Wordless Wednesday is a popular Internet Meme where bloggers post a picture, normally without comment. However, I’m adding a brief comment on this picture. I enjoy using Wordless Wednesday posts to bring various ideas from my blog to different communities that might now regularly read my blog.
I am attending Internet Week in New York. Hopefully, my regular readers will have picked that up already, as well as figured out that #IWNY is the hashtag for Internet Week.
The picture was taken of me wearing The Eyewriter, a project of the Not Impossible Foundation. Please check out their work. Friends on Facebook have already seen this photo and I wanted to bring it to a larger audience.
I remember a section in Winnie the Pooh, where Piglet asks, “Pooh, what is the first thing you think of in the morning?”
Pooh replies, “I wonder what’s for breakfast.”
Piglet responds, “I think about all the great, wonderful things that are going to happen to me.”
To this, Pooh says, “It’s the same thing.”
I thought of this today as I sat down to write this blog post. You see, every morning, I turn on my computer and find hundreds of new emails needing to be read. I think, “I wonder what’s in my inbox today.” Then, I think about all the great wonderful things that are going to happen to me today. Often, it is the same thing.
So, when I sat down this morning, I was thinking about writing blog posts about Connecticut politics, programming cellphones, and the evolving nature of online communications. Instead, I found a bunch of messages about animals in Connecticut.
The Stamford Advocate has an article about the Greenwich Animal Shelter being full. Greenwich is one of the better shelters in Connecticut. It works closely with Adopt-a-Dog, which is having an adoption day Saturday at Westhill High School in Stamford. As a result, Greenwich only kills about 8% of the dogs that get taken in, much better than the 13% statewide average. It is rare that they have to kill dogs because of lack of space. Instead dogs that are too sick, aggressive, or otherwise unadoptable are the only ones likely to get put down.
To make things worse, Canine Influenza is making the rounds in New York City.
Then, I received an email about the Meriden Humane Society. They work very closely with the Meriden Animal Control Officer. Meriden has a higher kill rate, with 15% of the dogs being killed. Some of this is because of the number of dogs they get from people abandoning them on the highway where I-91 and I-691 meet. Also, the numbers I have are older numbers, and the cooperation between the Meriden Animal Control Officer and the Meriden Humane Society has improved and I suspect that the next set of numbers I get will be lower. Like Greenwich, they are running out of space at the Meriden Human Society.
This was followed by an email about Vernon Animal Control. I don’t know much about what is going on in Vernon. They only have three dogs listed on their website, but they have an even higher kill rate than Meriden.
But the email that really got my attention as about Gemma, a deaf young pit bull at the Manchester Animal Shelter. Gemma has been there for three months and hasn’t had a lot of interest shown in her. She became aggressive over a rawhide and the animal control officer has decided to kill her.
While this horrified some rescuers, it did not come as a surprise. Dogs that have been at a shelter for an extended period can get a little kennel crazy and become harder to adopt. On top of this, Manchester is one of a handful of shelters that kills more dogs than it adopts out, and only two other such municipalities kill more dogs than Manchester.
Fortunately, it appears as if things are changing in Manchester and there is a concerted effort to save Gemma. We will have to see if it will if the efforts will bear fruit. If we are fortunate, perhaps a rescue organization like Adopt-A-Dog will form in Manchester.
Meanwhile, people concerned about adopting a dog may want to go to the Adopt-A-Dog adoption day mentioned above, in Stamford, or attend the Durham Pet Fair on Sunday where many great rescue groups will be bringing their dogs.
I wonder what’s for breakfast tomorrow.
Two weeks ago, I received a couple copies of an email about a couple of dogs at the Waterbury pound that were scheduled to be put to sleep. A team of animal rescuers managed to find a place for these dogs in Vermont and get them transported there. Meanwhile, another message went out about three dogs scheduled to be put to sleep in Hartford. At the last moment, all of them were saved as well.
Through this, I managed to get in touch with another group of animal rescuers in Connecticut.
One of them sent me the Department of Agriculture report, which I used for my post, Does Your Town Kill Dogs?. We got to talking, and just as the rescue of a dog from the Hartford Pound led to the creation of the Connecticut Underhound Railroad, this latest effort has brought people together into the Adopt CT First coalition. The goal of the group is to “Educate the public and increase awareness of the plight of homeless companion animals here in CT” and already we are seeing some great teamwork.
Some people expressed concern about Adopt CT First as discouraging out of state adoptions, and noted that the rescues that started both the CT Underhound Railroad and Adopt CT First involved taking dogs from Connecticut and finding them homes in other states. Yet Adopt CT First is not about exclusivity. Yes, there are many times that it makes sense to adopt a pet from another state, and even in some cases, from a breeder. Yet the goal of adopting pets from shelters as close to home as possible, whether or not the pets cross state lines, is one that all rescuers should be interested in.
A very large pet adoption event is taking place this weekend in at the Connecticut Expo Center in Hartford. What do we make of the Shelter Dog’s Rock Pet Expo? Some rescuers spoke of unfavorable interactions that they had had with Fred Acker, the show’s organizer in the past. Indeed, a background check of Mr. Acker does raise a few eyebrows. Some have expressed concern about the number of dogs being brought into the state while so many dogs continue to get put to sleep in our own municipal shelters, and some have expressed concern about the finances. This is a very large financial undertaking. Is it right to charge admission to an adoption event? Is the rate that he is charging vendors for booths fair? Another concern has been about the welfare of the dogs. It is stressful to be shipped nearly a thousand miles from a shelter in Georgia or South Carolina up to Hartford. How well are these dogs being treated?
Instead of relying on second or third hand emails, I did a bit of research. I checked court records about Fred Acker. I contacted his publicist. I spoke with Mr. Acker, himself, and I visited the Expo Center as they were setting up where I had plenty of time to speak with Mr. Acker and others.
I will leave issues of Mr. Acker’s background to others. All of us have issues in our backgrounds and we all need to decide how much the background of others affects our interactions. In my case, my interactions with Mr. Acker were all positive.
One of the things that Mr. Acker maintains is that the dogs he brings up from the south are typically young puppies and breeds that are not readily available here in Connecticut. Dogs like the ones he brings in from the south are highly adoptable and find homes very quickly. Indeed, there were some wonderful looking dogs at the Expo center. (For pictures, see my Flickr Page.)
As a general rule, they all seemed to be excited young puppies full of energy. There were a few dogs that seemed dejected, less energetic or sad. Yet I was also told that vets from two of the municipal shelters in the south accompanied the dogs and are assumedly making sure the dogs are treated properly.
Another concern is what sort of homes these dogs will find. While they may be highly adoptable, it would be horrible if they are kept as a pet for a few months until the owners get bored or some other life change causes the owners to give up the pet. Mr. Acker has requested people fill out an online application that he uses to pre-screen for people that might not be good pet owners. People that don’t fill out applications are interviewed at the pet show. In going through the online applications, Mr. Acker pointed out various people he was rejecting. He also pointed out a picture of Jay Baldwin, who has apparently recently been released from prison for animal abuse charges. Rescuers regularly have lists and sometimes pictures of people to whom you should not adopt animals, and Mr. Baldwin frequently shows up on that list.
How many dogs can the state handle? Mr. Acker notes that people attending the show come from all over the northeast, and not just from Connecticut. He believes that “it’s an unlimited market”. Others remain skeptical and suggestions have been made for ways to come up with a better sense of what the market will bear without making problems in local shelters worse.
As a financial undertaking, it is large. Not only is there a lot of money to be taken in from attendees, adoptions, renting booths, and so on, but there are a lot of expenses involved with renting the convention center, transporting the pets, and making sure they have proper medical care. In addition, Mr. Acker is hoping to use proceeds from the event to renovate an old building in Waterbury to be a large new pet shelter.
As a final note, Mr. Acker has said that he will keep any animals not adopted at the Expo at his shelter for later adoption.
Yet this not the only adoption event taking place in Connecticut in the next few days. On Sunday, from 12 to 2, the Friends of the New Haven Animal Shelter will hold an adoption event at the Petco at 2100 Dixwell Avenue in Hamden. Highlighted dogs include a dalmatian/terrier mix, a boxer, and a greyhound/terrier mix. It sounds like the set up to a joke, “So a Dalmatian, a Boxer, and a Greyhound walk into a shelter…” Hopefully, it will have a happy punch line.
The other big upcoming adoption event is the Second Annual Durham Pet Fair organized by Help Willy’s Friends. The pet fair will take place May 16th at the Coginchaug Regional High School, 135 Pickett Lane, Durham, CT.
Day in and day out, people across Connecticut are working together to rescue pets from shelters. Some find homes for dogs facing euthanasia in Connecticut municipal shelters. Others bring in dogs from shelters in the south with high kill rates. Still others organize adoption events and pet fairs around the state.
Please, if you are looking for a new pet, check Connecticut municipal shelters first. If you can’t find the right pet for your family there, check adoption events with dogs from out of state shelters. Most importantly, make sure your pet is properly cared for, including that they are spayed or neutered and not adding to the problem of overcrowded shelters across our country.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed working on recently, has been using Drupal modules for location and Google Maps to present information in a new ways. As an illustration, I’ve set up a page on the Adopt CT First website, to show where there are various shelters and adoption events in Connecticut.
Before I get into the geekiness of how I set this up, let me tell you a little bit about Adopt CT First. The goal of this new group is simple. It is to get people who live in Connecticut and are looking for a new pet to check their local shelters first. By getting more people aware of local shelters, we can hopefully get more dogs adopted, and less killed. We can get more people to make sure their pets are spayed or neutered so the population of the shelters doesn’t continue to grow, and we can encourage others to become more involved with helping at local shelters.
The odds are that you live in a town that kills dogs. Here in the United States, estimates run from 2.7 to 10 million dogs that are killed each year. There are many reasons dogs get killed in shelters. Some dogs are just too sick to save. Others may be too aggressive. Unfortunately, many are killed because no one wants them.
Many states do not track the number of dogs killed by animal control officers, but the Connecticut Department of Agriculture does track some of this information. Here in Connecticut, around 2,500 dogs picked up by animal control officers are killed each year, or about 13% of the dogs that get picked up. This appears to be less than many other states, but is still a problem.
Perhaps the most important thing to be done is to make sure that your dog is spayed or neutered. Beyond that, getting your next dog from a municipal shelter or a rescue group that works closely with local shelters can help reduce the number of dogs killed because of overcrowding in shelters.
Also, knowing how your town is doing, and encouraging animal control officers to work closely with volunteer rescue organizations can be a big help. According to Department of Agriculture numbers, over half of the dogs euthanized in Connecticut come from the state’s largest five cities. Yet looking more closely, there are some interesting numbers to note. The largest city in Connecticut is Bridgeport, which euthanized seven hundred dogs in the 2008-2009 reporting period. Yet Bridgeport, which is only ten percent larger in population than Hartford, killed nearly seven times as many dogs as Hartford.
There are many things that could contribute to this. Bridgeport does impound three times as many dogs as Hartford does. However, some of this may be because Hartford animal control officers work closely with volunteer rescuers to find homes for the impounded dogs. Dogs impounded in Hartford are much more likely to be adopted than dogs in Bridgeport.
To make the point even more strongly, Stamford, the fourth largest city in Connecticut, which is 15% smaller than Bridgeport only euthanized ten dogs during the same reporting period, or less than 2% of the dogs they impounded. Stamford makes a strong effort to be a no-kill pound, and it is reasonable to assume that these dogs were either too sick or too dangerous to be adopted out.
Stamford adopts out over thirty times as many dogs as they kill. Wallingford has a similar success rate as does North Branford and East Hartford, and several smaller towns. On the other hand, there are several small towns that euthanize dogs and during the reporting period did not adopt out any. Though you cannot tell if the one dog euthanized in a town was because of illness, or lack of adoption.
For the large cities, Waterbury, New Britain and Manchester are the cities where dogs are more likely to be euthanized than to be adopted. A good group of volunteers has emerged in New Britain to help address the problem there and the numbers appear to be changing. It appears as if Waterbury and Manchester are two of the municipalities that could really take advantage of better coordination with volunteer rescue organizations.
Yet it isn’t just the large cities that people need to be concerned about. Derby, with a population of only twelve thousand euthanized twice as many dogs as they adopted out. It may be that there is a good reason for this, but it illustrates the need for people to ask questions of their local animal control officers and to look at their own communities first.
So, before you buy a dog at the local pet shop or from some breeder, or before you visit some large expo spending thousands of dollars to ship shelter dogs in from out of state, make sure you check out the local shelters and rescue societies. You just may find the dog of your dreams. You might even feel called to help other dogs at these shelters find their forever homes.