by Lyn Lomasi, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Is your hamster extra special? Of course! Do you want to show your hamster some extra love by providing treats? Which should you use? Store bought or homemade? Depending on the type of treat, we like to give our hamsters mainly homemade treats. But there are a few store bought treats we prefer as well. So, which ones are best for your hamster?
Vanity treats may contain little nutrition. Just like store-bought treats for humans can be bad, the same can be true with hamster treats. Those colorful small animal treats packaged to mock assorted human treats could be very bad for your little critter. Remember that the more colorful the treat, the more dyes were likely used to create it. Also consider the texture. Is the substance natural? Sure these treats may smell and look good. But are they really the best choice for your hamster?
Watch the ingredients. The only ingredients that should be in your hamster's treats are those that come from nature. There is no reason to give hamsters chemical or sugar-induced treats. Not all hamsters have the same dietary needs. Ask your vet for a list of foods that are appropriate for your hamster. Read the labels of store-bought treats. Also watch what you put into homemade treats. Any treat containing anything other than what's on that list should be avoided.
Fruity treats may sound good, but could be bad. Especially avoid sugar, even in some fruits, if you have dwarf hamsters. Fruit should be limited to an occasional treat in many hamsters. But dwarf hamsters are most susceptible to diabetes. There are only certain fruits that dwarf hamsters should have access to and those should only be given on a limited basis. Many store-bought hamster treats contain fruit ingredients that could be dangerous to your pet.
Can my hamster have hay? Timothy and alfalfa are common hays given as treats to small animals. Should hamsters have hay? Yes. Hay is safe for most hamsters. Though again, you should consult with your hamster's vet for proper nutrition geared toward that animal. Each animal has its own needs. Obviously in this instance, store-bought hay as a treat makes more sense than growing and drying it yourself. Small animals do not consume enough for harvesting your own to make sense.
Stick to natural-looking treats. One rule of thumb that we always follow with both homemade and store-bought treats is sticking to authentic snacks. If we go store-bought, our hamsters will get things like natural trail mix formulated for hamster diets, dried vegetables, and other things that are not altered. Store-bought does not necessarily mean a treat is bad. But when you are not hand-picking each ingredient yourself, you just need to be more cautious for the health and safety of your pet.
*Information herein is based on the author's personal experiences as a hamster owner and is not meant to replace the advice of a professional. Always consult an appropriately-licensed animal care specialist for the health of your animals.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
You just brought home two adorable hamsters and you wonder if they'd get along. You have two cages but one would take up less room? Can hamsters be housed together? That depends on many factors. As a pet grandparent who's had experience with several hamsters, I can tell you with experience that it largely depends on each situation. However, in many cases, it isbest to house hamsters separately.
Hamsters from the same litter may do well together when young. If two hamsters of the same sex (male only) from the same litter are housed together from birth, they may do well continuing that way. However, that isn't always the case. Females cannot be paired with other females or with males. Hamsters are very territorial. Therefore, they may start fighting or worse. If you are uncertain whether your related hamsters were housed together, it's better to have them in separate cages. We go the safe route with our hamsters because we don't want them to get hurt. They each have their own cage.
Never put hamsters of the opposite sex together. Remember not to house a male and female together, as they will almost certainly breed. While baby hamsters may be cute, breeding is only recommended by the professionals. Also, female hamsters tend to get quite aggressive with males after the breeding process and it can be dangerous for both hamsters. Then, you also have the problem of creating unwanted pets. Are you really going to keep up to 15 baby hamsters once they are weaned? If so, do you have the means to do so? There is also the issue of the legal limits on the number of pets you can have without being a licensed facility. Never ever intentionally breed hamsters, unless you have the proper license and ample room to do so.
Hamsters like their space. Because hamsters are creatures of habit and very territorial, it can be difficult when they are housed together. Each hamster will have a certain space where they like to use the bathroom, a certain eating area, a certain area where food is stored, a sleeping area, and so on. If one hamster wants an area for one use and another wants it for something else, conflict will arise. When hamsters are housed together in the same cage, this puts them at greater risk of danger because of these issues and more.
Some breeds will do better together than others. Certain hamster breeds will do better in pairs,like dwarf hamsters. But our dwarf hamsters are not fond of each other. We can tell this even with them in separate cages. Syrian hamsters are especially territorial. The general rule with housing hamsters is that if they were not raised together or if they were separated at any point, do not even try to put them together. Even if they do well together, you will need to provide ample space for each hamster to create their own space. In other words, the cage should be considerably large and offer plenty of burrowing room, hiding places, separate feeding and watering stations, and more.
When in doubt, play it safe. If you can't figure out whether you should house your hamsters or not, your best bet is to refrain from doing so. The safety of your hamsters is more important than whether they are in the same cage or not. While your hamsters may enjoy playing together, hamsters are generally solitary creatures. Our Russian dwarf hamsters enjoy human interaction, but not interaction from other hamsters. Our Roborovski hamster does not enjoy interacting with people or other hamsters. All three of them have very distinct personalities. Therefore, when in doubt, play it safe and house your hamsters separately. Their lives may literally depend on it.
*Please note that the information contained herein is solely from the author's personal experience with hamsters. She is not a licensed professional. Always consult your hamster's licensed veterinarian for information pertaining specifically to your pet's well-being.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
On a family visit to the local pet shelter, your kids see a cute little fuzzy hamster. This hamster has special needs and requires some extra care. Can kids care for a hamster with special needs? My kids have rescued several hamsters who all had extra care needs as compared to many other hamsters. But just because some kids have had success with this does not mean that all kids will. It also depends on each unique situation.
Before adopting, consider the animal's needs. Not all special needs hamsters will be the same. Some needs will be minor, allowing a child to care for them. Yet others may be more complex. If your child can handle all of the extra responsibilities that will come with a special needs hamster, it's a great service to adopt an animal in need. My kids adopted a hamster named Buddy who was blind in one eye. They were able to provide the care he needed. However, his previous owners (who also happened to be kids)didn't treat him so well. If your kids are responsible and capable enough to provide for a special needs hamster, there is little reason not to adopt.
How serious is the animal's condition? Will the hamster need medicine or other frequent vital care? If so, can your child handle that? Is it better for the special needs hamster to go to a different home? If the kids cannot meet the hamster's needs effectively, as the parent you will need to do that. Sadly, Buddy's previous owners did not think of that. Once the kids couldn't care for Buddy, the solution the parents had was to bring Buddy back instead of caring for him themselves. While it might have taught them they couldn't have a pet if they couldn't provide care, it may have inadvertently taught them that pets are not as important as people. Animals have feelings too. If your kids are going to adopt a special needs hamster, be sure your home is the right one. Animals deserve to be part of a loving family just as much as people do.
What does the vet say? Talk to the shelter and/or animal hospital staff about the animal's condition. If possible, have a vet assess the situation beforehand and let you know if your kids are the right pet parents. The vet will be able to tell you everything your family will have to do in order to properly care for the hamster. In Buddy's case, he needed no medicines, as he was born blind. But since he had been abused and neglected, he was a bit feisty. He would bite any and everything that came within a few inches of him. The kids and I had to show him lots and lots of love and tender care for months before he stopped biting. He also was a little overweight because he had been deprived of food before. So he would hoard his food and overeat. In the beginning, he didn't even know how to use his hamster wheel and he would hide in a ball in the corner of the cage. If your kids adopt a hamster with special needs, such as depression, overeating, and aggressiveness, will they have the time and patience to help the hamster overcome it all?
What does your child's doctor think? Sometimes hamsters with special needs may also be sick. While it isn't common for kids to catch anything from their pet hamster,it is possible. Also, if your child has any conditions that weaken the immune system, a sick pet is more likely to infect your child. Talk to your child's doctor about the special needs hamster and any known conditions before adopting. Your child's doctor will be able to tell you what to watch out for and also give you some handy hints to help prevent illnesses spreading from pets to kids and vice versa. The vet should do the same. But your child's pediatrician is the best resource geared toward kids and the vet is the best resource geared toward your hamster.
Is the related care something a child can handle responsibly? While your child may be good hearted and have good intentions, remember that you are still dealing with a kid. Kids don't always stick to their responsibilities. Is your child responsible enough to complete every step in the animal's care plan every single time? Think about any other tasks your child has and whether they get done effectively. Also, consider your child's overall attitude toward animals. If you believe your child can adequately care for a special needs hamster (and you will take over if they don't), then what are you waiting for? Go welcome home your new family member.
* I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Parents, Please Educate Your Kids Before Adopting a Pet: Lessons From Buddy the Hamster, Rescued From Neglect
by Lyn Lomasi, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Buddy the hamster is happily snoozing as I write this. He is nestled all cozy in his pile of natural bedding and other nesting materials. However, our cute little fuzzy family member wasn't always so happy. His situation is one of thousands involving pets of all kinds that constantly urge me to tell parents to please educate their kids before ever adopting a pet.
Buddy's previous owners were kids and the parents did not step up to help Buddy when the kids did not take care of him. Their solution was eventually to return Buddy to the pet store. That's when my mom and one of my daughters stepped in to save Buddy. We were not even looking for a pet yet. But who else was going to adopt an abused hamster who was blind in one eye?
Your pet is not a toy or a decoration. This an important lesson that all children need to learn. I know what you are thinking when I talk about a hamster. It's just a hamster. There's the problem. Buddy is not an 'it'. Any living creature is not 'just' anything, but is the same as you and me. Kids need to know this before ever getting a pet. No matter how big or small, animals have feelings just like us. When you don't feed them, they feel starvation, just like you would. When you don't play with them, they feel neglected, just like you would if no one paid attention to you.
Pets require love and attention. You cannot buy a pet and just let him sit there on the shelf in his cage. He needs your love and attention. If your kids get a pet, they need to give him lots of love and attention. In Buddy's previous home, he did not receive love and the attention was the worst kind. When we first brought him home, his gut reaction was to instantly bite anything that came anywhere near him. It took months of love and special attention to get him to the point of allowing anyone to hold him without him showing aggression. If you met Buddy the day he came to us and again now, you would think you were meeting two different hamsters. His personality has completely changed - all because of love. Of course, the opposite could also happen in an instant, if he fell into the wrong hands again.
Pets require proper care. Just like a baby, your pet relies on you to thrive. Your kids need to know this. In Buddy's situation, he was not properly fed, not given water often enough, not paid attention to, nor was his cage cleaned often enough, if at all. He already had a hard life (being blind in one eye) and neglectful pet owners made it that much harder on poor Buddy. When Buddy came into our home, he did not even know how to use the hamster wheel or the hamster ball. All he did at first was sleep in the corner of the cage and every now and then he'd get up to eat or drink. Now that he is being cared for properly, he runs in his ball and wheel daily and stands up begging for attention whenever anyone is near his cage. He is much more active than he was when he came to us. Not feeding or caring for an animal can cause them to have depression, be ill, or even die from neglect or starvation - just like if that happened to a human.
Educate your kids before getting a pet. Talk to your kids about proper pet care. Buy books and do research together on the animal your children will adopt. Many pet stores and shelters have special classes that kids can take on how to properly care for their furry family member. If your kids are not responding well to pet lessons, by all means let someone else adopt the pet. You may think you are doing a good deed when adopting a pet in need, but if your children will neglect the pet, it's a much better deed to let another family take on that responsibility. It is very true that having a pet can teach responsibility. But at the same time, kids should be knowledgeable of their care and be willing to provide it before ever adopting an animal.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
You glance at your hamsters and they are standing upright making moves as if they are in a boxing ring. Do hamsters box? As an experienced hamster parent and rescuer, I've seen this behavior in several hamsters. I know what you're thinking: "Are my hamsters really boxing?"
Are my hamsters boxing? Yes and no. Hamsters often stand on their hind legs. If they feel threatened or frightened at the same time, they may also kick with their front legs and hiss or squeak. This results in what appears to be boxing. If two hamsters are doing this to each other, it may appear as if they are in a boxing match. If they do this to a person or to their cage bars, it may look like they are practicing for a match.
Why do hamsters box each other? This is a natural defense reflex that some hamsters have. I have noticed as a hamster rescuer that Russian dwarf hamsters seem to do this more than Roborovskis. When Robos are frightened, they usually hiss loudly, squeak repeatedly, and retreat. Although, I have also witnessed Roborovski hamsters boxing as well. When hamsters do this, it means that something has frightened them or seems like a threat. Many hamsterscannot be housed together in the same cage because of the possible boxing or fighting. While generally friendly with humans, hamsters can be vicious with their own kind. All of our rescue hamsters always have their own cages to prevent this type of issue. Sometimes they will see or smell each other through the bars and box the cage walls briefly.
Why do hamsters box with people? Whenever there are quick movements from large objects (like a human's hand) near our rescue hamsters, they immediately begin to box. They will do the same if someone touches their food dishes or taps their cages. If your hamster is trying to box with you, this is an indication you have done something to frighten or harm your hamster. Give your hamster time to calm down and be sure you don't repeat the action that prompted the boxing. If your hamster boxes you all the time, slowly gain trust. Occasional treats and lots of talking with a soothing voice can help. Your hamster also may be simply frightened of your hand invading the cage. One of our hamsters is this way. If we want to take him out, he is much calmer if we simply open the door and let him climb out into a hamster bed. From there, he will climb into someone's hand.
Should I encourage my hamster to box? Absolutely not. This can cause your hamster to think of you as an enemy. Your goal is to discourage the boxing when it comes to the way your hamster interacts with you. Because this is a natural defense mechanism, the goal is not to discourage the act completely. Your hamster should only box you if you're doing something to make him feel threatened or unsafe.
How can I stop my hamster's boxing habit? Talk to your hamster in a calm and soothing voice often. Do not ever act scared or angry toward your hamster. If you are calm, the hamster is more likely to be calm. Slowly regain trust by using treats and a gloved hand. The reason your hand should be gloved is that your hamster may bite while boxing. While hamster bites do not always hurt, they may cause an automatic jerking reaction from your hand, which can injure or stress out the hamster. Make it a habit to soothingly call your hamster's name, provide a treat, then leave your gloved hand there afterward to invite the hamster to come to you. After repeating this for as many days as it takes, your hamster is likely to begin coming to you without boxing. If not, a vet may offer other suggestions or tell you to leave your hamster be unless it is time for the exercise ball or to change the cage.
*Always contact a licensed veterinarian for the health of your animals. The information above is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified professional and is derived solely from the author's own personal experiences.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
I can’t even remember exactly which of us started it. But my kids and I have taught the dogs their commands in multiple languages. We like to learn and use multiple languages in our household. Since we do it, the pets should be no different. They’re a part of the family, too.
The first one we tried was the sit command in French. The dogs had that one down in less than a day. The Shih Tzu seems to prefer the French commands most now, actually. Since one of our dogs may have some black German Shepherd in her and my oldest teen had started learning German at the time, we thought it would be fun to try some German, too. So that was the second language we tried.
Surprisingly (well not so surprising to us anymore – animals are smarter than some think), they catch on to each new word from each new language quite quickly. So far, the dogs know commands in English, French, and German. Since they are doing such a great job, we may add more at a later date.
UPDATE: We’ve since added Spanish and they took to it quickly.
Since we rescued our fur babies from shelters, it is unknown whether they were taught other languages prior to being with us. However, they sure did pick them up quickly, regardless.
A few hints if you wish to try this with your dogs:
1.Only use languages in which you know how to correctly pronounce the words. There is no point in teaching it incorrectly and it will defeat the purpose if your dog ever has the opportunity to interact with someone else who speaks that language.
2.Use a reward system. Food usually works best, such as a favorite treat. However, some dogs would rather perform for a special toy, praise, or even for both food and praise. You know your furry friend best. Choose accordingly.
3.Use proper hand signals or dog sign language when giving each command in any language. This helps the dog learn faster and also adds another language at the same time (sign language).
4.Don’t force it. Not every trick or command is right for every dog. Give your dog breaks while learning and if the learning is not working or your dog is upset, don’t continue. Stressing out your dog will not help the learning process. However, it may hinder it and make it harder to teach or even be considered abusive. If your dog is not happy at any point, stop.
*Image Credit/Copyright: Lyn Lomasi (Bo-Bo the Shih Tzu performing tricks for treats)
**I originally published this on Bubblews.com (no longer published there).
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Being a single mama to four kids, two grand-doggies, a grand-hamster, and a grand-gerbil (the pets are all rescues), I am always trying to save as much money as possible. Being a shih tzu, Bo-Bo gets fuzzy and in need of a groom very quickly. He also has eye and skin allergies, which require him to be cut in specific ways.
Since we are trying to save (and raise) money to move and open an animal rescue (www.heartandmindpawrescue.com/1/post/2013/02/help-us-open-heart-n-mind-paw-rescue.html), I've been cutting back on many things lately.
Anyone who has a fancy dog breed, like a shih tzu knows full well that tons of maintenance comes along with that responsibility. But who says I have to shell out that money to an expensive groomer? Yesterday, I decided to experiment and try it myself. I've groomed a cockapoo in the past, so I should be able to do this, right?
Oy, Bo-Bo is probably laughing at me on the inside with this one. He absolutely loathes getting groomed. Right now, his haircut is maybe 7/8 of the way done and I started yesterday. I was able to get about half of the thick winter coat shaved off yesterday and decided to do the rest today. So far today, I did succeed in getting down the rest of the thickness, the underbelly, and part of his legs.
I now have his face, part of his legs, and the shaping before I can say I'm finished. Wish me luck because his face is the part he hates the most and so far I have not been able to successfully snip more than one teeny piece I got while catching him off-guard. He's a smart and cranky little fellow when he needs to be. He even tells the other dog to “f*** off” when annoyed with her (no, we did not teach him that -- he knew that when we adopted him from the shelter) and also vocalizes “want out” and a few other phrases.
I must say he was much more patient today than yesterday, so we are making progress. I could probably get it done faster by just getting down to it and making him sit through it. But I prefer to do it in love and in his comfort, so it may take me a bit. But I shall get it done.
Wish me luck, send me positive energies, whatever you can do. I'm gonna need it to get this finished.
*Photo Credit: Lyn Lomasi
I originally published this elsewhere (no longer published there)
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
The other day, I smelled a foul odor as the kids came in from outside. I immediately knew the scent. Having two dogs in the house, at first I thought one of them had an accident. But upon further inspection, I realized one of the kids brought it in on their shoes. Ah, the fun of living in a large apartment complex.
The thing is, when you leave your pet's business laying around outdoors, it is more than just nasty. It's a health hazard to you and everyone around you. Toxins, parasites, and more can all be found in a dog's feces. It spreads common diseases such as giardia, Ecoli, salmonella, roundworms, and more (www.drsfostersmith.com/Articles/clean_up_waste.cfm).
What can you do to help? Well, of course you can clean up after your own dog. But you can also spread the word to neighbors. Some people may not realize how their pet's feces can impact people and the environment. Dog feces can even contaminate water to a point where beaches need to be closed and the water isn't safe (usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/science/2002-06-07-dog-usat.htm).
I have a neighbor with many health issues who owns a dog. She is not able to clean up after her dog and I understand this. Therefore, when her dog makes a mess, I clean that up as well, as if it came from my own dog. I have dogs as well, so to me, it's only a small added amount of cleaning up on top of what I already do.
It would be great if more of our neighbors were that helpful because unfortunately, even with dog cleanup stations all over the complex, people without valid reasons still leave dog feces everywhere. Thankfully, none of us caught anything (that I know of) from the dog feces the other day. However, that doesn't mean we won't next time.
Do yourself, your dog, your neighbors, and the world a favor and clean up after your dog.
And for heaven's sakes people, if you're going to have a pet, know what responsibilities come with that BEFORE making the adoption.
Photo Credit: Lyn Lomasi
*I originally published this here elsewhere
As I write this, my 8-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter are cleaning a hamster cage and a gerbil cage. I'm such a mean mom, right? Not exactly. They're willing participants and there are several reasons kids with pets should be doing things like this. Our first hamster was neglected by children in another family before we adopted him. It happens more often than some realize. But it can be prevented.
Respect and love for animals starts early
It's more difficult, though still possible, to teach an adult to do things differently than it is to teach kids about something right from the start. The earlier a child starts learning how to have compassion for animals, the better. Part of that includes providing them with the things they cannot provide for themselves, like clean water, a clean cage, and food. If your child is neglecting the hamster, please address it immediately.
If your child is going to “own” a pet, they also own the responsibility
Owning an animal means caring for that animal. Helping kids care for their first hamster is all about responsibility from the start. If your child adopts a hamster but you end up being the one to clean the cage, provide food and water, provide stimulation, and handle other care, this defeats the purpose. If your child is not ready for all that, your child is not ready for a pet. All parents should properly help their child adopt a hamster with preparation.
Having pets teaches further responsibility and life lessons
By learning how to provide for a hamster, your child will learn important life skills that all humans can learn from a hamster. They will also learn many other life lessons from hamster care that can be applied elsewhere.This might be practice for babysitting, working elsewhere, or even as preparation for caring for oneself. Kids with pets should be learning how to budget for their care, what types of food they need and how often, what stimulation is appropriate, how to be gentle, and much more.
Does your child have a hamster or other pet? Are they caring for them as they should? Please leave your thoughts and concerns in the comments section below.
Pulling herself slowly with all of her might, a small black puppy – who looked very unhealthy – landed at my feet, exasperated from the efforts. I immediately bent down and patted her head, looking around to see if anyone was missing her. The only people in sight were completely ignoring her and walking by. I scooped her up in my arms, instantly falling for her and knowing something was very wrong. The kids and I were on the way to a relative's to celebrate a birthday for my oldest. This was not the sort of surprise we were expecting to occur on this day.
When the kids and I missed our first bus that day, we were frustrated knowing friends and family were awaiting our arrival. But as soon as we met with this helpless being, we knew right then why we were late. She was meant to find us and we were meant to help her. Why else would a puppy in such condition happen to come across a family passionate about helping animals – a family who had just recently adopted yet another from a kill shelter? At the time, we had no idea what we were getting into or what kind of dog this was – just that she was a creature in desperate need of love and care.
I dropped the kids off with the relatives, so as not to ruin the birthday fun and I took the puppy to get some help. She got scanned for a microchip, since she had no collar. I also proceeded to cool her down with free help from some kindly experts. It turned out that she was suffering from heat stroke and would have likely died not long after we found her had I not been there to help. I got her cooled down nicely and since no owners could be immediately detected, I had no choice but to bring her back to the birthday celebration with me. I wasn't met kindly with this decision by some people. But I can be stubborn when it matters and I did what I knew was right.
We knocked on several doors throughout the neighborhood up and down several blocks looking to see if she had escaped a loving owner, but it was to no avail. No one had seen her before or knew who she was. So we took her home that night. The kids named her Lulu as an assumed temporary name and she took to it right away. Because the area no-kill rescues were not able to help right away, I decided to let her stay for a while and provided her information to several places (like shelters and veterinary clinics) in case someone was looking for her. She was even put up on the popular lost section of one of the most common area shelters with zero results. The two calls we received in the entirety of Lulu's stay with us were not even close to leads.
Flash forward to a few months later and Lulu was doing so much better. She had grown both up and out. She was skin and bones when we found her but plumped up with us rather quickly – to the healthy size she should have been. Her coat was finally shiny and you could only see some of her prior scars if you knew where they were and looked closely. And Lulu was in love with us. We were a family. She chose my 8 year old son the first night and never left his side after that. We were still looking to see if Lulu had a family out there missing her. But our hope was fading.
Then, one early Sunday morning, sometime close to Christmas, I heard a rude knock at the front door. Because I am a single mom, I rarely open the door unless I know exactly who is there and know that person well. I looked out the peephole and saw a familiar stranger – a neighbor who I had seen yelling at other neighbors before. So I opted not to answer. I'm sure he knew we were there because my son and youngest daughter had been snuggling on the balcony with Lulu just minutes before the knock. He knocked a few more times, louder each time. We were silent, including the dogs. Then, came the yell “Animal control is on their way for that dog!”
I still didn't answer and still didn't quite understand which dog he meant or why. I then heard a faint voice utter “pit bull” and it dawned on me what she may be. Shit! If she was, they weren't allowed in my building or in my city. All that time, we thought she was a labradane or a lab/pointer. I took her to one place, hoping I was wrong and we could keep her. They affirmed my worst fear about the situation before I even asked. “Ma'am, this is a pit bull. We can't guarantee what will happen if she needs to stay here.” I cried and hugged Lulu close and I told them she wasn't staying there.
I enlisted the help of a good friend and we attempted one place that said they could help rehome her. But once we got there, they stated a 25% chance she would be euthanized. Again, I was not accepting that fate for Lulu. She was a good girl right from the start – untrained at first due to her condition, but extremely loving, tame, and very happy-go-lucky. No way was anyone going to kill her just for being born as a so-called vicious breed. No way. This is the kind of thing BSL (or Breed Specific Laws or Legislation) causes. Banning specific breeds often hurts innocent animals and family, rather than punishing someone truly at fault. My nickname for the BSL laws is “BS Laws” because, from what I can see, that is exactly what they are – BS – pure bull$***.
The third try was a charm. I found a place that would help Lulu find a good home and if for any reason she could not be adopted out, they would sign her back over to me so I could make sure she was safe. This was more hopeful. I didn't want to give her up at all. But I obviously had no choice. So, with tears in my eyes, I filled out the paperwork, giving them the equivalent of a book, outlining everything I could think of about her that would fit on the pages supplied. Some of the pages had text spilling over into the sides of the pages that weren't lined or meant for answers. But, I didn't care. I wanted to make sure everything was covered. This wasn't the time to stay in the lines.
Because of Lulu's undying loyalty to my son, she refused to go into the examination room and would only go with the staff when they had my son come along. She was the same way regarding the kennel. She would not leave a room my son was in. So we had to lead her to the back and put her inside that cage. We don't cage our animals at all, so this is the part where we all really started to break down. But for Lulu, we hid the pain and gave her love while she wiggled her happy body, not knowing what was really happening. She trusted us fully and while I felt like we completely let her down, I knew in my heart this was the only way to save her from a worse fate. But I still felt that I had failed her, seeing her trusting eyes on me from inside the kennel. I completely broke down at that point and had to leave.
Lulu ended up getting what is hopefully her furever home just days after we signed her over. I know that we saved Lulu's life, not once, but twice. The pain still cuts very deep, and I am in tears writing this. But stories like Lulu's need to be heard because people need to know the true consequences of BSL (Breed Specific Legislation). Yes, some people do raise pit bulls to be mean, vicious, attack dogs. But they are not born that way. They are naturally loving dogs, like Lulu. It is the people doing wrong, not the dogs. Don't punish the breed. Don't punish the animal. Punish the people in each specific offending situation. BSL is nothing but racism and segregation all over again, only this time it's within the dog race instead of the human race.
Lulu was one of the lucky ones, even though she went through quite an ordeal. Why? Because she is alive. Sadly, most of these dogs don't get as far as Lulu did. They are killed every day in American shelters, simply because of who they are. They didn't ask to be here and they don't deserve to be treated this way. According to at least one source, pit bulls are the number one bred dog in the United States. They're also the hardest to adopt out, in part due to BSL and in part due to misinformation being spread about them. Every year, 3-4 million dogs are euthanized in the United States. It is said that at least a third of them are likely bully breeds, maybe more.
What am I doing to help change this? For starters, I am working on opening up my own no-kill animal rescue. I also spread the word in various ways and bring attention to current bully breeds at risk of being euthanized in United States shelters.
You can view some of my rescue work at Heart 'N Mind Paw Rescue
All Images © Lyn Lomasi; All Rights Reserved
(You tell me how vicious Lulu looks in these photos...)
Pit Bulls Were Once America's Babysitter
What's in a Name-Bully Breed and Pit Bull Myths
Banned Breeds are no More Aggressive Than Others, New Study Finds
Why BSL Doesn't Work
Why Not to Breed Pit Bulls
Happy New Year!!! But wait, before you shout those words, consider your pets. Some animals are very sensitive to noises and bright lights. New Year's Eve can also be a dangerous time to have them out and about. So, how do you keep pet safety in mind on New Year's Eve?
Prevent fears ahead of time. Long before New Year's Eve hits, you can begin to get your pet used to noise and lights. Fireworks can create both, as can the noisemakers people use to ring in the New Year. Taking pictures of your pet frequently is one way to get them accustomed to bright lights. If you have kids or a noisy household, they may naturally become accustomed to loud noises.
Keep windows closed and shades drawn. If your pet is not accustomed to bright lights, you can accommodate him by drowning out the noise and lights.
Play soft music and leave on the lights. If the noises and lights outside are still overwhelming, even with the shades drawn, put on some soothing music and keep the lights on. This can help drown it all out.
Be there for your pets. If there is a possibility that noises and lights will scare your pets, the best thing you can do for them is stay home. Invite your friends to your place on New Year's Eve so you can be there to comfort your pets with your soothing voice and gentle touch.
Keep your pet indoors. In addition to all the noise and commotion, there are likely drunk drivers as well. The last thing you need is for your dog to get scared by the noises and lights and be blindsided by a drunk driver. Keep your fur babies at home on New Year's Eve.
Always remember that the best pet parents put their animals first. A minor inconvenience or adjustment on your part can make a world of difference for your pet.
More Pet Care Articles from Lyn:
Humane Ways to Adopt a Pet for Christmas
Homemade Hamster Treats: The Perfect Gift for Hamster Lovers
Parents, Please Educate Your Kids Before Adopting a Pet
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Heart 'N Mind Paw Rescue
Pet Rescue Journal
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Raising Pet Positive Kids
Supermom... Kind Of
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Pawsitive Pet Training Tips
Spirit of the Wild Lands & Animals
Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans Content Community. Services include ordained soul therapy and healing ministry, business success coaching, business success services, handcrafted healing jewelry, ethereal and anointing oils, altar and spiritual supplies and services, handcrafted healing beauty products, and more!
Lyn is your brand healing, soul healing, marketing & content superhero to the rescue! While rescuing civilians from boring business practices and energy vampires, this awesomely crazy family conquers evil and creates change.
They live among tigers, dragons, mermaids, unicorns, and other fantastic energies, teaching others to claim their own power and do the same.
By supporting us, you support a dedicated parent, healer, and minority small business that donates to several causes. Profits from our all-inclusive store, Intent-sive Nature support these causes and our beautiful family!
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