Over the past several years, pet insurance has become more and more popular. There are now a dozen insurance companies in the U.S. that offer policies for cats, dogs and even some exotic pets. Like all insurances, I’d rather stick hot needles in my eyes than try to understand how and when they kick in, and how much should be invested in them. Unless you choose a purebred pet, such as an English Bulldog, that is almost guaranteed to need lifelong extensive veterinary care, it’s a gamble as to whether it will be worth it in the animal’s lifespan.
I mention English Bulldogs because they can be one of the most expensive breeds to own – a factor that should be seriously considered when choosing a pet. Bulldogs are bred to be brachycephalic, or extremely short-snouted, which can result in respiratory problems and skin issues in the folds around their mouth. Their common problems also include severe skin allergies, eczema, degenerative spine disease, cherry eye and hip dysplasia, just to name a few. People love their sad, pushed-in faces, their broad shoulders and short stubby legs, but these are the things that set them up for big problems.
His misfortune in being picked up by the dog catcher and ending up in the “pokey,” so to speak, turned out to be a stroke of luck for him. We’re working on finding the resources and advocates needed to get his medical issues addressed and to make sure that he’s monitored regularly. Whether that happens through his owner or through rescue has yet to be determined, but either way, he will receive the care that he needs.
English Bulldogs are one of the breeds whose medical challenges are extreme, but any time you are considering a specific breed it’s imperative that you understand as much as possible about the health issues that may be common to them. Being ill-prepared for such considerations often leaves pets suffering poor health, and gets owners in over their heads financially. For breeds who are predisposed to medical issues, pet insurance is a no-brainer and could be the difference between putting down a pet and being able to afford expensive veterinary services.
Plans generally cost anywhere from $10 to $40 per month, according to what coverage you choose, but can be more expensive for some pure breed pets. There are plans covering only accidents/injuries, which are on the cheaper end; plans that cover illness and disease in the mid-range; and those that cover all conditions at the high end. Premiums also may be affected by gender and the cost of living in your area. Whether you choose to insure your pet or not, it’s always a good idea to set aside money for both regular veterinary care and the unexpected. Annual costs including office visits, vaccines and parasite treatments can run a few hundred dollars in and of themselves. There are good resources for comparing plans on the internet, and your vet’s office may be able to offer some advice as well.
Relocating to Florida is looking better every year. Although I might have to spend more money on grooming to keep the dogs shaved down, at least I would not have to shovel a path through the ice and snow for them to go outside. Snow is one thing, but that ice last week turned my yard into a hazard zone for the dogs and a whole lot of work for me. Their first attempt to race out the door, in hot pursuit of those thieving squirrels raiding the birdfeeders, turned into a scene out of the ice follies as paws hit the icy deck and the four-leggers went sprawling! I couldn’t let them outside unsupervised because branches and limbs were snapping like toothpicks, which eventually broke a gaping hole in the fence – the fence that I put up so that I would NOT have to stand out in the weather when I let the dogs out. I suppose I would have to worry about hurricanes in Florida, but at least I wouldn’t be cold and I wouldn’t have to shovel.
It seems odd to go from ranting about blizzard conditions to concerns about spring, but that was my intention this week. I wanted to remind you that these are your last few days to get your pets licensed. Most municipalities, including Vineland, give you through March 31 to get it done, so Thursday (Friday is a holiday) will be your last chance before late fees will apply. Also, remember that you should be prepared to pay cash for the license when you go to your municipal building.
The other thing I wanted to mention was parasite control for your pets. For those of you who stop your dog’s heartworm prevention medication over the winter, it’s time to start it back up again. Vets recommend that dogs be tested/retested before they will prescribe the meds. Although this spring seems to be having some difficulty kicking into any warming trend, heartworm disease is very serious and can cause damage to the heart tissue and even death; don’t take any chances by delaying prevention.
The ticks are already out and about, and the fleas will follow shortly, so you should also start whatever external parasite prevention treatment you use. There are seven major tickborne diseases that affect dogs, Lyme disease being the one that dogs in our area seem to suffer the most. These diseases can cause all sorts of symptoms including fever, pain, loss of appetite and vomiting. There are several options for external parasite control: over the counter vs. prescription; topical vs. oral; and treatments that last for one-, three- or six-month periods. For your pet’s safety, you should always consult with your veterinarian before starting any prevention, even if it’s over the counter, because they are all some type of pesticide. Never combine treatments or use them repeatedly before the recommended intervals, and watch for any allergic reactions when administering.
Finally, although warm weather has failed to make its appearance, new life has begun to emerge. As I stated last week, the KITTENS ARE COMING, so please do what you can to promote spay and neuter. We also received our first infant squirrel of the season; it had been rescued from a nest that was brought down in the storm last week. Wildlife in general will be on the move as they begin their mating season and the young come out of their dens and nests, so keep your eyes on the road and be vigilant when you’re out removing all those fallen trees and branches.
The little “Valentines Litter” has left and my house and now it seems way too quiet. I have an extra half-hour in the morning and at bedtime; no more cleaning up puppy pads, mopping floors, feeding eight excited little mouths, or any of the other responsibilities that come with raising puppies. When you’re a foster parent, letting go can be tough. But when you see the joy of the families who are bringing home their new little bundles of fur, it makes it all worthwhile.
The timing of hosting this litter at my house was perfect, because in the midst of all the hubbub of raising them, we had to let go of one our own. For those of you who read this column regularly, I’m sure I don’t have tell you how traumatic it can be to lose a pet. It was devastating, and quite frankly I was thankful to have the joy and distraction of those beautiful puppies to help ease the pain.
Late on Christmas Eve, we returned home from a family gathering and our 170-pound, 10-year -old Leonberger, in his excitement to greet us, slipped and fell on the tile. Leonbergers are a giant breed of dog with a typical life span of about 8 years. King was well past his prime and had been struggling with a weak back end for a couple of years. When he slipped and went down, his back legs splayed out at an unnatural angle and we knew right away that he was in trouble. A midnight drive to an emergency veterinary hospital in Delaware ended in our worst fears; he had nerve damage to his back left leg, and recovery for a dog his size and age was pretty much impossible. The vet recommended euthanasia, and at 3 a.m. on Christmas Day we had to put down our big guy.
After the pups left and the full brunt of the loss of King was settling in, I was asked if I had the choice to have my animals live for 30 years rather than their normal lifespan, would I choose that?Would you? Would you prefer to have just one or two pets in the course of your life and perhaps avoid the pain of losing them every 10 or 12 or 14 years? I found that question virtually impossible to answer. As a true animal lover, I have had many wonderful pets in my life. Thinking back about them, it occurred to me that if cats and dogs lived viable lives of 30 years, I would have only experienced maybe two or three of my previous pets. I feel like I have had special relationships with all my pets. They all had different personalities, they all had special meaning in the different phases of my life, and I have learned many different things from experiencing the unique joys and challenges that each one gave me. So which ones would I have given up if I could only have had a few?I don’t know the answer to this question and I’m glad I don’t have to make a choice. I share this with you mainly to give you pause should you ever you find yourself hesitating to get another pet after the loss of one that you’ve dearly loved. Don’t deprive yourself of finding a new four-legged companion who will typically bring you a little frustration in the beginning, a whole lot of joy for many years in between and, yes, ultimately sadness in the end. That’s life; share it with a shelter animal – that’s a life well lived.
The DNA results are finally in for the “Valentine Litter” of puppies that have been featured in this column for the past several weeks. As we expected, they come from a real hodgepodge of wonderful canine breeds. What we didn’t expect was mom’s lineage; we felt very sure that she was a wire-hair Jack Russell mix, but not so!
We ran a Wisdom Panel 3.0 on one of the puppies, which shows not only what his breed line is, but also shows the family tree of both mom and dad. The test is done by taking a swab sample from the inside of the dog’s cheek and sending it into the lab. The sample is then registered online and, in two or three weeks, the results are delivered by email. I’ve done it for a few dogs, and although there was a glitch for some reason with the initial registration this time, I called and was very impressed with the courteous and professional receptionist that resolved the problem immediately.
- 25% Schnauzer
- 25% Yorkie
- 12.5% Lhasa Apso
- 12.5% Pug
- 12.5% Beagle
- 12.5% Common Terrier mix breed
It turns out that Molly, the mother of the brood, is half Schnauzer and half puggle. Pu
ggle is a more recent designer breed that came from mixing beagles and pugs. Puggles were first bred in the 1980s and became commercially popular by 2000. Molly’s wiry hair obviously comes from her Schnauzer background. Her coloring, white with grizzled gray and tan patches, must come from the beagle. Although her snout is not short like that of a pug, some of that trait has been passed down to a few of the puppies. The family tree showed that the father of the pups was half Yorkshire Terrier mixed with a Lhasa Apso/mixed terrier. The puppies definitely reflect the father’s Lhasa influence in their long hair and markings.
It’s been amazing to watch this litter as they grow and transform pretty much on a daily basis. Now that we know what’s behind their development, it’s really interesting to see how their ancestry plays into their different characteristics. Cupid and Romeo have fur that had to have been passed down from their Lhasa-mixed father. Ruby and Valentino are more reflective of Molly’s traits with their coloring and structure. Scarlett, Juliet, Eros and Casanova all look as though they haven’t made up their minds yet about what color they want to be or what length and texture their coats will be; they continue to lighten up with more and more tan and white coming out and their fur is a mix of textures with both the long smooth hairs and wispy, wiry hairs sticking out all over.
If you have a mixed breed dog and are curious about his or her lineage, I highly recommend the DNA testing. It’s reasonably priced and it’s easy to do. The results can not only explain your dog’s physical traits, but also give you insight to some behaviors and be valuable for veterinary diagnosis purposes.
Stop by the shelter from Feb. 12 to 17 to pick out your favorite SJRAS adoptable critter and have your photo taken with them at the kissing booth.
After your photo is taken, you’ll receive a free ticket for a drawing to win a prize basket. For an extra entry, just share your photo on social media and tag us (CumberlandCountySPCA on Facebook; @ccspca with #IKissedADog or #IKissedACat on Twitter; or @cumberlandcountyspca on Instagram) and we’ll give you an extra chance to win.
Source: Doggy DNA helps solve a mystery
The “kids” are growing up! In a little more than two weeks, our Valentine litter of eight beautiful pups will be ready to start their new lives. The thought of sending them out into the world is bittersweet; I’m happy to have them go to homes where they can be the center of attention, but a little sad to let them go. It’s been quite a while since I’ve fostered an entire litter from birth, and I got exceptionally lucky with this crew – they have been a real joy!
Initially, I was concerned about Molly (the mother) delivering because she’s such a small dog and her belly was so HUGE! I felt sure that she either had pups that would be too large for her to deliver naturally, or that she had too many in there and they might not all survive. She is also very young; this is undoubtedly her first litter, which might have made it very difficult for her to handle a large litter or, heaven forbid, if she were to need a C-section.
In two short weeks, they should be ready to be spayed and neutered, which, barring any hitches, would be done on Valentine’s Day. I’ll then bring them home for a couple of days to recover, and they’ll be ready to go to their homes that weekend. It’s time to start taking applications for them, so it’s time to tell you more about them on an individual level.
You can see from their pictures that they have different coats, and their fur may change as they mature. Even at this tender age, their personalities are starting to develop. This is what they’re telling about themselves so far:
- Casanova: He’s laid-back kind of guy. He’s very sweet, usually has the tip of his tongue hanging out, and likes chewing on his brothers’ legs and ears. His coat is on the longer side, possibly getting a little wiry as he matures. He’s not as demanding as some of his siblings, and should do well in any home.
- Cupid: When they passed out the good looks, he was first in line. His coat is gorgeous – long, wavy and shiny black with some brown and a little white mixed in. He’s on the ornery side, having some of the terrier attitude that makes him confident and interested in everything around him.
- Eros: He’s the brains of the family. He wants to be with his people and he finds ways to get to them, even when he’s contained in his pen. If he can’t find a way to sneak out, he hangs his head and little front feet over the barrier and works you over with his pitiful look until you give in and pick him up.
- Juliet: She is petite, lovely and full of herself. She’s sporting a medium-length fur coat of lustrous black with white accents. She’s confident and likes being part of things, so she’d fit right in with an active family or someone who wants a dog to do things with.
- Romeo: He’s the biggest guy but he’s a quiet, mushy and loves to snuggle. His coat is long, wavy and mostly tan with black tips – a real looker! He seeks attention and likes to play. He’ll be a great companion to whoever is lucky enough to have him.
- Ruby: She does not miss a trick! She’s ready to get out and about and be a part of the real world. As you can see from her picture, she’s super cute and very hard to resist. Her fur, although longer now, looks like it may end up like her mama’s – medium length and a little wiry. She is a doll and will have you wrapped around her little paw in a heartbeat.
- Scarlett: She is a real character! She’s a little bigger than Juliet but has the same self-assured personality and look. She looks you directly in the eye and is always looking for a little fun. She would make a great family dog.
- Valentino: This little runt boy reminds me of Eeyore with his big, brown, pitiful eyes. He’s half the size of his brothers, but doesn’t let that hold him back. He is the only one with a short coat, which accents the little wiry tufts on his snout. He’s quiet and loving, which would make him perfect for a more mature home.
We are accepting applications both online or at the shelter. Check out our “Puppy Bowl” video at thedailyjournal.com or southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org for a close-up look at the Valentine crew getting fired up for the Super Bowl. You also can check out our “Underdogs”: a few of our special pets who have “wonder dog” potential but have been overlooked by potential adopters. In celebration of Super Bowl LII, a select group of pets are available for a reduced adoption fee of $52.
The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in Vineland is proud to have been selected as a Grey Muzzle Organization grant recipient this year.
The Grey Muzzle Organization is a wonderful organization that funds programs run by shelters and rescues that benefit senior dogs. We have had this honor in the past, and our Grey Muzzle grants have helped to form and sustain our shelter’s Senior Society. This year’s grant is extra special because it allows us to expand our Senior Society to include community outreach and owner surrender prevention.
In addition to providing medical care for senior dogs who have been released to the shelter, were found as strays or are cruelty cases, we are now also able to offer assistance to members of our community who own senior dogs they want to keep but just need some help to be able to do so. We recognize that the best place for senior dogs is with the family who loves them, and now we have the ability to provide assistance to some families to keep them there!
We also have had situations where it’s not possible to support the dog staying home. We always strive to respect owners and their particular situation. The welfare of the animal is most important, but as a community-based program, working with and respecting owners is a part of our program as well. When these situations arise, we try to determine if it’s in the dog’s best welfare to be immediately brought to the shelter for care or if we have time to try to find a home or rescue for the dog so he can skip the often stressful shelter stay.
We are currently working with both situations:
- Scooter’s family reached out for help and he was released to the shelter this weekend because he had developed a medical condition that needed medical care. He’s now receiving medication and soon will be looking for a new home.
- We are also helping Mikey, a 15-year-old Corgi mix whose family is unable to care for him. They are keeping him at home until we find a family that can better meet his needs.
We also provide hospice care for senior dogs who have medical conditions that we cannot fix. We can give them lots of love and comfort and dignity as they finish out their time with us. We are currently providing a beautiful Labrador named Buddy with hospice care; he’s very loved in a foster home and receiving medication and special food to keep him feeling his best. We are seeking sponsors for Buddy’s prescription food, as we hope to be able to need it for months to come! This is a wonderful way to help us help our seniors.
And, of course, we continue to provide care for the many senior dogs that arrive as strays. We try to get our seniors into foster homes, where they are more comfortable. That’s the case with Amigo, who has been waiting for over 100 days to find a home! He’s a staff and volunteer favorite, and awesome just pours out of him like rays of sunshine! He’s perfect with other dogs and cats, and housebroken. He’s an outdoor enthusiast – loving trees and water and leaves and sunshine and dirt. If you need a devoted companion in your life, he’s the perfect AMIGO for you.
We also are caring for Jack, another favorite of staff and volunteers, who hasn’t found a forever or a foster home yet. Jack is a boxer/bulldog mix who is 8 years old and just about as lovely as they come. He’s very well-trained, housebroken, neutered and just waiting to offer you his big paw as a sign of goodwill. He loves when volunteers snuggle in his kennel with him. He’s been a bit stiff, living in a kennel during the winter, but fortunately our Grey Muzzle Organization grant has allowed us to keep him comfortable with medication. Jack is a big boy; the only thing bigger than his paws are his heart. Jack would love to find a warm home to curl up in sooner rather than later. Come visit him at the shelter.
For more information about adoptable Senior Society dogs, sponsorship opportunities, fostering or hospice opportunities, or to seek help with a senior dog, please contact me at Rescuepartners@cumberlandcountyspca.org.
Holy moly! If you read the column last week, you know that I was pacing the floors waiting for my foster dog to deliver her pups. It turned out to be a VERY LONG wait. Throughout the day she was restless, up and down, in and out of the closet that she chose for her “birthing suite.” We knew by 6:30 in the morning that she was ready and we were vigilant all day, but by 11 o’clock that night, I was exhausted and nothing was happening.I finally decided to try to get some rest. She had other ideas.At midnight, I heard a decisive yelp from the closet and, sure enough, the first pup was working his way out. I had never heard a mother dog cry out during delivery, but I have read that they experience contractions much like human mothers and therefore must have similar pain. She cried out two more times with the second and third pups, but after that she seemed to settle in and take the deliveries with stride. I think she is a first (and last!) time mother, so her agitation and lack of experience probably added to her discomfort.
A little after 3 a.m., she finally delivered the last of her eight – yes, EIGHT – puppies. That’s a very large litter for such a little dog. As I stated last week, I was sure that she was either carrying a few big pups or a lot of little ones, but I didn’t expect EIGHT! Typically, small dogs have small litters; five would be considered large for them. The last puppy took the longest between births, and by that time she seemed to be exhausted and lay down, almost nodding off, until a few seconds before the last little girl popped out.After she had finished removing the sack from the pup and getting her settled, I wanted to get mama cleaned up and get her outside. I felt terrible, because it was the night that it snowed and I hated like heck having to send her out in it, even for a minute, with what she had been through. I needn’t have worried. After letting her out, I peeked through the window to make sure she was getting off the deck and doing her business. Imagine my surprise when I spotted her doing the “snow plow,” running her chin and belly through the new snow and rolling in it excitedly on her back. She came back in and was zipping around, acting crazy, like dogs do when they have just had a bath. She drank some water, ate a huge predawn breakfast and finally retired with her new babies for a few hours.In spite of her being new to motherhood, she has been fantastic with the puppies. She probably will weigh in at 13 or 14 pounds after her milk is dried up, but right now she’s eating more in the course of a day than my 85-pound sheep dog does. She gets a cup of kibble and a half-cup of canned food three times a day, snacks on dry food in between, and gets a handful of treats at bedtime. Eating for nine is obviously a big job!
The puppies will be ready for adoption around Valentine’s Day, and I will keep you updated on their progress as they mature. Right now, they look like little bubble-headed mice, with eyes not yet open and just able to slither around a little on their bellies. Check out thedailyjournal.com for a video! Those of us at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter hope that you are enjoying your family and friends over this holiday season and please keep in mind that we have many pets here that are waiting still for a safe, warm and loving home like yours.
For the past nine years, the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has held a Dog of the Year competition, and it has been one of the most successful fundraisers in the history of our organization. The contest is run with 12 of our adoptees vying to raise the most money to support the animals we are currently caring for in the shelter. It’s a wonderful way for the adopters of these beloved pets to show off their candidates while helping to ensure the future of homeless pets.This year’s format was a bit different in that the dogs in the contest all belonged to our staff and board members. Whether in the hallways of the shelter or out in the cyber world, it made for some rough and tumble competition! When it was all said and done, the winner of the competition was none other than Rosco, a classy and dignified Schnauzer belonging to the president of our board of directors
Rosco originally came to us as a stray from Carneys Point back in April 2011. A middle-age adult at that time, he was purebred, perfectly groomed, perfectly behaved, housebroken and mannerly. None of us could ever understand why no one ever came to look for this perfect little guy. Even after 30 years in this industry, I am amazed at the animals that are never reclaimed by their original owners. We receive a very large percentage of stray pets that have obviously been well cared for, trained and loved, yet no one comes looking. Well, apparently it was meant to be because that person’s loss was his new mom’s gain; a more perfect match was never made.
Rosemary and Rosco became constant companions. He was stubborn, independent and had a mind of his own; yet, he was well-behaved, loving and always up for a new adventure. He loved car rides and, when it was time to buy a new vehicle, the back seat had to have just the right set-up for Rosco to ride comfortably and it had to afford him a great view. He loved long walks, going to the dog park, and sniffing every blade of grass and every tree trunk he came across. Being so well-traveled, he also became widely known and loved by many. It was a successful adoption in every way, shape and form.They were the perfect team to enter the Dog of the Year competition and they blew everyone out of the water, raising over $6,000. Sadly, though, in a heartbreaking turn of events, Rosco became ill during the summer and in spite of receiving the very best veterinary care, they were not able determine the source of his problem and he did not survive. It is a horrible thing to lose your four-legged soulmate. It is especially hard when they go before their time.A new study published Friday found dog owners generally had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death, compared to those who didn’t own a dog. Video provided by Newsy NewslookHis victory as Dog of the Year is bittersweet, but it is gratifying to know that he was loved and celebrated. For everyone involved in the contest, it was a very emotional end to wonderful year of competition and camaraderie.
Overall, the 2017 contest raised $18,000; the fight was so fierce that the third-, fourth- and fifth-place winners were with $16 of each other. We’re very proud of our two-legged competitors; they are comprised of a highly dedicated group of people who truly go the extra mile for the shelter.
The funds raised this year bring the total of the DOY contest over the years to more than $150,000. Imagine all the animals that have been saved by those efforts. Thanks to all of you who helped support the candidates with your donations – we appreciate your kindness.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report states approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs, and an additional 400,000 by cats, annually in the United States. These are only the cases that are reported; undoubtedly, there are many other bites that either did not require medical care or were omitted from the records that the CDC uses to compile its data. These statistics do not include bites from other species or serious scratches that require medical care.Whether a bite or scratch from an animal seems serious or not, it should always be cleaned immediately and thoroughly. Aside from the outside risk of being infected with rabies, of those 4.5 million dog bites, 900,000 of those victims end up with infections from their wounds. Cat scratch fever results in about 100,000 hospital visits each year. These statistics alone should be enough to convince you to take animal-related injuries seriously. But I also want to make you aware of a recent change in Trenton that makes it more important than ever that you report any encounters resulting in open wounds from animals, especially those from animals that may not be vaccinated against rabies.
Let’s start with the general process. When a person suffers an open wound from an animal, it should be reported to the local health department; doctor’s offices and hospitals are actually required to do so. At that point, in the case of a domestic animal that is in the hands of its owner or has been impounded at a shelter, the health department puts a 10-day quarantine hold on the cat or dog. The animal is observed during that period for any signs of illness that might indicate rabies. If the offending animal is a wild animal that can be captured, or a domestic animal that is showing signs of illness, the health department may determine it should be tested for rabies. In New Jersey, from Jan. 1 through June 30 of this year, 78 animals tested positive for the disease: Raccoons were first, with 48 infections; skunks, second with 12; and cats, third with 11.More: How to plan a pet-friendly vacationMore: Menantico Road in Vineland reopensHere’s where the change comes into play. In the past, samples from the infected animals were sent to labs in Trenton and the results would typically be back in two days. Due to some change in the preparedness of our state lab, samples are now sent from Trenton to an out-of-state lab and the results are not available for about five days. This is significant because if you suffer a scratch or bite that breaks skin by an animal that may have rabies, you must start treatment by having a series of rabies vaccines within three days of the bite.
A couple of weeks ago, one of our staff members at the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was scratched on a Thursday by a kitten that came had come in with some neurological symptoms. The local health department responded accordingly, and this was the first we learned of the delay in receiving test results. The kitten tested negative, but it was the following Wednesday before word came back from the state, and our technician already had to start the human vaccine series.
Please keep your own animals current on their rabies vaccines and be quick to address any open wounds from animals that you or your family might suffer.
Source: Dog bites: What should I do?
We have more exciting announcements from the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This past weekend, we featured the grand opening of the Kitten Nursery. If you didn’t get a chance to stop in, the nursery will remain set up throughout kitten season, so please stop in anytime! We also are continuing our Kitten Shower for donations and featuring our promotion in which if you adopt one cat or kitten you can adopt a second for free.This week’s exciting updates are for the dogs – literally. We have introduced two new exciting programs for our volunteers to share with our adoptable dogs: sleepovers and outings! The goal is to let our adoptable dogs shine in a new light. We know that what you see is not necessarily what you get when it comes to viewing dogs at the shelter. Adopters are making their initial (and most important) impressions of the dogs when they walk through the kennels and see them inside their cages. This is when the dogs are typically the most excited; and while jumping and barking are normal kennel-related behaviors, adopters often may think that the dog is out of control. Their excitement only escalates when they are picked to be taken out, and it can be hard for them to be on their best behavior for that extremely important first meeting with their potential family.
Taking the dogs out of the shelter environment is a great way to show them off and to decrease their stress. Outings are short-term trips in which a volunteer picks up a dog and takes him or her out for any amount of time. This may be a quick trip to the drive-thru on their lunch break, a walk through the park or a long ride in the car. We hope that community members will see the dogs out and about think of them as more than shelter dogs – they will see them as potential exercise partners, companions and family members. They will see their potential and hopefully be eager to take them home. Volunteers will act as adoption facilitators while they are out; anyone interested will be able to speak to the volunteer to learn more about the dog’s personality and the next step they would need to take to adopt. So if you see someone with an SPCA T-shirt or a dog with an “Adopt Me” vest, please don’t hesitate to say hello.
We’re also hoping to improve the dog’s quality of life by encouraging our volunteers to take them home for sleepovers. We all recognize the value of vacation, even a short one, and especially when times are tough. Sleepovers are a vacation for our dogs, a break from everything that creates stress in a shelter situation. They are a chance to receive some extra love and attention in a home environment, and also an opportunity for us to get a better feel for who these dogs really are. We’re looking forward to sharing some more valuable information and fun photos about the dogs based on what our volunteers learn from them at sleepovers. Right now, you must be trained volunteer in order to take a dog for an outing or a sleepover. We encourage anyone who is interested in joining these exciting new programs to join our volunteer program. In addition to outings and sleepovers, our volunteers help by walking dogs and cuddling cats at the shelter, helping at special events and providing valuable help with jobs around the shelter.
And we have more opportunities to come. You can contact Volunteers@cumberlandcountyspca.org for volunteers 18 years of age or older and Jrvolunteers@cumberlandcountyspca.org for volunteers age 8 to 17. The more volunteers we have, the more we can accomplish! The animals need our help, and we’re excited to offer these new and fun opportunities. And whenever you are out and about in the community, consider keeping some yummy dog treats in your pocket – you never know who may come barking at your door!