Visiting in Florida I browsed the websites of several local rescue groups. At the Central Brevard County Humane Society site I found this link to a great inexpensive resource for sheltered cats. It's a compact scratching pad made of corrugated cardboard that attaches to the bars of most kennels or condos. In a case of 50, the Stretch and Scratch costs about $1.40. It's a great addition to shelter care that is required if your group is an Open Paw shelter. People visiting with the cats before adopting will see how much they enjoy the opportunity to scratch, and the scratcher can be sent home with cats on adoption, as a 'starter scratcher.' Visit www.stretchandscratch.com
I found myself planning a visit to Dallas last September, to attend a LegalShield convention. I am a long-time animal rescue volunteer, and my wish to connect with local rescue groups was an attraction of the convention trip for me! I'd read a story about Seagoville, Texas and the attempt of a small group of people there to change the local animal control shelter to no kill status. The town was only 22 miles from my hotel in Dallas, and as luck would have it they were going to have an adoption event at the local Walgreens on the one evening I would be free during my trip.
Using Facebook, I 'friended' the Seagoville Animal Shelter and received a welcoming message from one of the group's members. She shared statistics about the shelter, ' Right now we have 9 kennels, 2 quarantine kennels and 40 dogs. Needless, to say we have problems but we are still managing to keep them all alive.'
I got more and more excited as I prepared for my visit with the Seagoville shelter folks until I was at last driving into the town itself. I stopped to ask directions and check out the local 'buzz' on the shelter. A man and his two daughters pointed me in the right direction, and told me they were friends of the shelter. They had heard about the recent improvements, but did not know the 'no-kill' description, which I shared.
Arriving at Walgreens, I saw a tent, table & chairs were being set up, with a banner to attract attention to the animals. An Australian flag flew in honor of a visitor from that country. She traveled much farther than I had! A handful of volunteers were hustling across the parking lot to carry armloads of pet supplies where they were needed. Kennels with several adult dogs and active older puppies, an exercise pen with three young pups and a small kennel with three kittens were all set up on the sidewalk along the wall of the store. Volunteers arranged adoption information on the tables and settled the dogs in their kennels.....the adoption evening was starting!
Visitors to the adoption event walked along the kennels, saying 'Hi' to the animals, while volunteers shared facts about each one. 'Business' was slow but steady, since a local football game was going on that evening. Still, the group was hopeful that adoptions would take place. The adoption event took on the flavor of a campground as we sat with our canvas chairs arranged in a circle and dogs joining the group of people sitting and talking together. We talked about shelter activities, marketing ideas, and 'hometown news.' Teambuilding, for sure! All we needed was a campfire.
As darkness fell, a mother and her daughters stopped by to visit with the puppies, and they fell immediately in love with a yellow lab mix pup. With the paperwork filled in, the interview completed and puppy care tips given, the new family member posed for a photo with 'his girls.' And then it was time to 'break camp.' As quickly as our little encampment had gone up, it was disassembled and packed into the volunteers' trucks and vans. After goodbye hugs for people and pets, dogs rode 'shotgun' on their way back to the shelter.
For volunteers, this is the life we choose....some at the event had worked all day to get dogs bathed and combed, and had driven to vet visits and on other errands. This was in addition to the everyday shelter activities of cleaning kennels, scooping poop and feeding and watering the animals. Then they spent the evening with the dogs, kittens and puppies. What keeps them going? That Friday night it was the smiles of two little girls holding their new puppy under the big Texas sky.
If you would like to help the Seagoville Animal Shelter continue to be No Kill, 'friend' them on Facebook. They recently requested wire kennels, to use at the shelter and adoption events like this one. Their wish list also includes small stainless steel water buckets for the dogs at the shelter. They can always use donations of time as well as money.
My recent engagement as a kitten 'mama' is almost over. The kittens can climb up on the bed to wrestle now as easily as they once climbed up my leg. (Ouch!) It's hard to believe that the day before Thanksgiving they were only four days old and I was in a panic about how to keep the five of them fed. They were too small for bottles, but were able to suck at a small nipple. I spent the first day using a tiny (1 ml.) syringe stuck into a standard PetAg nipple to feed them. That worked, but a lot of the time I spent was getting the syringe refilled. The kittens liked to hold the nipple in their mouths, so I could remove the syringe, refill it and 'lock & load' the nipple already in the kitten's mouth. Advancing the plunger slowly filled the nipple, which the kittens could empty even with a fairly weak sucking reflex.
I realized what I needed was a larger syringe with a small pointed end. The pharmacist at Walgreen's Drugs handed me a bunch of 5 and 10 ml. medication syringes, and I took those home to work with. Amazingly, the nipples I was using snapped onto the 'business end' of the new syringes. The 10 ml. syringes never worked well, as they lacked the smooth action of the smaller 5ml. syringes....those were our mainstay for feedings from then on. The kittens thrived on KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer), and it was easy to keep track of how many ml. the kittens were getting. Other benefits of the syringes over standard bottlefeeding: Kittens swallowed less air, and less hand strength was needed...a real consideration when feeding so many kittens.
A friend who fosters young kittens told me recently that she thinks the arthritis in her hands was caused, or at least aggravated, by keeping pressure on a nursing bottle when feeding kittens in the past. I'm sharing this method to help folks like her, who would 'bottle'feed kittens more easily if the 'bottle' was a syringe!
This is the official notice that I'm delegating my kitten raising in future to other, younger, folks.....I'm here to give advice if needed. And, to my family and friends, next year you will get Christmas cards---even if they are e-cards!