Donna over at BAD RAP has a great post called "the Ins and Outs of language for 2011"
I really like her quote: “Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.” - Benjamin Lee Whorf. I really like this short poem by 3x Pulitzer Prise winner Carl Sandburg, who lived in North Carolina from 1945-1967.
Look out how you use proud words.
When you let proud words go, it is
not easy to call them back.
They wear long boots, hard boots; they
walk off proud; they can't hear you calling—
Look out how you use proud words.
—Carl Sandburg, American poet and essayist, Primer Lesson, 1922
Mental illness affects 26.2 percent of Americans. "An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.1" One in four. That's a whole lotta people. Many neither seek nor get help. Not talk about it. The stigma attached to mental illness wears long hard boots.
So maybe we could think about changing some terms? Thanks to Donna for format.
Here's what Dr. Mary Lou Randour, Professional Outreach Coordinator, Animal Cruelty and Fighting Campaign, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has to say: “Hoarding is a seeking of security by controlling.” Here's what the APA has to say: "D. The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (including maintaining a safe environment for self and others)."
"An animal hoarder acquires a large number of animals, then fails to provide them with sufficient food, water, exercise, space and veterinary care. A hoarder is always in denial about her/his inability to provide adequate care, even when the bodies of dead animals surround her."
WHO World Health Organization director- general Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland: "Mental illness is not a personal failure. If there is a failure it is to be found in the way we have responded to people with mental and brain disorders."
A very special thanks to Catherine Coulter for letting pit bulls come to 300 East.
A very special thanks to poet Chuck Sullivan for his 2009 and 2010 Christmas poem
with the repeating refrain "sing hallelujah."
A very special thanks to NASHOBA. For teaching me.
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Make so mistake about this photograph. This is the face of a shelter dog being killed right now somewhere near you. Not being humanely euthanized by your veterinarian. Being destroyed. On a stainless steel table with a hand like this one restraining her. One of millions who are not so shut down and tired that they submit without a struggle to the moment the death needle enters. This is the face of a dog living fear and terror and pain. I do not know her name. The name of the dog in the photograph. I do know that no pre-euthanasia anesthetic was given to relax her, quickly take her to blessed sleep before the death needle entered. Take a good look. 'Are you in or are you out?' Use your voice or stay silent. Stop the oh this is so sad babble. Let the killing go on or use you voice. Start here. Southern lady way more together than I said "I *try* not to spend too much energy grieving for the ones I can't save and direct my efforts toward saving the ones still out there, in honor of Roxy and those like her." Wise words. Words to remember. Always. I wish on this Monday morning before Thanks giving I could heed her words. But sometimes grief comes on like a July thunderstorm with a sharp relentless keening for the lives lost. One voice counts. I'm in. Where are you?
Roxy. Her name was Roxy. Her story is in the post below.
"Inconvenient euthanasia, embattled shelters, and one especially tragic case to consider" By Dr. Patty Khuly @ Fully Vetted.
NOV 22, 2010 (4) comments
Last Sunday I received a vituperative message lambasting my area’s municipal animal services division for euthanizing healthy pets. The message sender alleged that many pets never got a chance to receive a health and temperament test before they were summarily executed.
Why? Because their owners had surrendered them due to poor health and were asked to sign legally binding documents effectively mandating their euthanasia.
Here’s the first half of the letter:
Miami-Dade County Animal Services (MDAS) routinely kills all dogs and cats only because their owners sign euthanasia request forms. Animal Services doesn't require veterinarians to examine these animals, so there is no way for anyone to really know if the animals being killed are healthy, incurably ill, or aren't in any pain at all. Recently, Roxy, a starved dog who gave her all to nurse her puppies, was killed after her owner signed a euthanasia request. She could have been sent to a rescue group or adopted by an individual. Although adoption rates have increased at the shelter, they could be even higher if animals with euthanasia requests who were healthy or had treatable conditions were given a chance to be rescued or adopted.
When the animals have no euthanasia requests, Animal Services' rules require that sick and injured strays and animals surrendered by their owners be given "treatment plans." These animals must be examined by a veterinarian and may be given immediate treatment. They can be sent to rescues for medical fostering. In contrast, Animal Services regularly kills dog and cat surrenders with euthanasia requests who may be adoptable.
The letter goes on to explain that MDAS is working on changing its euthanasia request forms so that the department reserves the right NOT to euthanize animals that can be treated and potentially adopted.
But at the crux of this issue is not so much the intake form for animals whose euthanasia is requested. What I’ve gleaned from requesting more information from Dr. Sara Pizano (Director at MDAS), and after querying some additional interested parties, is that this issue arose more over differences in philosophy with respect to animal suffering than with any flak over specific policies and procedures.
Because when twenty healthy animals enter and one flat pet follows, who is to say whether a shelter that kills healthy pets every day should expend the community's resources preferentially on the ill?
When is an animal so ill or moribund that its condition merits euthanasia? How sick was Roxy, really? Could she have been saved? Do we have a moral obligation to commit shelter resources to each and every ailing animal as long as an adopter or rescue facility is willing to accept responsibility? Where does the shelter pull the trigger (forgive the mental imagery) given the stickiness of a complex, dying-animal intake relative to the typically tricky third party commitment process?
By some accounts this dog was at death’s door — not the simply over-nursed specimen the message describes. And if this extreme, near-death circumstance was indeed the case, what would YOU have done?
Could my municipal shelter be doing things better? Absolutely. Dr. Pizano freely admits to the fact that it has a long way to go. This admission comes in spite of an unprecedented uptick in adoption rates since the beginning of her tenure.
And sure, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been way critical of MDAS’s leadership at times (reference its support for the pit bull ban and its public euthanasia of one healthy pup). But could I do a better job? I wouldn’t last a week. Not if I truly felt I was working at my most frenetic fever pitch and knew that my detractors (and there would be many, to be sure) were out for blood.
But make no mistake, I'm no blanket euthanasia apologist. Consider the case of Target the war veteran. It was reported that he was "mistakenly" euthanized last week after he'd escaped his yard and ended up at the municipal shelter, where procedures were not followed and the wrong dog got the drugs.
Shockingly sad. And not so much a cautionary tale about keeping your dogs secure as one that underscores how shelters will continue to euthanize healthy animals until we adopt broad policy changes and commit to no-kill solutions.
Whether we're talking about the Roxys or the Targets of the world, shelters will continue to come under fire. But it seems to me that in some cases shelters deserve more of a pass. Though I will grant that intelligent people may disagree. What's your take?
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Homer aka Homie is still looking for Kansas. He told me yesterday he doesn’t understand why no one wants to give him a home. I told him to be patient. Sometimes the very best things take a very long time to come. “I know," he said. But it’s been over a year now.” "Someone will come for you very soon, Homie. Promise." Please contact Samantha t 310-403-8261 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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"I do not know how he made it to our house. We live about 1/2 mile off the paved surface road. He had to cross a creek, fences etc., to get here." *
He was found in Rockingham County NC, near Pittsylvania Co VA. Steve sent the email below to a NASCAR official, who sent to a friend in Stokes County, NC. The email thread ricocheted through county after county, hitting states up and down the East Coast.
On 9/26/2010 1:20 PM, Steve Chatham wrote:
Hey everyone -
Our dogs went crazy this morning barking at something in the shed. It ended up being a dog taking refuge in a plastic trash can that was out
in the shed.
It's a male, do not know how old. I finally coaxed him out, and he has some pretty traumatic facial injuries. I have not been able to get my hands on him yet, so I do not know his temperament or anything about him. I gave him some food & water. He's taken some water but no food yet. He needs though, to have medical attention and a place to foster him.
We just rescued one a couple weeks ago, and do not have any place we can keep him, or keep the other dogs off him. Can someone help?
This isn't just something you see about Michael Vick's dogs, or something that you see on TV, this is REAL. He's in my yard now. I cannot imagine the emptiness of the soul of someone who calls themselves a human & does this - or allows this to be done to - an animal.
Please help if you can.
As is many times the case, the person who initially gave this dog shelter found someone to take him him by advocating directly with a rescue. He didn't wait for someone else to solve the 'problem.'
* "But, he did make it here, and Angels of Assisi agreed to take him almost immediately. My contact there said that he's a tough guy, and that he's got a tremendous will to live." Steve
"In the middle of the Bedford rescue yesterday, a kind volunteer named Steve brought us this brave little dog, now named Trooper. All 32 pounds of him are covered in puncture wounds, abrasions, and skin infections. I f you can look past the awfulness of what happened to him, you will find some very trusting eyes and a will to get better. Although he had to be carried from the car, he tried with all his might to stand up for us.
Dr. Kelly Farrell, who is visiting the area on vacation, spent 3 hours working on Trooper yesterday. He spent the night sedated and will be on IV's for a while. The sheriff and animal control have been notified, and we hope they can find whoever let this happen.
Thank you, Steve, for having a big ole' heart, and saving Trooper. And Dr, Farrell, you have always been special to us, and we appreciate you more than words can say."
November 10, 2010 - Update on Trouper — a new level "While his wounds continue to improve, there was one place under his jaw that was not healing. The good folks at Big Lick Veterinary Services took him back for another surgery, and found this, a bullet fragment."
"A brown dog sits in a field. There's a collar around her neck. It's three inches thick and attached to a heavy chain, which clips unto a car axle that's buried so one end sticks out of the ground. As the dog paces in the heat, the axle spins, ensuring that the rattling chain won't become entangled."
"The dog paces a lot, wearing a circle in the scrubby weeds and sandy soil around the perimeter of the axle. She paces because there's little else to do. Sometimes a squirrel or a rabbit or a snake crosses nearby and she barks and chases it, or she lunges and leaps after the dragonflies and butterflies that zip and flutter past."
"She flicks her tail at mosquitoes and buries her muzzle in her fur, chewing at the itchy crawly things that land on her. If she's lucky she digs up a rock that she can bat around and chew on, but otherwise there are just the weeds and the bugs and the hot sun inching across the sky."
"She is not alone. Other dogs are spread around this clearing in the trees. They can see one another, hear one another bark and whine and growl, but they can't get to one another. They can't run they can't play, they can't anything. They can get close to their immediate neighbors, stand almost face-to-face, but they can never touch, a planned positioning meant to frustrate and enrage them. For some it does; for many it simply makes them sad."
Fast forward to now. Today. You can meet Jim Gorant on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show on September 27, 11 am EST.
My name is JERRY. I have bounced twice. Bounced is an old time word in rescue that means someone sent you back. It's kind of a nicer way of saying you were returned because you didn't work out. You can see more pictures of me here. I suppose I'm really not a seriously hard luck guy because now I'm back with my first foster Dad Bob. I really like him so much. He gives me lots of time and respect and understands the things that make me nervous. I really don't like when people I don't know come towards me and try to pet my head as if to say good boy, good dog. I'm not sure why this is such a bad thing? From my point of view it's just bad manners to get in someone's space without even so much as a good morning, how are you? I also don't like it when a human uses a mean voice with me. I remember from before — when I heard a mean voice — bad things happened. So when I hear a certain tone I get defensive, and like any other dog I have to let you know I really don't want you to come any closer. I don't understand why no one except Bob understands it's important to growl and give warning. Because all I'm really saying is I need more time. And space. You guys call it respect. That's what the other dogs give me. It's not such a difficult request, is it? It's not that I'm not happy here. My foster parents are super neat and I love them. But I know my rescue family thinks I need a special kind of home because I'm difficult. I'm not really. I've just bounced twice. So it's kinda hard for me to trust. You know what I mean? I do want a real home. Sometimes it makes me sad to think there are other guys waiting for my place here, to learn how to be a member of the pack — that I'm holding them up. I'm really a very good dog. If you'd like to meet me, or find out more about me, would you please talk to Bonnie Thorpe? She's the Adoption Coordinator for Carolina Basset Hound Rescue. BonnieThorpe@aol.com 864-906-0650 Love, JERRY
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Thank you Elaine Parker at The Yoga Oasis in Charlotte. For who you are and what you give — in love and word and every vital precious moment of teaching and caring. Yin Yoga. Takes you back to the center of everything. Through that stillness. NamasteSphere: Related Content
Edna Cooper was a mentor, an encourager, and a teacher in my life. But much more than that, Edna Cooper was my friend. She was, and her memory will continue to be, a unique and very special gift of God’s grace, not only my life, but in the life of my family. Little did we know when we moved across the street from her some 18 years ago, with one toddler in tow and another one on the way, the many ways that Edna would grace our family. She not only became a surrogate mother for this oft befuddled young wife and mom, but she became the “in-town” grandmother to my two daughters, rarely missing a ballet performance, a piano recital, even a soccer game or two.
But most of you in this room today are undoubtedly not surprised to learn of this grace that so permeated Edna’s life. That is how you knew her. That is how you experienced Edna. You all were her friends in Sunday School; her walking partners, her bridge buddies, her DAR peers, and some of you perhaps go way back, sharing her child--rearing days. I would even imagine that many of you have received, as we did, one of her famous chess pies that showed up on our back doorstep not more than 12 hours after we moved in across the street. You understand what I mean when I say that Edna not only spoke the language of love, she lived it.
If you knew Edna very well you know that she loved all of God’s creation…flowers, animals and especially birds. She was an avid bird-watcher…..and loved birds of all varieties. Her home was full of bird books, bird figures, she even had a bird clock that sang every hour! In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us that birds are great teachers……He says “Look at the birds in the sky” (Matthew 6.26)....and the word “look “ there is really a verb that is saying more than just view, rather it means……consider, take notice, look at with insight, behold. I think sweet Edna took this imperative instruction of Jesus to heart, and in the simple gift of birds, her life and legacy was shaped.
Birds are great teachers. Birds teach us about faith. Scripture says, “Birds do not sow and reap and store in barns, they depend rather, on their Heavenly Father to feed them.” I do not have to stand up her and tell you that Edna was a woman of great faith. You know that. A Depression–era child she faced challenge and hardship head on throughout all of her life, beginning with her childhood experience of 8 siblings being separated in order to survive. Edna’s faith in the living God was real by life experience and transformative in who she was as a person. An active member of the Fellowship Sunday School class for 56 years, she loved to not only study Scripture, but put it into practice in radical hospitality and gracious living. A nurse for many years, her compassion and caring was one of the vessels in which she shared God’s love. It was Edna’s faith that drew me to her. We often shared about different struggles in our lives, and most often these discussions would end with reflecting on God and God’s goodness…..on God’s provision and presence…..and that was enough to encourage both of us to carry on. I am grateful for the faith that Edna lived and for the faith that she shared. Birds also teach us about hope. Each time I see a bird fly so effortlessly in the air, each time I hear the joy in the song of a lark, God’s Holy Spirit reminds me of the hope we have in Him. We however, often use the word “hope” when we want something to happen, but have little assurance that it will. I hope Tiger will win. I hope the stock market will change. I hope I will not be sick. Hope understood this way is often filled with uncertainty and implausibility. Christian hope is different. Though life might be hard now, in time God, who is the source of hope, is at work renewing and reconciling all things unto him. This hope is based not on uncertainty, but on the trustworthiness and love of God. Throughout her life, as Edna experienced the strength and the freedom and the joy that God provided, she learned to place her hope in Him, and Edna was enabled to soar over each difficulty. The prophet Isaiah says “The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Edna was one such person who waited patiently, whose hope was in the Lord, who discovered the joy of life with God and His creation, who walked and did not faint. Because He lives, Edna could always face tomorrow. I am grateful for the gift of hope in Edna’s life and the hope that she shared with others.
Birds teach us faith…and hope…. and birds teach us about love. Although not human love, birds by nature teach us about family and about the sacrifice and the necessary strength that is involved in the love of family. Birds feed together, roost together…fly together. As a young woman, Edna tragically lost her first husband, her love, Jack, and was left to raise two young children as a widow in the 1960’s….not an easy task. She faced this loss with strength and grace, doing her very best to love and provide, in her own time of grief, whatever it took to raise and nurture her own two children. You who have walked with Edna in this life know this gentle strength and this strong grace that defined her love for her children. You have been witness to it as she has loved and cared for Samantha and John over these many years. She would sometimes confide to me over a salad at Harpers that she didn’t feel she had done enough for them or that she had not been as good as a mother as she could have. But on this day, let me remind you Samantha and John, of how very much Edna loved you, how very committed she was to you, and how much she sacrificed that you might know the depth and the strength and the genuineness of her love.
And not only did she love her own, she was a mother to her niece Sue who lost her mother, Edna’s sister, early in life. She graciously invited Sue and her family into the family nest, sharing the table, always generous in love. I think I am most grateful for the gift of love in Edna’s life and what she taught me about loving another.
Edna had a long and fruitful life….94 years… She was a woman of unswerving words and great strength. In jest I would sometimes call her the “tough old bird.” She was not afraid to talk about death. She was not afraid to die, to go home and be once again with her Creator. Jesus reminds us in Scripture that not a single sparrow falls without our Heavenly Father’s knowledge. The song that Edna chose for us to sing today speaks of this promise…In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity; In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity, In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory, Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see. Let us remember that Edna is more alive now in God’s loving presence, than she ever was on this earth.
I find it significant that Edna’s most favorite bird was the cardinal. Its bright, vivid red color enriches our world. Its company and song brings life to all who encounter it. Bird watchers say a cardinal’s presence reflects a time for us to renew our vitality. The female cardinal has a unique loud and clear whistle…a reminder to listen closely…As we remember with love, …our friend Edna, this day…..May we look for that vitality and listen for that whistle and song and be reminded of the gifts of Edna Cooper’s life… the faith, the hope, and the love that she so graciously chose to share and to give to each of us. Amen.
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You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round... The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours... Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Black Elk Oglala Sioux Holy Man
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They say ev’rything can be replaced Yet ev’ry distance is not near So I remember ev’ry face Of ev’ry man who put me here I see my light come shining From the west unto the east Any day now, any day now I shall be released
They say ev’ry man needs protection They say ev’ry man must fall Yet I swear I see my reflection Some place so high above this wall I see my light come shining From the west unto the east Any day now, any day now I shall be released
Standing next to me in this lonely crowd Is a man who swears he’s not to blame All day long I hear him shout so loud Crying out that he was framed I see my light come shining From the west unto the east Any day now, any day now I shall be released
Music so grand and so sweet in the background. Music. Always there to catch us when we fall.
Catherine Coulter owns 300 East in Charlotte, North Carolina has been in business for 25 years. Almost as long as Mirabelle on Sunset Cathy is a nurturer. Can't help herself. Helps people. All kinds of people. Musicians. Artists. Dancers. Mothers with too many children who don't even know they need help. Cathy also helped Obama in North Carolina, hosted the Obama guys when they were in town for about a month or so before the election. And of course she helps dogs. All kinds of dogs. And people who help dogs. Now she is helping the Pit Bulls. FAMILY TAP is at 300 East every Saturday. Or Sunday. Depending on the weather.
Donna Reynolds and her husband Tim Racer run BAD RAP. Donna is just about the smartest woman I've every met. Think Gretchen Wyler meets Annie Oakley. Gretchen founded the Genesis Awards a gazillion years ago. Annie Oakley was a legend. Enough said. Donna was there on the ground at the Michael Vick property when the feds went in. She was there on the ground in Kay County Oklahoma. Woman strong. Chop firewood. Carry water. Donna's also a poet. And a very wise person. She taught me about family. "Family is more than blood," she told me. About a year ago, after Edna died.
Laura Watts is an absoflippinglutely amazing sounding board and encyclopedic source of information on dogs medical, dogs behavioral and relationship based training. Her day gig is running Pineville Pet Quarters. No place in the greater Charlotte area takes better care of dogs. Full stop. Laura is also a trainer. But a trainer who is a behaviorist first, trainer second. She's right up there with Turid Rugaas. Her pack of Huskies — one or two of her guys have placed nationally in AKC agility invitationals — is poetry in motion. She also has a Dobenamed FUSION and a little red Dobe who happens to be blind and an achondroplastic dwarf named MARCO POLO. MARCO high-steps like a horse and is so endearing you can actually overlook the fact that given half a chance he will eat your finger if you give him a Charlee Bear. Laura worked as a vet tech for 20+ years in a 24/7 emergency veterinary hospital. Knows more about dogs than anyone I know except for Dr. John Winters. Sigh. Dr. Winters. I do love you.
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What happened to the dog FOUNDER is graphic. Shelly of Double Dog Rescue South tells his story. FOUNDER is in Mississippi now. There are thousands of dogs like FOUNDER. And hundreds of thousands of foot soldiers helping dogs like FOUNDER. True believers who walk their talk. Stand up guys.
The Old Man and The Dog.
"My cousin works in downtown Memphis, TN in a horrible area. This old man comes to his work everyday to dig through the dumpsters looking for scrap metal to sell. This sweet dog followed this man everywhere."
"The dog was a stray that just took up with this old man. The man walks most places and my cousin would watch this man walk in the center of the median in the road and this dog followed him everywhere. No one else could touch the dog."
"One day not long ago, the old man came to my cousin's work and the dog was not with him. My cousin asked where the dog was and the man started crying and told my cousin that one of the drunk neighbors a few doors down severely beat the dog with a tire iron. This evil, spawn of Satan snatched him out from under the old man's house and held him and beat the crap out of him with the tire iron."
"My cousin said the old man can barely afford to feed his family. The old man said the dog was his best friend, but he knew that he could not pay for a vet and it was not safe around his area for him."
"My cousin called me and I said bring him to me. So here we are."
"Founder is heartworm positive as well, he had to have a blood transfusion also. Once he gets better we will treat him for heart worms and get him neutered."
"We need to raise about $1000 to help cover Founder's medical costs-- any and all donations are so appreciated!!"
"Founder had emergency surgery to repair the damage to both his back legs and is recovering at the Snowden Grove Animal Hospital."
FOUNDER donations: Credit card donations can be called in to Snowden Grove Animal Hospital 662-536-1916. Snail Mail: Snowden Grove Animal Hospital, 5165 Getwell Rd, Southaven, MS 38671.
"Despite his unthinkable ordeal- he is such a sweet, loving boy and will continue to get the care and love he needs for as long as it takes. THIS, folks, THIS IS THE FACE OF RESCUE!!"
Tonia: 901-340-2866 email@example.com
Snowden Grove Animal Hospital: 662-536-1916
Thousands of true believers walking their talk save four-legged lives 24/7 365. They believe in stubborn hope. Thank you Donna. “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.” - Anne LamottSphere: Related Content
This little guy already has a new home. Props to you guys. Honored to know you.
"Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle. The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were."
"The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our teepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation's hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children."
Last Sunday, Easter morning — the Rose of Sharon bush in my front yard was magically and thankfully very different. I had thought it was dead. Worried that the weed killer Herman put around the base so the pine needles Barbara gave me could cover the ground during the winter had killed her. But no, she was not dead. Overnight and unexpectedly she stretched, yawned, and sprouted tiny green buds. Also overnight or at least it seemed that way to me Wisteria exploded with the wild abandon of Coonhound puppies frolicking in Monkey Grass. Grand unabashedly romantic lavender cascades. Everywhere. Soft but oh so very fierce bursts of undeniable poetry in this urban landscape. At the not so historic end of Wesley Heights, north of Uptown Charlotte. Fort Apache Five Points Fire Station on Wesley Heights Way and Walnut. My friends, the Firemen. Jesus Saves building next door, reaching to the corner of Wesley Heights Way and Duckworth. Tuckaseegee Road three blocks down, the extension of the street where I live.
I'd been thinking a lot about the miracle of Wisteria that week after Easter. And then on Friday I started thinking about Marvin Gaye. Cranked the CD all the way up as I drove to Pineville and then back to Charlotte from Best Friends, after leaving EMILY in the uber capable and compassionate hands of the staff there. These guys give new meaning to the words customer service. Props to Julie and Kyrsten on running a top notch boarding facility and day camp. And for helping the rescue community in ways that go way above and beyond. I headed back to Nicole Pennell's Dogtopia — Nicole very generously provided a week of safe haven and much needed rest and sunlight in the spa room to NASHOBA, whose neuter surgery went a tad askew. (Dogtopia had their grand opening party on Saturday. Couldn't be there as FAMILY TAP was at 300 East, but word on the street is high fives.)
Driving back to Charlotte as day ended and night began I said thank you to Grandmother Earth and Grandfather Sky for putting music on this earth. As I hit I-77 North to get back to Dogtopia and then home What's Going On seemed real appropriate. We miss you Marvin, but you are still here with us. Just like Edna. What's Going On Mother, mother There's too many of you crying Brother, brother, brother There's far too many of you dying You know we've got to find a way To bring some lovin' here today Father, father We don't need to escalate War is not the answer For only love can conquer hate You know you've got to find a way To bring some understanding yeah today Aw, picket lines, picket signs Don't punish me with brutality Talk to me so you can see Oh what's going on, Tell me what's going on Mother, mother Ev'ry body thinks we're wrong Baby who are they to judge us 'Cause our hair is long You know we've got to find a way To bring some understanding here today Good God
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NASHOBA means Red Wolf in Choctaw. He's a Pit Bull mixed with Carolina Dog, also known as the American Dingo, and who knows what else. NASHOBA lived on the mean streets in North Charlotte, started sleeping in a dilapidated van on the salvage yard property of B & B Used Auto Parts. One of the workers looked out for him and fed him, but after a few days the owners said "he's gotta go." Jason and Darlene didn't want to see him go to animal control. He would have been euthanized. Life is not real good for the Pit Bulls in Charlotte, NC. Unless they end up at the Humane Society of Charlotte, which cares for, rescues and adopts out Pit Bulls. On March 3rd FAMILY TAP got an email from Maureen Mahood of RescuedMe on asking if we could help this guy. On this day — which is called Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Good Friday, the Thursday before Easter — one year ago my Mom died. Edna was a true believer. She believed in helping people. Disabled veterans, the blind, families who can't feed their children, those who are homeless, Native American children who need help in learning, organizations that protect and defend wildlife and the earth — I suspect those she did for me, though we never talked about it. Edna walked in love every day of her life. I just hope that in my own charred perch kind of way I honor her. By helping guys like NASHOBA. Who has a mouth as soft as a gun dog and loves to throw his big paws around my neck and dance. Yep. He knows how to dance. Might as well be wild. Doesn't Talk Dog and doesn't understand what other four-leggeds are. No social skills and -- umm -- certainly no manners just yet. But he deserves a chance at life. I love you NASHOBA. And I love you Edna. Every day, every breath.
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"When we speak of "mitakuye oyasin" [all my relatives], we know always that the growing and moving things of the earth, the winged, the four-legged, and the two legged are all children of the earth and they, too, want to live. So we say mitakuye oyasin." Black Elk
"Today, The HSUS and Best Friends issued a joint statement as a follow-up to the meeting:"
Animal Welfare Groups Announce New Collaboration to Save Pit Bulls
"Best Friends Animal Society and The Humane Society of the United States announced that a summit meeting held this week in Las Vegas to discuss the disposition of dogs seized from dogfighting operations has led to a coalition of groups working together to help the canine victims of organized violence."
"Among the outcomes of the meeting:"
"* The HSUS has a new policy of recommending that all dogs seized from fighting operations be professionally evaluated, according to agreed upon standards, to determine whether they are suitable candidates for adoption. Dogs deemed suitable for placement should be offered as appropriate to adopters or to approved rescue organizations. The HSUS will update its law enforcement training manual and other materials to reflect this change in policy."
"* The groups agree that all dogs should be treated as individuals, and they are the true victims of this organized crime. They also agree to support law enforcement and animal control agencies when decisions must be made regarding the dogs deemed unsuitable for adoption and in cases when rescue organizations and adopters are unable, within a reasonable timeframe, to accept dogs from such raids that have been offered for adoption."
"* The organizations will form a working group to develop future protocols for cooperation in addressing the needs of dogs seized in raids, such as how to assist with the housing of fighting dogs, how to conduct professional evaluations, and how to screen potential adopters."
"The summit meeting was convened to address the matter of dogs seized as a result of cruelty investigations, particularly due to the increase in HSUS-led enforcement actions against dogfighters. Participants at the meeting included Best Friends Animal Society, The Humane Society of the United States, BAD RAP, ASPCA, National Animal Control Association, Maddie’s Fund, Nevada Humane Society, and Spartanburg Humane Society."
SAVANNA lived in love. A yellow Lab 14 ½ years of age she wandered from home and suffered a tragic accident. Great Spirit has welcomed her. Grandmother Earth and Grandfather Sky guided her on her journey. Praying Great Spirit will guide Tim and Beth to help the state of North Carolina take the final steps on a lamentably long journey. A journey to the end of gassing animals in this state.
SAVANNA lived her final years on a small farm in Davie County North Carolina. Green grasses, red clay and honeysuckle night air in the spring and summer. Warm nights and cold nights she slept in a home with people who respected and cherished her. She lived in love. SAVANNA suffered from canine dementia — “She would get up and wander around the house, and then stand in corners….and would seem to be confused in familiar surroundings…Although Savanna was now 14 ½ years old and we had to help her up and down stairs she still showed her spry spirit when she would try to “prance” back to the house. She was such a proud dog.”
SAVANNA wandered off the Robertson farm on Sunday January 31, 2010. As her owners searched for her on the second day they learned a neighbor had found SAVANNA lying in a ditch of water, barely able to get up. The neighbor called Davie County Animal Control thinking they would give her medical assistance. Davie County Animal Control did not try to find SAVANNA's owner. They did not consult a veterinarian as to her condition. She was not held 72 hours. She was not held 72 minutes. A member of the staff at Davie County Animal Control rolled a confused and frightened SAVANNA into the gas chamber. Elderly dogs do not always die within 33 minutes of gassing. It takes 33 minutes to kill an animal by gassing. An elderly dog may need to be gassed twice. Some may remember what happened to another dog in Davie County North Carolina. And Davie’s Law. Which did not pass. Here is the story of SAVANNA. Her life and her death. In Tim Robertson’s words.
My Dog Savanna’s Last Day 2-1-10
This is the story of my dog Savanna, a yellow Labrador Retriever. My first wife Hope and I had just built a house and we realized we needed a pet. We talked about getting a dog after we met my neighbor’s black Lab Raven. I had always loved the Labrador breed. I was fascinated with their ability to retrieve, swim and how loving they were to humans. Hope fell in love with the breed because of Raven.
We decided we were going to get 2 labs so the puppies would have a companion. We started looking at litters and we got our first puppy, a black lab which we named Precocious. Then we went and looked at a litter of 8 puppies, so young that their eyes weren’t even open yet. There was a yellow puppy that when I would put her in the middle of the litter she would wiggle her way back to me time and again. So we decided that this was the puppy for us. Well, I guess you could say that she decided that she was the puppy for us. We named her Savanna.
We brought Savanna home 6 weeks later and introduced her to her new sister Precious, who we had brought home 2 weeks earlier. We also introduced her to our neighbor’s 12 year old lab Raven, who became known as Grand Ma Raven. Raven’s mother instinct kicked right in and she took to the puppies right off. She would come and “baby sit” the girls while we were at work. Raven had had 2 litters, and seeing her with the girls we knew she had been a good mom. I guess being around the pups brought back memories to the old girl. Our neighbors would laugh and say ‘Raven is never home any more now that you have the puppies.’
It’s kind of funny how the puppies each took to us. Savanna took to me stronger and Precocious took to Hope. From the day we brought Savanna home she never wandered far from my side. Savanna was always going after my affection and never stopped learning ways to please me. I became Savanna’s Dad, companion, and I like to think her soul mate. She was a fast learner, and I had her retrieving my morning newspaper and golf balls when I was practicing my swing in the back yard after only working with her for about an hour. Every morning when I got out of bed she would beat me to the front door so she could go get my paper. Savanna never got tired of treats. Savanna and Precocious became the children I never had.
Savanna and Precocious became inseparable and close sisters, but they were as different as night and day. Savanna was always loving, affectionate and stayed close to home, where Precocious had more of an independent spirit and always wanted to explore her surroundings. Precocious’ inquisitive nature got the best of her one day 6 years later when she was hit by a car and had to be put down, during the time Hope and I were going through a divorce.
When Savanna lost her sister I was faced with Savanna having to go thru a grieving period for her. I made the quick decision to bring Savanna into the house with me to live full time. She never showed any signs of grief after losing her sister. I guess to her getting to move into the house and sleeping in the same bed with me helped her adjust to Precocious not being around anymore. From that point on Savanna and I were on our own.
Hope and I divorced, agreed to sell the house and that I would take Savanna. Savanna and I moved into an apartment and I wondered how she would adjust to apartment life after living in a house in the country. She adjusted quickly to her new surroundings as long as I was with her. For the first few weeks after moving into the apartment I would take Savanna with me to work.
We lived in our apartment for 1 year until I met Beth, who I fell in love with at first sight. When she met Savanna they took to each other right away. One Saturday Beth needed to go back to her house to get something and wanted to take Savanna with her. Savanna loved to go riding, but I knew there was no way she would get into that Jeep unless I was going too. I was wrong. Beth opened the Jeep door and asked Savanna if she wanted to go for a ride and Savanna didn’t’ think twice. She jumped in and up the drive they went, with Savanna wagging her tail and looking back at me as if saying ‘I will see you later.’ I knew at that point that Savanna had found her new mommy.
We moved from the apartment to a small farm house in Davie County, where we lived for the next year. Savanna adjusted well again and loved having a big yard to play in again. I asked Beth to marry me and we started looking for a house to live in together and become a family. We included Savanna in everything we did. We took her to the beach several times, the mountains, for drives, and camping trips after we got a camper. Savanna loved to go camping and learned to understand that a trip was coming when we were loading things into the camper during the week before. And she would get hyper. Nothing got by her.
Time continued to go by with each passing day. The seasons came and went and I noticed I was becoming grayer and Savanna’s muzzle was getting gray too. We were both growing older and we had traveled a lot of roads together in 14 ½ years. We knew Savanna was starting her final chapter of life. The time I had dreaded for years. (I have never understood why some animals will live to be 100 years old and animals such as Dogs and Cats only live around 15 years.)
Savanna began slowing down in the summer of 2007. She started to get arthritis and we had to pick her up to get her in the camper. She had always had to watch her figure but now she was losing weight and muscle tone. She would get embarrassed when she had accidents in the house. Her eyesight was getting poor and her hearing was not what it had been. We took her to the vet for her annual vaccinations and exam and the vet told us that she had developed Canine Senility (which is common in a dog that is 14 ½ years old) when we described how she would get up and wander around the house and then stand in corners, and how she would seem to be confused in familiar surroundings.
Although Savanna was now 14 ½ years old and we had to help her up and down the stairs she still showed her spry spirit when she would try to “prance” back to the house. She was such a proud dog and there were times she would look at us and tell us through her eyes that she hated to be in the shape she was in and hated to be a burden to us. That was not the case, and we knew sometime in the near future she would let us know it was time to say good bye and it would be OK.
Here is where our story and Savanna’s life takes a tragic turn. On the early morning of January 31st we got a call telling us that my parents were being taken to the hospital via ambulance. I went to the hospital and Beth stayed home with the flu. That evening after I had returned home I helped Savanna outside to use the bathroom. My brother called and we were discussing our parent’s situation of the day. I went to get Savanna in and she was not at the front door, so I walked to the back door and she was not there. I got off the phone with my brother and Beth and I started looking for Savanna. She was not in the yard which she hadn’t left in months. Our neighbor across the street said he had seen Savanna earlier standing on his drive, and then saw her walking out in the yard between his house and our other neighbor’s yard.
We live in a small neighborhood of 7 houses and have 2 under construction. While we were looking for Savanna the neighbors joined in the search with flash lights and a golf cart. We searched the whole neighborhood, the woods around the neighborhood and in a field across the road. We finally had to give up because it had started to rain. Beth and I discussed that Savanna had probably wondered off to find a place to die away from us. So we went on to bed and tried to sleep. The next morning Beth said she was going back out to search some more when it got light. She searched from 7:30 – to around 9:00 in the rain but never found Savanna. I went to the hospital to check on my parents and then into the office to do some work for a couple of hours.
I came home around 12:00 and Beth said she had not had any luck finding Savanna, so I went out looking again. I combed every inch of the woods around the area where Savanna was last seen and a field across the road. While I was searching in the field Mr. Cole, the man who is building a house catty corner from us, asked if I was looking for a dog. I told him I was looking for an old yellow Lab that had been missing since last night. Mr. Cole said he had some bad news; he had found a yellow Lab that morning behind his house, lying in a ditch of water. He said she was still alive but she couldn’t stand up and it looked like she had been shot. When he described what he thought were gun shot wounds in her head we knew they were actually her warts and skin tacks. Savanna had a large wart on the right side of her head that was about the size of a fifty cent piece. This wart had a black scab that would bleed easily if the scab was knocked off. Mr. Cole said he didn’t know what to do with the dog, but he got a stick and helped her out of the ditch and then called the Humane Society. The Humane Society told him that he would need to call Animal Control.
I ran to the house and told Beth Savanna had been found alive and taken to the animal shelter. Beth grabbed a blanket and the phone book so we could call the shelter on our way there. When we called the shelter we actually reached dispatch and told them our situation. The dispatcher told us he would contact the dog warden and have him call us right back. We got to the shelter and looked around and still had not heard back from the dog warden. Beth called dispatch back and the dispatcher said he had spoken with the warden and told him to call us right away. We told the dispatcher that we were at the shelter and he said he would call the dog warden back and tell him we were there and to call us.
Finally the dog warden Mark Crater called us back. Beth asked him if he had picked up a yellow lab on Wagner Road that morning and he hesitated and said yes, he had picked up a dog off Wagner that morning. Beth asked him where our dog was and he didn’t reply. She had to ask again and he finally replied that he had had to put her down because she didn’t have any identification on and she had been shot and was suffering. Beth told him that she didn’t have on her collar because she never left the yard and she had lost so much weight that her collar would not stay on her. Beth also explained that she didn’t think Savanna had been shot because of the description of the spot Mr. Cole had told us about. When Beth asked him how he had put Savanna down Mr. Crater didn’t answer, and she had to ask again, and he finally said that he had gassed her. Beth asked him did he do this with someone else and he hesitated once again before saying no, the guy that worked with him was there when she was gassed. Mr. Crater would not tell us who the man was. Beth then asked where Savanna’s body was, that we wanted her body so we could have her cremated. Mr. Crater refused to answer and Beth had to ask again where her body was so we could get it. He said that was not possible. Beth asked why it was not possible to get our dog’s body and he finally said because he had already taken her to the dump. Beth asked Mr. Crater why they didn’t take the time to knock on the doors of the neighborhood to see if anyone knew who the dog belonged to before taking her and putting her down. He got a smart attitude and said the North Carolina law clearly states that if they pick up a dog that is sick or suffering they have to put her down. Mr. Crater never showed on ounce of sympathy to our situation, or any compassion.
Earlier in my story I told you about Savanna’s sister Precocious having to be put down due to injuries she got from being hit by a car. I had Precocious cremated and I have kept her ashes for the past 9 years so I could bury Precocious and Savanna together when Savanna’s life journey ended. The Davie County Animal Control officer put my Savanna down without me being able to say a proper good bye to her and he also made it impossible for me to bury my dogs together as I had always planned to do.
So now Savanna and my journey together have ended, but my new journey, the one to honor Savanna and all animals has just begun. I have many questions I want answered:
1. What exactly are the NC laws concerning Animal Control?
2. Why was a veterinarian not consulted prior to Savanna being put down?
3. Why wasn’t there an attempt to find Savanna’s owners?
4. Why wasn’t Savanna kept for at least 72 hours before putting her down?
These are just a few of the many questions we want answered.
I have been asking questions about the animal shelter and their procedures in handling animals they pick up. I’m finding more and more answers to how Savanna was put down. I have now been told that she was never gassed, but was not told how she was put down. Her body was not thrown into our local landfill, but thrown in a dumpster, taken to some landfill in a neighboring county. My fight is just beginning and I won’t stop until I get to the truth and hopefully stop this from happening to someone else’s loved pet. I own this to Savanna; she did not deserve to die this way.
Tim and Beth Robertson
The Follow-up since the Death
Since the passing of Savanna, we have been looking at information about NC Animal Shelter Laws in this state. We have been talking to citizens around the County and hearing a lot of disturbing stories about Animal Control. The Animal Shelter in Davie County is under funded and the Animal Control officers have to use other means of destroying animals then gassing. There is proof of carelessness of checking animals after being gassed to see if they are dead. I saw the story of a Dog named Davie that was found in a dumpster at the land fill in a trash bag with other dead Dogs and he was still alive. He was lucky and rescued by a couple who heard his cries for help.
I went to the County Humane adoption center to see if they could use Savanna’s dog food that we had left. The lady that I had spoken to on the day after Savanna was killed talked to me. She was compassionate and remembered my call; she told me that Mr. Cole the man who found Savanna and his wife had come by the center that Monday to check about Savanna. She told them what had happened and they broke down. The man was misinformed about what would happen to Savanna. He was under the impression she would be taken to get assistance and kept for 72 hours. He was in shock after hearing this news that they put Savanna down that same day. As the Humane Adoption Center lady and I talked about how Savanna was put down in a gas chamber she looked at me with this strange look as if to tell me something, and said she was not gassed. I could sense in talking to her and the other workers at the center they wanted to tell me some things, but had to be very careful. As I told her this was an awakening for me to get involved and to start turning over rocks to the truth of what happens, and what this Animal shelter is doing in this county, she encouraged me to keep going. At this time I have not been to get copies of records. I’m in the process of finding people who feel as I do to stop this madness. I contacted my State Legislator by E-mail requesting a time to meet and discuss my story; I have not heard back.
If anyone out there reads our story and can help and can guide us in the right direction, please contact us.
Tim and Beth Robertson
Timothy, I thank you for your message. Additionally, I certainly appreciate the concern you show for both human safety and the humane treatment of animals. The NCDA&CS, Veterinary Division – Animal Welfare Section has notified me that Davie County has passed the official Animal Welfare Inspection. The inspector for our county says we use predominately EBI but use CO for feral cats, wildlife (not AWA covered) and animals exposed to rabies or thought to have rabies. I appreciate the information you provided in your email. I will review those resources. You and I share the same feelings towards animals. Animals must be treated in manners which are both humane and ethical. Ill-treatment and animal cruelty should not persist. I assure you that I will continue to support productive legislative answers to addressing inhuman and cruel behaviors and practices. Timothy, when we are in session I send out a newsletter via email. I identify key legislation and I think it’s a great way for folks back at home to keep current on some important issues. Without your object, I am adding your email address to the distribution list. The General Assembly begins its short session on May 12th. Thanks again for your message. Kind regards,