By David S. Greene
June 10, 2010
I told you about the impressive response to the crisis in Polk County, Fla. over Memorial Day weekend. Suddenly, the county shelter had 748 dogs on its hands — in a facility designed to accommodate 375. Sheriff Grady Judd could have taken the easy way out and done away with some of the dogs. Did he? Nope. Change.org details what he did do:
On Thursday, Sheriff Judd put out a plea to rescue organizations. Rescue groups showed up from all over the state to take dogs, plus 18 went to a shelter in Broward County and another dozen to the Orange County SPCA. He temporarily dropped the adoption fee to $5 and extended the hours of operation. While the cruelty case dogs were getting all the attention, there were already dogs and cats who needed homes. The response was overwhelming. “It was like Black Friday the day after Thanksgiving,” said Sheriff Grady.
But what do you do about the 100 new animals who continue to enter the shelter each day? The numbers are still out of hand, right? Nope.
Sheriff Grady got creative there, too. In addition to the outpouring of volunteers from the community, he enlisted non-violent jail inmates to help out. The shelter already had a work program in place, which has saved the county an estimated $250,000 in labor each year. With more animals, they needed more help, and the inmates were willing volunteers. Cornelius Williams said, “I get away from the jail, you know, and I get to do something that I like to do anyway.”
Williams and the inmates get something else out of the deal, too. When they complete their sentence, they get to adopt an animal. Williams has already picked out a corgi named Watson. They’ll be released on the same day to start to their new life together.
On Friday, there were no adoptable animals left. Â None. And through it all, no kill rules remained in effect. It’s this kind of creative thinking and energy that’s ended the killing of healthy and treatable shelter pets in several communities in the United States, and with responses like these, it looks like Polk County, Fla., is on its way to join them.
The thunderstorm is coming. Â What do I do? As I’m sure you’ve noticed, thunderstorm season has started. Â That means a lot of anxious animals. Some dogs do just fine. Others get mildly anxious. Still more completely freak out. Â AAHA, the American Animal Hospital Association, has a great, readable fact sheet on thunderstorm phobia. Â Â Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue has some good natural ideas, and our BFF Dr. Patty Khuly starts the discussion here on whether or not to sedate.
Cats obsess over Obsession: We all know that animals react to scent, right? Some they like, some they don’t. Our own Dr. Tony Johnson forwarded this Wall Street Journal article about how zookeepers at the Bronx Zoo keep the big cats occupied. Pat Thomas, the zoo’s general curator, decided to see what the cheetahs liked.
The results left barely a whiff of a doubt. EstÃ©e Lauder’s Beautiful occupied the cheetahs on average for just two seconds. Revlon’s Charlie managed 15.5 seconds. Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps took it up to 10.4 minutes. But the musky Obsession for Men triumphed: 11.1 minutes. That’s longer than the cats usually take to savor a meal.
“Oh, yeah, he loves that scent,” Mr. Thomas said as Sasha blissfully cuddled up to a tree sprayed with Obsession for Men. “Just look at him.”
Dear Dr. Tony: this still doesn’t mean you should bathe in the stuff, ok?
Serious strangeness in China: I admit that I don’t understand a lot of the trends I read about these days, but this one stopped me in my tracks. Some dog owners in China don’t want their dogs to look like dogs. If the Daily Mail‘s article didn’t come with pictures, I’d never have believed it. To be honest, I’ve seen the pictures and I still don’t believe it.
If this strange creature growled at you, you wouldn’t know whether to run from his sharp claws or pat him on the head and give him a biscuit. From a distance, its striped orange and black coat makes it look like a particularly odd tiger. But it’s actually a retriever, the victim of the latest craze among some dog owners in China to dye their pets to look like other animals. The Chinese are always quick to embrace bizarre trends, and it is not unusual for owners to take their dogs to grooming parlours where they are not only given a shampoo and trim, but a multi-coloured dye job as well.
Seriously … why?
A rescue guy changes his tune on breeders: This is the most fascinating blog post I read this week. Â John Sibley is a devoted champion of rescues who never had much use for dog breeders in general. Â John’s a reasonable guy, though, and after careful thought (as well as paying close attention to my buddies Gina and Christie), he’s adjusted his thinking a bit. Â Actually, a lot.
We’re not doing ourselves any favors by alienating good breeders. I’m talking about the ones who do extensive genetic screenings on dogs they breed, who raise them in their homes with love and care and attention, who follow their progress over their lifetimes and always take them back rather than ever letting them enter the shelter system. Many of these breeders also do rescue work (quietly, quietly!) for their chosen breed(s), applying their knowledge to help those animals who do end up in shelters. By vilifying breeders as a whole, we’re driving away these people who love animals and dogs and want to help them as much as anyone.
The divine life of animals: Ptolemy Tomkins has great name, but he’s also an author who’s just come out with a book called The Divine Life of Animals. In it, Mr. Tomkins ponders a simple question: do animals have souls? And if so, do they go to heaven? In this interview with Peggy Frezon, he takes the second question head on.
Ptolemy- Yeah they do, to my thinking. But we need to rethink what heaven is, because our conceptions of it are too simplistic. We need to conceive of a heaven big enough to accommodate the world in all its dimensions. Not just a little room with some harps and halos and a “no pets” sign at the door!
Needless to say, Mr. Tomkins’ book has been added to my Amazon wishlist.
I always like to hear from readers, especially if you have tips, and links for interesting stories.Â Give me a shout in the comments, or better yet,Â send me an e-mail.
Photo credits: Shelter Dogs, FEMA photo library. DogCat thing, China Foto Press/Barcroft Medi.