Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Yavapai Humane Society year in review

YHS ended the practice
of killing animals to control
pet overpopulation in 2012
In 2012 the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) accomplished what many consider impossible, ending the practice of euthanasia (or killing as someprefer to call it) as a method for controlling pet overpopulation.  This achievement places us among the nation’s most humane communities.  Many ask, “How in the world did you do this?”  It was the result of strong community support and involvement. 

Here is a list of YHS’ Top Ten Accomplishments that directly led to this amazing feat: 

1.    Spay/Neuter & Wellness Clinic: The YHS Clinic was certified by the esteemed Humane Alliance in North Carolina, a nationally recognized organization that focuses on high-volume, high-quality, low-cost companion animal sterilization.  This prestigious certification resulted in a sizeable Petsmart grant for staff training and medical equipment. 

2.    Walk for the Animals:  The first annual YHS Walk for the Animals was a huge success with nearly 400 participants and their dogs.  Mark your calendar for the second annual Walk for the Animals on Saturday, April 12, 2013.

3.    YHS Thrift Shop developed the reputation as the “Neiman Marcus” of local thrift stores because of its exclusive merchandise at affordable prices.  If you haven’t already, make the YHS Thrift Shop a weekly destination.  It is located at 1046 Willow Creek Road in the Safeway/Cal-Ranch shopping center.

4.    Reigning Cats & Dogs Gala:  The 2012 Gala celebrated YHS’ 40th Anniversary raising over $117,000 to help fund life-saving programs.  

5.    Hospital Facility:  YHS received funding from Yavapai County, the City of Prescott, the Town of Prescott Valley and several private supporters to build much needed medical isolation, observation and holding wards for animals in need of special care.  The facility will also provide a room for staff and volunteer training and warehouse space.  Opening Day is expected in March or April.

6.    Digital X-Ray Machine: Thanks to the support of many YHS acquired a digital x-ray machine that enables our compassionate medical team to effectively diagnose and treat rescued sick and injured animals.

7.    Enrichment Program: Jim Holt and Marcia Gatti (owners of Hassayampa Canine Resort & Spa) helped YHS develop an Enrichment Program designed to help enhance the shelter experience of our animals so they are better prepared for adoption.  Thanks to the support of many YHS now has an enrichment dog training park and facility; soothing music piped throughout the shelters; beds in every kennel; a robust dog walking/training program; and guidance from expert dog behaviorists.

8.    Big Fix:  Several grants allowed YHS to provide hundreds of low cost spay/neuter surgeries free of charge or with small co-pays to pit bull owners, military veterans and low-income pet owners.  If your pet still needs to be altered don’t wait another moment; call 928-771-0547 today for an appointment.

9.    Second Annual Car Raffle:  Pat and Nancy O’Brien (Hooligan’s Pub proprietors) donated a fully restored 1971Jeep CJ5.  Raffle tickets ($10 each/6 for $50) are still available at all YHS outlets, Olsen’s Grain in Prescott, Dewey and Chino Valley, Whisker’s Barkery and Timberwoof Pet Boutique.  The winner will be randomly drawn at Whisker’s Barkery this Friday evening at 6:30 p.m.

10. Ninety-five percent Live Release Rate:  Thanks to the support of our community we transformed our community into one of the safest for pets in the nation. 

All of these accomplishments are the result of the support of many.  There is still time to be part of this remarkable success by making a tax deductable end of the year donation to help YHS fund its many life saving programs in 2013.  Please send your donation today to 1625 Sundog Ranch Road, Prescott AZ 86301 or make your donation on-line at www.yavapaihumane.org. 

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Compassion is not a finite commodity

See Jamie's story
In many communities, decisions regarding animal welfare are complicated by a host of competing priorities. When evaluating competing priorities it's easy to look to the bottom line. When that happens, the questions of conscience concerning animal welfare can be overlooked.

There will always be enough injustice and human suffering in the world to make animal welfare seem less important. But compassion is not a finite commodity. We demonstrated the power of compassion in 2012 by ending euthanasia as our community's method for controlling pet overpopulation. That is no small achievement; indeed, it places us among the nation's most humane communities.

Still it's not difficult to understand how decision makers can feel strongly that human need and wants are more important than animal needs and wants. When this happens, animal welfare can be reduced to a simple equation of what's affordable, profitable or expedient. We can almost fool ourselves into thinking we're dealing with widgets rather than lives. It's at this point that our moral fiber emerges.

German philosopher Immanuel Kant opined that "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." Indian Prime Minister Mahatma Gandhi expanded on this truism stating the moral progress of an entire community "can be judged by the way its animals are treated." No less than Abraham Lincoln said he considered animal welfare as important as human welfare for "that is the way of a whole human being."

Matthew Scully, senior speech writer for President George W. Bush and author of the book Dominion, put it this way: "We are called upon to treat animals with kindness, not because they have rights or power or some claim to equality, but because they don't; because they all stand unequal and powerless before us. Animals are easily overlooked, their interests easily brushed aside."

The danger now is that we return to thinking there is only enough compassion in our community for our elderly but not for our children; or just enough love for our children but not for our mentally ill; or just enough kindness for our human populations but not for our animals. St. Francis of Assisi taught that to regard the lives of animals as worthless is one small step away from regarding some human lives as worthless.

We compound community wrongs when wrongs done to animals are excused by saying there are more important wrongs done to humans and we must concentrate on those alone. A wrong is a wrong, and when we shrug off these little wrongs we do grave harm to ourselves and others.

"When we wince at the suffering of animals, that feeling speaks well of us... and those who dismiss love for our fellow creatures as mere sentimentality overlook a good and important part of our humanity." (Scully: Dominion)

As 2012 comes to a close, I want to thank the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, the Prescott City Council and the Prescott Valley Town Council for their support in 2012 and ask them to kindly remember animal welfare as they begin to build their 2013/14 budgets.

If you live in one of these communities and your circle of compassion includes animals, let your elected officials know how important their support of YHS' no-kill ethic is to you. You can also help this humane initiative directly by making a yearend donation to YHS; including YHS in your will; joining our volunteer program; or adopting a pet from YHS. Together we transformed our community into a showcase for "that good and important part of our humanity." This can continue into 2013 and beyond - but only with your help, involvement and support.

The dog pictured above is Jamie, a 2-year-old female Brussels Griffon whose right front leg was amputated due to a severe break that became infected. This loss has not affected Jamie’s disposition at all: She is a sweet loving lap dog looking for a home for the holidays. If you are interested in adopting this little baby, please let YHS know at 445-2666.

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hypothyroidism is no reason not to adopt a dog; Roseanne's story

Roseanne has hypothyroidism
and is available for adoption to
an understanding family.
The Auburn University School of Pharmacy estimates 3 to 8 percent of the American human population have hypothyroidism, and the incidence increases with age. I was surprised by this number because when I conduct a poll among friends and acquaintances the percentage seems much higher. Everybody I asked seems to be on thyroid medication. So I'm hoping Roseanne's story finds an empathetic audience.

Roseanne is a 7-year-old female Labrador Retriever mix surrendered to YHS by her owner because of Roseanne's medical condition. This happened on Saturday, June 17. From day one, Roseanne captured the heart of employees and volunteers alike. To say Roseanne has personality is an understatement. In fact, she is borderline mischievous - with a heart of gold.

Roseanne is the most popular dog at YHS. Everybody who meets her wants to adopt her on the spot. That is, until they learn she has hypothyroidism.

The YHS medical team diagnosed Roseanne's hypothyroidism after noticing a slight head tilt that gradually became worse. Hypothyroidism is a common disease in dogs and occurs when the thyroid gland produces insufficient hormones to regulate the metabolism. This causes a variety of symptoms including weight gain or obesity, hair loss and skin problems. Most hypothyroid dogs respond readily to treatment.

Roseanne has been on treatment (a pill in his food morning and night) for several weeks and her desire to play and be more active is palpable; and her coat has improved too. Many dogs suffer from a low thyroid hormone level for years without treatment. If your dog has recurrent skin problems, or unexplained weight gain, she may be suffering from hypothyroidism and you should talk with your veterinarian.

Although the onset of clinical signs is variable, hypothyroidism most commonly develops in middle-aged dogs between the ages of 4-to-10 years. The disorder usually affects mid- to large-size breeds, and is rare in toy and miniature breeds. Breeds that appear predisposed to the condition include the Golden Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, Irish Setter, Miniature Schnauzer, Dachshund, Cocker Spaniel and Airedale Terrier. German Shepherds and mixed breeds appear to be at a reduced risk for contracting the disease.

Hypothyroidism in dogs is easy to treat. Treatment consists of placing the dog on a daily dose of a synthetic thyroid hormone called thyroxine (levothyroxine). The dose and frequency of administration of this drug varies depending on the severity of the disease and the individual response of the dog to the drug. A dog is usually placed on a standard dose for her weight and blood samples are drawn periodically to check her response and then the dose is adjusted accordingly. Once therapy is started, the dog will need to be on treatment for the rest of her life. Usually after the treatment is started, the majority of the symptoms resolve.

Roseanne's improvement is obvious; she lost 17 pounds, weighing in now at a svelte 79 pounds. Her head tilt has also vanished. She is ready to be adopted into an understanding home. If you are interested in adopting Roseanne, come by YHS at 1625 Sundog Ranch Road in Prescott, off the Prescott Parkway for a get acquainted meeting. Roseanne is a senior dog so adoption fees are waived for citizens 59 years of age; $40 for all others.

If you would like to make sure dogs like Roseanne get the medical care and treatment they need, please make a donation to the Yavapai Humane Society Special Treatment And Recovery (STAR) program. You can send your donation on-line at www.yavapaihumane.org/star or by mail to 1625 Sundog Ranch Road, Prescott, AZ 86301.

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

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

YHS offers rewards for information in two cruelty investigations

Everly was too weak to stand
when rescued by YHS.
Summum bonum is a Latin expression meaning "the highest good." It is the mission of the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) to strive for the highest good for our community's most helpless animals. This lofty goal is often challenged by budget constraints. This means YHS has to rely on kindred souls in our community for help.

While this may be the season for "Peace on earth and good will towards men," YHS is witnessing a disturbing increase in animal cruelty. Let me give you three examples from just the past week.

Last Wednesday, a county magistrate ordered 11 dogs to be confiscated by the Sheriff's Office and impounded by YHS. Sadly, the magistrate did not require the irresponsible dog owner to be answerable for the costs associated with impounding, caring for and rehabilitating these un-socialized animals, making YHS responsible. We are now working hard to find a safe place for these unfortunate animals.

On Thursday, a sweet golden retriever was brought to YHS by a Good Samaritan. Everly was found collapsed on her rescuer's front lawn, a victim of extreme neglect. When she arrived at YHS she was so emaciated and dehydrated she couldn't walk or even lift her head. She also had an open infected wound on her right rear leg that may still result in her losing that leg - if she is lucky enough to survive. Everly is a loving girl and her prognosis is fair, unlike Monty, my third example.

YHS Medical Team poured out
their heart to save Monty.
On Friday, Monty was brought to YHS after being shot. He was rescued and rushed to YHS by the Sheriff's Office. The YHS medical team sprang into action. X-rays revealed a bullet had passed through Monty, but not cleanly. It seems Monty was fond of eating rocks and the rocks altered the bullet's trajectory before it exited his body. The bullet fragmented leaving some small pieces of shrapnel. However, the bulk of the bullet passed completely through Monty. 

Monty survived two hours in surgery only to succumb to the loss of blood he had sustained before he got to YHS. Following the gallant effort to save his life, Monty was in too weak a condition to recover and he expired peacefully surrounded by YHS' compassionate staff.

A cruelty investigation is underway in Everly and Monty's cases. Animal cruelty is a class 6 felony in Arizona. YHS is offering a $1,000 reward for any information leading to the conviction of the person responsible for Everly's neglect and a separate $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person who gut shot Monty and left him to bleed out and die. Please contact the Sheriff's Office at 771-3595 with your information (refer to DR#12-039906 for Everly and DR#12-039571 for Monty).

YHS created the Special Treatment and Recovery (STAR) program for needy animals like these. STAR enables YHS to provide "summun bonum" care to these desperate animals. STAR is completely funded by donations. Your donation to STAR is directly responsible for the survival of animals like Everly and the emergency care provided Monty and the confiscated animals. These three cases put a substantial strain on STAR. If you feel the call to help replenish this life saving fund please send your tax deductible donation to the YHS STAR Fund.

YHS is fortunate to have such a dedicated team of employees, volunteers, partners and supporters. This compassionate team stands ever ready to help animals who have no one else to turn to. If you want to be part of this team, consider volunteering with YHS and/or send YHS a life-saving donation. On behalf of the YHS team, have a merry Christmas and happy Hanukah.

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