shelter Archives - Hot Diggity! Pet Sitting

Whether you’re a pet owner, one of our amazing pet sitters, or someone who just loves being around animals, volunteering your time to help pet rescue and aid organizations is a great way to make a positive impact in your community while helping animals in need. Here at Hot Diggity! we have many favorite PDX metro area pet non-profits. They do a lot of hard work caring for pets in-need and offer a helping hand in various forms. We’ve put together this list in hopes you find an opportunity that will fit you perfectly!

  • Do you like walking dogs and showing them love? Organizations such as the Pixie Project are often looking for dog walkers to help their pups get in all their exercise and socialization time. If you enjoy being up early and have free time in your mornings you might also be perfectly suited to volunteering as a kennel helper. Kennel volunteers help give dogs potty breaks in addition to helping make treats and keeping the dogs’ temporary homes clean. Family Dogs New Life Shelter, Animal Aid, and the Oregon Humane Society have a need for these volunteers. Your local county shelter such as the Bonnie L. Hays Animal Shelter in Washington County or Multnomah County Animal Services likely also offer similar opportunities.
  • A cat sits happily on a couch, probably thinking about the Hot Diggity! cat sitter they love so muchDo you love spending time with cats? Cats also need quality socialization time and help keeping their temporary homes clean–duties can include grooming or help with feeding. Cats have a difficult time transitioning from shelter life to a new home, and may have spent a large portion of their lives without much human affection. Volunteering your time to socialize them and show them love can greatly increase their chances of ha
  • ving an easier adjustment to their new home. The Pixie Project offers cat socialization volunteer opportunities as do Animal Aid*, the Oregon Humane Society, MultiCo Pets, and the Bonnie L. Hays Animal Shelter.
    • *If you love animals but have a difficult time seeing them in kennels and cages even at a shelter, Animal Aid might provide the best alternative to that model for you. Almost all of their cats at their shelter are homed in a group setting with lots of comfy chairs and cat palaces where they like to nap and play freely. It’s a very comfortable place for the cats and has a much more relaxed atmosphere than most shelters are able to offer.
  • Do you have a heart of gold and a home in need of a pet? If you have extra room in your home (and a safe backyard with a fence, even better!), almost every organization is in need of foster homes for pets. This is the best way for organizations and volunteers to really get to know the pets that come to them in need of new homes and acclimate them to home life before finding their furever homes. Many animals rescued by these organizations come from states without great resources and have lived for years in either abusive situations or shelter kennels. Through fostering, these pets can relax, learn what it’s like to have a lap all to themselves, and adjust to a home life more easily, lessening the risk of being returned to the rescue organization. There are foster opportunities available from Deaf Dogs of Oregon, the Pixie ProjectFamily Dogs New Life Shelter, Animal Aid, One Tail at a Time, Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals, the Oregon Humane Society, as well as at the Bonnie L. Hays Animal Shelter, MultiCo Pets Shelter, and many more.
  • Do you have a car? Consider volunteering to provide pet transportation! That’s what we do! Since 2017, Hot Diggity! has partnered with The PAW Team to provide them with our Pet Taxi services when they’re unable to find volunteers. We help transport pets from low-income families who don’t have transportation on their own to get them to clinics for surgeries and then back home again. You can do it too! The PAW Team is an excellent place to volunteer this service to, or other organizations often need help transporting animals to and from adoption events or to pick up donations. Besides the PAW Team, there are transportation volunteer opportunities through the Pixie Project, Project POOCH, and One Tail at a Time.
  • A cute pug stares at the camera, probably enjoying the day with its Portland dog walkerAre you good at photography? The first impression potential adopters have of their soon-to-be new pet is usually a picture of them. Good pictures of pets greatly increase the chances that they’ll find a home, so shelters and rescue organizations are often looking for photographers to help make their in need pets give the best first impression possible! Even non-rescue organizations such as the PAW Team are in need of photography volunteers who can help share the stories of their clients in the best possible light too. Other organizations looking for photography volunteers include Animal Aid, and it’s likely that other organizations that don’t advertise such a position specifically would also appreciate the offer of a photoshoot.
  • Do you love social media or are you into marketing? This is also an in-need skill set at many pet rescue organizations. Social media and other forms of marketing are key to getting the message out about donation drives, available pets, or fundraising events. This is also a great way to volunteer for someone who loves pets, but might actually be allergic to them. Project POOCH, Animal Aid, and One Tail at a Time are some of the organizations that would appreciate the help in spreading the word about their causes.
  • Do you have veterinary credentials? The PAW Team is always looking for more people to help out at their clinics where they provide veterinary care for low income families with pets.
  • There are many more opportunities! Organizations such as the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon, the PAW Team, Project POOCH, Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals, Animal Aid, Born Again Pit Bull Rescue, One Tail at a Time, and the Oregon Humane Society as well as your local shelters all have volunteer opportunities for people who want to help out at major events or help with other work such as animal intake, client intake, other office work, interviewing/storytelling, distributing supplies, building and landscape maintenance, animal training, grooming, and so much more! Really, there is something for everyone.

A kitten and a puppy snuggle together, definitely in love with their Hot Diggity! pet sitterBefore you do volunteer however, there are some important considerations you should think about before submitting your application or ask about opportunities available.

  • For many of these positions, some training is required. This takes time and money on the part of the shelter organization, so you should be prepared to make at least a 3 month or longer commitment. Be sure to read an organization’s volunteering requirements carefully.
  • There are different age requirements at different organizations. Some organizations require that volunteers be at least 16 years old, while others allow younger volunteers with adult supervision, and some organizations require that volunteers be at least 21 years old. Check with the organization for their specific requirements.
  • Remember that sometimes you might be around ill animals with communicable diseases. You should carefully wash your hands when you go to a shelter, and wash when leaving, especially if you have pets at home. That might not be quite enough though, so make sure your pets are vaccinated against diseases and pests that you might accidentally take home with you.
  • A cat lays it's paw on a human hand, probably their favorite cat sitter from Hot Diggity!Make sure to keep up your self-care. Volunteering with animal rescue organizations can be very rewarding work, but it can also be exhausting work, both physically and emotionally. Keep hydrated, listen to your emotions and body, don’t overextend yourself, and keep in touch with your support network. This is just good practice for life even if you’re not volunteering, but it can also be important to avoid burnout.

And especially remember to always have fun!

Many of these opportunities can also provide you with professional experience, professional references for young job hunters, emotional comfort for someone who can’t have pets themselves, an opportunity to socialize with other human pet lovers, new friends, as well as good ole’ fresh air and exercise. But spending time with animals is always a great reward in itself, and seeing shy shelter pets become loving and happy pets with loving homes is one of the greatest rewards in the world.

In the Pacific Northwest there are many natural diseases hiding under rocks, in fields, or in puddles, waiting to get past our pets’ immune systems. However there’s one disease that we’re very fortunate to rarely ever encounter: Valley Fever. This special disease, caused by a fungus known as Coccidiodes immitis, is found in desert regions such as the American Southwest region including California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and more. While dogs and other pets living in the Pacific Northwest might not encounter the fungi here, many dogs are moved from high kill shelters in the Southwest to loving homes in the PNW, and sometimes those dogs have Valley Fever.

One such dog is a young Mr. Johnny Cash. Cash is a very sweet little white shadow of an Aussie who loves to be next to his person and is available for adoption from Deaf Dogs of Oregon at the time of writing this blog post. Cash was rescued from a high-kill shelter in the Southwest and discovered to have Valley Fever. To understand what that means for dogs like Cash, read on!

What is Valley Fever?

As mentioned before, this disease is caused by the fungus known as Coccidiodes immitis. This pathogenic fungus can and does most commonly infect humans, but it also can infect a wide range of other animals including cats and dogs. Dogs are especially susceptible because they like to sniff and dig in the soil which is where C. immitis grows. During the dry season, C. immitis exits in a dormant mode in the soil and is not infectious, but after a wet-spell the fungus grows long filaments of mold with infectious spores on the ends. When these spores are inhaled into living organisms they create yeast-like infections in the lungs.

Is Valley Fever contagious?

No. Valley Fever cannot spread from organism to organism. While in yeast-like form (when it has infected a living organism) it does not create the spores which are the only infectious part of C. immitis.

What does Valley Fever look like?

In healthy dogs and cats, their immune system usually isolates the fungus and prevents them from causing symptoms of the disease. Many infected animals don’t show any signs at all. However in dogs with weakened immune systems, including very young puppies and older dogs, these infections will grow too large for the immune systems to handle and can cause visible symptoms of the disease and infect other organs.

Valley Fever is classified into two diseases, the Primary Disease and the Disseminated Disease:

  • In the Primary Disease, the infection is limited to the lungs. About three weeks after infection symptoms such as a dry cough, fever, lack of appetite, and lethargy become apparent.
  • In the Disseminated Disease, the infection spreads beyond the lungs and infects other organs including the brain, bones, heart, and eyes. Often it affects the bones and the symptoms will then progress to looking something like arthritis. Dogs suffering will show signs of lameness or limb swelling. Other symptoms of the Disseminated version of Valley Fever may include wounds that don’t heal*, swollen lymph nodes, back or neck pain, seizures, inflamed and/or cloudy eyes, abscesses under the skin, and even unexpected heart-failure. Sometimes a dog may show no symptoms of the Primary Disease before showing symptoms of the Disseminated Disease.

Cash’s Valley Fever has infected his bones, but as he’s on regular antifungal medication the disease is not progressing further and is healing up. This does cause him to act like he has arthritis and be limited in movement, but this will go away when his infection does.

*Special note that if the dog does have open wounds that are oozing liquid, while the number of organisms shed in the liquid should be low (when receiving antifungal medication), this liquid may still contain fungus that could spore again and become infectious to humans and other creatures in the household. Therefore bandages should be changed daily and thrown away directly into outside waste containers to prevent sporing from happening in the house. Non-permeable surfaces can be cleaned with a diluted (10%) bleach solution. For most people and animals with healthy immune systems, there should be little to no risk even if a dog has an infected open wound, and the liquid oozing itself is not infectious since it does not contain spores. However households that have immuno-compromised members should consult with a doctor or a vet and follow their instructions on how to maintain a spore free home. (And once again, Cash does not have this problem and is NOT contagious.)

How is Valley Fever diagnosed?

In the Pacific Northwest, where Valley Fever is not native, you’ll need to let your veterinarian know the travel history of your new dog. If they then suspect that their symptoms come from Valley Fever, there are a few different blood tests that can be used to diagnose Valley Fever, along with x-rays of the chest or bones.

How is Valley Fever treated?

If your dog is sick enough to be seen by a veterinarian for Valley Fever, then the disease will likely need to be treated by extensive antifungal medications with courses usually lasting between 6 and 12 months. If the disease has progressed into the disseminated stage, then the treatment may be longer. The medication is easy to administer, it’s usually just provided orally in the form of pills or capsules twice a day.

For dogs with bone or joint pain or coughing, other medications may be prescribed as well to relieve the suffering from these symptoms.

If you have a dog with Valley Fever, you can still go on vacation no problem! Hot Diggity! Sitters know how to administer pet medications and will stick to your medication schedule to ensure your pet’s health while you’re away.

And to help out the new furever family of Cash, Deaf Dogs of Oregon is paying for a full year’s worth of medication (starting from when he moved up to Oregon, so about another 10 months left now)! So his new family won’t even have to worry about figuring out what medication to put him on or paying for it for several months and hopefully the majority of his treatment.

What is the prognosis for a Valley Fever infection?

With early detection and intervention, most dogs recover from Valley Fever. Even with the Disseminated Disease version of Valley Fever, more than 90% of dogs respond well to treatment and recover. Only a very small portion of dogs either need lifetime treatment or will die from the disease.

In short.

Valley Fever is a highly treatable disease that is common in dogs rescued from Southwest shelters. Left undiagnosed and untreated, it can become severe and dangerous to the dog, but when treated there is a high success rate of clearing up the infection. It is not contagious to humans or other animals, just painful and unpleasant for the infected pet. With love and care, as all pets need anyways, almost all dogs recover from this disease to live the rest of their lives happily and healthily.

So you can expect a lot of happy years with the lovely and sweet Mr. Johnny Cash if you adopt him!

And as an added help, Hot Diggity! will provide any family that adopts Cash 3 Free 30-Minute Walks to help transition him to his new home as well as a lifetime 10% discount on all of our services for all pets in the family.

To learn more about Cash, you can read about him here or just contact Deaf Dogs of Oregon and meet him yourself!

Oh, and are you worried about adopting a deaf dog? Don’t! Does your hearing dog really listen to you anyways? Just kidding. 😉 But really, deaf dogs are just like normal dogs and especially since most of them are Australian Shepherds, extremely intelligent and highly trainable. Plus when you adopt through Deaf Dogs of Oregon they’ll have already undergone some training from being in foster care and you get a free training session with a specialized trainer too.

Additional Reading:

Portland Dog Walker and Pet Sitter WhitneyHello everyone! My name is Whitney, and I have been a walker with Hot Diggity! for a year and a half now. This job is so special and rewarding, I love all the different animals I get to encounter through dog walking and pet sitting here. But one thing I’ve noticed over my time here is that many Portland pet owners seem to prefer buying purebred pets instead of rescuing the mixed breed dogs more commonly found in shelters. Sometimes rescued dogs may be a little harder to win over, but it’s so gratifying when you finally make that breakthrough! I may be a bit biased when it comes to rescues since I come from a household of four shelter dogs, each with their own set of quirks and personal issues, but finally gaining their trust really is the most rewarding and special part about rescued pets.

When you walk into a shelter, you may think you have an idea of what you are looking for, but choosing a rescue it isn’t about what you see, it’s how you feel when you interact with them. It’s an instant connection or an overwhelming feeling that makes you say “this is the one!” You may not always find that special one your first couple of shelter visits, but it is absolutely worth the wait.

Here are three fantastic local Portland shelters that I’d recommend checking out to find your next best friend:

Family Dogs New Life ShelterFind your new best friend to take on walks in Portland at Family Dogs New Life Shelter

With a 4 Star Yelp rating this shelter is a non profit no-kill, that focuses on giving dogs of all breeds and ages a second chance at finding the right match. They typically only take 35-50 dogs at a time, so that all the dogs can interact and run around together, but are put in their own crates at night. This gives them a perfect balance for being well socialized, but always gets the dogs in good sleeping habits. I love that like myself they have a soft spot for Pit Bulls which are a very loving and misunderstood breed. They’ve even created a section on their website called “Piteos”, which features adorable Pit Bull video’s! The website also contains information on ways to help out such as volunteering or fostering information, upcoming special events to help support the shelter, or how you can even sponsor a dog. All the little things Family Dogs New Life Shelter does to help their rescues just make my heart melt!

Find your new cat or dog best friend at the Pixie ProjectThe Pixie Project
While Family Dogs New Life Shelter may be a dogs only club, The Pixie Project not only has dogs, but cats as well if that is what you are looking for. With a Yelp 4 Star rating this shelter also has a lower count of animals in house at a time so that they can focus on giving them more attention and matching them with the right fur-ever home. The Pixie Project often pulls a lot of its rescues from overcrowded shelters or takes in owner surrenders. Another stand out about this Shelter is its low cost Veterinary Clinic to senior, veterans, disabled, homeless or low-income pet owners, with free spay and neutering. Like Family Dogs New Life Shelter, The Pixie Project has volunteer and fostering information, and holds special events to help animals in need. Make sure to pay attention to our Events page! We often donate gift certificates to their fundraisers and will let you know when events for them are coming up.

Oregon Humane SocietyTake a new best friend home today from the Oregon Humane Society and enjoy all the perks of being a pet owner in Portland
The Oregon Humane Society is perhaps the largest and most well-known shelter in the greater Portland area. They have a 4 Star Yelp rating and a huge variety of pets to select from. At OHS not only can you adopt cats and dogs, but you can also adopt rabbits, rats, birds, and even horses and farm animals! This shelter offers low-to no cost spay and neutering services, volunteering opportunities, as well as Emergency Animal Rescue for mistreated pets, or animals who are in danger or distraught. No doubt that OHS has done so much good for Portland pets over the decades. I know I have personally donated a good amount of money to supporting their cause!

I hope after reading this you feel inspired to go adopt instead of shop. Maybe even consider taking in a sweet elderly dog and give it the best final years of its life. Or take a risk on the dog who perhaps doesn’t mesh well with other dogs, but loves people. Or you could take home the funny looking kitty, because it wasn’t pretty enough to be sold at a pet store. If you do not feel ready to commit to a pet for the next several years of its life, perhaps shorter term fostering is the best path for you. Shelters also are always in need of volunteers to give these lonesome furbabes some loving attention.

And if you still have breed preferences, there’s always breed specific rescue organizations where you can combine your love for a particular breed with helping an in-need pet. Just check out our Community Partners page for more shelters and rescue organizations that Hot Diggity! loves and supports.

Be a pet’s hero and save a life. Let’s make the world a better place!

Whitney, a great Portland dog walker and pet sitter, took this cute picture of two of her sweet rescue dogs