Tuesday, April 8, 2008

WALK THE DOGGIE DASH FOR DIGGER

Want to get more than exercise when you walk your dog? You can! And at the same time you will have the satisfaction of helping animals less fortunate than your own pet. Bring your dog and walk the Georgia Heartland Humane Society’s 2008 Doggie Dash on Saturday, April 12. Walk for Digger (pictured at right), Georgia Heartland’s recent rescue, who can’t walk for himself --at least not this year.

DOGGIE DASH 2008
Saturday, April 12
Shakerag Park
Peachtree City
Registration at 9:30 am
Walk at 10:30 am

Digger was hit by a car, which crushed his foot. Three weeks passed before his owner took Digger to the vet. By that time Digger’s foot had literally rotted off, exposing his bones. The owner wanted Digger put down; but Georgia Heartland stepped in, took responsibility for Digger and paid for his surgery. Digger’s life was spared but because of the extensive infection, he lost his leg. Miraculously, Digger doesn’t seem to notice his infirmity. The day after surgery he was up, walking, and eager to get on with life. Digger hopes to find that life with an owner who, like Digger, doesn’t see three legs as a limitation. That special person hasn’t called yet, but GHHS and Digger know it is just a matter of time. If you are that person, please call GHHS at their hotline (770) 830-2820.

Georgia Heartland, a nonprofit agency, which serves Fayette and Coweta counties, is staffed entirely by volunteers. The organization relies on foster families to care for rescued animals until they are adopted. Unlike the many good humane societies, which represent sheltered animals, GHHS finds animals on the street, at the dump, in the backyards of abusive owners, lost on the expressway, and running in feral packs. Concerned citizens call their hotline. And as in the case of Digger, concerned vets also call.

Most of the animals that find their way to GHHS are unwanted. The greatest percent come from unwanted litters. Owners, who fail to have their pet spayed or neutered, suddenly find themselves with more animals than they can handle or afford. Unwanted litters are sometimes taken to shelters; others are just discarded by the road, dumped like refuse, victims of our throw-away society. Hungry, many of these animals will approach a home, where they may find a hand out. If fortunate, they find someone like Gloria Carswell, who found four abandoned kittens taking refuge under the woodpile. Gloria deduced that these four were part of a litter of at least 7. Each of the four kittens bore a number written inside their ear with a magic marker. These foundling kittens were numbers 4, 5, 6 & 7. Perhaps the owner found homes for the first three. There is no way to know.

Sawyer (pictured at right with adoptive "mom" Melissa Hudson), a 10 month old male cat, was not so fortunate, not initially, at least. Volunteers often say that they wish the animals could talk—to tell their story. In Sawyer’s case, the x-ray said it all. Sawyer limped his way into Gloria Carswell’s garage, where he had sniffed out a bowl of food. Her trained eye saw him holding up his leg, refusing to put weight on it. She would later learn that his leg was broken, a nasty fracture mid-femur.

The x-rays gave a clue to the possible cause of the injury. Sawyer’s body was riddled with shrapnel, 30-40 pellets embedded under his skin. We cannot know for certain, but it is likely that he was high off the ground when he was shot or he injured his leg while fleeing in terror from his cruel assailant. His leg repaired by a pin, Sawyer is well into recovery. Although he may always have a limp, he jumps and runs and plays. His leg doesn’t keep him from his favorite pastime, lap-sitting.
Dr. Moses of Cat Care of Fayette indicated that it is rare for pellets to migrate or cause any lasting health problem down the road. In spite of one person’s cruelty, Sawyer is unafraid of human contact. He uses his large strong head for good purpose, rubbing against anyone who might give him a scratch or a stroke. Sawyer is now residing with a foster Mom, Melissa Hudson. Melissa has fostered many cats. She wrote about Foster, “He deserves every good thing coming to him. Publicity, a good home, and more love. He will be one of the hard ones to let go, but some are harder than others.” She speaks for all GHHS volunteers who bond with their foster pets, and are torn by their loss and the joy they feel for the pet who has found their forever home.

Most abandoned animals don’t find their rescuer. They become part of Georgia’s feral cat or dog population, roaming the county, looking for food. These animals lead desperate lives. They are subject to hunger, the elements, and disease. They are crushed beneath the wheels of cars or become prey of larger animals. Perhaps the most difficult to accept, like Sawyer, they become the victims of man’s cruelty. The number of these feral animals is not known. Feral cats and dogs are not easily captured, unless very ill or very pregnant. Most GHHS volunteers wear the badge of courage, the scars from a bite or scratch inflicted by a frightened animal that is not convinced of the rescuer’s good intentions.

Long time GHHS volunteer Susan Vacinek has seen her share of feral rescues. She swears that someone recently placed a pup (now named Rusty) in her front yard because her fence is “impossible to get in or out of.” Knowing that one pup usually means more, she wasn’t surprised to find 11 more with their mothers at a nearby commercial building. An older gentleman, who guards the property, told her that three female strays had made their home there. He had one spayed, but didn’t have funds for the others, who were careful to avoid capture anyway. With a stray unneutered Boxer hanging around, the inevitable result occurred, two litters of pups. The man was feeding the dogs and pups, but the round little bellies of the pups indicated that medical care could be needed.

With the man’s help, Susan devised a plan. She returned at the evening feeding time. Sitting quietly and patiently near the bowls of food, she found the pups were so anxious to eat that she could slowly get a hand on them. She was able to capture Patty and Rusty before the other puppies scattered, their fear overcoming their hunger. Rusty and Patty are undergoing a period of socialization, necessary for all feral animals before they are presented for adoption. Part of that socialization is being exposed to people other than their foster family. So at Easter dinner, Patty and Rusty were passed around to guests, eager to participate in the lives of these foundlings. Their little tails wagging, neither pup minded the attention. Soon they will be spayed and neutered and adopted.

But what of the other pups? And their mothers? GHHS currently has no more foster homes. When space frees up, another attempt will be made to capture them. Time is critical because the owner of the property has already insisted that the pups be taken to a shelter. The adult females will produce more puppies if not caught and spayed. And those puppies will produce puppies. The problem continues. In six years, one female dog and her offspring can theoretically produce 67,000 dogs. Catching the adult dogs to be spayed or neutered is essential or another rescue will be in the offing with more to follow.

Dogs are not the only rescues at GHHS. Cats count too. Longtime GHHS volunteer Linda Earheart is known as the “cat lady” because of her love of felines. Linda learned of a couple with 30 cats on their property, most living beneath the porch, and most nearly feral. She persuaded the couple to let GHHS take the latest litter. Good hearted people often take in strays, but generally don’t have them neutered or spayed or vaccinated. Kittens can have their first litter at five months of age (Spay USA). A fertile cat can produce an average of three litters per year with an average of four to six kittens to a litter. As a result, in seven years one female cat and her offspring can theoretically produce a staggering 420,000 cats.

Feral cats can be more difficult to socialize. First, the terrified animals are placed in a confined area. Immediate medical needs are determined and obtained when necessary. As soon as possible, the animals are bathed. Periodic human contact is essential. To overcome the kitten’s fear of humans, Linda would dip her fingers in chicken baby food and offer the tasty treat to the little ones. It wasn’t long before the kittens were jumping into the closest available lap, demanding attention. Tested, vaccinated, neutered or spayed, Chloe, Princess and Thor have all found forever homes. Zoe, who needs a bit more time, remains in her foster home with Annette and Peter Janssen.

In spite of valiant efforts, Georgia Heartland Humane Society cannot solve pet overpopulation or the abuse and abandonment which often follow. They can only assist the community. Jill Whisker, a long time GHHS volunteer, states the problem: “GHHS and like agencies have a finger in the dike while the water spills over the top. The problem of pet overpopulation and the associated results can only be solved by the collected efforts of community leaders, families, professionals, businesses, schools, churches, etc. Community involvement is essential.”

Georgia Heartland relies on donations from the community to continue their work. A large portion of their rescue budget comes from Doggie Dash, a 5K pledge “walk with your dog” through Shakerag Park in Peachtree City. This year Doggie Dash occurs on April 12 with registration at 9:30 am followed by the walk at 10:30. A shorter course is available. Participants are asked to collect donations from their friends, co-workers, and families to support the needy animals of the community. Those who cannot walk Doggie Dash can send their contributions to Georgia Heartland Humane Society, PO Box 72197, Newnan GA 30271-2197. GHHS encourages churches or civic groups or even neighbors to organize teams to compete for the collection of the most donations. Those who collect $50 or more receive the Doggie Dash t-shirt, which has become a prized collectible for past participants, symbolic of caring for animals in need. GHHS asks the community to help. Go to http://www.gaheartland.com/ to download registration and pledge forms. And as always, call Georgia Heartland at (770) 830-2820 to foster a needy pet, helping them on their journey to find their forever home. Adoptions are held each Saturday at Petsmart in Newnan.

GHHS President Barbara Grosse asks for a different kind of support. She urges, “If you haven’t spayed or neutered your pet, do so. That simple act of prevention is good for your pet’s health and supports your community and GHHS.” Those who cannot afford the cost of spaying/neutering are encouraged to contact Georgia Heartland at gaheartland1@yahoo.com.
Special thanks to Annette Janssen for the article!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Doggie Dash 2008 Update

Dear Fellow Animal Lover,

How would you like to win a portrait of you and your pet (or just yourself) with professional makeup artists at your disposal for a portrait of a lifetime? Here’s what you should do: become a participant in Georgia Heartland Humane Society’s Doggie Dash 2008, to be held Saturday, April 12 at Shakerag Park in Peachtree City. Top donation collectors can choose a glamour portrait by Glamour Shots or one of a number of other special prizes that will be awarded!

Doggie Dash, GHHS’s premier fund-raiser, is a 5K walk (a shorter route is also available) that animal lovers participate in to help raise money for our rescue mission. GHHS helps animals like Digger, a lovely Chow/Goldie mix whose owner turned him in to be euthanized because he had been hit by a car and they did not like looking at the injured leg or Precious, a sweet 7 year old Chihuahua, who is fighting for her life because her owners never kept her on heartworm prevention. And there's Kano, a puppy born to a stray mother and abandoned in someone's front yard. Kano had a birth defect and was born with one leg partially missing. These wonderful animals have a chance to find a loving home and a good life because of people like you.

To register for Doggie Dash 2008, pick up a registration packet or go to our website, www.gaheartland.com, where you will find all of the information you need. Take the pledge/donation form to church, to school and to your office and ask your neighbors, friends and relatives to make a donation to GHHS. (They can make out a tax deductible check to GHHS.)

Form a team of fellow office workers or running club members and compete for the prize for the most donations collected by a team. A special offer is given to local veterinary clinics. The top donation collector among vet clinics will win a FREE CATERED LUNCH for their office! There will also be a special top prize for the most donations collected by a junior individual (younger than 18). Then come to Shakerag Park on April 12 and turn in your donations.

Individuals will receive a FREE DOGGIE DASH T-SHIRT if they collect at least $50 in donations. Other top prizes that everyone is eligible for include: a Glamour Shots portrait (value: $700—three of these will be awarded), a week’s stay at The Fur Pet Resort (value: $238), a week’s stay at Airport Park ‘N Bark (value: $238), doggie day care at Camp Bow Wow, a one-of-a-kind piece of pottery donated by a local artist, free Frontline and Heartgard medication, a free voucher to test your dog’s DNA makeup (provided by Mars Veterinary, Inc.) and much, much more! Visit our exhibitors for free dog goodies and win door prizes!

Collect as a team or as an individual, and join us on April 12. Have some fun AND help make a difference in the life of a homeless animal.

For more information go to www.gaheartland.com or call us at 770-830-2820.
Doggie Dash 2008 Committee
Georgia Heartland Humane Society