Who’s the boss?

We adopted a tiny little vicious  Russian Blue  mix kitten, who had been rescued from a dog with ill intentions. She had been traumatized. It took over an hour before we could tell if her back was broken because she wouldn’t move — only her eyes would follow us.

4 months old Russian Blue male

4 month old Russian Blue

 

Lily Mae (aka Lily Mae Belle as I’m fond of calling her or invisi-kitty as my son calls her – because she can hide anywhere)  has become an integral part of our family. I’ve declared that her name means, “Crazy Flower.” (Yes, we love Bambi and Thumper.) She even has her own seat at the table and eats most meals with us — we don’t allow paws on the table, though.

It has been a constant struggle keeping her in the house recently. She will take any and every opportunity to race outside. We are terrified to allow her to go out because she’s so tiny and our beloved Sandy disappeared one morning  without warning.

She was a free spirit, though. Sandy was a neighborhood cat, one of about 8 feral cats I used to feed, most of the cats wouldn’t come near me, but they never missed a meal. I watched them from inside.  Sandy was different, she  just decided to move in one day. She always came and went as she pleased. In fact, we had her for 6-months before we ever considered purchasing a litter box. She always did her business outside.

Panther, a cat using toilet, photographed in S...

Image via Wikipedia

We don’t want to lose Lily but we don’t want her to be unhappy either. However, every time Lily gets out, she acts like a wild animal. She zips back and forth, runs full speed up and down the hills surrounding our home. It takes my son and I working together to tease her back home — sometimes taking several hours. She never wants to come back home.

One afternoon she actually got outside. We tried for hours to get her to come back inside. Trying to get away from us, she bolted up a pine tree near our house and, unable to figure out how to climb down, she kept climbing higher and higher. She was only  3 months old. We ended up having to shake her out of the tree. We were sure she was injured — since she landed on her back. The fall didn’t even faze her. She is more cautious about climbing trees these days, but that hasn’t stopped her from climbing of course.

Lily has been acting so depressed the past couple of days that we decided she was born to be free and allowed her to run free outside,  for most of the past two days. It’s been heartbreaking for us. We constantly worry that something will happen to her.

We’ve had a constant  power struggle to determine the Alpha Dog between Lily and I. She actually bites my hand when she’s hungry and wants me to feed her. Most cats just meow and rub up against your leg, but not this girl. I hate being bitten, not realizing at first what she was telling me, I would bite her ear back. She did not like that at all but she learned to nibble, instead of leaving puncture marks in my hand.

This evening she was out,  wandering too far from home — much further than I am comfortable with. I had been trying to keep an eye on her and ignore her at the same time. My theory was that she would come home –  eventually – on her own terms.

I would go outside and call her name, she would come flying up or down the hill, zip past me and keep right on going. I tried explaining to her that I was going to bed and she needed to come into the house. She didn’t care. Nothing fazed her, until…

I came back inside, picked up her spare bed from the livingroom and her fuzzy cover from dad’s desk that  she likes to lay on —  items well scented by her. I put them out on the deck, under my chair. The next time she came flying up on the deck, she took one look at her bed, I opened the door walked inside and told her, let’s go to bed and inside she came.

I had almost given up hope of her ever willingly coming back into the house but I guess even she is smart enough to realize sleeping in the house is much nicer than a cold windy deck. I have reason to hope though, just now I opened the door to go outside and she was waiting there to be allowed inside. Apparently, she didn’t realize all she had to do was push on the door. I had made sure it wasn’t latched.

I am thankful for the rainy weather. The cold, wet ground isn’t as pleasing to her delicate sensibilities, so it’s a tiny bit easier to get her to come home. I can’t wait to introduce her to snow. By next summer, she will be older and hopefully much wiser. With any luck, she’ll also be trained to return home.

Unfortunately, I’m positive she still thinks she’s the boss.

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Cruel and inhumane treatment; law must change

Wednesday, June 29, 2011, as I sat under the gazebo watching my son practice his routine on the trampoline, a young buck, probably not more than a year old,  came wandering down the driveway nibbling at the tall grass as he came closer. He stopped for a few minutes to observe the activity as if amazed by the sight before him.

Young Buck

This young buck is standing just 10 feet from where he will die, 2 days later.

He was an enchanting creature with velvety antlers  that seemed to  enjoy the sound of my voice, as I spoke to him in soothing tones.   This was not his first visit, his mother brought him by when he was just a wee fawn. I can still remember their last visit together. It was a touching moment and I didn’t understand what was happening at the time.

One  afternoon,  around 4 p.m.,  I sat alone on the deck, as if entranced, while four older fawns haltingly approached our yard. They were nosing around in the grass and eating bird seed, of all things. They played around a little and moved along. As the fawns were leaving, 4 mothers followed not far behind, they were chatting each other up and sparring a little, all while keeping a watchful eye on the fawns.

That was the last time they visited as a large group. It was as if the mothers were showing them the rounds, so they could care for themselves once they were out on their own. Sure enough, a few days later, a couple of fawns wandered through the yard and my lovely young buck would make the rounds every 2 or 3 days.

Velvet AntlersYesterday, the graceful buck was struck broadside by a passing motorist on the road, fracturing his left front shoulder and rear leg. My son and I were out for a walk, when he noticed the deer down a steep incline, on the side of the mountain overlooking our house. Under a great deal of brush –  he wasn’t moving.

He went to get his father (Shawn)  and I walked to the fireman’s house next door. I figured if anyone knew what to do, he would. He came down later to see what was wrong, but wasn’t able to help and left.

Shawn found the deer, amazingly enough, behind our house. It was obvious his leg and shoulder were broken, he was bleeding from his mouth and in undeniable distress. Shawn described him as  though he were a trout flopping around the boat, gasping for air.  Another neighbor, a former police officer from San Leandro, advised us to call animal control; so we did.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, as the case may be, I had the number handy. My cat disappeared only Wednesday evening and I had called to report her absence the day before. It was after hours at animal control. The recorded message told us to call the Sheriff’s dispatch, which  I did.

California Department of Fish and Game

Dispatch informed us their officers were busy (4th of July weekend traffic stops), but  she would send someone out as soon as possible. Two hours and 30 minutes  later I called back and was apprised that an officer was in route and should arrive momentarily. Over 3 hours had passed from the time we discovered the deer until the Sheriff actually put  him down.

While I waited, I tried to comfort the suffering buck. I spoke to him as I always have, trying to help calm him. I sang to him, prayed for him and cried for him while we waited.

I mentioned yesterday,  in  Ohio Modern Day Heroes that I used to have a farm, we would kill and butcher most of the animals ourselves. Our animals led a happy life, with good healthy food, music, freedom to wander, kids to play with (if they wanted to) and when it was time to put them down, we did everything in our power to do the deed as quickly and painlessly as possible. We loved our animals. They brought us great joy and happiness: they were giving their lives for us and we respected them for that. That is the natural way of life. But it broke my heart to stand and watch this magnificent creature die a slow and agonizing death, while I could do little more than stand helplessly by and watch.

The Sheriff informed us of what he was going to do – he had to put the deer out of its misery, which all agreed was for the best, and he informed us that it was a holiday weekend; he could shoot the deer but he was going to leave it IN OUR YARD. (If you have never smelled a rotting carcass, consider yourself blessed beyond measure.) We were fine with that. I’ve always believed in using every part of an animal and not to waste anything. My son even  taught himself how to tan hides, a long and complicated process.

We were also informed by the Sheriff that he couldn’t give us permission to keep it. I’m not exactly sure  what  he thought we were going to do with it. I knew one thing for sure, he did not  give his life for nothing. We covered him in a sheet, moved him to another location and  started watching video’s on how to dress out a deer. Neither of us had ever cleaned a deer but we  didn’t have much choice did we?  After all, it was 9:00 p.m., the deer had been shot, IN OUR YARD and left to decay.

My patient husband spent the next five hours cleaning the buck and preparing it for  processing. We called Dee’s Meats in Galt,  after hearing our story, the woman  from Dee’s told us to bring it in, they were open until noon. Perfect! We cleaned up and finally made it to bed around  2:00 a.m.; we were all back up at  8:30 a.m.,  with just enough time to load up the SUV and  make the long drive to Galt.  We arrived just in time — we thought —  as we  pulled into the parking lot at  11:50 a.m., only to be told they  could be closed down for processing our  deer  because we needed a tag from the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG).

I was really getting worried now, the temperature in Galt was a sticky 102 °F, or more. Working as quickly as possible Shawn and I both began dialing our cell phones, trying to talk to someone — anyone — at the Department of Fish and Game, to no avail. It was Saturday afternoon on a busy holiday weekend. There were police everywhere, but we couldn’t reach one single human being at the DFG. How could that be? Aren’t they supposed to be on duty, especially when people  head to the mountains, streams, lakes and rivers  in droves?

English: A white-tailed deer

Finally, we were given directions to  the house of a DFG  employee, who lived nearby. As luck (or not) would have it, he was home. The first thing he did was inform Shawn that he could charge him with taking a deer illegally, and that transporting it was yet another broken law. What? You’ve got to be kidding me! What kind of place is this? Who could be so cruel as to threaten to charge a man who had gone to such efforts; missing out on hours of work and sleep, to ensure that this deer was honored in his death.

I don’t blame this young DFG  employee. He was just doing his job, right? He was nice enough but just as quickly informed my husband that he couldn’t let us keep the deer. He continued that if a motorist hits a deer, he’s not allowed to keep it. They take that deer and donate it to the zoo or an animal refuge, like PAWS. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I love animals but this was our deer. He came here to our house to die or for comfort. He was shot here (by the Sheriff) and left IN OUR YARD. We didn’t keep the antlers because I couldn’t stand to look at them, knowing where they came from and their owner was dead but the meat would have provided for our family many nourishing meals. Aren’t people supposed to eat, too?

Why was no one available to help when this animal was suffering? We would have put the deer down ourselves, to keep him from suffering but we knew we would go to jail or at the very least be fined. We tried to do the right thing, but someone wasn’t on the job. This should not have happened and I don’t ever want to experience anything of this nature again. It’s  far too painful and completely unnecessary. I don’t want to live where people pay lip service about caring for animals and yet, a  living breathing animal is allowed to suffer for hours and die a painful death.

These asinine  laws must change. I can’t even claim that California cares more about its animals than it does people. It’s apparent that only caged animals deserve dignity, respect and care. I hate seeing animals in cages, it’s just plain cruel and any law that allows any animal to lie in pain is wrong. Please write your legislators and share my story if you care about the deer,  mountain lions, bears, cougars, etc…

Gee, I’m happy that the zoo animals will eat tonight but what about my family? Who will feed us? My husband works all night every Friday night, he took five hours out of his schedule and instead of sleeping, he cleaned a deer that was LEFT IN OUR YARD. We spent $60 in gas to drive to Galt to have the deer processed. That, California, is food that came out of my son’s mouth. Do we have to leave California to be treated fairly?

Update: It’s come to our attention that there’s a local organization, Rose Wolf Wildlife, that may have been able to assist us immediately with helping out this poor young buck. The next time this happens (and we’re sure it will), we’ll definitely give them a call.

 

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TX: HB 461 Animal ID

Buffalo at Frontier Buffalo Ranch, Snelling, CA

Frontier Buffalo Ranch

Testimony before the House Committee on Agriculture and Livestock

Texas HB 461, Committee Substitute, relating to prohibiting mandatory participation in an animal identification system.

My name is Judith McGeary, and I am the Executive Director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. FARFA supports the committee substitute of HB 461. We strongly believe that the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) should not be a mandatory program in Texas, nor should anyone be coerced into it.

The proponents of NAIS have provided only general claims that NAIS is necessary for animal health. They have provided no scientific studies supporting the design of NAIS, particularly their claims that the program requires 100% participation to be effective for disease control.

Supporters of NAIS argue that small facilities are as susceptible to disease as are large facilities, but this is wholly unsupported by scientific evidence or practical experience. Basic epidemiological principles establish that disease is most likely to occur, spread rapidly, and mutate to higher pathogenic forms in high-density populations.

Small, low-density operations, while not immune to disease, pose a lower risk. The level of risk also varies based on the different species of animals and different diseases. Horses, chickens, pigs, goats, llamas, bison, and elk each pose different issues than do cattle. An effective disease control program would not simply treat all “livestock animals” and all diseases the same.

Neither the USDA nor the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) has done a cost analysis, but it is clear that the costs will far exceed the $2-3 per animal that is frequently quoted.

That estimate addresses only the basic tag, not the labor costs to the animal owners, the costs of establishing and maintaining databases, the cost of the equipment for scanning the tags, nor the ongoing costs of reporting. Estimates of costs of similar programs in other countries range from $37 per animal to $69 per animal. These are just averages – depending on the number of animals and the number of movements that need to be reported, costs for some individuals will be even higher. Texas has approximately 14 million cattle, 1 million sheep, 1 million goats, and 1 million horses. NAIS could cost Texas animal owners, consumers, and taxpayers hundreds of millions, or even over a billion, dollars.

Fenced Buffalo at Frontier Buffalo Ranch, Snelling, CA

Frontier Buffalo Ranch

Costs are not merely monetary. The plans for NAIS have not addressed individuals’ concerns over the government intrusion into their privacy and the burden on property rights. Never before in the history of our country has a person had to report to the state and federal government simply because he or she owns animals. The later stages of the program would require people to report a long list of events to a government-accessible database. Animals do not move themselves, so such reporting translates into reporting the owners’ movements and activities.

What will we get in return for these costs? On a practical level, there will almost certainly be significant technological problems. The Australian version of NAIS, for cattle, has suffered from repeated problems with the databases, including 11 million phantom cattle.

An Australian cattleman told FARFA that, in the year since their electronic tracking program was implemented, he has never gotten completely correct information from the database. He has had animals listed in the database that were not his; he has been unable to find animals that he owns that should have been in the database; and the factual information about the animals has frequently been incorrect. Australia has approximately 27 million cattle, compared with the approximately 100 million cattle in the US and the 14 million cattle in Texas alone. Moreover, NAIS would include dozens of other species as well.

Ox at Frontier Buffalo Ranch, Snelling, CA

Frontier Buffalo Ranch

If the Australian databases have had such significant problems, what can we expect from NAIS if it is implemented here?

We already have mechanisms for tracking animals. The government should be able to show clear benefits to be gained before proposing a new, expensive and intrusive program.

Some of the proponents of NAIS have argued that USDA will implement NAIS if the states don’t do it. But USDA has stated that NAIS is, and will remain, voluntary at the federal level. Moreover, even if USDA were to change its mind, it lacks statutory authority to mandate NAIS. There have been multiple bills introduced in Congress to provide such authority, but none have passed. These repeated failures to adopt legislation indicate that Congress may never actually do so.

And should NAIS ever be made mandatory at any level, it will most likely be challenged in the courts on multiple constitutional grounds. There is a growing public outcry against NAIS across the country, making it less and less likely that national action will ever be taken. Ten other states have proposed bills that would limit NAIS to a voluntary program or abolish it completely. There is no reason for Texas to make decisions based on what the federal government might possibly due in the future – we need to make decisions about what is best for Texas.

Looking at the specific provisions of the Committee substitute of HB 461, FARFA supports the provisions for full disclosure, the right to withdraw, and the non-discrimination clause. These provisions are critical to creating a truly voluntary program. Participation based on false information, lack of informed consent, and an inability to withdraw from the program is not voluntary. Similarly, for those who have been told that they must register or else they cannot participate in 4-H, sell at a local sales barn, or do other animal-related activities, the program is not truly voluntary.

There are many more cost-effective and less intrusive means to address livestock diseases. I urge you to vote in favor of HB 461, and allow Texans to choose to spend their money and their time on measures that will truly improve animal health.

Judith McGeary
Executive Director, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance
8308 Sassman Road
Austin, TX 78747

This article was originally posted to Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance on February 27, 2007. Reposted here with permission.

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