By: Dr. Alicia Simoneau, Chief Veterinary Officer

Should you have your pet microchipped? Absolutely yes, no bones about it.

Microchips save lives! The majority of reunions that animal shelters facilitate between pets and their owners happen because the pets are microchipped and registered with up-to-date contact information.

You may not think your pet is at risk of becoming a stray, but what might happen if someone visiting your home would leave a window or door unsecured? There’s also a chance that a weather event or other accident could damage your home and cause a pet to stray.

Accidents happen. Microchipping is kind of an insurance policy

Also, you can save money by getting a lifetime license when a dog is microchipped and spayed or neutered.

What Is a Microchip?

A microchip is a transponder that works using radio waves when activated by a scanner that is waved over the animal. A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It is implanted under the skin, above muscle, in the subcutaneous layer. It is implanted by medical professionals using a sterile hypodermic needle, similar to a vaccination. Once implanted, the microchip remains active for the rest of the animal’s life.

In dogs and cats, the microchip is usually placed in the area between the shoulder blades or on the animal’s upper back. It’s a good idea to have the pet scanned by a vet or animal hospital a month or two after implantation to ensure that the chip is still in and hasn’t migrated out of the implantation site.

How Does a Microchip Work?

Each microchip has a unique number, an ID number of sorts, that needs to be registered with the pet owner’s name, address, and phone number. It is important to ensure a chip is registered and information is kept up to date.

When a microchip scanner is hovered above an animal with a microchip, the unique microchip number appears on the scanner’s screen. A facility staff member can then contact the appropriate microchip company and get the pet owner’s contact information. Every animal hospital and animal shelter has the ability to scan an animal to see if they have a microchip.

There are also tags that can be placed on pet collars to identify that an animal has a microchip. This is helpful if a dog or cat is found, as it indicates the pet has a home and a family that is eager for a reunion. The finder can call the microchip company and get the pet owner’s contact information, and then get that reunion started!

 Misconceptions About Microchips

A microchip is a GPS tracking device. This is not true. A microchip is not a GPS tracking device and will not provide any type of tracking whatsoever. A microchip provides a pet owner’s self-reported contact information.

Microchips are dangerous for animals. Microchips are, in fact, very safe. Millions upon millions of microchips have been implanted worldwide, with virtually no adverse reactions.

Microchipping your pet is expensive. There are no ongoing or recurring fees required for a microchip. Once a microchip is implanted and registered, it’s good for the animal’s life.

It typically it costs between $20 and $75 for microchip implantation and registration. However, at Humane Pennsylvania we think microchips are so important we will microchip and register any cat or dog for FREE!

How You Can Get Your Pet Microchipped

Our Humane Veterinary Hospitals in Reading and Lancaster can scan and implant a microchip at any regular appointment.

Or you can bring a pet to one of our Healthy Pets Initiative Clinics for a free microchip, needed vaccines (Rabies, DA2PP or FVRCP) and deworming, also at no cost to you.

For more information about our microchip and vaccination clinics, please visit https://humanepa.org/healthypets/upcomingclinicdates/.

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By: Humane Pennsylvania Community Outreach Programs Manager, Alexandra Young

In 2005, I spent several months in Louisiana doing animal rescue and recovery work after Hurricane Katrina. Of the 250+ cats in our care at the Alley Cat Allies base camp in Bogalusa, LA during that time, only 11 pets were reunited with their owners. Although some progress has been made since then, human evacuation shelters do not automatically accept pets in the same areas where their owners are living (called co-sheltering).

In 2010, as a direct response to the outcomes of Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Citizen Corps declared May 8 as the National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day to raise awareness and encourage pet owners to actively plan for their pets’ safety long before a disaster strikes.

Why Being Prepared Is Important

Some thoughtful planning and a little research will go a long way when you find yourself and your beloved pets in an unexpected situation.

In our area of Pennsylvania, we don’t have to worry too much about natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes. However, severe weather here can easily lead to flooding. And no matter where you live, you can be affected by a local water main break or power outages due to high winds and ice storms.

A more common scenario, and one that’s often overlooked, includes auto accidents. Dogs can easily be thrown from vehicles — especially if they’re smaller, sitting on your lap, or near an open window. A crate secured with a seatbelt is generally considered the safest method to transport a dog.

New safety products are always emerging, although few pet seatbelts/harnesses are actually crash tested. However, there are some products that have been independently reviewed that may increase the chances of your dog surviving a car accident. [1] [2]

Remember: Your pet will observe your behavior and mirror your energy — especially during an unusual, chaotic situation. The key to calmness is advanced preparation: Envision the difference between trying to corral your loose dog with…your bare hands, or maybe a belt, versus clipping a sturdy leash to his well-fitting collar! Taking the following steps now can significantly reduce everyone’s stress later, regardless of the scale of “disaster”.

How To Get Prepared

Get Ready

  • Pack a “go” bag of your pet’s essentials: medications, food and water for several days, extra collars, leashes, and/or harnesses, and a favorite toy/scent article. Pack a duplicate bag to keep in the car if you travel often with your pet, and be sure to rotate medications so they stay fresh.
  • Consider investing in a solar-powered battery pack for your phone, water treatment tablets, and a solar-powered weather/emergency radio. Pack these in your personal “go” bag with other human essentials.
  • Regularly incorporate positive association tasks with your pet so traveling and confinement (crates and carriers) are normal places for treats, toys, and relaxation.
  • Create a first aid kit that covers basic needs for both you and your pet in case of minor cuts, scrapes, insect bites, or other minor injuries. Large towels make great slings and can act as padding or absorbent material.

Be Current

  • Keep your pet’s vaccinations and microchip registration updated in case you need to board them or stay at a pet-friendly hotel. Pandemic schedules are still causing longer wait times for veterinary appointments, so don’t wait!
  • Ensure your vet’s records are easily accessible, both on your phone and as hard copies in your vehicle. Use a PVC pipe with threaded end caps to store hard copies that show yours and your pet’s veterinarian’s contact information, along with your pet’s most recent vaccination history and medical conditions.
  • Keep digital and hard copies of current photos of you with your pet in case you get separated. It’s especially important to show multiple views of markings on cats.

Stay Informed

  • Keep a list of local boarding kennels (preferably with veterinarians on-site), pet-friendly hotels, and the local animal shelter if they offer emergency services.
  • Research your county’s disaster response agencies and keep their contact information handy.
  • Confirm if any local agencies offer co-sheltering options during disaster evacuations.

Extend Your Family

  • Identify one or two trusted people who can access and care for your pet in case you are separated, injured, or otherwise unable to do so.

Humane Pennsylvania Maintains Disaster Preparedness

Humane Pennsylvania is home to the Berks County Animal Response Team (CART), which works directly with the Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team (PSART) and serves as the primary Eastern Pennsylvania large-scale emergency distribution resource for pet food and supplies. We are gearing up to deploy emergency supplies for up to 1,500 animals.

We attend ongoing training with the Berks County Department of Emergency Services and coordinate with numerous other county agencies to prepare for a variety of disasters, including chemical spills, radiation contamination, and severe weather damage.

Our organization also supports families and their pets by offering temporary foster housing for needy pets in emergencies. PeNet has been recognized by Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government as a “Government Innovation” program. Find more information on both of these programs and much more at humanepa.org.

 

[1] https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/care/collars-harnesses-leashes-muzzles/dog-car-harnesses-review/

[2] https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/lifestyle/small-dog-car-safety/

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For the last 44 years, Humane Pennsylvania has hosted the Walk for the Animals event with one goal: to continue building the best communities anywhere to be an animal or animal caretaker.

What started as a simple walk around the block for the Humane Society of Berks County has turned into one of the region’s oldest and largest events that directly support community members and their pets across Berks and Lancaster Counties, and beyond! Our Walk for the Animals attracts thousands of participants every year and is supported by local businesses, generous sponsors, animal lovers, and friends across the nation.

This year, we made one big change: we moved this year’s Walk date from the fall to the spring. After a long winter inside, we’re excited to see everyone shed their coats (no pun intended… okay, maybe a little) and enjoy the fresh spring air — all in the name of raising funds for animals in need! The date change has definitely presented its own challenges, but we are confident this switch will ensure the event’s long-term success.

Walkers like you help raise funds and awareness to improve the lives of abandoned, abused, and neglected animals and allow the organization to provide affordable, high-quality resources to animal caretakers in need of assistance with their loving pets.

In the last 10 years alone, the organization has raised over $1 million through this annual event! In those 10 years, Humane Pennsylvania has also become a leader in animal welfare and has paved the way with innovative approaches and programs, due in part to the funds raised from the Walk.

This year’s event, the 45th annual Performance Toyota Walk for the Animals, will be hosted at the beautiful Jim Dietrich Park in Muhlenberg Township.

The recently renovated park offers a spacious and inviting environment for family members and friends (two-legged and four) to roam around and enjoy the various festivities being held on the day of the Walk: a mile-long walk along the river, unique handcrafted goods from local vendors, a VIP beer and wine garden, live music by Dibbs & the Detonators, dog contests, and more!

During the planning of this year’s Walk for the Animals, Karen Linder, Charitable Giving Coordinator of presenting sponsor Performance Toyota, shared:

“Performance Toyota is excited to partner again with Humane Pennsylvania on their Walk for the Animals. Their cutting-edge approach to animal welfare in Berks and Lancaster Counties has a huge positive impact on the lives of animals and the caregivers who love them. We are proud to support Humane Pennsylvania’s courageous and compassionate dedication to providing lifesaving services to the animals in their care.”

This community-wide, family-friendly event is FREE and open to the public!

Join us on Saturday, May 7, 2022 at Jim Dietrich Park, located at 4899 Stoudts Ferry Bridge Road, Reading, PA 19605, for a fun-filled day supporting animals in our care and throughout the community.

There is no cost to attend the event and walk with your pups; however, registering as a participant allows us to raise more funds for animals in need.

Unable to Walk in person this year? Become a virtual walker! Visit https://bit.ly/45thAnnualWalkForTheAnimals and help Humane Pennsylvania make a difference today!

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If ever you had any doubts about microchipping your pet, let Peaches’ story change your mind!

Peaches, a five-year-old spayed female pug, was surrendered to the Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving last week after a construction worker found her onsite, wrapped in a blanket outside with small bowls of food and water. The worker brought Peaches to the Freedom Center in Berks County, where she was immediately taken in and cared for – the shelter staff made sure to check for a microchip right away as part of the surrender protocol.

Luckily, Peaches was microchipped and they were able to locate her owner’s information through HomeAgain within a few minutes. Upon contacting the owner, the Freedom Center staff was taken aback. The owner emotionally explained that Peaches was actually stolen from her three years prior and she thought she’d never see her again! Freedom Center staff quickly made arrangements for the owner to come in and see Peaches and assist her as much as possible with this sudden news. The owner came into the Freedom Center the very next day to confirm that Peaches was her dog.

While the owner had to make the very difficult decision to officially surrender Peaches due to irrefutable challenges with her current living arrangements, she made peace knowing that Peaches was doing well and was in safe hands at the Freedom Center. Although Peaches and her owner didn’t head back home together, the closure made possible because of that microchip is why it’s so important. Think of that scene in Cast Away when the wife realizes the husband she thought she lost forever had survived the plane crash and was, in fact, alive. While life’s circumstances couldn’t allow them to be together, both found peace in knowing that the love they shared was real and they no longer had to wonder.

Unfortunately, stories like Peaches are more common than you might think; animals become lost or stolen often, and most end up not being reunited with their owners simply because they aren’t microchipped. Microchipping your pet could truly save its life. By completing this quick and painless procedure, you’re ensuring that your pet will have a stronger chance of finding its way home.

Schedule an appointment to microchip your pet at https://hvhospitals.org/contact-us/.

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By: Melanie Reynolds, Humane Pennsylvania Animal Care Technician

Is adopting a shelter pet the way to go? Does adopting an animal really make that much of a difference? For some, the answer is simple and automatic. For others, it’s not.

A little over 13 years ago, my family faced these exact questions. Our first dog had passed away. He was one of those Heinz 57 dogs. You know the ones I’m talking about.

When he passed away he left a void that, to me, felt like the size of a small crater. Coming home without him to greet us when we came in the door, seeing the spot where his bed was kept — now sitting empty — felt like a wound that wouldn’t heal.

Everyone’s grieving period is different, but two months of feeling emptiness when I came home was enough for me. I needed another dog. A discussion with my parents revealed they felt the same.

Then came the aforementioned questions. Our first dog had just kind of fallen into our laps. A dog of someone we knew had an accidental litter of pups, so finding him was easy. We’d have to do a little more work to find dog number two. My parents wanted a puppy. I wanted to adopt from a shelter. Finding a middle ground was going to take some work and research.

13 years ago, I was working my first job in animal care. I knew of puppy mills, but the image in my head was that of animals in unsanitary conditions and cramped cages. Research opened my eyes to the different types of puppy mills that were out there.

There’s the “breeder” with several different breeds, instead of focusing on one. The “breeder” who won’t show you the young animal’s parents. Or the “breeder” who won’t take the animal back if there’s a medical or behavioral problem. These are all signs of a potential mill — and the last thing anyone in my family wanted to do was inadvertently support one.

After our research, we agreed adopting from a shelter would be the way to go for us. Though we still wanted a puppy or a very young dog, we didn’t realize all the advantages that would come with adopting an animal from a shelter.

Did you know the vast majority of shelters won’t adopt animals out until they’ve been spayed or neutered, unless there’s a medical reason to not do so? That’s potentially hundreds of dollars saved for you. They’re also most likely already fully vaccinated or as up-to-date on vaccines as they can be, depending on their age and length of stay in the shelter.

Depending on the shelter, they may have even been given a dewormer and flea and tick preventative. If the shelter has any medical or behavioral history on the animal, they’ll disclose that at the time of adoption as well.

Does all this mean the animal will never have medical or behavioral problems? Of course not. But you get a ton of information about the animal right from the start. If you get an animal from a mill, or even a reputable breeder, they most likely will not be spayed or neutered, and they might not even be started on vaccinations.

There’s also the emotional aspect of adopting an animal. This may seem obvious — the animal you adopt no longer has to spend their time in a small cage or kennel — but there’s an emotional aspect for you as the adopter, too. You will always be the one who changed that animal’s life and gave them their forever home. It creates a bond that you will always feel.

My family ultimately did end up adopting our second dog from a shelter, and yes, he was a puppy. He recently celebrated his 13th birthday. When I walk in the door, he’s always there to greet me, even if he is being snobby and turns up his nose at me as soon as he smells the animals from the shelter on my clothes. He made our home complete once again.

April 30th is a day every shelter anxiously anticipates each year; it’s National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day! It’s a day when the spotlight is on the animals in their care. It’s a day when hundreds of animals find their soft place to lay and spend the rest of their days. Is it the way to go for you? That depends on what you want, but I can tell you this: it most certainly makes a difference — and not just for the animal, but for you too.

Learn more about the animals in our care and make one yours today at https://humanepa.org/adoption/.

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National Pet Parents Day

April 20th, 2022 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)
By Ronai Rivera, Humane Pennsylvania Media Coordinator, and Chelsea Cappellano, Donor Relations Manager

April 24 is National Pet Parents Day! To celebrate, we asked our Media Coordinator, Ronai Rivera, and Donor Relations Manager, Chelsea Cappellano, what they love about being pet parents.

Ronai & Athena:

National Pet Parents Day is a holiday that’s very special to me. Truly, one of my greatest joys in life is being a dog mom to Athena, my 6-year-old American Staffordshire mix. Every day is a mini adventure, and I’m always looking forward to what she can teach me.

Athena found me in January 2016, when I was searching for the perfect pup to call my own. I had grown up with lots of animals and, as I was living alone across the country, I felt it would be the perfect time to find a companion to share my life with. A family friend mentioned they had a puppy that they loved but could no longer care for. I immediately went to meet Athena, and I fell in love with her instantly.

Every day since has been filled with so much love and many life lessons. From understanding her communication style to educating myself about her environmental allergies, and the everyday experiences that come along with being a dog parent, it’s safe to say that no dog-day is the same — and every day is very much worth it.

Athena has seen me through many life experiences and, every time, she gave me a shoulder to lean on (literally, she would just come up by me and sit). She has traveled across the U.S. with me and explored many parts of different states — waggin’ her tail happily along the way.

Athena is, in my own dog mom opinion, a very unique pup with many fun(ny) characteristics to love. Some of Athena’s great loves include:

  • Dressing up (yes, I’m serious!)
  • Swimming
  • Eating (of course)
  • Attention (and lots of it!)
  • Cuddling (she thinks she’s a teacup pup)
  • Playing with her best friends Lola (dog) and Aliyah (human)

Athena is certainly a character all her own. She is so full of love and life, and she brightens the day of everyone she comes across. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how thankful I am to share my life with my pawsome pup.

Thank you, Athena, for choosing me to be your dog mom!

Chelsea & Fur-riends:

As a pet parent to many furry and feathery creatures, National Pet Parents Day is a holiday that hits very close to home for me. There were always animals in our house when I was growing up, and I knew that when I had the opportunity to have my own space, I would always have an animal companion by my side.

I very much exceeded that expectation and desire for my life. Our home sits on a lot of land, and our family currently includes dogs, cats, and chickens, and goats are coming soon!. Like people, each animal in our household has their own personality.

The dogs:

  • Zea: 3-year-old female Belgian Malinois. Full-time Police K9. Off the clock, she is a complete goofball and squeaker-ball lover. When she wants to snuggle, she must be touching one of her humans.
  • Duke: 2-year-old male American Pitbull Terrier mix. Definite mama’s boy. Usually, he is a couch potato, but he occasionally gets bursts of energy and wants nothing more than to play.
  • Kuma: 6-year-old male Shib Inu. Enjoys playtime with his fur siblings, but is always trying to plan his next great escape.

The cats:

  • Reuben: 8-year-old male orange tabby. Super affectionate and loves lap cuddles.
  • Bronson: 8-year-old male white and orange tabby. Very vocal and craves human attention. Prefers his feline friends over canine friends.
  • Paw Newman: 8-year-old male orange tabby. A little more independent, but loves feeding time.
  • Milo: 8-year-old male white and brown tabby. Friendly, but prefers to be the big man in charge.
  • Luna: 8-year-old female tortoiseshell. The only female feline, she holds her own through her sass. More independent than not, but appreciates occasional pets and playtime.

The chickens:

  • The chickens are a bit more independent, but occasionally allow us to stroke their feathers. They absolutely love spending their time free-roaming. Burrowing, digging around in the dirt, and eating fun snacks are a few of their favorite activities while exploring the yard.

The goats:

  • While we’re still trying to come up with their names, these kids will be the newest addition to our little farm! They are Nigerian Dwarfs and tend to be very lovable and gentle in nature.

The passion and love animals have to offer is something I hope everyone gets to experience. It is a feeling of fulfillment that I can’t even begin to explain. I am so thankful I get to experience it every day through all breeds, shapes, and sizes.

Make one of the pawsome animals in our care yours by visiting humanepa.org.

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By Dr. Alicia Simoneau, Humane Pennsylvania Chief Veterinary Officer

April is National Heartworm Awareness Month! To make sure all dogs are protected from this serious disease, Dr. Simoneau has provided some valuable information for you and your pets.

A pervasive, serious medical condition, heartworm disease affects more than 1 million dogs in the U.S. every year. The disease can cause irreparable organ damage, but it can be both treated and prevented. Cats and ferrets may also be affected by heartworms, but usually not to the same extent as dogs.

What Causes Heartworms?

Heartworm disease is caused by an internal blood parasite, Dirofilaria immitis. Adult heartworms produce a pre-larval stage of the parasite, called microfilaria, which is passed from one dog to another by mosquitos.

How Does Heartworm Disease Spread and Develop?

In geographic areas where mosquitos thrive year-round, heartworm disease remains endemic. Heartworms are diagnosed nationwide, but the Southeastern states harbor mosquitos that carry heartworm. Dogs are frequently taken from the south to the northeast, and people take their pets on vacation.

When a mosquito has a blood meal from a dog that has adult heartworms, the microfilaria is taken in by the mosquito and undergoes transformation to a larval stage, which can now be a source of infection for another dog. This larval stage parasite is injected from the mosquito to another dog with the next blood meal the mosquito takes.

Inside the canine host, the larval stage parasite matures into the adult stage. If not prevented by medication, the worms continue developing. As the parasite molts in the dog, it migrates through its tissue and travels into the bloodstream. The parasite finds the heart and blood vessels to the lungs, where it stays permanently lodged and is now a mature adult. The process from the larval stage to the adult stage takes about 7 months, and adult heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years.

Untreated heartworm disease results in congestive heart failure in the dog. However, the heartworm infection causes scar tissue and severe inflammation to develop even before the end-stage disease. These effects can occur as early as 7 to 12 months after a dog is bitten by an infective mosquito.

How Can Heartworms Be Prevented?

The larval stages are susceptible to medication known as heartworm preventative, which kills them and prevents them from developing into adult worms. Heartworm preventatives work to kill the heartworm larva in the dog’s tissues the day they are given. The aim is to prevent the current infection from advancing, i.e., prevent the parasite larva from developing into adults.

Heartworm preventatives do not have lasting effects, however. They clear larval heartworm infections once every 30 days. As such, they must be administered to the dog every 30 days.

It is recommended to work with a vet to get a dog on a testing schedule and give medication that kills the larval stage of the heartworm before it has the chance to mature into an adult worm and cause excessive damage.

Screening tests look for antigens that are produced by adult female heartworms. The heartworm doesn’t make the antigen the test is looking for until the heartworm is mature, and maturity occurs 7 months after an infective mosquito transmits the larval stage of heartworm via a blood meal. This is why puppies don’t need a heartworm test to start the medication that kills the larval stage.

There is no way of knowing if immature worms exist, so testing is recommended 4 to 7 months after exposure. In young dogs at higher risk, testing twice in the first year is recommended. For adult dogs that are given year-round heartworm preventative monthly, or for other lower-risk patients that are given the preventative yearly, testing is often the recommendation.

How Is Heartworm Disease in Dogs Treated?

Once a dog is diagnosed with adult heartworms, the treatment is a year-long process. A series of oral and injectable medications are administered under the observation and guidance of a veterinarian, and stringent exercise restriction is necessary for many months.

Once the active infection is cleared, the dead adult heartworms continue to break down and be removed by the dog’s body. Scar tissue will always remain in the dog’s lung vessels and heart.

The Bottom Line

This internal blood parasite has life-threatening consequences for dogs — and those who consider them to be a family member — and it is prevalent in the United States. Heartworm disease in dogs is much easier to prevent than treat, so it is imperative to work with a veterinarian to develop a heartworm prevention plan specific to your dog to keep them healthy and happy.

Schedule an appointment and develop a heartworm prevention plan by visiting https://hvhospitals.org/contact-us/!

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Written by: Alexandra Young, Humane Pennsylvania Community Outreach Programs Manager

Since 2006, April has been recognized throughout the U.S. as National Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month, thanks to the efforts of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

From the Middle Ages onward, there have been barbaric practices related to how animals are treated. Many of these actions come as the result of superstition, religious beliefs, or outright lack of compassion or respect for the animals humans use to increase capacity and make money, especially animals like working horses. Although we live in what is considered to be a civilized world, animal neglect, abuse and cruelty are still pervasive today.

In Pennsylvania, a person commits cruelty to animals (Sec. 5533 of the Pennsylvania Statute1) if they intentionally, knowingly or recklessly ill-treat, overload, beat, abandon or abuse an animal. Aggravated cruelty, as defined by Sec. 5534 of the Pennsylvania Statute, is committed when torture, neglect or cruelty causes serious bodily injury or the death of an animal.

With some thoughtful planning and your smartphone, you may save animals’ lives when you least expect it.

The first thing you can do is research the laws in your most frequented area (your workplace or home). These laws include, but are not limited to:

  • Tethering unattended dogs; there are specific requirements depending on the weather
  • General neglect of basic needs (food, water, and shelter) and medical care
  • Animal fighting and possession of animal fighting paraphernalia
  • Outdated cosmetic procedures, including: cropping ears, docking tails (puppies over 5 days old) and surgically debarking dogs
  • Animals trapped in overheated vehicles

Next, determine the municipality of a street address or intersection. In Pennsylvania, you can find this information through the Pennsylvania Department of Community of Economic Development’s Municipal Statistics website: http://munstats.pa.gov/Public/FindMunicipality.aspx

Now you can obtain the phone number of the local Humane Officer or Animal Control agency for the area and save it in your favorite contacts. If you frequent more than one city or county on a daily basis, save this information by location. If the agency (or agencies) you’ve identified offers online reporting of cruelty, save the link within that contact for quick retrieval.

When you make a report through a phone call or online, you’ll need to leave your contact information so the agency can follow up with you, but your identity is kept strictly confidential. Just remember that you could be the only — or last — chance at survival for an animal.

See it, say it: To avoid retaliation, many people hesitate to report their neighbors even when they know an animal is being mistreated. However, I realized through my experiences working at a shelter with animal control officers that many people frequent the same daily routes where they may regularly see a neglected or suffering animal.

In pre-pandemic times, that included mail carriers, bus drivers and package couriers. Today, COVID has increased deliveries from retail stores and restaurants, whose staff must now take pictures as verification of successful deliveries!

If you see something, do not hesitate. Report animal abuse!

One of the most common situations is finding a dog (or a cat) locked in a parked car on a warm day. Many people do not realize that even on a 72-degree day, a car’s internal temperature can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour.2

To protect pets that are left unattended in parked cars in hot weather, Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolfe signed House Bill 1216, the Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act, in 2019. It allows law enforcement officers to enter a car if an animal is believed to be in danger or being neglected.

NOTE: This law does not protect citizens against liability; it protects police/humane/animal control officers or other public safety professionals in this specific situation.

If you see an animal stuck in a hot car:

  • Record the make, model and license plate number of the car.
  • If possible, take a photo of the animal in the car as well as the surrounding area (ex. showing no shade in the parking lot).
  • Go to the nearest business and ask them to make an announcement to find the car’s owner. Many owners are unaware of this danger and will quickly return when notified.
  • If the owner is not found, do not wait and do not break into the car yourself. Call the authorities!

Recently, there have been new guidelines announced associated with tethering dogs, increased penalties for animal abuse, and more protection for horses and other animals. Fines range from $300 to $2,000 with jail time even for a summary offense.

Community change may be slow to occur, but it can only occur when individuals refuse to accept the status quo. Be the voice of animals that depend on compassionate, empathetic, courageous and proactive humans. Join Humane Pennsylvania in building the best community anywhere to be an animal or animal caretaker.

 

Learn more about our Healthy Pets Initiative and other resources we offer at humanepa.org.

References:
1. www.legis.state.pa.us
2. https://patch.com/pennsylvania/newtown-pa/pas-new-hot-car-law-protect-pets-what-know-summer)

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Written by: Karel Minor, Humane Pennsylvania CEO & President

It’s extremely satisfying to see the large fish foundations and animal welfare organizations embracing and championing access to veterinary care. Humane PA has embraced and proselytized access to veterinary care as a core of our mission for nearly 20 years. And yes, to paraphrase Cake, I have the t-shirt to prove I was there and I heard of it first. I recognize the importance of this concept in helping animals, people, and entire communities. All are welcome to this party — the more, the merrier!

But there is a problem. The term “access to care” means something different to different people and organizations. Some people think it means free or reduced care, or certain types of care, or every kind of care, or only charitable or non-profit care. In fact, the same term can encompass any and/or all of these things.

At Humane Pennsylvania, it has been and meant many different things since we first started offering expanded veterinary services to the community in 2005. In the decades before that, when we had the regularly offered low-cost sterilization program in the area, it was something entirely different.

So to combat misunderstandings around what access to care means, Humane PA takes a purpose-driven approach to practice management. When a service, program, or even phrase offers so much opportunity for confusion, the first step is to answer the question: “What is the purpose of what we are doing?”

Seventeen years ago, access to care for HPA (then the Humane Society of Berks County) meant getting access to vet care for our own sheltered animals. It quickly changed to include providing limited vet care access to the community, because they needed it and we had it — at least a little of it. We started with vaccinations. Then some wellness care. Then sick care and additional surgical interventions. Our definition of access to vet care changed as our capacity to deliver it changed.

But we remained in a reactive posture, not a proactive one, for some time. We thought the access we had and could provide to the community could vanish in the blink of an eye. It felt transitory. Smaller shelters like ours didn’t have vet practices — and weren’t supposed to have vet practices. And frankly, we didn’t really know what we were doing in the first couple of years.

Then we started to get into new budget years where we had to plan for the coming year and how we would pay for costs associated with providing access to vet care. We began to realize we could do anything. We could provide anything our shelter animals and our communities needed. The possibilities were there — but we just couldn’t afford to do it. Just like the local for-profit vet can’t.

Sure, we could all give every penny of our own money to the charitable cause of our choice. And in the short term, it would really help the cause. But once the money runs out and we’ve sold our homes, clothes, and vehicles, not only is the charity out of luck, but we no longer have anything left to give.

Out of necessity, purpose rapidly rises to the top of the list of considerations. What are we trying to do? What do we mean when we say access to care? And what can we afford?

I will focus on several important aspects of access to care and purpose-driven vet practice management in future posts. But today, I will suggest that sustainability is the most crucial aspect for any charity or for-profit business, regardless of its purpose.

If 100 people need help each week, choices must be made. Helping all 100 people might take all the resources an organization has and bankrupt it. If the organization collapses after helping 100% of those 100 people, no one gets help the next week or the week after. It is a pyrrhic victory. This is not simply a theoretical situation — the former Humane League of Lancaster County faced that crisis when it overextended its reach and capacity in its first public animal hospital.

But if an organization finds a sustainable way to help 25 of those 100 people each week, it can consistently help that smaller number week after week. That’s not universal access to care, but it is sustainable access to care for a portion of the population in need. That’s a victory that lasts.

But now the decisions can get tricky. What if all 100 people don’t have an equal need? What if 50 of those people can pay half the bill and the other 50 people need the entire bill covered? Instead of providing 100% coverage to ensure 25 people get access to care, you could help the 50 people who only need half the help. That’s twice as many people helped each week. But some people still wouldn’t have access.

Humane Pennsylvania went through this exercise and chose to help the greatest number of people and animals. We decided to start with those requiring the least assistance to gain access, not those who needed the most assistance. That was a tough choice to make, but viewed through a purpose-driven lens, it’s the right choice.

The purpose of Humane Pennsylvania’s veterinary services is to help as many animals and people as possible gain access to vet care they otherwise would not be able to access or afford. Helping 10 people who only need $1.00 worth of assistance is 10 times more effective than helping one person who needs $10.00 of aid — and it helps 10 times more animals. Some might not agree with that decision and approach, and that’s their right. But I challenge them to find a practical, real-world way to close the gap starting from the bottom up.

Of course, we didn’t stop there. The financial realities only required us to start there. Identifying our purpose allowed us to find targeted ways to help those we weren’t helping and serve Humane Pennsylvania’s purpose: to stop needless animal suffering and death and build the best communities anywhere to be an animal or animal caretaker.

We couldn’t give free, comprehensive vet care to all. But we could provide free microchip IDs to all and prevent needless deaths of unidentified strays in shelters. So we added that service to our purpose-driven practice model. We could have neighborhood vaccine clinics and prevent parvo and FeLV from killing dogs and cats. So added service to our purpose-driven practice model.

We spoke to clients who were being offered 100% free care, and they told us they wanted the opportunity to give something if they had it. So we created the pay-what-you-can model. If you can pay something, you pay what you can. If you can’t pay, you don’t. This empowers our clients with the ability to choose, and we have more resources to help more people.

We recently identified a service gap we believe we can fill with a veterinary walk-in clinic model. It’s modeled on human urgent care clinics and is groundbreaking and cutting edge in animal welfare. We are developing this new approach in tandem with a handful of other organizations around the nation as we all find a model that serves our purpose and is sustainable.

And sustainable is the secret word for the day. No program, no service, no good intention can survive and fulfill its purpose unless it can be sustained. Humane Pennsylvania, Humane Veterinary Hospitals Reading/Lancaster, and the Healthy Pets Initiative have found sustainable ways to help animals and people who had no access to vet care. And we keep finding new and better ways to fulfill our mission. As a result, tens of thousands of people and animals now get the leg up they need each year and have better health and wellbeing.

I am so excited to share the work we have been a part of pioneering right here in Berks and Lancaster Counties, with all the organizations seeing the value and the urgent need for sustainable, meaningful access to veterinary care.

Karel Minor, CEO & President
Humane Pennsylvania

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We wanted to share this heartwarming story with you all! Thank you, Pets for Patriots, for continuously bringing military veterans and shelter pets together!

Lizzy had a long journey from a Louisiana shelter to an animal welfare organization in Pennsylvania. But the 10-pound rescue pup would prove a worthy companion to a Navy veteran and his wife coping with isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic.

VIETNAM WAR ‘DAMBUSTERS’

Lloyd served as an aviation jet mechanic during the Vietnam war. These highly skilled professionals may serve at sea or on land. They are tasked with maintaining the integrity of internal and external aircraft systems and supporting all flight operations.

“I spent one-and-a-half years on a carrier with a fighter squadron of A-1H Skyraiders, VA-195,” Lloyd recalls. “We went up and down the coast of north and south Vietnam.”

Strike fighter squadron 195, or VA-195, was used extensively in both the Korean and Vietnam wars. In 1951 the squadron earned the nickname ‘Dambusters’ when they destroyed the strategic Hwachon Reservoir dam in North Korea.

The Vietnam war was deeply unpopular at home. However, that did not diminish the danger to our forces nor the sacrifices they made in service to our nation.

Lloyd is humble about the real perils he and his fellow sailors faced every day.

“We were also fired on by a sampan in the Gulf of Tonkin,” he shares. “No one was hurt, and a destroyer blew it to pieces.”

Sampans are small, flat-bottomed boats typically used by fishermen. But during the war, they were repurposed by the North Vietnamese to help transport weapons and combatants in their fight against Americans.

Lloyd’s tour of duty up and down the Vietnam coast “was the only dramatic thing” that transpired over the course of his Navy career.

In 1966, after more than three years of service, Lloyd separated from the Navy with an Honorable discharge to begin the rest of his life.

FROM LOUISIANA, WITH LOVE

Lloyd is currently retired and lives in Hamburg, Pennsylvania with his wife, Karen. The pair share their home – and love – with family of the four-legged variety.

“My wife and I have the two dogs,” he says. “Lizzy that’s three years old and Milo that is six years.”

Lizzy is a 10-pound rescue pup who trekked from a shelter in Tangipahou Parish in Louisiana to a Pennsylvania shelter. Her journey was not unusual.

Animal welfare organizations around the country have embraced interstate transport as a way to save millions of animals each year.

In October 2021 Lizzy arrived at Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving. The organization is part of Humane Pennsylvania, a cooperative of animal welfare organizations and nonprofit veterinarians.

Humane Pennsylvania has partnered with Pets for Patriots since 2019. Its shelters offer fee-waived adoptions to veterans in our program and 10 percent off fees at their full-service, affordable veterinary clinics.

Thankfully Lizzy’s long journey was not in vain. The petite pup was on the verge of going from homeless to home.

“…I COULD NOT RESIST HER”

Isolation caused by the seemingly endless COVID-19 pandemic inspired Lloyd and Karen to adopt another companion pet. The couple visited Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving with the hopes of saving a four-legged soul in need of a loving home.

Shelter staff told the couple how our program works. Our mission to make pet guardianship more affordable for military veterans struck a chord with Lloyd.

“I was told about you at the humane society in Reading,” he says, “and I wanted to get the benefits that you offered.”

It is often said that our pets choose us as much as we choose them. This was definitely the case with Lizzy and Lloyd. The then three-year-old Dachshund-Beagle mix set her sights on the Navy veteran and won his heart in an instant.

“I love small dogs and Lizzy came right to me,” he says, “and I could not resist her.”

LITTLE LIZZY

No one knows for sure how Lizzy wound up in a Louisiana shelter. Or why she was among those chosen to be on a transport to Pennsylvania. But she is making up for her sad start to life by bringing joy to Lloyd, Karen, and her new dog sister Milo.

Fortunately, Lloyd has more than enough love in his heart for both of his four-legged family members. Together the dogs are doing wonders for his emotional health, especially during periods of long isolation brought on by COVID-19.

“I look forward to having and playing with both dogs every day. It puts me in a great mood.”

As for Lizzy, since her adoption, the 10-pound rescue pup has upped the energy in the household. She and Milo have bonded and do nearly everything together.

“They are the best pets and they keep us great company,” Lloyd says. “They both love to play and they have their own toys, just like little kids.”

While the pandemic inspired Lloyd to adopt another pet, do not mistake Lizzy for a short-term pandemic pup. Sadly, many pets adopted during the pandemic are being surrendered to shelters as their guardians return to work outside the home.

The Vietnam veteran, however, believes that when you adopt a pet, you adopt for that animal’s life.

Milo – and now Lizzy – seem to understand that they are in their permanent home. They feel confident that neither Lloyd nor Karen will give up on them. And they show their appreciation in ways big and small as pets do in their own special ways.

“When we go places and then come home they are there at the door to greet us both,” Lloyd shares. “In this time of the pandemic, we are so glad to have them both.”

Learn more about Pets for Patriots at petsforpatriots.org.

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