Welcome to Shelter Life at the East Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
We began as the Oakland SPCA in 1874. Today, the East Bay SPCA includes two animal shelters and three clinics in our community.
This is our day.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Shopping for a kitten.
We generally discourage the attitude that dogs and cats can be purchased at a store. In fact, most progressive pet stores have stopped selling companion animals. But nothing is better for publicity than a good retail location.
Thanks to our good friends at Shorenstein Properties in downtown Oakland, we have had a storefront location at City Center since the late 1990s.
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. folks working in downtown Oakland spend their lunch break (and then some!) visiting with the cats, kittens and occasional dog available for adoption. Sure, most people in the middle of the day can't suddenly adopt a pet -- and we want to make sure the rest of their household meets the pet anyhow -- but as you can see from the photos below, that hasn't stopped hundreds of people from finding their new best friend....while on their lunch break!
This fine storefront is put together and managed by one of our employees, Ken. He really deserves most of the credit for the success of City Center. Ken is shown in the picture below spending time with Ricky, our Border Collie/Corgie, who is available from the Oakland facility.
Now, there a bunch of other people who spend a lot of time on City Center: The City Center regulars, a group of volunteers who assist Ken every day, making sure the cats and (usually one) dog get settled in the for the day, and fed and cleaned.
If you get a chance to be in Oakland, downtown City Center on a Monday, Tuesday or Friday, check it out!
We're on a roll here folks. I was inspired to go look back at some of the Silver Muzzle cats, since Shayna's post focused on dogs, and I found some videos to go along too! I haven't been here as long as Shayna though, so I can't go as far back -- that and a hard drive crash at Tri-Valley prevents me from looking at some of the ones from long ago up.
Some long long term readers may remember Willie! Here he is in video form, back when we had shelter cats in the back hall and not the office.
Alright, that's it, I'm cheating! I'm going back to dogs, but with more video. I was going through my folder and now that I know how to upload videos easily, why not? Here are two dogs I'll never forget: Sancho, and Don Quixote, two old guys we took in from the Contra Costa shelter in Martinez.
Here is Matt, a senior cat. He was rescued from a house with dozens of other cats, including roommates, Sabra, Nathan, Vesuvius, and Annie. All of them came a long way, especially shy Matt. He blossomed into a very loving, purr-crazy, dog-loving heart-throb of a kitty.
Walker -- boy he liked to TALK! I have quite a few pictures that look like this:
One of my favorites, and a long-term staff pick for me, Frida!! Boy, she had attitude, sass, loved to "talk" and I sure loved it.
OK, who can resist a cute puppy? This guy's name was Oso. I remember the corny line I used when putting him on the website: "Oso, is Oh-So cute!"
That's it, I'm tired, and gotta work in the morning. Ciao!
Looking at Kirsten's post about our senior animals made me think back to where the program all began. It started in 2003 with a chow mix named Oscar at one of our local shelters. For months we'd go to take dogs from that shelter, and I would see him in his kennel. He was a perfectly nice looking dog with a bright orange coat, but we weren't taking him because he was too old. As spay/neuter and responsible pet ownership contined to improve, there were less easy to adopt out dogs at local shelters. We finally made the decision to take a chance on this dog that I'd had my eye on for so long. He certainly didn't fly out of our shelter, either. It took time, but he finally found a home. On the day he left, May 13th, 2003, I got this e-mail from R:
I think you heard already today about Oscar getting adopted. N and I are going to try to help out the adopters a bit more than normal with after adoption medical stuff just so you know. Just wanted to say thanks for taking a chance on taking Oscar in. If it wasn't for you, he might still be at [the original shelter] patiently waiting... Anyway...just thanks.
After receiving this e-mail, I began to think about other older dogs who tend to languish in shelters due to their ages. I responded to R's message, saying that I'd love if we could always reserve a couple of kennel spaces for Sr. animals. From there, the Silver Muzzle Club was born. After a great group effort from the Canine Associates, R, N, and other staff, we put together a program for dogs and cats eight years and older. We set a number of each that we could take into both our Oakland and Tri Valley shelters, a special intake procedure including a sr. dog vet check and blood panel, and of course our new name and logo (created by one of our younger volunteers).
Since then, we've seen many older animals come and go through our shelter. Many have been among the favorite canines and felines of staff and volunteers. Kirsten has already shown our current bunch, but I'd like to feature a few 'old timers' (pardon my pun). Everyone who knew these dogs during their time at the shelter will never forget a single one of them. Apologies in advance to cat lovers...as canine manager, I don't know the cats well enough to know which ones were seniors. Right: Oscar, the unoffical founder of the SMC
On April 11, 2005 we took in a beautiful black and white cat we named "Stormy." Stormy was only 2 years old. Fluffy and fine, with the unfortunate distinction of being black and white. A common coat color among a sea of uncommon cats. But Stormy, sweet and affectionate was anything but common.
458 days later, after a long, frustrating stay (for us; I think Stormy rather liked it) we transferred Stormy to Tri-Valley Animal Rescue in a trade of sorts.
Sometimes, we will do a "swap," trading out adoptable animals to each other. Maybe they have cat they haven't been able to find a home for, so they will transfer him to us to give a change in scenery.
Perhaps we will flunk out with one particular cat, and at the same time, they have an overload of easily adoptable kittens, so we'll make a trade that meets both our needs.
I think Stormy was in that second category; traded in for a bunch of kittens.
It's not as mercenary as it sounds!
But what ever you call it, after 458 days in the shelter, TVAR found a home for Stormy in a couple weeks. Now Stormy is adjusting to the life she's always deserved.
I read Craigslist often; sometimes for fun, sometimes to find out if anyone is talking about the East Bay SPCA, and sometimes to see if there is a pet question I can answer.
Like any public posting place, you'll see things that crack you up, make you angry or tear your heart out.
So I am scrolling through a bunch of posts and I read this from someone talking about why they bought a purebred cat at a cattery:
"....Plus, at SPCA they had only old tired cats."
Tired, old cats?! Grrrr.
Let me tell you about "old" pets: Old pets rock. Old pets don't get to be old pets unless they have lived right. You see very few mean, cranky senior shelter petizens, because for a homeless dog or a cat to reach the ripe old age of whatever is "senior" for that breed, he or she has got to be housetrained, is probably very tolerant of other cats or dogs, very lovable to people and, unfortunately, probably missing his or her original home, very much.
I can't help but wonder (and some of the time we do know) what happened to these sweet, obviously well loved cats and dogs, that resulted in them being homeless in their advanced years?
Did their beloved owner die?
Was a newborn baby added to the household, and the previously devoted owner said, "this is just too much?"
Did a partner come into the household that didn't appreciate a tail curled over his or her face in the morning or an enormous paw providing a 5:30 a.m. wake up?
After years of finding housing that accommodated the whole family, pet included, suddenly it became too difficult to do, so the owners chose the house or apartment over their companion?
Did the pet get lost, and wander too far, or was brought to a shelter too far away to be reunited? Leaving behind a houseful of heartbroken humans?
With a Silver Muzzle Club pet (our special program for dogs and cats over eight years old), you are getting a pet that will often fit in your home easily, with a personality that you can count on, and have many of the social graces and training expected of a pet down pat.
"Tired old cats..." Bah.
Meet some of our Silver Muzzle Club pets at our two shelters: Our Seniors Mittens is 11 years old:
Marvin is 8 years old:
Rosie is 7 and a half years old (read about her in the blog below!):
Oliver is 8 years old:
Titan is also 8 years old:
Co Co is 10 years old; be still my heart.....!
Nori is 9 years old:
Socks is 8 years old:
I hope someone is looking out for me when I become a senior citizen. No one deserves to spend their twilight years alone, looking for a family to love them.
This holiday season, give an usual gift -- to a senior shelter pet -- and vow to either adopt, or arrange for the adoption of one of our senior pets, or one of the senior pets around our community.
What does it mean to be human? Why is it that some days, all you can think of are all the sad things that have happened in your life, and not some of the great things? Is that part of being human?
Take, for instance, a cat named Jeffrey who was in our shelter late last year.
Tonight, I just can't stop thinking about him. I wasn't particularly attached, and I hadn't really spent that much time with him. He was obviously a friendly and very easy going cat, however.
So far, there was nothing really remarkable about him that would make me remember him many years later. He wasn't at the shelter for a long time. I know he was a great cat, but we have a lot of great cats. I actually do remember a lot of them, if you can jog my memory a bit.
To continue on with the story, I noticed he sure seemed to be drinking a lot of water, and, conversely, urinating a lot. This is not a good thing, so I checked in with my manager, LG, and had him set up to go to the vet, and to monitor him until the vet came in next week.
Here is where the story gets memorable for me. That same day, before we took Jeffrey out of the adoption habitats, a mother and her young daughter came in and spent time with him. It was just them in the household, and they were looking for a friend. Jeffrey really fit the bill, and for good reason. He was really playful, friendly, didn't mind tummy rubs, was good about being held. Truly, a great cat for them. In fact, this was "just the cat [they] had been waiting for." I was very excited, and so were they. Sounded like a great adoption to be!
I did tell them, we need to hold off on the adoption for now. I noticed he's been drinking a lot, and before sending him home, I'd like to have him checked out by the vet on Tuesday to see what's up. I took their info so we could try and hold Jeffrey for them after his vet check-up.
What the vet found out was very depressing. A large solid lump on the kidney, that could be felt from touching the skin. X-rays showed a large mass there. Further investigation was worse. Even if operated on, this tumor had significantly affected Jeffrey's kidney functions. His quality of life would begin to decline. After a few days of second opinions and re-checks to verify his prognosis, it was decided the best thing to do was to euthanize him so he would not have to suffer.
And that leaves me with this family, the mother and daughter, who had found just the cat they had been waiting for. The cat they had been waiting for, Jeffrey, was soon to leave the earth.
I couldn't do it. I couldn't make the call. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep myself together. I asked LD to make the call. I decided to go to a different room, and not listen. It still bothers me, though. I feel awful. I know it must have broken that girl's heart. It really broke mine. Are they ever going to find the cat they were really looking for? I don't know, but I really hope so.
Now I bring myself back to one of those days, those long nights, when I get sad and think of some of these things, like poor Jeffrey. Why are humans the way we are? Why do we have emotions like this?
And then I think of Vinnie, the cat I wrote about in my very first blog. I feel a great sadness when I think of his passing, and I really miss him.
Tonight, I realize about the other things I think about when I think about him. About how happy he made me feel, and how much love I had for him. The way I would look forward to hearing his silly meow every morning. I don't miss him because something bad happened to him, but because I miss what he meant when he was with us, how he affected my life.