Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Puppies and the Importance of Socialization

Many of you may have noticed there's no lack of puppies in the Texas panhandle. They're everywhere. I also know for a fact that very few of them come from reputable breeders. The term “reputable breeder” in and of itself often makes me cringe. I know they exist somewhere but the truth of the matter is (as an associate of countless thousands of people) that in real life, I know ONE. ONE girl breeding English Bulldogs gets the mother sonograms, has papers on lineage, makes sure they're fully vetted, takes the time to properly socialize them, makes sure they're housetrained, and has homes lined up for them before they're even born.

I honestly can't scream loud enough about the importance of having your dogs spayed and/or neutered. “But we want little Jenny to experience the miracle of birth!” Well, it's not so much a “miracle” as it is a scientific, chemical reaction. If you have a female in heat who is allowed to be outside, supervised or not (which is against the law in Amarillo and many other places, by the way), chances are, there's a male out there somewhere with testicles who is going to do anything he can to get to your precious little girl. He may or may not be friendly about it. He may or may not be size-appropriate (think German Shepherd vs. Yorkie). If you have a male with testicles who seems to keep running off, he's very likely running off to get some sexy time with that floozy up the block. You may or may not care about puppies if they aren't on your property, but I guarantee that car coming up the street doesn't care why your dog is out, or whether or not he's friendly. Street pizza isn't much fun to explain to little Jenny either.

I understand that with all my ranting 'till I'm blue in the face, people are still going to have puppies... ignoring the fact that there are literally thousands coming through the doors of our shelter every year. (Keep in mind the entirety of this may not be applicable in other states. Some states actually have a shortage of puppies – such as Colorado and New York – but I'm talking about Texas, and specifically the panhandle. It's a very real and very BIG problem.) Having said that, I shall implore the general lot of you that if you're going to do it anyway, do it right.


I've lost count of the number of dogs I've worked with who were aggressive, fearful, or downright socially retarded whose owners told me they got them from a “breeder” at somewhere between 4 and 6 weeks of age. That right there tells me they got lied to. Where these dogs really came from was someone who didn't care to get their dogs fixed and most likely had an “oops” litter, so we'll just pretend we weren't careless in the Craigslist ad and meant to do that. Or they're of the ilk, “Well, we just wanted Old Blue to have a litter before we got her fixed because someone back in the 40s said that's what was best for the dog.” Also not true. Your dog does NOT need to “experience the miracle of birth” to be a perfectly well-adjusted dog. Most times when these people DO wind up with a litter of 8-10 puppies running around their house, chewing on everything imaginable with their razor sharp teeth (including your hands and feet), urinating and defecating in every spot available, they realize puppy formula and food can get expensive real damn quick (not to mention the irritation of having to wake up every two hours because they're screaming for food), and they decide to get rid of them early because puppies – especially in large quantities - really are a pain in the ass. Even fewer still are those that take the time, effort, and expense of getting those puppies to a vet to get them started on their shots.

I know this may come as a surprise to some of you but dogs don't speak English. Dogs communicate through their body language (eyes, ears, tails, posture) and, failing that, with their mouths. They learn dog language from their mothers and siblings. There's a very critical period between 4 weeks (when they get their teeth) and 8-10 weeks (when they're usually placed elsewhere) that they learn bite inhibition. With any dog, it's not a matter of IF they'll bite, it's WHEN. Learning how much force to use when that happens can be the difference between a tiny nip (that may or may not touch your skin – or another dog's for that matter) and serious puncture wounds on down the line to mauling with multiple punctures and muscle tearing. When puppies play too roughly with their siblings or bite them too hard, that sibling goes away. If they bite mom too hard, she snaps back at them to teach them what is and is not appropriate.

I worked with a dog last week who came from an “oops” litter in Canyon; he was about 10 weeks old, and probably a boxer mix. He's a playful, cute little guy who most likely doesn't have any ill intent. But when this dog bit me trying to take a treat from my hand, I screamed words that I don't like to say in front of new clients. I checked the palm of my hand, certain I was about to start bleeding. Luckily, I was wrong and just badly bruised. It was then I told my clients that I suspected he'd been taken from his litter too early. Not only did they get him from the “breeder” at 6 weeks of age, as soon as the puppies could see (at 2 weeks), they were separated from each other. The person told the new owners she'd done that to keep the puppies' feelings from getting hurt when they were eventually re-homed. She couldn't bear the thought of those puppies being sad and missing their brothers and sisters. Instead, what she managed to do was create socially retarded little monsters with ZERO bite inhibition.

Now, before you light the pitchforks because I “used the 'R' word” let me explain that I mean it in the literal, dictionary sense. Adjective: characterized by a slowness or limitation in intellectual understanding and awareness, emotional development, academic progress, etc.

Dogs who are robbed of the opportunity to learn how to effectively communicate with one another often show signs of aggression towards other dogs, usually based in fear. Then there's the whole biting thing to top it off.

In addition to puppies socializing with other puppies (mainly littermates before 8 weeks) and older dogs (once they're fully vaccinated), it's also critically important that they're socialized with a multitude of people. All too often, puppies are only exposed to one or two people until their adolescence or adulthood. Puppies need to meet all kinds of people - tall people, short people, skinny people, thick people, light people, dark people, people with glasses, people with hats- because this dog WILL encounter a person not exactly like you somewhere during its lifetime, and if it hasn't already built a positive association with that particular type of person, they will most likely be fearful of that person (especially men and children). They may growl, bark, lunge, or even bite. For this reason, it's a good idea to look into having puppy parties. (I'm looking at you here, too, fosters!!) Your window for socializing your puppy to new and different people comes to a pretty tight close at about three months of age, so BEFORE that happens, invite them to your house! Have your lady friends over for a make-up party (or whatever it is that “normal” girls do – speaking of socially retarded... *ahem*). Get your bro-dudes over for a football game. Everyone gives the puppy a treat (one at a time, guys, don't freak them out). Everyone picks the puppy up. Everyone cradles the puppy. Everyone fidgets with the puppy's ears and feet. (Don't forget the back feet!) Then you pass the puppy along to the next person on the couch, or whatever. If you don't know anyone else who isn't exactly like you, you should probably leave your house more often. Go talk to your neighbors, at the very least. Your puppy will be better off for it, and you will, too.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

When Dogs Fight: What to do and what NOT to do

My dog, Beau, is my pride and joy. I have two other dogs, Chicken Wing and Cheeto (and of course I love them, too!) but Beau was here first and he was a special project. I got him when he was about 2 years old, so he's around 6 now. He'd never been in a house, never been on a leash, and didn't really know what toys were. When I went through my hands-on portion of dog training school in order to gain my certification, Beau was my sidekick in class. We learned it all together. We're STILL learning together.

Beau is one of the happiest dogs I've ever met. To be perfectly honest, sometimes it's a little obnoxious. When I started studying more to focus on aggression, I figured Beau was the last guy who was going to be any help. He loves every person he's ever met, and now he's rock-solid on our walks. Other dogs can bark and lunge and act the fool, and Beau walks calmly and confidently past each and every one of them. Granted, that wasn't built in (it's a natural instinct for dogs to react in some fashion); it took a LOT of work but we got there. We got there together.

Learning what aggression is (or isn't) is incredibly complex, and there's certainly no single answer to any given question. I've been studying it for years and I still learn something new about it on a fairly regular basis.

Clients call me all the time to tell me, “My dog is aggressive.” Well, probably not all the time. Surely he relaxes at some point. Even if he reacts to other dogs or unfamiliar people, hopefully he's all right at least 95% of the time. If your dog is non-stop “aggressive” 24/7 you've got a hell of a problem that I won't be able to fix. As a matter of fact, aggression isn't really a thing that CAN be “fixed.” It can be managed and even significantly decreased in some circumstances, but it's never 100% gone. Every thinking, feeling being on this planet has an aggression threshold. You have one, I have one, our dogs have one. Beau has one too.

I could talk about the word “dominance” and how it's mostly incorrect and grossly overused (if scientists who get paid every day to study it can't figure out the definition, you probably haven't either); same thing with the word “alpha.” Unless your dog is in a linear, genetic position in an actual pack of wolves, it's not an “alpha.” Just because you want to be the boss and the bringer of the food doesn't make you an “alpha” either. That's not how it works. I don't care if you done seent it on the tee-vee; lots of people say lots of things on television that simply aren't true. Moving on.

A lot of aggression is based in fear. It can be caused by a slew of medical issues. It can be because of highly valued resources such as food or a comfy place on the couch. Trust me when I say the list could go on for daaaaaays, and none of us have time for all of it right now. Today, I'm going to talk about territorial aggression and what to do (and what NOT to do) in a dog fight.

Almost every dog is territorial. “This house is mine! This person is mine! This yard is mine! Woe be unto thee who dares to enter here!” If your dog barks at a knock on the door, it's territorial. If your dog barks out the window at people walking down the street, it's territorial. If your dog barks at someone coming up your alley, it's probably territorial. That last thing could also be out of boredom but we're not going to veer into that right now.

Some trainers have desensitized their dogs to the point where they couldn't care less if someone knocks on their door or rings the bell. I'm not one of those trainers; my neighborhood is a tad more sketchy than it was 19 years ago when I moved here. I appreciate it that my dogs bark when someone is in my yard! I want to know, and I actually thank them when they do it. My dogs don't bark for nothing. When they do, I get up, see what's going on, if everything is cool, I'll say, “Thanks, boys, you did a good job. Look, they're going away now. It's okay to settle down now,” and they do. When a stranger is knocking at my door, their barks are a different pitch. It's more urgent. When I answer the door to someone I don't know, Beau stands on top of his crate with his head over my shoulder. I hold his collar, and we both look out the door together. “May I help you?” We don't have to deal with many salesmen for very long.

Sometimes the dogs bark in the back yard when they see a person or another dog coming too close to the fence. There's an old, crotchety German Shepherd who lives behind us (my neighborhood doesn't have alleys – there's just chain link between us) and he occasionally ruffles some feathers. I'll walk out and tell them, “That old man isn't bothering anybody, leave him alone, come back over here and finish your business,” and they do. They really don't pay him much mind anymore. At this point, I'm almost convinced the old man barks at them out of loneliness and boredom than anything else. He's never tried to get into our yard and isn't really a threat.

I spent most of yesterday in Tucumcari working three cases where the courts had deemed the dogs dangerous and they needed me to come do evaluations. What I think of those cases is neither here nor there; I was exhausted by the time I got home and my back wasn't doing me any favors. I've been trying to recover from a back injury from two years ago stemming from another dog fight where I fell on some concrete. I just can't drive or bend or lift things like I used to. I got old faster than I should have.

I usually scan my back yard to make sure everything is safe when I let my boys outside. Mainly to make sure nobody has tampered with my gate or left it open. Last night the gate seemed fine, so I let them out. It was already dark, and I didn't see the black dog who had gotten into my yard. I had already turned my back to come inside when I heard the barking and commotion. I ran back out because I knew something was horribly wrong. I didn't see how it started and it didn't matter. Beau had the other dog by the neck and it was SERIOUS. I had to do something, or somebody was going to die.

Would I call Beau an aggressive dog? NO. At this moment in time was he acting aggressively? YES.

There are several “standard” ways to break up a dog fight. When I have clients with aggression issues, I like to leave them with as many tools as possible, because in a state of panic, you're likely to forget most of them. The number one rule is always, “DON'T STICK YOUR HAND WHERE THE TEETH ARE!”

If it's a minor, snarly situation, I've had clients stick a cookie sheet between the dogs to break off eye contact. It can work. Another thing that can and has worked for me is grabbing the dog by the base of its tail (as close to the body as possible) and pulling straight out. (On a long tailed dog, you don't want to grab and pull the end of it because you can break it.) Another possibility is grabbing the dog by its back leg pits (up towards the genitals – NOT the feet) and lifting them up off the ground; they're likely to let go to turn around and see what's happening. It's worked for me with some pit bulls and even boxers. For a small dog, if you can pick the dog up, pick the dog up. With tiny jaws (think Chihuahua or Yorkie or whatever) in a grip, you can stick your thumb and middle finger at the back back of their jaw (like, where human wisdom teeth would be) and pinch around the muzzle. That usually works. Sometimes squirting a dog in the face with a water hose works. When their nose is full of water, they open their mouth to breathe. I've heard citronella spray works too, although I haven't tried it myself yet. Another tip in dog world lore is to stick your finger in the dog's anus. I can only imagine the shock it would induce but this is another one I haven't personally tried yet and just can't bring myself to do because I rarely carry rubber gloves in my pocket. Not that I'm a stranger to dog poop, but just... EW. Another person whose seminar I recently watched said that if it's a dog you aren't familiar with, punch it in the face, kick it in the gut - go full on Fight Club - do whatever you have to do to get it off your dog. I'm sure it's effective, but it's not going to be my first choice.

Beau had what could have easily been described as a death grip on this dog's neck, and my two smaller dogs were trying to “help.” Occasionally the little ones would get pummeled, roll away yelping, then come back into the fray. I would never recommend dealing with four dogs as a singular person but at this point there was zero time to call for help.

There were teeth happening everywhere. “Don't stick your hands where the teeth are!” Yeah, check. I didn't have a cookie sheet in my sweatpants but it wouldn't have worked anyway. I grabbed Beau by the base of his tail and started pulling with everything I had in me. I wasn't just pulling Beau, I was pulling Beau and the dog connected to his face, along with my two smaller dogs who were latched onto the intruder dog's back legs. Nobody was letting go of anything and I was falling out of my slippers. I kicked them off, and now had only my socks for traction. I kept pulling and kept pulling, for at least 50 feet (my back yard is pretty big), until I could reach the water hose. Holding Beau's tail with one hand, I managed to turn the faucet on and grab the hose with the other hand. I sprayed him in the face. Nothing happened. It was wound up on the wall and got kinked. I let go to get more hose unraveled. Beau's tail was wet now and there was no gripping it. I sprayed and sprayed. Nothing. My socks were soaked and muddy, my pants were sopping wet, it was literally freezing outside, my back was giving out, I could barely breathe from the combination of screaming and adrenaline... I was quickly running out of energy and options.

Punching and kicking my own dog was absolutely out of the question. He loves me, he trusts me, he's protecting me and his “brothers”; I'm not about to break that trust by breaking his ribs. The fight had now meandered back across the yard and around my garage into the dark. Luckily, the water situation had caused my smaller dogs to decide they no longer wanted any part of these shenanigans. At least it was down to two dogs now. I tried grabbing Beau's leg pits but not only are we the same size, I didn't have enough energy for it to make any difference. I did the only thing I had left that I could think of to do. I grabbed Beau's collar, making a fist and twisted it, pulling up, to cut off his air supply. It took a few seconds but it worked. He finally let go. Thank God I didn't. As the other injured dog jumped back over my fence to run away, Beau was still trying to go after him. With the last air I had left in my lungs I screamed, “Beau, PLEASE STOP!!” Now that the other dog was out of sight, he was able to tune back into me. He turned around and looked at me as if to say, “Oh, hey, mom! What's up? Did I do a good job!?” That's the only part where I might have wanted to punch him in the face a little, but my main concern was getting everybody back into the house and safe.

The other guy put up a hell of a fight, I'll give him that. 

Then again, so did I.

My boyfriend left work to come give Beau a bath and get his wounds cleaned. I couldn't feel my legs for nearly two hours and I'm still having coughing fits today. It sucked. Hard. But we're all mostly okay. 

That wasn't where our night ended – there wound up being another dog in the yard later but this time Beau was on a leash, I had four cop cars, a neighbor, and animal control in my driveway – but that's where I'll end the story.

Of course, I'd rather prevent a dog fight before it happens but that's not always how life works. So, in my personal and professional opinion, if you have to break up a dog fight, reach for the back of the dog's collar (away from the teeth), twist and pull. If that doesn't work, good luck on the rest of it.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Just Deserts

Around this time last year I wrote a story about some pit bull puppies (“I'm All Ears”); I went to the shelter to look at them and to see if the statement I'd heard, “They have the worst ear crop jobs I've ever seen,” was accurate. What I found that day was so infuriating, it spurred me to take the entire next month off work to do legal research on animal cruelty laws in Texas.

The torture those puppies endured should have been a state jail felony. I went back to the shelter to ask the “higher ups” in charge of Animal Control (what it was named at the time) if they'd filed any cruelty charges against the “owner” of these puppies. They hadn't, and told me that the man would be allowed to come back and reclaim them because “Those dogs are his property, he can do anything he wants to them.” Really? Is that your final answer? “You can't prove those puppies weren't taken to a vet.” Oh, yeah, because the guy told you he took them to a vet, you're just going to take his word for it? Does it honestly look to you like a vet did that? He can't prove he did take them to a vet. Because he didn't. I even found a witness but that didn't matter because people in management positions at the time didn't want to do the paperwork. I was told I had to have a picture of the man with the tool in his hand, IN the act of cutting those puppies apart, in order for them to have the “proof” they needed to file charges.

That litter of puppies is what got me to City Hall to make sure our laws got changed. That litter of puppies is why it's finally illegal in this town to perform surgical procedures on animals in your kitchen.

I wish I'd written more about our fight against the injustice that the animals here have suffered for FAR too long but I was too busy trying to get things done to stop and write a story about it. I say “our fight” because I didn't do it alone; the bonds I forged with the people behind the scenes – who were working just as hard as I was with little to no credit - are some that will last the rest of my life. Part of that story is that the people who gave me the answers I didn't like, the people who didn't want to fuss with paperwork, the people who told me that cutting dogs apart with no anesthesia was “no big deal” (the previous Director and Assistant Director of what was formerly known as Amarillo Animal Control), have now “retired.” We ALL celebrated that day. Well, I'm sure they didn't; I'm sure they're both still plotting my assassination, but don't ask me if I give a $#%*.

This is the ONE dog who made it out of that litter with her ears intact. I met her when her owners called me to do a training session with her. She's so sweet and so smart; she accomplished the equivalent of three lessons in her first hour.

It's because of her that I know who mangled her other ten siblings and left her mother dead and rotting in a trash can. Well, it's because of her I knew his “street name.” I couldn't figure out his real name on my own, but the officer who called me to come look at the dogs initially found his “Christian given” name from the paperwork when he came to reclaim the dogs they'd confiscated. Even with this knowledge, there was nothing we could do; he already had the dogs back.

It is a FACT that people who breed dogs for fighting - or as it's sometimes called in the streets, “entertainment” - are statistically likely to be involved in other illegal activities. It is a FACT that people who abuse animals are likely to be involved in other acts of domestic violence against women, children, or anyone else who might get in their way. It is a FACT that I wish more "justice" was served to these people. It is also a fact that this is not often the case.

Except for today.

Looks like “Freeze” done went and got himself popped by the po-lice. I'm thinking about printing out his mugshot and having it framed. I'll hang it in the laundry room and smile at him every time I walk out the back door to pick up dog turds.

Here's the highlight of the article from the Amarillo Globe News:

Federal authorities have charged an Amarillo man with cocaine trafficking.

Michael Robert Carver, 29, was charged Tuesday in Amarillo’s U.S. District Court with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.

Carver, alias “Freeze,” was among at least four defendants indicted on federal methamphetamine trafficking charges in Amarillo in May, according to redacted federal court records.”

(For the rest of the article, click here: Amarilloan faces drug trafficking charges)

We had to go the long way around to get there, but it seems as though justice might FINALLY be served. Even if he'd been charged with animal cruelty, he probably would have just gotten a slap on the wrist because torturing dogs is “no big deal” to a lot of people in our local legal system. Still. Even after all the work we've done, there's still plenty more left to do. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that the prosecutors don't consider cocaine and methamphetamine trafficking in the same light - “No big deal.” 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Yard Check

Karma finally came back to bite me for every time I rolled my eyes at people who said their dogs got lost because someone must have opened their gate and let them out.

Everyone knows how VERY diligent I am about my boys' safety. I regularly check my gate to make sure it's closed securely. It's wonky and REALLY hard to get open, so it's just as hard to get it shut. But nobody had been here. Nobody had been in or out of my yard in at least a week. I'd checked the gate 100 times since then and it was fine. It was fine at 4:00 yesterday afternoon, so when I let the boys out around 6:30 last night I had no reason to think otherwise. I went back to watching TV and shortly thereafter, Chicken Wing came and perched on top of the couch to watch with me. Everything seemed perfectly normal.

I got a call from a former Animal Control officer and thought nothing of it. What's up, dude? "Is Beau with you?" I checked his crate. I checked my bedroom. I checked the office. I looked outside and saw my gate open. I immediately went into a terror panic, running up the middle of the street screaming, with her still on the phone. An Animal Welfare and Management truck was heading up the street straight at me (she was in my neighborhood on another call and had recognized my dog). She pointed and I saw Beau trotting up the sidewalk. Luckily, he came to me with relative ease, and I was able to get him home safely. I started screaming for Cheeto. He was gone too.

As the AMW officer and I continued to scour every street in my neighborhood (with me sobbing uncontrollably) I got a call from a sweet young lady who lived several streets farther away than where we were looking. She and her daughters had found Cheeto, wet and scared, but otherwise relatively unscathed. They had him back to me in a matter of minutes but it felt like an eternity pacing my sidewalk. I gave them every dollar in my wallet because I felt like I couldn't thank them enough for bringing my boy home. It was only $14, so it's not like they won the lottery, but maybe she got the girls some ice cream.

The moral to this story is that no matter how careful you are, accidents still happen. Although, I'm convinced this was no accident; my gate didn't accidentally "fall" open. Someone with a grudge WANTED me to lose my dogs, and it worked. People really ARE mean just to be mean. So, take an extra second to check your yard next time you let your dogs outside. It may seem silly, but it might also save their lives.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

I'm All Ears

I got a message recently about going to see some pit bull puppies. Because of the content of said message, I knew this wasn't going to be a happy visit. I knew I would be angry and eventually cry. Both of those emotions stood true.

When you Google “dog ear cropping,” very shortly down the list of suggestions is “dog ear cropping at home.” My stomach began to turn at even the question being so popular. The first result is a site which answers thusly: "For the sake of your dog do NOT cut its ears at home." 

I'd copy the entire article but that's pretty much all you need to know. Even when it's done “correctly” I still get emotional about the subject because it just isn't necessary. It's cosmetic - period. Here's an example of a beautiful dog who's probably papered and clearly had his surgery (and it's a serious surgery) done by a veterinarian somewhere between 6 and 12 weeks of age:

A friend of mine sent me that picture on Facebook thinking I'd probably comment with a smiley emoticon. Instead, I replied with outrage because they didn't NEED to do it. To me, it doesn't make the dog look any more handsome than he would have been naturally.

It's illegal in many countries and most states to crop a dog's ears yourself. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is opposed to ear cropping for cosmetic purposes, and encourages the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking from breed standards.

From the Textbook of Small Animal Surgery: “The veterinary procedure is known as cosmetic otoplasty. Current veterinary science provides no medical, physical, environmental or cosmetic advantage to the animal from the procedure, leading to concerns over animal cruelty related to performing unnecessary surgery on the animals. In addition to the bans in place in countries around the world, it is described in some veterinary texts as "no longer considered ethical."

If you've ever had your ears pierced, you know the pain associated with a tiny hole that you chose to put there. Sometimes months of redness, swelling, hotness, and possible infection. Now imagine having half your ear cut OFF while you're under NO anesthesia. If you're lucky, it might be with a really sharp butcher knife. If you're not lucky, it's probably done with some rusty scissors or maybe garden shears.

When it's done by a vet (and some vets won't do the procedure at all) the puppy is anesthetized so that the puppy will stay still, he doesn't feel the pain of being cut, they can somewhat control the bleeding, both ears look the same, the scarring is controlled, and the risk of infection is minimized. After the surgery, the ears are stitched or glued, put in splints (or taped) to train the ears to stand erect until the cartilage hardens with age, and bandaged to reduce the risk of infection and bleeding. The puppy will also receive antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication. There needs to be a follow up visit to monitor the injuries for infection, scarring, and potential injuries and irritation from the splints or tape.

But if you're a backyard breeder with no heart or compassion who only cares about how many dollars you can make off the dog, THIS happens:

This sweet little girl was found with nine of her siblings, ALL in this condition. (With the exception of another female on the property, found dead and rotting in a trash can.) The puppies are at least 4 months old (probably closer to 6 - they're HUGE) and this was done recently.


You can't tell me this isn't cruel. Well, physically I suppose you can, but I'll never think it isn't. Those babies were so squiggly and excited to see anyone come to show them any affection, I picked her up to have this picture taken. She immediately froze. I could tell she'd never been picked up before... she'd never been held or loved. And THAT IS CRUEL.

They were all incredibly sweet and although physically fed, they were emotionally starved. I got into the kennel with them so that they would know what love was, even if only for a few minutes. As much as I wanted to cry, I made sure to hold it back until I left. I didn't want them to think I was sad. I wanted them to know that I was happy to see them and grateful for their kisses.

They were initially awkward and unsure of themselves. They inspected me for quite some time before they figured out I was happy to let them crawl on me. Once they knew it was cool, it got at little rowdy though. I lost my glasses and my hat at one point but I don't remember any other time I was so pleased to do so.

I want to know why the person who did this to these beautiful babies isn't in jail. I've been doing research since I came home and can't find a specific law in Texas that makes this kind of mutilation illegal. I think the best shot they have is a general one.

In Texas, two types of laws protect animals from cruelty: civil laws and criminal laws. The laws are similar but differ in the penalties they impose.

In a civil case, if a judge rules that a person or people have been cruel to animals, the judge may take away their animals and/or order them to pay restitution.

If prosecuted in a criminal case, a person may face penalties including fines, jail or both. Those under the age of 18 are also required to undergo counseling if convicted of animal cruelty.

Section 42.09 "Cruelty to Livestock Animals" and 42.09(2) "Cruelty of Non-Livestock Animals" of the Texas Health and Safety Code prohibits a person from intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cruelly treating an animal. The following actions define cruel punishment:
  1. Torturing an animal
  2. Failing to provide food, care or shelter
  3. Abandoning an animal
  4. Transporting or confining an animal in a cruel manner
  5. Killing, seriously injuring or poisoning an animal
  6. Causing an animal to fight with another
  7. Using a live animal as a lure in a dog race
  8. Tripping a horse
  9. Injuring an animal belonging to another person
  10. Seriously overworking an animal.

By seriously and intentionally injuring these animals, I believe that to be torture. Granted, it's not the same barbaric torture many animals endure, but it's torture nonetheless.

It isn't ignored everywhere... just here: ""This man's practice of cropping the dogs' ears without a license and this covered about a five state area, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, even Florida," said Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton."  http://www.kjrh.com/dpp/news/local_news/a-man-is-arrested-for-allegedly-performing-illegal-operations-on-dogs

If you'd like to know more about me and what I do, click either link below:

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Be Humane


Characterized by tenderness, compassion, and sympathy for people and animals, especially for the suffering or distressed
Merciful, kind, kindly, kindhearted, tender, compassionate, gentle, sympathetic; benevolent, benignant, charitable

I started working for the Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society just about a year ago, give or take a couple of weeks. I was already somewhat familiar with the facility, having performed my volunteer hours there in order to gain my Certification to become a Dog Trainer. In addition to that, I'd been there several times just being a resident of Amarillo.

The Humane Society is essentially the adoption arm of Amarillo's Animal Control. APHS is housed on the same property as Animal Control, and must therefore abide by the City's rules and regulations. This means it is a kill facility.

When a stray animal is picked up by Animal Control, it has three days to be reclaimed by its owners. If it has a name tag, rabies tag, or microchip, the owners are contacted and have five days to retrieve their animal. Unfortunately, the identifiable pets are in the minority. (There are a total of 8 buildings on the property with one reserved for tagged animals; the building is smaller and usually has the fewest dogs in it.) Even then, the owners often refuse to pay the impoundment fees and leave their animals there to die.

The lucky ones who are extended by the Humane Society are granted an extra five day stay in hopes that the small amount of time will be enough to find them a new, loving home. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Through breed specific rescues and external foster programs, an additional number of animals get a ticket out. Because of the Humane Society's new Executive Director and the staff she assembled, adoption rates are higher and euthanasia rates were lower while I was there than they had been in the history of its existence.

Saving lives was important work for me. It was also the hardest work I've ever done. Not just physically (working outside in snow or 100+ degree heat, carrying huge dogs who refuse to walk on a leash because they're so frightened they just shut down), but mentally and emotionally. The staff tried to prepare me for what I was about to endure with pep-talks and warnings... but no amount of second-hand stories can prepare you for the horror or the atrocities that humans do to animals on a daily basis.

My first day on the job, I went with a co-worker to pick up a litter of kittens from the vet. The vet had diagnosed them with feline leukemia. Perfectly happy and healthy kittens are euthanized every day because there aren't enough homes. We certainly couldn't adopt out the sick ones. We took them directly to the EU room and my partner asked me, “Do you want to wait and watch?” Do I want to watch them die? That's enough for day one, thanks. I'll skip it. (Although I would later carry several animals back who were severely injured and hold them while they were injected so that they would know someone was with them. I figured if it was going to be their last breath, they should know that someone cared. Even if it made me cry.)

At the end of my first week, I was given a stack of “yellows” (the carbon copy we received of the intake form from Animal Control) and told to go match them up to the puppies in the kennels of the puppy building. If there wasn't a dog matching the description on the sheet, I marked a blue line through it and kept counting. Those puppies hadn't been adopted. They hadn't been reclaimed. I was counting dead puppies. I drank myself to sleep that night.

Some time during my first month, a family came in to reclaim their missing pit bull. I was relieved, knowing that more of those die than any other type of dog. One more reclaim is one less death sentence. I went to the kennel with the family to leash their dog and could tell the dog was horribly frightened, even at the sight of his own family. Something was wrong. What dog wouldn't be happy to finally see his family and get busted out of jail? As we got closer to the door of the Humane Society, one of the bigger kids said something ugly and kicked the dog. I stopped, stuck my finger in his face, and said as sternly as I could without yelling, “Do NOT kick the dog!” He was stunned for a second but I could tell it hadn't made much of a difference. Within a few minutes, I found out why. I watched the dad of the family drag the dog out to their truck, pick him up by the skin of his neck and his back legs, and pile drive him face first into the bed of the truck. I was FURIOUS.

I went next door to Animal Control to tell them what I'd seen. “Isn't anybody gonna DO anything!?” Nope. According to Texas state law, the dog is that man's property. He can do anything to it that he wants. I was told to let it go. Walk away. Don't get involved. It's none of your business. “If you actually CARE about this job, you'll lose your damn mind.” The Director of AC tried to console me by telling me to give it about a week and if I still remembered, I could have an officer dispatched to their address to do a welfare check on the dog. I wasn't going to forget.

Exactly one week later, I asked dispatch to send an officer out for a welfare check. The dog was outside on a chain, dead in their yard. No tickets. No charges of animal cruelty. No prosecution. NOTHING. “Let it go?” I couldn't.

I came home that night and vented my frustrations on Facebook. I posted a video of L7's song “Shit List” with a caption naming the owners of the dog. “This is for …... whose dog is dead now because I didn't stab them in the face when I had the chance.” (The face stabbing isn't really a thing I would have done. I admit I was being emotional.) Animal Control supervisors saw it and called MY supervisor who then called me and said I had been instructed to remove it immediately. “They might know she posted it, and we can't have that.” I was actually hoping that someone I knew would forward it to them. I wanted them to know I posted it. I wanted them to know that someone was watching and that what they had done was deplorable. Legally, I wasn't even allowed to publicly humiliate them. Within a week, my supervisor had a new list of employee regulations and guidelines we all had to sign, including the promise that we would never speak of or mention anything regarding business of the shelter in public or on social media.

I cried almost every day. Every face behind every kennel trying to claw their way out while screaming for affection would seep their story into my soul. The heart-wrenching indifference of humans was turning me into one of those animals who saw people as the predators. Because I cared - just as I had been warned - my sanity was in serious jeopardy.

I was regularly called a “murderer” for working in a kill shelter. It didn't matter that I poured everything I had into my job and often went above and beyond what it took to get every animal I could into a decent home. Nobody who works for the Humane Society or Animal Control WANTS to see animals die. They certainly don't enjoy it. An overwhelming majority of them are on medication because of it, myself included. It's because of the general public – not the animal staff – that thousands of animals in our area per year have to die. They die because of neglect. They die from starvation by people who don't realize they need to eat every day. They die from lack of medical treatment. They die because people have litter after litter after litter of unwanted puppies who have no homes. They die because people can't be bothered with flea and tick treatments. They die because they chewed on a rug when they didn't have any toys. They die because they're given as gifts to people who didn't want them. They die because people don't have fences and dogs break chains. They die because people let their dogs out and when they get picked up, they don't want to pay their tickets.

The people at Animal Control aren't the bad guys. I've gone to bat for them publicly on more than one occasion. They have incredibly hard jobs and get bashed way more often than they deserve. Then there came a time when they needed me to do it again, but I'd signed that nifty “shut-it” clause. If I wrote anything in their defense, it would first have to be approved by my immediate supervisor, then the board of directors for HS, then finally the City Commission. I wound up posting my story anonymously.

The people at AC are there to keep people and animals safe. Sure, you're upset about your tickets, but would you rather have had your dog hit by a car? Possibly picked up by a stranger who tossed it into a dog fighting ring? (Those aren't just Pit Bulls, by the way. People use Boxers, Dalmatians, Ridgebacks, Rottweilers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, cattle dogs, and even smaller ones who would never be seen as “vicious” by normal standards. Having a Beagle or a Yorkie doesn't keep them safer from sociopaths.) Or perhaps left to their own devices, roaming the streets for months until they starve to death? Is THAT better? No, it isn't. At least when they're picked up and put in a kennel they have safety from the elements, food and water until you come to get them. IF you come to get them. If not, it is then squarely on the shoulders of the Humane Society staff to do their best to clean up the mess with which you couldn't be bothered.

One day I was walking through the Quarantine building for sick and injured animals. I don't remember what I was looking for but what I found knotted my stomach. At first, I couldn't tell if it was the worse case of mange I'd ever seen or if it was something else. My fears were confirmed when it was decided this boy had actually been set on fire. I knew that nobody was going to reclaim him. I knew that he would be dead by the end of the week. All I could do was talk to him and try to comfort him with pain pills and treats.

In this particular instance, I knew that no cruelty charges would ever be filed. No one knew who owned him and nobody knew who did this to him. Nothing would ever be done to the monsters who sealed this dog's fate. I'm positive they're roaming the streets today and this couldn't have possibly been their only victim. Granted, that's me assuming this wasn't an accident. It could have been, but I don't find it very likely.

People often forget that there is a direct correlation between animal abuse and people abuse. People living in a household with someone who can do this to an animal, will likely face domestic violence issues themselves. That's not just me being emotional about it - it's a FACT.

There was another case with a dog named “Sponge Bob.” He came in with a broken jaw and a dried up, dangling eye. He'd been that way for a while. The owner signed him over to be euthanized because she didn't want to pay the vet bill. The Humane Society decided to pay for it and got him to a vet. According to the vet, the dog wasn't hit by a car as the owner claimed must have happened. The break to his jaw was too clean. And since it was the eye on the opposite side of the broken jaw that had come out, the vet determined that the dog was most likely kicked with such force to the jaw that his eye had been dislocated from the socket. Now, because I didn't personally see what happened, I was told not to make any declarations or assumptions which is usually the wise decision. However, once the previous owner of the dog admitted that she had seen her grown, 40+ year old son repeatedly kick her animals, there was very little doubt in my mind as to whom the offender was. And wouldn't you know it, as soon as the vet bills had been taken care of through the generous donations of strangers, the woman decided she wanted the dog back. 

Nobody saw it happen though, so it couldn't be proved. His mother certainly isn't going rat out her own son. Once again, animal cruelty charges won't be filed. And I was once again reprimanded for being too sensitive.

When DO animal cruelty charges get filed? That's the million dollar question I'm still trying to figure out. APHS employs the ONE person who is certified to investigate animal cruelty in the top twenty-six counties in Texas. ONE girl – twenty-six counties. Needless to say, she's a little overwhelmed.

The trick to this is that the Humane Society can only investigate inquiries outside Amarillo city limits. Since that's the case, the sheriff's department of the offender's county must first be contacted. If the Sheriff doesn't feel like picking up the case because his county doesn't have the time or resources (or give-a-damn) to deal with it, it's out the window. There are endless amounts of red tape that prevent these prosecutions.

Earlier this year we were involved with some hoarding seizures from a woman in Dalhart. Our cruelty investigator had been dealing with this woman for four years and couldn't get anything done to her. There were finally enough people involved that the news outlets started paying attention. Once the spotlight was on the officers, they had to do something. After THREE seizures back to back on different properties, more than a hundred animals in total were confiscated. She finally served a few days in jail.

Aside from that one case, I haven't really seen any others prosecuted. I've never heard of ONE inside the city limits. Why is that? “It's none of your business.” Well, then whose business IS it?

Amarillo Animal Control officers are allowed to give tickets for inadequate food, shelter, and water. That's about it. Their hands are tied because there aren't any laws in place to back them up. Even if there were laws in place in defense of the animals, AC is only there to write tickets. They can't prosecute any of them. That would be the Potter County District Attorney's office. Someone needs to ask them why they're letting people get away with murder.

Some of the more observant readers may have noticed that I previously mentioned I haven't been legally allowed to speak about any of these things. “What makes you able to talk about them NOW?”

They can't fire me now. Here's why:

On Tuesday, July 2, I went to work just like every other day. We've recently been painfully understaffed and it was often down to me and one other girl in the office (who is due to have her baby in 2 days, which left me with a lot of the legwork). I took a call from a sobbing and belligerent woman in Indiana because her pit bull had shown up in our tagged building. I went next door to the AC office to check on the dog's paperwork before I could decide if it was worth the effort to try and put together a transport for the dog across the country.

While I was standing there, a man came in with another pit bull to drop it off. He said he was moving and couldn't take it with him. It happens every day. Knowing that “owner donates” who are dropped off with AC are taken straight to the back room to be put down, the girl behind the counter said, “Sheaaaa, come look at this beautiful dog! Could you guys put him up for adoption?” I exhaled a sigh of exhaustion and went around the counter to see the dog, even though I knew he had about a 1% chance of ever being adopted (and that's a 1% chance IF he's exceptionally well-mannered and has been perfectly socialized). I knelt down sideways and reached my hand out for him to sniff it. He growled. Studying animal behavior is what I do every day. It's not just a hobby for me. I knew exactly what that dog was thinking and precisely why he reacted the way he did. He was scared senseless and had NO idea what was going on. His owner obviously didn't know that or didn't care and proceeded to smack the daylight out of his dog. Right in the face. Right in front of me. 

Imagine being less than 1/4 the size of your protector. Now imagine being dragged into a strange place and not knowing why. Imagine only being able to sense that something is wrong and that your life is about to change drastically without being able to do anything about it. Imagine cowering in fear. Imagine being able to hear hundreds of other animals crying simultaneously just outside the door. Imagine being able to smell the rotting corpses of the other animals who didn't get adopted out and wondering if you were next. Imagine vocalizing your fear in the only way you know how to, and then getting beaten in the face for it by the only person on earth who is supposed to care for you.

Within a fraction of a second, I DID imagine all those things. I felt that dog's heart racing inside my own chest. I was helpless and angry and disgusted, all at the same time. And I snapped.

Before I knew what was happening, I saw my hand raise itself into the air. My brain flickered a futile synapse, “Stop!” But before the command of logic had processed, it was too late. The damage had been done and could not be reversed.

As rumors spread, surely the legend of what happened that day will grow. Years from now, I will have knocked out the man's teeth and given him a concussion. That's not really what happened. Dude got popped upside the head. It wasn't any harder than a mother smacking the hand of her toddler for picking up a piece of candy it shouldn't have... if that toddler is muscular and 6'3” tall.

I went on about my business. Back at the Humane Society office, I called next door and apologized about the happenings. The girl who answered said that the same man was on his way to our office. He was there before she finished her sentence.

I gave him our intake sheet for him to fill out but wanted him to know that I was doing him a favor. I apologized for my reaction while I pulled out my business card with a picture of my dog Beau on it. I told the man, “This is my dog.” I pointed at pictures on the wall of my other two (now deceased) pits and said, “Those were my dogs.” He said, “You got pits?” Yes, I do. And that's why I'm sensitive about their abuse. We went back and forth and I promised I would do everything I could to help get his dog into a new home. He thanked me for my help and shook my hand. I thought that was the end of it. It almost was.

At closing time, I saw my boss come in the office with the Vice President of the Humane Society board. I didn't take the time to consider it odd because I was in the middle of an adoption with some other people. Everyone was smiling and laughing and taking pictures. I congratulated them and they went on their way.

Then I heard, “I need to see you in my office.” Okay. Even in that instance I still had no idea anything was wrong. I casually said, “What's up?” She looked at me with confusion and disappointment and said, “Did you HIT somebody today!?” Oh. That. Yeah. I guess I wasn't supposed to do that, huh? Is that gonna be a problem? “You did it AT Animal Control, ON city property, AND in front of witnesses. It's a HUGE problem.” I hung my head in shame as I finally came to process the situation. I knew I couldn't explain why I did what I did, and I certainly couldn't defend it or justify it. I looked at her and said, “I understand you gotta do what you have to do.” Because my supervisor is also a very dear friend to me, I know it put a dagger in her heart to tell me, “I have to let you go.” I had put her in the position where she didn't have any other choice. I'd finally become too much of a liability. It wasn't the first time the word “liability” had been tossed in my direction, but it was the last I'd hear it in that building. We all knew from day one it was only a matter of time... and the time had come.

All too often I heard the words, “I don't know how you do it; I couldn't do it.” Well, apparently I couldn't do it either. Not for much longer than a year.

I only sulked for a day or two before I started seeing it as a gift. “Emancipation” is a fitting word. My heart wanted a way out but my mind kept telling me I was needed there. The way in which it finally unraveled was the easiest ticket the universe could have possibly handed me. It kept me from leaving in the back of a cop car or in a straight jacket. Either of the aforementioned routes would have been highly unpleasant, although highly plausible as well. I don't begrudge anyone on staff for the way things happened. That was all MY bad and I'll own it. I still love, respect, and miss them dearly. Someone has to keep doing the work that I'm not able to do.

I wanted more time to read and study. I've got that now. I wanted more time to do the job I love – training people and their dogs. I've got that now. I longed for the ability to use what I learned in my year at the Humane Society as an opportunity to teach people through writing about it. I've got that now. As for my sanity? That has yet to be determined.

Feel free to follow my training adventures at https://www.facebook.com/DogTrainingBySheaWhite

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pet First Aid

I recently attended a lecture (or seminar, or class, or whatever you wan to call it) given by the American Red Cross on First Aid for Dogs and Cats. Most of the first aid you'd need to give a cat is the same as it is for dogs with slightly different handling techniques. Mainly, don't get your face slashed off, but that's a pretty good rule of thumb in ANY scenario.

Because I care deeply about the accuracy of the information I absorb, I had a lot of questions during this particular presentation. I've been patching up dogs from minor accidents for as long as I can remember and have always used basics from my medicine cabinet. Since they were selling “Pet First Aid Kits” after the presentation, my first question was “Is there a difference between a Pet first aid kit and a People first aid kit?” The answer I got was “Yes,” but with no elaboration. I can only assume this was in order to sell me a new kit. The "teacher" was also there to show us how to accurately perform CPR and how to find a pulse on an animal, even though she admittedly couldn't find a pulse on her own dog. I'll do my best to refrain for any additional smarmy comments, but you may rest assured I won't be recommending anyone spend their hard-earned money on this course. Bear in mind, this is NOT a slam on the American Red Cross in general - just this one particular person who was visibly irritated by the presence of anyone who might question her lack of knowledge on the curriculum she was chosen to teach. Rant over. Moving on.

Because I'm prone to accidents myself, I've got a medicine cabinet overflowing with random items I've accumulated for the past 20 years. Gauze, ointments, pills, ace-bandages, knee braces... you name it, it's probably in there. If something in there doesn't fix what's wrong, it's probably time for a trip to the emergency room. To answer my own question – and one you've probably asked yourself by now – there really isn't much difference between a pet first aid kit and one you may have for yourself.

BUT! Even though people normally have things around the house, most people rarely have a sufficient stock for their vehicles. Accidents are just as likely to happen elsewhere, especially during spring and summer when you may be traveling with your pets to somewhere as simple as the park for a stroll.

I went ahead and bought a “Pet First Aid Kit” for my truck (mainly just so I wouldn't have to waste the time it took to purchase the individual items). I opted for the “fanny pack” version as opposed to the “in a box with a handle” version so that I could strap it to the head rests and not worry about it sliding around in the back where the dogs usually ride. One misstep by my beloved Beau would have smashed a plastic box into a thousand pieces. If you have a place in your car to safely store a box and that's easier for you, go for it. Here's mine:

Now, to see what's IN it:

In this bag, there are three zippered compartments. Everything came in the middle, so I just put things where they seemed most logical to me.

In the front pocket, I have two sets of rubber gloves, and that thing that looks like a pen is actually a tiny flashlight. People who work with dogs for a living are used to being covered in things like vomit, fecal matter, blood, and any other assortment of bodily fluids all day. Eventually it tends to not bother you... but there might be that one accident by the side of the road that's just a little TOO gruesome for bare hands that you've decided to stop and help with. Gloves are almost never a bad idea to have around. And even if you carry a regular flashlight in your car for general safety purposes, having a smaller one on hand might help in case your dog gets something in his ear or down his throat. If your dog is choking on something, you may need to be able to see it in order to safely remove it.

In the back pocket, I've placed the bulkier items that were blocking my view of the smaller items I finally decided to place in the middle pocket. Here we have two different sizes of sterile gauze packets and three q-tips. Just use your imagination on the q-tips; I'm positive there are hundreds of uses for them. As for the gauze pads, it's best to keep several handy if you can. If your dog ever gets a laceration (or cut) that's bad enough he bleeds through one, DON'T REMOVE IT to replace it with another one. If the wound has started to coagulate, you're just going to open it up again by moving any gauze that's on it. Just put a new gauze pad on top of it and keep applying pressure while you're on your way to the vet because at this point, it would seem as though Fido needs some stitches.

Now we've come to the middle pocket where there are all sorts of nifty little gems.

Yes, that's a person on the thermal wrap. As I've previously implied, ALL these materials can be used for people too, because DUH. But whatever. If you live in a region where your dog may have fallen into an icy river, or perhaps gotten himself stuck in a snowbank, this could come in handy. It's quite similar to a huge sheet of aluminum foil; it's VERY fragile so if your dog freaks out and decides he's going to claw his way through it, he will. If your dog is freezing and you need his temperature up, you may want to put a towel (or a blanket if you have one, maybe an extra hoodie or jacket) on him first, then apply this to reflect back any heat. The fabric will keep him from tearing as many holes in the thermal wrap, as well as absorbing any excess moisture.

Next, we have more gauze. This is the long, wrap-around kind that you may need to dress a leg wound, or to secure the bigger gauze patch from earlier if there's a chest or rib area laceration. Most injured animals are going to want to bite, so if you absolutely have to, the longer gauze can also be used for a make-shift muzzle. Make a secure loop around the mouth (avoiding the nose), go back under the jaw, and make another loop behind the neck. This won't really work for a relatively non-snouted dog such as a French Bulldog or a Pug.

I'm forever finding reasons that I need scissors when I don't have some. (Please don't judge my manicure or lack thereof. I work in dog poop. I don't care.) Your dog may get tangled in something. You may need to shorten a rope to tie something somewhere. (Rope wasn't included in the first aid kit and I'm not trying to imply that it should have been. But rope is one of those things that I hate not having when I need it, so that's in a different pocket of my truck.) If you're in an area where there might be people fishing, your dog could wind up with a fish hook through his paw pad. Use the scissors (if they're strong enough) to cut off the end with the hook in order to safely remove it. Also, you're probably going to need these around to cut the extra gauze length from the previous picture.

Tweezers are another thing you always need when you don't have them. I'm not too sure what I think about these plastic ones yet, but I'd rather have a set of crappy tweezers than none at all. Use them to pull out stickers or broken glass, etc.

Of course, you'll need some ointment. If you can't find little packets like these, just get a regular tube. If your dog has long hair, make sure to sweep the fur aside before applying ointment to a wound. The ointment can actually help you “goop” the fur out of the way if you need to get some gauze on top of it.

If you suspect your dog has ingested something poisonous, don't call 911. They're going to yell at you that 911 is for people and hang up. You should call the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center for specific directions. Here's the number: 888-426-4435 (Enter it into your cell. Right now.) If you need to get your dog to vomit and can somehow get some Hydrogen Peroxide down his throat, don't forget to make sure the bottle is NEW. If it's been previously opened, it won't have the bubbles in it to make it work. This one is only 4 ounces and doesn't take up much room.

This might help you get the Peroxide where it needs to go:

Next is an ice pack... for when you need an ice pack.

Also, here are some eye drops... for when you need eye drops.

I'll save the picture of the tongue depressor because everyone knows what those look like (not to imply that most of you didn't know what scissors and tweezers are - I'm just tired of loading pictures). “But why would I need that!?” Well, mainly if your dog is choking on something and you're not really sure what it is. As soon as you try to look in your dog's throat, his tongue is going to back up and block your view. In addition to using it for its actual purpose, you can also use one to help build a splint if you have a smaller dog with a leg injury.

Lastly, we have a styptic pencil. The main ingredient in most of these is aluminum sulfate and it's used on cuts. Most groomers use a styptic powder for when they cut nails into the quick to stop the bleeding. (Before safety razors were invented, it was a standard part of shaving kits and was used to heal shaving cuts.) When applied directly to the wound, it constricts the surrounding tissue sealing the injured blood vessels. But be warned: it's gonna burn.

And there you have it! I'm sure there are other things you could find helpful in an emergency but this is a pretty thorough list. Keep in mind, if your dog has a severe injury, PLEASE use these items and methods on your way to your vet or an emergency care clinic.


(I knew I'd think of something later...)

This won't come in any emergency kit but I ALWAYS have some around the house. It's called Vetericyn and can be used to treat almost any wound. Hot spots, rain rot, rashes, post-surgical sites, burns, cinch fungus, ringworm, skin infections, scratches, eye infections, skin ulcers, thrush, and insect bites. The thing I love most about this is that I use it on ME all the time too!