Thursday, April 30, 2015

Playing a Part in a Happy Family Reunion

Regina with Grey Girl

Earlier this week we received a call from the Washington Humane Society regarding a kitten they had picked up. WHS scanned the little lady’s microchip and found she was registered to ACR. We picked the kitten up and set out to track down her caretaker, and today the family was reunited at our office!

This has been a reminder of how important microchipping is for all companion animals. The feisty Grey Girl clawed a hole through a screen and escaped through a cracked window. Her caretaker, Regina, began her search with feral colony caretakers in her area, hoping Grey Girl would head toward food and be spotted. However, WHS was close by and found Grey Girl first, before Regina even had a chance to call them for help!

Without an identifying chip, Regina may never have found Grey Girl. Curious cats can escape and become lost, despite the best intentions of conscientious caretakers, which is why Alley Cat Rescue microchips every cat who goes through our adoption program, and also each community cat being TNR’d. This allows us to quickly return found cats to their homes, whether that be indoors with people or outdoors as a member of a colony.

We also believe this is a great example of what is possible when shelters and rescue groups work in partnership, and the type of relationship ACR works hard to foster with local area shelters: WHS did the initial rescue and made the effort to check for a microchip and give us a call. Alley Cat Rescue then picked up Grey Girl, making available valuable shelter space, and took the rescue through to its happy conclusion.

Although we enjoyed having one of our snuggly ex-foster kittens back for a visit, we’re even happier that she’s back at her forever home with her family. Regina also adopted one of Grey Girl’s litter-mates, so it’s a reunion of sisters as well! And it was all made possible by your generous support, which provides the foundation for our daily work on behalf of cats. For that, Grey Girl, Regina and ACR thank you!

Friday, April 10, 2015

To Kill, or not To Kill - Can the Australian Govt. Decide?

                                                    Photo courtesy of Troy Snow

We were caught by surprise this week when the Australian government’s Department of the Environment said something quite interesting in its Draft Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats: “Although total mainland eradication may be the ideal goal of a feral cat threat abatement plan, it is not feasible with current or foreseeable resources or techniques.”

Hold on, it is not even possible to eradicate feral cats, now nor in the future? But, the Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, told Australian television last October, “I would like to see that within a decade we have effectively eradicated all of the significant populations of feral cats around Australia.” What gives? How can the minister be calling for something others in his own department say cannot be accomplished?

The contradiction between the draft plan and the minister is a clear example of modern science clashing with common misbeliefs about feral cats. New studies continue to show the ineffectiveness of lethal control policies, including one published in the February edition of Wildlife Research. That study from southern Tasmania, which is about 150 miles from the mainland coast, found the size of feral cat colonies had actually increased 75 to 211 percent after one year of culling. And yet again, we find within the plan that costs involved with killing are astronomical. Under the new draft plan, the price for trapping and shooting cats is estimated to be as high as $10,000 per week, and Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews said this week that “a back of the envelope cost to eradicate 1 million cats using shooting would cost $80 million.”

While it is heartening to find the Australian government coming to grips with the futility of eradication attempts, the draft plan is still wholly unacceptable due to its continued focus on lethal poisoning and baiting. In fact, developing new poison baits, and using them on a much wider scale, are two goals set separately as “very high” priorities. Two other “very high” priority goals for offshore islands call for eradication and efforts to ensure they remain “cat-free.” There are only six “very high priority” items total, and four have to do with killing cats.

The draft plan is fortunately not all gloom and doom. There are calls for more research into feral cat behavior, habitat, and predation, as well as money for non-lethal fencing to create protected “mainland islands” for endangered species. The plan also calls for an education campaign to inform the public of feral and domestic cat management issues.

While the draft plan is not solely focused on a campaign of killing, death by some means still forms the crux of Australia’s plan. The government does not recognize that killing a healthy, sentient animal is inhumane and morally wrong. Although … maybe it’s beginning to? The plan also states, “Shooting is most likely (emphasis added) to be humane when the shooters are experienced, skilled and responsible,” which implies the government recognizes that there are incidences when feral cats die inhumanely at the hands of humans.

While many of the plan’s details paint a grim picture for Australia’s feral cats, small details like this found in the language of legislation, and even whole sentences like the one regarding eradication that we began with, signal that our advocacy for no-kill policies and the humane treatment of animals is being heard and having an effect.

The draft plan is open for public comment until July 8, and instructions for commenting can be found here. Please take a few moments to register your thoughts because Australian government officials are listening. We petitioned Mr. Hunt just last year, and received a personalized response by mail, proving that if we continue to speak out on behalf of feral cats, our voices (and their meows) will be heard!

Monday, February 02, 2015

Sad Incident Reinforces Need for Better Communication, Cooperation Between Rescuers and Govt. Agencies

Recently one of our longtime supporters, Renetta DeBlase, had a home emergency and called the fire department for help. Firefighters helped her stop the water leak, but the visit to her house set in motion an unfortunate series of events where nearly two dozen of her cats were seized by animal control officers; all but one were euthanized.

The Washington Post published a story (link) about the incident, but it unfortunately left out some important details and repeated unfounded negative stereotypes of cat caretakers. So, we wrote a letter to the Post's editor expressing our concerns. Read our letter below to learn more about what happened.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Kittens Rescued from Combat Zone in Iraq

While assigned to a U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Iraq, a member of the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service and his colleagues have been helping to rescue stray cats and kittens by providing them with a safe place to live until arrangements can be made to fly them out of the combat zone and to their new homes in the United States. So far, they have rescued 20 cats and kittens, with the most recent group of felines making their journey to Alley Cat Rescue.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Beware of Holiday Hazards: Tips on Keeping Your Cat Safe

With all the new items that come with this time of year (a tree in the house, lots of decorations, shiny gifts, blinking lights, fine food, unfamiliar people), it's always a good idea to take some precautions in keeping your cats safe. Here are a few tips to help make this holiday season cat-friendly.

The Tree

1. If your cat is tempted to climb the tree, discourage her from doing so; clapping your hands loudly or a small squirt from a water bottle works well to scare the cat away from the tree.

2. Ensure the base of the tree is as sturdy as possible, just in case your cat does decide to go climbing.

3. Do not allow your cat to play with decorations. Avoid using glass ornaments that can break. Do not use tinsel; it can pose a choking hazard and cause stomach problems.

4. Unplug the lights when you go to bed or leave the house to prevent electrocution, should your cat chew on the cord. Try to keep all cords out of reach.

5. If you have a real tree, cover up the base so your cat can’t drink the water, which can be toxic to cats.

6. Both real and plastic trees tend to shed their needles. Be sure to vacuum around the tree frequently to prevent your cat from eating the needles and getting them stuck in her pads.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

ACR Teaches Students about Cat Rescue and the Importance of Spay/Neuter

A few weeks ago, ACR attended the Port Towns Elementary School Fall Festival and made a lot of new friends! Around 300 students and parents attended the event, enjoying activities like a pie toss at teachers, sack races, face painting, a ring toss, and the playground was even turned into a pumpkin patch, where students could choose their own pumpkin to paint. The Bladensburg Fire and Police Departments were also in attendance; students were excited to sit in the fire truck and police cruiser.

Not to brag, but our table was the most popular table at the event! Because who doesn't love cats?! Even the principal gave us rave reviews and invited us back to the school for their Spring Festival. We educated the kids on rescue, spay/neuter, volunteering, and environmental issues, like the importance of recycling and using Yesterdays News litter. And of course we took a few kittens along, so students were able to play with kittens and learn proper handling and caring techniques.

The event raised over $3,000 for the school, and we handed out over 50 business cards to local parents interested in adoption and volunteering. A big thank you to Port Towns Elementary School for inviting us and thank you to one of the teachers, who kindly volunteers with us regularly. We can't wait for Spring so we can visit the students again!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

From Loved Companions to Vilified Killers: Falsely Accused Feral Cats Receive Death Sentence in Australia

More and more reports are being released regarding Australia's plan to eradicate feral cats in order to protect birds and other wildlife. One article calls feral cats "monster moggies" and explains how scientists are using trained dogs to track down cats, while another article mentions the proposed idea of introducing Tasmanian devils and Komodo dragons into national parks to prey on cats. Despite the methods being discussed, one thing is clear, federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt says he wants all states, territories, and other stakeholders to sign a 10-year plan to eradicate feral cats from Australia.

In response to this cruel and unfeasible approach to protect wildlife, Alley Cat Rescue is calling on the compassionate citizens of Australia, and the billions of TNR supporters around the world, to take a stand and let their voices be heard against this senseless killing. Thus far, nearly 5,000 individuals have added their signature to our online petition directed towards Mr. Hunt and another 2,500 signatures have been gathered for a petition targeting Ambassador Kim Beazley here in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Help Homeless Cats by Putting on Your Sneakers

Calling all iphone users! Now there's a mobile app that helps you save homeless animals with every step you take! Thanks to ResQwalk, every time you take a stroll around your neighborhood, your steps are tallied to raise money for your favorite animal rescue.

Each week, ResQwalk announces a donation pool (e.g. $2,500), and in order for a rescue to receive donations from the pool, their supporters simply need to check-in to the app when they go for a walk. Each walker's distance is recorded in the user profile and added to the rescue's weekly sum. At the end of the week, donations are paid out to the rescues proportionally to the total distance walked. And as a bonus, at the end of every walk, the user is offered a reward (like 45% of specialty rescue apparel), that when redeemed, helps fund future donation pools.

The ResQwalk application is available for download in the Apple Store. Remember to choose Alley Cat Rescue as your favorite rescue and wear comfortable shoes.

Also check out ResQthreads, giving people and their companion animals a stylish way to promote adoption and support the rescues and shelters they care about.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Flowers for Ferals!

Help save cats and beautify your yard at the same time! For every purchase, Flower Power Fundraising will donate 50% back to Alley Cat Rescue. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your spring garden today with our Fall Flower Campaign!

All flower bulbs are non-GMO and Flower Power has signed the safe seed pledge, as they encourage healthy gardening practices. Choose from a variety of shapes, sizes and colors to make your garden really come alive. Try adding some Appleblossom Tulips, Dutch Irises, Jonquil Daffodils, or Buttercups to your landscape. And with shipping at a cheap flat rate, why not try a few varieties or stock up for great gift ideas for friends and family?!

Plus, you'll be enjoying these flowers year after year, because they are perennials. Simply plant the bulbs this fall before it begins to frost and come next spring, your garden will be filled with bright colors and sweet fragrances. Adding a variety of flowering plants to your landscape will not only beautify your living space but it's great for attracting birds and bees!   

To see all the flowers available and learn more about how your purchase can help save cats, please visit Happy planting!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Study Proves TNR is Effective at Reducing Community Cat Populations and Reducing Shelter Euthanasia Rates

The results of new study on the effectiveness of trap-neuter-return (TNR) support what previous studies have already shown...that TNR does effectively reduce feral cat populations. A University of Florida study lead by Dr. Julie Levy found that spaying or neutering community cats in an area of high animal-control impoundments led to a dramatic decline in the number of cats who were admitted to and euthanized by the local shelter.

“We investigated whether we ever could neuter enough cats to slow their intake into animal control,” said Dr. Julie Levy, the Maddie’s professor of shelter medicine at the Univ. of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. 

The two-year study was conducted in an area of Alachua County adjacent to the University of Florida campus and included a business district, several residential neighborhoods, a mobile home park, two homeless shelters, industrial parks, and a veterinary clinic. During the study, 2,366 community cats were TNR'd, which is estimated to be about 54 percent of the feral cat population in the targeted area. Most of the cats were returned to the site, with some being adopted.