You Can Help Pets Affected by Tornado’s in Southern Indiana

Tornadoes in Southern Indiana on Friday March 2, 2012 devastated several small towns.

As a pet owner I know that I would be concerned about my pet’s welfare if I lost everything, pets are family, and a great comfort.  This timely NPR story describes the physical and emotional benefits of simply interacting with an animal.  Keeping a pet with you during a relatively minor life upheaval can be very challenging so I can’t imagine what it must be like for those who are suddenly without everything, except their pets.  In an effort to help survivors of Friday’s tornado’s care for their best friends Spay and Neuter Indians Pets, SNIP, and Pet Supples Plus have partnered to collect donations of pet supplies that SNIP will deliver as needed.

They are asking that you makes purchases of items such as pet food, leashes/collars, litter/boxes etc. at Pet Supplies Plus and leave at any of the four stores in the boxes marked SNIP Tornado Relief or you can stop by the SNIP van in front of the Greenwood PSP store on Sat 3/10/12 from 12:30 to 2:30 with “gently used” items. If you can’t make it to the store and have gently used items or want to make a cash donation for us to purchase items at PSP you can contact SNIP

SNIP is a non profit organization that provides “High Quality – Low Cost” spay and neuter services by partnering with local vets who share their passion for saving lives.  100% of funds go directly to help the animals, in this case it is the victims of the tornados.  Your donation will go just a far year round with SNIP though because 100% of your donation goes to our spay neuter services–none goes to fundraising, office expenses or employees as they have no employees! They are an all volunteer group, working locally in their communities, grassroots spay neuter initiatives.

SNIP is an IRS 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, your donation is deductible.

Anything you can do to increase donations is appreciated and I’ll do whatever I can to help get donations to SNIP.

IndyFeral – Saving the lives of cats most in need.

I have unfortunately been unable to upload the pictures that I want to include it this post due to my malfunctioning internet.  I will update the post ASAP.


IndyFeral was my gateway into truly becoming involved in animal rescue.  My introduction to feral cats was much like most people’s.  I kept seeing a couple cats lurking around the garbage outback, lounging in the sun on the porch and hiding in the bushes out front.  I started feeding them and realized they were not friendly to humans and likely not owned or not fixed.  A little research lead me to IndyFeral.  The next thing I knew I was not only the caretaker of what turned out to be 8 feral cats but an active volunteer with IndyFeral, having been quickly converted by the enthusiasm, devotion and empathy everyone involved exuded.

The mission of IndyFeral is simple:  IndyFeral seeks to reduce the stray and feral cat overpopulation through the non-lethal method of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), not trap and kill.  This mission is so important because ” In the U.S. the most comprehensive data indicates that nearly 72% of cats that enter these facilities are killed.  For feral cats, the kill rate in shelters and pounds rises to virtually 100%.” (Source)

What is Trap Neuter and Return?  TNR is a humane and non-lethal approach to feral cat population control. It is a comprehensive management plan where healthy feral (free-roaming) cats are sterilized and vaccinated, then returned to their habitat and provided with long-term care. (Definition courtesy of Alley Cat Allies.)

What is a Feral Cat?  “A Feral cat may be defined as any cat to wild or unsocialized to be kept in a typical home.  These cats are often born in the wild and avoid direct human contact.  Every feral and abandoned cat is the end result of irresponsible pet owners who failed to spay or neuter their cat then allowed it to roam freely.”  *As defined on the IndyFeral website.

This 1 minute video also explains what a feral cat is.

I would add that in my opinion these cats are the most in need of our assistance and protection as well as perhaps the most deserving because we have abandoned them and without organizations like IndyFeral there would be no one to advocate for them.

When Lisa Tudor realized that there was a great need for a TNR program in Indianapolis, IN it 2002 Indy Feral was born.  Thanks to the fantastic volunteers, some of which have been active since 2002,  that she was able to bring into the cause Indy Feral can proudly present following amazing statistics:

  • 23,194 cats fixed
  • Assistance for over 2,500 managed colonies
  • 2,717 friendly cats/kittens removed from colonies

Marion County, Indiana passed a TNR Ordinance that regulates the care of stray and feral cats with the assistance of IndyFeral who was instrumental in passing this ordinance.

IndyFeral is somewhat unique among rescue groups as you will see if you visit their website.  They share regularly updated listing of many dog, cat and wildlife rescue resources on their site and in a pdf format.  They also offer the only comprehensive listing of low cost medical care for pets in Indianapolis that I know of.  In this way they make it clear that they are a part of the solution, for all animals in need in Indianapolis, IN.  A special, unique and effective organization that deserves our support through a monetary donation, food donation (scroll to bottom of page) or by volunteering.

I hope this post will make you look at the stray cat in your yard a little differently next time he shows up.  You can help save lives and IndyFeral will help you do it.


More Raptors!

Brandt and I attended a Birds of Prey presentation put on by The Orinthology Center at Eagle Creek Park , where regular presentations are given, that was hosted by Wild Birds Unlimited .

Brandt shot video of the presentation. This is an edited version showing some highlights.
Cast in order of appearance:
Screech Owl, grey
Red Tailed Hawk-25 year old female who has been at the center almost her entire life
Male Great Horned Owl

Raptor presentation video from Saturday 18 June 2011. Video shot and edited by Brandt Ryan.

I hope it inspires you to listen for an owl, look for a Bald Eagle (they’re here-see previous Raptor entry!) or notice the bird of prey that is probably a Red Tailed Hawk hunting from a perch along the interstate.

Chloe’s Mutt Strut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Chloe the Pug at the Mutt Strutt at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Chloe, the 10 year young Pug, has been a Happy Critter since 2003. She took her human to Mutt Strut on Saturday May 1st, 2011 to strut her stuff and benefit her cousins at the Humane Society Of Indianapolis. Chloe persuaded her mom to walk the entire 2.5 miles without her mom needing to carry her. (Carrying Chloe helps her mom feel safe in strange places.) She did have to let her human rest and get a drink a few times but she is nonetheless very proud of her human for her assistance in helping the homeless animals.

Chloe and her mom dedicate their Mutt Strut to Cooper, who was surely walking along side them in spirit.

Pug Power at the Brickyard.

Chloe burns up the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Raptors in Indiana -Rescued Birds of Prey Wildlife Talk

On Saturday 3, April 2011 a pet sitter friend (this it the only link this post has to pet sitting but critters are the focus, they aren’t pets, but it is Amy’s Happy Critters, Inc.) invited me to join her in Rocky Ripple for a presentation on Raptors in Indiana, specifically owls.  The presentation was put on by the Dwight Chamberlain Raptor Center located at Hardy Lake which is owned and operated by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The raptor center is not supported by and state funds but by donation.  “Friends of Hardy Lake is an all volunteer, non profit, 501 (c)(3) corporation. The purpose of the corporation is to support the Hardy Lake State Recreational Area of Indiana,The Dwight Chamberlain Raptor Rehabilitation Center and Hardy Lake Interpretive Educational Programs – Through both fundraising and man power.”

The birds that come into the center are generally injured or orphaned.  They are  rehabilitated and released if at all possible.  Those that can not return to the wild due to their injuries have a home for life that approximates wild raptor life as much as possible. They are not treated as pets at all, they don’t even name the birds.  They are used to educate the public in outreach programs like this one.  The owls will act as foster parents to orphaned young of their own species which helps orphans learn the basics of being owls.


The information that I provide is recalled from the presentation and/or quickly fact checked by the internet and we all know how dangerous it can be to consider all that we find on the internet factual.  The links provided regarding the birds seemed to be the best on offer but, again, my research was not exhaustive.  I apologize for any inaccuracies.

Whoo’s Whoo?

The owls pictured are:

  • The Great Horned Owl
  • The Screach Owl
  • The Barred owl
  • The Barn owl

The Red-Tailed Hawk

The Red-Tailed Hawk is the most common hawk in North America.  It can live up to 21 years in the wild.  They weigh a mere 3-4 pounds, the female is larger then the male.

They generally hunt small mammals, rodents and reptiles.  Their preferred hunting grounds are open fields.  The grassy areas along interstates meets this criteria well.  If you see a raptor along the interstate, it’s likely a Red-Tail.  I have seen a hawk, presumably a Red-Tail, dive and come back up with a snake while driving along the interstate.

He is often blamed for the death and disappearance of chickens and other barn yard animals, hence the nickname “chicken hawk”.  The Red-Tail gets the blame because he is so often seen during the day.  It is more likely that the chickens were lost to the Great Horned Owl, who hunts at night, while the Red-Tail hunts during the day.

This video was taken at the presentation.  You can’t appreciate the size of this hawk unless you see it in person though.

Bald Eagle

In the 1970’s when it was placed on the endangered species list there were about 600 Bald Eagles in the continental United States.  Pesticides such as DDT and the ever challenging problem of habitat loss were the primary reasons for this near extinction of our national symbol.  In 2009 the DNR in Indiana counted 94 active nests in Indiana, meaning that Indiana was likely home to 188 Bald Eagles.  There were nearly a third as many eagles in Indiana in 2009 as there were in the continental United States in the 1970’s.  Assuming that just one chick, of the average of two eggs laid, from each nest survived each year, there may now be 376 Bald Eagles in Indiana by the end of 2011.  A remarkable conservation achievement.

A male Bald Eagle.

Bald eagles are primarily fishers but they will also supplement their diet with other animals, including the occasionally steeling the kill of another predator, and they will happily dine on carrion.  It is said that these unsavory habits are one reason that Benjamin Franklin preferred the Wild Turkey as our national symbol.

The Bald Eagle in this video, shot at the presentation, is a male and he weighs about 8 pounds.  You will see him jumping around quite energetically when not perched on the handlers arm.  She says if you want to know what it feels like, imagine an 8 pound bowling ball flinging itself around while connected to your arm!  She says she is glad that they don’t have a female as they can weigh 10-12 pounds.

I live on what is often referred to as “The Compound”.  (I live next door to my dad, who lives next door to my uncle, who lives next door to my brother, who lives next door to his best friend.)  All of us live on at least 5 partially wooded acres that back up to a White River flood plain.  We are fortunate enough to have a Bald Eagle nest in our vicinity.  We occasionally get to adults and juveniles from this nest.

Eastern Screech Owl

Though only weighing about as much as a slice of bread, the Screech Owl has perhaps frightened more people then any other owl with it’s characteristic screech.

Eastern Screech Owl

The Screech Owl feeds on a variety of small animals and large insects.  They have also been known to eat songbirds, notably the European Starling.  Like other owls the Screech Owl is a cavity dweller, preferring to nest in cozy holes instead of building a nest.  The Starling will evict a Screech Owl from it’s nest to use it for it’s self.  So, dining on this particular song bird seems only fair.

The most common injury to owls is being hit by a car while hunting.  Flying into barbed wire fences, particularly when overgrown with weeds and vines, is a close second.  This Screech Owl came to the rehabilitation center as a young chick because it had fallen out of the nest and had what was believed to be an eye injury.  As it grew it became apparent that the damage was to it’s entire right side, not just it’s eye.  It is unknown weather or not this is a congenital defect or an injury.  This owl is unique among the birds in this post because it has never flown.

Barn Owl

The Barn Owl, also know as the “monkey faced owl” is endangered in Indiana primarily due to habitat loss.  It feeds almost exclusively on mice and voles which are easily hunted over open fields and grasslands.  It too is a cavity dweller but has adapted to our intrusion into it’s habitat by making use of old wooden barns so frequently that it is named for this behavior.  In an effort to save this owl from extinction in Indiana those who have suitable hunting grounds for Barn Owls are encouraged to provide “housing” by building a simple nesting box, to invite them to nest.

Barn Owl

Unlike other owls, which only reproduce once a year, the Barn Owl can lay up to three clutches of eggs a year.

Both Barn Owls and Screech Owls are not Hoot Owls.  They have distinct calls but they are not the characteristic hoot typically associated with owls.

This Barn Owl came to the rehabilitation center after being hit by a plane at an airport in Louisville, KY.

Barred Owl

Barred Owls that live in the northern part of the country are  partially migratory unlike most other owls.  They prefer to hunt and nest in deep woods and wetlands.  The Barred Owl will hunt just about anything smaller then itself if the creature is unlucky enough to pass near the perch where it is waiting patiently for it’s prey.

Barred Owl

Though Barred Owls are cavity dwellers like other owls, on rare occasions they will “time share” a Red-Tailed Hawk’s nest.  The owl will move in and use the nest during the day while the hawk hunts and the hawk will come home to live at night while the owl is hunting.  If both birds lay eggs they will even feed each other’s chicks.

Barred owls are hoot owls and but have a distinct call.

The large, satellite dish shaped feather pattern around their eyes serves the purpose of funneling and magnifying sounds to aid in hunting.  They are also almost silent in flight. Unfortunately this informative BBC video will come with a loud commercial.  It is worth enduring to find out more about these interesting hunting techniques.

This video was filmed last year by my husband from our screened porch.  My husband had enough time to try to film the owl with his phone, see that it was not going to work, go get his video camera and shoot this 55 second video before the owl takes off.

Great Horned Owl

The magnificent Great Horned Owl is a top predator, meaning we are the only threat to it.  On occasion a Great Horned Owl has been known to prey adult Bald Eagles.  As a top predator, just about everything is on the menu but a favorite meal is skunk.  The Great Horned Owl sees in black and white so when an unfortunate skunk is lumbering across the forrest floor it more or less looks like a like a neon sign flashing “dinner” to the owl. It is also a big help that the Great Horned Owl has no sense of smell.

Great Horned Owl

This owl has the typical hoot we generally associate with owls.

The Great Horned Owl has another advantage over other predators.  It is the first to nest each year, usually in an abandoned hawk’s or crow’s nest.  This ensures the Great Horned’s young are larger then their competitors as they grow into their top predator status.

This video was also shot at the presentation.  The handler is telling us how this particular owl always behaves in this undignified manner when she is brought out of her box  for a presentation.

If you have enjoyed this post about raptors in Indiana consider making a donation to the Dwight Chamberlain Raptor Center.  You will help save the lives of raptors and facilitate public education about these often misunderstood predators.

Facebook page Dedicated to Foster Pets, Rescue and Adpotion

Miss Kory "Likes" the Amy's Happy Foster Critters page she inspired!

I created a Facebook page devoted to foster pets called Amy’s Happy Foster Critters. I created this page so you can choose whether or not you’d like to hear every detail about any foster pet I might encounter. Many of you will hear more then you care to straight from me. Others lucky enough to be spared that, may, like me, spend your time feeling so sorry for the pet that you try to convince yourself and everyone you know they NEED to adopt. So, this new page is not for the soft hearted or those on my speed dial. I just hope it helps even one pet find a forever home.

Please share it with anyone who is interested in adoption, fostering, rescue or other animal welfare issues.  You never know when that special pet will choose it’s human!

Miss Kory my Foster Dog from Indianapolis Animal Control

I picked Mis Kory up at Animal Care and Control lsat night.  She is spayed, current on her vaccinations, temperament tested and looking for her forever home.  I will post more information about her personality and temperament as I get to know her.  Please pass this along and consider volunteering, fostering, donating, or adopting with Indianapolis Animal Care and Control as they are over loaded and woefully understaffed.