House members say “no” to horse slaughter

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The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund released a statement applauding the 218 Representatives — constituting a majority of the US House — who have signed on as sponsors and cosponsors of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act to bring an end to the export and slaughter of American equines for human consumption. With broad bipartisan support, the bill aims to protect our nation’s equines from the cruel and predatory horse slaughter industry, which is opposed by an overwhelming majority of Americans, enriches a tiny handful of profiteers and places all equine companions at risk. 

“We commend these federal legislators who have taken a stand with most Americans who view our horses as partners in work, recreation and sport, and as cultural icons for the crucial role they’ve played in our nation’s history,” said Kitty Block, acting president and CEO of the HSUS. “With a bipartisan majority supporting the bill, we urge House leadership to put the SAFE Act on the suspension calendar for a vote soon, and the Senate to follow suit.”

What to do . . . If you discover animal abuse

Animal abuse. It’s a foul phrase, isn’t it? Most have heard or seen stories. Many of us scroll past them on social media because we can’t bear them. But what to do if you discover active abuse yourself? Can you pretend it doesn’t exist and continue supporting the animal charities you love in hopes that it balances the scales? How to know if it is animal abuse as opposed to someone simply treating their pet differently than you would? 

Oregon — and most states — have animal cruelty laws. In Oregon, statutes are summarized as follows: 

“Animal” means any nonhuman mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian or fish. The term “assault,” which is generally associated with human crimes, is used to define certain crimes against animals. Animal abuse may be elevated to a felony offense if the act was committed directly in front of a minor child or if the perpetrator was previously convicted of domestic violence. 

According to ORS167.310 – 167.351, all domestic animals in Oregon must receive minimum care as follows:

-        Food of sufficient quality and quantity to allow for normal growth or maintenance of body weight

-        Access to potable water (suitable for drinking)

-        Veterinary care when necessary to relieve distress from illness, injury or disease

-        Access to an area kept reasonably free from excess waste or other contaminants that could affect the animal’shealth

-        Suitable air temperature for the animal 

The Oregon Humane Society has published a comprehensive booklet on Oregon law and animal cruelty; download it at: http://www.oregonhumane.org/wp-content/uploads/08-20-14_law_book2.pdf

If you suspect animal abuse or neglect, contact your veterinarian or the Oregon Humane Society. Explain what you’ve witnessed or know in as much detail as possible. If warranted, a Humane Society officer may pursue the matter. Be patient — officers must follow laws and protocols. Remember: things are not always as they appear. If a neighbor is down on his luck, perhaps you can offer help to his beloved dog. People sometimes find themselves in unexpected hardship. While neglecting our loved ones may seem unfathomable, it does happen. Lending a hand can sometimes make a real difference: to the person, the pet, and for you, too. 

Typically the first agency to contact about animal abuse is the county shelter. You might also try the nonemergency police line for further direction. The Bonnie Hays Shelter website says if you see an animal in distress, call 911. If you are uncertain or suspect abuse or neglect, contact the county animal shelter.

Animal abuse or cruelty in Clark County can be reported by phone during business hours (360-397-2488) or online after hours: clark.wa.gov/community-development/report-animal-cruelty  If the animal is a horse, call 360-397-2375 extension 2488.

Sometimes we all need rescue

Donna Lawrence wasn't a likely advocate for Pit Bulls, but 10 months after an attack by a Pit that caused her to miscarry and left her barren, she found a Pit-mix puppy who’d been beaten, burned, and left to die.

The eight-week-old puppy’s jaw was broken and her teeth knocked out because she licked her owner's infant baby's face. She was then set on fire and left for dead. She was found clinging to life with second- and third-degree burns, and horrible wounds covering her back.

Lawrence named her Susie, and raised the money to pay for the months of care her profound injuries required. She also championed her cause, ultimately passing "Susie's Law" in North Carolina — seeking stricter punishment for animal abusers.

Susie went on to be named 2014 American Humane Association Therapy Dog and 2014 American Humane Association Hero Dog. 

The film Susie's Hope, released Jan. 5, chronicles both Lawrence’s and Susie's stories. Sales support the Susie's Hope nonprofit, which works to end animal abuse. Learn more at susieshope.com.

Help end horse soring

Congress enacted the Horse Protection Act (HPA) in 1970 to make illegal the barbaric practice of “soring.” This is a practice of deliberately injuring/inflicting pain on Tennessee Walking Horses’ hooves and legs to exaggerate their high-stepping gait, known as the “Big Lick, to gain competitive advantage at horse shows.

Though the HPA was signed into law more than 40 years ago, the cruelty continues in the Big Lick segment of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.  A just-released video from an undercover investigator with The Humane Society of the United States exposed numerous instances of illegal soring at ThorSport Farm.

The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 3268/S. 1121, would amend the Horse Protection Act to end industry self-policing, ban the use of devices associated with soring,  strengthen penalties, and make other reforms necessary to end this torture.

Want to help eradicate this practice?  Write and call your state legislators. Learn more at humanesocietyorg.

OHS & ALDF Offer $5,000 Reward in Kitten Shooting Case

Lucy recovering at OHS

Lucy recovering at OHS

The Oregon Humane Society announced today that it is partnering with the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) to increase the reward for the person who shot Lucy, a 12-week-old kitten, from $500 to $5,000.

“Anyone who can engage in such a violent and depraved act presents a huge risk to our community,” said Scott Heiser, Director of ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program, based in Portland. “That person needs to be off the streets and held fully accountable. That is why we are joining forces with Oregon Humane Society to increase the reward in this case.” ALDF is a national nonprofit that works through the legal system to end the suffering of abused animals.

The $5,000 reward is for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for shooting Lucy the kitten and abandoning her in a dumpster in Southeast Portland. ALDF is contributing $2,500 to the reward fund, which will be matched by $2,500 from OHS.

“If there is a silver lining in this case, it is the huge outpouring of community support for Lucy,” said OHS Executive Director Sharon Harmon. “We applaud ALDF for their show of support and hope witnesses come forth who can help us solve this case.”

The 12-week-old kitten, named Lucy by OHS, will soon undergo surgery to remove a bullet or pellet that struck her in the head and is now lodged in her cheek. Lucy also suffered a second projectile wound to her neck. The wound to Lucy's head caused related brain trauma, but she is expected to recover. OHS veterinarians have not yet determined the type of weapon responsible for Lucy’s wound. They suspect an air rifle or a .22 caliber firearm was used.

After being shot twice, Lucy was wrapped in two black garbage bags and abandoned in a dumpster in the parking lot of an apartment building on the 2200 block of SE 96th Avenue in Portland, near the intersection with SE Division. She was discovered on the morning of May 28th by a concerned citizen who brought her to OHS to receive medical attention. It is not known how long Lucy was in the dumpster before being discovered.

TIP LINE: OHS is seeking any information related to the person or persons who shot Lucy and abandoned her in the dumpster. Anyone with information concerning these crimes is encouraged to contact OHS and leave a message at (503) 285-7722, ext. 214. There is a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.

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The Oregon Humane Society is the Northwest's oldest and largest humane society, with one of the highest adoption rates in the nation. OHS receives no government funds for its adoption, education and animal cruelty investigation programs. Visit oregonhumane.org for more information.

51 dogs saved in Jackson County rescue

The Oregon Humane Society, working with Jackson County Animal Services, rescued more than 50 dogs, including puppies, from an Applegate, OR breeder who is under investigation for animal neglect.  The dogs were seized due to unsanitary conditions, and more than 40 were transported to OHS for medical evaluations and care before being offered for adoption.  The remaining dogs are being cared for in Jackson County. 

“Oregon law is very clear when it comes to caring for animals used for dog breeding, and this kennel was putting the health of the animals at risk by failing to provide basic, minimum care,” said OHS Executive Director Sharon Harmon.  The dogs rescued include King Charles Spaniels, Lhasa Apsos, Pugs, Schnauzers and other small breeds.  The dogs were surrendered by the breeder along with 12 birds, including Amazon Parrots, Macaws and Cockatoos.  OHS is also holding the birds and plans to make them available for adoption soon.

BREAKING BAD: Washington County’s Award Winning Animal Protection Team

Kahlua at Washington County Animal Services in 2008. Photo courtesy of KATU.

Kahlua at Washington County Animal Services in 2008. Photo courtesy of KATU.

The police found her bloody, bruised, and cowering in a corner of the garage.  The man of the house literally had blood all over his hands.  Eventually, Brandon Nagy was convicted and sentenced to jail.  His victim has started a new life, and while she has healed physically, she will always bear the invisible scars of being attacked, kicked, and thrown.

As this is a pet magazine, you’ve probably correctly surmised that the victim in this case was a dog.

One of the saddest truths about this story is that the object of such horrific abuse could just as easily have been — and often is — a person.  Animal abuse and domestic violence are tightly linked.  But it wasn’t until just a few years ago that, in Washington County, justice and solutions to these crimes became linked as well.

Whitney Kubli was a regular volunteer at the Bonnie Hays Animal Shelter in 2008 when Kahlua, the brutalized Pit bull seized from Nagy’s garage, was brought to the shelter.  In addition to her other injuries, Kahlua’s tail was so mangled it had to be amputated. 

Kubli, who at that time also worked as a victim advocate at the Washington County District Attorney’s office, says she was well aware of the connection between domestic violence and animal abuse.  She was often the conduit through which the DA’s office would get updates on animals involved in criminal cases, including Kahlua.

Fostered and then adopted through Indigo Rescue, Kahlua is now a beloved pet and a Canine Good Citizen!

Fostered and then adopted through Indigo Rescue, Kahlua is now a beloved pet and a Canine Good Citizen!

“She was at the shelter for nine months while the case was pending,” says Kubli.  “[Kahlua] actually ended up spending more time behind bars than [Nagy] did.”

It was that injustice, as well as other high-profile abuse and neglect situations involving both pets and people, that motivated Kubli to explore whether Washington County’s various law enforcement, social services, and animal services agencies were open to working as a team on the issue.

A Breakthrough Idea

Debbie Wood may look like your favorite perky auntie, but make no mistake:  she’s a warrior for pets.  As the Animal Services Manager for Washington County, Wood has overseen a renaissance of sorts at Bonnie Hays — and she was more than enthusiastic about Kubli’s proposal.

“Whitney basically took the concept of a multi-disciplinary team that already existed for other kinds of serious situations — where they cross issues of social service and law enforcement —  and said there should be an animal multi-disciplinary team,” says Wood.  “It made instant sense to me because it was about solving a problem.”

How have things changed since the creation of the Animal Protection Multi-Disciplinary Team (APMDT)?  Wood explains the answer to that question has several parts.

“One side of what we do is the domestic violence side.  One of the first things the MDT did was work with Monika’s House shelter in Washington County and made it pet-friendly.  It is one of only three domestic violence shelters in Oregon that are pet-friendly, and the only one in the Portland Metropolitan area.”

Another big piece was getting a full-time veterinarian at Bonnie Hays.  “Part of the exam in a potential abuse or neglect case is a forensic exam,” explains Wood.  “[The veterinarian’s] job is to be an objective evidence collector, and be ready to testify in court.”

The largest, most effective aspect of the APMDT is education and sharing of resources.  Wood says animal services, law enforcement, and social services now know what to look for when out on a call, so it’s easier for multi-victim abuse crimes to be identified, prosecuted, and hopefully, stopped.

“There have been some informal situations before where they’ve had animals,” says Wood.  “But what the APMDT has done is make it clear, make it a process, make everyone aware of what to do and how to do it to make animals safe.”

Deborah Wood with Calvin

Deborah Wood with Calvin

A Way to Break Free

Imagine someone wanting to hurt your beloved dog or cat, maybe even kill it.  Chances are you’d throw yourself between the attacker and the animal without hesitation.  That’s what happens in many domestic abuse situations with pets in the home.

According to Red Rover, a nonprofit providing funds for pets in crisis, it’s estimated that up to 65% of domestic violence victims delay or refuse to leave their abusers for fear of what might happen to their pets if they go.

Monika’s House is Washington County’s shelter for those fleeing domestic violence.  As a result of the APMDT’s work, the shelter now has five outdoor kennels for housing dogs, and is working to obtain funding for an indoor shelter to accommodate cats and other smaller animals.

Kendra Moon, Day Advocate at Monika’s House, says that opening the shelter to animals empowers those in abusive situations to leave and get help.  “Particularly for survivors, it’s important that they be able to maintain the relationship with their pet.”

Wood adds that it’s often that bond, between the human victim and their animal, that makes an abuser target the pet.  “They use it to control, they use it to hurt.  I mean, what would hurt you more than hurting your animal?  The abuser gets that.”

Those at risk who don’t seek refuge at Monika’s House are encouraged to find alternate housing for their animals, such as a boarding kennel or with friends and family.  But if that’s not possible there are other options, thanks to the efforts of the APMDT.  The Bonnie Hays Animal Shelter or one of its partnering nonprofits will provide safe harbor for an animal if there is no alternative.

What excites Moon the most is the increased awareness the APMDT has brought to all parties involved.  “There’s lots of training and outreach for first responders to look further in and see if there’s also child abuse, or if a child has witnessed animal abuse.”

Whitney Kubli with Misio

Whitney Kubli with Misio

Breaking The Cycle

The Animal Legal Defense Fund states that an abused pet is often the first visible sign that a family is in trouble.  About a third of domestic violence victims report that their children have already hurt animals.

“Kids who just witness animal abuse are more likely to become violent offenders and harm people in the future,” says Kubli.  “There’s a huge connection there.”

So strong is the link that the State of Oregon has passed a law making animal abuse a felony if committed in the presence of a minor.  This is another part of the APMDT mission — to prosecute offenders and interrupt the vicious cycle created and reinforced by their actions.

“Officers know that when they’re pursuing these things they’re going to make a difference,” says Wood.  “They know how to properly collect evidence for these cases, and they know there will be consequences for the bad guy.  Since the establishment of the [AP]MDT, we have a hundred-percent conviction rate, with at least half of those people doing some jail time.”

But halting the perpetuation of abuse doesn’t end with convicting offenders.  One participating organization, doing the important work of helping affected minors, is “The Little Dog Laughed,” a therapy program founded by Linda Keast that gives children tools to interact with animals in positive ways.

Earlier this year, the efforts and success of the APMDT were recognized by Washington County’s Vision Action Network, which presented the group with the prestigious Cameron Award.  The honor is given to organizations and individuals that epitomize a commitment to solving problems by collaborating with multiple sectors of the community.

Wood was thrilled to see the APMDT get recognition.  “What the Cameron Award did is a big deal.  It shines a light on the great things that have been done by people on the front lines.”

That said, it’s clear that everyone involved in the APMDT is even more gratified by its success in helping animals — including the woman who first proposed the idea.  “I hope it will inspire other counties to form MDTs and take action,” says Kubli.  “Here we are, three-and-a-half years later, and I think it’s getting better each year.”

Wood agrees.  “Instead of animal protection being a sad black hole, we’re winning,” she says, her eyes sparkling.  “We’re winning!” 


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 Michele Coppola is a Portland-based air personality for 99.5 The Wolf and copywriter for Entercom Radio.  When she's not talking, writing, or pursuing quality couch time with husband Bryon and their dogs, Cindy and Lucy, she's also a proud volunteer for Fences for Fido and Family Dogs New Life Shelter. 

New York announces Animal Protection Initiative

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NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had launched a new program aimed at protecting animals from fighting rings, puppy mills and being sold by retail operations.  According to the AG’s website, the initiative will work through civil and criminal avenues to target animal cruelty as well as unscrupulous” sales of pets and other animals, striving to bring the perpetrators of these and other animal crimes to justice.” 

Stacy Wolf, vice president and chief counsel of the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement and Legal Advocacy Department, says, We are thankful to Attorney General Schneiderman for his persistent leadership in combating some of the worst forms of animal cruelty.” 

More Rescued Shar-peis Arriving at OHS

Shar-peis in Goldendale at the time of the rescue in May 2012. Photo by OHS. More photos and video available from OHS upon request.

Shar-peis in Goldendale at the time of the rescue in May 2012. Photo by OHS. More photos and video available from OHS upon request.

The latest chapter of a year-long animal rescue saga came to pass today as the Oregon Humane Society removed 10 shar-peis from a Goldendale, Wash., resident who pleaded guilty last month to animal cruelty charges.

In May of 2012, OHS rescued 41 shar-peis, nearly all of them in need of medical treatment, from Goldendale, Wash., resident Eric Calvin. The evidence presented by OHS to the Klickitat County prosecutor was essential in reaching last month’s plea agreement.

Calvin pleaded guilty on April 15 to one felony count of animal cruelty and was sentenced to five years of probation and must pay $2,378 in fines and fees. Under the agreement, he must not possess any dogs other than two altered shar-peis.

Many of the 10 shar-peis taken today by OHS will require treatment for skin infections and entropion, an eye condition. They will be offered for adoption as soon as they are healthy enough for new homes.

The dogs rescued by OHS last year suffered from eye, skin and ear infections and required extensive medical treatment at OHS. With the help of local adopters and shar-pei rescue groups across the region, the final rescued shar-pei was adopted on Oct. 24, approximately six months after the rescue took place.

Although OHS Humane Officers do not have jurisdiction in Washington, the OHS shelter in Portland was the only facility in the Northwest with the resources to care for such a large number of neglected dogs. The medical team at OHS provided evidence to Klickitat County authorities that resulted in Calvin being charged with nine counts of animal cruelty.

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The Oregon Humane Society is the Northwest's oldest and largest humane society. OHS is not affiliated with national humane groups (such as the ASPCA or the Humane Society of the United States), and relies on donations to support its adoption, education, and animal cruelty investigation programs. Visit oregonhumane.org for more information.