Shelter Sketches: Meet Bella

I’m so sorry that this sketch is late! My computer tried to kill itself on Saturday and it’s only now back to normal. Anyway, my mom was visiting last week and I asked her to pick someone for this week’s sketch. She lives in Pennsylvania so went for a native. 🙂

Meet Bella

Bella is a young German Shepherd/Lab mix. Like my Azu, she was picked up as a stray, but the person who found her couldn’t keep her. Bella gets along great with people and other dogs, and would make an excellent companion! She’s up to date on shots, microchipped, and spayed. Can you take her home?

Contact Info:
Pet Friends Inc., Irwin, PA

Meet Bella

Texture from CG Textures.

To find out more about Bella, check out her Petfinder page.

Chelsea Conlin lives in Las Vegas with her partner, where they do what they can to help animals. They have two dogs of their own: a rescue greyhound named Storm and a mixed breed named Azu. You can find Chelsea on Facebook and Twitter.

Pet ‘Net 2011: Adopting Special Needs Cats

Hey guys! We are excited to be participating in the 2011 Pet ‘Net event which takes place November 16th! This year’s event revisits the topic of the first Pet ‘Net held 4 years ago: pet adoption. How perfect is that for ILRA? Before we get on with our topic, however, I’d like to talk a little more about Pet Net. It is put on by the wonderful people at Petside and this year they are determined to use it to make a difference in the lives of animals. To add some fun for the bloggers and encourage great articles, there will be a voting component this year where the blog chosen as the best will win a $500 donation to the shelter of their choice! How great is that? And Petside has partnered with the Iams Bags 4 Bowls Initiative so everyone can get involved with social media to help feed animals in need! There are two components to this: Facebook and twitter.

Twitter Campaign

On twitter, each tweet with Pet ‘Net hash tag (#IHeartShelterPets) and @Iams will yield 25 meals to local shelters. This includes original tweets as well as RTs! Be sure to have BOTH in your tweet!

Facebook Campaign

On Facebook, every personal adoption story and photo posted onto Petside’s wall will show your support for your local shelters and give you the chance to be featured on as a Happy Tail story!. Every comment or “like” on each post will yield an ADDITIONAL donation of one bowl of food to local shelters and each “like” of the entire page results in a donation of 25 bowls!! So be sure to not only post your story but encourage all your friends to like all the posts. This has the potential to be HUGE!

Adopting Special Needs Cats

Now onto our topic, and one that is near and dear to our hearts: Adopting Special Needs Cats! As many of you know, we are very personally involved in rescuing animals. Over the last few years, we have been involved in Trap-Neuter-Return, helped maintain feral colonies, fostered dogs, saved a cat who had been hit and left to die on the side of the road, caught and cared for cats from the gutter outside our home, raised 2 kittens from a feral mom and successfully moved a feral cat from one location to another. We live and breathe rescue. You would think all of that would be the hard part but it’s not. To us, the hardest part is adopting out those animals, most specifically, the cats. Dogs are easy but as any shelter or rescue will tell you, cats are just hard to adopt out. And I don’t know the reason. Maybe there are less cat people than dog people out there. But more specifically for us, we tend to end up with what could be considered “special needs” kitties. And I would like to take away some of the stigma from them so that wonderful cats like ours can find their loving forever homes faster.

FIV+ Cats

So what are special needs cats? They could have a variety of issues. Some are certainly harder to care for than others but some problems that our fosters have don’t really affect them at all and yet it still seems to scare people off. For instance, we have a habit of being found by cats that are FIV+. FIV, like HIV, means that the cat has a potentially lowered immune system. Like HIV, this status carries a very scary connotation. But if people would do a bit of research, they would quickly find that this is not something that should deter you from adopting a cat. Believe me, when we had our first foster diagnosed with it, we were worried. Would she be sick all the time? Would she make our own cats sick? One vet, going on old, now discounted thinking, even told us that we should put our FIV cats down. Then we came across an article from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary that set us at ease. Cats with FIV can live perfectly normal lives. There are cats that are 20 years old with it! While it can be spread to other cats, it is only through deep puncture wounds or sexual contact. That means that there are people out there that have both FIV positive and negative cats living together with no problems. If the cats are properly socialized, they can love and cuddle with one another and share food bowls and litter boxes as much as they want and the negative cat will be perfectly safe! And you know what? They aren’t going to be sick all the time!

Our first FIV+ foster, Storm, was never sick the entire year we had her and since her adoption, has continued to thrive without consequence. O’Malley, the cat that we rescued from the side of the road, was also diagnosed with FIV. Despite that, he recovered from his wounds and underwent major surgery with no ill effects from his FIV status! FIV is not something to run and hide from. It’s merely something to be aware of. What it really comes down to is that you will need to be certain that your FIV+ cat is kept up to date on all their vaccinations, that you lower their risk of exposure by making them indoor-only cats and that if they do become sick, you take them to the vet immediately because they may not be able to fight off their illness as easily as a negative cat. Now that’s not so daunting anymore, is it?

Urinary Blockages or Crystals

Another special need that we have run across in our cat family is cats with a history of urinary blockage or crystals in the urine. We rescued Jacob from the gutter outside our house. He was perfectly healthy until one day we found him straining to urinate. After a few hours of him crying, we knew he had to be rushed to the vet right away. Because a blockage can kill a cat in mere hours, he had to have a catheter put in immediately, had to have an IV drip and be put on antibiotics. Granted, the emergency vet cost was enormous and we still have not recovered from it. BUT, just because a cat has had a blockage in the past is NOT a reason to skip over them when looking to adopt a cat. For one, there is no way of telling which cats will develop blockages. Like I said, Jacob was perfect until his happened. So avoiding one with a known history of a blockage is no guarantee that you won’t have to deal with one. Knowing a cat has had it can once again, just make you a more informed owner. To keep Jacob from developing one again, he is on a special diet food. There are both dry and canned versions and a few different brands that are specially formulated for cats with this issue. They are of the right acidity that they keep new crystals from forming. While a special diet might seem daunting, we feed Jacob the more expensive wet food every day and it still costs less than $25 a month. And Jacob hasn’t had a single problem since being on his prescription diet. Now that’s not so daunting, is it?

“Feral” Kittens

One last special case I’d like to discuss is kittens from feral mothers. While this isn’t something you might consider a special need, it seems to be something that people are reluctant to take on. Here’s the thing – there is a definite difference between stray and feral cats. Feral cats are wild and yes, pretty much un-tameable. You can keep a feral cat for years and it may never calm down and come to like you. Feral cats are happiest left outside in managed colonies. When we caught Matilda, we were hoping that she would tame. But she was miserable inside so eventually we released her at our new place (carefully following relocation procedures so she would recognize this as her new home). Her two kittens, Mel and Maggie Mae, are a different story. Granted, we didn’t catch them until they were already close to 8 weeks old. That was definitely pushing the cusp – it is best to get the kittens as young as possible so they don’t learn to be afraid of humans from their mom. Don’t get me wrong, it has been a struggle. It has taken us months of work to get the kittens to where they are now. But it has been completely worth it! Maggie Mae is such a little cuddle bug who loves to sit in your lap and just purr away. Mel, while a wild child, has also taken to liking his chin scratched and ears rubbed. They are absolutely gorgeous cats that anyone would be lucky to have in their family. So should a possible few months of patience stop you from adopting a wonderful cat? I think we all know the answer to that question!

Other Special Needs

Now of course there are conditions that are more work than these examples. Diabetic cats would need shots every day. Cats with heart problems like our Merlin require pills every day. Cats with amputations or blindess or any other special need will, yes, need special attention. But I can tell you story after story of how people cope with these problems not only to the point of the animals surviving, but truly thriving. Animals with special needs rely on you to care for them more than those without them. But I can promise you that they know it and they are grateful. You can’t help but develop a special bond with an animal that you have to put a little bit of extra effort into. Don’t you think that extra closeness, that extra time spent together, will be more than worth it in the end? The next time you come across a special needs cat, I hope you will take the time to learn about their needs and find a special place for them in your heart and home.

Adopting & Donating

NOTE: For anyone living in or near Austin, TX, O’Malley, Mel and Maggie Mae are still available for adoption. They are all amazing cats and deserve to find their very own forever homes. You can learn more about O’Malley’s story in his video below. If you could possibly donate towards his care, that would be amazing as well and can be done at his ChipIn. We are able to do the physical rescue and rehabilition but without financial support, we won’t be able to help as many animals in need. Thank you!

The I Love Rescue Animals Foster Challenge!

Hey guys! We’re excited to try out an idea that I’ve had floating around in my head for awhile and that is to throw down a foster challenge. What I mean by that is this: we hear of a shelter in need so we ask a certain number of you lovely people to join us in fostering for a short period of time to lighten their load. I think it will be cool and fun. It will be a great way for us to work together to make a bigger impact than Nikki & I could on our own. It’ll be fun to see us achieve goals!

Our first foster challenge is for people here in the Austin, TX area. For those who don’t know, Town Lake Animal Center is moving to its new location at the Austin Animal Center in East Austin. This is so exciting for our community as we continue to be a leader in no-kill because the old shelter is very outdated and the new, state-of-the-art building will make the adoption experience more inviting. This is a huge undertaking, however, so TLAC is asking for temporary fosters to keep dogs, cats & rabbits during the move. This will make the transition a lot smoother. They are looking for fosters from today through about the 17th. It’s not a very long time but it will make a huge difference. So let’s do it!

If you’re already an approved foster with TLAC, great! If not, it’s a simple online form. I apologize that I don’t know exactly how it will work from there but for this challenge I’m just hoping to get 5 people from the ILRA community to sign up for and foster an animal from TLAC during the move. Just five, but it will help those 5 animals! We’ve submitted a foster application so that means we only need 4 more people to do the same to meet our goal! And once we have our animals, let’s make sure to take a bunch of pictures and videos of our animals and make sure that once they go back to the new Austin Animal Center, they’ll have lots of people lined up wanting to adopt! And don’t worry, they straight up say that if after those days you are too attached to let your animal go, you’ll be allowed to adopt them! So what do you have to lose? Let us know that you’re going to do it and let’s make our first foster challenge a huge success!

Helping Animals in Need in the Central Texas Fires

*** Updated Tuesday, September 6, 2011

We need rain here in Texas. Badly.

That’s a picture from Big Dog Rescue’s Facebook page. They’re located in the Austin area, and their Vice President just had her house burned down and they’re looking for fosters to take in animals displaced. The Bastrop County Animal Shelter was evacuated as well and thanks to the awesome folks at Austin Pets Alive and the Austin Humane Society, all the animals were saved and they’re looking for donations and temporary fosters. You can find more detailed things they need by going to their facebook pages:

*** Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter needs fosters ASAP! They took in 15 dogs from the Leader Fire and have run out of space. Please check out their facebook page for more updated information. If you’re a shelter/rescue/someone looking to adopt, please help them out!

If you haven’t heard, Central Texas is being hit HARD with fires right now. The biggest being the one in Bastrop that has burned up to 25,000 acres since yesterday, jumped the Colorado River twice, and has desecrated more than 300 houses. Over 5,000 people have been evacuated so far, and a mother and her 18-month-old child were killed. The winds from the recent hurricane aren’t helping. You can keep updated about the fires by checking the Austin Statesman.

We are located in east Austin and while the fires are supposedly moving away from us, we’ve still come up with our evacuation plan (packing up 20 animals is no easy feat). Standing outside in our front yard, the smell of smoke is strong. It’s scary. If we didn’t have so many fosters already, I know we’d both be at the shelter taking in animals right now. I’ll be continually nagging friends all day to make sure they’re okay.

Please send good thoughts, positive vibes, and lots of rain.

*** We will be updating our twitter account with information as we get it. Follow @RescueAnimals on Twitter!

Write a Post, Help a Dog 2011

It’s baaack! Once again we are celebrating all things Dog by teaming up with the Pedigree Foundation in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of adoption.

Write a Post, Help a Dog

Every year, more than 4 million dogs end up homeless. That’s A LOT of dogs on the search for their forever homes. Shelters are filling up faster than kennels can be built and with funds being eaten up by the cost of food, few shelters are able to keep up with the demand and have to resort to capping the amount of animals they can house. And we all know what that results in.

So if we can help the shelters by supplying them with food, the money saved is going to help the shelters in other ways. Like funding the building of more space, better vet care, more time to work with dogs that need it. Pedigree understands this and that’s why they are once again joining up with bloggers to bring you the 2011 version of “Write a Post, Help a Dog” campaign. How it works is this: For each post written for the “Write a Post, Help a Dog” campaign, the Pedigree Foundation will donate 20 pounds of their new dry Pedigree food for dogs to shelters. And they are going to give up to 10,000 pounds of food! That’s a whole lot of food for a whole lot of dogs.

Helping Pups Hurt by Hurricane Irene

Because of the timing of this year’s campaign, the Foundation is focusing its efforts on shelters that were hit hard from Hurricane Irene. At the moment, they are pouring through the extensive list they have and we’ll get back to you with the exact shelters that will benefit from this project.

So Here’s What You Need to Do

01. Read this post. Good job.
02. Write your own post about “Write a Post, Help a Dog” and what the Pedigree Foundation is doing to help. This needs to be done by MIDNIGHT EST, SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 3RD! TODAY!
03. Link it to the BlogHop at the bottom of this post.

Easy peasy. Voila! You are helping donate food to a shelter dog in need. The Pedigree Foundation has already raised more than $376,570 so far this year against its goal of $1.5 million to carry out its work to fund grants that not only help shelters operate, but to further shelter innovations. The Foundation depends on charitable contributions from individuals to carry out its mission to help dogs find loving homes. With the help of bloggers around the world, we can make a difference. One post matters.

Other Ways You Can Help

If you want to help in other ways, Pedigree is encouraging consumers to donate online at The Pedigree Foundation or you can purchase some cool Dogs Rule Gear here, where the proceeds go to the Foundation. Likewise, shelters can apply for grants from the Pedigree Foundation by completing a form at The Pedigree Foundation website.

Sorry this is all short notice, folks. With the hurricane and earthquake on the East coast, it took Ash and I a bit of time to get back from vacation. Please write a post today if you have a chance and help us help the dogs that need it! Thank you!