Thursday, April 21, 2011

The good news we've been waiting for!

One of the many puppies rescued in Apache County.
This week an Arizona judge awarded custody of nearly 300 rescued animals to the Apache County Sheriff's Department. The animals were rescued from a hoarding situation on March 23 and have been living at a temporary shelter in St. Johns, Arizona, where UAN's Emergency Animal Rescue Service volunteers from around the country cared for them for several weeks.

The rescued animals will be transported to shelters and rescue groups throughout the Southwestern United States for foster care and adoption into new homes -- see list below.

You can see some of the adorable puppies who were rescued in our video:

Thanks to all the UAN volunteers, The Humane Society of the United States staff and volunteers, Apache County officials and the local residents who came together to help these animals get started on a better life!

And thanks to the following organizations for taking in these animals and agreeing to find them loving, adoptive homes:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rescued animals continue to thrive

Submitted by UAN Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies

Even though we did not get an ideal hearing last Monday (the judge ruled to give the defendant more time to prepare), we understand that in order to get the job done right, patience comes into play. In the meantime, the animals continue to thrive in our care: They are receiving food, water, socialization, treats and, most important, human interaction and compassion.

A once-shy dog does a "happy dance"
at the front of his cage.
We see daily improvements in most of our wallflowers or “shut downs." And the "semi-socials" are now bouncing at the front of their cages and vying for attention, as these pictures show. Due to the volunteers' dedication, many of the dogs and cats have gone from unsocialized or questionable adoption candidates to ready for adoption or short-term rehab. Daisy our pig is still thriving and loving every ounce of attention, and Click and Clack, the geese, are very accustomed to their new regular schedule. They start to get very vocal when they realize the dogs are getting fed and demand equal rights.

Chester (left) was humanely euthanized
due to serious intestinal problems that
many neglected dogs face because they
try to eat anything they can find.
We had sad news on Chester, the 10-year-old, emaciated, Labrador mix who was Buster’s kennel mate. After continuous vomiting and diarrhea with no response to a myriad of treatments, we collectively decided the kindest thing to do was put Chester out of his severe misery. He was not in stable enough condition to be an exploratory surgery candidate. After an immediate necropsy, a large denim rag was discovered entangled in his intestines, not allowing proper digestion of food and nutrition. Unfortunately this is typical of neglected and starving dogs: They will eat whatever they can find. At least he is not suffering anymore and was able to experience a short time of kindness and compassion.

Bucky is shy but is learning to trust.
As for the rest of our group, Scooter, our ultra-timid heeler mix is now happily approaching with wagging tail and hand licks, even jumping at the front of his cage. Bucky is learning to trust; Barney the ultra-shy Lab mix has made a complete turnaround, from shut down to seeking attention and accepting pets and attention; Juliet is just a bundle of happy puppy energy; and all of the animals are settling in enough to show their true, bright personalities.

On Friday, both a civil hearing (to decide custody of the animals) and a criminal hearing (charging the owner and caretaker with 7 felony and 10 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty) will take place. Until then, we will carry on, giving these animals the very best of the best in care that they so deserve. Thank you all for your support.


Sweet Pea

Thursday, April 7, 2011

An homage to UAN volunteers, featuring Deb Hutcherson

Submitted by volunteer Marcia Goodman of Cromwell, Connecticut

UAN shelter manager to tired volunteer near the end of a day: “Do you have time now?”

Tired volunteer to shelter manager: “Sure! What can I do to help?”

This routine exchange says all you need to know about UAN's Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteers. The volunteers come from all backgrounds, ranging from experts in animal care to people who just love animals and want to help. What the volunteers have in common is a drive to help animals in distress and a willingness to chip in and do whatever is needed: building cages, feeding and watering animals, cleaning cages, washing dishes, socializing animals as time permits, helping the vet or vet tech, and so on.

Deb carrying fence panels (left)
Volunteer Debra Hutcherson of Larue, Texas personifies this “can-do” attitude. I first met Deb at the UAN Mississippi response in 2010, where, on Day 1, she stood out as one of the people who had brought all the tools needed to build cages and went right to work. That was Deb’s second UAN deployment, and when I interviewed her then, asking why she volunteers with UAN, she said, “I feel that animals can’t speak for themselves and I want to help do that. Lots of people step up for human charities, but very few people are there to help animals."

Deb carrying puppies into the shelter
Deb has been on several UAN deployments since then, becoming one of Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies’ “go-to” people because she does everything, and does it all well. In fact, I got the idea for this post when I was reviewing photos from the recent UAN emergency sheltering operation in St. Johns, Arizona, and found that I have photos of Deb doing everything from carrying heavy cage parts to cleaning.

Deb building kennels
As far back as the 15th century, literature has contained the Everyman character, an “ordinary” individual with whom all readers can identify and who is often placed in extraordinary circumstances. Well, Deb personifies “Every UAN Volunteer." UAN volunteers identify with her, and she deploys to the extraordinary circumstances of building and running emergency animal shelters. She does every type of work a UAN volunteer can do, and she sets a high standard of excellence.

In focusing on Deb’s “Every UAN Volunteer” participation, this blog pays homage to all the volunteers at the St. Johns rescue, including friends already made and newly made, and also thanks Janell Matthies for organizing us. What a great team!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rescued animals get needed medical care

Submitted by EARS volunteer Beth Gammie of Phoenix, Arizona
The rescued animals are being well fed.

The 228 animals rescued from a hoarding situation in Apache County, Arizona arrived at UAN's emergency shelter on March 23 and 24 in varying conditions: emaciated, undernourished, injured, timid, terrified, shut-down and lethargic. Veterinarians examined each animal and assessed their medical condition so they could receive appropriate care at the shelter, or be transported to a veterinary clinic. The animals suffered from conditions one would expect in animals living with minimal or non-existent care: malnourishment, dehydration, worms, untreated injuries (including bone fractures), mange and dental problems. With sound nutrition, water, shelter, and TLC from UAN's Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteers, the turnaround in many of their conditions is amazing.

However, the sad reality for hoarded animals is that they often suffer serious medical problems that aren't so easily diagnosed and treated. UAN and its partnering agency, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), are determined that the rescued animals under their care receive the medical care they need.

Chester gets IV fluids at the vet clinic.
Chester is a case in point. This gray-bearded older gentleman quickly became a volunteer favorite at the shelter. His emaciated condition and lethargy appeared to be caused by malnutrition; his behavioral "shut down" seemed to result from the hoarding conditions under which he lived. Over the first week, Chester ate and drank. He hunkered down in the blanketed half-crate in his kennel, and seemed comforted by his kennel mate, Buster. However, Chester did not display the turnaround seen in other dogs. Two days ago, when we saw Chester vomiting, we transported him to the Alta Sierra Veterinary Hospital in Show Low for treatment. Dr. Steve Andersen ran bloodwork and put Chester on IV fluids. Friday Dr. Andersen said, "There's no diagnosis yet." Dr. Andersen and his team will continue to care for Chester, take X-rays and perform other diagnostic tests to find out what ails him.
X-rays revealed one dog
has a wire lodged in his torso.

For another emaciated dog being treated at Alta Sierra, X-rays revealed the cause of his problems. What appears to be a wire is lodged inside the torso of this poor guy. The staff at Alta Sierra continue to provide loving care to him, and make him as comfortable as possible as treatment options are assessed.

In Daisy the pig's case, the vet made a house call. At approximately 650 pounds, driving Miss Daisy requires a trailer. Dr. Milton DeSpain from the Cedar Ridge Veterinary Center came to the shelter and examined Daisy. EARS staff and volunteers noticed how overgrown Daisy's hooves are. During the rescue, HSUS staff noticed how painfully Daisy walked. We expected Dr. DeSpain to trim her hooves yesterday; however, he found Daisy so emaciated (she is only about half her healthy weight) he feared the sedation required for her hoof trimming might kill her. The best course of treatment is to continue building up her weight until it is safe to care for her hooves. We are also mixing her water with pedialyte and Gatorade on the vet's instruction because she is so dehydrated.

While we tend to focus more on the amazing recovery that many of the rescued animals make, EARS volunteers and staff alike bravely face hoarding's most tragic cases.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Squeaky toys squeak!

Submitted by EARS volunteer Beth Gammie of Phoenix, Arizona

Did I hear a squeak?
Word spread via the "canine telegraph" to the dogs at UAN's emergency shelter: squeaky toys squeak! Juliet, one of the more timid dogs rescued from the hoarding site in St. Johns, Arizona, made the initial discovery. Playing with a toy provided by UAN's Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteers, she chomped down. Lo and behold--a squeak emerged! Startled at first, Juliet soon realized how fun this new game actually is. Her playfulness is even more remarkable given the emotional and behavioral "shut down" that Juliet initially displayed when first rescued.

Juliet is just one of the many rescued animals who are displaying more barking, tail wagging and meowing now that they are feeling better. Janell Matthies, EARS Emergency Services Manager, noticed the changes taking place in the animals under our care. "As dogs feel better, there's more barking and acting out. Rawhides and toys are helpful for their well-being. This helps relieve their tension."

UAN Volunteer Coordinator Susie Hawkins
with Juliet and her kennelmate Deliah.
Bucky, another timid dog, continues to open up. EARS volunteer Jodi Jenkins gently works with Bucky to help him learn to trust people. The work pays off. "Bucky has changed so much, even in the short time I've been here," said Jodi, who arrived five days ago. Behavioral work with rescued dogs, who have had little positive human contact, happens at the dog's pace. Jodi sat outside Bucky's kennel and offered treats. On Wednesday, when Jodi fed Bucky, she said, "I went into the kennel and he came toward me then went back. So I put the food down in the middle of the kennel and stood there, so he'd get used to being around a person." By Thursday, he took treats from her hand. Jodi lights up when she tells what happened yesterday: "I said 'Hi, Bucky!' and he was at the front of the cage, tail wagging!"

An EARS volunteer and puppy take a break.
Daisy the pig is also feeling her oats. Our "serenity pig" used to lay in her pen as volunteers made her meals of swine feed, bread, fruit and vegetables mixed with water to a soupy consistency. It's hard not to notice that Daisy is feeling better. EARS volunteer Colette Neron said that Daisy "got right on her feet and came over for her breakfast." Jodi, who was helping, continued, "We were putting the food in to mix up ... She whacked the edge of the bowl with her snout and tipped it over, and started eating the feed" before the rest of her breakfast ingredients could be mixed in.

Seeing the animals under our care come back to life--even if it means dealing with a bit more barking--is a joy to witness. And having a once-terrified cat or dog learn to trust you after experiencing years of neglect and abuse from humans is profoundly humbling.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cute alert: Puppy videos

Check out these short videos of PUPPIES from our temporary shelter in Arizona. A team of UAN's Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteers is caring for more than 250 animals rescued from a hoarding case on March 23--including four nursing moms and their pups.

EARS volunteers have tails wagging

Submitted by EARS volunteer Beth Gammie of Phoenix, Arizona

EARS volunteer Colette Neron and
rescued momma dog Cookie Dough
When UAN's Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteer Colette Neron gets a break from her duties of feeding, watering and cleaning kennels, she heads straight to her favorite spot at this emergency shelter: a kennel containing Cookie Dough and her two pups. Cookie Dough is a sweet cattle dog mix who has won the hearts of many volunteers because of her unwavering good nature. It doesn't hurt that she has two cute, snow-white pups who bear a resemblance to miniature panda bears. Colette says, "She is so sweet. And she's a good mom, too." Tail wagging, Cookie Dough bounces with happiness whenever volunteers approach.

Here is a short video of Cookie Dough nursing her pups:

Scout is a little beagle mix who is slowly responding to love and attention from EARS volunteers. When he first arrived, this little guy made himself as little as possible, even burrowing his head down into the corner of his kennel. Volunteers sat quietly by Scout's kennel, helping him get used to simply having people around. It was a victory when Scout raised his head and dared to look around! Yesterday, he tentatively sniffed a treat that volunteer Bonnie Larson offered. Scout has gone through a lot, and its clear that he'll continue to need extra love and attention in order to learn people can be counted on. By rescuing Scout from a life of neglect and providing love and care, UAN has begun that process.

Rescued cat Filo gets a pet from
EARS volunteer Karen James
Karen James, an EARS volunteer from Denver, showers love and kindness on the cats at the shelter. "I love cats. I just absolutely love cats," she says. It shows as Karen talks about some of the cats she provides care for. Moses is a coal black cat rescued from the hoarding site. Karen saw his personality come out with just a bit of TLC. "He was cowering in the back of the cage, and he's just become a love-bug," she explains. "He's very playful." Shirley is a beautiful dilute calico who is also coming out of her shell. Karen says, "Shirley was a little timid but she is warming up to people." The neglect these cats experienced is evident. When Karen pet Filo, a beautiful Himalayan cat, she felt "tons of mats all over his fur."

Daisy the "therapy pig" has many admirers
As always, on this deployment the TLC flows both ways. Volunteers are touched by the love they receive from the animals under their care, and get attached to particular dogs, cats and even pigs! Daisy has become a "therapy pig" for EARS volunteers and UAN staff alike. Her serenity and peace is contagious. A few minutes sitting quietly with Daisy, scratching her back and rubbing her ears, does wonders. When volunteer Paula Redinger left yesterday, she asked me, "Can you get pictures of Baxter and Sneaky Pete? And the geese!" Miles is a scruffy terrier mix who is one of volunteer Bonnie Larson's favorite.

Along with sound nutrition, shelter and medical care, EARS volunteers provide the animals under their care one of the most important things needed for their healing: love. Showing these animals love--and watching them respond after a lifetime of neglect--is one of the most powerful experiences for those of us privileged to care for them.