I am thrilled to announce that my new campaign called “RED is for RESCUED” (Red4Rescued for short) has finally hit the streets and is reaching out to the rescue community!

Red4Rescued‘s purpose is to raise the general public’s awareness of rescued animals, and hopefully draw attention to the remaining six million homeless animals that are waiting every day to be loved. We’re asking “owners” (caretakers) of rescued pets to tie a red ribbon to their pet’s collar or leash, which will be visible to the public.   We want everyone to see just how many rescues there are already out there, and just how wonderful they are.   Unfortunately, there is still often a belief by some that if an animal was brought to a shelter or rescue, there must be something wrong with them. We all know that’s not true, but we also want to prove it. So the more red ribbons people see floating around on the streets, attached to already rescued animals, the more they will understand that rescued animals are wonderful and we are all part of an elite and proud club!   And there’s only one way to become a member!

With so many already homeless animals in the population, and more every day, it is time to STOP BREEDING and BUYING pets! I sincerely believe though that not enough people truly understand, or are even at all aware, of the severity and expanse of the situation. We’re hoping that the red ribbons will not only be a visual validation, but that it will be a conversation starter. That if someone tells you they’ve seen these red ribbons on a lot of pets, and asks you what the ribbon is for, you can tell them that it’s a way of letting people know that your wonderful pet was rescued and that there are over six million more (a low estimate, and just a little bit less than the entire human population of Missouri) waiting for homes. You can let them know, in your own way, that it is no longer cool (or acceptable) to be buying or breeding animals, that it’s about “snob appeal” and that’s also NOT cool, but what IS cool is helping an animal and becoming part of the solution instead of adding to the problem. You can tell them that every time another animal is born or bought, and animal that already needs a home will sit in a crate for who knows how much longer.   You can tell them that if the animals are in a city shelter they’re on death row and will more than likely, eventually, be walked to the “kill room”. And tell them that if they are buying puppies, whether from a breeder or a pet shop, the mother is most likely being used merely as a breeding machine with no regard by the OWNER to anything but money, and in many cases the breeding male and female are abused and highly neglected. You can tell them that there are also thousands of “backyard breeders”, as they are called, who tear the puppies away from their mothers and their litter at not more than a week or so old, just to turn a quick profit. It is a form of abuse to remove an animal from its mother before a minimum of six to 8 weeks. Animals removed before that often end up with behavioral issues which often cause them then to be neglected, abused and abandoned by the same humans who bought them.

Our rescued pets and homeless animals can’t speak for themselves, so we’re hoping that red ribbons and you will help speak for them. Of course you can use any red ribbon, but if you would like the official “Red is for Rescued!” imprinted ribbon and the accompanying logo card as seen here,  you can go to and fill out a contact form. We can work out the details by phone, for now. Every item on the site including the ribbons, cards, t-shirts, hoodies, iron-on transfers and car magnets (some not yet pictured on the site but I’m working on it) will be sold at my cost plus postage. This is not a money making venture, and any dollars received will be returned to the campaign to further the cause and help homeless animals. I’m looking forward to the day when there is a sea of red ribbons attached to rescued animals all over the country!

So go to the website to order, or put any red ribbon on your rescued pet and spread the word.   Either way, please, TIE ONE ON FOR HOMELESS ANIMALS! Woo-hoo!


5 Ways Thieves Could Steal Your Dog

There has been such a proliferation of stolen dogs lately that I thought it important to include an article about prevention.  Everywhere I go now I see heartbreaking fliers and posters made by people searching for their lost pets.  Although it’s true that some of them may actually have wandered off somehow, the fact that most of them seem to be small, pedigreed dogs makes me think that there is more going on.  Small pedigreed dogs bring a hefty price in the market, and it is a very LARGE market.  As noted in the article, there is also money to be made by selling animals to research labs, but the article doesn’t mention that there is also a market for cats.  Where your pet is concerned, like your children, be safe rather than sorry.  Have a look at this article from Care2 to learn how thieves work and how to keep them away from your pet:


Unsinkable Skylar

Reprinted from:
The Latest Mews!
August 23, 2016

People are good. The gray and white cat at the bottom of the dumpster never stopped believing that. Not when someone left him there in the trash, knowing he was too weak to jump out again. Not when they threw his meager possessions – a soiled bed and some cracked dishes – into the garbage with him. Not even when he grew hoarse and exhausted as he cried for help and the hours passed until he couldn’t call out anymore.

It was mid-morning on that late spring day when one of Neighborhood Cats’ staff drove up to the dumpster. She’d been feeding a feral colony behind a nearby supermarket and had a stack of paper dishes to discard. She leaned over the side, ready to toss the plates in – and froze. A pair of yellow eyes was looking back at her. In the instant before she could react she took in the telltale signs of long neglect: the filth matting the eyes, nose and coat, the barely concealed ribs, the pathetic, threadbare bed. In the still air she could hear the rattle of labored breathing.

The cat moved first. With an effort, he pushed himself to his feet and took a step forward. Then another. It didn’t matter that he was tired and sick. His yellow eyes were clear and calm and there in the trash in the parking lot, the battered cat had no doubt he was walking into the arms of a friend.

We spent weeks helping Skylar get well. He needed treatment for a severe respiratory infection and anemia. At one year old and four-and-a-half pounds, he was critically underweight and so his days were peppered with small meals and treats, fitted between naps.  As Skylar grew stronger he slept less and ate more and his personality began to sparkle. We learned he likes asparagus (just the tips), loves other cats and enjoys riding around on shoulders. Catnip toys don’t impress him much but feather wands do. He can unwind a whole roll of paper towels in less than a minute.

Skylar’s unsinkable spirit didn’t go unnoticed. His big heart captivated our friend Andy, founder of the rescue group Not Lost in Jersey City. One day last month Andy took Skylar home. Today, bursting with good health and good intentions, Skylar is always ready to lend a helping paw when Andy sits down to work. “He’ll climb on my shoulder, stand on the keyboard… whatever it takes,” Andy said with a smile. “I don’t know how I ever managed without him.”

Won’t you help us save more cats in need like Skylar? Your gift will make this possible.

Footnote from Kathy:  Neighborhood Cats is a wonderful organization that taught me and thousands of others the art of “TNR” or Trap, Neuter, Return.  TNR finds and traps abandoned and feral cats living on the streets.  After the cats are trapped by any of the thousands of TNR Certified volunteers, they are brought to various facilities to be spayed or neutered, allowed a few days of rest and healing, and then returned to their original spots.  Often, if cats are friendly enough, Neighborhood Cats finds new GOOD homes for them.  Any cats that are found are cared for for the rest of their days.  If you know of some homeless cats living without true homes, please look into TNR certification through Neighborhood Cats (it’s one inexpensive class).  It will allow you access to traps, onsite shelters and a library of information, as well as a network of other volunteers.  In addition, TNR of course decreases the population of homeless cats by preventing them from any further reproduction.  Like they say, if you’re feeding cats but not spay/neutering cats, you are BREEDING cats.  Please also consider making a donation to Neighborhood Cats.  Even a small amount is greatly appreciated, and greatly needed.  Thanks!


If you haven’t already figured it out, this is entire blog is not a feel good, walk in the sunshine kind of blog.  There are many wonderful blogs like that, many of them having to do with the bright side of the lives of animals, and I encourage you to find them.  For me though,  the point of this whole thing is to bring attention to the other animals, the ones whose lives have been less than ideal at best, and living horror stories at worst.  Every time I write a piece, I pray that the right people will see it.  Not the ones who already love and appreciate animals, but the ones who don’t “get it”.  The ones who still believe that animals are just property, and say things like “it’s just a dog”.  And especially the ones with the hardened hearts who don’t think twice about hurting an animal.  I pray that their hearts will be opened and made soft, and that their minds will be filled with the knowledge and awareness of the joy of animals, and feel love and respect for them.  I pray that something will “click” for them, that they will be filled with understanding and become warriors and voices for the animals.

Toby died today because one of those people with the hardened hearts abused him irreparably.  Toby was a sweet, little 10 pound Yorkie who had nothing but love in his heart.  He was taken in as a foster by my friend because he needed a place to heal and be quiet.  He had multiple fractures in his leg and pelvis.  He was infested with fleas, and encrusted in his own feces.  The SPCA won’t release the names of the abusers of course, so we have no way of knowing the whole story, but they were trying to give Toby a chance at a good life.  They were hoping that time would heal all wounds.  So was my friend.  So was I.

Unfortunately the wounds wouldn’t heal.  After about two months in a cast, with rest, and good nutrition, and a lot of love, it just wouldn’t work.    At first they believed that his leg might have to be amputated, but as long as the pelvic fractures healed he could survive quite well on three legs.  But none of the fractures would heal.  X-ray after x-ray showed little to no progress.  No one really can explain why his fractures wouldn’t heal, but it got to the point that they were affecting his spinal column and causing him pain.  They finally determined that his condition would only deteriorate further, to the point of excruciating pain, and that no amount of surgery or medicine would change it.  So while he was already sedated today for his x-rays and to possibly have his cast changed, the decision was made to put him the rest of the way to sleep.

I wasn’t going to write about it.  It was just so sad, and I was tired of being sad, and worried about being too sad in this blog.  My friend was heartbroken.  There had been so much hope for Toby finally having a good life, but now all  hope was lost.  Another little life was lost, and the more I thought about it the more angry I became.  I became so angry that it made me sob.  I seethed at the notion that this sweet little boy, who never did anything to anyone, ended up with some effing piece of crap who broke his little body, not even just a little but to the point of no repair.  Why?  WHY?!  Why would anyone do that to a dear, sweet little boy?!

I mean really, I want to talk to this person, to these people.  I want to ask them, “WHAT IS YOUR EFFING PROBLEM?”  Did your mommy not love you enough?  Was your daddy not proud of you?  Did the kids in school make fun of you?  Were mommy or daddy drug addicts or alcoholics?  Were you beaten as a child?  Were you sexually abused?  Well wah, wah, wah – WHO CARES?!  Do you really think there is ANYTHING that could justify harming an innocent, defenseless little life?  Do you think it is justified because YOU were hurt when YOU were an innocent, defenseless little life?  Did you not see him cowering in the corner when you were on your rampage?  Did you not see the fear in his eyes and his trembling body?  And if you saw it, how could you not RELATE to it?  What is the switch that makes you harm this little ball of gentleness and sweetness, rather than protect him?  YOU’RE A COWARD!  You, and the others like you, are big effing cowards!  You are cowards because you pick on something so defenseless, who doesn’t even know what he did wrong, who probably didn’t even do anything wrong.  If you have so much anger baby, if you think you have a right to be angry, then bring it out in the open!  Bring it out into the light of day and take your chances with other HUMANS, with humans that at least have a chance of fighting back and BEATING THE LIVING CRAP OUT OF YOU!  I wouldn’t mind five minutes to have at you myself, you piece of crap, waste of life!  You don’t deserve to breathe the same air as the dear animals that you hurt!  You’ll never be as worthy as them and you should spend every day of the rest of your life praying for forgiveness and trying to make up for the harm you’ve done!  You could have gone through your entire life without EVER hurting an animal, but you CHOSE a different path.  Again, I ask you, “WHAT IS YOUR EFFING PROBLEM?!”  Give me five minutes to inflict the same pain on you that you inflict on animals!

Toby, at least, had a few months where he knew love, and safety, and peace.  My friend did everything she could for him.  She loved him, fed him, cleaned him, cared for him, played with him and prayed for him.  She fought for him and hung in there with him.  She even rode him around in a shopping cart, just to give him some time outdoors without having to walk.  The hardest part was that she held out hope for him.  This ending was never imagined, never even a consideration.  The worst anyone expected was the amputation.  Hard to believe but at this point, amputation would have been a desired outcome.  In a way Toby was one of the lucky ones, because they FOUND him.  There are so many out there who are suffering alone and unknown.  Pray that they are found and protected.

Toby’s suffering has fueled my fire, and I hope it will put a fire in you too.  Let’s make sure that Toby and the others like him don’t die in vain.  Don’t be afraid to be a voice for them.  They can’t speak for themselves so we’re all they’ve got.  Stand up for them, raise awareness, teach empathy and call people out who aren’t living up to a high enough standard where animals are concerned.  Don’t think it’s not your business.  IT IS!  It’s EVERYONE’s business!  And please, please, PLEASE teach children to care for animals.  Maybe their parents don’t even get it, but the kids do if someone brings it to them.  Fight to have laws changed, protest, write letters, wear t-shirts, put magnets on your cars that help animals, raise awareness, make other people “animal conscious”, don’t buy from pet shops, don’t buy animals period, volunteer for an animal rescue, foster rescued animals, read up on the plight of animals and how to help them, don’t close  your eyes or your ears to it.  Do whatever you can in your own way to be a voice for them because they really are counting on us.  Just do anything.  Please.

Toby.Cecelia Toby.Cecelia II


Remember the guy who owned the pet shop in New Jersey and left all those poor puppies shivering in a van overnight?  Now he wants to profit from them again and auction off over 400 of them.  Turns out, the guy (actually two brothers) also owns a puppy mill in Missouri.  No surprise, right?  Anyhow, this petition is to put a halt to the auction and keep these guys from further profiting at the expense of the poor dogs.  If  you would be so kind as to sign it, and forward it to as many people as possible, perhaps we can really put these guys out of business and save a lot of animals.  Thanks!  Here’s the link:


On Friday morning, I lost a dear friend. His name was Shakespeare, and he passed away at the ripe old age of 17. Shakespeare of course was a dog, a Yorkie, and he was raised as a third child by my dear friends, Vicki and Joe. Although he was not my dog, he and I had a very long and special relationship. Shakespeare had a very small circle of friends and an even smaller circle of people he would “tolerate”, and I was honored to be included in both circles.   He knew me by name. When I was expected for a visit, Vicki would tell him ahead of time that I was coming. Shakespeare would get very excited when he heard, and would eventually settle down to sit by the glass front door to watch for me. As I walked up to the house, the first thing I would see was his little face in the door. The closer I got to the door, the more excited he got. As you can imagine, when I finally got in the door it was sheer bedlam! Then I would scream, “Give me kisses!”, and Shakespeare would run up their center staircase just high enough to be at face level with me. I would put my head against the spindles on the staircase and Shakespeare would proceed to lick any part of my face that he could reach. It was our thing. If it was his thing with anyone else, I will never admit to it. It was OUR thing. We had a “we”, and our we was special.

All of this got me to thinking about what we all go through when we lose pets, those of us that actually care anyhow.   As we know, there are some that don’t.   Last night I went to Vicki and Joe’s house to grieve with them and share our memories of the little one. One of the things that Vicki repeated over and over was that the day Shakespeare died was “the worst day of her life”.   I totally understand that. My heart of hearts was a dog named Tiffany, who passed away in 1995 after fourteen years. I’ve never gotten over her loss, can still cry over her and look forward to the day when I see her again. Eighteen years later when I finally brought another dog home (although there were many cats in between) it was with Tiffany in mind. Clancy and she look extremely alike, right down to a little pink spot on the tips of their respective noses. Since Tiffany passed in 1995 I’ve lost basically every family member; Father, Mother, Brother and a dear Uncle. But I will still say that the day I lost Tiffany was the worst day of my life. Not to take anything away from the loss of my family members, but it’s different when you lose someone that you were responsible for. It’s a different sort of bond and it leaves a different sort of hole in your life.   And for me, I’m just one of those people who is better with animals than I am with other people. I always feel more connected to animals than to humans, so when I lose one I am inconsolable.

So now there is the healing and the aftermath.   My friends say they will never bring home another dog, which is sad because they are the kind of people that we all want to see have dogs. They are the good people, the counter-balance to all the bad people that have pets, the ones we thank God for when we see how their pets are taken care of and loved. Dogs deserve them. Maybe someday their hearts will heal enough to allow them to change their minds. Just like when a relationship ends, we often learn to love again, even when we thought it would be impossible. For my friends’ sake, and for the sake of all the dogs out there that deserve their love, I hope so.

But my friends are also in a gray area now that I believe to be imposed by society. There is a somewhat Victorian notion which seems to preach that there is a certain window of time which must be endured before we consider getting another pet, or even getting into another relationship. They talk about “respect”, and it being “disrespectful” to the one who has passed if we don’t wait a certain, arbitrarily decided upon period of time to bring another pet home or as humans, to love again or just stop crying. Like we are bad people if we accept death as a part of life, or choose to love again and, heaven forbid, be HAPPY! But I really have to question the whole philosophy. First of all, WHO DECIDED?! Who made up those rules? Who decided what the proper period of time is, for EVERYONE?! Who says that by choosing to love again we are diminishing the character or the memory of the one who has passed? I don’t see it that way at all. The way I see it, we are HONORING the one who has passed. What we are saying in effect is that the hole, the void left behind by their loss is so great as to be unbearable. That it aches to be filled. As the saying goes, “Nature abhors a vacuum”, so why would it not be natural for our HUMAN nature to want to fill the void, especially where love is concerned, the best and most natural quality of our humanness? Why would we not want to spread as much love as possible, as often as possible? How is that an insult to the one who has passed?

I don’t love Tiffany any less today than I did when she died 21 years ago. Since she died I’ve had nine cats at various times (there are six now) and my two present dogs. I don’t love Tiffany any less because of any of any of the others. Tiffany taught me more about love than any other being I’ve ever met.   Isn’t it a good thing that I’ve gone on to use what I learned from her to care for other animals? Every one of my pets, and a lot of people, have benefited from the lessons in love I learned from Tiffany. Not long after Tiffany passed, a cat wandered into my yard and my life. His name was Chessie. Rumor had it that the people whose home he used to live in got a dog and put Chessie out onto the streets. Maybe Chessie just left. Either way, I vowed that I would never get a dog as long as Chessie was with me because I never wanted him to fear being abandoned or feel that there was no longer a place for him with me. Chessie passed in 2012, after fighting feline leukemia for two years.   At that point, there were four other cats coming into my yard to be fed, one of which kept trying to come into the house but wasn’t allowed because of Chessie’s age and illness. The day Chessie passed I opened the door for Bandit and told him to “Come on in”. About a week later, I brought Bandit to a relatively new vet, but the one who had put Chessie to sleep when the time came. When I walked in with Bandit she said, “Miss Fitzgerald, you did not even give yourself a chance to grieve?” Excuse me? Are you implying that I’m NOT grieving? That just because I have another patient for you, that I didn’t/don’t love the one I lost?   That it was inappropriate for me to have taken in another cat at this point, a cat that was hungry and homeless?   I never said any of that to her, but I never went back to her either. Bandit is still here.

People feel like they aren’t entitled, or have to feel guilty, if they want to feel better again. I say, SPREAD THE LOVE! Your loved ones that have passed understand now that it was all about the love. I think they would want us to use what we have learned from them to benefit another.   My belief is that they are happy now, whether human or animal. I think they are happier now than they ever were in life, and that our grief weighs them down like a balloon tied to a rock. I believe that they will never be completely free until we let go of them, that love isn’t about holding on to them because love is not selfish. Like I told my friend, “Losing a pet is like when you raise children. You raise them knowing that someday you’re going to have to let them go, but knowing that they will take all your love with them”. It’s all we’ve got to go on.

So last night my friends and I cried about Shakespeare, and we laughed about Shakespeare. There was no little face in the door for me anymore, no one running up the stairs to slather me with kisses. His little bed under the end of the coffee table was noticeably gone.   The house was quiet and the emptiness was palpable. This is what my poor friends are having to endure right now. But they are also the most loving and fun seeking people that I know, so I’m sure they will come through and continue to love and laugh.   We already started; We laughed last night about Shakespeare and some of his antics. We laughed about the fact that no matter how many blotches I had on my face, or how much I was sneezing because I was in fact allergic to Shakespeare’s saliva, I still would let him kiss me until the cows came home! We laughed at how selective he was about people and who he allowed to be a friend. We laughed at how his attitude toward me changed the time I brought a boyfriend to their house and he let me know he was NOT happy about it! The boyfriend didn’t last, and Vicki says that Shakespeare eventually forgave me, but I’m not really sure he did.

When I told another friend of mine today that Shakespeare had passed, and that I was in the middle of writing a blog piece about him, she wished me well and said, “I hope it comes to you easily”.   I texted back that it actually was coming easily because, after all, Shakespeare was my muse!

Rest in peace my little friend. Thank you for brightening all of our lives. Thank you for the love. Give Tiffany a kiss for me and know that we will all be together again some day. Much love, now and always.

Shakespeare kisses


Little Bella seems to be having some issues which aren’t responding to antibiotics.  I started looking online for plants or weeds in my yard that she might be eating (because she tries to eat EVERYTHING) that could be causing her problems.  The list is over 700 species long, but there is one that seems to be the worst and that is Foxtail Grass.  This grass isn’t as bad for its toxicity as for the fact that the seeds are barbed, much like a fish hook, and if ingested can become embedded in an animal’s internal organs.  Foxtail is VERY common.  I have it in my yard and never thought much of it, but I will definitely be taking measures to get rid of it now.  Keep in mind that even if your pet isn’t a plant eater,  Foxtail can lodge in their paws or fur and be ingested by your pet if they try to remove it with their mouths.  Here are two photos to help you identify this plant:

Foxtail-Grass-Can-Kill-Your-Dogs-fbFoxtail close up


A little over a month ago, actually not long after I posted “Putting the Cart Before the Horse”, I had to bring Clancy to the vet for his annual shots.  While we were there the vet tech asked me if Clancy got along with other dogs.  I told her that, like humans, sometimes he liked a particular dog and sometimes he didn’t.  I asked her why she was asking, and she told me the story of Bella.  Bella is a beautiful little dog whose owner brought her in a few days before saying that he “couldn’t” take care of her anymore, that there was something wrong with her feet, and he wanted to have her “put down”.  Basically, “I can’t be bothered taking care of this pet that has been with me and lived in our home for seven years so I would like  you to kill her”.  The vet tried to reason with the person, whom he had only seen once before in the office with Bella.  He told him that the problem with Bella’s feet is most likely allergies and could be cleared up, but the owner insisted on his original plans.  Well, luckily I have a wonderful vet who hasn’t forgotten why he got into this business, and he refused to kill Bella.  He and the tech told this “man” that they would take custody of Bella and find a home for her, the man left, and a few days later Clancy and I were there.

I had actually been considering getting a friend for Clancy.  He loves to play, would do so all day if I was willing, but there is only so much I can do for him.  I was hoping another dog could take up some of the slack for him and possibly teach him to be more sociable.  I had looked at a few other dogs here and there but none really clicked for Clancy.  Then there was the $10k emergency vet bill and getting another dog seemed like an idea I should put to rest.  But, since Bella was at the vet’s office we could introduce Clancy to her and see where it went.  Clancy is pretty quick when he meets another dog; he either likes the other dog right away or starts growling at it almost immediately.  They brought Bella out and Clancy didn’t try to kill her.  Hmm, there might be some potential here!  Myself and one of the other techs took them on a short walk together and neither dog seemed to care that the other was there. Also a good sign.  But still, no dog is itself at the vet’s office, so how could we really tell.  I told them I would have to think about it but would call them back by 5 pm.  Within an hour I was back at the office and, since it was Friday, I told them I would take Bella home for the weekend to see how things went, and then she at least wouldn’t have to stay crated and alone over the weekend. 

Now here we are, five weeks later.  Bella is of course still here and will be here forever.  It took me a while to decide.  I hemmed and hawed, after the weekend told them I would keep her for the rest of the week, then that I wanted to give her some more time to be on meds (along with the foot thing we figured out that she had a yeast infection) so maybe another week.  She and Clancy still weren’t trying to kill each other, although Bella really wasn’t much for playing at this point.  She was however food obsessed and also enjoyed peeing wherever she felt like.  But even if things weren’t perfect, how could I possibly now send this dog back to the vet to wait for someone else to take her home again and make her go through the same stressful process?  Nope, I told them that Bella was here to stay and we would make it work.  

Since then, I can’t help but wondering what Bella must be thinking and feeling, just like all dogs that are abandoned by their owners.  One minute she’s on a fun car ride with her human, and the next thing she knows the human leaves her at the vet’s office, never to be seen again.  The family Bella lived with for seven years, and the only home she’s ever known, is just gone.  She must have waited and waited for them to come back and get her.  Honestly, I’m not sure she isn’t still waiting.  At the vet’s office and in my home now, she always gets excited when you go near the door with her.  We all wondered if she thought that maybe we were finally bringing her back to her family.  Five weeks later I think she’s still confused and probably heartbroken.  A night hasn’t gone by yet where she doesn’t have what sounds like a bad dream, whimpering and yelping in her sleep.  I’ve tried to explain things to her, told her how sorry I am for what happened to her and how some humans are just stupid.  I’ve told her how much I love her, what a good little girl she is, how I don’t understand how anyone could ever leave her behind and that she doesn’t ever have to worry about losing her home ever again, that I will always take care of her.  I know it must sound crazy that I spoke to her that way, but who truly knows what animals understand?  I hoped that on some level, even if it’s just an energy level, what I was saying would get through to a place of understanding for her. I try to reassure her as much as I can.  After all, she really has no idea what’s going on.  She doesn’t know for sure yet whethere she’s in a safe place and if I am someone that can be trusted.  At this point I’m sure she feels like she can’t trust what might happen tomorrow.  She thought everything was o.k. before, in her former family, and look what happened.  I’ve seen the confusion and fear over and over again, in the eyes of just about every rescue dog I’ve ever met.  Everyone is horrified when someone just dumps a child off somewhere.  It’s all over the news, they search for the person responsible, the comment sections of full of hate for the person, society is outraged.  Yet six million people find it acceptable to do this to six million animals every year.  All of these animals have a level of awareness equal to that of a toddler, but somehow it’s considered less horrendous because it’s an animal.  I don’t get it, but ugh, I sound like a broken record.  It’s a recurring theme for me, in case you haven’t noticed.

Bella is safe.  She is here now and she will always have a home with myself and Clancy.  She is coming along.  Her personality is unfolding slowly.  She is trying to play with Clancy but isn’t quite sure how yet.  She has played tug-of-war with him once or twice, but mainly she just gets excited and yaps at him.  Clancy has been wonderful with  her.  He has his “other” issue, but with Bella he has been awesome.  Maybe the two of them understand that they were both in the same boat once before, in danger of being put down, but they got saved.  It still hurts,  but they have a life experience in common.  Bella’s yeast infection has cleared up, and since the first allergy pill she took, she has never chewed on her feet again.  The hair is starting to grow back on her paws and they are no longer red and sore.  All she needed was some simple allergy meds.  She is clean, she is well fed, and she and Clancy have been to numerous parks and on numerous car rides together already.  She has her own little basket in the car, in between myself and Clancy, and she has figured out how to use her tiny little legs to climb up onto the seat and then hop into her basket.  She is happiest when she is in a field of some sort and I unhook her leash and let her run free.  She is a picture then of pure joy!  She and Clancy take turns leading and following. At home in our backyard, as Clancy runs at full speed from one side of the house to the other (a miracle in itself considering how injured he was less than a year ago) to bark at what’s happening on the other side of the fence, Bella now is along side of him, trying to keep up.  Unfortunately, she would like to eat the cats just as much as Clancy would.  I was hoping that would go the other way, but instead now I’ve had to put up an additional fence across the back of the yard, just to give the cats a place where they are safe from the tenacious terrier twins!  Another thing I was hoping would go the other way was Clancy’s sociability at the dog park.  He finds it intimidating and hides behind me when we’re there.  So I brought Bella and him to the dog park one day, thinking Bella would probably love it and that would make Clancy more comfortable with it.  Instead, now BOTH dogs hide behind me!  I’m giving up on the dog park.  Some things just aren’t going to work.  And Bella is learning that her next door neighbor dog is her friend and not a threat to be barked at or kick dirt at (yes, she really does kick dirt at China).  And I am learning how to love two dogs equally, how to not let Clancy feel abandoned or Bella feel left out.  I am trying to figure out how to convey solidarity as a family unit to them, and teach them how to feel friendly towards each other.  It’s not something I’m familiar with .  I didn’t grow up with anything like that, so it’s difficult for me to create that environment.  Poor Clancy isn’t sure what’s going on either.  He had me all to himself for three years and suddenly there is this little interloper that doesn’t seem to be going away.  He is, at times, understandably jealous.  Last Saturday was bath day for them.  When Clancy was getting his bath, Bella barked and carried on the whole time.  I’m not sure what she thought was happening to her friend.  Then, when it was Bella’s turn next, Clancy sat quietly next to the bathtub, watching everything intently.  On the one hand I thought that he wanted to make sure his little friend was o.k.  On the other hand I had to wonder if he wasn’t waiting for the opportunity to drown her!  

It’s a balancing act, and we are all on a very steep learning curve.  It’s mainly up to me.  If I get my energy right, they will follow.  We’ll get there, because that’s what families do, even the furry ones.  We’ll get there because that’s what people who REALLY care about animals do; they make it work and would never consider dumping an animal to make their own life easier.  We don’t just pay lip service.  We don’t just call ourselves “animal lovers” but forsake the responsibility that comes with love.  We don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk.  We’ll get there.  We’ll be fine.  Bella is home, and we will all be fine.

Picture of beautiful Clancy, in the background bathed in sunlight, and sweet Bella:

Bella & Clancy copy


So, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been in and around animal rescue and advocacy for years. Like so many, I’ve been involved with and caring for animals all of my life and the older I become the more aware I’ve become (thankfully). I have this “thing” though, an odd personality trait that has always been with me and has affected just about every area of my life; I’m always (and often unconsciously) waiting for an ending. Anytime I’ve been in a relationship, in the back of my head I’m waiting for it to end. Years ago I tried to play tennis, but if a rally was going on for too long I would actually sabotage the game, just to make it end. I expected any job I was ever in to end. My need for therapy aside, I finally gave in and now I work freelance. Now every job does end, whether I want it to or not. Maybe it’s all because of the way I grew up (things start and end quickly in an alcoholic family), but I find endings somehow comforting. It’s normal to me. So just imagine how uncomfortable it must be for me to be involved in animal rescue! It makes me nuts. IT NEVER ENDS! There’s always an endless supply of animals that need help, always more animals being abandoned, dumped and surrendered. It’s not like we start out with six million animals at the beginning of the year and the numbers go down as the year progresses. It’s that there is a minimum of six million homeless animals (that we know of and that’s a low estimate) EVERY day, of EVERY year.   We start out with six million and at the end of the year there are six million more. Thousands of caring people work hard every day finding homes for all those millions of animals, but at the end of a year the cages are still full, just with different animals. It’s maddening. We talk, we try to educate, we create petitions, we sign other people’s petitions, we blog, we wear t-shirts, we decorate our cars with magnets and bumper stickers, we hold adoption events, we hold fundraisers, we put our homeless animals in some of the most visible places for people to meet them. The information about homeless animals is all over tv, Facebook, Twitter, the internet and in newspapers. Common people know about it, politicians know about it, celebrities know about it but yet, the cages are only empty long enough to be cleaned for the next abandoned animal.

So what gives?   Well, I think I got my first hint of “what gives” just this past July. I have a little dog – my little Clancy. I adore him. Of course Clancy was a rescue, in danger of being put down because he has issues with aggression. They would only adopt him out to someone with no kids and a lot of dog experience. We were meant for each other. Come to find out that Clancy has a “fear aggression”.   He’s basically afraid of everything, but when he feels threatened by a person (which I’m pretty sure is all the time) it comes out in all the wrong ways. Needless to say, Clancy and I have been through a lot. It’s been a long, slow, bonding process with a lot of ups and downs, but each step of the journey brings us closer together. He’s my boy. But one day last July I opened the front door to put out the garbage.   Clancy had been trained to back up and stay when I open a door, to not run out, but I put a little bit too much faith in his training and wasn’t counting on the cat walking in front of the door at that moment. Clancy ran out between my legs after the cat, and I watched in horror as he chased the cat into the street at the same moment a car was moving towards them.   The cat turned just in time but Clancy wasn’t fast enough. I won’t go into the gory details; it was bad but he was alive, but injured beyond and requiring more care than what my Vet could provide at that point. My wonderful neighbors rushed Clancy and I out to the emergency Vet hospital, about 45 minutes away. They saved his life, quite literally. He actually died on the table and they revived him. I am, and will be, forever grateful. He was at the hospital for a week, and now I have a $10,000 bill that I’ll be paying off for years.

Again, I am FOREVER grateful. I would kiss the ground they walk on at that hospital. But $10,000?  That didn’t even include a surgery!  Last week I had to bring one of my cats to the (regular) Vet, because he just wasn’t acting right – $400. He still has to go back for his shots. I don’t even want to think about it. I have 4 cats that all need their shots. There are no group discounts. All of this got me to thinking that it’s a miracle that a lot more people AREN’T abandoning their animals! I mean, how can we ask people to give homes to and care for these beautiful animals when the majority of people are struggling to make ends meet to begin with?!   How can we hope to ever see the day when there is no need for shelters or rescues because no one has to give up their pets? I’m not talking about the people who dump their pets because they are moving and chose a place that doesn’t allow pets (Oh puhleeze, so move somewhere else!), or the pregnant woman who “just won’t have the time” to care for the pet after the baby arrives (Will you get rid of your first child when you have the second one?).   I’m talking about the people who, legitimately, just don’t have the money to pay Vet bills and maybe had no idea that it would cost so much to care for a pet. The people who are in danger of losing their homes because they can’t pay the mortgage, so how in the hell are they supposed to spend a hundred dollars a month on pet food? That are wondering how they are going to afford to buy groceries to feed their kids, so how in the hell can they be expected to pay fifty dollars for a box of flea meds? I know that everyone has to make a living, including and in my opinion especially our Veterinarians. But they got into this business because they cared about animals which means, to me, that they have to see the bigger picture. That if they want animals to be cared for, they have to keep their prices reasonable for the average Joe and Joan who are trying to do the best for their pets. Many Vets (like mine) do try to give discounts to help people out, but then their hands are tied when it comes to things like medications, lab work and flea meds. Omg, will someone please tell me why the price of flea meds is so high? I have to keep four cats and a dog in flea meds for at least six months, and I know a lot of people with even more pets than I and more seasons to cover. What the hell are we all supposed to do? How the hell are we supposed to take care of our pets the way we want to, and the way that is necessary?! Which leads us now to the pharmaceutical companies, and everyone else that is benefiting big-time from the boom in the sale of pet products, which by the way is happening in large part because of the efforts of all the animal rescue people preaching love and empathy for animals! Talk about a Catch-22!  Apparently, the more we “get through” to people about loving animals, the more the pet industry big-wigs take advantage of it, raising and raising their prices and making it more and more difficult for those same people to be caring, responsible pet owners!   So what do you think happens then? People start dumping their pets of course, because they can’t afford to care for them! The day I went to pick Clancy up from the shelter to adopt him, I was heartbroken to see two more people bringing their dogs INTO the shelter because they couldn’t afford them anymore, and that was just in the five minutes I was standing there. That goes on all day, every day. And round, and round, and round we go!

Last but not least, the topic that is often the most infuriating to those of us who have known countless animals needing homes, is the unnecessary BREEDING of even MORE animals and (in my opinion) the ignorance and selfishness of the people who pay for them! My God people! With over six million homeless animals available, why, why, WHY would anyone go and pay a thousand or more dollars for a pet? And the flip side to that is all the breeders who claim to be “animal lovers”. Let’s call it like it is – if you REALLY loved animals, you’d be caring for all the ones who actually need you – the HOMELESS ones, instead of adding even more pets to the already over-populated population and with each new puppy or kitten, taking a home away from an animal that is already in need of one! If you REALLY loved animals, you’d be giving them your money for their care instead of using animals to MAKE money! Then there are some people who are just ignorant (or stupid?). I have neighbors who no longer speak to me because I offered to take their cat to be fixed for them.   Let me say that again; I OFFERED to take THEIR CAT to be fixed! They said I was sticking my nose where it didn’t belong, that it was none of my business. Mind you, I have two large signs on my lawn, one asking people to “Adopt, not shop”, and another showing photos of a number of homeless dogs I have known and asking people not to breed more animals. These signs, as well as my car with the rescue magnets stuck to the back, all face the house of the neighbor I’m talking about here. Let me say at the outset that I really am a “live and let live” kind of person. I truly believe that everyone should be able to do what they want, and live the lives they want, as long as they are not hurting anyone or anything else. When it comes to animals though, all bets are off.   They can’t speak for themselves.   I admit I am a self-appointed judge and jury and will stick my nose in and run my mouth anytime and to anyone I think is doing wrong by an animal. And to me, if you are breeding animals irresponsibly you are hurting a lot of other animals, as well as the people who work so tirelessly to trap and fix feral cats and find homes for them and for so many dogs. So, these particular neighbors have a cat that, at the time of my offer, had had at least 3 litters that we know of. The cat was not fixed but they would let her out into their yard. What did they expect would happen? Anyhow, all of the rest of us neighbors (including the other people across the street who had 9 stray cats that they had fixed and were feeding twice a day, to my six stray cats also fixed and fed twice a day) kept waiting and expecting our neighbor with the unfixed cat to finally do the right thing. We all talked about it but tried to mind our own business for a very long time.   We all bit our tongues and waited for her to do the right thing for a very long time. But when I heard the last time that her cat was pregnant YET AGAIN, I threw caution to the wind and asked her if she was ever going to get her cat fixed. She said she knew that she should, but she “just didn’t have the time”.  O.k., if that’s what you’re going with. That’s when I offered to take the cat for her, which she agreed to at first but then changed her mind. That’s how, a few months later, her daughter threatened to slap the shit out of me for sticking my nose where it didn’t belong. (Don’t even get me started on the fact that their two dogs have been getting out of their yard and into the street at least once a week for years, but they have YET to repair the fence.)

Last week I responded to an ad I saw on Craigslist. This guy wanted to dump his sweet cat because his dog had just had another litter, and his wife wanted to keep one of the puppies. I don’t think I even have to tell you what I said to him; it’s probably self-explanatory at this point. Suffice it to say that he responded by telling me to “Go f— off!”, at which point I told him that I was happy he had at least found 3 words he could spell correctly!

So what do we do with THOSE people, people like this guy and my neighbors? There are so many of them out there. Craigslist, for one, is full of ads from people trying to sell or give away puppies and kittens. What do we do about the people who call themselves “animal lovers”, yet who are too lazy to educate themselves about the reality of what all of our animals are dealing with? The information is everywhere, in every format, so there’s really no excuse for not knowing. It comes down to not WANTING to know, and for me that comes down to not caring!

But again, the bottom line is that animals suffer because of us. They suffer because of the ignorant people who just keep breeding more and more animals; they suffer because of the people who simply MUST have a pedigree dog with papers and so they line the pockets of the breeders, thereby rewarding them for exploiting animals. The American Kennel Club is one of the biggest promoters of dog breeding and so one of the biggest contributors to the over all problem of homeless animals. They try to make it look so glamorous; they stage highly publicized (useless) dog SHOWS, with owners strutting around their many beautifully coiffed and manicured dogs, taking credit for their perfection (as if they personally gave birth to them and the dogs are a product of their own gene pool). But let’s think about how many puppies were born and discarded in the breeder’s quest for the perfect specimen of the breed, repeated over and over again for countless breeds. How many new puppies were born and therefore took homes away from dogs already sitting in cages, waiting for a family? I’ll bet we could never find a statistic on that! Ironically now, the animals suffer because of Vets who’ve forgotten their roots and charge so much that people CAN’T properly care for an animal.   They suffer because of the pharmaceutical companies, and the pet food companies, who are also cashing in on the exploding interest in animals. Again, these companies and Vets have taken advantage of the interest in animals raised by the very people trying so desperately to help animals. It was an unforeseen, unexpected and certainly unwanted by-product of raising awareness and educating the public about the joys and plight of animals. We care about animals more, we are more aware of animals, we are more “animal conscious”, but because of all that ironically, we can afford them less and less and there are more and more born each day. The movement was only supposed to create empathy, but all this new found interest and awareness has unfortunately made animals big business.

And round and round we go.   And the animals are the losers, again.   As the title states, the work of all the animal rescue people is like digging a hole in the sand, swimming upstream and rowing against the current. They never get anywhere. They’ll never achieve “the goal” because there are too many forces working against them. They are putting the cart before the horse because before we can hope for a “no shelters necessary” world, we have to live in a world where everyone can afford to care for a pet and where everyone is smart enough to not breed MORE animals! It depresses me to even write that, because it sounds so impossible. As we see now, for every animal sitting in a shelter, there are MANY humans responsible for it being left there.

But the many dedicated rescue people will keep trying, and fighting, and chipping away at the constantly over-populated world of abandoned animals. As the saying goes, “Saving one animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal”.

It’s just not enough.