Mental Health Break: Photo

042816 baby birds

This year’s batch of Eastern Phoebes on our porch.

Name That Animal

Plot Twist: Researching allowed! And: I don’t know the answer to this one.

Standing room only.

Standing room only.

These four baby birds have been growing up very fast in a nest their mama made on our front porch. My ability to identify birds ends at the duck-cardinal-swan level. I don’t know what kind of birds these are. I thought someone here might have a guess based upon the appearance of the nestlings and/or the nest itself. (We never saw the eggs due to the height of the nest and not wanting to disturb mama so I can’t describe those.)  The babies look exactly like mama.

Since I don’t know the answer, I am going to play too and guess that these are Carolina wrens. I Googled and found this is our state bird here in SC.  So I know at least we have this kind of bird somewhere in this state and it’s not impossible that some might be on our porch.  More daring and/or more knowledgeable guesses are also welcome.  Anyone guessing duck, cardinal or swan gets partial credit, out of sympathy.

Feds Round Up Geese Families and Gas Them

The next time you see a cat hater spewing misinformation about how cats kill zillions of birds, remind them of the verifiable fact that the US government killed 4 million animals, mostly birds, last year.  That number includes tens of thousands of beautiful Canadian geese.

The government’s only criteria for killing appears to be a complaint from someone/anyone describing the birds as a nuisance.  And the killing is done in the cruelest of ways, as detailed in this recent story from Youngstown, Ohio.

Goslings [Image via Wikipedia]

Goslings [Image via Wikipedia]

Two hundred thirty-eight adult geese and their babies were targeted for extermination at Mill Creek Park.  Wildlife officials waited until June to kill the geese since they are most vulnerable at that time – the goslings are too young to fly and the adults have temporarily lost their ability to fly due to molting.  Unable to escape their killers, these adult and baby geese were herded into a chamber and gassed to death – an agonizing way for animals of any age to die.

Let’s be clear:  these are not fabricated numbers based on junk science like the now debunked cat claims, these are government reported numbers of kills.  All done for convenience in the most horrifying manner imaginable.  And paid for by American taxpayers.  The feds seem to have something in common with local government run “shelters” with regard to convenience killing of animals – and that is not a good thing.

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

Zero Dark Thirty: Baby Deer Edition

Nine agents from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and four sheriff’s deputies descended upon a no kill shelter on the Wisconsin-Illinois border last month in response to a report that a baby deer was being cared for there.  Authorities had obtained aerial photographs of the orphaned fawn at the shelter and had staked out the place in order to confirm the animal’s presence.

Yes aerial photos.  Yes stake out.

When they raided the shelter, which apparently lacks the state permit required to house deer, an employee described the heavily armed group as looking “like a S.W.A.T. team”.  The agents “corralled workers near the picnic area and then set out in search of the fawn.”

Authorities located the baby deer, who had been named Giggles due to the laugh-like noises she made.  Shelter staff next saw her limp body in a trash bag, slung over the shoulder of one of the agents.  She had been slated to go to a wildlife rehab center in Illinois the next day.

A local TV news reporter asked DNR Supervisor Jennifer Niemeyer about the overkill:

“Could you have made a phone call before showing up, I mean, that’s a lot of resources,” WISN 12 News investigative reporter Colleen Henry asked.

“If a sheriff’s department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don’t call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up,” Niemeyer said.

Right.  Because a fawn named Giggles drinking out of a baby bottle is exactly like a drug bust.

The shelter’s president says she plans to sue the DNR.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me this link.)

Protecting the Lives of Unborn Puppies and Kittens in Shelters

Mother dog and litter at Austin Animal Center, as posted on

Mother dog and litter at Austin Animal Center, as posted on

As a no kill advocate, I am opposed to the spaying of pregnant shelter animals.  While I do not believe in the myth of pet overpopulation, that has nothing to do with my opposition.  Even if I believed pet overpopulation was real (I do not), I would still be opposed to spaying pregnant dogs and cats because doing so means killing unborn puppies and kittens who have the right to live.  As Nathan Winograd wrote in his blog:

When we spay pregnant animals and the unborn kittens and puppies die, the fact that they are not yet born does not relieve our responsibility toward assuring their right to live. When we abort kittens and puppies, we are literally killing puppies and kittens.

If the kittens or puppies are viable, they must be individually killed, usually through an injection of sodium pentobarbital. Even when they are not, however, when a mother is spayed, the kittens or puppies die from anoxia (oxygen deprivation) due to lack of blood supply from the uterus once the vessels are clamped. They suffocate.

I tragically witnessed the spaying of a pregnant dog when I worked in a vet clinic a couple of decades ago.  There were two vets on duty and one was performing the surgery.  She threw the uterus containing the puppies into the trash.  The other vet retrieved the uterus and placed it on a sink table.  The puppies crawled around helplessly while she drew up injections of Fatal Plus for each.  Had she not killed them individually, they would have crawled around in the trash can until they eventually died.  Back then, I did believe that pet overpopulation was real.  But I still knew these killings were wrong.

In a shelter environment, pregnant dogs and cats are either killed or spayed regularly.  There are presumably times when pregnant dogs and cats are killed or spayed and no one knew the animal was pregnant.  While there may be variations among individuals, it is generally impossible to tell if a dog is pregnant just by looking at her during the first 5 weeks of the normal 9 week gestation period.  With some dogs, you can not tell even in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy.  Luckily there are other detection methods which can be performed by an experienced vet but they are limited.  It is possible for vets who specialize in canine reproduction to palpate the uterus at approximately 4 weeks.  The puppies at this time are contained in walnut sized sacs and the window for palpation is brief – about 1 week.  Even if the timing is right and the vet is experienced, there are still some dogs who carry their pups in such a way to make palpation impossible.  Ultrasound is a more reliable method of detecting pregnancy and may be used from about 3 weeks onward.  Radiographs can only be used to detect pregnancy during the final 2 weeks of gestation.  By that point, the dog may be able to diagnosed by simple observational methods such as an enlarged abdomen, development of mammary tissue, and fetal movement.  While I have very little experience with female cats, my understanding is that pregnancy detection methods are similar to those used with dogs and ultrasound is the preferred method for reliability.

What does all this mean for female shelter animals?  I believe we have a moral obligation to protect the lives of all shelter animals, including the unborn.  I would therefore offer guidelines for a certain portion of the shelter population.  That portion includes all female dogs and cats who meet the following criteria:

  • Have reached the age of puberty (approximately 6 months).
  • Have an unknown medical history and no sign of having been spayed (such as spay scar or tattoo).
  • Have not come into heat while in the shelter’s care.  (Pregnant dogs and cats do not come in season.)

For female shelter animals who meet the above criteria, I suggest the following guidelines to protect the lives of any puppies or kittens they may be carrying:

  • If the female dog or cat meeting the specified criteria has been at the shelter for less than 9 weeks, the operating assumption must be that the animal is pregnant.  For those animals meeting the criteria who have been at the shelter for less than 3 weeks, an inconclusive veterinary determination must be interpreted as positive for pregnancy until a conclusive determination can be made at a later date.
  • Under no circumstances should a female dog or cat meeting the specified criteria be killed unless a veterinarian determines she is irremediably suffering, in which case euthanasia should be performed.
  • Once a female is scheduled for sterilization, she should be evaluated for signs of pregnancy by the shelter vet.
  • If the shelter vet determines the animal is pregnant, the shelter may release her with reasonable restrictions to ensure that mother and litter are all sterilized prior to permanent adoption.
  • If the vet’s determination is inconclusive, the female may be released with a signed agreement to avoid all contact with intact males of her species until 9 weeks have elapsed from date of impound at which time she can be returned to the shelter for spay (or spayed by a private vet of the adopter’s choosing with verifiable documentation to be provided to the shelter).
  • Females meeting the specified criteria who have been at the shelter less than 9 weeks (but more than 3 weeks) may be spayed if a veterinarian determines, based upon ultrasound and confirmed by observation, that she is not pregnant.
  • Females who have come into heat while in the shelter’s care and who have been prevented from any unsupervised contact with intact males of their species may be assumed not to be pregnant and may be spayed without veterinary consultation regarding possible pregnancy.
  • Females meeting the specified criteria who have been at the shelter for more than 9 weeks and who have been prevented from any unsupervised contact with intact males of their species may be assumed not to be pregnant and may be spayed without veterinary consultation regarding possible pregnancy.

Being Born is Not a Crime

In May and June of 2012, records obtained via FOIA show the Memphis pound killed a total of 20 kittens and 22 puppies for the crime of being “too young”.  Being born is not a medically hopeless condition requiring euthanasia.  It is a gift, something to be cherished and protected.

Photo submitted by reader Ashley, who writes: “My foster kitten, Ollie, at 1 week old, right after a feed.”

Photo by reader Ashley, who writes: “Ollie at 10 weeks with one of my other fosters, a couple days before they were adopted.”

Compassionate foster owners value the lives of newborn kittens and puppies and are willing to put in the work to make sure they are well cared for and given every chance at a good life. Shouldn’t a taxpayer funded “shelter” at least do as good a job as the so-called irresponsible public?

I don’t normally like to ask for presents but…

…in this case, let’s just say that YES, I will happily accept this li’l guy as a gift.  And if you wanted to toss in a substantial piece of the Amazon or the Everglades for when he grows up, that’d be swell.  kthx.

Mental Health Break: Photo

First, the mandatory disclaimers:

Wild animals are wild.

Wild animals are not pets.

Do not try this at home.


Now for your moment of cute:

Six week old marmoset.

[Via NPR Tumblr]

Trivial Pursuits

I’m not up for any in-depth typing at the moment but wanted to share something trivial and get your response:
What is your favorite baby animal and why?
Mine is baby cats. I have always loved tiny versions of things and to me, kittens look very much like tiny versions of adult cats. Just like a cat all squooshed down to size. Some baby animals, for example puppies, ducklings and lion cubs, change quite a bit before reaching their adult form. So yes, I can think they are cute, but they don’t meet that “tiny version” criteria. And anything born with just skin (no fur/feathers) – sorry, but you are disqualified for me.
Oh and while I’m being trivial, I’ll add that my favorite kind of cat is your garden variety tiger striped with white.
Do you have a favorite baby animal?

Yeah, He’s Cute NOW