Friday, April 30, 2010

Henry & Tink

FROM, JUNE 2010:
Meet Henry, the three-legged cat, and his dear friend Tink, the two-legged dog.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Minnesota photographer honored for nature photos


Minnesota wildlife photographer Jim Brandenburg has been honored by his colleagues -- in spades.

Four images captured by the Ely resident have been included among the 40 best nature photographs ever made in a ranking by the International League of Conservation Photographers.

Brandenburg, a longtime contributor to National Geographic magazine, had more photos selected than any other photographer. Others singled out for recognition were the legendary photographers Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.

On his website, Brandenburg is quoted as saying, "to have four of my photographs chosen by my peers as part of the top 40 nature photographs of all time is indeed the highlight of my career. I am honored beyond words."

His images include a gray wolf near the Boundary Waters and bison at Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne.

Brandenburg's photos can be seen on his blog.

All 40 photographs can be seen here.

Alaskan dog is a hero

Dog Leads Alaska State Trooper To Fire (VIDEO)
First Posted: 04-23-10 06:01 AM | Updated: 04-23-10 06:11 AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP)-- A dashcam video from the Alaska State Troopers shows a dog leading them through winding back roads to a blazing fire at his owners' property.

The video on the troopers' website shows the German shepherd running to meet the trooper's vehicle, then racing to the house on Caswell Lakes on April 4.

Troopers say Buddy and his owner, 23-year-old Ben Heinrichs, were in the family workshop when a heater ignited chemicals. Heinrichs told Buddy: "We need to get help."

The dog eventually found a trooper responding to a call about the fire.

The State Troopers are presenting a special award Friday to the dog. Buddy will receive an engraved silver-plated dog bowl in Anchorage.

Heinrichs suffered minor flash burns on his face. The workshop was destroyed, but only some window trim on the house was damaged.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP)-- A dashcam video from the Alaska State Troopers shows a dog leading them through winding back roads to a blazing fire at his owners' property. The video on the troopers' web...

Alaska dog gets his day as troopers honor pup for leading them to fire on owner's property
By RACHEL D'ORO , Associated Press

Last update: April 24, 2010 - 3:06 AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Buddy the German shepherd was hailed Friday as a hero for guiding Alaska State Troopers through winding back roads to a fire at his owners' workshop.

"Buddy is an untrained dog who for some reason recognized the severity of the situation and acted valiantly in getting help for his family," Col. Audie Holloway, head of the troopers, said Friday at a ceremony for the 5-year-old dog, who stood quietly before an adoring crowd.

Buddy, whose good deed was caught on a patrol car's dashcam video, received a stainless steel dog bowl engraved with words of appreciation from troopers for his "diligence and assistance."

Buddy also received a big rawhide bone, and his human family got a framed letter documenting his efforts.

"He's my hero," owner Ben Heinrichs said, his voice breaking. "If it wasn't for him, we would have lost our house."

The dashcam video shows Buddy meeting the trooper's vehicle, then dashing to their property about 55 miles north of Anchorage on April 4.

Heinrichs said he was working on parts for his truck when a spark hit some gasoline and ignited, lighting his clothes blaze. The 23-year-old man ran outside to stomp out the flames by rolling in the snow, closing the door to keep the blaze from spreading.

Heinrichs then realized Buddy was still inside the burning building and let the dog out. Heinrichs suffered minor burns on his face and second-degree burns on his left hand, which was still heavily bandaged Friday.

Buddy was not injured.

"I just took off running," Heinrichs said. "I said we need to get help, and he just took off."

Buddy ran into the nearby woods and onto Caswell Loop Road, where the dog encountered the trooper, Terrence Shanigan, whose global positioning device had failed while responding to a call about the fire. He was working with dispatchers to find the property in an area with about 75 miles of back roads.

Shanigan was about to make a wrong turn when he saw a shadow up the road. His vehicle lights caught Buddy at an intersection, and the dog eyed the trooper and began running down a side road.

"He wasn't running from me, but was leading me," he said. "I just felt like I was being led ... it's just one of those things that we're thinking on the same page for that brief moment."

The video shows Buddy occasionally looking back at the patrol car as he raced ahead, galloping around three turns before arriving in front of the blaze, which was very close to the Heinrichs' home.

From there, the trooper guided firefighters to the scene.

The workshop was destroyed and a shed was heavily damaged, but only some window trim on the house was scorched.

The Heinrich family said they knew Buddy was smart ever since they got him six weeks after he was born to a canine-officer mother and that he was brave, twice chasing bears away while Ben Heinrichs was fishing.

But saving their home beat them all.

"Downright amazing, I would say," said Tom Heinrichs, Ben's father. "Maybe there was some divine intervention."

Monday, April 26, 2010

MN House WILL vote on puppy mill regulation

Minnesota House WILL Vote on Puppy Mill Regulation - Urgent Action Needed
Contact your representative in the Minnesota House of Representatives and ask them to support the Benson Amendment to House File 2678

(Updated 4/26/2010)
After years of stalling, the Minnesota House of Representatives will finally have an opportunity to vote on puppy mill regulation. On Tuesday, April 27, House File 2678 will be heard on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives. When that happens, Representative John Benson will offer an amendment to that bill that will do some very important things, including:
• Close a loop hole currently being exploited by Minnesota puppy mills to avoid paying sales tax on the puppies they are selling;
• Generate at least $1.3 million in additional revenue for the State as a result of increased tax compliance;
• Ensure large-scale, commercial breeders of dogs and cats are in compliance with existing cruelty laws in Minnesota;
• Help to ensure that sick animals, which can pose a risk to public health, are not being sold and shipped nation-wide from Minnesota commercial breeders.

To help ensure this important amendment is accepted, we need you to contact your representative at the Minnesota House of Representatives NOW and urge them to support the Benson amendment to House File 2678. It is long past time for the Minnesota Legislature to deal with this issue. More information can be found at the links on the right side of this page. The Benson Amendment is virtually identical in language to House File 253.


In addition to contacting your representative, please share this page with your family and friends!
Related Links

Find Your Representative

The Finances of Regulation

Special Interests and Puppy Mills

An Open Letter to the Minnesota Legislature

Friday, April 23, 2010

MN man who starved dogs gets probation

Probation for man who
starved dogs to death

AUSTIN, Minn. (AP) -- A Mower County judge has
sentenced a man to community service and
probation for letting two dogs die of starvation and
exposure to the cold.

Thirty-two-year-old Jacob Joshua McAlister of Lyle
was earlier found guilty of two felony counts of
animal cruelty.

Mower County sheriff's officials say a black Labrador
retriever and a chocolate lab were found dead in a
kennel on McAlister's property in April 2009. A
veterinarian determined the dogs died of starvation,
dehydration and exposure to the elements suffered
January through March.

The Austin Daily Herald reports Judge Donald
Rysavy ordered McAlister to spent two years on
probation and complete 100 hours of community

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Animal cruelty videos

Supreme Court voids law aimed at banning animal cruelty videos
By Robert Barnes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 20, 2010; 11:48 AM

The Supreme Court struck down a federal law Tuesday aimed at banning videos depicting graphic violence against animals, saying that it violates the constitutional right to free speech.
Chief Justice John J. Roberts Jr., writing for an eight-member majority, said the law was overly broad and not allowed by the First Amendment. He rejected the government's argument that whether certain categories of speech deserve constitutional protection depends on balancing the value of the speech against its societal costs.
"The First Amendment's guarantee of free speech does not extend only to categories of speech that survive an ad hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits," Roberts wrote. "The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the Government outweigh the costs. Our Constitution forecloses any attempt to revise that judgment simply on the basis that some speech is not worth it."
The law was enacted in 1999 to forbid sales of so-called "crush videos," which appeal to a certain sexual fetish by depicting the torture of animals or showing them being crushed to death by women with stiletto heels or their bare feet. But the government has not prosecuted such a case. Instead, the case before the court, United States v. Stevens, came from Robert Stevens of Pittsville, Va., who was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison for videos he made about pit bull fighting.
Animal rights groups and 26 states had joined the Obama administration in support of the 1999 law. They argued that videos showing animal cruelty should be treated like child pornography rather than granted constitutional protection.
But Roberts said the federal law was so broadly written that it could include all depictions of killing animals, even hunting videos. He said the court was not passing judgment about whether "a statute limited to crush videos or other depictions of extreme animal cruelty would be constitutional."
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. was the lone dissenter.
"The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, but it most certainly does not protect violent criminal conduct, even if engaged in for expressive purposes," Alito wrote.
David Horowitz, executive director of the Media Coalition, said in response to the ruling: "We are gratified that the justices soundly rejected the government's invitation to create a new exception to the First Amendment. As today's ruling demonstrates, if the Court were to rewrite the First Amendment every time an unpopular or distasteful subject was at issue, we wouldn't have any free speech left. We continue to believe that animal cruelty is wrong and should be vigorously prosecuted, but as the Court today found, sending people to prison for making videos is not the answer."
The Media Coalition is an association that defends First Amendment rights and represents U.S. publishers, booksellers and producers and retailers of movies, videos, video games and other recordings.
The Humane Society of the United States said it was disappointed by the ruling but found hope in the majority's statement that it was not deciding whether a narrow statute targeting "crush videos" might be constitutional.
"The Supreme Court's decision gives us a clear pathway to enact a narrower ban on the sale of videos depicting malicious acts of cruelty, including animal crush videos and dogfighting," Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement. "Congress should act swiftly to make sure the First Amendment is not used as a shield for those committing barbaric acts of cruelty, and then peddling their videos on the Internet."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Best Friends: Viva Las Vegas!

April 12, 2010, 7:51AM MT
By Sandy Miller, Best Friends staff writer

Best Friends Operation Casino Cats program proves to be a success in maintaining hotel-casino property feline population

It’s a win-win for both community cats and the Las Vegas hotel-casino property that they call home.

Seven months after Operation Casino Cats was first launched, the Best Friends trap/neuter/return (TNR) program at the hotel-casino is proving to be a huge success.

Best Friends staffers and volunteers have trapped, neutered and spayed, and then returned more than 85 cats to the property, says Shelly Kotter, campaign specialist for Focus on Felines, one of four Best Friends campaigns aimed at reaching the goal of No More Homeless Pets.

“We’re pretty confident we have 99 percent of them,” Kotter says.

Kotter doesn’t want to reveal the name of the hotel-casino because people might abandon their cats there.

There were a few bumps along the way, but the hotel-casino’s management worked with Best Friends to iron out the few problems that arose. For instance, pigeons were frequenting the cats’ feeding stations, so Best Friends covered the feeding stations with large bins with doors cut into them which were covered with a light-weight plastic. The cats could still access the food, but the pigeons had to find other places to dine.

“One of the things that makes me really happy is that we were able to work with hotel management on any issues,” Kotter says. “Management has been really great about coming to us with problems and working with us to solve them.”

Like many other businesses, the hotel-casino has discovered that TNR programs are the best way — and indeed the most humane way — to deal with feral and stray cats, or community cats as we like to call them. With TNR, the cats are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinary clinic — in Las Vegas it’s the Tropicana Animal Hospital — where they’re spayed or neutered and vaccinated. While under the anesthesia, a small tip of one of their ears is taken off to identify that they’re part of a managed cat colony. Then they’re returned to the area from which they came where caregivers continue to feed and watch over them.

“Best Friends volunteers are instrumental in helping me trap and maintain the colonies as well as reporting to me any issues or needs,” says Tami Simon, Best Friends’ campaign coordinator in Las Vegas. “Hotel employees also keep me informed of the goings-on — if they see any pregnant cats, kittens or newcomers.”

Simon called the program a big success.

“Considering how many kittens we have prevented from being born, it has been wildly successful,” says Simon. “The colonies are all healthy, but not reproducing. The management and employees have been extremely supportive.”

So successful is the program that Best Friends plans to present it to other hotel-casinos and large businesses in Las Vegas.

“The success of this program will help other businesses see that it solves multiple cat issues and is truly the most humane way of dealing with community cats,” Kotter says.

Focus on Felines

If we’re ever going to reach a day of No More Homeless Pets, we must keep cats from entering shelters in the first place. Seventy-two percent of cats who end up in shelters are killed, and only 10 percent to 20 percent of pet cats are adopted from shelters. TNR programs keep cats out of shelters and keep them from producing more cats. TNR programs are also cheaper to implement than trap and kill programs.

To find out how much your community could save by replacing trap and kill with TNR, check out Best Friends’ TNR Cost Savings Calculator.
Read more about TNR in Best Friends’ Focus on Felines campaign.
Read more about the launch of the Operation Casino Cats program and watch the video chronicling the successful process.

Photos by Molly Wald and hotel-casino employee

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

Free-Roaming Felines Fixed for Free

March 29, 10:24 AM
Minneapolis Pets Examiner
Mike Fry

A feral cat in a trap awaiting surgery at a Wildcat Wednesday event at St. Paul Animal Control.
Photo by Animal Ark

At many shelters or animal control centers feisty felines are simply killed. However, as March comes to a close, an innovative program is ramping up for its busy summer season. The program provides non-lethal control of Minnesota’s unsocialized, free-roaming felines, A.K.A “feral cats”.

Animal Ark’s Feline Feral Friends program operates through the spring, summer and fall and surgically sterilizes and vaccinates between 1,300 and 2,000 cats each year. Surgeries are performed in a large, mobile, surgical hospital called the Neuter Commuter, which is perfectly outfitted for the task.

Though the negative impacts of feral cats are frequently exaggerated, most people agree that leaving large numbers of intact domestic pets to roam wild is not a good thing. They also agree that the traditional “trap and kill” approach employed by most of Minnesota’s humane societies for nearly 100 years has failed to reduce the numbers of cats for several reasons.

Each female can have at least 3 litters of kittens in a year. The kittens themselves are able to reproduce at just 6 months of age. They are like breeding machines. With each breeding cycle, fertile, free-roaming felines breed kittens that usually do not survive due to various environmental factors that limit the population size. Because lethal approaches to managing free-roaming cats can never catch all of the cats, and because killing cats does not change the factors that limit population size, lethal approaches simply do not work. Another cat quickly replaces each cat killed at a humane society.

Instead of killing cats, the Feline Feral Friends program traps, spays or neuters and vaccinates them. The kitties are then returned to their home territory and managed.

Using this approach reproduction in a colony of cats can be halted. At the same time, fertile animals are prevented from moving into the area. The net result is a gradual reduction of the free-roaming cat population. Damage to wildlife is also minimized.

Animal Ark’s Neuter Commuter travels the State, visiting farms and industrial complexes where colonies of felines have become established. The largest of these colonies have been approximately 200 felines.

Additionally, in cooperation with St. Paul Animal Control, Animal Ark offers free services for feral felines found in that city. The first Wednesday of each month, St. Paul Animal Control hosts Wildcat Wednesdays, day-long spay/neuter events that allows St. Paul residents to bring feral cats in for services.

St. Paul Animal Control provides traps and instructions for trapping to residents of St. Paul free of charge for this purpose. The first Wildcat Wednesday of the season will take place Wednesday, April 7, with traps being made available a week in advance.

For more information about Feline Feral Friends or Wildcat Wednesdays, call (651) 772-8983 Ext. 21.

Friday, April 2, 2010

80 dogs & cats rescued from Waseca hoarder

No Kill Shelter Needs Help with Rescued Pets

March 30, 10:23 PM
Minneapolis Pets Examiner
Mike Fry

One of the rescued dogs when it arrived at Animal Ark.
Photo by Animal Ark

They are dirty, smelly and a little shy, but life for them is taking a turn for the better. Waseca Animal Rescue has saved dozens of animals from a large-scale situation many would typically describe as a “hoarder”. In total, about 20 cats and 60 dogs were on the property. According to local ordinances only 3 pets are allowed.

On Tuesday, March 30 the owner relinquished the animals to Waseca Animal Rescue that has been placing animals with other no kill rescue groups, including Animal Ark.

“We want to make sure that all of the animals are safe and well cared for,” said Marlene Foote, president and Founder of Animal Ark.

The first batch of animals arrived at Animal Ark at about 9:30 PM, met by a team of staff and a veterinarian to assess their condition.

“They are a little skittish,” said Mary Salter of Animal Ark of the first dogs to arrive. “But that will change quickly.”

Their other known issues are likely to change quickly, too.

“A little food, a couple of baths, some friendly play with people… that’s what these dogs really need,” Salter added.

You can help by becoming a foster home for one or more of the rescued pups. Simply fill out a foster application online. If you cannot foster a pet, you can donate to help with the rescue efforts.