SAVING ANIMALS WITH PIZZA!

Ned Taylor

What better way to begin 2016 than to veganize Ned Taylor, a sixteen-year-old from Victoria, BC? In December’s MEATLESS ANYDAY AND A TEENAGER’S PLEDGE TO HELP CHICKENS, I blogged about promoting Ned’s petition – “Ban Battery Cages in Canada,” – urging the government to ban battery cages for chickens. Yet despite his deep concern for chickens and other animals, Ned still ate them.

But he was already considering veganism, and when I challenged him, he committed to one vegan day a week. A few days later, Ned shared his notes about Day 1, which was vegetarian, kind of a warm-up, and Day 2, which was out-and-out vegan.

Day 1 (Vegetarian)

Breakfast: I had scrambled eggs (free-range of course) and hash-browns.

Lunch: I had three grilled cheese sandwiches.

Dinner: I had mashed potatoes, baked green bean and french fried onion mixture, stuffing and carrots.

Thoughts: It was pretty easy going just without meat. For breakfast my family ate bacon, eggs and hash-browns and all I had to do was remove the bacon. I could definitely see myself doing this more often. It’s healthy, good for the environment and super easy!

Day 2 (Vegan)

Breakfast: Hash-browns and 2 pieces of toast and peanut butter.

Lunch: Beans on toast

Dinner: I had a butternut squash soup with garlic bread (recipe below). Also after dinner I went to a movie and got popcorn. Thankfully my mum reminded me to get margarine instead of butter so I didn’t spoil it at the end!

Recipe for Butternut Squash Soup:  

SOUL_SOUP

Thoughts: This was definitely trickier than going vegetarian but overall it wasn’t too hard. The main obstacle was avoiding dairy products (like the popcorn butter issue). Also the butternut squash soup was delicious! I definitely want to have that more often.

Well, well, well! What was I to say about this menu? The Day 1 vegetarian dinner looked like a typical meat-based meal with the meat omitted, almost identical to meals I’ve consumed as a guest of non-vegans. Its main virtue was that it required no extra preparation and was, from Ned’s perspective, “pretty easy.” No wonder he could see himself doing it more often.

But I couldn’t help commenting about his lunch of three grilled cheese sandwiches” Isn’t that … um … a lot of sandwiches?” “Oh, my mom also asks me if I really need three,” Ned said cheerily. “The thing is, I do, because I’m really hungry. But I work out a lot so I can afford to eat a lot without gaining any weight.”

I chuckled and reminded myself that Ned is just sixteen, and super fit. I won’t worry about the quantity of food he consumes. I’ll just stick with doing what I’ve agreed to: guiding and documenting his progress on his weekly vegan days, when he abstains from animal products altogether: no eggs, cheese, milk, etc.

When Ned plunged into his vegan day, it helped that both his parents were very supportive, and that it was a Sunday, when he had the time to “find stuff I could cook myself” to avoid expecting his mom to prepare special meals for him. Breakfast and lunch were simple and toasty, and he probably enlivened them with a glass of something to drink and a fruit or two. Lastly, Ned’s dinner of Butternut Squash Soup from One Green Planet constituted a brilliant ending to his first vegan day! (Except, of course, that unbuttered movie theatre popcorn, a pop cultural indulgence shared by millions, including me.)

cook-the-book-afro-vegan-cover

Squash or pumpkin soup is a mainstay of Caribbean cooking, and when I lived in Haiti we had it every Sunday. It’s delicious, nutritious and filling; it’s also versatile, perfectly happy to be spicy or blander, and always willing to soak up and integrate a stray vegetable or two.

Ned ended his first vegan day resolved to repeat it. “Dairy was the hardest to avoid,” he mused, “but I’d much rather eat vegan things.” Ned’s an environmentalist and a compassionate animal advocate who is already lobbying politicians against factory farming. So far, our modest little experiment is working, because Ned is determined that it will. But it’s clear that I should offer more encouragement in the form of that most basic of assistance: recipes, simple, clearly-described and most of all, appealing to this extraordinary teenager who is so eager to rescue and restore the world to pristine nature.

I’m going to start with pizza, arguably the most popular fast food in North America, and heavily consumed by male teenagers. If Ned tries some of these delicious recipes, he won’t be the odd man out at the table. Without even trying, he’ll have introduced his family members to the delights of good vegan food, and in a single sitting, spared at least a few animals!

 

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Filed under Animal Alliance/Environment Voters Party, Battery cages, Ned Taylor, factory farming. veganism, Uncategorized, Vegan recipes

MEATLESS ANYDAY AND A TEENAGER’S PLEDGE TO HELP CHICKENS

Recently, a sixteen-year-old high school student in British Columbia contacted me and asked me to help him help chickens. “First off, I would like to thank you for running in this election [for the Animal Alliance/Environment Voters Party] and standing up for both animals and our environment,” he wrote. Then he requested my support for his petition, “Ban Battery Cages in Canada,”  against the brutal treatment of factory-farmed chickens, which references the Canadian Coalition for Farmed Animals as its source.

Canada factory farm chicken

Canadian factory farmed chickens. Hell on earth, and methane pollution in the atmosphere

As an animal advocate, I could not resist this appeal on behalf of billions of chickens. Ned’s petition is stellar. It reviews the condition of more than ninety percent of Canada’s egg-laying hens, detailing how these creatures are trapped in cramped wire “battery cages” for their entire lives, forced to exist in spaces smaller than an 8 ½ x 11 inch piece of paper.

These conditions are not only cruel, Ned writes,  but they deprive hens of their natural behaviors of nesting, perching, dust-bathing, stretching their wings or even walking around, and the consequences can be dire. Chickens are fouled and sickened by urine and feces falling down from cages above them. Their feathers fall out and their skin is damaged. Their muscles waste from lack of use, their bones and skeletal systems become brittle, and their spinal cords deteriorate, leaving them paralyzed. Dying and dead chickens litter the cages and are often cannibalized by their surviving cage-mates.

“This is how millions of hens spend their entire lives in Canada, and yet nothing has been done to stop this,” Ned’s petition concludes. “We need to ban battery cages in Canada and make it mandatory for chickens to be raised in a free run or free range system. This is the humane and Canadian thing to do. … Please, for the sake of our animals and our people, do the right thing.”

I read through and signed the petition and agreed to promote it. Soon after, I connected with Ned by telephone and bombarded him with questions. What had driven this teenager’s desire to help chickens? And why had he chosen petitioning the government as the best way to achieve his goal?

“Oh, because at home we always ate free run eggs and one day I just asked my mom why. She gave me some information about battery cages, and when last October’s election was called, I looked at the platforms of all the different candidates, because I thought battery cages, and the way we treat chickens aren’t right, and that led me to your party, the AA/EV.”

“I’m a bit of the odd man out,” Ned admitted. “My friends also followed the campaign, especially about the legalization of pot issue, but I’m the only one who volunteered. And the petition came after the election, because petitions are important tools to achieve results. Look at Europe! Switzerland banned battery cages back in 1992!” Western Europe is way ahead of Canada in animal welfare, Ned and I agree.

And, because we also agree on the intelligence of chickens, and their right to live full, natural lives, I invoked the veganism I assumed we shared.
“Oh, I’m not vegan,” Ned said.

Not vegan? I was taken aback. How could someone so knowledgeable about chicken nature and culture, someone so compassionate about the treatment of animals, justify eating them?

Ned’s explanation was forthright. “We humans are animals, too, and animals have been eating other animals for centuries. I believe that if we treat them right and they live a full life, then there’s nothing wrong with eating them.”

There was more. “Hunting them is better than the food industry,” Ned said. “They live in the wild, and die without fear.” That’s certainly true, but it still implies that humans have the right to end a healthy animal’s life whenever they wish to. Which begs the question: what about veganism?

“I completely support and understand it,” Ned said promptly. “In fact, I’m considering it.

Not promising to do it, just considering it right now.”
How about committing to one meatless day a week? I suggested. It needn’t be a Monday; any day of the week would suffice, making it more convenient and easier for him to honour his commitment.

Ned did not hesitate. “I agree to one meatless day a week, starting next week,” he pledged. “And I also agree to take notes and let you know how I’m doing.”

Ned Taylor

Ned Taylor with Abbey

I can’t wait to hear, and not just because each of Ned’s Meatless Days will save an estimated .54 animals, for a grand total of twenty-eight each year. It’s because I’m confident that this challenge will be so easy for him, and so satisfying that he’ll not only embrace it for life – his life and the lives of animals he cares for so deeply – but that he’ll find ways to reach out to other young people who’ll be inspired to follow his example. When they do, their Meatless Days will add up to thousands of animals saved from the horrors of factory farming and the terror and anguish of slaughterhouses.

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Filed under Animal Alliance/Environment Voters Party, Battery cages, Ned Taylor, factory farming. veganism, Elizabeth Abbott, Uncategorized

Speaking out about Syria, student debt, climate change….

Speaking out about Syria, student debt, climate change….

The Syrian crisis? crushing student debt? the critical state of the environment? our crumbling infrastructure? (Un)affordable daycare? We debated all these issues in this just-published YouTube of the Toronto Danforth All-Candidates Rogers Television debate. Present: incumbent Craig Scott, NDP; Julie Dabrusin, Liberal; Chris Tolley, Green Party; and me, Elizabeth Abbott, Animal Alliance/Environment Voters Party.

Please watch, even if you are not in Toronto Danforth riding. These issues are of national/international concern.

Canadian factory farmed chickens. Hell on earth, and methane pollution in the atmosphere

Canadian factory farmed chickens. Hell on earth, and methane pollution in the atmosphere

Canadian factory farmed misery - Meat your Hamburger.

Canadian factory farmed misery – Meat your Hamburger.

AAEV Elizabeth Abbott 2

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HOW I’D SALVAGE THE WORLD – IN ONE MINUTE

I’m running for Parliament in Canada’s October 19th election as a candidate for the Animal Alliance/Environment Voters Party – AA/EV – for the Toronto-Danforth riding. Though the AA/EV is one of Canada’s tiniest political parties, I represent billions more beings than my fellow candidates. These beings include not just the thousands of voters and residents of Toronto-Danforth but also Canada’s billions of animals: our wildlife; the dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, birds and other creatures we live with as companions; the unlucky members of those same species imprisoned in facilities that torment them in the name of science; and the billions of cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, lambs, goats and fish condemned to factory farms where they endure brief, wretched lives that end in terror in slaughterhouses.

factory farming I carry the interests of so many creatures on my shoulders!

I also advocate for the well-being of the environment whose destruction humanity – and other political parties – seem bent on permitting, by failing even to acknowledge – much less address – the biggest contributor of all, the factory farming that continues to gobble up Canadian family farms.

They do not protest against how the effluvia from factory farming pollutes neighbouring land and the waterways it seeps into. Nor, when discussing health care, do they express alarm that before slaughter, the tormented and sick animals are given antibiotics – 80% of antibiotics are used for animals, only 20% in human health care – and so everyone who eats their flesh is also exposed to antibiotics, leading to the widespread resistance to these once wondrous drugs that threatens to leave us unprotected against diseases that were once easily manageable. Nor do they cry out against the hormones given those animals to boost and hasten their growth and slaughter and that, in the humans who eat them, are linked to breast and testicular cancer, among others. Nor do they worry about the pesticides the animals ingest in their feed that is grown with many carcinogenic chemical pesticides.

That’s the tip of the iceberg of what I stand for, and doesn’t even glance at the economy, the TPP, health care, immigration, terrorism, privacy, Bill C51, democracy itself in Canada. silence

Yet in an upcoming television All-Candidates debate on Rogers TV, we are each allowed exactly one minute to introduce our programs. How is that possible? A one-minute speech is no more than 140 words, and I’ve taken nearly triple that already.

And then last Sunday in church, reciting the Apostle’s Creed, I had an epiphany. That creed, (King James version) which encapsulates the core of Christianity and even wraps it in a bit of narrative, is 110 words! If Christianity can be expressed so succinctly, so can the world-view that has driven me to enter the political arena.

My creed: I believe in a world where humans respect, protect and enhance the environment they depend on and share with animals and plant life, and where progress is measured not as macroeconomic units of growth but always in terms of justice, equity and sustainability. Humans are inextricably linked by biology and ecology to non-human life, and when humans harm other life forms, they harm us all, not just physically and emotionally but also ethically and spiritually.

Our best science shows that the economic course that humanity is currently pursuing will—left unchecked and unreformed—result in drastically altered ecosystems and catastrophic events far worse than we are already witnessing and enduring around the world.

I believe in Canadian sovereignty and mourn its sacrifice at the altar of globalism via the TPP and previous cross-border deals, increasingly crafted in secrecy from voters but not from special interests, including lobbyists.

TPP silence (And, if I speak as fast as the speed of light, I can also include) I believe Bill C51’s acceptable features are far outweighed by its potential to silence dissent, invade privacy and crush ethical whistle-blowers and animal advocates like myself as “terrorists.”

Amen.

It’s (barely) do-able. Perhaps, in the capable hands of the folks who produced the Book of Common Prayer version of the Apostles’ Creed, mine could be reduced to one minute, articulated without rushing. Until that happens, I’ll zip along as fluently as I can, and rely on answering questions – I’ll have 30 seconds for each! – to elaborate on my world vision.

Thank you for speed reading for the most crucial of causes: animals and the environment.

 

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I’m running for Parliament to shout out Inconvenient Truths

For all the electioneering chatter about the environment and about greening Canada, there’s a huge element missing in the discussion and the political pledges—the inconvenient truth about animals and factory farming. I’m running for Parliament in the upcoming October 19th elections to tell those truths, and to speak out on behalf of animals.

animal rights correct human wrongs

Have you, too, ever wondered why even green-oriented politicians avoid or (at best) give glancing attention to the 650 million farmed animals slaughtered every year? Do they take their direction from former American Vice-President Al Gore, whose wildly influential documentary An Inconvenient Truth omitted to flag methane as the single greatest contributor (18%) to global greenhouse gas emissions and also failed to urge us to eat less meat as a way to save the planet?

Poppyo and I at vigil Jan. 2013the-horrors-of-factory-farming-21349353Why did Gore do that? In trying to figure out how such a convincing environmentalist could betray his own mission, I imagined a conversation in which Bill Clinton, whose near-fatal heart attacks had by then converted him into a vegan, grilled his friend and colleague Al Gore on that very issue.

Bill Clinton: Let’s talk about the illogic of claiming to be a Green Guy who cares about the environment when you don’t even mention animals! Sure, you laid it on thick about the other major villains—fossil fuels, the destruction of the world’s forests, and so on—and you challenged people to make small personal changes that would add up to big differences to stop climate change. And you called it a moral issue, not a political one. But you left out the mother of all inconvenient truths—the human treatment of animals and what that’s done to the environment.

Hey, don’t shrug your shoulders! You know the facts as well as I do. (He scrolls quickly on his tablet.) Just to refresh your memory: Factory farming is a major generator of greenhouse gases. Let me put it even more starkly. Sixty-five percent of human-related nitrous oxide comes from manure, and has 296 times (that’s 29,600%!) times the Global Warming potential of Co2. And factory farms account for 34 percent of all human-induced methane—Can’t you just smell those toxic cow farts?—and methane is 23 times (or 23,000%!) as warming as CO2! Then there’s the ammonia, most of which comes from these same factory farms. Besides the agony it causes the animals who are forced to breathe it in every day of their short lives, that ammonia is also responsible for widespread human illness, including respiratory disease.

Canada factory farm cow               Baby cow killed for cheeseloverCanada factory farm hamburger

Shall I go on? How about the irony that 33 percent of the world’s global arable land is devoted to producing crops to feed animals that are raised to be killed and eaten?

Al Gore: Stop! You know why I glossed over all that, Bill. It was a strategic decision. I figured that if I could convince people that climate change is a looming disaster but assure them that they can fight back against it by making small changes in their behaviour, then maybe they’d do it. But asking people to drive a hybrid car and to turn off the lights is a far cry from asking them to urge their government to make drastic changes to the way their food is produced. Come on, Bill. You’ve always told me to watch out that the agro-industrial lobby doesn’t clobber me and to make sure that I keep my eye on the pulse of the people, who are every bit as carnivorous as I am!

Bill Clinton: Sighs. You’re right, Al. How could you ask government to take on corporations like McDonald’s and all the other fast food outlets that are such wonderful customers of factory farmed animals?

kfc-scary-photo-3That imaginary conversation contains several Truths, all of them about political expediency and will. The thought of promoting the most Inconvenient Truth of all is so daunting that even the greenest-oriented political parties dismiss it, leaving it to Canada’s tiniest party – the Animal Alliance/Environment Voters Party – to enter the political fray with the most urgent message of all.

I am carrying that message to voters in my riding, and that message is resonating. Everywhere I go, people stop to encourage me and, often, to tell me stories about their personal epiphanies about factory farming. I’m winning! I won’t win a seat in Parliament, but I’m winning the battle to force the winners to confront my Inconvenient Truths.

When you go to vote, don’t vote for me,” I tell my audience at political rallies and meetings. “Vote, instead, for Canada’s millions of farmed animals, for animals tormented and trapped in useless laboratories, for our wildlife, our endangered species, our domestic animals, our marine animals. On voting day, remember that an X beside my name is a promise to millions of animals that finally, someone is speaking out for them and is committed to protecting them and to preserving the environment they share with us.”

AAEV Elizabeth Abbott 2

 

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WHEN GOOD RESCUE WORK EQUALS EMPTY CAGES….

In the relentless battle to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome lost, abandoned or owner-surrendered dogs and cats, the Frontier Animal Society in Quebec’s Eastern Townships is a success story. Placing animals in forever homes is at the heart of their mission, and hundreds of once-homeless dogs and cats now live comfortable lives with loving families.

That’s wonderful news, but it means that sometimes the shelter has empty dog stalls. What better use to make of them than to fill them with homeless dogs from outside their immediate neighbourhood, needy dogs their rescue network promotes and seeks help for? Many of these dogs, most of them young and docile, come from First Nation communities in Eeyou Istchee aka James Bay, where life isn’t easy for canines and can be abruptly terminated in cyclical culls.

In the North, the best stray dogs can hope for from most humans is indifference, but disdain and outright dislike are much more common. Northern dogs must rely on their own resources, and it’s survival of the fittest. Even in sub-zero winter temperatures they have no shelter, and at all seasons they eat what they can scavenge, often going days without food. Because there are no veterinarians to spay or neuter them, they reproduce prolifically. And, because they are not vaccinated, some carry diseases that alarmed humans fear they will spread to other animals and to humans.

When a community decides it is overrun with dogs, or when packs of dogs have either attacked humans or are suspected of harboring contagious disease, the usual procedure is to announce a “dog-shoot,” when dogs not identified as someone’s property are shot.

2015-08-06-1438883545-4560168-BamBam.jpg

BamBam, a Northern dog

But recently, dog-shoots are being replaced as the usual solution to these problems. After much time and effort devoted to create trusting and respectful relationships with them, several First Nation communities now turn to outside groups they invite to “extract” or remove large numbers of dogs who are then transported and adopted out in the South, and to spay, neuter and vaccinate as many of the remaining dogs as they can.

Among these groups is Sarah Saintsbury and her Forever Homes Rescue, which community representatives have repeatedly invited to “extract” large numbers of dogs to be taken South to enjoy new and easier lives. Several times a year since 2010, Forever Homes volunteers make the long trek up to Eeyou Itschee, a grueling trip in any season and even worse in winter, when they have to drive through snow storms and over icy, rutted roads in a caravan of trucks filled with empty crates that will soon transport dozens of lucky dogs to safety.

Forever Homes, the source of the Frontier Animal Society’s Northern dogs, adheres strictly to the protocols mandated by the local community Band Council. These protocols include letters of permission, advance notice to community members by way of radio, local newspaper and public posts throughout the community weeks prior to arrival, escort by Public Security Officers at all time throughout the extraction period and owner surrender forms for those giving up their animals to rescue. Any dog picked up in error is neutered and vaccinated, and then returned to its owner.

As soon as the truckloads of crated dogs reach home, the Frontier Animal Society and other rescues open their doors and hearts to the Northern dogs. Many are timid and fearful in their strange new world, but it takes very little time for them to respond to the comfort of their spacious stalls and exercise runs and – most remarkable of all – reliable supplies of nourishing food and water. Before long they are eagerly welcoming the volunteers who evaluate, groom, train and socialize them into the eager-to-please and loving dogs whose adoptive families almost universally rave about their great good natures and adaptability. As FAS volunteer Caroline Kemp observes, “Despite being born into such harsh conditions, these dogs just want what every dog wants: love and companionship.”

2015-08-06-1438883584-1348869-MeeganFAS.jpg

Meegan, a kindly Northern dog

To date the Frontier Animal Society has taken in nearly three dozen Northern dogs, including pregnant dams and their litters. One trusting nursing mother even led her rescuers to the hole in the ground where she had hidden her puppies, who then joined her on the road trip to safety.

Gentle Jenny, whom Kemp remembers as “an incredibly sweet German Shepherd Dog mix,” was rescued in the fall of 2014 and days later, gave birth to a litter of ten healthy puppies. Three weeks later, Jenny and her pups arrived at the FAS, her first real “home.” At first Jenny shied away from people, “but we could see how desperately she wanted to settle in and be loved,” Kemp says. “And though she was a wonderful and patient mother, Jenny was so tired! As soon as we could, we weaned her pups from her so she could take some well-deserved time for herself.”

2015-08-06-1438883614-7422888-JennyFAS.jpg

Jenny, mother of ten healthy puppies

The pups were quickly adopted, some of them reserved for approved families even before they had been weaned and could leave the shelter. Finally Jenny, estimated to be between four to six years old, could recuperate from the travails of her past and of motherhood. She was also spayed, because the FAS promotes sterilization, “the best way to prevent overpopulation of cats and dogs,” as a key feature of its mission.

2015-08-06-1438883651-9122981-JennyFASwithfamily.jpg

Jenny with her human family

The FAS began to interview applicants to adopt Jenny. The family chosen includes two young boys who adore their new companion, and Jenny reciprocates their affection. She loves to play ball, her people report, she loves to be brushed, and she is very friendly with other dogs. Like so many of her fellow Northern dogs, Gentle Jenny has overcome her rocky beginnings to embrace life as a cherished family dog, and as an ambassador for all those Northern dogs who will be transported South to seek their fortunes with families just like hers.

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DOGS (AND CATS) WITHOUT BORDERS: FRONTIER ANIMAL SOCIETY

The Frontier Animal Society in Quebec’s Eastern Townships was selling my book, Dogs and Underdogs: Finding Happiness at Both Ends of the Leash to raise money, and I was invited to speak about the healing power of dogs. But before the event, I wanted to visit the shelter I’d heard so much about for so many years.

Becky

Becky

It was Sunday morning, and though I arrived early, several volunteers were already busy exercising and training the dogs. Just a few minutes into my visit, I had to beg Brenda Pratscher, the dog-walker and adoption co-ordinator, not to allow me to adopt Becky, the waggiest, gentlest senior dog. Later, visiting the Cat Room, I added another creature to my list: dear old Max, the fifteen-year-old cat who gazed fixedly at me, begging to be noticed. I had come only to observe, document and support. But other visitors were there to adopt, and I was lucky enough to witness a mother and her daughter’s second meet-and-greet with cocker spaniel Tina, whom they were carefully considering as a permanent addition to their home.

The meet-and-greet, out in the exercise yard, was informal. For Tina, rescued from a wretched life as a breeder in a puppy mill, it was a non-threatening romp outside with gentle people as fellow canine residents of the shelter raced up and down beside her. Tina was a glossy black dog, cautious but playful and as gentle as her new human companions. I liked them at first sight, and applauded the sentiment and humour displayed on the daughter’s tee-shirt” “Sorry I can’t, I have plans with my cat.”
Just imagine that only months ago, Tina was imprisoned in a soulless and uncaring dog breeding factory farm, one of the puppy mills that is a blight on the province of Quebec, and the focus of so many dedicated animal activists. But under the patient care of the Frontier Animal Society’s dynamic volunteers, Tina no longer cringed with fear. Instead, she wagged her tail trustingly, knowing she was among friends.

On my way to the shelter’s housing unit I passed a statuesque German Shepherd Dog in training with a volunteer who used my presence to reinforce the No Jumping on People lesson. “Good job!” her trainer exclaimed, and was rewarded with the waving of a fluffy tail.

Inside the shelter, a dozen dogs crowded the front of their outdoor runs to greet me, and I spent a few minutes with each one. It was as I gazed into old Becky’s soft eyes that I demanded – urgently – that nobody permit me to walk away with her. But I wasn’t leaving her in a sad concrete bunker like so many other shelters. Frontier Animal Society is modest but open and sunny, surrounded by trees and foliage, and the dogs inhale real country air and glimpse wildlife on a daily basis. Add to that the core complement of three volunteers, Brenda, Dominique Simon and Caroline Kemp, reinforced by a few more on weekends, and the resident dogs aren’t badly off, though life with a family of their own would be much more fulfilling.

Dominique Simon with Babe, adopted from the Frontier Animal Society

Dominique Simon with Babe, adopted from the Frontier Animal Society

2015 Dog Walk

2015 Dog Walk

In the building’s core, I saw vast heaps of laundry – “cat stuff” – bedding and soft nesting fabric kept clean by volunteers who maintain a routine of endless laundry cycles.

There are also two quarantine rooms where incoming felines undergo blood work and temperament testing. They are distinguished from the general population by the yellow collars that signify their veterinary status. But many hate their collars and remove them, and are identified by name. Once they graduate, they enter the Cat Room, a delightful and sunny room exposed, like the dog runs, to the sights and sounds of nature. In winter, when the mercury plunges, heated panels are installed on the windows, warming the frigid space.

But the cats aren’t confined to the Cat Room. They have free range of the laundry room as well, and several of them enjoy overseeing volunteers as they operate the industrial-size washing machine and wash the mountain of stainless steel dog food and water dishes. “For the health of the colony,” chief volunteer Brenda Pratscher says, “the number of cats should not go over twenty.  So before we can accept more, we have to find homes for the cats we have.”

Last year (2014), Pratscher told me, the Frontier Animal Society had an excellent record: one hundred and one animals adopted out, including ninety-three dogs and eight cats. Only four dogs were returned and all four were subsequently adopted out again, successfully.

And how many in 2015?. And what about Tina? I inquired a week after my first visit. My question evoked a great sigh of happiness. “Yes, Tina went off to her forever home a few days ago.”

I checked my notes. “And so that makes how many adoptions this year?”

“Tina was the thirty-fourth out of thirty-five dogs and four cats. Next week, who know? But it’s a slow and steady process, because placing our animals in forever homes is at the heart of our mission.”

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July 14, 2015 · 4:25 pm
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