National Rescue Dog Day: Bubba Lou’s Story

May 19th, 2023 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Adopt A Shelter Pet | Adoption Story | Animal Rescue | Animal Welfare | Feel Good Story | Humane Pennsylvania - (Comments Off on National Rescue Dog Day: Bubba Lou’s Story)

Written by Katie Litz, Humane Pennsylvania Animal Care Coordinator

In celebration of National Rescue Dog Day on May 20, we are highlighting one of the many rescue dogs that have come into our shelter with a rough start, but a very happy ending.

Bubba Lou, a 6-year-old neutered male American Pit Bull Terrier, was surrendered to the Lancaster Center for Animal Life-Saving on February 1, 2023, as his previous caretaker could no longer continue to care for him. Bubba’s previous caretaker informed our Animal Care Technicians that Bubba Lou was used as a bait dog when he was younger, so in turn, he was very scared of other dogs.

The technicians knew that Bubba was going to be a special adoption case, due to this past history. Overall, Bubba Lou was a pretty laid-back dog that would frequently roll over for belly scratches or would cry when technicians would leave the room. He quickly became a staff favorite, and was winning hearts left and right!

Bubba was adopted on March 16, 2023, but was unfortunately returned to the Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving four days later, due to the new caretaker’s allergies. He then spent almost two months waiting for his forever home. He was featured multiple times on HPA social media, and he saw hundreds of animals get adopted before him. Through it all, Bubba Lou never faltered, and continued being his amazing, friendly, belly-scratch-loving dog!

On May 7, 2023 after 82 days, Bubba Lou was adopted and walked out the shelter doors for the last time to finally go home with his forever family!

Bubba Lou is one of the thousands of dogs, cats, and critters Humane Pennsylvania helps throughout the year. Please consider visiting the Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving or the Lancaster Center for Animal Life-Saving and learn more about adopting a new friend, fostering an animal that is struggling in the shelter, volunteering your time, or donating to HPA. Your support is vital to our mission! Thank you for helping us save lives.

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March 28th: Respect Your Cat Day

March 28th, 2023 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Adopt A Shelter Cat | Animal Health | Animal Welfare | Cat Lovers | Healthy Pets | Healthy Pets Initiative | Humane Pennsylvania - (Comments Off on March 28th: Respect Your Cat Day)

Written by Alexandra Young, Humane Pennsylvania Community Outreach Programs Manager

Many refer to me as a “crazy cat lady,” but I don’t mind. I have spent more than 20 years advocating for the rights of and implementing humane management of free-roaming/community/feral cats in Berks County. I took care of 29 inside cats for four years and have volunteered in animal rescue for my entire life.

Today, as an animal welfare professional, I learned that there is an official “Respect Your Cat Day” every March 28th[1] and according to my brief research on the holiday, it may have stemmed from an edict proclaimed by King Richard II on March 28, 1384 – that people shall no longer eat cats! In any case, I don’t need someone to tell me not to eat my pets… To honor, cherish and celebrate every cat that I have “owned,” trapped/sterilized/released, rescued, or humanely euthanized, I sincerely hope this little write-up will remind my fellow humans how fortunate we are to be tolerated by these creatures and the glimpse they give us of the “wild” animal from which they originated, while we enjoy their companionship and silly antics.

There is still speculation on how long “our house cats” have been domesticated, but a 2007 study published in Science research journal obtained more data on the genetic analysis. The authors of that study claim that all domestic cats are descendants of a Middle Eastern wildcat (Felis silvestris) and the domestication process started up to 12,000 years ago[2]. Regardless of how many years have passed, with nearly 32 million U.S. households having at least one cat[3], it’s clear that they are still in fact considered family members.

Here are ways to respect and honor your kitty through healthy enrichment (check out sites like Etsy and Pinterest for lots of inspiration for the first two ideas):

  • Build a Catio[4]: A Catio is an enclosed outdoor space that is “kitty-accessible” through an interior window. There are kits and designs for every budget and if you’re handy, you’ll have a great time designing and building your own. If you have a limited budget or are short on space and skills, consider hiring a contractor to build you a “kitty window”, which is essentially a cage that is the same size as a window air-conditioner unit and installed the same way. I guarantee your cat will enjoy the sights and smells of the outside world, but will remain safely on your property.
  • Create a wall gym: choose a dedicated wall or room and build UP with shelves and posts. Not only is this a great boredom buster, but it can alleviate pecking order and other behavioral issues by giving cat(s) a safe and instinctive retreat from dominant cats, dogs, toddlers, or other “annoyances.”
  • Use interactive food puzzles and toys: house cats can become lazy, bored, and overweight due to lack of activity, free feeding of too much dry food, and busy schedules. Having the opportunity to forage for food will offer mental stimulation and a calorie-burning activity.
  • Foster a shelter or rescue cat: Save a life and see if your kitty becomes more curious, playful, and energized with another feline friend. If you confirm that they don’t enjoy the company, you’re wiser to their needs and you can spend more quality time with your one cat!
  • Don’t declaw your cat. It’s the same as amputating every tip of each of your fingers…OUCH! Cats need their claws to scratch. Scratching helps our feline friends build muscle and mark their territory, and it is an important natural behavior. Their retractable claws are truly an engineering marvel that should be left as nature intended. Give your cat a great scratching post or pad and reward them lavishly for using it while redirecting inappropriate scratching to that post. Cats learn by positive reinforcement and do not respond well to aversive methods like spray bottles and shock mats.
  • Commit to playing with your kitty for at least 10 minutes per day before their meal: See your cat in its truest form by initiating the “hunt/catch/kill/eat” instincts as described by cat behavior expert Jackson Galaxy[5], whose website is full of excellent feline behavioral and health information to help you improve your cat’s quality of life with you.

Although your cat still exhibits some wildness about them, rest assured that they are dependent on you to provide healthy food, adequate shelter, proper stimulation, and an annual veterinary exam to keep them in tip-top shape.

Most of my cats have lived to be almost 20 years old (and older!) so don’t delay, contact our Humane Veterinary Hospitals (HVH) today for an appointment. We usually have appointments available within the same week and as the only AAHA-accredited, non-profit veterinary hospital in Berks County, we offer low-cost, high-quality medical care to your pet while you support our charitable cause to help thousands of homeless pets every year.


[1] https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/respect-your-cat-day/

[2] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/a-brief-history-of-house-cats-158390681/

[3]https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/reports-statistics/us-pet-ownership-statistics

[4]https://habitathaven.com/collections/catio-kits

[5] https://www.jacksongalaxy.com/

 

 

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Big (and little) Changes Coming to Lancaster (and Berks!)

March 9th, 2023 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Animal Welfare | Healthy Pets | Healthy Pets Initiative | Humane Pennsylvania | Humane Veterinary Hospitals | Walk-In Vet Clinic - (Comments Off on Big (and little) Changes Coming to Lancaster (and Berks!))

Written by: Humane Pennsylvania CEO & President, Karel Minor

Last year, Humane Pennsylvania made some huge leaps forward. Our veterinary services expanded by opening HPA’s Healthy Pets Walk-In Clinic in Berks and Lancaster.  This unique, no-appointment wellness option, priced at 40% of standard pricing, opened a door to pet caretakers for accessing vet care who were not served by existing veterinary options. It proved overwhelmingly popular, and we quickly expanded and filled!

In Berks County: Every Wednesday, 9 AM – 5 PM and Every Friday, 9 AM – 1 PM at the Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving, 1801 N. 11th St., Reading, PA 19604, Phone: 610-921-2348, [email protected]

In Lancaster County: Every Thursday, 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM, at the HPA Lancaster Campus, 2195 Lin­coln High­way East, Lan­caster, PA 17602, Phone: 610-921-8387 (VETS), [email protected]

Beginning in 2023, HPA unveiled affordable and accessible, all-in-one spay & neuter services in Berks County. We also began testing a new approach to sterilizing feral cat colonies that focuses intensive efforts on entire colonies at once (much more to come on that in the future!).

We still have more to do, and much of our effort will be directed at HPA’s Lancaster facilities and services. Through the end of 2023, volunteers and the public will see some changes at the Lancaster Center for Animal Life-Saving and the adoption and veterinary services offered at that campus. Some of these changes will be big and permanent. Some changes will be temporary and will allow us to begin renovations and program expansion within the campus. These changes will include:

  • A reimagining of the quality of care, breadth of programs, and major housing renovations for cats, critters, and exotics.
  • Renovation and rehab of dog kenneling and a filling of service gaps identified by dog caretakers, our staff, and volunteers.
  • Expansion of signature HPA programs like Spike’s Pet Pantry and the Healthy Pets Initiative into Lancaster.
  • Expansion of HPA’s more accessible and affordable spay & neuter services and feral cat colony services.

Some of these improvements are coming very soon! New spay & neuter services and feral cat colony caretaker outreach will begin at the Lancaster campus around April 1! Renovations to the cat, dog, critter, and exotic animal housing will start, and the full introduction of Healthy Pets Initiative programs will be ongoing throughout the year. New service options designed to fill service gaps will be introduced as these programs are developed, and the facility is properly outfitted.

Some of these new service options may include PetNet emergency board expansions; services in support of HPA’s partnership with the American Red Cross and PA State Animal Response Team; and new program options to help caretakers of dogs, especially those with special needs that may impede their ability to access services.

What does this mean for the community, volunteers, and staff? Ultimately, it means better services, options, and facilities to serve animals and people better.  However, in the short term, it means Humane PA will be operating almost all dog adoption & intake services at its newly renovated and rebuilt Berks County campus.

We will be asking the public to contact HPA’s Reading campus for those services for much of the remainder of 2023. Doing this will allow us to make critically needed improvements more quickly, economically, and with less stress on our animals and people. Unfortunately, that also means there will be minimal dog care volunteer opportunities for a short time at HPA’s Lancaster facility. All current and new dog volunteers will be invited to schedule shifts in Reading using HPA’s new Better Impact Volunteer App.  Cat and critter services and volunteer opportunities will remain unchanged but may be subject to occasional disruptions due to renovations and program expansions.

The inconvenience of the work we are doing in the coming months will result in better outcomes for animals and better access to HPA’s exceptional services and programs for years to come. We will be updating the community regularly through newsletters and social media. We will also be re-introducing HPA’s Welcome Waggin’ tours in April to offer you a behind-the-scenes look at the work we are doing to better serve animals and people!

We appreciate the understanding, support, and patience of our volunteers and the community as we take the next big steps to building the best communities anywhere to be an animal or an animal caretaker.

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February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month!

February 23rd, 2023 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Animal Health | Animal Welfare | Healthy Pets | Healthy Pets Initiative | Humane Pennsylvania | Humane Veterinary Hospitals | Uncategorized - (Comments Off on February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month!)

Spay/Neuter Awareness Month: The Benefits of Spaying and Neutering Your Pets

Written by Humane Pennsylvania Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Alicia Simoneau 

Thursday, February 23, 2023, is World Spay Day, and Humane Pennsylvania is observing the holiday by speaking on the benefits of spaying and neutering your pets. Companion animals not only help us stay happy and healthy, but they are like members of our families. They must receive necessary medical care so that we can enjoy as much time with them as possible. Maintaining your pet’s well-being can be achieved through preventative measures such as regular veterinary exams, vaccinations, antiparasitic medications, and spay/neuter procedures. 

Humane Pennsylvania’s Healthy Pets Initiative aims to provide access to affordable veterinary care for all pet owners and their furry companions. Our primary focus has been preventative care to avoid future illnesses, especially those with substantial price tags. We proudly announce that Humane Pennsylvania now offers affordable spay and neuter procedures at our Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving.  Spaying and neutering your pet is another way to prevent future medical problems while decreasing the number of homeless pets entering our shelters.

What Does it Mean to Spay or Neuter Your Pet? 

Spaying and neutering are surgical procedures that will prevent your pet from reproducing. These procedures are usually performed at six months of age and under anesthesia with appropriate pain medication. Spaying is an abdominal surgery in which the female reproductive organs, including the uterus and ovaries, are removed. Neutering means removing both testicles through a small incision at or above the scrotum. 

What are the Medical Benefits of Sterilization?

Spaying or neutering your pet doesn’t just prevent unwanted puppies or kittens, but it also has many medical benefits. Dogs and cats spayed earlier in life are less likely to develop mammary cancer. In addition, this procedure will prevent ovarian cancer and life-threatening infections within the reproductive tract. These illnesses are painful, and treatments can be very costly. Spaying your pet will also avoid high-risk pregnancies or birth complications that require emergency care. Neutering your pets can prevent prostate issues and testicular cancer.

Sterilization can reduce or eliminate unwanted behaviors such as urine marking and aggression. Unneutered male dogs and cats are more likely to roam, putting them at risk of getting lost or hit by a car. 

How does Spay/Neuter Help our Community? 

Controlling the population of unwanted dogs and cats in our communities can save lives! Shelters like ours do our best to offer every animal a warm bed, a full belly, and the necessary medical care to ensure the best quality of life. Unfortunately, the more homeless animals in our community, the harder it is for us to help each one find the homes they deserve. Spaying and neutering companion animals keep them safe, healthy, and at home with you – the caretakers who love them.

Humane Pennsylvania’s Affordable Spay/Neuter Clinic is now taking appointments every Tuesday and offers sterilization packages that include vaccines, microchips, and antiparasitic medications. Providing this high-quality, low-cost option for surgery will decrease the number of homeless pets in our community and our shelters. In addition, spaying and neutering your pets will prevent future costly issues such as uterine infections, cancers, and behavioral problems. For more information or to make an appointment, please visit our website: Affordable Spay/Neuter – Humane Pennsylvania (humanepa.org)

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February is National Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month!

February 9th, 2023 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Adopt A Shelter Pet | Animal Welfare | Humane Pennsylvania - (Comments Off on February is National Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month!)
By: Laura Gibbs, Humane Pennsylvania Customer Care Representative

February is National Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month, and ironically 2023 is the Year of the Water Rabbit! At Humane Pennsylvania, we’re excited to shine the spotlight on these fuzzy little friends!

Rabbits have been in our lives since the 5th century, when these adorable creatures won the hearts of humans and were domesticated to be pets. Did you know rabbits are currently the second-most popular pet, after goldfish? And according to insider.com*, other than cats and dogs, rabbits are one of the most popular pets in the U.S. — second only to goldfish. It’s no wonder these critters get a whole month dedicated to finding their forever homes.

Aside from cats and dogs, rabbits are the animal we most see being surrendered. And they’re typically surrendered for the same reasons — a lack of space, the children lost interest in them, or they’re too much work.

In my opinion, rabbits are the perfect blend of cat and dog — in a truly awesome, cuddly package. These small creatures bond with their people, just like cats and dogs do. And they love playing with toys. Chew toys, batting toys, hanging toys, crinkly toys, puzzle toys, cardboard boxes, things they can jump on or climb onto or dig in — all are AMAZING in the eyes of a bun. You can teach them anything you can teach a dog: sit, stay, jumping through hoops, jump up, etc. There’s simply no end to what you can fill their little heads with.

The big thing to remember when bringing home a bun is space. Rabbits’ personalities flourish when they’re allowed to free roam in a rabbit-proofed room or area, or even the whole house. When they’re able to free roam, they have plenty of space to be as happy as they can be. And rabbits do a special little thing all their own when they’re happy — it’s called binkying.

Basically, binkying is a bunny happy dance where they jump up and twist around in the air, sometimes in both directions, before they land. Imagine being so incredibly happy that the only thing you can do is jump as high as you can and wiggle your entire body while in the air — which can be more than a little challenging to do in a cramped rabbit cage. If you’ve never seen a rabbit binky, you are missing out on one of life’s most adorable animal-related activities.

Now, I know you are probably thinking, “But what about all the poop? I can’t have a rabbit free roam with all that poop!” There’s a very simple solution. Remember I mentioned all those super cool things you can teach your bunny? Well, one of those things is litter training! That’s right, you can teach your bun to use a litterbox just like you would a feline friend. Amazing, right?

And with plenty of toys and encouragement, you can even teach your bun what is and isn’t appropriate to chew on. Like I said, they’re the perfect blend of cat and dog.

You do have to keep in mind, however, that owning a rabbit (just like any other pet) isn’t always all fun and games. You need to be prepared for the inevitable vet bills, and establishing a relationship with an exotics vet will ease some of your worries if an emergency should one day occur.

Rabbits should also be spayed or neutered, even if you plan on only housing one bunny. There are many benefits to spaying or neutering your rabbit, which makes it almost silly not to. Like cats, rabbits tend to spray when they are not sterilized, and unaltered rabbits can be a little testy. Altered rabbits are less destructive (with chewing and digging), and female rabbits that aren’t spayed have an 85% chance of developing reproductive cancers. Rabbits can live up to 10 years, and wouldn’t you want your bun to live as happily and be as healthy as they can?

I hope I’ve convinced you that rabbits are pretty amazing creatures and make wonderful pets. Both Humane Pennsylvania adoption centers are almost always overflowing with buns, so be sure to skip the pet store and celebrate Adopt a Rabbit month with us!

To adopt a shelter critter today, please visit humanepa.org!

*SOURCE: https://www.insider.com/most-popular-pets-in-the-us-2018-7#poultry-is-a-very-popular-choice-4

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How to Support the Animals on Change A Pet’s Life Day (January 24th)

January 16th, 2023 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Adopt A Shelter Cat | Adopt A Shelter Pet | Animal Welfare | Cat Lovers | Healthy Pets | Humane Pennsylvania | Humane Veterinary Hospitals | Uncategorized - (Comments Off on How to Support the Animals on Change A Pet’s Life Day (January 24th))
Written By: Humane Pennsylvania Media Specialist, Maggie McDevitt

Every year on January 24th, animal lovers and advocates everywhere celebrate Change A Pet’s Life Day, which is a special day for encouraging people to adopt shelter pets and raise awareness in the community about vulnerable animals in need. In fact, Humane PA is hosting a four-day fee-waived adoption event in celebration of Change A Pet’s Life Day, generously sponsored by Fleetwood Bank and Summit Advisory Investment Banking.

There are many ways to celebrate and change a shelter pet’s life for the better. Although adoptions are encouraged, and many shelters including Humane Pennsylvania do reduce adoption fees to celebrate, you don’t necessarily have to adopt a new pet every year to make a positive impact on Change A Pet’s Life Day.

Here are seven ways you can support Humane PA and improve a shelter pet’s life on Change A Pet’s Life Day.

Adopt, Of Course!

Many shelters and adoption centers, including Humane PA, have reduced or waived adoption fees for Change A Pet’s Life Day, so it’s an excellent time to look into adopting! Check out our Adoptable Pets page, or visit your closest Humane PA adoption center to see what dogs, cats, and critters we have available for adoption.

Foster a Shelter Pet

Fostering a shelter pet is a great way to make an impact on an animal’s life. Adopting is a big commitment, so it’s natural to feel unprepared. If you aren’t in the right position to adopt just yet, you can foster a Humane PA shelter pet instead. Foster families provide a life-saving second chance to animals in need. Foster animals can range from puppies and kittens too young to be put up for adoption, those recovering from surgery, animals who find it difficult to adjust to the shelter, etc.

As a foster volunteer, you are not financially responsible for the animal. All vet care and supplies are provided by Humane PA and there is always a staff member available to help with questions. Fosters also help other animals by freeing up shelter space and resources, so new intakes can get the care they need and have a better chance at finding a forever home.

More information about fostering a shelter pet, including our foster application, can be found on the Foster Care page of the Humane PA website.

Make a One-Time or Monthly Donation

When running a shelter, costs tend to add up quickly. As a non-profit, we rely on donations from animal lovers everywhere so we can take care of as many animals as possible. By donating to Humane PA for Change A Pet’s Life Day, you are ensuring that animals in need receive food, medical care, vaccines, microchips, and everything else they require to live a happy and healthy life in their new home.

A bonus? Most donations to the shelter can be written off on your taxes!

Volunteer Your Time

Our Berks and Lancaster shelter campuses are always in need of volunteers to help walk dogs, clean kennels and attend to the animals while they wait for their forever homes. Volunteering your time helps the shelter care for all the animals they look after, and it benefits the animal to get some much-needed socialization, which helps the animal become a better candidate for adoption. Volunteering makes an immense difference in the lives of animals waiting to find their new families.

You can learn more about becoming a Humane PA Volunteer and other available volunteer opportunities here!

Raise Awareness

Help Humane PA spread the word about Change A Pet’s Life Day, and our fee-waived adoption event happening from January 21st to January 24th at both HPA adoption centers in Berks County and Lancaster County.

Spread the word to all your friends, and make our upcoming adoption event a fun way to touch base with the people you care about for a good cause. The animals will appreciate it, and you’ll get even more people involved.

Share Your Story

A simple way to encourage others to make a difference in an animal’s life is to share your own story. Where did you meet your animal? Were they adopted from HPA? Was it love at first sight? What were the hardest obstacles? How has your pet changed your life for the better and vice versa?

Showing the positive impact your pet has brought into your life is a great way to show others the benefits of having a pet. You’ll be helping to encourage adoptions, and it’s an easy opportunity to brag about your pet, which is something we pet lovers are always obliged to.

Change Your Pet’s Routine

You may have already adopted a pet of your own, and that’s always the first step in changing an animal’s life for the better. However, you can always make changes to your pet’s lifestyle and ways to improve your own bond with your pet.

Try teaching your pet some new tricks, or get into a new exercise routine, while utilizing the Humane PA Danielle Ruiz-Murphy Dog Park. Find ways to connect with your pet on a deeper level. Time for a check-up? Bring your pet to one of our Humane Veterinary Hospitals, Affordable Walk-In Clinics, Pay-What-You-Can Clinics, or Affordable Spay/Neuter Clinics to make sure your pet is happy and healthy, as part of our Healthy Pets Initiative.

Making positive changes to your pet’s routine will also have you double-checking your own wellness.

In what ways will you be making a difference for Change A Pet’s Life Day? Do you have a life-changing adoption story to share? Let us know in the comments!

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Humane Pennsylvania’s 2022 Year in Review (and 2023 Preview)

January 3rd, 2023 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Animal Health | Animal Rescue | Animal Welfare | Healthy Pets | Healthy Pets Initiative | Humane Pennsylvania | Humane Veterinary Hospitals - (Comments Off on Humane Pennsylvania’s 2022 Year in Review (and 2023 Preview))

Written by: Humane Pennsylvania CEO & President, Karel Minor

“Without people, you’re nothing.”  This quote by the late, great Joe Strummer hangs on the wall of Humane PA’s conference room along with our Mission Statement. It’s a reminder that while Humane Pennsylvania exists to help animals in need, we can only do that through people’s assistance, partnership, and support. It’s also a reason for concern on the horizon and why this year’s review will look back a little further than usual.

Not too long ago, the universal sentiment- and it’s still all too common today- is that people were the primary problem facing animals. Animal welfare was suspicious, barrier erecting, and often openly hostile toward the public. Adopters were mercilessly grilled, those asking for help were judged by inconsistent and arbitrary standards, and facts and data had no place in a world that ran on feelings and personal opinions. It was a good place for people to engage, but it certainly wasn’t a good place for animals.

Thankfully, this has started to change to benefit animals and those who want to help them. Humane PA has been a leader in promoting a model of services that views people as the solution to the problems facing animals. While that doesn’t seem radical now, this approach was highly controversial and actively opposed in the recent past. The most vitriolic opposition came from the animal welfare community itself.

When Humane PA created Ani-Meals on Wheels (now Spike’s Pet Pantry), one of the nation’s first pet food support programs, we received hate mail from other animal shelters for giving away food to people whom they felt shouldn’t have pets because they couldn’t afford them. Today, pet food pantries are ubiquitous and serve millions of people in need trying to provide for their pets during challenging economic times.

When Humane PA created PetNet, our emergency foster program that provided temporary housing for those fleeing domestic violence or facing medical or other personal crises, we had pushback from within our own staff. They questioned why we would take space from “real” homeless pets for people who should work out their issues or give up their pets. Today, relinquishment prevention foster programs are standard practice in animal welfare.

When Humane PA created the “Free to a Great Home” fee-waived adoption program, the very first formal, public program of its kind in the country, it was widely derided…again, especially within the animal welfare community, as being dangerous for animals. Wouldn’t people who didn’t pay for them mistreat or neglect them? Spoiler alert: No. The data never supported that belief. In fact, the most dangerous place in America for an animal to be was an animal shelter. Fee-waived adoptions saved lives, reduced euthanasia, and had successful placement rates as good or better than fee-based adoptions. Fee-waived adoption events are also now ubiquitous and standard practice within animal welfare.

When Humane PA opened the first full-service non-profit veterinary practice in Pennsylvania (back when you could count all such practices in the nation on two hands and two feet), we were threatened with lawsuits and legislation by the organizations representing the veterinary community. Fortunately, they came to see the error- and pointlessness- in these anti-competitive and anti-pet caretaker ways, and we’ve mended fences. We are now one of the largest veterinary practices in the region, we are nationally accredited, and the number of non-profit veterinary practices is exploding nationwide.

I’m taking this time to look backward, not just to brag about how Humane PA has been a leader in all these areas. OK, maybe a little. But these are reminders that time and again, Humane PA has chosen paths that were only sometimes easy or popular because they were the best choices to help animals. While we may have recognized that these were the right roads to take, we could only walk them because we had people’s steadfast support. A board of directors empowering staff to break new ground, donors willing to support the work financially, and volunteers standing shoulder to shoulder with staff to do the job. Without these people, these efforts could have amounted to nothing. With their help, scrappy little Humane PA (once scrappy little Humane Society of Berks County) became a national leader in animal welfare and helped redefine how organizations nationwide help animals.

I know that’s a bold claim, but a real one, particularly in non-profit veterinary services. When we started our practice nearly twenty years ago, it was a unicorn. No longer. In October, Humane Pennsylvania staff was asked to present and moderate three workshops and panels at the first national Access to Veterinary Care (AVC) Conference. Hosted by the University of Minneapolis Veterinary School and ASPCA, hundreds of attendees represented hundreds of existing non-profit vet practices of every shape and size and came together to share and learn. HPA was recognized as one of the oldest and most comprehensive veterinary programs and is still on the cutting edge of program development.

I was incredibly proud of the animal welfare community that has come around to seeing that access to vet care is one of the most effective ways to improve the lives of animals. I was also very proud of our staff for leading the way to help define and create this new approach. Before HSUS’ Pets For Life existed or big national foundations and organizations provided a penny of funding for access to vet care efforts, before there was enough critical mass to inspire a national conference on AVC work, Humane PA was doing the work, promoting the approach, and giving AVC workshops at any conference or meeting that would have us.

These efforts, particularly in combination with spay/neuter efforts and the change in expectations commonly summed up as the “no-kill” philosophy, have resulted in 90% fewer animals euthanized in shelters than in 1970. The outcomes are even better in some areas of the US and Berks and Lancaster Counties. Since 2005, shelter euthanasia at our Berks and Lancaster shelters has declined by 98%- 10,000 animals a year. During the same period, HPA shelters had an 82% decrease in intake, thanks to improved relinquishment prevention services, access to pre-emptive services, and changes in the community’s expectations.

Shelters in our region and across the country now face routine periods of having too few animals available for adoption to meet the need! Humane Pennsylvania and many other organizations are focusing more resources on access to veterinary care and social service supports than on shelter programs. Some organizations are even considering divesting themselves of their shelter divisions entirely to focus on more cost-effective and broadly impactful programs like veterinary services.

And this is where I finally bring it back to my concern and how it informs our work in the new year. All these great programs and services have profoundly impacted positive incomes for animals and do so more affordably and sustainably for animal welfare organizations. Humane Pennsylvania has been redirecting our resources to address the increasing needs of pet caretakers asking for something other than a shelter to surrender an animal. Giving up a pet to an animal shelter should never have been the first, only, and easiest option for a caretaker in need. And that’s precisely what it was- what animal shelters made it– for nearly 100 years. However, there will always be a need for a safe haven for temporarily or permanently homeless pets. There will be a need for a place where people can bring a pet when they are genuinely at the end of the capacity or ability to keep it. We cannot throw shelters on the scrap heap of other harmful and counterproductive programs or beliefs (remember when you couldn’t adopt black cats at Halloween because…Satanists?) just because it’s less fun, more expensive, and has a more negligible impact than all our new-fangled access to vet care work.

However, sheltering needs to be put in the proper context of need, resources, and effectiveness, combined with supportive programs. Our goal should be to keep every pet at home, using every tool in the kit, but access to a shelter when all else fails has to be an option.

That’s why two years ago, we opened a two million dollar investment in sheltering, the Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving, which featured dramatically improved animal and adoption space. But it also houses expanded veterinary services for sheltered animals and is

the first non-profit walk-in animal clinic in the region. The Healthy Pets Walk-In Clinic, which opened in May of 2022, provides vital vaccination and wellness care at 40% off standard veterinary costs, making it more accessible to those with limited economic resources. It recently treated its 1,000th client.

Last year HPA expanded its Healthy Pets Initiative Pay-What-You-Can vaccine and microchip clinics to the veterinary desert of Lancaster City. Although it required a significant scaling back of our general practice hours at the HVH Lancaster hospital due to the ongoing national veterinary shortage, we knew it was the right way to get the most needed help to the most pets cared for by the population with the highest need. Also, if you are a veterinarian looking to work someplace that is changing the world, call me!

Next year, we will be doing even more. In 2023, Humane PA will open a Community Resource Center in Lancaster to mirror the work done by our Reading Community Resource Center. Pet food pantry, affordable spay/neuter, pay-what-you-can vaccines, caretaker support services, and emergency response will be coming to Lancaster to neighborhoods and pets who need it the most and have the least access. And both CRCs may even be getting small cat adoption centers to help us get more pets into great homes. It’s a very different approach to animal welfare. We will be sharing more details very soon.

This will be a significant investment for us and is a long-term commitment to the communities we serve. It’s also a statement: Animal welfare works best when shelter, support, and veterinary programs work together.

Like many of our initiatives, this effort is the culmination of time, thought, and work. And, like all our initiatives, we can only do it with help. The help of our staff, volunteers, and donors. People like you. Cats can’t adopt themselves. Dogs can’t give themselves

vaccinations. Guinea pigs can’t help us pay for our work. All those things require people. And without people, we’re nothing.

All of us at Humane Pennsylvania share our gratitude and appreciation. We hope you have a safe, happy, and healthy New Year. And we hope you’ll continue to be here for us and with us as we begin a new chapter for HPA and animal welfare.

 

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World Rabies Day Is September 28th – Protect Yourself AND Your Pets!

September 28th, 2022 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on World Rabies Day Is September 28th – Protect Yourself AND Your Pets!)
By: Alexandra Young: Community Outreach Programs Manager

Rabies has been found in ancient literary works dating back as far as 300 B.C., including a paper by Aristotle.[1] Rabies is a viral disease that infects the nervous system, which leads to horrific symptoms and causing great fear worldwide. Even in very early days, it was clear that the virus was carried via saliva (and brain tissue), and humans were susceptible to catching it through animal bites. Bats and skunks are mentioned most often in history, but dogs have also been noted as an ever-present species that carries the virus.

Early symptoms in humans may be flu-like. But later, more unique symptoms include[2]:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Fear brought on by attempts to drink fluids because of difficulty swallowing water
  • Fear brought on by air blown on the face
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Partial paralysis

The Rabies Vaccine and Treatment

The origin of the word rabies is debatable. It could come from the Sanskrit word “rabhas” (to do violence) or the Latin word “rabere” (to rage). The ancient Greeks called rabies “lyssa” (violence), in reference to the symptoms.

The French chemist Louis Pasteur created the first rabies vaccine for humans in the 1880s after conducting several experiments with chicken, cattle, dogs, and rabbits. His animal studies showed promise, but he wanted more time to purify his vaccine before trying it on himself. When a 9-year-old boy named Joseph Meister was bitten at least 14 times by a rabid dog on July 6, 1885, a local doctor told the family that Pasteur was their only hope.

After consulting with several doctors who said the child was a “dead boy walking,” Pasteur agreed to treat him. Joseph received 13 inoculations in 11 days and made a complete recovery. The word leaked out and patients came streaming in the world over. At the time of Pasteur’s death nine years later, more than 20,000 people had been given his post-exposure prophylactic (PEP) vaccine.[3]

Even with the news of Pasteur’s treatment spreading like wildfire through word of mouth, pets were not routinely vaccinated against rabies until the 1920s, when vaccinations were developed for a variety of domesticated animals.

Why Vaccinate Your Pets Against Rabies?

Today in the United States, most of our pets are vaccinated against this contagious and deadly virus. Usually, people don’t think too much about it anymore and it gets downplayed, which can be dangerous to us and the animals we love. Currently, cases of rabid cats outnumber those of dogs, and wild animal cases involve mostly raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats. One must be extremely careful with bats since they rarely look sick, but they can squeeze through very tiny openings in our homes and expose us and our pets to this deadly disease.

How Rabies Is Diagnosed

The only way to definitively diagnose rabies is through a direct fluorescence antibody (dFA) test.[5] Samples of brain tissue are processed in a very specific way (including being refrigerated during shipment), and the test must be performed by a state-approved laboratory. Therefore, this test can only be done on animals after they have died or been humanely euthanized.

A veterinarian may be able to make a clinical diagnosis on a living animal, based on history, symptoms (drooling, agitation, loss of motor functions, confusion), environmental conditions, and lifestyle/risk factors. But early stages of rabies can be confused with other medical conditions that have similar symptoms.

PREVENTION is the key to avoiding heart-breaking situations. Furthermore, those not working in the animal welfare industry may not realize that there is no way to test an animal (wild or pet) for rabies unless it is deceased.

 

Don’t take this unnecessary risk with your family and beloved pets. Contact Humane Pennsylvania (humanepa.org) or our Humane Veterinary Hospitals (hvhospitals.org) today to discuss the different ways you can access affordable basic veterinary care.

[1] https://www.news-medical.net/health/Rabies-History.aspx

[2] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rabies/symptoms-causes/syc-20351821

[3] https://www.tuckahoevet.com/post/a-history-of-rabies

[4] https://www.tuckahoevet.com/post/a-history-of-rabies

[5] https://www.smalldoorvet.com/learning-center/medical/rabies-in-dogs

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Love Your Pet by Making Your Plans this Make-A-Will Month

August 25th, 2022 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Love Your Pet by Making Your Plans this Make-A-Will Month)

One meaningful way to show up for the people and animals you love is to make a plan for them in your will. August is National Make-A-Will Month, and you can start the month off on the right paw by creating a plan for the future.

Humane Pennsylvania is proud to help make this important task more accessible to our caring community and all those who need to write a plan. Make-A-Will Month offers a moment to take stock of the people and causes we love and make sure their futures are provided for when we are no longer able to care for them.

Write my will today

Creating a legal will is an opportunity to craft intentional plans that protect your loved ones and eternalize the values that have guided your life, like compassion and caring for animals in need. Legacy support is an easy way to be a part of the solution for years to come.

And, contrary to popular belief, writing your will doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming, or scary. This free online tool from our friends at FreeWill makes the process quick and easy, allowing you to complete your will in just 20 minutes from the comfort of your home.

If you don’t have an up-to-date will, we invite you to use FreeWill to create your plan this month, and to consider including a legacy gift for Humane Pennsylvania. It’s an easy way to make your mark — in a good way!

If you have already created a lasting legacy with Humane Pennsylvania, please fill out our online form to let us know about your gift! We would love to thank you for supporting area animals in such a powerful way.

Take Control of Your Legacy

 Why should you make a will?

No matter your circumstances, every person who is 18 or older needs a legal will in place to plan for the future and make a lasting commitment to the people and causes that matter most to them. Writing a will is a vital part of protecting your loved ones — including your animal companions — and making a plan for how your assets are to be distributed.

Why use this free estate planning tool?

Making a will doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, but many people avoid the task because they assume it will be. Our friends at FreeWill make the process easy, intuitive, and free. In less than 20 minutes your will can be completed and ready for your signature. You don’t have to submit any sensitive personal information, and you’ll finish with a PDF of your will that is valid in all 50 states.

Why should you begin your legacy with Humane Pennsylvania?

Creating a legacy with Humane Pennsylvania is a powerful way to transform the lives of animals and their caretakers, for generations to come. It represents your lasting commitment to saving animal lives and being part of the solution — today, tomorrow, and forever.

If an immediate cash gift isn’t right for you, or if you want to make a profound long-term investment in the welfare of area animals, we encourage you to consider including a gift to Humane Pennsylvania in your will. Your support would mean so much!

Get started creating your free will today.

If you have questions about FreeWill or planned giving at Humane Pennsylvania, please contact Lauren Henderson Pignetti at 610-750-6100 ext. 211 or [email protected]

 

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July Is Pet Hydration Awareness Month

July 18th, 2022 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on July Is Pet Hydration Awareness Month)

July Is Pet Hydration Awareness Month!

It’s the middle of summer. The sun and humidity are high, the sweat is pouring, and those wavy mirage lines are floating above road surfaces. We’re bombarded by heat warnings reminding us that if we don’t drink enough water we can become dehydrated, develop heat stroke, or even end up in the hospital. And the same goes for our pets.

How can you tell if your dog or cat is dehydrated? How can you make sure your pet gets enough water every day? What are the signs of a pet drinking too much water?

The general rule for water consumption for dogs and cats is one ounce per pound of body weight per day. If this need isn’t met — or too much is lost due to the heat — dehydration occurs.

Some signs of dehydration in dogs and cats include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Sunken, dry-looking eyes
  • Panting
  • Dry, sticky gums
  • Dry nose
  • Vomiting
  • Skin stays up when you gently pinch and pull up on it (tenting)

There are several ways to make sure your dog or cat is getting enough water every day. 

Feeding them canned food, which is about 70% water, can make a big difference.

The water bowl is also an important factor when it comes to water consumption. Stainless steel bowls are best, as they delay the growth of bacteria, and they should be cleaned daily to make sure there is no build-up of bacteria. 

Make sure the bowl isn’t near your cat’s litterbox and that it’s out of direct sunlight. If your cat likes to drink out of the faucet or has trouble drinking out of a traditional water bowl, consider a water fountain.

For dogs that spend time outside, a sprinkler system may be beneficial (just let the hose run for a bit first, to flush out the hot water that sits in the tubing). 

Don’t offer your dog ice cubes or ice water, especially after playing outside. They can shock the stomach and cause a life-threatening condition called bloat. Instead, you can offer them chilled, pet-safe fruits and veggies for a moisture-filled treat.

Some pets can’t get enough of the pool, garden hose, or river water — which can provide lots of entertainment, but also some serious health problems.

Water intoxication can cause a deficiency of sodium, which can lead to neurological issues like seizures or incoordination, or gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, vomiting, excessive drooling, or even troubled breathing.

When should you seek veterinary care for dehydration or heat stroke? If you notice any of the signs listed above, get your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. You can apply lukewarm or cool water to their paw pads. Soaking a wet towel in lukewarm or cool water — not icy! — and draping it over the body can also help bring down their temperature.

If your pet isn’t back to its usual self after 30 minutes, call your vet. If your pet is dizzy, disoriented, struggling to breathe, vomiting, or having diarrhea with blood, call your vet or go to a veterinarian ER!

Just remember — if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them! Be safe, be well, and stay hydrated this summer.

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