Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Jackal's Life

Ancient Egyptians believed they were gods of the underworld, and that their evening yips and yowls were the haunting songs of the dead. Modern cultures dismissed them as cold-hearted and calculated killers, the vicious thugs of the animal world.
But as NATURE’s Jackals of the African Crater shows, the dog-like jackal lives a far more complicated — and challenging — life than many once believed. Indeed, jackals need all the creativity and cunning they can muster to survive on the rolling grasslands and marshes of Africa’s Ngorongoro Crater, where three species of jackal — golden, black-backed, and side-striped — struggle to raise families and find food.

Jackals of the African Crater documents the dramatic, and sometimes heartrending, stories of these jackal families. One pair of black-backed parents struggles to feed its pups in the midst of a dry season, only to lose their nearly grown offspring to a hungry golden jackal. A pair of side-stripes are luckier: their marsh-side home provides plenty of food, from insects and plants to the scavenged leftovers from kills made by lions and cheetahs. The program also highlights the jackal’s own hunting abilities, from taking down young wildebeest to headlong rushes that capture wading flamingos that have ventured too close to shore.

Jackals, which are related to domestic dogs and wild wolves, are found in many parts of Africa, southeastern Europe, and southern Asia. And while they may be known for their taste for meat, Jackals of the African Craterillustrates what researchers have known for years: the animals also get a large share of their diet from plants and insects. Some studies of golden jackals, for instance, found that nearly half of their meals consisted of plants, and that they will eat everything from eggs and frogs to grasshoppers and snakes. “They have to be very flexible in their tastes, able to shift to whatever is available at the time,” says Javier Sorgena, a wildlife photographer who has captured the animals on film. “Plus, they have to develop all kinds of specialized hunting skills — pouncing on a gazelle is a lot different than batting down a grasshopper or harvesting a mushroom.”

Researchers have also documented that jackals, unlike most mammals, mate for life, which can last 10-12 years in the wild. They raise their young (an average litter has five pups) in carefully dug burrows. The babies are born blind, but are usually ready to care for themselves after four months, and will stay with the family until they are 18 months old. As parents, however, jackals can get some help that is a little unusual. Often, grown offspring will remain with a mating pair as helpers, assisting the family in many ways.

They stand watch outside the den, issuing “rumble growls” and “predator barks” that warn the pups to take shelter. The helpers also bring food to the pups and nursing mothers, increasing the odds that both parents and offspring will survive the rigors of childrearing.
Cooperation isn’t limited to family life, however. When it comes to hunting, jackals also work together. Several pairs, for instance, may take turns tiring out and dragging down a gazelle. And many jackals may band together to scare a cheetah away from its kill, so they can feed on the scraps.

To coordinate such activities, jackals have a large vocabulary of calls that they use to communicate. Yips, growls, hisses, and howls all have a place in the jackal language, each sound designed to warn away strangers or welcome friends. Jackals also have remarkably expressive body language, using everything from a submissive “heads down” posture to athletic body slams to communicate their place in the pack. “A lot of their behavior is like [that of] domestic dogs,” says Sorgena. “You can know when they are content or angry just by looking at them. Jackals are much more expressive than you might expect.” And, he adds, “Much less sinister and more interesting, too.”

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Capybara Is Your Peculiar Pets

The capybara is the largest rodent in the world, and is found inhabiting the water-logged regions of South America. Despite its large size, the capybara is in fact very closely related to other South American rodents including chinchillas and guinea pigs. The capybara is a heavy, stocky-looking animal, which grows to more than a meter in length. The capybara also has a short head in comparison to its body, and has no tail at all.

The capybara is a semi-aquatic animal that is found inhabiting marshes and wetlands throughout the South American jungle. The capybara spends much of the hot daytime hours submerged in the cooler water and the capybara has a number of useful adaptations which help it to survive more effectively in its watery world. The capybara has slightly webbed feet which help to give the capybara more stability when it is moving around on the slippery river banks, and prevents the capybara from sinking too deeply into the mud when the capybara is in the water. The eyes, ears and nose of the capybara are also situated on the top of the capybara's head, enabling the body of the capybara to be fully submerged whilst the capybara can still hear, see and smell.

The capybara looks a bit like the enormous African hippo, and behaves in a very similar way to one, as the capybara spends the hot days in the water, venturing out onto dry land in search of food under the cover of night. The capybara is a herbivorous animal and therefore only eats plants in order to acquire all of the nutrients it needs. The diet of the capybara is mainly made up of grasses and aquatic plants, along with fruits and berries and the occasional munch on tree bark.

The relatively large size and slow nature of the capybara, mean that the capybara is often a rewarding meal for hungry predators. Wildcats including jaguars,pumas and ocelots are the primary predators of the capybara along with caimans and eagles that hunt the younger ones. The capybara is also one of the best sources of food for the world's heaviest snake, the anaconda. The capybara breeds at different times of the year, depending on the region which it inhabits. Most capybara breed once a year, when a litter of four baby capybaras are born after a gestation period of around 5 months. The baby capybara are able to walk within hours of birth and remain with the mother capybara until they are a few months old.

The capybara lives in a group with between 10 and 30 other capybara individuals. The capybara remain in their large groups for safety and capybara groups have been known to contain up to 100 capybara individuals.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black Mamba Is One Of The Deadliest Snakes In The World

Throughout the world, it is estimated there are a minimum of 1 to 2 million annual snakebite “incidences”. This number includes bites by non-venomous species. Of that number, roughly 50,000 to 100,000 bites result in fatalities worldwide. People often create lists based on the toxicity of snake venoms but generally do not to take into account other factors like clinical ability to treat, or inability to treat.

Among these ,let's talk about the Black Mamba.It is found throughout most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and is incredibly fast, traveling at speeds of up to 12 miles per hour. It’s also large; the second largest snake in Africa, averaging 8.2′ (2.5m) and getting as long as 14′ (4.5m). The Black Mamba is aggressive and territorial, characteristics not usually attributed to snakes. This snake is usually found in an olive green color – it’s the inside of its mouth that is black!
African villagers and experts alike fear the intense pain and suffering the mamba inflicts on its victims. Its poison is neuro-toxic. Unlike most poisonous snakes where the venom travels slowly through the blood stream, allowing a victim time to get treatment and to isolate the poison using a tourniquet, the black mamba’s poison goes straight for the nerves, attacking the central nervous system and shutting down major organs. Twenty minutes after being bitten you may lose the ability to talk. After one hour you’re probably comatose, and by six hours, without an antidote, you are dead.

When feeling very threatened, the Black Mamba usually delivers multiple strikes, injecting its potent neuro- and cardiotoxin with each strike, often attacking the body or head, unlike most other snakes. It can strike up to 12 times in a row. A single bite from a Black Mamba can inject enough venom to kill up to 10-25 grown men, easily killing one unless the appropriate anti-venom is administered in time. When cornered, it will readily attack. When in the striking position, the mamba flattens its neck, hisses very loudly and displays its inky black mouth and fangs. It can rear up around one-third of its body from the ground, which allows it to reach heights of approximately four feet.

In the past, the mortality rate for a Black Mamba bite was nearly 100%, the highest among venomous snakes. Now, because of the development of effective antivenin in Africa, the rate has been decreased to 75% (25% of bite victims now receive antivenin in time to be effective). Depending on the nature of a bite, death can result in as little as 30 minutes or it may take up to 120-180 minutes.

Friday, November 18, 2011

American Crow Photoes

From tail to beak the American Crow appears totally black. In the right light, however, a green or bluish tinge suddenly makes a showing. Males and females look similar.

A proud American Crow.
There was a small spill of grain at the Feed Mill. This attracted a group of crows, who were eager to gobble it up. There was a fair amount of vehicles and people in the area, so it was a case of swoop in, grab some grain and scatter!
Here's another one legger! Standing on the edge of the pier no less.
The Crows and Gulls have learned that if you find a Clam, like this one, and if you fly along the pier and drop it, the clam will shatter. So this is what they do. They then swoop down and gobble up the clam.
This is all done while the pier is busy with people walking. I wonder if anyone ever gets conked by the clam!
"love Birds" Crow style.
He/She was looking intently in He/Shes eyes, and they strolled down the beach hand in hand. Well, you know the rest.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Big-Cat Numbers Spotted in Bolivia

A jaguar paces in front of a camera trap in the rain forests of Bolivia—1 of a record 19 individuals spotted in a recent survey of the country's Madidi National Park.

Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) set up the camera traps to try and identify jaguars based on the unique patterns of their spots. Once the images were collected, the team ran them through software originally designed to recognize tigers by their stripes.

Unlike many other cats, jaguars are good swimmers and will often enter rivers to hunt for prey such as fish, turtles, or alligator-like caimans. (Take a big cats quiz.)

During the recent survey in Bolivia, the elusive big cats were photographed a record 975 times.
The 19 jaguars found by the project represent a record number for a single camera-trap survey in the country. (Related pictures: "Seven Cat Species Found in One Forest-A Record.")

"The preliminary results of this new expedition underscore the importance of the Madidi landscape to jaguars and other charismatic rain forest species," Julie Kunen, director of WCS's Latin America and Caribbean Program, said in a statement.

"Understanding the densities and ranging habits of jaguars is an important step in formulating effective management plans for what is arguably the most biodiverse landscape on the planet."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lovely Crittercam

National Geographic's Crittercam is a research tool designed to be worn by wild animals. It combines video and audio recording with collection of environmental data such as depth, temperature, and acceleration.

These compact systems allow scientists to study animal behavior without interference by a human observer. Combining solid data with gripping imagery, Crittercam brings the animal's point of view to the scientific community and a conservation message to worldwide audiences.
For more than a decade Crittercam has given us insight into the lives of whales, sharks, seals and sea lions, sea turtles, penguins, manatees, and other marine animals. In 2002 the first prototype of a terrestrial Crittercam (designed for land animals) survived its maiden voyage on a wild African lion, opening the door to a whole new world of animal-borne imaging research.
More than two decades later Greg heads the Remote Imaging Program at National Geographic. Collaborating with scientists worldwide, Greg and his team have deployed Crittercam on hundreds of animals to help investigate biological mysteries.
With Frank Parrish of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, they've plunged to new depths to define the foraging habitats of the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal. With physiologist Paul Ponganis and marine biologist Gerry Kooyman of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, they've dived beneath the Antarctic ice to hunt with emperor penguins.
With Mike Heithaus the team has tackled the puzzle of how the tiger shark influences its community. They've cut through the murky waters of Southeast Alaska to reveal humpback whales' trademark "bubble net" feeding tactic with biologist Fred Sharpe. The team has followed New Zealand sea lions to their foraging grounds with biologist Nick Gales. And they've stalked the ice with a leopard seal with mammalogist Tracey Rogers.
As part of an early 2003 National Geographic collaboration with biologist Laurence Frank, Crittercam roamed the African night on the back of a hunting lion. In summer 2003 it accompanied a grizzly bear into the thick of Alaska's temperate rain forest on a project with biologist LaVern Beier.
Each of these projects was driven by science—by a need to answer a research question that could not be addressed any other way. Today we are experiencing life from the animal's point of view, thanks to Crittercam.
The Crittercam story is just beginning. In the Remote Imaging laboratory at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., Greg and his engineering team are constantly working to make Crittercam smaller, lighter, and more hydrodynamic.
The smaller the systems, the more species that can be studied with Crittercam. The more powerful the instrument, the more information it can gather to give context to the images. The more refined the attachment methods—suction cup, harness, fin clamp, safe adhesive—the better the chances of deploying and recovering Crittercam.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Exercise Tips For Indoor Cats

Your indoor kitty has put on some pounds and you know he needs to get some exercise, but you can’t exactly strap a sweatband on your feline and put him on the treadmill. So, how do you work out an indoor cat?

We talked to several experts to get the scoop on six ways to get your furry indoor friend moving and burning off those extra pounds.
New treats
If you're committing to a healthier lifestyle for your cat, it probably means you're spoiling him less with food treats; that can leave a lot of pet owners feeling guilty about neglecting their pet. But, just because you want your cat to slim down doesn't mean you can give him any special treats. Buy fun toys instead of food treats. Focus on items that will really get your cat moving, like a stringed feather on a pole that your cat will never get tired of swatting at.
Laser pointer
Dr Justine Lee, veterinary specialist and author of It's a Dog's Life... but It's Your Carpet and It's a Cat's World... You Just Live in It recommends getting a laser pointer to use with your cat. The bouncing light will get even the most sessile of felines up to paw at it.
Vertical space
Make sure there are safe vertical spaces in your home for your cat to jump on, Jean Hofve, DVM, holistic veterinarian and author of The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care: An Illustrated Handbook suggests. This could be a window sill, set of empty shelves or a cat tree. This way, even when you're not home to play with your kitty, he still has an opportunity to burn some energy by jumping.
Water and food work-out
Exercise TipsFor Indoor Cats
If you've got a super lazy cat that does nothing but eat, make that work for you, Lindsay Stordahl, owner of Run That Mutt and blogger at suggests. Separate his water and food so that simply moving from one to another burns some calories. Keeping the food and water bowls on different floors would be ideal.
Food move
This tactic from Dr Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention and author of Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs are Getting Fatter, plays on the same idea as the above, but involves you, the pet owner, a bit more. Move your cat's food during feeding time from a counter to the floor and back again, forcing your feline to jump around during eating. Make it a game for your cat with lots of snuggling rewards when he makes the jump.
Cheap non-toys
Dr Lee also recommends opening your eyes to non-toys that your pet loves and using those to get his heart pumping. Her cats like to play with paper, boxes and bags. Leave these items around the house in high places where your cat can safely jump to amp the play time into work-out time.
There you go, six ways to get your indoor cat moving, shaking and shimmying back down to a purr-fectly healthy weight.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fired From a Shelter After Photographing the Animals

  Photography was not part of Emily Tanen’s job description at the Manhattan branch of Animal Care and Control of New York City. But soon after she started working there in August 2009, she began taking photos of animals who were scheduled to be euthanized.
Her photos, she said, were an effort to attract the interest of adopters and rescue groups.
She mostly photographed pit bulls: Freckles, black with pink skin around her eyes, wearing a striped scarf; Spot, a white puppy, getting his chest scratched; and Harlem, skinny and brindled, paws draped over a volunteer’s elbow.

But her photos violated the group’s strict policy on taking images of animals, which dictates who can take photos, how the animals can be photographed and how the images can be used. One rule prohibits showing humans in the photos.
As a result, Ms. Tanen said, she was fired in May.
“I knew they hated me,” she said. “But I thought that even if I was a pain, they’d suck it up. Because I was doing a really good job.”
Ms. Tanen said rescue groups often told her that her photos persuaded them to take animals they otherwise might not have. “I still remember Domino’s photo — the first pit bull we pulled from Manhattan,” said Jay Lombard, a founder of Dog Habitat Rescue in Brooklyn. “He was within 12 hours of being destroyed when Emily snapped a photo of him and attached it to an e-mail. That image hit me hard and I couldn’t turn away.”
Care and Control officials would not comment on Ms. Tanen’s departure, saying that they do not discuss personnel matters.
Ms. Tanen, 30, had previously worked at a no-kill shelter in Miami and operates her own small nonprofit rescue group. She was hired to be a liaison between Care and Control and the roughly 150 rescue groups that take animals from city shelters.
When she started working at Care and Control, Ms. Tanen said, she believed that the animals were photographed poorly and that the images failed to convey the warmth of a potential pet.
With her art background from her studies, Ms. Tanen decided she could do a better job with her $1,500 Nikon.
As at most city shelters, Care and Control’s charges arrive from the street, or are brought in by owners unwilling or unable to keep them. Others are abandoned or seized from abusive homes. The luckiest — the healthiest ones with the least significant behavioral issues — are deemed eligible for adoption. Some appeared on the group’s Web site.
“AC&C works hard to find loving and permanent homes to as many animals as possible each year,” said Richard Gentles, a spokesman for Care and Control.
Of the nearly 31,500 animals, mostly cats and dogs, taken in by Animal Care and Control between September 2010 and last month, 65 percent were adopted and 25 percent were euthanized, according to data from the group’s Web site. (Many of the rest were returned to their owners.)

Mr. Gentles said the group does devote time and care to the photographs.
“We have a strong volunteer group that does a great job taking photos and writing bios for the animals every day,” he said.
The images of animals being put up for adoption also appear on another Web site, “Animal Care and Control of New York City has always been proactive about posting pet photos and descriptions online in order to give each adoptable pet his best chance at finding an adoptive home,’’ said Kim Saunders, vice president of shelter outreach at “This is a monumental task for an organization handling such a large number of pets. We applaud their efforts, including the use of brightly colored photo backgrounds designed to make the pets’ photos ‘pop’ for viewers.”
But some critics believe that the group has not focused on the quality of the photos, which they say can mean the difference between life and death for certain animals.
Esther Koslow, a former volunteer at Care and Control and a founder of Shelter Reform Action Committee, a coalition of animal advocates that has been critical of Care and Control, said she left the group because she believed animals were not presented to the public quickly or well enough.
“Time is of the essence,’’ Ms. Koslow said. “The ones who are able to maybe make it out need to be presented to the world in the best way possible. A good bio and photo that goes out can save an animal. But there are usually maybe three part-time volunteers taking photos in the whole city.”
Although Animal Care and Control has managed to reduce its euthanasia rate, critics say too many animals are still dying in the group’s care.
“Animals are often euthanized for kennel cough, which is treatable for like 10 bucks, and most of them get kennel cough right away,” explained Rachel Hirschfeld, a founder of the New York County Lawyers Association’s Animal Law Committee. She said that animals were euthanized for treatable problems because the facilities are overcrowded, underfinanced and pressed to create vacancies for new animals.
Mark Ross, a former professional architecture photographer, started volunteering at Care and Control’s Manhattan facility in 2008. He posted his photos on a Facebook page.
“I heard all the time: ‘Your photo was the deciding factor for me. I saw that cat and I had to have it,’” he said. “I was trying to create images that showed loneliness and despair. I wanted people to see that these are lovely, living beings.” The standard intake pictures “make them look like inmates,” he said.
Last November, Mr. Ross, 66, left his volunteer post after a change in volunteer policy stipulating that Care and Control would own all photos he had taken and any future ones. “They began disallowing photos to be used in any way without their permission,’’ he said. “I knew I was giving up on the animals, but I couldn’t put up with the humans.”
Ms. Tanen said she tried to comply with the rules, but sometimes felt her judgment trumped her superiors’. She continued to show people’s hands touching a dog, even after receiving a warning against doing so. “I think they just didn’t want photos of animals that they were about to kill looking cute and adoptable and happy with people, but they said it was because their research showed that photos with people didn’t encourage people to adopt,” she said.
Ms. Tanen said that she was encouraged to stop taking photos altogether. “My boss at the time was like, ‘You don’t have do that; it’s not part of your job,’” she said. “They told me it was a waste of time.”

Saturday, November 5, 2011

New Beginnings Animal Rescue Plans Pet Adoption Event

  The meet-and-greet will be held Saturday at the Berkley Community Center and include cuddly kittens, crafts for kids, T-shirt sales, educational information on responsible pet ownership and volunteer applications.
By Alissa Malerman
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November 2, 2011
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The New Beginnings Animal Rescue shelter is bringing adoptable cats to the Berkley Community Center on Saturday, along with crafts for kids to get their paws on, T-shirts to purr-chase and much more.
The meet-and-greet and adoption event is free to the public and will be held from noon to 4 p.m. It will include educational information on responsible pet ownership and volunteer applications.
"We have about 14 (cats) coming, from kittens to seniors," New Beginnings president Lisa Hill wrote in an e-mail. "They are all fixed and up-to-date on shots."
New Beginnings Animal Rescue was formed Nov. 9, 2010, to provide temporary homes for homeless animals in Oakland County. The group works to place animals into loving homes and provides supplies to those in need.
In August, the Berkley City Council approved a special land-use request allowing the group to establish a shelter at 3060 11 Mile Road. However, according to a comment on Berkley Patch by volunteer Jennifer Fritz, the building's seller went with another offer.
"We are looking again for another building that will suit our needs in Berkley," Fritz wrote.
The shelter would have provided space for adoptable cats and dogs, as well as supplies for the nonprofit organization's Pet Food Pantry program, which assists owners who otherwise may have to surrender their animals. The group is volunteer-based and supported by donations.
New Beginnings Animal Rescue has a fourfold mission, Hill said:
To take in animals surrendered by their former owners.
To place pets into caring homes.
To administer the Pet Food Pantry program, which collects, warehouses and distributes food for animals whose owners no longer can afford it. The program began in December and already has helped hundreds of people and pets, Hill said, adding that Berkley receives the third-most assistance of all the southeast Oakland County communities the program serves. "There's no better place for an animal" than with its family, Hill said.
To provide free educational programs for the community.
Anyone in need of help from the pantry is asked to call 248-755-1923 and leave a clear voicemail containing the reason for calling, first and last name, and phone number.
New Beginnings Animal Rescue is a nonprofit, no-kill rescue serving southern Oakland County. All gifts are tax deductible.
Update: New Beginnings Animal Rescue still is looking for space to open a shelter in Berkley. The nonprofit received a special-land use permit for a shelter on 11 Mile Road, but the building's seller went with another offer.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Life, death and what's new in the animal shelter

That evil government workman (it was never a woman in those days) in the scary looking truck full of cages, looking for stray dogs to put in doggie jail. Once at the Dog Pound, you paid a ransom to get your precious pup back. As a kid, we got our dog from a litter of puppies in front of the grocery store and I didn’t know the word “euthanasia.”
Today’s reality is much different.
Recently, I sat down for a chat with Melanie Sobel, the new director of Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter (Santa Cruz and Watsonvlle). Originally from Chicago (with stops in Texas and Milwaukee), Melanie came to Santa Cruz about a year ago to escape cold, snowy winters. Except for the accent that creeps in (Mil-WAH-kee), you’d think she had lived here for years—a woman comfortable in her own skin and the Santa Cruz environment.
“I love it here. It isn’t just the weather,” Melanie explains. “It’s this part of California, and in particular this county, is so socially conscious… the environmentalism, the social activism.” Hmmmm… maybe she’s not just another bureaucrat?
Melanie’s office walls are covered in pictures of her dogs, past and present. Her dogs, all large, German Shepherd mix mutts, have names like Floyd (Pretty Boy Floyd) and Stella.
Her favorite place to walk dogs is near Land of the Medicine Buddha. She drinks her coffee from a “Keep Austin Weird” mug and she likes to shop local. Her name, surprisingly, shows up on IMDB for the film “Benji: Off the Leash!” because one of her Chicago shelter dogs was a runner up for the part of Benji (probably due to her aggressive efforts for animal adoption).
She received her Masters in Public Service Administration from DePaul University in Chicago and has a history of creating progressive programs that are beneficial for a community’s animals in the long run.
Even though the county shelter system has had a rough time for the last five years, Melanie found that the shelter staff is unbelievably good, self-sufficient and has compassionate dedication.
Her longterm goals are to provide effective leadership and get the shelter’s name out in the community so people understand who SCCAS is and that they are not the SPCA (as they were years ago). She wants you to know about all their great programs, the volunteer opportunities, and what an important part the SCC Animal Shelter plays in our community.
Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter is a “joint powers authority” which means the shelter is its own entity and acts like a vendor to the county and surrounding cities. It provides services that include licensing, 24-hour animal rescue, shelter services for lost and homeless pets, humane education for schools and much more.
The county and each city pay according to their population. SCCAS has its own budget and its own board of directors including a rep from each city. Donations and bequests are tax deductible and soon you will be able to donate to the specific program you choose.
Melanie has made changes, lots of changes. She changed the name (and the logo) to Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter (instead of Services) to help change people’s perception and reflect their commitment to the animals. She has been aggressive in her efforts on behalf of the animals and brings so much compassion to this bureaucratic position that she has inspired a fierce loyalty from her staff and the volunteers.
Melanie started new low-cost spay/neuter programs “Planned Pethood” and “Fix-a-Pit” ($50 fee for all Pit Bulls). Working with FOWAS, FOSCCA and Project Purr, vouchers for free spay/neuter were offered in February. At the “Watsonville Healthy Dog Fair” in May, over 350 dogs received free microchips, and free vaccinations for rabies, distemper, and parvo. Forty-one dogs received $20 vouchers for spay and neuter services.
There have been creative adoption events, such as the Valentine’s Day “Meet Your Match”, at which 24 animals were adopted and 40 pets got rabies vaccinations or microchips. In July, she teamed up with the Animal Shelter Relief and Project Purr and they hosted “Meow Luau," an event that helped 53 animals find new homes. She has expanded “Pet of the Week” to more papers, TV and radio stations.
SCCAS has a new website (designed and produced pro bono), has put licensing online, and a web-based program to manage the 900+ volunteers. There is also a daily email that auto-sends to more than 50 animal welfare placement agencies about shelter animals that would be good candidates for rescue.
Melanie’s least favorite parts of the business are dangerous dogs and euthanizing. She stresses the point that she chooses to work in an “open door” or “open admissions” shelter because she feels that is the best way to serve the neediest animals in the community. “We are the safety net for these animals. I want to make sure the animals in our care are taken care of in the best best possible way.”
“Open door” means the shelter will take in any animal, unlike some other rescue organizations. It also means euthanasia is in the equation.
“We’re the ones that have to do the dirty work and decide who lives and who dies.” Melanie says. “There are just not enough resources to help every animal, not when we have perfectly adoptable animals sitting in our shelters, let alone ones that need rehab.”
The decision to euthanize is not simple, there are so many factors. Does the shelter have space? What condition is the animal in? What is the temperament of the animal?
Is it kenneling well (some animals go nuts in a kennel)? What resources are available? Are there foster homes? What happens to the animals already in the shelter when they receive a bunch of animals from a hoarder or abuser?
They never know what is going to come in and they have to be ready at a moment’s notice. A couple of weeks ago, 14 Chihuahuas of all ages came in from one breeder. What do you do when the shelter is already full?
“There’s a big no-kill movement that stirs people up, it’s emotions and people get upset at euthanasia, but it’s painting good guys and bad guys, and it’s divisive.”
Personally, I see no reason to blame the shelter for having to euthanize. It would be like me blaming the garbage man because I overfilled my trash can. It is our failure as a community that makes euthanasia necessary. If we all spayed/neutered, got our pets from a shelter or rescue group (instead of a breeder), and took our responsibility towards animals seriously, I doubt there would be any need for euthanasia.
Don’t like euthanasia? Here’s what you can do to be part of the solution:
Spay or neuter. Besides cutting down on the pet population, it helps your pet live a longer, healthier life.
Adopt pets from the shelter or a rescue group. No matter what breed you are looking for, there is already an animal looking for a home. Check out, type in the type and breed of animal you want, and see all the choices.
Consider adopting an older animal. Puppies can be a lot of work and older dogs may already be trained.
Be sure you are ready to commit to the responsibility for this animal for the rest of its life – not just while it is convenient for you.
Know the breed before you adopt – not all breeds are the same and you need to choose an animal that fits in with your lifestyle.
I want to thank Melanie Sobel for being so generous with her time for this interview/article. Through our conversation, it became obvious that the “dog catcher” has changed over the years—a change for the better. Gone is the government bureaucrat, today’s successful shelters are run by animal activists.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ohio survivors did not get the widow of exotic pets

The six surviving exotic animals freed by their suicidal owner in Ohio will be kept under quarantine at a zoo for now instead of going to the man's widow, the state Agriculture Department ordered Thursday.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was trying to stop Marian Thompson from reclaiming three leopards, two primates and a young grizzly bear that have been cared for by the zoo since last week, when Terry Thompson mysteriously set them free in a rural area of eastern Ohio.
The zoo said it took the six surviving animals with Marian Thompson's permission but has no legal rights to them. A private veterinarian for the Agriculture Department looked at the animals and determined they needed to remain separated from the other animals, said Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Gov. John Kasich.
The Agriculture Department said it was concerned about reports that the animals had lived in unsanitary conditions where they could be exposed to disease, and the order provides a chance to investigate their health. It prevents the zoo from releasing them until it's clear they're disease-free.
It appeared Thompson had planned to take them back to the farm near Zanesville, department spokesman Andy Ware said.
Thompson and her lawyer were informed of the order when they arrived at the zoo with a big truck on Thursday afternoon. The order is indefinite, but Thompson is entitled to a hearing within 30 days if she wants to appeal. Her attorney was traveling with her and could not be reached for comment.