Archive for June, 2012
So I spent my birthday in court of all places! Not because I had done anything wrong, but because I have been following the Solesky trial which led to a ruling that all pit bulls and pit bull types are inherently dangerous dogs.
This has become a very personal case for me, not only because I work in animal welfare in a shelter that houses and adopts out pit bulls. But also because I have a pit bull. And I have an almost one-year-old son, who means the world to me.
I have long understood the human animal bond. I have had dogs my entire life and they have always been a huge part of it. But I would be heartbroken if anything ever happened to my child because of a dangerous dog. I would be just as upset if someone ever told me I couldn’t have my dog because of her breed. My dog has never hurt anyone but she is “dangerous” in Maryland because of what she is. I am so sad for what happened to this family, I can’t imagine going through what this family has gone through. I feel for the family… but also for all the families losing their dogs.
I think we should have laws requiring pit bulls to be vaccinated and spayed and neutered. I think the Maryland-DC-Virginia area has a pit bull overpopulation problem, as do many urban areas, that needs to be aggressively addressed. But not by calling them “dangerous” when many of them are loving family pets. This is a fact: the majority of dogs bites occur with unneutered male dogs, chained or tethered dogs, or unsocialized dogs, regardless of their breed…. not necessarily pit bulls.
The other aspect of this case that is extremely difficult to deal with is trying to identify what a “pit bull” is. I also have a personal experience with this. I adopted a dog in 2003; she was labeled a “pit bull mix” at the shelter. This was the breed I researched and thought I was adopting. Everyone agreed she looked like a pit bull (a very pretty one!) Out of curiosity I did a DNA test on her and she came back — to my surprise–as a Rottweiler!! Who would of thought?! How could I ever identify a pit bull if I couldn’t even identify my own dog! Either way, she is now 12 years old living her life out with a new baby brother and her pit bull (I think) sister. Whatever breed she is, I love her and my pit bull. They are my family.
What happened to the child in the Solesky case was a nightmare that no family should have to go through. As horrific as this was, should we condemn an entire breed based on this incident?
In my opinion, no.
Maureen Sosa is the Shelter Director for the Washington Animal Rescue League where she oversees all shelter operations. She joined the League in 2003.
By Dr. Jan Rosen, DVM, Medical Director for Washington Animal Rescue League
Rylie is a familiar face around the Washington Animal Rescue League. A former shelter resident who was adopted by a veterinary technician in our Medical Center, Riley comes in frequently when schoolchildren visit. She’s a large, friendly Rottweiler, and the children love her!
Rylie is what’s known to many dog-lovers as a “tripawd.” One of her front legs had to be surgically removed when she was a puppy after a rubber band was wrapped around it, cutting off circulation.
Recently, Rylie had to have major surgery for a torn a ligament in her knee. She walks really well on 3 legs; two…not so much! Fortunately, thanks to a very generous donor, we have a new device here at the League Medical Center that will decrease Riley’s swelling, reduce her pain, and speed up her healing.
This device is called a K-Laser or Therapeutic Laser. It’s a machine that sends specific wavelengths of light into the body to improve healing time, reduce pain, increase circulation, and decrease swelling. It can help with numerous conditions seen commonly in dogs and cats, such as hip dysplasia, back pain, post-surgical pain, severe gingivitis, and a variety of infections. It will allow us to avoid surgery in some of our patients, get some of our patients off of medications with side effects, and lessen or eliminate chronic pain in others.
The laser treatment is quick—about 4 minutes per session—and painless. Although there are a few precautions that must be taken—like use of protective sunglasses—the technology is also very safe. One person holds the animal being treated while another slowly moves the beam over the affected area
Like many dogs—and people, for that matter—Rylie didn’t particularly like being restrained…even for 4 minutes. But thanks to some support from “mom” and a biscuit or two, her first session went well. We’ll repeat it twice a week for several weeks and, hopefully, she’ll be back on three legs—and performing her ambassadorial duties—soon. The schoolchildren will be pleased!
A very special thank you to our generous, anonymous donor for bringing us the K-Laser, a device that will greatly assist us in caring for the dogs and cats we treat on a daily basis.
Dr. Jan Rosen has been with Washington Animal Rescue League since 2003 and is currently the League’s Medical Director.
A few months ago I was contacted by a 12-year-old student from a local middle school. She and three of her classmates were interested in doing a weekend of service at the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL) as a project for their English class.
That presented a challenge for us.
We are not able to accept a single day or weekend of service. We require all volunteers to commit to eight hours per month for at least six months. We ask for this commitment in order to keep our animals and volunteers safe. Shelter animals are stressed, they aren’t like your companion animals at home. By giving 8 hours a month, volunteers develop skills in animal handling and reading their body language. The animals thrive on the consistency and routine of familiar, well trained volunteers.
I explained this to the young student and suggested that she and her classmates organize a fundraiser or food drive or even a blanket-and-towel drive for our animal residents. They were up for the challenge.
A few weeks later they held a bake sale and set up a lemonade stand at Bradley Hills Park on a busy Saturday. The youngsters baked cookies and brownies and made fresh-squeezed lemonade to offer park patrons. And thanks to their culinary skills—and commitment–they raised $145 for the Washington Animal Rescue League!
The students came by one afternoon to present the funds that they raised and were treated to a tour of the shelter and medical center. They also got to meet, and interact with, the dogs and cats who will benefit directly from their efforts.
As volunteer manager at WARL I am often contacted by people who want to volunteer but can’t commit to the time requirement. I try to use this opportunity to educate these caring individuals about the many ways they can make a difference:
- A towel-and-blanket drive at school or the office will provide our animals with a cozy spot to relax.
- A food drive for unopened canned or dry food for our Rescuer’s Food Bank helps District residents, who have hit hard times, keep their families together by supplying them food for their companion animals.
- A collection of dog and cat toys will give our shelter residents hours of enrichment and play therapy as they wait to meet their new families.
We also have multiple funds set up if you would like to raise money for a specific need such as disaster relief or senior, special-needs, or seriously sick or injured animals; we even have a fund for neonatal kittens. And if a particular cat or dog catches your eye on our website or while visiting us, you can sponsor that animal’s stay with us!
The bottom line is that whether or not you can make the time commitment required to become an official volunteer at the Washington Animal Rescue League, you CAN have a huge impact on the lives of the animals who spend time with us on their way to their “happily ever afters.”
We’re very proud of this 12 year old and her dedication to helping us here at the League!
Lisa Stemcosky is Washington Animal Rescue League’s Volunteer Manager and a Certified Dog Trainer. Lisa manages more than 100 generous volunteers that are crucial to the success of the League.