Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Changing Face of Animal Advocacy in Puerto Rico

Just returning a dog to the street doesn't sit right; does it?
It beats not letting the animal have any chance at life, or puppies littering the road.
Because rescuers don’t want animals out on the streets suffering; right?

There is a wonderful man in San Juan, who everyday rain or shine, walks his round, feeding street cats. This guy has the cats neutered with an ear notched so you can tell. He’s really much more than a feeder; he’s a freakin saint, as well as, an excellent example of a Colony Keeper.

Are there other Colony Keepers on the island? These are people who not only feed, but neuter, vaccinate, and maintain a healthy group of dogs. I’d like to watch a colony keeper in action.                                                             
Who in Puerto Rico is actively doing Trap, Neuter, and Return? Please, let me know when and where, so I can help.
T-N-R works best when the people in the community assist the project by being on site caretakers.
Animal Activists are a large, vocal part of the Puerto Rican population. We have good people doing wonderful things; maybe, this will work out for the animals. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Strategies in Street Dog Population Control

Mangy dogs standing on street corners aren’t good for tourism.

When tourism is an island’s top industry, it becomes an issue. Let’s not recite the laundry list of reasons why we can’t have sick dogs living in the street.

What’s the answer?

Just kill them is the old school answer. Methods vary with the times: shoot them, poison them, or euthanize them; it’s all the same.

People get puppies; they grow up to breed, so before you know it, dogs are back on the street.

Loving rescuers collect dogs from the street and keep them in shelters. Their priority is to keep the dog safe, healthy, and well fed. These dedicated people have my utmost respect.    
The goal of every good rescuer is to re-home the dog. Most dogs are adopted right here on the island, and many get a one way ticket to North America, where dogs by the score are being euthanized, old school answer number one.
Everybody along this chain works diligently for the welfare of the animals, but it isn't enough.

Trap, neuter and return is new school. Animal Welfare Experts tell us that colony size is regulated by available resources. The dogs have a shot at a reasonable life, and as all will agree; there isn't enough shelter space on the island for all these dogs.

The dogs were there anyway; why not just return them, wishing them the best?

Why can’t they just be returned to the streets?                 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Profile of a Cuban Animal Advocate

The face of a dog lover registers concern for the street dog with his syphilitic prick waving in the air while he rolls, scratching his back, her eyes narrow, and her breath comes out in a sigh. He is on her mental list of animals needing help, but the list is long.

Moments later this dog lover questions two teenagers about neutering the pitbulls they each have on leashes. The boys are resistant, but the grandmother speaks to them so kindly that they lower their heads before her.

A word of encouragement or instruction to all they see with animals is the hallmark of the dedicated animal advocate.

Maylin Carretero, the most spiritual woman, who was my host and guide to some of the animals of Cuba, leads with her heart for all things animal.

Off to ANIPLANT we would go taking public transportation all the way. ANIPLANT is the Association for the Protection of Plants and Animals, in Cuba this is it for animal advocacy.

ANIPLANT President Nora Garcia and Vice President Maylin Careterro work hard for the animals of Cuba. I visited the busy clinic at ANIPLANT headquarters, during which a young couple brought in a sweet yellow dog they had found in a bag, legs tied and mouth bound.

After a long day at ANIPLANT Headquarters on the walk home from the bus stop. Maylin said to me when she saw the manager of the local store, “I have been trying for weeks to talk to him about treating the dogs that live by the store for mange. I need his help and there he is!”

Around eleven o’clock one night someone dumped a four week old puppy in her yard. You can imagine the ruckus that set off with her dogs. Let me tell you that woman is fast. As I got to the door she shined the light under bush to find the crying puppy, while verbally keeping her dogs out of the way, most impressive.

While still clutching the puppy to her breast, the true heart of a dog lover goes searching for a box to line with bedding for the tiny life.

If more Cuban American animal lovers knew about the good work these volunteers do, I’m certain they would see more support.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Malecon Pup Saved from Rocks at ANIPLANT, Headquarters in Havana, Cuba

The lovers walked the streets of Havana with the spaniel until they came to 128 Calle Principe, home of ANIPLANT.

“Hello, we have this little dog in need of rescue,” they called out.
“You can’t just bring your dog here to drop it off. We have no facilities for keeping your dog. You must take it home,” replied the unhappy woman, who came to the door. Her heart winced as she looked at the lovely dog the people were trying to dispose of; how could they do that?

The young woman explained, “This is not our dog. Not an hour ago we found her in a bag on the rocks at the shore with her feet and mouth bound. We untied her. She is a sweet, sweet girl; we couldn’t just leave her on the Malecon with all the traffic of Havana speeding past. My mother told us to bring her to ANIPLANT, where animal advocates would keep her safe.
“You found her tied up in a bag,” the woman at the door gasped.
“Yes, when the tide came in, she would have drowned. We couldn’t just leave her to such a fate,” the young man with big brown eyes looked pleadingly at the woman in the doorway, who opened the door and took the little yellow dog in her arms.

“Who could do that to a beautiful baby like this? Dios mio,” she cried out.
The waiting room of ANIPLANT was filled with people who had brought their dogs to be seen by the veterinarian. Many were there with dogs to be neutered. There was no room for the couple with the little cruelty survivor, so they waited on the curb, while the animal loving advocates came out to see the beautiful dog and the young heroes, who saved her life. Tears filled the eyes of the women, who came out to see the sweet faced dog, as she wagged her tail for all.

Nora Garcia, President of ANIPLANT, looped a long piece of mesh through the dog’s collar to use as a leash. “This is not a shelter; we have no place to keep her. Can you keep her?’ She looked at the young man, who appeared to be quite taken with the dog.
“No, I live in the home of my mother-in-law to be. She has dogs and cats already.” His eyes moist, as he peered at the helpless creature, who kissed his face.

The veterinarian stepped into the lobby, “Who is next?” He called out to no one in particular. The advocates were snapped back into the action of the day, hustling the next patient into the surgical suite, and making return appointments for others. 

“What’s to be done about you, little one?” Maylin Carretero murmured as she set down a pan of water for the dog, who was probably not quite a year old judging by her teeth.  

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Behavior Problem Jumping

Surprise, a behavioral post today because my charming boy, Robert Redford is jumping a kangaroo on his back legs, while I distribute food.

In my house the first sit gets the kibble. Forcing your way to the bowl will get you last; I don’t care how big you are in a pack of street dogs. This is my house.

When it was just Blondie, Chi-Ping, and Smoki, of course, I fed the cat first. He drives me nuts following me around, complaining. He learned that in the kennel. He trained my staff better than I did.
The girls had to wait. Blondie just always came to the first bowl. The little girl said nothing for years, and then one sat for bowl number one. Blondie stood there, shocked as the little bitch ate for her bowl. That hasn't
 happened but a few times.

Lucky and Robert Redford arrived, as puppies, in my drive a few days apart, so they started my sit for food program. When I come through the door with your food give me the first sit by where the bowl goes and it’s yours.
This is a simple system, but my street dog girls don’t get it. Chi sits for the third bowl, but Blondie, my big brawny girl goes last and mostly she just stands there waiting for me to put the bowl down, which I usually do; so who’s smarter?

Some days Lucky looks so smart and motivated; he sits with his chest out, wagging away; until I give him the dish. Other days Robert Redford looks like a brilliant Golden Retriever starring in his show, waiting for reward. The second dog know where to go; there’s usually no fuss to this. It’s just go sit at your mark; I am coming.
This jumping up shit started when I got home from Cuba. The first time he jumped so close to me like he was trying to knock it out of my hands. WTF, I can’t have a big dog jumping around like that. I’m at the age where one must be careful.
It’s diminished between bowl #1 and bowl #2. That’s a work in progress by virtue of the routine.
Today the happy red boy began bouncing as I opened the door with all four bowls in my arm.

Behavior frequently escalates before the animal abandons it.
Keep your fingers crossed for me. Smile.