Monday, October 3, 2016

Awww...Birthday Boys!

Four years ago today I was at work putting together a gut-wrenching dangerous dog case. My phone chirped seven times. My friend/breeder texted me every time a puppy was born. It was a bright spot in a very unpleasant day.

Two months later I brought home the puppy with the blue collar, forever after known as Jedi. My friend chose the big fluffy boy with the orange collar, later dubbed Dozer.

Left to right: Jedi, Dozer and Tundra
Yesterday, in between Odor Recognition Tests, we had a small birthday celebration complete with party hats and doggie cookies. The boys were joined by Tundra (Dozer's adopted brother and Jedi's Nosework classmate).

Dogs in hats always make me smile. How about you? It's Awww...Monday, where a group of bloggers come together to brighten the start of your work week. Click around below and see what others are sharing. Thank you Sandee for putting this together each week. Happy Monday! -- K

Sunday, October 2, 2016

We Are Blessed

Look, it's Pup Francis!

Yesterday Hubby and I took the dogs to a Family Pet Fair at a nearby park. Pet-centric businesses set up booths to sell goods and services. Trainers and veterinarians were on hand to answer questions. Local shelters and rescue groups had dogs available to for adoption. The dogs seemed to enjoy themselves. The event ended with a Blessing of the Pets ceremony.

I found it touching. My dogs mean a lot to me. Hubby thought the whole thing was silly (but took pictures for me anyway -- what a good husband). Whether you agree me or Hubby, I'm sharing a few pictures from the event for today's Silly Sunday post.

A great big thank you to Sandee over at Comedy Plus for putting this together every week. Click around below to see what others have to share today. Hope you're having a great Sunday, silly or not. -- Kelley
Roxy and Jed received a personal blessing from Father John

My sentiments exactly!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

ORTs, Take Two

Can't forget this!
Jedi and I are trying this again. Regular readers may remember that we didn't pass the NACSW Odor Recognition Test last January. We drove all the way to West Palm Beach for that one too. Well, it's being offered again. This time we're headed Gainesville. It's only 90 minutes away so we're going to make it a one day thing. Forgoing a hotel stay saves us a lot of money! But even for a day trip we end up taking a lot of stuff. I'm making my pack list now. It includes:
  • Jedi's NACSW Official Scorebook
  • Crate
  • Crate fan and extra batteries
  • Martingale collar (this is his nosework collar)
  • 6 foot leather leash
  • Easy-up canopy (it's hot!)
  • Chairs for me and Hubby
  • Ice chest
  • Sandwiches/snacks for people
  • Bait (chicken!)
  • Water for everybody
  • Water bowl
  • First aid kit (I always carry one when traveling with the dogs)
  • Poop bags
  • Camera
  • Cash
Well, I'd better start packing the car. We're meeting with friends at 5:30 in the morning and caravanning to Gainesville. I'm excited. And nervous. Wish us luck! -- K

P.S. We passed!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Dogs in Hot Cars (Again)

Some things shouldn't have to be said
Some of the most frustrating Animal Control calls for me are dogs locked hot cars. We live in Florida where it can be brutally hot from Easter to Halloween. I don’t understand why anyone would subject a dog to these Hell-like conditions. Apparently dogs in hot cars bother other people too, because I'm always getting questions about it. People want to know what do I do and what can they do as well.

Here's my procedure:

When I arrive on scene the first thing I do is run the tag. Dispatch can usually give me the name attached to the vehicle. I'll grab a passerby or two and have them run into nearby shops and restaurants calling for the owner.

I then start collecting evidence. I keep an infrared thermometer in my truck. I take three different readings, average them and then ask dispatch to record the temperature in CAD (the Computer Aided Dispatch system). I describe everything I see:
  • How many dogs?
  • What size? Color? Possible breed?
  • Is there water in the vehicle?
  • Does the dog appear distressed or listless?
  • Is it panting, drooling or foaming at the mouth?
  • Are the windows down and how far?
All this information is recorded by the dispatcher.

Infrared thermometers read temps
through closed windows
I take pictures of the vehicle from all four sides, making sure to include a license plate number and position of the windows. I want the pictures to reflect how much shade there is (or is not) on the vehicle. I take a picture of the dog.

If the owner hasn't arrived within 5 minutes, I take the temperature again and have it recorded. I note any changes in the appearance or behavior of the dog. I test door handles to see if they're unlocked. I call an officer and/or supervisor for assistance. (If I have to break into someone's vehicle and pull out a dog, I want backup.)

99% of the time we find the owner within 15 minutes. He gets a lecture and a big fat cruelty ticket.

Good to know information
If we can't find an owner after canvassing the neighborhood and/or the dog is in medical distress and/or the internal temperature is at a dangerous level then we will break into the vehicle and impound the dog. This is a process and takes time. Bystanders get frustrated with the wait. What they don't understand is that there are legal ramifications to breaking into a car.
Civics Lesson: The 4th Amendment prohibits Illegal Search and Seizure from the Government. As a government employee, I need to prove that there are exigent circumstances (i.e. dog will die if I don't act now) which allow me to violate a person's Constitutional rights. P.S. The City will get sued anyway.
Should a dog be removed from a car due to heat, it is immediately taken to a veterinarian for examination. The dog's body temperature is taken and everything possible is done (at the City's expense) to cool the dog down quickly and safely. Everything is documented for evidence.

After the ticket is written/the dog is impounded, I gather various documents that will be helpful should we go to court. I make sure to have any vet records. I get a copy of the CAD Report from the dispatcher showing all the transactions during the incident. I also go to Weather Underground and print out the weather report for that day and time. (I like this site because it shows the current temperature as well as the humidity, heat index and "feels like" temperature.) I print my pictures, copy the citation and write out a narrative while the incident is still fresh in my mind. I put everything in a folder and wait for the subpoena.

What you can do:

Good news for those of you living in Florida. As of March 14, 2016, private citizens can legally break into hot cars to remove dogs (and people) without being sued. However, HB 131 states that there are things you need to do first.
  • Make sure the vehicle is locked
  • Call 911 or law enforcement before entering the vehicle
  • Use no more force than necessary
  • Remain with the person or animal until first-responders arrive
Bad news: Even though you're allowed to break into people's cars, not everybody appreciates your efforts. Several months ago a mother and son saw a dog locked in a truck in Clay County. It was 93 degrees outside. The couple opened the truck door and pulled out the dog. The dog/truck owners promptly returned and beat the snot out of the Good Samaritans (full story here).

More importantly, you can educate people. Ignorance is a big part of the problem. Most people I deal with have no idea how hot the inside of the car gets until I show them the infrared thermometer reading. Positive, proactive things you can do to help include:
  • Educate yourself (more info on the subject here)
  • Buy your own infrared thermometer (less than $20 on Amazon)
  • Talk to your friends and neighbors
  • Include hot car dangers in your humane education lessons for children
  • Order and distribute materials from places like My Dog is Cool (or make your own)
  • Encourage businesses to post warning signs in store windows and parking lots
  • Submit articles to local newspapers and newsletters
  • Ask your vet to display hot car information in the waiting room
  • Share videos like the one below on social media

I hope you feel empowered and better informed. I know it's the end of September and many of you are thinking "Why is she sharing this now?" Well, it may be sweater weather for my northern friends, but we've got another month or two of HOT here in Florida. We're looking at 90 degrees all weekend. I know, ugh. TTFN, -- K

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Real vs. Fake Service Dogs

Photo courtesy of St. Francis

OK, time for another rant. There will be profanity and name calling. Sensitive people should leave now.

I'm on several GSD Facebook Groups. The other day someone talked about passing her dog off as a service dog so that she can take it into stores with her while running errands. The rest of the group blasted her -- and rightfully so. But Lying Lisa is not alone in her deception. It happens a lot more than you think.
  • I know people who take their GSDs into restaurants and just let people "assume" the dogs are services dogs. (It's wrong. It's a lie by omission. I've spoken up and refuse to dine with them.)
  • There are places on the internet where you can by vests and ID cards to "Turn your dog into a service dog for only $59.95!" (I'm not going to tell you where. And if you go looking for them, I wish a pox upon you.)
  • People think they can get out of an animal control ticket because "He's a service dog." Never mind that the dog can't provide any type of service while running on the beach 100 yards from the owner. Or that it's Mom's service dog, but Mom is a home right now. (True stories! BTW, those people got tickets AND civics lessons.)
I'm not going to mince words: People who pass off fake service dogs are selfish pieces of shit. And they make it harder for people who legitimately need a service animal. As an ACO I get training on Service Animals and the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) on a regular basis. I know that a person with a service dog can be asked two questions:
  • "Is this a service animal?" and
  • "What services does it provide?"
So when people say "I don't have to tell you!" I know that they are unfamiliar with the law and are probably lying. News flash: Service dogs are required to adhere to leash laws unless doing so hinders their ability to work.

Service animals DO NOT have to wear vests (though many do) nor are they required to have ID cards. So when people insist on showing me the dog's ID "as proof" I also suspect that they are lying. (They spent $59.95 for nothing!)

Unfortunately, the way the laws are currently written make it easy for someone to lie about a service animal. It's frustrating. Business owners are afraid to confront people because if they are wrong, they are "violating a person's civil rights." There are lawyers who specialize in this type of case. It's cheaper to err on the side of caution. I hear the frustration from the fed-up business owners and the general public. You may be surprised to know that the biggest complainers I meet are people with legitimate service dogs. Fakers hurt their reputations and weaken the acceptance of real service dogs. Let that sink in . . .

My personal opinion is that things will change eventually. I believe there will be some sort of official certification. (However, there will always be selfish POS dog owners who will try to skirt the system.) I have some good news for Florida residents: On July 1, 2015, registering fake service dogs became a crime. Law breakers can get a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. YEA!

I've also noticed that people assume that a "Service Dog," an "Emotional Support Dog" and a "Therapy Dog" are all the same thing. They're not. And rules are different for each of them. The people at Orvis developed the infographic below to help explain it better AND they gave me permission to share with you! Enjoy, learn, and -- most importantly -- don't be a selfish POS. -- K

Is That a Real Service Dog?

Is That a Real Service Dog? Developed by Orvis.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fenzi Failure

Several months ago I mentioned that I had signed up for a Fenzi Dog Sports Academy online class. I was very excited because the instructor, Sue Ailsby, has written many articles that I really enjoyed. Long story short: it was a bust for me.
  • The timing was bad for me. My partner at work quit just as the busy summer season was starting AND I was tying to plan a trip to California for the entire family.
  • The format wasn't good for me either. It was very fast paced and the $65 bronze level doesn't allow interaction with the instructor. (I can't afford the several hundred dollar class that does!)
  • I do much better with the feedback and accountability associated with a traditional class.

I love this book!
I have access to the lessons for the next year, so I can (in theory) work at my own pace. However, I get distracted and can easily become overwhelmed. I need someone (lovingly) riding my ass. *sigh*

I'm not giving up yet. I still want try Rally. Beginner Novice looks "doable" but we'll need help getting there. I had planned on taking Rally classes with Trainer once the nosework trials were over, but after last week's news (she's leaving!) I'll have to come up with a Plan B. I'm still trying to find a way to get my Dog Club's weekly training meetings reestablished -- that would help -- but I've shared how slowly that's moving. Any ideas?

Anyway, I've got enough to worry about for now. We have three nosework events in October. We're also looking at an IABCA conformation show in November. I'm excited. And a tiny bit terrified. I'll keep you posted. Later, -- K

Thursday, September 22, 2016

I Love My Trainer

It's Thursday, so that means nosework training. Jedi and I have been training at the same place since January. It's the highlight of my week. And with all the nosework trials next month we're really stepping it up. I'm excited and nervous at the same time.

We would have never gotten to this point without the encouragement and direction of our trainer. We started taking classes with her because the location was convenient. It's a five minute drive from my house and she had a daytime class. I've stayed with her for nine months because she's absolutely incredible. She has a knack for reading dogs. There are three German shepherds in our class and each one is different. Trainer will set up a scenario and say "I predict that Jedi will do this, Tundra will do that, and Ayko will do something completely different." Funny thing, she's usually right.

Trainer has the ability to tailor instruction to each dog so that he will succeed. It's amazing to watch. Some dogs pick up new things faster than others, and sometimes that makes owners me feel bad. Not Trainer, she actually enjoys coming at a problem from a different angle so that a dog will get the concept. I love my trainer!

So, you can imagine my surprise when Trainer told us today that she has to close the business. She's moving and taking a "real job." I can't begin to describe how depressed I am right now. I don't know if we'll ever find somebody able to fill her shoes. I just want to cry!

For now we're going to keep training. I want us to do well at the trials next month -- it would make her proud. But after the holidays we'll have to figure out something. I'd hate to lose momentum. And crazy as it may sound, I love getting together with friends and working our dogs. I don't want to lose it. Any ideas? -- K