For those of you wondering what happened to little Lucky...
here is an update.
His foster mom says:Lucky is doing great! He's gained quite a bit of weight, so we can't feel ribs anymore. He's eating some wet food. He can run, gets into everything and makes an effort to 'attack' anything that can't move. I was really scared he would die on me at first, since he was my first foster puppy but I'm extremely happy I got him over that initial hump.
Thank you for the opportunity to share in life
This is one lucky puppy!
I hope I never see her again
Sugar, our previously longest term dog, was adopted earlier this month, after a stay of nearly a year
And I hope I never see her again.
Well, no, not really. I'd love to have her come visit. However, I'd be just as pleased knowing she now has her forever home, and is going to stay there. Normally, the dogs come back here for obedience classes, but the adopters live closer to our Oakland location and are taking the courses there.
So, really, if I never see her again -- that would be just fine. She has spent enough time here at the shelter.
Next, we need to get Stormy adopted. Today is day number 383 of her stay at the East Bay SPCA.
This is A.D., our Tri-Valley Feline Associate, and Stormy. (I've really been looking for an excuse to post this picture!)
Our cats watch TV.
That's right. When we are closed to the public, our cats watch TV.
Keep up the great work!
I've worked at the EBSPCA for about six years. I've seen thousands of animals come and go, many employees come and go, and watched the seasonal trends (kittens, puppies, adoption numbers, etc) year after year. Not a lot is new anymore, but that doesn't mean I've figured it all out.
For example, about a year ago, our Tri Valley shelter was having a hard time adopting out animals. The adoption rates were going down and dogs and cats were staying longer. And of course this was troubling since longer stays means we can help fewer animals.
We tried to think through all the possibilities...of why this was occurring. Did we not have enough foot traffic? Not it. Plenty of people were still coming to visit. They just weren't leaving with a pet. Did we not have a good selection of dogs and cats? Not it. We had a nice mix of every color, size, breed, personality at all times. Did we need to change our adoption process? Not it. We used the same process in Oakland and were doing fine thre. I never quite figured out what the problem was.
Fast forward, a year later...the Tri Valley shelter is kicking butt! They are doing more adoptions then ever before AND the return rate (the number of animals that come back to us after being adopted) has decreased as well. Long term dogs in Oakland are getting adopted in Tri Valley. Adult cats are getting adopted quickly. Clients are happy, complaints are at a all time low, and the place is busier than ever.
So why the change? While I don't actually know the "true" answer (and I probably never will), my guess is that we have an absolutely fabulous team of employees and volunteers there right now. They all want to be there, work well together, help each other and support each other. AND they get that they only reason they are there is to help these animals get new homes. It isn't about whether they "like" a client, or think the family with 3 kids "isn't worthy" enough to get a puppy. It isn't about judging people. It is about helping people find a good match. It isn't about setting people up to fail. It is about setting expectations and following through.
I could not be more proud of all of them. If I was the drinking type, I would raise my glass to T, S, S, A, R, L, L, J, K, S, C and all those volunteers, who do an incredible job each and every day. Keep up the great work!
One Last Hurrah
Life is decidedly unfair, and despite the best of intents, happy endings are not assured. Some of you may have read about Bobbi and Jackie: the two chihuahuas we put up in adoptions with the hopes of sending them home together. Bobbi had an enlarged heart, but seemed to be doing well. He overcame surprising odds to be able to share that kennel, and we hoped a future home, with his much younger and spryer "trophy wife".
Not long after we blogged about these two, Bobbi began coughing heavily and his breathing seemed labored. At first, we pulled the pair from adoptions and into the back so that no one could adopt Jackie while Bobbi waited to be seen by our vets. Unfortunately, an exam and an x-ray later, the news was not good. Bobbi's heart was no longer close to failing: it was in the process of doing so. No one could say for sure how much time he'd have left, but we could no longer call him adoptable. Jackie was returned to adoptions, this time alone. As I write this, she's still waiting there, a little glum for missing her longtime companion.
Well, Bobbi's at my house. Curled up behind me on my chair, actually. He's going to be living with me until living becomes more struggle than fun. Then I'll ply him with forbidden goodies like Egg and Sausage McMuffins and I'll hold him as ND or RL ease him onward. I don't know how long he has. I do know he seems to be having a good time here, enjoying the company of the people and the opportunity to bully dogs eight times his size. In the few days he's spent at my house, he's already had a couple of ups and downs. We've had to triple his daily dosage of medication. His breathing, though quiet, is deeper than it should be. When he sleeps on my lap, I can feel how hard his heart has to work now. He's also taken to ricocheting on and off the couch, snuggling up into any and all available laps, and yarp-yarp-yarping at any unexpected noise like a good chiwi ought.
To spend eight or more years in a back yard, wind up in a shelter, get pulled to another shelter, survive neutering and teeth cleaning when odds said you wouldn't, and placed in adoptions, all to have to be euthanized when it seemed the coast was actually clear? That seemed just a little too
unfair, and I was lucky enough to be able to help out.
It's not precisely a happy ending. More like bittersweet. But it feels satisfying none the less.
We call him Lucky.
Today around lunchtime, someone found a 4-week old puppy in our yard. Barely breathing, completely dehydrated and cold. Someone else must have left him there. We rushed him to the clinic where our staff put in a catheter to start administering fluids and while at first he was not responding, he then started sucking a bottle and sucking on a finger. We aren't sure how things will work out for the little one yet, but we know we will do what we can to help him pull through. We call him Lucky.
Four weeks old and counting.
Stephanie, our young volunteer who had previously written about her new litter of foster kittens, just sent an update:
"The kittens we're fostering are about four weeks old and are playing with each other a lot. Donna Lee, the momma cat, doesn't keep as close a watch on them. Instead, she spends more time begging to be petted or grooming herself.
Her coat is now shiny and soft, and after getting enough to eat for the three weeks we've had her, she has a very thin layer of fat covering her bones. She has become a very affectionate cat and is a great mother at the same time.
"One of the largest kittens is drinking water and chasing toys. He loves to bat toys across the floor with his little paws. His gray fur is fluffy and he is the most toy-oriented one of the litter. He usually is the one who pushes everyone aside to nurse and play wrestles with the others. The other kittens are teaching him what is okay to do, and that he can't get too rough when playing.
"The second biggest kitten is cream and white. The kitten tail is up high like she's very important and noble. She bunny hops across the floor and plays with the gray one a lot. Her beautiful fur is one of the softest and she’s so cute when looking straight at you.
"There are two black and white kittens. One is fluffier then the other one, but it took me awhile to notice that. The fluffier one cries a lot. At first Donna Lee would go over and bring the kitten back to the bed when it cried. Later, she would only check on the kitten, but now Donna Lee just turns her head and goes on with whatever she was doing.
"My favorite kitten is the other black and white kitten. Though the kitten is the second smallest, it acts like the oldest. It's the only one who eats wet food and was also the first to climb the stairs.
"The smallest but sweetest is cream and white. This one loves to sit on laps, but also plays with the green mouse toy.
"My mom and I cut some of their nails to get them used to it and so they wouldn't be as long and sharp. The front nails are pretty easy and the back ones would be too if I could see and cut at the same time. Usually the kitten's head is blocking the way.
"It's tons of fun to take photos of them while they explore the world around them. Photography is one of the great pluses of fostering and it is cool to notice how they've changed from the first day to the last."Thanks for the update, Stephanie! We can't wait to see them all go to wonderful homes when they are ready.
The dogs in our shelter are actually the lucky ones
Each day when I drive to work, I come down Edwards/73rd/Hegeberger. On that short trip, I see many dogs in their backyards. Some pits, some rotties, and some mutts. Some are loose. Some are tied up. Some seem nice. Others, not so much. What they all have in common is being outside. Most of them are sitting patiently at the back door to their house waiting to get in. I'm not sure if any of them every do get in, but there they sit, waiting.
Dogs outside. It seems like it makes sense, doesn't it? It seems like what dogs really want. Fresh air, a place to run, the ability to bark and go potty whenever they want. Who wouldn't want that? But in actuality, most dogs want to be inside with their family (their pack). Unfortunately, many owners don't housetrain their dogs or can't deal with the chewing or destruction that comes with an untrained, disobedient dog. Rather than teach them these basics using crate training and other confinement techniques, they toss them in the backyard where they will not only never learn these important skills, but where they learn other bad habits like digging, barking, fence fighting, escaping, and jumping.
It makes me sad every morning when I see this and it reminds me the dogs in our shelter are actually the lucky ones.
From Austin to Dublin...
This is from our "Paws to Consider" column every other week in ANG Newspapers. It ran on 3/11/06.
The long journey: A tale of two kitties
WE TAKE OUR obligation to the homeless cats and dogs of this community seriously, including those who passed through our doors previously.
Adopters sign a contract saying if, for any reason, they cannot keep their pets, they must return them to us so we can find them a new home or make other appropriate decisions for the animals. We feel that our animals, if they need to be rehomed, continue to be our responsibility.
Last month, we received a call from a public animal control facility in Texas. They informed us that clients of ours who now lived in Austin had surrendered their two young cats.
The folks in Austin told us the cats were originally adopted from our Tri-Valley shelter. They also said the two cats were shy, not welcoming and had hissed at them from the cage. As a busy, open-admission shelter, they didn't feel they could do much for these two. They were overly full of many, much friendlier cats, so these were not going to be put up for adoption. They were slated for euthanasia over the weekend and the shelter was giving us a call in case there was anything we could, or would, do.
Boo Boo is a petite tortie with a stubby tail, perhaps from a run-in with a car door. Muffin is a sleek, panther-like feline, perfectly proportioned with long, strong limbs. They were housed in a small cage together. They hissed at anyone who approached, sending the universal cat signal for "stay away."
Of course, two unfriendly, stressed-out cats wouldn't get adopted any more easily here than in Austin. Was it fair to bring them back to California only to have them potentially sit in a habitat for the rest of their lives?
A former supporter of the East Bay SPCA had recently moved to Austin with her own menagerie of assorted adopted cats and dogs. One of our staff members called and asked her to check these two out and report back to us.
The reconnaissance mission was successful. She reported that while they were both clearly depressed at losing their home and family, and were a little scared, they warmed up to her quickly and seemed fairly affectionate.
The decision was made to spring these two and bring them back to Dublin. It wasn't in the budget, and there are many cats right here in our community that need our resources, but we owed it to these guys to make good on our original promise to find them a home.
On our behalf, the shelter in Austin released the pair of cats to our good Samaritan. She brought them home. She fed them, brushed them and introduced them to her dogs with no incidents. And she fell in love.
"The black cat came completely out of his shell. He owns the place. He is rubbing up against me and does little dolphin jumps to my hand so his head gets petted. He does this while purring and is very at home as a lap cat. He completely shed his depression. The little one is 'Velcro-kitty.' After her initial shyness, she follows me around everywhere. They aren't even particularly upset by the dogs."
She then woke up before dawn on Monday to put them on a plane to Oakland. With luck this would be their second-to-last scary trip before finding their forever home.
So Boo Boo and Muffin are back in our Dublin facility. They have settled in and are enjoying their cat tree cubbyhole, high off the ground. Despite their spacious habitat, they cuddle in this small space together, watching the sometimes-harsh world from their hideaway perch. But don't let this fool you. Walk inside their habitat and visit, and the most unlikely pair of feline friends will unfold themselves from their nest and come out to say "hi."
One large, one petite. One black, the other a panoply of color. One independent and confident, the other insecure and needy. One with a long, graceful tail; the other with a short, stubby, broken one.
The last time they were here they were kittens. I hope they remember the sounds and smells of the shelter so that this feels a little like home. Boo Boo and Muffin need a happy ending, but it feels like we already have one.
UPDATE: Shortly after this article appeared, Boo Boo and Muffin came down with a little cold and needed a little time away from the shelter. One of our favorite fosters, VM, took them home for a while until they recovered, and now they are back just in time for Black and White Cat Adoption Week
Rain, rain, go away. We need to help our cats and dogs today.
I wish this rain would stop.
Not because it makes driving challenging.
Not because the ground is totally muddy.
Not because I can't take my kid to the park.
Not because my cats are making tiny footprints all over the house.
I wish the rain would stop because no one adopts animals when it rains.
Not sure why, since curling up with a new cuddly cat or hanging out next to a doggie near warm fire sounds pretty darn nice to me. I guess most people don't see it that way.
Rain, rain, go away. We need to help our cats and dogs today.
Ain't Love Grand
When another shelter asks us for help we try to do our best to accomodate. I got a call from one of our local county shelters asking if I was interested in a pair of chihuahuas that they could not place due to medical issues. The young female had some kind of large lump on her abdomen and the older (over 8 years old) male had the beginnings of possible heart failure.
Well, I was pretty sure the old guy was not going to be an adoption candidate, but when they told me that the female had been with him her whole life I said why not...send them both. My logic was to let them keep each other company while we evaluated their medical issues. I didn't want to have to separate them and have the old guy be alone for the last days of his life.
The next day, in walked Jackie and Bobbi! The cutest set of chi-chi's ever. Friendly and social they would lick the faces of anyone they met. True to the breed they will set off barking when bigger dogs come by saying "I could take them all on!" They were like an old married couple...sleeping together, playing with each other, and occassionally bickering.
It was determined by our veterinarian Dr. A. that Bobbi, the old male, really did have a heart murmur and some fluid around his heart. He also had a terrible set of teeth and was long overdue a dental cleaning. Figuring that his blood panel (all older animals receive a blood panel and full vet exam here at the shelter) would show other issues, and that we would not be able to place him the vet put him on some heart medicine to help his heart work easier so that he could keep Jackie company until she was ready for adoption. Jackie needed a surgery to repair the hernia she had (that is what the lump was).
Surprises never cease...Bobbi's blood panel came back and looked pretty good. He was in good spirits and active. He sure didn't act like a dog with heart failure. Dr. A. prescribed another heart medication and we scheduled him for a dental cleaning with extractions. If he survived being under anesthesia he would have a shot at adoption!
Both Bobbi and Jackie came through with flying colors. They are now happily barking at anyone "brave" enough to come by their kennel in adoptions. They are searching for someone who can appreciate the love they have for one another and the love and entertainment they are both going to provide some special family.
Ain't good news grand?
We've had some good news lately, so I thought I would share it. Sort of an update to animals previously discussed here.
BB, our first pit bull since our involvement with BADRAP, is back from foster and available for adoption.
Will, our cat that was abandoned on our property with a huge open wound that required immediate attention, was adopted last week.
Billy Ray, was, of course, adopted.
Hector Bean, that thrice returned chihuahua, was adopted.
Cousteau is living large in Washington. Happy as a clam. We still get regular updates and pictures.
Stella, the deaf dog, lives at home with a jack russell and their owner could not be more pleased.
And Tigger, our shelter cat in Oakland, moved to Dublin and was adopted in one day. Just shy of the his one year anniversary.
Ain't good news grand?
In Less Than a Week
(We have hundreds of volunteers at our two shelters. Stephanie, the young author of the post below, and her mother, Betty, are dedicated volunteers at the Oakland facility, socializing dogs & cats, assisting public dog training classes, and working on special projects. Stephanie's dad, Kwok Yan, also comes to public class with their dog, Jin Jin. When someone fosters, it's a family affair!)
Last Monday afternoon my mom and I went to pick up our awaiting foster animals. We were going to foster a mama cat and her five kittens. When we got home we gently put the crate down and opened the door. What did I see? I saw the black and white mama cat (Donna Lee) and her kittens clumped firmly to the very back of the crate. Donna Lee turned her head to me and seemed to be saying "your company isn't needed and I don't need any help with my kittens."
For the first two days we just cleaned her litter box, fed her and gave her water. By Wednesday when I came in to give her wet food, I saw Donna Lee come out of the crate. No, she didn't rub against me or purr. She just meowed and her body language was saying "just give me my food." From then on, she would come out of the crate when I entered the room. Because I brought food.
That day, I actually got to see what each of the kittens looked like. The biggest one was gray with dark gray tips on its ears. The smallest was white with slightly gray ears. Two were black and white just like Donna Lee, and one was cream and white
Thursday was the day that I got to pet her. Well, actually it was the day that Donna Lee gave me permission to pet her. She greeted me as usual as I came in to give her food, but this time she came closer and almost rubbed against my leg. I pet her once and discovered that she was even skinnier than I thought!
Now, whenever I open the door she comes to be petted and sometimes I even see her waiting at the door instead of in her crate.
On Friday, Donna Lee let her kittens sleep in the front of the crate. She was no longer worried and spends more time away from her kittens. That night I let the kittens sniff my fingers. There eyes were opened wide and stared at me with such seriousness and they had those blue "kitten eyes" that only last for a little while.
Yesterday, Saturday, I got to pet the kittens. They were so fluffy and soft and are more balanced when crawling around. Their fur has gotten fluffier and they should come out of the crate any day now.
All this has happened in less than a week. I wonder what the next week will bring. (Thanks Stephanie! If you would like to try your hand at fostering, too, this is kitten season and we could sure use the help. Most of the animals killed in shelters this time of year are underage kittens because they need a temporary home, not a shelter, in which to grow up until they can come back for adoption.)