Facility upgrades, by order of King Jerry

First thing’s first: Yes, I’m adorable. You were all thinking it; I’m just saying it.

The name’s Jerry, and from the corner office that I kindly share with our Animal Care Coordinator, I think it’s safe to say I basically rule the shelter. You should hear me ordering my subjects around: “Bring me foooooood!” “Play with meeee!” “Scratch my chiiiiiiiin!”

But enough about me right now. I want to tell you a little bit about the plans I’ve got my subjects working on for improvements to Animal Aid’s facility. See, I want Animal Aid to be able to help more cats like me, and they agree, which is why I’ve got them working on a remodel of the upper and lower levels of the shelter. You read that right: It’s time for shelter 2.0, people!

Phase 1 of this remodel focuses on the shelter’s basement space and will create two new cat isolation rooms and a conference/work room, in addition to updating the emergency dog kennel, the laundry room, and the remaining storage space. As a result of this phase of the remodel, Animal Aid will be able to intake more cats and better isolate sick cats from the main population, cutting down on illness within the cat population as well as time spent in isolation. It will also create a dedicated multipurpose room that can be used for meetings, projects, and public events and better equip the basement space to help the staff and volunteers fulfill Animal Aid’s mission.

The remodel is kicking into high gear soon, and I can’t share all of the details with you. Look for a lot more information on this project to hit your doorstep in the coming months, and please consider donating to Animal Aid this year to help them help more animals like me. Don’t forget to tell them King Jerry sent you.

Knittin’ for the kittens: Animal Aid cat hats

Baby hats. Santa hats. Wizard hats. Pointy Elf Hoods. You name the hat type, and Animal Aid volunteer Leisa Refalo can probably have it knit for you before you can say, “Thanks! You’re one cool cat, Leisa!” And a cool cat she is indeed, which is why we’re so happy and thankful that the theme of Leisa’s knitting binge this year has been one of our all-time favorites: the cats of Animal Aid!

Matching the furry shades of our shelter cats and accompanied by a watercolor portrait of each cat (she calls them doodles; we call them masterpieces), Leisa’s cat hats were an instant favorite. “I brought them with me when I went to volunteer, suspecting that I could find someone to wear them,” she said. “They were snatched up by the staff, and other volunteers who saw them wanted one too.”

When not volunteering for Animal Aid (which she began doing last November) or spending time with her own kitties (one of them an Animal Aid alum, formerly known as Elaine and now named Jiji), Leisa works for Kaiser Healthcare designing and developing mobile apps. She is also currently working on a Certificate in Illustration through Pacific Northwest College of Arts.

“In the short term, I want to make little personalized illustrations and animations for family and friends. The response to the little drawings is so good that I have been trying to think of other ways to use them, including enamel pins, greeting cards, candles,” Leisa explained, going on to say, “There seems to be more demand [for cat hats] than I can keep up with, so we are talking about having a Knitting with Kitties event at the shelter to teach people who want to learn how to knit and have a knitting circle for people who do. Cats are fun with yarn.”

We dig the way you think, Leisa. Thank you for making Animal Aid apparel the height of fashion in Portland!

Volunteer Spotlight: Susan Brown Philbeck

“Susan is a wonderful volunteer not only because of her serious passion for the animals, but because of her outgoing personality and the positivity that she brings to the shelter,” said Animal Aid volunteer Becca Ferguson.

“The four-legged residents love her cuddles and kisses. The two-legged residents enjoy her sense of humor, work ethic, and enthusiasm,” added fellow Animal Aid volunteer Pat Jones.

As you can see, Susan Brown Philbeck has a bit of a fan club around here, as well she should: A multi-day cat socializer, emergency dog kennel volunteer, event assistant, and goddess of the clean laundry, there’s rarely a task Susan isn’t ready and willing to handle. What’s more, she does it with kindness, a smile, and a heart full of love for the animals.

“I adore them,” she said of the animals. “I absolutely love it when a cat will climb in my lap for a nap or jump up on my shoulders and wrap themselves around my neck. And seeing a hard to place cat or dog find its forever home is the best thing ever.”

Now going on her fourth year of volunteering for Animal Aid, Susan discovered the shelter after moving to Portland from Florida, where she volunteered at the Humane Society of Pinellas and the Suncoast Animal League. When not at Animal Aid, Susan enjoys spending time with her two rescue pets (a nearly nineteen-year-old cat named Chloe and nine-year-old dog named Teddy), her two-year-old grandson, and several of her fellow Animal Aid volunteers, whom she’s become close friends with.

“I chat up Animal Aid to everyone I know,” she said. “Whether they are looking to adopt or know someone who is, or if they are interested in volunteering, I tell them how rewarding it is, how much fun they will have, how much they will enjoy the staff and volunteers, what an outstanding shelter it is regarding the excellent health care provided for all our animals, how clean it is, and how diligently we look for the very best match for each cat or dog—I think we pay more attention to that than just about any other shelter.”

Thank you, Susan! Everyone at Animal Aid appreciates you very much!

Tips for the vet: The human-animal bond

Guest article written by Dr. Andy Frost, Pacific Veterinary Clinic

It is well recognized that humans obtain health benefits from our association with animals. Pet owners recover from surgeries and heart attacks more quickly and at higher rates than non-pet owners. Stroking a pet prior to or during a stressful event lowers a person’s blood pressure even more than holding a family member’s or friend’s hand. The benefits of therapy animals in hospitals, nursing homes, or as individual companions are so established that they are allowed in places that public health laws normally restrict animal access.

Is this a one-sided relationship? Do animals gain health and emotional benefits from their associations with us?

Clearly, a well-cared for pet in a home obtains the obvious advantages of good nutrition, adequate shelter, appropriate vaccination and parasite prevention, spaying/neutering, a healthy environment, and mental stimulation. Beyond this, a pet in a home gets the positive effects of recurring social and play interactions and continuity—not just providing physical and mental exercise, but a strengthening of the social context.

There is more recent research on dogs’ ability to copy behaviors that humans “model,” something previously thought unique to humans (now known to be done by dolphins and other species) and another clue that positive dog and human interactions are absolutely “wired” into both species’ behaviors. Canines and humans have co-evolved for about 32,000 years, changing dogs’ physiology (different dietary needs than wolves and wild dogs, changes in brain chemistry, etc.), as well as social structures. More research by ethicists is being published all of the time on how we humans influence our animal companions in addition to the ways animals have and continue to exert positive effects on us, our societies, and our environment.

Charming chi looking to be your Buddy

Hi there! Buddy’s the name, and being ridiculously cute is my game. See how my one ear is floppy while the other one is perky? I mean, C’MON, what’s a dog gotta do?

I’m currently chillin’ in a foster home with a couple other chihuahuas, and sometimes my foster mom takes me to work with her so I can supervise the workload and make sure everyone’s taking the appropriate number of “Let’s pet Buddy” breaks.

At five years old, I’m young enough to enjoy lots of walks and old enough to have manners, and I love to play chase with anyone who’s interested. Oh, and get this: I’m eight pounds of charm. Yeah, you read that correctly: I am composed entirely of charm.

So, look, I’m not really sure how you’re still reading this instead of rushing to get me, but I guess that’s a good thing because you’re gonna need to fill out an application first. Don’t worry, you can find everything you need here. And while you’re on the Animal Aid website, be sure to check out the video on my page—it’s pretty much guaranteed to be the best 18 seconds of your life.

I’m ready for my forever home where I can be someone’s forever buddy. I’m not sure what the hold up is, but I’ll practice my patience and look to add another ounce to my charm. My gotcha day’s coming soon, I know it—and I’ve gotta say, I have a good feeling you might be the one.

Join us at Portland International Beerfest

Huck doesn’t know what beer is. This is just his normal goof ball expression.

Date: Friday-Sunday, June 23-25, noon to 10:00 p.m.

Location: North Park Blocks (Pearl District)

Tickets: $25-35

Get your taste of some great beers and support Animal Aid while you do it! We’ll once again be joining our friends Indigo Rescue, Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon, and Oregon Spay Neuter Fund at the Portland International Beerfest, where we’ll be pouring cold beers, raffling hot items, and sharing information about how and why we do what we do for animals in need. Who knows, there may even be a few puppy kisses to go around…

Furlandia 2017: The Age of Prosperity

For Coretta, every day is furlandia.

Date: Friday-Sunday, May 26-28, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Location: Sheraton Airport Hotel (8235 NE Airport Way)

Tickets: $35-125

Join us at Furlandia, Portland’s premier anthropomorphic arts convention, where Animal Aid will be the charity of honor. This family-friendly convention takes place over Memorial Day weekend and includes panels, games, dance competitions, karaoke, and the not-to-be-missed fursuit parade. Come visit Animal Aid staff and volunteers at our information table in the Dealer’s Den, where you can also view artwork from a variety of vendors.

“Sprouts & Sparkles” Plant and Jewelry Sale

Meet Buddy, a sprout of a different kind.

Date: Saturday, May 13, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Location: SW Autobody (4200 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy)

Get everything you need for an amazing season of gardening at Animal Aid’s plant sale, where we’ll have hundreds of plant starts available for purchase: tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, various flowers, and much more! We’ll also be selling handcrafted jewelry items—the perfect choice for those of you looking for last-minute Mother’s Day gifts! Mark your calendar now and come check out all of our sprouts and sparkles in the parking lot of SW Autobody (just down the hill from the shelter).

Join us for Yoga with Cats

We didn’t have the heart to tell Pearl that’s a towel, not a yoga mat.

Date: Sunday, May 7, from noon to 1:00 p.m.

Location: Animal Aid (5335 SW 42nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97221)

Cost: $15 donation

Find your center (and a little cat hair) by joining Pearl and her friends at the Animal Aid shelter for Yoga with Cats on Sunday, May 7, from noon to 1:00 p.m. This class will be taught by Yoga NW instructor Bonnie Chipman. Spots are limited, so be sure to sign up today. Guests should bring their own mat and arrive at the shelter at 11:45 a.m. Other props will be provided. Click here to reserve your seat.