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Celebrating the 8th Annual Florida Week for the Animals

“I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.” (Mohandas Gandhi)

“I will not kill or hurt any living creature needlessly, nor destroy any beautiful thing, but will strive to save and comfort all gentle life, and guard and perfect all natural beauty upon the earth.” (John Ruskin)

“There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.” (Charles Darwin)

“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.” (George Bernard Shaw)

Florida Week for the Animals

Profuse apologies for the extended delay from my happy place, my place of serenity — but keeping up with a few moves and a few jobs has forced a brief hiatus. HOWEVER, thanks to the wonderful people at Florida Week for the Animals, I’ve been given the opportunity to post about this most wonderful annual event. Running February 20-28, Florida Week for the Animals hosts an amazing number of events throughout the state, through this upcoming weekend.

Help celebrate this amazing week, and speak up for the innocent and voiceless of our state — this week and every day. It doesn’t take much. Check out their Calendar of Events (2 pages worth!), which is constantly updated with new and exciting activities. And click here to see if there’s a similar Week for the Animals in your own state!

More from the lovely Michelle, at Florida Week for the Animals:

Animal World USA is pleased to announce the 8th Annual Florida Week for the Animals is scheduled February 20-28, 2016.  During the fun-filled week animal shelters, rescue groups, wildlife centers, educational institutions and humane organizations across the entire state will be hosting wonderful animal-related special events that will be saving lives, building relationships, helping animals and strengthening communities. Educators, students, businesses and caring citizens across the state will be joining in to celebrate and help the animals.

Events will include adoption events, low cost & free spay/neuter events in honor of World Spay Day, R.E.A.D. dog programs in libraries, Siberian Husky Olympics, festivals for the shelter and rescue animals, 5K’s and Walks for animals, Ponies for Pups polo benefit, events, pet food donations, farm animal sanctuary events, wildlife camps, bird tours/activities, Wetlands festivals,  galas for homeless animals, pet food donation drives, and therapy animals visiting hospitals and living-assisted homes.

Also to be included are a salute to our working K-9 and handlers, low cost vaccinations, educational events, vegetarian dinner theater and meetups, and fun-filled activities for families to enjoy friendship, food, music on behalf of the always amazing animals. Scores of precious lives will be saved and lasting new relationships will be built during the dynamic week which has approximately 100 events scheduled!

Please note that events and activities will be added through the week as energy grows for the animals.  For more info call 901-454-0807. Please see the exciting website and learn how to become involved at  http://www.floridaanimals.org/

Florida Panther Kitten (Copyright John Kellam), Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Florida Panther Kitten (Copyright John Kellam), Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Gopher Tortoise in His Burrow: One of the oldest living species, and now listed as threatened in Florida

Alligator Pair in the Everglades, Florida

Alligator Pair in the Everglades, Florida: What’s not to love about these gorgeous, ancient, fascinating creatures?

 

A Clip Here, a Snip There: World Spay Day Is February 24

Best Friends Feral Cat MafiaFebruary is National Spay / Neuter Month, and today is World Spay Day!

We’ve called this “The Year of the Clipping and Snipping” for our neighborhood strays and abandoned cats… Having recently relocated to a large city, we were immediately struck with the number of roaming hungry mouths, right outside our door. Of course, feeding them and providing shelter is easy enough — their spirits are unbelievably beautiful — but after repeated litters immediately upon our arrival, we knew we had to become quickly proactive with TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return). I was actively TNRing in my old home — always abandoned animals from foreclosed homes — but being in the city is an entirely different affair. We’re up to 10 spayed and neutered kitties now, and we’re not done. Nor do we feel like criminals for trying to help the stray populations (I’m looking at you, certain very large counties in Florida) — Hoorah!

litter

We’re lucky to live in a city where the Best Friends Animal Society  provides a grant, for spaying and neutering. Not only does the city proper take an active effort with TNR (instead of rounding animals up for the kill-shelter); there’s even a paid associate to assist should you need it. We had already bought a cage, but she’s been exceptionally helpful with transporting the kitties, and giving them a place to recuperate from the surgeries. Read more about the Best Friends grant program here.

"Itty Bitty" — Expected another round of food

“Itty Bitty” — One of our 10 successful TNRs (and one of 2 possible adoptions), expecting another round of food

World Spay Day

Save a Life - Spay and NeuterWE humans domesticated cats and dogs, to help us in more ways than ever imagined. It’s OUR responsibility to help them, whenever possible. The facts are brutal, as are the lives of these sweet and beautiful strays, ferals, and abandoned animals. As difficult as it may be to look at, it’s even harder to look away. There’s so much to do — feeding and sheltering your local critters, donating to local shelters, adopting, fostering… The list is never-ending!

"Samuel Beckett" — Dropped off at our local bookstore, and adopted by the kind folks there

“Samuel Beckett” — Abandoned at our local bookstore, and adopted by the kind folks there. Here with his surrogate bunny-momma

Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet, from the ASPCA:

  1. Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life.
    Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.
  2. Neutering provides major health benefits for your male.
    Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer, if done before six months of age.
  3. Your spayed female won’t go into heat.
    While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house!
  4. Your male dog won’t want to roam away from home.
    An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence and making like Houdini to escape from the house. And once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males.
  5. Your neutered male will be much better behaved.
    Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering.
  6. Spaying or neutering will NOT make your pet fat.
    Don’t use that old excuse! Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds—not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake.
  7. It is highly cost-effective.
    The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray!
  8. Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community.
    Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children. Spaying and neutering packs a powerful punch in reducing the number of animals on the streets.
  9. Your pet doesn’t need to have a litter for your children to learn about the miracle of birth.
    Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is not a good lesson for your children—especially when so many unwanted animals end up in shelters. There are tons of books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a more responsible way.
  10. Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation.
    Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering.

TNR InfographicFor More Information:

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate

Well, this was my initial DELICATE post — a precious periwinkle dragonfly resting along the Apoxee Trail in the Grassy Waters Preserve.  It was my companion for the better part of a half-mile; this gossamer creation following me as I hiked — perhaps because I was head-to-toe in periwinkle!

Blue Dragonfly, Grassy Waters Preserve, Florida

That is, until Sunday evening, when a starving black kitten crossed my path. I’ve been TNRing (Trap-Neuter-Release) many kitties, in my wee attempt to help control the populations. (Our county has a severe feline overpopulation issue.) Apparently a lovely woman nearby is doing the same (THANK YOU, stranger!). Sometimes, it’s not cheap: If the kitties are sick, pregnant, need medications, or if assistance is needed with trapping (they can be wily)…it quickly adds up. But these guys need help. Many have been abandoned, the sad products of foreclosed homes and other circumstances. I’ve seen pets left behind for a simple move / long vacation, shockingly.

New Feline Rescue

Maya (??) caught in the flash

My guys are rescues…. And it’s easy to see which ones can survive out there, and which ones cannot. This girl falls into the latter category. She tried desperately to find a home for as long as she was alive, apparently. Maya (?!? still playing with her name) crossed my path in another section of the neighborhood, and, according to one of the tenants, she has no litter mates, and was unable to reach the food provided by the woman caring for the other strays (being so tiny and timid). She had been trying to sneak into the homes of many residents — to no avail. An absolute sweetheart, one of the friendliest felines I’ve ever seen, she wants nothing more than love, safety, and shelter. But every bone in her body is razor-sharp: each vertebrae, her hips…. She was starving. At 6 months old, she has the body of a 4-month-old. I’ll never understand how a starving animal could be repeatedly turned away by so many, nor do I want to understand.

New Feline Rescue

Enjoying the view from inside

Right now, while her body’s very delicate, she’s a survivor — like so many souls on the streets, she’s a combination of delicacy and strength. And despite what she’s seen, despite her physical hardships and emaciation, despite her continued unsuccessful attempts at finding a home (until now), she remains the sweetest little soul.

Watching the Divine

Stranger

by Thomas Merton

When no one listens
To the quiet trees
When no one notices
The sun in the pool.

Where no one feels
The first drop of rain
Or sees the last star

Or hails the first morning
Of a giant world
Where peace begins
And rages end:

One bird sits still
Watching the work of God:
One turning leaf,
Two falling blossoms,
Ten circles upon the pond….

(For complete poem, click here)

Deep in a swamp of the northern section of our Everglades, we spied this solitary Great Blue Heron relaxing on a fallen log. Far in the SWA Trails of the Grassy Waters Preserve — along the outer Owahee Trail — there was little to disturb her. She remained there on our return trip, hours later — at complete peace in the beautiful remnants of this most amazing and completely unique ecosystem.

Here’s to hoping that Mother Nature is gentle on Florida, and that Isaac gives us nothing more than nice winds and rains. A shift to the west would be extra kind, to provide Texas with some much-needed rain…. In the meantime, there are many brave and wonderful people working overtime in preparation for the upcoming storm — including 100+ Abandoned Dogs of Everglades Florida. This group rescues dogs, abandoned and left to fend for themselves in the harsh wilderness of the Everglades (along with cats and even horses). They provide these animals desperately needed medical attention (many are starving), and find foster and permanent homes for them. Much luck and love to these volunteers.

Sunbeams Forever

I don’t usually delve into personal issues, but I had to honor her. And I won’t harp on those sad, unfortunate souls who dumped her in a sparse Florida field abutting alligator-infested lakes, to fend for herself. There are many of these, and I’d rather not give them the power of my words — I’ll bestow that upon the efforts of the rescue groups and individuals doing so much for the abused and abandoned animals of the world, in countless ways. Rather, I’ll thank whoever abandoned her, for bringing us together. Confused, starved, covered in filth, and physically broken — but still desperate for human affection.

She quickly grew to thrive in the alpha role of the household, not thoroughly appreciating the new rescues, but always maintaining a calm, steady, and queenly presence…. “You know, death in the animal world isn’t seen in the same morose light as death in your world. Just let them be; they’ll make their ways fine and dandy on their own,” she seemed to say, in her haughty and gorgeous half-Maine Coon self. Of course, if they came to me, I couldn’t ignore their plights.

But on the first day of the glorious month of June, I bid farewell to my little princess after 17 years — how old she was exactly, I’ll never know. Nineteen? Twenty? She was fully grown when we pulled her out of that overgrown field; an abandoned housecat surviving major injuries during her fight for survival, including broken legs — which we thank Cosequin and Adequan for their help in easing her pain — but which would prove to be too much at the end of her long life. And after surprising everyone, in beating diabetes and stalling kidney failure (with the help of insulin and natural treatments) — the final straw would prove to be a stroke or brain tumor, creating mental confusion, a personality shift, and even more pain and weakness to her already damaged legs — quickly prompting us to make a most loving decision. It never gets easier. They’re a part of our family, and it’s our responsibility to honor them in these most precious moments, as quickly as possible. I’m ever-grateful and thankful for my vet, who makes house visits to perform this final transition, in the comfort of the animals’ surroundings.

My darling girl, Puss-puss, may you forever bask in sunbeams, pouncing freely on objects unawares. And while there may now be more space on the bed (“perpendicular” was her favorite position), I thoroughly expect your expansive and ethereal self soon enough…. As fellow bloggers Pat Bean and Whitebird so perfectly re-quoted recently:

 “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” —Dr. Seuss

✿ ♥ ✿ ♥ ✿ ♥ ✿ ♥ ✿ ♥ ✿

Love is life.
All, everything that I understand,
I understand only because I love.
Everything is, everything exists, only because I love.
Everything is united by it alone.
Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source. —Leo Tolstoy

Princess Puss

Princess Puss

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