By Dr. Alicia Simoneau, Humane Pennsylvania Chief Veterinary Officer

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

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

What Causes Heartworms?

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

How Does Heartworm Disease Spread and Develop?

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

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

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

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

How Can Heartworms Be Prevented?

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

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

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

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

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

How Is Heartworm Disease in Dogs Treated?

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

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

The Bottom Line

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

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

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February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month!

February 20th, 2024 | Posted by Maggie McDevitt 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, 2024, 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 and Lancaster 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 in Reading and every Thursday in Lancaster, 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 22nd, 2024 | Posted by Maggie McDevitt in Adopt A Shelter Pet | Animal Rescue | Animal Welfare | Healthy Pets Initiative | Humane Pennsylvania - (Comments Off on How to Support the Animals on Change A Pet’s Life Day (January 24th))
Written By: Humane Pennsylvania Media Coordinator, 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 Silverbox Creative Studio.

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 24th to January 27th 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 ClinicsPay-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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Credit Where Credit’s Due and Plans for 2024

December 20th, 2023 | Posted by Maggie McDevitt in Animal Welfare | Healthy Pets Initiative | Humane Pennsylvania - (Comments Off on Credit Where Credit’s Due and Plans for 2024)

Written by: Humane Pennsylvania CEO & President, Karel Minor

I  joined Humane Pennsylvania (then Humane Society of Berks County) as executive director nearly twenty years ago. I had previously worked at a larger and better-funded animal shelter. But when I compared the output of the two organizations, I was surprised to find our little animal shelter did more and provided more of some services than the other, bigger shelter, despite having fewer resources.

I started comparing our numbers to other organizations. We did more adoptions annually than some big-name, nationally known shelters, and without a 7 (or 8 or 9) digit annual budget. We handled more animals annually than a nationally known animal sanctuary. Later, we discovered that we were one of only 15 or 20 non-profit, full-service veterinary hospitals in the nation- despite having only 2% to 20% of those other organizations’ annual budgets.

Necessity can be the mother of invention or an excuse to do less. Humane PA has always worked to be inventive, make the most of our limited resources, and do the most good with the donations you share. Our operations are five times bigger now. But we do more than five times as much good work. And we still outpace the quantity and quality of good work of many more prominent organizations.

Our innovative veterinary services deliver tens of thousands of client visits, surgeries, and services to animals and people from all walks of life and economic circumstances each year. Our pet food pantry distributes a couple hundred thousand pounds of food and supplies annually. We have created programs that do more and do it more effectively than places that are entirely out of our league in size and resources.

Our staff and volunteers have a lot to be proud of. We sometimes forget to crow about how much we do in our community because we are always so focused on doing more or finding the next solution. Sometimes, stopping and marveling at how much we accomplish is good. When we have our annual numbers finalized early next year, we will share them because we want you to know what we are doing for animals and people on your behalf. We also want our staff to understand how well they do compared to organizations we often look to as leaders in our work.

However, we know not to be too prideful or smug in those comparisons because we work with many organizations that do more with less than we do on our best days. We can take credit where it’s due and give it to others, bigger or smaller, too. Other organization’s innovations and ideas help us build on our own and avoid complacency. So that leads us to our plans for 2024….

Humane PA is focusing on three things:

  • Identifying and filling service and resource gaps
  • Revisiting previously intractable and unsolvable problems
  • Making giant leaps in the quality of our facilities and client experience.

These three things often overlap or reinforce each other for good or bad. So, we are identifying some new approaches that will check all three boxes, are sustainable, and serve the current needs of our community rather than past needs. These include:

  • Expanding our Spike Pet Food Pantry capacity with an audacious but achievable goal of one million pounds of pet food and supplies distributed to more communities annually.
  • Expanding our unique and uniquely effective approach to supporting community and free-roaming cats and their caretakers to end our communities’ needless cycle of death.
  • Adding community pet boarding services via our new Spike & Tilly’s Pet Resort and significantly expanding our emergency boarding program via our award-winning PetNet program.
  • Dramatically improving all aspects of our facilities and processes to ensure animals and clients have the best possible experience when they stay, visit, or engage with Humane PA.

                

These initiatives will help more animals and people, save lives, save resources, and serve as models for other organizations who might look to us for inspiration, just as we look to others for new ideas and approaches. Every year (month, day!), the world changes, and the needs of animals and people in our community change, too. You can’t be prepared for everything, but a culture of growth and innovation makes it easier to respond to the unexpected and to change paths when needs change. That path has helped us survive major economic downtowns and a pandemic.  It’s also allowed us to recognize needs and problems before they are widely recognized as such.

Being part of a culture of growth and innovation, with a focus on effectiveness and efficacy as the best path to life-saving, is some credit I will gladly accept and share with our staff, volunteers, and donors.

 

 

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BIG Changes Are Coming to Lancaster County!

August 15th, 2023 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Animal Rescue | Animal Welfare | Cat Lovers | Healthy Pets | Healthy Pets Initiative | Humane Pennsylvania | Uncategorized - (Comments Off on BIG Changes Are Coming to Lancaster County!)

Written by Karel Minor, Humane Pennsylvania President & CEO

Humane PA is very excited to share details about our next steps to deliver the most impactful services to animals and people in our community! The needs of animals and the community have rapidly changed a great deal in recent years. In the last 20 years, the number of animals entering Humane PA shelters has declined by over 85%. Shelter euthanasia has declined by 99%. These numbers reflect national statistics.

What worked in the past for animals and people is no longer needed at the same scale. It also means that some things we couldn’t do in the past because of space or resource limitations can be done now. Humane PA is focusing on three major service and quality expansions to best serve the needs of today’s animals and people.

  1. Targeted Free Roaming and Feral Cat Sterilization: While spaying/neutering was highly effective in reducing overpopulation stemming from house pets, the limited and scattershot approaches for feral and free-roaming cats have not been as successful. That’s because sterilizing a few cats from this colony and a few from that colony leaves plenty of cats behind to breed. Humane PA is now taking a different approach, based on data and models with proven success. Since February, under the leadership of free-roaming cat whisperer, Alex Young, our Healthy Pets Initiative staff have been working directly with caretakers of colonies ranging from a half dozen to a hundred cats. One colony at a time, we have been sterilizing 100% (or as close as possible) of partner-managed colonies. By sterilizing every single cat in an extremely short time frame, we ensure there are no new litters, avoid boom and death cycles, and make it possible to effectively intervene when one or two new cats move into a colony.

This targeted approach means the same number of sterilizations results in a dramatically improved overall reduction in breeding. So far we have successfully assisted fifteen colonies achieve full sterilization!  Since free-roaming cats account for a significant portion of the kittens entering our care or needing fostering, we hope and expect to see a further reduction in incoming kittens in the coming year. For the test of this approach, all colonies have been in Berks County and sterilized at the Reading Campus. Our goal is to expand this program into Lancaster and begin identifying colonies for enrollment in this invitation-only partnership in the coming year.

2. Awesome Cat and Critter Adoption Center Upgrades: 15 years ago, the Humane League of Lancaster County had a bold vision for a new cat adoption center. They even got cool artist renderings painted (see the picture below)!

But 15 years ago, it was a very different world. Far too many cats were still coming into shelters and, unfortunately,  the project never began. Until now. Humane PA has taken that original plan and expanded on it. We will be creating the adoption center our cats and the community deserve and we hope it will serve as a new standard for all shelters.

Cats have always gotten the short end of the stick. Before they came to a shelter they could roam their entire house, even the entire world if they were indoor/outdoor cats. However, in shelters, they get stuck in tiny cages. If they were lucky they got somewhat bigger cages and group rooms, but even these were smaller than ideal or lacked enrichment and mental engagement. The new cat adoption center won’t quite give them the world but it comes closer. Cats suited for group housing will have large and bright spaces with windows to the world. Cats needing to be housed alone will get triple-sized, multi-compartment caging to move around in. Research has long shown that more space for cats decreases stress, and less stress makes for healthier, happier, and more adoptable cats.

Critters will be getting an upgrade, too! They will be getting more and improved species-specific space in the new adoption center. Renovations begin in the next few weeks and we will be opening the new center within a couple of months. We are incredibly excited to finally fully realize the dream of an even better place for cats and critters to spend time while they wait for a new home.

3. Boarding Services: Over the years, the Lancaster kennel expanded to house what was once many thousands of dogs entering the shelter every year. In the past few years the number of dogs entering our shelters, and shelters nationwide, have plummeted thanks to expanded placement options, access to vet care and sterilization, and changes in our collective expectations around pet ownership. But even as options have expanded, huge gaps in services have appeared. This is especially true in the area of pet boarding. Prices have skyrocketed, often putting long-term or day boarding out of reach for many. It has become standard for boarding facilities to screen out which clients they will accept, turning away animals that don’t like play groups or have special needs.

We heard this loud and clear in a recent survey of our supporters. Over 90% of respondents said they thought there needed to be more affordable options. Over 60% of respondents told us that they had faced barriers of some type that prevented them from accessing, including cost or the health or behavioral challenges of their pets. Humane PA knows that some of these pets might end up in shelters if owners can no longer access routine boarding services. Humane PA also knows that there are few or no boarding options regularly available for emergency response, domestic violence victims, those facing health crises, and police dogs.

That’s why we began renovations to our Lancaster kennels and will soon be offering boarding services to accommodate many of these needs. Like our veterinary services, these services will be made affordable and accessible, with the ability to provide additional discounts for those in need. Although we expect to offer the type of boarding which is typical these days, we will also offer boarding services for animals who don’t do well in play groups or need quieter and calmer conditions, as well as police dogs, pets with special needs, pets requiring emergency boarding, and critters and some exotics. These populations are increasingly underserved or completely unserved. Renovations will also allow us to continue to house some of our own dogs and offer limited dog adoption services.

We know these are big changes. While the improvements for cats may resonate with you as improvements in scope and scale, the boarding services may feel very different or even alien to what is perceived as “animal sheltering”.  Although we had the kernel of an idea over a decade ago, since then several organizations around the nation have pioneered boarding programs to address the new needs of their communities to great success. These services are needed and they make a difference, whether it’s the pet of an adopter or a police dog of an officer needing to travel, the cats of someone displaced by fire, the dog of someone who is admitted to the hospital with a heart attack, or the pets of those trying to flee domestic violence

Like all the things we do for people and animals, we can do these things better and for more animals with the support and time of great volunteers like you. We look forward to sharing our progress with you and we hope that you’ll embrace these innovative steps to address today’s and tomorrow’s needs of animals and people.

 

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National Feed a Rescue Pet Week: July 24-30, 2023

July 25th, 2023 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Animal Health | Animal Rescue | Animal Welfare | Emergency Preparedness | Healthy Pets | Healthy Pets Initiative | Humane Pennsylvania - (Comments Off on National Feed a Rescue Pet Week: July 24-30, 2023)

Written by Alexandra Young, Humane Pennsylvania Community Outreach Programs Manager

National Feed a Rescue Pet Week was created by Greater Good Charities and The Animal Rescue Site in 2017 to raise awareness that food is one of the most critical supplies of animal shelters and to urge people to donate pet food to their local animal welfare organizations.  At Humane Pennsylvania (HPA), as an active partner with The Greater Good Charities GOODS Program and donors like you, we are able to provide comprehensive pet feeding programs: 

  • We feed the shelter animals an adequate and consistent diet 
  • We assist pet owners experiencing temporary hardship through Spike’s Pet Pantry
  • As the designated County Animal Response Team (CART), we provide basic supplies and food to evacuation centers so owners can stay with their pets during emergencies

Why helping pet owners matters!

I don’t like to admit it, but as an independent rescuer for decades, I became judgmental of people who struggled to give basic care to their pets. When I met pet owners who did not match my level of pet care, it was easy for me to immediately deem them as uncaring and irresponsible without knowing any further details! However, when I started working professionally in animal welfare, I met people who had the same empathy for the animals, but with far less resources. They were rescuing outside kittens, helping injured strays or inheriting pets from friends/family that can no longer care for them and sometimes, they need a little help. 

Every week at the pet pantry, volunteers and I meet wonderful pet caretakers who are deeply attached to their pets and want to do what is best for them. Just because they cannot feed their pets an optimal diet now does not mean they love the animals any less, nor does it mean they shouldn’t have those pets. For some people, their pets inspire them to get up every day, to power through pain and to think about someone other than themselves. 

When our community helps all pet owners, we keep more pets with their loving families and out of the shelters.  This, in turn, leaves more space at the shelter for the animals that really need a safe place, vet care and possibly a new family (or are reunited!). 

Years ago, Humane Pennsylvania developed the Animals on Wheels program to ensure pet owners did not sacrifice their own food for their pets. About five years ago, this transitioned to the current Spike’s Pet Pantry as part of the Healthy Pets Initiative department, operating under these principles:

  • Respect for the human-animal bond
  • Empower all pet owners by being a trusted partner, free from judgment
  • Access to accurate information and relevant services & products
  • Help pet parents make choices that improve their lives and their pets’ lives

Read more details about Spike’s Pet Pantry here: https://humanepa.org/healthypets/spikes-pet-pantry/

Feeding shelter animals is a big job!

On the flipside, the animals that do come into Humane Pennsylvania Adoption Centers (in Lancaster and Reading) are fortunate enough to benefit from our organization’s enrollment in a food program that provides the same brand and type of food to everyone. Ongoing participation in this program results in a win-win situation:

  • Much less digestive upset, associated veterinary care & expenses and stress for the shelter animals
  • Improvement in staff morale and ability to care for/handle the animals
  • Increased adoptions, resulting in more space for other needy animals

Despite today’s economic roller coaster, if you are fortunate enough to be able to feed your pets “as usual”, please consider making a pet food donation to Humane Pennsylvania.  The positive ripple effect of such a donation will directly impact our community, more than you may have realized.  Learn more about the Healthy Pets Initiative and how you give back to animals and their caretakers at HumanePA.org.

 

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Happy National Pet Appreciation Week!

June 9th, 2023 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Animal Welfare | Feel Good Story | Healthy Pets | Healthy Pets Initiative | Humane Pennsylvania | Microchipping - (Comments Off on Happy National Pet Appreciation Week!)

Written by Maggie McDevitt, Humane Pennsylvania Media Specialist

It’s National Pet Appreciation Week! Pet Appreciation Week was started by the American Veterinary Medical Association in 1981 to raise awareness of the benefits of pets in our daily lives. To celebrate, we’d like to highlight a few simple ways you can show your pet how much you appreciate them this week and support Humane Pennsylvania.

  1. Plan a Day at the Dog Park

There’s nothing more exciting to a pup than heading to the wide-open spaces of Humane Pennsylvania’s Danielle Ruiz-Murphy Dog Park, located at 503 S. Center Road (Rte. 82), Birdsboro, PA 19508. Our dog park is equipped with two large play areas; one for active dogs and one for our pups who are a little on the shy side! There is plenty of room for zoomies, and your dog will sleep soundly after a day full of play!

  1. Schedule a Check-Up

We can show our pets that we appreciate them by going the extra mile to keep them healthy and up-to-date on all of their wellness needs. You can either schedule an appointment at our full-service, nationally-accredited Humane Veterinary Hospitals or you can bring your pet to a Healthy Pets Walk-In Clinic or Pay-What-You-Can Neighborhood Clinic to get them updated on their vaccines. With a variety of services, ways and times to access them, and variable pricing, HPA is here to help keep your pets happy and healthy at home with you. During these visits, you may also opt to microchip your pet, which helps increase your pet’s chance of coming home to you, if they ever get lost.

  1. Bring Them to Baseballtown!

Did you know that Humane Pennsylvania is a proud sponsor of the Reading Fightin Phils’ Bark in the Park Nights? On select Sundays during the Summer, you and your pup can enjoy America’s favorite pastime together! The best part? We have complimentary tickets available for pickup! If you are interested in attending a Bark in the Park game, check the Fightins schedule and contact our Events & Interim Volunteer Coordinator at [email protected] or 610-750-6100, ext. 232 to reserve your tickets! All ticket requests must be made at least 48 hours before the desired game date. Tickets are first-come, first-serve. Please be sure to include your pups in your ticket count.

  1. Stock Up on Treats and Toys

What better way to show your pet that you appreciate them than showering them with new gifts that they are sure to love? Shop for some new goodies for your pet on Amazon. You can also buy some treats and toys for our shelter pets, using our Humane Pennsylvania Amazon wish list, and have your donations shipped directly to us!

  1. Have a Day Date at a mini Pints for Pups

Now through October, we have several mini Pints for Pups dates scheduled at local breweries and wineries around Berks and Lancaster Counties! These events are dog-friendly, and each event directly benefits the animals in our care! You can find a full list of 2023 mini Pints for Pups tour stops at HumanePA.org.

 

  1. Get Your Pet a Friend!

The more the merrier! Show your pet you love them by browsing our adoptable pets and bring home a new furry friend from one of our adoption centers. They’ll be so excited to have a new companion to play and snuggle with and you’ll have another pet to love and appreciate! What could be more paw-fect?

  1. Make an Honorary Donation

The perfect way to show that you appreciate your pet is by making an honorary donation to Humane Pennsylvania. Your donation will provide lifesaving services and help us find loving, forever homes for the animals in our care. You’ll be paying it forward while honoring your furry best friend in a meaningful way that helps other animals.

While every day is our chance to show how much our pets truly mean to us, Pet Appreciation Week is special because we can formally express how important our pets are, and how happy they make us. It is our chance, as humans, to repay them for being our furry best friends and for loving us unconditionally.

 

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March 28th: Respect Your Cat Day

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

Written by Alexandra Young, Humane Pennsylvania Community Outreach Programs Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Written by: Humane Pennsylvania CEO & President, Karel Minor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month!

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

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

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

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

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

What Does it Mean to Spay or Neuter Your Pet? 

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

What are the Medical Benefits of Sterilization?

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

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

How does Spay/Neuter Help our Community? 

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

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

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