The Legend of the Blue Jay

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If you’ve never seen  Blue-Jay up close, you’ve missed on a character so complex that it seems like J.J Audubon’s words “Who could imagine that a form so graceful arrayed by nature in a garb so resplendent, should harbor so much mischief.” aren’t adequate to define one.

-They mimic hawks to protect their families.

-They are intelligent and social birds who have a dulcet of a voice.

-The use their voices to alert other species of birds when predators approach.

-They are nest-robbers.

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Nature in it’s bounty has given them a color so brilliant and markings so uniform and pretty that we have to stop and appreciate the artist who drew up these pretty birds.

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Then one of them fell to the ground today.

Unable to fly; it flapped it’s wings in front of a citizens car and hopped up and down. It’s neck lolling from side to side.

As I showed up on the scene, I noticed a stick approximately 4 inches long and 2 cm in diameter sticking out of it’s anus. As I removed the stick with a lot of care the bird collapsed into my palm.

This poor bird couldn’t hold it’s head up. The weight of it’s head kept on knocking it off it’s feet.

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The bird was in pain.

After making a few quick calls, I realized the only humane thing I could do was to put it out of it’s misery.

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There was no human to be held responsible, no case to be filed.

Somebody just put a bird through extreme cruelty and there wasn’t a thing I could do.

Tonight a social birds family waits for their mother’s familiar call but she lies silent by my desk. Silenced by me, silenced by us; humans.

Nature keeps on doling it’s bounty on us and we keep on abusing it. We don’t realize that the Blue of a Blue-Jay is more precious than the Green of the Dollar.

We don’t deserve the song of the Blue-Jay or what nature offers us with open arms.

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Hoarders R’ Us

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The worst form of animal abuse is when you are abusing an animal and in your demented mind, you think you are helping them.

Inflicting cruelty while being ignorant to it and then claiming a moral high-ground is the worst.

I got called out to a call today and the signs of beginnings of a hoarder situation were clear as day.

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-Inability to discard items that have nothing more than sentimental value.

– Inability to keep living conditions clean and hazard free.

And this was just in the backyard.

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As me and the Police officers entered the house, we smelled the Ammonia smell generated by cat feces and urine. Most hoarders are so used it that they cannot smell it in their house.

There were litter-boxes by the dozens, with dry feces in them. There were cat feces on the floor, under the bed, in the closet, on the mattresses, on furniture.

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Scores of old collectible items from the 60’s and the 70’s littered the house. Open cans of cat-food were scattered on the floor.

Among all this ciaos were 32 cats; hard to even count as some hid under the furniture and some frittered from one room to another. 2 separate litters of kittens were in the mix of animals.

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The owners were on vacation in Spain and in their mind they had RESCUED these cats; even the 4 kittens those lay dead amongst the mayhem or the cats with infected eyes and severe upper respiratory infections.

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One of the dead kittens had been almost completely eaten up by some of the biggest maggots I’ve seen.

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While investigating cruelty it is IMPERATIVE to get into the mind of the perpetrator. It is absolutely essential to be able to interview him/her so that you can understand their mindset and educate others.

I didn’t get a chance to interview them because they were overseas but I can see that they were novice hoarders. They had started recently (maybe within a year) and were getting there quickly. One can tell from the items in their house and the way they have been strewn. If the collectibles follow a theme (and their theme was old music LP’s and jukeboxes and sports trophies) then they can be helped with adequate and consistent counseling.

However, if they have been collecting items just for the sake of collecting (and in this case I saw that with the empty bottles of 66 in the yard those were buried halfway to form a path- in somewhat creative way) and the range is so wide that there is no theme; then you are in trouble.

In Houston we had pulled 72 cats and 23 dogs in a house half the size of the house I went in today. That was a point of no recovery for the humans.

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Prosecution and punishment are tools to dissuade in our fight against cruelty to animals. Real change however, will only be affected by education and to educate we need to understand people AND be empathetic; even to the perpetrators we all in animal activism are so ready to kill.

It’s a difficult task. Clearly it is.

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It’s harder to be empathetic and non-judgemental when someone has clearly hurt an animal so badly. When I see this human I will have the image of the kitten almost liquefied by maggots clear in my head- but when I interview him, I will be empathetic.

So help me, god.

The verdict of -GUILTY.

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Innocent until proven guilty; That is what human law is based on.

It’s different for animals.

Why?; Because we said so.

I went to a woman house today that has been built on a lot in the woods. She has peach trees those are frequented by skunks.

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Skunks eat, grasshoppers, beetles, frogs etc during spring and summer and fruits and vegetables in the winter. So this woman traps them in traps to save her peach tree and cats (from being sprayed).

Thats where I come in and enforce THE LAW.

All skunks must be euthanized anywhere they are seen or caught; be it babies or adults- that is it for them.

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The reason? Skunks are rabies SUSPECTS. They can transmit Rabies so we can’t let them live.

So explain this to me again? We move in on their land, then we trap them in their natural habitat and then we kill them?

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So I put my tranquilizer needle through the cage and the skunk uses the only defense mechanism it has.

It sprays.

Yes we all know its an offensive smell and it’s a skunk, but have you seen the fear in it’s eyes when it sees the syringe coming? When I introduce the syringe in the second time, it knows it’s out of the spray so it cowers into a corner and lets the syringe poke it.

It’s anal glands desperately eject the final drops of spray those aren’t even enough to make me recede.

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The woman is carrying her grandson and telling him that the “Skunk has to go see Jesus”.

It stops me in my tracks. Really, woman? You’e going to cutify killing a skunk to your grandchild?

As I walk away I ask her not to trap animals in 100 degree weather and leave them out in the sun because if they die, I will write her a citation for cruelty to animals.

She is angry now and says that the law doesn’t make sense.

Really, woman. How would you like to be caught in a cage without food or water and bake in the sun till you die or survive long enough to be executed?

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Then she speaks the most commonly spoken lie in the world. “I am an animal lover” she says.

At worst, It’s a dating line to attract the opposite sex. At best, it means that I love my pets. The rest of the animals can go take a hike.

That skunk and all other skunks and raccoons those are going to be trapped in the US today will all be presumed guilty.

There will be no trial, no defense; Just a verdict and an immediate punishment. DEATH BY LETHAL INJECTION.

Justice will die a slow death, though.

The Roles of Our Lives

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The Bhagvad Gita claims that ‘The Savior is bigger than the killer.’

We, at the Chuck Silcox center at FWACC play our roles in saving each soul. It’s a tale of sweat and tears for animals we feel responsible towards.

It all starts with the most important ingredient; one compassionate citizen who has witnessed an act of cruelty decides to be the voice of the hapless animal. So we get a call. The ladies at the call center are experts in assigning priority to calls based on urgency they hear in a citizen’s voice.

“These two dogs are tied in the backyard,” The citizen gulps for air. “They don’t have any food or water they are very very…” His voice starts to break. “Please help them.”

The Animal Control officer who responds knows the law backwards. We can’t enter someone’s yard without a warrant unless we perceive that an animal’s life is in danger. Minutes later, he dials the cruelty officer’s phone, “You’ve got to see this.” His voice is hurried. “Please drop everything and get here.”

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The cruelty officer has seen hundreds of emaciated animals with open, maggot infested wounds. Even he cringes at a puppy so emaciated that his pointed hipbone has broken through the skin from being unable to get up. The mother dog has a 25 pound bar-belle plate tied to her collar. The grass in the backyard so tall, that we heard the two pit bulls before we saw them. Flies swarm their ears and maggots crawl in their open wounds. The puppy is so weak that he falls every time he tries to get up. His furless white skinned body has created a small pit from repeatedly trying.

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The cruelty officer flips his phone. “I’m getting these dogs out of here, right now.” He dials the Vet at the shelter and calls for the emergency code.

As the truck pulls in to the shelter the dogs are transported to the waiting arms of the vet-techs. They name the puppy Duke and the mama Duchess. Naming animals makes their survival personal and half the battle is won. They hope that these two are not too far-gone to be helped.

Next day the Shelter manager and the Vet are sitting with the puppy in the yard when I walk out.

“I think we’ll have to put Duke down if he doesn’t eat.” The Vet helps the puppy to its feet but it collapses in a lump of skin and bones.

“Can we try a blood transfusion as a last resort?” The shelter manager draws back her auburn hair into a ponytail as she cups the puppy’s face with her palms.

“We don’t have a donor.” The Vet pinches his nose under his spectacles.

The shelter manager splays her arms. “What about the dog that got into a fight yesterday and is in recovery. The white and black pittie- Woodrow.”

“Well, I suppose we can try.” The Vet smiles.

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The shelter techs those clean Duke and Duchesses kennels everyday have bonded with them in the next 4 weeks. Slowly but surely they gain strength and their wounds heal.

The rescue coordinators at the shelter work overtime in finding these two dogs a rescue. They try to have mama and the puppy stay together while they learn social skills at a foster.

Finally after nearly dropping dead in hundred-degree weather, 5 weeks ago, Ms. Alix at Believe-A-Bull rescue steps up to take on the toughest task yet; Train them and then find them a loving home. She takes upon her young shoulders the task of reversing the cruelty these poor animals have faced at the hands of some humans.

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After getting a lot of care and tenderness at the shelter; Duke and Duchess now get love at Alix’s home. The grooming and cleaning; the training and playtime; the kissing and the cuddling transform them into lovable pets in two short months.

Then a family sees them for who they really are; sweet gentle souls. They get adopted and as luck would have them they are still together in the same home. Together they bring joy into a family that has been bereft of happiness due to circumstances out of their control.

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The shame that some perpetrators had put humanity through has been reversed a bit.

But this is just one story. We live these stories everyday. We get a new Duke and a new Duchess often. We do not let compassion fatigue get the better of us; we stand united as a voice for the voiceless at the Fort Worth Animal Care and Control center.

We as a society need to play our role too; one to prevent cruelty rather than fix the symptoms of it. One to teach our children compassion and love.

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And then there is my role.

I just observe and report.

50 Ways to Leave Your Puppy

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You surely have seen several ways to restrain a puppy.

But I’m sure you haven’t heard of this.

A puppy got dropped of at the shelter in the wee hours of the morning yesterday.

This rottweiler puppy had its legs duct taped together so it wouldn’t be able to get far away from the shelter till we found it in the morning.

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As we removed the duct tape off the puppy shivering because of the cold and out of fear, I realiszed that his hind leg was badly injured.

Then to underline the neglect this poor puppy must’ve faced- he tested positive for Parvovirus.

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We got him in an incubator and on fluids and although he did vomit and had diarrhea (he broke) he did OK through the day.

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In the evening I agreed to drive him to Austin for Austin Pets live where they treat Parvo puppies exclusively. Their building is nothing short of a fortified fortress against contamination.

I wasn’t allowed to go in more than 5 feet from where I had parked my Z-4. The puppy was plucked from my arms by the waiting Vet-tech staff and I was back in my fancy car.

I had once promised to protect my car from soda and eatables. Nobody was allowed to eat inside my car and today I transported a sick puppy that had Parvo. The smell of Parvovirus is so nauseating that once you’ve smelled it; the very mention of the word Parvo brings that smell to mind.

Tonight the puppy is safe and the car I love has been violated.

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STEREOtyping !!

Humans label things.

Aggressive, Pre-dosposed to fight, Dangerous-dog.

We take one look at an animal to deem its future. Even as the people responsible for educating people against stereotyping we become the first perpetrators of it.

If we aren’t their voices; what right do we have to take actions on their behalf?

Why do we assume the right of being judge, jury and executioner without being fair and biased?

This Rottweiler was marked aggressive because he went after an Animal Control Officer who had just entered it’s yard.

Imagine what goes through the head of a dog who has been kept to protect the owners territory when a person shows up in a yard dressed like this.

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Huge sunglasses to cover their eyes. A cap to cover their face. A big dog-pole in their hand. Wearing a uniform that some dogs recognize.

The dog attacks- and then backs off. All dogs do this; they always back off because they are COWARDS.

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So he gets put on the Euthanasia list but someone calls to adopt him last minute and he gets pulled off the list. Then they are told he is aggressive  (by us) and they back off, so he’s back on the E-list. Then by the weirdest stroke of luck we run out of blue juice to put him down because he’s a staggering 120 Lbs. and now is the last one on the list.

Lucky you would say; well then you can say it again.

So next morning he’s on the list again- but the rescue group has worked all night to find him a foster already, so he gets pulled off the list for a 3rd time in 24 hours.

Now you can call him a Lucky Bastard.

Because two days later- This is his new home and his new life. Filled with joy and love.

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Then we have Ryder. Abandoned at a house by the owner.

He’s been without food and water for a few weeks. So when the police show up to get him, he charges them. What do you expect from a very very high energy dog that hasn’t eaten for days and is still guarding his territory.

But the way our society works is this- Once the law enforcement labels him as aggressive – he is deemed aggressive and has lost his chance at life.

We all STEREOtype- It’s only when it happens to us that we get angry.

When we are called Black, Brown, Cheap, Flirts,Callous, Hardened, White-trash, Rednecks etc etc we get angry. Only when the shoe is on the other paw we stop caring.

So Ryder was on the E-list.

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So I found him a place and pulled him.

So everybody at the shelter called me crazy. Even my friends doubted Ryder.

But I had faith and a lot of hope.

So this is Ryder today.

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We need to be their voice. We need to allow for some of their screw ups; just like errant kids do sometimes.

We don’t send our children to the gallows every-time they fight or say something nasty.

Then why would we STEREOtype against these poor dogs who don’t even understand the implications of their actions.

Why can’t we just be more tolerant and FAIRER.