Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Wonders of Canadian Geese

(Pictures: Daddy keeping vigilance while Mom and babies eat. The babies growing everyday -- especially, their spindly legs and feet! Daddy signaling the family to get in the water....leading the way.)
One of the truly great joys for me over the past week has been the discovering of the Canadian Goose family in Central Park.

I take my dogs every morning to observe and photograph them and to revel in the fast and amazing changes.

In less than a week, the six goslings are growing at a phenomenal pace -- especially their spindly legs and black, webbed feet.

They walk, they run and they swim. And although they make attempts to flap their tiny wings (in what really is a comical scene) when they run, they are still too young to fly.

But, if I find the baby Canadian Geese adorable, funny and fascinating, I am totally swept in and intrigued by the gosling's devoted and protective parents -- especially, the "Daddy" goose.

Daddy is on constant vigilance. Head high in the air, listening, watching and turning in all directions to carefully monitor any possible threats.

If my dogs get too close, Daddy Goose will spread his wings and begin to charge while making a "hissing" sound. I quickly pull Tina and Chance back.

Mama goose seems less cautious and will often approach me to take bread from my hand. She too, however, is protective of her babies and will occasionally "hiss" at my dogs.

The family is moving around a lot more now. They swim in the pond and sometimes I have to look for them. They seem to be going a lot more "public" now, wandering around on some of the public parts surrounding Turtle Pond.

This worries me somewhat especially in the early morning hours (when dogs are allowed to run off leash) or those occasions when the park might draw some unsavory characters.

But, I imagine the parent geese know a lot more than I do.

If Daddy suddenly decides its time to go, then, by some unbeknownst signal to me, the rest of the family quickly gets in line and heads for the water.

It's fascinated me for quite some time, exactly how Canadian Geese communicate with each other.

But, they must have some kind of sophisticated means of communication because when in flocks, they can suddenly bolt for the skies with just a "honk" from a lead goose. One often hears them honking signals to each other while in flight.

They fly in perfect "V" formations and always seem to know (or communicate) where they are heading to.

Canadian Geese seem to have a sharp sense of when storms are coming or any other type of danger.

When grazing on grass in flocks, there is usually one male goose keeping constant "vigilance" just as the Daddy goose does now with his family. So intent on keeping vigilance, the male (or lead) goose rarely seems to take time to nibble.

I don't understand why Canadian Geese are generally frowned upon and considered "nuisance" wildlife by parks departments, city officials and much of the public.

I think they are beautiful, intelligent, peaceful and utterly fascinating animals.

Daddy Canadian Geese would put many human Fathers to shame and they probably make better "husbands", too. In fact, a woman told me last week that male geese will even share nest-sitting duties with their female mates!

There is a reason why these birds have survived and proliferated throughout most of North America despite endless human attempts to hunt, terrorize, "control," kill and harass them.

I believe its their smarts, their devotion and loyalty and their extraordinary communication skills.

Of course my heart breaks now when thinking about how many geese, ducks and all other types of waterfowl, fish and turtles will be destroyed by the horrendous (and really, unforgivable) oil spill in the Gulf.

No matter how well equipped to deal with the stresses and natural disasters of life and nature, not even God could prepare the animals for the disasters created by man.

And how horribly ironic that such catastrophe would occur in the spring -- when so many baby animals (like the ones I so enjoy watching grow and develop now) are born. -- PCA


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

An Armageddon for our Coastal Wild and Marine Life

(Picture left: A heron lays dying due to oil spillage in the Gulf. Photo credit: Nora Leah.)

The picture of the heron slowly dying due to the oil disaster in the gulf is disturbing enough if the human-created calamity only affected one animal. But, one has to realize the picture will be multiplied millions of times over before the final damage is done.

The (totally preventable) oil spillage represents an Armageddon for our coastal wildlife and marine life.

No matter what other projects or challenges we may be working on or that might divert our attentions, it is imperative to take the time to contact our national representatives to demand immediate remedies.

This needs, for the time being, to take priority over everything else.

Incentives to the oil companies for off-shore drilling need to be removed from the Energy bill.

The EPA needs to be given full range of enforcement to the Clean Air Act.

Cynical and corrupt politicians assume (tragically, correctly) that most people care far more about cheap gas than they do the health of our planet and the survival of species, but we need to show in loud voice that such is not true of all (or, hopefully, even most) Americans.

Either our government takes immediate and substantial measures to stop the current spillage and PREVENT future disasters of this type or the politicians can all look for other jobs come election day.

Its past time for Americans to become politically active and actually show that we CARE what is being allowed to occur in our country under the guise of "cheap gas" (or "cheap meat").

Destroying the planet, other species, and eventually ourselves, should not be the ultimate "price" of cheap and in many cases, unnecessary goods (especially in the case of meat.) -- PCA


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pigeon Shoots (Wall Street Journal -- News)

(Picture Left: Pigeons atop the Angel of the Waters at Bethesda Fountain. They seem to know who their friends are)

This story should also be in the print edition in today's Wall Street Journal.

To learn more about Pennsylvania's pigeon shoots, visit

Patrick Kwan, New York State Director

The Humane Society of the United States

Wall Street Journal

May 24, 2010, 5:09 PM ETNYC

Pigeons Trapped, Kidnapped and Shot for Sport, Group Says

By R.M. Schneidermanhttp:


For years there have been rumors. Unafraid of human contact and lured by scattered seeds, New York City pigeons are trapped in nets, thrown in the back of vans and whisked away. Just where they go is unclear. Some say they're used in voodoo ceremonies or as food in restaurants.

Earlier this month, in a letter to Pennsylvania lawmakers, the New York City Bar claims that many pigeons are captured and transported, without food or water, to middlemen in Pennsylvania. From there they are sold to shooting ranges for use in live trap shooting competitions where participants fire shotguns at live pigeons vaulted into the air.

"Because there is a constant demand for birds to supply these events, the trap shoots induce unlawful poaching in nearby New York City," the attorneys' group wrote in a letter to the leaders of the Pennsylvania state Senate and House of Representatives earlier this month.

Lawmakers in Pennsylvania are considering a ban on pigeon shooting statewide. The New York City Bar wrote the letter in support of the legislation.Trapping pigeons is legal under New York state law if the birds are considered a nuisance and if the trapper has the proper license. The pigeons also must be trapped "in a humane manner," according to the law. (The New York state Department of Environmental Conservation has not yet returned calls seeking the state definition of "humane.")

But Lori Barrett, a member of the New York City Bar, said in an interview that the birds in question are deprived of food and water and shipped across state lines to be killed, all of which violates state environmental and animal cruelty laws. According to the Heidi Prescott, a senior vice president for the Humane Society of the United States, the birds are often lured with food, then trapped in nets and taken in vans to pigeon brokers in Pennsylvania. The pigeon brokers act as middlemen, purchasing the birds for $2 a head, then often selling them to shooting ranges for $4 each.

The trap shooting events, which take place mostly in the fall and winter, largely occur at four shooting ranges in Bucks, Berks and Dauphin counties in eastern Pennsylvania.

At the daylong events, several hundred to several thousand pigeons are loaded into boxes and catapulted into the air at various angles as competitors, standing behind the boxes, shoot them out of the sky with 12-gauge shotguns.

Some of the birds are killed immediately, the New York City Bar said in the letter. But others, say the attorneys, either die from injuries or starvation or at the hands of workers at the shooting ranges, who kill the wounded birds.Proponents of trap shooting consider the activity a sport and say they have the legal right to participate in it.

"It's an American tradition and form of pest control," said Frank Pascoe, a Pennsylvania representative for the Amateur Trap Shooting Association.Pascoe added that he supports live pigeon shooting, though he himself participates and oversees shooting ranges that offer clay targets.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Spring -- The (truly) Mean Season

(Pictures: The male swan at Harlem Meer photographed about two weeks ago. Seemingly at loss without his mate. He too, has now disappeared. Photos of goose family discovered yesterday. So beautiful and precious. But, what does the rest of spring and summer hold in store for them?)

This weekend represented grief and mourning for the lost and celebration of new life for the born.

This past Saturday I attended a special tour to see and learn about the raccoons of Central Park.

The tour was conducted by the Park Rangers of Central Park.

Perhaps it was not advertised enough (I saw the promotion on But, it was a little disconcerting to note that only myself and one other woman showed up for it.

I guess not too many New Yorkers like or care about raccoons?

That might help explain why, in recent months, it is extremely difficult to find any raccoons in Central Park, despite just a year or so ago, the park was plentiful with them.

The explanation for the huge decline in raccoon numbers offered by the Parks Department and Department of Health is that rabies had been found in a number of the animals.

The Parks Department, DOH, and the rangers have thus sought out and picked up any raccoons that "appear sick" to test them for rabies.

The only way to "test" animals for rabies is to kill them, remove the head and test for the virus. (The alternative is to hold animals in isolation for a period of time such as six months to see if they develop any symptoms of the disease. -- Something simply not practical for wild animals like raccoons.)

Supposedly, healthy raccoons have been vaccinated against rabies and released back to the park.

But, as noted, it is very difficult to find any raccoons in the park these days.

A very nice park ranger named Sheridan took the other woman and myself on the tour through the Conservatory, the North Woods and the surrounding area to Harlem Meer. Throughout the two hour walk, we only found what appeared to be one sleeping raccoon high in a tree at the Conservatory Garden.

I don't know that I totally believe the story about "rabies" in the park population of raccoons.

I do know that many people either don't like raccoons or are fearful of them.

When one considers the millions of people who attend Central Park in the warmer months, then perhaps a "plentiful" population of raccoons was simply not desirable?

Other animals -- like Canadian Geese are also considered "nuisance" wildlife. Sheridan (the Park Ranger) told us that there is now a special program in operation to "scare away" the geese. Apparently, park workers use Border Collies specially trained to "stare" at the geese to intimidate and frighten them off.

That is upsetting to learn -- especially after finding a beautiful family of Canadian Geese (Mommy, Daddy and their six baby goslings) near Turtle Pond yesterday.

Will the Parks Department and DOH set the Border Collies against them?

I took photographs of the geese family yesterday and posted them to my Facebook page, as well as one photo to

God, they are amazing animals if one takes a little time to understand and reach out to them!

The male goose was constantly alert and watching out for any potential threat to his family. He reacted a couple of times to my two dogs, but luckily we were behind a small fence. After a while however, the daddy goose and his mate seemed to realize Tina and Chance represented no real threat to them.

In fact, the mama goose eventually came up to me and gently took bread from my hand!

I am sorry, but I think the geese and ducks and raccoons are beautiful animals whose place in the park should be respected, admired and appreciated.

We have so much to learn from these magnificent animals!

It, quite frankly makes me sick to think about any campaigns designed to "scare off" or round up and kill any of the animals. Yes, I understand rabies is a very real threat, but it's hard to believe that is the real reason for such a huge decline in raccoon numbers.

As for geese "pooping in the some of the grass" where people sit, well, I think we should realize that natural grass is already filled with tiny creatures that help keep it clean, as well as "waste" from many small animals from squirrels to birds. Should we "scare away" and kill all the animals because people can't bring something to throw down on the grass?

It's now understandable why I so much prefer winter to spring, summer and fall in the park. Its a hell of a lot more peaceful in the winter -- especially to the animals.

It is in fact, sad and ironic to see how so many animals survive the harsh, brutal conditions during the winter -- only to meet their end during the beautiful sunny days of spring.

One of these animals is the female swan who, along with her mate, survived the winter at Harlem Meer only to meet her death in the early weeks of May.

I noticed her missing a few weeks ago.

I tried to tell myself that perhaps she was off laying eggs somewhere and getting ready to raise her young.

But, the male swan was observed at that time, flying all over the Meer and sometimes standing on the ground looking clearly upset and agitated.

The Park Ranger told us on Saturday that the female swan was discovered dead in the pond a few weeks ago and a short time later, her mate was found wandering around Lasker swimming pool. Park workers had to gently coax him out, after which, he returned to the Meer.

But, the male swan too, is seemingly gone now. -- So lost he must be without his lifelong mate.

Sheridan seemed to feel it was a good thing that the male swan finally left the heavily human populated Harlem Meer.

"It is just not safe for them here," she added.

Considering all the people and kids now out at the Meer with fishing polls in hand, I have to agree with Sheridan, much as I loved seeing the swans and other birds at the Meer.

I especially worry now over the white, Peking ("food) ducks still at the Meer who are unable to fly.

What does the rest of spring hold in store for them -- especially with all the fish hooks and garbage in the water now?

What does the rest of spring and summer hold in the store for the new Goose parents and their babies?

No matter how intelligent, protective and vigilant, the male birds of these "mate for life" species and no matter how capable of surviving even the coldest winters, they are, in the end, no match for the cruelties of humans -- especially in the spring.

Spring -- the truly mean season. -- PCA


Friday, May 21, 2010

Incentive for Change

This past week, Animal Planet aired an excellent documentary regarding (once again) the scourge of puppy mills. Specifically, those (puppy mill) puppies sold to and from the large pet chain, "Petland."

I say, "once again" because this is a subject that has been covered many times over the years, including the Oprah Winfrey show.

And yet, for all the focus from major animal organizations to even the most popular talk show host, millions of people still continue to buy animals from pet stores every year despite the indisputable link between puppy mills and pet shops.

One thing for certain:

No matter how cruel and obscene, we will never get rid of puppy mills until the "market for the product" dries up (i.e. people stop buying animals from pet stores and large, retail chains!)

And yet, it seems that bottom line message is not driven home sufficiently, even in the documentaries specifically produced and aired on this subject.

Rather, in the very same week this program aired, broadcast news channels ran another "happy story" in which almost two hundred "rescued puppy mill dogs" were sent to North Shore Animal League and can now look forward to being "adopted to loving homes."

What's wrong with this story, one might ask? (Notwithstanding the obvious good forture for the individual animals saved.)

What is wrong, is that shelters and rescue groups are NOT the solution to the puppy mill scourge!

Millions of puppies are produced every year in puppy mills (and back yard breeders) around the country.

A couple of hundred rescued here and there throughout the year does not even represent the perennial "drop in the bucket."

Moreover, it drives the message that the public does not have to feel any responsibility for creating (through demand) the puppy mill disaster because all the animals get rescued and eventually go to "loving homes." -- That only that were the truth.

Meanwhile, in the same week North Shore Animal League rescued the 200 puppy mill dogs, hundreds of other dogs (and cats) were destroyed in local Animal Control shelters.

We are quickly heading up to the hardest times of the year, (holidays and summer) in terms of animal dumping and high kill stats in shelters, as well as the slowest periods for animal adoptions.

While it may generate very favorable publicity (and donations) to rescue cute, small and appealing puppies from puppy mills or Southern pounds that gas animals, does that not negate somewhat, the animals dying locally in our pounds?

This past week, our small group rescued three new dogs from Animal Control, one of which, Colleen (pictured above) was on the verge of starvation when brought to the pound from a basement in Brooklyn.

Colleen is a 7-year-old, Golden Retriever/Shepherd mix who only weighs 47 Lbs (she should weigh at least 65 lbs for her size.)

She sat at the shelter for a week with no takers.

And yet, this lovely dog has the sweetest, most loving temperament imaginable!

Colleen is totally housebroken, easy to walk, gentle around other dogs and even cats. She totally loves children!

I know these things because Colleen is fortunate to be in one of our foster homes that has both cats and children and even another dog.

The question is, why should wonderful dogs like Colleen die because some shelters or rescues are too busy trying to be the "solution" to puppy mill atrocities or antiquated, cruel shelters in the south that still gas animals? Are animals like Colleen not "sexy" enough?

Shelters and rescue groups can NEVER be the solution to the lack of law or the irresponsible buying habits of the public.

They can only "rescue" a tiny pittance of the animals who are actually abused or die due to industrialized cruelty and consumer demand.

Moreover, the "happy stories" for the few tend to drown out and negate the abuses to the many and in a sense, blunt or even kill the incentive for real and lasting change.

After all, why should we change laws or alter our buying habits if we can show on the evening news, at least a few happy animals "getting rescued and finding loving homes?" -- PCA


Monday, May 17, 2010


(Picture Left: "Felicia" -- latest rescue. Already spayed, very socialized, Chow mix arriving at shelter as so-called, "stray." Apparantly, Felicia's former people didn't want to admit to owning the dog -- or, they left her go on the street.)

Grim kill stats today from the shelters: 23 dogs and more than 25 cats and kittens.

Summer is arriving early to New York City this year. The carnage is only beginning.

Sadly, I am not surprised.

The number of adoption calls coming into us over the past week or so, have fallen to almost zero.

Despite that, we just rescued a new Chow ("Felicia") from Brooklyn Animal Care and Control and we have offered to pull a mature Collie mix who arrived to the Manhattan shelter recently from having been deserted and found in a building basement. "Coleen" looks filthy, neglected and skinny, but very sweet.

We were very fortunate this weekend to get a wonderful adoption for one of our other Chow mixes -- Tiga.

Tiga (who is actually a Belgian Shepherd/Chow mix) was a victim of divorce in his former home. Apparently, neither the husband or wife "had time" for the dog following the break-up.

But, I was lucky that one of my regular foster people was able and willing to take Tiga after he was groomed and cleaned up. (He was a filthy mess when first rescued.)

But, Carrie had some difficulties between Tiga and one of her two cats. Tiga barked at the cat and she attempted to claw at him. It was not exactly a match made in heaven.

After a couple of weeks of squabbling between the two animals, another foster opportunity opened up for Tiga and we took advantage of it.

A lovely young couple in a Manhattan apartment.

At first, the going was a bit rough, as Tiga is quite strong on the leash and has some tendency to pull. The young, petite woman had difficulty walking him.

But, following some tips and a new type of leash, Tiga is doing much better!

The couple elected to officially adopt Tiga yesterday.

I went to the home to do the adoption and was pleasantly surprised to learn that Tiga not only has a lovely apartment to live in, but a full sized, outdoor deck where he apparently loves to hang out during the nice weather. He looked gorgeous, with his clean and perfectly groomed coat. He appeared to be a very happy dog showering kisses on his new adopters.

These are the kind of "happy endings" that validate all that we do and give us (even through otherwise very hard and frustrating times) the impetus to continue:

Those dogs we can rescue from sketchy and neglected pasts (and sure death at the pound) and find loving, committed homes for.

That only there could be happy endings and stories for all of them.

But, these are indeed very tough times for animal shelters and rescues.

Whether battling the effects of a downed economy, lawsuits from greedy opportunists (as covered here in the last week), the Pitbull and cat overpopulation problems, trying to clean up and medically treat long neglected animals and finally, finding those ever-elusive loving and capable homes for rescued animals, the challenges and despairs far outweigh the Disneyland outcomes.

Of course, the PR fluff newspaper articles or TV "reports" would never belie the true difficulties and realities -- anymore than a Perdue or McDonalds commercial belies what really occurs in intensive farming operations or slaughterhouses.

It has occurred to me over the past 24 hours that it is possible that we can never really "solve" the pet overpopulation and neglect and dumping problems until we adequately address human attitudes towards animals in general.

As covered yesterday, human attitudes towards so-called "food" animals have not progressed beyond those of more than a thousand years ago. In fact, one could argue that they are in fact, far worse.

A thousand years ago, we did not have industrialized abuse of animals. We were simply not capable of raising, torturing and destroying billions of animals a year as we are (and do) now.

So, the question becomes, which comes first? The chicken or the egg? (no pun intended.)

Do we confront animal abuse from the base from which it starts and from where it affects and kills the most animals (i.e. so-called, "food production")? Or, do we try to reach people through their supposed sensitivities and "love" for pets?

This is a question I have not been able to answer (to myself) for several decades.

My background in animal work actually began with involvement in fighting for Animal Rights (especially after reading the book, "Animal Liberation" by Peter Singer.) But, after years of working on anti-fur, anti-hunting/trapping, anti-vivisection and anti-factory farming campaigns, I began to wonder if it was not actually more productive to try and reach people through the animals they were most familiar with -- their love and affinity for pets?

I slowly disengaged from Animal Rights battles and became heavily involved in animal rescue and adoption work.

But, now twenty or so years later, I have now come to question this decision and change in direction.

Because, at the root of almost all abuse, neglect, cruelty and abandonment of cats and dogs is a defective attitude towards animals in general.

I use the term, "defective" as inspired by Judge Judy a few days ago when she referred to a farmer who was sued by his neighbor for shooting to death the neighbor's cat (in front of her child) as "defective." The neighbor properly won the lawsuit for $2,000.

What was particularly interesting about the case was the farmer tried to claim ignorance with regard to the fact it is against the law to shoot cats and dogs.

"I shoot cats as euthanasia!" the farmer claimed. To which, Judge Judy replied very appropriately, "Ignorance (of the law) is not an excuse!"


Ignorance (or choosing to remain ignorant) should not be excuse for all the ills and wrongs in society.

We can choose to believe commercials from McDonalds and Purdue or we can read books, articles (like the one from the Washington Post mentioned yesterday) and force ourselves to watch actual video clips from intensive farming operation and slaughterhouses.

When it comes to pets, we can believe PR press releases and conferences or we might actually volunteer to work in a shelter or rescue for a period of time. It is an eye-opener to reality.

I still don't have an answer to the question that has perplexed for so many years.

I just know that at the base of so many of my personal frustrations with people is what I feel to be a poor and unenlightened attitude towards animals in general -- whether it be referring to their pets as "its," asking us how many animals we "got rid of" this week or casually telling us how they give away (or bring to a shelter) their pets each time they move (like it is the normal and acceptable thing to do.).

Yes, "defective" is the right word for all that.

The question is, how to confront and change it? Is it even possible to change it after so many centuries?

Does the problem start with the animals on our plates or the ones on our couches? -- PCA


Sunday, May 16, 2010


(Picture left: Beautiful Canadian Goose freely looking out over the pond at Harlem Meer. "God loved birds, so He created trees. Man loves birds so he created cages.")

Last night, while channel surfing around midnight, I stumbled upon a program called, "ROAR" on a cable public access channel. I'd never seen the show before. From the TV guide, it was apparently something about animal rights.

The program began innocently enough with a young woman questioning visitors to the Central Park Zoo about vegetarianism.

"Have you ever considered vegetarianism?" the voice from behind the camera asked.

Most of the people (a young couple, a father with a young daughter and a man with a dog) politely answered that they ate meat, but were somewhat open to the idea of other alternatives. All indicated that they cared about animals.

The program would have been interesting from just the standpoint of determining people's attitudes about animals and meat, as well as the interviewer's earnest attempts to enlighten and help others see the very real connection between animal abuse and various forms of human exploitation from slavery, to child abuse to the Holocaust. "Might makes right." "Its just animals" (or, "humans lower or weaker than us").

It seems all kinds of atrocities occur the very moment we objectify others, be they animals or humans.

Perhaps that helps explain why I personally cringe anytime people refer to either their pets or other animals as "it" rather than he or she. I never adopt to people who call their former or present cat or dog, "it."

But, I digress here......

Intermingled between the interviews in a pleasant setting, were unbelievably horrifying video clips from intensive factory farms, animal auctions, trucks and slaughterhouses.

There is in fact, no way to accurately describe the brutal, dark, grotesque and graphically violent images. Nothing out of any Stephen King novel or horror movie could ever come anywhere close to matching it.

Indeed, the only thing that does come close was an equally horrifying article from the Washington Post about ten to fifteen years ago. It was entitled, "They Die Piece By Piece." -- One coud never forget in a million years that article, if read.

Only the article was print. The show last night was visual and audible.

I immediately grabbed the remote control to switch the channel, (after all, I have been a vegetarian for 33 years!) but then another part of me admonished: Don't be such a coward! If it is painful for you to watch, how is it for the living and dying beings who actually have to endure and suffer this tyranny? You owe these beings the respect of at least acknowledging their suffering and injustice.

I forced myself to watch most of the roughly half hour footage, though there were moments I weakened and turned away.

I have not been able to sleep since seeing that program. I am afraid some of the images will come back to haunt in nightmares:

Dead, starved, diseased and dying chickens propped up by living ones in large "chicken houses" containing up to 50,000 chickens. The violent branding and castration of cattle and pigs without use of anesthetic. (The animals thrash and painfully bellow or in the cases of pigs, scream.) Burning the beaks off of fully conscious chickens so they don't peck each other to death in surreal and packed chicken houses or battery (egg laying) cages. The use of electric prods and metal batons to brutally beat pigs and cattle in effort to force them to move through winding chutes. Picking up sick or dying pigs and violently slamming the squealing animals to the ground, head first, to inflict death.

The rounding up, throwing and squeezing of chickens, turkeys and pigs in trucks to be sent to slaughter was something one could never imagine. And then of course, the slaughter itself.

There is nothing (and I do mean, nothing) "humane" about it.

Still conscious and thrashing chickens, pigs and cattle hoisted on one leg while their throats are slashed. Animals still alive scalded in boiling water.

How is it possible that we as "civilized" human beings could inflict this tyranny and horror on even one sentient being, let alone, billions?

Then again, we had a Holocaust and we had slavery, didn't we?

I feel ashamed to be human after watching this violent carnage and absolute, overwhelming injustice. -- Carnage, violence and injustice that is happening today (in mind numbing numbers), not 70 or 150 years ago. (Lord, forgive us, for we know not what we do.)

Were this a truly just and "humane" world, we as humans would be ashamed to even admit to still eating meat today. It is practically to acknowledge either one's ignorance or one's absolute callousness or even amorality in terms of how meat is "produced" today.

I realize there are some who will defend these purely evil and destructive practices by saying, "Hey, nature is cruel! Ever see a lion kill a gazelle or zebra?"

Sure, nature is "cruel." But, the lion doesn't have a choice to eat or not eat meat. Lions are carnivores -- part of the natural food chain. Nor does the lion possess the ability for moral or conscious choice as we humans supposedly do. Finally, up until the day the deer or zebra is chased down and killed, s/he had a normal and free life. S/he did not live a life of tyranny, abuse, deprivation, enslavement and brutality at the hands of a more "powerful" species.

Those of us who have and love our pets know and will swear that our cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, horses or other pets "feel" in many ways as we do. They experience joy, pleasure, playfulness, bonding, happiness, attachment, sadness, depression, loneliness, grief, fear, frustration, terror and even, sometimes, panic. Like us, animals can sometimes even be aggressive and/or bullying.

But, if these things are true for the animals we welcome into and share our homes and lives with, why would they not be true for the other animals we share the planet with?

Just because we don't see cows, pigs and chickens everyday (especially if living in the city) doesn't mean they don't feel or experience emotions, needs and life just as our "pet" animals do.

Could we ever justify to ourselves treating our cats and dogs the way we treat those animals we order up in a restaurant or "serve" on a dinner plate?

Of course, we kill millions of cats and dogs in shelters every year. So, our attitudes towards them are not so "evolved and enlightened" either. -- We just kill pet animals more "kindly."

Somewhere in the program last night, different quotes were flashed on the screen from Leo Tolstoy and Leonardo Da Vinchi (famous vegetarians).

I don't recall the wise quotes exactly, however, it struck that we have not come very far over a thousand or more years, have we?

Could these brilliant men ever imagined that we could be even more cruel and violent today towards non-human animals than in the actual times they voiced their quotes?

What's gone wrong? -- PCA


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Of Lawsuits, Adoptions and Trauma (Reply)

(Picture left: Cat on one of the urgent and current Alerts sent out from Brooklyn Animal Control. Pretty "Mystique" looks like "Linya," one of the cats in the stories today. Hopefully, Mystique finds a home or rescue.)

Amby111 Writes: There is definitely more to this story than what appears in the article. Who knows what this idiot did to provoke the cat. The extent of her "injury" sounds far fetched to me. I suppose she is completely oblivious to the fact that this lawsuit will likely make it harder for rescues to adopt out animals in stores like Petco.

Reply: We can be quite sure Ms. "Cost-Ya" doesn't give a damn about how her frivolous lawsuit will impact offsite, public adoptions. Greedy, narcissists don't care about others, be they animals or people.

Twelve years ago, when doing cat adoptions out of Petco on East 86th Street, we had to unfortunately deal with a nut like this one.

We had just arrived at the store and were setting up cages. A couple of the cats were nervous just having endured a long car ride from Brooklyn.

I noted a woman coming around the side of one of the cages and before I could say anything, she stuck her hand in the cage. The white cat she moved her hand towards was clearly scared and stressed. "Snowy" was literally cringing in back of the cage and even hissed a couple of times.

I tried to warn the woman to get her hand out, but within a split second, Snowy jutted out her paw and a claw caught the woman's finger. It was a jab, rather than an actual scratch or bite.

I went to the woman to examine her finger. It appeared the way one's foot does when pulling out a splinter from a boardwalk. There was a tiny pin prick of blood that one practically needed a magnifying glass to see.

"Do you want some alcohol and a Band-Aid for that?" I asked.

"Oh no!" she laughed. "Its nothing!"

The woman left the store and I didn't think anymore about it. She was obviously an idiot for putting her hand near a hissing, frightened cat.

The next day, the woman showed up again and this time she approached me with her finger in a heavy, gauge bandage.

"I had to go to the Emergency Room last night!" she exclaimed.

Trying to hide my total shock, I stammered, "What?", huh,,....I don't understand!...What happened?"

"Well, my finger swelled up last night! I have an infection. Where is the cat? Do you have proof of shots? Do you have insurance?"

I pulled out the cat's medical record (of course she had shots) and told the woman I did not have insurance.

She then went to the manager of the store and falsely claimed that Snowy bit her.

But, that was not the worst of it.

Apparently this scam artist (and nut) signed herself into a hospital a short time later for something like a week or two.

She then attempted to sue Petco a couple of months later!

One of my volunteers and I had to give depositions.

I remember getting a copy of the medical records from the hospital. There was nothing on the records about treatment for a cat bite or scratch (it was really a jab). The woman had a whole bunch of tests run, none of which had anything at all to do with cats or "infection."

The lawsuit didn't go anywhere. One imagines a large corporation like Petco has good lawyers.

But, we certainly had to change policies after this incident.

Signs had to be put on all cages, warning people to keep their hands and fingers out.

The volunteer who had been with me that day, became very nervous, wary and overprotective of the cats.

"PLEASE, keep your dogs away from the cats!" she would shriek to people who approached the dog food isle with their dogs. "Keep your children back!"

I too, was much more nervous when people went towards our cages: "Please read and respect our signs. -- There is a reason for them."

I of course, no longer do public adoptions and this is one of the biggest reasons why. It is almost impossible to watch everyone all of the time -- especially in a busy store like Petco. During the time this pending "law suit" hung over our heads, I was a nearly paranoid, dysfunctional wreck.

Of course the woman who brought the lawsuit against Kittykind and Petco is every bit as full of crap as the nut case we had to deal with twelve years ago.

Time in a hospital? "Can't work" for six months?

Give me a break!

My very first rescue of a quasi-feral, gray cat in a trap resulted in the terrified feline sinking her teeth deeply into my middle finger and holding on for a good five seconds or so. I bled heavily for more than an hour! (and I am normally not a bleeder.)

I was actually on my way to the vet to get the cat ("Linya") spayed and vaccinated. When finally walking into his office (the incident happened on a bus) with my finger still bleeding through a heavy white towel, he casually shrugged and told me, "Just get some alcohol for it."

I bought a bottle of alcohol and kept my bleeding finger in it for what seemed like hours. I actually thought I might bleed to death!

At the time, I was working as a typist at the Fund for Animals.

The next day my entire hand (and part of my arm) was all the colors of the rainbow and swollen almost three times the normal size!

But, I never went to a doctor, nor did I miss even one day of work.

My typing over the next couple of weeks of course left a lot to be desired, but eventually the injury and infection healed on its own.

So, yes, cat bites can result in infections. But, the human body is a miraculous instrument if we just let it take care of everyday accidents on its own.

The woman's lawsuit against Petco and Kittykind is a total sham and I hope it is exposed in court for what it really is: a blatant and outrageous attempt to extort money.

Still, the really sad thing is that even if the lawsuit is thrown out and even if Petco does not change its relationship with rescue groups, the rescue people who are targets of the vicious suit will themselves be forever changed -- just like we were twelve years ago.

Trauma has a way of changing us:

I never suffered a serious bite again (from either cat or dog) after the incident with "Linya." (I learned to be extra careful!)

And as said, I don't do public adoptions anymore. (Can't supervise all the nuts out there and trust me, the woman in the article and the loon we dealt with more than a decade ago are not the only ones seeking "easy opportunity and money.")

As for the cats in both stories, both were eventually adopted and went on to live long, happy lives.

"Snowy" especially became the apple of her owner's eye (another rescuer in her own right) and developed into Ava's very favorite cat! "Snowy, my Love!" Ava called her. -- PCA


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Responsibility for Risk (News Article and Comment)

(Picture Left: "Chance." Purebred, Pomeranian who was going down in shelter for "severely aggressive" behavior when rescued two years ago. He is the sweetest, most loving dog on the planet. How a dog (or cat) "behaves" in a home depends far more on the people than the animal.)

The below article is from the Daily News. Personal comment to directly follow:

Forwarded article:

A Queens woman who adopted a tabby at a Petco fair thought she was getting a friendly, housebroken cat.Instead, she says, a feral creature with a lion-sized temper moved in - and took a chunk out of her finger.

Now Karen Costa is suing the pet-supply giant and a cat-rescue service and swearing off felines forever."No more kitties for me," Costa told the Daily News after papers were filed Monday. "It really should never have been a kitty made available for adoption."

Costa, 27, had just moved back to the city after college in 2007 and decided she could use a purring pal around the house.She and her then-fiancé went to the Petco in Manhattan's Union Square and fell for a longhaired female tabby put up for adoption by KittyKind.

Rescue workers told Costa the fluffy cat came as a package deal with her shorthaired brother."We figured, 'What's one more box of kitty food?' " Costa said.Costa paid between $150 and $200 for the 1-year-old pair and named them Harry and Sally after the movie characters.

After weeks of hiding under the bed, Harry emerged on May 30, 2007, to take a bite out of her right middle finger, Costa says.

She was hospitalized for three nights, needed surgery to repair the damage and couldn't work for six months.As a result, the Astoria woman says she lost a marketing contract with a major beverage distributor.

Despite occupational therapy, she says she still can't use her hand well enough to enjoy her favorite pastimes, bike riding and Jet Skiing.

Her lawsuit, filed in Queens Supreme Court by lawyer Paul Oliveri, accuses Petco and KittyKind of negligence for mislabeling the cats as domestic. Costa "would not have adopted the cats, and would therefore not have been attacked and severely bitten, had she known that one of the cats was feral...and not domestic," the suit says.

Petco did not return calls to the Union Square store and its corporate office. KittyKind officials declined to be interviewed, though one volunteer at the store scoffed at the allegations."It's ridiculous," she said, refusing to give her name.

The nonprofit's Web site says it does not take in feral cats. "They would be unadoptable and would be miserable living indoors," it says.

In 2006, former KittyKind head Marlene Kess was convicted of animal cruelty charges for dumping 200 dead cats in the yard of her New Jersey home.Kess claimed she had become overwhelmed by the number of sick and dying cats she had rescued.


Personal Comment: The above article represents almost all that is wrong in present day animal adoptions.

Not only does the unwarranted and unearned sense of "entitlement" result in huge numbers of unqualified people demanding animals from shelters and rescue groups, but often those demands come with the expectation that the adopted animals should be "perfect" in both health and behavior. If not, then there is the option and threat to sue.

As detailed endlessly in this blog, all cats and dogs, when suddenly uprooted from one environment to another need time to adjust and learn to trust.

Granted, some animals adapt and adjust quicker than others, depending on the age, socialization status and past experiences.

But, for those cats and dogs who react or even scratch or bite when pushed too far, too soon, there should not be the option to sue the adoption organization.

Animals are not computers that we can "program" to act perfectly in every situation.

Nor, are they chemicals that we can "test" in a contained environment.

Even when sending dogs to special trainers or behaviorists for weeks or even months, that is not guarantee or predictor on how the same animals will behave when suddenly shifting to a new place with new people and new "energy."

In effort to try and avoid frivolous lawsuits like the one described in the article, many shelters and rescues now conduct so-called "Behavior Tests" mostly on dogs. But, how a dog behaves in the structured, controlled, but stressful environment of a shelter and how that same dog behaves in the unstructured, less controlled, less stressed environment of a home are often two different things. -- The same is true for cats.

Shelter dogs who fail to pass the so-called, "Temperament Tests" are usually destroyed as they are considered a possible "liability." This despite great profiles from former owners or even rave reviews from shelter volunteers and dog walkers.

Over the years, we have rescued perhaps hundreds of dogs who failed one part or another of the "behavior tests." In almost all cases, the behavior in the eventual adoptive home did not match the negative behavioral rating from the shelter. Many times adopters of these dogs have expressed disbelief and disdain that the dog could have been so wrongly "evaluated" in the shelter.

By contrast, there have been a few times when a dog with a good behavioral evaluation at the shelter later displayed problematic or even aggressive behavior (mostly towards other dogs).

In other words, the Behavior Tests conducted in shelters are mostly useless -- except from the standpoint of (hopefully) sparing the shelter (or rescue group) the misery and stress of later having to deal with unjustified lawsuits.

Instead of seeking more and better ways to "predict" or "mold" animal behavior, (and punishing by death, those animals who don't measure up to near perfection), animal organizations need to drum the message home to the public and the press that animal adoption is NOT a predictable science, but rather, an unpredictable action that entails some risk on the part of the adopter.

Just as every man or woman who enters the professional fields of shelter work, veterinary medicine, animal grooming or rescue has to realize and assume that there will be times when animals may bite or scratch, so too, must any adopter of a cat or dog assume the responsibility of risk.

The lawsuit described in the article, if successful, could have a devastating impact on offsite animal adoptions either in pet supply stores or other public locations.

It only takes one nut to make things miserable for everyone else.

On the other hand, animal organizations never should have misled the public into thinking animal adoptions are without risk in the first place.

They are not now and never will be. -- PCA


Monday, May 10, 2010

Quality Over Quantity (Updates)

(Pictures: Leslie, the depressed and shut-down Chow and Benji, the equally sad and timid Cocker Spaniel. In one week, these dogs' lives have suddenly been transformed and turned around. No "stampedes" to adopt, but quality instead. And in the end, it is quality that counts.)
In recent entries I have bemoaned how some animals will generate dozens of adoption inquiries, most of which are either time-wasting or downright frustrating.

But, sometimes you have an animal that only generates one adoption inquiry -- but it is a quality inquiry.

That is what occurred last week when our loving, (but sad and timid) Cocker Spaniel, Benji inspired one adoption call.

But, it is an adoption call that turned into the actual adoption.

Suddenly, this lost little Cocker Spaniel who was unceremoniously dumped from a home after almost nine years is transformed into a happy and very wanted, cherished dog frolicking around the green grasses of Huntington, Long Island. Benji has another (8-year-old) Cocker Spaniel as a buddy, a beautiful home and yard and a human caregiver who totally adores him. Already, Benji has appointments for grooming and a teeth cleaning.

The days of neglect and "having no time" for Benji are thankfully, long gone.

Another dog who has truly lucked out over the past week or so, is Leslie, the totally shut down and depressed Chow rescued from AC&C almost ten days ago.

Leslie went to my friend, Marcia in Pennsylvania.

As expected, the first few days were a bit scary.

Leslie barely moved and didn't eat anything.

Chows have a sometimes tendency to "shut down" when dumped from homes after many years and sadly, Leslie was no exception.

Marcia tried all kinds of food and treats and even taking Leslie to her vet. At one point, Marcia was even afraid Leslie might not make it.

But, it seems it was one of her other rescued Chows, "Dena" who helped to bring Leslie out of her depression.

Marcia described how Dena walked up to Leslie one night, lied down next to her and in some kind of silent doggie language seemed to communicate to the new Chow, that things were going to be OK now. Leslie was welcomed in this new place. She did not need to think about -- or grieve for the old.

The next day, Leslie wagged her tail for the first time, began to walk around and started to eat. She was finally ready to leave her old life behind and embrace the new (and obviously better) one that awaited her.

And so yes, the past week, though frustrating in many ways ultimately, turned out to be a strong positive -- at least for two dogs, cruelly tossed out and though not inspiring a stampede of potential adopters, lucked out when it truly counted.

Give us quality over quantity any day! ;)


Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Ten to Fifteen Year Job -- (Reply)

(Picture Left: "Buddy" -- Delightful, playful and loving Pomeranian who has yet to generate any inquiry or interest despite verbal and other promotion. Poor picture quality and dismal [shelter] background the only seeming explanations.)

Shadowlight Writes: That is so very sad. I'm just wondering, though. Have you asked any of the various "qualified" people interested in specifically Sugarbear about Buddy as well? Maybe the real test for how qualified they are in adopting Sugarbear lies in how they respond to that question. The most qualified would probably respond they would be just as willing to adopt Buddy as Sugarbear...

Reply: You make a very valid point.

I did not ask that question of everyone as I don't want this to appear like some kind of "bait and switch." The ultimate decision for who eventually adopts Sugarbear is left to his rescuer and fosterer, Barbie. I am merely referring those who meet the basic criteria to her. -- Doing preliminary screening, in other words.

But, it is very disconcerting in terms of those I actually did pose the question or suggestion to that not one showed any interest in Buddy even though he is almost identical to Sugarbear in breed, age, health and temperament. (The only differences, as previous noted, being that of color and slight difference in size.)

Yesterday, one woman became irate when told that Sugarbear is likely being adopted by people who called before her. This, despite my telling her about Buddy.

"I don't understand why it is so HARD to adopt!" she screamed.

"Ma'am, it doesn't help to yell," I replied, trying to calm the woman down. "That's not a good way to promote yourself as a potential adopter."

"I don't need to SELL MYSELF!" she admonished and hung up the phone.

Bear in mind, this is a lady who initially provided a wrong phone number (typo which she didn't admit to) when first emailing about Sugarbear.

Perhaps it really is me. I am losing patience with the attitudes, rudeness and sense of "entitlement" that too many people display when inquiring about adoptions.

And even if not being rude or obnoxious, (as said the other day) many people have not given thought to their situations and/or the practicality or timing of having and caring for a pet.

I think this helps explain why our shelters are constantly filled with animals, most of the pets given up from so-called, "loving homes."

If every home was so "loving" why would we be killing millions of dogs and cats in shelters each year? Why would Animal Cops shows never run out of stories to tell?

Obviously, some rescue groups and shelters are not screening well enough although in most cases, the animals dumped in pounds were either purchased from pet stores or breeders or given to the people who later abandoned them.

Many shelter animals have in fact, been passed through multiple homes before finally ending up in a shelter or on the streets.

To me, the major problems have to do attitudes towards animals and the sense of "entitlement." -- That anyone should be able to have a cat or dog regardless of knowledge about animals, sense of responsibility, previous history with pets or willingness to commit.

I don't agree.

To me, inquiring to bring home a cat or dog is a little like applying for a job.

In the case of animals, the "job" is one likely to entail up to ten or even more years of commitment (and expense!), depending on the age of the pet.

Why then are we wrong to ask questions or seek certain criteria just as any employer would ask of a potential employee?

Should not the life and care of an animal be as important as the care, skills, knowledge and trustworthiness someone would need in order to do a job correctly?

Like a job, caring for an animal, is most of all, a responsibility. -- PCA


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Even Before the Ink is Dry

(Picture Left: "Sugarbear." Despite having inspired dozens of Adoption calls, I have just removed Sugarbear from Adoption Sites. Hopefully, his adoption is pending and/or already in motion.)

I have often wondered, in recent months, where all the good adopters have gone?

There might be an answer now.

They are simply waiting for that perfect, tiny, young, beautiful, healthy, purebred, and affectionate "magazine cover dog."

Last week, a former adopter and friend rescued (and is fostering) an adorable (neutered) Pomeranian from a home where he was no longer wanted and banished to a yard.

Barbara requested help from me in finding the little dog a great home.

"Bobby" (now named, "Sugarbear") is a super cute, 9 lb, 2-year-old, purebred Pom who resembles a stuffed toy. Indeed he is handsome enough to appear on a Dog Fancy magazine cover!

But, not only is Sugarbear adorable, he also has a personality to match. Wonderful and affectionate little dog who loves being picked up and held and is great around other dogs and people.

I took pictures of Sugarbear when Barbara and I took him to my vet for an exam and shots earlier in the week.

I then posted them to Petfinders and Adopt-A-Pet along with a bio on the dog.

In the last few days, I have been swamped with dozens of calls to adopt Sugarbear, at least a few of which have been qualified in terms of meeting the criteria we have to adopt the little dog. (I have referred the qualified people to Barbara, Sugarbear's rescuer and foster person.)

Unfortunately, we can't divide Sugarbear into five or more parts.

When I try to suggest to some of the callers another wonderful Pomeranian we have for adoption ("Buddy") who is black in color and just a little bigger than Sugarbear, I suddenly am told that they can't take such a "big" dog (Buddy is only 20 lbs) or they don't like black dogs.

Apparently, racism is alive and well -- at least in the field of animal adoptions.

Although Buddy was posted and advertised on adoption sites at least a week before Sugarbear, I have yet to receive one decent inquiry on him.

Granted, black dogs generally don't photograph as well as the blonde and red ones, but still....

I have to wonder if the entire process of adopting an animal has become so shallow that the only things that seem to matter these days are picture, size, breed and color?

Apparently, so.

Although a hand-full of the calls represent truly qualified potential adopters for Sugarbear most of the inquiries have just been frustrating.

The worst was from a family who somehow felt entitled to Sugarbear based upon their claims of "loving dogs."

Yet, they brought their last dog (an Amerian Eskimo) to the pound when they moved to a "no pet" condo. When I told the husband that we don't normally adopt to people who have dropped off former pets at shelters, he became extremely agitated.

"But, we LOVE dogs!" he yelled passionately into the phone. "Its not my fault! I got transferred at my job and we had to suddenly move. I had no choice!"

"Why couldn't you look for a place that allowed dogs?" I asked. "It doesn't seem finances were a problem."

"There was no time! Look, we love dogs and I have never been without a dog."

"But, you told me a few minutes ago, its been five years since you had your last dog. That is a contradiction to what you are saying now."

"Are you calling me a liar?" the man yelled.

In fact, the conversation was filled with inconsistencies and contradictions. There was no way in helll we were adopting out Sugarbear to these people. But, I simply couldn't rudely hang up the phone.

It was a totally frustrating conversation from the standpoint it was so hard to end. These people did not want to take "no" for an answer no matter how many times I said it.

And that is one of the most aggravating and time-wasting aspects of animal adoptions. The people who feel "entitled" to animals even when their previous history with cats or dogs has been shoddy, neglectful, non-committal or non-existent. Many people seem to have the attitude that when moving, the "normal" thing to do is drop their pet off at a shelter or give the pet away. Yet, they will still tell us how much they "love" animals.

What good is "love" if it lacks any kind of commitment, bond or sense of responsibility?

I recall one young woman (who gave three past dogs away when she moved three times), telling me, "But, I WAS committed to my dogs during the times that I had them!"

That's like saying someone is "committed" during the few hours of a one-night-stand.

Apparently, there are people who don't know what the word, "commitment" means.

Other frustrating calls of the week:

The stay-at-home Mom with three kids under three years of age with no plans whatsoever to see that a dog would get walked.

"I figure I can let the dog out in the yard," she told me.

"But, your yard is not fenced in," I replied.

"Well, we plan to get a fence."

Yeah -- and I plan to have a house one day in the Bahamas.

If I am skeptical of those agencies or shelters who brag about "high volume adoptions," this is why.

Sadly, tragically, I am forced to reject most of the people who call us.

Many times (in fact, probably most) its not because the people themselves are bad animal owners. -- Its because their situations are bad or unstable:

For examples:

The nice, twenty-year old, living in a Manhattan apartment with three roommates. (Sorry, but that is not a situation that is in any way, stable. Six months from now or even sooner, it is likely to change.)

The Mother with small toddlers (still in strollers) who cannot leave the babies alone to walk a dog two or three times a day or try to handle a young, lively dog while also steering the strollers and caring for the babies.

The woman who tells me her landlord gave permission to have one dog for "therapy" (which she already has), but now wants a second dog. How is the landlord going to OK TWO dogs for "therapy?"

And of course the homes where it is primarily one person in the home who wants a dog, but the other household members are not necessarily on board, but rather yielding to pressure. These are the kind of situations that usually end up in "Its me or the dog!" scenarios or the dog eventually becoming too attached and/or protective of the tending (or even doting) family member.

We have to be sure that all the adults in the home want the dog (or cat) and are prepared to help care for the animal rather than just household member or worse, a small child. Children cannot assume all responsibilities for caring for a pet (as many people seem to think.) Its the parents who have to WANT -- and are willing to care for the dog. Teenagers especially "want" a dog this week and next week are cramming for SATS, busy texting their friends or too engulfed in Facebook or "My Space" to think about feeding or walking a dog.

As said many times in this journal, animal adoptions are much more complex than what first might appear.

It is not a matter of just handing out animals to people who say they "love" them, but in many cases, have not given full thought and consideration to either their situations or the challenges and responsibility of actually having and caring for animals.

Then there are the cases where the dog may be right and the people may be right, but the timing is all wrong. -- For example, upcoming plans for a major move or life-altering event.

"Moving" is one of the top five stressors in human lives. Why would one want to stick a newly adopted pet in the middle of all that?

The smart thing to do is wait until one has moved and unpacked everything and THEN adopt. Newly acquired animals should be brought into calm, relaxed and stable environments -- not a chaotic situation where people are running around trying to pack up their kids, their good china and their electrical equipment.

Then there are the people who, while on vacation in New York City seek to adopt a dog here to take back to Toronto or Ohio in their car.

"Why not just adopt a dog in Toronto?" I asked a young man yesterday. He hung up on me saying, "It sounds like you don't want to adopt!"

I don't know. Maybe he is right.

Its certainly true that I "don't want to adopt" to situations where the animals are almost certain to be returned even before the ink is dry on the Adoption contract. --PCA