Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What If Michael Vick Was a Veterinarian

What if Michael Vick was a DVM? It is a scary thought, but the reality is apparent here in the Live Free or Die State of New Hampshire. This is a warning for pet lovers about a corrupt scheme that has been discovered at the non-profit All Better Pets - a 501(c)(3) organization that is operating out of the AVC low cost emergency veterinary clinics in Manchester and Concord, New Hampshire.

We are posting this SCAM ALERT to keep you and your pets safe from harm. Trust me when I tell you that your pet would be better off dead than placed for adoption with All Better Pets. Don't support this scam in any way. If you are a rescue or a pet owner, stay as far away as possible from the place. If you have donated money here, ask the Charitable Trusts Division of the Attorney General's Office to investigate what happened to your money. The board members of this non-profit are the clinic owner, her husband and three employees. That information alone should raise eyebrows, but the finances behind it all are even more frightening.

All comments are welcome and will be allowed on this post as soon as they are cleared for SPAM filtering. Do not let another pet lose its life to this scam. This is not an animal shelter. It is a corrupt scheme that subsidizes a veterinarian who steals pets from people who are financially struggling. They are asked to surrender their pets for a mandatory donation of $240 made payable to AVCNH. If their pets survive lifesaving emergency treatment then they are adopted out to a new owner through the All Better Pets non-profit for $500-$700. What a scam! Comments and questions are also welcome to me directly at

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Help Legitimate Licensed Animal Rescues Continue Operations in NH

In order to help, you need to contact your State Senator today via email. Here is a list of Senators, so you can find out who represents you. Send him or her an email that states the following:

Are you aware that the State Veterinarian has adopted rules that need clarification from the legislature with respect to foster facilities and occasional operations? The result of these new rules now allow people to sell puppies from Walmart parking lots without a license and force licensed rescues to cease operations. I am concerned about the threat posed to public health and animal welfare.

If you prefer, you may send them a link to this post. Thank you!

You may also want to share this very important rescue organization public notice with them as well.

Public Notice of Rescue Organizations Intent to Save Homeless Dogs:

I just got off the phone with my girl Rhonda in Virginia. It turns out she is a mutual friend of my girl Lisa in the neighboring county who fostered Scilly before she got on the transport truck and headed my way to New Hampshire. It seems Rhonda needs some money to help her clean up homeless dogs before they get adopted. I told her I would be happy to donate mine and maybe some friends might join me. She is also having a hard time communicating with the boys down at county about why it makes sense to implement an incentive based spay/neuter program and educate people about the importance of vaccinations and overall humane treatment of animals. I told her maybe she and I and the boys could have a little chat over dinner and see if we could exchange ideas and share concerns. Of course, any proposals for changes to the county laws would be publicly noticed and open to the public for comment. I will be heading to West Virginia soon to see first hand what Rhonda is dealing with in her neck of the woods. I am going to ask a filmmaker friend of mine if maybe he would like to join me. I just want to make sure that my travels do not conflict with any public hearings should any of these legislative service requests regarding dogs become bills that are hoping to become laws that will allow people to profit off of the homeless dogs that my friends and I are trying to save on our own time with our own money. I have a lot of friends, and I will bring them all to Concord and none of us will be wearing an orange badge. This is our public notice. Thank you. Please share.

Monday, September 28, 2015

How Can I Foster a Dog with Medical or Behavioral Issues

The look I get when I explain that the State Veterinarian in
New Hampshire will only allow me to foster dogs that have
behavioral or medical issues. Healthy dogs must live in licensed
shelters until they are adopted.
Since fostering healthy, adoptable dogs in the State of New Hampshire is now illegal, I wanted to learn how I could go about opening my home temporarily to a homeless dog in need of medical or behavioral care. I am not a veterinarian, but I do have experience in caring for dogs with special needs. My own dogs, who lived to the ages of 15 and 16, required a lot of attention in the last years of their lives from various medications and supplements to assistance with limited mobility and frequent visits to the veterinarian.

So, I did some research under these new rules that the State Veterinarian feels are needed to protect public health in New Hampshire to see what would be required of me to foster a dog with medical or behavioral problems from a licensed animal shelter in the State of New Hampshire. So, here is my analysis of and reaction to the section governing foster facilities as defined in CHAPTER Agr 1700  TRANSFER OF ANIMALS AND BIRDS

The rules read as follows:

Agr 1704.10  Foster facilities.
               (a)  License holders shall assure that foster facilities at which the license holder keeps animals are inspected no less frequently than once a year and that they meet acceptable standards to ensure that the health and safety of the animals are maintained.
          (b)  Foster facilities shall be used solely for medical or behavioral rehabilitation when a premises already holds a license to house animals. Foster facilities shall not be used as an extension of space for housing the general population of a licensee.
          (c)  Foster facilities may house animals that are owned by the licensee, but foster facilities shall not own such animals. If the department receives a complaint about a foster facility, the department shall inspect that property as part of the license holder’s network and the license holder shall be subject to sanction for any shortcomings which pose a risk to the health and safety of the animals in their network.
               (d)  Licensees shall maintain a list of current foster facilities that shall be available to the department upon request.
               (e)  Brokers shall not use foster facilities.

I am not a lawyer, so the following discussion is not legal advice but rather my own personal viewpoint as a citizen of New Hampshire about how nonsensical these rules are and how they will serve only to increase the number of underground, unregulated transfers of animals that are a threat to the safety of people and animals in the State of New Hampshire. Legislative changes must be made for a reason and the outcome of such changes need to be measureable in order to ensure that we do not have unintended consequences. These rules were made without reference to data that justified the need for them and without a description of how these changes will be measured for effectiveness.

(a) I do not object to having my home inspected by a licensee so that a rescue organization can be assured that my home is safe. Reputable rescue organizations inspect foster homes, and many of them also require a home visit before an animal is placed for adoption with a new family.

(b) I think I should be allowed to open my home to a healthy dog that is simply in need of a place to live temporarily. Why should only dogs with medical or behavioral issues get to reside in a foster home? That does not make any sense whatsoever.

(c) I do not wish to be considered the owner of the foster dog, but I will certainly treat it as well as I would one of my own dogs. However, I am not opening my home up to inspection by the State Veterinarian. If someone wishes to file a complaint about how I am caring for an animal, he or she can call the police and initiate an animal cruelty investigation.

(d) I object to having my personal details disclosed to the State Veterinarian. Again, call the police and file a complaint about suspected animal cruelty. That is why we have animal cruelty officers on police departments. If an animal is being mistreated, you do not need to investigate whether it is owned, stray, fostered or otherwise, call the police and report the facts of the situation that you suspect is cruel or neglectful. Reputable rescue organizations have foster agreements that outline the requirements of foster care and allow the organization to reclaim an animal from a foster facility.

(e) I object to brokers not being able to use foster facilities. There are numerous, well run not for profit rescue organizations that do not have physical shelters based in New Hampshire that should be able to place animals in our state temporarily in foster homes while adopters are located or adoptions are finalized and also to serve as a critical safety net for owner surrendered animals as well as for failed adoptions. Rescues are run by volunteers who most often work full-time jobs and are trying to help animals that would otherwise be killed for space. I do not think these volunteers should be required to open their personal homes up for inspection and licensing as animal shelters when they are placing animals that are fully vaccinated, receive heartworm preventative, and are placed for adoption with health certificates.

I am not opposed to animal shelters, and I have adopted directly from animal shelters in the past. I am also not opposed to responsible breeders, and I support a person's right to purchase and own a purebred dog.

I am absolutely opposed to legislating a situation and making it worse when the proper way to address it is through educating people and making it better! If you agree, please let the State Veterinarian as well as your State Senators and State Representatives know by contacting them directly.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Ask Why is Fostering Healthy Dogs Illegal in New Hampshire

The look I get when I explain that the State Veterinarian in
New Hampshire has made it illegal to foster healthy,
adoptable dogs for rescue groups, so no more hiking.
Earlier this week, I posted a final farewell to my adventures here at Foster Dog Summit because it is now illegal to foster healthy, adoptable dogs for rescue groups in the State of New Hampshire. I asked anyone who wanted to know why this is now law to please send an email along with a photo of your dog to the state veterinarian with the following subject line - "Why is Fostering Healthy, Adoptable Dogs Now Illegal?"

Many of you took the opportunity to do so and for that I am deeply grateful. Thank you for exercising your rights to hold government officials accountable for their actions. A number of people have shared their emails and the responses that they received, if any, and I have quickly discovered that they are all canned replies that do not answer the question, "Why is Fostering Healthy, Adoptable Dogs Now Illegal?" Instead what everyone is receiving in response from the state veterinarian's office reads as follows:

Good morning, (insert name here) -
Thank you very much for your note.
It is not illegal to foster an animal in New Hampshire, but there are certain criteria that need to be met. The title of blog, “Fostering Dogs for Rescues Illegal in New Hampshire”, is incorrect and misleading. Part of the recently passed rule is pertinent here (highlights added), “Foster facilities shall be used solely for medical or behavioral rehabilitation when a premises already holds a license to house animals. Foster facilities shall not be used as an extension of space for housing the general population of a licensee.” For many years, fosters have been considered an extension of a licensed premises.  Note that the blog uses the terms “rescue” and “broker” nearly interchangeably. Brokers are not the same as rescues or shelters. By definition in statute, brokers arrange deals and/or transport animals. They do not have a licensed premises, thus brokers cannot use a foster unless it is a licensed location.
We appreciate your concern and interest.
Steve Crawford
Stephen K. Crawford, DVM
New Hampshire State Veterinarian
25 Capitol Street
Concord, NH 03301
While this is better than no response at all, I suppose, it still does not answer the question, "Why is Fostering Healthy, Adoptable Dogs Now Illegal?" Rather, it merely confirms what is accurately explained in my previous blog post. Essentially, if a dog is healthy, he or she must remain in a cage in a shelter until adopted or afflicted with an illness or a behavioral problem. It is now illegal for healthy, adoptable dogs, like the dozens of canine companions who hiked with me, to reside temporarily in foster homes.

I am not using terms interchangeably or misleading anyone. I resent that accusation made by the state veterinarian, and I reiterate my repeated requests for him to substantiate the need for and quantify the risk of New Hampshire based rescue groups such as Canine Guardians for Life, Inc. being suddenly blindsided by an administrative rule change that has forced these volunteers to cease operations even though they have been licensed by the state and operating legally and effectively for several years. I used the defined term "Broker" accurately in referencing the license held by Canine Guardians for Life, Inc. and its compliance with all of the rules and regulations of the State of New Hampshire. 

If you would like to know why this legislation was changed or would like to share a story about the positive experiences that you have had volunteering with, adopting from or contributing time or money to a rescue group operating in New Hampshire that is negatively impacted by this rule change, it would be extremely beneficial for the State Veterinarian as well as your State Senators and State Representatives to hear about it as well.

The foster dogs and I will miss seeing everyone on the trails. Thank you for your kindness and support over the years. Below is a video of the first two years of our adventures with Foster Dog Summit.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fostering Dogs for Rescues Illegal in New Hampshire - A Sad Farewell to Foster Dog Summit

Scilly hiking on the Coppermine Trail
On Sunday, my dog Scilly and I enjoyed a hike along the Coppermine Trail to Bridal Veil Falls. She is no longer a foster dog, but this time last year, she entered my life as one. Scilly, a border collie mix, was rescued from a hoarding situation in rural West Virginia. After authorities confiscated all of the animals from the hoarder, Scilly was ultimately transferred to a local rescue group and narrowly avoided euthanasia at the nearby high kill animal shelter. Scilly resided for several months in this foster home where she interacted with other dogs, cats and people of all ages. She had the opportunity to recover from severe neglect while waiting for a foster home to become available in New Hampshire where her rescue group had established a solid working relationship with a local non-profit rescue organization.

Roadie's first hike. He much prefers swimming.
Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, I was struggling with how to best add a second dog to my home since I knew that my current dog was rather selective about his canine companions. As a former stray, Roadie's history was unknown, and I wanted to find the perfect fit for him. I took him to a professional trainer for obedience work, and she recommended a smaller sized female dog. I still had to contend with the issue that Roadie needed carefully managed introductions with other dogs and that he may even need to be around another dog for a few days before I could be confident that they would be compatible long term.

I contacted a few local rescue groups to inquire about the type of dog I was looking for and to let me know if they came across one that might be a good fit. If possible, I wanted to take on a foster-to-adopt situation in which I would agree to foster the dog and have the option to adopt her if she proved to be a good fit. If Roadie did not accept the new dog, then I agreed and thankfully had the ability to keep them safely separated from one another until the foster dog could be adopted into a different permanent home.  

Scilly out for a spin
Within a few weeks, an email arrived from a local rescue group with a subject line that read, "Lisa-Marie, meet Priscilla!" And in answer to your question, I am not named after Elvis' daughter, but I am a fan of his music. I considered this amusing coincidence to be a positive sign. Priscilla was vetted and transported to New Hampshire in compliance with state laws and rules governing rescue groups. She was promptly renamed Scilly. She and Roadie needed a few days to adjust to one another but quickly found common ground in their mutual love of chasing squirrels. Scilly enjoys hiking almost as much as she enjoys wave running.

Sadly, this trip report marks the end of a bittersweet journey that I began over four years ago and had hoped to continue well into the future. Unfortunately, opening your home as a temporary residence for healthy, adoptable rescue dogs is now illegal in New Hampshire, so I can no longer hike with them and blog about their adventures on Foster Dog Summit.

My heart dog Bandit on our final hike in 2013
Back in 2011 when I started this blog, my own dogs at that time were ages 13 and 14 and physically unable to accompany me on long hikes. So, I decided to contact a local rescue group and see if any of the dogs residing temporarily in their foster homes would like to join me. I had previously volunteered in a number of animal welfare organizations, including local shelters, as well as temporary shelters put in place to assist the animal victims of natural disasters and puppy mills. Therefore, I was very familiar with the important work that rescue groups do in providing a network of foster homes where homeless animals reside while waiting to be adopted into permanent homes.

When rescue groups are run correctly, adopting from one can be a very positive experience. There is an incredible benefit to being able to adopt a dog that has already resided in a home environment. Many foster homes have other dogs, cats and even small children living there. So, unlike homeless dogs that reside in a shelter environment, questions about how rescue dogs interact with various types of people and animals, as well as whether or not they enjoy activities such as car rides or need training in certain areas, can be determined through real life experiences. Shelters, on the other hand, are often limited to assessing a dog's interactions using strictly adults doing things like reaching into a food bowl with a fake hand on a stick to see if a dog is food aggressive and using a toddler sized doll to determine if it likes children.

In my ideal world, all homeless dogs would be able to temporarily live in a foster home while waiting for their forever home instead of having to reside in a kennel in a shelter.

For several years now, as a result of New Hampshire's community wide effort in addressing the problem of pet overpopulation through education, legislation, and sterilization, shelters and rescue groups throughout the state have been able to import homeless dogs from other parts of the country that have not yet succeeded in replicating our state's success. I have always remained hopeful that as we continued to import homeless dogs, we would ultimately succeed in exporting our strategy for solving the problem elsewhere. As I have travelled around the country or communicated online with anyone involved in animal welfare, I frequently discuss how New Hampshire succeeded and refer them to additional sources of information.

Jack "nothin' but a hound dog" on Mt. Sunapee
When I set out in 2011 to hike with foster dogs, I wanted to be certain that the rescue groups I volunteered with were reputable and law abiding. Unfortunately, there are some people who claim to be rescue groups that do not abide by the rules set forth by the NH Department of Agriculture/Division of Animal Industry regarding the importation of dogs. I wanted to steer clear of any rescue groups who were knowingly or unknowingly violating the rules meant to keep people and animals safe. I am convinced that most of those people just want to help healthy, adoptable dogs escape death and are simply not yet aware of the risks involved and the procedures to be followed that can significantly minimize the spread of disease. I also know that people and their dogs travel into New Hampshire from all over the country and the world without obtaining a health certificate from their veterinarian before entering our state permanently or temporarily. So, we can minimize, but certainly never eliminate, such risks.

Most important of all, I know that if people do not have the opportunity to safely operate a rescue organization, their desire to help animals will find an outlet in an unregulated underground network that could pose a significant health threat to people and animals.

So, my own personal criteria for locating a reputable rescue group required that organizations were operating as follows:

1. Adopting only healthy dogs that had been properly vaccinated, transported and quarantined
2. Had a strong relationship with rescues groups or shelters that were sending dogs from another state
3. Carefully screened adopters and foster homes
4. Would take back and rehome any dog they placed if an adopter could no longer keep it
5. Requires adopters to return an adopted animal to the rescue if they need to rehome it

With the above requirements, I felt confident that I could safely hike with healthy, adoptable dogs that would be placed into good homes and not be later abandoned or surrendered to an animal shelter if the initial placement failed.

Marvin taking in the views from Mt. Welch
I found the ideal rescue group in Canine Guardians for Life, Inc. - a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based out of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Founder and President, Judith Apy, and her fellow volunteers had a stellar reputation and met all of my requirements. We met for lunch. I told her about my plans. I started hiking with foster dogs and blogging about the experiences.

Now, Canine Guardians for Life, Inc. has effectively been put out of its not for profit business even though the organization has never had a complaint filed against it for adopting out sick animals and has not otherwise been found to be in noncompliance with any rules or regulations. Canine Guardians for Life, Inc. operates under a broker's license that is issued by the state, and its operations are overseen by the Division of Animal Industry. The organization relies on foster homes and does not have a physical shelter to house animals that are waiting to be adopted. Foster homes provide temporary shelter for dogs that are waiting to be adopted and also serve as a critical safety net if an adopter is no longer able to keep an animal and needs to return it to the rescue organization. Without a foster home available to reclaim a dog in a failed adoption, the only option an adopter has is to surrender the animal to a shelter.

In addition to importing homeless dogs from out of state, rescue groups frequently assist local families who need to rehome their pets and do not want to surrender the animals to a local shelter. For example, I find it incredibly painful to learn of dogs who are surrendered to an animal shelter because of the death of their owners. The ability for such dogs to be placed in a foster home and rehomed through a rescue organization is very much needed, but sadly no longer an option, in the State of New Hampshire.

The state veterinarian who is in charge of the Division of Animal Industry claims that there have been complaints made to his office about unhealthy dogs entering the state and being adopted out to local families. I have requested statistics from the state veterinarian's office regarding these complaints, but there does not appear to be an official record of these complaints available for public inspection. I also listened to testimony from a recent hearing in the state senate where the state veterinarian did not cite any specific evidence and did not in any way quantify the risk posed by fostering healthy, adoptable dogs for licensed rescue groups.

Canine Guardians for Life, Inc. operates under a broker's license that is issued by the state and its operations are overseen by the Division of Animal Industry. A new administrative rule {Agr 1704.10 (e)} recently adopted by the Department of  Agriculture/Division of Animal Industry specifies that, "Brokers shall not use foster facilities."

Scilly was adopted through Canine Guardians for Life, Inc.
So, let's consider the impact of this rule change if I wanted to adopt my dog Scilly from Canine Guardians for Life, Inc. today. I would have to agree to officially adopt her before her arrival in New Hampshire without having the opportunity to meet her in person and determine if she would indeed be a good fit. If it turned out that she did not get along with my other dog and I had to rehome her for that reason or for any other reason, I would have no choice other than to surrender her to an animal shelter. As a broker, Canine Guardians for Life, Inc. is no longer able to legally use foster homes in the State of New Hampshire, so they could not even take her back into another foster home. My choices now are to adopt sight unseen through a rescue organization or see if any of the local shelters have a healthy, adoptable dog that I want to adopt from a cage. Also, I agreed to return Scilly to Canine Guardians for Life, Inc., if at any time in the future, I can no longer provide a home for her. Should that unfortunate circumstance ever arise, I would not be able to honor my commitment since the organization, through no fault of its own, has effectively been stripped of its ability to pursue its charitable mission of helping homeless dogs.

If you agree with me that this is unfair, I invite you take a virtual hike with Foster Dog Summit. Your own dog can join you for this virtual hike. Send an email to the State Veterinarian along with a photo of your dog and the Subject heading, "Why is Fostering Healthy, Adoptable Dogs Now Illegal?" You can also post a photo on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media site.  Please use hashtags #fosterdogsummit and #nhpolitics so that your posts can be located and shared. The NH Department of Agriculture has a Facebook page and a Twitter account, so you can post there too!

I am going to send and share my dog's photo along with this blog post, and I welcome you to join me.

You do not have to own a rescue dog to take this virtual hike. You can send any dog photo that you wish. If you would also like to share a story about the positive experiences that you have had volunteering with, adopting from or contributing time or money to a rescue group operating in New Hampshire that is impacted by this rule change, it would be extremely beneficial for the State Veterinarian as well as your State Senators and State Representatives to hear about it as well.

The law needs to be changed.

Here are some helpful resources and links to learn more and share.

Learn more about Canine Guardians for Life, Inc. and see some of the hundreds of dogs that have gotten a second chance thanks to their dedicated volunteer efforts.

We do not want to return to a situation where animals are being euthanized for space in the State of New Hampshire. In the early 1990s, nearly 12,000 animals were euthanized each year in New Hampshire shelters. Watch and share - A Community Comes Together to Save Homeless Animals - the New Hampshire Story (2012) -to see how education, legislation and sterilization brought NH to where it is today. 

Fostering dogs should live free not die in New Hampshire!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Starr is Reborn at Round Pond

Starr takes first steps into Round Pond
I know what you are thinking. This is Foster Dog Summit. The first photo on a blog post is almost always what I consider to be the best summit shot that I took of the hike. I always aim to reach a summit, then position the dog as best he or she is capable of sitting or standing against a scenic background, and take as many photos as possible in the hopes that one of several will be "card worthy" so to speak. And since I am a strictly amateur photographer who shoots exclusively with one hand on the camera and the other hand on the leash, those "Wow, what a great photo" moments are not as plentiful as I would like.

So, this photo, like most of the ones I take, is far from perfect. It is not framed correctly - the dog's tail is a bit cut off to the left, and you can see my hiking boot in the far right corner. Sure, I could have photo-shopped out the boot and edited in a bit of the dog's tail from another photo, but this is a reality blog.

At this point in the hike, I was lamenting the fact that I had taken a time consuming wrong turn along the Round Pond Trail. Then, I did not backtrack far enough initially to figure out the wrong turn and wound up not having time to reach the summits of Mts. Klem and Mack. Since I was hiking with Starr, a dog that had lived his entire life of just over four years within the confines of a shelter in rural Mississippi, I had high hopes for his first extended outdoor adventure.

Charlie and Starr hiking the Round Pond Trail
Starr, a 4-year old Labrador retriever mix, was just rescued from the shelter less than two weeks ago. He has obviously been well taken care of physically by the shelter staff, but most of the world outside of cages and concrete is wholly unfamiliar to him. That did not stop Starr from thoroughly wagging his tail and enjoying the company of his human and canine hiking companions. My friend Karen and her adopted dog Charlie joined us for the lengthy stroll around the Round Pond Trail.

Starr was so affectionate that it was difficult to photograph him. He kept trying to lick my hand, so I could not get far enough away to take his photo when we stopped along the trail.

Starr's feet are dry thanks to Girl Scout Troop 10304
in Gilford who constructed Bog Bridge in 2013!
We had selected a more secluded hike in an attempt to minimize Starr's interactions with sights and sounds that completely unknown to him. He was understandably a bit spooked by the sight of a mountain biker coming towards us on the trail.  Starr simply needs more time to acclimate to his new surroundings as he was a bit startled and wanted to retreat, but he was not at all aggressive towards the unfamiliar sights and sounds.

It was shortly after this encounter that we made our way to the shores of Round Pond and the opportunity for Starr to have his first encounter with fresh water - an element that most Labrador retrievers find instantly addicting. I was privileged to witness Starr's joy as he took his first few paddles into the pond. You can view and share them from the post below:

That priceless moment when a dog that spent his whole life living in a shelter learns how life should be. Starr's trip...
Posted by Foster Dog Summit on Sunday, June 14, 2015


Following our 4-hour tour, Starr was ready for a nap and rested comfortably and quietly in the backseat as I drove him back to his wonderful foster family. He currently resides in a foster home with adults, a 7-year old girl and other dogs - all of whom adore "Starsky" and are helping him acclimate to life outside a shelter. If you or a friend or family member would like to inquire about Starr, please visit Almost Home Rescue of New England to learn more or visit Starr's petfinder profile.

If you cannot adopt but would like to help, please consider donating towards a wish list item to help the shelter in Mississippi where Starr's friends still reside.

See you on the trails!