Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fostering 101

By Montana

Fostering shelter animals is unlike anything I've ever experienced.  There's something about seeing animals go from sad, broken, unwanted, used to happy, lively, little bundles of love despite whatever they may have suffered from before. Fostering brings me a sort of happiness I have never found in anything else. I couldn't give it up for the world.  You could say its a bit of an addiction.

Steve, my little spaz of a Boston Terrier, who was
with me all of TWO days before he was adopted . 
So you may be wondering, what is fostering?  Fostering a shelter animal involves taking an animal from a shelter or rescue and bringing it into your home and caring for it as if it was your own until the animal is ready for adoption.  Often times, shelters have animals that cannot be adopted out for one reason or another, such as puppies that are too young to be vaccinated or animals that are recovering from medical procedures.  There are also  animals that need a little bit of extra help before finding their forever homes, like basic obedience training, or learning to trust people again, or medical conditions that would do better in a home environment.  Shelters also have animals that are simply "unwanted" for one reason or another  (owners were moving, or pregnant, or just didn't want a pet anymore or insert any other excuse for getting rid of a pet that was supposed to be a lifetime commitment).  One thing is true for all of them, they would LOVE to finally have a family to call their own.  That's where foster parents come in.  We take animals and help them find
their forever homes.  Fostering animals is a big commitment and not one to be taken lightly.  It involves dedication and hard work, but the reward is indescribable.

As a foster parent, one must consider many things before taking that leap. 

Is your family ready to foster?
When considering fostering, it isn’t always easy.  Talk with your family and make sure everybody is prepared and accepting of the new responsibility.  You must also consider the new financial responsibility.  Are you ready to take on feeding another mouth?

 Do you have kids?
If you have kids, it does not automatically disqualify you to be a foster parent; it just means you need to pick a foster that is pet friendly.  The staff at the shelter can help point you in the right direction as to which animals are kid friendly. 

Kaila, my personal dog, looks on as foster pup Gizmo
pounces on our foster Rukka's head. 
Do you have other pets?
Similar to the children question.  You just need to find an animal that will get along well with others.  If you have cats, you don’t want a foster that will terrify your cat.  Or if you have a big beautiful macaw, you don’t want an animal that will eat it in one gulp.  Once again, ask shelter staff for help to point you in the right direction.  They know the animals best.

What is your housing situation? 
This question is important to consider in order to ensure you find the right fit for your house.  Unless you have copious hours of the day to devote to exercising, you wouldn’t want to bring home a super hyper large breed dog into a tiny condo or apartment. 

Do you have a yard?
This question is important when fostering dogs.  If you don’t  have a yard or if you live second floor or above, you’ll have to consider options for your dog to potty throughout the day.  You can take them out ever couple of hours, or use potty pads, or the fake grass patches.

How long are you willing to open your home to a foster animal?
You can foster for a specified amount of time, or until the animal finds a home.  I personally like to foster until the animal finds a home.  It provides me with a sense of accomplishment and I like to see the progress my fosters have made in their time with me.  This is something you can also talk to shelter staff about if you decide to take the leap and foster.

Do you have the time to deal with an animal that may have issues?  Do you have the patience to work through those issues with the animal?
Most shelter animals have had poor past life experiences.  Many of the shelter animals have suffered abuse, neglect, and/or malnutrition along with the obvious abandonment by previous owners.  Some animals need more help than others need.  Some just need basic obedience and potty training.  One must be willing to spend the time and have the patience to teach the dog basic manners and that the house is not for going potty.  And trust me, it’s hard not to scream when you clean up one pile of pee just to turn around and see another.  But that’s the life of a foster parent and in the end, when there are no more puddles, it is beyond rewarding. 
Now there are other pets  have no issues and just haven’t found their homes yet.  Then there are others, which are called special needs fosters, which require a bit more time and a bit more care.   

What is a special needs foster?
My first special needs foster, Wesson, who suffered from
demodectic mange
A special needs foster is an animal that needs just a little bit more love.  This could be in the form of medical needs (broken bone, heartworm positive, mange, etc) or socialization (learning how to be a dog or cat, learning how to get along with others, or to not fear people).  These fosters typically require a more time and more work.  Most of the time, that means giving the animal medication daily, or a bath once a week with special shampoo, or taking him/her to new places to meet new people and learn that new situations are okay and not scary.  It’s not so much that special needs fosters are “harder” to deal with, they just require more of a commitment on your part. 

Will you be able to take your animal to adoption events once or twice a month?
This usually comes in the form of taking the animal to Petco or Petsmart so potential adopters can meet your foster animal and hopefully are adopted to go to their fur-ever homes.  Not all shelters have adoption events, but many do!  You can find out by consulting their website, or asking shetler staff. 

So, you’ve decided that you’re ready to take the leap into fostering.  What now?  First, find a shelter or rescue you’d like to foster for.  You can check online to find rescues in your area.  I usually foster for the Oahu SPCA.  The next step in the process for the OSPCA is to fill out an application online (http://www.oahuspca.org/pages/fosterform.html) or in person.  Next, go down to the shelter and talk to someone.  Tell them about your home and your life (kids, other pets, housing situation, how long you’d like to foster, etc) and they will be able to point you in the right directions, suggesting some animals that may fit your family.  Just like when determining if fostering is right for you, there are many factors to take into consideration.

Bring the whole family (including Fido)!
When you go to pick out your new foster, it is especially important that everyone is a part of the process.  See how the animal interacts with you.  What is he/she like?  Hyper, calm, submissive, dominant?  Make sure to pick a foster baby that will fit your home, but do keep in mind that the behavior you see at the shelter is not always the behavior they will exhibit at home.  Ask one of the staff or volunteers for more information.  They know the animals best!  Make sure you bring your kids! 
Rukka, my first foster, cuddled up with my personal dog Kaila. 
By bringing the kids, you get to see how they interact with the animal, as well as how the animal interacts with them.  Sometimes things click, sometimes they don’t.  Same goes for Fido.  Make sure your furbaby (or furbabies) get along with your new foster.  No, it isn’t always going to work.  But it’s best to find out while still at the shelter rather than in your home.  And, by meeting at the shelter, your dog is on neutral territory and doesn’t feel like he/she has to defend his home or his humans.  If it doesn’t work at the shelter, it probably will not work at home.  If you feel even the least bit uneasy about the decision, sit and think on it, and come back another day.  There are always animals looking for loving foster homes. 

Ask questions!
Ask questions about your new foster baby!  Ask about their past, temperament, age, special characteristics, favorite toys or past times.  If you decide to foster a special needs animal, ask what the requirements are (special diet, daily medication, weekly baths, limited activity, etc).  Volunteers and staff members spend a lot of time with the animals and have come to know them well.  Most would take all of them home if they could! Don’t be afraid to ask.  There is no such thing as too many questions. 

Make sure the animal fits your lifestyle.
It’s important to make sure the dog you choose will suit your lifestyle.  If you are an active person, an active dog would be right for you.  However, if you spend most of your day at work and just want to relax when you come home, an active dog may not be the right choice for you.  However, if you are the kind of person who wants to go hiking on weekends and jogs daily, you probably don’t want to pick an animal that can’t keep up with you.  Make sure to take into consideration your job and home, if you have a hectic home with constant commotion, you probably do not want to pick an older dog or a timid dog that needs to learn to come out of its shell.  It’s all about the right fit for you and your household. 

So , you have your new furry friend loaded up and you’re on your way home.  What now?  What should you expect from the new foster?  Remember this is a new place and new situation for him/her.  Be patient.  Take your time.  Realize it will take a while for him/her to accept his/her new surroundings and be comfortable.  It’s important to make sure you and your family are on the same page when it comes to your foster.  There are some tried and true ways to make your foster’s stay more comfortable for everyone involved.

Create a safe haven for your foster
Little Gizmo thought her crate was just
too big and  felt safer in Andrew's pocket .
Moving from the shelter to a new temporary home can be hard on some animals, especially those that are timid or who have special needs.  Try to create a safe haven for them in a quiet low-traffic area of the home.  This doesn’t mean they should be isolated in a room; it just means that their spot should be quiet enough but not isolated, that way they can observe the activities of the household and participate in them as needed.  For our foster dogs, that means they get their own crate with a blankets and a dog bed in separate corners of our living room. There’s just two of us in the household, and he’s gone most of the day at his job, so it’s usually only me home.  By being in the living room, they can observe our behavior, but they aren’t the center of attention.  No one goes in their crates, except for them.  That means no one reaches in to pull him/her out, or even to pet the foster dog.  The only time I go into our dog’s kennels is to wash their blankets and sanitize the crates.  For a cat, this could mean creating a high place with a soft bed and some cat toys.  By creating a safe haven, if the animal is allowed to acclimate to its new surroundings at its own pace.

Set rules (and make sure everyone enforces them)
Make sure you have rules clearly outlined for your new foster baby and make sure everyone in the family enforces them.  Trying to acclimate to a new environment is stressful enough without trying to figure out the rules when one person says “yes you can be on the furniture” and the next says “no you cannot!”  Determine where the animal is and is not allowed (rooms, on the furniture, in the bed, etc)  and what the rules are (must sleep in a kennel at night,  can't beg when family is eating, etc) and STICK TO IT!  It's only fair to you, and to him, to set rules and stay with them.  It makes everyone's life easier in the end. 

Set a schedule!
One of the easiest ways to help create good habits is to set a schedule.  Try to keep your new foster on the same schedule from day one if possible.  Feed, walk, and play with him/her at regular times.  If you are fostering a dog, try to schedule potty breaks at the same time every day.  While it may not always be possible to do this (due to work or other commitments), try to make it as regular as possible.  Yes, that means weekends too!  This will help the animal acclimate to your home and reduce the number of accidents in your home. 

Remember, accidents happen
This is all new to your foster and to you.  I think the saying goes, expect the unexpected.  Your foster may have a strange aversion to certain things that you may not have noticed while at the shelter (hats, balloons, shadows, men, etc).  Your foster may also have separation anxiety and you will never know until the first time you leave him/her alone and you get texts and calls from your neighbor asking what you’re doing to your new pet.  You may also find that your new pet refuses to go potty where you want him/her to, or that he/she chews on walls, or claws up furniture, or tears up the carpet.  Just remember, it’s not the end of the world.  Though it may seem so at the time, things can be fixed and replaced.  Patience (and a close eye) is key.  Just like children, these animals need someone to teach them and show them the way they are supposed to behave and correct their current problem behaviors.  And remember, there are resources out there to help you if you’re struggling with your foster.  Feel free to email us or leave a comment with any questions or concerns you may have. 

Lyra, one of my foster puppies, fournd her forever home at a
Petco adoption event
Once you feel your foster is ready to find his forever home and you’ve been given the all clear from the shelter, there are many options to find his new family.  One of the easiest ways to do so is to attend adoption events.  Adoption events are typically hosted at a pet friendly store (such as Petsmart or Petco) and animals from the shelter and animals that are in foster care are brought to the location to gain exposure and hopefully
find their forever family.  Typically, the events are on weekends and run from 2 – 4 hours.  You will bring your foster and hold his leash and answer any questions potential adopters may have,  usually the basics such as age, breed, sex, temperament and so on.  If someone decides to adopt your baby, they’ll begin the application process, facilitated by the lead volunteer. 

Another option is to network online via social media sites like facebook, the shelters website, and even craigslist.  By posting a picture and information on your animal on sites that are widely used, it increases the chances of being seen by someone who may be interested in adopting the dog.  Often times when someone sees the dog online, they’ll want to meet him in person before deciding to adopt (be wary if they want to adopt without meeting the dog; adopting a dog solely on looks is not a wise choice).  They will contact you either via the site they saw the dog, or through the adoption coordinator for the shelter.  From there, the two of you can arrange a time and place to meet so they can interact with the dog and see if he is a good fit for the family.  Just like an adoption event, you’ll answer any questions they may have and help them determine if the dog is right for them and their family.  It’s a good idea for the dog to meet everyone in the family (human and four legged companions) if possible.  This decreases the chance of  issues arising  between new pets and old pets, as well as between the animal and other human family members. 

My two current fosters, Roscoe and Dodger.  Their just so
cute.  How could I NOT talk about them? 
Another option is word of mouth.  I love my  fosters.  I talk about them ALL THE TIME.  Anyone who knows me can probably tell you how many dogs I have, what breed, and who did what this week.  I talk about them to anyone and everyone that will listen (aaaand a few who don’t particularly care, but are too polite to walk away).  By telling someone about the dog, they may tell their friend who tells a friend who’s looking for a dog about your foster.  Maybe that will be your fosters forever home.  Maybe not.   Point is, get the dog out there!  However that may be.  I take our fosters everywhere.  Dog parks, beaches, shopping centers, drive thru fast food places, friends houses, etc and always tell people their up for adoption.  Sometimes they even wear bandanas that say “ADOPT ME” so as to catch people’s eye.  The harder YOU work to put your dog out there, the more likely he is to find a forever home.


Once someone has decided they want to adopt your lovely foster, they'll have to go through the adoption process as set forth by the shelter.  Every shelter is different so be sure to ask them what their procedure is.  For the Oahu SPCA, first step is to fill out an application.  The new parent can fill out the application online or in person, from there, shelter staff will review the application and consult with you.  If you both feel that it is a good home for the foster, they will be approved and  the new parent will have to go down to the shelter and pay the adoption fee.  Once the adoption fee has been paid and you've been given the "all clear" from shelter staff, foster fido may be given over to his new family.  Sometimes, the new family will come to your house and pick the animal up, sometimes you may drive to drop him off, sometimes you may meet at the shelter or another specified location that is convenient for both of you.  It all depends on what you and the new parents decide.  Then its time to give foster fido a kiss and send him off to his new home to become the newest member of their family pack. 

Often times I get asked, isn't it hard to let them go?  The answer is yes and no.  It's a double edged sword for me.  Yes, I get very attached to the animals that I bring in, no matter how long or short they are in my household.  I love them all, very very much.   And yes, it is sad to see them go,  but I know I am only a stepping stone for them.  I'm someone to teach them basic manners, show them love, help them heal, be it psychological wounds or physical,  and prepare them to succeed in the "real world" so to speak.  It's always hard to say goodbye.  But, when I know it is the right family, I feel good, it makes me happy.  I know I've done the best I can and I've reached my goal of getting one more animal out of the shelter and into a great forever home.  Because of me, one more animal is now loved, cared for, and out of the shelter and into an awesome home. Now that he is in a forever home, I can move on to the next dog that needs my help, and trust me, there will ALWAYS be another dog that needs help.  And the process starts all over again for me.  Go down to the shelter, find dogs that may be a good fit, do a test run with our two, bring someone home, love, care for, feed, and then find a forever home.  Its an endless loop for me.  I love it and I wouldn't trade it for the world.  My dogs give me purpose. And I know I can't save everyone, but I will try.  Fostering is my way of giving back.  It's a win win situation.  I create space at the shelter by bringing a foster into my home, the foster gets experience living in a home, and I feel great AND I get lots of doggy love (who can deny the awesomeness of doggy kisses?!).  
This little doll started out as a foster
and ended up a permanent member
of our pack.  

For me, there's nothing more rewarding than taking a dog, especially ones that are often overlooked for one reason or another, and turning them into an easily adoptable animal through a bit of love, patience, and training.  Fostering is an experience unlike any other.  I urge any animal lover to try it at least once. Be it a puppy, or an older dog,  cat, kitten, anything.  You'll fall in love with fostering.  No matter what they've been through, they still love unconditionally.  And it rubs off on you. Who knows, you might just fall in love and find the newest addition to your own pack! 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Introduction to Rescuers101

Sad, lost, abandoned, and confused - That is how many animals arrive at a shelter. All in various states of health, various ages, various breeds, and all from different backgrounds/situations. However, one thing remains the same...they need someone to step up and help them, to love them, and to show them that life is good. That is where we come in. We are the voices for the voiceless, we stand up for them when others cant or won’t and we help them on their path to recovery, whatever that may be. We are the animal advocates, foster parents, the trust, the feeders, and the light. We are Rescuers 101.  

Quite a few of us work with the Oahu SPCA - here is a quick introduction for them: “Every healthy, treatable animal will find a forever home" has been a success thanks to the support of wonderful people like you, who are an instrumental part in establishing the first Oahu SPCA and the largest animal shelter in Hawaii based on a “no-kill” philosophy. The Oahu Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded in 2009 when, within three months, they were thrown into a large scale sheltering operation, in the largest rescue in Hawaii's history. Each day they rescue animals suffering from abuse, neglect and abandonment throughout the island, primarily on Oahu, and re-home more than twenty animals each week. The non-profit organization survives on the generosity of animal lovers such as yourself. You can help to make a difference for hundreds of our animal friends with your donation and/or support towards the Oahu SPCA. Your gift will help them to Rescue, Rehabilitate, and Re-home these beautiful animals. Find the Oahu SPCA on Facebook or visit them on the web atwww.oahuspca.org to help work toward reducing euthanasia of Oahu's homeless, abandoned, abused and neglected animals.

We know that at some point in their lives everyone has rescued a kitten from the road side, find a dog running loose or even taken a foster animal into your home. It isn't always easy, there are questions, worries and concerns. Please feel free to ask us, with our diverse group - we have probably seen or done it. So please feel free to email us (rescuers101@yahoo.com) questions, problems, situations, sad stories, happy stories, and anything pertaining to animals. We will help, answer, showcase and share it!

You’ll see stories of our favorite animals, some of which that have suffered, but have still shown unconditional love. You’ll see some of the issues we face every day and measures that can be taken to limit or prevent the issues. And, of course, causes we are passionate about. These are our personal stories and experiences from countless years in animal rescue. Our small group all come from unique rescuers, we all have different backgrounds and different jobs. In this blog we will be following the stories of Dex, Nilly, Blanca, Jack & Jill, Hera, Bebe, "The Piggies" and many more. 

Let us introduce just a few of the people who will be writing for us.

Sass' kids - Beau and Maddy
Sass' kids L-R : Indiana, Charlie and Beau
Sass - "My name is Sass Smith. I have always had a way with animals - I have always just put it down to a friendship and respect. It wasn't until August 2011 that I was really thrown into the rescue world - and I will be forever indebted to this amazingly giving person who always put them first. It wasn't a quick submersion into the rescue world but after a point it is all consuming. If you are in the business, you know what I'm talking about. You just can't help it. You become driven - driven to rescue them all. However, I digress - I grew up in Brisbane, Australia. A place where the rescue scene isn't as big, but animals are a big part of your life. I grew up with dogs, rats, horses, birds and fish. I got MY first dog at age four and lost her nineteen years later. I guess you could say that is where my devotion comes from. Jae (my dog) was my world, she was extremely loyal, loving and the best friend a growing girl could ever want. I went to college and focused on Criminology, Behavioral Science, Law and Journalism. Although a fascinating career path, it wasn't for me. Recently, I have made it my world to understand the canine companions. I am studying to become a dog obedience trainer, I am also in school to become a Vet Tech. Understand a dog is my love. I am an avid reader of all things furry and for the last year have been the adoption coordinator at the Oahu SPCA. Whilst there I have worked with all sorts of dogs and cats - my latest "project" has been a three year old feral shepherd who has resided at the Oahu SPCA since November who has zero trust for humans or her canine brothers and sisters. Every day I sit with her and have recently started walking her - the leash being a new concept for her makes every day a challenge to get that little bit further down the street. I will write more about Nilly in upcoming weeks. I also have four dogs of my own - three of whom have come through the rescue system and came to me in not the best emotional state. I have worked with Beau (five year old abuse rescue) since November 2011 and he has recently graduated as my service dog. He spent three years being physically abused. Charlie and Maddy were victims of abuse and neglect. I cannot imagine my life without them. I look forward to learning more about the rescue world and hope that I can use my experiences to help others. My reasoning behind wanting to start this rescue resource is my experiences in every day life. After working ten hours a day at a shelter that has zero government funding, my experiences have been amazing good and tear jerkingly bad. Some days you see the best and others you really see the worst and wonder how you can keep going on. I want to share this - I want to show people what really goes on. I want to showcase the challenges, the negativity, the cruelty, the hatred, the love, the devotion and the exceptional people you get to meet. I get to do amazing things everyday - I want to tell the world". 

Duchess - Montana's Oahu SPCA Foster Fail

Montana - My name is Montana and I've loved animals, more specifically dogs, before I could even walk. It started with my grandparents dog, a big black Akita named Kilo. I would sit out side and make him mud pies all day long and use him as my pillow. He was my very best friend, even though he weighed three times as much as me and I could probably have ridden him as a horse. My love carried over, and at the age of 12, I began volunteering with a couple of rescues in Las Vegas, Nevada. Every weekend, my mother would make the hour long drive down to the petco where I would help set up the event, walk the dogs, and tear down when done. Then the hour long journey back home. It was my first experience in working with shelter dogs, and my first experience in fostering (it always started with "Mom, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease?" and big sad eyes). We only had two puppy fosters, and only for a week, but I knew I was in love and as soon as I was old enough, big enough, on my own, I knew I would return. Unfortunately, my volunteering came to an end, but that didn't curb my love for animals. Even though I was unable to volunteer, I spent a lot of time with our personal dogs, most of which were Pit Bulls. I grew up around Pit Bulls and they have stolen my heart. Unfortunately, due to breed specific legislation on military bases, my Pit Bulls now reside at home with my Mother. After high school, I moved to Oregon for college, where I doted on our family dogs, including the awesome fat roll of an English Bulldog named Baylor. Baylor became my constant companion, following me around the house, attempting to go on walks (when you're that fat, its hard) and generally being a nuisance. After a couple of years in college I got engaged to Andrew and moved Oahu, which is where I am now. We've been on island since August and I got my very first dog of my own in September. Kaila is my special girl. She is an eighteen month old German Shepherd/Hound mix. Smart as a whip, careful and kind, but a little bit broken. When we got her, she wouldn't move. She would hide on our back patio for hours and cower in fear. She hated men, especially men in uniform, and would growl and hide from Andrew whenever he was around. She wouldn't eat, or play, or move. The only time her tail would come out from between her legs was walks. She had severe separation anxiety and had to be medicated for quite some time. In October, Andrew went away for training for a month and in that time Kaila bloomed. Without a man around, she came out of her shell. Her tail wagged (just a little, but it was something), she started eating, and her training progress grew exponentially; she became my little shadow. Utterly devoted to me and by my side all of the time. Andrew returned home, and she reverted a little, but with a couple of weeks and patience on his part, she grew to accept him. Upon his return I begged to foster dogs. I knew we could only have two, and I wasn't ready for a second permanent one, so we started out fostering.  
Montana's Pack L-R: Roscoe, Dodger, Duchess, Kaila

Since November of 2012, we have had 10+ foster dogs (and a couple cats) through our home. We had our first foster fail a couple of months ago when Andrew fell in love with a Shar Pei mix puppy. She was feral, caught in a humane trap with her brothers and sisters, and only a couple of weeks old, refused to eat or drink. She was needy and screamed whenever alone, so we carried her around in a baby sling. Now at six months, she is still needy and screams when left alone, but she's a good girl and has made lots of progress. Having these two has been an adventure, and even more so with the constant trickle of fosters through our home, but I wouldn't change it for the world! I want to share my experiences because it has made me who I am. I often get asked, isn't it hard to let them go? The answer is no, as long as it the right family it is not. I know I've done the best I can do for them and I helped them on their way to finding their very own forever home. I know I can't adopt them all, I know I can't save them all, but I can try. And one of the easiest ways to do so, is to raise awareness and inspire others to help out, be it volunteering at a shelter, fostering dogs, donating, anything really. Every little bit helps. I hope through my stories and experiences, others will be inspired to get involved and to help those who need it the most, the voiceless furbabies, who, for one reason or another, have ended up at a shelter.

Lisa's Beautiful Furry Friend
Lisa - "My name is Lisa DeRego. I was born into a family of animal lovers and grew up surrounded by dogs, cats, horses and the occasional bunny. My parents instilled a kindness and compassion for all living things in my brother, sister and me at a very early age. I have lived in Hawaii for almost 25 years. While there are many things I love about island life, one my my greatest disappointments in our state are the lax laws regarding animal protection. It reflects so poorly on the loving, caring image our state projects to the world. While I have always supported rescue organizations with donations of money, supplies and the like I did not actively begin fostering until my beloved "chipmunks" needed a place to go. Those puppies are the best advertisement for animal rescue and fostering. The tiny little bundles of sickly puppy that we picked up from the OSPCA that October day are worlds away from my rambunctious, insane, maniacal PERFECT 10 month old puppies. We can't remember life before them. We've fostered a few kitties along the way and now have the honor and pleasure of watching Dex realize love. He's old, missing teeth and about to become a tripod but he knows unequivocally that he is loved, adored and treasured. Many people tell me "I could not foster". To those people, I say, take 5 minutes and go to the shelter website. LOOK, really look, at those sad, hopeful little faces and tell THEM why you can't do it. I'm very fortunate in many ways. I love what I do. I own a dog walking and pet sitting business called Simply Pets Hawaii. I am blessed to spend my days and nights walking dogs, pet sitting and transporting pets to vet and groom appointments. It's our belief that pets do better in their own environment, so we provide in home pet care as an alternative to boarding". 

Rhea - Rhea is a graduate of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from University of the Philippines. She has been in small animal practices for seven years - specifically treating dogs and cats. She has worked at Dr. Nonie Coutts Veterinary Surgery in Bahrain and has recently started volunteering for the Oahu SPCA using her skills and knowledge to help them care for the multitude of animals that come through the doors - making sure they are healthy and up to date with vaccines and microchips.  Rhea is an amazingly strong person whose dedication to animals is nothing short of amazing. She has dedicated her life to ensuring that all animals have the care they need and deserve. Rhea is invaluable asset to the Oahu SPCA and to us at Rescuers101. Rhea told us that "Treating sick animals is one of my passions. I was told that the night I was born, cats were roaming around our house. Sure enough, I grew up taking care of stray cats". She is the proud Mama of a siamese cat and Shih Tzu back home. If you have a question for Rhea - feel free to email us. 

Disclaimer - Please be advised that none of us are veterinarians, our advise is given from experience in the field. If you have serious concerns or questions about your pet's health, please consult a vet hospital. 

The "Piggies"

Meet the Pigs!

Gargoyle (m) and Gremline (f) came to the Oahu SPCA on May 12th, 2012. These adorable six-month old Blue Pit Bull siblings are the sweetest babies. The are extremely affectionate and will do anything for a cuddle. We knew when they came in that they had been diagnosed with Demodectic Mange. Demodectic mange is caused by a sensitivity to and overpopulation of Demodex Canis (a tiny parasitic mites that live in or near hair follicles) if the animal's immune system is unable to keep the mites under control.

However, after a short time with us we noticed that Demodectic Mange wasn't the only thing that may be wrong - healthwise. Unfortunately, it looks like their family history is a little close - in short, inbreeding. Gargoyle has started to become under developed. His walking is labored. When Gargoyle first came to us he weighed 25lbs. Gremline was 35lbs. This is unusual because Gargoyle is the male and would normally be the larger. He is also suffering a corkscrew tail. 

Their picture and story was shared on the Oahu SPCA Facebook page and it went viral. A short time later, the shelter was contacted by Kama'aina Pet Hospital (www.kamaainapethospital.com). They offered to take care of the treatment of the Demodectic Mange to help them recover. They have supplied their medication and vet care free of charge and love their company each week for their check up. 

On their first visit (6/7/13), Gargoyle's condition was definitely a concern. However, they had their full health work up. Gremline was at 52lbs and Gargoyle was at 32lbs. A definite improvement. Their skin was also starting to look a little better. After hours of tests and skin scrapes, a new treatment plan of Simplicef, Ivomectic, Maleseb/Pyoben baths and Diphenhydramine (Benedryl) was prescribed. Grem is well on her way to looking and feeling so much healthier with her new treatment plan. Gargie will need some more in-depth care. 

An X-Ray of his lower half shows some serious malformations in his spine and rear end. We are working with Dr. Erik Pegg and Dr. Deanna Pegg (and the staff) to come up with a plan of attack for his care and future health. The Oahu SPCA cannot thank you enough for the help, support and care that was shown by Kama'aina Pet Hospital and they look forward to our weekly visits. 

Gremline - 6month Old Blue Pit Bull
Let's introduce them a little more!

Gremline, or Grem for short, is an amazing girl. She is very loving baby. She is never short of a kiss and a hug. With help, she is learning to sit on command. This little thing (little being age, not weight) is as loyal as they come. She will happily sit beside you and will never turn down a snuggle on your lap if it's big enough. Just recently she received her first toy at the shelter - it was a grey elephant with lots of legs. It was her best friend of all time. She carried it everywhere. She was even super nice and shared it with Gargoyle. 

For most of her life, she has been taking care of her baby brother (Gargoyle). She makes sure he is warm and will always protect him on a walk. She will even lie beside him and put her arm over him to make sure that he is warm and safe. 

This girl is a social butterfly, she loves to go on her long walks and play in the park - she even loves her weekly visits to Kama'aina Pet Hospital because she gets to ride in the car (her favorite) and see all her favorite people and smell amazing things. Grem loves life to the fullest and hasn't let her previous life slow her down. 

Gargoyle - 6 month old Blue Pit Bull
Gargoyle, or Gargie for short, is a very unique little man. He has always been the littlest and has never let that stop him. He goes for what he wants - DINNER. He loves his chow and his kisses. Born with a spinal defect and corkscrew tail he will always have a distinct walk. In the words of a friend of his "he was born into retirement". He will have limits for the rest of his life, he will be unable to walk long distances, walk up and down stairs, or be able to run/jump. But he is ok with that. 

He is a little slow waking up, but he is extremely friendly and always wants to be a part of the show. His favorite spot is on his comfy bed where he can watch what is going on. He isn't big on toys, but he does like to pick on his big sister. He will walk up beside her and nibble on her ear. She will gently play with him and he loves it. Gargie has one of the best smiles around - just look how happy he is (pictured right). He loves to walk out to the grass and sit down and smell all the smells - you can truly see the goofy pup that he is. He will also never turn down free ride (you carrying him) back from his walk. He loves a long cuddle. 

These two beautiful babies will be followed through their treatments and hopefully onto their new and wonderful forever homes. The "Piggies" are currently residing at the Oahu SPCA if you wish to go by and say hi. They love visitors and you can see just how long their loving tongues really are!

Dex - From Tethered to Tremendous

Dex's journey started with the Oahu SPCA started December 21st, 2012. He was tied to our fence early one morning. He was barely able to walk and had very little fur. He was diagnosed with Demodectic Mange and a recently injured leg. In the last few months, he has been receiving treatment for his Mange and we are managing his leg injury with pain medication.

The Great Staff at Waipahu Waikele Pet Hospital on his Stage 1 check in day.
At the beginning of May,  he received his second NEGATIVE skin scrap and has officially been cleared of Demodectic  Mange. His coat is looking fine and he is stronger than ever. The Oahu SPCA decided to look into other management options for his read leg. We decided to consult with Dr. Achiu at Waipahu Waikele Pet Hospital. When at the vet, Dr. Achiu gave us some medical insight into Dex. They believe that Dex was slightly older than we believed. She put his age at over 8-Years old. They evaluated his teeth and made an alarming discovery that the majority of his teeth were shattered or cracked. They recommended 70% removal of his current teeth. On May 23rd 2013, he spent the day at the clinic and had his teeth removed and he was neutered. 

It was also confirmed by x-rays that his back right hock joint was dislocated and not set properly - hence his limp. This is why we started Dex's Surgery Fund. We are looking into removing the effected joint area - amputation. Which is a very serious and expensive surgery. He is managing very well right now and will even bear full weight on it - unfortunately we cannot keep him on pain killers for the rest of his life. The vet has recommended to remove the limb. X-Rays of the L hip were done to see if the hip would handle the amputation and everything looks great. 

Due to his age, we wanted to limit the times he is sedated. Hence why we are doing his surgery in stages. His first stages was the teeth removal and neuter.  Then after recovery (in a few months) completing the amputation.  He is ready and waiting on enough funds to pay for Stage two. 

All of this comes at a large cost. We wanted to share his story with you to see if you would be interested in helping Dex with his two surgery dates. The complete cost is almost $4,200. Dex is a great dog, he isn't letting his injury or mange slow him down. 

Foster Words - 
Dex loves his car rides!

After Stage 1 - Dex wasn't feeling so good, but Lisa (foster Mama) looked after him. 

Dex always has a smile on his face !

Dex loves to follow bugs!

He will also require a long term foster home to recover in - we are looking at someone who has had experience with rehabilitation. If you are interested in helping donate, please do so on here. If you wish to help Dex in other ways (foster/wet food donations) please email sarah@oahuspca.org! You can also donate at 

Even the Office Cat (Cali) is on Dex's plight!

Dex looking happy and handsome!