Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Skinny On Model Shelter: Where The Rubber Meets The Road

You probably have questions. We keep talking about this Model Shelter thing. What is a Model Shelter? Why are we so proud to be the first Model Shelter in the country? What does this have to do with all the fuzznuggets and snugglemuffins you guys are so used to seeing on our social media?

Aforementioned poopies/snugglemuffins.
Relax, friends. We have answers. Super important answers. So bear with us and we're going to explain it. Okay? And trust us, it's very important. And there will be fluffnuggets and scruffmuffins.

"Iff my mouff" (translation: It's my mouse)
Here's why it's really important (and something that most folks don't know): there is absolutely no government agency or judicial act that looks out for the welfare of animals in shelters. None. Nada. There are over 3,500 physical shelters and 10,000 sanctuaries and rescues and no standardized baseline of care for the kids in those shelters.

The Model Shelter guidelines, created by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, are totally voluntary and guarantee that animals are receiving a level of care to protect against them from suffering and disease while in a shelter . It establishes a set of five simple but essential freedoms for animals in shelters. Ready for the five freedoms?

If by 'five freedoms' you mean a cookie then yes, I am so ready. 
  • Freedom from Hunger and Thirst: All animals have ready access to fresh water and appropriate diet to maintain health and vigor. 
  • Freedom from Discomfort: All animals have an appropriate environment to reside in, including shelter and a comfortable resting area. 
  • Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease: Preventative care and rapid diagnosis and treatment are made readily available. 
  • Freedom to Express Normal Behavior: Animals are given sufficient space, proper facilities and the company of animals of their own kind.
  • Freedom from Fear and Distress: Conditions and treatment are ensured to prevent mental suffering.

Everyone needs a little stress relief.

What does this look like? Here's an explanatory scruffnugget:

All better now, thanks. 
This is Trevor. Trevor came to us with parvovirus. While it was important for us to save Trevor, it was equally important that we keep every other animal in the shelter safe from parvo, which is super contagious. During Trevor's treatment he was housed in a quarantined area of the shelter and staff who handled him followed strict bio-security measures to make sure everyone else in the shelter was staying safe. As a result, Trevor got better and found a great home and not one of our other animals got parvo.

Another example? Who remembers Phil the Booger Cat? The super high energy, dog like, nutter-butter Philsy that we all loved so?

Finding Phil a home was fantastic but it wasn't enough. While Phil was waiting for that forever home, he needed to be able to express his natural behavior, to play, and to be comfortable in his space. Which, in Phil's case, required a specialized behavior plan that included one on one time with the behavior staff to get his ya-yas out, play therapy and a much larger space than most cats need. While every single animal gets one on one attention with staff and volunteers, it means going the extra mile to make sure every animal is being treated as an individual and their needs are being met.

Everyone needs friends. 
Okay, so these are big examples but the beauty of Model Shelter isn't in the big, it's in the little as well. It's not just about the dramatic cases, like Phil and Trevor, but in the case of every single animal, every single day. It's the right for an animal to not only have a life but have a life that has value. To have friends and exercise and safe places and things that give comfort while going through the transition of finding a home. To quote Dr. Kate Hurley, who coauthored the guidelines:
"We cherish life and we cherish welfare. We say no to needless death and we say no to suffering in our care, not for one animal, not for one day."

Everyone needs a place to get some alone time. 
To certify as a model shelter we met 543 guidelines and were audited by the UC Davis Koret School Of Vet Medicine. It was a big deal. And while we realize we're lucky to have resources and supporters like you guys that made it possible, we're looking forward to helping other shelters join us as Model Shelters. Because in the end, it's all about the scruffnuggets and snugglemuffins, right?


Friday, October 13, 2017

A Big Blog: A Rundown On A Big Week And A Big, Big Ask.

We need to ask you for some favors right now. Before we do, we'll explain why we need them. Just follow us here for a second. 

This is Tiffanie. Tiffanie, though you wouldn't know it to look at her, is having a pretty rough week. 

I still like cookies, though. So that's something. 
On Saturday morning, she was in New Orleans. She flew up here on an airlift with a bunch of other dogs. The nice folks at a New Orleans shelter were transferring most of the adoptable animals out  so they could house dogs from the recent hurricanes. While six of the airlifted dogs came to us, Tiffanie, her sister and a whole mess of other pets went to our friends at Petaluma Animal Services. This was on Saturday. The kids were pretty happy to get here. 

I am so happy to meet you I must bounce.
On Sunday the world fell apart for many of our California neighbors. As wildfires devastated the North Bay and Napa regions, space was needed in the shelters there. Our transfer van went to Petaluma and picked up fourteen dogs, including Tiffanie and several others who had just arrived from the south. 

Note the color of the sky in Petaluma. Smoke.
This might have been the end of Tiffanie's bad week (she's safely ensconced in a foster home now and not planning any more travel) it was just the beginning of a terrible week for so many more of our neighbors in the north. As the fires continued to rage, we received calls from Marin and Rohnert Park shelters. They were also trying to clear out adoptable pets to make room for the animals coming in from the fire. On 6 PM on Wednesday night we sent out an urgent call for foster homes. Because you guys rock we were crowded with foster folks within two hours. This time it wasn't just dogs. Senior kitty Joseph, happy to be away from the smoke, was on the transport. 

It's been a long day. Do you have treats?
As was outgoing Luke, who has already made new friends in his foster home. 

Thank you tiny hooman. I could use a massage. 
All told, Wednesday we took in eleven dogs, twenty one cats and two guinea pigs. 

As the situation develops, we're in touch with shelters in the affected areas and are ready to offer more assistance if need be. 

Now let's get to the bit where you can help:

Mahina shows off her 'who me? face. Yes, you guys. 
All of the animals we've taken, both from the fires and the storms, were available for adoption before catastrophe struck. They all have been waiting for forever homes. They have all been through an amazing ordeal and a lot of changes. 

They need forever homes. They need a life to settle into so they can start again. 

Even before I got to California, I had been waiting a long time for a home. 
If you have ever thought of adopting, this is the time to do it. Adopting an animal, even one that didn't come from the fires or the hurricanes, benefits way more than just that animal. 

  • It frees up adoption space for the ones waiting in foster.
  • It frees up a foster home for someone else needing to come in. 
  • It offers solace and comfort to the other shelters and individuals who worked so very hard to get these animals out of harm's way. 

If you can't adopt, tell all of your friends. Tell your lonely aunt - she'd love a big mellow cat like Valerie. 

She likes TV, I like TV...
Tell your jogging neighbor who could use a big handsome bubba like this guy.

Did I hear running?
Tell everyone. The stars are aligned. The universe has spoken, This is the best possible time to adopt. Right now.  Please. 

Thank you. 

For more information on our response to the fires and how to help, look here.

Again, a massive, enormous thank you to our donors, volunteers, fosters and staff who pulled together and made everything that has happened this week possible. You are heroes. Every single one of you. 

This was our lobby at 10 PM on Wednesday when the transfers rolled in. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Looking For The Helpers

This isn't our usual kind of blog but this hasn't been a usual kind of week, either. It seems important, after the news of the past week, to remember how overwhelmingly much good there is out there. 

So we have some really good news for you today: people are awesome. People are awesome and wonderful in big ways and small ways every single day. With so much sad going on, we wanted to showcase 'good'. We wanted to call out some heroes. We want you to share in our joy that amazing people exist and are out there quietly making miracles happen every single day.

This is Frank. If you've interacted with us in any way, you're probably within two degrees of separation from Frank and his wife Sue. They get around. If you've stopped by the front desk, he might have been the kind gentleman who answered your question. If your kids went to our education programs, he and Sue might have been the ones giving them a tour, answering questions with endless patience and kindness.

If you've been to our Petco West San Jose Neighborhood Adoption Center, you might have encountered Frank and Sue there, too. Our pocket pets - the hammies, the weet-weet piggies and snuffling, affectionate rats - have a special place in Frank and Sue's hearts. You can usually find Frank walking around with a fuzzy head poking out of his shirt pocket or Sue with a rat on her lap. These wee little pets can easily be the most overlooked and underrepresented kids we have and Frank and Sue make a special point of introducing people to them. Because that's what heroes do. They look out for the little guys.

Superhero movies are great but we don't need Batman or Superman. We don't because we have Frank and Sue and so very, very many more. How lucky are we? How great and beautiful and wonderful is our community?

We leave you this week with a quote from Mr. Rogers. Thank you, Frank and Sue, for being helpers.