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Norwich Bulletin - 7/17/2005

New Respect For An Old Organization

I have always been one of the rescues that did not have a lot of nice things to say about the Connecticut Humane Society. Actually, I really didn't have anything nice to say about them.

I always felt they were too slow to provide medical care, too fast to euthanize and that they had too many animals and not enough people to give them attention. And so I was a bit taken aback when I received a call from the Newington branch to be a guest behaviorist at their late adoption nights during their June "Adopt a Cat" month.

I actually started out by telling Director of Volunteer Services, Alicia Wright, that she really did not want me to be a guest at the facility because I was not known to be politically correct when the subjects turn to declawing or giving up pets because of allergies or new babies or boyfriends.

I suggested she read some of my columns, because if people asked, I would tell them truthfully what my opinions were. While I love to help people change their cat's behavior so that they can keep their pet, I have no patience for people who simply want to have someone take away their problem, nor do I have patience when people declaw their cats and still refuse to see the correlation between the behavior and the declawing.

I definitely felt there were people much more politically correct (although probably not more knowledgeable) than me that would be willing to be their guest. And, I really didn't want to go.

Imagine my surprise when Alicia called me back and told me that she had read my columns and felt that I had the same beliefs that the new face of the Humane Society had! When she ever told me that they did not adopt their clawed cats to people who declaw, nor did their vet facilities perform declaws, my opinion of them went up 100%.

As we continued to talk, I got an inkling that there had been some major changes through the years and I owed it to them to visit and see for myself what was going on at Newington's Connecticut Humane Society.

As I drove up the drive, I couldn't help but admire the new facility. It is beautiful, but I still wanted to know how it was inside. When I walked into the building, I was greeted by several volunteers, as well as the manager of the kennel, who was appropriately named Kitty! My tour started with the cat rooms and I was amazed at what I saw.

There were about five people in the main cat room, playing with the cats, brushing, petting, or just socializing with them. Each cat compartment was clean, and they had places to sleep, clean litter, food and water and toys. Every card was up to date and you knew as much about the cat as the workers did. If a cat had a behavior problem, it was marked that they were "Freshies" and personalities were described to help people know if they were going to get a laid back, over active, aloof, or lap cat.

There were older cats offered for adoption with no fee. There were cats being treated for URI or eye infections and everyone was altered and had their shots. My husband and I found a number of delightful, beautiful cats that could and should fit into any type of home.

We also checked out the dog areas. There are so many nice dogs waiting for adoption! I saw puppies and young dogs and older dogs - Lab and Golden crosses, some small dogs, both mixed breed and purebreds - clean kennels and ample space. I saw volunteers walking several of the dogs. I felt everyone cared.

I also found out that the Humane Society will ask rescues to take older cats or hard to place cats so they do not have to euthanize. That night we took home twelve year old Rusty, a long haired golden cat with no teeth that had lost his owner through a tragedy. The next week we took home Buddy, a very scared Abyssinian cross who was not doing well in a shelter type environment.

Many of the employees and volunteers will foster a sick animal in their own home so that it can recover and be adopted. When euthanasia takes place it is usually because it needs to. An aggressive dog or very sick animal cannot and should not be placed. In fact, the Connecticut Humane Society has the hard jobs because I, as a small, private rescue organization, can turn down animals.

The Humane Society takes on the tough calls; the ones we usually shy away from. I have new respect for the people who work at and run Newington. I have given them my name as a resource for cat behavior for people who want to keep their pets but need advice as to how to change certain behaviors. I am going to keep one spot open at Helping Paws to take on one of their older or hard to place cats and continue to work with the people who have gained my respect and liking.

And if my readers are looking for a dog to adopt, or a certain type of cat or kitten that Helping Paws may not have (you still have to come to me first!), please call them at 860-589-5602 and be sure to tell them that I sent you!

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