I posted on the shelter’s Facebook page a perfect Christmas story, it read: Fred, now a 10-year-old senior kitty, had recently been brought back to us, just three years after being adopted. His broken-hearted mom had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and realized that she was unable to care for him any longer. Before we could even post his sad story on-line, he was adopted again! This wonderful woman, hearing his story, was compassionate enough to share her contact information with his former owner so that they can keep in touch and she can get updates on how Fred is doing in his new home. We believe in angels - do you?
There are so many lessons and discussion topics in that short story, it’s hard to know where to begin! But a key one is about planning for our pets in case we unexpectedly can’t care for them any longer. Do you have a plan in place? And actually, this owner did have a plan but it had been made a couple years earlier and the person who had agreed to take Fred was herself in poor health and couldn’t take him. So that shows the need for a plan A as well as a plan B. But we all know that even in spite of the best laid plans, things happen. And that is exactly what an animal shelter is for. We will always take back our adoption animals if necessary and we take in owner surrenders as we have space available.
For the animal’s sake though, it would be best if she could go to a friend or family member that she was already familiar with. It would make for a much smoother transition and less stress for sure! And it’s helpful that the person would already know some of the animal’s likes and dislikes, habits and routines. I often babysit for two of my friends’ dogs and both fit into our household very well. If there were any need, we would be the natural back-up and would take on these dogs in a heartbeat. Do you have a friend like that? Start cultivating one (or two…) now! Of course, it gets more difficult when you have multiple pets. No one but my sister (forced to by blood!) has said they would take my dog (we usually have two), four cats and a bunny!
This pet owner did a very difficult but wonderful service for her pet. By bringing in the animal herself, as difficult and heartbreaking as it was, it allowed us to get all the information we needed. We could ask questions and get clarification. We could get vet records and food preferences. All good information for a potential adopter to know. She had actually already typed up a little history about his habits, likes and dislikes, which was so sweet to read. That kind of information can really help sell an animal and make sure we are finding him a compatible home (if he hated kids then the family with five young ones, although commended for wanting to adopt a senior cat, would probably not be the best match!) Too often we get the animal turned in after someone has passed away and the person bringing in the pet has no information at all.
Do you have an easy to find file on each of your pets with some basic important information? This is helpful in disasters and emergencies of all kinds so let’s start off the New Year by getting this in order for each of our pets. Include: The name and contact info of their veterinarian. A list of any medications they are on with current doses (and where to find them in the home), and when, what, and how much they are fed. Two pictures – one a full face and one a side full-body shot – make sure any distinguishing marks are showing clearly. The name and contact of their groomer (if you use one), dog trainer (if they’ve ever been through any classes) and friends that are familiar with the animal and may be able to help identify him or give more information if needed. You’d be surprised how helpful these contacts can be if the animal is ever in need of placement! It’s like building up their resume!
Every animal deserves an ending like Fred’s and with some planning and preparation we, as loving guardians, can help assure our pets will get it if needed. Some people think that preparing is bad luck and that by pretending bad things don’t happen we can make it so. I think it’s better to be as prepared as possible and then just believe in angels!!
“Get Them Back Home” Campaign – Every lost pet should have a way to get back home. FREE pet ID tag and a back-up microchip are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wed. 1-6:30; Thurs.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30; Sun. 1-4:30.
Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.