Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ending on a lighter note for the day!

There was a couple in yesterday who were looking for kittens - the littlest kittens you could get. Obviously we don't get many of them here, let alone this time of year, but I was very excited because I was able to talk them into the little ones we do have - like Merlin who's about 7 months now. So, they see Merlin, love Merlin and I think -hey, why not?- and offer to show them Shy, Merline's sister, even though she's still caged in her new room since she's overwhelmed with all the other cats.

I take the couple in to this other room, I take Shy out, she looks around and absolutely FREAKS out!!! I end up almost losing her, grabbing her and getting her back into the cage with her rear end scruffed in one hand and her scruff in the other ... reassuring the couple that of course I wouldn't let them get hurt and she's just still very shy (duh!!! me). Now, the entertaining part on top of all this is I'm doing/saying this as my pinky finger is bleeding on both sides from scratch marks and, prepare yourselves: my shirt is hanging TORN open! Oh yea, from the bottom of my black bra down to the hem above my tattoo are now in view of this couple and everyone in the lobby since the big window is right there ... oh, and bleeding as well from where her back claws got me on the hip.

Sponsors of our one special needs kitty, Hootz, are here as well and we've talked extensively the last time they were in (I was actually off and barefoot walking around talking to them the first time - ah the joys of living at work). So, not only has the couple witnessed this, but everyone in the lobby who can see me through the giant floor to ceiling window into the room - including this sponsor. Oh man! All I could do was point at my torn shirt, make a face and roll my eyes at them since they were watching.

Thankfully the couple had to go then because I needed to start PM rounds, but I had to take them into the lobby and talk to them a bit more. So, I'm walking around with my torn scrubs, talking, until they left. Geez ... And let me tell you, that was just PART of one hell of a crazy day. Only me!

they FIND me! - continued

So, I have come to find that the cat in the storm drain has not only been seen before but is most likely a cat that was ABANDONED at the gates! One morning a while ago, the morning crew pulled up to the gates (closed at night) and saw a cardboard carrier that had a note on it - "I am Luigi" ... but no Luigi. He had somehow gotten out of the carrier and run off after he had been abandoned!!! Poor baby. We still haven't caught him yet, or whoever that little storm drain kitty may be. Our trap isn't too reliable and I know days pass without us thinking to set the trap and nights I flash my flashlight around to make sure we unset it and that there isn't some poor kitty in the trap in the cold and dark. A day doesn't go by I don't think of that cat though.

The other day, when Danielle and I were headed to our emergency vet to pick up one of the sanctuary kitties ready to come home, we got a call from a co-worker still here that someone had abandoned two kitties in our lobby. They took the time to catch their cats, put them in a carrier, zip it up, drive here, WALK IN and then the assholes creeps wrote out a note in our lobby and just walked out without speaking to anyone! The little one was desperate for love, the bigger guy was just petrified - calm, quiet, but completely confused & scared.

I guess I shouldn't be all that surprised with some of the things (definitely not "people" cause I still like to think them as kind with SOME common sense) I share my genetic make up with just abandoning kitties like they're nothing when we so commonly do that with human babies these days, but it's still a real disappointment every time I come across it. They're your responsibilities, your babies ... a life you are LUCKY to be a part of and they need you. Take their lives into consideration, please!

Does this written poem relate to cats who run petrified without their people & territory? No. But countless dogs are abandoned too. In the last handful of months, I had one volunteer and one friend pick up puppies just abandoned for no reason ... sweet babies that were just sitting or pacing on the side of the road for hours before these kind people picked them up ... I guess the saddest thing to me, are NOT the ones that find me, but the countless ones I don't find, the ones I can't help.

A dog sits waiting in the cold autumn sun,
Too faithful to leave, too frightened to run.

He's been here for days now, with nothing to do,
But sit by the road, waiting for you.

He can't understand why you left him that day.
He thought you and he were stopping to play.

He's sure you'll be back, and that's why he stays.
How long will he suffer? How many more days?

His legs have grown weak, his throat's parched and dry,
He's sick now from hunger and falls, with a sigh.

He lays down his head and closes his eyes,
I wish you could see how a waiting dog dies.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I swear, they FIND me!

Lots and lots and LOTS of posts today ... I can't help it. It's been awhile and I found some good things to post as well. :)

Today, a co-worker and I headed out to take the trash to our back dumpster. Usually I leave it for Karina (my coworker) since she likes to take a smoke break then, but the trash was piling up all over - as you can imagine it would when cleaning up after about 100 cats a day!!! So, anyway, Karina and I headed out, tossed the trash in the dumpster and I went to our storage shed to take some litter bags in to fill up our litter containers inside. Karina was still smoking, so we were chatting when after a minute or two of that, I hear a very loud, very pathetic MEOW.

Yes, I questioned my sanity ... why think it odd to hear cats when THEY'RE ALL OVER? But we were outside, away from the solariums (our fenced in/walled up outside lounges for our sanctuary cats) and the meow sounded so close.

I paused, looked at Karina, looked over to the solariums and said, "I don't think that came from over there ... I think that came from over by the dumpster." Now, whether I heard the next "meow" first or stepped forward and then the cat cried again, I found the source - a little, long-haired black cat IN the storm drain.

Karina went running inside to get help while I got down on the ground and stuck my arm into the storm drain to see how the cat was - skinny, lots of stuff stuck in his/her hair and VERY affectionate. He/she was jumping up at my hand, head-butting it for love, etc. I was able to scruff the cat and pull her/him out of the storm drain. Danielle, another coworker, came out then with a carrier. She asked if we should try to carrier. In hindsight, I should have just carried the damn cat inside, but we went for the carrier to protect my arms in case she freaked and, generally, just as common thought on how to move a cat.

Bad thought! I got the cat almost all the way in, she/he FREAKED out, scrambled out of my grasp - which was amazing for a freaking out cat, I still had the cat's back end in a scruffed grab as it was back in the storm drain. It darted into the tunnel and that was the last we saw of the cat.

Don't think the adventure stopped there, we tried to think of anything we could use to pick up the storm drain grate ... even joking that Ginny should tie a rope to the back of her SUV and the top of the grate and pull it off (obviously that wouldn't work since it needs to be pried UP before it could be dragged off). In the end, I was cold (no jacket the whole time since I was expecting to just take out the trash and not some ridiculous cat wrangling adventure), the cat was definitely gone and a trap was set ... no luck yet and I'm so angry I didn't just take the cat inside in my arms. At least if she/he got away then it would have been in the building for us to get instead of lost in some underground maze of storm drain tunnels.

Apparently this is a cat that's been seen before ... down the road more than around us, but the storm drains are apparently crazy, long, connected tunnels underground. We had a trap set all day and I'm hoping he/she comes back because they were very affectionate.

About Dogs ...

About Dogs

A dog can be introspective or outgoing.

A dog can look out a window longer than we can.

A dog does not worry about things he cannot control.

A dog does not speak.

A dog does not sweat.

A dog has better breath than we have.

A dog keeps up his appearance.

A dog does not lie or steal.

A dog studies bugs.

A dog gives us a look we interpret as love,
though we might not look back.

A dog dies in agony every 12 seconds in a city pound.

—Gardner McKay

Open Letter from Tammy Grimes, December 17, 2007


On September 11, 2006, I rescued a dog that was dying at the end of a chain in a muddy yard in a small Pennsylvania town. I was subsequently arrested. A little over a year later, on December 15, 2007, I was convicted of theft and receiving stolen property.

The last year has been the most traumatic and the most inspirational of my life. I have been labeled a "terrorist" a "vigilante", a "publicity hound" and an "anarchist." I have been called a hero. I have been humbled by encouragement and well wishes from people all over the world. I have been attacked in person and in print in my small town, where the prevailing view is that it is fine and dandy to tie a dog to a tree or a dog house and leave it to pace back and forth for year after agonizing year, in skull-cracking cold or 100-degree weather, with nothing but parasites for company.

I don't regret what I did. Not for one second. And when it comes to rescuing dogs and changing minds and laws, I'm just getting started. Here's why.

The dog at the center of all this, a dog we would eventually name Doogie, had been lying in the mud and rain for three days, chained to the dog house he had been attached to for years. He was unable to stand and was pawing the air in desperation. His owners chose to go four-wheeling and to work on Monday instead of getting him the vet help he needed and deserved, but most importantly was entitled to by law. A distraught neighbor had called animal control repeatedly over the course of the three days. But as so often happens, no "humane" officer called back. No one ever showed up. (Surprised? Trust me, it happens all the time, and not just in my town.) The frantic neighbor eventually reached out to me and to Dogs Deserve Better.

What I did next set in motion a chain of events that would eventually garner national attention, the wrath of some, the support of others, and an agonizing trial during which I had to listen to lies and mischaracterization
s for three days: I removed that dog's chain and I took him to the veterinarian. It was all very clear to me as I lifted the emaciated, wet dog into my van. I had been in animal rescue long enough to know that I would probably be labeled the villain while the dog's caretakers wouldn't even be questioned for leaving a suffering dog on the ground for three days, not to mention all the years they tied him to a shabby box in the yard; letting his toenails to grow so long they were curling back toward his pads, denying him vet care when he most needed it.

But I also knew that what I was doing was morally correct. It was the compassionate thing to do. It was the only thing I could do. Time was of the essence. A dog was suffering. I felt he was dying.

In court, it became increasingly clear that our 'humane officer' left me "holding the bag," in this case little more than a bag of bones. He had been offered the dog by me as part of what should have been a cruelty case against the caretakers 2 times on September 11th, but ignored me both times. On the witness stand the officer, in an attempt to cover his own hide, stated he told me and the vet assistants not to remove Doogie from the vets. This is absolutely untrue, and if he had done so I would not have been put in the position of choosing between Doogie's skin and my own.

So, now I'm guilty. Ah yes, guilty of caring about a dog that had been left to die. Guilty of putting myself and my reputation on the line because I can't stand to see suffering. Yes, call me guilty.

At Dogs Deserve Better, we see dogs in horrific situations every day. Sometimes these sad animals are neurotic or aggressive from years at the end of a chain. Sometimes, they are half-starved or have collars embedded in their necks. Sometimes they are dead. So, why go out on a limb for one old dog? Why take a moral stand in this one instance? Why challenge a law, when Dogs Deserve Better has stuck to the letter of the law in almost 1,000 rescues to date?

The answer is simple: because it was the right thing to do. Because our laws regarding personal property and animal welfare are contradictory and archaic. Because Michael Vick can't kill his dogs, but the Arnolds can. Because, at the end of the day, I knew I simply couldn't live with myself if I walked away from that dog and left him to suffer there in the mud.

Doogie blossomed after we got him medical care and showed him a warm bed and a little love. He not only walked again, but actually ambled around with a spring in his step. Imagine. A dog that for many years could not take more than a few steps before being yanked back by a chain, was trotting around a yard and enjoying soft hands and a warm home!

I have no illusions about my life's work. I know some people will never get it. I know some people think "it is just a dog." I know some people consider me the representation of all that is evil because I have compassion for animals and because in one isolated incident, where the clock was ticking and life was ebbing, I took someone's "property" -- property that the owners had for all intents and purposes abandoned on the ground like a used-up piece of junk. But I don't care what my detractors think because I now know that I have more support, more friends, more allies, than I ever dreamed possible.

The support I have received during the last year has made me stronger in my convictions and more steadfast in my work. I know that the vast majority of reasonable, educated, compassionate people believe that it is barbaric beyond imagining to chain a dog for its life. I know that anti-tethering laws will continue to be passed in states, cities and counties across this country. ("No-brainers" a recent news article called these laws.) And I'm going to work harder than ever to make sure that happens.

Five years ago, when I started Dogs Deserve Better, people laughed in my face when I talked about laws against chaining. Today, three states have passed laws that severely limit the practice, as have hundreds of cities and counties, some banning chaining altogether. I know that I will see the day when our society sees tying a dog to a doghouse for 15 years as abhorrent as eating a dog.

Oh yes, make no mistake: times change and morality and compassion eventually triumph over ignorance and stupid, blind habit. Slavery ended. Women got the right to vote. Wife beating is no long accepted. You don't see a lot of kids working in mines or sweat shops anymore. Even dog fighting was made a crime.

I can't help but think about Rosa Parks. We can be sure she never regretted refusing to budge from that Montgomery bus seat. And though I may never be as brave as she was, I'll never regret taking a half-dead dog from someone's yard.

In memory of Doogie. May he rest in peace.-Tammy Grimes, December 17, 2007

To read the press release and view just-released photos, visit the Doogie page.

PLEASE Join Dogs Deserve Better today! We have a chance to change the future. With your help, we can let the world know animal abuse MUST be taken seriously. Don't sit back and let it happen. If we DON'T stand up, this practice WILL NOT END. Please get involved today.

Tammy Grimes
Founder, Dogs Deserve Better

Dogs Deserve Better
P.O. Box 23
Tipton, PA 16684

Monday, December 10, 2007

day off

On my private journal. Feel free to email me if you want access.