The Search Dog Foundation puts more rescued dogs to work rescuing people!  »

Did you want more Search Dog Foundation news? Of course you did, those dogs are awesome! Our friend Mike let us know that two search teams were deployed on Monday, May 23 to Joplin, Mo. to work in the wreckage of the tornado that demolished the area over the weekend.

Check it out: both dogs are “rescued dogs turned rescuers,” and they’re California dogs—Huck comes from the East Bay SPCA, and Jagger from the Haven Humane Society in Anderson (near Redding)—just like Pearl! Huck was too possessive of his toys, and Jagger was “high-energy and ball-driven.” After successful training, Huck now lives with his partner, Oklahoma City firefighter and FEMA Canine Coordinator Brent Koeninger, and Jagger with his partner, Oklahoma City firefighter Jason Smith.

You can keep up with all of SDF’s graduations on the site, where there’s currently a video of Huck at work! Of course this would be more exciting if Huck and Jagger’s work weren’t “finding victims of a natural disaster,” you know? While we are extremely happy to see more proof that rescued dogs are the most deserving dogs, we feel terrible for the people of Joplin and all that they’ve suffered in the past week. Best of luck to Huck and Jagger and their partners in the wonderful work they’re doing. Dogs are seriously the best. SDF Lead Trainer Puis Davern says, “Watching these once cast-off dogs that with training have become life-saving tools fills me with unmitigated pride and a deep humility for this species that can and does do so much for humankind.” You guys, my heart.

Update! As of Tuesday night, Huck and Jagger are home. Jason Smith told SDF that “Brent and I are leaving Joplin now after almost two full days of searching. Our Task Force has completed its work in the area assigned to them and has been released by Command. We are headed home to the severe weather and tornadoes that await us in Oklahoma.” Good luck, teams.

[photo via the Search Dog Foundation. Thanks to Mike for the tip!]


Pearl the search and rescue dog: still amazing!  »

Pearl, the ASPCA dog of the year 2010, was deployed to Japan in March following the massive earthquake and tsunami. They were in the Ofunato City area on the northeast coast, and worked from Mar. 14 to 21. So heroic! The Search Dog Foundation has more information—including videos—on Pearl and her team’s work.

Our friend Mike from Occupied Las Vegas visited the SDF and got to see some training exercises. Very dramatic.

Mike also told us that Pearl was on Wheel of Fortune on Mar. 15 as well (obviously a pre-taped episode). Your Vegansaurus is very sorry not to have reported that so you could’ve watched it, but our SDF/Pearl correspondent was having some internet-access issues during, um, February through April. Ahem. Nevertheless, we are dedicated to bringing you the SDF/Pearl news you need.

And more news! Allyn Lee told us in mid-March that A New Job for Pearl reached its sales goal, so they can sponsor a new dog to undergo the SDF training. Allyn records their progress on their Facebook page, where you can also learn about the other dogs she rescues, including a very special pit bull mix called Vinnie, whom she saved from euthanasia in April. Allyn Lee’s just giving dogs a chance to be great—and look at how great some of them can be! This means that if you haven’t bought a copy of A New Job for Pearl yet, you should; proceeds will continue to sponsor dogs at the SDF. Belated congratulations to Allyn and all the creators of A New Job for Pearl, and thanks to Pearl and her handler Ron Horetski for doing their important work. Also thanks to Mike for the information. We love tips!

[photo courtesy friend-of-Vegansaurus Mike from Occupied Las Vegas!]


Book review: A New Job for Pearl!  »

You remember Pearl
, the ASPCA Dog of the Year 2010; Mike from Occupied Las Vegas told us about her, and her biography that was written by Allyn Lee and illustrated by the students of Connie Forslind’s 2010 second-grade class. Over the holiday, Mike sent me his copy of this book, A New Job for Pearl, to share with all of Vegansaurus!

It’s really simply put together; each page is a different picture drawn by a different kid, generally illustrating the few sentences on it, no fancy margin-work or fonts or anything—the focus is clearly the pictures. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any sample pages online, so I had to photograph a couple for you.

Someone studied the canine form before she drew her shelter dogs!

Pearl’s at work, and deliriously happy.

All the profits from its sale will go toward the $10,000 required to sponsor “the training of a search dog” at the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF). Author Allyn Lee explains that “the standard SDF way involves the sponsor ‘adopting’ a paired handler-dog team. This way it is a sure thing, because the standards these dogs have to meet are remarkable, and SDF wants the sponsor to know that the team has been tested and will put the extensive (and expensive!) training to work.” It’s not guaranteed that the dog they sponsor will be a rescue dog like Pearl, and although SDF offered to direct A New Job for Pearl's money to pay for Pearl's continued training, Lee says she really wanted to help out a newer dog to the program. She says that “SDF will match us with a dog in Northern California so we can meet with the dog initially and continue to stay in contact over time…when we are ready to sponsor.”

What does “ready to sponsor” mean? It means, when they finally have the $10,000 to cover the cost of the program, which they’ll earn by selling all 1,000 copies of the first edition of A New Job for Pearl. It’s only $12.50 with shipping, and Lee says that they still have 120 books left unsold! You guys, they’re so close to their goal. This is where your Vegansaurus says, If you care about rescue dogs, or Search and Rescue dogs, you really should buy this book. Make everyone you know with kids buy this book too, to help enforce the idea that Rescued Dogs Are the Most Deserving Dogs. Aside from which, the illustrations are SO SWEET AND CUTE, and Pearl’s story is such a lovely, happy one. Buy the book! And know your money will go to helping another dog become a hero.

[Thanks to Mike for lending us his book and for being so vigilant on behalf of the dogs of Lied Animal Shelter!]


Paris Hilton, human being, loves Lied Animal Shelter!  »

[photo via
Las Vegas Sun]

Paris Hilton: she has to perform 200 community service, because jail. And she gets to choose where to work off those hours, because—well, she worked a day at Lied Animal Shelter in Las Vegas, and at the end adopted a dog. Aww! An idle rich using some of that endless free time to do something good! Do you think she’ll add to her menagerie in the future exclusively by adopting animals?

Mike from Occupied Las Vegas, our number-one source for Las Vegas animal news, nots that, reputation aside, if “[Paris Hilton] can influence legions of slack jawed gossip zombies not to buy dogs from pet stores then that’s a win. You know, the demographic who fills the shelters with dalmatians and chihuahuas after the release of a popular Disney movie or a Taco Bell commercial. If Bruce Willis would just make ADOPT HARD, the shelters would be empty tomorrow.”

[Pearl—furthest right—with the rest of her team in Haiti. See more photos here!]

Lied Animal Shelter, if you recall, is the home of Crosby and many other potential search and rescue dogs. The ASPCA Dog of the Year 2010 is a search and rescue dog, actually; her name is Pearl, and she was deployed to Haiti to help save lives after the earthquake. Pearl is A HERO*, you guys, and two nice teachers from Rancho Romero School in Alamo, Calif. wrote a book about her. It’s called A New Job for Pearl, and all the profits from its sale are donated to the Search Dog Foundation center in Ojai, Calif. AWWW, YOU GUYS, buy the nice book for your little relations! Then you can explain why no one should ever, ever buy a dog when they can adopt one, because the dogs who don’t get adopted and don’t find good jobs WILL BE MURDERED.

Merry Christmas! Adopt an animal!

*You know “heroine” is going the way of “actress,” right? English allows for gender neutrality, let’s embrace it. Imagine if we still used “authoress” or “poetess”—BARF.

[Thanks to Mike from Occupied Las Vegas for the tips!]


News from Las Vegas: Why adopt Search and Rescue dogs when you can buy them?  »

Mike from Occupied Las Vegas sent a couple of photos of some adorable, adoptable dogs living at Lied Animal Shelter! This is Crosby. He has a 20 percent chance of not being euthanized!

Mike also sent us some information about a new fun way the U.S. government is helping promote dog-breeding! 
He writes,

As you probably know shelter dogs are commonly used in Search and Rescue work. They have been used successfully at Ground Zero, the recent Haiti earthquake, and, oh fuck it, here’s a listIn fact a dog named Sonic was rescued from Lied and is now working with both the Dallas, Texas Fire Department and FEMARecently the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decided to BUY 3,000 dogs from BREEDERS at a cost of $4,000 EACH. On any given day there are an average 260 dogs available for adoption at the Lied “Adoption Bungalows,” many of whom meet the breed, weight, temperament criteria to be a candidate for Search and Rescue testing; 80 percent will not find homes. They euthanize 80 to 100 dogs a day here.

I don’t have to point out the madness of a government agency paying $4,000 for a dog, while cash-strapped municipalities bear the cost of euthanizing clearly qualified animals on the other. I have been unsuccessful in trying to contact DHS to get information on how to submit candidates for their program. Sorry to be such a bummer, but I’m hoping Vegansaurus can use the power of its mighty bully pulpit to help get this changed. I’ll bet Rocket Dog Rescue has a couple of candidates right now too. Sometimes the very qualities that get a dog kicked out of his home, like hyperactivity and obsessive toy-playing, are the very qualities that make a great SAR dog. 

A couple of weeks ago I enlisted the help of a former Department of Defense Navy procurement employee who speaks fluent Governmentese. She located the phone number of the Customs and Border Protection Canine Center in Front Royal, Va. and spoke with Tim Spitler. He stated that although they had used shelter dogs in the past, their legalstaff has stopped the practice of accepting rescue dogs until they can come up with a way to do it legally, because it constitutes a gift to a federal agency.

I’m guessing the shelters would be happy to charge DHS the $4,000 if it would help them satisfy their financial regulations. I was at the Animal Shelter yesterday and there were a half-dozen Lab mixes who met the criteria for the DHS Canine Program. Crosby has the intelligence, high energy and personality to make a great service dog, but the very boldness and hyper-energy that make him such a great candidate freaked out potential adopters.

Lied is a high-kill shelter; 80 percent of these dogs will probably not get adopted.

So what can we do? Obviously, we can contact our government officials to tell them that allowing hundreds of dogs to die every day because of a legal loophole is fucking disgusting. Every patriotic reader can agree to that, regardless of where you stand on animal rights.

Look at all the adorable dogs on Mike’s Flickr page. How many of them could be living the American Dream right now? They should be given the chance to turn their innate qualities into gainful employment, just like everybody else. Why can’t they have it? Would it be so hard to write some kind of shelter dog acquisition policy? Even dog-haters can agree that saving government money is a net positive.

Tell everyone you know about this problem, and get them to contact their officials and representatives, too. If “everyone you know” are all jerks, just send them this photo of Crosby, and ask how many of them think it’s acceptable to let him die because legal issues are complicated. COME ON.

[Send your adoptable/adorable animal photos/stories to Vegansaurus!]

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