Petfinder Foundation News

VIDEO: Watch this if You’re Thinking of Adopting a Bird!

Noah Horton, assistant director

Yesterday, you learned a little about my experience renovating Carolina Waterfowl Rescue with our Rescue U team at the beginning of this month and met some of the permanent residents of CWR. Today I want to share how I learned about bird adoption and became more enamored with the idea of birds as pets.

Things to Consider Before You Adopt a Bird

I got a chance to talk with CWR director Jennifer Gordon about bird adoption and learned a huge amount. The considerations for adopting a bird are totally different than those for adopting a dog or cat. For one thing, dogs and cats are both natural predators. Most birds are considered prey animals. Knowing this one fact can change the way you look at a bird.

People often assume when meeting a bird for the first time that birds are unfriendly, when the truth is, they are naturally on the defensive until they are comfortable with you. Jennifer told me, “Most people say birds who they initially thought were unfriendly were eating out of their hands within a week.”

Furthermore, each type of bird requires a totally different type of care. Birds like parrots are very smart and require enrichment and interaction to stay happy. These are not good pets for people who are very busy and cannot spend time with their birds. Geese, on the other hand, can be left outside with proper shelter and a small pool and remain content without much human interaction. However, any bird who has imprinted on a human requires a large amount of human interaction. Watch the video above to learn the difference between imprinted, habituated and feral birds, and to hear some other considerations, such as your home’s zoning, that go into bird adoption.



How Our Assistant Director Became a Bird Guy

Noah bonded with Rupert the duck over his two-week stint at Carolina Waterfowl Rescue.

Noah Horton, assistant director

For most of my life, I was a self-proclaimed cat person. Don’t get me wrong: I love dogs — I’ve always just sided with felines. Maybe it’s their subtle personality quirks, or the way they make you work for the relationship, or the way they fall asleep for 19 hours a day and let you stack things on top of them and take photos. Whatever the reason, that has always been a part of my identity. That is, until last week.

You see, for the first two weeks of the year, I was with our Rescue U team in Indian Trail, NC, renovating a bird sanctuary. Carolina Waterfowl Rescue takes in tame and wild birds, gives them a safe and cage-free place to live, and works to find loving homes for the adoptable birds. The only bird rescue in the state, CWR adopts out about 1,800 birds a year and houses around 200 at any given time. The birds include ducks, geese, swans, turkeys, chickens, pigeons, herons, peacocks and cockatiels. Suffice it to say, it was a big change of pace from our usual Rescue U renovations of shelters that house mainly dogs and cats.

My Experience with the Birds of CWR

This yard of ducks is a typical scene at CWR.

When I first saw one of CWR’s many yards, full of swimming, quacking and waddling ducks of all kinds, I thought, “Look, a bunch of ducks.” Sure, I could tell the difference between the mallards and the Muschovys and the domestic Pekin ducks, but within those groups, they all seemed to be clones of one another. This is what I see as the biggest challenge for bird advocates: To an outsider, individual birds’ appearances don’t make them as easy to connect with as dogs or cats. But like I said, one of the reasons I’m a cat guy is I like that I have to work for the relationship. And I could tell from watching the regular CWR volunteers interact with the birds that there was plenty of relationship to be had!

Mr. “T” the Turkey

Mr. “T” the turkey had a thing for Liz Baker, executive director of the GreaterGood Foundation.

Mr. “T” the turkey is one of the flashiest birds on the 11-acre property. A domestic breed of turkey, he imprinted on humans immediately after he hatched, and feels more comfortable around humans than other birds. He is constantly puffed up in a full-feathered display, walking around trying to impress all the volunteers and any other people on the property. He walks up to you and prances back and forth as if to say, “Aren’t I pretty?” You can tell by the way he cuddles you that he appreciates a good pet to let him know you saw him. And you can tell by the way he reacts to different people that he recognizes them and has favorites. He really had a thing for Liz Baker, executive director of the GreaterGood Foundation (which fully funded the renovation through The Animal Rescue Site), and would make his neck extra long any time she was around to show how big and tough he could be for her. Because Mr. “T” is imprinted on humans, he requires a lot of attention and is not adoptable. Instead, CWR uses him for educational purposes, bringing him to local schools and adoption events.

Rupert Huneycutt the Duck

Rupert imprinted on humans when he was born. His original family gave him a collar that he still likes to wear.

My personal favorite was Mr. Rupert Huneycutt the duck, another permanent resident. He followed the volunteers into the main shelter building every day for lunch, waddling and chatting us up with a “quack, quack, quack” the whole time. When you walk up to Rupert, he tilts his head down and to the side, so he can look at your face. This is something I never knew a bird would do, but the staff at CWR assure me birds can remember the faces of many people, and after years of no contact, will remember people they especially liked. I actually witnessed a woman who volunteered at CWR a few years ago come to visit during the renovation. I was told Mr. Fuzzy the Canada Goose had really liked her when she was a volunteer. Sure enough, when Mr. Fuzzy saw her he quickly ran to her for a pet and to say hi. I like to think Mr. Rupert liked me, and after about a week he would allow me to hold and pet him, and gave me plenty of love nibbles.

The Love Story of the Black Swans

These beautiful black swans are a mated pair and do not leave each others’ sides.

The emotional capacity of the birds is amazing. A lonely or under-stimulated bird will refuse to eat or will self-mutilate (pull his feathers out). But birds also exhibit this behavior when those they love are in trouble. There is a beautiful mated pair of black swans at CWR (swans mate for life) whose story exemplifies this. The male swan had lost his previous mate before coming to the rescue and was extremely sad. The volunteers at CWR worked hard to make sure he ate. One night, an injured female black swan was brought in. The male, in the yard, heard her cries in the main shelter building and sat outside the wall closest to the female for weeks until she was brought outside. She slept in the kennel next to him, and he would scoot close to her and talk to her all night. After another couple of weeks, they began their courtship dance (a mating ritual performed in the water where the two swans perform intricate neck and wing movements), and they are now inseparable.

By the time I left the CWR, I could recognize the birds for who they were — individuals with distinct personalities who care for each other and the humans who look after them. Most of the permanent residents of the rescue, including Mr. “T” the Turkey, Marm a Lade the Rooser, Rupert the duck and Pringles the Grey Goose, have such big personalities, they have their own Facebook pages, which I encourage everyone to take some time to visit.

Bitten By the Bird ‘Bug’

After my two weeks at CWR, birds have a big place in my heart. As CWR director Jennifer Gordon told me: “It’s kind of a bug you get. Once you start working with the birds, it’s hard to stop.” Birds connect with you the same way any pet does — you just have to learn to see the signs; it’s like learning a new language. You have to dig a little to get to the connection (like cats), but once you’re there, it’s incredibly satisfying. Birds, as prey animals, have to make a conscious decision to let you get close to them, which makes your relationship special.

The number of dedicated volunteers who work with the birds at CWR every week is a testament to the power of the birds’ personalities. CWR is a 100% volunteer-supported organization, which means that 100% of donations go directly to the care of the birds who live there. To learn more about volunteering or donating to CWR, visit them online.

As for me, I’m still a cat guy, but now I can say with confidence that I’m also a bird guy. And I really miss Rupert the duck.



True-Dose Helps a Retired Greyhound Ease into Home Life

Our friends at True-Dose are giving $100,000 worth of their True-Dose Calming, Joint and other supplements to shelters and rescue groups! (Are you with an adoption group? Apply for a True-Dose product grant here.).

What’s more, for every bottle you purchase, True-Dose will donate $5 to the Petfinder Foundation — and give you free shipping. Just enter the coupon code PETFINDER at checkout.

True-Dose Calming can help dogs and cats deal with stress caused by separation, thunderstorms, new situations and general anxiety — and it’s easy to administer: just a few drops in your pet’s food. One pet who benefited from True-Dose Calming was Chipper. Duane Jackson, president of NE Ohio Greyhound Rescue, Inc. in Perry, OH, told us Chipper’s story:

“Chipper was a newly retired greyhound. When he came into our program, he was scared to be in a new environment and cried. We gave him True-Dose Calming and he settled down and went to sleep. He often became scared whenever we took him to new places, so the True-Dose Calming helped him. He was recently adopted and his new owners used True-Dose Calming samples to help him settle in.”

Thank you, True-Dose!

Purchase True-Dose products; enter PETFINDER at check-out to earn $5 for homeless pets and get free shipping!

Adoption groups: Apply for a True-Dose product grant.



How YOU Help Shelters Win!

The Animal Rescue Site’s Shelter+ Challenge is back with even more opportunities for shelters and rescue groups to win: more than 200 prizes and $100,000 to be given away between now and April.

Peanut, now adopted, was helped thanks to a Shelter Challenge grant awarded to Alabama’s Prattville/Autauga Humane Shelter.

Already some great groups are opening up their mail to find checks and letters from us! And there’s plenty more to come. We are extremely grateful to The Animal Rescue Site for funding the challenge every year since 2008, giving more than $1 million in grants to help hundreds of shelters and rescue groups, chosen by your votes, better care for homeless pets.

The Shelter+ Challenge is also an incredible opportunity for so many organizations to earn funds, involve their online supporters and get the word out about what they do in their communities.

Above all, voting in the challenge is fair. Some organizations, unfortunately, have tried to game the system by emailing their supporters with ways to get around the contest’s one-vote-per-day limit. But deleting cookies or refreshing your browser won’t give your group more votes — and neither will any other “secret, surefire” methods. The contest comes with all types of safeguards to ensure that only legitimate votes are counted, and efforts to cheat only damage an organization’s reputation.

So vote online daily for your favorite shelter or rescue group. There are over $100,000 in prizes to be awarded and your vote can make a difference!



A Shelter Saves Two Victims of Severe Cruelty

Adele, as she looks today. She’s waiting for her forever home at Greater Charlotte SPCA. Learn more about adopting her here.

We have some exciting news: For the second year in a row, Orvis is matching donations to the Petfinder Foundation dollar-for-dollar up to $30,000. This means the world to pets like Adele.

Adele the day she was rescued

Adele was rescued by Greater Charlotte SPCA, which used Orvis funds to help pay for her rehabilitation. Here’s what GCSPCA president Alex Wilson told us on Dec. 27:

Several of the puncture wounds on Adele’s face were infected.

“Thank you so much for the grant. We are going to use some of the money to help Adele. Adele was found as a stray on the side of the road today. She is terribly thin and covered in bite wounds and several of the punctures in her face are badly infected.

“She currently has a 104-degree temperature from the infection caused by the bite wounds she suffered from we believe, being a bait dog. Our vet is actually fostering her because she is going to need quite a bit of care (she will live in his home).

“We do not turn these dogs away when we receive a plea. We always try to figure out how to pay after we say yes. The grant will help us to not worry as much about saying yes.”

We recently asked Wilson for an update on Adele. She told us: “Adele is a super sweet and happy girl. She is great with people, even young kids. She is actually very energetic now and loves to run and play in the yard.” One potential adoption didn’t work out; understandably, for a former bait dog, Adele has some issues with other dogs and is now waiting for the perfect home in which she’ll be the only pet.

Ethan, found riddled with shotgun pellets, was also helped by the Orvis grant.

Wilson also told us the Orvis grant helped cover the care of another cruelty case, a dog named Ethan. “Ethan was found as a stray, heartworm-positive, with a deep cut on his face and his body was full of shotgun pellets,” she said. “He is still a very sweet and happy-go-lucky guy and he is in one of our foster homes recovering as well.

“We have had a lot of medical emergency cases recently and normally we have to be careful about taking on too many at once, but the grant has allowed us to take on more than we normally could. We are incredibly grateful for your generosity.”

Learn more about adopting Adele here.

Learn more about adopting Ethan here.

Donate today and Orvis will match your gift dollar-for-dollar so shelters and rescue groups can help more pets like Adele and Ethan.



An Innovative Shelter Program Helps Princess Find Her Castle

One of the many shelters that won grants in The Animal Rescue Site‘s Shelter+ Challenge last year was the Nebraska Humane Society in Omaha. Grants Manager Alexandra Nather wrote to tell us how our $1,000 grant changed the life of one very special dog there.

Princess leaves the shelter with her new BFF.

“Being an open-admission shelter, we accept all animals, and many with special needs or circumstances have long stays with us. The following is the story of Princess, a young Pit Bull who finally found the perfect forever home after being at the shelter for five months.

“One of the biggest challenges we faced at our shelter last year was finding creative ways to handle dogs who had a long shelter stay. Princess forced our staff to think outside the box.

“She came to the shelter because her owner didn’t have the time or money to care for her. She was young, strong and out of control, but oh, so loveable. She would sit on desks, go through the trash and jump over half doors. It soon became clear that working with her in the shelter was not enough — we needed to find a way to get her off-site and exercised, both mentally and physically.

“We created a new dog-walker program called Shelter Support. Trained volunteers led teams that worked with Princess. The dog walkers scheduled times and days to take her off-site to the lake or to McDonald’s for ice cream, out to a shopping mall or a store where well-mannered dogs are allowed.

Princess relaxes at her new home.

“The new support system was a success and made all the difference for Princess and other dogs with similar issues. After five months of shelter care, a calmer and well-mannered Princess finally found her forever home (complete with one adoring little girl).

“We are most grateful to be the recipient of a $1,000 grant through the Shelter+ Challenge. Thank you for helping us care for homeless pets.”

Thanks to the Nebraska Humane Society, the Animal Rescue Site and, of course, Princess’s new family for finally giving her a castle to call home!



For One Rescue Group, the Petfinder Foundation Is ‘The Angel in the Wake of a Storm’

Alvin is one of the adoptable pets at H.E.A.L.S. in Lodi, NJ.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast on Oct. 29, 2012, many animal shelters lost power and supplies. One of them was Helping Every Animal Live Society Inc. (H.E.A.L.S.) in Lodi, NJ, which received a $2,500 disaster grant from the Petfinder Foundation. H.E.A.L.S. cofounder Benjamin Ortiz wrote to tell us about the impact the grant had for his organization.

“Days prior to Hurricane Sandy, H.E.A.L.S. had rescued 12 puppies and four adult dogs from a southern shelter that was scheduled to euthanize them on the same day that Sandy was set to make landfall in New Jersey. H.E.A.L.S. knew that this was unfair to these sweet babies and made the decision to save them from a sure death and bring them home.

“We knew the battle to keep the dogs alive was just starting when we saw how intense the storm had become and the condition of the puppies when they arrived at H.E.A.L.S. They had upper respiratory infections along with canine influenza and were immediately treated and prescribed antibiotics and cough medicine. It seemed they had gotten sick during their transportation from the south and the stress of transport made their illness worse — these babies needed a lot of T.L.C.

Flooding outside the H.E.A.L.S. shelter in Lodi, NJ.

“The antibiotics that were prescribed needed refrigeration, as did many of the vaccines we had in stock, so we made sure we had a generator prepared in case we lost power. H.E.A.L.S. prepared as much as possible for the worst, but Hurricane Sandy planned to outsmart us.

“When the storm hit, we lost power within the first hour and flooding began soon after. The generator was knocked off the platform and swept into the nearby river. We immediately filled our coolers with bags of ice that we had bought in case all else failed and put all the medications in the coolers.

“When the storm had passed, the ice in the cooler had melted and the puppies’ condition has shown very little improvement. The medication was no longer refrigerated and no vets or animal hospitals were open due to their own damages and power failures. Sadly, many of the puppies’ got worse. Days passed and still no power; gasoline became a privilege. We struggled to find fuel to transport these animals to Pennsylvania to receive proper medical attention, but it was impossible.

“Finally, after a week, some power was restored and we received notice that a nearby vet was now open for a few hours. We immediately ran there with the puppies. After a full check-up, the vet advised us to hospitalize the puppies because their condition was critical and it was going to take a lot of medical treatment to get them healthy again. The bill for the treatment and the hospital stay, after a discount, would come out to $2,446. We could not afford this enormous bill. But we told the vet that we would have the money and to please treat our babies (we knew that their lives were more important than a bad credit report and there was no way that we were going to let them die).

“I cannot tell you how much stress I was under at that moment. I had no idea how we would raise $2,500 in two days. That night, I went home, opened up my e-mail and saw a message from the Petfinder Foundation. This angel by the name of Toni Morgan had sent us a grant application. I immediately filled it out and prayed that we could get something to cover at least half the vet bill.

“God knew what He was doing, as always, and this angel was at work for him. Within a few days we received an e-mail stating that we were approved for the grant and that the check was in the mail. THIS WAS THE MOST UPLIFTING MOMENT EVER! I immediately printed this e-mail, showed it to the vet and was granted some time to pay the bill. The most incredible thing was that when the checked arrived, it was for $2,500 — just the right amount! The Petfinder Foundation was and still is our ANGEL! THANK YOU for everything! You GUYS ARE AMAZING!”

We are so happy we could help H.E.A.L.S. and its dogs survive the storm and their illness. Thank you to everyone who donated to our Hurricane Sandy relief efforts to make lifesaving grants like this one possible!



Hurricane Sandy Pets Get Handmade Quilts to Keep them Warm

A-Rod, a favorite cat at St. Hubert’s, rests on his kennel quilt. He loves to knead the quilt before taking his naps.

In the weeks following Hurricane Sandy, the Petfinder Foundation was contacted by Nan Baker of The Quilt Pattern Magazine with one question: “How can we help?” With an audience who loves quilting, and many shelters in need of blankets to keep their pets warm, there was a clear answer. The Petfinder Foundation provided the names of groups in need of blankets for their pets. With that information, the online magazine asked its subscribers to put their passion to good use by creating small “kennel quilts” for the pets affected by the disaster. (You can see the pattern and the list of shelters who need quilts here.)

How did their audience respond? With more than 60 quilts made and mailed, and more on the way.

St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in New Jersey said the quilts they received have been a big help to their shelter and the shelters they are assisting.

Grey Joy, a kitten at Pets Alive in New York, tests out his new kennel quilt.

Vice President Nora Parker says, “The quilts are the PERFECT size for the kitty Kuranda beds that we (and many others) use at the shelter, so they work for both the cubbies and around the cattery when the cats are out lounging around.

“We’ve been happy we could send some off to the supply spot at the Jersey Shore. We will send more when we have them as we are keeping that spot stocked for those folks into the new year. The quilts keep coming in! I thought you’d like to know that we’ve just received a package with seven quilts and a sweet note from a lady in ENGLAND!”

The generous readers of The Quilt Pattern Magazine aren’t slowing down, and they expect this to be an ongoing effort. Nan Baker tells us, “We know there will be more occasions where quilts are needed, and we want to be ready to respond when there is a need! The shelters that have received the quilts have been so appreciative. This is one way we can let them know we are so grateful for the work they are doing in taking care of animals in need.”

The Quilt Pattern Magazine has free downloadable patterns on their website for anyone who wishes to contribute to this effort. Get the pattern here. To learn more about the effort, read The Quilt Pattern Magazine’s blog or visit the magazine’s Kennel Quilt page to download the pattern and see a list of shelters in need.



How I Nursed Four Abandoned Puppies Back to Health

This is the culprit who brought the Petfinder Foundation to its knees

Brody helped nurse Bella back to health.

Brody’s mother adopted this little girl, whom she named Maggie.

While taking a late afternoon stroll through my uncle’s rural desert property 40 miles west of Tucson recently, my mother and I happened across four abandoned puppies. They were cold and starving, barely a week old and unable to open their eyes. We knew that, without a stable environment, these little guys wouldn’t survive much longer. We scooped them up and carried them home.

After a warm bath and a little puppy formula, the four perked up. They were so adorable. But I already have four dogs and a kitten, so I knew I couldn’t provide them with a forever home. My mother and I decided to foster them until they were healthy enough to adopt out. We’ve had them for a few weeks now and they’ve grown rapidly. They appear to be a mix of Husky and Chow Chow, but we don’t know for sure. Each puppy has his or her own look and a unique personality to match. My mother is adopting one of the females, whom she’s named Maggie, and there are two females and one male still looking for homes.

A local rescue group, In the Arms of Angels, has volunteered to vaccinate and spay or neuter the puppies to get them ready for their forever homes. Check back for more updates!

We are working with a Tucson organization, In the Arms of Angels, to vet and adopt out these three puppies. There are two females and one male (on the right).



Cute Puppy Temporarily Shuts Down the Petfinder Foundation

Noah Horton, assistant director

Today, our program assistant, Brody Anderson, brought the Petfinder Foundation to a screeching halt for about five minutes. I was on the phone talking with one of our partners when I heard the screaming begin. What started as unintelligible squealing eventually turned into one understandable word: “Puuuuupy!!!” As soon as I was off the phone I rushed in to see what all the fuss was about, and this is what I saw:

This is the culprit who brought the Petfinder Foundation to its knees.

Bringing a puppy into the Petfinder Foundation offices is a recipe for distraction. Work ground to a halt, and this little girl (who doesn’t have a name yet—any ideas?) was showered with affection. I think Scarlett, our executive director’s lab mix and another office dog, felt a little left out.

Executive director Lisa Robinson’s Lab mix, Scarlett, felt a little left out. She was given a ton of love and treats shortly after this photo was taken!

Despite our inclinations to take the day off and play with the puppy, we knew we needed to go back to work. I decided I needed the best of both worlds, and so as I write this post, the puppy is sleeping in my lap.

This is how Noah reacts when a puppy comes in the office!

As it turns out, this little girl is part of a litter of four that Brody found and nursed back to health. They look like Chow/Husky mixes, they’re approximately three months old, and all of them are adorable. Brody’s mother adopted one of them, but the other three still need homes. Stay tuned!