Critter Chat

April 23, 2014

            In 1988, I was working at a bank in Provo, Utah.  A co-worker came into the office one morning to ask if I wanted his female hamster, Gabrielle.  It didn’t take me long to say I did want her because my sister and I had hamsters when we were young girl and I loved them. The next day, he brought Gabrielle the hamster to me.  As it turned out, Gabrielle was a male gerbil.

I renamed him Gabe and immediately began reading everything I could get my hands on about gerbils.  I moved him from a wire cage to a glass aquarium, bought him species-appropriate toys and generally tried to provide him a good life, even though he would not tolerate being handled.  He enjoyed running through the house in his big plastic see-through ball while his house was being cleaned, and he ate two Cheerios each morning.  Dusty, my cat, enjoyed watching him.  Dusty, Gabe and I moved back to Danville about a year later.

A few years later when I came home from work, I discovered Gabe appeared to be dying.  Dusty, as usual, was sitting on top of the screen top of Gabe’s aquarium, and she refused to move.  A call to my veterinarian helped me decide that since Gabe wasn’t in obvious pain, I would spare him the trip to the office to be euthanized.  Dusty and I kept a vigil until I grew so sleepy I went to bed.  A couple of hours later, Dusty put one soft paw on my cheek to wake me up, and I got up to find that Gabe had died.

Two years ago, my parrotlet, Penny died suddenly.  I did not even know that my cockatiel, Davey, was attached to her, but he became very depressed.  He stopped eating and whistling. I finally contacted a bird sanctuary to see if they had another cockatiel that could be a friend to Davey.

Shortly after I started working for the humane society about 22 years ago, I wrote an article in our newsletter about high-maintenance and low-maintenance pets.  I encouraged people to have low-maintenance pets such as hamsters, gerbils, parakeets, and fish if they don’t have the time or money for pets such as dogs, cats, and larger birds.  I have regretted writing that and I also have regretted feeling that way.

When I saw my cat Dusty holding a deathwatch for Gabe, and as I have observed the thousands of small animals we have received through the years, I know each animal comes with specific physical, psychological, and even emotional needs.  We humans still have a lot to learn about the emotional characteristics of animals.

Until we know and are willing to fulfill all of the physical and emotional needs of each of our companion animals, it is best to remain pet-less.  All pets come bearing an obligation of time, energy, and finances.  There really is no such thing as a no-maintenance pet.

Critter Chat

By Paulette Dean

 

 

 

The problem of cruelty to animals is not just a problem for people who respect and care for animals.  People learn how to abuse, torture, and then ultimately kill humans by practicing on animals.

We received a telephone call several years ago from a woman who had witnessed a man harshly beat two puppies.  When we went to his house to speak with him about it, his response was an arrogant and chilling, “I don’t beat my puppies any harder than I beat my children.”

Another day, as a man filled out an adoption questionnaire for one of our shelter animals, he hit his wife whenever she said something to him.  His application, of course, was declined, even though the answers on his questionnaire were acceptable ones.

We have accumulated hundreds, maybe even thousands, of pictures of abused or neglected animals.  One is a picture of a wonderful black Labrador who had been intentionally set on fire.  There were many witnesses to the incident, and each told the same account; however, we were not able to press charges against the man who threw lighter fluid and then a match on the dog because none of the witnesses wanted to testify in court.  We understood their feelings, because they recognized that someone who did such a heinous thing to a dog may not treat the witnesses kindly.  Simply put, they were afraid of him.

Albert Schweitzer wrote, “Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives.”

The belief that one’s treatment of animals is closely associated with the treatment of fellow human beings has a long history in philosophy.  As early as the 13th century, moralists like Saint Thomas Aquinas proposed that one might lead to the other.  This philosophy served as the ethical foundation for the rise of the animal welfare movement during the nineteenth century.

It is a sad fact that when we  hear of a violent crime that just happened, or the arrest of people on drug-related charges or assault charges, the names of most of the people are familiar to us because we have been to their homes investigating animal neglect or cruelty.

Many studies in psychology, sociology, and criminology during the last 25 years conclude that violent offenders frequently have childhood and adolescent histories of serious and repeated animal cruelty.  Since the 1970s the FBI has recognized the cycle of violence, when it analyzed the lives of serial killers.  The discovery was that most had killed or tortured animals as children.  Other research shows patterns of animal cruelty among those convicted of child abuse, spousal abuse, and elder abuse.

Research and data support what is actually a matter of common sense; that is, if someone hurts an animal, they will also hurt a human.  There is an actual cycle of violence that affects humans as well as the animals.

Critter Chat

For March 26, 2014

 

During a very dramatic staff meeting seven years ago, we named an umbrella cockatoo “Buddy,” even though some staff members thought it was too ordinary a name for such an extraordinary bird.  I was one of those people.  However, other staff members had been calling him that since he had come to us a few weeks before, and they claimed he knew that was his name.

Several weeks before, in February of 2007, we had received word of an absolute auction of hundreds of birds in a breeding facility that was going to close. People who belonged to bird groups on social media decided to raise money to bid on the birds to keep them out of the hands of breeders.  After all, the pet population explosion is not limited to dogs and cats.  Since we were within a 90minute drive of the auction site, people sent donations to us to bid on as many birds as possible.  We pored over the auction inventory list and decided to bid on the ones who had health issues noted, or the ones that were not bonded with another bird.

As the news of the auction spread, the decision was made to have an on-line or telephone auction only.  Through telephone conversations with the owners of the facility, we learned that listing the elderly or sick ones had been a mistake.  They asked if we would be willing to come pick some of them up before the auction.  The answer, of course, was yes.

The day of the auction, the board president, shelter manager, and I sat in front of a computer for the long five hours of the auction. It came time for Bird Number 144 to be auctioned.  This bird, an umbrella cockatoo, seemed to be a bird in need and I placed a bid. The amount went up to $400, and we won him.  We also won 18 other ones, including a blind one, plucked ones, and ones that were prone to having strokes.

That night, as we went to the facility to pay for and pick up our birds, it became sadly obvious that all of the birds were terrified.  The 600 birds that had just been sold to the highest bidder were strangely quiet, as they shook in the crates awaiting transport. Number 144 was no exception.

Through the weeks that followed, Number 144 won a special place in our hearts.  He was the friendliest of the birds.  We found a sanctuary in Indiana that accepted him, along with another cockatoo.  The morning the volunteers were to pick the birds to take them to their new home, staff members cried, and Number 144 squawked pitifully.  The decision was made to pool our money, buy him a cage, name him “Buddy,” and let him stay.

What a fantastic decision that was!  Buddy now yells “Hello” to shelter visitors, as he sits on top of his cage.  He shares our peanut butter sandwiches with us; in fact, one of our faithful Friday volunteers, Rachel, brings him a peanut butter cookie every time she comes.

Buddy loves to entertain us with his dances.  He also to plays with (and throws) empty water bottles.  He is in love with the shelter manager and yells, “April, April, April” incessantly.

Number 144 has truly become our buddy.  In thousands of shelters throughout the country, there are millions of Number 144s, whether they are birds, dogs, cats, ferrets, and the list goes on and on.  All of the Number 144s have their own tales to tell.  Perhaps your next best buddy is waiting for you at a shelter!

Partial Quarantine News Release

We believe in being frank and transparent, and have just issued a news release.  We share it with you, ask for your understanding.
For Immediate Release
February 4, 2014
Contact:  Paulette Dean
(434) 799-5306
Open-access shelters like the City of Danville animal shelter do not turn away animals.  Stray animals and some owner-released animals come to us with unknown medical histories and questionable vaccination history.
We have had two confirmed cases of distemper in dogs that have been adopted, and two more adopted dogs have died.  They were not tested for distemper.  Other dogs have had a virulent strain of pneumonia.  The animal areas have been quarantined for a couple of weeks, and employees have worked overtime to constantly disinfect every inch of the shelter. Visitors have not been allowed to visit the animal areas. Brooms, pooper scoopers, mops, and squeegees have been thrown away and replaced.  Dogs have been constantly monitored for any sign of nasal discharge or other illness, and have been placed on antibiotics. Dogs that appear unhealthy, if the antibiotics have not been effective, have been euthanized.  We have always vaccinated dogs and cats, and the vaccination protocol of vaccinations upon approval at the shelter is being strictly enforced.
Distemper was eradicated years ago, and many veterinarians have never seen a case of it.  However, lack of vaccinations in rural areas has led to resurgence in some areas.  Illnesses are brought in from animals that are received.
During this same time, several sick raccoons suspected of having rabies, have been killed and their bodies brought to the shelter.  They tested negative for rabies; however, raccoons are susceptible to distemper and can get it from dogs, as well as give it to dogs.
Make no mistake, the Danville animal shelter is not the only place affected by this.  We strongly urge all owners to have their dogs and cats vaccinated, if they have not been.  Check with the veterinary clinics for vaccination protocols.  If your dog has had an upper respiratory infection, monitor him closely for signs of nasal discharge, drooling, and any neurological signs.  If you notice anything, call a veterinary clinic immediately.
An advisory team from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine led by Dr. Bill Pierson, will visit the shelter next week.  They are also testing samples from sick dogs.  We are so grateful to them for their expertise and willingness to help.
Staff members are heartbroken by this.  Citizens who want to help can donate towels, blankets, bleach, brooms, and cleaning supplies.  We appreciate so much the continuing support and understanding.

Birds of a feather flock from shelter

Birds of a feather flock from shelter

Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2013 7:40 am

http://www.godanriver.com/content/tncms/live/godanriver.com/entertainment_lifestyles/lifestyles/article_bf869c6a-4e57-11e3-85b3-001a4bcf6878.htmlBy PAULETTE DEAN Contributing columnist

African Grey parrots could be considered the most well-known of the exotic birds.

One, Alex, participated in language studies for more than 30 years, and proved he could understand language, not just mimic it. Because of over-breeding of birds (a tragedy in and of itself), we have seen a marked increase in exotic birds being received at the shelter. I would like to share the stories of four of the Greys received, and the special people who have adopted them.

Lynn Shelton is our board president, and is a court-appointed humane investigator in Danville. He also accompanies me on our calls in Pittsylvania County. In 2005, we were called to a home in the county regarding the poor care of some birds. The owner willingly let us in the basement, and we found two large birds — an African Grey Timneh and a Rock Pebbler. The Grey was in a small, dirty cage that had an interior laced with spider webs and spiders. She and I looked at each other, and I felt her misery. The owner said he would decide if he just wanted to give them to us, and after his decision was made, we went the next day to pick them up.

Lynn confided in me that he had always wanted an African Grey, and this bird became his special project. He found another cage, bought perches, and spent a lot of time with her. Cindy, his very patient and compassionate wife, met the bird he had named Winnie, and they decided to adopt her.

Winnie was joined by two adopted parakeets, and then a cockatiel. By this time, we recognized Lynn had a special rapport with birds. He is afraid of none of them, and his calm treatment helps to socialize them.

Another African Grey, this time a larger, male Congo, was turned over to us during another cruelty case. Again, Lynn helped him heal from his ordeal, and named him Winston. Winston was placed for adoption, but no one came forward to adopt. Lynn’s wife, Cindy, would come to the shelter to visit Winston, and it soon became apparent that Winston loved Cindy. So, Winston also went home with them. Lynn reports that Winston tolerates him, but absolutely loves Cindy.

As the different birds came into the shelter, Lynn bonded with them. His gentle way with birds helped macaws, cockatiels, Amazons and cockatoos heal enough to find a place either in homes or sanctuaries. Several African Greys were placed in sanctuaries because they were better suited to live there, not in private homes. I think of him as our Bird Whisperer.

Not long after Winston was adopted by Lynn and Cindy, an older couple asked if we would help them find their Grey Congo, Alex, a home. The man had serious health issues, and the woman just could not take care of him. Yes, was the answer — we did find a home for Alex. Lynn and Cindy decided that they would be happy to provide a home. Alex came to stay at the shelter for a couple of weeks, until a new cage could arrive. Alex is a talker; in fact, he is a fantastic talker. One day during the time he was at the shelter, an angry woman was yelling in the front office. Alex began yelling, “Calm down, calm down.” She did; hopefully, she was suitably humbled by being corrected by a bird. Alex can mimic Cindy’s voice so well, you cannot tell the difference.

Winnie has a bell she likes to ring. When she gets excited and rings it for a long time, Alex says, “Quit,” and Winston yells, “Winnie!” Now, that’s adorable.

Ever since Alex joined Winnie and Winston, Lynn told us all they could not adopt any more birds. Tragically, their two cockatiels both died this year. One had undergone chemotherapy for cancer, but it had returned so he went to heaven. Shortly after that, the other cockatiel died of health issues. So, there was space in the bird room for another cage.

A couple of weeks ago, another female African Grey Timneh was released to us. She was in very poor condition because she had become so stressed over the health issues of her owner. Maddie was nervous, but the Bird Whisperer worked his magic, and her true, sweet and friendly personality came through. Lynn would visit her every evening after he left work at Goodyear. One evening last week, I received a text from Lynn that said, “We want to adopt Maddie.” We were all overjoyed, knowing that Maddie was going to receive the best of care and would be surrounded by other Greys and by people who love her.

Birds make wonderful pets, although they are high maintenance. We have cockatiels and parakeets available for adoption.

Dean is the director of the Danville Area Humane Society. Critter Corner is co-sponsored by the Register & Bee and the Danville Area Humane Society. Questions or comments should be directed to Critter Corner, P.O. Box 3352, Danville, VA 24543 or emailed to dahsinc@yahoo.com.

 

With care, kindness, smiles animals can rebound

With care, kindness, smiles animals can rebound

Posted: Sunday, November 3, 2013 6:00 am

http://www.godanriver.com/content/tncms/live/godanriver.com/entertainment_lifestyles/lifestyles/article_12bd4c6e-4343-11e3-8635-0019bb30f31a.htmlBy PAULETTE DEAN Contributing columnist

We have all seen pitiful people.

They may have been the awkward student in school who no one would sit beside at the cafeteria table. Maybe they were the homeless person on street. Maybe the pitiful person we remember was the hard-working person, struggling to carve out a good life for their child, while nothing seemed to work in their favor.

On and on goes the list of pitiful people. I have learned a thing or two over the past 21 years at the shelter about pitiful people and animals. May I share one such lesson?

I will use Dawn to illustrate the lesson. She is the pit bull who was chained in a lot this summer. Her neck had a massive injury, and when a police officer found her, her neck was thickly covered with flies. She was emaciated and pitiful. Her picture could actually become the poster picture for neglect.

She was seized from her owners, and taken immediately to a local veterinary clinic. There, she received emergency care for her neck wound. She eventually had surgery to repair the wound. She was found to have mange and treatment was started. We named her Dawn because the minute she was seized became the dawn of a new life for her. She gained weight and, after a few weeks, she came to the shelter.

A civil custody hearing in General District Court gave us ownership of her. She loves going on walks around the shelter grounds and loves meeting new people.

We wondered if she would get along with other dogs. Placing dogs in homes also gives us the responsibility to know as much as we can about a dog. So, we decided to introduce Dawn to some small dogs. Wally, my wirehaired dachshund mix, who comes to the shelter every day with me and April’s four small dogs were chosen for the test.

I was called to my office to take a telephone call, so I was not in the hallway when the test took place. I heard a lot of snarling, growling and snapping. The situation in the hallway was one of mayhem. I quickly hung up the phone, and went into the hall. It seems that Dawn passed the test with flying colors and our friendly, tiny dogs failed! To be sure, she does not like when dogs jump on her, but her behavior at the shelter has been very friendly.

Dawn has also gained so much weight, that I bet we are told to put her on a diet soon!

Dawn’s lesson to us is the same lesson we have learned from many starving, scared, and neglected animals. With basic care, and with lots of kindness, pitiful animals will probably cease to be pitiful.

Pitiful humans would also benefit from simple kindness. Simple smiles and gentle words can have a tremendous effect.

Dean is the director of the Danville Area Humane Society. Critter Corner is co-sponsored by the Register & Bee and the Danville Area Humane Society. Questions or comments should be directed to Critter Corner, P.O. Box 3352, Danville, VA 24543 or emailed to dahsinc@yahoo.com.

 

ABANDONED PUPPY FOUND AT MT HERMON DUMPSTER

For Immediate Release

January 15, 2014

Contact:  Paulette Dean

799-5306

            The Danville Area Humane Society is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the abandonment of a young puppy at the Mount Hermon dumpster site.

On January 15th, a person using the dumpster noticed a very small puppy curled up on a blanket in front of the dumpster.  The puppy, a brindle pit bull/Lab mix type puppy, was transported to the City of Danville animal shelter.  He is estimated to be about five weeks old.

“Abandonment of a companion animal is not only illegal, it is unethical and immoral,” said Paulette Dean, director and humane investigator.  “Trash dumpster sites have always been dumping grounds for animals.  Many cats are dumped at this particular site, and people feed them.  Perhaps that leads people to believe that an animal will be able to survive.”

Lynn Shelton, board president and humane investigator, agrees, and adds that this puppy was too young to have any chance of surviving on his own.  “It is the stretch of the imagination to think that this puppy could have made it to the dumpster site on his own.  We believe he was abandoned.”

The puppy will be held the required stray time (five days, not including the day he arrived at the shelter), and then will be placed for adoption.

Anyone with information about this puppy is urged to call 799-5306.  Callers may remain anonymous.

We won the Trees for a Cause!

We are grateful to Motley Florist.  Their beautiful tree won first place in the Institute’s Trees for a Cause.  Each organization keeps 75% of what was in their bucket, and the winning tree gets 25% of each organization’s bucket amount.  That means we get more money.  However, please read the following:
The Danville Area Humane Society is grateful for every penny that people have given us through… the years.  Donations, both large and small, have enabled us to help thousands of animals each year.  We also realize that each charitable organization represented in this contest has needs.  Their contributions to the community help Danville and Pittsylvania County to be a wonderful place to live.  As we thought of the efforts of the Wounded Warrior Project, God’s Storehouse, God’s Pit Crew, and all the others, we knew that our happiness at winning the contest could not be complete, since some of our increase comes through the loss of theirs.
In the spirit of Christmas and Hanukkah, we are going to return the 25% given to us by each charity.  This is a season of cooperation and community involvement, not a season of competition.
The charities can pick up their checks for the 75% this Friday from the Institute, and we invite them to come to the shelter.  We will then give them a check for the 25% they gave to us.

DAHS & DAC 24/7 FITNESS

CINEMA FOR A CAUSE

SAVE THE DATE!

CINEMA FOR A CAUSE CHARITY EVENT DATE ANNOUNCED

Georgia Theatre Company Announces the 10th Annual Cinema for a Cause (formerly “Film & Food for a Cause”) charity event to raise money for local charity groups in their local communities

St. Simons Island, GA., August 28, 2013Georgia Theatre Company is pleased to announce the 10th Annual Cinema for a Cause (formerly “Film & Food for a Cause”) event to be held on Sunday, September 22, 2013 at all thirty-two of their theatre locations throughout Georgia and including three locations participating for the first time this year in Florida, South Carolina, and Virginia.

 

Customers are encouraged to come to the movies on Sunday, September 22, since 100% of all admission tickets, concession purchases, and extra donation bowl money will be donated to local charity groups chosen by each theatre staff in their markets.

 

Participating theatre(s) in the Danville, VA area include Danville Stadium Cinemas. The recipient charity group for this market this year is the Danville Area Humane Society (this group to receive all proceeds on event day).

 

Local restaurants and area retailers are invited to participate by giving out coupons or other promotional items on event day at the theatre locations; interested parties should contact Ms. Ansley Scoville, Advertising & Promotions Manager, Georgia Theatre Company, for details.

 

Last year’s event raised over $166,900 and to date this unique event has allowed Georgia Theatre Company to donate over $637,400 to local charity groups over the past nine years.

 

Advance tickets (regular pricing for all movies) for the event will be available at participating theatre locations beginning at 6pm on Tuesday, September 17 through event day, Sunday, September 22.

 

About Georgia Theatre Company

Georgia Theatre Company is a fourth-generation, family-owned business specializing in movie theater exhibition. The company, headquartered on St. Simons Island, Ga., is one of the 20 largest theater circuits in the United States. Georgia Theatre Company operates 326 auditoriums at 32 locations in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Virginia.