Maybe you’ve seen one driving down the highway or possibly you’ve seen one parked in a local parking lot for the day. So what are we talking about? One of those low cost, mobile spay/neuter van that brings the operating room to you; and your dog, cat or rabbit of course. I was lucky enough to spend the day with the folks from Kindest Cut here in Minnesota to observe what really happens on these mobile surgical units. Over the course of the day I found a whole new respect not only for what they do but why they do it.
The van itself is a tight space and every square inch is used as effectively and efficiently as possible. There are always at least four people on the van which include a vet and three vet techs. Cages of varying sizes line both sides which are used to house the animals after intake while they wait for their turn to be prepped for surgery. It also serves as their recovery room after surgery is complete. The measures they take to ensure everything in the operating area at the back of the van stays completely sterile is impressive. The surgery time varies depending on the species and whether they are male or female, but it is quick and efficient which means their time under anesthesia is minimal. In addition to the general pain meds given for surgical patients, the veterinarians also use an additional type of pain management they call blocks, or local anesthesia, with helps with aftercare. That makes for an easier recovery and gets them back to the comfort of their own home with their family much faster. In addition to spaying or neutering your animal, for an extra fee they will also microchip and vaccinate them if needed and everyone gets a nail trim and a brand new name tag too!
But I think what impressed me the most was the Kindest Cut staff. They truly love what they do, they obviously enjoy working with each other and most of all, they really love the animals that come on board. The staff is busy from start to finish but they always found time to give love and special attention to each of the animals while they’re there. They talked with such conviction about the issues surrounding homeless dogs and cats and their part in trying to help make a positive impact on pet overpopulation. It really was like watching a well-oiled machine with a touch of TLC thrown in the mix.
Of course I couldn’t close out the day without asking Dr. Kruck what she thought the animals she’s helped would say if they could speak our language. She thought they’d say “Thank you for helping me focus on my family, not on making babies and for allowing me to live a healthier, longer life.” Thank you Dr. Kruck and all of the Kindest Cut staff for helping us give our pets a better life.
So have you been wanting to get your pet spayed or neutered but time or money was a barrier? Well this might just be a perfect solution for you. Kindest cut serves locations throughout Minnesota and works by appointment only. Since their focus is offering low cost spay/neuter for people who would otherwise not be able to afford such a surgery, there are eligibility requirements. You can find all the details about Kindest Cut on their website including information about their owner and lead vet Dr. Meghann Kruck, their scheduled locations, services offered and scheduling appointments. And even more good news, Kindest Cut just opened a stationary spay/neuter clinic located at the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley, MN. Now it just got easier for all of us to do our part in helping to put an end to pet overpopulation! No excuses now, right?
Ahnung was one of those dogs that you felt an instant connection with. She had such a gentle spirit and such soulful eyes that you couldn’t help but love her the minute you met her.
It was last fall when My Voice was exhibiting at a local event that I had the privilege of meeting Marilou. It only takes a moment to realize what a kind soul she is. It’s no wonder a dog like Ahnung was destined to cross her path and become part of her family. We began talking about Leech Lake Legacy, a non-profit she founded that helps dogs, cats and their humans on reservations in Northern Minnesota, which quickly led to her telling me about one of her three dogs, Ahnung. Ahnung was a “res dog” abandoned on Red Lake Reservation and saved by Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue when she and Marilou crossed paths. I think anyone who knows the two of them could see they were kindred spirits who were destined to find each other.
Ahnung became a therapy dog, giving comfort to the sick and teaching compassion to at-risk youth. She was big sister to Missy and her two brothers – Legacy and Mister. She was the light of Marilou’s life. Bottom line, this dog brought a community of people together by touching everyone she met. Sadly, Ahnung was diagnosed with aggressive cancer in 2011 but battled bravely and with dignity. She lived with good quality of life, wagging her tail and spreading her joy well beyond anyone’s expectations. She stayed here with us until she knew her work was done.
On Sunday, after a gathering to celebrate Ahnung’s life, it was time to let her take her final journey. The community of people Ahnung brought together were there as she closed her eyes. No words can express the gratitude I have for Marilou sharing that precious moment with all of us, just as she selflessly shared Ahnung with all of us for so many years.
Ahnung means “star” in Ojibwe, the native language on the Red Lake Reservation. No doubt that we have a new star in the sky watching over all of us now.
Stay tuned for a blog post about Leech Lake Legacy and the work they do after my weekend of volunteering with them.
Dad went to Southern California a couple of weeks ago.
They said it was for meetings but we think they just wanted to get away
from the cold. Luckily they left us here
in Minneapolis so we could enjoy playing in the snow! They said their favorite part of the trip was
on Thursday when they got to volunteer at The Gentle Barn. Dad recently did an Ironman and raised over
$2,000 for TGB which allowed us to sponsor seven of their animals for a
year. They were so excited to visit
again and see some of those animals in person.
They came back and told us all about it and it sounded pretty cool so we
thought we’d share the story with you.
Barn is located in Santa Clarita, CA just north of Los Angeles. They have almost any animal you can imagine
from cows, to llamas and even a peacock.
All of the animals were rescued from some sort of less than optimal
situation. Some were severely abused, some
neglected and some dumped, left to survive on their own. But once they come to live at The Gentle
Barn, their lives will forever be one filled with love and care.
They met the
staff that work hard every day to make sure the animals’ living area is clean
and that they have food & water and they got to talk with several of the
volunteers that come every week to give the animals love and attention. To see how many dedicated people TGB has
helping them to do the incredible work they do was inspiring. Mom & Dad couldn’t wait to help out too. They gave water to all the cows and horses,
they swept and shoveled out horse stalls, scooped up old hay and shoveled poop,
lots of it. They even got to feed the
horses carrots when their grooming was done.
It’s not glamorous work but they said it was one of the most rewarding
things they’ve done in a long time. The
animals seemed so grateful and appreciative of everyone who is there to keep
them healthy and safe.
All of the
animals have a special story, have their own personality, have their own way of
showing gratitude. It’s impossible not
realize the depth of emotions and social connection all animals inherently have
after spending a day there. For
instance, did you know that cows are incredibly social, familial and a mother
will cry for days if her calf is taken from her? When TGB rescued Karma, they realized later
that she was a new mother so they went back the next day to rescue her
calf. Check out this video to watch
Karma reunited with her calf. Did you
know pigs are very intelligent and learn quickly, even learning tricks faster
than dogs? Pigs rank #4 in animal
intelligence behind chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants. Piglets learn their
names by two to three weeks of age and respond when called. Here’s a video of Biscuit’s first day at TGB,
saved the day before he would have gone off to slaughter. Wow has he grown!
money is necessary to keep them up and running but the feeling of rolling up the sleeves and
doing work to help them can’t be replaced.
Looking into Faith’s eyes when she comes to you for some love while cleaning her pasture is magical. When Cinnamon walks over asking for rubs while you’re filling her
water bucket, it’s hard not to create a bond.
All of these animals suffered at the hands of humans, yet they continue
to open their hearts and learn to love and trust again. There's something we can all learn from that. Meeting these animals is a life changing experience and we’re
hopeful that everyone will have the chance to see it for themselves one day.
Barn is located at 15825 Sierra Highway in Santa Clarita, CA. They are open to the public on Sundays and
you can visit their animals. Can’t get to California? You can check out their website at www.thegentlebarn.org to learn more
about all of their animals or donate to them directly.
Our mom and dad were in New York City last weekend. On Saturday they spent their afternoon
speaking for the carriage horses. Their
goal was to help educate tourists and locals about the truth behind the horse
& carriage industry. Doing this only
10 feet away from the line of waiting carriages and their drivers was a bit
tense but it was a successful day and they got hundreds of signatures for a
petition backing a bill that would ban horse & carriages in NYC. Here’s a little insight about the life of the
over 200 NYC carriage horses.
Horse & carriage rides have always been portrayed as
quaint and romantic. Usually they take
you on a meandering ride through a park or through downtown streets. Your ride lasts about 30 minutes and costs
you a pretty penny. But have you ever
wondered about what happens in the days and hours before and after your ride
and what that horse’s life is really like?
“They charge so much money for this they must really take great care of
those horses”. “They probably live with
their driver in a great big old barn or in a pasture”. “I’m sure they don’t mind pulling a carriage
full of tourists all day, horses are meant to work and pull carts”. These are all things they said they heard
from both tourists and locals when advocating for the horses. Most of them were shocked and horrified when
they learned the truth. Here are some
facts about this industry and there is nothing romantic about it.
Many of the horses used to pull the carriages are not
traditional workhorses . They are
usually smaller breeds, retired from racing or given up by owners and are not
physically built for this type of labor. They work long days. A typical shift for an NYC carriage horse is
nine hours, seven days a week. Their 15
minute required breaks are not enforced and are often bypassed in favor of a waiting
fare. They spend their nine hours
confined with the rigging, wearing blinders and a metal bit in their mouth
which is so restricting they have virtually no freedom of movement. When they’re not physically pulling the
carriage, they stand in the hack line. There
are times when they stand there for hours on the asphalt in soaring heat,
during thunderstorms and snowstorms.
They are frequently caught working during weather emergencies even when
ordered to suspend service.
Horses as a
breed are very social and intelligent requiring mental and physical
stimulation. They are also prone to
being skittish, meaning they spook easily.
All traits that don’t go hand in hand with being a carriage horse, especially
in an urban setting. The loud noises of
a city (horns, sirens construction, loud engines, etc.) are perfect catalysts
for spooking a horse. Their hack lines
are often in high tourist areas, i.e. the most congested areas, which mean they
are walking alongside cars, tour buses, limos and pedestrians. They stand or pull carriages for hours with no
social interaction or unrestricted movement/exercise. All of this makes the industry ripe for
accidents. There have been 8 incidents in just in the last 12 months alone of horses getting spooked and
bolting through traffic, getting hit by cars and even one NYC carriage horse
named Charlie dropping dead on a busy NYC street. This has resulted in injured drivers,
passengers and horses.
live in one of five major stables that are located along the west side of
NYC. There are conflicting reports about
the conditions of these stables. They said they didn't get to see them so they refrained from passing judgment. However, horses are animals that need room to
run, get proper exercise, graze and interact socially with other horses. Whether the stables are acceptable or not,
the fact still remains that these horses are denied the basic needs of the
there are many major cities around the globe that have banned horse and
carriages for entertainment for these very reasons. Some of those cities include London, Oxford, Paris,
Toronto and Beijing. Numerous smaller
cities throughout the United States have also banned them due to safety and
humane concerns. The bottom line is,
horse & carriages are nice to haves (by some) and are not needed in our
modern day. Is their safety and their
suffering really worth a 30 minute ride through the park? As with all animals,
we must be their voice and continue to learn, educate and create change until
we can ensure they live better lives.
- When you’re
in a city that offers carriage rides opt not to ride. Instead, choose a pedi-cab which is a growing
industry all over the country or rent a bike and pedal through the park at your
leisure. Or there’s always the tried and
- Learn about
how you can be a voice for the carriage horses in some of our major cities by following
organizations that are currently working to help them and learning about any
pending legislation. Here are some places to start.
NYCLASS; Horses Without Carriages International; Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages; Equine Advocates
Petitions to ban Horse & Carriages:
NYC; Philadelphia; Chicago; Flagstaff; Victoria; Montreal; Melbourne; Care2 petitions
Pending NYC legislation:
Bill S5012; Bill A7748
- Do your own
investigation to see if your city has horse & carriages. What are the rules governing them? Is the industry following those rules? How many accidents have occurred? Where they being stabled and what are the
conditions? If you don’t like what you
uncover, start your own movement to educate tourists and locals about what you
Sadie & Bella
We’ve always admired our canine friends who are therapy dogs
and the joy they bring to the humans they visit. They come in all breeds,
genders, shapes and sizes and have been recognized for the ability to lower
blood pressure, improve feelings of loneliness, reduce depression and raise self-esteem.
However, their value extends far beyond comforting the sick
and bringing joy to the elderly. Did you
know that therapy dogs also assist children learning to read, sitting
attentively and patiently while children read to them, allowing them to improve
their skills and boost their self-esteem?
They have also been effectively used in rehabilitation facilities for
substance abuse, encouraging higher levels of patient participation resulting in a more
successful recovery. So it’s no surprise
that we’ve seen the number of registered therapy dogs soar. As of 2011, the organization Therapy Dogs
International alone had 24,000 therapy dogs registered.
Our mom told us the story of when our older sister Onyx was
a therapy dog and went to the neighborhood nursing home every week to visit the
residents. They would start in the common
room where it would be sing-around-the-piano time. Everyone would sing 'How Much Is That Doggie in
the Window' to her and then she would go to each person and give them special attention. There was one man in particular who suffered from Alzheimer’s who
had not communicated verbally or non-verbally with anyone for over a year. His daughter was always there with him and
showered Onyx with attention but the gentleman never acknowledged her. Then one day the man’s eyes lit up, he looked
right at her, smiled a big smile and started petting her. No one could believe it, his daughter and the
nurses were in tears. They sat with him
for over an hour as he continued to smile, pet and coo to her. Onyx brought the spark of life back in him even
if only for that short time. We’ll never
know what triggered it but it’s just another example of the special connection and bond
between human and canine.
We’ve been told that our personality isn’t conducive to being therapy
dogs. I guess we understand since we can
be a bit skittish around strangers which usually means we either strain to get
away or bark at them so they’ll leave. So instead we take pleasure in the occasions
we can put a smile on a little kid’s face when we let them pet us. I suppose that’s our version of “pet” therapy.
Sadie & Bella
Do you have a dog in your home
that would make a great therapy dog?
Have you ever thought about becoming a therapy dog handler? If you answered yes, then maybe it’s time to
look into it at little further. If you are
interested in learning more, the Therapy Dogs International website
is a great place to start!
We understand what it means to be misunderstood. With the Karelian Bear Dog in us we like to
bark, it's an intimidating bark and that’s an understatement. Our
bark is the same whether we’re greeting our mom & dad at the door or we
bark at a stranger at the dog park. It
makes some people scared of us but we really don’t mean any harm. We know our Pit Bull friends must feel the
same way. Just because some have been conditioned to
show aggression and used in the horrific “sport” of dog fighting, the vast
majority have not and to assume the worst in them seems unfair.
But that’s exactly what is happening all over the country
and the most recent set back is in Maryland where this month, the legislature
deemed all Pit Bull-type dogs are “inherently dangerous”. It’s only a matter of time until we see the
result of this legislation. Landlords
won’t allow them, local insurance companies won’t cover people who own them
(many already don’t) and shelters won’t or will be reluctant to take them. That means an increase in euthanization and
stray Pit Bulls on the street which isn’t good for the community or those poor
dogs. All owners know that dogs, even litter mates like us,
have their own personality. But Pit Bull
breeds are being categorized as one size fits all. If a dog is chained up, abused
or trained to be aggressive is that really the dog’s fault or indicative of the entire breed?
But there’s a bright spot when we see the story on CNN.com about Lilly, a Pit Bull that was rescued from a shelter, who pulled her unconscious
owner off the train tracks (with a train barreling down on them mind you) with
no regard for her own safety. Lilly lost
one of her legs, has a fractured pelvis and many internal injuries. Her owner didn’t have a scratch on her. We need more stories like this to show that
Pit Bulls like any other breed are loyal, loving and affectionate. How many times have we seen Pit Bulls rescued
from dog fighting rings, who after being rehabilitated, make wonderful
companion dogs? It just goes to show, one size definitely does not fit all.
We know Pit Bull breeds may not be right for everyone, just like we know as quirky Karelians we are not the perfect fit for all families out there either. Everyone needs to give careful consideration when choosing a dog. We just hope that people won't automatically assume the worst and discount the fact that a Pit Bull could make a wonderful addition to the family.
Sadie & Bella
If you own a Pit Bull breed and want to learn about pending
legislation in your area or breed specific laws (BSL), click here.
This is our first blog entry so we thought we’d start off by writing a little more about us, how our company came to be and what we hope to become.
First, let us introduce ourselves. We are Sadie and Bella, two Karelian Bear Dog mixes that live in Minnesota with our mom and dad. We were abandoned when we were born but luckily someone found us and brought us to the local shelter. We were too sick for them to care for us but luck was on our side because the wonderful folks at the Wisconsin Humane Society came all the way to Kentucky to take us back to stay with them for a while. They made sure we got better so we could find a good home. Since they are a no kill shelter, we knew we would be safe until someone came to choose us to be part of their family. That day finally came and we have been happy, healthy and loved ever since!
We felt such gratitude that we convinced our mom that it was time to give other animals the second chance we had, and so the idea for My VoiceTM began. We needed to find a way to give a voice to the animals and make it easy for you humans to help their voice be heard. We thought T-shirts would be a fun and easy way to do just that. So, you’ll notice that the messages on all of our shirts are from the perspective of the animal. It’s what they would say if they could speak for themselves. The best news of all is that we are committed to helping these animals by giving back half our profits to non-profit organizations that are helping to give them a better life.
We are just starting out, but we hope one day soon to be considered a champion in the realm of animal welfare. Not just for our donations but also in raising awareness and creating change. We need your help to do that so we hope that you’ll join the My VoiceTM family and support our mission by buying a shirt…or two, or three. The more of us that are speaking for the animals, the more good all of us can do to help them live happy lives.
We will blog regularly so make sure to check back soon. We will be covering topics like how people are making a difference, spotlighting wonderful non-profit organizations and of course informing people of opportunities where we can take action. Together, we can all make a difference!
Sadie & Bella