Monday, October 10, 2016

The Heartbreak of Losing a Beloved Pet #saveasato #animalabuse #lossofpet #dogrescue

Anyone with a beloved pet knows that one day we will lose them. The thought is so painful that we push it to the back of our minds and try not to think about it until we are forced to. That day came for me on July 15th, 2016.

It has been a very challenging year for my family filled with uncertainty and big changes in our life. We were determined to weather the storm with a positive attitude and I am proud to say that we did pretty well with this. Most importantly, we role modeled for our children that when life knocks you down you get back up and keep going. Then came the day that I knew would inevitably arrive and that nothing could prepare me for the heartbreak.

While we were in Maine for the summer, our dog Phoebe began having breathing problems that progressed quickly. The vet was a 15-20 minute drive away and it seemed likely that we wouldn't be able to get her there fast enough. My twenty-one year old daughter was with me and together we comforted Phoebe as she left this world to cross the Rainbow Bridge. Once she passed, we lay down beside her and cried. The loss was devastating but I am grateful that Phoebe died in a place she loved so much and with family beside her rather than on a table at the vet's office.

It has been nearly three months since Phoebe's passing and I still can hardly think of her without my eyes filling with tears. She was such a blessing in our lives! But there are things that bring me comfort. Phoebe was a rescue dog. She had been abandoned on the street as a puppy so her odds of surviving were not good. Perhaps the novelty of a new puppy had worn off. Perhaps her owner had little tolerance for accidents in the house, or maybe feeding and filling the water bowl became just another chore. Whatever the reason, I am of the opinion that her owners had no business getting a dog in the first place. Pets are not disposable and before adopting, one must seriously consider whether they are willing and able to provide for all the animal's needs for its entire life. This includes being home often enough to let it outside to relieve itself, being responsible for meeting its need for food, water, exercise, and affection, and committing to the cost of veterinary care.

Whatever the reason this puppy was dumped and left to try to survive on her own, their loss was our gain. Phoebe was rescued from the streets of Puerto Rico by Save a Sato, a very modest shelter run on a shoestring budget but with plenty of love to give. After she was fattened up to a healthy weight she was sent to DAWS in Danbury, Connecticut where, when she was about nine months-old, my family adopted her as soon as she was made available. Without Save a Sato, Phoebe most likely would have died from starvation, illness, or being hit by a car. But she was one of the small number of street dogs in Puerto Rico that was rescued and lived the rest of her life as a cherished family member. It helps ease my sadness that Phoebe knew she was loved and was treated with kindness from the first day we adopted her until she passed away at nearly fifteen years-old. We were blessed to have had such a loving companion and I thank Save a Sato with all my heart for giving her the opportunity to live a long, happy life.

So to Gloria, Lucy, Penélope, Ana, Leilani, and everyone else at Save a Sato who gives so much of their time to rescue street dogs from a life of misery and often abuse: Mil gracias. Para mí, Uds. son santas. ¡Qué Diós las bendiga siempre!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

SeaWorld Bites!

A cardinal rule of blogging is to post on a regular basis... and often. When I started my blog I knew I wouldn't be following that rule because I want to post only when I have the time to put into writing something I consider worth your time to read.

Most of my previous blog posts have been about dogs. I have always felt a deep connection to them and most of my hands-on volunteer work is with dogs. But this doesn't take away from the love I have for all #animals and my passionate belief that every living creature deserves to be treated with compassion.

People who use animals to make money regardless of the suffering that it may cause the animal are the epitome of greed and selfishness. Some of the people who do this even claim that the animals are happy. An example that immediately comes to mind is the orcas at SeaWorld. Orcas living their entire lives in a small cement pool instead of the ocean is comparable to a person living their life in prison... but without friends, TV, a phone, a computer, or any other form of entertainment. Courts use prison as a punishment for serious crimes. It is hoped that by being deprived of their freedom, offenders will be more likely to abide by the law in the future. But orcas held in captivity are there for one reason only: someone is making a lot of money at their expense. And unlike most criminals, orcas don't get released once their time is served or they are paroled.

#SeaWorld continues to claim their orcas are healthy but the evidence I have read implies otherwise. Consider this article on, a website for animal lovers ( In response to the many accusations that #SeaWorld mistreats its animals, CEO Joel Manby says, "The facts are on our side." The article addresses some of the false statements #SeaWorld makes in its efforts to hide the truth. I will only mention a few but I hope you will read the article for yourself.

According to, "Last year, SeaWorld tweeted a picture of a mother orca and her calf to illustrate their respect for the 'mother-calf bond'. They neglected to mention that the baby in the picture had been shipped off to Spain." John Hargrove, a former SeaWorld trainer who has since become an advocate against the corporation, states that he knows of at least 19 calves that have been separated from their mothers while still dependent. In the wild, it is not uncommon for orcas to spend decades alongside their mothers. In response to SeaWorld's claim that it has never used food deprivation to make its orcas perform, John Jett, another former SeaWorld trainer counters, "I have both seen and have been a part of depriving whales of food too many times to count."

In April 2015 Joyce Kuhl filed a class action lawsuit against SeaWorld in Florida for misleading the public by claiming their orcas are "healthy and thriving". The lawsuit also states, “captive orcas are also subject to drugging by #SeaWorld personnel with antipsychotic and psychoactive drugs, including benzodiazepines such as Diazepam (generic Valium), which are given to calm the captive #orcas which react against their conditions of confinement.” ( Yet Manby continues to assert that their orcas are "healthy and happy". I'm sure he doesn't want the public aware of the drugs because the fact the orcas need these drugs makes it very clear that they are neither happy nor healthy.

So how likely is it that SeaWorld will stop breeding orcas and let them live out the remainder of their lives at a marine #sanctuary simply because it is the right thing to do? Highly unlikely as long as they can make a profit. But there is hope. After years of mounting pressure, #RinglingBrothers has succumbed to public protest. #FeldEntertainment, Ringling’s parent company, said they are “adapting” to the changing climate and “mood shift” among their customers. By 2018, all of their traveling #elephants will be retired to a conservation center in Florida. When we buy tickets to go to #SeaWorld, a #circus with animal acts, or any other organization that makes a profit from the suffering of animals, we are funding this abuse. Ringling Brothers didn't make this decision because it was the right thing to do but rather because it was taking a toll on their image.

As people who want to put an end to #animalabuse we must speak up. Speak up to SeaWorld, speak up to pet stores that support the #puppymill industry by selling puppies, speak up to any organization that causes animals to suffer. But especially speak up to your local, state, and federal representatives. They need to know there has been a "mood shift" and that if they don't step up to #protectanimals, we won't we be stepping up for them on election day. Speak up!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Consumer Fraud at Pet Shops

If you love animals you probably would never buy a puppy from a pet store because you refuse to support the commercial dog breeding industry (otherwise known as puppy mills). Dogs living at puppy mills are "protected" under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) but the standards required are simply minimal standards for survival. One example of how low these standards are is with regard to living space. The requirement is that there be at least six inches on each side of the dog and above its head. This is akin to a beagle spending its life in a cage the size of a dishwasher! Will it survive? Probably. Will its life be in any way comfortable? Absolutely not.

According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), "Inspection records obtained by The HSUS show that many USDA-licensed breeders get away with repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act. These violators are rarely fined and their licenses are rarely suspended. Facilities with long histories of repeated violations for basic care conditions are often allowed to renew their licenses again and again." The standards are already dismally low so allowing chronic violators to continue operating makes a mockery of the AWA. If the USDA truly enforced the Animal Welfare Act there would be a lot of puppy mills shut down and the ones that remain in operation would be more compliant.

Please watch this three minute video by Best Friends Animal Society ( to gain a clearer understanding of what life is like for dogs living in puppy mills and why so many puppies sold in pet stores are genetically inferior and often have illnesses that are not immediately apparent.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Angels Among Us

Those who love animals know how much happiness they can bring. Nala, the little poodle in the video, brings it on a grand scale. Watch the short video below and perhaps you will agree that this little dog was heaven sent.

#animaltherapy #dogtherapy #nursinghome #rescuedogs #animalrescue #poodle #Nala #pettherapy

Monday, July 13, 2015

Inside a Puppy Mill

Many of you have probably heard that you should never buy a puppy from a pet shop because it is very likely that it came from a puppy mill. The same is true about buying a puppy online or off Craigslist. When you think about it, this really shouldn't come as a surprise. Would a person who cares even a little bit about their puppies sell them to a stranger or pet shop, knowing full well that the pet shop will hand them over to anybody who will pay the sticker price? No way! And let the buyer beware: Dogs from puppy mills usually come with health problems (which may not be evident at the time of the sale) due to the substandard conditions they have lived in since birth.

One of the problems with puppy mills is that they are businesses in which animals are the commodity. Like all other businesses, the objective is to make money. In order to keep the profit margin as high as possible, the mill owners must keep the costs down. This is done by putting as little money into the dogs as possible. They receive low quality food, little (if any) veterinary care, inadequate housing, and often filthy conditions, all of which contribute to health issues.

Puppies from puppy mills will often be genetically inferior because quality pups are not the priority-- profit is. If you are set on a specific breed, you should buy directly from a reputable breeder (or better yet, contact a breed-specific rescue organization). A reputable breeder will let you come to their property and see not only the puppies but the puppies' mother (and the father, if it is on site). The breeder will be proud of their dogs and the conditions in which they are raised. If you are denied your request to see the puppies with their mother in the facility in which they were raised, the smartest thing you can do is turn around and walk away. Here is a tip that I consider to be common sense: A reputable breeder doesn't have a lot of breeding females. Who can provide clean food and water and a clean living environment to all those dogs and their puppies? Who has the time to socialize all the puppies so they will be used to interacting with people? The more dogs at the facility, the less attention each one will get and needs will go unmet.

The female breeding stock in puppy mills have a very sad existence. They are bred every heat cycle and have litter after litter until their bodies wear out. When they can no longer produce puppies (i.e. profit), they are no longer useful and many are killed. When you buy a puppy from a pet shop, the internet, or Craigslist, you are most likely keeping a puppy mill in business and condemning these breeder dogs to a life of misery.

By working together to spread the word about the origins of most puppies in pet shops and those available to buy online, I believe that in time we can put an end to the puppy mill industry.

#puppymill #puppymillraid #craigslist #petshop #petstore #puppiesforsale

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

HSUS Horrible Hundred 2015: The Wall of Shame

There are estimated to be over 10,000 puppy mills in the United States. Missouri and Kansas take the prize once again in the Humane Society of the United States' (HSUS) Horrible Hundred 2015 report on some of the worst puppy mills in the country. According to the report, for three years running these two states have had the highest number of problem puppy mills, with 23 in Missouri and 16 in Kansas. Below is a sampling of what can be found in the report:

Quoting from page 17 of the report: "Mary Foster and Cathy Griesbauer, Country Pets- Montgomery City, MO: Massive Puppy Mill Has More Than 1,000 Dogs; Received Official Warning From USDA For Failure To Provide Medical Care To Ten Dogs. Country Pets is one of the most massive, substandard puppy mills in the country, with more than 1,000 dogs. It has been repeatedly cited by the USDA for multiple problems at the facility, including failure to let inspectors in on multiple occasions, and health, safety and sanitation issues."

Page thirteen shows: "Marilyn Soukup, Wilson, KS- Unlawfully failed to let inspectors in for ten different visits since 2011." The report goes on to say "On the occasions the inspectors were able to access the facility between 2011 and 2015, Soukup was cited at every USDA inspection for multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act" and "During her most recent USDA inspection in April 2015, eleven different violations were found, mostly related to unsafe housing and unsanitary conditions."

Why would anyone buy puppies born and raised in such unhealthy conditions? Because when they see the freshly-bathed and groomed puppies in pet store windows and look into those pleading eyes, they don't realize that most puppies sold in pet shops come from puppy mills.

What about buying puppies on the internet? As an example, I encourage you to go to the website of Heaven's Gate Kennels in Georgia at The first thing I notice is two awards, one of which was given by To earn the award bestowed upon Heaven's Gate, it simply says, "Please fill in the form below as [sic] and you will win the award." It goes on to say that people who see it "will understand that you take great care in the breeding of your dogs." Wow.

The owner of the kennel writes, "Being a breeder is my life's calling that I have pursued since I was a little girl. I am so blessed to be able to fulfill my dream of caring and nurturing God's creatures all the while, bringing joy, happiness, and a little bit of God's love into your life in the form of 4 furry legs and a wet nose!" The site also states "We have a reputation of excellence and quality companion animals."

The first time I heard of Heaven's Gate Kennels was in HSUS' Horrible Hundred 2015 report. Following her name and the name of the kennel is the headline "Owner Charged With Animal Cruelty After Botched Do-It-Yourself Surgeries On Puppies' Tails". The entry goes on to say that the Georgia Department of Agriculture ordered a "stop sale" order shortly after the charges were filed, which allowed the owner "to sell some animals currently on the premises, but not to breed any more litters." It is important to note that it is unknown if or when the order expired but that HSUS staff noticed that puppies were still being offered for sale on Heaven's Gate's website, it's Facebook page, and on (noted in the report as "a notorious site for unlicensed and questionable breeders"), as of March 2015. The last sentence of this entry says, "It also appeared that (the owner) did not have a USDA license to sell puppies online, even though her page on PuppyFind listed 16 puppies for sale as of April 14, 2015 and offers worldwide shipping." (UPDATE: Today I went to the Heaven's Gate website listed earlier in the article and it is no longer up).

I chose not to include the name of the owner of Heaven's Gate Kennels in this post because I do not feel it is necessary in order to make my point. You can go to the website at the address provided above (or by Googling it like I did) and form your own opinion. I encourage you to go to the HSUS Horrible Hundred 2015 report and perhaps Google a couple of other kennels on the list to see how they present themselves on their websites as well.

You can read the full report of the HSUS Horrible Hundred 2015 by going to the web address below. There are descriptions of dogs suffering in such deplorable conditions is heartbreaking to read. But I hope you WILL read it because once you are aware of how puppy mills are allowed to operate I believe that you, like me, will want to be part of the movement to put an end to this cruel business.

Disclaimer: I have no personal knowledge of Heaven's Gate Kennels. The information presented in this blog post was taken directly from the HSUS Horrible Hundred 2015 report and from the Heaven's Gate website.

#puppymills #HSUSHorribleHundred2015 #HorribleHundred