Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Kittens Rescued from Combat Zone in Iraq

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Beware of Holiday Hazards: Tips on Keeping Your Cat Safe

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

The Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Help Homeless Cats by Putting on Your Sneakers

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Flowers for Ferals!

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Black Cats Need a Stroke of Luck

A black cat dressed up for the holiday. August 17 is
Black Cat Day.
So often a symbol of misfortune or a superstitious sign of imminent death, black cats themselves have something of a historic case of bad luck.

For a while, things went pretty well for black cats. In ancient Egypt, they were regarded as nearly divine, and it was considered a privilege to share a home with one. Later, everyone from sailors to monarchs seemed to favor black cats in much of the world. They were a sign of luck.

Somewhere along the way, however, fortunes changed. People began to associate black cats with witches, devils, dark magic, and all manner of disreputable subjects often linked to the darker end of the color spectrum. As a result, black cats were murdered, reviled, and burned into public memory as an omen of bad things to come.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Our Kittens Need Your Help!

Lost, a kitten who was found in a drainage pipe 
after a hurricane, warms up on a blanket.
As the weather gets warmer every spring and summer, Alley Cat Rescue takes in dozens of kittens. It’s always a busy time for us as we scramble to take care of the latest litters to come in and prepare them for adoption. And this year has been especially demanding. We’ve received far more kittens than we have in the past, because "kitten season" seems to have started earlier this year, and it continues to hold strong despite summer coming to a close.

This year we’ve taken in more than 60 kittens! We rescue some from shelters where they would otherwise be euthanized, others come from pregnant feral cats who come in through our Trap-Neuter-Return program, and many come from good Samaritans who find kittens in their backyards and neighborhoods.

One kitten, aptly named Lost, was found in a drainage pipe by two construction workers after a hurricane. And three five-week-old siblings -- Hitchcock, Craven, and Carpenter -- were stuck inside the wall of a utility closet at an apartment building! These kittens were old enough to eat solid food and care for themselves; however, some of the kittens who end up in our care, unfortunately, have been abandoned by their mothers at such a young age, they require special care from dedicated staff and foster parents in order to survive.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Dangerous Myths Surrounding FIV

Mr. Grey is FIV positive but he is still very
friendly with people and other cats and is
hoping to be adopted into a loving home.
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are, as their names suggest, fairly similar diseases - though they affect different species - and their similarities are not limited to their physical effects. Just as both are retroviruses that use the cells of the host’s body to replicate themselves and can result in immune deficiencies, both diseases are burdened with stigma.

Common practice holds that cats diagnosed with FIV are hopeless cases at best and a danger to those around them at worst. Based on these assumptions, veterinarians and caretakers often suggest euthanasia for FIV positive cats. However, common practice is not always consistent with the facts. The majority of FIV positive cats live long, healthy lives, and when fighting is eliminated, the risk of transmitting the disease to other cats is virtually nonexistent. In this case, misconceptions about the disease have created a deadly situation for infected cats.

Countless studies and testimonies from owners show that FIV positive cats are far from hopeless cases. 

Though the disease can be fatal, infection does not mean that a cat is resigned to death. Like its human counterpart, FIV acts slowly, multiplying in the lymph nodes and progressively weakening the immune system. This leaves infected cats less able to fight off infections and other viruses.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Results Are In!

Dr. Ahmad and Dr. Manzoor partner with ACR to sterilize
feral cats in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia.
Over 115 veterinary clinics across the United States participated in the fifth annual Feral Cat Spay Day held on May 27th. Veterinarians, rescue organizations, and individual caregivers worked together to provide spay/neuter services to 4,100 community cats!

Special applause goes to the Animal Welfare Society of West Kennebunk, Maine for offering FREE spay/neuter services the entire month of April, and to the Yavapai Humane Society of Prescott, Arizona for sterilizing 300 community cats so far this year.

Since the campaign stated in 2010, over 700 veterinary clinics from 45 states have joined the fight to decrease shelter euthanasia rates and prevent cat homelessness. Together, we've sterilized over 9,200 community cats, and thanks to our compassionate friends in South Africa and Canada, Feral Cat Spay Day has become an international campaign!

For more information on how you or your veterinarian can get involved, please visit our website

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Creating Partnerships to Save More Lives

In addition to advocating the humane treatment of feral cats across the country, we at Alley Cat Rescue take pride in being directly involved in rescuing, spaying/neutering, and relocating cats.

We operate locally out of Brentwood, Maryland, assisting cats throughout the state. We also help cats in neighboring Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia. For those who need our help but are located outside of our operating area, we have established a network of rescue organizations and individuals across the country, who are ready to help.

Our network of Cat Action Teams, or CATs for short, are partnering organizations that specialize in rescuing and caring for feral cats. These groups offer Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) services, and most also provide adoption services for socialized cats and kittens. A list of Cat Actions Teams can be founded on our website.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Going on Vacation? Don't Forget to Plan for Your Cat

Many aspects of vacation require a lot of planning, and preparing your cats for your departure is no exception. While you enjoy the summer with traveling, it is important to consider how your furry friends will be spending your time off.

Though a lot of people enjoy the freshness and the change in routine that a vacation offers, cats do not typically like either of these things. Cats usually have a schedule they like to stick to, and, because they are territorial animals, they tend to prefer their own home more than anyplace else.

For these reasons, the best option for what to do about your cat while your away is to leave them at home with someone who can watch them. They won’t mind being left out of the travails of travel, though they might miss you, so having someone visit will give them some needed companionship. A neighbor, a friend, a family member, or a pet sitter should come by daily (or a little more often) to make sure your cats are properly fed and taken care of.

This person should be someone you trust. You will be giving them the keys to your house as well as responsibility over your cats. Before you commit to them, you should see how they behave with your cats and make sure they can get along. You might want to consider setting up automatic feeders and water so the cats will always have food, but someone still needs to come by to make sure no cat is sick and to keep them company.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Fourth of July Safety Tips

For humans, the Fourth of July is marked by fireworks, barbecues, and celebration with family and friends. For pets, however, it is a day of mysterious explosive noises, peculiar smells, and a lot of unfamiliar and territorially intrusive people.

As they don’t fully understand the day’s patriotic significance, the holiday can be a traumatizing experience for animals. Both cats and dogs have an acute sense of hearing, so the sudden noise of firework blasts alarm and confuse them. Sometimes, they might run around and hide from the clamor. Other times, they run away.

In fact, animal shelters claim the week of July 4 is often the busiest of the year because they must provide for all of the pets that run off in fright during the celebrations. Caretakers should take special care to make sure their pets don’t escape in holiday panic.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Franklins Benefits Cats!

The Alley Cat Rescue crew had another successful fundraiser at Franklin’s on Tuesday! We were happy to see so many members of the community come out and support our cause.

Over the course of the day, we met cat-enthusiasts from around the area who came to eat and have fun at Franklin’s Restaurant in Hyattsville, where a percentage of their purchases were donated to us. As a non-profit group, we could not operate without the help of the community and the generosity of supporters, so we really appreciated the kindness of both Franklin’s and everybody else who came out to support us.

We had a great turnout, and we were excited to hear all the ways that our supporters are already helping out the cause for cats. Whether it is by adopting a cat in need of a home or taking care of a whole colony of feral cats, people are doing what they can to help. And by supporting our efforts, you help us help more cats. We proudly provide TNR services to community cats, because we care about the livelihood of all cats, feral and owned, and it’s clear that you do too. Thanks for your support!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Preparing Community Cats for Hot Weather

When we think of preparing outdoor cats for extreme weather conditions, we mostly think of the Winter months; not many of us take the Summer months into consideration. But just as it is important to provide extra care for community cats during the cold season, it is vital to take some precautions when caring for cats during the hot, dry season. Increased temperatures and humidity adds an extra stress for outdoor cats, but by taking a few simple steps, we can ease some of their stress. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Australia Plans to Infect Feral Cats with a Deadly Virus

Last week, Australia's Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, announced that the country will begin researching a virus to kill feral cats. The government has endorsed a nationwide eradication plan of feral cats in an attempt to protect Australia's birds. Research is aimed at finding a “safe and targeted form of biological control.” But how "safe" is this virus, when pet owners are warned that they must immunize their housecats, because the virus doesn't discriminate between feral and domestic. ALL cats would be at risk if this deadly virus is released.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

MD Residents: Please Voice Your Opinion to Help Feral Cats

Please take a moment to ask Mark Powell of the Department of Agriculture to help curb Maryland's pet overpopulation problem by making TNR groups eligible for grant funding under The Maryland Spay/Neuter Grant Program.

Currently one section of the language can be interpreted in a way that excludes TNR groups from being approved for funding. Including feral cats is imperative to reducing shelter admissions and euthanasia rates.

Please voice your opinion and urge the Department of Agriculture to amend the current language by clicking on the link below.


 Our kitties waiting for adoption always need food, litter, toys, etc. Please take a look at our Amazon Wish List and donate today! http://amzn.com/w/1XKUIAWGQ2SPZ

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

First Cases Documented of TB Caught From Cats

We’d like to thank Dr. Donald G. McNeil, Jr., for stating several times in his article that cat owners have virtually nothing to fear when it comes to contracting TB from their cats.

There are two types of TB: Mycobacterium tuberculosis (human tuberculosis bacteria) and Mycobacterium bovis (cattle tuberculosis bacteria). Cats are resistant to M. tuberculosis – meaning they can’t catch it, and therefore can’t transmit it to humans. Cats are usually infected by M. bovis by ingesting infected animal products, usually infected milk. TB in cats affects the gastrointestinal tract. It is very rare for cats to pass TB along to humans. As Dr. McNeil stated, the TB cases in England were all related to a single cluster of sick cats infected with M. bovis.

However, he also goes on to mention cat scratch fever and toxoplasmosis, two diseases concerning cat owners.

Toxoplasma gondii is an intestinal parasite that is a human health concern primarily for pregnant women. The main source of contamination in humans is eating or handling undercooked or raw meat. However, an infected cat may pass the oocyst of toxoplasma in feces. If the litter box is scooped frequently, and if pregnant women avoid handling cat feces from domestic or feral cats, this will lessen the risk from cats. Additionally, up to one third of the world's human population is estimated to carry Toxoplasma. The parasite rarely causes symptoms in otherwise healthy adults. However, those at risk are people with a weakened immune system, such as AIDS, or pregnant women who can pass along the parasite to their unborn child.

This causes lymph node enlargement, fever, fatigue, sore throat, and headaches. Although most patients do not become seriously ill and recover without complications, anyone who has been scratched should immediately wash the wound immediately with soap and hot water then clean with Iodine, alcohol, or peroxide. Clean the wound three times a day, rinse with running water to remove dirt and bacteria, wipe with hydrogen peroxide, apply antibiotic ointment, and cover the wound with a bandage.

With proper litterbox practices and immediate care of any wounds, Toxoplasmosis and cat scratch fever are easily preventable and shouldn’t be concerns for cat owners.

Monday, March 17, 2014

ACR Supports National Do Not Adopt Registry

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has started a campaign to create a national registry of animal abusers to try prevent them from adopting animals in the future, even if they move to a different state than where they were originally convicted.  Alley Cat Rescue believes that this is an important step in keeping all animals safe and making sure that when they are adopted, they are going into loving homes where they will be protected.

While many states have enacted state-wide databases, these do little to prevent animal abusers of procuring more animals in different jurisdictions.  Take the case of Heidi Erickson.  From the ALDF run website, www.exposeanimalabusers.org: In 2003, Boston authorities raided Heidi Erickson’s filthy apartment, seizing dozens of dead cats, five cats who were near death, and a Great Dane so emaciated he was unable to walk. Erickson’s apartment was condemned and a Housing Court judge banned her from living in Boston with cats. One month after the Boston raid, Watertown police seized 50 sick cats and a dozen dead ones from Erickson’s second apartment. All of the living cats were ultimately euthanized.
In the Boston case, Erickson was found guilty of six counts of animal cruelty and sentenced to 3 years of probation. She was allowed to have animals, and the four surviving cats were returned to her. Charges in the Watertown case were dismissed.
In 2009, Erickson resurfaced in Plymouth where authorities removed three dead cats and eleven living cats, some needing immediate medical attention and some suffering from dehydration, malnutrition, and open sores. Erickson was convicted of eight counts of animal cruelty and sentenced to 90 days in jail and 5 years of probation, during which she must have no contact with any animals and must take anger management classes.
In 2010 (prior to her sentencing in Plymouth, Mass.), Erickson moved to Kentucky where deputies discovered five cats and two horses allegedly living in poor conditions.
Animal hoarders, like Erickson, are frequently responsible for causing dozens and even hundreds of animals to suffer for years, and they exhibit recidivism rates near 100%, especially in the absence of counseling and court-ordered bans on possessing animals.

If there was a national database, it would be easier to prevent these kind of repeat abuse cases.  Please visit aldf.org and exposeanimalabusers.org to find out how you can support these efforts.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Can you help Shelter "Jessica" in Serbia?

We recently received a letter from Sandra, a great supporter of Shelter Jessica, one of only two registered cat shelters in all of Serbia.  These pictures are some of the cats who need to find homes.

This shelter needs our help and support.  Despite their efforts, adoptions are hard and only 50 cats have found forever homes, mostly abroad.  Sandra writes "This shelter is unfortunately struggling to keep taking care of its 146 cats at the shelter made by the shelter’s owner, Ms. Zlata Korjenic , who has spent her whole life fighting a corrupt and abusive animal “welfare” system in Serbia. Her Cat Shelter Jessica is in her own house, which she so graciously donated to the shelter, and she is taking care of all the cats by herself and with an occasional help from a few volunteers. Ms. Zlata is a true hero that never got the recognition she deserved and help that her cats desperately need."

Ms. Zlata also wrote a letter, explaining that the donations of food from the city have stopped, which have put them in a desperate situation as far as resources go.  

If you can help, please contact them any of the following ways:
Cat Shelter Jessica
Zlata Korjenić, Predsednik Help Animals
Beograd, Sestara Janković 12, Serbia, Europe
tel. 011/2755-358
mob. 063/253-776

Monday, February 24, 2014

Washington DC vs. PG County

Recently, the blog "Out the Front Door", a blog that focuses on communities that report saving 90% or more of shelter animals did post in their "worth watching" category about Washington, DC.  The "worth watching" category lists communities whose animal shelter systems are doing substantially better than average, but have not reported a sustained (for one year or more) 90%+ live release rate. 

According to the post on "Out the Front Door"In a recent article the WHS vice-president of external affairs, Scott Giacoppo, said that WHS had its best year ever in 2013, with a live release rate of just over 80%, including wildlife. Giacoppo said that the shelter had an intake in 2013 of 10,474 animals, which is 17 animals per 1000 people in the district itself. Giacoppo attributed the shelter’s improvement in recent years to several factors, including new adoption policies, off-site adoption events, discounted and free adoptions, an expanded foster program, the community cat program, and a program to work with landlords. He also credited a new perception on the part of the public about the shelter, noting that in the past the shelter had been seen as “a dark, dreary place where animals come to die.”"

This is a stark contrast to the Prince George's County shelter, which has recently been making headlines because the shelter staff euthanized a healthy, pregnant dog just hours before a rescue group was coming to pick her up due to a paperwork mix-up. 

The article points out that PG County euthanizes twice as many animals as Washington, DC.  " Last year, the shelter euthanized 45 percent of the animals that came in. "

The dichotomy between these two programs is especially interesting to us because our office is located in PG county, but very close to the border of Washington DC, and it is important for us to keep up with what is going on.  

How can PG County catch up DC in terms of bringing down their euthanasia rate?  They have a model right next door for programs that work.  Let's hope that they take note, and those of us who live in and work in this area should push for our representatives in the county to fight for the animals here to have a chance.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Meet Julie

Julie is ACR's newest employee.  She is going to help with administrative work, as well as help with fundraising.  

Hi! I’m Julie and I’m new to Alley Cat Rescue. I’m originally from Oklahoma, and moved to the D.C. area

after college. I’m the mom of an almost five-year-old dilute tortoiseshell calico named Isabelle and a year-and-a-half-old pug named Henry.

Prior to coming to ACR, I worked at the George Washington University, but also worked as a kitten adoption counselor. I’m happy to be here with ACR and look forward to helping many cats in the future!

Friday, January 31, 2014

NYS Devocalization Bill Could Hurt Animals: Why You MUST Learn About Amendments

Important Alert from Animal Advocates of Western NY,NYS Humane Association and Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets
Do you know why a law allowing devocalization ("bark softening") for "medical necessity" would hurt dogs and cats?

Or how a law allowing it as a "last resort" or "final alternative to euthanasia" would cause even more animals to suffer and die?

We've been forewarned by NYS legislators that the pending devocalization bill will NOT become law without amendments such as these, pushed by powerful special interests that profit from dog/cat devocalization.
They are loopholes--subtle, ever-evolving and dangerous to animals. Scroll down, learn more, to protect dogs and cats.

The only way the devocalization ban should become law is in the same form it left the Assembly on January 23. NO amendments.

Here are 3 amendments that would HURT animals.
Click on the link to see more.

1. Why Would "Allowable for Medical Necessity" Make the Law Unenforceable?
"Medically necessary" or "medically beneficial" enables vets, who profit from voice-altering surgery, to perform it without any restriction. To protect animals from having their vocal cords cut for barking or meowing, "medical necessity" MUST be defined as this"to treat aPHYSICAL illness, injury or birth defect causing medical harm that cannot be remedied by other veterinary care."

2. Why Would "Allowable as a Last Resort/Final Alternative" Hurt More Animals Than Having No Law?

The "last resort/final alternative" proposal hurts animals in two ways. 

It keeps devocalization/bark softening legal because the law can never be enforced. No vet can know, some won't ask, if voice-altering surgery is a last or first resort. And no vet can know if a client provides responsible care. Animals who don’t receive the companionship, exercise and mental stimulation they need express their distress vocally.

Worse, this loophole codifies voice-altering surgery--an act of cruelty--as an acceptable practice. That can only result in more dogs and cats subjected to risky, painful vocal cord surgery just for barking or meowing. 

Reality Check: NO vet is forced to cut healthy vocal cords OR kill a healthy animal for barking or meowing. Shelter executives say surrender is kinder...and that devocalized animals are given up like any other. They just suffer more.
3. Why Not Allow "Bark Softening" and Ban Devocalization?
Because they're the same thing! Lobbyists claim "bark softening" is different, a benign, "non-invasive" procedure. That is patently false. The soft tissue of the vocal apparatus must be cut to alter the voice. Regardless of the surgical route, through the oral cavity (spun as "bark softening") or an incision in the neck, it indeed is invasive, painful--and dangerous, causing animals lifelong misery or a terrible death.
Learn about the Bark Softening Lie:

Please contact your New York State legislators and tell them why these loopholes will hurt animals.  Don't know who your NYS senator is?  Look it up here: http://www.nysenate.gov/senators