Pets and Their People

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.

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.

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.

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.

To The Rescue

A post on Nextdoor caught my eye. A senior gentleman looking for canine companionship asked for suggestions on where to adopt an adult dog. Dozens of people responded, citing Sacramento’s two municipal animal shelters and no fewer than 12 nonprofit rescue groups from Auburn to the Bay Area.

There are as many as 50 dog, cat and breed-specific rescue organizations throughout Northern California, reports the Sacramento Area Animal Coalition

Rambunctious Rascals

Highly adaptable and irresistibly adorable, raccoons abound in Sacramento. Mischievous, clever and cute, yes. But raccoons can quickly become nuisances when they take up room and board in your neighborhood.

Ask neighbors about raccoons and stories come tumbling out. Mike and Gail Johnson on 38th Street tell of raccoons using the cat door to access their home and finding their way to a jar of kibble in the kitchen. One unforgettable day, a raccoon followed by two kits charged Gail when she found herself between their exit and the food source. No more cat door.

Here And Gone

Their weapon is a crossbow—gunshots draw attention. They skulk under cover of darkness, late at night and early in the morning. Night-vision optics help locate their targets—big bucks with large antlers. The bigger, the better.

“They call the arrow a bolt,” says Tim McGinn, wildlife advocate, nature photographer and longtime member of the American River Natural History Association. “The tips are like five little razor blades. If they hit them in the lungs or chest area, the deer will last maybe two or three minutes. It’s lethal.”

Leave No Trace

She always wanted to be a “nature person.” But owning her own business and playing and singing in bands around town kept Allyson Seconds too busy for life in the great outdoors.

Until she adopted her first dog, Lulu—and everything changed. “I go to the river easily 300 out of 365 days a year,” says the fitness trainer, singer, musician, photographer, avid hiker and certified naturalist.

Between 2006 and 2010, Seconds and her border collie/lab mix made daily treks to Sutter’s Landing Park, a 167-acre recreation area along the American River Parkway. “Those were the pristine days at Sutter’s Landing,” says Seconds, who discovered the area years before it was home to a dog park, skate park and basketball courts. “That was before a lot of people started going there. It wasn’t trashy. It was just beautiful.”

Who is Zoe McCrea?

If you’ve driven down Folsom Boulevard—right at 60th Street—you’ve past the Zoe McCrea Feline Sanctuary, a two-story cat habitat at Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary.

If you’re a Sacramento SPCA supporter or have recently taken your pet to the SSPCA spay/neuter clinic, you’re familiar with the new Zoe K. McCrea Animal Health Center.

Unlike other big benefactors in Sacramento, McCrea might not be a name you recognize. But it’s time you did.

Yes. This Is Legal

Take a close look at the photo. Chain-link kennel, maybe 4 feet by 6 feet. Hardpan dirt. Feces underfoot. Empty food bowl. Filthy water dish. Solitary confinement. Here in Sacramento. And it’s legal.

My husband and I foster dogs for a local rescue group. In August on a 100-plus-degree day, I stood in the backyard of Becky Browning’s South Sacramento home. She had applied to adopt one of our foster mutts and I was performing a home visit.

Face To Face

Face to Face Facial recognition technology is the next ‘big thing’ By Cathryn Rakich September 2021 Out of curiosity, I tried it. I went to the Petco Love website and clicked on “Lost.” Under “I Lost a Pet,” I entered Sacramento as a search location. A...

Saving Bushy Lake

Scattered patches of smoldering ash emit wisps of grey smoke—10 days after the fire. The once verdant flora is now black. The air hints of scorched grass underfoot.

“These hot spots are not out. I worry about what’s going to happen,” says Dr. Michelle Stevens, professor of environmental studies at Sac State. “Just let it all burn? Will we have nothing left?”

Bushy Lake, 20 acres of riparian landscape and wetland, located behind Cal Expo along the lower American River Parkway, has burned three times in recent years—2014, 2017 and this past June.

Kitten Crusaders

Soft mews came from the church ceiling. Staff could hear the kittens crying, but could not access the fragile felines.
Kitten Connection to the rescue.

“I could see the kittens in an AC duct,” says Stephanie McCall, a Kitten Connection volunteer. She grabbed a cardboard box, climbed a ladder and opened the air conditioning grate. “They all fell right into the box. I felt like Wonder Woman.”

Take Off

It was one of those January storms everyone talks about the next day. The National Weather Service reported gusts of 60 mph. Trees toppled. Thousands lost power. Structures collapsed.

The barn-size aviary flight cage at Sacramento’s Wildlife Care Association turned into a pile of rubble—only weeks from the nonprofit’s busiest season, when abandoned and injured baby birds must learn to fly.

Second Act

Second Act Senior pets have more love to give By Cathryn Rakich May 2021 I picked up the 10-pound mutt—a brown and black muddled mess of terrier, chihuahua and who knows what else—from Sacramento County’s Bradshaw Animal Shelter. My husband and I foster...

Share via
Copy link