Watch Tip: Banished Puppies, Kittens

Posted on September 25th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip for week of Sept. 26:

Watch for spring’s puppies and kittens now banished to the back yard—do they have shelter, food and water? They aren’t little and cute anymore so the family’s enthusiasm is long gone. They may be poorly socialized, untrained, and difficult to approach, but they still need daily care. Are they getting that care or are they often forgotten? Speak with the family; they probably don’t know what to do.

If only puppies and kittens weren’t so dang cute!

Sounds like heresy, doesn’t it. But if puppies and kittens were not so appealing and cuddly, they would not often end up as members of a family that did not think through the implications of providing a safe, loving home through a lifetime. The puppies and kittens would not often end up being lonely and neglected in the back yard or wandering the streets. They would not sometimes suffer until death. Do you think I’m being dramatic? Google the news sometime, but turn the photos off or you won’t sleep tonight.

As you drive or bike or walk through your daily routines, peek around to back yards. Listen for whines or cries. Did you hear about a neighbor getting a new puppy or kitten? Go down the alley and take a look to check for signs of neglect or abuse. Do you see a ramshackle kennel? If you can, bang on it once to see if an animal pops out. If a family will tolerate poor shelter for their animals, be fearful of what else they will tolerate. You’ve seen these stories in this blog so you know you must be proactive. Young dogs and cats are especially vulnerable. If not you, who?

Watch Tip: Water Bowls

Posted on September 18th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip for week of Sept. 19:

Watch for pets without fresh water—warm breezy autumn days cause dehydration. Pets without shade are more vulnerable to heat stroke, especially young and senior animals. Will you help them? Speak with the owners or provide water yourself. Or call the authorities you trust to uphold compassionate animal welfare standards.

Please carry a Sidewalk Rescue Kit wherever you go. Be ready to help animals in distress.

What is a “Sidewalk Rescue Kit?” It’s the scaled-down version of our popular Roadside Rescue Kit for vehicles. Keep these items in your backpack or messenger bag:

  • A tiny notebook and pencil for note-taking
  • Your mobile phone
  • Your filled-out Sunbear Squad Wallet Card
  • A bottle of water
  • A cheap plastic food storage container with dry cat food inside (both dogs and cats can eat right out of the bowl)
  • Another cheap plastic food storage container nested below the above, for giving water
  • A tiny flashlight
  • A lightweight nylon slip-noose lead
  • A clean bandanna (in a pinch, can become a towel, a muzzle, a collar, etc.)
  • A whistle (to get a lot of attention in an emergency)
  • A travel pack of handy wipes

As you travel on foot or bicycle through the day, you have the basics needed to help a dog or cat who needs water, food, or rescue.

My friend Karen S. helped a hot, panting dog trapped inside the cab of a pickup truck recently. The window was rolled down far enough that she could slip her arm inside the cab to provide water in a little bowl to the thirsty dog. And she waited a bit. When the owner returned to the truck, she cheerfully told him about how dogs can’t sweat so they overheat much more easily than people. The dog’s big burly owner thanked her and seemed truly appreciative. He just didn’t know any better! Karen always carries water and a bowl with her for this very purpose. I’m delighted to share this true story to inspire you to do the same.

Turning it in

Posted on September 13th, 2010 by gerri

Hello, readers.  My name is Gerri Bara – I’m a Realtor, a Rescuer and a Writer – not necessarily in that order.  The following post was originally an email that I sent to my rescue contacts in Maricopa County, AZ (Phoenix area). We have a horrible animal overpopulation problem here and there are (thankfully) hundreds of people who make up an informal network of rescuers. We reach out to each other to save homeless animals, share information and – sometimes – vent.  I was asked to post this story on the Sunbear site to help create awareness of the issues we face.  The “E” referred to in the story is the Euthanasia List.

Turning it In
Gerri Bara, Chandler, AZ

My car found its way to the East Side county shelter yesterday again…  all by itself, darned thing.  I brought home a little guy – I think he’s a Beagle mix and maybe some chi – he’s small.  He needs neuter surgery and has been in some nasty fights – he was a stray and street life was cruel to him.  Extremely sweet and gentle.  Great with our dogs, cats, LOVES kids.  While we were filling out paperwork in the lobby at Eastside he wanted to go up to every kid in the place.  Tail never stopped wagging.  They say he’s about 2.

He was on the E for fear.  Same old story.  G et him out of there and he’s a charmer.  :-)   He’s sleeping on the floor by my chair and I sit here and think “if I hadn’t stopped there yesterday he’d be dead now.”  Makes me sick to my stomach.

He has a nearly healed puncture wound on one ear and an open puncture wound on his flank – lots of little and not-so-little scars.  But the biggest concern is his right front paw.  He hobbles and scoots – full of energy – but won’t put that paw down.  Holds it out in front of himself when he walks or runs. I can’t tell if it was broken and healed wrong or if it’s a current injury.  Waiting to hear back from Suzy at CircleL re: vet appointment.  He is already using the doggie door.  Had a bath last night and was very good.  Loves being in the car.  Loves being alive.  We will foster him until we can find him a loving permanent home.

I lost my temper with a lady yesterday … well, not a lady – a lady wouldn’t take her dog to the pound and dump it off like a sack of garbage. I was standing in line in the back at Eastside, waiting for my little guy to get his rabies shot and a much needed Frontline treatment.  He was snuggled in my arms – I swear they know it the second they’ve been saved off the E list.

Anyway, here comes this well-dressed woman with an old black and white chihuahua in a cage.  Just a little tiny dog. He was stressed, panting, laying on his side and looking up at the woman with both love and fear in his eyes. He already had a sense of what was to come. It was SO hot, and I had just looked at so much heartbreak in so many upraised eyes behind a hundred kennel doors.  I was not feeling politically correct.

So I said, “Is that your dog?”

“Yes,” she says.  A little haughty.

“What are you doing?” I asked, knowing, heart sinking – but still hoping I was wrong.

“Turning it in.” she says, with not even a tiny hint of a crocodile tear.  I notice her use of “it” instead of “him.”  Not a good sign.

“Why?” I asked, in a voice I still had control of, but half an octave higher.

“We’re moving,” she explains in a condescending voice, as if that is the reason the world is round. Like those two words provide a perfectly reasonable justification for the fact that we are murdering thousands of animals in this country every day and she has generously let silly little me in on an insider’s tip.

And just like that, here comes my Scottish temper, boiling to the top.  It doesn’t happen often (thank the Lord, because I can’t control it), but when it’s here, it takes over my vocabulary and I never know quite what to expect.  “How can you DO that?” I demanded.  I looked more closely at the dog.  So cute, so tiny, so trusting.  The woman turns her back to me. “They’ll probably euthanize him.  Don’t you know that?” I say in a pleading voice.  “No one adopts the old ones. He’ll be terrified and confused, and he’ll will wait and wait for you. He won’t understand that you’re never coming back. And he’ll shake and cower and cry, and finally he’ll just shut down, and then they’ll put him on the kill list for fear, and that will be the end.  Because you moved.”

She didn’t answer me or turn around.  I think we were both stunned – maybe me more than her. I couldn’t believe those words came out of my mouth, but there they were.  The truth – hanging right out in the blazing open air.  No sympathy and no empathy for her lack of responsibility or her lack of compassion.  How can there be?

Come on.  A chi eats what – a quarter cup of food a day? The lady had a diamond on her hand worth thousands.

“We’re moving.”  We sure as heck are. And it isn’t in the right direction.

Maybe some rescuer with a kind heart will see that dog and step up to the plate – assume responsibility for a life that the woman so casually threw away.  I sure hope so.

The guy behind the counter called “Next?”  I turned around and went inside, out of the heat, carrying my little guy and my paperwork.  He looked at the cute little dog in my arms and asked, “Turn-in?”  Then he saw my paperwork, with the bright, shiny rabies tag stapled to the top and smiled a little.

“Nope,” I smiled back.  ” New Hope .”

As we drive home I think my normal thoughts and dream my normal dreams: the shelter I’ll build when I win the lottery, the never-ending need for creating awareness, my inability to understand a heart that could leave a loving, trusting animal behind, my gratitude for the thousands of others who rescue, and for those who love their pets “’til death do us part.”

Then the little guy on the seat next to me whimpers a little, and I reach over to give a reassuring pat, and for a while I just think about him.

One at a time…

Watch Tip: Burrs, Spines and Stickers

Posted on September 10th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

Weekly Watch Tip for week of Sept. 12:

Watch for pets that have matted fur or sores from stickers, burdock or cactus spines—they may also get infections in their mouths from attempts to clean their fur because the tiny barbs become embedded in the mouth tissues. They need help. Can you talk with the owners? If not you, who?

Watch Tip: Foreclosed-upon Homes

Posted on September 4th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

Weekly Watch Tip for week of Sept. 5:

Are there foreclosures nearby? This can be a crisis for pets left behind who will starve to death. Take action before the home is emptied—talk with the owners about plans for their pets. Offer to help contact rescues and shelters. If a home formerly occupied by pets appears to be empty, don’t assume so. Pound on windows and call out loudly. Then listen. Some may be too traumatized to bark or meow or look out windows. Do it again several days in a row. You may save a life.

Starving dog in foreclosed-upon home is saved!

Nacho is one of the lucky ones. He was loose in the house, so he could drink water out of the toilets which probably saved his life, because he was abandoned two to four weeks earlier according his rescuer–more than long enough to die from dehydration in the heat of summer. Abandoned cats and dogs who are prevented access to bathroom toilets have little chance of surviving that long. (Sunbear was shut in a laundry room for 42 days with no food or water and was found still alive, just barely alive, but he was exceptional. It was miraculous.)

Paul found Nacho abandoned in a foreclosed-upon home during the course of his workday in a very surprising way. Read the compelling story told in his own words, with his photos, at the link below. Paul could have taken this shy dog to a municipal pound or shelter where he most likely would have been killed due to his starved condition, or his breed, or his shy temperament, or for lack of space.

Paul saved Nacho’s life. Instead of doing the easy thing, Paul (and his caring wife) took it upon himself to locate a foster home, raise some money for necessary vet care, and seek out a qualified pit bull rescue to assume his care until he could be adopted. Nacho waits there now for his forever home. If any reader is interested in adopting Nacho, please comment and I’ll put you in touch. He is in the Phoenix, AZ area.

Read about Nacho’s surprising rescue.