Cathryn Rakich

Editor and Home Design and Pets Columnist

About This Author

Cathryn Rakich has been a writer and editor in the Sacramento area for 35 years, with articles in local, state and national publications. She is also active in the animal-welfare community, volunteering for local animal rescue groups. Her latest endeavor is as a ceramics artist.

Articles by this author

Bird Watching

Nestled 40 feet high in the branches of a willow tree, the great horned owl scrutinizes her surroundings. Two chicks are barely visible within the confines of their twisted twig nest.

Despite her skyward proximity and camouflage feathers, the bird of prey comes into touchable view through a spotting scope. Her home, along with 200 other bird species, is the state-owned Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area.
Stretching 16,000 acres across both sides of the Yolo Causeway along I-80 between Sacramento and Davis, the nature refuge is managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for flood control, animal and habitat protection, recreation and education.

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Too Much To Ask

Current law makes it a crime for people to deprive their companion animals of “necessary sustenance, drink or shelter.” But the statute falls short of what that means.

Necessary sustenance could be a loaf of bread or a candy bar—anything to keep the pet alive. Drink could be a can of Coke. A metal cage, just large enough for the animal to stand up and turn around, is considered shelter.

Last October, I wrote about a pit bull in the backyard of a Sacramento home. She lived 24/7 in a 4-foot by 6-foot chain-link kennel on hardpan dirt with a filthy water bowl and feces scattered about.

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Smart, Loyal, Energetic

Walk through the county’s animal shelter on Bradshaw Road. The high-ceiling entryway opens to a spacious roundabout surrounded with glass-walled condos, each holding one or two large dogs, many pit bulls and German shepherds, and their mixed counterparts.

Stroll through the back door to an open-air corridor. Large windows allow visitors to view groups of small dogs housed together. Chihuahua and chihuahua mixes run back and forth, yelping with excitement. Further down are hallways lined with kennels housing medium and large dogs. Again, pit bulls and German shepherds dominate.

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A New Direction

I’ve been in Sacramento long enough to remember the old county animal shelter—when “pounds” existed simply to impound strays. The dilapidated, dungeon-like building was cramped and dingy—where unwanted dogs and cats went to die.

When the public’s attitude toward companion animals began to change, shelters across the country broadened their scope to promote spaying and neutering, encourage adoptions, and recruit donors and volunteers.

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The Forgotten Ones

“We got her!” Penny Scott’s text came Dec. 7, just after 7 a.m.

A female German shepherd, thin and fearful, had been seen for at least six months along the American River Parkway near the Estates Drive access. By day, she roamed the neighborhood and adjacent river trails. At night, she slept in the backyard of a home that abuts the parkway, slipping through a gap in the fence and bedding down in overgrown brush.

Runners, walkers and cyclists left food, but no one could win her trust. Early last December, a neighbor put out a call on social media. I reached out to fellow rescuers in the area. The response was unanimous—call Penny Scott. In less than 24 hours, Scott trapped the wayward pooch.

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