I came across this video on Facebook the other day and immediately went "wow" after viewing it. Here's a shelter that knows how to share their mission and successes with their supporters.
Part Two of their story here:
What a wonderful way to promote what a shelter should truly strive to be: a place where those needing a hand up to a better life receive one.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
I don’t take many real vacations. You know, the kind where I’m out of the office for a full week, ready to rest up, relax and enjoy the joy and wonder of not being on a schedule for a few days. I’m only a few days into my time off and I’m slowly remembering why.
Pets have no concept of vacations. There are days when they are fully staffed and days when the staffing levels fall to tolerable, but not optimal standards. Beyond that, well, there is no “beyond that”, because as most pet owners are well aware, it’s all about them.
Day one of vacation time began the same as practically every other day --- with one cat screaming to get outside so he can use the litter box he created in a patch of yard rather than use the two that are conveniently located in the house. His rumblings then set off Darby, who begins jingling his tags as he shakes his head, hoping for an invitation to bed. As I reach for the phone to see what time it is, the cat sleeping on the pillow above my head starts up, since motion is a sure sign that I’m awake and ready to serve. It’s 4:40 a.m.
I stagger out of bed, giving up my warm, soft spot to the dog while I set about feeding the cats, cranking out some coffee so my eyes will fully open and letting Bad Kitty Bo outside so he can use the restroom and get his morning drink from the pool.
Well, at least the newspaper is here. The world is divided by two types of people; those who read the paper every morning and those who do not. Being the former, I decide to get my morning dose of news in the peace and quiet of my first pre-dawn vacation day. I can easily digest everything that interests me in twenty minutes or so. Well, that was my plan, anyway.
The cats had other things in mind, namely, using me as their personal doorman and treat procurer every four to six minutes for the next hour. In the door, out of the door, in singular or groups. Finally, their bellies, bladders and general curiosity sated, the cats settle down for their post-breakfast snooze.
Naturally, it’s now Darby’s turn to get up and repeat the same pattern, except for the twelve trips in and out the back door. He makes up for his lack of indoor/outdoor indecisiveness by grabbing the nearest toy, pushing it into the paper I’m still trying to finish reading. We play the closest thing to fetch Darby knows for a bit and he settles down in “his” chair. At least he settles down until he sees “Brindle”, the neighborhood stray, making his way through the backyard. The sight of the cat sends him into spasms of barking, whining and turning in circles, imploring me to open the back door so he can give chase.
And so it goes. Turns out they actually do nap --- while I’m out running last-minute errands, leaving them refreshed and ready for more inside/outside, head rubs, belly rubs, butt rubs, treats, eats and play the moment I get home.
Finally, the sun sets and everyone is in for the night, dozing in their respective spaces as my husband and I settle in for a bit of television before turning in for the night. I’ve already warned him that tomorrow it’s his turn to be lead servant to the four-footed emperors we’ve cultivated over the years.
Six more days of this and I’ll be begging to go back to work.
Here’s hoping you got a little rest and relaxation over the holidays, but if you’re reading this it’s highly probable that you are a pet owner, in which case I’m guessing you didn’t. Good thing they’re so adorable, isn’t it?
The living room floor is littered with squeaky balls, catnip cigars, Tuffie toys and little Kahnua toy that has proven to be every bit as durable as its claim. This is what the post-holiday house looks like when the kids are grown and gone, long past the years when Lego bits and comic books were left scattered about while video games lure them to other worlds ripe for conquering. The holiday itself hurtled towards me, only to pass in the blink of eye on its way to becoming one more memory of days gone by.
I’m not someone who frequently laments about how quickly a year has passed, primarily because during most years they seem to grind by slowly that I’m welcoming the chance to put it behind me and move on to the promise of a new calendar. This year, though, I have to concede that it did fly past me. Days, then weeks seemed to slide through my hand like droplets of water, running from my palm no matter how tightly I tried to cup my fingers. I felt perpetually behind. Not so far behind that there was no catching up --- there’s a lovely sort of beauty to be found in the occasional throwing up of the hands and declaring it all beyond your control --- but just far enough behind that it still feels doable, if I can just…
But sitting on the edge of the last week of 2010, the sand has about emptied in the hourglass and I just couldn’t quite get there. Rather than lament about all that’s been left undone, my husband and I began planning for 2011 with a week to spare, as if getting the early jump on the list will give us the time we need to make it all come true. For a change.
We’re again bantering around the idea of another pet, preferably a kitten. With the three who currently employ us all enjoying double-digit ages, we feel a need to insure ourselves that there will continue to be a purrbag should something insidious happen. It’s a straight-up bonus that Darby loves kittens, so another set of velvety paws would seem, to him, a gift.
I’m also seriously contemplating attending BlogPaws, something I had all but out-of-hand dismissed just a few weeks ago when I saw the announcement on Facebook. I’ve always wanted to be someplace where I’m knee-deep in other people who share my passion for critters and writing about them, but this year’s event was simply out of reach, from both a practical and financial perspective.
Now 2011 is peeking at me from just around the corner up the way, whispering hints of what might be possible. BlogPaws may be in my future after all.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Chances are pretty good that if you are reading this column your pets are some of the most fortunate companion animals in Kern County. Not because my writing is that terrific, mind you, but because you care enough about pets to give up several minutes of your day to read up on what’s happening in the world of the four-legged critters in your area. In my experience, that translates as people who try their best to do right by the animals they bring into their lives.
As the holidays creep ever closer more than a few of you will have a little something under the tree for your pet, if the 2009 AP-Petside poll is any indication. When asked, 52 percent of respondents said they planned to purchase gifts for their pets for the holidays, despite the difficult economy.
I’m all for spoiling the fur-footed house inhabitants, but if you have a few extra dollars to spare perhaps during the season of giving we can all do a little something to benefit the pets who are not so lucky as ours.
Kern County Animal Control can really use blanket donations to provide a little warmth and comfort for the dogs out in their kennels during these wet, cold months. They ask that the donations be blankets, not comforters, because comforters can be shredded and the padding inside creates both a huge mess and a potential hazard if swallowed. You can drop blankets off at the shelter at 201 S. Mount Vernon Ave.
Bakersfield Pet Food Pantry can always use cat and dog food donations. Their goal is to help disabled and/or homebound seniors and low-income folks keep their pets by helping provide food to get them through the rough patches. Cat food always seems to run in short supply. You may go to their website to find out where to drop off your donation.
Helping Animals Live Tomorrow (H.A.L.T.) Rescue is selling one-pound boxes of See’s Candy during the holiday season to help raise funds. If you are planning to gift some folks on your holiday list with chocolately goodness, why not get in touch with H.A.L.T. and make your purchase doubly-sweet? Give them a call at (661) 395-3018 for more information about ordering.
Bakersfield Cat Control can use a little holiday love to assist in their mission to Trap-Neuter-Release feral cats and adopt out kitten rescues. They can always use cat litter and cat and kitten food. They are also looking for folks willing to sponsor the cost of humane cat traps, donate towards the cost of transporting cats to be sterilized and donations to help offset the costs of veterinary care for the kittens they rescue. For more information go to their website.
Finally, if your mailbox is anything like mine, you are probably being beset with requests for year-end donations, with many of those requests coming from pet and animal organizations. Please remember to think locally when giving money to help companion animals and donate directly to our local animal shelters, rescues and welfare organizations. Many people don’t realize that when they donate to the big national groups --- the ones who send out calendars, address labels and note pads --- that none of that money comes back to the local community. Help the pets in this area by donating directly to the groups who work to make a difference in the lives of homeless pets right here in Kern County.
Happy holidays to you and your fur-covered friends.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
I was hanging out in the backyard watching Darby do his favorite Darby backyard thing --- run from one end of the yard to the other, stopping briefly to let out a few of his singularly Darby-like combo bark/howl sounds, tail raised so high on his back that it seems nearly impossible to believe that it is still connected to the rest of his spinal cord. He loves his territorial outbursts far more than our neighbors do, but in the middle of the afternoon there’s little effort made by us to stop him from indulging. Honestly, if a dog can’t rip a few out in the middle of Saturday afternoon, when can he?
I hear the thump of the fence and look to see Bad Kitty Bo coming over the top. At nearly fourteen, I’d much prefer that he stay in his own yard, but the house behind us is the only place he really goes, generally two or three times a day. It was vacant for nearly the first year that we lived here so it became the de facto hangout for the area cats, pet and stray alike. The family who recently moved in have small children but no apparent pets of their own, and don’t seem to mind much that their yard is part of the feline superhighway, connecting one dead-end street to another. The cats who use their yard as a combination pass-through/lounge don’t much cotton to the humans living there, so when someone threatens to walk outside they scatter pretty quickly to less inhabited digs.
Bo usually walks the length of the fence line until he’s over our compost bin, where he will drop down with a thud before the final hop back to the ground, but not this time. For this reentry he comes over the fence, scrambles his way to the second half-fence wall about foot further in from the property’s edge and drops down to the ground. It’s an indelicate reentry, not typical of his usual graceful style.
A few seconds later Brindle appears on the fence ledge. We don’t know his actual name, but my husband starting calling him “Brindle” due to his striking classic tabby pattern and it’s stuck with us to the point that Darby will react if you use while outdoors. He’s the closest thing I’ve seen to a true feral in the area since we moved here a little over a year ago. He is uninterested in our attention or affection, but is secure enough that he will skirt along the edge of the backyard while we are outside, making his way from one street to another. He seems to enjoy Bo’s company and will rest in our yard near Bo if Darby is safely indoors. Like Bo, he seems stressed, as though they were the recipients of an unwelcome surprise. Brindle quickly makes his way down the fence ledge and disappears into the yard of another neighbor.
I head in with Darby, ready to get back to a pet-related blog-a-thon that is taking place over the weekend. I’m not a participant, but I’m not sure the average houseguest would have known that, given my attention to it. After giving the doodlebug his treat for coming inside, I cross the living room to get back to my laptop. I glance out the back door at Bo, who is now sitting on the patio.
The first thing I notice are the weeds wrapped in his fur. After six-plus years of him hunting along the bank of the American River in Sacramento I thought I had seen every possible type of weed that can get stuck in the longish fur of a Maine Coon, but I was mistaken. The house behind us offers a new variety for my fur-picking pleasure. Turns out it is a variant of the foxtail family (naturally), only instead of having barbed seed pods these pesty plants have heads on them that can wind their way into fur like thread on a bobbin. Fortunately, Bad Kitty Bo knows when we are trying to help ease his discomfort and generally keeps his meathooks to himself while we are relieving him of his unwanted riders. I sigh, knowing this will further keep me from blog-a-thon lurking, and head out back to start picking him clean.
That’s when I see it.
A bright red splotch of fresh blood about the size of a quarter mars the soft white beauty of his chest.
Damn. Damn, damn, damn. Damn the world that he is wounded and damn that the hurt happened on a Saturday afternoon, the time when veterinary bills magically triple.
Of all the things Bad Kitty Bo does well, one the things he is the very best at is being hurt. Bo becomes the nicest, most compliant cat in the world when he doesn’t feel well. I pick him up gingerly, trying to avoid the wound area, and carry him into the house, calling for my husband to help me out as I get him to his table in the kitchen. Yeah, you read that part right. He has his own table in the kitchen. Technically it’s for all the cats, but being Bad Kitty Bo means it’s mostly his.
John grabs some paper towels, gets them wet and brings them to me, then holds and soothes Bo as I begin picking the weeds out of his fur, trying to get him as clean as possible before we begin the part that will hurt. I get the weeds as fast as possible and grab the first towel, still wondering who hurt him. There weren’t any sounds to indicate a cat fight, nor did I see him get hung up on anything coming over the fence but there’s no doubt that something bad went down.
But not to him.
It wasn’t until I was on paper towel number two before my brain caught up with my eyes. Yes, there was blood, and no small amount of it, but it didn’t belong to Bo. The bright sticky mass coated the first quarter inch of the fur on his chest, but his skin remained white as snow.
We checked, then rechecked him. We checked his chest, his neck, his jaw, his mouth. Nothing. Not even a scratch.
Bo, weed-free and tired of the inordinate amount of now unnecessary attention he was receiving, struggled to get free. His needs having been met, he loped off to a quiet sunny spot to relax.
We spent the next half hour watching him as he cleaned up behind our cleaning job, looking for signs that might indicate what might have taken place during his sojourn to account for his “injury”. No matter what theories we come up with, the only one who knows for sure is Bo.
And he ain’t talkin’.
Monday, November 15, 2010
After seeing Blog-a-thon 2010, I wish that I had seen the 2009 event because I think I would have begged to be part of this incredibly cool weekend. Instead, I had to be content with sending comments to three of the participants (Pawcurious, BZTAT and About Vet Med) while hoping they didn’t write me off as some crazed weirdo. I was that enchanted.
I also managed to learn a lot in the process.
- There are a number of really thoughtful, caring people in the world who will put aside a weekend (not to mention a whole night’s sleep) to help someone else in need. Although this isn’t exactly a revelation, it helps in these cynical days to be reminded of that as often as possible.
- Doing anything for 24-hours is harder than it sounds. If you’re going to try it, you should have a pretty good plan in place for your success. Fortunately, all of the participants I saw seemed more than prepared for their commitment.
- There are plenty of angles to explore in the world of pet-human relationships and an event such as this provides an opportunity to showcase so many of them that even the casual pet lover could find something to touch their heart.
- There’s a lot more to a blog-a-thon than simply blogging (not that blogging in and of itself is a simple process). These folks were blogging (or painting) while also posting on Facebook and Twitter, responding to comments, encouraging each other and, in one case, cooking and putting together a video of the cooking segment while keeping the hourly posts flowing and notifying prize winners. And they pulled it off with aplomb.
Watching these folks (I’d love to say “women”, but sure as I do, someone will pop up and declare their dudeness and I’ll feel bad, so better safe than sorry) at work, I felt like I found “my people”. The ones who talk about pets because they feel a profound connection between themselves and their four-legged companions and aren’t afraid to share tales of that connection with others. The ones who will not only listen to your poop stories, but will have one of their own to add to the mix. The ones who are as disgusted with slobber and hairballs as I am, but deal with it daily (like I do) because it comes with the territory.
If you’d like to take a peek at what you missed, head over to these websites. There’s enough to read to keep you busy for days.
Fingers crossed, maybe nexy year I'll be on the inside, looking out.
P.S. Special thanks to BZTAT for the Darby painting seen above :)
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Check out this blog I just came across, Operation Fuzzy Mice. Their goal is to keep Bakersfield cats with their families by providing support and referrals. They also work to TNR cats in Oildale.
Pretty good stuff.
Pretty good stuff.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Pawcurious is holding a 24-Hour blogathon to raise funds for a service dog for a young boy with epilepsy. Simultaneously, BZTAT Studios is holding a 24-Hour Paintathon today with proceeds from the items created going to a pet therapy program and A New Leash on Life charity.
Do yourself a favor and check out both of these websites. They are engaging, beautiful and their hosts are donating this weekend to help make someone's world a little better.
If you'd like to donate to help Bradyn Ferguson get a service dog, just click below and follow the easy steps!
Do yourself a favor and check out both of these websites. They are engaging, beautiful and their hosts are donating this weekend to help make someone's world a little better.
If you'd like to donate to help Bradyn Ferguson get a service dog, just click below and follow the easy steps!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Last Sunday I spent a bit of my down time wandering along on Facebook. I spend a fair amount of time doing so on the weekend because it is one of the few times I have to play on the site with impunity.
A friend of mine put up what I thought was a pretty innocuous post about his desire to increase penalties for animal abusers should he ever be in a position to do so. Seems innocent enough, right? However, as can happen when folks bring up the subject of animal welfare, one of the first responses posted was from someone questioning why, with all of myriad of human suffering issues going on, would someone choose to focus on animal issues?
Not knowing the commenter, I tried to take a diplomatic tone as I responded, noting that there are a lot of issues to be worked on and that people should find the ones that speak to them and work on those. I actually believe that. You don’t have to dig “my thing”--- you can find your own thing to get excited over. Just do me the courtesy of not disrespecting my choice of issues and I’ll do the same in return.
No such luck.
A bit later, a comment from the same person was addressed to me. It began with the usual, “some people think animals are more important than people…”, followed by a proposition I’ve (unfortunately) heard before: If there’s an injured and dying person and an injured and dying animal, who do you save first?
Oh, snap! Look at that big ol’ trump card played in my direction. There it is, neatly wrapped in one sentence, right? Only a complete societal loser wouldn’t agree about the answer to the critter equivalent of the “would you torture someone to prevent a nuclear weapon from going off in your home town” question. Game. Set. Match.
Except it isn’t.
I didn’t go back to the thread to reply for a couple of reasons. First, the overall tone in his response to my comment flat-out annoyed the hell out of me, and one of my very favorite things about Facebook that I can play there without arguing with people. If I’m looking for a fight I can go to news articles, internet sites, blog sites, talk radio or my family. On Facebook I want to share ideas and articles that I find interesting, important or enlightening with folks who might be interested. If folks aren’t interested they can bounce right past them and wait for the next post, but I have no intention of spending my time there defending who I am or what I believe.
Second, it was my friend’s post and I don’t feel right about sitting on their post to argue with another of their friends. I consider it poor manners (for lack of a better expression), akin to going to someone’s house for dinner and then starting a dust-up with another invited guest. But I still want to address the question, because it’s a question that deserves a response.
My answer is: It depends.
If the imaginary-improbable-scenario is that both a child and dog are drowning in the middle of a lake, clearly just about everyone is going to reach for the child first, me included.
But let’s say that the injured/dying person is some lowlife who just broke into my home to do dog-knows-what, and the injured/dying animal is my dog, hurt while trying to protect his family. Or maybe the injured/dying person just beat down an elderly person for their money and the dog in question is a police dog, injured while bringing the guy down. Who do you help first?
Under those circumstances, I know which victim is getting my time and attention and I can guarantee you that I won’t lose an ounce of sleep over my choice.
That’s the problem with ridiculous propositions like the one that was posed. It takes an issue and tries to frame it as a throw down where, at first glance, it would seem that there really is only one correct choice. But real life has many, many more variables than that and I believe the exploration of those variables help me refine the values that guide my life, including the part of my life that I give over to animal causes and concerns.
Feel free to use my reasoning to determine the quality of my character and compassion for my fellow humans, and I’ll try to reserve judgment on your compassion for your fellow earthlings.
At least until I come up with a great ‘gotcha’ question…
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
If you haven't seen this, you owe it to yourself to watch. Six amazing minutes about a man and his dog. This won Best Video in Vimeo's first annual video contest in the Documentary category.
*note - contains scenes of a dog being euthanized.
*note - contains scenes of a dog being euthanized.
Cooking is one of the few skills I can actually claim to possess. Though I’m by no means ready to compete against people who can slice a carrot into matchsticks in under fifteen seconds, I can turn out some dishes that receive wonderful compliments and recipe requests. And alongside my interest in making people food is my interest in making pet treats.
Dog treats can be remarkably easy to make, cost far less than purchasing commercial treats, are a great way to introduce young cooks to the kitchen and can be customized to fit any dietary restrictions your pooch may face. Not only can you make them for your dogs, you can also make batches for your dog park friends, for the pups at the local shelter or rescue or to sell as a fundraiser for a pet-related nonprofit organization. After all, who doesn’t like playing in dough?
If you’re a novice at baking (on purpose) for your four-legged friend, here are some sites ready to help you get a few tails wagging.
I just have a couple of tips before you venture forth.
If you want hard, biscuit-like treats make sure you leave the treats in a safe place where they can air out for several hours to get rid of any excess moisture. Otherwise, they will definitely go bad more quickly.
Don’t get pulled into the idea that you need special cutters, molds or anything of the sort to get great treats. People care about the cutie-pie shapes, not the dogs. Any size that will properly fit their mouth and suit your purpose will be just fine. To make fast work of cutting rolled out dough, consider using a pizza cutter. You can go as wide or narrow as you need.
In a world where I receive few goodies that are cat-related to review, I was thrilled when I got this coolio cat scratcher from Imperial Cat to check out.
I’ve been a giant fan of cardboard cat scratchers for years now, so seeing Imperial Cat come up with one that is large enough for my Bad Kitty Bo to anchor with his ample rump while scratching the other end is a huge improvement on the previous versions I’ve brought into the house. Our “usual” scratcher tends to get pulled off of the floor with one paw while Bo’s trying in vain to push it away with his other feet while getting his scratch on. The larger size of these scratchers solves that problem completely.
I also very much appreciate that Imperial Cat packages organic catnip along with the scratcher. The ‘nip smelled fresh and had a great texture to it, unlike some of the “catnip included” items I’ve purchased in the past where you get a teeny bag of what resembles the leftover ground-up catnip that got swept up at the end of the day. The bag that came along with this product provides enough catnip that there is plenty left over to refresh the aroma as the weeks go by.
Although I think that the resident fur sacks would have discovered this piece on their own, allowing them the instant reward of a little nip action gave them added incentive to thoroughly check out the new toy. Weebs, naturally, spent a great deal of her time rubbing against the edges in a vain attempt to claim the piece as hers before Bad Kitty Bo came along to rest his lovely body upon his newest prize.
These scratchers come in a whole host of shapes and sizes, with some of them including tunnels and hidey-holes to increase their value, particularly in multi-cat household. Take a peek at this giant piece of scratchy-goodness that I’d love to get my hands on someday!
I found the price range for these scratchers to be pretty reasonable for the quality, with several ranging from $17 - $30 range. All of these products are made from 100% recycled materials and can be recycled themselves when they need to be replaced, which makes my tree-hugging heart happy.
I’m happy to recommend Imperial Cat Scratch ‘n Shapes to my feline-owning friends.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Fix Your Pit Program, where they set aside a portion of the fees from each new space rental to subsidize the cost of having pit bulls altered through AngelDogs Foundation. The surgery, normally costing $110 (and includes a microchip and a rabies vaccination), is reduced to $40 for the owners of pittie and pit mixes, while Fortress Self Storage pays the difference. Everybody wins.
Which leaves the owners of Fortress Self Storage to ask why more businesses can’t step up and help address the obvious pet overpopulation problem we have in Kern County by doing something similar? Is it for lack of ideas? If so, here are a few to chew on.
How about donating a percentage of a day’s proceeds to a local shelter or rescue group? If you pick a day in advance and do a little promotion, I can all but promise you that the pet loving folks in the area will come out and support you.
Perhaps a business can put out a “snip jar” for a month or so, asking patrons to kick in some spare change that can be donated to local groups for spay/neuter. While I can’t speak for everyone, I know that I am far more inclined to spend money at shops that are supporting causes that are dear to me.
Maybe you own (or work in) an office setting where there’s not a lot of interaction with the general public. How about creating an office giving program, where employees can collectively pool together funds to create one larger donation from the company as a whole?
Promotions like these can help businesses establish a relationship with their community that goes beyond mere advertising, and if you don’t think appealing to people who dig pets is important, or that they don’t represent a sizable enough segment of “your” market, perhaps it’s time to rethink that. Sixty two percent of American households have pets living in them, compared to 46 percent of homes having children under the age of 18. Appealing to pet owners’ better nature might just bring you the customers you’re looking for as we head into the holiday season. If that happens, everybody wins.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Teh Itteh Bitteh Book of Kittehs I was all over it.
In this latest version of LOLs from the I Can Haz Cheezburger crowd, the focus is all on the kittens. Every photo features some of the cutest, fluffiest bits of kittehs around, complete with captions.
If someone you know is a cat lover, they will definitely appreciate this book. Remember it come holiday season when you are looking for that “little something” to show someone you were thinking of them. Trust me when I say I know of what I speak --- I’m that person. I would probably not purchase this book for myself, but if someone were to give it to me, I’d be a happy girl --- and that’s before I ever opened the pages.
Much like the always-popular Smiling Dogs feature produced by The Bark, I defy anyone to look through ten pages of this book without cracking a grin. It simply cannot be done.
And why would you want to? These are the cutest of cuties, complete with the phrases LOL folks have come to expect. I need this book mounted next to my desk at work, sort of like those emergency fire extinguisher box-thingys, to grab for when I’m getting the urge to cross that imaginary line between “passionate” and evening-news-worthy.
Flipping these pages may not change your world, but it will definitely help change the way you see it for a few minutes. Sometimes a few minutes is all it takes.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
I'm a little emotional today, pet-wise, so I'm not sure if I'll have something newer than my previous post up just yet, but feel free to peruse the site and tell me what you think. Check out some of these other folks, too, as they have some wonderful blogs out there.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
There seem to be a couple of schools of thought when it comes to the effectiveness of spaying and neutering in reducing the pet population of Kern County. On one side of the equation is the idea that the overall cost of the service needs to be lowered to a point where the average pet-loving working person can afford it, while the flip-side is the argument that people are just too lazy to do the responsible thing and do what it takes to get their pet altered.
Which is why Lamont was darn-near the perfect place for Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation (of which I’m a board member), with assistance from AngelDogs Foundation, to hold our first low-cost spay/neuter event on September 25.
With an unemployment rate of over 20 percent and neighbor Arvin’s at nearly 38 percent, Lamont is the quintessential poor Kern County town. The average salary in Lamont is around $16,000, with the majority of those jobs in the agriculture sector, and nearly half of the households have incomes below $25,000.
We pulled into town before dawn, expecting our mobile clinic to be there waiting for us. As it turned out, the folks from AngelDogs got lost in the pre-dawn light and were delayed in reaching our location by nearly an hour.
Our clients for the morning round of surgeries had no such issue. The first car arrived at 6:45 a.m., with others coming close behind until the parking lot was nearly full with people and their pets when the mobile clinic arrived just before 7 a.m.
It took some time to gather, hand out, explain, complete, check and accept that paperwork that needed to be assembled before the dogs and cats could be loaded into the clinic for the surgery that would end their ability to further reproduce. I suspect that I wasn’t the only person in our group to wonder if we were going to lose some of our appointments over the delay in getting their pets settled in, or if the people we came to help would become angry or impatient with us.
It didn’t happen. Some folks waited in their cars, easing the seat back to relax with their pups sharing the front seat, while those who walked to our location found spaces along the curb to sit, dog leash in hand. We were told stories of dogs who had given birth three, four or five times, dogs who were dumped on front porches or found on the street and given a place within a family. And slowly, we got everyone processed and their pets secured within the clinic with nary a cross or impatient word from anyone in attendance.
Still more people came. Some were told by friends, some saw the activity at the school and wondered what was happening, and some saw the clinic in the parking lot and swung in, hoping we’d have room for one more. We gathered names and phone numbers, knowing another organization was holding a similar clinic the following weekend. We passed out information about lower cost options that were available from other organizations and we expressed our regret that we couldn’t take more.
At the end of the day, more than four dozen dogs and cats were spayed and neutered. While we at Friends are undoubtedly proud of our accomplishment, we could hold that clinic every week for the next six months and still not fit everyone in who desires the service. Even if we ask them to be there at dawn, fill out pages of paperwork and wait for us to get everyone checked in, people will be there, pets in hand, asking us to help them stop the cycle of litter upon litter.
On Saturday it wasn’t about “lazy”, or culture, or lack of understanding about the importance of the procedure. It was about the only two things we were able to provide that mattered: availability and cost. When we’re able to find the sweet spot between those two terms, great things happen.
Friends can’t wait to make it happen again.