MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life
Click photo to visit

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Gets New Meaning: Day to Rescue Black Dogs Black Cats

Make Black Friday about Rescuing Victims of Black Dog Syndrome & Black Cat Syndrome

From Care 2 Animal Welfare by Sharon Seltzer

Traditionally Black Friday is the highly anticipated shopping event held the day after Thanksgiving when retailers slash prices to kick off the holiday gift buying season. It is also a day of competing

with fellow shoppers over parking spaces, pushing your way through crowded department stores and standing in long lines to pay for prized merchandise.

However, there is another type of Black Friday shopping event that is sure to lower your blood pressure, improve your overall outlook and still offer those deep discounts. It is a Black Friday Pet Adoption and there is sure to be one in your area.

The concept came about by animal rescue groups that wanted to capitalize on a special day they could highlight hard to place black cats and dogs. The idea quickly caught on and now there are hundreds of Black Friday Adopt-a-thons held from one end of the country to another.

Cats and dogs with black coats have a lower adoption rate at shelters and are euthanized more often than other pets.

This phenomenon is so common in black dogs that it has earned the name of the Black Dog Syndrome (BDS). It has even inspired some animal welfare organizations like Black Pearl Dogs to specialize in helping these overlooked pups find new homes.

Homeless black cats have an equally difficult time getting adopted. In a video produced by Pet Rescue by Judy, it states that in some shelters up to 40% of the cats euthanized have black coats.

There are many speculations as to why this phenomenon exists:

  • The color black is often vilified in the media.
  • People have superstitions that black is synonymous with bad luck.
  • People falsely believe black cats are less friendly.
  • People falsely believe black dogs are more aggressive.

However, many animal rescue groups think it is really a matter of animals with black fur literally “gettting lost” in a shelter.

People cannot clearly see their faces and have a hard time reading their expressions. Rescue groups admit that even pictures of pets with black coats do not show their features as well as other animals. It’s been noted that potential adopters actually walk past their cages; as if they were ghosts.

So if you want a stress free Black Friday shopping day, visit a Black Friday Adopt-a-thon in your city. The event gives black cats and dogs a day to shine and show off their good qualities and it will still offer pet guardians those deep discounts they are seeking.


Photos: cat from Care 2 Site; Maddie & me, my rescued black angel dog

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Dog Rescue Railroad

Did you know there are silent networks across the country that rescue dogs, cats, and other animals from death in kill shelters and transport them to a new life in another state?

One such network is The Dog Rescue Railroad that Deborah Eades writes about in her book, Every Rescued Dog Has a Tale. I was touched by the stories of the many dogs rescued over the years thanks to the efforts and commitment by the dedicated volunteers along the dog rescue railroad. Deborah Eades is one of these volunteers who drives a leg of a journey each weekend to rescue dogs who would otherwise be killed. Each chapter is a tale of one or more dogs rescued from a variety of situations, from being chained and starving in an owner's backyard to getting them out of a kill shelter moments before they are gassed.

Yes, I said gassed. It's been a shock to me over the last several months to learn from more than one source that what most of us know euthanasia to be, that is, an injection that is typically quick and painless for the animal, is not what happens to many animals in our country. These unfortunate animals are rounded up into a room and suffer the inhumane practice of being gassed. I'm not sure why, but my guess is that it has to do with lack of adequate funds and inadequate laws protecting animals from this inhumane practice. I know there are movements to stop this horrendous way of killing animals. It is people like Deborah Eades who save so many precious animals from this fate. As my dog rescue work was motivated by my black lab and soulmate dog, Maggie, Deborah transports dogs to safety in honor of her "heart dog," Sam.

Thank you, Deborah, to you and all the volunteers along the dog rescue railroad, and the many networks like it across the country, for being the silent angels that you are in bringing thousands of dogs to safety and giving them a second chance. Debra's hope is that proceeds from her book will help fund various animal rescue groups and no kill shelters across the country. Her wish is also that many of us who read her stories will volunteer with a dog transport group in our area to save even more lives.

According to Deborah, you can connect with other volunteers through Yahoo groups and other online communities simply by typing in "dog rescue" or "dog transport." You can join these groups and then find listings for transport groups that need drivers in your part of the country. You can find more detail about the best ways to do this and how it works at the end of her book. According to Deborah, "the fulfillment you get from helping these pitiful animals is priceless, and it is so easy to do."

What do you say? How about looking for a dog/animal transport in your part of the country? Let's get as many of these precious creatures saved as possible. In the meantime, please spay and neuter your pets to prevent future unnecessary euthanasia.

Photos are from Every Rescued Dog Has A Tale website.

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Book Review: Buckley's Story Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher

My blog often goes to the dogs, but today's post is devoted to their feline buddies -- one special feline in particular named Buckley. This is my review of Buckley's Story Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher by author Ingrid King.

Buckley's Story Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher is a moving love story between a woman and her joyful, affectionate cat that will touch the hearts of animal lovers. Buckley enriched and impacted Ingrid King's life in unexpected ways when she made that decision to make her home Buckley's forever home. With her self-appointed job as official greeter, Buckley brought joy to whoever walked through King's doorway. The author reminds us of the unconditional love our animals offer us and the spiritual beings that they are. She also reminds us to listen to our pets and learn the lessons they have to teach us.

Sadly, Buckley is diagnosed with heart disease after only two years of living with the author and her other cat, Amber. The second half of the book addresses the heartbreaking illness, diagnosis, treatment and final letting go of Buckley that so many pet lovers will relate to. The author also shares good medical information on the symptoms and treatment of this form of heart disease.

Ingrid King shows us both her struggle with and her ability to live in the present and enjoy the short time she has left with Buckley rather than focus on her inevitable loss and death. She also teaches us the importance of following our intuition with our pets even when it disagrees with veterinarian expertise.

I love King's observation that cats create a sense of peace in the home. I had never thought about it before in this way, but I realize how true it is with my own cat, Cinnamon, with the calm presence she emanates. Cat lovers, Ingrid King's passionate love for cats shines through beautifully in Buckley's Story Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher.

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Solution to the Heartbreak of Losing Your Pets in Home Foreclosures

People losing their homes to foreclosure has been a sad and unfortunate fact of life for some time now. The cost to these folks in mental and emotional stress is immeasurable. Add to this stress that many of those who have lost their homes have also had to give up their pets, and I can't even begin to imagine their heartbreak. Then there is the heartbreak and grief the pets experience as most are placed in shelters with an unknown fate, not really understanding why they've been abandoned. I don't know about you, but it is so painful for me to think about.

I have some first hand experience. A year after Maggie died, my husband and I adopted Chloe, an 11-year-old golden retriever from Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies. Her family of 11 years moved to Peru. It was Chloe who taught me the deep grief a dog experiences when they are abandoned, for whatever reason, by the people they so love and are bonded to. I know people sometimes feel they don't have a choice, so when I speak of abandonment my intention is not to make the people wrong or judge them. Most of them, too, are heartbroken. I am speaking purely from the dog/cat/animal's emotional point of view here.

As for Chloe, the grief was literally written all over her face. The woman who fostered her commented, "I have fostered Goldens for years, and this is the first time I have had one cry the entire night after her person dropped her off." You see, Chloe knew she'd been left behind forever by her loved ones. She was an incredibly sensitive girl, and her heart was absolutely broken. We were lucky to see her grief stricken eyes begin to smile over time as she delighted in the active and stimulating life we offered her. Although she loved us dearly during the 3 1/2 years she graced our lives, I know she never forgot her original people.

My second experience with animals being separated from their people and families was when I traveled to Mississippi and worked in a makeshift animal shelter after Hurricane Katrina. I worked with the dogs, and after all that they'd been through, their stress level was high. But it was bigger than the trauma of living through the hurricane and its aftermath. I can remember one in particular, a black lab mix who I brought into my lap outside to hold and comfort. But the entire time I held her, she was not really with me. Her eyes looked far beyond me and were searching, and I knew she was looking for her people. My heart ached for her.

So when I began hearing about the many animals being given up to shelters in the wake of all the foreclosures, I felt desperate as I considered their uncertain fate in being added to the already overcrowded shelter populations. I thought there must be some way for our country to deal with this so that people would not have to give up their animals forever, that they could be reunited at some point and have both animal and human spared the painful grief of losing each other.

Well, Scott Lanz clearly felt the same way and created According to Scott,"the goal of is to provide a FREE SERVICE where current homeowners can establish an account where they will be able to post their pet’s information, including photos, description, and contact information in order to find them a temporary home or a new family. We also encourage other rescue groups/non profits/and even agents to post animals they have or may find in foreclosure homes on our site."

The mission of is to help any homeowner facing foreclosure in the United States "to find a new home and/or temporary adoption for their pets until they can get back on their feet." According to Scott Lanz, there are over 1.6 million foreclosures and with the current economy there will be more in the near future. Even worse than taking their faithful pets to a shelter, many are being left behind by homeowners to fend for themselves. This is resulting in animals starving and dying. Please don't do this to your animals. They can't survive on their own, and they suffer horribly when they are abandoned this way. They deserve so much better treatment.

Foreclosure Pets also has a lost/found section for animals on their site. So if you find a pet or lose your own, you can post the information on their website. If you or someone you know are in danger of losing their home, please have them visit to give their pet a chance to find a loving home.

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pilots N Paws Saves Innocent Animals From Euthanasia

Information taken from Pilots N Paws website with permission
All photos from Pilots N Paws Website

Do you know about Pilots N Paws? They transport large numbers of animals to safety from "kill" shelters to non-kill shelters, rescue groups, foster homes, or a forever home. They do the noble work of saving large numbers of animals regularly who are on the brink of being euthanized.

Pilots N Paws have identified three serious issues that adversely affect animals in our country.
The first and most important issue is that about 4,000,000 animals or more are euthanized annually in the United States. This would not be the case if there were more and better spay and neuter programs and laws regarding owners’ responsibility for their animals.

The second issue is that because the problem is primarily regional a lot of these innocent animals could find permanent “forever” homes if they could be transported from high kill regions to areas with homes available. To accomplish this Pilots N Paws desperately needs more pilots to help with transports.

The final issue is that Pilots N Paws feels that while aviation has proven to be a successful way to transport animals to safety, general aviation in this country is threatened. See their website at for more details on this issue.

"It is truly the best of humanity working hand in hand to save these animals from euthanasia along with other remarkable stories such as service dogs, therapy dogs, two pups coming to the U.S. ... who were adopted by American Soldiers, just on and is extremely rewarding and heartwarming."
Debi Boies, Co-Founder, Pilots N Paws

The Pilots N Paws Team

To transport many animals to safety is a large undertaking, and it involves shelters, rescues, foster homes for animals and pilots. Each will play a role in the success of a rescue mission and each must commit to its success.

At least three parties will make up each “team” participating in a rescue. The starting point is the sending shelter or rescue. They will dedicate themselves to making one or more animals available to be transported to safety. They will pair up with the receiving rescue, shelter, or adoptive home. These two parts of the team will be central to the event. Ideally the receiving party should be no greater than 300 miles in a straight line from the starting shelter because the majority of the planes that will be used will be able to do a transport of that distance. Anything beyond that distance is likely to eliminate some types of planes, making it more difficult to find a pilot willing to do the transport. However, if the distance has to be greater all is not lost, it just narrows down the number of pilots that will be willing to consider the transport. If the distance gets much greater than 300 miles then Pilots N Paws encourages the shelter to locate an intermediate shelter, rescue, or foster, and treat the transport as a relay with additional start and end points.

Pilots N Paws asks that if you are a potential receiving shelter, rescue group, or foster who is willing to participate in any way, that you contact shelters, rescues or fosters in high kill areas and offer to receive the animals that are pulled for the Pilots N Paws rescue. If you only want dogs or even specific breeds of dogs let them know, but don’t remain silent. Having people available to receive the animals rescued is critical.

The final part of the three part team will be the pilot(s). Once the sending and receiving rescues have joined, pilots will be able to identify that transport as one they will volunteer to do.
See the Pilots N Paws website and form for more specific details for how the team is set up.

The Pilots N Paws Website and Discussion Forum

Here's how it works. The Pilots N Paws website is a meeting place for those who rescue, shelter or foster animals, and pilots and plane owners willing to assist with the transportation of animals. Pilots N Paws do not coordinate the volunteers who provide rescue, shelter & foster services, nor do they arrange these services. They do provide the environment for those involved to come together in a common place and arrange or schedule rescue flights, overnight foster care or shelter and all other related activities.

If you participate you are encouraged to check the discussion board daily at for new listings for the purposes of volunteering or assisting in efforts to save animals. This is where information about transports is publicly exchanged. Then an entire transport can be set up and all necessary information to successfully accompish the goal can be shared. This is where you can volunteer your efforts if you see how you can fill a need. All who participate in the discussion board are working for a common goal.

There are links to general information that is specific to pilots or those involved in the sheltering or rescue, and Pilots N Paws requests that these be respected and used just for those purposes.

Posting for a transport is the key to success. Transport needs must be posted as soon as possible and the sending & receiving shelters, and the pilot(s) must team up to handle and coordinate their own transports and media coverage. The posting must be in a specific format. Please visit Pilots N Paws at or the forum at for instructions and examples.


Pilots N Paws always needs more pilots. They are a 501C3, so portions of a pilot's flights are considered a charitable donation, says co-founder Deborah Boies. Pilots willing to do an animal rescue transport can use the postings to find a transport that suits their abilities. See Pilots N Paws website for details and instructions. Commercial airlines have and can offer a great service to the transporting of rescue animals. Pilots N Paws invites and encourages other airline employees who are willing and able to provide travel for rescues to participate in this program. Interested airlines and pilots can visit Pilots N Paws and can learn more about regulations of shipping pets on their airlines and on the situation that general aviation pilots are facing at


Please visit Pilots N Paws website to see the abundant news coverage they have received for their incredible animal rescue missions.

Thank you Pilots N Paws for the amazing service you do for the animals and bringing together the people who want to help and participate!

"Spay and neuter is our mantra as well as adopt a pet in need." -- Debi Boies, Co-Founder, Pilots N Paws

Posted By: Dawn Kairns

Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life