We’re Helping Scared Dogs Cope and Find Families

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Dr. Karyn Carlson with one of the first dogs who benefited from our Trazodone medication donation. When this injured dog came in, she could not be touched and tried to bite. After a few days of TLC and Trazodone, she gave kisses to the doctor.

Dr. Karyn Carlson with one of the first dogs who benefited from our Trazodone  donation. When this injured dog came in, she could not be touched. After a few days of TLC and Trazodone, she gave kisses to the doctor.

Soon after she started working for Pima Animal Care Center this summer, Dr. Karyn Carlson came to us with an urgent request. She’d noticed many dogs who were exceptionally stressed in PACC’s old and overcrowded shelter, and she suspected that Trazodone, a gentle anti-anxiety aid that she’d prescribed to dogs in other settings, could help many of them cope.

“PACC veterinarians have no inexpensive and DEA uncontrolled medications available for alleviating extreme levels of fear, phobia and anxiety-related behavior in dogs,” Dr. Carlson told us in her grant request.

With support from friends like you, we were able to grant PACC a 3-month supply of Trazodone, a medication that the county could not currently buy. Dr. Carlson tells us the gift is helping the shelter save the lives of dogs who are showing signs of stress like self-injury, attempted biting and storm anxiety.

In the vast majority of cases, Dr. Carlson said, these dogs don’t exhibit these anxious behaviors once they are out of the shelter. But if they are showing these behaviors when they are in the shelter, it greatly decreases their chances of being adopted.

“Trazodone just helps the dogs not feel like the walls are closing in on them,” Dr. Carlson explained.

The donation has helped PACC treat the anxiety of close to 100 dogs, many of whom have already found loving families.

One such dog is Honey, below, a young Greyhound / Pit Bull mix whose first family surrendered her to PACC due to their allergies. When we first met Honey, she was cowering in the back of her kennel. After Dr. Carlson put her on a Trazodone regimen, Honey began to come out of her shell.

honey collage for WP

We helped PACC doctors treat Honey’s anxiety. Photos by Michael Kloth Photography.

Honey eventually caught the attention of Linda B., an Oro Valley resident who took Honey home. On her first night home, Linda gave Honey one calming Trazodone dose to help her settle in.

After that, Linda said, Honey didn’t need the medication, as she adjusted perfectly to life outside of the shelter — just like Dr. Carlson predicted.

“Thank you so much,” Linda said. “I really love this animal.”

Today Dr. Carlson said the Medical Team is working with PACC volunteers to identify other dogs who might need a little help weathering shelter stress.

“The Trazodone pilot is going great,” Dr. Carlson tells us. “Our dogs seem to be responding very well to it, and we have several long-termers on it.”

oakland - 527038 adopted

Oakland’s stress lessened and he found a family.

Dr. Carlson cited the case of Oakland (right). A 2-year-old Pit Bull mix, Oakland came to PACC in July, after one of the shelter’s Animal Care Officers rescued him from a backyard where he was being kept without food or water. He was very thin, and the Medical Team helped bring him back to health.

“He was here for 2 months. About a month into his stay, he became very reactive at people walking by,” Dr. Carlson said. “We started him on Trazodone and he would then calmly approach the kennel door wagging when people stopped to look at him…..shortly thereafter, he got adopted!”

Oakland’s is just one of dozens of happy endings made possible by your generosity.

In the words of Dr. Carlson: “Thank you Friends of PACC!!”