Category Archives: animal welfare

When a military dog retires…

Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society

Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society

The US military trains and uses dogs for a variety of reasons – and the dogs and their handlers develop a deep bond with one another.

The 2016 fiscal year military appropriations bill recently passed the House of Representatives and included a provision that mandates that all suitable military animals be made available for adoption. It also says that each animal’s handler — the person who these veterans most trust and rely on — shall be given priority when it’s time to adopt.

The bill is making its way to the Senate and it’s time to let Washington lawmakers know that you think this special provision should stay in the final version.

The Best Friends Animal Society has started an online form that enables you to ask your U.S. senators to support section 594 of the bill.   Follow this link to the Legislative Action Center to take action.

Over the years, I have written a number of stories about dogs, military service, and the health and welfare of these special service animals.  Visit these posts:

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand


Dogs, biosecurity and Johnny Depp

The recent story about Johnny Depp’s Yorkshire Terriers, Pistol and Boo, and their deportation from Australia has some lessons in it that I think have been overlooked.

That’s not totally surprising when you have an Australian Minister like Barnaby Joyce fronting to the media with comments like  “It’s time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States.”

Inflammatory, yes.  Headline grabbing – yes.   But lacking in good information for people to understand the Australian position on the dogs and what the public needs to know when arriving in the country.

Happy Dogz salon's Lianne and Ellie Kent with Pistol and Boo; it was the dogs' visit to the groomers and the subsequent Facebook photos that caught the attention of the Australian authorities

Happy Dogz salon’s Lianne and Ellie Kent with Pistol and Boo; it was the dogs’ visit to the groomers and the subsequent Facebook photos that caught the attention of the Australian authorities

Australia and New Zealand have some very unique flora and fauna – thanks to their geographic isolation from other continents.  The countries are also free of diseases like rabies which are a worry in other western countries like the United States and the UK and mean that animals there must be vaccinated (whereas here, they are not).

Animals can be imported to both Australia and New Zealand, but they are subject to quarantine to ensure that they are not carrying any diseases that could run rampant in these sensitive environments.   There are also requirements when importing semen, for example, for dog breeding.

So, Pistol and Boo were a legitimate biosecurity risk and their presence in the Depp party was apparently not declared.  And I hear that the Australian authorities are now investigating this to find out if Depp, or another member of his party, knowingly broke the law.

At this point, I’m prepared to give Depp the benefit of the doubt.  He and his wife love their dogs and are in the fortunate position to be able to fly them in comfort around the world in a private plane (whereas most of us can’t afford to travel long distances with our dogs, let alone worrying about them as they are treated as luggage in the holds of commercial aircraft).

They also have an ‘entourage’ that attends to their personal needs, and so I do wonder just how switched on Depp was in terms of filling out declaration forms on his arrival in Australia.  I suspect someone in his employment took care of these minor details for him – just as someone in his employment took the dogs to the groomers which started this whole saga to begin with.

So the lessons from all of this?

  • Love your dog, travel with them if you can, but understand your destination requirements in terms of quarantine and also your dog’s health
  • Understand biosecurity risks and obey the requirements of the country you are visiting
  • Treat breaches of laws seriously, but with respect for all parties.  Innocent until proven guilty, etc.
  • And use ‘headline grabbing’ stories for educational opportunities -an opportunity that Australia seems to have missed thanks to a headline-grabbing Minister

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

The consequences of rescuing a dog

Last week, a Georgia man named Michael Hammons spotted a Yorkie-type dog inside a hot car parked at a Athens, Georgia shopping mall.  He broke the window to rescue the dog.

When the dog’s owner returned, she was angry that he had damaged her vehicle and insisted that police charge him.  His and the dog’s story have gone viral in what I consider a welcome debate about animal welfare and the rights of individuals who step in to intervene.

It seems that Georgia isn’t one of the 16 US states that prohibits leaving animals in cars in unsafe conditions.   Advocates are now using this latest situation as evidence as to why the law needs changing.

Last year, I saw a couple leave their dog parked in the full sun at a local shopping mall with a large breed Lab cross in the back seat.  I phoned the police on 111 (New Zealand’s version of 911) and then waited by the car until they arrived.   I monitored the dog closely to see if he was showing signs of heat stress.

The police, followed by the SPCA, responded to my call quite quickly and the policeman took my details should I be needed as a witness.  And then he encouraged me to leave the scene since they would take care of the situation and wait for the people to come back to speak with them.

Have you ever helped rescue a dog from a hot car?  How were you treated?

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Robot dogs likened to Facebook

The Sony Aibo

The Sony Aibo

Sharing your live with a beloved dog is going to become unsustainable, says an Australian researcher, leading to a shift to companion robotic dogs.


Dr. Jean-Loup Rault, an animal welfare researcher at the University of Melbourne, Australia says that this prediction is similar to describing the power of Facebook to someone 20 years ago.  “If you’d described Facebook to someone 20 years ago, they’d think you were crazy. But we are already seeing people form strong emotional bonds with robot dogs in Japan.”

Dr Rault says that when a robot dog dies in Japan because it is not repairable, many owners hold a funeral  for it.

Dr Rault says the consequences of a shift towards robotic pets will be good for people who suffer from allergies, but may also cause a shift in ethics – with people more detached from the suffering of mortal beings.

I don’t want to live in a world that goes backwards in terms of animal welfare.  And I can’t cuddle up in bed at night with a robot, nor see the blissful look on its face when I massage it.

I hope Dr Rault is wrong.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

You can read Dr Rault’s article in the journal Frontiers of Veterinary Science by clicking here.

Source:  Market Business News

Innovative advertising to increase adoption rates

I am not, generally, an early adopter of technology.  That doesn’t mean that I am not grateful for all that technology can do for us, it’s just that I have to take time to learn things at my own pace and I’m frugal.  Let’s face it, I didn’t get a smartphone until last year.   I don’t think I would be without it now.

Now I hear that the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has teamed with an ad agency to use specially chipped flyers to advertise and promote animal adoption.  Visitors to the Westfield Stratford Mall in East London were given the flyers.

As they walked around the mall, the chip would activate special billboards, allowing the dogs to follow their prospective adoptive family around the mall.

What a great way to combine advertising and technology for the good of animals in need of a home.  I wish my local mall would incorporate these types of ads – our local animal welfare groups could certainly use the help.  Not only would I do more of my shopping there, but I would also look forward to it!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand


Dogs and taxes

It is the 15th of April – Tax Day in the United States.  The deadline that comes around all too quickly, a date when every US resident must file a federal tax return with the Internal Revenue Service.  Most states also have state tax returns that must be filed today, too.

Tax the big dogs

Have you ever considered what your dog and taxes have to do with each other?

Unfortunately, unlike human dependents, our dogs are not tax-deductible.  So, please don’t try this on your tax return.

In New York state, however, officials and animal rights advocates have filed a state bill that would give anyone who adopts a pet from a New York animal shelter a tax credit of $100, or $300 for up to three animals per year.

The bill is sponsored by Kevin Parker, a state senator from Brooklyn, and would cover all domesticated animals offered for adoption.  City Councilwoman Julis­sa Ferreras, from Queens, introduced a resolution backing the bill, which would make New York the first state to grant such a credit.   In New York State alone, shelters can care for up to 8 million dogs and cats each year; about 3 million are euthanized because there is no one to adopt them.


In terms of deductions, as I said earlier – don’t attempt to deduct your dog as a dependent.  It will only cause you tax troubles.

But, there are some dog-related expenses that are deductible:

1.  If you need a guide dog because you are visually impaired or for hearing assistance, you can deduct the costs of buying, training and caring (food, grooming, veterinary care) for your guide dog as a medical expense.  The same holds true for dogs trained to help you with any other diagnosed physical or mental condition.

2.  If you use a dog in your business, such as for security purposes, the cost of keeping the dog healthy – as with a guide dog – can be considered a legitimate business expense that is deductible.

3.  If you have to move house, pet relocation costs are also deductible as part of your overall moving expenses.

4.  Some people earn money from their dog-related hobbies – things like competing in dog shows, for example.  If those hobbies result in an income, you have to declare it.  But, the expenses you incur for pursuing your hobby are also deductible – provided that total of these expenses exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income before deductions.

5.  If you volunteer for a pet-related charity, and the charity is a registered 501(c)(3) adoption center, you can deduct mileage you incur for working on behalf of the shelter.  If you foster a dog and costs like food are not fully reimbursed – these are deductible too.  It helps if the organisation you are working for provides you with a letter acknowledging your volunteer work on their behalf.

6.  Some owners set up pet trusts to protect and care for their pet after they pass away.  Trusts have tax advantages in terms of tax deductions.  But, it is important to have a lawyer who understands your local estate planning laws to help you with the set up of your trust.

Really, with any tax-related matter it is best to seek professional advice and remember to keep good records!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Sources:  New York Post, Bankrate




How scrap metal could help a dog in need

Tucker and Rejeanne Asselin, who is appealing for donations of scrap metal to help fund Tucker's surgery (photo by Fort Erie Times)

Tucker and Rejeanne Asselin, who is appealing for donations of scrap metal to help fund Tucker’s surgery (photo by Fort Erie Times)

Seven-year-old Tucker is a Blue Heeler-Boxer mix who needs surgery to remove a piece of plastic that has embedded itself in his tongue.  His owner, Rejeanne Asselin, said she needs to come up with at least $800 to pay for his medical bills.

Since Asselin lives on a disability pension, her fixed income leaves little room for spending on Tucker’s medical care.  So, she is appealing to her local community of Fort Erie, Ontario, to donate any scrap metal, copper, aluminum, pop cans and beer bottles that can be recycled and exchanged for money that will help pay the vet bills.

“It might not be much but it all adds up in the long run,” Asselin said.

“Everyone has scrap metal, or these kinds of things lying around the house. Every little bit helps.”

Asselin first noticed something was wrong with her “good companion” in January when he wasn’t eating or drinking very much.  It took her until February when she had saved enough money to take him to the vet for an exam.

At first, the veterinarian thought Tucker might have cancer. After he was given some antibiotics and pain medication, Tucker was sent home. The swelling in Tucker’s mouth eventually went down and upon further examination from the veterinarian, it became clear something was embedded in Tucker’s tongue.  It’s likely some type of plastic.

The foreign object can’t be removed until Asselin comes up with enough money to pay for Tucker’s treatment.  He is still on pain medication but is having difficulty eating and is restricted to soft food.

“He is my protector, my guardian and my family.  You can tell he’s in pain.  But, Tucker is a very sweet dog.”

Anyone with scrap metal or other items in the Fort Erie area is being urged to  call Asselin at 905-871-6005 .

Source:  Fort Erie Times