Archives for Case Studies category

Links, Continued: Socks, Baby Food and a BIG SURPRISE!

Our story from last week continues, once again from Becky Tegze, Pets Alive Cat Manager…

The hissing continues… our “broken” Links is still hissing but there is something just a little different – Links stretched out relaxing on his bed! Good morning Links! You just made my Monday! I continue my ritual of talking softly to him the entire time I’m in the room caring for him and all his friends, when it hits me he hasn’t scrunched back up and he ISN’T hissing at me – he’s watching me! He hasn’t moved but when I sneak a look at him I see his eye following me as I care for the other kitties. He is curious! Oh Links, I just want to kiss you. We are on our way to being friends.

Okay Links, brace yourself: today we are going to work on being touched. This is a big step for any cat not used to human contact and affection, especially an adult cat. Even kittens who are not handled, cuddled, played with or shown affection by humans at a very young age can fear human contact as they age.

As I dig into my back of tricks I once again am talking to Links, hoping beyond hope that maybe he understands me. The first trick up my sleeve is a dowel stick with a catnip sock toy stuck on the end of it. For anyone who hasn’t worked with a “broken” cat before let me explain – this little trick serves many purposes, it gives me the “scary” human a bit more distance so I’m not leaning over Links (which would be way too scary at this point for him), and it keeps me safe because I do not know how Links is going to react to first contact. He could react by being frozen in fear, it could be a hiss or it could be him showing his displeasure with his claws, his teeth or both – or he could just be totally unfazed.

Drum roll please… Read the rest of this entry »

Filed in Animal Rescue, Case Studies, Why we do this by John Sibley on Mar 27, 2013.  There are 1 comments.  


Blog by Jenessa Taylor, Executive Director Pets Alive Westchester

People often ask why we don’t take in animals from the public, otherwise known as owner surrenders. This is not our primary objective as a no kill rescue, our mission is to reduce the amount of animals killed in shelters each year by pulling those slated for death to safety and giving them another chance at a forever home. However, the truth is that many times we do accept owner surrenders. Ideally we work to promote pet retention and prevent animal surrender by offering the assistance/advice of our staff trainer to those who truly love their pets but are faced with some undesirable behaviors, and we also provide a low cost vaccine and spay/neuter clinic to help keep pets healthy and incur lower veterinary bills. We open up a line of communication to help desperate pet owners talk through the obstacles they are facing in keeping their pets and try to help them find solutions that do not include relinquishing their pet to a shelter.

Sometimes, however, an owner is not willing or able to work towards a solution and must re-home their animal. We try to find out as much information on that animal as possible before bringing them into our facility. This information will help us to determine if our facility is the best option for that animal, and if we are then what type of home will be the best match for them. Yet no matter how many questions we may ask, or the paperwork that may accompany the animal, we still take a risk because we can’t know how accurate the answers are or if there is a problem or issue that perhaps the owner just isn’t aware of.
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Filed in Case Studies by John Sibley on Jan 28, 2013.  There are 0 comments.  

Robert – a dog on a mission!

(Note: This blog has been written by Janet P., Pets Alive vet liaison)

robert1It’s been one week today that Robert came home from the hospital.  And what a hectic week it’s been!  For anyone who doesn’t know Robert’s story, he was found in NYC with some abrasions on his body and no control of his hind end.  He was brought to the city shelter where he sat for three days until his sweet, pathetic face was seen by our staff and he came to Pets Alive.  Upon examination by our vet, he suggested we rush Robert directly to Oradell Animal Hospital (a 24-hour specialty practice) since the extent of his medical needs were beyond the realm of typical vet hospitals.

Oradell Animal Hospital admitted him later that evening and during his week long stay he underwent many tests and procedures (from ultrasounds, MRI, and finally spinal surgery).  His neurologist diagnosed him with several conditions:

  • T3-L3 myelopathy- non ambulatory paraplegia
  • Traumatic disc rupture T13-L1, left sided hemilaminectomy on 3/1
  • Upper motor neuron bladder and suspect chronic bladder muscle injury
  • Suspect HBC (hit by car)—multiple abrasions (head, R elbow, R hock)
  • Traumatic hepatopathy-resolving

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Filed in Animal Rescue, Case Studies by kerry on Mar 15, 2012.  There are 31 comments.  

Lifer? Or lover?

HuntermooseGus was a dog we took from another shelter a few months back. We didn’t have any issues with him at the sanctuary and we had a LOT of applications on this really adorable dog, but after being adopted, his new owners returned him the next day advising us he was vicious and very aggressive. Huh? We were shocked. We loved our little Gus and he was the happiest dog we’d ever seen. Always ready to wag his tail and always with a big grin on his face. But any dog returned for aggression raises many red flags. Will this dog become a lifer? Destined to spend his life here because he is unsafe to be placed?

That is the absolute worst possible scenario and something none of us want to see. We immediately put Nancy to work with Gus and he was a charmer. Still. We had to make him a yellow dog, based on what the previous adopters had said and we had to be very careful about adopting him out. I lost a lot of sleep over Gus. The previous shelter was willing to take him back (we had touched base with them to see if there were any issues when he was with them) but they were not a no-kill and we really feared for Gus. And….sigh…we loved him. He came into our arms, into our shelter and we felt responsible for him. He was so young too. Was he really as aggressive as the previous owners had said?

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Filed in Case Studies by kerry on May 05, 2010.  There are 4 comments.  

Case Study – Shea

shea.jpgEach time an expected animal transport arrives at Pets Alive, our hearts melt as the doors are swung open and we witness the fear and confusion of our new charges who have not yet realized that they are indeed finally safe. We SLOWLY and carefully remove each life knowing that it may take some time before they learn that we are here to help them, not hurt them. They are then moved to an isolation area, where we keep them for a quarantine period. During this time we get their medical needs sorted, enter them into our database, do a prophylactic deworming, and get them ready for adoption.

As part of their routine intake, we make sure each pet is altered, vaccinated, microchipped, and heartworm tested. We also test for e-canis, anaplasma and lyme disease at the same time. If a particular animal is not fairing well in the kennel environment, we do our absolute best to set them up in some other part of our building. For those of you who have visited our facility, you’ll witness dogs living in every crevice of ‘human’ space. Nothing is off limits…offices, kitchens, laundry rooms, EVEN bathrooms (only spacious ones of course). It’s difficult but we truly attempt to triage each case based on potential illness or those with severe behavioral set backs. Sometimes the kennel is just not the optimal environment for a dog that is terrified and we find putting them in rooms where there is less noise and confusion, but some human traffic helps them get over this faster than leaving them in an environment where they are so frightened.

Shea was a dog that came into our hearts by fate. It was a Sunday in June and we were anticipating a transport of dogs to arrive from a high kill facility in Tennessee. Shea just so happened to be on the transport although she was not one of the dogs we were expecting. But seeing this young, beautiful, sweet yellow lab mix greet us at the side of the vehicle, we knew that we could not send her back to an unknown fate. So we gladly brought her inside and while trying to track down her medical history, we set her up inside a separate room where she would not be around the other dogs at our facility. The transporter bringing her had no idea who she was or where she had come from, she had pretty much just found her in a situation where the owner had died and all the dogs the person had been caring for had just been “set free”. We had no records and no history and Shea was so sweet. Going back to the town she came from would have meant certain death as the kill rates in that shelter were well over 96%.

Unfortunately within the first two days of her quarantine period we became concerned that Shea was not feeling well. She did not have a good appetite and she was pretty quiet, although we could not be certain if this was typical behavior for her, or indeed she was ill. So for the week of her quarantine we continued to keep her separated, and could coax her to eat some food. We tested her for heartworm, lyme disease, anaplasmosis and erhliciosis. We drew blood for a normal CBC/chemistry panel. While awaiting the results, a family happened to come by looking for a dog. Immediately you could tell that this was not just some typical family. They were one of those families that are so devoted to their animals that you’d consider giving them one of your own!

While Shea was being taken out for a walk, the family made her acquaintance and instantaneously became smitten by Shea’s charm. They knew Shea was meant to go home with them. When we explained the situation of Shea not feeling perfectly well, they stressed the fact that she would be an only dog, and they were fortunate enough to be home full time (and thus could care for her around the clock). We explained that at this point bloodwork was out but we were still unsure what was wrong and warned it could be something serious. They advised that their vet was a close family friend, they contacted her, and she was already willing to see their new pet first thing in the morning. Since we were still awaiting the results of our blood panel to arrive from the weekend, we promised to have them immediately faxed directly to their vet that next day.


After the first week in her new home, Shea took a turn for the worse. Within a matter of days, she became neurologic. Her vet was perplexed by the new set of symptoms. We kept in touch with her vet (and family) to stay abreast of her condition. It came as a complete shock when we learned that Shea’s condition had progressed to the point that she needed to be euthanized. Due to the fact that vaccines are not completely protective especially if they were not administered in a proper fashion (such as the timing of boosters), the vet performed a necropsy in order to try to ascertain some answers for this baffling case. It took several weeks to determine that Shea had indeed fallen victim to the deadly disease canine distemper. The most disturbing fact is that this could have been prevented if Shea had received normal inoculation series, especially as a puppy.

As I look back, I am beyond grateful Shea found her forever home with this incredible family. They loved her from the moment they saw her, to the moment they made the selfless and humbling decision to end any suffering. It weighs heavy on all our hearts, but in the end, we realize that not only could Shea have died a painful, tortuous death on a cold cement floor, but she could have lost the only chance (no matter how short it was) to appreciate that she was undeniably loved! And as much as we will never forget this beautiful soul who was never even destined to arrive at our facility, Shea will never forget the selfless sacrifice her family made for her. I have no doubt Shea will be waiting for the day that they will be together again as the family they were destined to become.

(Written By Janet)

Filed in Case Studies by kerry on Dec 12, 2008.  There are 2 comments.  

Amelia – Case Study

amelia1.jpgAmelia is a Sharpei that came to Pets Alive about 7 months ago.  She came from the south and had been a stray living in a junk yard.  She gave birth to a litter of puppies and all of them, except for one, were killed by workers at the junk yard, or by a roaming pack of stray dogs.  Amelia was determined to protect her last puppy with her life if necessary.  When a kind neighbor saw the dog, half starved to death (because she would not leave her pup to forage for food) and fiercely aggressive at anyone who came near, she took pity and called the local shelter.  This shelter sent out an ACO and they darted Amelia in order to sedate her and capture her.

The shelter was a high kill shelter though and dogs like Amelia stand zero chance of survival, as 95% of all the animals that walk through their doors are euthanized.  Pets Alive took tremendous pity on Amelia and all she had been through and we decided to take her here.

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Filed in Case Studies, Updates by kerry on Dec 03, 2008.  There are 13 comments.  

Case Study – Missy

Case Study “Missy”

By Dale Kantner, Cat Manager

missy.jpgWhen I started working at Pets Alive last June, I must admit to being a bit overwhelmed with the number of cats that lived here. I believe there were about 99, and they were divided into 6 rooms. There was one beautiful 8 year old kitty that lived alone in the kitchen, her name is Missy. I soon found out why Missy lived in the big kitchen all by herself, she HATES all of the other cats!! Or, as I tell her, she is so special that she gets her own room.

Those of you who know Missy, know that she is a staff and volunteer favorite. She definitely has her own personality, part sweetie pie and part MONSTER!

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Filed in Case Studies by kerry on Apr 14, 2008.  There are 9 comments.  

New Case Study – Tommy

tommy2.jpgAs each dog newly arrives to any shelter environment, I’m sure a plethora of emotions overwhelms them. Where are they? Why are they here? Who are all these strange people and loud noises? We are obviously not shocked to see some dogs behave very introverted before they become more accustomed to their new surroundings.Tommy was no exception. On his arrival on January 1st, we were delighted to meet this small, awkwardly designed (yet infinitely adorable) little man. At about 30 pounds, he appears to be some weird concoction of perhaps, basset hound, corgi, sheba inu, and a whole lotta mischief.
Read more about Tommy

Filed in Case Studies by kerry on Mar 10, 2008.  There are 1 comments.  

Comment on our Badgee case study

With one of the Georgia rescues we got in a litter of lab pups. One of these pups the staff started to call Little Mutant Man. This poor little guy was showing very weird signs of bowed legs.

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Filed in Case Studies by kerry on Jan 29, 2008.  There are 15 comments.