Friday, December 19, 2008

Home 4 the Holidays


The holiday season is a time to create warm memories with loved ones and to enjoy the company of family, but for many the holidays are as just a reminder of homelessness and hopelessness. Countless cats wander the streets with no cozy home to return to and no family to smother them with hugs and kisses. Fortunately, some cats are lucky enough to end up at Alley Cat Rescue, where they will get a second chance to experience a loving home with a family who will cherish them forever.

Everyday Alley Cat Rescue saves another cat or kitten from the streets, provides her with the medical care she needs, and places her in a caring home. No matter the family, there is a cat that is perfect for everyone! We have males, females, kittens, young adults, middle-aged cats, playful entertainers, lazy sleepers, “talkers”, you name it, we have the personality.

Cats available for adoption can be visited at the Petsmart on Cherry Hill Road in Silver Spring, MD or viewed online at Petfinder.com. So if you have room in your home and room in your heart, there are plenty of furry friends awaiting a warm devoted family to overwhelm them with the love they deserve. For more information on our cats, please contact ACR by email at ACR@saveacat.org or by calling 301-277-5595.

As always, monetary contributions ensure the continued efforts of Alley Cat Rescue. Donated much-needed items like food, blankets, newspaper, litter, and cat toys are also appreciated. Every little bit helps. Thank you! You’re participation and support is greatly appreciated!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Decriminalize Feeding Stray and Feral Cats



Everyday across the United States, individuals are fined or threatened with jail time for providing food to stray and feral cats.

At first thought, it might seem like a good idea to implement ordinances to penalize those who feed stray/feral cats in hopes to combat pet homelessness; however, such laws only heighten the problem rather than help. In reality, this puts individuals, who are willing to take care of and give homes to stray/feral cats, under fire; when they are simply trying to help the animals. After all, it is not necessarily their fault the cats are homeless; they are just trying to be upstanding citizens, by taking it upon themselves to help the animals.

Instead of blaming the feeders and criminalizing their actions, we should encourage their acts of compassion by assisting them with the resources and information available to care for and sterilize the animals. Not to mention, feed cats are healthier cats.

Please urge the National Animal Control Association (NACA) to stop asking agencies to order individuals NOT to feed stray/feral cats, by signing the petition. Promoting starvation DOES NOT comply with the NACA's vision statement to be a "respected world leader in the field of animal protection and care."

SIGN HERE: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/3/decriminalize-feeding-stray-and-feral-cats

Friday, December 12, 2008

Last Stop, Botswana


Our last stop in Africa was at the Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana. After crossing the border from South Africa, we were escorted 45 minutes over sun-scorched rocky terrain to the reserve; (of our entire visit, this was the “bush”). The reserve gets its name from the magnificent Mashatu trees; which can be found throughout the immense tract of privately owned land (about 75,000 acres). Mashatu is home to seven of Africa's giants: the African elephant, the lion, giraffe, the baobab tree, the eland, the ostrich, and the kori bustard (a type of bird); all of which we saw and then some!

(Mashatu Tree)

(Eland)

The staff told us stories of a female AWC who frequents the main camp. So far she has had two litters at the camp; one being on the bed of one of the staff members! They say she is semi-tame but still acts like a “wild cat”. The staff have also hand-raised another litter of orphaned AWCs and two baby caracals (type of cat); they were released back to the reserve, where they had litters of their own! On two separate night drives, our guide spotted AWCs with his spotlight, prowling the bush in search of prey. Mashatu also expressed interest in having AWCs relocated to their reserve.

As a side note, another highlight of our trip was meeting the president of Botswana! That’s right! One morning it was announced to us that he would be visiting the camp for a few days, and that we were invited to have lunch and then dinner with him…and we did just that. All three of us shook President Lt. Gen. Seretse Ian Khama’s hand, and Louise was treated to him signing her book on Mashatu. He is very down-to-earth and took a moment to listen to our project.

(Spotted Hyena)

(Alligator)

(leopard sleeping in a Mashatu tree)

(zebra)

(a pack of wild dog pups playing in a dry river bed)

(cheetah)

(a herd of about 40 elephants!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

ACR Spots an African Wildcat!

The highlight of our trip was seeing an AWC up close and personal. One night after returning from a day at Kruger National Park, Kylie got out of the car to open/close the gate to the private reserve we were staying at and in front of the car, in the glare of the headlights, slinked an AWC! Louise and I sat in the car in awe as we watched the cat stop and look at us, then disappear through a crack in the fence. Kylie hopped back in the car asking if we witnessed what she had seen…we had spotted an AWC in the wild! In the morning, we excitedly told the owner what we saw, and he said AWCs hang around his house on the property. We explained our project to him, and he said he would like to have more relocated to his reserve. He said he has not seen any domestic cats on his land, so chances are good that the AWCs would remain genetically pure. Plus, he does not have any larger predators on his property, so the AWCs would not have to compete for food. That day, we visited the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre adjacent to the reserve. They have eight AWCs in their breeding program. We saw one of them while there. The Centre’s mission is to (besides education) breed endangered species and relocate them to ensure their survival.

HOEDSPRUIT:

(African Wildcat)

(Orphaned Zebra with Surrogate Sheep Mother)

(Male Lion)


KRUGER NATIONAL PARK:

(Male Elephant that did NOT like us)

(Baobab Tree)

(Female Lion stalking Kudu)

(African Buffalo)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More on the AWC Project...


Our next stop in Africa was Sun City and Pilanesberg (as previously touched upon). While in Sun City, we saw a few feral (but friendly) cats at a restaurant we had lunch at. These cats were enjoying the day right along side the visitors, napping under chairs and rubbing against table legs. No one seemed to mind the cats’ presence (unlike the “usual” reaction to cats us Americans have…whether good or bad). Again, the vet school helped us get in contact with a woman who has established a TNR program for the ferals at Sun City. She explained that the HR team of the resort has put together a feral cat policy and has recently started working with a few professors and students from the Onderstepoort Veterinary school to TNR the cats. This is great news! With Sun City TNRing cats and us eventually operating a mobile clinic to patrol the boundary between Pilanesberg Game Reserve and Sun City, we will have a huge impact on the decline of not sterilized free-roaming domestic cats…thus decreasing the probability of hybridization with the AWC!

All parties involved have agreed Pilanesberg is the ideal place to setup a mobile vet clinic. While touring the game reserve, we were told stories of rangers frequently spotting AWCs. A day earlier than our arrival, a mother AWC and her babies were seen near one of the dams. We also learned that rangers used to shoot free-roaming domestic cats that wandered onto the reserve as the preferred method of controlling feral populations and preventing hybridization; (another reason to implement a TNR program). With Sun City already working with the Onderstepoort Veterinary school and the school interested in working with ACR, (plus we have a contact at Pilanesberg Game Reserve), this is the perfect opportunity to establish a mobile vet clinic, and the ideal place to help the AWC.

(Pictures provided by Sun City Resort -- TNR program in action)



(Additional Pictures of Pilanesberg Park)



Tuesday, December 09, 2008

More on Africa...


After visiting the vet school, we stayed at De Wildt’s Cheetah Lodge. The De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust is located near Pretoria and the Hartbeespoort Dam. Their main areas of interest are on helping cheetahs, wild dogs, and vultures, but they help many other species as well. De Wildt has several breeding programs, supports scientific investigations on different species, and promotes public awareness by speaking to school students about conservation and the human/ animal relationship. De Wildt has three AWCs, but they do not breed them. This was our first look at AWCs in person. They are so beautiful; they look like domestic tabby cats, only they are more orange in color, have black-tipped tails, and no white markings. We learned a lot of useful information from our guide not only about the AWCs, but about cheetahs, honey bangers, vultures, wild dogs, and one of their current programs with Anatolian Shepherds (a type of domestic dog). (For a trial period, De Wildt “loans” farmers Anatolian Shepherds to protect livestock from cheetah, lions, etc., so that farmers will not shoot these predators…the dogs scared them away. If the farmers like the dogs, then they can purchase them from De Wildt. This program is working out very well, and it is a non-lethal method of controlling large predators and protecting livestock.) Below are a few of the animals we saw while visiting De Wildt.

(Louise, Maggie, Kylie petting a King Cheetah)

(African Wildcat eating)

(cheetah cubs)

(albino honey badger)

(vulture)

(Anatolian Shepherd)

Monday, December 08, 2008

GoodSearch

When doing your online shopping this holiday season, why not use the GoodSearch web engine to do your surfing and help the charity of your choice? At no cost to you, you can donate money to ACR while surfing the web. Simply visit www.goodsearch.com, choose ACR as your charity of choice, and begin searching…it’s that easy! For each search, the site raises about $0.01 for the specified charity, so the more people who search using this site that choose ACR, the more money is donated to ACR! Please tell you friends and family to surf the web using Good Search.

ACR Goes to Africa Continued...

Next, we visited the Onderstepoort Veterinary Campus of the University of Pretoria. We met with the Dean, an animal behaviorist, and a medicine specialist. They were also interested in our project, and spoke of the vet school funding the scientist’s study in the Kalahari; so he was glad to hear we have been in contact with her and the EWT. He also said that the school wants to reorganize the curriculum to include more off-campus courses. He said that right now a small group of students are TNRing ferals hanging around the campus and nearby areas, but there is nothing officially setup for the students. So, we discussed establishing a mobile vet clinic to patrol Pilanesberg Game Reserve to TNR feral domestic cats (to decrease the possibility of them inter-breeding with the AWCs). We both agreed that this would be a great opportunity for the students to work with certified vets to assist with surgeries and to get hands-on experience in the field. Plus, the mobile clinic would help control the feral population and save the AWC! They also provided us with a contact at Sun City (near Pilanesberg), who a few professors and students have been helping TNR ferals at their resort. While in Sun City, we saw a few feral cats (though fairly friendly) hanging around a restaurant we had lunch at. The waiter told us the restaurant feeds them, but no one is sterilizing them. (Let me recap…a large resort city located right next to a game reserve = a population of domestic feral cats free to roam over to the game reserve where AWCs live → hydridization.)

Friday, December 05, 2008

The African Wild Dog

The African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)(Latin for “painted wolf”) is one of the most endangered carnivores in the world. On our trip to South Africa, the Wild Dog stole our hearts with their beautiful coats. Unfortunately, they are in a lot of trouble, as they are extremely endangered.

 


African Wild Dogs are quite different from the normal domestic dog and are not closely related to them. They are unique to Africa, and are the only species in their branch of the family tree. Though some may get them confused, African Wild Dogs are not related to Hyenas either. Hyenas are a family of their own, the Hyaenidae. Their body is similar to that of a wolf but the ears are larger and more rounded: they help keep them cool and allow them to hear very well.. Each dog's marking is unique - splotches of black, pale yellow-brown, blonde and white. The muzzle is black and the tip of the tail is always white. The fur is short but shaggy and is a little longer at the end of the tail and around the throat. There is a dark stripe of fur on the forehead. Dogs vary in size from 35 lbs to 70 lbs and stand about 24 inches at the shoulder.

 


Once common in all areas of Africa, except rain forest and deserts, African wild dogs are extinct or nearly extinct in nearly 32 countries of their former range, and the remaining populations are too small to remain viable. Of the six countries where they still exist, only three (Botswana, Tanzania and South Africa) have populations of more than 300 dogs.

 


The pack hunts cooperatively. African wild dogs can run almost 40 miles per hour. Their diet includes gazelle, antelope, zebra and warthog. They are extremely efficient hunters and contrary to popular belief, prey is dispatched in seconds rather than minutes. Wild dogs are only carnivorous species to allow their young to feed first. The adults wait until the pups are finished before they will feed. There are fewer than 4,000 African wild dogs left in the wild, perhaps only 2,500. Human hatred and persecution have had the most serious effect. They are shot and poisoned by farmers and ranchers. Road kills and snares take a heavy toll on packs that leave protected areas. Rabies, introduced by domestic dogs, has caused the extinction of at least one population. Lions kill wild dogs and hyenas steal their food.

 


Most information gathered from the Wild Dog Foundation.
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Thursday, December 04, 2008

ACR Goes to Africa...

In researching for our African Wildcat (AWC) project, we travelled to Africa to meet with several conservation organizations, game reserves, and a veterinary school. The intent of the trip was to gather as much information about the AWC as possible (which game reserves have them, who has breeding programs, where large populations of feral cats exist, etc.) and to find out which groups would be interested in assisting us with our project.

Our first meeting was with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT); which is located beside the Johannesburg Zoo. We spoke with the Trust’s Carnivore Conservation Group. Their main focus right now is on saving the wild dogs (feral domestic dogs transmit rabies to the wild dogs), but they are more than willing to help us with statistical information regarding the AWC. They are working with a scientist (who is working on her PhD in the Kalahari on the AWC), who we have also been in contact with. So, we are excited to hear what she learned through her detailed study. (This is another problem facing the AWC; no real studies have been conducted. At the moment, there is not a lot of statistical information on them: where populations exist, the numbers that exist, the rate of hybridization, etc. Most studies are conducted on the larger cats: cheetahs, leopards, tigers, lions.) Therefore, her study will definitely be an attribute to our project.

(Johannesburg Zoo)



More information about our trip to come...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Organization Helps Animals in Korea

Thanks to the non-profit organization, International Aid for Korean Animals (IAKA), animal protection and welfare in Korea has come a long way. In 1997, Kyenan Kum founded IAKA to promote animal protection and humane education in Korea. “Since its inception, Kyenan has worked tirelessly campaigning worldwide to educate the international community about the difficult conditions for dogs and cats in Korea. A major victory for IAKA came in 2007, with the revision and strengthening of Korea’s 1991 Animal Protection law, which IAKA had long campaigned and petitioned to improve.”

“With stronger legal protections in place, direct protest of the government and of the meat trade would be less productive than eliminating the demand for dog and cat meat altogether, through hands-on education.” So, that’s just what Kyenan and Haesun Park set out to do. In 2007, the two activists founded the Korea Animal Protection and Education Society (KAPES). The KAPES Center is currently under construction in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. The building will be an adoption and education center geared towards teaching young Koreans about the humane treatment of animals and instilling them with a deep compassion for dogs and cats.

Alley Cat Rescue is proud to support IAKA/KAPES and their continuous efforts to change the conditions for cats and dogs in Korea. In ensuring their success, ACR has made a monetary donation to IAKA and has provided them with several of our Feral Cat Handbooks; which will be translated and distributed at the new KAPES Center once construction is complete. If you wish to learn more about this amazing organization, please visit www.koreananimals.org.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another Successful Cat Writers’ Association Conference

From Nov. 20th- Nov. 23rd, the annual CWA conference was held in Atlanta, Georgia at the Renaissance Concourse Hotel. For two days, members attended informative seminars and panel discussions in topics such as: Developing Feline Vaccines & Meds, Feline-Friendly Handling, and Discerning Truth in Journalism: How to Distinguish Facts from Speculation.

A panel discussion of particular interest to us was the CATalyst panel. The panel consisted of CWA members who attended the CATalyst Summit; they included: Jane Brunt, DVM, Lea-Ann Germinder, Dan Kramer, Joan Miller, Amy Shojai. The CATalyst Summit was held by the American Association of Feline Practitioners with underwriting from Pfizer Animal Health. Individuals from more than 30 leading organizations and companies gathered to discuss how to improve health care for felines, increase responsible pet ownership, and enhance the stature of cats and enrich lives. Named Executive Director of the CATalyst Council, we heard talks from Jane Brunt, DVM, all weekend. Dr. Brunt has practiced feline-exclusive medicine in Maryland for over 20 years. She founded the Cat Hospital At Towson (CHAT) in Baltimore, the first feline-exclusive veterinary hospital in the state and opened a second practice, Cat Hospital Eastern Shore (CHES) in 2001.

(Louise, Kylie, Maggie)

Another highlight of the conference was thanks to Melinda Merck, DVM, a Veterinary Forensics Expert. Dr. Merck spoke of her involvement with animal cruelty cases and the exciting future of veterinary forensics. In 2003, she teamed up with the Georgia Legal Professionals for Animals and as the vice president of Veterinary and Forensic Affairs and began giving seminars on veterinary forensic investigations for law enforcement and veterinarians. Then in 2007, she joined the ASPCA, where she currently serves as Senior Director of Veterinary Forensics. We also had the opportunity to tour the ASPCA’s Crime Scene Investigation mobile clinic! This van is the first of its kind! Dr. Merck and her crew travel the country to process animal crime scenes, collecting evidence to help prosecute those involved in animal cruelty cases. She frequently testifies as a forensic veterinary expert in cases involving animal hoarding, dog fighting, and animal torture. Alley Cat Rescue thanks her for continually pushing the boundaries of veterinary forensics and for helping bring justice to those who cannot speak for them selves…the animals.

Lastly, we learned of the latest in the battle facing animals, and this comes from somewhere unexpected…California may become the first state to tax veterinary services. That’s right! Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to use tax money to help the state’s budget crisis by taxing so-called "luxury" items such as amusement parks, sporting events, golf, and vet services. Everyday ACR receives calls from individuals surrendering their pets because they can no longer afford them in today's economy, so just think how many more pets are likely to be given up or how many will simply forego a trip to the vet, if this bill is past. In an article online, Judie Mancuso, president of Social Compassion in Legislation said this, "Our companion animals are family members, and taking care of their health is a responsibility, not a discretionary spending decision like golf or furniture repair." ACR fully agrees with her statement. If passed by the legislature, the tax will be about 9% and will take effect Feb. 1, 2009. To stop this legislation and to tell Gov. Schwarzenegger that companion animals are “family” not “luxury items,” please contact his office at:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160
Email: http://gov.ca.gov/interact#email (follow this link)

Overall, this year’s CWA was a success, and we took away a lot of helping information and made useful contacts. Alley Cat Rescue also received a Certificate of Excellence for our newsletter: Alley Cat Mews.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Busy Few Months

For the past two months, ACR has been extremely busy! From Sept 20th-Oct 6th, ACR was visiting South Africa and Botswana, working on our African Wildcat project (more information to come). We met with several conservation organizations, game rangers, and a veterinary school to discuss setting up a mobile vet clinic to implement a TNR program.

After returning from our trip, we then spent an entire week moving our office. Originally, we were sharing our office space with our cats. It was a small room with desks along one wall and cages along the other. Now, we have moved upstairs in an apartment, so we have an actual office and there is more room downstairs for the cats. Plus, two of our resident FIV+ kitties now roam freely in their new “home” environment. They love to bathe in the sunny window sills!

And this weekend we are off to Atlanta, Georgia for the annual Cat Writers’ Association conference. There will be seminars and well-known speakers, not to mention ACR has received a Certificate of Excellence for our newsletter!

So, as you can see, we have definitely had our work cut out for us! Once we return from the Cat Writers’ Conference, we will post more information about our African Wildcat project and our trip to Africa. As always, thank you for your continued support…we couldn’t do it without you!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

ACR's Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic

Alley Cat Rescue is offering a low-cost spay/neuter clinic to residents of Prince George’s County, MD, who have an income of $35,000 or less a year.

The cost to neuter a male cat is $40 and the cost to spay a female is $45. The costs include the surgery and rabies & distemper vaccinations; all other services/vaccines require additional costs to be covered by the individual. Space is limited, so anyone interested must complete an application for review. You may contact Alley Cat Rescue at 301-277-5595 or by email at acr@saveacat.org.

This project is made possible in part by The Snyder Foundation for Animals and by donations from individuals like you. Item donations like food, blankets, newspaper, litter, and cat toys are also appreciated. Every little bit helps. Thank you! Your participation and support is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Humane and Environmentally-Friendly Cat Deterrents

ScareCrow Sprinklers

The patented Scarecrow Sprinkler is the smartest scarecrow ever invented. When it sees an intruder it instantly releases full hose water pressure towards the trespasser. The effect is both startling and immediate! It detects animals as small as rabbits and cats. It uses only about 2 cups of water per deterrence, runs for months, and "fires" 1000s of times on only one 9 volt battery. It’s environmentally friendly and HUMANE!!

How It Works

The Scarecrow senses animals the same way security lights detect people, by movement and heat. When an animal is detected, a valve opens instantly releasing a three-second pulsating spray of water. The combination of the sudden noise, movement, and water frightens animals away. This startling, yet harmless action is a remarkably effective deterrent.

Works on Deer, Dogs, Cats, Rabbits, Raccoons, Squirrels & Birds!

For more information and to purchase one please visit: http://www.greentouchirrigation.com/scarecrow.html

Havahart Spray Away Motion Activated Water Repellent


The Havahart sprayer uses a heat and movement sensor to detect animals and has a 180-degree range of motion. The sensor pauses for 8 seconds after firing again; which creates randomness and prevents animals from becoming accustomed to the repellent. The device includes an extra garden hose attachment, so multiple hoses can be run through it to create a system. One unit protects approximately 1,000 sq. ft., shooting water 35ft. in length. It operates on one 9-volt battery (not included), with an average battery life of six months. The Havahart is effective repelling deer, dogs, raccoons, groundhogs, opossum, skunks, cats, rabbits, squirrels, and other nuisance animals.

For more information and to purchase one, please visit: http://www.havahart.com/store/animal-repellents/5265

Monday, September 15, 2008

Breaking News from Shanghai, China


According to Second Chance Animal Aid, an animal rescue organization located in Shanghai, China, over 1500 cats have been trapped in Shanghai and the surrounding region for shipment to southern China’s food and fur industries. On Friday, 29 August 2008, local animal rescuers located several trucks with over seventy bamboo crates crammed with cats in Jia Xing, a small city in Zhejiang Province, about an hour outside of Shanghai. These cats had likely been trapped in parks, from housing compounds, and the streets of Shanghai and neighboring areas. Many of the cats in the crates had collars on them – obviously people’s pets, possibly trapped just meters from their home.

The trucks were intercepted late at night in a parking lot in an industrial section of town, and as the cat trappers attempted to load the trucks, rescuers called the police. Some rescuers claimed to have lost their cat, while others challenged the rather unofficial-looking photocopied documents that the head of the cat smugglers produced to support his claim that he owned the cats legitimately; he claimed to have paid RMB50,000 for photocopied “ownership” papers (USD$7,320/ GBP£4,067) and was transporting them all according to permit.

Regardless of the legality of transport permits, the condition in which the cats were packed – crammed 20 or more to a small crate with no room to move and no access to food or water, while some newborns were being crushed to death and other cats had died, was a shockingly cruel sight. By mid-day Saturday, a crowd of nearly 300 people had gathered. A local TV crew filmed animal lovers feeding the cats through the slats of the crates and watering them down to keep them cool; several of the crates were broken and cats freed.

By late afternoon, the crowd was dispersed and, sadly, the remaining crates of cats appeared to be loaded onto a new truck by the cat trappers. Although there is often little hope of helping cats already trapped and on their way to Guangdong, a focus of efforts on spay/neuter and indoor cat campaigns will hopefully someday reduce the numbers of available strays and unwittingly friendly pets going to market.

To learn more about this horrific account, please visit Second Chance Animal Aid’s website at http://www.scaashanghai.org/cats_trapped_in_shanghai.shtml