We need your support: my friend Marissa is volunteering for a great organization in Los Angeles called L.A. Love & Leashes and she has asked me to help get them some exposure. Please read what they do and how you can help support their awesome work.
This Thursday night, June 28th, there is a special benefit for L.A. Love & Leashes – the first non-profit run “pet store” that adopts out only animals from L.A.’s city animal shelters. Milo Greene, an LA-based band getting some big buzz recently (on Letterman Tuesday, profiled in the LA Times over the weekend http://soc.li/c0TUntD and sold out the Troubador last week) is playing. There will be an open bar, food (passed appetizers) by celebrity chef Sepi Kashanian and there is plenty of onsite parking.
If 100 tickets are sold, L.A. Love & Leashes can renew its lease after the summer. In their first six months, they’ve adopted out 224 dogs and cats (and one hamster) from LA’s city shelters. It’s a new, humane model for pet stores and the first and only store of its kind supporting our city shelters in L.A.
Kristine is an animal advocate and guardian in the Philippines. She just started a blog to raise awareness about animal welfare in the Philippines and to share her stories – and we at PackPeople believe that her idea needs to be shared and supported! Thank you for reaching out, Kristine.
Here is her first article for PackPeople:
I never thought that maintaining a blog would be challenging. First off, I do not have a camera or a mobile phone with a camera, therefore I cannot record memorable experiences that I can blog. But then again, I remembered the main reason why I decided to blog: I blog because I want to make a difference, I blog because I believe that I have something to say. I blog because I want to.
And then, I was able to meet the epitome of animal lovers in the Philippines. Her name is Tina Alviar Agbayani. Well, I met her on Facebook, and I was inspired by her since day one. Maybe you are wondering why I consider her the epitome of animal lovers in the Philippines -Tina is not only a mother to her children, she is also a mother to her dogs, chinchilla, turtle and iguana. All her dogs are rescued from different animal shelters, and that is one thing that I love about her. She can actually buy purebred dogs, but she preferred to save lives. I can say that she is one of the kindest mothers on earth, because she is teaching her children how to treat animals with respect. I am sure that having a quadriplegic dog is not easy; some people will just abandon a dog with this condition, or worse, they may even euthanize her. But not Tina. She decided to keep Bianca and gave her a chance to live like an ordinary dog.
Tina is teaching her children the value of compassion, and she is a good example of a responsible parent. Imagine, she was able to take good care of her children, she was a mom to her dogs and to other creatures in her household, and she is even volunteering some of her time to animal shelters. Tina deserves to be in my list of “Dog People of the Month.” She is indeed an inspiration to all. Because of her, I was able to realize that dog lovers should not expect animal shelters to do all the rescues and stuff, there are times wherein we need to step up, and do things on our own. Animal Shelters will not be able to save all the stray animals, but if all dog lovers will stand as one unit to accomplish a goal, then nothing is impossible.
About Kristine: I used to be an animal shelter volunteer, however because of the nature of my job, I was forced to quit. But because I am really passionate about making a difference in the lives of animals, I decided to blog about my passion. I live in the Philippines, and in our country animals are considered as the last priority of our government.
Though we have animal shelters, they do not rescue dogs. Well there are times they do, but most of the time, they don’t. They have this maximum of 30-60 dogs per shelter. There are even times where in, if there is a dog in need and we call the animal shelter, they will not do anything. So, to help the dog, we will use Facebook to disseminate information and will ask the nearest person to the dog’s location to rescue it first, bring it to the vet, while we will contact our animal lovers group all over the world to ask for donations. As of now, we already have 10 rescues, and 4 have already been adopted.
I blog because I wanted to raise awareness regarding the proper way of becoming a dog guardian. I would also like to raise funds so that i can put up my own no kill animal shelter, it’s kinda ambitious but i believe that if a network of people who have the common goal will work together then nothing is impossible.
I have just recently learned that Mandaluyong City has put up their own Animal Shelter, and they also need all the help that they can get, if you are located near Mandaluyong, please be kind enough to visit the dogs and provide some help.
Pictures was taken from Tina Alviar Agbayani’s Facebook account :). If you have any questions regarding my blog, feel free to email me at akvicencio(at)gmail.com
LIKE Kristine’s Fan Page on Facebook here. Visit her blog ‘Everything is better with dog’s hair’ here.
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!
Pilots N Paws is a non-profit organization founded in 2008 by animal lover Debi Boies and pilot Jon Wehrenberg, an online platform created to provide free plane transport for shelter and foster animals and rescue organizations – served by volunteer pilots. I remember last year when I was looking desperately for safe transportation for our little kitty “Thursday”, now “Luna”; her new family was in Florida and we were in Los Angeles. It was not an easy task to get Luna safely to her new family, but we were able to organize her transport by car. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about the great services of Pilots N Paws at that time, and it took Luna 3 days to reach her family (read Luna’s story).
I heard of Pilots N Paws from a rescue friend and was thrilled that a non-profit organization was offering this free service of transporting animals by plane. I browsed through the website’s blog, stories and pictures and spent an hour looking at them and reading the happy stories. Pictures really do tell the story!
If you are looking for an opportunity to get your pooch, kitty, rabbit or piggy from one destination to another and don’t know how, you should visit Pilotsnpaws.org and request a flight (no long-distance flights). Today, a dedicated formation of 2466 pilots volunteer their time and donate free flights for Pilots N Paws furry or non-furry pawssengers. Animals can experience safe, fast and comfortable travel with experienced pilots. Flights are not scheduled, and there are no costs involved:) for participating groups.
Debi Boies and Pilots N Paws have received honors and awards from all over the country, including the Broadway Barks Award/Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore, the American Dog Magazine’s 1st Annual Humanitarian Award, the Pets and Heroes award from the Amazing Grace Foundation and many more. She is listed as one of the top “25 Pet People of 2010” at Petside.com.
We had the great pleasure of talking to Debi, Co-Founder and President of Pilots N Paws and finding out more about this wonderful organization. Debi is the winner of the Pet Hero Award 2012 and her organization is Rescue Organization of the Year. Congratulations!
Please listen, learn and share how you can benefit from Pilots N Paws’s services, how you can join the organization, how you can request a flight and how the organization makes an impact on the plight of homeless animals. Debi also shared with us her special moments, and why she founded Pilots N Paws. Kudos to all volunteers, Debi and her team for their wonderful efforts!
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 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 PackPeopleNEW: 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.
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.
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.”
Picture an off-ramp at the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles. What do you normally see there? Bushes, trees, maybe trash, plastic bags, cardboard boxes, paper, cans, bottles, maybe old tires, things tossed out of the cars driving by. This is where beautiful Missy was found over 3 years ago.
Missy is a happy, wiggly, kissy dog. She is a beautiful red-head, athletic and affectionate. She is always in a good mood when she is around a human being. Unfortunately, Missy has been living in a kennel facility ever since she was rescued over 3 years ago. She is comfortable there: She gets fed, she goes to play in the yard, she sometimes gets taken out for walks and gets a cookie, every time an employee walks by her. But does she get the attention she craves so desperately? Does she get to snuggle up next to her favorite person or family? Does she get to play ball every day (which she loves!)? Does she get to swim in the pool which is her absolute favorite activity? Does somebody tell her every day, what a wonderful girl she is and how much she is loved? No. Well, that is not completely true. She did have all that for about 2 months. Just recently. Missy got adopted by a nice couple and their teenage daughter. They had a dog before Missy for many years, they live in a nice home with a secure yard and a wonderful pool. They adored Missy, feed her the best food, bought her toys and gave her kisses. So, what happened? Why is she not with her adoptive family anymore?
Let’s reverse: We at Pacific Coast Dog Rescue are very careful when placing our dogs. We look for a stable life-style of our adopters, we make sure, that their home and yard are secure for the dog. We strive to place our dogs with people who are going to be committed to the dog. Who will work through any issues that may arise. We also outweigh the good and the bad, because there is always something in question. In the case of Missy’s adopters, everything matched, except, that maybe, there was a bit of a lack of confidence in handling Missy in certain situations. As mentioned before, Missy is a very happy and wiggly dog and that means, that she can get overstimulated at times. So, the key is, to keep Missy calm and controlled. Not that difficult of a task, as Missy has received our 3 week on-leash obedience training and she LOVES to show off her training. As a matter of fact, her adopters updated us on several occasions about her excellent manners and her obedience. They even had a cocktail party 4 days after Missy moved in, when she impressed everybody with her excellent manners.
We, at Pacific Coast Dog Rescue take the adoption process serious. We always conduct several home visits with the dog, before leaving them at the new home for good. During that time, we practice the training with the adopters. We also check in regularly for the first couple of months and ask the adopters to contact us right away with even the smallest problem or concern. Well, Missy’s adopters informed us, that Missy would get very excited, when she saw people playing basketball. I guess, the moving ball made her anxious. The founder of Pacific Coast Dog Rescue and also our trainer, David Roe, explained Missy’s adopters, how to use the training, to handle her in those situations. Everything seemed to be going well until we got the call: “We are heartbroken, but we have to return Missy. She nipped our neighbor, playing basketball.” How could this have happened? Missy was on a leash. Easy to control. According to the adopters, Missy was on a leash, they walked by the neighbor with the basketball and she jumped and nipped him in the leg.
I wasn’t at the scene but I know, that this was a no-brainer to avoid:
1. Walk into a different directions, cross the street, go around the person with the basketball.
2. Follow the training routine, don’t let the dog get to the point of over-stimulation, use the training to keep her focused.
3. Ask the person to step out of the way because your dog gets nervous around basketballs.
Either one of those solutions seem reasonable to me. And Missy would still be happy with her family in her home. Instead, this preventable incident turned into a huge scene. 911 was called, 2 police cars, a firetruck, an ambulance and animal control showed up. The person who got nipped in the leg, went to the hospital but his injury was so minor, that he did NOT need any medical treatment. Animal control determined, that Missy was NOT a danger to society, they actually commented on what a nice dog she was, after they tried to agitate her and push to see, how far they could go with her and all she did, was try to kiss them! But according to law, Missy had be quarantined for 10 days. Because she is such a nice dog and was not determined to be vicious, she was able to stay in her home during that time. But I have to warn you: Animal control has ALL the power in these kind of situations, they can determined a dog to be dangerous at their discretion. And then, there is nothing you can do, to save your dog’s life. Especially, if your dog is an American Pit Bull, American Staffordshire Terrier, Mastiff, Bulldog, or a mix of those.
The hysteria is big. So, where is Missy now? She is back at the rescue. Her adopters brought her back with tears in her eyes. I had to hold back, not to start crying, because I know, that I wouldn’t have been able to stop. Missy has always been one of my special heartbreakers because I know, how much she longs for a family to love her. On the other hand, I am happy, that she is back with us, safe. Now I know for next time, I have to be even more careful in placing her. So, that Missy truly has a forever home. Somebody who is sensible to her needs, somebody who loves her unconditionally and somebody who protects her. Because Missy is a wonderful girl!