Pet Food Pantries Offer Relief to Animal Owners Struggling With Bills –


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Pet Food Pantries Offer Relief to Animal Owners Struggling With Bills

Misael Lopez and his pit bull Cookie visited a new pet food pantry in the Bronx last month. The pantry gave away 2,000 pounds of pet food in one month. Credit Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Cookie flirted with the man at the front counter with the swagger of a born charmer. She tilted her head, fixed him with a knowing look, and leaned forward on two meaty paws.

“Here Mama, this is the one you like,” the man, Fernando Cruz, cooed as he slipped her a bacon-flavored treat, not for the first time. “You want more? I got you.”

Cookie, a snow-white pit bull with light gray spots, knows the hand that feeds her. She has become a regular visitor at a new pet food pantry in the Bronx that sends free Costco-size bags of kibble home with owners who may not have enough money to feed themselves, let alone their animals.

Animal Care Centers of NYC. a nonprofit that runs the city’s animal shelters, opened this pet food pantry in December, and in the first month alone, the pantry gave out more than 2,000 pounds of food for 71 dogs and 50 cats.

Across the country, the pet food pantry is the latest addition to the food banks. soup kitchens and homeless shelters that serve as a lifeline for people living paycheck to paycheck, if they are employed at all. A small but growing number of dedicated pantries have sprung up, often in response to pleas from people who see their pets as family and spend their last dollar on a can of Purina, even if it means going hungry themselves.

Fernando Cruz wheels a cart of dog and cat food for patrons of the pantry. Credit Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

“Pets and people simply belong together,” said Dr. Emily Weiss, the vice president for research and development at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, adding that pet food pantries help create a safety net for pets and their owners. “Just because somebody can’t afford a specific aspect of care doesn’t mean they don’t belong together.”

The pantries have become part of a broader movement among animal welfare organizations, pet lovers and others that aims to reduce the population of animals in shelters by assisting pet owners before they resort to giving up their companions. The ASPCA has awarded $400,000 in grants since 2010 to 121 organizations nationwide to support pantries, food banks, and other programs that distribute free food for pets.

But some critics have questioned whether such efforts are misdirected. Joel Berg, executive director of Hunger Free America. a nonprofit that was formerly called the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, said he could not support the idea of pet food pantries when so many people were going hungry.

“I understand why this is important, but half the food pantries in New York City don’t have enough food to meet human needs,” Mr. Berg said, noting that he was a cat owner. “We should have fully stocked pantries for humans before we feed pets.”

Supporters of the pantries counter that they are, in fact, helping people by helping their pets, citing research that shows pets can help lower stress and blood pressure, improve moods, and provide emotional comfort to their owners.

Outside a pet food pantry in the Fordham section of the Bronx. The pantry is run by Animal Care Centers of NYC, a nonprofit that operates the city’s animal shelters. Credit Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

“That bond is still the same, no matter what your checkbook looks like,” said Stacey Coleman, executive director of the Animal Farm Foundation. a nonprofit that provided a $12,000 grant to the Bronx pet food pantry.

Cookie, for one, has been glued to the side of Misael Lopez since he rescued her and another dog, Fifa, sitting by a Bronx road in October. Both looked so sad and lost, he recalled, that he had to take them home. “I always wanted pitbulls and these two came about,” Mr. Lopez, 31, said. “Ever since I found them, I say they are my two blessings — two gifts from God.”

Still, Mr. Lopez, a father of two who earns $9.50 an hour stocking shelves at a Family Dollar store, had little money to feed the dogs after paying his rent and other expenses. By coming to the Bronx pantry, he estimated that he had saved about $60 a month on dog food.

Across the New York region, pet food pantries are thriving. Each month, the Hudson Valley Pet Food Pantry in White Plains feeds about 775 dogs and cats belonging to older adults, disabled people and veterans, among others, said Susan Katz, a retired administrative assistant who founded the pantry in 2010 with three friends. The pantry’s $102,000 annual budget is covered by grants and fund-raisers, including pet food drives at local supermarkets and pet stores.

On Staten Island, a pet food pantry was added to an existing pantry in 2014 to help pet owners, many of whom were hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. said Warren Niu, who oversees the operation. Sponsored by VCA. a national provider of pet health care services, VCA Charities. and the Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island. the pantry gives away food donated by the company Hill’s Pet Nutrition to as many as 100 people a week. It had to set a monthly limit of one bag per household because it kept running out of food.

Mr. Lopez left the food pantry with a 28-pound bag of dog food. Credit Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Dogology. a pet store and training center in Canton, Conn. set up a pet food pantry in a back storeroom in 2013 after hearing from local food pantries that people were coming in and asking, “What about our pets?” Since the pantry began, it has given away about 9,600 pounds of dog and cat food, as well as treats, pet beds, dog leashes and toys. Marissa Garson, an owner of the store, said that some patrons, once they recover financially, return with donations for the pantry.

In the Bronx, the new pet food pantry, in the Fordham neighborhood, is part of an existing admissions center run by Animal Care Centers of NYC, and is open to any borough resident who registers a pet, regardless of income, said Ken Foster, who coordinates the organization’s community dog program. Regulars include pet owners out of work, older people on fixed incomes, and one man who had visited nearby restaurants to ask for scraps for his pit bull.

Samantha Goodman, 21, regularly picks up a bag of Iams cat food for her two kittens, Socks and Mittens, saving about $40 a month. Ms. Goodman, who lives with a boyfriend, said last week that money had been tight since she lost her job as a cashier at a Bronx deli, which closed in December. “It helps a lot,” she said. “It takes stress off of us because we don’t have to worry, if the rent is due, where the money would come from to buy the food.”

Guillermo Maccow, 16, found out about the pantry when he brought in a stray dog last week. He said he would keep it in mind the next time he was short on money. “It will give people a chance to keep their dogs,” he said, adding that he already had to switch to a cheaper brand of food for his dog, Chooky, because he had been spending about $60 a month.

The other morning, Mr. Cruz, an admissions counselor at the center, carried a 28-pound bag of Professional Plus Chicken and Pea Formula from the back as Cookie eagerly circled the waiting area. He placed the bag on the counter. Cookie sniffed it.

Then Mr. Lopez hoisted the bag onto his shoulder, and with Cookie by his side, headed out the door for home.


Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve Costa Rica maps of trails, photos, sounds, weather,


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Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Areas with poor drainages support swamp forests, while other parts dissected by deep, expansive gorges have numerous streams tumbling through, creating rapids, waterfalls and standstill pools. It is, however, not merely the forest and landscape that are so diversified.

The variable climate and large altitudinal gradient have helped to produce an amazingly heterogeneous set of creatures that live here. Some of these include the jaguar, ocelot, Baird s tapir, three-wattled bellbird, bare-necked umbrellabird, and the famously elusive resplendent quetzal.

History. In the early 1950s, a group of Quakers from the United States left their homes in Alabama and arrived in Monteverde at a time when the region was just beginning to be settled. The Quakers, fleeing the United States to avoid being drafted into the Korean War, established a simple life in Monteverde centered on dairy and cheese production. Some of these families helped establish the Monteverde and Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserves some 20 years later.

In 1972, the Monteverde rainforest was threatened by local farmers looking to expand their property and homestead on certain forest sites. With this prospect in mind, visiting scientists George Powell and his wife joined forces with longtime resident Wildford Guidon to promote the establishment of a nature preserve. The Tropical Science Center, a non-governmental scientific and environmental organization, proved receptive to the efforts of the Powells and Guidon, and accepted institutional responsibility for ownership and management of the protected areas. An initial land purchase of 328 hectares formed the core of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve.

Following the preserve’s creation, the Tropical Science Center continued to secure the financial and human resources necessary to expand, consolidate, and properly protect the preserve s current 10,500 hectares. See more Monteverde photos .

Hours. For daily schedules and rates, please click the tour reservation options below. Children ages 6 and under are free.

Information. The restaurant, souvenir shop and art gallery are open from 7 AM to 4 PM. There are restrooms at the entrance but none on the trails.

Location. 3.6 miles (6 km) SE of Santa Elena, Monteverde. See Monteverde map for more information.

Getting there. Buses heading to the reserve leave from the Banco Nacional in Santa Elena at 6:15 AM, 7:20 AM and 1:15 PM. Return buses leave the reserve at 11:30 AM, 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM. Cost is $1 each way. Visitors can board the bus anywhere along the road between the town of Santa Elena and the entrance of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Those that do not wish to take the bus can take a taxi either way, which costs around $10 (for up to five passengers) each way.

Hiking Trails in Monteverde. The trails here are well maintained. Regular shoes are fine, as long as you are able to walk comfortably. There is no need for rubber boots or hiking shoes for daily trips. You may, however, need this type of footwear if you plan on staying overnight in one of the huts.

Trails Description

Sendero Bosque Nuboso (Cloud Forest Trail): 1.2 miles (1.9 KM) long with an elevation gain of 213 feet (65 m), this trail generally takes around 1.5 hours to complete. A self-guided tour booklet of the trail available in both English and Spanish can be purchased at the entrance. This is one of the most popular trails because it’s extremely pretty and has good examples of strangler fig plants.

El Camino (The Road): 1.2 miles (2 km) long with an elevation gain of 131 feet (40 m), this trail generally takes around 1.25 hours to complete. It is wider and more open than other trails, allowing for more sunlight and thus more butterflies. This trail is also excellent for bird watching.

Sendero Pantanoso (Swamp Trail): 1 mile (1.6 km) long with an elevation gain of 131 feet (40 m), this trail takes around 1.25 hours to complete. It passes through a swamp forest while traversing along the Continental Divide, and is adorned with magnolias, plants bearing stilt roots, podocarpus (the only conifer tree in the preserve), and more.

Sendero El R o (River Trail): 1.2 miles (1.9 km) long with an elevation gain of 213 feet (65 m), this trail takes around 1.5 hours to complete. This trail leads along the Quebrada Cuecha and has a short side trail to a waterfall, where there are several zapote trees.

Sendero Chomogo: 1.1 miles (1.8 km) long with an elevation gain of 492 feet (150 m), this trail generally takes about 1.25 hours to complete. This is the highest trail in the preserve, reaching 5,510 feet (1,680 m) above sea level. Oak, bamboo and heliconia are common in the higher areas, and hot lip plants abound throughout most of the walk.

Sendero George Powell (George Powell Trail): 0.1 mile (0.2 km) long with an elevation gain of 66 ft (20 m), this trail takes about 10 minutes to complete. This trail, named after one of the preserve s founders, runs through second growth forest.

Sendero Brillante (Shining Trail): 0.2 miles (0.3 km) long with an elevation gain of 49 feet (16 m), this trail takes about 10 minutes to walk. You are led along the Continental Divide to La Ventana (The Window), an overlook with a wide view of an elfin forest below. Bamboo is common along much of this trail.

Sendero Roble (Oak Trail): 0.4 miles (0.6 km) long, this lovely trail is narrow and leads to a beautiful grove of heliconia trees.

Suspended Bridge. 300 feet (100 meters) high, this bridge has spectacular views of the canopy, bromeliads, orchids and more. For a tour of all five suspended bridges, see Sky Walk

Wilford Guindon. Named in honor of one of the preserve s founder, this trail rises and falls through patches of sunlight.

Guided Tour Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve Times and Booking


Some Pet Owners Game the Emotional Support Animal System to Fly Pets


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Some Pet Owners Game the System to Fly Pets for Free

WATCH How Easy Is It to Pass Off an Everyday Pet as an Emotional Support Animal?

Emotional support animals can help people suffering from anxiety and other emotional disorders, but some pet owners are gaming the system in order to have their everyday pets travel with them for free.

Federal regulations allow a legitimate emotional support animal, whether it be a dog, a cat, a pot-bellied pig or even a miniature horse in one case, to travel on airplanes in the cabin with the owner, outside of a carrier, and for free if the owner has proper documentation, which means a letter from a doctor or other mental health professional. The animal must be well-behaved and there must be adequate space onboard. The airlines are allowed to ask people traveling with emotional support animals for that documentation, but they are not required to.

Genevieve from Atlanta, who asked that her last name not be used, told ABC News’ “20/20” she never had a need for an emotional support animal, or ESA. She simply wanted to fly with her dog, a lab-terrier mix named Kali, by her side in the cabin of the plane. So, about four years ago, she said she lied about having an emotional illness so that Kali could become an emotional support animal.

“I heard from a friend. that you could get your dog certified as something called an ‘emotional support animal,’ an ESA, and at the time, I thought it was a very good idea,” Genevieve said. “I had wanted to take flights with her for family functions. At that point, I thought, ‘what’s the harm?’”

Genevieve took an online psychological questionnaire to obtain a letter to qualify her dog Kali as an emotional support animal.

Genevieve found a website that provided a psychological evaluation for free, all she had to do was fill out a questionnaire.

“It was a website where I was able to. answer questions and possible emotional symptoms I had, and if I answered them in a certain way, I could get a diagnosis,” she said.

Genevieve said she provided fake answers for the psychological questionnaire, and received the special letter she needed to show she was permitted to have an emotional support animal. She said the diagnosis she was given was a “panic attack disorder.”

Once she had the letter, Genevieve said, “I could begin taking [Kali] on airplanes with me.”

Emotional support animals help people by being companions, unlike service dogs, which are trained to perform specific tasks to help people with physical and mental disabilities.

Paul Mundell, the CEO of Canine Companions for Independence, said emotional support animals “provide a valuable service” to people who need them. The problem is there are some pet owners like Genevieve who find it easy to take advantage of the law and the airlines.

“I flew about six times with Kali and I think they looked at my letter twice,” Genevieve said.

To see how easy it is to have a pet fly for free as an emotional support animal, ABC News bought meaningless certificates, instead of getting a letter from a mental health professional, proclaiming three different animals as emotional support animals and tried to get those animals on three different airlines.

First, we got our correspondent’s 28-pound dog Archie declared an emotional support animal through USDogRegistry.org, where for a fee of $254, with expedited shipping, we bought the deluxe kit, which included a leash, a vest, a photo ID and a certificate with Archie’s name and registration number.

While the paperwork looked official, in reality, it had no meaning. The website mentioned the need to have a doctor’s note, but did not ask for any proof.

On our first flight, we called ahead to JetBlue to let them know our correspondent was boarding a flight with an emotional support animal. But when we got to the ticket counter, the JetBlue attendants didn’t check our paperwork or Archie’s tags. They just sent our correspondent and Archie on their way onto the plane.

Next, we bought an emotional support animal certificate for a Lionhead rabbit named Leo. For $99, the ESA (Emotional Support Animal) Registration of America sent us the ESA VIP Kit, which included a registration certificate. This website also says you need to have a note from a mental health professional.

We called ahead to Delta Air Lines to let them know we were bringing an emotional support animal on a flight with us. Delta said to bring documentation, but no one checked it at the ticket counter so we got on a flight with Leo. The airline wasn’t doing anything wrong since it’s not required to ask for documentation at the terminal.

The airlines “don’t want to be intrusive into a person’s private life. They don’t want to embarrass someone or put them on the spot,” Paul Mundell said. “They want to do the right thing, [which] is probably to, if in doubt, accept someone’s presence with their animal at face value as an emotional support animal.”

Then, the ESA Registration of America sold us a certificate for an albino African pygmy hedgehog named Snickers. We tried to take him on a Delta flight to Boston from New York City, but this time, a Delta agent stopped us, saying we didn’t have the proper letter from a mental health professional to allow the hedgehog onboard.

So we wanted to try again. We booked our correspondent on a Southwest Airlines flight from Newark to Nashville. At the ticket counter, the Southwest agent asked for documentation for Snickers. Once we showed her the ESA certificate, we were allowed to board our flight.

Airlines for America, an airline industry trade group, said in a statement to ABC News, “We trust our passengers are honest in communicating their need for service assistant animal support.”

United States Dog Registry declined to comment, but ESA said its certificate is a valuable addition to a doctor’s note.

Paul Mundell of Canine Companions say people who fake their need for an emotional support animal should be ashamed. He said fake ESAs are taking up valuable cabin space, possibly denying accommodations for real assistance animals. What’s more, he said, he has started to hear that poorly-behaved fake ESAs have been disrupting the work of real service animals.

Genevieve said at first she didn’t see anything wrong with faking a condition so she could fly with her dog, but after taking Kali on half a dozen or so trips, she said a friend confronted her.

“[My friend] started to tell me that people were having adverse consequences from this. Legitimate people with legitimate animals were getting confronted,” Genevieve said.

So Kali’s flying days are over, and Genevieve said she is now confessing her story in hopes that other fakers will think twice about what they’re doing.


Animal Hospice – Animals Crossing Over – Cats – Dogs – Birds

#hospice for dogs

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Our Mission

To provide support, compassion, and genuine attentiveness related to the passing of a beloved animal companion.

Welcome! We are glad you’ve found us.

Animal Hospice Compassionate Crossings is not a place, but rather a philosophy that promotes healing through shared understanding. We provide support, compassion, and most of all a sense of connection. You are not alone in your time of grief, even if you live in a remote area.

We offer our services to anyone anticipating or coping with the loss of a beloved animal companion. Our group of trained volunteers will visit by telephone, postal mail, or e-mail, with anyone who asks for help in dealing with the loss or impending loss of an animal. We will support the person with communication and insight before, during, and after the death.

We provide compassionate and experienced support, suggest appropriate reading material, and encourage people to share together their feelings of love and loss surrounding their animal. When we suffer a loss, rarely can we find unconditional support and acceptance for our pain. When an animal dies, people who do not understand the depth of love possible between animals and humans are unable to give much comfort to a grieving person during or after the death of an animal. But we understand!

Our telephone helpline is answered daily and calls are returned by a trained and caring volunteer who is there to listen. We are happy to take your call, no matter where you are located. E-mails sent to AHCC are also promptly acknowledged.

There is no charge for anything we provide.

AHCC is a non-profit service operating solely through gracious donations, lovingly accepted at P.O. Box 6534, Ketchum, Idaho 83340.





German shepherd in fatal Grover Beach dog attack could be euthanized #grover


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Alex Geiger, who resigned from the Grover Beach Police Department early this month, is facing two felonies after his two dogs got loose and mauled two neighbors, killing one. City of Grover Beach

Alex Geiger, who resigned from the Grover Beach Police Department early this month, is facing two felonies after his two dogs got loose and mauled two neighbors, killing one. City of Grover Beach

February 08, 2017 4:35 PM

Second dog in fatal attack could be declared a ‘vicious animal’ and euthanized

By Matt Fountain

The former Grover Beach police officer who owned the two dogs involved in a fatal attack last month has given up custody of his second dog, which could result in it being euthanized if San Luis Obispo County declares it a vicious animal .

The dog is one of two formerly owned by Alex Geiger that attacked 85-year-old Betty Long and 64-year-old David Fear on Dec. 13, resulting in Fear’s death three days later. Though Geiger’s Belgian Malinois was almost immediately determined by county Animal Services investigators to have been the primary aggressor in the attack and was euthanized the same day, the German shepherd was initially spared.

Geiger could face about four years in state prison if convicted of two felonies for failing to properly secure the animals, according to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office. He is scheduled to enter a plea in two weeks.

On Wednesday, Animal Services Director Eric Anderson said he could not disclose specific findings of the investigation but that the German shepherd did participate in the attack.

“We knew (the Belgian Malinois) was primarily responsible, but the degree to which the other was involved wasn’t immediately clear,” Anderson said. “Through the investigative process we learned more about the exact degree it was actively involved.”

Following the attack, the German shepherd was placed under a standard quarantine and observation period of 10 days. The dog remained in confinement, however, pending the criminal investigation.

Anderson said Geiger has given up custody of the dog, which is being held under specific conditions by a private owner outside San Luis Obispo County. After the disposition of Geiger’s criminal case, the county will file a civil motion to have the German shepherd declared a vicious animal.

Should a Superior Court judge find that the dog meets the criteria, the judge could order the animal to be euthanized, or kept confined under specific practices as a lifelong condition for the new owner, Anderson said.

Geiger, 25, resigned from the Grover Beach Police Department on Feb. 1, a day before the District Attorney’s Office filed two felony counts of failing to maintain control of a dangerous animal. District Attorney Dan Dow previously said Geiger “failed to use ordinary care in keeping the animal,” which led to injury and death.

Dow said his office’s investigation did not uncover evidence of criminal negligence, a necessary component of a manslaughter charge. Officials have not disclosed how the dogs got loose.

The euthanized Belgian Malinois was a fully trained police dog formerly assigned as Geiger’s partner in the city of Exeter. where the dog performed patrol operations for about a year despite biting a trainer’s hand during an exercise. Officials have not released the background of the German shepherd.

An arrest warrant was issued for Geiger on Feb. 2, and he posted $20,000 bail through Great Dane Bail Bonds in Visalia one day later, according to court records. He was not physically booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Geiger is scheduled to appear at a San Luis Obispo Superior Court arraignment Feb. 21.

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