Posts Tagged With: rescue

N is for Neuter and Spay

NIf you wonder why pet rescue supporters are so adamant that pet owners should spay or neuter their pets, just look at your local shelter’s list of adoptable animals. Without doubt, you’ll see many puppies and kittens there, most of whom were probably born in the shelter or in a volunteer foster’s home.

Many pregnant animals are dumped at shelters because their owners cannot afford to or simply don’t want to take care of them and find homes for the newborns. Even if you keep your pet indoors, there is always a risk that your pet will get out, especially if they have the opportunity to mate. Given the size of most canine and feline litters, spaying and neutering is the only way to keep pet populations under control.

Some people express concerns about health risks. There are plenty of old wives’ tales that say that a dog needs to throw a litter before being spayed, or that spaying and neutering will change your pet’s personality. If you have concerns, always go to your veterinarian first. The fact is, spaying and neutering is very safe. Altered dogs actually tend to have fewer health risks than unaltered ones. And the only effect you’ll usually see on your dog’s personality is a reduction in certain negative behaviors, such as marking.

If the cost of surgery is a concern, most areas have organizations that will spay or neuter animals for free or at a minimal price. In the Kansas City area, Spay Neuter KC offers low-cost surgeries, vaccinations, and preventive care. If someone still cannot afford to alter their animal, they do have some financial assistance available on an application basis.

If your area has an awesome program to help people get their pets fixed, feel free to tell us all about it in the comments!

Categories: Adoption | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

G is for Ginny

A-to-Z Blogging Challenge 2015--GNearly a year ago, I was volunteering at a 5k to benefit our shelter, Unleashed. It was a dreary morning, pouring rain, and I was exhausted from setting up tables, filling and handing out race packets, and hauling donations for the silent auction while soaked from the torrential downpour. All I wanted was to go home, dry off, and get warm.

Then I got a text from Josh. He was working at the shelter at the time, and sent me a photo of a scruffy-looking corgi. The text that followed was a sarcastic, “I can adopt her, right?” I think I surprised him when I said I’d think about it. But as soon as the race was over, I volunteered to take supplies back to the shelter so I could meet this lovely girl.

Josh has wanted a corgi for as long as I’ve known him. So it would be up to me to be the voice of reason if ever there was going to be one in our house. When I got to Unleashed, Josh had me go in one of the adoption rooms, and brought “Natalie Cook” (named after one of Charlie’s Angels, hilariously enough) into the room.

Her coat was in rough shape, matted and shedding like mad. She seemed a little over-excited, but ran right up to me and leaned her head on my knee. As I petted her, whole handfuls of fur fell out. I asked Josh to find a brush for me, and proceeded to spend nearly an hour and a half brushing her and playing with her. I filled an office wastebasket with the fur that she shed. It didn’t seem possible so much fur had come off of one dog. Josh had left me in the room since he was working, and every time he would walk by the door or he talked outside, “Natalie” would run over to the door and paw at it, looking back at me with the cheeky corgi grin.

At some point during this time, Josh told his co-workers to mark her as unavailable. We took her into foster that day, and officially adopted her at the end of August 2014. We named her Ginny, after Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter books–because with all that red hair, she must be a Weasley!

Ginny’s journey with us has been a challenging one. She was heartworm positive, had not been well socialized with other dogs, and was frightened of fairly common household sounds. It’s taken a lot of time, patience, and just plain work to integrate her into our little pack. And it’s been worth every bit of it. We’ll share more of her story throughout the remaining A-to-Z posts, but for now, just enjoy some pictures of our quirky girl…

Ginny photo collage

Categories: Adoption | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

F is for Fostering

A-to-Z Blogging Challenge 2015--FToday I get to share with you about a topic that is very dear to me: FOSTERING! For those who don’t know, many rescue groups and shelters rely on volunteers to take animals into their home for either a short-term or long-term basis before adoption.

The rescue we work with, Unleashed, uses both types of fostering. Most dogs they take in from other shelters will be in foster for a period of 2 weeks. This is to make sure that only healthy, vaccinated dogs enter the shelter, for the protection of both the new dogs and the existing shelter dogs. Dogs receive their first round of shots before going to their foster, who can then monitor them closely for signs of any contagion or other health issues.

Fosters learn about a dog’s behavior, temperament, likes and dislikes, and generally help prepare the dog for its future home. Sometimes a dog will need a bit more time in home, or just wouldn’t adapt as well to the chaos of a shelter. Then a foster might keep the dog for a longer period of time, taking it to adoption events or one-on-one meetings with potential adopters until they find the dog’s forever home.

Many people ask how we can foster–aren’t we tempted to adopt them all? Yes and no. We love all our fosters, but not every dog that comes into our home would be the right fit for us long-term. And every dog that we help find a home for means one more life that can be saved later. To date, we have fostered 24 dogs (counting Tessa’s 8 babies). Of those, we have adopted two–Tonks and Ginny. (They call this “foster failing”–when you keep the dog you’re meant to just be fostering.) One other, Ghibli, developed a brain tumor, and we kept her until she had to be put down–the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do. All the others were adopted, and are living their lives with wonderful families who love them very much. We’re fortunate to know some of the adopters personally, so we’ve been able to see follow-up pictures of many of our former fosters.

Fostering is a rewarding experience. It’s also great if you want a dog, but haven’t quite figured out what kind of dog you want, or can’t commit yet to having your own dog full-time. It’s the most fun way I can think of to save a life!

foster collage

Meet a few of our past fosters! Left: Juan hanging out with our Charlie. Middle: Google Barker and Giga Bite. Right: Tank (one of Tessa’s puppies)

Categories: Adoption | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

E is for Excuses

A-to-Z Blogging Challenge 2015--EMany people assume that shelter dogs are broken somehow. There must be a reason why they were dropped off there, after all. Maybe it’s because we want to assume the best about people. Sometimes it’s because so many of the “bully breeds” end up in shelters, and the stereotype of an aggressive dog prevails. The real reasons most dogs end up in a shelter might surprise you.

First, many dogs come in as strays. This doesn’t mean they were abandoned, or that they are feral (though a few are). Most simply got out of their home or fenced-in yard. If they don’t have tags on and aren’t microchipped, there’s no way to find their owners. (More on microchipping later in the month.)

The top reasons why people surrender animals are because they are moving, and are choosing to move somewhere that doesn’t allow pets (yes, it is a choice, because there are MANY options for pet-friendly housing in all price ranges, no matter where you live), or because they are having a baby. Other common reasons are allergies, or because the animal developed a health condition the owner couldn’t afford to treat, such as heartworms. (More on that later this month, too.)

Here are a few other excuses we’ve heard through our time in the rescue world:

  • The dog licked my baby’s feet and didn’t get along with our ferret (I kid you not: they thought foot-licking was a precursor to aggression–it isn’t–and thought a ferret was a safer pet than a dog to have around an infant.)
  • He barked
  • She didn’t bark enough (they wanted a guard dog, I guess)
  • She couldn’t go down the stairs very well (this was a 2-month old small-breed puppy)
  • He shed too much
  • It made messes in the house/wasn’t housebroken (also regarding a puppy)
  • He got carsick
  • Kept getting out of the yard/kennel/house
  • Got too big (large breed puppy)
  • Didn’t grow big enough (small breed puppy)
  • He hid under the couch and seemed scared (puppy returned to the shelter after 2 days in the home)
  • Too high-energy
  • Too mellow

Many of these excuses were heard from owners who had adopted dogs and then returned them to the shelter, usually just days after adopting them. The ones that break my heart are the dogs who get dropped off after years with a family simply because the family has gotten tired of taking care of them, or an elderly owner is put into a nursing home or passes away and there is no one willing to take care of them. Two of our recent fosters, Bella and Chico, came to the shelter that way. Their owner had passed away, and the adult children said they didn’t have space for two dogs. They were chihuahuas.

Owners who are not willing to bear the responsibility of pet ownership are the biggest reason animals are in shelters. Thankfully, most adopters truly love their new family members, and do everything possible to make the transition into their homes as smooth as possible. Do you have a rescue animal with an interesting back-story? Work with a shelter that has heard a whopper of an excuse? Share it with me in the comments!

Categories: Adoption | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

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