"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume III - Issue 27:  September 30, 2005
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Christopher's Drool
=>  The Fleecing of Disaster Animals
=>  Quote of the Week
=>  Mail Bag
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  15 Things to do at Wal-Mart

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Christopher's Drool

Hey Everybody,

As most of you know, I have spent the last several weeks working tirelessly to help the animals affected by the hurricanes that have hit the Gulf Coast. Top that off with worrying about family members who live in the affected area, and it has been exhausting. Exhausting to the point that more than one of you have written me asking how I was holding up as you could sense the difference in my “tone.”

Well, after my request last week for stories from rescuers on the ground down there, I have been receiving dozens of emails and post from the internet each day. To be honest, I expected to receive a few accusations like the ones I listed last week, but nothing like what I got.

I'm not going to go into the details here as it is the focus of this week's article. I am going to tell you it has re-energized me and my efforts to ensure that what needs to be done, gets done. I'm extremely angry and I hope it makes you angry too. It seems it takes people to get angry about something before they are motivated to take action. I am hoping this is exactly what each of you do after finishing this week's newsletter.

I know many of you have been affected by this disaster as I have. My mom and son have experienced both Katrina and Rita and it had me pretty damn scared. Then there are the images coming back through the media. It is an absolutely heart breaking situation for everyone.

For this very reason, not to mention the shear magnitude of this disaster, let's all please remember to keep the people and animals in our thoughts and close to our hearts. There is a lot of work that is going to need to be done. While I am not pleased about some groups down there “helping,” there are some wonderful groups doing fantastic work. Please give them whatever support you can.

Keep those letters and suggestions coming. They are greatly appreciated.

Okay, that's it for now. I'm outta here!



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In your last newsletter, you mentioned some unfortunate policies/practices/actions of a certain group and said, "Now we all know there is no love lost between me and this organization.  For some time I have criticized their financial practices and what I feel is extremely deceptive fundraising practices."

I'm not surprised - the Red Cross of the animal world, no doubt.

I understand the reasoning for not mentioning the name but for lots of folks, like myself, who don't know which group you are referring to, it might be a good idea to tell us.  It give us a better picture of the situation but, more importantly, it won't have us thinking it's one of the groups that it isn't.

By the way ...

I heard a couple of days ago that a small group of Vets and Vet techs from our area was going down next week.  I had seven old but VERY useable wire crates and dropped them off for them to take along. Needless to say, they were very grateful.  Now they are saying they may not be going down.  Whoever they were going to be working with didn't think the group should be there.  They are in the process of finding another group to assist.

Tom M.

The Fleecing of Disaster Animals

Many of you have heard me say that a dog is a dog and needs to be treated as such. Obviously, I am referring to teaching desirable behaviors and establishing appropriate pack order in the home and not kicking them when you come home from a particularly crappy day.

When I decided to focus primarily on the proper training and welfare of companion animals and not just working dogs, I knew I would be seeing many different things that would be disturbing. After all, you can't work full time with companion dogs and not have to deal with animals that have been abused, neglected or just improperly raised.

When my partners and I decided to start Paws for Change to try to educate people about proper care and responsible ownership, we realized it was a serious commitment. A commitment we take extremely seriously, as well we should have. After all, as a not-for-profit you have a commitment to do what you say you are going to do with the money donated to you by trusting members.

I have to admit, I was a little naive as to the world of the non-profit. Now I knew some pushed questionable objectives, but I actually thought the “big guys” were at least spending their money somewhat as they say. Then, after doing my article last year on the Humane Society of the United States and their financial practices, I started paying much closer attention to these groups. In fact, I developed a strong dislike for that particular organization. If you have never read the previous article, it might be a good idea to read it now before continuing:


Now before I continue, I want to make one thing very clear. The reports I have been receiving have come from people who claim to have worked first hand with HSUS and the ASPCA in the disaster area resulting from Katrina and Rita. I have not witnessed it first-hand but have no reason to doubt the claims. Many come from well vouched for individuals, and the sheer number of reports make it difficult to doubt their accuracy.

Additionally, when Hurricane Katrina was approaching, I told many friends what I thought would happen to the animals if the storm were to turn out as it did. I'll tell you what, while I truly like saying, “I told you so,” this is one time I truly wish I had been wrong. In fact, I would give anything to have been wrong.

The Accusations

Rather than give details of each experience I have been sent, I have compiled a list of accusations that have been consistent. Some have been confirmed by the HSUS' CEO in a release he sent to one site that was critical of the organization's practices.

  • Dogs being left in crates 24 hours a day
  • Volunteers ordered not to walk or exercise any of the dogs
  • No/little hands on work with rescued animals
  • Turning away experienced rescue volunteers despite there are hundreds of dogs that still need to be rescued
  • Organization staff has been verbally abusive to volunteers who ask questions about policy
  • Refusal to release dogs to other States for up to 30 days
  • Denying bedding to the animals regardless of the fact they have plenty on site
  • Animals with urine burns from prolonged periods in crates being left untreated
  • Denying certified rescues from taking animals out of State despite the fact they have agreed to follow holding regulations so owners can be reunited with their pets
  • Refusal to accept in animals from volunteers even though HSUS dispatchers sent the rescuer to get them
  • Denying volunteers to give/donate prescription/food to animals a volunteer vet has examined and determined they need
  • Insisting volunteers wear HSUS shirts and those who refuse are being escorted out at gunpoint by National Guard members at the orders of HSUS

The list goes on but I think you are getting the point. For goodness sake, they won't even provide coffee for their volunteers who are there at their own expense, many literally living out of their cars, while their paid employees are living in air conditioned trailers and buses. They even have a nice misting room for their paid staff and film crew to get out of the heat. This is, of course off, limits to the volunteers doing all the work for nothing.

What We Do Know

We know the HSUS has collected tens of millions of dollars since this disaster occurred. We know the majority of the gear and food that is on site was donated to the organization. We know there are still hundreds if not thousands of animals that still need to be rescued and are being left in the field at the orders of HSUS officials. We know they are denying 501( c ) 3 rescues from taking the animals out of HSUS control so there can be made room for more animals waiting to be rescued.

Their Own Word

The CEO of the HSUS responded to a rather popular blog on line to address criticisms of their efforts to save animals. In his response, he openly admitted they were not prepared for a disaster of this nature. They certainly weren't and I won't deny that. What I will say is that, with the money they have received, they still could have accomplished the task.

The Database

According to Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS ...

“Fact: Petfinder is not "a way of acting like they have a plan for these animals." It's the software that was available when this disaster hit. We all wish that there was something better out there, ready for immediate use, but there wasn't. As crucial as the data management challenge was from the beginning, it was only one of a dozen serious and urgent problems we faced.

Working with others, The HSUS tried hard to improve this existing software to make available a comprehensive, user-friendly database that would achieve multiple goals: that all animals rescued be identified according to the location from which they were retrieved; that their immediate location, condition, treatment and other factors critical to their immediate and long-term care be recorded; that their movements from the temporary emergency shelter at Lamar Dixon to locations around the country be tracked; and, most critically, that they can be reunited with their owners as promptly as possible.

The reality of the situation is that no single database or software system that could accomplish all of these goals existed prior to August 29, and the process of developing, testing, improving and utilizing such a system has been compressed into a short timeframe in the midst of an emergency. That process continues right now, involving not only The HSUS, but also the ASPCA, Petfinder.com, and others.”

Really? I have spoken to several computer savvy IT professionals who dispute this. In fact, one told me they could develop a database, like Mr. Pacelle described, in a day or so. Keep in mind, when Mr. Pacelle wrote this response, it was almost a month after Katrina hit. Are you kidding me? Why the hell didn't they hire one with the millions they have collected through donations? I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed and didn't graduate from law school like he did and even I figured that one out!

“In some cases, we are proceeding with a straight rescue plan: get into a house, capture the animals, and transport them back to our staging area so they can receive medical care and shelter. In other cases, especially in areas where residents are scheduled to return and where the animals look healthy, we are feeding and watering and keeping the animals in place. There, they can survive, and not be subjected to the stress of capture and transport.”

The stress of capture and transport? This is his concern? These animals have been trapped for a month with little and or no contact, food and living in mold infested quarters full of toxic sewage and a month of their own urine and feces. As a leading expert in canine behavior, I can assure the stress of being rescued would be welcomed by nearly all of these animals.

Has he not followed the news? Many of the people who lived in the areas he says residents are scheduled to return to aren't even close to New Orleans. They are in Texas, New Mexico, Virginia and even here in Sacramento! Most have nothing and don't have the resources to retrieve their animals even if they could find them. I know if it were me in the same situation, I would want someone to pull my dogs out and care for them, even adopt them out, if it meant they would survive.

“I will mention that our staff -- who work in our regional offices, government affairs, companion animals, investigations, and many other sections -- put aside their regular duties and deployed to help, whether in the field or organizing at our headquarters office, and every one of these people is passionate about the cause and got involved in our response with a tremendous sense of responsibility and purpose.”

What the hell else are they supposed to have other than a sense of purpose? They set aside their duties? That is their responsibility - and what they are paid for, in many cases well more than most of us - to do. Does he want us to give them a lollipop?

Here's the bottom line:

1) We will get through every address for a trapped animal provided by any group active in relief and rescue efforts.

(I thought they were active in relief and rescue?)

2) We have already been involved in the rescue of more than 7,000 animals. There have been nearly 500 reunions of animals with the families that love them.

(Not according to volunteers on scene)

3) We have transported thousands of animals to local humane societies and other safe areas, including to a major prison in Louisiana, where the animals are getting exceptional care.

(They will allow hardened felons to care for these animal but not a 501(c)3 rescue organization?)

4) We are committed to helping to rebuild the shelters throughout the Gulf States region.

(Like they did the shelter in D.C.?)

5) We will learn every lesson from this disaster and be stronger and better the next time a response is required.

(They certainly couldn't do it any worse!)

6) We have worked with members of Congress to initiate legislation to mandate that government authorities incorporate animals into their disaster plans, and we will press this case until we get a positive outcome. No non-profit organization should be saddled with the responsibility to save all of the animals in a disaster. It's just too big a job.

(Duh! Numerous groups have said this for years and HSUS, with its massive lobbying and legislative staff, could have accomplished this years ago. They didn't. They dropped the ball just as it appears they have with Katrina.

Where's the Money?

Millions of dollars and supplies have been sent to HSUS as the result of the storms. Where is it? Mr. Pacelle has gone to the media begging for more but what are they doing with what they already have been given? It doesn't appear to me that they are spending it on relief. The food and gear has been donated. There are plenty of volunteers there to do the work for free at there own expense. What the hell are they doing with the money? Who wants to bet there is a bonus for Mr. Pacelle if they keep enough money in the coffers?

Film Crew

If the HSUS is so strapped for time and resources, and their goal is saving the animals, then why are they entertaining crews from Animal Planet to show the “great work” they are doing reuniting animals with their owners? In my opinion, it is nothing more than a promotional opportunity to make the public think HSUS cares about animals and keep the donations rolling in.

My Thoughts

There is simply no excuse for the actions that have been taken (or more accurately, not taken) by the HSUS. They have the resources necessary to save all of the animals in a humane manner. In fact, they had enough money BEFORE this incident occurred to have handled it correctly.

Mr. Pacelle says, they simply weren't prepared to respond to a disaster of this magnitude, and this is a learning experience. Then perhaps they should have allowed Noah's Wish and other groups that were prepared to have taken the lead and HSUS could have been the money guys. The only reason I can think of for their not doing so is they may not be able to sock away more cash.

I have it from good sources that the staff of the big groups spends more time politicking for position and government grants than they do actively working to save the animals. They talk about the number of animals they have reunited with their families. No, it's the volunteers who have done the real work.

To the Readers

Many of you may say the HSUS is doing all they can in a disaster of this magnitude. I disagree and so do many rescuers who have seen the HSUS in action. It is high time we make the HSUS stand up, open their books and be accountable for their actions or lack there of.

I am betting they will have millions of dollars left over when this is over and I think this is what they really want. It will also lead to future donations from gullible people who will see their movie about what a great job they are doing.

I ask that all of you contact your Congressional representatives and the IRS and demand a complete audit of their finances relative to donations they have received as a result of this disaster. I believe we will find they have spent very little of what they have received and that is inexcusable when they are claiming they don't have the resources and are leaving animals to wallow in their own waste.

This article may be republished using the following attribution statement:

Copyright ©2004 Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator: The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies Subscribe to the BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter: mailto:subscribe@Master-Dog-Training.com?subject=Subscribe VISIT NOW: http://www.Master-Dog-Training.com

Quote of the Week

Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There's so little hope for advancement.

~ Snoopy ~

Mail Bag


I'm not sure which animal relief organization in the Gulf coast you were referring to in last weeks article, but having been there myself as a volunteer, I can assure things are a mess. Thanks for getting the word out. Many of the rescuers are afraid to speak out as they are afraid of being thrown out of the area for speaking out. I'm glad you are on our side.

Name Withheld

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Joke of the Week

15 Things to do at Wal-Mart

1. Get 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's carts when they aren't looking.

2. Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

3. Make a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the rest rooms.

4. Walk up to an employee and tell him/her in an official tone, 'Code 3' in house wares and see what happens.

5. Go the Service Desk and ask to put a bag of M&M's on lay away.

6. Move a 'CAUTION - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted area.

7. Set up a tent in the camping department and tell other shoppers you'll invite them in if they'll bring pillows from the bedding department.

8. When a clerk asks if they can help you, begin to cry and ask 'Why can't you people just leave me alone?'

9. Look right into the security camera; use it as a mirror, and pick your nose.

10. While handling guns in the hunting department, ask the clerk if he knows where the anti-depressants are.

11. Dart around the store suspiciously loudly humming the "Mission Impossible" theme.

12. In the auto department, practice your "Madonna look" using different size funnels.

13. Hide in a clothing rack and when people browse through, say "PICK ME! PICK ME!"

14. When an announcement comes over the loud speaker, assume the fetal position and scream "NO! NO! It's those voices again!!!!"

15. Go into a fitting room and shut the door and wait a while; and, then, yell, very loudly, "There's no toilet paper in here!"

* Have a joke you'd like to submit to us? Joke@Master-Dog-Training.com

Thank You For Reading!  Have a Terrific Week!

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The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

The BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter is published by Christopher Aust Copyright © 2005 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the express written consent of the publisher or contributors.

We accept no responsibility for your use of any contributed information contained herein. All of the information presented in BARK 'n' SCRATCH is published in good faith. Any comments stated in this newsletter are strictly the opinion of the writer or publisher.

We reserve the right to edit and make suitable for publication, if necessary, any articles published in this newsletter. We reserve the right to publish all reader comments, including the name of the writer.

Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies

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