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Recent Blog Entries

DIY Cat Shelter: Protect community cats this winter

With a few inexpensive materials and just a little bit of time, you can make a difference in the lives of community cats.

From, "Roughneck Homes" provide a safe and secure living environment for stray cats where they can be protected against harsh environmental elements and predatorial dangers.

• Depending on the climate, shelter may actually be more important for survival than food.

• A dry, wind-proof shelter can do a large part in fending off frostbite in the ears and paws from elements such as freezing winds, snow and rain.

• While feral cats typically build a thick protective coat for winter, the effectiveness of their fur as insulation is greatly reduced as it becomes wet or frozen and can often times result in hypothermia.

Click here to download instructions to build a "Roughneck Home."

Often cats will resist entering a shelter with only one exit as it puts them in a vulnerable position to predatory dangers. You may need to cut additional holes on the opposite side to incentivize colony cats to use your Roughneck Home.

As the cats grow accustomed to their new shelter, it may be desirable to add additional protection from wind or other elements by placing a door flap made of heavy plastic or vinyl to each entrance of your Roughneck Home.

Find more DIY cat shelter instructions at

Posted: 10/14/2016

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Strack & Van Til Pet Project Raises $22K and Supplies for Local Animal Organizations

During one weekend in August, Strack & Van Til store locations went to the dogs (and cats, bunnies, and wildlife). Donations made at 23 of the company's store locations, including Ultra Foods and Town & Country stores, throughout the Chicagoland region benefited local animal organizations August 19 through 21.

Overall, $22,238 and more than $20,000 in merchandise was donated across all locations for animal non-profits. Each store displayed pre-filled bags containing much-needed supplies for the animal organizations that customers could purchase and donate to the designated non-profit for that location.

Representatives from each benefiting organization were on site at most locations to collect the donations and share information about their services. Some groups brought adoptable animals and 38 pets were able to find homes during the weekend.

Participating animal groups included ABRA, Alsip to the Rescue, American Greyhound, CPR Fund K9 Rescue, Dogahowlicks Rescue, Happy Tails Rescue, Humane Society Calumet Area, I Wanna Go Home Rescue, Lakeshore PAWS, Moraine Ridge Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Naperville Area Humane Society, Open Arms Rescue, River Valley Animal Rescue, South Suburban Humane Society, Treasured Friends Rescue and Will County Humane Society.

Posted: 10/3/2016

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Humane Society Launches Alumni Association for Adopted Pets

Did you adopt a pet from Humane Society Calumet Area (HSCA)? In honor of the organization’s 75th anniversary, adopters are invited to register their pet as a member of the animal shelter’s new alumni association!

Modeled after university alumni associations, HSCA’s Alumni Association will keep members up-to-date on the latest news from their alma mater and members will receive specially branded keepsakes. This year’s membership premium will be a bandana and adopters will have the option to purchase a t-shirt as well.

"We have many adopters who send in stories about how their adopted pet has made such a difference in their lives," HSCA Chief Development Officer Stephanie Anderson said, "and we thought that an alumni association would be a great way to bring together the thousands of pets and adopters whose lives have been positively impacted through the organization."

Membership fees begin at $25 and all members receive a membership card, a subscription to HSCA's "Speak!" magazine, access to a private alumni Facebook group, a discount coupon on the pet's birthday and more.

Funds raised from the alumni association will help provide food, shelter, and medical care for the animals of HSCA. Many of the animals who find shelter at HSCA have had no prior medical care and need extensive treatment before they can find forever homes.

For more information, visit or contact Stephanie Anderson at (219) 513-8911 or

Posted: 8/8/2016

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Fourth of July Pet Safety Tips

The Fourth of July is a time for celebration with fireworks, picnics, barbecues, parades and other festivities for the entire family to enjoy. While it may seem like a good idea to include your pet in all of the fun, some of these activities can be hazardous without proper supervision, preparation and knowledge.

Certain foods, drinks and other common substances can be poisonous to pets and fireworks, loud parties or crowded public events may upset your pet. Director of Humane Society Calumet Area's Adoption and Intake Centers, Jessica Petalas, recommends providing your pet with a safe place to hide in your home.

"Fourth of July celebrations can be overwhelming or even scary for your pet," Petalas said. "Put a blanket over your pet's crate. This will provide a non-threatening space in your home for your pet to hide if he or she becomes spooked by the sound of fireworks or wants to retreat from a noisy party."

If loud noises cause your pet anxiety, Petalas recommends visiting your veterinarian before the holiday to discuss stress management techniques—such as medication—to ease your pet's anxiety during the celebrations.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) offers the following tips to keep your pet safe this holiday:

• Never give your pet alcoholic drinks or leave your glass unattended where your pet can reach. Alcoholic beverages can be poisonous to pets and can cause weakness, severe depression, coma or even death from respiratory failure.
• Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.
• Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which can damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin and, if ingested, can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.
• Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pet severe indigestion and diarrhea. Keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.
• Do not put glow jewelry on your pets or allow them to play with it. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling, gastrointestinal irritation and intestinal blockage could still result from ingestion.
• Keep citronella candles, insect coils and tiki torch oil products out of reach. Ingestion can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets. • Never use fireworks around pets. While exposure to lit fireworks can result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances.
• Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, who can become frightened or disoriented by the sound. Please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities and opt instead to keep them safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.
• Be prepared in the event that your pet does escape. Keep your pets' IDs up to date. It's a good idea for all your animal companions—even indoor-only pets—to always wear a collar with an ID tag that includes your name, current phone number and any relevant contact information. You also can download the ASPCA Mobile App, which includes a personalized missing pet recovery kit with step-by-step instructions on how to search for a lost animal in a variety of circumstances.

If a pet has ingested any potentially poisonous substance, owners should contact their veterinarian or APCC at (888) 426-4435 immediately. APCC is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A call to APCC is toll-free, but a $65 consultation fee may apply.

To learn more about potential household poisons, visit and to learn more about HSCA, visit

Source: ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center,

Posted: 6/28/2016

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Tips to Help Secure Your Pet's Safety in an Emergency

As pet owners, we all understand the importance of providing our pets with the proper nutrition, exercise, and care in order to ensure their health and happiness. Often overlooked, however, is the significance of planning for your pet’s safety and care in the event of an emergency. Here in the Calumet region, we know the threats and dangers associated with storms and flooding; and although many families are prepared for these storms and may have detailed and practiced plans in place if a disaster were to strike, these plans frequently do not include specific instructions for making sure the family pet is looked after.

In light of National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day on May 14, and the start of the summer storm season and wildfires, we at Humane Society Calumet Area in partnership with Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s Food, Shelter & Love® program want to make sure that families think to include their pets and are well-versed in the easy steps that can help keep pets safe in an emergency.

Pet parents should follow seven quick steps to confirm your pet’s safety during an emergency:
  • Ensure your pet can be identified by either a microchip or collar ID tag and that contact information is up-to-date.
  • Prepare a “Pet Emergency Go-Kit” of pet supplies that is readily accessible in an emergency.
  • Display a pet rescue decal on your front door or window to let first responders know there is a pet in the house. Include your veterinarian’s contact information.
  • Learn where your pet likes to hide in your house when frightened. Finding your pet quickly will help you evacuate faster.
  • Identify a location to take your pet if you need to leave your immediate area. Keep in mind that disaster shelters for people may not be open to pets. Scout hotels and motels with pet-friendly policies and ask relatives or friends if they could house you and your pet.
  • Carry a picture of your pet in the event of separation.
  • If you need to evacuate, consider taking a pet carrier or crate for transport and safe-keeping.
In the last three years, the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network delivered free food to more than 60 different shelters and veterinary clinics across the country in response to 25 major incidents—including floods in Colorado, fires in Idaho and Arizona, the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, the mudslide in Washington state and tornadoes in the central and southern regions of the country.

"You never know when a disaster might strike so taking the time now to put an emergency plan in place, and have a bag packed and ready to go, can cut down on the stress often associated with an emergency," said Dr. Ellen Lowery, Director of U.S. Veterinary and Professional Affairs at Hill’s. "The more prepared you are, the faster you can move the whole family, including your pets, to safety."

Families looking to learn more about disaster preparedness and safety, as well as the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network, can visit

Posted: 5/13/2016

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Hairball Awareness Day

Cats are meticulous groomers, often washing themselves several times a day. As they lick, they naturally swallow a bit of their own hair. When enough of this ingested hair collects in a cat’s digestive tract, it forms a hairball. Most hairballs are harmlessly coughed up or passed through your cat.

Cats with long hair and those that shed heavily or groom excessively are especially prone to developing hairballs.

In honor of National Hairball Awareness Day, held the last Friday of April each year, here are some tips on how to reduce hairballs in your home.

What can you do?
Though you may not eliminate hairballs completely, you can help minimize their occurrence:
• Brush your cat regularly and thoroughly to remove loose hair and mats. Long-haired felines should be brushed every day and those with short hair, once a week.
• Give your cat a daily food specially-formulated for hairball control.
• Hairball remedies or lubricants, which help hair pass through the intestinal tract, can be found at your local pet supply store.
• Enthusiastic groomers can often be distracted from their favorite task with a new toy or game to play.

Signs of a problem:
• Presence of hairballs—expelled from your cat’s mouth or
present in the litter box
• Frequent hackling, coughing and gagging
• Constipation or loose stools

Many times the situation will work itself out, but a veterinarian should be consulted if symptoms continue for more than 24 hours. It is rare, but sometimes hairballs can get lodged in the esophagus or cause intestinal blockages that may require surgery.

sources: Hill’s Pet Nutrition and ASPCA

Posted: 4/29/2016

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Pet First Aid Tips

Pets are an important part of many families, and Pet First Aid Awareness Month, recognized in April, is the perfect time to ensure you have the skills to take care of your furry family member.

Common emergency tips:
• To determine if your cat or dog is dehydrated, pull up on the skin between the shoulder blades. It should spring right back; if it stays tented, this is a sign of dehydration.

• Signs of pet poisoning include bleeding externally or internally, dilated pupils, drooling or foaming at the mouth, seizures, or other abnormal mental state or behavior.

• If your pet has a seizure, make sure it is in a safe place, but do not restrain the animal. Keep your hands away from its mouth as your pet may not know who you are during a seizure and could bite you.

• Signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion include: collapse; body temperature of 104 degrees F or above; bloody diarrhea or vomiting; wobbliness; excessive panting or difficulty breathing; increased heart rate; mucous membranes very red; and increased salivation. Dogs with shortened snouts—such as pgus, boxers, etc.—are at a greater risk for heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

• Pets bitten by other animals need vet attention to prevent the wound (even if minor) from becoming infected and to check for internal wounds. Never break up a dogfight yourself because you could be bitten.

• If your pet is bleeding, apply direct pressure using gauze over the bleeding site. If blood soaks through, apply more gauze (do not removed soaked gauze) until you can reach a veterinary hospital.

source: American Red Cross

Posted: 4/13/2016

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Help Prevent Animal Cruelty

April is Animal Cruelty Prevention month. You can help stop neglect by educating people you know about proper pet care and prevent cruelty by advocating for stronger anti-cruelty laws that empower effective enforcement and include harsh penalties combined with counseling to prevent repeat offenders.

Here are a few ways you can make a difference:
Schedule a speaker from your local humane agency to talk at your church or any clubs you belong to, as well as your child’s scout group, day-care center, and school.
• Distribute pet care and behavior pamphlets from your humane agency to your coworkers or friends with new pets.
• Put together packets of treats and a pet-care book or video to give to friends who’ve just gotten a new pet. Include spay/neuter information, tags, and a vaccination record book.
• Obedience lessons make a great gift for a new puppy.
• Support initiatives to strengthen your state’s anti-cruelty laws.
• Write to your paper and TV station whenever animal cruelty stories appear. Tell them you support strong penalties for these abusers.
• Contribute to or volunteer at your local shelter, where you can make a difference in the lives of animals that may have been neglected or abused.


Posted: 4/11/2016

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Keeping Pets Safe: Poison Prevention Week Tips

In honor of National Animal Poison Prevention Week March 20-26, Humane Society Calumet Area (HSCA) urges pet owners to educate themselves about the most common household toxins ingested by pets.

“It’s crucial that pet owners learn about what items in their homes could be dangerous to their pets,” said Dr. Holly Anderson, veterinarian at HSCA’s Estelle Marcus Animal Clinic. “Many owners don’t know that common things like grapes, chocolate and Easter lilies can be toxic to pets.”

For the first time ever, over-the-counter medications and supplements surpassed prescription medications to take the top spot on ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC)’s lists of toxins most commonly ingested by pets, as reported to APCC:

  1. Over-the-counter medications. These medications, including herbal and other natural supplements, attracted the most concern this year for the first time in the APCC’s history, with more than 28,500 cases reported.
  2. Human prescription medications. Prescribed human medications fell to the second spot on the list, representing nearly 16% of all cases. The types of medication to which animals were most often exposed correlate with the most popular medications prescribed to humans.
  3. Insecticides. Insect poisons accounted for nearly 9% of the calls to APCC (more than 15,000 cases). If label directions are not followed, these products can be very dangerous to pets.
  4. Human foods. Pets—especially dogs, who ingest human foods more often than cats—can get into serious trouble by ingesting onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, alcohol and xylitol. More than 14,600 APCC cases in 2015 involved human foods.
  5. Household items. Products found around the home made up more than 14,000 cases in 2015. The most common items for this category include cleaning products, fire logs and paint.
  6. Veterinary medications. Overdoses of medications prescribed by veterinarians represented more than 7% of total cases in 2015. Chewable medications are very appealing to pets, requiring extra caution.
  7. Chocolate. Chocolate continues to be very problematic for pets, accounting for more than 7% of all APCC cases in 2015—averaging more than 30 cases a day. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it can be.
  8. Plants. Indoor and outdoor plants represented nearly 5% of calls to APCC in 2015. Most of these calls involve cats and houseplants. Be sure to understand the toxicity of plants before putting them in or around your house.
  9. Rodenticides. Rodent poisons can be just as toxic to pets as they are to the mice and rats these products are designed to kill. Last year, APCC handled more than 8,100 cases involving rodenticides.
  10. Lawn and garden products. These products, including herbicides and fungicides, round out the top ten, accounting for 3% of all APCC calls. It’s incredibly important to store lawn and garden products out of the reach of pets.

“It’s important to store any item that could be dangerous safely away from pets,” Dr. Anderson explained.

If a pet has ingested any of the items on APCC’s list or any other potentially poisonous substance, owners should contact their veterinarian or APCC at (888) 426-4435 immediately. APCC is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A call to APCC is toll-free, but a $65 consultation fee may apply.

To learn more about potential household poisons, visit and to learn more about HSCA, visit

Source: ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center,

Posted: 3/22/2016

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The Unheard Voices in Our Community: What YOU Can Do About It

When you see a stray cat in your community, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Do you immediately want to feed him and take him inside? Maybe you want to catch him and bring him to the shelter? Or perhaps you ignore him and go on your way? The reality is that stray cats, now termed “community cats”, have become an epidemic not only in Northwest Indiana, but nationwide, and there is no easy solution. “Community cat” is an umbrella definition that includes any un-owned cat. The majority of shelters admit many more cats than can be placed into adoptive homes. This generally results in overcrowding and the ultimately death of millions of cats. Since the Humane Society Calumet Area does not euthanize for space, the cages fill up quickly. When the shelter is full, many cats will have to wait for admission until space is created by adoptions or transfer to another facility. By maintaining a responsible number of cats at the shelter, the animals are healthier, the staff is better able to serve the animals and the public and medical costs have been reduced. Therefore, adoption of cats increased in 2012. Many community cats are feral. Feral cats are a descendant of a domestic cat that has returned to the wild. Typically, they are not socialized and have adapted to living in the community. These cats have found a source of food and shelter just as other wild animals have. Because we are used to domesticated cats, it is instinctual to want to protect them or bring them inside. Feral cats become extremely stressed in the shelter environment and we almost always see a decline of health because of this. All of the feral cats that enter HSCA via animal control are re-homed to local barns after being spayed or neutered. However, there are simply not enough barns to accommodate the growing number of cats in the community. So what is the solution? The capacities of most shelter programs are insufficient to decrease the number of outdoor cats in the community. No single organization, municipality or group can solve this overpopulation epidemic. We need to collaborate to change the perception of community cats and start a Trap Neuter Release (TNR) Program immediately. TNR is the ideal solution for un-owned, free-roaming cats in Northwest Indiana. Only then will we be able to end the suffering and needless euthanasia of cats in our area. Urge your municipality to partner with the Humane Society Calumet Area so that feral and community cats will not be trapped and euthanized. Instead, all feral cats should be sterilized, microchipped, ear tipped and returned to the community. Humane Society Calumet Area, along with the Estelle Marcus Animal Clinic, is currently negotiating with one local municipality to become the very first “feral-friendly” TNR community. Who will it be? Is it your town? More information will be available in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you have any questions about feral cats or TNR in your community, please feel free to contact me at 219-922-3811 extension 307. “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him…We need not wait to see what others do.” - Gandhi

Posted: 4/1/2013

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