Author Archives: Friendship APL

Pet First Aid: Are You Prepared?

The Basics of Pet First Aid

When it comes to the health of our pets, we can never be too vigilant. Just like with people, medical problems are unfortunately inevitable, and knowledge, preparation, and prevention are the key to proper care until the pet can see a veterinarian. Now, that being considered, there is one big caveat: providing first aid or emergency treatment to an animal should never substitute professional veterinary care. The guidelines provided in this article can help initiate proper medical care, and even buy time in some emergency situations, until the pet can be seen by a veterinarian. In this article, you will find basic first aid tips for events ranging from minor injuries to emergency resuscitation. 

First things first: don’t wait for an emergency to happen to find a veterinarian, as time is of the essence and first-time clients aren’t always as readily seen.  Familiarize yourself with your nearby emergency/walk-in vet clinics and if your pet doesn’t already have one, initiate a patient-client relationship with a routine veterinarian. 

Tools to have in your pocket:

Research and Education

Cut a few minutes out from your TikTok session and research your pet’s species. What’s normal versus abnormal for them? What are common medical issues that species tends to encounter? What medical maintenance is required for that species? What basic husbandry is required and what should you keep an eye out for as their owner? Of course, Google doesn’t replace a veterinarian, but knowing some of this information can help you catch medical issues quicker than if you were uninformed. 

First Aid Kits

First aid kits are generally low cost, very accessible, and can be an excellent resource to have if you’re familiar with where the kit is at and what’s inside of it. While first aid kits designed specifically for pets are available, traditional first-aid kits can work just as well.

Emergency Contact Numbers

Save the contact information for your pet’s routine veterinarian, your closest emergency veterinarian, animal poison control, and your local police department so they are readily available in the event of an emergency. 

Your Pet’s Basic Information 

This may sound silly, but in a moment of panic, it may be hard to remember all of your pet’s information. When you call the veterinarian (or an emergency clinic that may not know your pet) it’ll save precious time to have your animal’s information at the ready. The clinic will be better prepared to take care of your pet if you can provide your pet’s name, species, breed, age, sex, reproductive status (spayed, neutered, intact), any known medical issues and current medications.

The Big “NO’s”


Do not give your animal any medications, for any reason, that are not prescribed to it. Even if they are from another pet of the same species and of similar weight, it is not safe nor legal. This also includes over-the-counter medications, as doing so is extremely dangerous. Many over-the-counter medications that are safe for people are fatal for animals. 

Online Remedies 

While the internet can be a wonderful resource, not everything on it is true or scientifically validated. Avoid online DIY tips or home remedies for your pet’s medical issues. Besides posing the risk of more harm for your pet, it can also impede the treatment that the veterinarian can provide. 

So, what may require first aid or warrant an emergency for your pet?


When it comes to controlling active bleeding, think two words: time and pressure. Cleaning, treating and bandaging a wound are all secondary to getting bleeding to cease. If available, use a thick gauze pad or a folded washcloth (or other linen) to apply strong pressure to the wound. The goal of controlling bleeding is getting the blood to clot. This will take minutes, not seconds, so resist from lifting the pressure every few moments and instead hold steady pressure for 3-5 minutes before checking to see if the bleeding has stopped. Once the bleeding has stopped, the animal should still see a veterinarian as soon as possible, as open wounds may require suturing, antibiotics, or surgical repair while it is still fresh.

If blood is coming from an orifice (nose, mouth, ears, rectum, etc.), there is not much that can be done prior to transporting the animal to the vet. Bleeding from orifices could be from numerous medical issues, ranging from minor to life-threatening. If a dog bit its own tongue while playing fetch, the need for medical intervention is not equivalent to the dog bleeding from its mouth after being hit by a car. In cases involving severe trauma, the best thing that can be done for the pet is keeping it warm and calm while transporting it to the veterinarian. For tips regarding severe bleeding, see below under “Life Threatening Emergencies”.


Immediately flush with large volumes of cool water and apply cold compresses during transport to the veterinarian, if possible.


When it comes to heatstroke, prevention is your first mechanism of defense. NEVER leave your pet in a car on (even mildly) warm days. Similarly, never confine your pet to direct sunlight without shade, or a poorly ventilated area during hot temperatures. If the animal appears to be suffering from heatstroke, it should be transported to a veterinarian immediately. If the animal cannot be immediately transported, use cool water from a hose and run it over the animal’s body (particularly the core) or drape wet towels around the animal until it can be seen by a veterinarian. When using the towel method, be mindful to keep re-wetting it with cold water and avoid covering the pet’s face.


It’s a good rule of thumb that any substance that harmful to people is also harmful to animals. While the first products that come to mind may be pesticides, cleaning chemicals, and antifreeze, there are also many everyday “human” food and household items that can be just as harmful. 

Prevention is key when it comes to poisoning and toxicity. Think of pets like children; if it’s not meant for the pet, try to keep it out of the animal’s reach. If you don’t know where to start, there are many accessible lists of substances, foods, plants, and other household items that you may get form your veterinarian or find online. One of which is the “Household Hazard” publication provided by the AVMA. Just remember, the internet is not always full of accurate information, so try to stick to veterinary publications and avoid home-remedies without consulting a veterinarian first.

If your pet comes in to contact with or ingests a poisonous substance, first read the label on the substance. Follow the instructions on the label as if the pet is a person. For instance, if the substance label advises to rinse with water, rinse with water. Then call the hotlines for animal poison control or pet poison, as well as an emergency veterinarian. The poison control resources may involve an additional fee, apart from the veterinary costs. Even if your animal appears to be fine, if you know it may have ingested or come into contact with a harmful substance, play it safe and call a veterinarian.


Keep the animal safe from hitting any objects. Do not try to restrain the animal and do not go anywhere near its mouth. Whether this is the pet’s first seizure or a recurrent event, try to remember to note the time as soon as you notice the seizure. Note the time again when symptoms cease, as this information will be very helpful for your veterinarian. During transport to the veterinarian, try to keep the animal warm. 

Suspected Fractures and Breaks

Do your best to keep the animal calm while preventing it from moving the wounded area. Use a flat surface (such as a board) as a stretcher and attempt to keep at least the affected area flat on the surface to avoid further injury. A blanket can also be used as a stretcher, padding, or sling, as long as the blanket is used in a manner that it doesn’t put pressure on the animal’s airway or injury.

Do not attempt to splint or stabilize the wound, as this poses a risk of inflicting more harm than good. 


Remember your “ABC’s”: Airway, Breathing, and Circulation

Severe Bleeding

If blood is rapidly dripping, steadily flowing, or squirting from a wound on a limb, apply a tourniquet (as this is an emergency situation, homemade tourniquets such as rubber bands, tightly tied linens, cords, or gauze will suffice). The tourniquet should be placed above the closest joint proximal to the wound. For example, if the wound is below the knee but above the tarsus, tie the tourniquet above the knee. If the wound is below the elbow but above the carpus, tie the tourniquet above the elbow. The tourniquet should be loosened every 15 minutes for approximately 20 seconds to prevent damage to the limb. Once the tourniquet is applied, note the time and immediately transport to the veterinarian.

If severe bleeding is coming from the abdomen, make a “belly wrap”. This can be done using an ace wrap, lots of gauze, or even a towel and duct tape. The wrap needs to be tight around the abdomen, as the goal is to apply pressure to cease the bleeding. If organs, viscera, or essentially if anything from the inside of the body is no longer on the inside, use saline or the cleanest water available to moisten the exposed tissues before applying the wrap. Though controlling the bleeding is top priority, the tissues should not dry out!

Again, this is an emergency, and veterinary intervention is needed immediately!

Choking on an Object

While time is of the essence, it’s imperative to remember the two C’s: calm and caution. When in respiratory distress, panic will only worsen the animal’s ability to breathe. Despite it being difficult, do your best to keep everyone involved, including the pet, calm as possible. Lastly, use caution, as an animal in distress is more likely to bite, even if they’re inherently friendly.

If you can see the foreign object and think you can remove it, very quickly and carefully use tweezers or long pliers to grip the object and pull it straight out. Do not delay or attempt this more than once before immediately transporting the animal to the vet. It is imperative that the object is not pushed further down. 

If the animal collapses, lay it on its side and use the palm of your hand to firmly strike the animal’s ribcage up to 4 times. Repeat the process until the object dislodges or until you make it to the veterinarian.

Rescue Breathing/CPR

Although it’s easier said than done, staying calm is germane to resuscitation. If your pet is unconscious and may not be breathing, take a couple seconds to watch the animal’s chest rise and fall. If it is not breathing, quickly open the pet’s mouth and extend the tongue to see if there is a foreign object lodged in the throat (if so, follow directions outlined above in the choking section). 

If there is no foreign object, secure the airway (lay the animal on its back and position the head so the airway is as straight as possible) and initiate positive-pressure rescue breathing. Position yourself near the animal’s head, but where you can also visualize the animal’s chest. Hold the pet’s mouth closed with your hands as you give breaths through your mouth into the animal’s nose. Only give breaths forceful enough to see expansion of the chest. Give one wholesome rescue breath every 5 seconds until you are either relieved by the veterinarian or until the animal resumes spontaneous breathing.

No Breathing and No Heartbeat

Secure the airway (see above) and initiate positive-pressure rescue breathing. Do not perform rescue breathing and chest compressions at the same time. Rescue breaths may be given intermittently between chest compressions, or by another person that is not performing the compressions. Compressions must briefly pause when rescue breaths are given. After giving the animal a wholesome rescue breath, begin the following:

Dogs: Lay the dog on its left side, and begin compressions at the lower aspect of the ribcage (near the elbow). The force behind the compressions is dependent on the size of the dog. For a medium-sized dog, press approximately one inch in depth. Larger dogs will require more force, and small dogs will require less, so this is arbitrary. The rate of compressions should be approximately 80-120 per minute.

Cats and other smaller pets: if possible, use one hand (in a “C” shape) to cradle the pet’s chest. With your thumb on one side of the chest and your remaining fingers on the other, initiate compressions by squeezing. The rate of compressions should be approximately 100-150 per minute. 

Have someone call an emergency veterinary hospital immediately, or if you are by yourself, call while performing compressions. Respiratory and cardiac arrest are a grave emergency with limited chances of survival. 

Additional signs of medical emergencies that warrant timely veterinary attention:

Open-mouth breathing (not panting), especially in non-canine animals

Signs of GDV (“Bloat”): distended abdomen, frothing at the mouth, non-productive gagging, pacing

Large volumes of vomiting, diarrhea or any other means of fluid loss (especially in small or neonate animals)

Fever, lethargy, acute loss of appetite, generally acting out of character

Vaginal discharge from intact female animals

Jaundice (yellow gums, eyes, ears, etc.)

If the animal appears normal but has experienced recent trauma such as being hit by a car or fighting with another animal

Hypothermia or extended periods of time without eating, particularly in neonate animals

Lastly, no one knows your pet better than you. If your pet is experiencing something that you perceive as a possible emergency (even if its not described in this article), contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. Being vigilant with your pet’s health is a service to them, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Finding a Lost Animal: What Should You Do?

You found a lost/stray animal. What do you do?

There are many reasons you may come across a lost/stray animal. No matter how vigilant pet owners are, accidents happen and animals sometimes escape their yard, home, or break free from their leash or tether. Sometimes they are just let loose or are dumped by their owners or others. Sometimes a stray animal, more specifically a cat, may be a product of stray animals mating. Whatever the reason, when we see or find these animals, it is our natural instinct to help them. Generally you don’t think about what you are going to do with the animal until you have already stepped in to help. So, you catch this stray/lost animal. What do you do now?  

Finding and helping a lost or stray animal can involve a series of steps. Not everyone realizes this until it is you. Below are general steps you should follow that will help regardless of what kind of animal you have found:

  • If you have found a dog/cat or domesticated small animal (ferret, rabbit, guinea pig) try to secure the animal if possible. This could mean keeping the animal in a kennel, getting the animal into a fenced yard, luring the animal into a garage, etc.
  • If you have other animals of your own do not allow them to interact with the animal you have found because the temperament or health of the newly found animal is unknown. 
  • Utilize social media. Take a photo of the animal and make note of where the animal was found. If it was not found at a direct address, try to utilize street signs/businesses to create a description of the general location. Upload any pictures and information you can gather including area found, gender, breed etc. and post to social media. Post in social media groups on Facebook such as “Sam the Parrot”, local animal “Lost and Found” pages, or local community pages (ie. Lorain, OH FB Group). 
  • Report the finding to the correct authorities. (Listed below based on the animal that was found.)
  • Check if the animal has a microchip. 

A microchip in an animal is an identification tool. Many people believe that microchips are a way to track the location of a missing animal but that is false. Microchips are inside of the animal’s body, generally located under the skin, in between the shoulder blades. In order for microchips to be of use, they need to be registered. Once registered, if scanned, the microchip number will display on the scanner. This number can then be used to find the owner’s information such as an address, phone number and name. There is always a chance that the microchip is not registered or does not have current owner information, which eliminates the chance of finding an owner. Microchips can be scanned at the following places: vet clinics, shelters, and some police departments

Some additional steps can be taken depending on what kind of animal you find. Read below to find specific information on what to do when you find a dog, cat, domesticated small animal or wildlife:

I found a stray/lost dog, what should I do?

As described above, most of the steps listed should be first on your to do list if you have found a stray dog. Only secure the dog if it can be done safely. Most stray animals, including dogs, are scared and confused. This either prompts one of two responses: flight or fight. Flight is the term for a nervous dog who is hard to catch because of their desire to constantly run away from those trying to catch it. Fight is the term used for a fearful dog looking to “fight” those who are trying to catch it, whether that be growling, snapping or biting. 

If it can be done safely, you should secure the dog with a tether or place it in a fenced area or garage. (If you are unable to confine the dog, you can still report the sighting to the local shelter/dog kennel and post photos on social media.) 

Be careful with your own animals and don’t allow the stray/lost dog to interact with them due to the unknown temperament or health issues of the dog you found. 

Take a photograph and note the address or closest intersection to where you found the dog. The photos and information you obtain can be reported as described below or posted on social media.

Next, you need to call the local Police Dept. and your local dog kennel. If the dog kennel is closed, follow the directions on their outgoing phone message. Most counties will have you reach out to the County Sheriff or local police department. They, in turn, will dispatch a dog warden to you.

If you secure the dog and it seems to be nicely behaved, you can also walk the dog around your neighborhood, or the neighborhood where you found it. See if anyone knows the dog and where it lives. Ask the mailman and delivery drivers you see in the area as they may know many pets on their routes.

You may also drive the dog to the local dog kennel if you wish, but please remember the flight or fight term we mentioned above. You need to be aware that putting the stray dog into your car can mean they may defecate, urinate, or vomit in your car, or they may chew on parts of your car. Liability is on you at this point and the dog owner (if found) will not be made to pay for damages. 

Some pets have microchips (see footnote). Microchips may be a means to locate an owner, if the chip is properly registered. Places like the local dog kennel, the APL, other shelters, vet offices and some police departments have microchip scanners. You can take the animal to any of these places to have the dog scanned for a chip.  This information can help you find the owner. 

I found a stray/lost cat, what should I do?

As described above, most of the general steps listed should be first on your to do list if you have found a stray cat. Only secure the cat if it can be done safely. Most stray animals, including cats, are scared and confused. It can be difficult to determine if a stray cat is actually feral. 

Feral is a term used to describe an undomesticated cat that is not accustomed to human interaction and cannot be easily caught, or handled. An easy indication of whether a cat is feral and living outside is to see if they have an ear tip. This is something veterinarians do after they fix a feral cat. That way those looking to control the outdoor cat population can easily determine if a cat has already been fixed or not. If you see an outdoor cat and are confident it is friendly and not a feral outdoor cat you will want to follow the below steps.

If you can safely confine the cat, please do so. You can house them in a garage, a pet carrier, a screened in porch or in your home. Be very careful as a feral or scared cat can also have a flight or fight reaction, and will likely bite/scratch. Cat bites become infected very easily.  Seek medical help as soon as you can if you are bitten. 

You should take a photograph of the cat, noting the closest address or intersection.  Upload your photograph to social media and call your local animal shelter and report the found cat. Posting flyers around the area also is helpful. You can ask to be put on the surrender wait list at that shelter when you call, in case an owner is not found. Be prepared to have to make an appointment and wait for some sort of appointment to bring a cat into a shelter as most shelters cannot take animals in the same day due to limited cage space. If you are unable to confine the cat safely you can still report the sighting to the local shelter and post a photo on social media. 

If you find a cat and the cat appears to be injured.

If you are able to secure the cat, take the cat to the nearest veterinarian clinic or shelter. You will not be held accountable for medical bills if you communicate that the cat was found as an injured stray. 

Keep in mind that county kennels for strays are only for dogs, they do not take in cats. That is why you need to reach out to local shelters for an appointment to bring the stray cat there. 

I found a stray/lost domesticated animal, what should I do?

This can include: bunnies, ferrets, hamsters/guinea pigs, pigs, chickens etc.

Again, confine the animal if it is safe to do so. Call your local animal shelter and they will direct you on the best course of action depending on the species of the animal. If you are unable to confine the animal you can still report the sighting to the local shelter and post a photo on social media.

I found a wild animal, what should I do?

First things first – do not touch the animal.

If you find an injured wild animal or a wild animal you feel is in an area where it could become injured, you need to leave it alone and call your local nature or wildlife center. If you cannot locate one of these places, call your local animal shelter. They will be able to point you in the correct direction. In the State of Ohio, it is ILLEGAL to possess, own, control, restrain, or keep any wild animal without having the proper wildlife rehabilitator permits. The purpose of the law is to protect wild animal populations and to protect people from disease and injury. It is always best to call the professionals and allow them to help these animals. 

In conclusion:

Always be very careful with stray/lost animals. They are almost always scared and confused. Scared and confused animals are more likely to flight or fight. Go slow and do not run after/chase the animal as it will likely run away from you and could dart into traffic, putting yourself and the animal at risk. If the animal is running from you and it is becoming a risk to catch, it is better to stop and report it to the proper authorities and allow them to handle it. 

If the animal is injured you may choose to take it to the vet for help. If you determine a vet is needed, call your local police department’s non-emergency number, explain the severity of the situation and they will guide you as to where to take the animal or they will come to get it from you (depending on the city).

Things you CANNOT do with a found animal:  

Rehome the animal. 

Keep the animal. 

Euthanize the animal. 

Do not tie the animal to a tree/post and leave it. 

If the animal has a leash and collar on, DO NOT remove it.  

You MUST report the animal to the correct authorities:  

For Lorain County:

Lorain County Dog Kennel – 440-326-5995

Friendship APL – 440-322-4321

Lake Erie Nature & Science Center – 440-871-2900

French Creek Nature Center – 440-949-5200

Lorain County Metro Parks – (440) 458-5121

Our 2023 Wags to Riches Sponsors!

With the return of our in person Wags to Riches event approaching, we would like to recognize all of the support and sponsorships we have received from members and companies in our community. Our Wags to Riches event would not be possible without the sponsorships we receive. In 2022, we spent close to $350,000 on emergency medical care alone, not even including spay/neuter costs. Every year we host this event, it is in hopes to raise the fund to support our emergency medical care fund. That way we are able to continue to provide care for all of the animals that come to us for help. 

Friendship Animal Protective League would like to recognize our 2023 Wags to Riches Sponsors:

Animal Clinic Northview (Dinner/Title Sponsorship)  

Animal Clinic Northview is the veterinary clinic we use for almost all of our emergency medical cases. Many animals are sent to Northview Animal Clinic, treated and then brought back to our shelter to find their fur-ever homes. We appreciate all of the work their staff does for our animals and we are thankful for their sponsorship of our Wags to Riches event!


Schlather Insurance Agency (Casino Sponsorship)

Schlather Insurance Agency has been a continued sponsor of many of our events including Wags to Riches and our annual Golf Outing. Partnering with companies in our community, like Schlather Insurance, gives us the opportunity to provide more resources to people so they can keep their animals. Resources like home insurance that support animals in your household!

Camp Bow Wow Westlake (Appetizer Sponsorship)

Camp Bow Wow Westlake has supported our mission in different ways in years past. This includes boarding and daycare for some of our longer term resident dogs. Staying at the shelter for a long period of time can be stressful for dogs and using Camp Bow Wow gives our dogs a break from the shelter. This year Camp Bow Wow Westlake generously sponsored our Wags to Riches event and we are very appreciative of that! 

Tito’s Handmade Vodka (Beverage Sponsorship)

“Tito’s Handmade Vodka is the innate connection we have with our canine counterparts. Since the beginning, while working with Tito to bring his dream to life for over 20 years, we have been committed to rescuing and protecting the pets that have come into our lives, often serendipitously — many of whom now thrive alongside us at our distillery and our office. The vision of our Vodka for Dog People program is to better the lives of pets and the families who love them, near and far.” Since connecting with Tito’s last year, they have sponsored several events with us including our Golf Outing and Wags to Riches event! Our animals thank them!

Brouse McDowell (Entertainment Sponsorship)

Brouse McDowell continues to support our organization and mission through sponsorships. Every year they show their support for our Wags to Riches event. The work we do at FAPL is not possible without the support of Brouse McDowell and because of them we continue to save the lives of many animals. 

3B IT Services (Entertainment Sponsorship)

3B IT services is a local women owned business that helps with commercial IT infrastructure needs. They have been a supporter of our organization for many years and are sponsors of our Wags to Riches event. We love to be surrounded by local businesses willing to support our organization and the animals we care for. Through this sponsorship 3B IT services is helping us raise funds for our emergency medical care fund for the emergency animal cases that walk through our doors every day. 


 Loan Gal Team (Grand Prize Sponsorship)

The Loan Gal Team is here for all of your mortgage needs! They are a continued sponsor of many of our events and their love for dogs align with our love for finding animals homes! The Loan Gal Team looks to work with the heroes of our community and make the approval process for the home of your dreams easy! We appreciate their dedication to supporting our mission!

Lakewood Beagles Come to FAPL!

Picture taken by local news station of several beagles outside.

The “Lakewood Beagle” case has been a hot topic in our local animal welfare community for the last couple of weeks. For those of you who may not be familiar with the case, Lakewood PD had been receiving multiple complaints about a terrible smell/deplorable conditions at a house in Lakewood. On December 20th, after numerous complaints, they were able to execute a search warrant, to which the police officers were shocked to discover 42 beagles living inside of the home. The conditions were so bad, the home was deemed inhabitable and the beagles were seized by Lakewood Animal Control. As you can imagine, unexpectedly taking in 42 beagles is never something a shelter can be prepared for. Lakewood Animal Control was filled to the brim with beagles, low on supplies to care for the incoming dogs and stuck in limbo until the case went to court. 

In court cases involving animals, until a decision in court has been made, the animals must remain at the shelter. This is because technically speaking, the dogs still belonged to the owner of the home they were taken from. Friendship APL Director Greg Willey is a lover of all animals, but has a particular soft spot for beagles. When word broke about the case involving the seizure of beagles, he immediately reached out looking to offer help to Lakewood Animal Control. Luckily, on Friday, January 6th the owner of the beagles pleaded guilty to multiple counts of animal cruelty. The guilty plea awarded all of the beagles to Lakewood Animal Control, which ultimately gave the beagles a chance to look for new homes! 

Friendship APL offered a helping hand, and transferred a total of 27 beagles into our care! That’s right, we will have a total of 27 beagles available for adoption, all who are deserving a second chance in a loving home! Before the beagles are available for adoption, they will receive any necessary vet care and they will be spayed/neutered. Our hope is that these beagles will never have to suffer again. We hope they will go off into wonderful homes and learn what it means to be a dog again. 

If you are interested in any of the beagles listed below, they will be posted to our website as they become available. We will not place any holds on any of the beagles in advance. Once they are posted as available, if you are interested, please come to our shelter during our open hours of Tuesday-Sunday 11am-4pm. No appointment is necessary. We are expecting these beagles will generate a significant response, which is why we ask that you just come to our shelter instead of calling/emailing. 

Supporters like you are what give us the ability to help other rescues and animals in need! Without your donations, we would not be able to medically care for 27 beagles. We would not be able to spay/neuter them, or advocate for their adoptions. We cannot say thank you to our supporters enough! If you would like to donate and continue to support our mission please go to the following link:

Say “No” to Declawing!

Article Written by staff member: Emily Gray

There is a worldwide debate on whether or not declawing cats should be banned. Most people question how humane the procedure is. An Onychectomy, or the declawing procedure, is an amputation of the last bone in each toe of a cat’s paws. You may not realize how detrimental a cat’s claws are to their everyday life. Cats use their claws to walk, scratch, release stress, affirm territory, exercise muscles, and so many more activities that make a cat, a cat. Cats are believed to scratch over 3,000 times in their lifetime. Declawed cats are witnessed going through the motions a clawed cat would go through, but without claws a cat misses out on the benefits of scratching. Scratching helps cats deposit their scent, keep nails short and shed claw sheaths, stretch and release “feel good” hormones, and relieve stress. Unlike most mammals that walk on their heels and soles, cats walk on their toes. Removing a cat’s claws can completely change their gait, make walking painful and change the way they live their lives. 

In addition to changed gait, there are many negative effects of declawing cats that make the procedure an inhumane process. Declawed cats experience extreme acute pain from the declawing procedure. In the short term, postoperative declawed cats may experience issues related to lameness, chewing at the paws, paw swelling, nail regrowth, excessive bleeding, infection, and persistent pain. This develops into long term pain that declawing can inflict. Physical issues such as chronic pain, arthritis, bone spurs and regrowth, nerve damage, and weight gain can result from declawing. Furthermore, declawing can lead to cats developing various behavioral problems. Cats generally reserve biting as a last resort defense mechanism. With other options, such as claws, removed, a cat may be left with no choice but to bite if they feel threatened. The persistent pain cats feel can be made worse by granules of litter becoming stuck within their paw pads. Declawed cats are at risk of associating their litter box with pain, as litter may become trapped in their already painful paw pads. This association may lead the cat to avoid the litter box entirely so as to not hurt their feet more. Declawed cats are at higher risk of barbering, or over grooming. Though many studies have found significantly higher barbering rates in declawed cats than in clawed cats, the reason for this expression of behavior is unknown. Some plausible explanations exist such as relieving stress or expressing pain.

So why is it that people declaw cats?

Some individuals may try to justify the declawing process for reasons such as elderly owners with thin skin, spread of zoonotic diseases through cat scratches, saving furniture, or trimming excess nails on a polydactyl cat. Despite these reasons, there are many possible

Example of claw caps that are glued to the cats nail.

solutions to this epidemic. Education on the concept of declawing is a key component in helping owners make the proper decision for their lifestyle as well as the well-being of their cat. On average around 20% of cat bites are said to become infected, and are statistically much more likely to spread zoonotic diseases than cat scratches. In order to hinder a cat’s ability to tear things while still giving them ample use of their claws, one option is claw caps. Claw caps are plastic covers that can painlessly prevent damage to furniture and skin, and are applied using a glue on the cat’s nails to adhere it. Giving cats scratching posts in optimum locations and made of various materials will give them an outlet to express themselves. Sprays exist as both attractants and deterrents. Using attractants on scratching posts can encourage a cat to use their claws in designated areas, and using deterrents can discourage a cat from scratching in areas where they are not supposed to scratch. Slipcovers and sofa savers can be a quick solution to cover anything that the cat is not supposed to scratch. Regular nail trims can be done at home or by a veterinarian in order to prevent long nails from snagging and will limit the cat from having to wear down their nails on their own by scratching. There are many humane alternatives to feline declawing.

How does declawing affect shelter cats? 

Declawed cats who are surrendered to shelters are significantly more fearful and one study found that declawed cats have a longer average stay than cats that are not declawed. Declawing bans in countries such as Europe have not seen a significant increase in cat surrenders since the declawing ban has been implemented. We see these statistics every day at Friendship APL. In a 2 year period from January 5, 2021 to January 5, 2023, Friendship APL saw 88 declawed cats arrive, ranging from ages 4 months to 16 years old. Of these declawed cats, 19 cats (21.6%) were returned to Friendship APL at least once. 11 declawed cats (12.5%) had a profile that mentioned “aggression”, while 10 declawed cats (11.4%) had a profile that mentioned “going outside of the litter box”. Of these cats, multiple experienced health problems associated with declawing, such as barbering or arthritic symptoms. Witnessing cats experience negative changes in quality of life after declawing, as well as educating oneself on the nature of declawing, brings the unnecessary nature of this elective procedure to light. The pain and trauma inflicted on cats that go through this procedure explains why more declawing bans are being implemented across the globe.

Hoss: A Home for a Hound

On August 31, 2022 our humane officers went out on a call about an emaciated dog tied up outside. When they arrived they found Hoss, a bluetick Coonhound. Hoss was found in a filthy outdoor pen, literally skin and bones. The water bowl in his outdoor cage was dirty and there was no food to be found. The 10-month-old hound puppy was so emaciated and dehydrated, he required emergency care at our partner veterinary clinic. Hoss stayed in our shelter, marked as unavailable because he had to go through weeks of scheduled feedings to help regain his weight back. It’s important that the scheduled feedings are done gradually or it can cause emaciated dogs to become very sick. In addition, we discovered Hoss was positive for Heartworm, something he probably came down with from living outside for most of his life. After about a month, Hoss was deemed healthy enough by our vet, neutered, and placed on the website as available for adoption! 

On October 20th, Hoss found a home and was adopted by a wonderful gentleman. Hoss’s adopter lived on his own, but had so much love to give to Hoss! He made sure Hoss came in for his follow up heartworm treatments and gave Hoss the time he needed to adjust to his new life in a new home! We have since reach out to Hoss’s adopter and this is how he described life with Hoss:

“Hoss is such a friendly, happy boy! I take him to the park every morning and sometimes, he even wakes me up with a leash in his mouth ready to go! Hoss loves to chase things (typical Coonhound) and play with all of his toys. When I originally adopted Hoss he had heartworm and only weighed 54 lbs. I am happy to report that he is now heartworm free and weighs a healthy 74 lbs! I cook Hoss 2 eggs for breakfast for him to eat with his dog food. My children spoiled Hoss with lots of toys for Christmas! He truly is a blessing. Hoss loves my daughter and granddaughter! I take him with me for truck rides and he absolutely loves them! I enjoy seeing his head and giant ears flopping out of the truck window. I enjoy his bark, which sounds like a broken fog horn, and his loud snores while I watch tv.”


FAPL loves to get these kinds of updates from adopters who are providing our animals with a lifetime of happiness! We like to remind all of our supporters that these stories would not happen without you! Thanks to your support, Hoss was able to heal — physically and emotionally — at Friendship APL. Today, he has a new home where he is safe and loved.

Wags to Riches 2023

The Friendship Animal Protective League is a private, non-profit humane shelter, which has been serving the animal welfare needs of Lorain County, Ohio for 60 years. Our organization assists over seven thousand orphaned cats, dogs and other companion animals every year. We provide food, shelter, and veterinary care, offering a second chance for these companion animals to find a new loving home.

As a 501(c)3 organization, we rely on the support and dedication of our local community, who believe in our mission, to help homeless animals find a new forever home. With your generosity, we can do more to educate the public about responsible pet ownership, reduce pet overpopulation through a vigorous spay/neuter program, and help animals receive the medical attention they desperately need. With your assistance, we can find forever homes for these pets, all of whom have so much love left to give.

We are seeking your support in the long-awaited return of Friendship APL’s:

                     Wags to Riches Casino Night


Many of the animals that come into the care of our organization suffer from a variety of illnesses and injuries requiring medical attention and treatment. Friendship APL ensures that every animal that needs this special care, gets the attention they require. From treating eye infections to leg amputations to truly miraculous surgical procedures, Friendship APL spent over $340,000 in 2022. Some of those expenses went toward animals you may be familiar with, including Padawan, Stevie, Shrek and Fiona. 

Wags to Riches will be held on Saturday, March 18th, 2023 at Tom’s Country Place in Avon, Ohio. The doors for the event will open at 6:30pm. This is a fun filled night with plenty of food and cocktail drinks (included in ticket purchase), casino games, raffle baskets, prizes, music and special appearances from VIP FAPL animal alumni! 

If you are unable to attend the event, you can help support our mission in other ways such as sponsorships, raffle basket donations and gift certificate donations. If you are interested in getting more information about supporting in other ways please email or call 440-322-4321 ext.229.

Nova’s Adoption Story

When we first got the email about Nova needing a place to go, we weren’t sure there would be a family out there for her. Her previous family was moving and unfortunately, like most families looking to surrender their animals, the place they were moving to did not allow her to go with them. Nova was not just a typical pit-bull mix coming to our shelter looking for a home. 

You see, Nova had a rare illness that caused her jaw muscles to slowly degenerate. Masticatory Muscle Myositis is the name of the condition that had left Nova barely able to open her mouth. Imagine trying to promote a dog for adoption, when potential adopters can barely pronounce the condition that is affecting her! 

First thing first, was taking Nova to the vet to have her looked at and given any medication she may need to live a happy and healthy life! It can be hard to find a home and committed adopter/family for a dog that may need medication for the rest of their life. Regardless, we were dedicated to making sure Nova found that special person, because she was a special dog. 

For two months Nova waited in her kennel, eagerly hoping that every day someone would choose her. She quickly became a staff and volunteer favorite. Nova made sure that whenever she passed the toy bin, one ended up in her mouth. Her tongue stuck out the side of her mouth, a result of her condition, but to everyone it just made her even cuter! Nova waited patiently at the shelter, and at one point came down with a cold that resulted in her taking a trip to the vet. Even after not finding a home, being on medication and not feeling well, Nova still was in good spirits and always loved being cuddly with everyone she met. Nova gave the sweetest kisses and walked so nicely for the volunteers. She even got to go off site a couple times, on trips to the park or for an ice cream cone.

On November 6th, a wonderful couple walked through our doors and specifically asked to see Nova. They had been watching our social media posts about her and were captivated by her story. Nova quickly charmed this couple, wowing them with her sweet and social personality. They were prepared to take Nova, even knowing she may need medication for her entire life. Nova walked out of the shelter, with a toy in her mouth, and never looked back!

We were able to follow up with Nova’s adopters and they have provided a wonderful update on her! Read their update below:

"Nova is such a special pup. It didn't take long at all for her to adjust to home life again or our schedules. At her first vet appointment they said she was underweight at 38 pounds and also had a small case of hook worms. Getting her to take her medication was no problem as she gobbles up her food. She has put back on some much needed weight and you can no longer see her ribs or spine. She's on a soupy slurry of kibble per her vet and seems to just love it. Nova can't get enough cuddles and loving in that's for sure. She got to experience her first winter camping trip and absolutely loved it! I can't wait to take her on more camping adventures. Nova absolutely loves her toys and must take them everywhere. She is super good with our friends and even met a few dog friends and did amazing. So incredibly happy we get to have Nova in our lives to spoil the world out of."

Padawan’s Miraculous Story

Have you ever been constipated? Imagine having to hold it for five weeks! A local veterinarian reached out to us in November concerning a small puppy brought to them to be euthanized. The veterinarian had everything drawn up to put the 5 week-old pup to sleep. With only minutes of Padawan’s life left, his veterinarian made a call to Friendship APL. 

The vet explained to us that the puppy had a congenital birth defect that had left him unable to defecate. This meant that for his first 5 weeks of life, Padawan had not passed any stool through his system. It was a miracle that he was still alive. As you can imagine, this had done some damage to his internal organs. His intestinal tract was very inflamed. Padawan’s colon was extremely distended. The veterinarian asked if we (FAPL) would be willing to take on this little guy and get him the specialized surgery he would need to survive. Of course, we said yes. 

We immediately rushed Padawan to Metropolitan Animal Hospital. While he was snuggled in our arms, he looked up at us with those big eyes and we knew we had made the right decision. Paddy would spend over a week at the hospital undergoing several surgeries to repair all the damage that had been done. In addition to the surgeries done to repair damage to his system, Padawan was also subjected to a surgery that essentially rebuilt his rectum, making it possible for him to pass stool. Padawan then went to a wonderful foster home, where he continued to heal and learn to be a puppy. 

It was touch and go those first few weeks in foster care. We were not sure if the surgery had been completely successful and it took some time to find a diet that worked for Padawan’s digestive system. But after a few trips to the emergency room, his foster family was able to hit on the right diet that would enable him to fully heal and have a semblance of a normal life. 

It is hard to believe that Padawan came so close to euthanasia… We are all about second chances at Friendship APL, but this puppy was desperately in need of a first chance. These miracles are what make this job worthwhile.

Padawan is a happy, healthy puppy now! He will return to the shelter and soon be available for adoption!

Shrek and Fiona: Happily Ever After

Fiona and Shrek came to Friendship Animal Protective League needing immediate Veterinary care. This brother, sister duo had been found as stray dogs. They both appeared to be around 5 months old and both of them appeared to have had broken legs. Knowing there was no time to waste, FAPL took Shrek and Fiona to one of our partner vets to be checked out.

The broken legs Shrek and Fiona had both appeared to have been old injuries, that healed the wrong way. Unfortunately, this meant neither of their legs could be saved. At the age of 5 months old, Shrek and Fiona had to have their front right leg amputated as that would be the only way to provide them long term comfort. While it remains a mystery how both these pups 

suffered the same fracture to the same leg at the same time, they were turned in as strays so we never found out. While possible abuse is always the assumption, what we did know is that both pups were safe with us, eager for love and affection and patiently were waiting for a new home!  

November 4th proved to be a lucky day for both pups, as their new adopters walked through the door. Shrek and Fiona both were adopted, into separate homes, by families who had seen their stories on our social media. Both dogs seems to be adjusting into their new homes and they each had their sutures removed are all healed from their amputation procedures! 

Below you can enjoy the update Fiona’s new family provided on how she is doing:

“Fiona is amazing!! We actually renamed her Nala, because she is beautiful and strong! Nala already had a vet appointment to get her sutures and staples out. Here are some pictures of how she is doing in her new home. Thank you so much for taking care of her!”

Pupdate: Hipless Jay Jay now has Hips!

As posted in a previous article, written by Greg Willey, you learned that Jay Jay has a special place in our hearts (Getting “Hip” at Friendship APL). He has been through a lot, being 6 months old, hobbling around without any hips, and enduring two hip replacement surgeries. But Jay Jay has had a wonderful family, to call his own, that has without a doubt been an instrumental part of his recovery process. Now that both surgeries have been finished, and Jay Jay is almost completely recovered, enjoy his adoption story written by the couple that adopted him:

“Since the day I was born, I have always had a dog. They are truly a part of my family.  When I got married, we had 2 dogs in our little home. Sadly, our girls both passed away. One of them only a few days before we moved to our new home. We were both devastated by her loss.  

Jay Jay doing what he does best, snuggling!

I was without a dog for 2 years before I told my husband that I was ready for a another.  It had to be the right dog for us.  I am a physical therapist.  I was at my desk one day when a dog profile came in a message for my husband. He may be the perfect dog for us.  Jay Jay needed bilateral hip replacements.  My dream job is to be a PT for dogs.  We met him the next day, and it was love at first sight. I remember sitting in the shelter waiting for them to get Jay for us to meet him. I was so nervous. Eric asked me what was wrong, I said, “ what if Jay Jay doesn’t like us?”  Turns out Jay loves everyone.  We met the sweetest dog on the planet. They told us that it would be a long road because of the surgeries that he would need. He needed a loving home that he could come to and recuperate and a family to show him the love he deserves. What I didn’t know that day was that we needed him as much as much as he needed us.  He brings us so much joy and happiness. He turned a year old a few months ago and has been through so much in his life, and despite all of that, he is a snuggle monster.  Every morning and everyday after work when we open his crate, he runs right to the couch for 

Jay Jay is always eager to go on walks!

snuggling.  He wants to get a good snug in before he will go outside.  If you ever have the chance to experience it, I promise, it will be the highlight of your day.  But be careful, he is aggressive with his snuggling. 

Now that he is in his final stages of

 his recovery and walking up to an hour at a time, it is hard to keep him from being on the go All The Time!  He loves to walk and wants to be outside. We could be home five minutes, and he wants to go again.

I recently had to have a minor surgery that has put me on the couch with him for a while.  It is nothing compared to what this guy has been through, but he has been the sweetest. He has been so gentle with me. It is like he knows what I am going through.  I was there for him, and now it is his turn.  

Soon, we will both be recuperated.  We will be ready for anything!  He is a true gift to our lives and we are so thankful for him.”

Stevie’s Adoption Story

Stevie was found with bad infections in both eyes, leaving him blind.

Stevie’s story is one of resilience when the odds were stacked against his favor. A good Samaritan found Stevie as a stray kitten, all by himself, at only a few weeks old. Not knowing how to care for a kitten that young, the good Samaritan brought him to our shelter. Staff knew upon arrival that the odds were not in Stevie’s favor and that his mother probably abandoned him. Most mother animals abandon their young when they can sense they have been with special needs, and do not have a high chance of survival, which refers to the term “survival of the fittest”. Stevie arrived blind, with two severe eye infections that likely would not resolve with basic antibiotics. Being at the shelter, exposed to other diseases, would only risk his health further, so staff determined Stevie needed a foster. And so his story begins:

“I saw a post on FAPL’s Foster Page on August 31st, 2022 that a foster was needed for one blind kitten. I thought “Great!” One kitten compared to the five bottle

babies I had recently finished fostering. “This will be easy!” And Stevie was easy in most ways except that he seemed lonely. He had bouts with intestinal parasites, which were treated by FAPL, and once he had his vaccines he was able to be with my other two 6 month old kittens,

Stevie relaxing on a warm blanket at his foster, now adopters, house!

both FAPL alumni. Stevie was for the most part completely blind. His left eye is basically non-existent and the right badly damaged and cloudy.  I never asked what happened to him because it didn’t matter to me at that point, I knew he needed help. So for several weeks he and I had our daily routine of warm compresses and medicated drops, which he hated! He was switched over to an eye ointment after seeing the vet at Friendship towards the end of September. He tolerated the eye ointment much better. At that point it was highly advised that we have both of Stevie’s eyes removed due to a potential lifetime of infections. I already knew at that time that he was going to stay with us permanently. My husband grew quite fond of him, as did I of course, but Stevie seems to respond more to Jim’s voice than to mine. As time has gone on we’ve watched him grow in so many ways, not just size. I believe even now Stevie retains a tiny bit of sight and it seems just enough to navigate his surroundings. At first he would just hug walls and table legs and follow our voices. After a few weeks one of my other cats, Ghost, started behaving like a ‘service’ cat. He would veer Stevie off of incorrect courses and make sure he stayed in a trajectory to cause as little harm as possible. I’ve actually seen Ghost head Stevie off from the basement stairs, as we’ve yet to practice that technique. I knew if anybody was perfect for this kitten and his needs it was me and I already felt very committed to him.

Stevie posing for a photo, so he can be the star of our December marketing campaign!

Every animal is unique, and Stevie is no different. My husband and I love to watch him experience new things, and in different ways than ‘normal’ animals. It’s funny because he doesn’t even know that he is a special needs animal and the rest of the household, two cats and two large dogs, seem to accept him for what his normal is. Our morning routine is to sit in our sunroom and have coffee and watch the great outdoors. I will open the window and let Stevie sit on the ledge so he can enjoy it as well. Since he really can’t see he uses his other senses. His ears are always twitching and his nose goes straight into the air. He takes in all the scents that waft in from the window and he knows when he hears birds, but of course doesn’t really know what they look like! Stevie seems to know which dog is which when he approaches them, they are very different dogs, and he knows how far he can go with them. The dogs sense his disability as well, since he tends to skid into them a LOT!  The dogs tolerate all the cats quite well but they also have a special place for Stevie.

Animals are truly resilient creatures and are able to move forward not even knowing they are lacking in some ways. Stevie just goes about his day like any other kitten. He plays, he sleeps, enjoys the sunshine and climbs two feet to his cage door when he’s hungry! I have to feed him in his cage as the other two are little pigs and will eat all his food otherwise. But he has his routine, and it seems to work for him. He will be seeing Dr. Knox at the end of November for vaccines, a checkup and to evaluate his eye situation. As of right now wetting drops and the occasional antibiotic ointment is keeping his eyes from getting infected.  I found that fostering kittens was extremely rewarding in itself but fostering/adopting a special needs animal is extremely enriching to the soul. Just to watch the changes and feel the love that he has for us is extraordinary.”

This truly is a heartwarming story about a blind kitten finding his fur-ever home! It also brings attention to how becoming a volunteer or a foster can get you involved with our shelter in so many different ways. Stevie’s new mom, can now volunteer, foster and adopter to her FAPL Resume!

Pet Insurance is the Way to Go!

    Do you remember the day that your new pet came home? You found the right animal for you or your family. You get them home, they investigate their new place; so many new smells, new sounds, and new commands. It’s the best day ever! You picked out the right toys, foods, treats, bowls, blankets, and beds just for them. You don’t just treat your new member as an animal, but you baby them, you love them. Unfortunately,  there is one thing we don’t think of until it’s too late. Accidents, illnesses, and injuries are all inevitable especially when bringing a new animal home. Visiting the vet, or emergency after-hours animal hospitals can be costly. Due to the increasing veterinary bill costs, too often, owners simply cannot afford what their animal may need. Owners are then daunted by the decision to have to surrender their animal to a shelter in order for the animal to receive the care it needs. In most cases, surrendering your beloved pet means you will not get them back after they are treated. Other times, vets will even suggest euthanizing the pet if the owner is not able to afford its care. Both of these options are heartbreaking for owners to have to make. Pet insurance is an option all pet owners should sign up for, especially with the ever rising vet costs. 

     Animal insurance is a must nowadays. Similarly to people insurance, we have insurance for ourselves and our families, there is also insurance for our animals! Pet insurance is generally offered by most of your “people” insurance carriers. Pet insurance generally requires a reasonable monthly payment, and then when needed, can help with the cost of treatment/procedures that can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. After researching online, we have discovered there are a variety of insurances that are available on the market. When choosing the company and the plan, you must read the fine print. As with us, many plans do not cover pre-existing conditions. This is also why it is so important to get pet insurance the moment you adopt or add a new animal to your family. For some plans, there is a waiting period before the insurance goes into effect. For most insurance plans, the cost of the insurance depends on the age and breed(s) of your animal. We’ve also discovered that for each animal, you will want to choose a wellness plan and an insurance plan. The wellness plan is a good choice for every animal you own. This plan is a small monthly fee of, on average, $20.00-$40.00. The wellness plan does have co-pays, but when you compare those costs to a regular visit, you will be saving money. When it comes to insurance plans, this is one of those choices you will need to make, depending on your animal. After speaking to a representative for one of the pet insurance businesses listed below, they mentioned that it’s best to get insurance if you get a breed of animal that is prone to health issues. An example of breeds that are prone to health issues include Great Danes with the flipping of their stomachs, German Shepherds with elbow or hip dysplasia issues, etc. If you have an animal that acts like a couch potato, you may not need pet insurance and opt only for the wellness plan. All this to say, prices will vary on what you choose, whom you choose for insurance and the number of animals you own. 

     What we do know is pet insurance is a plentiful resource pet owners should be using. It has the ability to say many pet owners’ money and heartbreak. When choosing your pet insurance, be sure to do your research. Read about the insurance and call and speak to a representative if you have any questions. Not all pet insurances are the same. Some will require you to pay upfront at the time of service and then be reimbursed a specific percent after. Other insurances will have you pay a copay and they will pay the rest to the vet directly. Below are some pet insurances we have researched and think are worth looking into: 

Lemonade (click to go to website)

Offers: Accident, Illness, and Wellness Plan

ManyPets (click to go to website)

Offers: Accident, Illness, and Wellness Plan


Offers: Accident, Illness, and Wellness Plan


Offers: Accident, Illness, and Wellness Plan

CarePlus by Chewy 

Offers: Illness, Accident, and Wellness Plan

Adding a New Dog to your Pack

Adding a New Dog to your Pack

Are you considering adding a dog to your pack? Becoming a multi-dog household can be a very enriching experience for both you and the dogs. However, not all dogs want to share their family or space with other dogs and that’s okay. Additionally, just like people would rather avoid some other humans, dogs feel that way about some other dogs. It’s a matter of finding the right match and introducing the new dog to the pack slowly. While this may take some extra effort and steps, it is necessary if you want to ensure the easiest transition. Making sure you take the time and necessary steps to introduce a new dog into your home may help prevent any fear-based or aggressive reactions from occuring. Hopefully, some of the information in this article will be helpful in integrating your new canine into the family. 

Where to Start Introduction:

It’s important to understand the difference between two dogs meeting on neutral territory versus an established territory. Neutral territory is a place that neither dog has established as their own. An example of neutral territory would be a park. Established territory is a place that either one of the dogs have established as their own such as the dog’s house. When introducing a new dog to your pack, the initial introduction needs to take place on neutral territory. This will give both dogs a fair chance to get to know one another without the pressure of being on one of their established territories. 

First impressions can make or break the desired canine ‘friendship’.  Make sure to have the dogs meet for the first time on neutral territory. One way to introduce dogs on a neutral territory is to casually meet up for a walk together or at a park-like secured area – NOT A DOG  PARK. When introducing one of the dogs at the shelter to a resident dog in the home, we allow the dogs to meet on leash first and then walk them together to a fenced in yard. Having a friend or other family member walking the new dog and a favored family member(s) walking the resident dog(s) is a good idea as well. The trick is to allow the dogs to meet and acknowledge one another without throwing them into a home with one another and expecting the best. 

What to Watch For:

Knowing what appropriate and inappropriate dog body languages are is important when introducing two dogs to one another. Behaviors that people tend to associate as positive, are not always the case and vice versa. So what body language should you look for?

  • Loose body movements and muscles
  • Relaxed open mouths
  • Play bows or other playful posturing
  • Tail Wagging
  • Stiff, slow body movements
  • Hair standing up on the back
  • Tensed mouth or teeth-baring
  • Growls
  • Vocal Barking
  • Prolonged staring

The above behaviors are just some common ones to keep an eye out for. Loose body movements, relaxed open mouths, play bows/gestures, tail wagging etc. are all positive body languages dogs can be exhibiting during a meet. Stiff, slow body movements, hair standing up, tense mouth, baring teeth, clenched or chattering jaw/teeth, growls and prolonged staring are all body languages that should urge you to proceed with caution during the introduction or stop the introduction altogether. It is also important that you are not rushing and interpreting the body language wrong. Things like wagging tails, vocalness, hair standing up can all be both good and bad body languages, they are not just simply one or the other. 

As dog owners, we tend to have an attachment to our animals and have an urge to protect them, especially when introducing them to an unknown dog. We, as people, feel we know our dog best. What you may not realize is that in feeling this way, you may be projecting anxiety and fear onto your dog during a meet and greet. An example of this is owners holding onto their dogs leash extremely tight and pulling the dog back from going up to the dog they are meeting. Your dog is typically going to sense the tension you are projecting and can cause your dog to react negatively. Making sure you go into a meet and greet confidently, holding your dog’s leash with a lot less tension and keeping the leash loose are important tips for a successful dog to dog introduction. 

VOCALNESS is OKAY! Another tip, and something I cannot stress enough is to allow both dogs to communicate with each other. Some dogs are vocal, some are not. Some dogs get excited to meet other dogs and can show this excitement by being vocal. It is okay for your dog or the other dog to be vocal when first meeting one another. Vocalness does not always mean aggression. Unlike people when they first meet, dogs are unable to talk and say words. When first meeting, people generally say hello, or are able to express when they are uncomfortable. When  a dog is meeting another dog and they are vocal, they are doing just what us people would do when first meeting someone, expressing how they feel! An example of this is an overly excited male dog, barking to express his interest in meeting another dog coming toward him. If the other dog is uncomfortable with how overly excited the male dog is coming across, you might hear a “correction bark”. This is simply the dog’s way of communicating that it is uncomfortable and that the male dog needs to back off. That interaction is okay, and as owners, it is necessary for you to let this take place. As long as the dogs respect the corrections each other is giving, the introduction between those dogs can continue. 

Moving from Neutral Territory to Establish Territory

Once the initial introduction has taken place on neutral territory and all seems to be going well, you can take the steps to introduce both dogs to each other in the home. Remember, this is your resident dog’s territory and you are expecting he/she to accept a new dog into their space. This introduction needs to be done slowly. Just because both dogs got along on neutral territory does not mean they are instantly going to get along in an established territory such as a home. A good tip is to introduce both dogs as described above, in the backyard. This is a good step to get the dogs comfortable with one another before bringing them inside. Before bringing the new dog home, establish a separate area for the new dog. Ideally, this would be a gated area but can also be a crate. This area should be for the new dog, if both dogs become overwhelmed during their introduction inside the home. It is a space for the new dog to have as theirs and so your resident dog does not feel threatened. Bring the new dog into the house alone but still leashed. Let the dog sniff around the house, find the food and water, etc. Show them their safe space (crate or room). Just like humans typically use their bedrooms to ‘escape’, domestic animals need this type of space too. Before bringing the resident dog(s) in, remove any food bowls, beds and high value items from the floor and put the new dog in the confined area. Let the resident dog in. If there are multiple resident dogs, let only one in at a time for the initial inside the home introduction. Allow the dogs to meet through the gate or crate. Let them spend time ‘talking’ through the gaps. Do this for each resident dog being introduced. If growling occurs, do not correct the growling – this is how dogs communicate. (However, do not reward the growling either by trying to comfort the dog). Remove the resident dog from the area. If the resident dog was the offender, tire them out and try later. If the new dog was the offender, allow the new dog more time to decompress. They could be exhausted, overwhelmed, scared, etc. Let them feel safe. This could take a few days. Do not rush the introduction. It might be easier to create a visual barrier for a while so the dogs can smell each other but not see each other. 

Once all are introduced, leave the new dog in its separate area and let the resident dog(s) in just like normal. Go about your normal routine incorporating separate time for the new dog also.  When it comes time to feed, feed the new dog separately. This is so that the resident dog(s) do not feel their food source is being threatened and the new dog doesn’t feel like they have to compete for food. You will have to learn how the new dog indicates he needs to use the bathroom, so for the first few days, treat them as though you are house training them. 

If still going well, leash both dogs and bring the new dog into the resident dogs’ area. If all is still looking good, drop the resident dog’s leash (if multiple, do this step one dog at a time). LEaving the leashes on the dogs will give you as the owner more control of the situation. If the introduction were to go wrong, it gives you something to grab ahold of (the leash) instead of getting caught between two dogs who are fighting. As long as things are continuing to go well, drop the new dog’s leash and monitor the interactions. Dogs will indicate their displeasure with other dogs with body language indicated above. 

Introduction periods between dogs take a variable amount of time. No two dogs are the same and the introduction process may have to start over multiple times before the dogs get comfortable with one another. Sometimes the integration process goes smoothly. It all depends. Do not punish the behaviors but do not reward them either. Give this process at least 15 days before deciding the dogs will not integrate. Even if all has been sunshine and roses, you still need to monitor their interactions and they should not be left alone together in the house for extended periods. You can crate or gate the new dog for a while until you’re comfortable with their interactions. It would be best to start with short absences to see how things go if you leave all dogs free in the home. 

An Adoption Story: Maverick

This was a picture of Miracle in a volunteers lap when he was awaiting his forever home at the shelter.

Everyone loves a feel good adoption story, and that is just what we have for you below! Miracle came to our shelter on September 5th after being seized in a humane case. He was a young adult cat with beautiful long gray fur, but something wasn’t right with Miracle’s back legs. Upon further examination by our medical staff, we learned that he was missing a back paw and his other back leg was not fully developed, which gave the appearance of a chicken wing. We believe he was born this way and despite his disability, was still able to live a normal, happy life. Miracle was a typical young adult cat, eager to play and spend time with volunteers. It didn’t take him long to open up and show his true self to the staff and volunteers that cared for him every day. We knew we had to find a special adopter for this special cat. Miracle, now known as Maverick, was adopted by former Board Member and President Deb. And so this adoption story begins: 

“We lost our first cat Mellow, who was adopted 10 years ago from FAPL, to cancer in April. He was the most loveable unique cat you could ever meet. We never thought we would get another cat because we already have three more from FAPL. Two of which, Misty and Max, have special needs and our third cat is Mya.

I saw a post made by one of the staff at Friendship, Katie, who described Miracle’s story. While we were not in the market for a new cat,when we saw Katie’s post we were drawn to this little gray guy. Plus he had a name beginning with M……which fits right in. He has some personality similarities to our cat Mellow.. who we miss every day and will never be replaced. I wonder if he was sent to us from our cat Mellow in heaven. Was Mellow trying to tell us from afar that we needed to help this little kitty? I don’t know. I have read a lot of books about signs from pets in the afterlife. I feel Mellow is now watching over Miracle/Maverick. Whatever it was that drew us to him, we eventually decided to visit Miracle at the shelter. 

Having a special needs cat was not something new to us. We have a tripod, Misty from FAPL, who is now 8, we have a cat, Max from FAPL, that was thrown from a car who had back and leg issues and he is now 6. Our third cat, Mya– well she is the sweetest and just a normal cat. No issues.

Miracle stretching and relaxing, knowing he is out of the shelter and in a home!

My husband Jerry and I visited Miracle twice and asked Katie a lot of questions. We also saw volunteer Marsha in the room with him and how he interacted with her. He was so sweet and just wanted to be held. We decided he needed to leave the shelter to give him an opportunity for a better life. Currently Miracle seems to have adapted to his surroundings and overcome his challenges. He loves to sit with us and cuddle and also play and explore. 

We changed his name because I love Tom Cruise and Maverick was a big hit this year…not to mention he needed a strong ‘M’ name in our house.

When people want to adopt from a shelter they overlook the handicap animals and the ones who have issues, which is really sad because they do make great pets. Some people may not want to spend the time or money that it takes to care for a special needs animal. They are capable of so much love if given the chance. To us we just see a loving animal who needs a home that someone else may not provide. We have a quiet home and the ability to provide him with a loving home and access to the care he needs and of course all the toys and food and freedom he wants.”

After spending some weeks with Deb, let’s hear how he has been doing!:

“From the time he got to our house Maverick sure has gotten a lay of the land fast. He is a persistent little guy. Very persistent. He only stayed in the playpen for two days and then decided he wanted to be an explorer of anything and everything. He’s figured out how to get up and down steps and climb a large cat tree all with only two front legs. He doesn’t let that stop him. I don’t think he knows any different. He gets around very well. Plus we have all hardwood floors so it’s a lot easier than carpet for him. I noticed in the basement where we have carpet he uses the back stump he has more. He can’t slide around on it. 

Maverick showing off the fact that his disability doesn’t stop him!

He is a great mouser. Loves to play and keep himself entertained. He found the ball tower and loves that too. He is also a big cuddle bug but right now he has a case of the zoomies. Lol. He figured out right away he has cat mates and he is trying to make friends but they are still not so sure. We still have some hissing and growling but nothing else yet. He goes right up to the others anyway. No fear. I am probably guessing that he had cat friends where he was and he can’t figure out why these three are not his friends yet. 

Maverick has discovered that he loves wet food. Sheba and Rachel Ray are his favorite right now.  We have an orthopedic vet appointment in a week to look at that bone sticking out on the left that he doesn’t use. Considering his crappy first few months of life he seems adjusted and he is doing very well in his new environment. There are so many toys and play rooms here.  Plus it’s quiet, which has to be a big change from his previous living conditions.”


Maverick and his story is a prime example of cats having nine lives. He was born an outcast but has overcome this disability and is now thriving in his new home. This is why we think it is so important to give special needs animals a chance. They are all adoptable and capable of living normal lives, when given a chance.