Friday, November 30, 2012

Cats: Fact vs. Fiction

At the Humane Society, we love both dogs and cats, and want them all to find loving homes.  But sometimes we find that people who have never shared their lives with felines have a few misconceptions!

Myth: Cats are always aloof and independent.  They don’t really have personalities like dogs.

Cats come in all colors, big and small, with short, medium and long hair, and their personalities vary just as much.  While some cats are stand-offish, just as many are lap-loving snuggle bugs.  Some will follow their humans from room to room, greet them at the door at the end of the day, and even play fetch.  Our adoption counselors will work with you to match the cat’s personality to yours, providing just the right companion.

Myth: If you have a dog at home, you can’t adopt a cat since they’ll never get along.

We’ve heard the phrase “fighting like cats and dogs”, but in most cases this just isn’t true.  Cats and dogs have been known to become BFFs, cuddling up together, and even grooming one another.  If you’re thinking about adding a cat to your family, check out your dog’s behavior around cats (on a leash, for safety).  If the dog is neutral, curious, or friendly, you’ve got a great chance of a harmonious future - with proper introductions.

Myth: Cats belong outdoors and don’t make good house pets.

Cats are much safer and happier indoors, away from the hazards of the great outdoors.  Indoor cats make great companions, and won’t grace you with prizes like dead birds and fleas.  Cats are delighted to curl up by a sunny window and watch the world go by, cozy in a house with a favorite human or two.

Ok, but I’ve always been a dog person – I know I just wouldn’t be happy with a cat.

Many cat people started out as dog-lovers, and over time learned about cats, often by accident.  In fact, cats can be just as loving, and can be a great low-maintenance alternative to dogs.  People with long hours or occasional travel find that not having to rush home to walk a dog works better with their lifestyles.  An older cat, or perhaps a pair to amuse one another, can be just fine on their own.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Jonah

Jonah shares a moment with HSEC Director of Outreach Katie Benson

Monday, November 26, 2012

Adoptable Animals - Sushi

Sushi is a delicacy, and that describes this deliciously beautiful three year old perfectly.  With show-stopping good looks, this fellow shouldn’t have a care in the world.  But sadly, we think Sushi is depressed and lonely.

Transferred to us from the Pitt County shelter, Sushi is a seal point Himalayan mix, with beautiful chocolate markings and silky soft beige fur.  He arrived with a friend who has since been adopted, and Sushi has spent too much time laying in his cage, looking sad.  He was given a clean bill of health, and we think he is just very unhappy living in a shelter environment.

This gorgeous guy is up for some petting, and in need of a quiet environment where he can move at his own pace to build up trust and become comfortable.  He needs some extra TLC, and enough loving to feel wanted without being overwhelmed.

With some time and the adoration he deserves, we think Sushi can be a wonderful pet.  Come and visit Sushi at our Tupper Road facility, and see if you don’t fall in love with this beauty of a cat!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday

It’s Black Friday, the day when yesterday’s gratitude for what we have turns to a desire to grab many things we don’t. In our frenzies, we hope you don’t forget what’s important, and think about adopting, not shopping, if there’s a person on your list who would like a pet for Christmas.

Many of those looking for pets overlook the option of adopting an animal from a shelter or rescue, favoring a certain breed or preferring a puppy or kitten.  We often have purebreds, and find that many mixed breeds are healthier and happier. We also have puppies and kittens that pass through our doors, but older animals can be even better pets;  they’re more likely to be settled down, and their personalities show, helping you to choose just the right fit.

At the risk of seeming a bit grinchy, we just don’t think surprising a loved one with a pet is a good idea, for the pet or the recipient. We firmly believe that the key to a lifetime of love is a mutual bond right from the beginning, and we wouldn’t dare to take away that important step in finding just the right pet.  We’d encourage you to bring your loved one to our facility to meet and choose a new companion, or just present the person with a gift certificate under the tree, making their own choice when the holiday hubbub has died down.

This holiday season, help us make both homeless pets and pet-seeking humans happy.  If you are looking for a new best friend, or know someone who is, please remember:  Don’t shop – adopt!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

This Thanksgiving, many of us are counting our blessings.  Perhaps they include a roof over our heads, good food, a loving family, and good friends.  And those of us who are really fortunate will count a furry friend (or two, or three…) among the very good things in our lives.

If we were cat and dog whisperers, we’ll bet those pets would have a thing or two to say about gratitude, especially from those who have been rescued from bad situations and homelessness, some with a stay in an animal shelter before settling into your home.  Yes, snuggling in to a warm, loving home with winter approaching is something for us and our pets to be especially thankful for. 

At this time of year, we at the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina give thanks for you – our volunteers, donors, adopters and goodwill ambassadors.  Without your support, our work to match our wonderful animals with equally wonderful humans would be impossible.

As we look ahead, we’d like to ask you to help us increase the number of dogs and cats who can give thanks for the warmth and security of a forever home.  Share our posts with your Facebook friends, and recruit them to like us and get our news feeds.  If you have the time and the means, volunteer or donate – or both!  And if you’re thinking of bringing some holiday cheer to your life and that of a homeless pet, adopt!

But most of all, thanks for being a friend to our cause!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Puppy Love Pt 2: Bringing Puppy Home

Welcome to Part II of our series on adopting puppies. In Part I we took a look at the decision to adopt a puppy and the pros and cons of choosing a young animal over an adult. Today we'll discuss adopting the puppy, puppy-proofing your home, and what to expect over the first few days.

One of our sweet HSEC litters available for adoption!
It shouldn't come as a surprise that HSEC recommends adopting a puppy from an animal welfare organization or city shelter, especially if you are adopting a family companion, not choosing a breed for a specific purpose (hunting, herding, competition, or show). Many pet stores have ties to puppy mills, but even if they are above board, adopting from a store causes demand for the intentional breeding of puppies. (If you choose a breeder, the ASPCA recommends a small scale operation that does not sell to pet stores.) There are already many wonderful and loving puppies available at animal welfare organizations.

Before you head over to the facility, purchase the major supplies your puppy will need:
  • Water and food bowls
  • Collar and leash
  • Puppy food - not adult dog food. Like all babies, puppies have nutritional needs different to those of adults.
  • Number of a local vet
Other supplies will vary by circumstance and include:
  • Outdoor shelter (if your pet will be spending time outdoors other than walks and playtime, this is a MUST)
  • Carrier (for a small dog)
  • Crate and/or bed
  • Pee pads
  • Treats
  • Toys
  • Grooming items like brush, nail clippers, etc. 
  • Puppy proofing supplies (see below)
If you don't have toys when you bring the puppy home, they will find something to play with. Don't let them chew or play on things that are off limits even once, or they will continue this behavior. Having acceptable toys at the ready is the best plan.

Also before picking up the puppy, make sure your home is ready! Puppy proofing your home is not entirely dissimilar to baby proofing. Not only are you looking to keep the puppy safe and out of trouble, the goal is to make it possible for the puppy to be able to be in your home without constant supervision.

For each room, ask yourself the following questions: What's dangerous? What's breakable? What's off-limits? Then act accordingly.
  • Place household cleaners and other toxic items out of the puppy's reach. Consider temporarily removing obstacles like swinging doors that could shut on a neck or tail.
  • Remove breakables or set them up high. Put chewables (like shoes) in closets with doors that shut firmly. Pick up small objects like toys that could be swallowed.
  • Ensure that the puppy won't be able to pull items down on itself (for example, pulling a tablecloth down with everything that's on it). 
  • Think about things like low windows and wide holes in decks or between stairs. Electric cords and dangling cords from blinds are other potential hazards.
  • Remove access to garbage cans or diaper pails.
  • Create a safe space where the puppy can play without concern. A baby gate is a great way to separate a room without shutting the puppy behind a door. 
  • We recommend that the garage and the bathrooms should be totally off-limits, at least when the puppy is young.
As the puppy gets older, smarter, and calmer, you will be able to relax most of these measures. For a full list of potential puppy proofing ideas, check out this site.

Finally it's time for the exciting moment when the puppy comes home for the first time. Remember that this can be scary and stressful for your new baby, so be patient and don't overwhelm them with too much all at once. Walk them around the house and give them lots of love and attention. Plan for them to sleep near you on the first few nights.

In all the excitement, don't forget to take care of important details for the puppy's health and safety. Call your vet as soon as the puppy is home and make an appointment for a check up. And purchase a dog tag that has your information on it, just in case the puppy is separated from you.

Over the first couple of days, you will get to know your puppy's personality and they will become more comfortable in your home. Problems like whining at night and nervous behavior should subside during this point. Now it's time to think about potty training, obedience training, and proper socialization.

And finally, enjoy this time and the new addition to your family.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Puppy Love Pt I: Pros and Cons

HSEC puppies!
Puppies. The word conjures big eyes, wiggly tails, soft ears, and, of course, fuzziness. Puppies are an adorable package of enthusiastic love, which is one reason why they tend to get adopted more readily than older dogs.

But is a puppy the best pet for you? This week we'll take a look at adopting puppies. Part I will feature the pros and cons of choosing a puppy over an adult dog. Part II will describe how to get your home ready for a new puppy and the responsibilities of puppy ownership. It's a whole week of puppy cuteness, so let's get started!

Puppies can be great pets, but they aren't right for every household. Adopting a puppy is a big decision, so be sure to consider carefully before making this choice.

In order to become happy, well behaved adults, it's important for puppies to be socialized correctly, and it is easier to cultivate good habits in a puppy than it is to attempt to undo an adult's poor socialization. In some cases, adult dogs may already have some bad habits that can be difficult to break. But keep this in mind: your new puppy has to be socialized correctly - by you! That's a significant commitment, and improper socialization can result in a dog that is fearful or unpredictable. Many adult dogs waiting for homes have already been properly socialized and will be able to fit seamlessly into the environment of your home.

Another reason to adopt a puppy is that a young animal is more trainable than an older one. However, just like socialization, you are the one who must train your puppy. Many adults are already housebroken and some will have obedience training as well.

It may be true that a puppy can be raised to fit a particular lifestyle, but it's also true that an existing lifestyle may not have room for a puppy. Puppies are cute! But they will chew things. They will have potty accidents. They will make messes. That's not to say that adult dogs don't do all those things. But adults will already have some good habits and most likely will be over the worst of the destructive and energetic phases that make life with a puppy so unpredictable.

Chutney checks things out
And the puppy's behavior isn't the only unpredictable thing about it. With a puppy of unknown heritage, it's impossible to predict adult size, weight, or temperament. And that can be really important in knowing how a dog will fit in with your family. It's exciting to see a puppy grow and mature. But if you want a dog to fill a particular niche - high energy, low energy, big, small, etc - an adult is your best bet.

Then finally, there are two more really good reasons to choose an adult over a puppy. Adult dogs are less likely to be adopted. And they will love you just as much.

Does that mean that an adult dog is always the best choice? Not at all. For experienced dog owners, raising a puppy can be a rewarding and joyful experience. Keep in mind that just like any adoption, a puppy is for life.

Is a puppy right for you? In Part II, we'll discuss making your house ready for a puppy and what to do once the puppy is home!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Snickers

Cat Scratch Fever

by Beau Dove

My friend just got the cutest little kitten and I have to admit that I have never been more scared of something that small in my life. The little rascal pounces, scratches, and bites! What may be considered playful behavior in to others, seems more like malicious acts of terror towards me. Despite the fear that is invoked, I have been very welcoming and understanding of this little curious companion. 

Since this is a house cat, I have come to terms with a certain amount of pent up energy it strives to release on house visitors. Sometimes the little cutie will even hop into my lap and purr for a pet and some much needed attention. That is, until “OUCH” the claws come out and pierce right though my pant legs! As much as I want to be mad at the cat, I can’t hold her responsible. These animals need to stretch out their claws and keep them sharp. A lot of house cat owners only look at the claws as a nuisance and will have the cat declawed. Yes, this will keep them from scratching everything in sight (visitors, couches, walls, pillows, shoes, etc.) but I believe that the easy way out can lead to a huge disadvantage for the cat’s well-being.

Here are a few alternative ways to keep your ferocious feline from tearing apart your furniture and your skin.

Designated scratch areas
Having a designated scratch area will help with the cure the need for claw sharpening in an appropriate manner. Most cat owners have some sort of scratch post or scratch box set up for their feline friends. After doing some research, no one scratch object stands out above the rest… the only trick is making sure the cat understands that they the scratch tool is their sole area allotted for using those sharp claws. Spread scratching posts throughout the house to make sure that there is one whenever the need strikes.

There are a few tricks you can use to discourage scratching on your favorite items. Try double-sided tape or aluminum foil. Both of these are not nice for the cat's claws. Cats also dislike citrus smells, so a bit of scent can help keep your house cat out of a particular area. There are even products like softpaws that fit over the claw like a cap and are intended to stop scratching from happening. Keep claws clipped short so that destruction is kept to a minimum.

Use your authority
Personally, I find it much easier to discipline a dog versus their cat counterparts. Despite this feeling, you must still set the rules for a house cat… especially when your furniture is in jeopardy. My friend with the kitten mentioned above uses a squirt bottle to teach her about the boundaries. Now the cat has a much better idea of what is for scratching and what is off limits. If you are without a squirt bottle or just believe that squirting their cute faces is a wrongful act, then a sharp and distinct tone like “NO!” seems to suit.

Block off the fragile
I see child gates in dog owner’s houses all the time. Obviously, this will not work for high jumping cats but closing them off while you are out of the house by using doors. Non cat owners do not know of the destruction that an unsupervised house cat can create during the owner’s absence. Simply guarding a house cat from the temptation can be your best bet at keeping furniture in tip top shape!

Bottom line, cats need to scratch, and it's unrealistic to expect them to stop this activity. So provide them with a scratching alternative, discourage them from attacking your precious possessions, discipline them if they do, and finally, eliminate the potential for destruction by removing the cat's access to your favorite things.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Foster Tails - Precious and Mystic

Living in a cage is not a long-term solution for homeless pets, and we’re grateful to be able to call on a group of dedicated foster volunteers who open their hearts and homes to provide TLC and a cage break to animals in need.

Three year-old Precious is a kitty who’s currently enjoying life in a foster home.  This solid black beauty came to us when her human became too ill to care for her, and she spent much of her time lying in her cage.  Friendly and delighted to be petted, Precious soaks up love like a sponge, and will be an ideal pet for someone looking for affection and devotion.

“Precious is really enjoying all the new space,” reports her foster mom.  She’s been exploring the house, and was happy to join her temporary human in bed.  A bit chubby, Precious is running up and down stairs and chasing her little toy balls, becoming a bit more svelte in the process.  She loves being brushed, and is all spiffed up and ready to go to her forever home, where she can be the Precious kitty once more. 

Described by her foster mom as “pretty close to perfect”, Mystic is a sleek black retriever mix with just a touch of white on her chest.  She’s a dog of many talents:  a laid-back gal who enjoys being near her humans, as well as a playful pup who loves to walk and play fetch.   Mystic is also a bright girl who’s housebroken and knows sit, lay, stay, and come.   She’s not a barker, and can even catch treats in the air!

Mystic has forgiven the circumstances that brought her to us, and loves people and dogs.  She has blossomed in a home, and is hoping to find one of her own very soon.  She’s willing to bring a lifetime of love and fun in return.  Her foster mom sums it up perfectly:  “All in all, she will make someone or some family very happy.”

We would love to see Precious and Mystic move directly from their foster homes to their forever homes.  To visit with them, contact us at 252-413-7247 or and we’ll arrange a visit at the foster home or in our Tupper Road facility.  Please share their story to help them find the love they deserve!

Friday, November 2, 2012

I Found A Stray... Now What?

You found a stray by the side of the road. It's cute, and hungry, and homeless.

Now what?

Step One: Accepting Responsibility

Before taking action, keep this in mind: do not pick up a stray cat or dog unless you are willing to take on full responsibility for that animal. You should be prepared to provide food, shelter, and veterinary care for the animal if needed.

HSEC does not accept strays for two reasons. Lost pets are best returned to their owners through a central agency or location, which in our community is the animal shelter. Also, North Carolina law mandates that strays must be held for at least 72 hours, to give their owners time to locate them, and HSEC does not have the space or resources to provide these stray periods. (70% of our intake does come from PCAS, so we do get strays in a roundabout way.)

The Pitt County Animal Shelter (which is not a no-kill organization) will accept strays, but they may not have immediate available space. Facilities have limited space and sometimes all kennels are already full with strays waiting out that 72 hour hold. This occurs at Pitt County Animal Shelter about one day a week on average.

That means the little guy may have to crash with you for a while. And if he needs veterinary attention, you will be expected to pay for it (except scanning for a microchip, which is free). If you are not willing to take care of the animal, then the best thing you can do is call animal control (in Pitt County, 252-902-1725) and leave the animal where it is.  It may simply be lost and trying to find its way home. Please, don't involve yourself unless you are going to take full responsibility for the animal.

Step Two: Retrieve the Animal Safely

Evaluate the situation and determine if you can safely retrieve the animal. If they appear aggressive or unfriendly, are acting strangely, or are in an unsafe environment (the middle of the highway, the top of a tree), you may be unable to collect the animal in a way that is safe for you and for them. Animal Control is an excellent option if you are concerned about your ability to safely take control of the stray.

Step Three: Spread the Word

Sometimes people wait weeks or even months to contact HSEC after finding a stray. All strays should be treated as lost pets! Those who have had a missing pet will tell you that it is a terrible experience. Act quickly and do your best to find the owner. Don't assume the owner is negligent or uncaring. Even the best loved pets can sneak through an open door or slip out of a leash.

  • Make the first call to the local Animal Control to see if anyone has reported an animal missing matching the description of your found animal, and leave a description with them so they can contact you.  
  • Contact local vets, especially those near the location where the pet was recovered. They may even recognize the animal.
  • Put up signs, concentrating on the area where the animal was found. (This is particularly important for cats. Dogs may roam widely, but lost cats won't generally move out of the area where they became lost). This site has good suggestions for how to make signs easily visible. Make sure you include your contact information on the sign. Consider making a large sign to put in your own yard that can be seen by owners if they are driving around looking for their pet.
  • Contact your local newspaper. For Greenville, that's the Daily Reflector. Lost and found animals are listed in the Sunday paper. 
  • Take advantage of social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Craigslist are great places to spread the word. People love to help, so ask them to share. Maybe someone on your friends list knows the owner!
Don't assume the owner will find you, actively work as well to find them. Have the lost pet scanned for a microchip. This can be done at any vet or shelter for free and can instantly connect the critter to its home. Look for lost posters that match your new little friend, and check out the local paper as well as Craigslist and other local lost/found posting areas.

When you describe the pet, include details like where it was found and whether it was found with a collar or tags. If the animal is mixed breed, be careful in your description. If your flier describes the dog as a lab, but the owner considers the dog to be a hound, they may not call. We've seen it happen! Use coat length, coat color, eye color, ears (floppy, pointed), tail (fluffy, missing, docked, curly), and unique markings. Take the time to get a few good photos and include these in your posters and in social media outreach.

Step Four: If No One Comes Forward...

If you can't find the owner, it is time to make a final decision about the pet's future. Perhaps your family is in a position to welcome a new addition. You may choose also to leave the stray at the Animal Shelter.

Or you may wish to wait until a space becomes available at HSEC. It is important to understand that there is no process for HSEC to accept strays. You will be acting as the animal's owner and must abide by all requirements of the surrender process. There is no guarantee that we will accept the animal. In order to begin the process of surrendering to HSEC, fill out and submit an owner surrender form (available through our website). All surrendered animals must have up-to-date vaccination records, including a rabies certificate. Prior to admission, the pet will be evaluated for health and temperament. The surrender fee is $50.

Finally, you may choose to take on the task of rehoming the animal yourself. This may be a less stressful experience for the pet than going through any animal welfare organization.

If you choose to take on the responsibility of a stray, we thank you for helping an animal in need!

Other good resources on this topic include The Humane Society of the United States and Missing Pet Partnership