One of the reasons people give for leaving their pets at animal shelters or surrendering them to rescue groups is “I’m moving” or “My landlord won’t let me have a pet.” Being separated from one’s animal is heartbreaking, both pet and owner grieve. I’ve volunteered and worked with enough animal rescue and shelter organizations to know how such separation impacts people and animals.
I was recently approached by a fellow pet-lover and writer about contributing to my blog regarding this subject. She’s written a piece about pet-friendly housing, and I agreed to link to her article.
As March dawns and spring draws ever closer, many people consider moving. Therefore, this is a good time to remind those who rent that it’s important to find out as much in advance as possible if the landlord allows pets. If the new place you’re considering is NOT pet-friendly and you have pets, re-consider moving there; search for pet-friendly accommodations. In some areas, you may find buying your own small place a wiser move, both financially and pet-wise. If purchasing your own place is not an option, consider your renting options.
Read this article written by Rebekah May regarding pet-friendly housing and options you may have as a pet parent. The article begins with these thoughts:
Not only is moving a stressful situation, owning pets only serves to compound the hassle. Pet friendly rentals are increasingly harder to come by for pet owners.
Visit this site to read the remainder of her article:
February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month and the last day of the month is considered World Spay Day. Every year millions of dogs and cats, puppies, and kittens go into animal shelters, and sadly, a lot of them die in those shelters. If more companion animals were spayed or neutered, the number of litters of puppies and kittens would decrease, and therefore, so, too, would the numbers of animals killed in shelters each year.
That is one reason to spay and neuter pets. There are several others.
Although a spay surgery can be expensive, especially for a large or extra-large female dog, there are opportunities to find low-cost spay-neuter clinics. The ASPCA provides a database of such low-cost clinics. Visit their webpage at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/low-cost-spayneuter-programs to find a clinic/program near you. The Humane Society of the United States can also assist you finding low-cost programs and clinics; visit that group’s website to learn more: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/tips/afford_spay_neuter.html?credit=web_id88387650.
If you live in Wyoming, as I do, you can visit the SpayWyoming page, a state-wide program of the Dog and Cat Shelter in Sheridan, Wyoming and an affiliate of SpayUSA. You might also visit the Care Credit website, a health-care credit card covering dental, chiropractic, veterinary, and other medical fields; the company often gives patients (or in this case the “pet parents” of patients) six to 12 months to pay off the account before charging interest (it’s a program my husband and I use for our veterinary bills).
The outlay for a spay or neuter might be spendy at first, especially if your area doesn’t have a low-cost spay/neuter program. However, the benefits of the surgery are many, including a healthier pet and not dealing with behavioral issues. But, a strong reason to spay and neuter is saving lives, not having to wonder how to find homes for litters of puppies and kittens and facing the reality that, if taken to an animal shelter, those animals may not get new homes, but instead, may die.
Please do your part as a responsible pet parent: spay/neuter your companion animal!
The Westminster Dog Show is underway this week, so it’s a good time to remember that you don’t have to go to a breeder to find great dogs; you can find purebred dogs, as well as mixed breeds, available for adoption through shelters and rescues.
Not all breeders are bad; in fact, those registered through the American Kennel Club (AKC) must meet high quality standards. However, the facts remain that millions of dogs are turned into rescues and shelters every year, and of the four million that go into shelters, more than one million don’t come out – meaning, they die. And breeding dogs add to the pet overpopulation problem, which adds to the number of dogs euthanized every year.
It’s estimated that between 5 and 25 percent of dogs placed in shelters are purebred. Recently at my community’s humane society a long-haired, tri-colored collie came in because its aging owner could no longer take care of it. And, last fall two shih tzus were brought into the kill-shelter in my town, which is operated by the city; both had been used as breeders – one was 12 years old and not spayed. So, although good breeders do exist, so do bad breeders. That doesn’t mean the dogs are bad, they are just not as well-cared for, and many of them end up in shelters and rescues. In fact, the mission of National Mill Dog Rescue (NMDR) is to bring into rescue those dogs which are used in what’s known as puppy mills – backyard breeders whose priority is profit and who often shove these creatures into tiny cages. Through NMDR, these adorable animals, from small Maltese to large German Shepherds, are socialized, loved on, given medical care, and made available for adoption.
Other rescue groups, such as Big Dogs Huge Paws that specialize in rescue and re-homing the larger dog breeds, such as Great Danes, Mastiffs, and Newfoundlands, and English Springer Rescue America, with chapters around the nation, take in specific breeds that need new homes. Even the AKC endorses breed-specific rescues – learn more at http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/rescue-network/contacts/.
If you’re thinking of adopting a dog and aren’t sure what breed is right for you, watching this week’s Westminster Dog Show is a great way to learn about the various breeds. You can also review breed traits, personalities, and behavior patterns by reading up on the different types of dogs at this website: http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/. One of the most responsible things a person can do before obtaining a dog, whether through adoption or purchasing from a breeder, is to learn what type of dog best fits your lifestyle and desires. Do your homework before bringing a dog home!
The most popular type of dog in America is the Labrador Retriever; it is also among the top five most common breeds found in animal shelters (or lab mixes); black labs are also among the least likely to be adopted because the coat color tends to blend in with the dark surroundings of many animal shelters. And though Labs are popular, not one has ever taken Best in Show at Westminster. Neither has the Golden Retriever, Dachshund, or Chihuahua, all of which are also very popular breeds. Perhaps one of those will win this year. Stay tuned!
Wondering where to catch the dog show of dog shows? Visit http://www.sportingnews.com/other-sports/news/westminster-dog-show-2017-tv-channel-schedule-online-stream-coverage/n9nwcw6efxf16ki6f5eeqk5g to learn which TV stations are carrying this special event.
And remember two important things the next time you’re looking for a specific dog breed as a companion: (1) do your research on dog breeds and (2) adopt, don’t shop! One of the best ways to find a certain breed of dog, in addition to the earlier-mentioned resources, is to go to Petfinder.com – you can search for a specific dog breed, even sex and age, that is available through a local, regional, or national rescue or shelter.
In 2012, I wrote the article found below for a local publication. I am posting it to my blog today in honor of Luis Carlos Montalvan, former Army captain, author, and advocate for American veterans, especially those suffering from PTSD. Luis died in December; I learned about his passing just last week.
I followed him on Facebook and several years ago, had the honor of meeting him in person. Luis had a service dog named Tuesday, who received the 2013 American Kennel Club ACE Award (Awards for Canine Excellence). The two visited my local library after the release of Luis’ book Until Tuesday. Their story is moving and I was honored to have met them in person and later to follow Luis (and Tuesday) on Facebook. In their honor, I post this article published November 2012 in Our Town Casper magazine:
I recently finished reading an incredible book, Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him. I was privileged to meet and briefly speak with author and former Army Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan. Listening to Captain Montalvan, witnessing his service dog, Tuesday, and then reading about them in Luis’ book, touched my heart and soul. I’ve met a few service dogs and their human partners in times past; coupled with Captain Montalvan’s recent presentation and reading about him and Tuesday in the book, I possess a deeper appreciation for the service that assistance animals provide – as well as a deeper understanding about the horrors of war and the affects upon our service men and women.
In light of Veteran’s Day and my encounters with Luis, Tuesday and their story, I spent a bit of time researching and learning about animal assistance programs for veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will pay for guide dogs for blind veterans, hearing dogs for the hearing impaired, and assistance dogs for veterans with other physical disabilities. However, the agency ruled in September that it would not pay for service dogs for veterans suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) – see link: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/06/13708645-va-wont-cover-costs-of-service-dogs-assigned-for-ptsd-treatment. Yet, it will provide (and prescribe) nearly any type of pharmaceutical drug for treating mental and emotional distress.
Scientific studies show people with pets are less prone to depression, are more active physically, and have lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Dogs, cats and other animals trained as therapy pets visit nursing homes and hospitals and help lessen anxiety among those with whom they spend time. Emotional support animals (ESA) are used with people who have an emotional disability, and can be prescribed by a licensed mental health provider (learn more at the National Service Animal Registry website: http://www.nsarco.com/emotionalsupportanimals.html).
Our wounded warriors can use such assistance. The Pentagon reported earlier this year that suicide among American active-duty military personnel rose to an average of one per day. Additionally, according to the Army Times in 2010, about 18 veterans each day committed suicide. It’s estimated that 30 to 40 percent of veterans suffer from PTSD. These are startling, and scary, statistics.
Capt. Montalvan suffers from PTSD as well as remnants from traumatic physical injuries to his brain and vertebrae from an incident in Iraq. He also experienced nightmares, sleeplessness, hypervigilance, and isolation, common threads in PTSD.
Although his condition improved after being partnered with Tuesday, his service dog, Montalvan will never be completely healed, either physically or emotionally. He relies on Tuesday to get through his days and his nights. Tuesday is trained to respond to Luis’ needs, the physical and the emotional. Tuesday provides Luis balance, steadying him on the bumpy, concrete sidewalks and helping him navigate stairs (Luis walks with a cane). Tuesday provides Luis balance emotionally as well, navigating the signals of anxiety as they walk through towns and travel on subways or airplanes.
Luis admits in his book, “I don’t look exactly like a typical disabled person with a service dog.” And for that, he, and numerous others, have been and are discriminated against. Service animals who are trained to perform tasks to help disabled people wear a vest, often with the words “service animal” or “working animal” on them; there are laws which allow such animals into places where most typical “pets” are not: restaurants and other public buildings, airplanes and public transportation, housing. However, Luis recounts numerous times the discrimination he encountered.
Although Emotional Service Animals are not always allowed in the same places as certified assistance animals, there are federally protected rights for these animals and their human partners, including flying on an airline not being allowed into “no pet policy” housing.
I am grateful those who need such physical or emotional service can and do receive that. Numerous others do not. May this Veteran’s Day be the eye-opener we need to recognize and honor those service men and women who have lost limbs, experienced traumatic brain injury and PTSD, or perhaps even suffer silently yet can greatly benefit from the devotion and care a service animal provides. Our wounded warriors deserve whatever medical treatment suits them best… and sometimes that’s lick in the face or a paw on the knee from a four-footed creature that adores (and sacrifices) for them.
If interested in learning more about Captain Montalvan and Tuesday, visit: http://until-tuesday.com/.
From the Blogger/Author: Although Luis has passed, an upcoming book will continue his and Tuesday’s legacy. Tuesday’s Promise is scheduled for release in May. Tuesday, now 10 years of age, is being cared for by the organization that brought them together: Educating Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD). If you are so inclined as I was, you can make a donation in Luis’ memory and Tuesday’s honor at this website: https://connect.clickandpledge.com/w/Form/9f980d6d-5bbf-4162-be1c-3821bc674d0f
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.