‘It’s raining cats and dogs’

Laurie Garrison, head of the Central Vermont Humane Society, feeds a 5-day-old puppy at the shelter in East Montpelier on Friday. A litter of nine puppies was abandoned earlier in the week and the Humane Society is trying to keep them all alive. They won’t be available for adoption for many weeks. JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR / STAFF PHOTO

EAST MONTPELIER — For staff at the Central Vermont Humane Society, the old adage, “April showers bring May flowers,” has some competition from another axiom this spring: “It’s raining cats and dogs.” Quite literally, the humane society experiences a deluge of new arrivals of kittens and puppies as Mother Nature kicks into high gear every year at this time. So much so for our feline friends that the organization even holds an annual “kitty shower” to accept donations of much-needed items to get them through a sudden increase in their stock-in-trade that can last until fall. The urgency and demand for services became apparent this week with the arrival of a litter of nine puppies that were abandoned beside a bike path and found by a humane shelter volunteer elsewhere in the state. Unable to care for the puppies themselves, the shelter staff appealed for help from the Central Vermont Humane Society in East Montpelier. “That shelter didn’t have the resources to deal with them and they called us — and they’ve called us before — and we said ‘bring them to us,’” said CVHS executive director Laurie Garrison. “It turned out they were just days old. … They still have their umbilical cords, their eyes closed; they’re very tiny puppies. Fortunately, they were in pretty good shape, clean and healthy looking.” Garrison appealed to people with pets, especially those with fragile offspring, they if they’re unable to care for the animals to call a shelter instead of abandoning them. “One message we hope to get across to people is that the person who abandoned these puppies clearly wanted them to survive; they were well cared for and they wanted someone to find them,” Garrison said. “But it would have been much better to call a local shelter. Don’t abandon them, because they might have died, and also, abandoning animals is illegal. We’re here for them, so please call.” Garrisonsaidit’san intensive, round-the-clock labor of love to keep the abandoned puppies alive, weaning them by hand because they have no mother. “ Right now because they’re so small, we’re using our staff and select volunteers who know how to handle these tiny puppies,” Garrison said. “It’s a very intensive, and expensive, enterprise. They need to be fed every four hours, and there’s nine of them, so it generally takes an hour and a half or more to feed them, 24/7. “ We have some very skilled volunteers that can help us, but a lot of it is staff overtime. It’s an unexpected expense, not something we budgeted for, and will be going on for at least four weeks,” Garrison added. Garrison urged anyone who is motivated to adopt one of the abandoned puppies to be patient — it will be eight to 10 weeks before they have been spayed or neutered and received the necessary vaccinations. Garrison said the volume of puppies at the shelter varies each year, with many of them coming from southern states where spaying and neutering is less common than in Vermont. The shelter’s bigger caseload is kittens. In 2016, the shelter took in 314 kittens. “Kitten season is in full swing right now. We have multiple mom cats that have given birth to kittens,” said Garrison. “That’s why we’re having what we call a kitty shower — like a baby shower — because there are so many kittens coming and will continue to come until the fall. “ We need kitten milk replacer if we don’t have a mom cat to feed; we need kitten food, cat litter — we go through a tremendous amount of cat litter — and cat food because the momma cat has to eat a lot to care for all the kittens. We also need disposable aluminum baking pans that you can use and throw out, and paper towels and Lysol because they’re so messy,” Garrison added. Adoption fees are $125 for a kitten between eight weeks and six months old, and $100 an adult kitten; for dogs, it’s $400 for a puppy (which includes a training class), and from $ 150 to $ 350 for adult dogs. “Our adoption fees don’t usually cover our costs,” said Garrison. “But you know where the animal is coming from and we’re always there for you. And it generally costs us more to take care of the animal, and you can’t get a puppy and have it spayed or neutered — especially a female — for less than $400, and with all its shots.” The shelter is also currently seeking people to sign up early for its annual Walk for Animals in Montpelier June 3. For more information about the kitty shower and the walk, call 802-476-3811 or visit www.centralvermonthumane.org. stephen.mills @timesargus.com

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