Tuolumne County Animal Control launches food bank for pets

Union Democrat article by Alex Maclean

Tuolumne County Animal Control has started a food bank for pets in response to a growing need within the community.

Christina Whitcomb, who works for Animal Control as a registered veterinary technician, said she proposed the idea after seeing more people coming into the agency’s shelter in Jamestown over the past year seeking food for their pets.

“When I first started here, which was about three years ago, I never saw anybody come in and ask for animal food,” she said. “Now, we probably get people coming in on a weekly basis for the past year.”

Whitcomb said some of those who have come to the shelter in need of food for their pets were homeless, while others had just fallen on hard times.

However, the fact that they came to the shelter asking for help showed Whitcomb they cared about the well-being of their animals.

“I commend them for doing that because it shows they care,” she said. “I’ve always wanted people to do that. If they can’t afford something, animal control is here to help.

People who work for Animal Control were previously using their own money to purchase dog and cat food that they could give to the pet owners who came to them asking for help.

Whitcomb got permission from her supervisors, Animal Control Manager Mike Mazouch and Agricultural Commissioner Kelle Schroeder, to begin seeking donations through Facebook a few weeks ago.

“We’re budgeted to feed animals in our shelter, but not a program like this, so I started promoting it through Facebook and people started bringing us food,” she said.

People in the community have dropped off about 100 pounds of animal food over the past several weeks since Whitcomb put out the call for donations, according to her estimates.

Tractor Supply Co., which has a store in East Sonora, also recently donated an entire pallet that Whitcomb estimated was about 500 pounds of animal food.

“Tuolumne County has an amazing community because they step up when people need help,” Whitcomb said.

The agency will give away free dog and cat food on a first come, first serve basis at its first food bank day on Wednesday. (See box for more details.)

Whitcomb said they are planning to create a regular schedule for food bank days after seeing how the first one goes and how many people show up, because there’s nothing else like it in the county.

“We have ATCAA food banks, but nothing for animals,” she said. “We wanted to show people that Animal Control isn’t just laws and regulations. We really do care and want animals to be taken care of and not be hungry.”

People who are interested in donating can also drop off food at the shelter.

Whitcomb said dry food is ideal, but canned food that’s not expired is also accepted for dogs and cats with dental issues or no teeth at all. Canned food with a pop top is preferred for people who don’t have access to a can opener.

The agency also recommends donating food that’s certified by the Association of American Feed Officials, or AAFCO, which established nutritional requirements for pet food. Whitcomb said it will say on the packaging whether it’s AAFCO certified.

It’s important for domesticated animals to get the proper type of pet food because they can encounter health problems from eating food that’s high in fat, Whitcomb said.

“Our animals aren’t wolves anymore, we’ve domesticated them and changed the way they digest things,” she said. “You can’t just feed them scraps from your hands.”

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.

Thank you Lia!

Just got this lovely recommendation from my former client Lia. I had the pleasure of taking care of their cats Chauncey and Habu. Chauncey loved his brushing time but Habu was what I called an invisi-cat – she disappeared when I walked in the door. Occasionally she’d peer down from the top of the stairs “phantom of the opera” style: you could only see half her face as the other half was hidden behind a wall lol.

“My husband and I lived in the Sonora area temporarily before moving back to SoCal. While living in Sonora, we traveled to SoCal often for several days at a time. We were so grateful that a friend told us about Jan and her pet-sitting services. We couldn’t have been happier, or felt more at ease with the care that our pets received. Jan asked us what level of communication we’d like about her daily visits, and even offered photos and videos. She is very knowledgeable and keeps herself informed on the latest regarding the health and safety of animals. Her love and care for their well-being creates an environment of trust that is unmatched. While she is a pet-sitter, not a “house-sitter” she is willing to help out with simple things like bringing in your trash can, or bringing in newspapers from the driveway, time provided. I highly recommend using the services of Fat Tabby pet-sitting. Jan is very in-tune to the different personalities and needs of your furry (or scaley, feathery, etc) family members. You can feel secure and confident that they will be safe, clean, loved and happy. ~ Lia”

Digital Detox

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Well we all made it through the holidays. I think this was the first Christmas I didn’t have a client emergency! Despite that I’m still pretty exhausted so, since January is a traditionally very slow month, I am taking a month long digital break. We don’t have television – not since 2007 – and I get text and email bookings so I will be on the computer or phone each day but I won’t be on news sites nor social media during this time.

This is not some sanctimonious “I’m too good for the Internet and if you were smart you’d follow my example” nonsense. I really dislike that attitude. This is for me to get some healthier daily habits in place during my slow time: meditation, more consistent exercise, daily grounding, normal human being bed times, things like that. I also need to be more creative in my real life and want to start writing again.

Once a new habit is practiced for 30 days there’s a high likelihood that it becomes permanent. My goal is to have those habits in place once busy season begins again.

If you need to contact me the Fat Tabby number is my cell phone. I’m also on WhatsApp.

Have a peaceful January!

Another Goodbye

It’s with mixed emotions that I have to say “Happy Tails” to another long time client. Lily and her mom Tara are moving back to their Sacramento hometown after over two years in Sonora. I walked Lily upwards of twice a week for those two plus years and it’s hard to say goodbye even though good things await them.

Here I am with Lily this afternoon on our very last walkabout. Yes I cried. I’ll miss this happy little girl very much.

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Silly Lily and Auntie Jan

Important Info on Grain Free Diets

Sierra Veterinary Care in Sonora has been doing a lot of work and research on grain free diets. There is new info out there that points to them causing severe illness. If you don’t follow Sierra Vet on Facebook it would be a good idea. Here’s their latest post on the grain free issue. (Note: I’ve never liked grain free – my cats’ fur looked awful on it years ago and I stopped. I feed ProPlan Indoor with a Purina Vet formula for urinary issues.)

“Remember that grain-free issue I have been ranting about for months?? UCD School of Veterinary Medicine released the paper on which diets they are seeing the disease in. Some may say I’m biased but our veterinary school is the best in the world!!

In short it includes: Taste of the Wild venison and Legumes, ACANA (multiple formulas), 4health (multiple formulas), Zignature Lamb, Instinct Lamb, Nutrisource chicken and rice, Kirkland Signature, FROMM (multiple formulas) and Orijen. If you are feeding these diets we strongly advise you change diets faster than you can say FOOD TRIALS ARE SO INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT!! This entire disease would have been avoided had companies done feed trials on their food. Their AAFCO statement should say their food underwent a feeding trial.

If the food your dog is on isn’t on the above no no list, we still strongly advise changing to a diet that has had a feed trial done on it because a diet can easily be poorly formulated and be flying under the radar. The easy ones we suggest feeding are: Hill’s Science Diet (my personal favorite), Royal Canin, and PurinaProPlan. Here’s the article for your reference:

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0209112&type=printable&fbclid=IwAR2dCRvjEAUrnTs_XT3gUhgS_z_zlIPag9X1youM9KCw62yu2mFGHKSdH-8

All Booked Up

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To quote the legendary Porky Pig, “THAT’S ALL FOLKS!” I am at maximum capacity for the holidays with no wiggle room for any more bookings.
Any other calls will be put on a waiting list in case of cancellations. I also won’t be taking any new clients until after the first of the year.

Have a great Holiday Season everyone!

Christmas is booking up fast!

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I’ve got four spots remaining for Thanksgiving but only two left for Christmas. Please book quickly to reserve your spot. Also please know that I will not be able to accomodate any last minute requests for most of November and December. Please always check but know that it’s extremely difficult at the holidays to fit folks in last minute. Thank you!

Vacation and Holiday Scheduling

Summer is winding down as is my crazy 24/7 summer sitting schedule. I have some much needed slow time the next few weeks and wanted to update the Fat Tabby Family about the upcoming holidays. I’ve been meaning to do this every year but it seems I think about it one day then the next day it’s November 30th. 

Many of you know that I have an annual holiday party for my kids and grandkids (just had grandchild #4 yesterday!). This is my 9th year doing it – it’s usually the second weekend of December after the Thanksgiving rush and before the Christmas rush. Sure it’s early in the season but I’m always very overbooked during Christmas and everyone is spread so thin trying to make it to all their stops. I got fed up with that and decided to take matters into my own hands and create my own holiday tradition. In the past I tried to close Fat Tabby for a week and this year I am giving myself the gift of sticking to that schedule since I’m usually pretty slow.

So this year I’ll be closed and unavailable from Tuesday December 4th through Monday December 10th so please plan accordingly.

When it comes to the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year holidays themselves I am going to try to limit myself to 6 to 8 client visits per day. Many years I can top 12 or 13 and that’s just too much up here in the mountains as the weather can slow my schedule down greatly during the winter (I’ll never forget the nightmare of the 2015 Christmas snow with all the valley people blocking every road from Twain Harte on up!). Please remember that it will be first come first served for reservations. I’ve never had to turn a client away and hope not to do that but last year really took a tremendous toll on me physically, and it took me weeks to recover, so I want to put preventative measures in place now.

Please check my snow policy and dog and cat sitting requirements under the “My Services” tab above. Let’s make this winter as cozy and comfortable for us and your fur kids!

This post is also going out via the mail to the Fat Tabby Family in the coming week so look for it in your mailbox but if you look at the column on the right and the second block down it says “follow this blog by email.” If you are member of the Fat Tabby Family please follow this blog as I don’t send out newsletters usually and all my news and information appears here first. I then will post it to the Fat Tabby Facebook page but even that isn’t as reliable as getting the posts by email. As you can see I average maybe one post a month so you won’t be spammed.

Thank you for being a part of the Fat Tabby Family!

Holidays Are Coming ‘Round the Mountain

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Today is the final holiday of summer and believe it or not I’m already booking for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Once again Fat Tabby will be closed from December 4th through the 10th for my annual Yule party for my kids and grandkids (#4 grandchild who is #3 granddaughter due any day now).

Please plan on booking ahead as my holiday slots will be limited to eight separate client visits and two of those visits are already taken. I’m determined not to drive myself to the brink of exhaustion this year like previous years but I make that promise to myself every year and have yet to keep.