The In-between-ers

I just love, love, LOVE when someone asks me what my favorite breed or “type” of dog is. Those who know me well enough know that I am super biased towards pit bulls, so this is usually the type of answer one would except. But I get different reactions when I answer that hands down, my favorite type of dog is the 100%, purebred American Mutt. Eh. So.. it’s sort of a complex. But whatever.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not hating on those purebred dogs whose mom and dad were of the same kind. Also, don’t mistake me for obsessing over the “designer” mutts (you know, the yorkie-poo, the labradoodle, the shishihuahuaweeweepoo, etc.) I know that there are reputable traits that are typically associated certain breeds (i.e. the herding ability of the border collie, the retrieving ability of the Labrador, etc). I understand that, ideally, if everyone were responsible breeders and pet owners and pet overpopulation wasn’t what it is today, I would certainly be able to answer that my favorite “breed” is the American Pit Bull Terrier. I love watching the AKC dog shows, because I’m able to see the beauty and reasoning behind domesticating man’s best friend.

Unfortunately, while dog breeding is out of control, I cannot truthfully answer the “breed” question without thinking of the underdogs. The less-than perfects. The easily passed up. The mixed-breeds. The mutts.

Shelters are chock-a-block full of these in-between-ers because of accidental, unwanted, and out of control breeding. (side note-there are tons of purebred dogs in shelters, also-they are usually sent to rescue).

With that being said, I do have a favorite type of mutt.

If you are familiar with dog rescue, you must know that pit bulls are a bit of a tough sell in today’s pet adoption market with people attempting to sort through the fact and fiction surrounding our four-legged, not-so-bully, bullies. One of my favorite quotes about pits is “If you don’t love pit bulls, you simply do not know enough about them.” Pit bulls have to jump through many more hoops than other dogs just to prove themselves worthy of living in today’s communities.

So what could possibly be an even harder sell than a pit bull?

What type of dog is the most frequently impounded in our shelter? What type of dogs are euthanized more frequently when adoptions are slow and space is limited? What type of dog is most likely to be passed up by potential adopters? Duh. The answer to all of these questions is those dogs who (no matter how creative you try to get) can only be labeled as none other than a pit bull mix

Not pit bull enough to be pulled by a rescue, but just enough that it has to be labeled that way. The mutty pit. The pit mutt. Whatever you want to call these lovable misfits.

Real life example.

I introduce Calvin. The most wiggly of them all. I mean seriously…this little man’s booty does. not. stop. He’s perfect in all ways–dog/cat friendly, heartworm negative, knows his basic commands, is crate trained, and is just all around good pup! Calvin attends numerous adoption, training, and socialization events, but just can not gather interest. He has been sitting in foster care–not because of behavior issues or any of that nonsense– but because rather than being seen as a well-rounded family dog, he is passed over as an ordinary pit bull mix. So. Lame.

Calvin2CALVIN #3704Calvin

These are the dogs that have my heart. These somewhat “in-between-ers” if you will.  Even if you aren’t a huge pit-bull fan (I get it, some people just prefer other dogs for some strange reason tehe), if you are an animal lover, these dogs should matter to you. Errm. Why? Well–stay with me here–as long as these pit mixes are the most prominent “breed” pouring into our shelters, euthanasia rates cannot go down without **newsflash** getting them out of the shelters.

Pit bull mixes like Calvin will never make it without a little help. He can sit, and lick, and wiggle as much as he wants, but he can’t speak up for himself. If you can’t adopt a pit mix, foster one. If you can’t foster one, sponsor. If you can’t sponsor, volunteer with them. If you can’t volunteer, donate. If you can’t donate, advocate, share, crosspost, and maybe most importantly, EDUCATE!

I challenge you to open your heart a little more. Because, seriously. The in-between-ers need all the help they can get.

P.S. Here is Calvin’s pet finder. You need this dog in your life, and you can make that happen by clicking here. http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/26891304/

Advertisements

Have a heart: aid in fighting against the most common canine heart disease in Louisiana

I was so excited to get my newest foster dog, Clementine. A 1 & 1/2 year old beauty, she was full of spunk and excitement to be out of the shelter. This girl always had a smile on her face, so one day when I got home from school and noticed she was acting very strange, I knew something was up.I checked her gums, which were very pale, and she soon lost control of her back legs – I mean…they were dragging the floor. I immediately rushed her to the closest vet clinic I could, where they ran blood test and x-rays. Clementine slowly came back to herself, but I soon learned that she had temporarily gone into heart shock. Why? Because at only one and a half years old – this girl’s entire right side of her young heart was full. of. worms.

Clementine!12

heartworms

Heartworms disease. If you’re from the northern United States, you may have never even heard of this disease, but if you’re from southern Louisiana… you know that heartworms here are out. of. control. The vast majority of animals housed by animal control test positive for this disease. My very own home town in Terrebonne Parish, LA is has highest number of heartworm positive dogs in the entire country. Why is it so bad down here? Well… in these swamp lands, as many of you may know, mosquitos are not scarce – in fact – they are a year round pain in the butt to each of us, including our companion animals. Heartworms are spread by these mosquitos…. with only one bite, they can transmit up to 7 larvae.

These larvae can mature into a worm in the blood vessels of the lungs and in the heart. Given enough time to advance, these worms can eventually block the flow of blood once their numbers increase, ultimately leading to heart failure. Most heartworm positive dogs display signs of exercise intolerance, coughing, and weight loss. If this disease is allowed to continue to advance in a dog, it will result in a very slow, and extremely painful death.

Fortunately, there are preventative medications which are very effective in fighting this disease! However, these medications must be administered monthly, and many dog owners are not familiar with the vital need to give their companion their heartworm medication.

Close to 100% of dogs who are not placed on heartworm prevention will test positive for this disease by age 2. Wait, did you read that right? Yes.. CLOSE TO 100%. So you can just about imagine the number of dogs who come into our southern Louisiana animal shelters who grew up under the care of an irresponsible pet owner having never taken heartworm medication. I don’t have the exact intake number of East Baton Rouge Animal Control (known as Companion Animal Alliance to many), but I can guarantee that the vast majority of our impounded dogs test positive for heartworms disease.

This disease is not a death sentence, by any meansBut unfortunately, having the tag “hw pos” on a kennel can make a dog a little harder to adopt out, and can be the cut off on a dog’s time when our shelters become too crowded.

Ummm.. soo what’s the good news? As widespread as heartworms are in southern, LA, its hard to find “good news” surrounding this topic. However, if this disease is caught early on enough, there are different treatment options. I will discuss the 2 most commonly used in shelter practice.

The first is the most economical. If a dog is a heartworms positive, he/she may be placed on monthly heartworm preventative, and eventually all the worms will died off. The issue with this type of treatment is that time needed to kill all of the worms in a dog’s heart can take anywhere from 3 months to 3+ years, depending on the case. By this time, worms may have already caused permanent damage to a dog’s heart. However, it is not as expensive ( roughly $5-$10 a month/dog) as our more reliable option 2…

Fast-kill treatment. The best analogy I can make for this type of treatment is that it is similar (using the term similar very lightly) to chemotherapy- in that very powerful injections are given to quickly kill off the worms in a dog’s heart. This treatment is very hard on a dog, but it is the quickest and most effective way of ridding the heart of these parasites. This treatment is also very expensive, averaging roughly $400-$500 a dog.

These Louisiana dogs have it rough. Our shelters are crowded, our euthanasia rates are high, and our funding is low. While we are making advancements in decreasing our euthanasia rates, heartworms are still ever present in our shelter. Clementine came into the shelter pregnant at only 1 & and a half, and this disease almost defeated her. She is only one of many, many dogs who deserve not only a second shot at life, but simply a state of good-health. Here are just a few faces of the thousands of dogs who have come into the shelter with heart worms.

shelter8Daniel lsuHandsome3shelter12Mickeylab4

What can you do to help? 

Fortunately, an incredible donor stepped up to sponsor my girl, Clementine’s, heartworm treatment. She is now happy and healthy – free of heart worms!

Clementine3

However, there is always there are tons of more dogs in need of help. There is an ever continuing need for funding to be able to give our high number of heartworm positive shelter dogs proper medical attention. We have established a donation site directed solely to the treatment of these sick and injured animals of East Baton Rouge Parish at Companion Animal Alliance. To help, please click on the link below in order to make a contribution. No donation is too small. The dogs and volunteers of Companion Animal Alliance thank you!

https://www.iphiview.com/braf/DonorDashboard/DonateToYourFund/tabid/119/dispatch/
contribution_277650_db11c02e14bd84617471e20789d382d1cc7866a6_0/Default.aspx