December 6 was just another Monday morning at Capella University in downtown Minneapolis when academic advisor Nicole Neist took a break from advising master’s degree students and checked her Facebook page. Although she is a self-professed dog lover, what she saw on Facebook that morning touched her, and she sprang into action, aided by the help of her boss and colleagues.
On November 27, Phoenix had been rescued by a passerby who heard soft cries coming from a dumpster in Minneapolis. Inside was a kitten suffering from burns and wheezing from smoke inhalation, but also shivering from the cold. This Good Samaritan rescued the kitty and brought him to us. Veterinarian Dr. Shelli Stulken and a team of veterinary technicians sprang into action when the kitten was admitted.
While half his fur and all his whiskers were singed, fortunately, it turned out he did not have severe burns. Named Phoenix by our staff, the kitten bounced back quickly after receiving medical treatments. Friendly and purring, he rubbed up against his cage and sought attention from his caregivers, and in just one week Phoenix was in one of our adoption centers.
When Nicole read Phoenix’s story on the AHS Facebook page, she re-posted his photo, asking her friends, “Can someone give this cat a home?” Minutes later, she was struck by the thought that this cat was meant for her. She asked her boss and colleagues if she could leave work to be at AHS when the doors opened. Since she rides the bus to work, a coworker loaned her a car.
“When I arrived at AHS I was the first person there,” she said. “The staff there was really excited for me, and many reached out and took our picture and talked to me. The idea of Phoenix rising from the ashes is really what drew me to him and we bonded immediately.”
Nicole’s boss gave her the afternoon off, and she spent it playing with Phoenix and posting videos and photos of his homecoming. “One of my friends posted on my Facebook page, ‘You’ve gone from cat skeptic to crazy cat lady faster than anyone I have ever seen.’”
Nicole says Phoenix is really a calm presence. “He doesn’t seem to be damaged by what’s been done to him, which speaks volumes to his character. Phoenix is going to live a long and happy life. With me.”
Celebrating its 10th year, Animal House has a staff of dedicated, animal-loving boarding associates at the ready every day—including holidays—taking care of your beloved pets in a sparkling clean facility located on the north side of AHS in Golden Valley. There are “critter” areas, a spacious cat room and 46 dog kennels.
“Some might think it’s just for dogs and cats like other boarding facilities, but we care for lots of other animals including frogs, bunnies, turtles, chickens, birds, fish, gerbils, mice, pot-bellied pigs and snakes,” says Boarding Manager Laurie Fosler. “We’ve even had an aquasaur, otherwise known as a triops or tadpole shrimp.”
“We have a fairly regular boarder who is an umbrella cockatoo,” says Laurie. “If he gets a little too loud he gets to be at the front desk.”
Staff makes sure your pet’s stay will be as comfortable as your own home. Floors are heated in the dog condo areas (and some suites connect for guests who are buddies), fresh water is delivered automatically, and dogs enjoy outdoor exercise four times a day. Extras like elevated beds, special mats, frozen treats, nail clipping, brushing and other services are available. Dogs can also be treated to a leash walk along a wooded path and pond in adjacent Theodore Wirth Park.
Cat boarding has become more popular over the past decade, says Susan Heath, boarding associate lead. The cat room has a large window connected to outside exercise areas plus a play area for individual cats and for those that pass a socialization test with other felines. “We are experts in individualized care,” says Susan. “Many of our cat boarders have special needs, such as daily meds or diets.”
Laurie says pet boarding clients also feel good about using Animal House because they know that 100 percent of boarding fees go to help the homeless pets at Animal Humane Society.
Pick-up and drop-off is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, excluding major holidays, when Animal House is closed to the public but fully staffed. For more information visit the web site or call 763-489-2222.
The smells of holiday meals are hard for us to resist and even harder for pets with their heightened sense of smell. But many common holiday foods can upset their normal digestive systems. By watching for warning signs you’ll help them stay safe and out of the emergency vet’s clinic.
Lynn Hartman, veterinary technician supervisor at AHS, says the signs that determine if your pet is sick may be subtle. “Lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and salivating excessively can be signs that your pet consumed something that’s making them ill,” says Lynn. “But it’s important to realize that any altering of your pet’s normal behavior is a warning sign.”
For example, chocolate can be lethal to dogs, and sometimes hyperactivity and a high heart rate is the primary symptom of a potentially life-threatening ingestion. In any case, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and contact your veterinarian, she says.
If the animal vomits once or twice or has mild diarrhea but is otherwise behaving normally, it may be a minor issue. “But if the animal cannot keep anything down or appears to have difficulty in defecating, it may have a gastrointestinal blockage, which can be very severe,” she says.
Food isn’t the only potential hazard; some pets chew on decorations like plants, lights, ornaments or tinsel, all of which can cause issues if ingested. “Plants such as poinsettias, mistletoe, holly and some evergreens are poisonous; pets need to be refrained from chewing on them,” she says. Lit candles should be placed away from pet access for holiday safety too.
“The general rule of thumb is to think of your pet when you place food and decorations around your home,” Lynn says. “The best way to avoid holiday problems from happening is to keep a close eye on your pet.”
If, despite your best efforts, your pet still gets into something it shouldn’t, knowing what your pet consumed will help the veterinarian diagnose and treat the problem.
Don’t forget the escape artists. Pets should be watched closely or placed in a secured room or kennel during holiday entertaining. “With so many people coming and going, make sure your pet is microchipped and wearing identification tags too,” Lynn says.
Ditch the box of chocolates or the brooch that says “No. 1 Teacher.” Get creative with a gift for your child’s teacher, and give the gift of an educational program presented by an Animal Humane Society humane educator.
Affordable classes available in the schools for grades K to 12 are offered—from pet responsibility and animal communication to urban wildlife and endangered species. Multiple purchase discounts are available. Can’t decide? Visit one of our AHS sites and ask about a gift certificate to go with our classroom programs brochure. Everyone aces this one.
There are so many things to consider during the holiday season. Remember to keep your pet safe from the dangers holiday plants and decorations can present by using the following tips from AHS Training & Behavior Manager Paula Zukoff.
Did you know there are several ways to help us help homeless pets in this season of year-end giving? Open your heart with the gift of a vehicle, stock options, or by making a gift in memory or in honor of someone special. Or donate to our wish list or remember us in your estate plans.