Friday, October 16, 2009

Shelter Dogs Head to Aggieland

Texans take their college rivalries seriously—the faithful alumni “bleed” orange (UT Longhorns), maroon (Texas A&M), or scarlet (Texas Tech). We have slogans with hand signals: Hook ‘em Horns; Gig ‘em, and Guns Up! Our mascots are animals: Bevo the brown and white Longhorn, Reveille the collie (who is the highest ranking Cadet), and Midnight Matador the coal black quarter horse (ridden by the Masked Rider). And a “House Divided” is one where one child attends A&M and the other attends Texas Tech.

My son is a junior at Texas Tech, but I have to give a big kudos to those Texas Aggies. Yesterday, our Shelter embarked on a new program—thanks to the connections of our Off-Site Adoption Team Leader—we are sending the first round of 10 female dogs to the Vet School at Texas A&M in College Station (70 miles north of our Shelter) where the dogs will be fully vetted and spayed as part of the school’s hands-on training program. If not adopted by the students or staff in Aggieland, the dogs will be returned to our Shelter, where we will find them homes. The University covers the costs for all aspects of their involvement.

I spent yesterday at the Shelter, helping Dr. Ryan, our Director and Veternarian select and prep the dogs. We focused on adoptable dogs from the Blue Room. We also tried to select a mix of fairly healthy dogs in order to boost their chances for placement through their exposure at the University . This task was harder than it sounds.

We have mostly Black Lab mixes, and many of our dogs are badly infected by mange. Others are heartworm positive. And a disturbing number of our current dogs are heavily pregnant. While we crouched in front of the kennels—me holding the quivering dogs while Dr. Ryan pulled the blood samples for the SNAP heartworm tests—a stoic American Staffordshire was giving birth to a litter of puppies in a kennel shrouded with a blanket to give the birthing mom a little privacy.

When I peeked in on the dog, she had eight tiny puppies of all different colors, each about the size and just as floppy as Beanie Babies. She was licking the tiny pups clean of afterbirth and gave me a serious eye.

Meanwhile, we worked up kennel cards for each of our 10 females—we did the heartworm tests and gave vaccinations, and in some cases gave names to dogs that had none. An air-conditioned van will come from the University to fetch the dogs and those who aren’t selected by adopters will be returned next week. Small medical complaints will have been addressed and the dogs will be clean and well-rested, and the next 10 dogs will head out to College Station. Meanwhile, we now have 10 slots in the Blue Room for new dogs. This is a good thing because we’re overloaded with incoming animals.

So to the Vets at Aggieland, I gladly give a “Guns Up!” Thanks, Aggies, for giving our dogs a second chance!

Photos of Texas College Mascots courtesy of the Interwebs

Thursday, October 1, 2009

This Time “Girl” Deserves a Real Home

I remember when “Girl” arrived at the Shelter. She is a hound mix, with a docked tail and butterscotch colored spots. An owner-surrender, “Girl” was quickly adopted because she was healthy, well behaved, and housebroken.

However, two weeks ago, she was returned to the Shelter in horrible shape. Now skin issues are very common here in humid Southeast Texas (I’m battling rough spots on my Miniature Pinscher’s ear right now with a steroid cream). But “Girl” is red and raw all over. Click on the photo to see the rawness on her ears, elbows, hindquarters and inner legs.

How on earth can someone let a dog get to this point? Can they just not see her discomfort? Her raw skin and the bloody red scratches? This is mange complicated by secondary infection.

“Girl” is being treated at the Shelter, and we’re hoping to get her into a foster home so she can recover more quickly. She’s made tremendous strides in just two weeks. The Shelter Vet estimates “Girl” needs another month before she’ll be ready for adoption. Amazingly, her spirit hasn’t been crushed. “Girl” is a sweet dog, who craves attention. She deserves far better than she’s had.

In the chaos of the Intake line, there is no telling what happened to the former adopters—at this point, the County doesn’t allocate much in the way of resources to prosecute animal cases like this. The Shelter volunteers have rallied around “Girl,” and we’re going to make sure that t once “Girl” is out of the shelter that she never goes back.

Photo by Linda Monk.