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Toni Eakes and the truth about A wish for Animals rescue

Hello dear animal lovers and friends,

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.

  1. 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

  2. Toni Eake’s facility is actually located at 5930 jasmine St in Riverside. Its a hell hole.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.
  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

Please leave a comment! Thank you very much.

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Why Deaf Dogs Rock – Interview with founder Christina Lee

Deaf Dogs Rock Logo

‘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?

Nitro 1

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.

739987_10200557651090032_1879114279_o-001What 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. DSC_0011

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.

Do you want to share websites and links with PackPeople?

If folks are thinking about adopting a deaf dog they can view our adoptable deaf dogs here: http://deafdogsrock.com/category/available-dogs

hear-with-heartsWebsite: http://deafdogsrock.com

Twitter: Deaf Dogs Rock

Facebook: Deaf Dogs Rock

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 info@packpeople.com – Thank you!

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Rescued animals fly on the wings of love – Interview with Debi from Pilots N Paws [Audio]

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.

I’m flying home!

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!

You want to know more? The new book Dog Is My Copilot: Rescue Tales of Flying Dogs, Second Chances, and the Hero Who Might Live Next Door just arrived at the bookstore.

Greyhound Janine is flying high.

Pilots N Paws is able to continue their terrific work through the help and support of their fantastic sponsors, Subaru and Petmate.

Take your time, visit and like Pilots N Paws’s Facebook Fan page and blog, read the stories, have a look at the pictures, read the guidelines and resources. I promise it’s worth it:)

Website: www.pilotsnpaws.org

Twitter: PilotsNPaws

YouTube Channel: PilotsNPaws

If you liked the interview please share it with your community or feel free to leave a comment. Thank you for making an impact!

If you see any typos please send us an e-mail to info@packpeople.com – Thank you!

Related posts: We also interviewed Pet Airways last year.

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Protect Greyhounds – End Dog Racing! Interview with Christine from GREY2K USA

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.

Christine Dorchak and her dog ZOE lobbying at state house

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.

Why greyhounds?

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!

Injured greyhound in cage

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?

CHRISTINE AND ZOE IN OFFICE (SEPTEMBER 2011)

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!

*****

Kahlua is an adult greyhound for adoption at Southern California Greyhound Adoption; http://www.socalgal.org

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.

 

GREY2K USA’s website: www.grey2kusa.org

GREY2K USA educational platform: www.grey2kusaedu.org to join our team and check out the links to groups all over the world who have joined together to end the cruelty of dog racing.

Twitter: @GREY2KUSA

Facebook: GREY2KUSA

YouTube Channel: GREY2K USA

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How you can prevent dog bites – Interview with Teresa from Doggone Safe [Audio]

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 teaching children in school

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!

Teresa recommends following books and links:

How To Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication By Stanley Coren

For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend

Living with Kids and Dogs…Without Losing Your Mind

DogGone Crazy – http://doggonecrazy.ca

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.

Doggone Safe’s website: http://doggonesafe.com

Facebook: DoggoneSafe

YouTube Video about Dog Body Language:

If you liked the interview please share it with your community or feel free to leave a comment. Thank you for making an impact!

If you see any typos please send us an e-mail to info@packpeople.com – Thank you!

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What Shelter Revolution means – Interview with Thomas Cole [Audio]

Every time I’ve visited or volunteered at one of my favorite shelters/rescues, I leave feeling sorry for the dogs, sitting in their cold concrete runs behind steel bars. Looking at you, waiting to be taken out for a walk or to be patted. Dogs and cats kept in cages, barking and whining to get your attention and a little affection.

If you have ever visited a shelter or kennel facility you know what I mean. I have seen some ugly stuff and heard some ugly stories, but it always touches me; even I pretend to be tough. Most of the visits are heartbreaking. Visits to L.A. shelters are even worse knowing that most of these dogs and cats will get killed if they’re not adopted. I remember my first visit exactly, when one of the volunteer staff said: “After a few months, you get used to it.” I never got used to it.

Thomas wants an adoption center like this

Thomas Cole reached out to us a couple of weeks ago and wanted to share his new and innovative model of a communal open living area for dogs and cats.  A new adoption center concept – no cages, no isolated cats and dogs, no runs, no stressed dogs and cats. Sounds great, right? That’s what every animal lover wants to see. A peaceful environment where dogs and cats live together until they get adopted. When we heard about this new model and visited the shelter revolution’s website, my grandparents’ farm came to mind. We wanted to learn more about it.

We had the great pleasure of talking to Thomas Cole of Shelter Revolution, an expert, an animal advocate, a person who is dedicated to educating and changing the current sheltering model of homeless pets in the U.S. We talked about the pros and cons, we learned how shelters operate and how easy it is to implement this new innovative model.

Shelter Revolution by PackPeople NEW: We’ve made it even easier to listen to our audio interviews! This audio is 31.16 minutes of highly interesting and educational content. Use the little flags in the blue bar in the SoundCloud Player to navigate through the questions and content. Get this interview as a Podcast here.

Tom & Kula At Cub Foods

About the interviewee: ” I’m not trying to “reform” our nation’s animal shelters. I leave that to others. I believe a whole new model, a paradigm shift, is needed. Where laws and reform efforts focus on the bad guys, my Adoption Center model will appeal to the good guys. This new model will make far more impact than any laws ever can.” 

Thomas Cole is the Executive Director at Shelter Revolution and a Dog Rehabilitation Specialist at Dr Doolittle’s Safe Haven. He ran a large shelter & sanctuary with animal control contract and worked with farm, domestic and wild animals. As a visionary he is working hard to improve the animal shelter industry. Introducing new Adoption Center model to replace antiquated and failed shelter models. He is also dedicated to bring rescue groups and shelter togethers to end shelter killing through the rehabilitation of sheltered animals with behavior issues.

Memphis - New Facility (Filthy Cage)(Feb 28, '12
Fancy but isolated

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas’s recommendations:

Websites:
•  Cat House On The Kings (California)
•  Spirit Animal Sanctuary (New York)
•  Olympic Animal Sanctuary (Washington)

Shelter Revolution Videos:
•  Our Adoption Center model
•  Shelters as prisons
•  Progress? Where are we today?
•  “Boutique” shelters
•  “Big Four” Video

•  Austin’s “State of The Art” $12mm prison facility

Shelter Revolution

Web: http://www.shelterrevolution.org

Facebook: Shelter Revolution

Thomas Cole’s Blog: http://www.arc-na.org

Spreading the word can help save lives! If you liked the interview please share it with your community or feel free to leave a comment. Thank you for making an impact!

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Kids get involved! – PEP's new program is looking for little stars [Video]

Event today – News at PEP: Erica Callais is the founder of the Pet education project in Shreveport, Louisiana, a non-profit organization dedicated  teaching kids ins & outs of responsible pet ownership.

Each month children who have made a positive impact on the lives of animals in their community or pets in their home are nominated. Winners of this award are granted a special PEP! prize package and will be featured on the Pet Education Project’s website.

Take 6 minutes to watch the news in her latest video chat with Rufino. Learn about the PEP-Squad, PEP’s upcoming events and news.

Show your support and LIKE PEP on Facebook. Meet the PEP Squad now! You want to learn more about PEP? Check our full interview with Erica.

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Saving hundreds of stray animals’ lives in Romania – Interview with The Nature Association [Video]

Today we’re going out of the country – we’re even leaving the continent – to talk to a great non-profit organization in Romania, The Nature Association. Founded in 2002 by Carmen Milobendzchi and Roxana Macoviciuc, this organization is dedicated to helping and saving stray animals by providing food, shelter and medical care for over 350 dogs and 60 cats in their shelter facility in Bucharest. Home to approximately between 100,000 to 1 million stray dogs. Every year, Bucharest sees thousands of these defenseless animals killed by cars, poisoned, dead of hunger, or frozen to death.

Funded solely by donations, this no-kill organization really needs our help and support. The shelter offers food, water, vaccines, and emergency medical treatment and is in need of monetary support and heightened awareness to provide the services mentioned, as well as to continue building the shelter facility.

Facing the power of nature, a very hard winter has hit Europe these days, and the tremendous amount of snow and cold weather makes the work of  The Nature Association’s volunteers and members extremely difficult.

We recently published an article about Oscar, a street dog of Istanbul and want to share with you this video interview with 2 very passionate young people who decided to volunteer and support The Nature Association after finishing their education in Canada. We had the great pleasure of video chatting with Milena and Mihai in Bucharest, and we talked about their daily challenges, how they help abandoned and stray dogs, and what they need the most for their mission.

Please visit The Nature Association’s Facebook Fan page and also take a look at the pictures in the Winter at the Shelter album: consider donating to their organization. Bucharest’s dogs and cats will thank you. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Milena and Mihai recommend to visit following websites:
Dogs Trust  – www.dogstrust.org.uk
Dogs Adoption Netherlands –  http://www.dogsadoptionsnederland.nl – Here you can see all adoptable dogs of the organization.

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At-risk teens, shelter dogs help each other – Interview with Flo from K9 Connection [Video]

A friend of mine told me that his cousin currently takes part in a 3-month program in Philadelphia where teenagers learn to overcome certain fears or work on aggressive behavioral issues – by working with shelter dogs. This piqued my interest: I know that animals are used in special therapy and training programs with children and young people, and are very successful.

The story of his cousin motivated me to look for programs where teenagers and dogs have the chance to work together and benefit from each other, and I found K9 Connection, a 501(c)(3) project of OPCC in Santa Monica, CA. It’s an experience-based program which educates and inspires at-risk teens through bonding with and training homeless shelter dogs in basic obedience and developing the skills to become adoptable.

We had the great pleasure of video chatting with Flo Stueck, Project Manager at K9 Connection. Flo introduced us to her organization’s work and answered questions including: Who can apply for K9 Connection’s services and who are considered at-risk teens? What are the key topics students learn? What kinds of things do they do to raise awareness about their organization? Flo also shared with us some of the more challenging aspects of her job and their upcoming events.

About the interviewee: Flo volunteered at The Pasadena Humane Society with their mobile adoption team socializing the animals, and has also worked with Labrador Rescue and The San Francisco Humane society in the Bay area.

She has run two companies that focus on safely shipping animals throughout the globe, and owned a dog walking and pet shipping consulting business in New York City. Currently she volunteers with WLA Animal Services. A few years ago she moved to Venice and rescued Dunkin, a black Labrador/Golden Retriever. Dunkin is CGC certified and in training to be a therapy dog as well!

Flo recommends:

Visiting the k9 connection “Links” page to find important resources including:

West Side German Shepherd Rescue www.wgsr.org

Los Angeles Animal Services www.laanimalservices.com

K9 Connection

Web: http://www.k9connection.org

Facebook: k9 connection

Twitter: @k9connect

We also interviewed Erica from PEP last year – her organization visits schools and teaches lessons about responsible pet owner ship.

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When Artists Come Together to Let HeARTs Speak – Interview with Lisa [Audio]

We’ve all seen some unflattering pictures of dogs and cats taken by animal shelter staff members, in a hurry and with no patience. An ugly blue concrete background and a frightened dog on a slip leash tied to a wall. Not very appealing, right? Sometimes there are no detailed descriptions, or any other pictures, provided by the rescues or shelters; and isn’t the picture of a pet the first impression that makes us move and react? I’ve seen pictures where you can barely identify a dog, much less a breed.

Rufino and I are design/art enthusiasts and we are very happy that we have found HeARTs Speak last year through the website The Unexpected Pit Bull and we loved the work they are doing.  A non-profit organization founded by Lisa Prince Fishler, located in Millbrook, New York, HeARTs Speak is designed to connect rescues/shelters with artists with the intention of breaking down the myth that animals from rescues and shelters are inferior.

When artists come together

HeARTs Speak brings artists together to promote deeper understanding for voiceless animals. How they do that? By taking outstanding pictures: Professional photographs dedicate time, passion and donate photo sessions to homeless pets in an effort to help the dogs communicate their amazing personalities through photographs that in turn, might help them find their forever homes.

We had the great pleasure of  talking to Lisa Prince Fishler, MA, the Founder & Director of HeARTs Speak. We talked about her background, how she came up with the idea to create this beautiful organization and why she believes in the positive impact of animals in human lives. Please listen – and share – to raise awareness about Lisa’s work and her group of caring artists. Also, please check out the website with all of its incredible pictures.

HeARTs Speak – Interview with Lisa Prince Fishler by PackPeople NEW: We’ve made it even easier to listen to our audio interviews! This audio is 28.55 minutes of highly interesting, entertaining as educational content. Use the little flags in the blue bar in the SoundCloud Player to navigate through the questions and content. Get this interview as a Podcast here.

Do you see the difference? A before and after picture of HOPE by Jenny Froh
Lisa and her soul dog Ignatius Bodhi Sattva (aka Iggy) - Photo credit; Hudson River Photographer - Printz Photography

About the interviewee: Lisa Prince Fishler is a nationally published photographer, located in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley. She is a photographer of, and an advocate for, animals, animal rescue and adoption and serves Dutchess County, Putnam, Ulster, Westchester, Columbia and Greene counties.

She lives with her husband, 3 children, 3 dogs, 3 cats, 3 goats, 20 chickens, 20 guinea hens and 1 cockatiel on a 6 acre organic farm in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley.

Lisa’s recommendations: 

Red Dog (2011 film) – Based on the legendary true story of the Red Dog who united a disparate local community while roaming the Australian outback in search of his long lost master.

Every Dog Has a Gift: True Stories of Dogs Who Bring Hope & Healing into Our Lives by Rachel McPherson

Love Like a Dog by Anne Calcagno

HeARTs Speak

Web: http://heartsspeak.org

Facebook: HeARTs Speak 

Twitter: @HeARTsSpeakOrg

Printz Photography – http://printzphotography.com

Spreading the word can help save lives! If you liked the interview please share it with your community or feel free to leave a comment. Thank you for making an impact!

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