Keeping them safe: ACPR works to help four-legged residents of Adams County
OTHELLO – Although there are usually a full house at Adams County Pet Rescue, some days are busier than others. May 12 turned out to be a very busy day.
“We welcomed 15 animals this morning,” said ACPR employee Anita Plancarte.
Admission included dogs reported on the loose just outside Othello by the canal.
“We received a call about seven puppies, and it turned out to be a mother and six puppies. So we went out and grabbed them,” Plancarte said.
The first pup was relatively easy to catch, staff said, but three of the pups fell into the channel and ACPR worker Alonso Mariscal risked falling to get two out – and he doesn’t know not swim.
The rescue required a round trip for the remaining puppies and the mother dog. A pup was captured fairly quickly, but mom and the last pup were hiding in a dense stand of sagebrush. Kaitlyn Koehn crawled through the sagebrush and got mom and pup to safety.
The first call about the puppies came early in the morning. This was followed by the capture of stray dogs within the town limits of Othello.
“Town animal control is also here,” Plancarte said, “So (ACPR staff) had to follow that call. And cats came in – kittens.
May 18 is the day a dog abandoned along the road finally let herself be picked up and transported to the animal shelter. It took ACPR director Kyya Grant three days, but eventually the dog agreed to go into the crate for transport.
“It’s never the same. Every day is different for us,” Plancarte said.
The ACPR is generally busy.
“It’s actually really weird when we don’t welcome anyone in a day,” she said.
She estimated that about 90% of the animals that arrive are strays. Some show signs of having been dumped, such as the mother dog and puppies by the canal. Some are left at the ACPR’s doorstep, such as the mother cat and four kittens found on the outdoor cat toy on May 18. Others seem to have run away from home and got lost.
Grant said dogs and cats actually communicate when they come into contact with people trying to help them. It’s just sometimes hard to know what they’re saying.
“If you (approach) a puppy or a savage, he’s scared, he’ll roll over, snap and bite. So you have to know how to do it. You have to be able to read their language, know when to cut them and when to withdraw when to put pressure. There’s a lot to do,” Grant said.
“Sometimes catching them isn’t pretty,” she added.
Shelter worker Erika Salmeron said people have asked her about the technique of picking up a dog or cat by the skin on the back of its neck, called scratching.
“People think we’re hurting them, but we’re not,” Salmeron said.
Rubbing is how cat and dog moms carry their young, but sometimes people misunderstand when they see a person picking up a scared animal that way, Grant said.
“They’re terrified and they’re screaming, and they’re going to bite — Kaitlyn got bitten today — because they’re scared,” Grant said.
Sometimes, however, people can connect with stray dogs and cats. Grant said she encourages people to bring animals to the shelter if they can be safely caught.
There is a procedure for the arrival of dogs and cats.
“If someone brings (the animal), we ask them to fill out a stray form, with information about where the dog was found and all that,” Plancarte said. “We gain weight, we deworm them, we give them vaccines, we take pictures of them. We give them a name and then we’ll post their pictures if we get pictures right away. I hope someone will pick them up, and if not, after 72 hours they will become ours.
The animal is then placed on a list to be neutered or neutered, microchipped and updated on vaccinations. Any animal over four months old will receive a rabies vaccine, she said.
Pet owners have a better chance of retrieving a lost or stray animal if it’s been cleared, Grant said. Thus, it is important for pet owners to register their pets with the city in which they live. Microchips also help bring lost pets home, as does a proper tag on the pet’s collar.
Adams County Pet Rescue is a no-kill shelter, so everyone who walks through the door finds themselves in a new home. The shelter is not limited to dogs and cats – the ACPR has housed birds, lizards, snakes and even a few wild birds awaiting transport to specialist care facilities.
“We had guinea pigs left on the side of the road on Christmas Eve that someone picked up and brought in,” Grant said. “We had pot-bellied pigs.”
Plancarte said she thought the strangest guests at the shelter were a group of rats.
The rats had been pets of a wandering woman, and she was persuaded to bring them to the shelter rather than release them, Grant said.
The shelter has accommodated almost every variety of dog and cat imaginable. There are trends in pet ownership, however, and Grant said she would urge people to think about what they want before getting a new dog or cat.
“There’s something to be said for finding the breed you want,” she said.
She used German Shepherds as an example.
“They want a watchdog,” she said. “They like the look.”
But shepherds do best when they get plenty of exercise and not every owner has room to let them roam. Shepherds were popular a few years ago, but eventually many shepherds ended up at the shelter.
Grant said the shelter is helped by a network of people inside and outside of Adams County. There are local volunteers taking in dogs and cats as foster families, and the ACPR receives donations of supplies and money.
Cats of Lynwood volunteers act as foster families for some of ACPR’s cats and kittens, and Adams County pets are part of adoption events at PetSmart locations in Bellevue, Shoreline and Lynnwood, Grant said.
The shelter needs kitten formula and dog toys, she said, small fleece blankets for the animals and potty training pads for the puppies.
Puppy and dog food — dry and canned — are the main needs right now, staff said.
“We use (canned foods) to give extra calories, and we also use them to give antibiotics and medicine,” she said.
Feeding the animals is only part of the shelter’s mission, however, staff said.
“The main thing is to get them to safety,” Grant said.
Like this article ? Our special Strength of the Basin section will be released in a few weeks. It will be filled with information about the organizations and people who make the Columbia Basin a great place to live. Keep an eye out for it and be sure to let us know if you see anyone doing a good job in the basin we all call home by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.