We’re baaack!

We’re baaaaaaaaaaack! Me, the Unleashed pets blog and (drum roll please) Lisa the Pig

When last we left this porcine goddess, rescued in 2010 from a frustrated and cranky owner in Washington, Lisa was happily ensconced in her new digs, enjoying belly rubs and snabbling snacks from Sanctuary Onemanager Sansa Collins.   

Last year I had the happy assignment of reporting Lisa’s tale of her roadside rescue to her current position as beloved belle of the ball at Sanctuary One. And I will never forget my initial astonishment when I caught my first glimpse of my now favorite Ms. Piggy. Wow! She is one humongeous porker!

But before Lisa made it to safety in the Applegate Valley, and was visited by yours truly, she was originally rescued by the kind folks a Whatcom Humane Society. And they are coming down to film Lisa’s “happy ending” on Tuesday, March 15.

Pigmalion: A love story in three acts will deput in Bellingham, Wash. on April 9. The 30-minute film will tell the tale of Lisa and her quest to find a new home – and the lives she touched a long the way. Rest assured, we shall try to snabble a copy for our local viewing pleasure!

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Got a dirty dog? Get clean for a good cause.

 Got a dirty dog that needs washing? But don’t have the time, energy or bathtub to get the job done? For $10 you can get Fifi or Fido a bath - and a mani-pedi - thanks to The Friends of the Animal Shelter.

All proceeds from the Medford and Ashland doggy “spaw” days will benefit the FOTAS, a volunteer organization that supports the efforts of the Jackson County Animal Shelter.

Volunteers will wash your dog for only $7.  Nail trims are being done by Land of Paws professionals and are only $5.  The complete “spaw” package (wash and nail trim) is only $10.

Those in Medford can take their pooches to the sixth annual Medford Dog Wash at Pet Country, 2833 N. Pacific Hwy., from 10 a.m. to 2 pm., Saturday, July 24.

Ashland pooches will need to hold out a bit longer for the 18th annual Ashland Dog Wash which will occur on Saturday, Aug. 14 at the Ashland Food Co-op on First Street.

 For more information about Friends of the Animal Shelter, visit www.fotas.org.

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Too hot to travel with dogs

This summertime plea goes out to all dog owners - Please! Please! Please! Do NOT leave your dog in the car. Not even to dash into the store, post office or drop off a Jell-O mold at the kiddies’ pool party.

Each year we run stories about the dangers of hot cars and pets. Each year we lose beloved animals to this totally preventable tragedy.

As temperatures soar, hundreds of beloved canine companions are unintentionally killed or injured each year by being left in hot cars, even with windows cracked and only for a short time.

Don’t forget your dog is wearing a fur coat. According to the Animal Protection Institute, a 2007 study by San Francisco State University found that temperatures inside a car with the windows cracked can rise almost 20 degrees in 10 minutes, 35 degrees in 30 minutes and as much as 50 degrees in one hour.

Heatstroke can lead to organ shutdown and intestinal damage. A dog who is panting heavily, appears anxious, has glazed eyes or a rapid heart rate or is vomiting may have heatstroke and should immediately be placed in an environment with cool air and rushed to a veterinary care center.

If people see an animal or child trapped inside a hot car, they should call the police immediately, especially during the summertime

Leaving a pet in a vehicle can lead to charges of animal neglect if a person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence fails to provide minimum care for an animal in his or her care.

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Things that go boom in the night

July 4 is fast approaching. And a lot of folks are super excited about the pending festivities. Who doesn’t like a fiery display of flash-bang-boom?

Um… The answer to that would be many of our sound-sensitive pets.

Each year many dogs run away at the sound of fireworks, which can be going off nightly for a week. Jackson County Animal Care and Control shelter sees dozens of extra dogs in the month of July because of the fireworks, and there’s often no way to know where they came from because the majority don’t have any ID.

It’s an equally frustrating time for the Southern Oregon Humane Society. People call and say they’ve lost a pet. Others come in from those who have found one. Sometimes they match. Sometimes they don’t.

It’s important for people whose dog has bolted to contact the humane society, the animal shelter and the vet offices. If possible, bring in or e-mail photos to the shelters and vet offices, because one person’s description of a dog may not match another’s of the same animal. One person’s border collie mix is another person’s Aussie mix. Also, visit the county shelter frequently. Do not assume one phone call will suffice. New dogs may come in daily. And you’d be surprised how long it might take for your pet to settle down enough to be found.

The best solution for this annual dilemma is for dog owners to think ahead and keep their pets inside — in a cool, comfortable, contained area with a roof on it – during fireworks season. Here are some more tips:

  • Be sure your dog is wearing contact information on a dog tag or collar at all times, and have an identifying microchip implanted.
  • If your dog vanishes, check lost and found ads and visit the animal shelter frequently.
  • Have a photo of your dog on hand that you can send to the county shelter and humane society.
  • Stay with your dog while fireworks are going off and create some distracting noise such as music.

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Grants Pass Downs’ deadly opening weekend

“Bless the beasts and the children.” As the Mail Tribune courts, social services and pets reporter, this song goes through my head a lot.

Working these beats – and because of my former life as a vet assistant and stable manager – I know kids and animals are consistently put in harm’s way due to the poor decisions and actions of adults.

But sometimes it’s easy to point a finger, and not so easy to find a solution. 

Two horses broke down on the track at Grants Pass Downs on opening day and had to be humanely euthanized. Preventing tragedies like these is something we’d all like to see happen. Track surfaces must be properly maintained. Horses that are ill, injured or simply past their racing expiration date should not be put to the test.

Six horses died due to injuries they suffered racing on the half-mile track during the Downs’ last two abbreviated racing seasons. Officials keep no records on the number of horses that suffer career-ending or even fatal injuries during training.

The Oregon Racing Commission gave the track an ultimatum last fall – fix the track or stop racing. A $225,000 resurfacing effort ensued. That’s a lot of money for supporters of the small track to come up with, especially in this economy.

By all accounts there have been major positive changes made to the track’s footing. But horses are still dying.

The reasons are myriad: breeding, training, husbandry, age, unknown or unattended injuries - and sheer physics. If you twist your ankle walking at 3 mph, you can stop quickly. If you are running in excess of 30 mph, it takes time to stop. A 1,000-pound body in motion tends to stay in motion, even when a misstep happens. And every step creates more damage.

There are people who abhor racing as a barbaric practice. There are people who will defend it to their dying breath. Those who engage in cutting, trail, endurance and other activities shouldn’t get on their high horses. Horses get injured in the hunter, jumper and dressage worlds, too.

For me, there are few joys to compare to being one with a horse. There are great life lessons to be learned in all equine sports. But there is also a fair amount of cruelty, neglect and abuse.

Horses are expensive to keep when they are “useful” and well. Imagine their lives when they are neither. And I have my opinion about who gets the short end of the stick when money, egos and animals collide.

Here’s another part of the deal: No matter how much we may love our horses, the reality is we keep them in very unnatural environments, and in a manner that is counter to their biology. Most live in a box stall or small turnout pen when not under saddle. They are fed flakes of dried hay (or pressed alfalfa cubes) at intervals convenient for humans, not horses. All of this is far from the free-ranging state nature intended for a horse.

I’ve seen horses get injured and die simply standing in their stalls.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not advocating turning all domesticated horses out onto the American plains. Or even local pastures. I have seen my share of starving ponies. And, sadly, they can also suffer fatal injuries racing across open fields in the wild.

I guess what I’d like to see is every horse treated with as much respect, care and consideration as we’d like to receive – were we born with four legs and a flowing mane.

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Service Dogs ROCK!

I love dogs. All kinds of dogs. Big ones. Little ones. Long coats. Short coats. Purebred or Heinz 57 mutt. They’re all beloved bundles of unconditional love.

But there is a special place in my heart for service dogs, and the folks who train them. I was searching for some information on a recent fundraiser for Dogs for the Deaf,  when I stumbled across this video of Ricochet. 

What’s this? A surfing dog? Hmm. Not related to our local service dog organization. Not what I was hunting for. Nevertheless, I was intrigued enough to hit the play button.

A 5-week old golden retriever pup came into view. The little fellow was crawling along on his tummy, following his trainer’s cues and destroying my composure. Within moments I was bawling in the newsroom.

Ok, so I am a self-avowed wienie. But I challenge just about anyone to watch the trajectory of this success to failure to success story without getting verklempt too.As a friend who posted the video said, there’s a message here for everyone.

Rock on Ricochet. And thanks again to the selfless heroes who help train these dogs.

By the way, Dogs for the Deaf’s annual dogwalk event in Medford’s Hawthorne Park last Saturday had 250 attendees and raised $40,000 for the non-profit. Way to go!  

In over 30 years, Dogs for the Deaf has rescued and placed over 3,000 dogs in homes as Hearing Dogs, Miracle Mutts (Special Dogs for Special People), Harmony’s Hounds (Dogs with Special Needs), and Career Change Dogs. In keeping with this tradition, the organization has started a pilot Autism Assistance Dog Program. This program allows for the rescue and training of more dogs, specifically more large dogs.

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Saving Lisa’s bacon

You have to love a gig where your day involves a drive in the country to meet a 700-lb Yorkshire swine named Lisa.

Monday’s visit to Sanctuary One’s latest rescued critter began with a 30-minute cruise through the beautiful Applegate Valley to the 55-acre Double Oak Farm. Upon arrival, photographer Bob Pennell and I were greeted by Sansa Collins, caretaker extraordinaire.

We patted ponies and waded through a herd of curious goats on our way to meet the wayward swine who’d been rescued in January from an irate Washington farmer and transported to Sanctuary One on May 10.

Lisa emerged from the barn’s murky shadows like a slow rolling pink and white cloud. She headed straight toward me. I stood my ground, but my heart skipped a beat or two. After all, more than 700 pounds of pig was tiptoeing in my direction.

I knew Lisa was newly arrived at the sanctuary. I didn’t know if I’d be percieved as friend or foe. I remember wishing I’d taken that swine production class at Cal Poly Pomona after all as I was looking at her giant mouth. Out of my mouth came babble.

“Look at the size of those ears!” I said. “Her ear is bigger than my head! And I have a huge head!” 

Happily, Lisa overlooked my rude comments. It was quickly apparent, in Lisa’s mind, I was not the enemy. I was a potential bearer of treats. My reporter’s notebook was given a wet snuffle before Lisa’s keen nose sniffed out it was actually Sansa who’d brought the party snacks – peanuts and some apple slices.

Lisa ended up on the cover of the Mail Tribune. The “oohs,” “aaahs” and inevitable bacon-on-the-cloven-hoof jokes ensued. But Sansa assures me that folks are touched enough to fork over donations for Lisa’s continued care.

If you’d like to help, please call Sansa at 899-8627.

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Bachelor auction raises $15K for animal rescue

“It’s raining men! Hallelujah!” I know. I know. But the musical earworm is worth it. For, by all reports, a good time was had by all – and all for a good cause.

Local bachelors recently agreed to participate in the “It’s Raining Men” auction - all proceeds to benefit Sanctuary One at Double Oak Farm in the Applegate.

Sanctuary One states their trifold mission is to rescue domesticated animals, facilitate health and wellness in humans and promote environmental stewardship of the land.  

Two dozen brave beaus got into the spirit of the evening and strutted their stuff, said Patti Davis, one of the event’s organizers.

“They came alive!,” Davis said. “They were high-fiving each other. And some of the runaway walks were quite memorable.”

Micah Dubeau, given a bachelor moniker of “Cuddly But Bad,” was described in the program as a “energetic, ambitious young loan officer.” The Army veteran also enjoys travel, piano, athletics and eating, “not necessarily in that order.”

Davis said Dubeau dropped on the catwalk and gave the ladies a look at his guns.

“He started doing one-armed push-ups,” Davis said. “Those girls went wild!”

(Note to self: You are so going to this gig next year!)

Dubeau and the rest of the bachelors gave previews of the date they had in store for the winning bidder.

Matthew “Must Love Dogs” Sorenson, the “Steve Martin of wine-making,” promised a tandem hang-gliding  adventure off Woodrat Mountain, with a hopeful landing at Longsword Vineyards for wine tasting.

The bachelors ”sold” for between $350 and $400 on average, Davis said.

The funds raised will be used as seed money to get a cage-free dog kennel and adoption center started. The final cost is expected be $50,000. To help, please contact www.sanctuaryone.org or call 541-899-8627.  For more information visit info@sanctuaryone.org.

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Some good news for a change

Josephine County Animal Control got a reprieve in the form of a cash infusion into their starving budget. Good news for the animals in our neighboring county who now have a better shot at a new home.

Inadequate funding had the shelter headed towards shortened hours of operation, less adoptions, and more deaths for the shelter inhabitants.

But a last minute reprieve in the form of a $75,000 budget boost - which will help pay for another staff member – means the shelter may not have to euthanize more dogs and cats.

According to news reports, the shelter had been struggling to maintain services since the county removed it from the general fund in 2006, effectively cutting its $271,000 annual budget in half.

Both Josephine and Jackson County’s Animal Care and Control shelters rely solely on license and adoption fees to maintain operations. Unfortunately, only about 50 percent of dog owners license their pets. That leaves a significant financial shortfall. 

Last week Josephine County Budget Committee members voted in favor giving Animal Control the funds in the 2010-2011 budget, which will allow them to hire another officer and purchasing another vehicle.

I call this good news. How about you?

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Dog licenses save lives

News that Josephine County Animal Control may have to euthanize more dogs and cats is the tragic answer to a negative fiscal equation.

Inadequate funding = shortened hours of operation = less adoptions = more animals euthanized.

According to news reports, the shelter has been struggling to maintain services since the county removed it from the general fund in 2006, effectively cutting its $271,000 annual budget in half.

Like Jackson County’s Animal Care and Control shelter, our neighboring shelter relies solely on license and adoption fees to maintain operations.

Unfortunately, only about 50 percent of dog owners license their pets. That leaves a significant financial shortfall. Public Health Director Belle Shepherd is asking the county for about $75,000 from the general fund to hire an additional enforcement officer and purchase another vehicle to help cover the 1,642-square-mile county.

Unless the Josephine County commissioners - or a generous public - kick in the difference, the shelter will have to prioritize its duties and focus on enforcement. Meaning less hours open for adoption. Meaning more animals will be euthanized.

When times are tough for humans, they are generally tougher for animals. Jackson County’s shelter recently hired a compliance officer to help get back on track with its own revenue stream via dog licenses.

A lot of people – and I used to be one of them – have a certain resistance to paying for dog licenses. After all, if one is a responsible owner and one’s dog is properly contained and cared for, why pony up money to the county for a little jangly tag? At least that was my thinking.

Well, for one thing it’s the law. More importantly, that tag saves lives. Not only does it make it more likely your dog will get safely home should he or she stray or get stolen, that money pays for staffing and services necessary in support of all the unfortunate dogs and cats who are not lucky enough to have responsible owners.

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    Sanne Specht

    Sanne Specht is the Mail Tribune's education reporter, Southern Oregon Journal columnist and Unleased blogger by day. By night she is companion to several mutant goldfish, a duo of rowdy parrots and a most venerable cat. Read all about the ... Read Full
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