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Berkshire Humane Society

Pittsfield, MA (October 12, 2015) — Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Massachusetts Animal Coalition (MAC), Berkshire Humane Society (BHS) will be able to continue its efforts to provide low-cost spay/neuter programs for cats and dogs in Berkshire County. This year the MAC grant will support two programs: Pittsfield Cat Fix and Be Hip & SNIP Your Dog.

MAC is a statewide, non-profit organization comprised of animal professionals and individual volunteers dedicated to decreasing the number of homeless, neglected, displaced and abused animals in Massachusetts. Through its annual “I’m Animal Friendly” license plates program, it disperses funds to humane organizations and municipal animal control agencies in the Commonwealth to provide low-cost spay/neuter services.

Collaborating with Animal DREAMS (AD), BHS has recently launched Pittsfield Cat Fix, a city-wide effort to spay/neuter both owned and stray cats in Pittsfield. AD is a local organization dedicated to caring for and improving the lives of stray or feral cats in Berkshire County primarily through Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR). TNR is the only method proven to humanely and effectively control the population of stray or feral cat. Cats in a colony are trapped, neutered and then returned to their territory where caretakers provide them with regular food and shelter.

With the help of the license plate grant, AD and BHS have targeted 500 cats in the 01201 zip code. For Pittsfield residents who own indoor/outdoor cats, the cost of spaying/neutering is $30 and includes a rabies vaccination. Discounts can be negotiated for multiple cats or litters. There is no fee for spaying/neutering stray or feral cats. A rabies vaccination is also included. Caretakers for these cats should contact AD to discuss arrangements.

Pittsfield Cat Fix is available for a limited time – until the goal of 500 cats is reached or May 31, 2016.
To learn more about Pittsfield Cat Fix, please call AD at 413-997-2287 or email them at admin@berkshireanimaldream.org.

Beginning on October 1st, BHS will also be hosting Be Hip & SNIP Your Dog for dog owners who live in North County and who are in financial need. Through this program, BHS will be able to offer low-cost spay/neuter for approximately 50 dogs and puppies three months and older. To participate in Be Hip & SNIP Your Dog, dog owners need to purchase a $25 voucher at either the main shelter in Pittsfield or Bark N’ Cat in North Adams. Once they purchase the voucher, they’ll need to schedule an appointment with a participating veterinarian and then submit the voucher on the day of the surgery.

Veterinarians taking part in Be Hip & SNIP Your Dog are Greylock Animal Hospital, North County Veterinary Hospital, and Pittsfield Veterinary Hospital. To schedule a surgery appointment at Greylock Animal Hospital, please call 413-663-5365 after October 1st. To schedule a surgery appointment at North County Veterinary Hospital or Pittsfield Veterinary Hospital, please call 413-499-1580 after November 1st and ask for Emily.

The $25 fee includes spaying/neutering and a rabies vaccination. Vouchers will be available on a first come, first serve basis and be limited to two per family. Additionally, the wait list for a surgery appointment may be two months or longer. There will be no refunds. For more information, please call the BHS kennel staff at 413-447-7878, ext. 126.

“Since our inception, Berkshire Humane Society has been committed to providing low-cost spaying and neutering to families who cannot afford this important surgery,” explains John Perreault, Executive Director of BHS. “Over the years, we’ve spayed or neutered almost 5,000 dogs and cats through our community outreach programs and significantly reduced the homeless pet population. We’re very grateful to the Massachusetts Animal Coalition, Animal DREAMS, our participating veterinarians, and Christa Abel of Bark N’ Cat for partnering with us for Pittsfield Cat Fix and Be Hip & SNIP Your Dog.”

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that about 7.6 million animals are surrendered to shelters nationwide each year; sadly, 2.7 million of them are euthanized annually. Spaying and neutering is one of the most efficient and humane ways to decrease these numbers.

Besides reducing the homeless pet population, spaying and neutering has many other benefits, including health, behavior, and cost. According to the ASPCA, spaying female cats or dogs before their first heat cycle reduces their chances of uterine infections and breast cancer; neutering male cats or dogs before they are six months old decreases their risk of testicular cancer. Males who are neutered don’t roam in search of a mate, and dogs are more apt to focus on their family members, making their training easier. Finally, the cost of spaying and neutering is less than the cost of raising a litter of kittens and puppies.

To help support the effort to end pet overpopulation and homelessness in Massachusetts through low-cost spaying/neutering, BHS encourages all community members to purchase an “I’m Animal Friendly” license plate. The tax-deductible plates are available at local Registries of Motor Vehicles or at www.petplate.org

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A Folk Opera for the Entire Family

On Saturday, December 13 at 4:00, The Beasts, a charming folk opera by local composer David Anderegg, will be performed at Old Parish Church in Sheffield. Using the tradition from Europe that animals can speak on Christmas Eve, Anderegg’s story includes a parrot named Pollyethelyne, Ambrose the wise goldfish, Wolf—an old dog, and Weezer—a puppy, along with Joseph, their owner, an angel, and the owner’s girlfriend. Things have not been going well for Joseph, who is angry and definitely not in a holiday mood, but as the story unfolds, the animals’ faithfulness and wisdom work on their master, and in the end a spirit of reconciliation reigns.

This choral work is performed by Quintessential, five voices, accompanied by instru-ments. The group sings a wide variety of music, including gospel, reggae, classical, rock, and American standards. They have sung at baseball games, including the national anthem for a Red Sox game, and other local venues. Composer Anderegg also sings with the group.

This performance has been underwritten by the Myrin Institute, a local foundation, so that all proceeds will benefit Berkshire Humane Society, the Sheffield Food Program, and Breaking Bread Kitchen in Great Barrington. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children at the door.

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SAC_June21st2014

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Berkshire Humane Society
214 Barker Road, Pittsfield, MA 01201
413-447-7878. ext. 33
jperreault@berkshirehumae.org

For Immediate Release….

Berkshire Humane Society’s 18th Annual Woofstock Has a New Location
Put on your most comfy shoes and grab your best canine buddy – or two! Once again, it’s time for “Woofstock,” Berkshire Humane Society’s (BHS) annual dog walk. Held on Sunday, September 15, this year’s popular fundraiser that benefits the shelter’s homeless animals and community programs will take place at a new and scenic location – Richmond Pond at Camp Russell in Richmond, MA.

“Woofstock 2013” is a great opportunity to not only raise money for BHS but also have a fun and very affordable outing with your dogs, friends, and family members. Starting with a Pancake Breakfast, from 8am-11am, the event offers a full day of vendors, demonstrations, games, raffles, a bouncy house and other activities for kids and dogs, and, of course, a lovely walk around Richmond Pond, which begins at 11am. Great prizes will also be awarded to individual walkers and teams of walkers who collect the most pledges.

So far, the list of organizations and businesses that will be attending “Woodstock 2013” includes Allen Heights Veterinary Hospital, Benson’s Pet Center, Berkshire County Pet Sitters Network, Kamp Ketchum, Heartland Golden Retriever Rescue and Therapy Dogs, Love Us And Leave Us, Marki’s French Fries & Fried Dough, Starbucks, True Balance Animal Wellness, and Western MA D.A.R.T. Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog Testing will also be available for a fee.

Because BHS is caring for a record number of animals this summer, your participation in “Woofstock 2013” is especially important. To help, pick up a pledge form from your local veterinary office, a pet supply store, Berkshire Humane Society, or Purradise. (Or visit berkshirehumane.org to download one.) Then ask friends, neighbors, and family members to sponsor you. Because “Woofstock 2013” is a pleasant stroll around Richmond Pond and not a multi-mile walk, BHS suggest that pledges be based on the entire course. “Woofstock 2013” is a great opportunity to not only raise money for BHS but also have a fun and very affordable outing with your dogs, friends, and family members. Starting with a Pancake Breakfast, from 8am-11am, the event offers a full day of vendors, demonstrations, games, raffles, a bouncy house and other activities for kids and dogs, and, of course, a lovely walk around Richmond Pond, which begins at 11am. Great prizes will also be awarded to individual walkers and teams of walkers who collect the most pledges.
Any amount would be appreciated, and you can participate with or without a dog.

Feline lovers….don’t be left out! You can also raise money in honor or memory of your beloved cat or cats, all of which will be used to help the orphaned felines in our care at BHS and Purradise.

BHS is a privately funded shelter that receives no public money from any local, state or federal sources. Fundraisers, such as “Woofstock 2103,” are essential for its survival. Please consider helping BHS continue its work by supporting this important event. For more information about “Wolfstock 2013,” call 447-7878, ext. 31, or visit our website – berkshirehumane.org

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By Diane Briggs

In case you don’t remember the story in our spring newsletter about Elinor, the obese cat surrendered to the shelter, I will give you a brief overview. Elinor, a 9-year-old tiger cat, was surrendered to Berkshire Humane Society (BHS) on a very cold day in February due to behavior issues.

When I came into work that Monday, as usual, I asked how the weekend went. Dottie took me into a room to show me Elinor. As I approached her cage, my heart sunk. I saw this extremely large cat (22 pounds to be exact) lying in her litter box with skin just draping over the edges of the box. I looked into this cat’s eyes, and all I saw was emptiness, loneliness and sadness…a beautiful cat that seemed totally forlorn, lost, and unwanted.

Eleanor_website_beautyshot

Reading Elinor’s intake I couldn’t help but cry. Elinor had lived with a family her entire life. They loved her, and she used to be a lap cat. But apparently things changed. Elinor co-existed with the other cats in the house until the numbers grew, and she eventually got pushed out. So as these changes occurred, she became an outcast.

For the past two years, this wonderful cat received little if any human contact. Perhaps to compensate for the lack of attention, her family fed her 3 cups of a food a day. Elinor gained so much weight that she had a difficult time walking. Because she couldn’t clean herself, she became very smelly, and her family felt she was a health risk to their grandchildren. At this point Elinor was forced to live outside during the summer and in the basement during the winter.

Meeting Elinor and learning what this poor cat was forced to endure the last 2 years made me extremely sad but also set me on a mission to help this “broke pet” unpack the baggage she had carried the past 2 years. John, who is always open to “thinking outside the box,” let me move Elinor into our office area. Initially Elinor stayed in the closet, but that was okay considering she lived alone in a basement for 2 years. I also understood that she needed time to adjust and learn to trust again.

She was given a warm and soothing bath which made her smell so wonderful. It must have made her feel better too because I actually saw some life in her eyes. After a week or so, Elinor started to venture out. We were all shocked to see how large she really was. She had so much extra skin that it fell over her should like a shawl and stopped just above her front feet. Her stomach area was so large that it almost hit the floor and made it almost impossible for her to go to the bathroom without soiling herself. However, we were there to help her, and we used a washcloth to keep her clean.

Elinor’s eyes were still very sad, and it bothered me. People who know me well understand how deeply moved I get when an animal is so dejected. Elinor needed us to help her believe in herself and to learn to love and trust people again. Daily sweet talks and gentle petting helped her a lot. We made her as comfortable as possible. As days turned into weeks, Elinor began her transformation from being sad, lonely, and rejected to actually becoming part of our wonderful BHS family….a family that would not turn our backs on her. Elinor began to blossom, and I eventually saw the sparkle in her eyes!!!

Because she was so large, we questioned if perhaps she had a medical issue such as diabetes. After a total physical exam, urinalysis, and extensive blood work, they found she had no health issues. This was wonderful news, but now we had to figure out how to help her lose weight. Elinor had the frame for a 10 pound cat, not the 22 pounds she was carrying around.

Dr. Michelle Gorbutt and Dr. Heather Blake from Greylock Animal Hospital graciously come to the shelter on a monthly basis to examine any pets we need looked at. When they met Elinor, they believed that Elinor actually weighed around 30+ pounds at some point, which resulted in all this excess skin hanging on her. To help her lose weight, we limited her food intake. I would take her down the hallway so she would walk back to the office, and we used string toys to motivate her.

Elinor finally got to the point where we could see she lost weight, and her back legs became clearly defined. She was able to move around a little better, and her sad eyes were gone. However, as she lost the weight, the excess skin started to droop even further. Her fur on her back stood up straight due to the skin pulling down on her. Her stomach pouch would hit her back knees as she walked. Occasionally this same area would get in the way as she urinated.

So as all her friends at the shelter watched Elinor turn the corner from sad and lonely and unable to move, we watched her struggle to walk and/or move comfortably. We knew there was really nothing more we could do to help her. We couldn’t cut back her food anymore and we couldn’t force her to exercise and/or walk more because she was clearly uncomfortable.

Because Drs. Gorbutt and Blake had followed Elinor for months, they got to know this wonderful cat very well. We felt the last option to help Elinor was to see if they could safely do some type of surgery to remove her excess skin. We would have never thought about this surgery for cosmetic reasons but we had to think about it for Elinor. The two vets talked among themselves and decided that they would be willing to help her. They agreed with us that Elinor had plateaued on her weight loss and that she was uncomfortable.

So for quality of life and hygiene purposes, surgery was done on Elinor, or Ellie Mae as I affectionately call her, on Monday, August 12, at Greylock Animal Hospital. It was a tough day for Ellie Mae and a very difficult day for all her friends at the shelter. We knew she was in excellent hands, but we all worried. There are always risks with surgery for animals as well as people. Would this surgery be successful? Finally, we got word – Elinor made it through surgery, and she was recovering from the anesthesia. Drs. Gorbutt and Blake successfully removed 2.5 pounds of excess skin.

Since Elinor is such a huge part of my day and my heart, I visited Elinor at Greylock Animal Hospital each day after work. The first day I saw her I started to cry…not because she looked terrible but because she looked like a normal cat. It was the first time I had seen her laying on her side. Prior to surgery, she was so large she couldn’t get comfortable on her side. I watched her in sheer amazement at how good she looked despite the shaved body, the drains in her side, and all the stitches. I talked with Dr. Gorbutt and thanked her over and over again for the remarkable job she and Dr. Blake did with Ellie Mae’s surgery. Everyone at Greylock Animal Hospital fell in love with her because she was so friendly despite all she had been through. That visit I spent 45 minutes petting and watching Elinor, who was heavily sedated. As long as I was stroking her, she never stopped purring. I looked into her face and kissed her when I left that evening.

During other visits, I continued to see improvement. On Tuesday evening, Dr. Gorbut beamed as she said that in the morning Elinor got up and actually did a full body stretch, which was such a positive sign. When Dr. Gorbutt coaxed Elinor to get up and move on the floor, I was so amazed to see a cat with no extra skin or a poach hanging from her stomach.

On Monday, I picked Elinor up to bring her back to her “home,” my office. In thinking about all Elinor has been through, I really believe she has let go of most of her baggage, physically and mentally. I’ve thought about her the past 6 months living in my office and watched her blossom. I kept thinking about all of the cats I’ve helped in my office, thanks to John allowing me to do so. Elinor is the only cat who won’t venture out of the office when we leave the door open. The only times she goes in the hallways is first thing in the morning when I come in and just a few people are here, and then again at night, during her supper time. I wondered if this was because she was so uncomfortable walking or perhaps it relates to her experiencing love and then becoming an outcast in her previous home. I really think that Elinor doesn’t leave the office because she feels so loved and is afraid if she wanders too far she will once again be cast aside.

As I write this article, Elinor is now safely recovering in my office. She sleeps a lot but overall is very content to be “back home.” She has over 100 stitches in her body that will need to be removed around August 27. She currently weighs a little over 17 pounds.

As you can probably tell by this article, I love Ellie Mae so much. I am proud of her all accomplishments, which came about because of the love, commitment, and true compassion of everyone at BHS. And I am so very proud of her new physical body because of Dr. Gorbutt, Dr. Blake and all the other staff who tenderly cared for Ellie during her surgery and recovery period at Greylock Animal Hospital. This was not a cosmetic surgery; this was a surgery that was necessary to help Elinor live a normal life.

Eleanor_website_waistlineBEFORE Eleanor_website_waistlineAFTER

It will take time for Elinor to completely heal from this intensive surgery, but everyone at BHS is watching her carefully. When she’s awake, she does walk around the office, stretch on the scratching post and do casual stretches, all of which she could never do before. We talk to each other during the day when she wakes up and looks at me. She has a lot to say, and I think if she could talk she would thank BHS for believing in her when she didn’t believe in herself. She would thank everyone for cleaning her up and helping her to come as far as she has. She would also thank the vets, for although the surgery was difficult, once she heals she will feel great!

When I think about the perfect home for Ellie Mae, it would be a home where she could live the rest of her life without any fear of being tossed aside again, a home where Elinor will never see a basement, a home where there are windows she could safely look out, a home where she will not be put outside, a home where she will be someone’s world, a home where she will be loved and brushed, and a home that would continue to care for her the way that everyone at BHS has cared for her.

Although all of the pets surrendered have their own sad stories, Elinor once knew and enjoyed love before experiencing the pains of being cast aside with only little human interaction for the past 2 years. Perhaps Elinor’s family thought that by giving her all the food she could eat would make up for her living in the basement. All I know is that Elinor does not want to be alone. Elinor wants and needs the companionship of people who will truly love her like we all do at the shelter. Elinor also NEEDS a family who will understand that she has to remain on a strict diet or she could quickly gain back all the weight she had before. We don’t want that to ever happen to this beautiful cat again. Plus what I’ve found with Elinor is that she can and will pass up food for attention. So if someone feels bad about her limited diet, just give her lots of love and attention, and she’ll be just as happy as if she had food and/or treats.

I guess I’ve talked long enough about Elinor. All I can say now is that it will be extremely difficult for me to let her go. But because I love her so much, I have to love her enough to let her go and start her new life. It will be bittersweet for me as I’m so attached to Elinor and love looking to my left and seeing her peacefully sleeping in her bed with no worries or fear, completely relaxed and loved. As I’ve said many times, her new family will have to walk on water (hehehe…only kidding!) Her new family is out there, and they will find her. I really think Elinor deserves to be the only kitty in the house because she has been through so much.

So that’s Elinor’s story….she’s just an amazing cat that has been through so much and deserves nothing but the best!

*Elinor is also known as Eleanor, Ellie Mae, and Ellie!

 

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