Friday, May 31, 2013


Last week, very late one evening I found out that a dog was going to be euthanized the next morning.  He was sentenced to execution after a severe biting incident with one of the family’s one-year old twins. At the same time many others were writing to me to please contact the family. Could AWL help this family and dog?

As with all biting incidents, I wanted to know the full story, and also to get more documentation and facts from friends and veterinarians. I started to search for the family’s phone number and several people that knew the family texted them to call me. I was amazed by the help I received from people that I didn’t know.

At 21.00, I finally got in contact with them.

The family was very upset and heart broken. Many different emotions were tumbling around inside of their hearts and minds. Their love for Mozart, a Dachshund --- he had been their baby for seven years --- was colliding with their horror and concern after he had suddenly bitten their one-year-old so badly in his face. They had to go to the Emergency Room and ultimately the boy’s face required 15 stitches.  Imagine a small doll head with 15 stitches!

They don’t know how badly scared their sons face will turn out growing up, undoubtedly, some plastic surgery might be required in the future.  When I spoke to the mother, her voice broke down many times as she told me about the incident. You could hear the guilt in her voice, because she thought they had been protective towards the children knowing that Mozart had always been food aggressive. The family had always kept the twins away from the dogs at feeding time, and no treats around when the kids were there. The only explanation the mother had as to why this biting had happened, was that out in the garden Mozart and the other dog chased lizards and were keeping guard.  The twins were also playing in the garden. The mother was also outside, but for just a moment had turned her back --- which is when it happened.

In any unexpected situation, a normal human seeks an explanation to explain what happened and why. One’s mind is spins with all the emotions like a tornado --- with guilt, fright and desire to protect.  Had a lizard come between the little boy and Mozart?  It was the only explanation the mother could come up with.

The veterinarian would see Mozart the day after the incident, to go through an examination and evaluation. In that exam, Mozart was declared to be not sick.  Mozart came home with the family, and had to stay for 10 days in quarantine and then would be euthanized. What horrible torture!  The family cried!  Mozart didn’t understand why he was quarantined and kept away from his pack. They just couldn’t bring themselves to go through with the euthanasia!  He’d been with them so long. They asked for help, among friends on FB.

The day came for Mozart to be put down! The mother asked her husband to please let them wait a couple of more days. Maybe someone would show up? She was praying for an angel to relieve them from the task they didn’t want to do.  But they couldn’t keep Mozart, frightened that something else could happen between the dog and one of their twins again.  It was clear, Mozart could not be together with them.

Three days past the deadline we found out about this case.

I asked the couple for a few extra days to find a solution. The family was very helpful. I was very thankful since I had in the past met so many others who just said, “no the dog has to go, NOW!”

I called Martina and told her the story; we both loved rescuing when we knew that something wasn’t wrong with the animal. Martina got in touch with an Italian rescue organization in northern Italy that are very well known for adoptions of this special breed. To find the best family, they had a great working team in behavioral and training skills that Mozart first had to be screened by. They didn’t want to send a dog that they didn’t know anything about to a new family, for the concern and safety for the dog. In the wrong family he might come back, or worse. Better to know and understand the dog and then find the best family for his temperament and needs. Many families responded in the northern Italy, and the organization would have time to evaluate them while evaluating Mozart.

Every day I maintained contact with Mozart’s family to tell them about our plans. After a couple of days, Mozart was ready to travel to Rome where a lady with other dogs would start the new journey in Mozart’s life, evaluating him for his future. Mozart’s original family said he was protective of the family around other dogs, so this lady would determine the extent to which this trait existed among her other dogs.

Volunteers Barbara-Ann, her husband and their daughter Chloe-Rose picked Mozart up at the family’s house, to take Mozart to the lady in Rome.  What mixed emotions Mozart’s family experienced.  On one hand, they were “happy” that Mozart would get a second chance in life, that someone had been able to help him stay away from the executioner.  But at the same time so heartbroken to have to say good-bye to their long-time little buddy.  Barbara-Ann told me that you could see their love for this little dog.

The journey started first to Rome, and Mozart loved every minute of the travel. Everyone that met him he touched their hearts, such a positive little guy.  The evaluation lady told us that Mozart is doing great. You could see that he had been so much loved by the family. He always wants to be up close and cuddled.  I can report that Mozart is doing wonderfully, has found new friends, and we are waiting for his new life up North to begin. Stay tuned as this story unfolds.

With dogs and people, every case is unique.  A lot of “home work” needs to be done especially with professionals in the relevant fields.  A family dog bites for different reasons, the cause always need to be investigated. Too often, it is the dog that loses the case --- and his life --- even if he isn’t entirely to blame. The dog cannot talk and defend himself.    Re-homing the dog, in this case, is often the preferable solution, and while it is traumatic for the dog to be uprooted from his pack, it is better than the alternative (euthanasia).   The most important thing is to keep the family in the contact during the transition.

Many people say, “never leave children alone with a dog.” Of course, this is very good advice.  But, as a mother I know that an accident can happen in the blink of an eye. I also know that different children are different towards animals. When people ask me how a particular dog is with children, I can never answer 100% accurately. There are so many variables: It depends on the children, on other dogs in the household, on what activities are taking place at the given time, on food. We had a case were a dog nibbled (no stiches) two children.  This dog met other children and never bit again.  It is neither the children’s fault nor the dog’s.  Many times it is the provider that hasn’t taught the children animal manors.  

Yesterday, a lady told my son how to say hello to a dog. Then she realized who I am and blushed, apologizing saying, “Your son knows this better than anyone.”  Yes he does, but I have to remind him very often, it is easy to forget. Never stop educating your children or yourself.

I don’t defend any dog that bites but I know there is always a reason. Every case has to be looked into with many open eyes and educated minds for everyone’s safety…. and mostly for the dog’s very life.

That’s Amore!

Grazie Grande;

St Fransesco Roma, Serena, and Patrizia , Chiara Biagio, Sora Lisa.


 Little Minnie was rescued yesterday from a hard life as a breeding machine.
For many years Minnie was locked in, churning out litter after litter.
Later on in life, she was thrown out in the garden, together with a puppy
that wouldn't let her be alone.

Minnie is old, has no teeth, is so tired, and her fur is in horrible
condition. At only 2-3 kg, she has had to carry a heavy burden thanks to the
worst of we humans.

(picture volunteer Chiara with Minnie)

Guardian Lady Tonia rescued her and came with her to our Hospice last night.
Minnie now has her own room, with a warm bed. The volunteers simply love
We have many people that want to adopt her and we are so thankful for all of
their love. But first, it will take a little time; both to research the
possible families to pick the best, and Minnie must also see a veterinarian
Wednsday for health tests.  

Then, if the veterinarian says ok, she will have
a SPA day with our lovely volunteers.

Please help sponsor Minnie through the process toward getting her very own
forever family.  We want her to have a wonderful life for the rest of her
years, and need to set her up for success.  Blood, erlichia and leichmania
tests will need to be performed, and perhaps some dog pates' (Ceasar)
provided to pamper her palate a little as well.

Your help = Amore

 (volunteer Angy together with sister Ernestina cutting off  matted hair )
(suspecting tumore)

Monday, May 27, 2013



Grieving is one of the hardest things to get out from under, and many times grieving can lead into depression. When people leave their animals to be euthanized at the vet, they don’t think about the burden they are handing over to the veterinarians. 
Veterinarians feel the emotions too.
I didn’t think about it until I read a book last night, wherein they mentioned that many veterinarians commit suicide. As with anything human, the factors can be many, but certainly it is tied together with stress. 
Many times we forget that the veterinarian is a feeling and loving person, one who wants to help animals and their owners. Some clients have become friends over time and are very old friends, the veterinarian having followed them from puppy to Senior. Several times the veterinarian also grieves when they help very sick and dying animals to cross the Rainbow Bridge. But as professionals, they cannot show their emotions; they have to stay strong for our sake. Otherwise, we would question them. 
(How hypocritical is that?  We want them to be caring in their treatment of our loved-ones, but would question them if they show emotion?).
Our grief or sometimes selfishness is so strong that we don’t see the human in the veterinarian clothing’s, behind those glasses and clinical behavior. 
It’s a selfishness that even I sometimes possess, one who has worked together with veterinarians for twenty years.
I admire many veterinarians.

They have to comfort me because I am totally devastated to lose my friend. And many times we demand that they should know and be able to fix every problem with our animals.
But think of all these animals that we bring in, that are totally healthy and we ask the veterinarians to end their lives.
 “Kill them!”  The owner might say its better for the animals. (Normally, it is just more convenient for the owner.) 
Is it better for the veterinarian to do that?  
When people come in with a healthy animal to be euthanize, I wish they would be the one to look into the animals eyes while they put the needle in the dog’s vein, and at the same time say, “This is what is best for you!”
I never knew we had so many animal communicators on this planet that actually knew what was best for the animals!  What I find kind of ironic is that these people actually know what’s best for their animal but never seem to in their own lives.
Veterinarians are there, working to save lives not to make a persons life easier when the animal is inconvenient in his or her life. Or having “rescued” an animal, kept him for two years, then kills him when it is time to move.  Hello and goodbye!

When a healthy animal has been requested to be put to sleep, the vet team’s hearts break as well. Once, I was in a clinic when that happened, and the energies just changed dramatically to a big thick, sticky, grey fog. It was like I couldn’t breath in there. No one said anything, but you could feel it.
It has been known for a long time that for a pet owner, losing an animal can be more devastating than losing a human.  We shouldn’t be surprised that it also affects those who treat and often euthanize our pets, too.
According to some research done in the UK;
  • ·      Vets have high-stress jobs due to early competition for admission, compassion fatigue, long work hours, oversized client expectations and physician-level economic indebtedness with half an M.D.'s earning potential. The stress starts early and continues through their career.
  • ·      Working solo as many do, means greater isolation.
  • ·      Vets have to perform many “healthy” euthanasia’s every year without their capacity to save the animals.
  • ·      Vets have access to drugs --- heavy and lethal drugs. They can use these drugs illicitly very easily, privately and quickly.
  • ·      U.K.'s male veterinarians suicides between 1982 and 1996 all injected themselves with lethal doses of a common barbiturate; the drug vets most often have to euthanize their clients.
  • ·      Six U.K. vets commit suicide every year, a significant number in a population of just 16,000 veterinarians in the country.  We can surmise that many times more are clinically depressed, self-medicating and coping in silence and private.
  • ·       Many veterinarians are pleasers. Feelings to making the owners and clients happy, of course that adds to their stress levels.  Sometimes they cannot meet their clients demands, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-flagellation in a mixed emotional pot
  • ·      Vets are very sensitive. Of course not all are, but they care in a more deep way than the average person does about those who cannot speak for themselves deserve to be treated.
  • ·      Vets have planned long and hard for their careers. They have invested their identities in this profession and suffer disillusionment very acutely once the realization of our dissatisfaction hits them.

Why I brought this up is that when I learned about it I realized that even I am guilty of forgetting the person standing in front of me also are conflicted with emotions.
Are we polite and humble when we go to our vets and ask them to help us with our animals? I know for sure after learning about these facts I will think extra hard. The next time I will bring a box of chocolates or a card that my children have painted. 
I want them to really understand that I do appreciate them and what they are doing for us: pet owners and rescue persons.

That’s Amore!
Mia Mattsson-Mercer (c) 2013

Saturday, May 25, 2013



The days went by so fast, and still it was simply amazing to be down there at the hospice and among our volunteers. The weather was awful, though.  Cold and rainy, so all our summer clothes were left in the suitcases. I had to borrow Pio’s boots and Martina’s jackets. But the missions continued, who cares about the weather anyway!

We were bagging at the NEX on the NAVY Support Base and it was very fulfilling for mind and donation boxes. They are such wonderful, generous people, and loving to chat with us. I got to meet so many lovely people; it was a great, busy day.

Amy Gardner put together the schedule and organized the effort; and we got help from Chloe-Rose and Lia  Jolenee stepped in and helped show me how to pack properly and how the Americans wanted their purchased items put in the bag.
We collected the amount of $612 that day, tired but happy  --- and pleased.
Olivia was standing, handing out our AWL fliers, so sweet and charming to the adults. Thank you to all the volunteers who participated,  you made a fantastic result.
Thank you the  Naples U.S. Navy Community, for helping us to make it just a little better for the strays in the Campania region.

Amy Gardner gave me two very interesting and lovely books.  After reading them, I highly recommend them.  I read them with my children, and they enjoyed them very much as well.  They are about dog and cats going to heaven. Simply beautiful and comforting; and educating for both children and adults. Thank you Amy.

The next day the sun came out, totally lovely. We bathed the puppies and a group of wonderful children came and helped by washing all our crates. 

The Mercer and Funk children had so much fun helping us. Later on we washed Cassandra and Leona that later on in the week would go with me up to Germany were the next AWL team would pick them up for the final leg of their journeys to new forever homes.
We were very sad, however, to discover that a big dog had been tied to our hospice fence. Someone had just stopped and brought him out and tied him up along the fence. A local British Lady, Lynn, had stopped and given him food and water until our volunteer Pio showed up. We couldn’t have him at the hospice and had to drive him to a lady that would look after him in her big garden. We had to pay her and we were not happy for this, a problem being handed over to us. We had enough of our own problems and didn’t want people to start leaving dogs by the fence, or worse throwing them over the fence into the hospice’s yard!
But before dropping him off at the lady’s house we drove him to Dr. Fransesco for castration and a health test. Henry was wonderful. He wants to be around people.
We are desperately seeking a home for him since he loves people and big gardens.

 Henry is such a sweet, big, goof. Do you know of a home for him?

Thursday, May 23, 2013


There are many people out there in the world that are helping us AWL to be able to work, rescuing animals. Without your help we cannot give them any help;  medicine or surgeries. Food to starving dogs, de worming and vaccinations to Puppies. Or, our Senior Dogs at the hospice.

When treated and healed we fine super wonderful homes for them. To you, you are the strongest link in our chain, Team Italy. That's Amore!

Irena Lamadrid, Sweden
Michelle Gunter "Franka" earmarked puppies. USA
Julie Blair, UK
 Derek rescue by AWL, now having an easy life! Thank you sponsors.
 Our great volunteer Ryan, and his admire from the hospice Stella the Handbag (always want to be carried)
Our small rescue brats that are waiting to be transported to their new families, Germany and Sweden.

Tracey Kleber, USA
China Platou, Sweden
Gennie Greer Day, donated twice "puppies" USA
Clinton & Melissa Gunter "medical help to Franka" USA
Gunilla Tomasson, Sweden
Tracey L Nettles, "our long time monthly sponsor" USA
Helen Dale, USA
Elisabeth Biddle, USA

Franka rescued after many years in shelters. Senior at the hospcie. Barbara with family sponsored one day at the SPA!

Carina Lidbom, Sweden
Ulla Linders 'Capri & Phillipo"  Sweden
Else Marie Pedersen "Gaby", Sweden
Annica Wadstrom, Sweden 

Eva Nordstrand, "Franka" Sweden
Patricia Edwards, Sweden

Elisabeth Kruse, Denmark/Germany who is a great sponsor in every project we have. In one way or another, she is amazing.

Ann Livs Grollmeister, Sweden
Anna Persson, Sweden
Marie-Louise Andersson, Sweden
Henrik Ahlberg,  Sweden
And one donation it only says;- With Love!
One of Rosies pups that was rescued by AWL. That's Amore!