Return to Transcripts main page
ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Encore -- Special Investigation: Animal Issues
Aired January 1, 2009 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight a special edition of ISSUES. The focus? Animals. The adorable and invaluable companions we call our friends cannot speak for themselves, so we must speak for them.
We`ll talk about adopting one of the eight million dogs and cats that go abandoned in shelters every year: most beautiful, healthy, loving animals that desperately need homes.
And we`ll give you a glimpse into the horrific conditions of puppy mills. The shocking photos will change the way you think about buying a dog.
Also, we`ll show you why it`s so important to protect those who protect us. We`ll have remarkable and life changing stories about amazing dogs who have helped rehabilitate those who need it the most.
All that and more tonight on the special animal edition of ISSUES.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Welcome to this special edition of ISSUES. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, and this is my little girl, Foxy Lady. Tonight we speak for those who cannot speak for themselves: animals.
Every year, 6 to 8 million cats and dogs are swept into animal shelters to sit behind bars. Their only crime? Nobody wants them. Unfortunately, it`s usually a death sentence. At least half of those animals are euthanized, because they cannot find that loving home they so desperately need.
Meanwhile, puppy mills continue to irresponsibly breed millions of dogs in horrific conditions just to make a buck. It is time to stand up for man`s best friend and make sure that each and every animal gets the warm, loving home it deserves.
Joining me now, along with my little one, Wayne Pacelle, chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States; Carole Davis, actress and animal advocate and author of "The Diary of Jinky: Dog of a Hollywood Wife"; and Bill Smith the founder of Main Line Animal Rescue.
Carole, I want to start with you, because you and I, full disclosure, we`ve been on the protest lines together against the puppy mills. Very few people who buy a dog actually see where that dog comes from. They`re often told this fairy tale of, "Oh, the ma dog is playing knee deep in grass at some farm." Describe what`s really going on when it comes to these puppy mills.
CAROLE DAVIS, AUTHOR, "THE DIARY OF JINKY": Well, I think what`s happening is that people are buying dogs on Internet Web sites that are completely phony, and people are going into pet shops for a convenience, like they`re buying some kind of a pocketbook or something, when the actuality is, is that there is a deliberate -- a deliberate hiding of the facts.
What`s going on really is that the dogs, the breeding dogs are in a canine super max prison. What the people don`t ask when they go into the puppy store is, "Where is that puppy`s mommy?" It`s being held in a cage for the rest of its life, and it`s bred and it`s bred and it`s bred until it`s dead. It`s really sad. There are horrendous conditions. And we wish that people would ask the very tough questions instead of looking at it just as a luxury item that you walk into a store and buy.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wayne Pacelle, you are the chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States. How big is the problem? How many animals are getting killed in shelters? And how many hundreds of thousands of animals are these breeders breeding, nevertheless, even though every time they breed a dog, another dog gets put to a shelter?
WAYNE PACELLE, CEO, HUMAN SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Jane, you framed it perfectly at the beginning of the show. Six to eight million animals are coming into animal shelters, private humane societies and SPCAs, as well as public animal care and control agencies, and half of them are not getting out alive.
At the same time we have perhaps 10,000 puppy mills in this country. Missouri is the puppy mill capital of the country. Oklahoma, Kansas, other Midwestern states are big. Bill Smith on the show, who you`ll be hearing from more here, he led a fight in Pennsylvania to get a great puppy mill law. And Carole was fighting puppy mills in Los Angeles with you and others.
So progress is being made, but we`ve got a lot more work to do to stop these puppy mills. Too many dogs are being produced when there are too few homes for the animals in shelters.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Bill Smith, you`ve been on the front lines. You have actually experienced before and after with these dogs. I believe one of the dogs` names is Shrimp. Tell me the story of a typical dog in the puppy mill and then once you get it out.
BILL SMITH, FOUNDER, MAIN LINE ANIMAL RESCUE: We pick them up every week. The farmers call us, the Amish communities, Mennonite communities in Pennsylvania. Ninety-nine percent of the breeders that we deal with are Amish -- are either Amish or Mennonite.
When we go out to pick up these dogs, most of them are malnourished. They`re living in rabbit hutches stacked to the ceiling, standing on wire, rusted wire, no water, ulcers in their eyes. They perform their own Caesarian sections, which is legal in Pennsylvania. They debark them with pipes to break their vocal cords so their neighbors don`t know that they have 700 dogs living in their barn.
Most of the dogs that we pick up are not properly socialized. We have a program at our shelter that rehabilitates these animals. Sometimes it takes days. Sometimes it takes months. A few of them we`ve actually had for years. They`re just not treated very well. I mean, that`s an understatement, to say that they`re not treated well.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you said you had a dog named Shrimp.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And there was a before and after. Tell us about that.
SMITH: Well, Shrimp, I picked him up about a year and a half ago, and I ended up keeping Shrimp. You`re probably seeing a picture of what Shrimp looked like the day that I pulled him from an Amish facility in, of all places, a place called Paradise in Pennsylvania. They all have these really cute, quaint names.
But Shrimp was handed over.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Paradise is hell, is what you`re telling me. That`s the before picture right there, and then we`re going to see in just a second the after picture after you rehabilitated him. There`s a happy dog. There`s a normal looking dog.
SMITH: That was six months later, and I just became attached to him so ended up keeping him. But he`s an amazing dog. When we picked him up he could barely see. The ammonia levels in these places are just unbelievable. The -- ulcers in their eyes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: From the urine.
SMITH: From the urine.
SMITH: And a lot of the breeds are particularly -- are affected by these. Boston terriers, Shih Tzus, any dogs with bulging eyes, most of the dogs that we get out of those breeds have eye problems.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my gosh. Now listen...
SMITH: Some have dental problems.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes. I mean, look at the pictures we`re looking at. And it`s all preventable, Carole. I mean...
DAVIS: It really is.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look, some people say, "Oh, I want a dog from a breeder because I want -- oh, I have a daughter or I have a son. I want it to be healthy." This is such nonsense. This little guy, this little girl that I got -- hey baby.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She is a rescue dog. She`s healthy. She`s smart. She`s well behaved. She is probably healthier than the average dog that comes from a breeding facility, correct, Carole?
DAVIS: That`s -- that`s absolutely right. What a lot of people don`t know is that the dog that you would spend a thousand dollars for or two or three thousand dollars for might get abandoned and end up in our shelter system.
So there are dogs like this one, who is my dog, Lamby (ph), who I got out of the Los Angeles shelter, who might very well have been a puppy mill dog. And what people don`t know.
So what I`m telling people now is, you know, the thousand dollars that you would have spent buying a dog that is from a puppy mill and a pet store or on an Internet Web site that`s phony, take that money, give it to a family in need. OK? And then go to the shelter, relieve the city`s municipal shelters. Get a dog. Save that dog`s life. And it`s a win-win for everyone. And I promise you that a shelter dog is so grateful and a rescue dog`s kisses are so sweet.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and you know, Wayne Pacelle, we always have to follow the money, don`t we? Because a lot of breeders say, you know, "We care about animals," but one thing all of us have in common: we have never sold an animal for profit. One thing all the breeders have in common is that they sell animals to make money. Follow the money. Right, Wayne?
PECELLE: Well, and they deceive people, frankly. We just released the results of an investigation to Petland, which is essentially the largest commercial seller of puppies in the country. Their store operators tell folks, "We don`t get dogs from puppy mills," but we did at the HSU have done a nine-month investigation that showed that`s precisely where they were coming from.
Dogs from these facilities, also, that were being sold at Petland came from puppy mills with U.S. Department of Agriculture violations. But even more than that, you look at these places, and we went to them with our undercover investigators. These are puppy mills. These are factory farms for dogs where the dogs are just seen as a cash crop. They`re churning them out. They`re not playing with them. They`re not socializing. They`re not giving them proper vet care. It`s just the wrong -- you know, it`s just the wrong way to handle these animals. And we all need to be part of the solution. Get dogs from shelters and breed rescue groups, not from these pet stores.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. And I just want to say, in a public statement Petland has said the company does not support substandard breeding facilities and provides each store with guidelines on humane care. They say that these stores are operated by qualified franchisees and each is responsible for choosing healthy pets offered to Petland customers. So, you know, that`s their side of the story.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But the bottom line, Bill, is that people continue -- this is a consumer problem. They continue to buy dogs.
You know, I was talking to somebody yesterday, a couple of days ago, who said, "My dog has papers" and was bragging to me about the papers. Like I was just -- I didn`t want to say it, but I`m thinking what a moron. You know?
PECELLE: We have a drawer full of papers back at our shelter. And that`s the biggest joke that these people are pulling on the consumers and uninformed consumer. They add $300 to the price of the dog, and they`re worthless. They`re absolutely worthless. They are no guarantee of good health or sound temperament, and they know it. They`re laughing at the consumer every time they say that this dog comes with papers, quote unquote, "papers."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. What papers? There`s a bad joke there. Carole, 10 seconds.
DAVIS: I was going to say the papers aren`t worth the kind of paper you use to wipe yourself with.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Well, you said it. I didn`t. All right.
Fabulous panel. Hang tight.
I`m going to be back with our panel as we continue our discussion of the horrific conditions puppies face in puppy mills and what you can do to help. Up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB BARKER, FORMER HOST, "THE PRICE IS RIGHT": And please remember, help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered. Good- bye, everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bob Barker`s legendary signature signoff for "The Price is Right" is more than an iconic bit of TV history. The importance of spaying and neutering your pet cannot be overstated.
Well over three million cats and dogs are euthanized each year at shelters across the country. That`s a fancy way of saying killed. The vast majority of them are healthy, loving animals, just like the one I`m holding, my little Foxy Girl, that just need a home.
By the way, I found her dodging traffic in Fresno. She`s a shelter -- there are hundreds and hundreds and thousands of dogs just like this in shelters across the country.
Back with me once again along with Foxy Girl is my fantastic, animal- loving panel: Wayne Pacelle, chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States; Carole Davis, actress, animal advocate, and author of "The Diary of Jinky: Dog of a Hollywood Wife"; and Bill Smith, the founder of Main Line Animal Rescue.
Bill, for so long animal advocates have been trying to get the message out that there is never, ever, ever, ever a need to buy a dog. That you can find pure breeds with breed-specific rescue groups.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And a good percentage of shelter dogs, as Carole mentioned, are purebreds.
SMITH: Are purebred dogs.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why is it that, still, so many people don`t get it? Smart people, people with big incomes and fancy jobs, still go into stores and buy dogs. You know, it just -- it blows my mind.
SMITH: It`s just out of ignorance, and also I think that our government and our various agencies actually support them. I mean, with the USDA, what they do, they give them the stamp of approval. So if you go into almost every pet stop -- I`m sorry, pet store, it`s the first thing that they tell you, that "our facilities where we raise our puppies are USDA inspected."
Well, the USDA does a horrible job enforcing the laws. And the Animal Welfare Act is just -- a friend of mine calls them survival standards. I mean, they`re ridiculous. Six inches, if your viewers put their hand up, if they put their hands up six inches from their faces, that`s how much a Golden Retriever, that`s how much space a Golden Retriever has for ten years in these places. It`s six inches. It`s the body length of the dog plus six inches. That`s it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And they`re just -- they`re just bred over and over again.
SMITH: Yes. Yes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: They`re inseminated, for lack of a better word, over and over again, and they become pregnant. And they have these dogs and immediately impregnated over again.
SMITH: Until -- until the day they die they never leave those cages.
We put up a billboard not long ago that was actually rather successful. We put a beagle -- we photographed a beagle inside a dish washer to illustrate the amount of space that they`re required to give an adult dog that size. And so that dog could stay in there for 12 years and never be removed.
They don`t provide them with veterinary care.
The thing that we`re pushing for right now is to stop this -- this insanity, where these farmers can perform operations on their own dogs. Caesarian sections without anesthesia.
We`ve seen bulldogs strapped up in barns. And we`ve taken in dogs whose intestines were hanging out, because these people were cutting puppies out of their bellies. This is -- this is barbaric. I can`t believe that, in this day and age, this is actually still going on.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And this is happening in America.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And, Wayne, it seems the U.S. government, even though Americans love dogs, even though Americans are decent people who get furious when they find out about these atrocities, the U.S. government doesn`t seem to care. I mean, the USDA, to say that this is a low priority, that`s the understatement of the century.
PACELLE: You know, the U.S. Department of Agriculture really views its mission as promoting the sale of agricultural commodities, and a lot of the folks at puppy mills are farmers who have puppies as a cash crop on the side. They`ll be producing pigs or soybeans or some other crop. Then they`re also selling puppies.
And the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you know, really doesn`t make the laws. I mean, the Congress is to make the laws, and the USDA is to enforce the laws. The laws are so weak. That`s why this coming Congress in January there`s going to be new legislation introduced to address the long-term confinement.
Now, you mentioned these animals die in their cages, some of them. The breeding females have it the worst. They are bred every single heat cycle, and they are churning out puppies for their entire lives. They`re on wire cages, stacked up as Bill indicated. This is inhumane. If the public saw what was going on, they would demand action.
And your, Jane, you know, bringing this to light, that`s what needs to happen. The public needs to wake up and stop supporting these mills. Just because the dog happens to be pampered looking in a pet store doesn`t mean that`s the full story. There`s a back story here. And the females at these puppy mills are the most abused of all.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Carole Davis, don`t believe what they say when you walk into a store.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean, you`re sold a bill of goods and literally told this wild story where they paint a picture. Ask to go there, right? Because when you go, they won`t let you go there.
DAVIS: No. What you have to do when you walk into a pet store -- first of all, you should never walk into any store that sells live animals, period. But if you absolutely have to get a dog that`s a puppy, which we should change that, also. I mean, people should -- should look into adult dogs. But when you go in you have to ask, "Hey, how many times was the mother bred? Can I go to the address where the dog was whelped? Can I see for myself? Can I talk to the breeder? Can I meet the mother of the dog?"
And they have lied to my face with an undercover camera. I walk into stores under cover. They have no idea who I am. I walk in, and I say, "I`m interested in this puppy." And I say, "Where is this dog bred?"
And they lie to my face, and they tell me the dog is bred in a home. And I say, "What happens when that dog is retired?"
"Oh, it goes back into the family."
And then we send out investigators, like HSUS does, and we`re so happy that they do. And we see the truth, like you`ve seen in all these pictures.
So the pet stores around the nation are lying to the public. We are fed up with it. And don`t think that the Internet is any better, because when you go -- when you go and you look at the Internet Web sites and you see these dogs romping in fields with poppies, this is bologna. It`s very easy to take a picture of a dog in a green field and out of the frame what it is, is a picture that you`re seeing on this show. That`s what`s going on outside of the frame of that picture.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And not these pretty pictures but the awful pictures of the dogs in the cages.
You know, this is an international problem, the problem of pet overpopulation. Recently I went to Puerto Rico, which has a pet overpopulation crisis. And I was working with many of the good people there who are really fighting to rescue as many dogs as they can. But they -- they`re not able to keep up with the dogs because they don`t have the funds to spay and neuter.
The other side of this whole issue, Bill, is spay and neuter. One dog can have two or three litters a year, six to 12 puppies in the litter. Do the math. One dog left unspayed becomes thousands of dogs in a very short period of time.
There you see some of the dogs in Puerto Rico. And this woman you`re looking at is just a good citizen. Out of the goodness of her heart she goes and feeds these dogs every day, but they`re not spayed. She doesn`t have the money to spay them. And we are working to try to get the government of Puerto Rico to create a spay-neuter program. That`s what`s got to happen across the world. Isn`t this an international problem?
SMITH: Yes. And also in the United States. I know that -- I`ll tell you, not the AKC, has tried to stop that in a number of cities because, you know we have our God-given right to breed our dogs, which is insane. If they went into some of the shelters in Philadelphia -- we have an excellent shelter, Howard Nelson, the Pennsylvania SPCA, he does a fine job. We have another animal control facility.
If the AKC -- the AKC could see how many poor pit bulls were put to sleep every day and how many puppies were put to sleep every day, I don`t understand the rationale behind it. It`s not our God-given right. Our God-given -- it`s their God-given right to be treated well.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I want to thank my incredible panel for shining a light on this obscenity. Thank you, Carole, Bill, Wayne. Come back soon.
Up next, on factory farms across America, calves, pigs, hens crammed into cages without enough room to stand up or turn around. Californians have done something about it. We`ll tell you, next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to switch gears for a moment from puppies to talk about the millions of other animals subjected to horrifying conditions. On factory farms across America, calves, pigs, and hens are crammed into cages without room to even stand up or turn around.
Thankfully, Californians decided to do something about that. They voted to pass Proposition 2. It`s a measure that requires factory farms to give animals enough space to stand up, turn around, and extend their limbs. It`s that simple.
Full disclosure. I fought very hard for this proposition.
With me now, Gene Baur, president of Farm Sanctuary, one of the organizations leading this fight for better treatment of factory farm animals. Gene is also the best-selling author of "Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food."
Gene, great to see you.
So many Americans who love animals have absolutely no idea of how animals raised for food are treated. What are the conditions for most pigs, veal calves and hens, and how many animals are we talking about experiencing these conditions across the United States?
GENE BAUR, PRESIDENT, FARM SANCTUARY: Well, every year in the United States, there are 10 billion farm animals that are raised and slaughtered under inhumane conditions. And many of these are confined so tightly they can`t even walk. They`re in cages that are barely larger than their bodies. They can`t stretch their limbs.
In the case of egg-laying hens, for example, they`re constantly rubbing against these wire cages, and their feathers rub off. And they have bruises and abrasions on their bodies. And they`ll live that way for about a year before they`re finally called spent hens and then sent to slaughter.
So we`re talking about ten billion animals totally. And in terms of intense confinement for egg-laying hens, we`re talking about 250 million animals. We`re talking massive numbers.
But it`s important to remember that each of these are individuals. Each of these animals has feelings. And we believe each of them deserves to be treated with respect and with compassion.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And this is an environmental issue, as well, is it not?
BAUR: Absolutely. When you confine that many animals in one area, you have massive amounts of manure that is created. And, you know, the land cannot absorb it, so it tends to get into waterways and to pollute our water and to pollute ground water, even. So, yes, it`s an environmental problem. It`s an animal cruelty problem. It`s also a human health problem.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, one of the reasons I got involved with this entire movement is that I`m an investigative journalist. Ad I did investigative reports and actually saw a pig gestation crate, which I had never seen before. These are the pretty pictures of pigs the way they say that they look, and the goats on farms. But America`s farms don`t look like that anymore. There is a huge disconnect between the way we are told farms operate and the way they really operate. Why is the reality kept hidden?
BAUR: Well, I think the reality is kept hidden because most people would object to the cruelty that`s become commonplace. I mean, bad has become normal on today`s farms, where the animals are not seen as living, feeling creatures. They`re seen more as commodities, as production units.
And they`re pushed very hard. You know, they`re put in cages barely larger than their bodies. In the case of egg-laying hens, they produce about 270 eggs per year each, which is a major drain on their bodies.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to talk about pigs, because we`re looking at pigs right now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pigs, how high an I.Q. do pigs have? And how are they kept in these gestation crates?
BAUR: Well, pigs are smarter than dogs, according to many studies, and they`re kept in these small two-foot wide gestation crates for years, unable to walk or turn around. They`re constantly rubbing against these metal bars. They have sores on their bodies. They`re standing on concrete floors. They`re totally uncomfortable, and they suffer lameness as a result of it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And they go psychotic, don`t they?
BAUR: They do. They have both physical and psychological disorders as a result. And they engage in neurotic coping behaviors, such as bar biting. So they`re driven mad, essentially.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. It`s the organization Farm Sanctuary. Check it out on the Internet. A great group.
Thank you so much, Gene.
When we come back, we continue our special hour on animals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every dog that I came contact with was either a fighting dog or like really just a guard dog, really like made to be mean, made to be scary and scare people. But when I came to this program, I started seeing a whole different way of training dogs as you were seeing earlier. More with love, teaching them games instead of choke chains and grabbing them.
It just changed my whole perspective and my whole way of thinking. You can get a whole lot more love and affection than you would trying to throw your weight around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HN ANCHOR: That was just one prisoner whose outlook on life totally changed after being rehabilitated by shelter dogs through a program called "Another Chance at Love."
The inmates live with the dogs and train them using a non-aggressive method that focuses on love and affection rather than violence.
The relationship gives them the tools to understand behavior and communicate more effectively and respectfully in real life with people. Dogs really do have a remarkable power to transform the lives of the human beings they touch.
Joining me now is Tamar Gellar, author of "The Loved Dog" and self- described life coach for dogs and the ones who love them. Tamar, you`re the go-to trainer for huge stars including Oprah Winfrey but dogs can also transform the lives of people in trouble.
What is it about the unconditional love that animals like this little girl offer that breaks down the hard shell of even the toughest guy?
TAMAR GELLAR, AUTHOR, "THE LOVED DOG": You see, dogs don`t look at you in your physical appearance. Dogs don`t judge you for what you`ve been, whether it`s good or whether it`s bad. They don`t care if you are a billionaire or they don`t care if you`re in a gang, all they care is right now; that in the present, with you, with what you are giving them. They are giving you a fresh start each and every time.
And you know, we don`t get that opportunity in any other place in our lives.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: How do these prisoners change? What is the transformation that they go through when they learn to deal respectfully and lovingly with a dog? How do they take that and translate that into more appropriate behavior with human beings they encounter in real life?
GELLAR: I tell you, Jane, this is just unbelievable. It is so moving to see the transformation. One of the kids that we have in the program became a father when he was 13. And he was very closed off. He was very tough because these are the rules of the streets. You cannot show emotion. You cannot show vulnerability.
And yet when we come in with the "love the dog" method we require the kids to be affectionate, to be expressive. So instead of saying, sit, good sit, we are not in the army. We ask them to say sit. That`s a good sit. He took what he had learned to do with the dog and transferred it to his two children, 2-year-old and 5-year-old. And the kid is only 18 years old.
For the first time he it on the video that we have that he have learned what it is to be patient. What it is to be expressive with his love, what it is to smile. These are just the basic things that we don`t even think about but they come from a different culture. It`s a culture of toughness.
And the dogs just very softly, like water breaks a rock, dogs love like very softly break them, and break the hard wall that are put around them and bring the diamonds that they have inside them out.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is such a wonderful story and I just love this kind of work that is done to unite people in crisis with animals. And it happens in many different forms. We`ve had stories of people who are ill, paralyzed, even working with horses --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- and that transforms their lives.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There are so many unwanted animals in America. There are so many people in crisis in America. What can we do to bring them together so that they can heal each other and help each other?
GELLAR: I love your question. I really love your question because the thing is that people don`t realized that when we put to sleep approximately five million dogs a year, it`s like throwing away money. It`s throwing away unbelievable resources of rehabilitation because we use these dogs to rehabilitate in my program "Another Chance for Love" where we rehabilitate juvenile prisoners.
But we`re also starting this month to work with wounded marines. Marines who are not so injured that they need to be in hospitals but they all suffer from PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder and other issues.
And we are now starting this program, again, only shelter dogs. We do not breed these dogs.
-- because you know what? Why do we need to breed Labradors when we have all these unbelievable dogs put to sleep each year? And they have the exact same mental capacity, the exact same emotional capacity that we are just killing, euthanizing.
So we`re taking the shelter dogs with juvenile prisoners, with the wounded marines, and we are really creating a new world where everybody gets a chance to have another chance at love. I mean, when you look at these dogs who have been dumped, the fact that they have been dumped doesn`t mean that they are wrong. I mean, come on, Jane. We`ve all been dumped before.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes. I`ve been dumped and that`s for sure.
GELLAR: Who hasn`t been dumped? Hello.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: For sure.
This little baby was dumped somewhere and I picked her up and she`s an angel. She`s got the personality of about a dozen people. And you know what? I can`t wake up and have a bad morning because she wakes up every morning; it`s Christmas morning. Every morning she`s filled with love and excitement for the day ahead. It`s contagious.
GELLAR: It is contagious.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So am I. I get filled with excitement for the day ahead and we go and walk and we have fun and, you know, there is so much in this society that can be done to make the world and America in particular more dog friendly.
Everywhere I go it`s no dogs allowed. Some of my friends say I would love to have a dog but my apartment doesn`t allow it. Even outdoor cafes and sometimes that you can`t have your dog here even though it`s outside. I never got sick from a dog. I`ve gotten sick from people.
So how do we change the mentality to make America more animal friendly, to realize, hey, nature put these creatures here for a reason? They`re not our enemies and they`re not commodities. They are our companions.
GELLAR: And more than our companions. They are family members. Because, you know, these dogs are sleeping at night in our beds. And yet we`re still healthy so what is the issue if they go to the restaurant and laying under the table with us?
But I believe that is changing. When my book came out about a year and a half ago, I was blown away by the reaction because this is the first book that talked about raising a dog as opposed to training a dog. It`s the first time that is talking about celebrating a dog`s feelings as opposed today a dog needs to be submissive and obedient.
GELLAR: A child doesn`t need to be submissive and obedient.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. It is a metaphor, Tamar. It is a metaphor for our approach to life entirely.
GELLAR: That`s exactly.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And the day that we are truly compassionate to animals is the day that we as a species will be incapable of waging war and committing horrific violence on other human beings.
Tamar, thank you so much for your wisdom.
GELLAR: Thank you, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bye, bye dear.
For a soldier returning from abroad they not only look forward to reuniting with their families but also with their beloved pets.
But what happens when a soldier leaves for his or her tour of duty? What if they can`t find somebody to care for their dog or cat while they`re serving our country?
My next guest came up with an answer -- find temporary foster homes for military pets.
What a great idea. Guardian Angels for Soldiers` Pets is an organization devoted to matching foster parents to every soldier`s pet that is left with no care taker.
With me now is Linda Spurlin-Dominik, founder of Guardian Angels for Soldiers` Pets. Linda, bravo. I am so glad you thought of this idea. I often think of it when I see soldiers going off to war; when we see men and women going off to war.
For most Americans they are looking at the wife or the husband or the children they`re not thinking of the pet. But that`s probably what the soldier`s thinking of, because they love that animal. They`re often devastated because that dog has nowhere to go.
How do you fill in the gap? How do you help?
LINDA SPURLIN-DOMINIK, GUARDIAN ANGELS FOR SOLDIERS` PETS: Well, we work with the soldiers, those deploying or started with the soldiers that were deploying to help them find a home where they didn`t have a family member or a friend that they felt comfortable in leaving their pet with.
It`s true. They are companions. They are a family member. They`re not property like furniture and so forth.
So we started putting the word out and asking people if they were interested in taking, opening their home to a dog of a military person who was deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. Because we`d found out that due to deployments, example in Alabama, or Georgia, excuse me, in 2005, there had been deployment of 14,000 men and women to Iraq.
And the next morning when the animal control came through the area and they picked up 433 dogs and cats. They found homes for 318 of those but the others, the remaining animals had to be euthanized because there was no place to keep them.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is, I think, a crime, that somebody goes off to serve our nation and the reward that they get is that their dog is put to sleep? It makes me so angry. And I am so happy that you are doing something to rectify.
There should be policies in place at the U.S. government does something when somebody`s give -- these poor soldiers they suffer in so many ways. They still have to pay the bills at home. They still got to care about their families at home.
There are all sorts of things that don`t go away. Real life problems when they go off to fight in war. The one thing they shouldn`t have to worry about is their dog being put to sleep.
Now, let me ask you, how many animals have you been able to help in this manner and are the soldiers able to communicate with the foster parents so they can see how the pet they love so much is doing?
SPURLIN-DOMINIK: Yes. We`ve got 39 dogs and cats right now fostered throughout the country in individual foster homes. We have 14 since October of `07 through February of `08 that have been reunited with their owners following deployments.
That`s a reunion that you have to see it to realize what it means to that soldier when they come home. We have 170 requests throughout the country right now to place pets in temporary foster homes due to deployments, between January first and April of `09.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So basically, if somebody wants to be a foster parent they could contact Guardian Angels and get involved and open their homes and really provide the best gift you can to a soldier who`s going off to war.
Give them the peace of mind that their little critter is going to be well taken care of.
SPURLIN-DOMINIK: Right. On our Website, we have a "foster a pet" link. It explains the program, what`s expected of the foster home. And mainly it`s providing a caring, loving, and safe home.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. That`s the final word, Linda. Thank you for your very patriotic work. Love it.
Ratchet was an Iraqi dog rescued by a U.S. soldier from a burning pile of rubble. Now Ratchet has ratcheted up his lifestyle enjoying life in the United States of America. I`ll have this Iraqi dog`s amazing story.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Welcome back to this special edition of "ISSUES."
Believe it or not, dogs play a vital role in protecting our country during war time. Some 2,500 dogs are currently working in military units. Thankfully the efforts of these dogs have not gone unnoticed.
A $15 million veterinary hospital for four-legged personnel just opened up in Texas to help treat their war wounds and health issues. They are a valued asset to our military and for some soldiers dogs become a vital part of their support network. Sometimes you find that kind of special friendship in the most unlikely of places, even at war.
Army sergeant Gwen Beberg found her best friend in a pile of burning trash in Iraq. She named the puppy, 6-month-old Ratchet.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The sight of a plane is reason for Pat Beberg to ask someone to pinch her.
PAT BEBERG: A few butterflies.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Pat has butterflies to meet a dog.
BEBERG: This is finally sinking in.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A dog found in a burning pile of trash in Iraq, now surrounded by cameras at Minneapolis-St. Paul international. Ratchet has come halfway around the world.
MR. BEBERG: It`s hard to even talk.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: His journey has come full circle.
MR. BEBERG: You can`t imagine how exciting this is. This dog is really important to my daughter so it makes it important to us.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Specialist Gwen Beberg from Spring Lake Park is still serving in Iraq. Her troop mates found Ratchet, then a puppy, in a burning trash heap on Mother`s Day.
Gwen adopted and cared for him, but her attempt to get him home caused an international controversy. Operation: Baghdad Pups finally retrieved him from Iraq on Sunday.
P. BEBERG: My knees are shaking.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Today Ratchet seems oblivious to the moment; just kind of nonchalant.
P. BEBERG: He`s been through a lot. It`s just incredible. He`s so little. Well, he`s so young. He`s growing.
MR. BEBERG: We wish Gwen was here.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Gwen e-mailed from Iraq on Sunday writing, "I`m very excited that Ratchet will be waiting for me. Words can`t describe it. That`s the only thing in my head -- great thankfulness."
It took 65,000 people to sign a petition and one dedicated volunteer to bring Ratchet to Minnesota.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s so worth it because these dogs are just priceless to these individuals and to their families.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Specialist Beberg may be home by Christmas; until then she is reassured Ratchet is home waiting.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Such a touching story. Earlier I had a chance to speak with the woman who made Ratchet`s trip home possible. Her name is Terri Crisp and she is from the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International and the program manager for Operation: Baghdad Pups.
Terri, bravo. Congratulations. Your organization has brought about 56 dogs and six cats from Iraq to the United States.
And you know what? This is what`s amazing to me. You can`t tell an Iraqi dog from an American dog. They don`t bark differently. They don`t wag their tails differently. What is the plight of dogs in Baghdad who have been struggling to survive in the midst of war?
TERRI CRISP, OPERATION: BAGHDAD PUPS: Well, even before the war, life was pretty rough for dogs and cats. The people as a whole just have very little regard for their lives and that`s part of the reason why these men and women that are serving over there have taken them in because they just feel so sorry for them.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Apparently there are rules that say that service members cannot rescue or adopt a dog but clearly occasionally they look the other way. Do you think they need to change those rules? Because the service members are under such stress in Iraq and we all know how having a dog in your life can really ease stress and bring you joy that you can`t find anywhere else.
CRISP: That`s so very true. I mean, they have to have guidelines. I mean, it wouldn`t make sense if it was just opened up to everybody to bring in a dog or cat. It`s not even necessarily in the best interests of the animals to do that.
But through Operation: Baghdad Pups we`ve come up with a way where we can get these animals the veterinary care that they need, get them safely brought to the United States and then reunited with that soldier or marine once they return home.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now it cost about $4,000 to get a dog out of Baghdad and there are a lot of dogs that have bonded with U.S. soldiers and vice versa but these soldiers simply cannot afford to have these dogs come back even though they desperately want to in their hearts.
There is something that people watching can do and it`s very easy. Go to spca.com and then you click on Operation: Baghdad Pups and you can make a donation.
What is that money going to go to?
CRISP: That will go towards bringing more of these animals home. We`ve brought home a total of 75 this year and we`re expecting to have as many or more next year. We currently have about 50 animals on our waiting list and just after the first of the year, we`re going to begin resuming missions. And we`re really going to need that financial support to make that happen.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, I think this would be a fantastic holiday gift. I think I`m going to do this as a holiday gift for some of my friends. Instead of giving them a gift, I`m going to go to spca.com, click on Operation: Baghdad Pups, make a donation and send them a card and say, "I helped get a dog out of Baghdad and it`s your holiday gift." What do you think?
CRISP: I think it`s a great gift and it`s not only helping the animals but it`s certainly helping our military. And what a great way to thank them for the sacrifices that they`ve made for all of us who are back here at home.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Helping a soldier reunite with their beloved animal is indeed a small price to pay for troops who put their lives on the line every single day. Gwen`s reunion with Ratchet promises to be a very emotional but very happy reunion.
I wish I was there to see it.
Coming up, I`m going to wrap up this show and look into the evolution of thinking towards animals with my very own family, Cobbles and Lucas. Next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re back wrapping up our special animal edition of "ISSUES." Throughout the years I`m noticing a promising trend, we`re slowly evolving in the way we think about these little critters.
And not just pets, they are partners. Instead of just animals, they are our friends and they`re our companions.
Back with me again, Wayne Pacelle, chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States. Wayne you deal across the board with all animal issues. Is the national consciousness changing when it comes to animals? I`m not just talking about dogs, pigs in factory farms, elephants in zoos, animals exploited for fur.
How is the nation`s thinking changing?
WAYNE PACELLE, HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES: Jane, you know, there are a lot of problems that we`re seeing with animals. It keeps us very busy at the Humane Society of the United States. We would really be remiss in not noting the incredible progress that`s being made.
People are recognizing that animals have the same spark of life that we have. They have the same will to live that we have. More and more people are recognizing we have responsibilities to them. It`s not so much about animal rights and about the animals; it`s about us. It`s about being kind and decent and compassionate to these creatures. And there are so many indicators about rising concern about animals.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. And there`s still this double standard. As much as I love dogs, I know a lot of people who love dogs and cats but have absolutely no consciousness about other animals that have just as many feelings, just the same IQ as a dog or a cat. Tell us about that.
PACELLE: You`re right. We love our pets. Certainly there are lots of problems with pets. There are still too many animals being euthanized. There are puppy mills. There`s dog fighting. But we`re making good progress on all these fronts.
But you know I think a lot of people would assume that farm animals, animals raised for food, are a category of animals that we`re not too concerned about. But really, 2008 was the year of the farm animal.
We at HSUS started the year off with an investigation of a slaughter plant in southern California that shocked the nation; it shocked our conscience. Downer cows being abused to get them into slaughterhouses. The public knew that these animals were minutes from slaughter but they were appalled at the treatment.
Then last month in November, California voters passed Proposition Two to stop the intensive confinement of laying hens and breeding pigs and veal calves and get them out of these cages. What an overwhelming victory.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that`s the thing.
That was an overwhelming victory. The consciousness is changing. Americans are decent people. When they find out the truth, they do make the changes.
Wayne, thank you so much.
Remember, if you`re thinking about adding a furry little addition to your family, adopt them and spay or neuter your pets. This is one of my favorite "ISSUES." Thanks so much for joining.