Supporting Black Owned Businesses In the Pet Industry: Part Two.

Last week, I wrote a post highlighting some amazing Black owned businesses in the pet industry for you to like, follow and financially support. Today, I would like to share more amazing businesses:

Beaux and Paws: Founder and Owner, Sir Darius Brown, is a 13 year old Entrepreneur (yes, 13) who makes hand made bow ties and donates them to shelters around the US to help dogs get adopted. I don’t think I could love him more if I tried. If you need me, I’ll be very patiently waiting for some bow ties to come back into stock. @sirdariusbrown

Pet Parent Allies: Owner, Curtis Kelly, is a positive reinforcement dog trainer based out of Philadelphia. Along with working with other people’s dogs, Curtis is also a dog dad to two super cute dogs, Dochas and Vista. Not in Philly but want to work with Curtis? Well, he offers virtual online training. I think I need to look into some classes for Max and his excessive barking and Dolly’s lack of recall. @petparentallies

Brixxy & Co: Owner and Maker, Alissa Maree, makes the cutest hand made bandanas that were inspired by her super cute pup, Brixxy Bordeaux. I’m just trying to decide and narrow down which ones I want to order because they are all so adorable. @brixxyandco

Simply Sage Dog Treats: Owner, Chole Clark, makes all natural and plant based treats and herbal paw balms for dogs with allergies, mild medical conditions and sensitive stomachs. Given Dolly’s allergies and how much of a mess her paws are at times, I’m definitely looking into the Calming Paw Balm for Dolly. @simplysagedogtreats

Enjoy-A-Bowl: Owner and Veterinarian, Joe J. Owens, created Enjoy-A-Bowl after seeing many patients of his getting sick because of their diet. Enjoy-A-Bowl works by placing good smelling food in the bottom tray, then placing your dog’s food on top and uses a divder to separate the two. The bottom food’s aroma helps to stimulate your pet’s appetite. It’s perfect for picky eaters, diabetic pets, pets on prescription diets, pancreatitis or hanging you pet’s obesity. I think I might purchase a few for the animal rescue organization I volunteer for. @enjoyabowl_products

Little L’s Artisan Dog Treats: Owner, Lenny Forde, makes the freshest of treats with all locally sourced ingredients. And to ensure top quality control, all treats are tested out by his two adorable pups, Lulu and Lilly. I know my dogs drool whenever I eat waffles, so I know the Woofles (dog waffles), would be major hit with them. @littlesnyc_dog_treats

East New York Dog Lovers Inc: Founder, Maria, created East New York Dog Lovers to help families and individuals diagnosed with an illness, facing homelessness or hardship to avoid permanent separation from their pets. She helps provide a positive experience to people facing difficult times. @enydoglovers_1

BlackDVM Network: Founder, Tierra Price, created the BlackDVM Network to help connect Black veterinarians, nurses, technicians, and clients across the nation. Their mission to help create a safe place for veterinary professionals and help promote diversity in vet medicine. @blackdmvnetwork

I hope you all enjoyed reading! If you have any other businesses you would like me to feature, let me know.

At the end of the day, it’s important to keep conversations going and remember that the pet industry is for everyone!

Why Trap, Neuter, Return Programs Are Needed.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but it’s the start of the new year and have a number of things I want to write about.

The first one is a topic that seems to be a contentious one, and that is trap, neuter, return programs for feral cats. These are cats that will never be house cats as they don’t allow themselves to handled, touched or hide from humans.

Right now, there over 60,000 (yes, you read that correct) feral cats in the city of Edmonton. Cats can become pregnant as young as four months of age and can produce 20,000 kittens in just five years if left un-spayed. These cats also can and do because a public nuisance for many people.

That is where trap, neuter, release programs some into play.

What is a trap, neuter, return program? It’s exactly what is sounds like. Cats are humanly trapped, neutered by vets and then release back to where they were found.

As mentioned, TNR are not programs that everyone seems to support. There are many people who feel that the situation can be “handled by mother nature”, which is like saying “I legit don’t care if cats die”. People also think it’s cruel to release feral cats back to where they were found. It’s actually more cruel to attempt to try and house an animal that is terrified of people.

While there are two programs currents offered by the city, it’s not enough. Not enough spay and neuters are done at a high enough rate to help the current problem with the cat population. There was a recent story by the CBC that talks about this specific issue HERE.

That’s why it’s important to support initiatives put forth by the Edmonton Feral Cats Advocate group and signing the petition for The City of Edmonton Needs a High TNR Cat Program.

By supporting programs such as this, you can make the difference in the life of the feral cat population and help take the massive stress off of rescues who work tirelessly to help cats in the city.

Compassion Fatigue and Animal Rescue

Animal rescue is hard. Often people in animal rescue see and deal with the worst of humanity.

People involved in animal rescue are often faced with negative (and very often) unwarranted criticism over policies in place, hate thrown their way for decisions made, and in some cases, threats (against animals and towards those involved with rescue organizations).

Social media tends to amplify this.

Recently, a rescue got attacked and threatened online after euthanizing a dog that had attacked (unprovoked) four different trainers. The rescue was in a no-win situation – do they put down a dog they’re trying to rescue that has a history of biting its handlers, or adopt it out knowing there was a significant risk it will bite it’s new family? – and made the right choice in not adopting out that dog despite their best efforts.

Rescues have been accused of “stealing” animals. I have seen people go on to a rescue’s social media page to leave negative reviews and spread false information about that rescue.

I have seen rescues attack other rescue organizations for policies or being open and transparent about vet bills only to be called “irresponsible”. The adoption process in place “takes too long” and to some people “it’s easier to adopt a child” (even though that’s not even remotely true).

We waited months to adopt Dolly. It was worth the wait.

I have seen people say that a rescue “must be rich” when thanking donors for donations.

It should be no surprise that every once in a while, people in rescue reach a breaking point and feel the need to vent about situations online. That is usually when that rescue gets told from people to “stop being so negative” and “focus on educating instead of venting”.

This is where compassion fatigue comes in for people involved in rescue.

What is compassion fatigue?

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary describes compassion fatigue as “the physical and mental exhaustion and emotional withdrawal experienced by those who care for sick or traumatized people over an extended period of time” and “apathy or indifference toward the suffering of others as the result of overexposure to tragic news stories and images and the subsequent appeals for assistance”.

Sounds a lot like being in animal rescue, doesn’t it?

What happens to people experiencing compassion fatigue?

Anger, sadness, anxiety, depression and in some cases, suicide.

I have seen people start in animal rescue because they want to help out animals go from being a consistently positive person to someone who lashes out online all of a sudden. I have seen people become so completely overwhelmed by everything they see and deal with that they need to go on medication and regularly see a therapist (which I personally do). I have seen people who had to walk away from animal rescue completely because it became too much for them (mentally, emotionally and physically).

There are many people in different professions and roles (such as caregivers) who experience compassion fatigue. And sadly, seeing constant awful news online doesn’t help with anything.

So what can you do if you are the one who might be experiencing compassion fatigue?

Reach out for help. Ask volunteers to help take on some of the tasks that you do (such as get someone else to manage social media for a bit). Remember, you can not do this alone or all by yourself, and a team effort is always more beneficial than trying to be a one person show.

This is a tough one to do but, take breaks. I realize it’s easier said than done but this is where asking for help comes in. Take a couple of days to yourself and only give your number to the volunteer(s) you put in charge for emergencies only. Log off of the social media accounts for a bit or as stated above, get another volunteer to run them for you.

Once again, easier said than done but, learn to say no. There is honestly only so much of yourself to give. If you are running on empty, how can you possibly help? There may come times where you need to take a step back and realize that you are running at capacity and can not take in any more animals. And that is ok! It’s better for a rescue to realize their limits than get completely overwhelmed.

I can not recommend talking to a therapist enough. Like anything, it could be trial and error to find a therapist who works for you, but I found it helpful to see a therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioural therapy. And if you find you are still struggling, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for medication.

What advice can I give to people reading this who are not involved in animal rescue?

I ask that before you jump online to leave a rescue a one star review because you “never heard back from them”, or leave the director a threatening voice mail because we are full and have no foster home for the dog you are deciding to dump, take a step back. Think. And mostly, have compassion and empathy for those on the front lines of rescue. It’s not easy. And if you think it is, sign up and volunteer and see first hand what rescues deal with.

Muzzle Training and What You Need To Know.

When people see a dog wearing a muzzle, they automatically assume that dog is dangerous, aggressive and is on the same level as Hannibal Lector.

I’ve seen people automatically cross the street while they look over at the owner with shock and fear.

There is a stigma attached to muzzle training when in reality, there should be none, and I’m going to address how and why that’s important today.

So why would someone have their dog wear a muzzle?

The primary reason that people will use a muzzle for their dog is due to them being reactive in certain situations due to pain or becoming extremely stressed and scared.

Vet’s offices can be a place where many dogs feel extremely stressed and if your dog becomes reactive and aggressive while being examined at the vet, they will most often recommend using a muzzle to avoid bites from happening.

This will surprise a number of people reading this, but my dog, Max, has had to wear a muzzle at the vet. While many people think Max is sweet because he’s a smaller breed (Boston Terrier/French Bulldog), he does not like being handled at the vet and has tried to bite the vet examining him on a number of occasions because he’s scared. That doesn’t make him a bad dog or a dog that people should fear. Thankfully the last few times he’s gone in to the vet, there’s been no issue had has not become reactive or aggressive.

I know some people who have chosen to muzzle train their dog in order for their dog to avoid becoming reactive to dogs that run up and try and get in their face. Once again, this is not a sign of a bad dog. It’s an owner who is working on the best possible solution to deal with a fearful and reactive dog. That is a sign of a responsible dog owner.

In some areas, certain breeds are required by law to wear a muzzle in public (despite it being an open discrimination policy towards certain breeds such as pit bulls).

Isn’t is cruel to force your dog to wear a muzzle?

No, it’s not. It’s not the same as something like like a choke, prong or shock collar as it causes no physical pain to them to wear it. It’s keeping your dog safe and avoiding potentially bad situations. While it won’t solve behavioural problems (you will still need to find a qualified and force free trainer for that), it’s a positive step you can take in training your dog.

Yes, Max has had to wear one at the vet, but he was also rewarded with treats and praise for doing so. He actually calmed down after it was on. If I put one on him now, while he wouldn’t enjoy it, he’d be fine.

How do I get my dog to wear one?

The biggest thing with muzzle training (or any kind of training) is to make it positive and not about punishment.

The worst thing you can do is grab your dog and shove their face in it if they have never worn one. That will not invoke a positive reaction and will likely make an agitated and fearful dog even more so.

One of the best things you can do is use treats. Let your dog sniff the muzzle and then reward them with treats. Then try dropping treats into the muzzle and praise your dog if they put their face in the muzzle to get the treats. Do not strap on the muzzle right away the first time after going this though as that could create fear.

Once your dog has associated putting their face in the muzzle and being rewarded with treats, that is when you can start to secure the straps of the muzzle while still rewarding with treats and praise. Eventually, your dog will associate their muzzle with positive rewards such as treats and walks.

Muzzles are not to be used for things such as controlling barking (as that will not work), chewing, or a puppy that nips. Those are all behavioural and training issues that you need to address as a muzzle won’t prevent any of those things from continuously happening.

So then next time you see a dog wearing muzzle, there’s no need to judge or be fearful. If anything, be thankful the owner is being responsible and has taken the time to muzzle train their dog.

How You Can Help FARRM

Recently, an animal sanctuary just outside of Edmonton suffered an absolutely tragic event. FARRM (Farm Animal Rescue and Rehoming Movement) had fire that burned down their barn and tragically lost 11 of their animals.

FARRM has been through so much loss in the past few months including losing a sweet blind lamb by the name of Merlin and recently finding out their goat, Cooper, is quite ill. And now, they are dealing with the aftermath of the fire.

So what can you do to help this amazing organization? Donate. As of right now, FARRM needs all the financial help they can get as they not only need to eventually rebuild, but they need to be able to take care of the animals they currently have in care.

The link to donate directly to them can be found HERE.

Please be aware that this is the only legitimate place to donate to as they are not affiliated with any third party sites such a GoFundMe.

There is no amount too small. Every little bit counts towards helping them get back on their feet as they are needed in the community and do so much good.

So let’s work together in memory of Daisy, Mickey, Bear, Madoxx, Annabelle, Plummley, Missy, Diesel, Hamlet, Mortimer and every feral cat and rabbit lost.