When Is a Dog Rescue Not a Rescue?

A rescue organization closing is rarely a good thing for dogs and dog lovers. The case of Precious Pups, a dog rescue group based in Calverton, New York, might just be that rare example when it is.

Precious Pups was closed down by court order this week after allegations that it was little more than a glorified puppy mill, subjecting dogs to animal abuse. According to people who’ve adopted dogs from the organization, it regularly adopted out dogs who were sick, sometimes to the point that they die days or weeks after arriving at their new homes.

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Deborah Maffettone

Deborah Maffettone, for example, told a CBS crew she adopted a poodle from Precious Pups, only to have the dog die 36 hours later from starvation.

"We've got eight dogs documented that came out of the shelter with 20 percent less body weight," she says.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says that there were many more complaints about dogs coming out of Precious Pups.

"The representations they made about the health of the dogs, that they received veterinary treatment were all false," Schneiderman told CBS. "We subpoenaed them, they refused to comply with the subpoena."

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Adoption fees for dogs from Precious Pups ran from $ 300 to $ 600 with no background checks or screening process, according to clients. The company's Yelp profile includes several highly detailed and highly critical accounts of bad dealings with Precious Pup's owner Laura Zambito.

One woman, writing as "Tina F," says that Zambito asked her to provide a foster home for several dogs.

"I completed an application to foster but never received a foster agreement," she writes. "My vet and personal references were never checked, nor was a home check done."

Nevertheless, she fostered three dogs but says they needed more than $ 900 in veterinary care. Health problems included heartworm infection, pneumonia, and sutures from previous surgeries that had to be removed.

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Activist Lisa Ludwig

According to Schneiderman and other critics, this kind of situation was typical of practices at Precious Pups. Animal activist Lisa Ludwig, a longtime critic, said, "This is a dog-flipping operation. So many people have been stuck with thousands of dollars in vet bills and dead dogs too."

Zambito has denied all charges, on Yelp and in court, and claims that the entire situation is the result of a malicious smear campaign against her. Precious Pups is fighting the charges in court. Zambito told CBS she plans to reopen: "We will be telling the truth in court. We will be presenting the facts with our attorney. So there is no further comment."

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Maffettone says the real problem is bigger than Zambito or Precious Pups -- there's no oversight or regulation for who is or isn't a legitimate rescue operation.

"Our main goal and the big picture here is to regulate rescue," she said.

What do you think? What kind of laws are needed to make sure that rescue operations are legit, and that dogs find good homes?

Via CBS New York, Shut Down Precious Pups Facebook Page, and Yelp

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The Grottaglie Dog

This dog was lolling around outside a bar in the Italian village of Grottaglie in Puglia.  It’s a village famous for its ceramics and when I was lucky enough recently to participate in Carla Coulson’s fabulous Caravan Travel Photography Workshop, this is one of the villages we visited. We photographed inside 4 different ceramics factories that day – of course they are all very small – a fascinating day – as were all the days on Carla’s workshop.

This dog is probably old and perhaps not very well. Perhaps a stray who hangs around outside this bar.


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Thank you for hosting this event – and sharing the…

Thank you for hosting this event – and sharing the information with those who could not attend. Workshops like these are critical to moving forward and making progress for the dogs. I hope to attend next year!

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Latest Skin Allergies News

6 natural tips for flawless skin
… which can ultimately cause or worsen acne. Stick to whole grains, proteins, vegetables and fruits, and your skin will show the difference,” says Dr Lohia. Choose fruits that are natural sweetners over packaged pieces of chocolates to keep skin
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Is air pollution bad for your skin?
But what about other toxins we encounter outside? Especially in urban areas, air pollution can become a serious issue. In fact, toxins in the air can cause skin allergies and eczema. Soot and dirt can collect on the outermost layer of our skin, leading
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Hypoallergenic Nuts: A Solution to Nut Allergies?
Within minutes, his skin erupted into hives, and his eyelids swelled shut. His mother, Laura Hass, rushed him from their Palm Beach, Florida, home to the ER. At a red light, she glanced in the rearview mirror — her son's head hung limply to one side
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Health Column: You probably do have food allergies
Skin “prick” tests or serum RAST testing for allergies will test for this reaction. In actuality there are three other immune reactions, one of which takes 12-72 hours to really get going after a trigger is encountered. The main antibody in this immune
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Ebola, the real bogeyman, and you

Ever since I was 15, my sister and I have used “Ebola” as a short form derivative of every bad bug we’ve ever gotten. “Oh god, I’ve been laid up all day with Ebola,” “that taco from last night gave me Ebola,” etc, etc. We were able to say it with such offhand tone because we knew that really, Ebola wasn’t exactly a threat here in Southern California. It was simply shorthand for “really sick.”

After reading “The Hot Zone” I stopped saying the word at all. Faced with the visceral reality of what hemorrhaging out of every orifice is really like and the panic it engenders in local communities, it didn’t seem so funny a hyperbole. That stuff is scary. You should read the book if you haven’t, which will not only make you start washing your hands a little more, it will also help you appreciate the new role veterinarians are facing as the front line against emerging zoonotic diseases.



Ebola is scary, very scary, don’t get me wrong. But we’re probably not about to be thrust into the middle of the next Zombie Apocalypse, which is what many people are expecting if my Facebook feed is any indication. If you’re in the mood to freak out, be my guest, but let me give you a better thing to be worrying about. The number of people losing their marbles over two US citizens being flown in within a self contained bubble is pretty silly when you look at all the other scary things facing us every day that, while less camera-ready than a guy in a space suit stumbling into Emory, are much more likely to truly mess up your day.

Remember: A person with a known diagnosis, held inside a containment unit, isn’t the problem here.

The guy coughing on the plane home from Heathrow who feels like garbage but doesn’t want to miss his daughter’s birthday party? That’s going to be the problem. The traveller who takes 4 Advil before hitting the thermal imaging cameras at the Shanghai airport to fool the system into thinking she doesn’t have a fever? Or the person who doesn’t even realize they’re sick until after he or she gets home? There’s the problem, at least so far as Ebola is concerned.

But Ebola isn’t the problem I’m so worried about, not really. As awful as Ebola is, there’s a much bigger tsunami lurking in the background and it’s already here.


When the associate director of the CDC tells us, “We’re in the post antibiotic era,” THAT makes me panic. And it’s already happening.

The Real Losing Battle

We forget how recently antibiotics have developed in the annals of medical history- Alexander Fleming’s famous penicillin discovery only happened in 1928, less than a century ago. Before that, we were routinely felled by scrapes, coughs, childbirth, urinary tract infections. We’ve done a good job keeping apace of bacteria’s insanely effective evolution to defeat the antibiotic’s mechanisms of action, but we’re finally losing the battle.

It’s the result of a multitude of causalities: a slowdown in new drug development and approval. Misuse of antibiotics in both human and veterinary medicine. The ability for antibiotics to be used over the counter in food production facilities. The latter is now being removed thanks to the FDA’s Guidance 213- taking antibiotics back behind the prescription pad, where they belong.


But it may be too little too late. The last line of defense in treating drug resistant infections, carbapenem, is now itself encountering resistant bugs. THIS scares me. It should scare you too, more than Ebola, even if Ebola makes people bleed out of their eyeballs. Bacterial infections can be gruesome too, CNN. Is that what it’s going to take?

In the meantime, I do not want to get a fever. Because if I get a fever someone is going to think I have Ebola thanks to the current media frenzy and then I’ll have to go to a hospital, where the real enemy is waiting to kill me. I’m avoiding hospitals like the plague (which is another disease that responds to antibiotics and might not in the future.) DANGIT, we just can’t win, can we?

Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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Amazingly Embarrassing Moment

600 Brilliant Blog Post Ideas 

If you all were here for my post last week, you will understand the whole thing with the 600 Brilliant Blog Post Ideas and where it came from, but if not, you can check it out here. If not, then read on. 

494. Amazingly embarrassing moment.

Read more »


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Dogs and Obesity

According to a recent story in the Daily Mail, the worldwide obesity epidemic is also affecting our dogs. (Which they call “Broader Collies” and “Flabradors” – LOL) They also cite an interesting cause for the problem. The article states that at least one of the reasons why so many dogs are obese is because so […]

Doggies.com Dog Blog

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A Farewell Sale and a Thank You

Now and then, I’ve shared some of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of my eco-friendly clothing line, Mountains of the Moon, here on the blog.  It has been a huge part of my life for a very long time.  Before I started this blog and the art shop, it was, for many years, my full time job.  It allowed me to travel all over and have some really incredible experiences while providing a good living.  It began as a labor of love right out of college, and grew into something substantial that taught me invaluable lessons about entrepreneurship, and life too. I’ve mentioned here, in a couple of posts on small business, how things began to change a few years back – and how, as a result, it has slowly become less and less of a focus for me career-wise.

Last week, I made the decision to close the business.  It was not a decision that came easily, but it was time to let it go.  Today, I emailed a letter to Mountains of the Moon’s customers and email list – over 15,000 wonderful, loyal people for whom I’m very grateful – explaining our decision.  I decided to post that letter here as well.  And for those of you who are fans of style-conscious earth friendly apparel, we’re having a huge 75% off sale today and tomorrow as well.  (Woohoo!)  There are details about this sale and a coupon code at the end of the letter.  Thank you for letting me share.

Our (Huge!) Farewell Sale and a Thank You

Dear Friends,

Mountains of the Moon began 15 years ago in a tiny Oregon apartment, with some fabric scraps and a hand-me-down sewing machine set up on a cardboard box.  I was right out of college and didn’t even own a computer.  At the time, there was no such thing as “eco-fashion.”  There were a few companies who produced garments made from hemp and organic cotton, but I wanted to take things further.  I had a vision of designing fashion-forward collections that were earth conscious without sacrificing style.  I decided to call the line Mountains of the Moon (after my favorite Grateful Dead song), and began sewing one-of-a-kind designs and selling them at music festivals throughout the country.  To my surprise, people liked them, and they sold out – again and again.  I continued to sew, set up a website, and began to make steady sales online in addition to vending at festivals and events. My dream business was on the path to becoming a reality.

Things continued to grow.  I hired a team.  We added a t-shirt line to the mix, as well as accessories and other goods along the way.  In 2005, the business had gotten to a place where I was no longer able to keep up with the sewing on my own.  I continued to design and sew the prototypes and samples, but began working with local manufacturers to produce full collections in larger quantities.  We set up a wholesale program and began to sell to stores.  In less than two years, over 100 boutiques worldwide carried our collections, we were showing at Chicago and Portland Fashion weeks, and my designs were exhibited on two separate occasions at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. I spoke on Mountains of the Moon’s behalf on fashion panels and at green events, produced eco-fashion events in Chicago, and worked on the side as an eco-minded fashion stylist for several bands in the music industry.  I was, and still am, incredibly grateful for this success.  It was a magical time, getting to do what I loved and meeting so many amazing people (you!) along the way.

Sometimes paths take unexpected turns, and over the past few years, things began to change.  Almost 90% of the boutiques who carried our clothing have closed, and website sales dramatically decreased as well.  We sent another newsletter a little over a year ago where we were very candid about how the economy and (sadly) a decline in consumer demand for eco-friendly products had affected Mountains of the Moon over recent years. We hoped that maybe things would change, and we put a great deal of effort into attempts to make it work again, but in truth, keeping Mountains of the Moon afloat has been challenging for a while now.  The expenses of keeping the website/ecommerce system and other business necessities active are now greater than the sales we make.  And although my energies have admittedly shifted to focus more on other ventures (more on that in a minute), we always said that as long as we were breaking even, we would keep Mountains of the Moon open.  Throughout 2014, we have failed to break even.

My wonderful long time employee Kari and I, after many months of discussion, have made the decision to close Mountains of the Moon, once our remaining inventory has been sold.  Although we would love to continue to keep it running despite the losses, it’s just not financially possible anymore.  That said, we do plan to keep the spirit of Mountains of the Moon alive.  We will be shutting down the shopping portion of the website once our inventory is gone, and we will no longer produce clothing or vend at events, nor will stores carry our clothing.  But we will keep the name, and the website will remain active on some level – even if just to share our story.  Our minds and hearts will also always stay open to the possibility of creating product for Mountains of the Moon again someday in the future.

The cliche of doors opening where other ones close has proven quite true for me. Some of you have become readers of my other project, the Bubby and Bean Blog, over the the past 3+ years. And some of you have become customers over at my greeting card and art company, Bubby and Bean Art.  I started the blog as a companion to Mountains of the Moon, as a way to talk about small business, fashion, green living, design, DIY projects, and other things that inspired me.
It is now, in addition to the art shop, a full time business of its own.  Just as I am grateful for the success and joy that came with Mountains of the Moon, I am grateful for success and joy that accompanies the Bubby and Bean businesses.  I hope that you will stay in touch, and join me over there.  I will also continue to stay active on our Instagram, Twitter and on our Bubby & Bean Facebook page.

Before I go, I want to mention one more change – the one that has brought about the greatest gratitude and joy of my life.  On December 28th, 2013, my daughter, Essley Morgan, was born.  And as sad as I am to have to let go of Mountains of the Moon (my other baby!), I realize that perhaps everything truly does happen for a reason.  Whereas Mountains of the Moon demanded constant travel, Bubby and Bean allows me to work from a home office/studio while I care for my daughter.

Although it depends on how quickly inventory goes, this will likely be the final sale newsletter that you will receive from Mountains of the Moon.  So we’ve decided to make it a big one.  Today and tomorrow only, take 75% off (yep, 75% off) your order at www.mountainsofthemoon.com, with coupon code THANKYOU. (*See below for details.)

And speaking of thank you, I want to end this by saying just that.  I could go on and on about how much I appreciate the support that you, our customers, have given Mountains of the Moon over the years.  Some of you have even been with us since the very beginning.  All of you – new customers and long-time friends alike – will always hold a special place in our hearts.  So thank you.  A million times, thank you.

With Love and Eternal Gratitude,
Melissa Baswell Williams
August 2014

UPDATE: We are selling out of inventory faster than we can keep up in the system. If you place an order, PLEASE check your email as we’ll be emailing those with orders we can’t fill throughout the day. Sorry for any inconvenience!

*75% OFF COUPON: To redeem, enter code THANKYOU in coupon code box at www.mountainsofthemoon.com. 75% will automatically be deducted from your order. Valid 08/19/2104 through 08/20/2014 only. May not be combined with payments made with gift certificates or store credits. Valid only for clothing (not art and greeting cards). Coupons cannot be applied after purchases have already been made. PLEASE NOTE that all sales are FINAL during this promotion.

Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Phenomenal Cosmic Power

A week ago, I called my husband on a business trip in China for the urgent assistance in locating my DVD of Aladdin.

“Why do you need it this very second?” he asked. “You haven’t watched that in like 15 years.”


“I know,” I said, “But our daughter is singing a song from Aladdin in summer camp this week and she really, really needs to see this movie.” She’d seen it once before, years prior; my son hadn’t seen it ever. It was an unforgivable omission, one I felt an almost irresistible need to fix.

So we sat down and watched it, this movie that came out when I was still in high school, and I marvelled. The computer animation looked so dated now, the pop culture references flying over the kids’ head like a magic carpet. But it worked. It still worked, and it was all because of Robin Williams’ genius.

He wasn’t a person who had been in my thoughts much in recent times, though he was a fixture of my childhood from Mork and Mindy through Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams, Good Morning Vietnam. Watching Aladdin rekindled my interest in his unique body of work and I’ve been on a Robin Williams binge this last week- Aladdin followed by The Birdcage, Good Morning Vietnam, and Mrs. Doubtfire scheduled for later this week. Robin had, in addition to his brilliant improvisation and manic energy, an exquisite ability to layer melancholy and sweet, delving into the deepest pains of humanity in a way that made you hopeful despite its ugliness, a compassion that balanced the sometimes cruel realities of being alive. He inhabited those characters in a way few others could. Williams and Alan Alda, the actors that defined the genre for me.


That level of perception and intuition about the human condition, often begets a certain creative brilliance. Comedy relies on it. It also, as we all too well know, often drags along behind it a heavy dragline of depression. It is the contrast upon which such artistry must be laid in order to make it pop. It takes an awful lot of mental energy to wield the two simultaneously, I suspect. No one described it better than, well, himself:

Phenomenal cosmic power!


iity bitty living space.


Depression is not a fight that can be won, a demon vanquished. It’s simply there, a weight people carry around and manage the best they can. Robin wrought his depression like a kettlebell, swinging up and down and up and down and in the process put out the energy that was-is- his legacy. I can only imagine how exhausting it must have been, but he did it, over and over, though his life. He made it work for him.

He was a dog lover, you know. Of course he was, right? When you live with that kind of pressure and expectation from those around you to be on all the time- why aren’t you saying something funny?- the presence of an unconditionally accepting creature is a comfort and a joy.

Having so recently been drawn back into his life and his work and his bright eyes that never entirely belied the stormy grey beneath, I was so enjoying re-experiencing the creative rush of his work, immersed in how much he gave of himself to make others smile. Today was a shock, in many ways.


And I guess that is why so many of us are so insanely devastated, at least I know I am. He always made his depression work for him, turning the swirling rivulets of thought and extremes in his brain and transforming them into art. I see in the world the same sort of wide eyed despair that followed Kurt Cobain’s death, that sense of hope snuffed out. I think a lot of people looked up to them both. They were proof positive of the transformative power of creative will, but while Kurt succumbed at a young age, Robin managed to persevere, and that made him even more infallible in our eyes.

I thought he had it figured out. With all his success and fortune and mastery of substance abuse, he was a tick mark on the list of success stories with this particular type of chronic disease. I thought he had won the battle. I was wrong.

We are reminded today, yet again, that depression is a fire that never gets put out completely, a smolder you can never turn your back on. Never, ever.

We’ll never know why this time was different, why today was insurmountable when every other day was a day to soldier on, but the world is all the dimmer with the Genie flown back home to the Cave of Wonders, beyond the horizon and beyond our grasp. All we can do now is celebrate the shimmer he left in his wake.

Look out for one another, friends, help one another. It’s a rough world out there, and we need all the joy we can get. We need each other. Tolkien said it best: “Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.” We do not.

RIP Robin, kind sir. Thank you.

Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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