Category Archives: Stories

A Family Affair

by Gregg Senko

Friendship APL is like a bee hive.  You can see a lot of activity from the outside, but that’s a mere fraction of what is actually taking place inside, and not only in the FAPL building itself, but the care and aid that goes on elsewhere for FAPL.  I recently had the pleasure of speaking with FAPL volunteer extraordinaire, Belinda McElhannon.  The story would be incomplete if I were to only mention Belinda’s contribution to the shelter, though.  There’s not one, not two, but…well, maybe it’s better if I let you read on to get to know this awesome family…

 

Gregg: It sounds like there’s more than one of you who help out at Friendship APL. How many in your household participate and who does what? ​

Belinda: There are four of us that volunteer regularly at FAPL. Valerie, my oldest daughter (does not live at home) is a member of the board and started out ​by volunteering to walk dogs on Saturday morning. Justin, my son, also volunteers for dog walking and special events and is a huge help in fostering at home. Abby, my youngest is the most dedicated and walks dogs, works special events, participates on the MPR committee and is also a huge help in fostering the animals in our home. I am the fourth volunteer, walking dogs at the shelter on a weekly basis, fostering, working special events and in the past have helped Greg with taking animals down to Fox 8 to be on with Dick Goddard.

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Gregg: How long have you guys been volunteering at FAPL? ​

Belinda: Since July of 2011.​

(left to right) Justin, Abby, Belinda and Valerie

Gregg: Which one of you was the first to get drawn toward FAPL’s cause? How did it play out from there? ​

Belinda: Valerie was the first to discover FAPL. She had just lost her dog in June and went to a dog washing event at the United Church of Christ and met Mary who was representing FAPL at the time. Valerie wanted to channel her grief and thought volunteering at FAPL would be the way to move on from a very difficult loss. She took Abby and Justin with her the first few times and then I joined in at the beginning of September. And from there, it has become a second family for all of us. As we continued to volunteer at FAPL we found our family at home growing. When we started volunteering we had one dog of our own that we adopted from the Cleveland APL. We then adopted the rest of our four legged kids from FAPL. A bassett in January of 2012, a bassett in May of 2013, a beagle mix in November of 2013 (she was a puppy mill dog that was a foster failure), and a husky/shepherd mix in May of 2015.

Our first fosters actually came to stay with us right away in September of 2011. It was a humane case that was expected to drag on for quite some time, and it did. We fostered two of six very special dogs from September of 2011 until June 2nd of 2012. From there we continued to walk dogs every Saturday morning, foster puppies for 4 years and started fostering kittens in May of 2016 and have been fostering kittens only ever since. Our first kitten was another foster failure. And our fourth foster kitten was a foster failure. So now we have a very well rounded home to foster kittens in and they become well adjusted to cats, kittens, dogs and a variety of people. We have fostered 27 kittens in a fifteen month period. We had as many as 12 kittens in our home in May and June and the joy they brought to the house was priceless. ​

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Gregg: In regard to fostering, how easy is it to separate any emotional attachment when it comes time to return the animal to the shelter or to a forever home?

Belinda: Fostering is fun, time-consuming at times, rewarding, challenging and sad. The hardest part is taking them back but I know it has to be done. I have to focus on the good that comes from fostering like the 24/7 love and care they get in a home setting and keeping them out of the shelter where kittens are extremely susceptible to disease and get sick quite easily. Kittens are easily entertained with each other and also by themselves. Bottle feeding the young, tiny kittens is rewarding to see them grow and thrive because you are able to help them along. That is where my children have been a tremendous help.

Feeding five little kittens is time consuming and goes much faster with help. There are times when a kitten has to be quarantined from the rest of the house hold and that is where my son Justin is a great help. He houses the quarantine kittens in his room making sure they get all the love and attention they need until they can be introduced back into the rest of the house. We also experienced our first loss while fostering back in July. Not an easy time and only makes me appreciate the staff at FAPL and all that they go through on a daily basis. ​

 

Gregg: As a family, what is your most memorable cat or dog moment related to FAPL? ​

Belinda: After fostering for 6 years, there are many memorable moments. If I had to choose one dog moment it would be Lucy. She is a beagle/bulldog mix that came from a basement breeder. She arrived with roughly 24 other dogs in February of 2013. These dogs lived their lives in cages and didn’t know what it was like to be on a leash or what grass was. By April of 2013 all the dogs except for Lucy were adopted. She was extremely scared and thin and we brought her home to foster her. She sat under our kitchen table for 2 days and would not move. It took months to gain her trust and to this day (4 years later) she is still very skiddish. It’s been rewarding to see her come out of her shell, learn what her voice is and respond to the love and attention she gets in our home. (Yes, she was a foster failure.) My most memorable kitten foster…they have all been special, they are all unique and each have their own story to tell.

Abby, Dick Goddard and Justin at the Fox 8 studio

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Here is a massive thank-you to the McElhannon clan for their gigantic hearts and astounding efforts throughout the year.  If I ever become a mad scientist, you’ll be at the top of my list of people to clone.  You guys rock!

Disasters & Pet Preparedness

by Gregg Senko

The recent damage caused by Hurricane Harvey was catastrophic. The city of Houston received about nine months of rainfall in a span of 48 hours, and as we’ve all seen from the photos and video on the news, the dry landscape turned into an aquatic one. However, while damage can be repaired and buildings can be rebuilt, the loss of life, both human and animal, cannot be returned.  Although we do not face the pitfalls of hurricanes here in Northeast Ohio, it is entirely possible we could receive the precipitation aftermath, thus causing flooding. Let’s not forget the always real danger we face in the form of tornadoes and even the rare but possible earthquakes that have occurred here in the past.

While we as people can take actions to ready ourselves in case of disasters, natural or man-made, our pets cannot do the same.  They rely on us to provide the same readiness and care for them as we do for ourselves.  Just as you would for yourself, have a bag or rucksack ready to go filled with the essentials.  Think about what the needs are of your animal.  While we are all pridefully guilty of pampering our pets, please keep in mind that in the case of an emergency it is completely irrelevant what your cat or dog normally prefers to eat.  Have canned food on hand, make sure their collar is on (with tags) and have a leash on hand.  Don’t forget bottled water either.  It’s best not to make them rely on outdoor puddles or others for help.  Puddles can be bacteria-infested and you never know if and when help will show.  As my mother told me once, “Plan for the worst, hope for the best.”

A few months back I wrote a story about getting your pets microchipped.  As the famous Nike slogan states, just do it.  Make sure that chip is registered and activated too, otherwise that defeats the whole purpose of the chip itself.  In the case you do get separated from your pet, you want to make certain all aspects are in place to reunite you with the animal.  Finally, do not forget their medications.  There’s actually a new requirement in the State of Ohio regarding pet prescriptions stating that customers must provide the veterinary clinic with at least a 24-notice for a refill. In short, don’t be the person that waits until the medicine is gone, then show up at the clinic making demands.

Whether you call it your go-bag, your ready bag or your bug-out bag, make sure you have one on hand for your pet just as you would for yourself.  If these do not exist in your home, it’s definitely a good idea to buy a pre-packaged one or make your own.  Just buy a simple backpack and fill it with the necessary items.  It should also go without saying to keep your pets with you during an evacuation.  While that probably sounds like “no duh” advice, I still have to mention it after seeing photos of dogs tied to trees and poles in the rising waters of Houston.  Do everything right and you will increase the chances that you and your animal companion make it out safely together with the supplies to survive the immediate hours thereafter.

September Adoption Events & Poker Run!

While the weather is still warm, you can bet we are going to make the most of it. With three events slated for September, there is still plenty of time to get out and enjoy the sun while helping out the Friendship APL.  First up will be this Saturday, September 2nd.  Stop by Crocker Park in Westlake as our “Adopt & Shop” event will be underway.  It will take place from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm in front of the Regal Cinema.  The event will be a great opportunity to shmooz with some of our animals, donate to FAPL and take advantage of some giveaways.

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Next is the Purr-mier Adoption Event on Saturday, September 9th at Premier Toyota in Amherst.  Bring the family as there will be hot dogs, refreshments, a 50/50 raffle and pick-a-prize raffles.  Did I mention free adoptions?  If you have been thinking of adding a new member to the family in the form of a cat or a dog, this will be a great opportunity for you!

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Lastly, on Sunday, September 17th, Lake Erie Harley Davidson’s annual Dog Gone Poker Run will take place once again as this is a fan favorite of many volunteers and donors!  The event will run from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm beginning at Lake Erie Harley in Avon.  Contact Lake Erie Harley Davidson for more details at 440-934-5000.

It Starts with ABC

by Gregg Senko

No, this isn’t a lesson in the characters of the alphabet. On the contrary, this is about one of the friendliest helping hands that Friendship APL has received in the last year, and by ABC, I’m referring to the Avon Brewing Company. This family-owned business is still relatively new, and ironically enough, their one-year anniversary is today, August 26, 2017.  The quartet that started the establishment certainly had a daunting task in front of them as the undertaking for a bar and restaurant is no simple feat.  Let’s get to know the guys behind the operation first.

Ken Weaver is an Avon Lake school teacher of 37 years.  His son-in-law, Mathias Hauck, is also a teacher with a background in restaurant management.  Then there’s Dan Weaver and finally Brian Weaver who brings the culinary flare to the table.  Brian was previously the executive chef at Gusto Ristorante Italiano in Cleveland’s Little Italy and then went onto help open Luca, a much sought-after fine dining restaurant, also in Cleveland.  With Brian’s drive, an impressive chef resumé and the work ethic of Ken, Dan and Mathias, the ingredients were laid out to deliver a successful local bar and eatery.

So how did good brew and grub make it to an animal shelter’s website?  The Avon Brewing Company, aside from an impressive beer list and menu which I’ll get to in a moment, has a very generous mentality.  Outside of an aim to deliver a good product, the company also has made it a point to give back to the community.  Once a month, they donate to one charitable organization.  Friendship APL just happens to have been the only recipient more than once.  Their generosity toward FAPL has its roots in co-owner Mathias.  In some capacity or another, he’s been helping out with FAPL for 12 years now.  Whether it is donating money, time or educating others on what we do, Mathias has not forgotten what we stand for.

Outside of the owners, there’s also a certain bartender/server at Avon Brewing Company who’s not afraid to sing our praises.  Ryan has a large part of his heart reserved for the welfare of animals.  Like Mathias, he’s not afraid to stand up for cats and dogs in need, which we greatly appreciate.  Plus, it’s always good to know there’s more animal lovers out there keeping an eye out for homeless pooches and felines.  So now that you’ve got the 411 on how ABC knows FAPL, let me give you the FYI on their M-E-N-U.  Hey, I like my suspense to come to an end.  You didn’t think I was going to tell you how good Avon Brewing Company’s food and drink was without going into detail, did you?  It’s like a past co-worker told me, “There are two kinds of people.  Those who eat to live and those who live to eat.”  I can confidently tell you I’m the latter.

Their patio with privacy fence provides an enjoyable outdoor dining experience.

First, it can be argued that their beer is their calling card.  After all, it was a big reason the four aforementioned gentlemen came up with the Avon Brewing Company.  You don’t commit to home brewing for 15 years and not learn anything.  These guys are innovative, so while you can certainly order a Great Lakes or Coors Light, I highly recommend leaving the comfort of what you know from store shelves and go off the reservation.  Family is a significant aspect of these guys’ lives, so it’s no surprise they named a beer after it, the Ohana Wheat to be exact. ‘Ohana’ is Hawaiian for ‘family’ and from Hawaii come pineapples.  Create a marriage of wheat beer and a hint of pineapple and you’ve got yourself a winner.  There’s also the Barista Blonde, a coffee-flavored pilsner which I found to be quite awesome, and the Verde Gold, a green chile-infused golden ale.  The list doesn’t stop there though.  At any given time they have 13 beers on tap with a total of 21 on the day of their one-year anniversary.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking.  “So you like the beer, Gregg.  I can’t live off of stouts and ales though.  Tell me about the food!”  Hey I was getting there.  I write like I consume.  Beer first, then meal.  Without further ado, let’s get to the grub!  Chef Brian Weaver is in the kitchen every morning cooking up something special…and by something special I mean just about everything they serve there.  In short, it’s a scratch kitchen.  He may not be growing the sweet potatoes they use for their waffle fries, but he’s making the aioli, cooking the corned beef, creating new menu items and whatever other culinary sorcery he’s conjuring up when no one’s looking.  They’ve got traditional fare like wings, flatbread pizzas and pretzel bites (which are god-like in taste bud satisfaction), while also offering a number of salads, unique burgers (like the jalapeño hush puppy burger) and entrees (lobster mac & cheese, anyone?).

First and foremost, Friendship APL would like to thank the Avon Brewing Company for being a fund-raising location as well as the donations they have brought to us.  Secondly, if you’re looking for a very reasonably priced meal and some good, unique beers, pay the folks over at Avon Brewing Company a visit.  Ryan can make you a stellar cocktail from scratch (no mixers in this place!) and Chef Brian will be Vin Diesel at the stove cooking fast and furious.  The 201-year old building is as warm and welcoming as the folks who work there.

 

Avon Brewing Company is located at the corner of State Route 611 and Detroit Road.  For more information, please feel free to check out their website at http://www.avonbrewingcompany.com

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

by Gregg Senko

I know what you’re thinking. Why is there an article on Friendship APL’s website about the 1985 post-apocalyptic action film starring Mel Gibson? Fear not! I can extinguish your flames of confusion right here. This is actually about a cat whose name is Mad Max. Well, it’s actually just Max but when he runs around his home like the devil’s chasing him, he gets the “Mad” moniker attached to the front of his name. As for the Thunderdome part, well, this little guy has had more than his fair share of thunder. With that being said, like Mel Gibson’s on-screen character, he’s also been one heck of a fighter through seemingly insurmountable odds.

Max as a kitten

So this little orange furball known as Max doesn’t like being picked up.  Not a lot of cats do, but a lot of times that’s just because they don’t want to leave the ground on someone else’s terms or they don’t like not being in control of a situation or they’re just a moody in the moment.  With Max, it’s a bit of a different situation.  When he was just a wee lad, someone had thrown him from a moving vehicle.  The then unnamed kitten hit the ground hard and mobility suddenly became a luxury for the poor little soul.  He was found by a good samaritan who brought him into Friendship APL and from there was taken to a vet for some very urgent medical care.  His injuries were numerous and included multiple fractures to his pelvis and a right leg that was broken in two spots; one fracture to the humerus and one to the femur.

FAPL Director Greg Willey eventually took him into his own home for some closely monitored fostering of the newly and temporarily named Sir Meowsalot.  The four-legged patient was able to receive more attention this way than if he were at the shelter, something that was certainly warranted considering his situation.  This chivalrous feline was soon on the mend and it wasn’t long after that he caught the eye of FAPL Board President Deb McFadden.  She and her husband were putty in Meowsalot’s paws and the rest is history.

Grown-up Max

Sir Meowsalot eventually became Max and he is the latest addition to a household that is home to three other FAPL rescues.  Worries about his injuries stunting his growth have since been cast aside as the 15-month old has filled out quite nicely.  He can run like the wind and his appetite certainly isn’t affected either.  When I pay the little guy a visit, he’s usually the first to greet me at the door, although I’m not sure if that’s because he’s happy to see me or he sees an opening to spend a few moments outside.  Either way, this cat has a face that lights up a room and is enjoying a spoiled life, well deserved after his traumatic early days.

Max playing the flute or drinking a milkshake while hanging out with adopted sis Misty.

 

The Case of the Cranky Cat

by Gregg Senko

Animal shelters can be fantastic places. Take FAPL for instance. Our facility has an awesome roster of staff and volunteers that go the extra mile to not only rescue animals, but also to make sure the ones we have are going to proper homes and not just anyone off the street. Dogs get walked regularly. Everyone is fed. Cages and cat condos are cleaned daily. Still, while the humans do their darnedest to make sure everything is in tip-top shape, some of the animals just aren’t feeling the feng shui.

Let’s take Kierra for instance.  She was a tabby whose owner had passed away.  With nowhere to go, Kierra was turned over to Friendship APL in hopes of getting her a good home.  The idea is to find a great match for the animal within the first couple of weeks they’re at the shelter.  In Kierra’s case, those two weeks passed, then two months, then two more months and so on.  The clock continued to tick for her time in her cage.  However, it was not surprising as to why this was the case, unfortunate as it may be.  Whenever she was approached in her cage, she reacted negatively to the people observing her.  It was usually an immediate defensive posture with a swat of the paw.  Obviously anyone experiencing that quickly moved along.  It just felt like Kierra was going out of her way to not get adopted.

To take Kierra’s side of things though, she was distraught.  Taken from the freedom of a stable home environment and put into a small cage was a lot of stress on the poor girl.  Not all cats react this way, because just like people, they have different personalities.  She was scared and confused, not knowing why she was here or what the future was to hold.  So after several months, FAPL Director Greg Willey had an idea.  She was coming out of that cage…permanently…and that she did.  In order to adjust to life again and be a potential adoptee, Kierra needed to get acclimated to her surroundings as well as people.

Her new home was actually in Greg’s office.  Granted, it wasn’t the home she used to have before FAPL, but a wide open office was a grand improvement from the cage.  For Kierra, it was like going from a dorm room to the Ritz.  She still had her bouts of crabbiness on occasion, but now she showed affection, accepted affection and enjoyed the spaciousness and attention in her new crib.  She was at FAPL for over a year, an uncommon length to be sure, but her social rehab worked like a charm and she eventually found her forever home.  She’s loving life today and is certainly a different cat than the upset, claws-out feline she was 13 months ago.  Actually, I take that back.  She’s the same cat.  Kierra always had love in her, it just took stability to bring it out again.

Catch Us in August! FAPL Upcoming Events

by Gregg Senko

Bored? We’re not! Rain or shine, things are always hopping inside the Friendship Animal Protective League, and while the weather’s still great, we’ll be just as busy outside as well. Read on to find out the virtual treasure trove of events FAPL staff and volunteers will be taking part in. Whether it’s pet therapy for nursing home residents or educating the public on animal welfare, our presence will felt throughout the community in August.

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Elyria turns 200 years old this year!  The city will be celebrating with a bicentennial parade and FAPL will be marching in the August 5th festivities from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm.  Come out to celebrate the city’s history and cheer on your favorite non-profit, Friendship APL!  Look for Elyria Bicentennial on Facebook for more information.  Visit the city’s official website here.

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While Avon isn’t having a landmark birthday this year, they will be having a party of their own and everyone’s welcome.  FAPL will be at the inaugural Summerfest on Sunday, August 6th from noon to 5:00 pm.  As the event’s website states, “Pack the car and head to the Marketplace at Avon on August 6th for the first annual Summerfest in partnership with the French Creek Foundation. Join local businesses, non-profits and local artists in support of Every Child’s Playground; Avon’s new All-Inclusive Playground Project.  Summerfest hosts a wide array of fun activities for the entire family ranging from live music and delicious craft beer to face and hair painting for the kids!”  Official site info can be found by clicking here.

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Turn back the clock on August 19th and come see our classic car show, Wheels for Wags, at Avon United Methodist Church located at 37711 Detroit Road in Avon.  The event runs from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.  If it’s rained out, the event will be rescheduled for August 26th.  Entry donation is $10 per vehicle and pre-registration is $8 per vehicle.  Spectating is free but donations of pet food and kitty litter are greatly appreciated!  Don’t miss out on these awesome automobiles and plenty of door prizes!  Interested in registering your car?  Call Joyce for more info at (440) 315-2938.

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On Monday, August 21st, we will be paying the fine folks a visit at The Woods at French Creek for a senior pet therapy hour from 2:30 to 3:30.  While these therapy events typically aren’t open to the public, we are always looking for volunteers to help out at them.  It’s a special moment to witness the moment seniors light up at the sight of cats and dogs.  Plus it gets some of FAPL’s residents out of their confines and into an open area with some human interaction.

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We will also be attending the Frostville Dog Gone Funday, a dog-themed outdoor festival in the beautiful Frostville Historical Society. This event is August 27th from noon to 4:00 pm.  Check out this very cool and unique event as the month winds down.

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We will close out August’s events with another pet therapy session, this time at Avon Oaks Caring Community.  This visit will take place on Wednesday, August 30th from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm.  As always, these are great experiences for all involved.

Please contact FAPL with any questions you may have regarding volunteering at (440) 322-4321.

Five Places to Take Your Dog in Lorain County

by Gregg Senko

Looking for a place where your dog can run like the wind and just be him or herself for an hour? Need a groomer? How about a place to board your beloved canine while you’re away? How about a break from Milk-Bones for a more scrumptious treat for Fido? Fear not! We’ve got you covered as this article takes us through five locales in Lorain County that your pooch can enjoy. Please note that Friendship APL is not affiliated with any of the following businesses/places.  These are merely suggestions to take your dog to.

Avon Pet Lodge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Satisfying your needs to take care of your dog while you’re away, the Avon Pet Lodge provides comfortable living quarters for them when the need arises.  Even if you have more than one pet, they can be boarded together by the caring folks that will be looking after them.  As their website states, “Our facility offers the best quality boarding services and day care for your dogs or cats in all of Avon! We can give you peace of mind, knowing that your furry friends are not just in safe hands, but they’re also having a good time!”  Avon Pet Lodge is located at 1101 Jaycox Road in Avon and online at www.avonpetlodge.com

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Grateful Dog Bakery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focused on natural ingredients and treats that dogs will love, the Grateful Dog Bakery sells gourmet and healthy dog treats that are made on site.  In addition Grateful Dog also has a corner of the store reserved for dog supplies, leashes and toys.  Back to the treats though, since that’s this establishment’s bread and butter, they offer an array of bark-worthy biscuits from bone-shaped pumpkin spelt cookies to gluten-free coconutters (and that’s just getting started!). You can find this well kept secret in North Ridgeville at 31966 Center Ridge Road.  Check their website for hours of operation: www.gratefuldogbakery.com

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Paws by the Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located a stone’s throw from Lake Erie on the Avon Lake Pet Care Campus, Paws by the Lake is like a Swiss Army tool of pet care.  They groom, they board and they exercise your four-legged loved ones amidst a spaciously warm and inviting interior.  More information for Paws by the Lake Pet Resort & Daycare is available on their website at www.pawsbythelakeresort.com and at their facility at 33757 Lake Road in Avon Lake.

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Park 4 Paws

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Need to let your dog just be a dog?  Then Park 4 Paws could be the place for them.  Park 4 Paws is a small dog park run by the city of Avon Lake and can be found at 33401 Webber Road (Avon Lake).  Park 4 Paws, also known as the Avon Lake Dog Park, offers a fenced-in area and plenty of shade during these hot summer days.  There’s even a ramp or two for the frolicking canines to run up and down and spend some of that pent up energy.  While there’s no official online page for the park, the website BringFido.com offers some information which can be viewed here.

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Splash Zone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before you get the wrong idea, this isn’t a doggie pool.  Splash Zone in Oberlin is a community people pool, however, there is an exclusive dog park and it’s less than two years old.  Situated on a one-acre stretch of land within the Splash Zone park at 95 W. Hamilton Street, this fun fest for humans and dogs alike is managed by the Lorain County Metroparks.  Hours and information can be found on their website by clicking here. *Photo courtesy of The Morning Journal

Volunteer Feature of July 2017: Hyland Software

In a change of pace from our typical Q&A volunteer features, this month focuses on not one person, but a group of people. Specifically, some of the great folks at Hyland Software in Westlake, Ohio.  Every month, a group of employees from Hyland come out to walk dogs and socialize with our cats.  In the word’s of FAPL’s own Cathy B., “They are such rock stars!” noting that the group has scheduled volunteer outings through the end of the year.  “When they are here I can absolutely be sure that every dog in the shelter will get walked and socialized.  They are really a tight group who know exactly what they’re doing.”

What’s additionally great with the volunteers from Hyland Software is how we consistently get repeat helpers as well as new faces each month.  They are big fans of the shelter and keep coming back for more.  Cathy goes on to mention, “I think last time I had over 30 of them walking dogs and socializing with cats. I know at least three of them who fell in love with animals while they were here and actually adopted them.  That’s the gist of their awesomeness. They are also a very friendly corporate entity.”

There’s no mistaking the great culture that’s bred at Hyland Software.  They’re one of the top-rated employers to work for in the Greater Cleveland area and it’s obvious that the generous mentality that’s carried at their corporate level trickles down to their employees.  FAPL would like to extend a big thank you for their continuous assistance each month.  You are some incredible individuals and we appreciate it!

Mourning the Loss of a Pet

by Gregg Senko

It happens to all of us. It’s the worst part of having that lovable animal companion. Sure there are expenses like vet bills that can sting the pocketbook, the jaw-dropping moment when they chewed up antique furniture, but there is absolutely no comparison in having to say goodbye. What’s the best way to overcome that? How long should you wait before getting another animal? Should you even get another animal? These are all valid questions, to be sure, but the reality is there is no right or wrong answer for any of them.

This is something I’ve experienced more than once, as I’m sure that’s the case of most of our readers here.  When I was about 6 years old was my first dealing with the loss of an animal companion.  That was Fritzi, a black lab.  Years later it was a most awesome parakeet named Petey who passed in front of me on an autumn Sunday.  Then nine years ago it was Maggie, a yellow lab with a white coat and a heart of gold.  I balled my eyes out each time, shedding more tears the older I got.  Perhaps that’s due to spending more time with each pet as I grew older.  Perhaps it’s appreciating the relationship more.  Either way, it doesn’t get easier.

So how does one remedy that?  It always depends on the person.  A neighbor of mine has had a number of German Shepherds over the years.  She and her husband treat them extremely well and provide them with textbook training.  When one of these beloved dogs heads Heaven-bound, they usually have a pup not long after.  Some look at this in a rather cold manner, as if it’s to wipe away the memory of the pet they just lost with an instant replacement.  For me, especially after Maggie, I was not ready to have a dog for several years.  Some may look at that as not being able to get over the loss.

The truth is, others will always have their own idea on how you should handle it.  We all know the old adage about opinions and how everybody has one.  There is no right or wrong.  Who am I to say someone didn’t wait long enough for a new cat, dog, bird or rabbit?  If they provide a loving home and proper care, that’s all that matters.  My only advice is when that situation is looming that your pet is dying or may need to be euthanized, your primary concern with them should be them, not what your next pet will be.  Once they pass, then you can consider what happens next.  Note that the operative word there is “them” and not “you.”  Never keep a suffering pet alive who cannot be healed just because you will have trouble letting go.  In such a scenario, love is displaced and selfishness takes over.

Actually I have one other bit of advice.  Look toward a shelter.  Whether it’s FAPL or somewhere else, get acquainted with the animals in these facilities.  Breeders can be hit or miss.  They’re typically for-profit and not all of them are careful in how they handle their animals.  Plus, the ongoing inbreeding of dogs puts inherent health problems on a repeat cycle (hip problems in Retrievers, dental woes for Yorkies, skin problems for Sharpeis and so on).  So while all of our furry and feathered friends eventually part ways from this world to the next, just remember to be there for them in that transition as they were always there for us.  Take a moment to breathe before considering your next pet, if there will even be a next pet.  If there is, give them that same love you gave the last one and embrace the new personality you will be welcoming into your home.

Someplace Somewhat Like Home

by Cathy Belt

“We are very much an anti-shelter animal shelter.”

Our Executive Director here at Friendship APL likes to frequently boast about being the most anti-shelter shelter director you would ever meet. Obviously being a shelter director himself, this bit usually gets a chuckle from those in attendance. Surely he doesn’t mean he unanimously hates shelters and all they stand for (and you would be right in that assumption).

But what does that actually mean? For humans, an animal shelter is a place for someone to find a four-legged (or sometimes three-legged) addition to their family. It’s also a place to find personal enrichment as a staff member or volunteer. For an animal it is a safe haven from a previous life best forgotten or a temporary residence until the next chapter of their lives. But however we spin what an animal shelter is – it will always be a building filled with cages with animals inside. But does it have to be?

If you’re a cat looking for a home, the Friendship Animal Protective League is not the worst place you could end up. Here you will find no wire cages, no cramped spaces where animals are stacked like Jenga pieces. Little by little, we have been remodeling our shelter room by room with a little help from our friends.

Felines, especially senior cats, special needs cats and long-term residents are high risk for kennel stress. They break down, become anti-social, hard to handle and even stop eating or become ill. This is where our new mini-catteries, possible only because of the generosity sponsored by the Petco Foundation, comes into play.

In our new green room, we have 4 extra-large spaces filled with cat enrichment. The spaces provide a much needed home-like environment for cats to be able to relax, socialize and show their best selves for potential adopters. With a charitable 9k grant from the Petco Foundation, we were able to purchase state of the art glass kennels, new cat furniture from Canada, an Oscillot Cat Containment Systems from Australia, and new benches. The room was also brightened up with a fresh coat of paint on the walls and floor.

Much gratitude from the staff, volunteers and our feline friends to the Petco Foundation, without whom this would not be possible.

Lost Pets & the Value of Microchipping

by Gregg Senko

One of the biggest fears as a pet owner is having your pet run (or fly) away. Despite the strongest efforts of some folks to keep their animals corralled and safe indoors, sometimes, a curious cat or dog will take an opportunity to dart toward the great outdoors which aren’t always so great for them. Once exposed to a seemingly infinite number of directions to run and dangers to experience, domesticated animals can be easily confused or startled once they have left the safe confines of their home.

The first step in getting your pet back is to be preemptive.  According to the website HomeAgain.com, 1 in every 3 pets go missing.  That is a startling statistic.  If there is a moral to the story, well actually there are several, but the first that comes to mind is don’t be the person that thinks this will never happen to them.  Make it a top priority to get your cat or dog microchipped the moment you adopt them.  This is not something to dawdle with, but having the microchip implanted in your pet is not enough.

I have come across a few stray animals in the last couple of years that were microchipped, only to never have the chip registered and activated.  Think of it as buying a car without fuel.  It’s completely useless without that final action.  Some facilities may offer one-stop shopping where the chip can be purchased, implanted and activated for a cost roughly around $50.  At Friendship APL, all of our cats and dogs already have microchips when they’re adopted.

If that step has been taken and the animal still manages to escape, the next part of the process is to start calling local shelters (like FAPL) and police departments (their animal control officer specifically) to see if a pet matching the description of yours has been caught.  Many individuals will post photos of their pet along with contact information on telephone poles or in the windows of businesses (with their permission) for bystanders to keep an eye out for.  However, while there is nothing wrong with that, such postings tend to get overlooked (especially when the photo is in black and white) or ruined by the elements.  A more efficient way to track down a lost pet is through local online outlets that specialize in this sort of thing.

The first of which comes to mind isn’t really a website, but a page within Facebook known simply as ‘Sam the Parrot’.  Sam the Parrot was started by the late Jerry Liller, a Lorain County resident whose pet parrot Sam flew away.  Liller created a Facebook page for Sam in hopes of reuniting with his beloved winged friend.  When someone lost their dog and asked Liller if they could post it on his ‘Sam’ page, he obliged.  One thing led to another and today the Facebook page Sam the Parrot is a major hub for lost pets in and around Lorain County.

Sadly, Sam was never found, but her legacy lives on in helping hundreds of other pets.

Once outdoors and on the loose, cats and dogs can behave very differently.  Dogs can head off in any number of directions and walk for miles or just camp out in a driveway down the street.  Cats typically don’t go all that far.  They are, however, exceptional at hiding and are most active at dusk and dawn.  Call for them.  They know your voice.  Grab a strong flashlight to catch their reflective eyes in lowlight conditions.  Do not leave food out overnight for your lost cat as that can just attract other animals, like raccoons or opossums, that will chase your cat away.  Don’t keep your lost cat (or dog) a secret.  Talk!  Tell your neighbors and post it online (i.e. Sam the Parrot).  This may sound like a broken record by now in this article, but get your pet microchipped and have a collar and tag on them.  Most importantly, don’t give up!  If you believe someone stole your pet, call the police. It’s a 5th degree felony in the State of Ohio to hurt an animal.

The following are a list of websites for lost pets both nationally and in our area:

  • Sam the Parrot (via Facebook)
  • LostMyKitty.com
  • TabbyTracker.com
  • FidoFinder.com
  • PawBoost.com
  • LostMyDoggie.com

 

Special thanks to FAPL Board President Deb McFadden for her contribution to this article.

 

 

Dogs in Hot Cars

by Gregg Senko

We hear about it every single summer. Do not leave your dogs in a hot car. Do not leave your children in a hot car. Unless you have been living under a rock, this is pretty well-established advice.  However, as the old adage goes, common sense is not so common. It always amazes me how we homo sapiens are the most advanced species on the planet (the jury’s still out), yet some of us do the dumbest things. I mention this because today, 6/14/17, I witnessed said ignorance firsthand. Let me explain…

I pulled into a local pet supply store today to make a pickup and eventual delivery to Friendship APL.  I turned a corner and calmly parked my car as any other person in a mild-mannered mood would.  Little did I know such a blissful floating-through-the-day was about to come to an end.  The car parked next to me was a silver Chevy Cobalt.  Nothing stood out from the small vehicle that grabbed my attention…until a dog barked.

I spun around, abruptly ceasing my progress to head to the store’s front door and slowly approached the roving oven (a.k.a. the car holding the dog).  Each of the four windows were open as you’ll see in the photo below, but with an opening ranging from approximately 1.5″ to 2.5″, this was not nearly enough to reduce the baking heat inside that car.  Was it better than the windows totally closed?  Of course.  However, let’s not argue for maintaining the situation at hand.

Upon closer inspection, there was not one, but two dogs in the car.  They appeared to be German Shepherds or at least a German Shepherd mix.  The one that barked out to me was in the driver’s seat while the other was on the backseat.  Both were panting heavily and both were obviously in a state of great discomfort.  I checked all four windows and observed the less than respectable openings.  Then the poor pooch up front was struggling to stick his nose through the gap in the window for some air.  I’d seen enough.  It was time to go inside and get answers.

NOT ACCEPTABLE!

Being a small store and with only one couple inside that was shopping, there wasn’t a whole lot of detective work to conduct.  I approached them and asked if that was their silver Cobalt parked on the side of the building.  They replied with a nonchalant ‘yes’ and stared at me blankly.  Such an expression immediately cemented the lack of coherence I was dealing with here.  The old “It can never happen to me, it only happens to people in the news” mentality was hard at work with these folks.  I explained that both of their dogs were heavily panting in the car to which the woman played it off saying the following mind-blowing statement, “Oh they’re in air conditioning all day.  They’ll be fine.”

I’m not a scientist, but I am familiar with many of its basic workings.  Take temperature for instance.  If you have a frozen bag of peas and you put it in the oven at 150 degrees, that mystical science sorcery stuff starts occurring and things will change.  Magic!  The integrity of the bag will eventually begin to deteriorate and the peas will no longer be frozen.  So despite this widely grasped knowledge, this woman was essentially saying to me that peas will remain frozen in the oven because they were in the freezer all day. I suppose some people still think that if you sail far enough, you’ll fall off the edge of the earth too, but I digress.

During this conversation between she and I, the husband continued to stare at me with a somewhat confrontational glare.  Hey, this isn’t Roadhouse with Patrick Swayze and no one was going cowboy in this scenario.  Still, calling the police was definitely on my radar which was the next step. The woman must have seen that I was not budging on the urgency of the dogs’ situation so she quickly passed the car keys to her husband who proceeded to the store’s exit while mumbling something to me under his breath.  Oh yes kind sir, mumble away.  Mumble to your heart’s content and curse me until the cows come home.  I could care less.  Just make sure you get yourself to that car ASAP and get the AC on and get those windows open before an officer needs to show up, because 327-2191 is engrained into this brain and the North Ridgeville Police are only a thumb click away.

Don’t be the person that does this.

So for anyone who, after reading this Pulitzer worthy article, still does not think anything is wrong with doing what those people did, I invite you to a challenge.  Park your car out in the sun on an 83-degree day like today.  Open each window two inches or less.  Then sit there with the car off.  Tell me how you feel after three minutes, after five minutes.  Let’s not forget that dogs, especially German Shepherds, have a permanent fur coat.  Put a jacket on and sit in that heat.  The moral of the story is don’t be an inconsiderate buffoon who should be sent off to jail for behavior like this while the dogs have to suffer.  Either open all those windows halfway (minimum!) or don’t even bring the animals with you in the first place.  Use. Your. Head.

Pet Valu N. Ridgeville Celebrates with FAPL 1 Year Anniversary

by Gregg Senko

There are a lot of unsung heroes out there who contribute in various ways to Friendship APL. One of them is the North Ridgeville location of Pet Valu. The pet supply chain has seen a national boom in business opening a number of locations around the country. The North Ridgeville location celebrated its 1-year anniversary on June 10, 2017 and FAPL was there to take part.

Cathy (left) holds a sleepy Romeo while Pat (right) keeps an eye on a hiding Titan

Let’s not forget about what this particular location does for us though.  On pretty much a weekly basis they are contributing cat and dog food, cat and dog treats, kitty litter, toys and even the occasional rabbit or ferret cage to FAPL.  Their generosity is greatly appreciated, courtesy of their store manager, Andrea, who makes these donations possible.  So when it was mentioned they would have a little shindig for their customers honoring their 1st anniversary, we were there.

Titan peeks out from under the table

FAPL staff members Cathy and Beth took part in manning the FAPL table along with volunteers Pat and myself.  In addition, the dog-loving Cleveland-based online store Bone Appe-Treat was on hand as well.  Customers came and went as FAPL reps discussed adoption possibilities with them, in addition to showcasing two of our dogs, Titan and Romeo.  Both of these FAPL residents are extremely loving pooches looking for their forever home (not to mention they caught the attention and eye of many people passing through the Pet Valu doors).

Romeo catches some Zzz’s between customers at Pet Valu

If you’d like to pay a visit to the North Ridgeville location of Pet Valu, they can be found at 34282 Center Ridge Road across from the Giant Eagle shopping center.

Dog Licenses – The Why’s, What’s and Where

by Gregg Senko

Everyone knows what a dog license is. They’re the shiny little tags that dangle from the collars of our canine companions, right?  Sure, but they are also much more than just doggie jewelry or a mere action people follow through with “just because.”  So what is the point of a dog license and just how necessary is it?

“First off, it gets your dog home if it gets lost,” says Lorain Police Officer and FAPL volunteer ‘Doc’ Rick. “Second, it’s the law and can save you from a $100 fine,” he adds. The dog license, as you can see, is not really a debatable option. If you are planning on taking on a dog, or if you already have an unlicensed one, buying a dog license is something you will want to address sooner rather than later.

Dog licenses purchased after January 31, 2017 cost $32.75. However, if you just moved into Lorain County or if your dog is under six months old, the cost is $16.75. Doc Rick also mentioned that the cost of the license goes to running county kennels such as the care and feeding of the dogs there. For an extra $5, you can get the heart-shaped license which goes toward medical care for the kennel dogs.  Also, keep in mind the license needs to be renewed on an annual basis.

It’s important to remember that a dog license is much more than a piece of metal. It’s the law and that tag is vital for getting a lost dog back home. For those that may think either or both of those prices are somewhat high, in all seriousness it is best to really consider the animal companion itself you are taking on. There will be plenty more expenses where that came from. The license is only the beginning of the care and financial responsibility that is required.

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*Licenses can be acquired from Friendship APL*

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Friendship Animal Protective League of Lorain County

8303 Murray Ridge Road, Elyria, Ohio 44035    (440) 322-4321  

Friendship APL is a 501(c)(3) organization.


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