A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

May 18, 2015

A Small Thank You To Our Veterans

This Memorial Day weekend (May 28th and 29th)  spcaLA will again partner with Animals for Armed Forces® to give pets to members of the military and their families at no charge.

Photo courtesy of spcaLA
Many veterans can benefit from a bona fide service dog to assist with head injury issues, and all can be helped by the therapeutic healing powers of a family pet. Unfortunately, the difficulties encountered by veterans in getting treatment for, or even recognition of their injuries, such as PTSD, have become insurmountable as we learn more each day about the ineptness of the Veterans Administration.

Why is this important today? spcaLA opened 139 years ago protecting the vulnerable in our society. Women, children and pets - were all considered property, and were all bullied by those in power. Our veterans, some who are as young as 18, are over-driven  (3 tours of duty), used and discarded and are returning home injured, traumatized, suicidal and vulnerable. They are not treated as employable or useful but rather left to be homeless, exploited by lending companies and ignored at epidemic proportions.

As the daughter of a World War II veteran, I grew up hearing of the indignities and injustices delivered to our troops instead of  the support they deserve. My father served in the Air Force on a bomber crew. His plane was shot down and they landed behind enemy lines. They miraculously reached the allied forces wounded, hungry, scared and happy to be alive. While waiting for medical attention, they were greeted by the Red Cross who offered the boys coffee and doughnuts for a charge. Yes - for money. Of course, they refused the refreshments and continue to hold a grudge against the Red Cross to this day. Upon his return stateside, my father was hailed as a hero and labeled a member of the great generation but immediately encountered the difficulties and dangers of being "helped" by the VA.

One could survive getting shot out of a plane but die waiting for a doctor.

This must not stand. I have spoken against military dogs being treated like equipment, being denied veterinary care and being left behind when their service is over. Today, I am imploring those with the doughnuts and the power to not do the same with our veterans. It is cruel and inhumane.

spcaLA will continue to do what we can to provide solace and comfort to our veterans with our dogs. We will continue our work with other military groups to pair veterans in need with service dogs. And we will continue to speak out on behalf of the vulnerable.

May 15, 2015

Step Away From the Tortoise

Spring is a time that desert tortoises awake from hibernation and search for food and mating partners. As such, they can be seen walking around, basking in the sun, grazing, drinking, and, yes, crossing the road to get to the other side. They need to replenish their water and food reserves so they can go about their business and store up food and water for next winters' slumber. Attracted to colors, they will race to flowers, plants, litter, and toes with bright pedicures expecting a fabulous treat.
Photo credit - Dustin Alpern
If you see or are approached by a hungry tortoise, do not touch, and most importantly, do not pick them up to move them. Doing so will scare them and often cause them to pee which can dehydrate them and possibly kill them if they can't find enough fluids to safely hibernate. 

Taking them home with you is especially dangerous for the tortoises as they require special care, diets, climate conditions and expert veterinarians. They can also pick up parasites, worms and other diseases detrimental to their health while also spreading diseases to others in their new environment. I can tell you from personal experience that it is awful treating a tortoise with pneumonia and other medical conditions caused by a change of address. A tortoise left alone in his or her natural habitat can live over 100 years. Unfortunately, thanks to people, their main predator, the tortoise population has been decimated to such an extent that they are legally a protected species. 

If that doesn't convince you - they bite!

Finally, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (formerly, Fish and Game) has issued a similar warning about Western Pond Turtles -"if you care, leave them there". Though water turtles, they will come on land to bask or lay eggs and do not need rescuing.

Please-don't take anything from the wild except a picture!