Dozens of cats and dogs are homeless in Clallam County.
Whether it's overpopulation, death of their owners, abandonment or neglect, hundreds of animals are euthanized each year on the peninsula. Using a 14-foot heated trailer with windows that pop open, Olympic Peninsula Humane Society volunteers are traveling west to east throughout the county to find adoptive owners for pets. The truck and trailer unit has 12 kennels and can hold six or seven cats and four or five dogs - six dogs if one rides in the truck with the driver. Money to purchase the rig was given by a generous donor who wishes to remain unidentified.
Scott Chandler, the humane society's executive director, said the truck and trailer combo allows the nonprofit agency to find homes for pets in areas that otherwise might not utilize the organization.
"It's often difficult for people to get to us and that limits the amount of animals we can place," Chandler said. "We need to service all the areas of our county and this (mobile unit) is one way to do that. It gives us the opportunity to go anywhere - any community event that's available. I need about 20 feet of space and that's it."
Off-site adoption outreaches using the trailer are less traumatic for animals. What used to require multiple kennel changes and traveling in small animal carriers now consists of only one kennel transfer.
"They are able to enjoy a quiet ride in a dark environment without a bunch of simulation," Chandler said. "Once we are there, we pop open the sides and the animals can see out and they are a lot less stressed when they get back to the kennel."
Upon arrival at the intended destination, the adoption process takes about 10 minutes, Chandler said.
In the new year, Chandler hopes to use the mobile adoption outreach unit at least three or four times a week. "It makes sense to use it," he said. "We've had good success everywhere we've gone (so far) with at least one adoption."
Upcoming outings include a trip to the Sequim Dairy Queen on Monday, Feb. 23, and the KONP Home Show Feb. 28 and March 1. When no official events are scheduled, volunteers will make an attempt to appear at the Port Angeles Farmers Market on Wednesdays.
"It's like anything else," Chandler continued. "It's a tool to get people involved and interested in what we are doing here and to help us help the animals."
Volunteers will continue hosting adoption outreaches at Petco on Saturdays.
Changes are happening at the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society. Ten recently built outdoor canine runs - 10-feet by 25-feet - allow dogs more outdoor playtime. Volunteers are putting finishing touches on the runs but expect the project to be completed by spring.
The humane society is facing a possible budget cut from the city from $80,000 a year to $47,000. Such a large decrease in funding would be detrimental to the organization, according to Chandler.
"Like so many other nonprofits, the economy goes down and the need goes up," Chandler said. "The economy hits us all and people are having to make the decision, 'Do I feed the kids or feed the dog?' And we end up getting more animals."
Chandler encourages community members to look for donation boxes marked "Olympic Peninsula Humane Society" at stores. "A buck can change the luck of an animal and find them that forever home," he said.
Extreme makeover: Shelter edition
The Olympic Peninsula Humane Society is competing to win a shelter makeover valued up to $1 million. For more information, go online to www.cchumane.com and click on the "Help us win a shelter makeover!" link. Photos and descriptions of animals available for adoption also are available online. To speak with a humane society representative, call 457-8206 or stop by 2105 Highway 101 West in Port Angeles between 10 a.m.-
5 p.m., Monday-Saturday.
Cold weather tips
for animal owners
With freezing rain, wind, snow and outdoor temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, the proper care of pets is more important than ever.
Neglect, even in the smallest ways, can lead to death for animals, said Scott Chandler, Olympic Peninsula Humane Society executive director. "Don't leave your animals out in extreme weather," he warned, defining "extreme" weather as any weather, hot or cold, that an animal isn't used to. "You wouldn't want to sleep in an old, cold doghouse, so why should Fido?"
For outdoor animals - such as horses, cows and other livestock - access to fresh, clean water is vital. "Ice and snow does not give them the amount of water they need," Chandler said firmly, encouraging animal owners to change water buckets and remove ice at least once a day, twice a day if possible. "They need flowing water."
If a person or family is having difficulty properly taking care of a pet or livestock, for whatever reasons, humane society volunteers are on hand to help, Chandler reminded. "If you are in need, let us take care of your animal. That's what we are here for and we will not judge you," he promised. "If you have stock or animals you cannot feed, call and find out what we can do to help you."
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals gives these 10 cold weather tips to pet owners:
• Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. Cats that are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.
• During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
• Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm - dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.
• Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws and his paw pads may bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
• Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a shorthaired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
• Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
• Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.
• Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him - and his fur - in tip-top shape.
• Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
• Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
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