Keeping Your Pets Cool in the Heat

Friday June 10th, 2022

Keeping Your Dogs and Cats Cool and Safe During Hot Weather

By Jeffrey Richard, Jameson Humane Volunteer

            The lazy, hazy days of summer – when we and our pets enjoy more time outdoors – will soon be arriving.  So now is the time to raise awareness of how we can protect our cats and dogs from harm that may result from exposure to heat and sunshine.

            Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke

            The condition known broadly as heat exhaustion (aka hyperthermia) occurs when your pet’s body temperature rises above a healthy range, accompanied by various harmful symptoms. The seriousness of heat exhaustion ranges from mild heat exhaustion (which can sometimes be treated adequately at home) to heatstroke, depending on the severity of the pet’s fever and the dehydration that may accompany it. Heatstroke poses a serious threat to your pet’s health, and may result in organ failure, brain damage and even death. Immediate treatment by a veterinarian is essential. Please seek advice and treatment from your veterinarian whenever you observe signs of heat exhaustion in your pet. Do not rely on this article (or any article) as a substitute for veterinary aid!

With dogs, any temperature above 103 degrees is abnormal and may indicate heat exhaustion. The more severe condition, heatstroke, occurs in dogs when body temperature exceeds 106 degrees. With cats, look out for a temperature above 102.5 degrees; anything above 104 degrees may mean heatstroke.

            Many people are unaware of the impacts of heat on pets. In particular, many pet owners are not aware of the real danger to their pets when left in unventilated cars or other confined spaces. Even on a comparatively cool day of, say, 70 degrees, the air temperature inside a car – if exposed to the sun without adequate ventilation – will rise to 115 degrees or more within an hour. Please never leave your pet unattended in a closed vehicle.

            Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke in Cats

Although heat exhaustion and heatstroke affect dogs more than cats because dogs are left in cars and other confined spaces more often, cats can and do suffer heat-induced trauma. Cats are not as physiologically well-equipped as people to regulate their body temperature. The human body produces perspiration that cools the body when the weather heats up.  Cats cannot sweat to cool down, and (unlike dogs, who use panting as a way to regulate body temperature to some extent) they don't normally pant until they are already heat-exhausted.  

Instead, cats instinctively move to cooler locations as soon as they feel too warm. They also engage in self-grooming (licking), which helps them stay cool to a limited extent.  Most of the time, they are able to cool themselves or escape the heat before they approach heat exhaustion. However, a cat may become trapped in a hot area (e.g., a garage or shed) and fall victim to heat exhaustion.

Kittens, senior cats and sick cats are more vulnerable because they are less able to take steps on their own to avoid the heat. In addition, short-nosed cats like Persians and Himalayans often have constricted airways and are more sensitive to heat. Cats who are overweight are also more prone to overheating. For all of these higher risk kitties, it is especially important to make sure they stay in places that won’t get too hot.

Here are some of the more common indications of heatstroke in cats:

  • Body temperature of 104 degrees or more (less severe heat exhaustion may be indicated by a temperature between 102.5 and 103.5 degrees)
  • Rapid breathing, panting, or respiratory distress
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Dizziness and/or disorientation
  • Dark red gums and tongue
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Drooling with thick saliva due to dehydration
  • Tremors or seizures

            Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke in Dogs

As with cat breeds, any canine breed with a short or flat nose is at an increased risk for heatstroke. The more constricted structure of the nasal passages limits their ability to breathe efficiently (and to pant as a way to cool off). Examples include English bulldogs, French bulldogs, pugs, and Shih Tzus.  Here are common symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke in dogs (which, as you’ll see are similar in a number of respects to feline symptoms):

  • Body temperature of 106 degrees or more (less severe heat exhaustion may be indicated by a temperature between 103 and 105.5 degrees)
  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathing. If your dog is panting constantly or faster than normal (hyperventilation), they could be overheated
  • Signs of dehydration, which may include bright red, gray, purple, or bluish gums, dry nose, visible tiredness, and sunken eyes
  • Excessive drooling. Keep an eye out for lots of drool, or drool that is thicker and stickier than usual
  • Lack of normal urine production
  • Rapid pulse. The easiest way to take your dog’s pulse is to place your hand on their chest near their front elbow joint. If their pulse seems elevated, they could be overheated. (Normal pulse rate depends on the size of your dog—bigger dogs tend to have slower pulses, while small dogs and puppies have very quick pulses)
  • Muscle tremors, shivering or shaking
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Abnormally soft stool, or stool with blood in it
  • If your dog seems to have trouble walking in a straight line or keeps bumping into furniture, they might be lightheaded from dehydration or heat exhaustion

Prevention and Treatment

To prevent heat exhaustion and to take steps to lessen the impacts of heat exhaustion if it occurs, there are a few things to keep in mind. Do not shave off your pet’s fur. Although reasonable and normal trimming of the coats of some dogs is fine, never shave the dog’s fur off entirely to keep it cool.  The coats of both cats and dogs shield them not only from cold weather but also from the heat of summer. For all pets, including those that spend some of their time outdoors, provide access to cool indoor areas and provide cool, fresh water at all times.  Make sure to leave the air conditioner or fan on when you are not home. Before running the clothes dryer, always check to make sure your cat has not snuck inside.

If you observe symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • Take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible if you have any doubt about whether the heat exhaustion is mild enough to be treated at home
  • If the pet is alert, offer cool water to drink but do not force it. Many animals resist drinking water when they are overheated. If your pet refuses to drink, use an eyedropper or syringe to drop a couple of beads of water in its mouth at a time
  • Use cool/tepid water to soak a towel and place your pet on it if possible. Do not wrap your pet in the towel as this may trap heat. Change the towel out when it becomes warm from your pet's body heat
  • Note: Use of ice or cold water may be counterproductive and harmful. Ice or very cold water may constrict the blood vessels and prevent cooling, or may even cause hypothermia
  • Turn on a fan or air conditioner if possible
  • Continue to check your pet’s temperature. Stop cooling methods once the body temperature falls below dangerous levels. Excessive cooling at this stage increases the risk of hypothermia


The ASPCA has published a good online article about the risk of sunburn to your pets.  See,  The following are some key excerpts: 

“Pets without hair, like the Sphynx cat or Mexican hairless dog, are certainly at risk for getting a sunburn. But any pet can get burned in areas that have no or minimal fur, including the tips of the ears, lips, and mid-section. For instance, pets who like to sunbathe on their backs can end up with a burned belly. Other pets who are more prone to sunburn include those who have thin or light-colored coats or suffer from health conditions that cause hair loss, such as allergies or Cushing’s disease. Additionally, if your pet has been shaved for surgery, you should be extra careful about their sun exposure. You may also be surprised to know that indoor cats are at risk for sunburn. Regular windows do not filter out harmful UV rays so cats who like to nap in windowsills or snooze in sunbeams can get sunburnt. Cats with white or beige coats tend to have lighter colored skin, which can burn more easily.”

“Treatment:  While a minor case of sunburn will generally heal on its own, you should bring your pet to the veterinarian if the burn is red and painful. They can assess the severity of the burn and recommend the appropriate treatment. This will usually involve shaving the affected area, carefully cleaning the burn, and applying a topical ointment. You may need to apply the ointment at home as well. . . ."

“Prevention: The best way to prevent sunburn is to keep your pet out of the sun as much as possible, especially when it is at its hottest. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go outside with your pet, but you can take steps to keep them safe from sunburn:

  • Use a pet-safe sunscreen on exposed areas of skin . . .
  • Have your pet wear clothing designed to provide sun protection
  • Take walks in the early mornings or late evenings when the sun isn’t as strong
  • Stick to shadier routes when you’re out with your pet

“If your pet is getting sunburned by basking near a window or sliding glass door, you can look into installing solar shades, which block harmful UV rays." 

“A veterinary-approved sunscreen is recommended to help protect areas prone to sunburns, such as your pet’s belly and the tips of the ears. Avoid using human sunscreen products, since they can contain harmful ingredients that may irritate your pet’s skin or make your pet sick if they lick it off. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a good choice for your pet and get suggestions on how best to apply it.”

Recognizing, Preventing, and Treating Pets’ Allergies and Toxic Encounters

Tuesday May 10th, 2022

Recognizing, Preventing, and Treating Pets’ Allergies and Toxic Encounters: Achoo! Allergies May be Afflicting Your Furry Friends

By Jeffrey Richard, Jameson Volunteer

Allergies are common among animals, and allergens are everywhere – especially now during the height of spring and agricultural activities. As with many people, pets may be sensitive or allergic to grasses, dust mites, mold, pollen and other allergens that float through the air. Reactions to environmental allergens can appear in a variety of ways such as sneezing, paw licking, scratching of the ears and skin, watery eyes, and runny nose.


Pets may also have food sensitivities that result in allergic symptoms. Some pets may be allergic to specific proteins found in beef, dairy, wheat or chicken. Allergic reactions to food may include skin irritation, digestive issues, and even respiratory problems in more severe cases.


Please be aware that pets may be allergic to things we bring into their homes, such as fragrances, cleaning products, candles, and laundry detergent, to name just a few. Cats and dogs are particularly sensitive to fragrance agents. By avoiding use of scented cat litter, scented cleaning liquids and sprays, perfumes, scented deodorizers (other than baking soda), and scented candles, we can largely eliminate fragrance-related allergic symptoms. And using fragrance-free detergent to wash your pets’ bedding (and your own bed linens if they sleep with you) will help minimize their exposure to aggravating fragrances.


Many cats and dogs are also extremely sensitive to flea saliva and even one bite can trigger severe itching. When they scratch their itch, they may break the skin and cause infection.  Accordingly, regular applications of a preventative flea treatment are essential to your cat or dog’s health. 


Other insect-caused allergic reactions can be even more serious. For example, animals who suffer from an allergy to bee stings may, if stung, exhibit redness, hives, or swelling at the sting area, sometimes accompanied by severe reactions such as vomiting, collapse, and difficulty breathing. Such symptoms may also occur as a result of bites or stings from ticks, spiders, deer flies, horseflies, blackflies, mosquitoes, ants, hornets, and wasps. Obviously, if your pet exhibits any of those severe symptoms, please seek veterinary assistance immediately. 


Even for less serious allergic reactions, however, it is best to have a veterinarian examine the animal to determine the source of the symptoms and to recommend a course of treatment. The veterinarian’s recommendations, depending on the allergen involved, may include use of special antibacterial or antifungal shampoo, ear flushes, antibiotics, steroid treatment, and itch relief medication, among other possible remedies. In some cases, the treatment may turn out to be simple and relatively inexpensive through use of over-the-counter antihistamines such as Benadryl or Claritin. On the other hand, if the pet suffers from severe or chronic allergies, allergy shots may be recommended.


If your pet’s symptoms are relatively mild and the cost of veterinary treatment is prohibitive (or to complement the treatments recommended by the vet), there are certain things that you can do in your home that may help. These steps may include using HEPA air filters in the home’s HVAC system, cleaning fabric surfaces regularly, using shampoos that contain oatmeal, adding probiotics to the pet’s diet, and having the pet wear a shirt or sweater to reduce the effect of scratching. Cats – and to a lesser extent, dogs – frequently clean themselves by licking and gnawing on their paws and other body parts. As a result, they can easily breathe in or ingest allergens that they may have picked up on their paws or coat. Consequently, you can help reduce allergic reactions through daily wiping of the pet’s paws and body with a clean wet cloth.


Protect Your Garfield and Odie From Toxic Plants

Do your dogs or cats worry you by nosing into (or chewing on) plants or grasses outside? Ultimately, there is no way to be completely worry-free.  But knowing what plants in your yard or neighborhood are toxic to cats and dogs should help you keep your pets safe. 


The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has created a list of plants that are toxic to dogs and cats (linked below) and describes the list as follows:


“This list contains plants that have been reported as having systemic effects on animals and/or intense effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Please note that the information contained in our plant lists is not meant to be all-inclusive, but rather a compilation of the most frequently encountered plants. Individual plants may differ in appearance from the photos used on our listings. Please be sure to check the name of the plant to determine its toxicity.


“Also, be advised that the consumption of any plant material may cause vomiting and gastrointestinal upset for dogs and cats. Plants listed as either non-toxic, or potentially toxic with mild GI upset as their symptoms are not expected to be life-threatening to your pets.


“If you believe that your animal is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, or if you have any further questions regarding the information contained in this database, contact either your local veterinarian or the APCC 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435.”


The ASPCA’s list of plants toxic to dogs (and its accompanying list of plants that are non-toxic)

The ASPCA’s lengthy list of plants toxic to cats (and accompanying list of plants that are non-toxic)  

You should first determine the names of plants that are in your pet’s environment by using one of the plant-identifier phone Apps such as “Picture This” or “iNaturalist.”  Then cross-check the plants against the ASPCA lists linked above.  It may surprise you to find just how many plants pose a risk of toxicity to your pets. Here are just two examples of commonly grown plants that your pets should avoid:


Lilies of the Field

Though beautiful this time of year, all lilies are very dangerous to cats, and at least one type is toxic to dogs. The common names for lilies toxic to cats include Easter Lilies, Stargazer Lilies, and Tiger Lilies. Calla Lilies are toxic to dogs and cats.


The entire lily plant is toxic: the stem, leaves, flowers, pollen, and even the water in a vase. Ingesting any part of the lily or the water in which it is kept can cause your cat to develop fatal kidney failure in fewer than three days. Dogs that eat lilies other than Calla Lilies may have minor stomach upset but they don’t develop kidney failure. If you suspect your pet has ingested any part of a lily plant, seek treatment immediately. Delaying treatment by even 18 hours can mean irreversible kidney failure or even death.


Mums for Mom?

According to SFGate, Chrysanthemums are another beautiful flower that are toxic to cats and dogs (and horses), but especially to cats. Typically located within the leaves and flower heads of these plants, sesquiterpene lactones (SQL) can irritate the eyes, nose and gastrointestinal tract. If cats ingest part of a chrysanthemum flower, they may experience vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling (also known as hypersalivation), loss of coordination, and lack of appetite. 


Don’t Diffuse the Issue – Many Essential Oils Are Toxic to Dogs and Cats*

Although some essential oils can be calming to humans and pets, before you expose your pet to the oil through use of a diffuser (or by some other method), please consult your veterinarian as to whether the oil may be harmful to your pet. A number of essential oils are extremely toxic when diffused or applied directly to a pet’s skin. A pet’s reaction to toxic essential oils can include difficulty breathing or walking, drooling, muscle tremors, pawing at the face or mouth, rash, vomiting, or collapse.


In its May 2020 blog, the Kennel to Couch website publicized the findings of research on the effect of essential oils on dogs:

“For years, certain essential oils were considered safe for dogs and were often recommended for use in treating everything from stress and ear mite infestations to upper respiratory problems. But recently, some studies have shown that essential oils can be toxic to dogs, whether taken internally, applied to their skin or simply inhaled. The liver is the organ most negatively affected, and unlike ours, dogs’ livers lack the ability to properly metabolize the various compounds found in essential oils.


“A partial list of the essential oils to be avoided includes oil of cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree (melaleuca), wintergreen and ylang ylang. If ingested or applied directly to the skin, these essential oils can damage your dog’s skin and even induce seizures.


“Dog toxicity can either occur very quickly, following a single internal or external application or over a longer period of time — through repeated or continuous inhalation of the essential oils. Either way, it can cause serious damage to the liver and, and in some instances, even lead to death. Should your dog accidentally ingest ANY oil, rush him to the vet immediately.”


Similarly, the Pet Poison Helpline website describes the toxicity risks of certain essential oils to cats:

“Essential oils can pose a toxic risk to household pets, especially to cats. They are rapidly absorbed both orally and across the skin, and are then metabolized in the liver. Cats lack an essential enzyme in their liver and as such have difficulty metabolizing and eliminating certain toxins like essential oils. Cats are also very sensitive to phenols and phenolic compounds, which can be found in some essential oils. The higher the concentration of the essential oil (i.e. 100%), the greater the risk to the cat.


“Essential oils that are known to cause poisoning in cats include oil of wintergreen, oil of sweet birch, citrus oil (d-limonene), pine oils, Ylang Ylang oil, peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, pennyroyal oil, clove oil, eucalyptus oil, and tea tree oil. Symptoms that develop depend on the type of oil involved in the exposure and can include drooling, vomiting, tremors, ataxia (wobbliness), respiratory distress, low heart rate, low body temperature, and liver failure.”


Another blog includes the following admonitions and lists of unsafe oils:

“Any essential oil has the potential to be harmful to pets, especially if not properly diluted or if used inappropriately. The lists below contain some of the most commonly misused essential oils causing issues for cats and dogs. (This is not a comprehensive list and you should ask your veterinarian about any essential oil prior to considering using it with your pet.)

“Essential oils that are unsafe for cats:

  • Basil
  • Citrus oils (bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, tangerine)
  • Birch
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Tea tree (Melaleuca)
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Spearmint
  • Wintergreen

“Essential oils that are unsafe for dogs:

  • Tea tree (Melaleuca)
  • Sweet birch
  • Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
  • Pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium)
  • Wintergreen (Gaultheria Procumbens)

* Jameson Humane has done no independent research regarding essential oils, and urges you to consult with your veterinarian before using any essential oils around your pets.

Make Your Own Seed Paper and Help the Pollinators...and our Planet!

Friday April 22nd, 2022

In honor of Earth Day, we want to share our special Wildflower Seed Paper "recipe" so you can make your own seed paper from recycled paper to share with friends and family.

Jameson Humane is seeking new ways to improve our relationship with the planet. We are making seed paper!

What is seed paper?

Seed paper is exactly what it sounds like; it is paper with seeds embedded inside of it. Wildflower seeds, vegetable seeds, you name it—just plant it in soil, and watch it grow!

Making seed paper is simple. Blend up some recycled paper with water, and don’t forget to stir in the seeds. If they are blended, you risk harming them. Next, spread the ‘pulp’ across a flat surface and let it dry! Voila, seed paper!

Making seed paper is yet another way Jameson Humane acts to foster harmony between humans, animals, and the planet. By planting seed paper, you encourage bee pollination, stimulate butterfly populations also known as a kaleidoscope, and of course, grow our relationship with the planet to live a kinder, more compassionate lifestyle.

What you will need:

  • Blender
  • Cookie Cutter (optional)
  • Flat Surface (like a cookie sheet or baking tray)
  • Recycled Paper
  • Seeds
  • Spatula (rubber is best)
  • Sponge (optional)
  • Strainer
  • Towel or Old Flanner (microfiber towel, or terry cloth)
  • Water

 Step 1: Gather Paper, Tear, Put into Blender

You will start with gathering the recycled paper that Jameson Humane has provided you. You can also use extra paper lying around the house such as newspapers, scraps of unprinted computer paper, tissue paper, or perhaps even junk mail (nothing with a glossy finish though). After you have gathered your paper, tear or shred it into very small pieces. Now, fill your blender half way with your torn pieces of paper.

Step 2: Pour in Warm Water, Blend into a Smooth Pulp

Next, pour warm water into the blender so the paper is fully covered and the blender is just about full. Now you will blend together the paper and the water for about ten seconds to create a mushy mess or until the mixture looks like a fine pulp. After ten seconds on a low setting, increase the speed for about thirty seconds more. After this there should be no visible paper flakes remaining (increase blend time if you still see paper flakes).

Step 3: Stir in Seed, Strain                                                                                    

Now it’s time to add the seeds! Sprinkle about a teaspoon of your seed of choice into the mixture and fold them in. DO NOT BLEND! Stir them only. After you have added the seeds, pour the mixture into a strainer to drain off as much water as possible. Use a spoon or spatula to press the mixture against the strainer to squeeze as much water as you can from the pulp. 

Step 4: Spread Pulp, Flatten, Dry

Place a piece of terry cloth, microfiber towel, or flannel on a flat surface, this is where you will form your paper. Dump the pulp onto the fabric and use a spoon or spatula to spread the pulp over the fabric. Be sure to spread it as thin as possible to ensure it dries quicker. You can spread it into any shape you want—we recommend using a cookie cutter to make fun shapes! After you have spread the pulp, use a sponge to flatten the mixture and soak up more water. After the pulp has dried on one side, turn it over and allow the other side to dry completely. Once both sides are dry, your seed paper is ready for use. 

Step 5: Cut and Decorate

Cut the seed paper into post-card sized pieces

Seed Paper Makes Great Note Paper, Invitations, Post Cards

Seed paper can be used for many things such as note cards, invitations, or postcards. They make great stationery that can sent to friends and family, and will bring joy for years to come. Be sure to include that the homemade seed paper can be planted in soil and once watered, it will begin to grow. Seed paper makes a useful paper product that would otherwise end up in a landfill. A seed paper invitation or card is truly the one thing that is okay to litter!

Ridiculous Love: One Couple’s Harrowing Journey to Save the Life of their Friend (Who Just Happened to Be a 700lb Pig)

Tuesday March 1st, 2022

We have a surging crisis in the sanctuary world as it relates to veterinary care due in large part to the perception of the ‘purpose’ and value of a farmed animal’s life. Every state now has an animal sanctuary – safe havens for animals rescued from neglect, abuse, or torture – most often from the cow, chicken, pig, and dairy industries. What happens to these animals bred for food as they age while living in sanctuary? Most animals raised for meat or dairy are bred to grow incredibly quickly, to produce more “meat” and are heavier than their bones can bear over time, or produce more milk or more eggs, more quickly; their health and wellbeing are oftentimes the last consideration.

Sanctuaries and rescues like Jameson pledge to care for their residents for their lifetimes. But what happens when these animals are suffering from the way they were bred or from disease or disorders from the places they came from, which increasingly, they are?

As a sanctuary that provides home, love, and care to domestic animals, similarly to those across the globe, we are facing a problematic situation related to veterinary care that needs to be addressed.

Today, I want to share with you a very touching story of courage, awareness, and change for a pig named Cromwell who lives at friend sanctuary, Blackberry Creek Farm. Thank you for reading and if you are able, donating


Ridiculous Love: One Couple’s Harrowing Journey to Save the Life of their Friend  (Who Just Happened to Be a 700lb Pig)

Guest blog from Blackberry Creek Farm Animal Sanctuary, Danielle & Josh Hanosh

When Cromwell didn’t come to breakfast one chilly January morning at Blackberry Creek Farm Animal Sanctuary, Executive Director, Danielle, knew something was wrong. Each morning for over six years, Cromwell would meet one of his human parents at the upper gate of the pig pasture with a big smile. As soon as the brightly colored bucket appeared, he’d open wide, head tilted back, asking for breakfast to be poured directly into his mouth. It was a joyful morning ritual for all, but on this particular day Crommy was nowhere to be found.


Upon closer inspection he was located sitting in his barn, waiting with his mouth open for breakfast, but clearly hesitant to walk. Pigs bred for food production commonly have hoof issues as a result of the selective breeding that makes them unnaturally heavy, and indeed, there was a large horizontal crack all the way across his right lateral toe near the coronary band.


His regular veterinarian, Dr. Jess, came for a visit and alarmed at the size and location of the crack, referred Cromwell to the local university veterinary hospital, rated one of the best in the country, where they could take x-rays and culture the bacteria to determine a proper course of antibiotics.


After 24 hours at the university hospital, the news wasn’t looking good. The infection in the toe had spread to the bone and there was swelling and gas buildup inside the hoof wall. Blackberry Creek discussed options with several vets including Esther the Wonder Pig’s foot surgeon in Canada. An arthrodesis surgery was scheduled to debride the infection in the bone, clean it out, and cause the joint to fuse.


Cromwell came through the surgery with flying colors, and he spent the next several weeks receiving antibiotic shots, bandage changes, and pain medication. The updates from the university hospital continued to be good, and the doctor was  prepared to discharge him after just one more bandage change.


The following day, Cromwell’s sanctuary family got a phone call they were not expecting in the least… “Unfortunately, I have some very bad news for you,” the doctor’s voice on the other end of the line said sympathetically. Upon taking the bandage off, they had found the hoof on the other toe had cracked as well, likely from supporting all of his weight while up on the block, and a second x-ray showed the infection had spread to the second bone in his toe. With infection, his size, and his pre-existing arthritis, euthenasia was the hospital’s only recommendation. There was no other option, they said.

Danielle asked about another surgery, about different antibiotics in an IV catheter, about toe amputation, about a prosthetic, and was told no one would try any such thing on a pig of his size. Too big. Too hard. Too many complications. Ridiculous to attempt.


Still refusing euthanasia for the pig who was very much still healthy and full of life, she insisted on finding a second opinion. The doctor agreed to continue pain meds and palliative care but wanted to know within less than 24-hours what the plan was. It was Thursday afternoon.


By Friday morning Danielle had reached out to over 45 veterinarians at 21 different universities and private practices along with two prosthetic companies and six other sanctuaries who had experienced large farm pigs with toe amputations. Many responded, some did not, but one stood out… a large animal surgeon from Purdue University named Jan Hawkins. He took time out of his busy schedule to have a long conversation with Danielle about options for Cromwell, his previous experience performing hoof surgeries on large farm animals and suggestions that the local hospital where Cromwell was staying could try. He even offered to fly to California to perform the surgery as a guest surgeon as long as the local university hospital would provide the intensive after-care of sedated bandage changes, IV antibiotics, etc.


Bionic Pets, an innovative animal prosthetics company, also graciously agreed to help with Cromwell’s case and planned to design either an appropriate brace or a special prosthetic with an artificial toe to distribute his weight evenly should he lose his own toe during amputation.


Danielle called the local university hospital back and relayed the conversation with Dr. Hawkins. Surely as a teaching hospital they would be thrilled to have him as a guest surgeon and learn from his expertise!


The message back from the faculty doctors was inconceivable. They might consider allowing him to fly out to do the surgery, but would not consent to being a part of the after care. Without regular sedated bandage changes and flushing of the wound to keep it clean, it would never heal properly and infection would spread. They believed keeping Cromwell alive at this point was ridiculous, but denying him medical care from an experienced, Purdue University Veterinary Hospital surgeon was, apparently, perfectly reasonable.


The next week Josh and Danielle made the difficult decision to take their beloved pig on a 30 hour road trip to Purdue where he could have a fighting chance with the only veterinarian willing to give it to him.

The faculty doctor at the local university tried very hard to insist that this plan was not consistent with high standards of animal welfare. After all, as doctors, they had taken an oath to “do no harm.” This was an ironic argument since they wanted to euthanize Cromwell when there were still other viable options, not to mention this particular institution has a well-funded primate research lab, regularly experiments on dogs, has a slaughterhouse on campus a few blocks away, and had a staff refrigerator being cleaned outside the large animal hospital with a “Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner” sticker plastered to the front. A reassuring message when someone is bringing their beloved companion farm animal to seek care…


In the end, the university hospital insisted that driving Cromwell across the country was absolutely ridiculous and not in his best interest as traveling is stressful for pigs. Josh and Danielle agreed wholeheartedly and asked again if the staff would be willing to do the surgery themselves to avoid the road trip. It was a hard no. Ridiculousness seemed to be relative.


The university hospital resident on Cromwell’s case was luckily very kind and helpful and took the lead on getting paperwork done and a microchip implanted for him to travel over state lines.


The next few days were full of careful planning in order to arrange a team of volunteers to hold down the fort at Blackberry Creek for the other 86 animals residing there. When departure day finally arrived, Dr. Hawkins called with terrible news. The large animal hospital at Purdue was closed due to a salmonella outbreak, and Cromwell would have nowhere to go once he reached Indiana. Wanting to start him on new antibiotics immediately, Dr. Hawkins sprang into action, quickly contacting a sanctuary an hour from Purdue that specialized in pigs called Oinking Acres. Started by a young woman named Olivia and supported by her mom and family, Oinking Acres primarily cared for potbelly pigs, but readily agreed to be a soft landing spot for Cromwell and care for him until he could be transported to the hospital.


When Danielle arrived at the local university vet hospital to pick up Cromwell, she expected to see the staff have to use a skid or some of their heavy machinery to carefully lift him into the trailer as the hospital continued to insist that his injuries were painful and debilitating and that he was barely walking. What she did not expect was a pig who perked right up when he saw her, walked steadily without even a limp to the trailer, and loaded right up the ramp for a donut.


Danielle and Cromwell left the hospital at approximately 7 PM on Wednesday evening and drove an hour East stopping at home to pick up Josh and put all of the other sanctuary animals to bed for the night. With a truck full of vegan snacks, caffeine, adrenaline, and hope, they started out on what the map said was a 30+ hour journey to Indiana.


With temperatures dropping below what was predicted and 65 mph winds through Wyoming, Cromwell’s parents struggled to keep him warm, stopping many times to warm him up and try to insulate the open-windowed horse trailer with bales of straw and blankets. Several times they thought they might lose him and even laid with him in the trailer with electric blankets in the parking lot of a Nebraska Walmart, warming him externally and shifting to a more southern route to avoid a snowstorm in Iowa. On Friday evening, after 46 hours straight on the road with only a few hours of sleep each, they made it. Cromwell was safe and sound, loved and cared for, and he seemed to know it.


The next morning they met Dr. Hawkins for breakfast and got to know the man who had selflessly offered to help strangers from across the country to save a pig who was family to them when no one else would help. His perspective and insights were eye-opening and he shared his wisdom on many similar cases. He drove an hour to see Cromwell that day and immediately started him on new antibiotics to get the infection under control and put a hard cast on his foot for support.

When the Purdue hospital reopened a week later Cromwell was sedated, and Dr. Hawkins cut into his neck and placed an IV in his jugular vein. With a catheter safely surgically inserted into his neck, the doctors could now give him intravenous antibiotics and pain medication whenever needed without any kind of stress or pain. Radiographs showed the new antibiotics were tackling the infection and a new cast was put on to immobilize the toe and help the damaged bone to regrow.

Two weeks later, his prognosis is looking wonderful. He is happy, pain-free, and the latest x-rays showed promising bone growth which means a bone graft surgery may not even be necessary let alone an amputation! Though everyone at Blackberry Creek is exceedingly grateful they were able to find a doctor with such knowledge, skills, compassion, and ingenuity as Dr. Hawkins, the reality is that it should not be this difficult in this day and age to get farmed animals the care that they need and deserve.


It is ridiculous that humans have bred large farm pigs to grow to unnatural sizes for food production, causing them significant medical issues, and then refuse to figure out how to solve said problems when things go badly for the animal.


It is ridiculous that some antibiotics, cancer treatments, and other medications, cannot legally be used on farm animals even in a sanctuary setting because the USDA and state laws consider certain species “food animals.”


It is ridiculous that a pig suffering from a toe infection and arthritis would be refused treatment and simply euthanized at one of the leading veterinary teaching hospitals in the country.


What would motivate two people to drive across the country and spend tens of thousands of dollars to save the life of their pig friend? A desire to educate about speciesism, a passion to advocate on behalf of farmed animals, and a fiercely ridiculous love.



If you'd like to contribute to Cromwell's care, click here.
Please note "For Cromwell" in the Notes and Gift Details section.

Trap, Neuter, Return: A Sensible, Humane Solution to the Over-Population of Community Cats

Thursday February 3rd, 2022

Trap, Neuter, Return: A Sensible, Humane Solution to the Over-Population of Community Cats

By Jeffrey Richard, Jameson Humane Volunteer

What are Community Cats?
The term “community cats” is used in the animal care field to encompass two broad categories of unowned cats whose welfare is the responsibility of society as a whole: (1) feral cats who were born in the wild or who have lived apart from human society too long to have any realistic chance of again being socialized and living with humans, and (2) stray, lost or abandoned cats with a history of socialization. Depending on the gap in time since they were last socialized, some members of the latter group may be candidates for adoption if placed in the right hands.  Young kittens of both groups stand the best chance of becoming socialized and suitable for adoption, but only up to about four months of age. Still, the vast majority of community cats would not be able to adjust to life in the homes of humans. 

The fact is that the population of community cats is growing exponentially. In turn, such rampant growth exacerbates the negative impacts on local residents and their pets and on the ecological balance of the territories the cats inhabit. But the most heart-rending reality of over-population is that too many community kittens are suffering from being born into unlivable conditions.


The Role of Jameson Humane
Jameson Humane is helping to carry out the community’s responsibility to care for community cats. In early 2021, Jameson set up a Community Cat Care program in collaboration with its staff and volunteers to care for and oversee two feral communities on the property of a popular resort in Napa Valley.


In addition to providing daily fresh food, water and shelter, the trained and observant Jameson Humane team members assess the cat communities every day – looking for any nuances such as potential medical needs, new members to the group, whether the new cats have a tipped ear which indicates the cat has been altered, and so on. The team members would then trap the new cat to assess any medical needs including whether it has been spayed or neutered, they would scan for a microchip to determine if it has gone missing from its home, and finally, if it should remain in the wild or whether it is a candidate for potential socialization and adoption.



Trap-Neuter-Return Is the Best Way to Control Community Cat Populations Humanely.
In the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) process, community cats are humanely trapped (with box traps), brought to a qualified professional (e.g., a private veterinary clinic or a non-profit spay/neuter service provider) to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped and then returned to their territories. As stated on the website of Napa Humane, “Trap-Neuter-Return … is the single most important thing to do” to care for community cats. Napa Humane urges those who care about cats to initiate the TNR process to “prevent future generations of cats by ensuring that kittens are not born into an uncertain future.” 

Community cats, like all cats, are hunters by nature and their colonies establish territories just as big cats do in the wild. Accordingly, after trapping and neutering a community cat, it is critical to their survival to release them within a short distance (preferably within one block or so) from where they were trapped so that they may rejoin their colony and its support system.  


It should be noted that the act of willfully abandoning an animal is a misdemeanor under California Penal Code section 597s. But in general, the act of trapping, neutering and releasing a community cat in an area likely to allow it to rejoin its “family” colony has been recognized as an acceptable and legal practice. Perhaps the most sweeping example of this recognition is the City of Los Angeles’s comprehensive TNR program that survived years of legal challenges, related refinements, and environmental impact analyses.


Locally, the County of Napa through its Animal Shelter offers rental of traps to members of the public for TNR purposes and provides vouchers for presentation to the clinic to defray the cost of spaying and neutering. Information about the County voucher program can be found here. The Animal Shelter’s rental of traps is free of charge except for a $50 deposit that is refunded if the traps are brought back in good condition and in a timely manner. The rental program is described on the Animal Shelter website as follows:


“The Napa County Animal Shelter will rent traps to feral cat advocates and members of the community within Napa County that want to control the free-roaming cat population in their neighborhoods. With minimal human intervention, our humane traps are used for trapping cats in order to be spayed/neutered and then re-released back to where they were found. The Community Cat Program (formerly Trap-Neuter-Release) is really the way to go to prevent unwanted kitten litters and keep healthy cats from unnecessarily entering the shelter system.”


In addition to low cost spay/neuter clinics such as Napa Humane, Jameson Humane allocates a spay/neuter budget for feral cats as part of its annual budget. Regionally, we work with rescues, shelters, and independent community cat caregivers in a six-county radius to assist with spay/neuter services and other medical resources for community cats.

With the advent of the Jameson Humane Vet Mobile in late 2021, our goal is to respond to the need of spay/neuters in large populations of feral communities to stem the tide of what can easily become an overpopulation crisis. To contribute to the success of our Mobile Vet and help animals in need, you can donate here.


Additional Resources:
Jameson Humane Community Animal Assistance Program (CAAP)

Napa Humane TNR Program

Napa Humane Feral Cat FAQ

Alley Cat Allies

Calistoga Cat Action Team (CCAT)


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