A Friend of Special Friends Urgently Needs Our Help!

April 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Dear Followers of Special Friends –

One of our own needs our help ASAP! One of our great foster families in Metro Detroit has just been informed that the house they are renting has been sold, and the new owner is requiring them to be out of the house by May 30th!

This family fosters animals for multiple Metro Detroit animal rescue groups and takes on many severe medical and behavioral cases. They currently have fosters from 2 rescue groups in their care, and they, and these wonderful animals, will have nowhere to go unless we can quickly help them find a new residence where animals will be allowed.

The family is seeking a single-family 3-bedroom, 2-bath home of at least 1500 square feet with a nice large, fenced-in yard so the animals will have plenty of room for running and playing in a safe environment. They are open to a larger home if it can be found at an affordable price (who wouldn’t want more room?!). They obviously need to live in a community that does not have breed bans, with neighbors that will be accepting of the fact that they care for animals (though animals in their care are always taught to be very well behaved!).

Because of the short notice of the move, the family needs to find a home where they can rent, or rent-to-own, or get a land-contract for purchase. They are open to considering all areas of Metro Detroit, including the city itself in areas deemed safe and where city services are still being provided. They are particularly interested in exploring possible opportunities in Boston-Edison and Indian Village areas of Detroit, as well as many of the Metro Detroit suburbs. And they don’t mind if it needs a bit of work, but it obviously must be livable in its current state so they can quickly move in.

If you know of a realtor who can help the family with their specific needs, or a home that meets their needs that is currently available, we would appreciate you sending us the information at HelpOurFosterFamily@gmail.com ASAP. We will pass the information along to them.

Please help our Special Friends foster family find a new home so they can continue their good work of helping these wonderful animals who so desparately need them!

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Ace – Mourn Him and Make Him the Impetus for Change in Metro Detroit!

November 11, 2011 2 comments

This essay below from the Michigan Human Society eloquently mourns the passing of Ace – a stray dog now known to most of the Metro Detroit community due to the extensive media coverage this story has received locally.  However, personally, I’m having a difficult time being as charitable as the Humane Society.  I am ANGRY! I am angry that this dog was forced to endure the treatment and malnourishment he did. I am angry that he was turned over to animal control rather than an animal rescue organization. I am angry that such a ridiculous law exists that would prevent rescue groups from taking responsibility for this animal and giving him the life he so obviously deserved. And I am particularly angry that the Department of Animal Control is actually trying to get away with saying they never saw a court order that was issued to prevent them from putting this poor dog down!

In my opinion, DAC representatives need to at least lose jobs for this – but preferably have legal action brought against them. I cannot imagine that they were unaware of the court order – and I expect an investigation would prove me to be correct.

This whole situation is frankly beyond my comprehension. In my opinion the animal rescue groups and animal lovers in the Metro Detroit community need to come together to change the laws and prevent this horror from ever happening again – maybe then Ace’s life will not have been in vain.  Do you have suggestions for how we can make this happen? If so, please share them as comments.  Let’s make Ace the impetus we need to drive us all into forcing a much-needed change and bettering the lives of animals in Metro Detroit! And in the meantime, let’s all mourn Ace, a dog who deserved so much more in life than he received, but in death may be able to save the lives of many of his fellow animals.

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Ace: Mourning a Tragedy, and Where we go from Here
How we can all help animals like Ace

Yesterday night, we all heard the heartbreaking news that Ace, the emaciated Pit Bull found at a hardware store in Detroit and brought to Detroit Animal Control,  had been euthanized following his state-mandated four-day stray hold, despite the best efforts of MHS and other animal welfare groups. MHS had urged DAC and city officials to have Ace released into our care, but were told that DAC would not budge from their policy to not release pit bulls or pit bull mixes to any organization or individual other than the original owner.  

Still heartbroken, we must now focus on the lessons Ace can teach us. 

  1. It’s important to let Ace remind us that today there are thousands of animals right here in southeastern Michigan who are lost, abused, neglected or simply in need of a new, loving home.  Let’s make a difference for them right now!
      
  2. We can’t underscore enough the importance of making sure our beloved pets have proper identification; starting with collars and tags but also including microchips.  These simple investments can ensure that thousands of dogs and cats each year stay connected to their families and are not lost, alone, confused and suffering on the streets.
      
  3. Ace’s death has shown that it’s now more important than ever for animal welfare organizations, rescues, pet lovers and the community at large to work together for the benefit of the animals. No matter how large or how small, we all have a part to play in making a better future for animals here in our community. This problem is far too large for any one organization – only by working together, and not against each other, can we put an end to stories like these.

Today, as we mourn Ace, let’s make sure that his death was not in vain. Let us make this moment when things changed for the better. Let us say that this was a moment where we as a community stood up to say that no longer will we allow dogs to go hungry. No longer will we allow ours to be a community where dogs are neglected or abused. No longer will we allow our cities to be havens for people who fight dogs for profit.

The Story of Reggie the Dog (will make you cry)

November 21, 2010 11 comments

When I received this story in a friend’s email, I thought I would be reading another entertaining story about a shelter dog who joins a new family and has a happy life; I couldn’t have been more wrong! (But it does have a happy ending – even though you’ll be drowning in tears by the time you get to it!).

If you believe in the power of love between a dog and his human, and value the sacrifice of our service men and women, then this is a must-read story.  I hope you’ll share your comments when you’re done.  Enjoy!

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They told me the big black Lab’s name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen.. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly. I’d only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open.  Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.

But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie’s advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn’t look like “Lab people,” whatever that meant. They must’ve thought I did.

But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes, and a sealed letter from his previous owner. See, Reggie and I didn’t really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too much alike.

For some reason, his stuff (except for the tennis balls — he wouldn’t go anywhere without two stuffed in his mouth) got tossed in with all of my other unpacked boxes.

I guess I didn’t really think he’d need all his old stuff, that I’d get him new things once he settled in. But it became pretty clear pretty soon that he wasn’t going to.

I tried the normal commands the shelter told me he knew, ones like “sit” and “stay” and “come” and “heel,” and he’d follow them – when he felt like it.

He never really seemed to listen when I called his name — sure, he’d look in my direction after the fourth or fifth time I said it, but then he’d just go back to doing whatever.

When I’d ask again, you could almost see him sigh and then grudgingly obey.

This just wasn’t going to work. He chewed a couple shoes and some unpacked boxes.

I was a little too stern with him and he resented it, I could tell. The friction got so bad that I couldn’t wait for the two weeks to be up, and when it was, I was in full-on search mode for my cell phone amid all of my unpacked stuff. I remembered leaving it on the stack of boxes for the guest room, but I also mumbled, rather cynically, that the “damn dog probably hid it on me.”

Finally I found it, but before I could punch up the shelter’s number, I also found his pad and other toys from the shelter…I tossed the pad in Reggie’s
direction and he snuffed it and wagged, some of the most enthusiasm I’d seen since bringing him home. But then I called, “Hey, Reggie, you like that? Come here and I’ll give you a treat.” Instead, he sort of glanced  in my direction — maybe “glared” is more accurate — and then gave a discontented sigh and flopped down …. with his back to me.

Well, that’s not going to do it either, I thought. And I punched the shelter phone number. But I hung up when I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that, too.

“Okay, Reggie,” I said out loud, “let’s see if your previous owner has any advice.”
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To Whoever Gets My Dog:

Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie’s new owner. I’m not even happy writing it. If you’re reading this, it means I just got back from my last car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the shelter.  He knew something was different.

I have packed up his pad and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip, but this time… it’s like he knew something was wrong. And something is wrong…which is why I have to try to make it right. 

So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you. 

First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he’s part
squirrel, the way he hordes them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn’t done it yet.  Doesn’t matter where you throw them, he’ll bound after it, so be careful – really don’t do it by any roads. I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly.

Next, commands. The shelter staff probably already told you, but I’ll go over them again: Reggie knows the obvious ones — “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.” He knows hand signals: “back” to turn around and go back when you put your hand straight up; and “over” if you put your hand out right or left. “Shake” for shaking water off, and “paw” for a high-five. He does “down” when he feels like lying down — I bet you could work on that with him some more. He knows “ball” and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business. Nothing opens his ears like little pieces of hot dog. I trained Reggie with small food treats.

Feeding schedule: twice a day, once about seven in the morning, and again at six in the evening. Regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.

He’s up on his shots. Call the clinic on 9th Street and update his info with yours; they’ll make sure to send you reminders for when he’s due. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet.

Good luck getting him in the car. I don’t know how he knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows.

Finally, give him some time. I’ve never been married, so it’s only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially. Which means that this transition is going to be hard, with him going to live with someone new.

And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you….

His name’s not Reggie. I don’t know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the shelter, I told them his name was Reggie.

He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name. For me to do that, it seemed so final, that handing him over to the shelter was as good as me admitting that I’d never see him again. And if I end up coming back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it means everything’s fine. But if someone else is reading it, well … well it means that his new owner should know his real name. It’ll help you bond with him. Who knows, maybe you’ll even notice a change in his demeanor if he’s been giving you problems. even though, frankly, I’m just writing it for my dog. I couldn’t imagine if I was writing it for a wife and kids and family … but still, Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. His real name is “Tank”, because that is what I drive.

Again, if you’re reading this and you’re from the area, maybe my name has been on the news. I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. See, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’ve left Tank with … and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq , that they make one phone call.. the shelter … in the “event” … to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my colonel is a dog guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he’d do it personally. And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word.

Well, this letter is getting downright depressing.

And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.

That unconditional love from a dog is what I take with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those
who would do terrible things … and to keep those terrible people from coming over here. If I have to give up Tank in order to do it, I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.

All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. I don’t think I’ll say another good-bye to Tank, though. I cried too much the first time. Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.

Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight – every night – from me.

Thank you,

Paul Mallory 
____________ _________ _________ _______

I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope.

Sure I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.

I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog. “Hey, Tank,” I said quietly.

The dog’s head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.

“C’mere boy.”

He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn’t heard in months.

“Tank,” I whispered. His tail swished.

I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.

“It’s me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me.” Tank reached up and licked my cheek. “So whatdaya say we play some ball?”

His ears perked again.. “Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?”

Tank tore from my hands and disappeared in the next room.

And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.

A Pitbull’s Prayer

January 7, 2010 29 comments

Spirit in the sky, who watches over all animals:  it is my prayer and my request that you grant greater understanding, and acceptance to humans; those who love us, and those who hate us.

That they will know how loyal we are, how brave we are, and how loving we are.  Help them to accept us as a breed in whole and not let the few tragedies shine brighter then the many great traits that we have.

And those who would kill me, let them know, I forgive them even though I don’t understand their hatred.  And those who would beat me, let them know I still love them, even though it is not the honorable way (to treat me).

Thank you for all the strong traits that you have given to me and my breed.  Help those to know that I stand for courage, strength, loyalty, and bravery, and as my master already knows, let those who would come against my family know that I would surrely die defending them.

And just one thing that I would ask:  let my master know, that if you should call me away, that I will wait patiently at those pearly gates until the one who chose me comes home.

Amen.

Author Unknown

No-Kill Conference

January 6, 2010 Leave a comment

The No Kill Advocacy Center is teaming up with the Animal Law program at George Washington  University Law  School, Maddie’s Fund and Friends of Animals to bring together the nation’s most successful shelter directors and the nation’s top animal lawyers. They will help you create a No Kill community and teach you how to use the legal system to save the lives of animals.

Learn from animal control/shelter directors who are now saving over 90% of all animals using the building blocks to No Kill success – programs and services that have had results in both urban and rural communities – to increase adoptions, reduce length of stay, increase redemption rates, rehabilitate animals, and much, much more.

Learn from animal law experts who have challenged our legal system to help animals: Whether it’s drafting model laws, fighting breed specific legislation, eliminating the gas chamber, filing impact legislation, or protecting condemned dogs, learn how to use the legal system to save the lives of animals.

Learn from activists fighting entrenched and regressive shelters in their own community as they show you how to launch successful campaigns for reform.

To get more details about this event, click HERE.

Homeless People and Their Pets

December 31, 2009 3 comments

Originally published in ‘Animal Connection’

These days we hear about more and more people leaving their pets behind as they leave their homes.  It’s even harder to think about during the holiday season.  Some people will find reasons to leave an animal behind; relocation, financial issues, divorce, more responsibility for an older animal….and the list goes on.  For some, that is not an option.  They will lose everything but they will never leave their beloved pet behind.  The animal is the only thing that keeps them going in this crazy, unpredictable world.  It is called unconditional love and it’s an emotional bond of loyalty.  We all search for it when most of the time it is right in front of us, our pet.  The tragic part is that these pets don’t choose their owners.

It is estimated, by the National Coalition for the Homeless, that 3.5 million people are homeless.  Between 5% to 10% of homeless people have dogs and/or cats. In some areas of the country the rate is as high as 24%.  Most people who experience homelessness are homeless for a short period of time, and usually need help finding housing or a rent subsidy.   Unfortunately for those with pets it becomes more difficult.  Many are forced to choose between their pet or a roof over their head.

Picture this, a well dressed woman walks up to a homeless man and gives him a bag of fast food on her way to work.  The man has been sitting on the sidewalk in the same spot for weeks, he looks up and says “God bless you.”  The woman nods and walks away but not before she turns to see him open the bag and remove a burger, take a bite and give the rest to his dog.   This scene is probably something that goes on more often than we would like to think.

There is an organization I found out about called “Feeding Pets of the Homeless”.   They provide medical care and food for pets that belong to the homeless and the disadvantaged.  They do this by teaming up with Veterinarians and pet related businesses in different areas of the country.  They’ll do talks in communities about this issue and work with food distributing organizations about the importance of including pet food.  They also have collection sites across the U.S. and Canada.  These sites are clinics, hospitals, businesses, storefronts and nonprofits that understand the human/animal bond. They work hand in hand with the food pantries and food kitchens, so the animals can be fed as well as the homeless.  They also provide grants to licensed Veterinarians and other nonprofit organizations.  You can email them at: info@petsofhomeless.org for more information and an application.

Please, go to their website and see if there is a collection site in your area.  If not, please think about starting one for the animals and people in need.  Feeding Pets of the Homeless is available to help.  This is a hard time for everyone, animal and human.  It takes a lot of courage, and love, for these people in need to stand by their pet, literally.

A Christmas Poem

December 20, 2009 Leave a comment

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house  Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled, all snug in their beds With no thought of the dog outside filling their heads.

And Mom in her kerchief and I in my cap Knew the dog was cold, but didn’t care about that.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash Did the dog bark at something or find food in the trash?

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear But Santa Claus, with his eyes full of tears.

He cradled the dog, once so playful and quick Last year’s Christmas present now starving and sick.

More rapid than eagles he picked up the doggy, Who climbed in his arms, looking frozen and dirty.

Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen On Comet on Cupid on Donner and Blitzen. To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall Let’s find this pet a home where she’ll be loved by all.

I knew in an instant there would be no gifts this year For Santa had made one thing painfully clear. The gift of a pet is not just for the season We had gotten the dog for all the wrong reasons.

In our haste to fill the kids’ Christmas list, There was one important thing we had missed A dog can be family, and puppies are cute You don’t gift a puppy, then give it the boot.

And I heard him exclaim as he rode out of sight, “ You weren’t given a ‘gift.’ You were given a life.”