I am the first to admit that I am not as knowledgeable about cats as I am about dogs. I was under the impression that once summer was over, the kittens stop coming into the shelter. Boy was I wrong! Summer is over but the kittens are still arriving. Outside cats will continue to breed until it gets cold. Cats generally can breed year-round, but in colder areas, the outside cats are more prolific from March until September, otherwise known as “kitten season.” So let’s hope that we’ll begin to see a decline in the number of kittens roaming as strays and surrendered into shelters.
To try to reduce the number of stray cats, many cat rescue organizations have instituted a program called TNR, or “trap, neuter (spay), release.” Volunteers trap the cats, take them to clinics or vets to be altered and then the cats are released back to their original territory. Some people think that once the cats are neutered that they should be put up for adoption. While that sounds nice, there are several problems with this: 1) many stray cats are terrified of people and would not make good pets, 2) there are already too many nice, previously-owned cats sitting in shelters awaiting adoption, and 3) when you take cats out of a territory, other stray cats will come in and claim the territory. So it’s better to take the cats back to their territory. I didn’t know this, but it makes sense, as long as the cats are getting fed.
Here’s an interesting article on the MSNBC web site about TNR: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33060842/ns/health-pet_health/
As an animal lover, do you ever feel completely overwhelmed with all of the issues where the animals need our help? I know that I do! Maybe because as a writer and researcher, I encounter so many stories and become more over-exposed than most people. Not to mention seeing the constant stream of abuse and neglect cases that come in every day at the shelter!
I was writing a story at home last week about puppy mill dogs and was consumed with helplessness. I was thinking not only of the dogs trapped in these mills but also feeling very sad about Pit Bulls and the dog fighting problems, and of course the cat overpopulation…and on and on. Just then, the phone rang and it was the World Wildlife Federation asking for a donation to fight poaching of gorillas in Africa. Oh dear… I also care about wild animals and think about wolves being hunted out West and how global warming may bring about the extinction of polar bears within our lifetime. And then there are the numerous issues surrounding farm animals and the food industry. Wow, I’m about to explode!
There are only so many issues that one person can tackle without getting discouraged and burned out. When I feel so overwhelmed and discouraged, I do two things: 1) I focus on the animals that we have helped and the education provided to people to hopefully prevent future issues and 2) I try to narrow my focus to do what I personally can manage. I realize that by getting burned out, I will not be able to help any of the animals. If every one of us picks just one cause and sticks with it, I believe that we all can make a difference without getting overwhelmed.
The ARL's BCTV show is tonight at 7:00pm. Our scheduled guest is Barb Emmett, owner of Godfrey's Welcome to Dogdom in Mohnton. The topic is canine cancer. Anyone who has lost a dog to cancer knows the heartache and helpless feeling. More and more dogs are succumbing to this rampant disease.
Please tune in to learn about one man's efforts to bring awareness to this issue. Luke Robinson and his two Great Pyrenees are walking from Austin, TX to Boston, MA for this cause. His web site is 2 Dogs 2000 Miles. He and the dogs will be making a stop at Godfrey's on October 10 and at the ARL's Carnival for the Animals on October 11.
Do you know about the ARL’s foster home program? We started the program several months ago to give hard-to-adopt pets a better chance: the older pets, the ones with health issues, and even a few rowdy young dogs who just didn’t like being in a kennel! In just these few short months, many incredible families have opened their hearts and homes to these needy pets. And an equal number of people have adopted these wonderful pets.
Who can forget Roamy, the Rotti mix who evaded capture for over 2 years until one day when we were able to get her! She stayed here at the shelter for a while to give her a chance to gain weight and recover but we realized that she stood the best chance of healing by being in a foster home. She’s now happily adopted and lives with a group of other needy pets!
If you’re visiting the shelter, please stop and take a look at the bulletin board hanging in the hallway outside of the kennel kitchen. There are photos of pets who have been adopted through the foster program, and of course, there are pictures and descriptions of those who are in the program needing permanent homes.
What does it take to be a foster home? First, lots of love for animals… That’s easy. You wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t love animals, right?! Please go to the ARL’s web site to read the requirements for being a foster home: http://berksarl.org/howtohelp.htm
Being a foster home does not require a lifetime commitment (although that would be nice!). If you would like to do it for just one pet, that’s okay! Actually, we like to give our foster homes a “break” every now and then so they don’t burn out. And if you decide to adopt your foster pet, we’re okay with that too!
A special, great big thanks to staff member Marcy Tocker for initiating this program and coordinating with the foster homes!!
The ARL lost a friend last week. Mr. Swanson, our resident tom turkey, passed away after an extended illness. When I asked the staff if he was old, no one could give me a good answer, not even his veterinarian. There is no way of knowing how long turkeys live in the wild, and domesticated turkeys…well, we know that they don't live very long...
For anyone who has visited the ARL over the past several years and tried to walk up to the barn, Swanson would spread his wings into his very best threatening display and shake furiously. Indeed a scary looking guy for those who did not know him. But for us who understood him, Swanson was all pomp and no peril. You could just walk past him and he didn’t bother you. He was particularly good buddies with several of the roosters who hung out at the barn. Swanson liked to wander away from the barn onto the parking lot. He was definitely an intimidating sight to those getting out of their cars to find a turkey next to them!I know that I will miss seeing him and hearing his gobble-gobbling. Others here, however, will not be so sad. Swanson liked to hang out in the rafters of the barn. If anyone was working in the barn, Swanson frequently liked to “let loose” on their heads. Yes, turkeys are big birds so you can only imagine having that land on your head was not fun!
Swanson added color to the shelter. I'll miss you, big guy.
Love him or hate him, Bill Smith of Main Line Animal Rescue (MLAR) never stops working for the animals. His latest creation is a newspaper ad in the Washington Post, scheduled to be run on the day that the Philadelphia Eagles play the Washington Redskins, October 26. The ad states that MLAR will donate 5 bags of dog food to a local D.C. shelter for each time that Michael Vick is tackled. Brilliant or too negative? What do you think?
The ad also encourages people to volunteer at a shelter on game day to go hug a Pit Bull. Now I think that this is an exceptional idea! It’s about time that people start to recognize these dogs for their sweet, loving nature (if they haven’t been ruined by the people they lived with). I have a very close friend who won’t go anywhere near a Pit Bull just because of the bad press they have received. It’s about time to turn this perception around. Hey all of you football fans, can you give up a day of watching football to help the animals? I guarantee you that you’ll feel great after hugging some wonderful dogs!
And speaking of Pit Bulls, read Barry and Jynx's story: http://www.berksarl.org/adoptionstories.htm They are truly an example of a great adoption!
The Labor Day holiday was initiated about 100 years ago because workers at the Pullman Company went on strike due to repeated wage cuts. Railway workers across 27 states joined in the strike, potentially crippling the country. Many of these workers were immigrants, working 12-hour days and six days a week with little time off. It was the beginning of labor reform. Then-President Grover Cleveland quickly rushed a law through Congress making Labor Day the first Monday in September as a reconciliation effort to the strikers.
While Labor Day seems to have lost its meaning in our times, symbolizing more the “end of summer,” we still need to pause and remember those who labor tirelessly. Here at the ARL and across the country, the staff who work with the animals rarely get a day of rest. The animals need us every day. These people work with animals because they love them. But it’s a thankless job. Every day, people who work at animal shelters have to witness abuse and neglect of the animals they love so dearly. Yes, there certainly are rewards – getting to watch as someone adopts a cat who has been in the shelter for way too long, seeing a sweetheart of a Pit Bull find a happy home, being a part of a family reuniting with their lost pet.
I want to say “thank you” to the ARL staff who works the front lines with the animals and the public. This is what Labor Day is about.