Archive for August, 2009

The English shepherd is a traditional American farm dog, selected for hundreds of years to work stock, protect his master, his family, his property and animals, hunt game, dispatch pests, and do any job that his master might find for him. They have not been selected to be show dogs or to live in kennels. The English shepherd is a highly intelligent, bossy, sensitive, energetic animal who requires strong human leadership and a job to call his own. When indulged, untrained, bullied or neglected, they become very troublesome to their owners. Given a job and a fair boss, the English shepherd will display unparalleled devotion, loyalty, and obedience balanced with initiative.

In December, 2008, over 200 English shepherds and other breeds were seized from Linda Kapsa of Shady Lane Kennels in Ballantine, MT.

While the court case slowly worked its way through the court system, National English Shepherd Rescue (NESR) and its volunteer personnel have been providing financial support and personnel to Yellowstone County and the Operation New Beginnings staff and volunteers since December 2008, in form of expert advice, training and behavior consultation, equipment, corporate donations of dog food, vaccines, medical supplies, and other necessities.

The small but devoted worldwide community of English shepherd owners and fans has stepped up to the plate with fundraisers and donations on an unprecedented scale. The English shepherd community regards this effort as the Hurricane Katrina of breed rescues.

Before I continue on, let’s stop a moment and think about this. Yellowstone County seized these animals and therefore became their caretakers not only as living creatures, but also as evidence in a court case. Operation New Beginnings was a community effort and the citizens of Yellowstone County have incurred tremendous expenses for these deserving dogs. The sheer numbers are mind-boggling. In this day and age of tight budgets everywhere, I don’t think the county I live in would be set up to do this. What about yours?

Because the English shepherd is an uncommon breed, NESR’s volunteer network and the entire community of devoted English shepherd owners has been challenged by the sheer numbers and special needs of the over two hundred dogs who have been cared for by Billings, MT area volunteers for over six months. The number of dogs needing placement from this one seizure is approximately EIGHT times NESR’s typical annual case load of English shepherds in need nationwide.
The recent conviction of the dogs’ former owner, Linda Kapsa, for felony animal cruelty has allowed the majority of the dogs being held in Billings to be released from their status as criminal evidence, paving the way for their adoptions. This event marks the conclusion of Yellowstone County’s Operation New Beginnings (ONB), and the commencement of a national collective effort to give every victim a home: Project Next Steps.

The dogs will continue to be cared for by the committed volunteers who have devoted thousands of hours to their rehabilitation while NESR representatives conduct evaluations of each dog’s needs and abilities. NESR, the English Shepherd community, and those who love dogs (breed clubs, agility clubs, community foundations, etc.) have contributed thousands of hours and thousands of dollars toward Yellowstone County’s effort to care for these dogs. While NESR will continue to incur thousands of dollars of expenses, they are honored to escort these dogs on the next steps of their long journey to new and rewarding lives.

And so is Canine Coach.

We were hand-picked and approached to foster one of the special-needs dogs who should be arriving shortly as they need to be out of the fairgrounds where they’ve been staged for 6 months by mid-Sept. We will take this privilege seriously and work hard to live up to the trust bestowed upon us.

Not everyone will be able to help this gigantean effort by actually fostering a dog, but there are other ways to assist such as to help drive a leg of transportation among other things. See www.nesr.info for more details.

For anyone wishing to make donations NESR is setting up a special Montana Rescue Fund. This fund will help with food, supplies, Vet care, transportation, or anything else that might be needed for this rescue effort, including helping other rescue groups that may participate in this rescue effort. Any funds left over after the rescue effort is complete and all these dogs are in forever homes, will go to rescue other English shepherds in need. All money collected by NESR will go directly to the rescue and care of English shepherd dogs, all NESR personnel are volunteers and receive NO monetary compensation.

Please make checks payable to NESR and mark the comment line with Montana Rescue.

Send checks to:

NESR C/O Melinda King,
Treasurer 10602 Brittney Lane S. E.
Olalla, WA 98359

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Wednesday was a hectic day. I was trying to stay on my grooming schedule to be able to make my training schedule. The cushion between the two was pretty slim. Then on my way out of the vet clinic, I got a call about an injured baby bird. It was not too far out of my way, so I stopped to pick it up on the way to the training center.  I made arrangements for a volunteer driver to take it to the wildlife center.  When I got to the training center, there was a nice looking Pit Bull running down the road towards my truck and the highway beyond. I pulled into the driveway as I rolled down the window and called to it. It was wearing a collar. By the time I got out of the truck, it had bolted down toward the highway. I called to it. It watched me, but never came closer.

I finished parking the truck, unloaded dogs, changed my clothes to get ready for the arrival of my training client. A woman appeared in the parking lot. I was excited, thinking she was looking for her lost dog. It was the driver for my injured bird. I got the bird on its way and then headed out to look for the dog again.

As I was leaving the building, the dog was coming up the driveway. I called “Hey, Sweetie” and it came running to me like a long lost friend. I leashed her up, and walked her into a crate. She was lumpy, bumpy, swollen in lots of places most likely reactions to fly bites. She was hot and thirsty.  Her left ear was very swollen and I thought injured, but after a time the swelling went away giving credence to my fly bite reaction theory. The tips of her ears were bloody raw and when she shook her head, they’d bleed where ever they touched…the top of her head, her chin. It made her look pitiful on the surface, but other than that, she appeared to be in good shape and well taken care of. Her collar was intact, but had no tags or identification.

I had enough time to call the “neighbors” up and down the road the training center is on and the animal shelter before my client arrived. No reports of missing dogs matching her description.

I had to throw a blanket over her crate during the lesson to keep her quiet at first, but she settled right down.

After the lesson, I got a chance to interact with her. She’s a Sweetheart! She’s in good shape, a few months either side of a year, obviously crate trained and well-socialized with people. I had to take my dogs home and make arrangements for her for the night. A kennel at the vet clinic seemed the best choice for one night until I could get her to the shelter the next day.

I was the first to arrive at the clinic in the morning. She was quiet, hadn’t messed in her kennel or chewed her blankets. She was happy to see me, of course.

I scanned her for a micro-chip. No tattoos. No identification at all. No evidence of a spay scar but definitely an ear infection.

The morning was a flurry of phone calls. I called all the animal hospitals in the area, the shelter, businesses in the area of where she was found, etc.  I missed getting on the radio station’s lost pet report on Wed evening so they also got a call Thursday morning also.

Not a single report of a missing dog matching her description anywhere, however, several people mentioned they’d gotten quite a few reports of found dogs with a commentary of how the economy is affecting pet owners.

The more I talked to people, and the more I interacted with her, the more it was clear she wasn’t going to shelter. She was coming home with me until we could find her family or a new family worthy of her.

She is apparently well-socialized. She loves people. She LOVES playing with all 5 of our dogs. She’s as good with the cat as most of the fosters coming in here. She knows to sit for treats.

WHY IS NO ONE LOOKING FOR HER? How can it be over 72 hours with no one putting up signs or contacting every animal based business in the county?

This is what bothers me the most about this situation. Not that she was loose in the first place. Stuff can happen to anyone. She is a great dog.

Did someone go on vacation and she got away from the dog caretaker? I understand this happens fairly often. Then the dog caretaker doesn’t even look for the dog. Hmph. Some caretaker.

Did someone lose a job and is no longer able to take care of her? Then take her to the shelter, don’t just “turn her loose”.

Did she jump out of some tourist’s vehicle?

Somewhere, some place, I hope, someone is looking for her. She deserves that. Humanity in general deserves that.

Opening the weekend paper, however, one sees a story about a dog attack. The dog attacked a neighbor’s dog. A person was injured trying to split the dogs up (which is another blog entry for later). The story isn’t about the attack. It’s about who is responsible financially. The offending dog’s owners are renters with no insurance. The victim’s are rightfully trying to get their costs reimbursed. They then contacted the landlord’s insurance company. They were told because our city has no ordinance stating the landlord would be liable for tenants dogs, they aren’t paying.

Now the city is researching what to do. The dog was quarantined and eventually surrendered to the city’s animal shelter. The city is trying to determine the dog’s future. The city is also trying to decide if a change to ordinances is in order.

And, yes, the dog in the story is a pit bull.

Hopefully, reason and cool heads will prevail. Looking around the nation, however, we know that is not always, or even most often, the case.

I also hope this event didn’t precipitate the “dumping” of this dog, just in case this situation could’ve happened to her owners.


Stray pittie shakes off the worries of being a stray

Stray pittie shakes off the worries of being a stray

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