Archive for October, 2012

A Pig’s Tail form Aardman Animations

“Aardman Animations, creators of “Chicken Run,” “Wallace and Gromit” and other beloved animated feature films, produced the short film under a grant from the Steven C. Leuthold Family Foundation”

A Pig’s Tail

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It finally happend in LA: Dog, cat and rabbit sales banned at pet stores

Great! Fantastic! That’s amazing! Imagine all the animals saved! Those were the responses I’ve heard as I spread the word that LA  banned the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in retail outlets today (ref: Los Angeles Times).

And, naturally, I agree.

You don’t have to wait for election day to make progress, and that’s what they did in LA.  Now, only animals for adoption can be provided through retail outlets.  This is a move to start solving the pet homelessness problem at the source!

Overflow of kittens at a Pacific NW shelterLA is a huge market for pets stores who frequently sell dogs that are trending as popular, such as Chihuahuas after the release of Legally Blonde.   There are so many animals homeless in LA that rescue groups all over the country actually export dogs out of LA to find them homes elsewhere.

And the relief that shelter workers will get is just one more reason that banning the retail sale of animals is so important.  Imagine each day you are faced with hundreds and even thousands of homeless animals, many who will be euthanized. This is a quote from one LA newspaper article earlier this month:

“In the 2011-12 fiscal year, city animal shelters took in more than 57,000 animals — 35,405 dogs and 21,883 cats — and euthanized 25 percent of the dogs and 57 percent of cats.” — ref: Daily News LA

Congratulations to Councilman Paul Koretz, Los Angeles Department of Animal Services and all the animal advocates and organizations who pressed for this ban.


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Message from the League of Humane Voters

Got this in my inbox this week for the League of Humane Voters,  and it’s a good reminder that a) not everyone is running for POTUS, and b) the voting makes a difference for animals.  

Dear League of Humane Voters Membership;

We have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of animals in this election.  The people we put into office determine whether Washington State has laws that support and protect animals or laws that are harmful to animals.  The mission of the League of Humane Voters is to support those candidates who have strong animal welfare positions.  To that end, we provide information for LOHV members and the general public by publishing current voting records of incumbent legislators, a candidate questionnaire on humane legislation and our endorsement list.  I urge you to check out all of these sources of information on our website, before voting.


There are three incumbent candidates, who have very strong records in support of animal welfare that need our support in this election.  They are all running tight races and their loss would be a huge loss to the animals of Washington State.  These candidates really need your support and you can help them in several ways:

Make a donation to their campaign.   A donation does not have to be large to help and you do not have to live in the district of the candidate to support their campaign.

Volunteer for their campaign.  Candidates need help with their campaigns in many ways, such as doorbelling, calling voters or helping with other tasks such as mailings.  A small amount of your time can be really helpful.

Spread the word.  Let people know about these candidates. Pass this e-mail on to all that you know.   The League of Humane Voters is new and many animal advocates in the state do not know about the information we offer.

Roger Goodman — District 45 (Woodinville, Duvall, Carnation, and parts of Kirkland, Redmond, and Sammamish)

Representative Goodman has a stellar record on animal welfare legislation. He served as the prime sponsor for the Limit Tethering Bill in the last legislative term.  Under his sponsorship, the Limit Tethering Bill went farther than it ever has before.  He is a major champion for this bill.  WE NEED HIM BACK to continue our fight to stop continuous chaining of dogs.

Please donate to his campaign—by supporting Representative Goodman you are directly supporting the effort to get dogs off chains!! For more information on Representative Goodman and to make a contribution to his campaign, please see his website

Hans Dunshee — District 44 (parts of southwest Snohomish County)

Representative Dunshee has also had a superb voting record on animal welfare bills. He served as prime sponsor to the Spay/Neuter Assistance Bill in the 2011/2012 legislative session.  His campaign needs help with doorbelling, but campaign contributions would help as well. There are doorbelling opportunities on the following dates: Oct. 13th; Oct. 14th; Oct. 21st; Oct. 27th; Oct. 28th.  To help out Representative Dunshee’s campaign, you can call his campaign manager, Lacey Harper at 206-306-6451 or go to his campaign website at

Mary Margaret Haugen — District 10 (Island County and parts of Snohomish and Skagit counties, including La Conner, Oak Harbor, and Stanwood)

Senator Haugen is being challenged by Barbara Bailey. Barbara Bailey is currently a Representative in District 10, but is now running for the senate seat that Senator Haugen presently occupies.  In a comparison of their voting records on animal welfare legislation, hands down, Senator Haugen wins. She is truly an advocate for animals.  Please support her campaign!!

If we pull together as a political community, we can change laws and help thousands of animals who are hurting now and protect all those that come after.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS | Waste in Seattle

Nicki and Bill Walters from The Pooper Troopers

By Christie Lagally

Oct. 9, 2012

Originally published in City Living Seattle

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

People, pavement and streams. This is a toxic combination, according to Dave Ward, regional stewardship program manager for the Puget Sound Partnership.

“We work on programs that address the impact of our day-to-day actions on the environment,” Ward said. And one action that benefits the environment is picking up your dog’s waste.

Most cities require you to “stoop and scoop,” but many cities do not tell you what to do with it. Does it go in the trash, the toilet, a composter?

In Seattle, the directions are clear: Pick it up, bag it, tie it off and throw it in the trash. Any questions? Ask Ward.

How to get rid of it?

“The volume of dog waste in Puget Sound is roughly equivalent to 300,000 people using outhouses,” Ward said.

Ward explained that pet waste left on the ground contaminates rainwater with bacteria. The bacteria is concentrated as rainwater runs off onto pavement and finally into Puget Sound, where it can harm orcas, salmon and even children and pets.

Unlike animal waste deposited by a bear or a deer in the forest, where the bacteria in rainwater is filtered by soil in an undisturbed ecosystem, most of Seattle’s pet waste occurs in neighborhoods where pavement prevents rainwater from being filtered.

What about flushing the waste? This is a question Ward has heard before, and Puget Sound Partnership looked into all the waste-disposal options.

“Dog waste is basically no different than human waste,” Ward said.

As long as you live in areas where you are connected to a waste-treatment plant, you can flush dog waste. But Ward found that septic systems, such as those found in rural areas, did not have the capacity to handle both human and dog wastes.

What about composting? Ward’s team looked at this issue, as well. Some folks they interviewed maintained composting units that were either commercially sold or built in their yards. A small number of citizens used a commercial enzyme to break down the bacteria at a cost of $7 per month.

But the risks are high for a compost system like this, and especially for a municipal agency to recommend such a system. Failure by residents to maintain the composter or, worse, if residents simply bury the waste, would be the equivalent of thousands of broken septic systems, according to Ward.

Haven’t I been taught to avoid adding to the landfill? In Ward’s search for the right way to deal with dog waste, his team contacted landfill operators and waste haulers to get their reaction to taking approximately 20 tons of dog waste per day per city.

Ward reported that both the operators and the haulers said, “We won’t even notice.” It turns out that the major source of volume in landfills is actually paper and construction waste; pet waste plays a minor role at most. Furthermore, landfills manage their liquid runoff, thereby, containing the bacteria.

A little extra help

So now I’m convinced that we must bag it and trash it, but what if you don’t have time or can’t do it yourself? In Seattle, you can get help.

Nicki and Bill Walters own The Pooper Trooper, a company that offers waste removal for dog owners, as well as commercial pet-waste services. Their staff visits your home regularly, pick up the waste in your yard and dispose of it properly. The company also installs and maintains dog-waste stations for public areas and special events, such as hotels hosting a dog show.

Being where the dog poo is also gives the Pooper Troopers a chance to keep an eye out for dogs in need. According to Walters, while their clients are responsible dog owners, her staff may see lost dogs in the neighborhood or neglected dogs in adjacent yards. Troopers work in conjunction with several local animal groups to help animals in tough situations and also donate their time and funds to help dogs in need.

Alongside Pooper Trooper, there are several other such businesses in our region. The Happy Pooper Scooper, run by Tom Arena in Seattle, provides both cat litter-box cleaning and dog-waste collection. Arena, a former truck driver-turned-entrepreneur, donates 10 percent of his profits to King County Animal Care and Control to help care for animals in our regional animal shelter.

So what’s the lesson to learn for today about animal waste? Bag it, trash it and do it right away, before it rains. If you can’t do it yourself, find someone who can.

According to Ward, with 40 percent of the nearly 4.5 million people in the Puget Sound region owning dogs, disposing of your dog’s waste properly is an easy, day-to-day action that benefits everyone in and out of Puget Sound.

For more information about the Puget Sound Partnership, visit

The Pooper Trooper and The Happy Pooper Scooper websites are at and, respectively.

To learn about King County Animal Care and Control, visit

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My debate with the candidates

As the presidential, gubernatorial and legislative races scurry towards November, candidates and parties are attempting to address my concerns — assuming my concerns are already on their agenda.  As a woman, an aerospace worker and a member of the middle class, my vote is clearly valuable if you judge the campaign by the content of 30-second commercial debates.

But what if my actual concerns for the problems in our community are not on the political agenda of the candidates at all?   Do they ever get addressed or even heard?  Is my vote ever wooed in the direction of a candidate that I actually want in office?

I’ve always felt that rather than debate an opponent, candidates should debate a voter instead.   And with that format, the field is wide open on topics for discussion.

So my debate with the candidates would include issues of the Washington economy and access to affordable health care, but it would also include my long-term concern for the welfare of animals and support for the un-glorified government agencies and organizations that try to address these issues.

And I’m not alone.  Not only is Seattle an intensely dog-centric city, it is home to roughly 50 animal rescue, welfare and advocacy groups.  Additionally, these groups don’t even reflect a true estimate of the number of individuals who live without harming animals at all.  For example, if we use the density of vegan restaurants (around 20 or so thriving businesses in the City of Seattle) as a yardstick of the number of people interested in the welfare of animals, this unit of measure indicates that Seattleites not only care about animals and what happens to them, but they have created a community that reflects that ethos.

Furthermore, our population of vegetarians, feral cat rescuers, pet adopters, shelter volunteers, foster families, and conscientious people who are willing to take that extra step to house back-yard chickens and goats, buy free-range eggs and support humanely raised local meats should indicate to candidates that animals matter in our community.

So in my hypothetical debate with the candidates, here are a few issues I would like to discuss.

For the past few years, legislators in Olympia have passed over future consideration of the so-called spay/neuter bills.  HB 1226 and SB 5151 would essentially create a state-wide program to provide low-cost, accessible spay/neuter services to all areas of Washington State.   The goal is to help reduce the number of homeless animals that are euthanized in our shelters and to relieve local governments of the financial pressure of dealing with so many homeless pets.  The problem is that it costs money.  Not much money, and the proposal for the program includes a fee on pet food to avoid using general funds.  The opposition is simply from people who are tax-phobic – even when cities and counties in Washington have to pay many times the cost of the spay/neuter program to euthanize animals rather than fix them.

Second, I want to know that progress will be made to help end long-term chaining or tethering of dogs in Washington State. This is an issue that was considered in previous legislative sessions as HB1755 and SB5649. Advocates hope to reintroduce the bills in the 2013 legislative session. From my discussions with a handful of Washington candidates, opposition to this bill comes from legislators who don’t think you can tell people how to treat your dog.  So who will fight the good fight in Olympia?

I recently learned that the Washington Alliance for Humane Legislation (an advocacy group in Olympia) hopes to find sponsorship in the 2013 legislative session for a bill that would give animal control officers (ACO) in Washington the authority to enforce anti-cruelty and neglect laws (read more here).  I don’t need to see another news story about neglected, starving horses or a raided puppy mills to know this is a good idea, but I do need to know my representatives will support such a bill.

Finally, while I’m a fan of small businesses, I don’t feel that businesses that cost our government money, instead of adding to the economy, are appropriate.  This is the problem with retail pet stores found scattered across Washington State.  In the past few years, many city governments in Canada and the US have banned the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits to stop the flow of impulse-purchased pets into shelters and end support of puppy mills.  Austin, TX made an early move to ban the sale of dogs and cats and found an almost immediate reduction in the number of animal intakes at their local shelter.  The Los Angeles city council is poised to do the same this fall (ref: Spot).  LA council members in favor of the ban report that it will help reduce the nearly 20,000 animals euthanized in LA each year.

So why not in Washington State?  Why not in Seattle?  We have a lot of homeless pets in our city and our state, coupled with a network of private breeders who can provide purebred dogs to appropriate homes with the proper oversight.  We don’t need animals shipped from puppy and kitten mills in the Midwest and sold to any passers-by.  Furthermore, I’m tired of paying for the consequences of massive numbers of homeless pets shuffled through our animal control agencies statewide.  I want this to be an election issue, and I want to know where the candidates stand.

The propensity for candidates to stick to their issues has never been so well explained than by Anne Romney during her recent Iowa network interview.  When she was pressed to answer questions on birth control, she responded, “Again, you’re asking me questions that are not about what this election is going to be about.”

I’m fairly certain that an election is about what voters decide to speak up about.  And for me, this election agenda includes animal welfare and the financial pressures that failures to address these issues puts on our local and state governments.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a freelance columnist who writes for City Living Seattle newspaper and the blog “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at

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