Monday, November 14, 2011

Fuzzy Pitties

Good evening!
Let's start with the smallies today. Since animal care & adoptions staff person Cara agreed to take on the additional responsibilities of Small Animal Coordinator, our small animal program has made tremendous strides. We're mostly dog and cat focused, as you've likely noticed, and the smallies had really fallen by the wayside. Limited by space, staff resources, small animal accoutrements, and even knowledge about these critters, we had a waiting list of folks seeking to relinquish their bunnies, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, mice, etc. that was pages and pages long. People on that list had literally been waiting for as long as a year to bring their animals to us. Hardly a service to the community, huh? Cara was handed that list last January, and began to systematically tackle it--with measurable results. Though there's still a long wait (we're still in need of gerbil cages, for instance!), most folks are able to relinquish their animals within a couple of months. And boy has Cara embraced the opportunity to bulk up on her smallie expertise! She's attended conferences, is constantly reading new articles, and has updated all of the information packets for adopters and staff. Feels like we're finally able to do these little guys justice. Our latest smallie adoption success is Basil the black bunny, who was a stray found in Winooski. Basil had a great time while he was here, and went home with his new family on Saturday.

We had only two kittens on the adoption floor this week, and they got to go home together: Toad & Muffin.

These cats all found new homes:
Izzy (a rotund black cat who had been here for a looong time. She finally went home with a couple who was very excited about her on Tuesday.)
Callie & Tilla together

On to the dogs! Robyn, our Canine Supervisor, had been feeling a bit glum about the decrease in dog adoptions lately. While our canine population is no longer at the overwhelming size it was a month ago (over 30 dogs!), our usually fast dog adoption rate has been quite sluggish. Well … not this week! We sent seven dogs home between Tuesday and Saturday, including the last two Labs from the Bakersfield puppy mill:

Jupiter (Lab)
Drake (Lab)
Petula (Lab)
Duncan (pit bull)
Shadow (Lab)
Piglet (pit bull mix)

And our featured adoptee: Alfie!

Alfie came from a local hoarding situation with five other dogs like him. An odd cross between a pit bull and a border collie, these dogs range from funny-looking to unspeakably adorable (see Alfie's photo), and are best described as fuzzy pitties.

When our Humane Investigator found them, they were being kept in small pens outside, ankle-deep in feces, with no bedding. They were infested with fleas, and their skin showed the ravages of flea bites in scabs and missing fur. Their ears were badly infected. They had coxidia. Alfie was quite underweight. And they were extremely undersocialized.

In fact, they did not want to leave those pens. When rescuers pulled them out, they refused to walk, dropping flat to the ground in fear. It was much the same when they came to the shelter. Staff had a tricky time moving them from their kennels to the outdoor yards, and upstairs. For a long while, the dogs had to be carried around the shelter. But Robyn and the rest of the staff provided an abundance of love, patience, and encouragement. And Robyn says that despite the conditions they grew up in, these dogs carry no resentment towards people. They are all remarkably sweet tempered, and eager to learn.

We were quick to notice that in Alfie. Robyn brought him to the administrative area one morning to give him additional socialization. At first, Alfie skulked and fled when we tried to approach him. By crouching low, staying still and quiet, dropping our eyes to the floor and offering an abundance of cheese, however, he soon came around. Before long, Alfie was one of our favorite dogs to visit with. Calm, respectful, and snuggly, he prefered to always be by someone's side. Alfie was quickly promoted to the adoption floor, where he was noticed by a lovely woman who has previous experience training dogs. This woman was very excited about the opportunity to continue cultivating Alfie's adjustment to the big wide world. And what an excellent ambassador for "bully dogs" everywhere!

From a flea-ridden, underweight, timid creature, to the bright and companionable dog he is today, we were fortunate to watch Alfie blossom in our care.  That's a funny thing about sheltering: animals who had it pretty bad before they came to the shelter tend to do the best here--not just in physical improvements, but mentally, too. It's like they know this is a new and better beginning for them, and are grateful. Humanity could take a lesson from their ability to simply move on from adversity.

That's it for this week. Hope to see many of you at the Soiree on Saturday!


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