So Many Questions!

Occasionally we get asked, “Why do you ask so many questions before approving an adoption?” People think that perhaps ANY home is better than no home, right?

There are reasons we ask so many questions and make home visits. We don’t want to throw pets into just any old home; we owe it to the animals, and to the adopters, to make sure the animal is going to fit in well in the home. Some of these animals have already had difficult lives and the last thing they need is to be placed in home that isn’t right for them.

So why do we ask:

Question EmojiNames and ages of people in the household? Because we need to know if there are children in the home that might be at risk with the wrong placement. Not every animal is kid-friendly and so it’s important to know the ages of every child in the family. Sometimes older kids are okay but younger kids wouldn’t be.

Where the dog will be at night and while you’re away? Because many of the dogs lost their homes and ended up in a shelter or rescue because neighbors complained about constant barking. It is also important to know that the animals are going to be safe while you are away.

If you’ll be willing and able to train? Because so often the dogs are homeless due to the previous owners’ unwillingness or inability to train them. The dogs become unruly and difficult to live with and guess what? They get dumped at a shelter or rescue for someone else to deal with.

What history you have with animals? If a potential adopter has a negative past with animal ownership (got rid of them if they peed in the house, moved, or had a baby) we need to know that. If someone isn’t ready to deal with everything that comes with adopting an animal then that isn’t going to be a good placement.

The questions we ask before allowing an adoption are very important so that we find exceptional homes. The system is not perfect, and sometimes we have to re-home an animal because the home wasn’t the right fit, but we ask the questions for very good reasons. Last Hope has an excellent track record of finding the right homes the first time and it’s due to the questions we ask as well as a team of devoted volunteers who are committed to finding good forever homes for our animals.

Being placed in the wrong home is NOT better than sitting in the adoption center or a foster home. We are determined to find homes for our animals with people who will love and care for them the rest of their days. We owe it to the animals to ask the questions we ask. They deserve the very best!

Julia Black

Microchipping Your Pet

Statistics show that more than 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen every year, according to the American Humane Association. Additionally, one in three pets will become lost at somMicrochipe point in his life.

We now have the capabilities and technology to help recover lost pets: Microchipping. A tiny microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, is inserted in the back of the neck of the animal via a needle; this causes only a slight discomfort to the animal. The chip is then programmed with your information such as name and phone number.

The registration of the microchip is very important and it is how your information gets programmed into the chip! Some veterinarians will register the chip for you, but whether you do it or your vet does it, make sure it gets done. The chip will do no good if it is not registered and programmed. Also, if you move or change phone numbers, make sure you update your information on the chip. If your pet is lost, all that has to be done is to scan the back of the neck with a special machine (this does not hurt the animal) and your information will be displayed. This can be done by a veterinarian or animal shelter that has the equipment.Scan

Of course, it’s important to train your dog well to help prevent him from escaping in the first place. But, as added security, it is well worth the money and time to also microchip your pet. Last Hope holds microchipping events where you can get your pet chipped for added security. The next microchipping event will be at the Cedar Rapids Petco on January 3rd, 2015 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Please come out to help make sure your pet will return home in the event of an escape or home emergency such as a fire.

If you would like to help Last Hope defray the costs of microchipping animals, please donate HERE.

Julia Black

Flea and Tick Prevention

Flea and tick prevention keeps your pet healthy. Your pet won’t pick up tapeworms or have flea bites that cause itching misery and flea allergy dermatitis. In addition, you can help prevent diseases that fleas and ticks carry such as Lyme Disease, ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tick paralysis. Don’t let your pet get bitten by fleas when modern medicine has provided wonderfully effective and safe flea products.

Flea and tick preventatives can help your pet avoid:

  • Flea allergies
  • Hot spots
  • Biting adult fleas
  • Skin infections
  • Tapeworms
  • Lyme Disease
  • Ehrlichia
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Fleas and ticks in your home


Fleas are insects that are ubiquitous in the environment – meaning they can be found almost everywhere. There are more than 2000 species of fleas, but the common cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is the one that most commonly afflicts dogs and cats.

A disease of concern that can be caused by fleas is flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), which is a severe allergic reaction to flea bites. Some pets are so allergic that even a single bite can cause a reaction. FAD makes pets miserable. In severe cases, it can cause severe itching and inflammation that, if left untreated, can lead to excessive scratching and chewing that can damage the skin. Secondary bacterial or fungal infections can develop as a result.

Fleas can also play a role in transmitting parasites, such as tapeworms, and bacterial diseases, such as cat scratch fever (bartonellosis), to humans.

Finally, in very severe infestations, particularly in old, ill, or young animals, fleas can remove so much blood through feeding that they can weaken the animal.

Fleas are prevalent throughout the United States. They prefer warm, humid conditions, so infestations are typically worst during mid to late summer and early fall. In some parts of the country, they can be a significant problem year round. Even during the cooler months, fleas can survive very well indoors once an infestation has been established.


Ticks are not insects, but they are closely related to spiders, scorpions, and mites. There are approximately 80 tick species found in the United States, but only a handful of them are of real concern to pets and people. Some of these include the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus), the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), and the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis). The brown dog tick is the only species that can complete its entire lifecycle on a dog and can infest homes and kennels.

Tick bites can be painful and irritating, but the real concern with ticks is the number of serious diseases they can transmit, such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. These diseases can cause significant illness and even death in both pets and people.

Ticks are found in virtually every region of the United States. They are most prevalent in the early spring and late fall, although some species are well adapted to temperature extremes and can be found any time of year. In general, however, they prefer dark, moist, brushy places in which to lay their eggs.

Flea and tick prevention is very important for the health of your pet and your family. The best way to ensure the prevention of flea and ticks is to treat your pet year-round. It is relatively inexpensive, but the costs add up for Last Hope because we treat all of our dogs and cats. In order to help us continue to keep our animals pest-free, please donate HERE.

Julia Black

Bordetella or Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is most often caused by the Bordetella virus that is easily passed from dog to dog through the air. Just like the human cold, Bordetella is very contagious so it is very important to get your dog vaccinated against it, especially if your dog is around other dogs on a regular basis.

kennelBordetella will cause a dry, hacking cough that appears about three to seven days after the dog is infected. It sounds as if the dog needs to clear its throat and is triggered by any extra activity or exercise.

Many dogs that acquire the virus will cough every few minutes, all day long. They generally will not run a fever or have a loss of appetite but the constant coughing is irritating to both the dog and the dog’s family. The illness lasts about 7 to 21 days and the vast majority of dogs will recover without need for medication.

Last Hope always vaccinates its dogs against Bordetella because, although it’s rarely fatal, it is very unpleasant for the dog and it is so easily transmitted.

Help us continue to vaccinate against Bordetella by donating here.

Julia Black


The Importance of Rabies Vaccinations

All states in the United States require pets to be vaccinated against the rabies virus and ours is no exception. But besides being the law, there are other important reasons to vaccinate your pets.

The symptoms of rabies are visible in one or several stages. With most animals, the virus will spread through the nerves of the bitten animal toward the brain. The virus is relatively slow moving and the average time of incubation from exposure to brain involvement is between 3 to 8 weeks in dogs, 2 to 6 weeks in cats, and 3 to 6 weeks in people. However, incubation periods as long as 6 months in dogs and 12 months in people have been reported. After the virus reaches the brain it then will move to the salivary glands where it can be spread through a bite. After the virus reaches the brain the animal will show one, two, or all of the three different phases.

ShotThe first is the prodromal phase and usually lasts for 2-3 days in dogs. Apprehension, nervousness, anxiety, solitude, and a fever may be noted. Friendly animals may become shy or irritable and may snap, whereas, aggressive animals may become affectionate and docile. Most animals will constantly lick the site of the bite. In cats, the prodromal phase lasts for only 1-2 days and they usually develop more fever spikes and erratic behavior than dogs.

From the prodromal phase, animals may enter the furious stage; cats are particularly prone to developing this phase. The furious stage of the disease in dogs usually lasts for 1 to 7 days. Animals become restless and irritable and are hyperresponsive to auditory and visual stimuli. As they become more restless, they begin to roam and become more irritable and vicious. When caged, dogs may bite and attack their enclosures. Animals progress to become disoriented and then have seizures and eventually die.

Animals may develop the paralytic phase either after the prodromal or furious stage. The paralytic phase usually develops within 2 to 4 days after the first signs are noted. Nerves affecting the head and throat are the first to be involved and animals may begin to salivate as a result of their inability to swallow. Deep labored breathing and a dropped jaw may result as the diaphragm and facial muscles become increasingly paralyzed. Animals may make a choking sound and many owners think that there is something lodged in the dog’s throat. The animal will get weaker and eventually go into respiratory failure and die.

There is no treatment. Once the disease develops in humans, death is almost certain. Only a handful of people have survived rabies after extremely intensive medical care. There have been several reported cases of dogs surviving the infection, but they are very rare.

Vaccination is the best way to prevent infection and properly vaccinated animals stand very little chance of contracting the disease. While rabies vaccination for dogs is mandatory for all states, it is estimated that up to half of all dogs are not vaccinated. Some communities are also requiring cats to be vaccinated, which is very important because there are currently more cases of cat rabies than dog rabies. Some people estimate that less than ten percent of the cat population is vaccinated thus leading to the high incidence of rabies in cats. The standard vaccination protocol is to vaccinate cats and dogs at three or four months and then again at one year of age. A year later, a three-year rabies vaccination is recommended. The three-year vaccine has been tested and shown to be very effective.

All of our animals are vaccinated against Rabies. Please donate here to help us continue.

Julia Black

Why It’s Important to Spay/Neuter

The decision to spay/neuter your pet is an important one. But it can be the single best decision you make for his long-term welfare and for the welfare of other animals in your community.

Getting your pet spayed/neutered can:

  • Reduce the number of homeless pets killed
  • Improve your pet’s health
  • Reduce unruly behavior
  • Save on the cost of pet care

Homeless and Euthanized Pets

????????????????????????????In every community, in every state, there are homeless animals. In the U.S., there are an estimated 6-8 million homeless animals entering animal shelters every year. Barely half of these animals are adopted. Tragically, most of the rest are euthanized. These are healthy, sweet pets who would have made great companions.


According to a report in USA Today, neutered male dogs live 18% longer than un-neutered male dogs and spayed female dogs live 23% longer than unspayed female dogs. The report goes on to add that in Mississippi, the lowest-ranking state for pet longevity, 44% of the dogs are not neutered or spayed.

Part of the reduced lifespan of unaltered pets can be attributed to their increased urge to roam, exposing them to fights with other animals, getting struck by cars, and other mishaps.

Another contributor to the increased longevity of altered pets involves the reduced risk of certain types of cancers. Unspayed female cats and dogs have a far greater chance of developing pyrometra (a fatal uterine infection), uterine cancer, and other cancers of the reproductive system.

Medical evidence indicates that females spayed before their first heat are typically healthier. (Many veterinarians now sterilize dogs and cats as young as eight weeks of age.)

Male pets who are neutered eliminate their chances of getting testicular cancer, and it is thought they they have lowered rates of prostate cancer, as well.


Unneutered dogs are much more assertive and prone to urine-marking (lifting his leg) than neutered dogs. Although it is most often associated with male dogs, females may do it, too. Spaying or neutering your dog should reduce urine-marking and may stop it altogether.

For cats, the urge to spray is extremely strong in an intact cat, and the simplest solution is to get yours neutered or spayed by 4 months of age before there’s even a problem. Neutering solves 90 percent of all marking issues, even in cats that have been doing it for a while. It can also minimize howling, the urge to roam, and fighting with other males.

In both cats and dogs, the longer you wait, the greater the risk you run of the surgery not doing the trick because the behavior is so ingrained.

Other behavioral problems that can be ameliorated by spay/neuter include:

  • Roaming, especially when females are “in heat.”
  • Aggression: Studies also show that most dogs bites involve dogs who are unaltered.
  • Excessive barking, mounting, and other dominance-related behaviors.

While getting your pets spayed/neutered can help curb undesirable behaviors, it will not change their fundamental personality, like their protective instinct.

Cost Cutting

African American young adult female veterinarian holding brown Pomeranian dog.When you factor in the long-term costs potentially incurred by a non-altered pet, the savings afforded by spay/neuter are clear (especially given the plethora of low-cost spay/neuter clinics).

Caring for a pet with reproductive system cancer or pyometra can easily run into the thousands of dollars—five to ten times as much as a routine spay surgery. Additionally, unaltered pets can be more destructive or high-strung around other dogs. Serious fighting is more common between unaltered pets of the same gender and can incur high veterinary costs.

Millions of pet deaths each year are a needless tragedy. By spaying or neutering your pet, you can be an important part of the solution. Contact your veterinarian today and be sure to let your family and friends know that they should do the same.

Help us to continue to fund spay/neuter surgery for our dogs. Donate here.


Julia Black



Distemper Virus

Canine distemper is a virus that affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, respiratory and central nervous systems, as well as the conjunctival membranes of the eye.

The first signs of canine distemper include sneezing, coughing and thick mucus coming from the eyes and nose. Fever, lethargy, sudden vomiting and diarrhea, depression and/or loss of appetite are also symptoms of the virus.

LacyThe virus is passed from dog to dog through direct contact with fresh urine, blood or saliva. Sneezing, coughing and sharing food and water bowls are all possible ways for the virus to be passed on.

There is currently no available medication that can destroy the virus that causes canine distemper. Rather, supportive care is the mainstay of treatment. Veterinarians can offer intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and antibiotics to ward off secondary infections while the infected dog builds up his immune response. Some dogs are able to survive the infection, while for others canine distemper can be fatal.

Dogs who recover from canine distemper may have seizures or other central nervous system disorders that may not show up until many years later – sometimes in their old age. They may also be left with permanent brain and nerve damage, and these symptoms also may not show up until years later.

Last Hope vaccinates all its dogs against distemper because it is such a contagious and dangerous virus.

To help Last Hope continue to vaccinate against this dangerous virus, donate today!

Julia Black