Thursday, September 9, 2010

The End of the Day...

It was a hard day today. Media interviews, meetings and e-mails about policy and politics took up way too much of the day. But it's how the day ends that carries into the evening at home.

We had closed for the night and as I was about to leave the shelter CC, one of the field officers, said Dr. P was looking for me. I walked into the clinic to find a cute, well-fed, well-taken-care-of Yorkie in a carrier on the exam table. CC had gone out out on a call for an injured animal and found this little guy lying on the side of the road, probably hit by a car. He was drooling, couldn't stand, had head injuries and appeared to be in extreme pain. Dr. P was on the phone trying to track down the owner through a microchip detected in the dog. We hoped to find the owners and get their pet back home to them so they could get him to their vet. Instead, after three phone calls ending with an answering machine at the corporate offices of a huge breeder corporation, we have a severely injured animal which we believe has an owner somewhere and no clue as to who they are. So now we have to decide whether to keep him as comfortable as possible in the hope an owner will appear tomorrow or to euthanize him to put him out of pain and distress. We do not have the resources to provide the kind of care a dog that has been hit by a vehicle needs to successfully recover.

Finding microchips that lead to no contact information, breeder information, previous owner information, disconnected telephone numbers is a daily occurrence at our shelter. Why would someone who supposedly loves their pet not update their information when they move or not even register the chip? It makes our job of uniting lost pets so much harder.

We were working on the Yorkie when LH brought us a tote (like the ones you buy at Target to store your Christmas ornaments) with five kittens about four weeks old. Someone had driven up to the front door, left the tote and driven away. Coward didn't even have the *%$# t bring them to us when we are open. They were so sweet, eyes wide open looking up at us crying, but the mom to continue nursing them, we just couldn't keep them.

Our little Yorkie is now in a kennel in the clinic, hopefully asleep on pain medication and steroids. Maybe tomorrow will bring a successful resolution.

I got home about 7:30 this evening feeling very discouraged - I hope tomorrow is a better day.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Where has ten months gone!!?!!

Yes, it's been 10 months since I posted here and good changes have been taking place. Among the most obvious are the new outdoor play yards and the outdoor dog runs. Now our dogs get more time to play outside. Law students painted the public areas of the shelter last month in blues, green and yellow, a huge improvement for both the staff and our visitors. I know it's made a big difference in my mood when I go in.

The most exciting change is to come - we've opened bids to build a new surgical suite, surgery prep and surgery holding area. We are going to upgrade the clinic space and improve all the interior animal spaces with solotubes (skylights) to bring in natural light. It's not the $8.6 million upgrade/renovation I'd like to be undertaking but that will come, someday.

Since my last post we've had a change in our city's elected officials and unfortunately, the shelter and animal welfare challenges are not of the same importance to the new regime. Maybe it is better to ignored than on the firing line but I miss the support from the top I used to have.

I have missed writing here and hope to be much more regular as we move into fall.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Time flys when .......

More than two months since I was here, again. And like the rest of life, both good things and bad things have happened at the shelter.

We have lost another kennel position and they aren't letting me fill four others. The five new positions and the people who filled them are working out better than I could have expected. A supervisor is out ill for an extended time. We have added another location to receive dogs in our transfer program. Two steps forward, one step back.

It's so hard to live with how the economy has affected our city and therefore, our budget. We have made so many strides over the past 18 months and there is so much more I want to do. But it's hard to argue with so many people out of work and children going hungry. We must remember that our job is to take care of our animals and to keep the challenges of the shelter in your face!

I have become the kitty nursery lately as well as the favored location for our more unusual residents. I have four tiny little kittens that have the run of the office and of me! The tiny gray one is still suckling so crawls up my arm to my neck and tries to nurse. Then she gets mad when she doesn't get any milk and starts to bite me. It's a good thing she is so cute! Then there is BatCat - a little tabby with a scrawny neck and huge ears. She is very loving and crawls up my leg to sit in my lap. The other two play and play and all four fall asleep about 3pm. The two gerbils that have just arrived in my office are the best kitty tv ever.

Midnight, the front office cat, has decided that she wants to be an outside cat and takes to sneaking to the outer lobby and then outside. She will then wait by the front door demanding to be let in whenever she wants. Her hair is finally growing out after her tangle with the pest strip in the volunteer office.

Thanks for the push LM!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It's been way too long

Yes, waaay too long since I was here. But while it's been more than two months since I blogged, it's been on my mind almost every day. I don't know how many times I've thought "I should get a photo of that to post" or " I need to tell that story". It's been Napoleon, Hershey, Toffer and Jack. It's been Georgie and now he has become even more a part of the family at home and how Midnight has become such a fixture at the office. It's been the success of the new software and new staff and the loss of other staff due to circumstances beyond my control.

I'm going to try to catch up, try to tell these stories that make up every day at the shelter and in the field. Because each animal important, and tells the big story of how our community regards its animals.

Monday, June 29, 2009


That's what cars are - ovens. When it's 101 degrees outside they're really hot ovens. Why can't people understand that.

A few days ago we had a women come to the shelter to surrender a dog that a "friend" had left at her home. We needed an id which she didn't have so she was going to go home and get it.

A short time later we learned there was a dog in a car in the parking lot. We immediately began searching for the car owner. We located her in the play yard - it was the woman who had come to surrender the dog and s
he had decided before she left that she would just "look" at the puppies.

She had left the dog in her car - at 1:30 in the afternoon - in full sun - with no water - for half an hour!

It was 101 outside that afternoon. The animal was in great distress. When we got him out of the car he was confused and barely able to walk. We carried him into the clinic and AK took his temp - just over 108! Normal is around 102. AK immediately began cooling him down, but not too quickly. Ice packs and cool water brought his temp down. We'll just have to see if there is any brain damage or other side effects.

The woman didn't seem to understand when I told her how quickly a car heats up. The conditions had probably taken the temperature in her car up to 120 degrees. She just didn't get it and was unconcerned, stating the dog was used to being left in the vehicle. I took the animal from her. And now I'm discussing bringing felony cruelty charges against her.

A week ago a woman in another town left her dog in the car while she went out boating. The dog died. Why don't people get the message??

Friday, June 26, 2009

Help - a Fox!

The phone rings in dispatch and it's another fox call. A citizen is reporting a fox in the neighborhood. I wish we could say SO, AND YOUR POINT IS?

Why is the appearance of a fox in a neighborhood so alarming? I love have foxes in my neighborhood, they appear in the early morning or the late evening. It's usually just a glimpse and they're gone. We tell them that foxes are not considered a dangerous animal and they should welcome their presence. In other words, we are not coming to get the fox. The one pictured here is a bit unusual. Appearing in daylight and obviously at home in the 'hood.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chameleons and X-rays

It's been a great week at the shelter - one we've looked forward to for over a year.
We are halfway through our week-long training on our new software.
This is going to be such a huge step for our facility - one that will not only improve our efficiency but give me instant access to so much information we don't have now. So many statistics that will help us make better decisions (average length of stay) and be more proactive in the city (reason for owner surrenders). We will escape from the little things (KF - is that a 1 or a 7 or a 9?) as well as the huge things (how did this dog check himself into the shelter in kennel 236A?). Now to get the ENTIRE staff excited about this change!! (Change is good, Change is good, Change is good - you shall be assimilated)

And we took our first x-rays yesterday!! As we continue to move from control to welfare, it becomes more important to improve our diagnostic capabilities. Having the ability to diagnose orthopedic and other problems without having to move the animal to a vet in town we've begged for an x-ray is HUGE! It is also an important tool in our cruelty investigations, giving us more information and ammunition for court cases.

It's a used analog machine that actually uses film that has to be developed but it still takes beautiful pictures. Dr. P and AK x-rayed two dogs with were limping when they came in this week. We found that both have a rear leg that is dislocated from the pelvis. Both of these are serious problems but they can be resolved and we can give a potential adopter much better information. No more guessing. It also allows us to look at options other than immediate euthanasia.

The rest of the week should be fun - just click on the little yellow dog icon!