Tag: animal

Meet Erin O’Brien, TASP’s Berkshire Treasure

Those of you who have been participating in our Fantasy Pet Photo Clinics at Benson’s in Pittsfield already know Erin O’Brien as the ever-smiling, ever-joking ever-competent photog and computer operator who turns even the most incorrigible pet model into an absolute work of art. One Sunday each  month, Erin meets us at Benson’s ready to set up and shoot our fund-raising photos that draw folks from all over Berkshire County.

From our first meeting, Erin understood immediately what it was TASP was trying to accomplish with our mission to keep pets out of the local shelters through pet crisis intervention and mitigation. And by the time we handed her Zippy’s very first Fantasy photo, we were signing Erin up to be a TASP volunteer. Since then, TASP is stronger and so much better off for having Erin on our team.

Erin helps all the pets relax and have fun at photo clinics.

But don’t take our word for it, take it from Erin: “

“I stumbled across a TASP photo clinic at the Pittsfield Benson’s a few years ago and was so impressed with how patient Steve was with my dogs and how friendly the gang working the clinic was, that I volunteered to help out at future events. 

Before you know it I had learned a ton about PhotoShop, how to photograph wiggly dogs, and how to set up and tear down the photo clinic equipment.  But more importantly, I had met some of the best people I’ve ever encountered in the TASP family of volunteers.  You are all so dedicated, talented, and hardworking.  I’m impressed at every event with how much everyone does for animals in their spare time and not-so-spare time…….And of course, I’ve gotten to know some of the cutest, nuttiest, and sweetest animals and their loving pet parents.  The regulars at our events are the best for how supportive they are of TASP and it is obvious how much they love their fur babies.”

The family who dresses together stays together!

Not only is Erin a one-woman photo clinic, able to expertly handle every aspect of our process including setup, animal-handler, photographer, computer operator and admin; she is also an accomplished graphic artist with an absolutely joyful personalty that engages volunteers, pet owners and critters alike! Erin has been a volunteer with the outstanding Berkshire Humane Society for years and is a valuable resource to TASP and local residents who may need help navigating the animal welfare world on her side of the mountain.

Erin hands the first TASP check to Berkshire Humane’s Executive Director, John Perreault

It was Erin who developed the plan for TASP to donate all our Pittsfield pet photo clinic proceeds to Berkshire Humane’s PetSafe program since it so closely parallels our own agenda. Now, our organization can efficiently help Berkshire County residents directly through PetSafe’s multifaceted program to help the pets of people in crisis. Absolute synergy!

Erin’s COVID drive-by birthday celebration for Zippy

A devoted pet mom and animal lover, Erin gives her whole self to her dogs: high-octane Greystone and Zippy the wonderpup. And it’s clear they want nothing more than to be with their Mama, even when she’s not dressed up like one of them. Both dogs are so well trained by Erin they are even welcome at her workplace at Teton Property Management. Friends always look forward to seeing the latest facebook post from her about her dogs’ accomplishments and antics.

Teton Property Management welcomes well-behaved pets belonging to their employees.

TASP’s appreciation for Erin just keeps on growing. Once the COVID nightmare is under control in the Northeast, she’ll be managing our Fantasy Photo Events at local weddings, parties and other shindigs around her area. Stay tuned to our website and facebook page for more news about this expansion of our supporters’ favorite fund raiser that will earn more revenue for local pets in need.

Meantime, keep an eye out for Erin and her incredible smile in the Lenox-Pittsfield area. She’s the person every pet and every human wishes to be around……. and once you meet her, it’s a sure thing you’ll agree.


TASP Fantasy Photo Backgrounds – August, 2020


#1 Sunflowers


#2 Dog Days on the Beach


#3 Seating for Six


#4 Rainbow Fence


#5 Stars & Stripes


#6 Sunset on the Dock


#7 Cherry Blossoms


#8 Psycho Beach Party


#9 Heart in the Sand


#10 Little Friends


#11 Retro Beach Party


#12 Ready-Set-GO!


#13 Pillars & Palms


#14 Saddletramp


#15 Cheap Sunglasses (We add the sunglasses to your pet!)


#16 Posed Among the Peonies


#17 Abstract


#18 Sweet Summer


#19 Painted Beach


#20 Ship Ahoy



TASP Fantasy Photo Backgrounds – June, 2020

Father’s Day, Graduation, Summer Fun and More….


#1 Celebrate Safely With You


#2 Father Knows Best


#3 Father’s Day 2020


#4 Old Glory


#5 Egad!


#6 Greetings From NY


#7 Front End Loader


#8 I Heart Dad


#9 Number 1 Gear-Head


#10 Abstract


#11 Swingin’


#12 Stable Mate


#13 Let’s Put the Top Down


#14 Hog


#15 Staycation


#16 A Walk in the Forest


#17 Up, up and Away!


#18 Rock My World


#19 Let’s Stay Home


#20 Baseball Season


#21 Love You



TASP Fantasy Photos: The Fun Continues ONLINE!

Life just keeps getting stranger and stranger, but one thing can still be counted on: TASP continues to keep the Fantasy Photo Fun flowing indefinitely!  Until we can all get together in person, The Animal Support Project’s Fantasy Photo clinics are being updated monthly ONLINE!  Now you can order your TASP Fantasy Photos ONLINE each month, at your convenience, in the comfort of your own foxhole……and know you’re continuing to help our community’s pets stay safe and healthy while you stay safe and healthy, too!

It’s easy to get a TASP Fantasy Photo emailed directly to your inbox and/or a print mailed to your home.  Just send us an email at taspinfo@yahoo.com that includes the following:

Choose your background(s). CLICK HERE TO SEE THE BACKGROUNDS.

Attach your own photo of your subject(s) taken against a plain background.  If you have multiple subjects and want them to appear in the same photo, just send us a photo of each subject separately and we’ll combine them digitally.  Already been to a TASP photo clinic in the past? We can look up previous photos of your subject(s) from our archives and use them to create this month’s photo.

Let us know how you’d like to receive your photo:

Emailed .jpg photo @ $10 donation

Mailed hard copy print @ $10 donation (Be sure to supply your mailing address).

Or get both for $15 donation!

Lucite® frame for mailed photos optional @ additional $5 (covers cost of frame and mailing)

*Please be sure your email includes a phone number where you can be reached in case we need to contact you.

TASP volunteers will create your special photo and email you an invoice when it’s ready.  Payment can be made through Paypal, or you can just mail TASP a check.  Finished photos will be sent out within 24 hours of payment received.

With so many challenges brought about by COVID-19 and local losses from rioting, more companion animals than ever need TASP’s help to stay safe and healthy.  Bringing our friends and supporters this popular activity ONLINE at this time is our way of continuing to finance our mission, while hopefully creating some much-needed smiles.  As always, all proceeds are spent on supporting our community’s most vulnerable companion animals. Thanks for caring!


TASP Joins ASPCA and Other Partners Caring for Hurricane Sandy’s Displaced Pets


COVID-19 and The Animal Support Project

Right now, many folks are reading this message while still in isolation or quarantine or curfew. You may be wondering how The Animal Support Project will be dealing with the changes in all of our lives brought about by the arrival of the Novel Corona Virus and the Random Acts of Crime occurring here in the Capital region and throughout the state. Like everyone else, TASP faces some challenges ahead. We face a loss of revenue from having to temporarily call off our popular Fantasy Pet Photo fund raisers and our tag sales. Add to this an already-evidenced reduction in donations due to the financial stresses many of our supporters are facing after the State imposed mandatory shutdown of so many businesses in NY and then “vampires” decided to destroy what was left of local businesses. These are realities we can’t get around.

That being said, TASP is morphing to adapt as well as we can to continue offering the most support we can muster with available resources. For now, all personal visits to homes have been postponed. We’ve also had to curtail our activities in the local cities after dark due to curfew and the potential risk to our volunteers.  That means no adoption home visits, no visits inside the homes of ailing pets. This is the way it has to be in order to reduce risk of infection or injury to our volunteers and our community. By coincidence, our list of adoptable pets is very small right now and their continued care at their foster homes is perfectly alright until the situation eases. And just because we can’t enter a pet’s home doesn’t mean we can’t help pets who need us. As long as our budget allows, we will utilize all available technologies like video, photos, messaging and facetime to confirm financial need and explore the situations of individual pets so they can be directed to whatever proper professional care we can afford. We can also use video and photos to demonstrate and instruct on preventive care practices to help our community’s pet guardians do the best they can for their best friends.

Our ability to pay for professional veterinary procedures at this time is very much in flux with funds temporarily dried up, but TASP is actively seeking grants for worthy purposes like veterinary care and continuation of our Paws2Protect program that provides free Seresto flea & tick collars to financially needy dogs and cats. We also have expanded our pet food pantry stocking program to serve TEN food pantries across Albany, Rensselaer, Washington and Bennington counties. The Paws2Protect and Hoss Fund programs continue to serve as long as resources remain available and if one of our already-submitted grants is awarded to TASP, we will introduce yet another great program to our toolkit, The Vintage Club: offering vital veterinary services specifically for senior pets.

We’ve even found a way we can still run our Fantasy Photo EASTER CLINICS completely online, with an option for a mailed hard copy photo. So if you’d like an Easter/Spring theme photo of your best friend, just scroll down and click for the lowdown on how to make it happen. We’ve posted details of this new fund raising scheme with sample backgrounds right here on the TASP website, taking orders online and accepting payment through Paypal or by check. Depending on how the reopening of NY State proceeds, we may be holiding our photo clinics online for a few more months so stay tuned!

COVID-19 is an unprecedented pandemic situation that virtually every American jurisdiction knew would occur someday. Even so, it would have been financial and logistical folly for any nation to stockpile the number of devices and supplies needed for this scale of a disaster for the 102 years since the last great epidemic, the Spanish Influenza of 1918. The incident command system shared by local, state and federal agencies as well as 1st responders, businesses, nonprofits and institutions across our nation is the modular, scalable method for efficiently and accountably answering the challenges ahead that COVID presents. TASP will do our best to add our compassion, skills, experience and elbow grease to this response to prevent the suffering of our community’s animals. It’s what TASP is trained to do and we’re up to the task.

We wish all of you reading this a safe and healthy path forward. Please be kind, be brave, be objective and be smart. We WILL get through this and we will bring our animal companions with us to a wiser, kinder world.


Grrrrrrreat Reads – Not Just For 1st Time Adopters

 

It is exciting to find so many good books about pet adoption on the market. Those of us who live with adopted pets know how much they mean to a family.

 

If you have ever opened your heart to an older pet, here’s a book you’ll want to check out:

 According to William Hageman, Reporter for the Chicago Tribune,  “If you read My Old Dog: Rescued Pets With Remarkable Second Acts (New World Library) and don’t want to run out to a shelter and rescue a senior pet, you have a heart of flint.”  The book, written by Laura T. Coffey and photographed by Lori Fusaro, champions a sometimes-forgotten segment of the animal shelter population.  It contains some truly beautiful photographs of senior dogs and a very nice resource section for folks who make older dogs a part of their life. http://www.myolddogbook.com/

 

 

Perhaps the writer of My Old Dog will follow up with an equally well-built version about senior cats? Let’s hope so. In the meantime, we have an excellent book available now, offering the latest information on Senior Cat Care. Written by Susan Easterly, Your Older Cat – A Complete Guide to Nutrition, Natural Remedies and Veterinary Care is a veritable Bible of good information for anyone whose cat is reaching its sunset years. With easy to follow tables, resource lists and helpful hints, this book will help any reader get a grip on old-cat topics like the aging process, preventive care, natural healing options, chronic diseases and senior cat nutrition. The suggested reading list is most helpful and the photos are just beautiful.

 

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s an excellent book on how to raise a great puppy written by Dr. Sophia Yin. Dr. Yin died a few years back, but she left behind her a tremendous wealth of writings about positive methods in pet training based on the latest research. Being a veterinarian, Dr. Yin also tempers her writings with the physical drivers behind behavior. Illustrated profusely with photos and drawings that are easy to interpret, Perfect Puppy in 7 Days – How to Start Your Puppy Off Right not only can help someone raising a puppy to do it right. It also can help the owner of a young dog understand the reasons behind behaviors they may be seeing in their pet, and how they can best modify those behaviors without ruining the dog.

 

Since we like to be even handed in our reviews, we owe it to the felines and their families to mention an equally interesting and well-designed how-to book about cats by Pam Johnson-Bennett: Think Like A Cat – How To Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat – Not a Sour Puss  From how to choose a new cat or kitten to how to kitten-proof a home to how to help your vet diagnose your cat’s ailments, this book is the one cat owners will turn to again and again over the lifetime of their cat. There’s some exceptional material in here about how to not only train a cat, but how to modify and even eliminate undesirable behaviors your cat may have developed. Personally we might have liked to have seen a few more illustrations in this book to break up the text a bit and help the more visual learners in our midst to get the message; but with so much valuable information in this book, we can forgive the lack of images and appreciate the treasure between its covers.


Legislative Corner – What is Animal Cruelty?

TASP gets our share of calls from folks concerned about this or that animal’s welfare in their neighborhood. Whether it’s a neighbor’s dog tied out in weather extremes, or dairy heifers with hip bones protruding in springtime, it’s commendable that people care enough about animals to seek help on their behalf. Sometimes what they’re seeing is actually not cruelty, according to NY State law, and sometimes it is. In the previous TASP newsletter, we talked about how to make change happen at the federal level. I thought it might be a good idea to take it back a notch and talk about state level matters, especially concerning animal cruelty.

When the topic of animal cruelty comes up, sometimes I lose a friend when I explain what TASP can and can’t do, legally. After all, TASP is not the official Animal Control officer for any jurisdiction. We’re educated in Animal Law so we can recognize it when we see it and share information on the topic with concerned members of the public. We’re glad to communicate what we’ve learned to enlighten others, but we don’t have the authority to remove animals from premises without the permission of the animal’s owner or of law enforcement officials responsible for the location where the suspected cruelty is taking place. We also don’t have the legal authority to demand that law enforcement remove an animal from its owner, even when cruelty is suspected. And we can’t legally represent you to law enforcement and make a formal complaint on your behalf about something you’ve witnessed and we haven’t.  All we can do is what YOU can do if you suspect animal cruelty:

Look carefully at the big and small picture and compare what you see to Article 26 of the NY State Agriculture and Markets Law. Remember, not everything that looks like cruelty is legally cruel under our existing laws. In this state, animals are still considered the property of their owners, just like a car or a ladder. Companion animals have a bit more protection under Article 26, but even at that, the protections are in some cases vaguely worded and up to the interpretation of officers, attorneys and judges.

Not all cruelty or neglect is intentional and not all cases of neglect are considered by law enforcement to be prudent to prosecute, from a resource-availability perspective. An elderly pet owner who isn’t able to trim their pet’s nails or whose dog/cat’s fur is matted isn’t necessarily intending to hurt their pet. On the contrary, they may be distressed, embarrassed and/or ashamed that they aren’t able financially or physically to keep up with the animal’s care. It may be their only companion and so they may be reluctant to let it go. There may be no relatives or neighbors nearby who can/will help them with the tasks, or they may not understand the physical discomfort that long nails or matted fur can cause an animal.  The owner’s arthritis, poor eyesight, lack of resources or the onset of their or their loved one’s illness may also be legitimate reasons for a lapse in a pet’s care. Swooping in to judge/accuse/publicly shame the owner in such cases without knowing the backstory adds to the tragedy instead of helping overcome the issue for the long term. Those are the cases where TASP might be able to help by paying for grooming or vetting for that pet. Or, if the situation is a sinking ship, TASP may even offer to help the owner place the pet in a more secure home so the owner can move on to assisted living. But before you set us on that pet owner, why not drop by with a cup of coffee, a little tray of cookies or some animal-related trinket that shows you care, so you can get acquainted and learn more about why your neighbor’s animal looks the way it does and how we outsiders might be trusted as worthy to help?

I actually had a very nice lady call me once with great concern about abused dairy cattle on a farm near where she lived. It was spring and she said she was seeing the female cattle standing outside with hip bones protruding. She said they looked starved and were all muddy and she was sure they were being horribly neglected. She didn’t stop in to talk with the farmer and she didn’t research on the internet to learn more about how to judge a cow’s body condition score. She just drove past the farm day after day on her way to and from work and with each pass, she got herself more and more worried about these poor cows. When she called me to talk about it, I assured her I would take a look, but that these cows were probably fine, given it was calving season. I gave her a brief rundown in what makes cows look the way they do so she could understand why what she was seeing might be expected at this time of year. And when I drove over to take a peek, my hunch was confirmed; there was no shortage of food available to those cows and they were happily chewing cud when I got there. This lady was a very well meaning person unfamiliar with dairy farming. She was judging the appearance of these cattle against the condition of her pet dog and saw a disturbing contrast. But those familiar with dairy farming will tell you the cow’s physical structure is far different from any dog’s (let’s start with just the number of stomachs for an example) and a heifer’s body condition fluctuates with the time of year and her calving/lactating cycle. As it turns out, these cows were in fine condition; they had just been calving and that takes alot out of the system so the Moms all naturally looked a little droopy around the hip bones at that time.  There was no law broken here.

So here’s a test for you…. a couple of photos of a suffering dog. Is it a case of animal cruelty/criminal neglect?

 

 

 

 

Answer: Not. This dog had a loving owner who spent thousands of dollars in her attempt to overcome her dog’s allergies. She trusted her veterinarian to diagnose and treat this dog, but unfortunately, this particular vet was having difficulty getting a grip on the case. The stack of invoices and reports in this little guy’s vet history attested to a year’s worth of repeated trips to the vet, each time with a new proposed treatment that was supposed to stop the tormenting itch. By this time, the dog had ulcers from too many steroids, an antibiotic-resistant staph infection from too may antibiotics and he was half his normal weight. At the recommendation of her vet, his owner was about to euthanize the 2 year old West Highland Terrier when she reached out to her coworker who reached out to TASP.  We had the dog properly diagnosed and treated by another vet with more experience in helping animals with severe allergies. The dog’s Mom gratefully surrendered him to TASP because she didn’t feel equipped to deal with the care he would need going forward. He’ll always need allergy shots and carefully controlled diet and environment, but here’s a recent photo of Spencer …..he actually needs regular haircuts now!

If we pass judgement just by what we see without digging deeper to obtain more context, we can deceive  ourselves. But let’s say you did your homework. You’ve made unsuccessful attempts to clarify/rectify the situation. Perhaps, in spite of your asking your neighbor to clean up their yard, the smell of feces and/or garbage coming from the person’s back yard where their dog is tied is enough to gag a maggot; so you know Article 26 Section 353b.3.b has been violated. Or worse yet, you’ve witnessed the animal being beaten or otherwise abused (Article 26 Section 353 and/or 353a). In other words, you are convinced that you have a case of unjustifiable cruelty. Here’s what you need to do next:

First, do NOT change the condition of any of the animals on that property. Don’t groom the matted one, don’t trim the nails or make any improvements to the suffering animals. Sound cruel? Wellllll, if you change the condition of any of the suffering animals before they can be witnessed and professionally documented by a vet/officer, you’ve changed the evidence of the crime. Instead, start documenting the cruelty you suspect. In a perfect world, this would entail taking photos or video of the situation. But the important thing you need to know is, you aren’t legally allowed to step onto the property of others of whom you suspect cruelty without their inviting you to do so. This reality may be the factor that determines you aren’t able to gather images of the animal you think is suffering. If that’s the case, write down the dates and times when you witness cruelty occurring and write detailed descriptions of the incident: what kind and how many animals and how are they being abused? What evidence are you seeing? Be specific. Try to match up what you’re seeing with the actual section and subsection of Article 26 that applies. List any other witnesses present and try to be objective in your description. These notes may be reviewed by law enforcement and may eventually be considered evidence in a trial if the case gets that far.

With your evidence in hand, call 911 or visit the local police department and report the suspected cruelty. You need to file an official complaint with the local police, and you may need to insist that they take your complaint, depending on how animal-friendly the officer on duty is. After that, the case will be reviewed and an officer may visit the suspect’s home, or they may send the dog control officer (if it’s a dog that you are concerned about) to see if they see any evidence of a cruelty issue.

Don’t be surprised if the officer/DCO points out to the suspect that they are in violation of one or more sections of Article 26, and offers the suspect an opportunity to correct the situation. This is akin to an officer offering you a warning instead of a citation for speeding in your car…..and based on what the officer learns when visiting the suspect, he or she may feel it makes good sense to give the suspect a chance to get things back under control over a given period of time instead of immediately drawing them into the criminal justice system. Now, some people may say, “How can you equate suspected animal cruelty with my innocent speeding violation?” The answer is, your vehicle weighs ALOT, and when it’s going faster than recommended, the chance of your imposing cruelty on an innocent animal/human who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time is actually quite high. That’s one reason why we have speeding laws. But if an officer looks you in the eye, communicates with you, looks around your vehicle, checks your past record and feels you would change your behavior after a warning, then they’re entitled to make that judgement and give you the opportunity to self-correct. This saves valuable police and court resources for the really heinous cases that absolutely require immediate prosecution: the person who lights the stray cat on fire, the person who beats a pet to death with a shovel, the person who slashes their neighbor’s pet horse in its stall, or the person who blatantly refuses or is unable to heed the warning of an officer who has already given them official warning of their violation.

The New York State Humane Association wrote the  book on investigating animal cruelty. Literally. CLICK HERE to read their indepth procedural layout for animal cruelty investigators. This is the book by which many police departments learn how to investigate Animal Cruelty, so in becoming familiar with this manual, you can help your officers do the best job of bringing an animal abuser to justice with a case that isn’t likely to be thrown out of court.

We’re a nation of laws. They’re certainly not all perfect but they’re part of a system that attempts to provide at least a bare minimum of protection for the vulnerable. The tricky part of all this from the perspective of law enforcement is protecting the rights of animals without violating the rights of humans. As animal lovers, it’s easy for us to confuse our own standards of care for our pets with what is legally required. This is one of the root causes of misunderstandings and polarization among the community. By becoming more educated ourselves about the legal side of animal welfare, we can help law enforcement do a better job and we can also offer our law makers concrete suggestions for new bills that can update and improve laws. And that’s how we can make our community a better place for all species.

 


Keepin’ It Together – Teaming Up To Save Harley

Each time the TASP hotline rings, and each time another email arrives at our inbox, there’s a new challenge to our creativity waiting to be met, to keep one or more animals out of trouble. Case in point: Harley, a sweet 5 year old Pit Bull and her loving family.

A man left a message in my voicemail that his dog had been vomiting, refusing to eat, and suffering with diarrhea since Wednesday. Now all of us who are blessed with good health, a vehicle that runs, and enough money to budget for vet bills would have had the tools needed to solve this dilemma in less than three days. But Harley’s challenge was a perfect storm of unfortunate coincidences. Her Dad was suffering from cancer that had put him on disability. To make matters worse, Dad’s truck had broken down and because he now had limited income, he hadn’t had enough money to get it repaired yet. Dad’s fiancé would have helped, but two weeks earlier she had broken her ankle and was still hobbling, still out of work.

In the midst of all this, the family had run out of dog food and was feeding Harley whatever they could muster from the freezer and the table: chicken and rice, beef ribs, whatever they could gather that would satisfy Harley until they could get back on their feet, get the truck back on the road and get some grocery shopping done. And then Harley’s vomiting and diarrhea began. After the first 36 hours of her illness, Harley’s family grew more concerned for her wellbeing. They knew that she would become dehydrated if she didn’t get some fluids into her system, but each time she drank some water, she’d just throw it back up.

The mountain lake where Harley and her family live is absolute heaven from June till Labor Day, inhabited by vacationers looking for a retreat from the hubbub of life; but from Labor Day till Memorial Day it’s remote and virtually uninhabited except for Harley’s family, a seventy-five year old neighbor with a car less reliable than Harley’s Dad’s truck, and an assortment of bears, squirrels, Canada geese, and other wildlife.

Harley hadn’t seen a vet in awhile, since Dad came down with his illness. Co-pays and gas to get to and from doctors appointments, CT scans, treatments and blood tests ate up what little Dad’s disability check could provide. But it wasn’t like Harley wasn’t loved or that she didn’t love her family. She lived a relatively idyllic life on the lake with them and her presence in the little house brought joy to their otherwise stressful world of medical uncertainly. She was the bright spot in their lives and they adored her.

When I found Dad’s call in my voicemail during my Friday lunch break, I called back right away. Learning the litany of misfortunes that had hit this little family over such a short period of time was kind of like listening to an old Hank Williams song. Yet Dad didn’t make excuses or demands. He only politely asked if there was anything we could do to help him get his dog looked at by a vet who would accept payments over time. He’d already called every vet he could think of, tried applying for Care Credit and other veterinary credit companies and been rejected by all. He told me how he and his fiancé had been feeding ice cubes to Harley in an effort to keep her hydrated and I could hear the worry in his voice as he described her present demeanor. Lethargic. Didn’t want to go out or do anything. No appetite. Wouldn’t even lift her head….certainly not the bubbly, bouncy Pit Bull he’d adopted from the shelter back before cancer changed this family’s world forever. In my head I was considering the possible veterinary conditions we might be dealing with: pancreatitis…….punctured or blocked GI tract………kidney failure…….or euthanasia?

You know, at the time we were on that first phone call, I didn’t have much hope. An hour’s drive west of Albany, this dog was nearly an hour and a half west of where I work.  I was still at my job and couldn’t just pick up and leave. By the time I got out of work, every vet’s office short of the Emergency Hospital would be closed…..and the cost to walk into that facility is currently $130 before work on the animal even begins. I started going down the list of TASP volunteers and where they were located at that point in time. Nobody available on such short notice on a Friday afternoon.  I had already committed to helping three homes in Troy after work on that Friday, each with its own sad, time-sensitive animal situation that needed tending. The following day I was scheduled to haul home-deserving foster dogs to Bark & Brew in Grafton. I found myself calculating in my head how much TASP might be able to spend on Harley at the Emergency Hospital on Saturday night, that is, IF she would survive that long.

Then I think an angel reached down and tapped me on the head because it suddenly occurred to me to contact Mohawk Hudson Humane Society. I personally knew how much they care about all needy animals and I knew they had a good number of volunteers in Albany County. We had nothing to lose by asking if MHHS might have a volunteer available who could drive this failing dog and her owner to a local vet to try and save her. TASP would pay the vet bill. We just needed a transporter, and soon.

I texted. I got a text back in short time. It was KC at Mohawk Humane. The text said, “Hi, Melinda, it’s KC – will try 2 find a volunteer 2 transport the dog for Mr. ……..” And this was where the music should turn from Wagner’s Requiem to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, if you know what I mean. That little text message gave me HOPE! KC found a wonderful man named, “Todd,” who volunteered to transport Harley and her Dad to The Village Animal Clinic in Voohreesville. Danielle at the Clinic said Dr. Cheever agreed to see Harley Saturday morning in spite of their normal policy of only accepting established clients on Saturdays. Todd left for the lake Saturday morning not knowing if Harley could be saved, but he was eager to do what he could to give her and her family a chance.

Flash forward to Saturday morning. Harley and her Dad are helped into The Village Animal Clinic for the eval. The Doc’s examination indicates a case of severe gastroenteritis (possibly from the diverse collection of things Harley had been eating when her dog food ran out?). Harley is treated and sent home same day.  TASP pays the bill over the phone and Todd transports Harley and her VERY relieved and grateful Dad back to the lake. TASP then orders a couple of large bags of dog food to be delivered to Harley’s house by Chewey.com, to keep her eating a dog’s menu instead of a human’s. The update call from Dad the following day was very encouraging. Meds appeared to be working, vomiting had stopped, diarrhea clearing and Harley was starting to become more interested in life again. The joy in Dad’s voice would make anyone think this guy’s on top of the world. Some things in his life may be absolutely awful right now, but he’s not alone in this struggle. He has friends he didn’t even know a few days ago and they helped him save his dog. Life is beautiful!

I spoke with Dad this week and he’s scheduled for surgery in January. Meantime, Harley is healthy and keeping him smiling again. She’ll be receiving a TASP care package in the mail this week with some donated treats and flea preventives to help take that burden off the family’s wallet, and we’re also contributing to the repair of Dad’s truck so he and Harley have reliable transportation during this challenging winter. We’re sending our prayers for a successful surgery for Harley’s Dad and hope you all will as well. After all, he may need his dog, but she needs him, too.

 

 

A few things worth noting about this project:

  • The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society is more than just a shelter now. If you haven’t visited there lately, you should; just so you can see what a state of the art Humane Center looks like. Sheltering is only a part of what MHHS does for their community, as witnessed in this true story. They have a healthier building, better kennels, and first class veterinary equipment. But even more noteworthy, they have programs that help the community do a better job of owning pets. Educational programs for kids. Low cost spay-neuter services. A Pet Food Pantry. Training classes for pet owners and their animals……so many resources offered to help animals and people live in harmony! And speaking of people, I have to say that the people at MHHS are inspirational. With just one text message, TASP found the caring partners we needed to bring a much-loved pet out of a crisis that would have devastated her owners. We could not have brought this happy ending to this family without the help of Mohawk Hudson Humane Society’s people.
  • We got lucky when we chose The Village Animal Clinic for Harley’s emergency visit. Dr. Cheever graciously set her clinic’s policy aside to accept Harley on a Saturday; she didn’t have to do that. My recommendation to all is to find a veterinarian you can trust and afford, and then make it your mission to bring your animal(s) to that vet once each year. Having an established relationship with a veterinary clinic or hospital can get you an appointment ahead of others who do not have a relationship with that vet. It’s just like going to a doctor, eh? If you’re already a patient, you get seen this week. If not, you get an appointment in 3 months. Visiting a vet even when your pet is well isn’t a waste of money. It gets your pet a chance to be checked by a professional for signs of illnesses that could be caught early enough to fix for far less than if left alone to fester. Checking eyes, ears, oral, anal, and general palpation of skeleton and body gives you a good picture of where your pet stands health-wise and it also gives you an opportunity to learn by asking questions of professionals who have a lot of education and experience about animals. Harley’s case was an exception, and we understand there are other folks who also find it impossible to make an annual vet visit due to their own or a family member’s needs taking priority. But while you’re in good health, if you can budget even a tiny bit each month to be set aside for your pet’s preventive care, you might just save its life.
  • Dogs may be omnivores, and they may enjoy table-food as it’s going down the gullet. But the havoc it can render on a dog’s digestive system can be life-threatening and costly. Harley and her family were lucky that the cooked rib bones offered to her hadn’t broken off irregularly and blocked or perforated her intestines. To be sure, this family’s financial situation had caused them to try some creative solutions to feeding Harley that they probably wouldn’t normally have approached. At the same time, the genius they exhibited in offering ice cubes to Harley to get fluids into her dehydrated body was probably the key action that kept her alive. Dehydration is an extremely dangerous condition that can cause organ failure and even death if allowed to go on for too long. An animal can live without food for days but not without water. It’s something to bear in mind anytime your pet has an extended bout of vomiting and/or diarrhea, or any time you pass your pet’s empty water bowl.
  • If you have a decent job, and you know someone in your neighborhood who is struggling financially…..with a health situation or some other challenge that could endanger their pets, why not drop by and ask if they need anything now and then? Just say you’re paying it forward for the good things that have happened in your own life when you really needed help. It takes so little to reach out and offer a hand to those who truly need it and the reward of knowing you changed lives is something you just can’t buy anywhere. TASP does our best to help whenever and wherever we can, but we can’t be everywhere and we’re always operating on a shoestring, financially. You don’t have to work in animal welfare to offer welfare to an animal and its owner.

In Their Words……More Testimonials From Our Consumers and Friends

I just wanted to thank you so much for all you did to help us save Rocky from NYCACC and help him recover from kennel cough without infecting our other dogs. He is a dream and we would not have been able to do it without your knowledge and help! You are an amazing resource for our community! – Lisa

 

Thank you for a wonderful time and your special treatment of our little old man – Barbara

 

You guys are the BEST! Thank You. – Johanna

 

Jack Passed away on July 31st very unexpectedly…….I cannot begin to tell you how precious all of the photos we have had taken are to me now. – Sarah

 

Thank you so much I just called them she has an appointment for tomorrow at 3:15. – Amie

 

I just want to say thank you so much God bless you for helping baby and I just wanted to update you with her how she’s doing and she is now walking again thank God…….I wasn’t able to have children do to my disease and they are my children…….and they are my world I mean that – Chrissy

 

….sometimes he regresses but I’m practicing and practicing and he’s getting better and better thank you again! – Ada

 

After paying rent and utilities I struggle with the other monthly expenses. Thank you so much! – Kathleen