Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Support for animals means a lot

Sasha
Sasha looked so fragile in her cage at the Middletown Animal Hospital. Our tiny long-haired tortoiseshell cat was suffering from kidney failure and the veterinarians were working with us to give Sasha a fighting chance.

We'd had Sasha for such a short time -- she had been a rescue cat -- but we felt phenomenally invested in making her a part of our home and for somehow making up for the dire condition we found her in.

We'd kept an eye on Sasha for several months, not knowing whom -- if anyone -- she relied upon. For several months, while walking in our neighborhood, we saw her in in one person's yard or another's. Never close enough to pick up.

On the evening that we brought Sasha home, she was crouched to one side of the road. When I picked her up, we discovered that she wore no collar, she was skin and bones and her long fur was dirty and matted. Some of her claws were so overgrown that they punctured the poor pads of her feet. It was during the heat of summer and we believed that if we left her, she would be dead within the week.

We believed that Sasha must have been abandoned; if she had been under anybody's "care" in the condition we found her in, that person would be guilty of the grossest cruelty and neglect.

That evening we cut our walk short and instead carried Sasha home to join our reigning cat Miss Elizabeth.

Our delicate Sasha slowly put on weight but she was always tiny for the remaining few months of her life.

When we took Sasha in to the animal hospital, the veterinarian estimated that her age was between 13 and 17 years. Sasha had a heart murmur and had hardly any teeth.

We'd hoped our visit would be routine and provide a foundation for wellness. But in the handful of days between our setting the appointment and our bringing Sasha in, she began to lose her appetite. The blood tests determined that Sasha was suffering from kidney failure.

I felt for Sasha, having to spend nights away from our home while the veterinarian worked to bring down the toxins in her blood. It comforted me to know that there was a heating pad with Sasha, with soft bedding folded over it, to keep her warm at night.

In the end, Sasha's rallying lasted only a couple of days -- but the kindness shown by everyone involved in our precious Sasha's care remains a comfort to me.

There are so many cats and dogs who are similarly in need of human comfort and support. Fortunately, there are ways to "pay it forward" by providing support. The animal shelter needs donations of blankets, newspapers, towels, animal food, treats, toys, food, bowls, leashes and collars. Call 263-0278 to learn more.

For $25, you can sponsor an animal in our Adopt-a-Pet ad, which is published each Saturday in the Lake County Record-Bee. The advantages to an animal include another week of life at the animal shelter.

Animals who are pictured in the Adopt-a-Pet ad gain valuable publicity that helps to place them in a loving home. Donors are able to choose which kind of animal they would like to sponsor: an adult cat, adult dog or a set of kittens or puppies. For more information, contact our classified department at 263-5636, ext. 30 or 11.

If you are willing to make a short-term commitment, you may consider providing a foster home through Lake County Animal Services, www.lakecountyanimalservices.org. For more information, e-mail director@lakecountyanimalservices.org. Or you may choose to work with the Animal Coalition of Lake County, 995-0552.

Finally, if you are willing to care for a dog or a cat for the remainder of its life, you can contact the local animal shelter to inquire about adopting an animal. For more information, call Lake County Animal Care and Control, 263-0278, or the SPCA of Clear Lake, 279-1400.

Published Jan. 19, 2010 in the Lake County Record-Bee

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