End in site for Calcasieu Parish gas chamber

Calcasieu Parish Animal Services and Adoption Center proposes to transition to all lethal injection as a method of humane euthanasia with its 2007 budget submittal to the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury. The National Animal Control Association, as well as the American Veterinary Medical Association, agree that a properly delivered lethal injection is the most humane method available for unwanted shelter animals.

Due to the tragedy of pet over population, millions of animals are euthanazied each year in this country, over 8,000 in Calcasieu Parish alone. The Animal Shelter has the responsibility to employ humane euthanasia techniques exclusively, ensuring a painless and rapid death for every unwanted animal. While always trying to follow the guidelines of the AVMA, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury has to take into consideration the effect this change would have on the staff. A three-month pilot program has proven successful and acceptable. Louisiana State Law requires employees using Sodium Pentobarbital to be certified by the Board of Veterinary Medicine at the LSU Veterinarian School. The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury Animal Services and Adoption Center has 65 percent of its current staff certified as Animal Euthanasia Technicians. The Police Jury offers compassion fatigue training for all staff members and recognizes the difficult task each employee performs when euthanizing.

In support of the Animal Shelter, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is providing a grant to help pay for renovations to the shelter and purchase necessary equipment to complete the transition. The new work area will provide a quiet and peaceful area for the staff and the animals.

The Police Jury and the staff at the Animal Shelter recognize the growing problem of unwanted animals and believe that through continued public education on responsible pet ownership, increased adoptions, and low-cost spay/neuter programs, all required euthanasia can be reduced. Please help support your agency by considering adopting an animal.

Thank You!!


Milo, another JRT still missing from Katrina

This photo was taken at Best Friends in Tylertown in September, 2005. We believe the white dog in the center could be Milo. Jane and I have spent many months trying to get concrete information about this photo from various sources and for some strange reason, no one knows anything about this dog! If you volunteered at Tylertown and remember this dog (or either of the other two in the pen) or rescued this dog and brought it to Tylertown, or anything else, please contact Jane at 3jax@jam.rr.com and/or me at noanimalleftbehind@gmail.com or feel free to post an anonymous comment here. Thank you!

To all Union County (NC) Animal Advocates:

This email was sent to me a few minutes ago by a resident of Union County, NC:

A friend sent me your blog on the gas chamber in Union County, NC. I live in that county. Currently we're trying to get the shelter turned into a no-kill shelter. The gas chamber would be history. We're going through the county commissioners because they are Sheriff Cathey's boss. No one else.

Now for my request. Below is the announcement calling on all residents of this county who care for the animals to write to the commissioners. If you can post it, great. If not, that's okay too. The only way we're going to get a change is to get the commissioners attention. With enough letters we'll do it.

Here is the link to the original blog post.

To all Union County (NC) Animal Advocates:

In the past couple weeks there were a series of articles in the Enquirer Journal about the Union County Animal Shelter. The County Edge also had an article. Below are a few quotes from the articles.

Far too many animals are being killed at this shelter. There is a solution. It's called the "No-Kill Solution". Here are two links.
A video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1r9GJ_N7WU

The web site: www.nokillsolutions.com

What is needed are letters to the County Commissioners asking for a Special Meeting with the animal advocates of Union County. Write to all five; you can copy & paste. Be polite but tell them it's urgent that this situation be addressed by a special meeting. State the town you're from so they know you live in Union County. Their email addresses are below.

Feel free to give this to any/all animal lovers in Union County. We need this meeting and if the commissioners hear from enough people they'll respond. Please write this week, and next week send another one.

from Saturday, Dec. 16th Enquirer Journal:
The odds aren’t good for the strays. Ninety percent of the cats that end up in the shelter are killed; 74 percent of dogs are destroyed. But there are just too many animals coming in, Tucker said, and it’s impossible for all of them to go back out. It’s not about adoption, he said.

My comment: The new shelter has around 100 dog kennels. Captain Bill Tucker's statement,"It's not about adoption" might explain why there are only 11 kennels allotted for adoptable dogs. They don't even keep those 11 kennels full.

from Tuesday, Dec. 19th Enquirer Journal:
Back when the shelter was run by the Union County Health Department, most of the employees earned between $21,729 and $32,593 a year. That’s the salary range for an animal shelter attendant, of which there are three.

Deputies are a little more expensive, both because of their training and the implied risks of a law enforcement job. Deputies start out at $31,066 per year, and the Animal Control division has six, plus a lieutenant and a sergeant. All told, the personnel budget, including those
salaries plus benefits like paid vacation and health insurance, totaled $514,926 for the 2005/2006 fiscal year. By contrast, the operations budget was $195,456, which kept the lights on and the animals fed, and covered the cost of veterinary care, medications and the general costs of running the facility, including the gas chamber.

My comment: As evidenced by the numbers above, there is plenty of money to run this shelter correctly, with the no-kill solutions program.

from Wednesday, Dec. 20th Enquirer Journal:
Commissioner Allan Baucom said e-mail has flooded his inbox from animal advocates from as far as Arizona, but he has heard very little about the problem from local residents."...he added that the Sheriff ’s Office is responsible for figuring out how to address animal over-population. “This is the sheriff’s responsibility. This has already been determined. They have the new facility and I’m of the opinion that we need to stay out of his business.”

My comment: We need let the commissioners hear from the residents of Union County. If we don't speak for the animals, who will?

Kevin Pressley mayorpres@aol.com He's the chairman
Roger Lane anhast@earthlink.net (be sure to reply to
spam blocker)
Allan Baucom allan@baucomservice.com
Parker Mills parkerapmjr@aol.com
Lanny Openshaw lanny@carolina.rr.com


Golden Retriever lost in 2004 is reunited

Click on above link to watch reunion video. Sam I Am got lost in South Florida during the 2004 hurricane season and ended up in Chicago. His owner was found because of his microchip.

If you were reunited with your Katrina pet, most were microchipped. Some were microchipped several times. But if you don't call the company and register the number to you - the owner - and if your pet gets lost again and is scanned, the chip will show ownership being Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries or Best Friends or any number of other post-Katrina shelters or staging areas. Or the chip will be registered to the receiving shelter.

It costs around $17-20 to register your pet's microchip number to your name, but that is a small price to pay for the good it can do.

It's also a good idea when registering a microchip number to include at least one piece of information that is not likely to change, which varies from person to person. One personal email address I've had for at least 8 years is more consistent than any of my cell phone numbers. And as we saw with Katrina, home phone numbers can be completely useless.


A good time to re-vistit this wisdom

Robert Fulgrum wrote All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten around 20 years ago. His words made sense to me then and they make even more sense now in the aftermath of the Katrina animal disaster.

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don't hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don't take things that aren't yours.
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world - had cookies and milk at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.


A story from my friend Sidney

One evening an old Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, consideration and faith.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather "Which wolf wins?"

The old Indian simply replied, "The one you feed."


St. Bernard Parish deputies Minton and England indicted by Grand Jury

Thank you Mimi Hunley and Julie Cullen. Thank you members of the Grand Jury for coming to the correct conclusion.

According to Mimi Hunley, Assistant State Attorney General, Louisiana:

" The Grand Jury in St. Bernard Parish on Wednesday indicted former Deputy Mike Minton and presently employed Deputy Chip England for aggravated cruelty to animals related to the street shootings after Katrina. This is a felony and was the most serious of all the crimes they could have indicted them for. AAG Julie Cullen and I handled the presentation. We are still working on the school shootings.

Mimi Hunley
Assistant Attorney General Criminal Division "


Photos from Rocket's long-awaited reunion

Now that's one happy boy and one very happy dog.
Complete reunion story/details soon.


Lil'Bit is home in New Orleans tonight with his family. Is he not one adorable and very joyful little dog with that smile on his face and spark in his eyes? Oh yea, hard to see his eyes but you know the spark is back. He looks so much happier here compared to the look on his poor little face in the two bottom photos.
The two photos below were the only surviving ones of Lil' Bit. Lisa had them on her desk at work - everything in their house was destroyed.
Thanks to the continuing determination and dedication of Micci, Lil' Bit is on his way back home to New Orleans with Lisa, his grateful owner. Lisa was forced to abandon Lil' Bit at a bus evacuation site along the interstate, after enduring one of the most tragic sagas of anyone I have ever talked to. And this was after being forced to relinquish her other pets en route to the bus evacuation site over a period of several days. Throughout all this, she and her fiancé clung to their young son and to Lil' Bit. They then waited several more days to board a bus. While waiting for a bus, due to the heat and the lack of food and water, they became frantic that their son could die there. When they were finally able to board a bus, they were forced to leave Lil' Bit on the ground.

Lisa's story and Lil' Bit's photo were included in the People Magazine article from a few months ago, as well as the current issue of Bark Magazine.
Micci is a volunteer who has maintained the website Katrina Poms and had hoped to get Lil' Bit home for Christmas. Last year. But Micci, Lisa and others were stymied by endless lies and manipulations from Biannca Kellogg who took Lil' Bit from Best Friends in Tylertown. She took several other cute little dogs too, so stay tuned.

Yesterday a Sheriff in Illinois went to the home of Biancca's friend Jeannie (to whom Biannca gave Lil' Bit) took possession of Lil' Bit and returned him to Lisa. Even after 15 months, Lil' Bit jumped out of the sheriff's arms when he saw Lisa and covered her with kisses.

Lil' Bit was not posted on Petfinder until December 11th - more than 3 months after he was rescued. And then all the information was stripped from the Petfinder record within 6 weeks even though the dog's owner and several volunteers were actively pursuing a reunion.

If you look in Lil' Bit's eyes in the photos below (taken in Illinois by Biancca) you can see how sad he was. He did not want to be there; he wanted to be with his family. And now, thanks to Micci and the Sheriff in Illinois who did his job, Lil' Bit is with his family forevermore.


Around here we call them mutts

UPDATE on Remington

This very special dog found his very special angel. Here are some photos of Rem at his forever home with his new dog and human brothers and sisters (The original story about Remington was posted on October 22).



Yes, it's true.

Not a stretch of the imagination to assume that the idea of the hearing - specifically the idea of having to face Rocket's true owner in court, along with God-only knows how many reunion volunteers*, newspaper reporters, TV cameras and assorted Rocket-supporters from the area - Lynne Welsh decided - after stalling for five months - to return Rocket today.

He is back HOME in New Orleans now.

Many more details (specifically the chronology of this nasty, pathetic and manipulative saga) will soon be posted.

* at least 11 of us were planning to be at the hearing tomorrow which has been cancelled.


Hearing for Rocket Thursday in Bucks County, PA

is Sheila Combs of New Orleans, LA

are Lynne Welsh & Joseph Welsh of Doylestown, PA

Mollys County Kennels of Lansdale, PA
Holiday House Pet Resort of Doylestown, PA

Replevin Hearing

November 9th at 10:00 a.m.


Bucks County Courthouse -
Courtroom A-9
4th Floor

55 E. Court Street

Doylestown, PA 18901

Phone: 215-348-6000

Map of Doylestown
Map to Doylestown


To return Rocket to Sheila Combs, his rightful and legal owner.

Oct. 7, 2006 Doylestown
Oct. 9, 2006 San Diego news
July 16, 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer
July 3, 2006 Philly Daily News

View Pam Bondi's Crocodile Tears

Click on above link to the WSVN.com site to view the video of Carmen Cafiero's investigative report about Katrina pets. Features Hunter, Missy and Master Tank. And a display of histrionics by Pam Bondi . Below is a partial transcript of of the video from the news site.

Imagine having to give away your dog or cat to a stranger. Tonight, families nationwide are being sued over their best friend. But these aren't ordinary animals. They actually once belonged to Hurricane Katrina victims who lost their pets in last year's flood. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero has more in tonight's Special Assignment Report -- Dog Gone.

WSVN -- The only thing that comes close to the human suffering after new orleans flooded - is the suffering of thousands of animals. The profound loss even continues today.

Entire communities remain ghost towns with spray paint reminders of the grim searches for people and their pets.

Fay Bourg: "But they don't realize when you get 15 feet of water coming at you, you have nowhere else to go. Either you're going to jump, or you're going to drown."

Fay Bourg lives in St. Bernard Parish, just outside New Orleans. This is the way it looked weeks after Katrina.

This is the way it looks today.

Fay lost everything in the flood, including her dog, Hunter. She says a rescuer threw him out of the boat. She jumped in after him but was pulled back and handcuffed. The last time she saw Hunter, he was paddling behind the boat.

Fay Bourg: "Like, 'Why are you leaving me?' I tried. I tried so hard to get him back."

So imagine how thrilled she was when she and her cousin Heidi Guerra discovered Hunter had been saved and taken to California.

Heidi Guerra: "We have been searching for over a year for him."

But there's no happy ending here. At least, there is no happy ending yet. The agency that rescued him says the dog was adopted, and it's up to the new owner to decide if Hunter will be returned.

Heidi Guerra: "And for them to sit back and say, 'I'm not giving him back,' is cruel."

And there may be hundreds of other hurricane victims in the same situation. Activists and attornies are now helping some original owners file lawsuits across the country.

Pam Bondi: "Hi, baby boy. You're beautiful."

Tampa prosecutor Pam Bondi has refused to return her rescued Saint Bernard.

Pam Bondi: "I promised that I would never let anything bad happen to him again. And I would care for him and protect him for the rest of his life. That's what I plan on doing."

But Steve and Doreen Couture, who are raising their orphaned grandchildren, say the dog belongs to them.

They say they want him back and have filed a lawsuit.

Steven Couture: "Whatever it takes, the Governor Jeb Bush, if that's what it takes, I will put legal action against him."

Army Lieutenant Jay Johnson was in Iraq when he learned the levee in New Orleans' Ninth Ward had collapsed.

Lt. Jay Johnson: "I knew my house was under water."

His family survived, but his dog Missy had been left behind. After a year of searching, he found her on the internet.

But he says the Texas agency that had her won't tell him where she is today.

Lt. Jay Johnson: "And she's like, 'Leave the dog alone, find you a new dog, you know. Go on with your life. Things have changed. Move on.'"

Coral Springs attorney Steve Wise represents Johnson who is suing to get Missy back.

He believes the lawsuits over Katrina will eventually lead to new legislation.

Steve Wise: "If they can't have their jobs back, if they can't have their homes back, they at least want to make their families complete again."

Louisiana pet owners have a powerful ally here in the state's capitol -- the Attorney General.

Charles Foti is trying to mediate cases. He believes Louisiana law is clear. The pets were lost, not abandoned, and should go back to their original families.

Charles Foti: "We want to take off our hats to the people who took the dogs and other animals in. But now is the time when the owners want them back. It is time to return them.

But time and again people who have the pets insist they are in better, more caring homes.

Pam Bondi, for example, says her dog had heartworms. Another new owner wrote "humidity will kill this dog." Still another claimed "Savannah could not possibly be better off."

The SPCA orchestrated the massive effort in Louisiana to find shelter for the displaced pets.

It says about 20 percent have been reunited with their owners, but the court fights. Broken hearts over others is upsetting.

Laura Maloney: "And I would ask those new owners to find it within their heart to return that animal to the person that owned it. They've already lost enough."

It's impossible to know how many hurricane victims are affected. But when you can't even rebuild your home, fighting for a lost pet is doggone difficult.

Rescue angel reunites Katrina cat

This was posted to an animal rescue Yahoo group. With Cathy's permission, I'm posting it here. Cathy is in New Orleans right now returning Spicer to his family - the cat she rescued and loves.

Hi All,

With all of the serious problems at hand I thought you'd like to hear of a success.

Last October I went to New Orleans to help with cat rescues (I have family there) and I brought back a big white Odd-eyed cat (one blue eye and one yellow). I named him General Beauregard. He has a crunched ear from an old wound and, it's a long story, but I just couldn't put him into the shelter system so I brought him home to Austin. He's a big sweet lug and we've fallen in love with him!

Well, some volunteers from an organization named STEALTH have been trying to match up pets with their owners all over the country. They don't even live there. One of them put Beauregard's picture on a flier in the neighborhood where I found him and his family saw it and called. It's definitely him from the pictures they sent and I'm going to take him back to his home
next week. His real name is Spicer.

Yes, I'm a little sad but I've worked through it and the reunion is going to be amazing! I'm hoping to video tape it so everyone can see how it goes.

His family had to evacuate when the waters started to rise and he was out gallavanting around, so they had to leave without him. They took his mom-cat, sister and their dogs.

It's been a year and a week since I picked him up. We all can't believe he going home after all this time. He has inspired my artwork - I keep drawing cats with weird eyes and ears- and I hope to finish the story I'm writing about how he survived for 5 weeks after the storm, through HIS EYES ! I will MISS him but I'm OK and looking forward to the trip.

If anyone is in New Orleans Next Fri Nov 3rd and want's to be a part of it or to help video tape it, you're welcome to come. Just call me.

I'll let you all know how it turns out.

Thanks for being here,


This is just one of the many thoughts and reactions I have to this: anyone who has ever fostered and loved an animal that they had to give up feels a loss. It's normal to feel sad for a period of time. But all these people who are now being sued or about to be sued have known for 4, 8, 12 months or longer that the cat or dog they "adopted" belongs to someone else who wants it back. If they had returned the pet THEN, they would be over it by now. They would have moved on, perhaps adopting another one from their local shelter. They would not still be sad and upset. Plus, like every foster I know who returned their Katrina pet to its rightful owner, the sadness they felt was balanced by the joy they experienced from helping a family reunite and heal.

It is the adopters (who have refused to return Master Tank, Nila, Missy, Jazz, Nahnook, Goldie, Timmy, Romeo, Turtle, Mittens, Chelsea, Milo, Max and many many other cats & dogs) who need to move on and get another pet, not the Katrina survivors who are their legal owners.

Some examples of "owner surrender"

We found X today. He made it through Katrinia, and spent the last four days locked inside a horrible house. X is a good dog .

He's hungry, injured, and has seizures some times because of ants and mosquitoes. We have nowhere to bring him. Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter refuses to help save him. We will continue to try feed him, but he has to eventually leave that unliveable house. Please help us. The address is xxx. Here are the numbers I can be reached.504-xxx-xxxx or 504-xxx-xxxx. I can get acess to X whenever someone can help. Waiting for help. This is our 2nd plea to you for help.

My family was lifted by helicopter last Wed Aug 31. X had to be left behind. She lost her collar when they tried to bring her to the roof. She needs attention ASAP! She is a non-hostile, friendly dog. X is located on the 2nd floor of our house because the 1st floor is flooded - PLEASE RESCUE HER!!

X is still young and gregarious. He is a little obnoxious but an awesome dog thst anyone who spends 2 minutes with him, falls in love him. Our grandmother was air-lifted out of mid-city in the Orleans & Carrollton area. He was last seen in the bed of a green Toyota Tacoma pick up that didn't make it. They were trying to get him out but the army guys wouldn't take him. Our hearts are broken and we want X back!!!!!!!!!!!!!

X was left with 2 sinks and the bathtub filled with fresh water and a whole bag of dry dog food. I'm still very worried it's too hot in New Orleans!

She was lost in New Orleans East. She is white with beige spots. She was lost during Hurricane Katrina. 1000.00 REWARD for her safe return. We lost our sister who drowned in her home and are desperate to find our animals

X had to be left behind by a renter. His rightful owner is a heart patient transfered to Harnbeck, La. He was left with some one, and then that some one had to evacuate himself with out the dog.

hes very friendly, house broken and likes to sleep in the bed under the covers. he likes to play ball and my daughter taught him how to play hide and seek

He belongs to my Dad and he is 79 years old and greiving for his dog. the dog escaped from the yard the day after the hurricane. please help me find my Dad's dog. Not too sure of X's exact weight. thanks.

Can not keep dogs where I am staying I was evacuated for hurricane. was able to get back briefly and see dogs. they have food but no water. need someone to take them soon. now all in good health but will not last without water. please help

He was a VERY sweet dog. He loved pig ears. He was a black labrador retriver. We left him behind during hurricane Katrina.


Q: How many people does it take to euthanize a pet?

A: Two. One to give the injection and an owner not to care.

Every year, almost eight million pets are euthanized in animal shelters because pet owners don’t care.

Some pet owners don’t care enough to keep their animals safe at home. They let them roam the neighborhood without collars or tags. Many of those pets get lost or picked up by animal dealers who see them to laboratories.

Some pet owners don’t care enough to have their pets spayed or neutered, and their animals produce litter after litter of unwanted puppies and kittens that end up at the shelter because there aren’t enough homes for them all.

Some pet owners don’t even care enough to take unwanted puppies and kittens to the shelter. They abandon the animals to fend for themselves. The lucky ones end up at the shelter as strays. The rest suffer on their own until they meet an untimely death from exposure, disease, traffic accidents, or starvation.

Not caring about pets is costing tax-payers millions of dollars to care for the overwhelming number of unwanted animals. Not caring about pets is costing millions of animals their lives.

The veterinarian or shelter worker humanely takes the life of an unwanted, lost, or sick pet. But the uncaring pet owner is the real killer.

Provided by the Humane Society of the U.S.


Judge Rules on Master Tank's Toenail

October 30, 2006

Judge: Noah is Master Tank

A judge has ruled that the dog adopted by Pam Bondi is the same dog a Louisiana couple lost during Hurricane Katrina.

Court proceedings continued today over the two dogs who were adopted from the Humane Society of Pinellas by Bondi of Tampa and Rhonda Rineker of Dunedin. Steven and Dorreen Couture of St. Bernard Parish, La., began court action to reclaim the dog they know as Master Tank.

A veteranarian who read in the Times about the court fight over ownership of the dogs testified Monday morning that it was impossible for one dog's toenail to have been removed without a surgical procedure.

Marie Y. DeCaire, a Largo vet, said the only way the toenail could not have grown back was if the digit was removed. This dog still has all of its digits.

Bondi, a Hillsborough County assistant state attorney, asserted in court Friday that the St. Bernard she adopted and named Noah is not the same dog that the Coutures lost.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Henry J. Andringa today ruled that the dog was Master Tank, the same dog that was rescued and adopted by Bondi. Andringa ruled that Bondi must return the dog to the Coutures.

Bondi's lawyer, Camille Godwin, said Bondi would post a bond equalling the dog's value so that Bondi can keep the dog until a final ruling is made during a trial. Otherwise, the dog would be returned to the Coutures until the trial is concluded.

After a short recess, court reconvened so that Andringa could determine the value of the dogs.


As if there was any doubt about Pam Bondi

...she has proven that she is in possession of Master Tank, the dog belonging to the Coutures (in photo below) and simply does not want to give him back. It is painfully obvious that all of her legal maneuvering have been nothing but stall tactics.

(click on title link above for the newspaper article and comments)

You have the audacity to now claim that "Noah" is not Master Tank because Master Tank once had a toenail removed and "Noah" has all his toenails?? What's next? Are you going to take "Noah" for gender reassignment surgery and claim that "she" could not possibly be Master Tank? Or maybe take him to get hair extensions and claim that he's a Newfoundland?

Even if Master Tank / "Noah" has all his toenails, we're supposed to take your word for that? Additionally - and I realize this may be a newsflash for you - TOENAILS CAN GROW BACK. Even an entire claw has been known to grow back.


Prayers and pennies to help Ozzie


Man's best friend may have been a life-saver for a Delaware county man and now he is hoping he can return the favor.

As CBS 3's Dick Standish reports, he's trying to help his beloved pet survive the hit and run crash that could have killed both of them.

Dave Tillman and Ozzie, his Airedale Terrier, were out for their nightly walk on Chester Pike in Glenolden on Friday when a car came from behind them and hit them both.

"The next thing I know, I was over on the hill holding my dog, who was yelling and crying," said Tillman, adding, "He hit my legs and knocked me out of the way."

They had been on the sidewalk and before they were hit, the car smashed a sign.

"A big yellow sign it said, I believe, 'Do Not Tailgate,'" explained Tillman.

A small black car slowed and then sped away.

"If the guy who hit him would just sit in the car and hear this dog cry," said Tillman.

Ozzie was in pain all the way to the veterinarian in Malvern on Monday morning.

"They said it was about 4-thousand bucks, I'm a regular Joe living paycheck to paycheck," explained Tillman.

However, if Ozzie can be saved, he will find a way to pay.

"We got a thing on our mortgage, on our credit card, we just have to pay it," explained Tillman.

The vet is operating. "There's a joint ball in a socket, it keeps popping out again," said Tillman.

The hope is that the left hip can be fixed enough so Ozzie will be able to get around.

A fragment of the shattered headlight was removed from Ozzie's head by the vet. Tillman has given it to the Glenolden police who hope they can trace it to the car that hit and fled.

If you are interested in helping Ozzie, you can send a check to:

Veterinary Referral Center
340 Lancaster Avenue
Malvern, Pa 19355
Mark The Check For "Ozzie Tillman" Care


Think it's a good idea to leave your dog unattended in your yard?


Illustration by Zohar Lazar

Medical-research institutions draw on a thriving black market in stolen and fraudulently obtained pets

by Judith Reitman

If you're driving south on Missouri Highway 67 into Poplar Bluff, past acres of strip malls, a sharp left at Route 53 takes you into hardscrabble country, a place of violence and squalor in the southeastern part of the state. I made the drive on a saunalike morning in early August, reaching the Poplar Bluff Sale Barn around seven o'clock. Vendors had been arriving since dawn. On most days of the week livestock sales are held in the corrugated-tin auction barn. But Friday is Trade and Sale Day. Merchants were setting up folding tables under colorful umbrellas on the barn's dusty four-acre lot, across from the Gospel Rescue Mission and a dilapidated farmhouse hemmed in by the skeletons of junked cars. Some of the merchants were hawking homemade jams; others offered "emu juice" -- a supposedly medicinal broth -- or shotguns. Still others were "puppy-mill" breeders selling allegedly purebred dogs for $10 or $20 each.

But the big money, one vendor told me, is in the dogs sold to suppliers to medical-research labs. She pointed to the back lot, which was crowded with campers, station wagons, and pickups with license plates from Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. A number of the vehicles were fitted with "dog cabs," containing six or eight dogs crammed into small wooden crates. A red cattle trailer was packed with purebreds and mixed breeds. Men sweating under feed caps were pulling dogs out by their legs or muzzles. Many of the dogs were emaciated, their bellies swollen from worms or other parasites, their coats matted with their own feces and urine. The scene was hauntingly quiet. When a dog did bark, it was reproached with a swift kick.

Around eight-thirty a nondescript white van pulled onto the lot. The driver -- a registered dog dealer, licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- swung open the loading doors, revealing dozens of empty metal cages. About a hundred dogs were for sale on the lot. Soon sellers were clustered around the dealer's van. The day's trading had begun.

High-volume dealers like this one keep an inventory of 500 to 700 dogs in their kennels at any given time. They are supposed to buy dogs only from sellers who raised the animals themselves or bought them from "random sources" -- people who can prove that they raised them. Although USDA regulations call for dealers to obtain certain information from each seller, including a description of the animal being sold, many dealers will accept simply the seller's name, address, and signature as proof of ownership. "Hell, they don't raise those dogs," said a grizzled coon hunter who was observing the proceedings. "Some of them, they just pick up the dogs off the street and sell 'em. Make good money, too."

POPLAR Bluff sits in the heart of dog-dealing country. The Midwest's interstates and local roads are conduits for a vast network that transports stolen dogs from virtually every state for sale at trade days like this one. The number of dogs that go missing each year under suspicious circumstances has been conservatively estimated by shelters and pounds, animal-protection organizations, and veterinarians to be in the hundreds of thousands. Puppy-mill breeders and the organizers of dog fights buy their share, but the animals also end up as subjects in the biomedical-research industry, which pays top dollar. Although it is impossible to know how many dogs this is, Patricia Jensen, then a former USDA assistant secretary, testified in 1996 that "one of the most egregious problems in research" is the "introduction of stolen and fraudulently acquired pets into the process."

The clients who contribute to this trade include reputable medical schools across the country, where dogs are used in cardiovascular, bone, orthopedic, urological, burn, and dental research, in ballistics tests, in radiation and drug studies, and for dissection in physiology labs. Although federal law specifically prohibits the sale of stolen dogs, the agency charged with enforcing it -- the USDA, through the Animal Care program of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) -- has taken little effective action. And congressional initiatives, including virtually all attempts to pass stronger legislation, have failed.

The system for acquiring dogs for medical research is based on a complicated hierarchy, in which accountability is diffused. The system has remained largely the same since 1966, when Congress passed what soon became known as the Animal Welfare Act. The act set standards of treatment for medical-research animals and stipulated that labs can acquire them only from dealers who have been licensed by the Secretary of Agriculture -- a provision directly aimed at preventing the sale of stolen pets to labs. The USDA was not eager to assume responsibility for enforcing the act. When Congress proposed appointing the USDA to do so, the agency tried to be relieved of the duty; in a letter to Congress the Secretary of Agriculture suggested that an agency "more directly concerned" with the pet-theft issue should be considered for the task. That argument failed.

Any adult citizen of the United States, even a convicted felon, can acquire a USDA license to sell dogs to research institutions. There are two kinds of dealer licenses. Class A dealers, according to the broad terms of the act, breed dogs for sale. When they buy from Class A dealers, institutions have some assurance that they are buying dogs intended from the outset for research. But many institutions buy their dogs from both Class A and Class B dealers; the dogs sold by Class B dealers are less expensive and may offer a broader range of research subjects. This is where most problems lie.

Class B dealers are permitted to buy dogs from unlicensed sellers, known as "bunchers," as long as the bunchers can prove that they bred and raised the animals on their own premises or obtained them from someone who did. This restriction is aimed at ensuring that each dog can be traced to a legitimate owner -- that the animals are not stolen or obtained through fraudulent means. But for it to be enforceable dealers must keep and make available accurate records, and bunchers must give them accurate information. In its 1998 annual report to Congress, APHIS claimed that it was able to trace the original owners of more than 90 percent of the dogs sold for research. However, this number was derived by extrapolating from a very small sample. A random selection of inspection reports pertaining to five of the largest dealers shows that all have had record-keeping violations. Over the years there have been dealers who have not even allowed inspectors on their property.

In any given year as many as forty bunchers may supply a single high-volume dealer. For those unconcerned with the law, dogs are easy enough to come by. Bunchers may cruise neighborhood streets, picking up any dogs they encounter. They may obtain unclaimed dogs from veterinary clinics by offering to find homes for them, and may answer "free to good home" ads placed by owners trying to find someone to care for dogs they can no longer keep. Often a buncher answering such an ad brings along a child, in order to create a convincing picture of a welcoming home.

The price structure that has evolved puts certain breeds particularly at risk. The most valuable dogs are Labrador retrievers, German shepherds and shepherd mixes, Dalmatians, spaniels, golden retrievers, hounds, and border collies. Sometimes called "serum dogs," owing to backwoods folklore that a serum made from the blood of these dogs could cure cancer, they are prized by labs because they have large chests, which make them preferred subjects for cardiovascular research. Labs will pay a dealer as much as $800 apiece for them (the dealer has paid the buncher about $25 apiece). Serum dogs are generally guaranteed to remain alive for seven to ten days after purchase. Less-desirable breeds and mixes are sold by the pound, as "junk dogs" (usually guaranteed to live for a week) or "acute dogs" (guaranteed for only forty-eight hours).

DAN Hannes, the sheriff of Cedar County, Iowa, dreads the spring. "That's when pet thieves come around," he says. The peak dog-stealing season extends through summer, with thefts occurring in state after state throughout the South and the Midwest. In August of 1998, during the Iowa State Fair, in Des Moines, some 350 dogs from the area were reported missing. Last summer an animal-welfare society in southeastern Missouri got calls about more than 200 missing dogs. Two years ago in Carroll County, Mississippi, several enraged hunters drove into a buncher's encampment, where they found their missing hounds; the hunters rammed the buncher's fence with their trucks and seized their dogs. Other Mississippi residents have found their dogs chained in bunchers' and dealers' kennels and at local trade days. "If you have a pet missing, the Ripley Trade and Sale Day is a good place to look," says Pete Samples, a criminal investigator with the police department of Ripley, in northern Mississippi, where one of the largest dog-trading events in the country is held. Last January more than 120 large purebred dogs were reported missing in southwestern Michigan. Vans purporting to represent an "animal-management service" had been seen cruising neighborhoods there. Similar vans have been associated with missing-pet episodes in Maryland and Alabama.

APHIS has broad authority to stop such thefts, by requiring dog dealers to comply with the law. It can assess and collect hefty fines and notify the sheriff's office about animals that are believed to be stolen. The agency is required by law to inspect and monitor kennels to ensure that the animals have been legally acquired. It is responsible for requesting the prosecution of any dealer who has stolen and sold a dog to a research facility, and is empowered to bring an injunction against any dealer it believes to be trading in stolen pets. However, the agency has taken few productive measures to halt the abuses. "We cannot be the on-site police," says Ron DeHaven, the deputy administrator of APHIS. "We can't be at every facility every day to make sure they are adhering to the regulations." It is difficult to prove that animals have been obtained through theft or fraud, DeHaven argues; the agency can usually prove only that dealers are keeping inaccurate or improper records.

In those instances when APHIS has gone after a dealer for record-keeping violations (a process that can take years, during which time the dealer may remain in business), it has generally reduced the penalties outlined by law, holding closed-door administrative hearings and allowing the dealers to stipulate to fines that are just a small fraction of what the Animal Welfare Act permits.

In a handful of instances APHIS has gathered enough proof of theft or so-called theft by deception to have dealers brought to criminal court. Even court-ordered penalties have typically not been severe. A case in point: APHIS placed an Oregon dealer, Betty Davis, and her husband under surveillance for fourteen months starting in December of 1994. During that time the couple sold ninety dogs to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California, and the Los Angeles VA Medical Center. APHIS did not request a restraining order against the Davises, however. DeHaven told me that when the research institutions learned of the investigation, they "immediately ceased buying animals from [the Davises], so in essence [their] business stopped early in that two-year period." But court records show that the Davises continued buying and selling dogs until February of 1996, when the surveillance ended. Federal prosecutors subsequently filed charges. The Davises were indicted on eight counts, including defrauding the government and conspiring to obtain dogs through misrepresentation and deception -- from "free to good home" ads and veterinary clinics and off the streets. The matter was settled last year by a plea bargain, in which Betty Davis pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of conspiracy. The remaining counts of the indictment were dropped. The Davises were sentenced to just four to six months of detention in their own home. They were fined a total of $379.31-$354.31 to reimburse one research facility for returning some animals, and $25 for conspiracy.

A look at how APHIS handles dealer violations of all types may be instructive. "I have seen many instances where APHIS program officials are dismissing violation cases without the benefit of any investigation," one senior investigator, complaining of an "erosion of enforcement" within the agency, wrote in an internal memo in 1995. According to a 1995 report by the Office of the Inspector General, which oversees USDA practices, the fines collected by the agency during the previous year were no more than $300 per facility -- minimal amounts considering that many dealers report gross incomes of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Dealers view these fines as a "cost of doing business," the OIG concluded. "If we are talking about a small business and we are not putting them out of business, then any monetary penalties that we impose limit their ability to provide adequate care to the animals," DeHaven says.

In its 1998 report to Congress, APHIS boasted that its "stringent enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act" had helped to reduce the number of Class B dealers selling dogs for research from 104 in 1993 to thirty-three in 1998 (there are currently twenty-eight). Just as relevant, though, is the number of bunchers supplying these dealers -- a statistic the report does not give. However, in 1996 Michael Dunn, an assistant secretary for marketing at the USDA, told Congress that during the previous year the agency had searched for as many as 1,800 suppliers who were providing dogs to dealers, then forty in number. Furthermore, although there is a regulation that limits to twenty-four the number of dogs a buncher can sell each year, this is easy to get around. If dealers identify bunchers as "employees," those bunchers can legally obtain as many dogs for those dealers as their trucks can carry.

The USDA's leniency may reflect long-standing allegiances. APHIS has historically regarded institutions and their suppliers as its constituency. A 1995 Animal Care newsletter stated, "We exist to support our clients," referring to animal-welfare licensees. Top APHIS officials frequently go directly from the service to employment in the medical-research industry. For instance, James Glosser, the administrator of APHIS from 1988 to 1991, was subsequently hired as the assistant dean of veterinary medicine at the University of California at Davis. Conflicts of interest exist at lower levels of the agency as well. One former APHIS veterinarian told me, "Some inspectors talk about getting into dog dealing as good business when they retire." Others don't wait for retirement: at least two inspectors have themselves run breeding operations -- in one case a substandard one -- even while employed by APHIS to monitor kennels.

Conscientious inspectors can't count on the agency's support. Some enforcement officers who have been relocated believe they were moved because of their zeal. Others -- for example, Marshall Smith, a former enforcement officer, who worked for the agency for almost twenty years -- tell of being ostracized for seeking punitive action against dealers.

"Pet theft: the myth lives on"
"An enduring falsehood put forth by those opposed to animal research is that pets are commonly snatched from owners' yards and sold to medical research facilities. The myth of shadowy figures who cruise around residential neighborhoods luring pets into vans and selling them to research labs persists as a kind of urban legend. It's also almost never true." An article posted by the Foundation for Biomedical Research.

Legislative action to halt pet trafficking has so far failed. In 1988 Senator Wendell Ford, of Kentucky, whose son's hound had been stolen, introduced the Pet Theft Act, which was intended to prohibit dealers from buying dogs and cats at trade days and increased the penalties for repeated pet theft violations. The act was defeated, owing in large part to opposition from the USDA and the National Association for Biomedical Research, a powerful lobbying organization, which argued that the bill would "inhibit research."

In October of 1993 Representatives George Brown and Charlie Rose, of California, sent a petition to the USDA, co-signed by twenty-seven of their colleagues, accusing the agency of "dereliction [of] duty" in the face of "evidence ... that USDA licensed animal dealers routinely buy and sell stolen family pets."In 1996 Representative John Fox, of Pennsylvania, introduced the Family Pet Protection Act, but this, too, was vigorously opposed by the NABR. In January of 1997 Representative Charles Canady, of Florida, introduced the Pet Safety and Protection Act, which was aimed at eliminating the entire random-source category. That bill did not make it out of committee; Canady reintroduced it last year.

In response to congressional outcries the USDA mounted a series of stolen-dog task forces. Their investigations resulted in little action. Two inspectors from a 1990 task force told me that when they examined the records of the leading midwestern dealers, they discovered rampant fraud. Dealers were listing suppliers who had long been dead, who did not exist, or who were obtaining animals from "free to good home" ads. The inspectors outlined these abuses in their reports. But instead of fining the dealers and revoking their licenses, the agency concluded that there was no evidence of pet theft and offered to license a large number of area bunchers as dealers. As for trade days, the agency deemed that they could be markets for "individuals desiring a quality pet."

In 1993, on the heels of the Brown-Rose petition, the USDA initiated another task force. According to Marshall Smith, the task force was quietly disbanded, with no action having been taken, even though there was indisputable evidence that dealers were falsifying records and breaking the law. The USDA commissioned yet another task force in 1994. This time dealers were not even questioned about their sources. Smith, who participated in several task forces, speaks of the agency's "selective enforcement-case after case against dealers dismissed, and violators relicensed with barely a slap on the wrist." He describes the agency as having a "profound disdain for the Animal Welfare Act, for the public, and for Congress." The USDA "provides a safe haven for criminals," Smith says.

The USDA and APHIS repeatedly point to their "concerted efforts" to address pet theft. For example, in a statement issued last February 13, in honor of Pet Theft Awareness Day, Michael Dunn spoke of the agency's firm stand on pet theft and its "significant progress in stopping the trafficking in stolen animals." The agency argues that its enforcement abilities, however, are limited by inadequate staff and funds. It maintains that most stolen dogs go to puppy-mill breeders or dog-fight organizers and that the likelihood of a stolen pet's being used in research is "remote." Nonetheless, the APHIS Web site advises pet owners whose animals are missing to get in touch with animal dealers and research facilities in their area -- an implicit acknowledgment that pets may end up there.

ARE research institutions aware that they may be buying former pets? Dogs bearing tattoos and subcutaneous microchips -- unmistakable forms of identification -- were found in the kennel supplying the Universities of Iowa and Michigan. "I worry about the sources all the time, but we rely on enforcement by the USDA and on the integrity of the dealer," says John Harkness, who oversees the animals used in teaching at Mississippi State University. Harkness told me that he has tried tracing the origins of some of the university lab's dogs from dealers' records, "but it gets very murky." John Young, a lab-animal veterinarian at Cedars-Sinai, has also tried tracing the origins of animals he has bought. He says that he was given false information by Class B dealers and their bunchers, however, and that his lab was a "victim" of dealers who were obtaining animals through illegal means. As a result, Cedars-Sinai stopped buying from Class B dealers in 1995.

Other lab directors I spoke with readily acknowledged the poor health of the dogs they buy (several described receiving sick, dying, and dead dogs from suppliers to whom they nonetheless remain loyal), but were less forthcoming on the topic of pet theft. Some admitted knowing of record-keeping violations on the part of their dealers, but they appear to turn a blind eye, regarding the problem as a matter solely for the USDA. For example, the University of Missouri's primary dog dealer has a history of record-keeping violations that is documented both in APHIS inspection reports and in court records. But Leroy Anthony, the manager of the school's animal laboratory, says, "He's still in business, so he's doing something right." Ron Banks, the lab-animal veterinarian at the University of Colorado Health Science Center, told me that although he reviews inspection reports for suppliers who are new to the university and for those who have had violations, the overall responsibility lies elsewhere. "I worry about every part" of the system, he says, "but we have to rely on the USDA."

Institutions can afford to do business with dealers whose practices may be questionable: no laboratory has ever faced legal action for buying stolen pets. Some institutions have gone to court rather than reveal the sources of their animals. The State University of New York lost a two-year legal battle in 1998, when the New York Court of Appeals ordered it to disclose its records to a public-interest group.

The National Association for Biomedical Research maintains that pet theft is a "myth" and "an enduring falsehood," and continues to battle against restraints on dealers. The NABR Web site states that animal-rights activists use the "illusion that there is a demand by researchers for stolen pets" to generate "opposition to animal research in general." Pets that have disappeared, the group contends, are far more likely to have wandered off than to have been stolen. As for cases in which lab animals are obtained through "free to good home" ads, the Web site points out that "even in those instances the pets were turned over voluntarily -- they were not being stolen from owners who wanted to keep them." The site acknowledges that there have been "rare cases"in which family pets have ended up in research laboratories, but argues that USDA-mandated holding periods for pounds and dealers ensure that owners have adequate time to find a pet before it is sold for research.

BY about 9:00 A.M. in Poplar Bluff the dealer was slamming shut his loading doors, muffling the barking of the dogs now crammed within. Only a few scraggly dogs remained on the lot. One buncher was preparing to haul his leftover dogs across the state, to an auction in Joplin. One was going to dump his dogs by the side of the road. Another talked about shooting his. Some of the small dogs were consigned to a "bait bin" on the lot, to be sold as live bait in organized dog fights. By ten o'clock the back lot was deserted -- a patch of dust under a flat sky. Several boys were combing the ground for coins and cigarette butts. But there was little to salvage: just a couple of dog collars attached to a metal chain.

Illustration by Zohar Lazar.

Copyright © 2000 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; July 2000; From the Leash to the Laboratory - 00.07 (Part Two); Volume 286, No. 1; page 17-21.

UPDATE: Special dog seeking very special person

Remington has been adopted!

Remington was rescued after Katrina. His kennel is dark, dirty and dingy and he needs to be removed as soon as possible. He along with others may be euthanized for no reason other than that they have been there too long.

REMINGTON was dangling a broken leg with bone protruding when he was found, and was transported to Richmond, VA where he remained in that condition for a week before his leg was amputated. The woman who rescued Remington has lost interest in him and the other dogs she rescued. She never visits them or checks on their condition.

Remington has been through a lot of pain and misery and yet remains an affectionate boy that just wants to be loved and be part of a family. When walked, he is full of wonder with everything around him. He is a bright, happy, intelligent dog and appears to be a quick learner. He is a sweetheart, walked well with a leash, and was so very grateful and happy to be out of his kennel where he spends 24/7. I have walked him with another dog and he was absolutely fine.

He is around 2 years old, and is a Boxer/Hound/Pit-mix with some bluish brindling. He weighs between 40-50lbs, is in good health and does remarkably well as a three-legged dog, especially when you consider how he has lived since the operation. His activity level is moderate. Again, he is an affectionate and loving boy. He would do best as an only dog at this time, or possibly with a submissive female. I have had him out with females and he does quite well.

He has been warehoused and is deteriorating as a result of this both physically and mentally. He would do best with someone who is quite dog savvy with dogs that have issues because of past experiences, i.e. being left in a crate 24/7 with little exercise, little to no human companionship, learning to cope with being a 3-legged dog in a dirty, dark and damp world. Remington has not been to any adoption events like many of the other dogs at this facility, and has had no chance of being adopted. Please consider adopting/rescuing Remington, he is a wonderful dog. The facility he is at is closing within the next 2 months, and he along with many others will most likely be put-down.