Think Ahead to Care for your Pets

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When I spoke to Carren Bowden, Executive Director of the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center (CTSAC) a few days ago, she told me they had just taken in 17 cats. Their owner had died and none of her family or friends were willing and able to take them in and care for them. Granted, 17 cats is a whole lot of cats, but the shelter sees this same situation regularly. In fact, one of my own cats came to be with me because her owner was a dedicated CTSAC volunteer, and after her death no one in her circle of family and friends wanted her pet cat. So, Missy Cat came to live at my house.
It’s definitely something to think about, and plan ahead for. You may think you have lots of time left and your pets will pass before you do, but unexpected things can happen. As responsible pet owners, we make sure our pets have food, water, veterinary care, shelter, and lots of love, but we also need to think ahead so that those well-cared-for pets will continue to be well-cared-for if they outlive us.
It’s important to make sure people know that you have pets in your home, so that in the case of an accident or sudden illness like a heart attack someone knows to check on your pets and make sure they are being cared for while you can’t. That’s easy…choose a couple of family members, close friends, or neighbors. Ask them to agree to be temporary caregivers in case this type of situation arises.
Particularly if you live alone, it’s a good idea to carry a card in your wallet with details on your pets and phone numbers for the people who have agreed to be temporary caregivers.
Ensuring long-term or permanent care for your pets if you become seriously ill or die is much more complicated. Verbally discussing this with your loved ones is important, but it isn’t necessarily enough. You might discuss this, but years later who knows whether the person your pet is counting on would even remember.
Ideally, when you write your will this is something that should be covered. You might consider a special trust for the person who has agreed to care for or find appropriate new families for your pets after you are gone.
Our shelter is often brought animals that had obviously been someone’s well-loved pets. Either no provisions were made for them, or sometimes the person who had agreed to care for the pets had a change of heart.
In case your beloved pets end up in an animal shelter, you want to be sure to have all the information you have about your pets available to go with them. Have a special (obvious) place to keep veterinary records, behavior notes, notes on special likes and dislikes, and anything else that might help someone want to adopt your now-homeless pets. You might keep these in a visible file on a desk or possibly filed with your will.
Most of the pets of recently deceased owners come to the shelter with absolutely no information. It would be good to know that the dog has been “fixed” and that they will probably stay healthy in the shelter because they have a vaccination history. It would be helpful to know that the dog is housetrained, loves to walk on a leash, and likes (or hates) baths. It is often hard to tell whether a cat is feral (wild) or whether his world was turned upside down and he is just terrified. The more information that comes with a pet to CTSAC or any shelter will mean a better chance of them finding a new home.
Corinne T. Smith Animal Center is open for adoptions and lost pet searches Monday through Thursday from 1pm to 5pm and Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 4pm, and open for animal intake Monday through Thursday from 1pm to 4pm and Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 3pm. For more information, call us at 325-646-0617.

New Animal Intake Policies

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Critter Talk Column
by Freda Day, Corinne T. Smith Animal Center
It’s spring, and canine and feline love is in the air. At Corinne T. Smith Animal Center (CTSAC) we have already started getting litter after litter of kittens and puppies brought to us. Quite often, they are brought in way too early to be placed up for adoption. CTSAC, or any shelter, is not a good place for babies, particularly ones without a mama to care for them.
Good Samaritans commonly pick up litters of kittens, and bring them to us, but it’s the worst possible thing for these babies. The vast majority of times, that litter of kittens you find alone have not been deserted by their mother. It takes a lot of energy to feed yourself and a litter of kittens, so mom is out hunting. She will return to her babies, and if they are gone, she will be left confused and full of milk.
Unless you see mama cat dead in the street, please leave her babies alone. If they must be moved from where she left them, move them to a safe spot close by. The kittens’ best chance is waiting for their mom. Bringing them to the shelter is not the answer.
On a different note, CTSAC is changing our animal intake policies a little bit. We are asking people to call us and make an appointment to bring animals to us. We will be able to fill out paperwork over the phone, and make sure information is complete and legible. It will also be easier for all of us when you get to the shelter. We will be prepared to receive your pets, and you won’t have to wait so long.
I realize that this will be inconvenient for some, but it will also enable us to provide much better care for our dogs and cats. When you decide you need to release a pet to us, you would call us. At that point we would talk to you about possible alternatives to releasing him to us. Sometimes we can help find a way for you to keep your pet. If you still want to bring him to us, we would do the paperwork by phone. We would set up an appointment for you to bring the dog or cat to us. When you come in, all you will need to do is sign the paperwork and hand the pet over to us. Since we knew you were coming, we would be ready to accept the pet, and would be able to start our intake (vaccinations, heartworm test, etc) right then.
Since we won’t have fifteen animals coming in within fifteen minutes, our intake staff will be able to give each animal more time. That’s important, because every animal is afraid when they are brought to us, and if our staff is rushed there is always the possibility of bites, and that’s not good for anyone.
Of course, there are no appointments for adoptions. Come on out anytime we are open and have a look. As always, we are full of sweet dogs and cats available for adoption.
We are open Monday through Thursday from 1pm to 5pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 4pm. For more information, call 325-646-0617.

Dogs Unchained

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It breaks my heart to see chained dogs. I don’t really understand why people have dogs just to keep them chained in a yard. Out of sight, out of mind, and what’s the fun in that? I want my dogs to meet me at the door with their wagging tails when I come home from work. I need TV watching companions. My dogs are perfect, because it just so happens that they like the same shows I do. They guard my keyboard when I am working at the computer, and keep the misbehaving cats away.

I can’t imagine knowing that her life was being chained in the yard. In essence, it’s a sentence of solitary confinement for life. It also creates lots of issues with temperament and behavior. According to animal behavior specialist Shelby Marlo, “dogs who are forced to live their lives at the end of a chain suffer from severe psychological, emotional, and behavioral effects.”

A chained dog is usually a lonely dog. He is without much human interaction. Chained dogs often practice the same aggressive behaviors over and over. They bark, and lunge, and pull unendingly at their chains. Chaining dogs tends to make them more territorial and food aggressive. When people approach a chained dog, they are usually greeted with overexcitement and pent-up energy. When you add this to the social deprivation and practiced aggressive behaviors (while chained), chained dogs have a higher potential for being dangerous.

Chained dogs are totally at the mercy of their owners. We, at the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center, have gotten in a number of dogs in my six years, who have been left on a chain without care. While they are slowly dying of starvation and dehydration, they have no way to escape. They are at the mercy of other animals. Dogs are instinctively “fight or flight” beings. They can’t flea, so they are forced to fight.

In addition to all of the negative effects of chaining dogs, it is no longer legal to leave a dog on a 6′ chain 24 hours a day. People need to understand that chained dogs are dangerous dogs in the training.

If you love your dog, don’t make him live this lonely life. Unchain those dogs, and bring them inside. Let them feel the joy of sleeping by your bed and watching TV at your feet. They really do want to be your best friend.