Friday, May 28, 2010

Summer Pet Tips: Heat Stress

During the summer months and vacation season, our pets can be exposed to special conditions such as heat, fleas/ticks, heartworms, bug bites/stings, and increased traveling. By following these simple tips, you can help keep your pet(s) safe this summer.

This post will start with heat stress: how to prevent it, how to spot the symptoms, and how to treat it.

Any pet can suffer from heat stress; however, some pets are particularly susceptible:

-          very young and very old pets
-          pets with a previous history of hear stress
-          pets with cardiovascular or respiratory disorders
-          short-nosed breeds
-          overweight pets

Help prevent heat stress by:

-          providing plenty of clean, fresh water at all times
-          providing shade cover when pets are outside
-          providing adequate ventilation and air circulation when pets are kept in kennels or pens
-          avoiding excessive exercise of pets during hot weather
-          NEVER leaving a pet in a parked vehicle

Signs of heat stress:

-          profuse panting and salivation
-          staring or an anxious expression
-          failure to respond to commands
-          warm, dry skin
-          high fever and/or rapid heartbeat
-          fatigue, muscular weakness or collapse

Treatment of heat stress in pets:

-          first, try to reduce your pet’s temperature by gradually immersing him/her in cool water, spraying him/her with cool water, or by applying ice packs to his/her head and neck
-          then, take your pet to your veterinarian IMMEDIATELY.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cats and Birds in England and Other Countries

So, I have been talking with biologists, behaviorists, and veterinarians from England about the push from conservationists and bird groups here in The States to stop TNR and to go back to trap and kill as a method of controlling feral cat populations, and they are telling me that things are very different over there. Just recently, the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare held a symposium on wild birds and despite much discussion on the falling populations of some bird species, cat predation was not even mentioned. Cats are not “an issue” in England and other countries like it is here.

I was also told that in England, whether cats are “owned” or not, the majority is free to roam outside; it is very common for people to let their cat(s) outside. There is no campaign to keep cats indoors (which ACR does agree with for housecats, because it is safer for the cat/wildlife and particularly if a cat has not been sterilized) over there like it is here. And in England, TNR is the preferred method of managing feral cats, not only for providing them the care they need, but also in fighting homelessness.

Like I said, it’s not just England that supports TNR; many other countries and cities around the world do too: Italy, Calcutta, Johannesburg, Ottawa, Venice... In Italy, the national law regarding the management of pets and the control of feral cats follows the no-kill policy; TNR programs have been used for almost 20 years now! Their biologists and ecologists and animal behaviorists and veterinarians see the effectiveness of TNR in controlling feral cat populations and see it as a humane alternative to catch and kill. (I really hope the US comes to its senses and follows the compassionate path that these places have already done.)     

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

ACTION ALERT: Richmond International Airport is Killing Cats

A small feral cat colony has been living on the Richmond, Virginia airport for years but they are no longer welcome. Last month, the airport posted “No Trespassing” signs to deter caretakers from feeding and TNRing the cats. Airport officials released a statement: It reads in part: "Preventative efforts including discouragement of public feeding has been unsuccessful. The steps taken by the airport adhere to a federally approved and monitored wildlife mitigation program intended to protect the traveling public."

According to the Richmond SPCA, volunteers have been caring for, including providing TNR services, to the cats for several years and no warning or explanation has been giving by airport management as to what prompted their decision to have the cats trapped and killed. The SPCA has contacted the airport several times, to offer assistance in humanely caring for the cats and to discuss other non-lethal methods of control, but the airport has not been willing to speak with them.

So far eight cats have been trapped and taken to Henrico Animal Control. Two of the cats have been spoken for and the others have until Friday to be placed into barn homes or they will be put down. Henrico Animal Control does not want to euthanize the cats but they are feral and not suitable for (home) adoption. The Richmond SPCA is willing to foot the bill to spay or neuter and vaccinate the cats if they are adopted. If you have some land and wish to provide a barn home for one or more of the feral cats, call Henrico Animal Control at 652-3360. The adoption fee will be waived.

A blog post from the Richmond SPCA says, “Any business should want to be a good corporate citizen and any person should be compassionate enough to try to prevent the unnecessary loss of animals’ lives rather than actually causing that loss of life without any necessity for it. Please do all you can to let the airport management know that you think they have been callous and inhumane with regard to these cats and that it will affect your choices in the future.”      

Contact Information:

Main Switchboard phone number: 804-226-3000
Online Email Form 

Jon Mathiasen, AAE - President & CEO
John Rutledge - Director Planning and Engineering
Vic Williams - Director Public Safety

Monday, May 17, 2010

Public Outcry Stops OSPCA Mass Killing

The mass killing of animals by the OSPCA at its York Region shelter has been halted, most likely due to the public outcry to save the animals. Protesters have been stationed outside of the shelter since the media (Photo: Colin McConnell - Torstar News Service) reported 350 animals were to be killed because of a ringworm outbreak.

Reports claim that 99 animals have been killed. Even Conservative Frank Klees uses this number, while Kate MacDonald, executive director of OSPCA says only 50 animals have been euthanized. OSPCA Chairman Rob Godfrey appeared on a news show, with his own dog on a leash at his side, and called the announcement the society was euthanizing 350 animals a “communications mishap on our part.” I think it is safe to say everyone can agree to that, with the OSPCA’s story changing from day to day. According to the Toronto Sun, “Since Monday night, the OSPCA has moved from saying all 350 pets inside the shelter would be euthanized to saying at least 20 animals would be saved, to telling CP24 Thursday morning that at least 100 animals could be fostered out.”

Nonetheless, the OSPCA says the killing has stopped, and the public will be watching closely to make sure this remains the case. Reports say that 96 animals have been placed into foster homes, 15 animals were stolen from the shelter (most likely by staff and volunteers who feared for the animals’ safety), and the remaining 140 will be treated at the facility. 

About 40 protestors continued to demonstrate today [Thursday] outside the OSPCA’s Newmarket shelter, saying they won’t leave until they know why the euthanization decision was made in the first place. Many were calling for a wholesale (Photo: Michael Peake - Toronto Sun) resignation of the OSPCA board and senior officials; others said there should be an independent third-party investigation.

“The trust has been broken and the relationship has been broken,” said Elizabeth Staunton, who said she felt “sick” knowing while she protested outside the shelter on Wednesday, dozens of animals were being killed just meters away from her. “They continued with this when they knew how we felt.”

Klees told the Toronto Sun Thursday that he had a conversation with the chairman of the OSPCA. "They are confirming that they've put a stop to the euthanasia plans," Klees said. "They've agreed to treat all these animals individually. It's the news that we were looking for."

Only time will tell…

NJ Leading the Way for Cats AND Birds

Last month, Ewing, NJ decided to support TNR as the town’s preferred method of managing feral and free-roaming cats. After attempts of trap and kill failed to control cat populations, the town realized it makes more sense to enlist private citizens and cat rescue organizations to help remove kittens and friendly cats (for adoption programs) and to TNR the remaining cats.


According to an article on NJ.com, “Many New Jersey municipalities have had great success with TNR, reducing free-roaming cat populations by more than 70 percent in just a few years. From Englewood to Morristown to Atlantic City to Burlington County, officials have sung the praises of TNR.” The article goes on to say that “The NJ Department of Health calls TNR-managed colonies a facet ‘of the solution to the free-roaming and feral cat situation.’ The Governor's Task Force on Animal Welfare recommended increasing TNR…” 

NJ is also taking the stance that TNR is a tool in protecting wildlife. The Animal Protection League of NJ (APLNJ) is part of the New Jersey Feral Cat and Wildlife Coalition, a collaborative effort (including the state's Endangered and Nongame Species Program and New Jersey Audubon Society, among others) that is developing a model for protecting wildlife and effectively reducing feral cat populations, thereby achieving mutually beneficial ends. 

THANK YOU New Jersey for taking a “progressive approach, signaling a new era of cooperation between advocates for wildlife and cats alike,” when it comes to humanely managing free-roaming cats.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

OSPCA Decides to Kill 350 Animals Infected with Ringworm

An Ontario animal shelter battling a ringworm infection began euthanizing some 350 dogs, cats and other animals Tuesday, with officials blaming human error for the outbreak. The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) said it decided to kill the animals after an attempt to contain the infection -- which had also spread to six workers at the Newmarket shelter -- failed.

Kate MacDonald, the society's chief executive, said the OSPCA does "not take euthanasia lightly" and is "extremely saddened by the situation."

The OSPCA’s decision to kill the animals instead of treating the infection has caused outrage within the community and within the Canadian government. Frank Klees, the Conservative member of provincial parliament, called on the province to step in and stop the euthanization, but the Liberal government said it stood by the OSPCA's decision.

Mr. Klees said he doesn’t trust the SPCA and told the parliament that numerous veterinarians, rescue groups, and the compassionate public have stepped up “to be part of an alternative solution in saving the lives of these animals.”

Toronto Humane Society weighed in on the OSPCA's decision, calling it the "easy way out." President Bob Hambley called the action "unprecedented," considering that ringworm is treatable. A spokesman for the Toronto society echoed the sentiment.
"Ringworm is a fungal infection. It infects the skin and the hair of the animals," said Ian McConachie. "The treatment is three antibiotics and twice weekly shampoo using a special shampoo for the animals."

A gathering of protesters has formed out front of the OSPCA, demanding they stop killing the animals. The local police department is also stationed out front to prevent any incidents.

As of right now, all adoption programs have ceased and once the facility has had a thorough cleaning, it will reopen on June 1…with a new slate of directors.

You may contact the OSPCA if you wish to share your disappointment with them, especially when this infection is TREATABLE and there is a public outcry for saving these animals.

Chief Executive Officer, Kate MacDonald
Contact: Anne Buonaiuto, Executive Assistant to CEO
Phone: 905-898-7122 ext. 304
Address:  16586 Woodbine Avenue, RR 3
Newmarket, ON L3Y 4W1 Canada

To view a local news story on the situation, please click here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Action Alert: Oreo’s Law Needs your Support!

Oreo’s Law (Bills A09449 and S06412) is currently before the New York Agriculture Committee in the Assembly and the Senate. And these bills need your letters of support in order to make sure they are passed!

Oreo's Law is sponsored by Assembly member Micah Kellner and Senator Thomas Duane. This legislation would allow qualified animal advocacy groups the right to rescue animals from shelters when a shelter is planning to euthanize them.

In writing your letters, here are a few points to make:

1. Oreo's Law would reduce euthanizing viable and adoptable dogs, cats, rabbits, and other animals in New York shelters.
2. There are qualified rescue groups and foster volunteers who are willing and able to remove doomed animals from shelters and find them suitable homes.
3. Oreo's Law will save thousands of lives.
4. Oreo's Law will have a positive financial outcome for New York taxpayers, because rescue groups and volunteers currently save animals without government funding.


New York residents please send letters of support to the following individuals listed below. For a sample letter, see ACR's letter of support.

The chair of the Agriculture Committee of the Assembly:
Chairman William Magee
Agriculture Committee
Legislative Office Building 828
Albany, NY 12248
e-mail: MageeW@assembly.state.ny.us

The chair of the Agriculture Committee of the Senate:
Chairman Darrel Aubertine
Agriculture Committee
Legislative Office Building 903
Albany, NY 12247
e-mail: aubertin@senate.state.ny.us

Assemblyman Marc S. Alessi
Member Agriculture Committee
Legislative Office Building Albany, NY 12248 419
e-mail: alessim@assembly.state.ny.us


Senator Neil Breslin
Agriculture Committee
Capitol 502
Albany, NY 12247
e-mail: breslin@senate.state.ny.us

Monday, May 10, 2010

Not Surprising: Study finds International Pledge on Biodiversity Broken

Last month, scientists confirmed that governments would not meet their target of curbing biodiversity loss by 2010.

In a new study, Stu­art Butchart of the U.N. En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gram World Con­serva­t­ion Mon­i­tor­ing Cen­ter in Cam­bridge, U.K., and col­leagues com­piled 31 in­di­ca­tors of bio­divers­ity. These in­cluded spe­cies num­bers, popula­t­ion sizes, de­for­esta­t­ion rates, and con­serva­t­ion ef­forts around the world. The re­search­ers as­sessed these in­di­ca­tors with glob­al da­ta span­ning from 1970 to 2005 and found that the in­di­ca­tors of ro­bust bio­divers­ity showed de­clines over the years, while in­di­ca­tors of pres­sures on glob­al bio­divers­ity showed in­creases.

While progress is being made in some regions, the global failure means an ever-growing number of species are on the Red List of Threatened Species. 21% of all known mammals, 30% of all known amphibians, 12% of all known birds (and)...27% of reef-building corals assessed...are threatened with extinction," said Bill Jackson, deputy director general of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which maintains the Red List.

If world go­vernments are se­ri­ous about pre­serv­ing Earth’s spe­cies, the re­search­ers ar­gue that lead­ers must re­verse det­ri­men­tal poli­cies, in­te­grate bio­divers­ity in­to land-use de­ci­sions, and boost fund­ing for poli­cies that tack­le bio­divers­ity loss head-on. “The rate of bio­divers­ity loss does not ap­pear to be slow­ing,” But­chart and col­leagues wrote, re­port­ing their find­ings in the April 30 is­sue of the re­search jour­nal Sci­ence. "If the world made equivalent losses in share prices, there would be a rapid response and widespread panic."

 So why aren’t wildlife conservationists hounding the government and large development corporations to start changing their practices? That is the question not only cat activists are asking but one that is being asked by anyone who cares for the planet. Why are we continually arguing over cats killing birds when study after study reports that human “interacts” with the environment are to blame for the planet’s loss of biodiversity and the increase in endangered species?

Instead conservationists are busy trying to convince the government that cats are to blame for wildlife degradation…saying that cats kill “billions” of birds a year so we need to start killing all the cats in order to save the birds and the planet. This not only sounds absurd, it IS absurd--when there are clearly LARGER reasons for the decline in bird populations and other wildlife. Every study that is released says, detrimental policies pertaining to deforesta- tion, land-use, and pollution are threatening wildlife ALL OVER the world.

I am getting tired of repeating myself in that if conservationists cared as much as they say they do about our planet, then they would STOP pitting birders against cat activists and JOIN us in the fight to save all animals before it is too late. I also liked the one quote by Butchart and colleagues that says, “If the world made equivalent losses in share prices, there would be a rapid response and widespread panic.” Isn’t that the SAD truth!!!  The asnwer to the question my friends is MONEY...but we all knew that.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Army Corps Impatient at Lake Lanier

After agreeing to work with the Humane Society of Forsyth County and the Georgia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Army Corps has changed its mind. The cats are now being trapped and removed. I don’t think the Army Corps (and others) realizes that TNR is a process and the cats cannot ALL be trapped “over night” nor the situation "immediately" dealt with. TNR is a long-term management plan; it takes time to TNR a colony of cats.

According to an Atlanta newspaper, the Army Corps has trapped and removed 30 cats so far with another 25 cats remaining. It goes on to say that the cats are being relocated to an "isolated property." Again, an Operations Manager says the cats are a threat to wildlife and cause health concerns to visitors of the park.

Yes, this seems like a good plan…relocate the cats to a private property, but this is only temporary. It is only a matter of time before more cats quickly move in to fill the vacated area. The Army Corps will be back out there trapping and removing again…with this private property filling up. Instead the cats should be returned to the area to keep other cats out by their presence.

Please contact the Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Lanier and tell them TNR is a more realistic method of managing the feral cats.

Lake Sidney Lanier
Corps of Engineers
Attn: Mr. Tim Rainy
PO Box 567
Buford, GA 30515

Phone: 770-945-9531

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Here’s a Salute to Kitty Mom’s Everywhere!

In honoring your mother this year, why not make a donation in her name to Alley Cat Rescue? Just think of the many ways your kind donation will go to help mother cats and their precious babies!

Every year, Alley Cat Rescue takes in hundreds of kittens, some with mothers, some without. Some babies are lucky enough to arrive with their mother, who will feed them and bathe them and keep them warm; but others come to us alone, huddled tightly together, requiring bottle feedings and intense caring.

Nursing mothers and kittens need milk replacement to give them extra protein and nutrients their bodies need during these fragile times. Many mothers and babies require medical care when they come to us to treat illnesses. They need good food, warm blankets, heating pads, litter, and shelter. And most importantly, they need love and understanding. They need a comfortable environment to nurture their babies and teach them what life is all about.

Litter after litter, mother cats continue to care for their babies without praise or a simple “thank you.” They go to great lengths to protect and care for their young. They search relentlessly for food and a helping hand. They work hard and deserve to be honored for their heroism. These four-legged mothers love their babies and ACR loves them ALL! Please show your mother how much you care about her this year by honoring kitty mothers everywhere!   

Click here to donate online or visit our website for other donation options.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

My Views on Wildlife

So I have always had respect for wildlife, whether it be an animal or a plant or even the general landscape. I grew up in rural PA surrounded by woods and farm land and lived in a house full of animals. My parents taught me to respect living things and to take care of the environment, but I also believe a lot of it was inherent…common sense…general knowledge…the “good” or “correct” thing to do. So when I hear people talk about “nuisance” wildlife it is hard from me to comprehend what they mean. And then to hear people discuss “removal” of wildlife…just the mention of “pest control” makes my skin crawl. Yet, people pay pest control companies good money to kill wildlife; and I bet business is booming now more than ever with our continual consumption of land, pushing our way into every critter’s backyard. Of course we are going to encounter wildlife and have to interact with the natural world; we are by the way a part of the natural world, NOT apart from it, as too many people would like to believe.

Yet, like I said, everyday people call “nuisance wildlife control companies” to “take care” of their animal problems for them. (Sounds more humane than pest control, doesn’t it? Either way, they are the same thing.) So these companies show up your door to deal with anything from rats in the basement to a squirrel in the attic. Many of these companies will also come out to deal with a feral cat(s) hanging around the property, though others will defer these situations to local animal control units, who will do the killing for them.

And I enjoy how these companies portray that they care about wildlife and that they want to help the animals too. They say they will only target nuisance individuals; one company refers to the animal(s) that is “causing you the headaches.” Some companies even claim they don’t want to hurt the animals, that they will relocate animals if they can BUT they go on to say that in most cases “humane” euthanasia is the preferred method of disposable. So even if they show up at your house with a live-trap, chances are that animal will still be killed later.

One company says: “If we feel that an animal should be euthanized, we use what is widely considered amongst the most humane methods: a CO2 chamber. The animal does not struggle. It is able to breathe, but the zero oxygen content of the air causes it to become dizzy, pass out, and gently ‘go to sleep.’ We feel comfortable with this method of euthanization, and if the case calls for putting an animal down, we think that my customers should feel comfortable with this method as well.”

I’m sorry but I don’t agree with CO2 chambers being called “humane” and I don’t think the animals go “gently to sleep.” I immediately think of Nazi Germany and Hitler’s genocide when I hear gas chamber. Or I can see and hear online videos of shelter animals clawing at the glass and screaming for mercy as they are “euthanized” in such contraptions of torture. The majority of the US states never used CO2 chambers as a form of capital punishment; however, several horrifying accounts of inmates being executed by gas chamber have prompted other states to follow in discontinuing the practice. Sadly, the jury is still out on whether gas chambers are humane or not; which leads me to other rather disgusting techniques of capturing, removing, and disposing of animals. Pest control companies spray toxic chemicals to kill or deter animals; plant poisoned bait for animals to ingest; set traps that are intended to kill upon capture or those that live trap so the animal can be killed later; and other heinous methods I probably don’t want to know about. Who’s to say if these methods are humane or not? Too bad we can’t ask the wildlife, who’s being subject to such elimination procedures. I’m sure they would have a different perspective from ours.

And not to just throw pest control companies under the bus, I am on this rant because of wildlife conservationists who continue to try to convince the public that the natural world needs our help in deciding which plants and animals should live and which should die. Again, I have an environmental/biology background and I have some knowledge on ecosystems and invasive species. Yes, it sucks that over time plants and animals have been transported to other parts of the world (thanks to HUMANS) where they do not belong and that they are competing with local species for resources and in many cases, the invasive species are winning…BUT isn’t that life? Isn’t that in a way the “natural” order of things? Us Americans are an invasive species who wiped out, not only entire species of plants and animals, but entire populations of people from this country. I guess as long as things benefit us, it’s okay?

I just wish conservationists would stop for a minute and think about all the killing they are doing. Yes, the world is messed up; yes, things aren’t “the way they should be.” But is killing really the way to “clean up” such a mess? You are a CONSERVATIONIST; you are supposed to be CONSERVING the natural habitat. And NO I don’t believe an acceptable method of conserving is through killing. I cannot conceive how a person, especially one who is supposed to value life, can kill animals?! Conservationists (and everyone) NEED to stop and look at the damage humans are doing to the planet and start brainstorming ways to better live in harmony WITH the environment instead of controlling it AND to stop worrying so much with what other animals are doing. I think it’s safe to say that humans have a far greater effect on the planet than any other animal species. Don’t worry conservationists, feral cats aren’t going to take over the world!

Oh yeah, and to those who call pest control companies, I get that animals can sometimes be “annoying” but please keep in mind, we are in their yard…try to have some patience and compassion for wildlife. Please try non-lethal alternatives when dealing with wild animals and know that when you pick up the phone to call someone to come out and deal with it for you, that means a death sentence for that poor raccoon or squirrel or cat who decided your attic, basement, or yard was a nice place to live.

For information on a humane "pest" control company please see our blog post on August 25, 2008 and visit 911wildlife.

Written by: Maggie Funkhouser, Director of Communications and Public Relations for ACR