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.

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