Stop the USDA Blackout

February 21st, 2017

Why has the USDA website gone dark on important information that is used to save the lives of animals?

Earlier this month, animal inspection reports and enforcement actions were abruptly removed from the USDA website. No warning. Just dark.

Without providing much explanation other than citing a vague privacy concern, the U.S. government has made the USDA website radically less useful to animal welfare advocates, journalists, investigators and concerned citizens. The privacy concern is obviously bunk as the USDA redacts any sensitive information anyhow!

beagle-illustration

Is the “privacy” of commercial businesses really more important than animal welfare and the free release of information? After all, we the people own this information. These reports are the work of government employees, and we pay their salaries. It’s not classified information, so the mysterious reasons for removing it from the USDA website can’t possibly be honorable.

Information about the inspections of labs, zoos, breeding facilities and factory farms has been available on the website for decades. We don’t know the true reason why it was removed, but we do know why it should be put back.

rabbit-drawing

Why is it important to repost the deleted animal inspection reports and enforcement actions on the USDA website?

Gone is the quick access to information that can be used to help protect animals, and this could embolden animal abusers.

If animal rescue groups don’t know about animals, such as dogs, being released from laboratories, they can’t offer to rescue them and find them homes.

People purchasing dogs from breeders no longer have quick access to inspection reports. Puppy mills must love this.

Animals could potentially die, or endure suffering longer than they otherwise would have suffered. The same information that was for many years freely, quickly available online can now only be obtained via an official request under the Freedom of Information Act. Once the request is made, it can take months to receive the information!

cat-drawing

What can you do to end the USDA blackout?

Sign petitions, and hold your government representatives responsible for restoring the reports! Complain, complain, complain to anyone who will listen. Make this a big deal, because it is.

Here are a couple of petitions you can sign to end the USDA Blackout:

ASPCA petition : https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/usda-puppy-mill-reports-petition

Beagle Freedom Project (BFP) official White House petition : https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/reverse-usdas-blackout-information-related-animals-labs

Happy signing and complaining! You’re doing it for the defenseless.

Image credits: Dog drawing from page 276 of “The foxhound of the twentieth century: the breeding and work of the kennels of England” (1914); rabbit drawing from page 439 of “St. Nicholas [serial]” (1873); cat drawing from page 99 of “Our domestic animals, their habits, intelligence and usefulness” (1907).

ASPCA Rescues Pets Affected by Hurricane Matthew Flooding

October 12th, 2016

Hurricane Matthew has left many animals in need, and members of the ASPCA disaster response team are currently assisting with animal rescues and sheltering work in Lumberton, N.C.

The pictures in this post will both break your heart, and warm it at the same time. All images are credited to the ASPCA.

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Lumberton is suffering from massive flooding bought on by Hurricane Matthew.

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“Local officials estimate hundreds of animals may be affected in Lumberton at this point, and we will assist them with sheltering displaced animals in the community and animal rescue requests,” said Tim Rickey, vice president of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team.

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“For many, pets are members of the family, and we will do everything we can and continue to go out into the field to search for lost pets and hopefully reunite them with their owners,” added Rickey.

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The ASPCA is also working in other areas affected by the hurricane. In the last few days, the ASPCA has assisted almost 950 animals through pre-evacuation, field rescue, transport and sheltering needs in Georgia and South Carolina.

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You can help by donating to the ASPCA.

All images in this post credited to the ASPCA.

Easy, Cheap Solution for Dog Food Mats

January 31st, 2016

After my dog first crossed the threshold into our lives, I bought one of those terrible silicone food mats with a bone design on it. It always had a weird white film, even after you cleaned it. Then, for a while, I just didn’t use a mat, but I was always cleaning up splashed water on the floor.

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Use a Simple Everyday Little Rug

So, finally I decided to open up my linen closet and use a cloth mat that I already had but never used. It didn’t have a dog design, but that was OK. It can be machine washed too. If you don’t already have a simple mat like this, you can easily obtain one of these ubiquitous things at a garage sale or the clearance rack at a home store.

Note: This is in an area where I don’t walk. If you’re going to walk around the area where you’re placing your dog’s food and water bowls, you may want a mat with a slip-proof backing.

Reuse Ignored Dog Toys… for Decoration

My brilliant dog improved upon it. She loves to move her toys about the house, but she pretty much always ignored the Nylabone I had given her as a puppy.

A few months ago she decided to move said Nylabone to the mat right beside her water bowl. And she never moved it again. I thought it was cute, and decorative, and I’ve left it there.

So, the moral of this story is that if you have an ignored dog toy, use it to decorate your doggy mat. You don’t have to worry about the dog moving it. Speaking of, here she is in 2014.

stella-water

Sweet and Simple and Cheap (Not the Dog, Well, Maybe)

The plain rug graced with a dog toy is so much cuter than a loud dog mat with random dog faces or “bow wow” written all over it. Who designs those things? It’s subtle, unlike my dog when she wants a walk. And it didn’t cost me anything. I just used things that were hanging around, waiting to be purposeful.

Oh, and you may be wondering where her food bowl is located. In our house, the two cats gather to be fed near the laundry room where I keep their food. So, this is also where the dog waits to be fed. (She has to do everything they do.) So, I just place her food bowl on an area rug near the laundry room, and the bowl is empty in two minutes! However, she prefers her water bowl in the kitchen.

What do you use under your dog’s bowls?

It’s Alive. Grizzly: The Bears of Greater Yellowstone

October 2nd, 2015

No, you wouldn’t want the long-clawed yet adorable grizzly in your living room, but now you can have the next best thing!

 

Grizzly-c0ver

 

Grizzly: The Bears of Greater Yellowstone is the culmination of 10 years of work, and it’s one of the most timely books to be published this year.

The bears almost became extinct due to logging, mining and poaching in the area in the 1970s. The Endangered Species Act saved the grizzlies, but they’re once again facing a threat from us.

 

baby-bears

 © Thomas D. Mangelsen

 

Believe it or not (I had trouble believing it!), grizzly bears may lose their federal protection. It may soon be legal to pursue them in trophy hunts right here in the United States.

Are you shocked? Read more about the status of grizzly bears at the NPS. Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.

 

Grizzly 610 and cubs walking along Pacific Creek Road.

Grizzly 610 and cubs walking along Pacific Creek Road.

 © Thomas D. Mangelsen

 

More about Grizzly: The Bears of Greater Yellowstone

This monograph is not only a great gift for the nature lover in your life, it also has all this:

  • The book honors and follows the most famous family of grizzly bears on this planet—matriarch 399 and her adorable offspring as they roam the Greater Yellowstone Park and the Rockies
  • More than 150 crisp and lovely (see for yourself in this post!) images from nature photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen, who tracked and photographed the bears for 10 years
  • A dramatic story of the near annihilation and ultimate survival of grizzly bears told by environmental writer Todd Wilkinson
  • Life-and-death stories, including those focusing on the relationship between people and grizzly bears
  • Forward by Ted Turner, whose foundations work for our safer, healthier future by addressing wildlife conservation, and other causes
  • High-quality 13” x 10 ½” hardcover that spans 240 pages with a nice cover hiding behind that also-nice dust jacket (What I’m saying here is that it will look good in your house, or inside a reusable gift bag)

 

Grizzly 399 and her three cubs cross Buffalo Fork in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Grizzly 399 and her three cubs cross Buffalo Fork in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

 © Thomas D. Mangelsen

 

This book will be released by Rizzoli on October 13, 2015. Follow the Rizzoli link, and you can find out where to buy the book locally or online.

 

Grizzly Bear 399 and cubs walking over snow-covered sagebrush in Grand Teton National Park.

Grizzly Bear 399 and cubs walking over snow-covered sagebrush in Grand Teton National Park.

 © Thomas D. Mangelsen

 

Let’s close with what Tom Brokaw had to say:

Tom Mangelsen is a photographic genius at bringing nature’s greatest creatures into our lives—and his work with the magnificent grizzly bears of the American West is a gift for all generations. We have grizzly visitors in Montana—usually a mama and a pair of cubs—and their presence stirs the soul for they are the essence of wild. Tom’s photographs and Todd Wilkinson’s narrative capture all of that without the need to find an escape route!” —Tom Brokaw

 

sunset-grizzly
© Thomas D. Mangelsen

How to Get Cats to Drink More Water

May 29th, 2015

Do you also struggle with an elusive water drinker? For years, I filled my cat’s little water bowl. I never saw him drink from it, but I refreshed it anyway.

After an emergency room visit for a bladder problem years ago, I  had to make sure he got plenty of wet food. I think this was his plan, but that’s another story. So, now I see my kitty cat of 12 years drinking water all the time. You know what changed?

cat-hair

 

The Solution: A Dog Bowl

My cat started drinking out of the large stainless steel water bowl belonging to my 70-pound dog.

No, he doesn’t like dog-slobbered water, but he’s commandeered the dog’s second water bowl. The dog learned to make do with one water bowl at most times.

I think my cat likes the dog’s bowl because it’s large. But the stainless steel bowl is great because it’s easy to clean, and healthier than plastic. And it’s unbreakable!

Cheap and Easy Alternative to Pet Fountains

So, if you’re considering spending a lot of money on one of those fancy plastic motorized contraptions (cat fountains) that require tedious cleaning and replacement filters (I hear, but I’ve never had one), don’t do it. Get a big pan of water instead!

You can buy a nice steel water bowl designed for large dogs for about $10. I would recommend against getting one with a rubber bottom, as those have more of an odor. Place the bowl on a mat to prevent skidding.

Do it! And watch your kitty drink at last. But still give him wet food. Cats rule, and they deserve to eat like royalty. Of course, cats have distinct personalities, and you’ll never know for sure if this will work until you give it a try!

Appreciate the Kitty Kiss

February 13th, 2015

Cat in Your Engine? Winter Pet Safety Tips from the ASPCA

February 6th, 2015

It’s cold out there! The ASPCA put together this new infographic with tips to help you keep our furry pets and feline ferals safe this winter.  Continue reading »

Most Adorable Kitten Graduation Photos You’ll See Anywhere

November 5th, 2014

Just in case you’re having a bad day, here are some smile-inducing images from the graduation of the ASPCA Kitten Nursery

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The kitten nursery is the very first high-volume facility located in New York City that’s dedicated to care of this vulnerable (and cute) population. It began in the summer of 2014. Continue reading »

Natural Dog Treats, Made in USA

October 20th, 2014

I always read labels on food I buy for myself, but I do that for my pets as well. It matters! I stay away from brands that have had recalls, and I never buy any pet treats or food that are sourced from China.

So, where do you turn for good, natural dog treats? Asking your local pet store about options is a good place to start. You’ll have better luck with the local pet store chains, not the big ones. However, some big pet stores have started to carry more natural options.

Whenever I get the chance, I test out new natural dog treats for my rescue pup Stella. (Well, she’s the one who eats them. I just give them to her, but she loves her job.) So, I agreed to receive a couple bags of Look Who’s Happy dog treats for review here.

And Stella loves these! My cat Choco wanted to try them out too. But cats are always curious…. (Time for honesty: My cat got into a little spat with Stella over these treats, but it’s all good now. I have a horribly shot video of this, but who wants to see a dog get whipped by a cat?)

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The Story

Look Who’s Happy dog treats are made by Big Creek Foods, founded by two brothers, Jeff and Tommy Gay. All treats are made in Gainesville, Georgia. And I’ve got to wonder who does their photography. These are the happiest-looking dogs I’ve seen on packaging!

Look Who’s Happy highlights 

Safe Dog Treats: The brothers operate their own private processing facility according to FDA food safety production guidelines. They even meet much higher standards than the pet food regulations require. Plus, every meat and poultry ingredient is sourced from the USA, Canada or New Zealand (never China), and is USDA-inspected.

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Natural Dog Treats: Look Who’s Happy treats contain no by-products, or artificial stuff (like preservatives, colors or flavors). The treats are also grain and gluten free. Fetch’n Fillets and Tempt’n Tenders are even made with whole muscle meat or poultry. And, of course, the treats are slow-cooked for great taste. Apparently, they are so expertly cooked, even cats want them!

Do you feed natural dog treats? And, does your cat ever try to steal dog treats?

Your Dog Wants Real Meat Too.

August 19th, 2014

Stella, my 75-pound rescue dog that everyone says looks like a miniature Irish Wolfhound, barked at the FedEx guy who delivered her Bravo Crunchy Delights treats. Note: I received a free sample of Bravo treats.

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But soon Stella caught on that the package was for her. Curious as always, my cat Choco had to approve of the treats first, leaving Stella to whimper patiently!

 

Choco licks and approves Stella's new dog treats.

We tried a couple of “leave it” commands, and Stella dutifully waited until I gave her the “get it” command.

Stella waiting for the command to eat her dog treat.

Then, she enjoyed the crunchy goodness!

Blur as she goes for the treat.

Bravo dog treats really do look like homemade dog cookies.  Continue reading »