Winter at Ark-Valley Humane Society

Winter at Ark-Valley Humane Society

By: Nikki Ritter, AVHS Executive Director

Snow has begun to blanket our valley as scents of hot cocoa, wood fire stoves, and hearty meals fill the air. With the cold winds of winter nipping at our heels, I would like to share our gratitude to those members of our community who brave this cold weather, making the dedicated journey to come to AVHS to volunteer and foster.

In 2023 we saw our volunteers and foster families step up to help the shelter in big ways. As we worked through our staff transition last fall, several of our longtime volunteers became trained as volunteer canine care technicians in our Adoptable Dog Room. They joined our staff each morning to help clean kennels, feed, and rotate the dogs into our outdoor yards. Additionally, our foster families took on challenges of bottle baby kittens and other animals with special medical needs. In 2023 there was an astonishing 2,164 collective hours of time dedicated to the animals of AVHS by our volunteers alone– surpassing the total for all of 2022 by over 650 hours! Additionally, there was a total of 220 foster placements amongst 153 unique animals.

Kitten Gabriella was one of the special animals who found herself in need of a loving foster family. She arrived at AVHS at only one day old after being found with several littermates, all wrapped in each other’s umbilical cords, sadly abandoned by their mother. Upon arrival at AVHS these kittens were immediately placed into an experienced foster home. It is rare for orphaned kittens this young to live without their mother. Despite all efforts being made, Gabriella’s littermates unfortunately failed to thrive over the next several days, until Gabriella was left as the sole survivor. This was a difficult time for our staff and fosters, but hope still remained for young Gabriella.

Caring for a kitten this young is no small feat; it requires around the clock bottle feeding, temperature controlled environments, and stimulating the kitten to help them go to the bathroom. We knew early on that working to save Gabriella would be a team effort. During her time with AVHS Gabriella was cared for by FOUR loving foster families. In each home she received love, and grew stronger. Our foster families excitedly sent updates to each other as she hit important milestones, like opening her eyes and walking for the first time. While Gabriella stole the hearts of us all, she ultimately found her home with her final foster family, and we could not have been happier! Gabriella worked to teach us all the true sense of community as our fosters and staff worked together to beat the odds for this sweet girl.

We thank our volunteers, foster families, and all within our local community and beyond, that work to ensure that all pets know love. Thank you to those who attended our annual Open House in November. It was so fun and heart-warming seeing so many of you, and it always brings us joy to hear your stories and receive your photos and notes. We wish you, your families, and your furry friends a winter of good health and plenty of cuddle time with your pets.

Note: Louie, pictured here, is currently available for adoption at Ark-Valley Humane Society.


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