Animal Advocacy

Black Dog (And CAT) Bias – Last Adopted, First Euthanized

posted March 15th, 2011 by
  • Share


DADS (DIME A DOZEn) and BBDs (big black dogs) are labels for black dogs at municipal animal shelters in America. And these dogs often pay the ultimate price for their coat color.

They are routinely passed over for adoption in favor of other color-coated dogs, which is why they are the first ones to be “pulled out” for euthanasia when there is no room for new arrivals with better chances.

Older black dogs are sometimes killed as soon as they exit the animal control truck, because of the attitude “why even try.” Black cats and kittens fare no better due to superstition and lower visibility as they hide in the back of cages. Visit your local shelter with an eye out for black dogs and cats and you will understand. Even cute black puppies don’t sell well by retailers or breeders.

This is nothing new. Even Celts, Vikings, and Romans linked black dogs with bad omens and demonic incarnation. Primitive minds in today’s world still do.

Black dogs and cats which languish at rescue shelters are sought for adoption before Halloween by those practicing witchcraft and associated superstitions and blood sacrifices. Reputable rescue organizations prohibit adoption of solid black, solid white and black/white cats and dogs during the Halloween season.

British Islanders believe eerie black dogs haunt castles and graveyards, while Central and South America are rich in negative “perro negro” legends. Superstition and fear may explain the curious moniker “black dog” for depression and drug induced hallucinations.

Because domestic animals reflect human preferences, the idea that dark-colored dogs are more effective deterrents to enemies was not lost on those who selectively bred black from wolf grey. Over time and breeding, black became the “default” color for domestic dogs.

However, black is not evident in the Canidae family – wild dogs such as Dingo, Culpeo, Dhole, Bush Dog or wolves, jackals, foxes or coyotes. Only the endangered African Wild Dog or Painted Dog has splotches of black.

Part of the reproductive success of darker dogs is that they are more resistant to the UV spectrum and therefore less susceptible to skin malignancies. While they are more prone to heat exhaustion, cancer claims fewer lives and that favors their genetic lineage.

The fact that black dogs appear more forbidding is also an advantage in the survival game. Even sheep are quicker to react to black and dark-colored stock dogs than to lighter coat colors.

Many people, however, do admire the elegant, slick, intense good looks of darkcoated breeds and their mixes. Dog behaviorists, veterinarians, responsible breeders, and human companions agree there is no link between the color of an animal’s coat and undesirable character traits.

Black dog bias, low adoption rate and high euthanasia in municipal shelters is hard to prove with numbers because animal control shelters and humane organizations do not keep data on size, breed and color of dogs euthanized or adopted. Empirical data, however, indicate that more black animals wait longer to be adopted and run out of allotted time in city shelters.

Discussions are beginning about how to encourage adoption and create appealing environments that show off dark-coated dogs, cats, and other small animals such as rabbits.

“Not only black, but dark brown, grey, brindle or merle dogs are also long-stay residents at shelters,” says Jess Chappell, a volunteer photographer at the Royal SPCA in York, UK. “They simply just don’t stand out in poorly lit facilities, and so they are less noticeable or attractive. It would certainly be interesting to compare adoption rates in shelters with good and with bad kennel lighting!”

Ambient lighting is one of several image enhancements that humane societies and animal control departments can provide. Other solutions are suggested at the various websites in the information list.

Essentially it all boils down to exposure with pizzazz: “Black Coat Gala,” “Hair O’ the Black Dog Happy Hour,” “Black CatWalk Night,” “Shelter-Black-is-Beautiful Pageant,” are some of the imaginative fundraising and adoption event themes shining the light on black dogs.

A friend, owner of a black dog, acknowledged recently that he did not know about black-dog bias. Eddie’s beloved Labrador retriever, Danner, is his first black dog. “Now that you mention bias,” he said, “I realize that while I can’t clone Danner, because of him there is no question that the next dog I adopt will be black. That’s my bias.”

Reverse bias for BBDs would be welcome.


Once a Bait Dog: Jewel Under the Scar

posted March 15th, 2011 by
  • Share


THERE ARE PEOPLE who get a thrill  watching dogs fight to the death. I was bred  specifically to encourage these fights for the  entertainment and profit of people.

I was called a “Bait Dog.” Although I have  fighting in my ancestry, my nature is not to  fight. I am submissive.

At a young age I was thrown into a fighting pit. The purpose was to trigger aggression of the  dogs scheduled to fight. I was injured many  times. People say I was one of the lucky ones. The people took a little better care of me than  the others. I was submissive and they wanted  me to remain so.

I finally refused to stand up for myself. Then  the people bred me, knowing if they threw  my puppies into the pit, I would try to protect  them. I tried but despite my efforts my pups  died in the jaws of the fighters.

Finally, some kind-hearted humans stepped  in. They took the bad people to jail and I was  put in a foster home. I had surgery so that I  would have no more puppies. I was thin and  my coat had no shine. All I wanted was a real  home.

One day I was taken to a PetsMart store. I  was there all day but it seemed no one wanted  me. I was so scared. My foster dad took great  care of me, but he could not continue to care  for me and he knew I deserved a good home.

A woman came in the store and sat on the  floor nearby. Gently she reached out to me!  I could hardly believe it. I  snuggled in her lap and did  my best to tell her I was a  good girl. I so hoped she  would look past my scars  and realize that I was not  mean, that I only fought  to protect my babies. She  heard me. She adopted me  that very day. I was given  the name Jewel.

It has been a long road for  us. My old injuries required  me to have a canine extreme makeover. I even  had to have my tail cropped. But now I have a  wonderful short-tailed-boxer-like-twitchy-butt! 

I live in a loving and caring home with Mom,  Dad, Buddy and Ely. Daddy calls me his  Sweetie Girl. Buddy and Ely are rescues too! I  like that. I have been with my family for 8 years  now.

Today I am no longer called a Bait Dog. I am  a proud member of the Johnson family, loved  and cared for every day. Look beyond my  scars and you will see that I am in fact a jewel.

If you have a chance to rescue one of my  brothers or sisters, please do. We may not be  puppies when you first see us, and we may  not be perfect, but we make loving pets and  we never forget who saved us.

Animal Welfare Fight Not Over Yet

posted March 15th, 2011 by
  • Share


Throughout The Last three months  we have seen media reports of “puppy mill  closures,” with some breeders claiming that  the recently drafted regulations for Oklahoma  kennels will cause them to close their doors.

Some Legislators are beginning to act on  behalf of breeders and their unsubstantiated  fears.  

In December, a network of Tulsa area  shelters and rescue organizations, along  with Dr. Chet Thomas of City Veterinary  Hospital, worked to provide temporary care  and housing for 197 adult dogs and puppies  released by breeders shutting down.

And while some breeders blame potential  regulations for their closing, it should be  noted that closing a business prior to public  hearing or approval of new regulations  indicates:

• These breeders would have closed,  regardless of the regulations.
• Growing awareness of puppy mills has  prompted a downturn in puppy sales.
• The slowing economy has impacted “impulse” sales that comprise  pet store puppy purchases in the  Northeast, the primary site of puppy  retail sales.
• Thousands of dogs have lost their  homes to foreclosures and job losses,  reducing the number of homes  available to dogs from any sources,  including puppy mills.
• Blaming forthcoming regulations for  breeders is a convenient excuse for  closure.

For any one or all of these reasons, some  breeders decided that it was not worth  continuing in this industry no matter what the  regulations may be.

Oklahoma residents, including readers of  Tulsa Pets Magazine, are asking what they  can do to help insure the welfare of dogs,  considering breeder closures and efforts  of breeders to dilute  or kill regulations  requiring basic  improvements for the  health and welfare  of dogs in breeder  facilities.

First and most  important, the  animals need your  voice; efforts at the  state Capitol aimed  at helping animals  will be aided by a  grass roots voice in  every community.   Contacting your  Legislator is the most  important step for the  animals. Puppy mill  operators are making  their voices heard loud  and clear.

Use e-mail, snail mail  and phone calls to let  your Legislators know  that, as a constituent,  you support the  proposed rules of  the Oklahoma State Board of Commercial  Pet Breeders specifically and animal welfare  efforts generally.

Currently, puppy producers are claiming  that last year’s passage of breeder  regulations “will shut us down” and their  position as victims has been heard by a few  Legislators. At least three bills are before the Legislature aimed at repealing or amending  Senate Bill 1712, the statute creating the  Board of Commercial Pet Breeders, or to  repeal or diminish the regulations proposed  by the board.

Breeders have overwhelmed the board  and Legislators and any extra measures  on behalf of welfare of the dogs were  eliminated during the comment period,  which led to continuing to allow small cage  sizes and no mandatory rest period between  mother dogs’ breeding cycles.

Let your Legislators know that breeding  facilities not complying should be closed.   The rules proposed by the Commercial Pet  Breeders Board ensure basic necessities  such as food, water, living conditions  and veterinary care. The proposed new  regulations were changed following lobbying  of breeders. You can view the rules in their  entirety at documents/Rules%20Adopted%2012-22 2010.pdf.

Second, puppy mills are a consumerdriven industry and retail puppy sales are  declining. You can help promote that trend. Pet stores and Internet sites are the main  sales venues for puppies. As consumers  become more aware of the conditions  in puppy mills and the congenital health  problems of the puppies, the more people  turn elsewhere for a dog.

Increasing numbers of educated and  caring people are adopting a pet from an  animal shelter or rescue organization instead  of purchasing from a retail store or from  the Internet. According to the Pet Food  Industries Council, 24 percent of dogs are  now acquired from shelters, compared to 17  percent a few years ago.

You can support this trend by helping  raise awareness of the benefits of shelter  adoptions, while deterring people from  buying a puppy from the for-profit breeder  industry.   Volunteering at a shelter, promoting  adoptions, and generally working on behalf  of homeless pets all help to indirectly  diminish the consumer base that drives  this industry. A letter to the editor, a guest  column and sharing info with friends helps in  this effort.

A recent Tulsa World poll showed  that at least 70 percent of Oklahomans  support regulation of puppy mills. However,  regulations designed to limit the number  of dogs in a breeding facility have been  blocked for years by an underground  industry, which is regulated or even banned  in many areas of the U.S.

Breeders are successful in getting what  they want written into the regulations or  fighting to eliminate any new regulation. It is time to put this indulgence behind  us. Breeders claim to be serious players  in Oklahoma agriculture, but they are not.   Hiding behind the fear of regulations does  not serve our state well.

It is time to support the new agency  created through the passage of SB 1712,  ask the Legislature to move forward to  address other issues facing Oklahoma, and  allow last year’s widely-supported bill to do  its job.

Petfinder’s 15th Anniversary

posted March 15th, 2011 by
  • Share
Petfinder 2

Story by Kristi Eaton

Today marks the 15th anniversary of, the No. 1 pet site in the world. In its 15 years of operation, more than 17 million animals have been adopted.

The idea for came about on New Year’s Eve in 1995, when Betsy and Jared Saul started discussing the new phenomenon known as the World Wide Web. Being animal lovers, the couple decided to create a site connecting shelter pets with adopters.

Creating the website became the couple’s New Year’s Resolution. The goal was small enough in the start: save the life of one homeless animal per month and the website would be worth it.

So the couple began their quest. Betsy would call local shelters and rescue groups in and around New Jersey after work to see if they would try the new concept while Jared, who was in medical school at the time, built the website. In 1996, the site officially launched.

By 1998, the response grew and the site went national. Canadian groups joined in 2000, making the site truly international. To keep the site free for visitors and adopters, Betsy sought out corporate sponsorships.

In 2003, the Foundation was created, donating more than $10 million to shelters and rescue groups. And in keeping up with technology, the site launched an app for the iPhone in 2010, making it even easier for people around the world to adopt a pet. Today more than 13,000 shelters and rescue groups in North America use the site.

SB 637 Threatens the Start-up of the Oklahoma Commercial Pet Breeders Board

posted March 3rd, 2011 by
  • Share
Oklahoma Capitol

 By Ruth Steinberger

 On Monday March 1, Senate Bill 637, a measure which would disapprove the rules proposed by the Commercial Pet Breeders Board, passed out of the ‘Ag’ committee with a vote of 9 to 1. This bill would render the agency unable to inspect kennels, issue licenses or investigate complaints. Additionally, as an agency structured similarly to other regulatory agencies in Oklahoma, this agency is sustained through licensing fees instead of state appropriations (this funding structure includes the medical, dental, veterinary and cosmetology boards), this bill would virtually strangle the new agency by preventing it from collecting funds.  SB 637’s unstated goal is to close the doors of the new agency and to allow puppy mills to remain unregulated in Oklahoma.

                   Last year’s passage of SB 1712, or the Black Market Breeders Bill, created an agency which would develop rules which would be passed during the legislative session this year. The proposed rules were posted, and following a comment period which ended in December 2010, they were modified to meet virtually all of the concerns raised by the breeders. The rules became consistent with USDA regulations in almost all aspects of care and facilities.  If not disapproved, Governor Fallin has 45 calendar days into the year in which to sign the rules, setting the new agency into action.

Senate author Charles Wyrick (D-Fairland) has denied that the rules proposed by the new board largely mirror the USDA regulations, and on February 21 Wyrick argued in the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee against mandates which were no longer in the proposed rules, focusing on details which he acknowledged had been removed.  The current proposed rules are virtually consistent with USDA regulations.

According to a Tulsa World poll, over 70% of Oklahomans want regulation of puppy mills. So, while proposing an outright repeal of the law may be unpopular, SB 637 would nullify the new agency by disapproving the rules. 

SB 637 is a threat to the success of animal advocacy during the 2010 legislative session and also is a slight against every single Oklahoma business which pays its taxes, an issue which has been ignored. 

               The 2010 passage of the “puppy mill bill” placed the commercial pet breeder regulations under title 59 of the Oklahoma State Code in a section called Professions and Occupations, and the licensing compels breeders to collect and remit sales taxes to the state in a manner consistent with other retail businesses.  According to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, as of the time of the passage of the law, not one Oklahoma sales tax permit had been issued to a business calling itself a dog breeder. Yet according to USDA listings Oklahoma is the second to the largest puppy producing state in the nation. 

               On a typical weekend, over 150 classified ads for puppies appear in the two largest newspapers in our state. And while USDA dog dealers may sell some dogs to out of state vendors, and thereby are not required to collect sales taxes on those puppies, the puppies which are produced and sold in Oklahoma would represent cash sales of over forty million dollars.    Some of the puppies may not sell each week but every week there are new ads and more puppies.   When you add in internet sales and flea market sales, it is clear that this is big business.  In addition to keeping cruelty hidden in the barn, SB 637 gives the puppy mills a green light to continue to avoid taxation.

               Although this business is large enough to have its own section in the classified ads of the state’s two largest newspapers, not one business has applied for a sales tax permit.

               Oklahoma Pet Professionals, an organization which represents many high volume USDA dog breeders, opposes the law although the law now mandates premise standards which they are already compelled to meet. If it seems difficult to understand why breeders who already meet these regulations continue to oppose rules which mirror what they already follow, consider that the USDA license does not compel them to declare their actual sales and it is not tied to any business tax.  In fact, because it presumes the dealer is a wholesaler, a retail sales tax permit is not a part of the USDA mandates.

               This isn’t about some theoretical freedom-this isn’t about protecting agriculture-this is about animal cruelty and flagrant tax evasion. 

Please stop the ruse! Please ask Senator Brian Bingman and Senator Mike Schulz not to allow SB 637 to come to the Senate floor for a vote.  It is time for Oklahoma to resolve the ‘puppy mill issue,’ and to move forward.

Contact them at Senator Brian Bingman, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 422, Oklahoma City, OK 73105, (405) 521-5528 [email protected] or Senator Mike Schulz, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 418
Oklahoma City, OK 73105, (405) 521-5612, [email protected]
               Please continue to tell your legislators to support the immediate passage of the Commercial Pet Breeder rules to the governor for her signature. 

Oklahoma can stop puppy mills and move forward on other issues.

For information also check out Oklahoma Humane Federation at

Animal Advocates Please Call In!

posted February 25th, 2011 by
  • Share
Rebel #3 2

By Ruth Steinberger. 

 The 2011 Oklahoma legislative session started with a bang as animal advocates closely watched four pieces of senate legislation intended to repeal or seriously amend the Commercial Pet Breeders Act, or SB 1712, a law which passed last year in order to regulate Oklahoma’s vast unlicensed puppy mill industry.  Following passage of that bill, an agency was formed to draft regulations which now await passage by the rules committee. The rules, which include mandatory inspections, will take effect later this year upon passage by the rules committees in both houses.  Breeders are still working hard to stop the regulations! 

Coming up on Monday, February 28 SB 637, a bill to disapprove the proposed rules will be heard in the ‘ag’ committee and SB 773, which combined two other bills, and which would seriously alter the new regulatory agency, remains under consideration. 

Essentially, SB 637 would stall the start up of the new agency for at least one more year, allowing breeders to continue to reap their unreported cash and SB 773 would tie the regulatory process to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture while also exempting many breeds of dog from protection under the law.  SB 773 has serious implications; the Oklahoma Board of Commercial Pet Breeders would lose its’ self sustaining financial status and some dogs would be denied basic protections. It would strangle the ability to open and run the agency.

Considering that not one Oklahoma sales tax permit has been issued for a business declaring itself to be a dog breeder, and considering that the new agency was created as a self sustaining agency that relies on the licensing fees as many other agencies do, it is hard to understand why some Oklahoma legislators feel the need to punish dogs and Oklahoma tax payers alike by forestalling these regulations. 

Our successful efforts of last year are still being attacked by a misinformation campaign by breeders who hope to stop the regulation of the puppy mill industry. 

These breeders walked the halls of the capitol despite the proposed rules being changed to meet nearly all of the demands they made in a public comment period that ended in December, 2010.   The rules are virtually consistent with USDA dog breeder regulations and are considered a bottom line standard.   You can view a side-by-side comparison of the proposed Oklahoma rules and the USDA rules on the Oklahoma Humane Federation website at

Please contact:

Agricultural Committee Members and Contacts

Senator Eddie Fields – Chair

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 514B
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5581
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Becky Welch

Senator Ron Justice

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 423
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5537
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Linda Terrill 

Senator Mark Allen 

Senator Mark Allen
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 415
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5576
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Suzanne Earnest

Senator Patrick Anderson 

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 417A
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5630
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Kathie Gasaway  

Senator Don Barrington 

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 515
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Sandra Shelton

Senator Randy Bass 

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 528B
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5567
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Donna Ambler

Senator Jerry Ellis 

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 535
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Jean McCurley

Senator Tom Ivester 

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 529A
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5545
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Pam McLerran

Senator David Myers 

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 519
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Betsy Ingraham

Senator Frank Simpson 

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 513B
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5607
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Glenda Colbert

Senator Anthony Sykes 

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 426
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5569
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Tonya Lewis

Senator Charles Wyrick

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 521
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-5561
[email protected]
Executive Assistant: Linda Bostick