A Goodbye to Mellifluous

Keep some sorrow in your hearts and minds
For the things that die before their time.
– Counting Crows “Mercury”

What will today bring? That’s what we ask ourselves every morning.

Thursday, December 19th, started with a man walking past our windows in the morning darkness, before the shelter was open. In his hands was a cardboard box. We went outside to offer assistance and he told us he had found an injured cat the previous night. He said the cat couldn’t stand up or walk.

Officer Winn brought the cat inside, settled her into a warm kennel and checked for a microchip. Good news – she had a chip. She ran the number in our database and found out that this was one of our own…she had come to us a stray in August and we had named her Mellifluous. She was adopted on August 21. What had happened to this sweet girl?

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Mellifluous in her kennel on 12/19/19

Officer Winn contacted the adopter who said they had left her with a relative who had made her an outdoor cat. What!? Mellifluous was declawed prior to coming to the shelter and now we learn that she had been put outside, unable to defend herself. Officer Winn asked the adopter if they would like to claim their cat. They did not. She then asked if they would like to relinquish her to us. They chose to relinquish her to us.

We brought her canned food which she tried hard to eat but she struggled – biting the paper food bowl and chewing on the towel when food dropped on it. After managing to take some big gulps, she settled on her bedding to rest.

As soon as Dr. Wilson, AACC Director and veterinarian arrived, she examined Mellifluous. She suspected that she could not see because she had no “menace reflex” when she put her fingers near her eyes and had no pupil response. She was also unable to use her rear legs.  Based on these symptoms, Dr. Wilson knew further diagnostics were required, such as x-rays, to see if there was injury to the spinal cord.

Because we are not equipped to provide this level of diagnostics at the shelter, we contacted one of our rescue partners, Kitty and K-9.  They responded almost instantly – picking her up from us to take her to their veterinary clinic.

But here the mystery deepened. The examining veterinarian found that she had no broken bones but there was “central nervous system involvement.”  Mellifluous received supportive care and then went to a Kitty and K-9 foster home.

We hate to see any animal experience trauma but it is always harder when the animal had been one of our own – we had cared for Mellifluous and were happy when she found a home. And we always discourage adopters from letting their cats go outside. We warn them of the dangers, (cars, predators, ingesting toxic substances, etc…) and remind them that it is illegal in the Municipality of Anchorage to allow cats to roam. And it seems that those dangers had caught up with Mellifluous…what had happened to her outside? We wish we knew.

We also wish Mellifluous’ story had a happy ending but it doesn’t. She passed away at 10:30 pm on 12/19.

We are so grateful to the Good Samaritan who had the compassion to pick up an injured cat, shelter her in his home overnight and then bring her to us. We are also grateful to Kitty and K-9 for taking her under their wing and to the veterinarians for their care. In the last 48 hours of her life, Mellifluous knew love.

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Mellifluous
? – 12/19/19

Ducky: A Cat with Broken Wings

“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.”
― Langston Hughes

He may be a cat, but Ducky knew what it felt like to be that “broken-winged bird because he was nearly physically and emotionally broken back in November 2017 when Animal Control Officer Jonsen picked him up as a stray.

In his kennel at the shelter, he hissed and tried to dart out. But our kennel supervisor, Sue, was able to get him inside a hiding den and bring him to her office where she discovered that, despite being an adult cat, he weighed just 3 lbs. 4 oz. She noted that she could feel all his bones and he was covered in a black, oily substance (her hands were turning black just from handling him.)

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Ducky: only 3 lbs. 4 oz. when he arrived at AACC.

We knew this boy needed more than what we could provide in a shelter environment so we contacted Kitty and K-9 Connection, one of our rescue partners, and asked if they had room for him. The answer was “yes!” The newly-named Ducky was transferred to KK-9 and placed under the care of Amber. Little did Amber know just how long Ducky would be with her.

Two years. That’s now long. Here’s what Amber tells us about those two years, “He is very slowly started to come out of his shell. He still has many behaviors that show his previous traumas (hissing if approached to quickly, doesn’t like to be picked up and hides if startled). However, 99% of the time he is an amazing boy.”

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Ducky: when he first entered foster care with Kitty and K-9 Connection

Ducky earned his keep during that two years – by helping his foster mom care for the many foster kittens she took in. Who knows, maybe nurturing others was helping Ducky to heal himself?

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Ducky: watching over his flock of foster kittens.

Amber tells us that during this time, “He has had several people show interest over the years but no one gave him the opportunity.” But now, after two years we got this news from Amber, “ I am over the moon to say, Ducky goes to his furever home tomorrow. A wonderful couple has decided that Ducky is worth the time and effort needed to become their furever kitty.”

Thank you to his foster mom for holding fast to the dream that there was a home for Ducky!

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P.S. Our rescue partners have accepted 305 animals, including cats, dogs, birds, and small animals from us as of 12/12/19. They are our partners in life-saving!

Home for the Holidays: Stein’s Journey

Stein’s journey from Alaska to Ohio began, sadly, with the passing of his owner. With no family in Alaska to take him in, Stein was brought to Anchorage Animal Care and Control. Little did he know, that family in Ohio were working on his behalf…working to bring him home.

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Stein: wondering what happens next in his life.

It started with a phone call: A friend of Stein’s family called a friend of her’s, Robyn, who lives in Anchorage with this request, “Can you help my friends? Their aunt passed away and they’d like to get her dog to Ohio but, first, they need someone in Anchorage to take him in.” Robyn, even though she didn’t know the family, didn’t hesitate. She contacted us and we told her we just needed the family’s permission to release Stein to her. Within 24 hours of the plea for help, Stein was meeting Robyn and her daughter and headed to their home.

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Stein: excited to meet his temporary family. 

Stein wasted no time getting comfy in his temporary home. He fit right in with the resident dogs – sleeping on the couch and enjoying a spa day together. He stole the hearts of his temporary family who said his only bad habit was nipping at their ankles when they would leave the house.

On Saturday, November 30th, Stein made his journey to Ohio. He really felt he should have flown first class so made his displeasure known at having to fly cargo!

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Someone really wanted to fly first class.

While Robyn and her family waited anxiously in Alaska to hear that he had made it safely, his new family in Ohio waited anxiously for his arrival.

Stein made it safely to Ohio, where he was welcomed by family – just in time to be settled into his new home for the holidays. When we talked with Stein’s family, they expressed enormous gratitude to Robyn, who had helped them even though they had never even met. They told us that Stein was the love of their aunt’s life and they knew she’d be happy that Stein had been in good hands and would spend the rest of his life with family who loved him.

P.S. We love this story because of all the people who helped this one little dog, who passed through our shelter for a brief time, on his journey home. We’re glad we could shelter him when he needed us and thankful to Robyn and her family and Stein’s family in Ohio. 

Willa: A Story of Hope

“Where there is great love, there are always miracles.” 
― Willa Cather

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We think our feline Willa would understand this quote. Because she received great love and she experienced a miracle – the miracle of a new home.

She came to us in a live trap, with a tender spot on her face from pushing against the trap to get out. She spent her stray hold days in her hiding box in her kennel. It was hard to know who she really was. Would she show us?

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Her stray hold period came and went and she remained unclaimed. A cat behavior evaluator approached her kennel and was happy to see her rub her head against her hiding box, that universal feline signal of “I’m friendly.”

In the evaluating room, she explored and approached the evaluator – rubbing against her and happily accepting attention. But when left alone, she hid. Maybe she just felt vulnerable when she was alone (don’t we all, sometimes?). So now we knew a little more about her – shy but she likes people.

Before being made available for adoption, she needed a name. “Favorite Authors” was the current cat-naming theme so the evaluator picked her own favorite author: Willa Cather.

We picked a kennel for Willa where we hoped she’d feel comfortable. And then we discovered something else about her – it wasn’t just people who made her feel safe, it was also other cats.

 

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We would find Willa on top of her Kuranda bed, under the blanket hung between the kennels to give privacy to the cats on either side. But instead, she and the other cat seemed to be communing with each other. Her neighbor would reach his paws out to her and she would stay huddled close to him. But then he was adopted.

Feeling badly for Willa when she lost her friend, we placed another cat-friendly cat in the now-empty kennel next to her’s. And the scene replayed itself – the other cat and Willa staying near each other. But then, yes, he too was adopted. And Willa remained – hiding under her blanket.

Because Willa wouldn’t show herself off, we showed her off – we posted her on social media. We put enticing pictures of her on her kennel so people would know there really was a cat in there. But still she was passed by.

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And then the staff member who evaluated her was talking to a woman and her mother who were looking for a cat to keep the mother company. The staff member thought this home would be perfect for Willa – quiet and peaceful. So she took the mother to Willa’s kennel and the woman looked around, “Where is the cat?” Just then, Willa walked out from behind her blanket and crawled into the woman’s lap. And stayed there.

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And so, Willa’s miracle happened: she found her new home. We wish her happiness.

Love Reign O’er Me

Love, reign o’er me
Love, reign o’er me, rain on me, rain on me
– The Who

This classic rock song from 1972 came to our minds instantly when we were told the inspiration for this pup’s name: “I found him in the rain and now he reigns over my heart.”

His story, or what we know of it, begins on September 6th when he was spotted, tied to a tree. B. (his new owner) saw him but with a car behind her was unable to stop. She drove quickly to find the closest turnaround to get back to him. She told us that he looked so sad – his back turned to everyone, wet from lying in the rain.

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Photo taken by a bike rider who stopped to help.

She brought him home, dried him off, wrapped him in a blanket and fed him. And then in the morning, she brought him to us in case there was a family looking for him. But she knew she’d be back for him.

While she waited, calling us every day to check on him, he waited too…but he didn’t know what was going to happen. He didn’t know that the person who saved him was going to come back for him.

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Soon-to-be-named Reign, waiting patiently.

So when he saw her again, he could barely contain his excitement!

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And she told him his new name: Reign. And we think he will reign over her heart for a long time to come.

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P.S. Most of the stray animals at AACC are brought to us by Good Samaritans like Reign’s new mom. Bringing a found animal to Anchorage Animal Care and Control gives that animal the best chance of being reunited with his/her family. Finders are always welcome to let us know if they would like to adopt the animal and are encouraged to call us every day during the stray-hold period to check on the animal’s status. Per Municipal Code Title 17, animals without identification are held for three days, not including the day they came in; animals with identification are held for five days, not including the day they came in. After that time period, they will be evaluated for adoption.

Open-Admission Animal Shelter or Ellis Island?

Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

– Poet Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus,”

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Yes, that’s the quote inscribed beneath the Statue of Liberty in 1903. What does it have to do with us? Because an open-admission shelter is like Ellis Island: through our doors pass the homeless animals of the Municipality, either because they are lost or can no longer be cared for by their families. Also through our doors pass the animals from cruelty investigations and those whose owners are hospitalized or incarcerated. All are welcome. All are provided shelter.

And yet. And yet. We are still fighting the perception in our community that passing through our doors means the worst for an animal. Let’s look at a recent example: on Friday, July 12, we reduced the adoption fee on the cats available for adoption. We just wanted them to find homes. Some had been here since May. And cats were waiting in the back of the building for empty kennels in the front so they could be made available for adoption. In our naivete, we thought our community understood our intentions.

But today we were asked, “Are those cats on sale because they’ll be euthanized soon?”

Now, we’re glad this person asked. We’re glad she didn’t leave with the wrong impression. But it made us realize that something as simple as trying to reduce adoption fees can make our community think we have the worst in mind for those animals.

And what about those cats she was asking about? 27 cats were available for adoption on Friday. Of those 27, 19 were brought to us as strays. They remain unclaimed by their families. So it is up to us to find them new homes, even though they have a home but they can’t get back there on their own.

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And for nearly every cat adopted since Friday, another has passed through our doors, needing shelter. And we have provided it.

So that’s why we sometimes feel like Ellis Island. We take in all who are brought to us. We can only hope our community appreciates our open doors and the efforts we make for the vulnerable animals placed in our care.

 

Kindness Matters….Just Ask This Snake

What would you do if you found a snake in your garden? Scream? Leave him there? Help him?

That’s the decision this Good Samaritan had to make when she saw a snake in her garden. Even though she’s a bit squeamish about snakes, her feelings about animals are expressed perfectly in this quote by actress Joanna Lumley, ““My mother early on taught us to respect all animals, and I mean all animals – not just cats and dogs but rats and snakes and spiders and fish and wildlife, so I really grew up believing they are just like us and just as deserving of consideration.”

Plus, she knew snakes can’t survive in Alaska so to turn her back and leave him in her garden was not acceptable.  So she summoned her courage, picked up the snake, placed him in a pillow case and brought it to Anchorage Animal Care and Control. After Officer Jonsen took the snake out of the pillow case, we couldn’t even convince her to hold him/her again for the picture! But she kindly agreed to stand next to Officer Jonsen and the snake.

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It turns out that this snake had not always been at the receiving end of human kindness, in fact, someone had tied his tail in a knot. “So what’s so special about a snake’s tail? Well, because snakes are limbless, their tails fill many of the roles that limbs play in other animals. For instance, the tail is used to grasp onto things, in defense against predators, and as a communication device.” (Strike, Rattle, & Roll blog).

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So we turned to our go-to veterinarian for all-things reptile, Dr. Nicholson, at College Village Animal Clinic. Dr. Nicholson had to amputate the snake’s tail and is caring for the snake during his recovery. If his recovery goes well, this snake will come back to AACC to find a home where. We hope this snake only knows kindness and compassion for the rest of his life. Because all animals,  yes, even snakes, deserve kindness.

MrSnake Post (2)Anchorage Animal Care and Control and Mr. Snake say “thank you” to the Good Samaritan who rescued him and to Dr. Nicholson at College Village Animal Clinic for caring him.


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