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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.

Paws up, don’t shoot!

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These days, much is made about fatal or near-fatal encounters between police officers and civilians — and rightly so. However, there are other stories that don’t get as much publicity. These are the stories about the lethal or near-lethal encounters between police officers and “dangerous” dogs.

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

Most — but not all — of these encounters tend to occur when the officer is on or approaching someone’s property.  Sadly, these stories usually end badly — for the dogs.

For example, as reported by Red Alert Politics, a Minnesota police officer recently shot two family pets, both of which are also emotional support animals.  The officer allegedly shot one of the dogs, a Staffordshire terrier, in the face, causing serious injuries.

“Jennifer LeMay, the dogs’ owner, released security footage of the shooting. The video shows an officer climbing over a seven-foot tall fence and entering the yard housing two Staffordshire terriers,” according to media accounts.

“The officer backpedaled and drew his gun as Circo ran towards him. The dog stopped about five feet in front of the man, then, wagging his tail, slowly approached the officer.  The officer shot the first dog in the face, which fell and fled, and then shot multiple times at the second dog, Rocko, which briefly ran into the camera footage.”

Police claim the dog “charged” at the officer, prompting the use of force.

LeMay emphatically refutes that claim, however.

“He was wagging his tail,” LeMay said about Ciroc. “My dog wasn’t even moving, lunging toward him or anything.”

“My dogs were doing their job on my property,” she continued. “We have a right to be safe in our yard.”

In a Facebook post following the incident, the Minneapolis police chief called for an investigation and said the department “will be implementing updated mandatory training specifically for officers identifying effective tools and tactical strategies with police and dog encounters.”

Meanwhile, the LeMay family is faced with thousands in veterinary bills stemming from the injuries to both dogs. LeMay is reportedly pursuing legal recourse.

But there is hope. Another article tells another story. In this case, the officer did the right thing.

According to the account, “Oklahoma police officer Storm Barrett responded to a call about two angry pit bulls who were running wild in a busy area of El Reno. Luckily, the former dog handler knew exactly what to do. Instead of trying to use force, Officer Barrett got up onto the hood of his cruiser. He pulled a bystander onto the car with him.”
Concerned that the dogs could harm children at a nearby school, Barrett distracted them until backup arrived.
“Both dogs were captured ten minutes later and returned to their owner – who was given a citation for allowing the dogs to get loose,” the report states.

Small child and snake video: harmless fun or accident in the making?

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To think that we are always in control of any situation involving an animal is the height of human arrogance.

A video making the rounds on social media has prompted quite a debate. Some people think it’s cute. Others think it’s an accident waiting to happen.

The video in question, which has gotten more than 1.4 million views, shows a young child sitting on a sofa with what appears to be some sort of albino boa constrictor or python. As the camera rolls, the little child says “do it,” and the snake appears to “yawn.”

I’ve shared the post on my business page, so you can draw your own conclusions.

Here’s what I think

For what it’s worth, here’s what I’ve said publicly:

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

An objective and realistic assessment of any situation involving a small child and any animal, is that animals can be unpredictable, no matter how well they’ve been looked after and no matter how well “informed” their handlers/owners are. Animals act on instinct, accidents happen, and people (and the animals) get hurt. The only way to minimize the risk is to avoid potentially risky behavior. This is not a condemnation of snakes; the same thing can be said about dogs, cats, horses and other “mainstream” pets. To me a little common sense goes a long way. But that’s just me. We all have choices.

Just because this snake seems docile in this photo does not guarantee that this is “safe,” or that nothing will go wrong. To think that we are always in control of any situation involving an animal is the height of human arrogance.

What I haven’t said publicly (until now) is that it is one thing for adults to take risks. For an adult to put a child at risk is another thing altogether…

What are the odds?

With that in mind, I scoured the Internet in search of pet python and/or boa constrictor-related deaths and injuries in the United States. Here’s what I found.

According to the Humane Society,  incidents involving large “captive constrictors” resulted in 17 deaths in the United States between 1978 and 2012. Most of the fatal encounters (12) happened between 1990 and 2012.

Citing various sources in a 69-page report, the Humane Society summarized dozens of fatal and non-fatal incidents reported in 45 states. Here are just a few.

Fatal encounters…

July 1, 2009/Sumter County, Florida: A 2-year-old girl was killed in her crib by an
8½-foot Burmese python who escaped from an enclosure in her home. Weighing
only 13 pounds, the snake was determined to be severely underweight. The snake
had been purchased seven years earlier at a flea market. The child’s mother and her boyfriend were convicted of third degree murder, manslaughter and child neglect and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

August 22, 2001/Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania: An 8-year-old girl was
strangled by her father’s 11-foot, 26-pound pet Burmese python. The child had
been left home alone, and the snake broke through the top of the cage. Paramedics said she was not breathing when they arrived; she was taken to a hospital and placed on a ventilator until she was pronounced brain-dead two days later. An autopsy showed the cause of death was compression of her neck and chest.

August 29, 1999/Centralia, Illinois: A couple’s 1-year-old, 7½-foot African rock
python escaped from an enclosure and killed their 3-year-old son while he was
sleeping. They had obtained the snake three months earlier.

July 20, 1993/Commerce City, Colorado: A 15-year-old was killed by his brother’s
11½-foot pet Burmese python. He had snake bites on his body, and an autopsy
found he was suffocated. The 8-year-old snake had been a family pet since she was only a foot long.

Non-fatal encounters

August 11, 1997/Anaheim, California: A 10-year-old boy was attacked by his pet 12-
foot, 65-pound African rock python. The python, who was described “as thick as a
man’s thigh,” latched onto the boy’s hand and coiled tightly around his arm as he
was giving him a bowl of water. The boy’s older brother stabbed the snake several
times while waiting for paramedics to arrive. Worried that the snake would break
his arm, paramedics decapitated the snake with a kitchen knife. The boy was
treated at a medical center. One paramedic commented this was the third child he
has rescued “from the suffocating embrace of pythons.”

August 30, 2008/Las Vegas, Nevada: A 13-year-old girl visiting her father was
attacked by a pet Burmese python while she was sleeping in a bed. Responding to
the commotion, her father and uncle were unable to uncoil the snake. They
decapitated the approximately 15-foot snake with a butcher knife to rescue the girl. The teenager was hospitalized overnight with bruised ribs and a swollen abdomen. The snake reportedly escaped from a large tank with locks. The same day, a student zookeeper in Venezuela was crushed to death by a Burmese python.

I rest my case…

And with all of that being said, I rest my case. But please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below (and in the court of public opinion, of course)…


Source(s): http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/wildlife/captive/constrictor-snake-attacks.pdf

http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/wildlife/…/captive-constrictor-snake-incidents.pdf

Making a case for the dogs in Connecticut

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Judging by an article I just found, the old saying about the wheels of justice turning slowly doesn’t just apply to people. It applies to animals as well.

In Connecticut, it specifically applies to “dangerous” dogs that are  “accused” of committing certain “crimes.” And as far as I am concerned, that’s just not right.

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

You see these dogs — which are often acting on instinct, or training rather than malice — face the ultimate penalty for their alleged actions. Yes, there is a “dog death penalty here.”

Don’t get me wrong. There are some cases in which such a policy is definitely warranted — and many where it isn’t. But that’s not the point.

The point of this particular post is to address a different but related matter; namely the amount of time the state can or should keep a “dangerous” dog in “custody” before it is euthanized.

Currently,  Connecticut “has no standards for determining when an animal should be euthanized, leaving it to the discretion of local animal control officers,” according to attorneys for a Connecticut dog owner whose Rottweilers have been living on what the media calls “a canine death row” for five years.

According to published reports, Kato and Kleo’s owner says they got out of their yard and bit a neighbor “only after they were attacked.” The state then ordered them to be put down.

Lawyers for plaintiffs in a recent federal class action lawsuit are now arguing that the lack of standards in such circumstances is a violation of dog owners’ rights. Specifically, they say it is “a violation of due process and an unreasonable seizure of property.”

I’m not a lawyer — but I happen to agree.

What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

 

The best investment you’ll ever make

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I must admit, I’m a bit preoccupied this morning. I should be working, but I just can’t concentrate.

Eli is out of sorts, too. I can tell because he’s sleeping under my bed. And he only does that when he doesn’t feel well, or he’s upset, or he just doesn’t want to be bothered.

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat. Spring 2017. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Perhaps he’s still miffed about what happened yesterday. On what was arguably one of the most beautiful days of the summer here in Connecticut, he got stuck inside. By himself. All day. And to add insult to injury, no one said goodbye. No one left a fan on for him. And, most importantly, his number one person (yours truly) forgot to clean out his litter box before she left.

Trust me, he found a creative — and frankly disgusting — way to let the sanitation committee (yours truly) know that he was not happy about the latter.

What can I say? He’s a sensitive boy.

If I ever had any doubt about that — which I haven’t — he reminded me on Saturday. I was, once again, voicing my anguish, anger, unhappiness and disgust about our general contractor’s insistence on “boxing in” a set of pipes (that had previously been capped in the attic and were no longer going to be used). By doing so, he completely screwed up the portion of my brand new, open concept living area, where I was dreaming of having a little reading nook. I was also lamenting my mother’s decision to install two small closets and a sewing station there… but that’s another story.

Of course, Eli had no idea why I was so upset. He could just tell that I was unhappy by the tone (and volume) of my voice, and my body language. So he came over to me and offered what little comfort he could, rubbing his head on my leg. Please don’t be sad, he seemed to be saying. It will all be OK.

And in that instant, I relaxed. I actually felt my heart rate and blood pressure drop as I patted Eli and felt the steady thrum of his purr…

And that finally brings me to the point of this post, which was to share an interesting article I just found on marketwatch.com. In it, the author says that in our quest for happiness, spending money on pets is far more rewarding than spending it on material stuff.

Personally, I couldn’t agree more.

How about you? Share your thoughts about your pets and pet ownership in the comments section below.

Who needs a therapist when you’ve got a cat?

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Lately I’ve been so busy that I’ve hardly had time to think, much less keep up with my blog. Between work and ongoing renovations at home, well… busy is a bit of an understatement. At times I’ve been completely overwhelmed.

But there’s a bright side. I haven’t spent a dime on therapy, anti-anxiety pills or any other medicine, for that matter. There’s no need for any of that. I have a cat.

No matter what’s going on, Eli knows how to make me laugh. Last night, he did it by “hunting” the ribbon I was using as a bookmark. This morning, he brightened my day by chasing a little scrap of paper across our new hardwood floors. It turned out his “toy” was a Chinese fortune that said: “When you begin to coast, you are on the downgrade.”

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

Go figure…

When he’s not entertaining me, Eli’s a great listener. He lets me vent without interrupting. In fact, he doesn’t say a word and he always agrees. Unless I raise my voice. Then he bites me. What can I say? He hates angry voices.

Eli also helps me keep my stress in check at work. He makes sure that I get up to pay attention to him every so often. And once he’s had enough of that, he curls up at my feet to keep me company…

He always knows when I’m upset. He knows when I need space, and when I need comfort — and acts accordingly. He lets me cuddle him when I’m sad, and he doesn’t fuss when my tears soak his fur.

Technically, Eli isn’t an emotional support animal or a certified therapy animal. But he’s definitely my “therapy cat.” And I love him to pieces…

Nine years later… animal intelligence debate still rages

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Earlier this week, my mother handed me an interesting edition of National Geographic — from March 2008.

The cover featured a picture of an adorable black and white border collie and the headline, “Inside Animal Minds: Birds, Apes, Dolphins, and a Dog With a World-Class Vocabulary.”

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

The inside headline was just as intriguing. It said: “Minds of their Own: Animals are smarter than you think.”

According to the article, Uek, a New Caledonian crow, “solves problems and creates and uses tools — once thought the domain solely of primates.” Then there’s Azy, an Orangutan who “shows cognitive complexity and flexibility rivaling that of chimps,” and Shanthi, an Asian elephant who is capable of retaining long memories and “has a sense of self.” Even an unnamed African Cichlid can determine “social rank according to observation,” which is a “step on the way to logical reasoning,” according to the article.

The list goes on.

Edward, a Black Leicester Longwool sheep belongs to a species that can “recognize individual faces and remember them longterm.” JB, a Giant Pacific octopus, and the rest of his kind, have distinct personalities, use tools and recognize individuals.

But according to the article, few wild or domesticated animals can top Betsy. Betsy the Border Collie, who was six at the time, had a staggering vocabulary that totaled 340 words “and counting…”

The debate goes on…

Nine years later, the debate about animal intelligence goes on. And if anything, it has intensified as more and more people view companion animals as family members.

Ask anyone who has a pet about its intelligence you will no doubt be regaled with dozens of anecdotes. After all, people love to brag about their dogs, cats, horses, gerbils, ferrets, birds, rats….

But then again, there are those people who don’t like animals, don’t have pets and scoff at the mere mention of “animal intelligence.” Of course, these people also think that they’re the “smartest people in the room.” To them, there is simply no comparison to human intelligence… or human superiority for that matter.

That’s their opinion — and of course, they’re entitled to it.

Personally, I disagree. And as far as I’m concerned, there’s no end to human stupidity…

Eli says: take a breath, America

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Eli hates it when I’m angry.

He doesn’t even like it when I raise my voice.

There’s no doubt about it.

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

He makes his feelings on the subject perfectly clear.

If I raise my voice for any reason, but especially in anger, he bites me. Repeatedly.

I don’t know why he does that, but I think it probably has a lot to do with the abuse he took before I adopted him. Or perhaps it was the violence that he witnessed…

At any rate, he has very sharp teeth, so it gets my attention. Believe me.

So perhaps I should turn him loose on the rest of the country. He could just go around biting anyone who’s yelling about something, or yelling at someone else, for that matter.

It would get their attention. Believe me.

On second thought…

But then again, that’s a huge responsibility for huge responsibility for one cat.

I mean, let’s be honest. It seems like everyone in America is angry about something these days. It seems like everyone is yelling. People are yelling on TV. People are yelling on radio talk shows. People are yelling on social media. People are yelling about politics, politicians, and anything remotely political.

And there’s only so much Eli could do. It would take him a long time to bite everyone.

So maybe it’s time to take a collective breath, America. And maybe it’s time to take a take a good, hard look at ourselves, our behavior and the way we treat others. Maybe it’s time to take responsibility for our actions, and our words. Because that old line about “sticks and stones” is a myth.

Words are incredibly powerful. Especially when everyone is screaming invective at the top of their lungs.

Some unsolicited advice…

For what it’s worth, here’s how I keep my temper in check online and elsewhere.

  1. If I’ve got to vent I do it in private.
  2. I repeat the following until I am calm enough to have a rational, civilized discussion: I am an adult. I am in charge of my feelings. No one has the power to make me feel anything. Only I can decide how I react.
  3. If I see an offensive comment online, I count to 10 before I decide whether to engage, and how to engage with the person who made the offensive comment.
  4. l remind myself to respect everyone’s right to their opinions, even if I don’t agree.
  5. If all else fails, I take a deep breath and count to 10, and remember what my mother taught me at a very young age: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all…

Connecticut gets it right with animal advocacy law

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I don’t care if people are leaving Connecticut in droves. I love it here.

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

I mean honestly, what’s not to love? I’ve got Long Island Sound as a summertime playground. The greatest city in the world is just a short train ride away. If I want to go to the world’s coolest flea markets, they’re just a short car ride away. The possibilities are endless…

Having said all of that, I can’t honestly say I’m always proud of living here. The state economy is a disaster. State leadership under Gov. Dannel Malloy is a joke. The cost of living is obscene. The traffic is a nightmare. The infrastructure is crumbling.

Without going into too much detail, locally things aren’t much better.

Giving credit where it’s due

But I’ve got to give Connecticut lawmakers credit for one thing… and only one thing. They definitely got it right when they came up with a bill that allows advocates with an interest and/or expertise in animal law to provide courtroom assistance in animal cruelty and neglect cases. I also applaud for Malloy for having the courage to sign it into law.

As those of you who follow this blog faithfully know, I’ve been following developments and blogging about this particular law for some time. But because it is the first of its kind in the United States, “Desmond’s Law” is now attracting national attention.

Here’s where you can learn more:

Silencing the critics

Of course there are more than a few people who don’t like or don’t care about animals. And they probably don’t think this is a good idea. I am sure they think that, at a time when criminal courts are already overburdened, humans should come first.

Well’s here’s what I have to say about that. There is clear evidence that people who are prone to hurting animals are also prone towards engaging in violence against people. So anything that can be done to stop people from hurting animals, and ensuring that they’re punished to the fullest extent of the law when they do is fine with me.

Just saying…