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Dogs Can Bake in Hot Cars!

Dogs Can Bake in Hot Cars!
By Mickey Zeldes July 11, 2014
It’s time to start leaving your dogs at home. I know that’s a radical concept to some.

We’ve become a society that more and more brings our dogs with us everywhere we go. The problem is they are still not welcome everywhere, and it’s too hot to leave them in the car.

It’s amazing how many people need their dogs with them to go shopping, to the bank and just to run errands. Everyone now has a “service” dog, because, unfortunately, getting those tags is all too easy. People think they should be entitled to bring little Foofy with them into grocery stores or restaurants, and it’s causing some awkward scenes and ruffling more than a few feathers. The problem is if you are unable to bring your dog inside with you, or the dog causes a disturbance and you are asked to leave, is it safe to leave him in the car?

Some people don’t realize how quickly the interior of a car, even with the windows cracked, heats up to an unbearable degree. If you’ve ever gotten into a car that’s been left sitting in the sun, you know how uncomfortable it is until you cranked up the air conditioner and cool it off. Imagine having to sit in there for a half-hour or more? Every year we hear about dogs and, sadly children, who die from the heat when left in a car.

Humans, at least, can sweat and try to cool their body that way. Dogs cool themselves by panting, but that only works if the air they are breathing in is cooler than their body temperature. Add to that the fact they are wearing a fur coat (imagine sitting in that hot car with a winter coat on) and you can see it wouldn’t take long for a dog to be in trouble.

Exercising during the heat of the day is also a danger for our dogs (and ourselves). Bottom line is to avoid things that can cause heatstroke and to make sure everyone drinks plenty of water.

What to do if you see dog in a hot car? Call the police immediately and see if you can locate the owner to get the dog out as soon as possible. Don’t offer too much water right away, as that can cause vomiting (and further dehydration). Sponge the dog down with cool (not cold – don’t want to cause shock) water and bring inside or into shade. Lightly fan the dog to promote cooling and try to take their temperature so you can assess the risk. If the temperature is over 103 degrees, a veterinarian should see the dog, as damage could have been done to internal organs.

Play it safe during the hot months and leave your pets comfortably at home. Leave the radio on and give them stuffed kongs, and they won’t even know you’ve been gone. Then you can enjoy a day of worry-free shopping and a happy greeting when you get home. I know you feel good when your dog is with you, but wouldn’t you feel better knowing that your dog is safe?

We LOVE our volunteers

We LOVE our volunteers

We love our volunteers and hope they know it!  We try to express appreciation throughout the year but one time annually we gather together to acknowledge all that these wonderful people have done for us and the animals.  This past Sunday was our yearly Volunteer Appreciation Party and although all 165 of our active volunteers couldn’t be with us that evening, we celebrated with those that could attend.

Our volunteers do a million things for us – everything from clean the kennels and cages; assist the veterinarian and vet tech with health exams and surgeries; fold laundry, answer phones, facilitate adoptions, wash dishes, update our website, hang pictures, build shelves, pull weeds, walk dogs, staff outreach events, stuff envelopes, cuddle cats, host monthly bunny days, input data, wash out litterpans, greet the public, bunny socialize, make copies, foster kittens, paint our walls, fundraise, file paperwork, post fliers, take photos, temperament test our dogs, foster special need animals – I’ll stop here but you get the point.  Volunteers are people that keep us organized, keep us sparkling clean, and keep us moving forward!  We absolutely couldn’t do all that we do for the animals and people in our community without all this help.

This year we recognized the contributions of 34 special volunteers based on their hours of service.  Please congratulate (and thank) the following people:

1500+ hours – Amy Isquith, Suzy Melvin, Lara Shearer, Casey Watts

1000 hours – Todd Coleman

500 hours – Debbie Ecklehoff, Diane Baglion, Nancy Gillett, Erin Thompson, Victoria Thomas, Tina Hrebick

100 hours-Katt Hess, Mayher Ratra, Nicholas Allen, Cari Most, Tamy Chichkanoff, Alisha Parkinson, Nathalie Rossi, Paula Flores, Judi Nelson, Christina Parsley, Megan Rosenberger, Amber Sharp

Junior Volunteer with 500+ hours –Sophie Spencer

Junior Volunteer with 100+ hours – Kacey Herrell, Sarah Ramos, Alex Palmigiano, Sarah Wood

Foster Parents – over 10 Animals last year – Kayte Taylor, Helen Crosby, Cheryl Vargas, Naomi Garland, Jill Zschach, Pauline Tong

We added up the number of hours (of those who remembered to record them and it doesn’t include the foster parents) of all the volunteers who helped us and in 2013 they racked up an impressive 11,571 hours which is the equivalent of having 5.5 full-time employees every week! For a small staff that is a huge boost in (wo)manpower!

Would you like to see your name on this list?  We are ever growing our volunteer corps, and could always use a few more committed, good people!  We ask our volunteers to make pick one job and make a solid weekly commitment.  There is more information and brief job descriptions as well as application forms available at our website, and at the shelter.  We will be holding our next adult volunteer orientation on Saturday, June 7, at 10:00a.m.  Join us in helping the animals in our community.  We’d love to be honoring you next year!

Pets Can Bring Uninvited Guests

Pets Can Bring Uninvited Guests
By Mickey Zeldes May 2, 2014
Nothing like a bit of rain and some warm weather to wake things up. Not only are flowers and trees blooming, fleas and ticks have all come to life again in a big way.The ticks, so far this year, have been the worst we’ve ever seen, and we’ve seen some pretty heavy flea-infested strays come in recently. These poor animals suffer terribly from the itching and other side affects of having these parasites.

We’ve already paid to have our dog fields sprayed for ticks, but as the company reminded us – it’s not a foolproof method of eliminating these pests. All it would take is a stray cat or opossum with some of these uninvited guests to cut across our fields, and once again we would be infested. Spraying does help reduce ticks, though, and using repellent on the dogs helps to reduce the number they carry.

Not only are ticks and fleas bad for the animal because they suck their blood and therefore can cause anemia (we once got in a two-week-old kitten with close to 200 fleas. The poor thing was totally pale from lack of blood), but for the other problems they bring. Many animals become allergic to the saliva injected into their bloodstream when a flea bites. Just one bite and their whole body can become inflamed and itchy. We’ve all seen dogs missing half their fur and covered with scabs.

If you’ve ever been kept awake all night by a dog incessantly chewing and scratching, you know the misery that is caused by Flea Allergic Dermatitis (FAD). Once a dog is in full body reaction, you almost always have to resort to steroids as well as antibiotics to calm down the inflammation. In addition, fleas are the hosts to tapeworms. So with every infestation you have to be on the lookout for signs of this pesky internal parasite. Often, the signs of tapeworm can be seen with the naked eye – look for tapeworm segments which look like dried (or sometimes still moving) pieces of rice in the feces or caught in the fur around the anus. If you see them, get medication from your veterinarian to treat your pet.

If you find a tick on your pet, do not try to burn it off or smother it with Vaseline (two very outdated methods to remove them). It’s also not necessary to twist one way or the other – in fact twisting them often leaves the head imbedded, which can cause an infection. The very best way to remove a tick is with a tick remover (duh!). If you don’t have one of these handy gadgets, use a tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the head as possible and gently pull straight out. Be sure to wash the hole left behind thoroughly and apply some antibiotic ointment.

Ticks carry diseases that are transmissible to both dogs and humans such as Lymes disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The good news is that the tick has to be imbedded for 12 or more hours to transmit the disease, so quickly removing any ticks after a hike is one way to avoid contamination. After every hike it is important to thoroughly look over you and your pet. There are also tick repellants that can be applied before heading out.

There are now so many flea and tick products out that it would be a column on its own. Just know that preventing these pests is much easier than solving the problems they leave behind. Your itchy pets will attest to that.

Animal License Amnesty Week – May 4-11

Animal License Amnesty Week – May 4-11

By Mickey Zeldes April 25, 2014

We are celebrating national Be Kind to Animals Week by offering our community an opportunity to bring their pets up to compliance with their license requirement without a penalty. This year, Be Kind to Animals Week, May 4-11, is also Animal License Amnesty Week – at least here in Rohnert Park.

Many people don’t realize both dogs and cats (yes, even indoor cats) over 4 months old are required to be licensed in Rohnert Park and aren’t in compliance simply out of ignorance. Now that you know, take advantage of this offer and get your dog and cat licensed without any late penalties. The regular license fee for an altered pet is just $12 – the lowest in the county, by far –and for unaltered pets it is $30.

Why should you bother to license your pet? There are several reasons to do it – not the least of which is that it is required by law. More practically, licenses serve as a form of identification that enables pets to be returned home if they become lost. It also serves as a way to ensure the vast majority of pet animals are vaccinated against rabies since a current vaccination is a prerequisite for the registration process.

This protects not only your pet but also other animals and any person that may be bitten in our community because rabies is transmittable to humans and is still not curable. In case you think rabies is a thing of the past, you should know there has been at least two rabies positive pets in our county this past year. Pretty scary!

Purchasing a license also helps fund animal services in our community. We have a beautiful, modern shelter where your pet would be housed were he ever found wandering lost and had to wait for you to reclaim him. Keeping this shelter open is dependent on funding and therefore your license fees. There is a formula that figures out the number of pets per household, and it is estimated that Rohnert Park has more than 10,000 dogs and 11,000 cats. If all of them were licensed at the lower fixed animal rate of $12, it would raise more than $250,000 annually, which would cover most of our budget and ensure continued high quality sheltering services for our community.

If your pet does not have a current rabies vaccination, VIP Vet Services will be holding a special low cost vaccination clinic at the RP Animal Shelter on Wednesday, May 7 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at which rabies shots will be available for just $6.

They will have other vaccines and services available at the regular low-cost as well.

The shelter will also be offering free microchips during our regular hours that week (Wednesday 1-6:30 p.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 1-5:30 p.m.; and Sunday 1-4:30 p.m.) so bring your dogs and cats along for the ride. Show them your love by protecting them with a microchip.

Penalties for late licenses are $15 and accumulate for each year you neglect to register your pet. All late fees will be waived for this one week only in an effort to get more animals current on their rabies and license requirements. Take advantage of this generous offer and stop by City Hall, 49er Pet Store or the RP Animal Shelter sometime during May 5-12 to update your pet’s licenses. Happy Be Kind to Animals’ Week.

Summer Fun for Kids and Animals!

Summer Fun for Kids and Animals!

By Mickey Zeldes

What’s your little animal lover doing this summer? Looking for activities to keep your child engaged, learning and having fun? We have a suggestion – enroll him or her in our Kidz ‘n Critter Summer Camp.

We are offering seven one-week sessions of educational fun for students going into second through seventh grades. Each week is for a different age group, so the programming is age appropriate, and the kids can make new like-minded friends. Camps run from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and are held in the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter’s lobby.

Through guest speakers, arts and crafts, videos, field trips and demonstrations, the campers will learn about different animals and responsible pet care. Bringing in passionate and expert guests bring alive topics such as basic vet care, dog training, living with wildlife, why spay and neuter, the importance of ID tags and microchips, cat care, living with a house bunny and more.

The highlight of the camp for every camper asked (no surprise!) is the time spent with hands-on time with shelter animals – socializing kittens and cats and playing with dogs and other small animals. Fieldtrips have included exciting places such as Safari West, Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, Bergin University of Canine Studies, Animal Care Center (Emergency and Specialty Hospital), and Full House Farm.

Sessions for second- and third-graders are June 16-20 and July 21-25; sessions for fourth- and fifth-graders and 5th graders are June 9-13, July 14-18 and Aug. 4-8; and sessions for sixth- and seventh-graders are July 7-11 and July 28-Aug 1. To accommodate as many campers as possible, we limit each child to just one session and to their appropriate age group. Cost is just $125 per camper with a $25 discount for each sibling. Scholarships are available, so please don’t hesitate to give your child this opportunity to develop their love of animals even if you are on a strict budget. Registration includes cost of the field trip and a camp T-shirt.

Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis, and application forms are available at or at the shelter, which is located at 301 J. Rogers Lane, behind the Press Democrat building off Redwood Drive. The Animal Shelter League (ASL) funds the camps, and checks should be made out to them. Credit card payments can be accepted through the ASL website, Be sure to make a note in the Special Instruction box that it is for camp and list the child’s name so it will be credited properly.

We’re busy planning a full schedule of activities for our camp sessions and hope that your child will join us. Tell your friends so as many students as possible get a chance to participate in the fun. We certainly want to encourage every child’s love of animals and help them learn to be responsible pet parents. That’s what these camps are all about.

Monte Vista is a KIND School

Monte Vista is a KIND School

By Mickey Zeldes April 11, 2014 12:00 am

What does a humane or kind school look like? One where the children treat each other with respect and empathy? Where bullying doesn’t exist and the focus is on learning? Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?

Well it takes work to make dreams become reality, and that is the goal of most schools today. We know for sure that one local elementary school is actively engaged in teaching the children these positive traits and we are proud to partner with Monte Vista to help achieve the goal of becoming a kind school.

Thanks to the financial support of FAIRE (Friends of the Animals in the Redwood Empire) every teacher at Monte Vista received a subscription to “KIND News” this year. “KIND News” is an eight-page magazine produced by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that comes out five times during the school year. The magazine is sent to each teacher in bundles of 28, so every child receives their own copy. It is written in three levels, so it’s age appropriate for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

“Through profiles of amazing kids, features about rescued animals, pet care tips, and how-to’s on helping backyard wildlife, ‘KIND News’ encourages youth to coexist humanely with animals, celebrate the human-animal bond, and become active in efforts to protect animals,” said a statement on the HSUS website.

Individual subscriptions are available for just $10, or you can adopt your child’s classroom for just $30 for a school year. If you are interested in learning more about this great publication, go

In addition to utilizing this great teaching material all school year, during the past two weeks representatives from the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter were invited into 11 of the classrooms to give presentations on a variety of animal care topics. The youngest children learned about responsible pet care and met shelter ambassadors Brandy, a golden retriever and Maia, a rat that is available for adoption.

We made students aware of our “No More Lost Pets” campaign and offer to give free pet ID tags and microchips to their pets. In addition, the older students talked about pet overpopulation, the shelter’s Fix-it Clinic and offer of free cat spays and neuters. Interested in a classroom program or a shelter tour for your child’s classroom? There is more information on the shelter’s website about what we offer – check it out at We’re looking for another elementary school to adopt next year, so let us know if you know a school that might be interested.

We are proud of Monte Vista and were impressed with the students and teachers we met during our programs there. We especially appreciate the efforts of teacher Macy Juhola in helping to get us into this school and for coordinating our presentations. It’s so nice to know there is a school in Rohnert Park really doing something to cultivate a humane and kind culture. We hope it’s contagious.

The Pitter Patter of Tiny Paws

The Pitter Patter of Tiny Paws

We got in our first mom-cat with a week old kitten, so it’s official. Kitten season has begun. Pretty soon the shelter will resonate with the pitter-patter of tiny paws and the mewling cry of hungry babies.

We know (but find it hard to believe) that some cats have slipped through our offer of free spays and neuters and are still out there procreating. Here’s the important point you need to hear – the younger the kittens are when they are caught and brought in, the better their chances of being socialized and adopted.

So, if you’ve been feeding a stray, and she was looking pudgy and well fed but now appears to be slimmer when she shows up at the food bowl, chances are she has kittens somewhere. And unless you are committed to feeding the whole litter for their lifetime (about 8-10 years for a feral cats if they are lucky), you have to do something now. Remember each of those kittens grows up and has more kittens, too. You could have dozens in no time at all.

At about 4 weeks old, the kittens are beginning to be mobile and will start to be seen. Catching them (and mom, so she can be spayed – no need to go through this cycle yet again) between 4-6 weeks is ideal, up to 8 weeks is OK, but much beyond that and they will be too wild to tame down. Traps are available for rent at 49er Pet Store and Hertz Rental.

You can stop by the shelter for some instructions on how to humanely use the traps if the store doesn’t provide that. Also, have an appointment for mom or a reservation at the shelter for the kittens before you start trapping so you aren’t standing there with an animal in a trap and no where to take them.

Interested in helping us with raising all the kittens that come through our door? Fostering is the politically correct way to have cute, playful kittens in your home. And you get all the fun without having to make a lifetime commitment or costing you a lot of money. We provide all the litter, food and medical care for the babies. You just have to feed, socialize and love them up.

The fun lasts 2-8 weeks, depending on the age of the kittens you take on. They usually return to the shelter for adoption at about 8-9 weeks old. It’s a great project for a family to take on together. Want to learn more? We will be having a one-hour new foster parent orientation on Monday, April 28, at 6:30 p.m. in the shelter lobby.

Hope to see you at our fix-it clinics with all those errant mom-cats and/or at our foster parent orientation. Become part of the solution and help solve the kitten overpopulation problem.


Ever Put a Cat on a Diet?

Ever Put a Cat on a Diet?

Ever tried putting a cat on a diet? It’s not easy to do. It’s nothing at all like a dog or a person.

Cats are finicky anyway, and when you mess with their routines, especially around food, they can get super cranky. With a dog, you can just cut back on their quantity or buy lower calorie food so they still feel full. They do make special weight reducing food for cats but, again, not all cats will eat it.

If a dog takes a couple of days to adjust to a new food or tries to hold out for something better to eat (who can resist the begging brown eyes!) and misses a few meals, it’s no big deal. Not so for cats. If they go without food for more than 24 hours, there’s the risk of something called Hepatic Lipidosis, or fatty liver disease, which can be fatal if not treated promptly. And because so many people just free feed their cats and have multiple cats in the home, it’s hard to monitor and measure a particular cat’s intake.

The other part of the diet equation – exercise – is also more difficult with felines. Again, with a dog it’s easy (although it might mean more movement on your part too). Take the dog for an extra walk each day or throw the ball a few more times, and you’ve just increased his exercise so he burns more calories. How do you get any cat to move more, let alone a chubby one? You can try and coax your kitty into more movement by using a fishing pole toy or a laser light. But if we’re talking about a mature cat, they may just yawn and watch your attempts in amusement.

One way to get a bit more movement is to portion out the food during the day and put it in different places so the cat has to climb around to get it all (no more dinner in bed). The current thinking for weight loss is to switch to a wet food diet. It’s high in water and fiber (especially if you buy one for overweight cats), which is filling without calories. Canned food is more expensive than dry, however, so this diet plan isn’t going to save you any money.

We recently got two cats surrendered from the same home that are on the supersized side of things. Sugar, a Siamese/Abyssinian mix, at 9 years old weighs 19.3 pounds, and Zona, a short-haired Grey and white kitty at just 3 years old weighs 15.12 pounds. They are both very friendly, sweet and, no surprise, mellow. Their size is not their fault – true they love to eat (don’t we all!), but who was in charge of the food portions?

The sad thing about cats this plump (they hate being called fat) is they aren’t able to do a good job of cleaning themselves. Sadly, one of the reasons the cats were surrendered was for this very problem. One of the cats figured out that if she just scooted across the carpet, it helped clean her butt. Unfortunately, the carpet for toilet paper routine did not endear her to her people.

If you have experience with putting a cat on a weight loss program, or think you can be tough enough to ignore the pleading eyes, Sugar and Zona are looking for a new diet coach (and parent). Fortunately, we don’t charge adoption fees by the pound – or these would be very expensive cats.

On the positive side, pound for pound (because our adoption fees are just a flat $95 for all cats) these two would be a great deal. They are very bonded and would probably get through this ordeal better if they could stay together so we are offering a deal – adopt them both for the price of one. Large laps required.