Thursday, May 28, 2015

Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline

Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline
 Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM 

In response to a growing demand to assist the public with damage and conflicts caused by wildlife, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services Program and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries have collaborated to develop the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline.  The Helpline is a toll-free service intended to provide a single source of consistent, expert technical assistance, education, and referrals to callers experiencing human-wildlife conflicts.  The Helpline is staffed by wildlife specialists who are able to help the caller identify wildlife damage and recommend solutions.   The Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline is available at 1-855-571-9003 and is staffed Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM, except for federal holidays.   Because the Helpline is not intended to be an emergency number, it is not monitored after hours, but callers are able to leave a voice mail which will be returned during the next business day.

If you would like any additional information about the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline, please contact Jennifer Cromwell via email or phone at the number provided below.

Jennifer Cromwell
Assistant State Director
USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services
PO Box 130
Moseley, VA  23120
(804) 739-7739  office

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

McAuliffe signs shelter bill that PETA opposed

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed a bill that a lobbyist for PETA feared could shut down the group's Norfolk shelter.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, who said he was upset by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' high euthanasia rate. The bill tweaks a state law that defines private animal shelters, clarifying that their purpose is to find permanent adoptive homes for animals. A lobbyist for PETA emailed lawmakers asking them to oppose it.
The bill passed each chamber with little opposition.
PETA issued a statement Wednesday saying its Norfolk shelter "has always operated to find adoptive homes and will continue to do so as stated in Senate Bill 1381."
Stanley said he's hopeful PETA will take steps to reduce its high kill rate. If it doesn't, it could be considered noncompliant with the law and lose access to euthanasia drugs.
“Time is going to tell whether they change not only in attitude but in action," he said.

Dogs on the Inside at the Byrd Theatre April 18, 2015 1:30 PM Tickets $10.00 at the door

See the trailer for this film here
Proceeds to Benefit Gracie's Guardians and Ring Dog Rescue

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Year in Review and a Big Thank You!

Every once in a while you get those folks who challenge your integrity or question what you do.  As someone who has dedicated over a decade to helping animals, educating the public, and advocating, I find there is no better way than to share our numbers, experiences and goals.

2014 was a difficult year for many, while the country is still digging itself out from recession, many grants have been cut in the animal welfare field.  It is up to the individual organization to keep charging through, with help from their faithful followers, devoted volunteers, and donors.

In 2014 Ring Dog Rescue accomplished many many things, here are a few...

Popsicles for Pups a kennel enrichment program run and funded entirely by RDR and its volunteers, made and gave out frozen enrichment treats weekly at Richmond Animal Care and Control, Heritage Humane Society, and Powhatan Animal Control.  This program is being started at Chesterfield Animal Services in March of 2015.

Cats... Ring Dog Rescue doesn't have cats! No, we do not take in cats to our program, but we like all animals and species and do love the kitties.  In 2014 Ring Dog Rescue provided habitats for 5 feral colonies, and spayed, neutered, vaccinated, and ear-tipped 50 feral cats in the Greater Richmond Area.

Outreach is a big part of what we do!  While we would love for all our furry friends to live indoors be healthy, happy companions, we know that many folks just aren't having it.  While our purpose is to assist the community to become more healthy and humane, we have chosen to not judge folks for their not wanting the dog inside, but instead to forge relationships and provide services for the dog(s), all the while educating their owners and shaping a healthier community.  In 2014, RDR and its volunteers provided over 30 dog houses to those in need.  Gave out over 10,000 lbs. of kibble to owned animals.  Built over 10 new habitats, getting over 20 dogs off of chains.  And spayed, neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, and heartworm tested over 150 owned pit bull type dogs in the Greater Richmond community.

Adoption is one of the core reasons Ring Dog Rescue came to fruition.  It is our intention to transfer in at risk pit bull type dogs and of course some Low Riders too, into our program.  Then get these animals medically sound, and behaviorally fit.  Then place them into the proper home.  While some dogs may stay in our program an extended period of time, others get healthy and adopted more quickly.  Each dog is given the tools needed for success. In 2014, Ring Dog Rescue transferred in 89 dogs and did 87 adoptions.  That is 89 dogs who may have been otherwise euthanized, as 90% of our intake were medically unfit for adoption through a jurisdictional shelter.

Fundraising is an important part of rescue, as we all know without funding you can't go very far.  It was mentioned earlier that many grants have dried up.  We would like to take this opportunity to Thank Maddie's Adoption Days for their generous grant of over $10,000 and The Virginia Federation of Humane Societies for their generous $1000 donation.  We would also like to share that in 2014 Ring Dog Rescue spent more than $90,000 dollars on medical care for animals both in our program and owned.  If you do the math that is a $79,000 plus difference, and we would personally like to Thank all of our fantastic volunteers who spent their time and effort to raise these additional funds and more.  We would also like to Thank all of the individual donors, those who bought a T-shirt or a piece of merchandise, or donated their time to just help.

In addition we would like to Thank all of the families who have opened their homes to foster the dogs in our program, without you we could not have helped the over 1000 (yes one thousand) pit bull type dogs we have rescued, rehabilitated, and re-homed in the last 10 years.

A super big Thank You is also needed for the support we receive from our medical providers.  Farmers Veterinary Hospital has been RDR's primary care veterinarian since the beginning in 2004, Thank You Dr. Teague and his staff for always being there for the dogs in our program.  Virginia Veterinary and Surgical Associates, have kept our dogs in top notch orthopedic health, performing all necessary surgeries, Thank You Dr. Barnes and staff.  Prevent-A-Litter, Barron's Surgery, and the Animal Resource Foundation, have all help us spay and neuter thousands of animals over the years and we Thank You for your commitment to reducing the pet population and working towards healthier communities at a reasonable low-cost rate, we applauded you for your dedication.  We are not trying to leave anyone out here, and we like to be sure that everyone knows how grateful we are, Thank You!!!

We hope that 2015 is an even better year!  We are getting off to a great start.  We will be setting up Popsicles for Pups at Chesterfield Animal Services, be donating Kuranda beds to Goochland Animal Control, continuing our Shelter Adopt! Program, The Dog House Project, and many more all while continuing to foster the many many loving dogs in our program.

Thank You and we hope you remember that rescue is more than just adoption, it is working towards a more humane community.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Herring Creates Nation's First Attorney General's Animal Law Unit

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

900 East Main Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

For media inquiries only, contact:
Michael Kelly, Director of Communications
Phone: (804)786-5874

RICHMOND (January 22, 2015)-- Attorney General Mark R. Herring today announced the designation of the nation's first Attorney General's "Animal Law" unit, a small group of current staff attorneys who will spend a portion of their time, as needed, serving as a resource for local law enforcement and state agencies on issues involving animal welfare and animal fighting or abuse. Because of the specialized and relatively infrequent nature of cases involving animal welfare, many prosecutors and law enforcement agencies seek assistance from the Office of Attorney General in effectively investigating and prosecuting these cases. The power to initiate an investigation or prosecution will remain with local agencies, but the Animal Law unit will be available to provide assistance or handle a case by request from a commonwealth's attorney or law enforcement agency.

"We've seen firsthand in Virginia that animal fighting is associated with other serious crimes such as drug distribution, possession of illegal alcohol or firearms, assaults, and illegal gambling," said Attorney General Herring. "There's also evidence that abuse of animals or exposure to animal abuse, especially by young people, can be predictive of future abusive or criminal behavior. Our attorneys often serve as a training and prosecutorial resource for commonwealth's attorneys working complex or specialized cases such as gang crimes, internet crimes, or complex drug cases. This unit won't replace or undermine local law enforcement decisions on whether to investigate or prosecute, but it will formalize the delivery of training and assistance our office already provides for communities who confront situations involving animal fighting, abuse, or neglect."

The team will be led by Michelle Welch, an assistant attorney general with nine years of service whose work on animal-related cases has earned her numerous accolades including the Humane Law Enforcement Award from the Humane Society of the United States, the Albert Schweitzer Medal from the Animal Welfare Institute, the Prosecutor of the Year Award from the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and awards from the Virginia Animal Control Association and Virginia Federation of Humane Societies.

"Over the past twenty years, there has been a growing realization that cruelty toward animals is a criminal act that cannot be tolerated in a civilized society. All of the evidence shows a very direct link between animal cruelty and violence against women and children," said Anthony Spencer, Caroline County Commonwealth's Attorney. "As the Commonwealth's Attorney of Caroline County, I have relied on Michelle Welch on many occasions to help me in navigating Virginia's laws regarding animals and in prosecuting serious charges of dog fighting and animal cruelty. Her knowledge in these areas is unparalleled, and she is widely regarded throughout the Commonwealth as 'the expert' on understanding and enforcing Virginia's animal laws. Michelle has also been the person most responsible for drafting changes to our animal laws to make them more effective. Our Attorney General, the Honorable Mark R. Herring, is to be commended for his efforts in enforcing Virginia's animal laws and in ensuring that Michelle Welch will be available to assist local prosecutors throughout the Commonwealth with cases of dog fighting and animal cruelty."

As their first project, the unit has partnered with the Humane Society of the United States to send a letter and fact sheet to Virginia pet stores on important consumer rights involving the purchase of animals, including new rights created by Bailey's Law, which was sponsored by Sen. Chap Petersen and signed into law in 2014. The law helps ensure that customers have complete and accurate information about the health and history of a dog or cat before purchase and gives consumers recourse if an animal is later found to have significant, undisclosed health problems. Within certain specified time periods, if an animal is sold and subsequently determined by a veterinarian to suffer certain illnesses, or if the animal dies from an undisclosed health problem, the consumer has the right to return the animal for a refund, exchange the animal for a healthy one, or keep the animal and recover the costs of veterinary fees up to the original purchase price. A consumer can take legal action to recover damages if a retailer fails to honor the remedies in the law.

"The decision to bring an animal into the family, whether by adoption or purchase, is a big one, and consumers have the right to make an informed decision when they decide to add a companion animal to their household," said Attorney General Herring. "Though many Virginians may choose to adopt, these important new provisions will protect consumers purchasing pets, those who sell pets, and animals that will one day go to the home of a Virginia family."

In November, Attorney General Herring teamed up with the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and the ASPCA for a statewide Law Enforcement Conference on Combating Animal Fighting in Virginia. The event trained nearly 100 prosecutors, police officers, and sheriffs' deputies on the tools they need to identify and investigate animal fighting, strategies for building a case against suspected animal fighters, and tactics for successfully prosecuting animal fighting cases.

Attorney General Herring's office recently worked with the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Tim Heaphy to prosecute the operators of one of the largest cock fighting rings in the region. Five individuals were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 6 months to 1.5 years in addition to fines for their roles in operating a cock fighting ring in Virginia and Kentucky.

Friday, December 5, 2014

How Do You Spell LOVE... T-I-M-E

How do you spell love…T-I-M-E.  Relationships are not built overnight.  They take time.  So why do we always want to rush the relationship with a new dog?  Yet, it never ceases to amaze me how many people decide to adopt a dog and within the first week have to take it out and show it off before the dog even trusts them!   Then when the dog does not react well to an unfamiliar situation with unfamiliar people, the potential adopters return the dog rather then regroup and start over.
It takes at least two weeks for a dog to get comfortable in a new environment and to begin to trust his new human(s).  If we take the time to lay the foundation of the relationship we are rewarded with a lifetime of love, dedication, and obedience.  But just like any other relationship in our lives we cannot expect that to develop overnight.  It takes time, patience, and trust.

So before you decide to adopt a dog think about your expectations and ask yourself a few questions:  Are they realistic?  What are your demands and what are my preferences (i.e. demand – the dog must be housebroken; preference – I would like my dog to learn to play dead)?  Are you ready to take responsibility for a living creature for 10+ years no matter what (that means even when things and times get hard)?  If not, please spare the dog the disruption.   It is a huge disruption to the dog and their routine for someone to agree to take a dog on a trial adoption and not even give it the full week.  For that reason I ask you to please make sure you can give it at least a week before making any decisions, and if you cannot commit to seven days don’t move forward.  Wait until you are ready.