Busting the Halloween Myth

by Kimberly Wade

Each year, Halloween puts black cats in the spotlight. There are superstitions that they bring bad luck, and rumors that they possess evil spirits. Some believe that others adopt them to be used in unmentionable cult rituals. As an animal welfare professional, I can assure you that all of that is just talk. It’s no longer the 1600s folks. People are good!

Nevada Humane Society, along with many other successful shelters, see nothing but success with black cat adoptions. We all know that in order to find our four-legged friends loving homes, we need to be professional enough to screen potential adopters and evaluate the home life to ensure the animal is adopted into a great family. I can personally attest to the fact that most people adore animals and deserve a companion. I’ve heard how happy they are, how grateful they are, and how appreciative they are that we helped them find true love. I’ve seen photos and read testimonies of success stories… from all adopters, including those who adopt black pets.

The truth is, there is no hard evidence that adopting black cats around Halloween poses any greater risk than adopting any other time of year. In 2007, National Geographic penned an article that was titled “Ritual Cat Sacrifices a Halloween Myth, Experts Say.” Over the years, experts on Halloween and cults have found “no confirmed statistics, court cases, or studies to support the idea that serious satanic cult crime events exists.” But we all know that myths die hard, especially with impressionable minds and social media.

There is evidence however, that not adopting cats from shelters will cost them their lives—don’t worry, that’s not the case in Washoe County or Carson City. Yet, in cities where there are no lifesaving shelters, when you make the black cats unavailable, you take away their chance to find a home. This can force these cats to end up on a euthanasia list. Hard to hear, I know, but true in many cases (I repeat, not true locally). Wouldn’t you rather give these cats the chance to find love? And why would anyone come to a shelter and pay money to adopt a microchipped pet that we can trace back to them if they really had bad intentions?

Nevada Humane Society is smart. We are professionals. We know what to look for during our conversations with potential adopters. We are never going to just give an animal away or pair a pet with a family that is not going to properly care for them. Our goal is to find loving homes for our animals regardless of whether it is Halloween or any other holiday.

Here’s something else. The truth is that black cats have been viewed as luck bringers and guardians over many centuries and in many cultures. They have been viewed as sacred and are known to bless a home, and to many, black is the color of protection.

The next time that a truism rolls off your tongue in defense, think about whether it is fact or fiction, and think about who you may hurt by simply following the crowd instead of educating them.

*Animal welfare experts include Maddie’s Fund, ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society and UC Davis, all of whom have conducted various studies over the years on adopting black cats at Halloween.

Upcoming Events: Bring the kids in costume for Safe Trick-or-Treating at Nevada Humane Society on Halloween Night! Happening at both our Reno and Carson City shelters, this costumed, candy giving event takes place from 4pm to 6:30pm. P.S. If you can donate a bag or two of individually wrapped candy to help us feed the kids, we would appreciate it! Drop off to NHS at 2825 Longley Lane in Reno between 11am and 6:30pm this weekend.

Featured Pet: Billy and Buddy are 7 and 9, and are BFFs. Both are sweet but shy, with a dream of nothing more than curling up on your couch and enjoying a good movie (with dog treats). Buddy was born with a unique paw, and though he isn’t able to fully use it, it doesn’t slow him down. He’s just different, and we know he deserves love too. Won’t you meet this dynamic duo today? They’re available for adoption at Nevada Humane Society in Reno.Adoptable Pets at Nevada Humane Society

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It Takes a Village

by Kimberly Wade

It takes a village. That statement couldn’t be more true these days, for people and pets alike, and it comes at a time when at least for me, I feel like I need reminders that good does exist. I struggle on so many fronts, wondering when society’s morals and ethics will kick back in. We see people giving up pets for reasons that could be helped, people breeding pets when still so many are in shelters, not just locally, but everywhere. We see people hurting people, Mother Nature at her not so finest, and so much more. I wonder if I’m not doing a good job, or if people just want more, or if animals are just brought into situations (no fault of their own) that set them up for failure. End rant.

Things just may be changing.

Last weekend, we brought the community together for the love of pets. It was Nevada’s Super Pet Adoption Day all #ThanksToMaddie where Nevada Humane Society, SPCA of Northern Nevada, Pet Network Humane Society, Canine Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary, Washoe County Regional Animal Services, dozens of vendors, food trucks and more came together for a common cause—a GREAT cause. We came together to save lives. Nevada Humane Society found PAWsome homes for 13 cats and 36 dogs at the Super Pet Adoption, and when we add in the adoptions at the shelter, we’re proud to say a total of 45 cats, 53 dogs and 3 rabbits went home—that’s 101 homeless pets no more! When you look at combined adoptions for the event, all of us together saved 69 cats and 91 dogs! That, my friends, is good. 1 homeless pets no more!)

Then on Tuesday, a new supporter of ours was in his hometown of Santa Rosa, helping fire victims. He reached out to me to say that an abundance of pet food had been donated to help pets in northern California. Shelters there were inundated with donations (a good thing) and people had also been receiving food donations for their pets (another good thing) so he thought of us. Not only had we recently taken in several dogs from the fire (to make room in shelters for lost and found pets; it’s important to know these dogs that came to us were already available for adoption), but we always need pet food at Nevada Humane Society. We have a Pet Food Assistance program to help people when they are temporarily down on their luck, plus the hundreds of animals in our care every day. He was given the approval to donate the food to us, so we put a plea on Facebook and within 30 minutes had two people who volunteered their time to go pick it up—within 48 hours. The post went viral—and the calls to help came in. People were helping people and pets, in multiple communities, and coming together.

Finally, as we reach out and ask that people foster, to help free up space in the shelter, we also ask people to adopt. We have big and small dogs, active dogs and couch potatoes. We have fluffy cats and tiny cats, senior cats (who may be adopted for free and come with Social Se-CAT-ary to cover any unforeseen health care—think Social Security for cats), and some special pets who need homes with no other pets (hey, they’re allowed to be selfish and want all the attention of their humans). If you’ve ever considered fostering (temporary) or adopting (forever) or maybe you just want to help us make this all possible (donate dollars), we need it. Because we all work together to make lifesaving happen, to bring people and pets together.

It takes a village, this is clear. Look at us. We are all coming together, as a community and more, helping each other. We are not one person making a difference, we are many. We are bonded by our love of pets and we want to set everyone up for success. Giving Tuesday is next month (November 28) and we hope you will consider giving to us. We’re leading and striving for good things. Let’s gather our village and make it happen.

Upcoming Events: The Wags & Whiskers Gala, A Night in Havana, is November 11 at the Peppermill, with Cuban-themed entertainment to include salsa dancers, Congo drums, aerialists, a Ricky Ricardo impersonator and more! Tickets include dinner, unlimited beer, wine, mutt-jitos and meow-jitos. All proceeds benefit our animals. Details: http://www.NevadaHumaneSociety.org.

Featured Pet: I’m Alex, aged three fine years, full-bodied and fabulous! I’m a social fella, chatty and fun-loving. I just love people! I reach out and ask for attention often, and because of this, I prefer a home with no other pets. But who are we kidding, you won’t need them because you’ve got me! Meet me today! NHS is open daily from 11am to 6:30pm.

Adoptable Pets at Nevada Humane Society

Adoptable Pets at Nevada Humane Society

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Social Petworking

Saia, Newton, Maisey

by Kimberly Wade

There’s no question about it. We love our pets. In fact, we love them so much that many of us have jumped on the bandwagon to create social media pages just for them—something that is being called Social Petworking. And yes, I’m totally guilty as charged.

You’ve heard me mention before that our two-year-old cat Maisey has her own Instagram. She’s just surpassed 500 followers (true story—this was a goal of mine) and often she features her kitty siblings, Newton (a three-year-old tabby) and Saia (a one-year-old siamese). In talking to my husband the other day I was telling him how some cats just flourish on Instagram—there are literally famous cats who have millions of followers and are featured in movies (Nine Lives) and more. Dogs too, though cats seem to be more popular. So why isn’t my Maisey reaching people like that?

His answer was because I need better photos and less of the other pets. The focus needs to be her. So you know I’ve added creating accounts for the other animals to my to do list, but in the meantime, I’m working to up Maisey’s status.

Truth? While I partially started her account a year ago for fun and to follow the trend of Social Petworking, I really did it to raise awareness for homeless pets, promote fostering and pet adoption. Many others do this too. Even some of the famous cats, Nala Cat and Venus Two Face Cat, for example, were adopted. It helps to show the world that yes, there are purebred cats that come to shelters, and yes, we have every age, look, personality and then some. It also lets people know that there are millions of cats (and dogs) that enter animal shelters every year, there are still places that euthanize due to time or space, and that while there are reputable breeders, there are so many incredible animals in shelters… and you really can find your dream pet there! I’ve seen so many people that I know or meet who are now looking into helping shelters just because a cat or dog they follow on Instagram is a shelter alumni. That tells me that crazy cat lady or not, trendy or not, we are making a difference with Social Petworking.

There’s more too. Social Petworking helps small businesses grow. I can’t tell you how many cool cat things I’ve found thanks to Instagram, and then after my purchase arrives, I take photos and post them. The business then shares my photos, follows Maisey, and together we reach even more people, helping homeless pets find love and businesses grow. Big businesses too, like Chewy.com, encourage this as well, and have gone viral with photos of pets in their boxes. Local crafters, like ForMew (and if I may say a big supporter of Nevada Humane Society), have reached international status thanks to Social Petworking! And I could go on and one.

Finally, Social Petworking is bringing more people and pets together, allowing animal lovers to share in the joy as well as the loss. I’ve (through Maisey) befriended several animal lovers and found out they unexpectedly lost a pet and it is amazing to see the number of people come out and share in the grief, and offer consolation to the human. It may not lessen the pain, but it does help bring peace, especially when so many uplifting photos of the pet are shared and loved.

One more thing. Studies are showing that 1 in 5 pets has a social media account. 1 in 5. That’s PAWsome. Jump on the bandwagon today, or at least go follow my Maisey.

Update: Guess what? Maggie, the kitty whose story we shared last week? She went home!

Upcoming Events: October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month! If you’re in the market to adopt a new BFF, check out our many adorable dogs at both shelter locations, one in Reno and one in Carson! Plus, don’t forget about Nevada’s Super Pet Adoption Day next week, Saturday, October 14 at Rancho San Rafael Park with multiple shelters and rescues, free microchipping, food trucks, vendors and more! The event runs 10am to 4pm.

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Kids, Two and Four-Legged Alike

by Kimberly Wade

Kids and pets are a natural combination. Who doesn’t love the adorable photo of the tiny child napping on a fluffy cat, or curled up next to a dog? What child doesn’t want to grow up with a four-legged BFF? We decorate nurseries with stuffed animals and animal print murals. We surround kids with animals—so why wouldn’t we want them to coexist?

The reason we struggle is because we don’t properly introduce the two and we don’t actively supervise them. I know parents who feel judged by bringing a pet home to a newborn baby or feel they need to give up their pet because a baby is on the way. You can have both, and given so many people around me are having kids and already have a home full of cats and dogs, I thought we could offer some basic help:

  • Prepare. If you already have children, start teaching them how to interact with the pet—use a stuffed animal as an example. Kids can be playful, so let them know that tugging on the tail or ears is not ok, and teach them to never put their face directly in the pet’s face. On the other hand, if you have pets and a newborn on the way, let the pets be a part of setting up the nursery so they can see and smell everything. Bring home the first onesie your child wears so that the pets can smell it in advance of baby coming home. When baby does arrive, be sure to teach your pet that it’s not ok to climb on the kids, and have a secure place for them so that the pets can’t get to them.
  • Create kid-free and pet-free zones. Even the most energetic pet needs time to chill out and kids will need their own space too. Show kids basic dog or cat language—if you see the tail swishing low and tucked, or ears pinned back, it’s a sign that the pet needs to be left alone. If a pet growls, it’s not a bad thing—it’s a warning sign and means you should separate the two.
  • Include kids in the animal care. Have them assist with walking, feeding and training. It not only helps to build a bond between the pet and child, but teaches the child responsibility.
  • Use positive reinforcement. Give plenty of praise for the child when they demonstrate proper behavior, and let the kids reward the pet with treats when they exhibit good behavior. Teach by example—we know kids learn by watching us so expressing gentle affection for the pet will certainly rub off on your children.
  • Finally, actively supervise by being a part of their interactions. Kids, especially newborns, should never be left alone with any pet. Animals may react to a high pitched scream or kids may unintentionally provoke a pet. Supervision is key to ensuring a good relationship with them both.

Even if you don’t have a pet, basic skills for kids and pets interacting are important. For example, teach kids not to run up to a dog or a cat they don’t know. That pet may have never been around kids and even if nothing is done wrong, that pet may not know how to react. Have kids ask before petting or reaching out to pets—let the pet initiate contact.

Animals can have an amazing effect on children, offering comfort, companionship, learning opportunities and so much more. They are meant to be together, and we, as adults and parents, have the vital job of teaching all of our kids, two and four-legged alike, how to behave around one another. My husband and I don’t have kids, yet we have lots of kids in the family. Our pets are not often around them, so they are terrified of someone their same height. They are all well-behaved, but we’ve learned to move slowly or if needed, put the dogs in their crates and cats in a bedroom. It’s our job to set everyone up for success.

There are so many resources out there for kids and pets so please, don’t be deterred about adopting if you have a child, or feel you need to give up your pet because a child is on the way. You can have both.

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The Only Cat Challenge

by Kimberly Wade

Update 10/3/17 Maggie went home too, late last week! So far, everyone is doing well in their respective homes!

Update 9/19/17:  The below blog was published Saturday in RGJ. That same day, PV went home to an amazing family who had just lost their cat with a nearly identical purrsonality… our hearts are full.

That being said, I’m leaving her story in here because there are other kitties like her! Aspen, also featured, is still here, and Maggie, arrived a few days ago.  Her story is tough to hear. Her human passed away from cancer a few months ago. It was a tough time, but she hung in there. She stayed with a human friend for a short time (and her kitties) but soon learned that she would do best in a calm home with no other cats (they made her very grumpy). Maggie needs a home where she the one and only, and get lots of TLC from the humans! By the way, her fur is really soft and she loves to cuddle. Maggie may not love other pets, but she LOVES humans! Her pic is below.

Blog from Saturday, 9/16/17:

I need help. One of our biggest challenges at Nevada Humane Society is when a pet arrives that needs to find a home… as the only pet. Regardless of the species, finding a home where there are no other pets is always hard. Let’s face it. We’re a pet loving community, therefore, it’s really hard for us to have only one pet, right? We love seeing our four-legged BFFs cuddle and bond together. So how can we provide for those pets that need to be the only one?

My struggle comes after a couple of cats arrived at Nevada Humane Society who ultimately do their best when humans are their only companions. They came from different walks of life and honestly have fabulous personalities. They’re cute, cuddly and entertaining. They are well mannered and overall, a great companion. They just don’t like other cats (and more than likely they don’t care for dogs either).

PV, a stunning gray and white tabby, was given up when she was only a year and a half old. That was in March. She’s a bit of a lively gal, with what we call cattitude—a cat attitude! She really needs a cat-savvy family who can read her signals when she’s had enough and needs her alone time. For the most part, she’s pawsome. She’ll climb into your lap and purr and head bonk you. Suddenly, she’s done. Her ears go back and she may even growl. Some of our staff and volunteers back off and wait until she’s ready to be a lover again. Others scratch her ears and her butt until she comes out of it—and she does! Within minutes, she’s back to happy.

Aspen is a senior. She’s a fluffy calico with a crooked little tail that wags like a dog. I’ve mentioned her before because she actually lived in our admin offices. She also arrived in March, as a stray. Clearly she had belonged to someone at one point and just gotten lost—because she was very social to humans. She too is a love, constantly head butting people for treats (the girl can eat) and asking to have her coat brushed. We noticed after some time with our other office kitties, she tried to the princess—and yet she wasn’t. She didn’t like that, so she began acting very grouchy towards the other cats. We found the solution to her stress was to place her where she had no four-legged competition.

Both PV and Aspen are wonderful cats. They love people. They need people. They thrive on attention, and you can imagine since they are in their own space here at the shelter we really want to find them a home. They’ve been here longer than others and we don’t want them to get depressed. I don’t mean for this to be sad—but I really need you to all help me find those families that have been considering a pet, have no other pets and would be willing to meet PV or Aspen. We know it may take time for them to adjust in your home, but we also have no doubts that they will. And, once in a home they may not even show signs of cattitude! A shelter is a tough environment for anyone, but for the ones that stay here longer than others because of a simple need like this, it breaks our hearts. They deserve you, they deserve a second chance. Who will help me find the purrfect homes for them?

P.S. Feel free to email me at kwade@nevadahumanesociety.org if you want to hear more about these gals. I love them, but you already know I have a very full house, and we don’t want to see me get divorced (kidding… maybe).

Maggie hiding under bed

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Mother Nature, a CATastrophe

by Kimberly Wade

Let’s be honest. Everyone was talking about Hurricane Harvey, and now they’re talking about Hurricane Irma. A Florida gal myself, I’ve been lucky to only experience one major storm, but I feel for my family and friends back east right now—and the animals are also weighing heavily on my mind.

One of my girlfriends in Texas, Sarah, shared videos of herself literally wading through waist deep water in the streets. Shocking as that was, it was watching the dogs (and cats, believe it or not) swim alongside her. It really made me think. Are these stray pets who have no one and are now looking for that new shelter, with food and warmth? Were they wondering what the heck was happening and where they would go next? Or were they someone’s pet, lost, alone, and pushing forward until they found help? The stories on the news and social media say so much about the animals, and I am so impressed and proud of so many people stepping up to help—because for me (and most of you), our animals are family too.

Sarah found a sweet little pit bull after Harvey hit. Whether he was left behind or his people couldn’t get back to him we’ll never know. But she chose not to judge and instead, save. She took him home and spent the next week caring for him while she looked for his family. He wasn’t microchipped, and his collar had no tags. He was social, affectionate and in good shape—it was obvious he belonged to someone.

Her landlord saw him and told her he needed to go—she can’t have a dog where she is currently living. She wanted what was best for him—a home—so she took to social media.

It only took a couple of days. The owner saw her Facebook post and contacted her. The dog, known as AJ, had family in a nearby city so she hit the road to deliver him home. She told me that as she drove up, three men came running out to her car, shouting, “That’s him! That’s him!” AJ was also beside himself, and as soon as she stopped the car, he jumped out and ran to his people. One of the men picked him up and carried him like a baby—AJ was home. Sarah told me it was bittersweet (she would have moved in order to keep him had she not found his family) but she was so happy knowing he was back with his family.

As pets are still being reunited from Harvey, I have no doubt Irma will have the same results—even in the wake of disaster and uncertainty. But just as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, being prepared for any kind of disaster is key—especially remember to microchip your pets and register the chip! Washoe County Animal Services offers free chips (there’s no excuse not to do it), then you just need to register your pet with the chip company or on the Found Animals website. Make sure your contact info is up to date too!

Finally, let’s keep those around us, those braving hurricanes, wildfires and other unfortunate circumstances, in our thoughts. We’re supposed to all be on the same side, to not judge, and to just love… so let’s do that, in the wake of all of this. Oh, and get your pets microchipped. AJ could have been home much sooner if he was chipped—he was one of the lucky ones.

Events: Don’t miss The Wags & Whiskers Gala, A Night in Havana, on November 11 at the Peppermill! We’re transporting guests all the way to Cuba for A Night in Havana, complete with Cuban-themed entertainment, unlimited Mutt-jitos and Meow-jitos and hand-rolled Cuban cigars. From salsa dancers to bongo drums to aerialists, sights and sounds of Cuba will be in the air! Tickets: 775-856-2000 ext. 320 or www.NevadaHumaneSociety.org.

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A Night in Havana

by Kimberly Wade

Looking for a unique twist on an event? Want to get away, even if just for a night? Then it’s time to get your tickets to Nevada Humane Society’s Wags & Whiskers Gala, A Night in Havana, presented by Renown and Hometown Health! The event is Saturday, November 11 at Peppermill Resort Spa Casino and tickets are now on sale.

You may recall this was previously named Blue Jeans Ball, then Denim and Diamonds. We’ve really taken it for a spin this year, with a new name and the idea that each time we hold it we’ll have a different theme—this year it’s Cuban! We are really excited with the changes we’ve made and think that in the future we can continue to be creative and unique while we raise money and awareness for homeless pets at Nevada Humane Society.

The Wags & Whiskers Gala, A Night in Havana, will include dinner, an online bidding auction and a fabulous live auction, but there’s also so much more! We’re transporting guests all the way to Cuba for A Night in Havana, complete with Cuban-themed entertainment throughout the evening. Salsa dancers will make you move to the music, bongo drums will have you stomping your feet, and aerialists will offer sky-high entertainment. Savor unlimited Mutt-jitos and Meow-Jitos or pick up a hand rolled Cuban cigar—literally, rolled right there in front of you for your entertainment! You’ll also meet some of the special furry friends that will have their best paw forward to thank you personally for helping them get the second chance they deserve.

The Wags & Whiskers Gala is an annual benefit to raise money and awareness for homeless pets in northern Nevada. With over 17,000 animals coming through Nevada Humane Society’s two locations (one in Reno; one in Carson City) each year, The Wags & Whiskers Gala will not only help to cover their cost of care, but focus on those who arrive that are sick and injured—therefore making an even bigger impact on lifesaving.

Tables of ten may be purchased for $2,000 while individual tickets are $200. All tickets include dinner, unlimited wine, beer and signature cocktails and all of the festivities mentioned above. You’re going to not only have a fabulous time but you can be proud knowing that you’re making an incredible difference for homeless pets—not to mention you’ll learn why we are different, and how we save the lives of those that may not always be saved at other organizations. We help the sick and injured, young and old, cute and ugly and our stories—and in person guests—will tell you why.

We’re ready to treat you to a Cuban adventure while sharing our love for animals, so get your tables and individual tickets online at NevadaHumaneSociety.org or call 775-856-2000 ext. 320. See you there!

 Adoptable Pets at Nevada Humane Society

Featured Pet: Hi, we’re Kameron and Kristopher! We’re young brothers with dynamic markings, velvety coats and sweet purrsonalities. Change isn’t always easy for us but as long as we’re together we adjust well and make the best of each situation. As part of the Double the Love adoption promotion, we’re available for just $25—two for one! Won’t you meet us today?

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