Toefu was one of 76 dogs rescued from the home of a hoarder in Tennessee in 2010. The dogs were found living in horrific filth, with fumes of ammonia and animal waste strong enough to send one rescuer to the hospital. All of the dogs were desperate for freedom; Toefu was number 16.
After their rescue, the animals were taken to a local shelter where they were treated for a variety of issues. It was there that ASPCA Animal Behaviorist Kristen Collins first spotted Toefu. Likely inbred, Toefu had an underbite, extra toes, and had never before experienced life outside of the hoarder’s home. Kristin adopted her and spent the next year helping the sweet spaniel overcome a lifetime of anxiety, fear and neglect.
In 2013, Kristin and her dogs moved to Madison, New Jersey, where Kristin began overseeing the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center—the first and only facility dedicated to the behavioral rehabilitation of canine victims of cruelty. It was there that Toefu discovered her true calling: helper dog.
This past week, dog breeders and owners came together in New York City to celebrate their definition of “best dog” in several categories at the nation's most famous dog show. One of those categories, introduced in 2014, allows mixed-breed animals to compete amongst their pure-bred counterparts in an agility contest. This year, 15 mixed-breed dogs were among the 330 dogs competing in the agility category. It’s a small but important step in the right direction.
In that direction, all dogs are celebrated, regardless of their lineage, circumstances, condition, or residence. This also means committing time and energy to animals with the fewest advantages—not the most advantages— including millions of homeless dogs across the country in desperate situations.
We’ve been traveling this path for nearly 150 years, and now it has its own “competition”: Best in Shelter with Jill Rappaport, an NBC special airingon NBC owned television stations and NECN on February 21. The ASPCA Adoption Center in New York City is proudly participating, and three ASPCA-adopted dogs will be featured.
Created and hosted by journalist and animal advocate Jill Rappaport, Best in Shelter with Jill Rappaport documents her year-long search for remarkable shelter dog contestants, focusing on hard-to-adopt animals such as pit pulls, older animals and animals with disabilities. While the program ultimately declares “winners,” all of the selected animals find loving homes.
Several celebrities have signed up to lend a hand, including Betty White, Bernadette Peters, Bryant Gumbel, Lindsey Vonn and Emmylou Harris. But the big goal of this project—more so than crowning a champion—is spreading the idea that “best” dogs are everywhere…and they’re waiting for you at your local shelter.
Many of these animals came to shelters as the result of family changes such as death, illness, divorce or relocation. Some owners simply lost the financial means to care for their pets, while other owners abused them to such an extent that the animals had to be saved and seized by police.
Whatever their situation, these animals are innocent victims of human circumstance, and their rescue is in all of our hands. Let’s double our efforts to adopt animals in need and urge others to do the same.
Approximately 250 detectives, investigator supervisors and precinct special operations lieutenants gathered at the Police Academy in College Point, New York, to hear from our expert staff about topics including animal cruelty laws, forensic investigation, hoarding, blood sports and more. The day began at 7:00 A.M. with introductions from Sergeant Barbara A. Thomas of the NYPD’s Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad (ACIS) and the ASPCA’s Howard Lawrence, Senior Director of Operations, ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Group.
This training is part of an ongoing series meant to educate NYPD officers on key issues related to their expanded role and the resources the ASPCA provides for them. This was the second such training so far; the first was held in October 2014. The ASPCA will conduct additional trainings throughout the coming year with a cross section of relevant NYPD and NY City departments.
It’s awards show season, and there’s one high-profile ceremony we’re more excited about than any other: the World Dog Awards! We were pleased to take part in this televised event, which was hosted by George Lopez and aired on the CW Network Thursday, January 15. Several dog-loving celebrities appeared, and awards were given in various categories including “America’s Top Mutt” and “Top Movie Dog.”
During the event, the ASPCA presented actor Ian Somerhalder with the “Dog’s Best Friend” award, which is given to a celebrity who has done a great deal to advance dog-related causes and the welfare of homeless dogs. We selected Ian to receive this award because he puts his time, energy, and resources where his heart is: animal welfare. His dedication includes speaking out against animal cruelty, encouraging owners to spay and neuter their pets, supporting animal shelters and providing funding to welfare organizations and agencies that assist animals in crisis. He works on these goals through the Ian Somerhalder Foundation and offers grants to animals in need through the ISF Emergency Medical Grant For Animals. Ian’s work saves lives, and his commitment inspires others to take action and make a difference. The “Dog’s Best Friend” award was presented by actress Holly Robinson Peete.
"Protecting these animals is a priority," Ian said at the ceremony. "Thank you to the ASPCA for all the efforts and setting the bar for the way we should continue to protect animals."
Chicken Scratch is an ASPCA Blog feature that highlights interesting news about farm animals and their welfare.
This might be a new low. Lawmakers in Kentucky got sneaky and added ag-gag language to a bill to ban gas chamber use at animal shelters—a bill that the ASPCA and other animal welfare groups had previously come out in support of. They’re trying to make it illegal to expose animal abuse on factory farms. The same thing is happening in Tennessee. Please take action if you live in TN or KY. Wherever you live, become a part of our Advocacy Brigade to stay updated.
With the help of our advocates and a multi-interest coalition, this year we’ve defeated ag-gag in New Hampshire and Indiana. Last year we defeated ag-gag bills in all 11 states that proposed them.
Finally, all 50 states will have felony-level penalties for animal cruelty now that South Dakota has passed Senate Bill 46—a huge milestone. But this and many other state laws exclude farm animals from protection. We will continue to work to close loopholes: All animal abuse should be taken seriously and punished appropriately.
The Food and Drug Administration says drug companies have agreed to comply with the agency’s recommendation to phase out antibiotics used to accelerate farm-animal growth. Unfortunately, the same drugs can just be relabeled and used to “prevent” the illnesses caused by inhumane, unsanitary conditions on factory farms. This won’t help animals or the growing number of children getting sick from antibiotic-resistant infections.
A Dutch advertising standards commission decided that McDonald’s in the Netherlands was wrong to say on its website that it does not use cheap, fast-growing broiler chickens, and forced the company to take down the language. But these are the same types of chickens used for meat in the States, too. Learn more about fast-growing chickens at TruthAboutChicken.org