Tag Sales, Photo Clinics, Adoption Clinics and MORE! There are SO many TASP events going on throughout the year! All are for raising the funds needed to continue our mission of helping companion animals stay safe and healthy. Want to help? Visit/volunteer/donate/shop! Bring your friends and family and have a blast while you help local animals! CLICK HERE for a fast connection to the TASP Events Page.
Category: Newsletter 4
The loss of a beloved pet is a difficult experience for everyone. How do you explain this loss to a child? There are some well written children’s books that take on this task with honesty and empathy. There are books on just about any type of pet, so take some time to find a book that will fill your family’s needs. The following books are from the RedRover Reader’s Book List.
The Forever Dog by Bill Cochran explores the adventures of Mike and his dog Corky. For years they are the best of friends and Mike creates the Forever Plan believing that Corky will always be there for him. One day Mike comes home from school to find that Corky has died. With the help of his mother Mike learns that the Forever Plan must be altered. This book portrays the journey from happiness to loss and with great care, to acceptance.
Goodbye Mousie, by Robie H .Harris tells the story of a preschool boy and the death of his pet mouse. While he experiences a flood of emotions, his parents help him prepare a funeral. The boy’s preparations are tender and tissue worthy. The gentle illustrations help lead the way to eventual acceptance.
Feeling like your voice needs to be heard about Animal Welfare matters? The most effective way to make change happen doesn’t have to involve marching around with your fist up or waving a sign. Our country’s legislative process makes it possible for citizens to change laws by working with their elected officials. A politely written, thoughtful letter written to your representatives in the Senate and Congress can change minds and make more effective laws get passed. This is especially true when your letter contributes some positive ideas about how to best deal with certain animal-related issues, and includes a list of signatures from other folks who feel like you do.
A website called GOVTRACK.COM makes it easy and convenient to search all the bills pertaining to animals (or any topic you want to search, for that matter) that have been submitted to the US Congress and Senate.
At this site, you can find out which legislator introduced the bill and what its current status is. You can even read the complete bill, word for word. We recommend that if you’re going to speak out about any bill or law, it’s very important that you read and understand the entire document and don’t just take the word of someone else as to what’s in there. This way, when you approach the legislator about the bill, they will judge you as a credible contributor to the process and take you seriously. Legislators are contacted by a lot of constituents every day, and they can tell pretty quickly who’s just a complainer and who’s seriously interested in getting good legislation passed. Do your homework if you want your ideas to be seriously considered.
Many bills are amendments to laws already in existence. So you may need to back up and read the existing law and compare it to the changes being proposed, in order to make sure you know what you’re agreeing or disagreeing with. Again, don’t take someone else’s word for what’s in a law or bill. Take the time to read it for yourself. Many well-meaning people have been hoodwinked by others with a particular agenda when it comes to communicating the content of existing or proposed legislation. The best animal advocates are the ones who truly understand what they’re advocating about.
If you find a bill that you think is a particularly valuable piece of legislation which needs to be passed into law, you can follow up with action:
1) Contact the author of that bill to congratulate them on their effort and to offer your assistance with networking among the public to gain support for that legislation. If you feel some part of the legislation should be re-worded to eliminate some ambiguity that could lead to misinterpretation or loopholes later on, let the legislator know and give them your suggested change. Legislators are only human beings; you may be a human being with a better command of the English language. Put that knowledge of yours to work in helping your representative craft the most solid legislation possible.
2) Contact your local media to make them aware of the bill and tell them why their viewers, readers and listeners would want to know about it. Media can spread the word about important issues like this a lot faster than an individual can, and the media knows that animal issues are of great concern to the public.
3) If you live in New York State, Animal Advocacy Day is YOUR opportunity to meet with your State representatives in person to give them your opinion on animal welfare issues. The 7th Annual New York State Animal Advocacy Day event is coming up soon: June 5, in the Well of the NY State Legislative Office building at the Empire State Plaza. From 9:30AM to 12PM, animal welfare and animal rights groups will be displaying information about their services and offering assistance to attendees about how to effectively discuss your concerns with your representative. Then at 11:30AM, attendees can personally visit their representatives’ offices to meet with their lawmakers and discuss Animal Advocacy issues. This is a wonderful way to have direct input into the laws that protect New York’s animals and it’s a lot more effective than marching around carrying a sign. After all, negotiating is a give and take process that requires that both sides be heard clearly to develop mutual understanding and acceptance. This kind of process can’t take place in an environment where people are shouting slogans and sound bites. Constructive conversations between informed citizens and legislators are the way the most effective laws get passed.
How many times have you seen pictures on the internet of pets and people, children in particular, interacting in ways that make you cringe? The toddler riding a dog like a pony; the little boy whose face is pushed up into the face of a dog; the little girls stretching and twisting the legs of a kitten as they attempt to dress it in their doll’s clothes……Some viewers will recognize that the animal is screaming, “Get away from me!” with his body language, but the photographer, and many viewers think it is adorable and sweet.
The danger in encouraging these kinds of interactions is, the animal only has its body language with which to communicate with us. Yes, we can talk to the animals all we want, but do we “hear” what they are saying to us in their language? A dog’s or cat’s bite is most often its last resort after multiple danger signals are offered in the animal’s body language. When all else fails and the critter feels no other option is available, they will very likely hurt us in order to escape the danger/pain.
If we could teach ourselves and others, especially our children, how to translate an animal’s body language, then experts agree there would be far less serious pet-on-human injuries filling up our hospital emergency rooms and urgent care centers. In fact, in the April, 2017 issue of Clinician’s Brief, Emily D. Levine, DVM, DACVB from the Animal Behavior Clinic of Animal Emergency & Referral Associates in Fairfield, NJ, tells the veterinary profession that more needs to be done to prevent dog bites to kids, since children comprise a very large segment of the approximately 4.5 million dog bites occurring each year. And since children’s faces are so much closer to the dogs’ faces than an adult’s, dog bites to children often have devastating consequences.
According to Dr. Levine’s study of adults’ interpretations of canine body language, over 65% of adults misinterpreted clearly exhibited warning signals from canines toward children, when viewing sample videos showing canine-child interactions. In short, the majority of the adults in the study interpreted danger signals from the dogs to mean those dogs were relaxed and confident, when actually, they were fearful and anxious. One of the most commonly misinterpreted canine signals was the wagging tail. According to Dr. Levine, the average adult does not know that a wagging tail does not necessarily mean the dog is happy.
Similar misinterpretations of animal language occur with other companion animals. Cats, horses, reptiles, ferrets….virtually all animals communicate. Since we’re supposed to be the most intelligent species, it’s up to us to learn the language of our pets if we want to live in harmony with them.
There are some good sources out there to help people learn to read and respect animal body language. For instance, you can find articles, webinars, posters, and even a phone app. to help educate your friends and family about the proper way to interpret body language in your canine companion. And teaching animal body language to kids can actually be fun, because it allows them to get a deeper vision into what the other species is thinking and saying to us. After all, there’s a little bit of Dr. Doolittle in all of us, right?
Learning how to communicate with our companion animals is the key to safety and happiness for pets AND people. The internet has a wealth of information on the language of just about any species. Here are some links to get you started:
Posters abound on the internet. Do some research and find the poster that best fits your audience:
Here’s a link to a phone app developed by Jill Breitner, an experienced west coast trainer. This app contains more than 60 different canine postures. For each posture there is a breakdown of specific body positions as well as the context in which these positions might be displayed. Available from the App Store or Google Play for $3.99, this app was created in 2015.
Please help us find good foster/adoptive homes for the Late Mitch Valerien’s dogs. We owe it to this wonderful person who helped so many, to do right by the pets she left behind. Details on each dog can be found on the Adoptable Animals page at the TASP website.
Thanks for caring.
Best Friends Forever, Tess & Tim Newbury
When you know you’re married to your best friend, that good vibe bubbles over to everything you do and everyone you touch. It spreads an aura of peace and happiness that is contagious and puts animals and people completely at ease. And isn’t The Animal Support Project fortunate to have Tim and Tess Newbury, happily married for nearly 40 years, as our treasured volunteers! Tess, the sweet little blonde lady with the smile that lights up a room, the one who works our photo clinics each month and coaxes feral cats like Dr. Doolittle, is the perfect match for Tim, the soft-spoken veteran who uses his experience and skills to do everything from building dog houses and fences to upgrading the TASP storage facility, to teaching our younger volunteers how to properly handle power tools.
TASP deals with such an eclectic variety of situations in the course of helping animals and their owners through tough times, having a flexible couple like Tim and Tess on our crew is a gift from heaven. Not only do they approach every project they’re asked to work with a smile and a can-do attitude, but they demonstrate to the rest of the community what TASP is all about: respect for all living creatures, whether two or four-legged.
A veteran of both the US NAVY and the US ARMY, Tim’s experiences managing logistics on submarines and working on helicopter crews make him uniquely qualified to be TASP’s Logistics Chief. Need a stretcher to carry an unconscious 120 pound Rottweiler from a disabled lady’s dining room floor for transport to the vet? Let Tim improvise the solution and you know it will be done humanely and safely. Need to erect a safe space to hold a dozen feral cats while they await vetting? Put Tim in charge and he’ll have every tool, every supply on hand to get the job done right the first time.
Tess just retired from her position working in Special Education, and what made her so successful in that job was her empathy and respect for humanity. She uses those same wonderful traits to bring the best out of people and pets in her work with TASP. Her friendly, joyful disposition draws others to her and helps them know things are going to be alright. And nothing calms a frightened pet better than Tess’s soft voice and gentle touch. She helps relax the pets and owners at our photo clinics so we can capture the perfect shot, and she is the glue that holds our volunteers together with a bond that can only come from the genuine love and friendship she feels for them.
The Newburys know the value of family. Pull into their driveway on any day and you’ll be greeted by a grandchild or two followed by Picklejack, the Pit Bull. Tim might be running that Sunday in a 5K with daughter, Nicole, or helping one of Nicole’s girls hone their archery skills for 4H. And Tess is probably out in the barn with another grandchild, gathering eggs and tossing hay to the goats.
This power-couple has been volunteering with TASP ever since they failed miserably at fostering dogs for our organization…..not once, but TWICE! But let me tell you, Gregory and Gretel, the two foster dogs who stole their hearts, could not have found a better home than the Newbury’s. Life at their mini-farm is as sweet as it gets.
Tess & Tim Newbury have brought so much to TASP and to those we serve! With so much treasure in their own private lives, it is an absolute honor to know they still have time to be so active with TASP. They do it because they believe in TASP’s mission: keeping families together.
If you had met Marianne ten years ago when we first encountered her, you’d be meeting a well-educated woman in her 70’s who was using her GE retirement funds to support herself and a handful of stray cats. Together they lived the good life at Marianne’s little acre of rural paradise not far from where I am writing this. She was an uncommonly strong-willed woman, well-read, with a dry wit and zero tolerance for people who treated animals or people unfairly. She was stubborn as a mule and could chew into someone like a badger if she thought they needed setting straight. Marianne had grown up a farm girl and appreciated the solitude and peace of country life, even as a widow, with her grown daughter living with her own family many miles away.
Back then, just like now, well-meaning people from town would drive their unwanted cat out to some rural location near a farm, assuming it was more humane to drop the cat there than to take it to the shelter. In their minds, the shelter would just kill their cat. But out here, under the sun and stars, the cat would live the idyllic Disney life, sustained by a lifetime supply of mice and milk from the cow barn. As someone who grew up in the country, I can testify those people assumed incorrectly. Life for a stray cat in the country is anything but idyllic. It’s constant struggle; competition for food, water, a safe place to sleep and raise young, and the constant pressure of random sickness, attack and injury. It’s one of the reasons why stray and feral cats have large litters: because nature knows many feral-born kittens will not make it to adulthood.
Marianne understood this and kept her little colony in tip-top order. When a new cat would show up in her yard, she would use her own trap to capture it, then drive it to Hoof n’ Paw Vet Service at the Valley Falls-Cambridge line, to have it altered, vaccinated and doctored for any illness it may have had. It was a reasonably well thought out plan and, after the initial veterinary investment, it afforded Marianne a resident varmint patrol around her little mobile home for just the cost of cat food and fresh water. It also offered her the pleasure of free entertainment, watching for hours as the cats lived their lives outside her picture window. Eventually, each cat would be friendlied enough to be awarded a name and an afternoon or evening indoors on Marianne’s couch. Cats came and went as they pleased there and the protocol suited everyone concerned.
As time went on, GE’s stock began under-performing. And in ensuing years, the value mostly declined, leaving Marianne’s retirement income thinner and thinner. But the arrival of new wandering feline strangers from the farm down the road continued, and seemed to even increase. The cats apparently didn’t scrutinize the Wall Street Journal sufficient to recognize their food and medical bills were straining Marianne’s wallet. Nonetheless, Marianne made sure they ate regularly, while she pinched her pennies. This was right about the time she met up with The Animal Support Project.
We’d gotten a call from Hoof n’ Paw, asking us to call on this nice lady who was having trouble keeping up with fixing the cats invading her property. They informed us about her past efforts and were concerned that more cats than ever seemed to be arriving at her little oasis. They wondered if there was something we could do to help and there was. We teamed up with Marianne on several occasions to trap numbers of cats at once and have all of them vaccinated, altered and tested. Then we’d adopt them out for her to keep her burden down to a reasonable number.
2016 was a hard year for Marianne. By that time, she was in her 80’s. She’d suffered a stroke and after that, had spent just enough time living with her saint of a daughter to get back on her feet. A proud person of Marianne’s age has trouble being dependent on their child. It is not a role they can adapt to readily. So after recovering enough to be deemed safe on her own, Marianne returned to her little paradise in the country where she didn’t have to live on other people’s schedules or hear the unfamiliar sounds of suburban life. She returned to reading from her own library, shopping for herself and enjoying the 24-7 entertainment of her beloved cats outside and inside her home. A niece who lived nearby took over for TASP, looking in on Marianne and doing trap-neuter-return on her property to maintain population control for the cats, and Marianne’s brother, who lived just down the road, did the “manly stuff” around the property to keep her home running safely.
In late summer of 2017, Marianne’s daughter called to ask for our help again. Marianne had broken her hip. She was now almost completely deaf, quite small and frail, but nonetheless, she was raising hell with the doctors at the hospital, wanting to go home as soon as possible to be in her own element with her cats. Her brother was by this time also quite up in age and physically not able to support Marianne around her place the way he had in the past. We committed to Marianne’s daughter to round up the cats indoors and out and begin the process of finding them new homes where they could be safe. Luckily for all concerned, TASP has Tess and Tim Newbury on our volunteer team. Thanks to them, we were able to capture all 13 of Marianne’s cats, including three kittens born to a newcomer female who had not yet been fixed.
With the generosity of Marianne’s daughter, we were able to buy flea collars for all the cats as well as having all updated on vaccines and tested for disease. We returned a handful of them to Marianne’s mobile home so they could live indoors with Marianne when she came home from her hip rehabilitation, and the rest were kept happy in a large temporary cattery we erected in her garage with materials we stock for such things. Tess and Tim continued to visit the cattery each day to maintain things there and they would look in on Marianne, walk her trash barrel to the road on pickup day, and make sure all was well. Seeing Marianne, we all knew they would not have to do this for long. Meantime, in the background, Debbie D’Angelo, our volunteer whom we share with Noah’s Kingdom, Kitten Angels and other capital district cat rescues, was lining up plans for the cats to be transferred out to these wonderful local rescues.
Marianne passed away peacefully in her beloved home one morning from what first responders deemed a massive heart attack. They said there was no sign of suffering or panic at the scene; death was swift and merciful. Her last moments were no doubt shared with her little family of cats, and now she was asleep forever, no longer worried about the things we on this earth concern ourselves with. She died as she had wished to: not in a nursing home, not in a hospital bed, not away from what was so loved and so familiar to her. I choose to believe this was her reward for a life righteously lived. And I think she died at peace with her situation, knowing TASP and her family would not abandon her cats.
What made it possible for TASP to help in this situation? Well, having the support of Marianne’s family was a key contributor to the success. This was an expensive endeavor. TASP has limited funds to work with in comparison to the number of requests we receive. So having the financial help of Marianne’s daughter was essential to get so many cats cared for properly. TASP stocks donated kennels, fencing material and cat supplies so we can erect a cattery like this when needed.
TASP was honored to have known Marianne and her daughter, who, by the way, has her mother’s strong will and dry wit and was a real treasure in making this project work. We feel blessed that we can network with such kind and considerate rescue groups in our community who will help us with big projects like this. And we are proud to have volunteers who are committed enough to our mission to go out of their way for months to ensure that Marianne’s beloved cats weren’t left to scatter on their own. I believe everyone involved in this project feels we did what Marianne would have wanted and we share in the hope that we can also someday leave this world with the dignity afforded to this good woman.
…..to the wonderful businesses in the Capital Region who prove they care by partnering with TASP:
Animal House Dog Grooming
Aquaduct Veterinary Hospital
Benson’s Pet Centers
Bloomingrove Veterinary Hospital
Borador Animal Hospital
Brunswick Animal Hospital
Cambridge Valley Vet
Canoe Associates Insurance Agency
Catskill Animal Hospital
Cobleskill Vet Hospital
Crawmer’s Animal Training
Duncan & Cahill Contractors & Engineers, Inc.
Healthy Pet Center
Higher Ground Farms
Honey Badger Farms
Hoof n’ Paw Vet Services
Hoosic Veterinary Hospital
Infinity Pet Services
In The Comfort of Home
Karen L. Marbot, Attorney at Law
Kat’s Bed n’ Biskit
LaFave, Wein and Frament, PLLC
Latham Animal Hospital
Mud Hollow Farm
Oakwood Veterinary Clinic
Out of the Basement
Pet Supplies Plus
Riverside Vet Hospital
Schoharie Vet Hospital
Shamrock Grooming and Dog Day Care
The Animal Hospital
Tub 64 Pet Grooming
Union Street Veterinary Hospital
Upstate Veterinary Specialties
VCA Brown Animal Hospital
West Mountain Animal Hospital
Wiley Brothers Hardware & Building Supply
Please consider giving them your business in return for their commitment to TASP’s mission.
Just a taste of the many expressions of gratitude TASP receives from our community…….
“I just wanted to express my gratitude for the help with Kobi’s surgery. He’s doing very well. I
appreciate and thank you so much.” – Celeste
“Love how well everything came together! Great plan executed by great people!” – KC
“Thank you for the payment on Lazy’s wheelchair.” – Krys
“………we have eight out of the reported 10 cats safe and secure in the holding pen that
could not be possible without TASP….thank you so very much….” – Tracy
“Thank you once again for your generous offer to contribute towards Moonbeam’s veterinary care and for the incredible work that T.A.S.P. does in helping so many animals and their human companions.” – Debra
“Thank you so much for your ……… assistance towards Marley’s surgical bill. Her owner, Helen and our staff are grateful for your help. Marley is doing well. Thank you…. ” – Brenda
Hello! Glad to know you’ve clicked open another TASP e-newsletter. We are very grateful to you for caring enough about animals and people to pay attention to these newsletters. At The Animal Support Project, we are convinced that what we’re doing, supporting animals and their owners through tough times, is truly the missing link in animal welfare; and we’re glad you are either in agreement with us or even just perhaps curious to learn more.
This is the part of the newsletter where I typically write about the good things that happen when neighbors help neighbors solve the problems that break families apart. But this concept wasn’t just my bright idea. It took input from a handful of people who all met by some kind of bizarre coincidence while and immediately after deploying for Hurricane Katrina. That was where we witnessed for ourselves how destructive it can be for people in crisis to lose their companion animal. Back then, few seemed to be addressing that aspect of animal or human welfare. Everyone was in rescue-mode, but either you were an “animal person” rescuing the animals, or you were a uniformed first responder of some sort, rescuing the people. And so, as can be expected, many animals and many humans were disconnected forever from each other, and many animals and humans suffered immensely, even though the best of intentions were truly meant by both sides.
Animal rescue was then and sometimes still is, the removal of a pet from a challenged home where the animal was established, known and loved, and the placement of that animal into another home that has been, in best cases, investigated through an application, an interview/home visit and a few phone calls to references provided by an adopter. In between those two steps, sometimes an animal shelter might be involved. The expectation was and sometimes still is that somehow, it is more humane to do this than to help the pet’s original owner overcome their challenge and keep their pet. The expectation was and sometimes still is that the new home will not encounter any challenges that could cause the animal to be in jeopardy again during its lifetime. But in reality, both scenarios are a gamble.
TASP prefers to place our chips on the original home, as long as there is evidence that conditions can be brought up to a state that is safe and maintainable for the animals and the humans. That means there is a path that can be cleared from crisis to stability, and the owner is committed to working with us to make that journey. We combine our disaster response experience and skills with the funds and supplies provided by like-minded people to bridge the shortcomings in the pet’s home. This way, that animal doesn’t have to experience homelessness and the owner doesn’t have to experience more loss than they already have. After all, a pet is not homeless until it is taken out of the home; either by the owner who has come to believe they have no other choice or by a well-meaning rescuer who is convinced they can find a better place for that pet, given enough time and resources.
When people suffer a loss: death of a spouse, divorce, job loss, eviction, loss of their health/youth, it’s more common than not for them lose their trust and confidence, to feel like a victim, and to want to assume the fetal position in some dark corner. Put in this situation, many will judge themselves losers in the game of life; they wouldn’t need someone from the outside pointing that out for them. Having a loving pet at that moment in time can turn that self-image around and re-inspire a person to get back on their feet and fight the good fight. After all, a pet loves you no matter where you’re sleeping that night; no matter what’s for dinner; no matter who else has abandoned you. They encourage you. They are your cheerleader, your preacher, your mother and your favorite teacher all wrapped into one furry/scaly/feathery package, saying, “You are the most important thing in my world. You have value. You and your opposable thumbs and large brain are going to make everything turn out alright.” Now, should we take that pet away from that person in crisis, confirming the sense of loss and fear that both pet and owner can suffer? Or should we work to stabilize the situation for pet and owner so the two of them can face the world together, overcome their challenges, and maybe even pay it forward down the line?
Some of you probably knew Mitch Valerien, one of the people who helped us start The Animal Support Project. She just passed away on March 15 too young and very unexpectedly. Early on in our organization’s evolution, Mitch was one of the people whose input and elbow grease helped shape this organization into the pet safety-net it is today. Mitch cared about animals, but she also cared deeply for the people who own animals, regardless of their income or their education level, or where they lived or whether or not they were New England Patriots fans. She was devoted to TASP’s mission; she helped define it. Alot of animals are sleeping safely with their beloved families, and a lot of people are sleeping safely with their trust in humanity restored because of Mitch and this organization she helped develop.
The mission of TASP doesn’t die with when one of us dies. It’s already spreading like a virus – a GOOD virus! Today, you can google “Pet safety net,” or “Pet retention program,” and all sorts of websites full of resources come up, including The ASPCA’s Position Statement on Keeping Pets and People Together.
Ten years ago, when TASP started, those kinds of resources and commitments were extremely hard to find, and even now I occasionally have to explain why we do what we do. But it’s the rare occasion now. Mitch’s legacy of caring for animals AND people will continue to flourish and will continue to encourage the partnerships that hold families together. I can’t think of anything that would make Mitch more proud.
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Cropseyville, NY 12052
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- The Animal Support Project