Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012: YEAR IN REVIEW

Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary & Rescue
Click on the photo to read our year in review.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Poem on Rehoming....

This poem was written and submitted to RVAS by a person who rescues animals and became overwhelmed with the number of "get rid of's" listed on Craig's list. We thought we would share her thoughts with our readers.

I’d live in a tent, I’d live in a car
but never oh never would I go so far
as to leave my poor doggie or my poor poor kitten to
take housing at some place where they aren’t permitted!

Forget it forget you, it will never happen!
When I took him in it was love everlasten’
Away with the idiots that move on without ‘em
Off with their heads this world can do with out them!

Think people think, not just one month or two!
Think a few years ahead where you live what you do!
Maybe baby, maybe job change maybe no job at all!
Think of all of this before you take in one so small!

Dependent they are, depending on you
and they love unconditionally as YOU should TOO
We are the species with God given brains
but instead go to craigslist and flush pets down the drains.

ADOPT, it’s for life, it’s called a commitment
if you do not “get” that then get off the planet.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pet Owners vs. Shelter & Rescues

Everyday thousands of rescues and shelters across this country receive endless pleas for assistance for an animal in need. Most people agree that overpopulation is a problem in our society, but many think that spaying and neutering all animals is the answer. This creates a controversy within the animal welfare industry.

Breeders don't want their species extinct. Rescues and Shelters want overpopulation to stop. Is there a compromise that can be accomplished between the two?

Perhaps bringing some standardization to shelters and rescues and have some stricter regulations on breeding would help. One thing for sure, the state of Iowa admits they can't keep up with all of the individuals in our state breeding animals without licenses. This is where it becomes important that each individual needs to get involved with spreading the word to adopt when possible, or KNOW YOUR BREEDER!

There are some quick and easy ways to check the credibility of both, rescues/shelters AND breeders.

  • The quickest way is to see if they are state licensed. While this doesn't "seal the deal" on responsible, credible individuals or organizations, it does say that they at minimum, paid a fee to operate and are inspected by the state at least once a year.
  • Always ask to visit the facility where the animal is being housed. NEVER meet a breeder or foster in a parking lot or outside of the town where the dog is housed. In some cases, rescues operate on "foster" homes, but reputable rescues will be connected with businesses that allow them to showcase their animals properly. These businesses, like Petco, Petsmart, who have "mobile adoption" opportunities require their partners to be state licensed.
  • Many rescues allow their "fosters" to show the companion and make the final adoption decision. RVAS does not in fact, an RVAS rep is always present unless the foster is a Director or pre-approved, long time well trained foster that has earned their wings to show a companion by themself. The foster has to know the ins and outs of our organization and in most cases, fosters are volunteers who do not want to be that involved with the day-to-day activities of the business.
  • Interview the breeder/rescuer: You are deciding to bring a living creature into your home for life. Don't let the breeder or shelter/rescue give you ultimatums with your adoption/purchase that would hasten your decision (i.e. "well if you don't adopt/buy today it's going to die."). Ask them questions, about the dog's history, both behavior and medically.
    • Shelters/rescues may have limited knowledge of a dog's behavior and/or medical history, but they should be able to tell you it's behavior while in their care. They should also be able to provide you with documentation of all medical care that has been done while in the shelter/rescue care. A high quality rescue and shelter will have the medical history from it's previous owner if it has one. Placing on their contract to "see a vet" and "telling you" they provided vaccinations, doesn't prove they have. Reputable organizations will provide the medical history.
    • Breeders should be able to give you everything, from birth to the adoption of the animal. All medical and developmental history should be made available for you to view before your purchase. You should also be able to see the history of the mother and father of the pups!
  • Registered Papers: Sometimes breeders provide certificates of proof that their dogs are purebreds. Know the difference between AKC papers and APR papers! Do your HOMEWORK on the difference. Just because someone "says it's so" doesn't mean it is. Here is a great link explaining the different registrations.  http://www.ehow.com/about_6123756_apr-vs_-akc-registration.html
The bottom line is that the selection of a companion that is right for you shouldn't be taken lightly or be emotionally charged. This is a 10-20 year commitment. Compare it to buying a car. If we charged $40,000 for a companion, you'd think about it. Remember, it can "move" with you, it will go through natural disasters with you, it will have medical needs, it will require food, water and daily care and attention, including proper exercise. It will have behavior issues, some that you may live with, some that you may want to work on changing. And like humans, it will age, and need special care. The companion is not "merchandise" that, if it doesn't work out for you, something to just "return" or "get rid of".
Almost all shelters and rescues have a contract, and require the animal to be "returned' to their organization before being surrendered or given away, but that doesn't mean it's an "out" for you as a pet owner when change happens or times get tough. If you can't make the commitment...for life then consider volunteering your time for your local shelter or rescue. It's a great way to get an "animal fix" and feel good about saving lives!


Monday, January 23, 2012

2011: Year in Review

The year 2011 is over, but not the memories of some of the wonderful things our volunteers accomplished this past year.

RVAS helped over 3,800 families keep their pets during the year 2011 through our Rehome and Rehabilitation programs. We are living proof that pet owners are capable of handling their pet situations with a little help and ingenuity!

We also helped reunite lost hundreds of pets with their owners by partnering with Iowa Pet Alert, a free web-based data network to assist pet owners reunite with their misplaced companions. While this website has really helped make connections, it doesn't replace pet owner responsibility. Microchipping is still very important should the unthinkable happen and you and your companion become separated. Keep an eye on our website for MC Clinics where you can have your pet chipped and registered for an affordable fee!

And through networking with other shelters and rescues, our social networks, website and events have helped Iowa's rural shelters and rescues adoptions increase as well. When someone contacts us for an animal that we don't have, we help them find an organization who has available what they want. Through networking, animals are finding homes, especially in rural Iowa towns that get little exposure, because RVAS has stepped outside of the box to partner with others.

We know the struggles that rural Iowa shelters and rescues have to save lives. Little support both physically and financially. There are some great people doing great things for animals, and they deserve the support of those animal lovers who want to make a difference. Visit our website for a few of our favorite partners!

And last but not least are those lives we saved. Our focus in 2011 seemed to lean towards the feline population. From trap-neuter-return projects, to rescuing kitties from a garage after their owner had passed away leaving over 20 cats homeless, we spent thousands of hours saving the lives of felines and educational seminars on the cat overpopulation problem.

Our "solution based" philosophy is working. We recognize there is no one organization that solve all the pet issues in our society, but by working together, we are making a difference!

Join us today! Either volunteer your time, your services or your money. Let's do it together, and make the world a better place for all living creatures!

Read our 2011: A Year in Review letter here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Saying Goodbye....

It is always hard to say goodbye to a companion. When pet owners find themselves at that stage in their companion's life, most accept the responsibility to say their goodbyes, humanely and compassionately.

It's equally difficult to say goodbye for those who work in the animal welfare industry. Whether a rescuer or a foster, each animal that comes into their care, often times becomes a companion to those who care for them. And most of these sweet innocent victims just reach deep inside the heart's of those who saved them, and take a giant piece of it.


Fredo was no different. Despite his unstable past, he continued to show unconditional love to the human race.

Fredo, was a handsome gray tabby male who had a life that went unnoticed by most people. Until now.

Over 10 years ago, Fredo was adopted to a family who couldn't live without him, entering his new home as a young kitten, playful and fun. But once he entered adult hood, just a mere 1 1/2 years into his life, he was no longer cherished by his new family and they opted to give him away.

His new family gave him a second chance at life. They too professed their unended love for him. It wasn't until he started to bite a toddler that came into the family before Fredo was no longer "wanted". Instead of the family taking Fredo to the vet to see if there might be a medical reason for his biting they opted to approach his biting as a behavior issue and began punishing him with "time outs". Frequently locked in a room and isolated from family members, Fredo spent a good portion of his adult life, alone. He would get to snuggle at night with his owners and on occasion, was allowed to roam about the house when kids were not around. But that didn't prevent him from continuing to give unconditional love to his human owners.

Then the day came where Fredo bit "for the last time". And the owners wanted him gone...that day!

Despite Fredo being adopted by an organization that clearly spells out their adoption and return policy, Fredo was taken to a different shelter. The reason for return: "biting!", a death sentence by most animal shelters that operate as Animal Control and use euthanasia as a management tool for their intake of animals.

Lucky for FREDO, a microchip saved his life. He was returned to the original rescue and his life spared.

Fredo entered foster care, where, he settled in very quickly and comfortably. He was carefully assessed and it came to pass that Fredo was deemed a "non-biter", at least for any behavior issues. Fredo was a lover! He loved to sleep and snuggle with his new owner, and in the same Fredo fashion as before, he shared of himself so unconditionally that he became a favorite of his new foster family.

Last night Fredo died...suddenly.

Lying on the pillow beside his foster's head, Fredo purred loudly while being petted to sleep, like he had been so many nights before. And the night ended, like it had so many nights before, with Fredo and Foster snuggled together as they sleep.

But shortly into the night, the foster was awakened by Fredo's labored breathing. By 4:00 am Fredo had passed. And his foster, who he had found a special place in their heart, sat in shock...wondering what happened.

A necropsy was performed the next day and the cause of death was Heart Failure caused by Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

A heart condition that is becoming more talked about by veterinarians and pet owners. Often times there is no warning. Pet owners will leave their pets while they head off to work and when they come home their pet is deceased and pet owners left heartbroken.

As in the case with Malcolm. Malcolm entered foster care, where his owner fell madly in love with his vocal  cantankerous, but loving personality. This handsome brown tabby male was left at home, as usual, while his owner went to work. When he came home, he found his beloved Malcolm in distress in his kitty bed with both hind legs paralyzed. In Malcolm's case, he suffered from an Arterial Thromboembolism. After a trip to the emergency clinic, Malcolm's condition was so advanced not even surgery to remove the clot causing the blockage could save his life. After intense consultation with the specialists who were working hard to save Malcolm's life, his owner said his tearful goodbye and sent Malcolm onto a pain-free journey over the Rainbow Bridge.

In two cases beloved felines were lost to a heart condition that often has a grim outcome. And in most cases, it's done without warning.

But when caught in time, some kitties can live a full life. In one article, a vet suggested to pet owners that they ask that their vet take their kitties blood pressure during their annual exam. Often times this simply procedure can detect a heart "issue" whereas, further tests might be suggested and possibly the heart condition can be caught and managed, prolonging their life.

It's important that we, as pet owners become informed and educated and not to solely rely on vets to know our pet's health. Felines especially, are very good at disguising their pain and symptoms of diseases and health issues are often not discovered until it's too late. Veterinarians are trained experts on the science and body of an animal, but pet owners know their pets behavior patterns better than their vet. Often times diagnosis is done by the process of elimination from a vet as the search for the cause or disease that don't always show up in radiographs or bloodwork. By observing, recording and discussing openly with your vet any and all changes in your pet's diet, stool, activity level, weight and personality, you can help the vet diagnose your cat's health issues and possibly save it's life.

As this "condition" becomes more popular, we recommend that when you notice a behavior change in your pet, that you contact your vet immediately and begin the process of discovery. It could save his or her life!

While there is no cure for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, we felt it important to share Fredo and Malcolm's story. We believe that every companion animal's death can teach us something...and save a life down the road! Our mission is to share what we learn, in the hopes, that our losses can become more time with your pet on this earth!

In memory of "Fredo", "Malcolm" and my beloved "Potiphar".
Linda R. Blakely, Director

Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary & Rescue.