Friday, February 27, 2009

Not So Capital in the Capital

DC's city council is considering a bill that would ban pit bulls. Not only are these bills an ineffective waste of money (as Baltimore County demonstrated), these bills hurt people, shelters, and dogs.

They hurt the people who love their pit bulls and know what great dogs they are. They hurt the kids who grow up fearing a wonderful dog because their government tellsthem it's okay to be prejudiced without any acknolwedgment of facts. They hurt the people who are still going to get bit because biting is not about breed, but about temperment, training, and the situation.

They hurt the shelters who end up taking in all the pit bulls who are banned as people try to keep them from being destroyed. The hurt the shelters desperately trying to adopt out wonderful dogs without interference of the worst sort from our goverment.

They hurt the dogs who are American Pit Bull Terriers and are wonderful, loving, and loyal companions. They hurt the dogs who look like but aren't American Pit Bull Terriers but will be confused for such. They hurt the other dogs who need space in the shelters. They hurt the dogs who love to play with American Pit Bull Terriers. They hurt the pits who will now be bred illegally without socialization or proper medical care. Outlawing something doesn't eliminate it, it just makes it dangerous and illegal.

The bill has been assigned to the Health Committee and the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. Here are two links to both committees which contain contact information for the members:
Public Safety

Please contact the members and tell them not to support B 18--0052. Shelters in the DC area do not support this bill and neither should you.

Breed specific legislation has been shown time and again to do nothing to curb bite incidents. It pushes breeders underground and prevents healthy socialization of pit bulls. DC City Council just passed a great aggression act that just needs time to take affect. Don't sit by and let DC make a great mistake. We're the nation's capital, let's stand against prejudice and profiling. Dogs are individuals and deserve to be judged as such.

Please take action before more dogs and people get hurt by fear turned into law.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I'm excited that tonight my old apartment community is having another of the cat adoption events I started while living there. It was my first time setting up such an event but I talked to the right people, pointed out how it was great for the community, connected people with each other, and set in motion events that led to multiple cats being adopted from a two hour event.

Your local shelter or rescue group probably holds adoption events, too. If you live in an apartment community that allows pets--cats or dogs--consider asking your community to host an event. If you don't live in a community like that, consider asking your favorite local business. My favorite cafe recently agreed to talk to our event coordinator about scheduling an event after I pointed out how perfect it was for them. The economy sucks right now and this is free advertising.

Top Three Reasons for a Business to Host a Shelter or Rescue Group

1. It's a social event that encourages members/patrons to connect with each other. Loyalty is good for any sort of business.

2. It associates the host with adorable animals and charitable works. Even though all the host needs to do is open its doors, people see the organizations that host events as caring and generous.

3. It's essentially free. While some hosts give discounts to volunteers or those who donate to a shelter (my favorite bar gave free nonalcoholic drinks to volunteers during the event and a discount on other drinks after), the vast majority give us water and access to restrooms. One didn't even give us water!

Just by speaking up you'll be helping the business, community, and animals. I'll admit I'm selfish and care mostly about the dogs and cats that get adopted. Whatever you value though, you're earning good karma just for a suggestion.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The downside of catsitting

After falling for a beautiful squeaky kitty 1/3 Toby's size, you have to give her back to her mom and watch your cat look in all her hiding spots wondering where the little one went. He spent the past few days trying to play with Bella while she ran away (she was a little shy with other kitties) but was a fluffy cuddle cat.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Capital Cats Make Waves Across the Pond
Washington Humane Society's Kittengarden (which sadly my Toby is too old to join) got a spot on the BBC!

In these classes, people learn how to work with their cats and make life fun and interesting while also safe for them.

The video does note a difference I've seen in books regarding American/British views on indoor/outdoor cats. In Britian, people are encouraged to let their cats roam and be as "natural" as possible. In America, especially in D.C., we encourage cats to be kept indoors.

Why? It's safer.
Outdoor kitties face a lot of dangers, especially in urban areas. Cats were not meant to run from cars or deal with catnappers (I have heard from respectable people that cats really do get, well, catnapped in the DC area, I haven't done research myself though so don't take that as pure gospel). It gets awfully cold and hot outside, too. Plus you run the risk of a neighbor just not liking your cat and doing something awful. Those are just the immediate large dangers.

There are also the microscopic dangers which can be more deadly. FLV is generally picked up by outdoor kitties or those who are exposed to outdoor kitties. Outdoor cats are more likely to get into fights and then catch infection through their wounds.

Science backs this up. At least in the United States, indoor cats live significantly longer (several more years) than outdoor cats. I want my Toby to live a long time and be around through different life stages. That's why I keep him indoors :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

North Carolina Potential Tragedy

While I join in the applause for shutting down another pit bull fighting ring, I am appalled at the judge's decision to ignore the rescue groups offering to take in and rehabilitate these dogs.

Bad Rap has a great write up of the events and is how I first heard about it

I'm a little speechless. I knew HSUS had bad pit policies and I had hoped I could ignore them because my local humane society is awesome about pits. This is just wrong.

Whether you like pit bulls as a breed or whether you think that fighting dogs can be rescued, there are puppies involved. Puppies who are little and haven't even been in a fighting ring. And because of fear and prejudice they are going to be destroyed.

The short story:
A fighting ring in North Carolina was broken up. The dogs were collected. Only one shows signs of having ever been in a fight. The one good aspect of the Michael Vick case was public proof that fighting pit bulls can be rehabilitated. Rescue groups have offered to take these dogs. There are recently born puppies.
The judge still decided to have them all destroyed and taken to the landfill because it's cheaper.

Bad Rap and other organizations are asking for people to call, email, and fax the following to try and halt the destruction of these animals. They had no representation at that case. It was not justice in the least, it was not even a fair case.

Please contact:

Mike Inscore - Mayor

Wilkes County Board of Commissioners: 110 North StreetWilksboro, NC 28697
Phone: 336-651-7346
Fax: 336-651-7568

Wilkes County Attorney: Tony TriplettVannoy, Colvard, Triplett & Vannoy
922 C Street P.O. Box 1388
North Wilkesboro, NC 28659
Phone: 336-667-7201
Fax: 336-838-7250

District Attorney Tom Horner
500 Courthouse Drive Suite 2022
Wilkesboro, NC 28697
Phone: 336-667-6361 or 667-2994
Fax: 336 667-7999

Monday, February 9, 2009

Narcissistic Kitty

Yes, the caption on the book does say "Parlez-vous Doggish?" I guess Toby was trying to educate himself when he got distracted by the handsome kitty in the mirror.

Let's hope this ends better than the myth...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cat Cafes?

Apparently there is a trend in Japan (at least 8 cafes in Tokyo) where people pay $8-$12 an hour to sip tea and play with cats. The cafes require handwashing and often have previously-homeless cats as their resident cats.

I'm not sure what I think about this. On the surface it seems okay--it gives some cats a home and lets people interact with animals who for some reason or another, don't have one at home. On the other hand, I hope it doesn't encourage these people away from pursuing actually owning a cat because they know they can always just visit one.

It also reminds me of the rent-a-dog trend that started to take off in NYC a few years ago. What happens when these cats get older? Who will take care of the cat who gets sick? Yes, it's probably a better life than on the street but let's hope that these cats are loved and cherished even when they aren't so cute. Pets aren't robots and should be treated as more than just commodities.

I do like the idea of Arlington's Stray Cat Cafe. There aren't any real cats there, just paintings and photographs of strays, but their website links to an adoption site and the restaurant (along with its sister "The Lost Dog Cafe") supports adoptions. I've never eaten there so I can't say anything about the food, but for a place that came up when I was looking up cat cafes in Tokyo, it sounds pretty cool.

(For another photo of a cat cafe that won't display here, go to:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

From the Post

The Washington Post had an article this morning about raccoons on the White House grounds. Now those animals are really living in capital style!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Great Moment at the Shelter

I spent a good part of Sunday at my shelter. A recent outbreak of upper respiratory infections had finally calmed down and the cats really needed some TLC. There were two overweight scared-looking cats who had come in together. One, Cloud Fluff, looked like Toby if he were 10 pounds heavier and my heart just about burst. All homeless kitties affect me, but these cats were overweight, scared, and had been surrendered by their owner. I pulled up a chair and started talking to them. Cloud Fluff came right to my hand and started head butting it and rubbing and purring up a storm. When his sister finally came out and walked right onto my lap, one of the staff people looked at me in amazement. "I've never seen those cats be affectionate with anyone. You've got a touch," he said and I felt more pride than any A+ in school ever caused.

I'm an editor, a writer, and an assistant. None of those bring me more pride than helping a nervous cat open up and purr.

5 Tips for Dealing with Anxious Animals:
DISCLAIMER: please have someone knowledgeable with you if the animal hasn't been screened for aggression and never approach a strange animal. They may bite or be infected. In that case, call someone with training. Do not put yourself in harm's way. If you feel worried, don't push yourself into a situation you may regret.
Otherwise, if it's a rescue dog or your friend's pet who is frightened, or yours just got upset, please try the following.

1. Be calm yourself.
2. Approach the animal like you would a terrified teenager. Children can't run far so don't pretend it's a two-year old. Think of how you would approach a teen who might run away or hurt herself.
3. Use happy tones at a quiet volume.
4. Don't push too hard. Cloud Fluff loved snuggling my hand and being petted. He did not want to come out of his cage. I gave him the option, he refused, and I continued to show him affection. Eventually, if I do this often, he'll become comfortable enough to let me take him out of his cage. Watch their body language and respond appropriately. If the cat bats at you with his claws, back off and try again later.
5. Use treats. Treats are a useful training aid. They provide positive associations. If the animal learns to associate your company with treats, he'll see that you provide good things, not bad, and become more comfortable with you.

Overall, have empathy with the animal. Love the shy animals because they need that love and attention to come out of their shells. Just love.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Ad for Adoptions

I'm not a huge football fan. I like high school games with my old friends. And the few college games I attended were great. Somehow though, I have never gotten into professional football.

Because of that, I do not usually attend Super Bowl parties or watch the game. This year, I did flip back to check the commercials, looking for a Pedigree commercial I'd heard about first through HSUS's blog. The magic of the interwebz let me watch the ad on youtube, (Here is the ad in case you missed it during the game) and I genuinely liked it.

I want people to adopt cats, too, but adoption in general needs to be promoted. If all the dogs find homes more quickly, shelters will have more resources to spend on cats.

There tend to be more homeless cats than dogs for a two major reasons.

1. A feral breeding population. In the United States, we do not have packs of wild dogs roaming our cities. We do have legitimate feral cat colonies. These are cats whose moms or dads were house or barn cats, but ended up on the streets. These cats bred with other loose cats, the offspring were not brought back inside, and after a few weeks became feral. Feral cats are behaviorally different from homeless domestic cats, but they still breed together. If the female is a homeless domestic cat, those cats could have good lives if they were brought inside. They would be able to adjust to a home and people so easily, but their mom is homeless so they are. Or, even if their mom isn't homeless, a lot of owners whose cats have unexpected litters just leave the litters somewhere without caring that those kittens will likely either die from the elements, or if they do survive, lead harsh lives producing more litters of kittens to compete for resources. People have a hard enough time controlling their impulses to cut down on unwanted human pregnancies. It's not fair for us to expect cats to do better.

2. Physically, cats are set up to breed quite a bit. Feline pregnancies are about nine-weeks and females tend to have two or three litters of kittens per year. Cats can become sexually mature at the age of four months. Mix these together and that's a lot of kittens being born, growing up, and bearing even more kittens.

I think there's a third reason, but it's based more on anecdotal evidence than science. People seem to give cats up more easily than dogs and less people are willing to adopt a cat. They don't understand that if given attention, cats can be just as affectionate and trainable as dogs. Toby sits on command and is learning to give a high five (velvet paw touch to my left hand). He loves to play fetch. He is not an anomaly in the world of cats. Yes, they do all have their own personalities and cats can be more independent than dogs. I would never leave a dog home for a weekend with bowls of food and lots of water. I have left Toby for a day or two with bowls of dry food around the apartment and multiple bowls of water (I do two bowls of water for each day I'll be gone, at some point I need to give in and purchase a fountain for him if I start traveling regularly).

So please, watch the ad and think about adopting. If you want a dog, think about a dog. If you don't lean either way, please consider a cat. They can be very sweet and there are loads of products out there for allergy sufferers.