Welcome to our blog site. Pictures of the animals on arrival are combined with stories after their rescue.

Timothy O'Leary DVM


Drug House Dog

The Quest

The Quest
The Holy Grail of sticks

Victory Lap

Victory Lap
Buzzing the Geese

Puppy Mill

Puppy Mill
These dogs were among 80 seized via search warrant execution

Puppy Mill

Puppy Mill
Caged for life

Friday, January 8, 2010

Counting Sheep by Laurie O'Leary

One day when my husband, Dr. Tim, Carol his vet tech and Phil from the SPCA were conducting a clinic in the small surgical unit at the sanctuary. I popped in to say "hello". I was home on my lunch hour from work. As I stood in the doorway i could see a lamb under the surgery table huddling against my husbands's legs. "What's that?" I exclaimed. "A lamb" he said. "Duh" I thought. But I guess I served that one up myself. "Why is there a lamb here?" I continued. "Because I don't know where to put it yet" he said. That was my first clue it was staying. "Is it ours?" I inquired. "Looks to be" he answered, "You said you always wanted a sheep". Well, yes it was a little girl fantasy of mine to have a cute woolly sheep, but I had also always wanted to fly yet I wasn't going to jump off any building anticipating it should or would happen.

Apparently Webster had been hauled from an auction by a kind lady that didn't want him to meet the fate she knew he was headed for; he was about lamb chop size. Once she got him home, her husband made some ultimatums. They apparently didn't live rural and he was into landscaping,not only for them,but their neighbors were his "clients" as well. The sheep was to go back to the auction if she didn't have him removed otherwise and quickly. Long story short, she knew some good friends of ours who were supporters of the sanctuary that couldn't resist a homeless sheep and happened to be coming to the clinic for an appointment the next day. Webster was in tow.

When he arrived during the summer, Webster was just a little thing and the goats were using him like Tigers Woods uses a golf ball. He was not safe. We ended up letting him sleep upstairs in the main house in one of the cat areas. He'd run into the house and clatter up the stairs like a fourteen year old girl wearing her first pair of high heels. Webster grew quickly though and was soon moved to the great outdoors with the pigs and the goats. Sheep don't litter train well.

Webster is somewhat of a goat light. Sheep aren't as destructive as goats are, but they're certainly just as mischievous. He also has another downfall that wasn't apparent until fall hit. He of course has a beautiful 100% wool sweater. It was quite lovely in its winter white hue against his black leggings. Unfortunately though with fall comes the maturing of the burdock plants. Ugh! His sweater now looks like a ball of bailing twine. There's no getting them all out, we can only pull a few here and there and hope that he doesn't Velcro himself to something before spring warms up enough for his shaving. Today I had to help Megan, one of the long-haired cats free herself from him. She apparently curled up with Webster for a nap, and well there she was stuck to him like a sucker on a carper. When he stood up she looked like a sidecar. Webster has also taken to chasing 4-wheelers up the road, a sight not to miss. Sheep do not appear to be very useful in the grand scheme of things, but he is something to count on those sleepless nights.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Gericatrics at Almost Home by Laurie O'Leary

They are five in number. The youngest is thirteen three are seventeen and one is an eighteen year old beauty. This would be an energetic, young group if we were talking about people, but Missy, Sassy, Calvin, Clovis and Tortie are a group of elderly cats and the newest residents at Almost Home Animal Sanctuary.

We were contacted by a wonderful rescue group that we've worked with several times now. They were trying to help a couple who had life throw them some unforseen difficulties making it necessary to give up their beloved animals. These folks had been rescuing animals down on their luck for a number of years and many of them were hard to place. These five oldsters were at the top of the list. It's very difficult to find homes for young healthy cats, let alone five seniors at the end of their life-span! Wayne and Susan drove three hours to get their elderly friends to Almost Home. Fighting tears they handed them over to us one at a time and so lovingly told us about each one.

Missy is the oldest and was the first to come forward and greet us. Her little stubby tail stood straight up and her ears perked high. Not a shy bone in this little girl's body! She sniffed and rubbed, and then went on exploring her new situation. Susan explained that her tail was injured badly when she was found as a tiny kitten, a majority of it had to be surgically removed. Missy seems to consider her little furry stub a flag and uses it to let all know she's the head of whatever parade may be in progress. And at Almost Home there's always a parade somewhere.

Sassy was the next to meet us. Sassy is quite a lady, Susan explained. She'll politely wait her turn for the food dish, treats or attention. We've also discovered that Sassy LOVES water and will stand directly in the shower while in use. She's also very vocal and will tell you every story she knows time after time as if she's never mentioned it before.

Calvin is the group's clown. The shyest at first, he now likes to entertain and seems to think everything looks better upside down. I think he would love amusement parks!

When Clovis was initially set loose in his new environment, he wandered around checking out every inch. Since here I haven't seen Clovis react to any of the other animals. It's as if he'd been at Almost Home his whole life. He's a handsome, proper old gent with his gray flannel colored suit and matching white socks and gloves.

Thirteen year old Tortie, the youngest of the group has one eye missing. Susan and Wayne explained her mama tried to cross a major highway with her litter. Mama and several kittens didn't make it. She has occasional seiaures from complications with the injury, but they are infrequent and seem to affect her very little.

We are so happy to be able to help these wonderful new buddies and for Wayne and Susan to know that five of their precious friends are going to live their golden years out happily. We send these kind people our best wishes handling what they must.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

ANIMAL KARMA by timothy o'leary dvm

The farm trails now connect to State land so we run the K-9s, goats and a small gaggle of cats up away from civilization. Last Friday Emma (cruelty case) ran off with Sam ( new arrival West Va. houndy thing) and Bigzy (Katrina pit). Ended up short one Emma.

Searched on horseback without success. No cowboy here. My horse a buckskin named "Burro" (with good reason) resented being separated from his room mate. Sooooo first he tries the "reary uppy move" while I'm leading him. Now in the movies the guy just stands there and holds the reins while he circles around throwing his horsey hissy fit. Did they show the scene where the old cracked reins break off a foot from the horse's head? After a brief delay and fitted with a new steering wheel we set off along with Rudy (German Shorthair Pointer) Sam and Hank (the uninvited horse frightening wolfty looking dog).

At frequent intervals I would stop, stand up in the stirrups and whistle which would be followed by a bellicose winne by Burro calling for his friend. I got pretty good at that. And more confident, so why bother to stop. I whistle by cupping my hands together. So here I am trotting along like an Indian scout in the saddle when suddenly the family jewels are in my chest. The strirrup had broken.

I think my personal best occurred while clinbing out of a ravine. Burro was using his momentum to accelerate up the incline. I was seated leaning to the right, with the edge of the saddle up my butt to counter the natural rotation due to the single stirrup . No problems until my cell phone rang. Naturally the world would end if I didn't answer. Apparently Burro had never heard a cell phone before. Sooooo as we rapidly approach the top of the roller coaster Burro makes his move. Gallop under the leaning tree and see if you can remove the rider's head. Never found my glasses.

Sam sent a rather sleepy raccoon up a tree so of course all had to wait until the dog with the brand new name got bored. Two turkeys and one doe later we were all together again moving through ever more dusky woods (lions and tigers and...).

That was a week ago. Emma is either too embarassed to come home or a coyote has a stomach ache (dogs have a lot of grizzle).

Yesterday Laurie and I decided to go out to lunch for a much needed break in the action. Driving home from her job, she spots three of our pigs and our five goats next to a dairy barn and dangerously close to a particularly nasty neighbor. So much for a quiet lunch. We quickly grab all the pig bribes we can muster and race down the road to recover our little darlings. Of course they had been binge eating on apples for the last mile (kind of like using pennies for bribes).
We pull in to meet the obligatory farm dogs. Doris has pulled a 700# vanishing act and 900#Roy is digging in for a nap. The others are in total opposite direction mode. The first dog was suspicous yet friendly followed by a small brindle pit with a broken face........ Emma.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Reprint Hurricane Katrina OP-ED by T O'Leary DVM


Working to Save Animls in Gulf Coast Chaos
Tuesday, September 27 2005
By Timothy O'Leary DVM

Before long America will develop hurricane burnout. Not for lack of concern or compassion, but because at all levels of government the response ball was kicked "wide left". The recent disaster was another solar plexis punch to our collective egos. The spin doctors are hard at work and soon we will be persuaded to forget what we saw and place are collective heads back into the sand.

In time we will forget those not evacuated, the 2000 missing children on CNN, the decades of levee neglect, the storm deterrent effect of long destroyed marsh land and ,of course, "Mickey "Brown and his Arabian horse qualifications.

People choose their battles and I am very lucky to be involved in the animal care field. With hope, public reaction to the above problems will produce a few politically courageous deidicated leaders to address these issues.

The Humane Society of the US estimated that approximately 50,000 animals were left behind in New Orleans. "Animal people" are an eclectic lot who suffer when animals suffer. Their concern is not jaded by species,breed, or the pets' economic status. When our innocent ones (children and animals) aare facing harm, political, social and economic fences collapse. It is important not to comingle govermental inadequacies with the response of the "person in the street" to the recent tragedies.

Barbara Carr, executive director of the Erie County SPCA, experienced the bureaucratic chaos at the national level with the animal welfare organizations: conflicting information, unanswered e-mails, forms, paper work, delays, wrong numbers, and voice mail all creating general response inertia.

Fortunately for many hundreds of animals, Director Carr took the "Nike" approach and the wonderful people of the much nationally maligned Western New York area made a rapid response happen. Gina Browning, the SPCA spokesperson , went to work raising money. The people of Eire County responded with great generosity. A 12 week rotating contingent of animal help was off to the Big Easy. It was my honor to be part of the first response effort. I was asked to write some comments on my observations and so in no particular order here goes.

The local work load at the Erie County SPCA does not slow down during a national animal emergency. The SPCA is sending its valuable people out of state, leaving more work for those there. When I last saw Gina Browning, she was offering to help clean kennels.

The first animal triage station was set up in a feed and garden center adjacent to the flooded ninth ward. The operation was organized by Dr. Missy Jackson of the Southern Animal Foundation of New Orleans. Dr. Jackson is a classic, timeless, inner-city veterinarian who is a cross between Old Mother Hubbard and a pit bull. She informed me that the "FEM-A**" people forbade her to work on neighorhood pets, "rescued animals only". I told her I had a car full of veterinary supplies and a first-rate assistant (the SPCA"s Joanie D'Aurelio) and proceeded to set up "shop" in the parking lot.

During the drive down, my biggest concern was the fear the government would order the remaining animals to be destroyed as a health and safety risk. Initially, the soldiers were not allowed to rescue animals. It visably affected their morale and created victim resistance. Fortunately a compassionate , grounded military officer somewhere changed all that.

Animal rescue field teams from HSUS, ASPCA, LASPCA and independent fire rescue squads combed the neighborhoods for furry survivors and the rare living person. Soon trucks and boat trailers would line up filled with airline sky kennels containing sick, starving, terrified animals.

The victims presented health hazards via chemical contamination, infectious agents, and bite risk. The chaos created by all those trucks, boats, people and animals simultaneously arriving was overwhelming. Thanks to many local volunteers, we soon got our "land legs", set up a system and got to work.

As the confusion abated, one could look in any direction and see heart warming scenes. Burly firemen cradling small dogs like fullbacks avoiding fumbles, people helping people, red beans and rice and the Cajun woman in floral print dresses bottle feeding kittens in the bird food aisle that could just as well have been a front porch.

An attractive tall woman walked by sporting high water waders with a box of dog treats attached to her shoulder high boot straps. It was reminiscent of film noir night club scenes: "Cigars? Cigarettes?". I could envision her wading through the toxic waters: "Kibble? Pupperoni?" The image detracted from the danger to which she exposed herself. Man hole covers flew off as flood waters rose.

The French Quarter was bruised but dry. The center island of canal street became a row of makeshift television studios. I witnessed three police officers entering an office building shadowed by a flock of television crews.

I saw New York police assisting New Orleans police. I didn't see any FDNY personnel but I'll bet they were there. The protectors of one wounded city helping another. Even inept governments can't mess that up. I must admit, my first impression while viewing the NOPD, NYPD, and the 82nd airborne working in tandem was YIKES!!! I promptly crossed looting off my "Things to Do" list.

The air was hot and humid with a pervasive stench of rotting garbage and chemical laden mud punctuated at times with the putrid smell of something dead. Hopefully just a rat.

Each animal would be given a number, a medical record, and a description of where or how it was found. Even local volunteers were at times unsure.

Many dogs and cats required toxic chemical deris removed. Most needed their eyes flushed. Most were emaciated and nervous. Some had blunt physical trauma or bite wounds and a few had been shot. Many were sick from water ingestion. Others clearly were victims prior to the hurricane.

As night curfew approached, animal rescue vehicles became animal transport trucks moving the former pets 45 slow miles to the Lamar Dixon Expo Center (in Gonzales, La). The animal equivalent of the Super Dome. Five enormous equine stables would serve as the world's largest kennel. The number of animals rose to 2400, then 3500. The order from "above" was to take no more. Ultimately, some 200 full cages were left unattended at the Jefferson Feed Center (emergency animal housing location in New Orleans). Alternative animal staging areas were declined due to "liability issues".

The pressure to move animals out of Lamar Dixon, coupled with stone age office skills and all those chiefs created an enormous second wave of orphan animals. Referring homeless victims to Petfinder.com came up a little short considering the low number of computers in the Ninth Ward prior to the hurricane,let alone after.

At the end of the 24 hour day, the volunteers made it all somehow work. They cleaned the cages, fed the horses, birds, cats, dogs, and reptiles. They were the people who helped and then consoled those who left again without their much loved pet.

They are animal people.

When someone is drowning, the average person doesn't consult his supervisor or worry about liability issues before throwing a life preserver. As the parish (county) leader said, "Send another idiot, a beter idiot, just not the same idiot".

Saturday, June 7, 2008

What Gets My Goat? By Laurie O'Leary

Hmmm... well, first of all let's talk about what get's my lilacs. I happen to love lilacs and have over the years planted several trees so that I have many colors and fragrances this time of year. With that said I'm now at war trying to save that which is precious to me - my lilacs! "So, what's the problem" you're thinking "my lilacs are fine". That might be because you don't have goats - something I can no longer say. Here's a fact that I know without even using Google - GOATS LOVE LILACS - and I don't think it's the fragrance or the ambiance. They simply find them delicious. Now your logical brain is saying why did you get goats? Answer: Because they were headed for auction and most assuredly would be slaughtered for someone's dinner (yes, some people eat goats). Their alternative was Almost Home. It didn't take much...Dr. Tim said get into the van or be sold for meat - take your pick. They got into the van. Okay, possibly the fact that we had cracked corn and hay in the van and actually pushed them in may have moved things along. May I say these are very ungrateful goats? They are rewarding our efforts to preserve their lives by eating our lilacs. I might add that our hostas aren't safe. either. I also saw a twinkle in their eyes when they saw me circling things in the Burpee seed catalog. I know they're planning their attack on my garden - stay tuned!

These goats are a group of three. Little Miss Gretchen has a shiny black coat and wears dramatic eye make-up. She's your typical adolescent, including thinking she knows what's best for her whether we agree or not. May I mention she doesn't hesitate to tell us. Her brother Higgins was sporting the unicorn look. He lost one of his horns to splitting and infection. It needed to come off. It grew back, but with a mind of its own and curls at a very strange angle. Then there's their cousin, Powder - our little white wonder. Powder is a perfect name for him because when you tell him "NO", your very words disintegrate into powder.

Do I wish Almost Home had stayed out of this? Do I wish we would have just let things happen as they would? NO!!! I find every day more interesting with Gretchen, Higgins and Powder. What smart, inquisitive animals the are. I've never known such curiosity and creativity. For instance...they make up games. Gretchen has one in particular that she loves. We call it kitty cocoa butt. Here are the rules: When there are a group of cats in the goat barn (which is all the time - they share quarters with the feral cats), every time a kitty hits the floor you run at it with your head down like you're going to gore it (this is only if you're a goat - if you do this and you're a person, you could be hospitalized for evaluation). Then the kitty jumps back up onto whatever upper surface it is near and another one jumps down. The chase is then on in cocoa butt position. That kitty jumps up and another jumps down. You get the drift. I believe the cats think you can kill a goat with exhaustion. The great thing is when the game is over and all are tired, they all curl up and sleep together.

What still throw me into absolute wails of laughter even when I'm all alone is trying to lead a goat on a rope. It's just too funny. Our little dears wear collars. When we need to get them from point A to point B we put a leash on them. Then the antics begin. Just a little tug sends the now captured goat into a fit that highly resembles a very severe seizure. We jump up into the air, landing on our backs, bleating as if a knife was just thrust into a main artery. Then another tug on the rope will put them on their backs being literally dragged. When you stop, they stand up and start the rock star leap into the air again. It's really a sight to behold.

Life has changed at Almost Home adding another species. But to think that these little guys would have been slaughtered makes me cringe. I'm grateful for what they have added to an already magical place.

If you wish to help Almost Home with your donations, they can be sent to Almost Home Animal Sanctuary, 6251 Hart Road, Little Valley, N.Y. 14755, and your donations are tax deductible! We thank you!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Please,Please Don't Eat the Daisy!

Dr. Tim had occasion to be on site at the Erie County SPCA and happened to mention that there was a pig from another SPCA that was possibly coming to Almost Home Animla Sanctuary. It had been comficated from a cruelty case and needed a place to safely live out its life. The response he got was "Wait, you have to take our pig! please take our pig too." "I'm not taking Henna', he said, "She loves it here". Henna is a very large pig that's been with the Erie County SPCA for many years. She's very loved, very comfortable in her beautiful pen and helps with the SPCA's farm animal education. "No, not Henna", she said. 'Let me show you." Out to the SPCA's barnyard they went. There was Henna in her pile of fresh straw with her food and water dishes full and her lovely name plaque on her fence that gave her the clout of a very spoiled pig.

Dr. Tim then glanced over at the pen next to Henna's. There was a much smaller pig with a dirty pen, no visible straw, tipped over dishes and a pile of rocks and bricks for a bed. See, his SPCA compnaion said. She's giving us really bad P.R. We get complaints because people think we're mistreating her. "Why is her pen full of rocks and bricks?" Tim asked. And therein was discovered the problem. It ws explained to him that Daisy was just a piglet a short time ago when the SPCA got a a call that she was running down the main street in a neighboring city, most likely an escapee on her way to market or auction, eventually headed into the food chain. When she came to the SPCA, she quickly became cage crazy, a condition that some animals suffer when confinement is intolerable to them. In her boredom, Daisy did what bored pigs do, she rooted. And she rooted, and she rooted and she rooted. Unfortunately, her pen was butted up against the SPCA's main building. She was literally bringing up the foundation. They were in danger of structural problems. This obsessive rooting also quickly buried her fresh straw and water, making it appear that she wasn't given any.

Being the adventurous type that he is, Dr. Tim agreed to bring Daisy to Almost Home Animal Sanctuary. We were both pig rookies, but I've learned so much in the last few weeks that you'd think I had a brain transplant. For instance, did you know pigs are the fourth most intelligent species on earth, only below humans, primates and dolphins? I've learned it well enough that I'm careful not to let her see the password for my cell phone or where I keep my car keys. We've also learned what sweet, personable creatures pigs are. Daisy very quickly settled into a routine at the sanctuary and is a vital part of the whole wonderful gang.

In the mornings, it has been Dr. Tim's tradition to start the day out walking...well at first the dogs and a few of the cats that liked to tag along. Shortly thereafter I'd see him heading for the walking path surrounded by happy dogs, several cats trailing behing and a small group of goats that don't want to miss a thing. My morning look out the window is now much more amusing as I watch Tim walking in the center of a group of dogs, just head of a few trailing cats, mixed in with a bunch of curious goats and a very happy pig trotting along behind. Who needs Animal Planet?

We have also learned where the terms "pig out" and "eating like a pig" come from. Pigs obviously live for cuisine. And "when pigs fly" is not such a far fetched concept. You should see this pretty pink girl when she's up in the woods and we call her for lunch. She literally gallops down the path and through the yard, and yes, they can smile! The sanctuary has taken on a whole new dynamic by adding Daisy to the mix. And we're so grateful she had the good sense to bail out before she got to wherever she was going that fateful day she ended up with the SPCA. It would have been a shame for this sweet girl to end up in a slaughter house. Stay tuned, her boyfriend is set to arrive in the near future. Fortunately, Roy is neutered!

Almost Home Animal Sanctuary is a 501(C)3 not for profit organization. Your donations to the sanctuary are tax deductible and go 100% to helping the animals. They can be sent to Almost Home, 6251 Hart Rd., Little Valley, N.Y. 14755 and are greatly needed and appreciated.