Thursday, April 26, 2012

Public invited to learn more about YHS at annual meeting

The YHS Walk for the Animals
event drew about 500 attendees Saturday.
The Yavapai Humane Society's (YHS) first Walk for the Animals was a huge success. More than 500 people attended and over 360 of them brought their canine companions. More than $25,000 was raised to help fund life-saving programs, far surpassing our $20,000 goal. I want to thank everyone who participated in this wonderful event designed to help save the lives of our community's homeless pets.

The Walk for the Animals kicked off the Yavapai Humane Society's 40th anniversary. Anniversaries are times to reflect on the past and plan for the future. That is exactly what we intend to do at our 2012 annual meeting. The YHS annual meeting is scheduled for Saturday, May 5, in Prescott. Everyone is invited. Come learn more about your Yavapai Humane Society.

YHS history

When it comes to looking back, the Daily Courier archives is a treasure trove. The need for a humane society was first documented in 1935 when it was reported our community was "facing unfavorable publicity of the worst kind."

A national officer from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was visiting the Smoki public museum. Somebody drove by and in her presence tossed a litter of neonate kittens on the road. The callous incident so incensed the officer that she threaten to "blast Prescott as the most inhumane city she ever visited" in their national publication. There is no record she ever followed through on that threat.

Nonetheless, that episode may have served as a catalyst for "gathering momentum to form some sort of humane society" according to the Courier, which demanded an organization be formed to "to put a stop to numerous acts of cruelty to animals in Prescott."

Despite the gathering momentum, it wasn't until March 20, 1972, that the Yavapai Humane Society submitted its articles of incorporation; and not until Aug. 1, 1977, that the shelter doors finally opened. The grand opening, officiated by Mayor Larry Caldwell, was on Sept. 2, 1977.

From the "most inhumane city" in the United States to possibly the most progressive and innovative community in the state of Arizona, if not the entire Southwest, it has been quite a journey.

YHS completed 2011 with a 90 percent live release rate and maintained a 96 percent live release rate for the first three months of 2012. With the help of our board, employees, volunteers, sponsors and partners, YHS has virtually eliminated euthanasia as a means of pet overpopulation control in our community. In fact, according to national shelter statistics, western Yavapai County is now considered the safest community for pets in all Arizona, and possibly in the entire Mountain Region, which includes Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah.

From a community where "scores of persons took unwanted kittens and pups out on the highway to toss them out to die of injuries or to starve to death" (according to a 1935 Courier article) to a society where every animal is valued, and where the same criteria that a loving pet guardian or conscientious veterinarian applies to an owned pet is applied to homeless pets, is a remarkable transformation. A transformation we should all be proud of! Thank you all for making this happen.

Attend our annual meeting to learn how YHS is better positioned today to effectively promote and protect the health, safety and welfare of lost and homeless pets than ever before; and how you can help. The YHS annual meeting is 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 5, at the Yavapai Title Company, 1235 East Gurley St., Prescott.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The beauty and bliss of fostering

See Cinderella's bio below
 How often do you get to say, "I saved a life today?" When you volunteer with the Yavapai Humane Society (or your local shelter) that assertion can be a daily affirmation. That is especially true when you volunteer as a foster caregiver. Every animal fostered back to health or to an adoptable status is a life saved. Our ability to care for all the animals we rescue depends on reliable foster volunteers willing and able to help. The more foster volunteers we have, the more lives we save.

Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) foster volunteers are caring people who do everything from bottle-feeding orphaned babies around the clock to socializing little ones to ensure they are able to interact with both humans and animals. Our foster volunteers provide care, safety and love.

YHS provides the training as well as start-up supplies. Help from our staff is only a phone call away, and YHS will gives foster parents a 24-hour emergency number to call in case questions or problems arise.

Foster care volunteers provide temporary care for kittens, puppies, dogs and cats. Some animals may only need a home for several days or weeks, while others may need several months of care. By offering your home to an animal in need, you save a life.

Fostering is more flexible than other volunteer jobs that require you to show up for a specific shift for a committed length of time. The YHS foster program is fun and rewarding once you've learned how to take care of your temporary companion animals.

YHS's foster program is designed to help any animal in need of foster care, including:

• Orphaned neonate kittens and puppies
• Underage, self-feeding kittens and puppies (4-8 weeks old)
• Mother cat or dog with nursing kittens or puppies
• Animals recovering from injury or illness (may need medication)
• Shy or fearful animals that need socialization
• Healthy senior animals that need a break from the shelter environment
• Hospice animals that need loving homes near the end of their lives.

The animals YHS rescues deserve the best possible chance at finding a loving, permanent home. A foster parent has one of the most important jobs at YHS. They allow the animals to receive the care and attention they deserve as they wait for adoption. Foster parents not only save the lives of the animals in their care, they save the lives of other animals in the shelter waiting to find a loving home. If those aren't enough reasons to become a foster parent, consider these:

• Foster animals are temporary companions offering their love freely.
• You'll help socialize an animal so they become more adoptable as better companions.
• You can put that spare bedroom to good use.
• You'll delight at the smiles on the faces of the family that adopts your foster animal and possibly make new friends in the bargain.
• Fostering helps you explore many different breeds of dogs and cats to help you decide which traits you'd like in your next companion animal.
• If, for some reason, you can't keep a full-time companion animal, fostering for short time periods is an ideal solution.
• You'll know that you're making a huge difference in the lives of your fosters; and you'll be helping other animals, too.

If you have the time and some space in your home for a needy animal, call 445-2666, ext. 18, or email Fostering is a labor of love that will create memories that last long after your foster animals have been placed into permanent, loving homes.

The cat in the picture above is named Cinderella, she is a cross-eyed beauty. She is a 10-year-old Himalayan mix with extraordinary markings. She is a very friendly lap cat looking for just the right lap - yours!

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Does your dog suffer from ADHD?

See Wally's bio below
Do you sometimes wonder if your dog suffers from ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactive disorder)? Although this term is often bandied about, hyperactivity is actually very rare in canines.
According to Clinician's Brief, a publication of the North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC), "hyperactivity" is defined as "over-activity, attention deficits, impulsivity, high testing physiologic parameters with a paradoxical calming response to amphetamines."

In layman's terms, dogs suffering from hyperactivity don't seem to ever get used to the normal sights, sounds, and smells of their environment. They overreact (hyper-act) to ordinary stimuli and are unable to rest, no matter how quiet the surroundings or comfy the bed.

Veterinarians generally agree that the symptoms most often described by owners concerned that their dog suffers from hyperactivity are actually the normal result of breed characteristics, conditioned behavior, lack of appropriate physical and mental stimulation, or a combination of these factors.

A clinically diagnosed hyperactive dog is usually 3 years or older; has increased heart and respiratory rates, poor body condition scores, reactivity, and agitation. They are emotionally aroused by routine stimuli and often stay aroused long after the stimulus is removed.

There is a big difference between abnormal canine behavior and undesirable, normal behavior. The British Small Animal Veterinary Association's Manual of Canine and Feline Behavioral Medicine explains that "It is important to determine whether the dog's need for activity, social interaction, mental stimulation and environmental enrichment are being met on a daily basis. In some cases the environment is not providing for the pet's needs and the hyperactivity is an attempt to fulfill those needs."

For instance, if your dog's "hyperactivity" is reduced after playing for an hour you can reasonably assume that this type of interaction is needed on a regular basis. If your dog were truly hyperactive, you would see no difference in his behavior following such interaction.

To diagnose hyperactivity in a dog other causes for the unwanted behavior have to be ruled out, such as conditioning; phobias and anxiety disorders; territorialism; hyperthyroidism, allergies or other medical conditions; and cognitive decline.

Since only a very small percentage of dogs are ever clinically diagnosed as hyperactive, it is best to start by asking these questions:

• Does my dog get plenty of exercise?

• Do I provide mental stimulation, such as puzzles, treat-release toys, hikes and other outdoor activities that appeal to a dog's natural instincts?

• Do I focus on desired behaviors rather than behaviors I don't like? Dogs respond to positive reinforcement of good behaviors, not punishment of bad behaviors.

• Has my dog completed an obedience or agility class or an activity that helps him focus?

• Do I feed my dog a balanced, species-appropriate diet that avoids food intolerances or allergies common in dogs fed low-quality commercial pet food? Food sensitivity can contribute to restless, hyperactive behavior, not to mention poor health.

• Have I discussed supplements such as L-theanine, GABA and valerian root with my veterinarian?

If you can identify a possible cause for your dog's undesirable behavior, that cause should be addressed first. If your dog is hyperactive after ruling out these other causes and you know he is getting the physical activity and mental stimulation he needs, then it's time to make an appointment with your veterinarian to investigate potential underlying physical or emotional causes for the unwanted behavior.

In the meantime, the best way to work the hyperactivity out of your dog is to sign him up for the Walk for the Animals April 21 at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Visit or call 928-445-2666 for more information. He will thank you for it!

The puppy in the picture is Wally, an eight-week-old male Australian shepherd who already knows how to use a doggy door and is house broken. This is a high-activity, intelligent breed who will need a lot of quality time with his new owner. Wally will be available for adoption by auction 10:30 a.m. Saturday at YHS (1625 Sundog Ranch Road in Prescott AZ).

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.