Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Impossible Dream

Man's inhumanity to man is not new.  Since the beginning of time cruelty has abound.  The forms are many, the stories legendary.  Yet I cannot say I am shocked.  Perhaps, the years have taken their toll.  I have no answers, nor can I justify the feelings.  However, what I do know is when I see the same cruelty or worse done to an innocent that cannot defend itself, my anger is without limit.

Daily I view rescue sights, Facebook pages, etc. and daily my blood boils in rage.  Starving dogs, burnt cats, the stories too numerous, the stories too horrific.  I want nothing more than to take each one of these pathetic hurt creatures into my arms and whisper in their ear that they are protected, they are safe.

However, we all know that it is impossible for one person to make right the injustice done to all the injured, abused creatures in this world.  Nevertheless, we also know one voice can speak up; one action can help one animal.  If one can do it, just imagine what a hundred voices can do, what a thousand actions can accomplish.  If we keep multiplying, the results could be phenomenal!

There will always be cruelty, there will always be abuse, and there will always be those that simply do not care.  If we are not one of the offenders then inaction on our part will make us as guilty those who inflict their vile damage.  For silence on our part is tacit acceptance of the actions we state we cannot abide.

To help right these injustices is not being Don Quixote fighting windmills.  It is only impossible if we believe it is.

Lost & Found

As of today, I will be starting to post on the Lost & Found page stray animals that have been brought into the Tehama County Animal Care Center, located at 1830 Walnut Street, Red Bluff, CA 96080.  Phone number: 530-527-3439. 

If one of the animals shown is your pet.  Please call the Animal Care Center.

It is my hope that pets can be reunited quickly with their owners.

Is Your Cat Content?

How do we know that our purring pets are pleased?  It is not as difficult as you may think.  A few items to be aware of and provide for can keep our companions happy and healthy all year long.

There are many ways to tell if your cat is content.  Just listening will often give a good indication.  Kittens will be the most vocal in letting you know if they are happy or not.  While purrs can indicate contentment, they may not always be a definitive sign of pleasure.  

Peaceful cats often rest with front paws tucked and with ears and whiskers slightly forward.  Tense cats will hold whiskers closer to the face and flatten the ears.  Consider it threatening when a cat stares, however, slow blinks are considered a sign of affection. 

A joyful cat's tail will stand straight up with just the tip crooked, signaling a pleasant greeting to anyone he deems a friend.  When a dog wags his tail, he is letting you know he is happy.  When a cat wags his tail, he is not!  Tail lashing, those large back and forth swishing movements, indicate the cat is distressed and is warning you to back off or suffer!

Felines who feel fine about themselves stay well groomed.  Grooming other cats is also a good sign.  Scratching is also an important aspect of fit behavior.  Providing a sturdy scratching post allows cats to stretch and care for their claws.  Not to mention it will also help in protecting your furniture and drapes.

Kittens play nonstop.  As cats mature, play activity will diminish.  Nevertheless, any amount of play indicates feline happiness.  Cats play with other animals that they like and trust.  If your cat isolates itself and hides from the world, something is definitely wrong.  One of the easiest ways to make a cat happy is with a new toy.  Cats are natural hunters and love chasing, pouncing, and stalking prey.  Cheerful cats will show interest in their environment.  Walking cats on a leash with a harness or keeping them confined in a special outdoor area allows them to experience safely the world outside their window.  

Happy cats have strong appetites.  Any decrease in appetite indicates something amiss.  Working for food can also make a cat happy because it too channels those natural hunting instincts.  One option is to hide food in different places so your cat has to “hunt” for it.  Owners with overweight cats can throw pieces of kibble around, one at a time, to help their hefty feline get some additional exercise and mental stimulation.

When cats remain faithful to the litter box, all is right in their domain.  Spraying or inappropriate elimination such as urinating outside the box may indicate stress in your kitty’s world.

Healthy cats are happy cats.  Visit your veterinarian.  Talk with him/her about the best preventive plan for your cat.  Even if the cat is strictly an indoor feline, pesky parasites can still attack.  Be sure to spay or neuter, a very important step in helping prevent aggression and decreasing the risk of cancer, not to mention avoiding unwanted litters.  While there, also microchip.  If your feline ever gets lost, this permanent ID will help reunite you and your pet.  In addition, it is not a bad idea to get your cat accustomed to the carrier before a trip to the vet, you will both be much happier as a result.

Cats are social animals and a playmate can assist in adding joy to their life.  Therefore, consider adopting another feline from the local Animal Care Center.  Many wonderful cats are sitting in the shelter just waiting for someone to give them a loving home with a new furry best friend.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Shelters are often hard for people to visit.  The thought, whether imagined or real, of seeing animals in need and possibly suffering, is more than many can bear.  Advertisements shown on TV pleading for donations often also do nothing but reinforce that our shelters are dismal, sad places where one would fear to venture.

It is true that the animals that come in often have had exceedingly hard lives, and the stories they would tell could they speak would bring tears to many an eye.  Yet there is cause for celebration.  The place at which they have arrived, the Tehama County Animal Care Center, is doing their best to make life better for all those that enter its doors.

This past week is quite representative of that.  While the steady stream of pets coming in did not diminish, a staff of committed workers, devoted volunteers, and dedicated rescue organizations worked diligently to find homes for those already housed.  In addition, they continue to insure that those remaining are well protected and cared for.  Medical needs are met, a clean environment is scrupulously maintained, healthy food given on a consistent basis, and perhaps most of all, the animals are not only shown affection but also respectWith diligence, the animals are walked and played with; everyone involved hoping to provide a measure of what a nurturing family might do.

We celebrate this past week because forty-one (41) animals were either adopted or rescued.  For this to happen at the Tehama County Animal Care Center is a fantastic event.  It is not a large organization, nor is it in a community of millions of people with abundant resources at hand.  As a community we need to be proud of what all the people involved have accomplished.  

I would like you to meet some of the former residents of your animal shelter.  A few of the animals that now have a second chance at a rewarding life.  In addition, perhaps in celebrating with us, you may change your mind and realize that not all shelters are alike.  Perhaps, with that realization, stepping through this one’s doors will not be as hard as you once thought it was

They would like you to visit.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


 Recently, two very special HEARTWORM positive dogs left the Tehama County Animal Care Center.  Both were long-time residents, passed over on numerous occasions, not because they were not wonderful animals, but because they had heartworm.  The cure can be costly and challenging, factors most potential adopters do not want to deal with.  Without receiving therapy, heartworm positive dogs will die.  Fortunately, for these two, they will be receiving treatment and are expected to recover well.

Heartworm, a very dangerous disease, is an easily preventable condition in dogs (as well as cats) caused by a type of parasite transmitted by mosquitoes.  In the US, dogs that live in areas where mosquitoes thrive are at huge risk.  Simply put, the disease is a killer. 

The moment a heartworm-transmitting mosquito bites, tiny larvae are deposited into the bloodstream.  They move through the body harming vital organs until they reach the heart, where, when they mature, they can reach up to twelve inches in length.  Too many of them can cause heart failure resulting in death.  However, by giving a relatively inexpensive, monthly oral medication, heartworm in dogs is easily prevented.  One may wish to give the dog the chewable pill only during typical mosquito season.  However, because many of these medications also include a control for roundworms, whipworms, or tapeworms, it is best to give the preventative throughout the year. 

If a dog is infected, it cannot transmit the disease to either people or other pets.  Heartworm is only conveyed through the bite of an infected mosquito.

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. 

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 done, costs can range anywhere between a few hundred dollars to over a thousand.  However, if you use the common monthly preventative in a dog with the disease, after about two years you will kill most of the heartworms.  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 an alternative.

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.

It is our responsibility to take care of our beloved pets.  Heartworm prevention is definitely a good start to assist in insuring they have long, active lives and healthy hearts.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


We have become a disposable society. If something no longer suites us, becomes inconvenient or simply does not meet the needs we thought we had, the solution is to discard it.

Whether the object is inanimate or alive, we leave it behind and move on. Often without a second thought or feelings of remorse, we discard old shoes and spouses with equal abandon.

It is often also the same for pets.

This past week puppies dumped by the side of the road, dogs with the infirmities of age and animals adopted once and returned because they became too much hassle arrived at the local shelter. They are but a few of the living disposables of society.

Puppies bred to make a quick buck which were not sold, old dogs/cats who for many years were loyal faithful companions and pets acquired that perhaps needed just a little extra attention were quickly given up. Not taken into the equation is that they are living, breathing entities capable of emotion. They simply became too much trouble to deal with.

We expect someone else to deal with our difficulties. We wish someone else to solve our problems. We refuse to take responsibility for our actions. How often do we hear it is society's fault, it is because of the way I was raised, and I did not have the same opportunities as someone else? The list goes on. In the mirror, we do not see ourselves as the perpetrator.

These actions, however, result in overcrowded shelters that are often underfunded and understaffed. Again, it is not our problem.

Volunteerism is at an all-time low. The economy today, makes donations difficult to come by. Budgets are tight and costs for goods skyrocket. We lament about how we are unable to do anything because of factors beyond our control.

Solutions to large problems are often not easy. However, all-encompassing fixes do not need to occur immediately on a monumental scale. Instant gratification and quick fixes simply may not occur.

How can we begin? We begin by accepting responsibility for our actions. We begin by understanding that our commitment to our pets is more than just a "feed and water" situation. We begin by educating ourselves and learning that indiscriminate breeding can end with the loss of the lives we allowed to happen. We begin by understanding that commitment to an animal means for "better or worse" not "only while it is easy". We begin by raising our pets with as much forethought as we do our children.

You ask for solutions. Many potential fixes are: spay and neuter your own pets; Trap, neuter and release (TNR) a feral cat; take your new puppy to training class; educate your children early about responsible pet ownership; fight for stronger legislation against animal abusers; volunteer... again, the list goes on. Any one of these actions taken by an individual is a step in the right direction.

In many instances, incremental steps can solve large problems. All you need to do is take that first step. If you are not part of the solution, then you are most definitely part of the problem.

*** The views of the writer do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other entity or organization. ***

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hero Dogs Of September 11, 2001

On September 11, 2001, many people and rescue dogs became heroes that day. They stood up to help those in need. We shall never forget their bravery and commitment.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Prepare For Disaster With Large Animals - Part II

If you have large animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats, or pigs on your property, be sure to include them in your disaster preparations.  The following information provided is aimed towards horses; however, many of the basic principles can be applied to other animals as well. 

All the animals should have some form of identification.  Tattoos, brands, and microchips cannot be lost.  They can help you prove ownership if you are separated from your livestock.  Keep photos that highlight identifying marks and copies of registration papers and ownership records with you at all times in a waterproof bag.  In addition, provide a temporary ID on the animal that is easy to spot and includes a contact phone number with area code.  It will allow anyone to contact you.  Some options for temporary identification are: use a livestock crayon and write your name, and phone number on the animal; use clippers to shave the same information in its coat; or to attach a band or tag with the necessary information written in waterproof ink to either its halter or by braiding it into tail or mane.  In addition, be sure to post emergency contact numbers at your barn and/or on your pasture fence.

Ensure that whether you stay or go that there is adequate food and water available.  Have enough feed and hay to last at least three (3) days.  A week is better.  Store it in dry, protected areas.  Dehydration is a major cause of death for animals in any disaster.  For horses, calculate a minimum of 12 gallons per horse per day and again, store enough for a minimum of three (3) days.  If necessary, add chlorine bleach at two drops per quart of water to purify if necessary.

Prepare an emergency/ first aid kit.  Extra halters and leads, first-aid supplies, and flashlights are especially important.  Check with your veterinarian to find out what he/she recommends you include as first-aid supplies.  If any animal is on long-term medication, keep at least a two (2) week supply available.  Keep copies of medical records including history of vaccinations with the kit.

Evacuate your animals whenever possible.  Advance planning designates where they will go.  Create a list of friends, relatives, etc. who would be willing to board them.  Familiarize yourself with organizations in the area that are prepared to rescue and shelter during a disaster.  Temporary housing might include, boarding stables, veterinarians, and fairgrounds.  Map out alternate evacuation routes in advance, in case certain roads are blocked.

Have sufficient vehicles and trailers available for transporting your animals or know where to obtain them quickly.  Train to load.  A panic situation is not the time to teach or learn this skill.  In emergencies, animals that load easily are evacuated first. Unfortunately those that do not are left behind.  In addition, access roads may be blocked and you might have to meet at a central collection point that trailers can reach, therefore, plan alternative ways to get the animals off the property.  

If evacuation is not possible, animal owners must decide whether to move large animals to shelter or turn them outside.  In many cases, livestock will be safer in a pasture than in a barn that could collapse or burn.  If you will be leaving the property for your own safety, try to make sure that there is easy access to clean water and forage.  It may be days before you return.  In the case of horses, if you leave the halter on to facilitate catching them later; be sure to use a breakaway style.  Other types can snag on branches, etc. and trap the horse.

As a final note, catastrophes affect both humans and animals.  Animals can become fearful and, as a result, difficult to control and highly unpredictable during a disaster.  Therefore, whether you own one small animal or a herd of large horses, your safety is paramount.  You cannot help them survive if you are injured.

Remember, the best thing you can do for yourself and your animal in the event of any emergency is to plan before disaster strikes.

Monday, September 3, 2012


Mixed ancestry is a part of who many of us are.  If we go back in lineage far enough, even those of us who are “purebred” will probably find that our ancestors are a mixed lot too.  When asked about our heritage, more often than not we describe ourselves as a Heinz 57.  In the world of dogs and cats, we are Mutts or Moggies.

Often I have heard a person say their wonderful pet "Is just a mutt."  This very creature has possibly brought many hours of joy and necessary comfort to his owner.  Moreover, in times of need, these same animals have offered protection and unfailing commitment.

Frequently looked upon with disdain  are animals not deemed pedigreed, as if not being of pure descent is somehow inferior.  Yet, pureness of linage does not necessarily equate to being exemplary.  Like humans, many factors come into play.  The way one is raised, life experiences gone through and even environment all play a part in personality formationPure genes do not necessarily mean good ones.

To many, shelter animals are less than perfect.  The reasoning utilized is that the animals would not end up in the system if they were without problems.  Even members in my own family, though I am ashamed to admit it, have voiced their feelings regarding the inferiority of mutts & moggies.  I do find a sense of humor in it, however, since they are of the Heinz variety too.

My pets, both dogs and cats, are either rescues or past shelter residents.  Each animal is unique in its personality and I see each one as beautiful and very special.  Though other people consider a few “purebred”, they are all mutts and moggies to me.

Our country's shelters are inundated with animals.  Each day more arrive and, unfortunately, not all are rescued and/or adopted.  It is a harsh reality, one many choose to ignore.  Has fate dealt an ugly hand to only mutts and moggies?  No, many coming into the shelter system are of the "pure" pedigree often bred to excess because of fashion or fad.  They too have the same chances as their mixed counterparts.  It is because of this equality in a shelter the Blog is named.  Under one roof, with uncertain future they are all either mutts or moggies.

The abandoned, homeless, and abused dogs and cats desperately need our human voice to help them.  I believe all of us other mutts are the ones to do it!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Animal Preparedness in a Disaster like the Ponderosa Fire - Part I

During the recent fires we have come to realize disaster can strike anywhere at any time, without notice.  Many of us are often unprepared to evacuate quickly with not only our family but also the animals under our care.  The decisions faced during that critical time are often hard and difficult to make.  The possibility of you and your animals surviving depends mostly on the emergency planning done before catastrophe strikes unexpectedly.

As harsh as the reality is, animals left behind during emergencies can be injured, lost or killed.  In addition, if turned loose, they can fall victim to exposure, starvation, predators, and contaminated food and water.  Beloved family pets left inside a residence may escape and fall prey to the same, as well as those left tied outside.  Your animal’s safety is ultimately your responsibility.

Preparing ahead for a disaster aids in assuring your animals will survive and, if separated from you, be reunited.  To prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling necessary supplies and developing a disaster plan, basically is the same for any emergency.  Whether you decide to stay where you are or to evacuate, you need to plan before the situation arises.

Be aware, many evacuation centers only permit service animals and will not accept family pets.  Therefore, it is vital that a list of places where pets can go is established.  DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND.  If it is not safe for you, it is not safe for those under your care.  Contact your veterinarian for a list of boarding kennels or ask if they will take your pet in case of emergency.  Contact local animal havens and ask, if in case of disaster, they provide emergency shelter.  Locate hotels or motels away from your area that accept pets.  Many hotels and motels will waive, in cases of severe emergencies, no pet policies.  In addition, ask friends and relatives if they would be willing to take in your pet.  When a warning of an impending evacuation occurs, call and confirm any arrangements made.

Put together a pet emergency supply pack.  It should include a minimum of three (3) days food and water for all pets.  If canned food is utilized, consider pop-tops.  Do not forget to add feeding dishes.  Other items to incorporate are:
  • First aid kit – The pet’s veterinarian can tell you what to include.
  • Separate pet records which list: The type and breed  of pet; the pet’s name; a contact name with address, phone number and area code; sex; distinguishing characteristics; whether the pet is spayed/neutered and if the pet is micro-chipped.
  • Pet carrier or crate.
  • Photocopies of medical records, with proof of all vaccinations.
  • A two-week supply of any medications the pet requires, including information on dietary restrictions, feeding schedules, etc.
  • Leashes, muzzle, collars, or harnesses which have an ID tag attached.
  • A current photo of the pet, in case you are separated and need to create "Lost" notices.
  • Blankets and towels (paper and cloth), plastic trash bags, flashlight, and cleaning products.
  • Pet beds and toys, if easily taken can help reduce stress.
  • If cats are involved, a litter pan, scoop litter, plastic bags and scooper
 Birds should be transported in a secure travel cage or carrier.  Have a blanket accessible to put over the cage for both warmth and to help reduce the stress of traveling.  If the weather is warm, have a spray bottle available to periodically moisten the bird's feathers.  Band the leg for identification purposes.  A timed feeder will ensure the uninterrupted daily feeding schedule of the bird.

When preparing for reptile or amphibian (herptile) pets, bring heating pads or other warming devices, like heating packs or hot water bottles.  Styrofoam insulated boxes can be utilized as temporary housing for the animal.  DO NOT FORGET WATER.  Since you may not be able to obtain fresh vegetables or fruits during a disaster, keep frozen items ready for emergencies.  However, if your herptile feeds on live food, remember to consider this for evacuation as well.  Spray bottles help maintain the higher humidity some herptiles require.

Small animals, such as hamsters, gerbils, mice and guinea pigs, should be transported in secure carriers with bedding materials, food, and water.