Thursday, April 30, 2009


This is one girl in need of a happy ending NOW! 

Abby was at the shelter for a while, then got adopted. After a month, some "allergy" issues made their appearance in her new home and she is again on the lookout for a person to love her and be really really committed to keep her forever.

Abby is housebroken, rarely barks, doesn't chew, and stays off furniture. What more could one ask for in a dog! I wonder how this story will end. Fortunately, she is not actually at the shelter but that situation is unlikely to last much longer if she doesn't find a foster home or a rescue to take her till she gets adopted again.

Episodes like this only remind us how completely helpless these pets are - no control over who takes them in, how they are treated, no say in the matter of getting shuffled from place to place and seen as an inconvenience and worst of all - most of them manage to retain their complete trust in human nature throughout this ordeal.

We don't really deserve their love, do we??

Monday, April 27, 2009


Klaus the beautiful Black German Shepherd was brought into the shelter about 10 days ago - apparently, he was surrendered along with another tan-and-white pit mix, both dogs friendly as can be.

We thought he was a Belgian Sheepdog but that turned out to be wishful thinking on our part. The folks at Belgian Shepherd Rescue looked at his photos and opined that he was probably a purebred (or close to purebred) Black German Shepherd. Either way, he is a friendly, playful, and STRONG dog - he knows Sit and Shake. In fact, the speed with which he responds to a Shake would put Clint Eastwood's fast draw to shame!

Let's see how long it takes before this dog gets adopted, fostered, or otherwise 'rescued' from his current life in a box. I wonder what goes through his mind when he looks out through the door of his cage, seeing the volunteers and shelter staff coming and going, occasionally taking other dogs out for a walk or other reasons and if it is his lucky day, taking him out for a romp in the park. Being alive is probably the only consolation... Where there is life, there is hope.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

But Who's the Animal?

A friend forwarded this video - usually I don't click on links in every email I get but thankfully, I did see this one. I highly recommend you do too. It is effective, poignant, and profound..

While we are on the topic of online videos, here is another one about Free Training for Pit Bull breeds offered every Sunday at the Los Angeles Coliseum (south of the USC campus).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Small Steps

I have been trying to make a list of small things one can do to become a true member of a compassionate society - compassion towards animals, towards the environment, and towards fellow human beings. I am not including drastic lifestyle changes which, in my opinion, may not be entirely practical for the average person.

Here are some suggestions
  • Educate yourself on product testing. The PETA site has information but there are sure to be other sources. Make an attempt to find and buy 'compassionate' products. Start with soaps and shampoos - wait till you use up your existing stock and replace them with products not tested on animals
  • Understand the meaning of "Fair Trade Certified" and look for products that have the stamp. Remember that these may be more expensive than the mass market brands and ask yourself if you want to pay the extra $2 to make a difference. You don't need to go to a specialty - fancy shmansy - store to get these products. I recently saw (and bought) an FTC soap at CVS Pharmacy!!
  • Buy Trader Joes brand eggs or look for other free-range/cage-free alternatives. Note that there is some ambiguity about the definition of free-range and not all eggs sold as free-range or even cage-free imply humane conditions for the hens - so do your research.
  • Buy this book for yourself and also gift to someone.
  • If you are a business traveler, leave a comment for the hotel if you notice things that can use some improvement - e.g., does the water dispenser in the hotel gym use plastic cups? Ask the hotel to consider using biodegradable and even recycled paper cups!
If you have more suggestions, leave a comment.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Faces Behind the Numbers

6 to 8 million cats and dogs enter shelters every year in the USA. 3 to 4 million of these are euthanized by shelters each year. Almost 25% of the shelter residents are pure bred. (source). Humane societies and other animal rescue groups large and small frequently quote these statistics to underscore the tragic reality of pet overpopulation and the attendant consequences that culminate in an untimely end to a life of misery for some innocent animal.

In addition to the sheer waste of precious lives, this crisis has other effects: "...the transformation of some animal shelters into "warehouses," the acceptance of cruelty to animals as a way of life in our society, and the stress that caring shelter workers suffer when they are forced to euthanize one animal after another. Living creatures have become throwaway items to be cuddled when cute and abandoned when inconvenient. Such disregard for animal life pervades and erodes our culture." (source)

Statistics are useful in making the case for animal rescue, spay, neuter, fostering, and adoption from shelters. Statistics are likely to inspire people to make charitable donations to causes that combat the crisis. Statistics are also capable of inspiring one to volunteer one's time, talent, money, and influence and become involved with a local rescue group.

Ultimately, however, the transition from a statistics-inspired volunteer to an animal rescue crusader happens at a very individual, personal level. Stories and faces have a far greater power to move a soul than numbers however large. Romeo's story is an example of putting a face to the abstract notion of 'helping animal rescue'. Romeo is a featured UHA pet - he was hit by a car, did not receive the proper medical attention, and his femur healed incorrectly causing him to limp around in a lot of pain. The cost of the major surgery he requires (femoral head ostectomy) may have condemned him - many pet owners have to make the painful decision of putting their companion animal to sleep if money is not available and cannot be raised. Fortunately for Romeo, there are people who care enough to dedicate themselves to raising the money and donors who are willing to contribute small and large amounts to help him recover.

Featured pets and websites apart, there is no substitute to visiting your local shelter, looking into the eyes of a waggy-tailed "owner surrender" and realizing the truth behind the lines oft-quoted in animal rescue circles:
Better to light a candle for one lost dog
than to curse the darkness of man's indifference.

Saving just one dog won't change the world

but it surely will change the world for that one dog
. (source)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Wolf with the Heart of a Puppy

Many shelter pets were adopted in the past couple of weeks and the list of adoptables that seemed to be ever increasing was whittled down slightly. The lab puppy Curly, the staffie puppy Daisy Duke, Blaze the terrier mix, Mr. Melvin the pug, Arthur the beagle, and about 7 others found their "forever homes".

Of course, many deserving animals still remain patiently waiting their turn at the shelter - yearning for human contact and company, pawing at you for attention when you pass by the row of expectant faces, furiously wagging their tails with joy when someone approaches or even looks at them; soldiering on with a patient, steadfast hope that refuses to be dampened as days pass with no sign on their doggie horizon of a cozy home and a loving owner. Weekends are probably their best days with a small army of volunteer caregivers to take them for walks and offer them an all-too-brief oasis away from the noises and smells of their kennels, letting them sniff around to their hearts content, roll on grassy lawns, and generally exult in the breeze and the sunlight.

We had noticed the magnificent shaggy animal in the adjoining photo - since named Chief - last weekend but didn't have time to adequately make his acquaintance. Chief is a long-haird german shepherd who looks to me like a wolf but has the heart of a puppy. I was star struck but apprehensive when I first saw him - on approaching his kennel, he pawed at me trying to make contact, sniffed and then licked at the hand I offered in peace and friendship, and promptly pressed himself against the door expecting to be petted. I cautiously indulged him by scratching that big head - to his obvious enjoyment.

That icebreaker set the tone for our second meeting when I took him for a walk+photoshoot and could truly appreciate his size and majestic demeanour. He responded almost instantly to "Sit". In fact, he responded so enthusiastically that he not just sat, he also flopped down on all fours and partly rolled over. We tried a "Shake" and were rewarded with a left paw! A long coat brushing session then ensued, which was followed by attempts (on his part) to bite the leash and play tug of war. Much to our relief, he was easily dissuaded - a tug of war with a wolf like creature who seemed to be unaware how large he was could have gone either way ;) Overall, he was amazingly docile, good natured, and playful and it was a privilege to be seen with him! Ultimately, it was back to the kennel with the promise of more outings in the future.

We left with mixed emotions; fond memories of the brief interaction, a desire to see more of Chief in the next visit, but also the knowledge that seeing more of him at the shelter would only mean he was still not adopted...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Notes from a photo shoot

Sunday was another interesting day at the shelter - less busy than usual because the regulars were probably busy with Mothers' Day "festivities". As always, there were newer dogs to be photographed and walked, newer noses sniffing at you, newer tongues licking your hand through kennel doors, and newer pets I wished I could just take home.

There was Sophie the beautiful cocker spaniel who can do with a good grooming but looks radiant even without it. There was Cinnamon, her kennel mate who pranced around on the grass and didn't want to leave Sophie's side. There was Kenya with the unusually curled tail, Doodles the poodle looking fluffy and charming as always, two friendly German Shepherds who looked so identical in photographs that it was tough to tell which was Sara and which was Bruno, and a gentle, friendly, and petite staffie named Butterfly Kisses!! Also resident were two gorgeous Huskies who are hopefully on their way to a breed-specific rescue group, and a large shaggy friendly beast - a shepherd mix probably - who just wanted to lie down and be petted. We will be sure to take him out for a walk and photo shoot next Sunday. Watch this space!