Bunny Basics: Pet Care Tips

February 25th, 2019 | Posted by Karel Minor in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

by Dr. Misha Neumann, Humane Veterinary Hospitals Lancaster

Rabbits are growing in popularity as pets due to their compact size and social natures. While they may seem to be the perfect pet for an apartment or tight city living, rabbits can need some big time care. Here are some basic dos and don’ts when considering taking a bunny into your home.

Room to Roam

Pet stores will sell rabbits as an all in one package including a cage, water bottle and food. While this is a good starting point, rabbits do best with some space to roam around in. This can be easily done by buying or building an exercise pen. You can also litter train your bunny, so they can have free access to roam.

If you are doing this, however, be sure to go through your living space very carefully to make sure there are no exposed wires, foreign objects to chew on, or places to get stuck in. If you are going to stick with a cage, make sure it has a solid surface as grated cages can cause damage to a bunny’s feet. Also, please keep your rabbit indoors as they are not suited to the extreme temperature changes.

Healthy Habits

In terms of diet, rabbits are strict herbivores with constantly growing teeth. Their diet should consist of primarily hay (Timothy or Orchard Grass are best, NOT Alfalfa). Hay is THE BEST food to wear down constantly growing teeth. Next, your rabbit should be fed a wide assortment of fresh veggies and dark leafy greens. Lastly, they can get a small amount of pellets per day (usually no more than 1/8 of a cup).

When choosing pellets, stay away from the party mixes that have brightly colored treats in them. These are just junk food!

Rabbits are relatively clean creatures and do not need bathing. They can often benefit from regular nail trims and occasional brushing to remove excess fur, especially during season changes. If you notice soft stools in the cage or stuck to your bunny’s bottom, call your veterinarian as this may be a sign of a potentially life threatening condition!

Hopefully, this has provided you with some basic information on rabbits. If you would like to continue your research, www.rabbit.org is a good place to start, as well as contacting your veterinarian.

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The Power of an Invisible Cape

February 18th, 2019 | Posted by Karel Minor in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

by Leann Quire, Director of Shelter Operations, Humane Pennsylvania

“I don’t know how you do it.” “How do you not take them all home?” “I couldn’t work there, it would make me too sad.” These are common comments shelter staff hear when a family, friend, or even stranger finds out where they work. There are so many people who want to work with animals in shelters, but surprisingly a few actually know what it is like to work in an animal shelter.

Every shelter is different, but at Humane Pennsylvania if you are an Animal Care Technician or Adoption Counselor then you are working directly with the public to facilitate adoptions and assist with the intake of surrender and stray animals. The Adoption Counselors provide wonderful care to the clients and perform a plethora of administrative work to ensure paperwork is in order and our clients are getting the best experience. Our Animal Care Technicians consist of…

  • Kennel Technicians
  • Adoption Technicians
  • Clinic Technicians

Everyone works to provide the best possible care to each animal that comes through our door seven days a week, 365 days a year. Through blizzards, floods, and blistering heat.

Each morning brings lots of cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning. Our kennel technicians are busy throughout the day making sure the animals have a clean kennel to stay in, fresh food and water, and that surrounding areas are also clean to prevent spread of disease and make sure our public has a nice space to meet their future furry loves. Our Adoption Counselors are busy in the morning making sure our lobby is clean and ready for a new day of what we hope brings lots of adoptions. This, you probably knew though.

But, did you know our staff also assists our veterinarians to catch sicknesses and medical issues with the animals? How about actually medicating them? Maybe you thought that was our wonderful vet staff, but the day to day medical care of the shelter animals is usually performed by our shelter staff employees. A typical day for a clinic technician may involve entering veterinary exams, assisting with veterinary exams, administering medications, fluids and treatments, and counseling the public on what medications their new family member needs in order to go home.

The adoption technicians perform vaccinations at intake to prevent spread of disease and they also are in charge of reviewing intake notes and using their experience and training to identify any potential behavior or medical concerns. They are working with the animals to observe behavior information that will hopefully aid in better matchmaking.

Unfortunately euthanasia can also be a part of a shelter workers day. Our staff provide end of life services for the animals of owners who made the difficult decision that it is time. They also provide euthanasia for animals who are surrendered to the shelter and are sick and suffering or exhibiting dangerous behaviors. The staff goes through training to become compassionate and experienced euthanasia technicians so they can be a kind and calm presence. This skill, along with all of the other daily stresses the staff face can bring emotional and physical fatigue. It is an everyday reality that shelter staff burn out because, despite devoting their lives to helping animals, they sometimes cannot handle the secondary traumatic stress they are exposed to when frequently caring for animals who were abandoned, neglected, or need to be euthanized.

Our staff do it all.

  • They are therapists who listen to the client who just had their 16 year old dog pass away and is heartbroken and unsure if they are ready to open their home again and need some advice.
  • They are counselors and matchmakers working to pair the wonderful families in our communities with deserving animals looking for their forever home.
  • They are nurses who have helped thousands of animals who were seriously ill to make a complete transformation and go to their new home, happy and healthy.
  • They are dog trainers who teach the jumpy dog on the adoption floor how to “sit” so the potential adopter is impressed and invites Fido to come home with them.
  • They are some of the strongest people I know because they work in an environment that pushes them to their emotional and physical limits and encourages them to develop the mental strength and health to continue working in the field.

I could go on, and on, and on. Basically, shelter workers are ever day rock stars. They work hard to give the animals who come through our door the love and care they deserve. Next time you wonder how a shelter staff member works where they do, know that it is because they wear an invisible cape and are driven from their internal passion to help the animals in your community, and I am sure they would love to hear, “I am SO glad you do what you do.” To learn more about the work and passion of our team, visit HumanePA.org.

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Cold Weather Pet Care Tips

February 11th, 2019 | Posted by Karel Minor in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

by Lindsay High, Director of Marketing, Humane Pennsylvania

Winter weather can bring about increased risks for your pets. When the temperatures drop pets are at a higher risk of experiencing hypothermia and/or freezing if left outside without adequate shelter for an extended period of time. These useful tips will help keep your pets, warm, happy, and safe during the winter months.

Provide Adequate Shelter

  • Like humans, pets like to be warm and cozy during the winter. If you have pets that primarily live outdoors during other seasons, they should be brought indoors when sub-freezing temperatures arrive.
    For community cats and other outdoor pets, provide adequate shelter that faces away from the wind with a covered doorway. The shelter should be insulated, dry, and draft-free. The shelter should also be large enough to allow them to move about comfortably, and small enough to maintain their body heat.
  • Be sure to keep outdoor pets hydrated and well-fed. Ensure these pets are provided with fresh, unfrozen, water that is changed frequently. Warm bedding should also be provided. Hay or straw, as well as cozy pet beds, warm blankets, and pillows are recommended.
    Outdoor pets burn more calories and need more food as keeping warm depletes energy. During the winter months, use plastic food and water bowls as a pet’s tongue can get stuck to metal.
  • Pennsylvania state law governs that companion animals must have access to sanitary shelter which preserves body heat and keeps the pet dry. If a dog is tethered outdoors, which refers to the practice of fastening a dog to a stationary object or stake, usually in the owner’s backyard, as a means of keeping the animal under control. These terms do not refer to the periods when an animal is walked on a leash.
    If a dog is tethered outdoors, the law states that the dog should not be tethered for more than 9 cumulative hours within a 24 hour period. The tether is secured to a well-fitting collar with a swivel and by a tether of no less than 10 feet or three times the length of the dog. The dog has access to water and an area of shade. The dog is not tethered for longer than 30 minutes when the temperature is over 90 degrees or under 32 degrees.
    These standards must be met in order for the assumption to be made that the dog has not been neglected. If the dog is not tethered in a manner that satisfies these requirements, a law enforcement officer may file neglect charges. – Act 10 of 2017 Limits the Continuous Tethering of Dogs in Pennsylvania

Check Your Vehicle

  • Cats and other wildlife may seek shelter from the cold winter weather by crawling in to the wheel well or under the hood of your vehicle. Your vehicle provides a warm place for the animal, however, this can be a very dangerous location for them.
    – Bang on your hood and honk your horn before starting the engine in order to awaken any animals and give them the opportunity to escape the vehicle before for you pull away.

Keep their Skin Clean

  • Salt and chemicals from ice melt can irritate your pet’s skin and paws. Following your winter stroll, thoroughly wash and dry any exposed areas of skin with clean water to remove any potential irritants from the belly, paw pads, and between the toes.
    – Monitor exposed skin, such as the nose, ears, paws, and belly for and belly for signs of irritation and prolonged redness, lasting longer than 24 hours. You can also protect your pet’s sensitive skin with a warm pet jacket or sweater. Prior to taking your dog for a walk, apply a layer of petroleum jelly to your dog’s paw pads. This will act as a barrier and help protect their pads from salt and other irritants. Dog booties are also a great option to protect their pads from winter irritants.

Protect Against Poisons

  • Many common household products are poisonous to your pets. Spills and leaks from vehicle can be especially dangerous. Coolant and antifreeze, for example, have a sweet taste that can attract your pet. However, these products can be deadly if ingested.
    – Effectively clean up all vehicle spills to ensure your pets does not come in contact with these toxic materials.

Keep ID Current

  • During the winter months, snow and ice can mask familiar scents that would help a lost pet find their way home. Be sure your pet is always wearing a collar with accurate contact information and keep them on a leash during walks.
    – Have your pet microchipped to increase the likelihood that they will be returned to you safely if a separation were to occur.

Watch the Temperature Gauge

  • Limit your pet’s exposure to the outdoors, for example, reduce duration of walks and leave your pets outside for quick bathroom breaks and for short burst of exercise.
  • Also, senior pets may have a particularly hard time keeping warm in cold temperatures and may not be able to manage cold weather hazards, such as ice, with the same agility as a younger pets.

See Something, Say Something

  • Speak out if you see an unsheltered or inadequately sheltered pet. Dropping temperatures can be deadly.
    – Contact your local police or animal control agency if you see an animal that needs help.
    In Berks County Contact: To report suspected Animal Cruelty call, the Animal Rescue League at 610-373-8830
    In Lancaster County Contact: To report suspected Animal Cruelty, call the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office at 717-917-6979
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There is often confusion regarding the various animal welfare organizations in Pennsylvania with similar names and sometimes overlapping missions. Each year after the Super Bowl, someone asks me why some nasty group bought an advertisement harassing us, “the humane society”,and I have to explain it’s a different group that has nothing to do with Humane Pennsylvania. We just have similar names. So, Humane Pennsylvania has prepared this simple explanation of the “Who’s Who” of Pennsylvania’s animal welfare organizations.

Humane Pennsylvania (us!):

Humane Pennsylvania was founded in 1900 and is a locally operated, staffed, and funded charitable organization. Originally the Humane Society of Berks County and the Humane League of Lancaster County, Humane Pennsylvania changed its name to reflect the larger service impact of the organization following the merger of these two local organizations in 2014. We directly house nearly 5,000 animals a year and help tens of thousands more through community services. We are your local “boots on the ground.”

In Berks and Lancaster Counties, we…

  • Have two animal shelters, two nationally accredited public animal veterinary hospitals, a public dog park, an equine rescue facility, a national management services and training division, and a charitable foundation.
  • Receive no tax subsidies and no funding from any national animal groups such as HSUS or the ASPCA.
  • Are not part of, managed by or controlled by any national organization.
  • We advocate for issues and legislation, we do not engage in electioneering.
  • If you live in Berks or Lancaster County, we are your “boots on the ground.”

Other local organizations:

Across Pennsylvania there are many local humane societies, SPCA’s, rescue leagues, and other organizations with similar sounding names. Despite having similar names, they are not related to one another or any national groups. These are all independent local organizations working to help animals in their local communities, with local boards of directors and local staff and donors, just like Humane Pennsylvania. These are their own community’s “boots on the ground.”

Federated Humane Societies of Pennsylvania:

Federated is the statewide member organization of over 65 animal shelters (like us and the others mentioned above). Through 2018 it oversaw Humane Society Police Officer training and continuing education in Pennsylvania (and hopes to continue under the upcoming RFP). Its volunteer board of directors represents animal shelters from across the state. It is the Federation of all the “boots on the ground” organizations across Pennsylvania and represents the broadest voice of local constituencies across the state.

Humane Society of the United States (HSUS):

HSUS is a national animal advocacy organization based in Washington, DC and Hagerstown, Maryland. It operates no animal shelters in Pennsylvania. It is not affiliated with any local organization and does not directly or regularly fund any local organization. It employs a State Director, who serves as its issue advocate in Harrisburg, but she does not represent or speak for any local animal welfare organization (very often, but not always, local organizations are in agreement with HSUS positions). Although they are often considered interchangeable with “the humane society” and even use @humanesociety.org for their email, HSUS is not your local organization.

Humane PA PAC (Political Action Committee):

Humane PA PAC is a political action committee. It has both out of state and in state animal advocates involved and engaged in election work as well as issue advocacy. It operates no shelters and provides no direct animal services. It is not in any way associated with Humane Pennsylvania (us!), the animal welfare and sheltering organization. It merely has a similar name.

ASPCA, Best Friends, American Humane Association:

There are many out of state animal organizations such as these. Some provide animal sheltering and services in other states and some are issue advocacy organizations. None have local animal service locations in Pennsylvania and none directly operate, fund or are affiliated with any local Pennsylvania organizations.

One thing is really important to remember:

No other organization gives us money! Please don’t think you are supporting your local shelter when you support a national group. These national groups often do great and important work. We often work with them to pass legislation. We provide training for and to them. But donations don’t flow to us from them.

Local, regional, and national groups are all important, but they are all different. I hope that clears up any Super Bowl confusion. To learn more about the direct animal welfare programs and services we provide the communities we serve, visit HumanePA.org.

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