Thursday, September 27, 2012

In Lieu of Gifts

When I ask eight-year-old Aidan Hall if he has any pets, he gives me a businesslike nod. “We have four dogs, two cats, four turtles, two tortoises, a Quaker parrot, three hermit crabs, and Biscuit.” (Biscuit is a hamster the family recently adopted from HSCC.)  When I look at Aidan’s mom in surprise, she explains, “I used to work for Dr. Metz at Shelburne Vet.”

Aidan visiting the cats at HSCC
I ask Aidan if he has a favorite animal and he says no—he likes them all. I ask him if he helps care for the animals at home. Aidan gives another serious nod. I expect him to tell me that he feeds them dinner or walks the dogs with his mom. Instead, he surprises me again with, “Buddy the parrot used to be quite cage-aggressive. I’ve been working with him—petting his head through the cage and feeding him.” Aidan demonstrates how he strokes Buddy’s head. “Now, I can put my hand in the cage and he doesn’t bite.” Training an animal out of cage aggression—that’s a complicated challenge for a professional trainer! Let alone the fact that this eight-year-old boy is even familiar with the term “cage-aggression.” 

It may come as no surprise that HSCC ranks among Aidan’s favorite causes. However, the fact that a child would forgo gifts for his own birthday to benefit an organization—that’s yet another remarkable feat for this young man. This summer, Aidan asked his birthday guests to donate to HSCC rather than buy him presents. He ended up collecting $200 for the shelter, plus cat toys and dog biscuits. I asked Aidan why he’d choose to give up gifts on his birthday. “I have bazillions of toys in my room,” he explains. “Probably more than 50. I don’t need more.” 

Aidan has demonstrated this philanthropic bent since turning six. Two years ago he selected Outreach for Earth Stewardship as the beneficiary nonprofit, and last year he chose Hunger Free Vermont. He picked HSCC this year because of his obvious love for animals. 

I asked him how he felt turning in his donations, and he says, “proud.”  “Aidan’s never been ‘stuff-oriented,’” his mom says, equally proud. 

Another one of our long-time supporters can relate to Aidan’s lack of interest in “stuff.”

"None of us need more stuff,” says Emily Morrow, a former kitten foster mom and HSCC adopter. “Stuff is more of a problem than a benefit. Giving in tangible ways gives me a more tangible sense of happiness." Emily celebrated her 60th birthday this year, and also asked her guests to donate to HSCC in lieu of buying her gifts. 

Emily explains that she chose HSCC as the beneficiary of her birthday honor because it makes her sad to think of animals not being cared for. In addition to adopting animals from our shelter and fostering kittens, Emily felt this was an effective and meaningful way for her to help.

"It made me feel great to do this," Emily says. She had gotten the idea from young couples she knew who asked their wedding guests to donate to charities rather than give gifts. 

We have an example of that, too! One of our board members, Kyla Sternlieb, was recently married. She and her husband Bruce Lisman asked their friends to donate to HSCC in honor of their marriage. Well, we never could have predicted this, but that simple ask raised nearly $10,000 for our shelter!

Because we rely almost entirely (88%) upon donations from individuals to keep our shelter and programs running, we are enormously grateful when our community gets creative in finding ways to support our mission. 

Aidan's donation jar. Notice his rendering of our logo at the top!

Thanks to EVERYONE who’s set personal gain aside to benefit homeless animals--as well as those who have made a donation in someone's honor!

Because really, isn't a companion animal's love the greatest gift of all?

Booey (formerly Fred), adopted this summer, with new best friend Emma.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Hello, all!

We have an unusual category of adopted animals to report this week: PUPPIES! After a long lull with no puppies, HSCC recently had a sudden influx of youngsters. Of course they never stick around for long … Congrats to Ricki, Sienna, Javelin, Dash, Montel and Fallon on finding new homes to grow up in!

Javelin and Dash

We had four adult dog adoptions, as well: Thumper, Speedy, Gracie and Copper went home.

Kittens Dill, Butter, Vlasic, Gherkin, Bugs, Sylvester and Merle are romping in new homes!

And 12 adult cats became new family members over the last couple of weeks. Congrats to Agatha, Cliff, Silver, Bewster, Cooper, Zoey, Sparkles, Dilly, Loki, Abbott, and Muffin!

Our featured pet this week is also a cat, and we're returning to a previous adoptee. Chubbs the cat went home at the end of July--but his story is just too good to skip.


Chubbs arrived at our shelter in mid-April. True to his name, he weighed in at 19.6 pounds. Despite his plump physique, we found Chubbs very handsome with his smart orange tabby coat and engaging yellow eyes. His owner, Sally, was moving to the Midwest, and would not be able to take him in the car with her. She explained that Chubbs was deathly afraid of his carrier, and could never tolerate the road trip.

We gave Chubbs the usual medical check-up that we provide all animals on arrival: checked his skin and coat, eyes, ears, mouth, teeth and gums. We gave him a blood test for FIV, which tested negative. We tested him for feline leukemia virus (FeLV) … and it came back faintly positive. Twice. Not good! Obviously, we can't expose our entire feline population to FeLV. So Chubbs moved into a medical isolation room while we considered what to do next.

In the meantime, staff addressed Chubbs' carrier phobia. Our resident cats are fed in their carriers: convenient because it allows us to clean their living spaces, and beneficial because it helps them associate their carriers with yummy food. But cats with extreme crate aversion are treated to our "I Hate My Crate" intervention program. The averse kitty is assigned a chart on which staff notates which rewards they've tried to convince the cat that a crate ain't so bad, and how effective each tactic is. Staff might try stocking the crate with especially yummy treats or tuna, filling it with a blanket that the cat's been sleeping on (familiar smells are comforting), or placing a cotton ball soaked with Feliway (a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure) in the carrier. Ultimately, Chubbs learned to feel comfortable in his crate.

And then good fortune struck. Dr. Ryan Canales of the new Long Trail Veterinary Center in Williston, Vermont dropped by our shelter for a visit. Our medical supervisor, Jen, gave him a tour of the building. When they approached Chubbs' isolation room, Dr. Canales paused and inquired about Chubbs' quarantine. Jen told him about the positive FeLV test results. Dr. Canales suggested we try a different test that's more specific and sensitive. It's also more expensive, but can detect a false positive. Jen followed his advice, sent the test to the lab, and lo and behold, discovered the positive results had been false! Thanks, Dr. Canales!

Chubbs was cleared for adoption take off, and moved to a Tokyo cage in our lobby. ... But there he sat. Chubbs simply didn't elicit much interest from our visitors, and he grew increasingly despondent. Our feline supervisor, Kayla, decided he needed another intervention. Chubbs moved to our administrative area, where most days he was permitted to roam at will. That spiced things up for him!

We soon discovered Chubbs to be the Shaquille O'Neal of cats: despite his prodigious size, Chubbs could MOVE! Our jaws dropped as we watched Chubbs fly across the admin space after plastic balls, scale the backs of computer chairs ("Timmmmmberrrrrrrrr!"), and leap three-foot gates. On days we needed him sequestered in an office, we tried stacking two gates in the doorway. That didn't deter Chubbs, who nimbly leapt five feet, caught the top of the gate with his paws, and hauled himself over the top.

In the meantime, we opted to cut dry food from Chubbs' diet in an attempt to bring his weight down (we supplemented it with more wet food). The diet change coupled with the exercise did wonders for Chubbs' waistline. In fact, over the three months he was here, Chubbs lost a little over two pounds!

And we fell in love … although Chubbs wasn't always a charmer. In perhaps stereotypical feline style, Chubbs desired affection on his own terms. Often, after just a few pets, Chubbs would roll on his back and dare you to try that again. Other times, he'd seem positively voracious for attention, and would claim a staff person's lap as his own--purring and kneading and rubbing his nose all over his hostage's face. One quickly learned to let Chubbs call the shots. 

Still, how could we not fall in love with a cat as intelligent and inquisitive and wholly active as Chubbs? He loved new objects and changes in his environment. He liked meeting new people (though with some time for deliberation). He was very curious about the other cats and dogs who occasionally visited the administrative area, and developed a peaceful coexistence with staff dogs.   

Sadly, though several potential adopters did meet Chubbs, none left totally impressed (probably didn't help when he got a little swatty with them). Chubbs grew bored again, and we did our best to keep his environment enriched.

Chubbs nesting in cat grass.

But good fortune had not forgotten this plump pussycat. In early July, Kayla received an email from Sally, Chubbs' former owner. She missed him dearly. She'd be returning to Burlington for a visit in late July, and would now be able to fly him back to the Midwest with her. Was he still available? He sure was!

We thought surely Chubbs would be adopted before Sally's visit … but at least we had a back-up plan. However, when mid-July rolled around and Chubbs was still here, we began to hold our collective breath for Sally's return. On July 20, we put Chubbs on hold for Sally. And on July 21, she made it to the shelter just before we closed, completed the adoption requirements, and scooped Chubbs up!

There wasn't time for the joyous reunion we'd all yearned to observe. But fortunately, the story doesn't end on that anticlimactic note!

Sally had spoken with a veterinarian ahead of time about Chubbs' flight home. He recommended she give Chubbs both Comfort Zone and Composure before the flight, and reminded her that he would need a health certificate signed by a veterinarian and a carrier small enough to fit under her seat (good thing we worked on crate training!).

Sally followed his advice … but ran into a problem at the airport when she got to security. Apparently, she had trace amounts of the rememdies she'd given Chubbs on her hands, and one of them tested positive for explosives! Chubbs had been taken out of his carrier and patted down for weapons! Sally says that Chubbs was so drugged that he didn't mind being dangled in the air while they looked him over (she felt a little traumatized for him, though!). Fortunately, the rest of his journey went smoothly.

Sally reports that Chubbs does seem to remember her (he slept next to her the entire first night of their reunion) and is enjoying his new home. A six-toed cat often comes calling on the porch, and Chubbs enjoys covertly spying on him. 

Chubbs' new friend.
This brainy orange kitty lists James Patterson among his favorite authors (when it comes to napping, anyway), and is very considerate about keeping Sally's graduate school assignments warm. 

Fortunately, Chubbs would rather sleep on homework than eat it.

From a medical isolation room at the shelter to a new home in a big city halfway across the country … Chubbs' journey has been long and sometimes arduous. But good fortune always stepped in just when his situation seemed particularly dire. We'll never forget this floppy-tummied kitty or his funny antics ... and Sally sent us a photo to remember him by. 

That's the good news this week from HSCC.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

If Your Love Should Stray

Hi all!

July has been our Cat Days of Summer promotional month: the adoption fee for all adult cats has been reduced to just $50 (usually $95). I'm very, very happy to report that we're dealing with either happy coincidence or enormous promotional success … either way, a LOT of cats have gone home this month!

Congrats to: Simba, Charlotte, Tiara, Gabby, Potter, Cali, Kermit, Magnum, Cameron, Baby, Buck, Moe, Sova, Pantera, Kusco, Frita, Lucy, Patches, Ruby, Buddy, CHUBBS!, Hawthorn, Graphite, Tubby, Tank, Spade, and Finkster.

Tubby was adopted last week!

The promo isn't quite over yet … still one day left to bring a new feline companion into your family at the reduced adoption rate!

Our kittens have been going just as quickly, of course; their babyish cuteness is the only promotion they need. Congrats to Friday, Pikachu, Pudge, Sonoma, Smokey, Napa, Dasher, Cupid, Dancer, Prancer, Comet, Donner, Ariel, Jasmine and Belle on their new homes.

We had one rabbit adoption last week: Quincey! And Alice, Beatrice and Bianca--all guinea pigs--also found new homes.

Our dog population has been incredibly low this summer. In fact, as of last week's census we only had 16 dogs in house (about half our capacity)! So we don't have a lot of dogs to congratulate, which in this case is a happy thing. Brody, Fred, C.J., Miles Davis, Layla, Delilah, and DeeDee found new families.

A few other dogs who never made the adoption floor recently found their way home, too. These three were strays, brought to us by animal control.

We named two of them Little Debbie and Daniel Boone. They seemed to be from the same family, as they clearly knew each other and seemed very close. In fact, the animal control officer (ACO) had only been able to catch Daniel Boone … but once he got Daniel in the truck, Little Debbie came running and jumped in the truck of her own accord, not wanting to be without her buddy! Both appeared to be older in age and we found a number of tumors on one of the dogs. Little Debbie was so covered in fleas that most of the hair on her lower back around her tail area was missing.  

Fortunately, we were able to find a microchip in one of these dogs and tracked down the person listed on the chip--a woman who lives in New York State. Upon getting in touch with her, this woman told us that when she and her partner had separated, he had taken the two dogs (actually named Lady and Baxter). She had not seen the pups in over two years and had assumed that they were still living with her ex-partner. After hearing from us, she checked in with her ex, who said he had re-homed Lady and Baxter. There the trail goes cold. The important thing is, they ended up back together again, and were found by the police.

After completing their mandatory week-long stay (legal hold) at the animal control facility, Lady and Baxter were turned over to us. We decided to place this pair with their original owner, who was very obviously upset over the ordeal the dogs had been through and was eager to take them back to her farm in New York. She said the dogs are very bonded and was not surprised they had been found together. She joyously picked them up at the shelter (Lady and Baxter no doubt equally joyous!) and brought them home again.

So why must dogs complete a legal hold with animal control? It's meant to provide owners with time to reclaim the dogs before they're turned over to a third party (like HSCC). Animal control will usually scan a found dog for a microchip and look for ID tags in an effort to contact the owner. Because this is such a small state with a relatively small dog population, it's fairly unusual in Vermont for a dog who is wanted at home to not be reunited with his family. That's why we have very few cases like Lady and Baxter's, in which dogs coming from animal control are returned to their owners. Or like Audrey Hepburn's case. 

Audrey came to us from animal control, too. Our lost cat coordinator, Amanda, regularly checks for lost pet postings, and came across a post for a missing dog named Suzie. Suzie looked just like Audrey, and upon getting in touch with Suzie's people, we soon learned that Audrey was Suzie! The really frustrating thing was that she had been missing for two weeks--all the while sitting in animal control, right there for reclaiming. Unfortunately, the owners had not thought to check with towns outside of the one they occupy (Suzie had ended up in a different town). To make matter worse, they had had Suzie micro-chipped, but numerous scans did not pick up the chip (it will likely need to be re-implanted). Needless to say, the family was thrilled to be reunited with their pup, and we were happy their searching had finally come to fruition, too! 

Working with and understanding the animal control system can be very confusing. It doesn't help that there is no official state- or federally-mandated protocol for how towns must handle strays ... so every town does it a little differently. It's important to learn about your town's process (how long the hold is, where found dogs are posted by animal control, etc.), and especially important to understand that once a dog has been held for their town's required stray hold, the ACO or town officials are free to do whatever they want with the dog (take the dog home, give it away, euthanize it, bring it to the shelter). At that point the original owner is no longer the legal owner of the dog, and may need to go through an adoption process and/or pay fees to get the dog back.  

Some helpful tips:

1) Contact all proper authorities (ACO, police department, humane society, etc.) to report that the dog is missing. Craigslist, Front Porch Forum, the Lost & Found Animals of Vermont Facebook page and other online resources are great, but not all town officials check these for postings of missing dogs. It's best to be as proactive as possible and get the word out to as many people as you can, especially the people who will be caring for the dogs once they are in the care of a municipality.

2) Keep current information on your dog's tags and consider micro-chipping. A microchip is not a tracking device; it's more like information storage. It stores an owner's name, phone number and address, which will appear when the chip is scanned by a shelter or authorities. 

3) Get your dog licensed with the town you live in! It's not only the law, it can help authorities reunite a missing dog with the family it's been licensed to.

4) Call officials in other surrounding towns. Dogs have a tendency to travel long distances and can cover a considerable amount of ground in a short period of time. It's not uncommon for a dog to end up in another municipality before s/he is recovered.

Hope that helps. After all, we'd really like to keep our dog population at its current low numbers ;)

That's the good news this week!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Give a Penny, Save a Penny

At last, an update! With the Walk behind us, we can all breathe a little easier now. We had a great time at the Walk, by the way--it was lovely to see so many of you there! Some of you have already heard about this year's milestones, but they bear repeating:

·         This year, you all raised $7,000 more than has ever been raised online before.
·         The average amount raised per fundraising page this year was $200 higher than last year's page average!  
·          And 98% of those who created fundraising pages actually obtained donations, which is a 25% increase from last year!

Pretty awesome. The money our community raised will do a ton for our animals!

See more fun at the Walk here! Photos by Jared Katz of Black Dog Photos

Speaking of, let's get to the adoptions. We have so many to report since the last update!

Cats: Nuzzi Jade, John, Mike, Sam, Rocky, Taylor, Casper, Odie, Midnite & Seymour (!), Allycat, Garfunkle, Maggie, Pacer, Layla, Malikeye, Colors, Izzy, Zebra, Chowder, Panda, Ella, TJ & Cooper, Kathina, Captain Jack, Costello, Kinslee, Bisque, Paprika, Suzie all went home.

Kittens: Jake, Jill, Jen, Jim, Jack, Neville, Spock, Ronald, Batman & Robin found new homes.

Smalles: Mango the guinea pig; Biscuit and Crumb (hamsters) went home.

Dogs: Tucker, Ohren, Lola, Jackson, Bella, Soleil, Maddy, Maximus, Pugsley, Sterling, Bear, Jake are in new homes.

That's 56 animals in six weeks!

And there's yet one more. Our featured adoptee is … PENNY!

Penny is a young beagle-type mixed breed who came to the shelter in mid-March as a stray. Right off the bat, it was easy to see she was in need of help: Penny had a condition called "cherry eye," in which the gland of the dog's third eyelid becomes inflamed and protrudes over a portion of the eye. Our medical supervisor, Jen, also found an umbilical hernia. Other than that, though, she appeared to be in relatively decent health. And her temperament was downright wonderful. At just 20 pounds, Penny's small stature did nothing to dwarf her big personality. Inquisitive and engaged with her surroundings, Penny had definite thoughts about the world and was not afraid to express them. For instance, if one of our animal care staff asked her to sit, Penny had plenty to say about it. Barking and baying, she would eventually plunk her small rear end down -- but our staff swear she talked back while doing so, retorting something like, "Why don't you sit first!"

At other times, Penny was not about to interrupt her nap in yard if she wasn't ready to. If staff called her in while she was sprawled in the yard enjoying a snooze, she opted to "play dead" instead. Short legs and long ears akimbo in the sun, Penny would grant the flustered animal care person no more than a slightly opened eye before sinking back into slumber.

Yep, Penny was a playful and often silly girl. But because of her eye condition, her time spent at the shelter was definitely not all fun. Penny spent the majority of her residence here in a cone. Anyone who's observed a dog in a cone knows just how enjoyable they find that to be.

In early April, we sent Penny to Green Mountain Animal Hospital to get her spayed, repair her umbilical hernia, and correct the cherry eye. GMAH gave us a fantastic deal: $500 to do everything! The spay and hernia healed well, but unfortunately, Penny's eye did not (not uncommon with cherry eye).  GMAH suggested we try medication rather than revisiting surgery right away--so Penny's cone stayed on for two more weeks, and she was not allowed to roughhouse with other dogs. Penny remained patient and upbeat. But … the meds didn't work either. So we scheduled a consultation for Penny with the only Board-certified vet ophthalmologist in the area, Dr. Hoy of Vermont Veterinary Eye Care.

Penny on her way to a consult with Dr. Hoy. Photo taken by our med supervisor, Jen Parker
Living up to her excellent reputation, Dr. Hoy discovered the cause of inflammation to be a small, sharp piece of cartilage under the swollen gland that was not allowing the eyelid to heal. She told Jen that another surgery was the only fix--otherwise Penny would be destined for a life of chronic eye infections. We sent Penny back a few days later for surgery, not realizing then that if the surgery were a success, we would have to follow it up with eye meds administered four times a day for two weeks straight! Poor Penny. The surgery did go well, and Jen posted signs around the shelter to help staff remember to treat Penny's eye according to the rigorous schedule. Our staff did a fantastic job, and Penny's eyelid dramatically improved over the next two weeks. By the end of that period, Dr. Hoy was satisfied enough with the results to recommend she be made available for adoption.

What a glorious day for Penny! 

Photo by Mountain Dog Photography
The cone finally came off for good for the first time in two months, and Jen and our canine supervisor, Robyn, gave Penny her first official play date in a very long time. They brought her out to our large play yard with Jen's pup, Winnie, and burst into laughter as Winnie and Penny somersaulted over each other, Penny--in typical fashion--telling Winnie exactly what she thought about her rough play as soon as she was right side up again.

Photo by Mountain Dog Photography
Penny went home three days after she was made available--we knew she'd go fast, that cutie! We were so happy to watch her prance out the front doors with her new family, butt a-wiggle and nose held high.

All in all, we'd spent ~$1200 on Penny's two eye surgeries and various medications, hernia repair, and spay surgery--all provided at great discount. We had some outside help, too: Mrs. Heinz's fifth grade class at Orchard School decided to hold a Yankee Candle sale to raise money for HSCC. Would you believe they raised $800 profit in candle sales?! Well, $400 of that covered Penny's second eye surgery. The other half was spent on all kinds of pet supply goodies at Pet Food Warehouse! Such an amazing help.

We have seen so many examples of youth fundraising over the last year: bake sales, candle sales, greeting card sales, art sales, pet supply drives, donations in lieu of birthday gifts … the kids in our community continually show incredible selflessness and compassion. We hope Penny's story shows the impact that hard work makes in the lives of shelter animals! Penny, for one, will now live a life free of chronic eye discomfort. We're sure she'd have PLENTY to say about that!

That's the good news this week. Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Queen Charlene Led the Way

Today we write in honor of a faithful participant of our Walk for the Animals: a beautiful lady with long, flowing white hair and sparkling dark eyes; refined taste; and the confident ambition of a successful leader. Queen Charlene made Walk history. She also stood about two feet high. She was a gorgeous American Eskimo.

Charlene’s doting person, Marian, assisted the Queen in her many successful Walk ventures. Marian writes:

“The 6th Walk for the Animals [twelve years ago!] was the first event for Charlene and me … I chose Charlene out of all of my dogs because she was beautiful, she loved attention, and she loved to go for a walk. She knew my walking shoes and she'd have a fit when she saw me putting them on; she'd run around the house barking until I snared her and put her leash on. Each year at the Walk, no matter where we started in the crowd, she'd pull ahead until she was in the lead. Then she'd hold her beautiful head high, smile, and wag that beautiful plume of a tail. She loved it. And she loved winning."

Indeed, Charlene and Marian have taken the top fundraising prize for several years now, and together raised thousands of dollars for HSCC!

“People loved giving Charlene money,” Marian writes. “After a while people would ask if it was ‘time to give Charlene money again.’ She had a following.”

And Marian helped.

“Each year I made a postcard with her photo and a theme: ‘Take Charlene for a Walk,’ ‘Still Going Strong,’ and, of course, in 2010 as ‘Sweet Sixteen’ with her crown and sash. Somewhere I also have ‘Queen Charlene,’ ‘Keep Charlene on Top’ (she's sitting on a bench and my other dogs are under the bench) … you get the idea. I'd enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope so it was easy for people to send a check back to us.”

We, too, looked forward to the advent of Charlene’s inevitable win at the Walk each year. It became tradition to announce Marian and Charlene as the winning fundraisers. In the midst of applause, a proud, petite white dog would emerge purposefully from the crowd, approach the stage with her starlet smile—fur blowing in the breeze—and accept the award with the knowing grace and humility of a dignitary. We loved that moment.

Make a tribute to Queen Charlene's work for shelter animals.

On May 5th, we received this email from Marian:

“The star of the walkathon, the lovely (both inside and out) Charlene, died today. She lived for two words: ‘good girl’—and she earned those words hundreds of times over her almost 18 years. So the walkathon this year, for me, will be in her memory.”

As you can imagine, we were deeply saddened by this news. It’s hard for us to imagine the Walk without Charlene.

Marian has chosen Charlenes’ 15-year-old sister, the Fair Miss Bianca, to fill her predecessor’s dainty white shoes this Sunday—because Miss Bianca is “the softest dog in the world.”

Marian and Bianca began their rounds over the weekend, and have raised over $700 already.

If you haven’t begun fundraising yet, could you follow Charlene's lead? Set up a fundraising page online or download a pledge form to raise money offline. Don't feel like fundraising? Make a tribute to Charlene by donating to Marian and Bianca's page.

We have only five days left to make the Walk a success for our shelter, and are still $13,000 from our goal. You do not have to attend the event to help.

We have a special award for Charlene planned for this year’s Walk. We hope you’ll join us in honoring her steadfast work for her temporarily less advantaged fellow animals. And what better way to remember her, then by asking your friends, neighbors, family to invest in the futures of the animals at HSCC ... with a wag and a smile!

Thank you.

You can find details about the 18th Annual Walk for the Animals here.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Strika Out at the Shelter

Happy May!

In explanation of the recent irregularity in updates, it's officially crazy time for us here at the shelter. This month alone our event schedule includes the annual rabies clinic (last weekend); the May Day benefit concert at the Monitor Barn in Richmond (this Friday); another restaurant night at the The Scuffer (date TBD); and a flurry of planning for our largest fundraiser of the year: the Walk for the Animals (June 10th!).

We've got exciting things happening on the adoption front, too. For example, starting tomorrow, May 8th, NorthCountry Federal Credit Union will kick off a creative new promotion to help get our animals adopted! Every Tuesday they'll post a featured animal of our choosing on their Facebook page. If the animal is adopted within two weeks, they'll donate $100 to the shelter! Needless to say, we love this idea.

With three weeks of adoptions to report, please bear with a couple of loooong lists (long lists of adoptees=good thing!):

Cats: Zack, Ella, Inka, Petunia, Honey, Lola, Nutmeg, Ozzy, Daphney, Moca, Jinx, Molly, Mary Anne, Callie, Bubby & Baby Girl together, Flapjack, Aurora, Princess, Casper, Strika, Mike and Sam found new homes. Wendy and Buffcat were reunited with their searching owners. And kittens Monty, Kaboodle, Friskee, Whiskas and Fancy were here for no more than two days.  

Dogs: Lou (Beagle), Ike (GSD), Scrappy (Terrier mix), Ginger (Golden), Jaeger (Lab), Wilbur (Lab), Zoey & Meisha (Silky Terriers), Stella (Lab), Zeus (Golden) and Charlie (Springer Spaniel mix) are enjoying the springtime with their new families.

Charlie is a great candidate for the featured adoptee because he came to us last December in a very sorry state. This two-year-old Springer Spaniel mix suffered from an extreme case of demodetic mange and allergies that left lesions, bald patches, and sores all over his body. 

Charlie before
Despite the severe discomfort he must have been in, Charlie was the sweetest dog you could ask for. Through a host of medications and treatments over five long months, our medical supervisor, Jen, was able to help this affectionate guy beat the mange and simultaneously get his allergies under control. Finally, last week, Charlie emerged all shiny, fresh and new to join the ranks of available dogs--fully displaying the happy-go-lucky, bright, goofy pup he was born to be!

Charlie after

Last Saturday, in the midst of our rabies clinic, Charlie danced out the front doors of the shelter with his new parents in tow. The couple beamed with with pride as we wished Charlie a wonderful future, and Charlie? That sparkling dog gave us a big ol' hound grin with those generous lips of his!

Fabulous news, but I'm not quite done yet. I also wanted to tell you about Strika the cat!

Strika is a one-year-old gray tiger kitty who was relinquished to the shelter with her litter of one-week-old kittens. When Jen checked Strika in, she specially noted that this cat wasn't just shy … she was terrified! For whatever reason, Strika seemed to be very undersocialized. And as you might imagine, a cat who's uber shy is much less likely to attract potential adopters.

Because Strika's kittens were so young, she and her brood went straight into foster care with one of our invaluable foster moms, Connie. Our feline supervisor, Kayla, crossed her fingers that Connie's care might help Strika gain confidence just as much as it did her kittens … and wouldn’t you know that Strika had a bit of an effect on Connie, too! The foster mom ended up falling in love with the young gray mama, and vowed that she would help Strika learn to trust people.

Nine weeks later, the kittens were spayed/neutered and ready to return to the shelter for their big debut on the adoption floor. As mentioned above, those kittens didn't have much time to get used to the shelter. They were whisked right into new homes! But what of Strika? Strika also never had to face the difficult task of adjusting to the shelter environment and meeting lots of new people every day. Because in the end, Connie just couldn't part with her. And when you consider that just last week Strika--who'd always been most comfortable in hiding--willingly approached Connie and asked her for pets … well … it's evident that this particular cat ended up in Connie's nurturing care for a reason. And why should she ever have to leave it?

Yep, foster parents make great differences in the lives of homeless animals--even when they don't adopt their charges! "Kitten season" (which is now mostly year round) will soon hit its peak, and we're always in need of more temporary homes for young kittens. Does this sound appealing to you? A "failed" foster mother myself (I adopted a singleton kitten I fostered), I can say that it's not for everyone! Aside from the obvious hazard of not being able to say goodbye, caring for youngsters who are very young and motherless, or who have health issues, can be quite time-consuming. And of course, the older they get, the more kittens tend to take over the home … But if you have the right living circumstances and a lifestyle that's conducive to raising kittens, please consider helping our mission in this very important way. Because when we run out of foster homes, the kittens have to remain at the shelter. And shelter life is far from optimal for babies who have weaker immune systems and need social development. A good way to start in exploring foster care is by reaching out to our feline supervisor, Kayla, with questions (

Okay, now I'm done. That's the good news this week. Enjoy the flowers!