Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Meet Logan

Today is Logan's third birthday. The only reason we know his birthday is because he was first dumped at the shelter in Lancaster Ca. when he was only a few weeks old. The shelter recorded his birthday at intake. 
Logan has been with us for a little over a year now. We found him when he was dumped in the same shelter for the second time. Logan was another one that just kind of grabbed us, he was emaciated in his shelter picture but still smiling. We had him pulled and brought him and Bellini back to Oklahoma to join the growing pack!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Meet Tripper

Tripper came to us two years ago. He came from the Devore shelter in California. This shelter had just taken in about forty dogs from a local hoarding situation. Most of those dogs were white German Shepherd mixes. I discovered Tripper when I learned about the hoarding situation. I was looking at shelter photos of all the dogs they had taken in. I don't know if Trip was part of that group of dogs or not. What I do know is that something about him grabbed me, he looked so sad and defeated in his shelter picture.
 We arranged to have him pulled and boarded as soon as he was available. In the shelter Trip wouldn't stand or walk on his own, he had given up. This continued even after he was pulled. Finally we got him home, he was covered in ticks and his ears were raw with fly bites. Tripper had to be half carried and half dragged into the house. Even though he was very thin he is still a large dog and getting him to move was not easy! 
 Tripper didn't know anything about being in a house, he had no idea how to go up or down stairs, he didn't even know what dog food was. Trip thought food was supposed to be taken out of the garbage can. The first few days he was very quiet and he kept to himself. Fortunately Trip started walking on his own soon after he came home. It took a little longer for him to start eating  dog food instead of garbage. We learned that Trip  had started eating when we discovered huge piles of unchewed dog food that he had vomited up! Apparently he started eating and didn't stop, stuffing himself until his poor stomach couldn't take any more! Eventually Trip learned to go up and down stairs (he's still pretty clumsy) he started interacting with the other dogs and he even learned to use the doggy door!
Now, just over two years later, Tripper is known as the big meatball, he is a total goofball!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Meet Maybe

I have been working with local rescue groups, fostering animals from the nearby gassing shelter. One Friday afternoon I got a call from one of the local rescuers, they were trying to get dogs out of the shelter. Animals are often gassed on Friday to make room for animals that come in over the weekend. They were desperate for fosters, could I take any? I chose a young dog labeled a lab mix, she reminded me of my Rita, I couldn't say no to that! I picked up the dog that evening, a tiny, emaciated girl. Within about an hour we were in love with her, and thinking maybe we would keep this one. 
By Saturday evening it was clear that she was sick. She wasn't eating and she had diarrhea and some vomiting. We feared Parvo, so first thing Sunday morning we took her to the emergency vet. Our fear was confirmed with a diagnosis of Parvo. She was admitted to the animal hospital for treatment. The next day she was transferred to our regular vet where she stayed for another three nights. 
As soon as I got the diagnosis of Parvo I contacted the group who had pulled her from the shelter, I wanted to make sure they were aware so they could let everyone who had taken dogs recently know. Parvo is often very treatable when caught early. I was told that they would do a fundraiser to help with the expense of the Parvo treatment. After three nights at the vet the little girl was ready to come home! She was a new dog, adorable and lovable and ready to play!
The promised fundraiser never happened and we never received any reimbursement for the vet bills we paid, but that was ok. Little Maybe had become a definitely and she was home to stay!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Meet Fritz

Fritz is our only animal that is not a rescue. Now, some people might think it strange that someone who rescues and advocates for animals would have a dog purchased from a breeder. Let me clarify by saying I am an advocate for ANIMALS and without good, ethical, conscientious breeders, where would animals be? We would be over run with unhealthy genetically weak animals. If the only people producing animals were doing it illegally what kind of animals would we have? Let's face it, a lot of people will only get specific breeds of dogs. Whether these dogs are for work or just companionship and love of a certain breed, people should be able to get the dog they want. 
Now let's talk about puppy mills, backyard breeders and those who churn out as many pups as they can just to make money. These are NOT ok. They do nothing to improve the breed. These people don't care about the health, personality or genes being passed on through breeding. It's all about making money. These operations need to be stopped and breeding left to the few quality breeders out there. Of course, no matter how good the breeder, there's no way to know what might happen to the dog after it leaves the breeder. Many top quality dogs do end up in shelters, this is not the fault of the breeder or the dog. The fault lies solely on the person who chose to take the dog to the shelter.
The majority of problems with pet overpopulation and full shelters come from irresponsible pet owners. The people who don't spay and neuter, the people who don't properly socialize and train their dogs, the people who don't take proper care of their pets, these are the problems. 
So by all means, let's protest puppy mills and backyard breeders, shut them down! Let's do everything we possibly can to educate people on the importance of spaying and neutering. Let's find a way to make low cost spay and neuter programs more readily available, especially in rural areas. Let's also find a way to educate people on what it means to be a responsible pet owner, and how important it is to be prepared for the pet they are getting. Let's do all these things, and then take a moment to appreciate the breeders who are doing things right.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Meet Tank

Tank is one of our newest arrivals. He came to us very unexpectedly a few weeks before Christmas. I was in the kitchen early one morning, two of the dogs were looking out the front window and barking. That's not a bit unusual, there's always someone barking in my house! I noticed the neighbors dog running down the street, also not unusual, she runs loose a lot. Then something else caught my eye, something very small moving around in the road. I watched for a bit but it didn't seem to be following the other dog. Finally curiosity got the best of me and I walked down to the road. By the time I got there the neighbors dog was way down the road, but a few feet away in the middle of the road was a tiny puppy! He saw me and came toward me, I ran over to him and scooped him up, all 3.5 pounds of him. He immediately started nuzzling my neck and making adorable puppy noises. I carried him up to the house. 

He was so tiny I wasn't sure if he was able to eat real food or not. He didn't seem interested in the food I offered him. I left him with my son and went into town to stock up on puppy food,  milk replacer and a bottle, just in case! I discovered he was able to eat the canned food, but he really liked the milk replacer!

I got him in to the vet a few days later, that's when I found out how much he weighed and that he was approximately four weeks old! He became Tank, the tenth dog in our pack!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Opening the doors of perception

Animal rights activists. That phrase can conjure up a lot of ugly images. Wild eyed lunatics wearing meat and flinging blood on people wearing fur. We've all read the headlines or seen the sound bites for stories like this. The extremists are the ones that get the attention, no matter what the cause is. Apparently that is the image that certain elements in the Oklahoma state government want us all to think of whenever we hear animal rights mentioned.
 This years "right to farm" bill, supposedly created to protect the citizens of Oklahoma's right to farm and ranch, is an example of that.  No one was ever trying to take that right away. Why was such a bill needed? Why did the advertisements include the part about "preventing outside interests from telling us how to care for our animals. Why is it that each year a bill is introduced in the Oklahoma state government that would ban the use of gas chambers for euthanasia and each year these bills disappear after being sent to the department of agriculture for "evaluation"? Why? Why are puppy mills so plentiful in Oklahoma? Why are there so many inhumane practices allowed in farming and ranching here in Oklahoma? Are there crazy animal rights activists lining the streets flinging meat and blood at the farmers and ranchers? I don't think so.
Is someone profiting from keeping these practices in place? Or is it just a simple fear of change, those outside influences the advertising for the right to farm bill warns us of? Could it be just the simple fact that Oklahoma needs to take steps to enter the modern world. The "good old boys" in our state government and their lobbying friends need to be replaced with some new ideas and fresh thinking. 
We don't want to throw blood on anyone nor do we want to take away anyone's livelihood. All we want is to see our animals treated more humanely and have more opportunities to live! It's time for the people of Oklahoma to make their voices heard. Contact your state officials, your local city and county governments, tell them to stop listening to voices from the past and start listening to the voices of our animals. 
This is what most "animal rights activists" really look like. We don't fling blood or wear meat, we don't do  anything crazy. We put in countless hours, unbelievable effort, lots of tears,  often our last dime, all in the hopes of saving and improving the lives of our furry friends.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The tangled web

The world of animal rescue is pretty convoluted, even crazy. It's not all puppies with wagging tails going home from adoption fairs with smiling families. There is a dark side, and honestly, all aspects of this dark side disgust me. This is why I've worked privately and somewhat "under the radar" all these years. I don't want to be part of the drama.
 There have been several stories recently about "rescues " being closed down, animals found dead, starved or kept in horrible conditions. In some cases those running the rescue are prosecuted, others have disappeared. Sadly this is not anything new. Many so called rescuers are just after money. The money pledged by good people who want to help the animals. These "rescues " collect the pledge money then stash the animals somewhere, usually neglecting them until they die. Sometimes the "rescued" animals are dropped at other shelters and sometimes, especially in the case of purebred puppies, they are sold. Shelters don't help, many of them make animals available to rescues before they are available to adopters. I've had that happen. I wanted to adopt an animal only to be told it was given to a rescue because rescues have first choice. Some of the horror stories about animal "rescue" will blow your mind.
There is another issue in animal rescue that I've found to be far more prevalent, but just as destructive. This is the issue of human ego. Everyone wants to be the hero, the one to "save" the animals. Unfortunately this usually causes more harm than good. I've seen incidents where "rescuers" report each other for animal cruelty, for having too many animals in the home, or any other violation they can think up. The finger pointing, bad mouthing and accusations between supposed rescuers is unbelievable. What happens when someone is reported for any of these violations? The animals are seized and taken back to a shelter. How is that a victory???
I ran into a situation recently, a group was pulling animals from our local gas chamber shelter, lots of animals. With the exception of one poor cat that the shelter gassed because they decided it was feral, there haven't been any animals gassed in months. That's a good thing right? The animals are not dying in the gas chamber.  What's been happening is that many of the animals have rescues, legitimate out of state rescues who are backing the animals and having them fostered until they can be transported.  This is very common and perfectly fine. Not all the animals being pulled have rescues though. Many are pulled just to prevent them from being gassed. That's not necessarily a bad thing either, no one wants to have an animal gassed to death. The animals are placed with fosters while volunteers look for a rescue willing to take them. Still not necessarily a bad thing, right? The problems start when the animals get sick or there is some other problem that makes the foster unable to keep the animal. What happens then? If you see the little puppy in your care start to get sick, what do you do? You are not likely to get any help from the people who placed the animal with you, there's no rescue backing the animal, remember? You have to make a choice, do you seek vet care, at your own expense, or do you watch the animal get sicker and possibly die? What if you can't afford vet care? Treatment for a case of Parvo is usually $1,000 or more. A lot of animals coming out of Shawnee are sick, I personally have spent almost $2,000 on "fosters". Fortunately this doesn't happen all the time, many animals don't get sick and they get placed with rescues, everything works out ok. But what if it does happen? How should a problem like this be handled? My thought is that the individuals pulling the animals should fundraise, they should have a fund to help with these situations, you caring, go fund me, lots of options for individual fund raising.  I've considered offering to help with this, but this group has made it clear they don't want help.  Is this another case of ego getting in the way of doing what's right? Maybe. Maybe they are figuring this out and putting something in place to help the fosters and the sick animals. Obviously no one wants to hear that animals are being gassed because they aren't being rescued. But what happens after they are pulled? 
In the world of animal rescue caution is always advised. Know who you are giving your money to and how they use it, and if you foster an animal be absolutely certain about who it belongs to and who is responsible for it.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Meet Margo

Margo is the sister of Rita. These little girls came to us from the shelter in Lancaster Ca.  About two years ago word was going around that there was a lot of illness in the shelter and puppies were being killed first, sometimes without even being made available for adoption. We learned that there were some shepherd mix puppies that were facing this fate. We decided we couldn't let that happen so we arranged to have them pulled and boarded until we could get out there and get them. This was all sight unseen! We had no idea what we were getting until we saw them, all 4.5 and 5 pounds of them! We thought at first they were chihuahuas! We then contemplated the idea of a German shepherd chihuahua mix. Is such a thing even possible??? That led us to make up a breed for them, they were to be Mexican shepherds, thus the names Margo & Rita! They couldn't be more different in personality but together they are the loves of my life!

Meet Rita

Rita is my resident savant. Rita is one of those dogs that's too smart to be trained easily. She has to consider everything you tell her and decide for herself if it makes sense, and, of course, if it's in her best interest. Rita is very skilled at opening doors and finding ways into the house when she doesn't want to be outside anymore.
Every morning I take all 11 dogs for a walk around the property. Yes, it is absolute chaos for the first few minutes. The whole purpose of these walks is to exercise them and make them tired. I throw sticks for them to chase almost the whole time. They run a lot on our walks and usually come home tired. When we get home I put them all in the yard to relax while I clean the house. Well, Rita doesn't like to be outside a lot, she likes to be close to me most of the time. For some reason she really doesn't want to be outside after our walks. Lately when we come back to the house, while I am busy opening the gate and herding all the other dogs into the yard, Rita goes into the garage. She then opens the door to the house and comes inside. Her sister Margo has figured out what she is doing and sometimes follows her in to the house. Margo likes to be outside more than Rita does so she doesn't follow her in all the time. I've given up on trying to prevent this, I just let her be!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Friday night

Friday night! There are locations all over the country

Innocence lost

Something happened this past weekend that was very upsetting, to me and apparently a lot of other animal lovers.
 A young puppy was picked up by animal control in the city of Shawnee. Shawnee is the home of the nearby gas chamber shelter. The puppy was brought in on Sunday and died that night in the shelter. It was not gassed. Instead he died alone in one of the bleak holding cells in the shelter. Blankets and beds are not provided at this facility. This poor puppy died alone on the cold hard floor of a completely uncaring facility.
 The Shawnee shelter does not provide any vetting, no vaccinations, no vet exams, nothing. Volunteers are not allowed and this shelter is closed on weekends. This poor puppy had absolutely no chance at care. Animal control in Shawnee doesn't seem to be particularly caring, how could you be if you work in a shelter that uses a barbaric euthanasia method like the gas chamber? Maybe there would have been no way to prevent this death, it does happen. But what if this puppy could have been saved ? We will never know because he's dead. The Shawnee shelter needs reform, not just by removing the gas chamber, but on many levels. The people of Oklahoma are not overwhelmingly cruel or uncaring, 
but the attitude promoted by the state government and legislation in the state is.
RIP little one.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Meet Sun Valley Shepherds

How many people have thought, at one time or another, that their life should be a reality show? I know I have! My life is a bit different though. I share my life, heart and home with 11 dogs, 5 cats and an assortment of livestock. We all live together on a ranch in Oklahoma. Collectively we are Sun Valley Shepherds! 
 None of the TV networks have  come knocking on our door offering us a reality show yet, so I decided to share our lives and adventures here! We also have a Facebook page filled with pictures and the history of our unique family.
 Sun Valley Shepherds is a nonprofit animal rescue, sanctuary and advocate. We are also the biggest foster failures ever! That's why we have so many animals that call the ranch home.
 We originally started rescuing German shepherds, they are one of the breeds most prevalent in shelters today. Other dogs have found their way to us over the years so we are no longer exclusive GSD rescuers! We love them all, cats too!
 We moved to Oklahoma a little  over a year ago from the beautiful state of Colorado. Talk about culture shock! The county we lived in in Colorado was no kill, the only shelter was a no kill shelter and animal rescue is a very big deal throughout the state. Oklahoma is a bit different. Not only is animal rescue less prevalent, they still use gas chambers to "euthanize " animals. This was a very unpleasant surprise, especially since one of these places is fairly close to where we live. So, with the move to Oklahoma and the eye opening experience of gas chambers, we broadened our horizons. Sun Valley Shepherds still specializes in German shepherds but we are also putting a lot of effort into rescuing animals from the gas chamber shelters and advocating for shelter reform. NO MORE GAS CHAMBERS!!! That is our ultimate goal. Oklahoma has some nasty, little known facts surrounding the use of gas chambers. We will explore these more as we go along.
 Please join us in the world of Sun Valley Shepherds!