Wednesday, March 25, 2009

25 Random Things About DPVHS

In the spirit of welcoming people to join Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society on Facebook I'd thought I'd share "25 Random Things About DPVHS."

1. Janet Wilder Dakin (founder of the original Dakin Animal Shelter) was author Thornton Wilder's sister.

2. In the early 1900's Greenfield had its own Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. We still have their handwritten meeting minutes. One of the decisions they had to make at a membership meeting? Whether to send funds to help care for horses working in World War I.

3. DPVHS was formed in 2006 when the Dakin Animal Shelter in Leverett merged with the Pioneer Valley Humane Society in Greenfield. Today, those two buildings still serve animals--Greenfield as the rescue center and Leverett as the adoption center.

4. The board of directors of DPVHS can consist of anywhere between 11 and 19 volunteer members. There are currently 16.

5. The primary focus of DPVHS humane education programs is working with juvenile offenders and other kids who are at risk. These programs have been featured at conferences for both social workers and animal welfare workers.

6. It's very popular to name cats after foodstuffs here at DPVHS. In recent history, we've covered most of the dietary categories (depending on your chosen diet). Some of our kitties named after main courses and side dishes were Taco, Chili, Waffle, Bacon, Chicken, Meatball, Miso and Chowder. One must always appreciate the finer tastes in life, thus the following cats named after herbs and spices: Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Mint, Peppercorn, Sage, Parsley, Basil, Thyme and Ginger. Of course, we have the condiment cats (Gravy, Honey, Pickles and Olive); the Nuts (Cashew, Almond, Peanut, Pistachio); and the dairy (Butter, Pepperjack). We musn't forget to recognize our more nutritiously named kitties: the vegetables (Corn, Pumpkin, Pepper, Bean) and the fruits (Blueberry, Banana, Cranberry, Lemon, Gooseberry, Tangerine, Raisin, Raspberry, Apple). Of course, our most popular cat named based on food stuffs have been those named after candies (Butterscotch, Caramel, Jellybean, Kit Kat, Snickers, Fudge, Chocolate, Taffy, Bonbon, Lollipop, M&M, Reeses Pieces) and desserts (Creamsicle, Ginger Snap, Fluff, Frosty, Pie, Twix, Oreo, Cookie, Cupcake, Brownie, Double Stuff, Hostess). Finally, we must wash all these cat names down with our friends who are named after our favorite beverages: Cider, Latte, Hot Chocolate, Tea, Guinness, Martini, Whiskey, and last but not least, Got Milk!

7. Volunteers contributed more than 6,500 hours of time in 2008.

8. Thanks to an innovative free software for animal shelters called PetPoint, adoptable cat and dog profiles on the DPVHS website are now updated in real time.

9. DPVHS does not receive funding from any government agency, nor is it affiliated with any national animal welfare organization.

10. 81% of the animals admitted to DPVHS are felines. Most of these are kittens and will arrive in the 4 months of peak kitten season between June and September. Two-thirds of these kittens will need a stay in a foster home before they will be ready for adoption.

11. Thanks in part to aggressive spay/neuter programs like Feral Spay Sunday and CatSnip, the death toll for felines in Pioneer Valley animal shelters dropped 42% between 2002 and 2006.

12. All animals adopted from the DPVHS have microchip identification--a rice-sized radio transmitter injected just under the skin between their shoulder blades. When scanned, the chip can provide information about the animal's adoptive family. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like Lojack--you can't tell where your animal is through global positioning!

13. Some of DPVHS's Dixie Dogs come from Alabama. The others are from Menifee County, Kentucky. Our Yankee Dogs are from all over Massachusetts, including greyhound race tracks and animal control officers.

14. Jeff.

15. DPVHS believes so strongly that both indoor and outdoor cats should wear a collar and id tag that we give them away for free (in a variety of snazzy colors!).

16. It is a little known fact that copious amounts of chocolate are integral to the seamless operation of any animal welfare agency. Thanks to a special volunteer, both our sheltering locations have bottomless stashes of chocolate.

17. Our adoption center in Leverett may hold the record for the "Hardest Animal Shelter to Find." If it weren't for our road signs, we would have potential customers wandering all over the hills, trying fruitlessly to find cell service.

18. Ever heard that strange snorting sound coming from our dog kennel cd player? It's not Pigs on Tape. It's the sound of contented dogs being played over and over. The idea is to keep the dogs in our kennels relaxed by having them listen to the sounds of other dogs being happy.

19. DPVHS is the reigning holder of the much-coveted Furball Trophy. We retained the trophy (first won by Dakin staff at the 2005 Dog Day at Quonquont Farm obstacle course) by trouncing the MSPCA Springfield staff in the Great Bowling Throwdown of 2008.

20. DPVHS provides dog and cat food to be delivered to housebound seniors in local Meals on Wheels programs. We also work with the Amherst Survival Center to deliver pet food along with groceries to people with disabilities.

21. Volunteer Pet Taxi drivers shuttle daily loads of animals to and from local veterinarians for their spay/neuter surgeries. One volunteer even makes a weekly two-hour round trip to East Brookfield to a non-profit clinic that sterilizes most of our kittens.

22. Students from the University of Massachusetts can earn college credit through an internship with DPVHS. They participate in animal care, clinical procedures, behavior evaluations, customer service, humane education, and supply drives, all while learning about current issues in the animal welfare movement.

23. It makes our day when we receive letters and emails from our alumni animals. We just learned of a cat adopted from us in 1998 who has successfully recovered from surgery and treatment for cancer. Maxine is now fat and happy once again. We hope they all find such a loving home.

24. While our Greenfield rescue center was built as an animal shelter, our Leverett adoption center was originally built as a boarding kennel. The kennel owners lived in the house where our administrative offices are now located.

25. In 2008, DPVHS found new homes for more than 1,300 cats, dogs, puppies, and kittens. They were cuddly, rambunctious, tentative, frisky, mellow, loyal, frightened, silly, and (most of all) special.

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