Take Five: Getting an open-pawed welcome

The entertainment industry has focused lately on adorable animals in adorable movies, cute dogs in cute children’s books (and books for grown-ups, too) and funny chipmunks everywhere.

I have seen some very appealing animals myself during a recent trip to the Pasadena chapter of the Humane Society and SPCA.

Ricky Whitman, vice president of community relations (responsible for the outreach activities in the San Gabriel Valley) gave me the tour. I was struck by the extraordinary love extended to all the animals by the staff.

“Humane” means tender, compassionate and sympathetic. The 70 employees and the 400 volunteers at the Pasadena facility process about 12,000 animals a year. Not just cats and dogs, but rabbits, hamsters, fowl and wildlife. I saw an alligator who had been domestically raised, and therefore was too tame to be released into the wild. I was too stunned to ask where it came from.

I saw a female pit bull playing with one of the dog trainers. It was hard to tell which of the two was having the most fun.

An astonishing aspect (aside from the alligator) was the story of the Pasadena resident who had 250 cats in a 600-square-foot space. The shelter officials raced to where the cats were housed and removed all of them for transport to the parking lot at Del Mar and Raymond.

A special tent was erected. Dozens of staffers, together with volunteers, worked for 24 straight hours to examine, clean and register each cat. Many were feral. All of these rescued animals had to be kept separate from the facility’s existing population.

Within six months, more than 95% of the cats had been adopted. As a matter of fact, the same percentage applies to all cats and dogs taken in.

This heroic story, and others like it, defines “humane” far better than my dictionary.

Cages are not cages anymore, they are kennels, and they are equipped with a cushy covering akin to a baby blanket, with soft surfaces, instead of cold, wet concrete.

The services include spaying/neutering, licensing, boarding, behavior and canine training, microchip installation — more than just general animal control. An officer is available to help animals 24/7, and in 2010, an average of 50 calls a day were answered. The Pasadena Humane Society will never deny care to any animal from its service area for any reason.

One-third of the organization’s annual operating budget is contributed by donors, proving there are dedicated people in many places, at the shelter or otherwise, who are supportive and caring.

The pamphlet that Whitman gave me noted, ”There are both Fun and Games and Obedience Classes that help maintain the special bond between human and animal. Reinforcing this bond helps keep animals in their homes and out of the shelter.”

Happiness and laughter can come from movies, but even better from hugging the precious dog or cat that may become your own. You won’t even need a ticket.

Adoption of a pet is a wonder — and a beloved “relative” will be added to your family. Make a pet’s life part of your life. A “woof-woof” here and there in your home will open two hearts — yours and a new and forever companion. Cats, too? You bet. Call Ricky Whitman at (626) 792-7151 x113 and she will welcome you with open paws.

GENE PEPPER is a published author and writer. Contact him by email at gpep@aol.com or phone (818) 790-1990.

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