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Gimmie Shelter

Our Pet Crisis Center is such a splendid resource for creatures in need of a helping hand that I tend to think of it as the only option when faced with an animal emergency. I have extolled its many virtues in several blogs, to my family and friends and to unwitting strangers who wonder about my WaLHFMF tee shirt at Moka, the Farmers’ Market and many local stores. Anyone who evidences an interest in knowing what the acronym stands for, or who may be curious about our services is fair game, not just for an overview of who and what we are, but for the entire slide show. My cell phone is a treasure trove of cute cats and playful pups; adorable kittens; our clean, comfortable and well-organized building and lush gardens. Creatures past and present are oohed and cooed over; adoption procedures investigated, directions given. Then we sing a rousing chorus or two of the Beatles tune. I suspect I am becoming a bit of a menace, but I am so proud of the work of the Center that I can’t help but brag just a little.

Today, however, it is another kind of sanctuary that is on my mind. Last week on a warm mid-afternoon, I spotted a cat curled up on our dock. Knowing my neighbors cats quite well, and knowing that my own Maine Coon, Rocky, was sound asleep in his closet hideout, I went to investigate the sleeping stranger. Slowly, I approached the curled bundle of tortoise-shell fur so as to not frighten our visitor. She raised her head and looked at me with glassy eyes and croaked out a small meow. Curled up in the shade of a deck chair, she was clearly in distress. I gave her water and brought a small blanket for her to lie on. She let me gently scratch her head and responded to my voice with small vocalizations and a very lusty purr. My first inclination was to touch her and see if she was hurt. Not knowing her temperament or the extent of her injuries, I went very slowly. It took about an hour, but I was able, gently, to check her legs and abdomen for wounds, to softly run my fingers down her spine and to raise and lower her head and upper body. She responded to my touch in a way that led me to believe that this kitty had known and enjoyed human contact—certainly, she was not feral. Eventually I carried her to the safety of our boathouse and brought her a bed, food, water and a litter box. Then I called Mona at the Center! I described her condition—no visible injuries, but weak, lethargic, probably dehydrated (her nose was crusty and dry), with lots of flea dirt and (most alarming), very pale gums and tongue. Suspecting that she needed immediate medical treatment, Mona suggested I take her to the Antrim County Animal Shelter where her condition could be assessed and treated. Also, she reminded me, such a friendly kitty could be someone’s beloved pet and could even be micro-chipped. Her suggestion made my heart leap a bit. I have visited the shelter on two previous occasions—once to help my granddaughter, Morgan, choose a kitten to adopt, and once to see if there was a volunteer program I could join. On both occasions, the light and airy building, the cleanliness of the facility and the friendly and helpful staff impressed me. However, even though the resident dogs and cats are clearly receiving excellent care, I have, as many people do, a lingering fear of municipal shelters. Furthermore, I was unfamiliar with their policies regarding incoming animals in distress. Mona had assured me that my torti-girl kitty would be assessed and given the help she needed, but again, the fear of default euthanasia always lurks at the back of my mind. I should not have worried. After a brief intake questionnaire detailing the kitty’s circumstances, my name and contact information, I surrendered her to the staff. They told me she would be checked over and, if needed, taken to one of several local vets who provide services to the shelter. Kindly, they asked if I would name her.

As I left the newly named Georgie, I felt reassured that she would be treated gently and kindly. I also learned that (shamefully) Michigan law does not require that municipal shelters accept cats! I was shocked by that news—but that is another topic. Our shelter DOES accept cats and, in fact, bringing stray dogs or cats in may be the very best way to find their anxious owners! By Friday, Georgie had been tested for several diseases (all negative) and was receiving excellent care both at the shelter and by our local vet. Distemper is still a fear, but tomorrow I will call to see if she is showing improvement. Thanks to the kind and gentle ministrations of the staff of Antrim County Animal Shelter, Georgie is receiving the help that she so desperately needs. Who knows, after her stray-hold time is up, she may become one of our beloved guests at the Center and you can come and see for yourself the miracles that occur when a community comes together to care for it’s most vulnerable members. So—in closing—support both our Center and our Shelter. Different facilities, different tasks; one goal: to help our creatures thrive and our community to know the joy of living in harmony with all of its members, human and animal alike. Although the sad truth is the dreaded image of “The Pound” from years past is all too accurate in some communities around this country, here in Antrim County we can rely on the caring staff of our local shelter to give unstinting support, care and affection to our animals. Staff members deserve our thanks, support and praise. Although they are prohibited from accepting volunteers, dog treats, peanut butter, cat and dog toys and, of course, cash donations are sorely needed and very welcome.

Update: Georgie is now at the center reciving contined care in order to get her ready for adoption.

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