Posts tagged pet adoption

AMONG THE ANIMALS: Seattle Animal Shelter gets upgrades

Artist concept of the Seattle Animal Shelter renovations (photo courtesy of SAS)

Artist concept of the Seattle Animal Shelter renovations (photo courtesy of SAS)

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in the Queen Anne & Magnolia News and City Living Seattle

December 2013

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

Most weekend afternoons are bustling with patrons at the Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS) as families visit in the hopes of adopting a furry family member. But recently, the shelter has been a bit quieter while the building undergoes renovation of its dog kennels, a project that requires most of the animals to reside in foster care for more than a month.

In November, SAS foster families were called upon to take not just dogs but also rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters that were displaced by the renovation. Amazingly and generously, the shelter’s volunteer community rose to the occasion and took nearly every dog and small animal into its collective care.

Guinea pigs at SAS

Guinea pigs at SAS

Although few animals are currently residing in the shelter, fostered animals are brought in during open hours to meet with potential new families. On a recent Saturday, SAS volunteer Rose Torbin introduced me to some guinea pigs that were spending the day in the shelter lobby for an adoption event. Torbin is part of the Critter Team at SAS, and she is also serving as a foster parent to two rats, Lucy and Pixal, during the renovation.

Creating a better environment

It has been about a decade since the dog kennels had been upgraded. Thanks to an $80,000 grant from the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation, $68,000 from the shelter’s Help the Animals Fund and $12,000 of city building funds, a three-phase project is being implemented to upgrade the entire facility.

Cat Condos at SAS

Cat Condos at SAS

As part of phase one, cat condos were purchased for the front corridor of the shelter just last year, and the in-progress kennel upgrades are designed to make the space more dog- and adopter-friendly.

Seattle Animal Shelter director Don Jordan explained that the kennels were once designed for a shelter where dogs did not stay long. But, today, the shelter boasts a 93-percent live-release rate for animals coming into their care. Live-release rates are a measure of how many animals can be successfully returned to their owner or re-homed upon arrival at the shelter, and this includes animals that are too sick or injured and must be euthanized.

The kennel upgrades were designed by SHKS Architects in Seattle, and major work was well underway by mid-November. The chain-link doors on each kennel were removed, and all poles and sound baffling were taken out so the floors and walls could be resurfaced.

Jordan explained that small dogs would often slip past the poles in the kennels; hence, the area was not safe for all dogs in residence. The newly renovated kennels will have glass doors with a visual barrier to calm dogs that are stressed by seeing other dogs nearby. Renovations are expected to be complete by mid-December.

Phase two of the shelter renovations will include upgrades to the facility’s HVAC system. Jordan explained that improving ventilation should help reduce incidences of upper respiratory infections (URI) that commonly inflict dogs and cats residing in shelters or kennels.

“Our goal is to create a healthy and happy environment as a whole,” Jordan said.

Rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and other small critters will be the beneficiaries of phase three of the renovation project. Additionally, upgrades to the shelter’s kitchen and laundry areas are planned.

Donations are needed to help fund phase three, and the shelter will work with the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation for longer-term planning.

Currently, critters are housed in four dog kennels separate from the main kennel room. The space is not ideal for smaller furry friends that are primarily housed in larger rodent cages placed along the walls. Upgrades to this area will include a more enriching space for these special creatures.

Community partnerships

During kennel renovations, the shelter is not taking in animals, but it has provided the public with alternatives for dealing with stray or surrendered animals. If you find a stray, you are asked to hold the animal and check for tags or ask a local veterinary office to scan for a microchip. With this information, list the animal on SAS’s Reuniting Owners with Missing Pets System (ROMPS) online database (

You can also post the found animal on local blogs or put up flyers around the neighborhood to find the owner.

In the event the animal’s owners cannot be located, SAS has partnered with local shelters, including Seattle Humane Society and PAWS, which have offered to take in surrenders during the temporary intake closure.

Jordan said that people have been very understanding when they find they cannot surrender an animal during the renovation.

Once phase one renovations are complete, the shelter will host a reopening event; watch its website for more information.

In the meantime, animals in foster care and cats residing at the shelter are available for adoption. You can visit the Seattle Animal Shelter at 2061 15th Ave. W. in Interbay, and follow the shelter’s progress as it works to make our local animal shelter increasingly comfortable, welcoming and safe for animals and people alike.

To foster, volunteer or adopt at the Seattle Animal Shelter, visit To learn more or donate to the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation,

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane, a news site about humane-conscious lifestyles at She also writes a blog called “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at


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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Dog Yoga: The path to canine inner peace

Doga classes at the Seattle Humane Society

Published in City Living

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

November 9, 2011

By Christie Lagally

Health and wellness for your dog often consists of a few well-defined things. Good food, fresh water, plenty of exercise, proper veterinary care and something really good to chew on tend to be the basic requirements indicated by canine professionals.

But many dog owners know there is another vital component necessary for canine well-being: a strong, safe connection to a pack or family.

That human-canine connection and bonding is what Brenda Bryan was working toward when she developed dog yoga (or Doga) in collaboration with the Seattle Humane Society a few years ago.

Brenda Bryan with her fellow Dogis

As a longtime yoga teacher and licensed massage therapist, Bryan describes this special style of yoga, which she calls “Barking Buddha,” as a “heart-opening practice for human and dog, allowing for time to develop a deep connection with each other.”

A calming effect

Doga is partner yoga with a very special, furry partner. Doga consists of poses such as Woofing Warrior, Pit-to-Paw Standing Twist and Canine Crunches, to name a few that engage both person and dog.

Dogs of all shapes and sizes are welcome, including those you might think would have difficultly staying on the mat for the length of class. Frequently, owners voice concern that their dog is not calm enough to attend a yoga class. Yet, Bryan said that the very practice of Doga often calms these sorts of dogs.

While Doga might be a bit unnerving at first, most dogs come to really enjoy the experience. Even dogs that are less-than-perfect with other dogs can benefit from the class. Bryan allows these “dogis” a little extra space away from other classmates so dog and owner feel comfortable and safe. In fact, many owners report their dog is eager to come to Doga class the next time around.


photo: Seattle Humane Society

Local classes

From Chicago to New York and Santa Barbara, Calif., dog yoga has popped up as a phenomenon in cities across the United States over the last few years. Most recently, a studio in the Sheung Wan district of Hong Kong began offering Doga, so it is not just in the United States where people are looking for a new way to connect with their canine friends. Many Doga practitioners remind us that dogs have been doing a kind of yoga, specifically Downward Dog pose, for eons and many of the Doga poses come naturally to dogs.

Even yoga-mat companies have become hip to the trend by offering yoga mats with dog (and cat) paw prints, but, of course, the mats are good for any yoga class.

As Seattleites, we are lucky to have Doga classes close by. Bryan teaches Doga at the Seattle Humane Society once a month ( Spokesperson Joyce Zoldak said that the Seattle Humane Society began offering the Doga classes because they felt it would be a fun and relaxing activity that is good for owners as well as their dogs.

“The dogs love it just as much as the owners,” Zoldak said of the positive feedback she gets from the human Doga attendees.

Seattle Humane Society Doga classes are open to the public. Bryan said that dogs recently adopted may particularly benefit from Doga as they learn to bond with their new caretakers.

Doga classes are also offered at the Ginomai Community Center in West Seattle on alternating Saturdays. See the Barking Buddha blog at for more information.

In addition, a book or video about Doga can help you get started at home. Bryan’s book, “Barking Buddha: Simple Soul Stretches for Yogi and Dogi,” is available through Amazon or at the Seattle Public Library.

Because of the recent popularity of Doga, videos can be found on-line, as well.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a freelance pet columnist who manages the website “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at

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Hansel and Gretel @

Click here for original Richmond News article.

Not everyone is ready to adopt a pet. It takes a commitment to care for an animal for the rest of his or her life.

For students or people who may move or expect other big life changes, it’s not the best time to make that commitment. Nevertheless, for those who love animals, the draw to care for them is still there. So here is an excellent opportunity for the public to foster pregnant or nursing cats and kittens a few months before the sweet, furry babies and mothers are adopted to new homes.

The Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) is a registered charity that rescues pregnant cats and orphaned kittens from much of the Metro Vancouver area.

But this year, their rescue is packed full with more than 300 cats or kittens waiting for a temporary home prior to being adopted. This is where you may be able to help.

VOKRA is looking for people to foster either a pregnant or nursing, mother cat, with groups of two or three kittens that need some care and socialization prior to adoption or an adult cat waiting for the right home.

VOKRA does not operate a shelter. They depend entirely on volunteer foster parents to share their home with some cats needing temporary shelter. VOKRA provides you with the food, litter and medical care for the cats and kittens, and just asks that you be able to pick up the felines to take them to your home if you can. If you foster a mother-cat-to-be, you will be provided with a handbook on signs to watch for when the little kittens are on their way into the world and how to care for the mother and new kittens.

VOKRA is looking for foster homes that are quiet and preferably have no other animals in the house or where the animals live in a different part of the home.

For a mother cat, the best place to keep her is in a spare bathroom where she can be safe and secure, and the room can be easily cleaned.

All cats and kittens should be kept someplace where they can’t escape out of fear or confusion from their new surroundings.

It’s important that all the members of the household agree to foster the felines, but one adult should be in charge of the operation and liaise with VOKRA.

Richmond resident Maria Law decided fostering with VOKRA might work for her, and she started by fostering two young kittens of just six weeks of age.

One black and white and one gray and white, Law named her new charges Hansel and Gretel. Both kittens have cute little dots on their noses. Law says it only takes about a half-hour a day to feed the kittens and clean their litter box, and the rest of the time she spends with them is playtime. Law also says it’s important to train the kittens not to bite your ankles and scratch you, and this training helps them to become wonderful adult cats.

Law has had the kittens for four weeks now, and it’s time for them to be adopted. Law sent in pictures of the kittens for the VOKRA website and wrote biographies about the personalities of the little fur balls.

I asked Law if it would be difficult to say goodbye when the kittens are adopted.

“Well,” she said, “it’s kind of like seeing you kids off when they get married. You’re so happy to see the kittens go to good homes.”

So do you think you could be a good foster parent or grandparent?

Check out the VOKRA website for more information and an application. Hansel and Gretel are up on the website too, along with all the kittens for adoption.

Moreover, VOKRA has wonderful adult cats for adoption who often get over-looked amongst all the kittens.

But these adult cats make wonderful companions.

Check out their photos and biographies as well on the VOKRA website.

Christie Lagally is a volunteer pet columnist. View her blog at
© Copyright (c) Richmond News

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Animal adoptions deserve a dance!

So they dance for the dog adoption at the Nevada Humane Society.  A specific thanks to Helen for sending this my way.  I cried.  Check out this video.

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