Crate Training a Beneficial Tool

Animal Connections
Published by the Virginian Pilot on 01-06-2021
Written by Lacy Shirey, Chesapeake Humane Society Executive Director

All three of my dogs were adults when I adopted them, and they all lived their lives outside before being welcomed into my home. One of them was pretty scared of everything in life when I first took her in, and the other two were not housebroken at all. I mention that only to prove that crate training can be used with dogs of any age and with a wide range of backgrounds.

In their first six months or so with me, I implement crate training methods consistently. Usually, it’s harder on me than it is on them.

Having a routine and remaining consistent with any training is often the most important factor. It’s also hard for me because when I say good night to them and tuck them into their crate, I secretly wish they were snuggled up with me in my bed. But it’s worth it. The result is that they see their crates, or their dens, as a safe place.

And don’t be fooled because I work with animals — my dogs are not the most trained or well-behaved dogs. Thankfully, they were housebroken pretty quickly, but they bark more than I’d like (they are hound dogs), they jump up on people when they are excited to see them, and my bloodhound will dig a giant hole in my backyard if I turn my back for too long while he’s outside. I’m not perfect, and neither are they.

After the initial training is over, I leave their crate doors open for them to come and go as they please. To this day, some nights they snuggle up with me in bed and some nights they curl up in their crates — both of those scenarios make me happy.

They rarely get closed in the crate, but if I do close them in, they are comfortable, not anxious, and I know they are safe. If a thunderstorm rolls in or if fireworks can be heard, I often find my dogs in their crates because that’s where they feel protected. If I have a contractor in the house who isn’t fond of dogs, I know I can put my dogs in their crates without causing them stress.

I never use a crate as punishment. Their association with the crate should always be positive. I feed my dogs in their crate, which helps with creating a rewarding experience, especially if you have a food-motivated dog.

I have certain toys that only come out when they are in the crate, making it exciting for them. The toys I use for crate training are very durable, like a large Kong or a Nylabone, so I know they won’t destroy and swallow parts of a toy while unattended. I never use plush toys or rope bones unattended as those could easily be ingested and lead to a harmful blockage.

I’m careful to close my dogs in their crates for different scenarios so they don’t associate going into the crate with me leaving the house. So when they are being trained, they’ll periodically have crate time for 20-30 minutes at a time while I’m still home. This helps to build their independence and can help with or prevent separation anxiety — especially since many of us are home more due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I will mention, I have worked with dogs that just don’t do well in a crate. Despite working with them in a positive way, the crate causes them so much anxiety that they are physically harming themselves in an attempt to escape. In my experience, this has been with dogs that have extreme separation anxiety or have a negative association with a crate from previous experiences.

Thankfully, this is not the case with most dogs, but it is something to keep in mind. If you are having issues to that extent with your dog, hopefully you are working with a behaviorist and your veterinarian on that behavior.

If your dog continues to be anxious in a wire crate, try covering half of the crate with a blanket or try using a more enclosed airline crate. For some dogs, this simple trick makes a world of difference in making them feel comfortable, so it’s worth trying if you are struggling with crate training.

Lacy Shirey is executive director of the Chesapeake Humane Society. She can be reached at director@chesapeakehumane.org.

Chesapeake Humane Society on WCTV

Chesapeake Humane Society’s Executive Director, Lacy Shirey, joins WCTV to talk about two dangerous diseases pet owners need to be aware of: heartworm disease and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Plus, she shares information about a fun new cat cafe in town! Special guests George and Carob also make an appearance.

Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast

Community Service Spotlight: Chesapeake Humane Society Giving Tree
Posted: 12-08-2020 

Girl Scouts love helping others and the holiday season is an especially busy time of year for Girl Scouts doing community service to help their community friends, including the four paw friends!

Girl Scout Brownie Troop 382 in Chesapeake, led by Carolyn Engler, decided to create a Giving Tree to support animals cared for by the Chesapeake Humane Society. The Brownies identified the need in the community to help animals. They took action to research what the animals most needed and then set about developing a plan. They contacted a nearby animal feed store in Chesapeake, Tractor Supply Co. located on Centerville Turnpike, and asked if they could place a holiday tree in the store with wish list ornaments. The answer, yes!

The girls then set about making ornaments. Each ornament is made of paper but unique in design, and each has a written item from the Chesapeake Humane Society’s wish list. The girls’ goal was to have customers and community friends pick up an ornament and then place the gifts they purchased or made under the tree.

Each week, the troop checks on the gifts and arranges a pick-up. To date, they have collected more than 100 pounds of food and items to donate!

Whether you’re out shopping or celebrating with friends and family, don’t forget your furry friends this holiday season! Check with your area animal shelters or animal services to see what they might be in need of and then take action!

Each ornament has a wish list item

Picking up donations from the tree

Loose Balloons Wreak Havoc on Environment

 

 

Animal Connections
Published by the Virginian Pilot on 12-07-2020
Written by Lacy Shirey, Chesapeake Humane Society Executive Director

The practice of releasing balloons is still considered an acceptable practice by many, but, as Sir Isaac Newton said, what goes up must come down, and the impact on the environment and wildlife can be detrimental.

Balloon releases are often done as a tribute to a loved one who has died or sometimes they’re part of a festive event or celebration, but no matter the reason, they all result in litter. This litter often ends up in our coastal areas and accumulates on shorelines. Even litter that originates far inland can make its way to the coastal region since stormwater lines and all waterways eventually lead to the coast.

A study conducted by Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University collected litter data from five remote beaches in Virginia from 2013 to 2017. The researchers found a total of 11,441 balloons or balloon fragments or pieces, including ribbons. Since the research areas were uninhabited and not open to the public, these findings illuminate how far litter can travel and the significant impact it has on our environment if left unchecked.

Any litter in our waterways and on our land has the potential to cause harm to wildlife; however, balloons are particularly dangerous because, in the water, they can resemble jellyfish or squid, which are food sources for marine wildlife such as sea turtles. Once ingested, balloons can cause fatal blockages, and the balloon ribbon can cause entanglement.

On land, balloons are a known problem for birds, wild horses, livestock and other species of terrestrial wildlife. In addition to ingesting balloons or balloon pieces and getting entangled in the ribbon, birds have been observed building their nests with balloon strings and balloon debris and other pieces of trash.

Virginia’s current law allows up to 49 balloons per hour to be intentionally released. But even one balloon released has the potential to harm wildlife. Strong efforts were made to change the law but ultimately were not successful in this year’s legislative session.

A bill introduced by Del. Nancy Guy (D-Virginia Beach) to ban all intentional balloon releases died in committee. Another bill by Sen. Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach), which would have reduced the number of balloons that could be intentionally released from 49 to one per hour, was continued to 2021.

We expect a strong push again in next year’s legislative session to change the law, with many organizations right here in Hampton Roads providing support. You can provide your support by contacting your local and state legislators and encouraging them to support a balloon ban.

In the meantime, choose responsible alternatives to honor a loved one or celebrate an event without doing a balloon release. Some ideas include blowing bubbles, planting a native tree or making a charitable gift in honor of your loved one.

Alternative resources and ideas can be found at joyfulsendoff.org, a campaign created by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program and Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University to reduce helium balloon releases and balloon litter.

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Lacy Shirey is executive director of the Chesapeake Humane Society. She can be reached at director@chesapeakehumane.org.

Helping Animals and the People Who Love Them

Animal Connections
Published by the Virginian Pilot on 11-11-2018
Written by Lacy Kuller, Chesapeake Humane Society Executive Director

What an honor it is to fill in as a contributing columnist while Phyllis Stein is on hiatus to handle important family matters. I certainly have big shoes to fill!

I met Phyllis and Tony Stein in 2008. Since the 1970s, they had worked diligently to shape how our community treats and respects animals. They filled me in on the conditions of Hampton Roads animal shelters and how far we’ve come since that time. Phyllis, a wonderful storyteller, described what measures she and Tony took to make a difference, be it helping a kitten or changing legislation.

In honor of Phyllis and in memory of Tony, this column is dedicated to the area’s compassionate animal welfare providers – and to the hard work still to be done.

I have volunteered and worked in animal welfare for over 10 years now. There is still a lot to learn. It’s not just about basic animal care, although that is certainly an important component. To be successful in this field means building a team of staff and volunteers who have excellent customer-service skills and are knowledgeable in animal behavior and training, shelter medicine, fund development and marketing strategies just to name a few elements.

I’ve found that those in this field don’t just work with animals, they dedicate their lives to improving the lives of animals. When it’s time to clock out for the day, more often than not, they head home to provide around-the-clock care for a foster animal or two … or more.
Animal welfare professionals also serve the people who help animals.

Chelsea Tracy Photography

That’s done through programs that provide low-cost veterinary care and pet food pantries; match appropriate animal companions to families; instill compassion for all living things in our younger generations; and serve as an important resource when people can no longer care for their animals.

If you look at the websites for our local animal shelters, they mention people, humans and community: “…help pets and the people who love them find each other and stay together”, “…eliminating animal suffering while increasing human compassion”, “…promote the human-animal bond.”

The message, in short: In order to create a community that embraces our companion animal residents, we must work together. Shelters are dependent on support from the community, and in many ways our community is dependent on the vital, life-saving programs and services that animal welfare organizations provide.

So the next time you visit a shelter or meet someone who volunteers or works with animals, thank them for their dedication. And I thank all of you who support the good work we do and/or provide a loving home to a companion animal.

I’d love to hear what animal-related topics you would like to learn more about. Please don’t hesitate to share feedback and suggestions with me.
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Lacy Kuller is executive director of the Chesapeake Humane Society. She can be reached at director@chesapeakehumane.org.

Russell’s Heating and Cooling Helps CHS Prep for Storm

September 18, 2018

Chesapeake Humane Society is tremendously grateful to Russell’s Heating and cooling for helping us prepare our building for Hurricane Florence. The Russell’s crew stopped by to work on our HVAC system but was unable to complete their work due to the impending storm. Instead of getting back to business, they offered to assist with securing our building! Hurricane preparations that would have taken our staff the entire day were completed in just hours.

Thank you, Russell’s, for this kind and unexpected gesture!

While we were lucky to miss the storm, Hurricane Florence has devastated our neighbors to the south. Please join us in keeping our sister shelters and the communities they serve in your thoughts.

Foster Families Help Basset Pups Find Homes

August 27, 2018

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but we know that rings true for puppies and kittens too! Recently, Chesapeake Animal Services accepted a large number of Basset Hounds including a mom with nine puppies.  Because the shelter is too stressful for a mom with young babies, they reached out to us for help. One of our dedicated foster homes kept the mom and her puppies together until they were old enough to be weaned.

Then, four foster homes took on the exciting but challenging task of preparing the litter for adoption! Thanks to the dedication of our foster volunteers, the hard-working team at Chesapeake Animal Services, and our caring medical staff, all nine puppies and their mom founds new forever homes during WAVY 10’s Clear the Shelters promotion. It is truly an inspiring thing to see so many forces unite to help homeless animals! 

We rely on our foster homes to help as many pets as possible. For more information on becoming a foster volunteer, click here.

Helping Homeless Animals: Tree for the Animals

Help the Chesapeake Humane Society light the 11th annual Tree for the Animals on December 18th from 3 to 4:30 p.m.  You can purchase a light in honor of a pet or loved one and all proceeds benefit homeless animals in Hampton Roads.  Click here to purchase a light online or visit White’s Nursery.

treeforthenaimals

Happy Paws Introduces K9 Nose Work Class

November 3rd, 2016 

If you’re looking for a new way to exercise and engage your dog, the answer is right under his (or her) nose! Happy Paws, a humane pet training center endorsed by Chesapeake Humane Society, Norfolk SPCnose-workA, and the Virginia Beach SPCA, now offers K9 Nose Work Classes. These exciting classes use detection dog training methods to develop your pup’s searching skills! Nose work burns off mental and physical energy, improves your pet’s problem-solving abilities, and strengthens the bond you share. Because all dogs conduct their searches individually, this is a great class for reactive or shy dogs! Visit the Happy Paws website for more information or to sign up.

CHS Partners with Pets For Patriots

October 11, 2016

Chesapeake Humane Society is proud to announce its newest adoption partnership with Pets for Patriots. The Pets for Patriots program serves individuals from all branches of the armed services at any stage of their careers, including retirement, by helping them overcome financial barriers to pet adoption. This program also helps save the lives of dogs and cats over three years of age, special needs pets of any age, and dogs weighing 40+lbs of any age.

Individualspets-for-patriots-logo who rescue a qualifying pet from an adoption partner like Chesapeake Humane Society receive access to a virtual pet food bank, ongoing discounted veterinary care from veterinary partners, and sponsor-provided discounts on pet products. At Chesapeake Humane Society, qualifying adopters receive a $25 discount on their adoption fees. To receive benefits from Pets for Patriots, adopters must apply through the program directly. We are excited for a new way to say “thank you” to our service members and veterans!