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On Pit Bull ‘Attacks,’ Naughty Cats and Other Topics

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The longer I live, the more I hate people.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

OK, that’s not entirely accurate. Let’s just say the longer I live, the less tolerance I have for human stupidity. And considering I that I never had much tolerance for that in the first place, that’s saying a lot.

So you’re probably wondering what triggered this little rant. Well, a few things to be honest. The first is a news story about a pit bull that recently “attacked” someone on a New York City subway. I put the word “attacked” in quotation marks because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. From what I can gather from the news accounts (which I would never rely upon to draw a conclusion) the owner claims the dog was provoked. Others dispute that. Authorities say the dog is a known menace.

Based on limited information, all I know is this: Something triggered that animal. Perhaps (and I stress perhaps) the person who got bitten did deliberately or inadvertently provoke the dog. Or perhaps the dog was simply stressed by being in a crowded, claustrophobic, noisy environment. Perhaps it was scared, or overstimulated by being in that subway car. I mean, let’s be honest. Riding the New York City subway is stressful for a human. Imagine how overwhelming it must be for any animal.

No, I am not making excuses. Frankly, I think the whole entire situation is inexcusable. I don’t care if it really is a “service animal” (which is another topic for another blog). That dog should never have been put in that situation. Ever. Period. End. Of. Story.

Allowing that to happen  was clearly a recipe for disaster. It was irresponsible. And it was sad. It was sad because that owner should have known better — and if he didn’t he never should have been allowed to have the dog in the first place. It was sad because human stupidity may very well cost that dog its life.

Bad cat, or stupid people?

But that’s not all that’s bugging me. I’m also annoyed about a recent Facebook conversation with one of my cousins. To sum it up, she made a post about the action she planned to take against a neighbor’s cat that had used her garden as its personal latrine. I believe she mentioned the use of a  “super-soaker”  at least once.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand why she’s upset — especially since she has young children and there is clearly a double-standard regarding dogs and cats in her community. However, the point I made when I joined the discussion is that the cat is just being a cat. I seriously doubt that it has any malicious intent. That being stated, I as I also told my cousin, the owners are being irresponsible idiots by letting the cat run around unsupervised. In other words, don’t blame the animal. Blame the people.

As pet owners or pet “parents,” we are responsible for our animals. As long as they are in our lives, we are responsible for all aspects their health and well-being. We’re responsible for keeping them out of trouble… and like it or not, we’re responsible for their behavior. After all, we’re the ones with the consciences, and ability to reason. Allegedly.

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I would take a bullet for my cat — and I am not alone

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Hi everyone! Yes it is really me. And yes, I know it has been ages since I’ve done a post. In fact I think it’s been about six months.

The reason I’ve been away so long is because business is booming. I’ve been so busy blogging (and doing other assignments) for clients that I haven’t had time to concentrate on my own blog. I know, I know. It’s no excuse… but it’s true.

At any rate, the good news is I’ve been hoarding blog fodder, so finding a topic for today’s post was actually a cinch. My inspiration came from this article about the bond that people have with their pets, and the lengths they’ll go to for their furry friends. It turns out that some people will literally risk their own lives in order to save their dogs and cats. Some have even died while doing so.

The article gives several recent examples of people who perished while trying to save their pets from devastating injury or certain death. It also provides a lengthy explanation about why we are so attached to our canine and feline companions.

Nevertheless, to people who don’t have pets or don’t like animals, it is inexplicable. To them, a person’s life is way more valuable than a dog’s or cat’s. To them, dogs and cats and other pets, are well — “just animals.”

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

To me, that is sad. In fact, I think it’s very sad — because frankly I would take a bullet for my cat. I would throw myself in front of a car for him. I’d fend off a coyote or a dog for him. I’d run back into my house if it were on fire, and I’d never leave him to fend for himself in a storm. And have no doubt about it —  I would beat the hell out of anyone who even thought about hurting him.

Yes, I love him. I love him fiercely — as fiercely as I have ever loved anyone. Perhaps it’s because he was abused before I got him. Perhaps it’s because, as long as he’s with me, he counts on me for everything — for food, for shelter, for medical care, for companionship and for protection. Perhaps it’s because of what he gives me in return — companionship, friendship, love, comfort. Perhaps it’s because I can’t imagine a day at work without him curled up nearby or an evening at home without him curled up on my lap. Perhaps it’s because he knows how to make me laugh, or how to cheer me up. Perhaps it’s because he’s quick to forgive me when I’m angry. Or perhaps it’s because he’s so damned smart… and so damned cute.

At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter why I feel the way I do. All you need to know is that I’ll do whatever it takes to protect my cat. And I am not alone.

Putting things in perspective

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Sorry it’s been awhile. I’ve been so busy trying to get ready for a vacation that I’m not even going to take that I’ve hardly had time to breathe, much less think about keeping up with my blog.

Take yesterday, for example. On top of trying to meet an impossible –albeit self-imposed — work-related deadline,  long laundry list of things to do. Literally.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

So I grabbed some money, two full bags of dirty clothes, detergent, and trundled everything across the street to the neighborhood laundromat. Inside, I loaded my favorite washing machine and then got some quarters from the only functioning change dispenser.

Back at the washing machine, I began dropping quarters into the slot one by one. Clink, clink, clink, clink… I didn’t think much of it when one failed to register, and deposited another one. But that one got stuck, too. Slightly aggravated, I pushed the coin return button. And… nothing happened.

Then I got that sinking feeling. You know, the one you get when you’ve dumped a whole bunch of coins into a vending machine and it either gets stuck or the item you want doesn’t pop out. Then I got really mad. I could see the quarters — I just couldn’t reach them. And I didn’t have anything with me that I could use to dislodge them.

So before I went back home, I asked if anyone in the laundromat had car keys or a paperclip that I could borrow. One of the guys asked what was going on and offered to help. As it turned out, it was a good thing he was there, because he had just what I needed, a utility knife with a long, thin blade. Working quickly, he easily freed the quarters, and then waited while I inserted a different quarter.

For some strange reason, the rest of the quarters registered with no trouble, averting any additional drama. I thanked the man for his help and we went our separate ways.

And that was that. A random, yet ordinary encounter between two strangers on an ordinary day. One needed help. The other was willing and able to provide it.

Oh, I almost forgot. The guy who helped me is black.

Just something to think about the next time you hear a news report about racism and hatred in America. After you’ve given that some thought, ask yourself why the media is promoting that narrative. Who stands to gain from it? And who stands to lose?

That is what is known as critical thought. And that will go a long way towards healing this country.

California’s anti-puppy mill legislation goes to governor

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It all boils down to supply and demand. By passing A.B. 485, California lawmakers have demanded that puppy mills and similar operations no longer supply pet shops with companion animals.

Specifically the  legislation currently awaiting Gov. Gerry Brown’s signature takes aim at the unscrupulous breeders by ensuring that the pet stores can only acquire dogs, cats and rabbits from animal rescue groups, shelters and similar organizations.

A dog available for adoption at Adopt-a-Dog. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

As reported by Newsweek, “The purpose of the bill is to encourage pet stores to move into the rescue business and to reduce the number of animals killed at shelters due to lack of space.”

According to the ASPCA:

  • Approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.3 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats.
  • Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats).
  • Approximately 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.6 million dogs and 1.6 million cats).

Data provided by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) indicates that most people who have cats got them from shelters, friends or family, while most people who have dogs got them from breeders or shelters.

Many pet stores are already providing another option for people seeking companion animals. As Newsweek reported, “Some pet stores, including PetCo and Petfood Express, have already moved away from selling cats, dogs, and rabbits bred for profit and instead donate space to rescues and host adoption events.” According to its website, PetSmart is also on board.

“At PetSmart, we never sell dogs or cats. Together with PetSmart Charities, we help save over 1,300 pets every day through adoption,” the company says. In all, PetSmart claims it has saved more than 7.6 million animals through its adoption program.

Of course, there are always two sides to every story. And apparently, the AKC is not a fan of A.B. 485.

“AB 485’s proponents misleadingly claim that the bill will promote the purchasing of purebred dogs from local breeders. That claim, however, fails to shed light on the fact that many local anti-breeding laws and breeding restrictions, also supported by these groups, have already eliminated hobby breeding and now make obtaining a specific type of dog bred by a local breeder increasingly difficult,” the AKC says.

However, A.B. 485 does not ban Californians from getting purebred pets if they so choose. It simply bans them from doing so through pet stores. If the bill becomes law, they would still be able to get companion animals by contacting private breeders directly.

What do you think? Is this a good idea? Or will it do more harm than good? Let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below.

As seen at the 30th annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival

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As the old saying goes, sometimes a picture is worth 1,000 words. So without further ado, here are some of my favorite photos from the 30th annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival. Enjoy!

Great Dane wins Best Lap Dog contest at Puttin' on the Dog.
Best Lap Dog winner. Puttin’ on the Dog. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Furr-911 rescues Hurricane Harvey kittens.
Hurricane Harvey kittens make an appearance at Puttin’ on the Dog festival, courtesy of FURR-911. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Owner and dog get a helping hand on the agility course.
Balancing act. Action in the agility ring at Puttin’ on the Dog. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Runner-up in one of the contests at the 30th annual Puttin' on the Dog festival.
Second place? What do you mean I got second place? The indignity of it all. Puttin’ on the Dog, Greenwich CT. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Adopt-a-Dog volunteer with her charge at Puttin' on the Dog.
Take me home! A senior dog steals the show in the first parade at the Puttin’ on the Dog festival. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

 

Nap time! Hurricane Harvey kittens take a break at the 30th annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Why I would never abandon my cat in a natural disaster

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It’s absolutely heartbreaking. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, social media sites have been saturated with news and photos about the dogs, cats, horses and other animals left to fend for themselves when their owners fled.

There have been harrowing tales of heroic rescues from rising flood waters. But there have also been heartwarming tales about all of the animal welfare groups working to reunite these animals with their families, or trying to find new homes for the pets that have been displaced.

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat.

As an animal lover and pet owner, I have mixed feelings about all of this. On the one hand, it makes me furious. From a purely emotional standpoint, I find myself wondering how anyone could abandon their pet in such horrible circumstances. As a reporter who has covered my share of natural disasters and the aftermath — I know a little bit of pre-planning could save a lot of heartache in the long run.

On the other hand, I find myself trying not to rush to judgment. After all, an argument could be made that no one really knows how they would react when confronted by a storm the magnitude of Harvey or Irma. It is easy to be an armchair quarterback from the warmth and safety of your house.

All of that being said, I didn’t leave Eli during Superstorm Sandy. And I would never leave my cat to fend for himself in a storm. Ever.

My reason for this is simple. As a person, I have the ability to make certain choices; ride out a big storm at home or seek shelter elsewhere, listen to the official weather advisories or ignore them, plan in advance, or take my chances. So to a certain extent, I have some control over what happens to me — even in the worst of circumstances. Eli doesn’t have that luxury. He is entirely dependent on me to take care of him and keep him safe. No matter what. He is my responsibility.

Yes, I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I will keep saying it until people not only listen, but act accordingly. As pet owners, we are responsible for what happens to our dogs, cats, horses, snakes,  gerbils, ferrets, birds… Our companions are not disposable. They are living, breathing beings with specific physical and emotional needs.

Can they adapt? Of Course. Can they survive without us? Yes. Should we put them in a position where they’re forced to do so? Absolutely, positively not.

That being stated, I’m keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Jose. And from what I’ve seen, if you live anywhere in the northeast, I suggest you do the same.

It’s time for the annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival

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Whatever you do, don’t try to get a hold of me on Sunday. I’ll be busy. All day. And by the time I get home, I’ll be dog tired (literally), hot and bothered. But I’ll also be happy.

Cute Kitten, courtesy of FURRR 911. Photo by A. Bogdanovic
Bolt, a kitten rescued by FURRR 911, at Puttin’ On The Dog & Cats, Too 2016. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

On Sunday, I’ll spend the entire day shooting the 30th annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival, which will be held at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, CT. Hosted by Adopt-a-Dog, the event is billed as the biggest of its kind between New York and Boston and benefits several local animal rescue and welfare groups.

In addition to raising money and awareness for worthy causes, the festival gives animal lovers a chance to meet some of the dogs and cats that are available for adoption. It also gives dogs and their people a chance to show off by participating in various contests.

You can learn more about the fun and games here.

This will be the fifth straight year I’ve volunteered at the event. And personally, I’m looking forward to hanging out in the cat pavilion, photographing the action in the demonstration rings and on stage, and checking out the silent auction.

On that note, I’d better run. Hopefully I’ll see you on Sunday. If not, don’t call me. I’ll call you!

Why Americans ‘dwell’ on Nine-Eleven

A few days ago, I was scanning through some Facebook posts when I came across a question that made my blood boil: “Why do Americans dwell on 9/11?”

Nine-Eleven memorial. Cos Cob Park, Cos Cob, CT.
Sunlight behind the 9/11 Memorial at Cos Cob Park, Cos Cob, CT. June 2017. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

I wasn’t sure whether it was posted out of ignorance, malice, or both. I started to reply — and then I realized I wasn’t sure what to say. Now, as I watch and listen to the annual reading of the victims’ names at Ground Zero — as I do every year — I will try to explain.

Of course, I can’t speak for all Americans. I can only speak for myself. So I will start by saying that as someone with family that has survived recent wars, I am well aware that there are places in the world where events the magnitude of Nine-Eleven, and worse, happen every single day. Given that, I can see why some people can’t understand — and some may even resent — America’s preoccupation with the terrorist attacks on our country on September 11, 2001.

That being stated, here’s why I will never forget that day, or the days, weeks, months and years that followed. I will never forget it because I was living and working in the New York City suburbs on that fateful day. Like millions of Americans, I witnessed the horror and devastation on TV as it unfolded. Watched in horror as the planes struck and  bodies fell from the wreckage of the Twin Towers less than 30 miles from home. Screamed as the buildings collapsed, another hijacked plane hit the Pentagon and the heroes of United Airlines Flight 93 paid the ultimate price for averting further devastation. Wept as the world changed.

As seen at the 9/11 Memorial. New York, NY. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

I will never forget it because I was a reporter tasked with writing about the aftermath of the terrorist attacks and their effects in the small, tight-knit community of Rye, N.Y. There were so many stories of close calls and tremendous loss. There so much sadness. So much grief. So much anger.  There were so many tales of heroism. And there were tales of resolve.

In the face of tremendous adversity, we were united. On that day, and in the weeks that followed, all lives mattered. There was no black versus white. There was no left versus right. We were all Americans. We helped those in need regardless of their race, religion, gender or political ideology. We stood as one.

Today I grieve for strangers. I also grieve for friends who were directly affected by the tragic events that transpired 16 years ago. I grieve for my country — a country ravaged by divisiveness and hate.

On September 11, 2001, and every year since, we have sounded the rallying cry, “Never forget.”

I am afraid we already have.

Happy (belated) International Cat Day

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For those of you who missed it, yesterday was International Cat Day — also known as World Cat Day.

So on behalf of Eli and In Brief Legal Writing Services, Happy (belated) International Cat Day, everyone! I hope that you and your cats enjoyed it!

Charles Dickens quotation about cats.
Famous quotation about cats. Photo by Alexandra Boganovic

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to celebrate, have no fear. There’s always next year. And for those of you who didn’t know about it, here’s some background information about this special day dedicated to the coolest cats on the face of the planet.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare created International Cat Day in 2002. Since then, it has been observed as a way to honor our “feline friends” and “advocate for cats.” Specifically, it is an opportunity to:

  • Adopt a cat from a local shelter or rescue group
  • Visit a cat cafe
  • Donate to a charity that focuses on cats

Of course, it’s important to make donations to pet-focused charities whenever we can. And of course it’s always better to adopt a companion animal than to buy one. It also goes without saying that our pets should be spayed and neutered.

After all, the stark reality is that there are millions of abused, neglected and unwanted dogs and cats in the United States of America alone. According to the ASPCA:

  • Approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.3 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats.
  • Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats).

On the other hand, there is good news, too. The ASPCA also estimates that 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.6 million dogs and 1.6 million cats).

That’s  a small step in the right direction. But there’s still along way to go.


Upcoming “holidays” devoted to pets:

  • National Dog Day — August 26, 2017
  • National Black Cat Appreciation Day — August 17, 2017
  • National Feral Cat Day — October 16, 2017
  • National Cat Day (U.S.) — October 29, 2017
  • National Black Cat Day — November 17, 2017

Newsflash: pets are not disposable!

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I have got to stay off of Facebook.

For one thing, it can be really depressing. And for another, it is definitely not good for my blood pressure.

Last week alone, I saw at least three different posts that made my blood boil. And I’m not even talking about the political posts. I’m talking about the posts about animal cruelty and neglect. I’m talking about the posts that clearly demonstrate that some people simply should not have pets.

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

By far the most disturbing of these was a post shared by a former friend. I stress “former” because I told him off as soon as I saw it. And then I “unfriended” him — on Facebook and in “real life.”

So what could possibly be so outrageous? It wasn’t so much the post in which he asked if anyone knew of a local rescue or pound that would take his two cats. It was his reason for giving them away. In the simplest terms, he said he was “done” with indoor animals. That’s it. He just didn’t want them anymore. Period. End of story.

Now, there are plenty of legitimate reasons for people to part with their pets. Illness. Allergies. Moving to another country or to a new apartment or condo that doesn’t allow pets. The inability to continue to pay vet bills or buy food… These are all heartbreaking circumstances… but at least they’re understandable.

But to simply say, “I’m done with animals,” or “I just don’t want them anymore,” is beyond unacceptable. It is irresponsible. And it is cruel.

Sadly, my former friend — whom I now classify as one of the most selfish, self-centered, egotistical, self-absorbed, narcissistic people ever to walk the face of the earth — is not alone.

Just as my outrage about his post was starting to ebb, I saw another post that was equally as outrageous. In this case, some people from Virginia were moving in a couple of weeks and didn’t want to take their 10-year-old dog to their new house. So they were willing to give him away, surrender him, or have him put down. But of course, that didn’t stop them from getting a 1-year-old puppy…

Fortunately, in that case, the little old guy was really cute, and the post generated a lot of responses from people interested in adopting him.

And finally, there was the case of an Australian man jailed for committing some of the most heinous and unspeakable acts against animal that I have ever heard of. Not only did he whip his poor dog, but he fed it sausages laced with broken glass! I kid you not.

As far as I’m concerned, there is a very special place in hell reserved for someone like that. And as far as I’m concerned, he can’t get there soon enough.