Sweet Pea’s Maternity Ward is open! The idea for a maternity ward at our Town Lake Animal Center (TLAC) site came from the need to be able to immediately save a pregnant mom or mommy dog and her babies at a moment’s notice. Pregnant moms and their families are two groups highly at risk at Austin Animal Center (AAC) because they are not eligible for adoption until eight-weeks-old, so they take up kennel space that the city cannot spare. They can also be tricky to place in foster as the responsibility for caring for a mom and her babies for an eight-week duration is a long commitment. So, in order to be able to take them in immediately while we wait for foster homes to come forward, we needed a solution: a special space just for them, a maternity room!
The namesake of the ward is Sweet Pea. Sweet Pea is a recent intake from Austin Animal Center (AAC) who came to us very pregnant during AAC’s overcrowding crisis earlier this season. While we plead and plead for fosters, we had no one come forward to take this baby momma and give her a place to have her babies in peace. So, being the sucker that I am – I took her!
And, it could not have been more rewarding. I would do it 100 times over. Sweet Pea was as pregnant as we estimated: three days into being home with me she had NINE babies. I was so thankful I was in a position to make sure her seven-hour delivery went smoothly, everyone was healthy, and she had the clean, comfortable space she needed to nurse, and constant food and water to keep her energy up to take care of her brood.
Moving forward, I wanted to make sure that had another dog, like her, come into our program we had the right accommodations to provide to take the best care of her and make this experience as pleasant as possible. So I happily took on the project of getting the maternity ward squared away.
Made possible by a private donor, we were able to convert one of the former administrative offices into two condo-style runs. When contemplating on the construction, we had two main goals in mind: safety and privacy. The runs are separated by a thick, nearly 5-foot high partition. And, each run has a secure door with frosting spray on the glass so the neighboring dog is not disturbed by caretakers or the other dog coming out of their run for a walk. We put in two dim-lighted lamps so we can keep the overhead fluorescent lights off, and keep the space calm and den-like. A CD player is also left on with music to drown out some of the unavoidable shelter sounds. The air-conditioned space also has its own stash of supplies and everything our volunteers need to keep these families comfortable while they wait for foster.
Coincidentally, the morning the maternity ward was ready to officially open, we had our first family in need. Butterfly and her seven puppies were found under a house by a Good Samaritan who kept them for two-weeks to get them over the most risky period after birth, but then had to surrender them to AAC. As soon as we were told Butterfly and her babies needed us, we were able to take them into our program immediately because of the maternity room. We are thrilled this sweet Inaugural Family was able to benefit from our new resource.
While Butterfly and her babies are enjoying the new space, a home is always better. Please consider signing up to foster our families by filling out our foster application. If you are not in a position to foster, our immediate ward supply needs will always be training pads, cleaning supplies, such as Swiffer wet clothes and Clorox wipes, and high-calorie wet food for the moms. Please also consider a donation to our medical program as we strive to save all animals, no matter how big or small, who are at risk in the city shelter.
To follow Butterfly and her babies, and the other families that go through our maternity ward, follow their facebook page.
We are excited to add this tremendous resource to our program and continue to keep up our no kill commitment to the City of Austin.