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Animal shelter open house Saturday
Ripon featuring tours, McGruff the Crime Dog
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A young Chihuahua pup reacts with a surprise smack on the cheek for animal control Officer Alexandra Queen. - photo by GLENN KAHL

It’s an open house for animals and kids Saturday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Ripon Animal Control Center in the 400 block of Doak Boulevard.

Animal services officer Alexandra Queen said staff members and volunteers will be giving tours and serving hot dog meals including water and chips for $2 each.  The proceeds will go toward improvements at the center, she noted.

McGruff  the Crime Dog will be in attendance.

A litter box-trained rabbit, two guinea pigs along with dogs, cats and puppies are available to be adopted out to visiting families with a few exceptions of animals that are either too young or being kept on hold awaiting responses from owners.

Queen told of a kitten that was picked up at the Taco Bell restaurant and put with a mother who was nursing her litter.  She said the mother cat mentored that older kitten and showed her how to be a big sister – eventually seeing her take the part of a mother cat overseeing three of the six newborns.

There was also a story about the female giving birth to those kittens in a garage and then being separated in a cat trap in the garage of a residential home in Ripon.  Queen said the resident found the mother as well as the kittens at her home on California Avenue. She scooped up the kittens and called animal control.

The animal control officer said the newborns likely would have died if the woman had not checked on the trap – adding the woman was very diligent.   All the animals were taken to the pound where the mom took on her nursing duties.  The black and white kittens have distinctive black moustaches just below and to the sides of their noses.

“She just taught her how to be a good babysitter.  That kitten was just a little older than the litter.  Within two days she stretched out like the mom with the equal number of brothers and sisters,” she said.

The kittens have to weigh at least two pounds and be weaned from the mother before they can be given to a new home, she said. 

Queen quoted a 1970 study that showed 115 dogs and cats were being euthanized per 1,000 populations prior to the public relations effort to have pets neutered and spayed.  Due to the spay and neuter program those numbers have dropped to 9.6 animals now being euthanized per 1,000 populations – a big difference in saving animals’ lives, she said.

The animal control officers took part in a Monterey County SPCA “cutting edge” seminar this past week that dealt with the emotional impact on animals and their owners as well as staffers when they have to be put in cages and sometimes destroyed.

She said the Monterey facility has mostly done away with wire cages and bars, replacing them with glass fronts and outdoor areas with cosmetic fencing that looks more like a park. The sessions also dealt with compassion and stress management.

Donations from members of the public are being encouraged to help improve the quality of life for the Ripon animals being held in the city’s cages.