Monday, November 29, 2010

Pedigree Foundation Helps Dakin Dogs

On my first day back from a long holiday weekend, I was pleased to find an award from the Pedigree Foundation as part of their "Dogs Rule" grant program. Pedigree donated $653.87 to the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society to help us get dogs adopted. You know what we're going to do with the money? We're going to use it to spay and neuter some of our adoption center dogs.

"But you already have your own spay/neuter clinic!" you say. Indeed, we do. Dakin's Community Spay/Neuter Clinic--which just completed its 10,000th surgery in a little more than a year--provides high quality, low-cost sterilization surgery for animals living in our community as well as animals in our adoption centers. But sterilizing adoption center animals costs money, and while we charge an adoption fee for our animals, it doesn't begin to cover the true costs of saving lives. There are the vaccines, the de-wormers, the flea and tick treatments, the antibiotics, x-rays, wound care, disinfectants, equipment, staff, electricity, heat, ....I could go on. Suffice it to say that every gift goes a long way around here!

So we'll gratefully take this generous grant from the good folks at the Pedigree Foundation and use it to help some great dogs find new homes. In the meantime, you might consider making one of these dogs your new best friend.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Super Spay/Neuter!

It seems like a superhuman feat, doesn't it, neutering 10,000 cats and dogs in just over a year? Well, the team of professionals at Dakin's Community Spay/Neuter Clinic made it happen! Wearing colorful scrubs instead of blue tights and a cape, the clinic folks today celebrated their 10,000th surgery.

Cat 10,000 is Victoria, a demure brown tabby who, at only 2 years of age, has already had several litters of kittens. Although she has lived the hard life of a free-roaming cat, a kind person has taken her in and, after spaying her, will find Victoria a new home. Most importantly, Victoria will never again bring kittens into a world where there are already far too many.

Here are some quick facts about Dakin's Community Spay/Neuter Clinic:

*75% of the animals we serve are cats; 25% are dogs.

*Of the dogs we serve, 1 in 4 is a pit bull or pit bull mix. Pit bulls also comprise 30-50% of the dogs entering animal shelters or animal control agencies in our region so even though they are only 3%of the overall dog population, pit bulls are the dogs most at risk of becoming homeless in our community. The Community Spay/Neuter Clinic will neuter any pit bull or pit mix for only $50.

*Of the cats we serve, more than 70% have never received veterinary care. Of those few cats who have received veterinary care, most of them received that care at a low-cost vaccine clinic.

*Many of the female cats we see have already had more than one litter of kittens....which is why we will spay any cat who is at least 8 weeks old and weighs at least 2 pounds. Cats can come into heat and become pregnant as early as 4-5 months of age. Waiting until 6 months or a year to spay a female cat may lead to unwanted kittens.

*Although our prices are already very low, we have additional assistance programs for people who may not be able to afford surgery. If you or someone you know receives state or federal aid, we will spay or neuter your cat for only $25. Feed feral cats in Holyoke? We'll neuter your Holyoke ferals for only 10 bucks. Call us at 413-781-4019 or email for more information.

How can we afford to do this? Some of the fees we charge for services help to off-set some of our expenses. But the truth is that we do it with some small grants and through the generosity of individual donors like you. Please consider giving generously to Dakin's Community Spay/Neuter Clinic.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dogs Deserve Better

When I was growing up in Ohio, it was commonplace to chain our dogs to doghouses. Most of them had no more than three or four feet of chain. Buck, my dad’s Brittany spaniel, lived his entire life at the end of that chain, within four feet of his doghouse.

It was my job to feed and water Buck every day after school. I dreaded this chore. Because Buck was so desperate for any type of warmth or contact, he lunged against his chain and jumped on me. His paws were inevitably muddied with the feces and filth that surrounded his little wooden doghouse. After shoving him off me, sometimes pulling him off by his thick leather collar, I righted his bowls and filled them. Then I walked away. The whole process couldn’t have given Buck more than thirty seconds of human contact. Once a day. For sixteen years.

While my childhood was longer ago than I care to admit, and dog care practices have come a long way since then, many dogs in our community continue to live their lives on the end of chains.

Such an existence is bleak beyond compare. Like Buck, most chained dogs have little room to move. Their once grassy area turns quickly to beaten dirt or mud. Their chain frequently becomes tangled or tips over food and water bowls. Their doghouses are often inadequate against the elements. And perhaps worst of all, they are socially isolated.

Like humans, dogs are social creatures. Even in their domesticated state, dogs crave the companionship of other pack members. When dogs don’t have other dogs to hang out with, they create pack members wherever they can find them—more often than not with us humans. Keeping a dog alone on the end of a chain frustrates this intense need for companionship.

When a dog lives his life on the end of a chain or in a small pen, he is often neglected in many other important ways. Chained dogs are less likely to receive adequate nourishment, shelter, or veterinary care. In fact, it is hard for many dog lovers to understand why people who chain their dogs have a dog at all.

If you know a dog who lives chained or penned, it is possible to help. Visit Dogs Deserve Better for ideas on how to compassionately approach people who chain their dogs. You can also learn how to work for legislation in your community that will prohibit or restrict this cruel practice.

In fact, residents of the Town of Amherst will debate a proposed bylaw at their fall town meeting this week. The bylaw would place limits on the ways outdoor dogs can be confined, including banning the use of heavy, short chains. The bylaw also prohibits any but working dogs from being confined outdoors at night. Based on similar ordinances in Greenfield and East Longmeadow, the Amherst proposal was initiated by citizens who care about dogs.

As I write this entry, my dogs are curled up next to me on the couch or snoring away on soft beds near the woodstove. Though it is a cold November evening, many dogs in our community are not so fortunate.