wwtips_a2Tell your family, friends and neighbors that keeping quiet when they know of an animal in distress is just plain wrong; it is completely unacceptable behavior. If anyone knows of an animal in distress, basic standards for human decency require communication with authorities or with rescuers. We animal lovers must change our culture one person at a time!


In memory of the starved puppy “Snoop” in Oshkosh, WI

A young couple in a small city purchased a pit bull puppy in January and named him Snoop. They kept him in a crate in their living room. They fed him well for several weeks and then they stopped feeding puppy chow regularly, later saying that “it was too expensive and too stressful.” For the next 8 weeks or so, they watched Snoop grow thin and weak from starvation inside his 2 x 3 foot crate from the comfort of their living room couch.  Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip: Keep Pocket Posters Handy

Posted on April 2nd, 2011 by Anna Nirva

wwtips_a2Do you know of a pet living nearby in neglectful conditions? Use pocket posters to send a strong message to the household in English and Spanish. There are 10 messages. Print them now and have them ready in your vehicle or bag. When you encounter a neglected animal, put the appropriate pocket poster in the entrance or on a fence. If the pet is too weak to move or is bleeding or is trapped inside an empty building, use your phone to call 9-1-1.

Sunbear Squad “Pocket Posters” speak for you
to point out a pet neglect problem

As you travel through your busy day, you can help protect a neglected animal by communicating with the owner with a pre-printed note. They are free; download the files today. Four pocket posters print on one letter-size sheet; cut them apart for use. Print one side in English and the reverse side in Spanish, if you are in a bilingual region.

Messages in English and Spanish include:

  • Give your dog more water.
  • Your pet needs more food.
  • Your dog needs a dog house.
  • Your pet needs medical attention.
  • Your dog needs attention from you.
  • Your dog needs shade.
  • Your dog needs water and shade.
  • Your dog needs a wind block.
  • Your dog needs straw insulation.
  • Evacuating? Take Pets Too!

Click to download the Pocket Posters (PDF)

April is “Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month” for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This month we’ll highlight ways you can help prevent cruelty. Sunbear Squad provides tools, knowledge and inspiration to help you help needy or neglected pets in your neighborhood and community. Be ready to prevent cruelty by keeping Pocket Posters handy. Be a voice for those who have none.


Watch Tip: Animals Abandoned Outdoors

Posted on March 19th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoWatch Tip for week of March 20:

Watch for animals abandoned outdoors. They might wander in your neighborhood, confused and shy. They might be tied to trees, parking meters, or dumpsters. They might be waiting for days beside the road where they last saw their people. They might even be seen chasing their owner’s vehicle, running desperately to catch up. Help them. (Remember, some actually could be lost, not abandoned.)

A rescuer in Texas followed the dog following the truck and saved him!

A long-time animal rescue volunteer was driving behind a truck in Texas not long ago when the truck slowed, swerved to the shoulder, the passenger-side door popped open, and a big shepherd-type dog was pushed out while the vehicle was still moving! The agile dog scrambled to his feet and immediately raced after the now-accelerating truck. The driver realized he was being followed by his dog, so he continued to increase his speed. The dog was left behind but he kept running in the same direction on the pavement, determined to find his people. The rescuer realized the desperate dog was in serious danger of being killed by a passing vehicle or of succumbing to heat exhaustion and followed him at a safe distance. After 2 miles, the now-exhausted dog collapsed in the grass of a small park, panting hard. The rescuer was able to approach him and he was saved. The savvy rescuer was also able to get the license number of the truck and pictures! Charges were filed.

Animal abandonment is a crime. We are not free to get rid of our pets by forcing someone else to assume their care. Yet many people are unaware of this! The truck driver’s companion pushed his dog out of the vehicle in broad daylight on a well-traveled road. He made no attempt to conceal his illegal behavior.

My neighbor attended another neighbor’s party and the adult daughter approached my neighbor and asked innocently, “Did you ever find that kitten I put down at your place? It was driving me nuts and I had to get rid of it.” Argh!!!

Well, yes, she had. Months earlier she and I had been walking our dogs together and we heard the tiniest “mew” coming from the woods across from their home. I held the dogs while she followed the tiny voice to find a very young tortoiseshell kitten, who ran right up to her. My friend adopted her on the spot, paying for her tests, shots, and later, her spay surgery. My friend and her husband have nearly a dozen cats and nearly all have been dumped at their place or nearby. I’ve got a cat on my lap right now that was dumped there a few years ago.

Three new cats have shown up at their place in the past few months. I think they need a big sign that reads “Animal Abandonment is a Crime! Surveillance Camera Posted!” But I wonder, would it actually stop them? Or would it just attract more irresponsible pet owners looking for a likely place to dump their pets?

If you witness the act of an animal being abandoned, be sure to snap a picture with your phone if you can, and write down the license number and the maker and model of the vehicle. Then call the police!

Watch Tip: Cold Snaps Down South

Posted on January 15th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoWeekly Watch Tip for week of Jan. 16:

Urgent: Extreme cold kills outside tethered dogs and cats, especially those animals without heavy coats, the malnourished, the very young and the elderly. Tethered animals in southern regions are at higher risk for hypothermia because they have not grown heavier coats over time like they would have in cooler climates. Watch for animals that don’t have adequate shelter; speak with owners or call the authorities immediately.

Short-hair pets in the south need hay or straw bedding during cold snaps. Fur is not enough!

While all dogs and cats have outer fur and inner fur, the quantity of outer hairs of the fur compared to the inner hairs of the fur (ratio) varies by breed and individual. The texture varies as well.  Age matters: it takes six months on average for puppies to grow a complete fur covering of inner and outer fur, if they are healthy. Some breeds can tolerate extreme cold if individuals are healthy and shelter from freezing winds is available.

In addition to breed and health, environment matters too. Individual dogs and cats living outdoors in cooler northern climates will grow longer, fluffier inner fur as daylight shortens that will help hold body heat. But pets in the mid- and far south have not experienced wide swings of seasonal cooling. Their sparse, short inner fur is completely inadequate for sudden winter cold snaps, freezing winds, and snow storms. Short-hair dogs are very vulnerable to hypothermia.

In other words, during a cold snap in Mississippi, that bouncy little Boxer puppy down the street that is tied to a tree 24/7 could be found dead in the morning. Those skinny hunting hounds kept in tiny outdoor pens could suffer from hypothermia and frostbite and the old ones might die. And those skeletal, near-feral pit bulls tied to stakes that sleep in hard hollows dug in the earth? They have never known a kindness. They may be released from their long suffering.

Do you have access to bales of hay or straw? Can you give hay beds to short-hair outside dogs in your neighborhood when a cold snap is on the way? A simple bale of hay can mean the difference between life and death to a dog or cat down south when the cold winds blow. Owners probably will not object. Please help those outside animals.

New Law: “Crush” Videos Now Illegal

Posted on December 26th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

What is a “crush” video? A particularly nasty type of sexual perversion is viewing small animals, such as mice, kittens, puppies, and rabbits, be violently killed by being stepped on by a stiletto high heel. It seems unimaginable that someone would be sexually aroused by the horrific sights and sounds of an innocent young animal being tortured to death, but it is true. These sick perverts created a nice little market for some x-rated publishers, and our famed free-speech laws have long protected them.

Stiletto heels are not the only instrument of death these sick perverts seem to relish. Similar crush videos feature small animals being electrocuted, burned, suffocated, or stabbed to death. These videos are now all illegal.

The new law, the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010, signed by President Obama on Dec. 9, 2010, makes it illegal to produce, sell or distribute any crush videos. Both houses of Congress overwhelmingly supported the newly rewritten law, an earlier version of which was overturned by the Supreme Court in April 2010 over concerns of ambiguous language that could be interpreted to prosecute hunting sports.

Watch Tip: Winterize the Doghouse

Posted on December 11th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

Tip for week of Dec. 12:

Watch for inadequate winter doghouses in your neighborhood—do the owners know of newer products for dog houses? Install a vinyl door flap. A raised floor helps as well. Purchase a doghouse heating pad or line the house with 6″ of loose hay bedding and replenish regularly. A heated water bucket is a must. Tuck the doghouse next to a building to block the wind and face the entrance away from prevailing winds.

Watch Tip: Free to a Good Home

Posted on November 27th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

If a friend or family member plans to give away a pet using “free to a good home” ads, you must warn of common “stranger dangers,” which include pets being used as dogfighter bait, puppy mill breeding dogs, research lab victims, or food for pet snakes. Or the pet might simply be neglected and starved by a hoarder.

Lucy, a Give-Away Pet Advertised on Craigslist, became Dogfighter Bait

Her family didn’t want her any more and the craigslist ad worked just fine to get rid of her. Three years later, Milwaukee Animal Control discovered a microchip in a drowned, bleeding, starving, dying dog and called that family. Her name had been Lucy once. The new and old wounds from head to foot revealed her long suffering in dogfighting pits. But the cold, suffering dog was shaking so hard, they could hardly examine them. Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip: Violence toward Pets

Posted on November 6th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

Watch for family members, friends, or neighbors who act violently out of frustration or anger toward their young untrained dogs and cats—small children and male youths are particularly likely to act out. Those pets are in danger of losing their lives one day because they learn to bite and scratch defensively. Biting pets may die violently by their abuser’s hands, or be abandoned, or be euthanized for their learned vicious behaviors. Try to help re-home the pet before it is too late.

It was too late for Moonshine; everybody failed him

Ten-month-old Moonshine was beaten to death a few weeks ago by a young man who had a history of abusing him out of frustration. Animal control had twice been called to the home, responding to calls from neighbors who heard the puppy yelping frantically. Friends reported witnessing violent behaviors toward Moonshine by one of his two owners. The co-owner even bit him twice and bragged about it later, calling it “discipline.” Despite these serious signs of impending disaster, no one helped him.

Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip: Help the Hungry

Posted on October 23rd, 2010 by Anna Nirva

Watch for hungry resident dogs and cats in your neighborhood. Look for protruding backbones, ribs, and hipbones before winter coats hide these signs of neglect. Look at every pet you pass. Can you afford to help with an anonymous gift of pet food to the household? Times are hard for so many.

Be an Organization of Just One Person and Change the Neighborhood.

Imagine if you were on a small fixed income and your rent just went up, or you just lost one of your three part time jobs. Your little family includes a dog or a cat or a few of them. How do you cope? Where can you cut expenses? Plus you are pretty sure that nobody really cares about your struggles. Then one day a big new fresh bag of pet food shows up on your porch. Now you know that someone cares! Someone has helped you this month, someone with a heart for animals! What a wonderful feeling. Maybe you can keep your cherished pets after all.

Do you know of a neighbor with pets who is struggling financially? Please think about an anonymous gift of pet food, a gift that may help keep the pets from making a tragic one-way trip to the pound. Remember that in many regressive municipalities, pets who are surrendered by their owners are not required to be kept alive for a mandatory period like stray animals, so they may die shortly after entering. That bag of pet food just might be the gift of life.

Click here to download for free an anonymous greeting card that reads “From my cat to your cat” or “From my dog to your dog.”

Not only can you possibly prevent a needless death, you can help your neighborhood be more neighborly. Your compassionate actions may contribute to a stronger sense of connection to the community for you and your neighbor both. Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” Live it.

Mary and George, the neglected breeder Boxers from KY, are adopted!

Posted on October 16th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

Mary with her two-legged sister

Readers might recall the long post about the rescue of Mary and her companion George a few months ago. Mary was a neglected, sick, skinny, breeding Boxer kept in an old abandoned building in east Kentucky. She and George were rescued and transported to the Minneapolis/St. Paul region by Minnesota Boxer Rescue and I was one of the relay drivers who brought her to the north. Many people were involved in her rescue and rehabilitation. I was very moved by her sweet, loving nature and her terrible early life. Mary was treated for heartworm and other ailments and her loving foster mom and dad taught her how to be a house dog. They made her adoptable and deserve much of the credit. Read the original post about Mary here.

Mary grew up in a horrible environment but today she is a princess. She is greatly loved by her new family. Her mom writes: “She is really a sweet, sweet dog, and her foster worked very hard with her to train her to sit, stay, come, etc. Mary always waits for me to go up or down the stairs and through doorways. She weighs about 40 pounds now, and has no trouble eating! She’s so fun when she gets excited – she jumps! All four paws off the ground a good foot, while at the same time, managing a Boxer wiggle in the air. She loves to chase a ball around the back yard, which is fenced in and big enough for her to get a good run in. She usually runs 4 – 5 times around the yard. Then she’s done and has to take a break in the sun. She also likes to play ‘keep away’ with one of my daughter’s dolls. It’s great to see Mary running around the backyard (slowly, for her) and my daughter chasing after her, laughing.”

George with his 4 Boxer siblings at homeGeorge was adopted by the knowledgeable, loving foster family who cared for them both. They wrote that they just couldn’t part with him. See George and his four-legged family at right. George is top row, right; look at this excellent group sit! Since Mary and George’s families are only about 45 minutes apart, they have had a few play dates.

To everyone who had a role in Mary’s and George’s rescue and recovery: BLESS YOU, it was worth it. Big time! Bless your kind heart. Bless every one of you. Every minute, every dollar, every mile. Mary and George no longer eat old kibble off the icky floor of an old empty building. They don’t suffer from parasites any more. Mary’s eyes and nose are healthy and clear. She has a big soft bed and watches TV with Dad at night. George is adored by his new family and he plays with four Boxer siblings every day. They both bring joy to their new families and bask in their love every day. THANK YOU everyone!