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.

Pack Topics: Homeless pure-bred dogs; and teaching kids compassion

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The Go San Angelo website featured a great editorial last week by Jenie Wilson, under the headline – “Teach children pets are living beings not to be cruelly discarded.” Wilson is the executive director of Concho Valley PAWS group.

Wilson encourages animal lovers to get involved with local rescue groups, promote spay/neuter and adds, “The only way to enact change is to be a part of it.”

And this is equally important “… thousands of purebred dogs are euthanized by San Angelo Animal Control every year.” So here is someone on the front lines in Texas who reports purebred dogs are dying by the thousands each year in a single shelter.

Yet, the folks on the other side, who constantly fight against any and all new regulation on dog breeding, continue to spread the lie that only mutts and pit bulls are in the homeless ranks. Their propaganda has their pants on fire.

Pack Topics: Trendy rescue pets; puppy mill sales; animal cruelty penalties

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Is the adoption of homeless pets becoming the trendy option: An opinion piece published Saturday on the Arizona Republic website suggests the adoption of homeless pets has become the trendy thing to do. I hope that’s true and from what I’m hearing, reading and seeing in my area, the trend seems to be growing for this trendy movement.

Another city considers ban on puppy sales at stores: The Burbank City Council is due to consider late in August a possible measure to ban on puppy sales from mills and retail outlets.

The Burbank Leader reports the city would join 26 others with similar ordinances in the United States and Canada.

Do the punishments for animal cruelty fit the crimes?: Two teens in Nevada will serve less than a month in jail after sentencing for the torturing and drowning of two kittens. Because they were juveniles, they did not get the maximum penalties.

According to the Examiner.com story from Monday, the judge in the case did place some restrictions on the pair – such as house arrest through the end of the summer break; 12 months of GPS monitoring and other monitoring; 200 hours of community service; counseling and more.

Is it enough? Does the punishment fit the crime in this case? It seems the judge did everything he could in tacking on extra penalties, but I can’t help but state that the base penalties should be more.


Genetic disorders in purebred dogs

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A column written by Dr. Patty Khuly was published June 20 on the Huffington Post website. In her editorial piece, Khuly explains how people frequently bring purebred dogs to her veterinary office with medical problems.

She says – “I’m willing to go on record and say that I generally observe at least one genetic disease in nine out of 10 purebred patients during their first examination with me.” She goes on to note that the mixed-breed dogs she sees frequently have problems as well, but these conditions are typically a “result of their discernible purebred parentage.”

The culprits are “line breeding, the failure to adequately test parents for genetic diseases and the trend among show breeders toward increasingly exaggerated features.”

From what I’ve been told, greyhound racing engages in line breeding. We see what happens with greyhounds, who, for example, have the highest incidence of osteosarcoma of ANY breed of dog.

All of these statements are important enough to highlight from the editorial here as direct quotes. Dr. Khuly is stepping to the forefront to shine a light on a problem that too often goes unreported. I can’t count how many people I’ve seen in veterinary offices talking about the knee surgeries their purebred dogs have undergone.

It isn’t being put together and reported for what it is. It’s a real problem, from cancers to physical abnormalities such a deformed hips and ligament problems in knees to more. There are good, quality breeders in this country, who track this sort of thing and adjust their practices accordingly. But too many are sending out puppies like so many microwave ovens off an assembly line, with too little concern for health.

More people in the medical profession and breeding profession need to step forward to bring this issue to the forefront. I applaud Dr. Khuly. She calls it “morally correct” to adopt homeless pets and urges her clients to adopt mixed-breed dogs.


Sunday Commentary: Why do we need all of these rescue groups?

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In the last segment of the HBO Documentary “One Nation Under Dog,” text appeared on the screen stating there are hundreds of dog rescue organizations in the US. The documentary was really well-done and I hope it proves to be an eye-opener for those who previously were not aware the realities of homelessness and other issues surrounding animal welfare.

The documentary certainly didn’t pull many punches.

But it struck me that there are actually thousands of dog rescue (and cat rescue) organizations in the United States – not merely hundreds. So just to make sure I wasn’t overstating the numbers in my head, I went to Petfinder.com to engage in a couple of searches.

In the “Search For Animal Welfare Groups” box, I pulled up a list of rescue organizations in my home state of North Carolina. A full 459 matches appeared. Some are not dog-specific, but most of them do rescue dogs. And this is just in NC alone.

In New York – the search yielded 669 groups. But in North Dakota it was only 18 total rescue groups. In SC – 203. In California – 1,258. Florida – 700. Obviously, in general terms, the greater the human population, the greater the number rescue organizations.

The higher the human population, the higher the number of irresponsible humans on hand. Irresponsible people and puppy mills and backyard breeders lead to more homeless pets.

That’s thousands of rescue groups across the nation with probably an average of thousands of volunteers in your average state. And why? – because they’re needed. If homelessness was not such a problem, the list under each state on Petfinder.com would not be nearly as extensive. The number of rescue organizations in my home city has exploded over the last decade.

On one hand, it is disheartening to realize the number of groups are up due to the level of homelessness. But the good news is there are so many compassionate people who are working within these groups to help.

The people responsible for the number of dogs and cats and other pets who become homeless every day need to be held accountable for their actions. Until these people are held responsible, the problems will continue. These thousands of rescue groups will continue to struggle week after week after year to care for and find homes for millions of dogs and cats – every year.

I liken it to a hole filling with water. The rescue groups are trying to empty the hole, cup by cup. But at the same time, puppy mills and greyhound racing and irresponsible people who refuse to spay and neuter and allow their pets to have litter after litter after litter of offspring are standing on the other side of the hole, filling it with more homelessness.

And to a large extent, the federal government and too many state legislatures are doing very little to nothing to stop the perpetrators from filling the hole with homelessness – a seemingly never-ending flow of irresponsibility, largely fueled by greed or selfishness. So while rescue groups by the thousands battle daily against this flood of greed, irresponsibility and their cousin apathy – dogs and cats are dying by the millions every year.

But the groups battle on. Why? – Because the people who work within these rescue organizations have something sorely lacking on the other side of the equation. The rescue volunteers have compassion. They care about other living beings. People who volunteer in animal rescue; human homeless shelters; organizations to stop child abuse and hunger: cancer walks; anti-bullying campaigns; anti-domestic violence campaigns and more have compassion for others.

In this corner of our tag-team match, we have the reining heavyweight champions – Greed and Selfishness, and their manager – Dirty Money. And in the other corner, we have the underdog – Compassion and Caring.

Pack Line Headlines: Exotic animal ban in Ohio, the Fukushima animals, puppy sales

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Abandoned animals still suffering in Fukushima danger zone: When Japanese citizens were forced to evacuate after the earthquake and subsequent nuclear disaster, many pets and farm animals were abandoned. To this day many are still suffering.

Ohio could ban exotic animals as pets: The Washington Post reports the proposed legislation would ban future purchases of exotic animals, but allow those who currently have them to keep them, with new housing requirements. Is that going far enough?

Maryland considering new requirements on the sale of puppies in stores: The Maryland House of Delegates is considering new regulations on pet stores that sell puppies. The bill includes provisions for displaying the identity the breeders of each puppy, maintaining records of each sale and protections for people who buy sick puppies.

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council is supporting the bill, but only to a degree. The Colesville Patch quotes an organization rep as not so much liking the provision that might force stores to reimburse buyers three times the price of the purchase, for veterinary care. He fears this “would put a lot of pet dealers out of business.”

That statement jumps off the page. This seems to be an admission that a lot of puppies could fall into this category of being so ill the stores would have to pay up.

The legislation is a step in the right direction, but what we really need is a nationwide ban on the sale of dogs and cats (and some other animals) in stores. The purchase of a puppy or kitten should not equate to buying a toaster. Quality breeders have standards of care for customers and stand behind their practices to a degree that offers the buyer more than a very limited returned policy.

Quality breeders don’t sell puppies as if they were products off the shelf. Buying from a store brings a huge risk that the puppy came from a puppy mill.

But then again, adoption is the far better option.


Pethealth’s PetPoint Report shows slight improvement in shelter intake and euthanasia rates

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Pethealth, Inc has released its PetPoint report, with analysis on the data for the rate of shelter intakes and euthanasia for dogs and cats.

The data comes from approximately 1,770 animal-welfare organizations in the United States and Canada that use PetPoint to manage their day-to-day operations. The following numbers are based on comparisons with 2010 and 2011 numbers.

MarketWatch.com published the results, which offer better news for cats – notably a 6 percent drop in feline intakes,  including a 5 percent decline in owner surrenders and a 9 percent dip in stray cat intakes.

The figures for dogs was not quite as good – with an increased in dog adoptions of only 2 percent in 2011 and a decline in the euthanasia rate for dogs of 3 percent.

Hopefully, we can see these rates improve significantly going forward. But we should remember that any analysis of euthanasia rates and shelter intakes doesn’t include the dogs and cats that never make it into a shelter or are never saved by a rescue organization.

Until we see a significant rise in the number people who become aware of the importance of spaying and neutering and until we see laws and enforcement that shut down the entities that contribute monumentally to the over-population of homeless pets (puppy mills, greyhound racing, etc) the problem will continue.

Pack Line Headlines: Puppy mill rescue, animal welfare, exposing factory farming, homelessness

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Dozen of dogs removed from puppy mill: A customer reported an online breeder in Illinois which led to the pulling of 12 of the 41 dogs there on Monday.

The Aledo Times Record reports all of them had ear infection, some had periodontal disease two of suffered from rotting skin. Hopefully, we will continue to see more breeders like this uncovered.

Restaurant owner starts animal-welfare organization: The owner of two restaurants (that I would certainly have on my favorites list if I lived in the area) has founded Uniting to Save Animals (U2SA). The organization helps low-income residents in funding the cost of spaying and neutering their pets and promotes adoption from local shelters and rescue organizations in Maryland.

States trying to criminalizing whistle-blowers who expose animal cruelty on factory farms: News-Press.com out of Florida is rightfully going after the state legislatures that are trying to pass bills that would criminalize undercover video, audio or photos that expose animal cruelty on factory farms.

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AP-Petside Poll: 70 percent want limits on shelter euthanasia

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An AP-Petside reveals 7 out of 10 respondents would limit shelters from euthanizing healthy homeless pets and would allow this practice only in cases where the animals are too sick to be treated or too aggressive to be adopted.

I do have concerns for the dogs and cats turned away when the shelters reach capacity. We must understand the complexities of this topic. Until we have better regulations on entities such as puppy mills, kitten mills and greyhound racing, which by the nature of their operations produce homeless pets, we will continue to see homeless pets die.

The level of this problem varies by region of the country.

Yes – We need better programs to ensure the municipal shelters are using every means available to find homes for pets and we must attack the problem at the sources as well. People who refuse to spay and neuter their pets and then dump the puppies and kittens off local rescue groups and shelters must be held accountable.

I’m in full agreement with the 70 percent in this poll, but we can’t get there unless we face the problems from all aspects.

An article on Huffington Post includes some promising data on spay/neuter programs. — “” Before 1970, about 20 million animals were euthanized each year in this country. In 2011, fewer than 4 million abandoned animals were euthanized. “”

Four million is still a horrible number, but it shows reducing the birth rate through sterilization programs is a huge, key factor. No-Kill is the goal. We just have to get there – and getting there means using a comprehensive approach.