Saturday, April 30, 2011


Patrick, the rescued Pit Bull continues to improve. But rescue is never an easy undertaking. Associated Humane Societies continues to post progress reports.

Please remember. If you wish to contribute to animals in need, be sure that you know for a certainty that the organization to which you contribute is directly involved in the rescue and or care of individual animals. Organizations whose primary activity is "advocacy" all too often drain important resources from rescues that desperately need funds for desperate animals.

There is no national umbrella organization for humane societies. Investigate the actual work that an organization does before contributing. It is scandalous that organizations that have had no part in the expensive effort to rescue and rehabilitate Patrick are trying to capitalize on his misery and are deflecting donations from the true rescuers, Associated Humane Societies.

Closer to home--I hope. Early this morning as Bingley, Magic and I were completing our walk, we heard a coyote killing party in the hills just north of our neighborhood. Perhaps this signals their return. Before long, it will be warm enough for snakes. Some predator is going to find all the rabbits now hopping all over our subdivision--and multiplying under our deck. I prefer coyotes, hawks and owls to snakes.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chickens And Ducks And Rabbits, Oh No!

Every year, adorable baby critters are sold into misery so that self indulgent adults can catch a few pictures of their young children cuddling a breathing ball of down or fuzz.

Few families are prepared to make the life accommodations required to provide a humane home for an adult chicken, duck or rabbit. And no. Confinement in a cage for 23 of 24 hours a day is NOT humane treatment of a rabbit.

Years ago we were so plagued by snails that I seriously contemplated acquiring a duck to help with snail control. But a kind friend educated me about the challenging details of cleaning up after a duck. Eventually we moved to a neighborhood in San Marcos where some thoughtful person had imported common snails' only successful predator: decollate snails. And I didn't have to clean up after them.

Not long after all the Easter candy has been eaten, the few rescues that have facilities for chickens and ducks and rabbits will be inundated with new residents. Those will be the lucky ones. The majority will be abandoned to a hostile environment to live out a brief life of misery.

If you must give a child a soft, cuddly animal for Easter, make it a stuffed toy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I've been under the weather for several weeks, so Bingley, Magic and I did not take our usual Monday morning walk with Marilyn, Franklin, Hattie and Odie. Yesterday we resumed our walk and Bingley and Magic couldn't have been happier or more excited.

As we walked, I studied each dog and considered their histories.

Franklin, the senior member of our pack, is a mix of Greyhound and some unknown breed. He "passes" as a Greyhound until you study him closely. He was rescued as a puppy, covered with mange. Not exactly the sort of dog that most people are eager to bring into their homes. In fact, not the sort of dog most rescues rescue. But at fifteen months, after a few unsuccessful placements, Franklin found a home with Marilyn and her husband. Franklin required daily doses of Inteceptor to get his mange under control, but eventually, it disappeared and now he sports a soft red coat. He's a happy, confident dog who loves to go to Show and Tells which promote Greyhound Adoption Center. He's getting on in years and the arthritis in his hindquarters shows in his gait. But he's a wonderful companion and has had a good life with Marilyn's family.

Hattie, short for Manhattan, is an ex-racer who was also a "hard to place" dog. She's something of a loner and a little opinionated. Hattie suffers from an auto-immune disorder which makes her nose peel from time to time and can affect her paw-pads. But Marilyn took her in and helped integrate her into her home. Hattie is living the good life now.

Odie, Marilyn's newest pack member, also has issues. He suffers from a chronic eye condition which compromises his vision. He has separation anxiety and needs other dogs around to feel secure. But he is settling into his new home. He seems to know that he belongs.

Bingley, my sweet tempered, aw shucks cowboy, was rescued from a "death hauler" carrying two dead Greyhounds and three starving, hungry Greyhounds. Bingley's digestive system will apparently always show evidence of his near starvation. He needs prescription dog food and quantities of Pepto Bismol to keep his delicate insides functioning close to normal. He's high prey and a little tricky to walk on leash. But John and I wouldn't have missed him for the world.

Then we have Magic, our Greyhound/Deerhound princess, who was essentially unsocialized to humans--particularly men--when she was rescued with her puppies and the puppies' father. She was difficult to manage in the kennel, barking at all passersby and leading a little band of escapees one evening when a staff person wasn't paying attention. That sort of behavior gets a girl labeled "hard to place." But in the seventeen months she has lived with us, she has made great strides: accepts John as a good person, loves her walks, lets us know when she wants to go outside. And cuddles up next to me on the sofa just about every morning.

I understand that Dogs With Issues are not for every home. But if you are in a situation, a stage in life that permits taking one into your home, the rewards are indescribable.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Details, Details, Details

Some corrections and updates on the story of Patrick the Pit Bull.

At the time of Patrick's rescue, he was not taken immediately to Garden State Veterinary Specialists, but to Associated Humane Services, the emergency agency for abused and neglected animals in Newark, New Jersey. There he was stabilized before being transported to to Garden State Veterinary Specialists for long term care. And it is the Associated Humane Services who are paying and fundraising for Patrick's treatment. If Patrick's story has gripped you as it has me, I urge you to visit their website where both pictures and narrative tell Patrick's story.

Friends of Portia will be giving updates from Associated Humane Services website as Patrick's recovery continues. All paws are still crossed for him because he has a foreign object in his digestive track that cannot be removed immediately due to his fragile condition. We are well aware of long term problems following near starvation because our own darling Bingley was rescued in early stages of starvation and dehydration. Although Bingley's condition was far from the extreme suffered by Patrick, Bingley continues to have a very sensitive stomach, is on prescription dog food, and frequently requires a dose of Pepto Bismol to aid his digestion. We hope and pray that Patrick will gain sufficient weight and strength so that the foreign object issue can be resolved.

Incidentally, Associated Humane Services is a a local humane agency not affiliated with Humane Society of the United States. Many people donate to HSUS thinking that it is the umbrella organization for all local humane societies. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If you wish to help distressed animals in a specific locality, give to a local agency or rescue. They are the people who day after day deal directly with the objects of human neglect and cruelty. They deserve your support.

Friday, April 8, 2011

It's An Ill Wind That Blows No Good

The day before St. Patrick's Day, a Pit Bull was found in the trash of a New Jersey apartment house. The poor creature's ribs were showing in graphic relief. He was so weak, he couldn't stand.

Named Patrick for the approaching saint's day and his reddish coat, he was rushed to Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls. Dr. Thomas Scavelli, director of the hospital said that usually an animal in Patrick's state would be humanely euthanized, but Patrick looked up into the doctor's eyes, seemingly pleading for his life. So the staff did what they could to save him and Patrick did the rest.

He's still far from healthy, but prospects are good that Patrick will one day find his way into his forever home where he will be loved and cared for.

His story has inspired world wide sympathy. Gifts and messages are flooding the hospital where he will remain for an indefinite time as he recovers.

And the good news is that the attention being paid his situation has enabled Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, to launch a fundraising campaign for a state-of-the-art animal shelter to be named for Patrick.

Some people are concentrating on assuring punishment for the perpetrator of the callous neglect that almost led to Patrick's dying in agony. It does appear that she will be answering several charges of animal neglect. But Friends of Portia, while believing in serious consequences for animal neglect thinks that public service at animal shelters and heavy fines are more relevant consequences for perpetrators than jail time.

Meanwhile, Patrick has become the mascot of Garden State Veterinary Specialists. He plays with the toys sent to him by well-wishers, follows staff around, and is always available for pats and attention. No looking back. No recriminations. No hostility to humans for what he has suffered.

"Going to the dogs" should be a compliment.