animal rescue, dog rescue, foster dogs

Retractable leashes. Yay or Nay?

ElvisMylo

Retractable leashes seem to be the go-to leash for just about everyone these days except for dog trainers and people who know better. Retractable leashes are those that you can let out or reel in like a fishing line if you don’t want little Fluffy to wander too far from you. I’ve seen them extend out to more than 10 feet. Ughhh… These leashes give the dog confusing messages on boundaries and limitations. This time you allow your little furball to walk out the full 10 feet, but then you reel him back and before you know it you have a four-legged yo-yo at the end of your arm. The dog’s confused. You’re confused. It’s a mess.

Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive on consistency. Besides not being consistent with your message about how far out in front you allow the dog to walk, they are also a danger to yourself, the dog, and others. Have you ever had your dog wind herself around your legs as you’re trying to walk down the sidewalk? She didn’t do it on purpose, but the 10 feet of line can be pretty entangling just by itself nevermind adding an excited dog to the mix. Besides being a trip hazard how much control do you really have over the dog when using a retractable leash? Not much is the answer. A walk for a dog is akin to a hunt for them. The leash is used to maintain that physical link between you and your dog. The yo-yo effect from a retractable leash takes the control away from you and gives it all to the 10 or 75 lb family pet at the end of the leash. Some vet clinics do not allow retractable leashes in their clinics for this very reason.

The best type of leash is one that is sturdy and comfortable for both you and your four-legged companion. Dogs are not born knowing how to walk on a leash and like any skill needs to be taught correctly. Starting out with a 4-foot leash is a good place to begin. A training collar, also known as a Martingale, can be used as it will allow you to use slight changes in the pressure on the neck to let the dog know if a correction is being made. They should be used under the supervision of a trainer and never left on unattended as they may strangle the dog if it were to be caught on a fence or other object. A Martingale is different than a prong collar.

There are tons of DIY videos online on how to teach a dog how to walk on a leash, but as with any training tool, it is only as good as the presenter. Finding a certified trainer in your local area is always the best way to go. Training means consistency and it doesn’t end when the lessons are over. Success or failure happens at home. Take notes and ask questions. A relaxed walk with your dog in the evening after a nice supper is the best way to end the day.

animal rescue, cat rescue, dog rescue, foster, fosterme.org

How I ended up in the crazy world of rescue.

20161031_143415My pilgrimage into the sometimes crazy, but never boring world of animal rescue started as a kid with the baby bunnies my mother would find while she mowed the knee-deep grass in the backyard. Both of my parents worked full-time jobs so if one was off and the day was half-way sunny, the grass would be cut. As myself and my siblings grew older we would take over the mowing and just like mom, we would also find the new spring bunnies.

Mom would let us bring them inside and it was our job to feed and care for them as to such time they were old enough to be released back outside into the woodpile that provided the only real protection from the outdoor cats we had prowling the neighborhood and therefore our yard. This process repeated itself every spring for some years and in addition to our wildlife rehabbing we also had the regularly prescribed pets kids usually have when growing up: dogs, cats, and the occasional fish.

There were a few times that we ended up with birds, but not the kind you buy at the pet store after pestering your parents and promising that you would feed and water your new pet forever and ever. Mom knew this promise would only last a week until we grew tired and surprised that our new best friend can’t live on air alone. After that week she would have to add it to the list of daily chores which ranked up pretty close to keeping us kids alive. I think the pigeon we brought home with a broken wing whom we affectionately named Junior was the last straw.

Fast forward to a few years ago when I saw a post on Facebook about a “pardon” going to happen at the animal shelter in the county of the state I had relocated to in my adult years. Two things crossed my mind and piqued my interest. The first is what is a pardon at an animal shelter mean and where was the shelter that Google Maps told me was a 15-minute drive from my house. Of course, being in a rural part of the state 15 minutes usually has you out in the middle of a cornfield and this was pretty much where this one was located. Actually, it was next to the county dump so I soon found that during the sweltering summer months that only south Alabama could produce, I needed to pray heavily that the wind would blow in the opposite direction of where I was. So now on to what is a pardon.

I showed up that Saturday morning not knowing what to expect or even where to park as nothing remarkable stood out from the place. A chainlink fence, two buildings that came from different time periods in history and lots of noise. The noise was that of only what a group of 80 or so dogs can make at once. I wasn’t sure what they were howling, barking, whining, and baying at, but I soon found a group of people standing in front of one of the buildings waiting for something to happen. I walked across the parking lot towards the noise of the dogs (and a few cats I later discovered) and quietly joined the crowd. Someone whispered asking me what rescue I was from and I had to answer none. I was just a regular person who saw the post on Facebook and was curious. As it turned out that was the best answer anyone could give.

The pardon was just that, a pardon. This shelter I was standing at was the county’s animal control facility and had recently been taken over by a new director. The dichotomy of the operation was unusual in that the facility and the property were owned by the county, but the staff were state employees. The Director wanted to change the way the place operated and reached out a well-known person in the animal rescue world for some help. Shane’s War agreed to come and help with the agreement that during the time he and his friends were there all the animals on the property and all that were brought in during the few days they were there would be spared the needle. Shane’s War was successful with other shelters so here he was to help this one. He gets the word out and networks to find homes. Shane and his crew have a dedicated group of followers. On this trip, he found a home for a group of feral cats that were slated to be euthanized because they were not house cat material.

A local news crew was there to capture the moment the pardon was signed by all in attendance and the congratulatory slaps on the backs by the politicians who are always ready to take credit for someone else’s hard work. As the crowd shuffled up one by one to sign their name with the sharpie marker forever becoming a piece of shelter history, I found myself next in line. Not wanting to awkwardly step aside while everyone was watching I stepped forward and signed my name on the next blank spot.

I had planned on getting back in the car and going home, but the same person who earlier had asked me what rescue I was with asked if I wanted to stay and help out. Not having anything else to do that day I agreed and before I knew it I was given a tour of the place (as small as it was it was pretty much a drive-by tour, walk-thru the maze of corridors in the old building trying not to get lost and thinking that I really needed to keep some crackers in my pocket to leave a trail) and handed a leash. I guess I looked like I knew how to walk a dog. Good thing I really did.

I ended up staying through lunch and into the afternoon, only finally climbing back into my car when the gates were ready to be locked and the lights shut off for the day. I was hooked from that point on and became a full-time volunteer for nearly two years walking dogs and teaching basic manners, e.g. leash walking, sit, stay, come, etc., to help them find a home. I helped out from time to time in the cat rooms, but the rooms were so small that more than two people at any one time was a crowd. I prefer dogs to crowds on any given day.

During my time there I took pictures and videos of the new arrivals from the local animal control officers and posted them online to help reunite them with their people. The shelter did not have a social media manager so I started following their Facebook page and answering questions for people who lost pets and were hoping they were there. This was the time when I also started answering questions from rescues both instate and out of state about the animals. This county has a breed ban and the choice for those unfortunate dogs was either having a rescue take them or be euthanized. The Director wanted to give every animal an equal chance of being saved so he consulted with trainers to help evaluate the dogs. Behavior in a shelter is different than behavior in a home environment and he understood that. The euthanasia rate for dogs dropped dramatically during his tenure. The rate for cats dropped as well, but not as much as we would have hoped for. This county has no leash laws or requirements for animals to be altered and we all have seen the statistics on how fast cats procreate. One cat can produce 100 kittens in her lifetime if she goes into heat just 3 times a year and has on average 8 kittens per litter. And that’s if she only lives to about 5 years of age. Can you see the problem now?

Two of the best days I had there was on a Saturday morning when 10 dogs were adopted in a 4 hour period. The staff agreed to stay late to process the paperwork. That was the most adoptions in one day that they had ever had. The second best day started out on a sad note when I walked in and one of the staff told me that they had 18 cats, mostly kittens, that she was going to have to euthanize after lunch because they needed the cages for new cats that had just been brought in. Great. So what am I supposed to do in only 3 hours and with 18 cats? I sat on the tailgate of my truck in the parking lot (the only place I had a wi-fi signal which I’m pretty sure was wheezed off the farm across the street or the county dump behind me) while the sky politely drizzled a healthy dose of  liquid sunshine on me and got to work emailing, calling, and tagging every person I could think of and find who I thought may be able to help.

As the time for the 18 quickly ran down, I had a few responses and even a commitment from a rescue to drive 2 hours that afternoon and take the 13 kittens. That left 5 cats still to save. I asked for an extension for all the cats while the rescue made the drive. It was granted, but only until 4 pm because if any were euthanized it had to be done during the normal operating hours of the county dump so they could take the bodies there to be disposed of. Another rescue answered and committed to two of the adult cats. By the end of the day, 15 of the original 18 were saved from the needle. I failed the remaining 3, but that just made me want to continue helping to the best of my abilities.

I never thought about creating a website, but fostering is what saved those kittens and cats that day and there are several sites dedicated to finding adopters, but none to finding temporary homes for animals that would otherwise be put down to make room for the next batch of incoming strays. I admin on several rescue and lost/found Facebook pages and try and match up lost to found posts as well as the ever-popular “I’m moving and someone needs to take the dog/cat or I am taking it to the shelter today” or “I’m pregnant and due in a week so I don’t have time for the dog”. Nevermind they’ve had the dog for the last 8 months and now decide they can’t have a baby and a dog at the same time. With that in mind, I created this website and blog as a graduate school project and the response so far has been very positive so I am running with it. Several of the animals profiled on here since it went live in February have already found either a foster or an adopter. You can also follow this blog on Twitter (@fostermeorg) as well as on Facebook. The shelter I volunteered at changed hands and the dog euthanasia rate has skyrocketed thanks in part to the breed ban and the fear of being sued for adopting or returning a dog that may or may not bite someone.

Thank you for reading my blog and I hope to see you on Twitter and Facebook. If you have any comments or want to know more about fostering in your area, I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

animal rescue, dog rescue, foster, foster dogs, fosterme.org, Uncategorized

Hoarding Situation in Monroe County, AL

An animal hoarding case in Monroe County, Alabama has brought in 21 small dogs, mostly Chihuahua mixes. The shelter is not releasing them for adoptions since they all are in need of medical care. The shelter has reached out to rescues and fosters are needing in order for the rescues to help them. Donations for medical care can also be made to the rescues once foster homes have been arranged and the dogs are out of the shelter.

Hoarding situations are heartbreaking for everyone involved, but mostly for the animals who suffer from abuse and neglect. Unsafe and unsanitary conditions can wear down even the strongest of animals over time. Many people who find themselves overloaded with too many animals may have started out with good intentions, but were unable to keep up with the care. I know of several situations where people drop off found and unwanted pets to a friend or neighbor they know who have helped in the past. More and more pets end up being dropped off and before you know it spirals out of control.

Some hoarding cases come about when backyard breeders take in as many unaltered dogs as they can and try and turn a profit out of sheer volume of puppies delivered and sold. The conditions are horrendous that the dogs must endure and sadly, many die from disease and neglect only to be replaced by the next dog added to the mix.

The pictures below are just a few I received from one of our partnered rescues who is trying to help these dogs. There are 21 dogs in total that were brought into the shelter and need our help. If you can foster, please submit the rescue’s application at jotform.us/gcurgents/application. If you can’t foster, please share this story so others can read it and maybe they can help. As a community, we can make a difference.

 

animal rescue, dog rescue, foster dogs, fosterme.org

Senior dogs need homes too.

When many people think of bringing a new dog into their homes they usually think about a puppy. Now, don’t get me wrong I love puppy breath just as much as the next person, but have you ever thought about an older dog? Older adult dogs find themselves dumped at shelters all over for a variety of reasons, but if you read just a few rehoming pet sites you’ll see a trend. New puppy, having a baby (you had 8 months to find a home for the dog and you just now decide you can’t make time), moving and can’t take the old girl with you, etc. Sadly, the list goes on and on.

When a frosted face shows up at a shelter it is heartbreaking to see. You see the fear and confusion in their eyes and they try as hard as they can to make themselves as small as possible in the back corner of their concrete kennel. Hoping and praying that nothing bad happens to them since they were just left by the only person they have known.

Ok, that’s the super sad part, but here is where it gets better for him or her. Once a rescue has a foster or adopter interested in the opening their home and heart to the dog, the next step is for the rescue to contact the shelter and let them know they want to pull the dog. Depending on the situation either the approved foster/adopter may pick the ol’ Frosty Face from the shelter and take it home or a volunteer transporter with the rescue may. The rescue will want to get the dog to their vet as soon as they can for a full medical checkup and shots. Depending on how old the dog is they may not be medically cleared to be spayed or neutered.

Senior dogs are house-broken, won’t chew on your favorite table legs (my coffee table legs still have puppy teeth marks on them) or rip apart your bunny slippers. Members of the Frosted Face age group just want to find the perfect sunny spot on your living room floor and comfortably nap all day. Sounds like the perfect dog, huh? They may already know how to properly walk on a leash and a few obedience commands. I met an older dog at the shelter who knew several commands and loved to show them off for a treat, of course!

Princessa is an older girl looking for a home. This sweet girl found herself at the Miami-Dade Animal Services shelter back on January 12, 2018. Here we are 4 months later and a rescue 10 hours away on the opposite side of the state and in a different time zone heard about her from a Facebook post and has taken her in. Another life saved. She has a temporary foster, but just for a week or so until they can find another foster who can take her for a bit longer. The shelter listed her as a Labrador Retriever mix, but what do you think?

Princessa
Princessa is a senior girl, 8 or 9 years of age, but with the heart of a younger dog. She was rescued from the Miami-Dade Animal Shelter. Can you FosterMe?

If you can open your home to Princessa, please fill out the application so the rescue can contact you about her. Can you FosterMe?

 

animal rescue, cat rescue, dog rescue, foster, fosterme.org, small animal rescue

This guy needs some groceries & a couch to call his own.

Can you help?

This poor guy needs an immediate foster! He wandered up to a house with his tail wagging and obviously starving. The house he wandered up to has 6 dogs and they are all getting along. He has not been named yet. If you can open your heart and home to this guy to keep him from going to the shelter, it will make all the difference in the world to him. 

Shelters are not the ideal place for an animal to find itself in. The constant barking and strong smells can stress even the friendliest animals out which can lead to the staff mislabeling them as scared or even aggressive and therefore unadoptable.