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Saturday, August 19, 2006

He Won!

Cisco the Kendall cat indeed triumphed on Meow Mix House. Click here to read the story in today's Herald.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Miami Cat a Meow Mix House Finalist

Remember Cisco, the orange-and-white rescue cat from Kendall who became one of 10 contestants on Meow Mix House, a feline "reality" show? Well, the finale is tonight at 9 on Animal Planet. Seven other cats have been voted out of the house and it's down to the last three.

Cisco has been living with Pat Murphy, a longtime rescuer with Cat Network. After the show, he'll be living with a family in Plantation, who adopted him (all the contestants were up for adoption).

If he wins, he'll get all sorts of goodies, including a gig as a taste-tester for Meow Mix cat food. You can read the story in the blog archive, June 16. You can link to the Meow Mix House website by clicking here.

Photo by Andrew Mark.

Canines Livin' Large in La-La-Land

Thanks to Cyndi from Tropical Dawg for sending this along. It's a story about pooch pampering in SoCal. Given the location, it's not surprising that some of this belongs in the "wretched excess" category (bark mitzvahs? Feh!) Still, it's an indicator of the passion Americans feel for their pets.

Click here for the story.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tri-Rail Ad Campaign Featuring Dogs Wins an Award

Way back in May I posted these ads, which turned out to be a big hit. The American Public Transportation Association awarded the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority an AdWheel Award in the Group 2 Print category for the Tri-Rail “Getting You There Faster” campaign.

It's the fifth consecutive year that the transportation authority has taken first prize for its marketing initiatives in this national competition. There was plenty of competition: 750 entries.

“We chose a dog theme for the first major campaign we’ve mounted since construction began, because, let’s face it, the majority of people love dogs and the way they make them feel,” according to SFRTA Director of Marketing Bonnie Arnold (proud mom of a Sheltie). “They inspire loyalty, reliability, warmth and they make us smile, which is just what we want the new and improved Tri-Rail to do.”

The winning entry is “Aviator Dog,” whose message is that the new service can get you to work faster, for $60 a month. The others feature a golden retriever and poodles.

Congrats to Bonnie and her crew.

Update on Prior Item About a Florida Rescuer Headed to the Middle East

Anabelle Taub is now leaving tomorrow (Friday), for northern Israel with as much pet medication and supplies as she can carry. The veteran of post-Katrina rescue plans to work with Israeli humane groups to save animals stranded and/or injured by the war.

Click here to read my story in today's Herald.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Uncertain Fate Awaits Dozens of Wild Animals in Colorado

Facing huge debt, a 27-year-old sanctuary for big cats, wolves, bears, and other exotics confiscated by law enforcement from various unsavory situations, is about to close. It's unclear what will become of the animals, but many could be euthanized because there's nowhere to send them. What a tragedy.

To read about the situation, click here. Then visit the sanctuary's site at

Blind Kitties Need a Home

Ming and Mang - not sure which this one is - came to the Humane Society of Broward County shelter at 4 weeks of age. Cherie Wachter, spokesperson, says that "a good Samaritan who found them...could no longer care for them. The Siamese-mix sisters were born without eyes, but their outgoing personalities (and will to eat) touched everyone in the clinic.

"The decision was made to find a temporary foster home and that is where six-year veteran foster volunteer Marsha Alf of Hollywood came in. Having fostered 157 other kittens, Marsha was up to the challenge of helping the sightless kittens. She was innovative in that she put their food on a mat with a different texture, so they knew when they were approaching their food bowls, and has provided the duo with lots of TLC." The kittens will be available for adoption after spaying next week.

The shelter is at 2070 Griffin Rd., just west of I-95, in Dania Beach. Fees are $70 for felines, $85 for dogs, $95 for puppies. That covers spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, 14-day health care plan, ID tattoo, and deworming.

Visit about Ming and Mang and hundreds of other critters who need homes, or call 954-989-3977.

Colleges Fight ACDS (Acute Canine Deprivation Syndrome)

That's what you get when you leave home - and your dog - and head off to college, which might be a dog-free zone. Some schools are trying to provide a bit of canine companionship for students, according to an article in Inside Higher Ed. Click here to read it.

Here's Polo

From adoring "mom," Lynne Milnes.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Another Argument for Banning Puppy Mills

A truckload of purebred puppies destined for pet shops went up in flames in New England today. All of them died.

And WHAT, exactly, is the reason we need to be hauling dogs around in semis, when just about every county in the nation has an animal shelter full of homeless dogs?

Click here to read about this completely unnecessary tragedy.

Sara Pizano's First Year

I had a story in today's Herald about Dr. Sara Pizano's first year as director of Animal Services in Miami-Dade County. A poster on the wall of her office is an apt metaphor for how it went: A lighthouse engulfed by raging surf. But she has survived it and can point to many improvements at the shelter.

Click here to read the story.

Monday, August 14, 2006

South Florida Woman Wants to Save the Dogs of War

Anabelle Taub, a Miami real-estate agent who spent a month rescuing animals in New Orleans after Katrina, is headed to northern Israel to save animals displaced and abandoned because of the fighting.

Friends say that Taub, who volunteers with Adopt A Stray and used to be a paramedic, plans to leave Wednesday or Thursday, and is in dire need of financial donations and supplies like bowls, collars, leashes, medicines, food.

She plans to live on a kibbutz for a month and help Israeli rescuers take animals to shelters in safer parts of the country.

Click here for more information on Adopt A Stray (tax-deductible donations for Taub's trip can be made to the group). You can also call the following numbers if you want to help: 786-556-2558, 786-547-5471, 305-905-2749, or 786-286-5847.

Sasha the Student

Just in time for back-to-school! She's Pet of the Week at the Miami-Dade Animal Services Shelter. She's a 1-year-old yellow Lab mix, ID #890317, located at J6. (Let me tell you: any dog that will sit still for the outfit and the pose has GOT to be special).

The shelter is at NW 74th St. and 74th Ave. in Medley. Call 305-884-1101.

As With So Many "Products," It's All About Marketing

And I'd call so-called designer dogs "products." They're mutts being marketed as exotics: Labradoodles, Puggles, and the like. You want a mutt? Shelters are full of them; go save a life.

Recently, CBS re-broadcast a show first run in May about designer dogs. This sent many viewers into a rage. One of them, a South Florida rescuer, wrote a rebuttal, which appears at the end of the transcript from the show, reported by Bill Geist:

A Sunday in the park with dogs can be a lovely outing for a couple, as long as the couple can agree on what type of dog to own.

What if one person likes pugs, and the other, beagles.

What's a couple to do? Call it quits? Go on Dr. Phil?, CBS Sunday Morning contributor Bill Geist asks.

One couple found their miraculous answer in a pug and a beagle rolled into one -- a puggle. Another relationship saved, thanks to modern canine breeding science.

The puggle is, currently, the most popular of the new designer dog breeds that now number in the hundreds and can cost in the thousands.

They're trendy and pricey.

Like handbags and shoes, puggle sales boomed when word got out that celebrities were buying them -- a lot of them from David Deitz at Brooklyn's Puppy Paradise. Actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Sylvester Stallone have purchased designer dogs.

Sly's puggle was bred at a remote Wisconsin kennel where proprietor Wallace Havens invented the breed.

Havens has bred about 50 different hybrid dogs, and frankly, this one didn't sound too promising.

"They were hard to sell 'cause people would ask what kind of dogs do you have and I would tell 'em I had a beagle crossed with a pug and they'd laugh and say they didn't think they wanted one of those," Havens, who also coined the name, says.

The puggle has been so successful, he's added the pocket puggle to his designer line.

And Havens thinks he's come up with the next "it" dog. Is the mini-St. Bernard the new puggle?

Mixed breed dogs used to be called mutts but give a mutt some papers, slap a hefty price on it, call it a designer dog and stand back. The designer dog rush is on: a fuzzy flurry of trendy new designer dogs with some very unsual names.

Somewhere in this swirl Puppy Paradise there's a lhasa poo, a westie poo and two puggles: all the offpring of purebred parents of different breeds.

The question these days is not how much ss that doggie in the window -- the puggle's $950 if you want to know -- but rather what is that doggie in the window?

Deitz, the store's owner, says it is almost similar to breeding together a Versace bag and a Coach handbag and has an idea for what dog owners want.

"Puppies that are smaller in size than 15 pounds, that are fuzzier and are teddy bear-like qualities with cute round teddy bear-like faces and nice, fat pudgy bodies that stay small. They eat less, poop less," Deitz says.

In other words, small hybrids that require less fuel and produce fewer toxic emissions.

"People constantly want something new. They want something the neighbor doesn't have, that you can't go to the pet store and get every day," says Gary Garner, president of the American Canine Hybrid Club.

Garner says his group lists 325 hybrids to date.

The venerable American Kennel Club turns up its nose at hybrids and the Poodle Club of America has launched a campaign against them.

Well, Wallace Havens doesn't look the part of Dr. Frankenstein, but at his kennel in rural Wisconsin he's produced about 50 different hybrid breeds.

"They gotta be cute or people don't want 'em," Havens says bluntly.

Now here's the rebuttal (the rescuer asked to remain anonymous, but I know who this person is):

Keep pushing the puppy mills, so that thousands of designer shelter dogs get put down because people think that it's cool to own a Labradoodle, Doxydoodle, Puggle and the Tea Cups. All mistakes: "My beagle broke into my pug's cage and what do we have here? Because I'm a breeder I now have a new breed. I'll call it a Puggle. I'm a 'geeneous!'"

What about the Rottieherd puppy that's going to be put down at your local shelter because some stupid as---- didn't have his Rottie neutered and it ran away to find his mate, a shepherd, and now we have 12 Rottieherds being put to sleep at your local shelter. He's not a breeder so it's not a popular item for sale. You can't even give them away.

How about the Pitdobie? Nobody wants them. The Pit Bull is one of the smartest dogs around and the Dobie is one of the finest; why are those dogs not popular enough? I think I'll call all the Pit Bulls living at our no-kill shelter Pitdoodles or Pittiepugs or Labrapitties, so maybe they will get adopted and I can start a new breed and become popular!

By the way, the famous new Puggle was going to be put to sleep at our local shelter so those so-called hot, trendy designer dogs are already ending up in high-kill shelters. It took us three months to get the Puggle adopted.

Popular? The Tea Cup Breeds - they have medical problems, not always, but they require special care due to their size. Do you like little people? Would you go out with a little person? How many little people are you friendly with? Why are you buying them for thousands of dollars and then spending thousands of dollars to get them healthy when we have many Labrapitties and Rottieherds that are healthy, dying in high-kill shelters.

We are getting a Labradoodle in on Saturday.

More on the Ringo Death Case

And it's troubling. This is the case of the Boca Raton German shepherd named Ringo who died after a well-known trainer employed a controversial restraint technique.

The owners are refusing to talk to investigatos without a promise of immunity from prosecution, which the Palm Beach County State Attorney - I've interviewed him; he's a dog lover - has refused to grant. So no one may ever pay a price for this animal's unnecessary death. How sad.

Click here to see news video about it.

Feline Fight in the Keys

The famous six-toed Hemingway cats, who populate the late writer's home in Key West, are now the object of unwanted attention from government bureaucrats.

They want the Hemingway Home & Museum to get an animal exhibitor license, and are talking about fines up to $10,000 a day if said license isn't obtain.


Click here to read the story in the Orlando Sentinel.