Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pet friendly landlords key to attaining and sustaining "no-kill" status

Chico loves everybody and is
available for adoption at the
Yavapai Humane Society
If achieving no-kill is likened to an Olympic moment then sustaining no-kill is a marathon. Ending killing as a method to control pet overpopulation requires the involvement of an entire community. We are all responsible for its use, and we can all play a role in its abolition.

For instance, landlords can play an important role in attaining and sustaining a no-kill status. According to a report issued by The Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare, 50 percent of all rentals nationally prohibit pets.

Pet-forbidding landlords should consider these findings: 35 percent of tenants without pets would own a pet if their landlord permitted; tenants in pet-friendly housing stay an average of 46 months compared to 18 months for tenants in rentals prohibiting pets; the vacancy rate for pet-friendly housing is lower (10 percent) than "no pets allowed" rentals (14 percent); and 25 percent of applicants inquiring about rentals in non-pet-friendly housing are seeking pet-friendly rentals.

According to economic theory, in perfectly functioning markets (where people make rational, profit-maximizing decisions, with full information and no significant transaction costs), pet-friendly housing should be available to renters willing to pay a premium to cover any extra costs to landlords. So, why do so many landlords overlook opportunities to increase profits by providing pet-friendly housing?

With nearly half of American households having companion animals and more than half of renters who do not have pets reporting they would have pets if allowed, why are there so few pet-friendly rental units available?

Well, among landlords who do not allow pets, damage was the greatest concern (64.7 percent), followed by noise (52.9 percent), complaints/tenant conflicts (41.2 percent) and insurance issues (41.2 percent). Concerns about people leaving their pet or not cleaning common areas were rarely cited (5.9 percent).

Although 85 percent of landlords permitting pets reported pet-related damage at some time, the worst damage averaged only $430. This is less than the typical rent or pet deposit. In these cases, landlords could subtract the damage from a pet deposit and experience no real loss. In fact, the report finds landlords experience no substantive loss with little difference in damage between tenants with and without pets.

Other pet-related issues (e.g., noise, tenant conflicts concerning animals or common area upkeep) required less than one hour per year of landlord time. This is less time than landlords spend for child-related problems and other issues. Whatever time landlords spend addressing pet-related problems is offset by spending less marketing time on pet-friendly units by a margin of eight hours per unit.

The study finds problems from allowing pets to be minimal, and benefits outweigh the problems. Landlords stand to profit from allowing pets because, on average, tenants with pets are willing and able to pay more for the ability to live with their pets.

Animal shelters across the United States are experiencing a huge increase in the number of pets surrendered because of the housing crisis. Imagine if all landlords permitted pets.  That would create a demand far greater than the number of pets dying in our shelters, allowing our communities to end pet euthanasia to control pet overpopulation altogether.

Landlords are hearing from their own colleagues and professional journals that permitting pets makes good business sense. Many landlords may be overlooking a significant, low-risk opportunity to increase revenue, tenant pools and market size just by allowing pets.

Certainly, the benefits to the homeless pets who are dying for the lack of a home each year cannot be overstated. Landlords can make a profitable, life-saving choice simply by permitting pets.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Animal atrocity in Arizona

See Zeppelin's story below
According to Arizona State law a person commits felony animal cruelty when he intentionally, knowingly or recklessly inflicts unnecessary physical injury to any animal; subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment; kills any animal belonging to another person without the owner’s consent; or subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment.

In a shocking case, Deputy Navajo County Attorney Michael Tunink decided not to charge a Flagstaff police officer who intentionally, knowingly, recklessly and gruesomely mistreated and killed an owned dog without owner consent – even though the owner was within close proximity to the killing.

"There is insufficient evidence of a culpable mental state for prosecution," Tunink wrote in a letter to Flagstaff police.

According to the Coconino County Sheriff's Office a loose dog was hit by a patrol car around 2:30 a.m. on August 19th. The patrol officer called Corporal Tewes for help. The two decided the dog should be euthanized; but Tewes was unsure about using his gun.

Instead, he told prosecutors, that he tried repeatedly to bludgeon the dog to death, but it just wouldn’t die. So he jumped on the dog's head in an attempt to crush its skull, but that also failed to kill the animal. After nearly 30 horrific minutes of trying to kill the dog, Tewes used a metal cable to strangle the dog. He said it took several tries but the dog finally died.

Tewes told prosecutors he just “could not believe the dog wasn't dead yet." He also told investigators that he regularly clubs animals to death when he’s hunting and thought he could quickly kill the dog with his baton.

The dog's body was discarded behind the Flagstaff police station but later taken to the Flagstaff Humane Association. The owners didn't learn of their pet’s death until five days later. Flagstaff Police Chief Kevin Treadway said it wasn't clear when the dog owner was notified - even though a neighbor had pointed out the dog owner's home to Tewes while the dog was still alive.

Officials say departmental protocol requires officers to contact animal control or the Flagstaff Humane Association's 24-hour animal ambulance to care for injured animals. It is also departmental policy to only euthanize animals with a sidearm or shotgun. Officers are also required to immediately inform the animal owner when an animal is dispatched. The sheriff’s office investigation found all the other officers and supervisors involved in the case were aware of these policies.

Chief Treadway issued a public apology, stating, "I have personally apologized to the dog owner…, and I want the community to know that I understand their concerns regarding Corporal Tewes' actions in this case and have taken measures to make sure this never happens again”.

Although no criminal charges will be filed against the police officer, Chief Treadway informed me that Corporal Tewes, who had violated numerous department policies, had resigned from the Flagstaff Police Department.

I commend Chief Treadway for the serious manner in which he conducted the internal investigation despite the incomprehensible findings of the Navaho County Attorney’s Office. Within a week of the incident, the Chief had implemented a policy specifically addressing the treatment of injured domesticated animals, and every officer has been trained on the proper way to handle these situations.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and war correspondent, Christopher Hedges, has rightly observed, “Violence is a disease that corrupts all who use it regardless of the cause.” The Flagstaff community can rest a little easier knowing that this disease has been removed from their Police Department. The rest of us can only hope it never finds its way into our communities.

Zeppelin is a 1-year-old male Labrador retriever who was hit by a car, requiring the amputation of his left rear leg. Zeppelin is underweight and needs a loving home to fatten him up. Zeppelin qualifies for the YHS Back in Black Pick Your Price Adoptathon. Come on by to meet Zeppelin up close and personal. If you would like to make a donation to help animals like Zeppelin, send your donation to the Yavapai Humane Society.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Debunking the myths concerning black cats and Halloween

Each October I’m asked to debunk the myths and misinformation regarding black cats and Halloween.  Some suggest a moratorium on adopting black cats in October for fear they will be harmed – not understanding that in all the history of humane work no one has ever documented any connection between adopting black cats and those cats being harmed in any way.  

Why then all the panic?  It seems much of the distress arises from a misunderstanding regarding the relationship between “witches” and black cats used in ritualistic sacrifices.  Witches would never harm their “familiars” who are supposed to be their eyes and ears in the spirit world.  To harm a familiar is to blind and deafen oneself.

This misunderstanding took on a twisted life of its own during the 1998 Halloween season when suspected Satanists were sought in nine states for “mutilations” that drew sensational media coverage and rewards up to $10,000.  That incident etched its way into the national consciousness.  However, few people remember that the investigators ultimately learned that these “mutilations” were the natural product of wildlife predation.

Each summer since then one community or another has suffered an emotional panic coinciding with the appearance of young coyotes from their dens and the first hunt of newly fledged raptors.  These panics increased in intensity with the public’s preoccupation with witches, ghouls, and goblins, but abruptly ended after Halloween - unlike cases of human sadism.

Police and humane officers are trained to investigate human-inflicted cruelty but often have little experience in predator behavior.  This sometimes leads to forensic evidence being misread in ways that incite witch-hunts.

Unlike human sadists, animal predators are quick and efficient, avoiding waste.  Their teeth and claws cut more cleanly than a knife and they don't leave much blood behind.  When time permits, they consume the richest organs and leave the rest.

Coyotes typically attack small prey (such as cats) from behind and side, with a scissors-like jaw snap to the backbone that frequently cuts the victim in half.  When startled, they flee with the back half and whatever internal organs come along, leaving the head and forepaws. These are examples of cases most often misread by investigators as ritualistic crimes.

When prey survives a first strike, coyotes and wild cats will inflict a skull-crunching bite to the head.  Several panics over alleged sadists drilling mysterious holes in the skulls of pets were resolved when investigators found the holes aligned with the incisors of wild predators.

Alleged “skinned alive” cases involving pets were actually coyotes and raptors mistaking pets for smaller prey. The predator holds on with teeth or claws while the victim runs causing a set of sharp, straight cuts investigators describe as "filets."

Raptors account for cases where entrails are draped over cars, porches, trees, signs, and mailboxes.  They take flight with their prey and parts fall out.  Crows account for cases where eyes, lips, anuses, and female genitals are removed from fallen livestock.

Some trace black cat adoption moratoriums to early 20th Century New York Giants manager John McGraw.  McGraw was notoriously superstitious, so fans (mostly gamblers) tossed black cats in front of the Giants' dugout to jinx him.  The American Baseball League quickly adopted a rule against continuing a game when an animal is on the field and many humane societies started prohibiting black cat adoptions during the World Series which often occurs around Halloween. 

This Halloween don’t be scared out of saving the life of a pet of any color!  October is YHS’ Back in Black Adopt-a-thon and all black animals are available for adoption at a price you pick!   

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Your tax dollars fund animal cruelty

See Drummer's story
With a $32 billion budget, the National Institute of Health (NIH) is the world's largest funder of biomedical research on animals. The NIH claims tax-funded animal experiments are about cures and vaccines, and comply with NIH's mission "to extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability."

However, In Defense of Animals, an animal welfare organization whose mission is to end animal exploitation, cruelty and abuse recently reported on 2011's Top 10 Most Ridiculous Animal Research projects.

These are real experiments funded by NIH, approved by federally mandated oversight committees and published in peer-reviewed journals. These experiments show how tax dollars and animals' lives are frivolously wasted on research that contributes nothing to medical progress and tells us nothing we care to know - or didn't know already. One wonders what happens in the experiments that don't get published.

Top Ten Most Ridiculous Animal Research projects

10: A National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases grant to study what happens when you inject rats with a substance that causes arthritis. The rats got arthritis.

9. Two National Institute of Mental Health grants to study anxiety. Scientists put rats in an open space with nowhere to hide and then did things to traumatize them. The rats became more anxious.

8. Three grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to study family relationships in prairie voles. When you take the father away from the family, the offspring are less well cared for.

7. Three NIH grants to study the effect on the sex lives of hamsters when you put them on a diet. The hamsters were more interested in food than sex.

6. Two National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders grants to see what happens when you cut nerves that connect taste buds to the brain and leave the bitter-taste nerves intact. This involves slitting the throats of rats and puncturing their eardrums to reach the nerves. The rats learned to avoid bitter foods.

5. A K-12 career development grant to the Yerkes National Primate Research Center to see whether empathy makes chimpanzees more likely to catch a yawn from familiar chimpanzees than strangers. It does.

4. Two National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders grants to study alligator voices. The University of Utah implanted pressure sensors in the tracheas of young alligators and ran a cable through their throats, fixing it to their upper jaws with duct tape. They discovered alligators have two ways to change their voice frequency; whereas mammals have three.

3. Two National Institute of Mental Health grants to several laboratories to discover whether marmosets can be sexually aroused by a particular scent, e.g. lemons. They can.

2. Two National Institute on Drug Abuse grants to Albany Medical College to see how drug use affects musical preferences in rats. Rats who preferred Beethoven over Miles Davis were given cocaine with their less preferred music. The rats switched their preference to whichever music went with the cocaine.

1. Seven NIH grants to study stress on animals in vivisection laboratories. Researchers at Tulane National Primate Research Center found daily uncontrollable stress is inextricably part of an animal's life in a laboratory, regardless of the experiments performed on them.

There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action. Concerning such horrors, Dr. Charles Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic has said, "I abhor vivisection. It should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil." To which YHS can only say, "Amen."

The dog in the picture is Drummer who adores people and loves to be included in activities and excursions. He is highly receptive to obedience requests, calms easily and comes when called. He gets along well with other dogs and would be a faithful companion for an active family.  Contact YHS if you would like to adopt Drummer.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.