Tips to handling orphaned or wounded baby wildlife

I was thrilled when winter was officially over and the days started to get warmer, as I love the sun. It’s exciting to see the cycle of life as trees turn green, flowers bloom and new wildlife is born. This also is the time when Nevada Humane Society’s Animal Help Desk is flooded with calls regarding orphaned or injured baby birds and baby bunnies.

Sadly, because of serious budget cuts, the Nevada Department of Wildlife no longer offers services to assist individuals seeking help with orphaned wildlife. Here are some tips that will help you do what’s best for them.

» If you find a baby bird or baby bunny, the very first thing to determine is if the animal is truly in need of help or should be left alone or placed back into its nest. Is the baby animal bleeding, shivering, vomiting or was it attacked by another animal?

If the answer is no, you should try to locate and place the baby back inside the nest and watch for the mother to see if she returns. You need to stay completely out of sight; mothers won’t return if any people or pets are present. Keep in mind that mothers might be away for hours at a time but usually return at dawn and dusk.

A baby bunny that is about four to five inches long, able to hop, with eyes open and ears up, does not need help. They are able to survive on their own and should be left alone.

If you find a baby bird, look to see if the bird is feathered. If it is, then it’s a fledgling, and it is normal behavior for them to be hopping on the ground with the parents still feed them. If the bird is not feathered yet, it is most likely a nestling and will require some help. Again, the best thing is to find the nest.

If you cannot locate the nest, make a substitute one by poking holes in the bottom of a margarine tub, line with dry grass or pine needles, and hang from original or nearby tree. The parents will hear their young and find them.

Please remember: A baby bird’s or rabbit’s best chance for survival is its parents.

For more information, please contact the Nevada Humane Society’s Animal Help Desk at animalhelp@nevadahumanesociety.org or 775-856-2000, ext. 200.

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Keep garden safe for animals

This is a busy time of year for those of us who enjoy gardening. There are a few things you can do to keep your yard and garden safe for your pets and wild animals, too.

Some lovely garden plants can be toxic to animals. If your pets tend to eat plants, see a full list of toxic plants on the Animal Poison Control Center’s website, www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control.

Fertilizers can be attractive to some animals and can cause digestive upset or more serious problems. Careful storage and following of the instructions on the package for the appropriate waiting period after application will protect your pets. The same goes for insecticides and herbicides.

Nontoxic pest control, such as diatomaceous earth (food or garden grade — not the treated stuff for pools); Safer Insecticidal Soap; Sluggo Plus; and BT, or Bonide Bacillus Thuringiensis, are effective and a lot safer.

If rabbits or other small animals are eating your plants, try raised beds or planting a perimeter of plants that the animals do not like. These plants include garlic, onions, chives, lavender and marigolds. You can lure animals away by planting things they really like in another area of the yard, such as clover, alfalfa, long grass or wildflowers.

Ears of corn can be protected from animals with a spray of water mixed with hot sauce or cayenne pepper — spray regularly as ears grow. Mesh, hardware cloth or a loop-wire tunnel works for low plants.

When I was a kid, we made a scarecrow and hung strips cut from aluminum pie plates to scare off unwelcome garden visitors. These days, you can buy fake snakes or owls, but inexpensive wind socks or chimes also will drive off many animals.

Cats or dogs digging in your garden? Chicken wire laid on the ground will put a stop to that.

There are also deterrents you can purchase.

They come in three basic types that are effective for keeping animals from using your yard or garden as a bathroom stop or snack bar while still being humane:

» Ultrasonic sound devices: Humans cannot hear them, but animals do and go the other way. (Buy a model with settings that work for your target animals.)

» Motion-activated water repellents deter animals with a sudden burst of water.

» Scent deterrents, usually sprays or crystals that can be applied to surfaces or sprinkled on the ground.

Give some of these suggestions a try and you’ll feel good knowing you took a savvy, safe and humane approach to solving the challenge of animals in the garden.

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Raising funds for our homeless pets

We all feel the pinch of our tough economic times in so many ways. Foreclosures and empty storefronts still are popping up like wild flowers. We see it every day at the Nevada Humane Society shelter, where people are lined up to surrender pets because they have been forced to move or can’t afford to care for them anymore. For so many, it seems like there is no hope — like the upturn will never come.

Everyone feels the pain — families, businesses, government and certainly nonprofit organizations. But the amazing thing about humanity is how much those who do have rise up to help those who don’t — and this includes the homeless pets of the community.

We see this generosity in large donations from pet supply businesses and in the one bag of pet food from a pet-loving family. We see it in large cash sums to buy a specific piece of veterinary equipment and in the coins from a neighborhood lemonade stand.

I regularly get calls from businesses, clubs and individuals saying “we know you especially need help now, and what can we do?”

So, I thought I would share some specific things that have been done lately to help homeless pets through Nevada Humane Society:

» Two Eagle Scouts completed their service projects on our behalf — one built multiple cat trees that our cats love and the other upgraded one of our cat colony rooms with furnishings and shelves where cats now happily perch.

» A motorcycle club sponsored a pet supply drive and brought in numerous pallets of dog food, cat food and cat litter.

» A young boy forfeited birthday presents, instead asking his friends to bring him presents for the shelter animals. He brought in the stash with no regrets, only a proud ear-to-ear grin.

» A local business displays our brochures and a donation jar in a prominent place in their shop. Another business gives free ID tags to anyone who has adopted an animal from us. And another is selling our Real Housepets of Washoe County tote bags to benefit the animals.

» An elementary girl decided to conduct a raffle all by herself. She got the prize donated and is selling the raffle tickets. At the end, all proceeds will go to NHS.

These are just a few examples of how this community comes to the aid of our homeless pets. If you are looking for something to do right now, how about signing up for our Walk for Animals on June 4 and start collecting your pledges today? It’s a great fundraiser for individuals, families, or a team of friends or co-workers.

Thank you for everything you already do and for considering new ways to help maintain Washoe County as one of the safest communities in the country for homeless pets.

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Make sure to plan for disasters with pets

The tornados in the mid-west and earthquakes in Japan remind us that while disasters differ by region, they occur with little warning. When it comes to our pets, advance planning can make a life or death difference for them.

The FEMA website offers clear advice concerning pets: “If you evacuate your home, do not leave your pets behind!” What might seem like a short-term evacuation can be extended for prolonged periods, and your pet’s life might depend on your ability to take it with you.

You’ll want to plan where you will go in advance. Perhaps a friend or relative will welcome you and your pets, or there are pet-friendly hotels or boarding facilities outside the area. When evacuation is recommended, people with pets should not wait until the last moment.

At the very first sign of a potential disaster, bring your pets indoors. This is important because animals instinctively hide when things go wrong; and you want to be able to find your pets quickly. Even a calm pet might panic and try to run away, so be sure you have a secure pet carrier, leash or harness for each of your pets.

 

Having identification on your animals will dramatically increase the likelihood of you and your pets being reunited should you become separated. A tag on a collar is good, but a microchip is the most reliable identification for your pet. Be sure your current phone number is on the ID or on file with the microchip company. Take a photo of each of your pets with your cell phone camera as proof of ownership.

Pack extra pet care items in an easy-to-grab kit, including: pet food and bottles of water, medications, cat litter/pan, food/water dishes, blankets, toys, paper towels and plastic bags for clean-up, and vaccination records in a waterproof zip-lock bag.

Enlist a willing and trusted neighbor or friend to assist your pets in case you are not home when disaster strikes. This person should be familiar with your animals and have a key to your home.

Place stickers on the doors to your home to notify rescue personnel that animals are present and where they can find your evacuation kit. Keep a current list of your pets and where they most often hide, along with your contact information, on top of the evacuation kit to assist rescuers.

Having a plan to safely evacuate your family, including your pets, will give you peace of mind and help ensure that everyone will be safe no matter what happens.

Local parks offer plenty of activities for dogs

Warmer days are finally here, even though the skies are not totally clear.

The first thing I want to do is get outside with my two labs, Beaumont and Marshall. I have already started my Sunday ritualistic visit to the Link Piazzo Dog Park — a beautiful, fully enclosed park that has a great view of the city. But as the days get longer and warmer, I can’t wait to share so many more outdoor activities with them.

We dog lovers are very fortunate to have such a dog-friendly community in which to live — one that offers a wide variety of dog-friendly activities.

Here are some of my favorites:

Sparks Marina Park: My dogs are typical labs and though middle-aged, have the energy of pups. So, laps around the marina is a great way to wear them down and provide myself with some much-needed exercise.

For canine variety, I stop at the dog park on the south side where Marshall, particularly, likes to go for a swim, and they can both romp around off leash.

For my pleasure, I often stop at the Anchors Bar & Grill for a bite to eat or a refreshing afternoon drink. Their patio allows dogs, and staff eagerly greets the dogs with a fresh bowl of water.

Dock Diving: The Sparks Marina Park offers a unique dog activity during the summer months. The nonprofit organization, High Desert Dive Dogs, hosts dock diving training and practice sessions.

If you have a dog that loves water and fetching, it’s an experience you can’t miss. Marshall picked it up within minutes of his first visit. He might not win any trophies, but we both have a blast.

Rancho San Rafael Regional Park’s dog park: This is the largest city dog park I have ever seen and a place to have your dogs off leash in a country setting, while only minutes from your home. The 20-acre park accommodates a large number of dogs that provide lots of canine playtime and socialization, but also enough space so that you can get away from it all. Beaumont likes to exercise his independent side and roam the country-side free of constraints, but never out of view of my protective eyes.

Riverwalk District: I never get tired of walks along the Truckee River in the Riverwalk District of downtown Reno. Beaumont is usually my date for these strolls, and he is the perfect gentleman as we make periodic stops at the various outdoor restaurants and bars including Wild River Grille, Urban Beets, Ole Bridge Pub and Sierra Tap House.

I especially love to eat outdoors on a warm summer evening, and Reno has many restaurants that not only allow dogs on their patios, but cater to them with personal water bowls and homemade dog biscuits.

Of course, we live near some of the most beautiful countryside in the world and a hike at Lake Tahoe with my trusty companions makes for the perfect day trip. But my all-time favorite thing is to just hang in my backyard in my oversized hammock, a homemade margarita in my hand, and my two beautiful labs by my side (or sometimes in the hammock with me).

In the end, we all just want to be together, enjoying the beautiful Reno outdoors.

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