Friday, March 23, 2012

No-Kill pioneer to lead Lakeshore Humane Society

What’s so special about April 9th, 2012, anyway?  It’s not a national holiday.  It’s probably not your birthday, your spouse’s, or one of your kid’s.  And, thankfully, it’s not the deadline for filing your income taxes.  So, why should all of us living in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin celebrate on April 9th, 2012?

Because that’s the day Dayna Kennedy officially assumes the position of Director of Operations at the Lakeshore Humane Society!

Well-known throughout the animal world, Kennedy helped turn UPAWS, a shelter near Marquette, Michigan around.  During her tenure with UPAWS, Kennedy successfully saved companion animals from death at a rate of 96 percent, meaning less than 4 percent of the animals that entered the open admission shelter she ran were put down.

Kennedy’s success at UPAWS is often discussed by NathanWinograd, the founding father of the No-Kill Movement, in his public presentations.  In fact Winograd, along with many other No-Kill advocates, considers Kennedy a pioneer in the Movement.  And, it is possible that with Kennedy’s demonstrated success in Michigan, that at least some of the 350 shelters operating in Wisconsin that have the tools necessary to turn themselves around and evolve into No-Kill shelters like Upaws, will do so.  Currently, Wisconsin only boasts of one nationally recognized No-Kill shelter,  Elmbrook Humane Society in Brookfield, WI, but hopefully that will change as other shelters follow the example Kennedy is sure to set in this state.

When Kennedy begins serving the Lakeshore Humane Society as its Director, the shelter will start to adopt its way out of killing animals…something Kennedy’s experience with UPAWS proved is possible.  With Kennedy at the helm, this community will have a shelter that works and staff members that care as much as their leader does…because Kennedy will accept nothing less for the animals, herself, and the No-Kill Movement.

While April 9th, 2012, really is a day we should all celebrate, the truth is our celebrations should have started about six months ago when  Lakeshore Humane Society’s Board of Directors was elected.  This board inherited a literal mess that included the Society’s horrible yet deserved reputation.  And, this board has taken some very large, difficult steps to address the Society’s obvious internal and external problems.  Hiring Kennedy is only the most recent of these steps.
The Lakeshore Humane Society’s current Board of Directors is probably the best one the Society’s membership has elected since the shelter opened its doors in 1970.  And, we all need to remember that whatever success Kennedy is destined to have in our community would not have been possible if the board hadn’t hired her.  The future success of  Lakeshore Humane Society, the future evolution of the Society into a No-Kill facility, belongs to the board members as much as it will to Kennedy.

April 9th, 2012, is a date we should look forward to with great excitement because it’s going into the history books of Manitowoc County and the animal welfare world.  It’s the date that will mark the beginning of  Lakeshore Humane Society’s transformation from what was to what will be.  It’s the date that will represent a victory for the No-Kill Movement because yet another shelter, our local Humane Society, will recognize that life is the only viable, desirable option for the animals between its walls.  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Samson!

One year ago today, my adult daughter got the first dog she could call her own, a Bulldog named, Samson.  I didn’t know what to expect as we traveled north to see Samson after he was born.  I didn’t know too much about Bulldogs at the time and had always thought only well-to-do people had them as pets.  Once I saw him, though, I knew he was a cutie!  All puppies are cute, of course, but Samson was the cutest of the cute.

My daughter brought Samson home when he was 12-weeks-old.  And he was a feisty little guy from the moment his paws landed on my daughter’s floor.  That is, Samson was feisty right up until the day he got sick.

Samson hadn’t been at my daughter’s house long before he started to make noises he hadn’t made before…noises my daughter mistook for normal Bulldog noises as most people would, including me.  Bulldogs make more noises than any other breed I know of, after all.

Well, Samson continued to make even louder noises over the next few days and, even more alarmingly, began sleeping much more than he usually did.  Worried, my daughter took Samson to his veterinarian who said Samson needed to see a specialist right away to treat the dog’s severe case of pneumonia.
My daughter and I scheduled the earliest appointment the specialist had available to examine Samson.  Even though he was still just a puppy, the specialist told us that Samson might not survive.  Rather callously, the specialist went on to explain that Bulldogs sometimes are born with such small tracheas that the most humane thing to do is put them down…to deny them a chance at life.  The only thought that crossed my mind as I listened to this presumed “pet care professional” talk was, “This guy is insane!”

Despite the specialist’s lack of bedside manners, Samson stayed at the clinic for three days.  His condition did not improve, however.  Samson was not eating and my daughter and I were reminded of the specialist’s grim prognosis for Samson.  During this stretch of time that seemed like one really, really long day, my daughter kept in constant contact with Samson’s breeder, Laurie, who owns and operates Starr Bulldogs.

Laurie suggested that my daughter and I should visit the clinic where Samson was being treated unexpectedly so we could truly determine if he was getting the best care possible.  Laurie had a dog go through a similar experience before and she advised us what to look out for.  So, we made an impromptu visit and were relieved when Samson seemed somewhat alert…alert enough to wiggle his little stub of a tail when he saw my daughter at least.

Unsure of whether Samson’s semi-conscious state demonstrated he was receiving adequate care or not, my daughter and I decided to sign the dog out of the animal hospital…against medical advice.  We figured the best chance Samson had at recovering his health was with someone intimately familiar with his breed.  So, we turned up the air conditioning in the car as far as it would go and began the three-hour drive to Laurie’s.

We questioned whether we had made the right decision at various points of our trip.  Even though he was riding in the back, we could still hear Samson making the same noises that led my daughter to take him to the vet in the first place.  He sounded horrible.

All of our self-doubts were alleviated the moment we arrived at Laurie’s.  Laurie met us at our car and immediately took Samson from my daughter’s arms.  With an oxygen tent already set up for Samson, Laurie and her husband observed him the whole while it took for Samson to do a complete 180! 

It didn’t take too long for Samson to recover his happy-go-lucky demeanor and begin eating his favorite food.  Having received breathing treatments and lemon to break up the phlegm in his chest over the week that he was with Laurie and her husband, Samson was prepared to celebrate when my daughter and I returned to pick him up.  And celebrate he did! 

Even though Samson still received breathing treatments for a few months after leaving Laurie’s, his health was eventually fully restored.

Looking back, and forward, I am still glad my daughter made the decision to take him out of that veterinary clinic.  I might not have a “granddog” if she hadn’t.  Still looking back, I also now believe that Samson’s pneumonia was caused by a Bordetella nasal vaccine.

Thankfully, Samson is now a happy, healthy, one-year-old Bulldog.  And, he is truly unlike any other dog I have encountered in my life.

I love you, Samson!  Happy 1st Birthday!  Love, Your Nana!