This season is what most know as spring/ early summer but it is known to us at the Swift Current SPCA as “kitten season”. It’s the time of the year we get calls upon calls of people wanting us to take in pregnant or nursing Moms and their litters of kittens. The more common call, however, is for “abandoned kittens.” I put quotes around it because more often than not the kittens aren’t really abandoned.
Unlike human children, who are rarely without a parent in sight, kittens can be left alone for hours at a time and Mom usually isn’t far off. In fact, Mom may even be watching you. People often don’t realize this and tend to automatically assume that Mom has left the litter to starve. They then decide to take things into their own hands and “help” which isn’t always in the best interest of the kittens.
So how do we tell if the kittens are in fact truly abandoned or orphaned?
- Unless the kittens are in immediate danger, don’t move them. Mom may just be out getting a bite to eat, or taking a break. If you have to move them, make sure it is nearby where Mom can see or hear them calling for her.
- Keep an eye on the nest from a distance for about 12 hours to determine if they’re truly abandoned. Depending on how old the kittens are, Moms can stay away for hours at a time. It can be hard to tell if Mom slips in and out when you aren’t looking. A way to help tell if the Mom has returned is to sprinkle flour around the area. If Mom comes back she will leave paw prints in the powder.
- Don’t be alarmed if some of the kittens go missing. This is probably a good sign. Active Moms will move their kittens from place to place if they feel they are in danger.
- If hours pass and the babies are dirty, fussy and loud, it is safe to consider them abandoned. It’s important to remember to wait an appropriate amount of time and to stay calm. A lot of people panic and want to scoop the kittens up and care for them right away. However, caring for kittens, especially young ones that don’t eat solid food, is a lot of work that most people aren’t prepared to take on. It is more dangerous for kittens growing up without a Mom. Fading Kitten Syndrome is a common occurrence in bottle babies and is a life threatening emergency in which a kitten, sometimes one that was previous healthy, crashes and begins to fade away. If not dealt with immediately, it can quickly result in death. Most often, this is caused by two things: Hypothermia (being too cold) and/or Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) These two things can happen quickly in small kittens and often go unnoticed until too late. Whenever possible, keep Mom in the picture.
If you truly do have abandoned or orphaned kittens,
- Please keep in mind that kitten season is a very busy time of year. Rescues exhaust their resources very quickly and you may be declined. Fosters for bottle babies are always in short supply because they are a lot of work.
- If you are able to foster the litter, The Swift Current SPCA has a waiting list that you can be put on to get help for your kittens when someone becomes available.
If we in fact aren’t able to help you by taking in your litter we do have lots of helpful tricks and tips that we would be more than willing to share with you on caring for the kittens.
So this kitten season, please be patient and do what you can to help appropriately. While it’s hard to resist a pile of adorable, cuddly kittens, letting Mom handle their care is sometimes the best option.
Melissa Topham, RVT
Swift Current SPCA
You may have heard recently in the news that Calgary Humane Society had to close its doors for a period of time due to an outbreak of Canine Parvovirus or “Parvo” for short. Now you may be wondering what is this “parvo” and why is it such a big deal to have caused a closure of a humane society?
Canine parvovirus is a dangerous and extraordinarily contagious virus that spreads easily between unvaccinated dogs. If not caught early and treated aggressively parvovirus infection can be lethal. Parvo is a virus that can cause severe inflammation of the intestines in canines. The virus infects cells of the intestine leading to structural changes that prevent dogs from properly absorbing nutrients.
What are the symptoms of Parvo?
Severe vomiting and diarrhea (often bloody) and lack of appetite are common symptoms of canine parvovirus infection. Affected dogs usually develop signs of extreme lethargy (lack of energy), depression and dehydration with fever. Leukopenia (low white blood cells) can often be seen on blood work. In severe cases death can occur rapidly. Symptoms of canine parvovirus will typically develop after an incubation period of 3-10 days in infected dogs. Dog with suspected canine parvovirus exposure should be carefully monitored for symptoms.
Is my dog in danger of Parvovirus?
The long and the short of it, yes. All dogs even vaccinated dogs can run the risk of being infected with the Parvovirus. However the higher risk group of dogs are the unvaccinated, the immune compromised and the young. Puppies who have not completed their full vaccine series and are newly vaccinated (vaccinated less than 10-14 days prior to exposure) may still be at risk of infection.
So you may still be asking why did they close the shelter down?
As an organization SPCA’s and Humane Societies take in the most vulnerable animals, often with no information on their history or previous care. They closed the shelter in order to best protect the public and their animals.This closure was mainly a precautionary measure as SPCA’s and Humane Societies take the health of their animals and the health of the public very seriously.
Here at Swift Current SPCA there is always a risk of having this happen, but we do our best to minimize this risk by daily deep cleaning, as well as minimizing contact between dogs, as well as humans and unvaccinated dogs. As much as we would love to let you cuddle our litter of puppies we have here, humans can act as something called a “fomite” meaning they can bring the virus in on their clothes or shoes. Even if your dogs are vaccinated at home we can’t take the risk of it being picked up on your shoes outside before coming into the shelter. So please know we want you to cuddle them as much as you want to cuddle them, but for their best interest any cuddling will have to be done with your eyes!
Melissa Topham RVT
Swift Current SPCA is proud to call themselves a no-kill shelter, but what does that really mean? This means one simple thing: every single healthy and adoptable animal is able to stay with us until they are adopted, we do not do “convenience euthanasias” just to make space. However if a shelter is a “no-kill” shelter, then they must unfortunately turn animals away sometimes. The animals typically turned away from “no-kill” rescues are animals that are too sick or injured to be treated or too dangerous to safely be rehabilitated and placed in a home.The downside to this choice is that it means there are times we have limited capacity to take in new pets; we are a small shelter and as much as we would like to be able to help every animal, sometimes we can’t Does this mean there are sometimes difficult decisions to be made? Yes.But thanks to the generosity of our incredible community of supporters, these decisions must be made only in the most extreme of cases. If you have more questions about our policies here at the shelter please do not hesitate to contact us.
Melissa Topham RVT
Spring is the busiest time of the year for our shelter staff and each day, the Swift Current SPCA receives frantic calls from pet owners who have lost their beloved companion. While our team works very hard to ensure every lost pet turned into our shelter makes their way home safely, there are many steps that pet owners can take to ensure their pet returns to their family.
This first advice is, by far, the hardest. As scary as it is to discover your pet is missing, the most important thing you can do is remain calm. Replace your panic with a new mantra:
STOP. THINK. PLAN.
Stop and take a few deep breaths. Examine the situation and think about what may have happened (when was the last time you saw your pet, how long ago was that, where is your pet inclined to go etc.). Once you have some ideas, start making a plan. If your pet has been gone for a very short time, it may make sense to go looking and calling for them. If they’ve been missing for a while, here are a number of steps you can take to bring Fido or Fluffy home safe and sound:
- Start making lost reports. When you call, provide as much information as you can about where and when your pet was lost and provide a good description of your pet.
- Check with local vet clinics as well as your local shelters.
- Put your pet things outside to entice your pet home. Place their litter-box and a bed they use regularly outside.
- Arrange a search party and go look for your pet
- Create lost posters with your pets picture and your contact info on it.
- Above all don’t lose hope!
Melissa Topham RVT
Shelter Operations Manager
The Swift Current SPCA’s role regarding stray animals is limited legally during the short impound period that the animal is housed here. We do not have the legal authority to conduct animal welfare investigations; that is the role of the Sask SPCA/APSS. In situations where the SPCA feels that further action is required by another agency, based on the facts available to us, then appropriate action will be taken. However, the general population will not be aware of this because we will never publicize that type of action via social media.
We are required to:
– house and feed the animals in a safe place for a set period of impoundment time while the owner is sought
– advertise the presence of the animals to try to locate the owners
– determine proof of ownership when owners come forward
– collect the appropriate pound and licensing fees set by the City of Swift Current from the owner (and turning these fees over to the City)
– advise and caution the owners on any care concerns we feel might be evident
After the impound period is up and if no owners come forward, the animal becomes the property and responsibility of the Swift Current SPCA. At this point we would provide all the further care services (grooming, vaccinations, etc) we do for other pets in our care.
The Swift Current SPCA has several kennels dedicated to housing dogs and three cages for cats brought in by City animal control officers. Pound fees for the first 72 hours of the dog’s stay goes to the City. If any necessary medical treatments are undertaken with the pets while in our custody, the reclaiming owner will also be responsible for these costs. Wild, vicious, aggressive or otherwise un-adoptable animals may be brought to the Shelter by City animal control officers to await reclaiming by their owners, however the Shelter is unable to accept these animals for future adoption.
Members of the general public may bring in pets they believe to be strays or homeless animals. If you have an animal you may want to bring in, the first step should be a call to the shelter to discuss the situation. The shelter staff will discuss current capacity with you and our ability to accept the animal, as well as any concerns around catching and transporting the animal and other related considerations. Those wishing to bring in animals are responsible for catching and safely transporting the animals. The Swift Current SPCA’s mandate does not include trapping cats or catching stray dogs. (The latter service is done by the City). When you call with a potential stray or homeless animal, the staff will ask what you know about the pet’s health and behaviour. The shelter reserves the right to refuse entry to pets deemed feral (untamed) and animals with behavioral issues which might impact staff safety or the suitability of the animal for future adoption. We strongly advise that you discuss your stray situation with the shelter before catching the animal as we may be at capacity.
The shelter generally charges a surrender fee per pet to help offset some of the costs associated with the care of the animal; this may be waived where the pet is a stray, however we may ask for a donation to support the pet depending on the circumstances. If it is later determined that an owner has falsely surrendered their own pets as strays, the owner will be held liable for all associated costs.
If you have further questions regarding the SPCA’s role in impoundment and animal cruelty cases, please feel free to give us a call.
Melissa Topham RVT
Spring has sprung!! The birds are chirping, the grass is turning green, animals are awaking from their long winters slumber, and ticks are hungry!! Ticks are common parasites that can be found anywhere, like that big hike you went on in the treed area or that little time you spent sunning yourself in your back yard. Each year, thousands of dogs become infected with serious diseases transmitted by a number of different ticks. These diseases include but aren’t limited to erlichiosis, Lyme disease, and anaplasmosis.
Diseases caused by ticks are generally known as vector-borne diseases. The risks they pose to your dog can be minimized with preventative measures such as tick control ,purchased from your veterinarian as well as regular physical exams of your pet by a licensed veterinarian. This is especially important, as symptoms of vector-borne disease are often vague and difficult to recognize.
If you have questions regarding tick prevention one of our veterinary technicians here at the shelter would be happy to help you and guide you in the proper direction as to what is suitable for your pet!