Monday, December 8, 2008

Purr-Fect Kittens

I wanted to share an email with you from Dr. Harriet Blanton, one of the local veterinarians who performs sterilization surgery on DPVHS kittens prior to adoption:

"Dear DPVHS,
I can no longer keep silent about the state of Dakin's kittens.  I have had it up to here with them and must reconsider whether I can continue to do surgery on them.  They are WAY TOO FRIENDLY! THEY PURR WAY TOO MUCH! THEY TAKE NAPS while waiting for their surgery! They CHASE THEIR TAILS and generally have way too much fun! What the heck are you guys doing to them?!

"Seriously now, whatever it is, please keep it up.  I laughed my way through all 16 of them today (or however many it was)--they are a delight. I was forced to just hold one for a while (Ruby, I think her name was), just because she looked a little worried and because I needed a serious kitten fix (as opposed to a silly kitten fix).  It's so nice to do surgery on kittens with some fat on them, and no fleas, and no ear mites. You guys do an awesome job with these little babies and I thank you for it! (although I have had to get a lot more creative in figuring out ways to stop their purring--these guys are tough!). Please pass on my thanks to all the good folks who make these kittens what they are."

There are a whole lot of good folks who make DPVHS kittens what they are. There are the good people in our community who find them and bring them to us (often spaying their mother in the process).  

There are the volunteer foster parents who keep the kittens in their own homes until the kittens are fat, healthy, and well socialized (did you know that more than 80% of all kittens admitted to DPVHS will need foster care prior to placement?).  

There are the well-trained DPVHS staff who will perform blood tests, administer vaccines, treat parasites, and cuddle every kitten who comes through.  

There are the dedicated shelter volunteers who clean cages, fluff up the pillows, and play with the kittens during their stay with us.  
There are the local veterinarians who discount their services to allow each DPVHS kitten to be neutered prior to adoption.  

And, finally, there are our angels who bring the whole thing full circle by coming into the adoption center, falling in love, and taking a new kitten (or cat, or dog) home for the rest of her life.

Thank you all for making DPVHS kittens so purr-fect!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Humane Heroes Battle...Invasive Plants!

One of the principals of living a humane ethic is that we don't concentrate our efforts solely on the welfare of companion animals like dogs and cats. It demands that we take a broader view of animal welfare and the environment. Which brings us to land stewardship. 

DPVHS owns the land where our shelter buildings sit in Greenfield and Leverett. Both properties are wooded and offer terrific views of surrounding conservation land. The Leverett property has a large meadow--many of you may have met your best canine friend in the giant fenced play area on that meadow. Over the years, though, our beautiful meadow has been overrun by thickets of invasive multiflora rose bushes.

So on a brisk Sunday in November, a team of intrepid briar-battlers converged upon the Leverett meadow and met head-on the multiflora rose invasion.  A big tail wagging thank you to Allison, Ann, Sue, Jan, Maida, Sherrill, and Carole for their persistence in pulling, snipping, tugging, and dragging the nasty thickets into piles to be burned later in the winter (controlled 
burning will help stop the development of new plants and seeds).

One of DPVHS's best buddies is Allison, an avid dog lover, the talented designer of things like our logo and newsletters, and an advocate for native wildflower and plant species.  Here's what Allison had to say about our multi-flora rose adventures:

"Our work on the 16th concentrated on the dense thickets of multiflora rose, and a few of the Japanese honeysuckles, which surround the DPVHS property.

"Multiflora rose and Japanese honeysuckle are non-native invasive plants first introduced to the U.S. and Europe in the mid-1800s from Japan and China. Multiflora rose was originally used as rootstock for horticultural breeding. Japanese honeysuckles were imported and planted as ornamental shrubs. Both plants became widely used. In the 1920s and 30s, they were actively promoted, along with other species such as Japanese barberry and autumn olive, by organizations such as the U.S. Soil Service (now USDA) for use as living fences, windbreaks, crash barriers (!), and wildlife food sources.

"With the decline of New England agriculture, multiflora rose and Japanese honeysuckle quickly escaped controlled plantings and invaded abandoned fields and forest edges.  Like many successful invasive plants, they have the ability to thrive in a broad range of conditions: wet meadows and dry fields, full sun to shaded forest understory. The rose hips and honeysuckle fruit produced at DPVHS not only spread new plants on that site, but are bird-borne to other properties within a wide radius.

"As evidenced at DPVHS, multiflora roses can quickly form dense, impenetrable thickets which cut off light, suck up water and nutrients, and physically displace existing native species. My quick walk around the perimeter of the property showed very few remaining native plant species in what was once a rich and diverse wetland/meadow. Low plant diversity means low diversity of insects, birds, and other animals as well. The health of one piece of property affects the surrounding areas. Good land stewardship means promoting native species and diverse habitats, removing invasive species, and monitoring for new infestations."

For more information on invasive plants, visit the Invasive Plant FAQ of the New England Wildflower Society.