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12saves-bannerThe 6th Save of Christmas: An Old Girl Named Lulu

The Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA helps thousands of animals each year. During the month of December, we share twelve stories about animals saved by the SPCA this year. These stories exemplify our commitment to maintaining Charlottesville-Albemarle as a No Kill community. All of these stories have a happy ending because of the commitment of our SPCA and the generosity and support from people like you. Follow along this month to read all 12 stories on our blog or use the box to the left to sign up to receive our e-news in your inbox.

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Lulu shortly after arriving at the SPCA.

Adopters for a number of reasons often overlook senior animals, even perfectly healthy ones. Unfortunately, Lulu didn’t just have a grey muzzle and life experience when she came to the SPCA – she has some serious medical issues to deal with.

Lulu was found on a large property of a caring family. One day when they were hiking, they found Lulu lying next to a creek. She was too weak to walk and too large to carry, but Lulu waited patiently while the family ran to retrieve a small utility vehicle, which allowed them to drive Lulu to safety and to the medical attention she so desperately needed.

After a nice meal and a warm snuggle in a blanket, Lulu arrived at the SPCA. She still wasn’t able to walk on her own. Clinic staff would soon realized that she had a combination of severe arthritis, intervertebral disc disease and she was urinating blood. As if all this were not enough for poor Lulu to endure, she was also extremely emaciated and obviously hadn’t had the medical care and full belly she needed in some time. The combination of these factors made Lulu’s current quality of life poor and her mobility even worse. The staff immediately recognized that it would be difficult for Lulu to find a home. It is a lot to ask of an adopter to take on a 50-pound dog who isn’t able to walk well, not to mention the fact that Lulu herself was in obvious pain and discomfort. However, it was also evident that Lulu had not received any medical care or attention in some time, so staff committed to do what they could to give her the chance at a pain-free life as a loved pet.  Wasting no time and wanting to make Lulu as comfortable as possible, SPCA veterinarian Dr. Scheller embarked on a plan. Lulu received pain medication to help with her immediate discomfort, and the very next day, Lulu was sedated for a full work-up: radiographs (x-rays), bloodwork, urinalysis, a sanitary shaving, a much-needed bath, and fluids for rehydration.

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Dr. Scheller and Lulu.

We are incredibly fortunate to have the necessary resources to perform these procedures for animals at the SPCA. It is certain that without community support to fund our clinic and our compassionate clinic staff, Lulu would not be a success story. Lulu is so lucky that she ended up at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, where staff, volunteers, and a community of supporters believe that all animals deserve a fighting chance and thus strive to do their very best to ensure the well-being every single animal. Lulu was also lucky enough to catch the eye of the SPCA Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Scheller. Dr. Scheller says, “Of course she caught my eye! She’s an amazing dog. As soon as I saw her, it was very easy for me to imagine the dog she was and the dog she once again could be.”

After treatment, we soon saw a small but instant improvement in Lulu’s attitude. Although it was still difficult for her to get around, she was making progress. She quickly became one of Dr. Scheller’s favorite patients, and she began to spend her lunch breaks taking Lulu on short walks and giving her massages. One Saturday evening, Dr. Scheller decided to take Lulu home for the remainder of the weekend, just to give her a break from the shelter. Dr. Scheller says, “One of the first things I noticed was that Lulu tried to jump into the back of my car and then during the drive she was looking all around and out the window. It was obvious she had been in a car before and this made me wonder about any family she may have had in the past.” Lulu lived with Dr. Scheller for about a month before she decided to make her a permanent member of the family.

Lulu receiving acupuncture with Dr. Greybush.

Lulu receiving acupuncture with Dr. Greybush.

Adopting a senior animal is a wonderful opportunity to give a dog like Lulu the second chance they deserve. And, don’t think that Lulu has retired her puppyish ways! She can often be found stealing food off the table and eating socks. She might be an old gal, but she’s mischievous and quiet young at heart.

Today, Lulu loves to spend her days following her new dad around and sticking as close to him as possible, lounging on her orthopedic beds, and hopping in the back of her mom’s car to go on family vacations. While no one is certain how long Lulu will be with her family, we know for sure that she wouldn’t have stood a chance without the caring family who found her and brought her to the SPCA, without the dedicated SPCA veterinary staff, without a compassionate community of animal loving supporters, and without a new mom who was willing to look past a lengthy medical history and greying muzzle to see the amazing dog beneath it all.

Make a gift so we can continue giving senior pets a second chance at health and happiness. 

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5.

12saves-bannerThe Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA helps thousands of animals each year. During the month of December, we share twelve stories about animals saved by the SPCA this year. These stories exemplify our commitment to maintaining Charlottesville-Albemarle as a No Kill community. All of these stories have a happy ending because of the commitment of our SPCA and the generosity and support from people like you. Follow along this month to read all 12 stories on our blog or use the box to the left to sign up to receive our e-news in your inbox.makeagift

The 5th Save of Christmas: Amelia

amelia-beforeLast March, a sweet Foxhound was found in the Fry’s Springs neighborhood. She had clearly been outside on her own for several weeks, possibly months. A caring couple saw the skinny dog wandering and picked her up and brought her in to the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA. Once she arrived, staff named her Amelia and rushed her to our clinic. Our Veterinarian Dr. Scheller examined her and also realized how special she was. Amelia was given a much-needed bath and several ticks were removed, and it revealed her extremely skinny body. She also had a bit of hair loss around her big eyes and dental disease, caused by malnourishment. Dr. Scheller determined that what Amelia needed more than anything was attention, love and extra feeding.

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Dr. Scheller sent an email to a few of the office staff at the SPCA to see if anyone would be interested in caring for a hound in need of some extra attention and providing her with a few extra meals. I responded and said I would be happy to help care for her in my office. While I don’t work in Animal Care, every employee at the SPCA pitches in with helping to care for animals when needed. Amelia was brought to my office and she was fed several meals a day in order for her to gain weight. She was very exhausted and slept a lot while gaining her strength, but it was apparent that she appreciated all the SPCA staff had done for her. Amelia would look into your eyes while you pet her and you could feel as if she was saying, “Thank you.” photo-webAll she wanted was some love and food. She would go crazy over her meals and attempt to eat anything (even my lunch). My officemate, Sue, and I took care of Amelia from the time she was brought in until she was strong enough to be spayed. We both loved caring for Amelia in our office and hoped that a loving family would adopt her.

Amelia-2-webStill needing more time to recover, I decided to bring Amelia into my home and foster her. I have two dogs and I quickly learned that Amelia would be much happier in a home where she was the only dog. She did fine interacting with my other dogs, but she really loved having all the attention for herself. She would love to cozy up with my husband and I on the couch and cuddle. She adored being loved by people. We really enjoyed having Amelia stay with us, but we knew this wouldn’t be a permanent situation.Amelia-Couch-web

While fostering Amelia, my friend, Katie, mentioned that she had been thinking about getting a dog for her family. Once I told her about how wonderful Amelia was, Katie was excited to meet her. She was looking for a dog that fit the description of Amelia. She was the perfect fit for a family with children, because she wasn’t bothered by much and just wanted to be showered with attention. Soon after our conversation, Katie came to my home for dinner and instantly fell in love with Amelia. After talking it over with family, she decided to adopt Amelia.

Amelia3-webKatie and her two young children enjoy having Amelia in their home and love her to pieces. Amelia cherishes her new home where she gets to lounge around and be spoiled. Katie said, “It’s amazing that Amelia had such a difficult life before coming to us and is still such a sweet, gentle soul. She has quickly become a sofa-hogging, beloved member of our family.” I am so grateful that Amelia has found her perfect home and that I still get to visit her!

Please consider making a life-giving gift so that we may continue saving pets like Amelia.

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The Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA helps thousands of animals each year. During the month of December, we share twelve stories about animals saved by the SPCA this year. These stories exemplify our commitment to maintaining Charlottesville-Albemarle as a No Kill community. All of these stories have a happy ending because of the commitment of our SPCA and the generosity and support from people like you. Follow along this month to read all 12 stories on our blog or use the box to the left to sign up to receive our e-news in your inbox.

The 4th Save of Christmas: Creating a more caring community

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A cat named Camden is alive today because of a caring child who knew to speak up for animals.

This story is a little different. It’s not simply about saving the life of a single pet—at least not directly. It’s about a boy and about changing the future for animals in our community, one person at a time.

Last spring, the SPCA set out to create a summer program meant to foster empathy in some of the most vulnerable adolescents in our community, economically disadvantaged children who may not have had the opportunity to bond with a companion animal.

camp4We designed three one-week empathy-building camps where students were provided the opportunity to work with local mosaic artist Virginia Gardner to create a permanent art piece on the SPCA grounds that celebrates the pet/person bond. Through these camps, we sought to instill a respect and love for animals–ultimately creating a more caring community. Through animal interactions, lessons and artistic expression, students learned about companion animals, their care, and their changing role throughout history helping to foster an understanding, love and respect of animals. During the three weeks, the students worked to create a mosaic Rainbow Bridge in the SPCA’s memorial garden that will benefit the animals at the SPCA and the community. This art project helped to provide the students with a greater sense of purpose, accomplishment, pride, and ultimately boosted their self-esteem. With support from the Bama Works Foundation of the Dave Matthews Band and our generous donors, we were able to provide this camp experience and transportation at no cost to the students. To recruit students, we reached out to social workers, teachers, mentors and social service organizations to refer middle schoolers whom they felt would most benefit from an art-based animal camp. We created the video below to capture the experience.

The experience was transformative. Watching the students receive extra attention, connect with animals, learn new skills and work with one another on a lasting piece of art was truly one of the most rewarding projects of my career. I felt like we were making a positive impact and achieving our goal of cultivating a lasting respect for animals.

camp2I was confident that the camp had made a positive impact on the lives of the students who attended and had greatly improved the SPCA memorial garden, but it would take the arrival of an injured cat on a crisp day in early fall before I would truly realize that we had made a direct lifesaving difference for animals in our community.

One of the campers, a young man I will call Eric, had really flourished during the camp. His social worker expressed what a difference the program had made in him stating,

“The young man I referred to the summer camp was so enthusiastic and excited about the program. He was experiencing a lot of conflict in his home that resulted in him living elsewhere over the summer. Prior to the start of the SPCA camp, we noticed a significant decline in his attitude and an increase in noncompliance. However, when he came home after the first day, he was back to being the respectful and kind young man we were used to.  This experience gave him a sense of purpose and ownership in something bigger than himself.  He was proud of the work he did and the way he was helping both the animals and the shelter.  I think he would agree that this was definitely the highlight of his summer.  It was a real joy to watch him be so passionate and excited about something.”

camp5Wanting Eric to continue to benefit from his connection with animals, we set up some special volunteer days for him after the summer program had ended. On one of his visits, Eric told staff about a community cat in his neighborhood. He felt the cat was being neglected and was contributing to the stray kitten problem in his neighborhood, and he feared for the cat’s safety and health. The following week, Eric brought the injured cat to the SPCA for treatment. The unfixed feline was the victim of a cruel adolescent game and had a fishing hook stuck in his side. Eric was thankful that there was a safe place where he could take the cat, and we were thankful that Eric was able to recognize that the cat was in need and took the necessary steps to save him. The SPCA medical team was able to provide the needed treatment for the feline and neuter him. Now the marmalade tabby, named Camden, awaits a forever home and the chance at love he never had, thanks to a boy named Eric.

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Submit an application online at caspca.org to adopt Camden or come in and meet him today.

With your support, the SPCA plans to offer this camp program again in 2015, please consider making a gift to sponsor child. Your support helps us create a better world for people and animals.makeagift

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12saves-bannerThe 3rd Save of Christmas: MJ

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MJ

The Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA helps thousands of animals each year. During the month of December, we share twelve stories about animals saved by the SPCA this year. These stories exemplify our commitment to maintaining Charlottesville-Albemarle as a No Kill community. All of these stories have a happy ending because of the commitment of our SPCA and the generosity and support from people like you. Follow along this month to read all 12 stories on our blog or use the box to the left to sign up to receive our e-news in your inbox.

The stars were perfectly aligned last May at the SPCA’s First Annual Bow-WOW-Walk. Not only was the event a fundraising success for the animals of the SPCA, but a love connection, like no other, was made.

While being examined prior to being spayed, Dr. Kristen Scheller, SPCA Veterinarian, discovered masses directly above the vulva of an older resident Coonhound named Midge. Dr. Scheller removed the masses and a biopsy was performed. Midge was diagnosed with a Grade II mast cell tumor with a regional lymph node metastis. Follow-up blood work revealed nothing abnormal. While these results were favorable, the veterinarians were highly cautious as there is a great likelihood of recurrence with this type of aggressive cancer. The clinic knew that Midge would need an adopter that was willing to give her the medical attention that she would likely need. It was decided that Midge’s best chance of living a good life – regardless of the length of it – was to make her available through the SPCA’s Angel Adoption program. The program is designed to give pets with special medical needs a second chance to a good life in a loving home. The pet can be adopted at no cost and the adopters, if, they so choose, can receive basic veterinary care for the remainder of the animal’s life at the SPCA clinic at little or no cost.

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Lisa Milliken with MJ with her new pack!

Many of you may remember our former Humane Educator and Volunteer Coordinator, Lisa Milliken. Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer about a year ago. She is in the healing process as her cancer is in remission.   She and her partner, Jackie, came to the Bow-WOW-Walk, eager to spend the beautiful day raising money for the SPCA and agreed to walk one of the SPCA dogs available for adoption. In struts Midge. They learned of her cancer and decided she would be a suitable walking companion. Despite the horrible disease, Midge was full of energy and ended up walking them! By the end of the day, Lisa and Jackie were smitten with Midge and knew they had to take her home to meet the rest of their pack. Midge, now renamed MJ, became a permanent member of their family.

Lisa and MJ relaxing on the sofa.

Lisa and MJ relaxing on the sofa.

 

What to do about the cancer? Just as Lisa has been aggressive and determined in beating back her own cancer, they wanted to help MJ with hers – with the same grit and determination. They opted to take her to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech for her medical care. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the cancer had returned and MJ was diagnosed with a Grade III mast cell tumor. In September, she had a mass removed as well as the right inguinal lymph nodes. She’s presently being treated with weekly doses of vinblastine and other medications in hopes of beating back the cancer. She will continue on this course for a number of weeks. There are no certainties with these types of cancers, but Lisa and Jackie are certain that they will never give up hope.

12saves-mjcarTogether, MJ and Lisa help each other heal and live every day to the fullest. Despite her cancer, MJ’s joie de vivre has never faltered. Lisa reports that MJ wakes every morning with her tail wagging and gives her new family all the love she has. Her spirit and energy has led them to adopt a new motto – Live everyday like MJ!

Please consider making a gift to support angel care for pets like MJ.
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2.

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The 2nd Save of Christmas: Evelyn

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Evelyn when she arrived at the SPCA.

The Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA helps thousands of animals each year. During the month of December, we share twelve stories about animals saved by the SPCA this year. These stories exemplify our commitment to maintaining Charlottesville-Albemarle as a No Kill community. All of these stories have a happy ending because of the commitment of our SPCA and the generosity and support from people like you. Follow along this month to read all 12 stories on our blog or use the box to the left to sign up to receive our e-news in your inbox.

When a Good Samaritan found this beautiful blue pit bull with crudely cropped ears wandering the streets in Albemarle County, she was in rough shape and in desperate need of help. The caring citizen took her directly to the SPCA in the hopes that she could be saved.

Staff named the dog Evelyn and brought her to Clinic staff for immediate attention. Her right front leg had a very deep wound with a strong odor that looked like it had been infected for some time. The portion of her leg below the wound was extremely swollen and appeared painful. As if her leg wound wasn’t enough, Evelyn was also extremely emaciated, missing a large amount of hair, and very scared. She was a pitiful sight and clearly the victim of a horrible case of neglect.

Evelyn with her new family.

Evelyn with her new family.

SPCA Veterinarian Dr. Scheller contemplated treating Evelyn’s wound with medication and regular bandage changes. However, due to the severity of the infection, it was ultimately decided that amputation would give her the best chance at recovery. Dr. Scheller elected to come in on her day off to perform the surgery to remove Evelyn’s infected leg. Due to concern that the wound was the result of a ruptured tumor rather than trauma, once Evelyn’s leg had been amputated, a tissue sample was submitted to IDEXX laboratory for histopathology. The biopsy results showed squamous cell carcinoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer, which had spread to a lymph node nearby. Everyone was thankful that they had opted for the amputation.

Staff knew Evelyn would need a dedicated foster home to help get her back on her feet. After her surgery, Evelyn was lucky enough to go into foster care with super-foster and local veterinarian Marty Betts, who supported her during her recovery. But it seemed like one thing after another for poor Evelyn. While she was recovering, it was discovered that Evelyn had several masses around her mammary glands, as well as a urinary tract infection.

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Evelyn hikes with her canine buddies.

 

Once her infection had been treated and her amputation had healed sufficiently, Evelyn was spayed and the mammary masses were removed. This time Evelyn caught a break—thankfully, none of the masses turned out to be cancerous. Since the day she arrived at the SPCA, Evelyn had packed 10 much-needed pounds on her frame and her skin had dramatically improved. This remarkable, heart-warming transformation was very rewarding for the staff to witness. During her recovery, Evelyn’s foster family had fallen in love with her. And best of all, had found her a permanent home with a family member so she would never be out of touch.

Evelyn, now named Eileen, has transformed from a severely neglected, suffering dog with dull eyes to a beautiful, intelligent dog who, despite her missing limb, loves to run and play with her new dog-siblings. Hiking and car trips are just a few of her favorite things.12saves-evielovescars

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1.

12saves-bannerThe 1st Save of Christmas: Chance

The Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA helps thousands of animals each year. During the month of December, we share twelve stories about animals saved by the SPCA this year. These stories exemplify our commitment to maintaining Charlottesville-Albemarle as a No Kill community. All of these stories have a happy ending because of the commitment of our SPCA and the generosity and support from people like you. Follow along this month to read all 12 stories on our blog or use the box to the left to sign up to receive our e-news in your inbox.

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Chance shortly after arriving at the SPCA.

When Chance arrived at the SPCA as a stray, on a cold day just after the start of 2014, almost no one thought he stood a chance. The severely emaciated tuxedo cat’s coat was filthy and matted, he had cuts on his face, his saliva was bloody and foul smelling, his ears tattered and he could hardly stand. Concerned that the cat was suffering, staff rushed him to the SPCA Veterinarian to be examined. Initial diagnostic tests revealed that Chance was FIV-positive, dehydrated and had severe anemia. While the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA works hard to treat and place FIV-positive cats into homes, these laboratory abnormalities combined with his poor physical presentation suggested that Chance was uncomfortable, possibly suffering, and would likely have a poor quality of life. While the SPCA medical team was strongly considering euthanasia as a humane option, the weak and tiny cat that lay on the table before them began to purr loudly and butt his head into the hand of a clinic assistant as if to say, “take a chance on me”. It was then that despite his rough condition and slim odds, staff knew they needed to fight to save Chance.

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Chance with his foster mom.

Throughout the coming days, Chance was offered multiple warmed meals, started on medications to help heal his painful oral ulcerations, and he was given IV fluids to hydrate. Chance continued to amaze staff by eating his meals, even purring and rubbing his head on any staff member administering his medication, as if to say how grateful he was for the treatment. After almost three weeks of this special care, Chance had become a staff favorite and while still being treated for an upper respiratory infection and mouth ulcers, he was stable enough to go to an experienced foster home. The medical team hoped that in a home Chance would heal, gain weight and become strong enough for dental surgery to remove his abscessed teeth. Once the SPCA medical team believed he was strong enough, Chance was placed under general anesthesia for his neuter surgery and his mouth ulcerations were cleaned.12saves-chance3

Chance went back to his foster home to recover from the first of his surgeries, and he began to make friends with some other cats in the home. His mischievous personality began to emerge–he claimed a closet in the home as his own and would regularly steal toys from his feline housemates. After nearly three months of recovery, Chance had increased his body weight by a third, and was ready for dental extractions.

Chance’s dental surgery was a success and his mouth is now pain free. His foster mom reported that after the surgery, Chance really blossomed, even becoming so bold as to snatch food right off of their plates. She even has the video to prove it! Food wasn’t the only thing he stole, however: he also stole their hearts and they made him a permanent part of their feline family.

Please make a gift so we can continue to save the pets that need someone to take a chance on them.

Give a holiday gift in honor of a friend and we will send them a holiday card announcing your gift.

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Chance at home today.

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