A Box Full of Puppies

In case you need yet another story of animal dumping and an example of why fixing your dog and cat is absolutely a requirement. ITS FREE almost everywhere you assholes!


Another off-birding topic – My sweetie and I were headed for a run on a remote hilly trail. When we pulled into the parking lot, I slowed down to look at an incongruous box. A black puppy lay outside of it, head on paws. When Keith asked, “What the hell is that?” I replied, “I think it’s a box full of puppies.” Because I could see one more nose peeking out through a square cut into the side. Sure enough, when he got out to investigate, puppies exploded everywhere!. We had to corral them back inside, the little black female being the hardest to catch. We delayed our run to take them back home. We only had cat food, and they fell upon it like a school of piranhas. A huge bowl of water was attacked in the same fashion. These kids were starving, and yet very afraid of us.

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Vision, Value, Facts and Figures for the love of Animals

Blog Post Dated 08/02/2013

 By Diane Robertson

Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode (AO) must share information with the public that shows the facts about the organization so they can acquire more donors and donations

One of the things that I have not been sharing with you, my blog post readers, is what your donation to Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode means.  You know what AO does because you can see their Facebook posts and Web Pages.  You can see images of available dogs and cats and the stories of adopted pets on Facebook.  You also have a good idea of what AO needs because they do try to let you know.  Animal Outreach always needs more volunteers, foster parents and monetary donations.  Sometimes, AO asks for specific items such as copy paper or laundry soap.

Did you know that Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode has a “Wish List” on Amazon?  Well, it looks out of date right now.  Yep, one more thing AO “should do” better.

What you do NOT know now are the numbers.  You do not know how many animals were helped last month or last quarter or what form that help took.  You do not know how much money it would take to foster five more dogs or spay one more community cat.  I would like to share this information with you so that you know more about how your donation is used and inspire you to give even more.  I do not have this information therefore I have outlined some questions for Animal Outreach below.

Without answers to at least some of the following questions, Animal Outreach fundraising and volunteer recruitment campaigns are limited in their effectiveness.  People want to know how the money is used and what a donation can accomplish for the organization.  People want to know the impact their  donations are having on the organization.  They know that Animal Outreach save lives.  But, they also want to know more precisely what their donations and/or volunteer work will accomplish.

Here are some questions looking for answers:

  • How many dogs and cats were adopted last week, last month, last quarter, last year?
  • How many surgeries were performed overall (last month, last quarter, last year and then break-down the types of surgeries performed)?
  • How many vaccinations were provided overall?  Then break these down by type of pet (dog or cat), the owner (Animal Outreach or someone else) and perhaps by vaccination type.  For example, knowing that AO provided X number of Rabies vaccinations to clinic dogs and X number to their foster dogs might be interesting to know.
  • How many exams were performed (visits to the clinic aside from surgeries)?
  • What was the intake for dogs, cats and dogs/cats combined last month, last quarter and last year?  Compare this to the same time-period a year earlier.
  • How many dogs does AO have in foster care today/this week/this month?  Compare that to the same time-period last year.  Repeat for cats.
  • What is the average length of stay/AO ownership for dogs?  Cats?
  • How much money did AO receive in monetary donations last month, last quarter, last year?  Compare that to the same period last year.  Perhaps  break down donations into categories that can be readily tracked such as Razoo, Strut Your Mutt, Change Jars and receipted monetary donations made via check or credit card.
  • How much money was raised by each fundraising event?  How many tickets were sold?  Share some pictures of the event or venue.  Compare that to that same event last year, if applicable.
  • How many registered volunteers does Animal Outreach have?  How many active volunteers does Animal Outreach have?  How many volunteers does Animal Outreach need?
  • How many members does Animal Outreach have on the Board of Directors?  How many do they want or need?
  • Does Animal Outreach have or want to have any advisory committees?  For what purposes and how many people do they want or need?
  • What public reports are produced annually?  When are they produced?  Are they available online?

What good are numbers anyway?

When numbers are available, information can be produced that helps people make decisions on donating and volunteering with an organization.  Numbers inform potential donors how much money it will take to care for the “average” cat in the shelter or provide the discounted veterinary services to the public next month.  Numbers can inspire and motivate staff, volunteers and donors.  Most importantly perhaps, goals can be set.  Goals must be measurable to be of any use.  So, setting and tracking progress on goals is critical to success and everyone wants Animal Outreach to be successful. Numbers can also let supporters know where the organization has been, where it is now and where it wants to go in the future.

There is a problem with these ideas though.  It takes time and staff or volunteer effort to produce.  It takes skilled labor that AO may not always have available.

This is where you, your friends and co-workers can help.  Volunteer, foster, donate and support Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode to ensure the organization has the resources it needs to provide the services for the community and yes, the public information you desire.  Write , visit or email Animal Outreach yourself.  AO’s contact information is provided at the end of this post.


Many people are attracted to volunteering with animal welfare organizations.  There is a lot of work to do that takes only a little training and yet the sense of accomplishment can be staggering.  The animals are grateful and you know it!  You can see it and you can feel it!  Examples of some of these hands-on rescue operations include:

  • Pulling (rescuing) dogs and cats from high-kill shelters or over burdened shelters
  • Transporting animals from a shelter to Animal Outreach
  • Transporting animals to AO for treatment or to an adoption event when a foster parent cannot
  • Fostering a dog or cat and seeing them adopted by their forever families
  • Providing socialization for the cats at the AO shelter
  • Providing clean water, clean liter boxes and/or a clean living environment to the cats at the AO shelter
  • Caring for the sick and injured animals AO has rescued
  • Providing adoption assistance to people looking for their next dog or cat

There is another part of rescue that does not necessarily involve direct, hands-on, live-supporting activities.  Much less glamorous perhaps, but just as important as all the other work to save the lives of animals.  I call these behind-the-scenes activities the business activities.  It takes skilled and some semi-skilled labor to keep the organization functioning and moving forward.  Examples of some  business activities include:

  • Financial accounting including payroll, payroll taxes and income tax accounting
  • Fundraising
  • Computer and network maintenance (Information Technology)
  • Data entry
  • Customer service including opening the snail mail, answering emails, answering and returning telephone calls and text messages
  • Supply management
  • Volunteer recruitment, training and management
  • Staff training and supervision
  • Shelter management and monitoring
  • Accounts payable and receivable activities
  • Marketing activities including community outreach, producing Facebook posts, writing newsletters, writing blogs, producing brochures and information sheets, producing and maintaining program information sheets, etc.
  • Establishing, updating and monitoring programs
  • And the list goes on and on

Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode has been serving California for over 20 years.  They do a lot for the community.  They do a lot for animals.  And, yes, they need to improve communication and reporting for their volunteers, donors and supporters.  It is not that they lack ideas on what to do.  I am sure they have an endless stream of “you should do this” coming at them.  I think they need a lot more skilled volunteers in the areas of finance, accounting, marketing and management.  I don’t know much about the business side of AO so I am assuming all this based on what I do know and what is not available now.  I have ideas for a Director of Marketing position.  If you are a Director of Marketing or know someone who is, please contact me or AO to discuss volunteering some of your valuable time.

Do you want to save the life of a dog or cat that has done nothing to deserve death at the hands of an over-burdened animal shelter?  Great!  Volunteer, donate, foster and support Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode.  Ask your friends and family to join you.  Together, we can get and keep this organization staffed with the professional, skilled and semi-skilled volunteer work force needed to get ALL the jobs done right, all of the time.

Go to Animal Outreach at 6101 Enterprise Drive Diamond Springs, CA and fill-out a volunteer application or get a volunteer application online at their website, http://animaloutreach.net.  You can also telephone them at 530.642.2287.  I am always willing to answer any questions that I can.  Please contact me via email at aodiane@comcast.net or message me through Facebook.

My New Dog Frito

By Diane Robertson

Date:  07/30/2013Image

Brad has the day off from work today.  A cute story follows all because Brad had this day off and I went to bed by myself…

It’s bed time for me, which usually means a final round of animal duties.   The dog Frito has been in the house for several hours but is currently sleeping away.  I decide that since my husband Brad is still up, I will take Frito out to go potty and then let him stay downstairs on his bed since Brad is going to be up for awhile.  Frito hates the dog crate so I hate putting him in there and avoid it whenever possible.  You see, Frito still has accidents sometimes and I am tired of cleaning the carpet on a daily basis.  Besides, the carpet just cannot take much more abuse and so Frito typically goes into the crate at night.

I take Frito outside and he does a great job doing his business.  I am confident there will not be any accidents this night.  I go to bed, leaving Frito laying on his bed in the living room and Brad laying on the couch next to him watching TV.  

A little while later, here comes Frito upstairs (where he is forbidden to go because this is cat country).  His little face is looking up at me with love and his tail is going a mile a minute.  Oh man what a cutie…I pat the bed and up comes Frito to the forbidden bed.  He lays down next to me and places his head in my lap and goes to sleep.  Oh man, Brad is going to kill me.  I wait awhile for Brad to realize the dog is gone…nothing….maybe he is asleep down there and Frito can stay.  

Joey kitty is in his usual spot at the foot on the bed and doesn’t seem to mind the dog being there at all.  Hmmm.  Here comes Kenny kitty…he doesn’t see the dog at first then freezes mid-stride and gives me a look.  I tell him it is OK so he takes his usual position across from me by the head of the bed.  The dog watches this and then puts his head back down and goes to sleep.  Here comes the final cat, my oldest, scardy-cat Claire.  Claire is our nerve and brain damaged kitty.  She jumps up, says hi to Kenny and rushes over to get her nightly petting from the human in the bed.  Yikes!  It’s that damn dog and he is blocking her from getting to her human!  I see her thinking…I’ll just back up and rub on Kenny while I think about this (she is a slow thinker).  Kenny will only take the rubbing from Claire for a few seconds.  Claire decides she’ll go sit on the night-stand and glare at me, maybe I’ll fix this injustice.  I don’t fix it and she goes back to her comfy bed on the floor fuming. 

You see, Claire will only let us pet her on the bed.  It’s the one spot where she feels she can let down her guard a little and enjoy the wonderful experience of being petted.  Claire kitty loves being petted more than any cat I have ever met.  However, she is too afraid of humans to indulge herself anywhere but on the bed where she knows she is safe.  The bed became the safe zone when Claire was deathly ill and couldn’t refuse to be held. During this time I would place her on the bed and coo to her while I petted her.  That is how the bed-is-safe-for-Claire came into being.

I resume my TV watching while waiting for the sleeping aids to kick in.  I know, I shouldn’t watch TV right before sleep.  Since I rarely actually “go to sleep”, I use the TV as a focus point while I drift off, wake up, drift off, wake up.  It helps with my frustration.  Anyway, you get the picture. 

Frito…FRITO, Brad calls out.  I yell out to Brad that Frito is upstairs.  Brad begins the trek up to the bedroom.  Frito hears him coming, raises his head, wags his tail and puts on the cutest face possible.  It works!  Brad sees the usual two cats lounging on the bed (Claire always leaves after getting her petting) with me and the dog.  Rather than being his usual grumpy self and ordering the dog off the bed and downstairs, he gently reminds Frito he is not allowed up here.  Brad says he can stay if that is what I want.  Wow, that went really well!

Frito stayed with me on the bed all night as far as I know.  He did move to Kenny’s spot at some point.  I hope and pray I don’t find any stinky, wet spots on the carpet.  I really want this to be one big happy family.  

It’s going to get crowded on that bed and I couldn’t be happier.

Latest Strut Your Mutt Poster

Latest Strut Your Mutt Poster

Come join our team!

A Committed, Supportive Animal Community in Boston

“Dancing with Spheres” sculpture by renowned sculptor David Phillips is now a permanent fixture in the dog play yard at the Animal Rescue League (ARL) of Boston.  Way to go ARL Boston!  To read the full story, click here.


It is great to see a committed animal community!  Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode is a local animal rescue in El Dorado county.  Animal Outreach has been serving El Dorado county, Sacramento county and beyond, for over 20 years.  Can you help support us?

Animal Outreach needs volunteers in all areas of its operations from adoption counselors and foster parents for dogs and cats to cleaning crew for the shelter.  Call 530.642.2287 or go online to animaloutreach.net to fill out an application.

Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode also needs your financial support to continue its mission of saving the lives of pets in Northern California.  Please join our Strut Your Mutt team (for dogs and cats) or sponsor an existing team member today.  We truly appreciate your support.

Good Customer Service for Animal Rescue Organizations

By Diane Robertson

I reblogged the full customer service article from Maddie’s Fund a little while back.  However, this is such an important subject, I wanted to quote from that article again. 

  • The first step in good customer service is to capitalize on the public’s enthusiasm for adopting by responding right away when initial contact is made.
    • Respond to email within 24 hours
    • Have someone available to answer the phone during business hours.
  • The second step is to make a potential adopter’s experience positive and helpful. Provide the kind of positive experience that helps compel potential adopters to take home a pet.

Warm, friendly, “live” interaction goes a long way to getting adopters in the door – and out the door with a new pet! Organizations that can build and train a welcoming staff and volunteer force that create receptive and responsive relationships with the community will see animals move more quickly through their facility, and word will get out that you have a top-notch operation.

New Poster for Strut Your Mutt

New Poster for Strut Your Mutt

By Diane Robertson. Please participate in any way you can.

A Day in the Life of an Animal Shelter Volunteer

A short story about volunteering with dogs at an animal shelter.

Heartworms – What you need to know

Edited by:  Diane Robertson

Information By:  The American Heartworm Society

What is heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease is one of the major health problems of dogs in the United States and throughout the temperate and tropical areas of the world.  As well as being found in dogs and other species, it is now being found in cats in ever-increasing numbers.  The disease develops when a pet becomes infected with parasites called Dirofilaria immitis that are transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.  Dogs may be infected by a few or up to several hundred heartworms.  Cats are similarly infected although usually by only a few worms.  Heartworm infection often leads to severe lung disease and heart failure and can damage other organs in the body as well.

 Heartworm disease has been found in all 50 states.  A number of recent cases have been reported in El Dorado County and local veterinarians are trying to get the word out to have your pets tested and placed on a preventative.

How is heartworm disease spread from one pet to another?

It is only spread my mosquitoes.  Adult female heartworms living in an infected dog or other host release their young, called microfilaria, into the bloodstream.  Mosquitoes become infected by the microfilaria while taking a blood meal from these infected animals.  During the next 10 to 14 days, microfilarias mature to the infective larval stage within the mosquito.  When the mosquito then bites another dog, cat or susceptible animal, the infective larvae exit the mosquito’s mouth and are deposited onto the surface of the animal’s skin.  The infective larvae can then actively enter the new host through the fresh bite wound.

 What are the physical signs of heartworm infection?

Dogs:  Heartworms may accumulate gradually over years, or quickly when conditions allow exposure to high numbers of mosquitoes carrying infective heartworm larvae.  Clinical signs of disease may not be easily recognized in pets that have been recently infected or in those with low numbers of heartworms, as they may not yet exhibit outward signs of disease.  However, pets heavily infected with heartworms or those with chronic disease often show prominent clinical signs.

 In dogs, signs of heartworm disease may include a mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite and weight loss.  As heartworm disease progresses, pets may develop heart failure commonly recognized by an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen giving the pet the appearance of a “swollen belly.”  Dogs infected with large numbers of heartworms can develop a sudden blockage of blood flow within the heart leading to a life threatening form of cardiovascular collapse called “caval syndrome.”  Signs of caval syndrome include a sudden onset of labored breathing, pale gums and dark bloody or “coffee-colored” urine.  Without prompt surgical removal of the heartworm blockage, few pets survive.

 Cats:  Signs of heartworm disease in cats can be very subtle and misleading.  Signs may include coughing, asthma-like attacks, intermittent vomiting, lack of appetite, or weight loss.  Occasionally ataxia (difficulty walking), seizures, fluid accumulation in the abdomen and syncope (fainting) have been reported as well.  Unfortunately, the first sign in some cases is sudden collapse of the cat, or sudden death.

 Are tests available to detect heartworm disease?

Yes, for both dogs and cats.  Your pet must test negative before being placed on a heartworm preventative medication.  Heartworm tests may be combined with other tests and typically run between $25 and $50.  Check with your local vet or vaccination clinic.

Dogs:  Annual testing for dogs is recommended for several important reasons.  First, many of us do not take our own medications as directed let alone medicate our pets.  We’re busy; we forget; we miss a dose here and there.  Second, even if you never miss a dose there is nothing to prevent your dog from eating some grass and vomiting up the medication you just gave.  Your pet would be without protection for an entire month.  Third, if your pet accidentally became infected with heartworms, your veterinarian needs to detect it as soon as possible before irreversible heart and lung damage occur.  Early detection and treatment are always best.  Finally, some heartworm tests now come combined with tests that monitor other significant diseases (Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis).  With annual testing, you know your pet is heartworm free and not infected with these serious tick-borne diseases, some of which could affect family members.  The tests are quick and accurate and make sure your pet is free from infection.  Annual testing provides peace of mind in knowing that your pet is free of heartworms, and should your pet be infected, it assures you of early diagnosis.

 CatsHeartworm infection in cats is easily overlooked and harder to detect than in dogs.  The preferred method for screening cats includes the use of both an antigen and an antibody test.  Your veterinarian may also use X-rays or ultrasound to look for heartworm infection.  Your cat should be tested prior to starting a preventive, and annually thereafter.  Remember, since there is no approved treatment for heartworm infection in cats, prevention is critical.

What is the treatment for heartworm disease?

Dogs:  If a dog is infected with heartworms, the treatment needs to kill the adult and immature worms.  Currently, only one product is approved by the FDA for this purpose (Immiticide®- melarsomine hydrochloride).  It is given by deep injection into muscle.  A series of injections are given, either over a 24-hour period or two treatment periods, one month apart.  While treatment may be administered on an outpatient basis, hospitalization for the procedure is often recommended.  Other medications may be given at the time of treatment depending on the stage of heartworm disease.

Cats:  There is no FDA approved treatment for heartworm infection in cats.  Prevention is critical.  Indoor cats have less exposure to mosquitos so you should consider keeping your cats exclusively indoors.

For the full American Heartworm Society FAQ, go to http://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/faqs.html#q13

The true meaning of rescue

This is a must read for anyone who loves animals or likes their dog or is involved with animal rescue.


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