The summer is when kitten season is in full swing. Because cats are such prolific reproducers, animal shelters tend to become overrun with kittens during the summer months (or, more accurately, most of the year in California animal shelters). With such a high influx of kittens, it is often hard for shelters to keep up with them and the care they require.
Many shelters euthanize kittens under two pounds upon entering the shelter, even if they are healthy. You can imagine what the fate is for kittens that are not healthy. The San Jose Animal Care Center (SJACC) does not follow this practice. Rather, the SJACC has worked hard to save a higher percentage of kittens each and every year and has gradually decreased the weight at which the shelter’s veterinarians feel it is safe to perform surgery (using special protocols for these fragile mini-kitties) and adopt out kittens. As of 2014, the minimum weight kittens must be for surgery to be performed at SJACC is 1.3 pounds.
July 4th and New Years are the days that animal shelters (and many pet owners) dread the most. These holidays are often associated with fireworks which, though beautiful, create a very scary situation for our pets.
Pets tend to flood animal shelters around these holidays, particularly July 4th, because the noise generated from the firework displays is frightening and pets will often run off, sometimes breaking windows and slipping out of collars and leashes to escape.
If there is one thing I can recommend to people who have pets, it is to make sure that your pet is microchipped and the information is up to date. If your pet escapes from its collar, then the microchip is the only thing tying you to your pet. Animal shelters scan animals for microchips upon admission and they will do everything in their power to trace down owners until they reach a dead end. Having your information current means you can be reunited sooner and with less of a hassle.
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of my job as a shelter veterinarian at a large municipal shelter is that I get to be involved in veterinary forensics.
For those of you who have seen shows such as Animal Cops or CSI, you may have an idea of what this entails. Essentially, I work with animal service officers to investigate and prosecute cases such as animal abuse and neglect by performing examinations on the animals that are the focus of the investigation to determine whether my examination supports or fails to support the case.
Some of the interesting cases I’ve seen so far include:
- Dogs allegedly killed by other dogs
- Dogs that were allegedly abused.
- Dogs that were allegedly neglected, such as owners allegedly failed to provide the dogs with medical care after a substantial injury or attack.
- Dogs that were allegedly sodomized.
- Dogs that died from unknown causes and were found on a crime scene that was part of a police investigation.