Houston SPCA caring for dogs seized from filthy trailer

Owner says circling UFOs made the animals unhealthy

Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

Dec. 13, 2008, 8:56PM

James Nielsen Chronicle

Dr. Dev Rajan, of the Houston SPCA, holds one of the terriers seized from a trailer in Fayette County earlier this month.

Houston SPCA veterinarian Roberta Westbrook lifted a trembling toy English fox terrier into her arms Saturday afternoon to examine the dog’s emaciated body.

The spine and ribs of the malnourished terrier were visible. The dog’s nails were overgrown and her tiny paws were soiled from living in her own feces. The dog was among 42 terriers brought to the Houston SPCA Friday from the Gardenia E. Janssen Animal Shelter in Fayette County.

Authorities in Fayette County seized the dogs on Dec. 3, after they were found living in a 5-by-9 foot trailer — eating, sleeping and giving birth in their own waste — with a woman who claimed the terriers were unhealthy because UFOs were circling above her home, said Houston SPCA spokeswoman Meera Nandlal.

“We don’t know if she was breeding them or why she was living with them in such a small space, ” Nandlal said.

Authorities in Fayette County could not be reached for comment on Saturday. It is unknown at this time if any charges will be brought against the woman.

The animal shelter enlisted the Houston SPCA’s help to house and care for the 40 dogs, some of whom are as old as 10. The terrier Westbrook was examining gave birth to two female puppies since she was removed from the trailer.

Most of the dogs are in poor physical condition. Two of them are missing limbs for unknown reasons.

“They could be purebred, but not the best standard,” Westbrook said.

All the dogs will undergo medical and behavioral evaluations. After being cleaned and treated, healthy dogs will be put up for adoption, Westbrook said, adding that those who need more time to recover will be placed in foster care.

The Houston SPCA often sees many large animal seizures, Nandlal said. Recently, the organization took in 70 feral cats.

“Unfortunately, it’s not unusual, ” she said. “There are all kinds of animals that are put into situations they have no control of.”

Off-leash obedience; How to keep your dog close.

Off-leash obedience; How to keep your dog close.

by Mark Siebel – Owner – DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

Oh…the dream of taking your dog to the park, taking him OFF the leash, and playing fetch without him running away! For some dogs this can be a reality. Unfortunately, for others, the instinctual desires to smell and track will make it difficult to trust their “off-leash” freedom. I tell customers that off-leash obedience is NOT for every dog, so be sure that your dog has mastered the “come” command before attempting any off-lead work.

Off-leash obedience takes time, repetition, and your dog’s awareness that YOU are the pack leader. Through daily exercises and by using a stern-voiced recall, followed by a treat and strong praise/affection, your dog may have what it takes to play fetch unleashed. To see if your off-leash dream can become a reality, follow the simple tips below:

1. Off-leash at your local baseball diamond. A great way to get your dog prepared for off-leash obedience is to work with him at an enclosed baseball diamond. Find a local ball diamond and arrive early or late in the day to ensure you will be the only ones there. Go prepared with a leash and poop bag to pick up after your dog. Enter the ball diamond and be sure ALL gates are closed behind you. Release your dog from the leash and begin to walk the perimeter of the park. After only a few times of this routine, your dog will begin to follow/come to you! You can also practice running backwards combined with the “come” command in the ballpark. For a local ball diamond near you check out: http://phoenix.gov/parks/parks.html

2. 50-foot lead. Next, your dog must link the off-leash connection at the ball park to the eventual freedom in an open park/field setting. To achieve this, purchase a 50 foot training lead from: http://www.choicepetmarket.com/ With the 50 foot lead, go to your local park or greenbelt and tie one end of the lead to your dog and the other to your waist. The purpose of this long lead is to teach your dog that he has a 50 foot radius in which to roam. If he goes straight right, you go straight left. Just as the lead is about to get taut, you will command “come!” and continue walking in the opposite direction as your dog. In time, a boundary will be set, and your dog will not exceed the 50 foot radius. Practice this exercise often until your dog no longer exceeds the entire length of the 50 foot lead.

3. Playtime with dogs already off-leash trained. With your dog now familiar with a 50 foot boundary, its time to acclimate him to a play environment with dogs already trained to be off- leash. I often help customers with this by bringing my two Australian Shepherds. Having dogs that STAY close to the handler off lead will keep a new dog close to the pack 90% of the time. If you see any oncoming passersby with or without dogs, leash up your dog to ensure they don’t run. If your dog begins to stray from the pack on this exercise, you may want to have a 4 foot lead attached just to stop your dog. If your dog roams and doesn’t stay with the pack, repeat tips 1 & 2 for a few more weeks.

4. Finally, off leash with lead still attached. You’re almost there! Now that your dog knows its boundaries and has run with an off-lead trained pack, you now can do the final test. Pick an early morning and go to your local park/field. Take some tasty treats and a ball with which to play fetch. Be sure no other passersby are near and drop your lead. Have your dog explore with the lead ON to be sure you can stop him if he strays. After you’re sure the boundary is being obeyed, you can then remove the leash and your dream has come true!

Off leash obedience can be achieved with time and patience. As stated earlier, this is NOT for every dog. After you have tried tips 1 & 2 you will have good idea if your dog will have the capacity to achieve off-leash obedience. Please also be aware of your local OFF LEASH LAWS. I’d recommend off-lead work ONLY for exercises like fetch or general retrieval. Otherwise, for safety and dog etiquette, have your dog remain leashed.

“You may have a dog that won’t sit up, roll over or even cook breakfast, not because she’s too stupid to learn how but because she’s too smart to bother.” – Rick Horowitz, Chicago Tribune

You may have a dog that won’t sit up, roll over or even cook breakfast, not because she’s too stupid to learn how but because she’s too smart to bother.

– Rick Horowitz, Chicago Tribune

“You may have a dog that won’t sit up, roll over or even cook breakfast, not because she’s too stupid to learn how but because she’s too smart to bother.” – Rick Horowitz, Chicago Tribune

Searching for a Breeder (cont)

Searching for a breeder? Part Two

In my initial post I pointed out things to be aware of in your search for a breeder. However I did not delve into by definition, what a good breeder is. Let me begin by telling you a little bit about my own personal experience and ‘agenda’ as a breeder. I have been in out of the breeding world since 1986. First introduced into the breeding world by my ex-mother-in-law. She was what you may refer to as a ‘back yard’ breeder. She had had litters every now and then but her animals were primarily house dogs/pets. I quickly fell in love with the idea, I had always loved animals. My choice of breeds differed from hers she had English Bulldogs and I was enthralled by Rottweilers. http://www.rottweilersavvy.com

 I had spotted them for the first time on the original version of the movie ‘The Omen’ a few years earlier. Back then Rottweilers were still a fairly rare breed I shelled out $800.00 for my little darling which was a lot (so I thought) for a dog, especially in the 80’s. It wasn’t too long down the road that I discovered a term that is prevalent in many large breeds known as ‘Hip Dysplasia’. Yep, you guessed it ‘Black Bart’ aka Bart (then about 6 months old) had H.D.
I was blown away, all my dreams fading before my eyes. My future ‘stud’ dog was doomed to be neutered. That decision, was what defined me as an ‘ethical’ breeder. In my heart I knew I could not ever breed an animal with a genetic defect. I sought out the people I had purchased Bart from, foolishly thinking they would be as shocked and dismayed as I was. Playing innocent they claimed no knowledge of such a thing. Since there was no puppy ‘lemon law’ back then and they had offered no health guarantee, I had no leg to stand on. That was my first lesson, one of many.
To be continued…..