Securing Your Website

Sometime last night my domain host received a request to change my website’s password; the request came from an IP address in Moscow.  Several years ago, this website was hacked and a malicious software file was added.  Fortunately, I paid the extra bucks to have my website routinely scanned.  But, I realized that they were able to access the site through my password.  I admit that my password was weak at that time.

In the latest attempt at hacking this site, they came across a much stronger password and attempt to get my hosts to change the password.  Of course, my host is not stupid.

I can think of no benefit of hacking my website; it carries no secrets.  In fact, I pretty freely speak my mind.  So, with our current administration’s lack of will to go after hackers; the hackers are now free to use a shotgun approach to hacking.  They will just hack anyone and everyone.

Now is the time for your to review the strength of your passwords.  And hope that there is a special place in hell for cybercriminals.  I’d also like to add spammers to that list as well.  Don’t forget to constantly scan your work and personal computers for spyware as well.  China seems to want to know everything about us.

Resolving Audio issues when watching videos

Due to the Pandemic, remote learning is coming more of age. One of the frustrations that I have recently experienced is dealing with under-modulated videos. In other words: the audio is too low to be heard.

This problem caused me to look for solutions that would allow me to turn up the volume of my computer beyond the computer’s normal settings. You have probably heard of browser extensions; well there are extensions that allow your web browser to boost the audio of the videos that you are watching.

My battle with insufficient volume was resolved by adding a browser extension that allowed me to boost my volume by 600%. This free application saved me the cost of purchasing larger speakers. Don’t expect the app to make your laptop speakers useable, but if you have external speakers or a soundbar, the boost will be sufficient to improve your listening pleasure.

Backyard Dog

One of the greatest travesties that we can inflict on another species is to bring home a pet and chain it in our backyard. The animal belongs to the household but is not part of the household. It is forever looking at the people that have abandoned it.

The backyard dog is a symbol that the human race lacks the humanity and compassion to be pet owners. When I see a dog chained in its backyard, I side with PETA on their view of pet ownership.  Pets should become a part of our family circle, not exist for our amusement.  

One of the most common calls that animal services receive in the winter is to conduct welfare checks on backyard dogs.  In too many cases, the calls are warranted and the animal is found without water, food, or protection from the cold.  Winter isn’t the only season of concern; when temperatures are high, a dog needs plenty of water and shade from the heat.

Tough Love

A half of a (my) lifetime ago, we entered an era that changed the way that dogs behaved. The harsh methods of training our dogs turned from disciplining our dogs when they did something wrong to rewarding them for when they did something right. Many people just didn’t do anything to control their dog’s behavior and thus started the golden age of animal control.

Because owners did not play a role in stopping their dogs from becoming a menace to society, animal courts started becoming a big thing. More and more disputes divided neighbors. These same techniques parents applied to their children.

Spanking children in public places for disruptive behavior became frowned upon and eventually, we stopped disciplining them at all. At the same time, video games entered the stage and kids would rather play games than joining the Boy or Girl Scouts.

Scouting was a necessary step in child development. Scouting taught children to rely on themselves and to leave the world a better place.

That era of bad parenting turned out undisciplined dogs and children. Many of the dogs were later turn into animal shelters and the children turn to protesting. They could turn their violent gameplay into real-life looting and damaging property and people.

We can only thank ourselves for how things turned out.

Determining Adoption Fees

Most shelters have a price list for charging fees for the animals that they routinely adopt from their shelter; but, on a rare occasion, an animal come into the shelter that isn’t on the fee schedule. Usually, the animal is an exotic bird or reptile.

Over the years, I discovered that the easiest way to determine the fee to adopt an animal is one-half of the market value. When you are ready to adopt the animals, you call three local suppliers that sell the animal and then charge one-half of the average of those three vendors.

The problem that you face is that pet stores are disappearing and getting three estimates is becoming harder. Fortunately, you have the internet to help you determine the fee. Keep in mind that other factors enter in as to the health or condition of the animal that will decrease the animal’s fee. If the prospective adopter is going to face large veterinary fees, you might consider decreasing the fee to allow for the cost of owning the animal.

When it comes to exotic animals, you need to consider the skill that is necessary to care for the animal. You should not adopt to anyone who comes into the shelter on a whim to adopt an exotic animal; and, of course, you should not adopt wild or venomous species AT ALL.

The Joy of Fostering

I came across an old photo of my wife playing with a litter of foster puppies. The photo reminded me of one of the joyful hazards of working in an animal shelter. I was a sucker for taking foster animals home. Based on the number of photos that I found, I am reminded of the large part they played in my life.

The animals are the reason that many of us get into the animal welfare profession, but our contact with people seems to overshadow that during shelter hours. It was so nice to come home to my foster children.

It is too easy to get caught up with the “work” of animal welfare, but by living as a foster family, you never forget why you are doing what you are doing. If you ever get overwhelmed, find an animal to cuddle with.

Volatile World

Even on a good day, the animal welfare profession is volatile. I’ve seen videos of animal control officers having a dog sicced on them as they approached the front steps. In another incident, an officer spoke with the owner, on his front porch, concerning an issue with his dog and he calmly walked back into his house and blew his brains out. Those were issues from years ago. People today have much shorter fuses.

Portland Oregon is a good example that people have been raging for such a long time that they don’t know how to stop. The greatest worry that we have as animal control officers is looking like a police officer. Police officer are being shot just for doing their jobs.

I’ve always said, “People are looking for an opportunity to express their rage.” That is truer than ever before. It has become increasingly more important for our employees who work with the public to avoid alterations. Today, minor altercations seem to lead to violent attacks. Be aware of the tools you have available to you to protect yourself. If you don’t carry pepper spray, now is a good time to start. You are likely to get into less trouble by using pepper spray than using your catchpole to protect yourself from another person.

If you don’t feel right about a situation, always keep in mind that you can walk away.

Detroit Dog Attack

Recently a four-year-old was attacked in Detroit. There is nothing new about this attack, we see articles about dog attacks every week.  What is interesting is the wordsmithing calling the dog a mastiff shepherd.  Is this someone’s attempt at avoiding the term Pitbull mix?  As of this writing, no owner has come forward.  

Also interesting is Detroit’s Animal Control pronouncement of reducing the number of dog bites from  400 to 200.  This going to be extremely difficult because we are coming out of the Pandemic in which children have been isolated for a year.  Many of us are coming out of locked doors to enjoy the fresh air.  There is something about playing children and loose dogs that don’t mix.  

During the Pandemic, we were so focused on mask-wearing that pet owners did not take this opportunity to discover the art of responsible pet ownership.  The best way to bring about a reduction in dog bites is to put more officers on the streets to round up stray dogs.  I don’t know how this is going to play out when we have entered an era of defunding the police.  Many people will see the need to take up firearms to protect themselves, but, let’s face it, an inexperienced gun owner is more likely to hit the child than the dog.  And shooting a dog that is loose seems excessive.

I don’t know what prompted Detroit Animal Control to announce efforts to reduce dog bites.  Isn’t that something that they should have been doing all along?  Was this announcement just a response to the media when asked what they are doing to keep children safe?  We all know that the only way to keep children safe from dogs is for the dog to have a responsible owner.  Unfortunately, dog owners are not moving quickly towards this end.  Whatever Detroit’s plan, I wish them every success.

Creating Your Own Hazmat Kit

It is not uncommon in our profession to be called upon to enter a house that presents environmental concerns. After visiting your first house, you will quickly decide that you need to prepare for your next.

Your first consideration is clothing. You will want disposable coveralls, shoe covers, and gloves. Most homes that will require your hazmat kit will be rich in fecal matter. You’ll want to get as little of that on your clothing as possible.

You may be going into a methane/ammonia-rich environment and a facemask will become necessary. You’ll need to decide if you want a full facemask that covers your entire face or a half mask that just covers your mouth and nose. It is important that you get the right size mask. You’ll want the methane/ammonia cartridge on your mask. If you find it hard breathing with a facemask, you can opt for a forced air respirator that takes the burden off of your lungs when trying to suck air through your cartridge filter.

You might consider purchasing a methane detector. The detector can give you the probable cause to enter the house and proved the health department the ability to condemn it. Some of the most successful operations I have experienced are working with my local law enforcement and health department. It doesn’t hurt to have your fire department’s hazmat team available. Although, I have been at locations where the hazmat teams refused to enter the home.

The most important item that you’ll want to have is flea spray when you exit the home. You may want flea spray as a regular item in all of your animal control trucks. Maybe two or three cans. You’ll be glad that you did.

Don’t forget the Duct Tape for taping the wrists and ankles of your overalls. And keep garbage bags available so that you have a way to dispose of your disposable garments when you are finished.

Each incident that you become involved with will aid you in deciding what items need to be added to your hazmat kit. The key to your kit is to keep you safe.

Use of Force

One of the worst things for the public to see is the use of a catchpole on a dog that has never been on a leash. Even the most experienced Animal Control Officer will receive criticism on a perfect capture.

One of the animal trainers from another humane society complained to me about the excessive force used by one of our Animal Attendants. As things usually go, the complaint found its way to our Executive Committee. Fortunately for us, we had cameras throughout the facility that allowed us to show the incident for all to critic.

This incident showed that the animal trainer was looking for an excuse to criticize our organization. Although the criticism was unfounded, we still had to ask ourselves if it is necessary for that particular animal to be walked on a catchpole, rather than a leash.

The decision to use a catchpole is dependant on the person’s experience and training, as well as the potential behavior of the animal. Although I hate seeing animals on catchpoles, I know that animals can be unpredictable and the safety of my staff comes first.

When you decide to use a catchpole, you should always be alert to the amount of pressure of the noose. Nothing will freak out an animal more than being choked. The noose should be only sufficiently tight enough to prevent the animal’s escape. If an animal begins fighting at the other end of your catchpole, you should not fight the animals, but rather use the animal’s movements to herd the animal to your truck. Once at your truck, position the animal muzzle away from you so that with your free hand you can lift the animal up into your truck. At this point, the catchpole is to be used to safely position the dog to prevent you from being bitten.

It is generally never a good idea to attempt to use a catchpole on a cat; however, sometimes you might be faced without the proper equipment. Always try to place the noose around the neck and one leg. Attempt to keep the cat on the ground until you can scoot a carrier or place a net to further secure the cat.

We live in a world of cell phones. If you think that your capture is going to look bad, call for additional help. Having additional assistance will aid you in a humane capture. After each capture, critic yourself. Each capture will help you decide if you are properly equipped to handle your next capture.