In the News

Quarterly contributed articles to Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Rabies, Parvo, Distemper, and more: don’t hesitate… vaccinate!

Lauri Julian, Board Member & Education Committee Chair, Cheyenne Animal Shelter
March 18, 2018

Want your pet to live a long, healthy life? Vaccinating is one of easiest ways to prevent many illnesses that affect pets. Outbreaks of rabies and parvovirus are more common than you think. These catastrophic diseases are 100% preventable with the right vaccine. Not only are rabies vaccinations required by law, they are a simple, safe and reliable way to protect pet and human lives. Rabies cases are real in Laramie County. We are seeing more in skunks, raccoons, and bats, and very recently, a horse was diagnosed with this deadly disease.  Sadly, in January, a 6-year old Florida boy died from rabies after being scratched by a sick bat, highlighting the importance of disease and treatment awareness.

According to Samantha Vernon, DVM, “There are two clinical forms of rabies; the “furious form” in which animals exhibit aggressive behavior, hypersalivation, and disorientation and the “dumb form,” where they may be depressed, act confused, become paralyzed, or exhibit mild signs of illness prior to death.” If you observe an animal in either of these conditions, do not go near it and call Animal Control immediately. Keep your pets away; if you suspect exposure, call your veterinarian ASAP!

Other preventable, and often fatal viral diseases are distemper and parvovirus in dogs and cats. Puppies and kittens need a series of vaccinations to protect their health. Besides the rabies vaccine, which can first be given at 16 weeks,  puppies and kittens will need a combo shot starting at 6 weeks of age with two boosters 3-4 weeks apart. For puppies, it is the DA2PP (distemper, adenovirus type 2, parvovirus and parainfluenza), and for kittens, the FVRCP (feline panleukopenia, feline calicivirus, and feline rhinotracheitis). Adult dogs and cats need a rabies shot every 3 years and a combo vaccine booster every 1-3 years.

Parvo is extremely contagious, affecting the intestinal track and attacking white blood cells, often resulting in death when young animals are infected. Treatment can cost thousands and financial constraints can result in euthanasia. Parvo can be transmitted by any person, animal or object that comes in contact with an infected pet’s feces. The virus can live in the environment for months, and may survive on inanimate objects such as food bowls, shoes, clothes, carpet and floors. It is important to keep puppies away from public places until they have received their entire set of shots.

Symptoms of parvo may include lethargy, severe vomiting, loss of appetite and bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea. If you suspect your pet has parvo, contact your veterinarian immediately. Be sure to let them know you suspect the disease as special care will need to be given in receiving the animal to ensure containment of the virus.

Distemper is also a threat that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems, as well as the conjunctival membranes of the eye. The first signs include sneezing, coughing and thick mucus coming from the eyes and nose. Fever, lethargy, sudden vomiting and diarrhea, depression and/or loss of appetite are also symptoms. The virus is passed through direct contact with fresh urine, blood or saliva. The virus spreads rapidly and must be aggressively treated, so please see your veterinarian right away.

Much less deadly, but still a health threat is canine influenza, and even this can be prevented with a vaccination. The severity of this illness can range from showing no signs to pneumonia and sometimes death.

If you have questions about vaccinations to protect your pet, please consult your veterinarian; it can be a matter of life or death. It is best to play it safe: “Don’t hesitate, vaccinate!”


Animal Shelter Board Praises Donors, Staff and Volunteers for 2017 Achievements

Lauri Julian, Board Member & Education Committee Chair, Cheyenne Animal Shelter
December 24, 2017

This month, the Cheyenne Animal Shelter celebrates our 14th anniversary in our current facility. It is with the support of our generous donors, caring staff, dedicated volunteers and faithful adopters that the Shelter continues to thrive. Donors come in many forms, from providing necessary funds to donating pet food/supplies. Volunteering opportunities include fostering, animal care, dog walking, and more. The Shelter Board recognizes all these contributions, offering our sincerest appreciation and a look into the past year.

Achievements despite challenges

In 2017, the Shelter has placed 2,671 animals into loving homes and returned 1,182 animals to their owners.  Along with thousands of cats and dogs, we take in hundreds of various critters. There is staff at the Shelter every day of the year committed to keeping the facility clean and healthy.  The Shelter is an open intake facility – meaning we don’t turn animals away; we strive to save every life. We have a large facility, but sometimes it is not enough. We took in over 5,300 animals last year and our current pace for 2018 (fiscal year) has not slowed.  An annex/barn to house more animals (chickens, pigs, etc.), may be in our future. Also, we are considering a large trailer to help with hoarding cases and off-site events.

Our full time veterinarian and her staff have spayed/neutered nearly 1,000 animals this year and provided medical treatment, vaccinations, surgeries, and medications for the thousands of animals in our care. Many come to us in poor health, especially in hoarding cases. We must house, feed, and provide medical attention and emotional support to these animals who sit in the Shelter for months waiting for their day in court. The average cost per dog/per day is $48.50 (totaling >$140,000 in one recent case).

It is very expensive to operate the Shelter. During winter, the monthly power bill can jump to $9,000/month. Staff and volunteers work constantly to raise funds for operations and facility improvements. A majority of the Shelter’s income is from donations, our fundraisers, and CAS Foundation support. The Shelter is not a City department. We have contracts with the City and County for animal control and shelter services, but this covers less than half of the Shelter’s operating costs. Due to City budget cuts, our contract was reduced, but we did not cut services. Therefore, we rely heavily on donors and appreciate everything they do.

Our dedicated Animal Control Officers (ACOs) are animal trackers, cruelty investigators, roadkill control, emergency animal medical responders, and more. On average, they respond to 15-20 calls/day (5,000 calls/year), in the City of Cheyenne and all of Laramie County. ACOs are called for many reasons: an alligator, mountain lion, owl and other wildlife, along with domestic animals. They do it all!

The holidays are upon us – an important time for giving. For more information, please visit: http://www.cheyenneanimalshelter.org/. You make all the difference in our serving as a premier animal care facility.

The Shelter Board wishes you very Happy Holidays. We thank you for your continued support!


Caring for your canine athlete this Fall season

Samantha Vernon, DVM
September 24, 2017

Fall is here! Hikers and hunters are able to get out and enjoy the cooler weather.  Is your canine companion ready to go?  Canine athletes have some special needs compared to non-working animals, and are often in situations where veterinary care must be delayed.  Below are some things to consider when heading outdoors with your dog.

All performance dogs should receive annual veterinary exams to ensure general wellness prior to strenuous exercise.  Being up to date on vaccines, especially rabies, is important as these dogs are more likely to come into contact with sick wild animals.  In areas where snakes are present, there is a rattlesnake vaccine available that may lessen the severity of a bite reaction. Outdoor dogs should receive flea and tick treatment at least 24 hours prior to leaving, and be on a regular heartworm preventative as they are likely to be exposed to mosquitoes that transmit the disease.

Having proper safety gear for your dog, such as an orange vest and a reflective collar is a good idea.  Proper identification is imperative since dogs are off-leash, and having a microchip implant is highly recommended.  Protective foot boots can be purchased at sporting goods stores to protect the pads from becoming sore/raw, and getting stickers/wounds.

Ensure your dog is receiving appropriate nutrition to meet their energy needs during the outdoor season.  Often times working dogs will not consume more food to meet their high energy demands, therefore a nutrient dense food designed for performance dogs should be provided. These foods are higher in fat and calories as well as digestible protein.  Talk with your veterinarian for specific recommendations.

Injuries are common in performance dogs. A first aid kit is essential to have since you may be far from veterinary care, and many smaller wounds can be managed in the field. It is important to know when something can be tended to in the field and when something needs veterinary attention.  If a wound cannot be properly addressed in the field, cleaning and bandaging to stop bleeding and slow infection can be very beneficial.  If a fracture is suspected, the affected limb should be stabilized (splints can be made from sticks, magazines, etc.) until you can get to a veterinarian.

Always provide fresh water throughout the day, with ample breaks to avoid heat exhaustion. You may allow the dog to get wet to help keep it cool. Working dogs experiencing vomiting or diarrhea should not continue activity as they may dehydrate quickly.  Any dog that is lethargic, refusing to eat/drink, or vomiting should be taken to the vet ASAP.

After each outdoor activity, dogs should be thoroughly checked over for stickers, ticks, or wounds. Remove any plant material that can migrate and cause serious infections, being sure to check between the toes and ears.

Exercising or hunting with your dog can be rewarding and fun; being prepared will allow you to enjoy the season and all of the excitement your canine athlete will bring to your adventures!


Adopting older and orphaned pets in need of loving homes

Janet Marschner, Board Member, Cheyenne Animal Shelter
August 13, 2017

Recently, a friend and caregiver of a Veteran named John, a terminal cancer patient, made a social media plea, “penned” by John’s sweet beagle-mix, Yola for a new home.   And Yola came with a buddy named Boogy, a 40 lb. boxer/French bulldog mix, a friend’s dog who had to give it up following a severe back injury. Both dogs, over the age of four and attached to John, found themselves suddenly in the middle of story that was broadcast all over the country.   Having a big heart for older pets, I (among countless others), contacted John’s caregiver to potentially adopt the two together. I was honored to be chosen as the adoptive parent and was pleased to welcome the two older pets into my home. Their only desire is a soft bed and daily walks.

This story is heartbreaking for John as well as Yola and Boogy.  On any given day, dogs and cats with a similar story are turned into a shelter or rescue.   While they may not have a social media post about them, their need for a new home is just as great.   Older pets are the hardest pets to find homes for, so when someone gives them a second chance it is a win-win for both sides.    Older pets generally bond quickly and give the new owner a level of attention and devotion that is unique to older pets.  It is quite possible that the older pet may be the perfect pet.

 Shelters and rescues are full of healthy, older pets that need homes.   This is what we know about adopting adult pets: 

  1. Adopting an older pet may save its life. Many people overlook an older pet, and instead fall for a puppy or kitten.   Adult pets sometimes stay at shelters or rescues longer waiting for a home and are at risk of not finding homes. They make loyal and loving companions.
  2. Some people think older pets are “problems,” but that’s typically not true. Just like Yola and Boogy, adult pets lose their homes for a variety of reasons, usually having nothing to do with their behavior or temperament.  Reasons typically include: death or illness of the owner, a new baby, loss of a job, a move, change in work schedule, and various other lifestyle changes.
  3. Adult pets usually come trained. Most older pets are potty-trained or litter box trained and have settled down, unlike the youngsters.
  4. Adult pets are calmer and less energetic than puppies and kittens.  An adult pet has graduated from the puppy/kitten stage and has an established personality and temperament, which will give you an instant idea of how it will fit into your household.
  5. Adult pets fit right in. A puppy requires leash training, but an older dog is ready to accompany you on a walk or hike.  A kitten has a lot of energy and may be a curtain climber, but an older cat may more interested in being a lap warmer.

Yola and Boogy will be leading the Cheyenne Animal Shelter’s Dog Jog on August 19.  Please come out and meet them!

If you would like to open your heart and home to an older pet, please visit the Cheyenne Animal Shelter’s website http://www.cheyenneanimalshelter.org/adoptable-animals/ and check out Nola, an 11 yr. old female husky/shepherd mix and Tootie, a 9 yr. old female English bulldog mix who would like to be adopted together.


Protect your pets from warm-weather diseases

Samantha Vernon, DVM
June 4, 2017

Bottom of Form

The spring and summer months bring about warm weather and time for owners and their pets to enjoy the outdoors. With warmer temperatures, vector-borne diseases (from fleas, ticks, flies, etc.) become more prevalent.

This time of year, there are always concerns regarding the potential for pets and people to contract the diseases tularemia and plague. Both diseases have similar symptoms that are often missed on initial exam.

Although infrequent, these diseases do occur in our area. These diseases can cause severe symptoms in pets and also can be contracted by humans. It is therefore important for pet owners and health-care professionals to be aware of the clinical signs of these diseases, as well as how they are transmitted.

Tularemia, a bacterial infection, is commonly known as “rabbit fever,” as rabbits are frequent carriers. Transmission of the disease occurs from the bite of an infected tick or biting fly. Dogs and cats may also contract the disease by eating the carcass of an infected rabbit or rodent or from drinking contaminated water.

People are often most concerned about dogs contracting tularemia, as they are the most likely to eat rabbits. However, dogs tend to be somewhat resistant to the bacteria and often have only mild symptoms. Cats are more likely to become severely affected. Signs may include lethargy, fever, decreased appetite, weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, abscesses at the site of the insect bite, pneumonia, colitis and death. The disease is readily treatable with antibiotics, as long it is caught early.

According to the Wyoming Game and Fish, the state sees two to three human cases per year, but when rabbit populations are high, more cases occur. Animal cases are more difficult to track, as they often go unreported or undiagnosed.

Plague is caused by bacteria and is transmitted by fleas that bite an infected rodent (commonly prairie dogs in our area), which then bites the pet. Additionally, infected animals can spread the disease through contact with infected respiratory droplets or direct contact by ingesting carcasses.

Like tularemia, dogs are fairly resistant to plague and, if they contract it, tend to only show mild symptoms. Cats will often become very ill or die.

Clinical signs are also similar to tularemia, with infected animals having fevers, swollen lymph nodes, lethargy, cough, vomiting, diarrhea and death. Again, when caught early, plague is treatable with antibiotics. Our area usually sees several cases in cats yearly.

While these diseases are uncommon, early detection is key to successful treatment. Disease in humans can be very severe and life-threatening, so taking precautions to prevent infection is important.

Pets should be kept current with flea and tick treatments prescribed by a veterinarian. Beware that over-the-counter products may not be as effective. Efforts should be made to prevent pets from coming in contact with or eating carcasses of dead rabbits and rodents.

Humans should also use tick repellents and avoid contact with wildlife that appear sick. If carcasses need to be cleaned or removed, use of protective gear such as gloves, masks and eye protection is imperative. Any time a pet is having symptoms of infection, a veterinarian should examine it as soon as possible.

Dr. Samantha Vernon is a Cheyenne Animal Shelter board member and veterinarian at Frontier Veterinary Clinic. Questions for Dr. Vernon can be directed to info@caswy.org.


Cheyenne Animal Shelter Relies on Valued Community Support to Meet Operational Costs

Bob Fecht, CEO, Cheyenne Animal Shelter
March 19, 2017

The Cheyenne Animal Shelter celebrated its 13th anniversary in the facility at 800 Southwest Drive in December.  When the structure was built, it was a significant change and improvement for Cheyenne and Laramie County.  We are open 361 days each year with intake hours from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Based on those hours, we have an AVERAGE INTAKE OF MORE THAN 1.5 ANIMALS EVERY HOUR WE ARE OPEN. The old Shelter was small and ill-equipped to handle this kind of volume, nor did it have space for medical services that many of the animals need.

But along with our beautiful new facility came increased operational costs. The monthly power bill jumped to an average of over $6,000 per month. In winter, it can be much higher and often exceeds $9,000.

Adding medical care also added costs. Many of the animals do not arrive in top physical condition. Imagine what you pay for your pet’s health care, then double or triple that for the animals that arrive every day at the shelter.

Volunteers and staff work constantly to raise the funds for operations and facility improvements. A majority of the Shelter’s income is from donations, fundraisers like the upcoming Fur Ball (April 8th), and CAS Foundation support. Cheyenne Animal Shelter has contracts with the City of Cheyenne and Laramie County to provide animal control and shelter services, but these contracts only cover about 42% of the operating costs.

On an average day, the Shelter houses 75 to 125 cats and 60 to 100 dogs along with a half  dozen other assorted creatures. Since we are the only open intake facility in the area – we’ll never turn an animal away – we take in over 5,000 animals each year. The facility is designed for this number of animals, but it takes a lot of staff to clean the building every day. And that cleaning is absolutely necessary. When you house as many animals as the Shelter, one sick animal could quickly spread disease to epidemic levels without proper cleaning and medical attention.  Many times the dogs and cats that come to the shelter are not healthy and we cannot allow any disease(s) that they carry to spread beyond the quarantine room.

There is staff at the Shelter every day of the year dedicated to keeping the facility as healthy an environment as possible.  When you visit the facility, we hope you notice it does not have a strong animal odor. In addition to daily cleaning, we empty a part of the building and conduct a deep cleaning three to four times a year.

As with almost every business, our largest expense is payroll.  Our 2016/17 budget breakdown is as follows:

Salaries and Wages                            $  910,000
Payroll tax, insurance etc.                  $  245,090
Clinic Personnel Expense                  $  175,000
Clinic Operating Expense                  $  134,000
Vehicle expenses                                $   41,000
Building Expense                               $ 161,000
All other non-operating                      $ 216,900
                                    Total:                                   $ 1,882,990*
*Net of depreciation

All of these costs are daily operating expenses and they do not include any extras for special projects such as expanding the parking lot or doubling the size of our clinic.

As you can see, it is not inexpensive to operate our Shelter. It is only with the help and support of our community that we can achieve our goal to keep the Cheyenne Animal Shelter as one of the top facilities in the United States. We are thankful for the generosity of the passionate and caring people of Cheyenne and the surrounding area and we very much value your continued support.

There are many ways to give, to support the Shelter (http://www.cheyenneanimalshelter.org/), and our biggest fundraiser is right around the corner, The Fur Ball “Woofstock” being held at Little America on April 8th. We hope to see you there!


The Difference between a “Dog Catcher” and an Animal Control Officer

Haylee Sauerwine, ACO 52
January 29, 2017

The job title, Animal Control Officer (ACO) often brings countless stereotypes and images to the public’s mind.  The Laramie County/City of Cheyenne ACOs are seen as many things including: the old-fashioned 1950s “dog catchers,” the Humane Officers seen on Animal Planet, animal trackers, cruelty investigators, roadkill control, emergency animal medical responders, exterminators, law enforcement officers, and the doughnut shop’s best customers!  In actuality, ACOs are all of these things (with an occasional exception of the latter).

The Laramie County/City of Cheyenne ACO unit responds, on average, to 15-35 calls per day (varying seasonally) adding up to approximately 8,200 calls per year.  Currently, the Animal Control Unit consists of a total of five officers with an average of two officers on shift per day. Those two officers are responsible for a jurisdiction expanding from the City of Cheyenne to all of Laramie County which includes Burns, Carpenter, Horse Creek, Federal, Hillsdale, and Pine Bluffs.  The two officers on duty work a shift from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, but one of those officers is always on-call for emergencies after hours.  With such a vast jurisdiction and limited officers, ACOs have to be especially mindful of responding to their calls based on priority, opposed to responding to them at the time in which they are received.

Common priority calls of an ACO include: outside agency assists (helping the Cheyenne or Pine Bluffs Police Departments, the Sheriff’s Department, Highway Patrol, Fire Department, or Game and Fish, with animal-related calls), animal-on-person attacks, animal-on-animal attacks, welfare checks (animals not being cared for properly), animal abuse/neglect, bite cases, injured animals and public nuisances.

In order for officers to enforce the laws pertaining to animal welfare, certain factors must be taken into account.  For example, when animals are left in vehicles, these factors include: length of time the vehicle has been unattended, ventilation, condition and behavior of the animal(s), and the location of the vehicle.  While some people may be alarmed by a panting dog in a vehicle, it is not uncommon for a dog to pant even in a room temperature environment.  ACOs must determine the severity of each circumstance and also work to educate the public on what is reasonable for an animal’s safety and proper care.

While animal welfare is certainly a hot topic, it can be slightly confusing and somewhat complicated.  The line that separates how one person treats their animals versus another, and what is actually unlawful, is commonly blurred.  These laws also vary from state to state, so a person just moving to Wyoming from California is going to have a very different outlook on how animals are treated.  Specific laws may vary from city to city as well, but the Wyoming Statute 6-3-203 (B) is clear, that every animal owner must provide their animals with the proper food, drink, and protection from the weather; and any owner that cruelly abandons the animal, or in the case of immediate, obvious, serious illness or injury, fails to provide the animal with appropriate care, is subject to penalties for animal cruelty.

If you have further questions or are interested in learning more about Cheyenne or Wyoming animal law, feel free to visit websites like www.cheyennecity.org for city ordinances or legisweb.state.wy.us for Wyoming Statutes.  For more Animal Control related information, or to learn more about the Cheyenne Animal Shelter and how you can help, please visit www.cheyenneanimalshelter.org.

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