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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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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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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By: Lisa Malkin, Director of Veterinary Services for Humane Veterinary Hospitals

Each year, more than 100,000 pets are accidentally exposed to toxins, resulting in emergency trips to the veterinarian or phone calls to Pet Poison Control hotlines.

What are the most common poisons and toxins ingested by pets, and where are they found?

Not surprisingly, the greatest risks to pets are found around the home. Plants, foods, human medications, cleaning supplies, and automotive products are responsible for the vast majority of pet poisoning cases reported to veterinarians and poison control centers.

Here are a few of the most common, as reported by the Pet Poison Helpline and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center:

  • More than 1,000 common plants can be toxic to pets. While not all toxic exposures are life-threatening, it is important to take any potentially harmful exposure seriously.

Lilies, azaleas, aloe vera, sago palm, English ivy, philodendron, hydrangea, poinsettia, dieffenbachia, and oleander are among the leading causes of poisoning among pets and should be avoided.

  • Many foods that we commonly eat can also present a poisoning risk to pets. Highest on the list are products containing alcohol or caffeine. Caffeine-containing products such as coffee, coffee beans, and chocolate can result in life-threatening conditions, including tremors, arrhythmias, seizures, and death.

Other common foods pets should avoid include avocado, citrus fruits, grapes, raisins, coconut, nuts,  garlic, onions, yeast dough, and any processed foods containing the sweetener Xylitol.

If you believe your pet has ingested any of these substances, contact your vet or local animal poison control center.

  • Household & Automotive Products. Many household and automotive products also pose a poisoning risk to pets. Bleach, ammonia, household cleansers, jewelry cleaner, and antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol are highly dangerous to pets and should be stored in sealed containers where pets cannot access them.

Many common cosmetic products — such as soap, mouthwash, deodorant, nail polish, nail polish remover, nail glue, sunscreen, toothpaste, and shampoo — also present a poisoning risk to pets and should be stored away from places your dog or cat (or rabbit, ferret, or other furry friends) can reach.

  • Human Medications. Many of these drugs are not appropriate for use by animals. Human doses of medications are often too potent to be safely ingested by pets.

In Case of a Pet Poisoning Emergency

If you suspect that your pet has ingested a toxic substance, do not wait for symptoms to appear. Immediately call your veterinarian, the local vet emergency hospital, the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

To ensure your pet’s overall health, visit hvhospitals.org and schedule a routine checkup, today!

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Why Rabbits Make Great Pets!

February 2nd, 2022 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)
By: Laura Gibbs, Humane Pennsylvania Customer Care Representative

February is National Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month. 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.

I had rabbits when I was growing up. They had a hutch outside, and to be honest, I didn’t do much with them. And I never saw myself as a rabbit person. Until recently, that is. I am now getting close to the end of my adventure with a mama rabbit who had been abandoned. When I brought her into my home, I ended up being blessed with a total of seven very happy bunnies, each of which changed my outlook on rabbits.

Mama bun and her babies’ daddy were abandoned at the end of October. I took mom home for a pregnancy watch and, sure enough, a couple weeks later she gave birth to six healthy buns. I still have mom at home while waiting to get her spayed, but the babies are back and ready for adoption!

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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Written by: Humane Pennsylvania CEO & President, Karel Minor

In the interest of full disclosure, I must share that this is a complete rewrite of my first draft of this blog post. After I completed writing the initial version and read it, all I could think was, “Good Lord, what a depressing and miserable update!”

I’d shared many incredible accomplishments, but it had come out in a woeful, beaten-down tone rather than an upbeat one. I realized at that moment that my writing had been affected by the muscle memory of working under COVID conditions for nearly two years. For almost two years, everything that could go wrong seemed to do so.

There was constant uncertainty. And even when things worked out, it felt like more of a struggle than it should, and we all just got worn down and tired. I suppose it makes sense that after working and living like that, even great news could come out like Eeyore’s shopping list. Even now, my weary self wants to groan, “Oh. My. Gawd. Now it’s freaking Omicron?”

The thing is, we had some great news and accomplished some remarkable things this past year. So it’s time to shake those muscles loose and take a second swing at this. This time I want to express the enthusiasm, gratitude, and joy my heart and mind feel for all the positive outcomes we’ve experienced this year.

COVID: Okay, so there was COVID — and it has been awful for us, along with the rest of the world. However, our staff, volunteers, and supporters came through like champs. We started getting our staff vaccinated as early as last March, which allowed us to open back up sooner and more safely than most places. Our team handled the ever-changing protocols and rules imposed on us with grace and understanding. Through hard work (and some good luck), I am proud to be able to say that none of our staff faced layoffs. They worked hard, and even when they (and I!) contracted COVID, we recuperated and got back to work helping animals and people.

During the past year, we distributed about a quarter-million pounds of food and supplies via HPA’s Spike’s Pet Food Pantry, through our partner organizations, and as the organization tapped by the PA State Animal Response Team to coordinate pandemic pet food distribution. That’s on top of nearly three-quarters of a million pounds the prior year.  Thanks to a second-round PPP grant, we were able to make up financial shortfalls that resulted from our inability to hold regular fundraising events. COVID has undoubtedly proved to be pretty crummy, but all our folks stepped up to help others, even as they had to cope with the pandemic personally. I could not be prouder of our entire team.

The Freedom Center Opens: Filed under “Better Late Than Never,” after a construction delay that lasted more than nine months due to COVID, HPA’s brand spanking new Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving finally opened to the public in July! Named by an anonymous donor who wanted the name to reflect his belief in the concept of freedom for animals and people, it’s more than just a better version of our old Reading shelter.

The Freedom Center offers upgraded traditional sheltering and adoption spaces to allow us to help more animals than ever before. And those conventional programs are merged and intertwined into medical, counseling, and education spaces that support HPA’s Healthy Pets Initiative. Healthy Pets aims to give everyone the support they need to be great caretakers, from accessible and affordable veterinary care to a wide range of pet-and-people-first programs that keep pets at home. If you haven’t visited the Freedom Center, it’s worth the trip!

We are grateful for all the folks who supported this project at all financial levels, from a few dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. COVID put the brakes on our campaign halfway through, but supporters have been steadily contributing to Spike’s 700 and Tilly’s 200 Giving Clubs to make up for lost time. We hope you will, too!

Neighborhood Clinics: COVID made it more challenging, but it didn’t stop us from going into neighborhoods to connect with pets directly and provide critical vaccines, microchip identification, and other vital healthcare services. Our specially trained teams of staff and volunteer veterinarians, technicians, and assistants provided services week in and week out to thousands of people in 2021. We partnered with the Animal Rescue League to share data to allow us to map parvo outbreaks in Reading and then work together at community clinics held at Amanda E. Stout Elementary School. This partnership let us help more than we could have alone, and the data sharing allowed us to deliver that help where it was needed most.

Healthy Pets Walk-In Clinics: One of the most exciting aspects of the Healthy Pets Initiative and the Freedom Center is opening one of the nation’s first “walk-in” vet clinics. Sponsored by Jay Rosenson in memory of Elaine Rosenson, the clinic began providing service hours to the community in 2021. It expects to open full time once veterinary staff is entirely in place. Modeled on human quick-clinics, which offer limited services at a lower cost with faster access, the Healthy Pets Walk-In Clinic fills the gap between our neighborhood clinics and our public Humane Veterinary Hospitals.

Best of Berks Veterinary Hospital: Speaking of Humane Veterinary Hospitals Reading (HVH Reading), we are excited and proud to have been named Best of Berks Veterinary Hospital by Berks County Living readers this year! While it may have been a far-off goal when we first opened for public veterinary services in our cramped quarters of the old Berks Humane Scholar Center shelter in 2006, it’s lovely to have it become a reality. Both HVH Reading and Lancaster are American Animal Hospital accredited and open to the public. Our hospitals were the first non-profit hospitals in Pennsylvania to achieve accreditation — and among fewer than 30 in the country. Less than 15% of the 36,000 for-profit vet practices are accredited.

With the motto “For pets, not for profit,” our little shelter-that-could has led the nation in recognizing the barriers to access to vet care for large portions of our communities and then finding ways to deliver affordable, high-quality care sustainably. I was recently one of only about 50 people nationwide to participate in an ASPCA “Access to Care” Conference, which sought to find ways to expand access and remove barriers to vet care. It’s an exciting effort, and HPA is a recognized national leader and voice in this vital work. If you aren’t already a client of one of our two public hospitals, check us out.

If you are a veterinarian or a veterinary tech, we’re hiring! You can join a practice that offers all the benefits and support of a “gold-standard” practice, and also lets you help animals and people and practice medicine like a vet — not according to a corporate checklist. You don’t know what you don’t know about Humane Veterinary Hospitals, so find out more today!

Back to Normal? Yes, please! We aren’t quite back to normal, but it’s great to be getting closer. We were able to hold our Walk for the Animals this year, and we’re psyched to be hosting it next year in its new springtime slot on Saturday, May 7! Despite much concern going into it, our Art for Arf’s Sake Auction was held in its new autumn time slot this past November and raised over $100,000 for the animals — our best performance in several years! While raising critical funds is pretty cool, we’ve missed connecting with our friends and supporters in real life. We are all looking forward to seeing your smiling, happy faces next year.

It’s too late to keep this short, but it would get too long if I thanked everyone who deserves it. So many people and businesses stepped up to help Humane Pennsylvania get through this tough year. With their help, we didn’t have to pull back. We leaned into the need in our community. Thank you. Thanks to everyone out there who helped us help animals and the people who love them.

I can’t wait to see what next year brings — I mean, it can’t be worse than the last couple, right? I know better days are ahead, but I still got to do some pretty incredible work in the days behind us.

All right, this is way better than my first draft. I need to keep exercising those positivity and optimism muscles, and everyone else does, too. Let’s get back to being happy and being together!

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Give Back This #GivingTuesday!

November 19th, 2021 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)
By: Chelsea Cappellano, Humane Pennsylvania Events & Donor Relations Manager

Giving Tuesday isn’t just an average day, it’s a day that encourages people to do good. This #GivingTuesday, I invite you to do good and unleash your generosity by becoming a monthly donor!

Monthly contributions provide Humane Pennsylvania with an ongoing, reliable source of funding. These donations enable us to have a consistent stream of financial support, which helps care for the animals in our shelters and in our community. Donation levels start as low as $10, and each level offers exclusive Humane Pennsylvania perks and swag. When you sign up to be a monthly donor (this #GivingTuesday), you will also receive a complimentary thank you gift in addition to your Humane Pennsylvania welcome packet.

If you are unable to donate monthly but still want to make a difference in the life of an animal in need, making a one-time gift this #GivingTuesday is another great option! One-time donations help Humane Pennsylvania continue to build the best community anywhere to be an animal. Contributions can be designated by location or made in memory or honor a loved one, family member, friend, or pet. No donation amount is too big or too small. All of our funding comes from direct charitable gifts made by supporters, like YOU!

Simply put, your gifts save lives.

Sign up today by visiting https://support.humanepa.org/monthly-giving/ or contact our Events & Donor Relations Manager, Chelsea Cappellano, at ccappellano@humanepa.org or (610) 750-6100 ext. 299.

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

October 16 is National Feral Cat Day! Since I met my first feral cat over 20 years ago, almost every day has been a celebration of National Feral Cat Day for me. Luke was a 4-month-old feral kitten that was basically kit-napped from his familiar outdoor home as part of a grassroots effort to save his litter. Half a year later, he was still terrified of humans. He had no potential adopters, and he no longer had a safe outdoor home. He was really miserable — as were his caretakers.

Luke’s case alerted me to the plight of feral cats and the consequences when good intentions fail. Many outdoor “friendlies” can backslide after being adopted as an indoor pet when their familiar routine and environment disappear. Common pitfalls of failed rescue attempts are:

 

  • Litter box avoidance (indoors or outside)
  • Repeated escape attempts (or finally succeeding)
  • Aggression or shutting down

Stray or Feral?

“Stray” cats usually refer to those that enjoy physical contact with us and know how to ask for food and attention. One may think the cheek rubs, belly rolls and purrs mean “Please save me!” but this may not be what the cat truly wants or needs. Strays are often lost or abandoned pets, but they may also be indoor/outdoor unsupervised pets.

A “feral” cat runs when approached and deliberately avoids interaction with people. They have had little or no exposure to human contact or confinement, and they will attack if they can’t escape when cornered or handled. They’re often born outside as descendants of multiple generations of ferals.

Many factors influence a cat’s behavior at any given moment, and without a complete history calling one stray or feral becomes subjective. Regardless of its label, there is a way to control the population that respects cats’ nature and virtually eliminates kit-napping scenarios. It’s called TNR, otherwise known as Trap-Neuter-Return.

TNR’d cats are humanely captured, surgically sterilized, vaccinated against rabies and ear-tipped (one-third of an ear cut straight across) before being released back to their original outdoor “home.” Ear tips are universal symbols that a cat:

  • Can’t reproduce
  • Is rabies vaccinated
  • Likely has a feeder (or a few!)
  • Is at “home” and should be left alone unless obviously sick or injured

Kittens as young as 2 months old can be safely sterilized by a trained veterinarian. Early sterilization is critical, because a kitten can have her first litter at 6 months old. Many ear-tipped cats are also microchipped so they can be returned home just like your own family pet. Although cats are instinctively solitary, TNR’d cats often live in groups (called colonies) to share resources. Scientifically proven* benefits of TNR include:

  • Reduces complaint-inducing behaviors, including fighting, spraying, and breeding
  • Stabilizes population
  • Frees up valuable shelter/rescue resources to needy pets
  • Promotes peaceful coexistence
  • Advocates humane treatment of all animals
  • Avoids needless euthanasia

Returning sterilized cats to areas where other cats live may seem counterintuitive. However, due to the vacuum effect, new cats move into voids created by the removal of existing cats to take advantage of food, water and shelter. On the other hand, the practice of trapping, removing and killing cats often results in increases in free-roaming cat populations.

Humane Pennsylvania, through its Healthy Pets Initiative, offers the following services to assist you with free-roaming cats:

  • Bottle Baby Kitten Kits
  • Low-cost or free TNR surgeries for free-roaming cats
  • “Pay-what-you-can” neighborhood vaccine and microchip clinics
  • Free cat food to community cat caregivers through Spike’s Pet Pantry
  • Free winter cat shelters made by volunteers
  • Community cat and TNR guidance and advice

Be the Change

Humane Pennsylvania is building the best community anywhere to be an animal — including a community cat. And every person can be a part of the solution. Here’s how you can help:

  • Become a foster parent for kittens, either on your own or through Humane Pennsylvania
  • Volunteer to distribute pet food, make cat shelters or help at vaccine clinics
  • If your municipality offers TNR services, thank your council and use the services!
  • Attend council meetings and encourage elected officials to support TNR, offer a trap loan program or set aside funding to subsidize TNR surgeries
  • Donate to Humane Pennsylvania to support our community cat programs

By working together as a community, we can improve the lives of free-roaming cats and the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Using the right approaches, we can save lives, decrease problems associated with unsupported community cats and have healthier, happier communities!

* Resources for scientifically validated benefits of TNR:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12523478/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26799109/

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By Dr. Simoneau, Chief Veterinary Officer for Humane Pennsylvania 

Did you know that August 22nd is National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day?

This is your friendly reminder to schedule your annual wellness exam if your kitty hasn’t been to the vet this year. Establishing a relationship with a vet for a wellness visit is essential; it helps ensure that your vet can see your cat should your cat ever have any urgent needs. If your cat is up-to-date with vaccines, a yearly exam is still an important step to make sure your cat remains healthy. A head-to-tail exam for every cat is necessary to assess dental health, monitor body weight, check lumps and bumps, and check lab work to detect early disease in senior cats.

On a head-to-tail exam, a veterinarian assesses the skin for common issues like ear and skin infections, as well as evidence of external parasites such as fleas and new lumps or masses. Mouth examinations help locate signs of dental diseases. A cat’s bodily condition, or fluctuation in weight, is a great way to signify that blood and urine tests should be ordered so that vets can screen for organ or endocrine dysfunction. In addition, fecal samples are recommended annually to screen for intestinal parasite eggs.

Common cat diseases to look out for:

  • External and internal parasites (i.e., fleas, ear mites, roundworms, tapeworms)
  • Skin and ear infections
  • Skin masses
  • Dental disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Hyperthyroidism

 

August 22nd is also National Be an Angel Day. If your cat has already been to the vet this year, be an angel and sign up for Spike and Tilly’s Giving Clubs at https://humanepa.org/donations/capital-campaign/ to help ensure other cats get vet care in honor of your cat(s)!

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By: Leann Quire, Director of Shelter Operations for Humane Pennsylvania 

If you ever had a pet go missing, for any length of time, you know how terrifying and stressful it can be.

The fear of never seeing them again sets in immediately. Or if they end up hours away – how will someone get in contact with you? What if they’re hurt and need help?

The thoughts, concerns, and anxieties can go on and on until your beloved pet is back in your care, safe and sound.

July is National Pet Loss Prevention Month, which is intended to bring awareness to the many animals that go missing every year. Animals are family – and they deserve to stay safe in their homes, by their owner’s side.

To help ensure your animals remain safe by your side, we are going to discuss some helpful pet loss prevention tips.

Microchip

What is a microchip? A microchip is a tiny radio-frequency identifier that is inserted under your pet’s skin, typically between the shoulder blades.

The chip has a unique identification number that appears when it’s scanned with an appropriate device (typically found at shelters and veterinary hospitals). Some police officers even carry microchip scanners now so they can immediately scan stray animals to see if they can get them back to their owners quickly.

If your dog or cat is not already microchipped, talk to your veterinarian about setting up an appointment. Many shelters and rescue groups hold vaccine and microchip clinics, some of which you don’t even need an appointment to attend.

Throughout the year, Humane Pennsylvania offers pay-what-you-can vaccine and microchip clinics. You can find upcoming dates by going to humanepa.org.

Register and update the chip! Many people who have had their pet microchipped make the mistake of not keeping their information updated or even checking to make sure their pet’s microchip is registered. Contact your microchip company regularly to update addresses, phone numbers, and alternate contacts.

Not sure if your pet is microchipped? Many shelters and veterinarians will scan your pet at no cost. Call those in your local area to find one that can help.

Once you receive a microchip number, you can use AAHA’s microchip lookup at https://www.petmicrochiplookup.org/ to determine whether the microchipped is registered, what company your pet’s chip is registered through, and how you can update necessary info. You can also find out how to get your pet’s chip registered if it isn’t already.

Report a Lost or Found Animal

If you find a lost pet, there are some important things you should do to play your part in helping that animal get back to its owner.

  • Check with neighbors to see if anyone recognizes the pet.
  • Take the animal to a local shelter or veterinary hospital to get scanned for a microchip.
  • Call your local shelter to complete a found report or to see if they have any lost reports that match the description of the pet you found.
  • Post to Facebook groups and websites created for helping owners find their lost pets.
  • If you are unable to keep the pet safe while you try to find the owner, call the municipality where you found the pet and see who they contract with to advise you on where to take the pet to safely stay while the owner is located.

Spay and Neuter

Spay and neuter isn’t just important for controlling the pet population; it can also prevent animals from going astray. Intact males are highly driven to roam and find a mate, so they are more likely to find ways out of the home.

Supervise

Don’t leave your pets unsupervised. Even in a fenced yard or enclosure, you should always be with your pet in case they find a faulty fence post, are a master digger, or have perfected the art of fence climbing.

Collars, Harnesses, and Leashes

Make sure your dog wears an appropriate fitted collar or harness. You don’t want to find out the hard way that the collar was too big and your beloved pet slipped out of it while trying to chase a bicycle or squirrel.

Use the “two-finger” rule to check for a proper fit by sliding two fingers between your dog’s neck and collar to make sure the collar is not too snug or too loose. You should not be able to pull the collar up and over the dog’s head.

Remember that dogs grow, lose weight, and gain weight just like people do, so it is important to frequently check how your dog’s collar fits and also that it is in good condition.

Harnesses are also great options for smaller breeds and brachycephalic breeds (short nose dogs like pugs and bulldogs) with delicate windpipes. Harnesses can discourage pulling, provide you with better control, and prevent injury to the neck area.

There are many different kinds of harnesses, so do your research or work with a professional to identify which harness is best for you and your dog.

Retractable leashes are generally not safe and are not recommended. Retractable style leashes provide little control and often extend very far, which can be dangerous if you and your dog are walking near roads or encounter other animals that are not pet-friendly.

Additionally, the cord used in these leashes is not durable and can snap or easily tangle around the walker or dog and cause serious injury.

Talk to your veterinarian or trainer before making the decision to purchase a retractable leash.

Proper Identification

Not only should your pet have properly fitted collars and harnesses, but they should also have proper identification if they happen to get loose.

An identification tag with your pet’s name, along with your phone number and city, can increase the chances of you reuniting with your pet.

Having your pet’s current rabies tag, license tag, microchip tag, and identification tag on their collar is beneficial and increases the chance of your furry friend getting back home.

We hope you never have to experience the terrible stress of having a pet go missing, but hopefully, following these tips will result in a quick, healthy, and happy reunion!

 

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