To Do: PAWS Mutt Strut at The Navy Yard



Dogs are many things: cuddly, smart, cute, an adorable form of heat during the colder months … the list goes on and on. And, it turns out, they are also good for our health.

Studies show that when a person pets a dog, their body releases oxytocin, also known as “the cuddle hormone.” Seriously, I didn’t make that up. Oxytocin helps to reduce blood pressure and decreases cortisol levels. Some doctors even suggest that having a dog as a pet is a more effective anti-depressant than Prozac.

So, where can you get a fix of this totally natural happy-drug? The PAWS Mutt Strut, of course! Read more »

“Kevin Bacon” (Pig Edition) Still on the Run in Jersey

The Courier-Post reports on the pig who ran away from owner Shane Murray:

“Kevin Bacon” has been on the run since Sept. 2, after Murray, a senior at Kingsway Regional High School, and a group of friends traveled to Woods­town to purchase the pig for $50. He said it only took 15 minutes for the frightened pig to go AWOL after the group of students brought it back to Murray’s Swedesboro home.

“It jumped the fence and hasn’t been caught since. He has been seen other places, but we can’t get our hands on him,” Murray said Tuesday.

Multiple sightings of the pig have been posted on Facebook. The animal has shown up in backyards, and strangers have taken to feeding it.

And now the pig is a folk hero.


They Don’t Like Dog Poop in Passyunk

Fox 29 reports on the anti-poop crusade in Passyunk:

The problem’s gotten so bad that founder and editor Albert Stumm has decided to out bad pet owners on his website when people send in pictures and video.

I’m glad they do that. I’m going to do that too,” says a resident.

I’ll take a picture with my cell and send it in,” says another.

Already, video has surfaced of an offender allowing his pup to leave someone a present in their planter at Front and Siegel.

“This is an issue that I’ve decided to take up and I’m more than willing to shame people to change their behavior,” says Albert Stumm.

Perusing the Passyunk Post, it appears the “Dog Shit Crusade” has been under way since April. The Post even takes credit for the arrival of dog-waste receptacles in Queen Village. Use them, or you’ll end up recorded on video and shared with the world like this guy.

DOGTV Is Television for Stay-at-Home Dogs — No Joke

All hail the canine couch potato.

Thanks to DOGTV, a satellite channel that launched Aug. 1 on Direct TV, a new breed will soon be recognized by the American Kennel Club — the Narcotized Tube Hound.

DOGTV caters to the tail-wagging crowd with 24-hour programming to soothe, stimulate and habituate sensitive pups when their owners are not home. At $4.99 a month, it’s cheaper than Prozac. Read more »

Does Tom Corbett Not Love Puppies?

Pennsylvania has among the most stringent laws governing dog breeding in the nation. Unfortunately, we don’t appear to be enforcing them.

According to a report released this week from the state’s Auditor General, the Corbett administration continues to drag its feet on implementation of the 2008 Dog Law, which placed new restrictions on breeding operations and was widely hailed as a game-changer by animal rights activists. Among other things, the heightened restrictions require commercial breeders (defined as operations with 60 dogs or more) to submit to random biannual inspections, provide their animals “unfettered access to exercise” and install an engineer-certified ventilation system in their facilities.

Besides structural and fiscal mismanagement (more than half of the $15 million allotted to the Department of Agriculture to implement and enforce the law was diverted to other uses), the audit found lax inspections, inadequate equipment and a policy of giving noncompliant breeders a pass rather than citing them — or better yet, shutting them down.

The law went into effect six months after Corbett took office, but its enforcement clearly wasn’t high on the new governor’s list of priorities. His first order of business was to sack the long-time head of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, Jessie Smith — a Rendell appointee and former president of the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area’s board of directors — and replace her with Lynn Diehl, a former bank manager and Republican party volunteer whose only experience with animal welfare is caring for her own dachshund. It wasn’t until 15 months into the governor’s tenure that he called the first meeting of the state’s Dog Law Advisory Board — a violation of the bureau’s mandate to maintain a “regular” meeting schedule — and when it did, most of the meeting was devoted to Diehl defending the widely reported failures of her office to enforce the new law.  Records showed that out of the 35 breeders who failed to comply under the new law, all but four were still in operation; and the enforcement bureau was so understaffed and in such disarray that a number of kennels were operating without licenses due to a backlog of applications.

Diehl was driven out of office within months of that meeting and is now reportedly working as an administrator in the Corrections Department. (Who says patronage is dead?) But dogs and their owners are still paying for her lapse in leadership.

“As a result of lax enforcement, people could be exposed to dangerous dogs, consumers could be emotionally and financially affected by sick dogs from puppy mills, and the dogs themselves could be physically harmed by living in unhealthy conditions,” said State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, in a statement announcing the new report.

DePasquale’s report is the second in less than a year to reflect the Corbett administration’s blundering on implementing the Dog Law. Last September, a probe launched by the Dog Law Advisory Board made many of the same claims, and faulted the administration for denying proper resources for enforcement. Perhaps most disturbing, the report claimed that breeders convicted of animal cruelty were still having their licenses renewed.

In his response to the September report, Michael Pechart — who has been acting as Diehl’s replacement — defended the agency’s record and accused the report’s authors of being “on a witch hunt to rid Pennsylvania of all commercial kennels.” But the evidence is hardly in his favor.

The failure to adequately enforce the Dog Law threatens to undermine the progress Pennsylvania has made in reversing its reputation as a haven for unscrupulous breeders. For years prior to the passage of the 2008 law, the commonwealth was considered the “Puppy Mill Capital of the East” by animal advocates — with some 350 commercial kennels in operation, and regular reports of cruelty and neglect. With the passage of the 2008 law the official number has dropped considerably. How many of those breeders are now operating underground is hard to say; according to the Dog Law Advisory Board, the state failed to follow up on the nearly 200 commercial breeders who shut their doors since 2009. Unofficially, thousands of small breeders operate all over the state, including a number of them in Philadelphia.

While the government is a tempting target for outrage, when it comes down to it, it’s consumers who really foot the blame for the exploitative practices of dog breeders. As commercial endeavors, the health and welfare of the animals is not typically high on the list of breeder concerns. All the more reason it needs to be number one on yours and mine.

According to Main Line Animal Rescue, located in Chester Springs, Pa., five million dogs are bred in U.S. puppy mills every year, roughly the same number that are euthanized each year in shelters. (These statistics are hard to come by, but according to the Humane Society, nearly three million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are put down each year. The  New Jersey Department of Health’s Office of Animal Welfare says the number is much higher.)  The point is, while would-be animal lovers are patronizing puppy mills, millions of perfectly lovable canines — a full quarter of them purebreds — languish in the country’s shelters.

In 2012, Philadelphia’s Animal Care & Control Team took in 10,104 unwanted dogs; more than 3,500 of them were euthanized. In June alone, 815 dogs came through the shelter. Life is full of small sacrifices. Giving your love to a homeless dog who faces almost certain death instead of paying $1,000 to a commercial breeder who may or may not care properly for his animals should be an easy one to make.

But if you must get a dog from a breeder, insist on seeing their facilities first. Not all breeders are bad, and it’s usually pretty easy to spot the ones who are. Among the requirements of the new Dog Law, breeders must offer increased cage size, eliminate wire flooring except in limited circumstances, give dogs unhindered access to exercise, and provide treatment by trained veterinarians. Be sure there is proper food, water and ventilation in kennel areas, and (this is important) ask to see the breeding female — since she is not for sale, this is the dog most likely to be living in reprehensible conditions. If you see violations, call the state’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement (just don’t expect too much). And if the breeder refuses you the tour, take your business elsewhere.  It’s simple: If the state agency in charge of stopping puppy mills isn’t going to do its job, it’s up to dog lovers to do it for them.

Haverford Comes to Shush the Rooster

Delco News Network:

HAVERFORD — Commissioners recently approved an amendment to an animal control ordinance that includes a prohibition on keeping roosters anywhere in the township.

Commissioner Jane Hall, who previously expressed concerns about a neighbor’s noisy rooster, called for banning the boisterous birds.

“I’d like to move to strike roosters from the list of permitted animals and put them on the prohibited list,” Hall said. “Roosters are in the township, and it’s upsetting to the neighbors … It’s a noise and privacy issue, people not being able to sleep.”

The new rule probably won’t please suburban chicken owners—how are they going to make new chickens without roosters?—but on the other hand, have you heard a rooster? They really are loud.

Welcome to Collingswood: Dogs Are Mandatory

Philadelphia didn’t make the list for best city to own a dog. Philly doesn’t have as many dog parks, or as many funny people as Portland, who won.

I’m sure however, that if Collingswood was a city and not a borough, we would have made the list. In Collingswood, same-sex and bi-racial couples are non-issues. We have every color, ethnicity, and economic level. But owning a dog seems almost mandatory for residency.

When friends from New York, Philly, or even Cherry Hill come to visit, they remark on 1) how many people are out walking; and 2) how many people are walking their dogs. Cass Duffey, director of Community Development, thinks canine residents are as much a part of the community as the humans. “In fact, at almost every event I photograph, I get four legged friends as part of the action,” she said.

I owned my beloved Blaze, part collie, part Chow, for the past 14 years, all spent in Collingswood. My boyfriend and his boxer, Xena, moved in with us six years ago and the dogs got along as well as we do. Xena died suddenly of a heart attack last November. In early March, we had to make the agonizing decision to put Blaze down, after, at age 18, he lost use of his hind legs, and most of his hearing and sight.

We were logical. We were strong. We cried until we couldn’t cry anymore. We felt we needed a psychic break and we would wait to get a dog until fall when trips were over and we were on more of a schedule. But, we live in Collingswood.

I found myself quite literally almost driving the car into telephone poles when a dog I admired caught my eye. The problem is, I live in Collingswood; there are a lot of dogs, and I was drawn to them all.

We know that Americans, in general, are obsessed with their pets. We spent $41 billion on pets; $310 million on Halloween costumes alone. Books abound on all dog-related topics and subtopics, including our obsession, and hundreds and hundreds of coffee table photo album books, my favorite being Underwater Dogs(which is exactly what you think it is: photos of dogs underwater). Of course books on every aspect of training are available, and all have what seem to me absurdly long titles, like:  Train Your Dog Positively: Understand Your Dog and Solve Common Behavior Problems Including Separation Anxiety. There’s as much conflicting advice in methodologies as there is for parents.

Dating sites for dog lovers make a lot of sense (more sense than the MANY dating sites for people who think they are vampires—yeah, there’s more than one).  The spokeperson for one such site  is a winner of a season of Survivor, wearing a cami and holding a big photo of her dog’s head, rendering her, at first glance, naked. Both dogs and sex sell.

I think you are much better off knowing if your prospective partner is a cat person, a dog person, or a why-would-anyone-have a pet person.

The passion with which people will defend their love or hate knows no bounds. I hate cats, though I own one for its function: We don’t get mice. I love dogs, but do think people sometimes overstep boundaries on where they take their dogs. Collingswood’s Farmers Market is a lovely way to start your weekend, and take your dog, especially when it’s walking weather, but folks should know if their dog is a yapper, growler, and for the most part, Colls residents seem to know when and where to bring their pooches.

The Farmers Market is so dog friendly that they’ve had a dog treat bakery for several years now, and a special guest vendor, “Hand and Paw Massage” will be showing up at least three times this season.

We couldn’t make it to fall. We didn’t even make it through the beginning of summer. This past weekend we went to visit a friend of a friend whose dog had had puppies: we came home with two: Fritzi Lopez and Bob. I’m still not quite sure what happened, but I plan on taking them to the Farmers Market on Saturday, so I can feel like a real Collingswood resident again.



The Bucks Co. Bear and 4 Other Local Wild Animals of Note

Hide your honey, your porridge and (in reality) your bird feeders and your garbage cans. There’s a bear on the loose!

Over the past week, a black bear has been spotted in Lower Bucks County. The LBC, as I like to call it, is more urbanized than your usual bear habitat, meaning everyone is freaking out. The bear was spotted at a Bensalem soccer field, on a Bristol Township lawn, and even in Hulmeville, a town you’ve probably never even heard of. Things haven’t been this exciting in the LBC since the Neshaminy Mall was built. Read more »

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