Monthly Archives: October 2009
Ziggy and Zoe (named Becca and Gladiola when they were in foster care) are now living the good life with their new family. They have been in their new home for over six months now and have taken over!! Not that they are spoiled or anything!
Bobbie makes these cat beds that open on the end so you can put catnip in them. We sell them at the pharmacy for $5. Recently, a lady came into the pharmacy who was new to town. She purchased one of the beds and sent us this photo after she got home and gave the pillow to her cat, Bacardi.
Here is what her email said:
“We recently moved to the area and received our $5.00 coupon (from the pharmacy) as a welcome to the neighborhood gift. My husband and I stopped in tonight to redeem it. We got a nice notebook with our coupon but also donated $5.00 for the cat pillow that went towards the Black and Orange Cat Foundation donation.. My cat Bacardi wanted to thank you..he loves his pillow already.. (See attached). Thank you for the welcome gift and for helping the animals.”
Before I go into the story of why I have an angel unchaining a dog on a cat blog, I want to explain that this image is featured on the 2009 Christmas card for the group Dogs Deserve Better. Dogs Deserve Better is an organization I support whole-heartedly because of their work to get dogs off of chains and into homes. If you’d like to purchase the cards and find out about the group, please visit their site: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/2009cards.html
I was trying to do exactly what Dogs Deserve Better advocates–help a chained dog find a better life. And while I did not succeed, someone else higher than me stepped in to do what I could not.
This story begins about two weeks ago with an email. An email that came to me via a contact at Columbus Dog Connection. A lady who lives in my area had written Columbus Dog Connection because she was upset at seeing a dog constantly chained. She wrote:
“There is a dog that I think is being neglected. I contacted the dog wardon and he stopped by. Then he (the dog warden) remembered this guy asked him months ago to take his dog. The dog wardon said because the guy has a dog house for the dog and water, (I hope he’s feeding it), the dog warden can do nothing. So I drive by that house almost every day to go anywhere and that dog is outside, sun, rain, sleet, snow, wind. He is always chained up. And most of the time he is just laying there. It makes me sad. Last week I drove by and he had a ‘free kittens’ sign out. So now there are a bunch of animals being neglected.”
The contact at Columbus Dog Connection emailed me to see if Black and Orange could do anything about the “Free Kittens” being advertised. So I drove by the house, which is quite close to where my parents live, to check on the situation. The dog, as the lady had written, was chained to a a large stake near the barn with a small dog house next to him. He had worn a large semi-circle of grass to bare dirt. His chain was heavy and I thought appeared too short. I also thought, isn’t that the same dog that used to be there when I lived at home with mom and dad?
Now I haven’t lived with Mom and Dad for quite a while, but I remembered driving down this little back road and seeing a dog chained in the yard years ago. It made me sad then. It made me even sadder now to think it was the same dog and he had been there all those years.
I decided that not only would I do what I could about the “free kittens,” I would also try to get the dog out of that situation.
Since I am more used to cats than dogs, I asked my friend, Monica, to help with the situation. We gathered a leash and treats and set off with the plan of taking the dog home with Monica until we could find a more permanent place for him or taking him to our local shelter where he would be safe and out of the weather.
When we got to the house, the husband was out in the yard and we quickly asked him about the dog (who we learned from other sources was named Squanto).
“What do you want with an old dog like that?” he asked us.
We discovered that the dog was 13 years old (so it probably was the same dog I remembered from my college years at home), a purebred Siberian Husky male, extremely gentle and friendly, and completely deaf.
What a miserable life. Chained and deaf.
The dog was also microchipped, dashing my hopes of taking him to the local shelter as a “stray”, because they would have scanned the chip and tried to reunite the dog with the owner.
The man warmed up to us after discovering who I was and told us he would need to talk to his wife (who knew me) about the dog. She was out of town for the week and would be back the following Sunday. I made arrangements with him to take the female cats, including the mother of the “free litter” in to be fixed once his wife returned home. I also tried to get the “free kittens,” but, he informed me, they already had homes.
We left without the dog.
Monica and I had a week to find a place for the dog to go. We contacted rescues and sanctuaries. Husky rescues didn’t want him because he was too old. So we tried rescues for old dogs and handicapped dogs and everything else in between. But with no luck.
On Monday, I called to confirm the appointments for the cats with the wife, who was now home. She was thrilled at the prospect of no more kittens and told me I could stop by to get them later in the day. She would be home by 4:30.
When I got to the house, promptly at 4:30, hoping they would let me have the dog even though I really had no place to put him yet, I noticed in passing that Squanto was lying on the ground in his semi-circle of paced dirt.
There were two large grain semis parked by the barn close to where Squanto was lying.
When the lady came out of the house to give me the cats for the clinic, she said, “One of the semis backed over the dog earlier today.”
She shook her head. “The dog was deaf, so he didn’t hear the truck and didn’t know to get out of the way. Well, that’s what happens.”
There were still granary people out at the barn, moving past the semis and the dog, as if he didn’t exist. I was horrified.
The lady continued, “We just talked about the dog last night. We were going to let you have him. But now he’s dead. Could you tell your friend?”
I had to run for my truck before I burst into tears.
Who would leave a chained, deaf dog in a space where a semi was backing up? Who wouldn’t tell the semi driver to be extremely careful because a deaf dog was behind them? Poor Squanto, deaf and on the chain, could not hear or even get away from the semi that killed him.
Just as upsetting to me, was the fact that this happened earlier in the day, but the dog’s body was still there, chained to the stake. No one had moved him. No one had covered him over with a sheet or blanket.
I did find out later that the husband had not been home when the semis arrived and thus, no one had warned the semi drivers about the deaf dog. That also accounted for the dog lying where he died for so long. As soon as the husband got home, he did remove Squanto’s body.
These details made me feel slightly better about the situation. And I also want to state that these are not bad people. They just do not have the same beliefs as we do about animals. The wife did tell me how sad she felt and I truly believe, in their way, they loved the dog and did all they could for him.
But this is the reason there is a need for education about chained dogs and the fact that animals are sentient, feeling creatures.
As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, when I was a child, our dogs were always chained or penned. It horrifies me now, but everyone can change.
I feel so sad that this dog lived 13 years on a chain and then died in such a gruesome way. I feel sad that Monica and I could not help him.
But someone else did help him. And that is why the picture of the angel unchaining the dog started this article. Because that is exactly what I think happened to Squanto.
I usually try to avoid political topics, because nothing seems to send more people over the edge than butting heads over politics. But there are two new items of a political nature that I think everyone needs to know about because they do affect animals.
The first is H. R. 3501, the “Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years” or HAPPY Act. This act, which has been submitted by Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), would allow pet owners to deduct pet care expenses (including veterinary care costs) from their taxes, up to a maximum of $3,500. The HAPPY Act is being considered in order to help relieve pet owners from costly taxes associated with caring for their pet. This is a wonderful piece of legislation, because it would allow people to provide better medical care for their pets and keep pets out of shelters and off the street when their owners feel they can’t afford to care for them.
To show your support for the HAPPY Act, visit the ASPCA’s web site under their Lobby for Animals page: https://secure2.convio.net/aspca/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=2605
Once you are there, fill in your information and also add your own comments to the formatted letter if you’d like. Then just hit Send Message to have the message sent to your U.S. representative.
There is also an excellent page on OpenCongress, which lists all the blog posts that have been written on the HAPPY Act so you can find out more: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3501/blogs?sort=toprated
The second political issue is very big in the rural area where we are located. It is Issue 2 and it will be on the ballot for all of us to vote on in Ohio on November 3. Issue 2 is a proposal to amend the Ohio Constitution in order to create a 13-member Ohio Livestock Standards Board. All of the signs I keep seeing that say to vote yes, explain that a yes vote will produce healthy food and humane treatment of animals. But I don’t think so.
I would urge everyone who believes that all animals need to be treated humanely to do their homework on this issue and Vote No.
First off, I want to state that the Humane Society of the United States is urging people who truly care about animals to say no to Issue 2. To read their reasons, please visit: http://www.hsus.org/legislation_laws/ballot_initiatives/ohio_issue_2.html#at
One of the main things that Issue 2 proponents are trying to avoid dealing with is the way animals that are used for food are housed. This includes, cages so small chickens can’t spread their wings and pigs can’t move around. Veal calves that remain chained their short lives in tiny crates. Seven states, Arizona,California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, and Oregon have already passed legislation to do away with this type of inhumane confinement in “animal production” and those in favor of Issue 2 fear Ohio voters may decide to do the the same–which will cost them money.
Some also fear that by saying yes to Issue 2, the conditions of farm animals will not only be impacted but dogs in high volume breeding kennels. Puppy mills.
There was a nice article in The Columbus Dispatch on October 25, which I feel sheds light on the issues behind Issue 2: http://www.dispatchpolitics.com
Please take the time to read up on Issue 2 and learn the facts before voting.
Kristin sent over these photos of Lydia perched on the desk with her baby photos pulled up on the computer behind her. Lydia had been looking at them with grave interest and just a bit of nostalgia for her “younger years,” but the whole process took a lot of effort and she had to curl up for a nap.
Kristin didn’t catch it in time to take a photo, but just prior to reading the page that featured her kitten escapades, Lydia had been playing online Blackjack. Her paws were worn out from slamming them on the desk and yelling, “Hit me.”
I told you about the cute photos I had of Lydia when she was a baby and was still a little bit shy. Well here she is peeking out at me when I tried to take her photo.
And then in the next photo, she has finally decided to come out and investigate a bit. What a sweet little girl!
Nicky was royalty. Named for Czar Nicholas, because he was a Russian Blue, the quiet, gentle, gray cat, who managed to slip in to all our hearts, silently slipped away from us last week. Nicky died because his heart was just too big.
Nicky was one of several kitties that our foster, Debbie, called her little “artists’ colony.” When she found them at a local metro park, deserted because the house they were living in was slated to be torn down, they were the starving artists. But with Debbie’s work and love, she turned Nicky and his family into happy, content, and well fed cats.
Nicky was a gorgeous cat with big eyes and soft fur. He had a love of toes and was constantly brushing up against feet. Debbie said he was the cat with a foot fetish.
He was only about two years old and his best friend was little Sadie, who may have been a litter mate or cousin. Sadie and Nicky were always together–cuddled up in a chair, sleeping on a blanket. When one of them went to PetSmart to try to be adopted, both went, because we wanted them to be adopted as a team.
And yet, although we had numerous applications for Nicky, although he and Sadie went to PetSmart off and on over the last year and a half, Nicky never did leave Debbie. Not until last Friday.
Nicky and Sadie had been in the cage space at PetSmart for just over two weeks. They had started out in separate cages, one on top, the other on bottom. But they both seemed so depressed without each other that a volunteer, cleaning the adoption center, put them back together in one cage. They were quite content after that.
On Thursday, October 15, the volunteer who was doing the weekly evening cleaning in the adoption room, called to say that Nicky was breathing in short gasps. Debbie hurried to get him, thinking both he and Sadie were stressed from being at PetSmart and needed a break. She took Nicky home, gave him treats and some food, and he seemed to be breathing easier.
Getting up to check on him later in the night, Debbie discovered that her beautiful gray boy had finally gone to his forever home.
Debbie had an autopsy done on Nicky to see what caused such a young cat to die. It turns out Nicky had the equivalent of congestive heart failure. The left side of his heart was enlarged and was working as hard as it could, but it could not keep up and fluid filled Nicky’s lungs. Our Nicky’s heart was just too big for his little body, was working too hard.
I thought about why such a beautiful, happy, and sweet cat never got adopted, why he kept waiting and waiting for someone to take him home. I think I know the reason. Czar Nicholas didn’t want to leave Debbie.
He had found his home.
Kristin, one of our volunteers and cat rescuer extraordinaire, took it upon herself to go looking for Miss Lydia this evening. She was planning to hang up posters to help locate Lydia, but instead found her.
She didn’t have to look far. Lydia was next door to the building she had escaped from. Using tuna as bait and an empty cat carrier, Kristin was able to catch Lydia, who was so frightened after being outside for three weeks that she was unsure about befriending any stranger.
Lydia is now safely inside–a bit thinner, a bit dirtier, and starving (she ate as much food as Kristin would let her have), but alive and back in our care.
And once again, I am crying, but for good reasons.
I figured I would need some help to find Lydia and I just want to thank Kristin for going above and beyond to rescue our little girl. As one of our other volunteers told me, she had faith that we would rescue Lydia for a second time. And thanks to Kristin, we did.
I had a really rotten day today. But I am thinking good thoughts that it will get better with the help of other people doing what I cannot do.
On October 1, one of our former adopters called to tell me that Lydia, or Lilly, as the family now called her, had slipped out the door when friends came over to visit. He wanted to know what to do as Lydia was wearing “soft paws” and had no way to defend herself. Additionally, he had no idea where to look for her since they had just recently moved into the apartment.
I told him to contact neighbors, to post signs with her photo on it, to call Capital Area Humane Society with her information so they would know someone was looking for her. I also told him to post for Lydia on the web site Pets911 (www.pets911.com), which allows people to post for lost and found pets. Since Lydia was microchipped by our group, I also told him that if anyone found her and took her to a shelter, they would scan for that.
I had not heard anything from the man and assumed that he had found Lydia and just forgot to call and tell me. Then yesterday, I went on Pets911 myself and saw that the listing for Lydia was still on there, so I called him.
No, he had not found Lydia.
But, he told me, a neighbor thought they had seen her out by the dumpster behind the apartments.
Poor Lydia came, with her three other siblings, from a rotten neighborhood in downtown Columbus, where people threatened to feed her and the other kittens to a resident vicious dog. And now, she was once more loose and scared in a downtown Columbus neighborhood near campus with the weather growing cold, no food, and soft paws on her nails.
I had to hold back tears.
Lydia and her siblings were my fosters. Lydia and her brother, Freddy, lived in my bathroom while they took medicine for campylobacter. They used to greet me at the door and would scamper out to harass my cats.
When Lydia first came to us, she was very timid and hid behind the toilet most of the time. I have a photo of her peeking out at me from the toilet, cautious, but hopeful that maybe everything was going to be better now.
I promised Lydia that she would never, ever have to worry again. That she would always be safe.
With some work, Lydia became a sweet, love bug, but she still reverted to shyness in new and scary situations. I can only imagine how scared she must be now and how she must be hiding and wondering what has happened.
All of the books I have read about missing cats say that they, unlike dogs, do not travel far. They usually hunker down and hide close to where they escaped.
Knowing this, I decided to go over to the apartment complex today with a humane trap and try to find my missing girl. I showed the man how to set the trap and then I stayed for over an hour, driving around, watching the trap, searching for her little face among the weeds. And crying.
But I had to leave without her.
Then the man called to tell me that someone stole the trap.
How were we going to find Lydia without the trap?
Later in the afternoon, I had another call. The apartment complex management had found the trap. They thought I had been trespassing on the property, so they confiscated it. With another phone call, I explained the situation, and they said I could have the trap back.
That still leaves me without Lydia, however, and no way to find her as they do not want me to set the trap on their property.
So I need everyone’s help reading this. If you know anyone who lives near University Village in the 500 block of Stinchcomb Drive off of Olentangy River Road near the Ohio State University campus, please send them the link to this blog or to the Pets911 link that I have listed below. Have them read about Lydia and be on the look out for her.
She is a petite calico/brown and white female cat who becomes shy when scared. She is microchipped and spayed. She was wearing soft paws on her nails. She is only a little over a year old.
If you see her or even think it might be her, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I promised Lydia she would always be safe on my watch, that after coming into our organization, she would never be scared or lost again. I need to keep that promise.
Here is the Pets911 listing for anyone who would like more info:
Just this past week, we had updates from both families who adopted Milton and Constantine. Both boys are doing well in their new homes. As you can see, Constantine is being pampered and spoiled by his new mom.
Milton on the other hand is making friends with everyone he meets. Cats. People.
Even dogs. Although, it looks as if he is telling the dog how things are going to be now that he is in the house.