By Tawny Kissinger | Lifesaving Programs Coordinator at Humane Pennsylvania

We love our foster care volunteers and it is because of their compassion, kindness, and patience that our Foster Care Program continues to thrive. However, we are always looking for new foster families to become involved!

Foster families provide a lifesaving second chance to animals in need and foster animals range from; puppies and kittens too young to go up for adoption, animals recovering from surgery, those who find the shelter environment difficult to adjust to, etc. and include cats, dogs, and small animals.

The summer months bring about an increased need for fostering, so we sat down with Tawny Kissinger, Lifesaving Programs Coordinator at Humane Pennsylvania, to learn more about how foster families provide valuable care to foster pets throughout our community.

HPA: For those who are not familiar with the program, what is the Foster Care Program?

TK: The Foster Care Program facilities animal care as they transition from the shelter to stay in a person’s home. This length of stay varies depending on the reason for fostering. Animals are placed in foster care for a variety of reasons, which include…

  1. An animal has an extreme medical condition that prevents us from placing them up for adoption at that specific time.
  2. They are too small to receive spay or neuter surgery.
  3. An animal needs socialization.
  4. They need time to decompress, outside of the shelter environment.

HPA: Why is this a significant program for our organization?

TK: Without the Foster Care Program the shelter would become over crowded. This would cause one of two outcomes…

  1. Animals would be euthanized due to overcrowding or…
  2. We would not be able to accept animals that are in need.

During the summer months foster care is most needed. We see tons of kittens come into our shelters that are too small to receive spay or neuter surgery. Without the care of foster families and individuals in our foster care program, a majority of these kittens would not be properly cared for.

HPA: Who benefits from this program?

TK: Both animals and people benefit greatly from our Foster Care Program! Foster parents see the direct impact they have on the pets in their care – as they help us save animal’s lives.

Studies show that animals that go into foster care have a higher chance of being adopted. The animals are in a less stressful environment and typically show their true colors. The Foster Care Program also benefits adopters. Adopters are provided with a greater understanding of how their new pet will adapt to living in a home setting.

HPA: What is the goal of the program?

TK: The ultimate goal of our Foster Care Program is to save animals lives and help them be happier, healthier pets.

HPA: How can people get involved with the program?

TK: Fostering is easy! If someone is interested in fostering they can start by filling out the Foster Volunteer Application. Or they can stop by either The Humane League of Lancaster County or The Humane Society of Berks County shelter locations to complete the foster volunteer application.

As an organization we are continuing to improve our Foster Care Program. I would love to see more and more animals transition into foster homes. This type of focused care greatly helps animals that are stressed or are experiencing anxiety within the shelter environment.

Right now, our foster program is concentrated on kittens that are under age, however, I would love to see more adult animals receive foster care. So far this year, we have transitioned about 240 animals in to foster care from both shelters.

This is a great success, however, we are always looking to grow our Foster Care Program and connect new foster parents with animals in need of their special kind of TLC.

To learn more about our Foster Care Program and ways you can get involved, visit the Foster Care page of our website or contact Tawny Kissinger, tkissinger.humanepa@gmail.com or in Berks County call, 610-921-2348 ext. 218, or in Lancaster County call, 717-393-6551 ext. 240.

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By Jennifer Wiese, Lead Veterinary Technician |Humane Pennsylvania

Patients being taken to the receiving area

I recently had the opportunity to volunteer with a nonprofit veterinary program called RAVS. The Rural Area Veterinary Services is an outreach program that combines community service, veterinary care and mentorship to bring free pet care services to underserved rural communities.

In these communities, poverty and geographic isolation make regular veterinary care inaccessible. RAVS focuses on wellness care where spaying and neutering are extremely important. They also provide intestinal parasite control, preventative medications and vaccinations, soft tissue surgeries (tumor removal, hernia repair) and urgent care issues.

My particular trip was located at White Mountain on the Apache Tribe reservation in Arizona. The majority of the community is living at or below poverty level. Often these clinics are their only source for veterinary care for their pets. The majority of the team was made up of veterinary students, as the program is geared towards those seeking certification in veterinary care. We had seven RAVS staff veterinarians and technicians and about thirteen volunteers comprised of; veterinarians, licensed, and unlicensed technicians.

The clinic ran for seven days. Day 1 was travel, set up and orientation. Day 2-6 was surgery and wellness clinic and day 7 was wellness clinic, tear down and travel. My days started at 6:00am or earlier and the day ended at 10:00pm. During this particular clinic we saw a total of 589 patients and performed over 200 surgeries.

Early each morning, clients would line up outside of the facility in order to be sure that their pets were scheduled for spay or neutering services. This list would quickly fill up and sometimes clients had several pets in need of care.

Rosie on her way home

Unfortunately, the majority of the patients we saw were immune compromised making it impossible for the animal to fight infectious diseases. Mange and tick disease were prevalent as most of the pets that were brought to us live outside 24hrs a day, 7 days a week. During the day they roam the reservation returning home at night. Because so many of the pets were unneutered or not spayed, I expected to see more aggression among them or toward us, but that was not the case.

I found it interesting that some pets were anxious about entering the building or walking on the smooth floors but realized many have never experienced being indoors. However, most pets were very sweet and were happy to be handled and shown attention.

Part of my responsibility was to help the students but I also learned important things myself…

While being a vet tech can be difficult in the face of neglect or improper care, it is important not to judge pet owners in these circumstances.

Worked along side these very talented professionals

Proper care can be many miles away if available at all and many find it financially difficult to provide proper veterinary care for their pets. Additionally, I learned how to come together with “strangers” to install and prepare an efficiently run clinic with the common goal of providing a desperately needed service to that area of the US. I have been asked to volunteer again and look forward to the opportunity to serve in a capacity that will enrich my skills, both in veterinary care and good will.

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By Lindsay High, Director of Marketing | Humane Pennsylvania

Recently team members from Humane Pennsylvania were invited to join other animal welfare advocates, community leaders, and government officials at a reception hosted by Governor Tom Wolf in celebration of the one year anniversary of the signing of Act 10: Animal Abuse Statute Overhaul bill or more popularly known as – Libre’s Law.

A year ago, in July 2017, an anonymous rescuer visited a farm in the Quarryville, PA and found a puppy in dire need of medical attention. The rescuer convinced the farmer to surrender the puppy.

Saved from deplorable conditions, the courageous 7-week old pup was barely distinguishable and covered with skin irritations and maggots. The puppy was within hours of death, suffering from extreme neglect and struggling to survive. Following extensive medical care, the puppy was treated and began to recover from his ordeal.

Janine Guido, from Speranza Animal Rescue, named him Libre — Spanish for “liberty,” since he was rescued on Independence Day. Following an investigation the farmer and breeder was tried and convicted.

Now a year later, Libre is a lively, healthy dog who’s fight to survive inspires countless animal welfare organizations, advocates, and animal lovers to continue to demand change.

“I want to thank Libre and we are here to celebrate him. Because of him we have celebrated a really good year in Pennsylvania. Let me just name four things; a year with stronger protections for our pets and our animals, and a year with harsher penalties for those that would harm an animal, a year where we have a better and more humane Pennsylvania. ” – Governor Tom Wolf

Karel Minor, CEO and President of Humane Pennsylvania highlited that Humane Pennsylvania played a key role in bringing forth additional improvements to the law in order to enact the most comprehensive animal protection bill in the history of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. With impassioned conviction and in association with the Federated Humane Society of America, we mobilized our supporters, community members, and government officials to push for changes to the law. In alignment with the Act 10 bill, many other anti-cruelty provisions have been enacted.

“Most people do not realize that before this law was passed, veterinarians could be sued for reporting animal cruelty and Humane Society Officers could also be sued for enforcing animal cruelty laws.” – Karel Minor, CEO and President, Humane Pennsylvania

Over the course of the past year, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other humane organizations have partnered with Humane Police Offices, state and local police agencies, and legal authorities to provide training on Act 10. We are beginning to see the impact of the new law through these training programs, increased prosecutions, and trials for misdemeanor and felony charges, and sentences with appropriate penalties.

We are now shifting gears to the Animals in Distress, also called the “Hot Cars” bill. This bill includes all distress situations such as extreme weather conditions, tangled collar, etc. This is another opportunity for us to push great legislation through to become law. Please make the call to your state senator and ask them to Vote Yes on House Bill 1216.

This bill has two of three necessary considerations before final passage. Find your legislator now. We need to protect distressed dogs and cats in motor vehicles by allowing law enforcement to remove unattended pets without liability for damages.”

Following remarks by Governor Wolf and other advocates, Libre was celebrated by all of those in attendance and even enjoyed what we can only assume was a delicious pup cake!

Learn more about Libre’s Law and the importance of the impact of House Bill 1216, the Hot Car bill, and contact your legislator today.

In the insightful words of world renowned Primatologist, Jane Goodall, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

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