Hairball Clubs and Pet Adoptions?

by Diane Blankenburg  

In my six years with Nevada Humane Society, we have adopted out over 55,000 homeless pets. Creating and marketing our adoption promotions has been key to this success. Innovative ideas, hard-working staff, pure determination, and a never-dying passion for the cause have made our efforts successful. We’ll keep it up as long as the animals need us.

Over the years, we have borrowed, built on, and married ideas from anywhere and everywhere.

Valentine’s Day provided Speed Dating for pets. On Arbor Day, we gave out a free tree with each adoption. Cinco de Mayo presented a Chihuahua parade. Adopters could help liberate animals on the Fourth of July. And Halloween brought hundreds of children to the shelter for safe trick-or treating.

During the The Great Reno Balloon Race, you could feel uplifted by adopting a pet. During Hot August Nights, the public could adopt a classic pet or cruising buddy. Artown offered the Pawspective Art Show and Creative Kids for Critters at the shelter. February brought a fun Mardi Gras parade, New Orleans-style, right down to a canine king and feline queen.

TV shows inspired some of the most popular promotions. Adopters could spin the Wheel of Furtune for a discounted adoption or prize, stroll down Wisteria Lane with Desperate Housepets, or take home Real Housepets of Washoe County.

Businesses are often eager to partner with us on promotions. For specific periods of time, Mars Petcare donated a month’s supply of food and NV Energy gave out packs of energy-saving light bulbs (Save an Animal and Save Energy) to each adopter.

Sometimes it’s the specific needs of the shelters that dictate promotions. Shelters often have a lot of black cats and Adopt a Mini-Panther and All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go were great ways to help these overlooked animals get noticed. When dozens of orange tabby cats were abandoned in a field, The Great Orange Cat Rescue helped all of them find new homes, as well as lots of other orange cats that were already in the shelter.

And sometimes we offered promotions for the pure fun of it like the Cats Meow & Bow Wow Luau or Woofstock. Our current promotion, The Hairball Club for Men, fits into this category. It’s a club for fellows who use their pet cat as a head cover up—a product that’s self cleaning, comes in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors, and satisfaction is guaranteed. (Check this out at

Creating these promotions has been a lot of fun for us but most rewarding is their success in helping thousands and thousands of homeless pets find wonderful homes in this great community.

Events that Help Animals

Hairball Club Pet Adoption Promotion, April 5 – 30 at Nevada Humane Society. Adopt adult cats for $25 and adult dogs for $50. 2825 Longley Ln, Reno. Call 775-856-2000 for more information.

Walk for Animals, May 18 at Sparks Marina. Register today to help raise funds for homeless pets. Brochures available at area businesses, download one or register online at


Socializing Your New Kitten

By Bonney Brown

This is the time of year many people acquire a new kitten. One of the most valuable things you can do for your new kitten is to provide them with a variety of positive experiences early in life to help ensure that they will become a well-adjusted adult cat. All young animals have a critical socialization period when they can most easily learn new things and adapt to new experiences. For kittens, this is before they reach eight weeks of age.

You can start handling kittens as early as three days after they are born, picking them up briefly and gently stroking them once a day. As they get older, you should get them used to being held longer and touched softly all over their bodies. It’s good for kittens to become accustomed to a variety of people, but you want to avoid overwhelming them. All handling must be gentle and children require close supervision.

Kittens learn from their mother about how to relate to other cats and it’s best that they stay with her a minimum of eight weeks and preferably longer.  Many experts recommend adopting two kittens as they can burn off energy and provide company for each other.

Be sure to provide objects for kittens to explore, such as cardboard boxes, paper shopping bags, a scratching post, and toys with holes that they can investigate with their paws. Interactive toys, such as fishing rod toys, allow you to imitate the movement of mice so kittens can practice pouncing and catching skills. Be sure to let the kitten catch the toy sometimes.

It’s important for young cats to learn that human fingers are not toys as play biting becomes more painful as cats grow. If a kitten scratches or bites in play, use a toy to redirect the play. You can also teach bite inhibition when the kitten bites or scratches by yelping or crying and withdrawing from play for a little while.

This is a good time to get kittens acclimated to short car rides in their carrier. You can also clicker train your kitten (or cat) to sit, fetch and come to you with the help of Karen Pryor’s book, Clicker Training for Cats. Local trainers or vet clinics may offer kitten kindergarten or socialization classes.

Time invested in working with kittens during their critical socialization period benefits them and strengthens their bond with you throughout the rest of their lives.

Events that Help Animals

Hairball Club Pet Adoption Promotion, April 5 – 14 at Nevada Humane Society. Adopt adult cats for $25 and adult dogs for $50. 2825 Longley Ln, Reno. Call 775-856-2000 for more information.

Walk for Animals May 18 at Sparks Marina. Register today to help raise funds for homeless pets. Brochures available at area businesses, download one or register online at

Cats Rule!

by Diane Blankenburg

I am currently catless in my home, although I share an office during the day with five Nevada Humane Society shelter cats. But I have had pet cats (along with dogs) for most of my adult life. There are approximately 86 million owned cats in the United States; 33 percent of U.S. households have at least one cat; 52 percent have more than one cat; and on average, owners have two cats.

This is a lot of cats—making them the number one pet in our country. And it helps to explain why so many cats come into and are adopted out of our shelter every year—25% more than dogs with 5,018 adoptions in 2012. Currently, we have more than twice the number of cats than dogs in our shelter awaiting new homes.

It’s no surprise that cat videos have become crazy popular on You Tube—15% of all views on YouTube are related to cats. Advertising agencies are using cat-themed ads to win new accounts, mostly for products that have nothing to do with felines.

One particular feline has become a video star. Henri, a black-and-white cat adopted from the Seattle Animal Shelter, lives in Seattle and was discovered by Will Braden while a student at the Seattle Film Institute. Henri launched his career as the leading man in one of Braden’s film institute projects. Henri (pronounced on-ray) is an existential cat—bored and complaining in French in his second video release that became an instant hit. The video received over 10 million YouTube hits and won the People’s Choice Golden Kitty award by a landslide at the recent Internet Cat Video Film Festival with 10,000 people in attendance.

From Henri, on winning the contest, “That I have received this golden, smiling idol for a film documenting my metaphysical torment speaks volumes about the spiritual void of humanity. Shiny and meaningless, life marches on.”

Henri’s expose on the pointlessness of life won him a commercial contract with Friskies to explore the phenomenon of cat food boredom—stabilizing Henri’s career and Braden’s livelihood.

Another rags to riches story that proves once again that cats truly do rule!

Events that Help Animals

Hairball Club Pet Adoption Promotion, April 5 – 14 at Nevada Humane Society. Join the club and adopt adult cats for $25 and adult dogs for $50. Shelter located at 2825 Longley Ln, Reno. Call 775-856-2000 for more information.

The Critical Learning Time for Puppies

by Bonney Brown

When it comes to cuteness, nothing tops a puppy. What you may not realize is that inside that adorable furry head their brain is going through the most important development period of their lives. During the first 12 weeks of life, puppies are in their critical socialization period, meaning that they are especially open to learning new things. After that point, they are less able to adapt to new things and more likely to view them with fear.

During these first 12 weeks, you want to expose your puppy to many different experiences—sights, sounds, environments, people and animals—to help them grow into a happy, well-adjusted dog. The goal is to make these new experiences positive, or at least neutral, for your puppy.

Touch is a good place to start—familiarize your puppy with being stroked all over their body, handle  paws and ears, look in their mouth frequently. Many dogs experience hugging as unwanted restraint, but you can help your puppy accept hugs by immediately providing a treat.

Introduce your puppy to a wide variety of different kinds of people, all the while making these experiences positive with treats or play. Meeting men and women of all different ages and varied races, as well as people wearing hats, walking with canes, etc., creates a relaxed, friendly dog. You can carry treats with you and ask strangers to give one to your puppy.

It’s also important for your puppy to learn to develop good canine social skills so that they can get along well with other dogs. Interacting with other puppies and friendly adult dogs is the only way your puppy can develop these skills.  Puppy classes are very beneficial, but your puppy will need additional time working with you outside of class. Of course, you want to be sure that your puppy is properly vaccinated to protect them from canine viruses.

You will also want to train your puppy to become comfortable spending time alone, to control the use of their mouth (bite inhibition), to get along with cats and to allow you to take away food and other objects.

You never want to physically punish your puppy as this teaches them to be afraid of you. The goal is to help your puppy develop into a wonderful companion with a strong and positive bond with you.

Events that Help Animals

Spring Fling Adoption Promotion, March 20 – April 2 at Nevada Humane Society. $20 for adult cat adoptions and $45 for adult dogs. Call 775-856-2000 for more information.

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