Sunday, July 31, 2011

Heat advisory for pets (& their parents)

The following heat advisory comes from Animal Protection League of NJ. It's a good idea to read and re-read it, save it, print it, post it and carry a copy in your car. And most of all, to follow it!

Are your cat's or dog's gums suddenly bright red? Is the animal lethargic? Is she panting excessively, even when the temperature is cooler? These could be signs of heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition, and you should bring your cat or dog to the veterinarian immediately.

Even before bringing your animal to the veterinarian, your immediate goal is to cool the animal down. Place the animal in tub of cool water (not cold), wrap her in cool, wet towels, ice-packs, or simply use the hose to bring down body temperature. Take your animal immediately to the veterinarian in an air-conditioned car.

Never leave companion animals outside or in enclosures on hot days, and provide cold, fresh water at all times. Dogs, cats, rabbits, and all other animals are all susceptible to heat stroke.

Never leave your dog or cat unattended in a parked car. If you see a dog or cat in a parked car, enter the closest store and ask that the owner of the car be paged. If the animal is obviously under duress, immediately call the local police because it's against the law to leave an animal in a car in extreme heat.

In a relatively mild 85-degree day, it takes only 10 minutes for the interior of a car to reach 102 degrees-and within 30 minutes, the inside of the car can be a staggering 120 degrees. New Jersey is under an extreme heat wave, where the temperature is reaching 100 and above and cars can get much hotter and quicker.

Leaving car windows open a few inches does not help. Dogs cool down mostly by panting and the car can become an inferno with the addition of hot panting breath. In only a short amount of time a dog with a high body temperature can suffer critical damage to his nervous system, heart, liver and brain, resulting in death.

For more information about Animal Protection League of New Jersey and our programs, please visit


Friday, July 29, 2011

A choice of actions

Neither is “wrong,” and both would help, but the issue of animal experimentation can cause animal advocates to argue either (1) make it less painful and treat the animals involved better, or (2) stop it altogether as the immoral and often unnecessary thing it is.

Should we stress improving conditions for animals in laboratories or hold out and work for a total halt to animal experiments?

These questions were suggested by the last two issues of All Animals, the magazine of the Humane Society of the US. The May/June issue carried an article titled “Behind Closed Doors,” which talked only about lessening lab animals’ fear and suffering.

Then, in the July/August issue, two letters to the editor pointed out that the article had omitted entirely any reference to the alternative: non-animal research.

These letters prompted a response from the organization’s animal research dept., whose representative claimed to agree with the letters’ overriding goal of eliminating animal research. She advocated working toward both goals – end use of animals “in the long term” and eliminate their suffering now – and directed readers to

The unknown: whether animal research could be stopped even sooner if those who work only to ameliorate suffering concentrated instead on the bigger goal.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Easel: volunteers fighting homelessness

Mark Phillips, executive director of Easel Animal Rescue League, shelters two feral kittens and two older feral cats in his office.

He hopes the kittens – now in a big multi-level big wire cage -- can be socialized; he doubts that can happen with the older cats, who may not have been caught in time to learn to trust people. They’re “at large” but typically invisible in the two rooms he can close off from the rest of his business.

Regarding cat adoptions – now underway everywhere because this is the height of the “kitten season” – Phillips says, “It’s the cat, it’s not the group [behind the adoption].” His purpose is “to get animals adopted” from the huge adoption pool; he’s not about having to take credit.

Most of Easel’s adoptions result from internet contacts. There’s and, Phillips says. And every couple months, he prints out color posters showing 10 cats and 10 dogs in the Ewing shelter that are displayed at markets and other sites.

If people who respond arrive too late for specific animals, there are many others to choose from.

As all-volunteer Easel continues working toward its own shelter, the focus is on the Ewing site. Only kittens are fostered.

Organization members also take animals for adoption to PetSmart and PETCO (whose foundation Phillips lauds), as well as Rosedale Mills and Cutter’s Mill (whose generous manager he also praises).

Even if animals aren’t adopted at these stores, “It’s a good day for those dogs,” he says: “They get out of the shelter.”

(See February 23 post about Easel –

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

SAVE's future will allow more saves

Wondering what’s been happening at SAVE, a friend to homeless animals, in Princeton? A visit and talk earlier this week with Piper H. Burrows, SAVE’s executive director, provided the information update that follows.

Burrows indicates that while the organization has “a very big presence” on FaceBook and Twitter, it’s hard to maintain these social media outlets when most energy is expended on the animals, first, and fundraising through a variety of means, second., which sends queries directly to SAVE’s website, continues to be a major source of contacts, and Burrows also mentioned A feature every other week in Princeton’s Town Topics showcases a dog with his/her image and a blurb.

A recent story in the Princeton Packet focused on SAVE’s volunteer program, and last Sunday’s Times of Trenton ran a story about animal adoption from shelters, with images from SAVE.

One of Burrows’s main concentrations: SAVE’s “New Beginnings” capital campaign. The goal is $3 million, which will make a new, state of the art shelter a reality. Current conditions at the organization’s Herrontown Road site cry out for a new facility.

With about $1.5 million “in hand,” Burrows anticipates a ground-breaking date this fall.

(See 6/29/10 post about SAVE --

Monday, July 25, 2011

Save the date . . . save a cat!

(Blogger's note on 7-27-11: The event described below has had to be postponed and will be rescheduled asap. Please watch this blog for news of the new date.)

Mark your calendar for Saturday, August 6 between 10am-3pm: “Adoption Day” for cats and kittens, an event sponsored by Trenton TNR at the Trenton Farmers Market (960 Spruce Street, Lawrence Township; 609-695-2998).

Look for the big blue North Shore Animal League bus in the parking lot.

The shelter and foster homes are “full to the brim” with cats and kittens who need loving forever homes. Every adoptable cat is fully vetted, and every cat adopted is a cat saved.

Fee (cash only): $50 kittens and $40 adult cats. If you adopt 2, the second cat or kitten is half price.

If you can’t adopt, please consider dropping off food and/or litter to help out. (And if you can adopt, please consider dropping off food and/or litter to help out!)

For more information or to be pre-approved to adopt before the event, contact Sandra at

Please tell your friends who need cats in their lives: come to Adoption Day on August 6 and save a cat.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Invaluable ants

Ants, one of the smallest of all the animals, come highly recommended by E. O. Wilson, a biologist who studied them.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1929, he said in answer to potential critics of his famous specialty,

For a skeptical audience who says, '. . . how could studying ants be very important?' Well, let me tell you, ants are the dominant insects. They make up as much as a quarter of the biomass of all insects in the world. They are the principal predators. They're the cemetery workers. Ants are the leading removers of dead creatures on the land. And the rest of life is substantially dependent upon them. In many environments, take away the ants and there would be partial collapses in many of the land ecosystems. Take away humans, and everything would come back and flourish. But I don't want to go down that down that road for a broad audience.

(According to the Writer’s Almanac, the source of info here, Wilson’s books include The Theory of Island Biogeography (1967), Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (1975), In Search of Nature (1996), and most recently, The Leafcutter Ants: Civilization by Instinct (2010).)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Keeping pets and families together

People can make arrangements for their pets after their own deaths (See post for April 13, '11), but what happens to pets while their people are dying? This is a time when pets might be forgotten, or worse.

A Times of Trenton community news story on July 9 described a “Pet Peace of Mind” program now offered through Trenton’s Greenwood House. The volunteer program provides pet care services for clients who are unable to care for their pets while in hospice.

These services include financial assistance for food and routine vet care, transporting pets to vet appointments, pet boarding and walking, and more.

Susan Whitman, coordinator of volunteers at the Renee Denmark Punia Community Hospice of Greenwood House, credits a grant for helping provide such services. The Banfield Charitable Trust (BCT) is behind the good deeds for pets, as part of its goal -- to promote the human-animal bond, keeping pets and families together.


One Banfield program is “Pet Peace of Mind,” which “enables hospice patients to keep their pets at home with them throughout their end-of-life journey, with the comfort and companionship of their pet, without worrying about their pet’s current or future needs.”

The Greenwood House hospice is the only one in New Jersey to offer this program. Ms. Whitman says so far, a hospice patient’s dog was groomed through it. She anticipates helping in many other ways, and possibly taking the program to the community, where more people may need help.

Isn’t it great that this program is all about keeping pets in place while taking care of their needs?

(For more info about Pet Peace of Mind at the Greenwood House hospice, phone 609-883-6026 or visit

(Note to Linda, whose comment follows: Yes, please do, and thanks!)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Times editorial gets it right

Today's Times of Trenton includes an editorial that's wonderfully right-on: "Garbage control key to bear control." With it, the Times has started a potentially useful dialogue on the subject of bear hunts way before the projected December '11 hunt -- and maybe in good time to help head it off.

Last year's hunt drew protesters in droves, and for excellent reasons that only began with the fact that New Jersey's black bears are not harmful to humans. Try to convince the DEP division agitating for an annual hunt of that.

The editorial writer says, "There are more humane and responsible ways to regulate the state's bear population than annual hunts. . . " before detailing many of those ways.

We hope this editorial is the first in a series, coupled with responsible letters to the editor and op-ed pieces that amplify the case against bear hunts in this state.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Love is love

(The poem below is reprinted from today's Writer's Almanac(

Love Poem

by Paul Zimmer

In southern France live two old horses,
High in the foothills, not even French,
But English, retired steeplechasers
Brought across to accept an old age
Of ambling together in the Pyrenees.
At times they whinny and kick
At one another with impatience,
But they have grown to love each other.

In time the gelding grows ill
And is taken away for treatment.
The mare pines, pokes at her food,
Dallies on her rides until the other
Comes home.
She is in her stall
When the trailer rumbles
Through the gate into the field,
And she sings with impatience
Until her door is opened.
Then full
Of sound and speed, in need of
Each other, they entwine their necks,
Rub muzzles, bumping flanks
To embrace in their own way.
Together they prance to
The choicest pasture,
Standing together and apart,
To be glad until
They can no longer be glad.

(from Crossing to Sunlight Revisited. © University of Georgia Press, 2007.)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Animal news briefs

The United Nations announced last month that a second disease has been vanquished world-wide. The first was smallpox, declared eradicated in 1980. Rinderpest is the second disease to be wiped off the face of the earth. The added good news about it: rinderpest is an “epizootic” – an animal disease.

The NYTimes reported on the “long but little known campaign to conquer rinderpest,” citing the “skill and bravery of ‘big animal’ veterinarians, who fought it in remote and sometimes war-torn areas.”

The paper explained that “Any society dependent on cattle – or relatives like African zebu, Asian water buffaloes or Himalayan yaks [all cloven-hoofed animals] – was vulnerable” because “when herds die, their owners starve.”

In 1990, when the northern spotted owl was listed as a threatened species, it became “the cause celebre of the environmental movement” – a symbol of the battle over whether to save or saw down Pacific Northwest forests.

Since then, threats to the owl have increased in number to include climate change and the growing presence of the barred owl, reportedly a “bigger, more adaptable bird” and one that sometimes kills spotted owl males and mates with the females.

The federal government’s final plan to prevent the spotted owl from going extinct was released last month, but whether it’s enough or in time remains to be seen.

Feral hogs, wild pigs, whatever you may call them – their population’s growing in the American Southeast and Southwest – any state where “it’s warm and wet,” according to a news story last week. Not native to this continent, the animals reportedly damage ecosystems and threaten other animal species meant to be protected in wildlife refuges.

The solution being proposed: lift current restrictions to make it easier to hunt the feral hogs. In Texas, land of the great excesses, Gov. Rick Perry “has signed legislation that . . . will allow any licensed hunter to shoot feral hogs from helicopters.” Real Texas (and Alaska)-style sportsmanship.

Another news story dealt with invasive fish and how learning to eat them may be the best way to deal with the problems they create.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Grizzly love -- and defensive attack

Grizzlies. The word comes with scary associations of grizzly bears on the attack, charging humans.

But there’s also a softer side to the word: mother grizzly bears protecting their young against perceived threats. That’s what seems to have happened in Yellowstone National Park last Wednesday, when a hiker-couple were charged by a mother grizzly defending her two cubs.

The bear was only “doin’ what comes naturally,” as the song goes. Unhappily for the hikers, the husband of the pair was killed, while the wife, who played dead, lived.

They don’t seem to have bothered the bears; they just walked into a meadow and saw them. They then went in a different direction, but the mother charged them.

Related stories mentioned “bear spray,” which deters bear attacks, and the advisability of playing dead, not running away. Even harder to imagine: the advice to stand up to a charging grizzly because some charges are bluffs. Some are.

The only good news to come out of this incident: the mother grizzly wasn’t punished for doing what she would naturally do. She and her cubs went on with their lives.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"For the animals’ for sure

“Mark your calendar and get ready for some amazing cow kisses, pig nuzzles, chicken snuggles, goat rubs, and kitty cuddles.”

Who could resist that invitation?

It’s the opening greeting in the newsletter from “for the animals sanctuary” in Blairstown, NJ, a place I hope to visit this summer. You might feel the same way.

The sanctuary was started by Debbie Kowalski, whose name and image appeared earlier in this blog when she was the fiery co-leader of CAAF (Caring Activists Against Fur), along with Julie O’Connor, also mentioned earlier here. Debbie was the woman behind the megaphone as marches and demonstrations got underway in NYC. She was always there, ready to lead parades of protesters, who often brandished posters Debbie had also supplied. Her commitment was undoubted and she always seemed fearless.

Now, her ultra compassionate-sounding sanctuary is a beacon for those who truly “love animals” (not those who “love animals” because they're pets and/or pretty and/or needy – then eat and wear and experiment on other animals).

Here’s a link to the website, where you can sign up to receive the newsletter. Please consider donating to and/or visiting the sanctuary. (July 10 – this coming Sunday – and July 17 are visiting days this month.) Maybe we’ll meet there sometime soon -- in line for a cow kiss or a pig nuzzle.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Gorillas . . . trailed by scientists

Sunday night’s Nature program on PBS, about the mountain gorillas in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, raised bigger questions than it answered.

These are “silverbacks,” named for the distinctive band of (you guessed it) silver that marks mature gorillas. These are also the gorillas with whom scientist Dian Fossey was long associated.

The program followed one gorilla, Titus, 33 years old and still, amazingly, the ruler of a large band of females and other males. He had been orphaned at 4 and for little other reason that was given than that he was good looking, he assumed leadership. However, Kuryama, another, younger male, threatens Titus’s dominance, eventually taking over.

At one point, Titus leads his followers to the top of a volcano and into its crater; this part was surprising and interesting. Far down the green hillside was a crater lake, although the gorillas stay near the top until Kuryama leads most of the band back down. End of Titus’s rule.

Most of the questions raised had to do with why scientists have for years trailed these gorillas around making notes on the most minute details of their lives. There was no answer given – just lots of footage of young and older-now scientists taking notes and speaking in whispers to the camera.

What good did their observations – or “intrusions” -- do for the gorillas? It’s anybody’s guess. But no doubt there’s a scientist connected with this project who can tell us when and how many times each one thumped his chest with his fists.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

It's fitting: fine writing about a fine day

Published in the July 2 NYTimes, Verlyn Klinkenborg’s latest editorial comment on the Rural Life is about “One Fine Day.” For him, it occurred late last month – one of those wondrous June days.

Till I saw there were steps to go through for permission to reprint, I had briefly thought of cutting and pasting the whole thing right here. Now, I’ll limit myself to a couple excerpts with a link to the piece, and a few specifics about it.

Let’s start there, with the specifics. Klinkenborg’s editorial is a mere 349 words, counting headline and byline. It’s only five paragraphs long. And it’s great.

His farm has for years been a place that prompts his musing about life – his and that of the animals there – and that musing usually becomes lyrical songs to nature and life. “One Fine Day” is such a song.

In it, Klinkenborg alludes to bees, woodchucks, kit foxes, spiders, ants and earwigs. Six kinds of creatures, besides himself, in five paragraphs. And he says just enough about each one for an image to readily come to mind.

“Any object I move, I discover a colony of creatures behind or under or inside it. This is a farm of overlapping settlements and empires, . . .”

And “I take refuge in the chaos of life here. It is what we have — 'we' meaning the kinship of all species.”

“One Fine Day,” with the world’s creatures in harmony, and at least one of them recognizing the day and the creatures’ connections for what they are.