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Local Feature

ITS RAINING CATS
AND DOGS!

words by CONNI Delinger
images by Frankie Leal

The issue of managing stray and abandoned animals is a political hot potato right now, since the CCSPCA ended its contract with the City and County of Fresno on October 1st. The portion of the contract affected pertains to the picking up of stray/abandoned/injured animals in the City and County, and the care and emergency veterinary services provided them. The CCSPCA will continue to offer adoptions, low-cost spay & neuter services, and to accept owner-surrendered animals.
As stated in published figures, Fresno County processed almost 50,000 stray cats, dogs, and other animals through the CCSPCA in 2010, the latest year for which statistics are available. This ranks Fresno County as fourth in the state. Of these 50,000 animals, almost 35,000 were euthanized, unfortunately ranking the County fourth highest in the state in this category, as well, and placing the CCSPCA at odds with local animal rescue groups.

According to The Big Fix website, pit bulls and Chihuahuas are the most prevalent breeds in the local shelters and, therefore, are the most likely to be targeted for euthanasia.

Of course, a huge component of this problem is the failure of pet owners to spay and neuter their pets, and to take responsibility for their care. Cats and dogs can get pregnant at as young as six months of age. Gestation for each lasts about 64 days.

Cats average three to five kittens per litter, but can have even larger litters. Depending on the breed, dogs can have three to ten puppies at a time.

The litter record – a whopping 24 puppies – is held by a Nap Mastiff! Few people would be prepared for a litter of ten kittens or twenty-four Mastiff puppies!

One needs no calculator to realize the massive numbers of offspring that just a few non-spayed/neutered cats and dogs can create every few months. Signs and notices for “free kittens” can be found on telephone poles and on grocery store bulletin boards in every neighborhood. These ads are for the offspring of cats and dogs that are backyard pets, not the ferals and strays that procreate non-stop.

In most of the towns in Fresno County, there are private non-profit no-kill organizations which rescue these animals and find homes for them. Some specialize in a particular animal or breed, such as Fresno Bully Rescue for pit bulls, bull terriers, and Mastiffs, or The Cat House on the Kings in Parlier (which does take dogs, too).
Pawsitive Connections, started by Doolittle’s Pet Grooming owner Kelly Okland, tries to match the animal with a “special needs” person, thus making a two-fold difference. On a given day, Kelly has everything from a Great Dane to a teacup specialty dog.

P.R.O.U.D (Pet Rescue Of Unwanted Dogs), founded and run by Marilyn Lofgren in Kingsburg, specializes in smaller breeds. However, when I found myself with a Dobie-Rott I could no longer keep, she took him and contacted a Doberman rescue group.

Fresno Bully Rescue specializes in “bully dogs” – pit bulls, bulldogs, Mastiffs, etc. Fresno Bully Rescue Director Bridget Booth says they have about 45 dogs at all times, the dogs “stay till they are adopted” and they cannot take in a new one until one leaves (I am going to go see if I can create a couple vacancies later this week!). Last year, they had 120 adoptions; as of Sept. 1st this year, they have had over 80 adoptions.

The high kill-rate in Fresno County is of great concern to these private groups, as well, and they work hard to save animals from euthanasia at the CCSPCA. Often, they will take the animal just in the nick of time before they are killed. All of these organizations depend on volunteers to transport and foster the animals, often in their own homes. They train them, provide for and nurture them, and show them what a loving environment is like.

Adoptions from the CCSPCA and the private rescue groups all include spay/neutering (by State law), at least some of the shots and, usually, a locator microchip. Some, like Fresno Bully Rescue, include a month of free pet health insurance or other enticements in the adoption fee.

Adoption fees vary by agency and by the type of animal. At the CCSPCA, dogs under the age of six years are $125; older dogs are $80. If the dog was neutered prior to being picked up by CCSPCA, the fee is $60. Kittens are $80 and are “BOGO” – buy one, get one free! Cats ages 5 months to 5 years are $30, and cats over six years of age are free.

At the Fresno Bully Rescue, puppies are $225, adults are $175, and dogs older than six years are $125. With rescue groups, however, the difference is far more than the cost – these dogs have been cared for like pets, not like just strays. Most rescue groups offer an “it’s not a good fit” return policy, such as a week or ten days. After all, they don’t the want the animal to turn into a stray again, either.

Of the fifteen-plus dogs I have owned thus far in my lifetime, all but two have been strays or rescues. One purebred Rhodesian ridgeback died of lung cancer at 1-1/2 years old, due to in-breeding and over-breeding, according to my veterinarian. The best ones have been rescues – they seem more loving, more loyal and grateful and, after varying periods of adjustment, they seem to settle in with my lifestyle – quite a change from life in a cage or out on the street!

My best dog ever, DeeDee (for “Delinger Dog” or, when she was naughty, “Darned Dog”) was a very unplanned rescue. I took my newspapers to the SPCA the day after Christmas, and was NOT going to get another dog. Well, just a little peek won’t hurt…

The cage’s sign said she was house-trained, car-trained (I travel a lot, so that was very important), loved kids, well-behaved, etc., but did not like loud noises. They did not say that the changing of the dishwasher cycle was considered a loud noise! One can imagine how much she enjoyed the football game cannons and fireworks!

DeeDee was quivering in the corner of the SPCA kennel, terrified by the deafening cacophony of barking pit bulls, German shepherds, and Rottweilers. I asked the attendant if I could take her outside for just a few minutes to give her a break – yeah, right! Next stop: her new home, where she and I enjoyed many wonderful, devoted years until this past summer, when I faced the horrible decision to put her down.

With the holidays approaching, some folks may be considering getting a pet for the family. One huge consideration is the type and size of the pet, the ages of the children in the home, and who is ultimately going to be responsible for its care. It pays to take time, and to do research instead of making a snap decision because “it’s so cu-u-u-te!”. Contact some of the non-profit rescue groups listed below; go to their adoption fairs at local parks or pet stores; visit the CCSPCA – shop more carefully for a pet than you would for a new car! Above all, be a responsible pet owner and help reduce the number of unwanted or stray animals by spaying/neutering your cat and/or dog.

While one might balk at the cost of adopting an animal from CCSPCA or a rescue group, consider the cost of spaying or neutering the animal after you buy it from a neighbor or breeder. My local veterinarian charges $65 for male dogs and $95 for female dogs.

To spay/neuter cats is $40 for males and $70 for females. To do the procedure with laser (faster recovery, no stitches, etc.) is an additional $70. The rescue groups include this service in their adoption fees. In most towns, there is no charge for a dog license if it is spayed/neutered.

Even if you are not in the market for a pet, all of these organizations can still use your help. Pet food, blankets, toys, transport cages, and medical care all cost money – lots of money. Consider making a tax-deductible donation to a qualified non-profit group. Save your newspapers and old towels or rugs for the bottom of cages. If you can’t have pets of your own, you can still get your “puppy fix” in other ways. Volunteer to help at the shelters, offer to do transports or grooming, or just play with the animal to help with their socialization. You get your “fix”, and help the animal, too.

This article took far longer to write than it should have because, as I did research into each no-kill rescue group, I kept getting distracted by the big eyes, slobbering tongues, and beautiful coloring of the dogs – guess who is going to get a new roommate/playmate/furry friend soon?
RESCUE ORGANIZATIONS
Information, and pictures of animals available for adoption from these and many other groups can be found on Petfinders.com.

CCSPCA - Fresno
103 S. Hughes, Fresno • 233-7722
P.R.O.U.D - Kingsburg
info@prouddogs.org • 896-2026
PAWS (Precious Animals Worth Saving) - Fowler
all4pawpaws@yahoo.com
ARF (Animal Rescue of Fresno)
4525 E. Dakota • 225-5715
Pawsitive Connections - Kingsburg
pawsitiveconnections.org • 393-1946

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