Open Thread

All the good ones are taken.

Share your pet related links, stories, questions and zombie conspiracy theories.

Updated – Saving Mari: Cast and Credits

I am starting out with an apology because there have been so many people involved in this rescue effort that I know I am likely to forget someone(s).  There is so much more that goes on behind the scenes, it’s dizzying.  If I fail to include you, it’s not for lack of appreciation.  Thank you.

In no particular order, I would like to thank the following individuals and groups who helped save Mari.  For those who have been asking about making donations, I will include links and you can choose where you’d like to donate:

Steve Markwell of Olympic Animal Sanctuary – From his phone and computer in WA, Steve got on this case and stayed on it with terrier tenacity.  Without his expert guidance, we would have all been at a loss for what to do.  Saving a feral dog from a pound determined to kill her is very different from saving a regular pet.  It was uncharted territory for all of us and Mr. Markwell’s expertise gave us the critical help we needed to jump through all the flaming hoops the city held out for us.  I am so impressed by his dedication to Mari.  When he heard yesterday that MAS was going to kill her at 5pm because of a cold she had caught at the pound, he reacted as if Mari had been his personal pet of 15 years.  His commitment to this dog has been amazing and inspiring.

Animal Rescue New Orleans – Mr. Markwell knows the people here and says they are excellent with feral dogs.  In order to secure an immediate space for Mari with minimal travel time for her, Mr. Markwell contracted with ARNO to take Mari for initial evaluation.  They stepped up big time and on very short notice, offered to drive to Jackson, MS to meet Ona for the transfer.  I hope they are able to share updates with us on how Mari is doing.

Ona Cooper of Meows and BowWows – Ona acted as agent for Mr. Markwell in order that he could adopt Mari, offered her very expensive trap (which I think we need to replace!), sat in the MAS lobby all day while they jerked us around, and at the end of it all drove Mari to Jackson, MS.

Lou Ann Muntz – Lou Ann committed to staying put in the MAS lobby all day with Ona.  The ladies were determined to stay until they were thrown out, if it came to that, because they knew that Mari would be killed the second they left.  Lou Ann was on texting duty all day providing updates and letting us know what was needed.

Jody Fisher – Since all of this was done on very short notice, Jody stepped up to take Ona’s place at the Meows and BowWows Saturday adoption event.  She lugged equipment, held down the fort at the adoption event and helped in communicating with Ona and Lou Ann at the pound.

Tammy Stevens – Tammy is the reader who first offered to adopt Mari, before we were told she was feral.  She got the behaviorist to evaluate Mari for us and continued to advocate for her even after she learned that Mari was feral and not adoptable.

All you guys – There was an overwhelming outpouring of assistance from readers, both privately and on the blog.  You guys networked for transport, made suggestions and offers on ways to get Mari out the cage, looked up info and made phone calls when we needed it, kept us updated on what was going on with the webcam feed, and I know some of you have already made donations on Mari’s behalf.  Without this group effort, this rescue would not have happened.  I love you, man.  *sniff*

Last but not least, Jan Courtney of SOS Memphis – When it got down to the wire yesterday afternoon and we were desperate to get Mari out the cage by any means, Jan drove down there and announced (to a stunned Ona and Lou Ann) she would go in the cage with Mari and help get her out.  I know there are people in the dog world who can meet a dog and read the dog to determine the risk level of the growling/barking/lunging.  I am not one of those people and I truly admire the very few who are.  I dread to think where we would all be today if Jan had not stepped up and taken action.  Read Jan’s most interesting account of how she got Mari out the cage.

Update:  The crew from ARNO got Mari settled at their shelter last night and then headed out for some food.  They were hit head on by a driver who veered into their lane.  Seat belts and airbags saved them and they all walked away with minor injuries.  Their vehicle is totaled.  Vehicles can be replaced.  People willing to save Mari can not.  I am so thankful they were all wearing their seat belts and I hope they recover from their minor injuries quickly.  We need all our advocates in fighting form!

On a much lighter note, Mari is Mario.  (!)

Bringing Up from the Comments

A short video Ona shared of scared Mari getting the hell out of dodge.

Saving Mari

This thread will be updated throughout the day as developments unfold.  As of this morning, we are still trying to find a volunteer driver for one leg of transport: Jackson, MS to New Orleans. All the rest is worked out. There would be NO DOG HANDLING INVOLVED as Mari is feral and is not to be removed from the trap for any reason. Just put the crate in your vehicle and drive.   We can cover expenses.  If anyone is able to drive this leg, please let me know.

Note:  Updates will be timestamped according to Mari Time, which is Central time.

9:35 am:  Memphis rescuers are on their way to MAS to pick up Mari.  This is the link to the webcam where Mari was originally put into a cage.  If she hasn’t been moved, you should be able to watch her on this cam when she gets bailed out this morning.  Please continue sharing the need for a driver on the last leg of transport above.

11:10 am:  Ona and Lou Ann are still doing paperwork at MAS for Mari’s release.

11:46 am:  Ona and Lou Ann spoke with Steve Markwell about how to get Mari into the trap.  Unfortunately, their trap won’t fit inside the kennel at MAS so that plan is a no go.  The trained workers at MAS are refusing to help.

12:00 pm:  Alternate ways to help Mari get out of the MAS kennel and into a cage for transport are being worked on.  TY for the offers and suggestions.  Keep them coming.

1:26 pm:  A reader suggests perhaps an animal handler from the Memphis Zoo may be able to help.  Sounds like a good idea to me.  Can someone call?  (901) 333-6500

1:45pm:  You know the canine upper respiratory outbreak that’s been in the Memphis news recently?  The one that MAS said it had no way to keep from spreading?  Apparently Mari may have caught that, which would not be surprising as she’s been at the pound for 16 days.  And we know she didn’t come in with it, since the veterinary staff deemed her healthy at time of vaccination last week.  But today, she has a snotty nose.  So MAS says they are going to kill her if Ona and Lou Ann can’t work out how to get her out of their cage by 5pm.

Mari is now owned by Steve Markwell, according to the paperwork the city gave to Ona this morning.  Mr. Markwell does not want his dog killed for a snotty nose she caught while at MAS.  He wants to get his dog out and transported to safety.  Since the city is refusing to have their trained animal professionals put the dog into the transport cage, Ona and Lou Ann are on their own.  Mr. Markwell can get a trained feral dog handler to MAS tomorrow to get Mari out but the city is refusing to allow any additional time.  Because Mari has a snotty nose.

Is this really what it’s come down to?  If the city is determined to kill her, they will have to get one of their workers to drag her out on a chokepole.  Why can’t they just go ahead and do that now and put her in the trap for Ona and Lou Ann?

Can anyone call around to find a Memphis vet willing to come to MAS to sedate the dog for Ona and Lou Ann so they can get her into the trap?  The MAS vet won’t help.  No one at MAS will help Mari.  All they are apparently willing to do is kill her.

3:50 pm:  I was on the phone with Ona when you guys started posting that someone was going into the cage with Mari.  I told Ona and she hurried off the phone to go see what’s happening.

4:00 pm:  I don’t know any details yet but, as webcam watchers know, she’s out of the cage and in the trap!

4:15 pm:  Mari has left the building!  Ona is driving her to Jackson, MS.

4:45 pm:  I just noticed that at some point, I switched posting times from Mari Time to my own (Eastern) time.  Oops.  At least I’m not attempting brain surgery today.  Just spoke briefly with Lou Ann.  She said Jan Courtney of SOS Memphis came down to assist and was a dog whispering hero!  Working on getting additional details.

4:55 pm:  It sounds like Jan sort of assessed our highly agitated goggie from outside the kennel, determined that she felt safe to open the kennel door, sat with her back to Mari, kept her head down in a submissive posture, and talked to her in a calm, quiet voice.  While Jan was in the kennel, Lou Ann moved the trap so that it was directly in front of the kennel door and just to Jan’s side.  When they opened the kennel door wider so that Mari could access the trap, she went right in.  I’m hoping to get a direct report from Jan so she can correct any parts I may have misunderstood and perhaps share with us how you get to be a dog whisperer!

6:15 pm:  Mari is headed to Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO).  Steve Markwell knows their group and since they are much closer to Memphis than he is, he decided to contract with ARNO to evaluate her before making the ultimate decision as to where it will be most appropriate for her to go.  Some of the folks from ARNO are driving to meet Ona in Jackson, MS.  I am so thankful that this could be arranged on such short notice.  I will finally get a good night’s sleep tonight knowing that Mari is in good hands.  I bet Mari could use a good night’s sleep too.

The list of people who deserve thanks is a mile long at this point.  I’ve always said that many people care about the dogs in the stray area at MAS.  If this story doesn’t illustrate that to the city, I don’t know what will.

Memphis, please – unlock the doors to the stray area.  Let people in to see and touch your dogs.  They are wanted and loved.  We only saw Mari on a webcam.  She’s alive today because of it.  Once you remove the webcams, none of the dogs in the stray area will have anyone to advocate for their right to live.  Which is truly tragic.

Mental Health Break: A Reader’s Story

This is from reader Dot, who wanted to share this story:

I rescue and foster death row dogs. I have three dogs of my own and one foster. All were death row dogs.

I found “Freeway” on the side of the road Aug 19, 2011. He was alone and eating dirt. Poor little thing was so tiny. He’s now a wonderful, well adjusted, social, smart, fully trained, lovable little guy that needed a forever home. I had him two days shy of two months. Because of low-income spay neuter service in my area, I was able to give “Freeway” a healthy start in life. He got adopted October 22, 2011. My girls were very instrumental in the raising this barely weaned baby. Hope you all enjoy his photos/ journey to a wonderful and happy life. “Fostering Does Save Lives… and It’s So Rewarding”.  Try it, you won’t regret it.

And for anyone that wants to see the entire album, here’s the link.

Thank you Dot.

Updated X 3: Memphis, Please Don’t Kill This Dog

Dog #233616 at MAS is wanted.  But the city is considering denying her a chance to live a normal, happy life.  The city attorney is currently reviewing the dog’s case and deciding if she will be released to us or to anyone at all.  They are using the observations of the behaviorist we sent to MAS against the dog.  The behaviorist was unable to perform an evaluation due to the dog’s state and so did not charge us.  She did however e-mail us her observations from outside the cage.  Unfortunately, she thought she was evaluating a pet because we did not know the dog was feral then.  So she was trying to form an opinion on “adoptability” as a companion animal which we now know is not an issue.  The behaviorist’s observations from outside the cage as to the dog’s adoptability are invalid because MAS failed to disclose this was a feral dog.   Once Mr. Andrews finally disclosed the dog was feral we sought out, and found, an offer of sanctuary for her with feral dog rehabbers.

We have more than one offer for sanctuary for her from qualified, experienced feral dog rehabbers.  They are insured and will sign whatever waiver the city requires in taking full responsibility for the dog.  There is no liability for the city in releasing this dog.

She is wanted.  Please let us save her life.

Update, October 28, 2011:  The assistant city attorney says she will make a decision by the end of the day Monday regarding Mari.  We do not know if Mari has been eating while she’s been at MAS but we are concerned about the extreme level of stress she’s endured since she was first dragged down the hall by a noose around her neck there.  It is not unusual for feral dogs to refuse food when captured due to their extreme anxiety.  Keeping her trapped inside the kennel at MAS for another 4 days seems needlessly cruel to me.  Rescuers are willing to save Mari’s life.  Why is the city determined to prolong this dog’s emotional suffering while they decide whether or not they are going to kill her?

Update #2:  All of the sudden and without explanation, MAS has told us we need to pick up the dog before closing today.  So apparently we are now back in scramble mode.  Yay.  Can anyone in Memphis drop what they are doing and get down to MAS to pull the dog?  There would be no handling of the dog whatsoever.  Just put shavings in the crate and leave her in the crate.

I am getting whiplash from having my chain yanked.

Update #3:  A reader contacted MAS.  They are closing and Mari is still there so she is safe for tonight.  A rescuer will be there when they open tomorrow to bail her out.  From there, we are working out details for transport.  I will of course keep you posted.

Thank you to the boots on the ground rescuers in Memphis, Tammy in KY (sorry for stepping on your toes with both my huge feet!), the many readers who have made very generous efforts and offers on behalf of Mari, the experts who gave me emergency advice and special thank you to Steve Markwell for walking me through this and advocating for Mari as if she was loved by lots of people and must be saved.  She is and she will be.

Updated: Saving Dog #233616 from MAS

Pets Alive in NY has offered to take the feral dog currently at MAS.  Huzzah!

Brainstorming session – everyone pitch in your suggestions and thoughts.  As they say, there are no bad ideas!  What we need in order to save this dog:

1.  Advice on how we get a feral dog from MAS to a boarding facility.  We need specifics here please on getting this dog from her cage at MAS to a vehicle and from the vehicle to the kennel at the boarding facility.  Huge plus if someone with experience can physically assist.  Sedation, special equipment… what’s appropriate?

2.  Transportation from Memphis, TN to Middletown, NY.  All options are on the table at this point – official transport services, individual volunteers, etc.  The key is getting her moved quickly.

3.  This is not a brainstorming item but I’m adding it because I know people will ask.  If you want to donate specifically to assist in boarding and transport costs, please visit our regular ChipIn.  Meows and BowWows will be helping us with the dog in Memphis.  If you wish to donate to her care after she gets to Pets Alive, their website has donation info.

Also, I’m sure I don’t say this enough but all you guys are awesome and I love you.

Added: Bringing up from the comments so everyone can read this good info:

Hi, everyone — this is Steve from Olympic Animal Sanctuary. Very quickly, so you don’t have to spend time looking me up, I’m one of a handful of people in the entire country that specializes in feral dog rehab. I’m going to explain the situation as plainly as I can, and I hope that one of you in Memphis will step up and do what needs to be done for this dog, because if you don’t, she’s dead in a few hours.

What needs to happen is this: one of you needs to go to the shelter with a crate, have shelter staff put the dog into the crate, put the crate in your vehicle, and take it to a safe location, like your garage or bathroom. That will save her life, and buy us some time to work out placement. The rescue options we have for her are not in Memphis, and we simply cannot mobilize anyone quickly enough to get her out in time. One of you has to do it.

I understand that you may be concerned for your safety and the dog’s well-being. Your concerns are valid, and I am happy to personally guide you through this process if you’re willing to step up. This is actually mush easier than you might think. Here are some basics:

Line the crate with straw or shavings, because the dog is going to be urinating and defecating in the crate. No bathroom breaks. No walks. You will not take the dog out of the crate.

You will feel that you need to provide food and water to the dog, but she will not eat or drink until she feels safe, and that won’t happen in the first twelve hours. She will only spill the food and water all over the crate. If we are not able to coordinate transport for her within twelve hours, I will personally guide you through providing water for her.

You may, if you wish, thread plastic zip ties through the door of the crate to secure it shut. In most cases these dogs do not attempt to escape, they simply hunker down in the back of the crate and are completely silent and still.

These dogs do not bite except in defense, and they have to generally be pushed very hard to elicit a bite. They do not come forward — their primary defense is to run away, and it is only when that is impossible and you attempt to handle them that they bite. the bites are not serious in most cases — they are simply trying to create an opportunity to run by making you back away. This should not be an issue because you WILL NOT be handling the dog.

When you move the crate, you will be able to carry it, with two people, without sticking your fingers where they can be bitten.

You will have as little interaction with the dog as possible — simply get her out and leave her alone. Very easy. Anything more is going to stress her out and will be a waste of time. I am networking with other feral dog specialists right now and believe we can have her placed very quickly, but I need one of you to buy me the time I need to arrange transportation. I will walk you through every step and be on the phone with you as much as you need, so please, someone in Memphis, the time for blogging, Facebook sharing, praying, and crossing fingers is over for this dog — we have a very clear, step-by-step solution, and I just need one of you to commit to getting her out of the shelter so we can take those steps. If you will be the one to save this dog, reply here as soon as possible with your contact info. I will continue to check it throughout the day, as will Shirley.


Talk Me Down

Please forgive me if I ramble as I am distraught over this situation.  Hey, at least I’m going back to delete all the swear words before posting.

When we first saw this poor dog being dragged by a noose around the neck at MAS, pissing herself in fear, several readers tried to find out what happened to the dog.  Although initial inquiries were ignored and deleted, we ended up receiving a response from Glenn Andrews, the person pictured dragging the dog.  He offered to hold the dog, whom he indicated was a female, for adoption by reader Tammy.  Since we were unsure if Mr. Andrews was speaking about the same dog as seen in the webcam photos, a caring Memphian volunteered to go to MAS and try to determine whether this was the same dog.  That individual was scared by the dog’s fearful and aggressive behavior in the cage.  The “Friends” posted on their FB page that the dog was a male and was not adoptable to the public due to aggression and might not even be allowed to go to rescue.  Naturally, we were concerned.  Tammy asked Mr. Andrews about this and whether she would be allowed to adopt.  He replied that yes, Tammy could adopt her.  And she was definitely a female.

This was a very confusing situation and I know everyone involved with trying to help this dog was concerned.  We arranged to have a behaviorist go in and evaluate the dog and advised Mr. Andrews.  Since we couldn’t get a reply from Mr. Andrews on that issue, Tammy called MAS.  Mr. Andrews was not in but the woman who answered the phone said the dog was marked for “euthanasia” and as having failed her behavioral evaluation.  Since there was no behavioral evaluation performed, this was again confusing.  Nevertheless, the worker advised Tammy the behaviorist would be allowed to see the dog provided she was still alive at the time the behaviorist got there.

The behaviorist described the dog as giving “mixed signals” and was unable to perform a full evaluation due to aggression.  As such, she did not charge us for her services.  She recommended the dog as being “unadoptable” in her opinion.  Tammy did not feel she would be able to provide the care needed for this dog.  I understand that.  I wouldn’t be qualified to take on a dog like this either.  So once again, we had to adjust our strategy for helping the dog.  Outreach to various rescues in the area had already begun but now our information was different.

This morning however, the rug was pulled out from under us.  Tammy advised that she had spoken to Mr. Andrews yesterday and he had provided new information about the dog.  In fact, per Tammy’s recollection of her conversation with Mr. Andrews, the dog is feral.  MAS ACOs have been watching her for 3 years in a pack of feral dogs.  She was born into that pack and has never been socialized to humans.

All the efforts that have been made thus far for this dog have been wasted time because we did not have this critical piece of information.  This past week, instead of spending our blood, sweat and tears on trying to get this dog evaluated and rescued, we should have been looking for a sanctuary spot for a feral dog.  But we didn’t know that’s what we should have been doing because Mr. Andrews never disclosed that information.  The people who volunteered their time to go to MAS to see the dog were actually going to see a feral dog, which we did not tell them because we did not know.  And now, she’s slated for killing by MAS and I feel I have no choice but to throw a hail Mary pass in the final seconds of overtime in order to try and save this dog.  So here it is:

Does anyone know of a possible sanctuary with an immediate spot available for this feral dog?

I know, it’s a long shot.  Believe me, I know.  I hate to do it but I don’t know what other options exist at this point.  I wrote to Mr. Andrews this morning to try and get clarification from him on this situation.  He hasn’t responded as of this posting.  If he does, I will update this post.

All of us are trying to help this dog.  How could this situation have been allowed to happen?  Why weren’t we told this dog was a known feral animal from the outset?  Why were we told it would be fine for Tammy to adopt her?  Why would a pound that is killing 3 out of every 4 pets who come through its doors undermine a group effort to try and save a dog who otherwise has no advocate?

This poor dog.  I am so sorry I failed you.  I will keep trying until they take your life but I know there are precious few grains of sand left in the hourglass.

Does Padlocking Your Shelter Make the Staff More Approachable?

There are several reasons why people might bring their pets to a shelter after-hours.  They may not be able to get to the shelter during regular hours due to work or transportation issues.  They may not want to deal with whatever guilt trip the shelter puts on surrendering parties (e.g. “We’re going to kill your pet if you leave her here so are you really sure you want to do this?”).  And of course there are some people in the world who are scoundrels – too lazy, dishonest, and/or pathetic to do right by their pets.

Shelters can do something about the first two reasons.  The last one is a main reason we need – and always will need – shelters.  Just as we will always need child protective services and laws to regulate polluters, we will always need animal shelters.  Most people are trying to do the right thing but some are either unable or unwilling to do so and that’s where the safety net becomes invaluable.

The Halifax Humane Society in Daytona Beach, FL recently announced plans to remove its overnight drop-off cages and put up a gate in front of the parking lot to prevent people from accessing the shelter after-hours:

“The initial intent (of the drop-off cages) was to provide a safe haven for injured and stray animals found after hours,” [Executive Director Miguel] Abi-hassan said. Instead, he said they are seeing owners, not wanting to face shelter staff or hear about sterilization programs, waiting until after the shelter is closed to bring in unwanted animals.

Since the shelter is open 7 days a week (although there are no evening hours), chances are that the director is correct is his assessment as to why so many people are utilizing the drop-off cages:  they don’t want to deal with shelter staff.  That is the issue I would like to see addressed here.  The removal of the cages does nothing to make people feel more welcome to bring pets in need to the shelter during the day.  To my mind, all it does is put pets at further risk.  After all, no reasonable person would expect that putting up a gate at night is going to suddenly change how the public views the shelter staff.  And those pets are going to end up somewhere.

You know what happens at shelters that don’t have drop-off cages at night?  In MS, a woman was seen on surveillance video tying 11 puppies to the Southern Pines Animal Shelter’s fence after-hours with zip ties and baling wire.  (Warning:  the surveillance video at the link may be too disturbing for sensitive viewers.)

Shelter employee Elizabeth Swann said one of the puppies hanged itself during the night, and the other 10 had to be euthanized because of the injuries sustained from being tied to the fence.

“(They) had their collars embedded so far into their necks that they weren’t savable,” she said.

The woman was convicted last week of 11 counts of animal cruelty.  Her 11 month jail sentence was suspended but she was ordered to pay $1100 to the shelter and to have her remaining pets neutered.

At the Walker Co Humane Society in AL, the director reported that people left pets at the shelter after-hours almost daily.  And yet the shelter did nothing to address the issue.  (The Walker Co HS has apparently closed recently.)

The bottom line:  If people either can’t get to your shelter because of your hours of operation or don’t want to deal with your staff’s standard guilt tripping of anyone surrendering a pet, you will find your after-hours cages heavily utilized.  The way to change that is not by removing the cages.  What will people in Daytona Beach who would have utilized the overnight drop-off cages at the Halifax shelter do with their pets in need now?  Will they leave them loose near the shelter’s locked gate, tie them to the gate with baling wire, drop them off in a wooded area and drive away or perhaps something even worse?  If the Halifax shelter won’t take responsibility for the community’s pets in need, who do they expect will?

Treats on the Internets

SC’s Pawmetto Lifeline says that an 82% kill rate in Columbia area shelters is not the fault of those doing the killing – it’s the damn irresponsible public that’s to blame.  The group also wants to encourage the uncaring, unwashed masses to step up and foster.

A 73 year old CT woman told authorities she was taking a litter of kittens to a shelter – by which she meant, slowing at intersections and throwing them out the car into the street.  She has been charged with animal cruelty.

A PA woman tied her dog outside in full sun this past summer without access to water or shade.  A neighbor heard the dog suffering and called police.  When officers arrived, they found the dog dead.  The owner said the dog had only been outside for a few minutes, had been perfectly healthy and she suggested foul play.  A judge found the owner guilty of animal cruelty last week and she was fined $300.

An 18 year old who grew up in foster care in NC runs her own dog rescue.  (Thanks Lisa for the links.)

Urgent Death Row Dogs tries to save dogs from being killed by the Mayor’s Alliance in NYC.  Which is why this photo is the funny.  (Thank you Karen for the links.)

Petition asking OH governor to ban the sale and ownership of wild animals in the state

Barbara J. King, a biological anthropologist at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, believes that non-human animals grieve.  (Thanks Valerie for the link.)

This orangutan and coonhound have apparently been featured on many daytime talk shows and have their own book and website.  New to me.

Trenchcoat Cat comes with backstory.

Orcas reportedly use tonic immobility against sharks they plan to kill.

Three orcas – a juvenile, a pregnant female and another adult female – who swam far up a river in Alaska have died.

A very brief science lesson on turtle anatomy.