Sunday, January 31, 2010

This is a picture of an Akita with a disease known as VKH-like Syndrome or UDS. Uveodermatoglogical Syndrome (UDS) is an immune-mediated canine disease characterized by inflammation of the eye, depigmentation of skin and whitening of hair. Morbidity is related primarily to the eye inflammation, which can result in secondary ophthalmologicl disorders that lead to blindness.

UDS is similar to the human Vogt-Koyanagi-Haradi Syndrome, (VKH) which is characterized by uveitis (inflammation of the eye), poliosis (whitening of hair), vitiligo (depigmentation of skin) and a variety of neurological symptoms. Unlike VKH, however, UDS does not normally present with neurological symptoms. This disease is known to be more common in Northern Breeds such as Akias, Sibes and Samoyeds.

Because the eye disease has the serious outcome of blindness in most cases and the skin disease is secondary (but serious also), focus is usually on the eye disease. As with other autoimmune diseases, the primary goal of therapy is to suppress the body's immune response with large (potentially dangerous) doses of systemic glucocorticosteriods such as prednisone. To prevent blindness, on-going immune suppression is needed and more potent drugs like Cytoxan, Azathioprine or Imuran are used if steroids fail. Continued topical treatment is also needed, usually with steroid-containing eye drops or steroid injections. Controlling eye pain may also be required. In cases where vitiligo has occurred, protecting the affected areas of skin with sunblocks may be needed to prevent the sunburn and squamous cell carcinoma that may follow.

Prognosis is poor overall. Even vigorous therapy may not control the situation. The biggest worry is the damage to the body that the treatment may cause. We in Akitas already know the dangers of overuse of prednisone and its dangers to our breed's temperament in addition to the dangers it poses to the Akita's body. In addition, UDS Akitas suffer as a result of this disease with infections on their skin, in their eyes, etc. Is it fair to allow them to suffer just to keep them alive for our own desire?

This poor Akita above came to ARWNY in this horrid condition, suffering from it his whole life. His sire had it and yet was used in a breeding program. Then his son, this poor boy above, followed suit -- being bred despite this pain, this suffering he was living with. Any puppies he has produced are now all at risk for this horrid disease.

Please recognize diseases like this before allowing them to get to this point -- because no dog deserves to suffer as this poor Akita has his whole short life -- with interdigital cysts that were infected and oozing pus, with skin infections throughout his chest and entire head, with blindness, with inflammation of his eyes causing him severe pain. Please do NOT breed affected Akitas carrying diseases like this and if you know of Akitas being bred that do carry diseases like this, please please be brave enough to report them to the Akita Club of America or to any local Akita Club or Dog Club that the "breeder" may belong to, or at the very least, try to convince the "breeder" to not continue the breeding program. The future of our breed depends on healthy Akitas with good temperaments being the ones bred; and anyone that owns one, breeds one, shows one or knows of one is equally needed to do the right thing for the future of Akitas.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Transporting / Stealing

I want to discuss transporting a dog for rescue here. With the advent of the social networking on the internet, many new people are coming out of the woodwork offering to help with both transporting dogs and fostering dogs. Big problem -- they don't get it, don't understand what we do in rescue, why we do it and how it has to be done. They read about rescue, they suddenly are sure they want to help and then cause big heartaches and headaches for rescues when they pull some stupid stunt.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about: Recently a rescue in New England asked for help in transporting a small dog from a shelter to a foster home they had all lined up. A person jumped up on the internet & said "Yes, I'll do it." This person had transported for another rescue before, so was deemed reliable and trustworthy. What happened was this -- the transporter got to the shelter to pick up the small dog, decided on the way to the foster home that she "might know someone that wanted this dog" and just took the dog home with her. KEPT IT. Won't return the calls from the rescue, refuses to turn over the dog she kept.

Now, there are legal issues here to be considered. First, shelters that release a dog to a rescue do so on legal contracts, stating the RESCUE is now the legal owner of said dog. If the tranporter insteads KEEPS the dog, then they are, by all legal standards, guilty of stealing the dog. No different than if they broke into the rescue's own home, stole the dog from the living room and kept it. STEALING is stealing. IF this dog now bites someone, or runs away & shows up at a shelter (microchipped) or gets into a fight with another dog, the rescue is liable. Yet the rescue doesn't even have the dog. The transporter does.

Rescues don't have tons of money to spend to file lawsuits to get the dog back -- which is what people like this count on.

No rescue goes out on the street to drag people in to volunteer with them -- people offer their help, want to volunteer, come to the rescue and say "Hey, let us help you!"
And rescues are happy for the help -- many rescues out there even pay for costs incurred like gas, tolls and even lunches for transporters. All the paperwork is decided on, set up & legally taken care of, between the rescue and the shelter ahead of time. The transporter simply shows up at the shelter at a designated time, picks up the paperwork and the dog and leaves for the foster home.

So now I'm wondering -- why do people offer to help then cause more issues like this? Why does someone think they have the right to steal a dog from a rescue and keep it or rehome it themselves? Why bother to offer help at all if instead you do nothing but cause serious issues?

The legal issues here just astound me -- I guess I just don't understand why someone would think its ok to steal a dog -- anyone's dog but especially a rescue dog owned by the rescue?? Sadly this isn't even the first time I've heard this -- I've heard stories of people doing it before but now its hitting close to home. And another case happened just last week with someone else in rescue who's rescue dog was kept by the transporter. WRONG, its WRONG to do this.

Have things gotten so out of whack in this world that this is considered by anyone to be an "ok" thing to do??

It is hard enough to do rescue correctly when it all works well and runs smoothly. But to have to deal with this just isn't right. I sincerely hope the dogs in these situations end up in the right hands and that these people STOP thinking they know so much more than the rescues do and STOP thinking its ok to steal a rescue's dog. And I hope that the rescues pursue this, and publicize the people who do these kinds of things.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Its been raining....

Akitas that is. Suddenly out of nowhere, Akitas in groups are showing up in need -- where are all these original breeders and why are so many Akitas showing up in need? Where is the culpability -- with the owners or the original breeders? Who is to blame for all these Akitas in need?

We were notified of Winter & Lovey when their owner supposedly was moving -- do I sound skeptical? -- and couldn't take care of them anymore. Its doubtful they were ever being taken care of, considering they both are now being treated for Heartworm disease & Lyme disease, in addition to poor Winter's bad arthritis and ear infections. Both are with ARWNY now, at "Chez Dimon" and doing well despite their ages. The owner, when asked, couldn't remember where he got them or who their breeder was. Seems convenient to be that forgetful... ???

Then we were contacted by the Cumberland County SPCA about 2 Akitas, a male and female in need of rescue. After contacting the shelter, we found out there were several other Akitas also confiscated from this "owner" and brought to the shelter that had to be euthanized due to temperament issues. These 2 are the only ones that had good temperaments and deemed safe to be rescued. Joann Dimon, our volunteer extraordinaire, is evaluating them tomorrow so we can see if they will be rehomeable -- then they will come to us in rescue. Where did they come from to begin with and who sold this disreputable person these Akitas to breed & treat so badly?

Now, 3 more Akitas from an "owner" have been surrendered -- this time up in Bergen County SPCA. Katie, who is 6, is a lovely fawn Akita who is reported to be very sweet. Kathy is a 4 yr old dark female who is a bit shy. Maximus is a 1.5 yr old male Akita who is also reported to be sweet if somewhat confused. This "owner" surrendered them due to moving again. Once again, who sold a person like this these Akitas to begin with? And why aren't they keeping in touch with their puppy buyers? Oh, I guess once they have money in hand, there is no need to care about the welfare of the lives they bought into the world. As for owners -- everyone is moving, it seems. And no one wants to take their Akitas with them.

Most likely - the truth is that the bottom has dropped out of the Akita puppy market and selling puppies is no longer the cash-cow it once was. So people are now dumping these Akitas rather than feeding them. They certainly weren't bothering to vet them, socialize them, or care for them either. But what about the original owners -- why isn't anyone caring enough to follow up on the Akitas they brought into the world? Is it that hard to do a once a year follow up? I think not -- if RESCUE can do it, so can breeders.

Then there were 2 sisters turned into a shelter in MD -- one was adopted but the 2nd one, Princess, that is coming to ARWNY, has possible juvenile cataracts coupled with another health issue called nystagmus. Their "owner" I suspect was also their breeder -- unable to sell the last two from a litter, they grew up together and were terrified at the shelter. Obviously no health checks were done on the parents and of course, the owner is not being held liable for anything since he surrendered both girls. And these are only a few of the many doubles, triples and more that are showing up all over the country in shelters. Rescue is overwhelmed, underfunded, and just simply tired of trying to do other people's jobs - mainly taking care of Akitas bred by those who should be held accountable.

Then add to that -- all the single Akitas we see daily in shelters. Akitas with no history we can trace, no way to prove where they came from, no info on the intake forms - just "moving" or "no longer can afford" or some such nonsense.

Just today, a show breeder's Akita (who was confiscated from the home the Akita was sold to several years ago), was all over the news when he got loose from the person trying to transport him to get him to a rescue facility. The big question should be: why wasn't the show breeder picking up this Akita - yes the show breeder was aware, yes the show breeder could have been the one to rescue this Akita, yes the show breeder had offers of help to get the Akita to her state; but eventually she just ignored the situation & others had to step in to save this Akita from being unfairly put to sleep. What is happening when even the supposed "good guys" aren't helping our breed?

Its so sad what is happening to our noble breed.

I've long been known to lay the blame for Akitas in rescue on the shoulders of the owners who let these Akitas down, who did not do their research, who did not care enough to continue to love them until their time came. But lately, I've been getting increasingly disgusted with the attitudes of these "breeders" who just shrug off any responsibility, as if bringing these puppies into the world was enough, they didn't have to do anything more. Well sorry folks, but yes you do -- from "womb to tomb" as the saying goes. The good breeders knock themselves out to stand by their puppies, then the lackadaisical breeders bring on the bad headlines, which then lumps them all together linking them by that one word: BREEDER.

Again -- this breed has given so much to those that own them, yet where is the loyalty from the humans in return whether from those that bred them or those that owned them? Its sadly lacking and appearing to be disappearing altogether....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

She said, he said...

I thought I had left high-school behind. You know, those days of "Someone said that they were told you said something about me" kinds of days. The whisper down the alley days of childhood -- after all, I'm close to being eligible for social security so playing those games is long gone in my life.

But seems others are still playing them and have no problem accusing someone of saying things that they didn't say. They have no proof, can't even name who told them, yet run and accuse without any evidence. Seems like guilt to me -- got something to feel guilty over maybe, so of course you would jump to the conclusion if someone said something about you, it must be mean or degrading? What, no proof anything was said but just had to accuse anyway? Wow -- seems like you have a lot of guilt on your plate you need to get rid of.

Hearing someone said something about me, I'd like to assume its something nice first and foremost -- after all, I'm nice (honest I am!!) so of course people would want to say nice things about me, right? If you keep positives around you, then more positives will be attracted to you -- good karma and all that stuff.

So here's a tip -- next time you hear that "Someone is talking about you" -- how about assuming its nice things and moving on? Isn't it about time we stop spreading the negatives and concentrate on the positives? That's my life philosophy -- no more room in my life for negatives -- cancer and bad knees is all the negatives this ole' lady can handle these days!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010


See this Akita to the left? Obviously, this Akita was sold by the breeder to the wrong person. And obviously, this Akita is suffering for it. He has lived his life chained up outside, with no vet care for years. He is suffering now from a myriad of diseases. Where is his breeder? How did he end up like this? Why was there not a contract preventing this kind of life for this poor Akita?
Recently a situation happened in another state involving an Akita who was resold by someone without the breeder knowing about it. The Akita bit, and now the breeder is being blamed for many things. My thought -- the contract wasn't strong enough or else when she found out the dog was about to be rehomed several months BEFORE the bite, the dog would have been back in her hands and never resold. But the person who had the dog wasn't the least bit worried about being sued or following the contract -- because she got away with this type of crap before so she figured she could again -- because the breeder never scared her enough with a tough contract to begin with.

Rescues have tough contracts -- at least they better have or they won't be doing rescue for very long. ARWNY's contract has teeth -- strong teeth, good solid molars with canines to protect it!! We can and have used our contract to force the return of an adopted Akita to us. So I'm failing to understand why a breeder would have such a mild contract that no enforcement like that can be made?

I went online this week and started to read as many breeders' contracts as I could find. Its amazing to me how many of them do NOT address very real issues. Issues like not allowing the dog to be resold, not allowing the dog to be tied out, chained up, kept as an outside-only dog, to notify if moving & give new address & phone #, to do training, to not allow any abusive situations to befall the Akita, etc etc. They use wording like "Please contact us when/if you resell this dog so we can have first right of refusal." WHAT? No, it should read "You cannot rehome this Akita at any time. This Akita must be returned to us if you are unable to keep it." That is how you protect yourself and the Akitas you breed/place. That is how you make someone realize you mean business. Words like "should" and "hopefully" or "please" have no place in a breeders' contract -- yet I saw those words over and over. I saw tough wording about showing but nothing tough about actual living situations that would prevent bad things from happening. I was frankly shocked. And greatly saddened.

Also, how many breeders do actual checks on the people they are selling their dogs too? How about home visits, vet checks, trainer checks, personal reference checks, employment checks? I can't begin to tell you the people we have weeded out before adopting to by doing all this ahead of time. Breeders could easily ask for help in an area they aren't close to for a home check, drive bys, photos -- or else reconsider shipping a puppy across the country if they don't actually know who they are selling to!

People today will say and act any way they know will get them what they want -- so its important to have an air-tight contract, to have a full set of checks in place before allowing any Akita to leave your property. Have it all done before the Akita leaves -- be sure the contract is tight, that checks were made into their personal lives & their dog-owning lives/experience, the home visits done by people you trust if you can't do them yourself. Make sure the people know you mean BUSINESS, that you will take them to court if this Akita is NOT handled correctly. Do not be so worried about finding just ANY home that you let people do whatever they want once the Akita has left your property -- if that's happening, then you are breeding too much with too little care for the breed.

I am constantly surprised in today's world, by breeders who tell me "Well, I didn't make them sign anything because we were friends." Well guess what -- when the friendship is over, its the Akita that will suffer. Good luck then, watch your reputation get trashed. And using a half-hearted contract is just as bad. Do NOT believe a person who tells you that a contract is not worth anything -- it is and you can enforce them -- its just that no one bothers anymore. You must use a contract and you must threaten to enforce it. Its amazing what a lawyer's letter will get you -- and if it does NOT get you what you need, then follow thru with a lawsuit. If you placed the dog, its your responsiblity for the life of the dog!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Two Seniors are coming!

Lovey and Winter will be coming to ARWNY on Sunday. They were rescued in CT by Kim Holmes & have been staying at a kennel there until we had room at "Chez Dimon" in NJ. It was just discovered that they unfortunately suffer from Heartworm and LYME. Yet despite not feeling well and even with Winter having an ear infection, Kim their "foster mommy" in CT, has reported these two are special loving Akitas who are still enjoying life and both are affectionate and playful despite their ages of 9 and 11. She reports that Lovey especially has discovered the joy of toys -- playing happily with any toy given to her, throwing it in the air, running around with it in her mouth. Considering the hard lives these two have lived, its doubtful they had toys previously but now, in their senior years, they are enjoying them. We suspect we know who their breeder was that dumped them; the man who surrendered them had them living in a kennel area of his yard with no shelter, no dog houses, nothing but the frozen ground to lay on. Poor Winter, age 11, especially suffered with his arthritis but Lovey, age 9, did the best she could to keep him warm and shield him from the wind with her body. What a loving couple they are -- better than most human couples I know, eh? We could learn a lot from our Akitas' examples, folks!

Now there may be people who would ask -- why take on dogs this age when there are so many younger ones out there in need of a home? We ask ourselves daily this question yet the answer is always the same -- we do discriminate about Akitas with human aggression issues, with unprovoked bite issues -- but we cannot discriminate against Akitas with such great personalities due to their age. As long as they have quality of life -- and both do -- as long as they are healthy enough to enjoy life -- they are - then we feel we can work with them to find them a loving home who will let them live out their lives happily and safely. I'm considered a senior citizen and I would hope no one would want to throw me out the door based on my age (well Jenn probably does often but she never follows thru!) so how can I discriminate against an Akita due to age? We will treat the HW gently, take care of the LYME, clear up Winter's ear infection -- but now what we need is a permanent adopter or even a permanent foster home for these two loving sweet Akitas.

For a look at them and to read their stories, go to:

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Fun Video!

I created a fun video of Akitas enjoying Christmas -- so hopefully you enjoy it!!

I intend to expand it and have dozens more pictures but for now, this one is fun!

Tis cold, windy & yet still...

ARWNY has managed to get some wonderful Akitas adopted!! Some great amazing homes have come along -- the type of homes that understand the older Akitas (Like Athena above who was adopted just yesterday!) need homes also, and the other type of homes that are willing to do the training necessary for success with these youngsters that we have in our care.

Its easy to bring home a well-trained, well-behaved middle-aged dog -- that walk right in as if they lived there for their entire lives.

But to those fabulous adopters who are willing to give an older Akita the remaining few years of its life a great home, there is a special place in my heart. I love the older Akitas - so sad at having lost their homes in their twilight years, so willing to bond to someone who will love them for the rest of their lives, however short that may be. While its always hard to lose our beloved pets, giving of your home and love to an older Akita despite knowing you won't have many years with that Akita is a very special thing to do --so thank you anyone that does that!! I will never own anything but a senior these days myself!! I just love the dignity, the intellect, the sudden bursts of playfullness followed by complete calm that we have with our seniors! To those who have never adopted a senior - try it, you may find you like it!

And also to those willing to put up with the antics of the young adults/pups in rescue -- bless you also! I am SO over the "isn't he/she cute" antics of puppyhood -- but lately that seems to be all we get in rescue - either oldies or babies!! So to those willing to go thru the housebreaking, the crate training, the obedience work necessary, thank you so much! You will end up with a great pet for many years to come if you just have consistency, patience and discipline -- obviously what their original owners were lacking which is why they ended up in rescue to begin with!!

I am very hopeful for 2010 -- so far, we are off to a MUCH better start with our adoptions and applications than this time in 2009!!

So keep on spreading the word about adopting to all your friends and family out there! And another way for us to reach the public is if all Akita breeders across the country would have a link to the nearest Akita rescue to them, or to the ACA Akita Rescue webpages so potential homes could see it and consider a rescue. Just as rescue often refers adopters to puppy breeders due to certain needs in the home, so too should breeders refer to rescue when a potential home could and would take on a young adult!!

Lets hope 2010 keeps on being this good to our Akits in rescue - may they all find great homes and not wait very long, sad, distressed and silent, for a 'furever' home to come along!