Volunteering Reaps Many Benefits

by Bonney Brown

I never cease to be impressed by the generosity of people who give their time to help animals at Nevada Humane Society – be it walking dogs, playing with the cats, helping in the office, working on events, or providing foster care to kittens. We also see many professionals—from veterinarians to photographers—donating their skills.

However, a recent report from The Federal Agency for Service and Volunteerism found that while Nevadan’s volunteerism is on the rise, we still come in third to last among the 50 states. States with higher volunteer rates tend to have lower mortality rates and reduced incidence of heart disease.

According to a United Healthcare poll, 92 percent of volunteers said that giving their time and energy enriched their sense of purpose, 89 percent said it enhanced well-being, and 73 percent said it reduced stress.  Among retirees, those who volunteer regularly report the greatest sense of life satisfaction and volunteering reduces the incidence of depression for people in all age groups. Additionally, volunteering can become an important social outlet and help with developing a new network of friends.

Volunteers have reported that giving their time to a cause is one of the most meaningful and rewarding experiences of their life.  However, it seems that to reap the benefits, one needs to meet a “volunteering threshold” of 100 hours of service per year or about two hours per week.

Interested in volunteering your time but need a little extra help getting started? Here are some tips from experts:

•Find a cause that truly matters to you.

•Find a friend, relative or co-worker to join you.

•Donate your skills by doing something you already enjoy, be it knitting, graphic design or carpentry.

Often animal lovers who would like to volunteer are apprehensive about the emotion of seeing homeless pets, but most organizations need help with tasks that do not involve interacting with animals, including fundraising events, outreach and office work.

For more information on volunteering with a local animal shelter, reach out to one or more of these groups:

You can make a difference for the animals and experience the joys and benefits of volunteering!


Give Black Pets a Chance

by Diane Blankenburg

Throughout my life, I have had many black dogs and cats in my animal family. I always thought they possessed an extra beauty with an exotic touch. Two of the three dogs that currently share my life are, in fact, black.

It wasn’t until I entered the animal welfare world that I realized how much at risk these beauties are. Studies have shown that shelter adoption rates for black dogs and cats (especially cats) are a lot lower than for other animals. With so many healthy animals still being euthanized across the country, sadly, black cats and dogs are more likely to be at the top of the euthanasia list.

At Nevada Humane Society, over one third of the dogs and cats in the shelter at this time are black or partially black. This is very typical in shelters across the country and there are no scientific reasons why other than the belief by some that the black gene is dominant. But there are many theories and myths on why they are no adopted as often as others.

  • Black pets blend into the background. Colorful animals may stand out more and catch one’s attention easier. Light-colored animals’ facial characteristics are easier to see, which may lead adopters to think they have more personality.
  • It is hard to catch black animals on film. Since adoptable pets are often promoted with photographs, black cats and dogs are at a disadvantage.
  • Black cats have been associated with witchcraft and bad luck. These are superstitions that were born hundreds of years ago.
  • Black dogs have also been given a bad rap. According to ancient folklore, black dogs were believed to be ghosts of wicked souls.
  • A majority of black dogs at shelters are of larger breeds. Smaller dogs tend to be more popular and easier to care for in certain living situations. Some think that large black dogs are scary and this is how they are often portrayed in movies.
  • Black pets are thought to shed more hair. This is untrue, but may be believed since black hair is more visible on light surfaces.
  • Black animals might appear older. Even when they’re young, they have bits of facial hair that may be white or gray.

The truth is that black cats and dogs have the same characteristics as pets of other colors—calm or energetic, cuddly or independent, goofy or sophisticated, old or young. Regardless of color, all pets have unique personalities and all have the same amount of unconditional love to give. Many owners have found that once you adopt a black pet you can never go back. Take a look at Johnny (featured here) or the many other wonderful black pets in our area shelters. You too may get hooked!

Controlling Your Cat’s Need to Scratch

by Bonney Brown

Even people who love their cat deeply may get frustrated with their cat’s choice of places to scratch. Scratching is a natural behavior for cats. It’s essential for their physical and psychological wellbeing as it is one way they claim their territory. It also provides important exercise for your cat and just plain feels good.

While you cannot, and really should not, stop your cat from scratching, you can train them to use acceptable surfaces. Here are some important tips to control where your cat scratches:

  • Provide a suitable cat scratching object. Options range from inexpensive cardboard pads to elaborate scratching posts. Most cats prefer cardboard, sisal or natural wood to carpeting, but cats have individual preferences. You can buy a scratching post or make one yourself. Many cats are happy with a simple, natural log.
  • Make the scratching post attractive to your kitty by putting it in a prominent place, not hidden away. Rub it with catnip. Be sure that it’s stable and will not tip over. Many cats prefer a taller post so that they can get a good stretch.
  • Make the place the cat has been scratching unattractive by using physical (sticky strips, aluminum foil, or a throw blanket) or non-toxic scent deterrents.
  • Trim your cat’s claws regularly. This is easy to do with cat nail trimmers or with human nail clippers.  For instructions go to: http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/cliented/cat_claws.aspx.  You can also consider Soft Paws, which are soft plastic caps for the claws.

Sometimes people think that declawing their cat may be a good solution; however, it is an irreversible major surgical procedure which involves amputating the last joint of the cat’s toes. The result for the cat is like amputating the last joint of our own fingers. It is traumatic for the cat and creates not only physical pain, but oftentimes emotional suffering that can result in behavioral problems, including aggression, becoming withdrawn, or inappropriate elimination.  Cats have a natural tendency to hide pain which may lead some people to believe that it is okay to declaw; but animal shelter staff will attest that it is very common to see declawed cats surrendered due to serious behavioral issues.

If you need help controlling your cat’s scratching, please reach out to Nevada Humane Society’s free Animal Help Desk at 775-856-2000 ext. 200 or animalhelp@nevadahumanesociety.org. Their skilled staff will help you devise a plan to resolve your situation while preserving your cat’s claws and well-being.


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