A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Dec 22, 2020

Yes - a POEM

 In animal shelters worldwide, providing solace to pets,

Are dogs, cats, pigs and more awaiting the BEST.

 They roll, high-five, and socialize,

Mani-pedis they endure,

All the while maintaining one beautiful eye on the door.

 Good listeners galore, companionship plus more,

Commiserations on any topic,

They will provide love where none can top it.

 Yet here they sit, play, and twirl awaiting the BEST.

The BEST news in the world – they are getting adopted,

With the BEST families, friends, food and toys allotted.

 They will love you the BEST – and if you love in return-

You will ace the mensch test and a good deed you will earn.

 I submit to you, loving a shelter pet is right.

Happy holidays to all –

Keep up the good fight.

Dec 2, 2020

Covid Detection Dogs Working in Finland Airport

 I have written before how dogs were being trained to detect Covid-19 in people - well check this out:

Finland has already begun a pilot program using Covid detection dogs at airports! Passengers are asked to wipe their skin with a cloth which is then placed in a jar. The jar is then brought to the dog (kept separate from the people) who sniffs and then alerts if specimen is positive. It takes less than a minute to get results.

I have been keeping an eye on this story. Though the pilot program is due to end later in December the results are promising. MedicalExpress.com is reporting that "Preliminary experiments in the first major wave of infections earlier in the year suggested the dogs can detect the virus with close to 100 percent accuracy, up to five days earlier than a PCR test.

Many dogs that detect drugs, seizures, explosives, cancer and other things are very often found at shelters or through people who have enrolled in recreational training classes, such as Fun Nose, offered by spcaLA, and discover that they have a dog that is good at this. 

Keep in mind that animal shelters across the country are full of geniuses and gems. With their human companions - anything is possible.

Nov 2, 2020

Vote for YOU. Vote for US. Vote national, state, county and local!


I need your help tomorrow - not with donations - but with your vote.

True leadership, vision, collaboration and change start right here, at the local level.

That leadership is forged in every election, by you.

Consider the public-private partnership entered into twenty years ago between your spcaLA and the City of Long Beach - resulting in the spcaLA P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village & Education Center.

Partnerships like ours became the norm and the model not just in animal welfare, but right now in pandemic response. Chefs working with government to feed the hungry. The state of California working with private hotel chains. Public-private collaboration shows the best of America.

When you vote in every election, at the local level, you are voting for yourself. Your kids. Your parents. Your pets. Your businesses.

Whether your interest lies in protecting the environment, fostering animal welfare, increasing literacy, or providing comfort and housing to the homeless, to name a few, you must be vigilant in studying the candidates, their competencies and virtues and vote for the ones you would hire in your own businesses.

Conversely, we must fire the ones that don’t deliver. Don’t allow top leadership to abdicate and delegate policy and responsibility to loud, fact-challenged ideologues who holler at them during council meetings.

We small businesses, charities, and citizens must band together as “Davids” against the “Goliaths:” the governments, the public servants who would exploit us for their own benefit.

Vote every time, in every election, whether local, county, state or national.

Vote to keep your elected officials on their toes. Vote to insist they honor their promises. Vote to ensure your future.

Just vote.

Oct 19, 2020

Blink If You Love Me!

 It has always been a "trade secret" that you can communicate with your cat by blinking slowly. In fact,
veterinarians I know have use slow blinking to put stressed cats, and feral cats at ease before treatment. The first time I tried it with my cat, I was amazed at how the cat and I just took turns blinking and mirroring each others' blinks!

Recently, Science Reports has published a systematic investigative study "The role of cat eye narrowing movements in cat–human communication" where they discuss their methodology and conclusion suggesting "that slow blink sequences may function as a form of positive emotional communication between cats and humans". It is further suggested that eye narrowing in cats is akin to a human smile versus the actual smile of Alice in Wonderlands' Cheshire cat.  

This information may, in the future, be a tool to inform people as to the emotional welfare of a cat in a variety of environments. 

Try it! You'll like it!

Sep 9, 2020

What do Gender Reveal parties, Labradoodles, and Cubicles have in Common?

We have now come to learn that some type of smoke bomb launched at a gender reveal party ignited a wildfire in Southern California - the second time a wildfire started this way. (There was a similar gender reveal fire in 2017 in Arizona.) The person credited with inventing the gender reveal occasion, Jenna Karvunidis, reportedly went on Facebook to denounce her creation as these events can get out of control and become very destructive,

I discussed in my book, Designer Dogs, how Wally Conron, the founder of the Labradoodle wished he never created that mixed breed as his "invention" sparked the very cruel and inhumane designer dog craze which continues to leave a trail of sick, broken, misshapen and discarded dogs all around the world.

An article in Business Insider  reports numerous other "creators" also regretting their creations. This group of "Frankensteins" includes Robert Propst, inventor of the office cubicle, an idea to stimulate collaboration, left workers in teeny tiny spaces with no privacy, the scientists that participated in the Manhattan Project, which developed the atom bomb, and Anna Jarvis, who created Mother's Day, who hated the commercialization of the holiday and was even arrested for protesting it!  Others include the single use K cup, (fills up landfills), pepper spray, (misused constantly, the double slash in URLs, pop-up ads and more!

What do we make of this? Here we are, in our cubicles, in the midst of a pandemic, surrounded by designer dogs, fires, hurricanes, and plague, wondering- how many good ideas, movements, or concepts gone wrong are we dealing with? Many ideas start as fun, a solution to a problem, a social cause, a thing that makes you laugh, but then mutates into something horrible or just simply clashes with another newly invented good idea.

Still, we would be nowhere without creativity, altruism and sparks of genius. Perhaps, someone can invent super-duper long term vision or get to work on a time machine....

             "Exhilaration is that feeling you get just after a great idea hits you, and just before you realize what's wrong with it." - Unknown

Aug 21, 2020

Germany Proposes Law Mandating Dog Walking

unknown source
A new law proposed in Germany would mandate that dogs be "permitted to exercise outside of a kennel at least twice a day for a total of at least one hour," This can be accomplished by actually walking the dog or allowing him/her to run outside. Of course, this proposal, though well meaning, has been met with objections from "no nanny state", to it's up to the unique characteristics of the dog, to "right on".

It is interesting, though not clear who it actually applies to, private or commercial kennels, and how it could ever be enforced. 

As we exist in a COVID19 world, I have it on good authority that dogs are being walked - a lot!!!

Jul 17, 2020

Dogs May Be Good for Children's Psychological Development

First, I want to thank everyone for responding to the call to adopt and foster, as shelters all across the country were bracing for the COVID 19 pandemic. Your response allowed shelter personnel to function in a safer, socially distant mode that permitted the reducing, rotating, staggering of shifts while adding remote and virtual contact free services and programs. Your cooperation means everything to us and is certainly a double good deed!

Now that many of you have dogs, I thought you should see this New York Times Article  "Dogs May Be Good for Children’s Psychological Development" which posits that "Compared to young children without dogs, those who had them were less likely to have conduct problems or problems relating to peers."

Data was collected by Australian scientists from parents of 3-5 year old boys and girls from a variety of demographics, as well as details on dog walking and playing to reach the above conclusion. 

Of course, there is a lot more studying of this issue to do before establishing rock solid cause and effect evidence - but it is something to think about as you work as a family, to make the dog feel at home and build the human animal bond.

Please stay well.