Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Grim Facts

I used to enjoy watching the Animal Cops shows on the Animal Planet channel. The ones where they rescue a half dead dog or cat from the hands of an evil owner, attend to its medical needs and care at the city's expense, then find it a home. Warm fuzzies at the end of the episode.
When I went back to work in the animal care industry, the reality is much different. During my hiatus from Boss Man's office, I worked for a time at an animal hospital that was attached to and contracted with a city Animal Shelter. For those not in the know, shelter medicine is much different than a standard veterinary practice.
No matter what your impression, the people that work in this environment have a deep compassion for the animals. Not so much for the people, who show a level of assclownery that I rarely have had to deal with. They develop an almost psychic bullshit detector, yet they do their best to be polite and civil. Something that I fail at miserably. Most of these employees have an assortment of pets that have been turned in that have touched them in some way that they can't leave them to the uncertain fate that the shelter affords them. So they take them home and either foster them or keep them. Most of those who work in the veterinary industry take home the blind and dysfunctional, the unadoptables that were thrown away like trash.They stay at their jobs because it is a calling, helping those who have no voice. They weep over those who have no chance, and rejoice for those who find love and acceptance. They get up everyday and do their job because making a difference to just one is why they are there.

The over breeding of pets along with irresponsible pet ownership and lack of funding means that to make room for more animals coming in, those who have not been adopted must be euthanized. The law varies, but usually there is a 3-5 day hold on strays because they must try to locate the owner. Owner turn ins may be euthanized immediately. If an owner turns in an animal that is unadoptable for either medical or temperament reasons, it's rare that the pet will end up available for adoption. So if you can't keep Fluffy or Fido for whatever reason, don't turn them over to a city or county shelter unless you want them to spend some time in a cage before they are euthanized. Stay away from the illusion that the pet you didn't keep will find a new, loving home. The odds are better in Vegas.
Because of lack of funding, most city or county shelters are only required to administer pain medication to injured animals. These little guys are usually euthanized immediately, unless someone steps up and is willing to foot the vet bills to put them back together. Sick animals, the same thing. That cute puppy with Parvo won't be treated, he will be put down.
Same thing with space and funding: most shelters have  the 2 +2 rule: under 2 months, under 2 pounds equals euthanasia. I worked during the spring (kitten season) and saw so many bright eyed beautiful kittens who didn't stand a chance.
There is no breed of cat or dog that is shelter proof, we've seen all breeds. The shelter doesn't just have mutts, there's a ton of purebred pets there too. Luckily, there are breed specific rescue groups who regularly troll the kill shelters. Not much made me happier when a rescue person came in to pull all pets who were either purebred, or a mix of the breed they were dedicated to. It's nice to load pets in a van for once who stand a chance at finding a good home.
Like the tooth fairy and unicorns, No Kill Shelters are a myth. A city or county run No Kill Shelter means simply that the animals are not euthanized  on the premises. Instead, those who are elderly or have physical or temperament issues are sent to a kill shelter to be euthanized. Turning in a pet to a No Kill shelter (providing your pet passes the standards they set) only buys them more time at being adopted.  A No Kill shelter is not a sanctuary, nor is it a permanent home.

So what can the average person do to change things? Besides the obvious, which is donate and/or volunteer, there is something that every pet owner can do. Quit passing the buck and making your pet someone else's problem.  It is not necessary for your pet to breed once, or have one litter of babies (90% who will end up in  a kill shelter). Sterilize your pets as soon as possible.  Pets are a lifetime commitment, so make sure you can take care of that cute puppy or kitten in the grocery store parking lot before you take it home. A new addition to your family should always be a decision well thought out and not an impulse. Make sure you can budget in food, spay/neuter surgery and vet bills. Budget in 10-20 years for the lifetime of the pet. And when the quality of life is not there, make the decision for a peaceful end. That's what being a responsible pet owner is about. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sure, They're Acting Normal, But....

Eating and drinking normally, along with normal bathroom habits are always a good sign. But it's no guarantee that your pet is in optimum health.
Well pet checks on a regular basis are always encouraged. But in this economy with money being tight we are seeing pets that have had problems go on so long that immediate action is necessary, and usually expensive.
Boss Man and I have had a higher than usual number of cases of mammary gland tumors and pyometra in older unspayed female dogs. When we ask the owners why they waited until the dog is in critical condition before seeking help the answer is always "But she's been eating and drinking and acting fine, so I didn't think there was a problem"
A tumor the size of a grapefruit that is dragging the ground didn't happen yesterday. A Pyo so infectious that the smell comes into the room 10 minutes before the dog does has been brewing awhile.A small male dog with testicles swollen to the size of a tennis ball is not macho nor is it healthy. Having to call an owner and tell them that their beloved pet has metastatic cancer is hard on everyone. Which could have been avoided with a simple and relatively inexpensive sterilization surgery when they were young.
These cases are expensive and time consuming. Blood work is needed to make sure the patient can survive the surgery. X rays to check for metastasis before. Biopsies of the tumor are not cheap. And the surgery itself is touchy. While we do perform the neuter or spay at the time, there is also the extra of removing the tumor and making sure the whole tumor is excised. Some of these are so large that there is very little skin left to suture together. This means a longer and more arduous recovery time for the pet, with more possible complications than a routine sterilization.
Remember the childhood taunt: "See with your eyes, not with your hands"?  This doesn't apply to having pets. A routine examination no less than once a month will catch things before they get critical. Run your hands all over your pet. Note any lumps or bumps, and their size. You don't have to measure, just compare the size (a dime, a quarter, a softball, etc). If you find something, have it checked out. Your vet may recommend surgical removal, or monitoring the progress, depending on the type of lump and the location. It's much easier on you, your pet and your wallet to remove something the size of a quarter rather than something the size of a grapefruit.  Even if everything is normal, at least getting an exam is good preventive care.
And, if you're not breeding them or are done breeding them, get them fixed.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Vacations and Petsitting

Summer's just about here and most people are planning a vacation of some sort. One part of the checklist that seems to get sorely neglected is the care of their pets in their absence. Every pet owner needs to budget in the cost of boarding or a petsitter as part of their vacation expenses.
If you choose to board, get references and inspect the facility before leaving your pet with them. Make sure they have what you need, and be sure that what is important (a large run for a large dog, for example) will be provided.
If you choose to have a pet sitter come to your home, make sure they are licensed (check) and also check their references. This is a stranger to you and your pet, make sure you know enough about them before you hand them the keys to your kingdom.
If you use a family member, friend, neighbor, etc, choose wisely. I've seen many long time relationships lost over petsitting deals. Choose someone whose standard of pet care is as good or better than your own.

DO-If you have a pet that is medically not well or has special needs, is an escape artist or a biter, consider boarding that pet with a reliable facility or your vet's office. I once had a very sweet dog that I didn't find out until a short day trip that she wouldn't let anyone, even people she knew, in our yard without me present. She was also a master escape artist during firework season. I started boarding her during our vacations and life was much easier for everyone.

DO- Arrange a meet and greet with your petsitter, even if it's one you use frequently. Make sure to go over what you expect them to do while you're gone, what time to feed, etc.

DO- Put everything in writing. What food goes to which pet, which pet has special needs or quirks.

DO- Include in writing descriptions of your pets, names, ages, vaccines, license tag or chip numbers, special dietary needs and allergies. Including a recent picture is a good idea in case the pet gets lost.

DO-leave a list of veterinarians that you use, directions to their office, and phone numbers. Also leave contact information of at least one friend or family member who knows your pets and can act in your absence.

DO-Leave a signed written consent form for your petsitter to seek veterinary attention or euthanasia in your absence. This is crucial. Because of this litigious society, most vets won't touch an animal brought in in the owner's absence without written consent. Accidents happen, and you don't want Fido or Fluffy suffering because you're out of cell phone range.

DO-Leave plenty of food and supplies. I leave double the amount needed for the time I'm gone. Planes get delayed and cars break down, sometimes we don't get home when we expect to.

DO-Clearly label and go over instructions of any medications or special supplements. A daily pill minder from the dollar store makes life easier for Fido or Fluffy's meds. Dobbin's powdered supplements can be put in a baggie with his name and day and feeding time so all the petsitter has to do is dump it in the feeder.

DO-Make sure you are clear about what you want the petsitter to do about poop. If you want her to scoop poop, make sure that the tools are in good working order and easily accessible and the waste receptacles are where they need to be.

DON'T- leave without written instructions. If something is forgotten, it's there in black and white. If  a veterinary visit  is necessary in your absence, the short history you've left will be valuable to someone who hasn't seen your pet before.

DON'T- make changes to diet or routine before you leave unless it's medically necessary. Your vacation may be relaxing, but your absence is still stressful to your pet. Wait until you get home to make changes.

DON'T-Leave a mess and expect your petsitter to deal with it. Leave the cats with fresh litter in their boxes before you go, scoop up poop in the backyard, clean Dobbin's stall. Leaving your petsitter to deal with Bandini mountain means that next time you go you won't have a petsitter.

DON'T- Expect your petsitter to automatically know everything about your pet, even if she is very experienced. If Fluffy usually only eats half of her food or won't poop in a used litter box let the sitter know. Also be sure she knows what is usual, and unusual, habits of your pet. Tell her what to watch for and what is considered an emergency.

DON'T-Leave and expect the sitter to supply necessities. If Fido will only take his seizure meds with peanut butter, make sure it's available. If Dobbin gets a carrot daily, supply it. Everything your pets need in your absence is on you.

Have a great vacation!!

Coming soon: The Cranky Catwranglers Mis-Adventures in Petsitting

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ass Clown Redux

So I've been neglecting my little blog. Life took some strange twists and turns in 2012, most of which I'm happy to leave behind, but there were learning experiences all the same. I've found myself in yet another full circle yet again: I'm doing relief work for Boss Man. I'm not so sure this is a good thing. The F bomb has reentered my vocabulary out of either necessity or a requirement of working there.
Today was a shot clinic day, and with good weather and the promise of spring we were busy. It was the typical mix of new puppies and old clients, those who were happy with us and those who will never be happy.
Then I get a guy who comes in after speaking to a co worker. He went to give his dog a bath, the collar is embedded and the dog won't let him near him (big surprise). So he stopped by to get some tranquilizers so he can get the collar cut off the dog. I go through the whole ritual of what he needs to do, that the dog will probably need veterinary attention, etc., then off to find Boss Man to get the script written. I hand him the chart and the following conversation ensues:

BM: Is the dog here?
ME: No, the owner is. He can't get near the dog. He needs to tranq the dog so he can get close enough to cut the collar off.
BM: Does he look stupid?
ME: How smart can he be if the dog has an effing embedded collar?
BM: Let me talk to him.

Seriously. An embedded collar does not happen overnight. Most embedded collar cases are a guarantee of neglect charges. While I would really like to give this assclown the benefit of the doubt, such as he was out of town and this happened under someone else's watch, still, there is no excuse for an embedded collar.

Preaching to the choir here: We all have busy lives. Pets are a responsibility, and a duty. Part of ensuring their well being is checking them. All pets should have a visual inspection daily. No less than weekly, a pet owner needs to go over their pet with their hands and check. Check teeth, sniff ears and skin, check foot pads and between toes. Anything different needs attention. If a collar is too small, get rid of it or replace it. Whether the pet never leaves your side or lives outdoors guarding your property there should always be a good going over. With the exception of feral cats, all pets should tolerate a quick general inspection. If this is impossible, get yourself a good trainer for help, or reconsider pet ownership.
Embedded collars are signs of weeks or even months of neglect, and shouldn't happen. Ever.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rock The Dogs And Other Random Musings

It's been awhile, and my poor little blog has been sorely neglected, time for an update.

An attorney who very generously donated his time was able to stop the TIER property auction. It's in a holding pattern now, hopefully enough time to get the next move sorted out. Meanwhile, through a grant and some fundraising, TIER was able to send two of their most needy residents for some training. Both Chino and Autumn have been so traumatized by humans that it's very difficult to do the most basic care for them. The goal is to be able to put a halter on them and have them let the farrier trim their feet. These are the kind of horses TIER helps, which is why it's so necessary to be able to keep them going. The facebook page is here  and their website is here.

Another worthwhile charity has come across my desk. It's called Tazzy Fund/Rock The Dogs. It's run by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Cambell and his wife Marcie. They're doing some fundraising: check out their facebook page and their ebay auctions. This is a great way to donate to a good cause and make a Petty fan (like me) on your Christmas list happy. I'm really hoping they'll start selling T shirts, since my unemployment budget keeps me from bidding on any of their auctions.

I'm so relieved that this election is over. WTF is up with the radical right and why must their crap be all over my facebook page? I realize I have the rebel without a clue thing going, but I'm still shocked and surprised at the vitriol being spewed all over the social media. We're supposed to be an evolved society. NOT

The days are getting shorter and every fly in the area has moved into my house. That's how I know winter is coming.

I'm going to try to make a point of updating this blog more often. People are still assclowns, and there are more stories to tell. But for now, back to the manure pile.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Chase Bank:Hypocritical Ass Clowns

Watch the video above. I've been a long time VolunTIER and supporter of True Innocents Equine Rescue aka TIER. TIER, and the founder, Gail Gleeson, has been dedicated to helping abused and neglected horses find permanent homes. To date, TIER has assisted 800 (yes that is eight hundred) horses. Gail has also helped found the Riverside County Horse Coalition, dedicated to helping horses in need. This is a true community service.

You won't find fancy trimmings at TIER. What you will find are horses that are recovering from serious neglect and abuse that are well fed and taken care of. Some of them were hours away from death and are now on the road to recovery because of TIER's efforts.

Despite the wonderful donors and volunteers, essentially TIER is a one woman act. Every penny donated goes to the needs of the residents and I've lost count of how many times Gail has had to reach into her own pocket to make up the difference. Unlike many other rescues, TIER has taken unsound horses, those who spend the rest of their lives as pasture pets. There have been some that have had to go straight to the vets to be euthanized because a former owner wouldn't do the right thing by the horse that served them so well.

Sadly, there's been a predicament. Gail refinanced her home, which is where TIER is located, then later lost her job. She has been making payments to Chase Bank who has somehow screwed up the paperwork. Earlier this week she finds a notice that her property is going up for auction. A phone call to some random person at Chase gives her the info that her property was foreclosed on in late 2011.

WTF kind of country is this that Chase Bank can foreclose on a property owner without proper notification?! Isn't that a notice that needs to served with proof of service? Had she been aware of the foreclosure back then, she could have done something, instead of this last minute mad scramble.

And Chase Bank, sponsors of the Kentucky Derby and the Keeneland Thoroughbred sales are going to put 34 horses and 3 donkeys and the only person who stood by them out of their homes?  When horses like these from events that Chase sponsors are no longer making money, those that don't go to slaughter end up in places like TIER, which are in short supply. How hypocritical can you get?

TIER's Facebook page is here if you'd like to help or see what the rescue is all about. I don't bank with Chase since I've never liked them, but if I did I'd be closing my accounts. And making a "deposit". One of Princess Pout's.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Guest Blogger!

I've been neglecting my little blog lately. Recovering from my accident and subsequent job loss has left me a bit uninspired. So today I'll turn over the keyboard to Princess Pout, who has plenty of opinions on everything.

Hay there! It's about damned time my human stepped aside and gave me some spotlight. She insists that my first post here be a sort of PSA. Since she controls my food I'd guess I better humor the squirrely blonde.
It's summer, which means it gets hot. If you think you're suffering, try it with fur or feathers. Not all animals sweat, which means it's harder for us to cool ourselves off when the temperature rises.
If you won't get in your car without the air conditioner on, don't expect your pet to either. Don't leave your pet locked in the car, not even for a minute.
We need lots more water in the hot weather. If you're coming home from work and water bowls are empty, fergawdsake add another bowl. We don't care if it matches the other bowls or your decor, that's a human thing. We need water. Dump the bowls out often, give them a good scrub and add fresh water. We stay more hydrated when the water is fresh.
Those metal lick-it things that attach to faucets for dogs to drink out of. If you really want to use one of those, at least put it on a faucet that's in the shade. Think about it.
Speaking of shade, those of us who live outside all day need some kind of shade, whether it's a tree or a small shelter. It doesn't have to be something out of Better Barns and Manure Piles, just a place to go to get out of the heat. It's also a place to get out of the rain during winter, so it does double duty. My former stall mate, the Gay Bay, never went under the cover when it rained. When I questioned his sense, he said it was because when he was on the track he was always locked in a stall unless he was running. I think it's because he liked to spy on the neighbor.
Summer also means pests and insects. It's bad enough out in the heat without stuff crawling all over you or flying and landing on you. So take care of it for us since we can't do it ourselves. Use fly sprays, and flea/tick control for the dogs and cats. Avoid standing pools of water which attract mosquitos, carriers of heartworm, encephalitis and West Nile Virus. See why I said to change our water often?
There's a flake of hay coming with my name on it, so I'll sign off for now. Don't forget to tip your guest blogger.
Hooves and tails,