Survey Says – We’re making progress on adoption and spay/neuter messages

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PetSmart Charities’ 2014 US Shelter Pet Report contains some interesting findings that show progress on the animal-welfare front. But it should be noted that one of the troubling aspects of the report explains that about 8 million homeless pets are entering US shelters every year and only half find homes.

Some of the other findings include the chart that shows the number of households with pets increased from 63 percent in 2011 to 81 percent three years later.

The percentage of those are choosing adoption over buying a new pet rose from 58 to 66 over the same 2011 to 2014 time frame. Only 28 percent purchased the most recent dog addition to the family.

The education level is rising within the American public, thankfully. But we can’t scale back on the effort. The more people who receive the message, the better.

One of the many great sections of the report notes “adoption is one of the safest ways to acquire a pet.” It is the safest means. Purchasing a pet is only safe if the person engages in significant research into the breeder and visits the breeding facility for a FULL tour.

But still, if you ask the right questions at the shelter or when dealing with a rescue group, you can be more assured that you’re getting the right pet for you.

And of course, spay/neuter is a key element in the battle to greatly reduce the number of pets dying in shelters. Clearly education is so important, as noted in the PetSmart report, where 85 percent underestimated the number of pets euthanized every year.

I found this statement from the report interesting: “In the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians says that spay/neuter surgery is safe for pets as young as 8 to 10 weeks old.”

I would tend to suggest going a bit older, if possible, just to be safe. But how about this stat – 86 percent of pet dogs and cats are spayed or neutered. Of course, we still have a bigger problem with roaming cats and dogs.

So the end result is, progress is being made and we’re moving in the right direction. But we still have a long road to travel and far more in the way of education is needed.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Sochi officials go stupid and evil route in wanting removal of stray dogs

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So officials in Sochi, Russia don’t want stray dogs roaming around during the Winter Olympics, so instead of holding those responsible for homelessness accountable for the problem, they are choosing to punish the victims.

We see this mentality all too often. Humans have created everything from feral cat colonies to homeless dogs and cat populations overall to an imbalance in wildlife populations.

And the only means some people can come up with – even in 2014 – is to torture and kill the victims. No thoughtfulness. No compassion. No discussion of options. They just want to kill.

They’ll poison. They’ll shoot. They’ll torture wolves in chasing them down from helicopters. We’re supposed to be the most advanced species on the planet, but officials like those in Sochi can only come up with the option of death. A 5-year-old could develop a better, more humane plan.

Thankfully, a Russian billionaire is funding an effort to save as many Sochi dogs as possible, through a local animal shelter. The New York Times article reports about 300 dogs each month were being killed in the town.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

A scary headline about adoption – but underneath is not so bad

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I ran across a troubling headline on the Raining Cats and Dogs blog on the Chicago Now website. The headline: “Why you should think twice before you adopt a dog.”

My first reactions included: ‘What? – They prefer you purchase a puppy?’ and ‘Oh no – they’re anti-adoption.’

But the body of the blog post offers more in the way of a primer for people who want to add a furry family member. And it seems to be an effort to make sure fewer homeless pets are returned to shelters, because some people might go into the decision with blinders on.

But the writer is not suggesting people go out and buy puppies.

It is important to note that people can be better assured of matching a dog or cat to their families if they adopt – as opposed to buying a pet. This is one myth often promoted by supporters of breeding and breeder groups.

But those who buy from a breeder before they’ve fully researched the operation and before they have taken a full tour of the breeding facility, are taking the risk of not knowing what the outcome will be. And those who purchase puppies who are younger than 12 weeks are making a risky choice. In both cases, it’s risky for the puppies and the breeding dogs.

So the best choice is to talk with the volunteers at local rescue groups, who have fostered or otherwise cared for the homeless pet you might want to adopt. Often, they have a clear picture of the pet’s behavior and health and how well they might get along with other pets and children.

In every way – including the fact that a life is being saved – adoption is the best option.

 

 

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

No-Kill advocate Winograd vs. PETA

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There is a back-and-forth building between no-kill advocate Nathan Winograd and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Winegrad and others have slammed PETA for the number of animals euthanized at its shelter in Virginia. PETA has responded by stating the dogs there are too unhealthy or too dangerous to adopt out. Officials there claim the animals taken into the shelter are from surrounding areas and have been rescued from horrible situations.

The charge is that 96 percent of the animals taken in during 2011 did not make it out alive.

Now, an International Business Times article reports PETA has responded with a video, suggesting no-kill shelters are turning away pets when their kennels are full and are telling those showing up to drop animals off that they will need to do so at local municipal shelters.

This sort of debate has been going on for some time now. I tend to try to separate myself from this back-and-forth. Animal welfare groups don’t need to go after each other, when the villains in the story are those who are the source of the problem. While puppy mill operators and people who continuing allow their pets to breed new homeless pets continue to hide untouched the shadows, this debate goes on.

Maybe there’s enough blame to spread around, but the focus should be placed on those who are the source villains.

I fully support the efforts of the no-kill shelters, but until we fix the problems, the euthanasia of homeless pets will continue. Until our state legislatures get serious about puppy mills and funding spay/neuter programs and join forces with animal welfare groups, the problems will go on. Until the federal government gets serious about these problems, they will go on.

Until those who are uneducated about the need for spaying and neutering and about the horrors of puppy mills become educated, it will be difficult to fully solve the problem.

We’ve ALL got to work together – within a Pack Mentality – to solve this crisis. Far too many homeless are dying every year. We can make excuses, but excuses don’t save lives.

 

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Adoptable kittens to be featured in Kitten Bowl on Super Bowl Sunday

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The Hallmark Channel has announced a new special for Super Bowl Sunday – “Kitten Bowl.” So joining the Puppy Bowl will be adoptable kittens on the TV field.

It is great that that the networks are promoting the adoption of homeless pets with specials such at this.

The full Hallmark press release:

“” “”

THE BIGGEST SUNDAY IN ALL OF SPORTS HAS A BRAND NEW TRADITION!
HALLMARK CHANNEL’S ‘KITTEN BOWL’

Hallmark Channel’s Three-Hour Original Special Filled with Purr-Fectly Adoptable Kittens Performing in the Biggest Feline Sports Show in TV History

Attention, sports fans! Hallmark Channel announces a brand new tradition that is sure to become the most talked about big game on television! On Sunday, February 2, 2014 (12:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. ET/PT), Hallmark Channel opens its stadium doors to the greatest feline showdown in cable television history, “Kitten Bowl,” a three-hour Hallmark Channel Original Special featuring the world’s most adorable – and adoptable – kittens in the mother lode of cat agility competition. The special, which will be presented annually, is supported by the network’s animal welfare partner, American Humane Association, and is just one of many high-profile commitments the company has made to its evergreen Pet Project initiative. With American Humane Association, Hallmark Channel’s in-house production team will scour rescue associations and shelters searching for kitty competitors whose enduring prize will be a loving, forever home. “Kitten Bowl” is a bonanza of opportunity for Ad Sales and product integration and will feature a live streaming internet channel to catch every delightful, charming, or inspirational moment. Suiting up as judges, referees, and sideline trainers will be Hallmark Channel’s top tier Original Movie talent. And, in a first for the network, viewers at home will vote in social media for the MVK – Most Valuable Kitten. Continue reading

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Pilots N Paws helping homeless pets go long distance for new homes

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Thanks to my brother Mark, a long-time pilot, for sending me this story about a great organization – Pilots N Paws.

The group of volunteers fly homeless pets from areas where the shelters are overflowing to areas of the country where shelters have open space or people are at the ready to adopt them.

Back on January 8 for example, a plane took more than a dozen of dogs from around south Alabama to Tampa, Fla.

Animal welfare crossposters are upset with Facebook’s policies

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People who crosspost on Facebook about homeless pets are upset with the social networks recent policy that is blocking this effort.

This video serves as an open letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

There are a lot of really negative and troubling things posted on Facebook pages. Crossposting to help homeless pets find loving families is a very positive thing.

More fuzzy math on pet homelessness

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When I was engaged in some online research last week, I ran across a blogger’s post concerning the rate of death in animal shelters. I thought about linking to the site, but I don’t want to increase the hits on it at all. In addition, the information features basically the same misinformation spread by others.

This one led by suggesting only two percent of dogs die in shelters every year and he linked to webpages for the ASPCA, HSUS and American Pet Products Association. But the writer is twisting the numbers. To compare the total population of dogs with the numbers euthanized goes to the same fuzziness the greyhound racing industry uses on the rate of deaths and injuries, compared to the number of races it conducts each year.

The very link the blogger points to from the ASPCA reports – “” Approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats). “”

The writer links to these numbers and then later claims it is a lie that there is a pet overpopulation problem in pets. Five to 7 million companion animals entering shelters every and 3 to 4 million dying is a real problem. And it’s not just pit bulls and mutts.

And the ASPCA reports -  “” There are about 5,000 community animal shelters nationwide that are independent; there is no national organization monitoring these shelters. “” So the numbers basically reflect municipal shelters. Are we even sure what the actual numbers are?

I know there are some animal-welfare advocates who also claim we don’t have an overpopulation problem. They suggest it’s more about increasing adoptions and promoting spay-neuter. But that’s just one side of the equation. When 4 to 5 million pets are dying each year – that’s a REAL PROBLEM – one being caused by irresponsible people, irresponsible breeders and greyhound racing.

No-kill shelter debate heats up in Pennsylvania

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When the Humane League of Lancaster County (Pa.) announced this week it was going to be a no-kill shelter in February, it set off another debate on the issue of no-kill shelters.

No-kill advocates firmly believe in policies where no healthy pets are euthanized in shelters. Some areas have seen success in this effort, where the trends are better in terms of spaying and neutering and puppy mills.

The other side worries about the homeless pets turned away when these shelters reach capacity. This is a real concern in many areas of the country that have not caught up in reducing the rates of homelessness.

A post on the Philly Dawg blog quotes a representative of the Humane League as saying “strong licensing laws, spay/neuter initiatives and animal control programs” are needed in the local, county and state levels. And that – “Pet owners will need to take responsibility for their pets, and pet lovers will need to support life-saving programs throughout the community.”

This is true. But for example, some counties in my area do not have strong licensing laws or good spay/neuter initiatives – and too people are NOT taking responsibility for their pets. I write often about this issue in my local animal-welfare column and blog.

My continued view on this debate is that no-kill is the goal. But we have to get there. Until we have better regulations across the nation to shut down puppy mills and hold the people responsible who are creating the problem of homelessness, we will continue to have this problem.

In my home state, programs are place where at least some homeless pets are being transported to other states with shelter space. It is helping, but the area animal-welfare groups are overloaded with a constant stream of more homeless dogs and cats.

Until we serious as a nation in holding people accountable, this problem will go on.

I wrote this recently in my Animal Tales column –

Some pets enter shelters for more legitimate reasons. But far too many are there because they have been coldly discarded or someone failed to spay or neuter the parent dogs or cats. Or the dogs were purchased through a puppy mill and later developed physical or emotion problems.
At this point, the burden turns to taxpayers, to local rescue organizations and to the people who donate to these groups or shelters. So while one side creates the problem, the other side – the side  populated with compassionate people who care – pays for the costs.
So I keep going back to it. What is wrong with this picture? Why are we not placing the burden on those responsible for creating it?

Hallmark Channel’s Pet Project – It’s great to see more organizations getting involved

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Hallmark Channel is kicking off it Pet Project program. The network is promoting the adoption of homeless pets, with the help of organizations such as American Humane Association and PetSmart Charities.

On the website’s about page: “” Hallmark Channel’s Pet Project also aims to shine a spotlight on this country’s epidemic of pet homelessness and provide the public with the information and resources they need to find their new best friend. “”

And the Shelter Pet Project offers information under several tabs.

It’s always great to post good news for a nice change of pace around here.

And the network will premier the TV movie “Puppy Love” this Saturday at 9 p.m. (Eastern Time). A baseball player’s missing dog ends up being adopted by a single mom. I guess the plot is a twist on an age-old story – guy loses dog; guy finds dog; guy falls in love.