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Today the Montgomery County Animal Shelter received a call to pick up EIGHT beautiful purebred boxers. Not from a hoarder. Not from an abuse case. From the home of a woman who died.

These poor dogs had apparently been alone with their human’s body for at least a week. Each was locked in a crate, and thus had no access to food or water. And now, because they have nowhere else to go, they are in the shelter, where we are trying hard to get them placed with rescues.

I wish I could say that it’s unusual for the pets of the deceased to wind up in shelters. It isn’t.

In Montgomery County alone, this is the second case of dogs being found with the dead body of an owner who died unnoticed and alone to come to my attention in less than a month. We also get a truly depressing number of pets dumped at shelters by the heirs and families of people who die or go into nursing homes.

I cannot imagine what kind of heartless people can cavalierly dump the beloved pets of their deceased parents or grandparents at a shelter, knowing the likelihood that the animal will end up being euthanized. But it happens every day – not just in Montgomery County, but everywhere.

So to my animal loving readers: make plans for your pets just as you would for your children. If something happens to you, who gets the dogs? Are you sure the person you choose can and will take on the responsibility? Can they afford to keep your pets if they develop veterinary needs later in life?

One good friend of mine adopted a middle aged corgi after he was dumped at MCAS. The nasty woman who turned him in had agreed to keep him for the rest of his life when his original owner – a woman in her nineties – went into a nursing home. This woman – such a devoted friend – kept this poor dog barely six months and then dumped him at the shelter. The shelter explained to her that an eleven year old corgi with some minor medical issues was not highly adoptable and did not stand a good chance of getting out alive. She didn’t care. As she explained it, no one told her how much responsibility owning a dog entailed, or she would never have agreed to take him. And this is a low maintenance nice little dog! Mercifully, we were able to place him with a friend of mine who will give him a good home for the rest of his life.

This corgi’s original owner thought she had provided for her beloved pet. Unfortunately, she put her trust in the wrong person. The little guy was lucky enough to end up in a much better situation, but how many pets like him die in shelters because of poor planning by their original families? It is especially bad when the pets are older or have some veterinary issues, because they become much harder to place.

Every pet owner who reads this, please:

  • I don’t care how old you are. Designate in writing who should get your pets if something happens to you. Please be sure that you have discussed it with the people in question so that you are sure they are willing to accept that responsibility
  • Make sure there is more than one notarized copy of the document specifying who gets your pets, and under what conditions. Your attorney should have this on file with your will and other estate planning documents. If you don’t have an attorney, keep it with your other important personal papers where it can be readily found, and make sure someone else has a copy.
  • If at all possible, make financial provisions so that the person inheriting custody of your pets will be able to afford their care. You can set up a trust that pays the vet bills, or dispenses a set amount per year for the remainder of your pet’s natural life.
  • If your pet has any special needs or quirks, make sure that information is always written down somewhere, along with the name and phone number for your vet. I keep that information on my refrigerator. I use it for my petsitter, but it’s handy to have in case someone had to assume responsibility for my furkids.

They are completely dependent on us for everything. We commit to them for the rest of their lives – not the rest of ours. Please, make sure they are taken care of, no matter what.

Lennox was put down this morning. In case you don’t know, Lennox was taken away from his family in Ireland, declared dangerous, kept in jail for two years, and then killed. Why? Because he LOOKED like he might be a pit bull.

Animal behavior experts declared him a safe pet. Animal welfare experts offered to send him to the USA and place him in a safe home. The Belfast City Council killed him anyway. Animal welfare people all over the United States are outraged by this travesty. And they should be. But here’s the thing.

It could have happened here just as easily.

All over the United States, there is a quiet little war being waged. Insurance companies refuse to insure people who have certain breeds of dogs. Landlords refuse to rent to people who have certain dogs. Some shelters even automatically euthanize certain breeds, because their city councils or county commissioners or insurance companies won’t allow them to adopt out these animals.

The mainstream media doesn’t help. Every time a dog does anything remotely aggressive, the first question is always “what kind of dog was it?” If it was a pit or a Rottweiler, it’s suddenly headline news.

Communities, towns, counties, even entire states are passing or attempting to pass Breed Specific Legislation. Such laws make it illegal to own certain types of dog within the designated area. This is the worst kind of blind prejudice. It can – overnight – become illegal to own a pit bull, or a Rottweiler, or a Doberman. If you have one, you have to move or get rid of your dog. Or they will take your dog away and kill him.

I know. Not everyone loves these big strong dogs with a reputation (however undeserved it might be) for being potentially aggressive. I don’t suggest that everyone has to love them. I will say, however, that statistics show that pit bulls pass behavior testing at a much higher rate than quite a few breeds commonly thought of as excellent pets. I will also point out that statistics on aggressive dogs are very, very skewed by the fact that the general public tends to assume that any square headed, muscular, short haired dog is a pit bull, and the officers taking a report of dog aggression have to write down what the witnesses or victims report.

Some of you are probably saying right now, “Well, I have a poodle. It’s not my problem.”

Oh yes it is.

Aside from the inherent WRONGNESS of making it illegal to have a particular type of dog because it MIGHT some day bite someone, because another dog of the same breed once bit someone…this is a  very slippery slope. If we allow pit bulls to be legislated out of existence, then what’s next? Chows, Dogo Argentinos, Rottweilers, Dobermans? How about mastiffs? After all, they’re big, so they must be dangerous. How about Chihuahuas? They pass the temperament test at a much lower rate than pits do. Once the door is opened, it will be much harder to close.

Breed Specific Legislation is currently illegal in Texas. Even so, many shelters still won’t adopt out certain breeds; breed specific POLICIES are not illegal. BSL (and such associated policies) should be illegal everywhere. Every dog deserves a chance to live a happy life without the fear of being seized and killed because it resembles a dog that once did something bad. Pits, for example, also make great service or therapy dogs. Yet the media never focuses on all the good things associated with the breed; they egg on the hysteria of people who fear the breed without understanding it.

Make no mistake. BSL is WRONG. No government has the right to declare that an animal does not have the right to live simply because of its appearance. Dogs are individuals, and should be evaluated as such. Period.

And if we allow any government to condemn one breed, your dog’s breed may be the next one they target.

In honor of Lennox and all the other dogs who died because of human ignorance and fear, stand up against Breed Specific Legislation. Don’t let it happen to anyone’s else dog. Not anywhere, not ever.

In recent weeks, I have encountered several cases of bad behavior within the animal welfare community. Political strife between rescue groups, disputes over veterinary decisions, nasty Facebook attacks over intake policies, personality conflicts between volunteers…we’ve got enough material for our own little reality show going here.

Let me say this as gently as possible.


Working in animal welfare is consistently heart-breaking, stressful, and endlessly rewarding, regardless of  whether we do so in a paid capacity or, like most of us, as a volunteer. The worst part for all of us is that we know we’re trying to bail out the ocean with a dixie cup. We KNOW we can’t save them all.

Animal welfare people see the results of human neglect, indifference, and cruelty every single day. We try to repair the damage done to starved, abused, injured, neglected, sick animals that other pseudo-humans threw away. We win some, and that keeps us going. We lose some, and it wears us down.

We literally deal in life and death on a daily basis. And when you deal with such irrevocable consequences, disagreements and differences of opinion are inevitable. It is not unusual for two good rescuers or volunteers to reach radically different conclusions about what to do with a particular animal. That doesn’t necessarily mean one is wrong and one is right. It means that they have differing opinions about whether that animal can be safely rehabilitated and adopted into a forever home. Or maybe they don’t agree on how to handle a veterinary or behavioral problem.

I’m not going to pretend that bad rescuers and fosters don’t exist. They do. The ones who take on more than they can handle. The ones who take a dog home to foster, but don’t follow through with any effort to get the dog adopted and then return it to the shelter a year later, when the now adult dog will be harder to find a home for. The ones who don’t follow basic safety protocol and end up spreading contagious illnesses through their entire animal population. The ones whose animals are out of control and drive the neighbors crazy. The ones who show up for adoption events with filthy unkempt animals. We all know they exist.

But they are NOT the majority. The majority of animal welfare people are self-sacrificing, sincerely devoted to the animals in their care, and constantly looking for ways to help more.

As a community, let’s acknowledge that none of us can do this alone. We need each other. Shelter volunteers, fosters, rescuers, fundraisers, transporters…we are all necessary parts of a symbiotic system. Some of us may not have the best people skills in the world, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t good at what we do. It just means that we might like dogs better than people…no surprise to anyone in animal welfare.

Take time to appreciate the other volunteers and paid animal welfare workers you deal with. Support each other. Offer help instead of criticism. Ask for help if you need it. If someone does something you disagree with, address it privately and tactfully.

Like the dogs we work to save, some of us have behavioral issues and personality quirks. That doesn’t make us bad; it makes us…unique. Treat the other animal welfare people around you the way you treat your dogs…with kindness, patience, and attention to their well being. Treats are good too. One suggestion – save the belly rubs for your closest friends.

In the last year and a half, I have adopted three new dogs, which brings the current population to three dogs and one kitty. Why is this relevant? Because, in the last couple of days, I have learned that the new kids HATE fireworks.

For several years, I had hard of hearing senior dogs. Fireworks and other loud noises meant nothing to them. Elizabeth, the first to arrive of the new crew, doesn’t like loud noises, but is willing to ignore them. She curls up in her chair and pretends not to notice.

Oliver and Buddy are not so tolerant.

Some moron just set off firecrackers nearby, and it isn’t even dark outside yet. Oliver has been barking about it for five minutes now. A couple of nights ago, someone was setting off what sounded like BIG fireworks shortly after dark. Buddy went ballistic (you should pardon the expression). And when he has a fit, so do the twins. He barks, Oliver and Elizabeth bark. If he keeps barking, his voice is so big that the twins resort to howling to be heard over him.

The noise – both from the dogs and from the fireworks – is bad enough. And I can secure the twins in their playpen, where they feel safe. Buddy, however, has the run of the house, and when fireworks start booming, RUN is the operative word. He does laps through the house, bellowing all the while. He clearly thinks we are under attack.

Fireworks are a problem around here every Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. It generally sounds like a full scale ground invasion with artillery. And pets HATE all that racket. July 5th and January 1st are the two biggest intake days for animal shelters all over the country.

So how do you keep your pet safe?

Well, ideally, you live someplace without fireworks. If that’s not an option, then you must take steps to protect your pet. Frightened pets will claw their way out of fences, slip out of collars, even break windows in the blind panic caused by the constant barrage of loud noises. Many a pet owner has come home late on the Fourth to either find their pet missing or their house demolished by a frightened pet.

A little planning can keep your pet and your home safe.

First, I strongly recommend not leaving pets home alone on a fireworks night if it can be avoided. Especially if you have a new pet, you need to be home to see how your pet will react to the commotion. Don’t just leave them loose and assume they’ll be fine – a normally well-behaved pet may run completely amok. Don’t stick them in a crate and think that settles it, either. I have known panicked dogs to hurt themselves breaking out of a crate.

The best thing to do is to turn on the tv or some music and settle in with your pets so that they realize you are calm and unworried. Do not reinforce the behavior by making a fuss or handing out treats when they get agitated. Give them something to do before they have a chance to get worked up – maybe a toy filled with treats to keep them busy.

If you must leave them alone, confine them in the part of the house where the noise will be the most muffled, and leave a tv on or music playing to help cancel out the noise. Again, leave them with something to keep them occupied.

If you have a pet that gets extremely upset about loud noises, I would also recommend talking to your vet about sedatives – for the pet, not for you. If you don’t know how your pet feels about fireworks, plan ahead. It is far better to have the sedative on hand and not need it, than to be desperate for something to calm a hysterical dog in the middle of a fireworks onslaught.

Our pets rely on us to keep them safe. Always make planning for their comfort and safety a part of planning any holiday.

Time to go put the twins in their playpen…

It’s summer in Texas, and once again the temperature has been running well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. That means our pets are facing some extra hazards right now.

Parked Cars

I shouldn’t need to say this, but NEVER leave your pet in the car. I don’t care if it’s for five minutes while you run into the drug store. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise as fast as 35 degrees in half an hour, and much of that rise happens in the first few minutes.

Imagine you run into the store to pick up a prescription from the pharmacy, thinking you’ll be in and out in five minutes. But there’s a line, and the pharmacist can’t find your insurance information…next thing you know, you’ve been in there for 30 minutes, and the temperature in your parked car rises from 75 degrees to 110. Maybe more.

Cracking the window does NOT make any appreciable difference. The problem is the sun hitting the metal exterior. It’s basically a big convection oven.

Then I see people try to solve the problem by leaving the car running. Do I really have to tell you this is a bad idea? I know of multiple cases in which vehicles have been stolen with pets inside. And there are even a few documented cases of excited pets knocking a parked, running vehicle into gear and wrecking the car.

Outdoor Hazards

Do you normally leave your dogs outside while you’re gone during the day? If so, you need to take extra precautions. Do they have adequate shade? Have you checked the temperature in that shady spot? I parked in a shady spot the other day; no joke, the temperature in the shade was 107 degrees. You wouldn’t want to spend all day in 107 degree heat. Neither does your pet.

Make sure that all pets, indoors and out, have plenty of water. Especially for outside pets or during outdoor activity time, consider adding chunks of ice to their water to keep it from heating up. Kiddie pools full of water are another good idea to help your pet cool off; just change the water regularly, and remember that your pet is likely to drink some of that water, so no chemicals.

Dog walkers! Remember how hot the pavement and sidewalks can get. If it would burn your feet to walk on it barefooted, it can hurt your pet too. Encourage pets to walk in the grass, or try to do most of your walking early in the morning or later in the evening when it’s not so hot. This is especially important for short-legged pets whose bellies are close to the ground; the heat radiating from the pavement is extra uncomfortable for them.

Remember that senior pets, pets with other health issues, and puppies are extremely susceptible to heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Brachycephalic breeds – like my squish-faced Pekes – are also extra vulnerable to heat. Keep them well-hydrated and limit their exposure. If they get too hot, cool them down fast with tepid water – never cold – and offer water mixed with Pedialyte to help balance their electrolytes.

Heat stroke

As a dog goes into heat stroke, he will pant exhaustively. As he dehydrates, the saliva will become thick and ropy. His gums will go extremely bright or dark red, and then in the later stages of heat stroke can go a pale, shocky gray. Once the gray gums set in, expect bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and either seizures or collapse. At this point, RUN to the vet’s office, because time is critical.

If you catch it in the earlier stages – drooling, red gums, panting heavily – start cooling the dog with tepid water, fans, cold packs inside the back legs. Again, offer water and Pedialyte. Again, you should go to the vet to get the dog checked out, because extreme heat can cause damage that doesn’t show up right away. The vet may want to run fluids to combat the dehydration, or may want to give steroids to keep the lungs working properly.

Excessive heat is not just uncomfortable. It can be deadly. Please take it seriously.

I’m back!

I took a few weeks off to regroup following some major changes in my personal circumstances. And yesterday, I went back to my volunteer work at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter.

Is it weird that I was really happy to be there?

It was hotter than hell’s hinges outside, not a cloud in the sky, no breeze to speak of.  But no matter the weather, the dogs still need to be walked and photographed. And there is nothing happier than a shelter dog escaping confinement, especially to the dog park with kiddie pools and toys.

I was glad to see half a dozen volunteers walking dogs and a few more working in the cat rooms. With frequent breaks, I managed to get in three hours. If you figure 15 minutes for each pair of dogs I took out, you can see the problem. There are over 400 dogs in MCAS at any given time. Today, right now, there are 454.

Most people think that the staff walk the dogs. They don’t. They can’t. It takes all their time to feed, medicate, clean kennels, help the public look for missing animals or pets to adopt, and do the mountains of associated paperwork. For those dogs to get outside, it takes volunteers.

Currently, we try to get every dog outside in the sunlight and open air for 15 minutes every week. That’s right. Out of a seven day week, it’s everything we can do to get each dog 15 minutes of freedom.

The more each dog gets outside, the healthier that dog will stay, both physically and psychologically. Imagine how hard it is on a dog – especially a housetrained dog – to spend 24 hours a day in a kennel, surrounded by dozens of other dogs. These dogs are under constant stress from the confinement, the noise, the exposure to other animals’ germs, and the lack of sunlight. They need exercise to release that stress. They need access to fresh air and grass to help them stay cleaner and healthier.

For that to happen, we need volunteers. We’ll take you any day we can get you, but we especially need more volunteers during the week. If you can give just two hours a week to walk dogs, you will be making a tremendous difference to those animals. The healthier and happier they are, the more readily adoptable they are.

What does it take to be a volunteer?

You need to be over 18. You need to sign a volunteer liability release. And you need to show up willing to work. That’s about it.

Practical recommendations: Wear close-toed shoes. Wear old clothes you don’t mind getting really dirty. I bring my own leashes; it saves time, they are easier on my hands. I also wear a pair of gardening gloves to protect my hands when I’m taking big dogs to and from the dog park. They are so excited to get out that they often pull surprisingly hard; I have actually had my hands rope burned a couple of times, which is why I started wearing gloves.

When you get home from the shelter, do not handle your own dogs or sit on your furniture until you have thrown your clothes in the washer and showered. It’s a basic safety protocol to keep from transmitting any germs or bacteria from the shelter animals to your own pets. I have followed this simple protocol for years and never had a problem.

Come volunteer. There are 454 dogs (and 352 cats) who will thank you.

The Montgomery County Animal Shelter is located on 242, just east of 45. Go over the bridge, and then u-turn back to the shelter, which is on the north side of 242. The shelter is open 7 days a week.

In the last couple of days, intake at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter has skyrocketed. On Monday and Tuesday alone, they took in about 250 animals.

Our normal intake for one day at this shelter averages around 60 animals, which is still WAY TOO HIGH. That means, using these averages, that about 6 days worth of animals arrived in just two days. We don’t know why the shelter is getting slammed at this hideous rate, but we know that we have a serious problem. The shelter is full. To be precise, it’s currently about 10% over its normal capacity.

When the shelter is full, animals die.

That is the bottom line. It’s not the shelter’s fault. It’s not the fault of the management company or the employees or the volunteers. It’s damn sure not the fault of the dogs or cats. It is entirely the fault of an irresponsible, uncaring sector of the population that treats animals as disposable.

Right now, we have two problems. First, we need to save as many of the current shelter population as we possibly can. Second, we need to try to keep this from happening over and over.

We all know what it will take to break the cycle: a massive increase in spay and neuter rates, in conjunction with a radical shift in how the local population treats animals. WAY easier said than done, but we will keep trying.

Now let’s talk about the immediate problem. There are several HUNDRED dogs and cats in immediate danger of being put to death because we are out of places to put them. I just got off the phone with the shelter director, and I do have one piece of good news. We have not YET had to euthanize for space. There were enough adoptions, rescues, fosters, and return to owners today that we bought some time for all the animals currently in the shelter.  But if there is one more day like Monday or Tuesday…the shelter cannot and will not cram animals three and four deep in the cages. That would be inhumane and dangerous. We have a temporary reprieve, but the crisis is not over.

The No Kill people would have you believe that the shelter COULD save them all if we tried harder. I’m here to tell you it’s nonsense. The shelter volunteers and employees are working tirelessly to get them out alive. They network them all over Facebook, they post them to other websites, they try to match them with rescue groups, they promote adoption, they have arranged extra adoption events this week to accomodate the sudden rush of intakes.  Our foster homes are taking in extra animals to try to free up spaces, and they are working to recruit additional fosters, too.

But the homeless dogs and cats keep coming.

Funny, I don’t see Nathan Winograd or the rest of the No Kill movement beating down our doors to help, either.

Here’s what we need to effect permanent change here in Montgomery County:

  • An increased shelter budget:  more money = more resources, including space = more lives saved. Our shelter does an amazing job with a very limited budget, but the county-assigned budget needs to keep up with the rapid growth of our population and changing standards in animal welfare. I’m tired of watching our animals get short-changed in the county budget hierarchy.
  • Improved animal welfare laws: We need to ban roadside puppy sales, and impose serious limits on breeders to prevent mills. I would also like to see spay/neuter incentives. We also need to see harsher penalties and more active prosecution of animal neglect and abuse. Some of this has to be addressed at the state level, but the active prosecution is something we have the right to demand of our district attorney.
  • Education: We need to educate, educate, educate. SO many people have pets but know nothing about their care and their needs. It’s probably too late to educate most adults, but we CAN educate children so that they grow up understanding their responsibilities to their pets. It’s why I sponsor an animal welfare group for students.

Right now, trying to save every animal that comes into the shelter system is like trying to bail out the Brazos with a Dixie cup. In a rain storm. If every metaphorical cupful equals one life saved, then we keep bailing, in honor of all the animals in all the shelters – the ones we couldn’t save.

Recently I saw a cartoon in which a pair of dogs was discussing having to leave a problem human at the shelter.

I wish.

It’s been a rough week at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter in terms of intake. There was the pitiful mama chihuahua cross dumped by her backyard breeder owners – after they ran over her foot and left her sitting around for a week with the bones exposed. There was a pair of schnauzers – supposedly “strays” but really obviously a breeding pair – and the mama had recently given birth. But the puppies weren’t with her.

This sort of thing wears on the volunteers and employees who have to try their best to save the damaged and broken animals thrown away by the crappier pseudo humans in the area. We can’t save them all, and every one we lose should have been special to someone who would have loved them and taken care of them.

But the ones that hurt me the most every single day are the older dogs. They’ve been someone’s pet. They’ve known what it was like to have a home, and food, and a bed, and then suddenly their world drops away and they end up alone and afraid in a cage, surrounded by bad smells, bright lights, and the constant noise generated by that many animals in a closed space. Others have been mistreated their whole lives, and are simultaneously grateful for any affection and afraid to accept it.

They are terrified (and justifiably so). And because their faces show some age, and their kennel cards say SENIOR, they are less adoptable. People don’t seem to realize that older dogs have a different kind of charm that young puppies. They’re calmer, easy-going, grateful to be loved and cared for, and endlessly loyal to the people who save them. They’re past all those puppy problems like book chewing and underwear stealing.  (Yes, Oliver, I mean you.) I always have an older dog in my crew – I just can’t resist.

Right now, we have several older dogs at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter who need someone to save them.  So I thought this might be the time to share their stories. The three I’ll tell you about here are all favorites of the volunteers and employees.

First is Nelson. He has been there for far too long, and eventually his time will run out. Nelson is middle aged, with gray on his face and an air of dignified calm – until you take him out to the dog park. Then he turns into a puppy and runs and plays with the younger dogs. He has nice manners and is attentive but unobtrusive. He will make someone a fantastic pet. ID # 181537

Then there is Penny. She’s a ten year old cocker spaniel. I don’t know her origins, but like Nelson, her kind face and sweet personality make her an easy dog to love. When I asked which seniors I should feature today, multiple people posted requests for Penny; they all love her. ID #185298

And finally there is Rocky, a ten year old rat terrier. The staff members are keeping him in the quietest room in the shelter to try to minimize his stress. We know where he came from – his owners have been contacted and refuse to come claim him. He is very sad to have been abandoned to this high stress environment, and is grateful for attention from anyone who will be kind to him. ID # 185745

We rarely know why these older dogs ended up needing help at this point in their lives. Were they once loved and then abandoned when someone had a baby, got a divorce, moved? Were they never loved at all? Did they spend their lives outside looking through windows at the humans who should have loved them?

Here’s what we do know. These three – and every other dog in any shelter – deserve better than to spend their last days in a kennel surrounded by the sounds and smells of literally hundreds of other dogs. Please don’t overlook them because they’re not young. Each of them still has years of life and love left in them – if someone will just come get them out of jail and into their new lives.

Each of these dogs – and hundreds of others – is available for adoption at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter in Conroe, TX. It’s just east of I-45 on 242. They are open for adoptions 7 days a week. If you’re going north on 45, exit 242, turn right on 242, go over the bridge, and you will see the shelter on your left. Don’t wait! Save a life today.

Over the last 36 hours, I have seen a miracle in progress at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter.  The shelter posted a list of 14 dogs who were in a critical situation. Every dog on the list had been in the shelter more than 60 days, and/or was developing serious problems as a result of the confinement in the shelter.

Each of these dogs had until the end of business on Friday, May 4th, to get out of the shelter, or they would be euthanized.

Let me clarify. This shelter tries hard to save them, but 60 days or more in the shelter environment is not fair to the dogs. They start getting cage crazy from the constant confinement, and they develop health problems related to the stressful environment. Worse, because these dogs are occupying valuable adoption kennel space, new dogs come in every single day that may never get a chance at adoption because there is no kennel space for them to move into.

That’s the harsh reality of a shelter when there are more animals than spaces.

But once again, this shelter did the right thing. They posted an album with pictures and information on these 14 dogs, and begged for fosters, rescues, and adopters to step up and get them out of the shelter.

Here’s the miracle. Every single one of those dogs is now safe.

I thought I was going to be celebrating the fact that nine of them got out in less than 36 hours, and asking my readers to step up to help save the remaining five. That was where we stood when I left for a meeting at 6 pm.

When I got home at 10 pm, the first thing I saw online said we were down to two. Twelve safe, two to go.

Then I started reading comments and going through the list. And as I went from photo to photo, each one had a foster or adopter coming for them. Most have already left the building.

That’s 14 dogs. In 36 hours. After each of them had spent more than two months in the shelter. And that is a miracle.

It took dozens of people networking these 14 dogs all over the internet. It took 14 families stepping up to foster or adopt. And it immediately saved these 14 lives, in addition to opening kennel space for 14 more dogs to move up to get their chance at adoption.

So to my friends in animal welfare: if you ever wonder whether what we do makes a difference…to these 14 dogs, it meant everything. To the 14 dogs moving into their adoption spaces, even though they don’t know it yet, it means a chance to find a forever home.

Keep those miracles coming. Today was a really, really good day at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter.

Let me say this right up front. I am not an Obama supporter. Before my Democrat friends get all riled up, I don’t much like Romney either. In fact, let’s get Romney out of the way first so we can talk about what I want to talk about.

Romney strapped a crate to the roof of his vehicle and stuck his dog in it for a lengthy drive. The poor dog became ill, and Romney was inconvenienced by having to hose down the dog and the crate mid-trip. Do I approve? Hell no. Do I think that, depending on the exact circumstances, this should have qualified as animal abuse? Should it have been illegal? Yes, quite probably. (And I only qualify it as probably because I do not know the exact circumstances.) I also do not approve of the additional information provided by Romney’s sister; according to her, the dog regularly went walkabout and ended up in the pound.

Admittedly, standards of animal care were different 25 years ago. But not that different. This information is indicative of of irresponsible pet ownership at best and neglect/abuse at worst.

And I am not impressed.

That having been said, let me address the Obama Dog Joke Debacle.

When I first saw references to the “pit bulls are delicious” joke online today, I thought it had to be false information. Surely, I thought, no sitting President of the United States of America would exhibit such bad taste and poor judgement.

I was wrong. He did. As did his handlers, if they knew he was going to say it.

The President of the United States of America should have more dignity and more class than to make a “joke” guaranteed to offend millions of Americans. Is he really that out of touch with his constituents? (I didn’t like his comments about Hillary Clinton drunk texting him either. Tasteless, tasteless, tasteless.)

So why is this so offensive? First, millions of Americans are fierce animal advocates. We don’t appreciate weird unfunny jokes about eating what we consider family members. Second, in the United States of American, dogs are not edible. It is not culturally acceptable, and in fact it is one of the great cultural separation points between us and some cultures who still view dogs as meat animals. Americans on the whole view eating dogs as barbaric and disgusting. I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that it would be illegal abuse of animals to kill and eat dogs in this country.

Some Obama supporters are claiming that he made the joke to deflect the Romney camp’s attacks.  It seems that Romney’s people want to distract the voters from the Romney Dog Trip Disaster by pointing out that Obama ate dogs instead of simply scaring them into incontinence. I don’t care why he made the joke. It was wrong. (And let me reiterate that I don’t care why Romney tied a dog to the roof. It was wrong.)

Yes, we understand that Obama ate dog meat as a child in a foreign country. It was put on his plate, he ate it, that’s how things were. I do not blame him for that. I do absolutely blame him for being out of touch enough to think that the American public would find humor in it. I do blame him for joking about what, for this culture, is animal abuse. It undermines and diminishes the efforts of animal advocates everywhere. We spend our days covered in dog hair and dirt and worse. We fight every day to prevent animal abuse. Our President dresses up in a tux and makes juvenile jokes (on tv, no less) that trivialize the violation of a major cultural taboo.

Inappropriate. Tasteless. Insensitive. And unworthy behavior from anyone holding or aspiring to hold the most important office in this nation.