Friday, August 31, 2007

Service Animals At Risk

There is a woman in Great Falls who takes her personal pet into various stores and when challenged, claims it's a service animal.

During the Fair a service dog was told to leave one of the big barns and the handler was belligerently questioned about the dog's legitimacy. The handler departed and returned with the dog in vest, which was then allowed access.

Are the two related? I believe so. If a personal pet, being passed off as a service dog, has behavior which calls into question the competency of the legitimate working service dog, then it makes it difficult for the actual service animals to learn and/or perform their duties and gives a bad rep to these wonderful dogs.

Just because a dog plays well with children doesn't mean it will be a good therapy dog. Just because a dog is nice in public, doesn't mean it will be a good service animal. I receive many calls from people throughout the state who want their dogs to become service animals, but they don't want to go the distance to insure that their dog is the real thing.

So, here's some information.

A service animal is any animal which is individually trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability (PWD) such as a guide dog for the blind, alert a person who is deaf, pull a wheelchair or retrieve dropped items, alert or protect a person with seizures or provide balance and mobility assistance, among other tasks. A service animal is NOT a pet.

Assistance Dogs, Guide Dogs, Service Dogs, Hearing Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Dog Partners - we have a few of these animals in Great Falls. There is at least one dog for the blind and it is easily recognized by its harness. I know, though there may be more, of at least two legitimate therapy dogs, also. An Assistance Animal, depending on it's job, may be harder to recognize and so a vest was developed in order to more easily identify them. The vest can be any color, but it should carry a patch on it stating "Service Dog in Training" or "Service Dog at Work".

To become a service animal is a rigorous and long road. First the dog (let's use that term for ease as there are other animals now that qualify) must pass a temperament test, then, usually, it must be fostered, then it must pass with high scores obedience training, then a Canine Good Citizen Test (CGC), then a skills/task test, then the Delta Society's, TDI's therapy dog test or the Assistance Dog's Skills Test plus a Public Access Test, only the AD's test is acceptable in order to become certified a Service Animals.

On the average, only one in ten dogs makes the temperament test cut. Of those, only about one in ten makes the obedience cut. From that group, only about one in ten makes the grade at the final Public Access Test. If a non-profit group fosters and trains the dogs the average cost to produce one of these service animals, from acceptance into the program until presentation to an owner, is well over $100,000

The purpose for all the testing is to ensure that dogs that have public access have had the highest level of training and are stable, well-behaved and unobtrusive to the public. Also, to ensure the handler has control over the dog and the team isn't a public hazard. The handler is legally responsible for the actions of the animal.

There is a severe shortage and a high need for the dogs. This has led to private training by the PWD, individual trainers and therapists. Still, because of the fact that any single service animal is an ambassador for the all that follow, the quality of training is expected to be held to the highest standards.

The newest addition in GF is a young Cavalier King Charles Spaniel which is an Assistance Dog. This dog went through my obedience class when it was about 10 weeks old and the owner/handler spent a long year maintaining the behavioral-obedience expectations taught in class. When the service animal test was given, the owner who had been very nervous about what would be expected, was relieved to find that everything required of the dog had been taught in the obedience class and was normal behavior for both of them. She passed all the tests with flying colors both ON and OFF leash, something which is very rare, including the Public Access portion.

For business owners:
  • A PWD may be asked what TASKS the service animals performs by may not be asked for special certification or ID cards for the animal and may not be asked about his disability.*
  • A PWD may not be charged additional fees to be accompanied by a service animal
  • A PWD accompanied by a service animal must be admitted and may not be isolated, segregated or treated less favorably than other persons.
The other side for business owners:

You are in a tight spot and I sympathize. If you're told you can't ask about the dog without legal problems then how will you know if it's the legitimate thing or the the dog being passed off as a service animal?

*State and federal laws have no specific provisions for people to be accompanied by therapy and companions animals in places of public accommodation that have "no pets" policy. Therefore, you may ask for proof from the therapist/handler that the animal in question is, in fact, a registered therapy dog and if you have aren't displaying the "no pets" sign it is your decision to allow them, or any dog, entry.

I trust the business owners of this city as you all strive to be intelligent and fair and are polite to those with these valuable dogs. By allowing assistance dogs in training or identified service dogs into your establishments you are doing a great service. The business owner or employee that approaches a legitimate service dog handler will have their questions answered promptly and politely and proof offered as it is the community and dogs which will benefit.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I have been asked to place this on this blog in hopes it will be seen. Since I'm getting hits from all over, I hope this will help.

Kelly Hanson must move and will not submit her two dogs to the GF Animal Shelter as they have informed her that because her two dogs are Pit Bulls no attempt will be made to find them homes and if surrendered to the shelter they will be put down immediately.

She has 3 days to find a home(s) for her two Pit Bulls. They were both raised with her kids, trained to pull a wagon using a harness, will pull the wagon with the children in it, are very playful, great with other people, go on hikes with the family and like other dogs.

1 1/2 yr old brown & white male - neutered, obedience trained by Hodges, current on all shots

2 yr old brindle fawn female - spayed, obedience trained by Hodges, current on all shots

Should you know anyone who can rescue, foster, adopt, transport or in any other way help re-home these two dogs, please contact; Kelly Hanson 590-1678

To all of you out there who contacted me, are working with us on this problem and making attempts to re-home these two dogs - THANK YOU - I'm hoping we can achieve a positive result in a short time.

Animal Shelter Donations

I was in town yesterday to work and was introduced to the neighbor of my client. I was questioned about the GF Animal Shelter by the neighbor who had visited this site.

I was told that the old shelter building had a brand new sign and everything was now being sent out under the title "GF Animal Shelter". The neighbor was concerned about a post on this site that read:
Eva said...

Pet Portrait Tidbit-
I just had my 2 dogs and cat "pose" for their pictures with Nancy and Jack Logozzo - They are wonderful to work with and the entire proceeds from their pet portraits are donated to the Animal Shelter to spay and neuter pets. Really --- They asked me to make my check out to the Animal Shelter- Nothing went to them- Wow!

August 27, 2007 7:39 PM

The neighbor, who had donated to the Humane Society Shelter & GFAF (Animal Foundation) in the past, said that money donated to the current animal shelter would, to the best of their knowledge, just go into the general funds of the city and not, specifically, for spay/neuter.

This person went on to say that they were extremely upset for the following reasons:
1) The city had not set up, and voted on creating, a specific fund to accept donations for the shelter & so the money was not guaranteed to get to the animals and they wondered if the Logozzos were aware of this as they solicited funds in good faith and if the couple were truly raising funds for spay/neuter then the checks should be made out to the Spay/Neuter Task Force - NOT the city shelter.
I must say I couldn't find anything in the online city records to disprove the statement and guaranteeing the funds for spay/neuter use. I did, however, find the following: Under Montana Law (Legal Opinion 2001-09) the city is allowed to "(7) solicit and accept bequests, donations, or grants of money, property, services, or other advantages and comply with any condition that is not contrary to the public interest; (emphasis added)" However, it is usual in these circumstances of land, water rights, etc., to vote at a public meeting to accept these "gifts".
So, unless this specific non-profit entity is/has been established & voted on to accept such donations, i.e., GF Animal Shelter Fund, we have no such thing. - Ed.

2) That they didn't feel as if the animals were truly the main concern for either the City or the GFAF as the Foundation had never given one penny to the Humane Society or the current shelter and they were angry about that.
Again, I couldn't find any records to refute this statement. - Ed

At this point we were joined by three other neighbors who had been phoned with the invitation to come and join the discussion. Once again, these people had been long-time supporters of both the GFAF & HSCC and they openly voiced their concerns:
3) With all the money the Foundation had at hand, this individual was VERY angry that none was going for the current care of needy animals. If this was due to the way the Foundation had set-up their trust, then shame on them for not taking into consideration the need for care of animals which would fall under the care of HSCC, an entity that the Foundation was quick to denigrate, while the people waited for a new
shelter to be erected. If this was merely an oversight on the part of the Foundation, then WHY hadn't its
board rewritten its statement and/or bylaws to allow for allocation of a percentage of current funds to go for the care of animals presently in need. (This person went on to say) The Foundation had been very quick to take the publics' money on behalf of helping the animals and very slow to actually HELP THE ANIMALS. (emphasis by speaker)
4) Another neighbor was incensed that the Foundation would use funds for a dog park for dogs that were already in secure, loving homes while animals at the current shelter were being killed for lack of adoption and space. It showed to her that the Foundation was trying to make itself look good to get more money,
not really care for animals that needed help. She hadn't given donations over the past few years for Fido down the street to go play, while a lost or abandoned cat or dog was euthanized in the shelter.
5) The fact that the current and future shelter is, and will not be, a "No Kill" angered these people.
6) All felt that the majority of citizens here were caring, worried people who wanted the best for animals in need and they felt duped by both the Foundation and City.

Ed note - Two of these people had taken on the personal responsibility to pay for a complete vet check and spay/neuter for a total of 3 animals in the past two months and to work with other caring people to find good homes for them. One had also personally payed for the transportation costs of an animal to reach a rescue group out-of-state as they were not going to risk the dog's life by placing it in the current shelter.

Many of these concerns I also have. Since its inception I have supported the Foundation and, until its demise, the HSCC. I continue to work with individuals in the GF community and neighboring counties that are caring for, rehabilitating, finding adoptive and rescue homes for needy animals. I can only say thank you to those of you out there that put the time, money and personal effort into protecting the animals you take under your wing. There is no future for an animal that's euthanized. Animals live in the "now" and it's the now we need to concern ourselves with.

I know this is an emotional topic, but the people I spoke with yesterday feel they reflect the feelings of many. They want to know just why this is happening to the animals and what these groups (city and Foundation) are actually doing to truly help animals. They're not, to quote one of them, "going to give one more red cent to any group that's going to kill an animal or put it in a bank account where it'll sit and do nothing while we have animals that need help. I want to know, be really sure, that my dollars help an animal to live a good life."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

New Pet Food Recalls

Three new recalls have been recently issued on pet foods. This includes
Wal-Mart sold Jerky Treats, Red Flannel Dog Food, and Krasdale Gravy.
For more information please visit:

Monday, August 27, 2007


I have received so many e-mails and calls from all of you that I've pulled this from next month's newsletter and am posting it here.

Many of you may be receiving a note from your vet stating that your dog is due for vaccinations. It may also state that it’s time for a “rattlesnake vaccination.” If you’re like most owners, you’re scratching your head because you’ve never heard of this one before. Here is what I’ve come up with, in its simplest form, after numerous phone calls and review of scientific articles regarding this vaccine.

This vaccine (Crotalus Atrox Toxoid) was developed by a company called Red Rock Biologics in about 2000. It is specifically developed for the Western diamondback rattlesnake. This company prior to and since this vaccine has developed no other vaccinations of any type. (Take that as you will).

The Western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalidae atrox/ C. atrox) is a viper and one of 15 viper varieties in the United States. Because of its size and aggressiveness it is the most dangerous of the vipers. Its range is Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Southern California, Southern Nevada and the Hidalgo area of Mexico. For those of us living outside these states this snake is of no, or very little, concern.

Each year in the United States about 300,000 domestic animals are bitten by venomous snakes and 99% of the bites are from the pit viper species (Crotalidae) which include rattlesnakes, cottonmouths and copperheads.

Rattlesnake venom is NOT all the same as it is made of various proteins containing toxins to nerves (neurotoxins) or blood cells (hemotoxins.) While quantity of toxin is related to the size of the snake (larger snakes/larger volume), the potency varies depending on species, age, area, time of year and nutritional status. A younger snake may inject less volume, but it may contain more neurotoxin elements. Also, a snake may miss the target and have premature venom release. Between 20-30% of all human and animal bites are “dry bites”, meaning no venom is released. Most animals receive their bites on the face or front leg(s). (I can attest to this as a cat of mine was bitten on the leg by a viper and lived.)

Rattlesnake antivenins used for many years has been an equine-based whole antibody preparation sold under the name of Antivenom (Crotalidae) Polyvalent (Wyeth) which often resulted in a high risk (56%) of hypersensitivity reactions and delayed serum sickness reactions. The Wyeth (human) and Fort Dodge (animal) products are both available, but both may create an immune reaction in dogs and, therefore, skin testing before administering is strongly suggested and may be helpful, but not always accurate.

Recently CroFab (Protheris), a sheep-derived preparation, has become widely used in place of the equine-based product for humans as it has been shown to have less immune reaction. But, Fort Dodge, remains the only product labeled for use in dogs and is much cheaper ($100-$200 per vial) as compared to Ovine FAB ($600-$700 per vial).

The rattlesnake vaccine calls for 2 to 3 doses depending on the size of the dog, each 3 to 6 weeks apart with an annual booster in spring. Additional doses may be needed at 4 to 6 months in high-risk dogs, such as those that field trial, work livestock in the desert areas, etc.

The vaccine, with a 1% injection site reaction, seems to be safe. However, site reaction numbers seem to fall into the 1 in 150 dog range and the reactions range from mild irritation at injection site to severe abscess the size of softballs with deep-tissue pus. Because dogs’ response to this vaccine is varied, a bitten animal MUST be considered a veterinary emergency due to the fact that the amount of venom may overwhelm the titers in the vaccine, not all species of snakes are well covered by this vaccination and it doesn’t address any secondary tissue necrosis or infection. Your dog will, in all probability, still require antitoxin treatment and the vaccine has shown no significant difference in the course of treatment if your dog is bitten.

University of California/Davis will not, at this time, advocate the vaccine’s use because of its “questionable efficacy, cost, and no substantial difference in acute therapy if bitten…” They do, however, note that in high-risk dogs from areas where treatment may be “substantially delayed, the rattlesnake vaccine may buy time for the owner to get their animal to a veterinarian and may potentially decrease the overall severity of envenomation.” The UCD Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital official stance: “Based on existing evidence, the UC Davis VMTH does not currently recommend routine vaccination of dogs for rattlesnake envenomation, and the vaccine is not stocked by our pharmacy.”

Each of you must make the decision as to vaccinating or not. I, personally, from all I’ve read, the fact we are not in the diamondback range and my discussions with friends in the lab at UCD VMTH will not have my dogs vaccinated for this particular problem.

Thank You, Dave

I have wanted to respond to the many client requests for a blog area for quite a while. Having no computer skills in this area, it hasn't been something I've considered a possibility. This has meant that information, alerts and discussions have been managed in the antiquated format of e-mail.

However, I ran across a generous offer from Dave to help the computer challenged, such as myself, make blogging a reality.

He has my admiration for his skills, professionalism, kindness and patience in creating this spot for me.

With this blog site I hope to be able to address, and open for discussion, a myriad of topics, such as dog myths, behavioral issues, laws, owner responsibilities and much, much more.

Thank you, Dave.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Welcome to the Overfield Kennel Blog!

Welcome to the first post on the new Overfield Kennel blog! This blog is designed to complement our website (Overfield Kennel) and provide you with up-to-the-minute news, tips, and fun stuff! So, where to begin? How about a quick look at Overfield Kennel:

We offer a unique method of owner training in dog pyschology and behavioral-based obedience training for dog and puppy applied behavioral obedience. It is based on dog psychology and communication and dog behavioral modification for both the owner and dog and relies upon the animal's natural responses in order to achieve the greatest consistency of desired response. This is NOT a fear-based method.

Both dogs and puppies, including "bad dogs", "problem dogs" and some forms of "aggressive dogs", understand this form of psychological behavioral-based obedience training inherently and master it almost immediately. Owners may take a while longer to learn this dog psychological behavior training method and how best to put it into consistent practice in order to achieve the highest quality of dog or puppy obedience and improve their relationship with canine companions.

We offer dog and puppy psychological and behavioral-based obedience training classes, as well as on-site dog camps and clinics. Because of the great success in this dog training method, we also travel to all 50 states to offer dog psychology-obedience clinics for private individuals and/or groups and as fund-raisers.

This dog obedience training method is guaranteed for the life of the dog when followed consistently. It is humane and does not utilize choke collars, pinch collars or shock collars and is successful-even for puppies as young as 8-weeks old. It is psychologically-based and does not depend upon treats. Call us for more information should you wish a Dog Pyschology/Obedience Clinic to be held in your area, or wish to attend one of our Dog Psychology or Psychology-Behavioral Obedience Clinics, Camps, or Behavioral Training Class.

Don't forget - blogs are designed to be interactive - you can leave comments on any entry and ask questions about how to make YOUR dog the best ever!

Stay tuned to the Overfield Kennel blog for news, tips, and information about good dogs and great owners!