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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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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Preventing Heartworm Disease In Dogs

April 12th, 2022 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Animal Health | Healthy Pets | Heartworm in Dogs | Heartworm Prevention | Humane Veterinary Hospitals - (Comments Off on Preventing Heartworm Disease In Dogs)
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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