FIV: A New Outlook

FIV: A New Outlook


Two of the Animal Adoption Center’s adoption counselors, Amanda and Jenna, recently traveled to New Orleans to attend the Humane Society of the United States annual Animal Care Expo. They attended many seminars that expanded their knowledge on current animal care protocol. One such seminar regarding the intake and adoption of FIV positive cats made a huge impact.


What is FIV?

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is found in cats worldwide. This virus weakens a cat’s immune system by reducing the number of white bloods cells, leaving them more susceptible to various secondary infections. It is transmitted from cat to cat via deep bite wounds. Most often, FIV is prevalent in feral colonies in which un-neutered males must fight each other for food and other resources. FIV has until very recently been fairly misunderstood.


Testing for FIV:

Common protocol in shelters around the United States has always been to use a blood test to determine if a cat was FIV positive. At the Animal Adoption Center, we have tested each and every cat that comes to the center. We would then have the cat live in quarters that were isolated from other cats and would adopt them out to homes were they would be a single cat. Certain shelters even have the policy to immediately euthanize cats that test positive.


What’s the big deal?

Obviously a virus that weakens the immune system sounds rather scary. However, in recent years more and more studies have been conducted to better understand the long-term effects of the disease and also how it spreads. One such study looked at the lifespan of FIV+ cats. Because it is such a slow acting virus, most FIV cats can enjoy a normal lifespan with no apparent health problems. Another study housed 138 cats, 6 of which were FIV +, together for over 2 years and then re-tested all cats for FIV.  There was zero transmission in the cat colony. It has become increasingly obvious that FIV is not as “serious” of a threat as previously thought.


Changing the Protocol:

Now that it is understood that the transmission rate of FIV is nearly zero in a spayed/neutered cat colony and that FIV+ cats have a similar lifespan to FIV- cats, shelters all over the US are changing their protocol. Many shelter veterinarians suggest communal housing for friendly FIV cats! Obviously if a cat is very aggressive to other cats, they should be housed separately regardless if they are FIV+ or not. Many vets are also suggesting doing away with testing for FIV altogether. Shelters and rescues across the country are accepting this change. Typically, FIV+ cats have spent a considerable amount of time in the shelter system before they are adopted.  Educating potential adopters about this disease has helped find FIV cats homes much quicker.



The Animal Adoption Center always strives to do what is best for our animals. We are excited to adapt to new information and have re-vamped the way we approach FIV+ cats. While we don’t often see FIV cats come through the center, those who do typically have a much longer stay here before finding their new home. We are excited that moving forward we will be able to let these cats live communally and go to homes with other cats!

10 years, 12,000 spay/neuters facilitated and counting!

In 2019 the Animal Adoption Center (AAC) celebrates its 15thAnniversary and the 10thAnniversary of Spay/Neuter Wyoming Program. Spay/Neuter Wyoming is designed to attack the root of the pet overpopulation problem through spay/neuter. The AAC’s current strategy includes hosting free mobile clinics on the Wind River Reservation (WRR), providing low-income vouchers in eight communities, and offering spay/neuter assistance to shelters through the Wyoming Shelter Project.   During this milestone year the AAC team is exploring ways to increase its impact on the WRR and further decrease euthanasia rates in Wyoming shelters.

In April, the AAC Spay/Neuter Wyoming team traveled to the WRR to provide spay/neuter services to registered tribal members.   The team consisted of four veterinarians, seven vet techs and more than a dozen volunteers spay/neutered 178 cats and dogs and administered over 300 vaccines.  Animals with infections and parasites were treated and dozens of rotten teeth were removed, free of cost.

During the clinic, five puppies and three adult dogs were accepted into the AAC adoption program.  Almost all of the dogs have already found loving forever homes.  Two of the adult dogs were brought in as strays with broken legs and needed intensive surgeries to fix old injuries.  Both of these loving and sweet animals are healing from surgery and getting stronger every day. Partnering rescues took in an additional six puppies, two dogs and a litter of kittens from the clinic.

The AAC is tremendously grateful for the support of the Shoshone tribe who donated the rabies vaccines for every animal and the Arapaho tribe who generously provided free accommodations for all our vets, techs and volunteers at the Wind River Hotel & Casino.

Hole Food Rescue, Browse and Buy, Teton Tails and Pets Place Plus also joined forces with the AAC to bring needed resources to the Native residents and their pets.  With the help of these groups and local donors, over 2,000 lbs of animal & people food and 200 bags of clothing & supplies were distributed to those in need.

Take a sneak peak into what happens behind the scenes at a Spay/Neuter Clinic. The AAC team is looking forward to traveling to the WRR June 28-29 for another clinic.



The day that I moved into my first dog-friendly home in Jackson, I didn’t waste any time. I adopted baby Otter the same day. Boxes still unpacked, feeling slightly crazed and tired, my boyfriend and I picked up Otter to start our new life, in our new space, together.

To some, this might sound impulsive and insane. My boyfriend was a little more hesitant to make the leap right away. But I had been talking about, wanting, and waiting for the right pup to come along for years and I knew in my gut that Otter was the one.

Not only did I spend years wanting a dog, I spent months preparing for the day itself. I took puppy owner friend’s out to breakfast to pick their brains on training. I read books. I did research on breeds. I learned about socialization. I made lists. I made plans.

But sometimes your plans change, and unfortunately, Otter didn’t make it past 15 weeks of life. Sadly, on March 21 while on a walk, Otter died suddenly of what the vets believed to be poison. What was supposed to be the happiest time of my life, quickly turned to the most tragic.

Despite only having had Otter for 7 weeks, she made a big impact on my life and the life of those around her. She was an adorable fluff full of energy and sass. She knew what she wanted and she’d vocalized that. She was very smart and was learning from her trainer really quickly. I felt supported during the time that I had Otter. The AAC made me feel like I had the tools to be the best mom possible. They introduced me to an incredible vet (shout out to Dr. Joe Weinman and his staff at the Jackson Animal Hospital) who put up with my incessant questions and calling. She was loved by the staff at the AAC and they were so quick to give her a squeeze and a kiss. She was loved by those around her – both human and pup.

I would never trade my experience with Otter. She taught me how to be more patient, read dog cues, and think beyond the limits of human behavior and see the world from her eyes.

And now, when asked if I want to get another dog, I know the answer is yes. I want to be a successful puppy mom. I really did love everything about being Otter’s mom. From the highs to the unforeseen lows. So thank you. Thank you to the AAC for introducing me to Otter. Thank you to my friends for loving her too. Thank you to my boyfriend for supporting us. And thank you to Otter, for making me a dog mom, forever and always.

Toby – Hurricane Katrina Rescue

Since it’s the 15th Anniversary of the AAC, I felt it’s time to give a shout out to our grumpy old man Toby who’ll be 15 in December 2019. When we adopted Toby (then Doby – Harry Potter names were really popular) he was a scrawny, approximately 1 year old, 15 pound little guy who came to us via Hurricane Katrina. We had just lost our 13 year old Lab, Shack, and had a big hole in our hearts and our other dog Calvin also needed a play mate.  We brought Toby home and he and Calvin became best buds. They were perfect hiking companions. Toby isn’t big on swimming but will go in Ski Lake to cool off.  When Calvin went to doggie heaven we then adopted Ty from the AAC who was a little neurotic. Ty & Toby weren’t best buds but tolerated each other especially at baseball games when they would snuggle on blankets together.  Now Toby tolerates his big little sister Olive. Toby has been the perfect traveling buddy and has gone on many adventures.  We have no idea what breed Toby is but think he has a little hound dog in him as he likes to howl and sing songs.  We’re not sure how long Toby will be with us but he’s a pretty spry almost 15 year old so we hope he lives a long time!

Thank you to the AAC.

-The Hollingsworth’s


Tillie – Might, Power & Battle

I was waiting all summer of 2017 for my perfect dog to come through the  Animal Adoption Center. I stopped in frequently; followed closely on social media, fostered a few and then finally found a puppy I set my heart on. He came in with a whole litter and had coloring similar to a Greater Swiss Mountain dog, which is the breed I grew up with. However, the puppies were too young and needed to remain in foster care, so I was put on the waiting list.

A couple days later Jenna (AAC staff and my roommate at the time) thought it would be a good idea for me to foster another puppy they had in from Idaho Falls. A good trial to make sure I wanted a puppy and not an adult dog. After that night, it was all over, I fell in love with little Butters (now Tillie) and had to have her. So on August 4th, 2017 she was officially mine and I couldn’t wait to start adventuring together.

After almost 6 months doing life together Tillie got sick, really sick. We spent 10 days dealing with local vets trying to figure out the problem. In early March, I found myself driving way too fast, with a 9 month old puppy slipping away from me en route to the CSU Veterinary Hospital in Fort Collins, CO. Tillie was battling an infection that had attacked her brain and spinal cord. After a week in Colorado she was officially diagnosed with Meningitis. She spent the next 6 months on multiple medications, gaining strength and trying to fight this thing off. After over half a year of meds and one short relapse, I started getting my angel back!

In January, I took her skiing for the first time. She could only go up about 20min but she fell in love. On the anniversary of her sickness, she made it halfway up Snow King. Yesterday, for her fourth time skiing, she made it almost to the top then promptly passed out with her toy still in her mouth when we got home.

Tillie might have had a slower start to the adventure life than most Jackson pups, but she’s gaining ground quickly and getting stronger by the day! Little did I know when I named her, Tillie means might, power and battle and it couldn’t be more fitting! She’s the sweetest girl, the biggest flirt, has the most sass, is my best decision, and has been my biggest fight. Big thanks to the AAC family for bringing her into my life and to Jackson Animal Hospital for always taking the best care of her!

Juno The Wonder Mutt

Four years ago we lost our 16 year old mixed breed dog to an aggressive form of cancer. My husband and I were devastated and I hated how quiet the house was. At the time our daughter was almost 2 and wanting to foster a dog was a bit worrisome because we needed a dog to be kind to her. We looked at several other dogs from the AAC but we weren’t quick enough before they were adopted! We saw Juno and thought, “ well what the heck is she?” She is such an interesting looking mix of what I call an Idaho Potato and something with stubby legs. We decided to foster her for the weekend and we were amazed at her gentle, sweet soul. We knew she had been living in a car with her owner and other dogs in Idaho falls and had recently had a litter of puppies. I wondered if she was suffering from doggie post partum depression and really needed love and time. We decided to adopt her and she and our daughter are absolutely the best of friends. Juno sleeps in our daughters room every night and is the first to greet her human when she comes home. It took about a year or so for Juno to come out of her shell and I must say, she has a funny personality. A year ago we
adopted a Chesapeake Bay Retriever who we sometimes wonder if she has caused more gray hairs for Juno girl. They also love each other and go on hikes and trips to the dog park together. These days Juno enjoys a good snooze on the couch, a bone to chew and rides in the car. Hands down Juno is the most obedient, loyal and loving dog we have ever had.

Drift ~ The Traveling Cat

We adopted Drift in July 2018 from the Animal Adoption Center in Jackson, Wyoming. The struggle of choosing the right pet was real. The cat we went there to adopt was very nervous and the folks there did not recommend her for RV travel. Struggling to choose one of so many beautiful cats was about to get the best of me. Finally, my husband sat in the chair in Kitty City and the one cat we had not considered came trotting over and curled up in his lap. And that was that. I finally got the cat I have always wanted and my cat finally had his human…. my husband… lol. We love him so much. Though he doesn’t particularly like to be harnessed, he tolerates it in order to enjoy the outdoors. He walked out of the AAC on harnessed and has walked well on a leash ever since. He rides so well in the truck as we travel from place to place. Drift has had great adventures in Yellowstone, Tally Lake Montana, Scottsdale Arizona, Grand Prairie Texas, Kofa Wildlife Refuge, Whitewater Draw Arizona, and so many more places. This year is New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota and beyond. He sleeps cuddled up with one or the other of us and sometimes between both of us. We live and travel in a 33 Foot travel trailer. Drift has totally made it his own. I would love to have a second cat to be playmate for Drift…. perhaps the next time we are in Jackson, we will let Drift pick out a friend. I wonder what the chances are for us to find another cat as perfect for us as Drift. We did not rescue Drift… Drift rescued us.

Bert & Baby – A Love Story

We first moved to our new house in February and our dog Baby went from living in a home with other dogs to being an only child. Before adopting Bert we would come home and he would not have touched his breakfast or daily bone and he would be over joyed we came back. It was if he thought we left him for good in a new strange place. Then he would scarf down his food bowl. Since getting Bert, I walk in from work and food bowls are empty, bones are gone, toy box looks like it was thrown around the entire house, couch pillows and blankets on the floor and them extremely vocal about how happy they are that I came back (even though its pretty clear they didn’t care I left). Safe to say they have lots of fun. Thank you for connecting us with such a sweet dog who is a perfect fit for our house. We love him so much!!!
He is such a sweetie. My friends are trying to convince me to re-name him Toothless after the dragon in How To Train Your Dragon. Because of his lean frame, sweet heart and aggressive playing lol. I guess we have to watch that movie now!! (No idea what they are talking about). Bert is stuck though, no going back, we love his name and him. He is a huge blanket guy. Sleeps under them every night. He is also what I strive to be as a sleeper, dead weight and passed out. We debate on whether a nuclear war would wake him up but we concluded it wouldn’t. Baby struggled for the first week adjusting to his new brother, his need for attention has sky rocketed but we are working on it. We always say they are like a freshman in high school and a 7th grader. Baby has to be cool and act like he does not like him but when you leave the room or turn your head he initiates some giant aggressive wrestling match. Baby loves Bert so much.

The Adventures of Chet and Cooper


We knew that our playful husky Cooper needed a “buddy”, and Chet was just the pup for the job! He is the sweetest boy and perfect addition to our house. Cooper and Chet are the best of friends and spend lots of time playing, going for car rides with mom, and lounging with their kitties too. Chet has learned lots of tricks from his big brother Cooper.  There is never a dull moment here but we wouldn’t have it any other way! #TheAdventuresofChetandCooper


Chet found his way to the AAC when he was part of an accidental and unwanted litter. He was surrendered to Lucky’s Place and adopted out. His adopters immediately decided they didn’t have time for a puppy and surrendered him back. He spent his first couple of months in and out of homes with no consistency. He arrived at the AAC in December and couldn’t have been a more happy go lucky puppy. We can never explain the rhyme or reason behind an adoption but it took much longer than we expected for him to find his forever home. We think he was waiting for his perfect family and his future rescue brother, Cooper, to seal the deal!

Tufo Party of 5

When my (now) husband and I moved to Jackson 3 ½ years ago from New York City, we were anticipating a fun, short lived adventure out west that would culminate with us moving back to the big apple. We arrived in Wyoming, knowing nobody, with our new 10-week-old puppy Lola. Lola is a pure-bread (gasp, the shame of it!) Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. We got her from a breeder back east. Both my husband and I had grown up with dogs in our homes. We liked dogs enough and figured we should get one. I think we liked the contrived idea of living in the “wild west” with a dog running freely in the mountains, or something like that. We were certainly animal lovers to an extent, but I would not have categorized us as crazy-obsessed-animal-lovers (there is a difference…) Alas, I did not anticipate how attached I would get to Lola during our move across country and subsequent transition into Jackson life. In Jackson, Lola and I did everything together. I worked from home and she sat by my side every single day. She accompanied me on all my skiing adventures, hikes, long walks, river trips and more. I went as far as getting her registered as my “emotional support” animal so she could fly home with my every single time I went back to visit friends and family in New York City. I created an Instagram account for her called @tetontoller and made her a celebrity overnight. What had become of me?! As pathetic and eccentric as it sounds, she was my best friend in Jackson for the first few months we lived here, and she helped me assimilate to a new life tremendously on an emotional level.

The reason I start my story with our move here and Lola (who I know isn’t an adopted dog and I am sorry to all you haters out there, please bear with me!) is to express how getting and raising our own dog so completely changed me as a person. I was shocked at how much companionship, purpose and emotional support a dog provided. Lola made me more mindful, more reliable and more patient. Lola’s appreciation and need for the outdoor-focused, energetic lifestyle in Jackson certainly fostered my love and gratitude for what Jackson activities had to offer. She got us outside. She forced us to explore. She taught us the importance of open space, quiet mountain runs to clear the mind and how much a dip in a glacially cold lake can cure a hangover. She helped both my husband and I realize that we actually did not want to make Jackson a short-lived stint out west.

Flash-forward to early 2018. Tufo party of 3 had decided to stay in Jackson and make a life here. We had gotten married, we bought a house, and we had both started working for local, small businesses. Lola was doing great, not a puppy anymore and loving the only-child-life. Having been completely sold on the importance of having an animal in our lives, my husband and I had begun to discuss potentially getting another. We had admired the Animal Adoption Center in downtown Jackson since moving here. They did an amazing job of not only marketing their services but also the deeper importance of animal adoption. We would foster here and there and sometimes would just stop by to see their cats and dogs. These experiences prompted my research into the importance of adopting. Honestly, this was something I had not been very knowledgeable or educated on up until this point. The staggering statistics and heart-wrenching stories were enough to convince me that this was very much the right thing to do now (and going forward, always). I want to be clear that we have never and will never regret “buying” Lola from a breeder 3 ½ years ago. Having her in our lives is the reason why we were encouraged to expand our knowledge on the importance of adopting and subsequently adopt two fur babies in one year from the Animal Adoption Center. Everything happens for a reason.

First there came Leonardo DiCatrio (formerly Laz). It was a freezing day in early 2018 and I was sitting alone on the ground of Kitty City, the cat section of the Animal Adoption Center. I had spent the last few months being convinced by my cat-loving friends that cats are truly a necessity in any home. “You just do NOT understand how wonderful they are until you get one”, they would tell me. I was not very familiar with cats up until this point but was open to the idea. My husband, however, was not sold. He did not like cats. He did not see the benefit of having a cat. He did not want a cat. Anyways, without my husband knowing, there I was on the floor of Kitty City. There must have been 10+ cats in that giant, two-part room and they all were keeping their distance. I just sat there waiting. Finally, 10+ minutes later, a very fluffy, extremely furry blonde haired, green eyed cat marched right up to me, size me up and curled up on my lap. My heart melted, of course. I had to have this cat. His name was Laz and he had previously been adopted by somebody else in town. They had had another cat who ended up not liking Laz. Unfortunately, the family had had to return Laz to the Adoption Center. I was sold. I would of course change his name to Leonardo DiCatrio, I just needed to get my husband onboard with the adoption. Over the next few days I would go to Kitty City alone daily, walk to the middle of the room, sit down, and await Leonardo DiCatrio. Each time he would be the only cat to approach me, size me up and curl up on my lap. A week later I finally took my skeptical husband to Kitty City to meet him. Thankfully, the same thing happened to him. I instructed him to sit where I had sat and there was Leonardo DiCatrio on his lap. Truthfully, I think my husband knew before going into Kitty City that day that we were in fact, going to adopt this cat. The first few nights with Leonardo DiCatrio at home were very different than when we had first brought Lola home year before. I had only known dogs up until this point and didn’t yet understand and appreciate the particular ways of the cat. Leonardo DiCatrio ran upstairs to a small room and refused to leave it. He hardly ate. I was of course, worried. But everything I read said that cats need time to assimilate and get comfortable in new settings. Over the course of the next month Leonardo DiCatrio totally made himself at home. He began to explore downstairs. He made friends with Lola. He started going outside and hunting at night and bringing us dead mice in the mornings (apparently a compliment)! He also proved to be significantly more snugly than I thought cats could be. Ironically, especially towards my husband. I would get home to find my husband lying on the couch, watching TV, with the cat sitting on his head. Or I would look over to the other side of the bed at night and see my husband spooning the cat. I think the biggest surprise of all was his unforeseen obsession with Leonardo DiCatrio. Our cat has taught my husband not to judge a book by its cover or reputation. He is independent, low maintenance and extremely loving. He is such a joy. And by the way, what all my cat-loving friends said about the fact that “You just do NOT understand how wonderful they are until you get one” is true. I am now one of those cat-loving friends, spreading the good cat word daily.

Second there came Rufus (formerly Dumpling). Flash-forward to fall of 2018. Tufo party of 4 was getting on very nicely. Call us crazy, but my husband and I had begun to discuss potentially getting another dog. Lola was almost 3 at this point and we really wanted her to have a playmate. We asked the folks at the Animal Adoption Center to keep us posted on any puppy litters that were coming in. Then we got the call-three baby chow-mixes had been rescued from the Wind River Reservation. I first saw them in an Animal Adoption Center Instagram post where they were each inside a pumpkin to celebrate Halloween. Both Peter and I went to meet them one morning. We immediately were drawn to the smallest one, Dumpling. He looked to be some sort of lab, chow, pit, husky mix. I don’t really understand how somebody fosters a baby puppy and then doesn’t adopt it…so of course, we adopted 8-week-old Dumpling. We changed his name to Rufus. Rufus has been such a joy, but also so much work. The Animal Adoption Center did a great job preemptively warning us how much work chow-mixes can be and we welcomed that challenge as we fell in love with Rufus. Chows by nature are very loyal, yet also very territorial and particular He has an alpha personality and rules our house. Adopting Rufus has taught us how important it is to research and train your dog accordingly. He is teaching me even more about  the importance of patience than Lola ever did. He is also teaching us to except certain unchangeable breed qualities and make the best of them. Take what you are given and work with that for the best possible outcome. A great life skill. We are learning to love his “chow” tendencies and to work with them. He is unbelievably loyal and one of the snuggliest dogs I have every met. He is eager to learn and already 6 months old! He absolutely adores Lola and Leonardo DiCatrio (they aren’t completely sold on him yet…but they are very patient).

And just like that, thank you mostly to the Animal Adoption Center, we have come to be Tufo party of 5! We sleep 5 in the bed every night. We have now, undeniably, crossed the threshold into the crazy-obsessed-animal-lovers (I told you there was a difference…) Our house is always covered in fur and we are very overwhelmed at times…but we absolutely love all 3 of our animals unconditionally. They are all so different and having them has taught us so much. Of course, we are very grateful that Lola originally came into our lives and sparked our passion and love for animals. We are also so appreciative to the Animal Adoption Center for bringing Leonardo DiCatrio and Rufus into our lives. And, of course, for teaching and educating us on the importance of adopting. We often get home and find all three of them (yes all three) curled up, snuggling with each other. I think back to when we first arrived in Jackson 3 ½  years ago and how much our lives have changed for the better. For my husband and me, moving west, creating a new life together and learning so much about ourselves in the process has all been so deeply complimented by these three fury-tailed, loving additions to our lives.