Category: On animals


An early review of Jacki Skole’s DOGLAND…

By Midge Raymond,

A review of Jacki Skole’s DOGLAND: A Journey to the Heart of America’s Dog Problem

by Kimberly Spanjol, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LMHC, Humane Education Learning Programs (H.E.L.P.)

It’s time to wake up, America.

Americans love dogs. I woke up watching Good Morning America on May 20, 2015. At the time I was about halfway into reading Jacki Skole’s seminal book, Dogland.

9781618220387-Perfect-F2-V2

The story that played out on my television screen was of two Colombian National Police Officers who performed a daring rescue of a dog who was caught in rapid waters. The dog was moving fast and bobbing and disappearing under the waves. The two brave officers, clearly risking their own lives, finally intercepted the struggling pooch and pulled him to safety. They performed CPR on the riverbank as the camera caught the dog’s limp and nearly lifeless body as it revived. The newscasters were celebrating and rightfully commended the police officers on a dangerous rescue well done. I was also incredibly grateful to witness the compassion and kindness displayed by these officers.

It left me wondering why we Americans who love dogs so much, who are so happy when we see feel-good stories like these and who spend billions of dollars yearly on our pets, continue to allow the mass euthanization of thousands of healthy, adoptable pets every day in our nation’s shelters.

Read Dogland to understand why. We will never adopt our way out of the killing. Companion animal overpopulation is a multi-faceted problem that requires multi-faceted solutions. Most of all, it requires that we all become educated and do our part to eliminate the senseless suffering and death of countless sentient beings. Suffering that extends to both animals and people. As Dogland rightfully points out, non-human animals can’t thrive if people aren’t thriving, too.

The first way out of the problem in our nation’s shelters is to know the plight of homeless pets. Thank you to Jacki Skole for taking the steps to understand this complex issue and for writing this important book to inform the rest of us. The question is what we, as a nation of animal lovers, will now do with this information. My hope is that Dogland compels us all to truly work together to stop this senseless problem. Animal protection is one of the most pressing social justice issues of our time. Once you are aware of the daily suffering animals endure, you can’t not know. Not looking at animal suffering doesn’t make it go away. Education and compassionate, informed action is what makes it go away. We all need to do our part. We all need to wake up, America.

Ms. Skole’s dog Galen was the inspiration for Dogland. I hope that, just as Galen wakes up the author’s daughters every day with licks and love, Galen will also wake up our nation through this seminal work.

 

Kimberly Spanjol, Ph.D., BCBA, LMHC, is a forensic psychologist, doctoral level Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D), and New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) with more than 20 years of experience working with children. She is also a founder of Youth Animal Protectors (YAP) in New York City, an organization that teaches children and teens empathy, compassion, problem solving, and related social emotional skills through learning about animal protection issues. YAP Club empowers young people by raising awareness and developing a greater understanding of others’ perspectives – both animal and human – in exploring how choices impact local and global communities.

To learn more about DOGLAND, coming in August, click here

Join the National Museum of Animals and Society in June for a gala event

By John Yunker,

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 1.55.18 PM

This is an event we wish we could attend — a fundraising gala for The National Museum of Animals and Society.

The event will be honoring Moby and actress Tracey Bregman, two vocal animal rights activists.

The museum is in the process of moving into a larger location, which is scheduled to open in the fall.

If you’re in the LA area, check it out!

  Category: On animals, Vegan
  Comments: Comments Off on Join the National Museum of Animals and Society in June for a gala event

Among Animals 2: We’re a third of the way there…

By John Yunker,

I want to first thank everyone who has submitted so far to our second edition of the Among Animals anthology.

We’re continually impressed by the quality of the stories we’ve received. It’s especially gratifying to hear from those writers who “get” what it is we’re trying to achieve with this collection.

That said, we’re still looking for more writers who share our vision.

You can submit your short story (there’s no reading fee) here. Note that we will accept previously published stories just so long as you you hold the rights.

And if you have any questions, please contact us. We look forward to reading your stories!

A Q&A with Strays author Jennifer Caloyeras

By Midge Raymond,

A Q&A with Strays author Jennifer Caloyeras

Q: How did you come up with the idea for this book?

A: I had been working as the dog columnist for the Los Feliz Ledger for about seven years. Over the course of my research, I wrote a column about K-9 connection, a program that pairs at-risk teens with shelter dogs. I absolutely loved this program and thought the premise would make a great young adult novel. I also had my own experience with a very challenging rescue pit bull. He was my inspiration for writing the character of Roman.

strays cover

Q: Tell us more about the dog who inspired Roman.

A: Roman was inspired by our own rescue pit bull, Willie. We didn’t know Willie was a pit bull when we adopted him—he was only eight weeks old, and we were told he was a “shepherd mix.” His strong personality began to come out in the following weeks. He went through almost a year of intensive training with over five Los Angeles-based trainers (including the famous Dog Whisperer.) Unlike with Roman, we weren’t able to redirect Willie’s behavior and, in a heartbreaking decision, we made a plan to relinquish the dog to Brandon Fouche, an amazing dog behavioralist in Los Angeles who rehabilitates homeless people’s dogs. Imagine my surprise a few years later when I was conducting research for my column when I came across a front page photo of Willie and an accompanying article describing how he is instrumental in helping to rehabilitate these dogs. He had a bigger calling in life, and I’m so glad he found it.

Q: Why did you choose Santa Cruz as the backdrop to this story?

A: I went to college at UC Santa Cruz, and I was so struck its dramatic cliffs, beaches, redwood forests, and gorgeous trees. There’s an inherently laid-back feel about this city that I thought would make a nice juxtaposition to all of the tension happening in Iris’s life. There’s a pervasive feeling of people striving for social justice in Santa Cruz, which supports Iris’s metamorphosis from self-centered teen to animal-rights activist.

Q: Tell us about Angela Carter and your choice to include her in the story. 

A: I first learned about British writer Angela Carter when I was in graduate school at Cal State Los Angeles, working towards my MA in literature. I struck by the ways in which she completely re-interpolated familiar fairy tales, rejecting gender stereotypes and adding a feminist edge to these stories that had been controlled by men for hundreds of years. The Bloody Chamber was published in 1979 and was just so ahead of its time.

Q: Did you have kind, supportive teachers like Iris’s teacher Perry in high school? 

A: Yes! I was very lucky to attend a progressive high school in Santa Monica. We called our teachers by their first names, and we always sat in a circle instead of in prescribed rows. The teachers there were amazing listeners, whether they were hearing our ideas about a particular concept or listening to us vent about our daily lives. I felt particularly connected with my English, theater, and music teachers, and the character of Perry is an amalgam of all of these wonderful people.

jennifer caloyeras

Click here to learn more about Strays and to get your own copy. And visit Jennifer’s website for the latest news and events.

Animal rescue groups focusing on all animals

By Midge Raymond,

I loved this article in the Chicago Tribune, “Animal welfare groups may be losing their appetite for meat,” which is about rescue organizations that realize serving meat at events goes against their mission: protecting animals.

Many organizations already get it; some are still learning. Organizations that rescue farm animals, of course, don’t put pork on the menu — yet those that help pets like dogs and cats often don’t make the connection when it comes to the food at their fundraisers.

St. Hubert’s in New Jersey walks the walk, and the organization went meatless after its new CEO, Heather J. Cammisa, joined the organization. As she told the Tribune: ”Our mission involves the humane treatment of animals, building an environment where people respect all living creatures,” Cammisa says. “And this aligns with that.”

The article notes that a California survey found that 85 percent of those involved with shelters believe it’s ethically inconsistent for an organization that rescues animals to sell or serve animal products. Yet only 29 percent of organizations have adopted a vegetarian or vegan policy.

Most people simply don’t realize what animals suffer in order to get to their plates, and once they do, the change to a cruelty-free environment is welcome. As Cammisa told the Tribune, “Over 90 percent of animals raised for food are raised in factory farms. When that information is shared people don’t want to be part of that.”

For any organization to be a true advocate for animals, it must be meatless. And making this change may not turn supporters into vegans overnight, but it will help make the connection and show that all animals deserve protection.

  Category: On animals, Vegan
  Comments: Comments Off on Animal rescue groups focusing on all animals