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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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…