Sunday, September 26, 2010

Speutering in Lamont

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.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Late summer swim

The days left for a dip in the pool are few, as the approaching autumn creeps ever closer. The warm weather of the day whispers for me to take advantage while the getting is still good, so I pull myself from the lull of college football to don my suit for what may be the last weekend of the year.

Darby loves the pool like he loves most other things in his world - wholeheartedly. I lean over him and softly speak the phrase reserved for this particular joyous occasion, "Want to go swimmin' with bowlegged women?" While pop culture is locked on, "We're gonna need a bigger boat," the toast made by Robert Shaw has always stuck with me and now, through repetition, is stuck with Darby as the opening salvo to pool time.

We head out back. Darby hasn't had pool time in a couple of weeks, and it shows. Before I've dipped my own body in further than the third step, Darby tumbles into the water. He never actually means to go in, but his love of snapping at splashes combined with his far-less-than-graceful countenance frequently results in an accidental swim.

Being so close to the steps, he lurches for the coping, pulling himself up and out almost as quickly as he went in. Two good body shakes and he's right back where he started, toes clinging to the edge, tail high in a tense vibration, ears forward, eyes locked on my hands, waiting for the next splash to snap.

Watching this display for maybe the four dozenth time this year (he falls in a lot), I'm reminded of the part of his personality I love the most. He cares not about the slip and fall. Unlike the cats, Darby could care less about appearing a fool. He is enthralled by the moment. If he falls, he falls. He gets back up, shakes himself off, and gets right back in the game. No mere moment of embarrassment is going to keep him from doing what he loves to do. No amount of laughing and pointing will deflate his joy. He is living.

In doing so, he reminds me to do the same.

Saturday Pet Blogger Hop

Yep, it's that time again. Enjoy some awesome, creative pet blogs. Who knows? You may be inspired to start one yourself!

Click and give litter

World's Best Cat Litter (which I'm proud to say I actually use in my own home) is running a campaign where people can click daily for one of three shelters in the Southern California area and they will donate litter:
  • Alley Cat Allies, with Baldwin Park Shelter
  • Kitten Rescue
  • Cat House on the Kings
It's fast, easy and doesn't cost you a thing other than the time it takes to click --- so get clicking and spread the word!

Give Litter (yep, you click here to click)

Cat City Documentary

Given that Kern County's current kill rate is over 90% per month, this may be well worth watching.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The dogs of 9/11

Beautiful tribute...

Saturday Pet Blogger Hop

Yes, it's that time of the week again --- let's get the Hop hoppin!

$100,000 Shelter Challenge

There are so many good things that could happen with $100,000...let's try and win this thing!

Kern County Animal Control (KCAC) is pleased to announce the launch of a new campaign to promote all three shelters among Kern County residents. The “Did You Know?” campaign is being launched in September and will run through October hand-in-hand as part of the national competition that KCAC has been selected to participate in – the ASPCA’s 100,000 Challenge!

As one of just 50 organizations who made it into the Challenge, KCAC will be competing with shelters across the country to save at least 300 more animals—during the months of August, September, and October 2010—over the same three-month period in 2009.

There are two prizes in this contest: $100,000 for the shelter that achieves the greatest increase in lives saved during that three-month period over last year, and $25,000 for the shelter that engages the largest number of community members in saving more lives. KCAC intends to win both, and they will be calling on the community to help.

“KCAC is excited to be part of this national competition and we are thrilled to be able to get the word out to the community about the benefits of adopting from a shelter as well as the importance of responsible pet ownership,” said Matt Constantine, Director of Public Health Services. “Although the campaign officially kicked off last month, KCAC has slowly been promoting its campaign to save lives out of respect to the many residents recovering from the life-changing disasters over the past few weeks. Our staff has been working hard to prepare for the competition and we are ready to win!”

KCAC will be promoting the shelter, services and adoptions with a series of informational postings via Twitter, Facebook and brand new to KCAC, the popular YouTube site where KCAC will have their very own informational channel.

All adoption fees for cats and dogs have been reduced dramatically through the months of September and October to celebrate making “adoption your first option,” which is the official slogan for KCAC during the competition.

Also on the horizon will be the first ever pet adoption festival. KCAC will be hosting this new event, scheduled for October 17th, to encourage the bond between animals and humans, provide information for pet lovers and of course find homes for some of the many wonderful animals in the shelter.

“We have some new ideas that we hope will help us win this challenge, but it will take more than just innovative ideas for KCAC to clinch the top prizes,” added Kalar. “We need the communities support and participation so we are looking for volunteers ready to commit and assist us in several areas. Volunteers that are at least 16 years of age, are highly organized and motivated and enjoy working in a fast-paced environment should contact our office for more information.

“We are very excited about the potential the Challenge has for affecting tremendous change,” said ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “Shelters from every part of the country have stepped up to the Challenge, and when they engage their communities to save more lives – everyone will win, especially the animals.”

For more information about Kern County Animal Control and their role in the competition, please visit or call 661-868-7104. For more information about the ASPCA $100K Challenge, please visit

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fun facts for pet owners

Via: Homeowners Insurance

In This House

I do not know the author of this piece, as I found it on the Internet, but the sentiment is too lovely not to share.

Here in this house...  I will never know the loneliness that I hear in the cries of the other animals 'out there.'  I can sleep soundly, assured that when I wake my world will not have changed.  I will never know hunger, or the fear of not knowing if I will eat. I will not shiver in the cold, or grow weary from the heat, But rather, I will nap in the sun's warmth, and play in the rain's coolness, and be allowed to smell all that can reach my nose.  My fur will shine, and never be dirty or matted.

Here in this house... There will be an effort to communicate with me on my level. I will be talked to and even if I don't understand, I can enjoy the warmth of the words spoken to me in kindness. I will be given a name so that I may know who I am among many. My name will be used in love and joy, and I will relish the sound of it!

Here in this house... I will never be a substitute for anything I am not. I will never be used to improve peoples' image of themselves. I will be loved because I am who I am, not someone's idea of who I should be. I will never suffer for someone's anger, impatience, or stupidity. I will be taught all the things I need to know to be loved by all. I will be praised for my successes, instead of punished too harshly for my mistakes. If I do not learn my lessons well, they will look to my teacher for blame.

Here in this house... I can trust arms that hold, hands that touch... Knowing that, no matter what they do, they do it for the good of me. If I am injured or ill, I will be doctored. If I am scared, I will be calmed. If I am sad, I will be cheered.

Here in this house ... No matter what I look like, I will be considered beautiful and known to be of value. I will never be cast out because I am too old, too ill, too unruly, or not cute enough. I will not be left behind because my humans moved - I will move with them. If a new human baby joins my family, it will not 'replace' me, but instead will be one more human for me to love, and to love me. I will not be treated as disposable. My life is a responsibility, and not an afterthought. I will learn that humans can almost, sometimes, be as kind and as fair asother animals.

Here in this house...  I was brought because I was wanted! I will belong! I will be home- forever!  I will be loved!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

SB250 meets its demise

It looks like SB250, the Responsible Pet Owners Bill, which would have required folks to either spay or neuter their pets or pay fees for intact licenses has been defeated. For sure this time.

I have to admit that my views on the bill, and on MSN in general, have changed over the years. Having spent the past year-plus gathering information from as many sources as I could come by has led me to the conclusion that we cannot mandate our way out of the extreme pet overpopulation issues we have in the Central Valley.

Case in point – the laws enacted in February by Kern County Animal Control, which covered everything from licensing to commercial breeding to animal care standards, chaining/tethering, transporting dogs in the back of a pickup truck, pet sales in public places and the displaying of a license number for puppies or kittens advertised for sale or free.

How many of those laws do we, the public, actually see broken every day? One? Two? Four? Is there any evidence that Animal Control is actually enforcing any of these newly-enacted ordinances they sought? Sure, they had the PEET team going out to county areas to check for licensing requirements, but I know most of my neighbor’s dogs remain license-free (and yes, I live in the County, so they count). And I can’t have a day go by where I don’t see loose dogs in the back of trucks or ads for pets for sale (or free) that don’t include any licensing information in them. Is one more law we don’t have the time, resources or manpower to enforce going to help?

I no longer think so.

Without Kern County getting really, honestly, completely behind the development of a true low-cost spay/neuter facility, we will never get ahead of the pet overpopulation curve. Period.

I read articles all the time about shelters that have gone from high-kill to no-kill, but the reports I read often talk about shelter who were taking in 500 dogs per month. Here in Kern County, we can easily take in that many in a week. Double if KCAC rapidly responded to all the calls they receive about loose dogs on the streets.

In the end, without a low-cost spay/neuter option for pet owners, SB250 was doomed to become one more unenforceable law, which is the last thing Kern County needs.

Looks like we have plenty of those already.

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