Mental Health Break: Doggie-Wear Patents

Scuba-Duba-Doo

Scuba-duba-doo

I can’t think of any possible drawbacks.  Plus it’s totally needed.

Patent No. 6,206,000
by Dwane L. Folsom
Patented: March 27, 2001

***

Full Metal Dust Jacket

Dog dust cover

Dog dust cover

by S. Kesh
Patented: September 4, 1963

The inventor notes that the doggie dust cover will be useful in keeping flea powder on the dog (and off the living room carpet) post application. And it can do double duty as a drying mechanism after a bath – just attach your blow dryer to the suit and voila!

***

Safe Rex

Condoms.  For your dog's feet.

Condoms. For your dog’s feet.

Patent No. US20030164145 A1
by Julie St. John
Patented: January 24, 2003

The inventor indicates that not only is the product easily cleaned to protect your floors from the dirt your dog would otherwise track in, the booties “are applied very speedily so that the dogs’ patience quotient is not exceeded.” No mention of the human’s patience quota in applying 4 condoms to your dog’s 4 paws.

(Thanks Billy for sending me these.)

Open Thread – and an apology

Please use the comment section to share animal related links, stories, questions and updates.

I also want to address the behavior of a couple of individuals who have spent the past 18 hours making the blog an unpleasant place to be.  I am sorry I wasn’t able to be online to catch it sooner.  I have only a few nightmare scenarios as a blogger and this is one of them – that trolls would take advantage of a temporary absence to stink up the joint.  The offending parties have been banned.  Thank you to those who hung in there amidst the onslaught.  Also… Hitler!!!!!11!!111111

Discussion: What was the case against Caboodle Ranch all about?

A photo taken 10 days before the February 2012 raid, posted on the Caboodle Ranch Facebook page.

A photo taken 10 days before the February 2012 raid, posted on the Caboodle Ranch Facebook page.

More than a year after PETA and the ASPCA teamed up to shut down Caboodle Ranch, Craig Grant’s FL cat sanctuary, a legal resolution appears to be near.

Under the deal with the state, the criminal charges against Grant will be dropped if he agrees to take his medication, pay costs to the state attorney’s office and is not arrested within the next 24 months.

Grant’s attorney says the agreement won’t prohibit Grant from owning cats.

“He’s allowed to have animals. He’s allowed to have up to whatever many cats the local County ordinances allow,” said [Mr. Grant’s attorney, David] Collins.

Some context here:  ASPCA seized 700 cats and 2 dogs, including Mr. Grant’s personal pets, from Caboodle Ranch and disposed of them as they saw fit.  Many were adopted during 3 mass adoption events.  I don’t know what happened to the rest of the animals and I suspect the ASPCA will never provide those details.

The ASPCA pads its bank account with nearly $150 million in donations every year and yet had the audacity to file a suit against Mr. Grant seeking “reimbursement” of the $1 million it says was spent caring for the seized cats.  How can an organization seek to be “reimbursed” for having spent funds on animal care when the money was donated by animal lovers who thought it would be used to help animals?  Check out the ASPCA invoice for expenses which includes a staggering number of flights in and out of Jacksonville, hotel fees, food bills and the following line items:

  • 267:  $4920.42 for utensils, etc.
  • 412:  $2048.60 to change light bulbs
  • 1173:  $18 for vegan cupcakes for shelter workers

And then there are the consulting fees:

  • 154:  $2000 for 5 days of consultant fees to Katie Flood
  • 310:  $800 for 2 days of consultant fees for James Brenneman
  • 914:  $3200 for 2 weeks of consultant fees for Aldo Wilson
  • 971:  $2800 for 2 weeks of consultant fees for Phree Phillips
  • 988:  $1000 for 5 days of consultant fees for Joanna Fogarty
  • 1005 $1000 for 5 days of consultant fees for Laura MacDougall
  • 1026 and 1027:  $2800 for 7 days of consultant fees for Tonya Loreman
  • 1043:  $800 for 2 days of consultant fees for Mary Manspeaker
  • 1052:  $4400 for 11 days of consultant fees for Elizabeth Maxwell
  • 1153:  $39,688 estimated consultant fees up to April 30, 2012

I picked out the above entries at random but there are many, many more entries for consultant fees.  ASPCA apparently needed a lot of consultants during the months following the seizure.  I thought ASPCA folks were supposed to be the experts?  I mean, with the amount of money spent on consultants, couldn’t they have gotten someone off the unemployment line with no animal experience and just put that person in charge instead?  At least then I could understand the need to fly in expert after expert, week after week, month after month, for their advice.

At any rate, the court did not award ASPCA their million bucks.  In fact, the judge’s ruling seems to indicate (to my layman’s understanding) that the ASPCA had not been officially appointed an agent of the state prior to the seizure and therefore had no standing to file for expenses incurred.  My question would then be, if the ASPCA had no official designation from the state to act in this case, on what legal basis did they dispose of the seized animals?

Mr. Grant clearly seems to have an interest in relocating and starting a new cat sanctuary.  Regardless of whether you believe Caboodle was a great place for cats, the nightmare of neglect and suffering described by the ASPCA and PETA, or fell somewhere in between, one must ask at this point – what was all this for?  The raid, the mass seizure, the mass adoption events which could have theoretically been used to find homes for cats already in shelters, the court cases – what was it all for?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Hendricks Co Shelter Pet Advocates Not Giving Up, Despite Setbacks

Local advocates have been publicly opposing the needless killing at the Hendricks Co pound in Indiana for at least a year.  In 2011, the pound had a 61% kill rate and in 2012, advocates went to the local TV news with their concerns:  limited hours, no foster program, not allowing pets outdoors and not naming the animals in order to increase marketability.  Chief ACO Mary Anne Lewis had explanations for all that which basically amount to blah.  But specifically she mentioned that many of the pets are killed by request of the owners and:

As for why the shelter does not give animals names, Lewis told [the reporter] it’s too stressful on the staff when euthanizing the animal[.]

See how that makes sense?  Me either.  I guess the fact that any animals who get adopted would not be killed is irrelevant to this argument.

The county has made gestures to placate pet advocates since then but it doesn’t seem to have amounted to more than that.  The latest gesture is a reshuffling of leadership after advocates pointed out some serious discrepancies in pound records:

“I documented, using time sheets, animals left unattended for up to 67 consecutive hours,” said Tia Fox, an accountant and advocate with the Indiana Pet Welfare Project. “It disgusted me. That’s cruel.”

Fox, along with Allies for All Animals, also raised concerns about missing records for owner-requested euthanasia.

[…]

“(Lewis’s) cash transactions have no internal controls that would provide any assurance money’s not being misdirected,” said Fox. “That has resulted in 1,100 unaccounted for animals since 2001.”

Neither the failure of the county to adequately address the ongoing issues at the pound nor the failure of the chief ACO to do her job is unusual per se.  What makes Hendricks Co different is that the community dogs and cats there actually have a committed voice in the form of advocates working together for reform.  Well done, local hellraisers.  Keep going.

(Thanks Clarice for alerting me to this story.)

Name That Animal

This is just for fun and the only rule is:  no researching.  Post any (!) answer in the comments.  Reading other people’s answers before posting your own is optional but at least one person usually gets it right so decide what level of cheating suits you.  Answer will be posted in the comments later today.

nta

Major Reform Needed in Chatham County

The situation involving Savannah-Chatham County Animal Control and Friends of Animal Control Team Savannah (F.A.C.T.S.) – a non-profit rescue run by Diane Abolt, the wife of Chatham county manager Russ Abolt – is a good ol’ boys cesspool.  The pound has been in trouble with the state in the past for holding animals for Diane Abolt indefinitely while killing other pets for “space” as soon as their holds expire.  The state has also raised concerns about improper housing leading to the spread of disease at the pound.  Russ Abolt and his buddies in leadership positions in the county have stuck their heads so far in the sand over these issues,  only their asses were available for biting when inevitability came calling.

So it was that the Georgia Department of Agriculture issued a temporary shutdown order for the F.A.C.T.S. “shelter” – a.k.a. the Abolt’s unventilated garage at their house – after the state inspector found numerous violations consistent with Diane Abolt’s track record:

The inspection report reveals F.A.C.T.S. pulled four dogs from Savannah-Chatham County Animal Control on May 15 while that facility was under quarantine.

During the inspection, two of those dogs were at Abolt’s home, where they weren’t supposed to be.

One of the dogs was coughing while the inspector was there.  When the local paper called Diane Abolt for comment, she offered up some half-baked explanation for the coughing dog that even the best screenwriters in the porn industry would have to reject as implausible.  She also told the paper she “wasn’t really sure” how many dogs she had and mentioned the number 11 although the state seemed to think it was about 40.  The inspector noted that records were in disarray in some cases and non-existent in others.  The unventilated garage – er, shelter is shut down at least through May 31.

Just prior to this mess, Diane Abolt says she had put a hold on a dog named Barkley at the pound.  She failed to pick the dog up in the Time Allotted for Everyone But Diane Abolt under shelter policy.  So AC adopted him out to the next comer, Savannah-Chatham County AC Shelter supervisor Jodi Lewis, who took the dog home to her family.  The family had Barkley for a week when apparently Diane Abolt noticed the dog wasn’t at the pound anymore and ran to hubby who ran to the police chief.  Ms. Lewis was ordered by the police chief to give Barkley to Diane Abolt and her job was threatened.

faye dunaway as joan crawfordJodi Lewis parks her AC truck at the county line every day because the county will not allow the truck to be driven over the county line to the Lewis home.  But in order to take Barkley away from his new family, the county made an exception and allowed an ACO to drive the truck to the Lewis home to get the dog.  Barkley was getting a bath from the family’s 6 year old girl at the time.

Chatham Co manager Russ Abolt has described his wife Diane as “the Mother Teresa of dogs and cats”.  Swap out Mother Teresa for Mommie Dearest and perhaps he’s onto something there.

The Savannah Morning News obtained copies of Barkley’s records and ruh-roh:

An open records request produced no written indication that Abolt had put a hold on the dog.

Was Barkley in the unventilated garage with the 11 40 dogs at the time of the state inspection?  Is he still there?  Is he coughing now too?

This is a travesty of the highest order.  Not only is the county corruption impacting families and individual dogs, but the pound is still needlessly killing pets amidst all the playground politics.  Area advocates need to band together in order to give the community’s dogs and cats a voice.  Reform will obviously be a difficult challenge in the face of this kind of political corruption.  But what other choice is there?  There is strength in numbers.  I only hope the numbers are sufficient and the commitment to saving pets from these monsters is enough to sustain a long term push for reform.  The county is counting on the opposite.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Foster Pet of the Day

Carter, a foster dog available for adoption in CA.

Carter, a foster dog available for adoption in CA.

Submitted by Marji who writes:

Carter is currently living with me in Grass Valley. He is a foster dog of Center for Animal Protection & Education (CAPE) :
PO Box 67176
Scotts Valley, CA 95067-7176
831.336-4695
Email: postmaster@capeanimals.org

carter aCarter is a 7-yr-old mastiff mix with a big head and bigger heart! He is blind, but that doesn’t deter him from exploring his world with enthusiasm and joy. He was adopted from Palo Alto Animal Services 7 years ago at the age of 4-months. When he was 6, his guardians returned him to the shelter without realizing he was blind. Once they found out, they took him back, keeping him for another year before realizing that caring for two toddlers and a galumphy 75-lb dog was too difficult.

Lucky for Carter, I was excited to foster him! He is a gentle-natured dog who is far easier to care for and more low-maintenance than my 14.5-yr-old 35-lb dog! He knows sit, come, stay, down. He LOVES tennis balls. Sometimes you have to pat the ground next to the tennis ball and he’ll pounce like a puppy! He runs zoomies around the yard and figures out new spaces pretty quickly.

Carter just wants a permanent retirement home, preferably with someone who is home part of the day (he loves his people).

The rescue I am fostering for would probably be willing to transport him out of state, but I’d really love someone who can meet him first…and maybe wouldn’t mind sending me updates about how awesome he is!

He would do best as an only dog, but he might do well with a large, older, VERY tolerant dog. Not many dogs can tolerate it when his nearly 80-lb frame runs into them.

Shirley, I’m really surprised to still have Carter. I guess I knew he’d be more difficult to place but living with him? He’s so easy! I’ve had him for two months and would really just love it if he could find a home where he gets all the attention he deserves.

Treats on the Internets

The state of NC has released its annual shelter report but its value is clearly limited since, as Fix NC points out, some facilities don’t bother reporting, others fabricate numbers and no one verifies anything.

More bad news for pets in the NYC pound system:  ACC refusing to release some animals whose holds have expired to rescue groups willing to save them.

Three dogs seized in connection with the high profile criminal case involving a Cleveland kidnapper/rapist are being cared for by fosters until the three women held captive in the home decide if they want to claim the dogs.

A puppymill in Walthall Co, Mississippi was raided by authorities this week where live Bostons, Yorkies and Chihuahuas were living in cages with dead dogs.  The owner is a pastor who was selling the dogs out of his church in Louisiana.  A customer tipped off police after witnessing the awful conditions.  (Thanks Karen for the link.)

In TN, Hamblen Co officials investigated the cash records at the Morristown-Hamblen Humane Society and determined an employee had stolen more than $50 grand from the shelter.  The employee has been fired and the investigators’ findings have been forwarded to the local DA.  (Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Two would be turtle killers in TX have not been charged in connection with an incident where one of the young men was seriously injured after the homemade bomb he built, purportedly for blowing up turtles, exploded in his pocket.

Hart Co Considers First Animal Control Ordinance

Hart Co has never in its 160 years had a law on the books regarding homeless pets, even though GA law requires the county to have some sort of animal control in place.  This month, county commissioners plan to discuss enacting an AC ordinance.  But if you are excited at the prospect of Hart Co implementing a CAPA type law to protect the lives of the community’s dogs and cats, you need to reign in your hope-and-change horses right now.

These are the areas of concern for Hart Co:

  1. Zero tolerance for “the dumping of animals.”
  2. A simple method to determine which loose animals are strays.
  3. Hiring an ACO to pick up stray dogs and cats.

People who abandon their pets in Hart Co are quite possibly doing so because the county has no shelter.  Commissioners don’t plan to build one either which frankly, is just as well unless they are willing to commit to no kill.  By not providing a safe haven for stray and unwanted pets, Hart Co is driving people to less desirable alternatives.  The new ordinance won’t change this.

The county’s idea of determining which loose pets are strays is ridiculous:

[County administrator Jon] Caime said if approved by the county commission, the county will require all dog owners to put a collar with a nametag on each of their pets.

“You can get these (tags) at Wal-Mart and PetSmart,” Caime said. “It will have the owner’s name and phone number on it. That way, the sheriff can identify which animals belong to someone and which are strays. Then if he finds an dog that doesn’t have a proper nametag on it, it will be considered an abandoned or stray animal, and he can do something legally in that regard.”

*shudder*

But what if your cat or dog loses his collar?  What if you can’t afford a collar and personalized nametag (or replacements) for your pets?  What if your cat or dog is unable to wear a collar and nametag for medical reasons (such as a neck injury) or safety concerns?

And Hart County’s plan for hiring an ACO is just as dumb:

In terms of an animal control officer, the county likely will hire a part-time person who will work only when the Northeast Georgia Animal Shelter in Lavonia is open, so animals can be taken directly there, Caime said.

Problem not solved.  Hart Co will only offer services when the Northeast GA facility is open which is from 11am to 4 pm, Tuesday – Saturday.  And that place kills animals so again, no safe haven for people who have pets needing to be rehomed or who find strays or who want to help a lost, stray, feral or injured dog or cat.

As far as I can tell, Hart County’s plan will simply route additional pets, stray and owned, to a place that states on it website that it kills dogs and cats deemed sick, injured, feral or wild.  It will do precious little to discourage people from abandoning pets in need in the county.

I would ask the commissioners this:  Have you ever considered that the reason people are abandoning dogs and cats in Hart Co is because there is no pet killing facility there?  Most people don’t want to see homeless pets killed.  They want to see them truly sheltered until they can be adopted, fostered or rescued.  The answer to Hart County’s stray animal issue may be the building of a no kill shelter and the legal protections to support it, in the form of a CAPA type law.  Just a suggestion.

But if we look at Hart County’s track record on dealing with the issue of animal control, it looks like the end result of all the talk is typically nada:

“Every time this subject has been brought up over the past eight years, they get overwhelmed with all the different components,” Caime said about the county commission response to the topic of stray animals. “It just seems to them that there’s too much to be done, so they just table it.”

Doing your job.  It’s just too hard.

U.S. Government Reports on Our Pet Expenditures

On the subject of how much money we spend on our pets, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published “‘Tails’ from the Consumer Expenditure Survey” on its website and the Hartford Courant breaks down the information:

The average amount each household spent on pets in 2011 was $502.

Households tended to spend 1 percent of income, no matter how much or how little they earned.

The release tracked spending from 2007 to 2011, and it didn’t show any trends of households trading down to cheaper food brands during the recession, or surrendering dogs due to foreclosure.

Additional tidbits from the government:

In 2011, households spent more on their pets annually than they spent on alcohol ($456), residential landline phone bills ($381), or men and boys clothing ($404).

Average household spending on pet food alone was $183 in 2011. This was more than the amount spent on candy ($87), bread ($107), chicken ($124), cereal ($175), or reading materials ($115).

Even when spending at restaurants dropped during the recent recession (December 2007–June 2009), spending on pet food stayed constant.

From 2007 to 2011, spending on pets stayed close to 1 percent of total expenditures per household, despite the recession that occurred during this time.

The main takeaways for me:

Shelters and rescues that discriminate against poor people who want to adopt pets based on the assumption that middle/upper class adopters will spend a greater portion of their income on the pet are not only behaving unethically, their assumption is baseless. Poor people spend about 1% of their income on their pets, just like other pet owners. While it’s true poor people have less to spend overall, it’s noteworthy that everyone is on the same level when percentages are calculated.  In other words, those who can afford to spend more generously on their pets, don’t.

The survey did not find any increase in surrendering dogs (presumably to shelters) due to foreclosure.  This “increased surrenders due to foreclosures” is a claim I’ve heard countless times in recent years from shelters all over the country.  Is there a disconnect here?

The recession does not appear to have impacted pet expenditures.  To my mind, there is a simple explanation for that:  Pets are family.