As summer slowly (but surely) approaches, many of us are getting ready to enjoy some family-friendly barbecues and lively firework shows to celebrate the season. While these traditions are just what we need for this summer, we also want to be mindful of how they might frighten and become a danger to our pets. Here are some useful tips to keep your pets safe during upcoming events.

NEVER Use Fireworks Around Pets

  • Lit fireworks can be extremely dangerous to pets. Sparks from the fireworks can cause severe burns and/or trauma to the face, paws, and skin. Never use fireworks around your pets, as many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic, and other heavy metals.

Leave Pets at Home

  • While most humans enjoy summer parties, most pets do not. Loud noises, crowded areas, and unfamiliar settings can frighten pets and cause them to become stressed and disoriented. For your pet’s safety, refrain from taking them to firework festivities. Leave them at home instead, away from direct noises, in their own environment where they will feel safe.

Keep ID’s Current

  • Loud noises from fireworks and other festivities may scare your pet and cause them to escape from your yard or home if they are not safely enclosed. Be sure that your pet is always wearing a collar with an ID tag that includes: your name, current phone number, and any other relevant contact information.

Visit HumanePA.org to learn more about our Healthy Pets Initiative, which provides microchip services to keep pets safe and happy in their homes.

Beware of Hazardous Products

Create Barbeque Boundaries

  • Barbeques are a lot of fun, full of delicious foods and drinks…for humans, however, some of these items can be deadly to your pets. Be sure your pets cannot get into any alcoholic beverages.
  • Keep in mind that many human foods are not meant for pets; pet treats are always better to give your pets than human food, as human foods can cause severe digestive issues for pets. Be sure to avoid avocado, raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate, and products with the sweetener xylitol.

No Glow Jewelry for Pets

  • While it might look cute to put glow jewelry or glow sticks on your pets, the plastic and chemicals inside the tube are hazardous to pets if ingested. If your pet chews and/or swallows the plastic attachments or chemicals, they can be at risk for excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation, as well as intestinal blockage from swallowing large pieces of the plastic.

Safely Store Matches and Lighter Fluid

  • Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which, if ingested, can be hazardous to pets. Lighter fluid, meanwhile, can be irritating to your pet’s skin, and, if swallowed, can cause gastrointestinal irritation, and other issues.
  • Be sure to store all matches and lighter fluid in a safe place where pets cannot access the items by jumping or climbing.

If your pet(s) ingest a poisonous substance like the ones listed above, contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline ((800) 213-6680) immediately. Do not induce vomiting or give anything orally to your pet unless specifically directed to do so by your veterinarian.

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This week is National EMS Week! To celebrate, we wanted to shed light on some of the amazing first responders throughout Berks County and surrounding areas, as well as the animals that keep them motivated to help save lives!

First, we have Sarah Galbraith, an EMT for Western Berks Ambulance Association whose favorite companion is her cool cat, Randy Savage!

  • Tell us a little bit about you and your pet.
    • “Hello! My name is Sarah Galbraith. I’m an EMT for Western berks and I’m the proud Mom of a cute little 2-year-old cat named Randy Savage. Randy’s favorite activity is laying inside the window to watch birds and bunnies. We have to make sure our screens are properly secured at all times lol.”
  • How did you find your pet, or should I say how did your pet find you?
    • “About 2 years ago, I felt like I was stuck in a rut and usually felt very alone. I went to the local shelter to consider a pet and saw Randy. I fell in love instantly. He was found as a stray and brought in. He was sick at the time so he was separated from the other cats and he had a scar on his eye. They were guessing he was about 3 months old so he was still pretty small. I’ve always loved black cats so when I saw him, I just knew that I couldn’t leave without him. Best decision I ever made.”
  • After a long day on the job, what does your pet provide for you?
    • “My cat comes and greets me at the door when I come home no matter what time it is. This is something that sounds so minuscule but I look forward to it every day. Just hearing him run down the steps to see me always puts a smile on my face, no matter how my day went!” 
  • When you have had to deal with a more difficult call or encounter, how does your pet help you cope?
    • “My cat is generally like your stereotypical cat. Everything is on his terms. The majority of the time he just stares at us from far away, judging. But I think animals can sense our moods and know when something is off. There are days that I come home feeling so defeated and don’t want to deal with anything but then Randy comes and greets me. He’ll stick around and stay close to me. He’ll convince me to play with him and without even realizing it, I’ll start to feel better. He’ll remind me that I have to feed him so then I’ll make sure to eat as well. Caring for him reminds me to also care for myself.”
  • Have you ever experienced any animal encounters on the job?
    • “I love when there are animals on a call! Well, friendly ones at least. I find it interesting to see what kind of pets people have!”
  • Have you ever had any positive personal or professional experiences with Humane Pennsylvania/Humane Society of Berks County?
    • “I, unfortunately, have not but I look forward to their opening. I’m thinking about getting Randy a friend :).”

Next, we heard from Platoon Shift Supervisor for the City of Allentown, part-time Paramedic with the Wester Berks Ambulance Association, and dog dad to 3 amazing pups, Philip Banks!

Being part of the EMS life is harder than most can handle! You see people at perhaps the worst times in their lives — when they are extremely sick, injured, facing death, or even when they are at rock bottom. Most times the comfort you provide, besides the medicine and treatment, is all people need. When I come home from my shifts, it takes a while to unwind and clear my mind from everything that’s been encountered in my shift. I come home and before I can get the door open, my pups — Koda, Bella, and Hunter — are usually whining and crying because they can’t wait for me to come in!

As soon as the knob is turned, there are noses sticking out the crack of the door. After dinner and some playtime with the pups, it’s time for bed. They can never sleep close enough! They surround me and lay so close to me with their heads on my chest! The love and affection they provide, perhaps knowing the things I see during shifts, makes it so easy to drift off and sleep! It’s truly something I look forward to every day when I get home from work.”

We also heard from Teresa Weaver, Owner/Handler of Skip – a certified KPETS Therapy Dog. Skip provides comfort to first responders in crisis!

“Skip is a purebred Golden Retriever, born in July 2016. I’ve had Skip since he was a puppy and have been his trained KPETS handler since he was one year old. His acquired specialty is being a first responder and crisis therapy dog. Below are a few of the activities with which Skip has been involved:

  • Frequent visits to local fire, ambulance, hospitals, and police stations.
  • Crisis events for First Responders & Emergency Room Staff.
  • Community service events with fellow first responder friends.
  • Crisis response events for several high schools that have dealt with student deaths
  • Emotional support programs for at-risk youth.
  • Berks County DA Office/Children’s Alliance Forensic staff visits and special request assignments
  • Assemblies at local elementary schools with Reading Fire Department & Berks County Sheriff’s Department to help educate children on the various purposes of working dogs.

Skip does so much to bring joy to people in the community and I am so honored to be his dog mommy!”

Finally, Kristin Racis, EMT-B at Western Berks Ambulance Association, shares her favorite things about her furry companion, her dog Keeley! 

  • Tell us a little bit about your pet.
    • “Keeley. She just turned 3 years old on May 9th. Keeley is a Pitbull mix. Keeley loves being outside. Whether it is for a hike/walk, doing yard work around the house, playing, or simply just lying in the sun. As long as she is outside, she has no care in the world!”
  • How did you find your pet, or should I say how did your pet find you?
    • “I adopted Keeley my senior year of college when she was 6 months old. I found her at a rescue shelter online. They adopt and foster their dogs out to the east coast for a greater chance of a new home. They shipped Keeley to me and I picked her up in Harrisburg. Adopting Keeley was the best decision of my life. She helps me in so many aspects of life, she doesn’t even know!”
  • After a long day on the job, what does your pet provide for you?
    • “Working EMS can be a very stressful job at times. We see people in their most vulnerable state. A day or night of work can be tough. I think one of the reasons why I wake up every day and continue to serve my community and help people in need is because of my dog. She instantly gives me peace of mind and makes me forget about everything bad that happened as soon as I walk through the door. Just the instant smile, love, and happiness she provides as soon as she sees my face just lights up my world — there’s no other explanation. She is a great company. I think everyone who can, should invest in some type of animal. They really are great for emotional support.”
  • When you have had to deal with a more difficult call or encounter, how does your pet help you cope? 
    • “Dealing with difficult calls with the job and happen almost every day. Keeley helps me by distracting me. Her love, her kisses, her wanting to play and go on walks. All of this helps me clear my mind and let go of that day’s stress and worries. She greets me and jumps on me and is just so excited to see me. It’s like she hasn’t seen me in weeks! It’s another reminder that I am cared for and I am needed.”
  • Have you ever experienced any animal encounters on the job?
    • “I have not experienced any encounters on the job where an animal needed help, but have heard stories and they seem very tough.”
  • Have you ever had any positive personal or professional experiences with Humane Pennsylvania/Humane Society of Berks County? 
    • “No, I have not had any encounters at all with Humane Pennsylvania/Humane Society of Berks County but I am looking forward to visiting the new building in the future.”

Thank you to all of the first responders that put their life on the line in order to save ours! Your hard work and dedication do not go unnoticed and we’re so happy you have furry friends to help you get through the toughest of days! If you or anyone you know is in need of a companion as amazing as the few mentioned above, please visit us at https://humanepa.org/adoption/.

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Being associated with a hardworking, dedicated employee like Aida May makes us proud. Her contribution and commitment to our work are unmatched and, without her, this journey would certainly not be the same. On behalf of Humane Pennsylvania, Happy 10 Year Work Anniversary! To show our appreciation, we sat down to learn more about Aida and the impact she’s made – here’s what she had to say:

  1. What do you love most about working for The Humane League of Lancaster County?

The difference we’re able to make in people’s lives every day. It’s a different experience here. We’re able to come in and help everyone, whether it be re-homing their pet, finding them a new pet, or even situations where they come to us for resources when they’re not able to financially care for their pets for medical reasons. That’s probably the greatest thing — being able to keep the animal in their home.

  1. What keeps you motivated to do the great work you’ve been doing for the past 10 years?

I would say just seeing the difference in some of the animals that come to us, like Ned for example. I’ve seen him come in with matted hair and underweight and just not in the best condition. Now he’s 100% different. So you see these animals, whether they’re bottle baby kittens or underweight adult dogs, and the care that the team here puts into them and the general dedication from the public. It really helps and we’re able to turn it around for these animals and get them into loving homes.

  1. Are you a dog person, cat person, or critter person?

I’m a cat person for sure!

  1. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?

I would say definitely both of my first and current supervisors. Becky – she worked with me when I first started here and I had no experience. I worked in retail prior to coming here. I had pets growing up, but no experience with animal welfare, and she really molded me into what I am now. And of course, Leann. She has helped me grow so much, from working as a tech to now being in a managerial position. It’s something that I didn’t even know I could do, but she helped me grow and helped me make decisions that led to my continued growth within the organization.

  1. What’s one thing you’re learning now, and why is it important?

I’m constantly learning about the medical aspects of the shelter. That’s something that’s a pretty big passion of mine and it’s something that’s always evolving. I love working with our veterinary team and learning about why our animals are feeling certain ways and what we can do within the shelter to help them. That way in future cases, it helps me make decisions in regards to what the next step would be for the animal. Does it need immediate care? Can it wait until our veterinarian and I have a minute to calm the animal down?

  1. What do you see as your biggest accomplishment since your start with HLLC?

My biggest accomplishment would be: starting with no experience when I first came into the shelter and being able to move up within the organization. I started as a temp in the front office, left for a little bit when I had my first child and then I was hired back, full-time, as an animal care technician. I was a tech for a few years and now I’ve worked my way into a supervisory role with the rest of our team. I’m always amazed by how far I’ve come within the organization. It’s a great organization, and I love that we’re able to see people grow within it.

  1. What’s one of your favorite Humane Pennsylvania memories from the past year?

Hmm, from within this past year? This has definitely been a crazy year but I would say, even with Covid-19, we were still able to help with transports from hoarding situations and we were able to work alongside other locations. I love that we were able to make a difference despite COVID and still keep the ball rolling. We continued helping our community and anywhere else that it was needed.

  1. Do you have a favorite animal at the shelter currently? If so, who?

My favorite would have to be Vincenzo! He is an FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) positive cat that has been with us for a little while. He came to us after a caretaker outside of the shelter noticed that he had some pretty severe wounds and his eyes were not in the best condition. I really loved watching him come around. He was so shy when he first got here and now he just makes biscuits everywhere. I love him. He’s so sweet and, after months of medical care, he’s finally ready for adoption.

  1. What’s a task you love doing around the shelter?

I would say anything that involves being hands-on with my team. They’ll typically call me when we have cats that are a little bit harder to handle. I love working with the team. I spend a lot of time in my office, with paperwork and stuff to do, but being able to help them when they’re giving vaccines or just giving them an extra hand with anything, in general, makes me happy.

  1. What three words would your coworkers use to describe you?

I would say compassionate and understanding and patient.

  1. What’s one fun fact about you that we might not already know?

I own a pretty wide variety of animals. Of course, I have my cats and I have a couple of dogs. I have an axolotl, which is a Mexican Walking fish. I have guinea pigs and beta fish as well.

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