It is the time of year that brings back such fond memories of days gone by of Easter baskets, Easter egg hunts, and lots and lots of candy. Now, it also brings back memories of ducks abandoned in parks, rabbits stuffed into boxes at dumpsters, and additional animals received at the shelter.
Once again, we remind everyone that chicks, ducklings, and baby bunnies generally should not be given to children as Easter surprises.
Too many parents make the mistake of believing that rabbits, chicks, and ducklings make appropriate Easter gifts. Young children oftentimes do not understand how fragile these little creatures are. In an attempt to play or give affection, children can injure or kill the delicate babies. Also, many of these animals may carry parasites. Salmonella is a real danger to children, and can be transmitted from chicken or ducks to humans.
Baby animals are often acquired on impulse at Easter, without consideration of a lifelong commitment. Rabbits, chickens and ducks have an average lifespan of 8-10 years. The longest recorded lifespan of a chicken was 34 years!
All of these animals very quickly grow up. They have specific physical and behavioral needs, which a caring, responsible owner would want to fulfill. A special diet and a carefully controlled environment are necessary for the wellbeing of the Easter pet.
Pet bunnies are being bred in increasing numbers by “rabbit mills” and breeders for the lucrative pet industry. They are marketed as easy, low-maintenance pets who will sit quietly on a child’s lap, when in reality they are complex animals with unique traits and needs.
The novelty of a pet can quickly wear off, when the cute fuzzy bunny becomes a full-grown rabbit. Many of these animals are merely dumped in the woods and parks where they are easy prey for other animals and cruel people. In a world where ninety percent of wild rabbits do not live to be a year old, the discarded domesticated rabbit has very little chance of survival.
Ducks and chickens do not fare well either. We have found grown-up ducks forced to live in small bathtubs, and many domestic ducks have been abandoned by the river bank. Each year, we receive many adult chickens and roosters who are left to fend for themselves, causing problems in neighborhoods.
Just a reminder – it is against Virginia law to sell, raffle, or offer for sale chicks, ducklings, or other fowl under two months old in quantities of less than six. Baby chickens and ducklings cannot be sold as single Easter pets.
If a family is truly prepared for the responsibility of a pet rabbit and have the facilities to meet the needs of the pet, we wish them many years of happiness together. For those who are not prepared for such a responsibility, we suggest a non-living alternative, such as a stuffed animal. A stuffed toy animal makes a great gift for children and does not require the long term expense and commitment of a living animal.
This year, we are again participating in a statewide adoption event. The Midnight Madness is scheduled for Saturday, March 20. We are going to open the shelter at 4:00 p.m. and close again at 9:00 p.m. The adoption fees will be reduced to $50, and will still include the spay/neuter surgery, rabies shot, and health exam by a veterinarian. All of the dogs and cats will have received their first set of vaccinations and will have been de-wormed.
Last year, shelters joined together for the first Midnight Madness. Participating shelters stayed open until midnight to promote the adoption of animals. We opened the shelter at 5:00 Saturday afternoon and planned to stay open until midnight. However, about 10:00, the traffic slowed down and we went home about 11:00. We were thrilled with the support of the event, and had at least ten animals adopted because of it.
Most of the shelters who participated had their employees dress in pajamas for the adoption fair. We were not quite that brave, and will not be that brave again. Employees and volunteers will be dressed casually, but will be dressed!
Prior to adoption approval, shelters and rescue groups ask what may seem like a lot of questions. The questions have two main reasons: to ensure long-term, loving homes for the shelter animals and to make sure that the adoption match is a good one for both the human and the animals.
Our adoption questionnaire asks basic questions, including housing situation (whether you rent or own), number and types of pets you own now or have owned, previous experience with pets, and expectations of a new animals.
According to The Humane Society of the United States, pets are surrendered to shelters for the following top five reasons, three of which are common to both dogs and cats: landlord issues, moving, and the cost of pet care. For dogs, the other common reasons include lack of time and inadequate facilities. For cats, it’s allergies and having too many cats to care for.
Adoption questions are designed to, hopefully, alleviate some of the problems. Pet ownership is a joy, but it is a commitment of time, finances, and emotional resources.
The best adoption matches are the ones where people have studied which animal would be a good pet for them, and then adopting the animal with eyes (and hearts) wide open. For instance, a person who has a busy professional life that keeps them away from home 10-12 hours a day may make a better decision to adopt two adult cats than a young puppy. A person who enjoys a couch-potato lifestyle would do better adopting an older, low-energy dog. A person who enjoys long walks no matter the weather would probably be happier with a young, energetic dog.
In the past, a woman released a hamster to us because her young son did not have the time to spend with her, but then she wanted to adopt a young puppy. Again, adoption matches have to be right for the humans and the animals.
We would love to have you come to the shelter on Saturday, March 20 from 5-9 p.m. to meet the many wonderful, wonderful animals we have. Expect to fill out an adoption questionnaire and a waiting period until the following Monday to ensure that you and your new pet are suitable companions who can spend years of happiness together.
Last week, a dog and cat were “dumped” by the side of Mount Cross Road. Citizens gave information about the case, and we were able to determine who owned the animals.
The owners told us that they used to live on Mount Cross Road, but had moved into the Danville City limits. Last Thursday, they had a small fire in their house, and one of the owners panicked. He put two cats and one dog in his car, drove them to Mount Cross, and was going to put them out in front of the house where they used to live. The long driveway was covered with ice, so he made the unwise decision to leave them by the side of the road. Later in the day, he realized that was not an appropriate action to take, so he and friends went to the location. They found one cat that had climbed a tree. By this time, Humane Society employees had found the dog and the other cat and had taken them to the shelter.
The owners regretted their action, and realize that they placed their animals in danger.
We have consulted with Pittsylvania County animal control officers and the Pittsylvania County Commonwealth Attorney’s office, and have decided that no charges will be filed against the owners at this time.
Two people will be given a reward for the information that helped find the owners, as well as saving the animals.
February 18, 2010
The Danville Area Humane Society is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who abandoned a puppy and kitten in the 9000 block of Mount Cross Road.
About 9:00 this morning, two people noticed a man abandoning a Husky mix puppy and orange cat across the street from their house. He was driving a green four-door Dodge Intrepid. The license plates may be personalized and the first letter may be “S.” The driver is a white male, probably in his twenties. He was wearing glasses, black pants, a white shirt, and a black coat.
The witnesses called the Humane Society, and two employees left the shelter to find the animals. The puppy was in the woods, and came running when called. The cat was hiding in bushes, but employees were able to pick him up. Both animals were traumatized and took a couple of hours to stop shaking. The puppy and cat are being housed at the City of Danville animal shelter. The cat is a neutered male and the puppy is also a male. Both showed evidence of wearing collars.
Abandonment of any companion animal is illegal. Anyone with information is urged to call the Humane Society at 799-5306. Callers may remain anonymous.
Recently, a person in a chat group e-mailed me a video of a parrot that had been captured after a few weeks living in neighborhood trees. People had put food out for the bird, but she eluded capture for a long time. It usually is very hard to capture a bird, even if they are completely tame. A parrot rescue group was called in to help, and finally, she allowed herself to be caught and taken inside.
Everyone involved thought that she would prove to be an unsocialized bird. Instead, the video shows the parrot, now-named Juicy, enjoying her head being scratched, cuddling up to her rescuers, and snuggling down for a nap. It may be hard to prove, but what I saw was a very relieved bird. We have seen relief over and over again in animals that have been taken from dangerous or cruel situations.
Several years ago, a chow-mix puppy, about four weeks old, was spotted on the 29 bypass, soon after it opened. April Hogan and I went to the place where the puppy was seen, but we did not see anything at first. Finally, as we stopped walking and calling for the puppy, we stood still. From underneath the brush, we heard a soft whimpering. Following the sound, we were able to see the puppy and pick him up. As we took him back to the shelter, he settled down on April’s lap and fell asleep. He did not have to be hungry or thirsty anymore, and he did not have to wander along a very busy highway. He was relieved to be taken care of.
A kitten, rescued from a storm drain during a rainstorm was scared, cold, and tired. Relief was written all over her face as she was placed in the van.
The hundreds of dogs that have been removed from chains, the hundreds more animals taken from trees, rescued from the middle of the road, or from underneath houses, have all shown signs of being relieved.
We humans like to feel safe. We like to have an adequate supply of at least the basic necessities. We like to be warm when it is cold, and we like to be cool when it is hot. It is a wonderful feeling when we have those things. On a hot day, isn’t it such a relief to be given a cold drink of water? Or, after being outside in the snow and ice, isn’t it a relief to go inside a nice, warm house?
The animals that we have domesticated and have taken into our homes as pets like those very same things, and it is our responsibility to provide them the security they need and want. They cannot speak to us with spoken language, but their body language does not lie. We have seen relief in the body language of thousands of animals, and that makes us even more determined to help the animals.
As news of the horrific aftermath of the recent massive earthquake has been told, animal lovers have also wondered what has happened to the animals in Haiti. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 500,000 dogs and cats live in the impoverished nation. An untold number of horses and donkeys are also used for work animals, and are now being used to evacuate humans from Port-au-Prince.
In fact, HSUS and Humane Society International (HSI) say that “the overloading and overworking of such animals has become an immediate problem, and HSI will make their welfare a high priority in the days ahead, for these equines are playing a essential role in the lives of ordinary Haitians trying to save themselves and their families.” No estimates are available for the numbers of other companion animals, farm animals, and wild animals. It is probably safe to say that millions of animals are suffering.
It is hard for us to imagine the suffering of so many humans, and then when those of us who also think of the animal suffering, the pain is compounded. Some people would say it is wrong to even think of the animals when so many humans have such dire needs. Several years ago after I spoke at a civic organization’s meeting, a woman came up to speak with me about the needs of humans outweighing the needs of animals. She said that she came from a country where most people live in poverty, and she thought that it was nice that in the United States we have the luxury of even being able to consider the needs of animals.
It is apparent from some on-line comments that are posted on the newspaper website that some people think it is immoral to think about any needs as long as there is any human suffering. I have been asked at times why we work so hard to prevent animal suffering when there is so much human suffering. My reply has always been that the human heart is large enough to have compassion and respect for all humans and all animals.
Gandhi is quoted as saying, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Think about it on an individual basis. Would you want to have your children raised by a person who has abused animals? As we baby boomers age, do we want the people who starve their animals to be the ones taking care of us? That is a scary thought.
All of this, of course, is meant generally. Some of the times I as an individual or the humane society as an organization have been treated the worst have been by people who professed to love animals. I have come to the conclusion that how we treat humans and animals is interwoven and speaks volumes of our character.
For now, until all the problems of suffering humans and animals are solved, we need to do what we Americans do very well – reach out to help the victims of hardship, no matter who or where they are.
As part of an expanded transfer program, on Thursday, January 14, two little dachshunds left the shelter in Danville to go to a large private shelter in the Tidewater area. These dachshunds, Beebee and Lilly, had been with us since September 2008. A large puppy mill in West Virginia was being shut down, and we brought back 47 dogs, all of whom were special needs dogs.
Beebee and Lilly were the remaining ones; they had always been shyer than the rest of the dogs, but they had an impact on the shelter. In early 2009, we publicized the need for volunteers who could help us socialize Beebee and Lilly, along with a couple of other dogs who came from the puppy mill. Six people stepped forward and faithfully came to the shelter. All of the other dogs found homes, but we felt that Beebee and Lilly were so bonded with each other that they needed to be placed together. Adopting one special needs dog is a challenge, and adopting two is an even greater challenge.
From this group of volunteers came the formation of the Critter Cuddler Club, and the shelter animals are still benefiting from regular visits from several of the volunteers.
A few weeks ago, we were notified that we would receive a $3,000 grant from The Community Foundation of the Dan River Region to help us expand a transfer program. Sharon Adams, the executive director of the Virginia Beach SPCA, is a friend of mine, and has taken animals from us before. Their shelter has a staff veterinarian, along with a large staff of people who are trained to rehabilitate and train animals to make them more adoptable. Although we did not want to say good-bye to BeeBee and Lilly, we knew it was in their best interest to do so.
By the time you read this column, a basset hound may have already left to go into her foster home, sponsored by a breed placement group.
Our goal is to transfer 100 animals to placement groups, sanctuaries, or other shelters in 2010. The $3,000 from The Community Foundation of the Dan River Region will help pay for behavioral assessments, veterinary care, and transportation costs. The animals to be transferred will have already been spayed or neutered through the funds received from The E. Stuart James Grant Charitable Trust. They will have received their first set of shots, will have been tested for heartworm disease, and will have been de-wormed.
Our first choice, of course, is to place animals in local adoptive homes. However, that is not always possible. We receive approximately 5,500 dogs and cats each year, and there are simply not that many people who come to the shelter each year to adopt animals.
The transfer of 100 animals is our goal; however, rescue groups, sanctuaries, and other shelters are usually filled to capacity.
This is an exciting time for us â€“ we hope that our no-kill adoption center will be built quickly, the anti-tethering ordinance will provide relief to hundreds of animals, and the expanded transfer program will help us place more animals this year. We are grateful to everyone who donates money, time, or their heart to the animals.
The goal of any good animal welfare organization should be to reduce the number of unwanted companion animals being born, thereby reducing the number of animals who are euthanized. For years, groups have struggled to promote programs that best suit the needs of their particular communities in order to meet the goal of reducing the numbers.
However, many groups have announced their plan to immediately become “no-kill”. That sounds like such a good thing, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. Most shelters could become “no-kill”, but what is not easily understood is this: A no-kill shelter actually should be called a limited admission shelter, because when they are full, they turn animals away. Limited admission shelters decide what animals can be accepted into their shelter, based on what criteria they establish for finding homes for animals. Animals not meeting their criteria are turned away. Animals meeting their criteria are also turned away when there shelter is full.
Becoming a shelter that instantly stops euthanizing animals means that hundreds or thousands of animals remain in homes where they are not wanted, abandoned on the streets, or taken to shelters that are open admission. Until there are no unwanted animals, no cruelty, no abuse, there will be a need of shelters with open doors. There are simply too many animals being born.
In Danville, we believe we have found a path that will help the greatest number of animals. We have announced a capital campaign to build an adoption center that will be adjacent to the current facility. We will not turn away any animal, and animals accepted into the adoption center will be held until they are adopted or transferred to another shelter or group.
We will continue to have an aggressive spay/neuter campaign because there are not enough shelters, nor are shelters large enough, to house the millions of homeless animals in this country. Any shelter can just put a bandage on the overpopulation problem; the solution is to have dogs and cats spayed and neutered.
Nevertheless, we do want to build a state-of-the-art adoption center that will draw people to adopt from us. We also need the additional space this will provide.
Our concern is that people will believe the only adoptable animals are in the adoption center. That will not be the case, and the areas of the current shelter will be open to the public.
We are thrilled about our plans to build a no-kill adoption center for Danville and Pittsylvania County. The plans include two large colony cat rooms, 20 additional dog runs, adoption counseling rooms, and other administrative areas. The current office will be converted into a room to house birds and other small companion animals.
It is estimated that the new center will cost $750,000. Our fundraising committee is always willing to work very hard to help the animals, but this is a project that will need community support. We have a sketch of the proposed adoption center, and would love to send people an information packet if they are interested in donating to this adoption center.
The anti-tethering ordinance let people throughout the country know that Danville, Virginia, will not tolerate the mistreatment of animals. The adoption center will let people know that Danville is a city of caring people.
The Danville Area Humane Society is offering a reward of up to $500 for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for abandoning a 10 week-old male brindle pit bull puppy in a dumpster behind the United Way building on West Main Street.
A man called the shelter on Wednesday afternoon to report that he was walking past the dumpster and heard a puppy barking and whining. Humane Society employees found the puppy a few minutes later. The puppy was dehydrated and hungry, but otherwise seemed to be healthy.
“The puppy is too small to have climbed in the dumpster on his own,” said Lynn Shelton, board president. “We believe he would have died from exposure Wednesday night.”
Abandonment of any animal is a misdemeanor.
Calls may be kept confidential. Anyone with information is urged to call 799-5306.
The low temperatures the Danville area has been experiencing poses special dangers to pets. The Danville Area Humane Society and animal control personnel continue to receive complaints about animals that do not have access to shelter.
We remind everyone that animals, when outside, must have access to adequate shelter. This legal requirement is not limited to animals that are always kept outside, but is required of animals that stay outside for more than a few minutes.
During cold weather, animals must have a constant source of clean water that is not frozen. Food should be increased for animals kept outside.
Thus far, at least one dog and one cat have died from lack of care during the cold weather. Other animals have been seized, enabling them to receive proper care.
We urge everyone to call authorities if an animal is at risk from the weather extremes.
The Danville Area Humane Society is offering a $500 reward for the capture of a medium sized dog that has a plastic container stuck on his head. The dog is a light color dog with black markings, including a big black spot on the back. The dog has been seen in the North Main Street area as well as the Colquhoun Street area. It is believed that people from both areas have seen the same dog, although the possibility exists that two dogs have been spotted.
If the dog can be safely captured, he can be taken to the animal shelter.
The dog is able to breathe, but it is not known whether the dog is able to eat or drink.
If anyone sees the dog, please contact the Humane Society at 799-5306. After business hours, people are urged to call 799-5111.