Friday, March 30, 2012

The Cat Hoarder

Last post I mentioned that the woman who came in with the 10 cats was a Hoarder, and she was! But she proclaimed herself as a rescuer so I changed the name to "Rescuer" and titled this post appropriately "The Cat Hoarder". Last posts' lady brought in a total of 10 cats or less a day and many of them were spayed and neutered, meaning she at least tried to take care of them. They were not malnourished and seemed to be better cared for than other hoarders I've seen. Although they were all sick with URI and Feline Leukemia and least they didn't multiply like rabbits!

Allow me to share with you one of the craziest things I have seen to date at the shelter. A true hoarder that brought in a total of 30 cats...all at once. The woman who brought them in was the daughter of the older lady who was the actual hoarder, so I had to call to confirm with her that we had permission to receive the cats. The reason she was giving them up was that she had too many, obviously, and she was in the hospital because many viciously attacked her whenever strangers would enter her home. I couldn't take a picture of this for confidential reasons, so I thought maybe I could show you through a little diagram. Picture this:

1 Mini Van       +             5 Cages              +         30 Cats

The putrid smell that reeked from the van hit me like a heavy wall that made me take a couple of steps back and look for fresh air. The cages had cats packed into them and were piled up on top of each other. They were all panting and breathing very heavily because of stress and dehydration.

None of the black cages had a plastic bottom to them, so there were huge holes on the bottom of each cage; here laid the problem. Each cage held at least 15 cats and if we tried to move the cage up and out, they would easily slip out of the bottom holes and bolt away. So we either had to remove the cats one by one into smaller carriers or somehow cover the bottom and move the cages onto these rolling carts. We attempted to move them into carriers, but turns out they were actually very feral and wouldn't let any of us get close to them. Somehow we managed to slide these square plastic boards under the cages and slide the cages onto the carts. Finally, we were able to transfer the cages with the cats into the buildings with fresh water and air conditioning!

I don't know what the legal issues were that she got into because of this or if she was penalized. I do hope she was because this to me is cruelty to animals and many of them had to be put down because of the diseases and bad conditions they were in. She didn't even bother spaying or neutering ANY of them, and the daughter told me that at one point 7 of them were pregnant. How someone allows that to happen is beyond me.

All of these different cases I've been seeing at the shelter is alarming to me and motivates me even more to pursue a career in Veterinary Science. I have decided to work in the field of Shelter Medicine and help reduce the number of unwanted pets as well as rescue those that are homeless. I want to better understand the protocols and legal issues regarding shelter medicine and the urgency of the problems associated with it. This way I can start to help those pets who need it and still pursue my dream of becoming a Veterinarian. Maybe then I can prevent cases like these from happening and be able to help the animal victims (and people) that go through this.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Asima and Dog Behavior

One of the most interesting things about my job and something I've been learning about a lot is dog behavior. The shelter environment is really stressful on them and over time they can develop some behavioral issues if they are not socialized and worked with. Which is why the volunteers are so important at shelters! If you are ever wondering how you could help rescue animals, start by volunteering at a shelter. I have seen very skittish and nervous dogs improve and become more comfortable with people by working with volunteers and/or the staff. They need our attention and love! :)

I've been reading a lot on dog behavior and learning SO much about why they act the way they do and how we can help them. Shelter dogs though are much trickier to work with because of the environment they're in versus working with a dog in a family home. I'm still learning and trying to do my best in order to help these dogs out so they can be adopted out quickly. It's a work in progress and I will definitely have another post once I finish the book I'm reading just for dog behavior! So stay tuned.

Meet Asima :) She got adopted and went home today after being at the shelter for 6 months. She was one of my favorite dogs at the shelter and I truly hope it all works out and that she has a permanent home. I got really attached to some dogs when I first started working at the shelter but I realized how difficult it is to part with them after getting so emotionally invested in them. I still give them all a lot of love and I do get close to many, especially the ones that have been here for a while, but at the same time I've been trying to not get sooo close. I had to turn away when she walked out with her new owners because of how sad I was to see her go! (Note: I am very happy that she got adopted)! She's been here since I started and Asima was a dog who came in to the shelter with a VERY skittish and timid personality; so I decided to put some before and after pictures of her.

As you can see in the picture above, she would always crouch down, have her ears laid back, and carried her tail in between her legs. Typical body language of a scared and frightened dog that doesn't yet trust people. After working with her and giving her time to open up, she would come right up to us and give us so much love! Notice how perky and alert her ears and face is in the second picture - what a transformation! The key is to not force them and let the dogs become comfortable with you with time. Which is why it is so frustrating when people return dogs after only a couple of days! Every dog is different and some need more time than others to learn to trust people again and know that everything will be ok.

We had a return today for a small Corgi mix named Sunshine that was adopted out this past Saturday. The couple said that she would always crouch down and shy away anytime someone would try and pet her, and they thought she would bite them. OH man...they didn't even give her a week to get comfortable in her new home! And I bet they were trying to force her to like them versus letting her come to them. To top it off, they wanted to exchange her and just get another dog...ha yeah right like we would let that happen.


Anyways, I added a video that I took of Asima the day before she went home :) It was truly bittersweet because I am happy that she got adopted...but at the same time I'm sad that I can't see her every day. She was the first dog I really worked with and learned how to train and socialize dogs. It was with Asima that I realized that not every dog is doomed to be a nervous wreck for the rest of their lives...they are capable of change and can adapt if given the chance :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Return and a "Rescuer"

Just another manic Monday at the shelter...but not really! Lol we had no pick ups today and only 2 adoptions today, meaning it was a pretty slow day . It's nice to have a day where we aren't all going crazy and stressed out. We were able to catch up and knock off a lot of things we've been meaning to do but haven't had the time for.  We spent most of the day cleaning, doing laundry, bathing some animals, and restocking medicine and other items. I was also able to update some of the cats with their vaccinations and flea preventative. They have to get some once a month and some of them have been here for longer than a month. Tomorrow though we're going to have 10 dog and 5 cat we prepped ourselves for tomorrows ensuing madness.

I was also in cat receiving today and the two people that did bring in cats turned out to be some interesting ones. The first was a woman who adopted one of our sweet calico female cats about 2 weeks ago, and she ended up returning her today. Her excuse was that the cat meowed too much for attention. She then proceeded to tell me that she is going to pick up a cat she adopted from animal services tomorrow. Seriously? Basically, she got sick that this cat meowed too much so she was "done" with her and decided to try out another one. It's sickening to think that this woman believes that these precious animals are like clothing items...just try one on and return it if it doesn't "fit". The confusion and stress it brings to the animal is terrible and it makes me sad that these poor things have to put up with people like that.

After she left another woman came in that has brought in a total of 50 cats to the shelter, including today's 8. FIFTY! To make a long story short, she is a self-proclaimed "rescuer" that couldn't afford to care for any of them any more, so she has brought in 10 cats at a time until today (to bring in the last 8 of the bunch). She called us before she started bringing in the cats to make sure that we wouldn't call the police on her and to see if we would accept her animals. We said yes as long as she brought in 10 at a time and tried to find homes for at least some of the cats. What is REALLY sad to me is that she believes she was a rescuer when in reality she was a hoarder trying to make excuses...a real rescuer actually tries to adopt out animals and not just keep them.

The bawling woman was repeating over and over that they were all "sweet and lovable" kitties and I took her word for it. And this is what I got:

Turns out most of these "adorable kitties" were ridiculously feral and all had Feline Leukemia and Aids. As I was moving one of them, it turned on me and quickly managed to scratch the crap out of my arm. Ugh. I was so sure I had a good grip on her scruff and legs but somehow she was able to swipe at me and launch out of my arms. I'm assuming the woman tried to save outside cats along with some indoor cats, and those feral ones carried most of these diseases and transmitted it to the others. Although one tried to kill me, I truly feel terrible for these cats because of the conditions they were living in and the diseases they were carrying. Just another Monday at the shelter!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cats Cats and more Cats!

I've taken a good amount of cat pictures at the shelter and I thought I'd make a post to showcase all of them. Like I said before, I've never been much of a cat person but working at the shelter has made me realize how freaking adorable cats are! They are unique and have funny little quirks that make them hilarious and adorable.

Bella the Munchkin recently came in to the shelter and I just HAD to take a picture of her because of her breed, called the Munchkin. They are known to have small round faces and short stubby legs...and I find it absolutely adorable! Bella is truly a little Munchkin with a curious and extroverted personality.

Rascal is an orange medium haired cat that is around 8 years old; a good ol' senior kitty with a calm and mellow personality. Notice anything different about him? Yup, he has one ear missing! I was told that it was because of untreated ear mites that he lost his ear but after some research, I don't think ear mites can cause this (I could be wrong though). My theory is that he was born like that, he was either attacked by dog (happens often), or it could very well be the ear mites. Who knows!

In my previous post I mentioned that Bella was a very popular name, and as you can see in this post...I wasn't kidding! Two more Bella's to add to the goodness. These three are some of my favorite cats because of their sweet personalities and beautiful markings. Bonfe is a classic long haired Tuxedo cat while Bella has the Calico colorings; both refer to the color patterns and not the breed of the cat.

Calico's are mostly white with two other colors, such as orange and black. Tortoise shells, also called Torties, are similar but have no white and are usually mottled in their colors. Tortie and Calico's are both known to be ONLY female and not male. I found this so interesting that only females can have these colorings and not males, so of course I looked more into it. Coat colors are genetically linked to the X-chromosome and the calico and tortie color patterns are mutations on the X chromosome. Females with these colorings have what is called an X-inactivation which enables them to carry the colored mutation.

Some males have been known to have the calico and tortie patterns but it is very rare. Also, if they do it is usually because they have an extra X chromosome (so XXY) and are sterile because of it - this is also known as Klinefelter's Syndrome

Side note: In Ancient folklore, Calicos and Torties are believed to bring good luck to their owners!

Cats use their nose to smell their surroundings just like dogs do! They have up to 19 million odor-sensitive cells in their noses versus humans who have only 5 million. Although neither can compare to the impressive 200 million odor-sensitive cells that dogs have!


I wanted to add this video at the end of the post of two cats playing in one of the rooms together. The cat on top of the chair is playing with the one under the blanket and I luckily caught it on video :) I apologize for the poor video quality, I recorded it from my phone. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pet Names and Tapeworms

Today I got to start off my day by finding worms in the feces of one of our dogs. What a wonderful way to start the morning...not! I had to move both of them into Isolation once I got the fecal tested and made sure they were going to be treated. One of my favorite dogs, Asima, happened to be one of the unlucky ones to have the worms. Throughout the day I've been giving her the special treatment and giving her lots of love every time sneak back to Iso (I'm going to have a post dedicated just about her later). After a fecal (exam), we found that it was tapeworms that they are infected with which look like long, thin grains of rice embedded in the poop. I honestly can't look at rice or noddles the same anymore...although that doesn't stop me from eating it ;)

Tapeworms are transmitted to the animal when they accidentally ingest a flea that has tapeworm larvae. Luckily it doesn't make them sick and is not contagious to other dogs, and it's fairly easy to treat with some anti parasite medication.  I have the privilege of giving them the medication in the morning along with the other dog meds :) I've seen a bunch of other parasites and worms since I've been here, such as hookworms and roundworms, but I'll write about those next time I see them again.

Her name is what???

One of the things I can't get over at the shelter is pet names...I have seen some of the funniest and quirkiest names since working here and it never gets old! I read an article on Vetstreet that had the "Top 10 Trendiest Pet Names" as well as as the least trendiest and I posted the pictures here to share. Interestingly enough I have seen every single one of those names used (the trendy ones) at the shelter, and some I have seen multiple times. While the ones on the least trendiest list I have seen only a handful of those names used.

It seems to me that people have been going from those common pet names such as "Lucky" or "Tigger" to more short and cute names like "Lulu" and "Thor". It's fun to see the large variety of names the animals come in with! We keep the names the animals come in with although there have been times when we do get those that cross the line and we have to rename. We had one puppy that had the unfortunate name of "Stoner" and another that had the nickname "B.A.", which stood for Bad Ass.

One of the names that has been growing in popularity in cats AND in dogs that has made all of us get confused at the shelter is....BELLA! Oh my goodness has this name been driving me crazy! We had at one point around 5 dogs named Bella and 4 cats all with the same name. Can you imagine how confusing it would get when someone would ask about a dog named Bella when there were like 5 others? I get it Twilight, you have grown into a cult like movement that everyone has become obsessed with but this is getting ridiculous!

Anyways, now to end with post with pictures of puppies! These Doberman Pinscher mixed pups got adopted yesterday but I wanted to share these pics anyways. We also got 2 pitbull and 2 other terrier mix puppies today, so I'll probably post pictures of them tomorrow if I can snag pictures of them. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Why Adopt?

"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole." - Roger Caras

Why not adopt is the better question! Not many people understand why adopting an animal from a shelter can be such an incredibly rewarding experience for you and your pet. Shelter pets are not "damaged goods" and are not programmed to love just one person for eternity. They are the most forgiving creatures I have ever seen and will happily love you unconditionally if they are given the opportunity. With some time and patience, many have this infectious joi-de-vivre that would make just about anyone smile :)
Let me hit you with some facts:

·       According to the ASPCA and The Humane Society of the United States, there are over 5-8 million pets entering shelters nationwide each year. This includes pets relinquished to local shelters and those picked up by animal control.
·       About 3-5 million of them are euthanized (60% of dogs and 70% of cats) for various reasons.
·       25% of these animals are purebred.
·       The cost of spaying or neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising puppies or kittens for a year.
·       About 62 percent of all households in the United States have a pet. (Source: APPA)

If you want some more stats, check out this website (

Now, it's one thing to read these statistics online and another to actually see it in person. I see these dogs and cats being dropped off at the shelter, scared out of their minds...wondering why on earth their owners would just leave them? It's heartbreaking to see them come in and stay at the shelter for countless months at a time. Of course all the "pretty" ones and smaller dogs get adopted out faster...while the others have no choice but to wait until someone falls in love with them and take them home. 

 Ok but...WHY should I adopt?
Now onto the main objective of this post...why should you adopt? If you're looking into getting a new furry friend to add to your family, adoption is the way to go! If you are looking for a specific breed, I would also recommend going to a RELIABLE and reputable breeder only after searching through rescues and shelters. But I will never ever recommend going to a pet shop…EVER. Do not fuel the pet mill industry that uses dogs as breeding machines for money (more on that in a later post).

  1.  Save some money $
    • Adopting an animal will save you a lot more money than buying a pet from a pet store. Most shelters and rescues include the age appropriate vaccinations, spay and neutering, microchip, and other extras. Fees range from $35 to $300 depending on the size and funding of the rescue group. Larger shelters usually have cheaper adoption fees than smaller rescues (more info on that later).
  2. Puppies/Kittens vs. Older Pets
    • Do you honestly have the time, money, energy, and patience for a puppy or a kitten? These youngsters need at LEAST 4 hours a day of your attention. Not including the time spent training your pup or kitten. If you've got the time and want a young one, then go for it! If not...I would suggest adopting an older pet :)
  3. Variety Variety Variety!
    • There’s an animal out there for everyone! About 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred, with the majority being mixed breeds. (Source: NCPPSP) Mixed breeds are just as loving and wonderful as purebreeds!
  4. You Know What You’re Getting
    • Is it good with kids? Good with cats? With dogs? Housebroken? Does it know commands? All that jazz. With a puppy (or kitten), sometimes it can be more of a gamble how that animal’s personality will be when it is older. The perks of adopting an older pet is knowing it's personality and seeing if it will be a good fit for you.
  5. Support
    • Shelter staffs are armed with knowledge in order to help you, the adopter, out with any questions you may have. We also know a lot about the animals and guide you in the process of adopting a dog or cat.
  6. You'll be saving a life. If that isn’t satisfying enough, then I don’t know what is :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

There's a first for everything!

I had a lot of "firsts" today...we've been having some staff changes and I've been assigned with more responsibility since I have been here a little longer than some. I am now fully trained in receiving (finally) and have gotten the hang of getting all the meds together as well as the paperwork. I also drew blood today for a couple of dogs, which was quite nerve wrecking at first! I have held dogs before to get their blood taken out, but never actually taken the blood out myself with the syringe. So today I started with an easier dog, a big old sweet pit that had easy veins to find...and after doing him I felt a lot more comfortable doing shots. I just had to get over that tiny fear of hurting the animal because I thought I would end up doing it wrong, but now that I got those nerves shaken out...I'm good to go!

Most of my day was spent learning receiving and practicing all the paperwork and computer stuff; nothing too exciting. But just as I clocked out and was headed to go get my stuff, my boss told me to go to receiving (since everyone else had pretty much left) and receive the incoming dog. Turns out it was an OR PTS, which means "Owner Request - Put To Sleep" that is only for sick and old dogs. A woman brought hers in, accompanied by her boyfriend, after having the dog for 17 years. She was in tears the whole time while she said goodbye to her fragile pup. The dog was a black lab mix that she's had her ever since she was 16. The lab was wrapped tightly in a blanket, clearly on the last legs of her life with her eyes slightly closed. I signed her in as quickly as I could, made sure I got the owner's signature of approval, and carried her to the back room to put this old girl to rest.

This was also a first for me...the first dog I've ever held for euthanasia. You must be certified to do the injection, but not to hold the animals which is what I did while my boss did the injection part. It's a lot easier on me mentally knowing that the animal is older and sick, and that we're humanely relieving them of their pain. I've only seen one dog get put to sleep before, but I only watched and wasn't really involved in it. This was my first time actually being a part of it - two people are usually needed to do it; one to hold and one to do the injection.

My boss asked me if I wanted to be certified to do the euthanasias...but to be honest I'm not really sure if I want to or not, so I told him I'd get back to him. I'm not sure if I can mentally and emotionally handle the stress that goes along with that! But at the same time, the more of us that are certified...the more we can help each other out and not have just certain people be the only ones that do it. My co-worker who is thinking of getting certified also said this to me: "someone's going to have to do it, and better it be us who will be gentle and loving with them until the very end than someone else who probably won't give them that comfort they deserve". Also, if I want to become a veterinarian in the future...this is just something that I'm going to have to deal with eventually, so why not now right? Ugh, this is my dilemma right now and I'm so torn on what to do! To be or not to be certified...THAT is the question.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Star Pets need forever homes

Today was quite a busy day! As soon as we opened, the lady who relinquished Frimousse the cat yesterday had a change of heart and came back to get him today. Her 8 year old daughter would not stop crying all night so she they are somehow going to make it work and decided to take him back home. I'm glad he was able to go back home and be with his family rather than be at the shelter.

Right after she left, this guy who came in on Monday to adopt a dog came back again today. He was denied on Monday because his landlord specifically said absolutely NO dogs allowed where he lives, and to not call back again for a dog adoption. He tried to be sly today thinking that we would forget or something, and put his friends number as his "landlord". Little did he know that we had his name on file and we obviously remembered him because of the little temper tantrum he had two days ago. Also, he only spoke Spanish so I was the lucky one that had to deal with him and translate. I told him today, again, that he could not adopt the dog and he would have to look elsewhere for another. It got to the point that I had to call my manager to get him to leave the facility or he would be forced to. Dealing with difficult people is a big stressor in working in a shelter, but it's something that comes with the job. I just need to grow a pair and be a little bit more thick skinned to be able to deal with them.

During the day we were talking about two of our dog star pets and how we really want them to get a home soon. My co-worker thought of the brilliant idea of possibly snazzing up their cages to grab people's attention, and gave me the task of doing it. So I got my creative juices flowing during my lunch break and tackled the arts and crafts project after. We have some arts and crafts stuff in the back from previous summer camps, and I used a foam board to make a sign that people can see as soon as they come in. I also decorated their cages with foam stars, put cute bandanas on them, and have some flyers around with their information (pics below).

Lucky and Ratchett our are two featured Star Pets and both have been here since September of last year. They are both my special "projects" for the month and hopefully they will be able to get adopted soon!

This is what it says on the bottom picture paper with both their information (so you don't have to squint):

Lucky: Hello! I'm Lucky, a 2 year old male Pitbull who came here because my previous family lost their home. I'm good with children and other dogs but never been around cats before. I am playful, friendly, and love playing with water. I even know sit, give paw, and roll over. Do you have space in your heart and home for me?

Ratchett: Hi! I'm Ratchett, an 8 year old male Pitbull/Rottie mix who came here because my previous family had to move. I'm good with older children and other dogs but never been around cats before. I am sweet, playful, and loving. I even know sit, stay, and come. Plus I'm already neutered and can join your loving family today!

I had fun with it and I'm hoping it will get people interested in adopting them. We also received 8 new dogs from County (or Animal Services) towards the end of the day - so plenty of new faces! It's nice to be able to receive dogs from County and save them from their imminent doom if they don't get adopted out over there. It also means a lot more cleaning tomorrow morning...woohoo!

Now, I just wanted to end this post with 3 pictures of my cat Jax. I took some pictures of him this morning while he played with my shoes as I was putting them on and the last pic is my favorite. He has the sweetest little frimousse (ha!) face ever, as if saying "but where are you going, are you leaving?". 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Frimousse The Cat

This is a short but sweet post because I am extra tired today and don't feel many words flowing out of my brain at the moment. If I write about everything that happened in the day, I would be writing forever and have a super long post every time! So I just wanted to write about two things today:

One- We had a cat come in to receiving today that was probably twice the size of a normal cat, around 15 pounds, named Frimousse. The lady who dropped him off was from France and was leaving the cat in tears because her 8 year old daughter developed severe allergies to the cat. They were also moving back to France and unfortunately could not take him along with them. I thought the cat's name and humongous size were worth noting for today! I asked her what the name stood for, and in french 'frimousse" means sweet, cute little face. How adorable is that? Just picture a huge white cat with a tiny sweet little's quite hilarious really.


 -First, remember Trip the three-legged cat? My coworker brought him back from fostering because his scars have healed enough that he can be out and about again. Turns out that one of our volunteers who usually fosters kittens fell in love with Trip and decided to take him in! My coworker was so happy that he got placed in a home so quickly, we're just hoping he will get a long with her other 2 cats at home. Let's hope it all works out!

-And remember Maggie the Lab from my previous post "Maggie and Me"? Well she actually got adopted out again today and hopefully the 3rd times a charm! The lady who adopted her had no children and seemed very excited to be adopting her. It's a good thing she had no kids because the two previous families who returned her had kids and said that she was too "hyper" and "energetic" around the kids and kept on pushing them down. So maybe this home will finally be her perfect fit! Every time she got returned (twice), her anxiety would get progressively worse and I don't blame her. So I'm hoping for the best and that she finally got her happy ending :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lucky Charm

Today started out pretty slow, I worked cats in the morning and just did the daily chores that needed to be done: wash the carpets for the cages, clean litter boxes, do laundry, give out medicine, etc. etc. The most exciting thing that happened this morning was when I went to the outside patio in free roam room 3, I found Zena, a small female gray cat, sitting triumphantly behind a half-dead lizard. She was looking up at me as if saying "Yup, I found right?". I couldn't help but laugh until I saw the poor thing trying to feebly move, probably trying to get away from Zena. I couldn't find it in myself to squish it I "finished" him by putting it in a bowl of water. Oh the things I have to deal with working in cats.

I was able to walk dogs for the rest of the day since there were no volunteers today. It was such a beautiful day today so I was very excited that I could take advantage of the weather! I started to walk some of the bigger dogs, gave myself a break by walking some smaller dogs, then went back to the bigger ones (we have more big dogs than small). I love walking the big dogs but man can they pull hard! Shelter dogs unfortunately don't get the amount of exercise that dogs should normally get, so when they do...they can get REALLY hyper when they first come out of their kennels. And who gets to rein in all of that energy? This girl. It's a lot of fun because once I get them into the play yard, they get to run around and play fetch, and today I got to use the mini dog pool and water hose. Most dogs absolutely LOVE to play with the water, and there's one in particular that goes nuts in the water - and that is an awesome dog named Lucky.

Lucky is a 2 year old Pitbull that has been here since September 8 of last year, so around 6 months. Way too long in my opinion! He is now a "Star Pet", which means his adoption fee is half of the other dogs since he has been here for such a long time and we want him to get adopted ASAP. He is such a smart, sweet, and happy go-lucky (literally) dog that needs a good home! We call him "Lucky Charm" because every dog that he has been paired up with has gotten adopted (around 5-7 dogs), but he has yet to go home. My goal is to get him a home by the end of this month. So let's see if the luck can actually go his way and if my goal can be accomplished :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Heterochromia and Hip Dysplasia


There are three dogs at the shelter that have one blue eye and one dark eye, which is called complete heterochromia. It's very rare for us to even get one dog that has that it and now we have three! So of course I had to write about it and get some more info on what it really is. Heterochromia is the result of either lack or excess of the pigment melanin in the animal's hair and skin. It's believed to be inherited and carried in the genes in the animal's family line.

The eye that is blue is the one where there is little to no melanin while the darker eye has a higher concentration of melanin. There is also partial and/or sectoral heterochromia, where part of one iris of an eye has two different colors (more uncommon). Heterochromia is seen in dogs, cats, horses, and other animals (such as cattle and ferrets). It is more common in some breeds than in others, such as Siberian Huskies, Australian Shepherds, Collies, and Dalmations. Same goes for cats! Turkish Vans and Japanese Bobtails are more prone to it and in horses, those with a pinto coloring are also. The pigment melanin is also connected to hair color, so many animals with the split eye color tend to have a lighter coat coloring. Some can have leucism, which is a condition of reduced skin pigmentation (not albinism) and not just of melanin.

Also, those with the merle coat gene are more likely to have sectoral heterochromia versus the complete condition. Those dogs who are homozygous for the merle gene, or have two copies for the gene, have a higher chance of being born deaf. Siberian huskies on the other hand do NOT have the merle gene, so they will most likely not be born deaf.

Now after all that spiel on eye color, the dog I was able to get a picture of came in about a week ago and he's a male Golden Retriever named Dusty. He's unique to me because of his coat color AND the complete heterochromia that gives him the really cool eye colors. Also, he is neither husky nor does he have the merle gene...which leads me to believe that he has leucism! I'm almost positive he has leucism that could be a result from the split eye colors he has. His coat is not white but it is nearly white (so he's not albino) - but he definitely does not have the "golden" color of a normal retriever. The other two dogs that have the heterochromia are shepherd mixes and one has the merle gene, so they're the more common breeds you see with the split eye colors.

Unfortunately for Dusty, he tested positive for heartworms, which means he will be treated in Isolation for a period of at LEAST 1 to 3 months at the shelter. The good news is that he will be put up for adoption eventually and I KNOW for a fact that he will be adopted very very quickly. I mean look at what a handsome looking dog he is! Plus he is a very sweet and mellow dog, so I'm sure he'd fit right in to a nice family. Here's some pictures of Dusty:

Hip Dysplasia

I wanted to quickly write about this! We had a dog named Sugar, a young German Shepherd/Lab mix, who came in about a week and a half ago. I saw her come in and the young lady who was bringing her in said to us that she wasn't "leash trained" and didn't like to walk on it. It's not that uncommon to see dogs who don't like to walk on leashes simply because they've never been trained! So I had to carry poor Sugar (might I add she weighed at least 50 pounds) into her kennel because she had planted herself firmly on the ground and it didn't look like she was planning on going anywhere.

I had wrote a note on her cage letting the volunteers and staff know that she needed to be walked on a harness until she was properly leash trained. What was weird was that we noticed she didn't even want to move IN her kennel at all! We put her on a vet check and it turns out the poor girl had hip dysplasia! :( No wonder she didn't feel like moving, she was in so much pain that she had trouble getting up and didn't seem to have any energy (especially for a young dog). All these symptoms are common in dogs that have hip dysplasia and some dogs are more prone to it than others. Large breeds such as Labs, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers are more likely to get it.

Hip dysplasia is studied heavily in veterinary science and is the main cause of arthritis of the hips in dogs. It is an abnormal formation in the hip socket that occurs when the femur bone doesn't fit correctly into the pelvic socket (in simple terms). You can alleviate some of the pain by giving them pain medication and taking steps to make them more comfortable...such as weight loss and light exercise. But for the most part, surgery is highly recommended - either reshaping the joint to make the movement easier or doing a complete hip replacement. Both are costly and unfortunately many can't afford the surgery...which is where we come in. Owners drop them off at the shelter and some can't fess up and tell us the REAL reason why they can't (or won't) take care of them anymore. Sugar was sent to a rescue who is going to try and help her and give her the treatment she needs to get better. So hopefully she will be able to live a more comfortable life after being treated :)

Monday, March 5, 2012


Now to some quick updates! There has been SOOOO much happening at the shelter that it's hard to keep up with the writing. So I'll keep this quick and to the point :)

First, remember those two resident fat campers? Guess what? They BOTH got adopted! Woo hoo! Oh and of course the puppies didn't last...all four have gotten adopted which is no surprise there. Yay for the puppies!

We've also had a lot of changes in staff, but I prefer not to divulge on that information. But because of these changes, I've had the opportunity to start getting trained in Isolation which I am very excited about! Isolation, or Iso for short, is where we separate all the sick cats and dogs and medicate and observe them over time. I have just started learning how to clean, which is pretty much the same routine as the healthy cats and dogs...but just a little more extra steps to secure spreading of the diseases. Mainly cat Iso is the one we keep EXTRA separate since we have to deal with I can no longer work with healthy cats (when in Iso) to keep from spreading any illnesses. I am allowed to work with the dogs though since we don't really have any contagious dogs in Iso. Fun stuff! I also get to work with the veterinarians a little bit more since I will be handling vet checks more often.

Oh and one more thing! The COOLEST dog came into the shelter this weekend - I've never seen one in person before and we were all so in awe when he came in. It was a Newfoundland (pictures below), they are huge water rescue dogs that are really only seen up North. He got adopted in a day (again, no surprise there) and I'm so excited I actually got to see one! The epitome of a gentle giant.

Maggie and Me

"The people who are hardest to love are the ones who need it most."
-Mother Teresa

I began reading this book called Rex and the City: True Tales of a Rescue Dog Who Rescued a Relationship by Lee Harrington. I was searching for a new book on my Kindle and stumbled across this book (for free)...and thought, why not? I absolutely LOVE this book! It's a wonderful story about a couple that adopted a shelter dog and went through a series of ups and downs while bringing their new dog, Wallace, into their lives. It's called A Memoir of a Woman, a Man, and a Dysfunctional Dog in the hardcover edition, but Rex and The City in the eBook form.

I found this book very easy to relate to and although I'm not even halfway through the book, I already love it! The couple adopted the dog Wallace and realized that maybe they were in over their heads with a dog that was extremely anxious, fear aggressive, and scared of pretty much anything that moved. It was a long road of trial and error and with patience and lots of love, Wallace essentially rescued them and gave them unconditional love once he accepted them into his own heart.

She wrote in the beginning "...An abused shelter dog might be harder to manage at first, but with love, patience, trust, conditioning - and a healthy sense of humor - your dog will be transformed in no time. And so will you." - Lee Harrington. This goes hand in hand with quote from the top of the post and it is so true!

The reason I chose to write about this and have the title ("Maggie and Me") is because of something that happened at the shelter today. Last Wednesday, a very nice family adopted a beautiful black lab from the shelter named Maggie. Today, they ended up returning her because she was too "active and anxious" for them...after only five days! She reminded me SO much of the lab from Marley and Me the movie...and if you've seen that movie, you know that a dog does not adjust to you and your family in a matter of days.  Also, some dogs are just more rambunctious and energetic than others just like people. And can you blame her for being so anxious those first couple of days entering a new home? Apparently they took her to their vet and were recommended to put her on anti-depressents and anxiety medication. Oh yes.

Maggie is not the first dog to be returned of because anxiety or some other kind of behavioral issue. Now, not all shelter dogs develop (or have) a behavioral issue...but after a while many do and with some time, they come around and adjust very well into their new homes. If only people would give them some time to adjust and give them lots of love! Like Mother Teresa said...the people (or dogs!) that are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most. <3

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Meet Jax

The cat is finally out of the bag (literally) - my boyfriend and I recently adopted a cat named Jax from the shelter! We've had him for about three weeks now but I was waiting until the right moment to share this. I've never been much of a cat person and I was hesitant to get a cat because of my allergies - but so far it's been working out great! I vacuum and clean regularly so the hair doesn't build up and my cat allergies have been considerably less intense ever since I began working at the shelter.  I thought that I would be going crazy working with the cats at work but as each day passes, I feel it less and less. I don't ever sneeze anymore and my eyes haven't gotten red and watery in weeks. Yay!

Anyways, back to my new kitty. Jax is a 2 year old male domestic short hair tabby cat that loves to be petted and loved. When I first saw him in his cage, I panicked because he was in such a deep sleep that I had to shake him to see if he was ok. I honestly thought he was dead. After a minute or two he woke up and came right up to my face to snuggle. That's when I knew he was the one! He also doesn't mind, if anything loves, to be rubbed on his belly, which is VERY unusual for cats.

Here's a little picture collage of him. ENJOY! :)

About the pictures: (from top left to the right)

1) The first pic is of Jax at the shelter when I first met him - he used to sleep ALL the time and liked to be in his litter box.
2) His first day at his new home :)
3,4) I've found that he loves to sunbathe and just lie in the sun for hours.
5) Doing what he does best...sleeping.
6) We've caught him drinking from the toilet a couple of times even though he has clean water in his bowl. YUCK!
7) He loves his belly rubs (unlike many cats).
8) Watching me do laundry from the hamper :)
9) Last but not least, he is an easily entertained cat - he found amusement from an empty cardboard box with his toys inside.