Saturday, October 22, 2011

Urgent Plea - Help Peace, Love and Animals Save Woody

I received and urgent plea from Peace, Love and Animals.  One of their rescue puppies is in need of vet help and the bills are mounting.    Please read the Melissa's plea for help and see if you can make a difference.


Friends and family of Peace Love and Animals:

Today I, Melissa, am issuing a challenge to all of us:

Last night one the puppies in our care, Woody (a Staffie/Dobie mix),
spent the night at the Decatur ER vet. His bill this morning was
$1000, paid in full by Cathy, our director. Woody needed this stay so
that they could monitor his vitals, keep IV fluids going, do a plasma
transfusion, and keep him medicated and get him strong before we
thought he'd surgery today to remove a foreign object in his abdomen.
This $1000 was ONLY for the overnight stay and isn't even taking into
consideration the surgery cost.

In an amazing turn of events, Woody passed the object that was in his
colon last night - we are SO VERY THANKFUL that this means no surgery
for Woody!!! He is still battling parvo and pneumonia, but that is one
less demon to fight! However we still have a very large outstanding
vet bill.

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Can you help us raise $500 by midnight tonight, to
cover the cost of Woody's stay? Three very generous, amazing donors
have already raised $500, which is a wonderful start. We operate
solely based on donations - you all are the salvation of our
organization and our dogs; dogs like Woody, who is only a couple of
months old and has been through so much already.

If you can find it in your heart to contribute anything, even a
little, we will be so amazingly grateful. All donations are
tax-deductible, and you will be sent a donation receipt for your tax
records. If you are unable to contribute right now, we ask that you
forward this message along to your friends and to please, pray for
Woody's quick recovery so that he can finally be a healthy, happy
puppy like he deserves to be. We will do everything in our power to
make that happen.

To help, visit
and donate online via PayPal

OR you can phone in a donation to 256 233 4343

OR if you would like to mail a donation, we are located at
19135 Nuclear Plant Road
Tanner, AL 35671
(checks may be made out to "Peace Love and Animals" and we would be
glad to send back a donation receipt if you need one)

I thank you all for your amazing support of our organization, as does Woody.

Peace Love and Animals

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Feral Cat Awareness Day - October 16, 2011

Feral Cat Awareness Day is probably not being marked by many people today.  It's not a subject that is garnering national headlines.  It is an issue that impacts communities both big and small.  Colonies of abandoned and often un-neutered or un-spayed cats that can number in the hundreds hold up in holes, abandoned areas, or roaming the streets.  These unwanted animals become fearful and timid of humans making it difficult to care for them - but it's not impossible.

Many groups are coming forth to capture, spay/neuter, and release these forlorned kittens and cats to help control these burgeoning populations.  Local humane societies are beginning to participate in such programs.  Individuals are taking up the cause and spending their own time and money to care for these animals including spaying/neutering and medical needs.

Outdoor living shortens the lives of animals.  The elements take a toll on them as much as they do us.  The lack of food and clean water contributes to malnutrition, illness, and death.  To the animal lover, these are unbearable conditions that we, as a society, can prevent.


Consider in participating in the local humane societies that are working with the feral cat colonies - including trapping, spay/neutering clinics, and caretaking.

Donations of money, food and time can help reduce feral cat colonies populations.  

Spay and neuter your pet to prevent unwanted litters and illness.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Largest Puppy Mill Seizure in Quebec Rescues 500 Dogs

According to a recent Toronto Star article, the Canadian Branch of the Humane Society International rescued 500 dogs and puppies from a breeding facility in southern Quebec.  This has been, by far, is being considered  the largest seizure in Canada and has overwhelmed not only the organization but the emotions of animal lovers everywhere.

Many of the dogs are suffering with a "cold" or "kennel cough", some with mange, some with orthopedic issues, while others are overcoming being dehydrated. Many of the dogs and puppies are coping with issues emotional and physical neglect-- some not having been socialized since birth.  The dogs range in size, age, and a variety of breeds.  It's unclear where the dogs may have originated from - stolen from owners, strays, or purchased.  It is clear, however, that the dogs were maintained minimally and for capital gain only.

Several volunteers have stated that several of these animals are very friendly and interactive when contact occurs.  This leaves me to wonder - how many of these dogs are former family pets?   The puppy mill dogs that I have sadly encountered in shelters have been shy and often fear contact with humans.  They cringe at your approach let alone your hand near them.

Shelter operations started at 3:30am on September 17th with the last round of rescued dogs and puppies arriving at 11:30pm the following day.  Veterinarians and  volunteers swiftly went to work assessing the health of each dog and puppy.  Many volunteers set forth offering the best medicine available - love and attention.  Stories are beginning to feel the Humane Society International-Canada site of success - a Lhasa Apso that enjoyed sunshine and lay in the grass for what is believed the first time, month old Pomeranian recovering from neglect and dehydration, a Tibetan Terrier free of her breeding conditions to thrive and the blossoming of 100's of dogs and puppies into joyful and healthy creatures.

The rescue operation is made possible in part from funding, much-needed sheltering supplies, and pet food by PetSmart Charities®, Nutrience (Rolf C. Hagen Inc.), Nestle Purina Pet Care, Kane Vet Supplies, Hunter Brand Inc. and Messageries Dynamiques.

I deeply encourage anyone who has lost or had stolen a dog in  Eastern Canada or New England -Midwestern US to consider contacting the Humane Society International of Canada about the possibility of your dog being among these 500.    Adoptions are believed to be possible after another month or so of rehabilitation.

If you would like to make an inquiry with the Humane Society International:

From files of the Toronto Star:
and the Humane Society International - Canada

Friday, July 29, 2011

HUNTSVILLE, AL - In Need of a Good Home

New mother and two kittens need a good home.
Presently in Huntsville, AL.
Kibble disappearing from the dog's dish was the first indicator that something was up in my friend's neighborhood.  So the stakeout commenced and it was discovered that a young, black female was hiding under a neighbor's car with her two young bushy tailed kittens.

As you can see from the photo, she's been outside for a while as her coat is dull and need of car.  She's spent most of her time trying to care and feed her young.  No one knows where she came from - apparently dropped off in the neighborhood.

What she and her kittens need is a home... and spaying and neutering.  If you have room in your life for a cat, please contact Animal Ark Blog and I'll help you get in touch with her present caretakers.

I encourage you not to judge her by her coat color.  She's a lovely cat whose just had a bad run of luck herself.  With love, care, and time - she could be a welcome addition to any home.

I hope we can give this little princess and her babes a happy ending.

UPDATE  September 24, 2011:

According to her caretaker, the mother cat is very good with other cats and dogs- including large playful ones.  She has adjusted well to being kept in the spare room and has joyful adjust to occasional forays into the rest of the house.  The kittens are weened and are playful and energetic and have adjusted to the dogs and other cats as well.

They are still available for adoption.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heat Hazard and Animals

Sure, the thermometer outside reads 96 degrees Fahrenheit and the weatherman tells us it feel likes 113 degrees.  You walk to the mailbox and back and your drenched from sweat.  You make yourself a tall, cold glass of lemonade to combat the swelter.  But how often do you think about the animals outside - be them pets, wild creatures, farm animals, or those housed in shelters or pounds?

I'll admit, I do think a lot about the heat with 2 black cats as they love the sun and heat on the screened in porch but don't know when to call it quits.  So I lug them in, occassionally to mad growls, and plop them down by the water bowl and inform them, "It's too hot to be out any longer... so enjoy some fresh water."  Occasionally, I'm forgiven quickly and other times - well - there have been some close calls at the top of the stairs.

Oh, It's Hot Outside-

Animals like humans are susceptible to heat and can experience heat exhaustion and heat related fatalities.  They don't have the luxury of dropping the A/C another degree or two to make things comfortable.  They can't just turn on the water and get an ice cold drink when they want.  They can't dress for the heat.  Their coping mechanism for heat are what nature gave them - panting, sweating (if they can), avoiding the sun, and drinking some liquid.

A lot of the steps we apply to ourselves should be considered for our furry friends.
  • Avoid the hottest part of the day - noon to 3pm.  
  • Keep plenty of fresh water available and check frequently to make sure no bird droppings, insect larvae or bacteria is present.  
  • Provide shade - who wants to spend all day in the sun with no escape - put up a tarp, old sheet, or relocate to a shaded portion of yard.  
  • Consider introducing ice cubes or frozen wet towels or toys for outdoor play. 
  • Install fans to keep the air moving - there are some new and inexpensive solar fans for attics and roofs that can be adapted for pet houses, bunny hutches, and other structures.  
  • Check on animals frequently - they can develop sunburns, heat exhaustion, or heat illnesses quickly especially if they are already diagnosed with an illness or condition.

 Not Just Dazed and Confused...

Some signs of heatstroke in animals to watch for include: heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, restlessness, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, and unconsciousness. If the animal shows symptoms of heatstroke, take steps immediately to gradually lower her body temperature and contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Here are some suggested tips that could save your pet's life if you notice any symptoms:
  • Move the animal into the shade or an air-conditioned area.
  • Apply ice packs or cold towels to his or her head, neck and chest or run cool (not cold) water over him or her.
  • Let him or her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
  • Take him or her directly to a veterinarian -as there can be serious side effect to heat crisis.

 More great information on helping animals in the heat, visit the Placer County California blog, Heat Stress in Pets and Livestock.

A Forgotten Summer Hazard
Now, another caution to the heat hazards is radiator overflow.  This time of year, cars overheat and the radiators can boil over leaving a puddle of radiator fluid behind.  Desperate animals looking for water might find this puddle and ingest it.  Make every effort to clean up boil-overs no matter where they happen.  Kitty-litter or oatmeal, a plastic bag, and cardboard to scoop up the absorbed overflow and dispose of it properly could save an animal from a very brutal and painful death from anti-freeze poisoning.

Remember Your Feather Friends-

Make sure birdbaths are clean and changed frequently.  The birds will most likely bath more frequently and splash more water out during the hotter days - so keep an eye on water levels.

Have a few planter saucers/bottoms setting around- why not make a few informal birdbaths about the yard?   Choose a location near shrubs but where birds would fill comfortable lighting for a quick splash and sip.

If you like to offer a little treat- chill or freeze melons pieces, berries, or even bird seed in water and set them out in trays for the birds to enjoy.

You're Not the Only One Getting Sunburned-

If you can't walk on the pavement - it probably hurting your furry friend to do the same.  Watch paws, noses, ears, scalps, and backs for signs of burns or cracks in the skin.  Just like with humans - sunburns can lead to skin cancer in animals.  Consult a Veterinarian if you notice burns, blisters, "moles" or nodules.

For our less fortunate furry friends --

Consider donating tarps to shelters for outdoor pens.  Your old box fan would probably be appreciated too to add a breeze to kennels, barns, hutches, and other animal holding areas.  Some shelters employ mister stations - check your local facilities as that may be an item to consider donating.  Ask the shelter if that old plastic pool the kids won't play in anymore would be helpful.  Some shelters with horse and cattle that have been rescued have even employed old tubs for holding water - doesn't hurt to ask if you're remodeling.

Remember, if you're hot and miserable - so are the animals.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Brothers

Reposted with permission from  Peace, Love and Animals

They deserve a family to call their own
You never understand why some dogs get adopted just days after you take them in and some dogs seem to stay with you forever. As a No Kill shelter, these dogs become a part of our family and they began to settle in to our daily routine. To them, this is their home. I really think they know no different, but we do.

When I started Peace, Love and Animals in August of 2009, most of the dogs that I was saving came out of the Athens Dog Pound. I had went in to the Pound one day to pick up a dog, and there was a family in front of me with these two beautiful healthy brothers. They had decided they didn’t “want” their dogs anymore and were turning them into the Pound. (This is an issue that really gets under my skin, dogs are not disposable items. People think if they get tired of them, just throw them away, ugh!) So while I was there to get my first dog, I got the information on the brothers and went back the next day to save them from deaths door at the Pound.

You see, the brothers are what most people call common “Alabama Brown Dogs”. They are both large dogs and this works against them when getting them adopted. Our goal is to save dogs and find them forever homes. But most potential adopters that walk in our doors will ask, “do you have any small dogs?” or “do you have any puppies”. It would be an absolute miracle if someone walked in and asked if I had any “adult large dogs“, and it is such a shame because these brothers are such wonderful dogs that have great personalities. They deserve that forever home just like the small dogs and just like the puppies, if someone would just give them a chance.

Let me tell you about the brothers. My feelings are that when they were cute puppies and their former family took them in with good intentions, thinking that they would get two boys and not have to worry about any of the female issues, and that everything would be just fine. But this can sometimes be a big mistake that we see all the time. If one male is dominant and one is submissive, there is no problem. In the case of the brothers, both happen to be dominant males. As the brothers grew, the need for dominance also grew. First there are issues with space, a fuss here and there, but we laugh it off as puppy fights. As they grow older the dominance over food is the next issue. Sometimes these squabbles can get quite nasty. Once the brothers reached adulthood, the time had come for one to take the alpha role. When there are two really large male dogs in one household, it can get ugly. So, my guess is that instead of trying to solve the dominance problem (and it can be corrected!) the former owners took the brothers to the Pound. They just didn’t “want” them anymore. 

How sad is that? The brothers were not doing anything wrong, only what nature had given them. Dogs are natural pack animals and a pack has to have a dominate alpha to survive. If an owner is not taking the alpha role then the dominate male will step up to ensure the survival of the pack. That is something often forgotten.

Of the two brothers, Buddy is the larger of the two. He definitely wants to be an inside dog! Could it be that he is just a tiny bit overweight and can’t tolerate the heat? Maybe so, but whatever the case, we let him be an inside dog. He goes out to do his business and then right back under the AC he goes. Would you call that spoiled? We hope so. Buddy has the personality that bonds with one person or maybe a couple. He is very laid back and loves to just lounge around. Yes, you can get him up for a walk every now and then but to stretch out for an afternoon nap is his perfect idea of enjoyment. We do not recommend adopting him into a family with children. He does get along well with other dogs although we are not sure about cats. Once Buddy becomes comfortable with you, he is one big Teddy Bear.

Snickers is just a slightly smaller version of Buddy but much more outgoing and independent. Quite the opposite of Buddy. Snickers enjoys being outside and loves to go to the adoption events. He rides great in the car and we have often laughed at how he sits in the passenger seat just like a human, watching out the window. Although Snickers is a little picky about other dogs, he has found a few that he likes to play with. Snickers has one bad habit and that is he loves his people so much that when he is not with them he becomes a “crybaby”. I think Snickers would do great in a home with older kids that could really get out and play with him. Big dogs mean big fun!

When I think about Buddy and Snickers, I have really mixed emotions. From a human standpoint, I think how sad that they have not been adopted. They have been here almost 2 years. Then I try to think like a dog. To them, this is their home. Would they miss us if they got adopted? Maybe. But they deserve so much more. We give them a good bed, we give them good food, we give them love, but they still deserve so much more that we can’t give. They deserve a family to call their own…

Cathy Oakley
Director Peace, Love and Animals

If you are interested in the brothers, please email us for more information or visit Buddy's petfinder and Snickers' petfinder profiles.

Women Fight to Save Life of Ariel the Lion

Associate Press

SAO PAULO—Two Brazilian women are fighting to save the life of Ariel the lion.
The three-year-old lion has been paralyzed over the past year because a degenerative disease has immobilized his legs. So the 310-pound beast he has been sleeping on a mattress in the Sao Paulo house of veterinarian Livia Pereira. She says the lion’s white blood cells are attacking his healthy cells.
The animal’s owner is Raquel Borges, who runs a shelter in southern Brazil for sick and abandoned animals.
She has been the paying lion’s monthly $11,500 medical bill through donations from some of the 34,250 people who have clicked the “like” button on Ariel’s Facebook page.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Don't Judge By Breed - Look Beyond the Stereotype

So many animals - especially dogs - arrive in this world with a bad reputation because of their breed.  The misconceptions, stereotypes, and ignorance contributes to the numbers left in pounds, shelters, and rescues.  Sadly, it is these ill-perceived breeds that are over-looked and left to endure in shelters or be "put down" because of no hopes of a home due to their "savage" potential.

Dog breeds that seem to suffer this misconception frequently include Rottweiler, American Bulldog,  American Pit Bull, American Staffordshire Terrier, Chow-Chow, Doberman, German Shepherd, Great Dane,  Husky, Malamute, Saint Bernard, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and dog's of cross-breeds of the aforementioned breeds. (See CDC Dog Breed Related Fatality Report for more information.)    However, the Dog Breed Related Fatality Report holds several surprises of the "family friendly" breeds in addition to the above breed - Basenji, Collies, Dachunds, Golden Retrievers, and Yorkshire Terrier are actually found listed.

You have to dissect the frequently Media-misquoted Dog Breed Related Fatality Report by the CDC and take in consideration the overall statistics of dog bites (see CDC: Dog Bite:Facts for more info).  According to the CDC Dog Bite: Fact page that 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs EACH YEAR in the United States.  In addition the CDC reports each year, 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites; half of these are children.  Of the 800,000 seeking attention, 386,000 require treatment in an emergency department and about 16 die.

Now armed with a few statistics from the CDC Dog Bite: Fact page, let's look at the CDC Dog Breed Related Fatality Report (DBRF Report).  The DBRF Report evaluation period was over a brief period of 20-years and only reflects reports that are breed specific- all other reports not specifying a breed were removed from consideration; fatalities that were not a direct result of attack- secondary causes like infection, rabies-related, death by trauma but not bitten were removed as well; "dogs at work" such as police or military use were removed; and one consideration to interpreting data is that cross-breeds were tallied under both breeds, i.e. Great Dane-Rottweiler: 1 tally to each breed - 1 Great Dane and 1 Rottweiler.  The total of cases considered  in the DBRF Report was only 227.  (Remember that's 227 cases considered out of a 20-year period with an average of 4.7 million bitten Americans per year.  That's roughly 227 cases out of approximately 1 billon bites over the 20-year period. That doesn't really seem enough to quantify a breed as "dangerous".)

In the 20-year period consideration of 227 cases, more than 30 breeds were indentified in the DBRF Report  and a total of 433 dogs. Of those attacks the CDC DBRF Report breakdown of deaths were:

160 human deaths, only 1 dog was involved
49 deaths,2 dogs were involved
15 deaths, 3 dogs wereinvolved. 
Four and 7 dogs were involved in 3 deaths each
5, 6, and 10 dogs were involved in 2 deaths each
11 and 14 dogs were responsible for 1 death each

According to the CDC DBRF Report, 227 considered cases broke down by restrained and unrestrained and location by:

55(24%) human deaths involved unrestrained dogs off their owners’ property
133 (58%) involved unrestrained dogs on their owners’ property
38 (17%) involved restrained dogs on their owners’ property
1 (<1%)involved a restrained dog off its owner’s property.

Now apply basic understanding of basic dog behavior - 171 of those dogs were in its' own territory, "their owner's property", when it responded and the person was fatally wounded.  Was the dog threatened?  Was the owner threatened?  Was the person not introduced to the dog?  Was the dog trained by its' owner to defend the property and family?  What was the person doing when they were bitten?

There are several very important aspects not addressed in this report: Was the dog approached by the human and bitten? Was the human "playing" with the dog when bitten?  Was the human trespassing when bitten? And in my opinion - a big variable is excluded - what was the human doing at the time of the bite?

The CDC itself points out issues within this study that have an impact on the information gathered -
  1. It was a short time span of 20-years
  2. Identifying breed is subjective, especially in cross-bred dogs, a breed may be mis-attributed
  3. The media sensationalizes attacks by particular breeds and that may skew data collection/interpretation
  4. There is no clear method for counting cross-bred dogs
  5. Reported dog related fatality bites are under-reported
  6. You have to consider population size of the breed to accurately attribute attacks
  7. Trending in breed popularity directly impacts the number of fatalities by breed
  8. There are physical attributes that impact a dog's likelihood to bite:  age, health, sex, heredity, early encounters, socialization, reproductive status
  9. Owner supervision and ownership behaviors
  10. Victim Behavior - a variable that has a direct correlation to why the attack occurred.

Anyone exposed to dogs or hoping to add a member to the family needs to understand that the CDC report often used and misused to characterized a breed as "dangerous" isn't 100% accurate.  You cannot judge a breed as a whole by using generalities. Each individual dog will behave differently - look beyond the stereotypes and spend time with the dog to learn about it.

Dogs-just like humans- have a personality and react differently to different situations and people.  Dogs-just like children- need to be taught, supervised, and loved - you can offer obedience and still have a friend in your dog.  You need to understand the language of a dog - body language, ear and eye behavior and so on to insure the safety of you, your family and the dog.  Just like humans, dogs get tired of being tugged, pulled, and played with and need breaks - insure they get them before they get "snappy".  Socialize the dog - get the dog out in the environment  it will be exposed to frequently and get it accustomed to the people, smells, and other animals.  Spend time with your dog - just like a bored kid they can get into bad habit or behaviors that will require your time, attention, money, and efforts to correct or repair.  Remember, dog's remember how they were treated and if that situation arises again they'll respond - be it good or bad.

Take time to look beyond the stereotype of the breed.  Each dog behaves differently- they are individuals.  Dogs are experiential being - that goes with them as the live and they draw on that experience to make decisions on how to respond - consider that.  All dogs have the potential to bite no matter the breed, it is up to you to insure the dog's boundaries are respected and to take ownership when the time comes to say - "hey, I think he/she needs a break."  It is you responsibility to educate yourself, family, friends and visitors to your dog's behavior - this could save a life.

Friday, June 10, 2011

CANADA: Downtown ducklings, gaggle of goslings helped by Toronto Wildlife Centre

Finding someone to help with injured wildlife can be difficult.  Believe me I know, I rescued an abandoned Peking Duckling, the "AFLAC" kind, after Billie was abandoned in a city park only 2 months after Easter.  (The short story -- a parent forced their young son to abandon the duckling - still in fuzz, dehydrated, and absolutely terrified.)

The fiasco involved in trying to find a safe place for her was ridiculous.  It was the folks at a Virginia SPCA emergency group who were willing to help us identify her breed and tried to help find a local bird rescue to place her with.  (They did offer if we couldn't find a local home and could meet them in southern Virginia they'd place her up there - a great offer with a lot of mileage involved.)  VA SPCA gave us a few associations locally that rescued birds.  Yay, right?  No, this part wasn't as easy as it sounds.  The domestic bird rescue folks considered her wild.  The wild bird rescue folks considered her domestic.  The humane societies didn't do ducks.  The vet's couldn't make any suggestions because she was wild.

It was finally the nice folks at Saddle Rack and Feed store in Elkmont, AL (to whom I am very grateful), some miles away, that said, "Sure, we'll take her.  We love to have baby ducks around and the farmers and kids are always looking for ducks."

So Billie Duck was delivered to the Saddle Rack and Feed menagerie.  These folks have rescued all kinds of animals -- several of them are actually on site.  A pot belly pig found wondering in the road.  A domesticated tom turkey - nobody knows where he came from but likes to strut his stuff.  A red parrot - very vocal and loud greeter.  Too many cats, goats, ducks, geese and such to count.

In another incident, I and two other people sought help for a pregnant female Woodie and her male companion, another Peking.  The ducks had been driven away from the large pond next to the office during breeding season and taken up living at the front among the bushes.  Well, anyone who's been around ducks and geese at mating season can tell you it gets a little rowdy -- the males, up to 4 at a time -- were still after Missy duck and Aflac was doing his best to pull them off.

They were a cute couple - they nestled together, enjoyed a good meal (courtesy of the staff), and stuck together like glue.  It was this tight bond that probably got them both injured one weekend when they were both hit by a car.  It looked like her leg and wing were broke.  He had a huge black smudge across his shoulders.  She couldn't escape the continued "advances", let alone predators or even make it to the water or food. So we found a local wildlife rescue lady - who after much effort caught Missy on one day and returned 2 days later (after listening to 2 days of squawks and complaints) to retrieve a wandering and upset, Aflac.  He, still with his huge smudge, was captured and joined Missy and both peacefully settled down to nest.

It's often hard to figure out where to turn when your "do the right" thing.  The lines blur, the budgets short, and the tender-hearted are left to struggle to find a solution -- hopefully before it's too late.  Hopefully, this will help someone in Toronto save a life.

Below is an article from the Toronto Star about the efforts of the little known, Toronto Wildlife Centre.

Thanks for joining me aboard the Animal Ark!

Originally appeared in the Toronto Star,
Nicki Thomas Staff Reporter
If there’s one thing that Andrew Wight wants people to know about the Toronto Wildlife Centre, it’s that it exists at all.

When city dwellers spot an orphaned gosling or a sick fox, they often don’t know who to call, he says. Hours pass as they scour the phone book, calling Animal Services and veterinary clinics before landing on the TWC, where Wight is a Wildlife Rescue team leader.

By then, it may be too late.

Take the case of the downtown ducklings. There’s a courtyard in the financial district where four highrises meet and lush greenery surrounds a pond. There are no predators, and lunching office workers keep the bread crumbs coming.

That makes it a perfect spot for a mama mallard, who returns year after year to have her babies. But, unable to fly and receiving no nutrients from the treated water, the ducklings can starve to death.

Wight, one of two TWC employees who traverse the GTA rescuing orphaned, trapped or injured animals, has successfully rescued flocks from the courtyard four years running. But this season, the building’s maintenance staff waited too long. By the time Wight arrived on a recent Monday, the ducklings were dead in a garbage bag; their mother circled the pond alone.

“It’s a disappointing call on all levels,” Wight says as he drives away, after explaining to onlookers why the ducklings died and the importance of notifying the centre sooner.

“It’s nobody’s fault,” he continues. “Now with the education they have, hopefully it won’t happen again.”
Living alongside wildlife in the city is a delicate balance, and an influx of babies can cause it to tip. That seemed to be the case last week, when Dong Nguyen allegedly attacked a family of raccoons destroying his garden.

Some Toronto Star readers came to the man’s defence, saying they’ve been pushed to edge by the city’s raccoons. “Good for him!” one reader commented on a column in support of Nguyen. “He did what most people thought about doing or were too afraid to do.”

Some might wonder why Wight and his colleagues work so hard to save the animals they view as destructive, like the raccoons, or threatening, like coyotes, or just plain populous, like squirrels. Why not let nature take its course, they might ask.

It’s an argument Wight won’t wade into.

“There’s an injured being and it deserves to be helped. And these animals are injured because of human impact,” he says. “You’re not going to change the world. But at least you’ve made an attempt to help.”

The Toronto Wildlife Centre, unlike city-run Animal Services, focuses solely on helping the city’s wildlife and is funded completely by donations. Once the animals Wight rescues are healthy and rehabilitated, he reintroduces them to the wild. This is the busiest time of year at the centre, where staff and volunteers are fielding around 200 calls a day.

For Wight, disappointments like the downtown ducklings are countered by everyday successes. When he sets off from the centre in Downsview Park one recent morning, he takes four orphaned goslings and heads for a known Canada goose hangout: Seneca College’s Markham campus, where a large scenic pond supports all kinds of wildlife.

Canada geese are one of the only birds that will accept unrelated babies into their flocks. Wight has a particular family in mind. He spots them as they’re headed toward a patch of trees leading down to the water. Wight carries the orphans over, sets them down under the branches and steps back.

After a few moments of confusion, the goslings head down to the water. They exchange curious glances with the other geese and moments of hesitation pass before they continue on together. The orphans mix with the other goslings; it’s impossible to tell them apart. They have a family now.

Urban threats to wildlife
The ducks, snakes, turtles, raccoons and coyotes that call Toronto home have to watch out for all manner of threats. Cars and power lines are obviously deadly. Garbage also poses a danger, including kite strings and the lids of iced coffee drinks, which get stuck around raccoon’s wrists.

Then there are diseases. Mange causes the fox and coyote population to fluctuate. Distemper has been a major problem in recent years, affecting raccoons and nearly wiping out skunks. Two years ago, Wight says, he rescued 50 baby skunks. Last year, that number fell to just two.

Nathalie Karvonen, the centre’s executive director, also says outdoor cats cause grievous injury to songbirds. She wants people to rethink letting their cats roam free.

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If you are in the Toronto, Ontario area and need the help of the Toronto Wildlife Centre or you would like to donate to them:

Toronto Wildlife Center

60 Carl Hall Rd., Unit 4
Toronto, ON M3K 2C1

For concerns about sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife, or any other wildlife-related question or concern, please call:

TWC Wildlife Hotline: (416) 631- 0662

 Our Hours of Operation:

Open from 9AM until 6PM, 7 days a week, year round*

 *Please note that on
December 24th, 25th, 26th, 31st, and January 1st, hours are 9am to 4pm.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lucky Dog Rescue Blog: Storm Survivors

An amazing story of survival of "April's Fury" as it's become known across the scarred landscape of Alabama. Imagine no shelter, no escape, no place to hide - and all you hear is the bellow of a monster unknown, feel the lashing of rains and winds, and the world around you changing beyond your comprehension. If humans were left speechless, this probably doesn't even begin to capture express what Grand Ma, Mee Maw and Wink went through.

Read how Ashley of Lucky Dog Rescue in Mississippi has opened her heart and started the healing for 3 angels of the storm and how you can help the Tuscaloosa Animal Shelter.

Taken from the original posting:

* * * * *


Storm Survivors

On April 27, 2011, a violent, mile-wide tornado ripped through the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The damage was detrimental to the city, its people, and its animals. That day, I watched the footage in horror… as the town I have loved all of my life... was wiped away.

Four of the best years of my life were spent in Tuscaloosa, at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!). I’ve been a lifelong Bama fan… because my parents raised me right. Growing up, we’d go to Tuscaloosa for every football game and event. When the time came to select a college, there was no question where I’d end up. A piece of my heart has always lived in Tuscaloosa.

Following the storm, the Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter proved something that I’ve known all along… they are amazing. A couple of my dear friends work at Tuscaloosa Metro, and they’ve always been there to help me with anything I need. After the storm, the shelter took in well over 1,000 additional animals… more than 5 times their normal capacity. Many pets were found under rubble; many were still chained to trees; and many were severely injured… or dead.

Families were given time to reclaim their pets, and then the shelter began lining up rescues for the remaining animals. However, there are some dogs that the average rescue just won’t take. The senior dogs. The sick dogs. The heartworm positives. The special needs. The Pit Bulls.
The ones deemed “unadoptable.”

For these dogs, Lucky Dog Rescue is often their only hope.

So, I called my sweet friend, Kelley Hill Strickland, and said, “Give me the urgent dogs no other rescue will take.” As always, Kelley was so gracious and appreciative, and she already had 3 special dogs in mind for me. These 3 dogs had each suffered a direct hit from the tornado—while living outside on chains.  Kelley had been desperately trying to find placement for these dogs… but no one wanted them.

Well… almost no one.

I agreed to take these 3 babies as soon as possible, and offered to take any additional dogs she couldn’t place in the coming days. And today, 3 incredible storm survivors came to live with me: Grandma, Mee Maw, and Wink. I’d like you to meet my new foster babies…

Grandma is a 10-year-old, female, Pit Bull mix. Early in her life, Grandma endured a painful, homemade, ear crop procedure, leaving her with hardly any ears at all. Grandma is also a broken-down breeder dog, who’s been forced to deliver litter upon litter of puppies.  To top it off, she’s been restricted to a chain… all 10 years of her life.

Grandma was found in the hardest hit area, which was a bad part of town to begin with. She endured the wrath of the devastating tornado outside on a chain… the chain that she’s called “home” for the last 10 years.

When she was rescued, Grandma was severely emaciated and extremely frightened, but despite her circumstances, she lovingly thanked the volunteers with kisses. At the shelter, Grandma stole everyone’s hearts. It’s rare that a dog feels relieved to be in a shelter… it shows how awful her 10 years must have been.

 Then today, Grandma came to live with me. I was greeted with a joyful smile and a loving kiss, and my heart filled with an insane amount of joy. It was easy to see… that after a lifetime on a chain and surviving a devastating storm… Grandma knew she was finally safe.

Mee Maw
Mee Maw is another 10-year-old storm survivor. She’s a Senior Lab/Hound mix, who is blind in her left eye. The blindness was likely caused by an untreated injury or infection, due to an irresponsible owner. In addition, Mee Maw has been suffering with severe skin issues for quite some time, causing her a great deal of pain and discomfort. Of course, she is also heartworm positive.

Sadly, Mee Maw is yet another broken-down breeder dog, with an abusive past. She has also spent all of her years on a chain. Even more heartbreaking, Mee Maw was left on her chain to face the massive tornado that destroyed her entire neighborhood. The volunteers that found her couldn’t imagine how she even survived.

Mee Maw arrived here today, and I immediately learned about her love of belly rubs. When we met, Mee Maw smiled, rolled onto her back, and begged for the belly rub she’s wished for all her life. I was honored to make her wish come true.

Wink is a 3-year-old, male, Pit Bull Mix. Wink has an eye injury that causes him to “wink” at you. The eye issue is likely due to lack of treatment by an irresponsible owner. Wink is also heartworm positive.

Wink is yet another dog who was chained outside when the tornado struck. Considering the conditions of his surroundings, he shouldn’t be alive today. He was found in a heartbreaking state… afraid, emaciated, and desperate for help. I’m so thankful that Tuscaloosa Metro was there to save him.  

Wink is a special little boy with a tragic past. His eyes reveal the years of abuse and neglect he’s endured. When he arrived, Wink was extremely timid, afraid, and unsure of whether he could trust me.

But within the hour, he was smiling and clinging to my side. That’s the beauty of saving a life… they know what you did for them… and in turn, they share their years of disregarded love and affection… with you.

These are the 3 dogs that no one wanted. Well… almost no one. Before I ever met them, I wanted them. I loved them. And I needed them. Four lives changed today… most of all… mine.

*The state of Alabama and many parts of Mississippi were recently devastated by horrific storms and tornadoes. The city of Tuscaloosa endured unimaginable damage, and they still need your help!

The Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter needs rescue groups, fosters, and adopters for more than 50 dogs and 75 cats (to get their numbers back down to normal capacity). They can also use donations of canned dog and cat food, toys, treats, and blankets. Donations can be mailed to:

Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter
3140 35th Street
Tuscaloosa, AL 35401-5411
(205) 752-9101

**Grandma, Mee Maw, and Wink need loving homes! Click here to fill out the online Adoption Application!