Blog the Change for Animals: Mission Blue

BlogtheChangeToday is Blog the Change for Animals Day. If you have been on the Petosphere at all, I am sure you have noticed. I have been super excited about this date for a long time, ever since I watched Mission Blue on Netflix. I could not wait to share it with you within five minutes of pressing play but I knew it was so important that it needed its own special day.

Have you seen Mission Blue yet? If you haven’t, I have come up with five very important reasons for you to check it out right now. I hope you have some free time this weekend otherwise I think your plans are about to be cancelled.

Reason 1

It is just an extremely well-crafted documentary. Directors Robert Nixon and the always likable Fisher Stevens paired revelatory interviews with the fascinating Dr. Sylvia Earle with stunning underwater footage. Dr. Earle’s brilliant mind does not make her at all unapproachable and the filmmakers did an excellent job of capturing her passion and sense of humour. Though she is a pioneer for marine biology and women in science, and should be a household name, she didn’t come across as the least bit intimidating. As she spoke on camera, I almost felt like she had invited me over for a cup of tea and was sharing her amazing experiences with me first hand. Not that Dr. Earle ever sits still long enough for personal conversations. At the age of 79 she remains a force of energy.

Reason 2

We are inherently responsible for the curation of the planet. I have always believed this but Mission Blue reminded me how important it is for us all to be aware of the current health status of our home. If we don’t know, we won’t change.

Dr. Earle says it even better:

“People ask: Why should I care about the ocean? Because the ocean is the cornerstone of earth’s life support system, it shapes climate and weather. It holds most of life on earth. 97% of earth’s water is there. It’s the blue heart of the planet — we should take care of our heart. It’s what makes life possible for us. We still have a really good chance to make things better than they are. They won’t get better unless we take the action and inspire others to do the same thing. No one is without power. Everybody has the capacity to do something.”

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Reason 3

The film provides a unique perspective of ocean and animal life. When viewed through the eyes of someone who has witnessed the environmental catastrophes of the last eight decades, everything becomes personal. After watching how emotionally affected Dr. Earle is by modern fishing practices, I will never be casual about my seafood purchases again.

Reason 4

The scenes are beautiful. The chances of me getting to these gorgeous spaces and swimming with silky schools of tropical fish are very low. The next best thing is the vicarious route. I can never get enough of underwater footage and Mission Blue has it in spades.

Reason 5

Hope. There is a chance to be part of the solution. Not only does Mission Blue teach viewers the current challenges to ocean life, it also proposes a way to protect the vanishing species and prevent further destruction. Just as we have done on land through national parks and wildlife reserves, Dr. Earle has been working to designate areas of critical importance to immediately focus global conservation efforts. These “Hope Spots”, as she calls them, could help the regrowth of crucial plant and animal life. They could help reverse some of the damage we have caused.

I love the optimism in this message. There are so many films that end on a hopeless note but Mission Blue, and Dr. Earle, believe things can get better. If only we listen and act. To learn how you can help the efforts, I urge you to check out the Mission Blue website. If nothing else, your support for the project will be a terrific encouragement.

So why are you still reading this? Go, log-in to Netflix, watch this movie. If you don’t have an account, convince a friend who does to watch it with you. And then when you love it, as I know you will, share it with everyone you know. Let’s create a Blue movement.

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Click here to enter your link and read about all the other important causes shared by your fellow activists. It’s that easy and it could help change the world….

#BTC4A: What do you do if your cat has kittens?

Me and foster“If your cat has kittens, what are you supposed to do?” This was a question asked by a local news anchor last week during a report on the Edmonton Humane Society (EHS). The animal welfare organization had issued a press release stating it would not be accepting any more owner-surrendered cats due to an extreme lack of space.

Given the time of year, this is not surprising. I believe EHS made a similar moratorium around this same time in 2013. They made it clear they would still take in stray and injured cats but could not care for any more brought in my owners until the pressure of high numbers lifted. These are cats who are surrendered to the shelter for reasons like moving, or, as in the quote above, kittens born to families who do not wish to keep them.

When I first heard the news broadcast I was so stunned by the anchor’s words that I had to rewind the footage to make sure I heard him right. My initial reaction was outrage at the display of what I deemed ignorance. I started yet one more tirade about people who see animal shelters as dumping grounds for their negligence, people who think hard-working organizations like EHS are obligated to take in their unwanted pets. You’ve all heard this before.

After stewing over this for a while I came to a different conclusion. If this informed and intelligent news anchor is unaware of the current feline situation, then it is clear there is a lot of work that needs to be done. Instead of ranting, it would be far better to approach the problem from a place of understanding. For many people, this question is quite legitimate, perhaps even for you, who may have stumbled across this piece during your own quest for answers. I will do my very best to help you out.

Question 1: What do you do if your cat has kittens?

Hopefully your vet is already aware of your cat’s pregnancy and has helped prepare you for the birth. If not, if you had missed the signs of enlarged nipples, change in eating habits, and nesting behaviours, and if the telling bulge was hidden under your cat’s dense fur, perhaps the sight of kittens was a surprise. If this is the case, I do recommend contacting your vet right away as he or she will be able to provide the best resources for your particular cat’s needs.

My needs are simple: a huge chair, a full bowl of food, and a dog to harass

My needs are simple: a huge chair, a full bowl of food, and a dog to harass

Assuming the pregnancy was a healthy one and the labour went smoothly for your cat, there really isn’t much you need to do for the first few weeks. Make sure the mother is well fed, has fresh water and a comfortable, dry, warm, and safe place to nurse and care for the newborns. If all goes as it should, she will do most of the work.

Do be careful around the newborns. As mentioned, it is best to let the mother do what she needs to do. This bonding time is crucial. As long as everything looks well, try not to intervene for the first little while. Of course, after the first week, it will be important to handle the kittens – gently – to help socialize them to humans during this vital period.

Question 2. How long do I have to wait to give the kittens away?

You really don’t want to rush the process. After fostering kittens who had been socialized with their siblings and one who was all on his own, I noticed a huge difference between the two. Kittens who have had the time to learn from each other and their mother make much more easygoing pets.

From what I have read, and I am not an expert, many kittens are healthy and strong enough to go to leave their mother between 8 to 12 weeks. Again, this is where the vet comes in. After 6 weeks, it is a good idea to have your vet examine them, even if they appear healthy. There are a lot of unfortunate viruses kittens can inherit or pick up. Before you send them out in the world, you’ll want to be sure they’ve been checked, de-wormed, and have had their first vaccinations. Your vet will also be able to gauge the growth of the kittens to make sure they are developing well.

Question 3. What if none of my friends will take them and all the shelters are full?

There are many rescue groups and vet clinics who might have some great suggestions for you. Unfortunately, millions of cats are born homeless or abandoned each year and too many are euthanized. The cat overpopulation crisis in our cities only seems to be getting worse. Animal welfare organizations do all they can but, especially in the spring and summer, sometimes there just aren’t enough resources to go around. However, by the fall and winter, the load on shelters and rescue groups is often much lighter. Many of them have waiting lists and if you are patient, space will eventually open up somewhere.

Rescues and shelters are also always in need of foster homes as the majority of them are run entirely by volunteers out of their own houses. Since the kittens are already living with you, you are the perfect natural foster. What a great way to make sure the kittens are cared for as they wait for their forever homes, while also helping out a local organization. You never know, you may really enjoy the experience and go on to foster other animals in the future. Partnering with a rescue in this way also ensures the right owner will be found for each one of your kittens. It is much better than posting them on a website like Kijiji and hoping for the best.

Question 4. But I can’t keep these kittens any longer. If the shelter doesn’t take them, I am going to have to leave them outside.

Orange kittenI understand the stress of having several unexpected little ones running around your house and causing mayhem. Kittens are an extra expense and as they grow they can definitely be a challenge. Despite their sharp claws and teeth, they are still babies, however, and are not capable of living on their own. By leaving them outside you are putting them at risk of many dangers including wildlife, moving vehicles, dehydration, and exposure. Remember, they are used to living at home with you and their mother. It would be quite a shock to suddenly be alone outside, even if you leave them with food.

 

Furthermore, abandoned kittens put an extra strain on already overburdened organizations. If there are no resources to care for them, shelters may be forced to take them in and then turn down cats that were born without loving homes like yours, leaving them to struggle to survive. Or, in the case of  truly desperate situations, your kittens may end up euthanized.

Question 5. But my cat keeps having kittens. Am I expected to care for them all? 

The best way to avoid having more unwanted litters is to have your cat spayed. Unless you live in an area with a free clinic, the surgery does come with a cost. But compared with the expense and complications of having to find homes for multiple kittens, it is money well spent. If you don’t or can’t pay for this, then the second best way is to keep your cat indoors at all times. If she doesn’t get out to mix with other cats, she won’t get pregnant. Of course, this comes with its own challenges. I know exactly how difficult it can be to stop a determined cat from getting into trouble. (TC, ahem, grrrrr.)

These cats, they are sneaksy

These cats, they are sneaksy

If you don’t want the surgery and don’t work hard to prevent your cat from escaping for her own adventures, then I am afraid the only answer to your question is yes, you are expected to care for them all. Your cat is your responsibility, and so are all of her offspring. If she has kittens they belong to you and it is your job to ensure they are well cared for and healthy. Animal welfare organizations are here to help us and to provide aid to animals in danger, not to fix our mistakes.

There are many terrific online sources of information that may help you should your cat get pregnant, International Cat Care is one of my favourites. Most local and national organizations are also happy to offer education and advice, even if they aren’t able to take your kittens in themselves. And again, I can’t say this enough, your vet is always the best person with whom to start.

I hope this post has helped you make the right decision for your kittens. I love cats as much as you do and I hope they all live long, happy lives.

Blog the Change

Blog the Change for Animals: Hold the Wall

Blog the Change

For this Blog the Change for Animals event, it has gotten personal. I may have come around about this new city of mine, however, there is one area in which we will never agree: politics. More specifically, the politics around animal welfare. With rodeos being the favoured summertime entertainment and the oil sands being the province’s blood stream, it is inevitable that Alberta and I are going to clash in several intrinsic ways. No matter what the propaganda says, this is a government that puts money and economy over everything else. Forget planning for our environmental future, forget the experiences of our animals, it is all about creating jobs and putting more cash in the pockets of overpaid executives.

Sorry, I guess that wasn’t an objective statement. It is hard for me to remain neutral about an issue that has jammed itself in my cranium ever since the proposal was introduced. There is nothing about the Northern Gateway Pipeline I can support.

For starters, the threat of a gigantic disaster will always loom. The oil industry has not done much to ease my concerns in this regard. North America has seen too many spills and leaks and destructive accidents in the last decade for me to believe this pipeline is environmentally safe. On a second, more important note, have you seen the area in which the pipeline will traverse?

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Frightening. How many animal habitats will be forever disrupted? How many endangered species will find their lives threatened? Creatures like the Spirit Bear and the Woodland Caribou are threatened. The invasion of construction crews will only serve to decrease their dwindling numbers.

Is it worth it? Sure, and it will make the transportation of oil much more efficient and it will create employment for a limited time. But what are the repercussions?

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Town of Kitimat, BC, sounded by unique temperate rainforests

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The town of Kitimat, British Columbia held a plebiscite this weekend to determine whether or not there is local support. Considering the pipeline will be intruding on these 8,335 human lives the most, it was only fair. Of course, the vote wasn’t binding and was more of an opinion poll than anything else. The company leading the proposal were not at all daunted by the negative result. As MP Nathan Cullen said, the backers of the pipeline believe the outcome of the vote shows the ignorance of the community members.

“This is deeply offensive to people,” said Cullen, in an article published by the Vancouver Sun. “Like they’re saying, ‘We’ve heard you and we’re going to ignore you.’”

This worries me. The rigorosity of this company to push their proposal through, no matter what the irreparable costs, no matter what the people want, frightens me. As in so many other initiatives, I feel helpless to prevent something that I know will have lasting impacts on us all.

Why should you care? This is in Canada, after all. It is a decision that will be made by the Canadian federal government. But I know you care about animals. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t. You also can’t forget that the same people backing the Northern Gateway Pipeline are pushing for the more extensive Keystone XL, which will have even larger ramifications.

What can you do? Add your name to the petition, pledge to stand with the Yinka Dene Alliance of First Nations who has joined with other First Nations to create a connected wall of opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Share your opinion, let the Government of Canada know that this matters to you, as a member of the world community.

We may not be able to stop it, but we can’t let this destruction happen without having our say.

Never Doubt the Power of a Well Told Story

There are a lot of worthwhile causes out there. When it comes to saving animals, there is no shortage of groups standing up for what they think is right. It is a commendable thing to witness. I firmly believe we are on a positive track. There is a lot of work to be done, yes, but there has been so much solid change enacted by people like you and I that I refuse to be pessimistic. There will come a time when puppy mills are a hideous part of North America’s history. Maybe even in our lifetimes. We just need to keep putting on the pressure and keep telling our stories.

I’ve seen the proof of this for myself. My natural cynicism was challenged and defeated. All it took was the campaign of a single cat: the late Tuxedo Stan.

Tuxedo Stan

Stan’s story was age-old. He was one of four kittens born to an abandoned mother in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She was rescued while in the later stage of her pregnancy and gave birth three weeks later. It is a situation all too common in my former city where they estimate the population of cats may be close to 100,000. In a region of just over 300,000 humans, this is a wee bit off the charts. Stan and his brothers were lucky. If his mother hadn’t been found, her kittens likely would not have survived.

Still, aside from the tragic aspects, there was nothing to set him apart from the countless other kittens who find their way to rescue organizations in cities across the continent. He was just one little cat who managed to find a decent home. Something that happens all the time, even if not as often as it should. So why was he so famous? Why did he garner the attention of Ellen DeGeneres or the New York Times? Was it just because he was so stinkin’ pretty?

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Not quite. You see, Stan’s human family was special. They knew his good looks could only go so far. However, they also knew that with a few well-written slogans, they could turn him into a cover model for change.

Tuxedo-StanI admit, I thought the concept of putting a cat on the mayoral ballot was ludicrous. I first encountered Stan and his crew while attending a fundraising auction for a popular cat rescue organization in town. They showed up at the pub with their wild t-shirts and their naive beliefs and I rolled my eyes. Wing-nuts, I muttered to my PH. Do they really think their silly campaign is going to make a difference? Everyone is just going to think they are crazy cat people. Regardless, as the evening progressed, I watched something pretty stunning happen. As someone who has worked for a few charities and who has attended a lot of auctions, I have never before seen so much money dropped so willingly for a cause. I am talking gift certificates going for more than twice their value! Dorky little donated crafts ensnaring more cash than I spent on weekly groceries! It was astounding. And almost all of it came from Stan’s corner of the room. They walked the walk and then some.

Over the next few months, the enthusiasm and publicity only grew. Stan’s people were clever. They knew just how to play the crowd. Utilizing social media, they told simple stories of Stan’s campaign trail that were humourous and touching. They knew when to be serious and when to tug the heart-strings. Like any politician, Stan even had his share of scandal when an erroneous story leaked about his supposed love children. Hugh Chisholm, Stan’s human, who also happens to be a veterinarian, played it just right.

Alas, it was not to be. Stan never actually made it to the ballot, despite his best efforts. But Stanthat doesn’t mean their hard work failed. Quite the opposite. Even if the feline never had a chance at winning the race, he did achieve his goal of raising awareness of the plight of cats. He also did something even better.

Because of the celebrity of one distinguished cat, something unprecedented happened. In May 2013, the Halifax regional council voted to give $40,000 to the Nova Scotia SPCA in support of a discounted spay and neuter program. Yes, you read that right. $40,000 to help curb HRM’s massive cat overpopulation problem all because of a beautiful cat and his passionate humans.

I am now a believer. The story of Tuxedo Stan, and his brother Earl Grey, will remain in my mind forever. Sadly, Stan passed away last year. In my mind, he left a legacy that will continue on long past his too-short lifetime. He proved to me that it doesn’t matter how difficult the issue or how stubborn the audience. I will never doubt the power of a good story ever again.

As bloggers you have the ability to write your own tales and change lives the way Stan’s followers did. Sure, a $40,000 goal may seem a bit lofty at first but if they could do it, I don’t think it is silly to say we all have the ability. We just need the passion; we just need to believe it is possible enough to try.

It’s not easy. So much of this feels futile. I know everyone reading this already cares, already knows how crucial these issues are. We keep talking and it seems like we never reach the people who most need to hear. It is insane to think of how many people still don’t know where pet store puppies are sourced, or who don’t even consider the problems of featuring whales in a parade float. This isn’t because they are bad people. They have just never been presented with a different view in a compelling way. Stan was able to reach these people. He was able to capture the attention of non-cat-loving Haligonians. Not because he was unique, but because his story was told in a positive and interesting way. Most people, when given the chance, will change their actions. Unfortunately, the battle-scarred combatants on the front lines of animal welfare often just don’t have the energy any more.

This is where you come in. As a writer, as someone who knows how to use social media to market your blog, you can tell these stories. You have the ability to encourage people to question and to make new choices. Your creative and inspiring words can motivate others to take action. As I’ve always said, when it comes to the Internet you never know who is paying attention. Stories have a sneaky way of reaching people who weren’t even seeking the information. It might start small. Stan’s people worked for long hours behind the scenes before they landed on such a winning idea. Years later, looking at all they have achieved and realizing how many lives one pretty cat saved, I can’t help but come away with this one thought: never doubt the power of a well told story.

BlogtheChangeCheck out the other important articles written for today’s Blog the Change event, or look up the vital animal-related causes on websites like Change.org and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Using these resources and a myriad of others, see if you can find a story worth telling. What’s the worst that can happen? This is my challenge to you. 

Passing the Spay/Neuter Kool-Aid: Because Pets Deserve Better

LogoThe pet blogosphere has lit up this week in support of World Spay Day. A most worthy initiative indeed.

Reading all the varied opinions on spay and neuter surgeries has been enlightening. When I was a kid, it seemed like it was just what you did. If you had a dog or cat, you made sure he or she couldn’t have babies. It was a no-brainer. When I entered the world of animal welfare as an adult, at first it baffled me how many people didn’t automatically alter their pets. Unless one plans on breeding, I didn’t understand why she would take the risk. Now I realize it is a lot more complicated than that.

There are many good reasons people have for not spaying or neutering their pets. I trust that everyone reading this today knows all about the costs and benefits. I’m not going to ramble on about it again. You all are responsible and have made your decisions in the best interests of your family. It’s part of why we get on so well.

The struggle begins when trying to reach those who don’t read the literature – people who genuinely don’t know the costs and benefits of spaying and neutering. These are the people who might need the information shared by organizations across the continent in promotion of the big event.

By this point, you all know how I feel about cats. More specifically, you know how I feel about the massively massive overpopulation of cats and how these beautiful animals are often ignored, abandoned, and then euthanized. It is impossible for me to think of spay and neuter programs without immediately thinking of the feline plight. In my opinion the latter cannot be improved without the former. These neglected animals are the reason World Spay Day exists.

Prevent a Litter

The large cat overpopulation problem has been building for decades. There is no one individual or group to blame. Most people who bring home pets have the best of intentions. No one adopts a cat unless one enjoys being around animals. People might be misinformed but they are not purposefully negligent. Yet, no matter how kind the thought, priorities change. Life happens.  Vet care is expensive. Things get busy.  Appointments are pushed off. Indoor cats escape. Things get busier. Pets get forgotten.

I understand. There is a lot to think about every day. That’s why spaying and neutering is so vital. It’s kind of like insurance. I don’t want to think about how many litters of kittens my cat could have sired by now if he wasn’t altered. Between Calgary and Halifax, he might have had quite a crew of offspring. And we’d never even know it. Getting him snipped prevents me from having to worry about his fatherly duties. I’d hate to think of more cats killed due to my own ignorance.

Cats like this guy:

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And this guy:

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And even these guys:

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They are the lucky ones. None of the above cats will ever have to face euthanasia because they are unwanted. I wish I believed they were the majority. Cats deserve better. All companion animals deserve better.

World Spay Day isn’t about debating whether or not it’s healthier to keep a dog intact for two years, or five years, or forever. It’s about saving lives. The animals aided in these promotions aren’t the ones owned by knowledgeable humans making informed choices. They are the ones who may otherwise face abandonment or death.

It’s a cause I am pretty sure we can all get behind.

Poster shown above taken from SpayUSA.org.

Blog the Change for Animals: My First Fostering Experience

Blog the Change Sunday was a bittersweet day for us, or maybe just for me. It was the day our spunky little foster kitten went to the shelter to find his forever home. The house doesn’t feel quieter without him around, but it does feel a bit empty. Aside from a few photos here and there, I haven’t discussed the little bugger much here. Knowing the date for Blog the Change was approaching I saved all my big foster-related stories for today in hopes I could convince someone else to give it a try.

I can’t say whether or not my fostering experience was at all typical as it was my first time. It’s something I wanted to do for a long time but I was afraid of being a failure. Not a “foster failure”, in the normal sense – I wasn’t worried I’d be tempted to keep the kitten. I was more afraid that I would screw the animal up or that something would go wrong and the animal would get hurt and it would be all my fault. The last thing the world needs is one more person with good intentions getting in over her head. However, I read so many positive accounts and I know what a difference providing an extra space for homeless cats makes, that I decided to just go for it. With all the resources at my disposal I figured if the worst thing happened, I would have lots of help. And if it turned out to be awful, I never had to do it again.

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The whole process was simpler than I expected. I didn’t have to sign away my life and apparently, they don’t require foster parents to have a degree in veterinary medicine! My mind was blown. The kitten we took in was healthy and had little trouble adapting to our home. It wasn’t long before caring for him became just another part of our daily routine. The organization we fostered for provided us with all the food and litter, as well as a bed and cage for him to hang out in when unsupervised. All we had to do was feed him, give him fresh water, play with him, and watch him grow. Even I can get that right.

My concerns for how my own pets would handle the addition were also set at ease. Our nutjob of a dog was a lot better with him than I ever expected. Over-excited, yes, but she kept her prey drive in check and was more interested in sniffing his butt than treating him like a toy. After a few days of clicking-and-treating her for good calm behaviour, Shiva learned how to handle his presence. Our cat was another matter. He didn’t appreciate the young feline in his territory and only grew to dislike him more the longer he stuck around. However, there was an easy solution to that problem: we kept them separated. The kitten and his set up remained in a spare room behind a closed door. This way all interactions between the animals were strictly supervised. If things looked like they might derail, the kitten could beat an easy retreat.

015Unfortunately, as much as I’d love to say fostering was all sunshine and rainbows, there was a moment early on in which I wondered if I was cut out for the task.

At this point the kitten had been with us for almost seven days and was about five weeks old. I had gone out that morning to purchase a new toy for him, something we could play with together. All excited, I opened the door to the kitten’s room, singing out to him: “Kiiittttennnn, look what I haaave!”

I waved the feathered toy over the top of the cage and moved to open the door. He was laying by his food bowl and didn’t stir, not even when the cage door clanged against the bars.

Not normal.

I reached my hand inside and stroked his head with a finger. He still didn’t move. I picked him up and noticed the towel beneath him was wet. He lifted his head when I cradled him in my arms but his eyes remained closed. I put him down on the carpet and he remained still.

I started to freak out.

Several frantic text messages and multiple phone calls later, we drove him as quickly as we could back to the rescue. My contact had suggested we try giving him some corn syrup in case he had just run himself into a coma. But after slathering it all over his mouth there was little change. He had turned from a fuzzball of hyperactivity into a withdrawn and lethargic baby. He wasn’t interested in any of his toys and seemed to have trouble moving. It was as if he had been drugged. Fortunately, we didn’t have to go far to get help. The woman in charge of the rescue reassured me there was nothing I could have done and took him back into her care.

A few more days passed and the wee lad had made a full recovery. No one knew what had caused his sudden downturn but all seemed well again. He was a singleton, his siblings having already not made it. When kittens are that young and have no known medical history, it’s a guessing game. I was asked if I wanted to take him back for the remainder of his foster care.

I was unsure. The biggest reason I didn’t want to foster was because I was scared something bad would happen. What if I took him back and he became ill again? What if I was at work or in bed at the time? What if I found him and it was too late? All of those questions and more crossed my mind. In the end, I decided to bring him home again. I had made a commitment and would see it through. I felt I owed him that.

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Luckily, the worst never happened. As far as I could tell he remained in perfect health the rest of his stay with us. That doesn’t mean he was easy, of course! He is a kitten, after all. Crazy one minute, then sweet and snuggly the next. When I opened the door to his room, I never knew which I was going to get. And I still have the scars to prove it!

Now that he is gone, off to a new life, I do miss him a little. No doubt he is cute enough to get himself adopted right away. I just hope the mischief make behaves himself well enough to stay there. I feel fortunate that I got to be a part of his beginning. Fostering is definitely one of the more rewarding things I have done in the last year. It was fun having a new animal around and I got a kick out of watching him learn. Every day brought something new into his world. Hanging out with him gave me a new appreciation for the little things.

Who knew beer boxes made such good forts?

Who knew beer boxes made such good forts?

So have I convinced you yet? I hope I’ve at least inspired you to consider it. In my opinion, whatever stress is involved is well-worth the benefit you get from helping a little fluffy animal get his first start in life. And this is coming from me, a professional worrier. If I can do it, anyone can.

#BTC4A You Too Can Raise $5,000 for Animal Rescue!

Speaking of making a difference… There is a very easy way you can change the lives of animals right this minute. For every tweet and blog post featuring the #BTC4A hashtag – short for Be the Change for Animals –  from October 22-27, Petco will donate $1 for rescue pets at BarkWorld. This means if we all get together there is a chance we could raise up to $5,0o0 for local, no-kill rescues and shelters across the country!

That’s right. $5,000. For a couple tweets. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

The majority of animal welfare organizations receive little to no government funding. They rely entirely upon public donations and volunteers to offer their much-needed services. While most managers are pretty savvy at finding discounts and finagling deals, everything costs money. From spay and neuter surgeries to a bottle of bleach to clean the dog kennels, their needs often outweigh their capacity. As the demand for shelters and rescues doesn’t seem to be fading, no amount of support is too small.

I am sure you can imagine that $5,000 would be a decent bonus to any organization working to save lives in a tough economy. For example:

$5,000 = 882 bottles of bleach, 58 spay/neuter surgeries, 104 large bags of regular quality dog food, 833 bottles of laundry detergent, and 294 bags of cat litter.*

Here’s how you can help get this money into the hands of those who need it:

- Now through Saturday, October 27th at 11 AM (EST) tweet the following :

“Rescue pets receive $1 from @Petco at @BarkWorldExpo for each #BTC4A tweet from Oct 22-27! Learn more: http://ht.ly/eEls7

- Blog about what rescue means to you, now through Saturday, October 27th at 11 AM (EST). Add #BTC4A to your post title. Add your post link (not just your domain) to the blog hop list below to be counted. (Bonus! Each time your post is tweeted, you’ll earn more money for rescue pets!)

- If you are attending BarkWorldnominate your favorite no-kill rescue or shelter at the Petco booth through Friday, October 26th!

Valuable resources for animals in your community are just a few clicks away. Join in and spread the word! There is no reason we can’t reach the goal if we all get our blog on. Let’s do this!

*Prices based on average costs found on various websites.

**All photos in this post are of dogs currently available for adoption at the Nova Scotia SPCA.