Category: Education

Kids Care!

Nantucket Safe Harbor for Animals is proud and lucky to have kids who care for the animals in the shelter. From feeding the rabbits and reading to cats, to helping transport the Mississippi Mutts and raising money for toys and food, kids step up to the plate for animals! Here are some of our favorite pictures showing how much NSHA kids care.


Lily helps socialize Aurora, a new shy kitten, meeting her in a safe spot–her cage!



Ruby cuddles one of the arriving Mississippi Mutts, making her feel right at home on her new island.




Erin and Lizzie collected donations for the shelter pets.



William loves up little Hunter, who was abandoned.


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The Seafari Girls raise money for the shelter pets every year!



Hunter and Taylor sold lemonade, and Taylor asked for donations to the shelter for her birthday!



Molly plays with one of the kittens during her “Read to Me. . . Ow” session.



Jane, Elizabeth and Matthew sold lemonade to raise money for the shelter animals.



Marina plays an elf to help raise funds for the shelter pets at Pet Photos with Santa.



Phoebe offers Antonio a few treats. As you can see, he’s very receptive!

The Rainbow You Don’t Want to See: Rat Poisoning and Your Pet

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I will never forget my panic when I saw Makita poop out a rainbow of blue, green and purple on a walk at Sanford Farm West. Having just retrieved her the night before from a good Samaratin who had found her and had kept her safe for the duration of my 7-hour search for her through the Windswept Bogs, I was just relaxing into the relief that she was alive and well! So when her poop revealed the tell-tale colors of rat poison, I was dismayed. I quickly called my vet-tech friend who confirmed that yes, rat poison is usually blue and green and that I should get Makita to the vet right away.

The emergency vet at Offshore looked at the sample and was as concerned as I was, but was a also little baffled by the purple color. She’d never seen that in rat poison. But to be on the safe side, she prepared the charcoal that was going to be forced down Makita’s throat to absorb any of the poison that might be left in her system. JUST as the syringe was headed to Makita’s mouth, my cell phone rang. The good Samaratin had gotten my panicked message and reported that indeed his son had seen Makita eat some crayons the night before at his house. 
PHEW! It was not rat poison after all, just Makita’s fetish for snacking on inappropriate morsels rearing its head (or should I say tail?).
While Makita and I were lucky that day, others on Nantucket recently have not been. Saturday a friend lost her cat to what the vets at Offshore suspect was rat poison, and two other dogs are currently being treated for it. Offshore doesn’t have exact statistics on how many of these cases they treat each year, but they report it does happen here on Nantucket, and they’ve seen 3 cases in the last few weeks.
It’s hard to imagine that in this day and age people put poison out around their houses to kill what they see as pests. But they do. These poisons are not just potentially deadly to our pets, but to wildlife and humans as well.
Some believe cats should be indoor-only to avoid these kinds of dangers, and dogs should remain on leash so we can stop them from eating strange and sometimes harmful substances. However, here on Nantucket we do let our cats out and our dogs off leash, so given that, let’s all be mindful that these dangers exist and know what to do should your pet have a close encounter with one.
There are different kinds of rat poisoning, with different kinds of ingredients, but symptoms of rat poisoning in a cat or dog can include: 
  • loss of appetite
  • impaired movement
  • paralysis of the animal’s hind limbs
  • slight muscle tremors, 
  • generalized seizures
  • lethargy
  • difficulty breathing
  • pale gums
  • coughing (especially of blood)
  • vomiting (with blood)
  • bloody nose
  • swelling or bumps on the skin (e.g., hematomas)
  • collapse
  • bleeding from the gums
Obviously, if you suspect your pet has ingested rat poisoning and/or has any of the above symptoms, call your vet immediately. Your vet may recommend a home solution of hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting, or may instruct you to bring the pet right in, depending on the situation. 
For those of you without pets, and who use poison to deter rats and mice, please be mindful of where you put it. Know that poison outside of your home may be ingested by pets or by wildlife. Furthermore, hawks and other birds of prey also die when they eat rodents who have eaten the poison. The best option for all concerned is to use humane traps, such as those by Havahart.
Though in the end it is up to the pet’s family to keep him or her safe, if we all work together, we can help prevent these tragic pet deaths.

An Easy Way to Save a Life

spayNantucket Safe Harbor for Animals is one of the luckiest animal shelters around. We never have to make the heart-breaking decision to euthanize a healthy animal. We have the space and foster home resources to care for the animals who come our way until they find new homes.

Other shelters are not so lucky. Cats, dogs, and rabbits end up in shelters every day because their families can no longer care for them, or because they got lost, or were deliberately abandoned. Since there are more pets in shelters than people looking to adopt a pet, the 2.7 million a year who don’t find homes are euthanized.

Luckily, there is a way for you to help ensure these pets get the full life they deserve: have YOUR pets spayed and neutered.

When you spay or neuter your own pet, you ensure that none of your pet’s offspring will end up in a shelter. Even if you think you can find a home for each kitten or puppy, each of those puppies or kittens takes the home of one already waiting in a shelter.

At Nantucket Safe Harbor for Animals we sterilize pets as early as 8 weeks old so they leave the shelter already to go. For your own pet, you can talk to your veterinarian, who will most likely recommend sterilizing a female before her first heat and a male at around 6 months. The reason to have the surgery when the pets are still young is that cats can get pregnant as early as four months old, and dogs as early as six months old, and each can have two to three litters a year. That’s what you call a problem of exponential proportions!

To help solve this problem, call your vet today to have your pet spayed or neutered. It’s the simplest way to save the life of a shelter animal. Each of us can save one . . . but together we can save them all.

If you need financial assistance for this important surgery, just call us: 508-825-2287.

Say it Isn’t So. . . OK, it Isn’t! Myths and Facts about Spaying and Neutering

706975_1382024960.0165I used to think that people didn’t sterilize their pets simply because it’s an additional cost. But I’ve since learned there are many reasons people avoid this important surgery, and most of those reasons are, in fact, myths. Read on:

MYTH: It’s better to let your female pet have one litter before spaying.

FACT: Medical evidence proves the opposite: females spayed before their first heat are healthier. Not only that, spaying before a first heat cuts down on the chance of mammary tumors later in life.

MYTH: Allowing my pet to have a litter lets my children witness the miracle of birth.

FACT: Unfortunately, this “miracle” comes with a big side of heartbreak because almost three million pets are euthanized each year. Instead, teach your children to respect all living creatures by sterilizing yours and helping to minimize pet overpopulation.

MYTH: My male pet will be embarrassed without his “man parts.”

FACT: Your male pet doesn’t know he has “man parts.” It’s more likely a projection of what YOU are feeling. (Ouch). If your dog’s manliness really concerns you, check out neuticles. Not kidding.

MYTH: Sterilized pets get fat and lazy.

FACT: The truth is that pets who get fat and lazy do so because they eat too much and don’t get enough exercise, just like people. If you are truly worried about this, be sure to take dogs for long walks, and have plenty of active play sessions with your cats.

MYTH: I can only have the perfect pet if I let my current perfect pet have babies. I want one just like her.

FACT: No pet will ever be a carbon copy of your current pet. There are shelter pets waiting for homes who are just as cute, smart, sweet, and loving in their own way. Let your next pet be an original!

MYTH: It’s expensive to have my pet spayed or neutered.

FACT: Many low-cost options exist for spay/neuter services. Furthermore, charges mount up for unsterilized animals too: wounds due to fighting, kennel fees due to roaming, pet license fees that are usually at least double for non-sterilized pets.

MYTH: I’ll find good homes for all the puppies and kittens my pet has.

FACT: You may find homes for your pet’s puppies and kittens. But you can only control what decisions you make with your own pet, not the decisions other people make with theirs. Your pet’s puppies and kittens, or their puppies or kittens, may end up in an animal shelter. Further, for every puppy or kitten you hand out to someone, one in a shelter goes without a home and may be euthanized. There simply are not enough homes for them all.

Be sure to read our next post about how spaying and neutering is the KEY to overcoming our pet overpopulation problem.

An Odor-Free Home & A Fatter Wallet: What’s Not to Like?

un-neuteredFebruary is Spay Neuter Month, and let me say it needs it’s own month. There are so many reasons to spay or neuter your pet that it will take three blog posts to fit them all in! The first in our 3-part series about Spaying and Neutering discusses the benefits to you and your pet of this vital surgery.

Most importantly for both you and your pet is the fact that sterilized pets live longer. A USA Today article reports that neutered male dogs live 18% longer than un-neutered male dogs and spayed female dogs live 23% longer than unspayed female dogs. This is due to several factors:

  • Sterilized animals have less incidents of several forms of reproductive cancers: mammary, testicular, uterine, and prostate, for example.
  • Especially for male pets, sterilizing cuts down on roaming. Roaming pets get into fights, get attacked or eaten by predators, get hit by cars, and/or end up at the pound.

You want your pets to live the longest, healthiest life possible, don’t you? Sterilizing them goes a long way towards achieving this.

For you, a sterilized animal, overall, is less expensive:

  • Sterilized animals are less costly to care for because they are less likely to develop certain cancers, which are expensive to treat.
  • They get into fewer fights, fights that can result in wounds needing medical attention.
  • Should a female dog have a litter, the cost of her pre-natal care and pup examinations, vaccinations and wormers is far more than the cost to have had mom spayed in the first place.
  • Sterilized animals are also cheaper to register with your local town—usually about half the cost, but sometimes just a fraction. Here on Nantucket, it’s $5 for a sterilized dog, but $10 for an unsterilized dog.
  • Some pounds charge more to release an unsterilized pet, but might waive the kennel fees altogether if you are willing to have your pet sterilized. That’s how important it is: shelters and humane societies are willing to take on the cost for you!

Annoying behaviors are diminished once an animal is spayed or neutered, especially when sterilized early in life:

  • Excessive barking in dogs
  • Yowling in cats
  • Aggression
  • The aforementioned roaming
  • Urine marking. (Urine-marking is especially problematic, since it’s an odor almost impossible to get rid of once the cat starts spraying.)

Calmer animals, an odor-free, quieter home, and a fatter wallet are just so much more enjoyable, don’t you think?

If you agree that the benefits of sterilizing your pet are mounting up, make an appointment today with your veterinarian to have your pet spayed or neutered. If the cost of the surgery is prohibitive, there are resources that can help:

  • SNIPP–Nantucket Safe Harbor for Animals (application), 508‐825-2287
  • SNAP–MSPCA (application),
  • SPAY WAGGIN’–AnimalRescueLeague (dogs and cats), 877‐590‐7729
  • The STOP Clinic (cats),
  • CATMOBILE–Feline Rescue Society, 978-465‐1940

We never want the cost of the surgery to be a barrier to having it done. In the long run, the costs to you, your pet, and society of avoiding the surgery far outweigh its one-time fee.

Next week: De-bunking popular myths about spaying and neutering.

What it Takes to be a NiSHA Volunteer

Ever wondered what it takes to be a NiSHA Volunteer? Read on. . . and see if you’ve got what it takes.

Brains . . .


and braun.

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A soft lap . . .

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and a steady shoulder.


The right hat for the job . . .


and the appropriate facial expression.


A talent for juggling . . .


and a knack for crafts.

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Impeccable hygiene . . .

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and restaurant experience.


Friends in high places . . .


and the ability to laugh at yourself.


What it takes is a community of individuals who care . . .


If you think YOU have what it takes, join us.