Friday, September 28, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Hard Way to Earn a Living

When we were in Moab we saw this trio and their owner.
The owner let us take their picture for a couple of bucks. He said it had taken him a year and a half to train them.

I can't imagine that every tourist who sees them gives him money, but I guess enough of them must that he thinks it's worth his while to bring them out every day.

I thought Rob had gotten a photo of them from the front, but he says not.

I wonder what the animals think about it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Best Friends

While we were in Utah, Rob and I took a tour of the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, located near Kanab, Utah.
Entrance to the Visitor Center
It's a huge operation. The tour guide told us that they are the largest no-kill animal shelter in the U.S. They own 3700 acres, lease another 31,000 adjacent acres from the BLM on which in a state that loves to hunt, they prohibit hunting.

They have 500 employees, including 5 full-time vets and (I think she said) about 20 vet-techs, who treat, not only their own animals, but sometimes those from the community.

They believe that the key to eliminating the problem of feral and abandoned animals is an effective spay/neuter program. They charge a flat fee of $20 to spay/neuter the local animals. They neuter any feral cat that is brought to them free of charge, and then release it to go about its business.  The tour guide said that Kanab no longer has a problem with feral cats.

The location is gorgeous.
Here's where some of the horses get to hang out.

We visited Dog Town.

Our visit seemed to be carefully choreographed to show us the most appealing of their needy dogs, while conveying the message that every dog, even those who in most circumstances would have been deemed unadoptable and put down, can with the proper care be placed in loving homes. We met Thumbelina, nicknamed Thumbs by her caregiver.
She had been found dragging herself along in the street, her back broken too close to the spine to risk an operation. Since she still has feeling in her hind legs, she receives regular hydrotherapy and other physical therapy in the hope that she will be able to regain some use of them. She doesn't have wheels. They want to give her muscles as much exercise as possible. She goes on short walks with a companion dog. At first she didn't need to be leashed, but now she has enough confidence in her ability to get around that she has to be restrained from darting off the path in pursuit of bugs and small animals. Although she must have her urine manually expressed, and probably will never walk normally, Best Friends feels confident that Thumbs will find a home very soon.

The tour guide told us that Best Friends has taken in 22 of the most challenging of Michael Vick's pit bulls, and have had great success with them. They have placed about 10 of them in permanent homes, and 7 others have progressed to the point that interaction with them is no longer restriceted to the trained staff. They can be allowed to interact with adult volunteers, although not yet with children.

They encourage both children and adults to volunteer with them. Children as young as six can volunteer to help care for rabbits; ten-year-olds can help with the gentler dogs. They also seem to have a lot of interns. We ate in their cafeteria with a whole table full of young people from all over the country, all wearing badges. They had to leave to get back to work before we had a chance to ask them about their experience. I'd have hurried to leave, too. The food was terrible.
Over 1000 wind chimes memorialize local pets at Angels' Rest pet cemetery.