Harvey and Irma- Who’s Helping the Animals? Part 2

Welcome back. (Please visit Part 1, originally posted on September 18, 2017)

Now for some good news: Remember Kat and her flooded out shelter? Here’s a photo of her reuniting with the dogs!

There are still major Harvey animal rescue efforts happening as I write this, weeks after the storm. Just this morning I received an email from City Dogs Rescue in DC that they were preparing to receive 10 Houston dogs that were on transport now. They need funds of course to support these new dogs.

And an organization based in Los Angeles, Operation Blankets of Love which usually collects and donates comfort items and food to shelter dogs in LA donated and transported tons of food and crates to hurricane efforts.

Meanwhile, just as Harvey started to quiet down, Irma became the big news and set her sights on the Carribean and Florida. As we all saw, the Carribean was just brutalized as were parts of Florida.

In Florida, many organizations were able to evacuate their animals ahead of the storm. The New York Times reported about flamingoes, dolphins, and pigs that were all moved to safer ground!

Many of the animals on the Caribbean islands were left behind and private parties are either making efforts to rescue them, or there are some smaller rescue groups doing the best they can. But man it breaks my heart when people evacuate without their pets and don’t make an effort to return.

While there are thousands of more stories to share, I’ll end with this one. As mentioned in part 1, my mom lives in Florida. Her friend, Lisa, and Lisa’s husband, Bob, evacuated with their dog further from the water for safety. Well, they were safe, but in the chaos of the storm, their dog Donovan got spooked and bolted.

Donovan was missing for 24 hours and while many people saw him, no one could get close enough to grab him. Finally, a kind man was able to scoop him up, call Lisa and return Donovan safely. It turns out, the man used to be the president of the Lakewood Ranch Humane Society! He just can’t help but keep on saving dogs in need.

If you are looking for ways to help the animals but just haven’t yet, any of the organizations listed here (plus many many more!) can use your financial assistance.

p.s. If you are wondering how you might help people still in need after Irma, I received this (now excerpted) information from a people organization called Ultraviolet:

1. The Florida community is encouraging folks outside Florida to donate to the Hurricane Irma Community Recovery Fund.

2. Islands in the Caribbean, including U.S. territories, are in desperate need of help. You can give through Global Giving, as recommended by the New York Times. After ensuring emergency response is covered, this fund will shift to longer-term reconstruction.

3. You can also support women living in temporary shelters by donating to Support the Girls. They provide pads, tampons, and other feminine hygiene products, so women don’t have to choose between their personal health and their next meal.

Harvey and Irma- Who’s helping the animals? Part 1

I was all set to share what the “helpers” were doing after Hurricane Harvey when Irma set her sights on Florida. Then it got personal because she was heading straight toward MY PARENTS!

So I stepped away from writing and watched Irma’s path until I knew my folks were safe. They are fine and super lucky and never lost power. And now I have even more to share.

It seems so long ago that Harvey hit but I’m still moved by how people and organizations mobilized (and continue to mobilize) to help both people and animals. I get regular communication from a number of organizations and here’s how I see them helping:

Network for Animals sent out a plea for funding because they were sending funds to Houston. I was moved to help them
because they were acting quickly. Here’s a photo that they shared:

Next, Second Chance Rescue, a rescue organization based in NYC, blasted out an email because one of their Houston partners (remember my blog about animals in the south that get transported to rescue groups in northern states where there are more adopters for them?) was forced to evacuate WITHOUT their dogs! This is an excerpt:

“We won’t leave the dogs so need help getting them out by boat. We need temporary places for them to stay as well. We will need about 20 more large crates…

…THE BOATS HAVE TURNED AROUND AND WE NEED MORE BOATS. Three of our own dogs are there and 27 other cats and dogs are still left on the compound! Not to mention 100 dogs that are out in the fields and need rescuing. Our partners have lost everything. Boats arrived and then turned around once they heard they were saving cats and dogs!!!!!”

Here’s a photo of their flooded compound.

Then, the woman in charge of the Houston facility… “Kat has been forcibly removed from the property, and the emergency crew would not take the rest of the dogs. These dogs will not survive unless we get the word out now. Mcbeth, our dog, is one of those 30 dogs and Harlin is out in the field in the crate. Emergency personnel is threatening to turn every dog loose. This is it.”

Well, this was all posted on their FB page and within minutes there were hundreds of offers to help. More about them later…

Larger organizations that I support, like the Humane Society of the US and Best Friends Animal Society, mobilized and have been sending regular updates. This is one of the many videos showcasing the amazing work they have been doing.

So all of this sounds good and I do believe that (most) everyone is doing the best they know how with the resources they have in a crisis situation. But there are a few issues at hand. Here’s some background: Some of the shelters were transporting dogs that were already in their care out of state ahead of the storm. Houston has a huge dog overpopulation problem and there are many rescue groups out of state that partner with the shelters, (especially during a crisis) and take in dogs leaving more room for the dogs newly homeless from the storm. They continued exporting dogs as the crisis continued.

One of my Chicago based colleagues is fostering a dog from Houston. Foster families are needed now more than ever. If you are in the Chicago area and able to foster, contact The Anti-Cruelty Society. Rescue groups around the country also need fosters.

Best Friends was interviewed and while trying not to criticize some of the rescue efforts they were involved with, they did share the following:  Some people who evacuated the rising waters with their pets were told that the dogs would be sheltered but they couldn’t stay with them. So people were sleeping under cars, or in fields etc. while their dogs were being cared for. My understanding is that some of these dogs were then transported and rehomed out of state. (Could this be?) Hopefully not the ones whose pet parents were keeping an eye on them. Yikes! How are these dogs going to be reunited with their original owner? Certainly not easily.

Another criticism that the spokesperson from Best Friends had was that while Hurricane Katrina taught us many lessons about animal rescue in a crisis, many of the lessons hadn’t carried over to Hurricane Harvey. There seemed to be a serious lack of communication.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 and some great news and reunion photos!

Humane Education: Nantucket Island Style

A few weeks ago, in preparation for my trip to Nantucket for my brother’s wedding, I contacted the local shelter on the island inquiring whether they had any humane education camps going on, or might be interested in me doing an author visit around my non fiction book, What to Expect When Adopting a Dog.

Susan at Nantucket Island Safe Harbor for Animals (NISHA) contacted me back immediately letting me know that they were interested in putting together an event.

They have a lovely humane education department and invited me to do a reading of my kids books. The original plan, weather permitting was to do it out on the lawn, but then the rains came and we went back and forth between doing it in a tiny room inside, or taking our chances and setting up some chairs outside under the eaves.

It was a small but lovely event. A few small children attended, along with a half dozen tweens and teens who are mentees in the volunteer humane ed program. I was treated to a tour of the shelter as well as a little background about their history. NISHA is a mostly foster-based organization, which is wonderful because the dogs in their care get socialized helping them to become more adoptable.

NISHA is currently home to many cats that live at the shelter with only two Coon Hound dogs taking up residence there. The rest of the dogs are either being fostered, or are being fostered with the intent to being adopted by that family!

NISHA is also fabulous in that they receive dogs that are transported from overcrowded shelters in the South. (You can read either of my blogs about Rescue Road, or START to learn more about organizations that transport animals to safety in states and towns that have families ready to adopt them).

I loved reading my books to the kids and doing a short interactive care and safety presentation. I usually use a stuffed dog for the interactive portion, but Gwen, NISHA’s rescued dog ambassador was super helpful for teaching the kids how to safely approach a dog.

Thank you, Susan and NISHA for the amazing work you do to help animals and people on Nantucket and beyond!

Putting a little PEP in your Pet Education!

I love reading my kids books and doing my short interactive presentations. It’s what I do, and I can only hope that at least some of the time it has an impact.

But I’ve gotta admit, when I learned about The Pet Education Project and saw how they are engaging kids kinesthetically, I got really excited.

So I’m sharing!

Check out how Erica Callais Falbaum, the founder, dresses up as a superhero and really engages the kids.  Do you remember being a kid and learning because you actually engaged in a physical activity that reinforced the learning?

That type of learning isn’t just for kids. It still works that way… at least for me and other kinesthetic learners. I’ll bet that the kids in her classes go home and talk about their experience and what they’ve learned for days, if not weeks. It becomes a part of them. And that’s exactly the point. How best can we educate kids and encourage compassion and compassionate choices? The bonus is the kids are having fun while learning.

When I was a kid I remembered the guest speakers, assemblies, and field trips more than I remembered the class work. I’m confident I’m not alone because these fun and interactive experiences are what stand out.

I’m super impressed with The Pet Education Project and hope that it continues to thrive and make a difference. Erica has created an amazing program and her energy is infectious.

Check them out and see if they can be helpful to a group of kids you work with.

We need superheroes today more than ever before and I love that we have a real live humane super hero walking on earth with us.

Most Insane Holiday Ever

Alert: This blog is a rant (not my usual tone.)

Maybe this wasn’t the worst holiday EVER, but it was brutal.

I’ve traditionally enjoyed July 4th– especially a good fireworks show. Parades and parties and a little bit of patriotism.  For the most part, I’m a fun loving gal (and we did go to a block party for a bit that was fun), but having dogs has changed my outlook on the holiday- or at least the way it is celebrated. And this year sent me into a tailspin.

There are dozens of blogs and safety sheets about keeping your pets safe during the fireworks. But what about keeping them sane?

I live in Los Angeles where the fireworks begin DAYS before July 4th. If the noise just lasted for the 20 minutes during a fireworks show, it would all be manageable. But it doesn’t end there. Individuals obtain fireworks and light them off ALL NIGHT LONG. And each time they do, my big dog, Ninja goes bananas.

This year, on July 4th, we could hear explosions all over the city for hours and hours and hours beyond the end of the fireworks display. And I mean explosions. At 12:30 am my son came into my room and said, “I think we’re getting bombed.” In my semi-coma I replied, “It sure does sound like it, but I think it’s just fireworks. Try to go back to bed.” Ninja was barking the entire time- from 9 pm until 12:30 am.  Hence the semi-coma.

My husband gallantly hugged Ninja at the foot of the bed to act like a human Thundershirt for the remainder of the night. Well, whatever remainder there was. The explosions started up again at 4:30 am.

And now, days after July 4th, I suppose people still had a few fireworks left, so why not set them off… Ugh.  It’s not as bad anymore, but it’s still happening.

I remember a few years ago, we walked up the street to watch our local fireworks. The dogs were safely in crates for the 30 minutes we’d be out. When the first fireworks boomed into the sky, the birds all scattered and were silent. They must have been terrified. It made me sad.

And then this year, I noticed no birds singing all night long. (Remember, I was up for most of it). There was so much tension. Everyone I spoke with this week, especially pet parents had a similar experience and felt it was way worse than years past. It was all just over the top.

So for next year, we are going to a pet-friendly resort in a town that has fireworks that end at a decent hour. I’ve already scoped it out. A pet-friendly hotel, at a dog-friendly beach, away from the fray. Sounds much better to me. My dogs love the beach and never get to go because it’s illegal in my part of Los Angeles, so it will be a win-win for everyone and maybe we’ll all get some sleep too.

Going to alert my dog sitter now that next year she will be house sitting. No doggies, just a house!

The Dog Days of Summer Camp

Don’t you just love summer?

Are you the kind of family that loves the long warm summer days at home… kids sleeping late, or at camp during the day? Maybe a few trips to the lake or beach?  Or do you love getting far away from it all? Do you prefer a relaxing sitting by the pool kind of vacation? Or are you more of the adventure seeking type? Or a mix?

And- have you ever been on a vacation or even a staycation (the vacation where you stay at home) that gives back to the community or to our planet?

Here are some great ideas for you animal-loving families.

Let’s start with the staycation. School is out, kids need something to do for at least part of the time. They love animals, you love the idea of them getting a humane education year round. But of course, we want it to be fun, right?

Did you know that many animal shelters offer summer camp weeks?

If you are staying close to home, it’s a fabulous option.

Shelters offer kids camps with activities ranging from arts and crafts projects, to reading, guest speakers,  scavenger hunts, puzzles, and some offer hands-on work with shelter animals. Perhaps they do a little dog training, some outdoor activities, and socializing with shelter animals.  I just learned that some groups either have a veterinarian on staff or bring one in to camp to show kids how to suture after a spay and neuter procedure (using a banana!) and in some instances, kids can even watch a real procedure (having a signed waiver from their parents of course and age appropriate).

The kids are having fun while learning!

Next, what if you are going for an extended stay somewhere and want to get to know the area. Let’s say you are visiting Kauai, Hawaii (lucky you!). Your children can join the Kauai Humane Society Critter Camps and do all of this in Hawaii. At Kauai Humane, the kids get to do a mock surgery with a stuffed dog and the “Critters” put on gloves and cute animal masks and pretend to be the Vet and the Vet techs. They usually find a toy that the dog has swallowed or chocolate. Their imaginations go beyond!

The kids are engaged, having fun all while learning.

This frees you up to have a little bit of adult time exploring, AND, if you are itching to give back while traveling (yay you!) one of the most popular programs at Kauai Humane is the “Take A Dog Out For A Day ” or Field Trip program. People come in and pick out a dog to take out for the day. They can take them on hikes or the beach, or even just for a ride to the mall or their home for a few hours.

The dogs get more exposure because they wear an “adopt me” vest and many tourists end up adopting and taking the dogs home to the mainland!

What a great way to be on vacation and get to be a part of the local humane experience. You get your “doggie fix” while exploring the local area while giving back to the dogs and ultimately the community.

Sign me up!

If you recall my visit to Best Friends Animal Society two years ago, I was able to have a sleepover with a dog.

I love learning that other organizations are also allowing dogs to go out on hikes, get some socialization and who knows, might become your newest family member.

A few organizations that I know of running summer camps this summer are:

New Hampshire SPCA

Humane Society of Charles County Maryland

Humane Society of Truckee- Tahoe California

Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, Florida

Potter League for Animals- Middletown, RI

Lollypop Farm Summer Camp- Rochester, NY

Valley Humane Critter Camp- Pleasanton, CA

Let me know how you plan to spend your dog days of summer!

START Your Day with Heroic Dog Rescuers

You know how sometimes we see cute images of animals online and then click to see the photo, or watch a video. And other times, especially for those of us involved in animal rescue, we see images that are harder to look at. Sometimes those images are graphic and gratuitous.

But they are telling a story.

The truth is, day in and day out there are thousands upon thousands of animals in various situations ranging from “Geez, I could use a good home” to dire.

I work with many rescue groups and shelters that help all those cases and many more in between.

One of my favorite groups is called Shelter Transport Animal Rescue Team (S.T.A.R.T). START does two things: 1) Animals are rescued from high kill shelters in Southern and Central California and transported to Pacific Northwest rescue organizations where they are rehomed.

2) START funds veterinary clinics in local communities to facilitate no/low-cost spay/neuter services in the hopes of reducing unwanted births and fewer intakes at the already overcrowded animal shelters.

Pretty cool, huh? AND… as of this writing, 8359 animals have been transported by START!

What I specifically love about START is how they interact with their supporters.

They regularly send out beautiful emails sharing photos of a dog or dogs at the shelter (the “before” photos), letting us know a bit about their backstory.  Seeing an animal suffering is hard. And yes, some stories are sadder than others. But all the dogs need good homes.

Supporters know that START does great work and they make donations so that START can rescue the dogs from the shelter situation. Once the dogs are safe, they go stay at Aunty Sandy’s- a boarding facility run by a woman with the biggest of big hearts.

Aunty Sandy showers them with love and affection and assists in tending to any veterinary needs.

When the dogs are ready, they are either lovingly placed on transport or some are adopted locally.

Sometimes, dogs are pulled from the shelter because they only have a few days or weeks left to live and START and Aunty Sandy make sure they know they are loved for at least that time.

Then comes my favorite part. START sends out a follow-up email with the “after” photos. We see smiling dogs, dogs with treats and balls and friends and families. START is clever and writes a wonderful and entertaining follow up note, often in the voice of the happy-to-be-safe dog.

I cheer and smile and cry happy tears for the dogs and give thanks for all of START’s efforts.

This month, START was kind enough to share What to Expect When Adopting a Dog in their fabulous newsletter. As a thank you, I’m making an extra donation to them at the end of May. (So if you haven’t purchased a copy yet, doing so now will help them out!)

There is so much more good stuff to share about START, so why don’t you head over to their website and check it out. You can subscribe to their newsletter and watch the beautiful stories of dogs they save week in and week out.  And while you are there, consider making a donation- big or small- they all help.

Thank you START for the amazing work you do to help animals, and sharing it with us in such a constructive and loving way.

 

 

My Book is Helping Rescued Beagles in Nevada

 

A few weeks ago I received a note from a company that had discovered my website and wanted to know how they might be able to participate in helping dogs find homes.

The company is called Royal Ramps and as you might guess, they make ramps for pets. (Not any old ramp. They are really well made. And they look nice too!)

I told them that I have dozens of animal shelters and rescue groups around the country that love “What to Expect When Adopting a Dog” and were itching to be able to give them to new dog parents.

The owner’s response? My dog is a rescue and we love supporting rescue and would love to donate a bunch! How do we get started?

Royal Ramps is located in Nevada and it made sense that they donate to an amazing organization in Nevada called Southern Nevada Beagle Rescue Foundation (SNBRF).

“Whatever puppies need, we want them to get it. Being a great pet parent is the most crucial thing to an animal’s well-being and Royal Ramps is proud to be able to donate What To Expect When Adopting a Dog to local Las Vegas rescues.” – Matthew Delaney, Royal Ramps

I told SNBRF that they would be receiving a shipment of books and they are super excited too.

I created a little sticker for the front of the book so that the new doggie parents get to see the Royal Ramps logo and know that the books were generously donated.

Here’s what SNBRF had to say:

“Everyone should read this book, it’s so packed with information that adoption is sure to lead to long term success with this in hand.”– Regina Harman, Southern Nevada Beagle Rescue Foundation

Here’s a little more about Royal Ramps: Our products tower in quality above our competitors thanks to our use of Industrial-Grade High-Density Extra Firm Foam which, although lightweight and easy to lift and move, is 50% denser than our competitors for the ultimate in durability and stability. The washable zip-on covers are made from 100% polyester micro-filament furniture-grade upholstery fabric which is impervious to stain. Our products are protected by US patent and all made in the USA.

And more about SNBRF: The mission of Southern Nevada Beagle Rescue Foundation is to rescue, foster, rehabilitate and place as many distressed beagles as possible.

You can, of course, learn more on their websites.

Thanks Matthew at Royal Ramps for your dedication to the wellbeing of dogs. And thank you, Regina at SNBRF for your giant heart and all the dogs whose lives you save.

A Puppy Party?

 

My Team Kindness website has an all stars page highlighting individuals or groups who have read the JJ books or participated in a Team Kindness program. While all of the photos are special, here’s why the one of Zoey reading to a service dog at the Boulder Library’s “Pages and Paws” program is special to me.

Zoey is the daughter of my college buddy, Rich, and we reconnected a few years ago via Facebook. We saw each other at a concert last year and again last week when my daughter and I were visiting colleges (wow, that went fast!) in Colorado.

Rich and his wife Nancy have been involved in animal rescue for years including working and volunteering at the SPCA in upstate New York. They have passed down their love of animals to Zoey as well as compassion toward all animals- not just pets.

While in Colorado, I got to meet Zoey in person! We had dinner together (nope- I totally forgot to get a photo) and she told me all about the birthday party she has planned.

She is turning 8 in a couple of weeks and is hosting a puppy party! But instead of having live puppies, each one of her attending friends will get their own stuffed doggy upon arrival. Each friend will go to “stations” where they will make a collar, an article of clothing and then decorate a carrier. When they leave, she will sign an adoption paper. How sweet!

Plus, as an added bonus, they will all go home with a copy of JJ The American Street Dog and How He Came to Live in Our House.

Thanks, Rich and Nancy for being great examples for the next generation. Zoey has a huge heart and you are helping to instill humane values in her and her friends. Sounds like an awesome party too. Have fun and Happy Birthday Zoey!

For more information about the JJ the American Street Dog books, click HERE. These books appeal to children five to nine years old with their colorful illustrations and engaging story. They follow the story of JJ, a dog who went from living on the street to living a happy life with a new family. The books teach that adopting a rescue animal is a win-win for everyone involved and help pet loving families teach their children about patience, consistency, kindness, responsibility and unconditional love – just some of the important values parents and educators endeavor to impart in school age children.

Baa Baa White Sheep Have you Any Wool?

 

I just celebrated a big birthday and my sister and brother wanted to find the perfect gift for me. What to get though? They know I love animals and they wanted to be creative, so they got me a sheep.

Wait, what? They got you a what? Yep- you read that correctly, a SHEEP!

No, she’s not grazing in my backyard- I live in Los Angeles with a postage stamp sized backyard and I have a drought tolerant garden. Hardly a proper grazing meadow for a sheep.

Rather, there is a co-op for farmers that supplement care of their flock through an organization called Rent Mother Nature. So I now am leasing a sheep for the spring. She will be sheared in April and I will receive a beautiful wool blanket in August!

I was a little concerned about the sheep’s welfare and I’m happy to report that Rent Mother Nature shared a little about how they care for their flock and how they carefully shear them.  They sent me the first of my three progress reports and I learned that my sheep lives in Oregon! The photo below is of a sheep from my flock (ok- I only have one sheep but still. This city girl is loving this!).

This breed of sheep is called Poll (hornless) Rambouillets and they are the finest merino. They originated in Spain, then France’s Louis XVI purchased 359 sheep from King Charles III of Spain in 1786 and they were first imported to the US in 1840. Interesting stuff! (If you want to learn more, email me and I’ll copy the letter they sent to me and share it with you.) I learned about their wool, their lambs and how well trained the folks are who do the shearing so that they don’t nick the delicate skin.

Around the same time that my sibs got me my very own sheep, my sister posted that she had helped out with some new lambs at a friend’s farm (photo above). How lucky is she! She lives in Vermont where there really is grass to graze so there’s no sheep rental for her. They get to have actual sheep.

And check out this incredible aerial video that was shared with me of sheep being herded in New Zealand.

If you look carefully, you can see the dogs doing the herding. They’re doing the job they are meant to do. Gorgeous on so many levels.

I’m thrilled and delighted about my sheep and can’t wait to get my next progress report.

Rent Mother Nature also offers cow leases, Date Palm tree leases, Peach tree leases and other options too. So if you are looking for a unique gift, check it out. Obviously, I’m excited about it and I’ll show you my blanket when I get it in August.