Rescuing the Abandoned Animals of Fort McMurray

The eyes of the world are focused on Fort McMurray, Alberta as wildfire still rages across the province consuming everything in its path. With over 88,000 people displaced by the fire we’ve heard many stories of heroism in the face of danger. Canadians are banding together to help the victims of the fire expecting nothing in return. But there are other victims of the fire who have gone virtually unnoticed, they are the forgotten victims of every disaster, I am talking about the animals of Fort McMurray. Those who through no fault of their own got left behind during the mandatory evacuation of the city.

I know many people are wondering why so many people fled leaving their beloved family pets behind. Some have even said that the people of Fort McMurray don’t care about their pets. Nothing could be further from the truth. Evacuation orders came down so quickly that many people were caught off guard.

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16 year old Jada Polem rides her Quarter horse Mya out of Fort McMurray in order to save her.

One woman describes being caught downtown away from her home when ordered to evacuate. By the time she got back to her neighborhood it had been cordoned off and police were letting no one enter the area. She was told to leave despite the fact that her dogs were home alone and she wanted to get them out. Another woman managed to load her family and three dogs into her vehicle but was forced to abandon her pet pig because there was no room to transport him out of the hot zone. Others were forced to leave their pets behind because they were told emergency shelters would not admit animals. 16 year old Jada Polem rode her horse Mya out of the hot zone in order to save her, but sadly for many taking pets with them was not an option they were given.

Whatever the reason people were forced to abandon their pets, they did not do so willingly as is evidenced by the number of requests for rescue received by the small but determined group of people who set up a Facebook page to help get animals out of the hot zone. The local Fort McMurray SPCA spent last weekend rescuing pets…in secret. Why the secrecy? For reasons we have yet to find an explanation for the group was given the go ahead to enter the hot zone but was banned from publicizing their rescue efforts for 96 hours.

We could tell you all the stories of heroic rescues, but you can find those on your own. What we would rather discuss today is the fact that every time there is a disaster, the animals are overlooked. In times of emergency pets are viewed as insignificant baggage by government run rescue agencies. The lives of our pets are deemed unworthy of saving.

While I understand the rush to save human lives, I fail to understand how animals are deemed unimportant, and viewed as possessions that don’t matter. Quite frankly, if I am ever in a situation such as this my animals will not get left behind. I will find a way to get to them and get them out of harms way. After all they are my family.

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An RCMP officer captures wayward pet pig “Marshall” who got left behind during evacuation of Fort McMurray.

But Canadians are not content to leave the animals of Fort McMurray to fate. Local kennels have stepped up to take in animals free of charge and many people are opening their homes to take in those who did not leave their animals behind. “Rogue” groups of rescuers are breaking into homes to get animals to safety at the request of fire victims. The woman I mentioned earlier has been reunited with the dogs she was forced to leave behind, and the pet pig who wouldn’t fit into the car has been found and rescued thanks to a cop with a watermelon.

Although there are many family pets still trapped in the hot zone, efforts are under way to save as many as possible. Whatever happens, one thing is clear, this country seriously needs to review their policy on family pets and disaster protocol. No living thing should get left behind when an evacuation is called for.

For anyone reading this who still has pets in the hot zone, the Facebook group set up to co-ordinate pet rescue can be found here. It is a closed group so you’ll have to request to join. The Fort McMurray SPCA can be reached through this Facebook page, and have a form to fill out if you are requesting rescue for your animals.

We here at Everything Worth Knowing will continue to monitor the situation as best we can. We ask one last thing of our readers…if you’re the praying type, please pray to whatever God or Goddess you worship for the safety of the animals of Fort McMurray.

Those wishing to donate to the animal rescue efforts can start here. We will provide more links as we find them.

Until Next Time Remember,

WE ARE THE VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS!

Everydogsmom

United We STAND, Divided We FALL

When I retired from hands on rehab training of difficult rescues due to health concerns a couple of years ago, I knew that I could not leave the animal rescue/advocacy world completely. After all, I had spent literally half of my adult life working with rescue dogs, and that desire to help these animals does not just disappear because your body decides it wants to quit. So I shifted my focus and began speaking out on the issues that face animal rescuers on a daily basis, and what if anything can be done to solve some of them. I have learned a lot in my twenty five years, most of it the hard way, and that knowledge has made me more convinced than ever that education is the key. Awareness is everything, and I could help by spreading that awareness, and trying to educate people to the truth of what is happening, and how to stop it.

I realize that might sound arrogant to some people. Some would read the last paragraph and think “oh so she knows how to fix everything does she?” The answer to that question would of course be no, because no one knows everything, but I do have a pretty good idea of what might set things off in the right direction.

One consistency I have noted in my years of working with rescue dogs is the infighting that goes on between rescue organizations. Very rarely do we see rescues work together for the good of the animals. I’m not saying it never happens, just that when it does it’s the exception not the rule. This “infighting” is counter productive and wastes valuable time that could be spent working with animals in need, destroys good rescue organizations, causes general havoc, and it needs to stop, for the good of the animals. The same thing goes on between advocacy groups, even when they are fighting for the same cause, and that is part of the problem.

“United we stand, divided we fall” isn’t just a quote from some guy no one can remember, it is true. Those who tirelessly work to try to make a difference would stand a far greater chance of success if they all worked together towards a common goal. The problem is human nature and ego get in the way. People’s inability to set aside petty differences, or the desire for being “known” for what you do get in the way of working with anyone else to do it. When that happens, animals suffer.

A perfect example of this is the current case with the OSPCA in Chatham/Kent Ontario. The #Chatham21 are 21 pit bulls the organization is applying for destruction orders on. The dogs were seized when a suspected dog fighting operation was raided in the Chatham area, and are now in the custody of the OSPCA who is seeking the order to destroy the dogs despite offers from qualified rescues outside of the province and south of the border to take responsibility for the rehabilitation of these dogs. The OSPCA claims that they do not have the legal right to transfer custody of these dogs to any other agency. It is the opinion of other advocates and rescuers in Ontario that if they can apply for an order of destruction they can apply for the right to transfer custody of the dogs. The OSPCA refuses to do so.

Were the OSPCA willing to work with other qualified rescue operations the lives of these dogs could be turned around, but the OSPCA is not known for co-operating for the good of the animals. In fact, in recent years they have been legally stopped from committing mass euthanization of animals for questionable reasons. (OSPCA plans mass euthanization over ringworm outbreak at Newmarket shelter) in that case as well other organizations came forward saying they would take responsibility for some of the animals in order to ensure they were treated, but the OSPCA refused to release any of the animals to another organization. (Ringworm is a treatable disease) It was later determined there had been no outbreak.

Is it glory the OSPCA is seeking? What is it that stops this organization from working with others for the good of the animals? Most Ontario rescuers and advocates believe there is a darker motive for the OSPCA’s refusal to work with other rescue groups. That motive is MONEY.

In an ongoing case involving the OSPCA 71 dogs lives are being held for ransom. The OSPCA is refusing to return the dogs until the owners of the rescue they were seized from pay half a million dollars for their “care” while in the custody of the OSPCA. The organization threatens to kill the dogs if this “bill” is not paid. (OSPCA demands $500,000 from rescue operation to get their seized dogs back)

It’s bad enough that we can not get rescues to work together, but when an organization with a government contract starts seizing animals from other rescue agencies and holding them for ransom there is a serious problem. The only way to solve that problem is for the rest of Ontario’s registered rescue organizations to band together and demand oversight of the OSPCA. After all, remember “united we stand, divided we fall!”

Have a Great Weekend Everybody!

Namaste’

Everydogsmom

 

 

Busting the Myths About Small Breed Dogs and Training

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Aggression in small breed dogs is neither “cute” nor “funny” In fact it’s a problem.

My husband and I have spent the past ten years taking in the dogs other people discard. As a result we now live with a large pack of rescued dogs no one else wanted. Most of them are seniors.

Living with this many dogs would be total chaos for the average dog owner, but for us it’s just daily routine. Every time we bring in a new dog there is a transition period. This transition period is the first few weeks (sometimes months) that a dog is with us. We use this time to assess any issues they may have and work out a plan to correct those issues.

One similarity we have seen in every small breed rescue we have taken in is a lack of proper training, and in some cases no training whatsoever. Fact is, the average small breed dog owner seems to believe that like a cat, the small breed dog needs to be taught nothing but potty skills, and therein lies the problem.

A dog is a dog no matter what it’s size. Humans live harmoniously with domesticated animals, and have done so for hundreds of years, but that does not mean that domesticated animals pose no danger to humans. An untrained dog (a dog not given boundaries, regardless of it’s size) is a ticking time bomb of potential dangers.

Firstly, let’s address some common misconceptions about small breed dogs.

1.) Small breed dogs are “indoor” dogs.

There is no such thing as an “indoor” dog, for that matter there is no such thing as an “outdoor” dog either. All dogs regardless of size need exercise and socialization with people and other animals, they also need a warm, dry place to sleep out of the weather, and interaction with humans and other animals.

2.) Small breed dogs never bite.

Seriously? I actually can’t believe I have to say this but…the fight or flight response of small dogs has a finer trigger than the same response in large breed dogs. Small breed dogs are quicker to bite than their larger breed relatives.

3.) Small breed dogs can’t hurt you if they bite.

Again, I can’t believe I have to say this, but while the bite of a small breed dog might cause less damage, there have been cases (thankfully few and far between) in which small breed dogs left alone with infants have actually killed them. Assuming the bite of your small breed dog is no big deal is a stupid move.

4.) Aggressive behavior in small breed dogs is “cute” and they will grow out of it.

NO, it isn’t, and NO they won’t! Aggressive behavior is NEVER cute or acceptable, and ignoring it will not make it go away, in fact it may very well make it worse! By not addressing and correcting aggression in your small breed dog you are telling them the behavior is acceptable, and they will repeat the behavior because they think the outcome pleases you.

5.) Small breed dogs can not be disciplined because they are too fragile.

Firstly, when we say “discipline” your dog, we are by no means asking you to beat your dog (and if we ever saw you doing so we’d call the authorities.) We are saying that your dog needs to be taught the difference between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior. Aggression in dogs in UNACCEPTABLE canine public behavior. You wouldn’t allow your three year old child to go around the neighborhood punching people would you? Of course not! You would take the child aside and explain that we do not hit others. So why does the concept of curbing your small breed dog’s aggression seem alien to you? Why would you think you can’t use positive reinforcement to discipline your dog?

For some people, the small breed dog is chosen to replace the human children they are unable to conceive, or whom have left home to live their own lives. There is nothing wrong with choosing to bring a pet into your home to fill a void. The problems start when the decision is made to treat the new pet like a human child instead of a dog. Doing so creates issues, and before you know it you have a snarling snapping bundle of fur that acts aggressively towards anyone who isn’t “family.” (and sometimes they aren’t too fond of “family” either.)

Every dog, whether it’s a five pound Chihuahua (the smallest dog in our pack) or a hundred and thirty pound Dane cross (the largest in our pack) has the potential to be an aggressive dog. Most people correct aggression in their large breed dogs, yet fail to do so with their small breed dogs. This is a dangerous habit for a couple of reasons.

1.) Your dog may bite a stranger, and that could cause your dog to lose it’s life.

2.) Your dog may attack a large breed dog and end up with life threatening injuries or dead.

Dogs are dogs, and if we plan to live with them, we need to understand their needs. Dogs need to be lead into the right behavior patterns, and that does not just “happen as they grow.” Like children, they have to be taught proper behavior, and like children that teaching will need to be constantly reinforced.

Please don’t be a part of the problem. Train your dog (no matter what size it is) and be part of the solution. Raising a good dog is as much work as raising a good child, more work even, because your dog will ALWAYS have the mental capacity of a child, and you will ALWAYS have to reinforce behavior training.

Until Next Time Remember,

A Trained dog is a GOOD dog! (well…most of the time)

Everydogsmom

Merry Christmas (Or Happy Holidays, whichever doesn’t offend your sensibilities)

This is the time every years when we wish you all the best for the holiday season.  While we here at “Everything Worth Knowing I Learned From My Dog” celebrate Christmas, there are many holiday festivals being celebrated at this time of year, so we wish you all the best for whatever holiday you celebrate!

Our dogs are all busy getting ready for a visit from “Sandy Paws” who brings them treats and toys every Christmas. They’ve all been extra good these past few months to avoid getting on the “naughty pet” list.

We want to take this time to wish you all a safe and happy holiday, and let you know that this will be our last blog post of 2015. We will be going on Holiday hiatus until January 2nd 2016.

Our plans for the new year include spreading awareness for senior rescues, and continuing the fight against BSL. We hope you will join us in our efforts.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Everydogsmom & the Perry St. Dogs

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Rescuers Must Band Together to STOP the PETA/DBO Propaganda Machine…For The Sake of Animals

Today when I booted up my computer, the rescue world was awash with the news that the notorious DBO (dogsbite dot org) and PETA had joined forces. Why is this such alarming news? Let me explain.

DBO run by the infamous Colleen Lynn, is an organization bent on eradicating pit bulls from society. They do so by making up their own bite statistics that support their bogus theory that all pit bulls are born vicious. Along with the equally infamous Merrit Clifton, DBO skews the numbers to support their bogus theories.

postcard mailed to Nathan Winograd by Ingrid Newkirk

postcard mailed to Nathan Winograd by Ingrid Newkirk

PETA is run by Ingrid Newkirk who supports the DBO’s theories that pit bulls should be eradicated. But PETA is an organization with a 97% kill rate, who’s leader has also been heard to say that there should be NO companion animals, and that no animal has the right to life. (See photo)

Pit bull advocates have been fighting to control the damage done by Colleen Lynn and her DBO nutters for years. Nathan Winograd, the father of the NO KILL movement has been fighting against Newkirk and her PETA scam artists for years. Now these two fraudulent groups have joined up and are reportedly working together against pit bulls, and animal rescuers in general. So what’s the next step for true animal advocacy groups?

The answer is simple, advocacy groups need to swallow their pride and work together to combat the damage done by PETA and the DBO. The time has come for advocates to band together to eradicate PETA and DBO. For far too long animal advocacy has been reduced to a number of small groups who do things their own way and won’t work with other groups who do things differently. It is time we all realized we are working towards the same goals, and that those goals have some pretty serious enemy factions working against them. If we are to change the course of rescue, we must be willing to put aside those differences and work together to let the world know that these two organizations are not what they make themselves out to be.

While those who work in legitimate rescue are aware of the lies and the underhanded tactics used by PETA and the DBO, the average citizen is not. It is up to us to make them aware. I urge all animal bloggers and rescue workers to blog about this, do some research, learn about what PETA and the DBO have done to pull the wool over the eyes of the general public, spread the word that these organizations are not what they seem and can not be trusted. Make it known that you believe in NO KILL, you believe in rescue, and you DON’T believe all the pit bull hype. We need to put an end to the PETA/DBO propaganda machine. People need to learn the truth. Speak out! Be a voice for change!

Everydogsmom

Ontario’s BSL legislation did NOTHING to prevent this tragedy

I know I haven’t written in a while, but something happened last night in my home province of Ontario that I can not let go without addressing. You see last evening a Hamilton man was attacked and killed by a dog. Of course this morning’s early news reports had the dog identified as a pit bull (no surprise there really, the media has demonized the pit bull for years.) however the dog who killed this man was not a pit bull, it was a Sharpei cross. All early accounts of this tragedy have the dog attacking randomly with no provocation, a fact that has never been true in a single bite case I have reviewed in my 26 year career in animal rescue and rehabilitation. Dogs do not attack without a reason, but most people are completely unaware of the behaviors that may trigger a dog bite, therefore when it does happen they are clueless as to cause, and we get reports that the dog just “attacked for no reason”.

Due to the fact that people are so clueless in their handling of what we call “bully breed” dogs, these attacks are labeled as random, and the dog is labeled aggressive. In some cases, the label fits, as in the case of the Hamilton man killed last night. Clearly this was an aggressive Sharpei mix with a hair trigger, so to speak. However, how did this dog get so aggressive?

Dogs are not born aggressive, it is trained into them, sometimes purposely and other times completely accidentally. While a dog’s instinct may cause it to strike out to protect itself, for the most part dogs are passive loving creatures when properly cared for. Sure there have been the OCCASIONAL cases where a dog has a brain imbalance and strikes out for no reason, but this is not the norm.

I’m tired of dogs being demonized for their breed. People keep expecting to find “SAFE” breeds of dogs to bring into their home, and therein lies the problem. There is no such thing as a “safe” breed of dog. All dogs no matter what their breed or size are capable of attack if so provoked. The media would have you believe that only “certain” breeds of dog are aggressive. They demonize pit bulls so that every time someone is bitten the first question that gets asked is “it was a pit bull wasn’t it?” In many cases pit bulls are blamed before the media is even told what the breed of the dog in question was.

Demonization of bully breed dogs and BSL legislation lead people to falsely believe that the only dog they should be afraid of is a pit bull, and that ANY other breed of dog is safe. This just simply is not true! ALL dogs have the CAPABILITY to bite and cause damage. The answer does not lie in banning breeds but in teaching people HOW to handle a dog properly, and in holding OWNERS responsible for the actions of their dogs. We need to see a more serious attitude from those who bring dogs into their homes.

“That’s a good philosophy” you say, “but an aggressive dog is an aggressive dog and if a dog bites once it should be labeled as aggressive forever!” Should it? I don’t see it that way, but then again I do live with a 120lb. former bite dog, who since coming to me has never shown any aggression towards anyone or anything. Of course Phoenix didn’t kill anyone, he was mishandled during initial rescue and bit out of fear, although according to the AC worker he bit the bite came out of nowhere. Of course if anyone had lifted me off the ground by the neck using a six foot catch pole I probably would have bitten them too! So the excuse that the bite came out of nowhere is just that, an excuse for bad human behavior which triggered aggression in a frightened animal.

My point here is simply this, breed bans do not work simply because there is no way to isolate dogs that “might” bite by breed. We need dangerous dog laws that hold dog owners responsible for the actions of their dogs, and we need people to understand that dog ownership is a privilege not a right. If you are going to own a dog especially a large powerful dog, then you need to do your homework and learn about the breed and how to properly handle it before diving in head first. Many bite tragedies happen simply because a dog’s owner is not paying attention to the signs from their dog that tell them the dog is uncomfortable with a situation and might strike out.

My condolences go out to the family of the man killed last evening. We may never know what caused this dog to strike out and kill, but I assure you there WAS a reason, someone just wasn’t paying attention to the dog’s body language, and because of that someone is dead.

Ontario’s BSL legislation did NOTHING to prevent this tragedy, the dog that killed this man wasn’t a banned breed. They will more than likely euthanize the dog for it’s actions, but what is to stop the owner of the dog from going out and getting another dog of powerful breed mix? What will stop this person from causing another fatal dog bite incident in the future? BSL certainly won’t.

Hot Car, Dead Dog!

I am sitting here surrounded by my small breed dogs, and through the window I hear the sound of the lawnmower as my husband cuts the grass. That sound reminds me that we are getting closer to those hot hazy summer days, you know the type. The kind of day when it’s so hot it feels like the air is burdened down with the weight of it. The kind of day on which you go out of your mind trying to keep cool. Along with thoughts of the oppressive heat comes the thought that it is usually this time of year when I remind everyone that their car is basically an oven on wheels and they should leave their pets at home where it is safe and cool.

I have been reminding people of that every year at this time for what seems like an eternity. Still EVERY summer some complete moron goes and locks their dog in their car in 98 degree weather and then wonders why the poor dog is dead when they come back three hours later arms full of shopping bags. So let me say it again with visual aids:

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That not direct enough? Still don’t get it? How about this:

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Do you understand me yet? No? How about this:

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I’m only gonna say it ONE more time…with this:

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If you still don’t get it, go get a stuffed animal, and stay very far away from living things, you aren’t equipped with enough brain power to care for a Muppet!

Ciao!

Everydogsmom