Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Are Rodeos Cruel

Anna Sewell once wrote a book called Black Beauty. She wrote this book to educate adults about cruelty and abuses towards horses. Anna's book did cause things to improve for many horses of the time, and has since been important in encouraging people to support kindness to horses, however to deny that any cruelty to horses does not exist now is just false.

Although cruelty does exist in many equestrian disciplines (and in some methods of training), it is the rodeo industry that often comes under attack by animal welfare advocates, and rightfully so. Can't we just agree that rodeos are cruel? Apparently not!

People in the rodeo industry, and many fans, often defend rodeos as not being cruel. It's a shame they cannot at least admit cruelty exists but be honest about finding some enjoyment in it. It would at least be more honest than saying that raking spurs along a horse's shoulder is not cruel. How can throwing a rope around a running calf's neck and jerking it to a sudden stop, not be cruel? And those are just the better known rodeo events. There are many rodeo events that are quite rough that are not televised, including wild pony chases where miniature horses soon learn to be terrified of humans.

Does the horse look happy?

How can anyone watch a horse, pinched with a painful strap around its groin, bucking, being “raked” by spurs and not say it's cruel? If you find entertainment in that, you should at least have the balls to admit that the animal is not enjoying it.

To say that something is not cruel, when clearly the animal is not having much fun, shows a greater ignorance. If the rodeo fans, and participants, want to live in denial, being somehow blissfully unaware that livestock animals do feel fear and pain, then they are fools.

Not intentional, but the rope is pressing on the one eye.
How can anyone watch a horse so terrified it throws itself over, and say “Oh no, perfectly fine, no cruelty here!”? How can anyone watch a calf die of a broken neck (admittedly rare but it does happen) as a result of being roped when running, and say “Yup, not cruel, totally normal.”?

This is not to excuse cruelty in other equestrian disciplines (often people in the rodeo start pointing fingers when the rodeo is criticized as being cruel), it is simply to say that rodeos are more for enjoyment of people, than animals. Why can't people at least “cowboy up” and admit it? Rodeos are cruel, if you like them, that is your choice, and well... deal with it.

Photos are from Wikimedia Commons.

You can read more on the debate of Rodeo Cruelty if you wish.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Did you Really Rescue a Pet?

How many times have you heard a person say “I rescued this dog/cat from the streets.”, or “I am a pet rescue.” or, “I rescued it from pet store.”? I hear these quite often, (or see it posted on websites), the problem is... that often what the person thinks was a rescue, was not.

Stolen Pets

If a pet is outside, do not assume that it was discarded by its owner. It may have just gotten out of the yard for a moment. It may simply be lost, or may even have been stolen and abandoned since. It is not uncommon for people to take their neighbors cat, drive to another area of town, or country, and abandon it, of course this is illegal but if you are the person who finds the pet and keeps it, it could be you that is charged with theft (or at least possession of stolen property).

When you take a pet you find on the pet it is not time to pat yourself on the back just yet. You need to call the local animal shelter and report finding it so that its rightful owner can claim it. Only after waiting a certain period of time might you consider it your own – but even then it is a good idea to take it to the vet to be checked for a microchip or tattoo.

If you found this cat, I hope you would report finding him.

When a person finds a pet outside, particularly those without collars, it is unfair to assume the owner does not want it. It is far better to assume the owner does want it, but they just do not know where it is. Keeping a pet without reporting finding it is really pet theft, whether you took it from in the house, from the front yard, or somewhere down the block. If you didn't try to find the owner, you did not “rescue” the animal. I must back up for a second and add that it is, in most areas, legal to take pets you find wandering off their owners property, but only if you call the shelter and report finding it, or actually take it to the shelter.

If you find a pet, no matter how cute it is, you cannot automatically keep it as your own, the law of “Finders Keepers” does not apply to pets (at least not in most areas of the world), you have to report finding it. To say you rescued it is simply not true, if you want to rescue a pet, go adopt one from death row at an animal shelter, do not keep somebody else's pet. Yup, that means you might have to pay an adoption fee, deal with it.

Pet Hoarders

Hoarders sometimes justify themselves as pet rescuers, but many hoarders keep too many pets in less than ideal conditions, as such a hoarder is hardly a pet rescuer. Most hoarders keep pets to feel good about themselves, not to improve the quality of life for a pet, if you are a pet hoarder, you are not a pet rescuer, deal with it.

Pet Store Buyers

The worst pet rescuer story is the one where a person buys a typically overpriced pet from a pet store and says they “rescued it”. I just want to shake and yell at these people. You didn't rescue a pet, you condemned its parents to a horrid life in a puppy mill!

Only a rare few pet stores offer shelter pets for adoption (which would be a rescue) but these are clearly owned by the rescue group, not the store. When stores sell pets, it is not anything other than a profit making venture that involves thousands of animals being use to breed more – something no rescue organization would ever support. If you bought a puppy at a pet store and paid more than the cost of vaccinations and worming (approx $100US), you did not rescue it at all, you simply bought into an industry that mass produces animals warehouse style, and this applies to all pets, from fish, to ferrets, bunnies to birds. If you bought your pet from a pet store you didn't rescue it, so stop patting yourself on the back, and well... deal with it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Your Parents Don't Hate You if they Wont Buy You a Horse

When I was young I spend ages begging my parents to buy me a horse. I am certainly not the only girl to do, nor was I the only one who thought my parents were mean in not buying me a horse.

I guess I knew that horses were not cheap, and required monthly expenses, in terms of boarding costs (we didn't live in the country), farrier bills, and so forth, but I just figured they could afford it. I guess it must be true, teenage girls think the world revolves around them, all I knew is that I wanted a horse and my world was shattered by not having one.

My parents were not too unkind, they did pay for me to take weekly riding lessons, which I enjoyed thoroughly. Later they did let me attend Olds College to learn more about horses, how to train them, and so forth. It was almost a dream come true! I finally got my own horse when I inherited some money upon my grandmothers death – but I went a bit overboard and bought 4 horses. Oh well!

One of my first 4 horses, The Sorcerer.

Anyhow, what I am saying here is that if you are one of those horse crazy girls who is begging your parents to buy you a horse, you need to realize that it is not your parent's responsibility to buy you a horse.

It is your parent's responsibility to keep you safe, fed, clothed, and sheltered. It is not up to them to buy you a horse no matter how hard you try to convince them it is.

All the promises to get good grades or to keep your room clean will never be kept, after all, you will be at the barn all the time!

It sucks if you cannot convince your parents to buy a horse, but (and especially if you do not live rurally) this is just not something most parents buy for their kids. Not only is a horse a huge expense, but parents sometimes know they will be stuck paying for it if you tire of it (and turn your interest to boys, or friends, instead of horses). Selling a horse isn't always as easy as it may seem.

Your parents have a ton of other financial responsibilities, paying the mortgage, power bills, and so forth. The more you beg and plead, the more it's gonna piss them off. Buying a horse is your responsibility, and nobody else's.

The best way around this is to either ask for lessons, or to go for a trail ride. You can start a job and pay for lessons yourself, if your parents are unable to. The best thing to do is really to work, and save your money so that when you move out you can buy a horse for yourself, or better yet buy an acreage... and later get horses!

In the mean time, I know it sucks that your folks wont spend thousands of their hard earned dollars to buy you a horse... but.. well... deal with it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Yes, Yes, Cats in Heat are Annoying

Lots of times I hear people excuse themselves for letting their pet cat get pregnant by saying something feeble such as “She was in heat, and was annoying, so we put her outside.”.

It's all great until they realize that their 8 month old cat is now pregnant and now faces a risky delivery due to her age, and then the owner worries because they have no money for a cesearian section. That's only half of the problem. The other half is that even if she does have her kittens with no problems, it means.. more kittens, and we don't really need more kittens.

Humane societies exist for many reasons one of which is that more pets are born every year than there are homes for. The Humane Society in the United States reported that shelters across the USA have had to euthanize 4 million animals yearly. Every kitten of yours that finds a home (and there is no guarantee it will find a “good home”) takes a home away from another kitten.

I have six cats myself, all are fixed. When I first got my first cat I had a very low income so rather than getting one that still needed to be spayed, I adopted one that was already spayed. I soon adopted three more. I was living on part time hours, for minimum wage, but all my cats were fixed – there is no excuse for having a cat that is not fixed, and if you do, there is no excuse for letting it outside to breed.

In most areas there are low cost spay or neuter options. Even if not it should be a no-brainer to keep an unfixed cat inside. That includes unfixed male cats – is he spraying? Neuter him! There is no excuse.

An unfixed female cat will go into heat around six months of age (sometimes sooner). Her heat will last about a week (anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks), and will return regularly (every two to three weeks in the spring and summer, less often in the winter). And yes.. it's annoying. If you cannot deal with it, then get her spayed. If you cannot afford to get a cat spayed, then do not get a cat!

Do not be the person that gets a kitten then complains in a few months that you cannot afford to spay it. Or if you cannot afford to spay her, keep her indoors, and when she goes into heat, well, deal with it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Birds were meant to Fly

Aviary for outdoor birds.

With the exception of some pet birds, such as pet chickens who are relatively flightless, birds were meant to fly. There are two things that some people do wrong in terms of bird pet ownership.

Flight Patterns

Birds are not helicopters, yet most bird cages are designed as though they were. Most bird cages are designed to fit our houses, not to house birds. Most bird cages have more vertical space, than horizontal. How many birds do you see flying up and down?

Birds are designed to fly, their cages should be large enough to allow for some flight room. In many cases this mean they should have an aviary, or be allowed out of their cage. A small bird, such as a finch should have a cage that is at least 2 feet long (60cm), or ideally much longer, allowing them to use their wings for flight rather than just to lift them up to the next perch. As we get into the larger birds, lovebirds, and budgies, they should have cages that are even larger.

If your house cannot fit the right size of cage, or aviary, for the species of bird you wish to get, perhaps you need to rethink bird ownership, or get a smaller bird.

Wing Clipping

Some bird owners restrict their bird's ability to fly by clipping its wings. This is a temporary “solution” to something they see as a problem: flight! They cut the flight feathers, and while this is generally safe, if done incorrectly can cause bleeding, infection, or other problems.

I might understand wing clipping in a few situations, as when a person first gets some pet ducks, they clip the flight feathers to keep the birds “at home” but allow them to grow out after the birds have learned where their home is (and hopefully not been eaten by foxes in the mean time). Or when a person first gets a house bird, and wants to restrict its flight when they take it out of the cage and it is not particularly tame. Too bad they didn't by a hand raised (tame) bird in the first place.

Flight is important to birds, it is natural. It is healthy exercise for them. When birds are not allowed to fly their muscles atrophy. Imagine you were to be put into a short room and told to crawl around, and were not allowed to use your legs fully (or had your feet cut off). This is what we put our pet birds through constantly.

Guess what folks, birds fly, it is natural for them to do so. If you do not want a bird that flies, get a chicken, or penguin, or get a hamster instead. Most birds were made to fly, accept it and well, deal with it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cats Need Meat deal with it

Why is it so hard for people to accept that cats are meat eaters?

I totally get that people might chose a vegan, or vegetarian, diet for themselves, I am almost vegetarian myself. What confuses me so much is when cat owners insist on feeding a vegan diet to their cats! An omnivore might be fine on a vegan diet, but a carnivore, not so much.

Cats need meat protein and they need taurine. It's not just that they like these things, or want them, they need them.

Go ahead and put some corn beside some raw (or cooked) chicken; even if you could explain to your cat the ethics of eating meat, and killing, the cat is still going to shrug its shoulders and devour the chicken. The cat is all about surviving.

There are actually companies that do manufacture vegan cat foods, but let us consider that the standards for pet food quality, particularly in the USA, are not terrifically high. Many lower quality cat foods do not have enough meat content in them, and cats are suffering health problems as a result.

Obesity is related to how much food a cat eats. Many low quality cat foods use an abundance of fat to add flavor to their foods that are lacking in a good meat source. Since these foods use fillers, and cheap protein, such as corn, the cat has to eat more food, all the time eating more fat. This is why so many cats experience problems with food vomit, their stomach simply cannot handle all the fat, or the other crap that goes into these foods, they want meat.

I am not going to sugar coat the cat food industry, baby male chicks are ground up at age day one to go into some cat foods (they, among other things, will be listed as by-products). If a person is concerned about such issues they can select a better cat food – one that uses only human grade meat, meat that comes from older birds. Heck an owner can cook for their cat if they wish, and can select free range, cruelty free, birds to cook for their kitty, or can pick another meat source (not fish).

Guess What?  If your cat goes outside it will kill birds, it will kill mice. If you have a hamster and it gets out of the cage the cat might even kill that too. Punishing your cat for being a predator is totally unfair, and cruel.

Your cat is a carnivore, if you cannot deal with that perhaps a cat is not the right pet for you, perhaps you should get a rabbit. Stuffing your cat with vegetarian, or vegan, options is not good for it. Your cat is not a vegan, well, deal with it.

Your Dog Needs a Veterinarian, Deal with it

Have you spent anytime on Internet pet forums, Yahoo!Answers, or WebAnswers? If so, you know how common it is for a dog owner to post a serious question about their pets health.

My dog is bleeding what should I do? My dog has not eaten in a week, what should I do? My dog has lost weight and cannot stand up, I am so worried about my beloved pet, what should I do? For crying out loud people, you should get your dog, your beloved pet, to a veterinarian for proper care and attention that's what you should do. Quit wasting time on the Internet asking strangers who many not have a clue about dog health what to do with your suffering dog.

Really, is this such a hard message to get? Why do people spend ages on-line looking for free help from people they do not even know when a real veterinarian is only a phone call away?

I don't care if its midnight, Christmas day, or the fourth of July, if your pet is deathly ill, suffering, or in pain, it needs veterinarian attention, and your vet is the best one to turn to. Veterinarians may not be in the office all the time, but are on-call and will provide service when needed, it's one of the things that suck most about the job I am sure... but they will do it.

Sometimes people like to throw it out that they cannot take their beloved dog to the vet because they have no money. Hmm, they can spend $3.00 a day on coffee from Starbucks but cannot manage to save money for emergency vet care? If you're that broke, why did you even get a dog? The worst is when a person gets a new pup, the pup has black smelly diarrhea, and they say they cannot afford a vet, I just want to yell at them if they just got a pup, and are already too broke to save its life, what where they thinking getting a puppy?

I wrote an article some time ago about certain common pet health problems, I warned people that in most cases their pet needs to see a real veterinarian, I even added the statement at the bottom that I am not a veterinarian and that you should not trust strangers on the Internet to give pet advice, yet this article gets bombarded with people asking for free online advice for their pet with a real medical concern.

Please, if your dog is sick, in pain, has lost weight, is falling over, has not eaten, or is just not acting like it normally does, you need to see a veterinarian. And yes, veterinarians do cost money, deal with it.

Who Let the Cats Out

Speaking of people who let their cats outside and then cry when the cat gets squished by a car. I feel sorry for the cat, not the person.

Now.. before you get all pissed, I want to tell you that many years ago, I had a cat get run over. Missy was a beautiful Torbie cat, she rarely left the yard. One day my neighbors were moving out. They had a moving van in front of their home and were in and out all day with boxes. I heard a doorbell ring, it was my neighbor.

They did not see it happen, but on one trip out with boxes they found my cat laying dead in the road, the vehicle that hit her had driven away. She was still warm. Should I be mad at the driver? No. I was the fool that let her outside and I knew there was always a risk. The incident motivated me to build a cat enclosure so it would not happen again.

In short, if you let your cat out, and your cat gets killed, it's your fault, deal with it.

I even hear people blame their kids “Oh, my child let the cat out.”. So what? If your kid is old enough to open the door and go in and out by themselves they are old enough to be wary of letting the cat outside. Simple.  At the end of the day it matters not if your kid let the cat out, a dead cat, is a dead cat.

Cats don't have nine lives, they have one. If you put your cat outside, even only once, it is at risk. Traffic isn't the only danger. Neighbors that are tired of your cat pooping in their yard will try to find a way of getting rid of it, and some methods are not exactly legal. People poison cats, shoot them, or catch them and drive them to other parts of the city, or abandon them in the country. Legally though, in most areas, any cat off its owners property can be taken to the animals shelter in the area and turned in as a stray.

Nobody wants to come home to a smushed cat, dead on the road, but some of us will. This is owner error 100% of the time, even if the “kids let it out”. If you make the choice to let your cat go outside you have nobody to blame but yourself if it ends up dead.

Yes, many cats go outside and come home time after time, perfectly fine. But... what about the ones that don't.

©image owned by author, cat in cat enclosue

If you let your cat out, and something happens to it, I will have sympathy for your cat, total sympathy for the cat, but shame on you if you blame the driver who it it, or neighbor who stole it, its your fault, and only your fault, if your cat did not make it home. It sucks, but, well, deal with it.

Welcome to Life, Deal With It

Life is not fair, life is not perfect, you do not always get what you deserve.  Problems happen.  It sucks, deal with it. 

I started this blog because I constantly battle people who live in self pity land, beating themself  up for this or that.  Somethings they have control over, somethings they don't. I see people angry at others for things that are their own fault.  An example of this is the person who let's their kitten out of the house and then gets mad at the guy who ran it over. 

I don't like being a person who sugar coats stuff, oh ya, I have sympathy, but sometimes people need to hear it like it is, like the person whose dog was destroying their house, its owner error nearly every time!

If you like honesty, then you might like this blog, I shoot from the hip, and you might think I am way off, but oh well, that's just how I see it.  It's the real world, with one life, people need to hear real words and not just brown nose butt kissing crap.  I will mostly deal with the realities of pet ownership.

If you want your butt kissed, or ego stroked, get a dog but if you complain about the dog, I will let you have it!  Life is too short to waste sugar coating things and telling people "everything will be alright".  Suck it up buttercup, welcome to life, if it's not what you thought it would be, well, deal with it.