Friday, March 26, 2010

Rescue Waggin' Comes to Town!

At 5:00 Thursday morning, two guys in a truck filled with 20 dogs set out from the Augusta Regional SPCA in Staunton, Virginia and began driving north. The guys are drivers for PetSmart Charities Rescue Waggin'. Rescue Waggin' saves the lives of dogs and puppies by transporting them from areas of high pet population (where they face almost certain euthanasia) to areas like the Pioneer Valley where adoptable dogs are in high demand.

While Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society has operated its popular "Dixie Dogs" program since 2003, our relationship with Rescue Waggin' is a new one. In fact, Dakin is the first New England animal welfare organization to become a part of the Rescue Waggin' program.

Rescue Waggin' partnership offers several advantages. In the past, Dakin staff have had to negotiate the arrangements with our partner agencies in the South. We had to help them understand our disease control standards, quarantine requirements, and behavior evaluations. With Rescue Waggin', PetSmart Charities assumes the task of training the sending and receiving agencies to work together. Not only do we have a standardized behavior evaluation, but we also have standardized paperwork and health certificates.

Best of all, PetSmart Charities works with the sending community to put programs in place to end overpopulation (spay/neuter!) while covering the transport costs for the receiving organization so that we can invest our hard-earned money in programs in our community that help animals in need (cats! pitbulls! rabbits!). Participation in the Rescue Waggin' program could save Dakin as much as $20,000 a year--no small sum when it comes to saving animals' lives!

The latest load of 14 dogs (6 of the 20 were dropped off at the ASPCA in New York City) will go through their state-mandated 48-hour quarantine period here at Dakin's Springfield Adoption & Education Center. At the end of that quarantine, we'll have our veterinary staff examine them, provide them with any necessary medical treatment or vaccinations, send them over to the Dakin Community Spay/Neuter Clinic for a quick snip, and then we'll split them between our Leverett and Springfield adoption centers. In only a few short days, this latest round of lucky Dixie Dogs will be living the good life in their new Yankee homes.

Whenever we talk about Dixie Dogs, we want to remind people of two important points: First, Dakin staff work very hard to make sure that we help every local homeless dog we can, including those housed at animal control agencies in our own communities and around Massachusetts. Second, wonderful dogs die every day in this country for lack of a home. It is our obligation to do everything we can to put an end to that tragedy.

As I write this, my Dixie dog, Howard, and my Yankee dog, Grampy, are snoring next to me. Who says the North and the South can't get along?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

De-Vocalization Bill Passes Massachusetts House!

Thanks to the hard work and support of a grassroots movement of dog lovers, the Massachusetts House just moved forward on HB 344, An Act Prohibiting De-vocalization, as written! In an overwhelming 150-1 vote, the House moved the bill forward where it will now be heard by the state Senate (the lone dissenting vote was Rep. George Peterson, R-Seventh Worcester).

What to do today? Hug a legislator!

Call, email or most appreciated of all, send a hard-copy note. It doesn't have to be long. Thank- you notes are important, and not just because your mom said so; they help cement relationships with legislators, encouraging them to embrace future humane bills.

If you choose to email, put “Thank you for supporting H344!” in the subject line. Then write a short message, with your name and address. Constituents rule.

Please also thank the heroes of the day, who saved the bill, even if they're not your representatives.

They fended off amendments proposed by the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association, which would have effectively killed the bill. If the following are not your Reps, don't bombard them with calls. Send an email (with "thank you for supporting H344" in the subject line) or, the gold standard, a note that you put a stamp on and mail:

Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera,
Rep. Bill Bowles,
Rep. Will Brownsberger,
Rep. Jennifer Callahan,
Rep. Gene O’Flaherty,
Snail mail: State House, Boston 02133

Rep. Coakley-Rivera, from Springfield, made an impassioned plea for passage of the bill without amendment. She said, "(My dogs) are members of my family. They may not be search dogs who find people…or assistance dogs working with children. But they are special to me. (De-vocalization) involves monetary profit, not love of animals. (It) is inhumane and must be stopped. Most people who de-vocalize their dogs don't take the time and training. Little dogs have a tendency to yelp, it's their only defense. I brought my friend who has sat here for the last 40 minutes and not said a word. He gets love and humane treatment from my family. Please accept this bill as written."

Thank you, Rep. Coakley-Rivera! And thank you all the legislators who moved this bill forward!

What's next? The Massachusetts Senate! Stay tuned for updates on this measure as we continue to work to get it passed without amendment. Keep an eye on Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society's Facebook page for up-to-the minute news.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dakin's Buddy Fund Saves Lives

Bol has all the outrageous enthusiasm of any 6-month-old pit bull--he jumps, he romps, he loves to chase a ball. And he also has complete fractures to both bones in his right front leg. After being hit by a car in Springfield, Bol ended up at the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society when his person realized he didn't have the money to treat Bol's injuries.

The adoption center veterinary staff have splinted Bol's leg to help it heal. While he's not out of the woods yet, and surgery or a cast may still be needed, Bol is already putting weight on his bum paw and starting to enjoy life again. This afternoon, the veterinary staff were re-wrapping Bol's leg, fashioning a "pee-proof" glove for the splint to keep it from getting soaked every time the rambunctious guy goes for his daily constitutional.

From broken legs to dental extractions, from enucleations to ear infections, Dakin's adoption center veterinary team goes the extra mile to help homeless animals who need to recover from injury, neglect, or abuse before finding their second chance. We're grateful to have talented staff capable of helping animals in need. And we're also grateful that donors to the Dakin Buddy Fund make such treatment possible.

Named for a young shepherd mix with a cardiomyopathy, the Buddy Fund is the special account we use to provide treatment beyond the standard spay/neuter surgery or vaccinations. When an animal comes to us sick or injured, but with good prospects for recovery and a full life in a new home, we call on the Buddy Fund to help him out.

Please consider a donation to the Buddy Fund today. Your gift is a lifesaver.