Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Line Up For Your Autographs Now

Because I'm basically famous.

For my A-list celebrity list status acceptance speech, I'd like to thank Mark Zuckerberg for inventing Facebook, Al Gore for inventing the internet, and my college hamster Ziggy Stardust for giving me inspiration.

Oh, and happy National Dog Day! Here's a picture of Finch with the guest kitty we had for one night.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Dogs Who Bite

Sometimes not enough thought goes into what comes out of my fingertips, which is not a good thing when you manage a Facebook page with 8,000+ followers. Recently I posted a picture of one of the dogs available for adoption at the shelter, with a frank assessment of his history...he had been adopted out as an ~8 week old puppy, then around the age of 1.5 he bit the family's other dog and was returned to the shelter.

The post was up for a day and a half without any red flags...people liked the picture and commented about how they hoped he would find a forever home.

Then this morning there were a couple of comments that expressed outrage that we would adopt out a dog with a bite history. Some guy that is vehemently pro-breeder shared it as an example of how our "kill shelter" is awful.

It does not help that this dog is a pit bull.

I could write a whole post about how infuriating it is when someone is WRONG on the internet, but I think we've all been there, done that.

So let's talk about dog bites.


I grew up with chocolate labs. The very idea of them biting anything other than a chew toy or shoe was incomprehensible. I would have readily said that any dog who bites should get put down immediately because that just isn't acceptable.

Then, within the past few years, both of my dogs have bitten other dogs. Those who know Finch and Hobbes can hopefully attest that both of them are incredibly sweet and loving dogs, and yet they both drew blood on other dogs.

Finch is an alpha female and does not back down. She bit another alpha female when they got into a tussle.

Hobbes has become pretty anti-social towards other dogs now that I live in the country and I don't take him to the dog park to socialize. He bit a Great Dane puppy.

Both incidents mortified me and I cried over each. But it was never an option in my mind to put them to sleep because of it.

If I had to rehome Hobbes, on paper he would be a pit bull who attacked another dog. Would he
deserve a chance to find another home, instead of being euthanized because of his bite history? I certainly think so.

It's okay if you don't. But if the shelter went with a policy of euthanizing every dog with a bite history, can you just imagine the number of small dogs we would have to put down? Maybe you'd argue that bigger dogs can do much more damage when they bite. Which is true, but little dogs can still do significant damage. Where would we draw the line of with what size dog is a bite history acceptable, and what size mandates an automatic euth?

I understand when people take the position that biting is unacceptable, period, because I thought that before I owned two dog-aggressive dogs. And I don't blame people for worrying about the safety of themselves and their own pets.

But it's a lose-lose situation for the shelter when it comes to dogs who bite. If we put down dogs who have a bite history, people would (and do) call us a kill shelter who doesn't give dogs second chances. If we adopt out dogs who have a bite history, people would (and do) call us terrible and irresponsible.

I fully realize that you can never please everyone. But that doesn't make it any less frustrating when reading and responding to comments online. That pro-breeder assclown (aside: I didn't realize there was a pro-breeder, anti-shelter movement) who in one breath called us a kill shelter and in the next breath criticized us for trying to adopt out a dog with a dog-dog* bite history? He would've found something to fuel his indignation no matter what I posted.

The best we can do is temperament test dogs who come into the shelter, and give full disclosure to possible adopters about the dog's bite history.  Dogs who fail the temperament test and are deemed dangerous are humanely put to sleep.  Adopters who are looking at dogs with bite histories are educated by us before they make a decision.

I wish I could have this conversation with every person who comments because they're upset with the shelter's decisions. It wouldn't change everyone's minds, but at least some people could see the thought process behind what we do. Obviously I can't, but I can at least subject my loyal blog followers to it. Mwuhaha.

*I'm focusing on dog-dog bites because dog-person bites are even murkier and my opinion depends entirely upon the situation.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

An Uneasy Truce

I take a certain amount of pride in not being squicked out by much. Snakes? Cool. Blood? Meh.

Spiders however...spiders are the devil incarnate. Including spider-like things, like daddy longlegs. I don't care how many people tell me they're harmless and they're not technically spiders. PURE EVIL.

But I like to think I'm pushing myself to grow and expand outside my comfort zone. Last year I noticed giant spiders had taken residence under the eaves outside my living room windows. I was on the phone with Annie at the time and all conversation screeched to a halt while I freaked out. After gearing myself up and a pep talk from Annie, I went out with a broom and the ladder and smashed those assholes.

The broom stayed right where I dropped it after the killings for a year because I wouldn't bring it inside.

They're back this year. At least 4 monstrous ones hang out right next to the ruined corpses of their deceased brethren, in outright declaration that they do not give a damn.

I bought a can of spider spray and went on a genocidal rage, attacking the lower eaves and the porch. I used the entire can. Because there's no such thing as overkill when it comes to spiders.

That leaves the upper eaves. Between forgetting and not finding spider spray at the store when I do remember to look, I've called an uneasy truce. Mostly because I'm too lazy to drag out the ladder and also I don't want to get anywhere near the bastards.

This is where I'm growing and expanding as a compassionate person...sort of. As long as they stay right there, I'll pretend that I'm cool with them and send insincere appreciation for them eating bugs. If any one of them so much as thinks about moving into the house, I will wipe them out and will do so with glee.

I may do it anyway because just looking at them gives me the paranoid creepy crawlies. We'll see how long my magnanimous attitude lasts.

For any spider enthusiasts out there, I believe it is a comb-clawed spider. Also, what is wrong with you that you like spiders?!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Hello Again

A month has lapsed since I've written on the blog. I kept thinking, Kelsey, you should really write something about your new job. And your friends visiting. And the parade you and Bisbee were in. And family vacation. And and it kept getting postponed and postponed until it felt too overwhelming to even take on.

So this is my sad attempt to jump back in to blog writing! Let's start with work.

Work has been going fabulously. It's so fun to go in and find out what kind of animals came in while I was gone, and to watch animals get adopted into loving families. Also, I get to wear jeans and a standard polo shirt every day.

The biggest adjustment so far is the workplace size and environment. I've always worked for big companies (hospital systems, retail stores, etc), so a standalone shelter with ~10 employees is a huge change. The staff dynamics are very different as well...not bad, just different!

My daily tasks involve: 
  • Taking pictures of new arrivals and posting to our electronic records, Facebook, website, and various pet adoption sites like Petfinder
  • Responding to Facebook and website inquiries
  • Assisting with the front desk as needed, including answering the phone and processing adoptions
  • Finding foster homes for animals
  • Managing the volunteer program
  • Planning fundraisers and thanking donors
Would've been such a cute picture if it didn't
make me dizzy every time I looked at the unfocusedness.
The most frustrating part so far is my ineptitude with a camera. I have these grand visions of how photos should look and am constantly disappointed with fuzzy picture after fuzzy picture. Every now and then I will accidentally take a decent picture, but that's far and few between.

Plus, posing pets is harrrrrrrrrd. Especially puppies. I have yet to get a passable picture of a puppy.

Everyone asks me "Isn't it hard to work at the shelter?!? I would want to bring all of them home!" My friends and family are unconvinced when I assert that I will NOT be bringing any animals home.

Honestly, the only animals that are tempting are the old ones. Like Herbert, the 10+ year old lab that came in as a stray. Sweet as pie, that old man. And well-trained...he had obviously had a loving home at some point.

I mean, look at that happy lab face!

Luckily he found a great home.

I did bring a pregnant mamacat home to foster, because as the volunteer/foster coordinator, I wanted to have the experience of fostering so I knew what I was talking about when I told other fosters about how to do it.  The hoarding habits of the farm's past owners were to my advantage in this siutation, as I'm keeping mamacat in the weird whelping room in my garage.

But, she and her future kittens will be going right back to the shelter when the kittens are old enough. Three cats (and two dogs, and two horses, and four chickens) is plenty for me, myself, and I, thankyouverymuch! 

Tanner, god bless his patient soul, came to work with me this past Thursday. The shelter was running "Critter Camp," a day camp for kids to come and learn about animals. I volunteered to bring in Tanner, and the shelter director said he was welcome to come for the whole day so I didn't have to run home multiple times to pick him up or drop him off. So he hung out in one of the large outdoor grass kennels, watching the activity and occasionally whinnying to the dogs and cats.  The kids got to paint him and walk him on the dog trail behind the shelter. 

And that's a little glimpse into my new job! So far, so great.