Best kept secret in the battle to end animal abuse by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and Deborah Knaan
Attorney Deborah Knaan creator of the B.A.R.C. curriculum

I recently became reacquainted with an important program in Los Angeles.  Although, this program could be useful in every community in the United States, it appears to me to be one of the best kept secrets in the battle to mitigate animal cruelty and abuse in our communities.

I’m talking about the Benchmark Animal Rehabilitative Curriculum (B.A.R.C.).  B.A.R.C. is a unique online animal abuse prevention course designed to educate and rehabilitate individuals who have demonstrated a propensity to mistreat animals.

The B.A.R.C. course is appropriate for adults and juveniles (aged 15-17).  The course is only open to individuals referred by a member of the criminal justice system (judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, or probation officer); an animal control professional; a social services agency; an educational institution (teachers and school counselors); or a mental health professional.

B.A.R.C. uses eProktor, an advanced facial recognition technology, to authenticate and ensure that the individual referred to the course is indeed taking it.

When it comes to animal cruelty and abuse, it is important for law enforcement to be proactive, rather than just reactive.  In most communities, law enforcement lacks a tool able to help mitigate the prospect that an animal abuser will transgress again.  B.A.R.C. is that tool!

B.A.R.C. is designed to help preclude the customary escalation of animal abuse by intervening with strategies and education designed to change minds and behaviors.

Having been involved in animal welfare and animal cruelty enforcement for some 30 years, I believe the B.A.R.C. course can enhance the way our criminal justice system and animal control professionals address the mindset and beliefs that cause some people to abuse animals and participate in cruel activities, like dogfighting, cockfighting and worse.

Ed Boks and B.A.R.C.The B.A.R.C. course is a valuable tool for any professional seeking to prevent animal abuse.  The program addresses the reasons why some people mistreat animals in a way designed to change, mitigate or eliminate future cruel behavior. The B.A.R.C. course directly addresses the reasons with a solution. The B.A.R.C. course may be the essential component missing in your community’s rehabilitative plan for offenders seeming to lack empathy for animals, or possessing a propensity to harm them.

Having served as the Chief Animal Control Enforcement Agent in communities from New York City to Los Angeles, I reviewed and sent to prosecution hundreds of animal cruelty cases.  I am convinced that the majority of those defendants would have benefited mightily from B.A.R.C.

Humane education properly dispensed can be more effective, with longer-lasting results, than incarceration, fines, or community service.

Visit http://barceducation.org/ and share this information with local judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation officers, animal control professionals, social services agencies, teachers, school counselors, and mental health professionals.  It is time we let this cat out of the bag!

For more information on life-saving programs visit: edboks.com

Buyer beware: Make sure you’re not supporting puppy mills by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and puppy mills
Don’t shop puppy mills or pet stores; opt to adopt at an animal shelter!

In an unforgettable edition of “Oprah” in 2010, national attention was focused on the “puppy mill.”  Puppy mills provide an unending supply of often purebred puppies to a public with an insatiable appetite for them, an appetite that has created a situation ripe for abuse. Puppy mills force dogs to produce litter after litter just for profit. These dogs are often plagued with disease, malnutrition, and loneliness.

Oprah’s intrepid investigative reporter found bitches who could barely walk after living a life of immobilized confinement. When people buy a puppy from a pet shop, newspaper ad or from the Internet, they are often supporting a cruel industry.

Puppy mills frequently house dogs in shockingly poor conditions, particularly the “breeding stock” who are caged and continually bred for years, without human companionship, and then killed, abandoned or sold to another “miller” after their fertility wanes.

These dogs are bred repeatedly without the prospect of ever becoming part of a family themselves. The result is hundreds of thousands of puppies churned out each year for sale at pet stores, over the Internet, and through newspaper ads. This practice will end only when people stop buying puppy mill puppies.

How do you separate fact from fiction? 

1. Pet stores cater to impulsive buyers seeking convenient transactions. Unlike responsible rescuers and breeders, these stores don’t interview prospective buyers to ensure responsible, lifelong homes for the pets they sell, and the stores may be staffed by employees with limited knowledge about pets and pet care.

2. Puppy mill puppies often have medical problems. These problems can lead to veterinary bills in the thousands of dollars. Pet retailers count on the bond between families and their new puppies being so strong that the puppies won’t be returned. And guarantees are often so difficult to comply with that they are virtually useless. In addition, poor breeding and socialization practices can lead to behavioral problems throughout the puppies’ lives.

3. A “USDA-inspected” breeder does not mean a “good” breeder. Be wary of claims that pet stores sell animals only from “USDA-inspected” breeders. The USDA enforces the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which regulates commercial breeding operations. But the act doesn’t require all commercial breeders to be licensed, and the USDA enforces only minimum-care standards and its inspection team is chronically understaffed. Breeders are required to provide food, water, and shelter, but not love, socialization, or freedom from confining cages. Many USDA-licensed and inspected puppy mills operate under squalid conditions with known violations of the AWA. Federal law prevents state and local authorities from blocking the shipping and sale of these animals across state lines, placing the burden on the customer to educate themselves.

4. Many disreputable breeders sell dogs directly to the public over the Internet and through newspaper ads. They often sell several breeds, but may advertise each breed separately and not in one large advertisement or website. These breeders are not inspected by any federal agency and, in many states, are not inspected by anyone at all.

5. Reputable breeders care where their puppies go and interview prospective adopters. They don’t sell through pet stores or to families they haven’t thoroughly checked out.

6. Purebred “papers” do not guarantee the quality of the breeder or the dog. Even the American Kennel Club (AKC) admits that it “cannot guarantee the quality or health of dogs in its registry.”

When looking for a pet, do not buy from a pet store, and be wary of websites and newspaper ads. Don’t buy a dog if you can’t physically visit every area of the home or breeding facility where the seller keeps the dog.

Puppy mills will continue until people stop buying their dogs. Putting them out of business should be a goal of every dog lover. Instead, visit your local shelter or respectable rescue individual or organization where you will find a wide selection of healthy, well-socialized puppies and adult dogs – including purebreds – just waiting for that special home – yours.

How do you define compassion? by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and Safety NetOver the years I have come to understand compassion as a deep awareness of the suffering experienced by another – coupled with the desire to relieve it.  Compassion is more vigorous than sympathy or empathy, compassion gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering – making compassion the essential component in what manifests in our social context as altruism.

In ethical terms, the “Golden Rule” may best embody the principle of compassion: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Compassion does not simply mean caring deeply about someone else’s suffering. Compassion actually causes you to get personally involved. Compassion manifests in the face of cruelty, moving you to say out loud, “This is wrong” – and it moves you to actually do something to end the suffering.

It is not uncommon for those of us working in animal welfare to encounter cries for help from victims of domestic violence.  Domestic issues involving humans are not usually within the purview of an animal organization.  However, its not uncommon to receive a call that causes us to say out loud, “This is wrong.” These calls involve women looking to escape their desperate situations – feeling like hostages in their own homes, unable to leave because their abusers threaten to harm the family pet(s) should they attempt to do so.

Finding a safe place for these pets is prerequisite to these women getting the help they need. What can animal shelters do to help when they are already overflowing with lost and homeless animals?  By way of some rather circuitous routes, I have been able to help in some small ways – but I’ve learned it is important that animal shelters to not be caught so flat-footed when these needs come knocking at the door.  We must be able to respond better and more quickly.

Domestic violence and partner abuse is not an animal shelter problem. Domestic violence is a community problem. Abuse comes in many forms, both verbal and physical. Verbal abuse and manipulative behavior can be as destructive to the soul as violence is to the body. Women, children and pets should never be victimized or cruelly treated regardless of the situation. To do so is wrong.

Compassion is what moves us to do something about a wrong, but we are ill-equipped to do it alone. These types of complex problems need a community response that ensures victims of violence never go unheard.

That is why I developed a program called Safety Net designed to help pets stay with their families through difficult financial times, dislocations, hospitalizations, evictions, and yes, domestic turbulence.  Often families face crises that prompt abandonment of a beloved pet, even though the crisis is likely to be temporary.

When properly funded, the Safety Net program can help pet owners weather such storms by providing emergency foster placement, veterinary help, counseling and other remedies to help prevent a pet from losing its home and family because of a temporary crisis.

Sadly, we seldom have enough funds to assist people within this narrow mission. Clearly, a Safety Net program is not sufficient to meet the needs arising from domestic abuse. What is needed is a community-wide safety net – a program with financial sponsors and service and product partners. Partners able to provide human and/or pet boarding, pet grooming and supplies, veterinary services, social services and doctors are vital. We need partners who recognize that abuse and cruelty are wrong and are moved to do something to ease that suffering – rather than look the other way. Together we can create this community-wide safety net so no one has to stay in a terrible situation in order to protect a loved one.

If you are interested in creating a safety net program, or other life saving programs, in your community to help alleviate human and animal suffering, contact me at here.

What we learned from Marty Crane and Eddie by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and John Mahoney
John Mahoney and “Eddie” modeled the joy and health benefits pets provide our senior citizens

Many will rightly sing the praises due the remarkable actor, John Mahoney, who died today.  However, I want to take a moment to point out the important public health service Mahoney provided through his character on the popular TV series Frazier.  “Marty Crane” and his loyal dog “Eddie”  beautifully presented the many wonderful benefits pets afford our senior citizens.

According to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society there are many health benefits for seniors who have a pet or two. In fact, the Journal states there are many benefits for the seniors, the pets and society as a whole. Geriatric researchers found seniors with pets more active than seniors without pets and they score higher in their ability to carry out normal activities of daily living. Many positive effects on physical well-being are identified, including a healthy ability to fend off isolation and loneliness.

The Journal report says that pet ownership has a statistically significant effect on the physical health of older people. Further, the care-taking role involved in pet ownership may provide older people a sense of purpose and responsibility and encourages them to be less apathetic and more active in day-to-day activities. In fact, researchers found that elderly people who lacked strong social support (family and friends) remained relatively emotionally healthy during life-crises compared with non-pet-owners placed in similar situations. The evidence demonstrates that pets provide real health benefits to the elderly.

10 health reasons why pets are great for seniors

1. Pets lower blood pressure: A study of health patients showed that people over 40 who own pets had lower blood pressure than people who did not have pets. Another study showed that talking to pets decreases blood pressure.

2. Fewer trips to the doctor: Seniors who own pets go to the doctor less than those who do not. In a study of 1,000 Medicare patients, even the most highly stressed pet owner in the study had 21 percent fewer physician’s contacts than non-pet owners.

3. Less depression: Studies show that seniors with pets do not become depressed as often as those without pets.

4. Easier to make friends: Seniors with pets meet more people and like to talk about their pets.

5. Seniors become more active: Seniors with pets are generally more active than those without pets.

6. Pets are friends: Most everyone, but especially seniors, will say that pets are their friends.

7. Pets ease loss: Older people who suffer the loss of a spouse and own a pet are less likely to experience deterioration in health following that stressful event.

8. Pets fight loneliness: You are less likely to be lonely with a feline friend around.

9. Taking better care of themselves: Seniors take good care of their pets and better care of themselves when they own a pet.

10. Sense of security: Pets help seniors to feel that someone they trust is always around.

Marty and Eddie provided hundreds of examples of these benefits over nine years on the Frazier show.   If you are a senior citizen wanting to take advantage of all these health benefits please consider adopting one or two senior pets today.

What Ed Boks Consulting can mean to you!

Ed Boks in NYCThe name Ed Boks is associated with life saving programs and results.  Ed Boks has managed three of the largest animal control programs in the United States; Maricopa County, AZ, New York City and Los Angeles.  He also successfully transformed Yavapai County, AZ into the a “no-kill” community while serving as the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society.

Life saving results is the one consistent hallmark in all of Ed Boks’ assignments.  “If people want to save lives, it can be done, but it will mean hard work and sometimes upsetting the status quo, and that will draw its share of naysayers.”

But there is no denying the results.  Ed Boks’  compassionate, non-lethal programs and strategies are proven to help the greatest number of animals at risk in any community.

In communities large and small, Ed Boks “know how” reduced killing to  historic lows, while transforming animal shelters into high volume pet adoption and safety net programs.  Ed Boks effectively replaces historic “catch and kill” methodologies with a new generation of life-saving, user and animal friendly programs.  Ed Boks can do the same for your community!

For more information on how visit:  Ed Boks Services