29 thoughts on “Open Thread

  1. I was looking at the Iowa animal statutes when I ran across this: it’s the third law down.


    It shall be lawful for any person, and the duty of all peace
    officers within their respective jurisdictions unless such
    jurisdiction shall have otherwise provided for the seizure and
    impoundment of dogs, to kill any dog for which a rabies vaccination
    tag is required, when the dog is not wearing a collar with rabies
    vaccination tag attached.”

    I’m just WTF-ing all over the place. Did the police departments get together and write this themselves in order to have a dog-killing free-for-all?

    1. EVIL~Disgusting murderers. These dogs are, for the most part considered to be the same as these peoples’ children…..JUST as good as anyway. What in God’s name ARE you doing??! IF any of you so~called peace officers believe in any Power greater than yourself, how can you possibly sleep with yourselves at night? Though nothing surprises me much anymore I am totally and completely dumb~struck…..Ask yourself what is WRONG with yourselves! To murder a family pet…… How sickeningly sad you are……

    1. Ha! Yeah, someone clearly didn’t look at how a cat is put together. But then they have ribs that go all the way back like a snake, so safe to say that they were making it up as they went along.

  2. Last few days to the vote to repeal BSL in Aurora Colorado. Aurora Colorado is about to see if the general public vote to repeal their BSL legislation is going to succeed.

    The hashtag #mollywouldbanmetoo is trending in Colorado and could use more coverage. Aurora City Councilwoman Molly Markert is trying to keep BSL in place.

    If you want to see a better approach to public safety than the failed policies of BSL, please post a photo of your Pittie or one you know with these hashtags, or just search on #mollywouldbanmetoo and share some of the posts that have been trending.

    Some of the related hastags to #mollywouldbanmetoo are:


    1. Thank God he wasn’t found and taken to MAS or he’d been killed right away. Blessings to the deputy and the wonderful vet whose only concern was helping the dog. It is a nice change – thanks for sharing that.

    1. This breaks my heart! Wonder who will take care of his dogs? Hope they will be loved the same as they were by Cpl Cirillo.

  3. Jackson Galaxy gave an incredibly thought-provoking and life-changing presentation recently at the Best Friends National Conference in Las Vegas. It wasn’t for the faint-hearted, because it forced each of us to dig deep inside ourselves to make us effective ambassadors for homeless pets.

    In short, Jackson’s main theme stressed that animals are as individualistic as we humans. If we want animals to be as well-adjusted as possible to our human world, we need to recognize each pet’s individual personality. That allows us to meet each pet’s unique needs and fits them into our world.

    Jackson began the seminar by introducing his well-known cat personality types: Mojito, Napoleon and Wallflower (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHcuok3tmm8). He emphasized that this can apply to any animal: dogs, horses or even elephants.

    Jackson suddenly took on the aura of a zen master. He had each of us close our eyes and take deep breaths. With eyes closed, he guided us peacefully through our posture, making sure our feet were firmly connected to the ground, our hearts free of burdens and our minds clear of worry. He told us to go to our own “safe place,” a happy memory from childhood or adulthood when we recognized we were completely safe and free from worry or danger.

    He said, “This is the state you want to be in when you walk in to work with an animal.” He said animals are so attuned to our energy that the least bit of tension in us will cause them to tense up as well. If you’re working in a shelter environment, he said, and someone has just made you angry, be sure to shake off that stress before entering the kennel area.

    Then it was time for exercise number two. Jackson had us write down a description of the most scared animal we’d ever seen. In my case, it was a dog so fearful that she cowered in a corner, avoiding eye contact and urinating out of sheer terror. Then we had to write down the scariest moment of our lives. One of the conference attendees had been caught in the crossfire of a gun battle between the police and some thieves. Talk about being scared witless!

    Now it was time to put it all together. Jackson asked us how we coped with that scary moment, how we managed to put it aside to carry on with our lives. Then he told us to imagine a pet in the same scenario. Imagine a pet so traumatized that he or she developed a behavior pattern to cope with the memory. In some cases, it’s a pattern of behavior so ingrained that it’s become like muscle memory. Our job is to help each individual cope with their scary memory and return to their “happy place.”

    How does Jackson do it? He creates a story for each pet he deals with. That helps him to individualize his approach to each animal. For instance, imagine you had a painfully frightened German Shepherd dog in your care. You would picture yourself as that dog and create a story like this: “I was one of seven puppies born in a puppy mill. My brothers and sisters and I were taken from our mother when we were barely four weeks old. I never saw my mother or my brothers and sisters again, because I was sold to the home of a young family. Being young and disoriented, I bolted out of a hole in the fence one day to see if I could find my family. I’d been searching for several days when I was hit by a car. My right rear leg was nearly broken, but I was able to limp away to hide. People tried to help me, but I was in so much pain that I lashed out at them. I didn’t want anyone to touch me because the pain was so horrific. I was rescued by some kind people, and they tell me they’re going to find me a new home. But I’m still not sure I want to be around anybody. I’m not sure I can trust anyone. I don’t want to be in that kind of pain ever again.”

    Get it? A story like that will alter your approach to the dog. You’ll realize that the dog isn’t vicious and isn’t really afraid even though she’s lashing out to bite. That dog just doesn’t want to revisit the stress and pain she’s encountered in her short life. Simply put: she has trust issues. Your job is to help her overcome those thoughts and to help her feel safe and secure. By imagining yourself in the same scenario, you can more easily create a cure.

    I think that’s why I found Jackson’s presentation so unique and powerful. He’s asking us to dig deep inside ourselves and to use every gift we have: imagination, caring, creativity, self-analysis, experience and so much more in the service of helping each individual pet. Each of us has our own unique story, our own life history, that shapes who we are and how we react to the world. And so does each pet.

    1. Thank you for sharing this Mike.
      The first part resonates with me and in fact, is reminiscent something I have tried to put into practice myself, though not to the extent he explains.
      The second part is unclear to me. What are the odds that the story you make up to go with the animal is accurate? It would have to be close to zero I would think. And if you’ve got the wrong story pinned to the dog, how will acting upon it help that dog? In the example provided, the person approaches the biting dog and behaves as if the dog is not a fear biter and not vicious but needs to learn trust. How does it help the dog if that’s not the actual story?

      1. This bothered me, as well. Thing is, fictive narratives like this primarily reflect confirmation bias, that is, the tendency to collect and interpret only that data which appears to confirm what one already believes, which in this case is that fearful and aggressive behavior is most likely due to abuse and/or trauma and primarily psychological in origin.

        There are a lot of things wrong with this … but among ’em, besides those Shirley mentions … there’s already enough of a problem in the animal welfare community with negative stereotyping of unknown former owners of pets in rescue, which in turn affects how prospective adopters are perceived and vetted.

  4. In my mind, this is a classic “Thinking Outside the Box” idea. I don’t think Jackson is suggesting that we come up with hard and fast fictionalized stories for each animal, much less pass them on to potential adopters or use them for adoption screening. He’s suggesting we tap into our emotions to try to connect deeply with an animal, much as we would do with another person. In short, it’s a coping mechanism to keep negative energy at bay. Jackson said he does the same thing when he’s sitting on a park bench and watches a well-dressed man with mismatched socks walk by. Instead of judging the man, Jackson said he imagines the man getting dressed in the morning, inventing a story which might explain the mismatched socks. I totally related to Jackson’s message. The focus isn’t the concocted story, it’s on controlling your energy level when working with an animal. Like I said, I interpreted it as a Zen-like mantra: “Lay down your thoughts and surrender to the void.” By making ourselves more open and vulnerable, we might better relate to each individual animal – or person. (To be sure, we’re talking about our most difficult cases here.) Creating unique stories is just Jackson’s way of helping him relate. So to answer your question, Shirley, the odds of anyone’s story being accurate is obviously close to zero. But it’s not meant to be accurate. It’s a vehicle to help change our mindset when working with a difficult animal. After all, the animal is a master at reading our energy. Jackson developed that as his technique to help him adjust his energy level, and it works for him. Sure, the story may be incorrect at first, but it’s only a story. We can always adjust on the fly. The whole point is presenting a certain energy to an animal to help correct its behavioral issues. Jackson’s technique fit in with my biggest takeaway from the entire conference: Our industry as a whole is in need of more positive thinking, fresh ideas and collaboration. It’s exciting to see how many new ideas are bubbling up, from shelter design to animal psychology. I really do believe we’re approaching the cusp of something big, as the old ideas melt away and a new way of doing things takes hold. It may be messy at times, but it’s working! And it’s exciting to watch it bloom!

    1. I so hope you are right because too many facilities are nothing more than killing factories now. Thanks for explaining further – I know from personal experience how skilled animals are at “reading us”. This makes good sense to me, a way to move into a better place for the animals.

    2. I got that. It’s still a problem.

      Most people are uncomfortable with uncertainty, and when faced with unknowns will try and fit them into a narrative that explains them away. That’s what Mr Galaxy is tapping into with this technique; he’s just encouraging people to construct sympathetic narratives, rather than fearful or negative ones. The goal is laudable, but the trouble is, once a narrative is constructed, most people will also stick to it, even in the face of evidence which disproves it. This is especially true if the narrative conforms to what they want to believe – and that’s confirmation bias.

      So yes, I agree, we need more positive approaches. But we *don’t* need more just-so stories, and I consider their use, even with the best of intentions, to be always problematic.

      1. Ack. I left out a thought. Bottom of the second paragraph, before ‘and that’s confirmation bias,’ should be: – and influences them to seek out only that data which appears to confirm what they want to believe –

        Whoever wants an idea of where I’m coming from, there’s a thread on this blog back aways, on a 911 call tape that went viral, where a terrifyingly aggressive cat had cornered the caller and baby in a closet. Even here, the thread about it is chock-a-block with judgement, ridicule and criticism of the cat’s family, and assumptions of abuse – the kernels of false narratives to explain away the incident. But, thing is, I’ve got a cat like that. I’ve not wound up in a closet yet, but truth is, it may only be a matter of time. As much as medications, positive training, separation and supervision have helped my P’Gell have more good days than bad … she still has bad days, and sometimes they’re very bad indeed.

        Her vet and I, we think it’s very likely her aggression is related to seizures. For what it’s worth. She also has those, or does when not medicated.

    3. I think that for most people who provide care to stray animals because they are compassionate people who believe it’s the right thing to do, the ability to relate to the animal is hard-wired. No fabricated backstory is needed.

      Perhaps one area where his tool might come in useful is in trying to help someone who is charged with caring for a stray animal but only does it for the paycheck and in fact, may not believe it’s the right thing to do. On this blog, we’ve seen countless examples of public pound staff neglecting and harming animals in their care. In many of these facilities, the staff is actually paid to kill animals arbitrarily and it follows that these people are not going to place much value on the pets in their care. Maybe envisioning some type of backstory for individual animals might be helpful to get them to relate to the animals.

      But I do agree with Eucritta that this type of thinking can be dangerous and lead to discrimination against adopters. Not every stray pet who is in rough shape has been abused by a person and I receive fwd’d pleas every day from rescuers who have clearly fabricated backstories on strays they’ve taken in where there is invariably some evil animal abuser responsible for the pet’s condition. The fact is we don’t know how most strays got the way they are at the time we find them. There may be some clues but it’s not helpful to my mind to read more into those clues than we should. Doing so adds to the perception that shelter pets are damaged goods and the pet owning public is by and large irresponsible – both of which are myths.

      My personal belief has long been that dogs and cats live very much in the present. I admire this quality and believe it’s a gift. I’m not saying their past experiences have zero effect on their present behavior, just that I don’t want to dwell overly on what those past experiences might have been since I don’t know. I want to focus on what I do know – how the animal is behaving now. I want to respond to how the animal is showing me he needs me to be in this moment. That’s how I relate.

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