to learn more about her work and organization. GREY2K USA is the largest greyhound protection organization in the United States. As a non-profit organization, they work hard to pass stronger greyhound protection laws and to end the cruelty of dog racing on both national and international levels. They also promote the rescue, rehoming and adoption of wonderful greyhounds across the globe, but they do not have a shelter facility or adoption center. (If you are interested in adopting a greyhound please see the links at the bottom of this article.)
Christine A. Dorchak’s dedicated work has made a tremendous change and we are honored to share her interview with our audience. As a passionate animal advocate we all have to know more about this cruelty to greyhounds – and we have to raise awareness. Please take 10 minutes and read Christine’s highly informative and eye-opening interview; also please share, network and support the work of GREY2K USA to make a positive change. ~ Thank you.
How and when did your personal adventure in animal advocacy begin?
I have always cared about animals and grew up loving the natural world. This love was fostered by my mother, who always taught me to respect nature. As a child, I loved the squirrels, the chipmunks, the birds, the snails and all the animals around me! Then, when my parents allowed us to adopt two beagles – a boy and a girl – whom my brother and I found running lost around our neighborhood, I got my first experience with “rescue.”
After college, I began reading about the animal protection movement in earnest. I collected aluminum cans and donated the proceeds to my local shelter. I gave direct donations as I could. It was clear that my love for animals was still very important. But then in 1992, my world changed forever. While on a walk with my dog Kelsey early one morning, we were struck by a speeding trolley. I suffered severe injuries to my head, neck and back, crushed my spleen and could not walk. My poor dog had broken her hip trying to pull me to safety.
When I finally came out of my coma, and realized what had happened to us, my first words were “How’s Kelsey?” All I could think about was the dog who had saved my life … I vowed that if I ever got up again, I would devote my life to helping dogs. I would make a difference. But how?
I finally got my answer when I learned of a campaign to end dog racing in Massachusetts. I became an animal attorney to better understand the process, and for the next ten years, I would find myself living and breathing the local and then the worldwide effort to save greyhounds.
You can see a video about our experience on the GREY2K USA bio page here.
After my accident and following several years of difficult recovery, I began volunteering for organizations like the Doris Day Animal League, In Defense of Animals and others. I worked at shelters, attended rallies, distributed pamphlets on vivisection, hunting, rodeos, circuses and more. I even did some radio interviews and started my own cable access show called Animal Agenda. Then, the greyhounds became my focus when I realized that their fight was one that could be won legislatively. I could see that there was a clear pathway for them, and that they were just one successful ballot question away from getting the second chance they needed. The idea that everyday people could actually make laws – that we had the power to effect change just by voting – really appealed to me.
Unfortunately, the first Massachusetts campaign for the greyhounds failed at the ballot box 49 to 51, and was one of closest voter questions in state history. The greyhounds set another record that year, but not a good one! That was in 2000. With an eye to writing a new ballot question and figure out how to create a stronger campaign, I decided to become a lawyer. This would never have been possible unless good fortune had smiled on me. I was awarded a full scholarship to attend the New England School of Law in 2001. Since I had no money, this was the only way I could ever have succeeded. Ironically, my tuition was paid for by a local track owner who happened to be on the board of the school. (How grateful I was that he did not learn of this until the night before graduation!)
That summer, I sat right down and drafted the Greyhound Protection Act. This became the ballot language which prohibited dog racing in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2008. The question passed and the greyhounds had won!
You are working hard to pass stronger greyhound protection laws and to end the cruelty of dog racing. Can you explain to us why dog racing is cruel and how greyhounds became racing dogs?
Greyhound racing is simply cruel and inhumane and causes thousands of dogs to suffer each year. Racing greyhounds endure lives of nearly constant confinement, kept in stacked cages barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around. While racing, many dogs suffer and die from injuries including broken legs, paralysis, cardiac arrest and heat stroke. Additionally, many greyhounds are destroyed every year, because the number of dogs retiring from racing always exceeds the number of adoptive homes.
Beyond the industry standards of confinement, injuries and fatalities, and the killing of young, healthy dogs, the industry has a fundamental problem of perspective: In the eyes if racetrack promoters, dogs are merely short-term investments. Even the fastest dogs only race for a few years, and are expected to generate enough profit during that time to make up for the cost of their food and housing. The pressure to generate profits can lead to negligent care and outright cruelty such as the use of drugs to alter a dog’s performance.
Another essential problem with dog racing is that thousands of dogs are overbred every year in an effort to find younger, faster dogs. The older ones are then displaced, and their very lives put in immediate jeopardy. Will they be rescued or will they be destroyed? The lucky ones who do reach adoption will then displace other needy animals (cats, dogs, rabbits, etc) also seeking homes. In this significant way, the racing industry aggravates a homeless animal population which is already overwhelming and immensely sad. I believe that best answer is to get to the root of the problem and end dog racing as quickly as possible.
The pastime of dog racing began in the early part of the Twentieth Century with the invention of the mechanical lure. Illegal “flapper” tracks began springing up all across the country. At one time, there were at least sixty-five facilities from West Coast to East. Ironically, California was the birthplace of the industry, but it also became the first state to shut its dog tracks down. At the same time, other states like Florida, then Oregon and Massachusetts, worked to legalize the activity. The first state approved, pari-mutuel dog track opened in Hialeah, Florida in 1931. No one foresaw the direct cruelty that would result nor could anyone envision the problems of companion animal overpopulation that were soon to develop.
Pari-mutuel wagering is a system in which people bet among each other, and the winners of a given race each share a percentage of the total pot. The host state and the dog track owners also take a share, as do the owners of the dogs. There is something in this system for everyone – except the dogs, of course.
GREY2K USA was the first organization to successfully outlaw dog racing. Since your formation, twenty-six tracks all across the country have closed for live racing. What needs to be done to protect greyhounds and why is it still legal in some states?
The mission of GREY2K USA will not be complete until dog racing ends everywhere. As a non-profit 501(c)4 organization, we work to pass stronger greyhound protection laws and to end the cruelty of dog racing on both national and international levels. Primarily through our 501(c)3 sister organization, the GREY2K USA Education Fund, we promote the rescue, rehoming and adoption of greyhounds across the globe. Giving the greyhounds their second chance is job #1 for both organizations!
At the present time, there remain twenty-two operational dog tracks in seven states. When we first formed in 2001, there were nearly fifty tracks in fifteen states, so we have truly cut the industry in half. Additionally, the number of greyhounds bred into the industry has also been halved over these last ten years. The outlook is very good that greyhounds will soon be dogs again – just dogs, and not commodities as they are in the racing world.
Meanwhile, we are actively working to block the expansion of dog racing into other countries. In 2010, I helped draft the language that made betting on dog races illegal in Guam. That same year, South African officials listened to our testimony and that of other advocates around the globe and refused to legalize the activity as well. Currently, we are working with ANIMA in Macau to shut down the track there, which is called the Canidrome.
A lot of people are passionate about animal welfare, yet not in a political way. Can you share why you think that it is important to have a political stance to make a change?
In a word, greyhounds ARE political animals. Dog racing, unlike most other cruelties that non-human animals suffer, is a state-regulated activity. No one “regulates” dog fighting or horse tripping for example, but the state plays an active role in dog racing. This is because, at least initially, government profited by it. In the early days of dog racing, betting and wagering on live racing generated tax revenues because each host state shared in the winnings. Nowadays, revenues are so diminished that in some cases, states are actually paying for dog racing. In other words, the costs of regulation actually exceed the taxes paid. This is the case in Florida, where state records show nearly a 100% decline in the “handle” or amount of money bet on live races.
Could you give examples of laws you’ve helped establish – and tell us how long it takes to enact a law?
The first bill I helped draft was the statute requiring dog tracks in Massachusetts to begin reporting on the number of injuries suffered by greyhounds, and also to document their fate after racing. The bill also mandated the creation of the first state-sponsored adoption fund, which was truly ground-breaking. Since we had lost our first attempt to prohibit dog racing on the ballot, we wanted to make sure that the dogs would at least be better protected.
The reporting law was truly the beginning of the end of dog racing because it established a solid record of cruelty. It was this record that became the basis for our successful legal case to end dog racing via the ballot initiative process. During the campaign, I’d walk around with a stack of injury and death reports and ask voters, “Would you treat your dog like this?”
I went on to draft successful legislation to restore greyhounds to the anti-cruelty statute of New Hampshire, to strip the three tracks there of millions of dollars in subsidies, to “decouple” or remove the state mandate requiring tracks to host live racing, and then finally, we passed legislation to end dog racing in the Granite State altogether. This is one example of the many steps it takes to help the greyhounds!
Similarly, I have drafted legislation to end dog racing in other states, including Rhode Island, Florida and also (as previously stated) the US Territory of Guam. It took six years to end dog racing in Rhode Island, and while we were able to pass into law better legal protections for Florida dogs, the bill to ban has yet to be passed. In Arizona, we also continue to work on a prohibition. This year we worked with the track to pass a decoupling measure, and hopefully, next session we will see a complete end to dog racing. Every legislative session brings new hope!
From your perspective, which laws are the most needed at the moment?
The end to dog racing cannot come soon enough!
What are your biggest obstacles?
According to state records, thousands of dogs are seriously injured each year at commercial racetracks, including dogs that suffer broken legs, cardiac arrest, spinal cord paralysis and broken necks. As long as dog racing continues, greyhounds will suffer. The thought that a dog may go down and break his neck at any makes me very sad and frustrated. But it also motivates me to keep working until this cruelty ends everywhere.
What are your next steps? On what project are you currently working?
Our next steps involve writing and passing legislation to end dog racing in the seven remaining states where it yet exists: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Texas and West Virginia. We will also continue to network with groups in other countries to aid in their fight against dog racing. At the present time, we coordinate with Animals Asia, Animals Australia, GreytExploitations (UK), and the NSPCA(South Africa).
Meanwhile, we are also actively working with ANIMA in Macau to shut down the track there. The Canidrome is the only Chinese dog track, and all the dogs are eventually put to death. There is no adoption program and hundreds of greyhounds die each year. One of these dogs is named Brooklyn. Read Brooklyn’s story here.
Of course, our legislative campaigns in the US revolve around the formal state house sessions, and at this point, lawmakers are in recess. So are emphasis right now is on public outreach and community education. Believe it or not, at one time, greyhound racing was considered a fun pastime. Only in the past several decades, thanks to increased education, have most people come to realize that dog racing is a losing proposition for the greyhounds involved. Even dogs that are released by their owners may be burdened for life with injuries and socialization issues resulting from their time at the track.
Our Greyhounds in the Classroom project (through the GREY2K USA Education Fund) is helping to make sure that kids know that greyhounds are family friends, and not racing machines. They belong in homes not cages. When kids meet our rescued greyhounds, they know this to be true. Greyhounds are their own best advocates! Learn more at www.grey2kusaedu.org/education/classroom.html
Similarly, the Education Fund is now running a greyhound adoption campaign on all trolleys in the city of Naples. With thirteen operting facilities, Florida is home to more dog tracks than all of the other six states combined — so there is a great need for promoting the adoption of ex-racers. We also hope to place digital bullletin boards in ten key cities across the state by this Fall, but full funding is still needed.
How can someone adopt a greyhound?
No matter where you are, a needy greyhound is waiting close by! We offer a referral list on both of our web sites along with a Q & A about adoption. What may surprise many to learn is that greyhounds are some of the quietest dogs of all – they rarely bark – and what they like to do best is sleep. Greyhounds are commonly called 45-mile-per-hour couch potatoes, and for good reason. When you adopt a rescued greyhound, you not only save a life but you will also bring home a wonderful family friend. Learn more here.
Do you need volunteers? How can people help GREY2K USA and the greyhounds?
The easist thing to do is to sign up for action alerts from the GREY2K USA homepage. You will then start receiving petitions to sign online, information on campaigns, and requests to help pass legislation by calling lawmakers at key times. You will also receive information on how to participate in our “Governors Initiative” and other letterwriting programs. Of couse, donations are also needed but we also like to inject a little fun by hosting auctions and fundraising contests throughout the year. Helping greyhounds is really a “greyt” thing to do! Sign up here and start today!
What would you say is your personal goal?
I would like all greyhounds to get a second chance, like my own dog, Zoe. She is a ten-year-old brindle girl with a bit of a limp but I love her dearly!
GREY2K USA is committed to ending dog racing and we will keep lobbying and educating until greyhounds become just dogs again, to be loved and treated like the family friends we know them to be. Someone once said ‘Race cars, not dogs.” I heartily agree!
As you know, adoption is the key! If you want to adopt a greyhound please visit Adopt-a-Greyhound.org or click here and see a list of rescue groups. Many beautiful purebred dogs are waiting for a home.
This year I told the story of a young man who got bitten on a playground area for dogs. He was ignoring the signs the dog showed him – and got bitten in his face. 133,683 people, including kids, were bitten in the US in 2001. What are the reasons, and what are we doing wrong? I was doing research and found Doggone Safe’s terrific website. After exploring the site, I wanted to know more about its programs and the organization itself, which was founded by Teresa Lewin and Joan Orr in 1998. Education is key to preventing dog bites!
Doggone Safe is a non-profit organization with offices in Canada the US, functioning worldwide, and providing the public with resources, guidance and information to prevent dog bites, ensure child safety around dogs and provide support for dog bite victims. Doggone Safe educated 16.000 children about dog bite prevention last year, and continues its wonderful work in educating the public.
We had the great pleasure of speaking with a passionate and dedicated advocate, Teresa Lewin. We talked about how she began her journey with this cause, about the importance of understanding the body language of dogs, and the valuable programs and events offered by Doggone Safe. And by the way: it’s International Dog Bite Prevention Challenge Month!
Also please download the flyer ‘Talk Dog’ here (provided by the Liam J. Perk Foundation) and pass it around to friends, parents, kids and your community to educate and prevent dog bites. Thank you!
About the interviewee:
Teresa Lewin has had a lifelong interest in animal behavior. While other kids were riding their bikes and playing hopscotch Teresa was training dogs and horses. She has over 20 years experience in the field of animal behavior and training. Teresa has attended many lectures, seminars and university courses and was mentored through her education by Dr Ed Bailey, noted Canadian animal behaviorist. She has trained puppies, pet dogs, tracking dogs, protection dogs and service dogs. In her consulting practice Teresa specializes in rehabilitating problem dogs, particularly those with aggression and anxiety issues. Teresa has been a guest lecturer at several colleges and at the University of Guelph and her articles have appeared in the CAPPDT and ADPT newsletters.