Happy 5th Birthday/Adoption Day ABBY!

It was five years ago TODAY that I adopted Abby (lil’ Zoey’s sister) from the Sebastian County Humane Society.  It was one of the most momentous days in my life.  For the small price of $80 I found my best friend.  When I first saw Abby, she was a large, matted, black and gray scruffy dog.

Abby, Adoption Day!

 I was still living in Arkansas and volunteering with the Junior League of Fort Smith; I was on a tour of the local Humane Society with a great group of kids.  I just kept noticing a medium sized dog rubbing her body on the wires of the cage and then licking the bars; she clearly wanted out.  I went in with no intention of getting a dog.  I had lost my first dog, Lady, a few years earlier and that loss was still so fresh and affecting that I didn’t think I would ever get another dog.  But clearly life had a different plan.

I returned to the Humane Society a few more times, and each time the sight of this dog had an unexpectedly large impact on me.  I just couldn’t get her out of my head.  Something inside of me told me that I needed to adopt this dog; I can’t explain it, it was just a strong feeling.  I decided to just jump in, overlooking whatever concerns I might have.  Her name was either going to be Abby or Zoey.  But there was really no choice; she was always an Abby to me.

Abby patiently waiting for me

When I picked Abby up, I walked her out to the parking lot.  I was planning to put her in my car.  After all, what pound dog would know how to get into one?  Instead, Abby just jumped into the driver’s seat and then walked onto the passenger seat.  Clearly, she was quite familiar with the concept of automobiles (as is the case to this day, nothing makes her happier than riding in a car, including sticking her head out the window) and she just wagged her tail all the way to Petco.  And so our adventure began.

I took Abby to get groomed that day and was amazed with what appeared when I came back.  My supposed 25 lb. dog was now just 12 or so.  All her hair was gone, and in its place was a somewhat scared, yet also vibrant, loving and playful animal.

Abby, day 2

Abby has been my sidekick through thick and thin.  My friends all know that I consider Abby (and Zoey for that matter) to be my child but more than anything she is my friend.  She was with me when I bought my first house in Arkansas.  She was with me when I decided to uproot my life and move to Manhattan.  She watched with concern as I began hyperventilating when the Mayflower moving truck pulled out of my driveway in Fort Smith, signifying that I was finally on the fast track to the Big Apple, with no turning back.  She jumped into the car with a huge smile on her face, just like she did outside of the Humane Society, as we took off to drive to New York City.  She was with me every step of the way.  And during those first days in New York, which were filled with concern, wonder and the unknown, she never left my side.  She was a source of strength and constancy that gave me comfort and happiness.  I relished coming home to her jumping on my leg, smiling at me and sitting by my side.

In fact, that’s usually where you can find Abby — by my side.  She is a great cuddler, keeping me warm in the winter.  She is incredibly perceptive, drying my tears (literally licking them) when I’m sad.  She is a friendly, happy presence in my home, running to meet me at the door when I get home, if she isn’t there already, jumping as high as she can as the elevator beeps on its way up.  She is alternately playful and sweet.

Abby and Zoey couldn’t be any more different.  Whereas Zoey is a total extrovert and ham, immediately rushing toward every new person that comes into her life, Abby is reserved and slow to warm to newcomers.  Most people consequently gravitate to Zoey at first blush.  But those who spend a lot of time with the girls always end up falling in love with Abby.    Just last week, someone who’s known both girls for a while but had never spent much time with them, told us that after two straight weeks with them, he “really loves” Abby and commented repeatedly on how good a dog she is.  Abby’s dignity, sweetness and obedience grows on everyone she comes into contact with for a lengthy period of time.  She’s simply impossible not to love.

Abby in St. Thomas

All smiles

Interestingly, it’s because of Abby that we even decided to get Zoey.  Abby suffers from intense separation anxiety, pouting deeply when she knows she’s about to be left alone (in a particularly funny episode earlier this year, she ran outside and literally played dead, thinking that might stop me from leaving for dinner).  I thought getting a second dog to spend the day with, sharing the house, would make her less lonely.  That concept started the long process that eventually led us to Zoey.

Abby with her little sister, Zoey

Abby has been with me to Boston, Washington D.C., Detroit, Maine, South Carolina, Memphis, and numerous trips to the Virgin Islands.  She’s become such a great traveler, happily going into her carrier and sleeping when I put her under the airline seat.  Seatmates have commented numerous times that they can’t believe I had a dog with me.  And she so loves the wind, sun and warm weather that it gives me so much pleasure to watch her enjoy the Caribbean during winter.

Abby does D.C.

With Abby you can sense her love and loyalty.  You can watch as she lives each and every day to the fullest.  I want to thank everyone for allowing me this one day to highlight my other dog, my best friend Abby.  I am so grateful to have her in my life and it is just another perfect example why one should adopt their next family member from their local animal rescue.  It was the best thing I have ever done.  Happy 5th Birthday Abby!  XO-L*

Happy 5th Birthday Abby!

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Congrats on being the first….now are the owners going to be charged?

Seventy-three dogs including Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, American Eskimos, Poodles, Beagles, Papillons and Brussels Griffons were rescued by the Humane Society of Missouri on Thursday, July 14th in Monett (Lawrence County) Missouri.

Not enough space :(

This will be the first puppy mill put out of business since the new Canine Prevention Cruelty Act. Missouri’s Attorney General, Chris Koster, promised that this is just the beginning of their efforts to improve Missouri’s dog breeding reputation.

Here are a few of the violations from the inspection reports:

  • Failed to provide adequate veterinary care to animals in medical distress
  • Failed to clean and sanitize the facility
  • Facility allowed excrement in food receptacles and dirty, muddy drinking water.  In some places feces had accumulated to the point it was indistinguishable from the flooring.
  • Failed to keep sick, aged, or young animals in indoor or sheltered housing facilities.
  • No drainage to keep animal waste and water eliminated so the animals stay dry and had shelter
  • The owner routinely used gunshot as a means of euthanasia, also in violation of the law.

    This is how the owner disposed of dogs

An agreement approved July 14 and enforceable under the circuit court, the owner will surrender all animals to the Humane Society of Missouri, surrender her Missouri Department of Agriculture commercial breeder license and will not operate a dog breeding facility for at least the next 6 years.  What we want to know is if the breeder will be criminally charged?  Per this act each violation carries with it a class C misdemeanor.  If Missouri really wants to clean up their reputation as the puppy mill capitol we believe a good start would be to fully enforce the consequences of the act. The rescued animals were taken to the Humane Society of Missouri’s Headquarters for individual veterinary exams and treatment. As soon as they are healthy, as many of them as possible will be made available for adoption.


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Missouri Puppy Mill Legislation Update – Compromise???

The overhaul of Proposition B is now officially law in the state of Missouri.

Compromise? Photo courtesty of St. Louis Today

Governor Jay Nixon signed two bills yesterday.  Bills S.B. 113 and S.B 161 did the following:

  • Maximum fee for operating certain dog facilities was $500 per year and this has increased to a maximum of $2500 per year.  Additional the licensee pays $25/year to go to the Department of Agriculture’s Operation Bark Alert.  Operation Bark Alert is an effort to crack down on unlicensed breeders.
  • Name change from the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act to the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act.
  • Must make veterinarian records and sales records available upon request.
  • The prohibition of anyone having more than 50 dogs for the purpose of breeding was removed.
  • Where the state veterinarian OR an animal welfare official finds that past violations (last 2 years) have not been corrected the Department of Agriculture MAY refer such cases to the Attorney General.  The court can assess up to $1,000/violation
  • Creating of the crime of canine cruelty, a Class C misdemeanor (could be punishable by 15 days in jail and $300 fine).  A second or subsequent offense is a class A misdemeanor (could be punishable by up to 1 year in jail and up to $1,000 fine).
  • If a breeder is licensed under the Animal Care Facilities Act it is a Class A Misdemeanor to stack cages on top of one another without having an impervious layer between the cages.
  • Begins a process to phase-in larger enclosures/cages for dogs and requires “unfettered” (to set free or be unrestricted) access to dogs for an outdoor area.


So Proposition B is no more and many animal groups are declaring a compromise.  I am still confused as to what happened to the the rights of the voters of Missouri.  Governor Nixon stated, “But for the people of the state voting on this, we wouldn’t be here today. Their votes did matter. They fundamentally changed the discussion that was going on in our state.”

More to come as my main concern regarding these two new bills (and all along) will be enforcement of these regulations.  How does the state of Missouri plan to enforce this and how many strikes before you are out?

Meet Zoey's father, rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri


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A true testament of animal loyalty amid Japan’s rubble

Stories like this one remind me of the absolute loyalty and true friendship one can find from an animal. My friend, Jed, forwarded this to me and it brought me to to tears. Since the men commenting on what they’re seeing are speaking Japanese, I obviously don’t know exactly what they’re saying but one doesn’t need a translator to see the protective nature and love shared between this dog and his injured friend.

The dog brings the videographers directly to the sick animal and then protects his sick friend with his paw when he deems their approach a little too aggressive. I was able to get the translation from the video and have posted it below, courtesy of Toshiyuki Kitamura:

“We are in Arahama area. Looks like there is a dog. There is a dog. He looks tired and dirty. He must have been caught in the tsunami. He looks very dirty. He has a collar. He must be someone’s pet. He has a silver collar. He is shaking. He seems very afraid. Oh, there is another dog. I wonder if he is dead. Where? Right there. There is another dog right next to the one sitting down. He is not moving. I wonder. I wonder if he is alright. The dog is protecting him. Yes. He is protecting the dog. That is why he did not want us to approach them. He was trying to keep us at bay. I can’t watch this. This is a very difficult to watch. Oh. Look. He is moving. He is alive. I am so happy to see that he is alive. Yes! Yes! He is alive. He looks to be weakened. We need to them to be rescued soon. We really want them rescued soon. Oh good. He’s getting up. It is amazing how they survived the tremendous earthquake and tsunami. It’s just amazing that they survived through this all.”

Rescue workers pull a small dog from the rubble in Japan - Courtesy of AP

For some your animal is all you may have.

Images like theses make us yearn for a happy ending.

We want to help in any way we can be it in-kind donations, money or volunteering our time. But unfortunately sometimes people can take advantage of videos like these that pull at our heart strings.  We want to make sure that any money given towards animal rescue post-earthquake/tsunami is actually used for the relief efforts.  In the case of this video we are still not sure what has happened to the two dogs or all the money collected by the “rescuer” Kenn Sakurai via his facebook page. We do know that he continues to delete facebook posts that are not to his liking and has indicated that he will return all donations in an interview with Global Animal.

We DO KNOW that there are thousands of animals stuck in the tsunami zone that are in desperate need of help.  These animals are sick and displaced and there ARE reputable organizations that can provide them the care that they need.  Here at ZoeyStory and Protected Paws, we have decided to donate to Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support.  You can find it on Facebook here.

Waiting - courtesty of AP Yomiuri Shimbun

This entity is a coalition of three different animal rescue organizations in Japan that have been rescuing and rehoming animals for many years.  You can donate to them here.

Every little bit helps.  As always at ZoeyStory, we are solely interested in helping those who cannot help or speak for themselves.  And while this story is a bit different from our usual focus on puppy mills, it nevertheless is of both immediate human interest and involves dogs and other animals damaged by this unfathomable tragedy not of their making.

Press reports have rightly focused on the human impacts from the earthquake and tsunami, leaving little time for the plight of animals like the ones in the video we’ve embedded above.  To all animal lovers like us, please do whatever you can to aid and protect those who can’t do so themselves.


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Rally for Alice!

The situation for Alice has not changed.   A Peaceful Rally has been planned on Wednesday, March 16th from 4:00-5:30 PM at the Toombs County Courthouse.

100 Courthouse Square
Lyons, GA


The goal of this rally is to voice your  concerns over Alice and urge Judge John Matheson to follow the law he promised to protect and sign a warrant for a hearing to determine if Delois Hayward is guilty of animal cruelty or neglect.   

As a reminder the dog whose owner refers to her as “it” lived in a disgusting, filthy box for 6 years since she was a puppy.  She slept, stepped,  lived and ate around 6 years of built up feces in a tiny 5 x 8 box made of rotting wood.  
We want to encourage everyone to continue to contact officials in Toombs County!  We were ecstatic to find out that Doug Eaves, the County Manager received over 4500 emails in one day regarding Alice.  Please continue to voice your concerns over the way this dog was treated, the killing of 77 dogs in one day at the Lyons Animal Shelter and this administration’s relaxed attitude towards animal welfare.

Sign the petition

Alice’s Legal Fund

Once again, here’s the list of the officials in Toombs Co. to contact and voice your concerns over the way this dog was treated and their relaxed attitude towards animal welfare.

Mr. Doug Eaves, County Manager
P.O. Box 112
Lyons, Georgia 30436-0112
Phone:  912-526-3311

Magistrate Court of Toombs County
Chief Magistrate John “Chip” Matheson
147 Jerry Avenue
Lyons, GA, 30436
Phone: 912 -526- 8984
Fax: 912-526-8985
Email:  chipmatheson@yahoo.com

Lyons City Mayor’s Office

257 North State Street
Lyons, GA 30436-1364
Phone:  (912) 526-8606 ‎

Sheriff Alvie Lee Knight, Jr.
Phone:  912-526-6778
Hayward Altman, District Attorney
101 S Main St # 2
Swainsboro, GA 30401
Phone:  (478) 237-7846
Paul Threlkeld, Solicitor General
P.O. BOX 1346
Vidalia, GA 30475
Phone: (912) 537-2354
Fax: (912) 537-0900

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More Insanity in Toombs County, GA

During our investigation of Alice, the “dog in the box” we’ve written about twice recently, we came to learn of a different problem in Toombs County, Georgia that also demanded our attention.  On January 20th 2011, ALL OF THE DOGS (approximately 77) at the Lyons Animal Control were euthanized in one day without prior notice.  These dogs, some of which were scheduled to be rescued the very next day, were then thrown into a large pit behind the animal shelter.

77 Dogs killed in one day with no notice

Not surprisingly, the incident has engendered accusations of animal cruelty by animal rights organizations, counter claims by the shelter that it had no choice and yet another black eye for the county.

No one knows all of the details (do they really matter given the outcome?) but the explanation provided at the ensuing Chamber of Commerce meeting by Lyons Public Works Director, Darel Corley, was that, “I cleaned the place.”  Corley is in a position to make such a decision: as Fire Chief, he has direct responsibility for the Lyons Animal Shelter, which is considered part of the Fire Department.  Corley subsequently stated publicly that the decision was made because the shelter was “overrun” with dogs and because he wanted to “start over.”  His newest idea of population control is “at the end of every month, whatever dog they can place, they can place (referring to SOAPS), and we’ll go ahead and euthanize whatever’s left and we’ll go ahead and move to the next month.”

Sounds like an easy enough plan, right?  Unfortunately, according to Holly Reynolds, foster chair at Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society (SOAPS), the local animal rescue organization that typically pulls most of the dogs out of Lyons Animal Control, indiscriminately putting down all animals at every months end would mean that some dogs would be euthanized without regard to when they arrived; animals are required to be in a shelter for 30 days before euthanization becomes an option.

Consider this: If you lived near Lyons, GA and lost your pet within a day or two of the end of a month, if it ended up at the Lyons Animal Control, Corley’s new plan would likely mean your pet would be put down before you had a full chance to find it.  No questions asked, no effort made, nothing.

Adopted Abby

Perhaps worse is the inhumane manner in which these animals were killed.  Nobody is saying which (or whether) veterinarian was on site on January 20th but the license of the attending veterinarian listed on the Lyons Animal Control website, Dr. Chris McRae, expired on 12/31/2010.   In addition, in a 2006 Department of Agriculture report Dr. McRae was cited for not only being unable to properly inject dogs but also for returning the animals to kennels post said faulty injection to “stagger and flop” until they died or another injection was attempted.  These reports also noted that Dr. McRae did not check for pulses (as is legally required) before throwing dogs in a “backhoe bucket” to be buried.

Even more damaging, a former employee at Lyons alleged that in 2010, unauthorized personnel euthanized dogs and that some had been buried before they were dead.  Another informant has come forward indicating he has seen animals beaten before they were killed and that if the Animal Control did not have appropriate medication, the dogs were simply shot.

SOAPS, which partnered with the mayor in 2009 to assist in adoption of as many dogs as possible from the rescue, is demanding answers.  Under its agreement a few years ago, SOAPS agreed to pay for the spaying and neutering of each animal that was adopted,  built the animal shelter new kennels and assisted in the adoption of between 300-400 dogs.  In sum, the organization has spent more than $195,000 assisting this single animal shelter.  Because of these efforts, euthanasia had not been performed between July 2010 and January 19, 2011.

Ms. Reynolds is horrified, stating that “They’re all dead. There were dogs that had just arrived Wednesday that were euthanized Thursday before their time was up.  We pulled dogs from there Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and I told Tyler Corley (a shelter worker) that I would be back Thursday to pick up more and he said ‘OK.’  I called twice Thursday but no one would call me back.  They put down dogs that we had slated for adoptions.”

Abby and Zoey

This issue is particularly resonant for us.  We adopted Zoey’s older sister, Abby, on August 2, 2006.  If the shelter we got her from had used the same process as Lyons Animal Control, she would have been euthanised two days earlier.  And we would have never had the chance to enjoy a lifetime of wonderful memories with our sweet, loving dog.

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