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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Above and Beyond, Our Unsung Animal Heroes

(I try not to use names or specific personal details in my “tails”, however when given permission and in extraordinary circumstances, some people deserve recognition.)

The behind the scenes shelter staff, kennel attendants, veterinary technicians and veterinarians, are often the unsung heroes. Because they are not as publicly known or recognized at the more visible staff such as ACOs, adoption staff, or volunteers, their stories often go untold. However, every day they make an incredible difference in the lives of not just the shelter animals, but the animals and people in our community.

I received a call from Sacramento Metro Fire for assistance with a rescue they were on scene at. The Fire Captain relayed to me that they had a small dog with his foot stuck in the drain of a bathtub. They had been trying and trying to get this little guy out and the dog was becoming increasingly agitated and was in pain. The Captain said they had tried about 30 veterinary hospitals from the one side of the valley to the other, including mobile equine vets and UC Davis. No one was able to come to the scene to sedate the dog so that it wouldn’t be so stressed out while they tried to get him out. The owner was willing to have the tub removed even, but that still didn’t solve the problem of getting a very stressed out ,upset and hurting little dog out of the drain.

I told the Captain I would see what I could do. This was an unusual request. They were going to have the owner keep the dog comfortable and clear the scene until we responded out. I made a call to the med unit at the shelter. I figured I would at least ask the vet on duty if I could come pick up a sedative to take to the scene and get the dog immobilized to see if that would help relax him enough to get his foot out.  I spoke with Dr. Jean Rabinowitz, our new addition to our wonderful vet staff. I explained to her what was going on and my request. After a brief conversation, Dr. Rabinowitz volunteered to meet me at the scene to ensure the safe administration of the sedative while the dog was being rescued. And that would also save time by her meeting me there.

When I arrived Dr. Rabinowitz was already there. She had arrived only a few minutes ahead of me, and had already administered the sedative. She had climbed in the tub and was working to try to free the dog’s toes that were stuck between the cross bars of the drain catch. This little guy’s toes were in tight. Even under sedation, there was no easy way to get those toes unstuck.

We ended up calling Sacramento Metro Fire crew back to the dog owner’s house. Time was becoming critical because the dog would soon be waking up from the sedation and we would then be back to square one.
The fire crew from Sacramento Metro Fire Station 111 arrived and immediately began to work on the drain. At one point we had a little dog stuck in a drain, along with one vet, four firefighters and one ACO, me, in this tiny bathroom. 

The dog’s owner was standing by anxiously. She kept saying anything that had to be done to the tub to free her baby could be done. Firefighters tried removing the drain, but the drain head was screwed into the drainpipe. And there was no way to get it un-screwed with the little dog attached to it. In these several minutes the dog was starting to wake up. Dr. Rabinowitz continued to monitor the dog and continued to try to free the toes. There was also no option to remove the toes. The drain cross bars had to be removed to free the dog. This proved to be more difficult and very precarious to do with little toes in the way.

The little dog was starting to wake up more and more as each moment went by. The firefighters continued to try to figure out how to get the drain removed and contemplated calling in the Engine Truck, with all the “cool” tools. But there really wasn’t time. The dog was waking up, in pain and surrounded by strangers.

The firefighters gave it one more shot using a breaker bar and a sledge to carefully break each of the cross bars. Those cross bars proved to be pretty resilient and made the task all that much more difficult.  Finally they were able to break three of the crossbars allowing just enough room wiggle room to get those toes out.

The little dog was pulled to safety and checked over by Dr. Rabinowitz. After all that, all he had were a couple swollen toes and a small cut. He was turned over to his anxious owner.

Dr. Jean Rabinowitz and the firefighters from SacMetro Fire Station 111 in Rio Linda are heroes. They all went above and beyond to save a little dog named Bailey, and his toes!

Dr. Rabinowitz also gets extra hurrahs in my book for surviving the shampoo bottle that fell on her head, the shower curtain and rod that came crashing down and when the waking up little dog latched onto her wrist during this rescue. Nothing stood in her way to make sure Bailey was rescued in one piece.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

One Year Later - Remembering Roy

It's hard to believe that it's been one year to the day since the murder of my fellow ACO and friend, Roy Marcum (463). On November 28, 2012, Animal Control Officer Roy Marcum was shot and killed in the line of duty.
Roy is with us in the reports he has written, in the paper work on file. Images, smells and noises trigger memories. He's in the stories we tell. Or retelling one of his. There are moments of sadness, when you know the person who you knew had the answer to your question is not longer there. We remember when we slip on the extra 8-10 lbs of our new protection vests at the beginning of our shift. He's with us when we strap on the new "non-lethal" pepper ball launchers. Officer Safety now takes a higher priority than before. We remember him when we pull up in front of a house, especially when the call out is for a foreclosed home. There is still anxiety as we approach a front door. We see certain dogs that will remind us of the tender way Roy had with a certain dog. I remember seeing Roy often at the end of his shift in a kennel offering treats, sweet talk and often scratching the ears of some scared and shy dog. Giving comfort. Making friends. Just being Kind.
Yes. Roy is still with us. His legacy is to increase Officer Safety for ACO and Humane Officers, not just here in our own department, or State, but Nationwide and world wide. Roy's legacy has united many more ACOs/HOs with each other in comradery and friendship than ever before. Opened up the exchange of ideas, imformation, concerns and support. There are so many good things that have come from and continue to come from Roy. But it's bittersweet. I would just rather have my friend back.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tribute: Officer Roy Marcum #463 EOW 11/28/12

Tribute to the Man I Knew

Officer Roy Curtis Marcum #463

EOW 11/28/12

How do you say goodbye to someone your not ready to say goodbye to? Who is gone before your even given a chance to say goodbye?

From the first time I met Roy some 7 years ago, he could always put a smile on any ones face. I had just started with Animal Control. My first impression of Roy was, what a easy going laid back guy! Smiling, laughing and teasing other co-workers. He just radiated calmness and warmth. And his favorite word was F***.

In my first few weeks of Training, I had the pleasure of being supervised by Roy. His preferred beat was "deep South". He drove most of the time, but had me drive some during the second half of the shift. When talking, Roy had a way of making everyone feel at ease. He didn't over react, didn't raise his voice. He had a way of getting through to people without outright threats, being a bully, or overstepping his authority. He could have someone start out very agitated and by the end of the conversation they were smiling and shaking his hand even if he was giving them a citation. That was Roy.

One of my favorite calls with Roy was during this training time. We had been chasing this dog all over town. Dog had no street smarts and would have been hit if left to wander. driving and all our efforts to catch this dog were of no use, except the last resort, tranq gun. While I drove, Roy loaded the tranq gun. Then he had me get right up alongside the running dog. Roy leaned over me from the passenger seat with the tranq gun out the window. He directed me to drive faster or slower as he took his shot. Got it! And GO GO GO! As the dog accelerated and turned a corner. We sped after the dog and through the streets until it jumped a short little white fence into what turned out to be it's yard. Roy jumped out and went after the dog. Just as the dog was collapsing under the influence of the tranq, amazingly, the owner finally came out as we were putting the dog on our truck. The guy was yelling and fuming and Roy stopped him in his tracks with that trademark smile of his and his way with words. We drove away with the guy's dog and the guy understanding that he could get his dog back as soon as the tranq wore off.

That was Roy's way. Leave them with a smile or at least calm and understanding. The few times I saw Roy in a bad mood was always related to a case of animal cruelty he was working. And he was tenacious about getting results. Roy had the biggest heart for animals. And animals responded to him. It make me laugh when he used his high pitched baby voice to talk to animals to calm them. It worked and they responded. Even the ones that were so fearful they were defensive, Roy could calm them. I never saw him be heavy handed with an animal. He did everything with a calm demeanor and animals felt this. It was amazing to work with Roy.

Roy was a friend, a brother in uniform and a mentor. Roy and I were a lot alike so it was easy to learn from him. It was easy to talk to him. We had a lot in common. We were about the same age, we had each a son and a daughter about the same age, teenagers! We had both been in the Air Force about the same time, and both had second marriages to our soul mates. We talked at length about all these things.

We shared tales of our military experiences, funny things that happened and reminding each other at times, how our current careers are not much different that what we learned in the service.

We shared our kids antics. Roy and I both have oldest sons and younger daughters. We agreed that girls are much harder to raise then the boys. We shared parenting advise with each other. We shared funny stories about our kids. And reveled in their accomplishments. Roy loved his kids to the ends of the earth. He loved to talk about them and share what we was doing with them. He frequently brought his daughter along on ride alongs with him when allowed to. He enjoyed spending the time with her. We talked about the progress he and his son were at with building his son a truck. No matter what he was so proud of his kids.

Roy's wife is an amazing woman on her own. All you had to do was ask Roy. They fit well together, as long as Roy knew she was Boss. He would talk about their little getaways together, not revealing details other than having a wonderful time together. Seeing them together you knew there was so much love between the two of them. They had fun together, they supported each other, and they loved their family.

When you work in such an intense career as we have you bond with the people you work with, they become family. You spend as much time if not more with them than your own family. You find that even in your off time, you are friends, because due to our work you "get" each other and understand things that people not in our field wouldn't understand. Their family becomes your family. You share their ups and downs, and your there for each other and their families.

Roy was an integral part of our lives. He is gone and that is very hard to fathom. Roy leaves a huge hole in our universe. And there are the little things that will be gone forever. Roy walking in with his boot laces untied and half his shirt hanging out before our shift began. Roy's infectious laugh. Yelling at Roy for his truck being messy and him just laughing at you. 472 saying every morning at 8am "Where's Roy?" to our Boss at the assignment board, when he and everyone else knew Roy came in at 9am. Hollering at Roy for hogging all the Stand-by shifts you wanted. And him smiling and laughing at you. Roy calling you on a "blond moment" teasing you but helping make you laugh at yourself. And many many other little things that will be missing. Reminding us of him. Reminding me of him.

Roy would be chuckling right now, smiling that teasing big brother smile.
"It's all good."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

An ACO Halloween Tail

Odd things happen on swing shifts. Why would I think a Full moon on Halloween would be any different? I spent the early part of my shift creeping slowly through neighborhoods as young parents herded little superheroes, princesses, witches and ghouls along sidewalks and house to house. My first few calls were fairly routine, loose dogs and a couple deceased animals that needed to be picked up so they don't disturb the evenings festivities. Things quieted down for me after the sun went down. I took a break to get bite to eat.
As I was finishing up I got a call for a wild animal in house. I asked what kind and was told they weren't sure. I smiled, at least it wasn't a skunk. I was so not in a mood to smell like skunk the rest of the night. When I got there the woman was freaking out about a squirrel in her back enclosed patio. OF coarse I searched and found nothing.
My next call was a sheriff assist for a loose aggressive dog. Sheriff asked for an ETA so I told them about 20 minutes. When I arrived Sheriff wasn't there yet. I talked to a couple neighbors who were out, as still many trick or treaters and their parents still were. They told me they had heard that there was a black shepherd running loose somewhere in the neighborhood but hadn't seen it. Sheriff rolled up and said they had driven around and found nothing either. Most likely the owners caught the dog and took it home. I exchanged pleasantries with the deputies and drove off.I headed back to the shelter to get a little paperwork done hopefully before the next call came in. Of coarse, just as I got there I got another call. The shepherd again. Dispatch reported that this time the dog bit someone and was still loose. So back to the neighborhood I headed. Sheriff wouldn't be able to respond this time.
After a quick sweep of the neighborhood again and finding nothing I went to the victims house. I knocked several times on the door. No answer. Just as I was going to leave I heard a woman's voice call from an upstairs window. The woman told me to come around to the stairs on the other side of the house. The house was a split level duplex house. As I passed the double garage doors I heard something banging around in the garage, things being knocked over, then silence. The woman told me her downstairs tenant came home ranting about a dog biting him. He went into his house and a little later she heard him yelling and then she said she heard him downstairs in the garage, things slamming around and she though she heard a dog making whining noises. She was insistant that her tenant didn't have a dog. I asked her if she had seen the dog. She hadn't. I wondered if the guy had caught the bite dog and put it in the garage. I asked the landlady again if she was sure that he didn't have a dog. She assured me that he didn't. I asked her if there was any way I could see into the garage from outside? She told me that there were no windows into the garage, however there was a door down to the doors that led to each side of the garage.
I opened the door to the staircase and headed down. It was quiet. I just wanted to get a peek to see if it was the black shepherd that had been reported earlier. I heard rustling around in the garage. I flicked the light switch on and reached for the door. The rustling stopped. I opened the door slowly, only a crack. It squeaked a little as I pulled the door open a little, just enough to peer in. I listened and didn't hear anything moving. But a slight shadow or movement on the other side of the car I saw the tip of a pointed black ear. I knew I should have brought a catch pole with me before I went down to the garage. I closed the door and went back up the stair to the land lady's apartment. I told her that I saw a dog in there and I would be right back with my catch pole. She again insisted that he didn't have a dog.
I got my catch pole and headed back up to the apartment. I was going to have to catch pole the dog then have the landlady open the garage door for me to let me and the dog out. When I got back to her apartment I told her what I would need her to do. She was a little hesitant but agreed. I released the loop and opened the door heading down to the garages. I was stopped dead in my tracks in the doorway.
I slammed the door shut and twisted the dead bolt into place. I shoved the bewildered landlady towards her front door. I frantically told her to run to the neighbors and call 911 and stay there! My heart was hammering in my chest. As I got the landlady out the door there was a thud at the garage door. "GO!" I yelled at her as another louder thud hit the dead bolted door. As the landlady went down the stairs I pulled her front door closed behind me and followed her down. I grabbed my radio out of the holster and called dispatch. I requested sheriff assistance code 3 and gave the address. I could hear up in the apartment the sound of banging and a crash. I glanced over and watched the land lady disappear into the neighbor's front door. I got to my truck and trying to keep an eye on the upstairs apartment door I got my shotgun out. I loaded several rounds into magazine, something I never do. I could hear the shrieks and laughter of kids down the street. Trick or Treaters still out and about. I called dispatch again, where were the deputies??
I could hear crashing and the breaking of glass. The lights in the windows wavered and flickered. An indistinguishable shadow briefly passed a window. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I could hear the trick or treaters getting closer and still no sirens. I stood behind my truck hood with my shotgun pointed towards the apartment door. I tried to tell myself this must have been some kind of Halloween prank. A Joke. This couldn't be real. But something kept my heart racing, and my skin crawling. I got on the phone and called dispatch. Where are the deputies? No. It's a do I even begin to describe this?...It's a large wild animal? Sure sure , call Fish and Game too! But get the deputies ASAP!! I'm told they are on their way. Just about then I hear sirens. I think I finally took a breath. The sounds of furniture breaking suddenly stopped. The sirens got closer and dogs in the neighborhood began to bark and howl. Red and blue lights lit up the night, splashing across the walls of the house as one then two patrol cars pulled up.
The deputies looked bewildered as they got out of their cars and saw me with a shot gun trained on the upstairs apartment. Their hands went to their sidearms and they both looked up at the apartment door. I tried to explain what I saw. I could tell they thought I was either a victim of a Halloween prank, imagining things or just plain crazy. I heard another siren for an additional unit coming. Then we heard it. A single long loud howl coming from the upstairs apartment. The deputies were taken aback by the sound. The crashing resumed in the apartment and one light went out, then another. It was the heavy banging against the front door that caused the deputies to unholster their weapons. One deputy got on his radio and called for additional units. The third unit arrived and another deputy yelled at him to grab his shotgun.
In a few minutes , the street was filled with police cruisers and neighbors coming out to see what the commotion was. Deputies told people to go back into their homes. I heard that the story circulating was a bad guy was hold up in the apartment. They had no idea. Fish and Game arrived. They spoke with me first and I told them the events of the night and what I saw. They and a deputy went and spoke to the landlady. Was it possible that the tenant had a illegally kept animal? A dog? No. A Bear? No. Where was the tenant? His car was in the garage. There was another loud crash and a large shadow passed the dimly lit window. And another bone chilling howl. Everyone seemed to look at each other. Was this really happening? You could practically read every ones thoughts. This couldn't be real. This was a elaborate prank. With multiple guns trained on the apartment at this time, several spotlights were put into position.
An entry team was assembling when the banging against the front door started again. The door suddenly gave a load crack and splintered as it exploded outward. The large form launched itself from the top landing towards the deputies below. One shot erupted into what seemed to be a hundred. In mid air the animal snarled, screamed and reached out as it was hit multiple times until it crumpled to the ground. I lost sight of the form as a sea of uniforms formed a semi circle weapons still aimed. It was hard to distinguish what was happening from my position, still behind the hood of my truck. Radio chatter, excited voices yelling, cussing and gasps. Then suddenly silence, other than the chatter on the radios. The silence broke again back to more excited voices and yelling. There was movement and after a few minutes I was finally able to catch a glimpse of the form laying on the ground. A hand touched my arm from behind and nearly made me jump. I looked behind me and saw the face of the land lady. He hand was at her mouth covering a gasp of horror and her eyes fixed on the form laying on the ground. Her voice cracked and waived as she spoke. It was the nude body of her tenant.
I had to stay on scene for awhile as everything was processed, statements were taken and I was finally released. My shift was over and still a little shaken I was finally able to head home. I was taking off my duty belt to hang up for the night when I noticed the light of my video camera that I carry on my belt was blinking on. I didn't remember turning it on but it was possible that I accidently turned it on. I sat down in my chair and watched what had transpired earlier that evening. I had managed to catch a shot of the creature on the staircase when I first saw it. Here's what my camera captured.

As I starred at the image on my camera and recalled the events, something struck me. If this creature was the tenant who was bitten earlier, where was the original biter?
Happy Halloween!
(Yes of coarse the above story is a tail of fiction I came up with when I found this picture on the internet. I have not been able to find the original source of the photo so that credit can be given where credit is due. I hope you enjoyed my tail. Happy Halloween!)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Illusive Lucy and The Kindness of Strangers

It was probably about a month and a half ago that area residents noticed a black and white dog hanging around in their local neighborhood park. There was some concern at first because, well "she" is a Pit Bull Terrier. She didn't seem to be bothering anyone, and would run away and disappear. Some may have thought she was just loose and went back home. Until they saw her again and again, in the same area. She had that nervous, scared anticipation and some began to realize that she was abandoned.
Our Animal Field Services was called out a couple of times. But the Officers closed the cases because the dog was not seen. When a dog is not there we cannot spend a lot of time searching for it. especially in a large open space like a park and field.
Park Tower
photo courtesy of Vanessa K.
I got called out on another call.This time a man who had been offering food and water to her wanted to see if we could come out and catch her. I got out there and saw her in what would be known as her main hang out area, the Park Tower. But there was no catching her that day. I could see already that this was going to be difficult. By this time she had been out there for at least 2 weeks and was getting pretty good at knowing her way around and her hiding spots.
Our next encounter, myself and two other officers went out. One officer had a Tranq gun to attempt a chemical capture. We saw her but she was once again illusive and disappeared into thin air.
Field Tower
photo courtesy of Vanessa K.
I went back out a few more times to to see if I could see her again. I noticed that the food bowls and water bowls were increasing. and that there was a large plastic crate. And I was also told about her second hangout, the Field Tower. It wasn't until later that through a volunteer meeting I attended and the networking of face book I found out that one or more of our shelter supporters and volunteers were also trying to rescue this dog.
We began trying to somewhat coordinate our rescue efforts. It was hard for me to try to make any long term commitments due to having other obligations. But we were communicating to try to get this dog some help. During all this there were reports of another dog being seen on and off with her. A black German Shepherd mix who seem to hang out for a few days then disappear a few days. He too was being shy and skittish. I suspected that the black dog lived in the area and was escaping home to be with his new found friend. My suspicions would be nearly confirmed with what would soon be discovered.
The sightings and calls continued for nearly a month more, as well as all the efforts to rescue now both dogs. A trap was even brought out by the rescuers to try to capture them. But Lucy was too wily. One rescuer, Lisa C. in particular was spending a lot of her free time, mornings and nights trying to earn the trust of Lucy. She fortunately lives in the area and was determined to help the dogs.
Lisa and another animal rescuer and supporter Vanessa K. were both very active in trying to get these dogs rescued. And apparently a few neighbors were concerned too as the food and treats increased. But now the setback was Lucy and her friend were getting too well taken care of and were getting picky. So the trap was not going to work. Signs were posted to please stop feeding them, leave a small treat in the crate or fill up the water dishes, but no more over feeding. The ladies were able to start hand feeding them, especially diligent Lisa. Lucy was really coming around to her.
Lucy's Crate
photo courtesy of Vanessa K.
I received a message that Lisa had almost been successful in getting a leash on Lucy! Almost. Something went wrong and Lisa dropped something, her face made contact with the top of Lucy's head and BONK Lisa gets a split lip! Lisa was a little shaken, having not a lot of experience with large breed dogs, but even after that she was still committed to rescuing Lucy.
Then a call comes in from the Sheriff's Department. Report of 2 dogs, a black and white pit bull, and a black lab or shepherd with their legs zip-tied. I heard the address and knew it was them. My heart leaped and sank at the same time. The pit bull was reportedly attacking anyone who gets near the black dog. I had already clocked out for the day. But I knew how busy the Swing Officer was, and he was no where near this location. And I had committed to myself to help these dogs in any way I could. So I took the call.
My first thought when I got there was how strange it was they had made their way to the local High School Baseball field. With school just having started, and lots of people around, why would illusive Lucy and her friend go to such a public place several blocks from their park? With Deputy Smith from the Sheriff's Department we drove onto the field and spoke with one of the callers. I also was trying to get ahold of Lisa. The caller told us that the black dog's legs were zip-tied and he can barely move but the black and white dog wouldn't let anyone get close to help him. They pointed them out to us. Both dogs were laying in the grass head to head appearing to just be relaxing in the sun. They closed the baseball field up as we approached. Lucy's head popped up when she heard us. She looked straight at me and got up. The Deputy and I slowly approached. Lucy gave a little whine, sniffed her friend's head as he sat up and then she bolted. We tried to catch her and I was even going to try to have Lisa come out and see if she would trust her enough to get a leash on her. But she knew where a hole was in the fence and she was gone.
With the hope of catching her gone for the moment I was able to turn my attention on the Black Shepherd. He had stood up by this time and his condition was painfully evident. Someone had put thick black zip-ties around the long bones of both of his front legs. They were so tight that the leg and foot below the zip-tie was horribly swollen to 2-3 times their normal size. He was in obvious pain trying to walk. Deputy Smith and I acted quickly. I restrained the dog and Deputy Smith had to pretty much saw through the thick plastic of the zip-ties. As soon as both ties were off I could feel a breath of relief from the dog I was holding down. I loaded him up into the truck to get him to the ER vet.
You have to wonder, did Lucy bring him here on purpose? Knowing that there would be so many people around? Did she know that people would help her friend? I've heard stranger things happening.
I felt a little guilty leaving Lucy behind that night, taking her friend away, knowing she would be alone. But I try to balance that with saving the shepherd's life. If he hadn't been found, and soon, his legs would have suffered irreversible damage and may have even caused death.
Jupiter's intake at Shelter
Can still see a little swelling in his legs
I know this shook up Lisa a bit. But bless her for continuing on her mission. The vet said the shepherd should be OK, didn't look like there was any lasting damage. By the time I got to the Vet the swelling had gone down significantly. He was put on some antibiotics and pain meds to help him out.
Now as shy as he had been reported to be and myself and the deputy having to hold him down to get them off. I can only come to the conclusion that someone he knew put them on him? Maybe it was the owner's bizarre and cruel attempt to keep the dog from escaping and hanging out with Lucy. Unfortunately we have no way of knowing who they are or finding the owners unless they come forward.
I have worried even more about Lucy ever since that night. Then I got a message that Lisa had made a small victory. She had been able to lure Lucy into her backyard. Unfortunately, it was only for about 20 minutes, when Lucy found a broken fence board.
The Illusive Lucy, named by a neighborhood boy
 because she was "loosey"
photo courtesy of Vanessa K.
And then breaking new Monday Night. Lucy is safe! Lisa finally got her to trust her enough to come into her house! And then into her car! And now she is safe and sound. Off the streets in the care of a trainer who is going to help her decompress from her time on the streets and get her ready for a forever home.
The black Shepherd has been named Jupiter by shelter staff, he has passed his behavior evaluation and has been classified as "Goofy". He's a young dog, maybe between 10 months and a year. He's got a full wonderful life ahead of him.
The beginning of happy endings for both dogs.
I would like to give a special thank you and bravo to Lisa C., Vanessa K., Deputy Smith and the nameless others who worked and continue to work to save these dogs. You are Animal Heroes!

And a Special Note From Lisa C. about her husband Brian:
"Almost left out is the role Brian played. After the 1st attempt at leading Lucy out of the park ended in the ER for 7 stitches for my split lip, Brian went out in the park w/me the 2nd & 3rd time. He drove Lucy & I all the way to the trainers in N. Highlands - a 25 minute ride w/an 80 lbs. stray pit in his back seat. He was patient & supportive through the last month & is truly the best husband EVER."

Shelter Silliness Shots (1)

I love our Staff's sense of Humor. Going to start trying to share some Shelter funnies when I capture them. Or if you have a shelter funny photo, send me an email and who to credit on the photo to my e-mail address . Please only submit photos you have taken yourself, or have permission to use from the photographer.

Snake Walking 101

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fouth of July, Are Your Pets Safe?

I know it still June, but have you seen the fireworks stands already propped up in just about every parking lot and empty corner? Are you aware that Fireworks are going on sale THIS week? Fire works are sold before the Fourth even gets here. It's time to think about your pets.

Do they have id on them? Tags? Microchip with CURRENT contact information? Even as simple as using a permanent marker and writing your phone number on the collar.

No one thinks that it will happen to them. "Oh my dog will be fine." Tell that to the hundreds or thousands of animals that end up in the shelters the week prior to and the week after the holiday. Or how about animals who will be running in fear of the strange scary noises, smells and sights who are hit by cars? It happens EVERY year. This year can we make a difference?

Make sure your pets have ID. Does the ID have an alternate contact in case your out of town? You can go to Wal-mart and for a couple bucks get a tag to put at least a name and phone number on. It's that simple. Or simpler still for those who use the excuse, "oh I don't like hearing those tags jingle all the time". How about using a simple permanent marker and writing a phone number on the collar.

Does your pet already have a tag or a microchip? IS the information current? Make sure to always keep phone numbers current. What good is the microchip is you don't have the information in there?

Are you going to be out of town and leaving pets behind? Make sure whoever is caring for your pets has emergency numbers, vet and animal shelter, should something happen and the pet goes missing. Pet care takers tend to not think of these things. Remember too than many vet hospitals will be closed for the holiday, so be sure to include your local emergency vet. Ask your regular vet who they refer their clients to.

If your home watch your pets for behavior changes, shaking, worried looks, startling at sudden noises. These could be signs that your pet is hearing the fireworks that inevitably are set off before the holiday itself. Take this as a sign that your pet will not do well with the bombardment on the actual holiday. You still have time to talk to your vet about ways to keep your pets calm. Call them for advice.

The best and safest place for scared pets is inside where the sounds and smells aren't as loud. They can still hear them, but being inside provides a safer place. With very reactive pets, you may want to place them in a central room in the house where noise from outside is buffered the most and play a radio or TV with a talk show or calm music. I don't recommend and action movie or heavy metal music, kind of defeats the purpose of creating a calming atmosphere.

If the house is not an option, do the same thing in the garage. If you cannot keep them in the garage, check your fences and gates so that a scared dog cannot easily get out.

Now what if you have done all this and your pet still goes missing? Make fliers to put up around your area, give to local vets and to bring in to the shelters. Have a clear current photo of your pet to put on fliers or post ad on places such as Craigslist. Call or look up on line the hours of operation for ALL the shelters in your area. Some have reduced hours, some are closed on certain days of the week. Call your vet to notify them of your lost pet.

If your pet is lost, has a license, has ID, has a current microchip and is picked up by animal control. We will try our best to return your pet to you as quickly as possible.

Summer time and Fourth of July should be fun for all and that includes your pets. Make sure your pets have current ID and take precautions to safeguard fearful pets.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Small Miracles Come Together

Looks are decieving, thesse canals are Deep, Dark and Dangerous!
Several small miracles came together over the last 24 hours that saved a dog's life and will reunite her and her companion with their worried owners.
We received a distressed call from a man named Mark. He was walking his dog along one of the many canals that run through our county near his home and spotted two dogs, a Yellow Lab mix going in and out of the steep concrete embankment and the other a Golden Retriever swimming and then trying desperately to get up the embankment. The Golden tried and tried to get up and out. Her companion keep going in and out to encourage her to get out. When Mark reached them he could tell the Golden was exhausted. He had no idea how long before he came upon them that she had been in the water trying to get out. He made several attempts to try to reach her without putting himself into the deep swift moving water. These canals are deep, fast and dangerous. He knew he and the dog needed help and fast. So he called us.
I heard the call over the radio being transmitted to our dispatcher from the county operator. I was just getting ready to leave the shelter at the beginning of my shift. With instructions from my dispatcher LB and my Director 473, I made sure I had the equipment necessary. We also called Fire Dispatch to have Fire Rescue sent out to.
I rushed to the scene, which thankfully was only about 20 minutes away. Director 473 was following close behind. Upon arriving Fire was already there. They were trying to figure out the best way to get to the dog who at this time was swimming on the other side, moving further and further downstream. The Golden's companion ran along the bank keeping a watchful eye on his partner, making sure she could see him. He was as desperate to get her out as the rest of us. She tried to go up the bank on the other side only to slide back into the water again. You could see how tired she was as she struggled. To add to her stress now she could see so many people that were trying to save her, she didn't understand and was spooked by all the commotion remaining at the other side of the canal. Fire was preparing to call out the swift water rescue boat as she was going further and further down stream. I had a lasso in hand and Director 473 had the catch pole hoping for her to come back to our side and we could try to rope her or snag her with either.
It was about this time that Mark spoke up, he had built a trust in his short time with the Golden and had caught her attention several times calling to her. He asked if we could all stand back a little and see if she would come to him once more. I had leashed up the Lab and handed Mark my lasso. I kept the lab close to the edge of the water so the Golden could see him and he could see her. The fire rescue team had concerns that Mark would fall in and then we would have another rescue. But I had faith in Mark. He sat down where the Golden could see him. The fire rescue and 473 stood back behind Mark so if anything happened they could jump into action. Mark called to the Golden and prepared the rope. She turned and swam across the current towards him. I think everyone held their breath as she got closer to him and he tossed the lasso loop. Miracle! The loop dropped over her! She kept swimming towards him right to the bank and he was able to get the loop closed around her and pulled her up the steep concrete to him. We could all breath again. And she was finally safe out of the water.
(Now I do have to quickly interject here that we do not recommend trying to save a distressed animal in these types of situations where your own safety is at risk! This was an unusual and extreme situation with emergency personnel on hand! We do not make it a habit of having civilians put themselves in harms way to do our jobs. This again was a very unique situation, the most necessary course of action and had a good outcome.)
Mark was definitely a hero! We thanked him profusely for his diligence and assistance. Words really don't do justice for someone who steps forward like that. We reunited both dogs with each other. The Lab was overjoyed to have his companion safely on dry land. We loaded the dogs up and I drove them back to the shelter to have our Shelter Vet, Dr. B, give the Golden a once over. He was standing by at the shelter waiting for my arrival.
The Golden's front feet were bloodied from her desperate clawing at the side of the concrete canal. She had worn her nails down a bit and a couple of her pads were worn smooth and bled a little. Dr. B checked her out and determined she would be fine overnight  at the shelter and he would recheck her in the morning to make sure she didn't have any lasting effects or water damage to her lungs. I dried her off and warmed her up before housing in a kennel with a nice fuzzy blanket. I did the same for her companion and house them in kennels next to each other. The Golden was already snoozing when I brought her companion into the kennel room. Sadly, neither dogs had ID or microchips so we had no way of contacting the owners. We could only hope that they were missing their dogs and would contact out shelter to find them.
Golden Retriever
Yellow Lab Mix

I was so pleased with the outcome of this rescue I posted a Face book status about it. Little did I know what that would lead to. I received several comments from well wishes for the dogs and their hero, Mark. I also received a message from a news station wanting information on the rescue. I referred them to Director 473. Fast forward to this morning. I was lazing in bed on my day off after being on the late shift. Even my own dogs jumping on me wasn't going to get me out of the covers. They had their breakfast and had access to the outside they just wanted me to get up so they could steal my warm spot and blankets!
However, I was laying there browsing my face book from under the covers when I came upon a message to me from one of our wonderful Shelter Volunteers. Volunteer LD had received a desperate Face book status from some family friends that was for their pair of missing dogs. They were missing from the same area, and descriptions matched. I asked her to send me pictures of the dogs. Email received. I saw the dogs and could say they were the same dogs by 98%! Never say 100%, because well you never know. So the word went out to the owners. Dogs Found and Safe! Well the owners, unfortunately are in Texas on vacation. The dogs were being cared for by friends. So now the messages going back and forth from me to LD to owners to family friends who will be picking dogs up for the owners. I contacted shelter manager TD and dispatcher LB to let them know all that has now transpired. On top of this I also got a call from Hero Mark asking how the dogs were doing and that if no owner came forward he would be more than happy to give these dogs a home. I was able to let him know that we had found the owners and were making arrangements for them all being reunited. He was grateful, if not a little disappointed. He really did form a bond with these dogs.
Another little miracle was told to me by our hero Mark. You see, Mark told me he usually doesn't walk the canal at that time of day because it is usually too hot. But since the weather was cool and cloudy that day, he didn't follow his usual routine of walking in the morning or later in the evening. Had he not been there at that time I don't think the outcome would have been the same as it was. Whoever says miracles don't happen, is wrong! 

How could this have been a happier ending? If the dogs hadn't been swimming in the canal of coarse, but dogs get out and do silly dog things that can put them in danger. However, if the dogs had Licenses, Microchips, or ID. Any of these would have brought the dogs home immediately and have saved them from a trip to the Shelter.
Abbey the Golden Retriever and Issak the Yellow Lab Mix will soon be on their way home, and you can be sure they will have ID from this point on.
Abbey's "Missing" Picture

Issak's "Missing" Picture