<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Our Babies - an Update 

**UPDATE: The pictures of the puppies, including one of the mother, Sophia, nursing them are posted at the photopage here:

(I wrote the first part of this about how my feelings have changed while bottle-feeding a puppy in the wee hours of 2/26/06, even though we are just now getting it posted, as we have been extremely busy people, as you will soon see. It has been updated since then, though, to reflect new information. We finally moved the puppies outside for the first time today, but the little one discussed in this post still was brought back in this evening to do this all over again. He is so special. So cute. It will be hard to let them go.

And, yes, I am continuing to recover from my injury, albeit very slowly. I have a feeling that this will be a much longer and more frustrating recovery time than I had first suspected, no matter what the doctor said. Guess I should have listened. better. Oh well, I never was a very good patient.)

Tonight I take my turn staying up with our nine baby puppies (yes, there are now just nine, as one of them died after the first night - we are pretty sure it was a congenital heart defect, as he was always so cold all of the time). It's a real chore to see to all of their needs now that their mother has suddenly started drying up and refusing to feed them. However, it is also good therapy for me.

You see, it wasn't that long ago that I had forgotten a very important part of life. That part was called feeling. I had completely shut it off because it made what I did for a living down at Tyson every night so much easier. By feeling, I mean love, empathy, and just a general sense of well-being. Oh, I said the words and, in some cases, even went through the motions (I was a very good actor back then), but I never really felt the true feelings.

Well, it's kind of hard not to feel the feelings when you hold that little life in your arms and feel his/her (in this case his) heart beating against your chest. I have learned it more every day, but especially since I have been taking my turn bottle-feeding our littlest one who just hasn't grasped the ability to lick from a dish yet.

And, to tell the truth, I hope it stays that way for a while. I really am enjoying caring for my little brood.

The sad thing is that we are going to have to give them up for adoption soon. Money is so very tight around here, and we are already going through about 350 lbs. of dog food a week (not counting the three 50 lb. bags of chicken food). The dog food costs $10.50/bag+tax, and the chicken food is $5.45 for the corn, 6.10 for the scratch, and $8.15 for the Allway, per bag. Luckily Laura's mother helps with that part of it sometimes. (She is our best donator. But then, she is like us and cannot stand for an animal to go hungry.) That part, all added up, is just over $200/month, but now that we are feeding these puppies that puppy formula, the price has gone up even higher, as that stuff is about $16/can for the powder, and we go through at least a can of that per week, and are now buying dry puppy food as well to mix in with it, so we are spending closer to $300/month just for food for the animals now! That's about 40% of what we draw in every month to live off of. We obviously can't keep this up. Just as obviously, we just can't afford to keep them all. The fosters have to have homes, and the puppies must be adopted out as soon as they are old enough. But, what's even worse, though, is that the breed and look of the puppies will attract the hunters. I used to be a hunter myself, so I know what they look for, and I see it in these puppies. That in itself is not a good thing, but what's even worse is that hunting dogs around here are about the worst-treated dogs of all.

I have, too often than I can count, seen them chained out in the open with only a 55-gallon barrel for shelter. Not even any old rags for bedding or anything. They are lucky to eat 3 or 4 times a week, many of them are dumped out without food or water to roam in the woods in the mistaken thinking that it will make them better hunters, and if they don't perform like the hunter wants them to, a bullet in the back of the head is the best they can hope for. I've seen others live their lives in wire cages up off the ground in all kinds of weather, never even being able to touch the ground unless they are hunting. I believe I showed you how Larry Harmon, the Grannis Chief of Police treats his dogs (and he breeds them as well), AND THE WAY THAT HE "RAISES THEM" IS COMPLETELY SHAMEFUL! On his bio page it shows a picture of how these poor dogs live, just as he proudly claims on there that his hobbies include "raising and training hunting beagles." Not much of a life for a hunting dog, huh? And this is how the Chief of Police believes dogs should be treated! Do you see what kind of mindset we are up against? Life is cheap here.

Well, that's the simple reality of it around here. Even some of the cops don't treat their animals well. And, if you have some time to kill, you can follow some of Harmon's links to see just what he thinks about animals, which isn't pretty. He absolutely HATES animal advocates or anyone that would threaten his so-called "traditional" way of life. Is it any wonder he has made me his #1 target? He never liked me anyway, but after all of this Tyson stuff and animal rights stuff, that just made that even worse. He seems to have no conscience or limit to what he will do to "get me." At least Polk County, where he lives, does have two shelters (one a no-kill that brought the foster dogs - For the Sake of Animals - and The Humane Society of the Ouachitas, where they did start to kill when they got too full. Then they also have an Animal Control office, which definitely kills and who I saved these foster dogs from killing. What's weird, though, is that this is what I was told back then, though now I am being told that these dogs actually belong to the Humane Society, and not For the Sake of Animals, who brought them to me. All of this I have discussed before. It is just a sad, sorry sate of affairs when it comes to overpopulation problems here simply because not enough people are responsible enough to spay and neuter their dogs. Many even believe that a female MUST have at least one litter before being spayed. And, now that the low-cost spay/neuter program is having a hard time staying funded, we really have a problem.

Montgomery County, where I live, doesn't even have a shelter or an Animal Control office (as I have mentioned before). Stray or dumped dogs without a collar are just shot. And sometimes even the presence of the collar and name tag are no deterrent. The only hope dogs have over here is that someone like us will find them and take them in. In fact, someone just dumped yet another dog the night before last, though we have yet to find and catch the poor baby. Someone did come down here yesterday, saying that they had seen a dog wandering up in the road and wondering if he/she belonged to us. We have looked and called more than once, but have seen and heard nothing. Laura went running out there the very night it happened, as she had figured out what was happening when a car stopped in front of our driveway, a door opened, then a lady yelled, and then the car took off at high speed. When they turned around just up the road, Laura ran as fast as she could up the driveway to try and get a license plate number, but to no avail - they were driving too fast. So, she just stood in the road, calling and calling, but again. to no avail. We just hoped that she was wrong, but apparently not. We won't quit looking for the dog, though. Surely the poor dog will show up once he/she gets hungry enough. One more mouth to feed, but what else can we do???

So, just because we are without the needed funds to take care of these puppies after everything we have been through, these little guys and girls I've come to love so much may very well suffer this similar fate of hunting dogs in this area. We don't even have the funds to properly take care of the other foster dogs, as the rescue groups have stopped all support a while back, with the For the Sake of Animals telling us that they would just go ahead and let the Humane Society pick them all up and allow them to be euthanized since they were considered "unadoptable" (I believe the exact expression was, "Well, I've just washed my whole hands of this. They are then officially "your dogs now."). I can't blame them, though, even as much as I want to - when the donations aren't coming in, they aren't coming in, and everyone seems donated out since Katrina. We aren't getting much, either. Certainly nowhere near enough to feed everyone. We likewise haven't heard from Warm Hearts, the other loose network of people working as a kind of semi-rescue group operating in our county, who brought us Bill and Spaz, so not only is no more food coming from them either, but they haven't even been fixed yet.

It's just so heartbreaking to know that these cute little puppies may be about to suffer one of the worst lives a dog could ever hope to face. We have grown so very attached to them, and at first, had decided we would keep the two that would be the most attractive to hunters, but then had to rethink our decision, especially with me hurt and unable to do any kind of work at all. (maybe never again, according to my doctor - at least not enough to make a living wage on, which is very frustrating and not making me feel very good about myself - more like a burden than anything), and now I am actually costing us more in medical charges than before (no, I still don't have any kind of health coverage - we have to pay for it all in cash) So, there is just no way we can afford the food bill to keep them and save them from the hunters and their horrible ways of treating their dogs. No way. Oh, I so wish we could. It breaks both of our hearts to even think about it. Laura starts crying whenever we think about what may happen to these babies. But then I wish, too, that I could have the name and address of every single person who adopts them so that I can go and check on them and retrieve them if they are being mistreated, too. Can't do that, either. So, here we are, I guess - just stuck with another bad situation that is, again, someone else's fault for being irresponsible and this time that could have been prevented in this case if they had not LIED!!!

On that note, apparently the rescue groups have been working for several years to get the veterinarians to put a small tattoo on spayed females, as it is hard to see the scar after a year or more. Even ours doesn't do this. We had never even heard of it, but it is a good idea. So, if you are a vet, please take this idea into consideration. And, activists, please pressure your vets to do this so that not as many unwanted puppies are born, Thanks.

Just so that you all know - I am not begging for money, but am just hacked off and venting my frustration a little bit into cyberspace. Well, so much for life in the Ouachitas. You all have a nice day. Anyone want to adopt a cute little puppy? Pictures will be forthcoming now that they are outside - it's too dim in this trailer to take one and hope to have to come out okay, especially since most of them are black - the other three are white with black spots. They are just adorable. And, it's those that I am most worried about and wanted to keep from harm by just keeping them ourselves. Anyway, that's why there are no pictures yet. But there will be...

Anyway, now you are up to date and can see why we haven't been doing much of anything online for a bit now. What, with me recovering, and all of these puppies to care for, Laura has just about worn herself completely out. I didn't get to start being much of a help with the puppies until this past week or so. So, she has taken care of all of us, getting up at all hours of the night and nodding off at all hours of the day, when trying to do her job and type in the groups or answer emails and such during the day. There is just only so far you can push yourself, though. So, I have been trying to do my best to help out lately now that I can. It still never stopped her from waking up when they cried in the wee hours of the night for food - that's just the eternal mother in her, but at least the past few days or so, she could turn back over and go back to sleep while I took my turn at it.

I believe I am starting to learn what it is that makes her be the way she is, though - just so very loving. Holding that one little baby puppy and feeding him a bottle, while he was up against my chest, gave me such a wonderful feeling. I guess that is what real love feels like. And it feels good. Man, I hope that at least some of these little puppies go to homes where they are loved like that. The hardest part is the not knowing. I went through this the last time we had to give away puppies, and I am going through it again, after swearing that I would never go through that agony again. (lesson - never swear NOT to do something EVER AGAIN - it's the surest sign that you WILL have to do it!) But, as good as it feels to hold this puppy and love him, I still surely hope I never have to do this again - not one more time. If only those people hadn't lied when they dropped the mother off, telling everyone that she was spayed, none of this would have happened.

Please, please get your dogs spayed/neutered! Don't be a part of this problem!!!!!!!

Again, anyone want a puppy to give a wonderful, loving home to, and to spoil absolutely rotten??? We have plenty to choose from, and you would be saving them from a very uncertain and most probably unpleasant fate.....
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