Due to increased attendance, we have re-designed the way that we will be running our vaccine clinics. This change is to ensure that we are able to help all of the animals that come to us on a clinic day and also allows us to prepare in advance so that we can efficiently assist as many people as possible.
Beginning with our next clinic on July 12th, 2016 we will no longer offer “Walk In” vaccine clinic services.
You must pre-register for all clinic days. After you have pre-registered, you will receive a confirmation via phone, mail or e-mail with an assigned appointment slot. If you do not pre-register, we will be unable to see you on our vaccine clinic day.
On Vaccine Clinic days, we offer rabies and distemper vaccines, general exams as well as services such as nail trimming and ear cleaning. Each clinic is 10 am – noon and we will assist clients on a first-come first-served basis. Having clients pre-register allows us to properly prepare paperwork prior to the clinic which will cut down on the registration process, allowing us to help as many animals as we can.
Rosie – adopted 1 year ago. She is the best dog one could wish for. She has come such a long way in her training and shows her gratitude for having been rescued every day! Rosie and owner are saying hello from Lamoille County.
Okay, maybe I am overstating it a bit, but the other day, an event at the shelter had staff and volunteers out front, exclaiming in joy and surprise. Was it a check for ten million bucks? Sadly, no. It was a gentleman and his son claiming their missing cat!
I’m guessing you’re surprised this is such a big deal for us. Truthfully, for all of the staff here at WCHS, this feels close to a miracle. When this older male cat showed up as a stray and had a microchip, Heidi, our vet tech, was thrilled. When the chip was actually registered to a person with a current phone number, I thought she might just explode before my very eyes.
Five to seven million cats and dogs enter shelters each year. Sadly, less than 5 percent of stray cats that make it into shelters nationwide are claimed by their owners. Or, to put it another way, 95 percent of the cats that come into shelters? No one ever comes looking for them. Here at the WCHS, our claim rate is higher – a whopping 8 percent. Yay? I’m glad we beat the national average, but here are our numbers from 2014: We took in 297 stray cats and of those, 24 were claimed. 24. No one showed up for 273 cats. We’ve even had cats who clearly had recently had expensive surgery and no one claims them.
But let’s not forget that most lost cats never even make it to a shelter. Cats are more often reunited with their owners without ever having been picked up as a “stray”. The ASPCA did a study of lost animals that made it home, and that number is much more reassuring – 85 percent of lost animals were reunited with their owners. Cats still get the short end of that stick – 74 percent made it home, while 93 percent of dogs made it home. Interestingly enough, owner demographics did not affect that return rate. Rich or poor, most animals make it home.
The most interesting factoid, in my opinion, is that cat owners tend to wait about three days before they start looking for their missing cat, while owners search for dogs right away. To quote Dr. Emily Weiss of the ASPCA, “Cats come home, dogs are sought”. This speaks loudly to how differently we view these two domesticated pets. Even leash laws and state licensing reflect just how differently we treat dogs and cats.
What would you do if you saw an unknown dog in your yard? You’d probably find that unusual, you might call your animal control officer, even in some of our most rural towns. But you see a cat and you might not even think twice. You probably don’t call your animal control officer. If you do, they may tell you to leave the cat, it will most likely make its way home, and they would be right – three quarters of them do make it home. And of those, most of them make it home on their own (59 percent), while 30 percent are found during neighborhood searches. Some of them are already living the life of Riley in a neighbor’s home, caviar at night and a new bed. So you begin to see why we are so surprised when someone actually comes to claim a cat. Which brings us back to Willow.
When his family came to get him, they told us they were from Keene, NH. Really?? Did this 14-year-old cat hitch a ride? Probably an unwitting one. Willow lives on a main street in Keene, and this is the second time he has gone AWOL. The first time, a neighbor assumed he was a stray and took him in. Our assumption is that Willow’s second grand adventure happened in a similar way – someone saw him on his street in Keene, assumed he was a stray, or maybe just thought he was cute, picked him up and brought him home to Brattleboro, where our local Animal Control Officer, Cathy Barrows, brought him to us. Was he happy living in Brattleboro or did he escape his captors in an attempt to get home? Either way, it really is something of a miracle that Willow made it home not once, but twice. This cat should buy a lottery ticket, he is really beating the odds.
Not surprisingly, the claim rate for dogs is higher, both nationally (10-30 percent) and in our experience, but still not as high as one might expect. But that is a story for another day.
To see what Dr. Weiss had to say on the subject, and for a link to her research, visit the ASPCA Pro website
You never know what a spay/neuter clinic day will bring. It is always busy, always gratifying, and sometimes surprising. Which is what it was at our most recent clinic – surprising. Let me set the backdrop for you – we work with an amazing veterinarian, Dr. Sara White, to offer low-cost spay/neuter clinics in our county twice a month. Dr. White runs her own non-profit, Spay ASAP, and her mission is to end pet overpopulation in the state of Vermont. Not only is she an incredibly skilled surgeon, she is a cat whisperer and a true humanitarian.
Which is why we were so grateful it was her hand wielding the surgical instruments last week – skill and compassion were exactly what we needed. It had been a challenging clinic already – six very large dogs were up first for surgery, which meant the team started on the cats in the early afternoon – much later than usual. We had also had to reschedule this clinic thanks to (non-event) Storm Juno, which meant Dr. White did not have her trusty sidekick with her, veterinary technician, Jen.
I love to stick my head in the conference room on spay/neuter day, and not just because my sweetie volunteers to help vaccinate, clean ears, trim nails and help animals come out from under the anesthesia. But also because it is fun to watch this well-oiled machine perform one of the most important services we offer – low cost spay neuter. On a busy day, we will spay and neuter over 40 animals.
I knew something was off when I checked in on the clinic. Typically, every one of the team, staff and volunteers, is busy, moving, occupied, sometimes barely keeping up with the flow of animals coming from the surgery table. But the only one engrossed in a task was Dr. White.
“What’s up?” I asked.
I’m going to spare you too much detail here, but Keri, one of our veterinary technicians and our most senior staff person (13 years at WCHS!) explained that the cat on the surgery table, Zoey, had experienced a rare problem, a rupture of the uterus. It appeared that this had happened any-where from three days to a week before.
Suffice it to say, it was a mess in there and there was, of course, widespread infection, and this kitty was lucky to be alive… and lucky to have come into our clinic… and lucky to have Dr. White be her surgeon. Even if Zoey had ended up at the world’s best veterinary clinic, this would have been a very expensive surgery, and the decision to euthanize Zoey rather than spend thousands on her might very well have been the outcome. Not every pet owner can spend that kind of money to save their pet in this kind of unexpected emergency situation.
But Dr. White just quietly went to work repairing the damage, while the team watched and waited. It set the clinic back a good hour while Dr. White took care of Zoey, but everyone was invested in a successful outcome and willing to stay late to get the job done and get to the other animals waiting for surgery. Volunteers and staff who typically are cleaning up at 3 p.m. were still working at 5. But there was no complaining, just a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in a job well done, in another life saved.
Just another reason to love my job and the wonderful people I get to work with.
We are so happy we found Piper. Our British cat, Dexter, was so lonely and miserable his first winter in Vermont that he gained tons of weight and just moped around. We visited WCHS and immediately found exactly the right companion to boost his spirits and give him a workout. Piper is definitely a bundle of constantly whirling energy, fun, funny and very loving. She and Dext have a great time together. She loves playing with toys and lounging on top of the cable box. We can’t imagine life without her. She’s a huge personality in a tiny body and we can’t thank you enough for introducing her! Pat & Conrad
To the Windham County Humane Society: I adopted Duncan from your shelter about 12.5 years ago. He was a 6 week old beagle-basset hound mix. Thank you for letting me adopt him. I released him to the Rainbow Bridge last Wednesday. Below is my tribute: I met you at the shelter 6 weeks and sweet. Alone in your cell, such tiny feet. I paid the fee to bring you home with me. Years have passed and here we are so fast. Fare thee well my friend, I was with you ’til the end. I released your tired body this afternoon. You should reach the bridge by the shine of the moon. For many many years, you’ve been my buddy and always near. You’ve kissed my nose and slept on my toes. Lots of bones and frosty paws, the love in your eyes I saw. I dream of your days in the sun, having you was so much fun. I slept on the floor with you last night, praying with all my might. That God would give you another year but I knew and I feared. Your time on earth was done. I already miss you tons and tons. Go now and run in the snow and the sun. Just as you did when life begun. I know I will still reach for your supper bowl. Then I will remember my heart is no longer whole. Thank you for all your love and cheer. Know that I remember you clear. When God calls me home, meet me at the gate. We will ride the boat, this time you’re first mate. We will travel the world you and me, in search of the very best treats. We will be together again like before. Duncan, I love you more and more.