Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Special needs dog failed by rescue, needs special trainer before her time is up!

Time is about up for “Monkey Girl,” but in a way, time never really started for her.

She is in a rescue that is closing its doors next week.  The many dogs and cats there who are still not adopted will go to San Antonio Animal Care Services.  They kill 75% of the animals they receive; and with Monkey Girl’s ill luck and problem behavior, she will certainly be one of those killed.  Our area rescues are overflowing, but even if they were not – this dog needs more than extra attention.

Monkey Girl has been in the rescue for so long, the story of how she got there is lost, but she seems to have come as a puppy, perhaps eight years ago.  From her recent photos, she has now gone gray.

Why is she still there?  She has not been evaluated and like the history of how she came there, the facts are in dispute.  The following is what is claimed.

  • She was warehoused and ignored.

  • She was worked with repeatedly and unsuccessfully.

  • She is dog aggressive.

  • She is afraid of everything and everyone, and only does well with people she knows providing it is quiet and there are no dogs around (two conditions she has never experienced.)

  • She is an escape artist (wouldn’t you be?)

Her PetFinder description is:  “Finally able to pose for pictures, she wishes someone will see her inner beauty and give her a chance. She is very playful and loving, and kind of picky about her friends. She is very smart and willing to please; this sweet girl will be the best friend you could ever have.”

Hmmm, maybe not so much . . .

People who know the dog say:

Fitting her photo is from behind bars. . .
“When we would walk her we would have to start running before we hit the door so that she would not realize she was going outside. She will not make eye contact except when she is in a cage. She only feels safe in a cage.”
“She bonds with people quickly, and out of that environment to a place where she has structure and exercise, she very well may blossom quickly.”

“She only wants to be in a kennel.  She will be a project for anyone as she has been in a small cage for 8 years. . . . She would just lay down and refuse to walk.  She wanted back in her kennel.  I think with work she could turn around but it is a big project.”

Here is how this reporter learned of Maggie - let’s call her by her real name, as does her only friend, and give her that respect for what may be her last week.  Here is what her friend wrote:

“I am desperately trying to help a dog who has never truly seen the outside of a kennel from what I understand. She has since become terrified of anything and anyone outside of her kennel doors. It is a shame when a dog has to be tricked into taking a walk. She is a heartbreaking example of too many dogs and not enough attention to go around. Maggie (her real name) deserves to know love. She deserves to know that there is a world outside that will keep her safe. Maggie deserves a life outside of a kennel and inside someone’s heart. According to the folks at the shelter, she is currently considered unadoptable. Unless we can find someone with a lot of experience to work with Maggie, she will most likely be euthanized. “

This woman, Carrie, is so concerned that she found a trainer who would donate two weeks in the hope that might bring Maggie around so Carrie could take her.  However, Carrie and her husband Alan have an in home rescue with their own pack, two recent rescue dogs, a rescue litter, and zero experience when it comes to a dog like Maggie.  The reality is this might only buy Maggie two more weeks.

Carrie is hoping that someone reading this article will be able to help long term.  Carrie has watched Maggie on PetFinder for awhile, but thought Maggie had a better chance where she was of finding a home, rather than coming to her small rescue.  She had no idea that Maggie had been there for so long or had gone "cage crazy."

Maggie needs a rescue with a trainer on staff who can commit to hours a day with this dog or a home with someone who has a proven record of rehabilitating hopeless cases.  Because San Antonio Animal Care Services is overcrowded and rescues are being asked to make space due to this rescue closing – it is unlikely that Maggie will find what she needs close to home.  That’s OK.  It is not like home has been good to her.  So if you can share this article outside San Antonio, that would help Maggie's slim chances

No comments below on the rescue or Maggie’s sad history.  That is why I have not named the rescue.  Venting will not help now.  The comment space is reserved for brainstorming on how we can give Maggie a future and also find homes or rescues to take the adoptable animals.  You may contact this writer directly marilyn at marilynlitt dot com.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Danger number one for dogs and cats during the holidays

Duffy, available for adoption from
Hound.haven AT gmail DOT com
Stop what you are doing right now and make sure your dog has tags and your cat has a tear-away collar.  The cat’s collar is to let someone know that cat has a home.  They should be micro-chipped with up-to-date registration information.  


The upcoming holiday season is hazardous to your dogs and cats.  They are at an increased risk of loss.  You have people coming in and out, to visit, to party, or to deliver packages.  This is the number one time of year for animals to get lost.

Your favorite aunt from the East Coast may casually say, “Your cat wanted out, so I let him out.”

That’s right, your inside cat who you battle to keep inside has just been ushered out!

And then there are the fireworks on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. . . .

Some rescuers say that New Year’s Day they see the most lost animals.  Several years in a row, this reporter got calls on Christmas Day from people who had found lapdogs.  Those dogs were all visiting with their families and so were really lost in that they did not know the neighborhood. When visiting with your animal, you can always put tape on their collar with a local phone number -especially if you have no tag or the tag has your landline home phone on it.

How can you diminish the possibility of an animal getting out? 

Make sure your guests know which animals are allowed out and through which doors.  Lock your gates so children don’t leave them open.  (It also helps keep track of visiting children if  to leave your yard, they have to go through the house.)
Your friends may want to greet your animals when they arrive at your home, but it is better to keep the dogs and cats in another room until the initial commotion of greetings and carrying in luggage subsides. 

Maybe your dog or cat is a party animal, but many are more comfortable not being underfoot and seeing strangers. So if you have a party, consider confining the animals where they can doze instead of stealing holiday cookies.

Follow the same restrictions for nights there are fireworks.  Some dogs will go over, under or through a fence that ordinarily is an impassible barrier.  If your dog hates explosions, put him inside in an interior room.  Turn on some music.  Consider giving him Benadryl.  (Consult your vet for the proper dosage.)  Many people swear by Thunder Shirts which calm a dog by wrapping him tightly about the chest.  Apparently that is a comforting sensation. 

Do not try to soothe him, but just act normally.  If you soothe a dog when he is frightened, he thinks there is a reason to be scared.  Better to carry on as if nothing is unusual.

I hope you won’t spend your Thanksgiving driving around looking and hanging up signs, but if you do lose or find an animal, check for tips on  It has special tips for San Antonio, but there are pointers anyone can use.

Even when you take precautions, dogs and cats are always dreaming of what is beyond their boundaries – so don’t beat yourself up if an animal goes on walk-about.  We can only do the best we can.  But do make sure that when your lost animal is found, he has ID so you can be found too!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Killing horses not a crime in San Antonio

Court watchers were surprised by Judge Garrahan's recent decision to sentence a man to one year deferred adjudication for walking away from a horse van and  leaving the animals to swelter and two to die.  (Deferred adjudication means there is no punishment unless you become a repeat offender.)

The defendant, Justin Harvey, was taking a load of horses to Mexico for slaughter.  (There are no slaughter houses in the US.)  The horses were turned away at the border.

The defendant was transporting them for Tucker Brothers, a Kansas company.

The horse trailer with seven horses broke down on I-35.

The driver just walked away.  He almost certainly made sure he got some food and water when his drive ended, but the horses did not.  The horses were just left without food or water.  Harvey could have called the company - and perhaps he did.  He could have called the San Antonio police.  Instead he chose to walk away and leave the horses to suffer from thirst. He didn’t suffer any consequences.

A passerby discovered the van the next day.  By that time the temperatures had reached at least 130 degrees and two of the horses were dead.
They baked to death.

The owner of the horses, Raymond Tucker, knew our court system.  He was quoted in The Fort Scott Tribune.  "It won't end up to a rat's a - -.  It's just stirring up more publicity that doesn't need to be stirred up.”

Tucker also said, “All I can tell ya is s - - - happens.”

Apparently the Judge Garrahan agrees.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Is a cat trapped in a cement slab in San Antonio?

Workman blocking holes used by cats
I read a blog a few days ago asking,  “What would you do if you knew a cat was trapped in a wall with nowhere to get out?”  It reminded me of another question some people have asked recently; “What would you do if you saw a child being raped?”

I think most of us don’t have to think about their answer to these questions.  We would do whatever it took to stop it.

This morning I was made aware that a cat had been boarded up in a concrete slab. There are a number of holes on the side of the slab.  It is not known if there is a network of connecting tunnels with multiple exits or if each hole has only one exit.

For seven years, three women have been feeding a small feral cat colony in the area at 900 NE Loop 410.  They had all the cats spayed or neutered years ago.  Every night these volunteers put food bowls out and picked them up in the early morning. Recently the women realized that increased development in the area meant the cats would no longer be safe, so they started to trap and relocate them. 

Ten cats have been trapped.  Eight were relocated to other feral colonies and two were socialized and adopted out.  But three stubborn cats have yet to be trapped.  Of course they were trapped once for the spay/neuter, so that makes trapping again more difficult.

The volunteers were continuing to try to trap these last cats, but this morning when they came to pick up their food bowls and traps, a maintenance man for Puget of Texas, which is at that location, was nailing plywood over the holes.  This was completely without warning – the volunteers did not know anyone had a problem with the cats. 

Puget of Texas was contacted by this reporter and a staff member said the plywood had been taken down and only a couple of little holes filled with dirt.  (Presumably it was easy to see those holes were empty.) The plywood would not be put back up until the holes were empty and then a humane trap would be placed in each hole and a covering placed temporarily over the hole until it was certain no animals are trapped. 

However, when the rescuers went out with a camera crew, all but one or two of the holes were securely fastened with plywood and a non-removable cement.  Any possums (there is a local family of five with three babies) or cats in there may now be in there to stay until they die of thirst.  Since possums are nocturnal, they are almost certainly in the slab.

In addition, two Animal Control Officers (ACO) came out and told the rescuers it was illegal to feed cats.  There is no such ordinance; in fact, a report posted to the Animal Care Services website today discusses how ACO’s giving out this misinformation is a problem.

·         Discussed ACO’s attitude towards residents
o   Residents being cited and misled;
§  “Stop feeding the cats and they’ll go away”
§  “It’s against the law to feed cats”
§  “Feed the cats and they are your responsibility – you own them 72 hour rule”
§  Suggest a change attitude to “assist” instead of “punish” (at least until the resident has been given time to correct the infraction)
The rescuers are being temporarily allowed to set their traps.  Three cats remain at large and one, little Mojo has not been sighted.  It is possible that Mojo and perhaps the possum family remain trapped behind the plywood.

Unless Mojo and the possums are seen, the plywood must be removed, baited traps set and the plywood temporarily replaced so the traps can be checked.  That is the ONLY humane thing to do!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

How extremist is the San Antonio no kill effort?

ASPCA had their own “oops moment” this week when they put a document on their website that made it clear that they consider no kill an extremist position.  This was not news to Austin, where no kill passed the Austin City Council in spite of the ASPCA, not with help by the ASPCA.

So how does San Antonio measure up, extremist-wise?

Here is the document:  The Tactics of the Extremist Agenda.  
  • Step 1: Establishing a Proxy
A member of a community will begin to adopt the talking points of the Extremist Agenda, using aggressive and divisive language to describe the state of that community’s animal welfare organizations.  

YES: In 2010, San Antonio took in 25,183 animals and killed 18.457.  However you define it, "no kill" is not even on our horizon.  (A recent Examiner article describing the state of San Antonio’s Animal “Care” Services.)
  • Step 2: Creating a Local Organization
The proxy forms an organization (i.e. “No Kill Austin/Louisville/Houston/Philly) that will act as the local brand for the Extremist Agenda and begin to use social networking to expand.  
NOT YET:  Fix San Antonio  There are under 100 likes, so hardly a "local brand" – but San Antonio must start somewhere!  (Disclosure, this writer started the FaceBook page.) 
  • Step 3: Engaging in Local Politics
The no-kill organization lobbies local public officials and candidates regarding the existing euthanasia rates at the municipal shelter. In most cases, there does exist public attention to the need to reform the sheltering system to increase lifesaving.
The proxy organization will get involved in local elections, providing questionnaires and financial support to candidates perceived as sympathetic to the Extremist Agenda.
NOT YET: I think a questionnaire will be sent out to candidates before the next San Antonio city council election.  Will San Antononians be so extremist as to offer campaign and financial support to candidates?  Doubtful.
  • Step 4: Slandering Existing Animal Welfare
The Extremist Agenda slanders the existing shelter director and any local humane organization that is deemed to be sympathetic to the status quo. The aim of the slander is to put enough pressure on the director to step down (which is often achieved).
NOT YET: It is not slander if it is true.  Even if whoever is really director of our local abattoir steps down, a new director with no kill experience would have a difficult time without support of the city government.  The support is not there at this time. No kill cannot be accomplished in San Antonio without a director who has a track record at a no kill shelter and who is driven to start saving lives.
  • Step 5: Installing a Puppet Regime
A new “compassionate” director sympathetic to the Extremist Agenda is put in place through effective lobbying. The Extremist Agenda organization will often advocate a candidate with little or no experience who will essentially do as they are told.
NOT YET: This is not even on the horizon.
  • Step 6: Saving Face when the Agenda Fails
The Extremist Agenda displaces blame when the program becomes unsustainable by blaming either their own director or local public officials for not backing them sufficiently.
NOT YET: This seems to assume that no kill will fail, but is somewhat confusing.  The current situation is unsustainable for the many animals who die each week, for the workers who have to see the carnage and for the rescuers who despair.  Is that blame enough?  How about - San Antonio’s No Kill 2012 strategic plan was a failure.  It was so bad that when it was abandoned earlier this year, the number of animals killed in San Antonio was increasing annually.  In other words, we could not have come up with a worse No Kill plan.
  • Step 7: Slandering Media
Attacking unfavorable media is commonplace for the Extremist Agenda when a story runs that questions any component of implementing overnight solutions while demonizing hardworking animal welfare organizations.

NOT YET: Why not try implementing an overnight solution?  Planning failed - R.I.P. San Antonio 2012.  A new facility failed.  One hundred years of “catch and kill” failed. 
San Antonio, when will you step up and become extremist?  Austin is already there and made us a template to follow.  

The completed extremist checklist per Austin looks like:

YES: Citizens demand no kill
YES: Citizens vote in City Council members who support no kill
YES: City Council passes resolution making ACS no kill
YES: New director is hired with a no kill background

Until that checklist is completed:

NOT YET: No kill San Antonio