Pawsitively Humane

Monday, August 22, 2016

Local Miami Election Can Save Homeless Pets

At Pawsitively Humane, we look at the big picture to help the most pets.  Tracking the progress of city and county elected officials is a critical part.  While the county opened a wonderful new animal shelter, unfortunately it is not enough to address or reverse the exponential rate of homeless pets.  Miami Dade Animal Service numbers are often skewed for reduced numbers of pets killed as often they would turn away residents who were dropping off unwanted pets.

There are solutions and one solution was brought forward by the Pets Trust!


As you know we have been tracking the Pets Trust fight to introduce and implement initiatives to make a major dent in the plight of homeless pets in Miami Dade County.  Given the shocking discovery that the current mayor would not honor the resident vote to implement the Pets Trust initiative in the last local election, thankfully a new candidate has emerged. Raquel Regalado has vowed to make a difference in the first 100 days of taking office and honor your vote!

Local elections are just as important as the national elections if not moreso!! Local elections affect your immediate livelihood--where you live and work and raise your family or retire...

The first primary local election is AUGUST 30. If you know anyone that lives in the Miami are, please share this news and ask them to vote!

 Let's stand up and give a voice, a vote for homeless pets!

*** PLEASE VOTE FOR RAQUEL REGALADO 
FOR MIAMI MAYOR 
AUG 30 AND NOV 8 ***

For a summary of the situation, please visit pet blogger Momma Kat and her Bear Cat post on the issue.

Monday, April 4, 2016

#JusticeforTiger Update April 4, 2016



The silver lining behind the tragic, intentional killing of a local pet cat by a veterinarian Kristen Lindsey, is that international interest has not waned after a year! Animal advocates remain vigilant, informed and concerned.

Another site, the Encyclopedia Britannica Advocacy for Pets added an entry today with an excellent summary of events including a timeline. We will continue to provide updates on social media.

The latest update is that while the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners voted to revoke her veterinary license, however Lindsey is still fighting back. Now the case is before SOAH which allowed Lindsey to renew her vet license in February 2016. The hearing at SOAH is set for April (Please read the excerpt below).


After deliberation, the TBVME Enforcement Committee found Lindsey in violation, voted to revoke her veterinary license, and issued its findings in an order to Lindsey, describing the violations and proposed sanctions of the TBVME (license revocation). Lindsey rejected the order, and the case proceeded to the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH).
On October 2, the TBVME filed a formal complaint against Lindsey with the SOAH, seeking revocation of her veterinary license. As of March 19, 2016, 43 documents have been filed for the Lindsey case. Documents include witness lists, objections, amicus briefs, rulings by the court, and schedules. Attempts to mediate a settlement were unsuccessful. A hearing is scheduled to begin April 25, 2016, more than a year after the crime.
Kristen Lindsey renewed her Texas veterinary license in February 2016.
International public interest in this landmark case remains high. The TBVME has received more than 700 formal complaints against Lindsey, as well as written comments from all 50 states and 77 countries, and more than 27,000 e-mails regarding Lindsey’s actions. Many citizens and several animal advocacy groups continue to call for the criminal investigation against Lindsey to be reopened. More facts have come to light during the licensing investigation which further justify revisiting the criminal case. The statute of limitations on the criminal matter is three years.

 Is Lindsey practicing veterinarian medicine? We do not believe she is at this time, at least not in Texas.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Cat with No Name- Life Lessons


Putting on a brave face. It never gets easier to help an injured animal.

Today was a tough Monday. I received a call from a friend. In the middle of night, a cat was found lying in the middle of street, unable to move his hind legs. Most likely struck by a speeding vehicle. This morning he was found a few feet away resting, still alive, in the garden of an apartment complex. 

He was a feral, intact (not neutered) orange male cat.  To test his limits as to how close he would permit me to approach him,  he hissed wildly. Suddenly the cat jumped on his front paws, and like an exotic jungle animal, he gracefully lifted his hips and dangled his hind legs like ballet slippers, and proceeded to walk on his front paws with exquisite balance. I wondered if this cat was born with a defect and grew up adjusting to the lack of using his hind legs.  But upon resting, his body language showed signs of pain.

stray feral cat hit by car and can not walk
Struck cat had no use of hind legs.
He depending entirely on his upper arms and body.

[To learn more about how we trapped him on the scene, please click here].

 As I flustered through the front door of the vet clinic, the staff, on standby, stood up and rushed the cat to the back. The receptionist asked me a few routine questions: type of cat, color, male or female...As I turned, a look of mournful faces in a crowded waiting room of other customers and their pets sat solemn, studying my face. It was obvious they were waiting a long time and would wait longer. They didn't seem to mind and understood emergencies came first. Then an elderly woman asked me what happened and I explained. She asked if I knew this cat. I said no. I was helping a friend and an injured stray cat I had never seen before. She replied  "if only there were more people like you".  Those words were like a warm embrace that I needed.  It NEVER gets easier.  The pain is raw every time.

I wondered in my time of need would a stranger help me? Another client replied, "Yes he or she would. That stranger is no stranger. It has a name. Karma." My heart smiled.

The results of the xrays and examination were not hopeful and it was decided, the best decision was euthanasia. In the PTS (put to sleep) room, the technician entered information on the computer. He was thumbing through a list of cats listed as "STRAY NO NAME".  No! I would not let him die with no name. Not another "stray" or another number in a litany of homeless injured city cats that died a typical death. He was not typical.  Each cat is unique. Each cat has a story. Each cat has a life.  He would die with dignity and a name.

Reflecting. Final words for Karma.

Under sedation. I stroked his forehead and lithe body. My hand over his chest, I could feel his heart beating. I was his last connection between life and death. Between earth and heaven.  I would name him Karma.

Within minutes of his overdue birth name, Karma crossed the rainbow bridge.

A cat I never met.
A cat I never knew.
A cat I could not touch before today. 
A cat I cried for.
I cried for Karma.

He reminded me of one of our beloved orange Riverfront cats, Lion King, but Karma did not have any caretaker. Only now, moments before his death, he had a caretaker. Karma had me, a stranger who cared. 

So despite this grief, I felt a small sense of joy.  I made a difference today. While not meteoric, one less innocent creature was spared long drawn out suffering.  One cat did not die alone.

However, I can not accept all the credit. My friend Laurent made the initial call, a plea for help and fellow animal lovers on Facebook all rallied to help us find solutions for getting the cat into the trap, and furiously networked to find a larger rescue group or volunteers to nurse this feral cat if he could be saved.  What a difference teamwork makes. Thank you all!



There are life lessons in every day incidents, even tragedy.

- Give back regularly.  I live in an upscale condo community in downtown Miami and many friends and neighbors indulge in the good life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, as long as we remember to give back. While one does not have to donate thousands of dollars, giving back regularly in some form, keeps us grounded, keeps us humble and makes us happier because only when we are grateful for what we have and kind and respectful to others, are we truly happy. Remember we can not take our fancy cars, yachts, clothes and jewelry with us when we die. Only the spirit of our soul. 

- A simple act of kindness can make a world of difference.  There are those who are lonely and suffer quietly.  A kind word, a brief conversation can uplift their world. This reminded me when I temporarily lived with my aunt in a condo complex only for retired individuals, while I was waiting to move closer to my job in downtown. Some were sad and/or bitter because they were lonely.  But as I spoke to them regularly, they smiled and looked forward to when I returned home from work, and offered me home cooked meals, just so they would have someone to talk to. I was in my late 20's at the time. Young people my age were at happy hour regularly. I went home and visited with neighbors. Today I visit with neighborhood cats.

Be aware of and kind to one another.

If you would like to make a donation to help our efforts, we gladly accept monetary funds, cat food, old towels and sheets...Each item is critical to our operations. To make a donation to help with vet bill for Karma, visit our cat site www.riverfrontcats.com and click on DONATE button.

To learn more about how to help stray cats in your community, visit our cat specialty website:
www.riverfrontcats.com

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

#JusticeForTiger



As our nation becomes aware and moves toward more humane treatment of pets and stray animals, the tragic story of Tiger the cat is pivotal in the creation and enforcement of animal cruelty laws.

At Pawsitively Humane and our specialty efforts at Riverfront Cats, we know first hand how these laws are broken daily yet very hard to prove.  Sadly in this case, a veterinarian killed a neighborhood pet cat and bragged about it openly on social media.  Yet she was not indicted.

The good news is that outrage was immediate, international, and concerned residents continue to follow this case closely with great interest across social media platforms, blogs, news forums, etc.  This case will effect current and future laws.

This website will track the progress events as it plays out in the State of Texas, and in the online and offline world of animal advocates. Follow us on social media to stay updated on unfolding events!

www.facebook.com/PawsitivelyHumane
www.twitter.com/SaveOurPaws


Verdict for Vet Kristen Lindsey who Killed Cat with Bow and Arrow


Update: April 4, 2016 - Entry in Encyclopedia Britannica, Advocacy for Animals


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Jackson Galaxy- Cat Daddy Guest Speaker at Cat Network Gala



There are cat people, cat owners, cat supporters, crazy cat ladies and then there is cat daddy, Jackson Galaxy,  better known as the cat guy from the popular Animal Planet TV series, "My Cat from Hell".  True cat lovers know this name or have seen his show.  Jackson was the guest speaker to top off a very special event--the 20th anniversary of the Cat Network.



Christine Michaels, Founder and President of Pawsitively Humane, Inc. and Riverfront Cats is a member of the Cat Network and volunteer.  Michaels along with Deborah Barnes, author and award-winning blogger of Zee& Zoey’s Cat Chronicles and Pawsitively Humane board member, attended the 20 year anniversary/fundraising gala for the Cat Network of Miami on Saturday, October 17.


Deb Barnes Christine Michaels sexy cat ladies
Deb Barnes and Christine Michaels

Everyone waited in anticipation for Jackson's presentation. For rescuers in the audience, it was more meaningful.  He spoke their language. We all speak a little known wordly language. We speak "cat"! Whether it's terms like TNRM, mojo, or reading a cat's body language to better communicate with them, it was uplifting that one of our own, had made it to national television.



His overall message was like a thumbs up, an indirect acknowledgment to the mission of Pawsitively Humane and Riverfront Cats  that we need to educate people, dog people, proclaimed non-cat people, that cats are not aloof, distant creatures...but wanting of playtime and attention like dogs..."  That is exactly what we do!  It doesn't matter how many cats or dogs we rescue and find homes for. Until we educate the masses and get them involved, we will never reverse the rate of homeless pets.  Education is key!

Deb Barnes Jackson Galaxy Christine Michaels stray cats Miami TNR
Deb Barnes, Jackson Galaxy, Christine Michaels

 For Michaels and Barnes,  both proponents of TNRM (Trap, Neuter, Return, Manage) as a humane means to successfully reduce cat overpopulation, the event was also an opportunity to interact with like-minded people and to help raise funding and awareness to further the Cat Network’s efforts in unison with other organizations and resident volunteers to educate the public about the need to sterilize their pets and community cats.

The semi-formal event had several hundred guests in attendance and was held at the Robert and Judi Prokop Newman Alumni Center at the University of Miami. There was a silent auction for fundraising, showcasing art, travel, literature, custom designed cat collectibles, and of course best-selling author of Catification and Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy.

Prior to Jackson being introduced to the crowd by the event’s Mistress of Ceremonies, Bonnie Berman, Co-Host/Producer of Topical Currents on 91.3 WLRN Public Radio, Cat Network President, Karen Rundquist, gave a moving tribute of the Cat Network’s growth since its inception in 1995 when the organization was initiated by a handful of women to its current status of over 2,500 volunteer and donor members. She also told guests that the Cat Network is working diligently to make South Florida a No-Kill community and that they have trapped and sterilized over 51,000 stray and abandoned cats and have adopted out over 7,000 cats since 1995. Remarkable!



When Jackson made his way to the podium, he gave a rousing and inspirational speech to audience members about what they personally could do to help get more people accepting of cats as good pets so that more of them are adopted and less of them are in shelters. His solution – by providing the best "mojo"  possible for them so they can live in an environment that lets them establish territorial ownership along with their pre-wired disposition  to hunt, catch, kill, and eat (mojo is defined as walking through the world in the minds-eye of a cat and learning what it is that motivates them). If those things aren't in place, especially the ownership aspect, Jackson stated, that “bad things” could happen. He put cats into three categories, and for him, every cat needs to be a Mojito cat.

Famous cats from Zee and Zoey clan

A Mojito cat is defined as the one that has swagger - a cat that walks boldly into a room with her tail held high with a slight question mark hook to it. She is a happy cat who is confident in her surroundings.
The Napoleon or gangster cat is insecure. He needs to prove something and will puff his chest out a bit in an offensive, aggressive posture. He might lie down across the doorway of a house to make sure you have to step over him and he might pee on things because he doesn’t trust his ownership of the territory. 

Lastly is the Wallflower cat. She is the one that politely hopes you won’t notice her as she sneaks by to use the litter box. She stays close to the wall as she walks, and you never see her in the center of the room because she doesn’t think she is the owner of the territory, nor does she want trouble with whoever is.

In order to achieve Mojito status, he shared that a cat needs a variety of key ingredients – toys to mimic hunt and play behaviors, lots of vertical space for them to claim as territory, proper diet, veterinary care, and spay/neuter to help keep the personalities and health in check. When all those boxes are checked off, the cat becomes confident of the territory they live in. These are the kinds of cats that break the misleading stereotypes that cats are too independent and aloof to make good pets and they are also the kind of cats that are NOT brought to shelters for behavioral problems.   



It was a lovely evening with vegeterian hors'doevres,  wine, sparkling flavored water, and classical music. Soothing, contemplative, enjoyable.  For cat supporters, our mission is clear--keep on educating those around you.

Here's to the Cat Network for 20 great years and to 20 more!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Another Battle Lost for Homeless Pets at County Commission- Aug 26, 2015

by Christine Michaels, Founder & President


Christine Michaels speaks to County Commissioners

Today I had the opportunity to attend a County Commission hearing, yet again, to vote on increased funding for Animal Services and to speak for two minutes. We had hope for many reasons. One of which--today is National Dog Day.

To my pleasant surprise, a large group of animal supporters showed up for a start time of 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon at the government center in downtown Miami.  Normally there are only 15 people in the audience for these types of meetings. Our supporters filled the seats. There were over 150. It was a sea of red.  Red shirts.  We were encouraged to wear red to demonstrate our passion, our outrage, and our commitment.  However, our agenda item was pushed back and was the last item to be discussed and voted. It was not until 4pm that we had our turn.



Only four commissioners were present which was disappointing. But it still allowed for a quorum.
The sponsor of the agenda item, Commissioner Xavier Suarez,  made initial comments. I was  impressed and relieved. He had done his homework and recognized that using one metric to measure a situation that was epidemic levels was grossly deficient. He employed various metrics.  

Michael Rosenberg, Founder of Pets Trust, makes his plea
Then the audience was permitted to come to the podium to speak (if they signed up in advance). Chairwoman Bell mandated a time limit of 20 minute collectively for everyone to speak.  After fifteen advocates made their appeal, I was the last to speak.  Given that homeless cats outnumber dogs and our specialty, I will use homeless cats as the main example of this blog post.

 I invited the commissioners to join me after the hearing to see the number of stray cats three blocks away. To see how they live, multiply, survive, suffer...

 "How they suffer and die, and many times legs had to be amputated. It's less costly to spay and neuter than amputate a leg of a stray pet, care for them and find them a home."

Leroy is a downtown Miami cat. He disappeared for several days, a bad sign. When he returned both legs had horrific injuries. Fortunately, we were able to save the one leg. Thankfully he was a friendly stray, not feral, that he could transition to indoor life.  His siblings and mother all died of horrific accidents near construction sites and FPL plant.  For Leroy's complete story, click here.

What is the correlation between spay/neuter and leg amputations?  When a stray cat population burgeons in the absence of TNR or spay/neuter, there are more kittens and cats. The more cats living around busy streets, the more injuries and suffering. I've seen more than my fair share of leg injuries, and leg amputations. Visit our cat website, Riverfront Cats, for Leroy's story.

VETERINARIANS OPPOSE THE PLAN FOR INCREASED FUNDING FOR COUNTY ANIMAL SERVICES

A representative for the South Florida Veterinarian Association opposed the funding. She offered reasons that their partnership with the county for low cost spay/neuter works.  We, the experts in the trenches, shook our heads in disbelief.  If there are approximately half a million homeless pets in South Florida,  3-5 spay/neuters a day in 30 vet clinics doesn't even begin to make a dent. It's microscopic.  Vets are in the practice for a profit. They can not provide high volume spay/neuter. It's simple math.

Then Commissioners Heyman and Diaz asked Animal Services director Alex Munoz for numbers on intake and killings (aka euthanasia) this year compared to three years ago.  Sadly, they had ignored the valuable insight of Commissioner Suarez to employ various metrics.  While intake and euthanasia rates are lower, we as volunteers and partners in working with Animal Services, know those numbers are skewed. But even if the numbers were entirely accurate, the two metrics Commissioner Heyman and Diaz relied on do not even begin to show the gravity of the situation. While the problem may be controlled at Animal Services, the cancer IS still growing and spreading throughout the county.


Christine holding a rescue cat. Feeling deflated but not defeated.

Any rescuer, especially stray cat experts, know the truth. The fact that as we sat there in the commission chambers, the number of stray kittens born and cats dumped, grows EXPONENTIALLY.  This is what the opposing commissioners failed to understand. The increased funding is desperately needed.  To make a dent and REVERSE the trend, funding for a comprehensive plan is needed. The plan proposed by the Pets Trust called for TNR Teams.  Offering low cost and free spay/neuter IS NOT ENOUGH.  The critical need is ALSO people to do the trapping and transporting the cats to the spay/neuter clinics.  We need a dedicated team of professional trappers. With $20 million raised by property taxes from the Pets Trust initiative, we could begin to reverse the trend in the first year!  Yet Commissioners Heyman and Diaz want to put a band aid on the tumor.

Miami Dade County Commissioners' solution to epidemic of homeless pets

As Commissioners Heyman and Diaz continued their questioning to Director Munoz, the hope in our hearts quickly deflated.  They had already made up their minds.  The overwhelming support and facts by animal welfare volunteers/workers meant nothing.

I turned to find tears staining the face of Suely, a longtime volunteer in the community.  She was devastated. All of  us have shed blood, sweat, tears and thousands of our own funds.  Our hearts ache for these harmless stray animals. Her heart was broken, as was ours. Self interests won over greater good.  Politics won over common sense.

After commissioners left the chambers, our group huddled and regrouped.  We may have lost the battle again, but we were more enraged and motivated.

Pets Trust supporters with Commissioner Zapata
This is only the beginning.  The democratic system in Miami Dade county is not a simple process. Clearly county commissioners hold excessive power when they can overrule a majority vote by residents in a county-wide election.

WRITE TO YOUR COUNTY COMMISSIONER TO INCREASE FUNDS FOR ANIMAL SERVICES or HONOR THE 2012 ELECTION VOTE TO RAISE PROPERTY TAXES (by $25) FOR THE PETS TRUST

We will continue to educate commissioners, residents, and fight harder. We have to. Pets have no voice. We urge you to join us in keeping the pressure to your county commissioner. Click here to find out who is your county commissioner and please write to them via email and physical U.S. postal mail.

FOLLOW OUR FIGHT TO SAVE HOMELESS PETS

Thank you for taking the time to read this summary. We encourage you to sign up for notifications of this website to keep up with latest news on pet related issues in Miami Dade.  We keep it balanced with serious and humorous postings. Fighting or enlightening politicians is a big battle. A the same time, we know pets are an important fabric of society and our daily lives. See the registration box on the right column to sign up. You will notice we do not post daily or weekly so you are not inundated with emails!

Also, for a history of developments of the Pets Trust, please click here.


VIEW THE RECORDING OF THE COUNTY COMMISSION SESSION

The County Commission hearings are streamed live and recorded.
To view the entire proceeding, visit  http://miamidade.gov/wps/portal/Main/webcasting/
Select " Metropolitan Services Committee" for August 26, 2015 and download the mp4 file.
Drag the cursor towards the end. The Pets Trust was last item on agenda.


NOTE: The $20 million raised by the property tax increase that voters supported for the Pets Trust initiative, would also include an education program, and better facilities at the local county shelter for the dogs and cats. Homeowners would pay a mere average of $25 a year more in property taxes.

Pets Trust Miami-a Chronological History

As animal advocates, caretakers, volunteers and experts, part of responsibility is to educate our elected officials on the reality, the severity of the homeless pet situation in our county. This PAGE will chronologically list the developments surrounding The Pets Trust and efforts to reduce the number of stray pets/animals in Miami Dade County. (Pawsitively Humane will herein be referred to as PHI for this posting).

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August 26, 2015 (Miami Dade County, Government Center)

Metropolitan Services Committee to vote on resolution for increased budget for Animal Services for the purpose of supporting low-cost spay/neuter programs, Veterinary Care Programs, Education programs regarding Responsible Pet Ownership. 


Today, Founder & President of Pawsitively Humane, Christine Michaels, attended the committee hearing.  Shockingly, Commissioner Sally Heyman voted against the increased funding as did Commissioner Diaz. Both were original supporters of the Pets Trust. Commissioner Zapata, at least voted to allow it to discuss at next week's budget meeting.  Whether he would vote in favor or not is not known.

For further details please click here for dedicated PHI blog post on the hearing and the outcome.

Miami Herald, Editorial Opinon: "The Pets' (dis)Trust? 


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July 22, 2013 (Miami Herald Article) 

Dreams of a Dade Pets’ Trust dashed at meeting


Summary: Last year in a straw vote almost 500,000 citizens agreed to tax themselves to provide almost $20 million dollars for funding high-volume sterilization clinics responsible pet-ownership education; grants to non-profit rescues; increased adoption and fostering. However, in a stunning turn of events, the Miami Dade County Commissioners decided not to follow the voter’s choice and denied the tax implementation. Is this legal? Actually yes. How?

The ballot issue was a "non binding straw ballot" which conveys the majority interest of the voters but the county commissioners have the final vote to implement the initiative

Please click here for complete article.

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June 4, 2013 (NBC 6 News Report)

Miami Dade County Commission Delays Pets Trust Vote for 2 Weeks

Summary: While the majority of residents voted for a property tax increase in the 2012 election, according to the governing laws in Miami Dade County, it is County Commissioners who have the final vote. Commissioners claim certain groups wanted to be heard before the vote and Commissioners delayed the vote to allow the public to air their concerns.  


Please click here for further details.


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April 4, 2013 (Tallahassee, Florida Legislation)

Miami-Dade backed 'Pet Trust' bill stalls in committee after cat fight with NRA

 A bill that would allow local taxpayers to create special taxing districts for the purpose of spaying and neutering animals stalled in a House Committee on Thursday, after the National Rifle Association and others voiced opposition.

PHI concern: For the NRA (a heavyweight with deep pockets) to bring in a lobbyist on this issue raises red flags.   Why would NRA get involved and oppose homeowners to pay a $20 tax increase to prevent suffering and dying of unwanted or stray pets? The reason offered is quite flimsy with no proven history elsewhere in the country.

For further details, please click here for Miami Herald article.


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 Nov 6, 2012 (Miami Herald article)

Miami-Dade Voters Back the Creation of Pets' Trust 

After years of increasing rates of  abandoned animals and high euthanasia at the local Animal Services, a VICTORY!!! In a local county election, the initiative to create a Pets' Trust  was passed by 65% of voters. This would raise property taxes by an average of $20 to fund programs to reduce the number of homeless pets. 

Please click here for further details.

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