Thursday, May 21, 2009

There is NO Excuse for Animal Cruelty

I learned today that convicted dog fighter and former NFL superstar, Michael Vick, regrets his criminal activity and wants to spend his future days telling young people that fighting dogs is wrong. Not only is animal abuse wrong, it is against the law. Breaking the law means punishment. Michael Vick went to jail for 23 months because he broke the law and caused many, many dogs to suffer. I hope Michael Vick is really and truly sorry; I hope Michael Vick can make a difference and prevent young people from engaging in dog fighting.

I also hope that whoever burned Gertrude is sorry. The person who committed this crime was not caught and did not serve time. Our veterinarians had never seen a living animal as badly burned as Gertrude. D.C. Animal Control picked up the two-year-old cat on the streets of Washington on April 14. Her whiskers were singed, the skin on her feet was completely burned off, she had more burns on her legs and face, her fur was full of black ash, and she smelled of smoke.

We don't know how she was burned, but my suspicion is that someone intentionally hurt her. The League veterinarian who first saw Gertrude wondered how she had survived the burns without prior treatment. Even with immediate care, the hospital concluded that most likely her right hind leg and tail would eventually need to be amputated.

What’s worse, the cat’s burns were not her only problem: she was dehydrated and extremely malnourished. She should have weighed seven pounds. Instead, she weighed three. That means that little Gertrude was on her own for quite awhile.

“We treated her burns with daily bandage changes and cleaning, and it now looks as if she might only need a toe amputation,” said shelter medicine manager Maureen Henry. “She was always a really sweet cat, and we were sure she would get adopted quickly once she healed.”

To everyone’s amazement and relief, Gertrude made a full recovery. She will get to keep all her legs and all but the very tip of her tail. The skin on her feet has grown back. Gertrude was moved from the League's hospital to the adoption area today.

It shouldn't take long for her to find her forever home. “Whoever gets her is going to love her—she loves to be held, she loves to play with toys, she’s just the best,” Marq Nelson, the League’s feline expert, said. “I’d take her home with me in a second if I could.”

Someone knows what happened to Gertrude. Maybe someone witnessed someone torturning the trusting tabby. No one reported seeing anything. That, too, should be a crime. Animal abuse is against the law, but prosecution only happens when the crime is reported. If you see someone hurting an animal, please report it to the proper agency. I don't know who finally called the Washington Humane Society to report seeing the badly burned Gertrude, but I sure am glad that they did.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fact or Fiction

Cats are incredibly interesting animals. Unfortunately common myths about cats can cause serious problems including too many cats and not enough home!

Test yourself

Cats always land on their feet. True or False

FALSE -- While cats instinctively fall feet first and may survive falls from high places, they also may receive broken bones in the process. Some kind of screening on balconies and windows can help protect pets from disastrous falls.

Cats should drink milk everyday. True or False

FALSE -- Most cats like milk, but do not need it if properly nourished. Also, many will get diarrhea if they drink too much milk. If it is given at all, the amount should be small and infrequent.

Cats that are spayed or neutered automatically gain weight. True or False

FALSE -- Like people, cats gain weight from eating too much, not exercising enough or both. In many cases, spaying or neutering is done at an age when the animal's metabolism already has slowed, and its need for food has decreased. If the cat continues to eat the same amount, it may gain weight. Cat owners can help their cats stay fit by providing exercise and not over-feeding.
Do you have a question about cats? Email me at debbie@warl.org or ask your local veterinarian.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Day in the Life of the Shelter

Whittier Education Center student photographers shared many of their images, taken at the Washington Animal Rescue League's shelter and medical center, during a one day exhibit A Day in the Life of the Shelter on display in the foyer at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton's office arranged for the special venue. Mrs. Norton viewed the students' work, listened to them tell about their experiences and spoke to them and the other guests. Mrs. Norton encouraged the students to continue taking pictures and to keep caring about animals.
Families, friends, Washington Animal Rescue League staff, Whittier Education Center teachers and administrators, and House members and their staffers toured the 17 panel exhibit. Photos of dogs and cats recovering from spay surgery, cuddling with volunteers, and cared for by staff were displayed along with a number of portraits. The photos, part of a national Be Kind to Animals Week celebration, had visitors smiling and oohing and aahing..
Students did not shoot pictures during the event. Joyce Davis, a Washington Animal Rescue League volunteer, covered the reception, taking the pictures featured in this entry. Student photographers posed with Mrs. Norton, police officer Heather Straker and with their work.

The League was very proud of the students. Their work will travel to other sites. And, we hope that not only will the fifteen students continue to tell stories through photos and accompanying journal entries, but that the League can work with another group of student photographers before Be Kind to Animals Week in 2010.

A huge Thank You goes to nature photographer Joanne Miller who oversaw the artistic end of the project and Whittier Education Center Literacy Coach Jackie Anderson who was our school liaison.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Be Kind to Animals Week

The first week in May marks the annual celebration of Be Kind to Animals Week. The Washington Animal Welfare League is marking the event in a BIG way. We are hosting a photo exhibit at the U. S. House of Representatives Rayburn Building on Thursday, May, 7th. The photos -- of dogs, cats, WARL staff and volunteers, -- were taken by 15 Whittier Education Center fifth graders. Whittier is a school located several blocks from the League. The students, and their teacher Ms. Anderson, walked to the League to visit the animals and take pictures. They learned about photography from nature photographer Joanne Miller. Their images tell the story of A Day in the Life of the Shelter. See the photos at the Rayburn Building from 10:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. on May 7th. A special reception honoring the students will be held at 4:30 p.m. with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton speaking at 5:00 p.m.