Archive | October, 2013

Helping Injured Wildlife and a New Wildlife Rehab Center in Northern Colorado


In a place like Fort Collins that’s full of nature trails and greenbelts, it’s easy to come across a wild animal or two. I see racoons, fox and deer on the regular, doing their thing as they co-exist in my neighborhood. I’ve also seen my share of injured or abandoned wildlife, including the baby barn swallows featured in the photo for this post. The babies were in a tunnel along the Spring Creek Trail after their mud nest crumbled, and they were left crying on a on an upended bucket left in the middle of the trail. Cyclists and walkers whizzed by, causing them a lot of stress.

The happy ending part of this story was that I knew exactly where to take them at the time; WildKind, the former wildlife rehab arm of the Larmier Humane Society. I connected with Bob Nightwalker, my boss during my employment there, and I knew after I dropped them off the baby birds would be cared for by trained, talented folks.

However, as of late 2012, WildKind is no longer an active arm of the Larimer Humane Society. That means there is currently no rehab center equipped to take injured wildlife and rehab them to the point of healthy release back into the wild. The good news is that this is about to change. There are a group of dedicated licensed wildlife rehabilitators, including Nightwalker, and professionals with backgrounds in veterinary and human healthcare, and environmental sciences who are starting a new wildlife rehab organization called the Poudre River Wildlife Center to try and fill this critical gap in animal care.

About the Poudre River Wildlife Center

According to their website, “PRWC is a new, forming organization developing ways to foster a healthy environment for both wildlife and people in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado. Our mission is to provide rehabilitation services to injured, sick, and orphaned wildlife, and collaborate with community partners to promote wildlife conservation through education, outreach and training. The goal is to open in time for spring 2014 “baby season”–a critical time for wildlife.”

“PRWC will focus on the treatment and captive care of Colorado’s native wildlife (excluding raptors and large mammals) with the sole purpose of returning them back into the wild. “The focus is to also promote and create a more holistic and peaceful coexistence between people and wildlife in the community.”

In addition to caring for injured and orphaned wild animal babies, PRWC will provide education and assistance for any resident that finds a wild animal in need, and collaborate with local and state health agencies to track and monitor zoonotic diseases and the general health of wildlife.

The current board for the pending non-profit consists of various volunteers: former WildKind folks and professionals from CSU, including an ecologist and a human doctor, and an assistant from the CSU’s vet teaching hospital. The business plan was written by a masters student and students in marketing department are helping with promotion, and a city planner is helping with zoning details.

PRWC is currently looking for a location in Northern Larimer County, while shaping the vision of the organization and making decisions using the areas of expertise of the board to get it off the ground.

If you are interested in seeing how you can help the PRWC, they are hosting an Open House on Wednesday, Oct. 30th from 6:30-8:30pm at Everyday Joe’s Coffee House at 144 S. Mason St. in Fort Collins. Right now PRWC is looking specifically for folks with a background in wildlife medicine and captive care of wild animals, and to add people with expertise in the following areas to serve on the board; real estate, media, fundraising/event planning.


Helping Injured Wildlife you Find in the Meantime

In my experience working at WildKind, I noticed a large part of Nightwalker’s job was public education. I learned so much in my experience there and connected with Nightwalker again, currently employed as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator at Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Longmont (currently the only “sort of” local organization taking in injured wildlife). I felt it was important to share a few tips about how someone can support injured wildlife until the rehab center gets off the ground.

He explained how there are different steps to take if you happen to find injured wildlife depending on if it’s a bird or a mammal.

“Many people think that a young bird on the ground means it’s abandoned, but it’s a normal stage of their development for crafting their flying skills and lasts about 3 – 5 days. Parents are usually near by keeping watch. So if a young bird is fully feathered and on the ground, hoping around, it’s most likely learning to fly. However, if you notice a nest has fallen out of a tree and babies are on the ground without feathers, eyes closed, it would be a good idea to bring them to a rehab center.

As for mammals like squirrels, bunnies and racoons, there are similar criteria. Do they have fur or are they naked and blind? Are the parents near by and are they able to move on their own? “If there is ever a doubt that they can always call or bring it in — especially a baby,” says Nightwalker.

Nightwalker added, “In Colorado it’s illegal to keep wildlife. There are stiff fines for keeping a wild native species in captivity as a pet. If you are found out or the animal escapes, it may be too imprinted by human interaction and must be euthanized. The animal will also need to be tested for rabies, which requires killing it. So now you have this animal you’ve grown to love that’s going to have to be put down.”

“There is also no way to know if you are giving them the right nutrition, and the animal may have developmental problems as a result. So even if your intention is to release them in the wild, if they have not developed properly and they can’t recognize their own kind, it’s not a quality life for them at all.”

For more specifics about what to do with baby birds or mammals if you happen to find one, here’s information from the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association.


Pet and Animal Events for October 25th – November 1st


This week’s rescue dog is Isabelle, our final featured cutie for Adopt a Shelter Dog Month! She is a 6-year old female American Eskimo Mix, and lots of fun! She’s currently at the Larimer Humane Society.

Now onto our events for the next week. If I missed any, please let me know! I will also add additional events that come up to the Tails of Fort Collins Facebook page and Twitter account. Follow @tailsoffortcollins for updates.

October 25th

4th Annual Phantom Four Miler 

Last Chance to Register — TODAY!

Time: 9 a.m. on October 26th 

Where: Embassy Suites Loveland, 705 Clydesdale Parkway, Loveland, CO 80538

The Phantom 4-Miler was created to raise money for Animal Rescues in Northern Colorado. Race entry includes a 4-Miler run/walk, entry into the costume contest, a ticket into the famous Bone Chilling Breakfast and the best race t-shirt in Northern Colorado! Kids under 10 eat free and have the opportunity to participate in the kids fun run, face painting and cookie decorating. This is truly a fun for the whole family race! This event is a combined effort between the Denkai Animal SanctuaryLarimer Humane Society and Animal House Rescue and Grooming.

October 26th 

There are a lot of events happening this Saturday — make sure you don’t miss any!

Haunt and Hoot Pet Photo Shoot by Animal Rescue of the Rockies 

Bring your pet to the fall holiday celebration for some great photo fun and to help support Animal Rescue of the Rockies. Dress the pets yourself or leave it to their talented pet make-over team. Donations go to helping homeless animals.

When: 10 a.m. to noon. Contest entries from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and professional photos from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Where: Jax Ranch and Home, 1000 N. Hwy 287 in Fort Collins, CO 80524

Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay/Neuter Clinic Mobile Adoption for Kittens 

When: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturday the 26th and Sunday the 27th

Where: Petco in Fort Collins, at 2211 S. College Avenue

The same day, the cat rescue is also going to have a booth at the Halloween Family Fun Festival in Loveland.

When: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Where: Peters Park next to the Loveland Museum/Gallery at 503. Lincoln Avenue

Don’t forget to Pre-order your 2014 FCCRSNC Cat Calendar!

Cost: $20. No need to pay until pickup in November. The calendars are full of valuable coupons to Poudre Pet & Feed Supply! Just e-mail your contact information and quantity desired to

Bow Wowvania at the Farm at Lee Martinez Park 

Trick or Treating has gone to the dogs! Bring your costumed canine friends to The Farm at Lee for this special Halloween event. Dogs will trick or treat, take advantage of photo opportunities and leave with a treat bag just for them. All dogs must be on a leash. Multiple humans may attend with each dog. Tickets can be purchased at The Farm or Poudre Pet & Feed Supply. All ages welcome.

When: 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Where: The Farm at Lee Martinez Park (600 N. Sherwood)

Cost: $5 per dog, humans are free

Contact: The Farm, 970.221.6665

Sunday October 27th

Make a Difference Day Pet Food Drive for the Fort Collins Cat Rescue Spay/Neuter Clinic

Help them stock their kibble supply!

When: 1 – 5 p.m.

Where: Poudre Pet and Feed Supply at two different locations, North at 622 N. College Avenue at Vine and West at 2100 W. Drake Road at Taft Hill.

October 29th is National Cat Day! 

October 31st Happy Halloween! 

A few Halloween safety tips: Remember to keep pets safe and in a secluded area of the house, far away from Trick-or-Treaters. If you want to dress up your pet, just make sure they are comfortable and can’t eat any part of the costume that may injure them. Also keep them far from any of the candy!

Save the Date: November 2nd Why Birds are Cool! Additional classes 9th and 16th the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program is hosting a Birds of Prey Class  Main Facility 720 B East Vine Drive, Fort Collins, Colorado 80524. The 3-Saturday fun and informative course explores the world of raptors. For more information on the class series check out their website.


Acupuncture Treatment for Pets, an Effective Natural Alternative


When a pet is suffering from a chronic condition or recovering from surgery or injury, pet owners face a tough choice. Long-term care can be expensive and multiple trips to the vet are stressful on the animal. So if you are following the vet’s instructions and still feel your pet could be doing better, it might be time to consider acupuncture.

I have not yet tried acupuncture on my cats, although I go regularly myself and have had very positive results. It’s part of what piqued my interest in the practice as a possible alternative healing modality for pets.

I talked with Dr. Katie Steneroden DVM, MPH, PhD, DACVPM and owner of Full Circle Mobile Veterinary Acupuncture, to find out more about acupuncture for animals and how it can help with chronic conditions, injury recovery or as a wellness tool. Her business focuses on in-home acupuncture care for pets and she is also certified in chiropractic care for animals. Dr. Steneroden’s additional training as a veterinary epidemiologist specializing in veterinary public health issues has given her the opportunity to contract with universities, government organizations and animal welfare organizations regarding public health concerns related to animals and work in countries worldwide.

Let’s Start with the Basics, What is Acupuncture?

According Dr. Steneroden, acupuncture is the stimulation of specific areas known as acupuncture points on the body with very fine needles that are sterile, thin and of very high quality. When acupuncture points are activated, the body reacts with a complex cellular and nervous system response involving the brain, spinal cord and blood vessels. This initiates the release of neurotransmitters, including endorphins, serotonin, and other chemicals that help the body function, and also influence pain control, inflammation and other biochemical processes.”

So, in essence, the needles help stimulate certain physiological changes that allow the animal’s nervous system to come back into a state of balance. This enables your pet to release stress and heal more effectively because they are in a state of peace and calm — the optimal state for maximum healing by the body itself. The needles are not painful to the animal, and pets often fall asleep during treatments.

Acupuncture is recognized by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) and the AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) as an accepted and scientifically valid treatment modality — in case you have any doubts of it’s effectiveness as a “real” treatment. Dr. Steneroden said that acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment for animals when administered by a properly trained veterinarian.

What Conditions Can Acupuncture Treat in Animals?

All animals can benefit from acupuncture in improving their general state of health and quality of life, but there are common conditions acupuncture may help improve, including: immunological disorders, neurological issues, (such as seizures or paralysis), as well as gastro-intestinal, dermatological, and emotional challenges. Pain, arthritis, allergies, stress, anxiety and wellness care for cancer patients are some of the most effective uses for acupuncture treatment in pets. For a more complete list, you can check out Dr. Steneroden’s website.

She also mentioned some pet owners simply choose to use acupuncture proactively for their pets to optimize good health or minimize problems associated with aging. Dr. Steneroden personally focuses on small animals including cats, dogs, bunnies, guinea pigs and has done work on some horses.

After a treatment, most animals are a bit tired and should be allowed to rest for 48 hours. It’s not uncommon for an animal to experience more pain at first as the healing process gets stimulated. She said improvements in an animal’s condition usually start to show up at about day three post- treatment, and the number of appointments needed for each animal varies based on condition.


The Huge Benefit of In-Home Visits

Truth? In-home care is less stressful for pets and more convenient and flexible for pet caretakers. Dr. Steneroden also finds it easier to create a treatment plan if she can assess the lifestyle and living environment of an animal, including activity level, slippery floors etc., and can offer useful suggestions for pet owners about small environmental changes that can help the healing process.

At home visits also take the stress out of getting an aging or ill pet into the car and off to multiple visits in an office. Animals are a lot more comfortable in an environment that is familiar to them, especially if they don’t feel well. Plus, they get more healing time if you aren’t disrupting the post-appointment resting period to travel.

In addition to her personal practice, Dr. Steneroden also does volunteer acupuncture work for the Larimer Humane Society and Pets Forever,  the Colorado State University sponsored non-profit program designed to help low-income elderly and disabled Larimer County residents get access to resources and health care for their animals in their homes. The organization also provides dog walking with the pet and/or pet owner, transporting animals to vet appointments and various other services. Both volunteer opportunities allow her to come to the animals, which is best for the healing process.

“Being able to work with both animals and humans, providing direct care and comfort to individual animals, while contributing to the big picture of animal and human health, is a dream come true for me, it’s a really beautiful mix, says Dr. Steneroden.

Understanding the Balance Between Pets and Human Health

As inhabitants of the same household, it’s important to look at the relationship between you and your pets in the day-to-day. You know all that love animals give you unconditionally, especially when they know you are feeling low? They may be trying to take on some of your healing for you. If you’ve been stressed, ill, frustrated, sad — your animal may also be feeling those things along with you. I know when I’m having a bit of a tough time my cats spend more time around me than usual or sleep with me more at night.

An animal’s natural gift of unconditional love can also sometimes mean they exhibit physical symptoms related to the emotional state in the home. That’s why it’s so important to watch how your own stress levels may be affecting your animals. In fact, it’s one of the ways you can really help take care of each other.

For more information about acupuncture for animals, you can check out the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture or Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine Integrative Pain Management and Natural Healing. 

Pet and Animal Events for October 18th – 25th


Remember, October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month!

This week’s featured adoptable dog is 7-month old Kona, an Australian Cattle Dog mix at the Larimer Humane Society. If adopting her is not in the cards for you, you can still sponsor her care at the shelter, or any other animals awaiting homes. Just think about it!

Here are the local events on tap for the next week. Keep an eye the Tails twitter account at @tailoffortcollins for new events added during the week.

Saturday October 19th

Fort Collins Spay and Neuter Clinic ASPCA Mega Match-a-thon

Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Where: Hosted by K9 Wisdom Training and Consulting at 405 SE 8th St. #14, Loveland, CO 80537

On October 19th and 20th the Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay and Neuter Clinic is joining forces with Animal House Rescue and Grooming to host an ASPCA Mega Match-a-thon event — a great opportunity for you to take a wonderful adoptable pets home. There will be at least 75 adoptable dogs, cats, puppies and kittens up for grabs. It’s part of a nationwide effort to get great animals into loving homes.

Check out more information on the Fort Collins Cat Rescue Spay and Neuter Clinic website.

Catillacs and Furraris hosted by Humane Society of Boulder Valley

Time: 6 – 9 p.m.

Cost: $60

Special evening featuring exclusive access to a one-of-a-kind car collection featuring more than 300 antique and classic motor vehicles. Enjoy the blues, jazz, and country stylings of The Bluezzers while enjoying beer, wine, and food. Location of the event is revealed once the ticket is purchased. For more information check out

October 20th

New Volunteer Training for the W.O.L.F Sanctuary 

Time: 2:45 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Where: Empire Garage, 2306 West Mulberry in Fort Collins.

For more information, please send an email to No RSVP is necessary.

October 23rd – RSVP Deadlines 

The following events have deadlines for the 23rd, but the actual events take place a few days later. Please read each description to be sure you are available on the actual date of the event.

Prairie Dog Coalition Annual IX Gala, Living on Burrowed Time

Time: 5:30 p.m. on October 26th

Where: St. Julien Hotel & Spa in Boulder at 900 Walnut Street, Boulder, CO

This annual fundraising event includes fine dining, libations and a silent auction all in an effort to help save the prairie dogs and their habitat, yet another set of animals impacted by the recent floods. More information on the Boulder Humane Society site.

“Eating is for the Birds” Hosted by Rocky Mountain Raptor Program and Sonny Lubick’s Steak House

Time: 6 – 8 p.m. on October 26th

Where: Sonny Lubick’s Steak House, 115 College Avenune in Fort Collins

Cost: $45

Raptors will be on on display during the event, and there will be hors d’oeuvers and wine from Sonny Lubick’s. Beer is being provided by Odell’s Brewing Company. All proceeds will benefit Rocky Mountain Raptor Program. For more information visit the RMRP site, or call 970-484-7756, or email at Only 50 seats available, so sign up now!

October 24th 

“The Paw Project” Documentary

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Where: The Lyric Cinema Cafe

This documentary is about the dangers of declawing and how the process can cause several health problems for cats. The focus is to educate the public about the painful practice of feline declawing, which produces crippling lameness, arthritis and pain due to declawing or “de-knuckling” surgery. The Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay/Neuter Clinic receives 5% of total sales.  Check out The Paw Project for more information about the documentary.

October 25th – Registration Deadlines

4th Annual Phantom Four Miler 

Time: 9 a.m. on October 26th 

Where: Embassy Suites Loveland, 705 Clydesdale Parkway, Loveland, CO 80538

The Phantom 4-Miler was created to raise money for Animal Rescues in Northern Colorado. Race entry includes a 4-Miler run/walk, entry into the costume contest, a ticket into the famous Bone Chilling Breakfast and the best race t-shirt in Northern Colorado! Kids under 10 eat free and have the opportunity to participate in the kids fun run, face painting and cookie decorating. This is truly a fun for the whole family race! This event is a combined effort between the Denkai Animal Sanctuary, Larimer Humane Society and Animal House Rescue and Grooming.

Pre-order your 2014 FCCRSNC Cat Calendar!

Cost: $20

No need to pay until pickup in November. The calendars are full of valuable coupons to Poudre Pet & Feed Supply! Just e-mail your contact information and quantity desired to

That’s all for now. Until next week…

Leash Laws, Voice Command Training and the Human Factor


Resident pet owners in Fort Collins are not shy about sharing their opinion on Fort Collins leash laws. Active, outdoorsy folks have a much different viewpoint than Mom’s, home owner’s associations or the elderly, and dog owners have different insights than cat owners. Then, just for fun, let’s throw in the folks who are just not “animal people”, and probably shake their fists at all the pesky squirrels digging holes in their lawn.

Yet, despite the various heated viewpoints of community members, frustration around leash laws in Fort Collins is much more about the clash between feeling free to exercise the right to raise and care for your pets how you see fit, and how other people feel about that choice.

The Human Flaw in Leash Law

The simple fact is that the laws could be different if people were better with how they train and manage their pets. Cats, dogs, horses or any other animal that is going to interact with people within and outside of your family needs formal training. The leash cannot do all of the work. The owner needs to be connecting with their pet and noticing cues for agitation, fear, or discomfort, in addition to paying close attention to how the animal interacts with other animals and humans while on trails and streets throughout the city. Safety is a first priority for all.

Some breeds have inherent traits, but it’s the training and formative emotional experiences that shape a pet’s behavior. That’s why there is such a push to circulate positive stories about Pit Bulls. With proper training and love, they are as wonderful as any other breed. On the other hand, a small, nasty, snippy dog can be very dangerous if poorly trained. While in highschool my sister was running through a local neighborhood and got bit in the calf by a small dog that chased her. Not only did the owner give her attitude, but took no responsibility for the dog’s behavior or resulting tetanus shot bill.

Off-Leash Options for Dogs

One option for getting your dog off-leash is a dog park, and they have both pros and cons.


You can let your dog off leash, they have a safe, contained space and provide opportunities to socialize and run off energy.


The downside is that you need to drive your dog there if no park is close by, and the environment is a bit like high school — some of the dogs are just straight up “bitches” that cause problems or they may be sick. So the one place where you could feel good about letting your pet off-leash is not always ideal for your pet.


Voice command training for dogs is one option that has been introduced in Boulder with mild success. The program is called the Voice and Sight Tag program (TAG). According to the City of Boulder website, “the curriculum was designed to help dog guardians better understand the voice and sight control standards, therefore, helping to reduce the conflicts between dogs, visitors and wildlife.”

In a recent article by Erika Napoletano called Taking your Pet Off-Leash in Boulder County, a Guide “The city of Boulder  requires all dog owners who wish to walk their dogs off-leash to go through a video training program. Once you’ve reviewed the video and can affirm that your dogs meet all of the criteria specified, you’re then eligible to apply for a special tag. This is a green tag that certifies your dog can and will be kept within your sight at all times while off-leash and is responsive to voice commands while on the trails.”

Traveling or doing recreational trips within the state can still be an issue as you would need a tag ahead of time, and it’s more expensive for out-of-city residents. In fact, because the leash laws are different in each city, it’s challenging for recreational folks who like to take dogs along on their adventures.

Here’s some additional information on the City of Boulder site that cover basics on how the program works and common FAQ’s.

These details are helpful in explaining the program, but I didn’t find much documentation on the success of the program so far. It appears current laws are relying heavily on fines as punitive damages rather than addressing the human negligence and common sense element of the equation for enforcing leash laws.

And Then There are Cat Leash Laws…

In my opinion, the leash laws for cats in Fort Collins are a bit absurd. If your cat does great on a leash, fantastic, but the whole idea of it just seems so silly. Our two cats never went far from home when I used to let them outdoors, and by the time the law went into effect in the city, they were already too set in their ways to train.


One day a neighbor took photos of our two cats on OUR OWN BACK PORCH, and we still got fined from the city for having a cat off-leash. It was in my conversation with the animal control officer after having to PURCHASE photos of my cat’s transgressions to confirm they were mine (one of them wasn’t), that I realized the leash laws for cats serve those who complain most.

I do realize outdoor cats pose a threat to wildlife, but so don’t many other things. If you are engaging your cat in play, they can exercise their hunting skills in the home, but lack of outdoor time also gives cats no opportunity work off the energy they collect from sitting around all day. I just don’t believe cats were meant to strictly stay inside, but after my run-in with the animal control, I just play by the rules.

Despite personal feelings about leash laws, people, pets and wildlife all have to share the beautiful recreational space in Fort Collins, so it’s important to be respectful pet owner. Learn to connect with your pet, stay present when spending time with them and get basic training skills under your belt to make co-existing in Fort Collins a happier experience for all of us.

For more information on local leash laws for cats and dogs in Fort Collins, check out the Fort Collins city site and Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay & Neuter Clinic.

Now, I want to hear from you. What are you thoughts on leash laws for dogs or cats?

Photo credit for park sign: tdubose, dogs playing: Michael Kappel