Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Meet Christy Hanamaikai - Vet Tech At Utah County Spay & Neuter Clinic

Hey there! My name is Christy Hanamaikai. I have been working for NMHPU as a vet tech for 1.5 years at the Utah County Spay and Neuter Clinic and I absolutely love my job!

I was first introduced to the Spay and Neuter clinic by my cousin who lives up the street from me. I had a dog I needed to get neutered and when I brought him in I had a great experience with the staff and the clinic. Then, a couple of months later I was looking for a new job. I applied to every kind of job I could find for several months, with no success. Then I found the posting for the Spay and Neuter clinic and remembering my great experience with them neutering my dog; I immediately applied for the position. And to my surprise I quickly got an e-mail back to set up an interview. A few days later I got a message from Kalinda saying that they thought I would be a great candidate for the job and would like to talk with me about starting. Then I couldn't get a hold of Kalinda for 3 or four days because the clinic was closed and she was out of town and my imagination went way out of control. Did that message mean that they were going to hire me? Did it mean that it was just a possibility and that if I didn't get a hold of someone they would choose someone else? Should I call Kalinda twelve times a day to make sure she knew I wanted the job? Should I e-mail Holly and figure out why Kalinda was avoiding my calls?

Well, you get the picture. Eventually Kalinda came back from her vacation (I guess she's entitled to those sometimes) and all my stress-filled worrying ended. She offered me a job and I started my love-affair with spaying and neutering.

I love being able to work with the animals and to know that I am helping make a difference in the world. It is great to get the stats and see the difference spaying and neutering can make on the neighborhood. Plus, there is never a dull moment at the clinic. Everyday we have a new story to tell, whether it is animal or client related - we get more than our fair share of characters in there! And the more I work with the Spay and Neuter clinic, the more important it becomes to me to fix as many animals as we can. We see and hear so many cases of neglect or abuse, where people come on hard times and dump their animals at someone else's house, or breeders who only see the money and don't worry about the health of their animals, or clients find an animal that was a victim of abuse and take it into their homes. The clinic offers people a low-cost method to take care of their animals.

It feels good to be a part of an organization that helps so many people. Hopefully it will be a long and fruitful relationship.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Meet Cassandra Mogusar, our new Promotions Director!

I’m Cassandra Mogusar, the new Promotions Director for No More Homeless Pets in Utah. It’s been a busy couple of weeks as I’ve been getting to know the organization and staff, and my role here. I’m very happy to be aboard!

Feral cats have been a love of mine for many years, and No More Homeless Pets in Utah’s feral cat programs are one of the many reasons I feel privileged to take on my new role of Promotions Director for this organization. In my neighborhood, I often end up caring for feral cats and cats that neighbors have left behind. Earlier this week, I was able to accompany our feral cat trapper Jonny Woodward on one of his trapping expeditions, which gave me insight into how our programs work and also made me reminisce about my first up-close encounter with a feral.

My first experience with helping a feral cat came when I lived in Chicago. Walking down an alley at the first of the month, when all the renters who were moving out left their unwanted belongings next to the dumpsters, I heard a cat meow. My partner and I got closer to the dumpster, and a large cat forced his way out of a brand-new cat crate, ran to the door of the apartment building and started crying to get back in. Another smaller cat—an adolescent kitten—was in the bushes, calling to the first cat. We put the situation together: The cat’s people had moved out, leaving their cat by the trash in the hopes that a new family would “adopt” their old pet, and, we assumed, the smaller cat might be the first one’s kitten.

We managed to catch the first cat—who turned out to be a terrified, declawed, neutered male and not a mother at all—but the second one was wily. He followed us, hiding underneath cars and darting from bush to bush as we walked home. When we got to the door to our apartment, he ran up to the door in a final decisive burst and sat at my feet. I picked him up, and it was clear he’d never been touched by a human. He didn’t even know how to hold his body as I lifted him off the ground.

I looked him over; he was covered in burns and scars, evidence of a rough life on the street. I took both him and the other cat to the vet the next day. Though the older cat received a clean bill of health, the kitten was FIV positive—and the vet suggested that we euthanize him since he was just a street cat. We had different ideas, though, and adopted him into our cat family, naming him Rudy.

Over the weeks, we watched him learn how to be an indoor cat and how to trust people. He was always appreciative of the things we gave him; even his first litter box was received with a sense of happy exploration. A cat ever appreciative of the little joys in life, he lived with us in good health for six years, until he passed away peacefully at home, succumbing to cancer. A few months after he passed away, my partner designed a memorial tattoo of him, which a feral-loving artist tattooed on my arm. My tattoo now serves to spark many discussions about Rudy and about feral cats.

I know that Rudy was a special type of feral cat — ferals rarely choose to adopt a family like Rudy adopted us. But he’s a reminder to me that all of the feral cats out there are individuals just as much as are the cats with human families who love them.

Accompanying Jonny on his rounds showed me that there are a number of people with a special place in their hearts for free-roaming cats in the Salt Lake area, and made me even more committed to No More Homeless Pets in Utah’s mission. I’m looking forward to working with our fantastic staff, volunteers and other animal lovers throughout Utah to help improve the lives of Utah’s feral cats, and to end the euthanasia of homeless cats and dogs across the state.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cats vs. Dog? Why not both?

In the animal world you'll find people that label themselves as a "cat person" or a "dog person". I always thought I was a "dog person". When I moved into a house, I adopted two dogs: Zoey and Maggie. It never really crossed my mind to adopt a cat.

When I started working at No More Homeless Pets in Utah, I decided to foster two cats named Tomas and Monk. My husband Shane was a bit nervous about our two new visitors. We both were never around cats, so we didn't know what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised to find that Tomas and Monk were very sweet and lovable. Tomas was adopted pretty quickly and we decided to adopt Monk. Since then, we have adopted three more cats: Lemon, Jemaine and Franny. They are the best; we couldn't imagine our family without them. I am now a cat person and a dog person.

I encourage you to foster or adopt a cat. Remember to leave your cat assumptions at the door. I think people can forget that cats, just like dogs, have all different types of personalities. Find the animal that fits your personality and family. Two of my cats are really social and my other two are a bit shy, but are just as lovable. I encourage you to be open-minded when thinking of our feline friends; you might surprise yourself.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Friends Come In All Shapes & Sizes

When I spend time with friends we usually have food and beverages complementing our spirited conversations. We will talk about the weather, work, movies, books, ex- partners, current partners, parents, siblings, restaurants, music, school, dogs and cats. Well those last two are mostly mentioned by me and perhaps two or three other pet caretakers. I have had many cats and a few dogs in my 28 years of age. They are all part of my life’s story, and for that reason they are a significant part of my contribution to chats with my friends. The animals I care for are family. They share my days with me, they witness me study, stress, relax, laugh and cook. They know my mannerisms better than some of my said friends; of course I’m going to bring them up in conversation.

The past few months my partner has been working evening shifts, so we see each other for two hours or so before hitting the sack and for an hour or so in the morning before I head to work. A lot of our correspondence is a phone call here and there throughout the day or an email sometimes. Milton our adorable cat is always part of these calls and emails. Whether it’s “Aw cute you should see where Milton decided to sleep right now!” or “How’s Milton been all day today, is he hyper? Crabby?” “Hey Milton puked again, any idea what it might be?” “I’m going grocery shopping, think we should try some different litter for Milton?” “I wish I could bring Milton to work with me, I miss him on my lap.” And so on. From time to time it gets bothersome to not see my partner as much as I’d like, but I find that having Milton be there while I’m at work is comforting. Or if I go out of town I think of how Milton is doing a wonderful job of being soothing company. He takes care of us as much as we take care of him.

My 82 year old grandmother lives with my parents. She is in relatively good health and can talk human and animal ears off alike. In 2005 our family lab of 9 years past away suddenly, at the time I was living 40 minutes from my parents home. My grandmother never calls me because I visit every Sunday, but when Lucky, our lab, died she started calling me once a week, not to talk about Lucky, just to talk. I realized that Lucky was her friend, her ear to chat to, and now that he was gone I got a phone call once a week. Of course not two weeks went by where I had made my way to the shelter and adopted an animal. My parents had a new cat and my grandmother stopped calling me.

I’m lucky to have a job where I interact with cats and dogs daily. I’m lucky to witness cats and dogs being companions to children, teens, adults and elders. I’m lucky to be in a position to help individuals better the health of their furry friends. I’m lucky to be surrounded with co-workers who are a best friend to a dog or cat. I’m lucky to know how much love and camaraderie an animal can bestow.

Thank you to all of you out there who give your time and money to animal welfare all over the globe. You are not only saving a life, you are saving a friend.

Andrea Torre
Free Fix Director

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pet Safety Tips for Halloween

Fall is a magical time of the year with the crisp air and the crunchy leaves under your feet. I love watching the seasons change with a cup of hot cider and a warm blanket to snuggle under. Since Halloween is my favorite holiday I enjoy getting into the spooky spirit of it all!

This year I decided to combine my love of Halloween with my passion for helping animals. So a few weeks ago we had the “Halloween Howler,” a festive fundraiser for NMHPU. It was quite an exciting evening and I think everyone had a great time. Guests and pets came dressed up in a variety of theme costumes including a complete Wizard of Oz family, a mail man dog with his 2 human letters, and some matching cheese head fans. No one held back for this occasion.

Every year I dress up Charlie and Sassy (my 2 small doggie companions) in costumes as well. They never seem thrilled at the idea but they love getting to go places. So it is a good compromise.

Now at stores there is a huge assortment of fun costumes available to get your pet into character. I am always amazed at the creativity that goes into designing them. But there are some things to consider when selecting a costume besides just what we think will look cute.

Make sure their costume is comfortable. We don’t like to wear uncomfortable things, so don’t force them to. It should not constrict or block their vision, breathing, or hearing. Also select a costume that does not have small chewable pieces to prevent choking. Try the costume on your pet before Halloween to make sure you pet is not stressed out in any way.

No matter how cute they look in their costumes, making them suffer is not worth it. Over all the costume should be safe and pleasant for them. You would not want them to get snagged or caught on anything that could result in an accident.

When it is time to attend Halloween parties or hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, keep your furry friends in mind. Strangers in costumes can be scary and stress out your pet, especially if they are constantly knocking on your door. It is best to keep all pets in a separate room so they are not so stressed out. Also this will help prevent your pet from darting out the door when candy is being handed out. If taking your pet to other Halloween parties always keep them on a leash just to make sure they don’t get startled and run off.

As an extra precaution, make sure your pet’s tags and microchips are always current. There is nothing sadder then a lost pet never finding their way home again simply because they didn’t have current identification!! So make sure you are looking out for pets ahead of time.

Treats are always fun to eat and share! What is Halloween without a bunch of teeth rotting goddies? But they are not good for our furry friends, so please keep them away from them. Chocolate in just about any form can make your pet sick with vomiting and diarrhea. Also candy wrappers and artificial sweeteners can be poisonous for cats and dogs. They will beg, but don’t be a sucker and give into those cute faces no matter how persuasive they are!

I love to decorate my house and go all out for Halloween. But I always have to consider my pets at home. Pumpkins or decorative corn can cause gastro-intestinal problems, so don’t leave those out to be munched on. Fake cobwebs always seem to attract my cats no matter where I place them, so watch out for those. I have learned this one the hard way at the vets office. Keep wires and cords out of reach also. One little nibble could shock a pet or even be fatal. Candles can also be a safety concern, so keep them is a safe place where a tail won’t catch on fire!

Pet safety doesn’t have to be a nightmare and you can still have a spooktacular good time! Just remember if celebrating with your furry monsters planning ahead will help create a safe holiday.

Happy Halloween!!

-Maranda Hawkes
Volunteer Director

Monday, October 26, 2009

Holly's Thoughts on Animal People and the Current Political Climate

I've been hearing some political pundits ask the question of late "Why are Americans becoming more outspokenly critical, snarky, and nasty in their opposition to a view other than their own?" A variety of opinions are bandied about: perhaps it is the popularization of shows featuring the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Gordan Ramsay and Simon Cowell; perhaps it's a racist response to our President; perhaps it's the fact that people can easily and anonymously put their opinions forth on the internet and find power in others who also like to criticize and rant; perhaps it is because the age of journalism ethics is over. I don't claim to have the answers but my thought is "Oh, America is starting to act a bit more like animal people." ("Animal people" meaning those people who work or volunteer helping out companion animals.)

Now before you animal people get highly offended, I am a proud "Animal Person" myself and for years have been making the claim that animal people are no more "crazy" than other people. Why would I even have to make that claim? Because it is true that, as a movement, animal welfare has the reputation for attracting "crazy" people. My own opinion on this is I do believe that persons who may have some social anxieties (like me) are attracted to this movement because, as I hear over and over again "I like animals more than I like people." Well sure, animals can never say things they may regret later; animals cannot offend, criticize, or belittle....it sure does make them easy to love. The problem is, you can only do so much to help animals without engaging and working closely with people.

I do believe that the rest of the population can learn a lesson from us animal people who haven't been getting along with each other for years before Rush Limbaugh. The lesson is you don't have to agree with someone but if you really want to advance your cause, you'd better learn to deal respectfully with those holding opposing views. And you'd better learn to prove your point using something more than hollow criticisms and a holier-than-thou attitude.

Recently I received an anonymous letter from someone who felt No More Homeless Pets in Utah was "evil" for spaying pregnant animals, accusing us of having no respect for life. A paragraph later this person then proceeded to criticize us for NOT killing adult feral cats. Apparently the value of life, in their view, was only afforded the unborn cats rather than cats already alive. My first response was "well, this person is freaking crazy," but then when I really thought about it I found I could have compassion for their viewpoint. I didn't agree with it but I could respect it. However I could not respect the malicious tone nor abide the angry rant. Had they signed the letter I could have replied thus:

None of us enjoy the thought of spaying a pregnant animal, and certainly we are all striving for the day in which we can not only save the already born, but the unborn as well. Sadly, that day has not come, and so we must go into shelters, choosing some and leaving others who will inevitably be euthanized. It is not the shelter’s fault, it is not our fault, and we do the best we can to rescue as many as we can. In light of that dilemma we do spay pregnant animals. We certainly respect other organizations who choose to let a late-term pregnant animal have it’s babies and care for them until they are weaned, fix them along with the mother before adoption and responsibly place them. They may use up resources that could have been used to save double the number of animals already in shelters and already born, but we respect their important niche in animal welfare. We don’t criticize them simply because they choose to save lives in a way different than we do.

As long as animals are dying in shelters, this ethical dilemma will be present. Who do we save? Having mutual respect for shelter workers, veterinarians, breed enthusiasts and other rescue agencies all implementing various life-saving programs close to their own hearts is critical if we want to work together to solve this problem.

Holly Sizemore
Executive Director

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nikita the Akita Needs A Loving Home

Meet Nikita - the Akita with attitude!

Nikita is a 4 ½ year old Akita. She is a very special dog and has been with us for quite some time. Nikita was pulled off of the euthanasia list from the Humane Society after spending her time there with no adopters in sight. When Nikita first came to us, she was a bit stand-off-ish for the first little bit. Once she warmed up to us, we saw she was such a sweetheart.

Nikita is a typical Akita who displays all of the Akita traits. She is very independent, protective of her owner and stubborn at times but has so much love to offer. Nikita bonds very closely with people, but true to her breed, she is a one person dog. Akitas like to take charge - an inherited trait from their wolf ancestry - and may at some time challenge you for the dominant position. She is very smart, almost too smart for her own good. She loves to play with people as they are a member of her pack. Nikita wants to be the only animal in the house, once again, a trait true to her breed. She is a great companion, for the right person. She needs a strong handler who can be the leader of the pack, someone who is familiar with Akitas and no kids under 14.

The adoptions team and many volunteers have grown very close to Nikita and enjoy our time with her, but we are so excited for her to find her forever home! She is an amazing dog who deserves a second chance in a loving home.

If you or someone you know can offer her a home, please email adopt@utahpets.org or call 801-577-5616.

-Amber Randall
Adoption Coordinator

Monday, October 12, 2009

What My Cat Has Taught Me About Life

After a recent trip to visit my family in California, my mom showed me a book she had picked up especially for me: What My Cat Taught Me About Life by Niki Anderson

Author Niki Anderson offers a witty account of life in the eyes of our favorite feline friends. This book gives the reader little gems of personal meditations, real-life cat stories, little-known cat facts, and kitty wisdom.

As I flipped through the book, I couldn’t help but wonder what my own cat had taught me about life. Bootsie, my 14-year old long-haired tuxedo, is a diva in all sense of the word. Her big emerald eyes can definitely get her point across and if that doesn’t work, she’ll let you know her opinion with a soprano-like meow you just can’t ignore. Although her attitude may have given her a diva reputation, she’s never failed to be there for me through the most important points in my life. Meeting me at the door when I came home from my first day of junior high. Sitting on the bathroom counter while I got ready for my prom. Chasing my computer mouse while I filled out college applications. The most cherished moments in my life will always share a thought with Bootsie. She has taught me to keep calm and collected in times of stress, but never be afraid to take a swipe at anyone who might try to bring me down. She’s taught me that naps in the sunlight are great and that my mom’s old quilt is the best thing to sleep on. She’s taught me that looks can be deceiving and to always give people the benefit of the doubt. She’s taught me that patience is truly a virtue and the best friends are the ones who will be there for you through anything.

I loved this book. I’d definitely recommend it for any cat lover who may need reminding just how much our cats (and all pets) teach us about life.

-Brianne Olsen
Promotions Director

Monday, September 21, 2009

Semi-Annual Report Is In....How Are We Doing?

The semi-annual report for 2009 is here and with it some numbers that are sad but also some that are a reason to feel hopeful.

As we all know, the economy is taking its toll on everyone. And the number of dogs and cats coming into shelters and rescue organizations shows it. People losing their homes can’t take their pet friends with them, they can’t afford to sterilize them or even care for them at all. When times are financially rough, sadly, a lot of times the animals are the first to go…

Here are the numbers for the first six months of 2009 for the state of Utah. The results combine the numbers of Utah’s shelters with those of rescue organizations & clinics participating in our programs:

• Intake: 37,934 dogs & cats
• Euthanasia: 14,949 dogs & cats
• Adoptions: 11,658 dogs & cats
• spayed & neutered: 15,181 dogs & cats

Even though the intake of dogs is slightly higher than cats (by about 500), the euthanasia number for cats is almost three times as high as for dogs. More dogs are adopted out, and far more are returned to their owners than cats are.

Maybe you are familiar with the e-metric. It measures the number of animals euthanized per 1,000 population. 5.0 for dogs & cats combined is considered ‘no-kill’. Ten years ago, when No More Homeless Pets in Utah started, the e-metric in Utah was at 21.6. The lowest e-metric for Utah since then was 12.3 in 2007. It went up to 13.3 in 2008, but during the first part of 2009 it went down again to 12.9.

So we are doing better than last year!! And we are hoping that we will continue on this trend: compared to the first six months of 2008, about 1,300 fewer animals were taken in, and about 1,000 fewer were euthanized. We’ve had more adoptions this year and more animals were fixed which is where it all starts…

There is one more important thing I wanted to mention: over the years the dog situation in Utah has improved significantly from 10.0 in 1999 to 3.0 now. This is fantastic!! But for cats it is very different, it only went down from 11.6 in 1999 to 9.9. I really do hope that we can turn this around for cats as well!! Erin wrote a wonderful blog about that!! And with your help I am sure we can!! Please get your cat or dog fixed to reduce the number of animals, and especially cats being born and ending up in shelters and rescue organizations!! Please help save their lives!!

Ellen Welsh
Statistics Coordinator

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Erin Says Goodbye

It's very hard to say goodbye to No More Homeless Pets in Utah after eight years but I feel so lucky to have been a part of this great organization. I have accepted a position with Best Friends Animal Society and though it's an exciting opportunity to work on their four national campaigns, it was a very difficult decision to make.
I have been with No More Homeless Pets in Utah since almost the beginning and it's been an exciting journey. Thank you for being there through the good and challenging times. You are the foundation of what we do. Your donations, volunteer hours and words of encouragement keep No More Homeless Pets in Utah going.

I will miss all my amazing co-workers as well as all the volunteers, members and media folks who have become good friends. And my days won't be the same without the office kitties and their crazy antics in the rafters above.

You have all been such an inspiration. I have never met so many people so willing to give of themselves. I love all the wonderful emails and stories you have sent me over the years and I will really miss that connection. I feel like I know many of you even though we have never met in person. I know we share a bond of love and concern for Utah's homeless animals.

The staff here has an incredible work ethic and a passion for animal welfare that's unparalleled. With that kind of energy and dedication, it's just fun to go to work. I am proud to have been a part of such a diverse group of deeply compassionate people who work so hard each day to save the lives of Utah's homeless dogs and cats. I have so many wonderful memories to take with me.

Thanks to your unwavering support and dedication to the animals, I know No More Homeless Pets in Utah will continue to do great things in communities across the state. I'm excited to transition into a No More Homeless Pets in Utah volunteer and I hope to see you at the next event!

-Erin Fell
PR Director

Monday, July 27, 2009

Why is Holly Riding the Bitter Bus?

I admit it, I've been on the bitter bus lately. Perhaps it is due to the fact that the summer is the height of kitten season and everyone's stressed to the gills trying to save as many as we can. Or perhaps I'm losing my ability to deal with the public at large since now most of my time is spent being an administrator compared to 2 years ago when I was out there in the trenches.

I've always held the belief that we can end the killing of cats and dogs by:

1. Giving people access to services they may not otherwise have access to. The Free Fix program is the perfect example. It is a proven fact that low-income populations contribute greatly to pet overpopulation because they don't have neutered pets. For years people claimed that this population was "irresponsible" but we now know that many low-income families simply can't afford to fix their pets. The Free Fix program is in huge demand and we are now being forced to reduce our Free Fix services due to the demand for service outpacing our resources. Yet the demand for service proves that many of these people aren't in fact "irresponsible", they simply have a financial barrier which prevents them from fixing their pets.

2. Educating people about the basics of pet overpopulation. If just 1/3 of Americans who acquired pets from a pet store or backyard breeder (and by this I mean any person who allows their pets to breed) instead chose to adopt from a shelter or rescue group, we would no longer have to kill pets in America. This is why it is so important that we spread the word how cool it is to adopt and quite frankly how lame it is to get an animal from your neighbor who bred their pet or from a pet store who likely is supplied by horrific puppy mills. Educate!

3. Punish, yes I do believe in punitive measure as a means to end unnecessary killing, but only when access to services and education have failed. I do support mandatory spay/neuter laws but only if no and low-cost spay/neuter options are available to help people comply without undue burden. I don't like to think punitive measure would be necessary but I have encountered a number of people lately who simply want to breed their dog, for selfish and silly reasons, and who still want to breed them after hearing all the compelling reasons why a responsible, ethical person should opt instead for spay/neuter.

I will eventually get off the bitter bus because I am also witness to the amazing work on behalf of our donors, our communities, and animal welfare advocates who inspire me everyday and who really are making a difference. But today I am still riding that bus.

-Holly Sizemore
Executive Director

Monday, July 20, 2009

Everybody Loves Aisha

Aisha is your typical four year old. Playful, affectionate, active, and loves to watch t.v., Animal Planet is her favorite channel. She mastered potty-training years ago, plays well with some friends, pouts when she doesn't get her way, is pretty gregarious most of the time and prefers to be an only child at home. She is 100 pounds of kisses and hugs, oh wait, did I mention she is an American Staffordshire Terrier?

Our adoptions department comes across many dogs and cats that are looking for loving homes. This is Aisha's story: The Ogden Animal Shelter staff hugged and thanked us as we were taking Aisha into our adoption program. With tears of happiness in their eyes, they bent down to give Aisha one more bear hug. As we walked the smiling Aisha jumped into the car as if she knew we were going to find her a loving family to keep her for the rest of her life.

She stole many hearts there, as she has done with our volunteers, staff and most people who meet her. Aisha has been in our program for a while now, and adopted and unfortunately returned a couple of times.
Once because she was a casualty of divorce, and once because she preferred to be the only female dog. You see, she is the Queen bee of the house, and there can only be one Queen.

Aisha is the most affectionate dog you'll ever meet. She loves to get lots of attention and belly rubs. Aisha gets along with most male dogs, but not females.
She is fine with cats and kids over 7. Aisha is very playful but also enjoys watching T.V. She is a sweet girl who deserves a second chance in a good home.

If you are interested in adopting Aisha, email adopt@utahpets.org.

-Autumn Wagner
Adoptions Program Director

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Week of Feral Thoughts

I've been thinking about feral cats a lot lately so thought I would share my thoughts. In just this past week, I have connected with at least seven different people in regards to ferals and when you start to really think about it, that's pretty amazing. You see, when I first got involved in animal welfare twelve years ago, I had barely even heard the term "feral" let alone explored the complex feral cat issue.

When I began caring for a colony of cats, I had no name for what I was doing, I was just feeding hungry kitties. There was no real TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) movement and the people who fed and eventually fixed the strays behind downtown dumpsters and other similar locations were called "crazy cat ladies". We joke about it now, the idea of being a crazy cat lady, but to be one is kind of an honor. And like every stereotype, there's a nugget of truth that explains the history of this moniker. I can think of several places I lived in where there was an older, often single woman who looked out for neighborhood strays.

Now years later, the face of the "crazy cat lady" has changed. Your neighborhood cat lady may be a world-renowned mountain climber (like our Jonny) or a young mom with twins, or a twenty year-old male college student, or a rough and tumble tavern-owner or the CEO of a large company. In fact, I've met a lot of atypical cat ladies over the last few years but the one thing they all have in common is compassion for these once invisible felines.

This broadening demographic is evidenced by the growing demand for our winter cat shelters. To steal a line from "Field of Dreams" (and slightly modify it) "If you build them, they will come"...we built the shelters and they came in record numbers.
In fact, the last couple winters, there was such a community clamor for our winter cat shelters that we literally ran out. That not only adds up to a lot more warm and dry strays, it also speaks to community compassion and awareness. These days I hear about ferals and wild cat issues all the time and not just because I work in animal welfare.

That thought happened to be on my mind when Monday rolled around and so I decided to take stock of how many times the feral topic came up during an average week.

On Monday, I got a call from a young mom looking to help an injured stray cat that had shown up on her doorstep. The woman's name was Jennifer and she was determined to help this little cat. As we talked about the situation and what could be done, I soon understood the driving force behind her desire to take action. She told me that she was haunted by a similar incident that had happened in her childhood. Years before, an injured cat had shown up on her family's doorstep. She had desperately wanted to help but her father had said to leave the cat alone. The wounded cat died and though she was a child, she absorbed the tragedy. She stated emphatically that she would not let history repeat itself.

Her story is unquestionably sad on so many levels but it also made me realize that minds are changing. More people are recognizing that we as human beings have a responsibility to effect change for the animals that cross our paths. More people are no longer content with turning a blind eye and feel a need to intervene. In the case of feral cats, that intervention can be the difference between life and death.

It calls to mind that great line from Stan Lee's "Spiderman" where Uncle Ben tells Peter Parker, "With great power comes great responsibility."
When it comes to animals, mankind holds the power but it shouldn't be about power but rather about co-existing with respect. Sadly, we have a history of poor choices when it comes to animals. Instead of being responsible stewards, our choices have allowed for pet overpopulation, factory farming, endangered species and so many more shameful realities.

So when Jennifer says that she won't let history repeat itself, I think she speaks for many of us who wish we had been allowed different choices, made better decisions or fostered other outcomes in the past.
Her words signal hope that maybe we're moving forward in our collective thinking and real change may be on the horizon when it comes to how we as a society treat our animals. So if you believe what Ghandi said about that being a measure of our humanity, things are looking up.

Ok back to the week at hand. On Tuesday, I went to help my friend Elaine trap some feral kittens that someone she knew had spotted in their neighborhood. The person who contacted Elaine didn't want to call animal control because he was worried that "wild" kittens wouldn't be adoptable and that left animal services and the kittens without many options. For me, this was one more indication that the public is listening when it comes to animal issues and they are more willing to seek out alternative solutions. I should add that with more shelters nationwide implementing feral cat partnerships, more citizens are now willing and able to do their own feral cat interventions and that's progress.

In between Tuesday and today, I happened to field a couple calls about wild strays and feral cat vouchers because Daye was out of the office.
Since I don't really believe in coincidences, that made me wonder if those calls were more than just another example of increased awareness.
It started me thinking about what amazing changes could take place with a broader understanding of animal welfare initiatives.

And that brings me to Thursday. No More Homeless Pets in Utah participated in a fundraiser with Whole Foods in Cottonwood Heights. As part of their Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet philosophy, the Whole Foods store in Cottonwood Heights donate 5% of its Thursday sales to NMHPU and that's cool all by itself. But Thursday's opportunity also resulted in more feral cat connections. As part of our arrangement with Whole Foods, long-time volunteer, Julie Memmott and I manned the information table that was set up outside the store. In the four hours we were there, at least three different people stopped by to talk ferals. I can't imagine that happening a few years ago. One person was looking for resources.The other two were actively involved as caretakers and had practiced TNR for many years. To me that's exciting. It means things are changing and more people really are getting involved in this critical aspect of animal welfare.

It seems kind of fitting that as we celebrate Independence Day, we think about another kind of independence - this one being a freedom from fear, pain and prejudice for feral cats.... and for all animals for that matter. It's a nice thought. So with that I'll close. I hope you had a very happy 4th! Here's to the red, white and mew!

-Erin Fell
PR Director, NMHPU

Monday, June 29, 2009

Fireworks and Pets

Yay it's summer!! I am excited that summer is finally here!! I love the smell of fresh cut grass, the sound of kids playing outside, ice cream and riding the Sky Ride at Lagoon. Life just feels a little more laid back, and no one cares if you wear flop flops to work. The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. I look forward to it every year. I enjoy having friends and family over for a BBQ, staying out late in the warm summer air and shooting off fireworks.

Although fireworks are fun for us, they are not so fun for our pets. It is important to practice safety when shooting off fireworks around them.
I know my animals get scared, so we make sure the house is secure before we celebrate. My little terrier mix "Sassy" gets so scared that she might need to go over to grandma's house this year.

While you are out celebrating, let your pet stay indoors. Close the curtains and turn on some soft music to filter out some of the noise. Give them some treats or toys to keep them preoccupied. They might be too scared to go potty during the fireworks, so give them a lot of time outside before the fireworks start. This should help prevent an accident inside as well.

If your pet is known as an escape artist, keeping them in a kennel or crate is a good idea. Some pets may try to hide, so having a little sanctuary of their own to bury in can be a comfort. People often take their dogs with them to the park to participate in the festivities. The loud noises can stress your pet out so much that they can become physically ill. They just don't understand what is going on, so leaving them at home is best. If you absolutely must take your pet along, keep them on a leash or in a carrier at all times.

Also make sure your pets have current tags and microchips. Each year many animals are so frightened by fireworks that they run away from home. Scared and lost, many never make it home again. Some may end up at the shelter, but sadly most are not found in time by their owners.

If by chance your pet does get out, having your current contact information can be life saving. By having your phone number and address on your pets collar, whoever finds them can contact you right away. But if by some chance your pet loses their collar, a microchip will give them your information as well.
Both ways are equally important and can be life saving if they have your current contact information.

In general with it being summertime, please leave your pets at home and not inside the car. When the temperature is hot to us, it is even hotter to our furry friends.
Even in the shade and with the windows down, it only takes a few minutes for them to start feeling heat exhaustion. Heatstroke in pets can be fatal.
If you need to run into the store and your dog is along with you, please consider taking them home first.

With some basic safety knowledge, we can all have a safe and fun summer.
Your pets will appreciate it!

Happy 4th of July everyone!!

-Maranda Hawkes
Volunteer Director

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lessons from "Marley and Me"

With all the rain lately, I have found myself staying indoors, grabbing some popcorn and settling down for some movie watching marathons.

Recently I rented "Marley and Me", the movie based on the popular book by John Grogan. On the surface it's a tale of a lovable but uncontrollable dog that journeys with the Grogan Family through their good times and bad. I think the biggest lesson to be learned from the movie is to work with your pet even if they have behavior problems or if your family is going through some life changes.

Sometimes when people adopt a rambunctious puppy or an animal with behavior problems, their first inclination is to find a new home for the animal or take them to the shelter. When faced with pet behavioral issues, take the time to complete a training course or consult a pet behaviorist. If your animal is not using the litter box or urinating indoors, it may be sign of a medical condition and your pet may need to be seen by a vet. Should the time come for you to move, take the time to search out pet-friendly housing so that your pet can come with you. If your family grows, include your pet in the preparations along with the new baby.

The Grogan family was with Marley until the end despite all of his problems. I think John Grogan put it best:

"Commitment matters. That 'in good times and bad, in sickness and in health' really means something. We didn't give up on Marley when it would have been easy to, and in the end he came through and proved himself a great and memorable pet."

Standy by the commitment you've made to your pet and in return they will love you unconditionally.

-Lydia Beuning, Office Manager

Friday, June 12, 2009

Inspired by solidarity of animal lovers!

All of us here at NMHPU are recovering from Strut Your Mutt. I don't want to make it sound like Strut Your Mutt is in any way an infliction; in fact I feel deeply honored to be a part of this amazing event. It is simply very tiring.....very gratifying and very tiring. 2,502 people registered for the event this year, record attendance! This year, I found myself up on the hill, doing crowd control, at the start of the walk....it was there I saw the start.....
a veritable sea of people and their pooches making their way around the park, it literally took my breath away to witness such solidarity.

In that moment I knew that we can end the tragedy of pet overpopulation, that we will end killing animals as a way to reduce their numbers.

Killing animals as a means to control their populations is the number one cause of death of cats and dogs in this country. I know people are no longer complacent to view this as a necessary tragedy, people know that we CAN stop the killing and people are demanding of their governments to support life-saving sheltering measures in their communities. We all must do our part: individuals, government, private agencies, corporate partners, shelters, and veterinarians. No one entity has the power to stop the killing alone and yet as No More Homeless Pets in Utah and others have proven, one person, one entity, one agency CAN make great strides towards the day in which there will truly be No More Homeless Pets in Utah.

-Holly Sizemore

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Meet Ellen Welsh, Statistics Coordinator

Hi, my name is Ellen Welsh and I’m the Statistics Coordinator for No More Homeless Pets in Utah. I also do the scheduling and promotion for the Big Fix, our Mobile Spay & Neuter Clinic.

My work for this amazing team started in 2002 a few months after I had moved to Kanab from Hamburg, Germany.
I didn’t have much of a background in animal welfare, but I’ve always loved animals and nature, and I feel a great sense of respect for all life.

I collect statistics from the Shelters and No-Kill Organizations in Utah to create our reports. Sometimes I am asked whether it isn’t a bit ‘dry’ to work with numbers, and what’s the sense in doing it. My answer is that keeping statistics is very important and necessary so that we know what’s happening, it’s our measuring tool. Otherwise it would be difficult to put funds toward programming. We need to know whether what’s been done works or whether it doesn’t.

Every number in our statistics tells a story. Every number represents a life. A life saved or a life lost. And for every life lost we need to increase our efforts!! Offering information, education, and access to low cost spay & neuter is the key!! That’s why I love the other part of my workday just as much. Working for the Big Fix team, creating a schedule where we can reach as many pet owners and communities as possible. Making their wish for accessible and affordable spaying / neutering and vaccinating / microchipping come true!! And simply: fixing as many animals as possible to counteract our pet over-population.

Seeing the progress that has been happening over the years in Utah’s Animal World is our reward, despite some very tough times we’re all facing!! And there is always more to do. But seeing that what you do has a positive impact just makes you want to continue and do more, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Meet Kalinda Solbes, Spay and Neuter Director!!!

I am Kalinda Solbes, Spay and Neuter Director for NMPHU. Spay and Neuter is a core value of mine. A must to reach our mission! I have the pleasure to work with some GREAT people. Dr. Tanya Kjesldberg, Dr. Dave Sweeney, Dr. J Manning, Dr. T Kirkland, Carla, Mary, Cami, Lisa, Carissa, Christy and the rest of NMHPU staff and volunteers. I admire the dedication and hard work that goes on everyday.

Spay and neuter is not glamorous. The day starts early, and for the Big Fix staff starts with a drive to a location somewhere in the state of Utah. They are there snow, sleet, rain and shine fixing animals (yes they are broken). I started out on the Big Fix and found it the most physically demanding job that I have ever had and also the most rewarding. The Big Fix is able to reach many communities that have no low cost s/n options. My first year on the Big Fix we fixed over 8,000 dogs and cats. I am very proud to say that I was a part of that life saving work!!! Just imagine how many animals lives were saved because people fixed their pets. Please help spread the word about how important spaying and neutering is!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Relocating Feral Cat Colonies

No More Homeless Pets in Utah has completed a successful relocation of a feral cat colony this spring. This is BIG news, as relocating feral cats takes time, patience, and a lot of luck. Relocation is a last recourse for resolving feral colony issues, and done when all other mediation and communications have not worked.

Our relocation started with unreconcilable issues between property owner(s) that no longer wanted the feral cats on the property, and the caregiver that had feed, fixed, and protected the cats for years. The property owner started trapping the cats and taking them to the local Animal Services for euthanasia, so action had to be taken to save the rest of the colony. After much searching, a suitable legal relocation site was located for the remaining cats.

So what goes into relocation? First you have to choose a proper location where the cats can live safely. There must be someone that will commit to caring for the colony, by making sure there is fresh water, food, and care daily. There has to be some place on the property where a large relocation cage can be set up to house the cats for about 3 weeks, while they get used to the smells, sounds, and sights of their new environment. Yes, you have to cage the feral cats for about 3 weeks to make this work; otherwise they will just wander away or go back to their old location.

Now, you have you wonderful, safe, new location. You have set up the cage; you have food, water, shelters, litter boxes, and everything you need to make this work. Now what, you have to trap all the cats to take to the new site. Depending on how many cats there are, this can be a major task, especially if this is an older colony that has already been trapped once to get the cats fixed. So now, you are using every trick, ploy, deception, and treat you can think of to get these cats to enter a trap. When you catch them, you take them to your vet for updated vaccinations, fix any cats that have not been ear tipped, and then off to the new location. The cats are housed for about 3 weeks in their new area, and then released to live out their lives.

This is the process that we did on our recent relocation. We consider it a great success, even though a couple of the cats actually turned back up at their original location.

If you would like to learn more about feral cats, please attend our monthly seminars on “Do you Love or Loathe Feral Cats”. Our schedule is on the No More Homeless Pets in Utah website under feral cats at www.utahpets.org.

-Daye Abbott, Feral Fix Director

Friday, May 15, 2009

Erin Fell - Thoughts About Super Adoption

Hi, I'm Erin Fell and I've been with No More Homeless Pets in Utah since 2001. Prior to that, I headed up the Northern Utah office of Best Friends Animal Society. In 2001, the Northern Utah office merged with No Homeless Pets in Utah and became one. I'm the Promotions Director and my job is to get the word out about our programs and events in the best way possible. So now that I've introduced myself, I just wanted to express my thoughts about our recent Pet Super Adoption which took place May 1-3. The theme was Adopt for Life.

This was actually my 20th Pet Super Adoption and so as you might imagine, the event has been on my mind a lot lately. With each new year comes preparations for May, our busiest month by far. The combination of the spring Pet Super Adoption and Strut Your Mutt can be a little daunting and this year, we added Canine Casino Night into the mix.. We have a wonderful staff with diverse talents and a hardcore work ethic but even so, there's no way our small office could do three large-scale events back to back. So how do we do it? With our dedicated and unstoppable volunteer team. That's why I want to take a minute and send my deepest thanks to all the amazing No More Homeless Pets in Utah volunteers who enable these events to happen. It's because of their hard work, dedication, and willingness to do whatever it takes that these life-saving events happen year after year.

Like everyone who works in animal welfare, I feel an urgency with everything we do because it may mean resources to save another life.
With a tough economy and a questionable forecast, we went into this year's Super Adoption a little worried. There's a joke among Pet Super Adoption veterans that it's not really a typical weekend without some kind of insane weather challenge. That could include snowstorms, torrential rains, monsoon winds or blistering heat - we've seen it all.
So last year when we had two events with perfect weather, we figured this year we were in for trouble. Mother nature was not to disappoint and the heavens opened up throughout the three days with soul-soaking rains. But interestingly enough, it didn't matter. At the end of the weekend, we actually did more adoptions than we did last spring - 427 adoptions to be exact. What an amazing feeling to be part of 427 lives saved! I was just talking to one of my media reps who said that maybe the bad weather actually helped this time around - the idea of adversity bringing people together for a common goal. It's that idea that makes our organization work and it's also a nice thought. In this field, you see a lot of awful things people do to animals but you also see the really good side of people.

I can't express how much I love the way everyone comes together during the three days of the Pet Super Adoption for something bigger than all of us. It's like being part of a special club. Despite tough manual labor and potluck weather, I see the same cheerful faces year after year
- volunteers helping carry heavy fence panels for dog runs, pinching fingers in cat tower assembly efforts, perching precariously on tables attaching banners and signs, staying up till the wee hours to help create graphics and rushing to help put palettes and tarps in place during the inevitable downpour. These are people who could be relaxing at home, warm and dry on Super Adoption weekend.....after all they just finished a long work week at their jobs. But instead, they're with us working sometimes 12 hour days to help Utah's homeless dogs and cats.

I could go on and on with the names of so many selfless individuals who put everything they have into making these events a success. The set-up crew, the dog and cat tent captains, the tear-down teams, the friends who agree to get up at 4 AM to be part of a TV live shot. It's the people I see throughout the year helping us with event after event and the people I see twice a year who know this event means a brand new life for those dogs and cats adopted. I once asked a volunteer what brought her to us and she described it in this way. "My 9 to 5 job puts food on the table, my volunteer work with the animals is food for my soul."

You can't help but be jazzed by volunteers like that. I have to admit I feel a little giddy when I see all the excited people waiting for the gates to open each day. It something I can't describe when I see the enthusiastic faces of people who have made that perfect human-animal connection. It's the unadulterated joy I see in those wagging tails and reaching kitty paws, the bigger than life personalities that shine from cages and kennels and beckon people to stop by with a pet and some baby talk. It's the clever ways that rescue groups introduce you to their furry charges. And you can't help but be touched by the stories of each individual fuzzy face when you pause to chat. How the animals came to be at Super Adoption - well some of the stories are heartwarming and some are heartbreaking but each dog and cat is an individual and it's our collective hope that they will find a happy ending during this special weekend. Like Lily the black Lab mix whose "owners" wrapped wire around her muzzle to keep her from barking. Was she barking in hopes that someone would just care? I know Lily will always carry the scars of this horrific abuse but her sweet soul remains. As she pushed her scarred muzzle into my palm, I told her this time she would find a caretaker who deserved her devotion and non-stop tail wagging.

So many deserving dogs and cats finding their homes at last and so many caring people passionate about saving animal lives. It's a pretty heady combination and something you are proud to be part of. So many things were on my mind as my seven year-old son and I finished loading trucks on Sunday night. But I will close with one final thought - rain and all, there are 427 reasons to love Super Adoption. Erin

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Meet Maranda Hawkes, Volunteer Coordinator!

Hi there! I am Maranda Hawkes, the Volunteer Coordinator for No More Homeless Pets In Utah. I have been with the organization since January 2006.

I love helping animals and although our line of work is demanding and emotional at times, making a difference is worth it to me. I am constantly amazed at the dedication and compassion our volunteers have as they go out daily and weekly to lovingly care for our dogs and cats. Their strength keeps me personally motivated and hopeful that some day the pet overpopulation problem won't be so tragic.

Ever since I was a child I have had a special place in my heart for stray animals of all kinds. In Kindergarten I found a mouse outside in the school yard. I brought her home in a tin can out of the trash. It turned out to be a rat and my mother was not pleased. But "Matilda" was soft and beautiful to me and I felt that even a rat still deserved a loving home. (To my mother's relief, we found out that she was a pet that had escaped from a classroom at school, not a sewer rat.) Growing up my brother and I took in and cared for several strays that needed our help. If we couldn't adopt them ourselves, then we would foster them until we found them each a home of their own.

As an adult I have had the companionship of several beloved pets over the years. They have been, and are, some of my best friends. Luckily I have never had to place any of them in other homes.

But unfortunately with the harsh economy many families have had to give up their pets to cut back on expenses, or have lost their homes and can not take them with them when the move. If you find yourself in this position please consider other options for your pet before you take them to a shelter. Ask friends and family if they can adopt your pet, or at least foster them while you are finding other options for them.

You can also place ads in local papers or online, but never put "Free to a good home" in your ads and screen potential adopters very carefully. There are people who make a living by selling these free pets to third party companies. These businesses will then turn around and sell your pet to be a test animals in a research lab. This is common even in Utah.

One option is to contact local rescue groups or if your pet is purebred look for a group that specializes in rescuing that specific breed.
Even if they are out of state they still might work with you. As most groups are already booked to capacity, you may need to find a temporary foster home for your pet while you work with that group. (For a list of rescue groups, click here .) These options might take some time and patience to be effective, but it is worth it considering the alternative.

Public shelters and even the Humane Society unfortunately have to euthanize animals each day because of the pet overpopulation problem.
The sad reality is it doesn't matter if your sweet dog or cat has many great qualities or is an expensive purebred. A big misconception is that puppies and kittens are exempt from being put down which is false. Their fate simply depends on how much kennel space is available that day.
Please do everything you can to give them the chance they deserve at finding another loving family. For information and help on how to place you pet in a new home, click here and read "Placing A Pet."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Meet Andrea Torre, Free Fix Director!

Hi! Andrea Torre is the name, low cost spay/neuter is my game.

I joined the NMHPU staff in September 2008 and have learned so much about the great programs we have for the 4-legged friends that need our help. Along with learning I have been able to contribute in the spaying and neutering of hundreds of cats and dogs across the state of Utah through the Free Fix voucher program.

I grew up in a household with cats, dogs and birds as family members. My parents showed me how an animal can bring a unique happiness and unconditional love to a human life. I witnessed them treat all animals with patience, respect and love and have had the pleasure to see the smiles they have brought to me and my family.
The euthanizing of cats and dogs can one day be eliminated if everyone does their part. Education is the key, so keep learning, spread the word and together we can save them all!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Meet Amber Randall, Adoption Coordinator!

I’m Amber Randall , Adoption Coordinator. I’ve been working for NMHPU since October 2008 and have been a foster home long before that. I was born into animal rescue, as my mom was doing it since she was young. Even at 3 years old I was picketing against animal lab testing and hanging out with my mom at animal adoption events. Growing up, we always had furry friends to keep us company and entertained.

I really enjoy working at NMHPU. It is so rewarding when these homeless animals get a second chance to a loving home. I look forward to the day when the animal population is under control and there aren’t so many homeless animals being euthanized. Please spay and neuter your pets! Together, we can help save the animals.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Meet Daye Abbott, Feral Fix Director!

Hi all, I am Daye Abbott, the Feral Fix Director. I have only been with No More Homeless Pets in Utah since September 2008, but I have worked with NMHPU and CAWS (Community Animal Welfare Society) as a volunteer for many years. I truly appreciate all the wonderful things both organizations do to help the animals in our community.

I have had dogs and cats in my life ever since I can remember. We lived in Garland, a small rural Utah community, and for the most part our dogs and cats lived outside when I was young. The cats moused, and the dogs kept strangers away. That was what was considered their job. They were well fed, and had the enclosed back porch for their home. I look back at that now and think how terrible. I would not allow that type of life for my dogs or cats now. Then I have to stop and realize that my thought process has changed because I have been educated in the proper care and treatment of animals. It was not a quick process, it took years and a lot of mistakes. But that is how humans learn and grow. We all need to remember we are educators, and it is not about how many dogs or cats we care for and adopt out to wonderful homes. It is also about how many people we talk to and enlighten, so that they start that learning process to change their perspective of how they think and feel about animals. Remember, everyday is a chance to help someone new learn and grow. Good Luck.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Meet Lydia Beuning!

Hi! I'm Lydia the Office Manager at No More Homeless Pets in Utah. I have been working here for 2 1/2 years and love it.

When I was a kid my family never had animals so when I got married and moved into a house with a yard, I immediately adopted a pet. I went to a Super Adoption event and adopted my first dog Zoey. She is a mostly black, a heeler/border collie mix. Shortly after I started working at NMHPU, I adopted my first cat, Monk, who is a black cat. I learned from our Adoption Department that black cat and dog adoption rates are generally really low. I was really surprised. The theories to this vary: from superstitious lore that black animals are bad luck or that black animals are less noticeable or don't stand out to potential adopters. Most of the time you will find that rescues and shelters will put eye catching collars on black animals. I remember Zoey had on a festive collar that caught my eye.

When you go to your local shelter or rescue don't forget to check out the black dogs and cats. When it comes down to it, an animals color should be one of the last things to consider when adopting your new pet. Their personality and if they match your lifestyle are much more important factors.

Check out some black animals in our program:




Lydia Beuning

Friday, April 3, 2009

Message from Holly Sizemore, Executive Director of NMHPU

When I began in animal rescue, we relied on Polaroid pictures of homeless animals glued in a book, and owning a shelter pet gave you zero bragging rights; today you are just one click away from being able to see thousands of adoptable Utah animals online and owning a rescue pet is something many take great pride in, as well they should. No More Homeless Pets in Utah has helped pave the way to bring the plight of homeless animals to the forefront, and we work tirelessly to fulfill our mission "To end the euthanasia of cats and dogs in Utah and to promote humane alternatives for feral cats." We began this battle in 2000, and indeed it is a battle on so many levels - at that time more than 45,000 cats and dogs were being killed in Utah shelters every year.

Historically killing animals as a means to curtail their populations was the norm in America and most municipalities ran shelters which mandated they take in any stray animal from their area and euthanize the ones which didn't get adopted. These shelters still exist and yet we are seeing a change in the way which many municipalities handle stray animals. For instance, you used to only hear the phrases, Animal Control, now many shelters are called Animal Care and Control or Animal Services. Society sees that killing animals as a means to control their populations is no longer a "necessary evil" but simply unnecessary in light of progressive life-saving alternatives. No More Homeless Pets in Utah has worked tirelessly to develop and implement such life-saving measures and we emphasize partnering with local governments, shelters, and other non-profit organizations in coalition projects so that some day we will save them all. Over 5 million cats and dogs are killed every year in the US, over 35,000 in Utah last year. I know this killing will end before I retire, and since I'm talking in terms of Polaroid pictures, retirement isn't too far away. O.K., to be more specific in the next 20 years.

And as I write "20 years" it seems all too tragic, daunting. For those amazing people who work in the trenches saving these animals, one critter at a time, celebrating those saved, and mourning those lost....these are the true pioneers of this movement, the people willing to face the day-to-day reality so that today some, and some day all, will be saved. I cannot say enough about these unsung heroes, the kennel worker who works late so that every animal can be posted online; the shelter director who implements a new way of doing things; the city official willing to change archaic ordinances; the volunteer who gives up their weekend to scoop poop; the staffer who cries at night but shows up the next day anyway because they KNOW they are making a difference; these are the heroes of this movement.

There are days that I am bitter - it seems so simple, the answer to this problem........If you want to know the answer to pet overpopulation just A.S.K.

A= Adopt from a shelter or a rescue group (petfinder.com) do not buy from a breeder or pet store,

S=Spay your pet (every animal unspayed animals contributes to this tragedy, even if you find homes for the babies...it is the concept called supply and demand), and

K= Keep your pet for its lifetime (pets are living creatures and will likely pose some challenges along the way...and like children, with a little effort and love most challenges can be overcome).

Even on the bitter days, I am truly grateful to be a part of this amazing movement. I am humbled by the people who surround me everyday - my co-workers, volunteers, shelter workers, donors, business partners, government officials, and pet-owners who contribute on so many levels to this vision of a day when no animal will have to die simply because it is labeled "surplus".

I have been criticized for "caring more about the plight of animals more than the plight of people" and after 20 years I can wholeheartedly say that my work, No More Homeless Pets work, helps people just as much as it helps animals. Every animal saved gives a human the chance to experience the wonder of the human-animal bond. Every super adoption not only saves hundreds of lives it proves to those in the trenches that we CAN save lives on a level never before dreamed of. Our Trap/Neuter/Return or Free Fix services provides people greatly needed services so that they can responsibly care for and save animals. And for those who don't like animals, well we help those people too...we reduce the numbers of animals roaming the streets, we provide low-cost vaccinations which help promote public health and safety, and we work with shelters and members of the public to provide effective, humane animal deterrents to keep animals away from where they aren't wanted. Our TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return program for feral cats) program's motto is "Whether you Love or Loathe cats, we can help".

Together let's save them all!

Holly Sizemore

Executive Director