How to Help Stray and Feral Cats in Your Neighborhood

Outdoor cats can be found in just about every neighborhood in the country.  While farm cats are usually taken good care of, stray and feral cats are not…and their lives are usually difficult and short.  Fortunately, helping these kitties is pretty easy, and by taking these steps, you can help save lots of feline lives.

Stray cats are usually friendly and at least somewhat socialized.  The first thing you should do if you come across one of these unfamiliar kitties is contact your local authorities.  They will be able to tell you if anyone has filed a missing animal report for a cat matching its description.  It’s important to do this first, because someone just might be missing their beloved pet.


This is Twilight von Twinkle Toes.  She was not found as a stray, but isn’t she cute?!  This girl has an infection in her feet, causing them to not develop as they should have.

No owners to be found?  You can try to find the cat a home, contact local shelters to see if they have any suggestions, or take the cat in after having him examined by a vet.  If this is not an option, make sure the stray cat has food, water, and shelter.  In very hot weather, putting a bowl of water outside is an absolute necessity.  Providing shelter to an outside cat is pretty simple:  Do you have a shed or garage?  Maybe you could add a cat door to it to allow the cat inside when it’s too cold or warm.  Shelters can also be made out of boxes or plastic totes.

Once he has had a good meal, you’ll want to consider taking the cat to a veterinarian OR attending a low-cost spay/neuter/vaccine clinic in your area – check out A.P.E.’s program here!  They will check and see if the cat has a microchip – a sure sign that it has/had owners – vaccinate, and spay or neuter the cat.  In doing this, you are adding years to their life, cutting down on the chances of future health problems, and eliminating the chances for pregnancy.  Stray and feral cats are notorious for having litter after litter of kittens, many of whom probably will not survive for very long.


Miss Twinkle Toes will be available for adoption once she has healed a bit more.  If you are able to contribute to her medical funds, please click here!

Feral cats, on the other hand, are not socialized and often very afraid of humans.  They can be very hard to catch, and they are rarely able to be trained to live with humans, unless they are very young kittens.  It is best to not try to handle feral cats unless you have been trained to do so.  Rather than trying to fix a feral cat problem yourself, contact local organizations and rescues who will be able to help you.  Some places even have “barn programs” in place specifically for feral cats.  Turning feral cats in to a shelter is usually a death sentence, since most ferals are considered “unadoptable.”

Here at A.P.E., one of the main things we do is the TNR program, or Trap Neuter Return.  We set up live traps in areas that have an abundancy of feral cats, take the trapped kitties to our vet to have them spayed or neutered and vaccinated, and return them to their original location.  (When trying to trap a cat, we put food in the traps – this is why you should keep the cats you’re feeding on a schedule and take the food away when they’re not eating.  A hungry cat is easier to trap!)  With TNR, even though the cats are still living in the wild, we have prevented countless litters of kittens from being born.  Many well-meaning people put out food and water for these cats, but they don’t realize that unless the cats are fixed, they will eventually have too many hungry mouths to care for!  This is why TNR is so essential.  Feral cats who have been spayed or neutered will often have a notch in the tip of their ear – veterinarians do this so that you can tell which kitties in a feral colony have been fixed and which still need to be.

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Meet Storm.  Originally thought to be feral, Storm was caught in a trap after being spotted shivering outside someone’s house.  She has warmed up a lot and turned out to be very friendly!  However, Storm is very unhealthy – she has multiple wounds, irritated skin, and an infection…we also suspect that she might be pregnant.  :(  It will be a while until we can put Storm up for adoption; in the meantime, can you help us with her medical care?

Many people in the rescue community get creative with their shelters for feral cats.  Iowa winters can be brutal, and these poor kitties need a place to go during bad weather.  Below is an example of a homemade shelter – a simple Styrofoam cooler (available at Fleet Farm or pretty much any convenience store) duct-taped shut, with a hole cut in it large enough for a cat to get in, filled with straw.  You can do the same thing with boxes, plastic totes, or even a wooden cabinet.  Amazon also sells a small heated house that I have used myself for a stray cat that hangs out around our house – the kitty LOVES it during cold winters and sometimes doesn’t even want to leave it to eat.


There are some who think that relocating the cats will fix the problem – please don’t do this.  If you take the cats somewhere else, they may get hit by cars trying to find their way back; they might also find themselves in a different cat colony’s “territory”, which can cause problems and fights.  Not to mention, a new cat colony will without a doubt take its place, and you’ll just find yourself caring for a new group of cats.  It is best to just leave the cats where they are comfortable.

The most important thing to remember is ALWAYS have your cats spayed and neutered.  Don’t contribute to the problem.  If every cat-owner followed this rule, we would not have the huge amount of overpopulation that we do now.  For more information, please check out these helpful links:  PetFinder, WebMD, Humane Society.




5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy and Safe in Winter Weather

5 ways

I’ve lived in Iowa my whole life, so I should be used to the frigid winters by now.  But for some reason, each time it rolls around, I am never quite prepared for the snow and cold.  The first few moments of a snowfall are always very pretty and peaceful, and it’s fun to step out into a glittering, white flurry of flakes the first day of the season.  But then the snow stays.  And stays and stays.  And along with the snow comes problems:  Shoveling.  The flu.  Icy roads.  But also painful paw pads, dry itchy skin, and changes in diet and grooming routines.  It can be tough for your dog to adjust to a new season, but you can help winter-proof your pet with these five tips.  (Here is a link to my original post, written in Nov. 2014 – tips have been updated)

1.  Protect those paws.  That frozen ground is painful for your dog’s sensitive paws!  Frostbite, ice melt irritation, and cracking/drying are just a few of the risks involved when your dog steps out into the snow.  Think ahead by buying some booties for your dog to wear outside, and be sure to wipe your pup’s paws thoroughly when they come inside.  You can also treat dry and cracked paws, nose, and skin with soothing balms.

2.  Update your dog’s wardrobe.  Besides the protective booties, think about dressing your dog in a warm coat or sweater when he goes outside.  Senior, underweight, or small dogs are particularly sensitive to cold weather.  A dog’s fur coat alone isn’t enough to protect them from bitter winds, especially if they spend a lot of time outside.

3.  Stay smart when outside.  Know your dog’s limits – if your teeth are chattering, chances are that your dog’s are too.  If you have an elderly or very young dog, consider keeping a pee pad inside for the very coldest of days.  Keep your walks short and brisk, and always watch your pup closely – more dogs go missing in the winter than any other time of year.  Don’t let your dog eat too much snow, since it can cause stomach upset in large amounts.  And whatever you do:  Keep your dog nice and dry!  A dog’s coat retains water, and once it’s wet it takes a very long time to dry; this is especially dangerous in the winter because of the risk of hypothermia.

4.  Winterize your dog’s grooming habits.  A longer fur length than usual can help protect against cold temperatures.  Embrace the shaggy! :)  Trim nails and groom paws more often to keep an eye out for irritated pads.  Be sure your dog is completely dry after bathing before taking him outside.  Also, consider your dog’s diet:  Since he will be spending more time indoors and most likely getting less exercise, adjust their food accordingly.  (Keep in mind:  There are many ways to exercise your dog that don’t involve going outside!  Think fetching games or “find-the-treat”!)

5.  Know the symptoms of winter-related illnesses.  Hypothermia, frostbite, ice melt irritation, and antifreeze poisoning are all things to watch out for during the winter season.  If your dog loves being outside in the winter, keep a close eye on him and look for violent shivering or lethargy – both signs of hypothermia.

Here are some great resources about winter-proofing your pets:


Association of Professional Dog Trainers

Cesar’s Way


Some breeds, like the Great Pyrenees (shown above) and Husky, absolutely love winter weather!  If they are having a great time in the snow, by all means…let them play!  However, keep an eye on them to make sure they aren’t exhibiting any symptoms of hypothermia, and always have water and a warm shelter available.  (Psst!  Are you looking to add a snow-loving Husky to your family?!  A.P.E. has a gorgeous female available for adoption.  Read more about her here!)


A.P.E. Shares Donation with South Hamilton Animal Alliance

A couple of weeks ago, we received a large donation with a request for us to help South Hamilton Animal Alliance (SHAA) in Jewell, Iowa. This organization is especially close to our heart because A.P.E.’s veterinarian, who has helped so many of our adoptable animals, runs the rescue.  We were able to sponsor their cats for the month, as well as The Iowa Animal Partnership (IAP) also sent supplies.  Included were necessities like paper towels, food, detergent, bleach, and hard wood fuel pellets, which are used for kitty litter – they are safe for the cats and cut down on odor.
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Please click this link to check out the cats A.P.E. is sponsoring, as well as more adoptable animals at SHAA.  A huge thank you goes out to our donors, without whom we would be unable to sponsor and aid other Iowa shelters and rescues!

Before You Give Up Your Cat…Read This Post

Since the holiday season, A.P.E. has taken in 7 owner-surrendered cats.  While we understand that some surrenders are necessary, we also feel compelled to tell you that most surrenders are not.  We’ve talked before about how we believe pets are family, and for this reason, giving up your dog or cat should be your very last option.  Though A.P.E. is considered “no-kill”, many animal shelters are not, and your once-beloved family pet could be euthanized if surrendered to one of them.

Also, many dogs and cats do not present well in a shelter environment – they are incredibly stressed out and will probably act much differently than they would in a home.  This could decrease the chances of them finding a home.  Senior pets, in particular, have a much more difficult time being adopted out.  Another issue is the crazy overpopulation of cats and kittens in shelters – not only during kitten season, but all year long!  So before you give up your kitty, make sure you have thought long and hard about any other possible solutions.

The problem:  Allergies.  Possible solution:  Medications and reducing allergens.  I know several cat-owners who are, in fact, allergic to them!  But they refuse to let their runny eyes and stuffed-up nose get in the way of sharing their home with kitties.  An allergy doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get rid of your pet.  According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, about a quarter of Americans are allergic to cats, and the symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening.  Before surrendering your cat, visit an allergist to see how severe your allergy is; there are many medications that will help those with moderate allergies live comfortably with a cat.  You can also do many things to reduce allergens, including cleaning and vacuuming frequently, installing an air purifier, and taking your cat to a groomer regularly to help control shedding.


The problem:  Moving.  Possible solution:  Simply don’t consider housing that doesn’t allow pets.  Seems obvious, but we see this a lot – the owner is moving and is unable to bring their pet to the new place.  If you’d like to keep your pet with you, look for pet-friendly housing only.  A landlord is more likely to accept a cat if you convince them you are a responsible pet owner and that your cat is litter-trained and spayed/neutered.  We understand that pet-friendly housing can often be difficult to find, especially if you only have a certain amount of time in which to find it – in this case, find a great boarding facility or pet sitter in your area and see if they can watch your kitty for you while you search for a place that will allow her.

The problem:  Litter box issues.  Possible solution:  Depends on the cause.  Many shelters say this is the #1 reason cats get surrendered.  But there’s always a reason for this behavior – if your cat suddenly stops using its litter box normally, there’s a problem.  Many times, it’s medical.  Take your kitty to the vet ASAP to rule out a urinary tract infection or blockage, particularly if there is blood in the urine or abnormal licking of the genitals.  A blocked urethra is very serious, so if your cat potties outside his box, the vet should be your first option.  Another reason might be that your cat is not spayed or neutered – cats, particularly males, will often spray when they reach sexual maturity.  This solution is simple:  Get that kitty fixed!  Your cat could also be trying to tell you something by going outside the litter box.  Has the box been cleaned out lately?  Have you been using a different kind of litter?  Is the box big enough for your cat?  Cats can be picky, and they will tell you if they’re unhappy with a dirty box or that new scented litter you bought.  Pay attention, and you can learn your particular cat’s preferences.

The problem:  Destructive scratching.  Possible solution:  Read this post!  We discussed this at length last week, and there are plenty of options for you.


The problem:  Expecting a baby.  Possible solution:  Do your research.  The idea that pregnant women should not be around cat litter has been around for a long time.  Toxoplasmosis, while very serious and dangerous to an unborn baby, is unlikely to be contracted through contact with cat feces.  A cat would only have the disease if it were to eat raw meat or contaminated birds/rodents.  According to the Humane Society of the United States, a pregnant woman would be more likely to contract toxoplasmosis from eating undercooked meat or working in her garden, not from handling cat litter.  If you’d like, put on rubber gloves or have someone else clean the litter, but there’s really no reason to give up your cat.

The problem:  Cost.  Possible solution:  Look in your area for organizations that can help.  Low-cost veterinary care is pretty commonplace nowadays, and many organizations – including A.P.E! – offer low-cost spay/neuter, vaccination, and microchip services.  Always have your pet spayed/neutered, and have it vaccinated; this will prevent much more costly problems in the future.  Some churches also offer free pet food to owners in need.  Do some searching where you live and see what your local rescue organizations offer.


These beautiful cats are two of those recently surrendered to us.  On the left is Miranda, a gorgeous Maine Coon, and on the right is her bonded buddy Max, a sleek black Manx (no tail!).  If you’re interested in adopting these two gorgeous and unique kitties, please fill out our adoption application!

If you find yourself having these issues or others with your cat, don’t be afraid to reach out to local veterinarians, shelters, or rescues.  They will be more than willing to answer your questions and help you as best as they are able.  Chances are, with their help, you can find another option other than giving up your pet.

For more information, visit these links:  5 Reasons Cats are Given Up for Adoption , Main Reasons for Surrendering a Cat



Just Say No to Declawing!


Thinking of getting your cat declawed-

Imagine this:  You’re waking up from a long nap to find yourself in extreme pain.  Each of your fingertips has been amputated down to the first knuckle.  You are unable to use your hands normally and comfortably until weeks have passed, perhaps even months.  Sounds like some sort of medieval torture, right?  Wrong.  This is what we do to cats when we have them declawed.

Sound extreme?  It is.  That’s why many vets won’t even perform the surgery anymore.  A cat’s claws grow from tiny pieces of bone, and in order to keep the claw from growing back, veterinarians must remove that bone completely.  There are multiple ways of doing the surgery, but all are very time-consuming and painful for the cat….and 99.9 percent of the time, it’s completely unnecessary.  (The only time we advocate for declawing a cat is if a claw has a tumor, infection, or is damaged and removal is medically necessary.)  The surgery is painful, and the recovery time can be lengthy.  Even after that, there can be complications; you can’t sterilize this area, so infections are likely.  Not to mention that if your kitty ever gets out of your house and outside, it will have no way to defend itself against predators.

The majority of the time, the reason for getting a cat declawed is to benefit the owner, not the cat.  Usually, the kitty is clawing and destroying furniture or rugs.  This, believe it or not, is often reason enough for many people to surrender their cat to a shelter.  In our opinion, pets are family members and are much more important than couches and chairs – – but to keep your furniture scratch-free, there are many other solutions that don’t involve extreme surgery!

  1.  Train your cat to use a scratching post.  Training is admittedly much easier to do when you have a kitten, but older cats can learn too!  Putting various scratchers and scratching post around the house (and maybe luring your cat in with some catnip or yummy treats!) can be very effective – the cat will be much less likely to scratch at your furniture if he has another way to stretch and sharpen his claws.
  2. Trim your cat’s claws regularly.  A weekly nail-trim will keep the damage to furniture pretty minimal.
  3. Soft Claws nail caps.  These are vinyl caps that fit over the cat’s claws; they stay on with adhesive for about a month.  The caps make claws unable to do any damage to furniture or carpet.  They break off on their own as the claws grow, and they come in lots of fun colors!
  4. Safe sprays like Feliway.  One of the reasons cats scratch or rub against objects is to leave their scent.  Feliway contains synthetic feline pheromones that, while undetectable to human noses, give off a comforting scent to your cat.  Spray it on furniture that you would like your kitty to stay away from, and the pheromones will “de-stress” your cat and make her feel safe, secure, and much less likely to do any stress-induced scratching.  You can also purchase citrus sprays that act as deterrents – cats don’t like the smell/taste of citrus, so they will stay away from it.
  5. Double-stick tape.  Double-sided tape also acts as a deterrent.  The sticky surface will make the side of your couch much less inviting to your cat – their paw pads are very sensitive, and the sticky surface will annoy them and keep them from scratching.

Keep in mind that clawing is a healthy and normal behavior for cats.  Feel free to mix and combine these techniques to find what works for your cat.  Does your cat like sisal or carpeted scratching posts?  Does Feliway keep your kitty away from furniture, or does citrus spray work better?  Every cat is different, but every cat is also trainable – there is no reason to have your cat declawed when it is possible to fix the issue using these tips.

Visit the Pets WebMD page and the Humane Society website for this information and more!


Goals for the New Year

We all make New Year’s resolutions, right?  They usually involve getting more exercise or eating healthier (or, in my case, stop drinking so much pop!)…and let’s face it:  We usually don’t end up following through on our resolutions.  Life gets in the way, and our goals just slip our minds.

Here at A.P.E., our New Year’s resolutions are different.  We have made a list of goals for 2016 that we believe are entirely attainable, and our mission to help animals never slips our minds.  As a nonprofit, many of our goals are financial, and that’s where you come in.  We can’t do this without you.  Read on to see where your donations will be going.


Our first goal for the new year is to rescue more animals from hoarding situations.  A.P.E. has experienced some horrific hoarding cases, and though these circumstances are heartbreaking and difficult to witness, it’s also incredibly rewarding to be able to help these animals.  Rescuing more of these poor dogs and cats requires a lot of supplies:  Hazmat suits, cages, catch poles, cat nets, respirators, and live traps, just to name a few.

A.P.E.’s next goal for 2016 is to convert an existing building into a cat shelter.  The basic structure is there, but the interior is mostly incomplete and needs a lot of work.  This would include things like drywall, paint, electrical work, etc.  It will be a big job, but we are so excited to have a safe space for our adoptable kitties!


Finally, we are looking to raise enough money to put a down payment on a permanent location for a spay/neuter/vaccine clinic.  We love doing mobile clinics (and will continue to do so), but it will be amazing to have a place where we can provide low-cost spay, neuter, and vaccinations all the time!  The property will need to be large enough to hold our mobile clinic vans, and it needs to have enough storage for all of A.P.E.’s supplies.

With your donations, we can reach these goals!  Every little bit helps.  Click the links below to see the different ways to donate.  Thank you for all your continued help and support, and happy New Year from everyone here at A.P.E.!

Donate through PayPal

Donate through GoFundMe

Donate through GivingGrid

Support A.P.E. by using Amazon Smile

Jan 13, 2016, Newton, IA (Spay and Neuter for cats and dogs)

Jan 22, 2016, Rockwell City, IA (Spay and Neuter for cats only)


Feb 10, Newton, IA (Spay and Neuter for cats and dogs)

Feb 15, Jefferson, IA (Spay and Neuter clinic and vaccine only clinic for cats and dogs)

Feb 19, Rockwell City, IA (Spay and Neuter for cats only)

Feb 29 Jefferson, IA (Spay and Neuter clinic and vaccine only clinic for cats and dogs)


Tentative dates for Madison County have been selected for Wednesdays later in Jan and Feb, an exact will be announced.
We do Microchip ID at all clinic locations!

Holiday Safety Tips for Pets

The holidays can be stressful for everyone.  But what many of us might not think about is how all this Christmas chaos affects our pets. From unhealthy leftovers to poisonous plants, here are the things you should be aware of this week:

Holiday tips for pet owners
Pay attention to your ornament and light placement. Educate about hazardous plants. Don’t give your pets sweets
  1.  DO keep your eye on tinsel and ornaments!  When decorating your tree, make sure you hang tinsel and ornaments high enough so your dog or cat can’t get at them.  Tinsel is extremely dangerous if ingested, since it’s so thin it can easily wrap around an animal’s intestines.  Ornaments can be risky as well if broken and chewed on, so you should consider sturdy ornaments that will not break if you’ve got an especially curious cat.
  2. DON’T put candles or lights within reach of paws!  It would be easy for a wagging tail to knock over a burning candle, so make sure to never leave a lit one unattended.  Twinkly lights are beautiful and festive, but sometimes the electrical cords can seem irresistible to a playful puppy or kitty.  (Remember the poor cat in the movie Christmas Vacation?!)  Be cautious, and always unplug cords when you leave the house.
  3. DO educate yourself on hazardous plants/flowers!  We always hear about mistletoe and holly this time of year, but unfortunately, those are two of the most dangerous plants for cats and dogs.  If ingested, they can cause severe problems for your pet and could even be deadly.  Poinsettias and Christmas cactus should also be avoided, though they aren’t as hazardous – these plants can cause irritation in your pet’s mouth.  And lilies, though not necessarily a “Christmas flower”, can cause kidney failure in cats.  Put your holiday plants up high enough where dogs and cats cannot get to them – better yet, get some fake ones instead!
  4. DON’T share your sweets and leftovers with your pet!  We know: It’s hard to resist your furry friend’s begging face.  But it’s just not worth it – there are too many foods that could make your pet very sick.  These include chocolate, unbaked dough, grapes/raisins, and Xylitol (a sugar substitute found in many sweets).  Chicken and turkey bones, though considered by many to be a traditional dog treat, can be very dangerous for Fido and can even cause intestinal blockage or perforation.  Alcohol should also obviously never be shared with your pets.  Make sure the lids of your garbage cans are secure this Christmas, and fill up a Kong with healthy treats to keep your pup busy while you eat.
  5. DO party…just not too hard!  The hustle and bustle of the holidays and the coming and going of guests may be fun for you, but it might not be for your pet.  In fact, it can be quite stressful for them – the constant visitors and activities are confusing.  Make sure your pet has a safe space to retreat to if it all becomes too much.  Teach visiting children how to behave around your dog or cat, and have your guests be respectful of your pet’s space.

Many of these tips may seem like common sense, but they’re all worth keeping in mind during the holiday season, not to mention they could save you a costly trip to the vet!

Everyone here at A.P.E. would like to wish you a safe and happy holiday, and don’t forget:  A.P.E. is always in need of fosters, particularly after the holidays when unwanted “gifts” are often surrendered to us.  Click here to fill out an application to foster!  And in case you haven’t finished your holiday shopping, support A.P.E. by using Amazon Smile!

5 Reasons Pets Shouldn’t Be Presents

During late January and February, there is a significant spike in owner surrenders in shelters everywhere. This is because gift-givers, with good intentions, impulsively surprise loved ones with new pets. This is done without carefully weighing the pros and cons of such a major decision.  People rarely plan well when deciding to give a pet as a gift; it is incredibly risky to surprise someone with such a huge commitment.  Here are 5 reasons you should rethink giving a pet as a gift this Christmas.

5 Reasons Why Pets Should Not Be Christmas Presents

1.  Let’s face it:  The Christmas season is stressful enough.  Everyone is frantically purchasing last-minute gifts.  Family is visiting.  The house is full of kids and relatives.  Ribbons, tinsel, and all sorts of food cover nearly every surface.  Plus, the weather outside is frightful!  Do we really need to add a brand-new pet to all that stress?!  A dog or cat is already sure to be scared and stressed out in a new environment – you can imagine how all the holiday drama would make them feel.  A new pet deserves tons of time and attention, and those are things many people just won’t be able to give this time of year.

2.  Along with a new pet, you may be gifting your loved one with a load of debt.  The majority of pets given as holiday gifts are also given as a surprise.  You think your aunt will just adore the new Yorkie puppy you surprised her with.  And she probably will…but will she also adore the expense that comes with a new pet?  Pets come with a lot of needs, and many of them can be a drain on your finances.  Costs for food, toys, veterinary care, boarding expenses, grooming, etc. may be overwhelming for someone not expecting to receive a pet as a gift.

3.  Impulse purchases usually mean bad decisions.  You’ve been there before:  You go to Target to pick up milk and eggs, and you leave with a cart full of throw pillows and candles.  You see something cute, buy it on impulse, and end up thinking…Was that really a good decision?  Buying a pet as a gift is this x100.  Yes, of course that new puppy is adorable – but is your loved one prepared for all of the potty-accidents, chewing, and play-biting that puppies go through?  Furthermore, have you done your research on breeds?  Australian Shepherd puppies are beautiful, but the breed requires LOTS of exercise – are you prepared for that?  Most of the time, the decision to give a pet as a gift is not given the careful thought it deserves.

4.  Pets are not new toys for your children.  A pet is a commitment and, we believe at A.P.E., a member of the family.  They are not a new toy for your child to play with.  We’ve all seen commercials and movies that show an adorable kid lifting the lid of a box to reveal a new puppy or kitten.  But what those ads don’t show you is what happens later:  The child gets bored with the pet, starts to forget about it, slacks on chores like feeding, picking up after them, and giving them lots of playtime.  The parents then have to pick up the slack, and oftentimes, the pet is returned, given away, or taken to a shelter.  Kids have notoriously short attention spans, and giving them a living creature is NOT a good way to teach responsibility.

5.  Pet store puppies are puppy mill puppies.  Unless a pet store goes out of their way to talk about partnering with a rescue to adopt out pets, they probably get their puppies from a puppy mill.  Reputable breeders will not sell their puppies through a pet store.  The problem here is that gift-givers might see a sign in a window of a pet store advertising adorable puppies and act on impulse.  Chances are they don’t realize where these puppies came from.  Puppy millers tend to rake in the cash around the holidays.  Our suggestion is to just stay away from pet stores that sell puppies and kittens.  Take your loved one to a shelter instead and help them decide which pet is right for them.

The only time a pet should be given as a gift is when the decision has been made by all involved and given plenty of thought, time, and research….and even then, wait until after the holidays, and remember that adoption is the best option!

What else can you do?  What about taking your loved one to an animal shelter and letting them check out their options themselves?  Or show them available animals on Petfinder or another similar site?  (Click here to see our current adoptable animals!)  Purchase books on training a puppy for your loved one – let them decide before making the decision.  Many shelters and rescues offer gift certificates to be used toward an adoption fee once they have found the pet of their dreams.  Since A.P.E. is a chamber member, you can also purchase chamber bucks and use them as gift certificates.

Don’t forget!:  A.P.E. is always in need of fosters, particularly after the holidays when unwanted “gifts” are often surrendered to us.  Click here to fill out an application to foster!  And in case you haven’t finished your holiday shopping, support A.P.E. by using Amazon Smile!

Iowa Animal Partnership: Building the Bridge Between Rescues and Shelters


Have you heard of Iowa Animal Partnership?  Here at A.P.E., we work hand in hand with Iowa Animal Partnership (IAP) – while we serve Iowa with our spay, neuter, vaccination, and microchip services, IAP serves us and other Iowa shelters with food and supplies.  This doesn’t cost shelters and rescues a thing!  In fact, this service maximizes shelter budgets and increases communication between Iowa nonprofits.

Here’s how it works:  IAP receives donations from both the public and other rescues/shelters.  The donations can, of course, be monetary, but IAP is always in need of pet food of all types. During the summer, any garage-sale-type item in good condition will work as a donation. They are able to sell those donations, which will be used to purchase more products for shelters and rescues.  In addition, IAP receives unneeded food and animal supplies from other shelters who, for whatever reason, no longer need them.  Those supplies are then donated to other shelters or rescues in need.

The organization’s volunteers have converted a trailer into a climate-controlled warehouse. Shelters and rescues are able visit this warehouse to shop for items they need. Often, they can find items that they did not know were available.

Currently, they serve 15 counties but are willing to help any licensed nonprofit in Iowa.  Their website states several times that they will never turn away anyone who genuinely needs help caring for an animal.  It’s a win-win for everybody!

For more information, visit Iowa Animal Partnership’s website here or email them at

And don’t forget to support A.P.E. when you are doing your Christmas shopping on Amazon!