Articles by Cheryl Wicks
Co-Founder of Sammie's Friends
Printed monthly in The Union newspaper
LET'S MAKE IT A HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY FOR EVERYONE!
Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate romantic love, making it a popular day for couples to spend together. Valentine's Day is traditionally associated with red hearts, romance, flowers, candy, candlelight dinners and the exchange of valentine cards, that express love. Who doesn't want to be in love? It's a good feeling.
In the animal world it is not romantic nor is it loving. Around mid February begins the mating season for cats and dogs and many other animals. When I say this I have had many people respond by saying "I didn't even know there was a mating season. What does that mean?" About this time female cats and dogs go into heat and the mating begins, resulting in lots of unwanted births and overcrowded shelters and too few people trying to solve the problem while others irresponsibly allow these matings to take place, but do not care for the unwanted young and do not get their adult cats or dogs spayed/neutered so the cycle isn't repeated. Mother Nature has designed this "mating season" so that the babies are born when it is beginning to get warm so their chances of survival are highest. After October is is most unusual to receive kittens, although it does happen.
Dogs do not seem to be as predictable, as cats in their heat cycles and mating season. It is not so uncommon to receive puppies year around in shelters and rescues. At least in Nevada County, the number of unwanted puppies is about a fourth of the number of unwanted kittens. I say, "unwanted" because they are left on their own to survive or they are taken to a shelter and dumped. The people in the shelters and rescues love them but are so overwhelmed by the large numbers. Without a huge number of volunteers, foster parents and donations from our amazing community there is no way all these kittens and puppies could get the care they need.
Nearly every spring/summer Sammie's Friends receives approximately 400 kittens; AnimalSave and the Grass Valley Shelter take in a substantial number as well. That's a lot of kittens for a few good Samaritans to take care of. We get them spayed/neutered and vaccinated before they are adopted. And there is no shortage of puppies either. Puppies and kittens can be spayed/neutered as young as eight weeks and if you end up with an unwanted litter, please get them all spayed/neutered before you adopt them out or give them to friends and neighbors. Be sure you place them in good homes, so all of this suffering for the animals and overwhelm for the shelter and rescue workers can come to an end.
When we think of ourselves and other humans we think of the joys of a new baby and raising that child and being there for the grandchildren and making a lifetime of family memories. In the cat and dog world you get pregnant because you are in estrus, commonly called "in heat" and an available male within a mile, who can get to you and decides to mate with you, whether you like it or not. You carry those babies for around two months, give birth, get suckled until everything has bee sucked out of you and then your babies are given away. What fun????? Many times the babies go to less than desirable homes and the whole thing starts over, if there is not some kind of screening process in place. What a life! Eh!
Each year, kittens are found in mail boxes puppies in boxes and sacks along the road, animals left in other people's garages. Who are these cowardly people that think an animal's life is no more valuable than a sack of garbage to be thrown out. Animals feel the same emotions we do (i.e. alone, scared and helpless)This is heartbreaking.
Cats can go into heat as early as four to five months old. That is like your 10 or 11 year old daughter being pregnant. I don't think most people would approve of that. Dogs get pregnant as young as 8 months old. These young bodies are not well developed enough to have babies. It is very hard on these poor animals, to have so little time to be kitties and puppies themselves. Although we are in the beginning stages of the mating season for cats, they can have repeated heat cycles throughout the year. Dogs can go into heat as many as three times per year. We do not see as many puppies as we do kittens, but there are way too many. You can know that anytime you see puppies and kittens in a shelter, someone has been irresponsible, and it's not the shelter or rescue workers or the animals.
Please people spay/neuter your pets. It's urgent now before the mating begins. If you are low income there are two low income spay/neuter clinics to utilize Animal Spay and Neuter Clinic 530-889-8800 and AnimalSave 530-477-1706. Sammie's Friends provides vouchers for cats and dogs (except Chihuahuas, Pitbulls, Huskies, Malamutes) Those four breeds will be paid for by Pound Puppy Rescue. Call 530-272-1716 to arrange.
The way you can make Valentine's Day great for everyone is to give and get as much love as you can. For us people that may mean the candy, flowers, dinners, valentines and for the animals it means get them spayed/neutered and do your part to end the drama and trauma of all the unwanted births.
Sammie's Friends wishes for lots of love and a happy life for all beings (two and four legged) and finned and feathered.
Cheryl Wicks is the Co-Founder and President of Sammie's Friends