Under the leadership of the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland (ASAP), the Portland metro area is poised to be named one of, if not the safest major metropolitan city in America for homeless pets. The six largest public and private animal shelters in the Portland/Vancouver metro area saved an unprecedented 91 percent of all cats and dogs that came through their doors in 2013. That is nearly double the national average according to the Humane Society of the United States.

Thanks to a strong community effort by veterinarians, rescue groups, adopters, donors and volunteers, participating shelters have decreased euthanasia rates of cats and dogs by 76%, since the alliance formed in 2006. As a result, the Portland community is gaining national attention as one of the largest and most effective animal welfare alliances in the country.

PetSmart Charities, the largest funder of animal welfare efforts in North America, is showcasing the success of ASAP on its website. PetSmart Charities funds a large part of ASAP’s highly successful low-cost spay/neuter program “Spay & Save.” In four short years, the program has altered over 41,000 cats of owners in need of financial assistance as well as stray and feral cats. This in turn has resulted in 35% fewer cats entering the shelters.

“It takes a village,” notes Stacy Graham, Executive Director of The Humane Society for SW Washington, “and the people of the Portland/Vancouver area have truly stepped up to help animal shelters save as many homeless cats and dogs as possible. In order for us to continue to lead the nation, we need to stay dedicated to sustaining this huge community accomplishment.

THE FACTS:

In 2006, 4 out of 10 animals were euthanized in Portland

In 2013, ASAP saved 91% of the almost 32,000 cats and dogs taken into Portland shelters

Saving over 29,000 cats and dogs last year, means that not only easily adoptable animals such as kittens, puppies, healthy and social animals were saved. ASAP credits their rescue partners, veterinarians, adopters and their unwavering league of volunteers and donors for helping save the lives of the animals that needed a little extra help and placing them into homes as well.

Since 2006, ASAP has worked diligently toward achieving its goal of saving as many cats and dogs that can humanely and responsibly be saved. ASAP implemented several cutting-edge programs to decrease shelter intake, provide medical and behavioral services to shelter pets, increase transfers of pets between shelters and rescue groups, and encourage adoptions.

In order to sustain this success, here a few things you can do to help:

Adopt from shelters and rescue groups – the national average of people adopting their pets from shelters is only 20-30%.

Foster shelter pets at home – help with Moms and kittens, or pets that need a little extra time

Support the shelters financially to enable additional medical and behavioral support

To get involved today, please contact ASAP at asapmetro.org or your local animal shelter and become an adopter, volunteer, foster parent or donor.

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For those of us who have loved and lost a pet, fortunately there are many ways to commemorate our beloved companions — and after having gone through the loss of Scout in June of 2013, I thought I would share some ways I found to remember my girl.

Ashes to ashes. When I first posted this picture on Facebook, I received quite a few replies from people who had been holding onto their dogs’ ashes for years, not really knowing what to do with them. To me, it felt weird to keep Scout “in a box,” so once I learned about Rainbow Bridge Hearts from my friend Julie Forbes, host of The Dog Talk Show with Julie Forbes (who had been saving her dog Chewy’s ashes for over four years), I knew this was perfect. Essentially, Rainbow Bridge Hearts creates a piece of glass art with your pet’s ashes swirled in (the white/silvery swirls are Scout’s ashes). You can choose a Galaxy Ball (shown here), a Heart, or a Tea Light, each with several color combinations to choose from (I chose brown, tan and amber to match Scout’s coloring).

Art mimics life. Another way to commemorate your pet is to commission a custom portrait.  This gorgeous painting of Scout is by dear friend and local artist, Angie Ketelhut (artbyangie.com). Angie’s goal with every portrait is to create a piece of art that captures not only the physical attributes of her subject, but also the essence of each pet’s personality, which she does beautifully here, from the sparkle in Scout’s eyes to the wrinkles in her brow. Angie’s inspiration is drawn from photos of your pet as well as learning about the things they loved, which she incorporates into each painting.

Say cheese! Obviously this is something to set up before your pet passes on, but hiring a professional pet photographer for a custom photo shoot is worth every penny, especially if you’re like me and rarely take pictures of your own — and when you do, they’re blurry, blown out, or grainy. A talented photographer, who is experienced working with pets, will create beautiful photos that will last forever. This picture of Scout is by friend and photographer Julie Clegg with Bailey & Banjo pet photography. Along with Julie, there are several talented pet photographers in the Seattle area, each with their own style and flare. For a more complete list, check out Pet Photographers and Artists in the CityDog Directory.

Create your own video. From Animoto to Vimeo to your own operating system’s software, there are countless programs to create a beautiful tribute to your pet. This is something I’ve been meaning to do for Scout, but haven’t gotten around to it, so I’m sharing a video a friend put together after her dog Lily passed. It’s a beautiful tribute to a beautiful dog — to view it, click here.

Loss is difficult in any situation and losing a pet is no exception. Finding special ways to commemorate your four-legged companion can help ease the grieving process — I know it did for me.

Did you do something special to commemorate your pet? If so, we would love to hear about it — please feel free to share in the Facebook comments below.

My goal with each commissioned portrait is to create a personal image, one which they can look at and feel the essence of their pet has been really been  captured,  along with a sense of life.  I work from a combination of photos, descriptions, and a bit of imagination.
My paintings are meant to bring smiles as the furry models themselves
make us smile each & every day.

My goal with each commissioned portrait is to create a personal image, one which they can look at and feel the essence of their pet has been really been captured, along with a sense of life.

I work from a combination of photos, descriptions, and a bit of imagination.

My paintings are meant to bring smiles as the furry models themselves

make us smile each & every day.

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Last week, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) released its annual State Rankings report—the longest-running, most comprehensive report of its kind. The report tracks animal protection laws across the United States. Check out this ever-popular report to learn where your state ranks, and what states are the best and worst to be an animal abuser. Take action here to improve your state’s animal laws.

However, not all animal laws—like the good ones that strengthen penalties for animal neglect, dogfighting, and physical cruelty—make a whole lotta sense right away. In fact, some are downright wacky!

Did you know?

1. In Alaska it is against the law to push a live moose out of an airplane mid-flight.

2. If you live in Arizona, you aren’t allowed to let your donkey sleep in the bathtub (horses can’t be kept in bathtubs in South Carolina, just fyi).

3. In the Golden State of California, animals can’t mate within 500 yards of a church or school (Just how is this law observed, enforced, and punished )

4. Colorado folk must have some strange habits, because it is illegal to drink and ride a horse.

5. Here’s one that’s animal friendly: in Connecticut dogs with tattoos must be reported to the authorities.

6. In Georgia, people can no longer give away goldfish at Bingo contests.

7. In Idaho, there is to be no fishing! At least not while riding a camel.

8. In Iowa there is to be no eating of the fire hydrants. Especially if you’re a horse.

9. Maryland movie theaters do NOT allow people to bring lions.

10. If only this were true for areas of the world that aren’t land-locked: it is against the law to hunt whales in Nebraska.

These laws should be on the books in all of the states, or none of the states. For example, should it really have to be said that birds have the right of way on public highways? (Utah), and why did Vermont see fit to ban the tying of giraffe’s to telephone poles (and why was this law repealed??)

Wackiest of all, for 2013, Kentucky—a state perpetually at the bottom of ALDF’s state rankings report—has determined that, you simply cannot release a feral pig into the wild.

But what are the best new laws for 2013? Here are a few highlights!

1. In California, you can no longer use hound dogs to hunt bears and bobcats – which is bad for the bears and bobcats, and the dogs, and other wild animals caught in the middle.

2. Cosmetics tested on animals may no longer be sold in Europe. India also instigated such a ban, the first country in South Asia to do so.

3. Three states passed anti-Breed Specific Legislation (that targets pit Bulls): Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Nevada.

4. Oregon amended its anti-cruelty laws, including new requirements for animal rescues.

5. North Dakota overhauled its anti-cruelty laws including adding its first felony cruelty provision.

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Not surprisingly, pop culture tends to have an impact on the names people pick for their pooches (although, I’ve yet to meet a dog named Kanye, Kim or Miley…). But, Bella (ala Twilight) is the No. 1 name among dogs insured by Pets Best, so yeah, pop culture comes through!

While Lucy took the No. 2 spot for canines, other favorites in 2013 include classic dog names that remain popular throughout the years, such as Max, Buddy, Molly and Charlie.

Here are the Top 10 Dog Names of 2013 (is your dog one of them?):
1. Bella 2. Lucy 3. Max 4. Charlie 5. Daisy 6. Molly 7. Buddy 8. Lola 9. Maggie 10. Bailey

Source: Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC, a leading U.S. pet insurance agency

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Alisa Johnson is a Navy wife and active duty Marine officer training to be a pilot. As if that wasn’t enough, she is also founder and president of her own nonprofit organization called Dogs on Deployment (DoD). For these reasons (and because she seems like an awesome person…read more below), Ms. Johnson has been nominated for Military Spouse of the Year and as a fellow dog lover, we wanted to show our support.

About Dogs on Deployment

DoD matches military pet families with foster families needing homes, helping more than 100 families by linking them with people to provide temporarily care. Alisa rescues animals herself, helping find them homes and assists with medical issues and spay/neuter costs. Her website, Facebook page and blog are filling a vital service in the military community helping pet families and keeping animals out of shelters. She’s constantly looking for creative ways to spread the message and help others, contacting families weekly on Craigslist to let them know there’s options other than leaving a pet behind. She finds military pets at shelters doomed to die and then leverages her massive Facebook page (18,700 fans and counting) reach to bring them to safety. She’s also helping in the effort to ask for a consistent joint pet policy and to give all pet owners the ability to enjoy base housing, regardless of breed. An online petition asking for breed neutral policies that she helped start has nearly 25,000 signatures.

“Pets may be an afterthought in some people’s minds, but Dogs on Deployment promotes and celebrates the human animal bond, putting pets where families who love them know where they should be; an integral, cherished member of the military family.

Her [Alisa's] advocacy, education and love for pets shines through in everything she does. Her education efforts focus on building responsible pet communities by proper pet training, spay/neuter, registration/chipping, moving resources among other information services.

She’s also a team player and leader. She frequently partners with other organizations supporting pets and their families to increase the support for Dogs on Deployment so that they can help more military families. Pet businesses with a an interest in the military can partner with her and offer supporters discounts Her active list of volunteers who spread the word about Dogs on Deployment through pet festivals and other outreach venues.

Alisa does all of this while maintaining her fulltime military duties, supporting her Navy husband as he performs carrier deployments and she takes care of two dogs, a parrot and recently single-handedly remodeled a new home. She frequently shares her personal life with her fans and sets the example, rescuing abandoned pets and finding homes for animals with no other options.

Please consider honoring Alisa for her lifesaving accomplishments keeping military families with their pets.” Theresa Donnelly, Military Member

To vote for Alisa Johnson as Military Spouse of the Year, click here.

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Legal limbo is over for 149 dogs rescued from a warehouse near Salem. The owners of the dogs, who are facing animal neglect charges, voluntarily relinquished ownership of the pets to the Oregon Humane Society yesterday. OHS hopes to have 40 – 60 of the rescued dogs available for adoption in two to three weeks.

The dogs were rescued Jan. 13 by OHS and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office from a warehouse in Brooks, just outside of Salem. Many of the dogs were extremely underweight and lived in small crates that were stacked on top of each other. Marion County charged the three individuals who operated Willamette Valley Animal Rescue with 10 counts of first-degree animal neglect, 10 counts of second degree animal neglect and one count of attempting to tamper with physical evidence.

“We were extremely concerned that the rescued dogs would be caught in a legal battle for months without any possibility of adoption,” said OHS Executive Director Sharon Harmon. “Now that ownership of the pets has passed to OHS, we are going to place these dogs in new homes as soon as their health allows.”

OHS expects the healthiest of the rescued dogs to be available for adoption in two to three weeks. Many of the dogs are still extremely underweight, and need additional care to ensure their recovery. “Once these dogs get back on the road to health, we think their recovery will go even faster when they are with a loving family.”

More details about the upcoming adoptions will be posted on the OHS website as they become available. Potential adopters will be required to complete an adoption application before seeing the pets. The dogs range in age from puppies to mature dogs, and include German shepherds, terriers, daschunds and mixed breeds.

Yesterday’s surrender of the pets to OHS does not affect the status of the ongoing court case.

Celebrating 144 years of service, the Oregon Humane Society is dedicated to helping animals and people. Last year, more than 11,500 animals were adopted through the Oregon Humane Society and over 1,000 reports of animal abuse and neglect were investigated.

PHOTO: Dr. Kris Otteman, OHS Director of Shelter Medicine, examines dog during rescue in Brooks.

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Super Sunday typically equals several hours logged jumping up and down on the couch, shouting at the television, and consuming mass amounts of waistline expanding substances that lead to a serious calorie overdose, all while a befuddled pet looks on.

Pets aren’t passing judgment as they watch the party’s outrageous antics. They are simply imploring you with their eyes to take care of their special physical, mental, social and emotional needs, which in turn, will surprisingly help pet parents avoid the dreaded Monday morning, “Big Game” hangover.

Since not everyone speaks dog, cat, fish, hamster or the like, esteemed animal behaviorist, Dr. Debra Horwitz, and “America’s Veterinarian”, Dr. Marty Becker, have partnered with Petco to translate for your pet and share these four tips to avoid overdoing it on game day.

TIP #1: By recording halftime commercials you can take care of your pet’s physical and social needs by taking a quick trip to the dog park. Not only will this provide your pet with the exercise it needs to care for its physical health, it also provides social benefits for you – pet owners have a tendency to want to talk with other pet owners. Plus, February 14th is coming up and if you don’t already have a Valentine, you may find one at the dog park. And for those worried about missing the second half of the game, opt for an activity closer to home like a walk around the block or a rousing game of fetch in the yard.

TIP #2: Fans will consume some 11 million pounds of chips and 450 million chicken wings on game day, which makes this America’s second biggest food consuming day of the year behind Thanksgiving. Guests may be tempted to sneak these fattening foods to pets, but people food can be harmful, particularly chicken wings, which pets can choke on. Do pets a favor and offer healthy, pet-specific treats so pets can share in the big game spread. Plus, antacid sales see a 20 percent increase the Monday morning after the big game, so follow suit with nutritious snacks for people to ensure that no guests’ physical health suffers.

TIP #3: When the action gets intense and fans are on the edge of their seats, take a moment to pet a furry friend. Giving a pet some love strengthens the human animal bond, provides for a pet’s emotional health needs and studies show it has even greater benefits for people. The hormone oxytocin kicks into high gear when petting an animal, helping to reduce blood pressure and decrease cortisol, a hormone related to stress and anxiety. Even stopping to watch fish swim will make a difference in your mood. And if your team is on the losing end, therapists have been prescribing pets for years as a way to deal with depression.

TIP #4: Create a quiet place. Loud party voices and booming music can make pets anxious. Even well-socialized animals are likely to be pushed beyond their limits. To take care of pet’s mental health, make sure pets have a restful room or area to which they can retreat. And if you’re getting particularly worked up, it may be good for you to have a timeout from the game too!

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Citizens from across Washington participating in the annual Humane Lobby Day will assemble at the state capital, Monday, January 28, to rally in support of animal protection legislation and to meet with lawmakers to urge them to pass animal protection bills.

Humane Lobby Day is hosted by The Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA and Wolf Haven International. The citizen advocates will also hear from Rep. Hans Dunshee, who is being awarded The HSUS’ 2012 Humane Legislator of the Year Award for his years of strong leadership regarding animal protection.

Humane Lobby Day attendees will urge their legislators to support the following bills:

Bill to ban the routine docking of dairy cows’ tails.

HB 1201/SB 5203 – Prohibits selling, bartering, or auctioning of animals upon certain public property or upon certain private property open to the public.

HB 1202/SB 5204 – Modifies animal cruelty provisions relating to the crimes of animal cruelty in the first and second degree, animal fighting, and leaving and/or confining an animal in a motor vehicle or certain enclosed spaces.

SB 5081 – Strengthens state ban on shark fins and derivative products. “Finning” is an abhorrent practice that involves slicing off the fins of a shark and discarding the animal at sea to drown or bleed to death. Unsustainable fishing methods like this have led to declines by as much as 90 percent in some shark populations during recent decades. A ban on shark fin products is the most effective way to eliminate the demand for shark fins and to eradicate shark finning around the world.

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Make 2013 a better year by taking to heart a New Year’s resolution for your four-legged friends. The Oregon Humane Society encourages everyone to adopt one (or more) of these resolutions for the upcoming year:

1.    I will get exercise by walking and playing with my dog every day.

2.    I will keep my cat mentally and physically healthy with at least five minutes of kitty playtime every day.

3.    I won’t procrastinate or miss veterinary exams needed by my pets.

4.    I will be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves and will report animal neglect and abuse when I see it.

5.    I will give the gift of compassion by volunteering at a local shelter and/or by making a financial donation to help pets in need.

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It’s winter in Washington and with temperatures in the 30s and 40s, hypothermia is a real possibility for dogs.

Hypothermia, occurring in both humans and pets, is a condition characterized by abnormally low body temperatures. There are three phases of hypothermia: mild, with a body temperature of 90-99 degrees; moderate, with a body temperature of 82-90 degrees; and severe, with a body temperature of less than 82 degrees. With hypothermia, a dog is no longer able to control normal body temperature resulting in an abnormal heartbeat and difficulty breathing.

Generally, hypothermia results from spending too much time outside in the cold. Although there is not a specific time limit for a given temperature a dog should be left outside, Dr. Stacy Eckman, lecturer at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, says time spent outside in the cold should be restricted.

“The amount of time a pet should spend outside varies based on how acclimated the pet is to cooler temperatures,” Eckman says. “Typically, we do not recommend indoor pets to spend considerable amounts of time outdoors in cold temperatures without supervision.”

Hypothermia should be considered when taking any pet into the cold for long periods of time, but some are more susceptible to the illness than others. Smaller, younger dogs, for example, are likely to lose their body heat faster resulting in hypothermia, Eckman adds.

“Geriatric patients may take medications that alter their ability to regulate their temperature and blood flow making them also more susceptible,” she says.

She adds that Arctic breeds such as Huskies or Malamutes can be less prone to hypothermia than other breeds because of their thicker coats.

If a dog is left in the cold for an extended period of times, signs of hypothermia to look for are shivering, lethargy, weakness and shallow breathing. The more severe the case of hypothermia, the worse the signs will appear.

“After a period of time, the shivering stops and they become more neurologically affected,” Eckman says. “Their heart rates may drop to dangerous levels, and it can be fatal.”

It is important to take the pet to the veterinarian or seek a veterinarian’s advice if hypothermia is suspected. Once there, the veterinarian can monitor the pet’s heartbeat, breathing and temperature. If the temperature falls below 98 degrees, Eckman says the veterinarian will start “active warming” on the pet. Active warming includes placing warm blankets or heating pads on the animal and feeding it warmed oats or rice. Eckman cautions that owners should not perform these methods of treatment before consulting a veterinarian.

“Items such as heating pads should never be applied directly to pets as this can cause thermal burns,” she says.

For severe cases, the veterinarian may give warmed IV fluids or warm water enemas to the pet.

Another result from leaving a dog in the cold for long periods of time is frostbite. Frostbite occurs on areas least covered by fur such as ears and tails. Signs of frostbite include red, swollen areas or pale, white areas. As with hypothermia, it is important to consult a veterinarian if frostbite is suspected.

To prevent hypothermia and frostbite, it is recommended that pets, particularly smaller, younger or older pets, are not in the cold for extended periods of time. Eckman also recommends putting sweaters or booties on the pet to keep them warm.

“Dogs with coats and booties may look cute, but this ‘fashion statement’ may protect from hypothermia,” she says.

This winter, whether staying in Washington or traveling, remember to monitor the temperature if your pet is spending extended periods of time in the cold.

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