Category Archives: Foster Parents

Fosters Wanted

These Foster Families Hope You’ll Join Them in the Fight to Save Adoptable Animals

by Barb Natividad

Sven MemePet-lovers often wonder what kind of people are able to foster pets who are waiting for permanent homes. The answer: people just like you.

Her kids got Stephanie Anctil, who fosters dogs, involved as a foster parent. “My children wanted another dog. I was afraid they would lose interest, and I would end up caring for a new dog. So my cousin, Nikki Senecal, who works in communications with ACDC, suggested that we try fostering dogs instead. This way, my kids could get to experience many different dogs and see how much work is involved.”

Laurie Marshall, who fosters rabbits, also began fostering at the behest of her children: in her case, her daughter had a high school community service requirement. Laurie and her family had never had pets before–and Laurie points out that fostering can be a great fit for families that are currently pet-free. “Fostering is the perfect solution for people who don’t want a permanent pet. A big concern for parents is that kids will lose interest in a pet and then the parents have to take care of it. That is far less of a problem when fostering, plus a family can get a realistic sense of what’s involved in caring for a pet. I love the flexibility of being able to take a break between foster rabbits if needed, too.”

Fostering is also a great way for kids to learn about responsibility towards animals; Laurie’s daughter now pet sits for other rabbit owners. Even four-legged family members can get involved. Stephanie’s eight-year-old dog, Jet, is an important part of her family’s fostering solution. “Jet models good behavior on walks, in the car. He will correct the puppies much like a mother dog would.”

The time commitment for fostering is less than people might expect, says Kim Butler, who fosters cats and has been doing so for thirty years (even before she joined ACDC). She fosters cats while also caring for her own pets, although she keeps her own animals separate from the fosters. It may sound like she lives in a mansion, but Kim points out “you don’t need a lot of space for cats.”

So, if anyStellaball-Memeone can be a good fosterer, what makes someone successful at it? On that, Stephanie, Laurie, and Kim all agree: a good foster parent is someone who cares about animals, wants to be involved with them, and is willing to be patient, responsible, and consistent as they work with their new pets.

And these three foster parents also agree that the satisfaction that comes from seeing them adopted into a permanent home is ample reward. As Stephanie says, “It’s very rewarding when you make a good match between owner and dog and see a great friendship begin. My children have become attached to a few of our fosters, but once they meet the loving adoptive families, the kids are excited for the dog and his new family.” And Kim agrees, “the best part of fostering is finding a new home for the animals, and getting thank you e-mails from the new adopters.”

Interested in fostering an adoptable cat, dog, or rabbit? Attend ACDC’s information session September 10, 6:30 pm at the Newtown Square Library. RSVP: info@acdc.ws

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Feline Diabetes Part II: Treat, Manage, Control

How The Sugar Cat Got His Mojo Back!

In part one of our article on feline diabetes, we examined the types of diabetes, symptoms to watch for, and what to expect during a vet visit. Now we are ready to discuss the treatment options, the various types of insulin, and how you can do your own home monitoring of your cat’s blood glucose levels–saving you time, trips to the vet,  and money, not to mention less stress for your cat!

1: Proper Diet without question is the first order of business in management of diabetes. Cats are “obligate carnivores.” Obligate carnivores may eat other foods, such as vegetables, grains, or fruit, but they must eat meat as the main source of their nutrients. Cats who regularly consume a diet of poor-quality, highly processed, carbohydrate-rich food are on the fast track to becoming diabetic. The appropriate diet for a diabetic cat is a diet that is very low in carbs, low to moderate in fat, and high in proteins. (Sort of an “Atkins” diet for cats–the “Catkins” diet!)

Veterinarians usually prescribe a veterinary diet such as Purina DM, or Hills W/D or M/D. Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM, a veterinarian who has done extensive research on feline diabetes, also suggests that several very good commercially-made wet foods that will meet a diabetic cat’s needs. Many varieties of Fancy Feastcanned food meet the high protein/low carb requirements–plus the cat enjoys eating the food as it is very tasty. Blue Buffalo also produces an excellent food called “Blue Wilderness” that is mostly meat, high in protein, and low in carbs.

Sometimes merely putting the cat on the recommended diet is enough to “kick-start” the cat’s pancreas  into producing insulin, and thus avoid having to inject insulin. However, this is not always the case with cats in a more acute stage such as cats with Type I diabetes.

2: Proper Insulin is essential in managing blood glucose levels. There are several types of insulin currently in use by veterinarians. Protamine zinc insulin (PZI, or Pro-Zinc) is a very effective insulin primarily due to the fact that it is animal-based, comprised of beef and pork insulin molecules which more closely resemble natural feline insulin. It can be given at 6-12 hour intervals, allowing for good control of the diabetic cat. Other insulins currently in use include Humulin insulin, Lantus (glargine), or Levemir. Although these are all products geared for use in humans, studies have shown them to be effective in veterinary use. Your veterinarian will choose an insulin that is appropriate for your particular cat. Proper insulin syringes are important as well as they come in many different sizes and gauges. Your veterinarian will determine the appropriate size for the type of insulin for your cat.

Insulin syringes have a very thin, tiny needle and it is really very easy to inject into your cat. The insulin must be refrigerated, and it must always be mixed prior to giving an injection. This is not done by shaking the bottle, as insulin is fragile and you can damage the insulin that way. “Mix” insulin by taking the bottle, placing it between the palms of our two hands, and very gently rolling the bottle between our palms. Then we can draw the insulin from the bottle with the syringe and inject. Your veterinarian will show you how and where to give the injections. Typically it’s done further back around the hips or flank or, ideally, on the sides of the stomach. Try to rotate sites also, because repeated injections in the same site can cause a “granuloma” or knot of tissue that has poor blood supply.

3: Tight Management of Blood Glucose is the third component in managing your cat’s diabetes-and this is why home blood glucose testing has become so effective, and essential. For around $20, a blood glucose meter–just like people use–can be purchased at your local pharmacy. The most expensive part of home monitoring is the test strips for the meter. Each different meter manufacturer requires their own test strips to be used, they are not interchangeable. It pays to shop around, and some of the best pricing can be found on diabetic supply websites such as AmericanDiabetesWholesale.com.

Testing a diabetic cat

Cats can grow accustomed to having their blood sugar monitored.

Now, how exactly do you test your cat? We use the outer portion of their ear. The outer edge of a cat’s ear has very thin skin; it’s very easy to “lance” that spot of their ear. You do not need much blood, only about a drop the size of a pinhead. Once you have a droplet, then you take the meter with the test strip, dip the test strip in the droplet, and you will get a reading in about 5 seconds. Your veterinarian should be able to have one of their technicians demonstrate this for you as most veterinarians keep blood glucose meters in their offices. There is also an excellent video demonstration on YouTube.

By monitoring your cat’s blood glucose levels on a regular basis, you can see the gradual change in their daily levels, enter the readings into a log book or setup a spreadsheet in Excel, and review the readings with your vet. We followed this protocol with Miss Garfield, the diabetic cat I am fostering. When she was initially diagnosed with diabetes in October of 2010, her glucose levels were literally off the chart. When I first began testing her, her readings were over 600. Our veterinarian began with a regimen of 5 units of PZI insulin 2x per day. I was then testing her daily, and as our readings began to drop, we were able to adjust her insulin appropriately.

As of April 1, 2011 her readings were consistently in the 75-150 range so we took her off insulin–and she has been off ever since. I test her now about once a week just to make sure she’s maintaining normal levels. We are managing her with diet alone, she does not get stressed at all about doing the readings as she is used to it, and we save countless trips to the vet!

Editor’s Note added 7/20/11: Even though PZI and Humulin are very popular insulin protocols, we’d like to make note of the fact that not every insulin has to be mixed, in particular Lantus or Levemir insulin. When using either Lantus or Levemir, do not roll, shake or mix the insulin in any way. They are gentle, long lasting insulins that work great, in fact Lantus is one of the mostly widely prescribed insulins right now for feline diabetes, but if you roll or shake the vial, you will degrade the insulin and render it ineffective.
And thanks to Jennifer from FelineDiabetes.com for the reminder!

 

Acknowledgement to the following websites for valuable information:Feline Diabetes, Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkin’s website, Your Diabetic Cat, and Dr. Lisa Pierson’s website, Cat Info.

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Fostering versus Sheltering: Why Adopt an ACDC Pet

by Nikki Senecal

photo by Ezgisu Atacan, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

You’ve seen the signs in the neighborhood: “Free kittens.” Dogs come inexpensively on Craig’s List. Back in the day when classrooms had furry pets like guinea pigs, your kid might bring one home for the summer. There are still many ways to get a free pet, so why would anyone pay adoption fees?

What makes ACDC’s animals stand out among the others?

  • A Known Quantity: All ACDC animals are tested for dealing with other species as well as with human children. Even before Fido is plucked from the shelter, he or she has been rigorously tested for signs of aggression. Because ACDC’s dogs have been with a foster family for an average of 60 days, there are humans who can tell you about the schedules and quirks of your new friend. One foster parent even sends her charges to their new homes with a complete dossier. Since animals can’t talk, you’re way ahead on understanding your new friend. Priceless.
  • A Healthy Animal: no pet will be adopted out who is on (temporary) medication until they have completed their course of treatment, or have had their medical issues stabilized. You only have to read the story of Nellie to see that ACDC takes the time to ensure an animal’s health prior to adoption.
  •  Socialization: the animals ACDC rescues learn to interact with humans, other animals, and new places as warranted. Dogs who are properly socialized are less likely to be aggressive or fearful. Cats who are handled regularly learn to interact with humans in a satisfying way.  Isn’t that worth paying for?
  • Training: Foster parents want an animal who is housebroken as much as you do, and they work hard to train this behavior in puppies and kittens. Older dogs might learn new tricks from their foster parents. This type of training teaches dogs to be happy and confident. Knowing tricks can help calm energetic dogs and teach them to redirect undesirable behavior.
ACDC can’t claim our animals are perfect, but they’re headed down the right path. What is that worth to you?

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Oh Mickey You’re So Fine!

By Mandy Buhle

It has been said that cats have an innate ability to always land on their feet when they fall, no matter the height or angle. Here at Animal Coalition of Delaware County, we can proudly say that we have proven that to be a true statement! Don’t worry, we haven’t gone crazy and and started tossing cats out the window. We like to think that all cats will find a furever home, regardless of the circumstances. Mickey, a Himalayan rescued by ACDC, is such a cat. He came from a great home where he was well cared for by a woman who, due to illness, sadly became unable to care for herself or Mickey very well. As much as we all would hate to give up our own pets, sometimes misfortune happens and we are forced to make hard choices. The wonderful upside to Mickey’s story is that his owner loved him so much that she called ACDC and asked us to place him in a new home.   There are many options for rehoming a cat-some less savory than others, but by calling us, Mickey’s owner knew that Mickey would be cared for and loved until he found his next furever home, no matter how long it took. We are delighted she chose to share her adorable, beloved Mickey with us. Continue reading

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My Cat Has What?

By Betsey Cichoracki

Herpes. Ever since high school health class that word has prompted “ewws” and “gross!” in the minds of many. So when our vet informed me that our cat Coal has herpes, I thought “ewww” before even learning what feline herpes really is. Turns out a herpes virus means many things among many species. Continue reading

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New Year’s Resolution: Keep My Family Together!

By The Tidy Cat Whisperer:

2011. It is a new year. Oh yes “whoopee”. So many people are now out celebrating the passage of time and the ritualistic saying goodbye to the year just completed and the eagerly anticipated year to be. The year we’ve just left behind-although flawed and fraught with inequities- is at least familiar territory. Some people are anxious to leave that with which they are familiar. You know, the old “change” thing. Even if we are in a bad situation, we HATE change. The new year ahead?  Unknown territory, and therefore subject to much speculation-and not just where people are concerned.

The Stinky Cat and the Tidy Cat Whisperer (TCW) don’t always agree on everything: but one thing we DO see eye to eye on is the fact that, in the year just completed more pets have been turned into animal shelters and rescues than the aforementioned shelters have room for. Which means that some of these pets never find a second chance for love and a forever home. It is the sad, yet inevitable result of life in a post-economic-meltdown world.

One of the prime reasons that cats and dogs are turned into shelters is due to dreaded “inappropriate elimination”: in other words, failure to use the litterbox (cats) or poor housetraining habits (dogs).  Many rescues and shelters are overwhelmed by more strays than in previous years, coupled with more animals turned in due to financial considerations than usual. Today’s new “economic reality” has been a disaster for animal rescues and shelters, not to mention most human welfare resources. That is why TCW and Stinky  Cat are here: to help.

According to TCW, “often all too often litterbox issues could have been avoided if a little more thought and planning had been in place.” In other words, if you already have a cat and you are not sure how your cat would react to another cat in your home, then before you decide to bring a new cat in do some research. Ask your vet how to integrate a new cat into an environment with an existing cat. Ask friends who have multiple cats how they were able to integrate the cats. And for pete’s sake, ask all these questions BEFORE you make the decision to bring another animal into your house. And, although declawing a cat makes life convenient for people, it quite often makes life for your cat very inconvenient and in many cases can lead to inappropriate urination.

The Stinky Cat adds that “inconsistent housebreaking or lack of any sort of training at all can contribute to a dog’s poor housetraining habits. A dog without proper housebreaking is not the fault of the dog; it is the fault of the people who did not spend the time to train.” Typical life situation: Cute puppy, family loves the puppy, brings the puppy home. All is right with the world. Then reality sets in. Mom & dad work 8 hours a day, kids are in school, no one has time to house train the dog. Yet, the dog is the one who pays the price by being turned into the local shelter, where an uncertain future awaits. Note to dog owners: no matter how old the dog is, it is never too late to house train a dog. It CAN be done-and often is very successfully.

Unfortunately people all too often choose the “easy” way out, either by medication (Xanax, Buspar) or by simply deciding that they can no longer “deal with the situation” and the only alternative is to rehome the pet. This blogpost is a plea to ALL pet owners to please consider every option before making the decision to rehome your pet.

Many vets, rescue groups, dog trainers and shelters will spend time working with you and your pet to try and help resolve the issues that might prevent you and your pet from enjoying your “furrever time” together. In a world that has morphed into moment-to-moment, day-by-day, we remind you that one way to ensure the stability of your own household is to make sure the needs of all the members of your household-including your pets- are properly attended to.

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Filed under ACDC News, Adopting A Dog, Animal Rescue, Animals in our care, Foster Parents, Pet Tips, Pet Tips - Cats, Pet Tips - Dogs, Pet Tips - Guinea Pigs, Pet Tips - Rabbits, Uncategorized

Big Changes for a Little Guy

ACDC Foster Mom Jennifer Citrone with ChuChu, who she is currently fostering

“I want to provide Chu Chu with a fun, happy, positive environment while he is here—something he didn’t have before,” shares Animal Coalition of Delaware County (ACDC) Foster Mom Jennifer Citrone. At the moment, Jennifer is fostering Chu Chu, a tiny five-pound Chihuahua, who was found fending for himself in an abandoned apartment in North Philadelphia.

Chu Chu hadn’t been well cared for. For starters, when he was rescued, his nails were so long that they were almost growing back into his little paw pads. In addition, when Chu Chu arrived at Jennifer’s home, he was sneezing a bit and by the next day, his sneezing had gotten worse. He also began coughing. Jennifer took him to Stoney Creek Veterinary Hospital, where he was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection and given medication.

Animals like Chu Chu who are rescued by ACDC are cared for by an approved ACDC foster parent in that person’s own home 24/7. ACDC foster parents provide love, attention, socialization, food, and other essentials to their foster animals until their permanent, adoptive families are found. The cost of vet care for the animals is covered by the organization, not the foster parents. Chu Chu will stay with Jennifer until he is over his illness and then he will be available for adoption.

Things are definitely looking up for little Chu Chu and we are certain that he will have no trouble finding his furever family soon thanks to his devoted foster mom! “I love being able to provide dogs with a positive place to stay,” shares Jennifer, who has fostered three dogs for ACDC thus far. “ACDC is also one of the smaller organizations and every one involved genuinely cares for animals. We’re not in it for the money—we’re in it for the satisfaction of finding the animals we foster a wonderful new home.” Learn more about fostering for ACDC. To read more about Chu Chu, click here.

August Update: Chu Chu was adopted in May and is doing great. His new mom, who renamed him Tucker, reports that he has settled in fully to his new digs. He has his own little beds all over the house, as well as friends at the park across the street where they go for walks every day! Also, his adoptive mom shares that he goes everywhere with her in his doggy bag!

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