Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How to keep your pets safe this Holiday Season

With Thanksgiving behind us, millions of homes are now preparing for the bedecking of a Christmas tree, not realizing that these sparkling towers of beauty can pose a threat to their pets.

Before putting up your tree, consider these safety precautions.

• Pick an area where the tree can be enjoyed without becoming a "climbing toy" for your pet. The tree should be secured to the wall or ceiling, away from furniture that can be used as a springboard by your pet. Many a tree has been sent swaying by a happy kitten. Cats can be injured if the tree or ornaments fall and break. Dogs can knock over a tree by playing under it. You can place the tree in a corner and secure it from two sides to small hooks in the walls. Another trick is to place a small hook in the ceiling above the tree and use clear fishing line from the top of the tree to the hook; apply gentle tension and tie.

• Place the tree near an outlet so you don't have to run electrical cords long distances. Electrical cords are a grave danger to pets - especially puppies and kittens who chew on anything. Cords can cause electrocution, serious injury, or even death. Secure the cords by positioning them higher than the pet can reach or hiding them with special covers.

• Sweep up any pine needles that fall. Ingestion of needles can cause vomiting and gastric irritation. Lay down plastic sheeting or a "tree bag." This is an extra-large trash bag used for live trees. Center the tree on the bag. When the season is over and you have removed the tree ornaments, pull the bag over the tree. This will catch the pine needles and prevent them from being chewed or swallowed by your pet.

• Check your ornaments and replace hooks with a loop of string tied in a knot. Ornaments often fall from the tree and pets may catch their mouths on or swallow the hooks.

• There is no completely pet-safe bulb. Pet "safer" bulbs are plastic or wood. Glass bulbs on the lower limbs are especially dangerous. If broken, pets can step on them and cut their feet or play with the bulbs and chew on them causing them to break, resulting in mouth or throat trauma or an intestinal obstruction. Many pet owners have learned the hard way not to place ornaments on the lower limbs. Ornaments made of food are especially attractive to pets.

• Big red velvet ribbons are lovely and may replace tinsel and garlands that could be eaten by pets and caught in their intestine. Cats are especially attracted to the bright shiny tinsel. Ingestion of this material can cause intestinal obstruction that may require surgery.

• Dogs and cats love to investigate and most don't understand that presents are not meant to be opened before Christmas Day. Decorative ribbons and string can be ingested and gifts can be destroyed by a playful pet. Consider storing presents in a safe area until right before the holiday or make sure your pet is always supervised while searching for his special gift.

• Keep the tree watered and only turn the lights on when you are at home. Fire is always a risk with a live tree. Do not allow your pet to drink from the tree well.

The safest thing to do is to allow your pet access to the tree only when supervised. Pets who continue to bother the tree should be encouraged with positive reinforcement to leave it alone. Bitter apple can be sprayed on low branches for persistent chewers.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

YHS is thankful to our pet loving community (check out all the holiday specials between now and the end of the year!)

Jake is available for adoption.
Read his story below.
It's that time of year when we consider our blessings and express our gratitude. I'm thankful to be part of an organization governed by a compassionate board, staffed by committed employees, served by dedicated volunteers, and supported by a kind and caring community.

We are grateful for an astounding 87 percent decrease in pet euthanasia and an amazing live release rate of 95 percent since embracing our "no-kill" ethic in July of 2010. The Yavapai Humane Society could never have accomplished this without the support of each and every one of you!

Your support helps the Yavapai Humane Society fulfill its mission to promote and protect the health, safety and welfare of thousands of lost, homeless, sick, injured, abused and neglected animals every year. Our shared commitment to this mission has made western and central Yavapai County the third safest region for pets in the United States! Thanks to you, we are transforming our community into a model humane society.

Special YHS Holiday Reminders:

The YHS Thrift Shop is having a 50 percent off everything Black Friday and Small Business Saturday Sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The YHS Thrift Shop is located at 1046 Willow Creek Road in the Safe-way Shopping Center. This is a great opportunity to get all your Christmas shopping done.

The YHS Spay/Neuter & Wellness Clinic recently received a $10,000 gift specifically designated to provide free spay/neuters to the pets of active and retired military members. For more information or to schedule an appointment for your pet, call 771-0547 or visit

Home for the Holidays: As tempting as it might seem to give a pet as a gift, YHS is reminding you that this seldom works out well. Instead, put a YHS Pet Adoption Gift Certificate under the tree. This will give everyone involved the chance to make a well informed pet adoption selection. Gift Certificates come with a cute stuffed dog or cat toy and include a collar and leash for dogs and a Kitten Kaboodle starter kit for cats. YHS will be open Dec. 26 for Gift Certificate redemptions!

Jeep Raffle: You can win a fully restored 1971 Jeep CJ5 that was generously donated by animal lovers Pat and Nancy O'Brien, the proprietors of Hooligan's Pub on Whiskey Row in Prescott. Raffle tickets are 1 for $10 or 6 for $50. Only 4,000 tickets will be sold, and over 2,000 have been sold already - so don't wait another moment to get yours. The drawing will be at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 28 during Yappy Hour at Whisker's Barkery located at 225 West Gurley Street in Prescott.

2013 YHS Calendar is now available and features the dogs and cats of local animal lovers. This beautiful full-sized wall calendar is only $10.

All proceeds from the raffle and calendar benefit YHS homeless pets. Visit to buy on-line or call 445-2666 for more information and to find local sales locations.

How you can help: As the end of 2012 approaches your help is still needed. Please remember the Yavapai Humane Society with a tax deductible gift so you can help us continue to make a difference in 2013. Consider too making the Yavapai Humane Society a beneficiary in your planned giving and make your love of animals a part of your lasting legacy.

On behalf of the Yavapai Humane Society, have a very happy Thanksgiving, a blessed Holiday Season and a very prosperous New Year!

The dog in the photo is Jake, a 3-year-old male Chinese Shar-Pei/Labrador retriever mix.  Jake has a distinctively handsome look and has a charming character to match! This very friendly guy would love to expand his skill and obedience set. Other pets could be nice buddies for Jake after suitable introductions. He loves to be petted and demonstrates his adoration with a wagging tail and easy-going manner.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Hope for pets

YHS partners with Pilots N Paws
to airlift pets to other communities.
This Thanksgiving the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) is thankful to all our volunteers, supporters and partners. Every one of you plays a crucial role in solving our community's pet overpopulation problems.

With a live release rate of 95 percent some might be fooled into thinking these problems are already solved. But they are not; and that is why I am also grateful to our New Hope partners.

The New Hope program is how YHS cooperates with and supports the efforts of partner animal rescue organizations in our shared vision to find homes for our community's homeless pets.

YHS rescues around 3,500 homeless animals each year. When YHS is unable to find a loving home for one of our animals we call upon our New Hope partners for an assist. YHS partners with 58 New Hope organizations throughout the southwest in our effort to find every animal a loving home.

In the past twelve months ending in October, our New Hope partners saved the lives of 237 animals; that's 6 percent of all the animals rescued by YHS. The top five New Hope organizations assisting YHS in its life-saving mission are Miss Kitty's Cat House in Prescott (20), Second Chance Center in Flagstaff (17), Dewey Dog Rescue (16), Arizona Chihuahua Rescue in Phoenix (15), and Ark Cat Sanctuary in Flagstaff (14). YHS appreciates all our partners who help to place our local homeless animals into loving homes.

The New Hope program recently expanded exponentially thanks to a new partnership with Pilots N Paws.  Local commercial pilots generously volunteer to airlift YHS animals to out of state partner shelters and sanctuaries.

Pet overpopulation is an expensive societal problem requiring a coordinated community response; and our local response is a tribute to our community.

Another solution to pet overpopulation is adoption. When you adopt from YHS you directly save the life of a local homeless pet who is altered and will never contribute to this problem. Sadly, some local rescues prefer to import and adopt animals from other communities. YHS feels strongly that we owe it to our community's homeless pets to fix the problem here before compounding it by bringing animals in from outside communities.

Of course, the easiest and most cost efficient fix is for every pet owner to have their pet(s) spayed or neutered. When pet owners demonstrate this level of responsibility we'll be able to solve the pet overpopulation problem within two to three years. That's why I will ask the City of Prescott, Prescott Valley and Yavapai County to allocate funds to the YHS Big Fix program next year. Big Fix provides spay/neuter to pets belonging to our community's indigent population for just a $25 co-pay. Studies have found that for every tax dollar invested in spay/neuter programs $20 is saved in animal control costs over ten years.

Low-cost spay/neuter is especially important for our community (feral) cats. This year YHS rescued kittens every month instead of just in the typical spring "kitten season." This suggests our community is experiencing a serious cat population explosion.

To make sure affordable spay/neuter services are available to every pet in our community, YHS operates the low cost Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic at 2989 Centerpointe in Prescott. You can schedule an appointment for your pet by calling 771-0547. Do it today and help end the killing of unwanted pets.

In closing, a special thank you to every pet owner who spayed or neutered their pet(s); every person and family who adopted a pet from YHS; and every New Hope partner who re-homed a YHS pet. Each of you is directly helping transform our community into a truly humane society.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

How you can help sustain "no-kill" in your community

Dora is a remarkable success story!
In animal welfare there is a term sweeping the country called "No-Kill." No-kill is defined as ending the killing of pets as a means to control pet overpopulation. Many are shocked to learn that killing healthy, adoptable pets is the primary method some communities use to control pet overpopulation. That is not the case at the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) and we update our statistics on our website each month because we believe all members of our community have the right to know what is happening in their local animal shelter.

Last week I opined that if achieving no-kill is likened to an Olympic moment then sustaining no-kill is akin to a marathon.

I'm happy to report that 2012 is our community's Olympic moment. YHS has maintained a 95 percent live-release rate and the third lowest pet euthanasia rate in the nation for over a year - an Olympic "no-kill" moment by anybody's standards. But there has been no time to rest on our laurels as we quickly transitioned into marathon mode to sustain this success over the long haul.

Many ask me, "What can I do to help ensure our community never resorts to killing pets again?" There are two important ways you can help our community eradicate the killing once and for all.

One way is to join our volunteer foster care program. Under the direction of our veterinary team, foster caregivers take sick, injured or behaviorally challenged animals into their homes to care for them until they recover or are rehabilitated and can be adopted into loving homes. We also have a hospice foster care program for animals with some quality of life left despite a life threatening condition. By volunteering as a foster caregiver you help YHS not only by caring for an animal in need, but you open a kennel for a different needy animal.

Another way you can help sustain "no-kill" is by making a life-saving donation to the YHS STAR (Special Treatment and Recovery) program. Your gift helps ensure every sick and injured animal rescued by YHS receives the medical care they need to recover. Through STAR you play a significant role in supporting no-kill because the animals you help are the very ones that would have been euthanized without your help.

Let me give you an example of how these two programs benefit at-risk animals. Dora is a playful 2-year-old Australian heeler rescued by YHS on July 5. The YHS medical team noticed an abnormal gait and ordered X-rays. The X-rays revealed improperly healed fractures on her pelvis and femur.

This old injury required a femoral head ostectomy - which corrected this crippling condition. This procedure was possible only because of generous donations to the YHS STAR program. Dora was then placed into a foster care home for rehabilitation where she improved significantly. Sadly, just as she was nearing full recovery, she came down with valley fever, which required her foster care to be extended. Without these life-saving programs, Dora would likely only be a sad statistic today.

Instead, she is available for a medical release adoption - thanks to our foster care and STAR program supporters. "It takes a village."

If you want to help YHS complete a second year of no-kill, please volunteer or make a life-saving donation. If you want to make sure our community continues its no-kill ethic in perpetuity, consider making YHS a beneficiary in your planned giving. By including YHS in your planned giving, you can help make sure no-kill is a permanent solution to our community's pet overpopulation woes.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.