The Alliance Magazine Fall 2017

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Animals. People. Community.



Fall 2017

Pony and other

special animals

find their niche.




Dear Friends,

Editor: Pam Townsend

Cruelty/Neglect Reports:

202-723-5730, press 1

Cruelty reports accepted 24 hours a day.

Animal-Related Emergencies:

202-576-6664, press 1

Main Number: 202-723-5730

Adoptions (New York Ave.):


Adoptions (Oglethorpe): Ext. 503

Behavior and Training: Ext. 236

Development: Ext. 315

Finance: Ext. 326

Media Inquiries: Ext. 267

Special Events: Ext 323


71 Oglethorpe Street, NW

Washington, DC 20011

Adoption Hours: 12 p.m. – 7 p.m. daily

Closed for adoptions on Mondays.

1201 New York Avenue, NE

Washington, DC 20002

Adoption Hours: 12 p.m. – 7 p.m. daily

Closed for adoptions on Mondays.

Stray animals are accepted

24 hours a day at New York Ave.


Roger Marmet...................Chair

Jay Timmons......................First Vice President

Lisa LaFontaine................President and CEO

Amy Meadows..................Second Vice President

Gwyn Whittaker..............Secretary

Hon. Mary Schapiro......Treasurer

Theresa Fariello...............Vice President

William Herman..............Vice President

Gregory Riegle.................Vice President

Lauren Talarico DVM, DACVIM

Nina Benton

Steven Bralove

Priscilla Clapp

Saone Crocker

Pamela DeLoach-Jupiter

Jackie Dobranski, DVM

Louie Dweck

Colleen Girouard

Anissa Grossman

Leslie Harris

William Harrop

Joseph Howe

Kenton Keith

Erika Kelton

Betsy Marmet

Matthew Parker, MD

Laird Patterson

Susan Ridge

Robert Rosenfeld

Erica Scherzer

Hon. Carol Schwartz

Andrew Weinstein

Charles Weir

Jean Whiddon

Drew Willison

Jeff Wilson

Lois Godfrey Wye

“Special”— many people use this word to describe the animals in their

lives. Usually, this adjective describes the strength and intensity of the

relationship we share with them. It also may refer to an unusual or

unique ability, a physical abnormality or disability, or even a singular

personality trait.

I am lucky to have shared my life with dozens of animals who were—

and are—special in one way or another. They include Merlin the

cat and my dog Sazzy, both of whom I wrote about in my Alliance

message in the spring. Their stories and situations aren’t unique. Many

of my colleagues at the Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) have—or

have had—animals they describe as special.

• Lauren Lipsey, vice president of community programs, rescued

two street dogs in Chile. One, a tennis ball thief, lived on scraps

fed to him by local children, and the other was found at the age of 2 months, scrounging

for food in a trash heap on the side of the road. Although Lauren says she’d never been an

“animal” person before she met Oreo and Lily, she knew she couldn’t leave them behind

when she returned to the States. Not only did they go home with her, they were the reason

she got into the animal welfare field.

• Media coordinator Pam Townsend and her husband adopted a puppy who was frightened

by many things—the sound of the dishwasher and refrigerator ice machine, umbrellas

being opened, a black briefcase, plastic trash bags, to name a few—and acted aggressively

toward unfamiliar people and most other dogs. Although life with Tango was a challenge,

Pam says the effort involved in managing him actually strengthened the unique bond they

shared. She also learned more about dog behavior than she ever imagined and met people

who not only improved Tango’s life but also enriched hers.

• Stephanie Shain, chief operations officer, had no intention of adopting foster kitten Mae.

Rescued by Animal Control Officers, the tiny girl was found dangling from a fence by her

leg, which was so badly damaged that it had to be amputated. Stephanie agreed to take

care of Mae for “a few days.” But the kitten’s irrepressible spirit and joie de vivre—which

remained intact throughout some post-surgery complications—made it impossible for

Stephanie to give her up. Today this “small and sassy and amazing” feline lives life to the

fullest with no idea that she’s different from other cats.

• Like Stephanie, Alison Putnam, director of finance and administration, thought her

relationship with Dolley would be temporary. She and Dolley went through more than a

year of service dog training, but in the end evaluators determined that despite knowing

upward of 50 commands, Dolley was too social and loved people too much to work as a

service dog. Instead, she took all the wonderful training she’d received and applied it to a

new “career” as a therapy dog. She and Alison visit the Armed Forces Retirement Home on

a regular basis, bringing comfort and joy to both residents and their family members.

These are just a few of the examples of the “special” animals HRA staff share their lives with.

You can read more about their stories, along with others, at humanerescuealliance.org/special.

We also encounter special animals every day at our adoption centers. They may look different

because of a physical injury or they may have been born blind or deaf, as in the case of Pony,

the dog on the cover of this issue. They may be species that most people would never even

consider as pets. Our goal is to match people with companion animals of all varieties.

Not every animal is suited to life in a home, but that doesn’t mean we give up on them; it just

means we have to be creative in finding them a niche as special as they are. Our new program,

Blue Collar Cats, is an excellent example of such an effort. Operated in partnership with our

community cat program, Blue Collar Cats is a rehoming initiative that puts cats to work—in local

businesses and residences—doing what they do best, in return for food, shelter, and basic care

by human “landlords.” Although only in its infancy, this program is off to a great start, with both

people and cats doing well. One Blue Collar Cat named Lady Dole even received a brand-new

(second!), multi-level kitty condo as a “performance reward” from her human guardians.

I hope you enjoy reading about a few special animals in this issue of Alliance.



By Doug Conomy and Alejandro Salinas, Adopters

Nearly 3 years ago, we walked into the Humane Rescue

Alliance (HRA) looking for a dog. We’d been talking about the

idea for months: learning about the adoption process, reading

up on dog breeds, and considering how our lives would be

impacted. As we started our search, we felt confident and

prepared. Then we met Pony.

At just 7 months, Pony was a stunner: an Australian shepherd

puppy from Alabama with a black-and-tan merle coat and

a bright pink nose. He was sweet and lively and, as his

information card stated in bold letters, deaf.

Pony was the first deaf dog we’d come across and, despite

being smitten with him, our ignorance about his circumstance

gave us pause. We hadn’t prepared for this scenario: we

had so many questions about care and training but no real

answers. All we had was a feeling—a feeling that told us we

belonged with Pony. So we took a leap of faith.

With an application submitted, we left HRA determined to

educate ourselves about deaf dogs. We looked at books and

websites and that’s how we found Deaf Dogs Rock, a nonprofit

organization dedicated to the care of deaf dogs. The

organization’s website has training tips, articles, testimonials,

and even a directory of deaf dogs in need of adoption. We

used it to learn about hand signals and unique behavioral

traits—like how deaf dogs require proximity to their human to

feel comfortable.



Having done our homework, we felt ready for Pony’s arrival but, once again,

we were wrong.

Pony’s first weeks at home weren’t easy. We struggled to bridge the

communication gap, unable to get him to understand us. Long walks didn’t

seem to tire him and he showed little interest in training. Over time, we

became increasingly frustrated and we could tell Pony was, too. When he

started nipping and barking at us on walks, we knew our situation had become


Right around that time, a co-worker recommended Gwen Podulka (dogtrained.

com), a dog trainer and owner of a deaf dog herself. We set up a meeting but,

frankly, our expectations were low. We were ready to give up. But Pony wasn’t.

Within the first minutes of meeting Gwen, Pony had learned to go to his bed

on command. Clearly, Pony was eager to engage and Gwen had tuned into

his channel. During the hour and a half she spent with us, Gwen taught us we

needed to talk in Pony’s language and not the other way around. Pony knew

what he was doing all along—we were the ones who needed training!

Using clear signals, constant visual contact, and high-reward treats, she

walked us through several sign commands (sit, come, bed). We learned that

for dogs, mental stimulation can often be more tiring and rewarding than

physical activity. After the session, Pony was visibly exhausted for the first time

since coming home.

That session transformed our relationship with Pony. Since then, the learning

hasn’t stopped: he’s mastered about 30 commands (a combination of ASL

signs and our own) and growing, and has been happily doing agility training on

a regular basis for more than 2 years.

We needed to

talk in Pony’s

language and

not the other way

around. Pony

knew what he

was doing all

along —we were

the ones who

needed training!


Looking back, Gwen was right (she usually is) when she told us Pony

was a once-in-a-lifetime dog. At the time, it was a little hard to believe,

but now it’s obvious how Pony has and continues to enrich our lives.

Thanks to him, we’ve challenged our assumptions about deaf dogs

and discovered a passion for sharing this knowledge with others.

A year and a half ago, Pony got a little sister, Puma, a deaf Catahoula/

Australian shepherd mix rescue from Florida. Training has been easier

the second time around, with Puma quickly picking up commands

from watching and mimicking Pony. If you’d like to stay up to date on

their adventures or just say hello, you can find them on Instagram by

searching for the handle @pony_the_dog.


New Rehoming Options for Cats

By Erin Robinson, Community Cat Program Manager

Jojo came to the Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA)

with her litter of three newborn kittens in early

2017 from an area where she could not safely be

returned after her kittens finished nursing. The

pretty black-and-white feline had a safe place with

HRA to help her kittens grow up and get ready for

adoption, but since she had never been socialized

with people, she wasn’t interested in being a lap

cat. That’s when her resume went up for Blue Collar

Cats, and a local theater was matched with Jojo

as their newest hire! Jojo now stalks the costume

and props storage as well as the rehearsal spaces

and offices, ridding the theater of their persistent

mouse problem. She sometimes even gives notes

on performances!

Poser had lived his whole life outdoors with his

caregiver in Northeast DC, and he had a pretty good

life. Sadly, his caregiver passed away and there was

no one in the neighborhood to provide Poser with

food and outdoor shelter. So the 2-year-old tabby

came to HRA to find a better outcome. Since he’d

always lived outside, Poser very much wanted

to continue living in the great outdoors; thus, he

was paired with a new caregiver: a homeowner in

Capitol Hill who previously cared for a community

cat and was looking for another to help with the rat

issues that are all too familiar to DC residents. Poser

now keeps her backyard and alley pest free—and

provides endless photo opportunities.

Poser and Jojo are just two of the more than

20 cats whose lives have been saved since the

launch of a new HRA program called Blue Collar

Cats in January 2017. Felines in this program are

community cats who do a great job at deterring

and controlling rodents. But every so often, one of

them ends up in our care.

Since they’re not ideal pets, these cats would

normally be candidates for CatNiPP, HRA’s Trap-

Neuter-Return (TNR) program, if they had a safe

place to return to. However, such safe places

aren’t always available due to known abuse in the

area, the death of the cats’ caregiver, or even the

razing of the entire neighborhood for development.

And that’s where Blue Collar Cats comes in. A

rehoming initiative operated in partnership with our

community cat program, Blue Collar Cats puts the


cats to work—in local businesses and residences—doing

what they do best. It gives them a chance at a fruitful life

while benefitting their new caregivers with effective and

non-toxic pest control.

Essentially, the program is the next step in saving every

animal possible, even the cats whose behavior may not

make them good house pets. All the cats taken into the

program are sterilized, vaccinated against rabies and

feline distemper, eartipped, and microchipped so they’re

healthy and not interested in roaming or adding to the


There’s no one perfect place for a Blue Collar Cat; with

appropriate space to hide from people and noise and

a shelter to provide protection in cold or rainy weather,

anywhere can be a great space for these special felines.

Homeowners in Georgetown, Logan Circle, Shaw,

Capitol Hill, and even Manassas, VA, as well as a brewery,

hardware store, theater, and several restaurants have

brought on Blue Collar Cats. The expectations of anyone

“employing” a Blue Collar Cat are to provide daily food and

clean water, shelter, and basic health care throughout the

cat’s lifetime. And we’re already hearing from caregivers

how hard these cats work: from an overall reduction in

rodent sightings to seeing the cats in action!

You can find out more about the Blue Collar Cats program

and sign up to partner with us in this amazing and

innovative new venture at humanerescuealliance.org/


Poser and Jojo are just

two of the more than

20 cats whose lives

have been saved since

the launch of a new

HRA program called

Blue Collar Cats in

January 2017.



Snakes and Spiders

and Lizards, Oh My!

By Pam Townsend, Media Coordinator

The vast majority of people who pass through the

doors of the Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) in search

of an animal companion head straight for the available

dogs or cats or perhaps even the rabbits. But some are

looking for something a bit different.

Every year, in fact, HRA finds homes for several dozen

exotic animals—think snakes, spiders, and lizards—with

the number topping 200 in 2016.

Take Charizard for example. This 3-year-old female

iguana was adopted last year by Parrie Henderson-

O’Keefe and her son. The animal-loving twosome were

no strangers to unusual pets, having had a Russian

tortoise, a fat-tailed gecko, and an assortment of toads,

hamsters, and Anole lizards over the years, along with

a dog and a couple of cats.

“My son loves reptiles and wants to study herpetology

in college,” says Henderson-O’Keefe. “We were quite

intrigued by Charizard, and since my son seemed to

have a connection with her, we decided to adopt her.”

Today, the large lizard spends her days eating, sleeping,

and lounging on a cat tree in the sunshine that pours

through the skylight in Henderson-O’Keefe’s top

floor art studio. A heating pad and heat lamp provide

additional warmth when needed. Every few weeks,

she’ll go on a walkabout, wandering around the studio

or even heading downstairs to explore other rooms.

On the other end of the size spectrum is Ducky, a

1.5-year-old leopard gecko, who found his way to HRA

following an eviction. Fortunately, it didn’t take long

for this little lizard to find a new home with Delaware


To anyone interested in

adopting an exotic animal,

Daniels has three words of

advice: Research, research,


resident Grace Clampitt. Although Clampitt had never

had a leopard gecko, she had previously cared for two

bearded dragons, and had the lamps and enclosure

necessary for housing a reptile. She reports that Ducky is

doing well and enjoying his diet of meal worms along with

the occasional wax worm—a particular favorite of his.

Like Charizard and Ducky, Scuba Steve wouldn’t be the

pet of choice for most people but, thanks to HRA, this

bark scorpion also found the right home. Discovered

in an apartment hallway last December, Steve—who,

it turns out, is actually Stephanie—was rescued by

HRA Animal Care and Control Officers and taken to

the New York Avenue Adoption Center, where she

quickly caught the eye of HRA Law Enforcement officer

Stephon Daniels.

“I’ve always loved exotic pets,” says Daniels. “As a child

I watched documentaries and shows that depicted

animals in their natural environment. Now I enjoy setting

up enclosures for them as close to their natural habitat as

possible. I already had nine tarantulas of various species

and wanted a scorpion as well.”

Before bringing Stephanie home, Daniels, who has

more than 20 years of experience caring for exotic

pets, researched both the legality of owning—and the

responsibilities of caring for—a scorpion. Today, she lives

comfortably in her own secure enclosure.

“She’s awesome,” says Daniels, who recently introduced

Stephanie and a couple of his tarantulas to youngsters

at HRA’s Caring Kids Camps. “When I’m working on my

artwork late at night and look up, I’ll see her patrolling her

personal territory.”

To anyone interested in adopting an exotic animal, Daniels

has three words of advice: Research, research, research!

These animals often have more specific and possibly

more time-consuming care requirements than more

traditional pets, and if people aren’t properly prepared,

the animals end up in shelters or worse.





BARK BALL raises $700,000

Thank you to everyone who supported the 30th

Annual Bark Ball. This year’s event was the largest

to date, with 1,200 guests and more than 500 of DC’s

best dressed dogs in attendance. The Washington

Hilton served as the perfect backdrop for one of

the region’s most sensational charity galas, which

raised more than $700,000 to benefit the Humane

Rescue Alliance’s (HRA) critical community services.

Guests enjoyed exciting silent and live auctions,

a delicious dinner, and a touching program led

by event host Wendy Rieger, NBC4 anchor. Other

special guests included the Honorable Bob Dole

and Honorable Elizabeth Dole along with their pups

Blazer and Leader, as well as Diana Bulger, the

chair of the first Bark Ball in 1988. We are extremely

grateful for their continued support of HRA.

This year’s live auction excited our generous donors.

Many were inspired by the Doles’ presence to bid

on two personally autographed copies of Unlimited

Partners. However, the auction package of the

evening was an Exclusive On-Field Washington

Nationals Experience. This package included a

one-hour pitching lesson with Max Sherzer, starting

pitcher for the Nationals; on-field batting practice

with the whole team; and tickets in the exclusive

Diamond Club. A bidding war was resolved when

the donors, Erica and Max Scherzer, graciously

decided to provide the experience to two winners,

each of whom pledged $10,000. This brought in

$20,000 for HRA, our animals, and our services for

the community.

Thank you to all of our incredible sponsors,

especially Louie and Ralph Dweck, U.S. Chamber of

Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers,

and TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.

We also want to thank our Bark Ball Chair Terri

Fariello, whose leadership and engagement of a

strong volunteer team helped make this success




Tributes listed here were received April 16, 2017 through July 15, 2017.




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