Today is opening day for Prescott Frontier Days considered the World’s Oldest Rodeo. Established in 1888, the event has occurred over every 4th of July weekend for 130 years – and features breath-taking performances that can result in animals suffering broken ribs, backs, and legs, torn tails, punctured lungs, internal organ damage, ripped tendons, torn ligaments, snapped necks, and agonizing deaths.
During those six years western and central Yavapai County became the safest region in the United States for dogs and cats, having ended the use of killing/euthanasia to control pet overpopulation. So successful was YHS in protecting dogs and cats that during my last two years at YHS, the society expanded its mission to include promoting and protecting the health, welfare and safety of horses. Continue reading “Rodeo: state sanctioned animal cruelty by Ed Boks”
The New York Times ran a piece by Jessica Pierce awhile back that asked the provocative question “Is your pet lonely and bored?” Today there are as many pets in the United States as there are people; and in most homes pets are family — and not just dogs and cats, but rabbits, rats, bearded dragons and snakes.
According to many veterinarians and psychologists this phenomenon is evidence of a deepening “human-animal bond.” Scientists studying animal cognition and emotion are continually peeling back the mysteries of animal minds, revealing an incredible and often surprising richness in the thoughts and feelings of other creatures. Continue reading “Is your pet suffering? by Ed Boks”
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.
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. Continue reading “Best kept secret in the battle to end animal abuse by Ed Boks”
Speaker of the House, Republican David Gowan, who is also running for Congress, is one of the prime sponsors of a bill raising serious concerns among people who understand the importance of strong prohibitions against animal cruelty.
House Bill 2330 will delight the corporate agriculture lobbyists who helped craft it to look like an animal protection bill – but in reality, this legislation is designed to repeal the few protections millions of animals have in Arizona.
HB 2330 is nearly identical to the first bill Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed after taking office last year. Again animal-welfare advocates are asking state representatives to defeat a bill intent on weakening the state’s current animal-cruelty laws.
The bill would remove livestock and poultry from Arizona’s definition of animals in the criminal code – stripping them of any protection from anti-cruelty laws. Further, the bill omits the crime of “abandonment” and the requirement to provide medical care to farm animals – both of which are crimes under current law. Under HB 2330, a person could abandon his horse in the desert and leave it to die without penalty.
HB 2330 would also forbid any city, town or county from enacting laws tougher than this watered-down bill. For example, in 1996, the City of Phoenix enacted an ordinance banning home slaughter of livestock following an investigation of people slaughtering goats in apartment complexes. Under HB 2330, local governments will be powerless to address issues like this in their communities.
One bizarre requirement of HB 2330 is that the Department of Agriculture Director has to be notified of any investigation of livestock abuse. The bill actually requires police officers investigating livestock abuse to notify civilians in the Department of Agriculture, thereby compromising ongoing criminal investigations. No other area of law enforcement requires such an outside notification.
HB 2330 not only threatens sensitive animal cruelty investigations conducted by law enforcement, it literally puts the fox in charge of the hen house.
HB 2330 revokes protections that all animals in Arizona have benefited from for decades and puts the welfare of certain animals at substantial risk – without any corresponding benefit or legitimate justification.
Watching the Department of Agriculture trying to undermine existing animal-cruelty statutes begs the question, “What are they trying to hide?” If most farmers and agricultural people treat their animals well, as I am convinced they do, why do they need to be exempt from animal-cruelty statutes?
The Yavapai Humane Society shares the concern of many lawmakers that animal welfare groups were not invited to be involved in the drafting of this bill nor were they even allowed to participate in any stakeholder meetings.
In a letter announcing his veto of a similar bill last year, Ducey explained, “we all agree animal cruelty is inexcusable and absolutely will not be tolerated in the state of Arizona. No animal should be the victim of abuse. Moreover, perpetrators must be held to account and properly penalized to the fullest extent of the law.
“We must ensure that all animals are protected, and [be] mindful that increasing protections for one class of animals does not inadvertently undercut protections of another,” which is exactly what HB 2330 intentionally does.
HB 2330 is bad law. We can do better. Let your state representatives know how you feel.
Although the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) has been providing animal shelter services to our community for 43 years, it was only five and a half years ago that YHS embraced what we have come to call our “no-kill ethic.” We define this ethic as applying the same criteria to determining a homeless pets’ fate that a pet owner or conscientious veterinarian would apply to a beloved family pet. That is, healthy and treatable animals are not euthanized (killed) simply because of a lack of resources.
Once this life-affirming ethic was implemented, the practical consequences immediately began to fall into place. Embracing and practicing the no-kill ethic has resulted in our community becoming the region in the United States for dogs and cats – for five consecutive years. Euthanasia/killing has been effectively eliminated as a tool to control pet overpopulation in our community and overcrowding in our shelter. Killing has been replaced by a robust low-cost spay/neuter and pet identification (microchip) programs. Spay/neuter programs reduce the number of unwanted pets and pet identification programs allow for the quick return of lost pets to their frantic owners.
A perfect example of an animal benefiting from the YHS no-kill ethic is Ziggy – a 2-year-old intact male Tibetan spaniel mix. Ziggy was found by animal control on Dec. 1. He was abandoned by his owners with an apparent broken leg.
Upon arrival, the YHS medical team found Ziggy had suffered severe trauma. X-rays revealed two broken legs: his right front leg had fractures of the radius and ulna and his left front leg had metacarpal fractures. We splinted both front legs and started him on pain medications. YHS veterinarian consulted with a private practice veterinary orthopedic surgeon.
The decision was made to transport Ziggy to a local veterinary hospital in Phoenix where Ziggy was examined and immediately scheduled for surgery. His multiple fractures were repaired with plates, screws and a tension splint. Ziggy’s recovery is expected to take 6 to 8 weeks and is made possible thanks to YHS’ compassionate foster care giving volunteers. The orthopedic surgeon felt the fractures could be old injuries suggesting criminal cruelty and neglect may have been involved.
Typically, the cost for this surgery would exceed $4,300; however, the private veterinarian graciously agreed to charge YHS only $2,800 for this lifesaving surgery. Ziggy is now a STAR Animal.
STAR (Special Treatment And Recovery) is a donation funded program designed to ensure animals in critical need of medical care beyond the scope of the YHS budget are not denied the care they need to survive. These animals are sadly routinely euthanized in many other shelters.
If you would like to help animals like Ziggy please make sure your local shelter has a STAR Program you can make a tax deductible donation. Your donation will help ensure your local shelter has the funds available to help the next rescued animal in need of life saving medical care.
I’m often asked how the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) maintains its “no-kill” status. (“no-kill” is defined as applying the same criteria to deciding a homeless animal’s fate that a devoted pet owner or a conscientious veterinarian would apply to a beloved pet). Since embracing this ethic in July 2010, pet euthanasia in our community has declined 94 percent, and 97 percent of all the animals rescued are re-homed (compared to the national average of about 40 percent).
How do we do this? Every animal shelter has “decision points.” YHS refers to these as our “moments of truth” – junctures where we ask ourselves if we’re being true to our no-kill ethic or are we capitulating to expediency because of a perceived lack of resources.
Let me share a true story to help illustrate how YHS responds to moments of truth. On a Wednesday this past April a Good Samaritan found a severely injured four year old cat hit by a car. The Samaritan rushed the cat to YHS where we found no microchip, collar or ID. This sweet cat was clearly someone’s pet; but now she was alone and scared.
Moment of Truth 1: Euthanize or treat?
The trauma was severe. No one would have faulted YHS for humanely euthanizing this cat at that moment. In fact, it is common practice in many shelters to immediately euthanize severely injured animals at impound. Instead, the YHS medical team jumped into action and stabilized, evaluated and diagnosed the cat – finding a right femoral head fracture and gross hematuria. She was befittingly named Tuscany, defined in the Urban Dictionary as a “perfect mixture of art and wisdom.”
Moment of Truth 2: Euthanize or operate?
Tuscany’s prognosis was good so the YHS medical team performed surgery. However, weeks of recovery were now necessary – requiring prolonged use of cage space that could otherwise benefit many other cats.
Moment of Truth 3: Euthanize or Foster
To benefit the greatest number of animals, Tuscany was placed into Foster Care with a qualified YHS volunteer. While in Foster Care our volunteer discovered a lump – demonstrating the value of the individualized attention foster volunteers provide. The YHS Chief Veterinarian was consulted and confirmed three masses had acutely developed – suggesting cancer.
Moment of Truth 4: Euthanize or test?
To make an informed decision, biopsies were performed. Two tests were negative; the third discovered fibrosarcoma, a type of soft tissue cancer. Prognosis in such cases, even with surgery, projected a mean survival time of about 19 months. Recovery would take weeks and the trauma would negatively impact Tuscany’s remaining quality of life.
Moment of Truth 5: Euthanize or hospice?
In many shelters, euthanasia would be the only remaining option. YHS had three: uncertain surgery, euthanasia, or keep her comfortable until the tumor metastasizes. Because Tuscany has significant quality of life, she was placed in the YHS Hospice Program – where she is thriving in a home dedicated to ensuring her remaining months are filled with tender loving care.
Multiply Tuscany’s story by 3,500 animals annually and you begin to understand the challenge. Every animal has a story – and our mission is to create as many happy endings as possible.
Tuscany’s story underscores how YHS depends on exceptional employees and compassionate volunteers and supporters. If you’d like to volunteer to provide foster or hospice care to a needy animal, contact your local shelter. If you’d like to help support lifesaving programs financially, send your tax-deductible gift to your local shelter or call for information on giving opportunities. Together we can keep this dream alive.