Our guest blogger today is Ame Jo Hughes, the very same Ame Jo Hughes, Intuitive Artist, whom you know as a sponsor on Talk2theAnimalsRadio. Recently, a starving, almost dead dog came knocking on Ame’s door. Ame, her husband, 4 kids, 7 other dogs and countless other animals opened their hearts and their home to this girl, named Maisy.
Not only did the 2 legged and 4 legged Hughes pitch in to help Maisy survive, they have created a page on GoFundMe entitled “Maisy’s Hospital Fund“, allowing others who are so inclined to help Maisy. You can track Maisy’s progress and make donations there.
Many of us who know Ame personally have contributed our services or products to thank people who have made contributions:
- Fred Krazeise will donate a free distance Reiki session to anyone, anywhere in the world who donates $50 or more to Maisy’s medical fund
- Talk2theAnimals is donating up to 50 free MiniSessions to anyone, anywhere in the world who donates $55 or more to Maisy’s medical fund
- Artist Sue O’Kieffe is offering a gift of a commissioned mandala for the next person in the US who donates $60 or more to Maisy’s medical fund
- Ame is offering a free 18″ x 24″ intuitive art session to 3 people who donate $65 or more to Maisy’s medical fund
- Tracie Nichols of Alchemy for the Earth will give a free 1-hour Soul Truthing session to the next person who donates $75 or more to Maisy’s medical fund
- Tracie Nichols of Alchemy for the Earth will give a free 1-hour Partnering with the Earth session to the next person who donates $80 or more to Maisy’s medical fund
- Lori Regan is offering a gift of a new deck of Leslie Zuber’s Dog Pack Oracle cards to the next person who donates $200 or more to Maisy’s medical fund
Meanwhile, Ame is using this experience with Maisy to speak to ALL animal guardians and caretakers so their animals don’t end up in the condition Maisy was in. Following is a letter she wrote to the editor of her local paper. This is a subject about which she is passionate, and very, very frustrated.
I would like to clarify the term “dog lover,” and spread some much needed awareness to the readers of this paper. This is something that has been niggling at my brain for quite some time – several years. In fact, it’s been bothering me ever since my family moved from town, two blocks from Williams High School, out to the country, near the Caswell County border. It was something I noticed even when we lived in town, but moving out here to the middle of nowhere (and make no mistake, we love it out here) has brought the issue to the forefront of our awareness, over and over again.
The issue at hand? People who consider themselves dog lovers, with no clue of what it actually means to love a dog. Loving dogs is more than enjoying petting one. It’s much, much more than that. At its very basic definition, it’s personal sacrifice for the well-being of the dog.
It’s making sure the dog is fed a decent diet, in adequate quantities. Not too little, not too much – and if you don’t know how much to feed your dog, it’s really not that difficult to find that information. No one is so busy that they can’t spare 30 seconds to look at the bag of dog food to see the feeding recommendations for their dog’s weight and age. If that’s too complicated, a call to pretty much any vet will get you the same information, as will a quick Google search.
It’s making sure the dog is secure – not running loose. Dogs who are allowed to roam free have a significantly lower life expectancy than properly secured dogs – it’s dangerous. Cars, other animals, poison, wild animal traps…there are so many risks. Letting your dog run loose because “they need to run,” and “they like it,” is both narrow-minded and naïve. It isn’t being “nice” to your dog to let him or her run free – and in many places, it’s illegal – it’s a recipe for disaster. If you don’t have a fence, you have no business letting your dog roam. It’s bad for your dog, and at best it’s annoying to your neighbors, even if you live in the country where “neighbor” is a relative term – maybe especially out here, because no one seems to worry or care where their dogs are or what they’re doing. While I’m on this particular point, why even bother having a dog if they’re going to be kept outside and basically ignored?
It’s making sure that your dog is spayed or neutered. There are numerous low-cost options available in this area. Given the absurdly high number of dogs killed in Alamance County alone every year (in 2012, 72.53%* of all dogs and cats in the Burlington Animal Shelter were killed), not nearly enough people are taking advantage of those options. Is it lack of awareness? Is it pride? What? I ask because I really don’t understand why some people refuse to have their dogs spayed or neutered. Male dogs who aren’t neutered and allowed to roam free wander in search of a female in heat. A female dog in heat likewise attracts males and will wander if one doesn’t come to her. Many people are unaware of the fact that a female dog in heat will mate with as many male dogs as she can, and that one litter of pups can have one mother, but several different fathers. Those pups are able to sire or carry pups of their own by the time they’re around 6 months old. You can figure out for yourself just how rapidly this snowballs into a whole lot of unwanted dogs. In some counties in NC, it is illegal to allow a female dog in heat to run free. They must be either chained or kept inside. This is one of the many animal control laws that are underfunded and under-enforced, which is in no way the fault of the animal control officers – they’re doing the best they can with the resources they’ve got, but that’s fodder for another letter.
It’s making sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations, flea and tick preventatives, and heartworm prevention. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes, so all dogs should be properly medicated to prevent them. They live in dogs’ hearts and are deadly. The treatment for heartworms is not a simple de-wormer, it’s a series of very expensive shots and there is risk of death from the treatment itself. Given that the prevention is so very simple, this should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it’s apparently not. Fleas and ticks are also easy to prevent. There’s a wide variety of products specifically made for this purpose, and there are natural remedies as well. Dogs with fleas will chew areas that they can’t scratch, which leads to ingesting fleas. This is how dogs contract tapeworms. Some dogs have sensitive skin, just like some people, and develop rashes and infections from the fleas. Everyone in NC knows that ticks are an issue here, and up here in northern Alamance County, they’re a huge problem. It’s extremely important to practice tick control, and to promptly remove attached ticks from your dogs. The menu of serious tick-borne illnesses to which dogs are susceptible is long and frightening. Vet bills for a serious illness can quickly become astronomical, and it makes much more sense to actively prevent tick bites in a responsible manner.
It’s making sure your dog has adequate exercise. Keeping him or her on a chain is cruel, period. Take your dog for a walk. You both need the exercise.
It’s realizing that when you take in a dog, that is a LIFE you are now holding in your hands. It’s a family member. It’s not something to be dumped at the shelter because your new boyfriend is allergic, or because no one “has time to take care of the dog,” or because your new apartment building doesn’t accept pets. That last one makes my blood boil – if you have a dog, and you have to move, then you find a place to live that DOES accept pets. Between 1996 and 2007, I moved roughly every 2 years and had at least one dog for every move, two dogs for most of them. For every excuse and justification you come up with for dumping your dog at the shelter, try shifting your perspective – instead of “my boyfriend’s allergic to my dog,” change the word “dog” to “child.” See how ridiculous this is? Dogs are family members, pure and simple. If you wouldn’t dump your kid at a shelter, then you shouldn’t dump your dog at one, either. If there are circumstances involving no alternative but to re-home your dog (and there are very few of such circumstances, no matter how you try to justify your situation in order to ease your own guilt), then you owe it to your dog – the one who has no control over anything that happens to him or her while in your care – to make sure they go to a good home. Dogs who are surrendered to the animal shelter by their owners are frequently taken straight to the gas chamber, because there is just no space for them. Dogs who are given away through ads in the paper or Craigslist as “Free to a good home” are often taken by animal brokers who then sell the animals to research labs for testing purposes.
The plight of dogs in NC is critical. There are many wonderful shelters and rescues here, but they’re all at capacity and scraping to get by with the meager funds they have. My husband and I may have soft hearts, but we’re unable to turn away a starving dog – and we’re fine with that. As a result, we have several dogs who showed up at our house, on death’s door. The most recent one is a beautiful blonde girl we named Maisy, who was sniffing for food at our back door on Wednesday, August 14th. My husband immediately called off work so we could take her to the vet, because she was the unhealthiest-looking dog we’d ever seen. After five years of living out here in the country, we’ve seen some sad cases, so that’s saying something. Our wonderful vet, Dr. Jordan of the Animal Hospital of Mebane, was amazed that she was even conscious, let alone wandering around searching for food. I didn’t bother calling any rescues for help, because I know from past experience that it won’t happen. It can’t, because their hands are tied – their resources tend to go to the dogs who will otherwise be killed at the shelters, and rightly so. I started a fundraiser online instead, and thanks to many big-hearted people, raised enough money to take care of Maisy.
Until society at large begins to fully understand what it means to be a responsible dog owner, these issues will never be resolved. This is sad for those of us who do want to do the right thing, and it’s expensive, but the real victims are the dogs, and they didn’t ask for any of this.
So next time you tell someone you love dogs, take a moment to reflect on just how true that statement is. This may sound harsh, but I’ve seen too many dying dogs wandering around in the past five years to sugarcoat it. My family sacrifices a lot of material comforts and activities in order to be able to afford to feed our pack and ourselves. I don’t know that we’ll be able to help the next desperate dog that wanders into our yard (we’re out of room and money), and that breaks my heart. It shouldn’t be this way. All of the circumstances that lead to wandering strays are preventable, if people would just wake up and think about the consequences of their actions where their dogs are concerned.
To bring even more awareness to everyone reading this, I ask that you now re-read this letter, but substitute the word “cat” wherever it says “dog.” Cats’ situations are no better than dogs’.
I can’t put it any better than Abraham Lincoln who is quoted as having said, “I care not much for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.”
PS: To read Maisy’s story and see the response her fundraiser has generated, visit: http://www.gofundme.com/3y4szg
- See more at: http://www.amejohughes.com/this-post-has-nothing-to-do-with-art/#sthash.XsSpkA3x.dpuf