Declawing: the painful truth

Declawing cats can cause permanent harm.

Many people misunderstand declawing, thinking that it is a harmless, simple procedure to protect their furniture. In truth, it is a major amputation which can cause permanent physical and psychological harm to your cat. Declawing removes the last joint of the toe, and is comparable to removing a human’s finger at the first knuckle. 

Declawing can cause medical complications.

Every cat experiences a painful recovery period after declawing, but the unlucky ones also experience immediate complications—infection or necrosis—or chronic ones such as lifelong lameness, nerve damage, bone spurs, atypical claw regrowth, and back pain. Declawing changes the way a cat moves and uses his foot, which effectively makes him feel like he’s wearing ill-fitting shoes for the rest of his life. 

Declawing can cause behavioral problems.

Due to post-surgical pain while standing in the litter box, many declawed cats develop litter box aversion and unwanted elimination problems. Seeking comfort, a declawed cat may begin hiding his stools and urine in other places around the home. Declawed cats can also become fearful and defensive, biting out of fear if they feel powerless after removal of their natural protection. 

Scratching is a healthy, normal behavior. 

Kittens and grown cats can be encouraged to engage in this healthy physical and mental exercise in appropriate ways: an affordable cardboard scratching pad, a carpeted or twine-wrapped scratching post, or any of a number of similar purchased or homemade products can become your cat’s favorite spot for scratching, stress relief, and kitty yoga. Experiment to see what your cat likes best, then sweeten it with a pinch of catnip! With positive training methods, you can help your cat understand which surfaces are off limits. Our staff can point you toward training resources if you are struggling with inappropriate scratching in your home. 

The Humane Society of Skagit Valley does not place cats in homes where declawing is planned. 

Sometimes, declawed adult cats come to us and are made available for adoption. These cats must be kept as 100% indoor pets, as they have no natural defenses against predators and their ability to flee is compromised. 

Online resources:

End of year gratitude

High five! Dylann, the daughter of a shelter staff member,
greets one of our smallest residents.
The Humane Society of Skagit Valley will close at 3 pm on New Years Eve and all day New Years Day. We will resume regular shelter hours for the remainder of the week.

We at the Humane Society of Skagit Valley - the Board of Directors, the staff, the volunteers, and our pawed, clawed, winged, furred, scaled, and feathered friends - wish to thank you for your fantastic support this year. 2013 was incredible, and we couldn't have done this lifesaving work without your help! We look forward to a great 2014! From our hearts to yours, in humane service - thank you.

Janine Ceja, Executive Director

The season of giving

What a season it has been at HSSV! Our animals have been the recipients of incredible, generous gifts all month long . . . AND we've had record numbers of adoptions! We are always especially touched when we receive memorial donations in honor of remembered loved ones.

Jan Wilson came in before Christmas to honor her beloved dog angels, Bogie, Dollie, and Brownie. The three German Shorthaired Pointers, all rescued, brought so much joy to Jan during their lives that she felt compelled to give back to the dogs here at HSSV. That's just what she did! With training treats, balls, kongs, rope toys, and more, not to mention two big sacks of kibble for our kitty friends, Jan shared her love for pets with the dozens who wait here at HSSV for a home.

We have been so touched by every gift, every donation, every adoption success, and every loving caress that's been shared with our homeless pets this holiday season.

Thanks to you, we've saved an incredible number of lives. Thank you.

To see more of our December success stories and meet some of the donors who are making such a difference here at HSSV, visit our facebook page (!

The generosity of friends

Here are Vicki and Cheryl, two of the many donors who have helped brighten the lives of our shelter animals this season with their generous donations. Vicki and Cheryl contributed 10 big bags of cat and kitten food to our homeless pets yesterday!

Donations of essential products like this allow us to use our operational budget for other vital needs like medications, emergency vet visits, and enrichment toys.

If you would like to donate a new or used, handmade or purchased item or product to our shelter, please drop by any time or send an email. We greatly appreciate it.

Bye bye, Cindy Lou Who and Handsome Clark!

Beautiful Cindy Lou Who and handsome Clark both went home with loving new families yesterday! Clark was so gentle and sweet with his new human baby brother! 
We wish them all the best. 

Christmas comes early to HSSV!

WOW! That's all we can say! When Tiffany and Mike Matson asked for help bringing in a donation this morning, we expected to carry a sack of kibble or a case of biscuits. We were surprised when it took a staff member, a volunteer, and both of the Matsons five full minutes to ferry this gigantic pile of gifts, beds, blankets, food, formula, biscuits, supplies, and toys in from their vehicle.

Tiffany and Mike said it was the least they could do for the shelter pets, and that they had help from Robert and Jeannette Ford with gathering the supplies. "It's a gift from our dog to these dogs," they said.

Thank you, Tiffany, Mike, Robert, and Jeannette . . . and thanks to supporters, donors, and volunteers everywhere who are going above and beyond to make sure the animals in the shelter have happy holidays and stay warm this December.

Update on Nero

We regret to announce that our veterinarian's assessment of Nero, our mixed-breed dog who came in with hypothermia and severe damage to the face and skull, is not good. He will be humanely euthanized today. For additional information, you may visit our fundraising page where we raised enough money to pay for today's x-rays and vet visit. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for helping us provide Nero the compassionate care he needed and deserved today. 

Coming up next weekend . . . tell your friends!

Saturday, December 7, we're headed to the Sedro-Woolley Skagit Farmer's Supply for 
Photos with Santa Paws! 11 am to 5 pm
Photos printed onsite for $10, all proceeds to HSSV
Sunday, December 8, we're headed to the Paws-Abilities Total dog Center in Fife for 
A Canine Christmas Extravaganza Adoption Event, 12 pm to 3 pm
More than 150 dogs will be available for adoption from 16 animal rescue organizations,
including HSSV, at this fun and festive event! Come get photos with Santa Paws and find Christmas gifts at the pet supply vendor booths.Opt to adopt and save a life this holiday season! For more information, visit

Thank goodness for foster families!

Bear and his foster mom
are getting out of here!
We are so grateful to our wonderful foster network, who do the hard work of raising orphaned and newborn puppies and kittens and who give our adult animals much-needed breaks from the stress and loneliness of shelter life.

This week, Casia the elderly spaniel and Bear the noble Pyrenees blend both went into foster homes, and Harry Houdini came back to the shelter after a nice vacation.

If you live in Skagit County and would like to open your home for a short or long-term foster animal, drop by and apply. You'll warm your home, make a friend, and help to save a life.

Puppies galore!

We are awash with puppies at HSSV today! The M litter is five shnauzer blends that look like they'll grow to medium sized dogs. Three found homes. Martin and Matrix, who are both white with black markings, are still available. The Z litter is three little girls and a boy who were found beside a highway with big wormy bellies! They are sweet and beautiful, and look like lab/border collie blends. They are blonde (with one black puppy in the litter). Jupiter is the last of his litter, and he looks like a dobie mix with brown points and a black and white speckled chest. He is a real sweetie! Applications are being taken now for all seven of them.

Stray lab mix

Are you missing this beauty? She just came in and is being held before being offered up for adoption. She is a friendly, healthy girl and we are guessing she has a family that misses her!

Congratulations, Rufus!

Our talented Pup-O-Lantern carving contest winner was gracious enough to suggest we donate his prize basket to a deserving adopted pet . . . and here's Rufus, who took home the prize as he left with his proud new parents last night! Rufus is a sweet, lovable hunk of a dog and we are so pleased that he finally found his perfect home.

Fur and Feathers and Scales, Oh My!

It's raining cats and dogs today, but that's not all! We have a lot of non-canine, non-feline pets here at the Humane Society of Skagit Valley. We have five birds, a turtle, and a rabbit available for adoption now! Here are our furred, scaled, and feathered stars:

Jeffrey, the red-eared slider. This lively, gentle aquatic turtle
would love to crawl on into your home and heart! 

Lola, the African Gray parrot.
Lola talks, whistles, bonds strongly with women,
and is extremely tame and social! 

He's cute, he's fluffy, he's . . . Oscar!
This is one of the sweetest, most beautiful,
and friendliest rabbits around. 

Pip & Periwinkle (above) or Sky & Hunch (below) are beautiful budgie pairs.
They are not tame but they twitter sweetly and bring joy and beauty to all who see them! 

Thanks, Skagit Valley Hospital!

Our cats are so grateful for their new blue hammocks! These cloths came as a donation from the Skagit Valley Hospital, which also donates the blue tarp cage liners that our staff and volunteers rely on to keep our cats healthy and clean. We used shower curtain rings to hang the cloths in each cat cage, and our residents are enjoying relaxing in their new hanging hammocks!

The hospital tarps that we rely on during cage cleaning every day come from opened packages which are new but cannot be used for humans once their sterile seal is broken. We love this generous gift from the hospital, which helps us care for the cats while cutting down on landfill trash.

Looking for a pet who's not yet listed?

We have a very full house right now! We have so many new animals in the shelter that over 20 have not even been added to our website listings yet. We're working to get those records and photos added, but if you're looking for a pet and not seeing the perfect match, come on down. Those not yet listed, including Orson, Bear, Millie, Banksia, Rocky, Matilda, Maurice, Pauly, Duke, Suzie, Halo, Mork, Cleveland, Patches, Spring, Summer, Austin, Sydney, Poppet, Garfield, Cleo, Princess, Damon, and Juju, are among the many whiskery faces waiting to meet you!

Pupkin carving contest

Do you think you have what it takes to carve the prettiest, silliest, or most doggone wonderful PUPkin on the block? Are your Cat-o-lantern skills dying to be tested? Enter our PUPkin carving contest by sharing your pet-themed pumpkin carvings at between now and October 31! The photo with the most likes by the end of the month will earn a pet-themed gift basket.

Remember, jack-o-lanterns must be animal-themed (carve any furred, feathered, or finned friend) and friends must like the photo on OUR page for votes to count.

Ready . . . set . . . carve!
Photo courtesy BallWalkPark

Thank you,!

Some slowdown in our pet update processing and some glitches with pet photo sharing have gotten us down over the past few weeks, but we have a happy announcement: with some tools available from, we've refreshed our pet search sliders. Now the pets on our available dogs, available cats, and other available critters pages are up to date and ready to view! Have a look right here on our website, or visit our current Facebook pet list here!

Pet-a-Palooza coming up!

We'll be at the Mount Vernon Skagit Farmers Supply Country Store this weekend with some adoptable pets, and we hope you'll join us for free espresso, pet product samples, free caricature drawings of your own furry family members (Saturday 12-3 pm), and discounts on supplies for all the animals in your life.

Trick or Treat

Photo courtesy Banfield Charitable Trust
Spooky streets, tasty treats . . . and pets in danger? We hope not! Halloween can be a dangerous holiday for pets, but with a few simple steps you can help guarantee that the holiday involves more fun than fear for your canine and feline companions.

1) Keep candy safely stowed away! Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and overdosing on candy and sweets can make any pet sick. 

2) Keep pet/child interactions safe. Remember, your pet may not understand why you're opening the door to hundreds of scary monsters and excited strangers! A pet might be safest in a closed bedroom or crate (if he or she is crate trained). Indoor cats might see the strange holiday as a chance to dart for the door. 

3) If your pet is going to be dressing up, respect his or her needs and body language. If he or she seems frightened or uncomfortable, rethink that dogosaurus suit and try for something a little less restrictive or scary! 

4) Use ID. Holidays are often filled with unexpected sights and sounds, and it is possible that your pet might be frightened enough to escape or run away. In addition to trying to keep your pets secure at home, please use ID tags and microchips on your pets to vastly increase the chances of a happy reunion! 

Trip's got a ticket to ride!

First, let us say THANKS for the friendship and lifesaving support you showed us by coming down to our 38th Anniversary PAWty last weekend! 19 animals found their forever homes on Saturday. If you missed the big event, don't worry . . . we still have nearly a hundred future best friends waiting here to meet you.

Second, we wanted to let you know that the handsome Trip has a not-so-secret admirer. While his new friend can't adopt him, she did make a donation to support his placement in a forever home! This sponsorship, donated by Shanna Deleon in honor of Michelle Hopson's birthday, will cover a portion of Trip's adoption fee.

If you're looking for a handsome, sociable cat then this is the guy for you. Come down and meet him any time, seven days a week.

It's my PAWty, and I'll wag if I want to!

Hurry on down! 
Whiskers polished? Check. Lickers ready? Check. Purrs primed? Check. Shells buffed? Check. Wings warmed up? Check. Hoppers engaged? Check. Ears perked? Check.

Looks like the dogs, cats, kittens, puppies, rabbits, cockatiels, parrots, budgies, and turtles are ready for this weekend's 38th Anniversary PAWty! With extended business hours (11 to 5), $38 dollar adoptions (to approved applicants), refreshments, a family friendly atmosphere, and over a hundred loving animals to greet you, what could be a better way to spend an autumn Saturday!

We are proud to have placed pets, saved lives, and served our community for 38 years. Whether you want to adopt a pet or just visit, we hope you'll come down to celebrate with us this weekend.

Click here to sign up for the event on Facebook:

Two special survivors

Nathan and Jessie came to us from terribly sad circumstances . . . they were found abandoned, in a crate, in the water, in a ditch! They were nearly drowned and hypothermic, and their future looked grim.

Luckily, a kind stranger found them and brought them to us. Warmth, care, and time paid off and both Jessie and Nathan came around! They are out of the woods, but still need families of their own.

Nathan is a handsome dark tabby boy and Jessie is a big, social tabby girl with a crinkly ear! Nathan seems a little more distressed after his awful experience than Jessie does, but both cats are fully physically recovered and both like people and are sure to find their happiness again once they're in a safe, loving home.

We are hoping to place them together or separately in homes that will guarantee a lifetime of security and comfort.

Foster care sought for sweet chihuahua mom

We are looking for a quiet foster home where Natasha can feel safe! She is a pregnant chihuahua and wants to give birth someplace warm and safe. We hope to find a home that provide care until Natasha and her puppies are ready to come back to the shelter and look for their forever homes. Dad is also a chihuahua, and is looking for his forever home now.

 Would you welcome this sweet girl and her soon-to-come puppies to your home for a few months this fall?

Foster applicants must pass our screening process.

Share your event memories with us!

Did you have fun at last weekend's Anne Jackson Memorial Run/Walk? Our pets, staff, and volunteers sure did! Please join us at to share your photos, stories, memories, and tales from the day!

Did you walk with a dog? Who, and what's his or her story?

Did you run? Did you run to win, or to beat your personal best, or to just to help the animals?

Would you like to get involved in planning for next year?

We want to know what YOU got out of this event . . . because next summer, when we hold the 6th Annual run/walk, we want it to be just what YOU want!

Our heartfelt thanks

To all who ran, walked, volunteered, donated, or offered their sponsorship for last weekend's 5th Annual Anne Jackson Memorial Run/Walk, we offer our heartfelt thanks. Not only was it a vital fundraiser to help support our lifesaving work, it was also a unique opportunity to get to know our friends and supporters and to see lots of beloved HSSV alumni pets! We had a wonderful time, and we hope you did too! Watch for additional photos from the event in the coming days.

 If you are interested in learning about sponsorship opportunities for our 2014 run or if you'd like to get involved in other upcoming events, please email

Ready to run? June shows you how it's done!

June spent her first week at the shelter drying up her milk supply. (When she was brought in by animal control, she was engorged with milk. We don't know what happened to the puppies.) Now that she's more comfortable, she's ready to PLAY!

June has a message for you today: "Run on down to the Humane Society of Skagit Valley for our annual Anne Jackson Memorial Run/Walk"! The race is tomorrow, Saturday June 14. It's not too late to register online or in person!

Short on food for our cat community

The cats in our catch-and-release feral community here on the shelter grounds are low on food! Your donations of cat food (any brand) will be greatly appreciated. If you can bring food by the shelter any time during business hours (11-4 weekends, 11-5 weekdays) we would be grateful. 

Maude, shown here, has been spayed and  released into our feral cat community. 

Love notes to shelter pets

photo courtesy etsy user ArtyDidact
Do you have a favorite cat, dog, or bird at HSSV? Send them your love notes! If you can write a few words about why you like your favorite—what he or she did to win your heart—we'll share that with potential adopters. Maybe your note will be the one that sparks a fire of interest in his or her future best friend!

Notes can be submitted via email, snail mail, or Facebook!

Thanks, and keep on visiting!

Thank you, sponsors!

We would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of our upcoming Anne Jackson Memorial Run/Walk:

 Frank and Linda Bothwell

Canyon Law Office

 Letillier's Pet Grooming

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