Whether it’s a family member, friend or a pet, we all deal with the loss of someone close to us at some point in time.
A week ago today I lost my little girl Bessie. She was my daughter with 4 legs and a tail. I knew the time was near since she had cancer and had been fighting it for a long time. Even though I tried to prepare myself, when the time came, I felt like I was completely unprepared. I have to confess, I have had ferrets for over 20 years. They are prone to certain cancers and illnesses, so I am always aware that they will not live very long when I get one. I can’t help it, they are like potato chips, you can’t love just one.
I spent the last night tossing and turning, knowing it was my last night with her. I kept hugging her as much as I could until she gave me a look that said, “Leave me alone, I’m trying to sleep!”
The next morning I took her to the veterinarian for her final visit. When we came home I was consumed with making sure her resting spot, next to her soul mate Herb, was just perfect. For that period of time, my life seemed normal. As soon as I came in the house my world fell apart.
I realized that I had lost two of the closest loves of my life over the past 18 months. For two days after the burial I don’t remember any of the phone conversations I had. I also didn’t realize all of the emails and posts I had responded to. It was like someone invaded my body and took over for 48 hours.
With the help of friends I got out of the house and kept busy this weekend. I even helped the local Greyhound rescue. It helped, until I come home and went into my bedroom. That’s where my kids lived with me. I have not been able to clean, or move, any of the things Bessie used. I am not sure how long that process takes. When Herb died, Bessie was here to console me and I did the same for her. We made a great team. Now I don’t have a team.
I will be ferret sitting for 2 ferrets later this week while their owners are on vacation. I have also decided to do more sitting for other ferret owners and dog owners. Right now I’d feel guilty if I were to get another animal. My heart is raw.
One friend sent this question to me, and it helped put things in perspective: “Honey, if you had the choice of giving up the short time you had with this precious one for the way you feel right now, would you?” Of course my answer was NO, but I miss my kids!!!
I would like to know how other people deal with the loss of their pet? I am sure everyone deals with the loss in many different ways.
Bessie loved to drag slippers all over the house, especially ones twice her size.
Bessie was also a big Cheerleader. She could never decide between LSU Tigers and Florida Gators.
I recently did a talk for the Audubon Society on exotic animals. It was a great project for me and I learned a lot of things I never knew. Please enjoy.
A growing worldwide trade, fueled by a fascination with the rare and beautiful, often wreaks havoc on Florida’s native plants and animals. The exotic, dangerous, and illegal pet trade in the U.S. is worth billions of dollars. The intruders are exotic species — non-native plants and animals introduced into the country either intentionally or by accident. Invasive species are one of the leading threats to U.S. ecosystems and may cause devastating economic, environmental, and human impacts. The following 10 animal species are considered to be among America’s Least Wanted:
Asian Longhorned Beetle
Brown Tree Snake
European Green Crab
European Wild Boar
Red Imported Fire Ant
America has a love affair with exotic species, but unfortunately it has a dark side. Go down to Miami International Airport. It’s amazing what comes in on a daily basis from overseas.
The list includes tropical flowers, colorful fish, scorpions and spitting cobras.
Though the imports can start harmlessly as pretty plants or cool pets, far too many wind up in the wild, becoming a growing exotic menace that some say is the single biggest threat to the nation’s protected species.
Many scientists consider Florida ground zero in the invasion with more exotic imports arriving daily and more protected species at risk than anywhere else except Hawaii. Hundreds of nonnative species flourish in the wild.
Some wildlife professionals say that in a decade or two, the ecology of the state of Florida is not going to be what we’ve known all our lives. It’s going to be changed by all these exotic species.
People have long traded in goods such as seeds, plants and animals. But an explosion in global trade and Internet sales triggered a more rapid and prolific exchange. Overall, more than 50,000 species of plants, animals and microbes have been introduced to the United States.
A staggering number of (species) are being moved from disparate places to our lands, and sometimes waters, at a speed never before accomplished and it happens with little oversight.
That troubles conservation scientists who fear invasive species are threatening natural ecosystems. A plant or animal becomes “invasive” when it thrives and reproduces in new surroundings and harms native plants and animals, placing them at risk of extinction.
Most species brought to the United States are beneficial rather than invasive, including cattle and crops such as rice. But when exotics escape or are released into the wild and face no natural predators, they can cause major problems.
Dozens of other nonnative reptiles and amphibians thrive in the state’s temperate and subtropical climates.
Exotic armored catfish are most likely the result of escapes or releases from aquarium fish farms. In Florida, this species occupies waters adjacent to Everglades National Park and is considered a threat to the park. Males will dig out river banks to create burrows in which an attract female, where they lay and guard her eggs. In large numbers, burrows potentially destabilize the banks, leading to an increased rate of erosion. These fish seem to be spreading throughout the rest of the state. Over the years, the United States has introduced a large amount of wildlife and plant species from the continent of Asia, such as beetle insects. The primary reasoning for introducing these species include pest control — which is the case for the Asian beetle. However, some Asian beetle and plant species have become an invasive species in the United States since they do not have any natural predators to keep their populations from growing. These beetles have now expanded and decimated red bay trees around Jacksonville and the Palm Coast.These kinds of issues nationwide, leave nearly half the country’s 958 protected species at risk from competition by these intrusive exotics.
The invasive exotics cost the country more than $137 billion a year in damage and containment efforts. That’s one dollar for every $8 worth of food grown and nearly double what the nation spends annually on cancer treatment. Florida property owners and agencies spend more than $600 million a year.
Between diseases such as citrus canker, which killed off tons of citrus trees, weeds and the bugs that are killing forest plants and crops, the overall economic impact is very severe.
Conservation scientists say legislation and rule changes are urgently needed to limit the flow of invasive, exotic species, build a coordinated nationwide effort to determine the extent of the problem and repair the damage. The hope is to enlist others in this battle to contain and control exotics, including legislators who could funnel more money to combat the problem. The hope is also to convince backyard gardeners to plant natives and to stop owners of exotic pets from releasing them into the wild.
Efforts to restrict trade and exotic pet ownership meet heavy resistance.
Progress toward a zealous national effort to control exotics has been slow, but the call for action took on new urgency after July 1, 2009. That’s when a Sumter County family’s pet Burmese python strangled a toddler. Officials say the python was improperly caged and the family didn’t have a permit.
The resulting nationwide headlines made threats posed by exotic animals a very major issue.
Florida is cracking down on the sale of Burmese pythons. The so-called ‘reptile bill’ (SB 318) disallows importing, selling, or swapping the giant snakes and seven other constrictor species as personal pets.
Proponents of exotic pet and plant ownership and some scientists fear the new legislation and rule changes might unfairly hinder trade, limit personal freedom, and create an underground black market that could make matters worse.
Scientists are working to develop ways to analyze which species could be most invasive and what economic and environmental problems they could cause. Knowing the flow of exotic invaders may be impossible to stop, they continue looking for ways to minimize impacts.
State and federal agencies and private landowners have achieved some successes with plants, pests and animals.
The Gambian rat is an African native that can grow to the size of a raccoon. A few rats were released in 2003, by a pet breeder in the Florida Keys. The rat is yet another threat to Florida’s fragile ecosystem and human life. Gambian rats eat almost anything, including the eggs of endangered birds, snails, crabs, seeds and endangered plant life.
Many people were surprised to learn that earlier this year, an Orlando man had brought a nonindigenous species of cockroach into his community to feed his reptile. This is a bad idea for a number of reasons, but it’s nothing new. There are so many people doing the same thing.
Killer bees, fire ants, termites, root weevils, insects that spread citrus greening, yellow fever mosquitoes, gypsy moths, screwworms, exotic catfish, eels, monitor lizards and venomous spiders are just a few introduced pests that no one in America ever expected to see in their backyards.
Yet pests still get in, and some get released into the environment. Recently, there was an orange-spotted roach imported allegedly without proper shipment papers. Importing any living, and certain dead animals into Florida requires state and/or federal government approval.
Imported insects or animals can spread and compete with, reduce or eliminate other species of wildlife. They can also facilitate the spread of human disease and severely impact our agricultural commodities and our environment.
Excessive cargo for the number of available inspectors, incorrect identification of pests and smuggling are all ways in which exotic pests enter the country.Imagine Florida without fire ants. Those who lived here before World War II can remember picnics and beaches, parking lots and baseball fields devoid of fire ants. Then somebody allowed an ant-infested shipment from South America to be delivered to Alabama. Fire-ant venom can cause life-threatening anaphylactic shock in some people.
Everyone needs to be careful when importing food, animals or dead plant materials from outside of America. Military personnel returning from other countries should inspect their packed items for any pests. Fresh foods and plant, insect or animal materials require a permit issued by state and/or federal authorities.
Many countries impose hefty fines for illegal importation of plant and animal materials. In the U.S., punishment can include forfeit of all illegal items to authorities and possibly fines and probation.
The Lacey Act, enacted in 1900 and amended several times since to combat trafficking in illegal plants and wildlife, is especially strict when it comes to importing plants. Many plants and insects are sold over the Internet without proper permits and documents. Fines can be in the tens of thousands of dollars, plus jail time.
Collectors of plant, insect and animal materials must insist on proper permits, must be sure that these documents have not been falsified and must retain the documents.
Even one exotic pest-infested item carelessly discarded can wreak havoc.
Piranha are fish that are only a foot long. They are the most ferocious fish in the world. Even the most formidable fish, the sharks or the barracudas, usually attack things smaller than themselves. But the piranhas habitually attack things much larger then themselves. Piranha should be considered potentially dangerous even though there is no record of attacks resulting in death by these fish on live humans. Reported injuries are from fishermen carelessly removing fish from the hook, or recovery of drowned victims who were later eaten by these fish. These fish are scavengers by nature. It is unlawful to keep piranha as pets in Florida, but people do it! It’s punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine and a year in prison. About 1 year ago a piranha were found in a retention pond in Florida. The authorities feel these piranha were pets.
Due to Florida’s prominence in the exotic pet trade, iguanas imported as pets have escaped, or been released, and are now established in Florida. This has created unique problems for Florida’s homeowners and businesses.
The Green Iguana may be brown, gray, black or dark green. The males turn orange when they are mating. Babies and juveniles are bright green, and adults have black bands on their sides and tails. The Common Green Iguana lives in trees, usually near water. You can spot them on the branches that hang above a pond, lake, canal or river. They will sun themselves on grassy slopes, tree trunks and limbs. They are excellent climbers and swimmers. They build burrows which can weaken waterside structures like embankments, cement seawalls and docks. Green Iguanas are herbivores and live on vegetation. They like to eat brightly colored flowers like hibiscus, orchids, and bougainvillea. Their poop is generous and they leave it on our pool decks, docks, sidewalks, and rooftops. Because they eat our plantings and poop in our yards, Florida neighborhoods are waging war with the Green Iguana.
If you leave iguanas alone, they will not approach you or threaten you or your pets. However, if you corner them, they may bite, scratch, or whip you with their tail in self-defense. Both males and females are territorial and will defend the trees they live in and the area around them–including your entire backyard. If you dispose of an iguana in your backyard, another will come to take its place. If you prefer not to share your yard with iguanas, it is best to iguana-proof your home rather than trying to kill off the animals one at a time.
The Cuban Knight Anole is often confused with the juvenile Common Green Iguana because they are the same shade of green. However, on close inspection, these lizards are quite dissimilar. The Knight Anole has a triangular head, and the tail is extra long. There are yellow slash markings on the body and the dewlap is pale pink.
Most of the Knight Anoles living and breeding in the wild are in the Miami area, but they have been reported around the state and as far south as Key West. They were imported by the pet trade, but these lizards do not make good pets.
Knight Anoles are carnivores. They eat mostly large insects and fruit, but will prey on frogs, small anoles and geckos, small birds, bird eggs and hatchlings. When cornered, these lizards stand their ground, inflicting a heartfelt bite in order to protect themselves. They have sharp teeth.
It is not easy to spot a Knight Anole because they live high up in the tops of trees, hidden in leafy canopy. You may see them sunning on tree trunks, clinging to the bark while facing the ground, or sneaking across phone lines from tree top to tree top. If you see one, do not approach or attempt to capture this lizard. Outside of the Miami area, you can report your sighting to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on their Nuisance Species Hotline.
The nine-banded armadillos are common here in Florida. They are not native to the state but were introduced here in the early 1900′s. The Spanish name armadillo, which means “little armored one”, originated from the Spanish conquistadores. They now live throughout the state and can be found wherever there is dense ground cover.
The nine-banded armadillo has been observed to travel, and get across a body of water, by two methods. The first method is the ability to float across by gulping air into their stomachs and intestines (Watson, 1989), and secondly if the body of water is shallow enough, the nine-banded armadillo is able to walk across the bottom by holding its breath for up to five minutes.
Armadillos are, to some degree, beneficial because they eat adult insects and larvae. But their feeding behavior also can cause problems for property owners and managers. When looking for insects in the soil, armadillos dig numerous holes in golf courses, lawns, flowerbeds, and gardens. These holes typically are 1-3 inches deep and 3-5 inches wide. They also uproot flowers and other ornamental plants. Armadillo burrows under driveways and patios can cause structural damage; and burrows in pastures can pose a potential hazard to livestock.
On the positive side, the nine-banded armadillo has become an important animal in the research of Hansen’s disease, also known as leprosy, which effects 4,000 individuals in the United States. At first it was thought that nine-banded armadillos weren’t able to procure leprosy due to their location. Eventually, people in Texas and in Louisiana were infected with the disease, which was later discovered that it was due to the extensive handling of nine-banded armadillos – racing armadillos, extracting meat, and making souvenirs from their shells (Wilson, 1997).
One last animal we are seeing in Florida is the Wild Boar. Feral hogs have nearly the highest reproductive rate of any large animal on Earth. First brought to North America by Spanish explorers to be used as domestic pigs, European wild boars have since formed feral populations that wreak havoc on the ecosystems they inhabit. These secretive, highly adaptive opportunists seek out and destroy native plant communities without regard for rare or endangered status. They have destroyed breeding sites and degraded key habitats of several endangered amphibians, and pose a serious threat to coastal nesting areas for marine turtles. Their ravenous consumption of food upon which other forest species depend has had a direct negative impact on native animals.
Florida is bound to suffer economic loss because of alien predators. There is no sure way to protect Florida visitors and tourists from the bees or pythons. Florida is known for its many outdoor attractions, popular recreation events, coastal beaches and miles of nature trails. As for protection from other animals, like the feral hogs, they are a menace across Florida. It’s not unusual to spot wild hogs near wooded areas while traveling the highway. Wilderness hikers have to travel with care and stay alert.
Florida is a retirement haven for seniors. Families with young children flock to central Florida all year ’round for the many outdoor attractions. South Florida is a tropical paradise. Northwest Florida offers some of the finest fishing in the world; visitors and private groups come in droves to rent charter boats and enjoy the white sandy beaches that make up the emerald coast. But is it safe to vacation in Florida? Is it safe to move to the sunshine state with so many invasive animal and plant species endangering native inhabitants and humans?
No one knows for sure how much damage the predator invasion will cause. Is the federal government doing all it can to stop the predator population explosion in Florida? Wildlife experts and many residents say no. The saga continues.
Imagine what it would be like if police officers would be allowed on the street without first receiving extensive training in their local, state or federal law enforcement academy. We would think this to be outrageous and would hear the outcry of the citizenry. Why then wouldn’t we expect the same of our animal services officers who represent animals and protect citizens in the communities they serve?
In most, if not all police departments, an officer must successfully complete comprehensive law enforcement training that is consistent from recruit to recruit before being allowed to operate on the street. Have you ever wondered what animal services officers are schooled in before they’re released to the street? It is more a question of variance than one of any real constant answer even if the animal services division in a community is located within the local law enforcement entity.
I got a great article I wanted to share with you from my friend, Steve Dickstein, a writer for the examiner. This is such an important topic, which can save the lives of so many animals.
Recently, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) released a groundbreaking research study that “. . . stresses the critical role that animal services and animal cruelty investigations play in communities nationwide while pointing out the obstacles that law enforcement professionals face in responding to animal abuse.” The question is how can animal services and law enforcement officials fulfill this role without targeted basic, specialty and continuing training that will allow them to appropriately react to incidents involving the safety and well-being of animals and the communities they serve.
According to Dr. Randall Lockwood, Senior Vice President of the ASPCA’s Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects, the impetus for a recent study entitled “Professional and Public Perspectives on Animal Cruelty” was to try and get a sense of how the ASPCA could outreach to the public and law enforcement on animal cruelty. The goal is to help them take animal cruelty more seriously.
The research study was conducted primarily in three phases, as follows:
- Qualitative – – utilized law enforcement focus groups in New York, Dallas and San Diego. There were more than 30 police officers and several animal control officers included;
- Quantitative – – consisted of two 15-minute online surveys targeting the general population and law enforcement officers throughout the country; and
- Media Analysis – – gathered animal cruelty coverage visualized in print and online media outlets during a finite period. More than 175,000 news stories were gathered of which 9,552 animal cruelty stories (excluding wildlife) were deemed qualified and included as part of the analysis.
Dr. Lockwood emphasized the high level of dog ownership (78%) amongst law enforcement personnel and pointed out how that allows them to relate to the impact of animal cruelty on both the animal and law enforcement. Nonetheless, they still rank animal cruelty issues below crimes such as “. . . violence against a minor, domestic and family violence, assault against another person, drug-related crimes and property theft in terms of importance. However, animal cruelty ranks above white-collar crime and traffic violations.”
The report, in talking about obstacles in dealing with animal cruelty cases, states that law enforcement officers were “. . . being asked to do more with less. For officers it comes back to the issue of humans versus animals, and with limited time and resources, humans become their priority.”
Said Dr. Lockwood, “These findings validate what we have long assumed—that there is a major need for training for officers charged with enforcing animal cruelty laws and investigating cruelty cases. The ASPCA is unique in that we offer staff with specialized knowledge on this topic and have developed partnerships with shelters to help facilitate temporary housing for animals seized in such cases. We support local agencies across the U.S. with law enforcement training programs and other resources.”
The ASPCA training, in conjunction with the United States Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office, includes “. . . an in-depth, free on-line course on combating dogfighting and is developing a ‘dogfighting tool kit’ for law enforcement and animal welfare professionals.”
It is important to understand the multi-faceted world that animal related incidents penetrate in terms of response. The line between criminal and civil citation action is often misunderstood by the public at large with regard to animal concerns. This is further complicated by the way in which jurisdictions approach the investigation of animal complaints; sometimes handled by personnel within a government law enforcement agency, an independent government agency, contracted to a local non-profit humane entity or a combination thereof. It is often not as simple as dialing 911 for help. You should become familiar with the set up wherever you live and the reporting agency to contact should you need animal related services.
For example, under Florida Statute 828.27(1)(b), “‘Animal control officer’ means any person employed or appointed by a county or municipality who is authorized to investigate, on public or private property, civil infractions relating to animal control or cruelty and to issue citations as provided in this section. An animal control officer is not authorized to bear arms or make arrests; however, such officer may carry a device to chemically subdue and tranquilize an animal, provided that such officer has successfully completed a minimum of 16 hours of training in marksmanship, equipment handling, safety and animal care, and can demonstrate proficiency in chemical immobilization of animals in accordance with guidelines prescribed in the Chemical Immobilization Operational Guide of the American Humane Association.”
The Florida Animal Control Association (FACA) believes in “. . . an initial mandatory certification program, special certification training, and ongoing certification training for animal control and protection officers. An initial mandatory certification program for county animal control officers became effective on January 1, 1990, and requires animal control officers to complete a minimum 40 hour training curriculum approved by FACA before they can issue citations, as outlined by FL Statutes, 828.27. This certification program should impart both the knowledge and the skills needed to perform the job in a professional manner.”
In Orange County, Florida, Orange County Animal Services (OCAS) adheres to the following protocol for educating their officers:
- Florida Animal Control Association (FACA) requires a 40-hour ACO Certification Course; every 2 years required to complete 4 hours of post certification continuing education training. Training may include, but not limited to, training for animal cruelty investigations, search and seizure, animal handling, courtroom demeanor and civil citations.
- Orange County Animal Services provides ongoing in-house training including ordinance training, report writing, dangerous dogs, animal handling, impound/identification, cat and dog first aid, aging and sexing, bite investigations, cruelty investigations, heatstroke, heartworms, vaccines, medications, toxicology and citation training.
- As budget allows, officers complete Level I, II, & III National Cruelty Investigation training, including dogfighting and hoarding.
OCAS officers possess varied educational backgrounds ranging from high school graduates to those on staff with college degrees.
When asked what importance their agency places on training and development of staff, OCAS responded that:
- Animal Services places a high priority on providing ongoing training to officers to help enhance and professionalize their position. In addition, non-officer staff are encouraged to attend industry, technology or other specialty conferences when held locally. Within the last year, staff have attended conferences including the Florida Veterinary Medical Conference, Chameleon (in-house database) Conference, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) workshops, and domestic violence response training.
- Recently we partnered with the HSUS to host an Illegal Animal Fighting Investigations Workshop, which was attended by local law enforcement and animal welfare organizations.
- In November, officer and non-officer staff attended the 2010 FACA Educational Conference.
And yet, in other local communities across the country, so-called training may be nothing more than riding around with different animal control officers for a number of weeks without the benefit of any formal and dedicated training curriculum in place. If you’re a service contracted to government, depending on how the contract language is written, formal training may go almost unnoticed with some form of on the job training passing as the standard.
The point is training for animal services officers or those charged with responding to animal related concerns is all over the map. It is often inconsistent, may be even non-existent and in the words of Dr. Lockwood “quite spotty.” That is in the eyes of this column a failing of many local governments to adequately train responders to protect both animals and their human counterparts in the communities they serve.
Dr. Lockwood feels that funding is a big obstacle to obtaining appropriate training and notes that animal control is often the first thing to be cut when there are municipal budget woes. Whether located within a law enforcement agency, independent or a contracted service, he further believes that leadership is needed to take the training issue for animal responders seriously.
OCAS provides training for their officers through the Animal Services Trust Fund. According to Kathleen Kennedy, OCAS Program Coordinator for Marketing & Public Relations, “The trust fund is comprised of public donations and surcharges from citations. The surcharge line item is used for officer training. Usage of the other donations is approved by our Advisory Board and County Administration.” The current fiscal year budget for officer training is $8,500.
Said Dr. Lockwood, “Animal services officers are a vital part of the crime fighting and violence prevention team in a community.” Unfortunately they are still often perceived at the dog catcher level instead of animal care and control professionals. He believes they need respect and more recognition for the role animal services plays in the community.
Furthermore, Dr. Lockwood maintains animal services is part of the broader community response and believes in the notion of true community oriented policing instead of a lack of communication between various services. Often animal related calls are first identified to local law enforcement. If there is a law enforcement response they may then kick the call back to animal services to handle, but without certain enforcement power to fully carry on with the case the system may then bog down between those and other agencies that are needed to respond.
All responders need to be appropriately trained in their own disciplines, but also need to have the ability and philosophy to communicate as partners to help the victims they are responsible to protect. For many situations responded to there is an interconnection and the trick is to get responders that are already doing their jobs to talk with one another. In short, there needs to be better communication between agencies on interconnected cases and concerns.
The animal welfare or protection movement has managed to move laws nationwide on animal cruelty forward, but still according to the ASPCA study less than 30 percent of law enforcement officers are familiar with the penalties. There needs to be more awareness incorporated into police training and Dr. Lockwood advocates making animal cruelty training a standard part of law enforcement training.
While likening animal cruelty training today to the same lower level domestic violence training for law enforcement officers was at a point in times past, Dr. Lockwood wants to see a standard recognition for animal cruelty training similar to what domestic violence training has become. For law enforcement officers domestic violence is now more widely recognized for the true crime it is, but recognition of animal cruelty as part of an officer’s everyday psyche still has a long way to go.
Dr. Lockwood believes a multi-faceted approach to animal cruelty is needed if we are to be successful long term in fighting animal cruelty. This approach would encourage the following to take place:
- The development of decent laws to address animal cruelty;
- Persuade the public to report the animal cruelty they see by teaching them what the law is and who to call;
- Train police officers how to respond to complaints of animal cruelty, explain why they should respond and to emphasize animal cruelty complaints should be taken seriously;
- Train veterinarians how to document animal cruelty;
- Educate prosecutors on how to effectively prosecute animal cruelty cases; and
- Educate judges to take animal cruelty cases seriously and to make sound recommendations.
The ultimate goal is to set up greater involvement by law enforcement in recognizing animal cruelty and animal cruelty investigations. For example, Dr. Lockwood pointed to the high level of recognition by police of animal hoarding as a real concern. This recognition is a major step forward from even five years ago.
Animal cruelty is something that continues to invade our sense of right and wrong and desire to protect those four-legged souls we love. In a mere three-month period (between March 12 and June 14, 2010), according to the ASPCA study, “. . . there were 9,552 animal cruelty stories (non-wildlife) visible in print and online media outlets in the US . . . Nearly 300 animal cruelty stories reported on the link between acts of animal cruelty and violence on humans. Overall there were more than 109 million opportunities to see reports that those who have committed cruelty on animals are significantly more likely to carry out violence on another human being.”
The need for mandatory training nationwide for animal services, animal control, humane law enforcement officers, or whatever the given name in a local jurisdiction is long past due. Diana Culp, fellow Examiner and former director of education for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), is an advocate for training but also realistic in her thinking. She asks how certification could be made mandatory if there are not widely available programs?
Ms. Culp is correct, but whether the solution is for the animal community to develop training locally, seek regional cooperation, ask for help from the state or rely on national animal organizations to supply a curriculum with appropriate input particular to a specific jurisdiction is a concern that should be raised as a priority issue within the animal community and the governmental community that is ultimately responsible for the health, protection and well-being of both the two and four-legged citizens it serves.
Just like training police officers before they hit the street fresh with their new found responsibility, and adorned with badges of enforcement power, animal services officers should be provided with standard professional training so they too can bear the heavy responsibility their community places on them to appropriately and successfully protect and investigate animal related matters.
Training should not be considered a luxury item in an agency or organization’s budget, because it is a necessity. As citizens we need to encourage this and make sure to hold our local governments accountable to provide the resources necessary to government agencies or contracted organizations (on their behalf) to provide the community with professionally trained animal services personnel and law enforcement officers who can identify and respond to animal cruelty.
For more information on the ASPCA research study, please contact Emily Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 876-7700 x4575.
Do you care about animals? Would you like to find a new job, or need a job? Listening to the news I would think the economy is coming back, but not when I talk with a lot of people around the country. Making a living still seems to be a challenge for most. Many people are very unhappy doing the work they are doing everyday. They have passions and desires that are not being fulfilled. Others are out of work and say they want to find “anything” because they need the income.
This is the perfect time to evaluate what is really important to you, what your passions are AND help animals at the same time.
If you are out of work, or would like to do something else, this is the best time to open the doors for the kind of work YOU want to do. Do you know what you’re really passionate about? Most people have no idea. Don’t think in terms of income but what kinds of things get you really excited and leave you happy and fulfilled when you are finished. It could be ANYTHING:
1. Walking in the woods
2. Doing crossword puzzles
3. Meeting new people
4. Caring for animals
6. Talking on the phone
8. Traveling…..the list goes on and on
Recently I’ve had a number of friends ask me to help them figure out what they should do, they are not happy doing what they are doing, or they got laid off and fear they won’t find a job in their industry.
If you know what you’re passionate about, you can use that passion to help animals and open doors for your next career. Yes, CAREER, not job. The animal organizations, and charities, around the country need help now, more than ever before. Funding has dried up so they can’t hire the people they need. They also can’t afford to buy the food and supplies needed to care for the animals. Everyday I get requests from these organizations for volunteers and donations.
Right now you are asking yourself, “How can helping an organization help me”? It can, in MANY ways. You meet new people who might open the door to your next position. You also get to do the things you are passionate about. It’s a great way to find out if it’s something you want to do for a living. If so, you can put the experience on your resume. Most people have only worked in the field they have been trained in, but that is not what they love doing.
Here are some ideas for you to think about:
1. Walking and caring for animals at a shelter (if you like being outside)
2. Help the staff with ideas about how to raise money and supplies (doing crossword puzzles)
3. Feeding baby animals or holding ones that are afraid (caring for animals)
4. Cleaning up and landscaping the facility (gardening)
5. Making calls for supplies, donations, volunteers, etc. (talking on the phone)
6. Research and help find new ideas that can benefit the organization (reading)
7. Animals and supplies need to be transported to other locations (traveling)
These are only a few ideas. I could go on for quite sometime. There are also a lot of animals that need to be fostered until a permanent home can be found. They can be cats, dogs, ferrets, iguanas, pigs, etc.
What kinds of animals do you like?
There are organizations caring for any kind of animal you can think of, all over the country. All of them need help. You can Google the kind of animal you want to help with “rescue” or “shelter”, then your area. (Ex: ferret shelter Florida) You will most likely find something in your area. If not, call or email the ones that pop up. The animal community is very small and we all help each other the best we can.
I hope that this post will inspire people to find their true passion, and use their passion in a way that will fulfill them personally and help animals that have a lot of needs. At the very least, you will open doors by meeting other people who might know a company that needs a position filled with someone who has your qualifications.
The holidays are a wonderful time of year; friends and family visiting and an abundance of new toys for your pet. Those annual holiday items we think are beautiful and peaceful are viewed as toys by your dog and then a menace when they ingest it. To make sure that your holiday runs smoothly, here are a few tips to dog proof your house during the holidays. These suggestions should be used for other your other pets as well, like cats and ferrets.
Everyone loves the holiday lights that glow beautifully in the night this time of year; but there is an unseen hazard. Dogs, especially those who are over curious, will find the cords to your indoor and outdoor lights a toy. This is a hazard if your dog chews on the cords, they could expose the wiring which could shock or even electrocute your pet. To avoid this, make sure to tie your cords together and hide them under a sheet or cord cover and check regularly that your pet hasn’t messed with the cords.
The tree looks beautiful to us but to a dog it is covered with lots of toys. All those shiny, glittery balls are great to knock off the tree, then break, and then eat. And once it’s eaten, the problems multiply. The last thing you want during the holidays is a pet with a blocked intestine and in need of surgery. Set your tree off the floor on boxes and cover those boxes with a large tree skirt, and don’t hang ornaments too low where your pet can get to them.
Everyone knows the best food of the year is made during the holiday season. There is a lot of turkey, chocolates, cakes, cookies, and the list goes on. All of these foods are dangerous to your pet. After cooking a turkey, make sure the keep it out of the way where your dog can’t get at it, and when you are finished with the turkey, take the trash with the bones out to a lidded trash can immediately. Dogs love turkey bones which are sharp and can puncture the intestines if eaten. Many meals contain a chocolate treat this time of year as well. Chocolate is a poison to dogs and should be kept out of reach at all times. Keep an eye on your dog to make sure it’s not getting into anything they shouldn’t be.
Dogs react to alcohol just like anyone does. Except, your dog has a low tolerance and can get sick from it. Every year beloved pets die from alcohol poisoning. Don’t let them drink from the punch bowl or the eggnog. Keep it out of reach of your pet.
Holiday plants like poinsettias, mistletoe and holly can be dangerous to pets. Recent studies have shown that the plants are not as dangerous as they were thought to be, but they can still cause stomach upset for your pet. Use fake plants instead, just make sure that your pet doesn’t eat the fake flowers which are also dangerous.
Dogs, like humans and all other living organisms, need food. The right food is important, it makes your dog look, act, and feel better. The wrong foods can upset their stomachs, give them gas, make them appear unhealthy, or even be fatal. Here is some information to help you decide what foods are best for your dog.
Dogs should be maintained on dog food. Whether it be dry or wet food or a mixture of both. There are many dog food companies out there and all of them want you to purchase their food. But which is right for your dog. The first rule about dog food; look on the back of the package at the ingredients. If it starts with anything including the word “meal”, this is a poor food. Good foods will always start the ingredients with a real meat like chicken, lamb or beef.
Many people like to feed their dogs people food. If you know what is good and bad, then it’s ok. But where does that hazy gray line come in? The second rule about dog food; if you shouldn’t eat it, neither should your dog. Giving your dog the scraps at the end of the meal is not good. These scraps are pieces of fat, bone and unedible material, your dog doesn’t know that, but relies on you to feed him appropriately. Some of these scrap foods can make your dog overweight, cause intestinal blockage, or gastroenteritis.
So what can you feed your dog off the table that won’t raise your vet bill? Start with some vegetables. Third rule about dog food, always feed your dog raw or frozen plain vegetables. This means no canned vegetables and no vegetables marinated in butter or other tasty sauces. Good foods are broccoli, carrots, green beans and cauliflower. The downside to the tasty goodness, the gas. Broccoli and cauliflower are known to cause caustic gas. When it comes to meat, feed them steak, chicken or pork, as long as it is not covered in seasonings.
Foods for dogs that are absolute no-nos; well there’s a few and they have serious consequences. Chocolate is poisonous; it causes gastroenteritis and can lead to death if not dealt with quickly. Garlic, onions and shallots are all poisonous. If you season your meats or vegetables, make sure they don’t contain these ingredients. Here is a link to foods poisonous to your pets.
Proper food makes for a healthier dog. Feed your dog well, treat often, but make sure it’s doggie safe.
If you notice that your pet got into something they shouldn’t have, call your vet immediately. Let your vet know if you notice any changes in bowel movements, eating and drinking habits, playfulness, lethargy; these symptoms will help your vet pin point your pet’s problem and help to solve it sooner.
For more animal related information please visit this link as well.
Have a happy holiday season and remember to animal proof your house for the holidays.
The oil disaster in the Gulf is far from over. Even though it’s no longer in the news, there are a lot of environmentalists and experts in engineering, science, commerce, culture, socio-economic studies and research wanting to educate the public about solutions to sustainability issues.
Deltas and estuaries are among the most productive and the most threatened ecosystems on earth. As such, there is an unprecedented urgency for collaboration across deltaic regions of the world to share technology, develop intellectual capital and build knowledge about sustainable deltaic systems.
“The greatest tragedy that we face is not the oil spill itself, but our own willingness to believe that our wildlife and way of life is back to normal. This is a great disservice to our country, our people, and those who will be here long after we are gone”. Roger Ivens Defenders of the Coast
I want to bring more information to the pubic so people can feel empowered to do things in their own lives that will have a positive impact. Education and awareness is the key to opening these doors. On November 18th there will be an event in New Orleans. It is called, “Celebrating Critters and the Coast”. It will benefit two non-profit organizations on the front lines. They help the wildlife and companion animals affected from this situation.
Even if you can’t attend this very special event in New Orleans, you CAN be part of it. Go to our website homepage and click on “Celebrating Critters and the Coast” If you buy a ticket to the event, you will be entered into the contest to win a 1 week stay in Costa Rica or Steamboat Springs. You pick the one you want. They sleep 6-8 people and valued at $3500.
The Humane Society of Sarasota County received a dog named Buddy. He is an American Bulldog Hound Mix. He is so cute and sweet. I met him at the Ron Gordon Golf Tournament , raising money for the Humane Society, last weekend. He is dying from cancer and has only 2 years to live. I understand he lived a very hard life and now he has a wonderful home waiting for him. Since I met him, he has gone to a foster home while transportation plans are being made to get him to his forever home, in the Houston, Tx area. There is a sanctuary there that is like hospice for animals.
We would like to find a way, preferably the least stressful, to get Buddy from Sarasota to Houston. It seems that driving would be the best. If not, a direct flight with an airline that would keep him, comfortable and safe. If you can help, please let me know. I can connect you with his foster mom.
I want to thank every one in my database for all you do for all of the animals in this world. Your actions make a big difference!
UPDATE….Buddy is taken care of. He will be driven to his new home and there have been almost $2,000 raised to pay for his care. Thanks for your support!
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, also known as ascorbic acid. The vast majority of animals and plants are able to synthesize their own vitamin C. Among the animals that have lost the ability to synthesize vitamin C are: humans, primitive primates, small rodents including guinea pigs and capybaras, as well as flying mammals like bats.
In 1753 Captain Lind of the British Navy showed that the disease scurvy, which was common in sailors, could be cured by giving them lemons, limes and oranges. Ascorbic acid is readily absorbed from the intestine and stored in the liver, adrenals, pituitary and corpus luteum. Foods that contain Vitamin C include, but are not limited to: fresh fruits, mainly citrus, like lemons, limes, oranges, tomato, pineapple and papaya. It is also found in fresh vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce and beans. Amla is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C, either fresh or dried.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps the metabolic process in the body, which includes: tissue growth and repair, adrenal gland function, healthy gums and wound repair.
It is NOT manufactured by our bodies so it must be obtained by diet or supplements. Most Vitamin C is lost through urine.
Smoking and alcohol decrease Vitamin C in the body. Canning and prolonged cooking destroys most of the Vitamin C in foods. Certain medications as well as depression will decrease Vitamin C.
The animals that are similar to humans when it comes to inability to synthesize Vitamin C, are also prone to scurvy and other health issues if they don’t get it in their diet.
Many veterinarian’s say that cats, dogs and horses benefit from having Vitamin C. There is also controversy as to whether dogs and cats should have Vitamin C. Some say it can cause issues like kidney stones. Please talk with your veterinarian before giving your animal any supplements. It has been shown to help with stress in animals.
The makers of the vitamin supplement, Emergen C, have generously offered to donate hundreds of thousands of packages to animals. The packages are at their expiration date, so they are asking that they go to animals. If you have a shelter, or organization, with animals that need Vitamin C, please let me know. I can get the Vitamins to you.
There might also be other Vitamin C packets available that can be distributed to missionaries and people who need these Vitamins.
Please contact me if you have interest in knowing more and getting some of these Vitamins.
Here’s a shocker for everyone. When you continue to destroy an animal’s habitat and force them to constantly relocate it is highly possible they’ll wind up on your doorstep. The latest animal to start wandering the streets and roads outside of the forest are black bears and now the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has drafted a Bear Management Plan that could reopen bear hunting that has been banned since 1994. Scroll down where you can make a difference regarding this subject.
According to David Fleshler’s article in the Orlando Sentinel, instances of black bear sightings have been reported as they become more visible. One “. . . showed up in Weston, prowling gated communities and city streets before wildlife officials hit it with a dart at a busy intersection. Another visited Universal Orlando and hung out at the Hard Rock Hotel’s pool until it was captured. Road kills and complaints of bears in garbage have soared, particularly north of Orlando where a booming bear population is bursting out of the Ocala National Forest.”
Wherever you seem to go in this country, wildlife commissions of one sort or another are asked to address nuisance and even dangerous problems caused by deer, bears, wolves, coyotes and other animals that result because the human populace has encroached on the land where they live or altered the ecosystem that helps sustain them. A plan is often asked for and one of the options most likely to be considered will be hunting. Whenever the hunting option is proposed in a modern society we must consider how far we have regressed as a civilized people.
While the plan doesn’t immediately call for bear hunting to be reopened, it is the “most explosive” issued raised. According to the FWC, “The plan acknowledges the controversial nature of bear hunting and the need to incorporate a wider array of stakeholder involvement to explore hunting as part of Florida’s bear management program. Currently, black bears are protected in Florida and may not be harmed or killed.”
Already hunters are chomping at the bit to raise their guns and add another kill to their bloody bag. The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance has reported, “Florida is currently seeking input on a draft framework that will guide the state’s future development of black bear management plans.” They are encouraging their members to leave comments on the proposed plan at an FWC dedicated webpage.
One of the comments posted reads, in part, “As a 52 year old hunter I will voice my input to keep hunting as a viable tool of management. I have hunted black bears for many years in Canada and believe it’s a very useful method of control and research. The harvested animals can be checked and monitored for health inputs and the hunters can contribute economic support to your states wildlife agencies. One time a non-hunter asked me if it was not inhumane to hunt? My reply was ‘have you ever thought about how all animals die in the wild’? All species basically have a poor choice . . . I can say that a well placed shot from a ethical hunter will be about as humane as it gets and has my vote.”
Another comment reads, in part, “I am a lifelong Florida resident aged 64 and have been an avid and active sportsman and hunter most of my life. Please use sustainable hunting as a key part of any long term conservation effort for Florida’s black bears. Sustainable hunting will help keep bear populations in check, reduce wasteful road kill, bring populations to the carrying capacity of the habitat, bring needed revenue via hunting license sales to bear conservation issues and increase the wariness of man to this top predator thus reducing the probability of negative or life threatening human/bear interaction. Sustainable hunting is a recognized tool in sound conservation plans world wide.”
In the Orlando Sentinel article, Newton Cook, executive director of the duck-hunting group United Waterfowlers of Florida, provides what he apparently thinks is the ultimate justification for hunting. “The meat’s good, the hide’s good. We’ve got more bears than we need in some areas, not in all areas, and they’re a nuisance. You don’t just open it up for everyone to go shoot one, you control it. Hunting is a legitimate sport, very important to maintaining the proper balance of both prey and predator in the wild.” Gee, controlled legitimate killing. Perhaps this is an overly sensitive response to this so-called “sport”, but is this really the hallmark of our society we want to pass onto the next generation of the human race?
The draft Bear Management Plan was written by eight members of cross-divisional FWC staff. The team, formed in May 2007, wrote the plan in consultation with a twelve member group representing government and private stakeholder organizations. FWC states these five objectives of their draft plan:
- Manage for a sustainable bear population statewide.
- Conserve an adequate amount of functional bear habitat to support bear populations and promote connectivity between those populations.
- Create Bear Smart Communities, where residents, local government, businesses and schools all take part in reducing bear conflicts.
- Stabilize and maintain core bear complaint levels.
- Secure adequate funding and staff to enable implementation of the bear conservation program.
David Telesco, bear management program coordinator for the FWC, stated to Mr. Fleshler that “. . . he thinks the state’s bear population could sustain a controlled hunt, with restrictions, although he said he couldn’t be sure without a formal study. Less clear, he said, is whether such a proposal would win public support.”
Mr. Telesco acknowledged, “There are strident supporters for and against. We have to test the waters. We don’t have a feel for what the general public would think.” Furthermore, he said, “The bear-human conflict issue has really taken off. We have a combination of a growing bear population and infringement on their habitat.”
Thankfully not everyone is sold on the bear hunting alternative. As noted in Mr. Fleshler’s article, “. . . any move to open up hunting would be certain to face opposition from environmental and animal rights groups.”
Said Laurie Macdonald, who oversees the work of the Defenders of Wildlife Florida program team in protecting and restoring Florida’s imperiled wildlife, their habitat and a statewide ecological network, “Bear protection goes beyond bears. If we protect enough areas for the bears, we’re really protecting natural systems that all of us love and depend on. I would think the outcry from the public would be hugely against bear hunting. This is still a threatened species, and we will not support hunting of a species whose future is still questionable.”
Others seek alternatives to hunting as well. In the comments, in part, posted to FWC is a strategy heavily endorsed by the animal community on the domestic front that the commenter suggests be applied to wildlife as “. . . a long term sustainable solution. The best way to manage these animals and avoid hunting and future overpopulation is to initiate a neuter spay program as follows. The strategy would be to maintain the wildlife instincts without the unwanted population increases. Thus I suggest vasectomy procedures on male bears and hysterectomies on female bears . . . This strategy would eliminate the need for hunting and would offer a controlled means of determining population quantity and density.”
Also writing on this issue for examiner.com, Samantha Sanders urges Floridians to tell the FWC “. . . that bear hunting should never resume!”
You have until October 1, 2010 to provide public comment to the FWC. To submit new public comments, click here (Under Chapter: select “5-Strategies & Actions.” Under Line, type “All” Then click “Save”). So far, the majority of comments received have been pro-hunting. However, your actions can help reverse that and allow bears to continue to be safe from the bullets of hunters.
Ms. Sanders suggests making these points when commenting to the FWC:
- Although bear populations have increased since hunting was stopped in 1994, there are less than 3,000 bears statewide. According to the FWC, “the long-term future of black bears in Florida is uncertain.” The Florida black bear is designated by the state as a Threatened species.
- Hunting will not reduce human-bear conflicts. The best way to prevent problems is to properly store and secure garbage, pet food and other human food sources that attract bears.
She also suggests writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper to express your opinion about the option being considered to once again hunt Florida’s black bears.
Hunting is not a sport, but is nothing more than a killing frenzy. Surely we’ve evolved enough as a society to come up with better ways to live with wildlife than resorting to killing them when we as the human species created the problem in the first place.
Fall is approaching and that means lots of fun things to do. I am working on an event that will take place in New Orleans. It will benefit the wildlife, pets and other animals that have been affected by the oil disaster in the Gulf. Once I get more specifics finalized, I will be sending out information. Stay tuned…….
If you, or someone you know, has an event coming up, please send me the information. I will place it on this post, so please come back to see new announcements, anywhere in the world.
Here is information on an event that will take place on Saturday September 18th. It is an adoptathon put on by the Humane Society of Sarasota County. If you are on the West Coast of Florida, this is an event you might want to check out. Click here for a website.
If you like golf and animals, this is the event for you. Saturday, September 25th in Sarasota, FL. It’s the Ron Gordon golf tournament. It’s always a fun event, which also happens to be in Sarasota, Florida. You can contact Ron at: email@example.com
Oak Street Pelican Block Party in New Orleans on Saturday October 23rd. This is a fundraiser for the Humane Society of Louisiana and the theme is “Everything Pelican”. To learn more click here to go to their website.
If you are in the Fairdealing Missouri area on Saturday Sept. 4th you might want to stop by and say hi to these guys. They are having an adopt-a-thon. This shelter is always saving animals, even ones that are dumped on the road and no longer wanted. Any help you can give them is greatly appreciated. Click here to learn more about them.
Saturday, Oct. 2nd in Cookeville, TN. there will be the 7th annual, walk-in-the-park. It will be a lot of fun for everyone involved, including the animals. Click here to learn more.
REGAP (Retired Greyhounds as Pets) of Illinois is hosting a Reunion Picnic on September 25th. Click here to learn more.
Greater Chicago Cavalier Rescue is having a 5th anniversary party on September 12. Click here to learn more.
Saturday, October 2nd at the Loose Screw Bar & Grill, 45 Church Street , German Valley, IL . 7pm to 1 am. Join the fun at this Benefit party for Critter Camp Director Beth’s 50th Birthday to raise funds. Click here for more info.
The Humane Society of Southeast Missouri is hosting their annual Bark in the Park on Saturday, Sept. 25 at Kiwanis Park in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. This event helps raise money for the shelter. Click here for more info.
This is a very inspiring video that my mom sent me. I wanted to add it since it is uplifting and shows how connected humans are with animals. Please enjoy!
Unfortunately, there are tragedies as well. Below is an email I got today. We have had a number of really bad storms in my area. These are stories about Greyhounds. PLEASE KEEP YOUR ANIMALS SAFE!!!!
A greyhound got out because the storms had weakened the fence. Please check out your fenced areas if you plan to leave them out unsupervised. This female grey pushed open the weakened area and was missing for what seemed an eternity for the frantic parents looking for her. She was found in the river, but safe.
Other stories…… not so good an ending:
1) 2 greys get out of a gate left open – one is hit on a busy highway almost immediately – $ 2,000 later pinned and recovering. The other was found after 5 days of intense searching and she had been hit twice and required over $ 5,000 of treatments and huge help from the kennel owner
2) weaken fence with another 2 greyhounds getting out both get into a pond and 1 is bitten by a gator, but miraculously survives. Has had 2 very expensive procedures and now has a permanent pin. Let’s make these learning moments to help us all protect our seemingly invincible greyhounds.
Hurricane Preparedness Tips for your Pet
Now that we are into the heart of hurricane season, we would like to remind everyone to make sure and include your pets in your hurricane evacuation plan. If you need to evacuate and cannot take your pets, make arrangements for them ahead of time at a local shelter or boarding facility. Never leave pets at home alone.
Be Sure to:
Prepare adequate supplies of food, medications, and water for your pet. Also, be sure to have medical records, leashes, collars, food bowls, bedding, toys, trash bags for waste, and a crate/carrier ready. Because sometimes our pets can get separated from us micro chipping is also a great idea. Many shelters are overwhelmed with found pets with no ID and a micro chip would get them back to you safely and quickly.