Veterinary Care is a crucial component of a homeless animal’s journey to finding a forever home. Animals who arrive at our Cape Ann Animal Aid Christopher Cutler Rich Animal Shelter depend on the medical resources and care that we provide. Those resources, however, are sometimes extremely limited.
For many years we have relied on the generosity of area veterinary hospitals to work alongside our medical staff. Even with these generous partnerships, managing the medical needs of more than 70 dogs and cats in foster homes during the early days of COVID-19 was a formidable challenge. Closing to the public in March gave us the unexpected opportunity to start putting plans into place for a robust shelter medicine department. Not only did this include plans for constructing a procedure room with high quality medical and surgical equipment, it also included the addition of two full-time shelter medicine staff members.
These additional medical resources came just in time for a homeless momma dog, Sandy, and her seven pups. This family of eight were transferred into our care, in need of safe shelter and medical treatment. Thanks to the coordinated efforts of our foster care program and veterinary staff, we were able to provide them all with preventative vaccines and medications as well as spay and neutering procedures. Having all these resources available within our shelter allowed us to help an entire family along on their individual journeys into loving homes, despite the impact of COVID-19 on our community. Thanks to your support, Cape Ann Animal Aid's growing shelter medicine department had resources to save their lives.
"Being able to attend to our animals’ medical and surgical needs on-site without the additional step of having to visit an external veterinary clinic has been beneficial to the health and safety of our animals and staff. I am pleased and excited to be the full-time veterinarian at Cape Ann Animal Aid. This means that our dogs and cats get medical attention without needing an offsite appointment. Also, this means that our amazing foster care providers and staff now have an in-shelter resource for medical questions and concerns.”
– Dr. Alex Becket, Cape Ann Animal Aid’s Director of Shelter Medicine
Providing medical care in a timely manner is essential to the health and well-being of homeless animals. This was the case for Ella Fitz, a 9-week-old kitten found on a rescuer’s porch after she’d been hit by a car. Ella’s tail was severely damaged, and her wrist was dislocated. After initial therapy and a tail amputation provided by another veterinary group, she was transferred to Cape Ann Animal Aid for further advanced treatment. Once in our care, it was determined that Ella’s wrist injury was far more extensive than originally thought. In addition, there was deep nerve damage to her arm causing her severe pain, making it less likely to be a usable limb in the future. After careful consideration and testing, we determined that the best course of action would be to amputate the limb. Thanks to our expert staff and newly added surgical equipment, we were able to perform the operation in house without waiting for a scheduled appointment with an outside clinic. Fluid therapy, pain management and critical nursing care were all provided to her quickly and within our own clinical setup.
While we have made great strides and Cape Ann Animal Aid’s shelter medicine program now includes high-quality surgical equipment, we are still in need of more advanced medical equipment, supplies and procedure room space to help animals with more severe needs, animals like Victoria and Scooby.
During the early days of Covid-19 isolation when many doors were closed, we took into our care two older puppies from two different regions of the country where their lives were at risk. Victoria, pictured on the left, was transferred into our care from Puerto Rico and Scooby, pictured below, from Texas. After receiving routine medical care within our facility, both dogs were placed into caring foster families until they could be adopted. While in foster care, it was quickly realized that both dogs were experiencing varying levels of lameness and pain related to possible traumas or genetic hip dysplasia.
Scooby and Victoria need orthopedic surgeries to prevent reduced mobility and a lifetime of pain and discomfort. Scooby also has an additional knee problem in his left leg called a luxating patella, which is a condition where the kneecap will pop out of place. Without surgery, his knee will deteriorate rapidly.
In Scooby’s case, this is a debilitating condition, but one that can be easily treated with surgery. Currently, the shelter medicine department at Cape Ann Animal Aid lacks the needed procedure room space to perform surgeries of this type. We are relying on our partnerships with area veterinary hospitals to perform both surgeries in August. The future of our growing shelter medicine department is to provide this resource which would reduce costs and increase our ability to help more animals in a timely manner. With your support, Cape Ann Animal Aid can ensure that Scooby and Victoria and other dogs like them have the best quality of life, pain free.
We are pleased to report all these lucky animals are being loved by families of their own! Sandy and all 7 of her pups have been individually adopted and are enjoying the creature comforts that come from a loving home. And Ella Fitz has regained her mobility and gets around much faster and pain free without her damaged limb. This tiny being embraces life fully and is keeping her newly adopted family on their toes. Scooby and Victoria stole the hearts of their fosters who later decided to make them permanent members of their families.
These incredible animals are all thriving today and serve as a reminder of why we need to increase our ability to provide complete veterinary care to our shelter animals. Your gift will ensure that we are able to deliver lifesaving care to more vulnerable homeless animals.
Please give a generous gift today to the Cape Ann Animal Aid Veterinary Care Fund and, together, we can provide safe shelter, essential medical care and love to more pets who desperately need us.
Thank you for helping us save their lives.
Kelly Stallings dedicated the better part of her life to improving the lives of animals. She believed in the deep
connection we have with animals and the power they hold to uplift the human spirit. After Kelly passed away last year, her family wanted to honor her unconditional love and commitment to animals with a gift that would continue to help those in need. Cape Ann Animal Aid is honored to accept this generous gift in her name as a Foundation Sponsor for a Dog Meet and Greet Area in our shelter.
“Kelly was a kind, gentle and loving person who shared her entire life with animals and who put animals first. Kelly contributed to improving animal lives as a veterinarian technician, animal shelter adoption counselor and kennel technician, and an animal hospital radiology technician. Kelly also volunteered at animal shelters and she fostered cats and dogs,” says her husband, Eric.
Those who spend their lives caring for and bonding with animals understand the true value of these relationships. Kelly even wrote a book on the subject called, Never Say Goodbye: Reflections of a Lifetime of Loving Animals that was published posthumously in January 2020.
“Throughout her life, she was a devoted and loving parent to cats, dogs, hamsters and rabbits. I loved and admired Kelly for her ability to love animals unconditionally. I am and will be forever grateful to Kelly for expanding my thinking and belief systems regarding animals and our connections with them. She was a compassionate and emphatic person and cared deeply for animals. She was technically proficient and competent and had very good intuition when caring for animals. The animals and we were lucky to have been part of Kelly’s life, regardless of the length of time together with her. Kelly had a wonderful smile and was a beautiful person.”
Soon, each time someone visits Cape Ann Animal Aid and meets their new best friend, they will see Kelly’s name and photos of Kelly with a few animals that were important in her life.
As a nonprofit that focuses its effort exclusively on animals, it may seem beyond our scope to comment on racism in America. But our mission statement contains the phrase “respect and well-being” and we believe that this sentiment does not just apply to cats and dogs. As an organization, we have a responsibility to stand up for those who are hurting or in search of an equal opportunity to grow and thrive - including humans.
The killing of George Floyd and many others in the Black community has been a painful and necessary reminder that systemic racism causes our society to be anything but humane to people of color. The events of the past few weeks have created an urgency for change that has expanded across our country. We all need to do more, both as organizations and as individuals.
We recognize that actions speak louder than words. Cape Ann Animal Aid is actively examining how we can internally grow and sustain a more diverse, equitable and inclusive space at 4 Paws Lane for our staff, our volunteers, our supporters and the public. We are committed to continuing to listen, learn, and reflect upon what specific measures we can take to ensure we are an active part of that process tomorrow and every day thereafter.
To know her is to love her. Or, at least to try! Sissy came to Cape Ann Animal Aid as a pregnant mom-to-be, and stole the hearts of many at the shelter. But, she was timid, nervous, and not quick to trust. Today, we are sharing the story of her journey that started in Texas and ended in her forever home! We're so glad that stories like theirs can have a new beginning thanks to the support of the Petco Foundation. Because of their generous investment in our live saving work, we can continue to provide homes for animals like Sissy and her babies despite all that is going on in the world around us.
Sissy initially came to us from Texas, through our rescue partner Chances Dog Rescue and Relocation. Tiffany Menard, Director of Chances, shares with us the story of how she came to them:
"She came to us via the Animal Control Officer (ACO) in a rural county outside of southwest Houston. He was called to the property by the authorities (the sheriff, I believe), and he found many, many, many dogs. It was clearly a hoarding case, but there are also clear signs of neglect. None of the dogs were inside, none we altered, none were licensed, and no rabies information could be found on any of them. No food, water or outdoor shelter was available to the dogs either. In all, 16 dogs were seized from the property that day. 2 were humanely euthanized due to medical issues, and the rest were taken in by the ACO.
There were 2 adults - Sissy and Henry (the black pup who appears next to her in at least one of the pictures) and 2 litters of puppies. Henry stayed with the ACO, but a foster took in Sissy and the puppies since it was clear they needed some more TLC.
I wish Sissy's beginning was an uncommon one. It is not.
The foster has a large ranch, and she worked hard to socialize the puppies. She also spent considerable time with Sissy, who was very shy. Sissy was unsure of herself enough though to walk only in a crouch. In fact, in the beginning, she wouldn't walk at all and needed to be carried outside to relieve herself. After a few days of TLC she was willing to walk on her own, but stayed low to the ground. She had gentle eyes and craved affection though. She returned pets and quiet conversation with sweet, gentle kisses. She was content to just lay down near her foster. She was happy in the company of other dogs, but did not love the wild, roughhousing puppies. Within less than a week, it became apparent that she was likely pregnant. Thankfully, we had an upcoming transport to Cape Ann and she was able to make the trip. (Henry and the wild puppies were transported to another partner organization, so the entire crew ended up safe and up north.)
I wish Sissy's beginning was an uncommon one. It is not. While Houston itself has a massive animal control / care issue, the rural counties possibly have it even worse. Dogs are routinely not spayed / neutered or even vaccinated. Some dogs are tethered to trees or truck bumpers or porches. Most roam free. Very few live inside homes as pets. While owners are required to provide access to food, water and shelter, many do not, and there are not enough ACOs to police this (or judges to enforce it). The dangers are countless - cars, wild animals, aggressive domesticated / owned animals, evil people, gun owning dog hating property owners, etc. ACOs pick up unwanted, abused, neglected and sick animals, but have very few resources for them. The counties prefer to euthanize animals after the required 72-hour stray hold - as it is a cheaper option than sheltering them and paying for care staff. The ACO who picked up Sissy actually built a shelter on his property to house dogs while he networked them to rescues."
Sissy was transferred in to CAAA on December 17th. Just 5 days later, on December 22nd, she gave birth to her two puppies, a boy and a girl.
Sissy was sweet and calm in the shelter, but hesitant. It was clear she wasn't sure whether or not to trust anyone. Shortly after giving birth, right after the new year, Sissy and her two puppies, Buddy and Minnie, went into foster with a staff member.
It was very hard on Kevin to see how scared she was of him.
Once in foster, it became obvious to all that Sissy was going to need a special home to adopt her. She was very nervous in the home, especially around men. She would growl and bark at the man in the house, and wouldn't even walk by him. Mindy, Sissy's foster mom, wrote:
"She would stay in the foster dog room with her pups even when her pups would come out of the room she would only come out with me. It was very hard on Kevin to see how scared she was of him. But he would talk to her even when she would bark at him.. such a kind soul he is.."
Sissy and her puppy, Minnie (now Nova)
Sissy, Minnie, and Buddy all stayed with Mindy and Kevin until the puppies reached 8 weeks of age, at which point they returned to the shelter. Minnie and Buddy were subsequently adopted out to their own forever homes, while Sissy waited in the shelter for her own Spay surgery.
In the shelter, Sissy began to slowly open up, though she continued to be very wary of visitors and would hide from and bark at anyone who would walk by the office. A dog who clearly loved and cherished "her people", she bonded well with several staff members that she saw on a regular basis, though it did require patience.
Around other dogs, however, staff began to see her really shine. With puppies, she was playful and excitable. It became apparent that Sissy would thrive most in a home with a companion of her own to bring her out of her shell.
Now, it’s like a whole different Sissy With PAL showing her how to trust
UPDATE ON MINNIE (NOW NOVA)
Sissy's puppies had their own happy endings! Minnie, now Nova, found her forever home with some new friends of her own! Her adopter writes:
"We had no plans to get another dog. We already had 10 year old Kermit, the best behaved Boston Terrier around.
When I saw a picture of Nova, I thought “that’s exactly the kind of dog I would get if I was looking for one” then not another thought about it. When I heard that she was the only dog waiting for foster still in the shelter I convinced Kevin we could take her just for a week or two until she was adopted. She was so cute I knew she would be snatched up soon. Kevin was out of work due to Covid, so no excuses, he could be home with her.
So we met “Minnie”, she was a happy pup and she and Kermit got along great.
Those first few days everything she did was not only adorable but also hilarious. She is so clumsy and lovable. Her and my grandson play and snuggle a lot. We fell in love and decided to adopt.
She has brought us so much joy over the last month. She is a reason to get up and get moving, all that puppy energy needs to go somewhere. She is such a snuggler and she is a quick learner. Her and Kermit have become best friends."
Cape ann animal aid
An opportunity for you to learn more about the mission and programs of Cape Ann Animal Aid. Sharing candid insights, guest columns, breaking news, and of course, adorable photos of shelter animals.