Monthly Archives: November 2012

You don’t like dogs? Is that legal?

More important than shoes!A few nights ago I reluctantly tuned into “Shark Tank,” as that was the most entertaining of my television options.  It’s a show where men and women present their business plans to a panel of potential investors.  The first presenter to appear was a woman that had created Puppy Cake birthday cakes for dogs.  “How cute!  I celebrate my dogs’ birthdays all the time!” was my reaction.  The investors did not find it as appealing, however.  I was taken aback at how these men unashamedly bashed the idea and did not understand the attraction…. one of them even asked “Why don’t you just feed your dog regular human cake?” Gasp!  Doesn’t everyone know the unique gastrointestinal system of a dog?  Doesn’t everyone want to spoil their dog and give them the best? Doesn’t everyone LOVE dogs??  Well, turns out, no.

I was lucky enough to grow up on a farm surrounded by animals and took to them with open arms, even before I was out of the womb.  Formulated from a mix of heredity and environment, I am a dog/cat/horse/parrot/ferret/bear/tiger/bunny/cow/guinea pig person through and through.  Not everyone is, and that is something my open mind and I need to remember.  We were all raised differently - we all have different affections, likes, dislikes, preferences, fears, wants and needs.  Dogs just might not fit into some people’s worlds and I can’t judge them for that.

In the meantime, I will invite people into my world with education. Even with my love of animals from conception, I continue to be educated by animal experts via various forms (one-on-one interaction, social media, newspaper and magazine articles, television).  With every new item I learn - such as the benefits of spaying/neutering, the devastation of puppy mills, the importance of rescuing, the value of high-quality pet food, the significance of positive reinforcement training – I try to spread the word.  Some of these topics are just misunderstood, or some people haven’t been taught the details of a subject such as rescuing vs. breeding.  Many times our gut reaction is to get angry with them – “how dare you not know!”  This will only make them get defensive, pull back or feel unintelligent.   Spreading the word with patience, composure and sincerity might open the ears of those otherwise closed off to the animal world.

We’re not going to win everyone over, and I will accept that.  Some people can’t fathom why I care for a dog in a wheelchair – “he’s just a dog.”  He may be just a dog to you, my friend, but to me he is my heart.  I will just hug him a little extra hard tonight and snap a few more pictures of his cuteness.  It’s okay that some people just don’t get that, and maybe will never comprehend that. Fortunately, plenty of people do, or are willing to learn. Like me. Like you.

As for the Puppy Cake Lady? She got immense support from the people that DO get it. After her Shark Tank failure, she has received many emails of support and has sold over 10,000 boxes. Yay!

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Pet food pantries matter why?

If you were faced with putting food in your kid’s mouth or food in your cat’s bowl, what would you do? You’d choose your kid, of course. If you had just enough money to feed your dog or put gas in the car, which would you choose? Most  would have to choose gas.

You shouldn’t have to make those kinds of choices.

The last few years have been rough on American households. Too often, the end result was a pet turned over to a shelter, abandoned on the street to fend for itself, or left trapped and alone with no food or water in a home no one returns to. Misguided people hope or assume someone will find and care for the animal they abandon. Sadly, it’s often too late.

In some communities, there’s a solution, a step between giving up essential needs and turning away a loved part of the family. Pet food pantries step in to provide a temporary hand – so a loved companion does not find itself in a shelter, hoping it’s the one chosen from the hundreds of dogs and cats in surrounding kennels. Or worse, find itself alone on unfamiliar streets, wondering why its people are not there, thinking there’s been some sort of mistake, fear growing stronger by the hour (which doesn’t bode well once they’re picked up by animal control and tested for adoptability).

The cost of keeping a dog or cat in a shelter, waiting for its next ‘forever’ home, averages $12.50 per day. That includes animal control retrieving the pet, intake and vetting expenses, cost to run the facility, dollars spent on food, litter and medicine if the animal was injured before it was picked up, salaries of staff, resources to train and manage volunteers to keep the animals safe and healthy while in their care, and advertising to promote the animal as being adopted.

Except… they already had a forever home. They were already loved.  Their people just found themselves facing tough choices.

This is a tremendous waste – of emotion for the people and the pet, for the community who often picks up the tab for the important work done by shelters, and for the resources of the shelter which are already stretched too thin.

The “good” news is there’s a simple answer: for $5-50 a month, a pet food pantry can give a family the supplies it needs to keep their beloved family member until things get better. That’s one less dog or cat in a shelter (or worse, abandoned completely). That means the young stray in the shelter has a little more time to find its perfect family. That means there’s less chance a loved animal will die because there’s just not enough time, money or space to find the right home for every animal. That means there’s less strain on fiscal resources – even if the pantry provides a year’s worth of food, that’s probably less than the $375 it would cost to keep that animal in a shelter for one month.

In the last few years pet pantries have popped up across the country (Petco lists nearly 700). Most are independent of the shelters in their communities. Wouldn’t it be great if the pantries and shelters could work together? (Some do, but more should.) And wouldn’t it be great if shelters established pet pantries as a way to help their communities slow the tide of animals flowing to their care?

Again some do, but more should. Why don’t they all? It’s easy: resources. A pet pantry requires people to organize and run it, food and supplies to distribute, fundraising to have funds to buy the food and supplies (few grants are available for pet pantries – yet). When you’re struggling to keep up with your existing obligations to the animals already in your care, it’s tough to tackle a new program.

But it’s worth it. It’s important. It will be hard to get started, sure, but there will be a payoff. Someday the people getting pantry support will be back on their feet, and maybe they’ll decide to volunteer for the organization, or donate, or adopt a new family member. Or maybe they’ll be doing just well enough to care for their pets without help, and that’s enough. Because that’s still one less animal in a shelter, waiting for its forever home (again), or a forever home that never comes.

BOGO Bowl was created specifically to help pet pantries and shelters deal with these tough situations. That’s why we’re here. We believe all dogs, regardless of whether they’re in a great home with solid resources, or a great home with rocky resources, or a great shelter with not enough resources, all deserve high-quality food and a chance for a happy life.

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