Be a Watchdog for Canine Companions
A new state law puts some teeth in the penalties for animal abuse and might help prevent loss of life. Read the laws and find out what you can do to help.
- story by Dena Temple
Stella & Ronan - Shelter "Siblings"
First impressions aren't always the best ones with rescue dogs - the happy-ending experience of Irish and Dean Oden and their two adoptees shows that persistence pays.
- story by Denise Jacobs
Scroll to the end of the story to see future Shelter Stars now available for adoption at the Hancock Animal Shelter!
In March 2016, Dean found Stella’s shelter picture online, invited Irish to lunch, and surprised her with a trip to the Hancock County Animal Shelter, but Stella was nowhere to be found. She had been fostered and was living in Gulfport. The shelter volunteer offered to bring Stella in, so Irish and Dean busied themselves for a couple of hours and returned.
“Stella had no interest in us,” Dean says. “She just walked around in the shelter and kind of ignored us. We thought, well, she’s not the prettiest thing, and she’s not showing any interest in us, so we were prepared to pass on her."
Surprised, the shelter volunteer said, “Really? You don’t like her?”
“Well, I don’t think she likes us! She’s indifferent. We were hoping for a little more enthusiasm than that.”
“No, no—she’s great! Take her home and see how it goes.”
So, the Odens put Stella in their car and took her home. “She pouted the whole way,” Irish remembers.
Once home, Stella began looking around the house. The more she wandered, the more her demeanor changed.
“She picked up speed,” Irish remembers. “She tore through the house, up the stairs, out to the yard, and around the pool. Then she came up to me all happy-like and seemed to say, ‘Hi! I think I’ll stay.’”
From that moment on, Irish says, Stella has been a perfectly obedient dog, and, Dean adds, “sweet to all people.”
If there’s a fly in the ointment, it’s that Stella is a picky eater. Irish and Dean are accommodating people and serve up refrigerated dog food, which they cook in the same pan as they have cooked their own dinner, so it has some flavor in it.
Dean says, “I pour a little olive oil over Stella’s food and add some salt and pepper. She likes it! It tastes like maybe it’s the same thing we’re eating.”
Dean notes that Stella is happiest when the family is moving. Irish adds that, after a walk, Stella positions herself on the couch, where she pouts until the next time they open the door. She never has to wait very long because both Dean and Irish are steadfast walkers with an active lifestyle.
Two years later to the month after Stella's adoption, Dean and Irish decided it was time to get her a companion. Enter Ronan.
This time serendipity played a role, as the Odens happened upon Ronan at a Lazy Magnolia Brewery event benefiting the Hancock County Animal Shelter. Ronan was the right size and seemed to be about the right age. The thing is, he seemed a little traumatized, but the couple chalked that up to the brewery’s loud band and noisy crowd.
“Ronan was biting and breaking skin that first night,” Irish notes. “He wasn’t a good dog then, but we thought he was just scared.”
It turns out that Ronan had been relinquished by his previous owner that very day, so he really was traumatized. Apparently, the dog had spent “life before Dean and Irish” in a crate and had never been socialized. He was afraid of the front door and green grass. He was nervous all the time and, if his growls were any indication, disliked women in particular.
“For a while, I was sorry I got him,” Irish says. “I thought for sure he was going to bite me, but I knew that if I returned him, the shelter would put him down. I didn’t have the heart to do it. I thought, ‘We’ll figure it out.’”
And figure it out they have.
Irish, who spends the most time with Ronan, eventually realized that he was acting out of fear.
“We worked to gain his trust slowly,” she says. One strategy was to ignore the dog—to take care of him, of course, but to give him space. Playing hard-to-get proved successful. Eventually, Ronan relaxed and came to Irish on his own.
Seven months later, after some tears and a lot of trial and error, Ronan is a different animal. “Now, he never leaves my side,” Irish says. In Ronan, Stella gained a brother, and Irish and Dean, cosmic merit badges in compassionate problem solving.
After being interviewed for this article, Irish said she hoped their story would inspire more people to adopt.
Hancock Shelter Adoptables
The dogs below are available at the Hancock County Animal Shelter as of November 12, 2018. Call the shelter at (228) 466-4516 for availability. Check out the Facebook page of the Hancock County Animal Shelter for latest adoptables!
This beautiful, sweet girl is CHARLOTTE, a 2 yr old American Pit bull Terrier mix, who has endeared herself to our staff and volunteers, and to all of the kiddos who volunteer with us on Saturdays at Pet Smart. It's safe to say that Charlotte has a fan club! ?
This gal has it all...lovely personality, beauty, and smarts! She is friendly and playful with other dogs of all sizes and demeanor, and she seems oblivious to cats. She has a real affinity for children, and loves to play and interact with them. Charlotte sits for treats, "gives paws," walks well on a leash/harness, and is very well-behaved in her kennel. She is also house trained. She is very affectionate, and gives hugs and kisses very generously. ?
She is so even-tempered and sweet-natured that she could join any family dynamic...a family with children, or she would be a wonderful companion for a single person/couple, or active retirees. Like we mentioned...Charlotte has it ALL! ? Come meet this awesome dog!
*Charlotte's adoption fee is sponsored $40 ("Lonely Heart"), which includes spaying, worming, vaccines, microchip, and a free vet check with one of our participating veterinarians. Charlotte is light heartworm positive, but she is currently on a monthly heartworm preventative and responding great.
TILLY, a three-year-old mixed breed, is a remarkably sweet girl, who has every reason to be dubious of humans, yet she truly loves everyone! She yearns to be petted and held, and she gives appreciative hugs and kisses to all.
Poor Tilly was dumped by her previous owner in Shoreline Park, left to fend for herself and her six-month-old puppies. All four of her puppies were either adopted locally, or were transported to the Northeast via our Rescue Transport Program. So, now it's Tilly's turn to be pampered and spoiled! She would be a wonderful family dog, as she is super loving with kiddos of all ages. A single person/couple, or a active retirees, looking for a quiet, sweet-natured best friend would be a perfect match.
We think she is delightful in every way, and we hold Tilly in very high esteem. We are unsure if she is house trained, but she walks well on a leash/harness and keeps her kennel clean. She is awesome with other dogs, so she could easily join a home with existing pets. Come meet Tilly, and you'll know why we're crazy about her!
*Tilly's adoption fee has been sponsored by a wonderful supporter of our shelter, but an approved adoption application still applies! Her adoption contract includes spaying, worming, vaccines, microchip, and a free vet check with one of our participating veterinarians. Tilly is heartworm positive, but she is currently on a flea/heartworm preventative and doing great.
SPIKE is a handsome 2 yr old Manchester Terrier/Hound mix. He has quickly endeared himself to our staff and volunteers with his easy-going personality, sweet nature, and intelligence. He sits on command, walks obediently on a leash/harness, and enthusiastically "shakes" paws or hands. ? This smart boy also "rolls over." He loves to have his back and tummy rubbed, and he often rolls in the grass while sunning himself. He's such a sweetheart, and funny, too! ♥️
Spike is friendly with other dogs regardless of gender and demeanor, and he even greets pesky puppies with good humor. He is also accepting of cats. ? We feel that Spike could join any family dynamic and be a welcomed addition. A single person/couple, or active retirees would find a loyal and fun-loving pal in Spike. And, he could easily join a family with children and other dogs.
He appears to be house trained, as he keeps his kennel very clean, and he is crate trained. Please come meet Spike...he may be the furry family member that you've been looking for! ?
Spike's adoption fee is $75, which includes neutering, worming, vaccines, microchip, and a free vet check with one of our participating veterinarians. Spike is heartworm negative.
HONEY is a 10 month old Belgian Malinois mix puppy, who most definitely lives up to her name. She is the sweetest! ? She is a beautiful pup recently surrendered by her family because they moved from a home with extensive acreage to a home in the suburbs.
Honey would do best in a home with lots of land (securely fenced - wooden privacy) to explore and romp-n-play and enjoy the outdoors. Her previous home included both elementary school aged children and small breed dogs, so she could easily join a family with kids. At our recent adoption event at Pet Smart, Honey made many new friends, including some pretty cute kiddos and doggies of all sizes and shapes. She loved them all! ?
Honey would also be a great partner for an active single person/couple, or retirees dedicated to giving this growing puppy the exercise she needs to a healthy, happy dog. Robust walks, playtime, and lots of quality time with her family would be perfect for Honey.
This smart pup sits on command, behaves cooperatively in her kennel, and appears to be house trained. She walks great on a leash/harness once she settles down from the excitement of going for a walk. If you feel like Honey would be a good fit for your family, please come meet her. She is loving, beautiful, and smart! ?
Honey's adoption fee is $75, which includes spaying, worming, vaccines, microchip, and a free vet check with one of our participating veterinarians.
This cutie is MANNY, a 5 yr old Miniature Pinscher mix. He's such a little fella, but he has a BIG personality, so we are recommending that he join a home with similar size dogs. He met many new friends at Pet Smart this past Saturday at our adoption event, and our volunteers discovered that this smart chap sits on command, but especially for treats! ?
If you're seeking a small companion to pamper and spoil, we are pretty sure this mature boy will love being the center of attention. He would be an ideal little friend for retirees, seniors, or a single person/couple. Manny also enjoys the company of older children, who can respect his size and need for gentle play and affection. He is waiting to meet you...come in soon!
*Manny's adoption fee is $50 (senior 5+ yrs old), which includes neutering, worming, vaccines, microchip, and a free vet check with one of our participating veterinarians.
This adorable little fella is ROCKY, is a 2 yr old Miniature Pinscher mix, who was surrendered by his owners in hopes he would find a loving home more well-suited to his needs and personality. Understandably, Rocky is confused and grieving, but he still seeks out the affection and reassurance of our staff and volunteers. He just wants to love and be loved. ❤
Rocky became overly protective of the adult female in his previous home, to the point that he would show possessive behavior when the male adult in the family came near his "momma." Obviously, Rocky has a deep need to bond with just one person, and does not want to share allegiances. So, we feel he would do best as the companion of a single woman of any age in an adult only home.
He does, however, get along with other dogs. Rocky is house trained and is very responsive to praise and affection. Please help us find an appropriate, loving home for this loyal, sweet boy!
*Rocky's adoption fee is $75, which includes neutering, worming, vaccines, microchip, and a free vet check with one of our participating veterinarians.
Can't adopt but want to help?
Shelter Stars - Sept./Oct. 2018
- story by Denise Jacobs
Patricia Urreta does not have a photo album illustrating Maggie’s life between those presumably playful puppy years and her current sleepy, arthritic stage of life. When it comes to shelter animals, we must often employ our powers of deduction. To know what came before, we can only speculate.
“We don’t know what Maggie’s been through,” Ms. Urreta muses. “She had obviously been neglected. I don’t know about abused, but certainly she was neglected. She probably lived outside and had no real affection. She probably never had treats.”
During the foster phase, Maggie was once adopted out, but as Urreta explains, “She did not get along with the adoptive family’s other dog. It just didn’t work out, so poor Maggie had to come back. I continued to foster her, and it went on and on and on.”
As many of us do after losing a beloved family pet, Ms. Urreta decided she would not own another dog. “When my Jack Russell died, I said, ‘I just can’t do this again,’ but I just felt so bad for Maggie that I gave in.”
And that’s how, in January of 2018, Maggie, with her Basset Hound body and Labrador face, found her forever home. Urreta has no regrets. “Maggie loves people,” she says, “and she has been ‘the best dog ever.’ ”
“Now, you tell me how she did that—because I don’t know!”
Ms. Urreta has also discovered that, despite arthritis in the legs, Maggie is somehow able to reach the middle shelf of the kitchen tea trolley. In the adoptive process, the learning curve can be steep for both humans and animals, but Miss Patricia is a pro, and she solved this dilemma easily with a bit of rearranging. Edibles no longer sit on the trolley’s middle shelf. Adoptive or not, as most dog owners learn sooner rather than later, to train a dog is to train the human.
She says, “Animals need time to build trust. Shelter dogs have sometimes been in a shelter for weeks and are traumatized. They will have accidents.” Then, sadly, “Adopted dogs are sometimes too quickly returned to the shelter.”
On the topic of shelters, Patricia Urreta praises Denise Hines, her daughter and volunteer with Friends of the Animal Shelter, a non-profit organization that supports the Hancock County animal shelter.
“Denise does an amazing job,” Urreta says. “She has helped so many dogs get adopted. She knows all these dogs. She writes about them and posts about them on Facebook.”
“Besides,” she observes, “Maggie is my speed. She moves at my pace. We both dislike the heat, and neither one of us wants to stay outside very long.” More importantly, “It’s a blessing to be able to give older dogs comfort.”
And no photo album is required to see the love written on Patricia Urreta’s face as she sits on the steps looking down at her precious Miss Maggs. It is, perhaps, the look of one who, while giving comfort, has found a measure of the same. No album required.
Hancock Shelter Adoptables
A home with a fenced yard would be ideal for Nufan, as he loves to romp-n-play in our exercise yard with his doggie pals at the shelter. When Nufan's previous owner moved out and abandoned this sweet boy, he was fostered by a compassionate neighbor, who discovered that he is both house and crate trained, and he loves kiddos. ❤
He was the perfect house guest and playmate to her young children. Nufan would be a wonderful addition to any family, or a marvelous companion for an active single person/couple or retirees. This awesome boy deserves a second chance at unconditional love!
*Nufan's adoption fee is $75, which includes neutering, worming, vaccines, microchip, and a free vet check with one of our participating veterinarians.
Kiwi is a playful and energetic pup, and would benefit from daily walks and exercise to keep her healthy and happy. A home with a fenced backyard would be ideal for this sweet girl . She is friendly and welcoming of other dogs, so she could easily join a home with existing pets. We recommend that Kiwi join a home with children at least 12 yrs of age, as she is fearful of small, rambunctious kiddos.
It appears that she is also crate and house trained because she keeps her kennel clean, and no accidents thus far.? In addition to being a trusted family pet, Kiwi would also be a cool companion for an active single person/couple or "on-the-move" retirees. She's definitely a dog who likes to be included in the fun. ?
*Kiwi's adoption fee is $75, which includes spaying, worming, vaccines, microchip, and a free vet check with one of our participating veterinarians.
Spike walks beautifully on a leash/harness, and he is house and crate trained. He would be a loyal partner for a single person/couple or active retirees. Despite his age, Spike enjoys being active, which includes daily walks, romping-n-playing in a fenced backyard, and games of fetch, which he loves! ? He could also join a family with older children, looking for a best friend with which to exercise and share adventures. Please consider coming in to meet Spike...he is a shining star at our shelter! ?
*Spike's adoption fee is $50, which includes neutering, worming, vaccines, microchip, and a free vet check with one of our participating veterinarians. Spike is heartworm negative.
Mallory initially came to us quite skittish of people, but our young volunteers Sabrina and Kennedy have worked on confidence building and leash training, and now this sweet girl is wagging her tail and enjoying affection and attention. In fact, she revels in being petted and doted upon. ? She makes instant friends with other friendly dogs, and seems drawn to calm-natured older children.
With a little patience and understanding, Mallory will blossom once in a home environment, whether it be in a family with children, or as the constant companion to a single person/couple or active retirees.
*Our adult dog adoption fee is $75, which includes spaying, worming, vaccines, microchip, and a free vet check with one of our participating veterinarians.
Join Friends of the Animal Shelter!
Puppy Dog Tales - March/April 2017
- by LB Kovac, photos by Ellis Anderson
Fostering animals is an important community service. Taking in a shelter cat or dog, even for a few nights, prevents another animal from ending up on the street, where they could endanger other animals or people.
“It also plays a pivotal role in getting the animals to their forever homes,” says Denise Hines.
Hines has worked as a volunteer with both the Hancock County Animal Shelter and Friends of the Animal Shelter in Hancock County (FOTAS).
Puppy Dog Tales
Costs can easily add up when owning a pet. Even small dogs or cats require some combination of food, crate or kennel, toys, and space to play.
As a pet parent, you would shoulder most of these expenses on your own. But, as a foster parent, those costs are shared with a community. The shelter and FOTAS distribute donated food, toys, leashes, and other necessities among foster parents, helping to defray costs.
And what could be the most expensive part of pet ownership – veterinarian visits - are provided free through the shelter. “There’s a vet on staff, if your foster animal needs medical services, and you have access to worming medication and flea and tick preventatives, among other things.”
An important part of the fostering process is getting animals ready for experiences outside of the shelter. In the shelter, animals spend much of their time in the kennel, but, outside in the big ol’ world, they encounter all kinds of strange noises and sounds and smells. Being socialized early on, in a safe environment, will ensure that the animal can thrive once it gets to its forever home.
“We welcome fosters with families and pets,” says Hines. “They can help the animals get used to interacting with other cats and dogs.”
There are some preventative measures in place, to make sure that both foster animal and foster family members are all safe and healthy. Along with an application, families or individuals looking to foster an animal must demonstrate that their own pets are spayed or neutered and up-to-date medication.
In turn, the shelter workers do their part to screen animals before fostering, only sending out animals that will work in a foster environment. “We never place an animal that is a medical threat,” says Hines, “and we work to make sure that they have a temperament suitable for other animals or kids.”
Although some foster situations do turn into adoptions, not every foster needs to be a lifelong commitment. Some fosters are just for a few days - think pet hotel.
The Hancock shelter participates in a rescue transport program, which matches adoptable animals with potential pet owners all over the country.
Before these animals “fly” to their new home, they need a place to stay – a hotel room, if you will. Willing fosters can take these animals for a few days “vacation,” so they can relax while waiting to be transported.
The shelter also sometimes experiences overcrowding. When space is limited, workers look to fosters to take extra animals until some are adopted or transported.
“Some fosters do take much longer,” says Hines, “but the typical case lasts less than 10 weeks.”
Fostering is, according to Hines, “critical to the shelter.” Without the work of fosters, animals would die.
Like all shelters, the Hancock shelter strives to be a no-kill shelter. However, the shelter is constantly walking a very thin line.
“Adoption rates in this area are high, but intake numbers are also high,” says Hines. In the past, the shelter has been lucky to find short-term fosters who could take in animals until others were adopted or transported out of state.
If the numbers were to tip just a little – say a few less adoptions one month, or a few too many animals found wandering the streets the next – the shelter wouldn’t have enough space or resources to provide for the animals. “We rely on the fosters; if not for them, some of these animals would have to be put down,” says Hines.
If you’re interested in fostering an animal, you can contact the shelter through their website or by calling (228) 466-4516. You can also check the shelter’s Facebook page for up-to-date information about emergency foster situations.
To all those who do support the shelter’s efforts, Hines has this to say: “This community is great about letting others know about the needs of the shelter… I love those animals, and I love our volunteers.”
Bay Area Dog Solutions
Sponsor Spotlight - Feb/March 2018
- by Ellis Anderson
They pout, they push the limits, they beg for your attention. They make you laugh often – and occasionally want to pull out your hair. But you can’t imagine living without them. The love you share is boundless.
Are we talking about children or dogs?
Both parents and dog-owners can identify with those statements because children and dogs are a lot alike, according to certified dog trainer Kathleen Markey.
Known to most of her friends and clients simply as “Markey,” the retired teacher and former college basketball coach is the owner of Bay Area Dog Solutions – or “BADS.” In addition to training, BADS offers pet-sitting in Markey’s home, doggie day-care and even transportation to and from the vet.
Markey has been a certified dog trainer for the past twelve years. She says it’s the perfect career for her – not only because she loves dogs – but also because training dogs runs a parallel path to her previous career.
She points out that impulse control training also is important to teach to young canines and humans.
But there’s a major difference between the two as well: dogs communicate mostly through body language. Markey explains that dogs watch their owners carefully and in most cases, “know the owners better than the owners know themselves.”
But that’s not a two-way street. People often don’t notice or they misinterpret their dog’s body language. “They’re talking to us all the time, but we don’t know what they’re saying.”
For example, if you’re hugging a dog and it rolls its eyes back so that the whites are visible, that’s known as “whale eyes.” It’s a sign of anxiety, not ecstasy.
“I sometimes see a dog being forced to greet another dog or kid and it’s showing whale eyes and ears back – clear signs of stress,” Markey says. “The dog is very scared. The owner should pay attention to that.”
Reading a dog’s body language is one of the primary things Markey teaches in group classes and while working with individual dog owners. In short sessions, she can evaluate the behaviors causing issues and begin to work with the owner on retraining the dog.
“If your dog won’t stop barking when the doorbell rings, or if it’s counter surfing, I can’t train it in my yard. And we can cover a lot of ground in 35 or 45 minutes.”
The retired educator especially likes teaching children about dogs, individually and in groups. Teaching them the basics in dog behavior and care can cut back on the chances of being bitten and help make them lifelong animal advocates. The workshops and kids’ camps also stress the responsibility owners have for their pets.
In fact, Markey has written an illustrated children’s book about relating to and caring for dogs. Titled “Whoodies Dos and Don’ts of Child Safety,” it’s told from the perspective of Markey’s celebrity dog, Who Dat.
Who Dat came into Markey’s life in 2010, after the BP oil spill had left thousands of dogs unable to be cared for by their owners. Many were abandoned. Other’s were surrendered. Like a small Maltipoo.
By that time, Markey had been working with Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO) for five years – she’d started volunteering immediately after Hurricane Katrina. The program’s director, Charlotte Bass, had encouraged her to pursue certification in dog training. As a trainer, Markey was able to reduce the rate of adoption return, simply by helping families and their new dogs learn to cohabitate peacefully.
In 2010, Markey, who had grown up with dogs in Chicago and later always had a dog companion who’d travel with her while recruiting for college basketball teams, was in deep mourning for a long-time dog who’d passed away. She was so distraught, she began working in the cat room at the shelter, unable to be around dogs that reminded her of the loss.
Charlotte found Markey in the cat room one day and proclaimed, “I’ve got your dog!” Markey protested that she didn’t want another dog. Charlotte ignored her and brought in “a little bit of white fluff.” Markey protested again. She’d always been a big dog person. Charlotte persuaded her to take the dog home for the weekend.
“If this is a yappy dog, I’m not taking it,” said Markey.
The two-year-old bit of fluff and Markey have been inseparable for the past seven years.
“There may have been a time or two when he actually watched games inside the Superdome,” says Markey, smiling.
In 2017, Markey made the move to Bay St. Louis. She’d been visiting a retired teacher friend who’d relocated and enjoyed the natural beauty and slower pace. As her retirement as an educator approached, she wanted to expand her part-time pet-sitting/dog-training service into a full-time business. BADS was born
Markey and Whoodie, can be often seen walking their guest dogs or riding on a scooter through the streets of town. The trainer’s volunteering with Friends of the Animal Shelter and she offers programs to help raise awareness about dog-human relationships.
Markey says that the most rewarding thing about working with and owning dogs is their unconditional love. She tells a story about a recent beach walk with a gigantic Great Pyranese, Buddy, who’s a regular in her daycare. The pair came on a distraught woman sitting alone on the beach. When they stopped to chat, the woman confessed she was upset after being affected by the government shut-down.
“Before you know it, Buddy put his head in her lap,” says Markey. “He made her forget her troubles for a minute and smile.
“It’s what dogs do.”
Saved by Shipping
Puppy Dog Tales - Jan/Feb 2018
- story by LB Kovac
If you visit the Hancock County Animal Shelter, you’ll likely see this: kennels and stacks of crates, full of barking and mewing animals eagerly awaiting adoption. The shelter is regularly filled to capacity with stray, abandoned and surrendered cats, dogs, horses, bunnies and other animals.
But this is an incredibly uncommon sight in animal shelters in northeastern states or along the East Coast. There, shelters have wait lists - made months in advance - to adopt animals. Eager pet-parents pay a fee that’s equal to a car note, or more, to take a rescue home.
Here is a tale of supply and demand, of too many animals at one shelter, and too few at another; as well as the story of the work of a few transport rescue groups, staffed mostly by volunteers, that save these animals by taking them on a cross-country trip to their forever homes. Here is also proof that legislation can basically eliminate the sad practice of euthanasia and have a major impact on animal cruelty.
Puppy Dog Tales
Friends volunteer work ranges from spreading the word about adoptable pets on social media, to playing foster parent to new puppies, to simply playing a round of fetch with a bored dog.
Hines also drives the van.
“We transport them into areas where there are almost no ‘disposable animals,’” says Hines.
Once a month, she, as well as a few other dedicated volunteers with Friends, pack up a big blue Ford Transit van with adoptable dogs and cats for the first leg of a cross-country trip out of the South.
Their first stop: Madison, Mississippi. “Rescue groups from across the region converge there,” says Hines. The animals ride in crates in the back of the van, with Hines and other drivers making frequent stops to clean the van, get humans and pets a snack and allow everyone a moment to stretch their legs.
From there, Hines says, “[Animal Rescue Front, Inc.] drivers take them up North.” Some animals will go to shelters in Virginia or Massachusetts, but some might travel more than a thousand miles to shelters as far away as Maine. Friends coordinates similar trips with other transport groups too.
It’s a long trip, but well worth it, both for volunteers and their furry passengers.
Even with these strict requirements for adoption, many of the dogs and cats that make this trip north are adopted before they even arrive at their destination shelters.
Last year, Friends of the Animal Shelter was able to save more than 400 dogs and cats by transport.
While transportation is a partial solution for the Hancock County shelter’s overcrowding problem, it still costs money. Each pet needs to have necessary shots, and tests for heartworms and infections, in addition to being conditioned for crates, transportation and family life.
None of this is provided by the county or the state; it is all funded by private and corporate donations. “Thankfully, the community is supporting it,” says Hines.
And that support (you can donate online now by clicking here!) is gladly welcomed because the other option, euthanasia, is unthinkable to the volunteers, who have seen too many worthy dogs meet their untimely ends.
Many shelters, like Hancock County’s, resort to euthanasia at times because there simply aren’t the resources – food, money, volunteers, medication and space – needed to keep animals healthy until they are adopted.
But both transporting pets out of state and euthanasia are merely stop-gap measures.
“In the North, many places require a renewable license for any pet; to obtain it, you have to be current and up-to-date on vaccines, and the pet must be spayed or neutered,” Hines says.
“Puppy mills simply don’t exist in these states. To license a dog that’s not spayed or neutered, people have to meet official requirements to become certified dog breeders.”
An NPR piece featured on “Morning Edition” points out empty shelters are now common throughout New England states and the whole of the Northeast, thanks to government programs: “spay and neuter programs, combined with strong participation by rescue groups, have greatly reduced the number of unwanted dogs” in these areas.
Once sterilization became a normal part of the pet adoption and licensing process, there were fewer unwanted and abandoned animals in those states.
Volunteers believe that if Mississippi were to adopt similar laws, the number of “unwanted” animals in the area would likely eventually fall to numbers that the local shelters could manage. The need for pet transportation groups and putting down sick or injured animals would become the exception, rather than the rule.
“If the government has respect for the animals and strict penalties for animal cruelty, that’s eventually reflected in the attitudes of the residents," says Hines.
But until that happens, volunteers like Hines welcome the continued support of the community in getting these pets to the loving homes they deserve. Hitting the road, in this case, saves hundreds of lives each year.
Puppy Dog Tales - July/August 2017
Love Lasts Longer With Pets in the Picture
The Human-pet companion bond is what I write about. For thousands of years we have been in partnership with you. The beginnings of our long association were in helping you hunt, or destroying vermin who ate stored food. Gradually the relationships grew. Today we are recognized as service animals and faithful, loving companions.
Dogs are used to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder, and as guides for people who cannot see and who need companions to help them live independently.
One of our specialties is acting as catalysts for communication and social interaction. We help teach children responsibility, and are often the only listeners who do not judge young people or adults. Much research and anecdotal data points to what we animals bring to relationships with people.
Puppy Dog Tales
The Association for Psychological Science reported that a group of psychological scientists, with James K. McNulty of Florida State University leading, developed a method for helping marriages that is not a surprise to me: pictures of puppies and bunnies.
Then they showed the participants a slide show once every three days for six weeks. Half were photos on a split screen with the spouse and positive images and words like incredible and wonderful. Half saw the split screen with neutral photos of things like chairs and neutral words.
Every two weeks for eight weeks the researchers measured attitudes and asked them how they felt about their spouse.
What this study measured was based on the concept of evaluative conditioning, which simply means identifying something or someone with a feeling, good or bad, that sticks with the something or someone.
You may have experienced this, for example, when you’ve eaten something, gotten sick, and forever hated that food. Another example happens when you identify a memory with a song. You hear a song, and you go back to a place or a time, maybe with a certain person.
The intervention worked, and marital satisfaction was improved. James McNulty and his associates were a little surprised at how effective the images were. McNulty was quoted as saying, “It was like they went on 13 artificial good dates.” I am not surprised at the results — nothing is better than puppies and bunnies.
The overall takeaway is that you associate friends, spouses, siblings, and coworkers with positive and negative thoughts and experiences that will influence relationships. Let us be a part of the positives in your relationships. Not only looking at pictures of puppies and bunnies, but also having them in your life will make your relationships more satisfying.
Just another way we make your lives better! Keep your tail high and your feet dry and think aboutadopting a pet from the shelter.
Puppy Dog Tales - May 2017
Snowbird Dogs (and Cats)
A few months ago we got a call from the Bay Hide Away RV Park. They wanted us to come for breakfast and to get a check for Friends of the Animal Shelter in Hancock County. "Sure," we said. My human, Christina Richardson, and I had a great breakfast and brought home a check to help with the spay and neuter program.
Bay Hide Away is a wonderful campground where many of the same people come back every year to see the sites on the coast and do things together. Joe and Michele Richard own the place and encourage their visitors to bring their pets.
Well, one thing led to another and I decided to get a few stories about these furry visitors to our area in the words of the humans who travel with them.
Puppy Dog Tales
My cat Silly, she can love you one minute & hiss at you the next. She loves to travel in our motor home. Silly sleeps on a rug on the dash and sometimes she even wants to drive. She loves Bay Hide Away Campground. She loves to watch the birds & has lots of sunshine for all her naps. Silly's quite vocal when she wants to eat, especially at 2am. But all in all, we wouldn't trade her. She's our little girl.
This is my mugshot from the paper shredding incident. But I was framed, the cat did it! After my rescue from Alabama and transport to Connecticut, I found my forever home. I now travel the country in a travel trailer (which is a whole lot easier to guard than a house) with my human. I get to sniff new places, score treats from new neighbors, and ride in a truck. But the place I have the most fun and spend the most time is Bay Hide Away. It's nice to have a place to come home to when you're 'On the go'. Marco Polo.
Shmoo from Wisconsin
Shmoo is our Bichon and the ruler of our household. How his name came about. Remember "Little Abner?" There was a small little group of bowling pin-sized white creatures. Their whole purpose in life was to make people happy. Our Shmoo lives up to this huge responsibility. He loves everyone!
Riley & Bella from Illinois
We love coming south for the winter. It gets so cold at home, we don’t get to go out and play very much. That’s all we do now! We love taking our mom & dad for walks, and would be amazing at chasing squirrels and rabbits, if they would just trust us and let us run free! It’s also lots of fun meeting up with our Snowbird “dog” friends. There’s always new dogs, like Stretch - that is her photo-bombing our picture. She is from Kansas. We sitting by the campfire too.
Rocky is 14 years old, and was rescued from Louisiana. He is the old man of the bunch and is retired from his days as Top Dog at Bay Hide Away RV Park! He loves to eat, sleep, go for short walks, play outside and eat lots of treats. He has traveled all over the U.S., visiting some of the Snowbird dogs. He prefers now to stay close to home and let them come to visit him!
Boomer is seven-years-old and a very sweet, friendly, fun dog. He loves to do everything and wants to be included in everything. He was rescued from a Flea Market in Louisiana. His first name was “Poppy” and then “Peanut." Through no fault of his own, the first two forever families did not work out. We changed his name to “Boomerang” (since he kept coming back) and he has been with us ever since!
Roux is an 11-year-old Bassett Hound. We rescued her when she was pregnant with eight puppies! She is fun-loving, never met a stranger, enjoys being around people, greeting other dogs and very playful. All of her puppies found forever homes, although her first born still lives with her! She loves to howl out a tune whenever she sees the camper’s walking or riding their bikes around the RV Park!
Youglee is a nine-year-old Bassett mix & Roux’s first born! He’s a sweetheart, loves people, animals, everything! Truly a momma’s boy, he gets teased a little for still living with his mom. He especially enjoys sitting on the backyard table or chair and watching the RVs go in and out. He loves going for walks and playing fetch with his toys. Youglee gets very excited when he meets the new campers and we joke that he cannot hold his “licker!"
Tiger Lilly - Michigan
At home our 15-yearo-old cat, Tiger Lilly, sleeps all day and goes out all night. So when we brought her here last year, she wanted to do the same thing. I carried her around the RV Park during the day so she could see where she was. The first time she asked to go out at night she came back in about 20 minutes.
This year, when we came back to Bay Hide Away RV Park, we worked with her outside during the day again, letting her explore near the motorhome. Now she is happily sleeping all day inside and going outside at night.
Gentle readers, Daisy told me I need to end with her special sign off so, keep your tail high and your feet dry.
Puppy Dog Tales - February 2017
What a Ride!
- by Christiana Richardson, PhD
This is the face of a dog of many accomplishments. The first was in just staying alive. In February of 2002 Daisy was born into Shetland Sheepdog royalty. Her grandfather Jade Mist Beyond Tradition was one of the top winning Shetlands of all time. Her father Jet Stream Cove Wave was a grand champion.
A breeder in Stafford County Virginia owned Daisy’s mother. Daisy was destined to be a show dog but there was a glitch in the plan. Ms. Daisy did not like being a kennel dog and was miserable. When she was nine months old she was sold to a family to be a pet. These folks were busy and kept her in a crate in the garage. After three months they turned her in to the Stafford County Animal Shelter.
Puppy Dog Tales
Together we wrote about and talked about issues that matter – not just to animal people but to everyone. Taking care of and loving and being loved is a gift not to be taken lightly. We are who we are because of the love in our lives. Make room for love and love in return.
This morning my constant companion of 15 years died in my arms. I will love her forever. I hope that you have had and will have the gift of unconditional love. I will cry with my friends and I know how lucky I have been. As Daisy said – dear gentle readers keep your tail high and your feet dry!
Puppy Dog Tales will go on – Daisy’s brother Robbie will be writing. I expect a rougher edge as he is a dominate male. Here is a photo of him last year with Daisy in her Micky Evans bustier. Mikey is not one who dresses up. Too frivolous!
I just happened to be there getting cat food and this dog walked over to me. She was up for adoption and it took about 20 minutes until she was mine. Two days after joining our family she got very agitated, tugging at me and whining. Shortly thereafter I had a seizure. She had alerted me. After doing this twice more my doctor said she had the gift and she became my registered seizure alert dog.
From this day forward she has been my constant companion and a game changer in my life. I was a management consultant and Daisy went with me. We stayed in hotels and ate in their restaurants. Daisy liked the tables with tablecloths to the floor and we wrote an article for the hotel magazine about that.
Soon we were writing for numerous papers on all things animal. Daisy got such a good reputation that I was asked to also do some writing. I became a journalist writing on many topics and Daisy and I have been on the masthead of three newspapers and a columnist for the Shoofly Magazine.
Puppy Dog Tales - August 2016
The Dog Days of August
It’s hot and my allergies are acting up. I am allergic to Eastern Cottonwood and Short Ragweed, Russian Thistle and Yellowdock, which is unfortunate for a dog whose native career is to herd sheep.
As few sheep are raised and grazed on Astroturf, herding is not what I do. I am a journalist. When I am not writing my column I accompany my person as a Seizure Alert Dog.
Are you hot? I sure am, and being in the dog days of summer — a period from about July 3 to August 11 — doesn’t make it any better. Why is it called the dog days, anyway?
Puppy Dog Tales
That’s because the star Sirius, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, (Latin for “Greater Dog”) is also the brightest star in the northern hemisphere’s summer sky. Did you know that there are 88 constellations and that 42 of them have animal names?
When I am hot I do a lot of lying around and trying to be in cooler surroundings. Because of that I see a lot just by being in the same room with people and I guess I am privy to more conversations between humans than the rest of my pals.
A person who is really fancy is “the cat’s meow.” You refer to someone working industriously as “busy as a beaver.” How about “snug as a bug in a rug”? Then there are “fat cats,” “old goats,” and “bookworms.” Humans can be “as happy as a clam,” “horsing around,” or living “a dog’s life.” And what does “it’s raining cats and dogs” mean? Wouldn’t it be a little strange if I were to get together with my female friends and have a “hen party”?
Here are a few tips you may want to follow. I am making sure that I do not go out in the heat of the day. When I do go out I pick a spot with shade or I do not venture out. I don’t wear shoes, so pavement is hot! Walks early and after sunset are all my feet can handle.
If I can’t go into a building I refuse to be left in the car. A girl could get in heat stroke territory or worse in just a few minutes. I drink plenty of water, changed frequently during the day. Groady grows quick in warm water. I get an allergy bath once a week and a good daily brushing. Then there is always the pool!
Good Neighbor - July 2016
- by Pat Saik
Puppy Dog Tales - June 2016
Using Massage to Check Your Pet’s Well-Being
- by Daisy Mae Delray, columnist and registered seizure alert dog
Everybody loves a massage. We pets do too. Giving a massage is a time for both owner and pet to bond, spend some soothing time together, and at the same time do a mini-diagnostic checkup.
For your basic massage there are a number of good books and videos to follow. This example from the American Animal Hospital Association is a good start.
Puppy Dog Tales
A diagnostic massage is a simple technique every pet owner can do. It simply means feeling all over your pet’s body with a light touch, noticing any parasites, warmth, coolness, sores, swellings, tumors, discharge; anything out of the ordinary or anything your pet seems sensitive to. If done on a weekly basis, your hands and eyes will know when something has changed that you need to pay attention to or to seek veterinary help with.
This is a suggested guideline of how you can do this type of massage. You can do this in any order you and your pet prefer.
●Start by touching your pet’s head with both hands and run hands down your pet’s cheeks and mouth.
●Look into their eyes and mouth, sniff for any off odors, look for marks, discoloration, chipped or dirty teeth.
●Feel around ears for lumps, hair mats, and other abnormalities. Look and sniff in the ear.
●From ears, move hands down their necks to the throat. Check for abnormalities, tenderness.
●From the throat move your hands down their chest, shoulders and front legs. Flex the legs, check the feet.
●Move your hands from the feet and down the back, sides and stomach, feeling for warmth, coolness, or anything unusual.
●Check rear legs and feet the same way you did the front.
●Feel and look at the rear area, around and under the tail and underbelly. Look for parasites, discharges and sniff for off odors.
Keep a journal of what seems different. You can use this with the vet. Be sure to check weight periodically. Watch your pet walk, both towards you and away, looking for stiffness, pain, or abnormal gait. Don’t forget to monitor stool production and consistency, and urination habits and flow.
You are using your eyes, your hands, and your nose to imprint a baseline impression of your pet’s body. Once you have done this a number of times you will notice something that is off normal.
Keep your tail high and your feet dry!
Love, Daisy Mae
Puppy Dog Tales - April 2016
Tea For Two - and More!
- by Daisy Mae Delray, columnist and registered seizure alert dog
Puppy Dog Tales - November 2015
Cats and Kids
We are big fans of Jackson Galaxy. Mr. Galaxy is the host of Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell and he tells it like it is about the relationships with our cats and those that amaze or drive us crazy.
Mr. Jackson became a cat behaviorist while working at an animal shelter. He said that it was a “necessity thing." He had to figure out how to address cat issues so they could be adopted. He is a frequent speaker for events sponsored by Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanub, Utah and other animal welfare organizations around the country and the globe.
Puppy Dog Tales
He also works to make sure that placements “stick” by teaching pet parents how to work with their pet kids. Add human children to the equation and you have an opportunity to teach two different species how to live together in harmony and how to avoid having tails pulled or getting scratched.
With young people in the household, learning the basics of cats and their natural behavior will make for happy everybody. In this video, entitled Cats and Kids Go Great Together, Mr. Galaxy share his thoughts on good relationships. The critical elements are to supervise kids and cats at all times, to teach your children empathy towards all living things at an early age, and to learn the basics of cat body language. One of the keys to good placement is matching personalities of the cat kid with the human kid (children size or grown up kid).
Do cats think of their owners as parents? Siblings? Friends? Rubbing around our legs when they greet us, cats are signaling that they regard us as friendly but at the same time slightly superior to them. When living in a family group, kittens rub on their mothers, females rub on bigger cats. The reverse rarely occurs.
Why do cats sometimes suddenly bite or scratch the person who is petting them? You have most likely missed a warning sign. Most cats love to be petted but only for a short while. Flattened ears and a slight switch of the tail lets you know that it is time to stop.
Why do cats knock objects off tables and shelves? Some are really just clumsy and others bat things off tables just to get your attention or because they do it for their own entertainment. In our household Ginger will hop on a table and you will hear scoot, scoot, crash. He seems to find this very amusing.
Why do cats climb into boxes, especially those that are too small? Cats love to feel protected and hidden, especially when they are taking a nap. Cardboard boxes are just dandy for felling secure. Why they pick boxes that are too small is a mystery.
Kitty Body Language
- Licking cats of the same size and status grooming each other. This behavior helps the cats bond and reduces the potential for aggression. It is a genuine demonstration of affection.
- Kneading. This is what kittens do to stimulate their mother’s milk. In adult cats this is affectionate behavior and the person being kneaded is seen as being in a superior, mothering role.
- Lying on its back with belly exposed. This is one relaxed cat that trusts you and its environment.
If you have a cat in your life you will find as Yogi Berra said “ You can observe a lot just by watching”. If you don’t have a cat in your life, consider adding one to your family. You will have a built in stress reducer. Just watch this video and you will be convinced.
Love, Daisy Mae
Puppy Dog Tales - July 2015
- by Daisy Mae Delray
Big Black Dog Syndrome
The Animal Shelter in Hancock County is having a special the first week in July. From the 6th of July through the 10th you can adopt a dog for $20 or a cat for $10. What a great deal!
If you are looking for a dog or a cat please do not overlook the big black ones, the seniors or pets with special needs. Did you know there is something called the Big Black Dog Syndrome? This applies to cats as well as dogs, so I am going to call it the black animal syndrome.
Statistics from Pet Finder.com shows that it takes four times as long to get a black animal adopted.
Puppy Dog Tales
I am a mostly black dog who was almost euthanized, so hearing about this got my attention. Big black dogs are consistently the hardest dogs to place – even if they are friendly and healthy and well-trained.
There are a number of reasons for this sad statistic, including the fact there are lots of black dogs, there are so many to choose from, they don’t photograph as well, and they look “ordinary” - whatever that means. To make it worse, a bad depression is often referred to as a visit from the "black dog." Finally, black dogs are often portrayed as the “bad guys” in the movies.
In January 2014, NBC did a piece on black dogs. It appears that big black dogs are starting to get some attention, but there are still too many of them overlooked.
Reason number ten: We don’t clash with your furniture or clothing
Reason number nine: We don’t clash with any collar you might choose either
Reason number eight: Ease of vacuuming! You can quickly spot the areas of most need
Reason number seven: We hide the dirt well
Reason number six: We make an excellent “backdrop” for a second lighter colored dog
Reason number five: Availability! We are available at every shelter and rescue place
Reason number four: No annoying questions about breed. People are content with “BBD
Reason number three: Excellent for night walks. The “bad guys” are afraid of us
Reason number two: Status symbol potential –we are black pearls
Reason number one: WE NEED YOU
Puppy Dog Tales - May 2015
A Canine Candidate
This month - Daisy Mae, inspired by other non-human candidates for office, announces her own candidacy to raise money and awareness for animal issues!
Puppy Dog Tales
I am not a novice at this as I have interviewed senators, governors and mayors for stories I have written in the past. I even applied for a position in Federal Government. That was for Chief of Staff for the President’s dog, Bo. In my application I wrote. “In general a chief of staff provides a buffer between a chief executive, i.e. First Dog and that of the executive’s direct reporting team (handlers, chefs, walkers, media, etc.).”
I went on to state, “As Chief of Staff I will be working behind the scenes to solve problems, mediate disputes and deal with issues before they bubble up to 1st Dog. Often I will act as confidante and advisor to 1st Dog, acting as a confidential sounding board for ideas.” I did not get that position, which in a way is a good thing, because if I was there I could not be here.
To prepare myself, I checked to see how animals have done in political races. I was not surprised to find numerous examples, such as the race in 1938 in Milton, Washington State where Boston Curtis, a brown mule, won his Republican precinct seat by 51 votes. Several animals in the U.S. have been elected mayors of small towns such as Rabbit Hash, KY, where a black lab named Junior Cochran won the majority of votes. In Lajitas, Texas a beer-drinking goat named Clay Henry III became mayor and in August 2014, a seven-year-old mixed-breed dog named Duke became the new mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota.
Three races in particular caught my eye. Stubbs the Cat won the race as honorary mayor in Talkeetna, Alaska. Stubbs was elected mayor in 1997 and he recently retired to run for senate as he realized that “Alaskans needed a resounding voice, even if it is in the form of a meow.” I liked his media campaign which you can see on Youtube below:
My last example is a little closer to home. In Fairhope, Alabama, a seven-year-old Labrador retriever by the name of Willie Bean Roscoe P. Coltrane ran for mayor. He was the only dog running against seven men. Willie Bean was invited to candidate’s forums and other events. I like the energy he brought to the election process, adding a little fun and the other candidates embraced the idea of Willie in the race.
Okay, I am announcing my candidacy for the position of Hancock County Supervisor at Large for Animal Issues. I am too late to get on the official ballot so it will have to be write-in only. We are just starting the race so I will give you additional information in my next column.
Right now, I am focusing on campaign materials and strategy. I will be running on issues important to all citizens of Hancock County which include: No more puppy mills, along with spay and neuter, as a start. More to come!
Please contact us if you want to serve on my campaign committee. I can be reached through my person at 228.222.7018 or Christina@figaroconsulting.com.
Keep your tail high and your feet dry. Love, Daisy Mae
Sponsor Spotlight - May 2015
Friends of the Animal Shelter
- by Ellis Anderson
photos courtesy Friends of the Animal Shelter
Founded in 2001, Friends, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, has thousands of supporters and 200+ members. Dr. Christina Richardson has served as Friends president for the past two years and one of her goals in office is to create more public awareness about the group and exactly what it does.
Richardson says that Friends was started in 2001 by Mickey Hemsley and Paula Leone, animal lovers who were concerned about the soaring rate of euthensia of unwanted pets at the Waveland animal shelter – which at the time, served as the only animal shelter for the entire county with it’s human population of 40,000 people.
One of the group’s early goals remains in place: To end euthanasia as a viable means of control for the pet overpopulation problem in Hancock County. To achieve that goal, Friends works as a support group for the County Animal Shelter.
There are several national groups like that work animal issues, rescue and educate people, like the Humane Society of the U.S., and the ASPCA.
There are also many humane societies and rescue organizations that work locally. The Humane Society of South Mississippi runs the Gulfport Shelter is a good example – most people on the coast are familiar with that group and their work.
The Hancock County Animal Shelter is run by the county, using county employees and funds. The cities of Bay St. Louis, Diamondhead and Waveland also provide some financial support. In many places, communities have their own shelters. Here, there is one shelter and it’s supported by the communities served.
The problem is the county’s annual budget sets aside a finite amount of funds each year to run the shelter. Meanwhile, there is no limit to the number of strays or surrenders (dogs/cats that are dropped off at the shelter by people) that come into the shelter each month. No one can predict how many injured animals will be brought in each week. And even a psychic couldn’t foretell how many animals might be adopted in a given year.
So frequently, the shelter runs into shortfalls. And in the sad world of logistics versus life, dogs and cats are put down.
Friends of the Animal Shelter works to fill that gap and save animal lives. The organization does that through a number of programs.
SNAP – The Spay/Neuter Assistance Program is set up to primarily help people in the community who already have animals. In 2014, Friends gave out over 1000 vouchers for low-cost or free spaying or neutering of pets. Several area vets work with Friends and accept these vouchers.
Trap/Neuter and Release Program – Since feral cats are a big problem in Hancock County, Friends volunteers trap the cats and after they are neutered or spayed, the cats are returned to their colony (if there’s someone willing to feed them). Non-breeding cats in a colony actually keep out new ones, eventually ending the cycle.
Richardson says that the spay/neuter programs help the problem of pet overpopulation more than most people realize. Statistics make her point. In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats. One female dog and her offspring can produce 99,000 dogs.
Shelter Support – Friends help out by purchasing medical supplies and equipment that the shelter can’t obtain on its own. Friends also collects supplies and food for the shelter and provides transport and volunteers to take adoptable dogs and cats to area Pet-Smarts each Saturday, where many find their “forever homes.”
The GUMBO fund – Donations to Friends can be designated to help injured or sick animals brought into the shelter.
Community Outreach – Events like Barksgiving, Tea With Friends, the Holiday Tour of Homes and the Second Saturday baked goods table help bring awareness to the public, as well as raising funds that will be funneled into local animal welfare.
The old Waveland Shelter was badly damaged in Hurricane Katrina and has been replaced with a new facility built in the county with help from the Bucksmont foundation. Yet, with room for only twenty dogs, it was already too small by the time it opened.
However soon, the Animal Rescue Site will be offering funds and volunteers that will work with Friends. They’ll actually triple the current capacity of the shelter by building addition (see details and donate here!).
According to Richardson, one reason Friends has been so successful is that they provide a way for people to make a difference.
“Friends tries to present a positive approach,” says Richardson. “We don’t play on emotions. Our calls to action give people a way to change things for the better.”
Richardson has several animal companions of her own, including miniature horses. Her seizure-alert dog, Daisy Mae Delray has written and published articles about animal awareness for years – and is a regular correspondent for the Cleaver with her “Puppy Dog Tales” column.
Although, of course, Richardson writes the columns herself from Daisy’s perspective, she jokes that when Daisy Mae is not feeling well, the writing just doesn’t flow.
“There’s nothing wrong with treating animals with the same depth of empathy that you treat a human,” says Richardson. “Studies show that there’s a strong tie between the way we treat our animals and the way we treat our children.”
“Everything is interrelated. It’s respect for life, period.”
Friends is currently looking for volunteers, especially to help with the feral cat trap catching program, but all the programs need helping hands.
“We want people who really love and care for their animals and want to help improve the lives of other animals in Hancock County. And have a great time working with Friends.”
Check for the Cleaver's monthly updates from the Hancock County Animal Shelter!
Puppy Dog Tales - April 2015
Read Me a Story
This month - Daisy Mae takes part in a reading program at the Boys and Girls Club.
I love being a service dog and a journalist. I get to do so many things and I am always so impressed that one good thing so often leads to another. Let me explain. During the Mississippi Week for the Animals two years ago I went to the Pearlington Library during story hour. I love meeting the children and a neat thing about going to the library or to the Boys and Girls Club is that I always get to hear a good story. This story hour was no exception.
We gathered around a short table with little chairs. I like the little tables and chairs because I can see better, otherwise all I see is knees and feet. So we settled in. The story selected was "Two Bobbies: A Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival" by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery and illustrated by Jean Cassels.
Puppy Dog Tales
The wind and the rains came and there was no rescue in sight. Bobbi and Bob Cat had eaten all their food and drunk all the water that was left. After days Bobbi finally broke her chain and went in search of family, food and water. No luck. They were on the street for four months until they were rescued and taken to the Best Friends Animal Society shelter that has been set up in Celebration Station. That’s all of the story you get. To find out what happens you will have to get the book and ask your children to read it to you.
Micky Evans, founder of Friends and her beloved Catahoula, Isobel, went to schools and anywhere there were children to teach them how to be good stewards to their pets. One day while she was in her store (before the storm) a woman and her son came by and the boy recognized Micky and Isobel from a presentation she had given. When Micky asked him what he had learned he said, “spay and neuta your pets”. Kids are like sponges and they absorb as much as we can give them.
We started out reading at the library and then last year started at the Boys and Girls Club here in Hancock County as a joint project with the Hancock County Library. Club Director, Shannel Smith (Cleaver Good Neighbor, February 2015) was eager to help the students improve their reading skills and the parents were presented the idea at a parents meeting and like the idea. So what we do on the first and third Wednesdays is show up with dogs and we get read to. We educate a little but the real focus is to increase reading skills. It is so much fun for me to have the kids remember who I am and to be so eager to read to me.
Right now we have me and my brother Robbie and our beagle friend Rosie. We are adding another therapy dog for next time so that means we can read with 12 children at a time – 3 for each dog. The kids select a book and take turns reading aloud. If one stumbles on a word the others help out. What excites me the most is the improvement we see every time we come.
Start early with your children and have them read to you, their siblings and any pets in the home. If they don’t know the words – the picture can tell the story. Soon they will be getting books out and demanding that you listen to them read. Natalie pointed out one interesting point. When the kids come to read, they recognize us and we recognize them.
“They are getting affirmation,” Natalie told me. She said that they feel that “I am doing a good job – this dog is sitting next to me and listening." “When they start school and they don’t have a good foundation," Natalie said, “Studies show the kids cannot catch up.” Something that seems so simple as reading out loud is really quite profound.
So that is the program and what do I want you to do? Have your children read to you and their pets. You will find that time you spend together is calming, rewarding and so much fun. As an aside, if you don’t have children then you can read to your pets. We understand more than you think we do and we love to hear the sound of your voice. My person yaks at us all the time and we have awesome vocabularies. You can also read more about the benefits of reading programs by looking at the website, www.Librarydogs.com. There is an adorable Today Show presentation on their site about reading to dogs.
Finally, consider having your pet trained as a therapy animal. In the Sun Herald there is a notice that the Pass Christian Library is continuing their sponsorship for the Sit, Stay, R.E.A.D Visiting Pet Teams of South Mississippi Children’s Reading Program. A friend of mine, Eleanor Rose Hunter runs an organization called Angels on Paws out of Slidell, LA. Her group is an affiliate of Intermountain Therapy Animals R.E.A.D. program. Eleanor is working to set up a R.E.A.D, program at the Diamondhead library. If you are interested in more information about R.E.A.D. their website is www.therapyanimals.org.
Send my person an email for more information on the Friends of the Animal Shelter Reading with Friends or to get involved. She is at firstname.lastname@example.org or 228.222.7018
Keep your tail high and your feet dry – love Daisy Mae
Puppy Dog Tales - March 2015
Gaits to Success
This month - Daisy Mae visits a confidence-building program in Kiln that benefits both humans and horses.
I have been trying to meet with Carolyn Rhodes, Director of Gaits to Success for a couple of months. It has been too cold and rainy to have classes but the rain gods gave us a break on Saturday morning and I was able to see some students in action.
Before I get into my morning at Gaits to Success I want to mention that we are involved with Friends of the Animal Shelter in Hancock County. My "person," Christina Richardson, is the current president. We are coming up on kitten and puppy season and as always many of them will wind up as discards.
Puppy Dog Tales
Another way we keep the numbers down is the feral cat program where we trap, sterilize and then release cats back to their neighborhood. We need more trappers as Jen has been doing almost every one. For information on how to volunteer for these and other programs contact my person, Christina at 228.222.7018 or send an email to email@example.com.
Flea season is year-round in south Mississippi and keeping them under control is a challenge and a pain. We have been using food-grade diatomaceous earth in the yard. It is safe and dries up their little bodies. I have friends who have dusted it on their pets and bedding as well. Read more about it here and as always, follow the instructions for usage.
Now on to Gaits to Success. I am dedicating this column to the memory of Peppermint Patty, a Percheron/Tennessee Walking Horse mix who worked at Gaits to Success for many years and was loved by everyone.
Drive up 603 and turn left at Dolly’s in the Kiln. Go a few miles and on the right is the sign for Gaits to Success. It sits on 10 acres and has pasturage, a barn, equestrian ring, classroom, horses, cats, and Carolyn Rhodes. This is no ordinary training facility. This is a PATH Center.
PATH stands for the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, which is an organization that serves as resource and advocate for equine-assisted activities and therapies, and the equines in this work that inspire and enrich the human spirit. According to PATH, there are more than 850 member centers worldwide, divided into regions with Gaits being in region 5, which includes Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, Africa, and the Caribbean Islands.
I checked with PATH to see how many centers there are in Mississippi. There are only seven listed: Mississippi State, Nesbit, Columbus, Burnsville, Brandon, Caledonia and Gaits in Kiln. This is a big deal and a very special gift for the Mississippi Gulf Coast to have a PATH center right here.
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Horses have been used for therapy for hundreds of years. In 1946, after cases of polio crippled children, riding therapy was introduced in Denmark by Liz Hartnel, an accomplished horsewoman who contracted polio. She was determined to ride again and her daily sessions brought back muscle strength and coordination. She went on to win the silver medal for dressage in the 1952 Olympics.
On Saturday it was breezy and cool as we drove up and parked. Three horses were saddled and ready to go. On staff this morning were Carolyn Rhodes, Director of the program, Lisa Munson, Debi Dowell-Ferris and Dimond Banks. Lisa is a physical therapist who works with children. She loves horses and is impressed by the synergy between the horses and the riders. “The way the children respond - some are over stimulated and then, once on the horse, just calm down.”
Debi was telling me that she loves being around horses and that “I have seen what happens when the rider gets that sense of trust and confidence. Once I saw Carolyn take her hand and put it over the hand of a girl who was wary of the horse, and then put both hands on the horse. I watched the child relax.”
Two parents arrived with their children. Nikki Palermo-Denoux’s son Christian, in the blue striped shirt has been coming since he was four. He is eight now. Today he was riding Levi, a sixteen-year-old horse who had been “thrown away.” He has been working with clients for five years now and is a favorite. Nikki is a veterinarian in Gulfport and she is very happy with Christian’s progress. She is also impressed with the care given to the horses and has a great deal of confidence in Carolyn.
Watching the riders with their spotters was amazing. They started out a little tentative and then you could see them relax. Riding works on the core muscles and focuses the riders. During the hour-long session riders walked over pipes, around barrels, did cognitive exercises and interacted with their horses.
Gaits to Success was started in 1991. It offers a unique approach to assist clients with mental, physical and emotional disabilities. Volunteers undergo rigorous training as instructors and assistants. I have heard from so many people who have been involved with Gaits, and who see this facility as a real treasure to support and promote. Over the years Gaits has worked with college students, 4-H and Key Club members as volunteers, and has been a location for Special Olympics and Paralympics.
I especially enjoyed watching the parents watch their children grow in confidence while riding. The benefits of riding, along with the cognitive activities, increase self-esteem, self-confidence, attention span, concentration, dexterity, auditory and visual learning, and memory. Most important to me was the happiness I saw in all the faces. At the end of the session it was time to go home. My person has become a volunteer and will start her training next week. We will keep you updated.
For more information on Gaits to Success call 228.255-5368, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well gentle readers, keep your tail high and your feet dry! Daisy Mae
Puppy Dog Tales - February 2015
This month - Ten ways to help keep our animal companions healthier and happier.
Keeping Us Healthy and Happy
I have been plagued by hot spots for the past few years. I am allergic to something in the grass that makes me itch and get little red blisters on my stomach. This year I got treated with a homeopathic remedy and I am so much better. My success gave me the idea to ponder on and share with you some ideas on how you can look after our physical, mental and emotional health. Keeping us happy and young at heart takes effort. Here are 10 tips that will help you do that.
Puppy Dog Tales Column
2. Vitamins can play an important role in your pet’s health. Check the labels or provide supplements to make sure we get plenty of anti-oxidants and all the other breed and species requirements. Check with a holistic vet or your pet food provider for specifics. Age and condition will be influencing factors. My person pays attention to my coat, my hair, my eyes, and my skin condition.
3. Exercise – Keep us moving. We need plenty of exercise to prevent obesity and to keep our
joints, heart and lungs in good working order. Be cautious when it is hot and the pollution levels are high. If it is too hot and dangerous for you or the pavement is too hot for you to run on bare feet, it is bad for us too. One caution, don’t overdue it when your pet is just starting an exercise program. Keep ages, condition and breed recommend levels of exercise in mind.
4. Vaccine caution. There are risks associated with over-vaccination. Some are required by law and the rest depend on the condition of the animal. Discuss vaccinations with your vet. I have a titer test every year. This is a simple blood antibody test that will tell you if your pet is still protected by the last series of vaccines.
5. Veterinarian check-ups are really important. Develop a good relationship with your vet and decide together on when check-ups should be. Between visits pay close attention to changes n behavior and do a body check at least weekly for bumps and sores and cuts, etc. Be a partner with your pet’s health provider. Look into health insurance to help with major expenses and the unexpected.
6. Teeth care – Periodontal disease is a real problem if not dealt with early. It can cause pain, gingivitis, tooth loss and infections that can spread to the kidney’s heart or other organs. I have a tooth brush and my teeth are brushed daily. My favorite toothpaste is chicken flavored. I also get organic carrots and apples to crunch on and the occasional raw knuckle bone. These help clean my teeth and give my jaw a good work out. There are some products you can use as an anti-bacterial spray if you laughed when I said use a toothbrush.
7. Take caution when using chemical pest controls. If you can, use natural products for prevention of fleas and mosquito repellant. What is recommended for dogs may not be safe for cats. Read the labels. Talk to your vet about your specific pet. Use flea combs, frequent brushing and do not use any product counter to the very specific recommendations for that product. Older, very young and sick animals may not be good candidates for some of these medications.
8. Good hygiene, especially in humid climates area is critical. Many of my friends have allergy problems. Daily grooming, bathing when needed ( not too often as you can strip the oils for our skin and we get dry and flaky), and a healthy diet will all help keep your pet’s coat and skin healthy. I like an oatmeal and aloe shampoo because I have that allergy to something in the grass. Because I am a service dog I need a bath every month to stay sweet smelling and shiny.
9. Keep our minds sharp. We need to be around others. People and other animals and new places and situations keep us sharp and interested. I do some agility training and most of my dog friends have been to obedience school. Dablonde, one of our cats, can do some amazing tricks and she has a video on birds that she just loves to watch. Just like most people, we get bored easily and if you don’t provide some appropriate toys we will find out own, like your best shoes or new chair.
10. Lavish us with love and attention. Two of my favorite things are massage and Reiki. Just think how much you love a massage, especially after exercising. Massage soothes stiff joints and improves circulation and it feels so good. Reiki I love because of my aging bones and the allergy I have. Let me tell you a little about Reiki. I know about Reiki because my human is a Reiki practitioner and she has a number of animal clients. Reiki is the practice of using energy to facilitate healing. A Reiki practitioner is attuned to this energy on a level that enables them to channel it through their hands and facilitate healing. Reiki is very soothing and it calms me down and I love the warm touch of hands on the places where I feel sore. One of my neighbors, a greyhound has a seizure disorder that, in spite of medication, was manifesting in at least a seizure a day. Regular Reiki treatments have reduced the number of seizures and Avery is feeling much better. Massage and Reiki are only two of the many alternative, holistic health treatment that are being used to improve the lives of pets and humans. Read more about them.
Keep your tail high and your feet dry, Love Daisy Mae
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