Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An awesome experience

Submitted by Angela Shields, EARS Field Team Leader (pictured at top)

This was my first deployment as a Field Team Leader for UAN, and actually going out to the field on seizure day was an experience that I'll never forget. The ASPCA team runs like a well-oiled machine and was amazing at orchestrating the removal of the survivors. The survivors thanked us EARS volunteers every day they were in our care. Dogs who had to be carried off the property because they were too scared or too weak to walk had a new lease on life after having clean sheets (cedar shavings), clean water and feedings three times a day.

Every deployment seems to have a few random species of animals, and this one was no exception. Snowman, the cat from the first seizure (pictured at right), became known as "The Dogfather" and lived in the lap of luxury at the temporary shelter. The volunteers made him a "condo" complete with with a kitty sling. He was very respectful as an intact male and only used his litterbox. I wish I could have brought him home, but I know he'll end up with a loving family. Chicklet the Chicken from the second seizure was The Dogfather's roommate, and there were rumors of the two playing chess after we left at night. Chicklet was placed with a lady who has about 10 other pet pullets.

It was difficult to leave this deployment and return home, as the job wasn't quite done, but my commitment was fulfilled and my body and mind were exhausted. What an awesome experience!

Photos this post courtesy ASPCA.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dogfighting: Cruelty, not sport

Submitted by Andy Bass, EARS South Florida State Coordinator

Their bodies may be broken, but their spirits are rock solid. I am surrounded by some of the sweetest dogs I have ever seen, and I have seen thousands in my years with EARS.

How anyone could allow one of these gracious and grateful creatures to be ripped apart for the thrill of "sport" is beyond me. The winner of this "sport" may get a bowl of food, that, if they have any teeth left after the fight, they gulp quickly. The loser, if still alive, gets dragged back to his cage and goes to the "dumping ground." Some sport, eh???

The sad part is even though we have brought them out of this hell, finding suitable homes for them will be a challenge to say the least. Last year, in the single largest dogfighting bust in U.S. history, more than 500 pit bulls were seized in six midwest states. And here are almost 40 more and it's only February.

True justice would be to charge dogfighters with lifetime care and feeding costs of these animals.

Real life challenges us to beat the bushes once again and pray for a miracle, or in this case, 37 miracles.

You can do your part by sharing this story with others. It's time to put an end to dogfighting once and for all. The Washington County Sheriff, the courts and the ASPCA will see to it the dogfighters get what they deserve. Help us help these noble creatures find the life every good dog deserves.

Monday, February 22, 2010

11 more fighting dogs brought to safety

Watch this news segment from WJBF Channel 6 to learn more about the second group of dogs rescued from a dogfighting ring in Georgia over the weekend.

Law enforcement officials say they received a tip about this situation from someone who had seen a segment on Channel 6 about the February 17 seizure of 26 dogs.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Changing at a moment's notice

Submitted by Janell Matthies, UAN Emergency Services Manager

At the EARS volunteer training workshop, one of the themes covered is how volunteers should be ready for anything: “Be ready for circumstances to change at a moment’s notice," “be flexible," “be prepared for anything.” Well, today was a perfect example of that concept in a real deployment.

We got to the shelter at 8 a.m. and began our usual morning duties. The dogs have quickly adjusted to their new schedule; everything was very Zen as we went about our day calmly and quietly.

Then a Sheriff’s officer walked in. Another dog fight, in progress, just down the road, and since you’re already here ... you can guess the rest. The volunteers quickly and efficiently helped the ASPCA staff gather what was needed and they set off with one of the UAN vet tech volunteers, Jasmine (pictured at right). From having learned the hard way, we knew we should probably be prepared, just in case. Our wonderful, calm schedule was quickly dumped and we went into work mode. Build more kennels, figure out what kind of equipment and hardware we still needed, where to get it (apparently all hardware stores close at noon on Saturdays), figure out how to keep these dogs separate from those from the first seizure, then figure out how to keep these dogs separate from each other... and boom! After working non-stop for eight hours, the volunteers had a perfect Emergency Shelter #2 set up.

The dogs came in. They were in better condition than the first group health-wise, but they had obvious recent fight wounds. They were quickly processed and fell asleep, curled up on their soft wood shaving beds. Whew!

As always, the volunteers just rolled with it, not a single complaint, never a feeling of panic or crisis. The job just got done. Lunch break came a bit late for us today (5 p.m.) and we’re pretty much done in, but at least we know these dogs will not have to fight another day. I’ve said it before, but today I felt it to an extreme level: It was a good day’s work.

Oh, and of course what deployment would be complete if we didn’t take in some sort of unexpected critter? More on Pecky Polly, the chicken with an eye injury, later.

Friday, February 19, 2010

One foot in front of the other

Submitted by Foot the Dog

Hello, my name is Foot. I was saved a couple of days ago by a bunch of people who came to the place I have been living for a really long time. My friends and I all lived outside attached to chains that were always getting tangled up and caught on the poles. It was pretty cold there and we didn’t get much food. My friend had a water bowl but he couldn’t reach it. It didn't matter much because the water was frozen anyway. We were hungry, thirsty and cold. We didn’t do a whole lot out there; we thought a dog's life was a big bummer. We had no idea what was coming.

Two days ago, some big trucks came. People in orange shirts and people in red shirts and people with badges came out and started talking to us. They brought really big, scary tools with them to cut the chains off our necks and took us gently to the big trucks. They drove us to this warm building where more people looked at us from head to toe. They made everything that had been hurting us for so long stop hurting, cleaned us up and made us feel better. Then we got to go into big warm cages filled with really soft wood chips where we could snuggle up and sleep.

The best part was that we got shiny bowls with fresh, clean water in them ... and every time we took a drink, a nice person in a red shirt would come by and give us more water. It kept happening over and over! They even gave us food, and then we got to play with the food dishes. Some of my friends ate their food bowls, but I just licked mine clean without chewing it, just in case someone wanted to put more food in it.

As you can probably see from my picture, I have a hurt foot. A very nice lady with a badge has been coming to visit us for a while. She started calling me Foot and petted me a lot every time she came. I was the first one who got to see the people who made us feel better when we got to the warm place. They moved my leg around and looked at my foot a lot. It doesn’t hurt me anymore, but it used to make me cry out in pain. My bones were never broken, but I had some really bad stuff happen in the past that I don’t want to talk about yet. During that bad time, my foot got really hurt. I had to stay there, on my chain, and nobody paid any attention to me, even though it really, really hurt a lot.

I started to get used to it and eventually it stopped hurting so much. Now I walk funny, but I think it’s kind of cool. The pads on my feet have even started growing up to my ankle, so it doesn’t really hurt when I walk on it. I put my bad foot on top of my good foot when I’m sitting so my bones don’t get pressed against the hard ground. The problem is my nails get so long that sometimes they curl around and dig into the pads of my feet. Today, some nice ladies in red shirts took me to see a doctor, who looked at my foot some more. The doctor moved my foot around and then he gave me a manicure! Now my nails don’t hurt my foot anymore and I’m pretty comfortable.

I really like to go for walks with the nice people in red shirts every day. They play with all of my friends, even the ones who are scared of them. A lot of the nice people just sit with us in our little rooms with the soft wood chips and pet us. They scratch our itchy spots and tell us we’re good dogs. They also gave us toys to keep us from getting bored between meals and walks. Who knew life could be this good?

The sound of wagging tails

Submitted by Janell Matthies, UAN Emergency Services Manager

These dogs are so content in their kennels that the only sound is their tails hitting the side of the walls. They aren’t even barking or whining even though this must be a very confusing experience for them. We have a large empty "play room" in the back of the building where they can run and get some exercise -- a new experience to these pups who may have been on the end of a chain their entire lives. They aren’t quite sure how to walk on the linoleum floors, but once they get the hang of it they look like puppies, romping and playing.

Some of them are timid and prefer to be carried to the play room. The volunteers gently set them down and sit quietly, giving them comfort, and eventually the tail slowly untucks…they venture further and further away from the safety of the volunteers’ presence and begin to sniff around. After they start to get comfortable, some are even beginning to play with the many toys in the room, coming back to the volunteers often to get pats and give kisses.

The dogs' spirits are unbroken. They were left to barely survive in the cold, yet still see people as a "good thing" and want every bit of affection they can get. We are still discovering major health concerns and are trying to address them as quickly as possible, but the dogs' attitudes are very promising.

The volunteers, as always, are amazing. They put their entire lives on hold and travel long distances to help these poor victims of abuse and neglect. Without the volunteers, the dogs would not be able to get the care they are receiving now. We have seven EARS volunteers on-site today. They traveled from Virginia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia to be here. Now that is selfless dedication.

We’re still waiting for more news on the crminal case and for clearance to share more details. Until then, we will continue to love on, feed, clean and keep our new friends as comfortable as possible, a skill at which the UAN's Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteers always succeed.

Video and news coverage of the shelter

The local media has picked up the story of the dogs rescued from chains in Georgia.

View this video from Channel 6 WJBF:

And here are some other news articles:

These articles have public comment areas, so please leave a word of encouragement for the people who are helping the dogs, and the local law enforcement officials who are trying to eradicate animal abuse from their community.

Friday, February 12, 2010

UAN Assists in Rescue of 26 Chained Dogs in Georgia

UAN has deployed nine volunteers with its Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) to care for 26 alleged fighting and breeding dogs rescued from a property near Sandersville, Georgia. UAN expects to provide at least five EARS volunteers per day for the first 10 days of the emergency sheltering operation.

View the press release for more information.

Janell Matthies, Emergency Services Manager, took a brief moment amidst the first day rush to share her initial impressions of the response:

"The volunteers have been working tirelessly all day setting up the shelter and the dogs are settling in very nicely. Most are curling up in the soft woodchips and napping. It’s so very different to the cold, hard ground that they are used to. The younger ones are acting almost frisky, enjoying the freedom of movement without the short, heavy chains around their necks.

We’re seeing a lot of old wounds and untreated injuries. There will be substantial rehabilitation for many of these sweet dogs, but their appreciation is obvious. They are trying to get in our laps and jump up and give kisses while we are trying to get them settled in their new kennels. They aren’t barking, the only noise is their tails hitting the sides of their kennels.

These are some of the skinniest dogs I have seen. They are just bones covered with skin, but still as sweet as can be."

The situation is led by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Field Investigations and Response team under the authority of the Washington County Sheriff's Office. The groups are also assisted by a team from Sumter DART (Disaster Animal Response Team).

Photos this post courtesy ASPCA.

Monday, February 8, 2010

In Haiti, the hard work continues

The ARCH field team is hard at work in Haiti, treating animals via the mobile clinic. So far they have treated 54 sheep, 24 goats, 10 cows, 20 pigs, 188 dogs and 34 cats by providing antibiotics, vaccinations, flea baths and nutritional supplements.

In recent days, the team was admitted into the "tent cities" where earthquake refugees are taking shelter so they could continue vaccinating animals and providing field veterinary care. One ARCH field responser reported that, "The desperation of the people in these camps is heartbreaking. Nevertheless, they are bringing their animals to the team every day for aid and assistance, and they are appreciative of our efforts."

Photos courtesy WSPA/IFAW