“We are very much an anti-shelter animal shelter.”
Our Executive Director here at Friendship APL likes to frequently boast about being the most anti-shelter shelter director you would ever meet. Obviously being a shelter director himself, this bit usually gets a chuckle from those in attendance. Surely he doesn’t mean he unanimously hates shelters and all they stand for (and you would be right in that assumption).
But what does that actually mean? For humans, an animal shelter is a place for someone to find a four-legged (or sometimes three-legged) addition to their family. It’s also a place to find personal enrichment as a staff member or volunteer. For an animal it is a safe haven from a previous life best forgotten or a temporary residence until the next chapter of their lives. But however we spin what an animal shelter is – it will always be a building filled with cages with animals inside. But does it have to be?
If you’re a cat looking for a home, the Friendship Animal Protective League is not the worst place you could end up. Here you will find no wire cages, no cramped spaces where animals are stacked like Jenga pieces. Little by little, we have been remodeling our shelter room by room with a little help from our friends.
Felines, especially senior cats, special needs cats and long-term residents are high risk for kennel stress. They break down, become anti-social, hard to handle and even stop eating or become ill. This is where our new mini-catteries, possible only because of the generosity sponsored by the Petco Foundation, comes into play.
In our new green room, we have 4 extra-large spaces filled with cat enrichment. The spaces provide a much needed home-like environment for cats to be able to relax, socialize and show their best selves for potential adopters. With a charitable 9k grant from the Petco Foundation, we were able to purchase state of the art glass kennels, new cat furniture from Canada, an Oscillot Cat Containment Systems from Australia, and new benches. The room was also brightened up with a fresh coat of paint on the walls and floor.
Much gratitude from the staff, volunteers and our feline friends to the Petco Foundation, without whom this would not be possible.
One of the biggest fears as a pet owner is having your pet run (or fly) away. Despite the strongest efforts of some folks to keep their animals corralled and safe indoors, sometimes, a curious cat or dog will take an opportunity to dart toward the great outdoors which aren’t always so great for them. Once exposed to a seemingly infinite number of directions to run and dangers to experience, domesticated animals can be easily confused or startled once they have left the safe confines of their home.
The first step in getting your pet back is to be preemptive. According to the website HomeAgain.com, 1 in every 3 pets go missing. That is a startling statistic. If there is a moral to the story, well actually there are several, but the first that comes to mind is don’t be the person that thinks this will never happen to them. Make it a top priority to get your cat or dog microchipped the moment you adopt them. This is not something to dawdle with, but having the microchip implanted in your pet is not enough.
I have come across a few stray animals in the last couple of years that were microchipped, only to never have the chip registered and activated. Think of it as buying a car without fuel. It’s completely useless without that final action. Some facilities may offer one-stop shopping where the chip can be purchased, implanted and activated for a cost roughly around $50. At Friendship APL, all of our cats and dogs already have microchips when they’re adopted.
If that step has been taken and the animal still manages to escape, the next part of the process is to start calling local shelters (like FAPL) and police departments (their animal control officer specifically) to see if a pet matching the description of yours has been caught. Many individuals will post photos of their pet along with contact information on telephone poles or in the windows of businesses (with their permission) for bystanders to keep an eye out for. However, while there is nothing wrong with that, such postings tend to get overlooked (especially when the photo is in black and white) or ruined by the elements. A more efficient way to track down a lost pet is through local online outlets that specialize in this sort of thing.
The first of which comes to mind isn’t really a website, but a page within Facebook known simply as ‘Sam the Parrot’. Sam the Parrot was started by the late Jerry Liller, a Lorain County resident whose pet parrot Sam flew away. Liller created a Facebook page for Sam in hopes of reuniting with his beloved winged friend. When someone lost their dog and asked Liller if they could post it on his ‘Sam’ page, he obliged. One thing led to another and today the Facebook page Sam the Parrot is a major hub for lost pets in and around Lorain County.
Sadly, Sam was never found, but her legacy lives on in helping hundreds of other pets.
Once outdoors and on the loose, cats and dogs can behave very differently. Dogs can head off in any number of directions and walk for miles or just camp out in a driveway down the street. Cats typically don’t go all that far. They are, however, exceptional at hiding and are most active at dusk and dawn. Call for them. They know your voice. Grab a strong flashlight to catch their reflective eyes in lowlight conditions. Do not leave food out overnight for your lost cat as that can just attract other animals, like raccoons or opossums, that will chase your cat away. Don’t keep your lost cat (or dog) a secret. Talk! Tell your neighbors and post it online (i.e. Sam the Parrot). This may sound like a broken record by now in this article, but get your pet microchipped and have a collar and tag on them. Most importantly, don’t give up! If you believe someone stole your pet, call the police. It’s a 5th degree felony in the State of Ohio to hurt an animal.
The following are a list of websites for lost pets both nationally and in our area:
Sam the Parrot (via Facebook)
Special thanks to FAPL Board President Deb McFadden for her contribution to this article.
In June of 2013, a North Ridgeville woman contacted the North Ridgeville Police in hopes of finding a resolution for a feral cat and her kittens that had taken residency in her backyard. A humane officer showed up, but what took place thereafter was anything but humane. The officer proceeded to shoot the entire litter of five kittens in front of the resident and her own children. Let’s call this action what it is; simply ignorant, despicably heinous and purely unprofessional (that article can be found here). If this story were to be an answer on Jeopardy!, the category could be “Not Cop of the Year.” *
This putrid and shallow action against the kittens, which eventually came to be known as the Woodpile 5, had inspired Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda to take some steps to prevent something like this cowboy behavior from occurring again. With that, Mayor Brinda sought out a grant which the city ended up receiving. From that, Fix Elyria was born in 2013. Fix Elyria is an effort that allows the staff at Friendship APL to set cat traps and have the caged felines fixed and released, thus cutting down the feral cat population dramatically. With a strong bit of teamwork, Operation CatSnip was enacted and the traps were set. Organizations such as the mobile Neuter Scooter, Pet Fix (Akron) and Quick Fix (Medina) were called upon to perform the surgeries which the grant money went toward. The combined efforts collected and fixed 150 cats in a single day.
While feral cats may not initially sound like a problem, it can certainly grow out of control. A population explosion can increase the spread of feline diseases and the cats themselves can wreak havoc on local wildlife (i.e. birds). Thankfully, the hard work is paying off. The number of calls from private citizens and businesses asking for assistance in remedying feral felines has decreased considerably. Still, feral cats will be an ongoing issue so the work of the FAPL staff involved with Fix Elyria is never done.
As time has gone on since then, the grant has since run dry, though Fix Elyria is still very much alive and well. To make this happen, FAPL continues to fund the cat-catching efforts. On May 23, 2017, I got to see the Fix Elyria program in action. Before the day got underway, however, I arrived at the shelter to find someone had dropped off a rabbit and a cat overnight, leaving them outside in separate cages (thank God it’s not winter). Rabbits can be difficult to read. The cat, unfortunately, was visibly scared to death. Both animals are now inside the shelter confines getting food, water and any necessary medical care.
Becca consoles a rabbit left on our doorstep
A very frightened cat left at FAPL
Once the friendly new lettuce-muncher and cat were secured indoors, we were on our way. With Sue (one of FAPL’s two humane officers), and Becca commandeering the trip, we packed the van with 11 cage traps and a several individual containers of wet cat food. Our first stop was in the historic residential district of Elyria on Washington Street. A resident there had asked for our assistance and requested we set up a couple of the traps on her property. We arrived under the close watch of someone peeking from behind the tree line just at the end of the resident’s backyard. A young buck took a cautious interest in us while feeding. Next to him, a raccoon, up well past his bedtime at 8:00 am, popped his head up to see what we were doing in his neighborhood. Nothing to see here, fellas. Move along…move along.
That short-antlered onlooker was no lawn ornament
Two traps were set and then it was on to house #2. With three traps set there, we then moved onto a few businesses and left our signature there in the form of more cage traps also complete with cat food inside. After a short amount of time and a few miles around town, our job was done…for the morning that is. Around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon of the same day the traps are set, Sue and Becca will revisit the locations to collect the traps and send any unfixed cats we acquired to get spayed or neutered on Thursday. By Friday they are ready to get released back into the wild.
Some folks may wonder why we don’t try and adopt them out. Well, trust us, you wouldn’t want that. These animals are feral through and through and while they may take a liking to a human or two at some point, they have lived a life where confinement does not suit them. Honestly, that would be a very unbefitting situation for them (and ultimately for the people housing them as well). Dogs can be turned around from that lifestyle on the streets, cats not so much. These are critters that are just very content to live life roaming the woods and viewing people from just out of arm’s reach.
This feral kitten took an interest in the cages we left behind. Perhaps she’ll occupy one by this afternoon.
As previously mentioned, Sue and Becca will head back to the locations this afternoon to collect all the cages. When I asked Sue what the usual results were for something like this, it turned out consistency was something out of the picture. “Some days you get several cats, other days you may find two cats in one cage. Then there are times you show up to find them all empty with a cat sitting on top of the cage,” she explained. I had to laugh at the latter image, which is so typical of cat behavior. That mocking expression of who got the victory that day is rather definitive of felines, feral or domesticated. You gotta love ’em.
There was an intended follow-up to this article to report how many cats were trapped that day, which were two to be exact. It’s less than we hoped for but it is progress nonetheless. What was unexpected (and unrelated to the cat trapping) was another event concerning the same humane officer mentioned at the beginning of the article. Without going into great detail, that officer was dismissed by the City of North Ridgeville as of May 24, 2017.
Two years ago, FAPL underwent its first internal renovation in a number of years. What is now the streamlined-looking blue dog room and orange cat room was once a less welcoming, but functional corner of our adoption center, has since been revamped into a much more animal and human friendly space. Fast forward to 2017 and the same efforts have been exacted on our remaining cat and dog caged spaces. The previous orange dog room is now graced with yellow walls. “Graced” being an appropriate verb as the room will soon be named “Grayce’s Tack Shop,” honoring Kimberly Grayce Roach, a former FAPL volunteer and Lake Ridge Academy student who passed away unexpectedly in 2016. Grayce’s love for the color yellow, and more importantly horses, earned the room color and tack shop moniker.
Greg Willey hammers down! (literally)
In addition, the blue cat room is now the purple cat room, changing out the stacks of stainless steel box cages for new, specially ventilated cat condos. You’ll notice the vertical PVC pipes in the photos below which allow for the ventilation that greatly cuts down on litter dust and dander accumulation. The portholes allow for a cat’s transit from one part of the condo to their litter box, thus separating it from their eating area. Lastly, the green cat room is still green, but with the significant decrease in cat populations, is now serving as a dog overflow room, but is suited to house cats as well if necessary.
So while knocking down cement block walls and adding a fresh coat of paint are obvious improvements, you may be asking why the switch from the old style cages to new? In short, the days of traditional cages at shelters are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. While you may not be able to stick your fingers through a chainlink slot to have a dog or cat get acquainted with you, the gigantic plus is eliminating the spread of disease amongst the animals. In short, what’s easier to wipe down and clean? A fence or a glass door? The grooves and intertwining nature of chainlink fencing are harborers of bacteria. It is not uncommon for a dog to spread bacteria and even feces on this material. The intricate weave is just not conducive for eliminating those microscopic baddies and preventing the spread of illness.
The glass doors are a safer option from not only illness, but possible injury as well. With no loops or weakened fencing a dog could place their paws on, the quarter-inch tempered glass doors eliminate those hazards while also cutting down on some of the noise. Plus, the kennels overall still allow for plenty of proficient airflow so their inhabitants can remain comfortable. But enough on specs, let’s get to the visuals, right?! Without further ado, Here are some of the before, middle and after shots of the room remodels. On a personal note, I have to say I the outcome is not only aesthetically pleasing, but so much more functional now as well.
Formerly the Blue Cat Room, it is now the Purple Cat Room:
The Green Room has become…still green but is now multi-purpose
Grayce’s Tack Shop
Before and After…
Derek vs Cement Wall. Derek wins.
Without your donations, this would never have been possible! FAPL would like to extend a massive thank you to all those who contribute their time and money!
There’s no rhyme or reason, no metrics, no measurable explanation as to the number of cats and dogs residing inside the FAPL walls at any given time. Sometimes we get an influx of dogs and people are mostly adopting cats that week. Seven days later the exact opposite happens. While it is difficult for someone like myself to remember every animal that comes through, every once in a while there is that one special pet-to-be that just strikes a cord with me.
This past Monday, after doing a little writing for an upcoming newsletter, I walked around the cat cages to see who our current residents were. As fate would have it, it was the last room I checked when I laid my eyes upon a beautiful black cat named Giulio. As I stopped in front of his cage, he extended a paw through the bars as if to greet me, a gentle inquiry asking if I would provide him with a few seconds of company. I read the description on the door of his cage which stated he was a 14-year old male. In addition, I also learned that Giulio was there due to the passing of his human caretaker. My heart melted.
After opening the door, he peeked his head outside the frame of his stainless steel home, which promptly led me to gently scratch his head as his eyes began to half-shut in relaxed demeanor. After kneeling down to his level, it became rapidly apparent the difficulty of Giulio’s predicament. Kittens are easily adoptable. Middle-aged cats are more difficult but they commonly find homes. A cat that’s 14 years old is quite the task to get adopted. For what it’s worth, this article would have never materialized if I had the space to take him on. I would have adopted him on the spot.
Nevertheless, these are the cards Giulio and I have been dealt. I’m not in a position to adopt him and he needs a loving home. Two days later I stopped back at Friendship to take him out of his cage and let him roam one of the empty rooms. He sniffed, inspected, observed and walked the perimeter of the room in traditional cat curiosity. When he was done, he looked at me and meowed a few times, as if to communicate something my human brain just wasn’t able to grasp. Giulio is a sweet soul. He’s an adorable buddy that just needs that right person who has no problem taking on a cat that’s 14.
Sometime’s folks look to adopt a pet that is “perfect” in their eyes. Why? You don’t strive for a perfect child or a perfect husband or wife. It’s not realistic and therefore unobtainable. The same applies for our canine and feline companions. What’s the big deal with adopting a cat with three legs or dog with one eye or a cat that just happens to be 14? Take my advice and head over to the shelter and spend a few minutes with Giulio. He’s confused by the change in his living situation, but his arrival at Friendship is all with the intent for a better life for him. Pet him, hug him, and you’ll see just why Giulio is a loving and wise cat who could be a great fit for you. Click here to learn more.
*UPDATE: Within 48 hours of this article posting, Giulio was adopted! Enjoy your new home, buddy!*Big thanks to Christina M. for making this come together!
By now, it’s been no secret of the significantly large expenses that Friendship APL incurred in 2016 for medical procedures. Spay and neuters are common and they do add up, but as awareness of not only FAPL’s existence, but its continuous efforts to save animals gain more attention, those more serious procedures such ACL repairs and amputations amass large debts rather quickly. Well, Saturday, February 11th, 2017 showed just how awesome and caring residents of Northeast Ohio can be.
I should probably introduce myself briefly before I explain what I observed on a personal level this past Saturday. My name is Gregg Senko. I’ve been volunteering at FAPL since the autumn of 2016, usually in the form of writing articles to grace the face of our newsletter. I’m originally from here but I did spend five years in Florida recently, with the majority of that being Sarasota. When I was there, I volunteered at a large, non-kill shelter. Their facility stood on eight acres of Florida land with several $15,000-apiece hurricane resistant huts that could house four dogs each or twice that many cats. There was even a secondary location in a plaza storefront. They were heavily promoted throughout Sarasota and Bradenton each year and the money flowed in quite generously. They do great work down there and they deserve it.
However, FAPL doesn’t have the luxury of massive promotional work. It’s not a household name across multiple counties. It doesn’t have an influx of four-figure checks coming in on a whim. We don’t have individual huts that cost the price of a small car. I don’t mention these things out of jealousy or ill will. I mention them because FAPL and its Executive Director, Greg Willey, do a lot with a little. They operate on this notion of just moving forward and doing. Put the animals’ welfare first and do what’s best for them. Sometimes it’s just best not to overthink things. Don’t sit there and debate the cost of the surgery for the animal. Just do it…and that’s exactly what FAPL does. It is not done with reckless abandon, but with caring intentions and a heart of gold, which brings us to February 11, 2017.
It was my first exposure to a Wags to Riches event and what a beautiful one it was. Yes, there were a plethora of prizes that lined the walls of Tom’s Country Place, the venue of the evening’s gala. Local celebrities from Fox 8 appeared, an authentic OSU Buckeyes helmet was up for grabs and the food was delicious. As great as those aforementioned aspects are, they were not the highlights of the evening. The highlight was when tables of guests made their donations and everyone was asked to stand. Greg Willey stood proudly at the front of the room naming an amount and asking people to sit if their table collectively donated less than that. As the stated amounts increased by Willey, more tables continued to sit and the emotion from FAPL’s Executive Director started to surface.
So here is where my mention of Florida comes full circle. There is something about the people of Cleveland and its surrounding areas. There is this undeniable vibe of positivity among its citizens. Yeah we get six months of gray skies throughout the year. I’ll take it. We have harsh winters from time to time. I’ll handle it. We have some absolutely incredible, down to earth folks here who will give a paycheck to help an injured cat and dog. I’ll embrace them.
As Greg’s voice started to crack in sheer emotion and surprise once the amount of $3,000 was announced and multiple tables were still standing, I would be lying if I told you I was not starting to experience the same swell of emotion. Greg had to face the crowd of 300+ that night. I got to sit in the back, shielding my teary eyes from the masses. Why? Because I have seen a little girl’s face light up at the shelter when she and her mom took home a cat and I have seen a middle-aged man dance around the parking lot in elation with his new dog. Wags to Riches made moments like those possible. As for that leading donor table, they surpassed the $5,000 mark. What that table alone contributed was remarkable. What all the guests did combined was like a greater power hugging your soul. That’s Northeast Ohio for you.
(Left to right) FAPL Board President Deb McFadden, Fox 8 anchors Gabe Spiegel and Natalie Herbick, FAPL Board Vice President Amy Richards
Wags didn’t stop there though. There was also a night of festivities that continued to put smiles on the faces of those in attendance. A money-free casino evening was the theme as people took their seats at Blackjack tables and around the roulette wheel. Personally I watched my chips disappear faster than a desert oasis. Hey, just like real life in Vegas, but I digress. While guests excitedly darted between tables, a collective “Awww!” of disappointment was let out over at the red and black spinning disc of chance. Surely someone just missed red 27, but even when real money is not on the line, the engaging roulette wheel can apparently still have a cold, cold heart.
The evening’s musical entertainment was provided by local band Honeycreek. The five-member group had a knack for playing a wide variety of tunes, even slowing some down to make them appropriate for the casual mood of the evening. I even caught a Lady Gaga song played by them, with just enough of a toned down tempo and a jazzy club effect added to create a new spin on it. Honeycreek didn’t miss a beat on the evening, playing a marathon of sets and showing no signs of musical fatigue.
This article cannot be concluded without a mention of some very special guests of honor. A few cats and dogs from the shelter were on hand to meet and greet with the human attendees. One in particular was a three-legged sharpei named Jersey who became the night’s social butterfly. As Greg Willey said in his speech, the sharpei breed can typically be non-social and standoffish. Jersey was anything but those two traits. This dog was so incredibly happy with all the attention, all she did was put smiles on people’s faces. This dog’s awesome demeanor is just begging for an adoption. While less spotlight-enjoying, the other dogs and cats on hand were just as lovable in their own, more chill way. Everyone has their own speed, even felines and canines.
By the end of the night, FAPL had exceeded its expected donation goal. Attendees, many carrying prizes, left happy and yours truly took a second to stare at what all that hard work produced. I’ll be honest. I don’t know the origin story of the Friendship Animal Protective League in Elyria, Ohio. I just know that whatever evolution it underwent over the years has led to a culmination of staff, volunteers and leadership that have turned this shelter into a well-oiled machine. It is a place where cats and dogs get new leases on life, and sometimes so do the people that adopt them. It is a place where dogs are trained and bonds are made. It is a place that holds one night a year so dear to its heart to make it all possible. Wags to Riches. What a night.
Photographs courtesy of Abby McElhannon and Gregg Senko
On December 18, 2016, Lake Erie Harley Davidson of Avon, Ohio held their annual Christmas party to much fanfare. Customers of the dealership and general Harley fans showed up to enjoy in the celebration that was a good time had by all. Lake Erie Harley Davidson was also very accommodating to the Friendship APL as they welcomed us with open arms for the event.
Hog Dog guarding the tip jar
As FAPL volunteers Diane, Kevin and Gregg showed up to the festivities, they quickly commandeered the beer table, pouring both Great Lakes Christmas Ale and Labatt Blue to tantalize the holiday-seeking taste buds of Harley aficionados. As patrons lined up for their brew, the FAPL trio kept things moving while tips were all donated to the shelter. For most of the beer drinkers on the evening, once they discovered that the tips went to help the animals, they dug a little deeper in the pockets to fill the jar, something which we are all very grateful for.
Holiday thirst? Consider it quenched.
Local blues favorite Colin Dussault was on hand to provide the evening’s entertainment as he and two fellow musicians took the floor. The mini-band took a detour from their traditional blues flavor, performing a number of classic rock hits that were enjoyed by all in attendance. Dussault and crew played at a steady pace with little let-up in their talented performance, playing to the very end of the evening’s party.
Colin Dussault acoustic band
Finally, a Christmas party just isn’t complete without a visit from a certain North Pole resident. In one of his last appearances before his big night, Santa paid a visit to Lake Erie Harley Davidson. Not only that, but jolly old Saint Nick came in full red and white fashion with his better half, Mrs. Claus, as the two sat for photos with kids and spread holiday cheer. Horsepower, beer, Santa and helping animals. I’d say Christmas came early this year!
Santa and Mrs. Claus
The relationship between Lake Erie Harley Davidson and the Friendship Animal Protective League goes back nearly three decades and we couldn’t be more appreciative of their help and attention. This is especially the case during these cold winter months when strays roam our neighborhoods amongst the chilling air and bad owners leave their pets tethered outside on freezing winter nights. If beers and bikes aren’t your thing, no worries, you can help out pets by contributing directly to FAPL and by reporting abusive and neglecting circumstances to FAPL and the proper authorities.
Look for the beer events to resume at Lake Erie Harley Davidson this March. Until then, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year!
Yesterday, November 19th, marked the first snow of the ’16-’17 winter season. The wind had torn two tarps off of a train of parked shopping carts at a local store. Snow had quickly begun falling as if someone flipped a light switch, rapidly speeding toward the earth as it pelted me in the face like tiny frigid needles. Yes, welcome to the north coast. Fortunately, any disdain for such inclement conditions is easily remedied. I simply went inside and had lunch. Problem solved, at least until I had to go back outside, but such is life in Northeast Ohio.
While none of us can control the weather, we can control where we go. Unfortunately, this is not the case for animals. I remember years ago, meteorologist and pet lover Dick Goddard had told viewers not to be fooled by the fact an animal such as a cat or a dog has a fur coat. This is not a bulletproof vest from the elements. To disagree with that is foolhardy and ultimately cruel. Wolves and lynx can handle it. Our dogs and cats are not wolves nor lynx. So, with that in mind, it is important that we all follow the following steps to care for our animal companions that rely on us to feed them and keep them warm during the oncoming tundra-like conditions that Greater Cleveland is no stranger to.
#1 Bring Your Pets Indoors
I would refer you to the earlier mention of a cat or a dog’s fur coat. It is not a bubble that protects them from the cold. Would you sleep outside with a jacket when the temperatures drop to the 30’s or lower? Of course not. Bottom line, if you think it’s too cold for you, then it’s too cold for your pets. Unless the dog house has a door that shuts with fully functioning heat like your house does, bring them in. The same goes for folks who have cats that like to spend time outside. Bring them in at night so as to avoid any type of frostbite or other injury.
Always bring your pets inside in inclement conditions, especially the winter.
#2 Salt on the Driveway
The website PetPlace.com recently published an article pointing out the dangers of walking your dog on salted surfaces in the winter. Dogs often lick their paws after a walk. Should they ingest any of the salt they walked on, it can cause oral and internal irritation. It is important to note that it is not simply plain sodium that is getting thrown down on streets and sidewalks. It is an ice-melting agent combined with a sodium element. You wouldn’t put it on your fries, so don’t let your dog taste it either. In short, walk your dog in areas free of the ice-melting chemicals if you can. Even if this is not possible in your area, ALWAYS wipe your dog’s paws after the walk.
Ice-melts are not pet friendly
#3 Strays Have Feelings Too
If time and money allows, leave out a small structure for strays so they are protected from those biting Ohio winds. Taking a Rubbermaid container and placing it on its side is a great start. Tape the lid to the side facing the upward and now you’ve got an awning over the opening. A few dishes with some food and water will go a long way for a feral cat with an empty belly. Plus they may keep any rodent problem down by hanging around your home. They may be fed, but they still have an instinct to hunt. Another, slightly more elaborate option is to take a Rubbermaid container or styrofoam cooler (or any large plastic container) and cutting an entry hole in it for a cat. Make sure the lid is secured and throw some hay in there so that animal has a warm place to rest.
A cat shelter is an inexpensive yet very helpful commodity for stray and feral felines.
#4 Hold the Turkey
Okay, so maybe this last tip doesn’t have to do with the weather, but as Thanksgiving is right around the corner, this one is worth mentioning. Turkey skin is toxic to dogs. Let me type that again. Turkey skin is toxic to dogs. I know some will read that and say, “Oh I’ve been giving that to my dogs for years and they’re fine.” Hey I sped down I-480 last week and didn’t get caught. That doesn’t make it okay. Every Thanksgiving season, veterinary clinics get flooded with calls that the family dog is acting lethargic, vomiting or worse. There is absolutely no sense in rolling the dice on this one, folks. Your dog will still love you if you don’t give them turkey ever again.
Turkey skin is toxic to dogs. Refrain from feeding it to them.
So those are four simple yet vital tips to take to heart when caring for our pets and kindred stray spirits that roam our neighborhoods in the outside cold. Sadly, every winter some unfortunate stories make the news of animals who did not make it through freezing temperatures or the perils of the outdoors. Let’s do our best to follow the aforementioned steps and make our four-legged friends as comfortable as possible in these coming months.
On September 30th, I received a call about a kitten in a drain pipe in Oberlin. When arrived, I found the owners of the property looking into a drain right below a gutter. I could feel the steady drops of rain beginning to fall. We tried everything to get the little kitten to come to the front of the drainpipe, but it was far too scared to and only kept retreating back farther and farther into the drain. We tried to lure the kitten out with food and toys. The rain started pouring harder, and we could see that the drain was starting to fill with water because the kitten was blocking the drain. The homeowner came up with a plan to use a piece of plastic to help divert some of the water away from the drain, but the task was looking more and more hopeless. Sitting there in the mud, I made a last ditch effort. I rolled up my sleeve and shoved my hand down into the pipe. It was such a tight fit I actually scraped the skin off around my forearm, but I could feel fur. I wrapped my fingers around the little kitten and was able to pull the small calico out of the pipe. The owners brought out a towel and dried off the poor thing.
After a few minutes, they handed the kitten over to me and I began to walk back to my car to take the kitten to a clinic to check her out for hypothermia from sitting in the cold water. As I was walking, I heard the faintest meow come from behind me. I placed the kitten in a carrier and walked back over to the pipe. Another meow. Could there have been two kittens? It was truly a downpour now. I took out my phone and opened the camera app. I set the timer and flash and stuck the phone down the pipe and waited. The camera flashed. I looked at the picture. There he was – a little orange tabby staring right at me. He was too far in for me to grab this time. The owners called the Oberlin Fire Department. While we waited for them to arrive, I sat in the rain trying to keep more water for going down the drain.
The second kitten was just out of reach
The men and women of the Oberlin Fire Department were amazing. They took apart the gutter to prevent water from going down the pipe. They began digging out the drain and used a power saw to cut through it like a knife through butter. I was easily able to reach in and grab the kitten. We were all so happy to have rescued this poor baby. We loaded the kitten into the carrier with his sister. Something told me to take one more picture to make sure the pipe was clear. I snapped a couple photos. First picture. Nothing. Second picture. Nothing. Third picture. I could see something. I zoomed in. There it was, two little eyes staring back at me. This kitten was about thirty feet inside the pipe.
This one was going to be tricky. Thankfully members from the city works department showed up with a drain snake with a camera and a light that could be lowered into the pipe. The initial idea was to drive the kitten out the other end of the pipe where it emptied into a basin. However, there was a point where the kitten just would not move any more. But oddly enough, when they started pulling the light back, the kitten began to follow it. It took three tries and a several hours, but finally one of the firemen was able to grab the cold, wet calico from the pipe.
The Oberlin Fire Department dries off the third kitten after pulling her from the pipe.
I rushed all three kittens to the emergency clinic where they were warmed up and kept under observation for signs of hypothermia. The next day, they were released and placed with a foster family. I would like to thank the Oberlin Fire Department for their herculean effort to help me save these kittens. Without their support and the support of all our law enforcement officers and civil servants throughout Lorain County, I would not be able to save nearly as many of these cats and dogs as I do.
What has been a work in progress for over a month has finally come to fruition. Friendship APL is excited to announce its newly complete room for free-roaming felines, or as we like to call it, The Cattery. First off, we owe a big thank-you to David Humphrey and Ohio Desk for donating the furniture that will be shared by human and cat alike. FAPL’s own Executive Director, Greg Willey, fashioned the shelving against the far wall that you see below. A high durability indoor/outdoor rug is also now part of the room to handle the foot traffic of people while also giving the cats a warm place to lie.
Plenty of shelves to jump to!
The room is designed to hold 10 to 12 free-roaming cats. The concept of a communal cat room is not a new one, but it is certainly one that has ongoing benefits for our resident purring machines. For one, it establishes socialization amongst them. Socialization leads to tolerance of other cats and tolerance leads to adoptability. There is also the health/wellness factor that comes into the equation. Cats who have decreased stress levels in situations around other animals (or in general), can lead healthier lives.
Well-lit and full of places to hide and reside
Finally, and related to the previous matter, this new room frees those 10 to 12 cats from their cages, allowing them to jump, play and sleep in an area much more wide open than their previous living quarters. Yet another added benefit of the Cattery is that it allows FAPL to rescue more cats. Those dozen or so vacant cages give us the opportunity to save more cats from unfortunate situations such as bad homes or rough lives as strays in the great outdoors. If you’re interested in adopting in your future, please stop by the Friendship APL and step into our cozy cattery!
Just under two weeks ago, FAPL brought up five dogs from the Richland County Dog Shelter. One of the most personable of the group, Hank, has received his fair share of attention since that van ride up 71. The second time Hank was mentioned was for an event in Avon recently at Landmark Garden & Supply. He had a number of admirers, but October 15th just wasn’t Hank’s day to find a home. Enter this writer’s third coverage of the delightful retriever mix.
October 22nd saw two pit bull-mix pups, two kittens, two adult cats and our beloved Hank pay a visit to Petitti Garden Center in Avon. After about an hour into our promotional event on the chilly Saturday afternoon, one excited and determined woman arrived seeking the whereabouts of Hank. The beautiful dog peeked around the legs of a few volunteers and soon found his human match. The pair were happy as can be, and with that, we bid farewell to Hank as he settles into his forever home. We’ll miss you buddy, but we know this transition will be a great one.
Hank finds his forever home!
However, the good news doesn’t end there. Remember those pit bull pups I mentioned? Of the brother/sister pair, the sister, approximately 8 weeks old, was the target of one family’s affection as they were immediately drawn to the wee lass once they approached the FAPL tent. After several smiles and a lot of time shared with the pup, she was also on her way home as well, meet and greet pending of course. Believe it or not, like any game show announcer would exclaim, “There’s more!” The two kittens got adopted together so ‘inseparable’ will still be part of their vocabulary.
Pit bull pups…how can you deny these little pooches?!
While the remaining pup and two adult cats didn’t get to their homes today, surely their moment is just on the horizon. To see these fine furry friends and many others, please stop by the shelter to see who could be a great match for you.
On October 15th, the good folks at Landmark Lawn & Garden Supply in Avon, Ohio provided space for FAPL staff and volunteers to set up shop on the warm and sunny Saturday afternoon. Complete with a hay maze and pumpkin painting for kids, pet adoption was also on the list for grown-ups and children alike. Accompanied by five residents of the Friendship APL, the human crew brought in three cats and two dogs to show off to the public. One of the canines that was with us that day found her forever home after only a few hours. Wilma the Chihuahua quickly found comfort in the arms of her new companion as it seemed to be a match that was destined to be made.
Help this beautiful feline find her forever home!
While other staff answered questions and educated the Landmark customers on the animals that were present, I was distracted with the second dog, Hank. Hank is a retriever/terrier mix that we picked up from the Richland County Dog Shelter not a week prior to the day’s event. Instead of being the example of pet promotion excellence, I was the victim of tail-wagging affection. Yeah, I fell for it. Guilty as charged. Nevertheless, Hank had his fair share of admirers throughout the day with several inquiries made about the bronze beau.
FAPL sets up shop at Landmark Lawn & Garden in Avon.
He loves to play, enjoys the outdoors and makes for a great watchdog. The latter was proven when a nearby bystander had accidentally tripped their own car alarm to which Hank promptly responded, his eyes fixed on the source of the audible abnormality. Hopefully luck is right around the corner form him. With that being said, let’s hope the same is true for the three cats on hand that day. With personalities diverse as any human’s, the three people-loving felines are hoping that, like Wilma, they too capture the eyes of the next companion-seeking person that passes by their cage.
Arthur and George are so adorable! They are 2 month old kittens who were born in foster care. They are playful, loving and FUN! Arthur and George lived with other cats and dogs and did great. These cute kittens can be adopted at Friendship Animal Protective League.
Isn’t Scarecrow a neat looking cat? He is very friendly and really nice. Scarecrow is 2 years old and was a stray so his story is unknown. It would be so nice for this great cat to be adopted into a good home. Scarecrow is at Friendship Animal Protective League waiting for his adoption day.