Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Holidays from AARF

As 2010 comes to a close, I want to tell you about what we have been able to accomplish this year with your help.

We have been able to save so many pets who desperately needed our help. We were able to help Tiger Lily, a tiny puppy who had been abused and was in the DeKalb County shelter with two shattered front legs. We saved several families, including Bianca and her 6 kittens, Kira and her 4 kittens, Isabelle and her kittens, all from county animal control shelters, where none of them had a chance. We also saved Dolly and her 8 puppies, who were all living in an open field by the airport. As pit bulls, they faced an extremely uncertain fate without our help.

We lost a few members of our Silver Paws family this year, but added a new member, too. Casey had been with us for several years, and struggled bravely at the end of her life. With your help, we were able to extend her quality of life with swim therapy. Amelia, a 14-year old German Shepherd in our Silver Paws Program is growing old gracefully with the help of physical therapy and acupuncture. All of our Silver Paws pets and fosters are able to enjoy companionship that wouldn’t be possible without our program, and without you.

Our Casper’s Fund spay/neuter program continues to grow. This year, we helped over 400 of Atlanta’s pet owners spay and neuter their pets. We know from surveys from the participants that almost 75% of these pets would not have been fixed without our program. Casper’s Fund has prevented hundreds of homeless puppies and kittens from entering the rescue cycle. And most of those pets that were spayed and neutered through our program also got their vaccinations, so they will live healthier, longer lives as a result.

We have touched the lives of hundreds of future pet owners this year through our Kids N Kritters program. From our dog bite prevention workshops to our interactive sessions on teaching children how to pet a dog, we are reaching out to the next generation about compassion, empathy and humane pet ownership.

And perhaps the biggest news of the year is our new AARF Pet Central community pet center. After 8 ½ years of working for Atlanta’s homeless pets, we finally have a home to call our own. We closed on the purchase of our new center in October and are working on renovations now. AARF Pet Central will have an in-house cat adoption center, dog adoption events on the weekends, affordable training classes and seminars, humane education classes, quality pet products and more. We are creating a community pet center with the motto “Everything for pets. All in one place.” We hope that AARF Pet Central will not only help homeless pets find new homes, but help pets keep their homes, too!

AARF could not have accomplished so much this year without you. We are so grateful and so fortunate to have such an amazing family of supporters. I know many of you feel connected to AARF with such strong bonds. Maybe you adopted a dog or cat from AARF. Maybe one of our special needs pets touched your heart. Or maybe you have seen the faces in the cages at the shelters, and know how badly these 4-legged friends need our help. Whatever the reason, I am truly honored that you support our work and how we do it.

As we prepare for 2011, we need your help more than ever.

Although it may seem so far away now, puppy and kitten season begins in February. Hundreds of innocent, new lives will be dropped off at county shelters or abandoned in the streets. If we can open our cat adoption center in January, we will be able to help so many of the cats and kittens who would otherwise die in the shelters. If we can begin our weekend adoption events in January, AARF and the other groups who attend will open up spaces to save so many of the puppies who deserve a chance. And if we can build up our Casper’s Fund funding, we will be able to even prevent the numbers of homeless pets from growing even larger.

As you celebrate this holiday season and look toward a happy and joyous 2011, please remember how much we appreciate you. And how much we need you.

I am asking you today to dedicate just $1 a week for 2011 to help us continue our work on behalf of pets in Atlanta. If everyone who reads this letter and believes in what we do commits just $52 for the whole year, we can save hundreds more lives in 2011.

But if you don’t, and no one else does either, then who will? Please join us for 2011, where we continue to CREATE A WORLD WHERE EVERY PET MATTERS!

I wish you a wonderful holiday and a joyous new year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

25 Days of Hope

The holiday seasons of both Christmas and Hanukkah call us to be hopeful, to be renewed and to celebrate possibilities. The Christmas story tells of a new beginning for those that have been rejected, alienated and sometimes even tortured. And Hanukkah celebrates reclamation and dedication of the sacred.

My friend Rebecca Guinn, director of Lifeline Animal Project, describes the plight of homeless pets as the only time we round up and kill the victims. Regardless of your religious beliefs, there is no denying that we, as humans, have asserted dominion over the earth. We take the resources at will and use them almost exclusively for our own benefit. We expand our communities into every inhabitable space, eliminating any flora or fauna that seems to inhibit our "progress." We justify our actions as the right of "civilization."

Yet, I often wonder, how civilized are we? We are the only species that routinely catches, houses and then kills millions of other living creatures because we have allowed them to become overpopulated. We are the only species that ties up other living beings, organizes death fights with other species (and historically, with our own species) for our own entertainment, and deliberately abuses and tortures other living beings. How civilized are we really?

As a child, I loved Christmas. Of course, I loved the presents, the parties at school, the church Christmas plays, etc. But more than that, I loved the feeling of hope, renewal and possibilities. During the holiday season, things happened that would never happen at any other time of the year. My family members who had been arguing all year would put aside their grudges for the family Christmas dinner. The grumpy people in our rural neighborhood would actually smile and invite us in from playing in the snow. For the whole month of December, the anticipation of Christmas morning was exhilarating, not just because of the presents, but because of the thrill of the newness of it all. As a child, I didn't quite understand why it gave me hope, but now I realize that it's because it made me think that just maybe we were a community of kind, loving and welcoming people after all.

So, how does this relate to homeless pets? When I walk through one of our county shelters, I often see the same emotions that I remember as a child. I see the anticipation on the faces of many pets who still have hope that I might be the one. For the dog that stands at the front of the kennel, wagging excitedly as a I walk by, ready to join me on a walk, the hope of a new beginning is still alive. Or for the young kitten who meows and reaches out and grabs my shirt, the possibilities are still endless. But I also see the dogs and cats that have lost that hope. They cower in the back of the cages and runs. They rarely greet me at the front of the cage, and often won't even turn their heads to look at me.

For both of these, the still hopeful and the hopeless, the holiday season can be a new beginning. We owe it to them to invite them to our celebration of hope and renewal. If we exclude those who need a new beginning the most, we have missed the true meaning of the season.

I invite all of you to celebrate 25 days of hope this December. Beginning on December 1, and ending on Christmas Day, I challenge you to take one action every day that brings hope, renewal and reclamation for the 8 million pets a year that enter our nation's shelters, and even more so for the 4 million that never leave alive.

Not sure what to do? Visit our AARF Facebook page every day for ideas. Every day, I'll post one action you can take to create hope for the homeless pets who so desperately need it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Get Ready for 2011!

It's time to start thinking about 2011, which means you need a new calendar!

How about a calendar that supports AARF, shows your support of pit bulls and looks great! Through a generous donation from the Unexpected Pit Bull, we can offer a 2011 calendar for just a $20 donation (which includes shipping!). Buy one for yourself and one as a holiday gift.

100% of your donation after shipping costs will be used to support our foster and adoption program, including our pit bulls!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Easy Ways to Help

All non-profit organizations rely on their volunteers. Our missions are often overwhelming, and we often don't have enough staff (or in AARF's current situation, no staff at all). Volunteers are the foundation of what we do, and we need all of you.

But as a volunteer, what can you do? Here are some ideas --

Help in 15 minutes by:
- posting an adoptable pet on Facebook
- hanging an adoption day flyer on our office bulletin board or local coffee shop
- saving your Natural Balance UPC codes and receipts or your Fresh Step Paw Points and sending them in to AARF
- saving your ink cartridges or old cell phones

Help in one hour by:
- asking your local building supply store for a gift card for the new AARF Pet Central
- setting up pet supply donation box in your office break room
- writing a review of your favorite training book for our weekly e-newsletter

Help in three hours by:
- volunteering at an adoption day or a shelter
- helping out for an afternoon at the new AARF Pet Central
- hosting a fundraiser at your house

These are just a few ideas. There are so many ways we need you, and so many ways you can help. Every minute that you volunteer makes a difference in the live of a pet who is waiting for a new home.

If you aren't already on our volunteer list, email to be added. If you aren't sure where to get started, let us know. We will help you find a way to use your time to help a pet who needs you.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Let's Make October Adopt a Pit Bull Month

October is national Adopt-A-Dog Month. For one month a year, the national animal welfare focus is on getting dogs adopted. Actually, we focus 365 days a year on getting dogs adopted. But for the month of October, the talks shows run special stories on adoption, newspapers write articles about adoption and shelters and rescue groups run special adoption promotions and events. All of us have the same goal - to get as many dogs into new forever homes as we can.

So, what dogs often don't benefit from Adopt-A-Dog Month? Unfortunately, so many pit bulls spend October in shelters and foster homes, passed over by adopters because of media hype, myths and unfair stereotypes. Here are a few things you may not know about pit bulls:

1) In national temperament test data, pit bulls passed the test 86% of the time. This is higher than Australian Shepherds, Beagles, Boston Terriers, German Shepherds, Jack Russell Terriers, Miniature and Toy Poodles, and America's family pet, the Golden Retriever. All of the tiny designer dogs -- Chihuahuas, Lhasa Apsos, Malteses, and Shih Tzus -- scored lower than American Pit Bull Terriers.

2) Banning pit bulls does not make communities safer or reduce dog bites. A new article just published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association has scientifically concluded that breed-specific legislation simply doesn't work. Banning pit bulls only punishes responsible pit bull owners, and irresponsible owners will continue to be irresponsible. Fortunately, the recent proposed pit bull ban in Douglasville was voted down by some reasonable city council members.

3) Pit bulls used to be America's dog. Theodore Roosevelt, Helen Keller (pictured here with her dog, Sir Thomas), Woodrow Wilson, Fred Astaire, Humphrey Bogart, John Steinbeck, Thomas Edison and General George Patton all owned pit bulls. Current pit bull owners include Rachel Ray, Jon Stewart, Serena Williams, and Brad Pitt. Petey from the Little Rascals was a pit bull (pictured above). Throughout much of American history, pit bulls were considered loyal and loving family pets. Unfortunately, their unwavering loyalty has made it easy for them to be exploited by people who see them only as money makers, status symbols and weapons.

I have been seriously bitten by 3 dogs in my life. And none of them were pit bulls. The first bite came from an unspayed, chained chow that was in heat. I was at a friend's wedding, and some of her family members insisted on bringing their dog, because she was a "member of the family," too. She was such a member of the family that she was completely unsocialized, nervous in new situations, and had never been spayed. Since she wasn't crate trained, this family member was chained up behind the house during the wedding reception, so she wouldn't bother the guests. I went outside to take her some water and, since she was so terrified and unable to run away because of her short chain, she saw me as a threat. I don't blame her.

The other bites came from a mauling I received from a labrador and a golden retriever. I was hiking with my small beagle mix dog in the North Carolina mountains. My dog was on a 6 foot leash as we walked the trails. As I was headed up a trail, two wildly excited dogs came running down the trail, not on a leash and no owner in site. Their excitement turned to aggression, and they started to attack my dog. When I picked her up to protect her, they turned their aggression on me. Over 10 years later, and I still have the scars on my legs as a reminder of what can happen when owners are irresponsible.

Pit bulls aren't naturally aggressive or mean. Very few dogs are naturally aggressive. What makes a dog mean is frustration, fear, neglect and abuse. These will harm any dog.

We have so many wonderful pit bulls and pit bull mixes currently available for adoption - Daisy, Pablo, Mei, Praline, Greta, Lillian, and Dolly.

Let's make October a fantastic month for adoptions, and a banner month for pit bulls. If you are considering adding a new dog to your family, please open your mind and heart to one of the most loving, loyal, silly and stable breed of dog, the American Pit Bull Terrier. Daisy, Pablo, Mei, Praline, Greta, Lillian, and Dolly are waiting for you to see just how amazing they are.

For more information about pit bulls, visit Animal Farm Foundation and Pit Bull Rescue Central.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How Much is a Life Worth?

Do you know what AARF's adoption fees are? We ask folks to donate $225 when they adopt a dog and $150 when they adopt a cat. Lately, a few potential adopters have complained about our adoption fees and decided that a "rescue" pet isn't worth that much. And we even had one shelter in the metro area claiming that rescue groups are just in it for the money.

I simply don't understand those perspectives.

Let's look at what each pet comes with at the time of adoption:
  • Dogs: spay/neuter, DHLPP vaccine, rabies vaccine, bordatella vaccine, heartworm test, deworming and microchip
  • Cats: spay/neuter, FVCRP vaccine, rabies vaccine, feline leukemia vaccine, FIV/FeLV test, deworming and microchip
That's just the basics.

Now, let's assume that we bring in a pet from a shelter, have them fully vetted, and they get adopted the next day. Already, the adoption fee is a bargain. Call any veterinarian in Atlanta and ask them for an estimate of each list.

Unfortunately, that never really happens. So, the dogs and cats move in to a foster home. Almost every pet that comes to us from a shelter needs at least one trip to the vet and a round of antibiotics. They need flea and heartworm preventative every month. They eat. They need collars and leashes. They need toys and training to help them get socialized and ready for new homes. Sometimes their fosters travel and they need a place to stay.

Let's look at an example -- Daisy joined us in January, 2010. She has been waiting for 9 months for a forever home. In those 9 months, Daisy has needed $997.84 worth of veterinary care. She has needed boarding 3 times, for a total over $550. And her supplies have added up to about $224. So, AARF's investment in Daisy is at least $1800 at this point.

When she gets adopted, we'll get a $225 adoption fee. She would have needed the veterinary care and supplies whether she was with AARF or someone got her as a "free" dog. If she was with a family that never went anywhere, maybe the boarding costs would have been less.

Daisy is worth absolutely every penny of the money spent on her care. She is an amazing dog, and will be a wonderful companion for the lucky family that adopts her. But for the potential adopters who said our adoption fee is "out of line" with shelter fees, you have missed out on a wonderful dog because you instead wanted a "cheap" dog. You passed over a sweet, funny, healthy, housebroken, trained dog because you think we "charge" too much.

I wish before people passed over rescue pets because our fees are too much, they would consider the cost of a "free" pet.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What Would You Do?

This summer, I have been watching ABC News' What Would You Do? series. The foundation of the show -- ABC sets up scenarios where action is clearly needed, and then they film the people who stumble into the scene. For example, a child actor cries on the sidewalk or a blind woman is given incorrect change at a store. In some scenarios, actors portray extremely racist or sexist attitudes. I find myself cheering for those that step in to help. And I am overwhelmed at the number of people who actively pretend not to notice, just so they don't have to get involved. We see people who pretend to be talking on the phone or reading the paper as they walk by. Some people literally turn around and walk the other way.

At the end of each scene,
John Quiñones approaches those who chose to either get involved or look the other way. Those that helped are usually in tears, as they realize that the horrible situations they just witnessed aren't actually real. Most of the people who chose not to help apparently wouldn't sign a release to allow ABC to show their face. Embarrassed, perhaps, at the evidence that they are complacent in times where they are needed most?

So, "what does this have to do with animal welfare
?", you may wonder. What would you do if you saw a stray dog running in and out of traffic, and you knew John Quiñones was watching? What would you do if you saw a picture of an injured kitten, and you could choose fancy coffee or saving a life? Would it change if you knew you were being filmed and might show up on ABC in prime time? What would you do if you knew that animals were dying every day, and you did nothing? Would it matter if anyone knew?

I am asking everyone who reads this to ask yourself what you would do if.... And I challenge you to live every day like you are being filmed and
John Quiñones is watching and waiting to ask you why you did, or didn't, do anything.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Another Friend

We lost another member of the AARF family this week. Casey, one of our Silver Paws dogs, has been part of AARF for years.

In 2003, we received an email from a young girl, begging us to take in her family dog. The young girl's parents were getting a divorce, and neither parent was willing to take the canine member of the family in the move. This young girl was devastated at the thought that her dog would be killed, just because her parents were too uncaring to consider her in the divorce.

So, Casey became an AARF dog. When we picked her up, we found out she had been banished to the back yard and hadn't had vet care in years. She was suffering from mammary tumors, a very common disease in dogs who aren't spayed. Her teeth were just a mess, and she needed some serious dental care. We got Casey healthy, and along came what we thought was a great family.

In 2006, Casey's world fell apart again. Her new family added two human kids, and Casey was returned to AARF. She hadn't displayed ANY issues with the children, but the family made the decision to abandon Casey anyway. Now, Casey was about 8 years old, and had lost two families.

Since Casey's first time with AARF, we had started the Silver Paws Program, and Casey became eligible for placement through Silver Paws. After several months, we were contacted by Bette, who had recently lost her beloved lab, Rebel. She was looking for a new dog, and was drawn to Casey.

This is where Casey's life gets the fairy tale ending. Bette was exactly the home that Casey needed. She was adored by her new mom, and I think, quickly realized that she would never be abandoned again. She knew she was finally home. I smiled, and sometimes cried, when I thought about how wonderful Casey's final years would be.

Over the last year, Casey struggled with several health problems. But Bette explored every option to lengthen Casey's life without diminishing the quality. Casey went regularly for swim therapy and acupuncture to help with her mobility issues. She took medication to control seizures and regurgitation at night. And when she wouldn't eat, Bette even cooked for her to encourage her to eat and take her medication.

A few weeks ago, Casey was diagnosed with a very bad case of pneumonia. We knew that, because of all of her other issues, the treatment might not be effective. Bette and Casey took each day as it came, enjoying the good days and working through the bad days together. Throughout the journey, Bette made sure that Casey was still enjoying life.

On Friday morning, beautiful, sweet Casey left us. Bette stayed up with her throughout the night while she struggled, and Casey took her last breath with Bette's arms around her.

We have so many touching rescue and adoption stories, it's sometimes hard to pick the "best" ones. But Casey's journey is undoubtedly one of the very best. She was discarded by two families, and finally found the place she was supposed to be. While Casey's time with Bette might have been shorter than many of us have with our pets, the quality of that time is unmatched.

I am so grateful to Bette for giving Casey such a wonderful life for the last three years. I have such admiration for her for bringing home an older dog. And I am thankful for the care and love that Casey received from Bette. I know that love was returned, and Bette was just as lucky to have found Casey.

As I write this final goodbye to Casey, I am in awe of the amazing bond that Bette and Casey had, and will always have, in all of our memories. (See a tribute to Casey, made by her friend and pet sitter here.)

Rest in peace, Casey. And take comfort, Bette, in knowing you gave Casey such an amazing life, literally to her last breath.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

One of the Best Adoption Stories Ever

Many of you have followed Sesame's journey with AARF for the last several months. It has not been easy for Sesame, but we have never given up on her. Now, I want to tell you about one of the best adoption stories we have ever had.

Sesame was rescued from the DeKalb County shelter. She was exremely thin and had a horrible case of mange. She simply did not feel good at all, and had no chance at being adopted with her health issues.

In Sesame's first foster home, she was introduced to the resident dog. We expected the meeting be smooth based on her behavior at the shelter. But her foster parents rushed the introduction and skipped some critical steps, and the resident dog attacked Sesame. So, this girl started her journey in a home where she was not fully integrated into the family. We quickly learned that she had some anxiety issues, and they worsened over the weeks in her foster home. Her behavior was improving a little by working with one of our favorite trainers. But she had a long way to go, and as she got healthy, her strength increased, which made her behavior even more difficult to manage. We got feedback from the vet's office that her behavior became increasingly difficult every time they saw her for a check-up for the mange.

Then, Sesame got an adoption application! It looked great, and we were excited for her. After several play dates with dog in her potential new home, Sesame went home with her new family. Unfortunately, her new mom used some popular, but ineffective, training techniques, and Sesame responded badly. So, the adoption didn't stick. But her foster family wouldn't take her back, because they decided it was just too much work. (Unfortunately, this is so common that we aren't even shocked anymore when people just give up.)

So, we scrambled. At this point, we were worried that we had a dog that was out of control, and strong. We had no foster homes and nowhere for her to go. We tried a few boarding places, and they couldn't handle her. We tried one trainer who was so afraid of her that she kept her in her crate for over 24 hours. Finally, we found a training place that would work with her.

So, Sesame entered a boarding facility where trainers would work with her during the day, and she would spend the rest of the time playing with the other dogs in day care. Sesame adjusted to this new environment, and made some progress. But her trainers insisted that she was a difficult dog, and any new foster or adopter would need a high level of skill and ongoing training to be able to manage her.

Sounds like a horrible dog, right? I kept getting these reports about what a terrible dog Sesame was, but I spent some time with her, moving her from location to location as she bounced around. What I saw was a scared bully dog, who didn't understand what was going on. In her calm moments - going for a walk, riding in the car - she was a love of a dog. In her nervous moments, she was scary. I could see how some might interpret her behavior as aggression. But, a closer look at what was happening revealed really clearly that Sesame was scared. She reminded me of 10 year old foster child, who had been bounced from home to home. In every new location, she went totally out of control, because that was the only thing she ever learned. I knew Sesame wasn't a dangerous or uncontrollable dog. But would anyone else ever see that in her? If I had space at my house, I would have simply brought her home with me.

We all waited patiently for a foser home or forever home for Sesame. I had hope that one day that home would come. But in the meantime, Sesame continued to struggle at the kennel, and her boarding bill continued to grow. We and Sesame were both in a really difficult position.

Finally, Melanie (one of our board members) and her husband Mike decided to give Sesame a shot. They brought her home, and the first day really did not go well. Sesame's fear and anxiety often comes out as overwhelming tugging, nipping and jumping. She just had never learned what else to do. So, while we all knew it wasn't really her "fault," it's hard to ignore when she is literally ripping your jeans off.

But Melanie and Mike did something that no one else had really done yet. They didn't give up. They committed to working through this first day, to at least see what happened the next day.

I am so grateful that finally Sesame had someone committed to her. And what a transformation this girl has had.

Within 24 hours, Sesame had started to settle in to her new foster home. She began to feel comfortable around Melanie and Mike, and even with the visitors that came over. She met the resident dogs and cats, and quickly became an integrated member of the family.

Sesame has been with Melanie and Mike for just over a week. At the last report, Sesame has a best friend at the dog park that she plays with, sleeps in bed with her new mom and dad, and is a great napping buddy. Sesame's name is now Sammy, and I am excited to say that her foster home has become her forever home. Melanie and Mike are simply not willing to let this great girl go.

So, what makes this one of the best adoption stories ever? Is it just because Sesame was a difficult dog and we didn't give up on her? That's part of it, but not all. Is it because Mike and Melanie took a risk, and gave Sesame a chance? That's also part of it, but not all.

This is an amazing adoption story because it embodies our motto - "creating a world where every pet matters." Sesame, in all of her health issues and behavior difficulties, matters just as much as any of pet in our program, in your home or in any shelter. She is no less deserving of a home where she feels safe, secure and happy than the well-behaved healthy homeless dogs.

And this is an amazing adoption story because it's a story of commitment. This is one of the rarest words I hear and one of the rarest behaviors I see these days. We have become a society where few people are committed. In Sesame's case, she experienced this from her fosters, her potential new mom and even trainers. How sad that so many gave up on her so quickly.

And how sad that they missed out on such an absolutely amazing dog. Congratulations to Melanie and Mike for their new addition.

And congratulations to Sammy, for finally finding her place in this world where she matters.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend and AARF Icon

We lost a member of the AARF family this week. And more than that, we lost an icon of what AARF is, why we do what we do, and what we believe.

Bocelli was about 5 years old when he came to AARF. He was at a local county shelter, and was overwhelmed and terrified. Bocelli had more to overcome than most dogs - he was blind. An evaluation of his eyes by a specialist showed that he was almost certainly born blind. Bad and unethical breeding often results in birth defects, and Bocelli's blindness was likely caused by the breeding practices of an unscrupulous backyard breeder.

Bocelli also faced another challenge. He had severe separation anxiety. It was literally impossible to keep him safe in a house, even in a crate. Somehow, he would figure out how to get out of a crate, out of closed bedroom, even out a locked house. He just wanted to be with someone who could make him feel safe. So, we had a dog that couldn't be contained and was so stressed out when he was alone that he would get out of anywhere, and literally wander off blindly.

Bocelli was with AARF for around a year. And along the way, so many people wanted to give up on him -- vets, trainers, fosters, potential adopters. But we were not willing to give up on him.

Our motto is clear - "creating a world where every pet matters." And pets like Bocelli matter. We knew that there was someone out there who would be the perfect match for him. He would have the life he always deserved, and his new person or family would have one of the most loving, gentle and loyal dogs we had ever met.

That someone was Carroll. If ever there was an example of an absolute connection, Carroll and Bocelli were it. Bocelli picked Carroll, and within just a few hours, Bocelli and Carroll both knew he was home.

Over the years, Carroll worked consistently with Bocelli. He learned to feel comfortably staying alone, and his separation anxiety was markedly better. She took him to training, and he even passed his Canine Good Citizen test. Bocelli and Carroll became the motivation behind and faces of Silver Paws. They attended Kids N Kritters events and Silver Paws presentations at senior centers.

Over the past few months, Bocelli's health declined dramatically. He began to have seizures, and developed cognitive dysfunction. His arthritis progressed rapidly. But he continued to be the sweet and loyal Bocelli we all knew.

Over the July 4th weekend, Carroll knew it was time. Bocelli's quality of life had declined dramatically and his joy in life seemed to be gone. She made what is often one of the hardest, and most compassionate, decisions we can make as pet guardians. She let Bocelli go in the most loving and kind way.

Today, I am honoring the memory of this wonderful boy and his loving human companion. I hold both of them dear to my heart, and I have learned so much from them over the years. I know what it looks like to live in a world where every pet matters, because I watched them. Their lives together are the vision of what I want for every pet, and for every person that loves that pet.

Sleep well, my sweet friend. And know that your legacy will live on for years to come. Because of you, because of your life, and because of what you mean to what we do, many more lives will be saved.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Overwhelmed, But Still Motivated

I am feeling overwhelmed today at just the sheer numbers of pets that are facing euthanasia. We are in the middle of kitten and puppy season, and I am reading emails almost hourly of mamas with puppies/kittens who will all die together. This is one of those family. Unless someone steps in before tomorrow morning, they will all leave us. We become a crueler, sadder world with every euthanasia, but I am particularly haunted by the killing of these very new lives and their devoted mothers who just want to take care of their new babies.

On most days, I can keep an eye on the long-term goals, and manage the heartbreak of knowing that we, as a community, allow the killing at least 219 animals a day because we, as a community, can't come up with a better solution. Every day, I look at every email and read about every pet that the shelters are trying to get out alive. It reminds me that even when I am tired, and frustrated, and angry, and broke, I need to just keep moving. It makes me continue to have some hope that eventually, we won't accept mass euthanasia as a viable animal control method.

But today, it's just overwhelming and sad and heartbreaking. Today, I feel the pain on a level that I don't often allow myself to feel. My challenge today becomes what to do with this pain. I can sit and just be sad. Or I can stay motivated. I can continue to work for these and other pets who face immediate death. I can continue to write grant proposals for more money to support our spay and neuter program.

And I can continue to ask you for help. Maybe you get tired of my asking. I understand. I am often tired, too. Maybe you think someone else will help this time. Sometimes, I think that, too. Then I get an email from a shelter rescue coordinator about pets that are still waiting after three or four pleas have been sent out. Maybe you are angry at me for asking again. That's ok -- I am often angry, too, at the people who refuse to make a lifelong commitment to the pets that rely on them.

I am asking for your help today. I am asking you to stay motivated and to stay engaged. I am asking you to take one action today that can help save the life of a pet who is danger of dying because we, as a community, are allowing it to happen. I am asking you to help keep me motivated.

These are the dogs and cats that are depending on you. Below are pictures of about 25% of the pets that I have been emailed about in the last hour before writing this post. Multiply this by 4 and then by 24, and you'll roughly imagine how many pets a day that I know are dying.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pets Can't Read Maps, and Don't Know Their Phone Numbers

We received two emails this week that just made me frustrated and sad. These weren't about cases of animal cruelty, or people trying to dispose of their pets because they had a baby or moving. While those reasons are common and infuriating, these two cases just make me realize how far we still have to go with educating pet owners.

The first was this email:

Dear AARF, We found the dogs standing in the middle of traffic in Tucker, GA. We took the dogs to a vet (DeKalb Animal Hospital) who scanned them for microchips. They had none, nor other identification. The vet guessed they were around three years old, and probably from the same litter. They are wearing collars with electric shock mechanisms. When fed a meal at the vets, they acted as if they hadn't eaten in a long time. They know the command SIT and took treats well. We will have to take them to the pound in the morning, as we cannot keep them.

Now, let's talk about the frustrating things in this email. First, these dogs had NO identification. No proper collar with a tag, no microchip, nothing. The only thing they were wearing was an electronic collar. I HATE electronic collars for so many reasons. (Click here to find out all of the reasons why I absolutely despise the use of shock collars as a method of containment, or for any reason, really.) My guess is that these dogs were left outside, in an unfenced area, when no one was home. Something peaked their interest and they ran through the boundary and tolerated the shock. Once they left their yard, why in the world would they cross the boundary and get shocked again to come back? So, off they went.

Because their owners relied on an ineffective containment method and neglected to put any kind of identification on them, these two dogs will now likely die at DeKalb County Animal Services.

The second email:

This is Oakley. He is a sweet, older male and was found with a pink Old Navy collar on, but no tags. His owner is listed as XXX, but the numbers are all wrong.

How did the rescuer know his name? Because he has a microchip! He was chipped at one of AARF's microchip clinics. We make the owners fill out the registration paperwork at the event, because about 70% of implanted microchips are never registered. But Oakley's owner moved at some point, and didn't bother to update her contact information. So, now sweet Oakley is in danger of ending up at animal control, because once again, his owner couldn't be bothered to put an ID tag on his collar and update his microchip information.

These are three dogs who should never be in the rescue system. They have families, somewhere. Because of their owners' negligence, they are now considers strays. And all three are at risk of dying in a shelter, because someone couldn't be bothered to put on a collar with an ID tag.

Don't let another 24 hours go by without outfitting your pets with proper identification. If your pet isn't microchipped, go to your vet for a chip or watch for our next microchip clinic. If your dog or cat is euthanized because he or she gets lost and has no ID, that's on you.

Remember, your pet doesn't know your phone number.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Biggest Bang for the Buck in Animal Welfare

How can we make the biggest difference in animal welfare? The answer may not be as heartwarming as the story of an abused puppy or a box of cats turned in at animal control, but there is no doubt that the biggest bang for your buck is in spay/neuter programs.

I am always emotionally touched by stories of pets in severe need, and often we try to help those pets. We feel compelled to make a difference for that one dog or cat, and you, our supporters, always rise to the challenge of helping us make it a possibility. I continue to be awed by and grateful to our supporters.

But some parts of a broad animal welfare approach don't tug at the emotional heartstrings. A low-cost, widespread spay/neuter program is one of those parts. In the past three years, through our spay/neuter program called Casper's Fund, we have subsidized over 500 spay/neuter surgeries for Atlanta's pet owners. We have already hit the 200 mark for 2010, and we aren't even halfway through the year. Our program has prevented thousands of unwanted puppies and kittens from entering the rescue/abuse/stray cycle. And the pets who were fixed are healthier and happier as a result of not constantly dealing with the health and behavior complications that accompany an unfixed pet.

Spay/neuter isn't just good for the pets. For an investment of around $75, we can spay or neuter a dog or cat. On average, a cat may have 3 litters a year of 4-5 kittens, and dogs may have 2 litters a year of 6-10 puppies. So far in 2010, Casper's Fund may have prevented as many as 1500 puppies and kittens. These are pets that would be listed on Craig's List, given away outside of Walmart, abandoned at vet's offices or surrendered to animal control. Or even worse, many of these puppies and kittens are just dumped in fields or left on the side of the road.

Can you imagine the cost and resources needed to add 1500 more puppies and kittens into Atlanta's pet population? Your tax dollars pay for the ones that end up animal control. They are caught or trapped, housed and fed for the obligatory holding period, then euthanized. The cost per pet, even for those that stay 5 days and then are killed, is well over $75. For those that are lucky enough to make it to a rescue group, the cost to get them healthy and ready for a new home is $300-$400 minimum. For every $75 investment in spay/neuter, you can save the rescue groups at least $225.

We, as a community of pet lovers and animal welfare advocates, hate the killing that happens in Atlanta shelters. We lament the pet overpopulation problem, and often throw up our hands in frustration, asking "what can we do to really make a difference?"

The answer is very clear - support spay/neuter programs.

Our goal is to spay/neuter 200 pets between June 1 and August 1. In the midst of puppy and kitten season, we want to prevent as many pets from entering the homeless pet population as possible. Each pet requires a $75 investment for a spay/neuter surgery. We need your help to meet this goal.

Can you commit to fixing one in order to save hundreds?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saving Pets is an Ongoing Effort

The Paulding County shelter will be closing on May 28 for at least two weeks for renovation. During that time, the management of the shelter will also be changing. The Paulding County Marshal's Office is taking over the shelter, which has become a model shelter in the Atlanta metro area. The staff at the shelter are dedicated to giving the best care to the animals at the shelter, and getting as many as they can out alive. We'll have to wait and see what the new management does.

But those changes at the shelter are not the main subject of this post. Since the rescue community, media and Atlanta's citizens found out that any pets remaining on May 28 would be euthanized, the response has been overwhelming. The shelter was packed for the past 3 days, and shelter staff have been staying late, without pay, to finish adoptions. The Atlanta community has decided that killing these pets is not acceptable. These dogs, cats and other pets have done nothing to deserve their pending fate, and we, as a community, have responded to the call from the shelter staff to save them.

So far, nearly 150 pets have been adopted or transferred to rescue groups over the past 3 days. I am assuming this is a record for Paulding, and may be for any shelter in the Atlanta area. I am so grateful for the response, and the second chance that these pets give. But several dogs and cats are still there, and more are coming in every day. In a few days, when the media moves on to other stories, and the public is distracted by other stories, will the remaining pets have a chance? Or will they, and all of the other dogs and cats that come in this week, become just another statistic, and join the other 1533 pets that will in Atlanta between now and next Sunday?

1533 - that's 219 a day. That's the approximate number of pets that die in Atlanta shelters every day. While the response in Paulding has been inspiring, we, as a community, haven't yet saved one day's worth of pets. With this much media attention and call to action, we haven't yet saved 2% of the pets who will be euthanized in 2010.

But the response has given me hope. We ARE a community where killing is unacceptable. We are showing that we want a different outcome. We want something other than death for these dogs, cats and other animals that society has surrendered, abandoned and cast aside.

I am asking that we continue throughout the week to save the Paulding pets. Let's commit to not letting even one pet die because May 28 has arrived. But let's not stop there. Let's get the pets from Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cherokee, Clayton, Douglas and all of the other counties that face the same overwhelming numbers of dogs and cats that they need to find homes for. Let's make space in the rescue groups -- every pet adopted from a rescue group makes space for a shelter pet. Can't adopt? Then foster. Can't foster? Then volunteer. Can't volunteer? Then donate. Don't leave the solution to someone else. For that one dog or cat who is waiting, there might not be someone else.

There is only you.

These are some of the pets still waiting at the Paulding shelter. Click here for directions to the shelter to save one of these dogs or cats. Want to foster one of these pets? Click here to fill out a foster application. Want to donate toward the care of Paulding pets that we save? Click here.

Stay tuned for details of the Paulding pets that are joining the AARF rescue program - a mom and her nursing kittens, a young husky mix, and more to join this week. Thank you to all of you who have donated so far - you are helping us save them.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Support the Pawsapalooza Groups!

Want to support the groups that attended Pawsapalooza? Buy a 2010 "Unexpected Pit Bull" calendar and all of the proceeds will be split evenly among the groups that attended.

$10 price includes domestic shipping to a US address.

A Dollar a day Keeps the Dogs and Cats... Coming In

How much change is at the bottom of your purse or on your dresser at home? Maybe you have a pile of pennies in the glove box of your car? Can you spare a dollar a day to save a life?

Organizations like AARF rely on the support and generosity of our community members that believe in what we are doing. Without you, all of you, we cannot continue to save dogs and cats for dying in shelters, or spay/neuter pets to prevent more unwanted puppies and kittens from becoming homeless, or teach children about the importance of kindness toward pets.

I am challenging every one that reads this post to commit for one month to donate a dollar a day. You can donate every day, as a way to remind yourself of the ongoing need for the rescue and advocacy work that we do. Or, you can donate just once, and check our site and read the weekly newsletters to learn about how you are helping us make a difference.

The next time you drive past a stray dog on the side of the road, or see the picture of a kitten in a shelter hoping for a new home before her time is up, think about those quarters floating around in your pocket. With everyone's help, we can make a difference.

Without you, we can't. Help us make May a month of celebration, hope and second chances for the pets who are waiting. They are waiting for you.

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Family Saved!

Meet the newest family saved from euthanasia! This sweet momma cat and her 6 babies were rescued this weekend from the Paulding County shelter.

Keep an eye on the AARF website for updates about this sweet family.

**Each member of this family will cost AARF around $200 to be spayed/neutered and fully vaccinated before joining a new home. Please donate through one of the options to the right on this page to help get mom and her babies ready for their forever homes.**

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Cathartic Post - Maybe I'll Feel Better

This is Clementine. We pulled her and her sister Isabella (affectionately Clemmie and Izzy) from the DeKalb County shelter in December 2009. They had been abandoned by their owner, and lived on their own in the house for nearly a month before the landlord found them. They had been sick at the shelter, and one was recommended for euthanasia (we don't know which one). She wasn't euthanized, and she wasn't treated either. They were being held in the wildlife room at the shelter, and no one had stepped forward for them.

We decided to give them a chance. These girls have come such a long way in just a few months. They were terrified, especially Izzy. They didn't (and still won't) eat dry food, and sometimes go for days without eating wet food. We have to try a variety of different foods every day, just to keep them nourished and hydrated.

In the four months they have been with us, they have learned to play, have discovered the joys of a good brush, and have claimed their spots on the bed at night. They have been living the life they should have had all along. Their recovery from their past has not at all been easy. But their lives are so worth it.

Now, we are preparing to say goodbye to one of them. Our sweet Clemmie has been diagnosed with FIP, an evil disease that ravages the bodies of those cats it grabs hold of. There is no cure, and it is always 100% fatal. Once symptoms appear, the goal is to keep them comfortable and happy until they aren't anymore. Then, we do the best thing we can for them, and we'll do it for her.

Clemmie is our second FIP cat in a year. It seems that we take in the ones that no one else wants, and often there is a price. They struggle with health or behavioral issues. They are, by all reasonable terms, unadoptable. We often have to say goodbye to them before we should.

Ours is a heartwrenching endeavor.

Sometimes I just wish I could turn off the part of the me that so passionately cares, and just walk away. Or maybe, I could endeavor to save old buildings. At least when they would be knocked down anyway, despite my best efforts, I wouldn't have to grieve for lives I couldn't save, or ones that I could save but lost anyway. I wouldn't have to feel the overwhelming grief of knowing that this little life is dying, and in just days, it will be time for me to make the final decision to end the dying process for her, because I care so much, not because I don't.

So, why am I writing this today? I don't need emails telling me how inspiring this is, or how you think I am so awesome. I don't feel inspiring or awesome - I feel incredibly sad and broken. Your accolades aren't comfort. I am writing this today because I need to say it. I need to let out my sadness and grief, so when I go home, I can be a happier person for Clemmie to be around. She doesn't need, or deserve, my grief. I try really hard to use this blog to write uplifting, inspiring comments that might spur you to action. Today, I need to just be sad. And I need you to know how hard this is.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Inspiring Story of Hope and Second Chances

Zoe is a 7-8 year old shepherd mix that was hit by a car and left for dead with a shattered leg in a county where drivers have been known to simply drive around injured animals instead of stopping to help them. She was picked up by an animal control officer and taken to a shelter with one of the highest euthanasia rates in metro Atlanta. The veterinarian on duty for the shelter that day determined that her leg was irreparably damaged and had to be removed in order for her to survive. She also had some head trauma. The shelter was already operating near capacity and didn’t have the resources to treat this type of injury, so her prognosis was grim. Throughout the ordeal, Zoe, although shy and in intense pain, was exceptionally calm and sweet. While the vet was examining her leg, she laid her head down on the animal control officer’s lap and fell asleep. She truly seemed to savor any and all kindness and affection that the shelter staff would show her. Although all odds seemed to be against her, the vet gave her a fighting chance at a new life by taking her home with him and performing the amputation on his own accord.

Despite such a generous act on the behalf of the vet, she still wasn’t out of the woods. Zoe would need to find a spot with a rescue to help her recover. AARF received an urgent email from the shelter’s adoption coordinator asking all local rescues to take this sweet, but down on her luck, girl. It had been a tough year for our organization, and many of us were suffering from compassion fatigue, but we just couldn’t ignore their plea for help. We knew that because of her age and the extent of her injuries there weren’t many rescues that would be able to help. We quickly made room for her and got her into a loving foster home. Soon after, we found out that she was also heartworm positive.

We think Zoe was abused before finding AARF. She belonged to someone at some point, as she was already spayed when she was picked up by animal control. However, she would cower anytime she heard a loud voice or noise. It seemed as if she was always expecting someone to yell at her. She was afraid to eat or go to the bathroom if someone was nearby. Her foster family noticed that she didn’t want to come out of her crate, and they were afraid that she was giving up and shutting down.

We brought a trainer in to work with Zoe and her new foster family, and the transformation we have seen in her is amazing. She no longer tries to disappear into her crate for hours on end. In fact, she doesn’t spend much time in the crate at all anymore. She has been following her foster parents around the house and sleeps next to them at night. She has bonded with the other dogs in the house and is beginning to play. She feels better, and is learning to get along rather well on only three legs. Zoe will be done with her heartworm treatment in about 2 weeks, and will then be ready for a permanent home.

Watching Zoe recover and thrive in her foster home has breathed new life into our board members and volunteers. If Zoe can overcome as much adversity as she has, then we really can’t complain about our jobs being hard. When we brought her into the program, we expected to save one dog, but Zoe has inspired us to work harder and push forward. We are now more motivated than ever to accomplish our mission and create a world where every pet matters.

** Zoe is available for adoption. If you are interested in adopting her, you can fill out an application here.**

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Don't Threaten Me with Buying a Pet

Threatening a rescue worker that you'll just go buy a pet is offensive, shameful, and really quite childish. Over 200 pets a day die in Atlanta, about 4 MILLION a year in the US. Most of us who work in rescue do this for free. We hold down regular 40+ hour a week jobs, and spend our free time and any extra dollars we can save trying to save pets from dying in shelters or on the streets.

AARF recently had a young Siamese cat, Cassanova, for adoption. We don't have a preference for pure breed pets. Anyone who has followed AARF for any length of time knows this. He just happened to need placement, and we just happened to have space.

As you can imagine, we received several applications for him. People seemed to appear out of nowhere, desperate to adopt Cassanova and insisting they and their families had already fallen in love with them. (Remember, at this point in the process, no one had actually met Cassanova).

When Cassanova found his family, and I let all of the adopters know that he had been adopted and wished them the best of luck on finding a new addition to their family, I received this response:

"Congratulations to the new family.

This process really is sounding more like a government project and less like a pet adoption. Our back-up plan is to swipe the debit card at the local pet store. We'll have our new Siamese cat in a matter of minutes without all of the red tape.


I can't tell you how many times we get this response, this tantrum.

Let me tell you something else about this adopter. He has an unneutered male dog, and was irritated that we asked why he wasn't neutered. He didn't seem to think that an unaltered dog was any kind of problem, and plainly told me so.

It's amazing how many people want to lash out at me, at us, at rescuers, because they can't get the pet they want right now. And he hadn't even met Cassanova. Why isn't his back-up plan to go to the county shelter and get a cat? Or to meet another cat available for adoption? I actually really love Siamese cats, and have a few that were overlooked at the shelter. They are not in the greatest health and have some socialization issues. But I also really love the "regular" cats - the tabbies, the tuxedos, the black cats, and the hodge-podge cats. Why are they any less deserving of a good home and a second chance.?

If a potential adopter has a tantrum and threatens to buy a pet, it never has the effect I think they hope for. I don't want to rush out and find them a pet. I never feel guilty that they didn't get to adopt. In fact, I feel the opposite. I worry about the puppy or kitten mill pet they buy from a backyard breeder or an unethical pet store. How long before that pet is sick, or pees on the floor, or scratches the furniture, or simply becomes a chore?

I know they'll find us again then. And they'll throw another tantrum about how we won't take that pure breed dog or cat with papers.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How Much Does a Pet Cost?

AARF is raising our adoption fees. Starting March 1, adoption fees for dogs will be $225 and cats will be $150.

I know there will be complaints. I know some of our supporters will say those fees are too high. I have heard it before - "If you really want to find homes for those pets, why don't you just give them away or charge what the shelters charge?"

Do you know how much it costs to rescue a pet and get him/her ready for a new home? The ASPCA has a detailed chart outlining the costs of a new pet. For dogs, the estimated first year cost is between $1314 and $1843. For cats, the first year cost is $1035. This costs include spay/neuter, initial vaccines, supplies, food, ongoing medical cost, bowls, collars, etc.

For each pet in the AARF program, we provide spay/neuter, full vaccines, testing for heartworms for dogs and FIV/FeLV for cats, and a microchip. We also buy them all collars, leashes, litter boxes, and toys. And we feed them every day. And if an emergency arises, we cover those medical costs, too.

Our intial vetting costs are approximately $350 per dog and $300 per cat (and these are prices with generous discounts from our partner veterinarians and spay/neuter clinics). Even if we had no other costs, the newly raised adoption fee won't cover the vetting costs. And rarely do the expenses stop there. Pets coming out of shelters almost always have respiratory infections. Many dogs need training to help with socialization to get them ready for a new home. Sometimes they need to be boarded when the foster parent is out of town. All dogs need heartworm preventative medication. And every pet needs to eat, every day.

AARF spends about $700-$800 per year per dog and $600-$700 per year per cat while they wait for new homes. Some are more, much more, very few are less. So, we "lose" about $500 with every adoption. If we were running a business, we would have shut down years ago.

Thankfully, we have incredibly generous donors and great fundraising planners, and we somehow find ways to make up a lot of that $500 loss. But we don't always, and we rely on the flexibility of others who help us get these pets ready for new homes to keep doing the work we do.

So, is it wrong to ask the new families to contribute $25 more toward the cost of getting their new pet healthy, socialized and ready for their home? If someone walks away from a pet over the raised adoption fee, they probably would also walk away from a pet when he or she is sick or needs training or needs extra care.

I never want AARF to be accused of making it too expensive to adopt a pet. We aren't trying to make money, or eliminate adopters because they can't pay the adoption fee. But even at the new prices of $225 for dogs and $150 for cats, our adopters are getting a deal.

** On a side note, I don't mind if AARF is accused of being too stringent or having too difficult of an adoption process. Read our volunteer director Melanie's thoughts about "tough" adoption policies, and why we feel our process is so critical. **

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Lives We Can't Save

Last week, we got a call from our adoption coordinator (who also works at a local county shelter) about the sweetest puppy that was there.

She was only 14 weeks and was a staff favorite. But she had been passed over for adoption and rescue because she had demodex, one of the forms of mange. Demodex is usually highly treatable and not contagious. Knowing how much this little girl was loved by the staff, we wanted to try to help. We put out a plea to our foster and volunteer list, hoping that someone would want to give this girl a chance.

We got several responses from people who were willing to bring this little one home, and try to help her have a second chance start on life. We even had an offer from a vet to treat her mange for free.

The morning we had planned to move her from the shelter to the vet's office, she began to act sick. The shelter clinic staff suspected parvo, and when they tested her, the test came back positive. With her already compromised immune system, the shelter decided to euthanize her. We found out after the decision, and the euthanization, had already happened, so there was nothing we could do, but mourn the loss of this little life that we never even got to meet but were already committed to. I cried when I found out, not only for her, but for all of the ones we can't save. Rescue work is difficult, often emotionally draining and painful.

I get at least 10 emails a day into my personal AARF email, and AARF gets 2-3 times that number, about pets that need help. Some of the local shelters send out almost daily lists of dogs and cats of all ages, sizes and breeds that will be euthanized if no one comes for them. Individuals who have picked up a dog or cat running down the street or huddled up in their yard and need help email and call us, hoping we have an open space to take the pet. And unfortunately, about 1/3 of our calls and emails come from people who simply don't want the responsibility of caring for their own pet anymore.

I look at every email, and every picture. My heart aches for each life that we can't save. They are all deserving, and all need safe shelter where they will never face homelessness, abandonment or euthanasia again.

But we can't save them all. And I know that. We could build the biggest shelter ever, with space for hundreds of dogs and cats, and clean out every shelter in Atlanta. And in less than a week, every shelter would be full again. There simply are not enough homes or shelter spaces or foster homes for all of those pets who need us.

But we can make a difference for one pet at a time. In the same week that we said goodbye to this little life, we also saved another one that needed us. Zoe is a 5 year old shepherd mix who had been hit by a car and left for dead. She was picked up by the same shelter that had the sweet puppy, and the vet there amputated her leg and got her back on her way to health. Zoe is now in a foster home, recovering from her surgery and learning to trust people again. Soon, she'll start heartworm treatment to continue her journey toward a happy and healthy life.

I take comfort in knowing we saved Zoe. And I'll continue to hold this sweet puppy in my mind and heart, not as sadness, but as motivation. There are so many Zoes and so many unnamed puppies, and cats and kittens, and rabbits, and birds, and creatures of all shapes and sizes who need us.

We have created a world where they need to be saved. And it is our responsibility to save them. And we have a duty to create a world where every one of these lives matter, even the lives we can't save.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Help Stop "The Michael Vick Project"

Convicted dog fighter Michael Vick is being rewarded again for his behavior. He is now starring in "The Michael Vick Project," a reality show based on him and his return to the NFL. This show only exists because Vick bankrolled a dog fighting ring and personally participated in the torture and killing of dogs who didn't perform up to standards. If he was just a regular NFL quarterback without the dog fighting conviction, he certainly would not have been offered this show. So, he is, in effect, being rewarded for being a convicted felon and animal abuser.

I am disappointed in BET for producing and airing this show. But no matter our level of protests, I don't think they'll stop airing it.

But we can stop the show by stopping the advertising during the show. Letters of concern have already convinced Denny's to pull its ads off the air during the show. Your letters, emails and phone calls can convince other sponsors to pull their ads, too. With no advertising support, BET would have no option but to pull the show.

Your two minute email can make a difference. Please email, write or call the sponsors below and ask them to stop advertising during "The Michael Vick Project."

Nivea -

Broadview Security (formerly Brinks Security) -