Saturday, April 11, 2015

FOSTERING SAVES LIVES



Fosters are kind people who open their hearts and homes to animals in need.  Fostering really does save lives.  When you foster a homeless animal, you are giving that animal a greater chance for survival.  Simply stated, a foster is someone who cares for an animal that would not do well in a shelter environment.  

Animals typically fostered at the Tehama County Animal Care Center are dogs and cats.  They can be adults, orphans, or moms that are either pregnant or who are nursing their newborns.  In addition, the animals may be ill, injured, or just need a place to recover from a recent surgery.  Whatever the reason, and whether you only foster once or decide to do it frequently, you will know that because of your efforts, an animal was helped through a difficult period in its life.

When thinking about becoming a foster be aware that it is a commitment, not only to the organization for which you are fostering, but to the animal’s well-being.  Because the animal will be a part of your home, it is important that all family members are supportive.  Additionally, consider how much time you have available.  Depending upon circumstances, fostering may take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months.  If you already have pets at home, consider that you might have to keep them separated from the foster animal.  Also, be honest regarding skill level and experience.  Since the ultimate goal is to insure the animal’s health and well-being, the shelter/rescue will need to know abilities to correctly place the animal.  Be sure to ask what your financial responsibilities will be and what the shelter/rescue will cover and/or provide.  At the Animal Care Center they provide all food, supplies, veterinary care etc., so there is essentially no cost to a foster.

Basic requirements fosters are expected to provide are: a nurturing environment, appropriate nutrition, suitable shelter and adequate exercise.  In addition to providing the basics, fosters may be asked to transport the animals to veterinary appointments, adoption events, etc.  

Fosters are crucial in rehabilitation situations.  By assisting an animal in recovery, and providing it with a nurturing home venue, fostering helps increase the chance of a successful move into a permanent home.  With regard to orphans, fosters become the surrogate parent, providing the care necessary for those too young to function on their own.  By providing these babies nutrition, socialization, and basic training during their formative first eight weeks of life, fosters help to ensure the health and survival of the animal.

While fosters are needed for orphans under 8 weeks of age, pregnant or nursing moms, animals requiring either medical treatment or a place to recover from surgery, it does not mean you are required to be a foster in every situation.  The choice is yours.  For some, cats and kittens are easier to foster, because they do not need the space or time that dogs and puppies require.  For others, the preference might be small or older dogs. 

Unfortunately, finding enough fosters is often a difficult endeavor.  One of the reasons is that people are often fearful it will be difficult to let go once there is an emotional attachment.  While it is hard to bring a first foster back to the shelter, remember that he/she is now ready, because of your efforts, for that loving, permanent home.  (Some of us who have fostered decided to adopt the animal and are now affectionately called ‘failed fosters’.)  Each year, a large number of animals are born with no one to take care of them.  At the Tehama County Animal Care Center, the ability to take in these abandoned animals is directly dependent on the number of reliable fosters they have to help.  The more fosters available, the more lives that can be saved.  If you are interested in learning more about the Center’s foster program, please contact Christine McClintock, Manager at 530-527-3439.


Fosters are an amazing group of very caring people who do everything from bottle feeding underage orphans,  to working with adult animals in need of recuperation.  Fosters help ensure that these animals are ready for human and animal interaction.  They provide care, safety and most of all, love.  In addition to the benefits that both humans and pets receive from a foster situation, removing one animal from the shelter makes room for another.  For every animal that is living in a foster home another can be saved.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HEARTWORM


Spring is officially here and with it, mosquitoes have begun their emergence.  Besides being terribly annoying, mosquitoes can carry the nematode parasite known as Dirofilaria immitis, which causes that deadly disease known as heartworm.  In companion animals, heartworm is diagnosed mainly in dogs and less frequently in cats and ferrets.  However, heartworms also live in other wild animal hosts such as wolves, coyotes, foxes, California gray seals, sea lions, and raccoons.  Make no mistake, even though the disease is easily preventable, it is prevalent, and it is a killer.

Mosquitoes acquire the parasite while feeding on an infected host.  Once ingested by the mosquito, the parasite develops into mature infective larvae.  These larvae then migrate to the “mouthpart” of the mosquito so that when it bites, they move into the wound created and deposit themselves into the bloodstream where they will then begin the harmful portion of their life cycle.  Heartworm is only conveyed through the bite of an infected mosquito, therefore an infected dog cannot transmit the disease to either people or other pets. 

It will take these deposited larvae approximately 6 months to mature into adult heartworms.  If untreated, these adults will mate and produce progeny, thus increasing their numbers.  In addition, adult heartworms can live for 5 - 7 years in dogs, thus each mosquito season can potentially increase the number of worms in an already infected pet.

As these heartworms move through the body they can cause extensive damage to many vital organs such as liver, lungs, kidneys, and heart.  They can cause inflammation of the blood vessels, and too many of them can cause heart failure, resulting in the pet’s death.  However, by giving a relatively inexpensive monthly oral medication, heartworm in dogs is preventable.  One may wish to give the dog the chewable pill only during the typical mosquito season.  However, because many of these preventatives also include a control for roundworms, whipworms, or tapeworms, it is best to give it throughout the year.  When initially choosing a method of prevention, discuss it with your veterinarian.  They can make recommendations based on your pet's requirements.

One of the first symptoms that the animal has heartworm is coughing.  Coughing up bloody mucous and chest pain follow.  Other symptoms are vomiting, weight loss, fatigue, and difficulty breathing.  Some dogs may not have any symptoms until the infection is in its late stages.  Even though they may have a large number of worms present, symptoms may not be observed in inactive dogs until a dramatic increase in activity causes symptoms to manifest.

The best way to treat heartworms is, initially, to have x-rays and blood tests done to establish how serious the infection is.  After this, a series of injections of drugs called adulticides is administered to the dog.  The two adulticides used most commonly are derivatives of arsenic.  Depending on whether all the pre-treatment tests are done, or just the treatment given, costs can range anywhere between a few hundred dollars to over a thousand.  However, if you opt instead to use the common monthly preventative in a dog with the disease, you can expect the dog to remain heartworm positive for about two years.  Unfortunately, while being treated the heartworms continue to cause permanent damage to the heart.  Nevertheless, if someone cannot afford the actual treatment, using the monthly preventative is certainly better than not doing anything.

It is also important to remember that during and after treatment, for several months the dog must remain quiet.  After the worms begin to die, they break into pieces that may cause blockage of vital blood vessels, which could also result in death.  Keeping the dog quiet allows his/her body time to absorb the dying worms.

If you are interested in learning more, The American Heartworm Society (https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources) provides information and resources available for pet owners. 


Our pets depend on us to take care of them.  Heartworm prevention is one of the ways we can protect our faithful companions from disease and help insure that they will have long, active lives and healthy hearts.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Senior Pets For Senior Citizens

Last week’s focus was children’s interaction with animals and the resulting “brighter tomorrow” that was possible because of those relationships.  Children, however, are not the only ones within our community who can benefit from the companionship of a pet.  Many of our senior citizens can, as well.  This week I am extremely delighted to talk about a recent program instituted, through the collaboration of P.E.T.S. and the Tehama County Animal Care Center, that will not only help the senior animals at the Center, but hopefully also senior members of our fine community.

This new “A Senior for A Senior” adoption program is about seniors discovering the joys of having a companion animal in their lives.  The program is specifically designed to help senior citizens who are on a fixed income and are capable of caring for a pet, but are unable to afford the full adoption fees of a dog or cat at the Animal Care Center. 
  
Senior pets end up in shelters for a myriad of reasons.  Those reasons are often the same as for any other animal, such as neglect, abandonment, or simply because their owners no longer want the animal.  Unfortunately, for some, their previous owners may have passed away without providing instruction regarding what happens to their beloved pet.  Others may have moved to assisted living or an area where they are no longer able to provide proper care for their pet.  Family members may not be available, may also not be able to care for the animal, or simply may not want to.  Whatever the reason, the health of older animals is at higher risk in a shelter environment.  They usually do not adapt well and frequently will decline rapidly.  In addition, older animals are also often perceived by the public as being less desirable and therefore less adoptable then their younger counter-parts.  Thus, it is more difficult to find adopters and get seniors out of the shelter environment as quickly as those involved would wish.  These senior pets, like our senior citizens, deserve to spend the rest of their lives, no matter how long it may be, in the company of someone who cares.

Senior citizens who own pets are less likely to be depressed, are better able to tolerate social isolation and are more active than those who do not own pets, as shown by a study of adults aged 65 and older in the March, 1999 Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.  It states, "...the care-taking roll involved in pet ownership may provide older people with a sense of purpose and responsibility, and encourage them to be less apathetic and more active in day-to-day activities...elderly people who lacked strong social support (for example, friends and family) remained relatively healthy during life-crises compared with non-pet-owners placed in similar situations.” 

Pets provide friendship for lonely individuals.  Seniors may miss the companionship a spouse or close friends who may have died, or of family, if they are distant or uninvolved.  The presence of a pet provides company and assists seniors to recognize that they are not alone.   

Pets rely on us for multiple needs.  Every responsible pet guardian is also aware that fulfilling those needs keeps us quite active.  Again, multiple studies have shown that seniors benefit from the increased responsibility, activity, and focus associated with taking care of a pet.

In another study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, it was determined that seniors with pets have 21% fewer physician visits.  Additionally, documented sources convey that opening our homes to pets can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, thus reducing risk for heart disease and stroke.

Overall, the impact of the elderly having a pet can be tremendously positive.  Pets can provide us with a sense of responsibility, increased alertness and sense of security, along with unending love and affection.  Therefore, they can assist in alleviating some of the overwhelming issues senior citizens might face.


 If interested in learning more regarding the health benefits of animals for seniors, the following site has multiple resources for review (http://www.petpartners.org/page.aspx?pid=334 ).  In addition, if interested in learning more about the “A Senior for A Senior” adoption program at the Tehama County Animal Care Center, or arranging a visit with a wonderful senior animal, please call 530-527-3439.  The Center is located at 1830 Walnut St., Red Bluff, CA.


Monday, March 2, 2015

UNCHAIN THAT DOG


We recently celebrated Valentine’s Day.  Some of us included the dogs in our home in this festivity of love and commitment.  Unfortunately, for a large number of canines life is lived without the warmth of the human bond.  So this month, also known as “ Unchain a Dog Month”, is dedicated to bringing awareness about those animals forced to live alone, chained outside without the love, care, and companionship they crave.

Dogs are social beings.  Put a dog on a chain and leave him/her alone in one area for days, months, or even years and he/she will suffer both physically and psychologically.  These dogs endure unbelievable hardships.  They suffer from erratic feedings, overturned water bowls, and have no, or limited access to, adequate medical care.  Often a chained dog becomes starved, dehydrated and ill because it entangles in its chain and becomes unable to access food or water.  They suffer from variations in weather.  During extreme cold there is no warmth.  Rarely is there adequate shelter during heavy rain or snow.  When temperatures soar to triple digits, they often do not have protection from the sun or sufficient, clean water to quench their thirst.  Moreover, because they are in a very confined area,  not only do they sleep, defecate and eat all in one place, but often it is nothing but a patch of hardened dirt or mud that is rarely, if ever, cleaned.

In many cases, the ropes or collars encircling their necks become embedded, the result of years of neglect and constantly straining to escape their bond of confinement.  Chained dogs do not receive affection simply because their owners can easily ignore them.  Because they have no socialization, approaching them becomes difficult.  If one takes a friendly dog and keeps it continuously chained, the animal often becomes aggressive.  Unable to distinguish between friend and foe, when confronted with a perceived threat and unable to take flight, they feel forced to fight, attacking anything unfamiliar entering its territory. 

In addition, they are vulnerable to other animals and cruel people (other than their owners).  Some are shot, others set on fire, poisoned or tortured beyond endurance.  They are targets for thieves looking to sell them or use them for dog fighting.  As a final indignity, the dog’s chain, easily tangled, can slowly strangle him to death. 
 
Under California Health and Safety Code, it is illegal to tether, fasten, chain, tie, or restrain a dog to a doghouse, tree, fence, or any other stationary object.  It is further prohibited to tether a dog to a running line, trolley, or pulley with a choke or pinch collar.  It is legal to tether a dog for any activity, provided the restraining of the dog is necessary for completion of a task, is temporary, and lasts for no more than three hours in a 24-hour period.  Depending on circumstances, violation of the dog-tethering laws in California is either an infraction, punishable by a fine of up to $250 per illegally tethered dog or a misdemeanor, with a possible penalty of up to $1,000 in fines per dog, six months in county jail, or both. 

Call local animal control if you see a dog that is chained to a stationary object day in and day out.  An official is required to investigate the situation if the dog’s guardian is breaking the law.  In addition, raise community awareness of the problem.  Help educate the dogs’ owners, with the hope they will learn to treat their pets better.  You may not be able to convince the owner to unchain or even relinquish the dog.  Nor may you be able to convince them to make any changes themselves to improve the dog’s life.  Nevertheless, you can try to be sure water and food is easily reached and available, that there is some modicum of adequate shelter and always be relentless in bringing the situation before the authorities.  That dog is counting on you to be the voice he does not have. 

Chaining is a terribly cruel fate for the animals we consider to be “Man’s best friend” and it is up to us to improve their lives.



Responsible Pet Owners


We talk about being a “Responsible Pet Owner”.  Even though there is not a definitive explanation of what it means, we are certain of one thing.  When we have a pet, we have assumed total responsibility for its care. 

Personally, I feel that caring for a pet is not unlike nurturing a small child.  I am the guardian of its well-being, entrusted to care for all its needs whether physical or emotional.  It is a responsibility one should never undertake impulsively, and without due consideration of the many factors involved in having a pet.  Not being prepared can, ultimately, be disastrous for the animal.  By answering a few questions before obtaining any pet, a great deal of angst and heartache can be avoided.

Do I know what kind of pet is right for me?  By being honest with regard to the lifestyle both you and your family have, it will help determine the type, breed, size, etc. of an animal that will fit perfectly in it.  Review your current living conditions and determine if the animal is appropriate in size and energy.  If you rent, many landlords will not allow pets.  Be sure to check out any restrictions before adopting.  If you have, or are expecting, a baby consider whether or not you will have enough time available to attend to all the pet’s needs, too.  If there is already a pet present, determine if it will share its home with another animal.

Am I ready to make a long-term commitment?  Depending on the animal desired, a 10 to 20 year commitment may not be an unusual length of time required to care for it.  If circumstances change, such as moving, consider if you will still be able to care for your pet.

Can I afford to care for my pet?  Caring for a dog, depending on its size, is estimated to cost about $340 to $635 per year for food, toys, vaccinations, and an annual visit to the vet.  Cats and small mammals are estimated to cost less.  If the animal gets sick or injured, has special dietary needs or takes medication those costs can increase drastically.  In addition, while pet insurance assists with unforeseen medical issues and emergencies, it adds to the yearly costs.  Long-haired, difficult to groom animals may require frequent trips to a grooming facility. 

Will I be able to spend quality time with my pet?  Dogs thrive on exercise and companionship.  Cats are healthiest and happiest when treated to play sessions with their human guardians.  Both, when constantly unattended, can develop behavioral problems.  If work demands frequent travel, or if on most days and evenings you are not home due to other commitments, consider a pet that requires little human interaction.

Am I willing to train my pet?  One of the most common reasons that people return pets to shelters is that they are experiencing behavior difficulties.  Training not only strengthens the bond between pet and guardian, but also helps avoid many of those behavior problems.  Learning basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘come’ can potentially save a dog’s life.  There is an abundance of materials available to read with regard to training both cats and dogs.  In addition, shelters, veterinary offices, and rescues usually have a list of trainers who can assist in the process.  Having a pet requires time and commitment to teach it to become an enjoyable member of the family and community.

Am I willing to provide for my pets safety?  Whether it is keeping a pet away from toxic foods, plants and substances, or ensuring that outside spaces are secure, you need to be certain that the home environment is safe for the animal.  It is also imperative for the pet’s safety that they have some form of identification such as a collar and tags, tattoo or microchip, to assist in identifying them in case they become lost or stolen.  In inclement weather, adequate protection from the elements guarantees no harm comes to the animal.  Regular vet visits and vaccinations safeguard a pet against disease and illness. 

Your pet is not a possession, but a living, breathing entity.  By obtaining a pet, you have tacitly agreed to provide adequate nutrition, mental and physical exercise, medical care, shelter, and companionship, to ensure its safety and well-being.  If you are prepared to become a “Responsible Pet Owner”, then the life shared with your pet will be a richly rewarding one for everyone!



Friday, February 27, 2015

★★ A SENIOR FOR A SENIOR - ADOPTION PROGRAM ★★


The P.E.T.S. “A Senior for A Senior” adoption program is all about seniors discovering the joys of having a pet in their lives. The program helps senior citizens who are on a fixed income and unable to afford the adoption fees for a companion animal but are capable of caring for a pet and wish to experience the love of a furry companion.

To qualify for this program, an adopter must be at least 60 years young, and adopt a senior dog or cat that is approximately 6 years or older. The number of adopters that can be assisted by this program is limited, and participants will be chosen on a first-come-first-served basis, provided they meet the required guidelines for eligibility. Please contact the Tehama County Animal Care Center at 1830 Walnut Street, Red Bluff, CA, (530-527-3439) to see if you qualify for this wonderful program.

The P.E.T.S. “A Senior for a Senior” program discounts adoption fees to $20.00 for Senior Dogs and $0.00 for Senior Cats. All animals in this adoption program will be spayed/neutered, micro-chipped and have current vaccinations. A photo ID and low income verification must be provided to qualify.

The Tehama County Animal Care Center will help you select a companion who fits into your lifestyle and housing situation. For more information about the “A Senior for A Senior” adoption program or to arrange a visit with a wonderful senior animal at the Tehama County Animal Care Center, please call 530-527-3439.



Monday, February 16, 2015

Low cost spay, neuter to celebrate ‘World Spay Day’


In honor of World Spay Day 2015, the Tehama County Animal Care Center has arranged for low cost spay and neuter services to be available to the public.
Four different veterinary clinics have agreed to donate their time to provide spay and neuter services to low income clients for $20. This is a one-day only program, held on World Spay Day, Feb. 24.
In order to have an animal altered on Spay Day, interested parties must come in to the Animal Care Center starting Tuesday. There are a limited number of appointments available, and appointments will be awarded on a first come, first served basis to low income households.
Clients will be required to pay a $20 non-refundable deposit to the veterinary clinic performing the surgery, which must be prepaid at the time the appointment is reserved.
“We are extremely grateful to have Valley Veterinary Clinic, Antelope Veterinary Hospital, Red Bluff Veterinary Clinic and Cottonwood Veterinary Clinic donating surgeries this year,” said Animal Care Center Manager Christine McClintock. “These clinics and their staff have donated a significant amount of time and energy to provide these surgeries, and we cannot thank them enough. Pet overpopulation is a huge problem in Tehama County. Spay/Neuter is the only 100 percent permanent method of birth control in domestic pets, and the most effective way to prevent unwanted litters of puppies and kittens.”
To be eligible to participate in the Spay Day program, dogs and cats must be current on vaccinations, including rabies, and dogs must be licensed. For more information on low income vaccination clinics, or how to license a dog, call the center at 527-3439.
The center is at 1830 Walnut St. in Red Bluff. Hours are 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to noon and 1-4:30 p.m. Saturday. Adoption hours are 10 a.m. to noon and 1-4:30 p.m. If you would like more information regarding adopting, fostering or becoming a Care Center volunteer, call 527-3439 or send an email to cmcclintock52@sbcglobal.net.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Let's Talk About Euthanasia


I cannot tell you how many times I hear a person does not wish to bring an animal to the shelter because they espouse No-Kill, and know, with absolute erroneous certainty, that the animal will be euthanized once admitted.  They feel it is much more humane to abandon these animals, rationalizing that benevolent strangers will take them home, or with even greater specious thought, that this domesticated creature will suddenly be able to fend for itself.  However, the cruel reality is that these animals face starvation, disease, injury, and other untold horrors.

There is no easy way to lead into the crux of this article.  We often talk in abstracts, sidestep, and dance around one word for fear of offending anyone.  However, we cannot solve any issue by avoidance, so let us talk about euthanasia.

First, let’s clarify a misconception.  A good portion of the public believes that after the mandatory hold period at the Tehama County Animal Care Center (TCACC), strays will be euthanized.  This could not be further from the truth.  The Animal Care Center does not have “time limits” for adoptable animals.  Before a decision is made to euthanize an animal, a number of factors are studied such as life threatening illnesses, extreme medical problems, and unprovoked aggression.  Before any decision is considered, the animal’s ultimate well-being and quality of life, as well as public safety is painstakingly thought about by those involved.  This is the most dreaded procedure for any employee of the Shelter, and it is done only when all other options have been exhausted.

Next, I am extremely happy to report that the TCACC, as a public shelter with its limited resources, small size and increased intake of animals this past year, has managed to defy the National averages.  Of all the animals admitted into TCACC in 2014, 82.3% were either adopted, rescued, or returned to their original owner.  On an even larger note, in December of 2014 the live release rate was 93.9%, the highest figure ever obtained in Tehama County.  The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy cites that 56 % of dogs and 71 % of cats that enter animal shelters are euthanized.  At TCACC, its euthanasia percentages were substantially below those figures as evidenced by the “live release rates” cited above.

Some will shout that any euthanasia is totally unacceptable.  To every person who finds it appalling, I will respond.  Not every animal can be saved.  In our quest to do so, many have suffered needlessly, be it animal and/or human.  Even the safe havens of “no-kill” facilities understand that there are extenuating circumstances where euthanasia may be the most humane action to take.   If we falsely believe that every organization, whether private or public, can care for every homeless animal that arrives on their doorstep for the rest of their natural life, we do an injustice to the animal and to the overwhelming problem of animal homelessness.

Our shelter, any shelter, cannot decrease euthanasia rates without total community support and commitment.  Each individual shares in the responsibility and fate of these unwanted animals. One must truly understand that, by ignoring the problem of pet overpopulation or enhancing it by either tacit acceptance of actions that result in homelessness or by contributing directly to the amount of unwanted animals, it is not the shelters' fault that animals are euthanized, but the public’s.  Therefore, it is important that all of us actively work towards not only decreasing the number of animals entering the shelters, but also increasing the amount of animals that are returned to their owners or adopted, thus ensuring that euthanasia is not an outcome.

We must discourage “backyard” breeding by refusing to purchase these animals and opting, instead, to adopt from among the many that both shelters and rescues have.  We must not only spay and neuter our own animals, but also encourage others to do the same.  We should microchip and/or tag our pets.  Again, we must encourage others to do the same in order that pets and guardians are quickly reunited.  We need to get involved and report abuse, safeguarding those that cannot defend themselves.  We must become responsible pet-people, understanding that it is a lifetime commitment, and take measures to insure success.  If unhappy with the laws that regulate pet ownership or the way they are, or are not, enforced, then contact local, county, and state representatives to request more resources be allotted to house, protect, and ensure the well-being of these homeless animals.

Nothing is going to solve the animal overpopulation problem unless we take positive action.  Until all of us do, euthanasia will continue to be an ugly reality.