Dec 31 2009

Teaching “Stay” for Real

Zak George doesn’t kid around when teaching a dog to “stay.” He calls it the most important command a dog can learn. Notice in this video that even when Zak corrects the dog for disobeying (or “breaking”) the “stay” command, he’s not coercive or threatening–just firm. A direct, eye-level stare is effective for the dog who just can’t … well … stay put. Even when teaching important commands, threats or punishment will only teach a dog to fear you, and that’s the opposite of what you’re looking for. (Note: Be sure you’re familiar with clicker training before trying this method.)

posted by Claire M. Caterer

Dec 27 2009

Jabba the Cat



When you hear the name Jabba, most of us automatically think of the disgusting character, Jabba the Hut in the Return of the Jedi movie.  I know this is an unusual name for a cat, but Jabba came to Wayside Waifs when his owner had to surrender him because of allergies.  When an animal is surrendered to us by their owner we keep the animals original name, hence Jabba.  I can assure you, other than being a big boy, Jabba is nothing like movie character! 

One day last week I was in the cat room getting some video of another large kitty we had at the time, Kenya (30 pounds), when I happened to have the pleasure of meeting Jabba.  He is an extremely friendly, six year old, domestic shorthair.  He just came right up to me and leaned into me like we had known each other for years.  When you start petting him he gets a little chirpy and purrs very loud.  As you can see, he is a big fellow!  He weighs about 22 pounds.  So whoever adopts him will need to lay off the treats, encourage exercise with some fun toys, and he may need to stay on a special diet to help him shed a few pounds.

Currently Jabba is housed in what we call the East Storefront. This is a room that is actually two connecting spaces.  One space is all windows and allows visitors in the lobby to see in.  There can be as many as seven cats in this room at one time.  We only put very social cats in this room, and of course Jabba definitely fits this criteria.

Jabba does enjoy being on your lap and several times we have had volunteers get a little surprised when Jabba jumped on their lap.  He doesn’t seem to mind that he is a big boy, he just loves people and enjoys getting his ears scratched and back rubs!  If you are looking for a loving cat with a lot of character, I invite you to come in and spend some time with Jabba.

Now througth the end of the year, we are reducing our cat adoption fees to only $25.  Cat adoptions can start at $75.  This adoption fee includes all vaccinations, spay/neuter surgery and a 5 pound bag of food.   You can read more about Jabba and his friends at Wayside Waifs by visiting our cat adoptions page.

Written by Trish Stinger
Web Marketing Manager at Wayside Waifs

Dec 18 2009

Canine Distemper

Many people have heard of the canine distemper virus, whether through personal experience or hearing it on the news.  It is a particularly nasty virus that can have devastating consequences for survivors and even be fatal.  Luckily, it is not common nowadays because of vaccination- however this has led to the lack of information about the disease, even amongst veterinarian professionals.  Some practitioners may never see a true case of canine distemper.  This lack of experience can often lead to misdiagnosis of a sick animal with potentially severe consequences.

Distemper is caused by the canine distemper virus.  It affects dogs as well as other mammals including raccoons and ferrets.  Susceptible animals can be any un-vaccinated dog, but usually affects younger dogs.   I should also note that canine distemper and feline distemper are completely different.

The virus is shed in bodily fluids and secretions (i.e. feces, urine, nasal discharge etc) and infection can be from direct contact with an infected animal or contact with “fomites” which refers to contaminated objects or people.

Exposure to the virus generally results in infection after 1-2 weeks, but can take up to 4-5 weeks.  Early symptoms after infection can be as vagues as lethargy and fever, but if these symptoms are mild, they can be easily missed.

Clinical signs of disease are very similar to signs of “kennel cough”-nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, fever and anorexia.  Distemper infections differ in the fact that they are much more severe.  Kennel cough infections are generally somewhat mild and self limiting and respond well to treatment.  The distemper virus can affect other systems as well, such as the GI tract, the nervous system, the immune system, and even the eyes.  Other clinical signs can include diarrhea, inflammation within the eyes, KCS (dry eye), blindness and even neurological signs such as seizures.  The virus can cause immunosuppression, which makes the animal very susceptible to secondary infections.  Pneumonia is one common as a secondary illness.  Neurological signs can develop at the same time as other clinical signs or even months after infection.

Diagnosis can be difficult but should be based on clinical and diagnostic testing.  Sometimes diagnosis cannot be made until after death.  Testing is available for tissue or fluid samples, but false negatives can be common.  Microscopic examination of tissue samples obtained on necropsy is considered the best way. 

Treatment of distemper infections can be long and stressful.  Hospitalization is generally required in the beginning.  Antibiotics are used to help treat secondary bacterial infections; supportive care (i.e. IV fluids, maintaining proper nutrition and rest) is also necessary.  Recovery is possible but lengthly.  Survivors may be more susceptible to respiratory infections due to damage of the respiratory tract from the virus.  Animals may also experience neurological damage which could be permanent depending on the severity of the illness.

Vaccination is very effective in preventing the disease and dog owners need to be educated by their veterinarians to ensure new canine family members are properly protected.

As always if you have any concerns about your pets health, don’t be afraid to talk to your veterinarian and ask questions to make sure you understand what is happening with your pet.

Written by Dr. Cynthia Moon
Veterinarian at Wayside Waifs

Dec 16 2009

Feline Respiratory Disease

Watch Kenya & Dr. Moon's video on YouTube!

Watch Kenya & Dr. Moon's video on YouTube!

Cats are special creatures who like to make simple issues complicated ones- I suppose they find it amusing.  But for those of us who are caring for them, it can be very frustrating.  Here are the most common questions I am asked about feline respiratory disease.  Hopefully this will clear some questions you may have as well.

What causes URI’s in cats?
     Just like dogs, URI’s (Upper Respiratory Infections) in cats can be viral or bacterial.  However, in cats, viral infections are usually the primary cause with bacterial infections being secondary.  The major viruses in cats that cause the URI’s are the herpes and calici virus.  Cats can also be infected with bordetella (part of “kennel cough” in dogs) but this is not as common with the exception of shelter or large kennel situations.  Generally, one does not know which virus is causing the illness-routine URI’s are treated the same regardless of the cause (supportive care and antibiotics to name a few).  Testing is available but can be expensive so it is generally reserved for more special cases.

What are the clinical signs of a URI in cats?
     Clinical signs can vary, depending on the severity of the infection and also the cause.  “Routine” signs can include: nasal discharge (varying from clear to greenish, sometimes blood), sneezing, sometimes coughing, lethargy, decreased appetite, and fever.  Eye infections are also common as a secondary problem, unlike URI in dogs.  Redness, ocular discharge (clear to yellowish), puffy eyes, and even corneal ulcers can be present.  Herpes infections are generally the cause for corneal ulcers, they can also result in ulceration to the front of the nose and even the skin surround the eyes in severe cases.  In addition, just like in people, once a cat is infected with the herpes virus, they are infected for life.  For animals severely affected at a young age, this can cause chronic problems, but in most cases it is not noticed unless the animal becomes stressed, as stress can cause mild flare-ups such as sneezing or runny eyes.  Calici virus infections can cause ulcers in the mouth and lameness.

How does one diagnose a URI in cats?
Diagnosis is generally made based on clinical signs.  Testing is available to differentiate between viruses but in most cases is not necessary.

What is the treatment for URI’s in cats?
Treatment varies depending on the severity of the infection and the individual.  In mild cases, supportive care may be all that is necessary.  Supportive care would include making sure the animal keeps hydrated, ensuring low stress levels and keeping them comfortable.  In more severe cases oral antibiotics may also be required to treat any secondary bacterial infections.  Medication can be given to help reduce any temperature or to help with lameness.  Topical antibiotics may be prescribed for an eye infection.  Generally, most cats recover quickly with proper care and most infections are somewhat self limiting.  Individuals in lower stress environments are more likely to recover quickly and with less medication than ones in high stress situations, like a shelter with a lot of other animals.
Severe eye infections and corneal ulcers generally require more intensive treatment, with medication lasting several weeks.  In some cases, corneal ulcers may worsen to the point of removal of the eye is necessary.  Oral ulcers may also complicate treatment, especially if they are severe enough to cause anorexia.

Is a URI in cats contagious?
Yes.  Other cats are susceptible.  While cats are vaccinated against these viruses routinely (FVRCP, FVR and C are for herepes and calici), the vaccine does not 100% protect against the infection but it does help to decrease severity of the illness should the animal become ill.  Severity of the illness depends on the overall health of the animal and their situation.  Otherwise healthy individuals in low stress situations generally have mild illnesses, while highly stressed animals are usually the ones who get the sickest.  It is recommended that sick animals be kept separate from healthy ones until they have recovered.

As always, if your pet is displaying any signs of illness, consult with your veterinarian for a plan of proper treatment.

Written by Dr. Cynthia Moon
Veterinarian at Wayside Waifs

Dec 11 2009

‘Tis the Season…to Help the Animals



It’s been quite a year at Wayside Waifs.   By the end of the year, we expect our final admissions number to be well over 7,000.  Just think, over 7,000 homeless, abandoned and abused animals coming through the doors of Wayside.   Where would they go if it weren’t for Wayside Waifs, the areas largest no kill animal shelter?  Animals like Braveheart, who was brought in last week from Belton Animal Control.  ”

Braveheart was so emaciated and weak, he literally collapsed when he got to our vet clinic.  Our team quickly went into action, IV’s were placed, vitals were checked and he was wrapped in warm blankets to stabilize his rapidly falling body temperature.  An x-ray revealed that Braveheart had ingested metal shards, bones and solid objects.  He was so starved, he literally ate garbage.  Partnering with VSEC, the Wayside Staff came up with a course of treatment.  Within 24 hours, Braveheart was re-hydrated, walking on his own and giving staff big kisses.  We are happy to report he is well on his way to a complete recovery.

We are so grateful to our amazing staff and volunteers at Wayside Waifs, who tirelessly provide the love and care to these precious creatures.  We are also incredibly grateful to you, our donors, who truly make it possible.  Since Wayside Waifs receives no government grants, we rely primarily on individuals like you to support our efforts for the animals.  Animals like Braveheart.

It’s not too late to make sure we end this year well, and further, are well prepared for the thousands of animals who will come through our doors in 2010.  There are many ways go give:

1. Make a cash gift:
        Online at

        Come visit the animals and drop off your donation in person at
        3901 Martha Truman Road, Kansas City, MO  64137

        Mail your gift to:   Wayside Waifs
                                     PO Box 9791
                                     Kansas City, MO  64134

2. Take a look at our Wish List and choose items to donate.

If you happen to be 71 or over, you can make a tax-free gift to us from your traditional IRA.  You won’t pay income tax on the amount of your gift.  Tell your traditional IRA administrator that you want to make a “qualified charitable distribution” to Wayside Waifs and gift them our federal tax
ID 44-0605374, and our legal name, Wayside Waifs, Inc.  The administrator will send your tax-free gift directly to us.  It must be postmarked by December 31, 2009.

Regardless of how you give or the amount of your gift, we hope you do remember the animals this holiday season.  We simply couldn’t help them without you!

Written by Marla Svoboda
Director of Development at Wayside Waifs

Dec 8 2009

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

Miss Lucy in her jacket, grabbing a snack after a walk in the snow.

Miss Lucy in her jacket, grabbing a snack after a walk in the snow.

Winter is definitely upon us!  Not only is it time for humans to dig out their cold weather clothes, it’s also time to think about keeping our pets safe during these arctic cold days.  Here are some tips to keeping your pets safe.

1.  Keep your pets inside.  Limit your pets outside time for bathroom breaks when temperatures start to tumble.  If its too cold for you, it’s defintely too cold for your pet.  If your pet is normally outside, move them to a sheltered garage or heated dog house, away from the wind.     

2. Outdoor cats have been known to find refuge underneath the hoods of cars.  When the car is started, the cat could become injured or even killed by moving parts of the engine.  If you have an outdoor cat, honk the horn before starting the car to give the cat a chance to escape.

3.  Keep your dog on a leash in the winter weather.  Pets can lose their scent in the snow and ice and find refuge in unfamiliar places.  This is also a good opportunity to check your dog or cats id tag to make sure they have the most current contact information in case your pet becomes lost or stolen.  We also recommend mircrochipping your pet.  More dogs are lost during the winter than any other time of the year.

4.  When getting your pet groomed, don’t have them shaved down to the skin.  A longer coat provides more warmth.  Bathing your dog?  Be sure to completely dry them before taking them out for a walk.  For short-haired breeds, put them in a warm sweater with a high collar that gives the pet coverage from the base of their tail to the belly.  My toy poodle Lucy loves to wear her jacket and waits for me to put it on her before going outside.  

5.  Make sure to keep a dry towel near the door when you bring in your dogs from being outside.  Thoroughly dry their paws, legs and belly.  They can pick up bits of salt, antifreeze and other lethal chemicals from being outside.  It can also be painful for the animal to have shards of ice in their fur.   A dogs paws can actually bleed from encrusted ice.  This is also a good opportunity to give them some extra love and praise them for good outdoor behavior.

6.  Never leave your pet alone in a vehicle.  The vehicle can act as a refridgerator, keeping the cold inside and causing your pet to freeze to death. 

7.  If your pet spends a lot of time playing outside, increase his food supply.  Make sure to include extra protein to help keep his fur in great shape.

8.  Coolant and antifreeze are lethal for cats and dogs.  If you have any spills in your garage or driveway make sure to clean them thoroughly.  Stay away from product s that use ethylene glycol.  If your pet should ingest any of these products, call your veterinarian immediately.

9.  Rock salt is also dangerous for pets.  “Safe Paw” is pet safe ice melt is available for sale at Wayside Waifs and is safe for pets. 

10.  Give your pet a warm place to sleep.  Make sure beds are located away from doors and drafts.  Warm blankets or a large pillow is great. 

Written by Trish Stinger
Web Marketing Manager at Wayside Waifs

Dec 2 2009

H1N1 and Our Pets

On October 9, 2009 a family ferret was diagnosed with the 2009 H1N1 virus.  The ferret’s owners had previously been ill with the flu.  Ferrets are susceptible to influenza viruses.  In early November,  the first confirmed case of H1N1 was diagnosed in a family cat, living in Iowa.   According to Dr. Ann Garvey with the Iowa Department of Public Health, the 13-year old indoor cat was exposed to H1N1 by two family members who had been displaying influenza like symptoms.  Dr. Garvey says, “This is not completely unexpected, as other strains of influenza have been found in cats in the past.”  A second cat was diagnosed in Utah on November 13, 2009.  To date, there have not been any confirmed cases of H1N1 in dogs.  What does this mean for pets and their owners? 

First and foremost, don’t panic!  There is no evidence at this time to suggest that people can acquire this virus from their pets.  People are much more likely to be infected with 2009 H1N1 by another person than a pet.  So how is it that these pets became ill from their owners?  Just as the spread of the virus occurs between humans, the same mode of transmission occurs between people and their pets.  Pet owners are who are ill should practice the same precautions recommended to reduce the risk of spread to other people to keep their pets healthy.

1.  If you are ill with a fever, limit your contact with your pets until your fever has been gone for 24 hours.

2. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.

3. Avoid touching your eyes and/or putting your hands in your mouth.

4. Cover sneezes and coughs by shielding your mouth by coughing into the crook of your arm or coughing into a tissue.

If you have reason to believe that your pet is ill, contact your veterinarian.  The ferret and two cats confirmed with the 2009 H1N1 strain displayed signs of respiratory illness which include:

1. Difficulty breathing
2. Lethargy
3. Loss of appetite
4. Fever
5. Runny eyes, runny nose, and coughing. 

Should members of your family be ill with influenza type symptoms and your pet begins to display the symptoms listed above, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Continuing to practice good hygiene is the most effective tool to limit the spread of any disease.

Written By Courtney Thomas
Director of Operations at Wayside Waifs

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