It’s Finally Spring!

IT’S FINALLY SPRING

“Oh, when the bugs come out, it’s spring

I see some crawl, I see some fly

I can’t count how many bugs go marching by,

but when the bugs come out, I know it’s spring,

and today I met a mosquito which wasn’t fun

She bit me here, she nipped me there

she even bit my bum.

But I had the last laugh

I squashed her with my thumb”

A humorous poem by Jan Allison, but parasite season is not humorous for our companion animals. As the warmer weather of spring brings the outdoors back to life with flowers and shrubs, bugs and parasites also make their presence known, meaning that flea and tick season has arrived, and mosquitoes are also out and ready to pass on heartworm disease to your dogs (and cats.) Other parasites include roundworms, hook worms and whip worms.

Fleas are nasty little creatures that travel rapidly through animal hair and are extremely tough to eliminate, and they are more than just an irritation. If a flea swallowed by your dog contains tapeworm larvae, the dog may get tapeworms, and there are also other diseases which are transmitted by fleas. The average life span of a flea is about six weeks, and in that time, just one flea can produce more than 600 eggs. If you see just one flea, you can be sure that there are many more present, so the smart thing to do is to treat your animal BEFORE just one tiny critter is found. Talk to your vet about the best product to use. We discourage the use of flea collars, which may kill the fleas only in the neck area, and we are also uncomfortable with the thought of children touching and breathing the chemicals in flea collars. Do not buy over-the-counter products…..some are simply not effective, and others are downright dangerous.

Ticks are most often found in wooded areas, tall grass, brush, or woodpiles. They move onto a host as it passes by and then attach to the skin by using the mouthparts to embed their heads so they can feed on the host’s blood. Ticks carry and transmit several diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Fever….Again prevention is much easier than treatment, and many products are effective against both fleas and ticks. Your vet can help you implement strategies to protect both humans and canines in your household from these unwelcome parasites.

Another aspect of your pet’s health care is protection from heartworm disease, a life-threatening illness that is spread by mosquito bites….every time your dog is bitten by a mosquito, she may be exposed to heartworms. Heartworms are identified using a simple blood test, and it is important to have your dog tested every spring. At the same time, it is a good idea to take in a fecal sample to be checked for tapeworms, roundworms, whipworms, and protozoal parasites such as giardia and protozoa that can attack the gastrointestinal tract. We suggest a complete health check every spring. Hopefully your dog will get a clean bill of health, but if something suspicious is found, perhaps it can be treated in the early stages. Most dogs have teeth problems by the time they are three years old, and since tooth and gum disease can lead to more serious problems, be sure to include a dental checkup.

In spring, depending on your dog’s breed, more shedding can be expected, so daily brushing is encouraged. And remember: no outfit is complete without a few dog hairs!

The Powerful Influence of a Mother

Every life begins with a mom who accepts a long term, often stressful, job, and we celebrate Mother’s Day recognizing the awesomeness of mothers. They laugh with us, cry with us, and love us with unfailing love. Who is the queen of everything we cling to with all our hearts? It was, it is, and forever will be Mom. . A MOTHER MAKES LIFE SPECIAL was a Paw Prints piece published several years ago, and I was asked to repeat it at this special time of year. Enjoy!

“Most beautiful things in life come by two and threes, by dozens and even hundreds. Plenty of stars, sunsets, rainbows, flowers, and friends—but most of us are privileged to have only one mother in the whole world. There is no influence so powerful as a mother…with limitless patience, continual encouragement and unswerving love…and for those six little words that help us through so many trying times: “because I said so, that’s why.”

A mother makes life special….the moments of love and laughter, the traditions and memories we will carry with us throughout our lives, and most of all, a Mother shows the true meaning of love in everything she does.

As Mother’s Day approaches, a dog-lover friend recently browsed through her Mother’s memory album, and found this poem on which she had written, “How blessed I am to be a mother… even though I sometimes hide in the bathroom to be alone! I am learning to appreciate mud puddles, dandelions and hairy creatures called dogs, thanks to my wonderful children.”

MUD PUDDLES, DANDELIONS, AND DOGS

When I look at a patch of dandelions, I see a bunch of weeds that are going to take over my garden.

My kids see flowers for Mom and blowing white fluff to wish on.

When I see a bedraggled, old homeless guy, and he smiles at me, I figure he wants something.

Kids see someone smiling at them, and they smile back.

When I feel wind on my face, I worry about it messing up my hair.

My kids close their eyes, spread their arms and fly with it, until they fall down laughing.

When I pray, I say ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ and ‘grant me this, give me that’.

My youngest always says, “Hi, God! Thanks for all my toys and my friends,

and for my new puppy and especially for my Mom who puts up with the messes that we make.”.

When I see a mud puddle, I step around it. I see muddy shoes and dirty carpets.

My kids splash in it with the puppy, happily anticipating hours of fun.

When I see a starving, frightened dog standing by the side of the road,

I think of my clean car, and hope that “some Good Samaritan” will help him.

The kids see a wonderful, beautiful, loyal companion and insist that WE are the “Good Samaritans” sent to rescue him.

I wonder if Mothers are given kids to teach or learn from? No wonder God loves the little children!

I have learned to enjoy the little things in life, knowing that one day, I will look back and realize they were the big things.

I am so blessed to have learned and hopefully have taught my children:

  • Life is too short to waste it on petty things. And it is petty to think you have to win every argument. Forgive everyone everything.
  • Never compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is about, and envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  • Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful, or joyful.
  • Forgive everyone everything ..in five years it won’t matter that the puppy ruined your carpet, your couch, and half your shoes. He will grow up to become the love of your life.
  • Enjoy your family, both two legged and four legged. Miracles are waiting everywhere
  • ENJOY MUD PUDDLES, SUNNY YELLOW DANDELIONS, AND UNCONDITIONALLY LOYAL DOGS!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

 

The Connection between Animal Abuse and Human Violence

Animal abuse is a daily occurrence in today’s world, and sadly, violence against humans is also all too common. It is sometimes thought that when children are cruel to animals, it is just an exploratory stage of development, but researchers have connected children’s acts of animal abuse with bullying, corporal punishment, school shootings, sexual abuse and developmental psychopathic behaviors. . Young children need to be taught that animals have feelings and are not to be treated as toys, explaining that it is not okay to hit or mistreat an animal, just as it is not okay to mistreat another child. Most children learn the importance of being kind, caring and nurturing , but if they are in homes where there is domestic violence, they may learn about abuse by being its victim….Dad hits mom….mom hits the child….the child hits the dog. Documentation shows that most violent and aggressive criminals have abused animals as children, with cruelty to animals being one of the traits that regularly appear in records of serial rapists and murderers.

All children who abuse animal certainly do not grow up to become serial killers, but a child who displays unusual or continual fascination with harming animals is in need of professional help Regardless of the cause, animal cruelty in children should not be taken lightly . Killing a hamster or torturing a dog is usually a precursor to more serious violent actions. Children who harm family pets are at risk for other kinds of inappropriate behavior and need help. (What goes along with torturing animals is often setting fires, which should also be taken seriously) ALL animal abuse situations should be taken seriously

  • Animal abuse may indicate that a deeper problem exists. Children who abuse animals may be living in an abusive situation, and may be the only visible sign of an abusive family. While child and spousal abuse usually occur behind closed doors, animal abuse is more often committed in the open.
  • Acts of cruelty to animals may be a child’s cry for help…..before the violence escalates to include human victims. Many animal welfare advocates say that children who harm animals are usually victims themselves. An abused child will often lash out, and an animal often is the closest, most vulnerable target.

What can be done?

  • Support legislation: Learn about the animal abuse laws in your state and advocate for stronger, appropriate legislation.
  • Report animal cruelty: If you witness an act of animal cruelty taking place, report it to the authorities, giving as many specific details as possible. Doing so may save both animals and human lives, and gives a voice to someone in need.
  • Educate others: Encourage others to show kindness toward animals. Without being judgmental, you can often improve living conditions of animals (and humans) by showing you care.
  • Increase public awareness: Work with your local animal shelters and domestic abuse shelters to raise awareness of the link between animal cruelty and domestic violence. Violence is violence, whether it is done against a two-legged or a four-legged being. When you hear about someone being cruel to an animal, your next thoughts should be, “Who else will be harmed?” and “How can I help?”

The cycle of violence can be broken only if caring, concerned people have the courage and empathy to act. If you suspect either domestic abuse or animal abuse, don’t ignore it. Animal abuse in families often is one of the first indicators that the family needs help. Paying attention to animal abuse provides an important tool with which to guard children from abuse and neglect, provide needed support to families, and protect animals.

 

Red Flags That your Dog May Be Sick!

Sadly, your dog can’t tell you when he is sick. He may yelp in pain when you touch an injured paw or sore back, but it’s likely that he will suffer in silence. It is scary to consider that many pets who appear healthy to their caregivers have underlying diseases. Awareness of the signs of the most common diseases is one way to help reduce your pet’s risk of being affected by them. Physical changes are often the most noticeable, and lumps and bumps should be carefully monitored, and if there are sudden changes in old lumps and bumps or sores that are bloody or oozing, call your vet. Hair loss, rash, persistent itch or continual shaking of the head or scratching at ears are outward signs of problems.

Dogs can have trouble breathing, and the signs of respiratory illness include a honking cough,wheezing or noisy breathing, or a cough that disrupts sleep or lasts more than 24 hours. If your dog is struggling to breathe, check the color of the gums and tongue. They should be pink, and if you notice a bluish tint, seek emergency care immediately. Pay attention to any persistent nasal discharge, especially with mucus or blood. If you notice your dog has trouble passing urine or pooping, or if she starts having frequent accidents even though she is previously housetrained, check with your vet.

Top signs that your dog may be ill, according to the Pet Health Network include:

  1. Excessive drinking or urination
  2. Bad breath or drooling
  3. Change in appetite associated with weight loss or gain
  4. Difficulty or stiffness in getting up or climbing stairs.
  5. Change in activity level and loss of interest in doing things they once enjoyed
  6. Sleeping more than normal, or other behavior or attitude changes
  7. Coughing, sneezing, excessive panting, or labored breathing
  8. Frequent digestive upsets with vomiting or changes in bowel movements
  9. Dry or itchy skin, sores, lumps, or shaking of the head
  10. Dry, red, or cloudy eyes

Preventive care screening helps detect disease in its earlier stages, when it is most likely to respond to treatment. It can also help you avoid significant medical expense and risk to your dog’s health if an illness goes undetected. By establishing your individual pet’s normal baseline lab values during health, your vet can more easily see when something is wrong with your pet. Regular screening is the best preventive medicine because signs of specific problems are sometimes overlooked. It is wise to give your dog preventive care testing including:

  1. Tests to identify if your pet may have heartworm, tick-borne, or other infectious diseases
  2. A complete blood count to rule out blood-related conditions.
  3. Chemistry and electrolyte tests to evaluate internal organ status to ensure your dog isn’t dehydrated or suffering from an electrolyte imbalance.
  4. Thyroid test to determine if the thyroid gland is producing too little thyroid hormone
  5. Urine tests to screen for urinary tract infection and other disease, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the kidneys.
  6. An ECG to screen for an abnormal heart rhythm which may indicate underlying heart disease.

Your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your dog is your veterinarian, and although some of the tests are costly, prevention is always better than cure. Keeping your dog healthy will make life better for both human and canine!

 

Is it REALLY Spring?

IS IT REALLY SPRING?

According to the calendar, the first day of Spring, 2018, has come and gone, but as Henry Van Dyke said years ago, “The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another.” Iowa has yet to see the first spring day of this year. Hopefully Spring will actually arrive before this piece hits the news stand, but more pleasant weather also presents dangers for pets which are not as prevalent in the colder months.

The plants that begin to bloom are beautiful to look at, but some of these plants can cause serious problems for our pets. Lilies are one of the most common poisonous plants found both in gardens and in bouquets, and are poisonous to dogs. Rhododendrons, azaleas, foxglove, tulips, oleanders, caster beans, chrysanthemums, and many other familiar spring plants can be toxic to unsuspecting curious pets. (Check ASPCA for a complete list of dangerous plants.) Spiders, bees, and other little critters often hide in plants and can sting or bite a curious dog, and if your dog gets stung, it is wise to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Lawn herbicides or pesticides can poison pets. Keep your animals out of the yard while spraying and use caution for several days later. Be alert to your pet walking on these surfaces since cleaning or licking their paws later can contribute to ingestion of the poison. Also take care if you are poisoning rodents or other pests since your pets may ingest one of the dead critters and suffer from those consequences.

Stagnant water and rain puddles can provide great breeding places for mosquito larvae and other parasites, and dogs should not be allowed to drink out of these pools of water. Runoff with insecticides and other herbicides can result in horrible consequences, and you never know what else could be concentrated there.

Springtime is also fishing and hunting time. Be alert around water areas for fishing lines, hooks, discarded bait and other related items. If you are around wooded areas, there may be traps or poison bait left out by hunters or irritated neighbors. Predatory animals such as coyotes may pose some risk now too, since they may have litters of cubs that they need to feed and are looking for easy prey.

Spring house cleaning is an annual event in most households, and many household cleaners contain chlorine, ammonia, and foaming agents that are harmful to animals. Dogster.com lists specific products that are not pet safe, and are commonly found in most homes. According to studies measuring volatile organic compounds, three common cleaners– Pledge, Clorox Wipes, and Lysol Disinfecting Spray– registered close to a thousand times more vapor pressure than a natural cleaner. This means that even when the toxic cleaners are put away and closed, the vapors left behind can continue to harm both humans and pets. Pine Sol, Mr. Clean, 409, and even Windex are toxic products, as well as many laundry detergents. . Never use them when your pet is in the same room, and air out the house after cleaning with them. Make sure that all toxic products are stored out of reach of children and pets.

If you are uncertain as to the safety of a product, you will find a wealth of information about what’s toxic to dogs on Dogster.com. Check it out; I was certainly appalled at the toxic products I use on a daily basis, and I would guess you will be too. You and your dog will be healthier and safer if you use cleaning products that are pet safe!

Life Threatening Medicines Are Everywhere!

Nearly half of the calls received by the Pet Poison Helpline involve either over-the-counter or prescriptions medications for humans. Often the culprit is a curious canine who has chewed into a bottle of pills that has been left on the counter within paw’s reach. According to Dr. Karen Mercola, Pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are the number one cause of pet poisonings. It is also important to remember that certain OTC drugs won’t have the same effect on all pets…for example, even aspirin can be dangerous.

  • NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug including Advil, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn, and Aleve. Never give an NSAID meant for humans to your pet. A drug that relieves a human’s pain can cause serious problems for a pet. Don’t leave these medications lying around the house—on a nightstand, or kitchen or bathroom counter. For an inquisitive dog, these drugs can be a deadly temptation. NSAIDS metabolize slowly, which increases the likelihood that toxic levels will build up. Symptoms of poisonings include digestive upset, increased thirst and frequency of urination, bloody stools, staggering and seizures.
  • ACETAMINOPHEN is another commonly used painkiller that can mean serious danger to our pets. Acetaminophen brand names include Tylenol, Paracetamol, and Panadol. Other drugs, including some types of Excedrin, and several sinus and cold preparations, also contain this ingredient that is not safe for your pet. If your dog ingests acetaminophen, liver damage can result, and the higher the dose, the more likelihood of red blood cell damage. Symptoms of this poisoning include lethargy, trouble breathing, dark-colored urine, diarrhea, and vomiting.
  • PSEUDOEPHEDRINE is a decongestant compound found in many cold and sinus medications, and even a small amount can prove fatal to a dog. There are literally dozens of over-the-counter and prescription drugs which contain pseudoephedrine, but a few common ones are Sudafed, Comtrex, Contac, Tylenol Cold, Theraflu, Sinarest, Triaminicin, Drixoral, and Nyquil.
  • ANTIDEPRESSANTS can cause listlessness, vomiting and in some cases, a syndrome causing agitation, disorientation, elevated heart rate,, blood pressure, tremors, and seizures.
  • DIABETES MEDICATIONS can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels of a dog, bringing on disorientation, lack of coordination and seizures If you or a family member takes an oral medication for diabetes, including glipizide and glyburide, be sure to keep these drugs out of reach of your pets.
  • ADHD MEDICATIONS are commonly used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in humans, but these are stimulants to pets. If your dog or cat ingests methylphenidate, it can result in elevated body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. There is also a danger of seizures. Brand names for methylphenidate include Ritalin, Concerta, Methylin, and Daytrana.

The best way to keep you’re your pet out of danger of ingesting drugs intended for humans is to always keep your medication in sealed containers, in a place well out of reach of your curious pet. Call your veterinarian, an emergency clinic, or a pet poison hot line immediately if you suspect that your pet has ingested a human medication. Be prepared to offer as much information as possible, including the weight of your pet, name of the suspected drug, and signs of poisoning that you have observed.

No Charge for Love

Easter is one of the most celebrated days in the Western World, and it is the perfect time to reflect on the love and joy emphasized on this special day. You have probably heard this story, “No Charge for Love”, but is one of my favorites, and I recently received a request to repeat it, so here it is:

Oliver Townsend had rescued a neglected pregnant dog, and had cared for her, committing himself to being her forever caregiver. However, he realized that he could not keep all her pups, so he determined to find good homes for them. He painted a sign advertising “Pups for sale to forever homes” and placed it out on the edge of his yard, hoping that they would all be re-homed quickly. Several families expressed casual interest, but Oliver had grown attached to the little ones, and he didn’t feel that any of the families was really serious about adding a pup to their family, so days passed, and the pups were still there. Late one afternoon, he was outside trimming some bushes when he realized that he was being watched. He looked down into the eyes of a young boy.

“Sir,” the boy said, “I would like to buy one of your puppies. My mom says it’s okay, and I have a little money from my chores.” He reached deep into his pocket and pulled out a couple crumpled dollar bills and held them out. “Could I take a look at them?” Mr. Townsend shook his head, thinking that this would definitely not be the right match. “You know, son, the mother of these pups was in bad shape, and I have spent a lot of money nursing her back to health, and caring for her babies.”

The boy looked straight at him, “I would take really good care of the pup, and if I don’t have enough money, maybe I could mow your lawn or something. Couldn’t I just take a look at them?” The man put down his clippers, and let out a whistle. “Here, Dolly,” he called. From the front porch ran Dolly followed by three little balls of fur. As the dogs came closer, the boy’s eyes danced with delight.

Suddenly he noticed something else was stirring on the porch. Slowly, another, noticeably smaller, little ball appeared, and in a somewhat awkward way, began hobbling toward them, doing his best to catch up with his siblings. “I want that one,” the little boy said, “I will work for you until he is paid for.” The man knelt down at the boy’s side and said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. I love him dearly, but he will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.”

The boy repeated softly, “I want that one.” He reached down and pulled up one leg of his jeans, revealing a brace running down both sides of his leg, attaching itself to a specially made shoe. “You see, sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.” Mr. Townsend carefully picked up the little pup, and gently handed him to the boy. “How much?” asked the youngster. With tears in his eyes, the man answered, “No charge. There’s no charge for love.”

May joy and love fill your hearts on this special day…and every day. Have a blessed Easter.

 

Redemption & Rehabilitation

Puppy mills abound across the country with facilities housing as many as a thousand dogs with breeding females being forced to give birth to litter after litter of puppies throughout their lifetime. The dogs are usually crammed into wire cages that are often stacked inside dark sheds or barns. Their urine and feces drop into lower cages, where the dogs are forced to stand or lie in the excrement. Many dogs become ill, and receive nothing to alleviate their suffering, because it is cheaper to get a new breeding dog than it is to pay for veterinary care. Many of the dogs have never seen the light of day or felt grass under their feet and they have had little human contact. The conditions that these animals endure are horrific, and pet stores and on-line sources get their dogs from puppy mills, regardless of what they tell you. The story of Buttons is a typical example of a puppy mill dog who was rescued, redeemed, and rehabilitated:

Buttons was a wretched creature, a small mini poodle dumped at an area shelter with six months of matted fur, and he was terrified of everything, including feet and newspapers. He had spent his early weeks in an abominable puppy mill, and was transported to a pet store where he spent four months, up for sale at half price, and then almost two years in a “home” from which he was given up without even a collar to call his own. He was so afraid of his owners, that, when they opened their car door at the shelter, he flew out and hid for a day in the wooded area behind the shelter. He refused to leave the crate in which the shelter put him when they finally caught him.

When he heard his original name, he quivered, rolled over, and peed. He was so thin that his bones showed through, and his frightened eyes peered out of a haggard face. In short, he was a mess, and even the shelter staff doubted that he could be “rehabilitated.” However, the little guy captured me with his eyes…huge, deep, black, watching everything around him intently, and oh so sad and scared. But in there with all the sadness and fear, there seemed to be a spark of hope, almost as if he was thinking, maybe, just maybe this will be different. Why he would trust anyone at this point is beyond me, but he did.

Buttons developed into a feisty, friendly, little fellow with thick black fur, and beautiful black eyes. Only occasionally does the old worried look reappear. He was reliably house-trained within a few days, and developed awesome house manners with everyone. He has become an affectionate little companion who loves his daily walks, and dances on his once pencil legs when he sees a treat coming…A few weeks ago Buttons graduated from obedience class, and has learned the meaning of “kiss” as a greeting, instead of “flip and pee.” The process of redemption and rehabilitation had few rough spots, and he is a better dog than anyone could have ever hoped for.

What can be done to eliminate the existence of these horrible places? First of all, do NOT shop at stores or internet sites that sell dogs. The only one sure way to combat the tragedy of puppy mills is to NOT SUPPORT THEM….no matter how cute the puppy in the pet store is, please don’t buy her. She comes from a puppy mill, regardless of what the salesperson tells you. PET STORE dogs come from puppy mills. You may think you are “rescuing her,” but in reality, you are only freeing up space for another puppy mill product, while supporting an industry based on abuse. Keep informed and educate your friends and neighbors about puppy mills, and monitor legislation that involves this unethical industry. Let your legislators know your concerns, and above all, ADOPT, DON’T SHOP.

 

The Importance of Routine

Most humans are creatures of habit, and building a routine for your dog is mutually beneficial. Pleasant routines prevent anxiety in dogs, re-enforcing the fact that there is security, logic and order in their life with you.

  • Give your dog his meals at specific times…most vets recommend feeding twice a day. This routine will help keep your dog healthy, and also make it easier for you to determine when your dog will need bathroom breaks. Dogs need free access to fresh clean water at all times.
  • Take your dog out for potty breaks at approximately the same times each day. When and how much your dog eats affects what comes out….,let your dog out after meals, after walks, after excessive play, when he wakes up in the morning, and before turning in for the night. House training problems are usually caused by inconsistency.
  • Dogs need exercise every day, no matter how busy you are, or what the weather is. Play with him indoors if necessary by running around, playing hide and seek, or tossing a ball for him to retrieve. Without sufficient exercise, dogs will become restless and exhibit inappropriate behavior.
  • All dogs need to be bathed regularly….how often depends on the skin characteristics, breed, and sometimes age. After each bath, brush thoroughly, but gently. Don’t use human shampoo….get a shampoo especially formulated for dogs.
  • Dogs are social creatures who enjoy interaction with both humans and other dogs. Make an effort to schedule play dates with other dogs. A Doggie Day Care Center can be a great place, or it can be a nightmare….Visit several times before you entrust your dog to the care of someone else.
  • Routine veterinary care for vaccinations, parasite control, and dental care are needed to keep your dog healthy. Adult dogs should have a complete vet exam at least once a year; puppies need monthly visits until they are at least 4 months old, and geriatric dogs should see their vet at least twice a year. Because a caregiver is more familiar with a dog than anyone else, you should routinely watch for subtle signs of illness,.
  • There are many routinely used household products that are hazardous, including chemicals, pesticides, cleaning supplies, antifreeze, electrical cords , drugs, alcohol, and poisonous plants. Elements of house design, such as steep stairs, slippery floors, or open windows also pose potential dangers and should be corrected as much as possible.
  • With today’s hectic lifestyle, many dogs spend extended periods of time alone, so it is important that she be exercised before being left. Crates were a great invention, but they were really not intended for all-day confinement. If possible, keep her in a bathroom, or porch where there is an open area with room to move around. Provide a cozy environment with blankets and favorite toys. A stuffed Kong can occupy most dogs for several hours!

A PUPPY’S ROUTINE:

This morning, I woke up and kissed my dad’s head; I peed on the carpet, then went back to bed.

I’m sure God loves me…I know it’s true, cause he gave me so many great things to chew.

Rugs, plants, or rocks…I really don’t care…what I truly like best is Mom’s underwear.

That obedience book was sort of yummy, but it didn’t set well on my poor puppy tummy.

My daily routine includes much to do…I bark at the mail man; I bark at the wind. I race through the house and scatter my toys. When the day ends, I get in my spot, between Mom and Dad and think ‘bout my day and what fun I had.

Mama gives me a kiss and snuggles me tight. She whispers so softly, “My darling, goodnight,” and I know for sure life is all right.

 

Dedication and Determination

Mary Lahay, president of Iowa Voters for Compassion Animals, is dedicated and determined to improve the lives of needy dogs. Mary shares her thoughts in this informative piece.

“It isn’t just the national political scene that seems turned upside down this year. Just as our efforts to improve the lives of Iowa’s puppy mill dogs allowed for light at the end of the tunnel, our own government decided to cloak this wretched industry in darkness again.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), responsible for oversight and enforcement of commercial animal care standards, pulled access to thousands of documents related to organizations and businesses regulated by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). This includes circuses, zoos, and . . . puppy mills. The result? Critical information about the welfare of dogs and puppies within Iowa’s 254 commercial dog breeding and dealing facilities – gone.

Inspection reports and court documents that allowed us to identify, monitor, and take action against animal abusers – gone. Documents that allowed you, us, and the general public to distinguish reputable dog breeders from the puppy mills – gone. The USDA unveiled a new database, with critical information including kennel, breeder, and dealer names, license numbers, addresses, and photographs — all blacked out.

And we know there are dogs suffering because of it!

Iowa Voters for Companion Animals has spent the past 5 years monitoring and analyzing breeder inspection reports which verify that 40-60% of Iowa’s 250+ USDA-licensed dog breeders are cited for significant violations each year. Many of these breeders keep more than 100 adult dogs, meaning that there are potentially thousands of dogs suffering in USDA breeding facilities right now! But we’re no longer given access to this information.

In 2010 the USDA revealed that no Iowa breeder had ever lost their license due to failure to comply to the regulations. That is simply not feasible. But since our organization has been holding the USDA accountable, at least 4 breeders have either had their license revoked or were “encouraged” to allow their license to lapse. Our work is not done.

The information is still there in USDA files, and it belongs to us, the American public whose taxes fund the work of the USDA, but now we have to fight — and pay — to get it.

The USDA can’t legally stonewall us or hide public records, so it defends the change by claiming that it will provide information through formal Freedom of Information Act requests. Sounds like a great system, right? But since March, we have submitted 465 FOIA requests, and the USDA’s response time for each one averages five months! What’s worse, more than 90% of inspection reports received are simply pages and pages of blacked-out information So, the bad breeders get protection, but there’s none for the dogs they abuse!

Adding insult to injury, many of our FOIA requests now also incur hefty fees, much higher than are required to cover the USDA’s routine administrative expenses. With our last filing for information on a single Iowa puppy mill, we got hit with a fee of $250! This obstacle doesn’t have to be an insurmountable one, but it means the dogs need help from each of us more than ever.

The ‘D’ in USDA should not and must not stand for ‘Darkness.’ We are fighting for daylight, working to educate the public about puppy mills, and we will continue to lobby for legislation in Iowa to ensure all dogs and puppies are protected. But that ‘WE’ has to include YOU. We must all be dedicated and determined!

Please contact Iowa congressional and legislative representatives today and ask them to tell the USDA that this data blackout is unacceptable. The information is critical to efforts to ensure animal abusers are held accountable and the dogs and puppies of Iowa are protected!

We’ll be hosting our annual Humane Lobby Day on Tuesday, February 20 in Des Moines. Please join us! At our pre-lobby luncheon we offer information and training on how to effectively lobby your legislator. Then we go to the State Capitol as a group to meet with state senators and representatives. We’ll hold your hand through the whole process, if you want. It is truly an amazing experience. You’ll go home feeling like you’ve done something very important for the dogs. ..because you have..

Please visit our website at www.iowavca.org/lobby-day-2018 for more information and to register. For the dogs.”