Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pit Bulls -- Heroes and Friends

Despite a bad rap in the media, pit bulls are typically loyal, loving, intelligent family dogs who are often known to take heroic action to protect those they love. Jasmine, a pit bull living in Alexandria, Virginia, recently saved her family from disaster. When a fire erupted in the dryer vent of the family's home in the middle of the night, Jasmine barked nonstop waking her family so they, and Jasmine, could escape unharmed.

The Washington Animal Rescue League adopts many wonderful pit bull dogs into loving, caring forever homes. Two staff members adopted pit bulls in recent month. One lives with a baby and other animals; the other lives with another dog and comes to work with her guardian every day. Trixie is another successful League pit bull adoption. Her new family, including two boys and another dog, reports that Trixie has lots of energy but knows how and when to chill, too. That's her in the picture above, snoozing with her buddy Jack.

For a wonderful fiction story highlighting the hard luck life of a pit bull named Cash, check out Dog Lost by Ingrid Lee discussed in the March 5th Post

Friday, March 27, 2009

Marvelous Mila Chills in Her Forever Home

I am delighted to end the week by sharing good news from a recent adopter.
Mila, who lived at the League for 4 months and was definitely a staff favorite (arent' they all?), is happily adjusting to the good life in her new home. Known for her boundless energy, her newest best buddy Gabe writes She's calmer with each day - and she absolutely loves her two new dog beds. I'll send some more active pictures later on, but three weeks ago I never would have thought I'd be able to sit with Mila on her dog bed and pose for a picture!
Doesn't she look absolutely GREAT!?!?!?!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Remembering Rosie

March 4, 1995 - March 13, 2009
For years I facilitated a humane education program that centered on well-constructed lesson plans chock full of fun, enriching activities, but no live animals. In 1999 I decided to revamp the program to include dogs, IF I could find the right dogs. That's when I met Rosie and her person Stacey. Rosie was one of those dogs that made you smile. She didn't do tricks or dress up in clothing, but when she walked into a classroom there was magic. Rosie was a leaner. She pressed her whole body against you. Kids ended up with Rosie fur all over their pants! And, they loved it.
Several years ago Rosie was unable to visit her 5th grade class at Ross Elementary School. At the very time of the scheduled visit, Rosie was undergoing surgery; a tumor was removed from her front left leg. I talked to the students about the surgery; the worry that filled the classroom was thick. Our positive thoughts paid off -- not only did Rosie make a full and speedy recovery, but she had an unusual patch of fur on her leg to commemorate the event. The veterinarian had taken fur from another spot on Rosie's body and grafted it over the area where the growth had been. The result was a funny patch of hair that grew against the rest of Rosie's fur creating a strange pattern and an opportunity for Stacey to remind students why it is so important to regularly take your dog to the veterinarian. Rosie was always the teacher.
In addition to visiting students and stressing the importance of proper animal care, Rosie volunteered to listen to children read books at Prospect Learning Center. She enjoyed the stories, but liked the students' gentle pats the best. Sometimes it was hard for a student to read AND pet Rosie at the same time, so the reader would put the book aside and pat Rosie.
Later, Rosie visited Tubman Elementary School. Fourth graders were engaged in a photo project and Rosie happily posed with her ball, demonstrating a fun activity that kids could play with dogs. She even managed to get her left leg front and center in most of the photos.
The trouble with sharing your life with a companion animal is, that you know, in all likelihood, you will outlive your friend by many, many years. Over time, we can have had numerous animals in our lives and each one is special. Photos, memories and tributes keep our animals with us. Stacey shared one of her tributes to Rosie with me, and I am happy to share it with you.

Rosie (a.k.a. Rosie the Riveter, Rosie-pie, Ambassador of Love) was born in the Tompkins County Animal Shelter in Ithaca, New York. When she and her five siblings were four days old, they came home with their mother to receive foster care. Rosie stayed for good.

She was an avid hiker, tennis ball catcher and swimmer, and for several years she was a blood donor for dogs in need. Her truest passion, though, was meeting new people and spending quality time with her trusted human friends. Her daily walks were constantly punctuated by people greeting her and commenting on her friendliness and beauty.

Rosie’s gift for spreading happiness found a most useful outlet in the Washington Humane Society’s Humane Education Program. During her six years as a volunteer, Rosie visited with hundreds of students in D.C.’s public schools, helping them to understand how dogs think and feel, and the responsibility people have to help dogs live healthy, happy, fulfilling lives.

Rosie will be missed, by many, beyond words. Take a lesson from her approach to life: revel in its joys, forgive its shortcomings, and leave it with no regrets.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Another Happy Ending! Juanishia Loves Lady

Juanishia & Lady
Juanishia, a Washington Animal Rescue League caretaker, loves every animal who comes through our doors. Every so often, however, there is that one very special dog or cat who needs a little more love and a little more attention. Such was the case with Violet. The 5 pound, 10-year-old chihuahua was rescued from a puppy mill several months ago. No telling how many litters of puppies she had over the years. In between the time of her rescue and her arrival at the League, she was living in a shelter in Georgia. Juanishia started spending a little extra time with Violet every day. She was determined to give the dog all of the love she had been missing for so long.
Day after day Juanishia watched potential adopters walk right past Violet's den. Finally, Juanishia decided enough, she adopted the sweet dog with the sad eyes, took her home and named her Lady. "She sleeps with me and gets along great with the cats, I just love her," Juanishia reports.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Canadian Seal Slaughter Started Yesterday, We Can Help.

It started yesterday. Mass killings. Reportedly, 9,500 baby seals were brutally killed in just one day. According to the Humane Society of The United States, sealers made their way into the harp seal nursery off Canada's east coast and began the work of clubbing to death weeks-old pups—some who haven't even learned to swim or eaten their first solid meal.

The annual commercial seal hunt has begun, and sealers will club or shoot
up to 280,000 baby harp seals by the time it's over. The animals are being killed for their fur—victims of a heartless industry that puts fashion whims before compassion.

We can make a difference. Write letters to the Canadian government telling them that the seal slaughter must stop, persuade local grocers and restaurants to boycott Canadian seafood (Commercial seal hunting is an off-season activity conducted over just a few days by a few thousand fishermen from Canada's east coast), and share information about the Canadian seal slaughter with your family and friends. To find out more, go to http://www.hsus.org/protectseals.html or www.PETA.org.

Monday, March 23, 2009

One Lucky Dog!!!!

The very best, most wonderful thing about working at the Washington Animal Rescue League is watching one of our dogs or cats go home. The second best, most wonderful thing about working at the Washington Animal Rescue League is hearing how well one of our cats or dogs is doing in his/her forever home. I saw Cadbury, the smiling dog, leave the League and said to his adopters, "Please keep in touch and let us know how he is doing". And they did! Read the letter below from Pat and Bill about their new pal Cody.

Sorry for the delay in providing an update on Cadbury. We have changed his name to Cody because he looks a little like a Coyote and Cody has a Western ring to the name. He is a very good dog and so affectionate. He seems to be house broken as we have had one accident. He sleeps peacefully all night and automatically goes to his bed and lies down when we sit down to eat with no begging for food.

We go on two or three walks a day for at least two hours. The first few days there was lots of leash pulling but that seems to be over and he now walks very nicely by our side on a loose leash. He likes the other dogs we meet on the walks and will play with them if they are willing. We walked seven miles yesterday to the Lincoln Memorial and back and he was still ready to play in the backyard when we got home. Today we went to the Shirlington dog run and had a blast. He played great with all the other dogs both large and small. Cody meet a red Australian Cattle Dog
http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Australian_ Cattle_Dog and the two of them took off like greased lightning trying to herd each other. It was the first time I saw him run a full speed with out any restraints and it was quite exciting. One of the women with a small dog complemented him on being a gentle playmate. When I called Cody to come to me in the dog park he came right away with his tail wagging.

We play fetch with a ball and it works real well. He gets the ball and brings it back and drops it in front of me. The other day we were walking up the U.S. Capitol grounds and we ran into a group of high school students. Cody was like a rock star as everyone wanted to pet him and play with him and tell him how handsome he was. He returned their warm affection.

Yesterday he went to the dog spa and got a bath and a combing to remove his winter under coat of down. He looks better than ever now.

I am not sure how Cody got to the shelter but it must be a sad story for the previous owners as he is such a good dog. Please thank everyone at the WARL for all the work they did to help Cody through the period in his life before the adoption. We have been very impressed with the professionalism of everyone we meet at WARL and have told glowing stories of your success to everyone we met. I hope you enjoy the pictures below.

Pat, Bill, and Cody

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Circus is Here -- Do Something!

Ringling Brothers paraded elephants down the streets of the Nation's capital yesterday with moms, dads, and kids lining up to get a good look at these enormous herbivores . In celebration of St. Patrick's Day the elephants were dressed in green hats and beads -- does that make sense? I've yet to see an elephant donning a hat or wearing beads or feathers when I'm marveling at the elephants on the elephant cam at http://www.tappedintoelephants.com/asp/index.php or watching a documentary highlighting elephants in their natural habitat.

Even people at the parade seemed confused by what they were watching. One parent was quoted in the Washington Post saying, "I've never been a big circus person. I'm not big on captivity. Me as a parent, I want my son to be able to enjoy the experience, but as a human being, it's not something I like. I'm sure the treatment the elephants receive from [Ringling Bros.] isn't as good as they would receive in a zoo, since they have to be trained to perform." But there he was with his two-year-old son. I suggest that they pop some popcorn and watch Planet Earth or Animal Planet together.

Since Ringling and other circuses refuse to change their ways, some communities are taking legislative action to end the abuse. Recently, the Joint Environment Committee of Connecticut's General Assembly passed HB 6555, a bill to protect elephants from abusive use of cruel and inhumane devices such as bullhooks and chains. This comes at a time when the trial against Ringling for violations of the Endangered Species Act is wrapping up in Washington, D.C.

Evidence from the trial has revealed that elephants are chained for an average of more than 26 hours at a time, and sometimes for as much as 60 to 100 hours, as the circus moves across the country, said Nicole Paquette, Senior Vice President of Born Free USA. Internal documents obtained by Born Free USA also reveal:
  • Ringling's animal behaviorist reported "an elephant dripping blood all over the arena floor during the show from being hooked."

  • In internal emails, a Ringling veterinary assistant reported that "[a]fter this morning's baths, at least 4 of the elephants came in with multiple abrasions and lacerations from the hooks." "The lacerations were very visible ... (a handler) applied wonder dust just before the show." Wonder dust is used to stop the bleeding of a wound and it is charcoal in color which covers up the spot from public view.

  • Another report saw Troy Metzler, one of Ringling's elephant trainers, "hitting Angelica (an elephant) 3 to five times in the stocks before unloading her and then using an electric prod ..."

  • Even circus CEO Kenneth Feld admitted in court that "he's seen handlers hit elephants under the chin, behind the ears or on the legs with a bull hook."

For more information on elephants and what you can do to help them go to:




Write to your legislators, media outlets and local venues where circuses rent space. Tell them that the abuse must stop. There are so many wonderful forms of entertainment that don't include animal cruelty -- ball games and other sporting events, movies, plays, and concerts. Enjoy the weekend. Do something fun that does not involve an elephant wearing a Leprechaun hat.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

We Can Make a Difference!

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus will be pulling into Washington, D.C. this week. Ringling Bros. is currently on trial in federal court in Washington, D.C. for the cruel mistreatment of the elephants in its care. Many people who purchase tickets to the circus have no idea what life is like for a circus animals. Patrons need to be informed.

Those who want to see an end to the use and abuse of animals in traveling circuses, and want to help spread the word, are invited to help leaflet before each show at the Verizon Center, March 19-22nd. Volunteers can sign up online for one or more shifts at http://www.noanimalcircus.com. For more information, e-mail to NoAnimalCircus@hotmail.com.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Rare Visitor in Washington

Washington Post photographer Linda Davidson took this picture of a snowy owl, and she didn't even have to go to some far off arctic place to get it. She snapped the photo in downtown Washington, D.C. The snowy owl, an unusual sight this far south, usually winters near Canada . Hopefully, the stop in the nation's capital was just a temporary layover on the bird's journey. Especially since snowy owls are known to feast on lemmings, a rodent common in arctic regions but not so in Washington.
To find out more about snowy owls go to: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Snowy_Owl_dtl.html or http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/snowy-owl.html

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dog Lost -- One Sad Story Worth a Read

Dog Lost, by Ingrid Lee is one of those books that you read and say, "Wow, glad this is just a story!". Truth be told, many of the horrors that befall that Cash, the beloved pitbull puppy belonging to 11-year-old MacKenzie, happen to animals every day. Cash is kicked by MacKenzie's alcoholic father, then thrown in the trunk of the car and then dumped and that's just beginning. The rest of the book focuses on MacKenzie's search for his dog and Cash's will to survive. Boy and dog are eventually reunited, but not after both suffer terribly. In real life, many abused and abandoned animals' stories do not end happily.

Read Lost Dog and think about how you feel about breed bans. Should any one particular breed of dog be outlawed? If all pitbulls are euthanized, then will another dog be labeled a menace to the community? What about Doberman Pinchers? How about Rottweilers or German Shepherds? It's not the breed that's bad, it's the people who treat the animals horribly, terrifying them so, their only recourse is to react like a dog.