Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Celebrating Seniors!

Recently, all of the staff members at No More Homeless Pets in Utah were asked to share their thoughts on adopting senior cats and dogs in honor of Adopt a Senior Pet Month. Since she recently adopted Trina, a senior cat she absolutely loves, Volunteer Coordinator Kristiina decided to write a whole blog post to express her thoughts.

Where do I start? This is going to be a bit of a ramble because I could talk about my love of Trina for days. I really didn't know how good I had it with Trina until I fostered a teenage kitten. Trina is so much easier than a kitten or a young cat. She doesn't claw my furniture at all. The only thing she claws is her scratching pad. She doesn't really care for cat toys so the only treat I need to buy her is catnip. She always uses the litter box. She doesn't have any bad habits like stealing my food or chasing our dog.

She is perfect.

I don't want to make her sound boring just because she is calm. She still has lots of funny quirks. For instance, sometimes she meows but without any sound. You can see her mouth move but nothing happens. It's so cute. She absolutely has to be in the kitchen if anyone walks in there. She'll jump up from whatever she is engaged in and bolt into the kitchen. Then she'll just meow at the cupboard. It's totally bizarre. You can open the cupboard but she doesn't really care. She is also obsessed with her scratching pad. If she thinks you are going near it she runs to it. Because if you are going to pet her, she would really prefer you pet her while she is sitting there. It's like her throne and she feels very special when she sits on it.

But the best part about her has been watching her slowly open up over the last six months. Every week she gets more and more loving and comes out of her shell. After 3 months I thought I pretty much knew her personality, but I still learn something new every day. Last night, I figured out that she likes to get under the covers and she has recently started sleeping curled up around my head instead of next to me.

So far she has not really been a lap cat and prefers to be a next-to-my-lap cat-- but the longer we live together, the trips to my lap have become more frequent and it's really exciting to me to see the progression of trust in our relationship. I think sometimes people are more drawn toward buying a puppy or kitten instead of adopting an adult because they think the bond will be more natural . . . and maybe they are right. But for me, the bond built with an older, more reserved animal has been so much more rewarding. And what it really comes down to is that if you want to bond with an animal, young or old, you just need to spend time with him or her and the bond will form on its own.

Another reason I hear people give for not wanting to adopt a senior animal is that they want more time with the animal before he or she passes. They want to put that sad time off and feel that adopting a younger animal is a way to do that. I can sort of understand this. Losing a companion animal is one of the hardest things one can go through. But in the end, wouldn't you rather have an amazing being in your life for a few years than not at all? And just imagine what a great last few years you can help a senior cat or dog have if you're just willing to open your home to one of the older adoptable animals at a shelter or rescue group.

If people aren't willing to adopt seniors, they're going to end up in limbo at rescue groups or euthanized far before their time in a shelter. Maybe years down the road after she passes I will change my mind and say losing a loved one isn't worth it. But for now I am so happy to have her a part of my family that I'm quite sure I would be kicking myself if I hadn't adopted her.

Kristiina Stromness
Volunteer Coordinator

Monday, November 1, 2010

More musings on black cats . . .

Last week, our Fundraising and Events Director Danielle talked about black cats in her blog, and they've also been on my mind.

Last year I finally adopted my small black foster cat "Missy" (short for Mischief
Monster) from our adoptions program. She had been in our program for almost a year, and still had not found a permanent home of her own. As she is such a great cat, I was surprised that she had not been adopted out. Then one day I took her to an adoption event and noticed that she looked just like all the other pure black cats that were there. Though each had a distinct personality, none had markings that made them stand out. Even when she was at adoption events, Missy has an outgoing, playful and fun personality--but she seemed to blend into the scenery so much that passersby just didn't see her. Sometimes even now in my home she will become part of the shadows and I will not see her until she opens her sparklingly pretty large green eyes.

Back when I noticed all those black cats up for adoption, I wondered if superstition might also play a part in why they get over looked at adoption events. Surely not everyone believes they are bad luck!

In some countries like the United Kingdom or Japan black cats are considered to bring good luck. Others believe petting one will bring you good health and wealth. So not everyone looks at them like they are a bad omen.

But the other day a neighbor of mine stopped by our house. I invited her inside. She started to enter our home until Missy startled her at the top of the stairs. After seeing my friendly and inquisitive black cat, she quickly backed out the door and refused to come back inside -- even though it was raining heavily outside! She's usually quite cheerful and talkative, but this time she looked at me like I had offended her somehow.

I was really surprised at her reaction, especially since Missy has become such a great little family member and best friend to Penelope, our 6-month-old daughter. They seem to have a mutual fondness for each other. Missy can't leave Penny alone and insists on sitting right by her when ever she can. Penny giggles and grins any time Missy comes over. At one point, I even saw Penny trying to suck on her ear -- and she actually succeeded for a moment! But Missy was such a great sport. In fact, we were at a toy shop recently and found a small black stuffed animal for Penny to pack around with her. She loves her mini Missy and sucks on her ear as well.

But Missy isn't the exception to all those black cats out there; she is the rule. Since I was young, I have seen so many other black cats love and be loved tremendously by family and friends.

When I was a kid, a small and sick black kitten found its way into our window well one cold winter morning. She was barely alive, but we were determined to make sure she thrived -- despite her tiny size and severe breathing problems. My brother decided her name was Eekers, and it seemed to fit her perfectly. When we first found her, we weren't allowed another pet -- we had a full house of strays that crashed at our place. So my brother hid her in his room until she needed to be looked at by a vet. At first, the vet recommended putting her down because her lungs were small and deformed. But my brother insisted he would care for her and slept with a humidifier in his room. The moisture seemed to help. He took care of her every day and ran home after school to see her.

She needed regular vet treatment, which was an expense that my mom was concerned about, so my brother did odd jobs for neighbors like raking leaves and mowing lawns to help out with the cost. Eekers, but then a funny little string bean looking kitty with spindly legs, would follow him around or wait for him on the porch like a dog.

They were inseparable until one day she finally took her last breath in his arms. She only lived for 3 years, but her little life meant so much to my brother. She was his best friend for those years, and a beautiful black cat. Clearly, there's no reason to reject these cats simply because of their color.

Like Danielle mentioned, there really are some great black cats in our program waiting for a loving home, and you can see them all online. If you're looking for a new feline friend, don't overlook them!

Maranda Hawkes
Volunteer Coordinator

Monday, October 25, 2010

Black Cat Musings

Ok, it’s October. Halloween is almost here. And what do people involved in animal welfare think about during this time of year? Black cats, of course.

Black cats have gotten a bad rap throughout history. In most places, they have been victims of superstitions and negative preconceptions. We’ve had it pounded into our brains that they’re bad luck and associated with witchcraft and the occult. And if that isn’t enough, they are one of the animals most likely to be euthanized in shelters. They are very frequently overlooked at adoption events or shelters. They don’t stand out in cages, they often have indistinguishable features, they can be considered “plain” when compared to other cats.

I live with a black cat. One of the best decisions I ever made was 12 years ago when I adopted her. She had been a victim of animal abuse - someone set her on fire. Her injuries were extensive but she received good veterinary care and survived. When she was strong enough, I took her home, named her Salem and she’s been part of my family ever since. She limps and has scars and is missing parts of her ears, but she is beautiful to me. She’s happy and sassy and I love her more than words can say.

But what does any of this have to do with October and Halloween?

At a recent staff meeting, my co-workers and I had a conversation about whether or not black cats should be adopted out in October. There are many shelters and rescue groups who suspend adoptions of black cats (and some even all cats!) for fear they will be tortured. Others continue adoptions as normal. There are mixed feelings on the subject here at NMHPU.

Suspending adoptions. The conventional wisdom is that this is necessary to protect them from bad people with evil intent, specifically satanic cultists who use them for ritualistic killings. But is the concept that they face more dangers at Halloween time real or just urban legend?

I did an informal internet search, and everything I read stated that there are NO statistics to back up claims that incidences of satanic rituals involving black cats go up at Halloween.

The truth of the matter is that animal abuse occurs ALL YEAR. It’s not a seasonal occurrence; it’s an everyday reality for many animals. And satanic cults are not the ones responsible for the majority of the torture – it’s pranksters, trouble-makers, budding psychopaths and people who have no respect for life. And cats do indeed face danger from such people at Halloween, as well as every other day of their lives.

What other stresses and dangers do black, and all other, cats face at Halloween?

1.People who adopt them to use them as costume accessories and “living decorations,” and then return them after the holiday. (This one surprised me! Who would think to do such a thing??)

2.Noise and commotion

Point #1 is enough to make one feel adoptions should be suspended! That added to the potential threat of animal abusers makes you want to suspend adoptions of black cats forever! However, I really don’t think this is necessary as long as agencies have a solid screening process for adopters. Being thorough in screening should ensure the animals go to good homes. There ARE good homes out there, and you don’t want any cat to miss out on being seen by a great adopter. Plus, denying adoptions only gives the public the wrong idea about black cats – possibly reinforcing stereotypes – and not letting people see how lovable they are.

But when you get right down to it, the best thing you can do to protect your cats from Halloween dangers and stresses is to KEEP THEM INSIDE. At NMHPU, we believe pet cats should be inside all of the time. When they live indoors, they are safe from cars, fights with other cats, attacks by dogs and predators, people with bad intentions, getting lost...….the list goes on and on. If your cats are safely indoors, you don’t have to worry about any of these factors in October, or any other time of the year.

Salem was set on fire in October. Who did this horrific thing to her? Was it part of a satanic ritual? Was it teenage boys being bad? Was it someone on the path to becoming a human murderer? Did her abuse have anything to do with Halloween, or was it just a coincidence that it happened during that time of year?

I will never know.

What I do know is that come Halloween weekend, Salem will be inside with her favorite person – warm and safe and loved. Something I wish for all of the cats out there, whatever color they may be.

Danielle Slaughter
Fundraising and Event Director

P.S. We have many wonderful black cats in our adoptions program! Carlos loves to play fetch (he brings back the ball!)! Alice is young and petite and cuddly. And there are many more… Check them out at our Adoptions page!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Meet Erin Olsen, our new adoptions coordinator!


Seven months ago, I was feeling pretty bummed about life. I'd been moping around after being laid off my marketing job three months earlier, and I finally decided I should snap out of it and do something with my sudden increase in free time. So, I signed up to volunteer with No More Homeless Pets in Utah.

It started as a way to get my "dog fix," since I didn't have a pet of my own. I found myself helping out at weekend adoption events and at GCP, where dogs in our program await their foster homes. One shift turned into two and three per week, and every weekend I was making time to help at adoptions. Not even two months in, I was asked to join the Canine Casino Night event committee.

I started meeting all sorts of great people, all enthusiastic about giving every ounce of time, love, and commitment to the No More Homeless Pets in Utah animals. That enthusiasm is so contagious, and my time commitments and responsibilities with No More Homeless Pets grew. Spring Super Adoption, Strut Your Mutt, Canine Casino Night—you name it, I was there, ready to help anywhere I was needed.

And then I suddenly noticed Carmella. One of No More Homeless Pets in Utah's tougher dogs to handle, Carmella had been in the adoptions program for over a year and a half. Her gregarious personality had always intimidated me at adoption events, but I started to notice a sort of depression set in with her. So, I decided to steal her for a day from GCP and take her on a hike to cheer her up. She hasn't been back there since.

An hour after the hike, Carmella was curled up on my couch, and I was pondering ways to seek approval to keep her there indefinitely. And suddenly, I was a dog foster mom. Carmella goes everywhere with me I can possibly take her - the cool tiled laundromat is one of her favorite destinations. She also loves camping and has explored Goblin Valley State Park, Capitol Reef National Park, and Moab over the last two months.

After almost four months of touting my foster dog around, I realized she and I were very comfortable with our companionship, and I decided to make my home permanent for her. While serving as a Dog Tent Captain at the Fall Super Adoption, I adopted Carmella and relieved several long-time volunteers and NMHPU staff from the mutual wonder of "How much longer will Carmella have to wait for her forever home?"

She has found it. And I have found mine: This evolution of volunteer work, experiential learning in event leadership and fundraising capacities, foster care experience, and now proud adoptive dog motherhood has led me to find a new position of employment and my "forever home" as part of the No More Homeless Pets in Utah team. I am so grateful to have been chosen to serve as the new Adoptions Coordinator. I've already met so many wonderful staff members and volunteers, and look forward to getting to know many more as we all work toward our mission to end the euthanasia of cats and dogs in Utah. I'm ready to work hard and Save Them All!

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's time to create an animal-themed playlist!

We play a lot of music at our office. You'll hear everything from The Smiths to Stevie Wonder coming out of our speakers. Surrounded by both music and animals every day, I've started thinking about my favorite animal songs. It didn't take long to create an animal-themed playlist.

These songs will be the perfect way to start your own animal playlist!

"I Love My Dog" by Cat Stevens
"Monkey Gone To Heaven" by Pixies
"Black Eyed Dog" by Nick Drake
"Paper Tiger" by Spoon
"Dog" by Ben Folds
"Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran
"Stray Cat Strut" by Stray Cats
"17 Pink Sugar Elephants" cover by Mates of States
"The Wolves (Act 1 & 2)" by Bon Iver
"Stray Dog Freedom" by Bright Eyes
"Portions For Foxes" by Rilo Kiley

But it's not enough to stop here. What are your favorite animal themed/titled songs? Leave a comment so we can build a collaborative playlist full of everyone's favorites!

Lydia Beuning
Office Administrator

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Feeding a feral cat colony

When I learned about my friend moving a few hours away, I was sad. When she approached me about taking care of her feral colony, I felt honored. Now, I am now a proud caretaker of six feral cats.

Ferals are cats that are free roaming and do not want to live with humans. I have such a respect for these resourceful felines who form bonds with other cats in their situation, establish a hierarchy, and adapt to their ever changing environment. Caretakers are the people that help their community cats, or ferals, by humanely trapping the cats in the colony, bringing them to a veterinarian to neuter or spay and vaccinate the cats, and then return the cats to the colony to live their natural lives. This practice is called TNR, Trap-Neuter-Return, and sometimes TNRM, with the “M” standing for “maintain.”

I look at this opportunity, my own colony, as a great way to help these cats in our community. I hope to be a great guardian-- putting out food and water, shelter for the weather extremes, humanely catching any sick or injured cats for veterinary care when necessary, and fixing any newcomers that happen to absorb into the colony.

Last weekend I brought my morning coffee, my binoculars, and my camera to catch sight of my new charges. One was eager enough to chow on the wet food that he even welcomed my touch. What an extraordinary gift! The others waited warily in the bushes until I sat a safe distance of ten feet away, then they cautiously approached the food all the while keeping a watchful eye on what I was up to. I felt like I was on a safari of sorts, but the kind of shots I took was from a camera and taking in my subjects through my binoculars.

It was a great way to spend a Saturday morning, and I look forward to many more such mornings as I learn more about my feral colony!

Autumn Wagner
Adoption Program Director

Monday, August 16, 2010

Name our kittens and win a prize!

These five adorable little girls have just come into the No More Homeless Pets in Utah adoption program, along with their lovely mom, Jessica. Now they’re moving onto the next chapter in their lives: finding their forever homes. But how in the world can they do that without names?

They are all as cute as they can be, and each one has a unique personality and needs a special name that suits her. We need to name them before they go to the vet to be spayed in September. That’s a big task, so we decided to ask you to help us by holding a contest to find the best five names for these little ones.

Now’s the time to use your creativity! When these kittens get old enough to go to adoptions, a cute and appropriate name will help catch a potential adopter’s interest and give each little one a chance to find that perfect home. So get creative and send us your best five names, and we'll reward with a prize! (See the Contest Rules below for instructions.)


One prize will be awarded to the person who submits the winning 5 names. That prize consists of a gift basket full of treats for your kitties, including a gift certificate to the Dog’s Meow pet food store AND a $50 Dining Certificate to La Caille for you!


Because the kittens don't have names yet, we can only identify them by numbers. You can find photos of the individual kittens on our Facebook page.

Kitten #1 is a black and white tuxedo with white paws and white whiskers. She has a front foot deformity but she’s always one of the first ones to climb out of the cage and take off. She's a big lover and likes to be picked up and snuggled. She's the first one to win everyone’s heart!

Kitten #2 is a black and white tuxedo with a white chin, toes, whiskers and eyebrows. She is the shyest and tends to hang out in the cage more than the others do. She also has the roundest tummy – probably because she’s the first one to get to mom! She loves to play with her sisters and comes out of the cage to chase them around. She likes to be petted and will probably be a real lap cat.

Kitten #3 is a mackerel tabby with white tummy, legs and face. She is definitely the hungriest and follows her poor mom everywhere looking for a free meal. She’s very sweet and has been the first one to be playful. She is also the fastest one, and loves to run!

Kitten #4 is a ticked tabby with bowed legs. She is the most active. She’s also the loudest! She zooms around, squeaking the whole time, exploring the whole room. But she’s extra cuddly and is the most curious about people. She’s a little lover!

Kitten #5 is a ticked tabby with normal front legs and the cutest spotted tummy of them all. She is the smallest, but despite that, she’s usually the one who picks the fights! She’s really curious about people and will climb into the nearest lap. But then she'll suddenly she realizes where she is and off she goes.

Now that you've been introduced, it's time for you to give these kittens the best names you can think of!

1. Each entry must contain a name for each of the five kittens and must identify which name goes with which kitten.
2. Each name must be an acceptable name for a human female.
3. Names that are currently being used for our adoptable cats are not eligible. You can find a list of those names on our website by going to our Adoptable Pets list.
4. Only email entries will be accepted. Send your entries to: Include “Kitten Naming Contest” in the subject of your email. Please include your full name and contact information.
5. All entries must be submitted by midnight on September 1, 2010.
6. The winner will be notified by email on September 6, 2010. The prizes can be picked up at our office, 8029 S. 700 East, during regular working hours after that date.
7. You may submit as many entries as you want. Each set of 5 names will be treated as one entry.
8. No More Homeless Pets in Utah reserves the right to use any name submitted for adoptable animals in the future.
9. Employees of No More Homeless Pets in Utah are not eligible.

Our FIV friends deserve a home, too!

Last month I found myself taking in another poor kitty who had been tossed aside and abandoned by society. Lucky, a severely matted cream and tan long haired kitty with large sad eyes, had started coming around my home.

He was nearly starved to death when we came across him, and had a terribly swollen and infected paw with a huge gash in it. Finally, after several attempts to get close to him, he gave in and let us pick him up. After a bath and several extensive grooming sessions, a soft adorable cat had appeared.

Shortly after, I had his paw doctored up and got with getting neutered, vaccinated, micro chipped, and tested for diseases. He did test positive for FIV, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus , which wasn't a surprise since FIV is mainly transmitted between cats sexually, or through deep bites. Lucky had a lot of open wounds and also wasn't fixed, so I had suspected that he might be infected.

Since my goal for Lucky was to find him a loving home of his own, I knew that testing positive might be an obstacle. People might be a little scared off, as at one point I was. Years ago, when we lived downtown, my husband and I took in a small ragged little tabby who was desperately in need of a home. Although at the time we were not technically allowed to have another pet, I could not resist any longer and had to take him in. He jumped into my arms, and we were best friends from then on! He was so small we just naturally started calling him Tiny. I wanted to get him checked before mixing him into our other cats, so I took him to the closest animal clinic.

They tested him for FIV, and his test was positive. I knew nothing about the virus, and at first the diagnosis sounded a little scary. The vet there made it sound like Tiny was going to have an awful existence and the humane thing to do would be to euthanize him there on the spot. That seemed rash, so I wanted to get a second opinion. Soon after, I took Tiny to another animal clinic. They had confirmed that he was infected, but our new vet was hopeful and put my concerns to rest. She explained things to me.

People cannot get it, and as far as my other cats that were at home they would be fine as long as they were all fixed, since that lowers a cat’s desire to fight. If for some reason there was any fighting going on, there would be a slim chance of someone else getting it. But it would be hard, as there would have to be a deep wound involved, and a lot of blood shared. My new vet said that she had feline patients who were healthy and living with FIV for years. The FIV negative cats were never infected and everyone seemed to get along. With relief, we took him in. We were so glad we did!

Although at first glance he was not the most attractive cat, he was abnormally huggy and it didn't take long for him to charm anyone who came over for a visit. Soon our friends and family quickly became fans of our sweet little alley cat! He became a special favorite with my nieces. They would even dress him up and he would sit there and happily participate. We knew his immune system was more delicate, so we always kept a close eye on him, although he really didn't need any special treatment. He live with us, a healthy and happy cat, for over 8 years.

But then one day during the Spring Super Adoption of 2008, he suddenly started to get weak and hid under the bathroom sink. I took him into my vet to get examined, but his health was sadly deteriorating quickly. He peacefully died early that next morning.

Although that weekend, I had helped hundreds of other animals find homes, my heart was broken and I could only think about him. I was so glad we had given him a chance and that he had 8 full years to live his short but meaningful life. Ever since then, every time I see that corner of the patio where he liked to sun bathe, a little part of me imagines him there, and I miss him. He loved sitting under the potted plants that we put out every summer.

I am so glad our vet told us to give our Tiny a chance and a loving home. He brought do much joy to our lives and I can't imagine not giving him a chance.

If you’re considering adopting a cat, I encourage you to not overlook the wonderful FIV kitties that are available. We have some especially wonderful cats up for adoption in our program, such as Frankie, who are just waiting to give you lots of love—just like Tiny gave to us!

Maranda Hawkes
Volunteer Coordinator

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Meet Jeanie, the tiniest kitten at NMHPU!

Jeanie is one of the newest additions to our adoptions program--and the youngest kitten in our program. She's not yet for adoption because she's only one week old, but she's already seeking her forever home.

We found Jeanie at a feral colony when she was only one day old. Her mom and her
littermates were nowhere to be found, and this tiny kitten--barely bigger than a mouse!--was crying out for help. Her eyes and ears were still shut tight when we picked her up, and she was clearly hungry. We quickly got Jeanie to a foster home experienced with newborn kittens, and she'll be staying there until she is old enough to be adopted.

As you can see from her photos, she's one of the cutest kittens you'll find, with an adorable skunk-like stripe down her face.

So you can follow Jeanie's progress, we'll be posting her photos and updates in future blog entries--and also have a Jeanie photo album on our Facebook page!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Meet Hopeful Hope!

Hope got her name because any cat that goes into the shelter in the condition that she did and lives to tell the tale gives hope to all animals.

Hope was originally picked up in 2007 by an animal control officer after she was hit by a car. The officer took her back to the shelter, where staff found that Hope’s accident left her with a broken pelvis. But she didn't let that stop her! She was a determined little gal even then, and that day, she dragged her back legs behind her to make it to the litter box in her cage.

We fell in love with this special cat, and we were determined that she could have a new chance at life. With a strong will to survive, some medical care to help her heal, and lots of love, Hope recovered nicely and was ready for a new home. A new family adopted her, but, sadly, it was not to be her permanent family. Only 10 months later, she was dropped off at a shelter -- where her adopters were seeking euthanasia simply because she needed dental services. Luckily, the shelter scanned Hope for a microchip before euthanasia, and they found that she had a No More Homeless Pets in Utah microchip. Here at No More Homeless Pets in Utah, we make a lifetime commitment to all of our animals. So at that time, Hope safely made her way back to us and received a check-up and dental care before moving into her foster home.

Despite the rough life that Hope has had so far, she is a very loving and affectionate gal. She's the sweetest, most gentle lap cat you’ve ever met, and loves other cats and even dogs. She’s a real cuddler and loves to sleep in bed with her people. She’ll snuggle up next to you with a paw always stretched out to touch you while she sleeps. Hope has been patiently waiting for 3 years for a forever home where she will be taken care of and loved for the rest of her life. If you want a feline companion who will return your love for the rest of her life, Hope is your girl!

Amber Randall
Adoption Coordinator

Friday, August 6, 2010

Meet Kalinda Solbes, Interim Executive Director!

I've always known that I wanted to work with animals, and I have been in my dream job for the last 7 years. That's how long it has been my privilege to work for No More Homeless Pets in Utah, working towards our mission of ending the euthanasia of dogs and cats in Utah and to promote humane alternatives for feral cats.

I love spay and neuter, and I believe it's one of the most important keys to reaching our mission. I started out as a veterinary technician on the Big Fix, a challenging job where I worked in a cramped space helping to fix 30 to 80 animals each day. Before I worked there, I never realized what a need there was for low cost spay and neuter services. At the Big Fix, people get in line all year round, rain or shine, and many people admit that if we wouldn't have come to their town, they wouldn't have gotten their pet fixed.

After having a baby, my first non-hairy child, I was fortunate enough to become the office manager at NMHPU, then for the last 5 years, I have been the spay and neuter director. As the spay and neuter director, my greatest accomplishment has been to get the Utah County Spay and Neuter Clinic up and running.

Now I am excited to step into the role of interim executive director and expand my knowledge to all of the programs we are pursuing to fulfill our mission. I would be afraid of this change - except that I know what a great group of staff and volunteers I will be working with. Because of what all you do to support our mission, I know that we will reach our goals.

Thank you for this opportunity to be a part reaching our goal of No More Homeless Pets.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I hate events -- but I love my job.

Hello! My name is Danielle Slaughter and I am the Fundraising and Event Director for NMHPU. The first thing you should know about me is that I hate events and I hate asking people for money. Before I came to NMHPU, I always worked hands-on with animals, as a wildlife rehabilitator and a veterinary technician -- up close and personal and never behind a desk. When I took this position, I suddenly had to focus on raising funds and reaching budget goals. I had to direct and participate in major events upon whose success the raising of thousands of dollars depended. And, in some cases, the saving of hundreds of animal lives.

Despite that, I love my job. I love it because, through my time here, I’ve come to see how vital sufficient funding is to the success of our life-saving programs, which are the reason for our existence. If we don’t have enough money, we can’t help as many people spay & neuter their pets for free or low cost, we can’t help save as many feral cats, we can’t rescue as many dogs and cats from the euthanasia lists of shelters, we can’t hold super adoptions (which allow hundreds of homeless pets to be seen by hundreds of potential adopters over three-day weekends), and we can’t operate the Big Fix and the Utah County Spay & Neuter Clinic.

Over the years, it’s become easier for me to manage events and monitor budgets and attempt to raise money. It’s easier because in everything I do, no matter how uncomfortable the task, I keep in mind that I’m doing it to achieve our mission: to end the euthanasia of homeless dogs and cats statewide and to promote humane alternatives for feral cats. And I am rewarded for my efforts when I see homeless dogs and cats going home with their new, loving families. When I see how many people and animals our Feral Fix and Free Fix programs are helping. When I see the statistics that prove our efforts are helping to raise adoption numbers and lower euthanasia numbers in Utah. And, of course, when I get to work with all of the incredible people in our state who give their hearts and souls every day to save dogs and cats.

Danielle Slaughter
Fundraising and Event Director

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Moving to a new chapter of my life . . .

After ten years feeling so blessed to come to work every day, I am embarking upon a new chapter in my life. My husband and I have been invited to join the Best Friends Animal Society team and will be relocating to Kanab, Utah. I am thrilled to continue working in the No More Homeless Pets movement, and I am excited to take my knowledge of the amazing work that this organization has achieved and use it to help other communities throughout the country save more lives.

I cannot express how deeply I will miss my No More Homeless Pets in Utah family. Since I was a young child, I dreamed of doing precisely what I do today--helping save dogs and cats. And in saving these lives I have been fortunate enough to interact with the most amazing people. Our donors, our volunteers, our board of directors, our staff, our sponsors, our shelter partners and rescue friends have enriched my life so very much. Every time I look at our 10th anniversary logo, I tear up--no kidding. It says "10 Years, Over 100,000 Lives Saved." I cannot thank you all enough for making this happen, and I am so grateful to have made this journey with you all. I am confident that under the new leadership at No More Homeless Pets in Utah the rest of the cats and dogs, kittens and puppies, WILL be saved....and there are many, many more in need. The talent, dedication, and sheer will of this team will surely make it happen--along with your unwavering support, of course.

Kalinda Solbes, current NMHPU executive team member and spay/neuter director, will lead the team as interim executive director. Kalinda has been a major force in supporting the vision and in fulfilling our mission here for the last seven years, and she will be a tremendous leader during this transition. Lydia Beuning, current NMHPU executive team member and administrative director, will be at Kalinda's side. I have worked very closely with these two talented women and know the organization is in good hands.

Thank you for the last ten years, thank you for your support of one of the best organizations ever, thank you for your continued support so that No More Homeless Pets in Utah will soon become a reality.

With love and a firm belief that together we can indeed save them all,

Holly Sizemore
No More Homeless Pets in Utah

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Numbers and inspiration at NMHPU

As an employee of NMHPU, numbers are a significant portion of my job: The e-metric rate is discussed and is a good way for us to measure the success in the state in association with the shelters’ euthanasia rate. The adoptions department updates staff on weekend adoption numbers. After one of our fundraising events everyone eagerly awaits the amounts raised. As a non-profit we are reminded to turn lights off or run the air conditioner sparingly to stick to budget.

Specific to the program I coordinate (spay and neuter vouchers for qualified applicants), I track my spending and payments to vet clinics, I keep tally of how many dogs and cats the voucher program has fixed and how many applications are coming in from each county; I pay attention to certain shelter intakes, euthanasia rates and adoption rates.

Numbers are spoken of throughout the NMHPU office, and I’m quite keen to the conversation. I majored in Economics and have a slight zeal for statistics, graphs and organization, so tying numbers in with my love for animals is a delightful way to make a living.

As with most jobs, there is always a boss thrown in the mix, and this individual can be the key element in the evolution of each staff member and their duties. The boss can also be a detrimental part of any advancement and a cause for staff to dread their job and put their frustrations in place of their passion for an organization’s goals. My boss, Holly Sizemore, is nothing of the latter; she is mostly comprised of the leader that makes me recognize the tangible change in my work when the numbers don’t.

She assesses personalities, as a boss should, and customizes her approach to each employee, thus she captures the attention of her employees and their trust. She uses my statistical skills to evaluate my program, better it and discuss it with the public and with me. She’s a prime example of a director who is extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of the animal rescue world, statewide and nationally, and she keeps herself updated daily. She’s passionate, personable, firm, intelligent, spicy, respectful, inspiring, funny and visionary; she sees the best in her staff and has an elegant humor towards their imperfections. She is the only supervisor I have had that makes me feel important because I am important, because the dependency that falls upon NMHPU is a need that falls on me. With this awareness, I put my best foot forward every day of work--even on the days where the hopelessness of homeless animal realities are heaviest.

After ten years with NMHPU, Holly has resigned and taken a position to assist animals on a broader level; I commend her achievements. Though I am sad to see her leave, I look forward to the statistics she’ll be improving and the great save rate numbers to come out of NMHPU from the legacy she leaves behind.

Andrea Torre
Free Fix Director

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We are family

Whilst driving home from a TNR (Trap, Neuter Return) job an industrial area, I noticed the tell-tale signs in a vacant property by the train tracks . . .a makeshift shelter covered with a ratty tarp, a couple of blankets getting soggy in the rain and some food dishes blown about by the wind. These were the remnants of someone’s efforts to care for a group of stray cats. The humans were long gone but of course the cats, survivors in the face of adversity, were still there.

I began visiting them, caring for them, with the intention of sterilizing them to prevent further expansion of the colony. Clearly none were fixed as there was a mix of adults and juveniles. Within a few weeks and with the help of traps, donations and a vet, that had all changed, and over the next few months as they learned the routine the younger members of the now-stabilized colony would come to greet me as I drove up. One group of siblings in particular, led by a male with his three sisters, came to accept my affection as would any house pet, but for these cats home was the harsh reality of an unforgiving industrial zone. So brazen did they become that I would have to slow my car to prevent running them all over in the parking lot. I wondered if the cars of the neighboring auto repair business employees drew the same attention from the cats. Regardless, the cats were endangering themselves with their growing trust of humans.

Then, after having greeted me every day for over a year, the male stopped showing up. Several weeks passed. I had to accept that something had happened and that I would never see him again. Did someone take him home? Perhaps, but it was not likely. Did he misjudge the wheels and end up crushed on the road? That was more believable. Was he poisoned by the antifreeze which was sometimes left in uncovered buckets? Certainly that was a possibility. Did he get locked in a storage shed and starve? Possibly, since this group of cats was living in an unusually dangerous area. The siblings had developed a trust in me and I a bond with them, and the loss of one was a severe blow – another hole in the peppered armor I have fashioned around my heart to allow myself to continue this necessary work in the face of similar losses. The possibility of the other three sisters suffering the same unknown fate one by one was something I was not willing to passively stand by and witness. They were tame to me, so I took them home with no plan in mind except ensuring their immediate safety.

After some time at my house I learned their true personalities. Wendy, the black one, is unashamedly gregarious. Trish, like her disappeared brother, is a gorgeous silky long haired tabby and white, shy at first but a good friend once you have gained her trust and as feminine a cat as you’ll ever meet. Serena is a patchwork of black and white, a gentle sweetheart who simply prefers the company of her sisters. The three of them have been together their whole lives and are perfectly content. Wendy and Trish, though happy with each others company, are not particularly amused by other cats, and though they would adjust to life in a single cat household this would leave Serena alone, shy and unadoptable, her family gone, an unacceptable injustice to a delicate and deserving soul.

So, we are looking for a family with a pet-less home willing to jump in and start an entire family all at once! Darlings all, Wendy, Trish and Serena each have distinctly different personalities and make a diverse, low maintenance trio who will give warmth to any household willing to give them a chance. After the disappearance of their brother, they have become as tight as any sisters could be. It is a bond to be honored and preserved. If you listen carefully you can hear them sing: “We are family. I got all my sisters with me.”

If you believe that you're the family for these sisters, email!

Jonny Woodward
Feral Fix Coordinator

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Reflections on the 15th Annual Strut Your Mutt

The very first Strut Your Mutt was 15 years ago. I remember the day well, even though at that time No More Homeless Pets in Utah didn't even exist and I had no idea what Strut Your Mutt was.

On that day 15 years ago, I was traveling down 700 East, transporting cats to an adoption event for CAWS, a small non-profit rescue group founded by myself and Susan Allred. The day was dreary to say the least; a downpour of rain battered my car as I drove past Trolley Square and noticed a big "Best Friends Animal Sanctuary Strut Your Mutt" banner. I knew of Best Friends, and had volunteered with them on a couple of occasions back in those days. I remember feeling deeply sorry for them. "What a bummer," I thought, imagining that the event was rained out.

These days I know a lot of people who participated in that first annual Strut Your Mutt. Gregory Castle, a founder of Best Friends Animal Society and President of No More Homeless Pets in Utah was there. Julie Castle was there, as well. In fact, Julie created Strut Your Mutt in Utah and was a major force in growing the event from a few hundred to a few thousand participants. She helped start No More Homeless Pets in Utah and made the event a major brand for the organization.

The 15th annual Strut Your Mutt had a couple of things in common with that very first walk: The weather was horrible and Julie Castle was foremost in the minds of event organizers. Julie currently works for Best Friends Animal Society as the director of community programs and services. Though Julie is usually at the event, this year her absence was notable-- she is battling stage 3 breast cancer and could not attend the event. The event committee strutted in her honor, though. Castle's Canine Cohorts we called ourselves and we proudly wore pink for Julie. Despite Julie's battle, she is still actively advocating on behalf of animals and isn't letting cancer deter her from her determination to end the killing of cats and dogs across the nation. We know Julie will strut next year, and for many years to come!

In this year of reflection, I would like to also honor the following individuals, who have meant so much to us here at No More Homeless Pets in Utah in our 10th anniversary year and beyond:

Jared Matkin: Also recently diagnosed with cancer. Jared is an amazing volunteer for both No More Homeless Pets in Utah and Salt Lake County Pit Crew and we wish him the best during his recovery.

Forrest Hillie: Devoted adoptions volunteer who lost his mother Anita Lee Benson way too early.

Julie Memmott: Amazing contributor to our mission since the beginning, who also lost her dear mother, Margaret Johnson, this year.

Johannes Steinvoort: A supporter we never met in person, he was a devoted animal lover throughout his life, and cared for feral cats. He left us a generous bequest that we are so grateful for.

Susan Coulter: Susan was in the midst of helping to raise funds for this year's Strut when she died unexpectedly. We feel so blessed to have know Susan, who so poignantly shared with us what her little rescue dog Gizmo meant to her. Here is an excerpt from Susan's Firstgiving fundraising page:

"Strut Your Mutt 2010 on 22 May will be the 3rd time Gizmo and I have participated in this Walk. It is our way of saying 'Thank you!' to No More Homeless Pets in Utah/The Utah Coalition for Animals--Gizmo was in one of their shelters. Gizmo was an abused dog. With a lot of love, patience, and hard work, he overcame his background to become the cheerful, loving dog he is now. The Veterinarian estimated that he was 2 years old when I got him; he's now a healthy, happy, energetic 6-year old. We are a terrific team. I was looking for a companion, but Gizmo showed me that he can warn me before I have a Grand Mal seizure. He also guards me during and after a seizure, while I'm unconscious. Now Gizmo is my Service Dog, and rides on my lap wherever I/we go. (I am in a specialized power wheelchair.) We are also trained as an Animal-Assisted Therapy Team."

These are just a handful of the dedicated individuals that put so much of themselves into the cause of saving homeless cats and dogs. I offer my sincere gratitude to every one of you who are working towards a time of no more homeless pets in Utah--and across the country.

Holly Sizemore
Executive Director

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Meet Kristiina, Our Interim Volunteer Coordinator!

Hello everyone, I’m Kristiina Stromness! I’ve been filling in for Maranda Hawkes, our regular Volunteer Coordinator, while she is out on her maternity leave. It has been a busy first month for me as we moved our office, opened our Cat Adoption Suite and held our Spring Pet Super Adoption. I’m really excited to be working here, especially with so many fantastic volunteers.

Volunteering has been a part of my life since high school but a year ago, it became absolutely central to my existence. I started volunteering for Ching Farm Animal Rescue and Sanctuary in November of 2008. In the beginning, I was feeding pigs weekly on Tuesday mornings, but it didn’t take long for me to get more involved in fundraising--and in early 2009, I found myself as Race Director for Ching’s 5K run. I was completely in love with all of the animals at the sanctuary and was determined to make their first 5K-fundraiser a success.

Without the sense of purpose my volunteer job gave me, I would have been devastated when I was laid off from my job of 5 years last May. As my boss told me what my last day would be, the practical part of my brain panicked but my heart soared--I would have so much more time to volunteer!

I was able to spend my summer caring for the farm animals I loved and raising money for their food and other needs. The donations received through the 5k were able to buy hay and grain throughout the summer; it was so much more fulfilling than the fashion industry I was used to.

When all of the work is taken care of at the sanctuary, I love to just hang out with the animals. Sometimes I can convince a miniature horse to let me take them for a walk. In the picture you can see two of my favorites, Big Ben the miniature horse and Burt the miniature donkey. Ben is the most reluctant of the mini’s, but once all the others have had a walk he can’t wait to go. Every one of the animals has his or her own personality quirks that come out as you spend time with them. That has been the most rewarding part of my work there, to be able to see all the animal’s individual personalities.

No More Homeless Pets in Utah has been very understanding of my commitment to volunteering and Holly lets me come in late on Tuesdays so that I can still work at the sanctuary.

I’m very excited to be working with an organization that has such a strong volunteer base and is so dedicated to Utah's dogs and cats. I was thrilled with the turn out we received at Super Adoption, even though it was pouring rain and sometimes snowing. Everyone that I have met so far has been awesome. I can’t wait to meet the rest of you at Strut Your Mutt!

Kristiina Stromness

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Aslan, the Dog With the Irrepressible Smile

It was a good day for me when sweet-natured Henry got adopted in the May of 2007. He, like so many other cats and dogs, had ended up at the shelter but his family never came for him. The staff didn’t know his former name, but thought that Henry suited this energetic and loving lab mix. A few weeks later, another family signed adoption papers agreeing to love and care for Henry. Henry had an air of positivity that emanated from his two-year-old smile that made even the cynic in me believe that it would all work out for him. I smiled as he jumped into the car and rode away to his new life with his new family. In the animal rescue business, you are so excited at each victory, but rarely have time to enjoy it, as there are more neglected or abused animals that need help.

That is why when I got the call from the shelter about a family that had moved and dropped off a dog that they adopted from us two years prior, I did not make the connection. If he were not microchipped, I wouldn’t have thought it was Henry. You see, microchips don’t lie, and that Monday was not such a good day. I remembered that day he went off smiling to his new life. Though this dog—now known as Aslan—still had the hint of a smile, he looked like he’d been through a little more than he could bear.

After I picked him up, I took Aslan to an “interview” to see if he would get along with other dogs at Camp Bow Wow, where we occasionally board some of our dogs seeking foster homes. I crossed my fingers as I watched how he reacted to the pack of dogs that rushed up to him when he entered the dog play room. This must be something that parents feel as they watch their children walk into the school yard on the first day of kindergarten.

His tail was straight up and wagging nervously as the pack checked him out. I held my breath, but soon exhaled in relief when he went down on his front paws with his bottom in the air. The simple action is known amongst dogs as a “play bow,” which is a clear and friendly invitation to play. He passed, and I saw that same smile of his that let me know that everything would work out for him. His smile is contagious and so is his bright, can-do spirit. He is still looking for that family that will keep him for the rest of his life, but he has a certainty that is infectious. I’m convinced that this happy-go-lucky fellow will find that loving family soon, and will keep that positive outlook of his until it happens!

Autumn Wagner
Adoptions Director

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lydia's Film Picks for Cat and Dog Lovers

Being the resident film geek of the office, I'm always telling my co-workers about the best flicks to watch. Because one of my favorite parts of my job is hearing all the great adoption stories from our adoption department, volunteers and supporters, I started thinking about my favorite films that feature cats and dogs. Next time you're at the video store or updating your Netflix queue consider checking out these flicks. You won't be disappointed!

Coraline (2009):
This animated film features a little girl named Coraline that discovers a hidden door to a parallel world where everyone has buttons instead of eyes. All her dreams are coming true in this world, but this world is not as happy as it may seem. There is a feral cat in this film that guides Coraline through the alternate world. He even has a tipped ear!
Rated PG.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981):
The Mad Max trilogy stars a young Mel Gibson and is a must-see for any movie geek. Mad Max 2 stands out because of Max's companion, referred to as Dog. He's a Australian Cattle Dog who is super smart and loyal--the perfect companion to help Max navigate the post-apocalyptic world in this action film.
Rated R.

Up (2009):
This has to be one of my favorite Pixar films. The film centers around an widower named Carl who flies his house to a remote and beautiful location in South America. He has an unexpected guest, Russell, who goes on a wild adventure with him. One of the best characters is Dug, a dog who wears a special collar that allows him to speak. A hilarious and thoughtful film.
Rated PG.

Wizard of Oz (1939) and Cats the Musical (1998):
I'm a sucker for musicals. I usually watch Wizard of Oz once a year. The film stars Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, who travels to the magical Land of Oz with her lovable dog Toto. Toto helps Dorothy and her friends multiple times, a loyal friend the whole way through. Cats, the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber is another must-see. If you can't see it live, you can rent the filmed musical version directed by David Mallet.
Rated G.

What's your favorite dog or cat film? Leave a comment!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Preparing the Furry Kids for Penny

I have determined that my pets have ESP. They are very intuitive after all. Okay, maybe they can't read minds, but they are aware that something is up by the way my stomach has grown over the last 8 months, and the shift in my energy level. Lately after work, I am in bed earlier or blobbing out on the couch watching "Dexter." Both cats and dogs seem to be extra needy these days and attack us the second we walk through the front door. They each race to tell us about their day.

As my husband and I are going to be new first time parents next month, the preparations have been never ending at home. Things like painting the nursery and organizing the house are obvious adjustments that need to be made, but how do you make other adjustments like preparing your pets for your new family member?? This is something I had thought would just work itself out, but am now realizing there is more to it than that. So I looked for some help. I am always disappointed by people who get rid of their pets because they are having a baby, so I am determined to make the ecosystem at home work no matter what. After all, our furry kids were there first and deserve the forever home I promised them when we took them in.

I know when we announced our new addition to other relatives, they were concerned about the cats we have in the house and toxoplasmosis because it can cause serious birth defects. I assured them I would not be handling the litter box at all, and that Rich would get to be the lucky candidate for that. Also after looking it up, it seems it can easily be avoided. It is rare in the U.S. and is mainly in the feces of cats that ingest raw meat, birds, mice, or contaminated soil. Since we never have raw meat in the house and our cats are only indoors, our family felt a little less worried.

I decided to look into other tips that would help us (and our relatives) feel more prepared for our new addition. The Humane Society's website gave me some good info on toxoplasmosis along with some other suggestions on how to adjust my furry kids to the new baby:

  • Spay or neuter your pet. Not only do sterilized pets typically have fewer health problems associated with their reproductive systems, but they are also calmer and less likely to bite.
  • Consult with a veterinarian and pediatrician if the thought of your newborn interacting with the family pet makes you uncomfortable. By working with these experts before your baby is born, you can resolve problems early and put your mind at ease.
  • Address any pet training and behavior problems. If your pet exhibits fear and anxiety, now is the time to get help from an animal behavior specialist. If your pet's behavior includes gentle nibbling, pouncing, or swatting at you and others, redirect that behavior to appropriate objects.
  • Train your pet to remain calmly on the floor beside you until you invite him or her on your lap, which will soon cradle a newborn.
  • Encourage friends with infants to visit your home to accustom your pet to babies. Supervise all pet and infant interactions.
  • Accustom your pet to baby-related noises months before the baby is expected. For example, play recordings of a baby crying, turn on the mechanical infant swing, and use the rocking chair. Make these positive experiences for your pet by offering a treat or playtime.
  • If the baby's room will be off-limits to your pet, install a sturdy barrier such as a removable gate (available at pet or baby supply stores) or, for jumpers, even a screen door. Because these barriers still allow your pet to see and hear what's happening in the room, he'll feel less isolated from the family and more comfortable with the new baby noises.
  • Talk to your pet about the baby, using the baby's name if you've selected one.
  • Finally, plan ahead to make sure your pet gets proper care while you're at the birthing center.

fter the baby is born:
  • Have your partner or friend take home something with the baby's scent (such as a blanket) for your pet to investigate before you bring your baby home from the hospital.
  • Greet your pet warmly and calmly when you return home after giving birth, and have someone else take the baby into another room. Keep some treats handy so you can distract your pet.
  • Bring your pet with you to sit next to the baby after the initial greeting. Reward your pet with treats for appropriate behavior. Remember, you want your pet to view associating with the baby as a positive experience. To prevent anxiety or injury, never force your pet to get near the baby, and always supervise any interaction.
  • Try to maintain regular routines as much as possible to help your pet adjust. And be sure to spend one-on-one quality time with your pet each day—it may help relax you, too. With proper training, supervision, and adjustments, you, your new baby, and your pet should be able to live together safely and happily as one (now larger) family.

So in a perfect world, these tips will instantly solve any pet versus baby issues with a few magical steps, right? Well, I am not so sure how they will work at our house as our menagerie of pets obviously run the joint. In fact, I fully anticipate there will be a mutiny and the kitties will be constantly attempting to take over the nursery. But even though they are little monsters, they will still get the rest of their nine lives to adjust to our little "Penny" starting in April! :-)

Maranda Hawkes
Volunteer Coordinator