National Dog Fighting Awareness Day!

DogFightAwareness-ASPCAYes, I’m blogging a day early–but it’s important. April 8 (today) has been declared National Dog Fighting Awareness Day by the ASPCA. That’s appropriate since the entire month of April is National Prevent Cruelty to Animals Month and I can think of no more heinous crime against dogs (and other critters) than dog fights.

DogBehindFencePitBullFight-ASPCA

Image courtesy of ASPCA

Yes, I said “other animals” because even non-fighting critters may be victims of this cruel practice as “training tools” for the fighters. I wrote about a visit to the Crime Museum in Washington, DC last year, where the ASPCA hosted a display of dog fight paraphernalia and information about this horrible practice. The veterinary CSI’s had even excavated the skeleton of a cat that had been killed and buried in conjunction with training the dogs.

Sadly, there are still many myths surrounding the crime. It’s not an isolated practice–dog fighting happens all over the country, in cities, urban settings, and in the country. Perhaps in your community.

I know it happens where I live. Here in North Texas and Southern Oklahoma, dog fighting and the associated guns, drugs and other crimes occur with great frequency. Yep, kids are involved–bring those kids up while exposing them to such things as “normal” and guess what happens? Urk!

So mark your calendars and iPhones for a Google+ Hangout tonight, at 7-8 pm New York Time. I’ll be there. Will you?

dogfightingawarenesscirclelolathepittyNow…I gotta go pet my Magical-Dawg, Seren-Kitty and Karma-Kitten and thank doG that they’re safe!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? I’m a new Brand Ambassador for The Honest Kitchen and you can get FREE samples here, check it out! (Karma loves this!). Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Monday Mentions: Working Dog Aps & Tricky Rats

Tfest 056Looky looky! I’m wearing my bunny-slippers-with-teeth again, as I continue the work on the latest thriller SHOW AND TELL. Lots of stuff a-percolating about the story, too, almost too much good stuff. The trick will be how to get everything to come together.

But it’ll happen. *s*

I’m already getting help and ideas from my Sweet Peeps on Facebook (are you my friend/follower yet? :) ). And as in the past, there’ll be new characters to name so I’ll let y’all know when the next NAME THAT CAT/NAME THAT DOG contest happens.

Meanwhile, I’m back in the desk-treadmill-saddle and walking about an hour a day. Okay, I skipped Saturday, while I finished up orchestration on the newest (and final) song GOTCHA DAY for the Strays show. (Soon I should also have samples of the cast recording to share.) But otherwise, I’m doing my best to get-and-stay as healthy as possible. It’s amazing the increased energy I feel when I’ve walked my quota.

Here’s a chance for some of y’all to get a PAW-tographed copy of the 2nd thriller HIDE AND SEEK. I’m giving three copies away through GoodReads and you can sign up directly in the form, below. Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hide And Seek by Amy Shojai

Hide And Seek

by Amy Shojai

Giveaway ends April 18, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo writer links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Check out the amazing videos below, too! For new followers to the blog, welcome! and you can expect more cat and dog specific schtuff later in the week on Wednesday and Friday.

WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

Pamela Wray, The Great Pretender here’s a serial plagiarizer you won’t believe!

Writers League of Texas Agent Conference

Oklahoma Writers Federation Conference (yes, I’ll be there! first weekend in May)

BlogPaws Social Media Conference for anyone who writes about/loves pets!

Thrillerfest in July! you won’t want to miss this (yes, I’m going!)

PET-ASTIC SCHTUFF

“I Love You Smell Much!” a study that shows familiar smell lights up a dog’s pleasure centers in the brain

Shame On Winnie The Pooh, pooh-pooing science?

Dangers of Sleeping With Dogs

Alabama Rot Killing UK Dogs?

2014 Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE Awards) Nominations Open!

Tattoos By Dogs!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? I’m a new Brand Ambassador for The Honest Kitchen and you can get FREE samples here, check it out! (Karma loves this!). Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Cats Under Attack! TNR, TB, Toxo & Talkback

CatInTree-SaphireDream

Managed feral cats can live healthy lives. Image Copr. Sapphire Dream/Flickr

No, I don’t mean my cats have turned on me, although Seren and Karma have yet to call a truce. Actually, the past week or so has been filled with an array of articles, posts, and flame-war discussions denigrating cats as well as those who attempt to help them.

This isn’t new. Cats have been the scapegoat for many of the world’s ills. Perhaps it’s because our felines have such great success surviving what would fell lesser creatures. After all, there’s a reason that “9 lives” myth has been repeated for eons.

Cats, particular the issue of ferals and TNR, seem to bring out all the trolls. For more on TNR, read this blog post from last year.

News outlets eager to sell stories and get more eyeballs on their venues often duck fact-checking and opt for hand-waving sensationalism. So cats are blamed for:

  • rabies (despite the fact that wildlife reservoirs–bats, raccoons, foxes–are the more likely host)
  • “crazy brain disease” and being baby-killers due to toxoplasmosis (despite the fact most humans harbor this without any problem, as a result of eating rare meat–and it’s easily preventable with just modest hygiene)
  • Bird predation (despite human destruction of habitat and other critters–like rats and snakes–impact birds at much higher rates).
  • And now, a scare that cats transmitted tuberculosis to people, via contact with badgers. (?!) “We don’ need no stinkin’ badgers!” (sorry, couldn’t resist but it’s NOT funny)

The anti-TNR folks point to these issues to convince us lethal means–usually poisoning–of feral cats should be implemented. That’s worked SO WELL over the past 100+ years (NOT!). The results have been ineffective, inhumane and costly.

My owned cats Seren and Karma stay inside, not to protect the wildlife from them, but to protect them from the wildlife. I agree that companion cats merit protection. But so do feral felines, who through no fault of their own, live life on the wild side. And truth be told, both Seren and Karma were but one paw-step away from living that wild side life, and being the targets of cat haters.

Sound harsh? So sue me.

TNR is not a “single” thing. It’s an all-encompassing effort that not only trap-neuter-returns but also adopts out the adoptable “strays” that wander in or get dumped, places kittens able to adapt as pets, euthanizes the un-save-able, and helps relieve the burden for local animal welfare organizations. So according to some, TNR is a “failure” because cat colonies don’t go away simply with the trap-neuter-return portions of the equation.

Hmnnnn.

Is TNR perfect? No. Is killing cats a perfect solution? No. Are there valid arguments on both sides? Of course. That’s always the case when the situation isn’t black and white, but instead all shades of gray, tabby, calico and more.

Here’s my response to one thread of comments:

“I’m delighted there are so many here who claim to have the best interests of cats (shelter, stray, feral, pet) at heart. And I’m saddened that rather than working together to help the situation, great pains are taken to denigrate any effort. It’s very easy (on both sides) to pick and choose the “facts” one wishes to spotlight in an effort to support an argument and point fingers how WRONG WRONG WRONG the other party is. Rather than allow emotions to run the show, it’s a much more difficult — and ultimately rewarding and ethical –stance to offer a balanced look. Rather than point out the shortcomings and condemning a particular practice based on the FAILURE, why not look at the successes, analyze why they worked and how to improve these efforts?

That might actually make the positive difference all parties purport to want.

Thank you to those who truly do want what’s best for the cats. Your passion could indeed make a positive difference for cats. They’re the innocent victims in this tug-o-war.

And as far as I can see, cats and cat lovers (on both sides) lose the battle when all that matters is who can shout loudest. True journalism, it seems, is dead and advertorials have inherited the hand-waving space.”

I’m tired of having to quash the bad information each time it’s resurrected by folks who ignore reality. And I’m sickened by those who use these issues in a war against companion animals who argue that it’s more ‘humane’ to trap and kill feral cats, rather than to manage colonies in which healthy cats unable to accept human companions live for a decade or longer. Properly cared for feral colonies provide a protective barrier from diseased animals (and other cats)–because as we know, kitties chase away “stranger danger” and only reluctantly accept in newbies to the fold. Seren drives that home every day with her c’attitude toward Karma. Of course, the operative words there are “properly managed/cared for.”

Here are just some of the recent stories, with commentary, that have been published. Some make valid points, although I don’t necessarily agree with the conclusions. There also have been some solid rebuttals.

The Evil Of Outdoor Cats is the story that started the recent furor, and here’s the author’s follow up with some more response and a nicely composed Response from CWA Member Anne Moss and from well known pet expert Steve Dale.

TB Caught from Cats and a vet’s warning about More To Come (notice how the vet says it’s low risk–but the headlines trumpet something else.)

No Evidence to Support Killing Feral Cats offers a great response from Peter Wolf with facts and figures to back it up

I’ll let y’all decide for yourselves. Some of my colleagues have speculated we’re in the middle of an orchestrated PR campaign against TNR and cats in general. What do you think? Do our responses to these stories fuel the fire? Are we preaching to the choir without any chance to change minds?

Oh, and I have no doubt the trolls will come out in force. So in advance, y’all can refer to my comments policy here.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? I’m a new Brand Ambassador for The Honest Kitchen and you can get FREE samples here, check it out! (Karma loves this!). Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 

 

Food Aggression in Dogs is No Laughing Matter!

Magic8Weeks

Thank goodness Magic isn’t food aggressive–he even lets Karma munch from his bowl (but I do my best to keep ‘em separated at meals). Not good tempting fate. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

This video that’s suddenly gone viral, makes me incredibly sad. Despite the “LOL!” shares and comments about “how cute” this behavior is, plain and simple this is a disaster in the making.

Resource guarding is NOT a joke! And the owner of these two dogs are incredibly fortunate the larger canine is willing to put up with this, or they’d have a bloody mess on their hands.

Let’s put this in perspective here. Instead of the the big dog–imagine him as a teasing/bullying ten-year-old little boy. And instead of the tiny pooch, imagine a three year old terrified little girl.

Waaaay funny, right? :(

The owner has set up these dogs to practice bad behavior. Dogs that resource guard not only do this to protect food and toys from other dogs, they also often direct this behavior toward people–and toward children. Even a tiny dog this size can do damage should a child drop a piece of candy on the floor, and reach to retrieve it.

And a larger dog that resource guards food, toys, the car, the bed–the owner!–can be a huge liability if he uses his teeth out of fear. People get hurt. Property can be damaged.

And dogs lose their homes–and their lives. Who’s laughing now?

Learn more about resource guarding and what to do in this new article.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? I’m a new Brand Ambassador for The Honest Kitchen and you can get FREE samples here, check it out! (Karma loves this!). Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Monday Mentions: Cat Wigs, Dueling Cellos and April Resolutions

Cat Wearing Pink Wig

Should I invest in a wig for one of the fur-kids? Image Copr. PlaneTrudy/Flickr

I couldn’t resist sharing this PAW-some picture. Seren would be offended if I presented her with such a thing, Magic would tolerate it but look like he’d been beaten.

And Karma? He’d EAT IT! That kitten hasn’t stopped eating. Wow. Before long he’s truly going to be in need of the Hill’s Metabolic Advance Weight Loss food discussed here.

I’ve sort of “pudged up” this winter, too. It comes from sitting many hours a day in front of the computer and exercising only my typing fingers. Oh, I have a desk treadmill now. Just need to use it more. So I’ve resolved to eat MORE of the right stuff (and stop skipping meals), and walk the treadmill daily as well. Soon it’ll be time to get the garden back in shape, too. How do you stay in shape when your job consists of sitting 8+ hours a day?

Anyone can make a New Year’s resolution. I’m making an April Fool’s resolution (so is it real, or not? *eg*) to be nicer to me, provide better food, healthier activity, and see if I can increase my energy levels. Because I have a boatload of writer-ly work to get done this spring, including the new thriller, at least one new nonfiction title, and another audio book. I’ll try to report in here weekly, and probably also will complain celebrate successes on Facebook, too.

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo writer links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Check out the amazing videos below, too! (Talk about a workout routine, LOL!) For new followers to the blog, welcome! and you can expect more cat and dog specific schtuff later in the week on Wednesday and Friday.

WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

Content Bubble & 8-cent EBooks

Do You Know ALLi? find out more about this indie-author association

Do Poets Need Literary Agents? a great post by Writer Beware

7 Myths of Blog Tours

Books Bound in Human Skin?! Ewww….at Harvard no less

Don’t SHOUT, Just LISTEN great tips for using social media from a professional actor

PET-ASTIC SCHTUFF

Adopt-A-Pet Cover Pet Contest

Cats with TB Transmit to People now this is a first–and incredibly rare–but also a great plot for a thriller, don’t you think? Probably you’re safe unless your cats are friendly with TB-carrying badgers, urk!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? I’m a new Brand Ambassador for The Honest Kitchen and you can get FREE samples here, check it out! (Karma loves this!). Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!