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


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