Posts tagged Seattle Animal Shelter

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 (web1.seattle.gov/dea/romps).

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 www.seattle.gov/animalshelter. To learn more or donate to the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation, visitwww.seattleanimalshelterfoundation.org.

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

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Foster care: ‘A shelter without walls’

mo-001

Mo, a foster cat from PAWS

Sept. 19th, 2013

Originally published in City Living Seattle and the Queen Anne News

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

My husband, Eric, and I had presided over a two-dog, one-cat household for a long time before one of our dogs passed away in May. We were not ready to commit to another dog. Instead, we decided to foster cats and dogs from a local rescue group and help out one animal at a time.

We signed up with the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) since its shelter is close to our North Seattle home. There are also foster programs through the Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS) and numerous private rescue groups. Smaller rescue groups also depend on foster families to care for homeless pets because they do not have a brick-and-mortar shelter.

Eric and I acquired the requisite training to volunteer and to learn how to engage with the foster-care system. We learned about pickups, drop-offs, vet appointments and how to encourage good behavior in the home so our foster animal will be adopted.

I was ecstatic when PAWS’ foster-care coordinator Rebecca Oertel called to say she had a dog needing care for two weeks. By the end of the day, our confident yet tiny foster dog, Mariah (a Chihuahua mix), was firmly established in our home and was spending her Friday night in a rambunctious play session with our dog, Toby.

Toby loved every minute of his new playmate’s company. They chased and played tug of war (with both sanctioned and unsanctioned socks). At times, my cat Buca would sit high on the counter and watch Mariah bounce around the living room like a ball in a tennis match.

Toby and Mariah

Toby and Mariah

As a puppy, Mariah needed guidance on house training, but she quickly absorbed new commands like “sit” and “stay.” She was a joy to have in our home.

When I got a voice mail that a family was keen on adopting Mariah, I was overjoyed, yet I braced myself to miss her petite and energetic spirit. Toby, Eric and I took Mariah back to the shelter together, and the abundance of kisses and hugs were natural at such a moment to say goodbye.

New foster family members

That day, Oertel introduced us to Mo, a 20-pound Maine Coon-mix cat with a positive outlook and polite disposition. In our extra bedroom, Mo hunkered down in the closet. But within a day, he found the lounge chair and amply filled it as if the space between the arms was destined for a giant, long-haired, white cat.

Mo was a perfect gentleman toward dogs, cats and people. He even graciously notified me when it was time for his litter box to be cleaned, and he kept himself and his surroundings in order. Indeed, he was a perfect houseguest, complete with good “meow” conversations in nearly comical tones.

We found it exceptionally difficult to take Mo back to the shelter so that he could meet some potential adopters. Mo awaits adoption at PAWS Cat City in Seattle’s University District.

Our current foster dog, Choco (a Chihuahua mix), is about 2 years old and started out timid around new people. Within days, she learned that life at the Lagally house is safe for dogs, and she found good company in my cat, Buca.

Choco and her shoe pile

Choco and her shoe pile

Like Mariah and Mo, Choco’s unique personality is a delight to discover. Chaco loves shoes, and she collects them from all over our house — from closets, shoe racks or the back porch — and piles them on the couch. No shoe is ever damaged — just displayed as yet another glorious find. As we take joy in and offer respect for Choco’s shoe pile, she seems to learn that people are not so scary after all.

Rewarding connections

Animals at SAS or PAWS typically need temporary foster care to recover from a cold or surgery or to take a break from the shelter. Foster families come from all walks of life, including working people, families, apartment dwellers and homeowners.

“We literally have all lifestyles represented, said SAS spokesperson Kara Main-Hester.

Main-Hester said that SAS regularly has about 130 to 200 animals in foster care and more during kitten season, and more than 700 animals per year are cared for by foster parents serving our local city shelter.

Similarly, PAWS placed around 1,600 dogs, cats, kittens and puppies in foster homes last year alone.

“The foster-care program creates a shelter without walls,” explained Oertel, who emphasized that PAWS can always use more foster families, which, in turn, helps PAWS care for even more animals.

For me, not only do foster-care programs serve an important role as part of the companion animal-shelter system, such programs also give foster parents the rewarding, heartwarming chance to connect with some very precious souls who we might otherwise never get to encounter in our journey through life.

For more information on local foster-care programs, visit the Seattle Animal Shelter website at seattle.gov/animalshelter, or contact PAWS at paws.org/foster.html

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of “Living Humane,” a news site providing information on humane-conscious lifestyles at livinghumane.com. She also writes a blog called “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at http://www.sniffingouthome.org.

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