Cooper: Transformed by Love

All you need is love, love
Love is all you need
– The Beatles

Cooper 13

We can imagine Cooper singing this song but he would have changed the lyrics slightly to “All I need is love, love. Love is all I need.” And after a few rough starts, Cooper’s wish came true…and it transformed him.

Before he was even a year old, Cooper had made three visits to our shelter as a stray. But after his third visit, his family chose to relinquish him. Why? Because he had bitten the father. Why did Cooper bite? Because he was having his face rubbed on the floor in his urine when he soiled in the house.

Because of the circumstances of the bite we chose to make Cooper available for adoption with the recommendation that he be adopted to an adult-only home with people who understood dog training using positive reinforcement.

And on April 8, Cooper scored. And scored big. The updates we’ve received from Cooper’s family show that treating a dog with kindness and training him properly and positively can transform a dog.

We’ll let the photos and stories we’ve received from Cooper’s family tell the rest of the story:

4/15/20: He’s been a very good boy since moving in… he’s showing a little more of his personality – super playful, loving, and affectionate. He is generally a gentleman and occasionally a rough housing rascal, but always listens when it’s time to quit. 🤗 He’s been running 5-6 miles a day with us and getting lots of extra walks and hikes and had a great play date with some of my friends’ dogs at University Lake.

He’s a great running partner – and we’re working on walking nice on leash… I ordered the Weiss Walkie.

He has been so great… he is exactly the adventure buddy I needed after losing my pups of 15+ years… he’s full of energy for activities but is very content to cuddle when it’s time to relax. He loves going on car rides! 

Cooper 1


4/29/20: I wanted to thank you again… it’s been 3 weeks with Cooper today!

He has done so great with meeting new dogs and people and his “mouthiness” and nibbling tendencies are almost nonexistent (we got some appropriate toys for him to chew on and are reinforcing no mouthy play on us – he picks up on things really quickly). He respects dogs that don’t want to play or socialize, and he is learning new tricks! He is doing great on and off leash and he is a very attentive listener. 

5/13/20: Cooper has been so great! He is such a good and smart guy who is so eager to be with us. We are so happy to have him! I think he’s pretty happy to be with us! We’ve been going on hikes, daily runs and walks, and trips to the dog parks.  We all run and hike together on the weekends. We’ve been working on “checking in” when we’re hiking off leash before going up and seeing people or other dogs- and he’s doing great with learning!

We are absolutely in love with him. Our days revolve around “what’s Coop doing today?”… we are slowly trying to build him up to staying at home alone for longer periods of time (we are up to 30 mins!).

 He is a perfect dog!


And now…. Cooper is helping other dogs transform:

5/18/20: I have a really sweet Cooper story I have to share – just highlighting how special he really is! We went camping with a group of friends and their dogs over the weekend. Cooper just absolutely loved it; one couple camping with us has a traumatized rescue dog that does not socialize with people or other dogs, and he runs away if you even try to make eye contact with him. He hangs out in their tent, and then when they let him out he’ll go hide up in the trees and watch everyone. If he gets around other dogs, he’s usually aggressive or runs away; but then he met Cooper! Cooper went up to him to greet, gave him some space right away – and they looked at each other curiously for a bit, and then started to play bow and jump around with each other. Merlin’s owners were in tears, they’d never seen him even try to play with another dog. Eventually Merlin started following Cooper around; and if Cooper went up to see another dog, Merlin would hang back and wait, and then eventually would come up and run and play with the other dogs and Cooper. It was the sweetest thing – and for Merlin’s owners who have had him for 3 years and have never been able to have him interact with other dogs – it was amazing! For some reason, Merlin trusted Cooper and was okay with engaging with other dogs and people if Cooper was there. They were total little buddies by the end of the trip. I am so impressed with how sweet and intuitive he is! 

Cooper says it’s exhausting being such a good dog.


Cooper would appreciate it if you’d take a look at these resources for
positive reinforcement dog training:

Article: What is Positive Reinforcement in Dog Training?

Karen Pryor Clicker Training

Positively Victoria Stillwell

Batman: A Cautionary Tale About Life on the Street

Ever heard the term “mean streets?” Well, Batman is here to tell you that he knows exactly what that means.

Batman’s story as we know it, started in September 2016 when he was brought to us as a stray. When no one claimed him, be became available for adoption, ready for a second chance at a home where he would be loved.


Batman in 2016

Here’s the bio we wrote for him in 2016:

Don’t let his name fool you – Batman isn’t looking for superhero adventures. BUT, he is looking for your love and he promises to be a superhero at loving you back. This striking boy is serene, composed and quietly affectionate. Well, that is until he gets a hold of catnip and then the superhero in him comes out!

Well, whether he wanted them or not, Batman got superhero adventures. But they were scary adventures. Life or death adventures.

As with every animal who leaves with his/her new family, we always hope they have found the perfect home. Sometimes they have. Sometimes they have not. Sadly for Batman, it appears he had not found the perfect home because on April 7, 2020 he came back to us, a stray once again, but this time with the signs all over his body that he had been living on the mean streets.


Batman when he was found  by Good Samaritans.

Here’s what was noted when Batman was examined:

Batman had multiple infected punctures, swollen right eyelid and scratches on his body, likely the result of being in several cat fights. He also had a severe case of ear mites with a secondary ear infection.

Batman spent from April 7th to April 20th being tended by Katelyn, AACC Veterinary Assistant. Always the gentleman, he let her clean his wounds and ears and apply antibiotic ointment.


As his body healed, so did his spirit and we once again saw the Batman we had known and loved – the Batman who just wants to be held, cuddled, and loved. The Batman who’s happy playing with a ball soaked in catnip. The Batman who never wants to live on the streets again.

Batman’s experience is a testament as to why cats should not be allowed to roam. It’s not safe and it’s not legal. We know Batman would have spent these past few years content as an indoor cat, watching the world from a favorite window, perched on top of a cat tree, settling into his person’s lap for a nap, and curling up in his person’s bed at night, safe and sound. This time around, he’s looking for a safe haven.


Zeus: Springs Into His New Life!


On June 3, 2019, Zeus was brought to us by Anchorage Police Department (APD) after they charged his owner with cruelty to animals. According to the police report, witnesses saw a man on a bike hitting a dog (with both open and closed hands), kicking the dog (hard enough to knock the dog’s body around), and yanking on the dog’s leash. These Good Samaritans confronted the man and an altercation ensued during which the frightened dog approached one of the Good Samaritans and attempted to hide behind him. APD responded, arrested the dog’s abuser, and brought the dog, Zeus, to our shelter.

Per Municipal Code Title 17: If an animal has been placed in protective custody due to charges of cruelty against the owner, the animal shall not be released to its owner until a final determination is made pursuant to Chapter 8.55
(Cruelty to Animals).

Not only can the animal not be released to his/her owner, he cannot be released from protective custody. Animals in protective custody live at the shelter, spending most of their time in a kennel, dependent upon shelter staff and volunteers for care and much-needed attention. In Zeus’ case, this included walks and playtime with volunteers, and visits to the veterinary dermatologist when he developed skin allergies. To ease his discomfort, he was placed on a special diet and medications and given medicated baths twice a week for four weeks by kennel technicians.

Until the Case is Resolved

Zeus’ case was resolved on March 5, 2020 when the defendant pled guilty and was ordered to relinquish Zeus to the Municipality of Anchorage.

After living at the shelter for 8 months Zeus is finally able to move on with his life. Because of his allergies and need for continued care, he is going to one of our valued rescue partners who will ensure his adopters will be committed to his medical care. But first, we had a farewell gathering for Zeus to wish him well and let him know that he is loved.

Zeus gathered with the people who cared for him over the last eight months.


Zeus with kennel staff


Zeus with one of his volunteers who brought him a box of farewell gifts including toys, a bed, and new food bowls.


Zeus with more of his volunteers who came to wish him well.

And he partied hard!




And then he climbed into the car of our rescue partner, The Hound Lounge, who will find a new family for him. 


Farewell Zeus! We wish you the best.


The Faces of Protective Custody

Zeus is just one of many animals who have stayed with us under protective custody. You don’t see these animals on our social media pages but just because they aren’t visible doesn’t mean they aren’t valued.

Here are a few of the recent protective custody animals we have cared for:


Braya: 10 months in protective custody. Adopted to her new family on 11/16/17.



Wrangell: 10 months in protective custody. Adopted to his new family on 4/4/19.


Skye: 5 months in protective custody. Adopted to her new family on August 30, 2019.

Still in custody:
An 18-year old cat and a dog: one year in protective custody.
Case is ongoing so the information is confidential.

Spend the Day with Us: Installment One

On January 29, 2020, we debuted the first Spend the Day with us on social media with real-time posts of events at the shelter. And now we’ve compiled all those posts here.

Ready to spend the day with us? Here we go!

Post #1: Good morning Anchorage! We’re posting early today so you can follow along with us throughout our day. The day started at 7:45 am with volunteer, Allegra, picking up our cat, Trixie, to take her to Alaska SPCA to be spayed.

1.29.20_spendthedaywithus_FB and IG_spay neuter volunteer

Post #2: by 8:15 am the Public Relations Coordinator was at MIX 103.1 with our cat Avalanche, for the weekly Pet of the Week show.

1.29.20_spendthedaywithus_FB and IB_Mix 103.1

Post #3: At 9 am, Officer Winn was comforting two frightened cats who were in the night drop kennels.

1.29.20_spendthedaywithus_FB and IG_night drop kennel

Post #4: Wednesday is spay/neuter day when cats and kittens who have been adopted come back for surgery. Here’s  veterinary assistant, Katelyn, prepping one of 11 cats for surgery.

1.29.20_spendtheydaywithus_FB and IG_surgery prep

Post #6: By 11 am, the time we open to the public, kennel technician, Amanda, and kennel supervisor, Sue, had cleaned 31 kennels in the public area and given each of those animals fresh food and water. Now they’ll start cleaning another 69 kennels in the non-public area.

1.29.20_spendthedaywithus_FB and IG_kennel tech

Post #7: Just after we opened, our rescue partner, Alaska SPCA, picked up Sprinkles, a kitten who needs medical attention they can provide at their clinic until he’s ready for adoption at their adoption center. Thank you Alaska SPCA!

1.29.20_spendthedaywithus_FB and IG_rescue

Post #8: We found Dr. Leibold, our contracted veterinarian, sitting with Hazel. Hazel was terrified in the dog runs so kennel supervisor, Sue, set her up in a back office where it’s quieter. Hazel will be picked up by our rescue partner, Kitty and K-9 Connection, where she’ll be placed in a foster home that will be much quieter than our dog runs!

Post #9: Moca enjoyed some one-on-one time with volunteer Marilyn, who was waiting at the front door when we opened. Volunteers will come in throughout the day to spend time with our sheltered animals.

1.29.20_spendthedaywithus_FB and IG_cat volunteer

Post #10: Just two hours after opening, we had our first adoption of the day. Tiny is going home to live with two other parakeets. Lucky Tiny!

1.29.20_spendthedaywithus_FB and IG_firstadoption

Post #11: At 1:15 pm, Officer Graber headed out to pick up two confined stray dogs. Because nearly 80% of the stray dogs brought to us are reunited with their families, we’re hopeful that these two will be home with their families soon.

1.29.20_spendthedaywithus_FB and IG_ACOcall_1

Post #12: AACC Director and veterinarian, Dr. Wilson, examined several dogs today. Animals are examined if staff notes any health concerns or if the animal is considered a senior.

Post #13: After spending the morning cleaning kennels, Sue switched roles and began evaluating cats before making them available for adoption. There are 10 cats waiting for evaluation today which is why Sue often doesn’t take lunch until 4:00 pm!

Post #14: Hazel is leaving the building (see Hazel’s post from earlier today). Our rescue partner, Kitty and K-9 Connection, came in this afternoon to pick her up. Hazel was pampered all the way to the door – she didn’t like the leash so Sue just wrapped her in her blanket (it’s cold out for a little dog!) and carried her. We know Hazel will be in good hands with KK9!

1.29.20_spendthedaywithus_FB and IG_rescue_2

Post #15: Good Samaritans brought stray animals to us throughout the day, hoping to help the animals be reunited with their families. This cat talked to us the whole time!

1.29.20_spendthedaywithus_FB and IG_goodsamaritans

Post #16: After bringing in his third stray dog for the day, Officer Graber takes a moment to give treats to all the dogs.

Post #17: At 4:00 pm sharp, anxious cat and kitten parents were arriving to pick up their feline friends from spay/neuter surgery. Zachary’s dad was the first one here!

1.29.20_spendthedaywithus_FB and IG_surgerypickup

Post #18: Foster mom, Debbie, picks up a kitten who hasn’t been eating well. We know this little one will gets lots of TLC in Debbie’s care.

We’ll end Spend the Day with Us on this hopeful post. Watch for Installment Two of Spend the Day with Us soon!


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?


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.


? – 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.)

Ducky_at sheler

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.”

Ducky_a mess

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?

Ducky with foster kittens_2

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!


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.

stein 3

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.

Stein 1

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!

Stein 8

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. 

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