Guest article by Julie Stack ~ Thank you for submitting
I always look forward to the Womens’ Olympic gymnastics sports competitions. The Olympic gymnasts are mesmerizing to watch as they tackle each apparatus with such grace, artistic ability, strength, and flexibility. A gymnast must have complete focus, strength and coordination to perform well, especially on the balance beam. As I watched the Olympics this year, I wondered if there are similarities between gymnastics and the world of dog training. For one, it takes time to learn and practice whether you’re a dog trainer or giving that dazzling gymnastic performance.
I have always been in awe of the balance beam, since it requires not just technical ability, but strength and timing can make or break you. Consider the careful steps one must take and the timing it takes to always land on the balance beam after each back walkover or giant leap in the air; if you misjudge the distance, you will fall. As I train with the shelter dogs, I often think about that fine line one must walk with the dogs and its similarity to a gymnast walking on the balance beam. Just as with gymnastics, you need to hit that mark each time or deliver your dog treat on time when teaching a dog “sit” or “down” so that the dog understands the association. In gymnastics the goal is to always stay on the balance beam without losing balance, and in dog training you need to keep your balance also, and stay focused on your dog so he does not get distracted. Becoming a world class gymnast requires rigorous training hours and discipline to achieve Olympic dreams. Dog training also requires discipline and focus and trying to help the dog you are working with achieve greatness, so they have a stronger chance to be adopted or make progress during training classes.
Several active star canine athletes are Prince and BeeBee at the Washington Humane Society. They are roommates also, and I really enjoy their company when I volunteer. BeeBee has a beautiful brindle coat, and is definitely the one who wants to be taken out first, and she is very confident and wants to go out in the yard to work on training or run around with her friend Prince. BeeBee is a whirlwind, and if she were a person, she would be a world traveler! She has very attentive sits that would score her a perfect score in the Olympic games!
The other great guy, Prince is very charming, and has a warm presence, he looks to you for confidence and is polite and really wants to be a part of your home!
Please consider fostering or adopting Prince or BeeBee. They are located at Washington Humane Society www.washhumane.org , 1201 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC, 20002. If you would like to do anything extra to help Prince or BeeBee, please contact Danielle Bays at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is just one example of many, why U.S. shelter systems suck: on Thursday last week I called the East Valley Animal Shelter in Van Nuys to receive more information about one specific dog. I saw a Mastiff, a massive, super sweet-looking dog on the shelter’s website who reminded me of my own dog Samson. Every week I promote a different dog on our Facebook fan page and was looking for a new doggie, when I saw this Mastiff named BOBO.
Owners had surrendered him after 9 years of companionship. I cross-posted his picture on Facebook, tweeted and asked friends for help the same day. After I walked my dogs I called the shelter with my ID number and the dog’s name ready and talked to a woman on the phone after waiting 20 minutes on the line. She was nice but had no clue; she greeted me with a very low and slow “hey”… and I didn’t understand the rest. I gave her the ID number and the dog’s name, and at first she couldn’t find him in the database, then we had this type of not-helpful conversation:
She: He is not at the shelter anymore.
Me (excited): Oh, really? What happened to him, did he get adopted? I’m talking about the big Mastiff with the black mask, he was brown and 154 lbs.
[I described the dog a little more]
She: Oh, hmmmm, yeah that dog…he is AGGRESSIVE.
Me: ‘Aggressive’? Like…dog aggressive, fear aggressive or human aggressive… what do you mean by ‘aggressive’? Is he shy or really aggressive, does he have a history?
She: Ahhhh, I don’t know, but he is human aggressive.
Me: So, is he still available? I want to drop by and take pictures of him. Is he still at your facility? Can you please check for me?
She: Hold on a second…Yes, he is here!
[I’m confused] Me: OK great. I will be there in an hour.
I packed my stuff and was really excited to meet BOBO, a 154-lb. Mastiff. I arrived at the shelter with a friend of mine and walked through the whole shelter, taking pictures of the dogs and sharing doggie treats with them, patting them, looking into some shy, timid and anxious eyes. I stopped and took a deep breath every time and walked through all cages to see who is behind the bars. Calling them and trying to reach their necks with my fingers. As usual the shelter was full of Pit Bull Mixes and little Chihuahuas, each one cuter and cuter. It took me a while to walk through all cages. I couldn’t find the Mastiff and I walked again and again through every single kennel. Finally, I decided to ask a volunteer to take some dogs out and to help me take pictures of the dogs. We took pictures of 3 different dogs and I asked her if she knew anything about the Mastiff – and she said that he wasn’t there anymore, but she doesn’t know what happened to him.
After I spent an hour-and-a-half taking pictures, I walked to the front desk to find the special dog I was looking for. I was afraid to ask, because I feared to hear that they had to put him down or something. I hoped and wished he was still alive. I walked up to the font desk and asked one of the staff members in his uniform and he said he can’t help me without an ID number. I’d forgotten to write it down, so I started looking up the number on my phone, but had really bad reception inside the building. I described him, I mean, this dog is huge and how can’t you know anything about him? He is very eye-catching and you don’t take a Mastiff like him in every day. He was taken in on May 25 and nobody knew anything. My friend asked again, and the guy in the blue uniform was helping others in the meantime. A woman reminded me: “We need the ID number”. It took forever to load the pages. Then the man with the black shoulder long hair said: Ok let me see in the back. After 5 minutes he came out with an ID card and said: Is this the dog you are looking for? ME: “Yes, that’s him”. He: “Oh, he just got adopted yesterday! I was looking at him and didn’t really buy it, and he showed me the kennel card with a red mark: ‘ADOPTED’. I took a deep breath and wanted to hug the man (I didn’t do it of course). BOBO made it, what a relief.
I’m asking: Why do you have a back area where other dogs (not open to the public) are kept and just waiting for their death? Why do you hand out wrong information and rob a dog of the chance to get adopted? Why do you know so little about the dogs in your shelter and why do you not care? How can you not know anything about a 154 lb. dog? Why did I receive 3 different versions until I got the information I was trying to get? What kind of service is this, for an institution described as ‘Animal Services’?
Everyone who is involved in animal welfare, runs a non-profit rescue, pulls dogs out for a rescue, fosters dogs or just visits shelters like me as a caring individual, knows what I’m talking about. Why is nobody out in the kennel area? No excuses, please. In the 1 1/2 hours I saw at least 3 people who were really interested in dogs. It’s like going to a car dealer and walking around for an hour looking at cars, reading the detail cards and waiting for the sales guys. Do you think the car dealer would sell a car that way? In this case, these are not cars, these are living creatures waiting for a 2nd chance, a new home to rescue them from a kill shelter.
A young couple was looking for a dog and going through the kennels over and over again, an overexcited woman who fell in love with one of the puppies and talking loudly to her mom begged her to let her bring the little puppy home, another family walked around looking for little dogs. I had the desire to help these people and ask them what they were looking for and show them some dogs myself. They were looking for someone, trying to find a person who could assist them.
Everything was happening outside in the kennel area, while the complete staff was inside. Incompetent and bored staff members, annoyed by the questions of clients, potential adopters and people who just cared about these imprisoned animals and wanted to know more. Every time, I just wanted to kick someone for his/her false information, ignorance or incompetence.
It was 3:30 pm on a not busy Thursday afternoon and I couldn’t find any staff member to ask questions, they were all hanging out at the lobby and answering phone calls and pretending being super stressed and busy. All 5 of them;). Shelter Volunteer Sarah was great, she showed me 3 dogs and we hung out with them to give them some time and love outside the cages. She helped me a lot that day… and she was the only person I could find. The shelter volunteers, however, were sweating and working hard. One of them told me last time that he always picks up hamburgers for the dogs who get killed that day. They are not allowed to handle every dog, just the ones with the specific signs on the kennel cards.
I left the fancy prison in the Valley, many dogs trapped in cages, 70% Pit Bull Mixes. My camera in hand, loaded with pictures and videos. My thoughts were with all the sweet dogs and cats left behind. My heart was heavy and my eyes full of tears; I was happy that BOBO the mastiff made it out, and thank you to the family who adopted him!
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.
Charlie Bear is a special dog to me: Because of him, I was introduced to dog rescue and animal welfare in the U.S. Meeting Charlie Bear and taking care of my (now deceased) dog Samson, who suffered from a similar condition as Charlie Bear, inspired me to start our website PackPeople.
I met Charlie Bear in 2010. While on my way home from a dog walk, at popular Griffith Park in Los Angeles, CA, I spotted Charlie Bear laying on the grass with his wheelchair next to him. Ingrid, one of his care-takers had taken him for a outing to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. There was this stunningly handsome dog and I wondered: WHY DOES THIS DOG NOT HAVE A HOME??? Well, despite his good looks and amazing personality, Charlie Bear has been living in a kennel facility for several years and needs a foster or family urgent! Please read Charlie Bear’s story below and help us, help Charlie Bear to get out of boarding and into a permanent FOSTER / HOME!
Here is what Ingrid, Adoption Coordinator of Pacific Coast Dog Rescue has to say about Charlie Bear:
Charlie Bear, our handsome red/golden Corgi / Akita mix is bound to a wheelchair but that doesn’t stop him from enjoying life. If Charlie Bear was a human, he would be a motivational speaker. One of these fascinating people like Nick Vujicic of Australia who was born without arms and legs but has inspired thousands with his lookout out on life. Just like for Nick, attitude is altitude for Charlie Bear.
Charlie Bear and his buddy, a beautiful Chow Chow, were originally found on the streets and brought to a rescue. The rescue shut down before Charlie Bear and his friend were adopted and they came to Pacific Coast Dog Rescue. Charlie Bear’s buddy found a home but nobody came for Charlie Bear. Back then, Charlie Bear used to run and jump like a pup and go for daily walks. But suddenly, Charlie Bear’s hind legs started to give out. After rushing him to the ER and over time, visiting 3 different specialist, there is still no proven diagnosis. The first specialist felt that Charlie Bear might have degenerative myelopathy which is a progressive disease of the spinal cord. It begins with the loss of coordination of the hind legs and eventually leads to complete paralysis and the animal has to be euthanized.
The second and third specialists did not agree with this assessment and felt that Charlie Bear suffers from one or more herniated discs and severe arthritis in his legs and elbows. The only way to find out, is to conduct an MRI but even with this expensive testing procedure, the specialists indicated, that Charlie Bear could probably not be cured. Charlie Bear has regressed over the past year. He initially was able to walk a couple of steps and then would fall. He was also able to somewhat walk with a sling as support. In September of 2010, we were able to get a doggie wheelchair or also called a cart. Until just recently, Charlie Bear did very well with it and loved to go for his daily walks.
Charlie Bear loves to smell the bushes and wanted to “race”, especially when he saw a kitty to chase! But Charlie Bear is now getting weaker on his front legs and most days, he only wants to go for very short walks. Charlie Bear is not only very handsome but he is a favorite because of his strong personality! Charlie Bear will greet you with a big smile and give you soft kisses. He will goof around and challenge you, to entertain him. He will melt into your arms and be pushy to get his treats. He is just an amazing dog! THE MOST AMAZING DOG! But there is not denying that he is getting weaker. All his caretakers watch this with great concern and a deep feeling of helplessness.
We all love him so much (and tell him every day) but we have to start asking ourselves what is fair to Charlie Bear. He still eats like a horse, plays with toys and LOVES his peanut butter KONGS. But he can’t move much anymore. Thanks to some wonderful people, Charlie Bear has a state of the art wheelchair and a soft and comfortable mat to lay on. Even though, our staff takes care of Charlie Bear around the clock and he gets lots of attention, our dream for Charlie Bear is, to spend the remainder of his life (and who is to tell, how long that will be) in a home environment. We would love for Charlie Bear to have a grassy yard to lounge in and a quiet, peaceful place to rest. Can you help us, make this dream come true for Charlie Bear. Can you open your heart and home to Charlie Bear? Or do you know somebody who would sponsor Charlie Bear to live with a caretaker in their home?
Please share Charlie’s story and help to find a foster or forever family for this awesome dog! He lives in Burbank, California.
Please contact us today, to come visit Charlie Bear, give him a Foster / Home , sponsor Charlie Bear or simply make a donation for this care to www.pcdogrescue.org. If you are interested in Charlie please hurry and shoot us an email to email@example.com.
And please don’t forget to share Charlie Bear’s story with everybody you know!!!
For so many Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes, it takes a long time, to find the right home. Many never do. Some rescuers feel, that it is “warehousing” to keep the dogs in a boarding facility for a long period of time. I guess, depending on the facility and the care they get, that can be the case. Of course, we would like to see all dogs in homes and not in boarding. Willow was in boarding for many years because despite of adoption events, websites, flyers etc, she was not desirable to the public.
Even after she loss of her front leg due to cancer almost 1.5 years ago, nobody wanted her. Until Carol and her family showed up! They contacted us, describing us their needs and we suggested several dogs of ours, Willow ended up being the best fit and after a few visits and help with the David Roe, founder of Pacific Coast Dog Rescue, who is also one of the best trainers in LA, Willow was home for good! Carol and her family have officially adopted Willow with the premise, that Pacific Coast Dog Rescue will be responsible for any medical bills, should the cancer come back.
So far, so good, she is getting regular check ups. Please see below a letter from Willow in her forever home and some wonderful pictures. Please feel free to support the many more PCDR dogs, especially our special needs dogs such as Sparky (blind from birth and just recently had $6000 back surgery), Charlie Bear who is permanently in a wheelchair, as he can’t walk anymore and Cute Sweetie, who has had years of skin treatment with a specialist and is finally good enough to be in a foster/forever home. Please let us know, if you would like to foster/adopt one of our wonderful dogs.
Please see Willow’s letter (as provided by her mom Carol):
Dear Ingrid, I’ve been living in my forever home for three months now and I decided it was time to write to let you know how I am doing. Please share this with all my friends at PCDR. I’m very happy here. I get so much love all the time. I didn’t know it was possible to get so many kisses and cuddles and so much attention. I wish I could share some with the other dogs at PCDR. My grandpa calls me “Little Drummer Girl” – I’m always wagging my tail against something because I’m so happy. My family tells me that I bring them so much love, joy and happiness. I try to tell them that they do the same for me! My mom and my aunt call me “Baby Girl” and I love it!!!
My grandma is disabled and needs a lot of help. I’m always watching to make sure that everyone is taking care of her properly. I like to sit on the couch next to her or lay at her feet. When she is at the table eating I lay down behind her. My aunt says that I “have my grandma’s back”. Annette comes to help take care of grandma. She’s my friend and she gives me love and takes care of me sometimes, too. I have comfortable beds to sleep on (yes, more than one – I’m spoiled) and good food and lots of good treats to eat. I have a lot of toys to play with. My family tells me that I have a “killer instinct”… if my toys aren’t super tough I rip them apart in minutes. My shark is my favorite toy.
I get to go for walks in the neighborhood, too. We don’t walk too far yet because I get tired, but I’m learning to ride in a wagon and a
trailer/stroller so my mom can take me with her on longer walks. That way I’ll be able to ride when I get tired. I’m doing really well with it as you can see. I get told many times every day that I am such a good girl and that I’m so beautiful, so sweet, so special ,so silly, so smart, so wonderful and such a love – so many times that I can’t even count them. I’m very well-behaved – I don’t beg for food (well, sometimes I do!), I don’t get into things that I shouldn’t, and I never have an accident in the house.
I can be a bit bossy sometimes, so my family has to remind me that I’m not behaving nicely. A girl can’t be perfect, right? Even with my very few “quirks”, my mom and my aunt think that I’m the perfect girl for them. Thank you for finding this home for me. This is where I’m supposed to be. I love everyone here and they love me, too. I have a purpose in life now – I have a family to love and watch over and a yard to protect. I don’t think there is a dog that is loved more or taken care of better than I am. I never dreamed that life could be this good and I could be this happy!
Today is a special day to give, consider to give a dog or a cat a loving forever home. Many, many dogs and cats are waiting for you in shelters and animal rescues. They will give unconditional Love, Companionship and Trust for sure if you reach out to them. Here is a great campaign if you want to get involved in Animal Welfare.
We want to get a very special message to all of you to please share the word about The Shelter Pet Project. This public service campaign from The Humane Society, Maddie’s Fund and the Ad Council wants people to adopt a shelter or rescued pet, rather than buying one. As the campaign so rightly says, “A person is the best thing to happen to a shelter pet.”
The Grey Muzzle Organization – All Volunteer Organization The Grey Muzzle Organization improves the lives of at-risk senior dogs by providing funding and resources to animal shelters, rescue organizations, sanctuaries, and other non-profit groups nationwide.
How did your personal adventure in dog rescue begin and when did this cause first become important to you?
I’ve always been a champion of the underdog. From an early age, I was bringing home strays off the streets of New York. Whether it was a lost dog in the rain or a litter of kittens abandoned in a sewer, those animals needed someone to act on their behalf.
As I became involved in animal welfare, I began to notice that the senior pets had the odds stacked against them. Everyone gravitates to the puppy. Witnessing senior dogs being overlooked at shelters and rescues is just heart-breaking. They sit quietly waiting for ‘their person’ to return and are just passed by. Someone needs to advocate on their behalf and that is exactly what Grey Muzzle enables me to do.
What brought your attention to helping homeless older/senior dogs in particular? How does your organization work?
A good friend of mine adopted a senior shelter dog named Brenda so “she could live out her life in peace”. I thought that gesture was so very kind for the poor old dog. Well, let me tell you, that Brenda had chutzpah! At thirteen years of age, she certainly knew how to have a frolicking good time. Boy, did she know how to live! And she lived for several years! Opened my eyes right up! At the time, I was not in a position to adopt or foster a senior dog, so when an opportunity to ‘virtually volunteer’ with Grey Muzzle presented itself, I did so!
The Grey Muzzle Organization is a national organization comprised entirely of volunteers. At Grey Muzzle, we strive to improve the lives of homeless senior dogs in two ways. First, by enabling organizations to provide senior dogs the care, comfort and loving homes they need. As we are not a rescue group or shelter, we provide this support through grants to build national programs that meet the special needs of senior dogs. Secondly, Grey Muzzle aims to improve the public perception of homeless senior dogs and encourage their adoption. If we can show how wonderful senior dogs are, maybe more people will open their hearts and homes to them.
The Grey Muzzle Organization makes grants to shelters, rescue groups, sanctuaries, and other non-profit organizations, expressly for programs designed to improve the lives of at-risk senior dogs. As a dog rescue how can I join your program or apply for a grant?
Grey Muzzle supports programs of non-profit animal welfare organizations that exhibit a commitment to homeless senior dogs. Each organization and senior program that we support is chosen carefully. We make grants twice a year after several months of application review. Organizations interested in applying for grants should check our guidelines on the “Grants” page of our website, GreyMuzzle.org.
Without a shelter or dogs for adoption on your website, could you still help me in finding a senior dog to adopt through your organization?
Many loving seniors are just waiting to be discovered at your local shelter or rescue group! Please check the state-by-state listings of senior-friendly organizations that Grey Muzzle supports on GreyMuzzle.org or visit Petfinder.com to find one in your community. Be a senior dog hero and adopt!
You have a program called In-Home hospice care for senior dogs who are not adoptable. Can you please tell us a little more about this?
As Grey Muzzle is not a shelter or rescue group, we support programs of other non-profit organizations. Some of these organizations provide in-home hospice care for senior dogs with medical issues that may prevent them from being adopted. For example, a recent Grey Muzzle grant enabled a basset hound who was diagnosed with untreatable cancer to live out her life in a loving foster home. Grey Muzzle also funds the veterinary care for adoptable or at-risk senior dogs, community programs to keep dogs with their guardians, senior-for-senior programs, and provides orthopedic beds for older dogs in shelters. Organizations that we support that offer all of these programs can be found on our website, GreyMuzzle.org.
You also offer an interesting free article full of practical advice and information about “Caring for Your Senior Dog” on your website. In your words, how would you encourage the owners of older dogs to keep and care for their pets or for someone to adopt an old dog?
Whether you already have an aging dog or are considering adopting, three key elements of care are nutrition, health, and comfort. Nutrition is important at any age, but especially for seniors, so research what you are feeding your dog. Not all pet foods are created equal, learn what your ingredients are and make informed choices.
Also, keep your senior’s health in check by taking your dog for regular check-ups and blood screenings at your veterinarian. Overweight pets are at a higher risk for health problems but also know your older dog’s limits when it comes to exercise.
Finally, keep your dog comfortable with orthopedic beds and supplements. Just like us, as pets age, bones, muscles, and joints need soothing.
Sharing information with other dog owners is so very important. Therefore, in addition to the article you referenced, we will be offering senior dog tips now in our monthly newsletters to meet the need.
What do you think is different or what can people expect from an older dog comparing to a young dog or puppy? What are some differences or benefits of adopting an older dog?
In this fast paced society, many families are unprepared for the investment of time required to raise and train a high-energy puppy. Puppies need your constant attention. They also need to go out a lot and should get a ton of exercise!
By contrast, there are so many benefits to adopting a senior dog! Many older dogs are already house-trained (no 3:00am walks!), know basic commands, don’t have as many behavior problems as puppies (yes, your shoes *may* be safe!), and are so grateful for a second chance in a loving home. Older dogs are consistent and established in their personalities so there are no surprises like with a puppy. They just understand, they ‘get it’, and are remarkably calm and easy to train if need be. By adopting, you will not only be saving an older dog’s life but you will be gaining a fantastic, wise companion.
In general, what do you think are the most common reasons people decide to give their old/senior dog away?
Like all pet surrenders, the senior dog is often surrendered due to no fault of their own. With senior dogs, many are surrendered because their owner’s life circumstances have changed. Reasons often include an owner who has passed away, is ill or nursing home-bound, moving, or lost their job. Others are sadly surrendered when a family becomes bored with an older dog or chooses simply not to invest in medical care.
Unfortunately, senior dog relinquishment is an all too common occurrence and has become even more prevalent in the current economic climate. Senior dogs are left at shelters, turned loose or left behind, or banished to the garage or backyard with little human companionship. After a lifetime of unconditional love, they certainly deserve better.
What do you think is the reason old/senior dogs are harder to adopt out?
There are a few reasons. Many people assume there is something wrong with the personality of an adult dog in a shelter. However, we find more and more that the older dog is surrendered due to a change in owner circumstances. We certainly hope to eliminate the stigma that an old dog is “defective”.
Some people also fear the financial responsibility that a senior dog may warrant. Anytime you adopt a pet, at any age, you need to be financially prepared. Vet expenses may, or may not, be more costly for an older dog. Through Grey Muzzle grants, the organizations we support try to remedy any known treatable medical issue that impedes adoption. Having medical issues resolved takes some of the financial pressure off of the organization and a potential adopter. It also can prevent at-risk dogs from being euthanized.
Finally, adopting an older dog can be emotionally hard for many people. The possibility of giving your heart to an aging dog can be difficult. It takes a special person to live life in the moment and not get too ahead of ourselves. Dogs already do that, but we are still learning! Senior dogs can really teach us so much.
Who is the perfect adopter for an older dog?
As always, the perfect adopter for a pet at any age is someone with a kind heart. Adopters looking for an experienced companion, unconditional love, and a grateful dog should consider a senior. An older dog is perfect for a person who does not have the time and energy that is required by a rambunctious puppy.
What do you need the most for your mission – and how can people get involved?
The Grey Muzzle Organization funds many organizations and programs nationwide. The funds distributed are raised entirely through public donations. Simply put, Grey Muzzle is only limited by the funds we raise. Donations are always needed to help more seniors. People can make a donation in memory of a pet, purchase a bed for a senior shelter dog, or visit our online store via our website GreyMuzzle.org.
We also need committed volunteers nationwide to assist with fundraising and education. One of the nice things about Grey Muzzle is that you can ‘virtually volunteer’ from your home or become a ‘senior dog ambassador’ in your community. Volunteer information can also be found on our website.
What kinds of things do you do to raise awareness about your organization?
Grey Muzzle uses a combination of outreach methods. To keep up with technology, we utilize social media (Facebook, Twitter) and hold a “Virtual Walk” each November. We also combine online and grassroots efforts to fundraise for our “Flower Power for Senior Dogs” retail campaign each Spring. Also, because we love all things traditional, Grey Muzzle ambassadors set up tables, rain or shine, at community events. We are so grateful to our volunteers who advocate the plight of homeless senior dogs in their corner of the world! Finally, to spread all the news, Grey Muzzle offers both an online and printed newsletter for those who sign up.
Can you describe an experience that has particularly moved or inspired you?
Shortly after buying our house, my husband and I decided to adopt a dog. We searched Petfinder.com and found a dog whose bio said she was “the perfect dog for first time dog owners.” As this applied to my husband, this sentence struck a chord so we went down to the shelter to meet a dog named Kori.
As the story goes, Kori’s family was moving and she was not included in their plans. Kori was an older, overweight, extra-large, black dog. Sadly, she waited at the shelter for a long time until we adopted her. Apparently her age, size, weight, and color weren’t appealing attributes for prospective adopters. Truth be told… their oversight was truly our gain! Kori was the sweetest, most gentle, funniest, teddy bear of a dog. She loved the cat, the falling leaves, the couch, and everyone she met. The joy of those four amazing years with Kori left such an impression on me. Too many dogs just like Kori are overlooked in our shelters today. It has to change.
Do you have any upcoming events you want to share with our community?
In conjunction with Adopt a Senior Dog month in November, Grey Muzzle will be launching our “Virtual Walk”. Anyone can participate and, if you are not the athletic type, you don’t even have to walk a mile! Check our website GreyMuzzle.org for info about this online event and community events nationwide.
If you could give pet owners one piece of advice what would it be?
Be good to your pets! They love you unconditionally and deserve a forever home by your side. Save up for those unexpected vet visits (or research pet insurance) and do your best for them every day. Our pets depend on us, especially as they get older. If you have ever loved an old dog, remember that there are many dogs just like your dog have that have not been so lucky and now need a home.
Do you have pets of your own?
Yes! Of course, I have a grey-muzzled dog! I also have two not-even-mildly-aloof adult cats. Each year as they age, they become even more and more endearing.
Which websites or pet related links would you recommend to PackPeople?
To warm your heart, check out the amazing stories of homeless senior dogs that are now cherished on our “Meet The Dogs” page on GreyMuzzle.org. It speaks volumes!
With the current state of the economy, many pets are surrendered due to the rising costs of vet care. For pet owners considering pet insurance, do your research. Know exactly what is covered (and isn’t), what the exclusions are, and what the rates of reimbursement are. I would suggest comparing different plans at PetInsuranceReview.com to find one that meets your pet’s needs and budgets.
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PEP! The Pet Education Project was founded in 2009 in Louisiana by Erica Callais. This education and outreach program visits schools and youth organizations to teach the importance of responsible pet ownership and other topics regarding animal and environmental awareness. PEP! also supports pet owners through pet food drives and other projects.
PEP! incorporates a variety of games, trivia, and prizes to make PEP Talks memorable and fun. Therapy animals are available to be present if allowed. PEP! also offers contests and competitions throughout the year to further engage students in materials covered during their time outside of the classroom. PEP’s method has proven to be an enjoyable time for teachers and students alike. Since March of 2009 PEP! has spoken to over 7,000 kids across North West Louisiana!
We had a great time interviewing Erica, a passionate animal lover and educator. She shared with us her projects, events and how The Pet Education Project’s school program works.
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Animal Rescue was founded in 1976, by Grace Froelich as a result of being given the alternative to either give up her beloved cat or face eviction. Grace’s philosophy is that an animal who is a companion pet is a member of the family, and deserves the same respect and considerations. Animal Rescue, Inc. services the greater Baltimore, MD – York, PA area and is a “shelter for life” for stray and abandoned animals who are waiting for a home, even if they never find one.
Animal Rescue also promotes spay/neuter programs and operates a Crisis Intervention Program which keeps the human/animal bond intact by providing assistance to the elderly, sick, and the infirm.
Animal Rescue, Inc. consists of two locations: A cattery in the Putty Hill area of Baltimore MD, and a 33-acre farm located in PA.
We had a great time interviewing Olivia, the Media Manager & Administrator of Animal Rescue Inc., a passionate animal lover, an activist and an educator. She shared with us her insights and we learned a lot from her. Thank you, Olivia.
Interviewee: Olivia J. Rebert / Interviewer: Rufino Cabang (PackPeople)
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Appreciation of a loving home – RED after 3 months.
Our new family member Red is still adapting to all the new things in his teenager life. He had a lot of “first-time” moments and has done, mostly, a great job. I’m very glad that we could give him the chance to show what a great dog he is. Red (short for “Ready”) is just a cute goof ball with a medium energy level, and his friendly, eager-to-please and calm personality makes it very easy to work with him and to meet new people. Since he is an American Staffordshire Terrier Mix, I’ve heard a lot of weird comments like: “You don’t look like a typical Pit Bull owner” or “He seems to be nice” or “Does he fight?” or “Do you keep him in the backyard? He is big I’m sure he eats a lot” or “I heard Pit Bulls turn vicious after 3 years of age”… I’m collecting the best ones and will publish a Best Of Pit Bull Comments of Smart:) People List in a couple of months. I generally let these people know to check out PackPeople’s blog posts and interviews about Pit Bulls to get a truer idea of the breed and to have a better understanding for these excellent family companions – even if I want to give them a long speech, I just leave with a smile and my PackPeople suggestion. Please send me the weird comments you have ever heard about Pit Bulls – and be a part of my upcoming e-book!
Lilly and Red became best friends in just a couple days and they get along very well. Every day they chase each other in the backyard and play gently (Samson just ignores him and is not very interested). The only issue we are working with Red is his over-excitement with other dogs and new animal species like mean squirrels. After one month of Red’s adoption, we took him to our first walk in a public park with other on-leash dogs and realized that he is not ready to meet other new dogs up close. I had known Red from the shelter where I used to work – and I never realized that he got anxious around other dogs. He was living next door with other male/female dogs and never had problems or any signs of anxiety. Our walk was filled with shaking and screaming (Red can scream like a pig). I decided to work on the issue and we never leave the house without our pouch of treats. With the method of distracting him early enough before he even sees the object of excitement, and catching his attention with fun things to do, like playing ball and working on his obedience skills, he is getting much better and has stopped jumping, pulling and screaming. He is not yet ready to attend the agility and good citizen certification classes I want him to join with Lilly in the future, but he will I’m sure.