by Tawny Kissinger, Lifesaving Programs Coordinator, Humane Pennsylvania

Humane Pennsylvania provides several focused lifesaving programs. One of these programs is our Bottle Baby Kitten Program. The program was developed to provide resources to care takers that are caring for orphaned kittens that are too you to be adopted. Young kittens that are separated from their mother sadly are unlikely to survive on their own without assistance.

Did you know?

  • Kittens under 4 weeks of age need kitten formula. Our Bottle Baby Kitten Kits come complete with a can of kitten formula. Never feed your kitten cow’s milk! Cow’s milk can cause diarrhea, which could quickly dehydrate a kitten.
  • The greatest single danger to bottle baby kittens is hypothermia or getting cold. Between 0-4 weeks kittens are unable to control their body temperature. This is why we include a rice sock in our Bottle Baby Kitten Kits. Having a warm rice sock in the kitten’s enclosure will help them stay warm.
  • Handling kittens regularly is important to socialize them. Kittens under 4 weeks of age should only be handled for 5-10 minutes at a time. Too much handling at one time can be stressful.

As part of Humane Pennsylvania’s Bottle Baby Kitten Program, we offer care takers of unweaned kittens a helpful kitten kit. This free Bottle Baby Kitten Kit is available to any community members that are seeking insights for how to best nurse and care for unweaned kittens.

Bottle Baby Kitten Kit: Unboxing Video

Visit HumanePA.org to learn more about this and other lifesaving programs, or contact Lifesaving Programs Coordinator, Tawny Kissinger at tkissinger@humanepa.org.

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by Leann Quire, Director of Shelter Operations, Humane Pennsylvania

Last week, Deb Dreisbach won the American Red Cross Animal Rescue Hero award. Each year the American Red Cross awards this honor to either an animal who protected a human in a time of need, or an individual who protected an animal from pain or suffering. This year the award went to an amazing individual and we want to take the time to congratulate this beautiful person who has helped our organization to save numerous lives, and is continuing to save more and more lives in our community.

Deb, or Debbie as many of us refer to her by, worked at the Humane Society of Berks County in 2007 and assisted as a front office employee. As an employee, Debbie was able to get a full view of what went on in an animal shelter. Over a decade ago, I can tell you that it wasn’t a pretty place. Debbie was upset to see that many animals were being euthanized at that time and there was just not enough space for the ones that kept coming in and needed help, especially cats. Being the compassionate and intelligent person she is, Deb knew that more needed to be done to stop the flow of animals from entering the shelter in the first place.

Knowing the importance of spay and neuter, Debbie worked with No Nonsense Neutering and found a location in Reading, at 1500 Frush Valley Road, for a high-volume spay and neuter clinic. She became a board member for No Nonsense Neutering and played an active role to make sure they helped become a part of the solution to increase spay and neuter in Berks County and decrease animal intakes in the shelters.

Debbie became the go-to person for feral and kitten assistance and advice. She created a barn home program that helped relocate numerous feral cats escape euthanasia and find their way out of the shelter and into alternative placement housing. Although she is no longer a Humane Pennsylvania employee, Debbie is frequently a friendly and welcoming face we still see around our veterinary hospital and shelter in Berks.

Whether she is at a vet appointment, picking up a three legged foster, transporting a feral to their new home, or performing feral cat workshops with our staff, Debbie is still an integral part of our organization. As someone who has had the pleasure of knowing Debbie for over a decade, I can attest that Debbie is beautiful inside and out. She always has a story about her adventures with trapping that will make you laugh until your side hurts, but the next minute she can have you in tears with how she managed to save an animal that anyone else would have thought was not able to be saved.

She is purely a good human.

I was fortunate to attended two different conferences over the past few months, which allowed me to be in the same room as hundreds of other animal welfare professionals, people with similar passions and dreams. It made me realize how important it is to appreciate those around you, fighting the same fight. At these conferences I watched connections happen between complete strangers who knew nothing about the other person, yet knowing that one of them had a specific need to help animals, and the other person had a solution to that problem, was enough to bring the two together.

The great relationship between Debbie Dreisbach and our organization has created so many lifesaving opportunities for animals of all sorts. A shared goal and innate desire to help others is what sets a foundation to move forward together.

Jim Stovall said,

“You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.”

This is a very moving statement, because in animal welfare we all share many of the same goals and too often we forget we are all in it for the same reason. If we can lift each other up, support one another, and work together, then we can do more and better things.

Debbie Dreisbach, you have been an employee, rescue partner, foster, and best of all, friend to Humane Pennsylvania for over a decade. We are so thankful to have someone like you in the community to help the people and animals have better lives. We are so proud of you and want to congratulate you on your well-deserved American Red Cross Animal Rescue Hero award.

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by Karel Minor, President & CEO, Humane Pennsylvania

What’s the one thing that people could do that would save more animals’ live every year more than anything else? Microchip identification.

More animals die in animal shelters each year based on being unidentified strays than for any other reason. Fundamentally, any animal that enters a shelter as a stray and doesn’t get back into its owner’s arms swiftly faces a huge risk. No matter the reason it is ultimately killed – lack of space, illness, behavior – the original cause is that it didn’t go home.

Dogs are far more likely to be reclaimed as stray by their owners for two reasons:

  1. They are more likely to wear a collar with some form of ID or license.
  2. When your dog runs off, you are more likely to call the local shelter or police soon after.

Even with these two factors, shelters are lucky to have 20% of stray dogs claimed by their owners. So only 1 in 5 of the hundreds and thousands of stray dogs being picked up in Berks County each year get back to an original owner.

For cats it is even worse, with a typical owner claim rate of 1-2%. That’s because cats rarely have collars and ID (the old “I don’t want my cat strangled on a collar” line is darling, since apparently people would rather their cats die in an animal shelter) and because people tend to think a cat can wander off for a day or two, or seven, before calling a shelter or local police. In that time a stray cat has likely already faced death or been adopted in a shelter.

But cats and dogs who have identification have completely the opposite outcome, with 90% or more getting returned to owners. The simple act of giving your pet ID could save its life and save the lives of other animals in a shelter by not taking up precious space for days or weeks as an unidentified stray.

There is no easier way to identify your pet than with a tiny, safe, cheap microchip implanted under its skin and registering that chip with a national database. It can’t lose a chip like it can a collar. Every shelter, and most police departments, now have universal scanners. Most microchips come with free registration of your name and address. All vets and most shelters offer microchipping services.

Universal microchipping could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of pets each year in American shelters. We believe this is the single most important thing you can do to avoid preventable death of your pet. That’s why we incorporated it into our groundbreaking Healthy Pets, Healthy Communities initiative as a cornerstone of the program. It’s why we microchip every pet adopted from us.

In fact, we think it’s so important we have made it free to all. Humane Pennsylvania and our animal hospitals started providing all clients’ pets with free registered microchips. Zero charge.

All vet clients will be offered a free chip during a regularly scheduled exam, treatment or surgery. Any client utilizing our newly expanded ultra-low cost sterilization services gets a free chip during surgery.

At any of our Healthy Pets, Healthy Communities free microchip clinics, microchips are offered to all for no charge. When our new Berks County shelter is built and operating, we will be working on a program to allow for walk-ins to receive on demand microchip services.

Our goal is to implant an additional 20,000 microchips in Berks County pets (as part of our recent Giorgi Family Grant) in the next three years, with the greater goal of ensuring that 100% of Berks and Lancaster County eventually have microchip identification.We project that increased microchipping will result in fewer strays lingering in shelters because their owners can be identified.

The closer to universal we can get adoptions of this type of ID, the fewer and fewer the number of unclaimed strays will be. That will free up space for truly homeless animals. It will decrease the burden on animal control agencies. It will decrease costs for municipal and state governments.

And it will save lives. Lots and lots of lives.

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