April 24, 2014

The Ins and Outs of Jazzi

.An afternoon email from the Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection:

Hello everyone-

Jazzi was Owner Released today because she has bladder stones.  Her owners could not afford another surgery.  She is 8 years old, very sweet, and just loves everyone.  Below is her medical history.  She is in desperate need of a rescue ASAP!  If you can help her please let me know by 5 PM tomorrow. 

Thank you- 

We went and picked Miss Jazzi up the next morning. Despite her painful medical condition, she was all peaches and cream, an amazingly sweet little gal. Medications continued, and today she headed into surgery to remove the awful stones collecting in her bladder.

Groups of assistants surrounded Dr. Foster and the surgery table throughout the afternoon. Finally, several long hours later, the stones that were causing so much trouble on the inside, were all gathered amidst disbelief on the outside. 

Jazzi is recovering nicely this evening, hooked up with IV's and pain medications. We had to send  parts of her off to the pathology lab, and will know the results in a few days. No matter what they reveal, her story is far from over, and we are working hard to give her the best surprise ever very soon.  Hang in there little Jazz, things are looking up.

One love, one heart, one destiny.
  -Bob Marley


Out of options, Prissy's owners brought her to Angels of Assisi for emergency today. She's recovering nicely, and we're very happy that- instead of ending up at the pound or as a statistic- she'll be going home this afternoon.

Second chances, sometimes there ain't nothing better.

Home is the nicest word there is.  
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

April 23, 2014


My cat is constipated. Or so I thought, but upon exam at Angels of Assisi, she had some major issues, and our wonderful Dr. Foster pulled some things out of her that should not be discussed in polite company. It was scary and awful, but thankfully she was in expert hands. Lucky woke up from her sedation in a cushy bed, wrapped up in a warm blanket. I was reassured knowing she had the very best medical care possible, combined with a good helping of TLC.

Watching our medical staff give the same care to the other critters in our surgery area brings about mixed emotions. While filled with gratitude that there are beloved animals who will go home from the clinic with someone to ease their fears and discomfort, there are still many who won't get the chance to receive medical care, and many who live as strays or behind bars in pounds across the country. There are too too too many wide eyed, innocent beings who will suffer, be afraid, and not know the love of a family.

At Angels of Assisi, we are working hard to give every animal the opportunity my cat had today: the chance to feel better and to feel safe. Because of this goal, we've added some amazing medical staff members, and very soon will have the ability to run laboratory results in-house, with results available in a matter of minutes. These on-going improvements are geared to an emerging shelter prevention program, one meant to help people keep their pets with the availability of affordable medical care.

When my cat was sick, I was one one of the lucky ones who have access to veterinary care. There are many who don't, including neighbors consumed with making mortgage payments and friends who face the choice of paying for their son's college ACT test, or getting the dog neutered. We understand these struggles, and understand that it does not make you love your pets any less. Caring for your pet should not be a matter of luck, but a viable option, and we're extraordinarily grateful for the support that is making that option a reality in our community.

I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it. 
- Thomas Jefferson

A very special thank you to Dr. Spangler for giving Lucky 2 extras lives,
and now to Dr. Foster for adding a third.

April 15, 2014

Big Picture: Zeuterin

The future of non-surgical neutering for dogs 

A new injection could change the way we sterilize dogs

A new procedure for sterilizing male dogs without surgery could be a "game changer" in efforts to curb the number of homeless animals born each year. The FDA-approved veterinary product Zeuterin became available in mid-February for use in dogs three to 10 months old, and the nonprofit Sula Foundation hosted a training event to teach local veterinarians how to use it; the service isn't available to the public locally yet.

The process is simple. The dog receives a physical exam, a mild sedative and an injection of Zeuterin (zinc gluconate neutralized by arginine) in each testicle. It receives a small tattoo on its groin to show it has been sterilized, although it remains intact. The dog can resume activities in a short time.
"Within 15 or 20 minutes of giving sedation, the dogs are usually alert again," says Jeff Schumacher, a veterinarian at the East Bank Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter, who led the training session. "The dogs don't need to go under general anesthesia. You give them just enough (sedation) to calm them during the injection process. It's simple, it's safe and it's effective." The Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter uses Zeuterin to neuter dogs available for adoption but currently doesn't offer the service to the public.

A two-year study upon which the FDA based its approval showed Zeuterin was effective in 99.6 percent of the 224 dogs treated. The study, conducted at six sites across the country, concluded the drug had no adverse affects on body weight, temperature, blood and serum chemistries or overall health. Unlike surgical neutering, a dog treated with Zeuterin continues to produce testosterone, which some veterinarians say helps protect against cancers (opponents say just the opposite). There have been no studies of long-term health effects.

"Non-surgical sterilants can be a game changer for animal welfare around the world," Joyce Briggs, president of the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs, said in a prepared statement following the release of Zeuterin Feb. 17. "Zeuterin is an important new tool as we work to reduce numbers of unwanted dogs."
Because there is no incision to heal, it is more attractive to pet owners who feel uncomfortable surgically removing a dog's testicles.

"I have been trying to find a way to convince men that neutering their dog isn't a bad thing to do," says Ken Foster, founder of the Sula Foundation, which promotes responsible ownership of pit bulls. "There are some people who, for various reasons, don't want their dog operated on, and I think this injectable option is a great thing to offer those people. ... It's also a great option for doing high-volume clinics in areas where there is no physical [veterinary] clinic."

Since it requires no anesthesia or surgery, no special equipment (all that's required is a measuring gauge, stethoscope, hypodermic needle and tattoo machine), no recovery room and has minimal complications, the process is cheaper for pet owners and more cost-effective for organizations trying to control homeless animal populations. Although there are programs to trap, neuter and release feral cats, no such program exists here for dogs. Injectable sterilants have been used in the Philippines and Japan following disasters, however, to keep the wild dog population in check, Schumacher says.

The new process holds so much promise on the feral cat and dog front that The Found Animals Foundation is offering a $25 million award to the inventor of a single-dose sterilant that works in both dogs and cats. No one had claimed that award at press time.


Last Saturday, Angels of Assisi welcomed several area Veterinarians who joined our staff to complete their Zeuterin training. The scheduled male dogs came for a variety of reasons: physically unable to undergo anesthesia, owners "not into" the traditional method, and accessibility of the procedure. The result? Seventeen sterilized dogs, and a non-surgical option now available in our community.

We are pleased to join the ranks of clinics from California to New York in offering Zeuterin at Angels of Assisi. Since it can be administered outside of a regular clinic setting, we plan on incorporating it into our Pets for Life program. In other areas of the country, including Atlanta, dogs are "Zeutered" at rabies clinics, and we will have the opportunity to reach a new demographic who may not have ever considered sterilizing their male dogs before.

It's beginning to feel a lot like progress up here in the Star City, and we're liking these new avenues to ensure a better future for the pets in our community.

To reach a port we must set sail –
Sail, not tie at anchor.
Sail, not drift. 
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

April 13, 2014

Peace @ Harmony

We had the honor of entertaining some very special guests at Harmony Farm Sanctuary today. It was a perfect, sunny, warm, peaceful Sunday, and wonderful to share the love of the animals often left out of the spotlight. 

Charlie the donkey never left our side, the pigs rolled over for belly rubs as pigs are prone to do, and it was good to get back to the basics. These sentient beings are the reason for the lobbying, the education, the easing of compassionate choices from being viewed as extreme to just everyday normal, and they are worth every single second of all the hard work.

There is no room for a big ego in animal welfare. It is simply counterproductive.
- Norm Mason

April 7, 2014

Scout's Pick

The wonderful little ladies of Daisy Girl Scout Troup # 19 came for a visit yesterday, and brought beautiful purple blankets for the adoption center kitties that they made themselves. It was fun to watch the girls transform from looking wide eyed and overwhelmed during their tour of the clinic, to joyful and bounding through the adoption center, distributing treats and toys. A room full of cats seeking attention will do that for a kid, every single time. One of their favorites, and receiver of a new purple blanket, was Thomas, and we couldn't agree more. He's a friendly guy, kid tested, and kid heartily approved. He's also ready for adoption, lovingly handmade blanket included.

…he will be our friend for always and always and always.
– Rudyard Kipling

Thank you to William Mahone for the wonderful photos!

April 4, 2014


Seph giving The General a little one on one reassurance before medication time.
Both of these gentle souls are very special to us.

That's what love does in the face of broken. It doesn't look away.
It holds the face of pain in its hands and says "you're not too much for me."
-Melissa Hawks

April 3, 2014

Helping Hands

We had a wonderful group of visitors in from adult assisted living today. A heartfelt thank you for giving the adoption center animals some extra time and attention today- they loved it! These photos are a true depiction of the bonds we see between humans and animals everyday, and we are ever so grateful to be a part of helping them happen. 

No matter how you try to make the world a better place,
the first step always starts with helping each other.
― Magith Noohukhan

Lessons from the Alumni

An afternoon email:

We adopted Rylee, one of "Jazmine's pups", nearly eight months ago, and took home a tiny little bundle of quiver. She wasn't sure about us, and over the first few days, I wasn't sure about her. I am so pleased to say that we have grown together well...she is a bundle of joy and we are so grateful to have her. She graduated from puppy obedience class, and that tail of hers rarely stops wagging And there is nothing tiny about her anymore!

I thought those of you who work and volunteer for Angels could always use some encouragement. This adoption was a tremendous match, and we appreciate your service.

Jasmine was pregnant when she was transferred to Angels of Assisi from a local pound. The dilemma with expecting dogs and cats entering into rescue is to spay and abort the babies, or not to spay and prepare for a foster home. Actually, I need to take that back- for many, this is not a dilemma at all, but an automatic decision to spay and lose the babies.

Our girl Jasmine had seven puppies shortly after arriving at Assisi, and with guidance from our trainer, Bobbie, went to foster, and the family stayed together to get proper socialization until they were 9 weeks old. The result? Seven wonderful pups, one who was adopted by Bobbie and comes to work in the mornings to help keep the balance with our adoption center dogs during play group time.

Another little one, Penelope, was adopted with mama Jasmine, and together they have an amazing, loving home, complete with a brand new couch that was bought just for them that they are allowed to lounge on.

We were delighted to get the update on Rylee, and it's made us very happy that Jasmine was in a position to have her babies. Some will say it is a no brainer to spay pregnant animals, simply because there are too many and not enough homes for them all. Call me a dreamer, but I don't buy that, especially with the intake of our local pound steadily decreasing by well over 2500 animals in the last 8 years. Spaying of pregnant animals may have been a viable option, or even close to a necessity in the not too distant past, but the time has come to take this unwritten policy out, dust it off, and give it another look.

There is never a bad time to step back, take a look and reevaluate life.
Somethings may need to move around, be taken out or put in place.
It is not starting over but simply taking action  
― B. Easley

April 1, 2014

Clinic Cuties

Aengus came in for his first set of shots today, and tolerated a whole bunch of smooching and bear hugs from the staff. He's heading back home to play with his brothers and sisters, and can't wait to see his mom who, while oftentimes roams the world in the pursuit of justice for all, leaves her heart back on the island with those who love her most.

March 29, 2014


When I saw you I fell in love,
and you smiled because you knew.
~ Arrigo Boito

March 27, 2014

Risk and Reward

Lori- held as a stray dog with a bulging tumor, limited vision, a soft, pretty coat, wagging tail, and a disposition exuding sunshine. One of our favorite animal control officers informed us that she had very little chance of survival. It probably was not worth pulling her from the pound. Argh. Dang it, she is such a nice a dog. You know what? I am just not used to people willing to take a risk on dogs that need so much, or have so little time. Yes, please come get her. Let's give her a chance. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Enough said, Tammy was on her way. They rode back to Angels of Assisi with Lori's head on Tammy's shoulder, and even though she could not see the pretty day outside, we know she felt it. Upon arrival, Lori got lots of hands on love, told how beautiful she was, a visit to the play yard, and was witness to many conversations about the awesomeness that was her. She also got a medical exam, and the news was not good. The tumor was pushing her eye out, and the likelihood of her surviving any treatment was next to nothing. We asked if she could have two days in a foster home, and let her last time on this earth be in a home, surrounded by love. The answer: of course she can.  

Lori's foster mom arrived stat, but she did not make it out of our building. A massive stroke took her quickly, and left us all stunned. Rest in peace, little one. In the few short hours we knew you our hearts expanded looking for hope and a miracle, and then expanded some more knowing that the best we could do was give you a last few days of comfort and love, returning some of the sunshine that you were giving us. When that did not happen, those same hearts shattered, and now we're left with putting  the pieces together so they can embrace the next animal who needs us to take a chance. We'll do it in memory of you, and dedicate our mission to those who just aren't used to folks willing to take a risk, but go for it anyways.

This time yesterday we had not even met Lori, and now she is gone. Knowing what we do now, would we make the same choices? You bet. Sometimes you just have to try, hope for that miracle, and then understand that some miracles consist of a head on shoulder car ride kind of day.

There is no discovery without risk and what you risk reveals what you value.
-Jeanette Winterson

March 25, 2014

Will You Walk This Way For A While?


It's soon to be Kitten Season. The time of year for kittens to be born, most unplanned. They come from neighborhood cats, your crazy aunt who did not get her cat spayed, from over the river and through the woods. And then out of the woodwork. Many of them in the Roanoke Valley will end up at our local pound, the Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection (RCACP).

A sad fact is that many of the babies will be too young for adoption, and some will be orphans needing bottle feeding. In the past, these kittens would have been automatically euthanized; however, seeing the need, 2 years ago Angels of Assisi started a special foster program for very young kittens called the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee.

It works like this: you sign up, we give you information on how to do it, supplies, support, and medical care. The kittens will come, day or night, and foster parents won't get a lot of notice on when they are needed, but they will be. Some kittens, like the Assisi ones in the photo above, will have a mama who will do most of the work. Other kittens will need to be bottle fed until they can eat on their own, usually around 3 - 4 weeks old. At 8 weeks old they can come back to our adoption center and be readied for their new homes.

Once kittens start eating on their own, they are surprisingly self sufficient and a ton of fun to watch growing up. TV can't even hold it's own to some of the crazy antics that are there for the taking.

Managing a kitten foster program is like, well... herding cats. Therefore flexibility on everyone's part is necessary. We have learned a lot in the last 2 years, and worked hard to make the program as easy as possible for the foster families. We've also got a goal- I'll let you in on a little secret- and that is to help Roanoke become a no kill community for the first time ever. We are so close, and saving this very fragile and vulnerable population from the RCACP is vital. We need your help to get it done, and can guarantee that the family rewards will be endless.

Check out the information here, and drop foster coordinator Chelsea Ellis an email to sign up. Let's share the tremendous amount of compassion we see in our community every day with those who need it most this spring and summer. We know you can do it, and we thank you eternally for your continued support.

We're all just walking each other home.
~ Ram Dass

Thanks to William Mahone for the wonderful photos!

March 23, 2014


Silence make the real conversations between friends.
Not the saying, but the never needing to say that counts.
~Margaret Lee Runbeck 

Stephen gives shy, shy dog Frisky some extra comfort in his kennel today. It's one of the first times Frisky has come out from hiding since his arrival last week.

It's amazing how our volunteers arrive, and without us needing to speak a word, find the animals who need them most. We're humbled by your kindness, and honored to call you friends.


March 14, 2014

The Angels of Assisi - Stories From Our Lobby

Sarah: I'm here to see if you can update my dog on his shots, and whatever else he needs. We've been hitchhiking across the county, and are stopping in Roanoke for a while. I have family here.

AOA: We'll get him everything he needs today. A check up, shots, worming if needed. Where did you get him?

Sarah: Another friend found him in Oklahoma, he has been traveling with me ever since. 

AOA: What's his name?

Sarah: Tanner Bacon Cheeseburger.

AOA: Can we call him Tanner for short?

Sarah: Sure.


March 13, 2014

Biscuit to Biscuit

And then my soul kind of sighed and said oh, there you are. I've been waiting for you~

Matthias has gained almost 5 pounds in the 6 days he has been on our care, and discovered that food bowls are OK, dog beds are good, and eating is great, absolutory great! He has come out of his shell very nicely and starting to run and play. It looks like he walks on his ankles, and we think that is because his leg tendons are weak from malnutrition.

We headed to work together today, and were softly greeted in the office by a new, very scared dog named Clint. Shy Dog Clint arrived a few days ago, and has stayed huddled in the corner of the office ever since. He tucks his front legs up underneath to make himself as small as possible, and hopes none of us notices him. He only eats when he is alone, but this morning he had uncurled himself and seemed a little more relaxed on a big new bed. I set Matthias down, noses touched, Matthias climbed into the bed next to him, and it was there they stayed together for a few hours.

2 dogs with tough histories, finding safety with each other. Sometimes you just need to be next to the one who understands the closed off corners of your heart, and let the healing process begin.