The good, the bad and the ugly

Every day we here at SNC experience the karma of the universe at work.  We see the good, the bad and the ugly of humankind. Generally, there is balance, with good deeds mitigating the bad. Some days it feels like the bad energy is swamping us, other days we are inspired that the caring are in far greater number than those who think animals are nothing but disposable goods. Today was a mixed bag.

The Good
We have the great fortune of knowing Kevin Loop.  Tomorrow Kevin will bring in “Porch Kitty” number twelve.  Yup, twelve (in three months no less).    There is an entire family of cats living (happily) under his porch and one by one is having them fixed.   Almost weekly (sometimes twice a week)  Kevin drives up to our doorstep and unloads one or two traps. He’s never asked for a discount but we give it to him anyway.  Kevin Loop is the kind of person who reaffirms our belief that the world is full of amazing caring people who want to do the right thing.  If there is good it is in the name of Kevin Loop.

The Bad
Had a call today from one of our favorite clients who was desperate to find a home for a twelve year old St. Bernard. The owner, who had the poor dog since it was six months old, is moving and decided to surrender the dog to Animal Care and Control. Our client begged the owner not to call ACC, only asking for an hour to try to find someone to take the dog. But the owner couldn’t be bothered and called ACC anyway. Come on. Bad, very, very bad.
(Our fabulous client went to Animal Control and asked that they give her time to find a home, haven’t had an update.)

The Ugly
(Warning: uncensored)

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This is Duffy. We met her today when her new mom brought her to us to get spayed. Duffy was rescued by a fabulous group in town called Dogs Daze of Charlotte from a high-kill shelter in the area. The paperwork said that she was on “euthanize hold”, meaning she was on her way to be killed. Her paperwork also said she was killing and eating the kittens in the neighborhood where she was surrendered.  Really?  Does that face look like a vicious kitten eater?  Highly doubtful.

Duffy puts a face on a really ugly reality in our community: 40 or more dogs just like Duffy die EVERY DAY here because they don’t have a home.  Duffy is exactly as she seems in the picture – incredibly sweet and lovable.  She is so deserving of a home. It’s just ugly that it isn’t a community priority to stop this senseless killing.

This is one of the main reasons that our clinic exists – we are going to speak the ugly truth about what is happening in our community and eventually, with your help PUT AN END TO IT!!

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How’s your dog’s scrotum?

I would be willing to bet you a million bucks that you haven’t ever said some of the stuff we say on a daily basis. At first I wasn’t sure exactly what was and wasn’t appropriate and how explicit to be. Now, I’m fearless.

Yesterday I talked with a pet owner for ten minutes about the condition of his dog’s scrotum. Didn’t even blush when I suggested that he consider applying a cold compress to it. (The look of horror on his face was priceless.) And, by the way, it wasn’t a cruel joke – it really can help reduce post surgical swelling. Too much information? Oh well.

We thought you might enjoy reading the following list of things we could have sworn we would never say:

“How is your dog’s scrotum?”

“Is that a monkey butt shave?”

“It’s fine that your dog just pooped in the lobby – it happens all the time.”

“Did you get a look the size of those balls (are they fist bump worthy)?”

“Your biggest enemy is licking.”

“Is it time to shave his balls yet?”

“How exactly did the cat manage to pee in your eye?”

“I can be the booty scratcher.”

74 Carmalts

Puzzled? Join the crowd. At least you have an excuse. I’m supposed to be an expert on all matters spay neuter. Carmalts? Had no clue. So why should such a small word be such a big deal? In a word (or six) carmalts quintessentially represent the reality of opening a spay neuter clinic. No question I could give an impassioned, probably award winning speech on why the mission of Spay Neuter Charlotte is important to our community but did I know how many carmalts it would take to accomplish that mission – um, radio silence.

Talk about a learning curve and at age 52 I can reliably report that you just don’t retain things like you used to. But just test me now; I can sling the medical lingo with the best of them. Lactating ringer? No problem. Crypt orchid? Old news. Inguinial hernia – happens at least twice a week. Gradew? Made that one up (just checking to see if you are paying attention).

Now that we have been open for three months I can also reliably report that carmalts are the mere tip of the “whatcha gotta have” iceberg. Thank heavens for Dr. Heidi Hutmaker, my Medical Director and savior. It was she who guided me through the world of carmalts, metezenbaum scissors, two aught suture, reptile warmers (that’s a great story) and wzywash (good luck with that one).  (And, thanks to an $80,000 grant from PetSmart Charities we were able to pay for it all.)

Our highly trained medical staff uses all this equipment to fix the pets that come through our doors every day.  Our goal – represent the best quality care and we have the carmalts to prove it.

The Dean Kittens

On Tuesday, four fluffy kittens arrived at the clinic to be fixed. Two boys and two girls. Two black and white, two tortoise. The Dean Kittens. They were in the building less an hour before they had already endeared themselves to us. All of them extremely vocal – I could hear them from my office demanding that we “let them out” just so they could curl in a ball under our chins and purr. You could tell someone had spent a lot of time taking care of them and loving them.

When their “mom” arrived Wednesday morning to pick them up I gave her the post-op instructions and helped her out the car with the four cat carriers meticulously labeled with each kitten’s name and description. She told me that she drove all the way from Wingate (an hour and half each way in traffic) to bring the kittens to us because we were willing to help to get them fixed and vaccinated. She said that the momma cat dropped her babies on her door step when they were just a few weeks old and then proceeded to get killed on the street in front of her farm.

She said she bottle fed those little kittens for weeks to keep them alive even with her neighbors harassing her asking “why she was wasting her time and money on those nasty balls of furr.” Her reply, “God put us on the earth to take care of his creatures.” It made me cry. I may not be the most religious person but God bless Mrs. Dean and thank God I was blessed to meet her and her fabulous kittens.

Lysol “R” Us

On October 28 we had our first vaccine clinic at the clinic. It was great. We were able to introduce ourselves to a terrific new group of pet owners who needed shots for their pets and who didn’t have a regular veterinarian.

Most other groups who have vaccine days make everyone stand in line. We decided that we wanted our folks to experience the quality of service that we have to offer so we made individual appointments for each animal. It was well worth it when we saw how good it made everyone feel to be treated with such care.

The first appointment immediately after lunch was for a hundred and eighteen pound Bullmastiff named “Spike” (name changed to protect the innocent).

Spike had a head the size of a cinder block and paws that looked like they belonged on a bull moose. Since there weren’t any other animals in the lobby when he arrived we told his owner that it was fine for him to wander around. No doubt it was a veritable smell smorgasbord as there was a dog and cat menagerie on the premises prior to his getting there.

In his excitement over sniffing all of his furry friends, he proceeded to lift his leg and mark several spots all over the room. Shew-eee. Nice dog, horrible smell. And let me tell you we are no “babes in the woods” when it comes to stink. Dogs poop in our lobby on a fairly regular basis (it’s an anxiety thing.) But this pee won the award for “oh my.”

We waited on the Lysol brigade until the owner and Spike left the building, but couldn’t do much as we had other patients arriving. Honestly can’t tell you which was worse, the smell of bionic dog pee or the smell of Lysol trying to cover the smell of bionic dog pee.

Once everyone cleared out Jacqui and I proceeded to DEFCON 1 – smell recon and elimination. And let me tell you Jacqui is no slouch when it comes to cleaning. Picture a cowboy with holsters of Lysol – she can sniff out a target at 50 feet. After a half an hour of mopping, sniffing, spraying, sniffing, wiping and sniffing, the smell still lingered. Now what?

Hands on her holsters, Jacqui exclaimed, “drop ‘em!” “Drop what?” “To your knees.” Oh crap. This was the only solution?  Reduced to crawling around, on our knees sniffing baseboards? Pity someone didn’t get this on YouTube. And guess what? I found it! You know your life has reached a new level of pathetic when you are elated to be the stink finder. Although I swear every time I pass the spot I get a faint whiff of essence of Spike.

A WHAT?

A What?

This was the response when I was asked what I had been up to since finishing my term as Board Chair of the Humane Society of Charlotte and I would say “starting a nonprofit spay neuter clinic.” After I would repeat, (making sure to speak more slowly and enunciate) “a spay neuter clinic,” most folks would appear a bit puzzled.

A look of vague understanding might cross their faces when I would elaborate, “you know, fixing animals.”  Typically this was followed by most men squirming uncomfortably (I imagine they were thinking about their own nether parts) and pretty much everyone else staring at me with that “has she finally turned into the crazy cat lady” expression.

My family would tell you that the jury is still out on the crazy cat lady thing but all who know me well are aware that I am deeply passionate about fixing the homeless animal problem in our community.

So, the short answer to “a what?” Because it is a concrete way to stop the killing of more than 12,000 cats and dogs here in Charlotte each year. (Did you know?) Some of the people I talked to had a vague recollection of a series in the Charlotte Observer years ago about death at the pound, but most had no idea how many pets die here each year unnecessarily. And, although I know it isn’t always pleasant to hear I have to tell them (and you) an uncomfortable truth. Charlotte has a problem, a big problem that doesn’t make us a world class city where animal welfare is concerned. My goal is to speak the truth and solve the problem.  First step – more, lower-cost spay neuter.

So 18 months, a legal document designating nonprofit status, an affiliation with the Humane Alliance’s National Spay Neuter Response Team, a lease on a building on N. Davidson Street, an $80,000 grant from PetSmart Charities, $60,000 in fundraising, an incredible staff who is committed to exemplary patient care and boo rah – Spay Neuter Charlotte is born.

The clinic officially opened for business on August 3 and we have done 400 surgeries thus far. Sounds impressive, but we are a long way away from our goal of 25 surgeries a day with a goal of more than 5,000 a year.

I hope this blog will be a fun and informative read about how our clinic works, the incredible pet owners the SNC staff meets everyday, what it takes to get a fledgling business off the ground, and how we intend to speak the truth and solve the problem.