Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Review

Looking back on another year behind us, cats once again were in the spotlight in 2010. Numerous stories touched our hearts and proved progress is being made, especially for feral cats. More communities and even entire states took to adopting humane methods of controlling cat populations and embracing TNR programs in 2010. We saw several animal-related bills passed, including the Truth in Fur Labeling Act and the Delaware Companion Animal Protection Act; (but with many more bills still waiting to be passed, don’t forget to contact your Senators and Representatives to ensure animal welfare legislation is passed to protect our furry friends!) The US Postal Service released “Adopt a Shelter Pet” stamp series and social media tools like Facebook and Twitter helped animal rescue groups across the world connect with one another to save more animals and raise more funds to keep up the good fight.   

As we ring in a new year, we must remain strong and dedicated in our fight for animals, for 2010 also had its share of setbacks in the cat world. From Richmond International Airport to the San Francisco Police Department to Australia and New Zealand to China and Korea, cats were targeted, tortured and killed. Some were killed for their fur and/or meat, while others were killed as part of pest control management plans. But no matter the reason, cats continue to be exploited by humans for some sort of profit or gain. Wildlife conservation groups like the American Bird Conservancy, the Audubon Society and the Urban Wildlands Group, continue to bombard the media with false information about cat predation and its effects on the environment in an attempt to outlaw TNR programs and feeding community cats. Even PETA, the largest animal rights group, has lost its way in protecting cats and believes that dead cats are “happier” cats.

So as we head into a new year, let us remember those who we have lost and those we continue to fight for. Let us not dwell on the things we cannot change and have the courage to stand up and fight for the things we can. At times it will feel like an uphill battle and we may want to give up, but at other times small victories will be celebrated and our spirits renewed. It is those victories that remind us to push forward, up the mountain, so that we may reach the top and gaze out over the vast horizon of possibilities and enjoy our sense of accomplishment. So hang in there, all of you who work so selflessly in the trenches, fighting the good fight, and know there will come a time when activists get our due and cats will receive the compassionate treatment they deserve. Have a Happy New Year!      

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Call to Action: The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Releases Report that Suggests Shooting Feral Cats

If you have not already heard this week’s buzz in the cat world, here it is. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln released a report entitled “Feral Cats and Their Management.” This so-called “new” report is nothing more than the same old MISinformation, plagued with errors, exaggerations, glaring omissions, and inexcusable bias. The research and data they refer to in their report can be traced back to a handful of deeply flawed studies. The report goes onto dismiss fertility control or TNVR as an effective management practice and suggests lethal control, like shooting.

In suggesting non-lethal methods of control, the report mentions how habitat modification, sprinklers and chemical repellants can help (but that does nothing to address reproducing, they simply keep cats away) before going onto discuss fertility control. Here the report ignores statistical information regarding the effectiveness of TNR, saying “no real-world example of eliminating a colony through TNVR exists” and calls any evidence “anecdotal.” Did they even bother to talk with the university’s feral cat management group that TNR’s the campus cats? I don’t think so. The report then suggests shooting cats or using leg-hold traps, body-gripping traps and snares to manage their populations. The document goes into detail on how cats should be shot with a shotgun or rifle “between the eyes” or “in the heart/lung area.” Have these people not heard of animal cruelty laws? It is illegal in the US to shoot a cat, whether it is owned or not.

The authors of this report might as well come out and say they do not like cats and think eradication is the only solution, because it is clear that they have little understanding of the key issues surrounding TNR—never mind the relevant science. Hildreth, Vantassel, and Hygnstrom misinterpret and/or misrepresent nearly every bit of research they reference; some of what they include isn’t valid research to begin with. And by the way, Mr. Hygnstrom is a pest specialist and Mr. Vantassel, wildlife damage expert, is the author of “Dominion over Wildlife: An Environmental Theology of Human-Wildlife Relations;” which he dedicates to “thousands of sports-people who continue to be connected to the earth in an environmentally responsible way. In particular, this book is dedicated to fur trappers who, every winter, brave the harsh weather in continuance of America’s oldest industry. Regrettably, they must also endure the ravages of urban sprawl and the derision of an ungrateful and ignorant public. It is my ardent hope that this book will help Christians and non-Christians alike appreciate the vital role that trappers play in the responsible management of our natural resources. May the traps of these great sports-people be always full.”

Reports endorsed by academic institutions carry a great deal of weight with the public and, as this week has shown, the mainstream media. It’s generally expected that the conclusions and recommendations presented in such work are the result of carefully considered “evidence.” In this case, “Feral Cats and Their Management” has shown no real evidence to the public, but rather the complete opposite. There’s nothing ethical—either in terms of the research itself or its obvious implications—about what Hildreth, Vantassel, and Hygnstrom have done here. I’ve read that Vantassel considered that some people would be “very offended that we offered any type of lethal control method,” but felt that because it was written for public consumption rather than for a scientific journal, publication of the report was somehow acceptable. Apparently, Vantassel didn’t consider that some of us would actually look into the science underpinning the work.

There are legitimate issues to be debated concerning feral cats, but attempts at an honest, productive debate are hampered, if not derailed entirely, by researchers who put their personal agenda ahead of professional integrity.

Alley Cat Rescue is urging our members to please contact the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and express your concerns regarding this report. This report is insulting to those of us who actually work everyday to help manage the feral cat population. We could be protecting both birds and cats (all wildlife) if we could just have an honest and accurate conversation.

(Vox Felina takes a good look at the report in his blog posts Adult Supervision Required, Adult Supervision Required II, and Adult Supervision Required III.)

Contact Information:

Donald A Wilhite (faculty, volunteer)
Director School of Natural Resources, Agronomy & Horticulture

Tala N Awada (faculty, volunteer)
Assoc Professor School of Natural Resources

Ronald D Green (faculty, staff, volunteer)
Vice Chancellor Animal Science

Steven S Waller  (faculty, volunteer)
Dean Agronomy & Horticulture, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources swaller1@unl.edu

David A Wedin  (faculty, volunteer)
Professor School of Natural Resources, Agronomy & Horticulture
Also: Member of the Faculty Leadership Committee

Mark E Burbach  (faculty)
Assoc Geoscientist Survey Division - School of Natural Resources
Also: Teaching Coordinator

Monday, December 06, 2010

ACR Hosts Santa Paws at Local Petsmart Stores this Weekend

Alley Cat Rescue is once again joining Petsmart to celebrate their annual Santa Paws fundraiser. The holiday season is a time to create warm memories with loved ones and to enjoy the company of family. However, for many, the holidays are as just a reminder of hopelessness and homelessness. 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 be given a second chance to experience a loving home with a family who will cherish them forever. So this holiday season, please remember those who may not be as fortunate, by stopping by a local Petsmart store to help those in need. 

Bring your animal companions to Petsmart in the next two weekends and have their picture taken with Santa Paws! For only $9.95 with your Pet Perks Card, you will receive a color photo of your pet(s) with Santa in a festive holiday frame. For each photo purchased, Petsmart will donate $5.00 to ACR.

Alley Cat Rescue will be at the Laurel, MD Petsmart store located at the intersection of Route 1 (Baltimore Ave) and Contee Rd on December 11th and 12th from 11am to 4pm, and at the Calverton, MD Petsmart store located on Cherry Hill Rd on December 11th, 12th and 18th from 11am to 4pm.   

Bring a kitty home for the holidays! Alley Cat Rescue cats and kittens looking for forever homes are always available for adoption at the Calverton Petsmart store and can also be viewed online. So if you have room in your home and 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 Alley Cat Rescue by email at ACR@saveacat.org or by calling 301-277-5595.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Alley Cat Rescue Gives Thanks


With an economic crisis looming, cats have been faced with difficult times…they have been relinquished to shelters, abandoned in empty homes, and kicked out into the streets. But despite these hardships, cats across the country and here at ACR still have reason to celebrate. In the mix of hard times, dedication and a little courage bring small victories. ACR would like to give thanks for our victories this past year, no matter how big or small.

  • 462 cats were spayed or neutered, with 254 of them being TNRed.
  • 130 cats found permanent loving homes.
  • 160 cats were rescued from Rosecroft Racetrack after the facility closed.
  • We received over $7000 worth of item donations such as litter, food, blankets, cat furniture, toys).
  • We launched National Free Feral Cat Spay Day on April 27, 2010.
  •           150 veterinary clinics across the United States and South Africa participated.
  •           Over 200 feral cats were TNRed.
  • We launched our new E-newsletter, thanks to Network for Good and member donations.
  •            More than 2600 members receive our electronic alerts.
  • We attended the Best Friend’s No More Homeless Pets National Conference.
And Alley Cat Rescue is thankful for our amazing supporters! You've made each of these victories possible. Thank YOU!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Great Cats and Rare Canids Act

The Great Cats and Rare Canids Act, introduced in 2009 and supported by a bipartisan group of Senators, would support the conservation of wild big cats and canine populations around the world. Building on the existing Multinational Species Conservation Funds, the bill aims to lessen poaching and smuggling, protect critical habitat, and support education related to these charismatic species in their home countries. If enacted, the bill will provide additional funding to private conservation organizations by as much as three to one.

Sponsored by Congressman Jay Inslee from Washington state, the Act would mean increased protections for twelve species of wild cats and dogs globally, including leopards, cheetahs, snow leopards, and African wild dogs. And they need protecting more than ever: 80% of the world's wild feline species are in decline according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, as are 25% of wild canine species.

The Act has already passed The House by a vote of 290 to 118, but now it sits in The Senate. If Congress does not pass these bills before adjourning for the holidays, years of hard work will have to be repeated. All the while, wild cat and dog populations will continue to decline. 

Help us get this bill passed before it's too late!

Please contact your Senators now and ask them to protect wildlife and its habitat by urging Majority Leader Reid to bring The Great Cats and Rare Canids Act to the floor before the Senate adjourns.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Something to Celebrate!

Photo Credit: Storybird.com
Thanks to Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary in Nassau, Delaware and Faithful Friends Animal Shelter in Wilmington, Delaware, Governor Jack Markell has declared October 16th National Feral Cat Day across the entire state! And on October 6th, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed HR952, recognizing October 16th as National Feral Cat Day and calling upon the people of Pennsylvania “to participate in the spaying and neutering of feral and stray cats in their neighborhood.” To read the resolution encouraging Pennsylvania to embrace TNR, please click here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, Or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat

I just finished Gwen Cooper’s extraordinary tale about a girl and a cat named Homer. But Homer is no ordinary cat; he is a cat who teaches us about ourselves and inspires us to be more courageous and daring…to live life in the moment. Homer teaches us how to laugh, how to love and how to trust.

Found as tiny abandoned kitten who beats all odds, Gwen adopts Homer with little clue on how to care for a blind cat. So, Homer quickly teaches her in his own special way…which includes rearranging furniture and taking many leaps of faith (from tall bookshelves). Along the way, Homer makes friends with two other felines, Scarlett and Vashti, and a couple of humans. Together, Gwen and Homer tell an amazing story of strength, love and hope, which is bound by no limits.

To read more about Homer's adventures and where you can purchase a copy of this great book, please visit gwencooper.com.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Anne Arundel County Maryland Animal Control Policy to Kill Undersized Animals

Unfortunately, I read this in The Capital newspaper today, “For more than 16 months, [Anne Arundel] county Animal Control officers have been under orders to euthanize impounded kittens, puppies and other wildlife weighing less than 1.5 pounds - regardless of their health or ability to eat. Failure by the officers to comply with the rule - which primarily affects kittens 6 weeks old and younger - will result in ‘immediate and progressive disciplinary measures,’ according to a short, partially handwritten memo dated June 23, 2009, that Animal Control officials said last week remained ‘largely in effect.’” 
These precious babies would be killed under the policy.
“WOW” is all I can say but I shouldn’t be too surprised because I’m sure this is a common policy for many Animal Control agencies across the country. So, too, is the response the public receives from those over-seeing Animal Control operations: Lt. Glenn Shanahan, the county police officer who oversees Animal Control, says, "We do all we can to avoid euthanizing animals.” I’m sorry, but that is not much of a defensive argument for a policy that clearly does NOTHING to try to save and rescue abandoned kittens, puppies and orphaned wildlife.

Local rescue groups and animal advocates are speaking out against this horrible policy, making the point that EVERY animal entering the shelter should be looked at on a case-by-case basis. Infant animals can start eating soft foods as earlier as 3 weeks old and bottle-feeding can be utilized for those who cannot. And not to point out the obvious, but Animal Control should have a foster system in place, so infant animals can be looked after until they are old enough to be sterilized and placed into an adoption program. And why is Animal Control not contacting local wildlife rehabilitation groups when an orphaned wild animal comes into the shelter, or any wild animal for that matter? (That would be more convenient and actually save money, rather than killing.) 

But no, Animal Control would rather make a blanket policy that says no matter what, if an animal comes in and weighs less than this amount, it is to be killed. This policy is about convenience not compassion. Again, this is a prime example of where animal sheltering in the United States was borne out of compassion but over the years it has become lost in politics and poor shelter management practices. Countless animals are losing their lives everyday because people with poor management skills and no compassion for animals continue to make the “policies.”

Please help Alley Cat Rescue and other local animal rescue groups see this policy is overturned, by contacting the County Executive Office and telling decision makers that this policy is not only cruel and inhumane, but it does not hold true to the county’s progressive and compassionate standards. Currently, the Anne Arundel County Executive is John R. Leopold; however, this could change after Election Day, so you may want to simply address your letter to the “Anne Arundel County Executive.”

Address:
The Arundel Center 
44 Calvert Street
Annapolis, Maryland 21404
 
General Info Phone Number: (410) 222-1821

Email: jleopold@aacounty.org

Monday, October 25, 2010

Update: Camden Needs Your Help

Camden after surgery
Back in June, we featured a story on Camden, a cat rescued from the streets of Baltimore, MD who needed surgery to prevent urinary blockages. Well, we are happy to report that Camden had the surgery and is feeling 100% better!

Pumpkin after surgery
Just like Pumpkin, an ACR office kitty, Camden will need to be on a special diet for the rest of his life due to his urinary tract disease; however, his mom Mari (and ACR) is glad she made the right decision to have the surgery. Both cats are happy and healthy, with no urinary blockages (thanks to the urethra-widening incision) and loving their new food.

Thanks to compassionate folks like YOU, donations made it possible for Camden (and Pumpkin) to receive the surgery they needed and deserved! To stay updated on Camden’s condition and to see how you can help, please click here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

No More Homeless Pets National Conference

Alley Cat Rescue attended the Best Friends Animal Society’s, No More Homeless Pets National Conference this past weekend. Over 11,000 animal supporters from over 170 organizations came together to share information and experiences and to inspire each other and their communities to continue the good fight for animals.
 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Certificate of Excellence

Alley Cat Rescue’s newsletter, Alley Cat Mews, was awarded a Certificate of Excellence from the Cat Writers' Association for 2010. This is ACR’s 7th Certificate for our newsletter. To receive our award-winning newsletter, please become an Alley Cat Rescue member with a $15 donation. With a yearly membership, you will receive our quarterly newsletter filled with educational information, inspiring cat stories, beautiful pictures and calls to action. You can also sign up, on our website home page, to receive our email alerts for free! Stay connected with cat news from around the world and do your part to protect cats by responding to our action alerts. Check it out at www.saveacat.org!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Celebrate World Animal Day!!

October 4th has been celebrated as World Animal Day since 1931, when a convention of ecologists in Florence, Italy decided to use the day as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. October 4th was originally chosen for World Animal Day because it is the feast day of Francis of Assisi, a nature lover and patron saint of animals and the environment. Numerous churches throughout the world observe the Sunday closest to October 4th with a Blessing for the Animals. Since then it has grown to encompass all kinds of animal life and is widely celebrated in countries throughout the world. It is intended as a day of celebration for anyone in the world who cares about animals. It is not restricted to any one nationality, creed, religion, political belief or ideology.  

The number of events celebrating World Animal Day has increased dramatically in the past several years, with events planned in over 68 countries. Building the World Animal Day initiative is a wonderful way to unite the animal welfare movement. One such event was held this past Saturday by the Palo Alto Humane Society (PAHS) in the San Francisco Bay Area – the 2nd Humane Planet Expo: Planting the Seeds to Grow a More Compassionate World.

When Lisa Spector, “asked Erin Scott, the director of Organizational Development at PAHS, what inspired her to give birth to this event, Erin said, ‘As human beings, we tend to segregate topics and it’s really important as we step into a new paradigm of being human, to remember that what is affecting the planet is affecting animals and visa-versa. We are all connected… animals, people, the planet. It’s a falsity to segregate issues. The mission of the event is to bring to life the connecting of the dots of what is humane, what is green, and question if they are really different.’”

To find an event near you, visit the World Animal Day website to see which organizations are participating and to see if one is in your local area. If you cannot find one, visit their “Get Involved” page to find out how you can plan your own World Animal Day event for next year!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Book Review: Irreconcilable Differences by Nathan J Winograd


This insightful book is a great follow up to Nathan’s first book, Redemption. Both reveal how animal sheltering in the United States was borne out of compassion but over the years it has become lost in politics and poor shelter management practices.

Nathan points out that instead of dedicating resources towards working to save every animal that enters a shelter, resources are being spent on killing and blaming. He says, “killing has simply become one more tool in the ‘medicine cabinet’ of these managers.” This book reveals how shelter managers throw up their hands convinced that killing is a necessity instead of implementing more progressive methods of sheltering, including high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter programs, TNR programs for feral cats, working with rescue groups, extensive fostering networks, and comprehensive adoption programs.

These are just a few of the lifesaving programs that Nathan has incorporated in the No Kill Equation. He discusses how No Kill is achievable with this equation and he has proven it in several cities across the US. He says, “It is up to us in the humane movement to demand them of our local shelters, and no longer to settle for the illusory excuses and smokescreens that shelters often put up in order to avoid implementing them.”

Irreconcilable Differences is a collection of essays written by the father of the No Kill Movement, who is changing the minds and hearts of shelter managers across the US. It has received several awards, including an indie gold medal for Best Animal/Pet Book. If you want to know what the buzz is all about, then pick up a copy today!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Action Alert: Rosecroft Raceway Cats Need Help

In June, Rosecroft Raceway, Maryland's oldest harness horse racetrack announced it was closing its doors for good, leaving 60 stray and feral cats without a home!


Since the annoucnement, a small group of volunteers has been frantically working around the clock to save these cats before they are trapped and killed. We had to get permission through our State Senator, Senator C. Anthony Muse, to be allowed to go in and feed the cats and work to relocate, because the property was padlocked and no one was permitted to enter.

Now that we have permission to be on site, we are in an emergency situation with time running out for these poor cats! So in this desperate time of need, we are calling upon our compassionate members for your help!

Please consider contributing $10, $20, $30 or however dollar amount you can spare to help ACR make sure these cats make it out alive. Your kind contribution will help us spay or neuter, vaccinate and relocate these cats. Some will enter adoption programs, while others will need to find barn homes.

Any donation you can provide will make a big difference in the lives of these cats, who for years had a place to call home...but are now running out of time!

Your compassion for our feral friends is much appreciated!


Here’s how you can help:

– Adopt a cat or help find a home (or barn) for a cat.

– Help with trapping. If you have traps and/or carriers or can help with the trapping, please contact us.

– Help with transportings. Cats need to be transported to the clinic where they will be vetted, neutered, vaccinated.

– Help with expenses. Contributions will go directly towards spay/neuter, other vetting, and relocating the cats. If you’d like to contribute, please visit our donation page to make a contribution online or send your check or money order to ACR at PO Box 585 Mt. Rainier, MD 20712. Please write “Rosecroft Cats” somewhere on your check.

Also - Please share this with your friends. The more people who see this, the better chance of finding homes for these racetrack kitties.

Besides contacting ACR for more information, you may also contact Nancy Lisi:


phone:  703-531-9945
email:  nancy_lisi@yahoo.com

Monday, September 06, 2010

New Study Says Habitat Preservation Key in Saving Wildlife

In a new study conducted by Dr. Maggie Lilith and funded by the City of Armadale, Western Australia shows that cat legislation will not be effective without conserving habitat. The study found that protecting and restoring the habitats of declining native wildlife may be more important than simply controlling where pet cats can go.

According to a recent article posted on Murdoch University’s website, "While there are numerous studies on feral cats and their impacts on declining native fauna, the impact of pet cats on suburban wildlife or fauna in remnant bushland is relatively unknown although there is a wide perception of risk," Dr Lilith said. "Our study in the City of Armadale showed no definitive evidence of predatory impacts from pet cats on small mammals. Mammal species diversity, richness and abundance were not significantly different between sites where cats were restricted."

Dr. Lilith goes on to say that “despite the popular perception that cats were the main problem in conserving small mammals, vegetation appeared to be a more important issue. The species’ richness and abundance appeared linked to groundcover density in the various sites. This factor, not cat restrictions, appeared to be the primary determinant of species’ richness, species’ diversity and absolute numbers of small mammals in these sites."

In 2008, Murdoch’s Biological Sciences postgraduate student Jacky Grayson completed a similar study in the City of Melville, which showed the density of suburban housing and the lack of habitat were also more influential than the presence of cats in the lack of small passerines (perching and song birds), such as the Western Spinebill, New Holland Honeyeater and Rufous Whistler.

Again studies like these show that not only controlling cat populations BUT preserving habitat to be imperative of protecting wildlife. So while cat rescue organizations are out sterilizing cats, the wildlife conservationists should be out doing just that…conserving more habitats and pushing for stricter legislation to prevent over-development, deforestation and defragmentation. Yet, most are too busy name-calling and placing blame on cats. Hopefully as more of these studies continue to prove what us cat activists have been saying, the conservationists will get a clue and start working WITH us instead of AGAINST us.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sign ACR's Petition to the US Fish & Wildlife Service

Over the years, cats have been turned into scapegoats and blamed for the depletion of bird populations, especially songbirds. Cats are on the "public enemy" list of most wildlife groups, including our very own government's Fish and Wildlife Service.

Cats are being called "serial killers," "pests" and "The Scourge of Suburbia." Sadly, few groups and writers have ever defended cats by challenging these so-called statistics. It wasn't until 1994, when Jeff Elliott tried to get the truth out by writing for the Sonoma County Independent. Co-author of the Wisconsin Study, Stanley Temple, told the Sonoma County Independent, "The media has had a field day with this since we started. Those figures were from our proposal. They aren't actual data; that was just our projection to show how bad it might be." Though 16 years later, these exaggerated numbers are still being used and they are becoming more and more accepted as fact.

Too long have cats received a bad rap and blamed for the "destruction" of birds and wildlife. Conservation groups need to STOP using exaggerated numbers and bogus studies to base these claims upon. Yes, cats kill birds but for agencies, especially government-supported ones, to push for the eradication of cats based on such lies is horrifying and tragic. Help us help cats and STOP the perpetuation of lies being told by the US Fish and Wildlife Service by signing this petition. Thank you!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Louise Appears on Pet Radio


On Tuesday, Deborah Wolfe, the host of "Animal Party" on Pet Life Radio, spoke live on air with our very own Louise Holton! I, Maggie Funkhouser, was originally scheduled to appear on the show; however, due to uncontrollable circumstances, I was unable to be there. Instead, Deborah had the opportunity to speak with our president and founder, Louise.

In a short amount of time, Louise touched on a lot of hot topics concerning the cat rescue world, including spay/neuter, trap-neuter-return, zoonotic diseases, rabies, and predation. She also got a chance to speak about our programs and about our projects both here in the US and in other countries.

To hear Louise discuss feral cat management, along with other topics, please click here. The entire radio show is an hour long. Louise appears about half way through and talks for the remaining time. Good job, Louise!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Australia’s War on “Pests”

So today I read an article in an Australian newspaper that said: “Arid Recovery has won a $29,500 Community Natural Resource Management (NRM) grant to undertake field trials into innovative feral cat management techniques.” By now most of us are familiar with Australia’s fight against “invasive species,” “exotic,” “alien,” “introduced,” “feral,” “pest” or whatever term you chose to use, but we might not know that the country is “waging a war” against these species, which seem to number in the thousands, but no one is actually sure. Australia spends around $3.5 billion a year just on the control of noxious weeds; that’s not including populations of mammals, birds, insects, fungi, or diseases that are being managed.

According to their website, “Arid Recovery is an ecosystem restoration initiative based in the South Australian outback and dedicated to the restoration of Australia’s arid lands. Established in 1997, the program is centered around a 123km² [approx. 403,543ft] fenced reserve. Feral cats, rabbits and foxes have been eradicated from a total of 60km² [approx. 196,850ft] and this has provided an area of complete protection into which four species of locally extinct mammals have so far been reintroduced. Arid Recovery is a unique example of a highly successful partnership between industry, government, education and community via the four way partnership that supports Arid Recovery.”

So I did some research and found out that two of Arid Recovery’s partners or “sponsors,” appear to have their own agenda for lending a hand in conservation. The first is BHP Billiton, “the world's largest diversified natural resources company.” In 2008, BHP Billiton Olympic Dam (the site of an extremely large iron oxide copper gold deposit producing copper, uranium, gold, silver) began expansion on the site, sealing its fate by becoming the largest mine in the world. BHP Billiton donates some land towards conservation and provides some funding, and in return they boast about their mining operations. “[We] aim to be a premier global company, we occupy significant positions in major commodity businesses, including aluminum, energy coal and metallurgical coal, copper, manganese, iron ore, uranium, nickel, silver and titanium minerals, and have substantial interests in oil, gas, liquefied natural gas and diamonds.”

The other company to sponsor Arid Recovery is ODT Australis, a heavy equipment contractor. They specialize in mining, demolition, waste management, pastoral management (lease land for livestock and assist with feral eradication programs), and rehabilitation (reclaiming land after it has been degraded - ODT Australis assists the mining industry by providing “minimal disruption to the environment” when establishing site clearing for exploration, drilling and construction projects), along with other services. ODT Australis boasts about being one of the top contractors for the Olympic Dam. Again, to help conservationists, like Arid Recovery, get passed ODT’s clearly destructive behavior, they are provided with financial assistance as well as help in carrying out pest eradication programs.

So let us come back to this group receiving money from its “partners” to continue eradication programs on feral cats. The threat of feral cats in Australia is listed as “high to extreme” on Wikipedia, noting from Australia’s Department of the Environment and Heritage that feral cats are “the most widely spread and invasive of all introduced species. It is possibly responsible for the extinction of some species of small mammals.” Well coincidentally, I also read some of Tim Low’s analysis of feral animals in Australia today, where he speaks of the cat issue as “overrated.” In Feral Future, he points out that the majority of ecological pest research goes towards mammals, when other pests, like insects, fungi, and disease, cause more damage and receive less attention. Low goes on to say, “Many conservationists treat cats as they were our number one pest, but I believe foxes, rabbits, pigs, toads, trout, and some weeds all pose a greater menace.” He also talks about how cats get a bad rap for their predation, when foxes may actually be responsible for the loss of some mammal species.

This book is simply convincing me that everything is SO interconnected and more complicated than we can imagine, that humans need to take it easy when trying to manage the natural world. I know humans have a hard time restraining ourselves from expressing our opinions and sometimes placing our ideas on others, but the earth has been managing the environment for millions of years prior to our living on the planet and it will continue to do so long after we are gone. Taking from Rev. Professor Andrew Linzey of the University of Oxford, we should be acting as “servant species” rather than “master species” when it comes to our place in the environment. And as a servant species, we should be practicing humane, nonlethal management practices. Countless non-killing methods of population control do exist, including TNR for feral cats. Plenty of people are willing to get involved with humane control, but instead, our conservationists continue to do deals with land developers (and chemical companies) and human activity continues to destroy the very environment we are trying to protect.

Eradication attempts are pointless because killing is a continuous cycle; it does nothing to stop the cycle at its beginning. Australian Environmentalist Frankie Seymour says, “Reducing a population of mislocated animals is a complete waste of time (and money) unless you are prepared to keep on reducing it—killing and killing and killing, generation after generation. The moment you turn your back for a year or a season, the population will return to full occupation of all available niches.” With thousands of different species named as so-called “pests” in Australia, that’s a lot of killing.

Friday, August 06, 2010

GreatNonprofits

Supporters around the country have spoken up about great animal welfare nonprofits! In the 2010 GreatNonprofits Animal Welfare Campaign, more than 500 reviews were posted about 99 organizations working on behalf of animals, wild and domestic, both here and overseas. And ACR is honored to be among those listed!

GreatNonprofits is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization, which is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, Sand Hill Foundation, Morgan Family Foundation, Peery Foundation, and individuals who believe that we provide a vital resource for nonprofits, volunteers and donors. GreatNonprofits is the leading developer of tools that allow people to find, review, and share information about great -- and perhaps not yet great -- nonprofits. At GreatNonprofits, they do not write the reviews, rather the reviews and ratings are posted by people who have been touched by a nonprofit and want to share their story about it.

Twenty-two nonprofits qualified for the Top-Rated Animal Welfare Nonprofits, and ACR hopes to be chosen next year. So we kindly ask that you—our supporters, volunteers, friends and families—take a moment to share your stories by visiting our page on the GreatNonprofits website or by clicking on the blue badge in the sidebar.  It will only take a minute for you to write a short review about ACR, so that others will be encouraged to support our efforts and help keep our programs running. Thank you to everyone who has partnered with us and continues to support our fight against cat homelessness!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

LA County Quietly Sentencing Thousands of Animals to Death

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- D.E.L.T.A. Rescue (http://www.deltarescue.org), the largest no-kill, care-for-life sanctuary in the world, wants Los Angeles County residents to know a proposed ordinance quietly being pushed through the county code process stands to put thousands of rescued animals in harm's way -- but it's not too late to stop it.

For 30 years, abandoned pets in southern California have received a second chance from the 501(c)(3) nonprofit D.E.L.T.A. Rescue. The only facility providing lifelong, no-kill care to rescued dogs and cats, D.E.L.T.A. Rescue is home to 1,500 animals that were left to die in the wilderness. But now, as a direct result of little-known proposed amendments to Title 10 of the Los Angeles County Code, animal sanctuaries countywide could be limited to caring for only 50 dogs and cats -- and ultimately forced to surrender all the other unwanted animals to an already overburdened county shelter system. It's effectively a death sentence for thousands of dogs and cats.

Concerned citizens can help ensure the proposed 50-animal limitation is dropped. Actor and lifelong animal activist Leo Grillo, founder of D.E.L.T.A. Rescue, urges LA County residents who care about animals to contact the five county supervisors and other county officials to express their opposition to the 50-animal limit on kennel licenses.

"If passed, the changes to Title 10 of the Los Angeles County Code will require all facilities with over 50 dogs and cats to sell, transfer or relinquish all animals above that limit of 50 within 30 days," Grillo explained. "Rescued animals are not always easy to place, and we're talking about thousands of dogs and cats throughout the county. Realistically, most of those animals will end up in the pound, where they will be euthanized simply because there is no space for them."

While Grillo and the D.E.L.T.A. Rescue team are vehemently opposed to the numerical limit on kennel licenses, they support other proposed changes to Title 10, including requirements for facilities to maintain approved emergency evacuation plans and to have 24-hour staff on site.

"We applaud the county's attempt to make sure animals receive proper care," Grillo stated. "However, limiting responsible, established rescue facilities to 50 dogs and cats contradicts the county's stated mission of preserving and protecting public and animal safety. D.E.L.T.A. Rescue stands ready to assist the county in that mission as we have for 30 years, but we cannot do so if the ordinance passes as proposed. We need the public's help to keep providing safe haven for the pets abandoned to the harsh conditions of the southern California wilderness."

To learn more about the proposed changes to Title 10 of the Los Angeles County Code and help get the word out, contact D.E.L.T.A. Rescue at P.O. Box 9, Glendale, CA, 91209 or visit http://www.deltarescue.org.

Members of the community are urged to contact LA County supervisors and officials to voice their opposition to the kennel license cap at the following emails and telephone numbers:

The Supervisors: 

Gloria Molina, Molina@bos.lacounty.gov, (213) 974-4111
Mark Ridley-Thomas, SecondDistrict@bos.lacounty.gov, (213) 974-2222
Zev Yaroslavsky, ZYarosla@lacbos.org, (213) 974-3333
Don Knabe, DKnabe@lacbos.org, (213) 974-4444
Michael Antonovich, MAntonovich@lacbos.org, (213) 974-5555

Other Officials:

William Fujioka, Chief Executive Office, BFujioka@ceo.lacounty.gov, (213) 974-1101
Raymond Fortner, County Counsel, RFortner@counsel.lacounty.gov, (213) 974-1811
James Bell, Dept. of Regional Planning, JBell@planning.lacounty.gov, (213) 974-8480

Monday, August 02, 2010

Delaware Passes Landmark Legislation

The Governor of Delaware just signed the most sweeping, progressive companion animal protection legislation in the United States. The law was modeled on the No Kill Advocacy Center's Companion Animal Protection Act and spearheaded by the non-profit shelter Faithful Friends, in Wilmington, DE and involved groups like Stray Haven Animal Sanctuary.

Like Oreo’s Law seeks to do, the Delaware Companion Animal Protection Act mandates collaboration between shelters and rescue groups. A shelter cannot kill an animal if a rescue group is willing to save that animal’s life. AND it also makes convenience killing illegal—shelters can no longer kill an animal when there are available cages or the animals can share a cage or kennel with another animal.

Specifically, the Delaware CAPA states:

Animal shelters shall ensure that the following conditions are met before an animal is euthanized:

(i) The holding period for the animal required by this chapter is expired;

(ii) There are no empty cages, kennels, or other living environments in the shelter that are suitable for the animal;

(iii) The animal cannot share a cage or kennel with appropriately sized primary living space with another animal;

(iv) A foster home is not available;

(v) Organizations on the registry developed pursuant to §8003(d) are not willing to accept the animal; and

(vi) The animal care/control manager certifies that the above conditions are met and that he/she has no other reasonable alternative.

The law also requires posting "all stray animals on the Internet with sufficient detail to allow them to be recognized and claimed by their owners," requires shelters to maintain registries of rescue groups willing to save lives, and requires shelters to post statistics (intake, adoption, reclaim, transfer and killing rate).

Delaware, the first state to ratify our nation's constitution, continues to lead the way in embracing the legislative framework necessary to ensure justice. And we will build upon this framework in the coming years to strengthen protections for animals even more…our deepest gratitude to the animal loving citizens and legislators of the great state of Delaware.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

UPDATE: "Crush" Videos

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1999 Crush Act was vaguely written and infringed on first amendment rights, so it was overturned. “Crush” videos portray high-heeled feet stomping small animals to death. However, after much persistence from the animal-loving community, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new bill (416-3) H.R. 5566, the Prevention of Interstate Commerce in Animal Crush Videos Act of 2010. The bill enforces a ban on the sale and circulation of animals shown crushed, drowned, stabbed or burned.

This comes as a victory for animals throughout the US, but now it is imperative that the Senate passes a similar bill to ensure these torture videos are ban for good. Please contact your Senators and urge them to introduce a Crush Videos Act of 2010. Urge them to cosponsor and support such a bill so that it will become law and save thousands of animals’ lives!

To contact your Senators, please follow this link.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Meet Scooter

This story comes from Animal News Blog written by Dr. Brooke Lechlitne a small animal veterinarian. The story all too common: a stray kitten found injured is taken to a vet for treatment by a good Samaritan and now the kitty needs your help! 
Apparently, Scooter, was playing with some fishing line but before too long he found himself tangled and in trouble. Luckily, someone found him just in the nick of time, but his injuries were severe enough to require amputation of his right hind leg. He is still healing and learning to walk again but his doctors say he will be just fine with the right care and lots of love.
To any of us who have shared our lives with a handicapped animal, we know just how much these animals do not let their disability stop them. If anything, it pushes them to be stronger. And to those who have never had such an experience, may this story inspire you to reach out and help where you can. Stories like Scooter's always touch me deeply, for I rescued a three-legged Pomeranian a few years ago. She went from a tiny scared puppy on death row to a happy energetic girl who doesn't let anything stop her! I use her story to educate others on caring for ALL Earth's creatures and for doing the responsible thing...being selfless and answering to the call in times of need.
 
Again, ACR receives requests everyday to assist kitties just like Scooter, and although we would love to help every single one, we just do not have the resources. So the least we can do is share their stories and trust that kind people will step up and help those in need. Every little bit helps! To learn more about Scooter and how you can help, please visit animalnewsblog.com.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

PETA's View on Feral Cats

Recently, I read a Letter to the Editor on the Statesman.com (a newspaper in the central Texas area) from Teresa Chagrin, a representative of PETA. In her letter, she encourages Leander, TX, to NOT support TNR of feral cats. Chagrin says cats left outdoors suffer from injuries and lead terrible lives. She includes that cats kill countless birds and wildlife “just in play.” She closed by saying that the only humane way to control feral cat populations is to spay/neuter and keep them indoors. 
 
PETA does NOT support releasing feral cats. They support spay/neuter programs but do not agree that once sterilized and vaccinated, they should be released back outside to their home (where they will continued to be cared for). Instead, according to PETA’s “Helping Animals” section, “When the cats have recuperated, they can be released into the house, but it may take months (or years) of patience and kindness before the animals begin to trust you. Do not allow feral cats outside, even after they have lived in your home for a long while. They are easily frightened and may bolt and become lost.”

OR PETA suggests another option for feral cats – euthanasia. “Because of the huge number of feral cats and the severe shortage of good homes, the difficulty of socialization, and the dangers lurking where most feral cats live, it may be necessary—and the most compassionate choice—to euthanize feral cats. You can ask your veterinarian to do this or, if your local animal shelter uses an injection of sodium pentobarbital, take the cats there. Please do not allow the prospect of euthanasia to deter you from trapping feral cats. If you leave them where they are, they will almost certainly die a painful death. A painless injection is far kinder than any fate that feral cats will meet if they are left to survive on their own.”

(Photo: Troy Snow, Freelance Photographer Kanab, Utah)

Obviously, PETA does not have much experience managing feral cats. The last thing you want to do is to release a feral cat in your house or inside any building for that matter!! This can be very dangerous, to you and the cat. Releasing a feral cat in an unfamiliar, enclosed area will cause the cat to become disoriented and lash out. Caged feral cats will destroy furniture, carpets, walls… They can get inside walls and become trapped in attics and basements. They will do anything to escape…just as any wild animal will do when forced to live in an environment unnatural to them.

And I’m not sure how PETA can defend any other wild animal, saying it deserves the right to live its life without human interference, yet they argue feral cats are “ill-equipped to survive on their own” and the nicest thing we can do for them is to kill them? Feral cats have been surviving for 10,000 years and if we are experiencing a feral cat population crisis – I don’t think they are living any more “terrible” lives than any other animal. Foxes, rabbits, birds, hell even humans…all face the same obstacles in life: starvation, exposure to the elements, disease, cruelty/fighting, getting hit by a car. So I’m not sure why PETA thinks cats are any different and should be “rescued” by being put out of their misery?

Now, don’t get me wrong…PETA does do a lot of great things for animals all over the world. But their stance on feral cats is not one of them. Cat rescuers DO WANT to see the end of feral cat colonies. The difference is we use non-lethal methods to control the colonies, while others want colonies to be eradicated. I personally feel that culling and hunting practices should not be utilized as part of any wildlife management. I know both sides of the argument but I still feel that humans try to play too much of a part of managing how the natural world should look. I believe we should "conserve" habitat and life, but I also do not believe that we should be killing one species in order to save another, even if the species we are protecting is in danger of extinction. (They are most likely threatened to begin with because of human activity.)

The planet has been evolving way longer than we have been here and she doesn't need any instructions from us on how to do her job. The natural world evolves...things die and new things are born. And it seems anytime humans get involved, things end up worse than if we didn't get involved. Humans have become too far detached from the natural world to make "educated" decisions on how it should be managed. We have become outside observers instead of inside participants. We sit "outside" of nature and create our studies and see the world through human eyes instead of being one with the natural environment and listening to what it has to teach us. It's like politics, humans speak for the planet as they see fit, instead of speaking for the planet as the planet wants to be heard. I know us humans are "trying" but when it comes to saving the natural world, we really have things ass backwards.

Sorry PETA, but I'm not taking your advice and releasing a feral cat in my house. That's just crazy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Black Isle Red Kites Killed by Rat Poison

Secondary poisoning claims eight rare young birds from three separate broods

According to an article on WildlifeExtra.com, a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) officer involved in monitoring the reintroduced population of red kites (raptors) on the Black Isle (off the coast of Scotland) believes that adult birds have been feeding their growing chicks with carcasses of pest animals that have been poisoned on local farmland, with catastrophic consequences.

Brian Etheridge, RSPB Red Kite Officer for North Scotland, has been monitoring the situation over the past 15 years. This summer, he visited three separate nests on the Black Isle and discovered eight chicks in total either dead or dying following ingestion of rodent carcasses contaminated with rat poison. "These young birds were displaying classic symptoms of rodenticide poisoning, a particularly painful way for any animal to die," commented Mr. Etheridge. “Many rodenticides contain anticoagulants, which gather in the liver of an animal causing heavy internal bleeding. Young red kite chicks undergo a particularly fast growing phase and require a rapid circulatory system in order to grow healthily. Anything that interferes with the blood supply of a young kite is of serious concern and sadly, in every instance, these rodenticides have proven fatal to them. These eight chicks were all quite big, and very close to leaving the nest, but the real number of chicks affected may be more than this. Chicks which die from rodenticides when very small may be removed from the nest by the adults and the cause of nest failure will be never be known. This incident is devastating for the Black Isle red kite population as these eight chicks represent nearly ten per cent of the total red kite chicks produced there this year."

The article goes on to mention that in order to prevent such accidents from occurring, the RSPB produced a leaflet on proper rodent control. "People can prevent the unnecessary deaths of an already rare and vulnerable species as well as injury and death of other wildlife including their own pets by seeking appropriate ways to control rodent infestation," says Mr. Etheridge. "…This leaflet contains impartial advice and best practice guidelines, such as searching for and correct disposal of dead and dying rats. It also recommends that farmers who regularly see kites foraging around their fields and farm buildings should be particularly cautious when using rodenticides, particularly in the summer months. I would really encourage everyone to have a read of it to get all the appropriate information on the subject prior to choosing rodenticides as a control option."

Etheridge continues, "There is no doubt in my mind that these latest poisoning cases are just tragic accidents but by making informed choices about pest control, we will be able to reduce rat numbers effectively as well as preventing unnecessary damage to our local wildlife.”

ACR’s Proposal for Proper Rodent Control

These farmers should be working with local cat rescue groups to implement a trap-neuter-relocation program. Farmers can give feral cats a second chance at life, by offering them food, shelter, and an outdoor home, while they naturally control the rodent population around the farm. Any prey not completely eaten by the cats can SAFELY be eaten by raptors. And NO POISON is required – nature knows best.