Lesley G. King, MVB, Diplomate ACVECC and ACVIM (Small Animal Internal Medicine)
University of Pennsylvania
ROAD TRIP RESCUE
“Do you feel like a drive to Virginia on Tuesday?” my friend asked.
Virginia? That drive will be about 4 hours. With Washington, DC beltway traffic! “Why are we going to Virginia?”
“I’m adopting a dog from a rescue there. I found him online, and he looks just like Cooper.”
Cooper was my friend’s much-loved pet, who recently died from hemangiosarcoma. He was a vocal, grey mutt with a curly tail; way too much husky heritage for my comfort level. “Have you already been down there and met this dog?” I asked.
“No. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to adopt yet. But I went on petfinder.com, and his picture just jumped out at me. The rescue had a video, and he looks and sounds exactly like Cooper. Then I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I’ve been in touch with them and did all the paperwork; now all I have to do is bring him home.”
You guessed it. It was time for a girls’ road trip. Thelma and Louise, except there wasn’t much crime and we didn’t drive over a cliff. And yes, we came home with a loving, but unruly, husky mix that may, in fact, be a reincarnation of Cooper. A lucky dog with a new, committed, forever home. If I were texting, I would add an emoticon with a big smile here.
DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR PET IS?
The ASPCA estimates that almost 4 million dogs enter animal shelters each year (aspca.org/about -us/faq/pet-statistics). Of those, about 1.4 million are adopted, and 542,000 dogs found as strays are returned to their owners. The ASPCA strongly recommends microchipping, showing on their website a video of a plaintive dog behind bars, with sad music and the caption, “It’s 10 am. Do you know where your pet is?”
With increased use of microchipping, we can hope to improve the statistics with regard to owner recovery of lost pets. Read more about microchipping, types of chips and scanners, and the importance of owner registration of microchipped pets in The Back Page.
HEALTH NEEDS OF SHELTER ANIMALS
The options for placement of rescue animals in new homes have changed with the Internet. Adoption possibilities are now nationwide, rather than the lone opportunity of a local shelter. Another friend of mine was heartbroken when the Great Pyrenees she adopted—a dog found as a stray in Atlanta—was coughing and subsequently diagnosed with advanced heartworm disease.
As veterinarians, we should expand our considerations regarding the health needs of adopted animals, bearing in mind prevalent diseases in their original location. This issue’s Heartworm Hotline article discusses the unique challenges faced by shelters with regard to diagnosis and treatment of heartworm disease, debunks myths, and provides recommendations.
POSING FOR ADOPTION
Shelters and rescues are becoming more creative in their attempts to “hook” prospective owners. Specially posed photographs that capture the animal’s personality are believed to result in improved adoption rates. Photography of rescue pets has even led to the formation of start-up companies such as “Pose a Pet,” which has its own website (poseapet.net), an app to download, and a Facebook page, and pledges to donate 50% of its proceeds back to shelters.
WHO’S YOUR DADDY?
There are other great examples of creative marketing by shelters as they work to place adoptable dogs. Using the slogan “Who’s Your Daddy?” a California shelter (peninsulahumanesociety.org) with a large population of small brown dogs—that all look like Chihuahuas—is performing DNA testing to identify the background breeds. They predicted that prospective adopters would be attracted to mixed breeds with a known breed background. And they were right; of the first 12 dogs tested, one test was inconclusive, but the other 11 dogs were all placed within 2 weeks, twice as fast as expected for untested dogs.
Hopefully, these and other efforts will result in even better statistics for placement of dogs and cats by rescue organizations in the future. And my road trip friend? She’s in love with Cooper’s reincarnation.
—Lesley King, Editor in Chief