Watch Tip: Christmas Pets

Posted on December 26th, 2009 by Anna Nirva


Watch and listen for Christmas kittens and puppies that are kept outdoors in bad weather, under porches or tied to trees. Take action to save them. You may be the only one who sees or hears.

They watch through the windows, cold or wet or both, and no one cares

You can tell if families want their new Christmas puppies or kittens. They get to stay in houses. But sometimes a gift is unwanted—especially an energetic, wiggly, clumsy gift that may not be perfectly housetrained. They won’t get house privileges. If they are lucky, they may get to sleep in a weather-tight garage or outbuilding. The unlucky ones may get tied to porches or trees. Or they may just get put out the door to wander and watch through windows.

A few days ago, they played with their littermates and were loved by mother cat or dog. But now they could be at risk for death from exposure, especially with winter storms roaring. Don’t let that happen. If you see or hear these tiny victims of Christmas, you must take action. Call the authorities, or go directly to the home and offer to help with shelter and food. You can offer to re-home the unwanted pet. Yes, you might step out of your comfort zone. But if you woke up tomorrow to find a tragedy, how would you feel about doing nothing?

Whole foods for dogs and cats

Posted on December 19th, 2009 by Anna Nirva

Do you include some whole foods in your companion animals’ diets? I hope so. This isn’t a new idea. Until kibble was invented in the 1940s, all pets ate whole foods. They ate what we ate: beans, potatoes, pancakes, bacon. That’s all their families had and they shared it. Their dogs might have even licked the plates clean, because dirty dishwasher wasn’t so easy to replace before indoor plumbing came along. This was BGD, Before Garbage Disposals, too.

When dry kibble was invented, I imagine many families were suspicious of it and didn’t like the additional expense either. But over the decades, dry kibble became the western world standard and today many families are suspicious of feeding whole foods to animals and may be concerned about the expense. Funny how the benefit of convenience can influence our thinking. Clearly the idea of feeding people enriched dry cereal for their entire lives would be considered unhealthy, yet many promote that same diet for pets.

Think about enriching your pet’s diets in the year ahead by adding whole foods. To get a good grounding in feeding whole foods to your dogs, read the renowned “Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats”. Check these lists for foods to avoid for dogs and cats.

To get really inspired, put this cookbook for dogs by Minnesota authors Katie K9 and
Renee Sherrill, Simple Cooking for Dogs 101 on your shelf. Send a check to “Katie K9”
for $13.95 each plus $3.00 for shipping to Katie’s Book, P.O. Box 71, Hugo, MN 55038.
How about “Have ’em Dancing Tuna” in the Quick Meals section for a start?

To get really inspired, put this cookbook for dogs by Minnesota authors Katie K9 and Renee Sherrill, “Simple Cooking for Dogs 101” on your shelf. Send a check to “Katie K9” for $13.95 each plus $3.00 for shipping to Katie’s Book, P.O. Box 71, Hugo, MN 55038. How about “Have ’em Dancing Tuna” in the Quick Meals section for a start?

Watch Tip: Watch for Strays

Posted on December 19th, 2009 by Anna Nirva

Tip for week of Dec. 20:

Watch and listen for stray dogs and cats that could go missing while traveling with their families, or be frightened by holiday fireworks. Take action to save them.

Be especially watchful now. You might save someone’s beloved pet.

You know the pets in your immediate neighborhood, so you can recognize the strays. They not only look unfamiliar, they may act insecure or unsure of their direction. Please be especially watchful during the next two weeks. You may save a life.

Holidays are very risky times for companion animals. When pets are left in the care of a kind friend or neighbor, lack of detailed knowledge of the pet’s behavior can easily result in strayed animals and accidents. Or when a family travels with their pet, unfamiliar surroundings and disrupted routines can cause pets to become confused, run away and get lost.

Finally, some irresponsible families make decisions to dump their pets in a new neighborhood before their holiday visitors arrive. If you see this happen, take a photo with your cell phone or write down the license plate number and call the authorities. These people are breaking the law.

If you know of someone who doesn’t put collars or tags on their dogs or cats, suggest to the owner that without tags or microchips, recovery of a lost pet becomes much more difficult. I remember being scolded by a young man who picked up his stray yellow lab at our county shelter where I volunteer several days after the dog arrived. He said angrily, “Why didn’t you call me right away? You’re supposed to call.” I replied, “He is not wearing a collar and tags, so we did not have a phone number to call.” His jaw dropped and his eyes got big and round. It was an “aha” moment. He just had never thought about it before.

Watch Tip: Chained Dogs

Posted on December 12th, 2009 by Anna Nirva

weekly-watch-tips-whiteTip for Week of Dec. 13:

Watch for tracks in the snow or mud leading to occupied dog houses-if you don’t see footprints, the dog is not being fed or watered. Take action to save them.

It’s a long, cold winter ahead, especially if you live on a chain

Imagine living in a circle, as far as your chain will stretch. You have a drafty igloo doghouse, or the back seat of an old car, or a hole under a porch, but when the cold winds blow you still shiver hard. Your water bowl is empty sometimes and frozen other times. You wait for feeding time. It’s the only time you have something to look forward to. And you hope they don’t forget again.


Have you found where the chained dogs live in your neighborhood yet? Please put that on your to-do list for this week. Then plan to drive by and observe them as often as you can. If you see a problem, please contact the owner immediately and offer neighborly help for the dog’s sake. Be friendly and non-judgmental to get approval to visit the dog and give treats, or offer to rehome the dog. If you can’t reach or work with the owner, call the authorities if your county has humane animal welfare practices in place. Local animal rescues might be helpful as well. Photo courtesy Dogs Deserve Better.

Fight the continuous chaining of outside dogs, which is inhumane and dangerous. Read more here:

Hello, I’m Anna Nirva

Posted on December 9th, 2009 by Anna Nirva

Anna Nirva and BaileyI’d like to introduce myself to you as a writer on the Blog Squad as well as the founder of Sunbear Squad and the writer of the web site. I’m Anna Nirva, and my husband and I parent a fur family of rescues including Austin, a Walker coonhound, Duffer, a pit bull type mix, Lucinda, a Himilayan type cat, Lucky, a Percheron-Morgan cross horse, and Matilda, whom we call our “joy cat” because of her enthusiastic and affectionate ways. Finally, the queen of our fur family is Greta, a senior Great Dane whom we purchased as a puppy from an established breeder.

My passion is animal welfare as yours may be. In addition to my Sunbear Squad work, I am a long-time volunteer at our county no-kill humane society. My favorite activities are writing Petfinder bios for our shelter residents and walking the dogs on Saturdays. In the photo above, I am in the shelter with one of our dogs, Bailey (adopted now). Also I’ve been active in the statewide effort to pass puppy mill legislation which was signed into law last week. Finally, I work full-time, and my elderly parents live nearby. It gets crazy some days.

My approach to blogging will be contemplative. I will ask questions of you to find out what makes you tick—and I hope you comment often and help me build thoughtful conversation threads that get richer over time.

Major Rescue In Rural Oregon

Posted on December 9th, 2009 by admin

The Oregon Humane Society is working to save as many as 100 dogs who have been living with barely any food and left outside in freezing conditions.

Here are the details from the OHS website.

HarneyCo_2Most of the dogs are living without shelter on a rural property in Princeton, Oregon, about 20 miles outside of Burns. Some of the dogs are living underground in holes covered with planks, others are chained to farm equipment and have little or no shelter from the snow, wind and sub-freezing temperatures common in the high-desert country.

The rescue team is expected to return to the OHS shelter in Portland on Wednesday, Dec. 9 at approximately 4 pm. A three-person OHS team traveled to the property Monday and returned with 14 dogs, including four puppies who are one-week old and six puppies who are three- to four-months old.

The dogs being rescued were subsisting on cattle carcasses obtained from a local meat processing plant. The property was littered with piles of bones and cattle skeletons. Also visible were the unburied remains of at least one deceased dog.

OHS is perhaps the only animal shelter in the region with the resources to care and find homes for so many dogs at one time. “Most of these dogs, despite their living conditions, are friendly to people and want to be around us. I hope we can get them into loving homes in time for the holidays,” said OHS Executive Director Sharon Harmon.

OHS was called on by Harney Country Sheriff David Glerup, who arrested three individuals and charged them with five counts of animal neglect.

The case was brought to Sheriff Glerup’s attention by county social workers who were investigating an unrelated complaint against the owners of the dogs brought by an 11-year-old child living on the property. Officials have since removed all children from the property.

The individuals charged have surrendered the dogs allowing the OHS to be able to put them up for adoption.  A few of the dogs will go to past owners who will keep them in their home as as part of the agreement to surrender the remaining animals.  I don’t really get the last part because if the dogs had been surrendered by the owners at an earlier date they obviously weren’t wanted, I can’t see why they would be given back.

This is a horrible situation, thank goodness the OHS has stepped in to give these dogs a chance at life.  If you would like to donate to help these dogs get the medical care they deserve and eventually into  loving forever homes go to the OHS website where you can make an online donation.

Settling In: Site Design

Posted on December 8th, 2009 by admin

In the coming days, don’t be surprised if things start to look a little different at Sunbear Blog Squad. Now that the site is up and running, we are finding out what works and what does not in regards to site layout. As such, things may move around a little. Certain elements may change in color, size, or appearance. So, don’t be concerned if things are not exactly as you have become accustomed in this past week. We are still settling in and appreciate your continued visits to Sunbear Blog Squad.

Can You Help Mojo?

Posted on December 8th, 2009 by admin


Here at Sunbear Squad we’re all about being good Samaritans to animals and helping out rescues in need.  Today we have a very special boy, Mojo,  who needs our help.

He’s a rescued Bernese Mountain Dog. As some of you may know I have a soft spot for Berners after having adopted our rescue,  Logan,  from the Bernese Auction Rescue Coalition. Unfortunately after a mere 14 months we lost our beautiful boy to cancer.  Recently we adopted another BARC baby, Patience. She’s a great addition to the Hoefinger household.

Mojo is being fostered but he needs to find a permanent home. However, most imperative is being able to get some tests done on him because he has a neurological issue that needs to be looked into.  The rescue is not able to pay for the very costly test and they’re trying to raise some money so they can get him diagnosed and then find him a forever family.

Mojo was seen by the vet and is appears that he does have some sort of neurological issue with his spine/rear end. We are working on trying to raise funds to have some proper test done, most likely an MRI.  This is very expensive at about $3000. Sadly the rescue can not afford to spend that much on just 1 dog.  If someone is willing to help by donating something towards the tests, would be very helpful. If someone is willing to adopt with these unknown diagnosis, please feel free to call us or click on the link above for a PayPal donation site for Mojo.

Read more about this adorable boy on the Heart Of  Michigan Bernese Mountain Dog Rescue site.  If anyone is looking for some good Mojo this may be the boy for you.  Please post and crosspost this message.

Humane Society Launches National ‘Puppy Mill’ Tip Line

Posted on December 7th, 2009 by admin


Great news from the Humane Society Of The United States, they have started a tipline to help dogs being abused at puppy mills. While there have been tiplines for dog fighting for a while there was not one specifically dedicated to report puppy mill abuse.

Dogs Don’t Deserve Lifetime Confinement for the Sake of Profit

(Dec. 3, 2009) – To help end the misery associated with large-scale dog breeding operations known as “puppy mills,” The Humane Society of the United States has launched a national telephone tip line and encourages callers to report suspected cruelty or unlawful activities involving such breeding facilities.

The hotline, 1-877-MILL-TIP, is available to anyone with information of a possible crime involving puppy mills – but particularly welcomes information from those with “insider” knowledge, or from law enforcement officials who might be aware of such operations.

“Puppy mills are a national scourge,” said Justin Scally, manager of The HSUS’ Wilde Puppy Mill Task Force. “Hundreds of thousands of dogs across the country are trapped in constant confinement their entire lives, producing puppies to profit the puppy mill owner. This tip line will be a vital tool to help free these dogs from a life of abuse.”

The Wilde Puppy Mill Task Force investigates puppy mills and works with law enforcement, animal shelters and other agencies to stop abuse and to ensure enforcement of existing laws. The task force also provides expert guidance to local, state and federal agencies in the prosecution of animal abusers as it relates to the operation of puppy mills. Since its launch in June, the Task Force has assisted in the rescue of more than 1,200 dogs and puppies from abusive situations at puppy mills.

The announcement of the new national tip line comes during The HSUS’ 3rd annual Puppy Mill Action Week, which is dedicated to educating the public about how to find a new best friend without supporting the abusive puppy mill industry. Puppy Mill Action Week runs Nov. 30 through Dec. 6, at the start of the peak holiday puppy buying season.

The Wilde Puppy Mill Task Force is named in honor of Kenneth and Lillian Wilde, who donated a portion of their estate to The HSUS to help dogs. Thanks to the Wildes, The HSUS was able to expand the organization’s capacity to rescue more animals from the inhumane puppy mill industry and to raise national awareness of the pain and tragedy that can lurk behind the inviting visage of a young puppy for unwary buyers.

Puppy Mill Facts

· Dogs at puppy mills typically receive little to no medical care, live in squalid conditions with no exercise, socialization or human interaction, and are confined inside cramped wire cages for life. Breeding dogs at puppy mills must endure constant breeding cycles.

· Dogs from puppy mills are sold in pet stores, online and directly to consumers with little to no regard for the dog’s health, genetic history or future welfare. Consumers should never buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site; instead visit an animal shelter, breed rescue group, or visit a breeder’s home and meet the puppy’s parents.
· The HSUS supports compassionate breeders who provide for their dog’s physical and mental well-being. Quality breeders don’t sell puppies through pet stores or over the Internet.

Oprah’s show on puppy mills aired back in April 2008 making the public, most for the first time, aware of what a puppy mill is.  Although I knew you shouldn’t buy pets from a pet store I really had no idea the reason behind it, I didn’t know what a puppy mill was.   I could never have imagined the horrific conditions and horrible abuse these dogs suffer without seeing it with my own eyes.

As hard as the Oprah show was for people to watch once the puppy mills ‘dirty little secret’ was out there was no going back. Thankfully since the show there have been raids of abusive puppy mills, changes in legislation, and new laws.  While we still have a long way to go, each step like the new tipline,  gets us a little closer to hopefully one day ending puppy mills altogether.


Watch Tip: Freezing Weather

Posted on December 5th, 2009 by Anna Nirva

weekly-watch-tips-whiteTip for Week of Dec. 6:

Watch and listen for chained or kenneled dogs and “outside” cats during subzero weather—without adequate shelter, fresh water, and extra food, they can get frostbitten or freeze to death. Please take action.

Did you know subzero weather anywhere causes suffering for outside dogs and cats?

Frostbite scar on Duffer's legOur rescue pit bull mix dog, a short-hair dog, Duffer, has hairless spots on his legs; see the picture. Our rescue cat Tillie has slightly rounded ear tips. Their skin was permanently damaged from frostbite.

Imagine what that must have felt like in the bitter cold. Of course they would have both somewhat accustomed to cold weather living in Wisconsin. Of course each one would have sought out the most sheltered spot available. The shivering would start and pause at times, as the wind would rise and fall. Then the shivering would increase. The chill would seep deeply into their bones. They would carefully round themselves into new positions fighting to protect one body area and then the next. And they would cry out in pain. Eventually hypothermia would set in and they would feel as if burning up and they would try to cool off. Then the cold would kill them.

Have you ever heard a dog barking nonstop on a cold night? One neighbor in Minnesota talked about her neighbor’s dog to reporters.  The dog had barked nonstop until past midnight. The next morning she saw the poor dog laying flat outside next to his plastic igloo dog house laying very still. He had frozen to death while in the throes of hypothermia. He suffered terribly. She felt very sorry for not calling the police, but her neighbor who owned the dog was the mayor of her small town, and she didn’t want to challenge authority. What would you have done?

One bitterly cold and windy winter morning at the shelter where I volunteer a cardboard box was found on concrete next to the north-facing front door. Two hypothermic kittens, possibly 12 weeks old, were huddled together inside with not even an old scrap of fabric to help them hold a little bit of their heat. They were near death. Shelter workers were able to revive them in warm water. Remember all cats are at risk of freezing to death if they are not free to seek shelter.

All short-hair dogs without an inner layer of fur that are chained or kenneled are at risk of frostbite and death. And plastic igloo dog houses do not provide any insulation. Zero. They must be fully packed with hay or straw in the winter no matter where you live. Old rugs are not enough insulation when winter’s cold storms roar.

How about giving a bale of hay or straw to a needy dog or cat this holiday?