Tagged: “animal shelter”

Join our Life Saving Team!

Join our Life Saving Team!

What are you doing this summer?  Actually for the next six months?  Looking for a way to put your love of animals to good use?  Have a couple hours free each week?  We need you!  Come join our team of life-saving animal lovers by volunteering at the shelter.  Whatever your skill level we have a job for you.

Love dogs but aren’t very physically strong?  Come read to them!  Having positive experiences in their kennels help make their stay here more pleasant. It also teaches them to relax and present well when the adopting public comes through; who would want to bring home the dog flinging himself at the kennel door and acting out of control?  We’re working on a lot of new kennel enrichment practices to help the dogs stay sane while waiting for their new homes.  Of course they do enjoy their time outside and going for walks too.

Did you know that cats should have two 10-15 minute sessions of interactive play each day?  It helps to relieve stress and boredom and mimics their natural life cycle to some small degree.  We certainly don’t have enough staff to spend that kind of time with each of our feline guests.  Thank goodness for our awesome cat cuddlers.  Sure it’s hard work – but someone has to play with these cats!

Have any computer skills?  We need help with data entry – there’s always paperwork in a business, right?  Assist our volunteer coordinator with tracking volunteers’ hours and scheduling.  Assist our vet tech with our busy foster program – tracking who’s next for follow-up appointments, inputting treatments in the computer and more.

Are you a creative writer?  Help showcase our adoptable animals with fun, upbeat and creative descriptions – something that would make people want to come meet them!  Help with press releases and other publicity for upcoming events.  In fact, we need people to help at these events too!  Are you a people person?  Work the shelter’s adoption desk or assist at outreach events and feel the joy when you help a family find their new BFF.  There’s nothing more satisfying than convincing someone to take the time to get to know a shy cat that would be perfect in their home.  We love match-making – do you?

Don’t forget our bunnies!  They crave daily attention and playtime.  Our monthly Bunny Days, where we set up the rabbits outside and invite the public to come interact with them, are very popular.  Our Bunny Boutique does a brisk business and so does the Bunny Nail Salon!  We could definitely use an extra pair of hands to help out.

As you can see there are a lot of different ways that you could get involved.  The only requirement is that you are at least 18 years- old and can make a regular weekly commitment.  Come find out more at a one-hour orientation Saturday, April 29 at 10 a.m. in the shelter lobby.  We are located at 301 J. Rogers Lane, off Redwood Drive (by the Costco).  No harm in at least learning more…. right?  After all, what else are you doing this summer?

There’s nothing worse than simply abandoning unwanted pet

There’s nothing worse than simply abandoning unwanted pet

You probably thought that with that ugly growth on her nose that it would be a quick euthanasia.  But we are committed to giving every animal a chance, so we struggle with these decisions.  Did you drop her off because you found out that it’s cancerous and the treatment was costly?  That would be useful information so we wouldn’t waste our time and limited resources repeating whatever tests you had done.  She is still eating and loving and active, so she doesn’t seem to be in a critical state…yet.  But knowing what you know of her history would help us make a better treatment plan.  Not that we can cure her if it is cancer.  Or realistically find her an adoptive family.  But it would help to know her prognosis so we could possibly find her a hospice or rescue situation.

The same is true of the older Yorkie that came in as a stray.  Our tests show that she is hypothyroid.  Did you already know that?  Has she been on medication and just got lost (if so, where are you to claim her back?  She’s been on Facebook, Nextdoor.com and in the Press Democrat and Community Voice)?  It’s expensive to have to do these tests, and a waste of money if it’s something the parents already know.  We have to start from scratch to find the right level of medication to control her thyroid.

If you don’t want her back because of this condition, please come in and surrender her to us.  Having her name, at the least, can help a scared dog feel more comfortable; and knowing if she is 9 years old or 14 (our vet tends to be generous in aging animals!) would be helpful too.   Having her full medical history, again, can assist us in our treatment and placement plan.

You don’t have to abandon your pet here. We will take him in (or refer you to the right shelter for your area that will).  We truly try not to judge or shame people for surrendering their animals even when the reason seems frivolous to us.  There is no blame or finger-pointing!  We know that most people take the decision to surrender a pet seriously and are heartbroken to have to do it.  There is important information that only you know that can be very helpful in placing an animal in a new home.  Does he hate being brushed?  Is she afraid of loud noises?  Has he ever lived with children or other animals?  Is her limp from a past injury or something new?  Don’t make us guess and try to figure these things out!

We want to help your animals and we know you want the best for them too.  Owner surrendered animals are scheduled by appointment so that we know we have the space to accommodate them. Your willingness to work with us will help them get that second chance at a new family.  We also have behavior counselors available and other resources that might help you solve whatever issue you are struggling with so that you may not have to surrender the pet you love. Call us at 584-1582 and talk to us about your issues and concerns to give us a chance to help before you get to that breaking point and just leave the animal tied to our door!

Spay & Neuter Works!

Spay & Neuter Works!

Animal Shelter workers normally dread September.  It is typically the high point of our animal population, with kittens filling every cage and foster home and back to school activities decreasing the number of adoptions.  One fall day a few years ago someone asked me how many kittens we had and I took the time to do an actual head count.  In our shelter that day were 96 kittens and another 54 were out in foster homes!  By September the initial rush of excitement at seeing cute, young kittens is over and all those people who waited through the winter to adopt a kitten have already made their selection.

The saddest part was watching the tiny babies that came in during the summer continue to grow up in the shelter.  Predictably the smallest kitten (no matter the temperament) would be the first to be adopted out of the adoption room.  So as new, young kittens continue to come in, the biggest kittens were by-passed and just got bigger.  Also predictable was the fact that any kitten of color would be adopted before a black one.  By October our adoption room would be filled with teenage black cats – just in time for a Halloween special!

This year we witnessed a miracle!  A truly unique phenomenon for a municipal, open-admission shelter.  A couple of weeks ago we adopted out the last pair of kittens in our adoption room.  Let me say that again, our shelter ran out of adoption kittens.  We’re so proud and happy about that we were doing our happy dance down the hallway!  Not that I’m saying we were totally out of the little fur-balls – there were still some young ones and some shy ones in foster care.  But that Saturday night our adoption kitten room was completely empty.  And it was only the middle of September!

I know shelters all around us are still full of kittens.  As soon as I posted our good news on our Facebook page, the requests for help started coming in.  Sad stories of shelters buried in the influx of young kittens.  Stories that we all know only too well. Sadly too the fire started in Lake County and all media and shelter attention was diverted to helping those victims.  We are glad to be able to offer assistance to other shelters whenever we can and have brought in several litters of kittens from other places.

What do we attribute this miracle to?  An aggressive spay/neuter program.  We are the only shelter in the area that offers our citizens free cat surgeries, and have been doing that since 2008.  So actually the more surprising thing is that we’ve gotten in any unwanted litters at all!  Seven years of paying for everyone to have their cats fixed is making a difference!  We are continuing this program so here’s another plug for it.  If you know anyone living in Rohnert Park or the City limits of Cotati that has an intact cat please let them know that we offer this program!  They just need to call 588-3531 to make an appointment.

We love being able to offer our help to other crowded shelters – not to mention bragging about our success!  Maybe next year we can empty our shelter by August.  We’re making that our new goal.  With your help and support, we can do it!

100 years of kindness

100 years of kindness

By Mickey Zeldes  May 7, 2015

This year marks the 100 year anniversary of National “Be Kind to Animals” Week sponsored by the American Humane Association.  Of course the thought isn’t that we should only be kind to animals one week a year but this week gives a focal point to highlight, cajole, educate, promote, urge, publicize, network, communicate, advertise, and otherwise reach out to our community to support the idea of kindness to animals.  Be Kind to Animals Week (BKTAW) is always the first full week of May so this really should have been my column last Friday but the week’s not over!  So here’s my plug.

There is a fascinating overview of a hundred years of celebrating BKTAW at the kindness100.org website.  It highlights the celebrities that have been chairpersons for this event over the years including Shirley Temple (1936), Betty White (1971), John Wayne (1973), Doris Day (1975), Clint Eastwood (1982), and Richard Dreyfuss (1991) among others.  Many of these stars have continued on in animal welfare for their entire careers.  It also includes some of the achievements this movement has garnered over the years. Interesting to see how far we’ve come and what issues are still the same after all these years.

It wasn’t until 1990 that congress passed the resolution officially recognizing the first week of May as National “Be Kind to Animals” Week.  It was California Senator, Pete Wilson, which introduced the bill in which he stated “The people of the United States are indebted to animal protection organizations, state humane organizations, and local animal care and control agencies for promoting respect for animals and pets, educating children about humane attitudes, and caring for lost, unwanted, abused, and abandoned animals.”

There are many ways to show kindness to animals; of course top of the list is to be a responsible pet owner.  Other things include buying humanely raised products, protecting wildlife, adopting shelter animals, protesting and reporting animal abuse, boycotting cruel entertainment, promoting spaying and neutering, role-modeling and teaching humane attitudes and more.  There are classroom lesson plans available for pre-school through grades 5 at the kindness100 site, and we have docents available for classroom presentations or tours of the shelter for both schools and other youth groups.  Call the shelter to arrange a program at 584-1582.

Show your pets you care about them by stopping by the shelter for a pet ID tag and microchip – they are both free to Rohnert Park and Cotati residents (only $5 for a tag and $10 for a chip to non-residents).  We’ll be holding a mini open house over the weekend to promote a couple of renovation projects that we are planning and holding a 50% off adoption special so it’s the perfect time to stop by!

A Day in the Shelter

A Day in the Shelter

By Mickey Zeldes  April 30, 2015

I’m sure people wonder what it’s like running an animal shelter, and I’m often asked what I like best about this job.  The truth is, besides the animals of course, is the variety of things that I get to do.  No two days are the same!  Even volunteers that are here often don’t see the whole of what goes on here.

One day may be spent on cleaning and organizing – during our low animal months we spend a lot of time deep cleaning and sprucing up the facility.  Things we don’t have time to get to when we are packed with kittens in the summertime finally get dealt with.  Often I have meetings to attend, as part of the Dept. of Public Safety; I’m regularly meeting with my supervisors to keep them abreast of the happenings over here.  I like to stay connected with the other shelters in the area so periodically there are meetings with the other managers.  Of course there are employee meetings as well to help our staff of part-timers stay in touch with each other and to discuss problems and brainstorm solutions.

Lots of time gets spent on the animals – deciding when an animal is ready to move up for adoption, approving medical care, temperament testing and evaluating animals, working with the shy ones to see if they can warm up, and otherwise making sure that everyone is getting what they need.  I buy supplies and make sure we have the things we need to get the work done – cleaning supplies, collars and leashes, paperwork, etc.  Troubleshooting when things break is one of my least favorite parts of the job – it’s always unexpected and needs to be dealt with immediately.  The urgency and the fact that it’s not budgeted for (who can predict what, and when, things will break?) always makes it a stressful event.

PR and promoting the shelter is one of my main jobs.  Posting on our Facebook page, keeping our website updated, sending out email announcements and putting ads in the paper helps keep us connected with our community.  We strive to make the shelter your go-to place for pet care questions and adoptions.

A lot of time is spent dealing with the public.  I like helping out in the office and do that when we are short-handed.  Answering questions, showing adoption animals, receiving owner surrender animals and strays, taking lost pet reports – one never knows what might come in through the door or what question someone will call with.  It’s actually quite fascinating and a real lesson on our society.  We field a lot of questions from people concerned about strays or their neighbor’s pet that isn’t getting adequate care.  These are tough calls because we all want every animal to be well cared for, but the laws are pretty minimal and enforcing them is difficult and time-consuming.  We do what we can and hope that some education might be enough to cause change.

Just when we start to get jaded by some of the things that we see and hear, someone will come along and adopt a senior or disabled pet and restore your faith in people.  Or a young girl will come in with an envelope of money that she got for her birthday and donate it to help the animals.  Or an adoption alumnus will stop by with his family to show off how well he is doing in his new home – these things just make our day and keep us going!

Animal shelters should be for 2nd Chances

Animal shelters should be for 2nd Chances

By Mickey Zeldes September 5, 2014

There are legitimate reasons to bring an animal to a shelter. If you find a stray animal, we serve as a central lost and found, giving the animal a safe place to wait until his or her owners can come to reclaim their errant pet. We actively try to find the rightful home for each stray animal that comes in our door, scanning for a microchip and sending out emails, certified letters and texts to alert people when their pet has come in as well as posting photos of strays on our Facebook page (Have you liked us yet? Become part of our network and help these lost animals find their way home).

When there are situations of cruelty, abuse or neglect, that’s what a shelter is for. We rehabilitate and care for these animals with the ultimate goal of finding them more responsible guardians. Fortunately, in our small town we don’t see much of that and the type of neglect that we more often see can be resolved with a vet care agreement or warning citation.

There are times when it’s understandable to surrender your own pet. Life can throw some unexpected curve balls at us, and circumstances can change in ways we can’t predict or prevent. Loss of a spouse, loss of a job or a home and other life altering changes can mean that a person truly can’t take care of a pet anymore. The hope is that every guardian has a backup home for their pets if they were suddenly unable to care for them themselves, but we know that’s not always the case (do you have a plan for your pets if something were to happen to you tomorrow?). So many people coming through our door to adopt shake their heads and say “I could never give up my animals,” but we try not to judge too harshly and understand that sometimes this is in the animal’s best interest. And that’s what the shelter is there for – to give these animals a second chance at finding a loving home.

What we’re not, or don’t want to be, is a convenient place to dump your dog because you didn’t train him and now are frustrated at his bad behavior. Or a place to get rid of your cat because she’s elderly and needs more care than you want to provide (and she isn’t “fun” anymore). Or a place to bring your pet when he’s sick or injured because you don’t want to spend any money on him. Really?

We recently got in a “stray” retriever that is 14 years old. Funny that the finder forgot the animal had a microchip that traced the dog back to him. But you can’t force someone to reclaim his or her pet, so here he sits. The dog is obviously having some age-related health issues and now has to spend his last few days in a scary kennel instead of being showered with love and taken to his vet to be euthanized with his caring owner at his side. I have to admit that makes me angry – and sad. People surrender their sick or behaviorally challenged animals to us and believe that relieves them of the burden of having to make that final decision. It throws it into our lap, and then we are criticized for making it.

In many ways, euthanasia is a gift we can give our pets. We don’t have to watch them suffer or have them go off to die alone. We can choose to humanely put them out of pain and be with our companions so they die surrounded by love. If you’re in a situation where you feel you can’t afford to do that last act of kindness, call us and we can help pay for that. Let’s make the shelter what it’s supposed to be – a place where adoptable animals otherwise just down on their luck get a second chance.

The Secret Life of Dog Catchers

The Secret Life of Dog Catchers

Did you know we have a celebrity animal control officer in our county? Shirley Zindler has been with the Sonoma County Animal Care and Control since 2001, the last 10 years as an officer.

In 2012 she published a book that is a compilation of short stories telling about her adventures and various situations she had to deal with as an officer, appropriately titled “The Secret Life of Dog Catchers.” It is interesting, well written and really enjoyable. I learned a lot about what an officer does and even picked up a few tips that might come in handy at my shelter.

What comes through loud and clear, though, is Shirley’s compassion and passion for animals and people. I think everyone who has worked in this field has at one time or another had someone say to them, “I could never do what you do, I love animals too much.” What does that mean? That we don’t? Yes, if we were overly sentimental and sensitive we probably couldn’t stomach some of what we have to do. But it is because we love animals that we choose to work with, and for them, every single day. I always want to ask those people “so what are you doing to help them?” Crying hasn’t saved a single animal.

I love that Shirley has described a full gamut of the type of calls an animal control officer has to face. She has dealt with wildlife problems, cock fights, pit bulls, pit bull owners, people appreciative that she’s rescued their pets, people angry that she’s impounded their pets, injured animals, abused horses…the list goes on and on. Certainly she’s had experiences that I would never have thought an animal control officer would have to deal with. Some are scary, some are sad, lots are happy. Each story has a message. I would be interested to know if that’s apparent to the average reader or if I’m just seeing it because of my connection to the work.

Although, of course, Shirley got to pick which stories to include, and she comes off looking quite the hero in many of the situations, she is honest about the dangers, the falls and injuries, the late night calls and sleepless nights, as well as the physical energy required in the job. If you are at all considering a career in animal control (or have a teen that might be interested), or are just curious about the job and what it entails, I highly recommend this book. It should be required reading for anyone applying for that job to see if they have that level of compassion and the stomach for all aspects of the work. You can order a copy from Amazon for just $11.66. Shirley is donating part of the proceeds from this book back to animal welfare organizations – of course.

What I like best is that every short chapter is a separate story, so you can read it in little bits. We’re thinking of incorporating some of the stories into our camp program and giving the kids a taste of a day in the life of an animal control officer. Despite the title of the book, they really don’t like to be called dog catchers anymore. And after reading this book, you can see the name dog catcher doesn’t even begin to cover the depth of experiences they deal with on a daily basis. My hat is off to them for a good job. Our county is lucky to have officers like Shirley out there protecting us and our animals.book cover