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How to Help the Victims of the North Bay Fires

On Sunday October 8th, I was driving home in the evening and I could feel the wind pulling my car while driving on the freeway. I remember thinking to myself that it hadn’t been windy all day, and this wind came suddenly and in full force…it was odd. But I thought nothing of it as I continued to drive home. The next morning when I woke up, I saw on the news that the late Sunday night fires had started in the North Bay and due to the severe and sudden winds, had spread quickly.

By Tuesday morning, we learned the magnitude of the situation. This was the worst wildfire ever in the state, and that many people had been evacuated and lost their homes, and many others lost their lives in this deadly and uncontrollable wildfire. By Wednesday, the Bay Area was enveloped in smoke and many people continued mobilizing relief efforts for those who had lost their homes and were staying at relief centers. At that point, the fire was only 3% contained and there were worries that the changing winds in the area could cause the fires to continue to grow, so more and more families were being evacuated.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I had an overwhelming sense of “we have to do something”. My heart ached for those affected by the recent disasters and tragedies, and I knew that I could contribute in some way.

Due to the air quality and the need to keep the freeways free of traffic, authorities began urging people to donate to specific sites locally that would then organize and distribute the delivery of those items. Due to the generosity of my co-workers I was able to drop off donations from our office to Bishop Ranch Veterinary Hospital in San Ramon, California. When I walked in, I was overwhelmed by the huge room filled with donations. It definitely felt like the Bay Area had stepped up to support our neighbors in the North Bay.

As of this morning, the fires are still not 100% contained. First responders have done an amazing job and have worked endlessly to prevent the fires from growing, and they hope to have the fires 100% contained by Friday.

Many of you may be thinking to yourself, why am I writing about this now? The fires happened two weeks ago. Its because people will need our help the most in the next few weeks. Once the media stops covering the story and the organizations run through the initial outpour of donations, there is a lull. In that lull is when people start taking the next steps toward rebuilding their lives, and there are still ways that you can help.

Whether a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake, the trauma of living through a natural disaster is deep and excruciating. When the waters recede, the winds die down, or the earth stops shaking, we begin the clean up of our homes and neighborhoods. – Psychology Today

Housing

More than 6,000 homes were lost in the wildfires, and that is the most immediate need at this moment. If you live in the area, here are a few things you can do (Mercury News):

  1. Offer to let people park their RV on your property: many people fled the fire in their RV’s, but lost their homes and now have nowhere to go.
  2. Rent out vacation homes or rooms nearby to people who lost their homes
  3. AirBnB: If you have an AirBnB in the area, or know of someone who has one, AirBnB is offering free housing for those displaced by the fires through the end of the month.
  4. If you know of a housing option for people in the area, you can email: HousingResources@sonoma-county.org

Donate

Donating is always an option to help those affected by natural disasters. I believe that donating to an organization is a very personal choice. SFGate has outlined several organizations who are accepting donations to help those affected by the fires.

Additionally, Psychology Today recommends that you stagger your donations over time in correspondence with the recovery period. The victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and those affected by these wildfires will be recovering for years to come, but could definitely use our help in the coming months.

As soon as mainstream and social media move on to the next news story, so does the attention of donors and helpers. In one study, for example, there was a sharp drop-off in giving six weeks after a natural disaster, and by week 14, donations had dried up completely. – Psychology Today

How to Help the Victims of the North Bay Fires

Animals

Often, when natural disasters occur, there are many pets who become separated from their people. As a result, animal services in the surrounding areas become overwhelmed with pets. Many of which do not have the space or the volunteer capacity to take in pets in addition to the ones they already have.

However, when each local organization helps a little, it makes a huge difference. The East Bay SPCA has been traveling up to Santa Rosa to pick up pets and take them to shelters and rescues in the many cities throughout the East Bay, in addition to helping animals from the North Bay find their forever homes!

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco took in dogs like Dudley Do-Right to provide space for displaced pets in the North Bay.

These organizations are working hard to save the lives of animals, so here’s how you can help!

Rescue: rescuing animals is always important, but right now, there are so many shelters and rescues who have been affected by the recent disasters and can’t take in new animals. If now is the right time to add another pet to your family, please consider rescuing.

Foster: If you can’t bring another dog or cat permanently into your home right now, consider fostering a pet, for the next few weeks. Fostering provides space in the shelter for temporarily displaced animals to give them time to reunite with their families.

Examples of Kindness

In recent weeks the people of the North Bay have been in many people’s thoughts and prayers, and while the tragedies have been overwhelming, these are times when we are reminded just how kind and courageous people and animals can be. So here is a story that provides an excellent example of kindness.

Canine Companions for Independence

Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs, is headquartered in Santa Rosa. While the facility remains safe, all dogs and people were evacuated for about a week to ensure the safety of the dogs, employees, and volunteers. While many are safe, some of the employees and volunteers in the Santa Rosa area lost their homes. Our community is raising funds to support however we can, and this past weekend in an effort to continue to provide support for the Santa Rosa community, volunteers brought their dogs up to visit the first responders and provide them with some doggie therapy. I have been a volunteer with this organization since 2014, and I can’t say how proud I am of all of the people and dogs in this community who continue to quickly respond and support those who needed it.

If there is anything I left out, please leave ideas for supporting those affected by the North Bay fires in the comments below.

Photo: Andrew Robles

Today, We Remember…

Sixteen years ago our country was changed forever.

Today, I want to take a moment to remember those who lost everything in the tragedies of 9/11. Many people lost their lives and loved ones, and nothing will ever be able to heal those wounds. Today, I want to honor every rescuer (both dog and human), doctor, nurse, soldier, and family member who was directly affected by the tragedies of this day.

My heart goes out to you…

…we will never forget.

Helping Others

Leading up to today, I have been thinking about first responders. Those who risk life and limb to rescue the loved ones of other people, and I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by gratitude for their selflessness. Especially because, as many first responders did sixteen years ago, there are many more first responders saving people across the country who have been affected by the recent hurricanes and wildfires.

As I began thinking about how to honor first responders and those who have fully experienced the tragedies of not only 9/11, but of the many others since then, I began to compose the following list in my mind of things we all can do to help.

Donate

The first may be the most obvious, but of course, we can donate to the many organizations putting together relief efforts for the current hurricanes and wildfires. Whether you are donating to organizations to help humans or animals, any little bit can help provide more resources and support to those who need it.

Organize & Join

Many local groups are organizing relief efforts. If your local area hasn’t yet done so, you could lead the charge! Or, you can join in the efforts of others. Many animal organizations are putting together efforts to relieve the local shelters and rescues affected by natural disasters. Other local organizations are putting together items to help people recover. In some cases, you may have these extra items already in your home!

Random Acts of Kindness

If you aren’t sure what to do, I believe there is no better way to honor people who selflessly sacrifice their safety to save others, than to use your days on Earth to spread kindness. People save people because they want us to go on and live great lives. People save animals because they are the epitome of kindness and joy. Here is a brief list of random acts of kindness that can bring joy to this world and honor those who give (some ideas I found on the internet, others were ideas from myself and my coworkers).

  1. “Cook a meal or do a load of laundry for a friend who just had a baby or is going through a difficult time.” (Buzzfeed)
  2. Send someone you love or miss a letter or a gift.
  3. Buy a coffee for the person behind you in line.
  4. “If you walk by a car with an expired parking meter, put a quarter in it.” (Buzzfeed)
  5. Call a relative you know would love to hear from you.
  6. Thank your veterinarian, they hear it a lot less often than you think.
  7. “Offer to return a shopping cart to the store for someone loading groceries in their car.” (Buzzfeed)
  8. Bake cookies for your neighbor.
  9. Buy dinner for your parents.
  10. Bring snacks or food into the office for your coworkers.
  11. Bring dog toys to your friend’s dog.
  12. Buy your friend who is going through a difficult time a meal.
  13. Pick up trash in your neighborhood.
  14. “Help someone carry their groceries.” (Shari’s Berries)
  15. Give someone a ride who needs one.
  16. “Leave flowers on someone’s doorstep.” (Shari’s Berries)
  17. “Make and give care packages to the homeless.” (Shari’s Berries)
  18. Thank a veteran, or send a care package to a soldier.
  19. “Take your neighbor’s dog for a walk.” (Shari’s Berries)
  20. Help an elderly person or a person with a disability cross the street or run an errand.

How do you chose to remember or help first responders and others affected by tragedies and natural disasters?

“What Do You Feed Rooney?” – Petcurean

The other day Rooney and I were at a Corgi meetup, and I had what was a very typical conversation with another pet parent.

I asked what their Corgi’s name was and how old they were. When they asked me the same, and I said that Rooney was 7, they asked me, “What do you feed him? Because he looks great!”.

Obviously I am biased. I think Rooney looks great, especially for 7. However when someone compliments how youthful your dog acts and looks, it feels good as a pet parent to know that you are doing everything you can to keep your dog young and healthy. But the question is, how do you know you are feeding your dog the right food?

Well, a huge part of learning about pet nutrition is learning how to read the food label. Petcurean put together this information with 5 food label essentials pet parents need to know:

Ingredients Panel:

  • The ingredients list is probably the most recognizable portion of the nutrition panel. What some pet owners may not know however is that the ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, which means the first ingredient is the largest quantity and the last ingredient is the smallest.
  • Tip: Buying economy brands of pet food is not always a money saver. Some economy brands use inexpensive ingredients that aren’t highly digestible. This means you must feed your dog more portions of the food just to ensure they’re meeting their nutritional requirements. In the long run, the cost per serving for a lower quality food is much higher than that of a premium food where your pet can get all of their nutrients from one serving.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • This section provides information about the nutrient content of the food. It should include the minimums for Crude protein and Crude fat, as well as the maximum Crude Fiber and Moisture. Additionally, any nutrients highlighted on the packaging must be included in the guaranteed analysis.
  • Tip: You can find the guaranteed analysis of a pet food product on a company’s website or by contacting the company. Here’s an example for Petcurean’s GO! Sensitivity + Shine LID Venison Recipe For Dogs.

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Feeding Guidelines:

  • The feeding guidelines should only serve as a starting point for deciding how much to feed your pet, as it heavily depends on your pet’s size, age, and activity level.
  • Tip: The best way to assess proper feeding is by calculating your pet’s body condition score. You can find that out here.

If you have any questions about how much you are feeding your pet, bring the food to your pet’s next annual exam and discuss with your veterinarian.

Nutritional Adequacy Statement:

  • This statement tells you if the food is complete and balanced, meaning it meets all of your pet’s nutritional requirements. It will also tell you if the product should be used only for intermittent feeding or as a treat.
  • Tip: Pay attention to what stage of life this section recommends for feeding. It should be labeled for all life stages or for one stage in particular.

Certifications:

  • Organic: An organic certification means that the production methods comply with organic farming standards. The primary goal of organic production is to use farming practices that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment.
  • MSC: The Marine Stewardship Council is an independent international non-profit certification organization that promotes sustainable fishing practices. An MSC certification is based upon three principles: sustainable fish stocks, minimizing environmental impacts, and effective management.
  • Vegan: The primary criteria for a product to receive the Certified Vegan logo is that the producer must prove that no ingredients were sourced from animals, no animal testing was permitted, adequate segregation of vegan and non-vegan ingredients was ensured and adequate clean out procedures were followed in facilities that produce vegan and non-vegan products.

GATHER™ dog and cat recipes have received three different food certifications, Vegan, MSC certified, and Organic, to provide transparency about the ingredients that have been carefully selected for these diets.

Do you check your pet’s food label? If so, what specifically do you look for?

Disclaimer: We are part of the Petcurean Blogger Advocate program. However, we feed Rooney Petcurean every day. My Kid Has Paws only shares information about products we like and we believe our readers will enjoy.

Rooney Photo by Pawpawrazzi Pet Photography

6 Ways You Can Help Pit Bulls – Because Breed Discrimination Isn’t Okay

For reasons I can’t quite figure out, bully breeds and Pit Bulls are discriminated against left, right, and center. As a result, the data surrounding bully breeds and Pit Bulls is disheartening.

In 2014, the ASPCA pulled data from 30 shelters from their Comprehensive Animal Risk Database and learned that Pit Bulls were the ranked first in intake, first in euthanasia, and third in adoption. Considering that the 2014 State of Pet Health from Banfield, showed that Pitbulls were ranked 5th most popular among Banfield clients, the numbers don’t quite add up.

Dr. Emily Wiess from the ASPCA hypothesized that the relinquishment of large breed dogs, or in this case, Pit Bull-type dogs was due to the lack of suitable housing where you can have a dog or Pit Bull. Not to mention the increased breed-specific legislation in recent decades.

So if people like Pit Bulls, and want to give them loving and caring homes, but can’t, how are we ever going to make progress for the Pit Bull breed? Here are 6 ideas:

1. Know Your Facts & DeBunk the Myths 

The amount of data supporting that 1) Pit Bulls aren’t really dangerous, just advertised as more dangerous than other dogs, and 2) Pit Bulls actually make great family dogs, is astounding, yet the stereotype persists.

There are lots of articles and stories available that aren’t actually supported by fact or animal science and, therefore, shouldn’t be used in arguments against Pit Bulls or Bully Breeds. However, when someone wants to say something that is presumptuous and wrong, all you can do is fight with facts.

What exactly is a Pit Bull? 

According to an article published in Anthrozoös (A multidisciplinary journal of the interactions of people and animals) in 1987, there are several factors that can attribute to breed biases, but one, in particular, continues to cause issues; “difficulty identifying a breed” . When people use the term Pit Bull, they are actually including 4 different breeds: the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the Bulldog (possibly some additional breeds depending on the source) and a mixture of all of these breeds.

So, Step 1 is to educate yourself and others around you about how hard it is to identify a dog as a true Pit Bull. Identification is important because as of now, people are lumping many different breeds into the same category, and then assuming that one category is full of dogs that behave the same.

Do you think you can easily identify a Pit Bull? Try this online quiz: http://www.pickthepit.com 

After you have correctly defined what a Pit Bull is, it’s time to start debunking myths. Some typical myths about PitBulls that can be debunked include the following:

Myth #1 Pit Bulls have lockjaws. 

You will see the work of Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin from the University of Georgia cited several times in reference to this research. In 1987, he gave a presentation at the Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine and referenced some interesting findings in his research and data.

1) The bite data available at that time was skewed due to a lack of AKC registrations for Pit Bulls. He stated, “Accordingly, registration statistics are an unreliable index of the general population, and reported relative bite-rate statistics by breed that use registration statistics have to be recalculated in favor of the pit bull terrier. If you indeed corrected the calculations to represent the number of Pit Bulls registered, Dr. Brisbin argued that you would see research listing several other breeds as more dangerous ahead of Pit Bulls.

2) Pit Bulls are no stronger than any other comparably sized breed: “Pit Bull terrier skulls showed no remarkable features that would support any claims that their bite is more powerful than any comparably sized dog.”

Myth #2 & 3: Pit Bulls are inherently aggressive & breed specific legislation is helpful

In a study supported by the National Canine Research Council and presented to the AVMA in 2013, a team of veterinary researchers determined that most dog bite-related fatalities were, “characterized by coincident, preventable factors; breed was not one of these. Study results supported previous recommendations for multifactorial approaches, instead of single-factor solutions such as breed-specific legislation, for dog bite prevention.”

I know I’ve put on weight but that’s completely irrelephant.

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How to Discern Fact from Fiction

When you, or anyone else, goes to research a breed, it is very important that you know how to identify sources that are not credible.

  • Look into the background of the author. Are they a veterinarian, veterinary technician, animal behaviorist, or another animal-related professional? If the answer is no, then consider their experience anecdotal, unless their claims are backed by credible sources.
  • Know your sources. Facts are not facts if they are from a generic website. You will notice that I don’t include facts in my writing without also including a source. Sources are important and should be from professional websites, peer-reviewed journals, and veterinary institutions.

Support a Pit Bull or Bully Breeds Cause

Recently, I was contacted by Jody, whose daughters, Gigi & Ryan wrote a beautiful children’s book called “Too Licky”, all about the experience of adopting their rescue dog, Sugar. Along their journey to rescue Sugar, Gigi & Ryan learned about breed discrimination, and have decided to give 50% of the proceeds from their book sales to Shelter Organizations and Bully Breed Advocate Organizations. For more information, and to show your support, please check out their Kickstarter campaign here!

Share the Positive Stories

Between the dog fighting industry and the media, it’s really easy to find negative stories about Pit Bulls, but harder to find good positive stories that debunk the myths and have the power to change people’s perspectives.

Recently, I was contacted by Scott Smith, who writes for ConsumersAdvocate.org. Scott put together 15 stories from Pit Bull owners and rescues titled “Pit Bulls Straight From the Heart”.

“One common theme throughout this story is that Pit Bulls are so grateful despite the horrors of their past. Once rescued and loved, their resentment seems to just dissipate. Boy, people could learn a thing or two from Pit Bulls, that’s for sure.” – Scott Smith, Pit Bulls Straight From the Heart

His post is a must-read as it includes feel good stories about Michael Vick’s dogs who passed their Canine Good Citizen test, a Pit Bull helping a pregnant mom back to consciousness with Pit Bull kisses, a dog helping a pet parent recover from heart surgery, and so much more!

Contact Your Local Government to Eliminate Breed Specific Legislation 

According to the ASPCA, Breed-specific Legislation can be defined as:

“Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is the blanket term for laws that either regulate or ban certain dog breeds in an effort to decrease dog attacks on humans and other animals.”

Breed-specific legislation affects more than just Pit Bulls. In some cities, the following breeds are also regulated:

  • American Bulldogs
  • Rottweilers
  • Mastiffs
  • Dalmatians
  • Chow Chows
  • German Shepherds
  • Doberman Pinschers

While some cities have taken a more pragmatic approach to dangerous dogs by individually tracking and regulating dogs who show active aggression, over 700 U.S. cities still have breed-specific laws in place.

The ASPCA elegantly outlines the problems associated with breed-specific legislation and the alternatives. If you live in an area where Breed-Specific Legislation is enforced, take action by calling your local representative. The ASPCA has outlined their complete positioning on Breed-specific legislation, providing facts for pet parents to use in their own communities.

It must also be considered that if limited animal control resources are used to regulate or ban a certain breed of dog, the focus is shifted away from routine, effective enforcement of laws that have the best chance of making communities safer: dog license laws, leash laws, animal fighting laws, anti-tethering laws, laws facilitating animal sterilization and laws that require guardians of all dog breeds to control their pets. – ASPCA

6 Ways You Can Help Pit Bulls - Because Breed Discrimination Isn't Okay

Support a Local Bully Breed Program

Search through your local rescues to see if there is a Bully Breed specific rescue you can support in some way. Suggestions for supporting a local rescue include:

  • Provide gently-used towels blankets, leashes, collars and other pet-related items from your home
  • Volunteer! Don’t forget that volunteering comes in many different shapes and sizes. You can volunteer to help out at the shelter, or even lend your professional services. For example, if you are a marketer, you could help design marketing materials and campaigns for your local shelter or rescue.
  • Donate! Of course, donations are always welcome and will go a long way to help the dogs in your community.

Become a Foster Pet Parent

Being a foster pet parent can help your community by providing more space in shelters and rescues by buying more time for Pit Bulls to find their forever home. I recently wrote a post about why people should adopt and foster here. Here are the top 3 reasons to Foster:

3 Reasons to Foster for Your Local Rescue or Shelter 

  1. You are helping a rescue help the community! Rescues and shelters need foster homes for pets so that they can take in more animals.
  2. Short-term commitment. Not all people have the lifestyle to be pet parents. However, you might have a few months to dedicate to a local shelter or rescue.
  3. Costs are covered. According to FosterFurKids.com, most rescues or shelters cover the costs and supplies associated with fostering a pet.

Any of the above ideas, even if you don’t have a Pit Bull, can help you fight Pit Bull stigma and legislation, as well as actively support the Pit Bull community around you! 

Why You Should Adopt & Foster – Petcurean

Opening your home to a dog, whether through adoption or foster, is an amazing and rewarding life experience. Not only are you rewarded with unconditional love, but you are also saving a life.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that my husband and I adopted Rooney back in 2012 from a local Corgi rescue, and Rooney has brought us so much joy since then! Today, Petcurean has asked me to discuss why pet adoption and fostering are so awesome!

3 Reasons to Adopt from Your Local Rescue or Shelter 

  • You will be saving a life. And providing a safe, secure loving environment to a dog or cat who really needs it.
    • I remember having an epiphany when my parents had adopted several dogs from the local no-kill shelter, that if they had been taken to a different shelter, there was a possibility they wouldn’t have made it. I remember looking into their faces and feeling overwhelming sadness at the thought that their lives were at risk at one point, but then also feeling relief that my parents had chosen to adopt them, and made room for other pets at the local no-kill shelter. Anyone who has adopted an animal has directly contributed to saving the life of not only that pet, but other pets as well.
  • Very often rescue or re-homed dogs are already house-trained and have some basic behavioral training as well. 
    • This was completely true for us! When we adopted Rooney he was already crate-trained and potty-trained. So his adjustment into our lives was quick and easy. Rooney also knew his basic manors, however, as a herding breed, he has thrived from further training.
  • Shelters and rescue groups often include vaccinations, microchipping, and spaying or neutering in the adoption fee.
    • Also true for us! When we adopted Rooney he was vaccinated, microchipped, and had recently been neutered.

Check out more reasons to adopt a pet on Petcurean’s website here.

Consider Adopting a Senior pet!

  • There are no surprises with a senior pet. Their personality traits are established already and they are normally very accepting of whatever life throws at them. The puppyhood or kittenhood headaches of housetraining are well behind them, and their more mellow demeanor is a comfort to live with.
    • Having a pet in their Golden Years is an amazing blessing. They ask very little of their people, yet give their people so much. I highly recommend senior pet adoption!
  • Senior pets are also usually less destructive. The urge to chew and scratch is much less likely to cause problems. Dogs are often content with a sedate walk in the neighborhood or a gentle game of fetch as a form of exercise, as opposed to the more energy draining needs of a younger dog who needs more activity. Many senior cats will also still enjoy chasing that little red dot of the laser pointer, but perhaps for not quite as long as their kitten counterparts.
    • While at working the veterinary hospital, my senior patients were some of my very favorites. They were so calm and loving, and their personalities and demeanor made it an easy choice to go the extra mile to make them happy. Two senior patients that I remember very fondly were Mabel the elderly Basset Hound who preferred her toenails trimmed outside on the grass in the sunshine, and Tank, the elderly cat who preferred to be held while in the hospital.

Why You Should Adopt & Foster - Petcurean

Check out the many benefits, as well as things to consider before adopting a senior pet here.

3 Reasons to Foster for Your Local Rescue or Shelter 

  1. You are helping a rescue help the community! Rescues and shelters need foster homes for pets so that they can take in more animals. Often, local rescues don’t have a formal facility and all of their pets are with local foster parents.
  2. Short-term commitment. Not all people have the lifestyle to be pet parents. However, you might have a few months to dedicate to a local shelter or rescue. In the past, I have recommended fostering to families who are thinking about getting a pet, but want to see if their kids will step up to the responsibility. Fostering is also a great option for people who love pets, but like to travel. If you know that you won’t travel for the next 4 months, that might be a great time to open your home to a needy pet in your local community.
  3. Costs are covered. According to FosterFurKids.com, most rescues or shelters cover the costs and supplies associated with fostering a pet.

Rescue groups supply pet food, bedding, leash & collar, bowls, litter, and cover veterinary care, so you don’t incur any financial expense. If you are interested in caring for a pet but are not in a financial place to be able to afford one, fostering is a great option.

Don’t feel like you can adopt or foster right now?

Check out a list of ways you can help local rescues and shelters that won’t break the bank here, many of which you can do as a family!

This post was inspired by Petcurean and Eastwood Ranch Foundation!

Eastwood Ranch Foundation, a non-profit animal rescue organization founded by actress/director Alison Eastwood, has launched FosterFurkids.com a website that connects rescue groups and animal shelters with a nationwide network of pet fosters and transporters. To support the launch of FosterFurkids.com, the first 100 people that sign up to be a foster pet parent will receive a Petcurean care package!

Tell us about your foster or rescue experience in the comments below!

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