What is HELP FIDO?

Humane Education Leads to Progress
For Informed Dog Owners

Vision Statement: We envision a society free from discrimination, where responsibility, education, love and compassion allow humans to fully respect and understand man's best friend.

Friday, July 2, 2010

4th of July Safety Reminder

A 4th of July reminder to dog owners. This weekend will be the busiest weekend of the year for animal shelters. Thousands of dogs are lost when they panic from the fireworks. Please bring your dogs inside, or put them in the garage. A backyard is not the place for them when the fireworks are going off. If you chain your dog, please bring it in. Many dogs will end up strangling/hanging themselves in a panic.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I buried your dog today

Today I buried your dog. I don’t know what your story is or why you wouldn’t try to find your dog. He was a great dog. That cold December day when I found him wandering the streets, cold and emaciated, I thought for certain someone had to be looking for this kind, old soul. When I called animal control to come and pick him up, I did it with full certainty, knowing I was making the call that would reunite this happy, old boy with his family. When I found out three days later that he was never claimed, I drove to the shelter to pick him up and bring him home, certain I would see Lost Dog signs somewhere. We never did see those signs, our found dog ads were never answered. Trying to keep some faith in humanity, I imagined that perhaps he had an elderly owner who had died and the remaining family didn’t know to look for him. Once upon a time he had a family who must have loved him. He was housebroken, loved to lay in doorways and was elated to go on car rides. Somewhere, he had to have a family that had loved him for the past 14 years. But that family never appeared.

So in December, we argued with the local shelter in order to get the old guy released to us. With his being emaciated, eye infections, ear infections, horrible teeth, deaf, mostly blind and covered in lumps and tumors, he was deemed by the shelter to not be a candidate for adoption – “not even to a rescue” With some persistence, we were finally able to get him released from the shelter and headed towards our home. That’s when “Tucker” or “Old Man” moved in.

From the start, it was his house. He walked right in, met all of our resident pitties and settled right in. He quickly became one of the gang and a best friend to Charlotte and Izzy, a patient chew toy for the foster pups, and the bane of Rags’ existence. He was an attention hound who loved having the little spot right above his tail scratched and would turn and head butt you if you dared to stop. He would take turns lying in doorways blocking all entries, only raising his head every now and then as both humans and dogs stepped over him. He would get so excited and bark his hoarse bark, urging you to hurry and get him his food, and “whoooof, whooof, whooof” again if he wasn’t happy with what he found in his bowl. Over the course of the next month, Tucker put on weight, going from 44 pounds up to his goal weight of 71 pounds. His ear infections were cleared up as were the eye infections. He got to experience the fun of being groomed and thought the high powered blowers were pretty nice.

He had the most perfect winter. He loved the snow and would spend hours rolling around like a horse, making his own little snow angels. His face was almost always blanketed in the cold white powder. When he wasn’t out in the snow he could be found lying next to my Grandson’s bean bag chair or Hoovering through the house looking for stray pieces of kibble. When spring arrived and the snow melted, Tucker’s new love became rolling in mud puddles. There were many days he would walk back into the house completely covered in a thick, sludgy layer of mud, the only red fur showing would be a strip running down the center of his back which would leave us scrambling to find enough blankets to cover the carpeting before he could plop down and take one of his famous eight hour cat naps.

We thought that summer would bring new joys for Tucker, days being spent out under the shade trees or splashing in a baby pool. Unfortunately we were wrong. Tucker had a couple of strokes which he bounced back from but they worsened his Laryngeal Paralysis. The warm summer weather would only exacerbate the condition and make it nearly impossible for the poor guy to breath. Today as Tucker lay next to me, looking up at me with those soft brown eyes, gasping for breath, it became clear that it was time for Tucker to move on to his next destination.

So today, I buried your dog. I no longer care what the reason is for your not looking for him. I only wish you would have lost him a little earlier so that we could have had more time with him. So whether you care or not, please know that in his last months he brought so much love and joy into our home and left an impression that will never be forgotten. He was loved, so thank you.

Tucker came into our home December 11, he took over our house but more importantly he took over our hearts. Tucker will be greatly missed.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

HumaneWatch.org - Telling the truth about HSUS

We've addressed this topic in the past as part of the Michael Vick case and HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) has been a target of other humane organizations and animal welfare groups for a long time. But recently, HSUS has come under even more attack and for good reason. KC Dog Blog does an excellent job outlining many of the reasons. In the past couple months, a new website - HumaneWatch.org has launched which is a collaborated effort by many people to be a "watchdog" for HSUS.

HSUS is VERY slick in their marketing efforts. It wasn't until 4 or 5 years ago that I found out the truth about them and their director, Wayne Pacelle. I'm now embarrassed to admit I gave money to HSUS in the past. Although Anna and I have cared about animals and dogs for a long time, it wasn't until the past 5 years where we began to get more involved in dog issues after adopting one and then two rescued pit bulls and migrating through the many problems with Breed Specific Legistlation. As I read more and talked to more people, I quickly realized that there is HUGE difference between our (and likely yours as well) local Humane Societies and HSUS. The Capital Area Humane Society in Columbus, for example, has absolutely nothing to do with the HSUS. They receive zero dollars from HSUS and are completely independent from them. The ONLY thing they share is part of a name. We quickly stopped giving money to HSUS and now only give money to local Humane organizations where we know exactly where the dollars are going. HSUS is not at all what they seem or what many donors think they are. I encourage everyone to check out HumaneWatch.org and think carefully about where your donations go. If you'd like to join our email list, please send an email to helpfido@gmail.com.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Huge Changes in Toledo!

Some more good news has come out of Toledo in the past month. After a 22 year reign of terror and incompetency, Tom Skeldon "retired" back in November. Since that time, Lucas County (of which Toledo is a big part) has been making a number of significant changes to improve the lives of dogs and dog owners, while also working to increase safety in their community.

One huge change is a new dog warden - Julie Lyle' who clearly feels MUCH differently about how to do things than her predecessor, Tom Skeldon. Our friends at KC Dog Blog have a great post with many more details about the new warden.

A second huge change is the Toledo Humane Society's reversal on their long-standing position to prohibit adoption of "pit bulls". As the Toledo Blade explains, the Humane Society plans to adopt out "some" members of the pit bull population that previously were killed pretty much immediately. Now this brings up a whole set of other issues such as: 1) what exactly is a pit bull? Breed identification is risky business; 2) many dogs fail the temperament testing by Humane Societies, regardless of breed. But some dogs are given the benefit of the doubt on testing while "pit bulls" often are not. Nevertheless, this is a positive step in the right direction.

We are hopeful things will continue to move forward in a positive direction. And special thanks to our friends at Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates for their hard work in Lucas County.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

End Discrimination! Ohio House Bill 79

Happy Spring to all. Sorry for the lack of posts; our "work" lives have been crazy busy and we have not been able to update this blog as much as we would all like but we've been working diligently behind the scenes on a number of activities.

One very important news item for ALL dog owners in Ohio is the progress of Ohio House Bill 79. We previously posted about the details of this bill, which have not changed. It's relatively simple: would amend § 955.11 of the Ohio Revised Code to remove “pit bulls” from the definition of “vicious dog”.

HELP FIDO was present last Wednesday when HB 79 went before the Ohio House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, over a year after it was initially introduced by Rep. Barbara Sears. There were many supporters in attendance, some even occupying the adjacent “overflow room”. Roughly 10 people spoke, with only a couple expressing opposition to HB 79. Among the supporters were Jean Keating, co-founder of Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates, Shana Klein, founder of Cleveland-based bully rescue For the Love of Pits, and Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop.

There was a wide range of topics discussed by the speakers who support the bill, ranging from the cost for a community to enforce breed specific legislation, to the fact that it punishes law abiding citizens and good dogs and may even be considered unconstitutional. Commissioner Konop, who attempted to have former dog warden Tom Skeldon removed from his position before Skeldon retired in November, stressed that no breed is inherently vicious, just as babies aren’t born evil. He spoke about the Toledo pound’s recent moratorium on killing pit bulls since Tom Skeldon is no longer the dog warden. Skeldon actually spoke briefly, but didn’t have much to say, other than giving his opinion that passing the bill would be a mistake. “The job of dog warden is to protect the public from dogs,” he said. Well, Skeldon, as we’ve said before, you’re missing the other half of the job description, and that’s why you’re no longer the dog warden. The committee members didn’t bother to ask any questions after his speech.

Some testimonies focused on the definition (or lack thereof) of the term “pit bull” and how this presents such a huge problem in identifying dogs where the law is concerned. There was a lot of talk about media sensationalism and how statistics condemning pit bulls are often skewed and inaccurate depending on the source. In regards to these statistics, it was importantly noted that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has not collected dog bite data based on breed in 12 years. They've stopped doing it. Speakers asserted that breed specific legislation, like that of Ohio Revised Code Section 955.11 and 955.22, creates a false sense of security and ignores the root of the problem, endangering the public more. Supporters stated that instead of breed discriminatory legislation, communities should crack down on irresponsible owners and those involved in criminal activity, enforce existing leash/containment laws, focus on educating the public, including children on bite prevention, and promote responsible ownership through lower-cost training and handling classes, as well as spay/neuter programs.

Speakers for the bill effectively presented rebuttals for the opposition in regards to multiple topics. While the speakers supporting HB 79 were extremely well-prepared, offering handouts and informational packets and promising follow-up data for any of the committee members who requested additional information, the speaker from an environmental division within the Franklin County Court could not give any additional information when he was asked by the committee to back up the statistics he presented about the danger of pit bulls. After a speech in opposition to the bill, one committee member commented “These dogs are just nasty, and I don’t see why anyone would want to have one.“ GASP!! HISS!! Well, on the subject of these "nasty" dogs' temperament, findings of the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) were cited: the average score of the four breeds most often referred to or classified as a “pit bull” type dog, and who are defined as such in the Ohio Revised Code, is an 85.7%, higher than the Golden Retriever. The American Pit Bull Terrier alone received a score of 85.3. Other individual scores can be viewed here at the ATTS website. The reality of dog attacks was also discussed. Supporting speakers noted that often times attacks are the result of environmental factors, such as (abuse, neglect, starvation, and confinement) that would cause ANY animal, not a specific breed or type of dog, to attack, reinforcing Commissioner Konop’s “nature vs. nurture” statement. Other factors that contribute to bites include unaltered dogs and lack of socialization, which are also completely preventable issues.

Several speakers indicated that nearly all the credible animal welfare, veterinary medical, and human health organizations OPPOSE breed specific legislation, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Canine Foundation, the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA), the American Dog Owners Association (ADOA), the National Animal Control Association (NACA), the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), and the American Kennel Club (AKC), among others; one speaker even pointed out that Ohio BSL actually asks local Animal Control Officers to go AGAINST the opinion of their own national organization.

Shana Klein, founder of Cleveland’s For the Love of Pits bully rescue gave testimony, as did her mother, who delivered a heartfelt speech in favor of pit bulls and HB 79. The Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocate’s Jean Keating had an especially thorough and well-delivered testimonial that included many of the aforementioned points, garnering a healthy round of applause from all the supporters in attendance. Toward the end of the hearing, after all scheduled witnesses had spoken, anyone who wanted to say something was given the floor. HELP FIDO’s Lisa had an opportunity to make a point about the insurance coverage that is required for pit bull owners in Ohio, and how many companies discriminate against homeowners based on Ohio’s current law.

We strongly support this bill as the scientific evidence from places such as the
National Canine Research Council and detailed in numerous outlets such as KC Dog Blog and Stop BSL have shown, indisputably, that Breed Specific Legislation does not work! It is impossible to enforce as there is no accurate indicator of breed (aside from early DNA testing), extremely expensive to enforce and most important of all - does NOT make our communities safer. To read more, please click on the BSL link at the bottom right of this blog. What does work is judging each dog individually, based upon its behavior and actions.

As of right now there is no committee vote scheduled for the bill, so we’ll have to keep our ears open and our fingers and toes crossed in the meantime! Want to help HB 79? Visit the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates website.

Huge thanks for Lacy Marshall for contributing the majority of this post.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Poisonous Chewing Gum...Review!

This post won't be new information for the blog but may be new information for some, so I'm reposting an entry Dr. Mandi wrote last year. I have a friend whose dog recently got into a shopping bag and ate a pack of chewing gum, and she wasn't aware of how dangerous the artificial sweetener xylitol is for dogs. She took him to the vet immediately as soon as I told her it could be poisonous to him, and he's fine thankfully. He cost her and her husband a pretty penny with that scare, but better safe than sorry! I think it's an important reminder, so here it is! :o)

Chewing gum...Poisonous???

Hello all! Recently I have treated several dogs that have gotten themselves into a "sticky situation" by eating various kinds of chewing gum. But all joking aside, if your pet gets into your purse or gets to that gum on the kitchen counter or your bedroom dresser they can be in some pretty serious trouble. The primary offender is an ingredient called XYLITOL. It is a sweetener or sugar substitute that many gum manufacturers are now using in their products. There has been some good information passed around recently on the internet, but here are a few more facts to increase your knowledge base about this sticky sweet "poison".

According to the most recent data from the National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC), a relatively small dose of xylitol can cause serious hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) that can be fatal if left untreated. (Something you would certainly NOT expect something sweet to do!!) For a small dog (5-10 pounds) the toxic dose could be as small as LESS THAN ONE STICK OF GUM!

Xylitol ingestion can also be associated with severe liver failure, which, even if treated aggressively, can result in death. Not all dogs that ingest toxic doses of xylitol develop hypoglycemia or liver failure, but because it is impossible to predict which dogs will develop these serious symptoms, it is recommended that all dogs that ingest potentially toxic doses be treated aggressively. Also, if your dog (or cat) consumes ANY chewing gum at all, you should contact your veterinarian, the local emergency service or the NAPCC immediately for consultation and treatment.

Treatment usually involves a veterinarian inducing vomiting, taking blood tests to monitor liver function, hospitalization for intravenous fluids (containing dextrose - sugar supplementation), blood sugar monitoring and other supportive care as needed. Dogs that have ingested large amounts may require long term care and follow up blood tests, may have permanent liver problems and may not survive treatment.

A simple solution is to only purchase xylitol free chewing gum. But remember to call your veterinarian if you even FOR ONE SECOND think your pet may have ingested gum. You can also call the National Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 for advice. They charge a $60 consultation fee which can be well worth it in this situation!!! The NAPCC can also answer questions about many toxic substances. Better safe than sorry!!!

Written by Dr. Mandi (April 7, 2009)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hope for Bullys on Marine Base

I recently received my Winter 2010 copy of "ASPCA Action" and read an article that really made me smile. The article titled "ASPCA Animal Behavior Experts Work with Marines to Evaluate Dogs and Keep Them on Base", gave me hope that more people are working to prevent breed bans and are fighting to give Bully breed dogs the chance they deserve.

This article is reprinted with the expressed permission of the ASPCA.

In early October, six ASPCA animal behavior experts traveled to assess the behavior of 85 dogs living in the Tri-Command housing units of the U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot. The dogs, mostly Pit Bulls and Rottweilers, were potentially subject to a new military housing breed ban, and the Tri-Command tapped the ASPCA to assess the dogs to ensure that they did not pose a threat to base personnel and their families.

The assessment, known as SAFER (Safety Assessment For Evaluation Rehoming), is an evaluation tool that helps identify the likelihood of aggression in individual dogs. SAFER identifies a dog's comfort level with certain interactions, like restraint, touch, reaction to new experiences, objects and sounds, bite inhibition, behavior around food and toys, and attitude towards other dogs.

"Our goal was to make sure safe dogs and their families were able to stay together," says Dr. Emily Weiss, ASPCA Senior Director of Shelter Research and Development. "We were seeking to identify behavior such as aggression, which often can be modified or managed." Dr. Weiss developed the SAFER assessment program, as well as the popular ASPCA Meet Your Match program.

Talk of instituting a breed ban on the base began after several incidents that involved dogs attacks. The Marine Corps had previously conducted tests that evaluated a dog's obedience and manners, but not aggression.

The ASPCA is opposed to laws that ban specific breeds of dogs or discriminate against responsible dog guardians based solely on their choice of breed. Dr. Weiss says, " We evaluated 85 dogs using the SAFER assessment. Of those, 83 showed no significant aggression issues that would cause them to be torn from their loving families." She adds, "Two dogs demonstrated significant aggression - that's just 2.4 percent of the dogs assessed, which is a powerful statistic when the alternative is an all-out ban on a breed."

(Copyright 2010. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). All rights reserved.)

Also in this recent issue were stories chronicling some of the ASPCA's recent work such as the evaluation of some of the dogs seized in the largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history (including a "pit-bull" that gave birth to puppies after she was rescued), their rescue of 250 dogs and cats in October raids on puppy-mills in Mississippi and Tennessee, and the passing of the Human Euthanasia Bill by the New York State Legislature that prohibits gassing as an accepted form of euthanasia for stray, homeless, abandoned or improperly cared for animals, requires euthanasia by injection to be done only by a certified euthanasia technician, licensed veterinary technician or licensed veterinarian, and prohibits intra-cardiac euthanasia on unsedated animals who are under the care of a shelter.

The ASPCA is a wonderful organization whose members and experts work tirelessly to save so many animals. But, what impresses me most, is their continued work to show the world that breed-bans are unfounded and that Bully breed dogs are worth saving too. Every day they work to give these dogs not only the care and medical attention they need, but to place them in the loving homes they deserve. THANK YOU ASPCA!!

These are the dogs of HELP FIDO...our dogs...this is why we are here...