What we allow – will continue

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, but as we make plans to honor the person who loved and supported us throughout our lives, we pause to remember the thousands of mother dogs in puppy mills who live out their lives in these inhumane places. Puppy mills are everywhere, and the US Department of Agriculture estimates that there are over 2 MILLION puppies bred in mills each year, and as long as “we the people” allow this, it will continue.

Puppy mill dog breeding operations may be large or small, but they all put profit over the health and well-being of the dogs. Breeding dogs spend their lives in dirty, unsanitary confinement and it is common to see wire cages stacked on top of each other, often without any protection from heat, cold, or inclement weather . They receive little or no veterinary care, and the bottom line is all about profits.

The two primary sales outlets for puppies bred in mills are pet stores and the internet. Almost ALL puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills, and pet stores are a primary sales outlet for puppy mills, and they are shipped all over the country in conditions that often force the dogs to go up to 12 hours without food or water, and many puppies do not survive.

“We the people” are the key to stopping this cycle of cruelty, and wringing our hands and moaning that “we feel so bad” about the situation, is not enough to stop these inhumane atrocities.

Until we initiate serious intervention, the situation will continue. Pledge to end this cycle of cruelty by choosing to not buy a pet from any pet store or internet site, refusing to buy supplies from any store or site that sells puppies, and supporting federal and local laws to stop the operation of puppy mills.

“The Life Of A Puppy Mill Dog” is not pleasant reading, but it presents an accurate account of what we allow to continue in those despicable places.

“Some humans in this world have decided with the worst selfishness and greed, that my fate shall forever be in a cage, and to just stay alive, I must breed. I will never be a pet, only a breeding machine. “Please release me from this prison,” I bark in vain, but the miller does not care that we live out each day in desperate pain. The truth is that I am the miller’s property…I never get to play or become a pet, and when I am sick or injured, the miller doesn’t bother to call a vet. Again and again the miller comes to collect my pups, so tiny and sickly with eyes and nose runny. I bark, “It’s too early …they need a mother’s care, but he ignores me, knowing that younger pups bring more money. My feet are always bleeding, cut by the wire floor, and my legs are crippled from never being allowed to run. In the winter I shiver; left out in the snow and rain. In the summer, the hot rays beat down from the sun. I am missing many teeth, the rest cracked and broken. My matted fur is falling out in clumps from a terrible rash, and the world is getting dark because an untreated infection that is making me blind, but the miller does not care as I can still bring in cash. As time goes by, I feel my body grow weaker each day. Ragged and worn, I look like I’m twelve though I’m only five. My uterus is swollen and infected from too many litters, and to breed lots of puppies is the sole reason I am kept alive. I can no longer make a product for him to see, so I am now a burden and waste of money to feed. I await my fate in silence….I’ve seen it all before. Now he is yanking me by the rope he uses as a lead. He drags me, as my legs are useless, to the weeds behind the mill and ties me to a tree with a rusty old chain. He walks away without a backward glance, leaving me to face death which will offer release from a lifetime of pain. There are thousands of mill dogs out there with lives as sad as mine. Please stop the puppy mill business. You do have an option; Don’t support mills by buying puppies from pet shops or bad breeders. Instead, go to a shelter or rescue and apply for adoption.” –by Petshub.com forum

It is our choices that reveal what we truly are: what we allow, is what will continue.

There is No Charge for Love

Easter is one of the most celebrated occasions in the Western world, a special time of love and joy. For Christians, Easter brings the good news that Christ’s resurrection fulfilled the promises of both the Old Testament and of Jesus Himself during His earthly life, and gives definitive proof of His divine authority. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Christ’s resurrection is an object of faith in that it is a transcendent intervention of God himself in creation and history, and it offers definitive proof of His divine authority, and is a story of unconditional love, freely given.

Not all Easter celebrations focus on the resurrection. Passover is also a holiday about renewal and liberation, and in the minds of many children, the Easter Bunny is second only to Santa Claus. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will be spending over seventeen BILLION dollars for apparel, food, decorations, and especially candy, so we take this opportunity to share basic facts regarding chocolate Easter eggs:

  • Diet tip: Eat an Easter egg before each meal….it will take the edge off your appetite, and that way you will eat less.
  • If you get melted chocolate all over your hands, you are eating it too slowly.
  • If calories are an issue, store them on the top of the fridge. Calories are afraid of heights, and will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.
  • Chocolate has many preservatives. Preservatives make you look younger.

No matter how you celebrate, this time of year is a reminder that life is a constant process of love, hope and renewal, especially needed in these turbulent, uncertain times. “No Charge for Love” is a perfect Easter story, familiar to some of you, but worth repeating.

Good Samaritan Oliver Townsend had rescued a neglected mother dog and her litter of pups, and determined to find a good home for all of the pups. He posted a sign advertising, “Pups for sale to forever homes,” but weeks passed and no good prospects appeared. Late on Easter Sunday, he was outside trimming some bushes when he realized that he was being watched by 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 Easter basket.” He reached deep into his pocket and pulled out a couple crumpled bills and some change, and held them out. “Could I take a look at them?” Mr. Townsend shook his head, thinking that this would 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 directly into the man’s face. “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 sparkled with delight. Suddenly he noticed something else was stirring on the porch. Slowly, another, noticeably smaller pup, appeared, and in a somewhat awkward way, tried to catch up with his siblings.

“I want that one,” the boy said. “I will work for you until he is paid for.” Townsend 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.”

Oliver carefully picked up the little pup, and gently placed him in the boy’s arms. “How much?” asked the youngster. With tears in his eyes, the man answered, “No charge – there is no charge for love.”

May your life be filled with hope, joy, and gentle, wise, wonderful, kind love, today, and all year long.

 

 

A Tribute to Eddie

Ten years ago the TLC Canine Center of Newell, Iowa, assisted Hearts United for Animals in Auburn, Nebraska, with the rescue of 15 dogs from a frightful place housing an irresponsible breeding operation. The horror of rescuing these animals is indescribable…If I had not seen it, I would have not believed it. Puppy mills are a true indictment of man’s greed and inhumanity, and I do not understand why they are allowed to operate, but this a tribute to one of the dogs rescued that day. Eddie went from victim to victor and his story is best told by his loving human, Mary LaHay, President of Iowa Voters for Companion Animals.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share some very sad news, the loss of our beloved Eddie. Many of you know that Eddie was the small white poodle whose photo graced many IVCA flyers and signs, and who served as our loyal “spokespup” for many years.

Eddie was a puppy mill survivor. My husband and I went to Hearts United for Animals in 2008 to find a companion for Ruby, a young dog we had gotten the year before. While all the other dogs in his yard were clamoring for attention, Eddie sat quietly in the back.

For some reasons, we left that day without adopting a dog, but back home, we both remembered that quiet little poodle. The next week we were on our way back to adopt Eddie. At home, we began to understand more about Eddie’s quiet nature, which was less about serenity and more about having his natural behavior derailed by life in a puppy mill. He often sat expressionless, disinclined to play with Ruby, or even move freely around the yard, and he was clearly distrustful of people. At first he seemed to just tolerate my holding him, but gradually he welcomed and even initiated it, and eventually all that lap time opened him up enough for a recognizable dog to emerge.

Every month brought a new breakthrough—a face that lit up with enthusiasm, unexpected play gestures, a range of vocalizations, a persistent nudge with his paw if you stopped rubbing his chest, a dance in front of the treat jar, and a hilarious figure-8 romp around the yard when I got home and let him out the back door. What an amazing example of the emotional resilience that dogs possess, and how the right care and support can help undo damage from years of neglect and mistreatment. In our home Eddie was clearly happy and carefree, enjoying 9 years with us until his age and health issues finally took their toll.

I share this story both to celebrate Eddie’s transformed life, and to explain how watching this dear little boy blossom transformed me also. It’s what compelled me to launch an effort to clean up Iowa puppy mills. For me, Eddie’s life offers proof that production-driven commercial breeders don’t give a fig about the mental and emotional health of their animals. Too many of these breeders are indifferent to the pain they inflict, too many never give a thought to the way they deform the lives of the dogs they hold captive. That needs to change, and the fight we are fighting is the only way that can happen, however elusive our progress might seem at times. We are on a justice train that is sometimes slow, but always headed in the right direction, so please stay on board for the trip.

Most of you have dogs at home who brighten your lives like Eddie did mine, and I hope you take time every day to actively cherish them. My sweet little boy is gone, replaced now by a profound sadness but also genuine gratitude. We will miss him for a long, long time, and remember him forever. Eddie deserves a legacy that makes a difference for other dogs like him, and I want to see that he gets it.”

We encourage you to do some research on puppy mils, irresponsible breeders, and pet store puppies. What you learn will shock you, and hopefully motivate you to become actively involved, and if you wish to give a donation in memory of Eddie, please contact Mary LaHay at mlahay@iowacva.org. If you would like to know more about Hearts United for Animals where thousands of puppy mill dogs are rehabilitated and re-homed, contact carol@hua.org.

THE LIFE OF PUPPY MILL DOGS: UNSEEN THEY SUFFER; UNHEARD THEY CRY; IN LONELINESS THEY LINGER; IN AGONY THEY DIE.

Love Changes Everything

There is power in love! Angie Karen asserts, “Love conquers all…life without love is nothing.” This is true in the animal world, as well as the human arena. Sadly, for one excuse or another, there are thousands of dogs that experience little love.

Puppy mills house thousands of dogs where they are held captive in appalling conditions, and love is seldom shown. The worst part of this is that puppy mills are legal; this needs to change, and that means that laws must change, but getting a law changed isn’t easy, especially one that provides better protection for companion animals. The agribusiness lobby is afraid that any animal welfare laws will trickle down and cause problems for the livestock industry. Iowa has tried repeatedly, and failed. Other Midwestern states face the same opposition, but the public outcry is getting louder, and hopefully legislators will eventually listen!

Puppy mills aren’t the only places where there is little love shown to companion animals. Often a puppy is an impulse purchase and when the newness wears off, the result is neglect. There are neglected dogs everywhere. Look around and you will find them in your own neighborhood…once loved, then almost forgotten.

“I wish someone would tell me what it is I have done wrong, and why I must be chained outside and left alone for so long. They seemed so glad to have me when I came here as a pup. There were so many things we’d do while I was growing up. My humans said they’d train me as a companion and a friend, and that I would never be alone again. The children said they’d feed me, and brush me every day; they’d play with me and walk me if I would only stay. But now, no one has time. They complain I shed and am not even allowed inside the house to be fed. The children never walk me; they always say, “Not now.” I do wish I could please them – can someone tell me how? All I had, you see, was love. I wish someone would explain just whey they said they wanted mine and then left me on a chain.”

Many dogs must necessarily be left alone during the work day, and when the humans return home, it is easy to overlook the dog’s needs. So little time, so many things to do, but a dog is a social creature, and just a human’s presence in the home is not the same as actively engaging in interaction with your dog. Perplexed caregivers often don’t understand why their dogs could be bored when they are with them several hours every day. Just being there is not the same as “being there” for them, and doesn’t mean they are getting the necessary mental and physical stimulation they need. The more time you spend “being there FOR THEM”, the more you will appreciate and love them. Enjoy their unconditional love:

When a dog offers you his heart, accept it with a smile

For his love will last a lifetime, which is such a little while.

When a dog offers you her heart, take it gladly and with pride

For she will be a faithful friend, ever by your side.

When you’re sad, he’ll comfort you and kiss away each tear;

He may even wake you in the morning with a cold nose in your ear.

No matter what you ever do, he will always love you.

When a dog offers you her heart, accept it with a smile

For her love will last a lifetime which is such a little while. 

“Love changes everything; how you live and how you die.

Love can make the summer fly, or a night seem like a lifetime….

Love will turn your world around, and that world will last forever.

Nothing in the world will ever be the same”

(From Aspects of Love: Andrew Lloyd Weber)

Just One Litter!

We have a dog overpopulation crisis! Too many dogs for too few homes. There are many reasons for this sad fact, including accidental mating, purposeful breeding by those hoping to sell the puppies, and personal reasons such as “I want my children to experience the miracle of birth” and “I just don’t think it is natural to fix my dog.”

Simple arithmetic illustrates how “just one litter” contributes to our surplus of dogs. Two dogs mate: six puppies are born. The six offspring reproduce in a year, and are responsible for six more puppies each – a litter of six becomes 36. In ten years, just one unaltered dog can be responsible for more than 4,000 births.

Pet shops and puppy mills are major causes of dog overpopulation. Thousands of puppy mills are still operating, with Iowa rated as the second worst in the entire nation. Most of the puppies in these assembly line mills are housed in cramped, make-shift cages, often outdoors in freezing winter and blistering summer heat. They receive inadequate care in these horrendous places, and are shipped all over the country to pet stores that claim the pups come from home environments of responsible breeders. Not true! Statistics repeatedly confirm that almost all pet store dogs are products of puppy mills, and purchasing a purebred dog registered with the American Kennel Club does not guarantee a high quality animal. In fact, many AKC registered dogs are from puppy mills. (If you are unfamiliar with the horrors of puppy mills, please google “puppy mills.” You will be appalled at what you find!)

There is only one way to solve the overpopulation: we must not allow so many animals to be born. To do this, we must educate the public as to the value of altering our pets, and enforce leash laws, mandatory licensing, and other ordinances relating to animal caregivers. Until our legislators take action to clean up our puppy mill mess, our companion animals will suffer.

Just a few of the myths that we need to dispel:

  • It is a myth that it is cruel to alter an animal…the discomfort suffered from the surgery is small compared to the suffering and deaths caused by uncurbed breeding. Altering a pet also lessens the risk of diseases such as mammary and testicular cancer.
  • It is a myth that a female dog should have at least one litter before being spayed, or that spaying (or neutering a male dog) will “ruin a good dog.”
  • It is a myth that dogs show negative behavioral problems and “get fat” after sterilization. Dogs, just like humans, get fat because they eat too much or get too little exercise.
  • It is a myth that since males don’t give birth, they don’t need to be neutered. “It takes two to tango” and while a female has only one litter at a time, males can impregnate many females each day.
  • It is a myth that spaying or neutering is expensive. While the initial cost of the surgery may seem high, it’s a real bargain compared with the cost of raising a litter of puppies.

Thousands of homeless dogs offer this prayer:

“Dear God,

Please send us someone who will care. We’re tired of running; and sick with despair. Our bodies ache, so racked with pain, and nobody cares. We are outcasts, and with bodies aching, and rack with pain, we run from place to place. There are so many of us, and most of us are sick: wormy and ridden with fleas, tired and cold, afraid that we will never grow old. We often go days without food or even water. People chase us with sticks and hit us with stones. We are not bad dogs; we have become “victims of man.” Why were we born if no one wanted us? All we want is a human to love, so please ,God, if you find homes for us, we would try our best to please. We would be faithful and true to the last beat of our hearts. Don’t we deserve a chance at a good life?”

Bless the animals: they have no voice; they have no choice. It is humans’ responsibility to do what is best for our innocent four-legged friends.

Don’t do what is easy, do what is right!

Iowans Have Had Enough

Animal rescue organizations have been working tirelessly to improve conditions in the horrendous puppy mills thriving throughout the country. This shameful animal welfare problem has been allowed to fester for decades, and as we begin a new year, we implore people to initiate positive action. We are honored to have this week’s Paw Prints column authored by Mary LaHay, President of an Iowa grass roots organization whose sole purpose is to better protect our helpless animals. Please read the piece carefully, and then take appropriate action, whether in Iowa or another state.

“Our organizations, Iowa Friends of Companion Animals (IFCA) and Iowa Voters for Companion Animals (IVCA) have been working hard to get better state level laws to protect the more than 15,000 adult dogs in these USDA-licensed kennels, but to no avail. We’ve backed up our calls for action with reams of date—USDA data showing that way too many dogs are suffering and dying: dogs fighting to the death with incompatible cage mates, dogs suffering from illness or injury with no veterinary treatment. The list goes on and on. We have records from the USDA’s own inspections that 26 incidences of “direct” violations like these have occurred in 2016. Our analysis of USDA data show that, year after year, upwards of 50% of Iowa breeders are cited for violations to the federal Animal Welfare Act, but these citations seldom result in penalties. And when they do, a breeder only need ignore it and eventually it’ll be swept under a rug. (DM Register: 11/13/2016—Why won’t the USDA shut down these serial animal abusers?)

What we also provide is information about the huge consumer protection issue in this industry. People all across the country end up with sick and dying puppies exported from Iowa. They end up costing many an unwitting customer tens of thousands of dollars in veterinary bills, often ending up with broken hearts and broken bank accounts. One unfortunate New York state family suffered the first-ever confirmed transmission of a terrible zoonotic disease from an Iowa bred-puppy. Their three year old child was hospitalized and diagnosed with canine brucellosis as a result.

In the Iowa Capitol we’re stymied by the industry’s professional organization—Iowa Pet Breeders Association, but upon closer examination, the name is misleading. In fact, only half of the approximate 150 members of the association are breeders. The remaining members represent other ancillary special interest groups that stand to benefit from the status quo: pet stores such as Petland, puppy distribution companies such as Hunte Corporation, dog transport companies, kennel supply companies, veterinary supply companies and clinics – the majority of them don’t even reside in Iowa.

We, on the other hand, have 8300+Iowans who are members of our organization, Iowans who want to see increased oversight of this industry. Hundreds of these members have contacted Iowa legislators lobbying in support of better oversight. Hundreds have taken time out of their busy lives to join us on our annual Lobby Day for Dogs. (iowavca.org/lobby-day-2017) to speak with their legislators face-to-face to ask for better oversight. While many legislators “get it”, the unreasonable fears of Iowa’s agriculture result in the majority of them digging in their heels and saying NO to protecting the dogs, fearing it is all a ruse with the end in sight of affecting agriculture.

This is no ruse. It is a shameful fact. And those of us who care have had enough. We’ve had enough of being accused of fabricating data. We’ve had enough of being dismissed as “animal rights zealots”; we’ve had enough of legislators who work to oppose us in their effort to protect family members who participate in and benefit from this despicable industry.

Based on some of the decisions thus far, it appears the new administration won’t be empathetic to this issue. We won’t see a kinder and gentler USDA any time soon, so the urgency to address this on a state level is more important than ever. If this mistreatment of helpless animals matters to you, if you think Iowa can do better, please reach out to your state legislators, and governor and lieutenant governor, and tell them so. The dogs need each of us to reach out to all these leaders: FOR THE DOGS.”

Only by working together is it possible to change laws, and stop the incredibly cruel and inhumane conditions that flourish in puppy mills. To receive more information, or receive regular e-mail alerts, sign up at www.iowavca.org or contact Mary LaHay at mlahay@iowavca.org or by phone at 515-556-5949. If you still are not convinced, I challenge you to google, “Puppy Mill Photos.”

Remember that what you allow, is what will continue: BE A VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS

If you possess these you are rich!

“The bottom line is always money” is an oft-used phrase, but in the final analysis, money cannot make a person rich..or happy. True happiness includes faith, family, and friends, both two-legs and four legs A dog lover-friend recently sent us a face book post by James Shepard sharing a story of riches and happiness , totally unrelated to money:

“I was twelve years old when I met Max. School was out for the summer, and I had been pestering my parents relentlessly for a dog, and they eventually succumbed to my constant pleading. We went to the local shelter and I was overwhelmed by the many dogs vying for attention as we walked through the facility. How could I possibly choose from all those dogs?

Then I saw Max. He lay motionless in the corner of his cage. As I approached, he briefly lifted his head. and looked at me with sad, brown eyes. I paused, calling to him softly, and he slowly stood up, and hesitantly took a few steps toward the front of the enclosure. I immediately knew that Max was the one.

To the casual observer, Max was probably nothing more than a scruffy mongrel, but to me he was the most beautiful dog ever born. We spent hours that summer, happily exploring the creek which flowed nearby. I would throw sticks, and Max would retrieve them, tail wagging wildly. . Sometimes we’s just sit and watch the clouds float by, happy with each other’s company. Max listened intently as I shared my innermost hopes and dreams.

A deluge of rain came unexpectedly that year, and my parents instructed me to not go down to the creek until the water returned to its normal level, but ignoring their warning, Max and I were soon walking toward the creek , which had become a seething swell of roaring water rushing ferociously to the whitewater below. As I edged closer to the swirling torrent, not noticing the jagged rock protruding from the undergrowth, I tripped and was enveloped in the powerful grip of the current. In desperation I tried to swim, but found myself being propelled further down the creek.

I could hear the frenzied barking of Max as he ran alongside the creek in pursuit. Panic set in as I realized I was drowning. I began to pray, and suddenly I felt something touch me. It was Max. He had jumped into the frothing cauldron and was now swimming next to me. I placed my arm around his back and clutched his fur as he pulled me to safety.

It was years before I told my parents about my close encounter with death that day, and Max never told them either. The years passed, and my youth unfolded into manhood, but Max and I remained inseparable. On the morning he died, I cried and offered a prayer of gratitude for our time together. He had not only been my best friend and companion, but a giver of life…a life I was determined would be lived to the fullest, always cherishing the loving memory of a dog named Max.”

Max was an adopted dog…if you are thinking of adding a dog to your family, please consider adoption. A shelter pet is more than one in a million—he’s one in 3 million. That’s the number of adoptable dogs and cats who are still euthanized each year in the United States, simply because there aren’t enough people adopting. Almost all dogs at pet stores and on the internet are puppy mill dogs that are housed in shockingly poor conditions with improper medical care, where the mothers are kept in cages to be bred over and over for years, without human companionship. Don’t support puppy mills. Please adopt, don’t shop. You will change the whole world for a homeless animal, and you will get the best friend imaginable. What could be better than that?

Faith, family, friends…if you possess these, you are rich. Enjoy your wealth!

 

We are Their Voice

Did you know that April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month? According to the American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, an animal is abused or beaten every ten seconds, and while no one enjoys hearing stories about the horrid lives some beautiful animals endure, there are plenty of things we can all do without needing tissues.

Get to know and look out for the animals in your own neighborhood. By being aware, you are more likely to notice possible indicators of neglect. If you suspect neglect or abuse, contact your local animal control agency or the police department. Without phone calls from concerned citizens, busy law enforcement may be unaware of problems . Provide as much information as possible…it helps to write down the type of cruelty you witnessed, who was involved, the date, and place.

Set a good example for others. If you have companion animals, consistently show them the love and good care they deserve. Dogs are pack animals and need more than just food, water, and adequate shelter. Make them part of your family… socialization and companionship are important. Be sure to have your own animals spayed or neutered, and raise awareness to the problem of overpopulation, caused primarily by accidental breeding.

Talk to your kids about the importance of treating animals with respect and kindness. Children should understand that animals are not toys, but living creatures with the ability to feel pain, hunger and fear. Respecting animals needs to start young because violence toward animals often escalates to violence toward people later in life.

Support your local shelter or animal rescue organization. Supplies and monetary donations are always welcomed, but there are many other forms of volunteering, including office work, cleaning, socializing, and walking dogs. If you volunteer just one hour each week for an entire year to walk dogs, you’ve spent 52 hours enhancing the lives of needy dogs.

Puppy mills are a horrible reality of the pet industry. Refuse to buy pets or supplies from any store or website that sells animals. While you may think buying a puppy mill pet is saving an animal, it is only encouraging those mills to stay in business by keeping the demand for their business.. Adopt only from shelters or buy from reputable breeders and encourage your friends to do the same.

It is imperative that our politicians support animal protection legislation. The state of Iowa has the second largest number of licensed commercial dog-breeders in the entire country, and according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Iowa ranks 49th out of 50 states regarding the quality of laws aimed at preventing animal neglect and abuse, or punishing those who commit violent acts against animals. Better laws are needed to protect Iowa’s companion animals. Other states have enacted changes that improve the quality of life for the thousands of animals who continue to suffer needlessly. New Jersey governor, Chris Christie toughened penalties for animal cruelty in 2013. “Patrick’s Law” was named after an emaciated pit bull found after it had been thrown down a trash chute. Almost all states have passed legislation with punishment for failing to provide an animal with basic necessities, and fines for animal abuse were increased. We all feel bad about Iowa’s puppy mill dogs…and want to help, right? Iowa Voters for Companion Animals, a grassroots, Iowa based, and Iowa focused, all volunteer organization, is working hard to get basic, NON-radical protections for dogs in Iowa’s commercial breeding kennels, and because a bill is being considered during this legislative session, they encourage everyone to write to their current representatives and ask them to support this bill. IVCA sends out periodic progress reports and “Calls to Action” emails with specific and easy-to- understood information. PLEASE signup to join Iowa’s grassroots efforts…Just click on http://www.iowavca.org and become a voice for the voiceless dogs who have no choice. WE have voices and WE have the power to make life better for Iowa dogs. Together we can make a difference!

An Easter Lesson

Easter is a special, holy day, and this story by Chris…no last name given. And I can’t even verify its accuracy…. but it illustrates how sometimes a simple experience teaches us lessons we need to know:

I want to tell you about an Easter event that changed my life many years ago. It reminds me that things are not always what they seem and that angels come in many packages. As our custom, my wife and I donned our new Easter finery and went to Sunrise Service, an uplifting celebration of the resurrection of Christ. Our new young minster read Scriptures on the Resurrection and a passage on faith, hope and love, with the emphasis on love. He spoke of the Lord’s sacrificial love to mankind, and then posed a direct question: “What do YOU do in appreciation of that love?” I felt he was speaking directly to me as he paraphrased William Penn’s admonition, “You will pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that you can do, or any kindness or love that you can show, do it NOW… Don’t defer or neglect it…You may not pass this way again.”

Trying to put the message out of my mind, I suggested to my wife that we stop on our way home at a local convenience store to get coffee. Carefully juggling the coffees (and a couple rolls), I got back into our car, but before I started it, we both noticed a man standing in front of the building. His clothes were tattered and worn. In fact he was tattered and worn and it appeared that he had gone in and gotten himself something warm to drink, since it was a chilly morning. My wife remarked that he probably didn’t have enough money to get anything to eat…probably true, but the world was filled with unfortunate people, probably primarily because of their lack of motivation.

The next thing I noticed was a dog hobbling up to the front of the building. Being a dog lover, I noticed that she was terribly thin… You could tell that she had been feeding puppies, and again my wife remarked that she was really undernourished, and how sad the situation was, that if she didn’t eat something soon, she and her puppies probably would not make it.

We just sat there and looked at her. We noticed that people walked around her, almost as if she was not even there. . We felt bad, but rationalized that the world was filled with needy dogs. We did nothing.

But someone did. The homeless man, whom we thought did not buy himself anything to eat, went back into the store. He came out with a hot dog, knelt down by the dog, and offered her the food. An elderly gentleman, watching from the doorway, spoke directly to the fellow. “It looks to me like both you and that dog need more than a hot dog. Let’s you and me go back into the store and while we eat a good meal, I will call someone who can help that poor mother.”

Suddenly the true meaning of Easter was made real to me….….it had taken a homeless man , a starving dog, and a compassionate stranger, to teach me a lesson in faith, hope, and love that has remained with me as I pass through this world but once.

We at the TLC hope all those, both two legged and four legged, had a very Happy Easter.

Resolutions for a New Year

Another year has passed… this new year is a 366 page book of blank pages. What goes on those pages is up to each one of us. As we make traditional resolutions involving personal growth, physical fitness, and financial stability, it is also a great opportunity to take stock of our dog’s needs and make sure that his New Year is also a healthy and happy one. Need some specific ideas?

  • Most of us could benefit from dropping a few pounds, and the same is probably true of your faithful four-footed companion. Estimates indicate that half of all companion animals in the U.S. are overweight—a condition that can lead to major health concerns. Take a look at your dog from above…he should have a waist—a narrowing of his torso behind the ribcage, and in front of his hips. When you view him from the side, his tummy should tuck up behind his ribcage and in front of his hips. Finally, if you place your thumbs on his spine, spread your hands, and run them down his sides from shoulder to tail, you should be able to feel his ribs without pressing too hard. If any of these tests fail, your dog is probably overweight! A better exercise program, and fewer treats may be all that is needed!
  • Annual exams are important for both humans and canines. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to make an appointment for your dog to receive a thorough checkup from a veterinarian. Exams are important because animals can’t tell us when something is abnormal, and by the time they display signs of illness, the problem might be advanced, making effective treatment more difficult. Don’t wait for a crisis to motivate you to schedule a pet exam.
  • Update contact information to ensure that your friend has a well-fitting collar with current information listed on the tag, just in case you and he become separated. Don’t forget to update microchip information too!
  • Training is not a luxury; appropriate training makes life with your dog more enjoyable for everyone. Yelling, or physically hitting our dogs is never productive. Dogs bark, dig, or chew, because what’s what dogs do, and because they have not been taught behavior that we consider polite, and refocused their energies. Our obligation is to teach them what we want them to do with consistent, proactive instruction (and a few tasty treats!) Good dogs are dogs that are TAUGHT good habits! Lifelong training keeps the bond with your dog strong, and helps you to continually build on your relationship.
  • Providing the right food, the right housing, adequate water, and comfortable shelter are basics, but sharing our lives with our animals is a privilege, and they depend on us to provide them more than just essentials if they are to thrive. They require toys, attention, and, just like the two legged toddlers, need love and attention on a daily basis. Interaction with an animal you love provides wellness benefits for you– emotional calming, mood enhancing, lowered blood pressure– as well as your animal friend. It’s a win-win situation.
  • Volunteering at your local animal shelter will not only enhance animals’ lives, it can make your life more enjoyable. Policies vary from shelter to shelter, but most shelters are thankful for volunteers, so contact your area shelter to see how you can help. It’s another win-win situation.

If you do something every day in 2016 to make life better for a needy dog… just a small act of kindness… at the end of the year you will have made 366 canines happy, or brightened their lives, and will also bring added joy into your own life! HAPPY NEW LEAP YEAR!