February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month!

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

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

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

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

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

What Does it Mean to Spay or Neuter Your Pet? 

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

What are the Medical Benefits of Sterilization?

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

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

How does Spay/Neuter Help our Community? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adopt, Of Course!

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

Foster a Shelter Pet

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

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

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

Make a One-Time or Monthly Donation

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

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

Volunteer Your Time

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

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

Raise Awareness

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

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

Share Your Story

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

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

Change Your Pet’s Routine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rabies Vaccine and Treatment

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

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

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

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

Why Vaccinate Your Pets Against Rabies?

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

How Rabies Is Diagnosed

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Write my will today

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

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

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

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

Take Control of Your Legacy

 Why should you make a will?

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

Why use this free estate planning tool?

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

Why should you begin your legacy with Humane Pennsylvania?

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

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

Get started creating your free will today.

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

 

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July Is Pet Hydration Awareness Month

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

July Is Pet Hydration Awareness Month!

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

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

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

Some signs of dehydration in dogs and cats include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why We Walk For The Animals

May 4th, 2022 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Why We Walk For The Animals)

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 CCadmin1* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on National Pet Parents Day)
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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The Purpose-Driven Veterinary Practice

March 17th, 2022 | Posted by KMdirector2* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on The Purpose-Driven Veterinary Practice)
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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Pet Poison Awareness Month

March 2nd, 2022 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Pet Poison Awareness Month)
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 CCadmin1* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Why Rabbits Make Great Pets!)
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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