Poor Mr. Opossum

A poor little opossum was shot in Van Nuys. What kind of jerk would do this?

Luckily, they saved the guy. Here’s the story:


WOODLAND HILLS – It took two surgeons 3 1/2 hours to plug a 9 mm bullet hole through his head.

It may take another operation – or a total $9,000 worth of surgery – and months of intensive care to save him.

The victim: a Virginia opossum gunned down Saturday in Van Nuys.

“He’s really a lucky guy,” said Brenda Varvarigos, founder of Valley Wildlife Care in Woodland Hills, who is nursing the wounded critter. “I have a soft spot for opossums because people hate them, misunderstand them.

“Most people don’t realize that (we) would save an opossum.”

It took a village to save this one.

It was just after dark Saturday when a woman called the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services to report an opossum down in front of her apartment complex.

An adult male had a bloody hole in its head.

When West Valley shelter Officer G. Hartel arrived, she found the marsupial wrapped in blankets, defended by neighborhood children.

“Kids were standing around it; they thought I was going to harm it,” Hartel said.

Hartel, who has a penchant for diverting injured wildlife from almost-certain euthanasia, knew just where to take the wheezing animal.

At 10:30 p.m., she carried him to Varvarigos, a mother-of-three whose backyard rescue center rehabilitated 920 injured birds and mammals picked up by animal control officers last year….

Read the rest here


To make up for my lack of posting

It’s been a while since I posted. I blame the sickness. All of Los Angeles caught a cold this past week as the temperature dropped a whole five degrees for Fall. Dramatic change, people. I too caught the bug, and was in bed for a bit.

And with the new job, I’ve had less time to post, but enough with the excuses. On to the cats flushing toilets!

I promise for a more intellectual post in the upcoming days.


California’s Proposition 2

In the heat of battle for the next president, there hasn’t been much attention on state proposition this year. Sure Prop 8 has gotten some attention (the banning of gay marriage one), but as I was looking through my voter education ballot yesterday, I stumbled on Prop 2, which I have heard nothing about.

I’m an animal lover, a non-beef eater, and a pet owner, so when I saw Prop 2 I had to write about it. If it passes, farmers won’t be allowed to confine pregnant pigs, calves raised for veal and egg-laying hens from moving.

First of all, I didn’t even KNOW that these animals COULD be confined from moving! They are already abused for their goods, and then they can’t even turn around? That’s crazy. Animals can’t speak for themselves–someone has to help them.

This is what a YES vote would mean:

“Beginning in 2015, state law would prohibit, with certain exceptions, the confinement on a farm of pregnant pigs, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying hens in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.”


Groups supporting this prop are all animal-friendly, including the Sierra CLub, Humane Society and ASPCA.

Vote YES on Prop 2.

Please spend time getting informed about all the props on this year’s ballot. Some can really change lives.

Here’s  info.



I’ve always said if I became a multi-millionaire (ok, doubtful) I would buy a big house with a lot of land and adopt a lot of shelter pets to save them from their terrible living conditions and imminent death.

Well, someone beat me to it.

Four hours north of Los Angeles, Cat House on the Kings sits as a hidden oasis for hundreds of cats. While at first she may seem like a “cat lady,” this woman has given these animals an opportunity to have a life–a healthy, enjoyable life roaming the lands and climbing trees.

At the no-kill shelter, all the animals are adoptable. I’m not sure how she handles the costs, and time it takes to care for all these animals, but this is clearly a woman doing good. They take donations. Actually, they need donations to survive.  Here’s a video of this amazing shelter:


If they can get along, why can’t we?

I saw this video on YouTube a while ago, but it looks like CNN and other news sources have finally picked it up.

This guy is based in Santa Barbara, I think. A dog, a cat, a rat. If they can do it, shouldn’t we be able to?

My family had cats and dogs. I wouldn’t say they got along, but they coexisted, which is more than I can say for a lot of people I know.



News 21 – check it out.

It’s been a shameful while since I’ve blogged, but I have been living on a technological island (by choice) for the past few days, discussing our future fellowship at Harvard. The website for the project is up, so take a look. We’ll be writing about the campaign and related issues for the summer with reporters from Columbia, Harvard, UC Berkeley, and Northwestern. One of the best aspects is that because all of the reporters are relatively young and fresh, there should be some innovative ideas on the site, and underreported stories. So keep an eye on it.


In other news, I came home to my orange cat, Kodak, who I got at the pound about a year ago. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Animal Shelters in Los Angeles.


It’s a big city, with lots of people who struggle. And yet, I’ve always had a soft spot for animals—the victims who can’t speak for themselves. I’m one of those people who cries for the animals that die in war movies. I’ve never made it through Homeward Bound.


Los Angeles’ record with animals is abysmal. In just the first quarter of 2008, 2,391 cats and dogs were euthanized, up 24 percent since last year.


This past February, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed the Spay/Neuter Ordinance, a law that requires all pet owners to neuter or spay their pets. Any person who violates the law is subject to a $500 fine or 40 hours of community service. The law took affect in March.


While this would seem a respectable effort by the mayor, I doubt that those who really cause the problem—the backyard breeders, puppy mill pet shops, or owners who simply ignore the pet laws—will take this effort to heart. And really, how regulated can it be?


I doubt that all the blame can be put on the pet shelters. While several have been accused of cruel treatment of animals, they are overburdened and underfunded.


What’s worse is that this city is infested with lack-luster pet owners. So many pets are returned when they get old, and aren’t “cute” anymore. And getting an older pet readopted is often a near-impossibility. People have no dedication to their pets. They’ll throw them away as quickly as yesterday’s trash.


I know cats and dogs aren’t the most pressing issue out there right now. But the tragedy that faces these defenseless animals is still sad. Some never even get a chance. So, if you are considering adopting, please go to your local pound and relieve some stress for them and find yourself a best friend at the same time.