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

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

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

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

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

Adopt, Of Course!

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

Foster a Shelter Pet

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

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

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

Make a One-Time or Monthly Donation

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

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

Volunteer Your Time

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

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

Raise Awareness

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

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

Share Your Story

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

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

Change Your Pet’s Routine

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Humane Pennsylvania CEO & President, Karel Minor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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By Humane Pennsylvania Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Alicia Simoneau, DVM

Last month, something big started for pets and their caretakers in our community. Did you hear? Humane Pennsylvania’s Healthy Pets Walk-In Clinic opened its doors at the Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving at 1801 N. 11th Street in Reading!

Humane Pennsylvania (HPA) staff had been planning the venture for quite some time, and the pandemic delayed the greatly anticipated opening of the Healthy Pets Walk-In Clinic for far too long.

The concept of the Walk-In Clinic grew out of HPA’s pioneering Healthy Pets Initiative, which provides meaningful access to veterinary care for all in need. This clinic was made possible through the visionary generosity of the Giorgi Family Foundation and Jay Rosenson, in memory of Eileen Rosenson. Their leadership is helping HPA build the best communities anywhere to be an animal or animal caretaker.

The new Freedom Center, which opened July 1, 2021, included space for the Walk-In Clinic, but it took nearly a year to come to fruition. The Walk-In Clinic features two exam rooms and a comfortable lobby at the entrance at 11th and Bern Streets.

The Walk-In Clinic adds to the continuum of access to veterinary care for Berks County and surrounding communities. Access to affordable veterinary care for every community member is central to Humane Pennsylvania’s mission. HPA has many different ways for animal caretakers to access vet care, depending on their needs: Humane Veterinary Hospitals in Reading and Lancaster, Neighborhood Pay-What-You-Can Vaccine and Microchip Clinics, and now the Healthy Pets Walk-In Clinic.

The HPA Healthy Pets Walk-In Clinic offers comprehensive preventative vaccinations, care, and advice, without an appointment — and it’s designed to serve more community members at an affordable price point of only 60% of normal veterinary hospital rates.

Humane PA’s Healthy Pets Walk-In Clinic will be open every Wednesday and Friday, from 9 am to 1 pm. The clinic is first come, first served.

Current services offered for dogs: Exam with a veterinarian ($32, required with any other service), Vaccinations ($14-15), flea and tick preventatives ($9), deworming (starting at $9), Microchip (Free, including registration, with every exam).

Current services offered for cats: Exam with a veterinarian ($32, required with any other service), Vaccinations ($14-15), flea and ear mite preventatives ($9), deworming (starting at $9), Microchip (Free, including registration, with every exam).

At this time, no sick or injured care is provided at the Healthy Pets Wilk-In Clinic. Please contact Humane Veterinary Hospitals in Reading or Lancaster or another veterinary hospital to make an appointment for sick or injured care for your pet.

Visit humanepa.org for additional hours and to see what services will be provided in the coming months.

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Celebrating National Garfield The Cat Day

June 16th, 2022 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Adopt A Shelter Cat | Adopt A Shelter Pet | Adoption Story | Cat Lovers | Feel Good Story | Garfield The Cat Day | Humane Pennsylvania - (Comments Off on Celebrating National Garfield The Cat Day)
By Humane Pennsylvania Donor Relations Manager, Chelsea Cappellano

Most of us know and have come to love Garfield the Cat. While he has many distinctive characteristics, he is best known for being lazy, loving lasagna (and just about every other food), and hating Mondays. National Garfield the Cat Day celebrates this beloved cartoon character each year on June 19. The holiday was first celebrated in 1998 on the 20th anniversary of the comic strip and, perhaps coincidentally, Garfield’s birthday.

There are many ways to celebrate this lovable tabby, especially in a world full of cat (and animal!) lovers. For me, an owner of three orange tabby cats, this fun holiday is very relatable. While my orange kitties don’t necessarily have a strong love of lasagna or coffee, they have wonderful, silly personalities and love to lay in the sun, much like Garfield.

Paw Newman is an 8-year-old orange tabby I adopted after fostering in April 2016. He was my first official adoption while working for Humane Pennsylvania (HPA). He is a BIG cat with a heart of gold. He loves long cat naps and bird watching, and he has always had a go-with-the-flow attitude. After all, he made himself at home in a stranger’s garage, where he was first found as a stray.

Next came Reuben, an 8-year-old orange tabby I adopted through HPA in March 2017. Reuben is extremely outgoing and greets everyone as soon as they walk in the door. He will also “talk” to you and chirp the answers to any questions you ask him. He loves to be petted and will cuddle right up any lap or bed pillow (at night) that’s available.

I didn’t purposely set out to bring home a second orange cat. But once I had two of them, I understood why people fall in love with them so easily.

Then came Bronson, the last member of my orange tabby clowder*. Bronson is also 8 years old, and I adopted him through HPA as well, in April 2019. At this point, I knew my love for orange tabby cats was strong. So as soon as I saw him in his cage, rolling around and reaching for me on the other side of the glass, it was game over. He fits in with his brothers very well, and he has such a charming personality. He purrs loudly, loves hard, and craves human affection.

If you’re lucky enough to welcome a feline into your home, my highest (and admittedly biased) recommendation is to consider an orange tabby.

In my head, the sky is blue, the grass is green, and cats are orange.” – Jim Davis (creator of Garfield).

View our adoptable cats, check out our website, or visit one of our campuses in Lancaster or Berks County. More information can be found at https://humanepa.org/adoption/cats/.

*Clowder means a group of three or more.

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Pet Appreciation Week: Henry’s Story

June 1st, 2022 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Adopt A Shelter Pet | Adoption Story | Animal Rescue | Feel Good Story | Humane Pennsylvania - (Comments Off on Pet Appreciation Week: Henry’s Story)
By Laura Gibbs, Humane Pennsylvania Client Care Representative

June 5th – 11th is National Pet Appreciation Week! To celebrate this awesome holiday, our Client Care Representative, Laura Gibbs, decided to share her adoption story!

“My best friend arrived at the Humane League of Lancaster in April 2017. He was a smelly, filthy, hot mess of a cat with a laundry list of medical issues and a heartbreaking past.

Henry, as I named him, was one of six cats who had been living in a condemned home. The house was uninhabitable, and Henry and his siblings had been stuffed into a dog crate where they shared a single litter box that was never scooped. Of the six cats, three (including Henry) were blind, three (including Henry) were bald, and all had urinary issues.

The smell that came from these cats was enough to turn even the strongest stomach. Nevertheless, I immediately fell deeply in love with this goofy boy. Henry would greet me with a loud meow and his signature purr — which is the strangest, loudest sounding purr you’ve ever heard. Despite his terrible past, he is truly the happiest, most affectionate cat I’ve ever met.

Though I had my eye on him from the get-go, I couldn’t bring him home right away. I was in the middle of house hunting and moving, so I had to wait — and hope that by the time we found a place he would still be available.

It wasn’t until July that the stars finally aligned, and I made it official: Henry was mine! He fit in so easily with the rest of my crew, it was like he had been with us forever.

Today, Henry is still the most loving kitty I’ve ever met. He readily welcomes new family members and fosters with open paws, and they respond accordingly. Even timid animals gravitate toward Henry and his docile nature. Whenever a person tells me they don’t like cats, I introduce them to Henry — and they always change their mind after they receive a gentle headbonk and purr session. He’s just that good.

It’s been almost five years since I brought Henry home, and we have our routine down pat. He supervises me in the bathroom in the mornings while I get ready for my day, and he’s one of the first to greet me when I get home from work. He keeps me and my husband on a strict schedule for meals and ensures we are in bed at a decent hour.

During the day, Henry can often be found curled up in his igloo bed, cuddling with his best friend Chester, or chasing around things that make a crinkle noise. Henry’s newest BFF is our foster-to-adopt rabbit. He loves to spend time in her room, and she gets so delighted when he visits her!

So, the moral of the story is this: Don’t judge a kitty by his putrid smell — he may just become your best friend.”

Make one of the amazing animals in our care yours forever! Visit https://humanepa.org/adoption/ today!

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National Rescue Dog Day: Gracie’s Story

May 26th, 2022 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Adopt A Shelter Pet | Adoption Story | Animal Rescue | Feel Good Story | Humane Pennsylvania - (Comments Off on National Rescue Dog Day: Gracie’s Story)
By Taylor Althouse, Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving, Client Care Representative

May 20th was National Rescue Dog Day! To celebrate this special howliday, Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving Client Care Representative, Taylor Althouse, shared a heartwarming rescue story that truly changed her life.

I got the chance to care for Gracie during her temporary stay with us at the beginning of this year. While I get to meet and interact with lots of amazing animals in my position, I genuinely believe Gracie has, by far, had the greatest impact on me.

In January 2022, Humane Pennsylvania’s Berks Campus Shelter Manager Brandea Taylor re-introduced the concept of Pet-Projects. Each member of the Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving team chose a specific animal to dedicate time to every day, to provide comfort and enrichment during the animal’s stay at the shelter. Our facility had just received a new group of rescued dogs from Louisiana, so I decided to choose one of the new faces that had just flown in.

That’s how I met Gracie (previously called Joni).

After I passed the other wagging tails, I got to the last kennel and saw a trembling, chocolate Lab with the prettiest golden eyes staring back at me. I decided right then that I would do everything in my power to help this special girl.

My plan was to spend all my extra time trying to make her comfortable with me and gain her trust. This started with us standing on opposite sides of the kennel — and lots of treats. She slowly became comfortable enough to eat them, but only if I was not looking directly at her.

This was progress! I took this little leap in stride and upped the ante! I sat on my side of the kennel and offered Gracie small piece of hot dog. Gracie repeatedly looked back and forth, from the hot dog to me and back again. I turned my face away, with my hand still out. And a few seconds later, I felt a small, wet nose push against my hand and take the hot dog. I could not believe it!

Over the next few weeks, Gracie became more and more comfortable with me. I began sitting on her side of the kennel with her and taking her on walks outside. She went from slinking across the ground to standing fully and sniffing around.

Soon, she became so comfortable with me that she began nudging my hand for head rubs and giving me so many kisses that I’m sure my coworkers got tired of me bragging about it. I was just so proud and happy about her progress in such a short amount of time.

Gracie was on the adoption floor for most of her time at the shelter, but everyone who asked about her was disappointed that she was not the typical one-year-old Lab. She was essentially the exact opposite, just shaking in the back of her kennel.

I was still nervous about how she would do when she got her first adoption meet. When the day came, I warned the nice couple about how nervous Gracie was and I gave them her favorite treats to help ease her nerves.

We took Gracie into the play yard, where she immediately went to the corner and hid. The couple kept giving Gracie treats and calmly talking to her to coax her out of her shell, and she eventually gave in to their kind attempts.

As we discussed her progress, Gracie started crouching toward the couple, trying to sniff them. This was a huge moment for everyone involved. Throughout her time at the shelter, she would not voluntarily get close to anyone besides me, and it took what seemed like forever for us to get to that point.

The couple visiting Gracie had brought their dog Leo to meet her. Leo instantly wanted to be her friend, but Gracie sat frozen behind me. Although she was frightened, there were no signs of aggression from either of the dogs. And with the counsel of our Animal Care Coordinator, Katie Litz, the adopters decided to go through with the adoption!

I took the time I had left with Gracie to sit with her and tell her how awesome her new life was going to be. Her true personality was just locked up inside, and I was confident that her new family would help her be her authentic self.

Since Gracie’s adoption in February, we have received the most precious pictures and updates on her progress.

“When we got Gracie, she was incredibly shut down and would run away from us and hide any chance she got. She no longer hides and is often found roaming around, exploring the house while wagging her tail. Even more frequently, she can be found sitting on top of anyone who is willing to give her her favorite neck rubs. She has started giving us face kisses and smiles when she gets to run around outside. She’s such a good dog, and I’m so glad that you all believed in her and in us.” – Bryan and Alicia (Gracie’s adopters)

Stories like Gracie’s are why we do what we do. These animals leave an unforgettable impact on the people who experience them, and they provide all the motivation we need to continue to provide the care they deserve.

Being able to change a life by giving pets in our care the support they need and helping them find their perfect match is what our jobs (and mission) are all about, and I am so glad I was given the opportunity to help Gracie.

To rescue an animal like Gracie, please visit https://humanepa.org/adoption/.

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May Is National Chip Your Pet Month

May 16th, 2022 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Animal Health | Healthy Pets | Healthy Pets Initiative | Humane Pennsylvania | Humane Veterinary Hospitals | Microchipping - (Comments Off on May Is National Chip Your Pet Month)
By: Dr. Alicia Simoneau, Chief Veterinary Officer

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

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

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

Accidents happen. Microchipping is kind of an insurance policy

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

What Is a Microchip?

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

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

How Does a Microchip Work?

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

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

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

 Misconceptions About Microchips

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

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

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

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

How You Can Get Your Pet Microchipped

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

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

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

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Prepare Your Pets For Natural Disasters

May 10th, 2022 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Animal Rescue | Animal Welfare | Emergency Preparedness | Humane Pennsylvania | Natural Disasters - (Comments Off on Prepare Your Pets For Natural Disasters)
By: Humane Pennsylvania Community Outreach Programs Manager, Alexandra Young

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

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

Why Being Prepared Is Important

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

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

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

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

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

How To Get Prepared

Get Ready

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

Be Current

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

Stay Informed

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

Extend Your Family

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

Humane Pennsylvania Maintains Disaster Preparedness

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

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

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

 

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

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

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Peaches’ Story: Why Microchipping Matters

April 26th, 2022 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Humane Pennsylvania | Humane Veterinary Hospitals | Microchipping - (Comments Off on Peaches’ Story: Why Microchipping Matters)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month: How You Can Make A Difference.

March 30th, 2022 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Animal Cruelty | Animal Health | Animal Welfare | Healthy Pets Initiative | Humane Pennsylvania - (Comments Off on Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month: How You Can Make A Difference.)
Written by: Alexandra Young, Humane Pennsylvania Community Outreach Programs Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you see an animal stuck in a hot car:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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