2009-03-11 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Shown in photo, #93 - the last kitten "fixed." Shown in photo, #93 - the last kitten "fixed." Spay Day USA is always the last Tuesday in February. Last Hope Animal Rescue marked the occasion by holding another free feral cat TNR (Trap/ Neuter/ Return) clinic on Sunday Mar. 1. Thanks to the all volunteer team of seven veterinarians plus about 30 vet techs and helpers, 93 cats (most trapped that weekend) were spayed or neutered, vaccinated, wormed, and treated for fleas/ear mites.

Merci beaucoup: We (and the cats) are so grateful to Dr. Dennis Leon and his staff for hosting the event at Levittown Animal Hospital, and to the participating vets- Dr. Gay Senk, Dr. Diane Levitan, Dr. Kevin Cummins, Dr. Ron Pettinati, Dr. David Foster, Dr. Frank Valenzisi, and Dr. Janet Juliano; also to Diane Pionegro for coordinating the vet techs and supplies; and to the many vet techs, students from Suffolk Community College vet tech program, and other assistants who made our 4th free clinic successful, even though Mother Nature's looming blizzard presented new challenges. The Bernice Barbour Foundation partially funded this clinic.

Feral spayathons are a great way to stop the kitten influx; to curb overpopulation of LI's ubiquitous cat colonies. Word of a free clinic spreads like wildf ire among caretakers so slots fill up fast. We overbook since our actual patients average about 75 percent due to the uncertainty of synchronizing trapping to the clinic. This time Last Hope staggered sign-in times to make intake go smoother. We started off slowly because of the presnow before the big storm. Later, especially when the Oak Beach crowd arrived, operating rooms got quite busy.

Many caretakers bring multiple cats. All tabbies or tuxedos look alike in a trap. Since these are not familiar pets, often even the sex unknown until anesthesia, labeling the cats and traps correctly is crucial for return to the proper person. After each clinic we try to fine tune tagging procedures especially to distinguish cats with medical complications or the tamed cats that will either be leukemia tested or not get ear tipping, and to save recovery techs time locating the right carrier or trap.

Our silliest client was the stowaway. This female had been spayed at the Animal Lovers League clinic the weekend before but she hadn't learned her lesson. She entered the trap again with another cat. Rather than risk losing both if they released her, the feeders brought Ms. Stowaway along as moral support for her buddy. She had some hours to ponder her folly.

Keeping post-surgical cats warm is so important. Towels and sheets thrown over traps to calm frightened captives are recycled later when workers cradle drowsy kitties. In recovery cages sleepy cats wrap their paws around a different kind of heated, security blanket- microwaved socks filled with rice.

Our previous TNR clinics had been at the hospital adjoining the Last Hope Dog Center, so our territory was a bit more familiar. This time Dr. Leon "lent" the itinerant cat crew his Levittown Animal Hospital- a truly generous gesture. "Operation Cat-snip" is similar to an alien invasion. Every inch of your hospital is completely taken over by strangers and outside veterinary personnel. Traps are stacked everywhere. The cats themselves, particularly the males, are not happy campers and express displeasure with that distinctly malodorous feline perfume which lingers despite a flood of bleach. It takes a few days for the air to forget the ferals were there.

Despite the intrusion and infusion, Dr. Leon felt the event ran well "in a foreign land" and has even invited Last Hope and company back for the next TNR clinic- a magnanimous gesture. I would like to spread the word about his other public service. The last Tues. of each month at Levittown Animal Hospital (www. levittownvet.com) Dr. Leon offers free seminars (with refreshments) open to all on a variety of topics like heartworm, vaccines, and dental care. Thenext Parent- Teacher Conference, as he dubs them -"Vomiting Regurgitation, and Diarrhea…oh, my!" will be Mar. 31 at 7 pm. Call 516-796-2266 to RSVP.

On a very sad note, one of our vet tech volunteers, Marian Krauss of Massapequa, passed away suddenly while tending to her own dogs the day after helping at the clinic. Marian had assisted at other Last Hope TNR events. Few, including me, knew the amazing scope of her animal advocacy.

Actually Marian was a brilliant scientist, a retired geneticist who researched at Cold Spring Harbor and was later a partner in a NYC pre-natal genetics

testing laboratory. She also dedicated her life to animal welfare. As a 25-year volunteer for the Bronx Zoo, Marian supervised other volunteers and organized the children's zoo programs. Two years ago on her 70th birthday she invited friends to a private tour at the Bronx Zoo. According to her cousin Jack Schnurr, Marion inspired others by her example; she understood that pets, and even wild animals in today's fragile environment, cannot take care of themselves so we have an obligation to protect them.

In addition, Marian gave time to Bide-A-Wee, Little Shelter, a New Rochelle rescue, and other organizations, where she shared her vast knowledge and devotion to all creatures. Marian made several trips to the world's largest shelter, Best Friends in Utah, to help and to learn. She was a world traveler, enjoying two safaris and the Galapagos, at times touring with other scientists. She just returned from three weeks in Antarctica.

Marian's three senior dogs, all rescues, have been adopted by her dear vet tech friend. As another shelter colleague wrote: "I know Marian Krauss won't be forgotten. She was one of the rare ones; selfless, nurturing, a friend to all she knew."

For Adoption:"Brook" #122 an American Bulldog and "Koko"#100 a Siamese mix are among the dogs and cats at Oyster Bay Shelter (677-5784) Miller Pl. Syosset waiting for homes.

•Cats: "Trixie" #99 "Koko's" sister; a muted calico declaw # 103; "Cartwheel" #1025- playful tabby.

•Dogs: "L'Oreal" #110- Jindo/Shiba; a chocolate Lab

Fabulous Fund-raiser: Almost Home is holding an Animal Well-Fair-a huge Chinese Auction-to benefit their pet outreach program on Sat. Mar.21 from 11:30 -4 at the Elks Lodge, Edgewood Rd. Smithtown (just north of Jericho Tpke.). Over 100 prizes including tickets to the Mets, Vanderbilt Museum, Top of the Rock, Bronx Zoo and gift certificates such as Danfords, the Irish Coffee Pub, Huntington Cinema Arts. Call 631-627-3665.

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