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Stephenville, Newfoundland, Canada
SCAPA is a NO-kill, NO-cage animal shelter serving the Bay St. George area of Western Newfoundland. SCAPA survives solely on the support of the community and it's volunteers.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Be Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

The volunteers of SCAPA have been busy as usual, trying to make a positive difference in the lives of abandoned animals in the Bay St. George area. Unfortunately, it often seems as if we are heading upstream without a paddle. Here are some recent stories from the past few weeks and the lessons that these cases can teach us:

A few weeks ago SCAPA got a call about a sick cat. He was found by a woman who believed his back legs to be broken. She proceeded to put him in her shed with the mindset that she could heal him on her own. He had suffered in her care for 2 days before she called SCAPA. As soon as SCAPA got the call they called the emergency line for our local vet and went to get him straight away. It was immediately clear that his legs were not broken, but that he had an infection. He could barely move due to his sickness. He was rushed to the clinic where he tested positive for FIV/FELV. Unfortunately, he was too far gone to save. In his final moments he was given the name Handsome and was given more love than he probably ever received in his entire life.

LESSON: Unless you are a trained veterinarian, NEVER assume you can heal an animal on your own. If you ever come across a sick or injured animal please call your local shelter or your local veterinarian (they always have an emergency line for after hours) IMMEDIATELY! Good intentions should always be paired with good judgement for a good outcome.

Meet Jax. Jax is a beautiful boarder collie mix (medium sized) who has had a hard time in his short life. He is a male dog, just under a year old, who was left tied outside of Wal Mart. He was taken from there and put into a home by a rescuer. He was kicked out from that home for peeing on the floor and it was said he was to be put down if no home was found. When I picked him up he was extremely nervous, but after spending some time with us he warmed up and showed us how sweet and polite of a dog he really is. It is clear from his demeanour that Jax wasn't always treated kindly.

Jax spent the night with me in my home before going to SCAPA. He was extremely nervous of my dogs, but with short and spaced out visits with them he had warmed up a great deal in the short time he stayed with me. It also became clear that Jax has no issues when it comes to urinating in the house. While it is common for a dog on unfamiliar territory to have an accident, Jax didn't have a single one. In fact, when he needed to pee, he told me immediately by going over to the door that I was taking him in and out of, giving it a good hard sniff and look, then coming over to me, sitting and staring me straight in the face. Anyone who knows their own animal knows this look. I wasn't sure what kind of night I was in for with this strange dog, but he completely won me over. He was calm, gentle and quiet. And he soaked up as much affection as he could get. It was extremely hard for me to let this guy go. I can't imagine a better temperament in a dog. His first day at SCAPA he was extremely nervous of the other dogs, but he was given his own space. By day 2, our sweet girl Roxy had won him over and they became fast friends.

LESSON: To anyone who is a part of rescue or wishes to become a part of a rescue, please screen potential adopters before placing an animal in a home, we beg you! It is not beneficial to an animal, in any way, to bounce from home to home. While some adoptions may fall through, this cannot always be helped, you need to ask questions of those looking to adopt. Jax should have never been placed in a home where he would be thrown out for a simple accident. Also, if you have an animal, please pay attention to what they are trying to communicate. Know your pet. Not all animals are vocal about what they want, but with some simple observation you will quickly learn what they mean.

A few days ago we rescued a very small dog who was taken in at a local retirement home by the kind hearted residents and workers, and nicknamed Cocoa. He was seen roaming the area off and on for a few weeks. Cocoa was a very small and nervous dog, weighing no more than 10lbs, if that. We drove him out to the veterinary clinic in Maidstone, about an hour away, where he was to be fostered with one of the veterinarians. What felt like a good evening's work was quickly shattered. On our drive back we got a call from the veterinarian that Cocoa's owner had posted him on facebook as missing. While finding an owner should be good news it can also leave you with a sinking feeling. The owner stated that she often lets the dog out off leash and he usually comes back. The area Cocoa was found roaming is a very busy street leading out of town in which many folks come into doing highway speeds. Cocoa is also unaltered, so it's quite likely he may impregnate another dog, if he hasn't already, creating more unwanted animals.

LESSON: While not everyone will agree, we believe it is important to keep your pet on a leash when in a populated area. Yes, it was common practice to let your pets roam only a few short decades ago. However, times have changed. Our cities and towns grow more populated. Our streets have become much busier. And the chance of your beloved pet getting struck by a vehicle is much more likely. Even if your pet doesn't usually wander into the street, it only takes once. If something interesting enough is on the other side of the road and there's no-one there to stop him/her, chances are that road is getting crossed. We need to change with the times and not just utter the ignorant phrase, "This is how it always been done."

Furthermore, if your animal isn't fixed for whatever reason, it is YOUR responsibility to ensure that it doesn't breed. This means that your pet should only be let out of the house on a leash that has you on the other end of it so that you can stop anything from happening before it begins. Please don't create any more unwanted life, as there is already so much.

We beg you, be part of the solution, not the problem.

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