You’ve probably heard it before: spay and neuter your pets. This phrase has been iterated so much that for some it risks losing meaning. So, for World Spay Day on February 28, 2017, we want to talk about why this surgery is essential for keeping your pet healthy and happy.
World Spay Day began in 1995 as a response to an ever-present issue– pet over-population. A female dog can have two litters a year, averaging 10 puppies per litter. Cats can have up to three litters per year, with between four and six kittens per litter.
That averages to 20 puppies per year and 15 kittens per year for every intact pet. Then those puppies and kittens who are not “fixed” begin to have babies as soon as four months old for kittens and five months old for many dog breeds. If you multiply that by the number of pets, that equates to a massive number!
After thinking about the math, it becomes apparent why it’s essential to spay or neuter your pet, but there are other, less obvious reasons as well. Many people believe that if a cat is kept indoors there is no need to spay or neuter them, but cats who go into heat can display aggression or destructive behavior. It also only takes one escapade as a feline escape artist for your female cat to become pregnant, or for your male cat to impregnate a female.
The cycle of cats and dogs going into heat but not becoming pregnant is also associated with pyometra, a serious type of uterine infection which can ultimately be fatal. Spaying or neutering an animal early on helps prevent this. Spaying or neutering at an early age can also reduce the amount of breast tumors that occur on animals.
It has been shown that “fixing” an animal early is best, and leads to a quicker recovery. Generally, an animal can be spayed or neutered at two pounds or two months of age. Animals who are altered early have a much lower instance of complications, and altering before marking behaviors start occurring usually prevents these behaviors from happening.
If you’re ready to be a hero to your furry friends, we’re here to help!
PAWS offers low-cost spay or neuter surgeries to pets of qualified low-income individuals. We spay and neuter cats, dogs, kittens, puppies and rabbits. We are working to help end the suffering of unwanted and homeless animals in our community by preventing unplanned litters. On average PAWS performs 2,316 spay and neuter surgeries per year. Spaying and neutering is good for the community and a great way to help our animal friends live longer, healthier lives.
We are still treating 17 of the Glaucous-winged Gulls from the Tacoma die off event. They are all regaining strength and have moved to outside enclosures.
We often see gulls flying in the sky in the Seattle, taking strolls along the beach, loafing in parking lots, and floating in the waves of Puget Sound. But have you ever wondered more about them? Gulls are one of nature’s boldest birds and there are 22 species that call North America home.
Although there are so many different species they are often lumped together and referred to as “seagulls” but this is a misnomer and an inaccurate depiction of where gulls actually live. They don’t actually go out to sea but stick to more coastal areas in lakes, rivers, marshes and cities.
The gull species we are currently treating at PAWS are Glaucous-winged Gulls and Glaucous-winged Gull hybrids. Yes, hybrids. Gulls species sometimes mate with gulls of other species producing hybrids. In our area Glaucous-winged Gulls (below left) mate with Western Gulls (below right) as their breeding grounds overlap; these gulls are often called Olympic or Puget Sound Gulls (below center). Hybrid gulls will have characteristics of both species and can sometimes be hard to identify.
Glaucous-winged gulls are a large gull with a white head and underparts. Their back if silvery gray and their wingtips are medium gray with white spots near the tip. They also have pinkish legs and adults have a yellow bill with a red spot towards the tip. Their wingspan is four to four and a half feet wide and they weigh approximately two and a half pounds. When they are young chicks they are a sandy color with brown spots to blend in with their surroundings.
Glaucous-winged Gulls are colonial nesters who make their nests in large groups on coastal cliffs, rocky islands and sometimes on flat roofs. They forage on fish and marine invertebrates and scavenge on carrion (dead animals). They capture food near the surface of the water or on shore and often steal food from other seabirds. They are opportunistic foragers and will eat whatever food is available which is why they do so well in more urban environments.
The oldest recorded Glaucous-winged Gull was at least 23 years old. It was banded in British Columbia in Washington in 2001.
As I sat down in my chair with a strong cup of coffee, notebook and pen in hand, I knew I had an important day ahead of me. It was Humane Lobby Day, a chance for animal advocates from around the region to meet and speak with state representatives and senators about the bills and topics most important to us.
Navigating the Washington State Capitol campus in Olympia, I found myself in awe. It is not often that someone like myself, who spends most of my days surrounded by children eager to learn about animals, gets to sit down across from a Washington State Senator.
However, lo and behold, when you bring up the topic of animals, the stories unfold. A legislative assistant enthusiastically shared about the cats she has adopted from PAWS over the years. One Senator adopted her favorite dog from PAWS. Through these stories, it becomes clear that animal welfare topics are bipartisan issues. Everyone has a story, and the importance of taking the time to listen and share cannot be overlooked.
Animal welfare issues are incredibly important to us here at PAWS, and we make sure that our legislators and policy makers know that. However, we cannot do it alone. By taking the time to voice your opinion, you are engaging with your elected officials so they can best represent you and your positions.
Visit your local representatives and senators in Olympia, give them a call, write a letter, or send them an email. Check out our Legislative Watch for information about the bills that PAWS is supporting that can directly improve the lives of animals. Take a look at our Action Toolkit for specific ways that you can get involved.
By supporting humane legislation, we can work to help animals through positive, powerful legislation.
2016 was another busy year at PAWS Wildlife Center. We treated more than 4,500 patients (some pictured below); 250 more patients than in 2015.
Some were patients we don’t see very often at the Wildlife Center including a Great Egret, a Guadalupe Fur Seal, a Virginia Rail and a Warbling Vireo. And others were common species including eight Bobcats, over 1,100 baby birds, 20 Cooper’s Hawks, and over 150 Dark-eyed Juncos.
A special thank you to over 300 volunteers who donated thousands of hours of their time in 2016 feeding, transporting, caring for and cleaning up after our patients to ensure they have a healthy environment in which to grow and heal.
We also want to thank people like you for your continued support so far 2017 is stacking up to be another busy year and we could not do it without you!
The holiday season represents a time of plenty for many families; big dinners, holiday pastries, warm drinks and spending time with loved ones. In the animal kingdom, this season represents quite the opposite.
Some animals migrate to more prosperous climates, while others bundle up and wait for spring. The wildlife who are determined to stay through the cold use various techniques to combat the harsh elements, one of which is torpor. Some of our biggest and smallest patients in our wildlife hospital utilize torpor to survive through the harder times.
Torpor can be related to “sleep mode” on a computer. It is an energy saving state initiated by lowering the metabolism. Many smaller species will enter a state of torpor daily, for example hummingbirds. Hummingbirds naturally have a high metabolism and body temperature, therefore they expend lots of energy during the day. At night while resting, hummingbirds go into torpor to conserve energy.
As with all torpid states, metabolism slows along with a reduction in breathing rate, heart rate, blood flow and body temperature. A body in torpor could even reach ambient temperature, which in the winter time can be near freezing. Despite these extreme changes, the small hummingbird is still able to wake itself in the morning to begin its day.
If prolonged or extended, the state of torpor is called hibernation. This term usually conjures images of large bears sleeping through subzero temperatures in a warm cave. In actuality, hibernation is not as continuous or even necessary for bears as once believed.
Misconceptions relate torpor and hibernation events to a drop in temperature, but even animals in temperate and tropical climates will hibernate. The true cause for animals to go into a torpor or hibernation is the decrease in food availability.
Bears in zoos, and even some of our bear patients here at PAWS, will not hibernate because food is provided year round. To prompt a bear in captivity to hibernate, caretakers must slowly diminish their meals.
Even the length of hibernation can change, as the animal will only halt its bouts of hibernation when there is food to sustain its survival. Bears in Alaska, who are exposed to harsher, longer winters, will hibernate for longer periods of time than bears in Washington, who experience much milder conditions. Instead of expending energy to find the scarce amount of food in the winter seasons, bears wait for food to regrow and return.
While wildlife is experiencing a torpid state, they are extremely vulnerable and unable to respond to their surroundings. If you do find any wildlife who is unresponsive or gives you cause for concern about its well-being, please call our wildlife hospital at 425.412.4040. Our expert staff will be able to advise you on how to provide the best help for the animal.
Ever heard that saying “you can’t teach an old dog a new trick?” Well here at PAWS we’d have to disagree. You’re never too old to learn!
2017 is our 50th anniversary year, and even after all those years of caring for more than 245,000 animals, we are still learning new things. Our expert staff and volunteers strive to keep up on emerging best practices in the fields of wildlife rehabilitation, companion animal welfare and education, and we realize that education within our community is just as important as within the organization.
Education programs at PAWS don’t just focus on kids, we aim to keep our adult community just as informed. These community education events for adults cover a wide variety of topics aimed at keeping you up to date on best practices. Having a little fun is also mandatory!
Cooking with PAWS: Go Vegan held for the first time last March educated participants about animal friendly diets and their connection to animal welfare through a hands-on cooking demonstration with a local chef, including a tasting. If you missed it, you can download the recipes.
Cat Behavior 101 and 201 continue to be our most popular adult events. Well, we all know our feline friends have very high expectations of their people! Participants learn about how to better understand their pampered felines, including how to solve common household challenges such as litter box usage and introductions to new pets and people.
Baby on Board held at Brightwater Environmental Center last April was a fabulous introduction to baby season at PAWS Wildlife Center. Presented by our very own naturalist and wildlife expert, Jen Mannas, participants learned about what it takes to care for orphaned wildlife patients at PAWS, how to provide “baby proof” habitat in your own backyard, and how to know if a baby animal needs help and when to leave them alone.
Looking to the future now, and fast approaching on January 25 (6-7 p.m.), we’re excited for Forever Fido—the perfect event for any dog lovers in the Seattle area. Our canine behavior expert, Caren Malgesini, will provide tips on ensuring your dog is living the happiest, healthiest life possible, and she’ll also answer any canine questions you might have. Held at Seattle’s Dogwood Play Park, your four legged friend is also invited! Register for this event today!
Author Tim Johnson captured it perfectly with “There is no end to learning, but there are many beginnings.” Whether you strive to be the best pet parent to your dog or cat, or to provide that dream backyard habitat for our wildlife, keep learning, as you can never know too much.
'Twas several nights before Christmas, and all throughout PAWS, homeless dogs and cats are finding new homes in time for the holidays, while our overwintering wildlife patients are safe in the care of our dedicated rehabilitators.
There's also an animal out there who's working harder than ever during the holiday season and who—though rarely given a second thought by most adults—is on the minds of many of the kids we're welcoming to our education programs right now.
When fourth grade students in a recent Kids Who Care program were asked to choose a favorite animal and consider how to meet that animal's basic needs, most students chose an animal like an owl, squirrel or cat.
One student chose a reindeer. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, to be precise.
He may seem like a fictional creature to you, but to some kids, Rudolph is the epitome of an amazing animal who we share the world with. After all, he has the same basic needs as all other animals. He needs food (carrots), water (normal water), shelter (North Pole), family (Mrs. and Mr. Santa Clause), space (horse’s barn), and exercise (running in the air).
So, this holiday season, remember all the creatures, big and small, who we share the world with. And consider how all of these different animals can provide opportunities for kids to connect with them and want to help.
Whether it be the squirrel in your backyard, the dog curled up at your feet, or the reindeer flying through the night sky on Christmas Eve, let's celebrate the ways kids and adults show compassion and help animals.
If you feel inspired to give, consider donating to support our education programs, such as Kids Who Care.
You can find out more information about scheduling a Kids Who Care program in your school here.
Rob and Raquel adopted Nova (previously Hilda) in May of 2016. During the past eight months Nova has made friends with her two feline housemates while settling in to her forever home. They have already gone on many adventures together, and buried a few bones along the way.
What made you decide to adopt from a shelter? We really liked the idea of rescuing rather than going to a breeder. It just seemed like a more responsible action.
What brought you to PAWS? Two reasons. First, Rob used to volunteer there in the cat room, so he knew the approach PAWS takes to making sure the right pet gets the right owner, and the excellent care they receive up until that point. Second, adopting from them creates space for other animals in need to find their new home. It’s a win-win really.
How did you first find out about Nova? We really lucked out, honestly. We were interested in a German Shepherd and had only recently seriously discussed adopting a dog. We had seen some postings of other dogs on the PAWS website and decided to stop by and see if any would be a good match with us.
There were several dogs we had some possible interest in, but we were still on the fence. As we were walking out of the kennel area we saw Nova walk past with someone. We followed them back to her kennel and staked it out until we were able to get some time to play with her. She had just arrived so she didn’t even have her papers up yet. Talk about perfect timing!
Nova and Zoey cuddling
What led to her name change? Haha well, I'd like to call my girlfriend, Raquel, and myself avid gamers. But I would be wrong if I did that—it’s definitely just me. However she likes to watch this one game that I play—Heroes of the Storm. One of my favorite characters within that game is called Nova. The name just fit her well, so we went with it.
What was it that most attracted you to her? We loved her mix of German Shepherd and Siberian Husky. Her gorgeous coat, pointy ears, crazy curly tail, and different colored eyes are absolutely beautiful.
Once we had some play time with her, we also fell in love with her behavior. She wasn’t loud or defensive about food when we were interacting with her. She also wasn’t too high energy, which was important based on our housing.
Nova and Raquel taking a nap
How would you describe her personality? She’s a gentle princess. Doesn’t bark much, plays nicely with her sisters (two tortoiseshell cats). She hates getting her paws wet in the rain and will protest when we take her out to potty in the wet.
How was your adoption experience with PAWS? About as great as one would expect. They were very honest and upfront about anything. So good, in fact, that Rob did a 24 hour video game marathon (did we mention he likes to play video games?) on twitch to raise money for PAWS. We were able to raise $125 which we were thrilled about! Stay tuned as we may be doing this again in March of 2017!
Briefly talk us through your first journey home and how the “settling in” period went. It was a transition at home for sure. Rob was definitely over-protective of the cats when they would interact (which didn’t happen for quite some time after getting her). It took a little bit for things to settle, and a lot of hard work. But now there is definitely a “pack” mentality in the home that all creatures understand.
Rob and Nova on a camping trip
What have you experienced together since Nova came into your life? We love to camp—a lot. In fact, the day after we got her we took her on a Memorial Day camping trip with us (up near Skykomish). She loved it! But the story gets better. Among the many toys we brought with us for her that trip was a bone (we weren’t sure what she liked yet, so we gave her plenty of variety). When we gave the bone to her in the campsite, she promptly buried it.
Fast-forward about two months, and we were up camping at the same campground again. We brought her to the site where she had buried the bone. Not only was it still there; she walked right up to the spot and dug it up. She carried it around proudly for everyone to see before burying it, yet again, in a different site. I’ll have to get back to you next summer to see if she digs it up again!
We also took her out in the recent snow, and she had the time of her life!
In honor of our current patient of the week and the large number of herons that were recently spotted in Edmonds our species spotlight this week focuses on Great Blue Herons.
The Great Blue Herons is the largest heron in North America with a wingspan of 5.5 to 6.5 feet, height around 4 feet and weigh roughly five pounds. They are year-round residents of Washington and can most frequently be seen anywhere there is a wetland.
They are known for their patience; you will often see them standing very still staring into the water for long periods of time. This is how they hunt; they stand very still or move very slowly waiting for prey to swim or fly by. They are carnivorous and mainly eat fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, insects and sometimes even other birds.
Great Blue Herons are solitary except during the breeding season when they typically nest in rookeries with other herons. One of these rookeries you can see in the spring and summer at the Marymoor Park.
This week, as we reflect on what we are thankful for, the first thing that immediately springs to mind is our wonderful volunteers.
To say that we’re grateful for our volunteers here at PAWS is an understatement – they are our lifeblood and we would not be able to fulfil our mission without them! We appreciate how selfless they are in giving up their free time to provide care and comfort for wild and companion animals who have found themselves in vulnerable circumstances and in need of our help.
Our volunteers embody true compassion, and we see the evidence of this every single day as more than 50 individuals work diligently alongside staff filling a variety of shifts helping cats, dogs and wildlife.
All of our volunteers make a commitment to be here each week, and it is so inspiring to see the way that they give their precious time and abilities to the animals. Besides coming in for their regular shifts, whenever we put out alerts for extra help they’re always answered in abundance.
Whether it’s an offsite adoption event, a community event to help the homeless, putting together adoption packets, being extra help for a transfer of animals coming in, or during a holiday, they always heed the call to help.
“Thank you volunteers! Every day I am inspired by your dedication and tenacity. You come to volunteer with a smile on your face and a ‘can do’ attitude. I love when you learn something new or get to help your favorite animal. Your enthusiasm and glee brightens my day!” – Emily Meredith, Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager
Our volunteers are never shy to dive in and deal with all of the aspects of providing the best care for our companion animals and wildlife patients alike. Whether that means disinfecting cages, doing dishes or laundry, or tube-feeding a sick Gull, each one of our volunteer makes a direct contribution to the health, healing and well-being of the animals in our care, every day.
One of the amazing things that our volunteers experience is getting to know the other volunteers on their shifts – sometimes from completely different walks of life that may never have intersected except for this common passion that brought them together at PAWS!
The dedication, sweat, and hard work that each of our volunteers brings is truly amazing. Their passion inspires us and we are proud to work with, and know, all of these amazing people. From all of the staff at PAWS, we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.