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.