Why This Couple is so Passionate About Rescuing Donkeys

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Mark and Amy Meyers bought their first donkey, Izzy, as a companion for their horse. They were blown away by his loving personality and soon began rescuing abused and neglected donkeys in the community. In fact, thanks to Izzy’s charm the couple went on to establish Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue in 2000. To date, the Texas sanctuary has rescued more than 8,000 donkeys and burros.

While wild burros are equally protected under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses & Burros Act of 1971, the mustangs often seem to receive most of the public’s attention. As of March 2017 the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) estimates that there are 13,191 on-range burros on federal lands spread across 10 states. According to the HSUS some of these burros are descendants of donkeys brought to the Americas as work animals who either escaped or were released into the wild. As the burro populations grew, they clashed with ranchers because they were competing with livestock for grazing lands. In some cases, burros have been shot when they were considered bothersome.


Photo Credit: Peaceful Valley Donkey Sanctuary in Texas 

To help control the numbers in the wild, the BLM conducts annual roundups of wild burros transporting them to government holding facilities where they’re available for adoption. Meyers’ sanctuary rescued its first 500 burros in 2004 after an amendment to the 1971 act stated that animals who were more than 10 years of age or had failed adoption three times could be sold — usually for slaughter.


Burros grazing near Cold Creek, Nevada.              Image credit: Thinkstock

According to Meyers and other animal rights activists, more donkeys and burros are being sold for slaughter in the U.S. to supply the global market. Donkey sanctuaries worldwide are concerned about the growing demand for donkey skins in China where they are being used to make gelatin for a product called ejiao.

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What You Need to Know When Purchasing from Online Pet Pharmacies

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I’ve been purchasing supplements for my dogs online for many years now. These purchases have saved me quite a lot of money. While I’ve never purchased prescription medications online, I understand why many pet owners do. Every week, online pet pharmacies offer discounts and special deals on a wide variety of products.

But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine warns pet owners to exercise caution when filling prescriptions online. Some illegal online pet pharmacies may sell medicines that are counterfeit, outdated, mislabeled, incorrectly formulated, or improperly made or stored. These medicines may not contain the actual drug, may contain contaminants or the incorrect amount of drug, or may not work as well due to age or being stored in the wrong environment.

How to Determine if an Online Pharmacy is Reputable

Check the website for the seal indicating that it is a Vet-VIPPS (Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site) accredited pharmacy. This is a voluntary accreditation program of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy which requires rigid standards in the preparation and dispensing of medicines.

If the online pet pharmacy operates in the U.S., pet owners can check the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy website to see if the pharmacy is properly licensed.

The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine advises pet owners to have a discussion with their veterinarians before using an online pet pharmacy. Ask for instance, if your veterinarian trusts the online pharmacy you plan to use. Ask if he or she has ever worked with the pharmacy or has clients who have used the site. Typically veterinarians will write prescriptions for clients to send to reputable online pet pharmacies, or fax permission to refill medications, as long as the hospital has an established and recent veterinary-client-patient relationship.

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Puppy Mill Survivors Serve as Comforters, Role Models and Ambassadors

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Pomegranate, was 9 years old and carrying nine dead pups when she was rescued from an Amish puppy mill by the Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc. (RBARI) in Oakland, NJ. The Pomeranian had just three teeth left, a heart condition caused from over breeding and feet splayed out with nails that grow up instead of out.

“She had lived her whole life outside in a rabbit cage with hundreds of other dogs,” said Frannie D’Annunzio, Volunteer Manager at RBARI, who adopted Pomegranate. “The cages were those typically found in puppy mills with wire bottoms so that the poop falls out and no one ever has to clean them. The food is thrown into the cages and the only time the doors are open is for breeding purposes or to take the pups away from their mothers.”

For two years when the other dogs in the household ran towards D’Annunzio, Pomegranate ran in the opposite direction. Today, she’s eager to jump in her “mom’s” lap and serves as a “therapy dog” for new rescues and sick dogs and helps socialize new puppy mill rescues at the shelter. Several RBARI adopters have reported that their rehabilitated puppy mill survivors serve as comforters and role models for newly-rescued mill dogs as they acclimate to life in their new homes.

“I foster hospice dogs and puppy mill rescues and Pomegranate is always the first to run up and comfort them when I bring them home,” D’Annunzio said. “Most recently I brought home a 19-year-old hospice Chihuahua, Cupcake, and Pomegranate immediately jumped into the bed beside her. It’s so heartwarming to see her in action.”

Pomegranate comforting cupcake, a hospice foster.
Image credit: Frannie D’Annunzio

Adopt Don’t Shop

According to the Puppy Mill Project, two million puppies are bred annually in an estimated 10,000 mills across the United States, and 1.2 million dogs are euthanized in shelters each year. Adult dogs who can no longer breed are typically discarded or killed after they have served their purpose.

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Looking to Adopt a Fish? Here’s How to Find Fish in Need of Homes

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You adopted your dog and cat from a local animal shelter and now you would like to add an aquarium to your home. As an animal welfare advocate, you wonder if it’s possible to adopt a fish? The answer is yes but you may have to do a little more research to find fish in need of a home. You’ll also need to decide on the type of aquarium you want to keep.

“Adopting fish is a great idea,” said Ted Colletti, a member of the North Jersey Aquarium Society (NJAS) and author of The Tub Pond Handbook and Aquarium Care of Livebearers. “Fish are animals too. They may not be cuddly like dogs or cats, but they can still feel discomfort and suffer from neglect just like others pets.”

Experts say first-time aquarium hobbyists should focus on freshwater fish. Before rushing out to adopt your fish it’s important that you learn everything you can about the proper care and size and maintenance of tanks. Many clubs like the NJAS hold monthly meetings, welcome beginners and are eager to share their knowledge on fish keeping.

Where to find homeless fish

Petco’s “Think Adoption First” policy extends to fish with some stores offering fish for adoption on an “as available” basis. The fish are surrendered by owners who no longer want them and can be viewed in adoption tanks at the store. There isn’t a formal application process for adopting surrendered fish, instead, adopters are asked to fill out a standard animal care form and are educated on the care of the fish before taking them home.

Some shelters offer fish for adoption

Petfinder.org is a great place to being your search for shelter fish. Choose Scales, Fins & Others from the “Type” drop-down menu. If a specific location doesn’t show fish in need of homes, go to the advanced search box and choose “anywhere.” This will show you fish for adoption nationwide and you can search for shelters within driving distance. Some humane societies and rescue groups will ship fish to adopters.

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Saving the Wild Parrots of New Jersey

 

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Alison Evans-Fragale was dumbfounded when she got a call from Lonely Grey Rescue bird sanctuary to say that PSE&G had dropped off 27 baby parrots who had been living in nests removed from utility poles in Englewood, NJ. Six of the babies were dead.

For the past decade Evans-Fragale, a nurse practitioner and founder of the Edgewater Parrots Society, a group that works to protect the birds, has had an amicable relationship with the power company. She said that she was always alerted before a nest teardown either in her town or in neighboring communities so that she could be on site to monitor the removal and safe handling of any babies.

“I just don’t understand why I wasn’t called in to help this time,” Evans-Fragale said. “This was such a needless and violent death for these little birds and it breaks my heart.”

In a June 2 Facebook post PSE&G wrote  “The nests atop our transformers and wires were affecting power at Englewood Hospital. We took every precaution to carefully rescue as many of the birds and eggs as possible.”

Power Companies Seeking a Way to Co-Exist with Parrots

While most local residents enjoy having these exotic birds in their backyards, the parrots clash with the power company because they build their nests on utility poles. Utility companies say that the nests can cause fires and power outages and for years have sought ways to co-exist with the parrots. Some companies felt that euthanizing the birds was the best option but that led to outrage from animal welfare groups.

“In my view killing is the first response of a limited mind,” Evans-Fragale said. “There’s always a humane way to deal with a problem – it may not be the easiest or the cheapest –but it’s the right thing to do.”

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Why do Some Dogs Adjust to Babies While Others Get Stressed?

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While shelter and rescue groups too often see dogs abandoned by families just because a new baby comes into the house, there are absolutely times when a dog is so stressed that the best and safest solution is to find him a new home. Why do some dogs adjust to new babies while others feel stressed?

“We never know what is going on in the brain of any living being,” said Pia Silvani, director, behavioral rehabilitation for the ASPCA. “It’s not jealousy—dogs do not exhibit jealousy—that’s a human emotion.”

What has happened is that the dog’s immediate social group was once stable and now there is an intruder. Typically, Silvani said, dogs who have difficulty adjusting to babies have not been properly socialized with children and are now forced to live with them. Dogs do not understand the body language of a child and feel threatened. They are looking to their leader, the parent, for help but the parent is paying attention to the intruder and not giving the dog what it needs.

Things get turned upside down and there’s lots of stress in the house, especially when it’s a first baby,” said Silvani, author of “Raising Puppies and Kids Together: A Parent’s Guide.” “Sadly there are times when a dog just doesn’t adjust to the new baby. My heart goes out to families in this situation. They love their dog but are petrified that their baby is going to be injured.”

That’s no way to live and is not a good quality of life for anyone—including the dog, the trainer said. Some families solve the problem by rehoming the dog with grandparents so she is still part of the family. Others are placed into new loving homes.

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Finding New Homes for Shelter Cats Could be a Click Away

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Mindi, a shy FIV-positive cat, was constantly passed over by visitors to the Cat Depot in Sarasota, FL. So when the shelter was accepted into the Jackson Galaxy Foundation Cat Pawsitive clicker training program earlier this year, the staff immediately enrolled Mindi. She’d been living at the shelter for nine months and after just two months of clicker training was placed into a loving home.

“Potential adopters would watch volunteers clicker training with Mindi and were excited to see her doing high fives, said Claudia Harden, director of communications at the shelter. “It was seeing how well she interacted with staff and volunteers that ultimately got her adopted.”

MindigivinghighfiveMindi gives a high five during a clicker training session at Cat Depot. Her new family is continuing this training to provide Mindi with positive reinforcement.

The Jackson Galaxy Foundation created the Cat Pawsitive program in 2016 to help shelter cats overcome the stress associated with shelter environments. Shelters apply for enrollment into the three-month training program, which includes training webinars and consultations with feline behavior experts.

The Cat Depot has been using clicker training informally for four or five years but with the launch of the Cat Pawsitive program, clicker training became part of daily life at the shelter. With the focus on hard-to-adopt cats, training sessions are conducted twice a day, five days a week. Of the nine cats enrolled in the program during the formal training session, eight have found homes.

“There’s no doubt that the Cat Pawsitive training program has helped place our cats into homes,” Harden said. “It sparks a conversation with potential adopters when they walk into cat pods (rooms) and see our cats participating in clicker training sessions.”

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Why Children Get Bitten by Dogs and How to Protect Them

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every year more than four million people in the United Sates are bitten by dogs. Most people are bitten by their own dog or one they know and most of these victims are children under the age of 13.

The results of a study of dog bites in children published in the American Journal of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery found that dog bite injuries in the head and neck disproportionately affect children, and have been previously reported to account for 3-4 percent of all pediatric emergency visits, and up to 40 percent of all pediatric traumas. According to the study, these injuries can lead to disfiguring scars and lengthy treatments and the need for facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Why are so many children bitten by dogs?

“First of all children are not taught how to approach, handle or behave around dogs,” said Liz Gruen, a certified dog trainer and owner of Dog Training with Liz located in Palm Bay, FL. “And secondly, adults are not educated to the fact that even if they think their dog would never bite anyone, kids need to be supervised at all times when around dogs.” Even the friendliest dogs can be uncomfortable with a child’s quick movements and loud tone of voice, say Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) experts. Children tend to get excited around dogs and can approach them quickly, talk loudly and try to hug the animal. Any one of these actions can easily result in a bite.

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Is it Fair or Healthy to Carry Small Dogs All the Time?

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My friend Joy sent me a photo of her 7-pound mini dachshund, Rosalie, hanging out in a front dog carrier. Rosalie is usually running or playing in her yard with her doggie siblings or walking on the beach with mom. On this day she was in the carrier for her safety because the family was hanging out at the Purina Woofstock event in San Juan, PR, where they were surrounded by people and large dogs.

Trainers say there are definitely times when small dogs need to be picked up and carried for their protection. For example when around large crowds of people or dogs, at gatherings when there are lots of children who could unintentionally hurt the dog, on long hikes or walks when a little dog might not have the stamina to go the full distance and when visiting stores or malls that allow small dogs.

joyandrosalieMini Dachshund, Rosalie, safely tucked inside a carrier at the Purina Woofstock event in San Juan, PR. At home, Rosalie enjoys running and playing in the yard with her siblings.

Problems occur, according to trainers, when owners start treating their small dogs like babies and carry them everywhere.

“Dogs were given four legs for a reason, they are supposed to walk,” said Eileen Haley of Second Chance Dog Training Services, Inc. in Bergen County, NJ. “By carrying a small dog everywhere you are depriving them of the opportunity for mental and physical stimulation because they are not getting a chance to sniff and explore.”

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A Welcoming Smile and Supportive Environment can Save Pets Lives

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In the more than 20 years that I’ve been writing about pet and animal welfare issues, I’ve heard from numerous people who were disappointed with their experience at local animal shelters. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) also hears from potential adopters frustrated at being denied the opportunity to provide loving homes to animals in need. They complain about rude treatment by staff at their local shelters and frustration when calls and e-mails to shelters aren’t returned.

It’s true that shelter staff and volunteers see terrible abuse of animals and they are understandably concerned about placing these pets back into bad homes. However, leading animal welfare organizations say this concern can lead to being overprotective and going overboard when it comes to regulating, requiring and screening. This results in potential adopters turning to less humane options to find an animal companion. There’s a movement within the animal welfare community that’s finding a middle ground with the realization that “a home that’s good if not perfect will be better for pets than an animal shelter.”

The “Adopters Welcome” manual and webinar series produced by the HSUS were designed to help shelters maximize adoptions by embracing members of the community and encouraging them to adopt while helping them succeed as pet owners. In addition, the ASPCA’s “Smile! You’re Saving Lives” webinar focuses on providing a positive service to clients in the interest of building great relationships and saving more lives. A growing body of research is suggesting that “open adoptions” done with less intrusive methods of pet adopter matchmaking are just as effective as, and in some cases even more successful than, those requiring potential adopters to jump through a lot of hoops.

So, what does an open adoption policy look like?

Open adoptions provide shelters with the opportunity to educate rather than judge potential adopters. The focus is on building partnerships and lifelong relationships, following up on adoptions and being a resource for families who adopt. When the Dakin Humane Society, with shelters in Springfield and Leverett, MA, launched its Open Adoption policy more than six years ago, it created a “culture of understanding and respect” for the human customers, coworkers and volunteers who come to the shelter. At Dakin communication with potential adopters is congenial and collaborative rather than bureaucratic and rule-bound.

Dakin Humane Society adapted an Open Adoption policy more than six years ago. 

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