Thursday, September 29, 2016

Scrub Wearing Human Tornadoes Skip Lunch, Save Lives.

As far as abandonments go it was an innocuous one. Instead of a pet, two forlorn sandwiches sat forgotten on the lunch table. Besides them two containers of soup were rapidly cooling. 

Meanwhile, back in cat triage, this was happening:

You guessed correctly - it was a kitten. 
Kitten. Or to be more accurate, about 34 of them. Some strays, some surrenders, some transferred from a nearby overwhelmed shelter. So the picture should really look like this.

Which means this is a whole lotta kittens. 
Plus four more of them.

Each and everyone of them requiring two separate shots, a triage exam, dewormer, flea treatment and a blood draw. If you're lucky, you get this kitten:

And this is an adorable Hallmark card cuddly model kitten. 
But sometimes you get this kitten:

And this is a kitten that is pretty determined to skip that whole vaccine thing. 
And he needs to be taken care of, too. Fingers beware.

That lunch belongs to the ladies that never sit down, the always-in-motion, the unsung heroes: the vet techs of HSSV.

Only nine of them here with Cody the dog filling in for the remaining four. 
 And it's probably not getting eaten any time soon.

While it's well know we have the best vets in the universe, the thirteen women standing behind them are a huge part of what makes the magic happen and allows us to save so very many lives. In addition to assisting the docs in surgery and appointments, they also handle a lot of the medical care that our animals need. 

Shooting through the building like be-scrubbed torpedos, bearing enormous carts of medications and charts, we asked the techs to make a list of what a typical day looks like for them. Are you ready?

First, there's just the regular meds: around 100 medications given out every day to different animals in the shelter. Anyone want to try and pill ten cats, let alone fifty a day?

You think I'm taking that pill? Bring it, sister. Bring it. 
Plus the triages. Every animal that comes in gets what those kittens up there are getting - exams, shots, bloodwork. The day they logged? Thirty four triages. THIRTY FOUR. A transfer had come in, which is not unusual. So after you finish all those pills, get the needles ready. Being the amazing caring rock stars that our techs are, they manage to do each one as quickly and gently as possible. Case in point:

We actually have an awesome video of them triaging a kitten in two minutes but it wouldn't upload. So you get the uninspiring still of the very inspiring Naadia. 
But wait, there's more! A foster pooch needs a nail trim and an anal gland release. If you're not familiar with anal gland expression, it's...quite something. It involves the back end of the dog. And squeezing. And while some dogs don't mind so much, this dog did. It really, really, really did.

This is a stunt dog - not an actual photo of THE angry dog. Though this dog is angry.
While no one was injured, it took them thirty minutes to get the little muffin calmed down enough to get through it. After we're done with this little ball of fury, there's up to seven more foster appointments to get through. Some are health checks, some are vaccines and if they're routine, the Unstoppable Tech Army does them. 

Are we ready to assist in surgery now? Wait for it... there's an emergency. A nearly dead kitten brought in a box.

Not nearly dead now. Very happy. Thanks guys. 
Yup, Britney the kitten. She's all better now. If you don't know her story, check her out. But emergencies aren't uncommon. First thing in the morning was an emergency appointment of sick kittens. And after Britney is saved, another kitten comes in, anemic with fleas. A blood transfusion is hooked up for that kitty. 

A little reminder we're still on one day here. And while we have thirteen rock star techs, not all of them are every day. 

But yes, back to the surgery assisting bit.

Thumbs up for surgery!
There are thirty to forty surgeries done here pretty much daily. While most of them are spays and neuters...

Thank you for making this a one time gig, spay/neuter folks. I need sleep. 
Some of them are a good bit more complicated. 

Like those new tripod motorcycles, I'm built for speed. 
Today there's a kitten with a crushed tail that needs to be spayed and have the tail amputated. Our medical department did such an awesome job that she not only recovered, she got adopted a few days later. 

That's Amber, the tail-less kitten but not her adopter. 
They also do the dental cleanings and get the xrays done. On this day there were five of them. If they need extractions or extra work, the vets do it but the techs make a lot of stinky mouths clean and pain free again. 

Check out  my killer new smile!
So while our vet techs are pinging all over the building, forgetting their lunches, checking in the new kids, assisting in surgeries, re-assuring foster pets and dealing with emergencies and the occasional demon kitten, we need to take a moment to offer a huge round of applause to each and everyone of them. 

We are enormously grateful to have the fantastic medical resources and facilities we have that allow us to save so many. We're super grateful for the support that makes all of that possible. But we're also grateful for the best, busiest, vet techs in the universe. 

Naadia, Cindy, Megan, Cathy, Lauren, Michelle, Fumiyo, Candice, Katrina, Jen, Misha, Jo, Karen, Karla - we love you all.

And so do the animals you save.

Actual vet tech Megan with real puppy. 
We don't know about the rest of you, but we're exhausted after just reading this. *

* It should probably be mentioned that a lot of our techs are also foster parents, too. Talk about taking your work home with you. 
** We do actually let our vet techs eat. On the day this tracked, though, several of them left sandwiches on the table to deal with an emergency giving a provocative opening. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Five Times The HSSV Dogs Feel We Let Them Down.

Being in a shelter, even a shelter as awesome at HSSV, is rough. You're homeless, you don't know what's going to happen next, you're wondering why your forever home won't just show up and adopt you already - there's a lot going on. While we (and our amazing volunteers) try to make this transitional phase as easy as possible, we can't always be on point. Lately the dogs have been submitting complaints about things and in the interest of transparency we wanted to give them a chance to air their grievances publicly. Here's five times this week where our pooches felt we dropped the ball.

1) When We Didn't Give Claude That Cookie. 

Do you see this face? This is the face of sadness and cookie-starvation. How could you?
Check out the look on his face - it's obvious we messed up big time here. Can't we see how sad he is? How much he wants it? Yes, he did just have five other cookies. But he didn't have THAT cookie - the one in our treat bag. And he knows it. And he's deeply, deeply disappointed in us. 

2) When We Let The Creepy Stuffed Frog Menace This Chi Puppy.

It's crawling on me. Why is it crawling on me? Make it stop. 

Seriously, that look in the froggy's eyes is unsettling. It's supposed to be a toy. Why is it glaring? Why isn't it smiling? What if it's one of those weird, poisonous frogs? Chi Puppy feels let down. Yes, he has a million other toys. But this one crawling on him? Completely unsatisfactory. Bring him ten new toys. Stat. And some of those cookies we didn't give Claude. 

You think you've got problems? I've got this duck pointing at me. 

3) When We Failed To Get Mamas Seven Nannies.

This is one more than the Jolie-Pitt clan. HELP!
Mamas had no idea she had gotten herself into this mess. One moment you're a little pudgy, the next minute you have seven squeaking jellybeans rooting around on you. Yes, we did transfer her and her kids from a rural shelter in the valley. And yes, she and said jellybeans are safely ensconced in one of our awesome, loving foster homes right now but still - she could use a hand here. Don't those celebrity families have one kid for each nanny? Shouldn't she? She did NOT sign up for this. 

4) When We Stopped Rubbing The Belly.

And if you must stop, you can go get me a cookie while you're up.
The belly. It must be rubbed. You must not stop rubbing the belly. There have been several times in which someone was not available to rub the belly. Sometimes over a span of several hours. This is completely unacceptable. Any span of more than forty five minutes without belly rubbing is not workable and must be remedied immediately. Get to it. 

5) When We..

Actually nothing. Cookie thinks everything is pretty cool, actually. She digs it. She's just going to do her romping thing, go to a small dog play group, go for some walks, whatever. That whole 'needing a forever family' thing is kind of a drag but she's counting on us to figure it out for her. And by us, she means the us that involves you guys, too. 

While we're awesome at the whole finding homes (and foster homes) bit, we obviously can't shield them from every moment of cookie and belly rub deprivation and the odd disturbing stuffed toy. We can help keep other dogs like Mamas from finding themselves in that situation through our low cost spay and neuter services.  And we can urge good folks like you to come in and hang out with them. So stop by

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Kitten That Almost Wasn't.

This is Britney. She's named after Britney Spears. More on that later. 

Can you get the laser pointer out now? I'm bored.

She's friendly, outgoing, a laser pointer addict - a pretty awesome kitten.

Sure, she dances a bit when she walks but it's not a big deal. And no, it's not why she's named after Britney Spears. 

Kitten does not dance like this. 
The most amazing thing about her is not how she acts, but the fact she's breathing, walking, and being the pretty normal, awesome kitten that she is. Because Britney was, as Dr. Berger put it, "About 90% dead when we met her. Possibly 95% dead."

Helpful graph depicting how bad Britney's situation was. 

At three months old she weighed less than two pounds. She had huge wounds. Worst of all, she just wasn't moving. Just a sad pile of kitten with a barely discernible pulse lacking the strength to even move her head. 

It didn't look good.

Someone gave her fluids as she was seriously dehydrated. Someone offered her a plate of food to see if they could get a response. They put it next to her head.

And Britney, as close to gone as she was, found the strength to pick up her head and plant it firmly into that plate of wet food. Splat. A gravelly little tongue began frantically trying to lick up the wet food.

If this kitten was going to try this hard, so was our medical team. 

Safely burrito-ed under heating blanket.
If you ask Dr. Berger, she'll tell you vet tech Megan saved Britney. If you ask Megan, she'll tell you Berger saved her. So this part of the story is a bit unclear. These are the facts we know:

All day, Britney remained in intensive care. Her head wounds were cleaned, she was given fluids and small amounts of food every few hours. She still couldn't move but by the end of the day she was a solid only-85%-dead. 

This was actually taken at her 'less than 60% dead phase'.
Megan, despite having worked all day and having bottle baby foster kittens, brought Britney home with her and monitored her not only all that night, but every night since then. 

(Megan is kind of a rock star, as are all of our techs. More on that in next week's blog).

And after a few days, she was probably only a solid 70% dead and this happened:

She walked. The smallest thing ever but a huge thing for the more-dead-than-not kitten. Britney, like Britney Spears in 2008, was going through a very bad spell. It seemed unthinkable that she could come back from it. But she was fighting her way back like the superstar she was. 

And so it went. Britney came to work with Megan, staying in the medical ward for treatment during the day and spent her nights with Megan (does that woman ever sleep?). Slowly, she retreated from death's door. 

A little chunkier, a little furrier, a little more active. 
Week by week she gained weight, her head healed, her fur got thicker, she started moving and walking more and more. She met new people and made friends..

How does a kitten that skinny have such big paws??

Which wasn't too hard as she's ridiculously friendly. She got sassy about belly rubs...

Like her namesake, she does 'fierce and sassy' well. 
And learned to love to play. Which is where your part of the story starts. Yes you. The one reading this. We don't know what got Britney into the mess that Megan and Dr. B got her out of. We do know that she wound up with some neurological damage that doesn't hurt her but means her front legs and back legs don't always head in the same direction. 

Exhibit A:

We've done tests and x-rays and everything and she's fine - just wobbly. She can have a totally normal life but can't have cat trees or anything tall she can jump off of. Or fall off of. 

A normal life with a loving family that understands the few limitations she does have. Someone like you, maybe. This kitty is a hard core superstar - she survived the unsurvivable and came out of it sweet, loving and incredibly normal. Who wouldn't want to live with her?

This Week's Takeaways?
  • Britney needs a home with super-loving people who don't own a cat tree. 
  • Our vet staff is absolutely amazing.
  • Don't ever, ever give up hope. Our vet staff didn't. Britney didn't. You shouldn't, either.

Carry on, then.

And if you lurf what we do, you can donate to help animals like Britney here

*But wait - Britney didn't look that rough in these pictures? I didn't see any head wounds? Believe us, Britney looked a lot, lot worse when we first saw her. If you're wondering why we don't have pictures of her at the very beginning, there's a good reason. We don't show gross out pictures and we don't believe that anyone - human or animal - wants to be seen on the worst day of their lives. Britney is waaaay too cool and triumphant a kitty to be a gory photo.