The Conservators Center Update

It is with a happy heart that I get to report on the goings on at the Conservators Center as a part of our spotlight on animal organizations. So many things have happened there since I last wrote The Story of Several Servals back in March that I thought it was time for an update. The folks at the Center have been very busy fighting the wording of House Bill 554, raising funds for the summer care of their animals (who have been painting up a storm), and welcoming a new member to their animal family. Below is a quick review of what is going on with my favorite place to meet Lions, Tigers, Wolves… and now, a Coyote!

House Bill 554

If you receive our newsletter, you might have seen that the Center was facing some serious concerns with a new bill (House Bill 554) which was intended to protect the public from harmful wild animals. The issue with said bill continuing the way it was written was that it would require many legitimate organizations to shut down and could have led to the euthanization of some animals. Places like the Conservators Center, Duke Lemur Center, and other wildlife sanctuaries open to the public would no longer be able to function under the conditions specified, since they give guided tours of their facilities in order to help raise funds to care for the animals, as well as to educate and promote conservation. After many polite emails to all the right people and much discussion of the bill on voting day, it was announced that the bill would be reworded and that the Conservators Center and other facilities with the same purpose would not be forced to close. There are still a few issues with the bill as it has been changed, mostly related to technical language and industry concepts that are hard to negotiate, but as it stands, the Conservators Center and many similar places around the state can remain open and active. If you wrote to your legislators, I thank you, and I know the Center thanks you as well.

Meet Sullivan!

At around the same time, a small pup was found along the side of a local road and taken in by some well-intentioned people who thought they had found a feral dog. At the first visit to their vet, they were in for quite a surprise when they discovered they had a small coyote on their hands. Sadly, because it can be easy to mistake a coyote pup for a coyote-dog cross or for a feral dog, the coyote had been taken into the home of humans and treated as a puppy would be and it was impossible for him to be re-released into his wild home. It wasn’t long before the Conservators Center was contacted and the pup was given a new home, with trainers and handlers who are used to working with wild animals.

sullivan the coyote pup

Sullivan as a pup. – Photo by Taylor Hattori Images

The Conservators Center had a naming contest for Sullivan as a part of their summer costs fundraising campaign and one lucky person who donated got to pick the perfect name. Over time, the Center has posted videos of Sulli playing and howling with his handlers. Regular followers on Facebook and Twitter have been able to watch him grow and there is certainly no doubt that this little guy is a coyote! Both playful and handsome, he has begun greeting visitors and is available for lifetime adoption. I cannot wait to get out and meet him next time I go through on a tour.

(The Conservators Center also gained another New Guinea Singing Dog named Mouse, as a friend for Tsumi, who had lost her companion earlier in the year.)

twitter post

Recent Twitter post from the Conservators Center

Keeping Animals Cool

This time of year is comfortable for the lions and some other animals who live at the Conservators Center and are used to a warm climate, but for the tigers, binturongs, and others, heat is not a condition they would regularly be familiar with. It takes a lot of work and effort to help keep these animals comfortable in the hot summer months in the southern state of North Carolina, where we don’t just deal with heat, we deal with humidity and heat indexes that can get over 105 on any given day. This is a time when the Conservators Center needs a lot of help in the form of donations.

Money raised at this time of year helps to pay for things such as outdoor fans, wading pools, shade cloths and hammocks, water hoses and reels, pest control, and all the bills that go with constantly running fans and changing the water in wading pools several times a day. There are so many things the Center needs at this time of year that donations are a real, true blessing, and one of the ways they are raising money is by selling paintings…

Animals and Art

From July 23rd through September 4th the Conservators Center is teaming up with the Alamance County Arts Council to produce an exhibit of over 50 pieces of art created by the animals at the Center. These aren’t just paw prints on paper, these are beautiful masterpieces, blending color and texture onto real canvases. How do they do it? The humans at the Center base coat the canvas with a safe tempera paint, let that dry, then add liquid paints enhanced with smells that the animals like (cinnamon, perfume, etc) and allow the animals to rub, sniff, and otherwise interact with the canvas as they would with an object in nature that stimulated their senses. Sometimes you get claw or tooth marks along with the prints from the fur, but that is all part of each animal’s interaction with their canvas. This is an enrichment activity that the humans are specially trained to administer and is fully enjoyable by the animals. No one is ever forced to paint and the activity has been going on for ten years now.

Typically the paintings go up for auction, but this year they are going on display, as well as being available for purchase through the Alamance County Arts Council. There are several pictures that were posted of this year’s artwork, but my personal favorite has to be “Introversions” by Ugmo Lion and Kira Lion. (I mean, come on. This is Your Pet Space, of course I’m going to show you artwork by a lion named Kira.)


Description of the art and artists by the Conservators Center website:

Ugmo Lion and Kira Lion are different in a lot of ways. Ugmo is enjoying her golden years; Kira is still in the prime of her life. Ugmo was rescued from a negligent breeding facility in 2004; Kira was entrusted to the Center by a reputable zoo. They even live in separate enclosures, but they have one thing in common: both of them live with an extrovert! Ugmo’s roommate, Kiara, is a social butterfly, quick to greet her favorite human friends and receive endless amounts of attention. And Kira’s roommate—Arthur, a white tiger—is the star of the Conservators Center. But Ugmo and Kira don’t mind. Most of the time, they can be found lounging in the back of their enclosures, looking on with soft smiles as their bright, unreserved roomies ham it up in the front. This painting is an exploration of the joy of introversion: the luxury of resting quietly in dark shadowy places, with no pressure to perform or act outside of one’s nature—and how wonderful it is to know you are just as valued and adored as your more gregarious counterparts.

Kira's paw

Kira Lion – wild paw at work. Photo by Taylor Hattori

The last of the major events that has happened at the Conservators Center was a surgery for Kiara Lion, who was slowly changing in her old age. Her temperament wasn’t what it used to be and the folks at the Center requested the help of Dr. Doug Ray from the Animal Hospital of Mebane. With the help of students from the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Doug performed a spay and exploratory surgery in order to be certain that her hormonal imbalance could be corrected and her emotional state set to the right place again.


Doug teaches Sarah about the anesthesia machine. It was donated by a dedicated group of Lifetime Adopters who wanted to ensure good surgical outcomes for our geriatric residents, who are the most at risk when we must administer anesthesia.

This is yet another example of the wonderful opportunities that the Conservators Center makes possible for education and outreach. It is because of this wonderful group that the Carnivore Team at NCSU were able to participate in a big cat surgery, and it is because of this same group that members of the community get to meet Kiara and all of the other animals that would normally be so far from us. For these things and so much more, many members of the animal kingdom and animal lovers everywhere are forever grateful.

The full story of Kiara’s surgery can be found on their website.

All images and image descriptions are used from the Conservators Center website, with permission on the condition that we give credit to photographers as was noted.

Mirrani Houpe, YPS Staff Member

Mirrani Houpe, our Small Animal Editor, has had rats since she took home her first little boy once they both completed the second grade. Since that time she has owned, rescued and bred many kinds of rats, from many backgrounds. She may not be a vet, psychology major, or scientist, but her babies have her very well trained when it comes to how to care for them. She is constantly working with her family’s veterinarian to come up with new and innovative ways to love and care for the most often misunderstood rodent in the pet world. You can e-mail her at

Who Is Broken Promises SW?

Broken Promises logo

Broken Promises SW is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization seeking to end animal overpopulation by spaying and neutering animals in Las Cruces, NM and Dona Ana County. We offer spay/neuter assistance, help with addressing feral cat overpopulation humanely through TNR, and rescue of injured pigeons, doves, chickens, and other birds. We operate a sanctuary that is home to rescued cats, doves, pigeons, hens, a few roosters, and a turkey named Sorrell. We also have two resident feral cats, Gary and Alan, who keep an eye on the sanctuary while we’re tending to other things.
We don’t “take” cats from people’s property – all the cats we trap are returned after they are surgically sterilized, ear tipped, and given rabies and FVRCP vaccines. We sometimes will take adoptable stray cats and young feral kittens to socialize and adopt out through one of the rescue groups we partner with when time and space allows; these occasions are rare given the volume of feral cats we regularly trap, but openings do pop up on occasion.


Our services are offered at no-charge, but we are a small organization that runs on donations so any amount is appreciated. If you are unable to afford a donation it will have no affect on the quality of care and help you and your cats will receive. We accept cash/check donations at our PO Box and credit card donations through Paypal here.

You can visit us on Facebook here as well.

This post was sent in by submitted by Joe Miele with Broken Promises SW.  If you’d like to write a post about your non profit org, we’d love to see it!  Just check out our submission guidelines at this page. 

Homeless With Pets

man cares for dog

Shortly after Dave and I moved to New Mexico, I began noticing how many of the homeless people here have pets with them.  There’s a mission here in town that we visited about six weeks after we arrived.  They have a food kitchen, and we wanted to take some donations there for Thanksgiving dinner.  Next to the food kitchen was an office where people needing work could sign up to be helped.  And outside, along with all the downhearted, poverty stricken people, were their pets.

A few weeks after that, we were exploring a new part of town, looking for a particular store in a strip center, when a homeless man walked by carrying a guitar…and at his feet walked a perky little puppy, head held high–just like any other dog, happy to be walking at his master’s side.

Most recently, Dave and I went to the local farm coop store where we buy our humanely produced meats and organic produce.  Outside on that particular day, enjoying the warm February weather, was a homeless man and his two dogs.

All of these encounters made me start thinking about the percentage of homeless people that have pets…and how in the world they manage to care for them when they can barely get along themselves…

homeless with pets

Why Do Homeless People Have Pets?

We’ve all read the stories of, and some of us may even personally know, people that had children hoping to be loved.  Then the children went on to betray or disappoint the parents.  In some cases the children are even abused or neglected–all because human beings seldom are able to fulfill the expectations others set for them–love not withstanding.

But the love of a pet doesn’t work that way.  Without judgement or agenda, against all odds and reason, they simply love.  And for the homeless, this may be needed most of all.

Man with dog

Meet Chris and Brandy. Chris is very protective of his pet, since a previous dog was taken by Animal Control because she was unlicensed.

Where Do The Homeless Come From?

Statistics tell us that in the U.S., more than 3.5 million people experience homelessness each year. 35% of the homeless population are families with children, which is the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. 23% are U.S. military veterans.  But…who are they really?

I saw an interview once with Neale Donald Walsch, the author of the Conversations With God series.  In it, he revealed that he had spent a year on the street as a homeless person.

Before, Walsch worked variously as a radio station program director, newspaper managing editor, and in marketing and public relations. In the early 1990s he suffered a series of crushing blows—a fire that destroyed all of his belongings, the break-up of his marriage, and a car accident that left him with a broken neck. Once recovered, but alone and unemployed, he was forced to live in a tent in Jackson Hot Springs, just outside Ashland, Oregon, collecting and recycling aluminium cans in order to eat. At the time, he thought his life had come to an end.

When asked why he hadn’t turned to his children for help, he replied that there were two reasons: 1) he thought every day would be his last and 2) he was too ashamed.  He went on to add:

“Don’t pass anybody on the street,” Neale says. “We’ve all got a quarter or a dime or a dollar or a fiver, that we can let go of. And you can make somebody’s whole day with 50 cents or a dollar. So try never, ever, ever to pass anybody in need. When you see them holding up the sign, ‘Will Work for Food’ or when they walk up and ask for a little bit, share. Share. If you see somebody on the street who’s got his hand out, try to get off your judgment and be generous.”

What’s important to remember is that in a world where one missed paycheck, an abusive spouse or a serious medical condition can put someone out of their home, not every homeless person is dangerous or lazy.

homeless man with dog

How Many Homeless With Pets Are There?

The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that between 5%-10% of homeless people have dogs and/or cats.  It could be more like 25% in rural areas.  These numbers may differ across the country due to a number of factors: weather, the local economy, and the cost of living.

homeless dog gets water

How Can The Homeless With Pets Care For Them?

When I saw the man at the shopping center, though, the first thing that struck me was how the dog didn’t know its dire situation.  He just pranced along in the sunlight, happy to go wherever his man went.  But I wondered for a long time after we gave him money for food, how the man would prevent fleas or heartworm for this wee puppy.  What would he do if the dog were injured?

Even the kindest benefactor often won’t approach a homeless person on the street to offer help for their pet.  And many homeless are fearful if they accept, their pet will be taken away from them.  Often, their pets are the only comfort they have, and their only link to reality.

homeless man with cat

Luckily, there are organizations that can help.  Chief of these is Feeding Pets Of The Homeless. They are a nonprofit volunteer organization that provides pet food and veterinary care to the homeless with pets in local communities across the United States and Canada.  For us here in Las Cruces, New Mexico, the local agency that distributes food and medical care for pets of the homeless is Action Programs for Animals, whom we have worked with in the past and plan to again in future.

Here’s a video about their important work:

Many of our readers follow us from Albuquerque and our home town of Cincinnati, Ohio.  There, you can contact these local distribution centers:

St. Martin’s Hospitality Center
1201 3rd St. NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102

Cincinnati Pet Food Pantry
2319 Madison Ave.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45212

Pets In Need
520 W. Wyoming Ave
Cincinnati, Ohio 45215

Faith and Deeds Food Pantry
6921 Morgan Rd., Unit A
Cleves, Ohio 45002

If your city isn’t listed here, Feeding Pets Of The Homeless has an awesome search feature on their website.

man holds umbrella over dog

Shelter for the homeless with pets is somewhat more problematical.  However, if you are homeless due to domestic violence, you can contact:

Albuquerque, NM

SAFE House


Statewide New Mexico

Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM)
Companion Animal Rescue Effort (CARE)
CARE Hotline: 844-323-CARE
ADMIN: 505-265-2322

Batavia, Ohio (Cincinnati area)

YWCA House of Peace
513-753-7281 or 1-800-644-4460

Another Resource for The Homeless

Sunrise House

Word of mouth travels quickly in homeless communities.  Once a food bank or soup kitchen starts distributing pet food, they come.  Some find out about the programs through the websites by accessing the internet at public libraries.

It is our sincere hope that someone reading this post finds the answers they seek here.


Joy Jones

Joy Jones, our Editor In Chief, is a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave in Las Cruces, New Mexico. When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column, as well as urban fantasy and humor. You can e-mail her at as well as send her a friend request on Facebook.

Our Ultimate Guide To Animal Charities–Part 2

Ok, remember that best animal charities list we gave you at Christmas?  Well, here’s part 2 to help with your Valentine gifting!  🙂  Maybe one thought for your sweetheart that’s “hard to buy for” is to donate on their behalf to an animal charity.  AND, even if you did use our list from the holidays, here are even more places you can donate!

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League For Animal Welfare–Cincinnati, Ohio

Founded in 1949, they are one of the oldest and largest no kill shelters in their area.  Become a monthly or one time sponsor, or help them out by donating a vehicle!

Lil Paw Prints Logo

Lil Paw Prints Animal Rescue Haven–Cincinnati, Ohio

A completely self funded non profit, this is one of the best animal charities and rescues that operates entirely out of foster homes.  They help find homes for dogs, birds, ferrets, event sugar gliders!

 Marine Mammal Center logo

Marine Mammal Center–Sausalito, CA

This is the best of the California animal charities to learn all about ocean environments.  This organization rescues and rehabilitates marine mammals suffering from malnourishment, entanglements, separation and diseases.


PAWS logo

Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)–Galt, CA

As its name suggests, this organization is one of the best animal charities dedicated to the welfare of animal artists, but also the ongoing care of captive wildlife that has been abused, abandoned and retired from the industry.


PetSmart Charities–Phoenix, AZ

Your Pet Space is proud to serve as a product affiliate for one of the best animal charities in Arizona. This worthy organization that saves more the 400,000 pets per year by granting more than 34 million dollars to animal welfare groups.  You can help by visiting their main page, as well as purchasing pet products through Your Pet Supply Space.

STAF logo

Save The Animals Foundation–Cincinnati, Ohio

For more than 25 years, one of the best animal charities in southern Ohio has been organizing fun events like spinning to raise funds and attending My Furry Valentine to highlight their pets for adoption.  They’ve saved literally hundreds of lives with just a single event!

Wildlife Conservation Society logo

Wildlife Conservation Society–Bronx, NY

Founded in 1895, this organization saves not only wildlife but wild places–everywhere from the Congo to the Rockies–through science, conservation, education and inspiration!  They supply grants to other non-profit conservation organizations, state wildlife agencies, and tribal governments.

We’d love to hear about anyone out there who gave a gift from our lists to someone you love.  Let us hear from you!  

Joy Jones

Joy Jones, our Editor In Chief, is a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave in Las Cruces, New Mexico. When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column, as well as urban fantasy and humor. You can e-mail her at as well as send her a friend request on Facebook.

Our Ultimate Guide To Animal Charities–Part 1

Got your holiday shopping finished yet?  Maybe one thought for that person on your “hard to buy for” list is to donate on their behalf to an animal charity…

Because it’s that time of year, the other day Dave and I attended an event here in Las Cruces where people were giving donations to a local animal shelter.  Even though we had come prepared, as I handed my items to the woman behind the table, I couldn’t help feeling as though I wished we could do so much more.  But in this day and age, very few of us can afford to be pet philanthropists, as much as we love animals.  And there are so many places in need!  How can we know that not only are we donating enough, but that what we give is being used in the best possible way?

Which Are The Best Animal Charities?

Here’s a list we’ve put together of the very best animal charities, both locally and nationally.  We have searched in the areas of the majority of our visitors to the site within the last 30 days…as well as found a few more!

APA header

ACTion Programs For Animals–Las Cruces, NM

Located in Southern New Mexico since May 2012, they have rescued more than 1245 animals. The majority of these have been dogs and cats/kittens pulled from the local municipal shelter. Among other awesome projects, they distribute pet food to needy local pet owners on a regular basis.

aha logo

American Humane Association–Washington, DC

Started in 1877, this organization began by bringing to the attention of the American public the abuse of children, and then moved on to animals.  They are still going strong, but need the help of pet owners nationwide to continue their good work.

Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley–Las Cruces, NM

Begun in a joint venture between the City of Las Cruces and Dona Ana County in 2008, this Southern New Mexico organization exists to give safe shelter to all abandoned, lost or mistreated animals in their area.  Among other services, they provide affordable spay/neutering and micro-chipping, and are always in need of donations.

awi logo

Animal Welfare Institute–Washington, DC

Since 1951, AWI has been working for better treatment of animals in all situations, from the laboratory to the field.  They are instrumental in educating the public on humane treatment of animals and wildlife conservation.  Make a compassionate donation for animals to AWI this holiday season.

BARCS logo

BARCS–Baltimore, MD

Created in July 2005 to take over the operations of the city shelter and to work directly with Baltimore City Animal Control, BARCS takes in homeless, neglected, and unwanted animals.  They offer low cost vaccinations of pets, and offer such events as the Bow Wow Meow Luau and Pawject Runway!

barktown logo

Barktown Rescue–Boston, KY

Founded in August 2009 by just two volunteers, this rescue works entirely from foster homes, and does not even have a shelter.  Almost all of the dogs they rescue are scheduled to be euthanized before Barktown steps in.  You can help not only with donations, but offering to foster if you are in their area.

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Best Friends Animal Society–Albuquerque,NM/San Antonio, TX

These no kill shelters rescue and rehabilitate pets abandoned in divorce, after property foreclosure, death in the family, or due to economic or behavioral problems.  They work with local shelters in many towns to create initiatives to save pets.

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Cherished K9 Rescue–Las Cruces, NM

This is another group that is working hard to help abandoned and lost pets without a shelter, but purely through foster homes.  If you live in the greater Las Cruces area, please consider fostering or donating this holiday season.

Cincinnati Pit Crew–Cincinnati, Ohio

This Ohio Valley rescue works very hard to overcome the stigma of breed specific legislation and ensure happy, safe homes for bully breed dogs.  Visit their Amazon wishlist to see how you can help.

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D.E.L.T.A. Rescue–Glendale, California

D.E.L.T.A. Rescue is the largest “No Kill, Care-for-Life,” Sanctuary of its kind in the world. Founded in 1979, D.E.L.T.A. Rescue has a full-time construction crew on staff to continually expand, repair and fence as more and more rescued animals are brought into the facility.

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Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International–Atlanta, GA

If you’ve ever seen Gorillas In The Mist, then you can appreciate the important work done by these folks promoting continuing research on Africa’s gorillas and their ecosystems. Adopt a gorilla this holiday season and help save other gorillas!

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Farm Sanctuary–Watkins Glen, NY

Farm Sanctuary was founded in 1986 to combat the abuses of factory farming and encourage a new awareness and understanding about farm animals.  Since then, they’ve been inspiring change and vegan living with compassion.

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Friends of Animals–Darien, CT

Since 1957, FoA has been working with animal advocacy issues.  They’ve partnered with more than 600 vets in 30 states to lower costs of spay/neuter.  They even have their own Wildlife Law Program to assist activists!

great dane el paso rescue logo

Great Dane Rescue of El Paso–El Paso, TX

Want to help dogs while you shop?  This rescue is a Community Partner participating with Albertson’s Grocery Stores.  Simply keep their card on your keychain to be swiped and you can help these sweet, enormous babies!

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Humane Farming Association–San Rafael, CA

Begun in 1985, you can find info here on everything from inhumane treatment of farm animals, to the impact of factory farms on the environment.  Its main campaign, though, is the National Veal Boycott.

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In Defense of Animals–San Rafael, CA

Founded in 1983 by a vet, their motto is “Fighting Apathy, Building Empathy” for abused animals of all kinds.  They work to help prohibit the sale of dogs and cats as food worldwide, as well as promoting responsible research and sustainable activism.

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Kentucky Humane Society–Louisville, KY

As a private, non-profit animal welfare agency, they find loving homes for more than 6,000 cats and dogs a year. They also spay or neuter more than 11,000 local cats and dogs during that time.

And can you believe it?  We could not fit all the best animal charities we found into one blog post!  So watch for part 2 of this article in the next few days, right here on Your Pet Space!  😉

Joy Jones

Joy Jones, our Editor In Chief, is a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave in Las Cruces, New Mexico. When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column, as well as urban fantasy and humor. You can e-mail her at as well as follow her on Facebook.