The Never-Ending Kitten Season

EPS_8961Kitten season refers to the months where shelters like the SPCA see many underage kittens come through our doors.

This season typically runs from April to September, and during this time we often receive boxes of young kittens daily. This year, despite the fact that winter is fast-approaching, the weather has remained mild. Unfortunately, this unseasonably warm weather has resulted in the Sacramento SPCA receiving young, unweaned kittens into November.

Our foster program currently has more than 80 kittens in foster care…a number unheard of in November!

Interested in becoming an SPCA foster parent?  We are always in need of new foster parents who can help raise these young kittens and help get them ready for their new homes.  Visit our website for more information.

Got a full house already? We are also in need of supplies like meat flavored baby food and small litter boxes, which help young kittens grow big and strong! You can even order from our SPCA Amazon Wish List and save a trip to the store!

Unique gifts that keep on giving

Tired of giving tacky ties and other token gifts?  Are you looking for unique holiday gift ideas that give back?  Well, look no further.  The Sacramento SPCA has a gaggle of great gift ideas that are sure to please friends and family…and the animals win too!


Greetings!  Purchase a package of greeting cards (blank inside) featuring whimsical original artwork by local artist, Kat Moon.  All animals depicted were adopted from the Sacramento SPCA and proceeds from the sale of the cards benefit the SPCA.  Get a package of five, limited-edition cards and envelopes for just $8 at the SPCA Adoption Center.


Deck ‘em out in SPCA logo-wear and help those you love make a fashion statement! Choose from a variety of unique SPCA shirts, sweatshirts and more. Shop in person at the SPCA adoption center during regular shelter hours.

Honor a loved one with a custom tile, brick, personalized card or e-card.  Design (or let friends and family design) a custom tile to be displayed at the SPCA adoption center.  Honor or memorialize a beloved pet.  Use your creativity to tell a friend how much you care. Or send your holiday message in a card or e-card, featuring one or our many custom designs.  For information on purchasing a brick, tile or personalized card, click here or call (916) 504-2843.

Shop our boutique Thrift Store for gently-used bargains and a variety of holiday decor!  Visit the Sacramento SPCA Thrift Store at 1517 E Street in Midtown Sacramento and you’ll find holiday decorations, clothing, and plenty of great gifts for everyone on your list.  Call (916) 442-8118 or click here for hours and additional information.

Become a Constant Companion.  For as little as $5 per month, you (or a friend) can become a Constant Companion to the animals at the Sacramento SPCA.  Monthly donations help to make our work possible.  In 2015, with help from our monthly Constant Companion donors and others, the SPCA will find homes for thousands of animals.  We will spay/neuter more than 23,000 animals in our clinic.  We will provide assistance to senior citizens and their pets, and we will educate children – the next generation of humane leaders and pet caregivers.  By becoming a Constant Companion you, your family and friends are helping us to help those who need us most.  For information on making a monthly donation, click here or call (916) 504-2803.

Give the gift of membership!  For a minimum donation of $20, you can give someone a Sacramento SPCA membership.  Members receive a Sacramento SPCA decal, a one-year subscription to our Heartline newsletter, enrollment in our online community, and the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping to change lives for the better.  For membership information, click here or call (916) 504-2803.

For more information on these and other gift ideas that help the animals, visit or call (916) 504-2803.  Happy holidays to you, your family and friends!

Long Live the Laundry Man

Longtime Sacramento SPCA volunteer Ward McCombs is proud of his contribution to the organization.

“They call me the Laundry Man,” he says. McCombs, a retired United States Postal Service worker, spends two days a week at the SPCA running towels, blankets, pet beds and toys through the industrial washing machines. “I get about 15 loads done a day,” he says. “When I’m here, those machines run the whole time. I have it down just right: One load washes and one load dries while I fold the clean stuff, then I start the cycle over again.”

For fun, McCombs began keeping track of how much laundry he does at the shelter. “As of August, it was 989 loads of wash done,” he says proudly. “I’ll be at over 1,200 by the end of the year.”

McCombs’ work is made more challenging by the fact that he’s in a wheelchair due to brittle bone disease, peripheral neuropathy and arthritis. “I get frustrated using the wheelchair,” he says, “but I ain’t going to give in to this stupid thing. I can stand up as long as I’ve got something to hold on to that’s real sturdy. My health isn’t going to stop me from doing the laundry.”

An abiding love for dogs is what sparked his interest in volunteering for the SPCA. “I wanted to do something that helps dogs,” McCombs explains. “The dogs I’ve had in my life gave me so much love. I figured I’d give a little bit back.”

He shares his North Highlands home with four Chihuahuas (Juanita, Taco, Josie and ChiChi), three of them adopted from the Sacramento SPCA. “For the other one, my vet called me and said some clients didn’t want her, they just wanted her pups, and how about if I came down and looked at her? So I went down and she sat in my lap and went to sleep, and I said, ‘She’s mine.’ That’s number three, Josie,” he says.

His most recent adoption was tiny two-pound ChiChi. “I should actually rename her ‘Hey, Where’s My Little Girl?’” McCombs laughs. “She won’t come if I call ‘ChiChi,’ but if I holler, ‘Hey, where’s my little girl?’ she comes running.”

McCombs plans to continue as a volunteer as long as his health allows. “I take it as easy as I can when I work,” he says. “But I have to do my part to help the dogs. I’d like to take more of them home, but I’ve got my four and that’s enough right now. So I’m just going to make things better for all those dogs who are waiting for homes.”

Share your adoption story and help the SPCA win $100,000!

We have exciting news!FriendsWithBenefits

The Sacramento SPCA has the chance to win up to $100,000 to help animals in need, and all we need is for you to submit your adoption story.

The Petco Foundation, in partnership with Halo, Purely for Pets, recently announced its Holiday Wishes grant campaign, designed to help the most dedicated animal welfare organizations save more lives.

So, what does that mean for us? The Sacramento SPCA has a chance to receive $100,000 if you will just share your heartwarming SPCA adoption story!

family portraitBy submitting your adoption story and nominating the Sacramento SPCA to participate in this year’s campaign, we will have the opportunity to receive up to $100,000 in grants to continue doing what we do best – saving lives.

And get this: If our organization is selected to receive the $100,000 grand prize as a result of your nomination, you will receive a year’s supply of Halo dog or cat food.

If you adopted your pet through the Sacramento SPCA, please consider submitting your story (500 words max) along with two photos of your pet (one alone and one with you). Be sure to talk about how your pet has changed your life, and how the Sacramento SPCA helped you find each other!

The deadline to submit your story and nominate us for a Holiday Wishes grant is Oct. 31, and only the first 10,000 submissions are guaranteed to be considered, so please visit to get started as soon as possible. Be sure to read the Holiday Wishes FAQ for complete story submission information.

Also, be sure to include the contact information below on your nomination form to ensure that we can respond to the Petco Foundation if your story is selected as a finalist!

  • (Organization Name) – Sacramento SPCA
  • (Organization contact) – Lesley Kirrene
  • (Contact email address) –
  • (Contact phone number) – (916) 504-2828

The winning organization and their featured pets will be announced in December. For more information on the Petco Foundation Holiday Wishes Grant Campaign visit

Thank you for your support!

Rick Johnson, CEO

p.s. If you have any questions, please contact Lesley Kirrene (see contact information above).

2015 SPCA Fall Book Sale Coming in November!

Autumn themed Cat portrait with Pumpkins and Walnuts

Book enthusiasts and animal lovers alike are expected at the Sacramento SPCA’s annual fall book sale starting Thursday, November 12 and running through Sunday, November 15 at Country Club Plaza, 2310 Watt Avenue, Sacramento.  The sale will be held inside the mall near the former Gottschalk’s store.

Our book sale will feature thousands of gently used books in a variety of popular categories including biographies, children’s books, cookbooks, fiction, history, holiday, large print, mystery, nearly new, romance, table top and teens.

Hours are Thursday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Proceeds from the four day book sale will go directly to helping homeless, lost or unwanted animals at the Sacramento SPCA.  For more information call (916) 504-2842,

Barking Dog? That’s Ruff…

Barking-DogA barking dog can be annoying, but we know that it’s just as unreasonable to expect a dog not to bark as it to ask a human not to speak.

Barking is a dog’s way of communicating, and under different circumstances, barking can mean different things.  Dogs bark to let their family members know when there’s something going on – someone passing by outside, a strange noise, a visitor coming towards the house.  They bark to warn intruders to stay away.  They bark to greet.  They bark out of boredom.  They bark to seek attention.  They even bark compulsively or because of separation anxiety.

You can’t teach your dog not to bark – barking is an automatic behavior – and dogs are stimulated to bark even more when you shout “shut up!” because they think you’re joining in.   Altering this behavior may seem entirely hopeless, but believe it or not, you can create an “off” switch by teaching your dog to be quiet on cue.  The Sacramento SPCA behavior and training department offers these five steps:

  1. Arm yourself with some type of high-value food reward – tiny pieces of nitrate-free hotdogs, meat, or cheese, for instance.
  2. Each time your dog starts to alarm or “watchdog” bark, say the command Quiet! or Enough! while holding a yummy treat in front of your dog’s nose.  Let him sniff the treat, but don’t let him have it just yet.
  3. While your dog is distracted from barking and has their attention on the treat, repeat Quiet! or Enough! over and over for five seconds.
  4. Give your dog the treat after five seconds of perfect quiet. If the dog starts to bark again before the five seconds are up, repeat the process until you get five seconds.  Just be careful to never reward the dog while it is barking.
  5. Don’t be discouraged if your dog doesn’t get the concept immediately. This procedure needs to be repeated consistently for 4-6 weeks in order to be completely effective.  Cut the treats back gradually on a schedule – something like this:
    1. Do the sequence for two weeks with treats 100% of the time.
    2. Do the sequence for two more weeks with treats 75% of the time.
    3. Do the sequence for two more weeks with treats 50% of the time.
    4. Do the sequence for two more weeks with treats 25% of the time.  After this, no more treats are needed, although you may want to offer them occasionally to reinforce good behavior.  Always praise your dog for complying!
    5. You can also gradually increase the amount of time you expect your dog to be quiet before they get the treat.

Practice at first in set-up situations; your dog will need some time to learn before they can apply it in real world situations.  Once your dog is responding to these cues reliably, you can start to use your quiet cue in real-life situations.  Practice makes perfect, so practice your Quiet! command whenever you get the opportunity to build up that behavior for a well-behaved dog.

Staying Safe Under the Sun


The days may be getting shorter, but tomorrow’s temperatures are predicted to be hot, hot, hot! The Sacramento SPCA would like to remind the region’s dog-lovers to leave their faithful companions at home when the temperatures climb.

Sacramento summers bring plenty of opportunities for two- and four-legged fun, but it’s important to keep a few things in mind to make sure your furry friend stays safe! Never leave your pet in the car during warm weather – just a few minutes can be life-threatening, and costly!  In the Sacramento heat, the inside of your car can reach a deadly 120 degrees in a matter of minutes.  In addition, under new California law, leaving a pet in a hot vehicle can result in a fine of up to $500 and as much as six months in jail. If you see a dog in a parked car on a hot day, try to locate the owner and let him or her know that the situation is urgent; otherwise, call 911.

Additionally, it is important to remember that cars aren’t the only things that get hot when the temperatures rise. Sun-baked pavement is also a danger. Streets, parking lots and sidewalks can easily burn tender paws during warm weather. Remember to exercise dogs in the morning and later evening hours, and keep to the grass whenever possible – and make sure your pets always have access to plenty of fresh water and shade during the hot summer months.

A few simple precautions can save lives and prevent injury. When in doubt, leave them home where it’s cool, and everyone will enjoy the last remaining days of summer safely.

The best way to keep your pet cool, safe and exercised in our hot Sacramento summers is to stay indoors.  What if you have a young energetic pooch?  Here are seven fun games to play that will help keep Fido happy inside:

  1. Find the kibble.   Put your dog’s food to work for you.  Temporarily crate your dog or close him/her in a room while you hide small piles of kibble around the house.   Initially make the kibble easy to find.  As they get better, the hunt can become more difficult.
  2. Fetch/Tug-o-War. These games really doesn’t require a lot of room.   A long hallway is great for throwing and fetching soft items.
  3. Food dispensing toys. Bust boredom by filling a Kong with peanut butter or a Busy Bone with small treats .  In the last few years, the dog toy market has expanded with many puzzles and other exciting games for our canine companions.
  4. Teach new tricks! You can buy a book, search for a YouTube video or attend a class, but dogs of any size, shape or temperament can be taught a trick or two.  Make sure you’re armed with plenty of tasty treats for rewarding appropriate behavior.  Teaching high fives or lying down is great mental exercise, but there are a number of tricks that can poop out your pooch physically as well.  Set up an item like a kitchen chair and teach him/her to go under it, then around it then over it.
  5. Climbing up and down stairs is tremendous exercise for both you and your pet.  Or, sit at the top of the stairs and toss a tiny treat to the bottom.  Once they run down and get the treat, call them up for another one.  In no time you’ll have a tired, well-exercised pup.
  6. Work on loose leash walking. Walk around the house with your dog on a leash.   Go up and down stairs, take 90 degree turns,  start and stop suddenly,  walk around obstacles, all the while clicking, treating and exuberantly praising when your dog walks loosely on the leash.   In no time you’ll have a dog who will walk perfectly on a leash outside when the weather turns nice once again.
  7. Set up an obstacle course. You’re stuck inside – why not?   Set up such obstacles as a box with two open ends to crawl through,  a kitchen chair to jump up and down from, a pole on two stools or boxes to jump over.

Friends with Benefits


Your dog, cat or even your hamster may be just what the doctor ordered.  Owning or interacting with a pet has some surprising health benefits, not to mention the fact that pets can be excellent company!

  1. An animal’s unconditional love makes it easy to smile and banish any negative thoughts you may be having.  In particular, dogs have a way of ramping up the feel-good hormone, oxytocin.
  2. Strolling with your pooch makes you much more likely to get the recommended level of daily physical activity.  People with canine companions are less likely to be overweight.
  3. And on that note, taking a regular walk with your dog can help to ease joint pain and stiffness in knees, hips and ankles that you may experience.
  4. Interacting with your pet is a natural mood-lifter, helping to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol. Playing with your pet not only elevates your dopamine levels, but can help you stay calm and more relaxed.
  5. Owning a pet can increase your longevity by lowering blood pressure rates, thus reducing your risk of heart disease.  The purring of a cat apparently helps even more as cat owners are about one-third less likely to die from a stroke or heart attack.

Visit the Sacramento SPCA adoption center Wednesday through Sunday from 11am to 6pm. You just might leave with a new best friend!


Five Common Misconceptions About Pet Adoptions

Thinking of adopting a pet? Uncover these myths and discover why adoption really is the best option!

Myth #1: I don’t know what I’m getting
There may in fact be more information available about an adoptable pet than one from a breeder or pet store.

Many of the pets at shelters or posted on Petfinder are in foster care. Foster parents live with their charges 24-7 and can often tell you, in detail, about the pet’s personality and habits. If the pet is at a shelter, the staff or volunteers may be able to tell you what he or she is like.

At the very least, you can ask the staff if the pet was an owner surrender (rather than a stray) and, if so, what the former owner said about him or her. Quite often pets are given up because the owner faced financial or housing issues (more on that later). You can also ask about the health and behavioral evaluations the pet has undergone since arriving at the shelter. In contrast, pet store owners rarely have an idea of what a pet will be like in a home.

Myth #2: I can’t find what I want at a shelter

If you can’t find the pet you’re looking for in your local shelter or on Petfinder, don’t give up. Some shelters maintain waiting lists for specific breeds, so don’t be afraid to ask! There are also breed-specific rescues for just about every breed, and most of them post their pets on Petfinder. (Petfinder can even e-mail you when a pet that fits your criteria is posted — just click “Save this Search” at the top of your search results page.)

Myth #3: I can get a free pet, so why pay an adoption fee?

According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy approximately 65% of pet parents in the U.S. get their pets for free or at low cost, and most pets are obtained from acquaintances or family members. The NCPPSP also reports that pets acquired from friends make up more than 30% of pets surrendered to shelters.

While getting a “free” pet may seem like a bargain at first, you’re then responsible for veterinary costs that shelters and rescue groups usually cover, including:

  • Spaying/neutering $150-300
  • Distemper vaccination $20-30 x2
  • Rabies vaccination $15-25
  • Heartworm test $15-35
  • Flea/tick treatment $50-200
  • Microchip $50

Myth #4: Pets are in shelters because they didn’t make good pets

In fact, the main reasons pets are given up include:

  • Owners are moving to housing that don’t allow pets (7% dogs, 8% cats)
  • Allergies (8% cats)
  • Owner having personal problems (4% dogs and cats)
  • Too many or no room for litter mates (7% dogs, 17% cats)
  • Owner can no longer afford the pet (5% dogs, 6% cats)
  • Owner no longer has time for the pet (4% dogs)

As you can see, many of the reasons have nothing to do with the pets themselves. Working with shelter staff and volunteers can be a great way to figure out the best match for you and your home.

Myth #5: Shelter pets have too much baggage

Rescued pets have full histories … something that can actually be GREAT for adopters. Remember, all pets– even eight-week old puppies and kittens — have distinct personalities. Those personalities will either jive with your home and lifestyle or not.  Work with rescue group or shelter staff to find the right fit for you.


Thank you for Dashing

Many thanks to all who helped make our recent Doggy Dash event a smashing success! Whether you made a monetary pledge to a participant, registered and did the official walk with your favorite four-legged friend, or just came by to partake in the spectacular carnival-themed pet festival, we appreciate your contribution. More than $169,000 was raised to benefit the animals of the Sacramento SPCA!

Of course, we couldn’t have done it without our hardworking special events volunteers. From pre-registration to traffic control to clean-up, and everything in between, our volunteers make special days like the Doggy Dash possible.

Sacramento resident Barbara Kluender has been an SPCA volunteer for more than five years. “Cat socializing was my main focus at first,” Kluender says. “I wasn’t in a position at the time to own a cat, and I thought it would be a great way to get my kitty fix. Then I did a little bit with the dog training program, and I loved doing mobile adoptions. But once I started doing special events, I was hooked.”

She helped oversee the pre-registration portion of the most recent Doggy Dash, and also performed countless tasks during the event itself . “The people who come out to that event are fantastic, and there’s such camaraderie among the group, particularly the volunteers. It’s such a fun time for everyone involved,” says Kluender.

Kluender is also a constant presence at the SPCA’s bi-annual book sales. “The book sales are one of my favorite events to volunteer at,” she says. “The people who come to the book sales are so great, avid book readers who tell you about their favorite authors and favorite books, or they’re animal lovers who want to tell you all about their pets. They’re the sweetest people in the world.”

Now retired from the State Controller’s office, Kluender and her husband share their home with Leya the tortoiseshell cat (“She was a ‘foster failure,’ Kluender laughs, “part of a litter we fostered that we just couldn’t give up”) and Onyx, a 14- or 15-year-old Australian shepherd mix. “Onyx is kind of rambunctious,” she says. “Her surrender form said she was 14, but she still has quite a bit of pep.”

Kluender recommends the SPCA’s volunteer program to “anybody who loves animals or people. To me, the shelter is just a really fun place to be. The volunteers who come in love animals and are supportive of one another, and the staff is so appreciative of any help you can give them. You get lots of love from the animals – you always go home feeling loved.”

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