A Massive Blow to the Puppy Mill Industry: Illinois Ends the Sale of Puppies in Pet Stores

From Humane Society of the United States CEO Kitty Block

A massive blow to puppy mill industry: Illinois ends the sale of puppies in pet stores

Commercial dog breeders often provide little in the way of comfort or love to the animals in their operations. Illinois’ new ban on puppy sales by pet stores is a major win in the fight to shut off support for these places.

In a major win in the fight against cruel puppy mills, Illinois’ Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed the Humane Pet Store Bill (HB 1711) into law. The state’s 21 puppy-selling pet stores have 180 days from August 27, the date the bill was signed, to stop selling commercially raised puppies and kittens. This effectively closes out a profitable sales channel for puppy mills and will drive the Illinois pet market towards more humane sources like shelters, rescues and responsible breeders.

Illinois pet stores sell thousands of puppies each year from large-scale commercial breeders and brokers who treat mother dogs as little more than breeding machines and puppies as mere products to be shipped to pet stores and sold. Many of these operations have terrible animal welfare records, impacting the health of the puppies. When families acquire ill puppies, this can lead to high veterinary bills and the puppies can even die within weeks of purchase, leaving families heartbroken. The new law sends a clear message: The days when pet stores can showcase the cute puppy or kitten in the window while puppy and kitten mills hide their horrors are coming to an end. Despite the vast resources the pet stores put into fighting this legislation, it passed both the state House and Senate by strong bipartisan majorities. And Gov. Pritzker did not cave to the veto campaign that followed its passage. Instead, lawmakers, led by Republican Rep. Andrew Chesney and Democratic Sen. Cristina Castro, sided with the people of Illinois who called and emailed by the thousands to urge support for this important law.

Illinois now joins California, Maryland, Maine, Washington and nearly 400 localities across 30 states in prohibiting the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores. The writing is on the wall for puppy-selling pet stores: It’s time to cut ties with puppy mills and, rather than add to the pet overpopulation crisis that is currently gripping large parts of the nation, pet stores should look to join with shelters and rescues to increase adoptions of animals who would otherwise be left homeless.

Petland, the largest retailer of puppy mill puppies and a company we’ve criticized for mistreating animals, selling sick animals and sourcing from some of the worst breeders in the nation, will be affected by the Illinois law. Eight Petland stores in the state will have to stop selling puppies in the coming months, and the recent passage of pet store ordinances in Florida counties adds four more elsewhere in the country. As a dominant force in the industry, Petland should take a good look at where things are moving and shift all its stores away from selling puppies.

The strong stand by Illinois lawmakers against puppy mill cruelty this session did not stop with the pet store bill. The state also became the first in the nation to prohibit the financing of dog and cat purchases with the enactment of HB 572. Because puppy mill puppies are often sold for thousands of dollars to those who may not be able to afford them outright, some stores offer financing as an incentive to close the sale. Pet stores and large internet brokers often promise low-interest financing through third-party lenders that end up charging exorbitantly high-interest rates and hidden fees. Petland customers have complained of interest rates as high as 188%, and in some cases, customers must make payments for years after their pets died. HB 572 passed unanimously in both chambers, showing zero tolerance for these predatory practices.

With the momentum of public opinion and bipartisan lawmakers on our side, we will continue full steam ahead until puppy mills no longer exist. New York, with more than 60 puppy-selling stores, is in the middle of a two-year legislative session in which a humane pet store bill has already passed the state Senate. Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts also have active bills, and there are several key local ordinance votes coming up. We are campaigning for the passage of these laws in communities around the country that are affected by the impacts of puppy mills, leading the charge for a more humane future for puppies and kittens.

Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock

A new ‘leash’ on life: Government program will train dogs for veterans with PTSD

From NBC News – As many as 20 veterans out of 100 from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have PTSD, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Becca Stephens comforting — and being comforted by — her service dog, Bobbi.
Becca Stephens comforting — and being comforted by — her service dog, Bobbi.K9s for Warriors

This month, Congress passed a bipartisan bill — the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers, or PAWS, for Veterans Therapy Act — to help connect veterans with their own service dogs. The bill is now headed to the desk of dog-lover President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it.

By Patrick Martin

Bobbi keeps her soft brown eyes on Becca Stephens while patrolling the aisles of a grocery store, ever-vigilant of potential threats. She walks slightly behind, making sure no one can get the jump on the person she is there to protect.

Once the mission is over, Bobbi will head home, get a nice treat and play with her favorite toy, a bright orange traffic cone.

Bobbi is a service dog who has been by Stephens’ side for the last three years. The golden Labrador is specially trained to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, like Stephens of Clearwater, Florida.

Stephens is a 36-year-old combat veteran who served in Basra, Iraq, from 2009 to 2010, working on radio equipment for her unit. She was diagnosed with PTSD in 2011.

“She just always has my back, and she knows” when Stephens needs reassurance, the veteran told NBC News.

Becca Stephens comforting — and being comforted by — her service dog, Bobbi.
Becca Stephens comforting — and being comforted by — her service dog, Bobbi.K9s for Warriors

This month, Congress passed a bipartisan bill — the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers, or PAWS, for Veterans Therapy Act — to help connect veterans with their own service dogs. The bill is now headed to the desk of dog-lover President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it.

At that point, the Department of Veterans Affairs would work with organizations like K9s for Warriors, a Florida nonprofit organization that provides service dogs to veterans, which is where Stephens trained with Bobbi. The five-year program would take effect Jan. 1, 2022, said Rory Diamond, CEO of K9s for Warriors.

“We’re encouraged by the passage of this bill by both houses of Congress as an integral first step in the fight against veteran suicide,” Diamond said.

Of the more than 700 veterans who have been through the K9s for Warriors program, 72 percent had attempted suicide before being paired with their service dogs, Diamond said.

“We’re incredibly good at keeping them alive,” Diamond said. “So why wouldn’t the VA want to be part of that?”

Related

The program comes at a critical time. As many as 20 veterans out of 100 from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have PTSD, according to the VA. The pandemic has caused even more stress for veterans, with calls to the veterans crisis line surging more than 15 percent last year. And experts agree PTSD is underreported.

Veteran suicide continues to plague former service members. From 2005 to 2018, nearly 90,000 veterans have died by suicide, and the number continues to rise, according to the most recent report from the VA.

While Stephens may not have visible injuries, she is still wounded from the tolls of combat. After her deployment to Iraq, she said, she could never relax and always experienced a heightened sense of awareness. Medication prescribed after her PTSD diagnosis didn’t really help her.

“I was constantly having mood swings, you know, very palpable anger towards anything, extremely irritable, I would have nightmares, almost all the time,” she said.

Her PTSD ultimately led to a seven-year drug addiction, she said. Before meeting Bobbi, Stephens said, she contemplated suicide, going so far as to develop a pros and cons list.

“I was sitting on the edge of my bed thinking, you know, ‘This is it. I have nothing left at this point,'” she said.

Becca Stephens in her car with her service dog, Bobbi.
“You do all kinds of things that you’ve been avoiding,” said Becca Stephens, seen here in her car with her service dog, Bobbi.K9s for Warriors

Training a service dog to help someone with PTSD is an immersive program that helps the veteran and dog form a bond. The dog learns to notice signs of anxiety and how to soothe its owner.

“We found that, by and large, the most important and most commonly used task was to calm or comfort anxiety,” said Maggie O’Haire, an associate professor of human-animal interaction at Purdue University who works with K9s for Warriors.

Her research shows service dogs can help reduce the severity of PTSD in veterans. In a 2020 report released by the VA, participants paired with service dogs trained for PTSD had fewer suicidal behaviors and ideations within the first 18 months, compared to people with emotional support animals.

The tasks performed by these specially trained service dogs vary widely and are specific to the owner. One common task is called “lap,” a dog’s version of a weighted blanket.

“It’s basically deep pressure therapy for our warriors,” said Air Force veteran Christel Fleming, a trainer at K9s for Warriors. “We want the dog to get up, put its two front limbs across the warrior’s lap and to stay there calmly.”

The dog is taught not to jump up or lick the owner’s face.

A service dog.
“Instead of looking at the outside world and being really freaked out about what’s going on, they can look at their dog, scratch their dog, love on their dog and calm down,” said Air Force veteran Christel Fleming, a K9s for Warriors trainer.K9s for Warriors

“Instead of looking at the outside world and being really freaked out about what’s going on, [the veteran] can look at their dog, scratch their dog, love on their dog and calm down,” Fleming said.

The dogs aren’t intended to replace doctor visits or medication. In fact, O’Haire said the animals help their owners get out of the house for treatment appointments.

With Bobbi by her side, Stephens said, she is now three years sober and out in public all the time. She said the dog has given her a new “leash” on life.

“When I started to trust myself and respect myself and treat myself right, she could see that,” Stephens said.

Lost Your Cat?

It’s a myth that most cats will find their way home.

The most significant findings of a recent study were that a thorough physical search is likely to increase the chances of finding cats alive and most cats are found within a 500 m (1/3 mile) radius of their point of escape. Cats that were indoor-outdoor and allowed outside unsupervised traveled longer distances compared with indoor cats that were never allowed outside.

From: https://www.cats.org.uk/help-and-advice/lost-found-and-feral-cats/lost-a-cat and from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5789300/

Five things to help find your lost cat

  1. Shake a box of their favorite biscuits to entice them home.
  2. If your cat has a favorite toy, try leaving it in your garden.
  3. Cats have a strong sense of smell – leave out a regular blanket or bedding to encourage your cat out of hiding.
  4. You might find your moggy is more active at night, especially during hotter weather. Go out with a friend or family member when it is dark to call for your cat by name.
  5. Leave a bowl of water out and some food. A tasty treat such as tuna might be enough to bring your cat home.

Is my cat lost?

Not all cats are house cats. Some are inclined to wander, especially if there is fuss or food to be found elsewhere. It is normal for your cat to pop in and out throughout the day – especially if they have a taste for adventure. If your cat hasn’t returned by the time dinner time comes around, however, you might be worried that your cat is missing. Try not to panic. Cats can disappear for days at a time and return with no trouble, looking perfectly healthy. While you might be worried, they’re likely to stroll in and wonder what all the fuss is about. If they haven’t yet returned, give them a few hours before you make a plan of action.

I’ve lost my cat. What can I do?

If your pet still hasn’t returned home, there are a few simple things you can do to help find your missing cat. The first thing to do is to check your own home and garden. Cats love small cosy spaces and might be hiding in the unlikeliest of places – from cupboards to garden sheds. Check every room in your house, including any outbuildings and sheds too. Behind curtains, under duvets and even in household appliances like tumble dryers and washing machines. If you’re having building work completed, check under floorboards or any holes big enough for a cat to nestle into.

If you’re sure your cat isn’t at home, the next thing to do is to speak to your neighbors as well as any delivery people nearby. They might have seen your lost cat somewhere and can let you know of their whereabouts. Ask them to check their own sheds and outbuildings, as well as under any parked cars in the neighborhood. Remember to check homes on both sides of the road, as well as homes that have gardens that back on to yours. You could even provide neighbours with an up to date photo and your cat’s name, reminding them to keep an eye out.

Advertising on social media is a great way to get the message out that your cat is missing, particularly if you’re a member of a local Facebook community group. Post a clear photo of your cat, their name and your contact details.

It is also useful to keep a list of useful phone numbers pinned to a board in your kitchen. You can download our list below, complete with handy contact details.

How do I get my cat to come home?

If putting out the word about your missing cat hasn’t worked, there are some great tips and tricks to try at home. Cats are heavily reliant on scent and leaving out items that may entice them back to you is well worth an attempt. Things to try include the following:

  • Leave your cat’s favorite toy or some of their unwashed bedding in the garden
  • Leave an unwashed item of your clothing, which will have your scent on it
  • Place any used litter from your cat’s litter tray outside, or perhaps the contents of your hoover for a smell of home
  • Call out for your cat in the garden early in the morning or late at night, when everywhere is likely to be quieter
  • Shake a box of their favorite biscuits or treats
  • Keep calling your cat, leaving enough time for them to hear you and be led home

Lost your cat? Follow our checklist

If you’re beginning the search for a missing cat, download our checklist to tick off each action as you do it.

  • Search first. Check small spaces in your home – everywhere from cosy cupboards to garden sheds, garages and outbuildings
  • Ask your neighbors. They’ll need to check their property, sheds and garages too.
  • Is your cat microchipped? Talk to Petlog on 01296 737 600 or Identibase on 01904 487 600 to register your cat as missing
  • Speak to your local Cats Protection branch or centre to see if they’ve had a cat handed in to them. To find one in your area, visit our Find Us page and enter your postcode
  • Get in touch with animal shelters in your area. Visit catchat.org to find those local to you
  • Contact all vet practices in the area
  • Make and put up flyers with your cat’s photo and description to place around the local area – or post them through your neighbour’s letterboxes
  • Post a description of your cat on your Facebook page, as well as any local community Facebook groups

Download the checklist

Microchipping your cat

Microchipping your cat is the most effective way to ensure that they can be identified if they go missing, and keeping your details up to date can increase the likelihood of a happy reunion. If your lost cat is found and taken to a vet or animal welfare organisation, you’ll be contacted quickly.

Moved house or changed a phone number? You’ll need to let your microchipping company know so that your details that are on file can be amended.Find out more about microchipping your catDownload: Microchipping guide

Helping Abandoned, Stray Cats and Kittens

The following is an excerpt from the Petfinder Blog • by Susan Greene, Petfinder outreach team

Almost every summer, Carol goes out on the porch of her remote rural home and discovers an unfamiliar feline face. Another cat or kitten has been thoughtlessly abandoned during the night.

Carol is a senior citizen, and all of her own cats are fixed. Her income is fixed as well, and she has no money for vet visits for new cats.

Yet the abandonment continues.

I volunteer with a feral-cat trap/neuter/return group in addition to my job with Petfinder. We helped neuter Carol’s outdoor cats in 2002 (all of them were offspring of cats abandoned on her property), so luckily we are there to help when new cats appear in her life. When my phone rang this Sunday, the news was particularly bad: Two female cats and three tiny kittens (pictured) had been left at Carol’s door.

Abandonment of domestic animals is illegal. In New York State it is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine or a year in prison. However, it’s hard to catch someone who merely slows down and tosses a cat alongside a country road or leaves a box of kittens at a campground.

If you wander outside one day with your morning coffee and are greeted by the forlorn mews of an abandoned cat or kittens, you might be tempted to hope they will just “go away.” However, ignoring them will only make the situation worse. A dumped pregnant cat may shortly have kittens beneath your porch. Healthy kittens, abandoned without their mother, will soon starve or become ill or injured.

While you absolutely did not cause the problem, it has become yours, much like a storm that drops a tree in your yard. It’s unexpected and even may cost money to resolve, but nonetheless, there it is, and it’s not going to go away!

Make sure the cat or kitten has food, water, and shelter.
If you can bring her into your home, keep her away from your own pets until you are certain she is healthy.

Call your local animal shelter or humane agency for guidance
To find shelters and adoption groups in your area, use Petfinder’ s animal welfare group search tool. They may be able to take your foundling and find her a new home. Be sure to give a donation if they do. However, if they are unable to accept the cat, or if you prefer to care for her yourself, ask the shelter or rescue group these questions:

  • Do they have advice on caring for very young kittens?
  • Do they have a bulletin board where you can post a flyer for your foundling to help find her a home?
  • Are they aware of other organizations that might be able to help you?
  • Are there low-cost spay/neuter services available locally if you need them?

List the cat in your local “found” lists
If the cat stays in your care, be sure your local shelter places her on their “found” list. Perhaps she was not abandoned. She may be someone’s beloved pet who wandered away or accidentally hitched a ride in the back of a truck. Speak with your neighbors and post flyers. In searching for a possible owner, you may even find someone interested in adopting the cat.

You can also post her to the “found pets” section — and, if no one steps forward to claim her, to the “pets for adoption” section, of the Petfinder classifieds.

Report abandoned pets to your local law enforcement agency.
Make sure to make a statement in writing. Even if police are unable to locate the abandoner, the incident may find its way into the local news police blotter.

Try to find the abandoned cat a home
The Petfinder library has an excellent article on finding a home for a pet. Please be certain, before you let a cat or kitten leave your care, that the pet is either spay/neutered or is going to a home committed to spay/neuter.

One summer I was walking by our local grocery and noted a woman on the sidewalk with a box of “free kittens.” I went to speak to her, planning to explain why this was not the best way to find a home for cats. However, she admitted she previously had dumped kittens at local farms — thinking they wanted them — until she read in the newspaper that it was illegal!

While handing kittens out to strangers on the street isn’t the safest way to adopt them out, it was definitely an improvement over abandonment, and it did get her into the public eye. We could offer her resources to get her own cat fixed and take the kittens to get them into foster homes, thus ending the cycle of kittens and more kittens at her home.

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You Can Make a Difference for Farm Animals by Choosing Certified Humane/Welfare Certified Meat Brands

The ASPCA has provided a list of food brands that have welfare certification, which represents more humane and transparent farming practices. Please consider helping to create a more humane world for farm animals by choosing certified humane or animal welfare certified products.

be kind!

Here are a few of the brands that are Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Certified, or Animal Welfare Approved:

CHICKEN: Aldi – Simply Nature Free Range Organic Chicken • Amazon/Whole Foods – 365 Everyday Value Chicken • Thrive Market – Free Range Chicken, Pasture Raised Chicken •

EGGS: Aldefer’s Eggs• Costco Kirkland Signature Organic Eggs • Nellie’s Free Range Eggs • Pete and Gerry’s Eggs

BEEF: Applegate – Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dog • Country Natural Beef – all products • Crane Dance Farm – app products • Eel River Organic Beef – all products • Niman Ranch – all products • Redger Farms – all products • Wellshire – sliced beef bacon • TruBeef – all products • White Oak Pastures – grass fed beef

PORK: North Country Smokehouse- various products certified • Newman Farms – all products • Joia Food Farm – all products • Goodnight Brothers – all natural product certified • DuBreton – various products certified

LAMB: Anderson Ranches – all products • White Oak Pastures – all products • Joia Food Farm – all products • Central Grazing Company

TURKEY: ButcherBox – ground turkey • Diestel Turkey – pasture raised whole turkey line • Great American Turkey Company – strips, sausages, cutlets • Koch’s Turkey – all products • White Oak Pastures – all products

For ASPCA’s full list:

What You Can To Combat Pet Overpopulation

Only 1 out of every 10 dogs born will find a permanent home. 25% of dogs that enter shelters are purebred. Estimates for homeless cats in the US range up to 70 million.

Every year, millions of cats and dogs are euthanized because shelters are too full and there are more pets than there are responsible homes for them. Until this issue is resolved, American Humane believes that all cats and dogs adopted from public or private animal care and control facilities should be spayed or neutered.

  1. If you are adding a pet to your family, please make sure the pet comes from a legitimate shelter, nonprofit rescue group or a responsible, humane breeder.
  2. Always spay and neuter your pets.
  3. Consider all the responsibilities and consequences of pet ownership before deciding to get a pet and always make a lifetime commitment to your pet.
  4. Educate your children, friends, family members and co-workers about pet overpopulation, adoption and the importance of spaying and neutering.

You can help stop generations of suffering. Have your female pet spayed and your male pet neutered. Don’t allow them to breed and add to the pet overpopulation problem. Many strays are lost pets that were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.

Sources: American Humane, DoSomething.org

What Kind of Emotions Do Animals Feel?

A book by primatologist Frans de Waal suggests that animal and human emotions are more similar than we think

from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_kind_of_emotions_do_animals_feel

By Karin Evans

In a Netherlands zoo, an elderly chimpanzee named Mama is weak and dying. Elderly biology professor Jan van Hooff, who has known the primate for four decades, enters Mama’s enclosure—something usually too dangerous to attempt, given the strength of chimpanzees and their capacity for violent attacks. In their final, poignant encounter, she grins and reaches for him, embraces him, and rhythmically pats the back of his head and neck in a comforting gesture that chimpanzees use to quiet a whimpering infant.

“She was letting him know not to worry,” writes Frans de Waal in his new book, Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves.

As one of the world’s most prominent primatologists, de Waal has been observing animals for four decades now, debunking myths around the differences between animals and humans. His latest book focuses on the emotional lives of animals—showing that humans and other animals may be more alike than we think.

Like de Waal’s other books, Mama’s Last Hug is full of stories, making it highly readable, informative, and emotionally resonant. In another story he recounts, a younger female in Mama’s colony, Kuif, couldn’t produce enough milk to keep her babies alive; so de Waal taught her how to feed an adopted infant with a bottle. Kuif turned out to be a caring and protective mother, learning on her own how to remove the bottle when the baby needed to burp. Afterward, each time de Waal approached Kuif, she showered him with affection and expressions that truly seemed like gratitude.

After Mama’s death, de Waal witnessed the other chimpanzees touching, washing, anointing, and grooming her body—gestures very similar to what humans do after a death. Given such observations of chimpanzees, de Waal asserts, “Their socio-emotional lives resemble ours to such a degree that it is unclear where to draw the line.”

Non-primate animals show emotions, too

While de Waal begins his observations with chimpanzees, he also presents fascinating glimpses of the emotional lives of other animals. For example, Asian elephants wrap their trunks around each other as an expression of consolation. Even rodents, once thought to be unaffected by emotions and devoid of facial expressions, have been found to “express anguish through narrowed eyes, flattened ears, and swollen cheeks.” They also have facial expressions for pleasure, and they recognize these states in other rats. As for horses, De Waal notes that their faces are “about as expressive as those of the primates.”

In dogs, a key facial expression—the “inner-brow pull”—makes their eyes appear larger. This gives them that sad, puppy-like look that pulls at the heartstrings of humans, sometimes leading to canine adoptions. De Waal also digs at an oft-asked question: Do dogs feel shame when they do something wrong? It reminded me of online videos where you see garbage overturned and a dog slouched down, staring at the floor in a way that viewers interpret as “guilt.”

“No one doubts that dogs know when they are in trouble,” writes de Waal, “but whether they actually feel guilty is a point of debate.” According to a study by Alexandra Horowitz, the canine guilty look—“lowered gaze, ears pressed back, slumped body, averted head, tail rapidly beating between the legs—is . . . not about what they have done but about how their owner reacts. If the owner scolds them, they act extremely guilty. If the owner doesn’t, everything is fine and dandy.”

De Waal draws a clear distinction between animal behaviors that connote emotions readable to outside observers and what animals actually feel.

“Anyone who claims to know what animals feel doesn’t have science on their side,” he writes. “Emotions and feelings, while often conflated, are not the same.” Emotions drive behavior and come with physical cues that allow them to be observed and described; feelings are internal subjective states known only to those who possess them.

So, though de Waal views elephants as highly empathic, emotional beings—given how they will rush to comfort a fellow elephant in distress, and how they can recognize themselves in a mirror—he acknowledges that some scientists remain skeptical because we can’t ask elephants (or any animal) about their feelings. “The possibility that animals experience emotions the way we do makes many hard-nosed scientists feel queasy,” de Waal points out, “partly because animals never report any feelings, and partly because the existence of feelings presupposes a level of consciousness that these scientists are unwilling to grant to animals.” 

What animals can teach us about ourselves

As de Waal explores human and non-human emotional territory, he finds considerable common ground. Bonobo babies who are orphaned and raised without maternal love suffer just as human babies do when similarly deprived. Orphaned bonobos have trouble regulating their emotions, whereas bonobos who grow up with maternal affection learn how to weather upheaval. And, just like humans, bonobos who haven’t been nurtured also have trouble comforting others who are in distress.<img alt="Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves (W. W. Norton & Company, 2019, 336 pages)” src=”https://ggsc.s3.amazonaws.com/images/made/images/uploads/Mamas_Last_Hug_200_301_int_c1-1x.jpg&#8221; srcset=”https://ggsc.s3.amazonaws.com/images/made/images/uploads/Mamas_Last_Hug_200_301_int_c1-1x.jpg 1x, https://ggsc.s3.amazonaws.com/images/made/images/uploads/Mamas_Last_Hug_332_499_int_c1-2x.jpg 2x”>Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves (W. W. Norton & Company, 2019, 336 pages)

“For me,” de Waal writes, “the question has never been whether animals have emotions, but how science could have overlooked them for so long.”

Just as de Waal’s book makes readers more attuned to the emotional life of animals, it gives us more than enough to ponder about our own human emotions.

As de Waal compares human behavior to our closest relatives’, he finds much to observe and report. The human smile, for instance, may be linked to the nervous grin found in other primates. “I seriously doubt that the smile is our species’s ‘happy’ face, as is often stated in books about human emotions,” he writes. “Its background is much richer, with meanings other than cheeriness.” Instead, a smile could mean nervousness, a desire to please, amusement, or attraction. 

Additionally, we humans “often wear plastic smiles with no deep meaning whatsoever.” How do you tell which is which? Studies by 19th-century French neurologist Duchenne de Boulogne identified two kinds of human smiles: The genuine version, an expression of positive feelings and joy, is known as the “Duchenne smile” and involves not only lifting the mouth corners and pulling back the lips, but pulling back the muscles around the eyes, resulting in narrowed eyes and wrinkled surrounding skin. A “fake” smile involves the mouth area but not the eyes—a useful distinction to know!

In considering current events, the author identifies two driving forces behind human politics: leaders’ lust for power and followers’ longing for leadership. De Waal observes that hierarchical battles occur in groups of humans as well as in groups of apes, with bullying tactics used by “alpha males” in both. “Like most primates, we are a hierarchical species,” he concludes.

Yet humans shrink from admitting that about themselves, he points out, preferring to describe themselves in gentler, more rarified terms. De Waal writes, “This is why it is so refreshing to work with chimpanzees: They are the honest politicians we all long for.”

Instead of considering ourselves so refined and rational, he suggests, it’s time for us to squarely face the degree to which we—like other animals—are driven by emotions.

You See a Dog or Cat on the Side of the Road-Sensible ways to help without getting in over your head

(From Humane Society of the United States) You’re driving your car when you see a dog or cat on the side of the road. With a sinking feeling, you realize they are alone. What should you do?

This is a wrenching scenario for all who care about animals. After all, what if your own pet were standing there? Use our guidelines for providing safe and effective help.

Don’t cause an accident

You can’t help an animal if you become injured in the process. Look in your rear-view mirror before braking, turn on your signal, pull your car completely off the road, turn off the ignition, set the parking brake, and put on the hazard lights. If you have emergency flares, prepare to use them.

Catch them safely

Safety first

A strange, frightened, and possibly sick or injured animal can behave unpredictably. A sudden move on your part, even opening your car door, can spook them and cause them to bolt—possibly right onto the highway. If the animal looks or acts threatening, or if you feel uneasy about the situation, stay in your car.

If possible, restrain the animal. Create a barrier or use a carrier, leash, piece of cloth, or length of rope to keep the animal in the area. Signal approaching vehicles to slow down if you cannot confine the animal, or divert traffic around them if they appear to be injured and is still on the roadway.

Use caution

Use caution when approaching the animal. Should you succeed in getting close enough to capture them, you stand a good chance of being scratched or bitten.

When moving toward the animal, speak calmly to reassure them. Make sure they can see you at all times as you approach, and perhaps entice them to come to you by offering a strong-smelling food such as canned tuna or dried liver.

Lure them into your car

If you are certain you can get help from animal control very soon, try to lure the animal into your car with food, close the door and wait for help. In most cases it isn’t a good idea to attempt to drive somewhere with a strange dog unrestrained in your car; they may become frantic or aggressive. Cats may do the same, as well as lodge themselves under the car seat, and it can be dangerous trying to extract them.

Call for backup

If you’re not able to safely restrain the animal, call the local animal control agency (in rural areas, call the police). Do so whether or not the animal is injured, and whether or not they are wearing an identification tag. Leave your phone number with the dispatcher, and try to get an estimate of how long it may take someone to respond. If possible, stay on the scene to keep an eye on the dog or cat until help arrives. Make sure you report to authorities precisely where the animal is by using road names, mile markers or landmarks.

https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/how-help-stray-pet

Understand how you can help outdoor cats

From the Humane Society of the United States

If you’ve encountered a cat outdoors, you’ve probably wondered whom the cat belonged to or if they even had an owner. Outdoor cats are sometimes owned cats whose owner lets them out. Often, however, they are community cats—ferals or strays. You can help these cats in different ways. 

Heated Cat Shelters on Amazon.com

Stray cats

Stray cats may be friendly and approach you for food or attention or they may be too scared to let you get close. But they will usually eat immediately if you put food down for them. Use caution, since you don’t know how these cats will react.

There are many ways you can help these cats:

  • If the cat has identification, try to contact the owner.
  • If you can get the cat into a carrier, take them to a veterinarian or animal shelter to be scanned for a microchip.
  • Contact animal shelters, veterinary offices and rescue groups to let them know about the cat you’ve found. Someone may have filed a lost cat report that is a match.
  • Ask neighbors and mail carriers if they’re familiar with the cat.
  • Post signs and place free ads in local newspapers.
  • Create a “found pet” profile at The Center for Lost Pets.

It’s helpful if you can provide shelter for the cat while you search for their owner. If no owner is found, you can try to find a good home for them or adopt the cat yourself. If you take the cat home with you, have them examined by a veterinarian before introducing them to your other cats.

Feral cats

The cat you’re helping may be feral if they approach you when extremely hungry, but will only eat the food you’ve provided once you’ve walked away. A cat is probably feral if they’re still unapproachable and cannot be touched after several days of feeding. Don’t try to handle a feral cat. Most feral cats can’t be adopted because they’re too afraid of people.

One sign that a cat is a spayed or neutered feral is a tipped or notched ear (if the tip or section of an ear has been surgically removed). A stray cat who is spayed or neutered may also have a tipped or notched ear.

Stop overpopulation with TNR

Food and water are important parts of caring for community cats. But some people who are new to looking after these cats often don’t realize that if they don’t find a way to have the cats spayed or neutered, the number of hungry cats may soon become unmanageable as more and more kittens are born. Doing Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) will keep this from happening to you and the cats. 

How to do TNR

If you’re already feeding community cats, you may soon find yourself overwhelmed by kittens, kittens and more kittens—unless you take quick action to get them spayed and neutered. Use our community cat resources to get these cats spayed and neutered while their numbers are still manageable.

Find community cat resources

Resolve conflicts with neighbors

Outdoor cats can often be the cause of complaints; from a cat who stalks birds at a neighbor’s bird feeder to a group of community cats (known as a colony) on a neighbor’s property. If you are helping people keep cats off their property or resolve nuisance complaints, we suggest the following resources:

Work with local groups

Get help

If you’re really lucky, there is an organization or agency in your area that can help you TNR the feral cats you’re feeding. They may also be able to help find homes for friendly strays and kittens. If this help isn’t available in your community, you may still be able to find veterinarians who are willing to provide low-cost services for community cats.

Provide help

Organizations and agencies that care for community cats need all the assistance they can get. Even if you’ve never seen a feral or stray cat, it’s likely that they are in your community. You can make a big difference by doing the following:

  • Spay or neuter your own cats before they can reproduce at four to five months of age.
  • Get involved with or help to support organizations or agencies that help community cats.
  • Become a community cat caretaker.
  • Volunteer to socialize feral kittens.
  • Volunteer to help at a spay/neuter event for community cats.
  • Fundraise or write grant applications for an organization or agency helping cats.
  • Educate your neighbors and community about outdoor cats.
  • Donate to our Community Cat Program Fund.

Start your own group

If there’s no local group helping community cats, you may decide to start one. Talk with others in your community and find some like-minded individuals to help share the workload. 

The “Garbage Dogs” of Greece

https://www.facebook.com/ethelontesxwmaterisLoutrakiou (Volunteers for the animals of Loutraki Landfill)

Rescued and en route to receiving help

Afrodith, a Greek rescue volunteer, moved to the coastal town of Loutraki in 2018. Passing by the large Loutraki landfill almost daily was a life-changing experience for her. She witnessed firsthand the horrendous conditions of the 130 or so dogs and puppies who live in the landfill. They had been abandoned by pet owners, generally unspayed/unneutered, and their numbers have increased. She found packs of dogs and puppies in terrible condition, with sores on their bodies, diseased, starving, thirsty, with broken bones, and, sadly, some dead. She felt compelled to try to take care of the dogs. Afrodith’s appeals to local authorities and the government yielded nothing, so she proceeded alone and has dedicated herself to helping these animals and finding a long-term solution to what is essentially an endless cemetery of animals at the landfill.

Afrodith has captured, vaccinated, spayed/neutered and treated as many dogs as could be moved to the small plot of land she rents as a sanctuary for the animal’s care. At this point, she has no more space on her rented land for the dogs that remain at the landfill site. If a sick dog needs treatment today, she captures, crates, and arranges vet care for the dog, but because there is not alternative, the dog is released back to the landfill.

Her dream is to take all the dogs out of the landfill and give them the life they deserve. To do so will require a larger plot of land with shelter so she can give as many dogs as possible a chance of a happy and healthy life with treatment, love, and care, and opportunities for fostering/adoption. Afrodith now has the help of a few volunteers, but what she and they are providing is insufficient to meet the needs of all the dogs. The dogs must be captured and spayed/neutered, treated for diseases and skin conditions, and provided food, shelter and, it is hoped, homes. They are having difficulty making the larger-scale impact they dream of.

Afrodith created her Facebook page so that people can see her and the other volunteers’ efforts to help alleviate the suffering of the dogs. 100% of the donations go to animal care.  Here is that page: https://www.facebook.com/ethelontesxwmaterisLoutrakiou (Volunteers for the Animals of Loutraki Landfill). Please click on the Facebook page and check out her work. Let’s help her if we can: with donations for food, medicine, and shelter. Please share her page on social media, which will help promote her work and support new foster/adoption opportunities.  

If you would care to make a donation (any size of donation would be greatly appreciated) there are two options:

PayPal account: loutrakilandfilldogs@gmail.com

Pet shop bank account details: PIRAEUS BANK: IBAN: GR39 0172 523000 5523 035 564552 • SWIFT/BIC:PIRBGRAAXXX Beneficiary: Deferanos Nikos • Reference: Loutraki landfill dogs

Her admirable and selfless work with the dogs has been recognized by a German charity https://www.facebook.com/NeverWalkAloneTierschutzverein They send pallets of dry food to help. They are a lifeline for the garbage dogs, but significantly more help is needed.

Greece attracts many tourists each year due to its natural beauty and archaeological sites. What many people do not know is that behind this beautiful facade, there is an estimated population of 3.5 million strays wandering in the streets, sick, starving, and thirsty. Many Greeks do not spay and neuter their animals. Local Greek volunteers try to their best to alleviate this suffering. Many people look the other way. If you can, please lend a hand. Thank you.

One area of the Loutraki landfill
Rescued dogs on Afrodith’s rented land