Katniss’s Road to Recovery

 

When RHS Animal Protection Officers were flagged down one November morning, they had no idea what they were about to encounter.

A person had found a young cat, only about a year old, in terrible distress. One of her legs appeared badly wounded and the paw was dreadfully deformed. Upon closer examination, an elastic hairband was found wrapped around the leg so tightly that it had become embedded in her flesh and caused irreparable damage to the leg and grotesque swelling of the paw. We don’t know how long this beautiful and precious soul had been suffering, but it was clearly for some time. The pain and agony she endured are unthinkable.

RHS staff named her Katniss Everdeen after the Hunger Games character – a testament to her soft soul and spirited resilience in the face of such adversity.

Sadly, there was simply no way to save the leg and the RHS veterinary team proceeded with an emergency amputation to relieve her suffering and place her on a path to recovery. She is now healing and hopes are high that she will be able to find a new home soon.

How the hairband got there, we don’t know. What we do know is your support of the RHS ensured we were there for Katniss, just as we will be for the next animal who desperately needs help.

 

    Removing the elastic                           The elastic is finally off!

 

 
                           Post-surgery                                   RHS staff member offers
                                                                                          some comfort

 

 

October 14, 2021 – What a Spay (and Neuter) Day!

 

It was a busy day that saw our amazing Veterinary Team spay and neuter 20 cats in one day!

Here are some views of the team in action!

 

   

 Prepping surgical instruments the night before.           Karyn has the paper work ready to go

 

 

            Awaiting transport to surgery                    Each pet is transferred from its kennel to the

                                                                                                     veterinary clinic

 

  

             Dr. Chow preps for surgery                           Implanting an identification microchip

 

   

.    Each pet receives an RHS ear tattoo                       Preparing the next patient

 

  

             One of the 20 surgeries                                 Nine patients await their turn

 

              Our smallest and largest patients

Cats Love to Scratch! Here’s How to Provide a Happy Place for Them to Do It

 

Last month, the RHS was happy to learn that the Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association banned onychectomy surgeries for cats, commonly known as declawing, in our province.  The process involves the partial amputation of each digit of a paw, is painful for the cat and may cause long-term physical and behavioural side effects.  This practice was usually requested to avoid unwanted scratching in the home as a matter of convenience.

Scratching is a natural behaviour for cats to remove worn outer claws and expose new, sharper claws, reduce stress, mark territory and exercise.  Important to your cat’s health and well-being, the best approach is not to stop your cat from scratching, but instead to teach them where and what to scratch by providing appropriate, cat-attractive surfaces to scratch, such as scratching posts. By following these steps you can reduce and even eliminate unwanted scratching in your home – naturally!

  • Provide a variety of scratching posts with different surfaces such as cardboard, carpeting, wood, sisal or upholstery. Some cats prefer horizontal posts. Others like vertical posts or slanted posts. Once you know your cat’s preference, provide additional posts like it in various locations. Determine the perfect location for the scratching post by assessing your cat’s current favorite places to scratch. For example, if your cat enjoys scratching a specific couch, place the scratching post right next to that couch. If your cat enjoys scratching the molding of a certain doorway, place the scratching post directly next to that doorway.  If their preferred scratching location is not ideal, the scratching post can be moved gradually over time to a more appropriate location.
  • Encourage your cat to investigate posts by scenting them with catnip, hanging toys on them and placing them in areas where they’re inclined to climb on them.
  • Discourage inappropriate scratching by removing or covering desirable objects making the wrong place to scratch less desirable. Put plastic, double-sided sticky tape or sandpaper on furniture or floor where your cat would scratch. Place scratching posts next to these objects, as “legal” alternatives. Over time, the double-sided tape can be removed as your cat is encouraged to use the appropriate location to scratch instead.
  • Trim your cat’s nails (the white part of the nail, not the pink!) regularly or consider using nail caps.
  • Nail caps are rubber caps attached onto your cat’s claws with adhesive.  They’re temporary, lasting four to six weeks. There are several brands of nail caps available for cats. These temporary nail caps still allow your cat to extend and retract her claws while protecting other surfaces from damage. Nail caps are fairly easy to apply and can be done by pet owners at home. The caps come in clear or a variety of colors, so you can decide what is the best option for your cat. Clear caps are less visible while colored caps make it easy to spot if one falls off.
  • Whenever you see your cat using the scratcher, reward this behaviour with a treat, praise, or petting.  Again, this helps your cat associate the scratchers with positive, happy feelings.
  • Don’t punish your cat for mistakes. Punishing your cat for scratching may scare your cat and damage your bond. Instead, focus on rewarding their good behaviours.

With a little patience and perseverance, scratching can continue to be a happy and healthy experience for both you and your cat!

 

 

Thanksgiving Foods That are Harmful to Your Pet

 

In just a couple of weeks, we will be gathering for Thanksgiving with family and friends.  With the excitement of seeing loved ones for perhaps the first time in a long time, the warm scent of the feast cooking and giving thanks for all we have, it’s important to not forget our furry family members to ensure their Thanksgiving weekend is happy too.  Rover and Kitty may be close by in the kitchen hoping for a few handouts, but there are some Thanksgiving table items that can be harmful to our pets.

Here are the top four:

Onions and garlic: These vegetables are common in Thanksgiving casseroles, stuffing, mashed potatoes and many other items, and can be toxic to pets. They belong to the Allium family and can cause damage to the red blood cells in cats and dogs.  If your pet ingests a large amount of garlic or onions, contact your veterinarian right away.

Animal bones: Cooked animal bones tend to splinter easily, so there is a risk of choking and damage to the esophagus and obstruction or perforation of the digestive tract should your pet eat them.  Poultry bones can be particularly nasty. If they do eat some of these bones, monitor for loss of appetite, vomiting and lethargy.  Contact your veterinarian immediately should any of these signs occur.

Bouillon concentrates and cubes: Many people use bouillon cubes when making stocks and gravy.  Bouillon cubes and concentrates contain a very high amount of sodium and ingestion of these products may cause electrolyte imbalance in pets. Watch for gastrointestinal upset, excessive drinking of water, lack of balance or coordination, tremors and seizures if your pet has eaten bullion.  If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately. If untreated, pets can develop a build-up of fluid around the brain, which can be fatal.

Baked goods:  Pumpkin and apple pie are classics at this time of year.  While the pumpkin and apples are generally not an issue in moderation, large amounts of sugar and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg can lead to problems if ingested by your pet. Raisins can cause severe kidney damage and even failure even if ingested in small quantities.  Baked goods made with xylitol can cause hypoglycemia and liver failure.

Foods that will not harm your dog include, in moderation, cooked turkey, carrots, green beans, celery, zucchini and raw sweet potato!

Thanksgiving would be a great time to get your pet a few of their favourite treats or toys to keep them occupied during meal preparation and the feast itself!

Bobcat Lost His Mom, But Gained a Friend – You!

No one knows how long Bobcat had been alone before being found in an attic. Beside him, his mother’s lifeless body lay. He was starving, dehydrated, his ears were infested with mites, he was missing most of his tail and his eyes were terribly swollen and red. He was dangerously underweight and the effects of the blazing summer heat on his tiny body were taking their toll. At only five weeks of age, time was running out for this little one.

But, that day Bobcat had a hero looking out for him…you. Because of your support of the RHS, our team was ready and sprung into action the moment he came into our care. Our staff cleaned him up, tended to his eyes and ears and encouraged him to eat and drink. Just an hour later, he began to show signs of improvement, as food and water nourished his withered body and caring hands reassured him.

As the days passed, our Veterinary staff became cautiously optimistic that he would pull through, and Bobcat was placed in foster with one of our experienced staff members to keep a watchful eye on our tiny patient. He continued to fight and improve thanks to his care and treatments.  Gradually, his eyes cleared and the pain from the ear mites subsided.  By the time he was 8 weeks old, one would never know how tragically close he was to only knowing pain and suffering, and never the love of a family and home.

We know that if he could talk, he would thank you for supporting the RHS so could receive the care that surely saved his young life.  We would agree.  Thank you for being there for Bobcat when he needed a life-saving friend the most.

His first meal in some time!

In foster, feeling better!

Healed and headed home!

RHS Executive Director Reaches 30 year Milestone

 

Regina Humane Society (RHS) Executive Director Lisa Koch has dedicated the past 30 years to improving the lives of animals and people in Regina.

Lisa joined the RHS on August 6, 1991, as a young educator and very quickly demonstrated her passion and professionalism towards the improvement of animal welfare, advocacy and humane education, particularly with youth.  She quickly became a popular visitor to Regina schools as she brought her message of compassion, empathy and caring.

Lisa’s dedication to our community and never-ending compassion led her to the position of Executive Director in June 2007, where her understanding of the power of education and engagement transformed the Society into a relevant, professional and community-leading organization.  Lisa is now recognized across Canada as a leader in the animal welfare movement, and under her leadership, the Society has grown, matured and become one of the most respected organizations of its kind in Canada. In fact, in 2012, the RHS was awarded the International Summit for Urban Animals, Animal Sheltering Award recognizing the organization’s successful strategies in building healthy communities for pets and people.

Within a year of taking the reigns of the RHS, Lisa forged a fair funding agreement with the City of Regina for the provision of City bylaw enforcement and impound services – an agreement that is still in effect today.  She formed partnerships with local retailers to become adoption centres for shelter pets and blazed new trails by opening the province’s first humane society in-house animal hospital in 2008 and acquiring Canada’s first mobile spay and neuter clinic that same year.  She also worked with the City of Regina to create a subsidized spay/neuter program so that socio-economic challenges were not barriers to pet ownership and solutions to the over-population of pets were supported.

Powered by a deep sense of integrity and caring, Lisa’s guidance has meant that tens of thousands of animals have been saved from homelessness, neglect and abuse and her work has resulted in the creation of more new pet families than can be counted.  She has championed animals, provided a voice to those who had none and given rise to a community built on caring for one another, integrity and inclusion.

Almost ten years ago, Lisa recognized that the RHS facility was worn, outdated and was costing lives every year. She began developing a vision and strategy to construct a new facility that would be industry-leading, safe and comfortable for the animals and the hub of animal welfare where the bond between animals and humans was celebrated every day.  That vision is coming to life, as the design of the new Animal Community Centre is underway, with construction expected to begin by spring 2022.

While Lisa’s individual efforts and leadership have been remarkable, she has never lost sight of the fact that it takes a community to effect change and growth.  She is never to busy to speak with a donor, volunteer or someone who is taking their new furry friend home for the first time and she knows that we are stronger together.  No matter how happy or sad a situation might be, she always takes on each day with determination, empathy and grace.

Lisa, on behalf of the thousands of animals and families whose lives you have touched, thank you.  You have truly built families and made our community a better place to be.

 

RHS Board members, staff, family and friends marked Lisa’s anniversary with a surprise celebration on August 6, 2021.

Extend a PAW to Help Animals Like Willy

 

Willy is your typical 11- week-old orange tabby.  He purrs constantly, chases his toys and loves nothing more than to cuddle in someone’s arms.  He’s a sweet, gentle and extremely friendly kitten.  While this may not seem surprising, it is when you consider his condition when he arrived at the RHS in late July.

We don’t know much about Willy’s past other than he came to us with a condition called proptosis, in which an eye starts popping out of its socket.  Some sort of trauma most likely caused his sad condition which had existed long enough that his eye tissue was badly infected and some had died. It is unimaginable how this little guy coped with so much pain for so long.  Sadly, the eye was no longer viable and would need to be surgically removed to relieve his suffering and prevent the spread of bacteria from the infection.

While Willy’s short life prior to coming into RHS care was very scary, we are happy to report that he healed more quickly than anyone expected!  In fact, after only about ten days following his arrival, he was ready to find a new home and was adopted the very first day he was available.

Willy’s happy-ever-after was possible thanks to the support of people like our PAWS (Pre-Authorized Withdrawal System) Plan donors, who make monthly donations to ensure the RHS is ready when vulnerable animals need us most.

You can help more animals like Willy.

When you sign up to be a PAW Plan monthly donor, you provide life-saving care to animals in need and are a vital part of their journey to recovery.  PAWS donors ensure the RHS has a reliable source of funding each month to provide rescue, medical care and adoption to pets who have no-where else to turn.

Click here to become a PAW Plan member today!

 

Prior to surgery

Post surgery

Watch Out for Summer Pet Hazards

 

The warmer weather of summer brings the opportunity for all kinds of fun outdoor activities with our pets.  An outing to the lake, taking a long hike in the woods or even hanging out in the backyard can all be a blast for you and your pet, but they can also bring opportunities for exposure to some harmful and dangerous substances.

Here are some of the more common hazards you may encounter that can cause some problems for your pet.

Sunscreen

It is always a good idea for you to slap on some sunscreen if heading out in the sun.  You can do the same for your pet, particularly if they have a thin coat or perhaps were recently shaved for some veterinary procedures.  However, what is good for you isn’t necessarily good for your pet.  If you do want to put sunscreen on your pet, be sure it is one that is specially formulated for pets.  Consult with your veterinarian about which sunscreens would be best for your pet. Sunscreens containing zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) can be particularly damaging to your pet if ingested.

Plants

Exercising your green thumb can be one of the summer’s great pastimes, but it can also expose your pet to plants and bulbs that can be toxic if ingested. Bulbs such as those from lilies, tulips and daffodils, contain a variety of toxic chemicals. Dogs and cats can get into bags of unplanted bulbs or dig up and eat freshly planted bulbs, especially when tasty blood or bone meal fertilizers have been used. Other plants including hops, leeks, onions, chives, tomato plants, begonias and hosta can also be a problem.

Symptoms range from vomiting and diarrhea to seizures. In severe cases, ingestion can lead to death.

Fertilizers and Herbicides

Besides plant materials, the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides can also be a problem for your pet. Do some research for pet-friendly options in spaces where your pets have access.  If you have any questions about which products to use, consult with your veterinarian.

Flea, Ticks and Treatments

Ah, fleas and ticks…two of the not-so-joyful things of summer! If you’ve been walking in tall grass, around bushes or through the woods with your dog, be sure to give her a once-over when you’re done to see if any ticks have decided to hitch a ride as some ticks can carry and transmit diseases to your pet. If you find one, you can carefully remove it yourself, but be sure to remove the entire tick, including the head.  Fleas are also freeloaders who like to travel on pets and can inflict itch-causing bites and even allergic reactions in some dogs.

There are over-the-counter tick and flea control medications available, however, treating cats with products intended for dogs can have serious and potentially fatal consequences and dogs that ingest large quantities of parasite control products may also suffer toxicity. It is always best to consult with your veterinarian before treating your pet for ticks or fleas.

Picnic Foods

Picnics are a favourite pastime for many, but unfortunately, some of the most common and delicious picnic foods can be poisonous for your dog.  Ensure that Rover does not have access to the picnic basket or cooler and ensure they don’t get into the garbage afterward.

Here are a few foods to avoid:

  • Cooked bones, like ribs, chicken and pork chops, can easily splinter when chewed by your dog; the splinters can cause damage when chewed and/or swallowed
  • Corn on the cob can get lodged in the small intestine, and if it’s not removed surgically, can prove fatal to your dog
  • Grapes contain a toxin that can cause kidney failure
  • Alcohol can cause intoxication, lack of coordination, poor breathing and potentially even coma or death

Outside Water Sources

Just as you wouldn’t take a big gulp of water from a body of water that you might encounter when hiking (unless you are very familiar with it and know its safe), letting your dog do so is not advisable either. Flowing streams, ponds, lakes, stagnant puddles, dugouts and sewer retention ponds can be contaminated with various microscopic organisms that can make your dog sick.

If you are heading to an ocean, saltwater is also toxic for your dog when ingested. For some dogs, even a few mouthfuls of ocean water might give them diarrhea and consuming large amounts of saltwater can even be fatal.

You should always bring along fresh water for your dog to keep hydrated. If you can’t carry enough water for both of you then consider bringing a water filtration device to filter the water that you’ll come across. If you notice that your dog seems sick after drinking from an unknown water source, call your veterinarian for advice or to arrange a clinic visit.

 

By keeping the above summer hazards in mind, you and your pet can enjoy a long, happy and safe summer together!

Keep Your Pet Cool This Summer

 

With the higher than normal temperatures we have seen in Saskatchewan over the past month, it has become a challenge to enjoy the summer with our pets, and also keep them safe and comfortable.  Fortunately, with a little planning and effort, you can still enjoy much of what summer has to offer and include your pet.

Here are some tips on how to keep your pet cool this summer!

 

Provide lots of water

Just like humans, one of the most important tips is to provide your pet with lots of water to keep them hydrated.  Always have fresh bowls of cold water around the house that are easily accessible to your furry friends. Your cat might enjoy a fountain bowl or a bowl with a toy in it to bat around too. Popping an ice cube or two in the bowl now and then will help keep it cool too!

A Cool Place to Be

Help your pet be comfortable when you’re at the office by finding a cool spot in the house for them to spend the day.  Often this can be a lower level such as the basement or an area that does not get any direct sunlight. But, be sure that if it is an area that your pet is not normally in alone, that you ensure they can’t access any toxins or other hazards. You might also want to close blinds and curtains to keep the space as cool as possible.

Make a frozen treat bowl

A frozen treat bowl is an awesome way to keep your pets both entertained and cool – and they’re so easy to make. Simply freeze some kibble or their favourite treats in a bowl of frozen water and then stand back and watch as they lick their way to a cool and comfortable day!  For variety, you can add some beef or chicken stock as well before freezing.  They’ll love it!

Let a Fan Cheer Them On

If you don’t have air-conditioning, consider providing a fan in the area that your pet will spend the day to help keep fresh air circulating in the room, which can make a huge difference in keeping them comfortable.  They’re a great way for your pet to keep cool and you might even consider attaching a pet-friendly misting system to provide even more relief.

Freeze that Kong

Another cool treat idea is to line the inside of a Kong with a special treat such as peanut butter and tossing it in the freezer.  When ready, it will provide your dog with some chillin’ fun times as she licks away at the frozen treat!

Keep your dog at a healthy weight

Besides treats and fans, your dog’s physical condition can be a factor in how they handle the heat.  Overweight dogs can have a harder time keeping cool in warm weather and are at greater risk of overheating. Consult with your veterinarian about maintaining your pet’s ideal body condition and overall health.

Take care of your dog’s coat

Grooming your pet should be part of your regular routine, but it can also be critical to your pet’s ability to stay cool.  Your dog’s coat doesn’t just keep them warm in the winter but can also keep them cooler in the summer – not to mention protecting them from sunburn. Regular and thorough brushing allows proper airflow for their skin and helps prevents mats, which are not only painful, but also trap heat and moisture which can result in skin infections.

However, it is not usually a good idea to simply shave down your dog’s fur.  While some dogs may benefit from a shave, many breeds do not require this, especially dogs with double coats. As always, consult with your veterinarian regarding the proper grooming needs of your particular pet.

Be cool and enjoy the summer  –  and remember, always supervise your pet when giving them toys and edible treats and NEVER leave them alone in a vehicle!

 

Teach Your Dog How to be Alone

 

Author:  Jennifer Berg, CPDT-KA

(This is for general information only. Please consult a reputable, force-free dog behaviour professional for advice specific to the behaviours of your dog.)

This pandemic has been hard on some dogs as they learned to adjust to family members being home but occupied with work or classes. As people return to the office and school, dogs may have a difficult time adjusting to the increased time alone. This is especially true for “pandemic puppies” who may find themselves alone for the first time in their lives, but it can also be the case for dogs who are out of practice. Here are some tips for helping your dog learn to be relaxed and content when alone. (More information and detailed instructions are available in my book Teach Your Dog How to Be Alone: a simple, concise step-by-step guide.)

Train it before you need it

Start the training as soon as possible. It takes time to teach a dog how to be relaxed and comfortable when left alone, and while some dogs can learn it in a week, some may require many weeks. Keep in mind that elderly dogs and dogs in pain or ill-health may be less resilient to stressors. If your dog has never been left alone, has had a history of being distressed when left alone, or has an unknown history of being alone and you are unsure how your dog will react, it’s a good idea to start at the easiest level and progress gradually with very small steps.

Try a short, very easy test run

Set up a device that allows you to observe when your dog is alone, perhaps through a live video feed or as a recording you can view after you return. Look for the smallest signs of stress and adapt your training as needed.

Learn to read your dog

Is your dog comfortable and relaxed or merely “fine” when alone? Learn to read subtle canine stress signals to ensure you aren’t missing some very subtle indications that your dog is not fine (e.g., nose/lip licking, yawning when not tired, shake-offs, panting). If you see signs of stress make things easier for your dog.

Plan for success

Create conditions that will make it easier for your dog to feel safe, content, and relaxed. Choose times of the day when your dog is more likely to settle and have a nap. It can be helpful to provide an object to occupy your dog for the first few minutes after you leave (e.g., a food-dispensing toy or a chew) but be sure it is an object safe for your dog to have unsupervised.

Consider carefully whether to crate or not to crate

A dog can be taught to feel safe and relaxed while alone without the use of a crate. A crate is a tool that can help in some cases, but it needs to be used wisely. Some dogs may panic when they are closed inside a crate, especially if they associate it with things that cause them distress, such as being alone for too long. Ensure your dog enjoys entering their crate and relaxing in it before you attempt to leave your dog alone in it. You can help convince your dog that their crate is a wonderful place to be by keeping the crate door open and feeding meals and special chews and treats in there. When your dog isn’t watching, place treats or a new toy in their crate so that when they go in there on their own, it is instantly reinforced that crate is a great place to be. Teaching a dog how to be alone starts by ensuring they feel safe and relaxed and an essential part of that means letting them have choice and control in the training process. Coaxing, pressuring, or tricking your dog to enter their crate is not a good training plan.

Address barking and other unwanted behaviours appropriately

Barking, house soiling, and destructive behaviours are common symptoms of isolation-or separation-distress. Caregivers might be tempted to turn to devices and training advice that promise guaranteed quick results through the suppression of these symptoms of distress, but this leads to wasted time and money, emotional trauma to the dog, and an escalation in problem behaviours. Please consult a reputable, force-free dog behaviour professional if you need help, and consult your veterinarian to rule out any medical cause that could be contributing to unwanted behaviours.

Jennifer Berg, CPDT-KA has over 16 years’ experience providing force-free, science-based dog training. She is certified with the CCPDT and is a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Dog Trainers. Copies of her book Teach Your Dog How to Be Alone: a simple, concise step-by-step guide can be purchased at a variety of online book retailers; Visit oberhund.com for information on purchasing a printed copy.

Widdle Wants to Thank You

 

Sometimes it takes a big team to help a tiny animal.  At just two weeks old, Widdle and her three siblings were found in an abandoned apartment, with no mother or anyone else feed and care for them.  Without a mother, kittens this young will not survive without human intervention. Wee Widdle would face additional hurdles – and it would take almost the entire RHS team to see her through it.

The tiny foursome’s first encounter with the RHS was with our Receiving staff, who gave each kitten a general health check.  The news wasn’t good as each was showing signs of illness.  The kittens were moved to our Veterinary team for a more thorough examination and it was found that each was suffering from an upper respiratory infection along with eye infections caused by the same virus.  While many cats have a bout of this cold-like illness, it can usually be treated successfully.  But, left untreated, it can be fatal with kittens so young and the tide can turn very quickly.  The infant patients were put on medications along with a regimen of hearty kitten milk replacement formula to fill their empty tummies.  But, while three of the kittens responded positively, Widdle seemed to struggle.  She was not eating well and as the tiniest of the group, her small size made her battle with the illness that much more difficult.  It seemed that the stress of the whole experience was proving too much for her and her condition quickly deteriorated to the point of being critical, and it was feared she would not make it through her first night since being found.  Her siblings were moved to recover and grow in the peace and quiet of one of our foster family homes, but Widdle would need special attention. One of the Society’s Registered Veterinary Technologists took her home to monitor her condition around the clock and give her the best chance at winning her fight to survive the night.

And survive she did!  By the next day, she had turned the corner and was beginning to show signs of improvement.  She started eating, her medications were beginning to help as her courage and spirit began to shine through.  As the next week passed, she continued to improve to the point where she was out of danger and well on the road to what we hope will be a full recovery.  Hope is high that within a few weeks, the four abandoned kittens will be strong enough to be put up for adoption into their forever homes.

The journey of Widdle and her three siblings took them through the caring hands of our Receiving and Veterinary teams and into the homes of one of our wonderful Foster Care volunteers.   But, it also took them through your hands.  Because of your support of the Society every day, those hands were there, ready to help, when these four tiny souls needed them most.

On behalf of Widdle and her litter-mates, thank you.

 

Shortly after arrival at the RHS

In the hands of her foster.

Eye infection!