Mila

Mila is a pretty spoiled, pampered pup now, but she didn’t have an easy start in life. At six months old, she found herself in a high-kill rural animal shelter in KY. Being in a shelter is hard for any dog, but it can especially be a death sentence for pitty-type breeds, which have been maligned in the press for years despite scoring as well or better in temperament tests as other breeds.

Some kind people, enamored by the little pit’s pretty face and sweet personality, shared her picture on facebook in the hopes of saving her. Having done a little animal rescue work, I came across her post. I scrolled on, but I couldn’t get her picture out of my mind. I shared her post to try to find a rescue that could take her. Her time grew shorter. One day she was moved to the top of the “list.” I drove two and a half hours each way after work that day to get her. I was determined to find a rescue for her. Having two dogs and getting ready to leave for vacation, I knew I couldn’t keep her. A kind lady agreed to foster her short-term while we continued to try to find a rescue for her.

While I was on vacation with my family, she stayed at the vet getting checked out, vaccinated and spayed. When we returned from vacation, my husband picked her up from the vet while I was running errands and preparing to take her to meet her foster the next day. I called home to see if everything had gone ok with her pick up. “Yes,” my husband said, “but she’s not going anywhere.”

That was almost two years ago. Today Mila is a much-loved member of the family and a great ambassador for her breed. The first photo above was her in the shelter. Others are her at home.

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Kiss My Tax!

Not only did the Kentucky General Assembly not pass any animal welfare bills this session, they also passed a tax bill which includes a provision to tax small animal veterinary, boarding and grooming services, thereby penalizing responsible pet owners. Their actions and lack thereof will leave Kentucky with the dubious distinction of the worst state for animal laws for the 12th year in a row, as deigned by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Despite good animal bills on pets in hot cars (SB 8), animal sexual abuse (SB 239), preventing early release of domestic/animal abusers (HB 447) and service animals (HB 442) being filed by Sen. Danny Carroll, Sen. Paul Hornback, Rep. Walker Thomas and Rep. Sannie Overly respectively, none of the bills passed. All but one, SB 8, never even got a hearing in committee. SB 8 passed the Senate. However, when it was sent to the House, it was inexplicably re-assigned from the Judiciary Committee to the Tourism & Outdoor Recreation Committee, chaired by Tommy Turner, a known Kentucky Houndsman. The Kentucky Houndsmen Association and Kentucky Farm Bureau are two organizations that oppose animal bills each session.  SB 239 was assigned to the sponsor’s Agriculture Committee, but he failed to call it for a vote.

To add insult to injury, the Republican-controlled House and Senate then passed a tax bill which, in addition to cutting taxes for the top 5%, will tax services, including lawn care, linen cleaning, auto repairs and yes, small animal veterinary, boarding and grooming services. Note that large animal veterinary services are not included in the tax plan. Presumably the legislature did not want to draw the ire of farmers, including wealthy horse farm owners. These arbitrary taxes will harm animals and will harm low and middle class Kentuckians. Constituents can call the Governor at 502-564-2611 to ask him to line-item veto the pet taxes.

There is a bright side: The tax bill, along with a very unpopular pension bill that may harm teachers, has angered many Kentuckians. Kentucky voters need to review the voting record on these bills and vote for change in the May primaries and November general elections.

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Black Panther

I saw Black Panther with my son, niece, nephew, cousin, & friend last night. Three of them are black or Hispanic. The movie was good, with a solid plot and beautiful scenery, for a superhero movie.

I couldn’t help but notice that no one in the movie looked like me, and I’m ok with that. Unless you’re black, Asian or a white man, no one in the movie looks like you either. I could of course still identify with the characters, and I got a taste of what it’s been like for minorities to see movies with basically all-while casts.

Although action movies like Blade and Zorro have featured women, black, Latino & other leads, this is groundbreaking. Wonder Woman and Black Panther are the first Marvel movies that feature leads that aren’t white guys. They have also both been immensely successful.

I give the movie two thumbs up. Judging by the way all the kids were practicing their movie fighting moves afterward, they liked it too!

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legislative roundup 18

With Ky remaining the worst state for animal laws and the deadline for bill filing approaching in the legislature, here are some bills for Kentuckians to watch and ask legislators to support at 1-800-372-7181:

SB 8- This bill would exempt Good Samaritans who broke a dog or cat from a hot car from liability after taking certain measures. This bill passed easily in the Senate but has stalled in house committee.

HB 442- This one is a reparative bill which would correct the exclusion of service animals for people with disabilities from the felony service animal assault law. It would include all legitimate service animals in the law’s protections.

HB 447- This bill would prevent early release of those convicted of animal torture if that torture was used in intimidating someone in a domestic violence situation.

It is hoped that an animal sexual assault bill is still forthcoming. Updates will be posted. Thanks!

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#notmetoo

So, my dad’s sick in the hospital, & my son’s failing classes in school.  I suppose it’s distraction, but what can I not get out of my head?  With the recent #metoo campaign, it seems the majority of my female acquaintances have faced some form of sexual assault or harassment. I feel the utmost sympathy for them.  However, I can’t help but wonder if there’s something wrong with me because I haven’t.

Unless you count the occasional honk from a trucker or passing motorist or the one-time groping in a bar years ago, I can’t think of a single time I’ve been harassed in any way.  Perhaps I’m just lucky.  Or maybe I am less attractive than average.  I don’t know.  Granted, I work in a female-dominated helping field, and my supervisors for the last twenty plus years have either been female or gay, so maybe that’s some explanation.

What I think also bothers me about this is the fact that, although I’m fairly progressive on most issues, I feel society is currently swinging the pendulum a little too far toward everyone feeling the need to be victimized or offended.  Rape and assault victims, as well as those who have faced harassment in the workplace, deserve great respect and support, and their attackers deserve punishment.  However, I was informed by some women that my being catcalled or touched did amount to harassment, and I was just too stupid to realize it.  Having lived independently to the grand age of forty-four, I think I’m capable of deciding whether or not I’ve been victimized.  Have I ever felt that what I was saying might be taken more seriously or given more weight if I were a man?  Yes.  Does that mean I want special treatment that would actually give me less power?  Hell no.

Women do make up the majority of victims of sexual assault and harassment, but we don’t have a corner on the market.  Since the Weinstein story broke, many young gay men have also come forward with similar stories about other movie and play producers.

Likewise, the current campus climate can be taken so far as to unfairly penalize men.  According to some colleges, if a girl and guy have a few drinks and have sex, it could be considered rape because the woman could not give consent.  I don’t know about anyone else, but if I, at 110 pounds, can have a drink and safely drive home with a BAC under the legal limit, I can certainly decide whether I want to have sex with someone or not.  I rarely agree with Betsy DeVos, who wants to leave special education to the states and arm schools to protect children against bears, but I think she makes some good points in this case.  Back in the day, if you slept with a guy and he didn’t call, you were screwed over and he was a dick, not a rapist.

Furthermore, I’ve often felt more judged by women than men.  I’ve had a neighbor woman comment to a relative about my choice of dress, or lack thereof,  as I was mowing my own yard.  A woman also commented that my boss in a previous job must enjoy the short skirt I had on.  Again, those comments were made by other women.

Maybe if everyone treated everyone else as human or living beings, there would be less need for sanctions or hashtag movements in the first place.  Until that happens, I guess I’ll just keep wondering if I should feel offended or lucky…

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Double Down on Double Dogs

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UPDATE: Double Dogs and the Lexington Health Dept have reached an agreement, & Dogs will soon be welcome in an outdoor area. Thanks to all who signed the petition! https://www.change.org/p/fayette-county-health-department-lexington-fayette-co-health-dept-allow-dogs-on-double-dogs-restaurant-s-patio/nftexp/ex5/control/5168559?recruiter=5168559&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page&utm_term=share_for_starters_page&utm_content=ex5%3Acontrol

The Lexington Fayette County Health Department in Ky ruled that Double Dogs Restaurant could not allow dogs on its patio.  The chain already has locations in Louisville and Bowling Green.  The health department claimed in a series of statements and tweets that their decision was due to state and/or federal law.

However, restaurants in the state and the city have allowed pet owners to bring their dogs onto their patios for years. In fact, Lexington had previously been named as one of the most dog-friendly cities in the country. There is a petition circulating to get the health department to reverse their decision.

https://www.change.org/p/fayette-county-health-department-lexington-fayette-co-health-dept-allow-dogs-on-double-dogs-restaurant-s-patio/nftexp/ex5/control/5168559?recruiter=5168559&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page&utm_term=share_for_starters_page&utm_content=ex5%3Acontrol

This decision is the latest in a series of seemingly cold-hearted, wrong-minded ones by this health department,which has also sought to limit unauthorized feeding of the homeless and limit services for undocumented workers.

Mayor Jim Gray has sought to portray Lexington as a forward-thinking, progressive city in a mostly conservative, backward state.  Unfortunately, the health department is not making his job any easier.

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My animal evolution (& Ky’s lack thereof)

Let me preface this work by saying that I am not vegan. I grew up on a farm. I do not fish or hunt, but I’m not diametrically opposed to those who do, if they do so legally. Those statements are as likely to piss off some people as they are to reassure others, but they are the truth. That said, years of volunteering with the local humane society as well as other organizations have shown me that we here in Ky have a lot of work to do in the realm of animal welfare.

My sisters and I grew up on a small family farm in Ky surrounded by animals of all varieties. Of course we had dogs and cats. We also had horses, cattle, chickens and, for awhile during an ill-advised period in my dad’s farming operation, pigs.

Levi the german shepherd is the first dog I can remember. When I was 4 or 5, a car ran over him while he was following Dad’s tractor to the field. He survived, but he was paralyzed in his back legs. He managed to get around amazingly well and lived seemingly contently for another couple years though. Husky and Brownie were black and blond labs we had through most of our childhood. They were outside dogs and were typical Labs. We wallowed them and rode them. The most violent behavior ever displayed by either was to knock my baby sister Katy down with their wagging tails when she was a baby.

A parade of cats lived in our barn over the years. A beautiful three-legged Persian female stayed around the longest, but there were calicos and tabbies too. I don’t remember any of them being fixed or vetted for the most part. Spaying and neutering was not as prevalent then, at least around here. Several litters of kittens were born in that barn’s hay loft.

After Levi, we didn’t have any inside pets except goldfish and parakeets for years. Mom worked full-time as a social worker. I guess between raising three kids and working, cleaning up after an extra mammal was her limit. When Katy was a tween, she begged and begged for a dog. The result was Cocoa, a cute but not overly intelligent miniature poodle. Katy babied and slept with him for awhile but eventually, as kids sometimes do, grew tired of him. He and Mom continued their dysfunctional relationship well into my 20s until his merciful death.

I was between 6 and 8 when I got Toby, a Shetland pony mix. He was already old when I got him. Dad bought him off someone in another county. He was foundered, but he was said to be gentle with kids. I had been taking riding lessons for a year or so, and Mom and Dad thought he would be a good first horse. I spent hours brushing him, cleaning his hooves and riding him around our yard. We even entered him in the county fair leadline event one year. We stood out like sore thumbs, me leading him and my sister Mandy on his back. He was short and dumpy compared to the quarter and walking horses in the ring, but I thought he was the most beautiful creature there. One time my friend Stacey and I were riding him barrel-style around the trees in the yard. The saddle started slipping until she fell sideways onto the ground. Toby stopped in his tracks to keep from trampling her. I came home from a slumber party on a winter Saturday morning when I was 15 to find Dad throwing up outside the house. Toby had been having more and more trouble getting around and was blind in one eye. Dad had just gotten home from taking him to the back field, shooting and burying him.

We showed cattle in 4-H in high school. My first show calf was Eppie, a black Chianina-Angus cross heifer. Eppie was not a big cow, as most Chis are. She was generally good-natured, but she could have an attitude, as evidenced by her headbutting Mom off her feet into a bush. She stayed with the herd for years after her show career ended.

Note: A modern misdemeanor cruelty to animals law went into effect in Ky in 1974. Prior to that, most animal laws centered on the issuance of dog rabies and licensing tags and dogs running at large.

Leo was my first big girl dog. I got him from a backyard breeder (the one and only time) when I was young and dumber in my early 20s. I had just recently seen a chow and thought it was the cutest thing ever. I knew nothing about their temperament, there was no google and I had not bothered to do any research at the library before getting him. He was to be a Christmas/birthday gift for my boyfriend at the time. Leo failed puppy kindergarten by refusing to obey even the most basic commands. He had a mind of his own. He hated rain but loved snow. He refused to enter dog houses or baby pools or my first apartment. He barked at leaves and strangers, especially men. Despite being fixed, he humped my leg before going through doorways. However, he loved other dogs and took to every stray I brought home.

Broadway got his name because Bob, my ex, and I found him running across Broadway in downtown Lexington dragging a chain. We ended up taking him home, where he was welcomed by Leo and spent the rest of his life. He was one of the smartest dogs I have known. Once he escaped his tie-out while I was at work and walked over to my grandmother’s house for a visit. He developed epilepsy later and life and had to take daily medication, but it did not slow him down much.

Shortly after getting Leo, a neighbor Cynthia spoke as we were on a daily walk. I found out she was involved with PAWS, a humane society in the process of getting a local animal shelter built. The shelter at that time was a pound, where dogs went into an outside pen together with little food and a lot of disease. Dogs rarely left the pound alive. I had never been able to bring myself to actually go there. I went to a PAWS meeting in the bank basement and heard about what the group was doing, including building plans, fundraising, and grant writing. The new shelter opened in October 1997. It had several dog runs, a cat room, a puppy room, a surgery room, a garage and reception area. An outside play area would come later. I volunteered for a few years with PAWS and eventually became a board member. We did Petsmart adoption days, helped clean cages and walk dogs, did bingo, golf tournament and silent auction fundraisers. I left the board in 2003 when I adopted my son. Today the PAWS animal shelter is ranked among the top in the state.

Note: Animal shelter standards did not exist under Ky law until 2007. KRS 258.119 lay out some simple standards. However, there is no agency designated to provide oversight of these standards.

Around the fall of 2011 my son Bersain decided we had been without a dog for long enough. We looked at PAWS, and one of the workers directed us to a cute little Jack Russell mix Warner, who was jumping up and down at the gate of his run. I needed an active dog for my active little boy, she said. I should have known they would be double trouble.

Then in December 2015, after the Homeward Bound rescue hoarding case yielded over 170 dogs in need, we fostered Splash, who could have been Warner’s brother. We figured our four-legged family was complete at that point.

Last summer problems came to light at the Albany Ky animal shelter. Volunteers went public with evidence of animals not being fed or watered, dead cats being found and animals being unnecessarily and improperly euthanized. The shelter was also ranked third last in the state by a vet study. I saw a social media post for a little brindle pit about to be put down there, and something in me had to save her. I drove the five-hour round trip to pick her up one night after work. She was to go on to a foster and rescue. However, my husband fell in love with her. So, Mila is our third (and last?) dog.

Note: A felony animal cruelty law known as Romeo’s Law was finally enacted in Ky in 2008. The only major pro-animal law to pass in the state since was the felony dogfighting possession bill last year. There is still no shelter reform, bestiality law, or felony cockfighting law in the state.

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SJR 18 passes

Now that Republican senators have caved and voted along party lines to pass SJR 18, which will allow the killing of bear and wolf cubs in dens in Alaska, they should probably fear the day they may meet this man.

Please call, email or tweet the president and demand he veto this disgusting bill!

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Ky General Assembly helps law enforcement animals, but hurts assistance animals serving people with disabilities


K9, search & rescue and narcotics and bomb-detection dogs will soon have a little more protection thanks to a new law passed by the legislature.

Currently if a service animal, including a K9 or disability assistance animal, is killed or unable to return to service as a result of an assault, the perpetrator can be charged with a felony crime. The new law will provide that a felony can be charged even if a K9 animal can return to work.

Unfortunately, due to a committee substitute added to the bill HB 93 in the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Joe Fischer, disability assistance animals will no longer be covered under the felony law at all.

While glad that law enforcement animals will have greater protection, I am saddened that other service animals who protect, comfort and assist individuals with disabilities will actually have less protection as a result of the law.

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Kentucky legislature setting the stage for the slaughter of horses with SB 139

Not sure if this is a relatively benign tax-related bill or something more sinister that could open the door back up to horse slaughter, but stay tuned!

Tuesday's Horse

FRANKFORT, KY — Kentucky is marketed as the Horse Capital of the World, the State with “unbridled spirit”, as seen in its logo.

Tragically, this unbridled spirit does not extend to the safety, well-being and benevolent treatment of the horses it so proudly hails as an integral part of its history, economy and culture.

Kentucky is renowned for its lack of animal protection laws and that extends to its horses. According to some, Kentucky ranks in the bottom five in animal welfare but most recently there have been claims it is at the very bottom.

Here are two examples involving racehorses. There are many more.

1. There is nothing on the books that governs how many times a racehorse can be whipped or for how long before it becomes cruelty or abuse, a Churchill Downs veterinarian smirked several years ago.

2. When PeTA exposed horrific acts of cruelty exposed in…

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