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July in animal news: Five questions with Found Animals executive director Aimee Gilbreath

August 2, 2010 |  7:36 pm

We're asking experts in the animal-protection community to offer their insights on the latest animal news and fill us in on what their organizations are working on. Here, Aimee Gilbreath of the L.A.-based Found Animals Foundation Inc., which works to minimize animal shelter euthanasia rates, gives us her take. Gilbreath's responses represent her own views and not necessarily ours.

AimeeGilbreath Unleashed: What do you view as the most important development in animal news to happen in July?

Aimee Gilbreath: The best news for pets and families in the Los Angeles area is the launch of a new high-quality, low-cost spay/neuter facility at the East Valley shelter in Van Nuys. Getting a pet sterilized through spay/neuter surgery is safe for your pet, will help minimize certain health problems and unwanted behavior and avoid unwanted litters of puppies and kittens that crowd the shelters. This new clinic is on the grounds of the East Valley shelter and run by Clinico, a wonderful nonprofit that Found Animals helps fund.

Clinico offers low-cost sterilization as well as vaccinations and microchipping to everyone -- and special below-cost pricing for low-income pet owners thanks to the generous support of donors. As part of the grand opening festivities, Found Animals is sponsoring free surgeries for cats, pit bulls and pit mixes, and Chihuahuas and mixes belonging to low-income pet owners in Pacoima (91331), Reseda (91335), Van Nuys (91406) and North Hollywood (91605). This is a limited-time offer -- so call (818) 849-6373 for more details and to make an appointment. Clinico also has locations in Pico Rivera and Harbor with great prices and special offers so check out Clinico.org or call (888) WE-SPAY-LA.

Unleashed: What were Found Animals' biggest projects in July?

Gilbreath: July is the heart of "kitten season" in Los Angeles, when all of the local shelters are flooded with baby kittens in need of loving homes.  We've nicknamed the summer months the "cat days of summer," and we have several projects focused on felines. Kittens do wonderfully in pairs for a whole variety of reasons -- they keep each other from getting lonely, burn off energy playing together and teach each other proper social behavior, to name a few -- plus they're twice as cute! Found Animals wants to see as many kittens as possible adopted into great homes this summer, so we have a Summer Buddies adoption promotion running through the end of September. At any of 14 participating shelter locations, Found Animals will pay the adoption fees for a second cat or kitten if you want to take home two. You can find more information on our website if you are interested in adopting your own dynamic duo.

Unleashed: What will Found Animals be working on in August?

Gilbreath: We've got another fun cat promotion lined up in August -- final casting for our Six Packs/Nine Lives calendar. Found Animals is out to bust the stereotype that cats are more suitable pets for women than men.  We've scoured Southern California for great examples of cat owning hunks to help us promote felines as great pets for any situation. We've already narrowed the field, but we are asking the pet loving public help us select the final 12 calendar men and their cats. Online voting for the finalists starts in August and you can find more information on our website. Once the finalists are selected the calendar will be shot by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska and published by Brown Trout for 2012. Proceeds from calendar sales will go to spay/neuter and adoption programs for cats.

Unleashed: How can interested animal lovers help in August?

Gilbreath: There are lots of great ways that animal lovers can get involved in helping pets in August:

-- Take advantage of Clinico's low-cost (or free!) sterilization services so there will be fewer pets in need of homes at this time next year.

-- Adopt a kitten (or two!) from your local shelter.

-- Help us spread the word that cats are great pets for anyone -- vote on our calendar guys and share the promotion with friends.

-- Apply to volunteer with Found Animals or Clinico -- both organizations have many opportunities.

-- Donate to Clinco so that they can continue to offer below-cost pricing to low-income pet owners.

-- Pre-order a pet lover's license plate to support spay/neuter in California at CASpayPlate.com.

Unleashed: What animal has had the biggest impact on your own life? Why?

Gilbreath: When I first started volunteering in the shelter and rescue world about six years ago, all that I knew about "pit bull-type" dogs was what I had seen on the news, and it wasn't good. I had always had large dogs as a kid, but was still apprehensive about working with the "pitties." After a few tentative interactions with some dogs, I soon realized that there was far more to the story than what I'd seen on the news -- so many of these dogs are just goofy lovers. Watching the dogs interact with each other and people made me realize that they are just dogs -- no different than the rest except for the fact that humans are more likely to abuse them.

By the time I was able to adopt a dog of my own there was no doubt that I would go for a big bully-breed mix and I adopted Rufus four years ago. He was a year old at the time and has been a wonderful companion. We have had so many opportunities to talk to people about bully-breed dogs and bust myths and stereotypes. Real-world experience with Rufus has converted many of my family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and acquaintances from skeptics to fans. And along the way we've also had lots of folks cross the street when they see us coming -- we don't take it personally anymore. Rufus loves people, kids, dogs, cats, and even likes to help foster kittens. He's earned his Canine Good Citizen certification and loves agility courses, but most days you can find him at the Found Animals offices, supervising meetings from under my desk and helping out around the office.

Here is some great video of Rufus doing just that:

Aimee Gilbreath is the executive director of the Found Animals Foundation. Before working at Found Animals, she worked in the biotechnology and business fields. Rufus the dog inspired her to return to her first love, animals, and begin working full-time toward the goal of ending the problem of pet overpopulation.

Photo: Gilbreath and Rufus. Credit: Found Animals Foundation

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