Rabies Is Out There

by William Wise, Director of Walton County Animal Control

 Photo: William Wise

Photo: William Wise

I don’t mean to over-dramatize or spark panic, but two recent encounters have pushed forward the fact that although rare, rabies is still a threat to your pet. However, there is no need to call out the National Guard. Rabies is a fear that is easily abated by a simple, affordable vaccine.

In the month of February, two dogs in Walton County were quarantined in rabies observation after being exposed to rabid raccoons in two separate incidents. In the first encounter, a raccoon wandered aimlessly into a yard where it got into a tussle with the homeowner’s dog, Sam. The dog owner told animal control that the raccoon was stumbling around and then flopping on the ground while growling. Not surprisingly, the raccoon tested positive.

The second incident occurred just a few days later. Nut and his owner were in Rutledge, GA not far from Hard Labor Creek State Park when the Coonhound came face to face with a raccoon and was bitten on the nose. Once again, the raccoon tested positive.

The good side of this story is that both dog owners were responsible pet parents and had their dogs’ rabies vaccinations up to date. Therefore, both were allowed to do an in-home rabies observation for 45 days. Had they not been current on rabies vaccinations, the outcome might have been much worse.

According to the Georgia rabies guidelines followed by all animal control agencies, unvaccinated dogs and cats that come into contact with a rabid animal “should be euthanized immediately.” Imagine putting down your beloved pet because of an overlooked annual visit to your veterinarian for a rabies vaccine!

Well, most of us couldn’t stand for that. So what is the alternative? Six months of “strict isolation.” And this is no easy task. The exposed dog or cat must be kept in a secure, double-walled enclosure with a feeding door and a method of sectioning off the pet for cage cleaning. Even if you could find a veterinary clinic or boarding kennel willing to quarantine your pet, the cost would be astronomical.

The cost of prevention, however, is quite small. Rabies vaccinations are available through all veterinarians at a reasonable price. There are even regular, low-cost vaccine clinics hosted on Saturdays at various locations in nearly every city. Costing less than dinner for two, there is no reason to not have your beloved pet vaccinated regularly.

So when it comes to your pet and rabies, there is no need for alarm. But there is a need to be a diligent, responsible pet parent by ensuring your dog or cat is kept current on the necessary vaccines. Mark your calendar, set a reminder on your phone, whatever it takes—don’t let it slip your mind, or it can be costly.

Ruth Allen

by Maggie See

 Artwork: Ruth Allen

Artwork: Ruth Allen

A transplant from Kentucky, spending the last 18 years here in Athens, GA has sent Ruth Allen on a path filled with art, yoga and the companionship of a pretty awesome little white hound named Cotton. She says, “He has a BIG personality and is a great source of inspiration. I love drawing the black kite he has over one eye and the ‘snowman face (of anxiety!)’ in the spots on one of his ears. He is such a character, and a big talker, too.” 

You’ve probably seen her art gracing the walls of The Grit, Earthfare, KA Artist Shop, the Lyndon House’s 40th Juried Show, the Flagpole cover and Hip Vintage. And shortly, you can find her work in the form of a 4 ft. by 8 ft. mural in the College Avenue Parking Deck, as one of the nine pieces installed for the “Art Decko” project organized by the Athens Area Arts Council. Creating the mural for Art Decko has inspired her to go even larger, and she’s got some pretty good location ideas up her sleeve (but we won’t spoil those just yet!).

 Artwork: Ruth Allen

Artwork: Ruth Allen

Her style as an artist is easily recognized by anyone lucky enough to have seen her work. She uses lines and colors in truly insightful ways, prompting the viewer into their own backstory for the image. She creates in a humble but intelligent way, weaving the digital with the analog, pulling material from what she knows best. “Nearly everything I draw or paint comes from my experience of the world around me and my reactions to and interactions with it. People, conflicts, animals, flowers, love, birds, trees, trips, everything.” 

As far as plans for the future, that’s a hard call to make when you’re living so wholly in the present. Ruth says, “I try not to push things, so much as be receptive to opportunities when I notice them. Because they are always there, it’s just maybe not always visible.” But it’s safe to say this yoga teacher is always working on ideas. She did spill the beans a little on some potential wearable Ruth Allen gear in the future and some home goods, along with a fully-printed, published children’s book (beyond her own hand-sewn version, which, honestly, sounds pretty cool). 

To keep up with Ruth Allen and her artistic adventures, you can find her work in real life hanging in Mama’s Boy at the Falls in May and at Flicker in June. You can also follow along on Instagram and Etsy at @10tinbluebirds and on Facebook at facebook.com/RuthAllendrawsandpaints.

Voucher Program: Fixing Community Cats in Athens-Clarke County

 Photo: Jody Claborn

Photo: Jody Claborn

by Jessie Dyer of AthensPets and Kelly Bettinger of Campus Cats

Do you feed or care for outdoor community cats? We have good news! 

Thanks to a program of the Athens-Clark County Animal Control and Campus Cats, you can sign up to receive free veterinary services for community cats. For the purpose of this program, community cats are defined as the stray (often friendly) and feral (fearful of people) domestic cats that live outdoors in our neighborhoods, often coming together in groups called colonies. 

This program ensures that each cat receives a rabies vaccination, ear tip for identification and spay/neuter (sterilization) surgery. Sterilization is a relatively low-risk surgery and is an important part of being a responsible caregiver—fixed cats are healthier; have reduced nuisance behaviors such as fighting or spraying; and of course, they can no longer breed, which keeps their numbers in check.

Community cats will be humanely trapped and transported to participating veterinary clinics in Athens-Clarke County or to low-cost spay/neuter clinics in the area where they will be evaluated and receive the program services. After the cats have recovered from surgery, they are returned to their familiar habitat: your backyard! Traps are available to borrow through Campus Cats. Campus Cats will instruct you on how to trap and transport cats so that you can successfully trap, neuter and return (TNR) the cats in your care.

With kitten season already upon us this spring, it’s an excellent time of year to participate in this program to prevent more unwanted kittens from being born. It’s also a significant contribution to alleviating space constraints at local shelters.

Athens-Clarke County Animal Control will fund specific veterinary services if your colony is registered and meets specific requirements. The cats must live in Athens-Clarke County, and you must own the property or obtain permission in writing from the property owner (or owner’s agent) to register the colony. All voucher applications must include a letter of support from an animal rescue group.Please contact Campus Cats for further information at feralcatcaregivers@yahoo.com or www.catzip.org. 

Remember—feeding and fixing, they go together!

To register your community cat colony visit  athensclarkecounty.com/DocumentCenter/View/163.

Shelter Medicine Symposium

by Amanda Newsom

This February, I attended the University of Georgia Veterinary Medicine’s Shelter Medicine Symposium, which is organized by UGA CVM Shelter Medicine Club students. This conference is meant to “provide educational resources to those outside of a university setting to further veterinary education as it relates to animal health in shelters.” 

I came with my shelter background in mind to see what kind of information I could bring away that would be useful to Classic City Paw Print readers as well as shelter/rescue volunteers and workers, and these are some of my big takeaways:

 

REDUCING HOLD TIMES

Dr. Staci Cannon, Medical Director of Nashville Metro Area Animal Care and Control, packed a lot of good info into an hour, starting with this stat: less than 20 percent of strays in the United States are returned to their owners, as a national average. [Do I really need to make another PSA about microchipping your pets and making sure they always wear a collar with an ID tag?]

She discussed a five-question protocol for medical advisors to ask themselves of each animal in a shelter on their rounds to help uncover any potential issues. While they seem simple and obvious, it’s a nice habit for even volunteers to get in the habit of when visiting the shelter:

  1. Who are you?
  2. How are you doing?
  3. Are you where you should be?
  4. Do you need something today?
  5. Do you need something scheduled?

She also discussed some strategies for lower the hold times of animals in shelters, with some terms I hadn’t heard before. First, the adoption hold: placing pets on stray holds in areas where potential adopters can still see the animal and let staff know that they are interested in adopting them if their owner doesn’t come forward. Second, managed admission: scheduling intake from owner surrenders or found pets so the shelter isn’t as overwhelmed and can plan better for that animal. Last, intake aversion: applying for grants that provide vouchers to give rescues incentives to accept adoptable pets into their programs, which avoids intaking the animal at animal control to help manage their population.

Last, she explained the five freedoms of animals in shelters and rescues:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
  2. Freedom from discomfort
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  4. Freedom to express normal behavior
  5. Freedom from fear and distress

 

The Healthy Hug

Like people, more than half of pets in the United States are overweight, and our view of a healthy pet weight has become skewed. Dr. Ainsley Bone, Veterinary Communications Manager at Nestle Purina North America, talked about optimizing nutrition in shelters while answering: how much they should weigh, how much to feed, how often to feed and when to feed. Again, her tips are excellent for practical use from any pet owner in addition to shelter staff and volunteers. 

How much should your pet weigh? 

There are body condition score charts that you can review online that show what the pet should look like from side and top views, which should include:

  • An hourglass figure from the top
  • A tuck under their waist
  • Be able to easily feel ribs when touched

There is also a muscle condition score, to determine not only if the pet is a healthy weight but if they have adequate muscle mass. WASAVA has online charts for dogs and cats to refer to for this score, and Dr. Bone also had an interesting hand trick to use to check the muscle along the side of the spine. Here’s my layman interpretation of that trick: in between your thumb and index finger is too squishy, the pads along the inside of your hand nearest your fingers is ideal, and the top of your hand means there isn’t adequate muscle mass.

What to feed? 

Look for the “complete and balanced” statement on the pet food bag, and get a type of food that’s appropriate for the pet’s life stage. Larger breed dogs may even follow puppy guidelines until they reach a year and a half while small breed dogs may only require puppy guidelines until 6 months, but the general rule is to feed puppy or kitten food until the animal reaches their first birthday.

How much to feed? 

I know, this seems obvious: feed the recommended guidelines on your pet food bag or can, or follow instructions from your veterinarian. But many people miss one important part of this, which is to follow the recommended amount of food for your pet’s ideal weight, not necessarily their current weight (they may be carrying around a few extra LBs.) Lactating animals need more food than normal, and pets that have been spayed/neutered may need less. Fun fact: cats require 40 essential nutrients while dogs only require 36.

How often to feed? 

Feeds dogs once or twice a day, cats twice a day, and puppies and kittens at least three times a day until they’re six months old. Cat food aversion may be useful to not only better monitor how much your cat is eating, but to be sure they are eating adequately if there are other cats or pets in the home. Food aversion simply means teaching the cat to eat when you present their food, which is learned when you remove the food bowl after they have eaten.

 

NEW GUIDELINES FOR ANTIBIOTIC TREATMENT

Again, like people, antibiotics have become overused in the veterinary world, so International Society for Companion Animal Infectious Diseases (ISCAID) is supposedly preparing to revise their recommendations in the next two to three years for antibiotic usage in pets to reduce the duration of treatment as well as recommending stopping treatment when symptoms resolve. There’s also a general trend in veterinary medicine to reduce prescribing antibiotics so often and trying other treatments that may be just as good if not better for the animal’s health.

 

RESOURCES TO CHECK OUT

What's Luck Got to Do with It?

by Sherrie Hines, AthensPets

 Wilma is hoping for some luck of her own at the Athens-Clarke County Animal Control. Photo: Susan Hawkins

Wilma is hoping for some luck of her own at the Athens-Clarke County Animal Control. Photo: Susan Hawkins

Volunteers and staff at shelters everywhere are often asked why a certain animal has been at the shelter so long. "Is there something wrong with them?" we'll often hear potential adopters ask. Many people assume that if a dog or cat has been at the shelter for a number of months, it means that the animal isn't desirable for some reason, but the reality is that luck often has more to do with it than much of anything else. Many times otherwise-wonderful animals get stuck at the shelter for a long time because they had the bad luck to come down with an illness. Dogs who are positive for heartworms may stay with us for two to three months while they receive heartworm treatment. Since they aren't allowed to exercise much while they're undergoing treatment, it can make it hard for them to interact with potential adopters. Cats, and even young kittens, can come to the shelter with ringworm, which is easily-treatable except that it takes a long time. A friendly six-week-old kitten who ends up with an upper respiratory infection or ringworm may spend one to three months just trying to recover, through no fault of their own. 

But outside of illness, luck still plays a huge role in the outcomes for our animals, even in something as simple as where they are housed during their stay at the shelter. A dog in a kennel on the front side of the shelter will likely have more exposure than a dog placed in a back kennel. We've noticed that cats in the bottom kennels seem to be overlooked more often than those at eye-level. It's one of the reasons that we move cats around sometimes, to give the public a better chance to view them. This is especially a problem for our black cats; they all but disappear in the darker bottom kennels, so we always try to place them higher if possible. 

The most important element of luck, though, comes down to who happens to come in the door on any given day. When we have that one special person come in looking for a bonded pair of cats, that's when our long-term kitties like Meatball and Oprah finally find their perfect home. When we have a family looking for a devoted pup to join their family as an only pet, that's when our more selective dogs find a home. Sometimes our pets get adopted because they were lucky enough to go to an outreach event, and that one special someone was there to meet them, too. Even more of our pets find their homes because one of our Facebook followers happened to share their profile, and one of their friends has a friend who was looking for a new furry family member. Networking makes such a difference for our pets.

At the end of the day, we know that all of our shelter animals have the potential to thrive in the right home. They just need a little luck to help their perfect family find them. Still think that there's something wrong with an animal who's been at the shelter for a long time? Well, we also hear stories time and again from our rescue partners where they've rescued some of our long-term pets, taken them straight to an adoption event and had them adopted into good homes within a day or two of leaving the shelter. It's one of the many reminders that no matter how long our animals have been at the shelter, it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with them. 

So take a moment to help our shelter animals improve their odds. Share their information with your friends, stop by and see all of the animals (not just the cutest ones at the front), and take time with the ones that may not catch your eye immediately. With a little luck and a lot of love, we know that our shelter animals have a bright future ahead of them, and we know that while they may not be able to make their own luck, you absolutely can. 

Peter Loose

 Artwork: Peter Loose

Artwork: Peter Loose

by Maggie See

Have you ever heard of Bongo, the piano-playing dog? If you’ve heard of Peter Loose, chances are high that you’ve not only heard of Bongo, but you’re also a fan of his books: Bongo is a Happy Dog (1997) and Bongo Has Many Friends (2001). Written by his wife, Sandy, about Bongo—a little black-and-white dog that Peter had when he met her—Peter rounded these books out with the kind of fun and colorful illustrations that stick in your brain as a kid. The Bongo books have spread far and wide and are now enjoyed all over the world. You can find them locally at Junk in the Trunk, Avid Bookshop and the Athens Regional Library. Loose has been an Athens-area art staple for many years, but he didn’t start off here.

Peter grew up in Maryland in the 60s and 70s. Always fascinated by nature as a kid, he originally wanted to be a zoo keeper or the next Ranger Rick. While he and his wife now have a rooster, two hens, three goldfish, a boa and three tortoises, he technically never became a zoo keeper. Peter worked as a naturalist for the Audubon Society until he moved to Georgia in 1987 to work as a naturalist at Sandy Creek Nature Center. 

 Artwork: Peter Loose

Artwork: Peter Loose

The self-taught path to his unique, folky, “twenty hundred dots” style wasn’t always an easy one. Loose started with watercolors in an attempt to illustrate a field guide but quickly grew frustrated. It was messy. Peter worked that mess into splotches of color that he liked a little more, then he branched out into acrylics where he really found his footing. One of his first pieces was an eagle-shaped birdhouse for Habitat for Humanity fundraiser. He says that led to hundreds of requests for the birdhouses, and it was “like an art bomb went off.” 

That art bomb and resulting flood of birdhouse requests lead to Loose receiving a Georgia Council of the Arts grant. With that, he developed his iconic animal-shaped dulcimers. He’s made them in the shape of roosters, alligators, snakes, fish and groundhogs, and the list continues to grow. Now he has pieces of art all over the place. You can even find some of it in the background of the movie Nights in Rodanthe, or adorning the side of an entire school bus at the School Bus Graveyard in Alto, GA with a piece called Snakes on a Bus.

Peter participates in local events of all shapes and sizes, like the North Georgia Folk Festival and Roll Out the Barrels, and in 2015 he teamed up with Kip Ramey and the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF) to put on The Great Folk Art Parade: From Finster Forward, a celebration of folk art and the artists who make it. After the success of the parade, he wanted to spend the next few years creating and curating exhibits for galleries and museums while he and Sandy spend more time on their antiques business. To keep up with Peter and his colorful world, give him a follow on Instagram (@BONGOPETERLOOSE) and Facebook (Loose Dulcimers).

Jorah's Story

by Michaela Gardner

 Jorah and his beloved " football." Photo: Michaela Gardner

Jorah and his beloved " football." Photo: Michaela Gardner

I am excited to introduce a new Classic City Paw Print series, A Day in the Life, to follow various members of the pet rescue community, as well as some of the animals that come through the system. 

The first installment of this series follows Jorah, a long-term resident of Athens-Clarke County Animal Control. Shortly after spending an afternoon getting to know Jorah and his daily routine, he was adopted! Read on to learn about a day in the life of a shelter dog.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I had another nightmare. I was back in the bad place. The rope was around my neck, and I couldn’t get away or find shelter anywhere. My skin was blistering and cracked, and my stomach was empty. I hate it when I have those nightmares about the bad place. Sometimes they’re about all that time I spent in the back of the “shelter” as they call it, in something called “quarantine.” I spent a really long time back there when I first got here and it was really scary, but the people that work here were so nice to me and made my skin feel better and made sure my stomach was never empty.

When I wake up, the sun is starting to shine, and the guys that feed us in the morning were starting to arrive. I like it when they show up, because it means that soon enough, the nice people that saved me from the bad place will be here! It also means that my best friend, volunteer Bill, will probably be coming to see me. He’s really nice, and he always brings my favorite toy in the whole world with him. They call it a “football.” It’s funny, because it has another ball inside of it. I always wonder how they got that other ball inside… OH LOOK! People are starting to arrive! 

I wonder if today is the day that I’ll finally get to leave this place and live with a “family.” I mean, it’s not bad here at all. I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to get food, and I don’t have to sleep in the rain anymore. Compared to the bad place, it’s really great here, but I’ve seen other dogs that leave with people who just can’t stop loving and petting and playing with them. I’d like to leave with people who do that to me. All my other playmates have gotten to leave with nice people like that. Whenever those people walk by my kennel, I always try to shout the loudest so that they’ll notice me. I try so hard to tell them what a good boy I am, but they always seem to ignore--Bill is here! Bill is here! 

Oh boy, do I like Bill. He always has treats and that football. He’s so patient with me, and he’s been teaching me “manners” so that people will be more likely to take me home with them. Apparently, they really like it when dogs can sit down on command. I mean, that’s easy enough. If it pleases them and I get a treat or a romp with my football afterwards, I’ll happily comply! Sometimes when I first get out of my kennel, it’s hard to focus because all I want to do is play with my football and run around. They can’t expect me to not take advantage of that before we get into the whole “manners” thing, right?! Bill seems to understand that, but sometimes when the younger people come to play with me, they confuse me. They think it’s funny when I chew on my leash or jump around so I keep doing it to please them, but other people don’t seem to like it as much. Oh, well. I’ll get the hang of it eventually. 

It’s really nice out today, and there’s another dog in the play yard next to mine! I love it when I get to run along the fence with another dog and make them chase me. I never really got to play with other dogs before I arrived here. I didn’t get much attention at all at the bad place, and getting to spend time with these dogs at the fence is so much fun! I’m still learning how to play with them, though. The nice people here say that I’m “under-socialized,” but they’re teaching me how to interact properly with both humans and other dogs.

Now that I’ve gotten to run around a little bit, I just want to sit near Bill in the sunshine with my football. He makes me sit down on command a few times and practice laying down and even rolling over! That seems to be what people get the biggest kick out of so far. Unfortunately, Bill has to take me back to my kennel so that some other dogs can run around, too. It’s always so sad to see Bill go. He leads me back to my pen, gives me a treat and a pat on the head, and tells me I’m a good boy. I lay down near the gate so that I can see when other people walk by and be ready to tell them to take me home. 

A few people pass, but they’re just the kids that come here every day to play with us, so I keep waiting. I start to doze off, but this time I’m only dreaming of sunshine and my football. And treats. I really like treats. And my football. Some people walk by, and I stir a bit. These are definitely outsiders that might take me home! I spring up and insist that they take me out to play and that I’ll be the best boy ever! They look over at me and hurry past. I guess they’re more interested in other dogs... dogs that didn’t come from such a bad place like I did… dogs that don’t have bumpy scars on their faces from being so sick. 

I get sad when I think about that stuff, but I refuse to let it keep me down. I work really hard to show everyone how happy and grateful I am to be here at the shelter instead of tied up to a big hunk of metal. Honestly, this shelter life is the best I’ve had! 

Things seem to be winding down around here. All the young people are starting to leave, which means no more chances to run around or be petted. At least Bill came to see me with my football today. Since it’s so nice out, the kennels get to stay open, so I can enjoy the fresh air while I sleep on my bed inside of the building. Overall it was a pretty good day. The worst ones are the days that it’s raining or really cold, so no one comes to the shelter to play with us. 

I know that no one else will be coming by to play at this point, so I decide to go inside and try to get some rest. There’s a lot on my mind right now though.

 I’ve lost track of the time, but the nice shelter workers say I’ve been here since September. Apparently that’s the longest time out of any other animals here. Like I said, it’s been really nice here compared to the bad place, but I feel like there still might be something even better out there waiting for me. I’ve heard them talk about “big yards” and “farms” and these things called “couches.” From what I’ve gathered, they sound really nice. I’d like to try one out some day! It basically sounds like a giant dog bed to me. 

The uniformed workers are starting to shut all the kennels down and close down the shelter for the night. I guess that means I should try to get some sleep. Hopefully I’ll keep having good dreams about Bill and my football and the sunshine. I don’t want to have nightmares about the bad place. I just want to find a real home.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Jorah was finally adopted Monday, February 12, to a family with children after spending approximately five months at Athens-Clarke County Animal Control. Remember, adopting changes lives, just like Jorah’s!

WCAC Working to Keep Dogs Warm

by Amanda Newsom

 Starla is one of the pups looking for a forever home at WCAC, and her fav thing is a warm blanket on a cold day! Photo: William Wise

Starla is one of the pups looking for a forever home at WCAC, and her fav thing is a warm blanket on a cold day! Photo: William Wise

It’s been a cold winter thus far, which means animal control facilities have been inundated with calls from concerned citizens about outdoor dogs having adequate shelter for the chilling temperatures and icy wind. William Wise, Walton County Animal Control’s (WCAC) director, submitted a memo recently to the Walton County Board of Commissioners to address their work in response to these cold weather complaints.

Working with limited resources and within legal restraints, winter weather-related calls started coming in during early December, where they received 15 calls on just one of those first days. Leading up to the first winter advisory of the season, WCAC preemptively began issuing warnings and distributing informational pamphlets about the proper tethering ordinance, and they have maintained an on-going updated list of addresses to recheck those animals during other declared winter weather advisories. 

To demonstrate the work they’ve done for animals during these cold weather spurts, when a winter advisory was issued on January 16, one officer stayed late to answer calls until 11pm while another officer came back in to work overtime to address those calls. That day alone, they visited over 20 residences, issued 15 citations and two warnings, and rechecked dogs that had been reported during previous advisories. 

Keep in mind that when Walton County animal control officers respond to complaints about dogs outdoors during cold weather, they must follow laws and procedures regarding humane treatment as outlined below:

The Ordinance: Walton County revised the ordinance to include a “proper tethering” section in 2013. The current Walton County Ordinance makes it illegal to tether a dog during any declared weather warnings, advisories or emergencies (see Sec. 10-19e). We utilize the National Weather Service’s website to track these warnings (www.weather.gov). Because of the way the ordinance is worded, it is only during these advisories that we can issue a citation that will stand up to prosecution in court.

Complaints Received in advance of Official Advisories: We often receive complaints in the couple days leading up to a winter weather forecast. When we receive complaints of tethered animals outside of an official warning, we issue warnings and provide special pamphlets to dog owners advising of the law. We also place the address on a list to recheck during a future weather advisory. We have also published information regarding the winter weather tethering law on local television and social media sites.

Complaints During Advisories: During declared advisories as posted by the National Weather Service, our officers respond to new calls and follow up on the previous complaints as time allows. Each circumstance is handled case-by-case depending upon severity and previous complaint. In many cases, citations are issued if previous warnings have been issued. Typical fines are $250 but can go as high as $1000, being misdemeanors.

Complaints received while animal control officers are off duty: In order to issue a citation for tethering during a declared weather advisory, an animal control officer must view the violation. However, as in the latest incident, the county is on shut down and our officers are not patrolling. In those cases, or other cases that occur outside of our normal hours, citations can still be issued.

If a citizen or other law enforcement officer witnesses an animal tethered outdoors during a declared advisory, they can email a photograph of the animal tethered during the advisory period and an animal control officer will issue a citation once normal hours resume. The witness providing the photo will be subpoenaed to court.

While assumptions of all kinds go around about animal control, the work they do behind the scenes is impressive and commendable, not to mention physically and mentally exhausting. The next time you see an animal control officer, in any county, please take a moment to show them some love and thank them for the grueling work they do to help both pets and their owners.

For more information regarding winter weather advisories affecting animals outdoors, please contact the animal control facility in your county or in the county which you are requesting more information or reporting a complaint.

Love Stories in Honor of Valentine's Day

 Aerys was neutered before being adopted by Alyssa Grabski through COFAS. Photo: Evelyn Lett

Aerys was neutered before being adopted by Alyssa Grabski through COFAS. Photo: Evelyn Lett

A LOVE STORY FROM SHERRIE HINES OF ATHENSPETS

February may be the season of love, but it shouldn’t be for your pets!

Ahh, February. We’re glad you’re here! Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and that means love is in the air. Everyone’s buying chocolates and planning for a fun evening with their special someone. We here at AthensPets hope that you’ll skip the chocolate (it’s not good for your pets anyway), and that you’ll take your furry special someone (no, we don’t mean your somewhat hairy husband!) to be spayed or neutered. February may be the month of love for us humans, but for animals, it’s Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. 

Right now, cats and dogs are already breeding and getting ready to kick off our animal shelter’s toughest season of the year—kitten and puppy season. While it sounds cute and cuddly (who doesn’t love the idea of being covered in cute, fuzzy kittens and puppies?!), shelter staff and volunteers know that inevitably it will lead to a high number of kittens and puppies who won’t make it out of the shelter. Our shelter often receives litters of kittens and puppies who are far too young to have been separated from their mothers. While shelter staff and our rescue partners do everything that they can, these orphaned litters are highly susceptible to disease and typically require around-the-clock care to have a chance of surviving. 

But through a single act of love, you can help us save lives and give your own pet a chance at a longer and healthier life. Here’s a quick look at the benefits of spaying or neutering your pet:

Your pet will actually live a longer and healthier life! What better gift could you give your pet this Valentine’s Day?

Female animals, especially if they are spayed before their first heat cycle, are less likely to develop uterine infections or mammary tumors. Mammary tumors, as reported by the ASPCA, are malignant in approximately 50 percent of dogs and a shocking 90 percent of cats. While rarer, male cats can also develop mammary cancer. This cancer typically spreads rapidly in cats and is often fatal, so spaying your female cat early is especially critical.

The ASPCA reports that male animals that have been neutered avoid the risks of testicular cancer and some prostate problems.

Animals that have been spayed or neutered roam less since they’re no longer searching for a mate. This greatly reduces their impulse to be an escape artist and their chances (once freed) of being hit by a car or getting in a fight with another roaming animal. 

You’ll also avoid common behavioral problems associated with unaltered animals.

If your dog has aggressive tendencies, those are more likely to subside after he’s been neutered. A neutered dog is also less likely to attempt to hump other animals or humans.

Unaltered animals are more likely to mark their territory, so by altering them early on you can avoid unwanted marking behavior inside of your home.

Cats in heat will yowl loudly to attempt to find mates, something no one enjoys listening to at 3am. 

Also, altered dogs usually fit in more easily in public gatherings with other animals, like on a visit to the dog park or on a crowded brewery night.  

Most importantly, you’ll be helping to ensure that your pets won’t have any unintentional or unwanted litters. Many people don’t realize how early animals can go into heat and are surprised when their six-month-old “puppy” or “kitten” ends up pregnant. This is one of the number one ways that kittens and puppies end up at the shelter, so please spay and neuter your pets early on so that you can contribute to the solution of pet overpopulation rather than being part of the problem. 

Remember, if you are feeding stray cats that are not altered, it is essential to get them spayed and neutered. Otherwise you’re just helping them stay healthier so that they can reproduce more quickly and have larger litters. Many well-meaning folks started off by feeding one or two cats on their property only to find themselves overwhelmed with a colony of 20 or more within just a year or two. 

The good news is that there are a lot of resources out there to help you, whether you’re looking to alter your personal pet or help a cat that’s decided to call your house home. Contact us at AthensPets (info@athenspets.net), and we’ll be glad to help direct you to resources that are available in the Athens area. 

 

 Lily Belle and Brittnee. Photo: Brittnee Thirkield

Lily Belle and Brittnee. Photo: Brittnee Thirkield

A LOVE STORY FROM BRITTNEE THIRKIELD

I adopted my two cats, Lily Belle and Waylon, from the Athens Area Humane Society on June 10, 2016. At the time, I was battling depression and looking for a way to learn how to nurture again. Turns out cat therapy was just what the doctor ordered. 

I saw Waylon’s picture online and thought he was cute as a button. When I arrived, the adoption coordinator explained bonded pairs to me and introduced me to about three or four pairs. The cats I would bring home two hours later were the last ones I met. If they could speak English, here’s what they would say:

Lily Belle: Hi. I’m Lily Belle aka Nike aka Queen Lilz. I’m a 3-year-old tortoiseshell cat (tortie). On the day we were adopted, I was very interactive. First of all, no one puts baby in a corner, and no one puts me in a shelter for several months without me having an exit strategy. I decided it was time for us to find our own home. The world needs to know of my greatness, as I was named after the Greek goddess of speed, strength and victory. True to my name, I raced around the interaction pen, elegantly of course, climbing the walls, scratching the post, meowing. I didn’t care who saw it or what they thought. I’m the queen. Brittnee was kinda cool... for a human. She was more interested in my son, but I’m the one who makes the final decisions around here. Basically, she fell in love with him on the internet, but I sealed the deal! I wanted to go home with her but didn’t like it when they put me in the carrier, so I jumped out of it, twice… Again, no one puts baby in a corner, and no one puts me in a carrier. Once home, I explored a bit while Waylon hid to see if the new place was safe. I decided it was and claimed the home as mine, forever. Talk about a victory!

Nowadays, I’m extremely vocal. B says I have a large vocabulary letting everyone know when I’m displeased, happy or bored. I’m even teaching her some cat speak. Since she insists on fostering kittens for a local shelter, I’m the self-appointed cat etiquette instructor for the little rascals. I’m more than willing to share my home, but they have to respect the queen first!

Waylon: Hiya! I am 2-year-old ginger and though a full adult in cat years, Brittnee sometimes describes me as a 15-pound kitten. On the day we were adopted, I was stand-offish and watched from behind a cubby. When I got bored of watching her play with my mom, I quietly peered out the window and ignored them both. I like seeing outside but prefer to be nestled safely inside. Having lived in shelters most of my short life, I didn’t know what to make of the car ride. I followed behind my mom when she explored the new place. I found a safe place and watched B from the top of the staircase for hours. Once she shared some food and treats with us, I knew I would love her.

It’s been a year and a half since we came home with B, and I am fairly vocal. I pride myself on being the time keeper for meals and head of the welcome committee for the foster cats and kittens. I’m still a bit shy around strangers, but I come around quickly.

 

 Madi and Aerys cuddling. Photo: Alyssa Grabski

Madi and Aerys cuddling. Photo: Alyssa Grabski

A LOVE STORY FROM ALYSSA GRABSKI

LOVE is a four-legged word!

We rescued Madi from Circle of Friends almost exactly one year ago! Madi had about five different places to stay before she found her furrever home with us. We put a lot of love and patience into helping her understand how to be a carefree dog. We gained her trust, and now Madi loves giving kisses, going to daycare at Mutty Paws and learning new tricks with Lucky Dog Training. After some convincing by Matt, we got Madi a four-legged sibling named Aerys. When we met him, we knew his bold personality would mix well with Madi (who often forgets her own size)! Aerys is extremely social and wins over the hearts anyone who meets him. He loves watching the wildlife outside, and WE love watching his little belly swinging side to side as he runs all over the house. Madi and Aerys love hanging out together—whether it’s naps, tearing up paper bags or chasing the Roomba. While they don’t always see eye to eye (literally), I think they can both agree the four of us make one happy family!

When Failure = Love

by Evelyn Lett

 Joyce, the loving product of foster failure. Photo: Evelyn Lett

Joyce, the loving product of foster failure. Photo: Evelyn Lett

As a rescue dog foster parent, one comment that I often hear goes something along the lines of, “I could never foster, I would fall in love with every one of them!”

Well, yes you will... but that’s the point! All of those precious, abandoned, neglected dogs sitting in animal control facilities who, at risk of being euthanized, are yearning for one main thing: love. Some of these pups have never experienced love, some may have lost love, others are just too terrified to realize that all they need is love. 

In the rescue community we have an affectionate term coined “foster failing.” It has nothing to do with your fostering performance but everything to do with your heart. There are those special fosters that will give you all the feels and you can’t possibly imagine your life without them, but I guarantee you won’t feel that way about every foster. Plus, if you do end up adopting your foster pet and embrace them as your next furry family member, everyone wins!

In honor of our February “love issue,” I thought I’d share just one of my foster fail love stories...

One Saturday morning I was driving to an adoption event at PetSmart with foster #46 in tow—an extremely timid, submissive, unsocialized beagle named Joyce. 

As soon as I merged onto the loop, my nose was assaulted by an awful stench coming from the backseat. I had my fingers crossed that it was just a gassy toot but with a quick glance, I was horrified to see a big ol’ pile of stink. Due to the traffic and nowhere to pull over on the highway, I had no choice but to keep driving, holding my nose to keep from retching. As we continued along our drive, desperately looking for anywhere to stop, I glanced towards the back seat again only to witness poor Joyce vomiting on top of her prior spell of diarrhea while trembling uncontrollably from nervousness. By this point I was gagging uncontrollably and literally thought my nose might fall off from squeezing it so hard. After what seemed like hours, I was finally able to exit the loop! By the time we made it to the nearest gas station, she had eaten about half of everything in the seat. I was crying and felt utterly disgusted, defeated and at a complete loss. What was I ever going to do with this dog?

Joyce’s history is completely unknown since she was turned into animal control. Due to the lack of information, all we knew was that she was extremely timid and had learned to not trust humans at all. Fostering Joyce was challenging. For the first two weeks at my home, it was heart-wrenching trying to coax her out of her crate for anything other than pottying, and I spent many hours simply lying next to her crate reading aloud to her softly. Everything from the television to our overhead fan terrified her, but slowly and steadily, and with a ton of patience, you could really see her learning how to be a pet companion. After about six weeks, I decided it was only fair to give her a chance at finding her very own forever home and was so excited to take her out to meet potential adopters!

Attempting not to panic, I exited the car and tried to figure out the best way to clean my car seat off while holding two dogs with no supplies and trying not to barf. It was right there in the middle of that gas station parking lot, experiencing the grossest moment of my life, that it hit me: I decided to adopt this little girl. I knew that I had to protect her from ever having to suffer from fear again. 

The most important thing as a foster parent is to have an open mind and to trust yourself. If you feel confident about who adopts your foster dog, then you should be able to visualize how much love they will bring to their new family. You can’t be selfish with love! But occasionally, even if you never dreamed in a million years of having a fifth dog (especially a beagle, of all breeds), you will know in your heart that the best way to love your foster is to “fail” at being a foster parent and to succeed at being an adoptive one. 

Joyce has grown leaps and bounds in my home and is continuing to trust and to learn to accept love every day. However… she still doesn’t go on car rides! 

Emotional Support vs. Service Animals

 There are various working dog designations.

by Michaela Gardner

One of today’s most popular “health crazes” has nothing to do with juice cleanses or the latest product intended to get rid of acne overnight. It actually doesn’t have anything to do with physical health at all, but mental health, and that is the explosive popularity of Emotional Support Animals (ESAs). While recognizing the legitimacy of using animals to help treat mental illness is a victory in itself, misunderstandings of the term “emotional support animal” have given rise to an entirely new issue. On one hand, there are people out there taking advantage of the system and faking mental illnesses in order to gain certain privileges, or people who act as though their ESA has the same rights as service animals. On the other, people that have a genuine need for emotional service animals are being taken advantage of due to a lack of accurate, widespread information on the matter.

In order to set the record straight, it's important to understand the definitions of both emotional support animals and service animals. Service animals are described by the Americans with Disabilities Act as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” They are trained to assist the visually-impaired to safely navigate the world, or aid the physically-handicapped with day-to-day chores. ESAs are pets that have received no special training, and they do not perform and tasks or work for their owners—they have been prescribed to their owner by a mental health professional because their presence helps alleviate symptoms of mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and PTSD.

There are only two specific areas in which people with ESAs are given rights over people with other pets. With proof from a mental health professional, people with an ESA cannot be denied housing or forced to pay a pet fee. Breed bans and size limitations may also be disregarded, according to the Fair Housing Act. When it comes to air travel, the Air Carrier Access Act allows emotional support animals to travel in the cabin of an airplane with their owner, like a service animal would. The intent of this law is to ease anxieties for those with flying phobias.

Based on these specific laws pertaining to emotional support animals, it’s easy to see how the lines between emotional support and service animals can be blurry to some people. One of the biggest issues for those with emotional support animals is the plethora of internet scams claiming that they must pay fees, many up to $100, in order to register their pet. These websites then typically provide a vest and ID badge intended to prove the validity of the ESA. In reality, the only validation necessary for ESAs is a signed letter from a mental health professional. There are no fees involved in obtaining an official status for an emotional support animal.

On the flip side, many people take advantage of the lack of proper information about the differences between emotional support and service animals, behaving as though they both possess the same rights. This epidemic continues to spread because laws and regulations are unable to keep up with the rapid increase in the use of ESAs. Until recently, there was no need for expanded legislation regarding service animals, but between the misleading information about ESAs and people just flat out lying about their pets being a service animal, many are calling for stricter laws and regulations for service animals. Those that fake the use of a service animal and have pets that misbehave in public give true service animals a bad reputation, causing more grief for people that truly require their assistance. A difficult aspect of laws about service animals is that it is illegal for employees or business owners to question the purpose or validity of a service animal, making it almost impossible to do anything when an animal is suspected to be a fake service animal.

The most important step that currently needs to be taken in sorting this issue out is the dissemination of accurate information about the differences between emotional support and service animals. More thorough research needs to be done by those considering pursuing the help of an emotional support animal, and society as a whole needs to understand the importance of service animals and the negative impact that fake or improperly-trained service animals can have on those that have gone through the proper time, training and channels in order to gain their rights.

Recycled Pet Toys: A DIY Project

by Denise Plemmons

 Merfi trying out Denise's DIY pet toys from recycled materials.

Merfi trying out Denise's DIY pet toys from recycled materials.

Pet toys can be expensive and often don’t last very long. But you can save money by making your own toys. You don’t have to be a Pinterest queen to make some simple toys! Here are a few examples:

T-Shirt Rope Toy

Got some old t-shirts you don’t wear anymore? Or even old towels? You can turn those into a great tug toy for your dog. Simply cut it into 2-inch wide strips, and if you want it thicker, just add more strips. You can make them as long or short as you want. Then simply tie one end into a knot, section into three sections, and braid. When the braid is done, tie another knot at the end and you’re done. You can add an old tennis ball to the middle for some added fun!

Water Bottle Sock

Grab an old sock, insert a water bottle, and then close with a knot. Your doggie will love the crinkly noise.

Interactive Treat Puzzle

Get an empty plastic container, and cut a few holes big enough for treats to fall out. I used the treat container itself. Fill with treats, close and let your pet have a blast. 

Toilet paper tubes also make great treat puzzles for cats. They’re free, everyone has them and they can be made into many things. I added some cute Valentine’s stickers for a festive look. Just be sure to secure them so your kitty or doggie doesn’t eat them.

Cork Toys

Cork is a 100 percent natural, biodegradable and renewable resource. But not recyclable in Athens. However, it can be used to make a great cat toy! Just insert some feathers, ribbon, jute or anything else that will attract your cat.

Stringed Straw Toy

Straws are one-time use pieces of plastic that aren’t recyclable, and they seem to be everywhere. You get them even if you don’t want them. Here I found a fun way to put them to good use. Just cut two straws into 2-inch pieces, and string together. It can be a fun toy for a cat or for small critters like birds and rats. You can even put small pieces of food in the straws.

Here’s my test kitty, Merfi. I think her favorite was the straw wrapper.

As with any toy, monitor your pet when they are playing. Toss out any damaged toys.

Denise Plemmons is the Commercial Recycling Specialist for Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste Department. She has also worked with animals at the Athens Area Humane Society. If you have any questions about recycling, you can reach her at denise.plemmons@accgov.com or 706-621-2836.

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Sara Fogle

by Maggie See

 Artwork: Sara Fogle

Artwork: Sara Fogle

Athens has its very own Wonder Woman, and her name is Sara Fogle. She’s a multi-talented tattoo artist and dog mom who owns her own business and spends her spare time at SBG Athens (and has even won some ribbons in fitness competitions). But don’t be intimidated—she’s normal like the rest of us and loves to kick back and watch Netflix with the dogs, also.

Sara is the owner of Chico Lou’s Fine Tattoos, located inside Model Citizen Salon on Prince Avenue since 2015. The shop was named after Chico Lou, a fancy and fantastic Chihuahua who was also the subject of her first pet portrait, featuring his favorite stuffed unicorn. Even though the world lost Chico Lou last year, Sara and her husband currently have a pack of three pretty awesome dogs: Chug, a Chihuahua/Pug mix; Diddy, a Chinese Crested; and Nugget, a Pug mix. 

Although Sara has been an artist her whole life, she had a breakthrough moment around seven years ago while waitressing downtown at The Grill. After overcoming a rough patch in life that unfortunately included a hand injury, she started to draw again and noticed a fellow waitress (and her eventual best friend) drawing on the back of her ticket book. Having only a pen, she was nervous about making a mistake. Luckily, she was reminded, “But isn’t that what art is? You make mistakes and keep going.” The sketches she did after that gave her the confidence she needed to really pursue a career in art, eventually opening Chico Lou’s. 

While her tattooing style varies from detailed, realistic pieces to more fantasy-type things, abstract linework, and really everything in between, Sara has a very distinct style in the pet portraits she does on paper. Her ability to capture the exact likeness of a loved one is nothing short of impressive. You can really tell she loves animals in the way she draws them. She says, “I’ve been told by art teachers that my art had to have something to say. It has to mean something. I guess mine says ‘I love dogs.’” 

 Sara, aka Wonder Woman, at Boo-le-Bark's 2017 Halloween parade.

Sara, aka Wonder Woman, at Boo-le-Bark's 2017 Halloween parade.

You may recognize Sara from the most recent Boo-le-Bark Parade where she walked in costume as Wonder Woman. That costume is the same she spent months making and wore to DragonCon for 2017. Twenty years after attending her first DragonCon, she put together this Wonder Woman costume that she says has been her favorite so far. “The best part was taking pictures with excited little girls. When I handed off my plastic sword, it was always received with reverence.” She even performed a wedding as Wonder Woman once! 

Bilateral carpal tunnel/cubital tunnel surgery in November slowed her down some and gave Sara a chance to realize that in 2018, she wants to remember to create art that truly brings her joy. If you’d like to keep up with her growing empire, be sure to follow Chico Lou’s Fine Tattoos on Facebook,and on Instagram at @saramachenart! 

Roasted Sweet Potato Tacos

 Photo Courtesy of Silver Queen Cantina

Photo Courtesy of Silver Queen Cantina

by Wes Kent, Silver Queen Cantina

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 corn tortillas 
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 cup sunflower  seeds 
  • 2 red radish
  • 4 individual dried guajillo
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 cup canola oil  
  • 4 limes 
  • 1 cup vegan queso fresco
  • salt to taste 
  • sugar to taste

GUAJILLO VINAIGRETTE:

Add sugar, salt, lime juice, canola oil and guajillo chiles to blender, and blend till smooth. 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cut sweet potatoes, and roast in oven at 375°F till golden brown.  
  2. Toss sweet potatoes in guajillo vinaigrette. 
  3. Place coated sweet potatoes on tortilla.
  4. Garnish with pumpkin seeds, queso fresco, cilantro and radish. 

Makes four tacos.

Love That Dog and Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech

by Taylor Solomon

 Photo: Taylor Solomon

Photo: Taylor Solomon

Love That Dog is a very special book. It’s small and yellow and fits perfectly in your hand. Its pages are smooth, its text printed in blue. My first encounter with the book was in the fifth grade. Our sweet English teacher, Ms. Goodnight, read it aloud to us during our unit on poetry—the first time I remember studying poetry. You see, Sharon Creech’s book is technically a novel. It even says so on the cover. But flipping through the book’s pages, you will find what looks less like the text of a novel and more like the rhythmic stanzas of a poetry collection. Love That Dog is a novel, but its story is told through poetry.

Jack is a student in Miss Stretchberry’s class, where they have just begun a unit on poetry. Right off the bat, Jack lets you know his opinion of poetry. “I don’t want to [write poetry], because boys don’t write poetry. Girls do.” Jack is skeptical, though Miss Strechberry continues to urge him to write. As the year goes on, through Jack’s prose and one-sided correspondence with Miss Stretchberry, we see Jack grow as a writer and learn more and more about his personal life, in particular his relationship with a family pet, a yellow dog. Sharon Creech uses classic poets (Robert Frost, William Blake, Walter Dean Myers) to move Jack through academic goals as well as coming to terms with the tragedy of losing a pet. One of the dedications in the book reads “For… all of whom love love love their dogs,” and Creech is not wrong in knowing it will resonate with this audience. Anyone who has experienced the unconditional love of a dog (or any pet for that matter) will relate to Jack and his story.

If Jack is discovering prose and seeing himself as a poet for the first time in Love That Dog, in the book’s sequel, Hate That Cat, he is growing and becoming even more experimental in his work. He is learning about onomatopoeia and alliteration, assonance and consonance. He even has a new subject, a large black cat who Jack is not shy to let you know he has very strong feelings about (hence the title). After becoming close to Jack in Love That Dog, the reader will love getting to know even more about him (and even more touching details of his home life) in this sequel. 

As a pet owner, I see myself in Jack and his family’s love for their pets and how they come together through their loss. As a student, I see myself in Jack and his peers navigating the waters of poetry for the first time. As an educator, I can only hope to be as influential as Ms. Stretchberry, introducing her students to topics that will forever change the course of their lives. Love That Dog and Hate that Cat are sweet and simple stories, but they are not ones that will be soon forgotten.

Holiday Gift Guide

by Amanda Newsom & Maggie See

There’s no shortage of talented artists and makers around these parts, and what better way to share the love than to support our own local, small businesses. We hope you will support our advertisers who have made Classic City Paw Print possible this year, as well!

We made a list and checked it twice. Here are some fun and unique ideas for the gift-giving season:

SPONSOR AN ADOPTABLE PET

 AthensPets Mug

AthensPets Mug

If you want to give a thoughtful gift to someone who is hard to buy for or who already has everything, sponsoring a pet at a local shelter is a win-win gift. Sponsorships help pets gets adopted faster and help bring attention to the harder-to-place pets waiting for their forever homes. So it’s great for the animals, and it’ll give your giftee that feel-good moment that not many other gifts will provide. We’ve listed a few local shelters that you can sponsor pets at, but there are several local shelters that offer similar sponsorships. Some shelters and rescues also have merch, like shirts and coffee mugs, that can you include with your sponsorship gift.

AthensPets

athenspets.net

Oconee County Animal Services

oconeecounty.com/215/Animal-Services

Walton County Animal Control

waltonpets.net

 

CLASSIC CITY PAW PRINT FAN CLUB PIN

 Classic City Paw Print Fan Club Pin

Classic City Paw Print Fan Club Pin

A little self-promotion never hurt anyone... we of course recommend our CCPP fan club pins that are excellent stocking stuffers for your animal-loving friends around town! These cute pins were designed by Maggie See, our resident Artist Spotlight writer who also has her own animal-related art available online and at Atomic!

Classic City Paw Print

classiccitypawprint.com/merch

Maggie See

etsy.com/shop/MaggieSeee

 

TAKE YOUR PICK

 Take Your Pick at Lotta Maes Supply Co

Take Your Pick at Lotta Maes Supply Co

There are a few stores around town that we can’t just choose one item to feature no matter how hard we try, so you’ll just have to take your pick! Frontier, Native America Gallery, Indie South Shop and Lotta Maes, which just opened this fall, always have animal-themed items that make perfect gifts... plus, you’re supporting multiple local businesses at once when you shop at these stores!

Lotta Maes Supply Co. 

lottamaes.com

BONUS POINTS: Lotta Maes will make a donation to AthensPets if you mention you saw them in our gift guide when you make a purchase there this December! <3

Frontier

frontierathens.com

Native America Gallery

facebook.com/NativeAmericaGallery

Indie South Shop

indiesouthfair.com

 

BOARDING & DOGGIE DAYCARE

Gift cards for doggie daycare time or boarding will give you human friends the needed incentive to take a day trip or short vacation without worrying about their pups if they can’t come along for the ride. We’ve listed a few boarding facilities below, but there are so many awesome options around town, too! 

(Things to consider when picking which facility to gift: whether they already use a certain facility, how close it is to their home, the type of boarding/daycare needed, and amenities or special accommodations.)

Pawtropolis

pawtropolis.com 

Waggin Tails

waggintailsbogart.com

Classic City Critter Sitters

athenscrittersitters.com

 

PET TREATS

 Athens Dog Biscuits

Athens Dog Biscuits

Who says only humans get to open presents for the holidays? Give some tasty snacks to all the dogs and cats that you (and your friends and family) love!

Athens Dog Biscuits

www.etsy.com/shop/AthensDogBiscuits

Oscar Bites

oscarbites.net

 

HUMAN Treats

Okay, humans deserve treats, too... There are some cool restaurants around town that offer delicious human treats, but since we feature a recipe in every issue created by local chefs, we’re going to point you to tinyurl.com/ccppchowdown. The best part about these recipes is that they are not only delicious, all of the ingredients are compassionate toward animals (i.e., our way of saying “they’re all vegan”). These recipes double as great options for holiday potlucks! 

 

DECORATE EVERYTHING

 Colors for Conservation Shadowbox

Colors for Conservation Shadowbox

There is no shortage of cool artists incorporating animals into their artwork in our area—hence our monthly artist spotlight! Will Eskridge not only has some of our favorite paintings, but he also has some cool ornaments right now. Colors for Conservation has dreamy wildlife artwork, with their shadowboxes and necklaces being in our top favs. And we particularly dig the “Only Dog Can Judge Me” print by Lauren Gregg. Check out our artist spotlights online for more ideas at tinyurl.com/ccppartistspotlight.

Will Eskridge

willeskridge.com/holidaze

Colors for Conservation

colors4conservation.etsy.com

Lauren Gregg

etsy.com/shop/laurengregg

 

PROUD PET PARENT

 Sugar Cookie Pin Set

Sugar Cookie Pin Set

For the friends who love to show off their pet parenthood, we recommend Sugar Cookie’s cat lady pin set and The Southern Lady’s “Dog Mom AF” shirt. 

Sugar Cookie

sugarcookie.etsy.com

The Southern Lady Bug 5

etsy.com/shop/TheSouthernLadybug5

 

PET PORTRAITS

 Laura Eavenson Pet Portrait

Laura Eavenson Pet Portrait

One of the most prized gifts you can give a pet parent is a professional portrait or photo of their beloved fur babies. Again, we are lucky to have so many to choose from in the Athens area, but we’re shouting out to the artists and photographers below. Laura paints beautifully-colored portraits, and Anne Yarbrough not only takes some of the best pet photographs we’ve seen, she also donates her time to take photos of adoptable pets (which we heart). The same can be said of Evelyn Lett, who also happens to be our newest CCPP writer for Fostering Hope.

Laura Eavenson

facebook.com/lauramonster17

Anne Yarbrough Photography

anneyarbroughphotography.com

Evelyn Lett Photography

facebook.com/EvelynLettPhotography

 

ALL THINGS FELINE

 Classic City Cat Items

Classic City Cat Items

If you need something for the ultimate cat lady in your life, Classic City Cat has you covered. They have tons of cat-tastic items for you to choose from or pair together or add to a basket. We are also in love with the cat dolls by Rainbow Peg Dolls, which are great for humans of any age!

Classic City Cat

classiccitycat.com

Rainbow Peg Dolls

etsy.com/shop/rainbowpegdolls

 

ALL THINGS CANINE

 Rinse K9 Wash

Rinse K9 Wash

Dogs can definitely be a bit easier to buy for, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t some special items that we think you’ll gravitate toward on the local front. Tie Dyed Natural Turtle has adorable handmade bandanas, collars and leashes (as well as natural bug spray!), and Rinse Soap in Monroe has natural refreshing spray and cleansers to keep pups spelling nice. 

Tie Dyed Natural Turtle

tiedyedturtle.com

Rinse Bath & Body Co. 

rinsesoap.com/K9-Dog-Care

 

ALL THINGS WILD

 Taylor Custom Science Gifts

Taylor Custom Science Gifts

We love wildlife as much as our domestic friends here at Classic City Paw Print, so we can’t leave them out of the mix! Wild Birds Unlimited opened this year and has your backyard bird needs covered, and we love the felt ornaments and other cute items by Rachel Winters. We’re breaking the rules a bit and featuring an artist that’s not local, but the keychains and necklaces that Chris Taylor creates are too cool not to highlight!

Wild Birds Unlimited

athens.wbu.com

Rachel Winters Sewing

etsy.com/shop/rachelwinterssewing

Taylor Custom Science Gifts

taylorcustom.com

 

GET OUTSIDE

For the people in your life who enjoy getting outside with their dogs (or other pets—we have seen some cats on leashes recently!), consider getting them an annual pass to Sandy Creek Park or to Georgia State Parks. Georgia State Parks has a Tails on Trails program that’s a fun way to get outside with your dog and see parks across the state while you’re at it! And of course, keep an eye out to see what cool wildlife you see along the trails.

Georgia State Parks

gastateparks.org/TailsOnTrailsClub

Sandy Creek Park

sandycreekpark.com

 

GROUP ACTIVITIES

 Maggie Seee Gifts

Maggie Seee Gifts

If you want a gift you can share with your friends, you’ve got some nice options. ARTini’s hosts “Paint your Pet” nights pretty frequently that also benefit local rescues, and during certain times of year, Circle of Friends hosts Kitty Yoga at Memorial Park and Sweet Olive Farm hosts Baaa-maste Yoga in their barn. 

ARTini’s Lounge

artinisartlounge.com

Circle of Friends Kitty Yoga

cofas.org

Sweet Olive Farm

sweetolivefarm.org

Pets as Holiday Gifts: The Do's and Don'ts

by Michaela Gardner

We’ve all seen the commercials around the holidays of a child’s dreams coming true... that commercial where they come racing to the tree to find a giant box with a big red bow on top and a puppy inside. Commercials that glorify the giving of adorable baby animals as gifts, however, can be dangerous. Who wouldn’t want to see such a reaction on their child’s face when they find the pet you swore you’d never get waiting beneath the tree? As fantastic as this scenario may seem, there is another side to the practice of giving pets as gifts during the holidays. 

I have worked at PetSmart in Athens for almost a year and a half now, and I have seen my fair share of pets purchased on a whim. There is an exponential increase of these instances around the holidays. I know what you’re thinking—”here comes a lecture”—but hear me out. There are many things about pets as gifts that I had never considered before I started working at PetSmart. Guinea pigs, hamsters, bearded dragons, giant fish tanks and rabbits around Easter... these are all examples of pets that suffer due to impulse purchases. 

But fear not, for there ARE right and wrong ways to approach the gift giving season when it comes to animals. To break it down, here is a list of do’s and don’ts to abide by when deciding whether or not a pet is the perfect holiday gift to give this year:

 

DO

  • plenty of research
  • assess your living situation, and choose a pet best suited to it 
  • add up initial, monthly and annual costs of the pet you are considering 
  • sit down with children and have a serious discussion about the care involved 
  • consult with pet care professionals to seek guidance when deciding which pet is right for you
  • consider adopting your new pet from a shelter!

 

DO NOT

  • make an impulsive decision 
  • cut corners while stocking up on supplies
  • gift a pet to a child without discussing it with their parents and/or entire family first
  • surrender senior dogs or cats to the shelter in order to make room for a new puppy or kitten
  • purchase pets from flea markets, people’s yards or anywhere else that appears to be selling unhealthy animals (and beware of backyard breeders)

 

There are few things more joyous than bringing a new pet home. What better time than the holidays to build on that joy? In no way do I wish to discourage anyone from experiencing the happiness that pets bring. Instead, my goal is to educate, and I cannot stress the importance of research. This is going to be the first step, regardless of the pet you are interested in, from puppy to parakeet. No one wants to make an impulsive decision only to get home and realize the puppy they just purchased will grow to be over a hundred pounds, is full of energy, and probably isn’t suited for a studio apartment in the middle of the city. 

Another common misconception I have witnessed at PetSmart is that customers walk in under the impression that they can purchase a new Guinea pig with all the supplies for less than $100. Before you commit, put together a shopping list of the supplies you will need for whatever pet you desire, and browse the internet or local pet stores for prices on each item. From there, evaluate which of those are start-up costs and which will be weekly or monthly costs, and compare this to your budget. Take the opportunity to continue evaluating which pets will and will not suit your lifestyle. 

Another issue we commonly see at PetSmart is returned pets because the child (and oftentimes college-aged young adults) did not realize what all was going to be involved in daily and weekly maintenance for their pet. This is where I stress to parents to sit down and have a grown-up discussion that once Santa brings them that hamster, it’s up to them to take care of it every day. Prepare calendars and checklists for them so that they’re ready for the responsibility. 

If you are still unsure of what pet is right for your family, discuss your options with pet care professionals. I encourage these discussions and quite enjoy them, because at the end of the day, my biggest goal is for the animals and the customers to be happy with the decision made. Be honest and upfront with us, and we will definitely be able to match you with a suitable pet. 

And finally, I encourage everyone to consider adopting from a shelter or rescue. Not only can you find dogs and cats, but Guinea pigs and rabbits oftentimes find their way into shelters because people don’t realize initially how intensive their care can be. One of the many benefits of adopting from shelters is that your initial costs are minimized greatly, as adoption fees typically include full vetting: spay/neuter, vaccinations and a microchip! By adopting from a shelter during the holiday season, not only is your family receiving a gift, but you are giving the gift of life to an animal that deserves a second chance. 

Deviled Carrots

Garrett MacFalda, Heirloom Cafe

INGREDIENTS:

 Photo: Garrett MacFalda

Photo: Garrett MacFalda

  • 6 medium carrots, scrubbed but not peeled
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeño chile, minced 
  • 1 serrano chile, minced
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp relish
  • 1 tsp seeded mustard
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 jalapeño chile
  • 2 quarts water, for blanching 
  • Salt, enough to make the blanch water taste like the sea

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

First, slice off the very top end of the carrots by the greens. Reserve the greens for future use, but keep a few frills for garnish. From here, slice the carrots into three equal segments. The topmost will become the base for the deviled carrots, the center piece will become the stuffing, and the thinnest bottom third will become the pickles to finish.

For the base: Cut each base portion vertically to make half cylinders, and then cut the curved outer carrot flat so the bases will sit face up. Blanch these pieces for about 2-5 minutes, long enough to bite through easily but not so long they’re mushy or hard to pick up. Once they’re ready, drop them into an ice bath until they’re about room temperature, then dry them on a paper towel.

For the stuffing: Roughly dice the middle portions of the carrot and sauté with a little neutral oil. Cook the carrot until very soft, keeping them moving to prevent scorching them. If they’re sticking, add a little water to let them steam, and cook down further. Once the carrots are soft, puree them in a food processor and pass through a fine sieve to remove any stringy fibrous bits. Add the minced chile, paprika, relish and seeded mustard, then salt to taste. 

For the pickles: Slice the thin bottom end portions of the carrots into discs as finely as possible, then add the crushed cloves of garlic and remaining jalapeño in a heat-safe bowl. Boil the white vinegar, water and salt together in a small pot, and then pour over the carrots. Let cool, making sure the pickling brine completely covers the carrot discs.

Assembly: Arrange the base portions face up, cutting the largest pieces down to bite size if you had large carrots. Spoon the stuffing mixture evenly onto each piece, and garnish the tops with pickled carrot. Use the greens to make a bed on a platter for your deviled carrots, or dress a few fronds in olive oil, kosher salt and few drops of fresh lemon juice and garnish the tops.

Makes 12 canapés, more with larger carrots. 

More than Love

by Evelyn Lett

 Photo: Evelyn Lett

Photo: Evelyn Lett

Fosters are the backbone of the rescue industry—without them, most rescues wouldn’t exist. Fostering animals serves many purposes: one of the foremost is that it drastically reduces the overhead costs involved in running a rescue. Fosters help a larger percentage of donations go directly toward paying for the costs associated with vetting each animal that goes through a rescue. 

Foster homes also reduce the pressure on local government-run animal shelters that are often forced to euthanize healthy dogs or cats due to a lack of space needed for animals brought in as strays or surrendered by their owners. Additionally, injured animals that need to heal prior to being adopted can be given the luxury of time in a foster home that they may not always be afforded in an overcrowded, underfunded facility. 

I’m sure we’ve all seen the pleas from rescue groups on social media searching for rescues, foster homes, adopters or pledgers. I often see something along the lines of, “All you need is love, and we provide the rest,” in regards to fostering. And in the most fundamental sense, yes, organizations provide foster families with crates, beds, food, toys, bowls, leashes, collars, litter, you name it—they provide it (to the best of their abilities)! But in reality, it does take so much more.

Fostering isn’t for everyone. It can be challenging, inconvenient, emotionally-draining and overwhelming, but it is just as equally heartwarming and self-fulfilling so much so that, if done correctly, it can change everything you ever thought you knew about dogs or cats… and yourself. 

Fostering takes patience, sacrifice, commitment, absolute dedication, honesty with mental adopters… and did I mention patience? By no means do I want to turn anyone away from becoming a foster. I so hope that by sharing my experiences will shed light on a somewhat mysterious role that many people don’t fully understand. 

Full disclosure: Fostering has changed my life and given me a feeling of having a greater purpose. Watching an animal transform from a terrified soul who’s never known love into a beautiful, confident pet who knows how to play, trust and express joy is humbling and extremely gratifying. And then having the opportunity to watch that same pet find their perfect family who needs them just as much as your foster needs them—it makes you instantly forget all the trials and tribulations, and you are inevitably left with every precious, loving memory of each foster once they’ve left the nest.

One aspect of fostering that can be intimidating to people is that it carries quite a bit of uncertainty. For example, my rescue, and many others, regularly visit rural animal control shelters where dogs are found as strays or turned in by their owners. After they’re held for five days, they become subject to euthanasia. When these shelters become full or have a particularly busy week, the animals are put under even more pressure to find homes, either by direct adoption or by being pulled by a rescue organization. These rescues serve as a type of temporary middle-man to get the animals fully vetted and treated, evaluated for personality and behavioral traits, and acclimated to living and being comfortable in a home. 

The majority of these animals have completely unknown backgrounds. They may have never lived indoors; dogs’ listed “breed” is honestly just a best guess based on their physical appearance; they’ve never been taught any behavioral commands; they might have been abused verbally or physically; some have been unexpectedly separated from the one and only human they’ve ever known and are in mourning; and others just need a little extra TLC before going directly to a new home. 

There’s never an “absolute guarantee” to any animal that you bring into your home, and often it can take several days to weeks to reveal your foster’s personality and any unusual “quirks” they may have. You must be ready to adjust your current setup and schedule to fit each individual foster animal, since no two are the same!

Fostering exposes the utter resilience of these amazing creatures we have chosen to share our lives with, and ultimately chosen to be members of our families. So please, be patient if things seem chaotic at first. Take a few deep breaths, gain perspective and think outside the box to address any specific issues that may arise. Remember your importance: you may possibly be the last chance this little furry kid has at their “happily ever after.”

Lemon Bars

by Midge McCoy, Donna Changs

CRUST INGREDIENTS:

  • ½ lb coconut oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ tsp salt

FILLING INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 tbsp golden flax meal
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup flour
  • Confectioner’s sugar for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

For the crust, add all ingredients together in a food processor, and pulse until evenly combined. It’s supposed to look like shortbread. Grease a large casserole dish or similarly-sized baking sheet, and press the dough into it so that it is even and as flat as possible. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until it appears dry. 

While it bakes, mix the flax and water together and let stand for 5 minutes—this is your egg substitute. Next, mix the remaining filling ingredients and add the “egg” once it has thickened. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees, and pour the filling on top of the crust. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the filling looks set. 

Let cool and top with confectioner’s sugar—tap through a sieve to make it look pretty.