Thursday, January 7, 2010

Some Things I Wish Our Clients Knew

I answered the phones yesterday afternoon at the Shelter. I am a volunteer, not a County employee. We had a particularly challenging run of clients, on the phones and in the lines at the clinic front desk.

Here are some things I wish our clients knew:

1. The County does not provide comprehensive veterinarian services. Our "clinic" is to a Vet's office as the Redi-Clinic at the grocery store is to a primary care doctor, with even more limitations. We dispense shots at low-cost as a courtesy service to residents. We dispense a variety of medicines to our adopters to combat symptoms of illnesses in recently adopted or fostered animals. We do not have any way to offer bloodwork, full exams, or even fecal smears. We aren't deliberately trying to deny your animal services, it's just not feasible.

2. The Shelter is not a Pet Store. We rarely have full tabs on our "inventory." Even if I have done a complete walk-through, I cannot accurately say whether we have any Pomeranians, Yorkies or Siamese cats. The facility covers nearly an acre, with at least 80 dogs in each of the three adoption rooms. There are approximately 500-600 animals--cats, dogs, puppies, and kittens--in our system at any time. The only thing I can recommend to phone shoppers is to visit us.

3. Unfortunately, I cannot help you find your lost pet over the phone. I cannot put you on hold and go look for your black and white cat--we probably have at least 20 black and white cats. Nor can I leave the phone and go look for your Lab mix. We have three hundred Lab mixes. You need to come to the Shelter personally, preferably with a couple good photos of your pet, and do a full walk-through with a staff person or volunteer. You also need to know that we are not the only animal facility in the area. Trying to find a lost pet is a frustrating task that requires you to do on-site visits. If you pet is lost, YOU have to be the advocate.

4. If you adopted or fostered an animal from us, or if you are interested in a particular animal, please, please have the paperwork in front you when you call. I can help you better if you have the animal's ID number, which is sometimes called a kennel number. It is on your paperwork and it is displayed on the kennels. Names change, genders are entered incorrectly, and the computer will only access an animal by its ID number.

5. I DO care about our animals. I am not trying to avoid serving you. However, I rarely have the answer to any question more complicated that our address right at my fingertips. Please be patient, and know that I am doing my best when I say, "Good afternoon, Montgomery County Animal Shelter."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Atticus Unchained

Atticus Unchained
Originally uploaded by Calsidyrose
Atticus is going home--to a new home, a forever home. Removed from the Shelter, after facing certain death to severe decline (see "Saving Atticus," September 11, 2009), Atticus is on his way from Houston to a new home in upstate New York.

He joined a convoy of 90 animals, mostly Labradors and Lab mixes, bound from Texas, where the hunting culture produces untold numbers of Lab puppies, to the Northern U.S., where Labs are in high demand but rare in shelters. He'll be adopted by a family who has been thoroughly interviewed, and who will pay a fee that covers his transportation costs.

Here in Texas, Atticus will be greatly missed by his foster Mom and her Husky, Togo. During his confinement for heartworm treatment, Atticus blossomed, gaining weight, growing sleek, and regaining the loving gleam in his eye. He is everything that people adore about Labs: shiny, sturdy, friendly and eager to please. He will be missed by those of us who saw the diamond personality hidden under his dull sooty coat as he hunkered, hacking and shivering, in a dank kennel, but we know he'll find the love and good care that he so much deserves.

Godspeed, Atticus!

Artwork by C. B.