Tag Archives: animal shelter

Animal rights! – always in style!

Rosalie’s mom loved cats! When she died Rose “inherited” April (pictured above), a homeless kitty Mrs. Tirella had made her precious own – for a decade+! pic:R.T.

A heartbreaking fate awaits homeless cats, as I learned firsthand

By Colleen O’Brien

I met Big Show nearly five years ago, when I moved into my new house. At the time, he was one of three feral cats who were fed and given outdoor shelter by a kind neighbor. He was a beautiful boy, with long, fluffy orange hair and big golden eyes.

One day, one of the cats, whose name I never knew, appeared injured, so I took her to the vet. She couldn’t walk and had a number of injuries to her hindquarters, and the vet recommended euthanasia to end her suffering. That left Big Show and Smokey, a black cat who was Big Show’s best friend.

Each summer, we’d see Big Show and Smokey looking for shade to keep cool. We put up a big umbrella on our porch for them to lie under. In the winter, I put straw in the houses and shelters that my neighbor had set up for them so they had something to burrow down into to fend off the cold. Still, these shelters couldn’t keep them as warm as a home would have. Every time a winter storm came through, I worried that they would freeze to death. During sweltering summers and bitterly cold winters, life must have been miserable for them.

My family and I started feeding them regularly, putting out food when we got home from work. Initially, they took only food that was placed at the end of our yard. But after more than four years of this routine, Big Show became a bit more comfortable around us and began timidly making his way onto our back porch for food. Once Smokey saw that his friend was safe, he joined him.

Eventually, Big Show began watching for the kitchen light to come on, signaling that I was home. Then he’d venture onto our back porch and call out until I fed him. As always, Smokey would join him once he was sure there was no danger.

One night, during one of our feedings, Big Show finally let me pet him. From neck to tail, there was not a spot on this poor cat that wasn’t covered with matted knots. They were so tight against his skin that I knew it must be uncomfortable, even painful, for him to move. I tried to pet mostly his face and head and to avoid touching the knots and hurting him. He loved it. I think this was the first time in his life that he’d been touched. After that night, he began visiting not only for food but also for affection. I decided to give him just a couple more days to learn to trust me, then I would take him to the vet and have the knots removed.

But I never got the chance.

Not long after that, Big Show was lying on our porch late one night. He didn’t get up to greet me, which I thought was odd, but I ignored the voice in my head telling me that something was wrong. Smokey, as always, was nearby, watching. I petted Big Show for a while and then went inside. That was the last time I saw him.

The next day, I thought about his behavior the night before, and I just knew something was wrong. I called my neighbors, but no one had seen him. My fiancé and I went out looking for him but to no avail. When we saw Smokey lying all alone in a neighbor’s yard, my heart sank.

I believe Big Show came to my house the night that he was dying. Then he went somewhere and died alone.

I can’t forgive myself for not taking him to the vet that night. I failed him. And whoever dumped him on the street and left him to fend for himself—they failed him, too. I hope I made his life a little better while I knew him. And I’ll try to do the same for Smokey, who is alone now, and for any other cats who show up homeless in my neighborhood because their “owners” refuse to spay or neuter their animals or don’t recognize or care how dangerous and miserable it is for cats who are forced to live outdoors.

They will never forget!

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

Dogs have earned the title “man’s best friend” for good reason. Consider a South Carolina dog named Killian, who is being hailed as a hero for outing an abusive babysitter. The normally friendly mixed-breed pooch became extremely agitated and even aggressive whenever the babysitter arrived at his family’s house. With their suspicions raised by Killian’s out-of-character behavior, his family hid a phone under a couch and recorded the babysitter cursing at and striking their 7-month-old son. Killian deserves more than a few scratches behind the ears for that!

Dogs’ loyalty to their guardians knows no bounds, but not every dog has a family to love. Animal shelters across the country are overflowing with mutts like Killian, who would make faithful companions if only someone would give them a chance. October is “Adopt a Shelter Dog” Month, and for people who have the time, money, love and patience to care for a dog, there’s no better time to add a canine companion to the family.

Many people who have adopted dogs from shelters say that their dogs are extremely devoted and seem especially grateful to have a home. Some adopted dogs have even returned the favor by alerting their guardians to danger, summoning help or risking their own lives to save the humans who once saved them.

An adopted dog in Connecticut named Duke was credited with saving the life of his family’s 9-week-old daughter, who had stopped breathing during the night. Shaking uncontrollably, Duke leapt onto his guardians’ bed and awakened them. Duke’s guardians instantly knew that something was wrong and went to check on their baby. Paramedics were able to revive the girl, thanks to Duke’s quick action.

It doesn’t take long for adopted dogs to form protective bonds with their new families. Just hours after a couple took him home from a shelter in Ohio, a dog named Hercules chased off a burglar who had apparently cut the phone and cable lines and entered a basement door in the back of his new guardians’ home.

Some adopted dogs even act as guardian angels to their rescuers. Bear, a shaggy 100-pound dog, was once kept in the back of a Texas animal shelter because nobody wanted him. But eventually, a kind woman who happens to suffer from complex partial seizures adopted him. Without any known training, Bear now senses when his guardian is about to have a seizure, warns her by leaning on her legs and even fetches her medicine for her. One day, Bear’s guardian fell during a seizure and was knocked unconscious. Bear reportedly scratched on every door in the neighborhood, but no one answered. Finally, the smart dog spotted an animal-control officer and summoned her for help. “I rescued him. He rescued me,” said Bear’s grateful guardian.

Other dogs plucked from shelters have gone on to sniff out drugs, act as ears for hearing-impaired people and even become movie stars, such as Uggie—the canine star of The Artist—who was passed off by two families before he found a wonderful permanent home. And countless dogs have “rescued” their lucky adopters from depression and loneliness.

Shelters are full of amazing dogs, but there simply aren’t enough homes for all of them. Breeders, pet stores and people who don’t spay or neuter their animals worsen this crisis, because every new puppy means one home fewer for the dogs still waiting in shelters.

We can help change that by opting to adopt animals from shelters instead of buying them from breeders or pet stores and always having them sterilized. Whether you’re looking for a playful pup or an affectionate adult who is already housetrained, you’re sure to find the perfect dog in a shelter. Adoption fees are far lower than what pet stores and breeders charge, and they usually include the cost of spaying or neutering, microchipping, deworming and vaccinations.

Best of all, adopting saves a life. And who knows? It might even save yours one day.

A holiday message from Deb at “Autocats”

As you gather this holiday season to spend time with friends and family and your own beloved furry family members, take just a moment to think of those dogs and cats who sit alone and unwanted, with just the barest of necessities.

Gather up some old blankets and towels, maybe grab an extra bag of treats or food or a few toys when you’re out shopping and take that few extra minutes to drop them at your local animal shelter. You can do this anytime of the year, but at this special time of love and caring and sharing, please, take just those few extra minutes and make this holiday a little more special for a few lonely shelter animals.

Or make a small donation to a wonderful charity such as “ Mel’s Stray Cat Fund.” Based out of Weymouth Landing Cat Clinic and Hotel, phone number 781-337-0400. Money raised gives good Samaritans the option of seeking care for an injured or sick cat, rather then relinquishment to a shelter for euthanasia. The fund was started in memory of Mel who was found many years ago after a house fire, alone and very sick. She was a stray who paid back her rescue with many years of love and loyalty to her rescuers.

And take a minute or two to share this with friends and family, spread the word, spread the message. Every little bit of help counts! Share the love every day but most especially now!

Happy Holidays to humans and their furry family members!

– Deb

WARL’s director on Worcester’s proposed pitbull muzzling ordinance

By Allie Simone, Acting Director, Worcester Animal Rescue League

The Worcester Animal Rescue League has received considerable feedback from the public in response to Monday’s T&G article regarding the proposed muzzling ordinance. Clients, volunteers, WARL supporters and county residents are deeply concerned about the negative impact such an ordinance will have. Should this ordinance come to pass, we are certain that many dogs will be abandoned and consequently seized in record numbers.

And, where will they go? There is no official, city-financed “dog pound” in Worcester. The only facility in the city capable of accepting lost or abandoned animals is the Worcester Animal Rescue League. The Worcester Animal Rescue League is a private, non-profit, limited intake animal shelter, accepting pets only when space is available; Adoptable pets are not euthanized because of time or space constraints. This is our firm policy, and we have worked hard to make this a positive reality for the homeless animals of Worcester County. The Worcester Animal Rescue League currently has only 96 kennels for dogs and 41 cages for cats, plus a very limited number of foster home caregivers. On average, the WARL receives over 2,600 homeless animals each year. And, in the current economy, adoption rates have dropped while surrender rates have climbed.

We are very concerned that the City Council has not thought through the ramifications of the passing of this ordinance. Animal control officers were not consulted. County shelter administrators were not conferred with. What will happen to the numerous pit bulls, pit bull crosses and others mistakenly identified as pit bulls, all of which the city finds itself newly in possession of?

The Worcester Animal Rescue League values the long standing relationship it has built with the City of Worcester. However, it is not currently held by a contract to accept impounded dogs found in Worcester. If this ordinance passes, the Worcester Animal Rescue League will no longer accept dogs from Worcester. The dedicated staff and supporters have worked too hard and advanced the organization too far in the quality of care given to its animals to suddenly reverse our no-kill, limited intake policies. This ordinance would be asking us to take a giant step backwards, becoming once again a kill shelter. We wish to be very clear: The Worcester Animal Rescue League will have no part in euthanizing dogs or any other animal due to breed discrimination.

We all know that each animal is an individual. The staff and volunteers at the Worcester Animal Rescue League care for thousands of animals each year (including many wonderful pit bulls, which happily find forever homes throughout the county and beyond) and do not believe in discriminating against a specific breed of animal. What’s more, most animal behaviorists agree that humans are the cause of the vast majority of behavior issues.

Alternatively to the City Council’s proposed plan, the Worcester Animal Rescue League believes establishing a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance for pit bulls would be a much more effective program. We are convinced that a muzzling ordinance in Worcester will ultimately fail. Why? Muzzling does not prohibit breeding; what it does do is make a dog look more intimidating, which only satisfies the social/cultural needs of irresponsible owners who use the dogs as a status symbol.

According to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), 75% of dog bites are caused by intact (that is, unneutered) male dogs. It is no wonder than that a proactive bite prevention program begins with a stricter enforcement of spay/neuter practices. This is simply common sense.

The Worcester Animal Rescue League has nearly 100 years of experience in such matters, and it welcomes members of our community and the Worcester City Council to tour the shelter, meet the staff and new director, and visit with all the great pets waiting for a home. Additionally, The Worcester Animal Rescue League hopes to work collaboratively with the City of Worcester in developing practical pet ordinances that serve all residents (both two and four-legged) of our community.

Just a few fab pups and kitties ready to be adopted at WARL!

Biscotti is a young domestic short hair cat that is tiger and white.
Poor Biscotti was abandoned by her family. Thank goodness she is here now, in a safe place, while she waits for someone to fall in love and take her home. She’s a lovely girl who likes people, though she appreciates having “me time” to spend doing secret cat things. She would prefer a home without dogs; she thinks they’re too loud and silly. Come on down to meet this pretty girl today!

Caterpillar is a domestic long hair dilute calica.I’m Caterpillar. I was pregnant when I came to the shelter. I gave birth to 6 kittens on May 2 during the shelter’s big yard sale. I’m a quiet cat. Sometimes people don’t hear me talking to them, so I’ll get on their laps or onto a counter to get their attention. Continue reading Just a few fab pups and kitties ready to be adopted at WARL!