One of the most destructive wildfires in California history, the Carr Fire in Shasta and Trinity counties has left in its wake not only a path of fiery destruction, but also stories of communities fighting to protect themselves and their pets. Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation has rescued over 150 homeless dogs and cats endangered by the firestorm. Both MAD Dog Rescue and The Milo Foundation have also gathered supplies to help affected families and their pets.
“Basically right now, we need food, cleaning supplies, paper towels, Clorox wipes, bleach, food bowls, water bowls,” said Carol Hopewell of MAD Dog Rescue.
Other animal organizations, like Haven Humane Shelter, have opened their doors to the hundreds of animals displaced by the wildfires. ARF has also taken in at least 90 cats and dogs from the Carr Fire, according to ABC7 News.
“These are all animals that were available for adoption and did not have a home to go to, and we’e hoping to find them homes here in the Bay Area,” Elena Bicker, executive director of ARF, told the TV station.
PAWS-1-1, which reunited owners with their pets after the Sonoma and Napa County wildfires, also contributed its services to the cause. Roxanne Goodfellow said the group used a Facebook page to create a centralized location for pet owners and rescuers to connect.
“The local community has to become involved in the process and they can. It’s not hard,” said Goodfellow. “They just need to know that we’re here. And we have field teams that will be coming in to help.”
Besides rescuing dogs, cats, and other ordinary household pets from the Redding-area fire, caring residents have used many of their resources to save other kinds of animals. SFGate reported an ex-marine used his tractor to save horses and other livestock.
The Carr Fire erupted in a blaze of fury late July and burned more than 200,000 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Wildfire Protection. Sparked by the mechanical failure of a vehicle, it has swallowed over 1,079 houses and 22 commercial structures and taken three firefighters’ lives. The fire was knocking on the door of Redding but was 90 percent contained at press time.
Predatory ‘Pet Leases’
Pet stores in Connecticut have come under criticism for their “pet leasing” schemes, CBS News reported recently. Pet owners who had believed they were taking out a loan to buy their adorable companion were instead saddled with expensive pet leases. What begins as a loan to make small monthly payments ballooned into leases that can take several years to pay off.
“Just like someone who goes to a car dealership, people get distracted thinking about the monthly payment and might no longer negotiate that sticker price,” Jennie Lintz of the ASPCA said to CBS News. “Once they start adding in the fees, all of a sudden, the dog that you could’ve bought for $1,500 is $5,000.”
The practice, described by Lintz as “a business that’s built on deception and cruelty,” was banned in California and Nevada last year. New York is set to become the third state to outlaw the practice.
Steer Clear of Petting Your Dog’s Head
Canine experts claim dogs interpret getting patted on their head more as a threatening gesture than a loving one. Sarah Bartlett of The Hound Helpers Ltd, a dog walking business, told The Mirror the gesture invades their personal bubble, and instead insists approaching the pup from the side. Any unfamiliar dogs likely will prefer a stroke on their chest, tummy, or neck over head pats, she said.
Bartlett, a qualified international training instructor, said, “Dogs don’t like you going over their head. It’s quite a threatening gesture for them, as is going straight forward into them.”
While the rule does not hold true with your own intimate companion, it is a trustworthy guideline to avoid getting your hand bitten by a dog you have only just met.
Oakland Goes to the Dogs
Nonprofit organization The Trust for Public Land says Oakland has the sixth most dog parks per residents among U.S. cities. According to its data, Oakland has 16 dog parks, which means 3.8 dog parks per 100,000 residents. San Francisco has the next most dog parks per resident with 32 dog parks, which breaks down to 3.7 dog parks per 100,000 residents.
The Trust for Public Land also says dog parks are the among the fastest growing parts of U.S. cities’ parks. The group found 774 dog parks throughout the United States. U.S. cities have created 40 percent more dog parks since 2009, with a 4.9 percent increase since last year.
Small Dog Body, Big Dog Mentality
A study published by the Journal of Zoology found small dogs engage in dishonest scent marking to seem bigger than they are. Small dogs raise their hind legs higher while peeing, which puts the urine deposit higher on the tree or fire hydrant. This action conveys to other dogs that the small dog is bigger than it actually is.
“Small adult male dogs may place urine marks higher, relative to their own body size, than larger adult male dogs to exaggerate their competitive ability,” the study explained.
Because the olfactory sense is dogs’ prime means of communications, small dogs put high importance on the placement of their urine. Dogs can learn much about one another through the scent of their urine, from size and age to gender and health.
Every Dog Has Its Day in the Shade
The San Antonio City Council now requires pet owners to provide shade to their pets at all times, following a unanimous vote for this revision in the city’s code. According to a press release, violators of this newly revised policy will face a penalty of up to $2,000. Adequate shade includes trees, shrubbery, or other foliage, as well as patios, canopies, awnings, or pop-up umbrellas.
The ordinance followed stories in San Antonio of pets having severe burns on their paws as a result of not having access to shade. The stories are a reminder for Bay Area pet owners not to walk your dog on hot pavement in the hot months.
Do the Ends Justify the Means?
An Ohio man was cited after he smashed a car window to rescue two dogs. Richard Hill said he thought the two dogs were trapped in a hot car in a Walmart parking lot without the owner. Hill was cited for criminal damaging.
“I just wanted to help the dogs. That’s it,” Hill said to ABC News.
While Hill thought the dogs had been in the car for over half an hour, Sgt. Dan Ciryak of the Parma Police Department told People that according to Walmart surveillance footage, “the dogs were in the car about six minutes before he smashed out the window.”
While Ohio passed Good Samaritan laws in 2016 that protect those rescuing pets or minors from cars, Hill was cited because the police did not believe this was a life-threatening or emergency incident.
Reading Program Helps Students, Kittens
A reading program in El Paso, Texas, pairs children with kittens to lower one another’s stress level. Kitty Reading also improves children’s confidence in reading and social situations. Amber Myrda told KFox14 she placed her son in the program to work on his reading skills.
“He’s three points away from being on the autism system. He feels nervous and judged whenever he’s reading. He’s not in an environment where he feels judged. He can read; it helps him work on his fluency,” Mydra told the TV station.
Because the program also soothes cats that are in the stressful shelter environment, it also makes them more adoptable.
“Having them working with our cats here really helps them be happier and stress free in the shelter environment,” Michele Anderson of Animal Services said.
Britain Bans Dog Meat Consumption
The World Dog Alliance has called on English politicians to ban the import and consumption of dog meat, which is not illegal in Britain, according to The Sun.
“There is no need in the modern world for this disgusting habit. We should nip it in the bud now to make sure the practice never takes off here. A civilized country is decent to animals, so let’s be fully decent here,” Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan told The Sun
A ban on the import, trade, and consumption of dog meat has also been proposed in the United States after similar concerns about an increase here.