Wednesday, May 12, 2010

PEET paid my neighborhood a visit

While I was out running a few errands, the folks from the Kern County PEET (Public Education and Enforcement Team) Program stopped by my house. I know this because a nifty little bag of info was left on my door, waiting for my return.

For those of you not in the know, PEET is the program where a team of animal control officers canvass various county neighborhoods (I believe a city PEET program is supposed to begin as well, though I haven’t heard anything about its implementation) checking to see if dogs are properly licensed, as well as provide information on rabies vaccine clinics and lower-cost spay/neuter options in the area. The object of the game is multi-faceted; the more dogs that are licensed, the more money Animal Control has to provide the services the public is endlessly clamoring for; the more dogs that are licensed, the more money that is available for low-cost spay/neuter programs; the more dogs that are licensed, the greater chance a lost dog can be safely returned to his or her owners.

I know there are people out there who oppose this sort of thing, but I’m not one of them. Having seen the Bill Bruce presentation on how licensing provides the revenue for all of the other incredible programs they run at his Calgary, Canada animal shelter, and how low their euthanasia rate is (in large part due to the licensing initiative), I’m sold. I was a big proponent of licensing before Bruce’s presentation --- after the presentation I moved a notch closer to “zealot” on the critter-crazy meter.

I was sorry that I’d missed them. Had I been home when they arrived, I would have thanked them for coming by and told them how much I support the program and what it is trying to accomplish. I may have even introduced them to Darby, a shelter mutt in his own right, or spoke with them about my own local critter connections. But they did leave a bag of goodies, and being the critter junkie I am, I was eager to see the fruits of the program.

True confession time here. We moved into our current home last September, which was one month before Darby’s license was to expire, which also meant that he was due for his rabies booster shot. Seemed like a great idea to get it all done once we got settled into the house. Vaccinate the dog, renew the license. Easy peasy, right? Only when we moved, we left the city proper and ended up in one of the weird little county pockets that I swear couldn’t exist anywhere other than Kern County. I had no idea if I had to renew the license number on his little collar or if I had to get a whole new one. I, of course, did the most obvious of human things --- I didn’t get either one.

To say that I was disappointed that I wasn’t home when PEET arrived is the truth. I figured I could get an answer to my question about exactly what licensing procedure I needed to follow to get the little dude back into compliance. Yes, I could have called Animal Control, but funny thing --- I don’t think about calling about my dog’s license when I’m at work and his hairy little dog face isn’t staring at me. I think about it at night, when I’m home and they’re closed. Plus, have you tried calling Animal Control? No knock on them, because I realize how dreadfully understaffed they are, but I’ve jumped through fewer hoops calling Dell tech support on a Saturday night. Fortunately, I had the info bag they left behind, so I knew all would be good.

There’s a lot of great info in those little PEET bags. Most prominent was the schedule for their next low-cost rabies vaccination clinic, information on the importance of spaying and neutering your pets, a card with the resources to call to report a lost pet, a card listing the frequently called numbers for Animal Control, a coloring page for the kids, along with kid-friendly set of info on what pets and people both need to be happy and information on why licensing your pet is great idea. A virtual cornucopia of critter-related tidbits packaged in a handy clear plastic hangar.

Except for one thing. One small thing was missing from the bag.

A license application.

Seriously? You all are going to all of this effort to ultimately get people to license their dogs, but you don’t include an actual license application in the bag? It’s the one piece of paper out of everything in there you folks actually want from us, but you don’t include it? For real?

It’s moments like that --- the “I can’t believe you brought me seven pieces of paper I don’t need, but not the one I actually do in order to make both of us happy” moments that make it awfully hard to continue to come to your defense without looking like a maroon.

Put the flippin’ license application in the bag. Bonus points if you include a paragraph about what to do if someone moves from the city to the county and vice versa, because it took two phone calls, two transfers and three on-holds (after navigating the phone “press-8-if-you-are-incredibly-annoyed” command system --- twice) to get my answer.

But I do thank you for stopping by.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To the critter moms

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who are critter moms. You know who you are.

The mom who had no intention of becoming one, but couldn’t walk/drive past that kitten/puppy/cat/dog on the side of the road, and took it into their home and heart.

The mom who yearned for a fur-kid of her own and adopted one who desperately needed a loving home, and spent the time and money necessary to make sure their physical, mental and emotional needs were met.

For the mom who took one the special needs pet and was willing to make the necessary adjustments to give that pet the best life possible.

To all the moms who cancelled plans at the last minute to make the short-notice run to the vet, because their pet needed immediate care.

And let’s hear it for the moms who engage in the doubly-selfless act of fostering the very young and injured until they are ready to find their forever home --- and for letting them go when they do, only to bring in another and repeat the process.

There are those who say fur-moms aren’t the same as real moms, and while that may be true in the strictest sense of the word, it does not nullify the love, commitment and care you have given to the kids who walk on all fours.

Here’s to you, critter-moms, for having hearts big enough to mother those who will never send flowers or bring you breakfast in bed, but loving them all the same.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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