Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Housing Problem in Santa Cruz

Only TWO bedrooms for $2k and it even has a back yard but NO PETS ALLOWED!
In case you've been living under a rock, the housing market in Santa Cruz County is ridiculous. Rents continue to become higher and higher and more and more landlords are saying NO PETS.

I get it, some people allow their pets to damage properties. But how does this happen? How is this allowed to happen? Leases should state repairs need to be made by tenants who own pets. There should be an extra deposit, stricter guide lines and policies.

I think landlords just don't want to deal with any repairs at all—Which is lazy and irresponsible on their part. We all know there are plenty of "slumlords" in Santa Cruz, a majority of them rent out crappy, tiny, illegal studios and units. The bigger issue here is the landlords! Rather than go the responsible moral route, landlords take the easy way out and flat out don't allow pets at all without any negotiations. This is why we have such a huge homeless population or both human and animal kind alike. People can't find housing in Santa Cruz that allow pets. If they do, they have massive restrictions: No dogs, weight limits, one cat only, ten gallon fish tanks, extra (enormous) deposit + MONTHLY pet rent(!), breed restrictions or even a limit on how many pets you can have.

While searching for places, I stumbled across Capitola Gardens; "Luxury" apartments that say: "Dogs and cats ok!"......"Breed restrictions may apply." By "may" they mean they do and if you have a "Bully breed" you're screwed.

Here's a piece from the Santa Cruz SPCA's website regarding pet friendly rentals:
"According to the Humane Society of the United States, if all rental housing units permitted pets, approximately 6.5 million animals could be placed in homes.  All too often, shelters are filled to capacity with perfectly healthy, friendly animals that simply weren't allowed to move with their families.  At the Santa Cruz SPCA, we have established a list of pet-friendly rentals available in Santa Cruz County to assist residents with their search. "
Now this list has an incredible amount of restrictions. Such as those I listed above. Below is a small sample of places available in SCC: (Link:

As a tenant with pets, here's what you can do to state your case: (From the Santa Cruz SPCA)

  • Have your pet neutered or spayed, since altered companion animals typically behave better and don't have heat cycles or spray. Plus, it's the law in Santa Cruz County.
  • Bring up the subject of pets in person with the property owner rather than over the phone, if possible. Personally presenting information about yourself and your pet may help convince the landlord to say yes.
  • Gather references from former landlords, neighbors, obedience instructors, and veterinarians. Include such documents as proof of spay/neuter, records of up-to-date vaccinations, indications of regular vet visits, and obedience school diplomas. 
Sample Pet Reference PDF:
  • Write a pet resume. Highlight the qualities of your animal, such as: able to stay alone quietly, housetrained, doesn't chew or howl, etc. Explain how you exercise your dog and how you've helped him learn to be calm, how you keep your pet clean and flea-free, and how the fact that your animal is spayed/neutered will benefit the landlord. Include an attractive picture of your pet at rest. 
Dog Resume Sample:
  • Encourage the landlord to meet your groomed, well-behaved pet in your current apartment or elsewhere.
  • Besides having your pet altered, have proof of vaccinations, rabies vaccination and current county license for dogs. 
  • Offer to sign a pet agreement and pay an additional pet deposit as necessary.
  • Remind landlords that responsible pet owners make responsible tenants.
  • Offer to have the carpets cleaned at move out. I have offered this and it really does help. Plus, it's the right thing to do. For smaller apartments, it really doesn't cost that much and there are lots of places in SC that offer great prices on carpet cleaning. *
After you move in:
  • Always clean up after your pet.
  • Give your animal enough exercise so that he or she is calm in the apartment when left alone at home.
  • Never let the dog or cat roam outside; keep your animal on leash.
  • Be a great representative for all pet-owning tenants.

Advice for landlords:

  • Require a specific pet deposit or cleaning deposit. Preferably refundable. 
  • Have a place in the lease that states tenants are responsible for any extra repairs needed made by their own pets. 
  • Encourage responsible pet ownership: Require proof of an altered pet, vaccinations, rabies, license, etc. 
  • Have a "clean up" policy. * (See asterisk above)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

DIY Tennis Ball ornament!

I am so excited to share this awesome DIY tutorial! I originally found the idea on Pinterest shared by Lola the Pitty, but the original post came from Just Something I Made.

The original tutorial used a wood burning tool to burn the name of the dog. I don't have one of those but knew I could think of something using the materials I had. The original DIYer suggested giving this to a dog as a toy, which I do not recommend.

I got the balls from the Dollar Tree. (Two for $1!) They came in a variety of colors, including red and green for Christmas!

I cut an X on the top, to stick my silver tinsel string. You need a fairly thick ribbon or string to assure that the loop doesn't come out.

I used my die cutter machine to cut the names. Once using a specific stencil material that didn't work well and caused bleeding and one just a regular vinyl that I use for car decals. The vinyl worked much better, but when you pulled it away after painting (I used acrylic paint), it pulled all of the fuzz on the ball kind if smearing the lettering. I'm sure there are other ways to do this and I will definitely be experimenting with those!

If you don't have a die cutter you can print out the letters and use an Exacto-Knife to cut them out. You could also probably use Sharpies instead of paint. You could also do glue with glitter or puff paint.

It's fairly simple and cheap to make and are fantastic gifts! (Bonus: The balls I purchased already had paw prints on them!)

The whole "Purebred vs Shelter dog" debate

Photo credit: Dayton Daily News
Yesterday on Twitter, there was a post about an adoptable dog and someone had replied with "well their adoption fees are more expensive than some papered purebreds.. People would adopt more if it was more affordable!" My first thought was: That's exactly why animals are in shelters; For YOUR affordability. (Ironically, this person calls themselves a "Pit Bull advocate." See: Abuse of the term "advocate.")

This brings up many points:

"Papered" means nothing. It's literally a piece of paper with no value. Any so-called "breeder" can register anything, even mutts. And I'll tell you right now, if you paid $100 for a dog with "papers" those don't even prove the dog is of pure bred lineage.

There are pure bred dogs in shelters.

Most shelters have fees under $200. So think about what you're actually getting if you're purchasing a dog for this little with "papers" that are "pure bred." (Many times, a sick, unvaccinated dog)

Shelters have fees for a reason. Many are open access, which means they cannot turn any away animal that comes through their doors. Many are government run which means any funding they get only provides the bare minimum.

These adoption fees include: Spay or Neuter of the animal, age appropriate vaccinations, de-worming and microchipping. (Some even provide a leash/collar) You will get none of that if you buy a dog for $100 on Craigslist or in the WalMart parking lot.

Less than $200 for all of the above is not "expensive" by any means. Again, look at what's included.

Animal shelters don't exist to provide "cheap" pets to people. They exist because of irresponsible breeders and owners. They exist because of pet overpopulation. They exist because there is a lack of resources. Not for your convenience.

I am not against responsible breeders by any means. "Responsible" being a breeder that does NOT BREED FOR PROFIT. A GOOD breeder does NOT make a profit. Period. In fact, a good breeder loses money and puts it towards the health and wellbeing of their dogs. What you're paying for is health testing, champions, etc. A responsible breeder breeds for health and temperament first and foremost. Responsible breeders do not breed mutts. (That's a whole other can of worms!)

Photo credit:

The takeaway here is: Not only is the initial "fee" for a shelter dog worth its while, you are literally saving the lives of TWO dogs. The one you adopted and the one who took its place. 

If you think buying a dog for the price of a shelter dog is somehow more "reasonable" or "more affordable" think again. Once you break it all down, the person who I quoted above really doesn't make a compelling argument, do they?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Senior Care

Photo courtesy of Paws & Purrs Pets
Caring for your senior dog can get complicated and overwhelming. You might feel like you need to feed a food targeting towards "seniors."

What's important is a healthy food, and the proper supplements and age appropriate exercise. You might need to make special accommodations for a senior that might have trouble walking, seeing, or hearing.

Bone & Joint health:

Starting joint supplements early in your pups life can reduce future joint problems. A supplement with glucosamine and chondroiton is the best. Omega's are also excellent for bone/joint health. (Not to mention skin and coat) Recommended supplements: Pet KelpMissing Link, Cosequin. If you notice your pup having troubles getting around, it's time to call your vet. Things like stiffness, trouble getting up, limping or lameness are things you need to look out for and definitely call for a visit to the vet.

Keeping your dog fit, and keeping the weight off will also reduce joint related issues.

Skin & Coat Health:

Omega's are excellent for the health of your dogs skin and coat. Supplements such as coconut oil, salmon oil and other fish oils are excellent. These can help a dog with dry skin or allergies.

Healthy food:

A healthy diet is the best thing you can give to your dog. You want to choose a food with more meat than fillers or grains. Grain-free food is best. (Especially for dogs with allergies) Raw diets are excellent if you can stomach it! But there are freeze-dried raw foods that are easy to feed, and dogs love them. With a healthy diet free of grains, your dog will poop less. Isn't that what we all want?!


Having a bed to sleep on that is firm for your senior dog greatly helps to relieve pressure on aging joints. There are orthopedic beds, and beds that are elevated off the floor—Helping them to get up and down easier. (Rather than struggling to get off the floor which can be hard on dogs with arthritis or hip problems.)

Kuranda Beds are excellent for older dogs. (And great for shelter dogs!)

Can you believe this beauty 9 1/2 years old?! A Healthy diet, exercise and an indoor lifestyle are the key!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Goals for Santa Cruz Dogs

I wanted to share with you my goals for Santa Cruz Dogs in the near future.

SCD was sprouted from a love for Bully breeds, and a need for local outreach.

My main goal for SCD is to be able to provide free services to local dog owners, such as: Spay and Neuter, vaccinations, microchipping, food and general supplies.

To do this, a fund and/or Amazon Wishlist needs to be created, and supported by public donations. Because it is difficult (and very costly!) to become a Nonprofit Organization, we are still working on that. I'm hoping to find someone who can help me through this process, as that hasn't been too easy either.

My very first, and most important goal is to make Spay and Neuter FREE specifically to bully breed owners residing in Santa Cruz County. Once we're more established and have the funds for it, I'd like to offer it for ALL dogs within the county.

To accomplish these goals, we need your help! Volunteers, donors, or anyone who has some advice! Please shoot me an email if you can help. (Or need help!)

Friday, August 8, 2014

When "low cost" isn't enough

"Low cost" is great, but "free" is better. Especially when it comes to animal care. Many people love their pets, have good intentions, but can't always afford the necessities. That doesn't mean someone who has trouble affording regular pet care costs shouldn't own an animal.

Lack of affordability can lead to more animals in shelters; Because the owner couldn't afford proper identification, spay/neuter, or vaccinations for example. We want to keep these pets in their home, while making sure they get what they need. 

Santa Cruz County has a mandatory Spay/Neuter ordinance. To encourage people to alter their pets, the Planned Pethood program offers $50 spay and neuter to Pit Bulls & mixes, and Chihuahua's and mixes. It's $100 for any other breed of dog. Is that really "low cost?" How many folks have an extra $50-$100 laying around? Not to mention additional required services such as a Rabies vaccination ($10), License for an altered dog ($29), and microchip ($15) that adds up to $54 in addition to the $50-$100 Spay/Neuter fee! You're looking at ~$154 for non-Chihuahua's/Pit Bulls. Even with the Pit/Chi "discount" you're looking at over $100.

If you're going to require a procedure, doesn't it make sense to make it free? The resources are there, yet it still isn't free. If spay and neuter is free, there's no reason NOT to do it! Your pet benefits, animals in shelters benefit, and it will save your wallet in the long run! 

The same goes for vaccinations and microchipping. Rabies vaccinations are required (cheaper to get done at the shelter, than the mobile clinics), but do come at a cost. Other vaccinations, for Parvovirus for example, are so important for the health of your dog or puppy. Parvo is deadly, and expensive to treat. Prevention is the best medicine! This also applies to testing for cats for AIDs and Leukemia.

"FREE" Pet Food Bank

The Santa Cruz SPCA has a "free" pet food bank. What was once a "no questions asked" opportunity is now a "show proof" thing. They now require proof of Spay/Neuter of your pet(s). There are some cases where folks can't even afford to SN their pets, (see above) let alone feed them. So is it fair to punish the pets of folks who cannot afford to SN? Or be made to feel like they are committing a crime because of lack of affordability? If someone cannot even afford to feed their unaltered pet, what makes you think they'd be able to pay the nominal fees? Not to mention, how many people have proof of SN of all of their pets? Alienating pet owners does NOT keep them out of shelters, it fills them. If you're going to offer something for "free," make it free for EVERYONE

BAD RAP's "Keep 'Em Home" project
Santa Cruz Bullies & Buddies aims to do much of what BAD RAP has accomplished; Keeping pets in their homes by utilizing FREE services. Other amazing organizations have also jumped on the "free" bandwagon such as Downtown Dog Rescue, North Central Shelter Intervention Program, and Beyond Breed

We're getting our stuff together in order to receive donations to get the ball rolling. These donations will go straight towards a Spay/Neuter, vaccination, and microchip fund. In addition to free services, we also hope to provide food and supplies to those who need it. We're currently in talks with local nonprofits to partner and support this project.

If you are interested in volunteering, or want to help us reach our goal, contact us! We'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How to be a good neighbor

Edit: August 2014: Unfortunately, this particular dog has caused quite a disturbance in the neighborhood, resulting in many complaints to Animal Control. All they have received are notices thus far.

Recently, a new family moved in next door, dog in tow. They had an invisible fence installed, which tipped me off to the fact that they have a dog. The previous tenant had no animals, and was very quiet, and respectful.

What I have noticed about the new tenants is their fairly large dog, whom I encountered on my property just the other day. I had just pulled into my driveway, luckily I had not let my own dog out of the car yet. I got out, and noticed this dog in my driveway. I walked towards it, and it began to growl at me. Apparently, it had gotten out of that “invisible fence.” Today, I went out to check the mail, and the dog was outside with its family, barking at me as I walked down my driveway. I had heard it barking earlier in the day. Not a great way to welcome yourself to the neighborhood.

So that brings me to this weeks blog post! How to be a good, and respectful neighbor, and responsible dog owner!

Keeping your dog in your yard

In general, is it never a good idea to leave a dog outdoors unattended. Keeping your dog safely indoors and secured is not only good for your dog, but yourself, and your neighbors as well. Again, making sure your dog is occupied while home alone. If your dog needs further confinement, a crate, or a small room is a great idea. This keeps your dog safe from getting into something that could potentially harm him, and keeps your belongings safe, too. 

This is one of the most important things you can do for your dog, and your neighbors. Make sure your fence is escape proof if you must leave your dog outdoors. If you do leave your dog outdoors, make sure it has something to do, shelter, and water. Nobody wants to hear your dog barking all day long. Not only does that reflect poorly on you as an owner, but it’s also a nuisance. 

Here's an article written by Our Pack founder, Marthina McClay: "Dogs and Backyards"

If you have an escape artist, here’s a great idea for fence jumpers: 

How to do it:
  • Buy PVC pipe ( 1/2" and 3")
  • Wire cable
  • L-brackets
  • Eye bolts and nuts
Attach the L-brackets on either side of the fence. You may need to reinforce it at key areas along the fence line, depending on the size of the fence. Run the wire through the small 1/2" PVC pipe. Thread that 1/2" PVC pipe through the 3" PVC pipe. Attach the wire to the end of the fence with the eyebolts. {Credit}

Proper identification

If you dog does escape, make sure your dog has proper identification. Easy to read ID tags, and a microchip. There are collars now with permanent identification options: Embroidered text, and engraved tags attached to the collar. (As opposed to tags that can fall off) And here's a cheap idea from BAD RAP: Write your contact info on your dogs collar with permanent marker! 

Know where your dog is at all times

It’s 4pm, do you know where your dog is? Seriously, pay attention to where your dog is! 

It never ceases to amaze me how many people have no idea their dog has gotten out of the yard, or the house. Once again, I’m outside in my front yard playing ball with my dog, and my neighbors dog comes out of nowhere and beelines for her. My neighbor is no where to be found. I had to grab and remove her more than once. 

Earlier this week, I was driving through my neighborhood, and found a very large Lab wandering around in the street. I pulled over and he came right up to me, and had proper identification, so I was able to put a leash on him and walk him home. His owners were very appreciative, but again, had no idea how he got out. What I appreciated about this particular situation was that a) The dog was actually friendly (Unlike the dog at the beginning of this post) and b) The dog had proper, and legible, identification. Both are helpful in getting a dog home safe and sound. (He was also excellent on leash!)

The takeaway here is: Keep your dog secure! A dog at large is a danger to everybody, not to mention your dog could get hurt, hit by a car, stolen, or picked up by animal control. Keeping your dog under restraint is the law! 

6.12.010 Dogs at large prohibited.

 The owner or caretaker of any dog found in violation as described above may be contacted by an animal control officer or peace officer and issued a citation for the violation. If the owner or caretaker is not present, and there is no reasonable way to secure the dog to the owner’s or caretaker’s property to prevent subsequent violations, it may be impounded. If a dog is impounded from the property where the owner or caretaker is not present, a notice of such impound will be left with information about the nature of the impound, the name and address of the impounding agency, and an indication of the ultimate disposition of the dog if it is not reclaimed within a specified period of time. [Ord. 4503 § 3, 1998].