Tag Archives: St. Thomas Dog Blog

Animal Testing

Cover Girl, one of the biggest cosmetic lines, has stopped all animal testing of their products. This is such good news. There are still some caveats to think about, but hurray!

One caveat is “except where required by law” – which means China. But if they are putting pressure on China to change their policy – well, they’re a really big company capable of a lot of pressure.

Second caveat is the parent company Coty has not ceased animal testing in its other lines. But they say they are working toward it. That’s hopeful. So buy Cover Girl again? Maybe. If it shows them that their decision is one their potential customers want them to make. Then wait and see if they follow through with their other brands. If not, it’s time to stop buying and start writing letters.

fb-7-nov-18-coty animal testing statement
Click/tap to read Coty’s statement on animal testing

Below is a post I wrote for my St. Thomas Dog Blog in 2010. I have removed most discussion of specific cosmetic companies, including Cover Girl, because it is now outdated. For all brands, it’s best to google for information on current practice and changes in ownership.

Animal Testing (Oct. 14, 2010)

It’s very hard to buy products that are not tested on animals or made by companies that test on animals in at least some of their product lines.  In this, I am not talking about government-mandated animal testing on pharmaceuticals and medical products. I’m talking about cosmetics, hair products and household cleaning products.

I knew that L’Oreal still used animal testing for their cosmetics and hair products.  That made the news when L’Oreal bought The Body Shop, a company that prided itself on natural and cruelty-free products.  So even though the Body Shop did not test on animals, its new parent company did. So it too went on the animal testing boycott list.

I looked online then to try to find products that were not tested on animals.  The majority I found were brand names I’d never heard of or seemed to be available only in the US or online.  But I want to just go into a drugstore and buy what I want. Not so easy.  Physicians Formula is reliable for not testing on animals, but isn’t available in all stores.

But what about toothpaste, cleaning products or anything outside cosmetics and hair stuff? The biggies – that test on animals and make almost everything you have in your cupboards – are Proctor & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson.  P&G alone, just in cosmetics and skin care, owns Cover Girl, Max Factor (both bought by Coty) and Olay.  Crest and Colgate toothpastes are made by P&G and J&J.

Parent and source companies

The issue isn’t as simple does a company do it or not.  Some don’t do animal testing on some of their lines but do on others.  For example, P&G owns Clairol which makes Herbal Essences hair care products.  That line is not tested on animals, but others sold under the Clairol name are, as are products made and sold by the parent company P&G.  So while bunnies’ eyes are not burned out if you buy Herbal Essences, they’re being used to test other Clairol and P&G products.  And P&G isn’t losing your money due to their continued use of unnecessary animal testing. (P&G sold Clairol to Coty in 2015)

Also, some companies do not themselves use animals for testing their products, but they rely on research from companies that do.  So while their hands are technically clean, they are still supporting the use of animal testing.  At this point, product scientific research and formulation is pretty well-established.  All the animals that needed to be blinded or have their hair fall out have given their lives for our safe beautification.  Technology exists which can safely test products for human use without asking for animal sacrifice.

Who doesn’t do animal testing?

You can find a pretty comprehensive list of companies and brand that don’t use animal testing and those that do at caringconsumer.com.  It’s part of the PETA site and has well-organized lists of companies and product names.  I printed out the ones I needed and will be doing more animal-friendly shopping.

Also see my Make-up Trade Oct. 30/13 and Santa Bunny Dec. 6/12.

The black and white photo of the rabbit comes from P & G Kills, which provides good background on the company’s history of animal testing (available through Scribd).

The second photo used to be on the Wikipedia article on Animal Testing in the toxicity testing section. That has long relied on the Draize eye test.  In a nutshell, it means putting a substance in an animal’s eyes and waiting to see what happens.

Dog Park Groupies

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Sept. 24, 2010

three dogs by tree in dog parkThe St. Thomas Dog Owners Association is having its first annual general meeting in November.  All members are welcome – indeed urged to attend and become involved.  The Lions Club Dog Park needs ongoing involvement and commitment not just from the dogs who use it, but from their people too.

When I began going to the Hamilton Road dog park in London several years ago, I never thought about how it came to be.  It was just there, placed for my convenience and my dog’s entertainment.  I saw, and read, the rules.  But even the sign didn’t really make me think about who devised the rules, who put up the fencing, who kept the park clean.  Like the natural world, the dog park was just there.

Eventually I realized there was a London Dog Owners Association involved with the dog parks.  Even then, I didn’t put that fact together with the existence of the parks and their maintenance.  Not being a group person myself, I just thought some people just have to have something to join don’t they?

A St. Thomas Dog Park?

Now, at the same time as I started going to London’s dog park, I’d been thinking about how nice it would be if we had one in St. Thomas.  Indeed, a friend and I talked to City officials about it.  We were told it was possible if we raised money to contribute to the cost.  We also were told many other people had approached the City before for a dog park. So we got names of some of them. Then we thought about fund- and interest-raising efforts.  We printed flyers and collected names of interested people.   The names and dollars we raised became our small investment in a future dog park.

Then priorities changed for both my friend and me.  Our dogs got sick in the same year.  They were about the same age.  Wendy’s Doberman succumbed to a congenital heart problem.  My German Shepherd died a couple months later.  So during that year, a dog park was the last thing in our minds.

Lions Club St. Thomas Dog Park With her new Dobie pup, my friend met a group of people in town whose dogs liked to play together.  We also all had seen a petition around shops and on-line asking for a dog park.  When I again had dogs, I met all these people – those of the petition and those who met up.  Then I learned why there was a London Dog Owners Association.  Someone has to lobby and get approval for dog parks and get them constructed.

St. Thomas Dog Owners Association

In St. Thomas, our loose group of people who liked to hang out together with our dogs became the St. Thomas Dog Owners Association.  Lobbying, fund-raising, site selection, dog park needs – we learned a lot fast.  And we succeeded.  A year ago, City Council and dog owners approved a ravine site at the west end of St. Thomas as a fenced dog park.  But the construction of the dog park wasn’t the end of the need for a dog owners association.

There has to be monitoring of the park and its amenities, landscaping improvements, negotiation and resolution of disputes and improvement of facilities.  Money is always needed, for small things like poop bags and large things like lights.

Dog Park Community

What I learned from watching our dog park from its inception to operation is that a dog park is not just a fenced field where dogs run loose.  It’s a community.  And, like all communities, it works best with involvement and commitment to its well-being by all its members.  Some dogs become best friends, some don’t like each other, some are territorial about what they consider “their” park, others are happy to see newcomers so they can make new friends.  Pretty much the same can be said about the people.

I no longer am really a member of our dog park community.  My one dog eats poop, so taking him there is like letting a druggie loose in the pharmacy.  My other dog really just wants to run by himself in “his” field: he doesn’t play well with others.  So, other than through the STDOA, we have little involvement with the park.  It’s unfortunate, at least for me.  I enjoy the people, the dogs, the atmosphere.  It’s nice to see friends, both four- and two-legged.

field at bottom of hillIf you and your dog enjoy the dog park, please join the STDOA, stand for office, vote, volunteer to help out where and when you can.  As I found out, dog parks don’t run themselves.

The next regular meeting of the STDOA is Oct. 30, 2018. Go to stdoa.ca for details. Also see Luanne Demers, Founding President for my tribute to our group’s driving force.

They shouldn’t have pets

You may hear people say “people who need help from food banks shouldn’t have pets.” If you can’t afford to feed your animal/your kids/yourself you can’t afford a pet. Easy to say. You could, however, also say if you can’t afford to feed your kids, you shouldn’t have them.girl and cat closeup wikicommons

You may have decided to have kids when things were going well in your life, you had a partner, you had a job, money. Then you lost the job, you lost your partner. You can’t afford to house or feed those kids properly anymore. What do you do with them then?

Depending on the age of your kids and how well behaved they are, you probably could find homes for them. You may not find one person to take them all, but if you split them up, you might find enough homes. If they’re too old, not cute enough or badly behaved, well, you could be in a pickle. Maybe in a year’s time you’ll have a new job and be back on your feet and can afford the kids again. But what do you do during that time?

This isn’t likely to happen, or be expected, for kids. There’s welfare and child benefits. There are food banks – aid that started within communities because governmental help often didn’t adequately meet the need to keep body and soul together.US Navy help at food banks - commons.wikimedia.org

What if they got a dog when they were doing well? Should they have to get rid of their pet? Where is that dog going to go if they do? Killing (“euthanasia”) is a legal option for getting rid of healthy happy pets, but not a desirable one. The pound? Shelters? At least maybe the animals live, but it’s a high emotional and financial cost for all involved.

Help from food banks for kids and pets

Then a year later when those people are back on track financially, what do they do then? Probably go out and get another dog. Why not help them keep that first dog during the bleak time? Anyone who ever had a pet – even a goldfish – as a child knows how Mitten tree Carroll Co. Public Schools Marylandimportant that animal was to their young life. So even if you don’t care about animals or about adults who can’t make ends meet, think, as they say, about the children. The trauma of losing a beloved pet in any way in childhood is never forgotten.

We don’t bat an eyelid at people needing help feeding their children. When we shop, we buy an extra can of tuna for the food bank bin. We enjoy making up parcels to donate to Christmas Care. We buy for toy drives and mitten trees. So why would we begrudge a family a can of cat food or a pack of dog treats?

As a whole, we believe it is in society’s best interests – politically, socially and financially – to keep families intact. Those families may well include pets – indeed maybe should.

Pets are more than extra mouths to feed. They provide comfort, therapy, exercise and a reason to greet the day. We, individually and as a society, owe them as much as they owe us.

Obamas with Bo, White House lawn, commons.wikipedia.orgJobs and relationships can come and go, but the love of your dog or cat is steadfast. That is a lesson many of us learn as children. But some of us forget it. It’s worth remembering. So too, when thinking about someone needing help feeding their kids and pets, it’s worth remembering, “there but for the grace of God, go I.”

First posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog on Sept. 23, 2011.

Can’t keep your pet?

I took this from Facebook and shortened it some. Be warned: it is a chilling story. If you haven’t got time or money for a pet, don’t get one. But if you do have, please consider adopting one – or another one. (From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Apr. 10, 2011.)

St. Thomas Times-Journal ad for animals at City Shelter, Apr 7/11 shelter manager

You can’t keep your pet? Really? By A Shelter Director (Everywhere)

Edited by MuttShack.org (Click title for the entire Facebook post)

As a shelter manager, I am going to share a view from the inside. Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would stop flagging the ads on craigslist and help these animals find homes. That puppy you just bought will most likely end up in my shelter when it’s not a cute little puppy anymore.

They always tell me “We just don’t want to have to stress about finding a place for her. We know she’ll get adopted, she’s a good dog.” There’s a 90% chance she won’t leave the shelter alive. Purebred or not! About 25% of “owner surrenders” or “strays” that come into a shelter are purebred dogs.

72 hours

Your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off. Sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn’t full and your dog stays completely healthy. If it sniffles, it dies.

Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it. If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk. If I don’t, your pet won’t get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose.

Big, black or Bully breed

Black_dog_looks_up_at_the_camera_17-08-2004-Andre-Engels-wikicommonsIf your dog is big, black or any of the “Bully” breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc.) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door. Those dogs just don’t get adopted, no matter how ‘sweet’ or ‘well behaved’ they are.

If your dog doesn’t get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed. If the shelter isn’t full and your dog is good enough and of a desirable enough breed it may get a stay of execution, but not for long.

Most dogs get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression. Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment. If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles, chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because the shelter gets paid a fee to euthanize each animal and making money is better than spending money to take this animal to the vet.

Euthanasia 101

Here’s a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being “put-down”. First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to “The Room”, every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes when we get to the door. It must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there. It’s strange, but it happens with every one of them.

Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 shelter workers depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a shelter worker who we call a euthanasia tech (not a vet) finds a vein in the front leg and injects a lethal dose of the “pink stuff”. Hopefully your pet doesn’t panic and jerk. I’ve seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and been deafened by the yelps and screams. They all don’t just “go to sleep”, sometimes they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves.

No money for tranquilizers

Shelters are trying to make money to pay employees and don’t forget the board of directors needs to be paid too. So we don’t spend our funds to tranquilize the animal before injecting them with the lethal drug. We just put the burning lethal drug in the vein and let them suffer until dead. If it were not a “making money issue” and we had a licensed vet do this procedure, the animal would be sedated and then euthanized. But this would cost more so we do not follow what is right for the animal. We just follow what is the fastest way we can make a dollar. Even if it takes our employee 50 pokes with a needle and 3 hours to get the vein, that is what we do. Making money is the issue here not losing money.

Stacked like firewood

When it all ends, your pet’s corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer with all of the other animals that were killed. What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? Or used for the schools to dissect and experiment on? You’ll never know and it probably won’t even cross your mind. It was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right?

I hate my job

I deal with this every day. I hate my job; I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless people make some changes. Do your homework, and know exactly what you are getting into before getting a pet.

A_lost_dog-28-Apr-2010-Beverly-and-Pack-wikicommons
“This girl was once loved and lived in a home with a couple, even sleeping with them in their bed. The woman discovered she was pregnant and they dumped the dog at the pound, stating they did not care what happened to her. This beautiful girl’s name is Bryndelyn.” – Beverly & Pack, Wikimedia Commons

Animal shelters are an easy way out when you get tired of your dog or cat. Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I just hope I maybe changed one person’s mind about taking their dog to a shelter, a humane society, or buying a dog. Please repost this to at least one other craiglist in another city/state. Let’s see if we can get this all around the US and have an impact.

Best in Show

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, January 23, 2011. The 2018 Elgin County Kennel Club dog show will be in October. Lots of other dog, and cat, shows too. To get in the mood, watch Cat Walk, a cat show documentary, Sunday, April 1st on CBC 9 pm ET.

Poodle getting final groomingThe Elgin County Kennel Club dog show this weekend at the Western Fairgrounds was great. So many beautiful dogs. I took a gazillion pictures and petted a gazillion dogs. So did everybody else there, at least the audience.

Poodle pup playing while waiting for classThe handlers had other things on their minds, and so did the dogs. However some of them, like the poodle pups, still found time to act silly outside the show ring.

For the second year now, the London rescue group ARF was there. They said they’d been warmly received. That’s good. There’s too long been a disconnect between the dog show world and the dog rescue world. That’s unfortunate because as any rescue group can attest, especially maybe breed specific rescues, any dog can end up in bad straits – even dogs with the best pedigree. Many breeders are active in rescue work through their breed associations or breed-specific rescue groups. ARF works mainly with mongrels and it was nice to see the two ends of the dog fancy world under the same roof.

Dogs and people wait backstage at dog showThere were lots of vendors there, selling grooming supplies and other dog products. One man I talked to had beautiful handmade leather leashes and collars (The Wag, Inc. London ON). His magnificent young German-bred German Shepherd was with him, not taking part in the show just modeling the leatherwear.

Inclusive Breed Surveys

While we talked about German Shepherds, Tibor told me about  German show and breeding standards for working dogs. There’s a breed survey that all dogs must undergo. In addition to the basic conformation standards that apply to physical appearance and health, it is an assessment of a dog’s character and temperament. The dog’s actions and reactions when in “protection” situations, for example, are measured.

A dog passes or fails and, in Germany, the tests determine what grade for showing and breeding that dog and its offspring will be given. Pups from a parent that passed the tests will be given the highest classification. They, therefore, can be sold for higher prices for breeding and showing. Dogs who fail the tests cannot be used for breeding.

Judging non-sporting classTesting like this seems to me to be a good way to help ensure continuation of good bloodlines. This is important not only for looks but also for physical health and temperament.

Responsible breeders test for genetic problems such as hip dysplasia in order to get rid of the problem. Breeding without such concern caused many of the breed-specific ailments in the first place. Temperament problems – too excitable, Photography Best Puppy winnertoo nervous, too aggressive – can be caused by too much emphasis on looks in breeding choices. Good breeders pay attention to all aspects of dogs’ health. And a dog show gives the chance to strut their stuff.

Also see my Cat Show for ‘strutting their stuff’, cat style.

Druggie Pets

First posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog, 3 Nov. 2010.

Filmmaker Patrick Reed was on CBC Radio’s Q, talking about his new film, Pet Pharm. (It is no longer online, but Hye’s Musings has a good post about the film.) It is about the booming business in pharmaceuticals – for pets.

The pharmaceuticals for people industry is already huge, and increasingly so for pets. Michael Schaffer, in his book One Nation Under Dog, has a chapter on it (see Fur Babies post.)

Drugs are possibly a big part of the $47 billion that Americans will spend on their pets in the next year (that figure comes from a trivia question on freekibble.com). Maybe it is money that would be better spent on starving children in the world, as Patrick Reid obliquely suggests.

And maybe that’s a comparison that is really beside the point. Maybe the money spent each year on psychoactive drugs, big screen tvs, Xboxes, running shoes and high-end jeans for North American adults and children would also be better used feeding and healing malnourished children.

Cat Drugs

cat stress-licking photo d stewartI have had a bit of experience with psychoactive drugs for cats lately. One cat has been picked on by another ever since she was a tiny kitten. As a result, she developed obsessive-compulsive licking to the point of open, bleeding wounds. Her veterinarian thought at first it was mites or allergies so she had some tests and strict diet control. We tried a drug for allergies that worked a bit. Then more open sores. I became convinced it was stress, maybe compounded by skin sensitivity. We then tried a dog and cat “tricyclic antidepressant” called Clomicalm. It worked for a while. Made her very sleepy, but when she was sleeping she couldn’t lick herself. Then the calming effect of it started to wear off. She needed more and more of it. There’s only so much you can safely give.

Cat's belly photo d stewartI saw no cure short of a change of home for one or other of them. But that didn’t seem a likely option. Finding a home for any adult cat is difficult. But a ten year old not awfully pleasant one? Or a formerly feral cat scared of anyone except us? Euthanasia for one or other of them? I considered it. Life for the young one was not good, but another home likely wouldn’t be an improvement for her. The old one had less life ahead of her, but did she deserve to die because she doesn’t like other cats? No. But the stress of one cat licking herself raw and the other hissing, spitting and attacking was making me want to stress-lick or tranquilize myself.

Bottled Happy Cat

In desperation, I called my vet. “Give me drugs – the strongest you’ve got. Some for me while you’re at it. I don’t care if we’re all comatose as long as this stops.”  “Well, there is something new we’ve got,” she said. “It’s called Feliway and it’s like a room air-freshener.” “I’m on my way.” She said it’s essentially the pheromone that cats exude when they’re happy, put in a bottle. There’s also a dog version, D.A.P., advertised in Pets Magazine, a good Canadian magazine you can get free at vet clinics.

Cat reaching up for a treat, not drugsFor a year now, I’ve kept a Feliway diffuser in the hallway. It works. The fights haven’t stopped, the stress-licking still happens. But, overall, there’s peace in the valley. There are tricks to using the Feliway effectively, and when things go wrong, they go very wrong very quickly.  (For example, don’t put it close to their water or food.)

Happier Cat

When the little cat went for her shots this year, the vet was distressed to see the raw welts on her belly. She’d forgotten how bad she looked before. I told her I wasn’t worried because her belly and her attitude were so much better than before. Both the cat and I could live with some sores. She probably will have them for as long as the old cat is alive. And knowing that cat, I imagine it will be a good few years more.

So do I think giving psychoactive drugs to pets is bad, wasteful or the lazy way out of behavioural problems? No, not if that is the only solution aside from euthanasia and if a better home for the animal isn’t a viable option. It shouldn’t be the first method tried and it shouldn’t be seen as “normal”, any more than having every kid hopped up on Ritalin should be seen as a normal response to over-exuberance.

Cat Show

Tomorrow, Oct. 22, is the London Cat Show at Western Fairgrounds (Canada Building 9-4:30). I went to it in 2011 and wrote the following in my St. Thomas Dog Blog.

close up of cat being judged at western fairgroundsThe good news for me with last Sunday’s STDOA meeting being cancelled was I got to go to the PAWSitive PAWS Cat Show at London’s Western Fairgrounds.

Many years ago, I went to a cat show.  I found it very funny, mainly because no one else – exhibitors, judges or cats – did.  Long slinky Siamese held, stretched out like a skein of yarn, glowering at the crowd like a supermodel.  No one noticing the face of disdain, just the markings and body shape.

At Sunday’s show, cats were held up, stretched full length.  They also were played with, ears ruffled, and talked to by the judges.  A long feather teaser acted as an intelligence test, and sure enough while most cats saw it flick behind the judge’s shoulders, some looked around like “where’d it go?”  It was funny, and fun.judge holding up Cornish Rex

Nice things that I don’t remember from the show years ago (but might have been there) are the competition category for household pets and the presence of cat rescue groups.

Categories of competition

There are four categories of competition and four “best of” winners.  Cat breeders compete in the Championship Class for unneutered pedigreed adult cats.  The Premiership Class is for neutered and spayed (“altered”) pedigreed cats.  Obviously, wins by these cats will not increase the monetary value of their progeny, but the prestige is Bengal cat nappingstill there.  There’s the Kitten Class for registered breeds 4 to 8 months.  And there’s the Household Pet Class.  Your old moggie can compete with the best of them, mixed breed and purebred, here.

What’s nice about the Household Pet Class, I think, is that cats must be neutered or spayed and must have their claws.  The cats I saw competing ranged from a very pretty little silver and white “girly” cat to a big old cat with lopsided black and white markings and wonderful tomcat head.  There was a grey tabby who looked just like my Yeti.  But while I was thinking maybe I should enter her, the judge Cornish Rex on lapexplained that part of what he’s looking for is temperament – “it’s not good if they try to bite me.”  Rules out Yeti, I thought.

Exhibitors lined half the Special Events Building, with nylon mesh carriers housing their cats between appearances in one of the five rings. They were happy to let visitors look, even pet their cats.  But it’s serious business, so you have to make sure you’re not in the way or bothering an animal gearing up for the show ring.

Cat Rescue and Cat Merch

On the other side of the hall were booths with pet food, grooming supplies, cat toys, cat beds and litter boxes.  Scattered among them were cat rescue groups.  Our local Animal Aide was there, along with Animalert and Cats R Us from London.  The rescue groups can’t bring cats with them, but they had poster boards with photos of their cats.

Somali kittenA rescue woman said it was odd being there with cat breeders.  Kind of cross-purposes, she said.  Yes and no, I thought.  Good cat breeders love cats, and a particular breed is their hobby or life’s work.  But they want their – and all – cats treated properly.  And that’s the same objective as rescue groups.

It was a good chance to learn a lot about breeds of cats.  It was informative and informal and fun.

Redemption: Shelter Plan B

Nathan Winograd with cat Shelter Plan BMy impression after reading about Nathan Winograd is that it’s animal shelters that need redemption. He is Director of the No Kill Advocacy Center in the US and is giving a lecture and workshop at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre Apr. 14th [2012] . I don’t get star-struck that often, but this sounds like one very impressive man.

In 1993-94, he turned the San Francisco SPCA from a kill processing plant to a shelter where animals got homes. Killing healthy animals “declined 100 percent” and for sick or injured animals “it declined by about 50 percent” (Redemption). He did the same at the Tompkins County SPCA in upstate New York.

Are these places with less of an ‘animal problem’? Not likely. If you can do that in San Francisco, heart of ‘disposable land’, or upstate NY amid wilderness that people would see as perfect for dumping Fluffy, you can do it anywhere! Here is how Mr. Winograd looks at shelter management, from a 2007 article by Christie Keith.

“If … motherless kittens are killed because the shelter doesn’t have a comprehensive foster care program, that’s not pet overpopulation. That’s the lack of a foster care program.

Amazon link for Redemption
Buy on Amazon

“If adoptions are low because people are getting those dogs and cats from other places because the shelter isn’t doing outside adoptions (adoptions done off the shelter premises), that’s a failure to do outside adoptions, not pet overpopulation.

“…If animals are killed because working with rescue groups is discouraged, again, that’s not pet overpopulation. If dogs are going cage-crazy because volunteers and staff aren’t allowed to socialize them, and then those dogs are killed because they’re quote-unquote “cage crazy,” because the shelter doesn’t have a behavior rehabilitation program in place, once again, that’s not pet overpopulation; that’s the lack of programs and services that save lives.”

Animal Shelter Plan B

Commonsense, when you approach it from the shelter side of the equation. “If a community is still killing the majority of shelter animals, it is because the local SPCA, humane society, or animal control shelter has fundamentally failed in its mission… And this failure is nothing more than a failure of leadership. The buck stops with the shelter’s director.”

Lab looking out from shelter pen, Wikimedia Commons, NhandlerHe describes his second day at the Tompkins Co. SPCA. “’My staff informed me that our dog kennels were full and since a litter of six puppies had come in, I needed to decide who was going to be killed in order to make space. I asked for ‘Plan B’; there was none. I asked for suggestions; there were none.’

“He spoke directly to his staff, saying, ‘Volunteers who work with animals do so out of sheer love. They don’t bring home a paycheck. So if a volunteer says, ‘I can’t do it,’ I can accept that from her. But staff members are paid to save lives. If a paid member of staff throws up her hands and says, ‘There’s nothing that can be done,’ I may as well eliminate her position and use the money that goes for her salary in a more constructive manner. So what are we going to do with the puppies that doesn’t involve killing?’”  Wow.

Nathan Winograd’s publications:

Welcome Home: An animal rights perspective on living with dogs & cats

Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America

Irreconcilable Differences: The battle for the heart and soul of America’s animal shelters

All American Vegan: Veganism for the Rest of Us

Friendly Fire

Reforming Animal Control/Building a No Kill Community Resource CD.

1 day body count of dog and cat corpses in 50 gal drums at pound
1 day body count at pound – click image to go to Imagine blog

First posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Aug. 5, 2012. See comments below.

Wilma the Cat

In honour of Wilma, cat colony princess, who died yesterday in St. Thomas ON. Reposted from St. Thomas Dog Blog, March 29, 2012.Wilma and other cats 2016

Wilma was a homeless cat who was instrumental in the creation of the Charity Cat Project. That initiative has provided food, shelter and neutering to innumerable feral and stray St. Thomas cats. Charity Cat and other rescue groups worked with St. Thomas City Council in establishing animal welfare programmes. Among these are low-cost pet neutering and maintenance of feral cat colonies. So, Wilma, thank you.

Wilma's broken front toothWilma had surgery to remove her damaged teeth and a hernia in her abdomen. She’s recovering nicely. She has domesticated herself and it seems she would love to live indoors. But in her present home, there are dogs who really wouldn’t do well with her presence inside. So a foster or, ideally, a permanent home for her would be wonderful. Contact ABCR or me if you have a place in your home or barn for a lovely cat.*

Turns out she was already spayed, so she had been lost or abandoned. I don’t know which, but there are a lot of Wilmas in our city. They need help. There are also a lot of truly feral cats who Wilma 2012 likely will never allow themselves to be tamed. They too need help.

It’s not just helping the cats. It’s helping people. Having feral cats around their houses distresses cat lovers. Cat haters certainly don’t like cats hanging around. And unneutered cats produce kittens, usually twice a year. So that one cat who’s taken up residence in your back yard is going to produce more, and those kittens will also reproduce. You start out with one stray moggie and, before you know it, you’re in Cat City.

TNR for feral cats

Trapping wild cats and having them fixed is a time-consuming and Drowsy Wilma sitting in suncostly business. I know, I’ve done it. And if you do remove those cats, in all likelihood, more will simply come and occupy the territory. That will happen whether you feed them or not. Homeless cats need somewhere to settle and your backyard might seem as good as anywhere to them. So better to keep those you know, and are neutered, than constantly have new ones moving in and establishing their claim.

St. Thomas needs a TNR programme – trap, neuter, return – for wild cats. Other cities have such programmes or services in place and we have just as many feral cats as anywhere else. Wilma’s person Wilma eating on porchcounted the cats in the gully near their house a month ago: 103 that she saw. That’s before this spring’s litters of kittens are born.

St. Thomas also needs a programme to subsidize spay and neuter costs for dogs and cats of people who cannot afford the full price. Again, many other cities have such subsidy programmes or low-cost clinics offered so many times a year.

Spay/Neuter – please!

It seems cheaper to just have the kittens or puppies than to have your pet neutered. It’s not; it just spreads the costs over a longer period of time – once or twice a year for as long as the animal lives. Neutering is cheaper for all of us just in costs to municipalities of caring for, or killing, unwanted pets.

Abcess on Wilma's gumsPeople have contributed to Wilma’s medical costs, but her rescuers are still footing over half the bill themselves. So if you can help, please contact ABCR or me. And let’s start helping all the Wilmas by setting up a spay/neuter subsidy fund. We’ve seen over the past year, with STDOA’s Caring Pet Cupboard, that our community will help people feed their pets.  Now let’s move on to the big task: preventing unwanted puppies and kittens.

*Wilma stayed where she was, for which everyone she knew is thankful. She will be greatly missed by her people and her cats. You can see her legacy on the Charity Cat Facebook page.

Training at the Dog Park

This week in May 2010, we in the St. Thomas Dog Owners Association were doing a final spit and polish on our new Lions Club Dog Park.

The Lions Club Dog Park had its grand opening on the May 24th weekend – one day of rain, one day of beautiful sunshine. A pretty good time though, I thought.

Recall Training

I picked up some pointers on dog training from Anne MacDonald of K-9 Concepts Saturday afternoon. She gave a workshop on recall training, one of the hardest and most important things to teach.recall training by Anne MacDonald St. Thomas dog park

My two are pretty good about coming when called, if they feel like it. And that, of course, is the problem. If they don’t feel like coming when called, it’s because they’re doing something way more interesting like chasing a rabbit or, in Leo’s case, eating poop – things I don’t want them doing. So your objective is to make coming to you a better option for them, and make them believe you have the power to make them come even if they don’t to.

The ‘carrot’ part of this is lots of good treats. Don’t be stingy, Anne said. Give them lots of the really yummy treats for a good recall. Many people, she said, give just the same amount of treat for a sit, a shake paw or a recall. With the recall, because it’s so important, give more and make a huge fuss over them for doing it well. I make a big fuss, but I just give the same small amount of treat that I do for anything else.

I worry about them gaining weight from too much “junk food” so only give them a teensy bit of dried liver or whatever as a treat. But I hadn’t thought about it from their perspective – why should I interrupt this interesting thing I’m doing for the sliver of treat she’s got. So now, lots of treats, different kinds of treats, lots of hugs and fuss. We’ll see how it works.

Be a slot machine

Anne MacDonald at Lions Club Dog Park“Be a slot machine, not a vending machine,” Anne said about training. Sometimes they get a lot, sometimes they get a little, sometimes they get nothing – they never know for sure. So like people sitting for hours feeding coins into a slot machine, hoping against hope that it will give the big payoff, a dog will be more inclined to keep coming back in hopes of hitting a mother lode of treats.*

But don’t do it every time. If the dog knows you’re going to give a treat every time, after the first time you don’t, the dog might treat you like a broken vending machine. If it doesn’t produce, you don’t go back to it. When Leo knows I’ve run out of treats (which he seems to have a sixth sense about), he thinks about whether he’s going to come back or not. If he feels like it, he might but not with as much alacrity as when he knows there’s a treat waiting. If he doesn’t feel like it, well, he doesn’t until he’s ready.

The long leash

When they don’t feel like coming back, that’s when you need the “I am all-powerful” tool. Anne uses a long lead, a soft rope much longer than a regular leash. Just let the dog drag it (obviously not in brush areas where the dog can get caught up). Give the recall command, if dog doesn’t react, say it again and step on the leash. Don’t go to the dog, pull the leash back to you.

Keep the treats in your pocket, not your hand. But act fast when the dog comes back. “Good dog”, pats and hugs then quick-quick into your pocket and treat to dog. That reinforces the connection between the dog’s action and the reward, but lessens the chance of the treat being a bribe instead of a reward. That’s where my training with Leo fell down.

Leo saw the treat in my hand often enough that he started looking for it before he’d decide whether or not to do what I asked. With him, it’s not even a case of bribery, it’s more like negotiation. With Charlie too, it’s negotiation. If he knows I’ve got treats he really likes, he’s more likely to do what I ask. If he doesn’t like them, he just sniffs the treat and walks on past. So for recall especially, have ones they like a lot.

Competitiveness

Sometimes they get into competition to see who can get to me faster. Anne says you can use that competitiveness in training, and reward only the winner. The dog who does it right gets the treats and the big fuss. The other gets nothing. I have a hard time doing that, the other one looks so pitiful that I end up giving him a treat Charlie doing recalland pat too. She says be tough so they see that if they don’t do the work, they don’t get the prize.

So I learned a lot, mainly how much I’ve let “pretty good” be good enough for me. As a result of my back-sliding, my very willing-to-learn poodle is only about halfway to well-trained. My smart but obstinate terrier pays attention and then does what he wants. Both of them like playing “the training game” as they see it. And both have learned a lot since we’ve had them. Now I’m going to do my part to help them learn more. Thank you, Anne, for some helpful tips and reminders.

First posted May 25, 2010 on the St. Thomas Dog Blog.

* On CBC’s The Current, Mon. May 15/17, Adam Alter, author of Irresistible: The rise of addictive technology and the business of keeping us hooked, said about social media likes: “This idea that a reward is just within reach but it’s never guaranteed. Paradoxically when you guarantee someone a reward, they get bored and they stop doing something quite quickly, whereas when you build in just a small dose of uncertainty… is very hard for humans to resist.”