Rescued Dogs Train For Koala Conservation

Rescued Dogs Train For Koala Conservation

Bear, a Collie cross Koolie, is a canine with an extra-special talent. He, along with Maya, Baxter and Billie, are all members of a very important program based at the University of the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland, Australia.  Among many other tasks, the team have received special training as Detection Dogs, to track and locate the vanishing koala population.

Koala, Courtesy, Dr. Romane Cristescu

This is such an important effort.  According to recent surveys, koala populations have nosedived more than 80 percent since 1995. People are finding dead koalas throughout New South Wales and Queensland.  Malnourished koalas are found on the road with nowhere to go. What is going on?

According to the World Wildlife Fund, koala habitats are being systematically destroyed by excessive tree clearing.  Also, during brushfires, they’ll climb into the tops of trees, hidden, burned and starving, being found weeks after the flames are gone.  Dr. Jon Hanger, Managing Director and Wildlife Veterinarian from Australia’s Endeavour Veterinary Ecology, says,

“if we don’t act very quickly… we’ll lose 50-90 percent of remaining koalas over a couple of decades.”

Dr. Hanger was the veterinarian for the late Steve Irwin, and is highly respected for his expertise with koalas in particular, being a member of the Koala Crisis Taskforce.

Bear, Courtesy, Meghan Halverson

Bear was first brought into the USC Detection Dogs for Conservation (DDC) program by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, who saw untapped potential in the pup.  He had been relinquished to a shelter by his family because he was too high energy, as well as highly toy-driven.   But these qualities actually make him an excellent candidate for the program! The IFAW, supporting Bear, partnered with the DDC team who trained the canine. Bear passed his exams with flying colors.

Able to detect the scent of koalas with a 96 percent success rate, Bear uses his amazing muzzle to locate an endangered marsupial, who may be living in the path of a logging company en route to tear down the little one’s habitat.  The rescued koala can then be relocated to a safer space.

Maya, Courtesy, Dr. Romane Cristescu

Maya, another Detection Dog graduate, was also found abandoned in a shelter.  Her trainer says she was totally obsessed with balls, but her obsessive behavior made her an excellent candidate for the program.  Maya, who is extremely driven, can sniff out koala feces. Her trainer had previously prodded through undergrowth, searching for signs of poo in areas targeted for construction, knowing if there was poo, there was certain to be a koala. A time consuming process, until Maya joined the hunt.

Courtesy, Dr. Romane Cristescu

Once Maya was trained to search and sniff, locating and then relocating the endangered animals became as important to Maya as it was to her trainer.  And she’s very successful at it.  The four-dog team is always training, honing their skills to help multiple imperiled species. Safe from what was once an uncertain future in a shelter, they’re now helping to save others.

Detection Dogs for Conservation, Courtesy, Dr. Romane Cristescu

Sadly, a recent survey of koalas in the district of Tiaro, Australia, found no sign of the animals. Fifteen years ago there had been numerous sightings.  So you can see how important these dogs are, and how necessary this training program is, if there is any hope to save the koala.

Maya, Courtesy, Marie Colibri

Says researcher Anthony Schultz, “I think that we run the risk of turning around in 10 years and going ‘where are our koalas? Why did nobody tell us about this?”

To learn more, please visit Detection Dogs for Conservation, by clicking here or here.  If you’d like to donate to the program, please click here.

Massachusetts Proposes $100K State Fund To Help Save Homeless Pets

Massachusetts Proposes $100K State Fund To Help Save Homeless Pets

Originally published in!

As you read this, the Massachusetts State Senate is considering a budgetary amendment that would help homeless pets and those belonging to low-income residents.  On April 24, 2017, the MA House voted favorably on Bill H.3601, which included establishing a $100,000 fund to help pay for sterilizing and vaccinating homeless pets as well as the pet cats and dogs of low-income residents.

It is expected that the MA Senate Ways and Means Committee, who are currently examining the Bill, will sign off on this lifesaving measure. Other states, such as New Hampshire and New Jersey, saw their animal shelter intake decrease between 25-34%, once they allocated similar spay/neuter funds.  As a bonus, with an estimated 20 fewer pets arriving at local shelters each day, whether owner-turn-in or strays, shelters in these states reported a 39% increase in adoptions!

As intake decreases, states with adequately funded programs like this one also report a decrease in the total expenditure needed to feed and shelter their animals.  Every dollar that is initially spent towards helping end the homeless pet problem saved three dollars in shelter costs.  A pro-social program such as this one is obviously economically beneficial as well!

Studies show that the majority of animals entering a shelter are intact, even if the majority of animals in that same community have already been spayed or neutered.  Bills like these are supported by a large number of national animal advocacy groups, because they make perfect sense.

  • Bringing lifesaving services to thousands of cats and dogs,
  • Assisting low-income residents who love their pets and want them to be as happy and healthy as possible,
  • And reducing the burden on overcrowded shelters, are all goals which can and should be accomplished in every state.

Whether a state budgets for this fund, or money is allocated by residents who voluntarily check a donation box on their income tax statement, the bottom line is still the same – saving the life of an animal.  You can look up your legislator here, and urge them to support this bill, which is being discussed this week!

And then enjoy an episode of, including this one with award-winning artist Patrick McDonnell, creator of the popular MUTTS comic strip.  Don’t forget to follow ShelterMeTV on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, for more great stories about animals!




Our Dogs ARE Our Family – National Survey Reveals What We Knew All Along

Our Dogs ARE Our Family – National Survey Reveals What We Knew All Along

Originally published in!

A national survey of 1500 U.S. dog owners, conducted by Google Surveys for, reveals that not only are dogs our best friends, but 94% of pet parents consider their dogs to be family members.

And boy, do we love showing off our furry families on social media.  29% of dog people share more pictures of their canine companions than friends, family or themselves.   And check your cellphone.  You may be among the 65% of dog owners who take more photos of your dog than your friends or significant other!

You know that saying, ‘if my dog doesn’t like you, than neither do I’… well, it really is more than just a saying.  Over 25% of pet parents have brought their pet on a date.  The sniff test is very important!  In fact, 54% of dog moms and dads would consider ending a relationship if they thought their dog didn’t like their partner.

Do you worry about your dog when you’re not home?  You’re in good company.  86% of dog owners share your concerns.  And to make sure they don’t get lonely, 88% of owners leave on the TV for their dog or have gotten them a companion pet!  This writer and pet mom admits to doing exactly that…

Having a pet has also been proven to lower stress levels, increase physical activity and put a smile on your face – 56% of dog people say hello to their dog FIRST when they come home!

Want to check out more fun facts that reveal the truth about dog people? Click here!  And cat lovers, here’s something we’ve unearthed.  A 2014 study shows cat people are smarter than dog people…..

So why not share some time with your pet, curl up on the couch and tune in to an episode of like this one, about the joy of fostering!

Teen’s Eagle Scout Project Helps Orlando Shelter Pets

Teen’s Eagle Scout Project Helps Orlando Shelter Pets

Originally published in

An important part of Scouting is giving back to their community.  Meet Fabian Velasquez, a 16-year-old Boy Scout in Central Florida, who has chosen to give it up for local animals!

Banjo, adoptable at PAGO!

For his Eagle Scout project, Fabian has chosen to renovate and refurbish parts of the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando’s animal shelter.   When the redo is complete, the shelter will have two renovated play yards, with new paint on the floors and benches, new shelving and storage containers and new treat dispensers. 40 kennels will also have better kennel latches.  All to make life better for shelter pets like Brussels, above!

Fabian knew, in order to reach his goal, that he would have to reach out to the community for assistance.   He launched a small gofundme, and in less than a month is half-way to his goal.  He’s also planned a benefit dinner for May 13, inviting local vendors to participate at the location in Winter Garden, Florida, and is hoping that the balance of his fundraiser will come from attendees to this reasonably-priced event.

Dahlia, adoptable at PAGO!

In order to earn an Eagle Scout rank, all Scouts must complete their chosen project without adult interference, and before their 18th birthday. Though he could not be reached for comment, we’re sure that Fabian is standing by the Scout Oath “…to help other people at all times,” and, in choosing to extend that oath to encompass man’s best friends, earns him two paws up from!

Cassie, adoptable at PAGO!

You can find out more about the event by clicking here!  And here is a link to all of PAGO’s current residents, some of whom are pictured here.  Please stop by their Orlando location at 2727 Conroy Road, or call 407-351-7722.  Or visit their Sanford location at 2800 County Home Road, or call (407) 323-8685.  Adopt, don’t shop!

Last Dog Left In MI Shelter Scores Great New Home

Last Dog Left In MI Shelter Scores Great New Home

You may have read and worried about Eastwood in Shelter; he was the only dog left at the Little Traverse Bay Humane Society after their “Empty The Shelters” event a few weeks ago.

Well, we’re happy to tell you that Eastwood has a new home, and you might recognize their name.  It’s Stan Van Gundy, Coach of the Detroit Pistons – and he’s already fitting right in with the rest of their two-and-four-footed family!  Check out the meet-n-greet video on the shelter’s website!

After the shelter told their followers about the plight of one-year-old Eastwood, who had been abandoned, had a deformity in his leg and some vision problems, they were flooded with applications for the mixed breed.

Coach Van Gundy believes it was destiny that lead their family to find out about Eastwood.

“We had just lost a 14-year-old dog… had just passed away in March so my wife Kim thought it was basically destiny.” 

Eastwood and his new family!

Eastwood will share his new home with one dog and six cat siblings.  The Van Gundy’s live on a lake so he’ll also get a chance to swim and go out on the boat with his new family.  And he’ll be furever loved.

Says the Coach, “There’s fantastic animals at every shelter – everywhere. And that’s where people should be going out and looking for pets.”  Van Gundy shoots… and scores!

World’s Last Male Northern White Rhino Gets Help From Tinder App

World’s Last Male Northern White Rhino Gets Help From Tinder App

You’re probably saying, ‘did I just read that right?’ Yes, it’s true.  The Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya has taken on a daunting task  – halting the complete extinction of a species… the Northern white rhino.

Currently, a pair of females and one male, named Sudan, live at the conservancy, but they are unable to breed naturally for a number of reasons, including Sudan‘s age.  He’s a mature 43 years old.   So, in a joint-fundraising effort, the conservancy teamed up with Tinder, whose reach extends into 190 countries, If the program succeeds, they hope to utilize in-vitro fertilization and save the Northern white rhino from disappearing… forever.

The joint campaign is called “The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World“, and the conservancy hopes to raise $9 million from Tinder users and others, for research into breeding methods, and save the species.

Sudan, whose profile states, “I perform well under pressure,” is looking for love in many places.  His bio reads,

“I don’t mean to be too forward, but the fate of the species literally depends on me.”

States Richard Vigne, CEO of Ol Pejeta Conservancy,

“The plight that currently faces the Northern white rhinos is a signal to the impact that humankind is having on many thousands of other species across the planet.”

Square-lipped rhino, Courtesy, Save The Rhino

Even in the face of the complete decimation of this species, and many others, hunting safaris in countries such as South Africa continue to flourish. These hunts may be in the wild, or on ranches held by private owners.  This week, a court in South Africa lifted the ban on the sale of rhino horn in the domestic market; the ban on international sales still remains in force.

Recently, a five-year-old white rhino named Vince, living in a French zoo, had his horn hacked off by an intruder and was killed.  This lead to other zoos cutting the horns off their rhinos to keep them safe.

White Rhino on Ol Jogi Ranch, Courtesy, Save The Rhino

Scientists are optimistic that their in-vitro conservation technique will be successful, and have been working on the process for two years. Others believe the death of the species is only a matter of time. To learn more about rhinos, please go to Save The Rhino, or click here. If you’d like to support the campaign to save the species, one of the oldest land mammals in the world, please click here. Because they’re racing against the clock and once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Please enjoy the photos of these Southern white

A crash of white rhinos, Courtesy, Save The Rhino

rhinos, courtesy of Save The Rhino, who were brought back from extinction. And check out this episode of Shelter Me, to learn about how dogs are utilized to do lifesaving conservation work in Africa.  And subscribe here for more stories about animal issues.

N.J. Is One Signature Away From Banning Puppy Mills

N.J. Is One Signature Away From Banning Puppy Mills

It’s a day that has been in the works for over a year, and New Jersey residents are hoping that Governor Chris Christie will put his signature on S3041, the bill that will ban puppy and kitten mills from operating in that state.

Senator Raymond Lesniak (D) announced on Thursday that the Senate and General Assembly of NJ overwhelmingly approved the bill, which establishes new requirements for pet dealers and pet shops.

According to Senator Lesniak, advocates should expect Governor Christie’s decision in 45 days or less.  In the Facebook video posted on his page, the Senator tells his constituents,

If Governor Christie doesn’t sign this ban on puppy mills we’ll override his veto.”

Though the Pet Protection Act of 2015, which is what the new bill amends, was meant to attack the problem of pet stores selling sick animals, and protect buyers as well, survivors of kitten and puppy mills were still being sold in stores. Consumers were still reporting purchasing animals who seemed healthy, but shortly became ill, a typical problem seen in mill animals.

The new bill states,  “often, a consumer has not seen the conditions in which the cat or dog was born and raised, and the health and behavioral issues caused by these conditions may not present themselves until sometime after the purchase of the cat or dog; and that these health and behavioral issues can impose exorbitant financial and emotional costs on the consumer purchasing the cat or dog.”

The new regulations will still allow consumers to purchase or adopt a cat or dog directly from a breed-specific animal rescue organization or a shelter or pound, or from a breeder that meets basic standards of animal welfare, such as those laid out in the bill.


If you’d like to contact Governor Christie to ask him to please sign bill S3401, here’s the link! You can also call his office at 609-292-6000.  To read more about the bill, which can easily be adopted in every state – and SHOULD beclick here.

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