DEAR JOAN: I felt compelled to write to you after reading your column about the diet of the scrub jay.
I volunteer for a cat shelter in Redwood City. Three weeks ago two young women walked into the shelter with three tiny kittens, about 5 days old. All were bleeding from the face.
The ladies told me that they saw two scrub jays on their roof making noise. They saw the jays put some objects on the roof. The women climbed a ladder and saw three tiny injured kittens.
They scared the jays away and took the kittens to the shelter. I was stunned. I thought the women were mistaken -- a crow maybe, but a jay? They said they were positive the birds were jays. Unfortunately one kitten didn't make it but the other two will, hopefully, survive.
DEAR VANDA: Jays can be aggressive, although this sounds pretty extreme. I've seen them divebombing cats and squirrels, actually making contact and sending the animals flying for a few feet, but killing kittens? Not intentionally, I don't think.
It doesn't surprise me they would peck at the kittens, but I don't think they could have carried them to the roof. I think Mama cat did that and then they became a target of the jays.
May Chi madness
The East Bay SPCA and 11 Bay Area animal shelters and rescue groups are banding together to meet "The Great Chihuahua Challenge" by spaying or neutering nearly 500 Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes in May.
East Bay SPCA's annual "Chihuahua Palooza" is expanding this year to include the challenge, highlighting the importance of spaying or neutering to curb the Chihuahua overpopulation problem the Bay Area.
Allison Lindquist, East Bay SPCA president and CEO, attributes part of Chihuahua overpopulation to the dog's popularity in movies such as "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" and "Legally Blonde," and to ads that prominently feature Chihuahuas.
"All that media exposure, coupled with pictures of celebrities carrying their Chihuahuas, transformed the breed into trendy, must-have dogs," she says.
Breeders capitalized on the Chihuahua's popularity and began selling the tiny dogs, but they bred too many. Then backyard breeders jumped on board and the number of dogs exceeded public demand.
"Even though we don't see the breed as much today in popular media, the effects of overbreeding can last for decades. These dogs still represent nearly half of all dogs coming into Bay Area animal shelters," Lindquist says.
Residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties can take advantage of $20 spay/neuter surgeries for Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes, May 6 to 10, by registering at www.eastbayspca.org/palooza. All surgeries take place at the Oakland Surgery Center, 410 Hegenberger Road, Oakland.
Dogs must be less than 15 pounds and less than 7 years old. The offer includes $20 spay/neuter surgery, rabies and distemper vaccines. A discounted $10 microchip also will be available.
Other Bay Area shelters participating in the challenge are Berkeley Animal Services, Berkeley East Bay Humane Society, Hayward Animal Services, Humane Society Silicon Valley, Marin Humane Society, Oakland Animal Services, Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA, San Francisco SPCA, San Jose Animal Care Center, Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority and Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation
Joan Morris' column runs five days a week in print and online. Contact her at email@example.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.